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Not All Roses

L.A.'s Flower Market redevelopment by Brooks + Scarpa is moving forward
The Los Angeles City Planning Commission has okayed the redevelopment of the city's Southern California Flower Market by local firm Brooks + Scarpa Architects. The most significant changes to the four-acre plot include the addition of a 15-story tower that will cut into the existing flower market building. The 205-foot tower is segmented into three areas that will each be topped with a roof deck. It will house over 300 residential units and almost 64,000 square feet for the wholesale market. Brooks + Scarpa is weaving pedestrian walks throughout the property and adding flower murals to the street levels to thematically unify the development. It's L.A., so of course, there will be parking, almost 700 spaces total. The asphalt expanse will be hidden by apartments on the Maple Avenue side, and screened in along Wall Street, per the city's Downtown Design Guide. Construction on the $170 million project is expected to begin this year and extend through 2022. To keep the market open, vendors will be moved twice, once into the south building and again to the north building while each respective structure is renovated. The proposed development, slated for a nearly four-acre property bounded by 7th Street, Wall Street, and Maple Avenue, would replace a portion of the existing Flower Market—an approximately 185,000-square-foot building—with a mixed-use 15-story tower featuring:
  • 323 residential units, including 32 to be priced for moderate-income households
  • 64,363 square feet of office space
  • 63,785 square feet of wholesale market space
  • 4,385 square feet of retail space
  • 13,420 square feet of good and beverage space
  • 21,295 square feet of event space
  • 681 parking spaces located in above- and below-grade levels
The Flower Market's north building, spanning approximately 206,517 square feet, will be retained and renovated as part of the project. Brooks + Scarpa will include a series of ground-level pedestrian passageways cutting through the property. The main tower would be broken into three cascading volumes, each capped by terrace decks. Plans also call for an array of exterior finishes including metal, glass, and possibly stone or precast concrete. Above-grade parking levels would be masked by residential units along Maple Avenue and screened, in accordance with the standards of the Downtown Design Guide along Wall Street. In voting to approve the project, the Planning Commission also rejected two appeals of its vesting tentative tract map. The first was submitted by American Florists Exchange, the owner and operator of the neighboring Los Angeles Flower Market, which argued that the introduction of residents into the Flower District could create a conflict with existing industrial uses. A staff report to the Commission indicates that both flower markets are engaged in private discussions and the appeal was filed to preserve the appellants' right to contest the project as it proceeds to the city's approval process. A representative of American Florists Exchange noted that her client was supportive of the neighboring development, with the caveats that the project should be designed to buffer future residents from early-morning noise at the Flower Market and that vehicular access to Wall Street should be maintained during and after construction. The second appeal, filed by the coalition of construction labor unions known as CREEDLA, argued that the project's environmental impact report does not sufficiently consider noise and air quality. The Southern California Flower Market's history dates to 1909, when it was founded by a collective of Japanese-American flower growers at 421 S. Los Angeles Street, before moving to its current location in 1912. The age of the market's existing facilities has been described as the primary impetus behind the project; a motion authored by City Councilmember Jose Huizar called the two buildings "functionally obsolete." But rather than seek a new home outside of Los Angeles city limits, the proposed development would allow for the Flower Market to be retrofitted, with pertinent commercial uses to ensure its long-term viability. In voting to approve the project and deny both appeals, the Commission attached conditions that the project's proposed mural would not count towards the developer's obligation to provide public art and that a portion of the parking should be made ready for electric vehicle charging. Additionally, Commissioners voted to require that all above-grade parking be fully screened from view—a condition that has been placed on several other projects that have recently gone before the body. Project entitlements will next be considered by the City Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee. The Flower Market project sits across Maple Avenue from a surface parking lot where developer Realm Group has obtained entitlements to build a 33-story apartment tower and across 7th Street from the 649 Lofts and Flor 401 Lofts—two permanent supportive housing projects now being built by Skid Row Housing Trust.
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The Spaceship has Landed

DS+R's Olympic Museum rises and twists with anodized aluminum
The United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum, located in the southwest corner of downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado, is being constructed as a 60,000-square-foot curatorial and event facility celebrating American Olympians. The project, designed by New York's Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), with architect-of-record Anderson Mason Dale, was inspired by the movement of athletes; the massing propels upward with shingled anodized aluminum panels and visually rests on a podium of glass curtainwall. DS+R first unveiled their design concept for the project in 2015, broke ground in 2017, and is on track for completion in 2020.
  • Facade Manufacturer MG McGrath Alucoil Oldcastle Building Envelope Viracon
  • Architect Diller Scofidio + Renfro Anderson Mason Dale (Architect-of-Record)
  • Facade Installer MG McGrath GE Johnson (General Contractor)
  • Facade Consultant Arup
  • Structural Engineer KL & A Inc.
  • Location Colorado Springs, CO
  • Date of Completion 2020
  • System OBE Reliance Casette system MG McGrath D-Set Panel System
  • Products Lorin anodized aluminum Viracon VE1-85 Insulating Glass
The massing of the project consists of four petal-like volumes that overlap one another and sprout from the center of the structure. Across each elevation, the facade breaks into distinct planes, bending and contorting as soffit, wall, and roof. "These petals are ruled surfaces, spiraling and twisting up from the ground and aspirationally gesturing toward taking flight," said DS+R Associate Yushiro Okamoto. "The outer skin wraps over the galleries and folds itself to form the walls in the atrium, just like origami. Where surfaces overlap, daylight enters the building and that orients the visitor and marks their trajectory through the museum." From the onset of the design process, the team envisioned a metallic skin and primarily weighed the two options: stainless steel or anodized aluminum. Ultimately, the project called for the latter due to its flexibility, cost, and relatively straightforward maintenance. Although no two of the project's 9,000 panels are the same, the average length ranges between 4-feet-8-inches for the long diagonal sections and 2-feet-8-inches for the short ones, and all are .63 inches thick. Minnesota's MG McGrath both fabricated and installed the museum's facade, and relied on 3D model-based fabrication methods facilitated by Dassault Systemes and Autodesk. Considering the unique qualities of the project, multiple mockups were constructed for the more complex moments of the facade such as the corners where multiple systems meet. Once on-site, each panel was tracked within the digital building model from delivery to installation. To conform with the twisting geometry of the museum, the design and installation teams collaborated with RadiusTrack to develop a curved sheathing, with cold-formed metal framing, which is attached to the primary steel structure with an axial connection. Each panel is fastened to the metal framing with two 3/8-inch Z-girts that run through to the sheathing. Collaboration between the fabricators and design team has proved crucial to the successful execution of the project. "We met weekly. On one end we were discussing the larger design ideas of geometry and expression represented in the layout of panels, on the other end, we were discussing the smallest details and installation tolerances," continued Okamoto. "It was, and still is, an exciting and collaborative learning process for both of us." DS+R associate Yushiro Okamoto and MG McGrath president Mike McGrath will be joining the panel “Facade Strategies for Curatorial Institutions” at The Architect’s Newspaper’s upcoming Facades+ Denver conference on September 12.
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Above and Below

India’s Subterranean Stepwells rise at the Fowler Museum
India’s Subterranean Stepwells: Photographs by Victoria Lautman University of California, Los Angeles 308 Charles E. Young Drive Los Angeles In a show at UCLA’s Fowler Museum, Chicago-based arts journalist Victoria Lautman explores the hidden beauty of an elaborate building type originating in India: the stepwell. Built throughout the subcontinent’s warm, dry regions for the past 1,500 years, stepwells allowed communities to store water from monsoonal rains. These monumental stormwater management systems were built in both Muslim and Hindu architectural styles and served as sites of worship and gathering. Lautman has visited more than 200 stepwells over the past 30 years in an effort to document their importance and ensure their survival. Organized by Joanna Barrkman, senior curator of Southeast Asian and Pacific arts, the exhibition includes 48 photographs taken by Lautman with a point-and-shoot camera, and is arranged in clusters that focus on specific architectural details. Further images, along with GPS coordinates for each stepwell, are included in Lautman’s 2017 book, The Vanishing Stepwells of India.
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Listen Up!

AN tallies up the top design lectures to hear at Midwest schools this fall
This fall, Illinois’ Chicago Architecture Biennial and Indiana’s Exhibit Columbus are anchoring architecture and design events across Middle America. But there are plenty of free talks to hear in case the big exhibitions don't make your schedule. To help you keep up with the momentum, AN put together a select list of lecture events happening at architecture programs across the Midwest. University of Michigan, Taubman College Of Architecture and Urban Planning Marc Simmons, principal at Front, Inc. September 24 Carme Pigem, co-founder of RCR Arquitectes October 8 Mark Burry, founding director of Swinburne University of Technology’s Smart Cities Research Institute (SCRI) October 31 The Ohio State University, Knowlton School of Architecture Michelle Delk, partner at Snøhetta September 11 Troy Schaum and Rosalyne Shieh of SCHAUM/SHIEH September 18 Jeanne Gang, principal of Studio Gang October 23
Sharon Johnston & Mark Lee, principals of Johnston Marklee & Associates
November 6
Aaron Forrest, co-founder of Ultramoderne November 13 Chelina Odbert, executive director at KDI November 20 Art Institute of Chicago Tatiana Bilbao, founder of Tatiana Bilbao November 7 School of the Art Institute at Chicago Heinrich and Ilze Wolff, co-founders of Wolff Architects September 19
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Design for Dementia

IKEA and the Queen of Sweden update the retirement home for dementia
IKEA and Queen Silvia of Sweden are teaming up to rethink housing the elderly. The project, called SilviaBo, is an offshoot of the furniture giant’s affordable housing arm, BoKLok, and extends its same principles of wooden, prefab architecture for the masses to the world’s aging population.  These days, architects and designers are being challenged to create inclusive spaces that not only offer shelter for the elderly but also promote healing and are physically accessible to people with a range of mobility and emotional energies. When choosing retirement housing, many families have anxiety over the cost of living and the often lack of social support or physical care staff available at lower-cost institutions. BoKlok and SilviaBo aim to squash that fear and claim to be at the forefront of a movement that addresses sustainability, economics, and physical well-being in elderly care. The flatpack-style SilviaBo homes are manufactured in partnership with another Swedish company, construction firm Skanska. The original units that have been in production since the late 90s still serve as the base for the new customized homes. They are assembled as prefab parts in a factory and delivered to the construction site where they are set up as one unit. Made mostly of wood, the homes feature a minimal, clean design. Currently, the units are available via BoKlok in Sweden, Finland, Norway, and the UK.  The result of BoKlok's work is a cost-effective and environmentally sensitive model for the future of retirees. The company claims that only 1 percent of its materials go to landfill and that it has a carbon footprint of less than half of a standard building project. Sensitive design choices derived from the most recent research on dementia include kitchen appliances with physical buttons rather than digital screens to bathrooms without mirrors or dark flooring, two factors deemed aggravating to individuals suffering from dementia. 
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Sounds of San Diego

San Diego Symphony is slated to build a bayside concert hall by Soundforms
San Diego is soon to boast one of the most acoustically innovative waterfront concert venues in Southern California, according to local officials. Set to open next summer on Embarcadero Marina Park South, the San Diego Symphony will get a permanent space to host its shows, all centered around a 13,000-square-foot stage structure by London-based consortium Soundforms and local studio Tucker Sadler Architects The $45 million project is part of a larger proposal to encourage year-round activity in downtown San Diego. The venue, Bayside Performance Park, will be built on a 10.8-acre existing greenspace that’s able to hold over 3,000 people on average, and up to 10,000 on special occasions. It will be located directly across the from the San Diego Convention Center and will mimic its design in form and texture. Soundforms, best known for the “Olympic Bandstand” structure it created for the 2012 London Olympics, will scale up its most famous product, the Soundforms Performance Shell, for San Diego’s premier outdoor music hall.  Taking cues from the convention center’s stand-out shape and the surrounding downtown skyline, Soundforms will create a concert shell with a cantilevered roof at the edge of the parkland. It will be wrapped in durable, white fabric—a nod to the convention center’s rooftop sails—and built by tensile structure contractor Fabritecture. Charles Salter Acoustics, a sound company in San Francisco will work with consultant Shawn Murphey to install a massive sound system that can accommodate orchestral performances, Broadway musicals, film screenings, and popular artists.  Tucker Sadler Architects and Burton Landscape Architecture Studio will root the structure in place and connect it to the entire Embarcadero Marina Park South by designing a terraced lawn with temporary seating and a widened public promenade that wraps around the venue. The design team will also add sunset steps to the back of the pavilion, which locals can access when performances aren't happening. For the San Diego Symphony, such a space has been a long time coming. For the last 15 years, it's had to assemble and disassemble a stage for its popular Bayside Summer Nights concert series. But that’s all changing now. According to a press release, Bayside Performance Park will be the only permanent outdoor performance space that doubles as an active park on the West Coast.  [This project] supports the Port of San Diego’s goals for a vibrant and active San Diego Bay waterfront,” said Chairman Garry Bonelli of the Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners in a statement. “Bayfront visitors will love the new and improved performance facility, not to mention the improved park and park amenities.”  Construction will begin in September. 
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Pulse Alternative

Some survivors and activists oppose Orlando's Pulse memorial and museum

While efforts to build the National Pulse Memorial and Museum at the site of the deadly Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, are moving forward, certain LGBTQ activists, survivors, and loved ones of victims are voicing opposition to the plan. Last month, organizers who are against the onePULSE Foundation’s initiative to establish the museum formed the Community Coalition Against a Pulse Museum (CCAPM), which aims to develop an alternative vision for how to remember the victims of the deadliest anti-LGBTQ act of violence in U.S. history. 

As AN reported earlier this year, six major architecture firms have already been shortlisted from an initial 68 submissions for onePULSE’s international design competition. The finalists include Diller Scofidio + Renfro, MASS Design Group, MVRDV, and Studio Libeskind. While no winner has been announced yet, the process of soliciting proposals and selecting the designer has progressed steadily since the shooting in June 2016. The foundation’s plan for the site includes using the original nightclub building and constructing an additional 30,000-square-foot museum nearby. There is also an effort to integrate the memorial and museum into a broader urban design plan that would connect the former nightclub to downtown Orlando. If this is executed, visitors will be able to walk along the planned Orlando Health Survivors Walk, leading them to various sites involved in the aftermath of the shooting.

As for CCAPM, activists argue that funds used for the construction of the museum building should be directed towards victims’ families and survivors of the incident, not towards a tourist attraction. According to the organization’s website, opponents of the construction project maintain that: “All funds raised should be used to expand existing services and ensure that all survivors get the financial support, medical services, community support programs, and mental health care they need for life.”

The museum is expected to cost $45 million, including $40 million in construction costs and additional funds for staff salaries. As the Orlando Sentinel reported earlier this summer, onePULSE’s proposed budget includes a $150,000 annual salary for Barbara Poma, who established the Pulse nightclub in 2004 in memory of her brother, a victim of the AIDS epidemic. Poma is now the CEO of the onePULSE foundation. 

With an exhibition of the proposed designs set to open at the Orange County Regional History Center in Orlando this October, there is no sign that onePULSE will significantly alter its plan to construct the museum. According to NBC News, the foundation responded to continuing allegations that it is profiting off of victims’ traumatic experiences by assuring that it is listening to all concerns closely: “We respect the thoughts and opinions of everyone in the community who was affected by this tragic event and are taking them all into consideration on how we move forward.”

The memorial and museum are slated to officially open in 2022.

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LEVERaging Timber

The Nature Conservancy turns to protected habitats and LEVER for its Portland headquarters
The Oregon Conservation Center (OCC) in Portland, Oregon has reopened a new 15,000 square foot nature-centered expansion and renovation courtesy of LEVER Architecture. A redevelopment project of The Nature’s Conservancy’s existing headquarters, the building better reflects the mission of the organization which acts to conserve nature for nature’s sake and to enrich human lives through conservation. The original, dull landscape and 1970’s-era building were not representative of the organization’s identity as a global nonprofit headquarters. The building’s exterior has been reenvisioned and entirely clad in a combination of materials vulnerable to weathering, such as a new steel rainscreen facade that will weather over time, Juniper siding, and Cedar decking both harvested from nonprofit’s conservation sites. With The Nature Conservancy’s commitment to sustainability, renovating the original, uninspired office building was important for the project. Targeting LEED Gold certification, the new rooftop photovoltaics produce 25 percent of its electrical supply and the use of efficient building systems and fixtures reduce electric consumption by a further 54 percent, and water consumption by 44 percent. In an effort to articulate The Nature Conservancy’s impactful work, LEVER's design reflects the ecology of the region with special attention to three of the organization’s protected habitats: the Rowena Plateau, the Cascade-Siskiyou region, and western hemlock and cedar forests. Managing partner of the renovation's developer, project^, Tom Cody, describes the project as an “ecological and innovative hub” with respect to reused and recycled materials, and landscape architecture firm Lando and Associates’ incorporation of Oregon’s indigenous plants. The new design values a connection to the region’s natural surroundings, offering visitors and staff a greater and more accessible bond to the outdoors. Central to the upgrade is a new, highly visible 2,000-square-foot building addition built with domestically-fabricated cross-laminated timber panels, the first of its kind built in the U.S. and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The addition contains a community room and roof garden terrace, ideal spaces to hold gatherings and public events. Additional programmatic elements include open-plan layouts, meeting rooms of various sizes, staff cafe and lounge, and dedicated storage space for equipment used in the field. “The Oregon Conservation Center truly embodies the mission of sustainability, stewardship, and inspiration that we serve at The Nature Conservancy,” said Jim Desmond, Oregon state director at The Nature Conservancy. “Against this inspiring new backdrop, we can now better convene with partners in a highly collaborative environment featuring elements of our important work around Oregon.”
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Bridging Communities

D.C.'s highly-anticipated bridge park by OMA and OLIN is coming in 2023
A High Line-like park for Washington, D.C. has been in the works since 2014 and was supposed to open later this year, but construction hasn’t even started. The 11th Street Bridge Park project, a 1.45-mile-long elevated landscape that aims to dramatically connect Anacostia to Capitol Hill, features a landscaped vision by OMA and OLIN that also comes with an amphitheater, public plaza, cafe, and hammock grove. Thanks to a recent $5 million donation by utility company Exelon, the ambitious public project is much closer to breaking ground and will now feature an 11,000-square-foot environmental education center.  DCist reported that local officials expect the latest news of fundraising to inspire others to support the plan. For the last few years, both Washington-based organizations, philanthropists, and large corporations such as JPMorgan have pledged millions of dollars, all of which will be dropped into what’s now being described as a $139 million capital community investment campaign—a number far higher than the $40 million initially projected five years ago. According to Scott Kratz, director of the 11th Street Bridge Park project, the money will go both toward the build-out of the revitalized bridge as well as a series of equitable development strategies. Kratz told DCist that this move is key in ensuring that the residents of Ward 6 in Capitol Hill proper, as well as 7 and 8 in Anacostia, get first access to construction jobs onsite and a say in the park’s overall development. Additionally, both the city and the Ward 8 nonprofit in charge of the proposal, Building Bridges Across the River at THE ARC, aim to keep the cost of living low surrounding the new park.  Another way the team is trying to elevate community life in the area is through the creation of the newly-announced Exelon Environmental Education Center, where kids can learn about science, engineering, river health, and flora and fauna. DCist reported that it will be run by the Anacostia Watershed Society and sit on the eastern end of the park. The site will be aptly surrounded by the 1,200-acre Anacostia Park, as well as a slew of highways separating it from residential and commercial properties nearby. So far, a design team for the new hub has not been chosen, but with Exelon’s gift, the entire project is nearly fully funded at a total of $111.5 million. Kratz said the 11th Street Bridge Park is slated to open in 2023. 
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A Calatravesty

Venice fines Santiago Calatrava for slippery, inaccessible bridge
Santiago Calatrava is being fined—again—for his work.  This time it’s $87,000 for his Ponte della Costituzione, or Constitution Bridge, in Venice, Italy. An Italian court recently ruled that the Spanish architect needs to pay the city for cost over-runs and “negligence” in faulty design. According to The Telegraph, the 300-foot-long steel and glass piece of infrastructure ended up being weaker than intended.  Completed in 2008, the project was controversial from the beginning. Protests and heated criticism over its placement rang out upon its announcement in 1999. The biggest issues included its lack of accessibility for wheelchair users, the conflict between its modernist design and the city’s historic scenery, and the fact that it’s located very close to one of the other three walking bridges that span the Grand Canal. Nevertheless, the structure was installed after years of delays for a total of $12.9 million and now leads locals and tourists over the water from a bus terminal (many of them with rolling luggage in tow) in Santa Croce to the Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia.  The Telegraph reports that one of the other unexpected problems that people have complained about over the years involves the glass steps. They noted how slippery the stairs get when it rains or the fog descends on Venice in the winter, but Calatrava's office recently told AN that the steps are "no more slippery than other parts of the city." In addition to this, due to the bridge’s location in a highly-trafficked area, the steps have become worn-down. Some of them have already been replaced, according to the ruling judges, even though they were expected to last 20 years.   Furthermore, the court determined that the steel tubes used on the bridge were too small and the egg-shaped glass elevator, which was later added for accessibility, overheated too much. A court found earlier this year it had to be removed for safety reasons, costing the city $44,000.  The Telegraph noted that when asked over a decade ago to respond to all the criticism, Calatrava noted that he had “no influence in the selection of the contracting company that built the structure.” His work, he said, was limited to the aesthetic. In a call with AN, the firm clarified that the stairlift was, in fact, incorporated into the initial design that was revealed in the late 90s, but it was rejected by the city council. They claimed wheelchair users could take the Vaporetto water taxi instead. Years later, a new mayor commissioned the glass elevator "against Calatrava's advice," the firm said.  This isn’t the first time the famed architect has gotten in trouble with a municipality over the complexity of his projects and the time it takes to build them. Despite that, bridges are one of his specialties having designed 35 total in his career. The first, located in Barcelona, was completed in 1987—which is why the fines against him due to the mistakes on the Constitution Bridge are so high, according to the court.  
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Close Clerkenwell Shave

Amin Taha wins fight to stop 15 Clerkenwell Close demolition
London architect Amin Taha has won his battle against planners to save his award-winning project, 15 Clerkenwell Close. Taha had previously been told his building faced a demolition order from the London borough of Islington. However, today, that decision has been overturned and the glorious, unfinished limestone that serves as a load-bearing facade will remain. For more than a year Taha has been embroiled in a disagreement over the building's appearance. In fact, the council had attempted to bring the building down twice before: In 2013, when the building was granted planning permission, a local argued that concrete was being used instead of brick, the facade material that was supposedly initially stipulated. A demolition notice that resulted from a site inspection from an enforcement officer and conservation officer amounted to nothing. The saga was far from over, though. 2017 saw another demolition notice, this time stating that the building must be rebuilt in brick. Taha disputed this, asking to see the notice report. Again, the notice was withdrawn. A year later, a third demolition notice was issued. "After an investigation, the council has come to the view that the building at 15 Clerkenwell Close does not reflect the building that was granted planning permission and conservation area consent in 2013," said the council. Taha, meanwhile, argued that the difference from what was sent to the planning department and was built was down to the fact that the limestone used was being taken from a quarry in France and left unfinished. Speaking to me last year, he likened it to complaining where knots in wood appear. The architect also said that the enforcement officer was relying on outdated and rejected plans for the design, as approved plans showing the stone facade had been redacted. Today it appears the architect has saved the seven-story building, where his studio's offices are also located. "It was taking so long and so much of our time it’s come somewhat close to a pyrrhic victory," said Taha in an email to The Architect's Newspaper today. "The battle is over and now we clear up the mess left behind." Planning inspector Peter Jarratt told the Architects' Journal in the U.K. that while he agreed there was a "difference" between the architects and planning authorities on what was submitted and approved, the building was in "general terms" not detrimental to the conservation area. "This is an unsatisfactory situation for both parties and it is not in the public interest if members of the public cannot establish what has been approved when examining planning records... Nevertheless, the principle of development is not in dispute and the building accords with the generality of what had previously been approved," he added. Despite all this, there is evidence of demolition, or at least that seems to be the case anyway. 15 Clerkenwell Close sits on the corner of the street, nestled into an enclave. Its rough, unfinished limestone facade, which still bears fossil marks in it, begs you to stroke it and feel the raw material. This is what stone is like before humans meddle with it and refine with technological precision, and in the author's experience, is wonderful to experience in this quiet forum in North London. As you approach it to do so, one will find a fallen Ionic pilaster—but fear not, it's only a joke, a tongue-in-cheek architectural moment that serves as a testament to how much this relatively simple building speaks. The planning department of Islington Borough Council may have lost, but this is a victory for everyone. An Islington Council spokesperson provided the following statement:
“We’re pleased that Mr. Taha has finally admitted that the building did not benefit from planning permission.  We are also pleased that the inspector has required 15 Clerkenwell Close to be modified to include more employment space, in line with Islington’s development plan.  The Inspector also concluded that the building should be modified to mitigate the harm caused to local heritage assets. “We’re of course disappointed that the inspector did not agree with the council’s view that the degree of harm the building caused to the Clerkenwell Green conservation area and the setting of nearby listed buildings warranted further modifications to the building.   “The council looks forward to the removal of the unauthorized and visually harmful solar chimney, changes to the roof garden, and alterations to the limestone columns and beams facing Clerkenwell Close, as set out in the Inspector’s conditions. “We’re also pleased that there will be a £420,000 payment towards badly-needed affordable housing, in line with Islington’s planning policies.” Additional notes: Par 1 of the Inspector’s Appeal Decision says: “… the appellant considered that no planning permission exists for the building as erected” Par 24 of the Inspector’s Appeal Decision says: “The appellant has been extremely critical of the failure of the Council officers to resolve apparent inconsistencies in the drawings at the appropriate time, which clearly should have been done. However, the appellant must also share a significant degree of responsibility for the errors made as it was his practice that submitted inconsistent plans in the first place.”
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Remembrances from 2002-2015

Peter Lang on Cristiano Toraldo di Francia's 'incredible love'
Cristiano Toraldo di Francia sadly passed away on July 30. Cofounder, along with Adolfo Natalini, of the Florentine Radical design and architecture group Superstudio, Cristiano was the kind of person who was incredibly open-minded, shared a sharp sense of humor, and professed a deep love for humanity. While accolades spread across the internet following news of his passing, there was a lot to Cristiano that didn’t make it into these postings, tributes, and memorials. What might have been most lacking in all these accounts was the way he shrugged off fame and shunned formality. Yet he never wasted a moment, had infinite stamina, and to stick by him you needed to react fast and move quickly. Cristiano was a perceptive and ever-present photographer, and it is thanks to him that so many historical moments during their superlative adventure were captured for posterity. When I asked him about how he got into photography, he spoke about his father, Giuliano, who was a renowned physicist, recounting an odd story about how he was introduced to his first photo-camera. As Cristiano told me, in an interview at his house in Filottrano back in 2005, his father “…designed lenses for Ducati, at that time they made electronics—now they´re making motorcycles. They made cameras, radios. And they made a micro-camera, which anticipated the cameras of today, instead of the normal 35 mm film --24x36mm, they were using 24x18mm film, so it was fantastic. Italy was poor at the time, everything had to be reduced! Cristiano couldn’t help make a quip about the States, and while proudly acknowledging that Italian technology was inventing incredible things that were “almost too advanced for their time,” in America “everything was big—big cameras, big cars. But that camera was a jewel... Just to say that since I was a child I was initiated to the mysteries of photography—the images coming out of the acids, of the paper.” Probing further, I asked Cristiano what his relationship was to the burgeoning Florentine fashion industry in the early sixties when he was a professional photographer. “I was making family portraits at the time to raise money. In Florence, there is a big tradition around the Alinari family that besides all the city portraits,” now in the Alinari Archive in Florence, “they shot a lot of family portraits, but these were like paintings, all retouched, like Photoshop. “They were perfect photographers- so this tradition was present. I was trying to do a very different kind of photography. I looked more to the American model. A journalistic kind of picture, Diane Arbus... Not so much Man Ray or the historical ones.I became quite successful at the time. All these noble mothers came to make photos in my studio. After a while, I was asked to do fashion photography, but after a while, Superstudio started and I quit. But of course, I had all the contacts and all the people- I was friends with Oliviero Toscani for example,” who would go on to make the controversial photographic campaigns for Bennetton. With his usual irony, Cristiano pointed out that he also worked as a fashion model, for the kind of magazines that were constantly referencing architecture. It’s hard not to talk about the origins of the Italian Radical movement without getting into influences, of which there were many: “We started…” as Cristiano clarified in that same interview, “…on parallel levels, looking at Archigram, but even more we looked back at Dada and then to Pop-art that was bringing the Dada methods up to date. Fluxus—breaking boundaries and being completely interdisciplinary, fluctuating from one activity to the other. But on the other hand, Archigram had this political information as background—for which we could say maybe we were more idealistic than them. They were more pragmatic, more Anglo-Saxon.” Dan Graham connected his generation to Rock and Roll, and given the times, it is clear that music played a considerable role for Cristiano. When I spoke to Cristiano about music when we met in December of 2002, he had this to say: “When I talk about the importance of music, we don’t deny having discovered a person like Bob Dylan, or the Beatles, it was a time when popular music reached great artistic levels, Laurie Anderson, the whole group of Fluxus, back then there was a system of self-propulsion, in every field…” What is critical in understanding Superstudio is precisely this level of mixing passions that the art and architecture curator Lara Vinca Masini referred to as “contaminations.” Cristiano stabbed at this point by bringing in Aldo Rossi: “Yes the work of Rossi and others was interesting, but it was always inside a discipline with few confrontations with the world that went much faster than their own reasoning.” Getting back to the Florentine music scene, Cristiano credited his father with exposing him to experimental music when he was beginning university. In a conversation I had with him in 2005, Cristiano remarked: “My father was a scientist, and as a scientist he was traveling a lot and, in a way, disillusioned and relativistic. He was asked in 1963 to become president of the young contemporary music association. One of those members was Sylvano Bussotti,” a Florentine native, musical polyglot and noted dandy. “One was Giuseppe Chiari,” the atonal musician, close to John Cage and a member of Fluxus, “and the other was Pietro Grossi,” a Venetian electronic musician and composer living in Florence. “I remember they were making concerts of electronic music, and one concert was in the Conservatorio di Musica Cherubini which is a traditional music conservatory. And after 10 minutes of this music people went crazy.” Evidently, for this generation of young architects living in Florence in the sixties, these were incredibly stimulating years. Superstudio detoured around the traditional tools of the architect, experimenting with alternative forms of expression and representation. When Emilio Ambasz showed up in Florence around 1971, scouting for ideas for the upcoming exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape for MoMA, the young curator was seeking out experimental “environments.” These would be full-scale prototypes for living, accompanied by films serving as animated captions. Yet I wanted to know just how Superstudio produced this project, what kind of technology was used to build this elaborate environment and how did they create their 12-minute film Supersurface. The main backer for the environment was the manufacturer Print but they also had to procure other funders, due to the elevated expenses. According to Cristiano, they found the supplies they needed in Florence, the special reflective glass and the electronic components key to simulate alternating moods of day and night inside the environment. It took 15 days to manually assemble it before the show opened in New York on May 26th, 1972. The movie was instead made during the winter of 1971- 72 and it was filmed in 36 mm. “I worked on that with Sandro Poli,” the Superstudio member officially present between 1970 and 1972, “we found the music, made the soundtrack, with the professional help of a guy who made advertising for TV (Marchi Producers), who had that mentality, and in fact, we wanted it to be projected as if it would be an advertisement for the Supersurface. The first part presents in a scientific way how the thing is done, and the second one tells how happy you will be living there.” In fact, both making the environment and directing the animated film were very labor-intensive hands-on processes. I asked Cristiano what role the Italian manufacturers had in producing Superstudio’s concepts. Cristiano’s response was that these factories were mostly made up of artisans. “That is why we managed to make a series of objects from very different things and from really different materials. Most of these objects are coming out of a kind of bricolage. The factory made almost nothing—we had to find artisans who did the different parts. The industry would just put the parts together. We were doing a kind of bricolage Cheap-scape—as Frank Gehry would say—for the industries.” The Italian design industry seemed to work as an artisanal chain assembly. But what was still not clear, was why did these manufacturers get behind a group like Superstudio to make things that worked against the idea of mass consumption? Why would they sponsor designs that were against their best interests? “We thought these objects we were making were a kind of trojan horses that coming from inside the system would produce criticism, which means creativity, which means refusal, or incredible love. They were objects of poetic reaction for the people. They were not mass-produced, they were in little series, multiples, like works of art.” To this day I still think about Cristiano’s trojan horses, and his incredible love.