Search results for "metro"

Valley Link Up

L.A. Metro unveils plans to link San Fernando Valley with Westwood and eventually LAX
The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has unveiled six potential alignments for a forthcoming transit project that could link L.A.’s San Fernando Valley with the city’s Westside neighborhoods and—eventually—with Los Angeles International airport (LAX).  The concepts were unveiled last week and represent the latest efforts to span over the Sepulveda Pass with public transit, an effort that is complicated by the route’s steep terrain, the presence of the Santa Monica Mountains, and the presence of Interstate-405, the busiest and most congested freeway in the United States.  Plans call for building the link in two phases, with an initial segment connecting the Westwood with the southernmost edge of the valley due to be completed by 2026. A southern extension to LAX could be completed by 2057 under the current timetable. For that initial segment, the six proposed alignments are as follows: Concept 1: Planners envision a 10-mile underground subway alignment that would link the future terminus of the regional Purple Line subway with the Orange Line busway in the valley neighborhood of Sherman Oaks, where the line could link with a forthcoming north-south transit route planned for Van Nuys Boulevard. To the south, the new heavy rail transit line (HRT) would also link with the east-west Expo Line that connects Downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Concept 2: A second potential HRT line would follow a similar tunneling route but would connect with the Orange Line station on Sepulveda Boulevard instead of Van Nuys. The potential alignment could contain as many as five miles’ worth of aerial alignments constructed to link separately with the forthcoming Van Nuys Line, as well. This route would run a total of 13 miles in length and could connect to the Expo similarly to Concept 1.  Concept 3: This alignment would follow the same path as Concept 1 but would be built using light rail transit (LRT) technology, a cheaper option that would ultimately carry fewer passengers per train at slower speeds than the HRT proposal. The underground route would ultimately run about 10 miles in length. Concept 4: This route would run along the same alignment as Concept 3, but would feature a mile-long aerial spur that would link to the Orange Line. Plans are currently underway to convert the Orange Line from a bus rapid transit route (BRT) to a light rail line, meaning that, with this option, the two routes could potentially share trains in the future, creating the possibility of several different one-seat routes.  Concept 5: Metro is also considering monorail and rubber tire trams for the Sepulveda Pass route, options that would blend below-ground, at-grade, and aerial alignments to cross through the mountain range. Concept 5 would follow the same route as Concept 1 but would result in a transit line that simply linked the two regions without offering the interlining capabilities of Concept 4 or the capacity and speed of Concepts 1 and 2. Concept 6: Concept 6 is proposed as an extension of the Purple Line route, an idea that would thread the primarily east-west line northward into the valley, where it could link with other forthcoming lines or even extend further in their stead. The potential alignment would be the death knell for the “Subway to the Sea” concept originally proposed for the Purple Line that would have extended the line to Santa Monica. That idea has been on the back burner for years as Metro has moved ahead with planned extensions that take the route only as far west as Westwood, where the line simple dead-ends.  Metro will be gauging public opinion on the routes over coming weeks and will announce a consolidated list of route options at a later date. The route is listed as one of the 28 transit projects Metro would like to complete before L.A. hosts the 2028 Olympics, so the timeline for the project will likely be sped up over the coming years. 

Transit City

Metro Detroit still struggling to agree on regional transit plan
Despite the weekly announcement of new developments in Detroit, from stadiums to skyscrapers, the city still faces a number of systemic issues that continue to plague its large population of economically disadvantaged residents. One of these issues, the topic of much-heated debate in recent years, is transit. The 2016 election represented a chance for the entire southeast Michigan region to reinvigorate its mass transit system, but a “no” vote sent planners and citizens back to the drawing board in hopes of a second try in 2018. The Regional Transit Master Plan, put forward by the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan (RTA), was meant to unify mass transit in the four counties surrounding Detroit with $4.7 billion in new investments, raised from a new tax and available state and federal funds. The RTA was founded in 2012 to successfully achieve this, after nearly half a century of other failed authorities. Going back as far as the 1950s, transit has been strictly divided between the mostly white suburbs and the mostly African American Detroit. And while there are many indications that this was a racial issue when the policy was made, today it has become an economic issue that many believe can no longer be ignored. Detroit’s transportation needs are enigmatic in many ways. The city is in the top ten for least car owners per capita, while it does not even chart in per-capita spending on mass transit. While three in five Detroiters work outside of the city, often in low-paying jobs, three in four jobs in the city are filled by workers from the suburbs. This means that Detroit has one of the longest average commuting distances in the country, a bit over ten miles. Many areas of the city don’t have nearly enough jobs, some as low as 100 positions per 1,000 residents. All of this together means that the economies of the suburbs and the city are inextricably linked; reliable mass transit would be an undeniable asset. The Regional Transit Master Plan was designed specifically to address these disparities and provide more comprehensive service to the entire region. Regional bus rapid transit (BRT) routes would run from the suburbs to the city center, new routes would be developed in currently underserved areas, and a regional light rail would stretch from Detroit to Ann Arbor. One of the major aspects of the plan, which was also one of the most debated, was that it would no longer allow individual suburbs to opt out of the transit system. Currently 50 suburbs have no mass transit system, as they have opt- ed out of the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART). This is cited as being one of the main reasons for service gaps in outlying areas. Another is- sue facing opposition was the funding model, which included a new tax that would cost most taxpayers approximately $95 per year over the next 20 years. When the plan came up for vote in the November 2016 election, it was rejected by roughly 20,000 votes, losing 49.5 percent to 50.5 percent. The measure was approved in two of the counties, and came close in a third. Alone, the fourth, Macomb County, was able to sway the outcome. One year on, the RTA is still trying to figure out a path forward with the possibility of another proposal in 2018. Not waiting for that possibility, the suburban transit system, SMART, is launching its own extended BRT system to provide greater links to the city. Detroit has made recent transit headway also. The QLine, a new streetcar that was in the works before the regional plan and which relies partially on private funding, opened in 2017. Currently, discussions have started within the RTA concerning a new proposal. Early ideas have included reducing the area the authority is responsible for. The RTA has noted that roughly 28 percent of the “no” votes in the election came from more rural areas that would be less directly affected by a regional transit system. As the RTA was specifically established to build a regional transit system, enacting a plan is more than just a goal; it is do-or-die for the organization. If no plan is pushed forward, many fear the RTA will go the way of the numerous other regional planning authorities before it. While Detroit’s transit situation may be singular in its dire position, it is not the only metropolitan area that has seen a renewed interest in comprehensive mass transit. This was highlighted in the rush of dozens of cities to bid for Amazon HQ2. In Amazon’s request for proposals, it specifically stated that it was looking for a city with efficient, reliable mass transit. While this did not stop cities like Detroit from apply- ing, many will likely point to it as a reason Detroit will not get the call from Amazon. Even cities like Chicago, with well-established, well-funded mass transit, are looking to the near future for improvements. The 2018–2023 Regional Transit Strategic Plan, put forward by the Regional Transit Authority of the Chicago area, just finished an initial round of public input, and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning is working on the On to 2050 plan, which includes extensive regional transit guidance. Chicago also happens to be a contender for the Amazon HQ2 project, and transit has been one of its major selling points. The path ahead of the Detroit metropolitan area’s transit future is currently very unclear. Even when suburban and urban agencies were able to come together behind a comprehensive plan, their constituencies thwarted them. While the city itself has enjoyed a recent spotlight surrounding new development, particularly in its downtown, any Detroiter will tell you that the city has a long way to go to match its prosperous past. Many hope that effective transit will also help bring economic opportunity to the many who have never had it.

Modernism Remix

SOM and James Corner to rework Pereira’s Metropolitan Water District in Los Angeles
In a surprise move, SOM and James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) are coming together to transform the long-dormant William Pereira–designed Metropolitan Water District headquarters in Los Angeles’s Chinatown neighborhood. Los Angeles–based developer Palisades announced the design team on Tuesday via press release, explaining that the firms would work together to convert the historic late modernist structure into a “a mixed-use project focused on innovative design, open space and community.” The release explained that SOM design directors Paul Danna and José Luis Palacios would spearhead designs for the adaptive reuse portion of the project. JCFO will be responsible for the landscape design, including the site’s public open spaces. In the press release, Palacios said, “At the heart of this project is a desire to reflect the spirit and the history of this property through a modern, forward-thinking lens that embraces the Downtown site’s adjacency to Chinatown, Bunker Hill, Echo Park, and the Civic Center.” Palacios added, “It’s a challenge we are confident and energized to embrace.” The firm has its work cut out with the tower-and-matt project, as the expressive cast concrete structure—originally built between 1961 and 1973—has sat vacant for years. A tower portion of the sprawling complex was redeveloped starting in 2014 as a mixed-use development called The Elysian by Linear City Development and David Lawrence Gray Architects. The development includes 120,000 square feet of retail and 96 live/work units. The matt remaining portions of the complex have languished in tandem and were almost demolished entirely last year under previous development efforts. A brief but unsuccessful effort was made to landmark the structure, but the building’s nomination was left unapproved by city agencies. Potential reuse of the structure, however, represents a bright spot in Pereira’s fading legacy, as many of the notable architect’s other works have—or soon will—fall to the wrecking ball. Historian and Pereira scholar Alan Hess told The Architect's Newspaper, "MWD was a key turning point in Pereira’s long and influential career as he sought to maintain the vitality of Modern architecture while adapting to the realities of the 1960s. No place was better suited to understand these realities than Los Angeles. As one of the city’s innovative architects, Pereira designed the striking MWD to be true to Modernism's principles while creating a livelier, more human environment." Hess added, "Nothing would be more appropriate than for Palisades [than] to continue Pereira's spirit of innovation by showing how adaptive reuse addresses the prime need of our times: sustainability." Kim Cooper, preservation advocate with Esotouric told AN, "We're encouraged to see such a good team assigned to this important structure, and that the site's long and influential past is on their mind. Preservation and restoration of the Pereira structure's great bones can definitely be a part of any redevelopment project, and we look forward to being part of that conversation." Designs for the project are currently under development and a timeline for project completion has not been released. See the project website for more information. SOM’s Danna and Palacios will both be presenting at the upcoming Facades+ conference in Los Angeles taking place October 19th and 20th. See the Facades+ website for more information.

Link Up

L.A. Metro takes multi-pronged approach to improving aging Blue Line
The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LAMTA) is working toward making a series of modest but necessary improvements on the 27-year-old Blue Line light rail line connecting Downtown Los Angeles with downtown Long Beach. The 22-mile-long transit link was the first modern transit line built in the region and with 83,612 boardings per day, is considered one of the transit system’s workhorse lines. The LAMTA recently approved a $81.5 million contract to move forward on several practical improvements to the line that would boost efficiency, shorten disruptions caused by maintenance work, and speed up overall travel. The biggest item on the list of improvements for the line consists of the addition of four new interlocking segments to the route. Interlockings provide opportunities for trains to bypass certain segments of track in the event of a stalled train or while maintenance work is being performed on a certain section of track, for example. The transit line currently features only six such interlockings, a situation that can create waits of up to 40 minutes when track maintenance is being performed. These delays typically disrupt service for several hours after the fact, when they do occur, snarling the transit system’s already spotty on-time performance throughout the day. The new interlockings are expected to reduce these types of delays substantially, allowing trains to run every 15 to 20 minutes or so, while maintenance work is performed. The transit authority has also begun switching out the line’s aging fleet with new rail cars. The line’s train fleet has not been substantially upgraded since the early 1990s, so the aging Kinkisharyo P865 trains will be replaced by newer P3010 trains, the same locomotives that run on the system’s Gold and Expo Lines. The first of the new trains went into service in May of this year and are going be completely rolled out by the end of 2018, according to The Source.   Long Beach is also working toward implementing a long-delayed light synchronization improvement plan throughout the line’s final stretch in downtown Long Beach, Longbeachize reports. The improvements would coordinate traffic signals along the parallel and intersecting streets that run around the transit line in order to assure Blue Line trains hit green lights at each intersection, speeding the line’s passage through the downtown area. Delays along this stretch due to the lack of synchronization reportedly increase travel times by between five and 30 minutes. The transit authority has also studied creating express lines between Downtown Los Angeles and Downtown Long Beach but has not released any plans to implement such measures.

Zero Columns

Metropolitan Opera House designed by Toyo Ito opens in Taichung, Taiwan
Toyo Ito’s Metropolitan Opera House has opened in Taichung, Taiwan. The Japanese architect's latest project was ten years in the making, with designs revealed in 2006 and construction beginning in 2009. The six-story complex is 624,000 square feet in size and features a 2,014-seat grand theater, an 800-seat theater, and a 200-seat black box theater, as well as rehearsal spaces and a restaurant. From an engineering perspective, the building is architecturally complex, erected entirely without beams or columns. It relies on 58 curved wall units to achieve its grand, curved interiors. Support for its construction was donated by the city government to the Ministry of Culture in Taiwan, according to Taipei Times. "I aimed to create the architecture of this opera house in such a way that the inside and outside are continuous in a like manner to how bodies are connected to nature through organs such as the mouth, nose, and ears," Ito told Domus. Ito has earned numerous awards for his designs, including a Pritzker Prize in 2013, and a Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture in 2014. The International Museum of the Baroque, designed by Ito, opened in Puebla, Mexico earlier this year. The National Audit Office in Taipei stated that the Metropolitan Opera House will likely run at an annual deficit of $4.7 million, according to Taipei Times. In response, vice supervisor for the theater’s promotional affairs Lin Chia-feng called the government's focus on "profits and losses" a "narrow approach." "The theater also has a mission of assisting and fostering the development of local and national performance troupes,” Lin said. 

1100 Architect

Archtober’s Building of the Day: Metro Pictures Gallery
This is the fifth in a series of guests posts that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours! metro_6018_1 When Metro Pictures Gallery’s Helene Winer and Janelle Reiring approached 1100 Architect about a substantial design overhaul of their sleek Chelsea location, they knew they were in good hands. After all, 1100 had masterfully handled a previous renovation in 2007. There was one caveat: The firm had only three months to complete the project. What 1100 produced is nothing short of elegant. With its stark white walls, high-sheen concrete floors, and 16-foot-high ceilings, Metro Pictures Gallery exudes a timeless downtown art gallery vibe. Although its dichromatic color scheme of white and gray is typical of such establishments, Metro Pictures Gallery’s spatial flow and generous allowance of natural light make it a gallery worth visiting. metro_6023_2 The most aesthetically pleasing update to the 2007 design is inarguably the staircase that connects the first- and second-floor galleries. The previous staircase was a statuesque element fabricated from blackened steel. The new staircase has been moved into the wall behind the reception desk and is now fabricated with welded aluminum sheets. The handrails, made of Corian, and the stairs are both uninterrupted by fasteners, making this basic architectural element feel at once fluid and artful. metro_6085_3 What is most impressive about the building isn’t its aesthetics, but rather its practicality. Without increasing the structure’s overall footprint, 1100 added an extra 16 percent of exhibition space to the gallery. The firm also eliminated the gallery’s vestibule, increasing gallery space and creating a direct visual link from an outside viewer to the art within. All in all, the amount of exhibition space increased by 350 square feet for a remaining total of 9,000 square feet. metro_6088_4 1100 not only had to accommodate visual changes in its revamp of Metro Picture Gallery’s design, but climate-related changes as well. When Hurricane Sandy hit New York City in 2012, four feet of water flooded the building. A careful redesign of Metro Picture Gallery’s storage space allows art to be saved from natural disasters—a fate that some pieces did not meet during the storm. The building has also been outfitted with climate-control infrastructure. Principal architect and designer David Piscuskas, FAIA echoed a sentiment most architects feel now with regards to climate change when he explained, “Architects don’t pay attention to 100-year events; we pay attention to 500-year events.” metro_6046_5 Metro Pictures Gallery opened in May with a Cindy Sherman show and high praise for its new design. But the highest praise (and that which Piscuskas feels most proud of) came from Winer and Reiring when they said, “It feels like we moved when we didn’t.” metro_6067_6 About the author: Anna Gibertini is a freelance journalist based in the New York metropolitan area. She contributes regularly to The ArtBlog, a Philadelphia-based arts and culture publication, and has had work published in Charleston, South Carolina's Post & Courier and Syracuse, New York's The Post Standard. She recently graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications with a master's in arts journalism.

Gold in Them Hills

L.A. Metro completes 11.5 mile extension to Azusa, aims for Montclair next

This year, a new northward extension of the Gold Line (Pasadena to Azusa) and the Expo line (Culver City to Santa Monica) are opening or have opened to the public, and a third extension of the Gold Line (Glendora to Montclair) may break ground as soon as the summer of 2017, pending the adoption and passage of a November ballot initiative to raise the sales tax by half a cent over the next 40 years. The initiative would also retain the voter-approved sales tax increase of 2008’s Measure R. A southward extension of the Gold Line (Downtown to East L.A.) and the first spur of the Expo (Downtown to Culver City) were among the projects funded by Measure R and opened in 2009 and 2012, respectively.

The Gold Line’s extension into these heretofore car-centric burgs isn’t just about increasing ridership by 13,600 daily boardings by 2035; it’s also a way to make once relatively inaccessible areas part of a newly defined urban corridor. At least, this was the thinking underpinning many of the speeches given by public officials such as L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti on the Gold Line extension’s opening day ceremony on March 5. “We want to come here and visit our friends here too,” he said, before remarking that “we want to see a vibrant region that eases congestion for everybody.”

The Gold Line’s northward extension has occurred in three primary phases: first, from downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena, then from Pasadena to Azusa, and now potentially from Glendora to Montclair. While the Metro operates the trains and manages the fares, a separate agency known as the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority is responsible for all of the planning, stakeholder meetings, and each construction phase. Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority CEO Habib F. Balian remarked in a phone interview that the March 5th opening was “very successful. It’s very complicated when you start operation of a project like this, let alone when it’s transferred from one agency to another. But it’s all gone very well.” Balian has overseen phase two and is already 30 percent into the design and engineering planning of phase three. His hope is to be “shovel ready” by the summer of 2017, if this November’s proposed ballot initiative passes.

Balian’s duties as planner aren’t simply about navigating the geotechnical challenges of laying track on top of the earthquake-fault-prone soil of Southern California, but also creating a piece of infrastructure that will hopefully add as much beauty as it does efficiency to its environs. In phase two, Balian and his team decided to make a bridge over the 210 freeway a significant part of the new line. “Once we got the funding in place in 2008 for the 210 bridge specifically, I thought ‘what a great opportunity to make it a gateway.’ If we started early enough and gave real direction to the designers and brought on an artist, it wouldn’t cost us any more than if we did it any later in the project.” Artist Andrew Leicester was commissioned to work on the bridge, while artist Christie Beniston helped select an orange highlight color for the previously gray operations campus in Monrovia. If phase three gets its funding, Balian is already working with artists to create meaningful motifs and patterns for the line’s alignment, which includes retaining walls, sound walls, bridgework, and abutment walls.

The result is a section of public transit that heavily incorporates aesthetic considerations while making it possible for a resident of Azusa to get to downtown L.A. in under 50 minutes, regardless of traffic conditions. 

The Met

$600 million Chipperfield expansion for Metropolitan Museum of Art put on hold
Slightly more than a year after British architect David Chipperfield was selected to redesign portions of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the project has been put on hold. Museum officials disclosed last month that they plan to temporarily suspend design work on the $600 million expansion project as part of an institution-wide effort to restructure finances and address a $10 million deficit. They said the restructuring would be a two year process and that a time frame for resuming design work on the expansion would depend on the pace of fundraising for it. The Chipperfield project will “be quiet for a while,” The New York Times quoted museum president Daniel Weiss as saying. “The pace of the project is slowing,” Weiss said, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Met’s disclosure came in the same week that Museum of Modern Art officials announced a $100 million gift from entertainment mogul David Geffen to help fund their expansion, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Three floors of the museum’s new galleries will be named The David Geffen Wing in recognition of the donation, museum officials said. In March of 2015, officials at the Met announced that the museum selected David Chipperfield Architects to design an expansion, which most likely would involve demolition of the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing in the museum’s southwest corner, to increase exhibition space for modern and contemporary art and to double the size of the Roof Garden above the Wallace Wing. At the time, Met officials indicated Chipperfield also might become involved in redesigning other areas of the museum, including “adjacent galleries devoted to the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, as well as additional operational spaces.” In effect, he was being tapped to take on the design role at the museum that Kevin Roche had for many years. Demolition of the 110,000-square-foot Wallace wing, which Roche designed and which opened in 1987, would need approval from New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission and others. In April of 2016, museum leaders disclosed that they plan a series of budget cuts and that the timing of the Chipperfield project would be affected. They said the schematic design phase has been completed and that they will wait to proceed with any more design work until money for the project has been raised. Other aspects of the restructuring include a reduction in staff through voluntary buyouts or layoffs or both, a hiring freeze, and scaling back some exhibition programming, as well as efforts to maximize revenues. The cutbacks follow a period of expansion for the Met, including the opening of the Met Breuer satellite museum inside the former home of the Whitney Museum on Madison Avenue, and a reported $3 million campaign to develop a new branding approach for the institution. Chipperfield’s previous museum projects include the Neues Museum in Berlin, Museo Jumex in Mexico City, the Saint Louis Art Museum and The Hepworth in Wakefield, England. Last month, Chipperfield’s design for a new Nobel Center in Stockholm received approval from the city council there. The Met has been drawing more than six million visitors a year, even before the Met Breuer opened. According to a 2014 report in The Art Newspaper, it ranks as one of the three busiest museums in the world in terms of attendance, after the Louvre and the British Museum.

Beyer Blinder Belle restoring Marcel Breuer’s Whitney building for 2016 reopening under the Metropolitan Museum
The Met Breuer will throw open its doors in March 2016 for the first season of contemporary art programming under the banner of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Breuer's iconic building, formerly the Whitney Museum of American Art, is currently being "invigorated by renovations that will support a fluid, integrated experience of art and architecture," as the Met's press release proudly declares. The renovation seeks to integrate art throughout the entire museum. Immediately upon entering, visitors will be greeted by artist-in-residence Vijay Iyer, who will be conducting a performance installation. It's a short elevator ride up to four additional floors of "contemporary art in dialogue with historic works" in the Met's collection. “The Met is proud to become the steward of this iconic building and to preserve Marcel Breuer’s bold vision,” said Thomas P. Campbell, director and CEO of the Met, said in a statement. “Our approach to inhabiting and interpreting the building honors Breuer’s intent for the space, highlighting its unique character as an environment for the presentation of modern and contemporary art. The wonderfully scaled galleries and interior spaces of The Met Breuer provide a range of opportunities to present our modern and contemporary program, in addition to our galleries in the Fifth Avenue building.” Beyer Blinder Belle is spearheading the restoration efforts, including touching up Breuer's distinct concrete walls, stone floors, bronze fixtures, and lighting. The architects are working hard to preserve the building's weathered patina rather than scrubbing and polishing its history away. A streamlined entry sequence, new restaurant, sunken garden, and "book bar" retail shop are also planned. "What should a museum look like, a museum in Manhattan?" Breuer asked in 1963 upon receiving the commission to design the new Whitney. "It is easier to say first what it should not look like. It should not look like a business or office building, nor should it look like a place of light entertainment. Its form and its material should have identity and weight in the neighborhood of 50-story skyscrapers, of mile-long bridges, in the midst of the dynamic jungle of our colorful city. It should be an independent and self-relying unit, exposed to history, and at the same time it should transform the vitality of the street into the sincerity and profundity of art." The inaugural showing includes free entry to the lobby and lower-level galleries. According to the Met:
The inaugural season of The Met Breuer features a major cross-departmental curatorial initiative to present a historic examination of unfinished works of art; the largest exhibition to date dedicated to Indian modernist Nasreen Mohamedi; and a month-long performance installation, by Artist in Residence Vijay Iyer. Upcoming exhibitions include a presentation of Diane Arbus’s rarely seen early photographic works (July 11– November 27, 2016), and the first museum retrospective dedicated to Kerry James Marshall (October 25, 2016 – January 22, 2017).
The building has been vacant since the Whitney decamped for its new Renzo Piano–designed Meatpacking outpost perches astride the High Line. Meanwhile Uptown, Richard Morris Hunt's grand Beaux Arts beauty is in the midst of a conceptual plan by David Chipperfield Architects that will eventually guide the redesign of the complex's Southwest Wing.

Feds tout new $100 million bus rapid transit plans for metro Indianapolis
United States Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recently delivered some welcome news to proponents of bus rapid transit (BRT) in Indianapolis. "The city is on throes of launching something unique,” Foxx said in April while touring the proposed system's first leg, the 28-mile, $100 million electric bus route known as the Red Line. "Transit can be the difference between someone having a shot and not having one in the 21st-century economy.” Central Indiana has struggled for years to scrape together enough money to expand public transit throughout the metropolitan area under an ambitious $1.2 billion transportation plan, known as IndyConnect. The Red Line is a key component of that plan, eventually connecting Hamilton, Marion, and Johnson Counties with a north-south, electric bus rapid transit route that would stop at local landmarks like the state fairgrounds and the Carmel Arts District. About 100,000 people live within a half mile of the Red Line and 169,000 people work within a half-mile of it, according to the Indianapolis Star. Last year Indianapolis won $2 million from the federal government for an environmental study of the Red Line, adding to a pot of a few million dollars already established by the city and surrounding suburbs. The project is now eligible for a federal construction grant of up to $50 million.

What’s shaking up Dallas-Fort Worth? Dozens of earthquakes rattling the Texas metroplex
15138051297_021221e45d Thirty-four earthquakes have occurred in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex city of Irving since October 2014. Over the past week, the Dallas suburb has been shaken by a number of earthquakes from a common source point lying roughly below the former site of Texas Stadium. Those 34 quakes have contributed to the over 130 occurrences since 2008. The number is staggering considering the seismic activity in the region was non-existent prior.   stadium The number is considerable but perhaps even more alarming has been the recent magnitude. On January 6, two quakes at 3.5 and 3.6, recorded at a depth of 3 to 4 miles below the surface, were felt as far as the central business district in Dallas. With the ongoing seismic activity has come a series of debates focused around the recent spike in number with fingers pointing directly at the increased fracking activity in the region. Though occurrences have been numerous, reports of damage have been minor. The speculation is just given the source’s proximity to the Balcones Fault, which runs from Larado on the Mexican border up along the path of Interstate 35. The fault defines the line between the cross timbers and farmland to the east and the Texas Hill Country and Great Plains to the west. Seismic activity on the fault has been minor for centuries. In recent years, the disposal of wastewater nearly 10,000 feet below the Earth’s surface has been linked to a number of tremors throughout the region. Though any connection between seismic activity and hydraulic fracturing has been denied by the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the oil industry in Texas, a team of professors from SMU have begun an intensive study of the Texas Stadium site to identify the cause of the recent increase in earthquakes. The recent earthquake activity will undoubtedly continue to raise additional questions that surround the true positives and negatives behind fracking practices, an argument thoughtfully outlined by Brantley Hightower in May of 2014. For more specifics on the recent quakes the Dallas Morning News has compiled a series of hypothetical outcomes in a recent issue.

Archtober Building of the Day #20A> The Metropolitan Museum of Art David H. Koch Plaza
Archtober Building of the Day #20 The Metropolitan Museum of Art David H. Koch Plaza 1000 5th Avenue OLIN Do you know the difference between hedging your trees and pollarding them? Thanks to the enlightenment provided by our tour guides from OLIN’s design team, Partner Dennis McGlade and Associate Scott Dismukes, those who attended yesterday's Archtober tour do now. The London Plane trees in the bosques adjacent to the ground level entrances at the Metropolitan Museum of Art will be pollarded—trimmed each winter to the same height.  The Little Leaf Lindens, which form the two flanking rows of sidewalk trees will pruned annually to form aerial hedges, thus distinguishing them from the fluffy naturals of Central Park. As a long-time resident of the Upper East Side neighborhood, I commend the Met, and its landscape architects at OLIN for creating a new welcoming public space—the newly opened David H. Koch Plaza—in place of the arid old pair of linear fountains that had occupied the front of the museum since 1970. (Roche Dinkeloo—they enlarged the steps, too, which we all agree are fantastic.)  Filled with great insights from schemes of the past, OLIN’s meticulously detailed design of Canadian Autumn brown granite, old fave Deer Isle granite, and Nordic Café in the fountain is a symphony of paving patterns, each with a functional designation. There’s even a rumble strip to foil the skateboarders. There are many things to like about the new fountains, too. My favorite feature is the drip edge, which makes it possible for dogs to sip from the fountain without arousing the ire of security guards. So too can plenty of toddling three year olds run their hands through the shiny sheeting water, unbeknownst to their nannies. A fountain for man and beast! Making trees thrive in granite takes a lot of subsurface infrastructure, and there is plenty of it hidden from view.  Enlarged tree pits, run-off control, underground tunnels, and retention basins make the expanse of granite an environmental asset.   It takes a long time to achieve the full effect—McGlade said it might take about fifteen years before the hedging of the trees makes them into the trapezoidal masses of the renderings. It will be fun to watch them grow, and I’m sure I’ll spend many a happy hour sitting with my dog, Glow, under the bright red parasols. Come back at night to see the magnificent new illumination designed by L’Observatoire.  It glows, too.
Cynthia Phifer Kracauer, AIA, is the Managing Director of the Center for Architecture and the festival director for Archtober:  Architecture and Design Month NYC.  She was previously a partner at Butler Rogers Baskett, and from 1989-2005 at Swanke Hayden Connell.  After graduating from Princeton (AB 1975, M.Arch 1979) she worked for Philip Johnson,  held faculty appointments at the University of Virginia, NJIT, and her alma mater. ckracauer@aiany.org