Search results for "Public Design Commission"

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Not Quite There

Vote delayed again for Central Park suffragette statue with Sojourner Truth
It’s been less than a month since the Monumental Women’s Statue Fund announced it would add Sojourner Truth to its Central Park suffragist monument, and after the redesign was unveiled this week, the New York City Public Design Commission (PDC) put the project on hold.  In a public meeting on Monday, September 16, the commission voted unanimously to save the “Women’s Right Pioneer Monument” vote for another hearing. They asked the Fund and sculptor Meredith Bergmann to get letters of support from community boards and independent opinions from historians on the accuracy of the design—which the professional artist, who has over 20 years of experience, reportedly already did, according to Hyperallergic. Even Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer has chimed in with support for Bergmann, saying the road to a female-centric statue in New York has been long enough.
"A statue is a work of art—in this case, designed by a remarkable artist who relied heavily on history and the views of the top historians. Her art does not, nor is it meant to, depict an actual historical moment. "Furthermore, placing a statue of Literary Walk comes with many restrictions and obligations. The design must harmonize with the other statues there; it cannot represent an entire movement; it must be allegorical; the subjects must be from the 19th century."
In the above comment, which appeared in a New York Daily News editorial by Brewer, she alluded to the recent criticism raised by civil rights scholars and leading local academics that likely played a big role in the commission’s decision to postpone the motion. In August, a group of 20 experts asked the Fund in a letter to reconsider putting Truth alongside Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, over the fear that the representation could “obscure the substantial differences between white and black suffrage activists.”   Despite this, Bergmann revealed a new rendering of the statue at the meeting that included Truth standing over a table where Anthony and Stanton sat. The suffragists’ scroll that was featured in the original design was removed and an inscription at the bottom of the pedestal now reads “Women’s Rights Pioneers.” Hyperallergic reported that in an effort to address the critics’ concerns, Bergmann told the PDC she used body language and facial expressions to convey the tensions that might have been going on between the three women at the time of their discussions.  For the commission and those who signed the letter, that wasn’t enough. Jacob Morris of the Harlem Historical Society co-wrote the letter and issued another statement at the meeting, asking the Fund to place a plaque on the statue to give further historical context should this design move forward. In addition, landscape architect Signe Nielson, chair of the PDC, told Bergmann and the Fund that they will need to provide the approval letters and address some minor “aesthetic concerns” before next month’s meeting. Pam Elam, president of Monumental Women, told amNewYork that the team expected these results, saying, “it’s just another delay.”   Over the next few weeks, members of the academic community and other stakeholders expect to be more thoroughly involved in the second redesign. Todd Fine of the Washington Street Historical Society, one of the signees in attendance on Monday, tweeted that though historians might accept the redesign, "the problem is the lack of outreach and the secrecy." 
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Shot Down

Oak Park's historic preservation commission rejects proposal for Frank Lloyd Wright visitor center
A major move shook up the world of all things Frank Lloyd Wright last week. The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust has long been planning to build a new Visitor and Education Center next to the modernist architect's hugely-popular Oak Park, Illinois, home and studio, but the proposal to move forward was unanimously rejected by the village’s Historic Preservation Commission.  To accommodate the potential 9,000-square-foot welcome space, the plan indicated that 925 Chicago Avenue, situated next door to the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, would have to be relocated or demolished as a last resort. That, and later additions at 931 Chicago Avenue, where Wright’s mother lived—and where the Trust currently operates the site from—also needed to be removed, restoring the building to its original footprint. This didn’t sit well with the Commission or the nearly 30 people who spoke out against the plan at the public hearing and vote on August 27.  In a statement following the vote, the Trust said it is considering its next steps: 
“As a 21st Century organization, the Trust is resolved in its mission to honor the innovative vision and legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright and to further contribute to the vitality of Oak Park as a living museum of significant architecture...Our commitment to design education will ensure that future generations value achievement in art, architecture and design for which Oak Park is renowned. To retain the value the Trust has added to Oak Park over the years, we must keep pace with standards of best practice in cultural tourism and education and set a tone of forward-thinking that Wright himself advocated.”
Located within the Frank Lloyd Wright-Prairie School of Architecture Historic District, the proposal was slated to set the Trust up for a new space that would filter the 90,000 people who visited the famous site each year. Visitors currently enter and exit the historic locale through a cramped garage shop, noted the Chicago Tribune A design for the visitor’s center had already been in the works for the past few years since the Trust purchase 925 Chicago Avenue. The organization held a local competition for the project and announced in June that Chicago-based John Ronan had won. His vision included a reception hall, gift shop, a ticketing and information area, and an outdoor plaza with green space. According to the Trust’s chairman Bob Mill, the proposal was selected between it had a “quiet presence within the site” and used materials that reference the surrounding neighborhood. Despite what appeared to be a thoughtful proposal, there was overwhelming opposition to the project. The National Trust for Historic Preservation, Landmarks Illinois, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy all denounced the scheme. The Village of Oak Park said the Trust must submit a new application with a different proposal through the Historic Preservation Commission.  Last week, the Trust issued a noted saying it will not appeal the commission's decision, but instead reconsider its plan.
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Cradle-To-Grave Design

Hare & Hare tracks how cemeteries became thoughtful landscapes
Hare & Hare, Landscape Architects and City Planners Carol Grove and Cydney Millstein University of Georgia Press in association with Library of American Landscape History List price: $39.95; 264 pages Cemeteries are like cities. They need streets that efficiently accommodate traffic flow, harmonious neighborhoods of related structures, visual landmarks and vistas, and a sense of place that will attract not only its permanent residents but also visitors. Sidney J. Hare (1860–1938) was one of America’s most influential designers of such landscapes. “On a national level, Sid’s foremost contribution was his participation in the ideological and physical shaping of a new type of cemetery, one fit for the twentieth century,” write Carol Grove and Cydney Millstein in their book, Hare & Hare Landscape Architects and City Planners. What had once been spooky, gloomy, often remotely sited plots of land well outside the city limits for the dead, suddenly became, through the work of Hare and his son, S. Herbert Hare (1888–­1960), in-town locales that were very much alive. The father-son team of landscape architects, based in Kansas City, designed fifty-four cemeteries throughout the country and one in Costa Rica—among them, Forest Hill in Kansas City, where they would both eventually be buried. In Monongahela, Pennsylvania, and Grandview in Salem, Ohio, which would forever change the way the dead and the living interact. The team fashioned cities of the dead that incorporated macadam-paved roads that honored the natural topographies, introduced engaging architectural elements, along with lakes and plant features, and chose foliage for the ways they would change throughout the seasons. A kind of design mantra evolved for them: More nature and less marble and stone. The elder Hare “understood more than aesthetics,” the authors recount in this first-ever dual biography of the designers, for he was “grounded [too] in the technical aspects of dealing with nature.” Quoting Hare directly, the authors write that he considered the best cemetery to be a “botanical garden, bird sanctuary, and arboretum.” The book proves that some of the best-recognized and most prized city planning designs are often ones whose makers go uncredited. “It was not until the formation of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) in 1899 and Harvard and MIT’s offering courses geared toward future practitioners the next year that landscape architecture began to coalesce as a profession,” write Grove, a professor of art history and archaeology at the University of Missouri, and Millstein, founder and principal of the Architectural and Historical Research in Kansas City. This record of the Hares' lives and works reinforces the notion that the discipline of landscape architecture is “the fourth fine art after architecture, painting, and sculpture.” The moment the elder Hare enlisted his son to join the firm he established in Kansas City’s Gumbel Building in 1910, the two embarked on making some of the most resonant landscapes in America. One of the great American places is Kansas City’s Country Club District, for which Hare & Hare would plan some 2500 acres over a forty-year period. They would incorporate extant pasture land and wood into some of the residential neighborhoods, including Mission Hills, defined by narrow, sinuous roadways, interior parks or “parklets”, as they called them, and carefully chose flowering shrubs and sculptural trees. So obsessed was the father-son team during their work on the complex, which they began in 1913 with the developer, J.C. Nichols, that no element was too small to be accounted for—weathervanes, bridges, the fonts on the signage, the placement of public artworks, the locales for campfire sites and bridle paths. Grove and Millstein expertly detail the process for this city planning project, recounting that the Hares made more than two hundred finished drawings, apart from those they executed for some of their many individual residential commissions within the district. “Transformed by Hare & Hare’s plan—praised as beautiful, thoughtful, and original—Mission Hills was perhaps the finest neighborhood executed for Nichols,” conclude the authors. No landscape, no matter how seemingly topographically challenged, couldn’t be tamed and transformed by Hare & Hare. For their many works in Houston, for instance, the elder Hare’s vision for the new residential neighborhood of Forest Hill embraced as one of its defining scenic attributes what many would have considered its biggest natural obstacle—a swampy, sinuous bayou. Making that watery source one of its focal points was a revolutionary idea in its day. He and his son decided to depart from the strict street grid of nearby downtown Houston and instead fashion a series of roadways that radiated in arcs, outward like a giant fan. Meanwhile, their work in planning the city’s exclusive residential neighborhood known as River Oaks—some 2000 acres of land—endures. As the authors point out, “Fifty years after its inception, the architectural critic Ada Louise Huxtable condemned 1970s Houston, but noted River Oaks’ exceptional planning.” Other notable projects of theirs documented by the authors include Houston’s Hermann Park, on which the Hares worked for more than twenty-five years, the expansive grounds of Tulsa’s Villa Philbrook (now open to the public as the Philbrook Museum of Art), the city of Longview, Washington, the Lake of the Ozarks, and parks in Fort Worth, Dallas, Joplin, Missouri, and elsewhere. Ultimately, upon the younger Hare’s death in 1960, the firm could list some four thousand projects in more than thirty states, Canada, and Costa Rica. As Robin Karson, executive director of the Library of American Landscape History (LALH) points out in her preface, the book “covers so much formerly uncharted territory in the history of American landscape design.” Indeed, LALH’s ongoing mission is to keep laying the often ignored historical groundwork for the discipline of landscape architecture. Even though the book immerses readers at times in the thick brambles of city bureaucracies and office politics through which the designers had to hack their way, the personalities of the two men emerge, so much so that the book functions, too, as a revealing biography of them. We feel them in action. Of Herbert, the authors state, “…he recognized that good design was achieved both over the drafting board and in the field, not by one or the other.” “Sid and Herbert believed that good landscape architecture was both a science and an art,” the authors state. “Although they emphasized the practical, functional role of their profession, they firmly believed that if a city for a garden ‘is not to be a work of art, then it would be best not to build it.’” We are grateful the Hares designed it and built it. And readers should be grateful this book was published to keep their accomplishments acknowledged and flourishing.
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Paving on Parker

Morphosis, Renzo Piano, SOM among shortlisted for civic office tower in L.A.
Less than three months after the controversial demolition of the Parker Center in downtown Los Angeles, a shortlist of high-profile architects has been released to head up the design of a new, 27-story municipal office tower in its place.  The $700 million “Los Angeles Street Civic Building Project” as it’s temporarily called, is being spearheaded by L.A. Bureau of Engineering and has been in the works for quite some time. The agency, which oversees the planning, design, and construction of all public buildings, infrastructure, and public spaces, first introduced the idea to raze the Parker Center, previously home to the city’s police department for 55 years, and build atop it in 2016. At the same time, the Cultural Heritage Commission was trying to get the aging building landmarked but failed to meet the deadline. The L.A. City Council ultimately approved the overall proposal in 2017 on the belief that a new tower would be less expensive than preserving and revamping the Parker Center’s 319,000-square-foot exterior envelope.  Though design details haven’t been released yet, the upcoming 450-foot tower is slated to contain 750,000-square-feet of office space with room for a conference center, a childcare facility, retail space, and an underground garage. Initial concepts for the project lightly reference the surrounding city buildings in the Civic Center District, including Los Angeles City Hall, a structure of similar height. Plans also call for a landscape that links pedestrians to Little Tokyo nearby, according to Urbanize L.A.  After issuing a request for qualifications this spring, the Bureau of Engineering reduced the five submissions it received down to a shortlist of three. Below are those finalists: DTLA Civic Partners, LLC This local team is led by SOM and Clark Construction, funded by Meridiam and Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate, and managed by ENGIE Services. LAC 3 Partners L.A.-based firm Morphosis is at the helm of LAC 3, which includes Hensel Phelps Construction, Macquarie Financial Holdings, and JLC Infrastructure, as well as Honeywell International in operations management.  Plenary Collaborative Los Angeles Smith Group and Renzo Piano Building Workshop are working together on the design for the project, while Webcor Construction, Plenary Group, and Johnson Controls will serve as the building, equity, and operations experts respectively.  Once this shortlist is approved by the L.A. Board of Public Works, an RFP will be presented to the City Council ahead of any further announcements. Construction is expected to start next year and end in 2023. 
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Salk it to Me

Kenneth Frampton on the evolution of Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute
The Evolution of a Building Complex: Louis I. Kahn’s Salk Institute for Biological Studies By Jeffry Kieffer Artifice $29.30 In spite of its title, this book is not exactly a reconstruction of the evolution of the Salk Institute from the time of Dr. Salk’s first meeting with Louis Kahn in 1959 to when the first scientists moved into the northernmost laboratory block lining the monumental plaza overlooking the ocean in 1966. This book may be seen as a polemical essay that seeks not only to refute the negative reception of Kahn’s work by established European critics like Colin Rowe, Reyner Banham, and Manfredo Tafuri, but also to challenge the notion that the French Enlightenment strongly influenced Kahn. This idea was hypothesized in the 1980s by a number of Italian scholars, such as Marcello Angrisani, whom I cited in my essay “Louis Kahn and the French Connection,” first published in Oppositions 22 in 1980. Despite acknowledging the influence of the French émigré architect Paul Cret, who was Kahn’s mentor at the University of Pennsylvania until the latter’s graduation in 1924, Jeffry Kieffer finds it necessary to insist that Kahn’s approach was not typological. This term references the abstract type-forms promulgated by J. N. L. Durand in his 19th-century treatise Précis des leçons d’architecture données á l’Ecole Polytechnique, which was destined to establish the compositional method of the École des Beaux-Arts, by which Cret had been formed. Cret attempted to transmit this thought process to his students, notwithstanding Kahn’s socially committed, anti-academic stance adopted during his collaboration with Oscar Stonorov at the time of the New Deal. Despite Kahn’s initial commitment to social housing, Kieffer insists that Kahn in his maturity was influenced, like Frank Lloyd Wright, by American transcendentalism, although he fails to observe how this preoccupation was also evident in the work of Buckminster Fuller, who influenced Kahn via Anne Tyng when the two designed the gargantuan, geodesic City Tower project of 1952–57. Further, Kieffer skips over not only the countervailing impact of Kahn’s sojourn at the American Academy in Rome from 1951 to 1952 but also the simultaneous publication on Kahn’s doorstep, as it were, of Emil Kaufmann’s Three Revolutionary Architects: Boullée, Ledoux, and Lequeu, issued by the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia in 1952. Surely this work has to be one of the sources for Kahn’s hermeticism, more than Kieffer’s somewhat simplistic suggestion that there’s a link between an open Torah and the symmetrical plan of the Salk Institute, which comprises twin blocks on either side of an axial plaza facing the sea. If any part of Kahn’s Salk Institute proposal is hermetic, then it is surely his unrealized Meeting House complex, which seems to have been conceived by the architect as cryptically overcoming the split between C. P. Snow’s two cultures, i.e., the separate discourses of art and science—which may account for Kahn’s metaphorical treatment of the Meeting House as “a building wrapped in ruins.” Uncertain as to what might be the ultimate program for such a building, Kahn seems to have rung the exterior around its content—part lounge, part dining hall, part library, part theater—with all except this last being housed in orthogonal volumes. Kahn ostensibly modeled the theater, according to Kieffer, after Ledoux’s Besançon theater of 1775, but the theater associated with the Meeting House bears little resemblance to Ledoux’s form. Kieffer is at his best in his formal analysis of the Salk Institute, although even here the rigorous character of his analysis might have been aided by the support of annotated diagrams. Above all other considerations, Kieffer wants to convince us that Kahn’s constant preoccupation was to render every building as a transcendental light modulator, with light continually changing according to the movement of the sun. At the same time Kahn’s approach was often to assume an a priori geometrical gestalt as a point of departure, as in his 1959 First Unitarian Church in Rochester. His designs were also often inflected both tectonically and programmatically, as is evident from the folded-plate version of his long-span interstitial service floors set between the layered laboratories at Salk, a solution that was eventually abandoned in favor of Vierendeel trusses spanning across the labs. A similar inflection occurs with the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, of 1965–72, wherein cycloid pseudo-vaults span 100 feet as folded plates in such a way as to provide for both longitudinal pseudo-rooms and a transverse flexible loft space, thereby reconciling the inherent conflict between a museum conceived as an assembly of rooms and a museum conceived as open-ended space. Kenneth Frampton is the Ware Professor of Architecture at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University.
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Foto Finish

New York's Fotografiska gears up for its fall opening
The 2019 fall season will open with what promises to be an exciting new photography venue in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. Fotografiska New York—a collaboration between the brothers Jan and Per Broman and the architects of CetraRuddy—intends to offer a unique kind of exhibition hall for the city. It will not function as a commercial gallery depending on market fluctuations, nor museum/institution like the International Center of Photography (ICP), but rather its stated goal is to become a center or “community” for photographers and the viewing public in general. This project reprises the first apparently wildly successful Fotografiska in Stockholm, established in 2010, with another under construction in London and a completed outpost in Tallinn, Estonia. The global approach, according to the founders, is essential to their notion of a venue dedicated to focusing on major themes that touch upon “human” issues and aspects of cultures worldwide. This large, encompassing, and admirable goal will be better understood when the roster of inaugural exhibitions finally open as well as the building into which the works will be placed. The opening shows, which begin October 18, will include well-known photographers such as Ellen von Unwerth, Israeli Adi Nes, who is better known regionally, and will include fashion, landscape, and more conceptual works. The following November exhibition will be a retrospective of the iconic Swedish photographer Lars Tunbjörk, followed by three solo exhibitions by Nick Brandt, Julie Blackmon, and Man Ray. The institution seems to have done their research to identify artists representative of a wide range of cultures and seem to be covering all the bases, albeit with a rather traditional or unsurprising set of works. The photographs in the first show, however, are by genuinely accomplished artists and well worth the visit. Other artists who have been previously exhibited in the Stockholm location include well-known auteurs David la Chapelle, Annie Liebowitz, Sally Mann, and Irving Penn. Because the very definition of what constitutes “photography” today is in constant flux, it will be heartening to see what Fotografiska offers as a broad definition of the medium or media. The exhibitions will be curated by Jan Broman himself in conjunction with a staff of curators headed by Amanda Hajjar, the director of exhibitions who trained at the Courtauld and had a stint at Gagosian Gallery. Unlike many photo venues, this group doesn’t seem to have funding issues, and they certainly have the means to fulfill their intended program. The choice of the landmarked building at 281 Park Ave South for the New York Fotografiska outpost has proven to be an exciting, though challenging, one for the architects. Built by Robert Gilbert Wilson as the Children’s Aid Society Mission House in 1894, the faux-gothic building was not designed to accommodate the crowds Fotografiska plans on attracting. Exits, elevators, and plans had to be entirely revised and the space revamped for viewing a wide variety of photographic works from simple black and white traditional images, to the many new mixed media projects. What has resulted from the endeavor is an impressive and exciting new venue. The project wasn’t just another commission to the group. From the onset, the architects were excited to work with what they call the “jewel of the building.” The goal was to devise a system that would retain the flavor of the old building while producing a state-of-the-art new photo venue. Interestingly, they did not have any original/historic drawings from when the building was constructed and therefore required the structural engineer to take many probes and samples of the assembly to help with the analysis of what was required. The egress requirements for the new use required the entire team to strategize very early on in the process how to plot safe pathways for the occupants. Jan Broman with a team headed by Geoffrey Newman worked with the Landmarks staff in order to preserve the distinctive faux Gothic details that gave the building its charming character, taking care to retain the stained-glass windows and refurbish the mosaic detailing. For historical accuracy in the preservation and restoration, the team consulted with engineering firm Higgins Quasebarth. CetraRuddy’s initial concept involved opening up the space to afford an easy flow through the six floors. The vast areas, some spanning 560 square feet, would be reconfigured to allow for more intimate viewing and punctuated by areas for rest and conversation. There will be three total floors for exhibition space, with one functioning as a major exhibition hall, while another will provide space for alternating experimental works. The architects managed to incorporate the building’s existing, extravagantly sculpted deep poche windows into the project by deploying them to block out the daylight while addressing passersby. The notion behind this solar shading was to develop a way to integrate Fotografiska into the neighborhood by offering a spectacle that would provide the street a taste of the activities within the center while still remaining functional. The lighting system was another complex issue because of the wide range of photographic forms to be presented at the center. The design team researched to first determine the various requisites for viewing traditional photographic prints, often with reflective surfaces, to projection systems requiring more elaborate wiring and for which the work required a darkened spaced. Then, they had to develop a complex strategy for the basic support system for the building itself. Rather than simply replacing the columnar structures, they crafted a kind of bone replacement system—reinforcing from within to preserve the original character of the structure. In addition to the exhibition floors, the design includes a ground floor bookstore with posters and prints and cafe. The entire second floor is devoted to the restaurant, designed by Roman and Williams. It will function in a way similar to the much-acclaimed restaurant in the Stockholm center. All the pieces are in place for a unique and flourishing photo center that addresses global issues, with a particularly intimate approach.
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Not Your Average Mall

Remembering César Pelli’s lost mark on the Midwest

César Pelli, the world-renowned architect who passed away in July, will likely be remembered for his largest and most recognizable commissions: the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, the National Museum of Art in Osaka, and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, among others. But unlike many buildings designed by "starchitects" these days, some of Pelli's most compelling and controversial work has fallen by the wayside of mainstream industry discourse.

In 1968, municipal leaders in the architectural Mecca of Columbus, Indiana commissioned Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) to devise a masterplan that would reverse the deterioration of the city’s downtown area. Among other recommendations, SOM highlighted the need for a new shopping complex in the central part of the city—a project that would help to enliven streets and reduce consumers’ reliance on less centralized malls in the suburbs and exurbs. The city set aside two square blocks for the project, along with three additional blocks for parking, and waited for investors to take on the venture.

No bites came. After waiting in vain for property developers to take over the project, the Irwin Management Company, controlled by local businessman and head of the Columbus-based Cummins Engine Company, J. Irwin Miller, bought the lot. In order to build a state-of-the-art shopping center, Miller hired an architect still in the incipient stages of his career, a young Argentine-born man with six completed projects under his belt. César Pelli soon arrived in Indiana and made several suggestions regarding the composition of the center, including that a significant portion of the site be designed as a community gathering space.

Between 1972 and 1973, Pelli built a complex consisting of two main buildings. The first building, the Courthouse Center, named for its proximity to the historic Columbus Courthouse, housed conventional shopping mall. The other building, called “The Commons,” was connected to the first by a single glass envelope and housed a 63,000-square-foot, multi-level public space. Under 38-foot-tall ceilings, Pelli designed a 2-acre park that he compared to Italian piazzas, complete with benches, planters, and playgrounds for children. The bronze-tinted glass reflected enough light to prevent passive heat gain but also allowed for sweeping views of the street from inside. The atrial space became a popular venue for public events, with enormous structural elements and sloping roofs that towered above visitors. As locals increasingly frequented The Commons, the adjacent mall assumed “The Commons Mall” as a colloquial nickname.

The Commons represented Pelli’s first contribution to Columbus’ built landscape. The building stood alongside great modernist masterpieces by the likes of I.M. Pei, Harry Weese, and Robert Venturi—all of whom were commissioned through an altruistic program established by Miller’s foundation. The industrialist persuaded city officials to hire architects from a list of five blue-chip designers that he had assembled, agreeing to pay their top-dollar fees himself. Miller believed that high-quality buildings would help attract investment and talented engineers to the town, both of which would bolster the Cummins Engine Company’s business prospects.

César Pelli, in fact, had first visited Columbus in 1956 to tour the Eero Saarinen-designed Miller House, which was still under construction. Completed at a time when much of his portfolio consisted of buildings in coastal states, The Commons was also Pelli’s first project in the Midwest. He would go on to accept several commissions in the region during the following decades, primarily for institutional or corporate projects in urban centers and college towns. The Commons was the architect’s only built structure in the state of Indiana until 2011, when he finished the Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence, also in Columbus.

With its bulky, monolithic facades and expansive glass curtain walls, The Commons was viewed by some as a precursor to Pelli’s Pacific Design Center, which he finished in Los Angeles in 1975. The latter achieved far greater renown than the former, but their shared design cues are unmistakable. As Pelli’s career advanced and he reached the upper tiers of architectural prominence, his affinity for seamless glass designs gave way to a material approach that often included both glass and stonework—a stylistic choice more characteristic of the postmodern era. Many of his 21st-century commissions signaled a return to the glass curtain wall, a medium that has achieved greater flexibility and versatility since the 1970s. The architectural significance of The Commons weathered many of these fluctuations, so much so that it played host to the Pritzker Prize ceremony in 1994.

Eventually, in the first years of the 21st century, it became clear that The Commons and its adjacent mall were facing an upward battle against deteriorating physical conditions and increasing maintenance costs. The Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation bought the property in 2005 and began to mull over strategies for redevelopment, ultimately concluding that the retail space would have to be torn down. As part of the plan, The Commons was also almost entirely demolished in 2008, leaving only its steel skeleton and Chaos 1, a site-specific kinetic installation by sculptor Jean Tinguely. The building that replaced it, still called The Commons, was designed by the Boston-based firm Koetter Kim.

In a city where architectural heritage is both a huge point of pride for residents and the lifeblood of a burgeoning local tourist economy, Pelli’s building is one of few major structures ever to be dismantled. Much like César Pelli himself, it lives on today not only through photographs, drawings, and individual memories, but through an architectural legacy that extends well beyond walls.

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Design In Protest

Puerto Rican architecture students design counter-proposals to Hurricane Maria memorial
Architecture students in Puerto Rico have responded with a counter-proposal to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent request for architects to submit ideas for a Hurricane Maria memorial in New York. Francisco J. Rodríguez-Suarez, architect, professor, and former dean of the University of Puerto Rico School of Architecture (UPR-RP), posted a series of photomontages by his third-year students on Twitter (@paco-rsvp) last week—a competition project inspired by a class discussion during the first week of the semester. Some 16 pieces were made public on his feed, each depicting American and Puerto Rican symbols overlayed with contradictory images. One of the most scroll-stopping images features a group of construction workers raising an electric poll atop a pile of rubble. It mimics the famous photograph taken in 1945 of six Marines raising the U.S. flag at Iwo Jima. Rodríguez-Suarez told David Begnaud, CBS This Morning's lead national correspondent, that his students talked about the possibility of participating in Cuomo’s request for proposals, but ultimately decided to pursue making the anti-memorial imagery instead. They “unanimously felt the wounds had not healed enough and also questioned the appropriateness of the politics behind a memorial in New York,” Rodríguez-Saurez said in a quote on Begnaud’s Twitter. The journalist called the students' ideas "protest work" and an "academic critique" of Cuomo's RFP. In an email, Rodríguez-Suarez explained to AN that the project was part of a larger competition studio where emerging designers learn how to present strategy and develop critical thinking skills. They typically engage in four or five competitions per semester, he said, and the Hurricane Maria memorial was the first one they talked about doing. After debating the pros and cons, the students didn't submit work on an official submission but rather ended up experimenting with the photomontages as a set of counter-proposals. "Pedagogically, [the class] highlights the importance of architectural competitions as a means to provide society with better quality buildings and spaces," said Rodríguez-Suarez, "especially in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, where they are not the norm." It’s unclear yet whether Cuomo's memorial competition is gaining traction among professional architects or artists already, but given the support of the many New York-based Puerto Ricans who make up the 10-person commission to get it built, it seems the project will move forward despite criticism—even if it comes from the Puerto Rican government itself.  Regardless of the final chosen design, the UPR-RP students believe it's too soon for a memorial and that the American government doesn't understand their plight. "How does it occur to someone to make a memorial of something that's not finishing happening?" wrote Lourdes Sofia Jimenez-Rodriguez in an email to AN. "Much less in New York City, where I know there is a large population of Puerto Ricans who moved there after Maria and said they have done everything they can to help. But we're still living here every day." Jimenez-Rodriguez said the blue FEMA tarps that still cover homes around the country remind her of how far this disaster is from being over. It's a motif she focused on in her project. "For me, these represent the mismanagement of resources and aid after the hurricane," she said. "I wanted to make a photomontage of the capitol with broken roof and blue awnings because it is very easy to say that everything is fine when the one who is saying it did not really go through the situation."
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Anti-Terrorism Aesthetics

New 3D-printed, crash-proof benches debut in Times Square
This May, designer Jou Doucet x Partners, working with the Times Square Design Lab (TSqDL), debuted a 3D-printed concrete alternative to the now-common heavy concrete planters, bollards, and more traditional “Jersey” barriers that surround public places and prominent buildings across the country. Anti-terror street furniture is the often ugly urban peripheral that plugs into our cities to add a new feature—specifically the capability to stop speeding vehicles and other terrorists attacks. Doucet’s design offers what he calls “a different, humanist approach to security.” The project was commissioned for the second annual TSqDL initiative, which was created to bring new design ideas to the public realm—specifically, New York's crossroads of the world that is visited by nearly half-a-million people daily. On display and in use since May, the Rely Bench comprises gently rounded, interconnected concrete platforms that each weigh over one ton. With its modular components connected with steel rods, the benches are designed to almost act like a net, catching a vehicle and absorbing its impact. The design is nice enough, but the real innovation is in the method used to make it. The Rely Bench is the first product to be manufactured through HyCoEx, a fully digital production method that street furniture company Urbastyle believes will “revolutionize the concrete furniture market”. Little information has been made available about the technology other than it uses an extrusion technique powered by a 3D printing robotic arm developed by Concrenetics and produced by UrbaStyle in partnership with Autodesk, ABB and Cementir Group. Though extrusion is common with plastics, HyCoEx is the first method to adopt it for concrete; other methods primarily use deposition, layering concrete to build the final form. The benefits of 3D printing over traditional concrete casting include lowering production costs resulting from reduced waste material and the lack of required mold. Indeed, Urbastyle believes that the HyCoEx method “may one day completely replace mold production.” Perhaps most significantly, HyCoEx empowers designers to efficiently create any form or surface pattern they can imagine. The company sees it as a type of “artisan” technology that removes the separation between design and fabrication. The Times Square installation was just a prototype of the design and technology, but prepare to see more of both soon. The Rely is currently being tested against international crash barrier standards.
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It Takes a Village

CannonDesign centers a new Rockford Public School around a colorful town square
An 86,000-square-foot elementary school must feel twice as large to children smaller than three feet tall. But the interior of such large-scale architecture can always be minimized if the right combination of intimate spaces is created. When several schools in the district of Rockford, Illinois, were decommissioned, Rockford Public Schools enlisted the help of CannonDesign in the build-out of a new, community-centric, K-5 prototype designed with students rather than just for them.  “Allowing students to choose between alternate body positions fosters creativity and collaboration,” said Robert Benson, a design principal at CannonDesign. “We designed the spaces in this same spirit of mobility. Students move from space to space, lesson to lesson throughout the day and there is no stagnation sitting for hours in a single space. The architecture creates a physical outlet for the innate needs of child physiology.” Breaking the building down into different forms not only helps make it appear smaller and more comprehensible for such young students, according to Benson, it also helps build up their confidence. “This is critical for kindergartners as they experience one of the most difficult transitions in a child’s life—learning to step outside the home and into the school environment while maintaining a sense of safety.”  Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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The Harsh Truth

Sojourner Truth added to women's suffrage statue in Central Park, academics criticize decision
The nonprofit behind building Central Park’s first-ever monument dedicated to women’s suffrage announced last week that it’s including abolitionist and activist Sojourner Truth alongside suffragettes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in the bronze cast slated for Literary Walk. Critics who previously said the Monumental Women’s Statue Fund was whitewashing women’s suffrage are already saying it’s has made another major mistake by grouping the three historic females together and is calling for a redesign. 
“If Sojourner Truth is added in a manner that simply shows her working together with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in Stanton’s home, it could obscure the substantial differences between white and black suffrage activists, and would be misleading.” 
That’s an excerpt from a letter sent to the Fund that was signed by 20 leading academics on African American history and black culture, including professors from Barnard College, NYU, Brown, and Yale, among others. Leslie Podell, creator of “The Sojourner Truth Project” signed as well. They noted that while Truth did have a relationship with Stanton and Anthony and that they did all attend the May 1867 meeting of the Equal Rights Association, it’s not actually known whether or not they all were at Stanton’s house at the same time.  It was previously announced that the design of sculptor Meredith Bergmann, which featured just Stanton and Anthony, was approved as the official suffragette statue by the Public Design Commission (PDC) if the Fund made an effort to acknowledge women of color and their role in the movement in a future project. A model of the statue is now on view at the New York Historical Society through August 26. Though the addition of Truth to the piece shows that leadership behind the project is listening, their move feels less than transparent to some.  Hyperallergic spoke with Todd Fine, president of the Washington Street Advocacy Group and co-organizer of the letter with Jacob Morris of the Harlem Historical Society. He said he’s confused as to why the nonprofit didn’t include an image of the new proposal with the public statement. That would have given people the opportunity to weigh in on the final product before it was presented to the PDC. According to the article, the Fund has already submitted the new idea.  Those in opposition don't want the process to be rushed, or that a new design be chosen in haste. Either way, the piece is expected to be placed in Central Park one year from next Monday, so a dialogue to redesign it must begin now. And the signees want to talk. 
“We believe that there may be elegant ways to memorialize the full scope of the suffrage movement to incorporate these challenging differences,” the letter reads, “but they will require careful consideration, explicitly including black community voices and scholars of this history.”
 
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Not All Roses

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