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Philadelphians: How should architects revamp 30th Street Station?
The Ross Development Trust, in collaboration with the City of Edinburgh Council and Malcolm Reading Consultants, has announced the seven finalists teams that will compete for the design of the new Ross Pavilion in the heart of Edinburgh, Scotland. Located in West Princes Street Gardens below Edinburgh Castle and at the intersection of the UNESCO World Heritage recognized Old and New Towns, the £25 million project will feature a landmark pavilion to replace an existing bandstand, a visitors center with cafe, and a subtle reimagination of the surrounding landscape. The new pavilion will host a range of cultural arts programming.
From an entry pool of 125 teams, the following seven were unanimously selected to continue on to the second stage of the competition:
- Adjaye Associates (UK) with Morgan McDonnell, BuroHappold, Turley, JLL, Arup, Plan A Consultants, Charcoalblue and Sandy Brown Associates
- BIG Bjarke Ingels Group (Denmark) with jmarchitects, GROSS. MAX., WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, Alan Baxter Associates, JLL, Speirs + Major, Charcoalblue, and People Friendly Design
- Flanagan Lawrence (UK) with Gillespies, Expedition Engineering, JLL, Arup, and Alan Baxter Associates
- Page \ Park Architects (UK) with West8, BuroHappold, Muir Smith Evans, and Charcoalblue
- Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter (Norway) with GROSS. MAX., AECOM, Groves-Raines Architects, and Charcoalblue
- wHY (USA) with GRAS, Groves-Raines Architects, Arup, O Street, Creative Concern, Noel Kingsbury, Yann Kersalé Studio, Lawrence Barth, Stuco, Alan Cumming, Aaron Hicklin, Alison Watson, Peter Ross, Adrian Turpin, and Beatrice Colin
- William Matthews Associates (UK) and Sou Fujimoto Architects (Japan) with GROSS. MAX., BuroHappold, Purcell, and Scott Hobbs
“We were absolutely delighted by the response of designers from around the world to the competition’s first stage. The quality of the 125 teams on the longlist sent a strong signal that the international design community regards this as an inspirational project for Edinburgh that has huge potential to reinvigorate this prestigious site,” said The Chairman of the Ross Development Trust and Competition Jury Chair, Norman Springford.
“Selecting the shortlist with our partners from City of Edinburgh Council was an intense and demanding process. We’re thrilled that our final shortlist achieved a balance of both international and UK talent, emerging and established studios. Now the teams will have 11 weeks to do their concept designs – and we’re looking forward to seeing these and sharing them with the public.”
Finalists will have until June 9, 2017, to complete concept designs for the pavilion, visitor’s center, and site, which will need to fully integrate into the existing Gardens, which are of outstanding cultural significance and operated and managed by the City of Edinburgh Council as Common Good Land. A public and digital exhibition will follow in mid-June, with a winner expected to be announced in early August. Construction is expected to begin in 2018.
For more information, visit the competition website, here.News via Malcolm Reading Consultants. Written by Patrick Lynch. Want more from ArchDaily? Like their Facebook page here.
Ride Share or Ridership?
How does the design of Los Angeles’s new Expo Line stack up?
The L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has finally rebuilt one of L.A’s original commuter streetcar lines: The Expo line, a 15.2-mile long appendage that will link Downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica. Completion of the $2.5 billion route marks an important milestone for the region’s maturing 25-year-old rapid transit system. The lead architectural and urban design was by Gruen Associates who, with planning and design firm RAW International, crafted the system’s transit stops; Parsons Brinckerhoff carried out overall planning; and Skanska spearheaded construction. The Expo line is the transit agency’s latest effort to weave light rail travel into a growing, multimodal web of mobility options available to Angelenos—it is as much a new way to see Los Angeles as it is a train.
While the system’s 1990s-era subway stations play fast and loose with decorative schemes—from massive boulders at Beverly and Vermont to highly polished kitsch at the Hollywood and Vine and Chinatown stops—Expo stations are subdued. Mostly located at-grade and topped by a half-hexagonal mop of ocean wave–inspired, perforated aluminum panels supported by a sinuous, pale-blue, crisscrossing armature, the stations try hard to be poetically mundane. A product of tight budgets, the line’s many at-grade crossings and stations result in a crude and dangerous construct: Drivers are forced to acknowledge light rail trains and passengers as a legitimate urban presence through their sheer occupation of the street. This condition could benefit from a more aggressive transformation of the intersections and sidewalks leading up to each station: Introducing simple elements like bollards, contrasting paving strategies, and other speed mitigating measures would do much to improve what should be nodes of pedestrian activity.
Stations between Downtown L.A. and the University of Southern California campus are easily approached from the street via handicap ramps and feature no-frills signage. The concourses are, again, simple in their articulation, with a smattering of concrete and aluminum benches. These stations are earnest attempts at creating planted flags in what might one day be a larger, more prototypically pedestrian urban expanse. The empty storefronts along many of the tacky, faux-Italianate perimeter block apartment complexes in the area, while highlighted by the stations’ electric bolt silhouette, have yet to benefit from the line’s booming ridership. As of now, these stops are desolate, quite a few gentrification waves away from being viable transit-oriented developments. At-grade stops between USC and Culver City are also unsuccessful as stations, with complicated tangles of pedestrians, trains, and drivers.
The elevated stations further west, however, like those at Culver City, La Cienega, and Bundy, announce themselves from a distance as a new type of elevated object in the Southern California sky. Less majestic than Chicago’s industrial-era L stations, the elevated Expo stops gently appropriate the language of freeway vernacular, subverting the typical L.A. overpass by co-locating a landscaped bicycle path and potentially, future stations for the system’s new bike share program, along the length of most of the line. These areas are straightforwardly open spaces; the overhead bridges’ weights reach the ground via four discrete and compact piers, leaving room for drop off and transfer areas. Large concrete walls designed in great relief, populated with complex, pixelated geometric motifs and lushly planted with drought-tolerant flora line the bike path itself. Instead of dank, unwelcoming troll bridges like those associated with the freeways, Expo’s overhead crossings are places for collective movement, an aspect exemplified by their minimal treatment and the location of a variety of specially-commissioned art installations at each stop. Riders ascend via elevators and stairways to reach the platforms that provide molehills from which to gaze out over the city’s flatlands. But, because one is walking—and waiting—instead of driving, the effect is potentially one of true introspection.
The western terminus at Santa Monica is also a fundamentally pedestrian urban gesture. The station is built as an elevated plaza that cascades to the north in a broad set of stairs, funneling travelers toward major pedestrian shopping areas and into the intersection of Colorado Boulevard and Ocean Avenue, redesigned as a massive diagonal crossing intersection. Here, the intersection is striped with massive white bands of paint in a strangely fitting plaza and civic space for Los Angeles.
If it is indeed Metro’s goal to normalize multi-modal transit in Los Angeles, then the Expo train, with a few tweaks, is a good template for what the rest of the region’s rapid transit system might look like in the future. Expo’s design and existence is an unexpectedly powerful, if somewhat work-in-progress expression on behalf of transit-mixed streets.
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Architects and Planners across the country are harnessing the potential of Big Data to build information-laden city-scale models. By gathering and synthesizing such factors as traffic, energy usage, water flows, and air quality, the urban design field is hoping to layout smarter, more efficient, and more resilient forms of development. John Gendall logs on to find out more.
Scan the bookshelf of any urban designer or planner who graduated after 1980, and you will very likely spot a copy of The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, by William H. Whyte, the journalist and consultant to the New York City Planning Commission who advocated a new, more empirical way of making urban areas. Cities, he reasoned, ought to be studied with the eyes of a scientist, subjected to a sort of post-occupancy analysis providing quantitative insight into just how urban spaces performed. While his approach now has so much currency as to seem obvious, his technique comes off as quaintly primitive. Through the 1970s, equipped with a camera, pen, clipboard, reams of paper, and several research assistants, Whyte would ensconce himself in public areas for weeks and months on end to painstakingly document figures like use, traffic, and interactions, culminating in his 1980 publication.
Thirty-five years later, cities around the world are carrying out extensive performance analyses, but rather than relying on an intrepid clipboard-toting individual, they are turning to another source: Big Data. Having reshaped other industries—finance, public health, manufacturing, and, with Building Information Modeling, architecture—the wheels of Big Data are increasingly being set on cities. With that comes access to immense and complex sets of information that city planners and urban designers can now harness to make cities perform better. Applications abound: traffic can be made to move quicker, energy consumption can be brought down, view corridors preserved, and all of this can happen while budgets get trimmed. The “big” in Big Data refers not just to volume (even though there are unprecedented amounts of information churning in its orbit); it also refers to the number of different data sets. “We think of Big Data as a degree of complexity, not simply volume,” said Matthew Shaxted, a computational designer at SOM City Design Practice.” This makes it particularly well suited to sort through webs of changing interdependencies, or, put another way, through cities.
Take urban flooding, for example. With so much at stake, municipalities have started wrangling data as a way to become more resilient in the face of climate risks that are becoming increasingly hard to predict. In Chicago, where rain events perennially cause widespread basement flooding, the city’s Department of Planning and Development partnered with SOM and the University of Chicago to get out ahead of what has become a costly problem. Aggregating high-resolution point cloud data from the city, the team developed a model for how water flows and pools across Chicago. As Shaxted explained, “we then combined this with other open source data—vacant lots, single-family residential parcels, etc.—and we were able to determine locations across the city where green infrastructure would lead to the highest impact.”
But as it is with any information, big data is only as useful as it can be processed and aggregated. Invite eight million New Yorkers to lodge complaints over 311, and you will need a way to analyze whatever lands on the receiving end of that line. Cities are tooling up to do that work. In 2013, for example, New York City established the Office of Data Analytics, outfitted to aggregate data and collaborate with other city agencies in using that information. Cities, from San Francisco and Miami to Boulder and Kansas City, are similarly committed to leveraging data to tackle local challenges. Because volumes of available information exceed the capacity of any single municipality to apply it, and because cities make much of it publicly available, architects, planners, and urban designers have a new, powerful resource—and a role to assume. “When working in 2-D, it used to be that designers would come up with one or two options, then clients end up with one of those,” said Jay Mezher, the Director of Virtual Design and Construction at Parsons Brinckerhoff. “The advantage with Big Data in design is that there is so much information that you can make the best decision for each project.”
Because it synthesizes complex information, these data-laden visualizations can have a clarifying effect on project coordination. As Mezher explained, “with infrastructure jobs, it’s not just one client making the decisions. It’s sometimes five or ten stakeholders—cities, counties, agencies—so any decision needs to go through many different layers.” For its work on the State Route 99 tunnel, in Seattle, Parsons Brinckerhoff built eight different models within the city context, comparing eight different scenarios that involved underground utilities, all underground facilities, alignments, and an environmental impact statement.
This is what Justin Lokitz, a senior product line manager at Autodesk, calls “horizontal building information modeling.” To carry out that modeling, the company developed InfraWorks, the software used for the Seattle tunnel design that, as he said, “brings in data from different sources and allows different constituents and stakeholders to act on it—it makes data real.”
This modeled data allows these stakeholders to see the ramifications of design decisions. “For a highway job, for example, it’s not just cars illustrated on a road—it’s actual traffic patterns,” said Mezher, underscoring the distinction between projected traffic versus representing the traffic in real time, as found in data. “Then,” he added, “if you need to consider other factors—noise volumes, carbon emissions, construction schedules—you can incorporate that data, too, for clients to understand different aspects of a job.”
Long the very apotheosis of permanence, modern cities have come to be made at something of a generational pace, with major works grinding their way through approval and construction (with fingers crossed for their effectiveness). Now, as their flows of information become better understood, cities seem to be moving toward something more fluid, where projects can be tailored for maximum efficiency, and where they can be tweaked and adjusted in light of changing conditions.
Consider Hudson Yards. Earlier this year, Related Companies and Oxford Properties, the developers of the over $20-billion Manhattan development, announced a partnership with New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) to make Hudson Yards what they called “the nation’s first ‘quantified community.’” Working with CUSP, the developers will gauge metrics like pedestrian flows, air quality, energy usage, and waste disposal. As Related president Jay Cross said in a statement, “we will harness big data to continually innovate, optimize and enhance the employee, resident, and visitor experience.” Seen in another way, CUSP will be doing the work of William H. Whyte, but on a scale unimaginable to the 20th century observationist.
“Data is not new, it’s something city planners have always used,” said Kelly Floyd, who co-curated Chicago: City of Big Data, on view through August 2015 at the Chicago Architecture Foundation, where she is manager of exhibition and visitor engagement. “Daniel Burnham included train schedules and census data in his urban plans. Big Data is a buzzword now, but it’s important for people to know how their environment will be affected by it.”
To that end, researchers at MIT Media Lab are going after innovative ways to bring Big Data into the community engagement process, long the domain of sticky notes and colored markers. Its CityScope project has developed a tangible model that community members can manipulate in real time to determine just how their suggestions would perform. As Media Lab research scientist J. Ira Winder explains, “it gives the community members what a printed map and a marker could never give them: feedback.”
“The models work to augment existing models for stakeholder meetings,” he added. “These would provide evidence-based community engagement processes.” Likening them to Lego blocks, Winder said they would allow participants to see how certain changes would affect the entire design. In this way, it bridges the gap between experts and non-experts. Rather than having community members mark up drawings and maps at a public forum, then rolling them up and having planners and experts retreat with them to evaluate the efficacy of the suggestions, the CityScope model would short-circuit that divide, allowing community members to get real-time feedback. As Winder puts it, “a lot of the knowledge of experts can now be imbued in the data.”
Placed in William H. Whyte’s timeline, the use of Big Data in urbanism would be somewhere in the mid-1970s. Hypotheses have been made, tools developed, observations made, and trials run, but it is still an emerging field.
“I always preface conversations about this topic with the disclaimer that in terms of using data sources, we are still at the tip of the iceberg,” said Shaxted. “We are just starting the exploration, and we don’t fully understand what the outcomes will be.”
If the degree to which BIM changed buildings can be made to foreshadow Big Data’s potential in urbanism, the city scale is set to change significantly, even radically. “In other disciplines, there has been a lot of emphasis on certain scales—the cell, for example, or the brain,” said Shaxted, adding that this attention normally leads to big breakthroughs. “The city as a unit of study is just getting started, so once discoveries are made into urban systems, perhaps we’ll begin to see completely new ways of making cities.”
In early December the city of Anaheim cut the ribbon on ARTIC, the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center. The building’s significance cannot be understated: It is California’s first major foray into high-speed rail, and if all goes according to plan, it will eventually be one of the southern anchors for the system. In addition to housing high-speed rail facilities, the building, designed by HOK, with engineering by Thornton Tomasetti (Structural), Parsons Brinckerhoff (project manager and civil engineer), and BuroHappold (MEP), hosts regional rail, bus, automobile, and bicycles, not to mention shops and restaurants.
California High Speed Rail broke ground in Fresno a few weeks after ARTIC opened. The network is expected to eventually stretch 800 miles from Sacramento to San Diego and include 24 stations. Other major nodes are much further behind. Los Angeles is just beginning radical changes to Union Station, designed by Grimshaw and Gruen, and San Francisco is building Cesar Pelli’s Transbay Transit Center. Even Fresno is ramping up, hiring AECOM to study a station there. But car-dominated Anaheim insisted on being first. And ARTIC will likely set the tone for stations moving forward.
Courtesy City of Anaheim
The wide-open, multi-level station, which looks out at Anaheim’s Honda Center and the surrounding mountains, is topped with a diamond-gridded, 3-layered ETFE roof, and fronted by two of the largest self-supporting curtain walls in the world, each measuring about 120 feet tall.
The extruded arch structure— whose form was reportedly inspired by the area’s huge blimp hangars—is full of complex systems, and is aiming for a LEED Platinum rating. At its heart, it is a simple building: A large translucent tent arched over a stepped edifice, climbing its way toward the tracks. It is this simplicity that calls attention to the most important elements—light, space, and circulation. Being inside feels much like being outside, and the temperature feels perfect, not too hot, but not overwhelmed by air conditioning. Even when full of people (which hopefully it will continue to be after the opening), it does not feel too loud or crowded.
Sam Lubell / AN
The interior’s dramatic easiness is all the more important considering the concrete-dominated, shade-challenged landscape outside, which, while punctuated by rows of palm trees, is not as lush or welcoming as it could be. And because of alignment necessities, the station is far removed from its tracks, sucking some of the rail-inspired energy out of the project.
High Speed Rail has the potential to transform how Californians think about transportation, and to transform the state’s cities. But because ARTIC is located far from any notable urban center—the area is dominated by freeway interchanges and stadium parking lots—its significant architectural impact is more symbolic than practical.
But one cannot underestimate that impact. Approaching the station from the tracks, despite their lack of proximity, opens up a breathtaking, multi-story expanse below you. High-tech materials suggest the future, but in a natural, breezy way, not in the cold, generic one that many new airports and train station evoke. You are no longer thinking of the car-based atmosphere around you. You are thinking of how you can catch a train down here again. Hopefully thousands more will agree.
Creating a bridge from the Mall to North Coast Harbor and lakefront attractions including the Rock Hall has been something of a holy grail in Cleveland city planning for nearly two decades. Yet until now, the city has been unable to mobilize support and fund the project. The city failed three times in recent years to win a federal grant for the project under the TIGER program, short for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery.But now, Litt wrote, the city and county each agreed to kick in $10 million, which led the state to close the $5 million gap. A 2013 city-county partnership and the news that Cleveland would host the next Republican National Convention apparently provided the incentive they needed to take on the project, which officials said will be complete by the convention in 2016. The three design options are as follows: The suspension bridge option: The cable-stayed option: The arch option: