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It's Real And Rockin'

Guitar-shaped Hard Rock hotel opens in Hollywood, Florida
The world’s first guitar-shaped hotel has officially opened for business. Standing 450 feet tall is the new face of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida—a surprisingly striking piece of architecture considering (or because?) it resembles a giant instrument. The curvaceous building is part of a $1.5 billion expansion on the existing entertainment complex that wrapped up construction this summer. Designed by Hard Rock International’s go-to architect, Steve Peck of the Las Vegas-based firm Klai Juba Wald Architecture, the unprecedented structure took nearly 10 years to design and build. The 36-story hotel is the type of architectural landmark fit for the Hard Rock brand; it even features a rockin’ light show across its reflective glass facade.  Created in conjunction with DeSimone Consulting Engineers, who led the engineering on the project, the tower blends into the dark sky at night. The design team worked with Boston lighting designer DCL and Montreal digital agency Float4 to integrate 16,800 V-sticks (strips of LED video fixtures) on the rim of the guitar and the six vertical strings that run down its middle. Each evening, the hotel becomes a temporary light installation with interactive choreography set to music from Float4 and LED experts SACO Technologies.  According to the Miami Herald, whether it’s day or night, the Hard Rock guitar is the largest physical attraction in the South Florida landscape for miles. This means guests within its 638 rooms have unobstructed views in all directions, including the Hollywood beachfront and downtown Miami, thanks to its floor-to-ceiling glass walls. The interiors of the hotel were designed by Wilson Associates and Rockwell Group In addition to the guitar-shaped structure, the original Seminole Hard Rock Hotel building was fully renovated and a 7,000-seat performance venue was built on site. The existing pool resort area was expanded to 13.5 acres with a surrounding landscape by EDSA The opening of the project comes just days after another Hard Rock Hotel under construction in New Orleans’s French Quarter partially-collapsed and killed three people and injured 30 others. Before recovering all the bodies on-site, engineers used explosives to demolish part of the structure in an effort to remove two dangerous, dangling cranes.
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We Live, We Die.

WeWork is imploding. What happened to its plan to redesign the world?
“Everything we do at WeWork should be done with intent and meaning for maximum impact,” said Adam Neumann, the recently ousted CEO and cofounder of WeWork, in a 2018 blog post. “This starts with every space for every member and scales to every building in every city. In 2018, we want to have an impact on the buildings we occupy. In 2019, it will be the neighborhoods WeWork is part of, and by 2020, the cities we live in.”  This bombast was characteristic of the businessman known equally for his tequila-fueled screaming bouts and Kabbalah-enhanced executive meetings, whose oversized persona in many ways came to define the company. To meet the megalomaniacal goal of a WeWorld as well as the more quotidian needs of making flexible office spaces, the We Company amassed a large team of architects, designers, and technologists through both hiring and acquisitions. The company was itself cofounded by an architect, Miguel McKelvey, who WeWork’s former director of research claimed rather hyperbolically in a 2015 interview in Architect built a lot of the original WeWorks with his bare hands.” McKelvey remains WeWork’s chief culture officer. This cultish blind faith is—or was—characteristic of WeWork acolytes. In the wake of a botched attempt to take the We Company public, exposés on Neumann’s excessive spending, unpredictable behavior, and self-dealing, and revelations that the company was more or less out of cash and has little prospect of turning a profit in the near future, confidence has flagged, even among true believers. Once valued at $47 billion, and after an infusion of cash from SoftBank which included an unprecedented $1.7 billion “golden parachute” for Neumann to leave his post, the We Company is now worth "just" $8 billion.  WeGrow, the company’s foray into for-profit education led by the former CEO’s wife, Rebekah Paltrow Neumann (cousin to Gweneth Paltrow), will close at the end of the academic year. The fate of its other numerous side projects, such as Rise by We, a gym, and the housing initiative WeLive( which is currently under investigation in New York City for possibly illegally operating as a hotel) are uncertain. WeWork is also likely to divest from the high-profile conversion of the former Lord & Taylor building in midtown. But perhaps most distressingly, the company is expected to lay off as many as 4,000 people this fall, according to some estimates, with untold more to come. But even those plans have been hampered: the company can’t afford to pay severance. Suffice it to say, it doesn’t look like we’ll all be living in WeCities in 2020. With WeWork shedding its properties and staff and finding itself on less steady ground day by day, what does that mean for the company’s architects? Uncertainty reigns.“It’s been disheartening to find things out through media instead of the company itself,” said one WeWork employee to AN (the company declined to comment on whether those layoffs might include architects and other design employees). Designer Dror Benshetit, who was hired for WeWork’s “Future Cities Initiative” in partnership with Di-Ann Eisnor, formerly of Waze, has been sacked along with his team, according to current and former employees. Fashion designer Adam Kimmel, former chief creative officer, has just stepped down. Most of the architecture and technology higher-ups from Case, the design tech company that WeWork acquired in 2015, have departed in the past several months, including Federico Negro, WeWork's former head of design, and David Fano, former chief growth officer, who left in October. That said, architects inside the company who were willing to speak to The Architect’s Newspaper reported feeling relatively secure in their positions. Creating workspaces is WeWork’s core enterprise, and employees have noted that at conferences given by executives, the work of the architects at the We Company has been largely praised. However, the constant uncertainty and erratic nature of the business has driven many to leave the company in advance of any possible layoffs. Others are staying, some with the hope of cashing in on severance deals, not of keeping a job in the long term. “I find it sad that the person who made this business happen was an architect, but it was his business partner who ruined it,” lamented one WeWork employee, speaking of McKelvey and Neumann, respectively. Building WeWork Founded in 2010, WeWork’s design ambitions became clear in 2015 when the company acquired Case, a high-tech Building Information Modeling consultancy. This made sense: WeWork is more or less a real estate company masquerading as a Silicon Valley-style startup. It owns very little of the buildings it occupies, including the much-talked-about Dock 72 that just opened in the Brooklyn Navy Yards, which The New York Times reports is still largely empty. Instead, it leases spaces, then redesigns them and offers them up as flexible rentals to other businesses—from brand new startups to tech giants like Facebook and IBM to legacy publications like the Atlantic The biggest news was, well, BIG. In 2018, WeWork named Bjarke Ingels its “chief architect,” an unprecedented move for a company like WeWork. But it spoke to its ostensible high-minded design goals. Ingels’s firm BIG did design the Manhattan WeGrow, as well as other projects. However, current and former employees who requested not to be named for fear of reprisal reported that most of Ingels’s actual architectural responsibilities had been delegated to Michel Rojkind, the architect who serves as WeWork’s senior vice president of architecture (Rojkind could not be reached for comment). “It wasn’t anything more than a marketing thing,” said one former WeWork employee of Ingels’s appointment. Ingels reportedly receives no salary, having opted instead for compensation in equity alone, a regrettable move in light of recent events. (Representatives for Bjarke Ingels and BIG declined to comment for this story.) It wasn’t just notable names—WeWork hired architects, lighting designers, project managers, and other design professionals by the dozen. “There was a lot of hand-wringing early on about how many architects were leaving the industry to work at WeWork, and there was a fear that WeWork was sucking up the best architectural minds,” recalled one former employee. The company also formed another architectural spinoff, Powered by We, which brought its know-how for designing workspaces to external corporate clients, like the Swiss bank UBS. Insiders report the division has yet to turn a profit. But despite all the present-day disorder and uncertainty, many employees are happy to stay. “I don’t want to work at a normal architecture office,” said one architect who spoke on condition of anonymity. “ As tumultuous and crazy as the year has been for the whole company, I think it’s a good thing that they disrupted architecture practice; it’s an industry that needs some disruption.” “At an architecture office you’re not encouraged to try other projects or make it better; it’s just, ‘This is the system, this is how we do it,’” the employee added. But WeWork lets architects ask, “How do we make things better rather than just following traditions?”—something they didn’t feel able to do in traditional architecture offices. WeWork’s ability to “disrupt” architecture is due not just to some vaulted startup ethos nor its ability to pay higher salaries. Another meaningful difference is who the designers work for; WeWork is its own client. While it may work with architects of record and contractors, for the most part, WeWork’s architectural labor supply chain is vertically integrated. Everyone from the lighting designer to the architectural software engineers are on staff.  There is also a hope that former WeWork architects might bring this new perspective with them when they return to the industry and that the industry might respond, for example, by putting technology on the same level as other aspects of design. “Architects have a lot to offer, but it’s time to take risks. We need to learn to want more for ourselves and for the industry.” Buildings = Data  Beyond all the hype surrounding the company, at least one of its divisions was living up to the Silicon Valley unicorn moniker that investors had ascribed to it. A former WeWork employee described the architectural software arm of the company as “One of the more technically advanced offices in the entire AEC [Architecture, Engineering, and Construction] sphere.” The employee went on to say, “We’ve got a pretty intelligent system around BIM, around data, around workflow and processes.” These developments happened relatively behind the scenes, though hardly secretly. WeWork regularly published blog posts about its use of 3-D laser scanning, machine learning, and data collection.  This architectural brain power, along with easy access to new BIM and parametric technology, did, in fact, give WeWork an edge in its core business: designing office spaces. It’s as a design practice that WeWork could truly be understood as an innovator. To be clear, it isn’t in the often-mimicked design aesthetic of its office spaces—with its exposed brick, neon signs, midcentury modern knockoffs, and formaldehyde-expelling phone booths. What is new is how WeWork has been able to design with tremendous efficiency at scale in part thanks to its voraciously collected user data. Similar to the way social media companies harvest untold amounts of data on their billions of users, WeWork was swimming in data on the workers occupying its office spaces around the world. In February, some WeWork employees had begun wearing shirts that said, “Buildings equal data.” The largest office leaseholder in New York City was using data to shape everything from what buildings to rent to how to lay them out. Through a variety of tools, WeWork was harvesting its tenants data the way Facebook exploits its users—as unwitting sources for generating new, targeted services to generate even more revenue. WeWork embedded sensors in conference rooms and phone booths, tracked “user behavior” on its app, and tested out computer vision and location beacon systems. “Imagine a conference room that can tell you how it feels, that understands what the inhabitants might be feeling,” said a company blog post that asked, “What would the Google Analytics of buildings look like?” Last year, WeWork used virtual reality headsets and EEG brainwave monitors to see how people responded to different “vibes.” For example, “Spaces with more natural light and brighter finishes are associated with significantly higher levels of focus and interest.” While WeWork wanted to collect users' general emotional response—one test subject described wearing the headset as “empowering”—its central interest, of course, was creating environments ideal for work. Of course, WeWork, along with tech companies and creative firms, has created a new sort of standard which other companies want. “A lot of corporate America works in environments that are stifling and boring,” said one Powered by We employee. “Retaining and hiring young staff has been hard for them. [Powered by We] is a way of changing a workplace by changing the interiors.” With this data, WeWork claims it was not only able to make the design and building management process more efficient and targeted, but also able to introduce new custom automation into its design of its mass-produced office spaces. They are often created from a sort of kits of parts—which included pre-determined selections of wallpaper, kitchen fittings, furnishings, etc.—inside the many buildings the company has leased, or less frequently, owned. WeWork had also developed custom software to help the company’s designers automate desk arrangements throughout their spaces. More desks means more money, after all. Recently, in the Avery Review, philosopher Mathew Stewart referred to WeWork’s space layout algorithm as “One tool in the now endless surge of automated BIM options that aims to make the bureaucratic processes of architecture more efficient, calculable and less labor-intensive.” He added, “This produces a mystified process that hides the social and political character of design decisions. The contemporary production of architecture is a complex global web of supply chains, logistics, labor, and legal and political infrastructures.” Some former WeWork employees disputed this characterization. In a company blog, former senior researcher Andrew Heumann said that they just want to get rid of the “tasks that are the most tedious and repetitious.” However, design at WeWork was arguably a relatively simple problem, one in which automation could easily be introduced without tremendous technological innovation. Offices may be different shapes, but at the end of the day, they’re relatively consistent spaces. One Powered by We architect suggested that “WeWork Classic” architects weren’t “challenged.” “I would assume their job is quite boring,” the employee said. “It’s just based on efficiencies.” Multiple things can be true at once. While WeWork likely overstates its technical prowess in order to boost its legitimacy as a “startup,” and while other companies also use data collection to inform design, building, and usage in their offices, its proprietary BIM tools and automation technologies may have unforeseen, significant impacts on how architects design, especially as more and more well-qualified architects, designers, and tech professionals exit WeWork to create their own startups or work at other companies or traditional firms. If expanded beyond the simple constraints of aesthetically-unified office design, new automation tools could free up designers to do more interesting, innovative things beyond building mechanics and interior layouts. Or, as so often happens under a capitalist logic consumed with “optimization” above all else, they may just cause a new flattening of design difference, ushering a new Algorithmic Realism in architecture. Perhaps WeWork will take over the world after all. At least there’s happy hour.
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Design Drama

Singapore and Moshe Safdie accused of plagiarizing Jewel Changi Airport
The CEO of Qatar Airways accused the country of Singapore and Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie of plagiarizing the design of the recently-opened Jewel Changi Airport, likening it to a planned-airport expansion project in Doha.  At a recent press briefing, Akbar Al Baker, the head of the international airline, alleged that “somebody” had copied Qatar’s scheme for enhancements at the Hamad International Airport (DOH) located south of Doha. He didn’t name Singapore or Safdie in his announcement but, the criticism was clear: Work done ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup will include the build-out of a large waterfall and interior garden like those found at the wildly-popular new shopping palace in Changi.  Completed in April, the $1.25 billion entertainment and retail complex boasts the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, spanning seven stories across the 1.4-million-square-feet structure. Safdie Architects designed the eye-catching space as a landside, nature-themed amenity hub for the airport. Thousands of plants and 2,000 trees populate the interior. Singapore’s English-language daily newspaper, The Straits Times, reported that Safdie’s concept was initially created exclusively for Changi Airport Group, the airport’s operator and manager, back in 2013 and therefore couldn’t be a copy of the 2019 Doha project. Safdie issued the following statement to the paper: 
“We have been pursuing the concept of gardens as a focal point for the public realm for many decades. We have also explored the concept of harvesting the rain into internal rainfalls at Ben Gurion Airport (Israel) and Marina Bay Sands. The success of these explorations have further inspired and led us to create a new icon in the Jewel that we see today—a new kind of urban place that celebrates the elements of nature and urban life. We are delighted that Jewel’s uniqueness and originality has been well-recognized by the international community and resulted in many wanting to emulate it.” 
This isn’t the first time a piece of airport infrastructure has been the center of plagiarism accusations. Hamad International Airport itself, which opened to the public in 2014, was first criticized for looking too much like the Ben Guiron Airport in Israel. Located between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the airport’s Terminal 3 expansion (its international gate) was designed and completed in 2004 by Safdie and Skidmore, Owings & Merill. Last year, Thai architecture practice DBALP Consortium was accused of copying a Kengo Kuma project in its winning competition design for a new terminal in Bangkok. 
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Millennium Glower

Postcommodity amplifies sinking Millennium Tower in new audio installation
Though it was announced in September that structural renovations estimated to cost over $100 million were approved to shore up San Francisco’s Millennium Tower, the 58-story building continues to sink and lean without a clear construction schedule in place. The Handel Architects-designed tower has been mired in controversy ever since it was completed ten years ago, and its infamy has only increased since its engineering oversights were made public. Indigenous arts collective Postcommodity has developed a response to the growing notoriety of Millenium tower through a sound installation at the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI). Titled The Point of Final Collapse, the installation translates the gradual movement of the tower into ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) audio by using computational algorithms, which will “transform the sonification of the sinking and tilting of the Millennium Tower into therapeutic sounds designed to encourage relaxation by extending the power of the city’s scenic beauty,” according to the artists. Long Range Acoustic Devices will be installed in SFAI’s historic Chestnut Street Campus tower to “broadcast” the ASMR audio in a four-minute duration each day at 5:00 p.m., aimed in the direction of Millennium Tower and Downtown San Francisco in general Postcommodity created The Point of Final Collapse to “engage the perspectives of a broad public by providing a call to prayer for relief from the economic stresses and dangers of a city in the throes of radical social, cultural, architectural, and economic transformation.” The artists, in other words, see the failure of Millennium Tower as a metaphor for the instability of San Francisco’s current economic and social symptoms, and hope that their piece will help offer a literal wakeup call. The Point of Final Collapse is the final product of Postcommodity’s residency at SFAI, following the group’s win of the 2019 award from The Harker Fund of The San Francisco Foundation. The installation will open to the public on November 15.
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Futbol Fantasy

Plans for David Beckham's Freedom Park come to life in new renderings
New visuals have surfaced for David Beckham’s $966 million soccer campus in Miami ahead of a crucial vote next week to decide the fate of the site it would be built on. The last update on the design of Miami Freedom Park was unveiled last September by local firm Arquitectonica. While the most recent vision for the 131-acre site largely mirrors that master plan, the look of the 26,000-seat stadium, and its surrounding landscape, has been altered slightly. Details now show a new undulating cover for the crown jewel soccer stadium, complete with an exposed area featuring a rooftop bar and palm trees. The proposed 1-million-square feet of commercial and office space, as well as the numerous sports fields, hotel, and 58-acre public park, are still included in the plans, but a new video released by Inter Miami FC, Beckam’s budding MLS team, brings the entire site to life.  The crux of the problem facing Beckham’s project is figuring out whether it's ready for lease approval. The goal is to establish a 99-year contract on the site, atop the 59-year-old Melreese public golf course, with Beckham's venture-partner Jorgé Mas as the only leaseholder. Last year, 60 percent of Miami locals voted to get rid of competitive bidding for the property, effectively allowing the potential single-entity leaseholder to exist. The Miami Herald noted that without completed land appraisals, as well as a proper environmental remediation plan, it’d be difficult to determine a fair market rate rent next week. Some have said the upgraded visuals are a last-ditch attempt by Beckham and his venture partners to persuade the city that the stadium complex will be beneficial to the community. On Tuesday, the Miami City Commission will discuss the unfinished lease and whether to end negotiations for the project. One commissioner even wants to open a competitive bid instead to build a luxury golf resort on Freedom Park’s proposed location.  Despite this, Inter Miami FC is still expected to begin its first season in 2020 and will play home matches at a temporary site atop the former Miami Fusion stadium in Fort Lauderdale. Freedom Park is slated to be completed in 2022.
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In the Triangle

Snøhetta reveals its $100 million Charlotte, North Carolina, library
Civic leaders in Charlotte, North Carolina, unveiled renderings yesterday for a $100 million “library of the future” designed by Snøhetta and partners, which is intended to be an anchor for revitalization efforts in uptown Charlotte. The unveiling marked the culmination of a two-year effort to design a new Main Library for the Charlotte Mecklenburg system, on the site of its current building at 310 North Tryon Street. In 2017 the library system selected Snøhetta to serve as the design architect, with Clark Nexsen of Charlotte as the architect of record and brightspot strategy to lead community engagement and space planning efforts. Plans call for a 115,000-square-foot building with five levels above ground, and one below. The above-ground portion will be a curving structure (the firm is no stranger to designing swooping libraries), clad in glass and ceramic, that frames an entrance plaza and provides views to the activity inside. At one end, the library will anchor the corner with a translucent “prow” that cantilevers over the sidewalk. Once inside the timber-clad interior space, a soaring atrium with a spiraling stair will help visitors get their bearings and draw them upwards through the building. There has been a library on the North Tryon Street site since 1903. Library representatives say they hope the new structure, which will replace the current one, will become a major destination for the region. “The new main library will be an architecturally-distinctive, state-of-the-art, technologically-advanced knowledge center and public commons, where everyone in our community can access the resources of a 21st-century library,” said Charlotte Mecklenburg Library CEO Lee Keesler, in a statement. It also will be a “gateway to a re-imagined North Tryon Street corridor and a catalyst for additional redevelopment.” “This will be the jewel of the cultural neighborhood,” Snøhetta senior architect Nick Anderson told The Charlotte Observer. “The library will be unique, but we want it to be of this place.” The renderings show that the building will contain a variety of spaces that are intended to accommodate public gatherings, events, and various employment-oriented services, as well as reading rooms providing access to print and digital materials. There will be a large lobby, cafe, two “immersive” theaters, flexible meeting rooms, and two outdoor terraces. The lower levels will contain most of the pre-function and event spaces, along with a job training center, counseling services, and maker space offerings, including a technology center, computer lab, and recording studios. Levels three and four will house the bulk of the collections, while the top floor will have a large reading room, writer’s studio and porch, administrative offices, and a terrace with views of uptown Charlotte. When Snøhetta was selected to lead the design effort, founding partner Craig Dykers indicated it would be a model in demonstrating how many ways a 21st-century library can serve the public. “Libraries are more popular today than they have ever been, serving a wider range of needs than access to books only,” he said. “The architecture of libraries is also changing, and Charlotte’s new library will lead the way in showing how a city and its core of knowledge can be open, welcoming and intriguing for decades to come.” Funding will come from both public and private sources, with Mecklenburg County committing $65 million to build the main library and an offsite “support services center.” The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation, through its newly announced CommonSpark campaign, is raising $50 million for the new library plus another $20 million for the library system. The Knight Foundation also announced a $10 million donation to the project yesterday. Public and private funding for the project is currently totaled at $135 million. Assuming its fund drive is successful, the library plans to break ground in early 2021 and open the new library in early 2024. This is the second time Snøhetta, Clark Nexsen, and brightspot have collaborated on a library project, after the 2013 James B. Hunt Jr. Library on the Centennial Campus of North Carolina State University. Other Snøhetta libraries include the Ryerson University Student Learning Center in Toronto; the New Central Library in Calgary; the recently-opened Charles Library at Temple University in Philadelphia; and the Far Rockaway public library in Queens, New York.
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Former L.A. Macy’s department store to be adapted into airy office campus
It was announced on November 4 that a former Macy’s department store in the quickly developing Rancho Park neighborhood in West Los Angeles will be converted into a bustling office development. Los Angeles-based developer GPI Companies purchased the mid-century building on Pico Boulevard and Overland Avenue for $50 million in February 2017, along with the adjacent 1,500-car parking garage and an adjacent six-acre plot of land with plans to transform the site into an office campus called West End, which will feature over 230,000 square feet of leasable office and retail space. With close proximity to the Expo Line’s Westwood/Rancho Park subway station and a bevy of global companies including Fox Studios, Google, Hulu and Creative Artists Agency (CCA) nearby, GPI anticipates that West End will fit into the neighborhood as an ideal location for media, technology, and financial tenants. New York-based HLW Architects, the group behind the design of West End, has envisioned an adaptive reuse conversion for the former Macy's store while still making room for a spacious airy three-level central courtyard and introducing primarily drought-tolerant plants. The design also updates the original facade, already distinctive for its deep arches, by adding private balconies and floor-to-ceiling glass windows which will bring much-needed light into the building’s deep interior. “The intent,” according to the firm’s website, “was to repurpose the existing valuable infrastructure to revitalize community, to create a pedestrian-friendly environment, and to open up a big box store building into the urban fabric.” With an estimated budget of $180 million for the project, GPI has already begun the process of transforming the mid-century department store building and anticipates that construction will be completed by early 2021. After that, Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. is expected to become its principal leasing agent.
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Jail to Grail

University of Michigan, Bedrock, and Related team up for a Detroit innovation center
The former site of Detroit’s abandoned Wayne County Jail project is slated to become the new home of the 14-acre Detroit Center for Innovation (DCI), anchored by a swooping Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF)-designed research and graduate education center for the University of Michigan (U-M). The plan, and the first $300 million, 190,000-square-foot new building, was revealed by the City of Detroit on October 30 and will expand the university’s presence throughout the city. The center is only the first piece of what’s supposed to be an ambitious multi-building campus, jointly financed by the local Bedrock LLC and Stephen Ross’s Related Companies, the first Detroit project for the latter developer. In an interview with Crains, Ross, a U-M alumnus, said that the complex, which could ultimately cost over $750 million, was intended to attract companies and innovative talent to Detroit. When all is said and done, the project will include a hotel and conference center conversion for the now-empty Detroit Police Department headquarters, residential student housing, and incubator space for technology companies. In that same interview, Ross pitched the DCI as a Midwestern alternative to the similarly-sized Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island in New York. The KPF-designed center itself will be run by U-M and will contain programs for up to 1,000 undergraduate students in their senior year and graduate students. The offerings are decidedly tech-oriented; the city stated that it expects the building will house a “range of high-tech innovation disciplines, including mobility, artificial intelligence, data science, entrepreneurship, sustainability, cybersecurity, financial technology and more.” Although no specific curricula for the center have been chosen at the time of writing, the university will establish an interdisciplinary committee to decide exactly what will be taught there. A startup space, coworking offices, and business incubator are also possibilities for the center. Construction on the DCI is expected to begin in 2021, with the glass-fronted academic building slated for completion in 2023.
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Lonestar Shade

Kevin Daly Architects wins competition to design Houston Endowment headquarters
Los Angeles-based firm Kevin Daly Architects (KDA) and Mexico City studio PRODUCTORA were chosen alongside TLS Landscape Architecture to design the new, $20 million headquarters for Texas philanthropic giant Houston Endowment. The trio’s vision of an airy, light-filled superstructure was unanimously selected out of 120 submissions, and three powerhouse shortlisted firms this summer, in an international design competition. Set to be located just outside of downtown Houston in Spotts Park, the building will give the organization a cohesive, more accessible space to host people from the nonprofit, private, and philanthropic worlds in their aim to create positive change in the city. The architecture, with its elongated flat roof canopy and striated glass facade, will effectively shade employees and visitors from the harsh Houston climate while also reducing solar heat gain on-site. Nature will also play a big role in the Buffalo Bayou-adjacent development; the large oak trees that surround the future headquarters will be mirrored within the building via interior vegetation.  “The living canopy of Houston was a huge influence on the team,” said Kevin Daly, principal of KDA in a statement, “the tradition of buildings that balance the being ‘a part of’ and ‘apart from’ the living landscape of the city was inspiring. We wanted to establish a continuity between the park setting and the vocabulary of the building.” Founded in 1937, Houston Endowment provides upwards of $75 million each year to strengthening the greater Houston community by building civic assets and donating to the arts, education, healthcare, immigration, and environmental sectors. It’s the largest organization of its kind in the state of Texas and currently works out of the 64th floor of JP Morgan Chase Tower in downtown Houston. The change to Spotts Park, when the new structure by KDA is complete in 2022, will be a monumental shift in the way the 82-year-old private nonprofit does business.  Ann Stern, president and CEO of Houston Endowment, said the building will help the institution attract new audiences and better communicate the work it does with its community partners. “We wanted to bring outstanding architecture to Houston to complement Houston’s notable architectural wonders, and this design successfully communicates openness and transparency while also providing a tranquil and inviting presence.”
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IP Man

Unknown Works uses 3D scanning to replicate fish and chips shops in Chengdu
The London and Hong Kong-based design and research studio Unknown Works has used 3D scanning to help create a compact fish and chips shop called Scotts TKL with a folding facade in Chengdu, China. Inspired by the aesthetics of the United Kingdom’s distinctive “chippies,” the firm used Lidar scanning and photogrammetry in various fish shops, including the original Scotts in York, to capture details down to the joinery, wallpaper, and salt shakers. From these scans, the studio generated point clouds which were then processed to form models that were sent to contractors—who normally specialize in making Disney mascots and Marvel film sets—to create CNC molds that were later hand-finished. The molds were cast in white glass-reinforced plastic which join together to make a sleek facade. Since the shop is only 345 square feet, Unknown Works placed the various facade components on axes so that they can swing out when Scotts TKL is open, creating more usable space and opening the restaurant up to the street corner. Tables fold down from within the walls. Unknown Works was inspired by the idea of “Shanzhai,” a word which describes, in the words of the firm, “the act of copying and imitation that is so often indiscriminately directed at Chinese commerce.” By reimagining the distinctively British chippie for China using scans of shops back in the U.K., the studio hopes to encourage a broader dialogue about cultural exchange and the dynamics of how the U.K. and China relate to one another. Unknown Works has used 3D scanning throughout their practice, including animations inspired by the theorizations of the artist Wassily Kandinsky. 
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It's Alive

South Brooklyn's Metabolist-inspired green tower rejected over parking concerns
A 14-story, sustainable, mixed-use tower complete with a senior care facility that's situated just blocks away from a subway station in the low-density, single-family home neighborhood of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, sounds like a smart, responsible idea. However, community board opposition may shutter that dream due to—of all things—a lack of parking. Last week, Community Board 15 voted unanimously against the development at 1508 Avenue Z created by Citiscape Consulting, citing concerns about parking space and proximity to the elevated subway tracks.  What's more interesting about this proposed project is its design. The tower features a patterned hexagonal facade and exterior greenery that together evoke the Metabolism movement of post-war Japan. Metabolist architects like Fumihiko Maki and Kishō Kurokawa approached constructing high-density urbanism through the forms and systems of living organisms and cells. The design of 1508 Avenue Z  takes their creed quite literally, featuring walls of CO2-capturing plants and pluming that utilizes stormwater stored on the rooftop. The Brooklyn Eagle reported that property owner SB1 Holdings LLC had requested for zoning waivers for the building’s proposed height, floor area, and parking, but were not met favorably from locals. One board member called it “the most ridiculous project I’ve ever heard for this area in my entire life. Period.” A former board member said it was "totally objectionable that you want to put residents with memory problems up against a subway station." Despite the objections, the proposed building wouldn't be unprecedented in the area. Just last year, a 30-story tower at 1 Brooklyn Bay opened a block away from the site and is currently under debate.  The community board's vote hasn't put the nail-in-the-coffin for the project just yet. The building could still get a green light from the Board of Standards and Appeals after further consideration and clarifications from the developers. Lawyers for SB1 Holdings told the Brooklyn Eagle that the already-available street parking spots should relieve the developer from providing the necessary 30 parking spots. The developers will also have to appeal to the city for permission to park ambulances in front of the building, which is currently a bus stop. 
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Flating Stacks

Wolfgang Tschapeller suspends over 100,000 books in new Cornell library
Cornell University’s much-anticipated Mui Ho Fine Arts Library is finally open in Ithaca, New York. Set within a 27,000-square-foot industrial building from 1911, the $16.9 million reading and learning space boasts four levels of floating bookshelves holding over 100,000 volumes.  The project was envisioned by Austrian architect Wolfgang Tschapeller, head of his eponymous Vienna-based firm and a graduate of Cornell’s master’s in architecture program. Alongside New York City studio STV—the architect-of-record, Tscahpeller completely revamped the interior of the historic Rand Hall, a three-story, steel-and-masonry structure primarily used for printing and, in more recent decades, as architecture studios. In order to upgrade the building for the 21st-century, the design team had to secure its exterior envelope, replace the roof, and add thermal insulation. Thanks to these changes, as well as the integration of new double-glazed windows, the project is expected to reduce energy in Rand Hall by 70 percent. On the interior, Wolfgang Tscahpeller Architekt and STV removed the third floor and reinforced its original cross-beam skeleton so they could input the suspended steel mezzanines where all the books would be stacked, according to Metropolis. The entire renovation took a total of 18 months.       An open reading room takes up significant space on the ground-level but beyond the books, the library is also a hub for art and architecture students to create. There is an 8,300-square-foot lab on the first floor with a material practice center featuring a makers space, a small-tool repository, as well as wood, metal, and digital fabrication shops. This dual utility of the library, both as a place where students can read and build, was one of the most important aspects of the renovation.  “Thus, we have two factories in one building,” said Tscahpeller in a statement. “One factory is for the material, and one is the factory for thought and concepts—both wrapped by Rand Hall to one interacting volume.”   Meejin Yoon, dean of Cornell’s College of Art, Architecture, and Planning (AAP), said this is also what she loves about the project. “The production of new knowledge, ranging from scholarship to research and fabrication and making, tying those activities together as all forms of new knowledge is exciting.”   The library is seamlessly connected via the second and third floors to Milstein Hall next door, a 2011 project designed by OMA for Cornell’s architecture department. The completion of the state-of-the-art structure spurred a number of improvements for the arts campus over the last decade which concluded this year with the Rand Hall renovation. Like the green roof atop Milstein, the library will activate its roof deck with outdoor installations in the warmer months.