Search results for "LED"

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Vote Down

Foster + Partners’ Mexico City airport could be cancelled by referendum
Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the president-elect of Mexico, recently announced that the fate of the new Mexico City airport designed by Foster + Partners will be decided by a public referendum to be held in October of this year. Mexican citizens will be able to decide in a vote whether or not the airport should be canceled. López Obrador, or AMLO as he is also known, led a fiery campaign for president. He trumpeted leftist and populists messages while attacking corruption that he said was endemic in the Mexican government. The New Mexico City International Airport (NAICM) was, he said, mismanaged and marked by excessive and wasteful spending, and he promised to shut down the project if elected. López Obrador has proposed that an existing military airbase be converted to civilian use instead of completing construction on the new airport. The vote is scheduled for the last week of October even though López Obrador will not formally take office until December 1 of this year. The project, which was won by Foster + Partners in 2014, is well under construction, and stopping it now would mean losing about US$5 billion already spent. The project is estimated to cost US$13 billion in total, and its first phase has been scheduled to open in 2020. Foster + Partners' design features a massive undulating canopy with an exposed space frame underneath. In renderings, the roof surface allows dappled light to come through large open spans between large footings where the canopy touches down to the ground. Arup is the project's structural engineer, Mexican firm fr-ee is the local collaborating architect, and Grupo de Diseno Urbano is the landscape architect. The airport is planned to handle 66 million passengers annually and cover an area of approximately eight million square feet.
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Giant's Holl-way

Steven Holl-led team wins University College Dublin expansion
The Steven Holl Architects (SHA)-led team has won the University College of Dublin's (UCD) Future Campus – University College Dublin International Design Competition. Holl’s winning scheme will see the creation of a “green spine” across the sixty-acre campus, and construction of a crystalline Centre for Creative Design. Steven Holl Architects was joined by Dublin-based Kavanagh Tuite Architects, Brightspot Strategy, structural engineers ARUP, landscape architects HarrisonStevens, and climate engineers Transsolar. Nearly 100 teams from 28 different countries entered the competition, and a star-studded shortlist featuring Diller Scofidio + RenfroJohn Ronan ArchitectsO’Donnell + Toumey, Steven Holl Architects, Studio Libeskind, and UN Studio was revealed in April. The SHA-designed Centre will reportedly reflect the “60-million-year-old natural geometry” of the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, filtered through the “stream of consciousness”-style prose found in UCD alumnus James Joyce’s Ulysses, according to Steven Holl. The resultant building is a geometric take on SHA’s more typical institutional work, with windows and balconies carved into prismatic shapes, including a gem-like auditorium faceted like a dodecagon. A plaza and reflecting pool will meet the building at its base. Inside, the center has been optimized for collecting natural light as the jutting crystal shapes—rotated 23 degrees in reference to the tilt of the Earth—will act as enormous solar tubes. The new building will contain classrooms and maker spaces bounded by glass walls, so visitors can peer into the academic areas without disrupting the work going on inside. The Centre will act as a gateway to the seven new quadrangular green spaces the team has designed, which will be interlinked through the new pedestrian “spine” that will run parallel to the campus’s existing circulation route. The SHA team has included a series of solar power-generating weather canopies along the route, as well as cafes and social gathering spaces. UCD was founded in 1854 and is the largest college in Ireland with over 30,000 students. The current 330-acre campus was designed in 1963 by Polish architect Andrej Wejchert and contains a large number of brutalist buildings. The Centre’s budget will be approximately $60 million, and no completion date has been given as of yet.
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In the Fold

The Missouri Innovation Campus ripples with an angled aluminum skin
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The Summit Technology Academy of the Missouri Innovation Campus, designed by Gould Evans and DLR Group, is a new education facility focused on bridging the gap between the workplace and the classroom. The building houses an innovative educational program developed by the University of Central Missouri, the local Lee’s Summit School District, and area industry participants. The collaborative nature of the program inspired the design team when planning the building’s facade.
 
  • Facade Manufacturer Standard Sheet Metal, Kansas City
  • Architects Gould Evans (design architect), DLR Group (architect of record)
  • Facade Installer Standard Sheet Metal, Kansas City
  • Facade Consultants Standard Sheet Metal, Kansas City
  • Location Lee’s Summit, MO
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System Metal rainscreen
  • Products Custom metal façade by Standard Sheet Metal over Green Girts support system, Midwest Masonry burnished CMU, Kawneer curtain wall
There are three primary systems on the facade. The majority of the building is clad with a custom-fabricated metal panel rainscreen across the second and third levels and a curtain wall glazing system between the metal panels. The first level is clad with burnished concrete masonry units and punched windows. In an interview, Sean Zaudke, associate principal at Gould Evans and member of the design team, told AN“We wanted the facade system to be something that was innovative and simple; something that was very specific to the project.” The metal panel facade was fabricated from standard anodized aluminum coil stock, which was bent diagonally at two locations on each panel. There was only one panel type, which was rotated and mirrored across the building envelope to create a rippling effect that responds to light in different ways. Each panel is ten feet long and two feet wide with a return at the edge so they lock into each other. The dimensions of the aluminum coil stock govern the height of the skin, so the metal facade is twenty-feet in elevation. The metal is a rain-screen system attached to a continuous insulation barrier with a horizontal girt system. At the very beginning of the project, Gould Evans was working with Standard Sheet Metal on the design of the panels. The team started with a series of paper mockup iterations to test different strategies to discover the most efficient panel design. The biggest challenge was maintaining a rectilinear edge while introducing two angular bends. After arriving at a solution, the project team worked with the metal fabricators to optimize the design. At the point where the facade meets the sky, the metal panels are met with custom bent closure panels. These close the building envelope at the back while maintaining its undulating profile. A simpler flat closure panel meets the bottom of the rain-screen system. Additionally, simple metal returns negotiate the joint between the complexity of the bent edge and the straightness of the glass curtain wall. Gould Evans designed the interior to be a flexible, adaptable space so that walls can move to respond to programmatic changes. The design of the curtain wall is adaptable in much the same way. Every piece of the curtain wall integrated into the rainscreen system is the same two-panel module and can be added, removed, or relocated. The system can be adapted as the needs of the educational program evolve.  
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It's Going Down, We're Yelling Timber

Construction on Framework, the tallest timber tower in the U.S., has stalled
Disappointing news has come out of the woodwork this week: plans for the tallest timber building in North America have been shelved. Framework, a 12-story structure planned for downtown Portland, Oregondesigned by LEVER Architecture, was set to begin construction after receiving a building permit and a $6 million investment from the City of Portland to include 60 units of affordable housing. The developer, project^, said that inflation, escalating construction costs, and fluctuations in the tax credit market are to blame for the sudden hold. Despite massive investment, the project still had not met it’s $29 million fundraising goal as of Monday. The tower was on track to break records as the largest single use of Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) in the U.S., and would have set an example for possibilities in timber structures. It would surpass the already-built Carbon12an eight-story, mass timber building also in Portland. The research and planning that went into crafting the design for Framework were considered by many to be revolutionary in the field. Anyeley Hallova, a developer with the project, acknowledged the extensive work and collaboration the Framework team has undertaken with both private entities and public agencies since the design process began in 2014. “Although beset with market challenges beyond our control, we are very proud of Framework’s achievements and the new standards we’ve established for the use of CLT in the U.S.,” Hallova said in a statement. The project was also expected to be a building block for the revival of the state’s rural timber industry. Recent political attention has surfaced on the topic as Oregon senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley pushed for a half a million dollar grant last week to be awarded to Oregon State University to study the durability of CLT. The team behind Framework was also able to advance research through a $1.5 million award which it won in the 2015 U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  
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Carbon Goals

Saint Paul, Minnesota pledges to make its buildings carbon neutral by 2050
Saint Paul, Minnesota has set an ambitious goal to reduce its carbon footprint by making all public buildings carbon neutral by 2030 and all private buildings carbon neutral by 2050, as first reported by Twin Cities Pioneer Press. St. Paul officials found that 52 percent of all carbon emissions were related to structures and the energy needed to power, heat, and cool buildings, according to Pioneer Press. Another 37 percent derived from transportation-related emissions. In an effort to encourage a reduction in a building’s carbon footprint, St. Paul has created a competition for private building owners called “Race to Reduce”. Participants monitor and compare their energy use to comparable structures across the city. The city council also recently approved a resolution that outlines general goals such as inspiring a culture of energy stewardship, working with major institutions such as colleges to set energy goals that align with the city, and promoting efficiency in large buildings. Another key aspect is lowering the energy burden on low-income households, ensuring that no household spends more than four percent of its income on energy costs, said Russ Stark, St. Paul’s chief resilience officer, to Pioneer Press. Small changes such as switching off air conditioning at night, as well as buying more renewably-sourced energy from community solar gardens, will help the city achieve its goal. Under the Trump administration and its decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, cities around the U.S. have been setting their own clean energy goals and emission reduction projections. St. Paul joins cities like Seattle and Boston, which have both declared a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has pledged $4.5 million to help cover the U.S.’s commitment to the Paris climate agreement.  
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Mac Comes Down

Sections of the Glasgow School of Art to be “dismantled” this week
According to recent reports, sections of the Glasgow School of Art will be disassembled over the coming days.  Officials studying the June 15th blaze have observed a larger degree of settling and movement among the remaining sections of the building than originally anticipated, enough to prompt the investigative team to begin dismantling the south facade of the main library building, The Guardian reports.  According to The Guardian, a local official said, “The building has moved much, much more than we expected. The south facade is a particular risk and we’re now saying it is likely rather than possibly going to collapse.” The deconstruction efforts will be aimed at preventing the structure from causing more collateral damage and to avert any injuries or loss of life that could occur if any of the building’s bricks were to come loose and tumble down to earth. The areas around the school have been off-limits to residents, businesses, and the public since the blaze, which consumed almost the entirety of the library building, including sections that were still under renovation following a 2014 blaze that also caused extensive damage. Nearly all of the elements replaced via the £37 million restoration have been lost in the most recent fire. https://twitter.com/peterheath8/status/1009202184062472210?s=21 Investigators have been comparing on-site measurements and documentation with a highly-detailed 3-D model that was created of the building for the most recent restoration in their efforts to ascertain the extent of the damage. The world-famous Glasgow School of Art building was originally completed in 1909 by Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh The local official added, “[The south facade] will be taken down urgently to probably at least the first floor level, but safely. And by safely we mean it will take a couple of days to come up with a methodology to do that.” As elements of the building are disassembled and the investigation into the fire continues, debate within the architectural community has shifted toward whether—or how—to restore or replace the historic structure. Architectural historian Alan Dunlop has advocated against “replication” of the school while art historians and the conservation group Historic Environment Scotland (HES) have expressed cautious optimism regarding the possibility that the structure can be saved and restored.  For now, the school is working hard to stabilize and salvage what can be saved from the structure.  A local spokesperson told The Guardian in a separate report, “There is a consensus emerging that the intention of the building control people, HES people, and the art school is to save the building. Right now, people are operating on the understanding it will be saveable.”
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Paradise Lost

Vermont’s Mormon future city called off after preservationists sound the alarm
Plans for a utopian city based around the Mormon design principles of Joseph Smith have been scuttled by their Salt Lake City-based developer, after the National Trust for Historic Preservation put out a warning about the project. The sprawling sustainable city first made waves in 2016, when it was revealed that Utah millionaire David Hall had already purchased 900 acres in Vermont’s rural White River Valley through his nonprofit NewVistas Foundation. Those 900 acres were part of a larger plan to collect 5,000 acres across the four towns of Royalton, Sharon, Strafford, and Tunbridge, and carve out a walkable, mixed-use urban development for 15,000 to 20,000 people. Hall claims that the project isn’t religious, just an experiment in ecologically sensitive urban design (despite its location near the birthplace of Joseph Smith) and that the LDS isn’t involved in any way. Still, NewVistas' plan for the town hewed closely to Smith’s 1833 City of Zion plan; each square city block would be arranged in a rectangular grid along wide streets with prescribed setbacks on half-acre lots. NewVistas wanted to combine Smith’s 19th century ideas with 21st century technology and New Urbanist principles. The city would have been composed of smaller villages of 160 to 210 people each on 960 half-acre lots, all centered around common areas, with the villages eventually coming together to form an urban conglomeration that could be scaled up to house millions. The trippiest of Hall’s ideas? In a Bloomberg interview, Hall claimed that residents would live in 200-square-foot apartments, with Roomba-like robots that would shuffle furniture around when needed to create more space. Hall had picked up a total of 1,500 acres in Vermont since his purchases first went public. Now, after the nonprofit National Trust for Historic Preservation placed the four towns and surrounding valley under “Watch Status” on their annual list of the 11 most endangered historical sites, Hall has dropped his plans. “The charming village centers and idyllic surrounding farms and forests in four historic towns,” reads the Trust’s statement, “would be permanently altered by a development proposal calling for construction of a new planned community in this rural part of Vermont.” The move was abrupt, coming only one day after the Trust’s designation on June 26. Despite being met with fierce local resistance in the past, Hall directly cited the Trust’s mention and has now placed his land holdings up for sale. All 1,500 acres are reportedly being sold as one parcel to prevent overdevelopment in the future, though the plots are not all contiguous. Fans and aspiring utopians shouldn’t be discouraged. Hall has already dropped $100 million on kickstarting a chain of global NewVistas, and a prototype community in Provo, Utah, close to Brigham Young University, is still on track.
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Poor prospect park

New York City parks hobbled by age, underinvestment according to new report
Nonprofit, nonpartisan policy group Center for an Urban Future (CUF) has released a new report outlining the dire conditions that many New York City parks are grappling with, and it doesn’t look pretty. A New Leaf: Revitalizing New York City's Aging Parks Infrastructure tracks the climbing costs of required maintenance throughout the parks system, as well as the cracks (both literal and physical) that are starting to show in park assets. A New Leaf thoroughly documents the capital needs facing New York’s nearly 1,700 parks and paints a picture of the parks system through interviews with officials from the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), community board members, elected officials, park volunteers, landscape architects, and other nonprofit groups. CUF additionally visited 65 parks city-wide to get an on-the-ground snapshot of the most common problems plaguing NYC’s parks. The results paint a picture of an aging system in dire need of repair. The average age of Manhattan’s 282 parks is 86 years old, while the last major upgrade was on average conducted in 2002. The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens don’t fare much better, each having parks averaging in their 70’s, which largely have not undergone major renovations since the mid-1990’s. Letting the city’s urban landscapes fall into disrepair isn’t just an issue for park-goers, it also hampers the parks’ ability to sequester stormwater. The more stormwater that New York’s green spaces are capable of sucking up, the less runoff that can find its ways into the surrounding waterways. Much of the infrastructure in those same waterways, including the esplanades and accompanying seawalls, piles, and retaining walls fall under DPR’s jurisdiction and are facing the same maintenance challenges. According to the CUF, “The Parks Department’s expense and state of good repair capital budgets have been chronically underfunded, weakening infrastructure and boosting long-term costs.” As the cost of repairs has risen from $405 million in 2007 to $589 million in 2017, the capital allocated to the Parks Department has ultimately remained steady at 15 percent of the required amount: $88 million in 2017. CUF has proposed a multipronged approach for tackling the maintenance and staffing deficit. The group has proposed directing more capital funding to city parks as a preventative measure to minimize future repairs, making direct investments in struggling parks, capturing more revenue from the parks themselves, and fostering more park-involvement at the community level. Compounding the problem is a recent audit from city Comptroller Scott Stringer, where 40 percent of DPR projects surveyed were found to be behind schedule, and 35 percent were over budget.

"This administration has invested in strengthening the City’s parks system from top to bottom," said a Parks Department spokesperson in a statement sent to AN. "Capital programs including the $318-million, 65-park Community Parks Initiative and the $150-million Anchor Parks project are bringing the first structural improvements in generations to sites from playgrounds to large flagship parks. Further, as the CUF report notes, Commissioner Silver’s streamlined capital process is bringing these improvements online faster.

"Looking forward, initiatives like the newly funded catch basin program and an ongoing capital needs assessment program will ensure that NYC Parks needs are accounted for and addressed in the years to come."

 
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Rock On

Yayoi Kusama’s sphere-filled installation will come to the Rockaways this summer
Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is known for making work filled with circular motifs, and her upcoming site-specific installation titled Narcissus Garden is no exception. The installation of silver spheres will be on view from July 1- September 3 at Fort Tilden, a former United States Army base on the coast in Queens. The exhibition is presented by MoMA PS1 as the third iteration of Rockaway!, an art festival that commemorates the Rockaway Peninsula’s ongoing recovery from Hurricane Sandy. First presented in 1966 at the 33rd Venice Biennale, Narcissus Garden is comprised of 1,500 spheres made of mirrored stainless steel. The artistic intervention will transform the interior of the former coastal artillery installation with mirrored surfaces. The region’s military past and the building’s post-Hurricane Sandy state will be highlighted in the reflections of the sculpture. During the first presentation of Narcissus Garden in 1966, Kusama, dressed in a gold kimono, threw the spheres around and attempted to sell them to passerby on the lawn outside the Italian Pavilion. The performance was interpreted as “self-promotion and a critique on the commercialization of contemporary art,” according to a statement from the MoMA PS1. The art piece played an important role in marking Kusama’s career as a performance artist in the sixties. Iterations of Narcissus Garden have since been presented in New York City parks and different venues worldwide. The first iteration of Rockaway! in 2014 featured Patti Smith, Adrián Villar Rojas and Janet Cardiff, while the second iteration in 2016 featured Katharina Grosse. The series is co-organized by Rockaway Artists Alliance, a local non-profit art organization, and National Park Service. For details please check out this link.
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Inclusion in Architecture

Why are there so few disabled architects and architecture students?
In the United States, people with disabilities in the architecture profession and architectural academia are statistically invisible. Neither the American Institute of Architects, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, nor the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture collect data on the number of architects or architecture students in the United States who self-identify with physical or cognitive disabilities.  The groundbreaking report, “Inclusion in Architecture,” published by the J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City at the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York, does not include data on disability. The lack of knowledge about disabled architecture students and architects in the United States stands in contrast to other strides made in diversification, equity, and inclusion. The profession’s self-examination—statistically and culturally—has forced a significant transformation in who can become an architect in the United States. Looking at attendance in colleges, faculty appointments, and representation at professional events, architecture appears to be a more diverse profession in terms of race and gender than it was 50 years ago. From celebrated architects to the deans of the most elite architecture schools, we can see efforts at diversification making a mark. Diversification is critical in architecture because ideas about race, gender, ability, and disability are formed and reproduced in the design and construction of buildings and urban spaces. The absence of disabled architecture students, architects, and particularly academic and institutional leaders within the United States relegates people with disabilities to being a a topic of discussion versus agents of change. In fact, a strand of disability theory argues that disability is a relative category, constructed in spaces that produce disabled bodies and minds. But whether perceived as innate or relative, a medical sensibility underpins many discussions of disability in architecture, because if people with disabilities are considered at all, it is as the subjects within spaces as opposed to the creators of them. This is due to several structural issues that prohibit people with disabilities from envisioning a future in which they participate in architecture in all its myriad manifestations. One key area that limits accessibility to architecture as a profession is the actual buildings where architecture education takes place. While numerous architecture schools are entirely accessible to people with disabilities, the majority of the elite Ivy League schools of architecture—Yale University, Harvard University, Princeton University, Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University—have historically had physically inaccessible spaces for people with lower-limb disabilities. In the 1990s, years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Yale, Princeton, Cornell, and Columbia still contained facilities inaccessible or difficult to access for people in wheelchairs. Almost all of these schools of architecture have been renovated, but key spaces—lecture halls (particularly the podium of the lecture hall where people speak), pin-up spaces, offices—remain either inaccessible or difficult to access.  Again, many schools have these problems, but these elite institutions have a disproportionate influence on the profession. We have lost out on multiple generations of architect leaders with disabilities who might have offered key perspectives on architecture, not only because of the barriers literally constructed in the architecture of elite institutions, but also due to the ways we imagine the production of architectural knowledge. For example, architectural education requires a thorough knowledge of historic precedents, but how do we imagine the spaces in which this knowledge is acquired? Consider the imagined physical commitment required to understand the discipline’s history, embedded in sites such as the Acropolis of Athens, the Roman Forum, or Teotihuacan, among numerous other examples. For the able-bodied, these sites are challenging places to visit—an observation confirmed by the writings of architects including Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn, and Alvar Aalto. But both the Acropolis and the Roman Forum were far more easily navigated thousands of years ago (by contemporary standards) than they are today as “modernized” sites of architectural preservation. The early 19th-century Romantic notion of experiencing ruins under physical exertion has been permanently built into the experience of many important architectural monuments. This is a key aspect of historiographical aesthetics virtually unexplored in the literature or teaching of architectural historical practice. In other words, a romanticism of the body’s relationship to historical spaces hangs over the experience of architectural history, one that is furthered in the descriptions of these remote sites in classrooms and our expectations regarding the experience of the past. If the design of spaces of education and historical knowledge shape ideas about the abilities of architects, then the physical spaces encountered within architecture internships also require critical analysis. The ADA has enabled people with physical and cognitive disabilities in the United States far greater access to all types of buildings and public spaces. However, the ADA does not govern all construction sites. Even if architecture schools in the U.S. make a concerted effort to improve accessibility, there are several impediments to students with various disabilities becoming architects. It is virtually impossible to undertake an architectural internship without being able to navigate the relationship between the making of architectural representations in offices and the material assembly of architecture on a construction site. To imagine the increased accessibility of construction sites is utopian but necessary, primarily because doing so would re-envision the types of people who create architecture tout court. Labor unions might pursue this to further workplace safety. The latter is a staggering problem in an industry that is extraordinarily and needlessly dangerous: Over a 45-year career, someone working construction will have a 75 percent chance of acquiring a disability from a workplace injury. Construction work accounts for only 3 percent of employment in the United States and almost a quarter of all workplace injuries. Thus, we arrive at the most disturbing point about disability and architecture—the construction of buildings produces disability more than any other sector of the economy. To imagine the accessibility of a building extending from the people who dig its foundations to those who use its interiors enables us to reimagine what a building is at an ontological level. It radically transforms the disabled from being the subjects of spaces to the agents of architecture’s conceptualization and construction at the most granular level. Architects and architecture students are working at a time when discourses on diversity, equity, and inclusion have made measurable transformations within architectural academia and the greater profession. This has led to new generations of African-American, Latinx, and Asian-American teachers and students, the expansion of global architecture history curricula, and student organizations focused on race and gender, among many other outcomes. It is time that we let people with disabilities partake in this important transformation occurring in American architectural education and the profession. Of course, these forms of identification are not isolated, and opportunities exist for understanding intersecting and mutually reinforcing relationships among various forms of subjectivity and disability. In recent years, academic architecture panels, journals, and symposia have brought disability perspectives to architecture.  These are important contributions. However, in many of these venues, no architects with permanent and severe disabilities were present to represent this particular form of identity. As this article demonstrates, the structural limitations to a career as an architect with disabilities run deep, and the limitations to academic leadership in this area run deeper. To imagine disability having a place in architecture will involve much more than making buildings accessible or identifying people with disabilities and making entreaties to them to enter the profession. It will involve expensive transformations to the physical spaces of colleges and universities; a lessening of the athletic aesthetics of architecture history, theory, and design; and legal structures that will open a field like construction to more people. If we pursue these transformations in the accessibility of space, discourse, and construction, we will likely see a parallel shift in the types of people who imagine becoming an architect and leading this profession. In turn, the discussion of accessibility and its realization in the design and construction of buildings will enter a new, more sophisticated, and ethical stage of development. David Gissen is Professor of Architecture at the California College of the Arts. He became an above-the-knee amputee while an architecture student in the early 1990s – a surgery related to an earlier childhood illness.
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Risky Business

Renovation of the Smithsons’ Economist Plaza in London is revealed
When one hears of a piece of architecture by Alison and Peter Smithson being altered, the worst comes to mind, particularly when developer Tishman Speyer promises a "wholesale re-imagining." With demolition photographs of the architects' Robin Hood Gardens splayed across every design publication and blog, this protective instinct is more than justified. Now, London firm Deborah Saunt David Hills Architects (DSDHA) has completed Phase One of such a "re-imagining" of the Smithsons' Economist Plaza. And if evidence of this first phase is a precedent for the rest, then we can breathe a momentary sigh of relief, for the project is in safe hands. Comprising a trio of buildings, all varying in height, the Economist Plaza off St James's Street is a quiet enclave in the city, a welcome respite a stone's throw away from the tourist throbbing bustle of Piccadilly Circus. It was designed by Peter and Alison Smithson for the Economist magazine and finished in 1964, a decade after the Smithsons first took to the architectural stage with the Hunstanton Secondary Modern School. Tishman Speyer's decision to employ DSDHA reflects a sensitivity to the project, something it is well-versed in through its management of other 20th century icons like New York's Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center. Its decision to rename the complex to "Smithson Plaza" in the original architects' honor embodies this ethos. The Smithsons' contribution to architecture is enormous. As teachers, writers and academics, they were prolific. But as architects? Not so, and today, their eponymous plaza is their last remaining work in London. DSDHA has refurbished the tallest tower, renamed "Smithson Tower," which rises to 15 stories and was once owned and fully occupied by The Economist. Here, the lobby has had a facelift and the tower has new elevators, double-glazed windows, insulation and services, replacing the Smithsons' unorthodox and outdated ventilation system. A new, 1,500-square-foot public cafe (yet to be finished) has been installed on the tower's ground floor. However, this, combined with a reinstated public art program on for the plaza, heralds the danger of the plaza losing its tranquillity as it becomes both visually and programmatically busier. "We found that many people didn't even know this was a public space," Deborah Saunt, co-founder of DSDHA, told The Architect's Newspaper. Inside the upper six floors of the tower, renovation work has created 21,500 square feet of office space. Who will inhabit that remains to be seen. To its previous tenants, the vistas were a source of empowerment. "Perhaps our height also gives us greater confidence in handing down Olympian judgments on world affairs," the Economist wrote in a 2016 farewell letter after it had sold the premises for $170 million. The tower's facade has also been cleaned to reveal its pitted Portland Stone and Roach Bed stone. On the ground, the plaza has been resurfaced with granite, a material which has been allowed to flow into the new lobby where it replaces what was once concrete flooring. If you ignore the impending planters, the plaza has since become a much lighter space in a show of pure materiality. And when washed in sunlight, the tower's almost gleaning beveled edges are as tactile as any imported verdure. Only now do Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's (SOM's) 1990s interventions, adding a canopy and extending the lobby into the colonnade with glass and travertine cladding, seem horribly hamfisted. DSDHA has done well to undo some of this work, replacing the travertine with Portland Stone, for example. With the lobby gaining a new concrete bench, akin to an original external seat and now sharing materiality with the plaza, the colonnade feels primed to realize its potential as the threshold it was originally intended to be. For the time being, however, the canopy and glass frontage, spaced awkwardly close to the colonnade, remain. More changes had been planned by SOM as well, with two further stories proposed for the plaza's tallest tower. On the 13th of June in 1988, though, the plaza and its buildings were hurriedly awarded Grade II listing (the equivalent of landmarking)—a move which makes you wonder, particularly in the aftermath of the Robin Hood Gardens demolition, where the spirit to preserve architecture has gone. The Smithsons, of course, were aware of change being around the corner. In 1965, they remarked that in 200 years' time, their work "may seem an error." "But in our situation," they continued, "there is no other course but to build and to demonstrate." Even DSDHA's proposals did not come without backlash when they were unveiled in 2016. "The Smithsons’ best and last remaining London building deserves better," wrote critic Ellis Woodman in February 2017, as other architects voiced their concern. Some of DSDHA's plans have been curtailed. A proposed spiral staircase will now be a much simpler slip stair, which will lead to a new gallery space—a conversion of the former car park. These changes are due to be made in later phases as part of the addition of 4,600 square feet of retail space.
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Arched Areas

First Serpentine Pavilion in Beijing is unveiled by JIAKUN Architects
The Serpentine Pavilion just went international after opening its first destination outside the U.K. in Beijing, China. The inaugural Serpentine Pavilion Beijing is open to the public from May 30 through October 31, on Wangfujing in the Dongcheng District. Cantilevering metal ribs span the WF CENTRAL public square, and are anchored by cables onto the ground’s steel slab. As architecture in Beijing regularly deals with strong winds and earthquakes, the form of the rib resembles the profile of a bow, which is a design symbolizing how a Tai Chi Master has the ability “to conquer the harshness of those forces [resistances to architecture] with softness.” The design of the renowned Chinese practice JIAKUN Architects, led by architect and educator Liu Jiakun, was chosen because it responds well to Beijing’s unique historic and social context. It also references the past 18 designs of Serpentine Pavilions in London’s Royal Park of Kensington Gardens, including works by Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and other key figures. JIAKUN Architects was inspired by Confucius’s invention of the traditional concept of Junzi, or the Exemplary Man. The pavilion presents a space for people to be enlightened and to contemplate on the Confucian philosophy. The design is reminiscent of the Liu’s previous works, which combines contemporary architecture issues with an approach influenced by Chinese folk wisdom. West Village – Basis Yard and Chengdu MOCA are among his other famous projects. The Serpentine Pavilion Beijing will be the venue for five “Pavilion Weekends” over the summer and will host a series of art, cultural and lifestyle programs. It will also include lectures by celebrated artists and architects, well-being workshops, lawn parties, children’s disco classes and outdoor art-cinemas. The Serpentine Galleries in London has commissioned a leading architect to design a temporary summer pavilion every year since 2000. This year they commissioned Mexican architect Frida Escobedo.