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Off With Its ... Plants!
Greenery-clad office tower gets go-ahead in London despite fears over protected views
When complete, 50 Fenchurch will entail over 645,000 square feet of office space, 8,600 square feet of retail on its ground level, publicly accessible public gardens, and a large number of bicycle parking spaces. It will also be the new home to the Clothworkers Company, a nearly 500-year-old London livery company whose headquarters and ornate, 1950s-era meeting hall is currently located at the site. Two historic buildings, a church tower and accompanying crypt, will also see “improvements” as part of the development. “The design journey of this urban proposition has been one of the most remarkable alignments between commerce, culture and the public realm that I have experienced,” said Parry in a statement. “The proposal will unite more than 800 years of the City of London’s history with its future in a development that will dramatically improve the experience of the city for all.” Other reactions to 50 Fenchurch, however, have been less celebratory in tone. Historic Palaces of London, which also rallied against Parry’s much-taller 1 Undershaft—or “Trellis Tower”—project for the same reasons during a three-year planning battle that concluded with approval in November 2019, referred to the architect’s newest addition to the London skyline as “highly intrusive.” “This proposal is one more indication of the way things are going and it's alarming that the views enjoyed by generations of Londoners will be destroyed,” architectural historian and TV host Dan Cruickshank lamented to The Times. Building Design also quoted architect and longtime skyline activist Barbara Weiss as saying: “It is very depressing that, more and more, London’s unique World Heritage Sites are being encroached upon by large buildings that are completely foreign to these settings.” London’s increasingly vertical orientation has caused alarm among many skyline-focused heritage activists who are attempting to protect the city’s increasingly vulnerable protected sight-lines from being tarnished by lanky, view-diminishing new construction. As the Daily Mail detailed, there are 13 protected views in London, all of them listed as part of a skyline heritage program established in 1938. A bulk of these protected views are of St. Paul’s Cathedral and have been largely left unblemished—save for the Shard, which planning officials gave a pass—due to the fact that “the symbol of the cathedral was so important during the Second World War.”
Our Planning and Transportation Committee has today approved plans for what will be the first building in London to incorporate urban greening on such a large scale. Read more about 50 Fenchurch Street here👇 https://t.co/sGQSXfYPb4— City of London (@cityoflondon) May 14, 2020
San Francisco Feat
David Baker Architects receives the 2020 AIA California Firm Award
Movies to Mammoths
Hancock Park may become Los Angeles’s first true urban microcosm
Charm City Transformation
Demolition work kicks off at Baltimore’s Lexington Market
Funding for the project comes from a mix of bank loans, city and state grants, New Markets Tax Credit incentives, and the market itself. Along with the vendor application process being delayed, the deadline for redevelopment proposals for the East Market building has been pushed back due to the pandemic. The fate of a second, largely vacant existing structure, the West Market building, also remains up in the air. Despite these uncertainties, construction work at Lexington Market, which is the flagship operation of the city-owned nonprofit Baltimore Public Markets Corp., will continue as planned during the coronavirus crisis with additional safeguards in place per the Sun. “The redevelopment construction schedule hasn’t changed at this point,” elaborated Jon Constable, a principal at Seawall Development who previously referred to the project as “the ultimate positive opportunity for Baltimore.” Such opportunities, of course, come equipped with sunny hopes that the redevelopment will spur further investment in the surrounding area. This has raised concerns about gentrification, and if a new and shiny Lexington Market will serve as the catalyst for that. Some, however, are skeptical that the desired investment in the area is even possible. “I’m not optimistic about this project producing a turnaround,” Stephen J.K Walters of the Maryland Public Policy Institute told the Sun, noting that concerns about public safety serve as a formidable hurdle. “If it doesn’t make sense to invest, proximity to a subsidized project doesn’t change that fundamental and unfortunate fact.” As for the market itself, Seawall Development undertook an extensive public engagement process including town halls and listening tours in order to glean input from the community on how the new market should look and feel, and most important, what types of vendors should be greeting customers on opening day (Faidley’s is one vendor that will be enthusiastically returning). Seawall, which has said that priority will be given to new vendors accepting SNAP benefits, also stressed that Lexington Market is not at risk of emerging from construction as a trendy food hall similar to R. House, a venue in the north Baltimore neighborhood of Remington that was also developed by the company:
It's going to be renovated but I feel like that's also a Big Weird Thing https://t.co/LtDXcdxIpE— Amy Plitt (@plitter) April 30, 2020
“Lexington Market has always been a public market that meets the needs of any and all Baltimorean, and it will remain that way even after the transformation project is complete. The Market is publicly owned and will continue to prioritize accessible food and retail options that can meet the needs of all types of customer. When selecting any new vendors for the market, implementing community programming, and designing gathering spaces within the market, every effort will be made to seek the input and advice of Market customers who will help ensure it remains a welcoming place for all.”Whatever the impact of the new Lexington Market on surrounding real estate might be and whatever toll the coronavirus could take on vendors, that market’s status as an enduring and distinctly Baltimorean institution will—unlike the product behind the city’s famous clock tower—never fizzle away.
A South L.A. Homecoming
Destination Crenshaw celebrates the culture of South Los Angeles as it parades down the community’s main drag
Back-ish to Business
Italian design manufacturers ease back into production
With that much-anticipated moment—the return of production activities—now close on the horizon or already here, some venerable Italian manufacturers—B&B Italia, Moroso, and Boffi along them—are formally going public with statements announcing their triumphant—but vigilant—return. As Gilberto Negrini, CEO of Lombardy-based B&B Italia, detailed in an April 27 news release:
From April 28th the B&B Italia Group reopens their plants in Novedrate (CO) and Caldogno (VI) for the Arclinea brand. We believe that the quality of Made in Italy and the extraordinary commitment of men and women who are proving strength, will allow us to cope with this crisis. pic.twitter.com/kppTQUlv46— B&B Italia (@BeB_Italia) April 28, 2020
After the operational resumption of shipments, which has restarted supplies and processed orders, production will therefore be finally active from tomorrow. Of course, all the safety protocols have been put in place: sanitizing procedures for the rooms, supply of disinfectants at each location and spacing will ensure our employees a safe return starting from the entrance procedures where, after taking the temperature through thermo-scanner, masks and gloves will be supplied daily.Messaging from Italy’s fabled design heavyweights during the crisis has been grounded in pragmatism yet fully optimistic about navigating the potentially difficult road ahead. Negrini’s announcement was no different. “A sign that makes us look to the future with more hope and positivity, confident that the quality of Made in Italy, our ability to innovate, to merge industry and manual skills, to find beauty in form, combined with the extraordinary work of our men and women, who are the real strength of our companies and our brands, will be able to cope with this enormous global crisis,” he wrote. “The unique history of B&B Italia, and what it has been able to create since 1966 to bring Italian design into the world, speaks for us, and together we will make it.” Per Reuters, the number of fatalities resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy, an early and severe hotspot, remains the highest in Europe with over 26,000 lives lost. In recent days, however, the number of new cases reported, and the number of Italian residents being admitted to intensive care facilities, has fallen. This past Sunday, the country reported it’s third consecutive daily drop in reported fatalities with 260 deaths—a horrific number but also the lowest since mid-March.
Word on the Street
Open Streets Initiative will aid cities in optimizing coronavirus street closures
Hickok Cole retrofits a former YMCA in Washington, D.C., with handcrafted copper shingles
How To Handel Density
Handel Architects design high-rise complex surrounding Hollywood’s Capitol Records tower
Can't Design for the Public Without a Public
New York City halts public design work over budget woes
“Delays to work that can safely continue from our homes will further hinder our city’s recovery efforts and create challenges for middle-class New York families, including many union construction workers and MWBE architects, engineers, and general contractors. “We strongly recommend that you allow design and construction work to continue to the maximum extent permitted under New York State guidance. Furthermore, we ask that all design and construction that has already occurred be compensated.”While the letter has yet to receive a response—likely due to the all-hands-on-deck tumult the city is facing—Prosky hopes that Mayor de Blasio will reconsider. According to him, “Design work now during a downtime means construction jobs in the future, and it will take that much longer for everyone involved to start moving things along again.”
I lament having left my own copy of A Field Guide to American Houses at my home in Brooklyn. Last month, I relocated to suburban Baltimore County to ride out the pandemic and, as part of my socially distant fresh air/quarantine constitutional ritual, I’ve been documenting the homes in the immediate and surrounding neighborhoods of where I'm temporarily living. This past weekend, on a particularly sunny Saturday, I decamped from my ranch-heavy, semi-rural neighborhood to Baltimore’s historic Guilford nabe, which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. in the early 1900s and features a riot of different revival styles—Tudor, Colonial, Classical, Spanish Colonial, Jacobean, Italian Renaissance, and more—alongside Art Deco, English Arts and Crafts, and others. If there ever were a neighborhood where A Field Guide to American Houses would come in handy, Guilford is it. Born in Dallas to Dorothy and Wallace Savage, an attorney who served as the city’s mayor from 1949 to 1951, McAlester attended Radcliffe College and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where she studied architecture. Settling back in Dallas to care for her aging parents, McAlester became active in local preservation efforts beginning in the early 1970s and was integral in the founding of the Historic Dallas Fund, the Dallas Historic Preservation League, later renamed Preservation Dallas, Friends of Fair Park, and other preservation initiatives. She also led the charge to designate Swiss Avenue, the neighborhood she grew up in and later resettled in as an adult, as Dallas’s first historic landmark district. As Lamster noted, fellow architectural historian Stephen Fox once bestowed McAlester with the most-fitting moniker, the “Queen of Dallas Preservation.” As the late historian and author Wiliam Seale told the New York Times of McAlester in a 2013 profile: “When she started broadening her preservation efforts, “few, if any, in Dallas had the slightest interest in historic preservation, thinking their history too new to be worthwhile.” McAlester, who credited her mother for sparking her interest in preservation, co-authored several other books on architectural history and preservation. However, A Field Guide to American Houses, which she co-wrote with her second husband Lee McAlester, a geology professor at Southern Methodist University, remains by far her most widely read. As Lamster wrote, at the time of her death, McAlester was at work on a sequel to the Field Guide that focused on commercial architecture. McAlester spoke openly about her battle with myelofibrosis, with that fight playing heavily into the aforementioned 2013 Times profile. It's worth a read.
Raise your hand 🖐 if you own one of Virginia’s field guides to American Houses! Her passing is a tremendous loss for architectural historians and preservationists around the nation. #savingplaces #preservemd https://t.co/mB8kVjw1sk— PreservationMaryland (@PreservationMD) April 10, 2020