Search results for "public art"

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Ballad of the Ballot

Mayoral hopefuls talk architecture and policy before Chicago votes
On February 26, Chicagoans will go to the polls and choose one of fourteen candidates for mayor, the most seen on a general election ballot since 1901. Once Rahm Emanuel announced he would not be running for a third term and the cohort of dozens of candidates began whittling itself down, The Architect’s Newspaper began looking into the crowded field of candidates to see how they might address critical issues relating to the built environment, architecture, and historic preservation. The 2019 election is a cacophonous mix of candidates, and even with a number of familiar names from across the county and state, determining a probable winner is difficult. While former U.S. Commerce Secretary Bill Daley and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle have shown to be frontrunners in recent polls, Illinois Comptroller Susanna Mendoza, former Chicago Public Schools President Gery Chico, and entrepreneur Willie Wilson aren’t far behind, and no candidate has been able to crack a majority. Other candidates rounding out the ballot include former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, former Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, former Police Board President Lori Lightfoot, former Alderman Bob Fioretti, State Representative La Shawn Ford, lawyers Jerry Joyce and John Kozlar, and Community Organizer Amara Enyia, who received a surge via a nod and a campaign contribution from Chance the Rapper. All bets are off if no candidate receives a majority of the votes and a runoff election is held April 2. In November, FBI agents raided the office of 14th Ward alderman Edward Burke, the longest serving alderman in Chicago, over allegations that he extorted the owners of a Burger King after they sought permits to remodel. While both mayoral candidates Preckwinkle and Mendoza have connections with Burke, it’s difficult to gauge how that association will play out at the polls. In January it was revealed that 25th Ward alderman Danny Solis was also under federal investigation for misusing his official office, and that Solis had served as a confidential informant against Burke and had worn a wire in order to deal with his own federal investigation. Chicago has a long history of political corruption and apparently intends to live up to that reputation. The next mayor of Chicago faces a number of issues connected to the built environment. The city’s tax increment financing (TIF) program, established to jump-start development in blighted areas, has been used on wealthy downtown development projects that arguably need little assistance getting off the ground. With the program running a surplus, City Council members have been calling for reform, a demand that has become increasingly louder as megadevelopments like Lincoln Yards, expected to become a new TIF district, breeze through the Chicago Planning Commission. Every candidate has spoken out on making the TIF program more transparent and accountable. Candidates have also spoken out about the need for more affordable housing across the city, with some advocating for the return of small accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as a way to increase the number of affordable homes, and others calling for an elimination of the opt-out clause of the Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO). Mayoral candidates also have Rahm Emanuel’s legacy to deal with, whether that means dismantling it or using the initiatives he created and executed during his two terms as a springboard for the future. Aligning with Emanuel and his policies could mean alienating voters who are looking for change, yet Chicago’s political web is threaded so tightly that denouncing Rahm could mean denouncing some of his powerful friends. AN contacted each of the candidates looking for answers to questions relating to public policy about the built environment. Below are the edited questions and answers provided by every candidate who responded. The Architect’s Newspaper: The Obama Presidential Center (OPC) promises to bring economic and cultural benefits to the south side of Chicago, yet the Obama Foundation will not sign a community benefits agreement (CBA), and the OPC will subtract public parkland from Jackson Park for private use. How might you as mayor work to ensure that the development will have tangible positive effects on the communities that will be impacted by its construction? Lori Lightfoot: I am pleased that the OPC will be in Chicago. It represents a significant investment in a community that needs it. Credit should be given to Jackson Park residents who have and continue to raise issues with the OPC’s impact on surrounding neighborhoods. I would work to bridge the current divides to come to an equitable and respectful solution to the remaining outstanding issues. Paul Vallas: The OPC is an exciting new development. I do believe that the Center would have provided Chicago with even greater benefits had it been sited on the west side of Washington Park where it would have been more directly accessible to CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) rapid transit and could have provided even greater catalyst activity to a neglected corner of the South Side. It is regrettable that the City has agreed to relocate Cornell Drive to accommodate the current plan. At $200 million, the relocation of Cornell is a costly undertaking for a City that is facing severe financial challenges. I would prefer to see the site altered to have the center be less intrusive on public lands, though I realize that this deal may be final—barring any actions on the pending federal lawsuit.  Bob Fioretti: We need a CBA. Period. A community benefits agreement, as well as conditions, including a new trauma center on the South Side, were aspects I asked for from the start from the project. City council agreed to a CBA on the Olympic bid. There are other properties in the area that are better suited for the OPC. Jackson Park is not the place to put it. AN: Mayor Rahm Emanuel has stated that he will block the sale of the Thompson Center by the State of Illinois over concerns that the building’s liquidation and potential demolition will disrupt Chicago’s busiest public transit hub. There have also been calls that the structure is a representation of political waste and should be demolished, and a counter argument by preservationists that the building is a masterpiece of architecture.  What do you see in the future for the Thompson Center? LL: As a lover of Chicago’s architectural history, in general, my first instinct will always be to protect historical treasures. The Thompson Center has had a checkered history and there are valid concerns about maintenance. The fight between outgoing Governor Rauner and Mayor Emanuel should be in the rearview mirror. I would welcome dialogue with the Pritzker administration to devise a plan for the building’s future. PV: The demolition of the Thompson Center would be a terrible waste. Though it has its design issues and needs work to address the years of deferred maintenance, it strains credulity to think that a sale of the center and moving state workers to other quarters would eventually produce a net savings to taxpayers. I also believe that the center is an important piece of architecture that is worthy of preservation. I think the best option may well be the redesign proposal of the center's architect, Helmut Jahn, which envisions constructing a tower on the southwest corner of the complex. Such a tower could provide a valuable income stream to the state if properly executed. BF: I’ve been to Berlin and seen other structures that Helmut Jahn has developed, and I like the Berlin design better. At $300 million it should have been sold a long time ago, and I want to listen to the purchaser and the community. If the whole community says “yes, let’s take it down,” then take it down. AN: Chicago is world-renowned as a center for architectural thought and practice, as evident by the presence of many American masterpieces and new favorites by Frank Gehry and Jeanne Gang. Yet neighborhoods are losing their historic building stock, many of it designed and built for and by average working Chicagoans. Demolition is changing the character of neighborhoods and making way for developments that could cause displacement, affecting the ability for a community to be affordable. What can we do as a city to better preserve the architectural history of working-class Chicago while also encouraging growth and development? LL: Much of the city’s history, beauty, and character is found in its neighborhoods. In my 32 years in Chicago, I have lived on the south, west, and north sides. And in that time, I have seen how our neighborhoods have changed. Sometimes for the better, as can be seen from the considerable efforts to preserve and revitalize the Pullman neighborhood, and sometimes not—as is evident in parts of the Southport Corridor and Lincoln Avenue in North Center, where historic two- and three-story buildings have given way to generic, monolithic three- and four-story condominiums. PV: More needs to be done to make certain that redevelopment in historic neighborhoods be done with as much sensitivity as possible, both to reuse as much of the historic housing stock as possible while also reducing potential blight resulting from insensitive, out-of-scale development projects. Some of this could be achieved by exploring landmarking of additional historic areas. Chicago also needs to develop more programs to spur development of the large inventory of abandoned properties throughout the city's more economically challenged areas. BF: It seems like every time we turn around another building is being demolished. I want to slow down this demolition and increase the importance of Chicago’s historic housing stock. As the former president of the Pullman Foundation, I look at what we did there in 1965 as a blueprint. The people rose up to fight the construction of an industrial complex between 111th and 115th Street and Cottage Grove. AN: In 2013, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) closed 49 elementary schools and one high school, promising students that closing underperforming schools would provide a boost in the quality of education and help liquidate CPS debt. Many of these schools remain vacant and unsold, and their closure has proven to have had a negative effect on CPS students and families. As schools sit empty, they affect neighborhood health, public safety, and economic development. How will you resolve the negative effects of school closures on students and neighborhoods? LL: We need to give communities the opportunity to improve underperforming schools before deciding on further closures. The mayor and CPS must examine the condition of each building to determine a possible future use. This must be done sooner rather than later so CPS can eliminate unnecessary carrying costs where possible, return land to the property tax rolls, or prevent buildings from deteriorating. If a building is going to be sold, then CPS should work with the surrounding community to identify future uses that can benefit the community. This could include selling a vacant school to a non-profit or for-profit affordable housing developer that will make units available for rent or sale. I envision converting some of these buildings into business incubators that are easily accessible for people on the west and south sides, and using others to provide wrap-around services, such as daycare, job training programs, ESL classes, and health care. PV: As the former CEO of CPS, I have an intimate knowledge of CPS's real estate portfolio. I lead the efforts to renovate many of those structures, most of which are solid buildings. My time at CPS was the only period in the last 40 years when CPS's enrollment actually grew, and as CEO, I never closed a single school. In that time, I also conducted the major renovations of over 350 buildings. I led the effort to purchase and restore the historic Bronzeville Armory, maintaining its exterior and interior design, while reopening it as the nation’s first public high school military academy. Sadly, Chicago is confronted with the reality of declining enrollment and something must be done with these valuable structures to again make them centers for the community. Months ago, I detailed a plan to re-purpose many of those structures, especially as centers for adult learners, many of whom are in need of career and vocational training. Significant untapped state, federal, and foundation funding could be tapped to help pay for these efforts. BF: The problem is that the black middle class is leaving, and the exodus continues. We had 150,000 empty seats at CPS. Now we have 362,000. Families aren’t going to come back until we make economic changes. I said from day one that CPS won’t be able to resell or repurpose these schools. Homelessness disrupts the atmosphere, so perhaps we transform them to help our homeless kids.
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il giardini

Call to curate 2020 Venice Biennale U.S. Pavilion announced
The U.S. Department of State and the National Endowment for the Arts Design Program has announced a call for proposals to organize and curate the United States pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2020. The United States government has been gradually increasing the amount of financial support it gives to its selected presenters and will award the selected group $325,000, including $125,000 for pavilion management, with potential additional funding pending availability from the National Endowment for the Arts. However, groups planning to submit an application to organize the exhibit, based on recent pavilions, should expect to raise another $500,000 to $700,000 to complete a successful bid. Applicant eligibility is limited to not-for-profit art, architecture, educational, and cultural organizations subject to Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. tax code and public or private educational institutions. Applications are due March 28. The full funding opportunity and application materials are available at grants.gov.
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Movers and Shakers

Henning Larsen creates a golden hall for a migrating Swedish town
Kiruna, Sweden, is a small town on the edge of the Arctic Circle that exists almost solely to serve the world’s largest iron ore mine. After over a century of aggressive mining, however, soil subsidence, sinkholes, and other geologic anomalies are threatening to destroy the town. Facing this dire future, local officials crafted a 100-year plan in 2004 with Stockholm, Sweden–based White Architects to gradually relocate the 18,000-resident settlement 2 miles to the east. The plan will transform Kiruna into a collection of urban neighborhoods interspersed with arctic landscape and parks. Central to that vision is the idea that the government and its citizens must work together closely and transparently to ensure an equitable transition. Danish architects Henning Larsen, tasked with turning this ethos into built form, have delivered by crafting a democratic new city hall that wraps stacked public spaces with humdrum municipal offices. Henning Larsen partner Louis Becker said, “We knew that losing a sense of place could be a major challenge to the town’s residents. Our hope is that this town hall is not only an effective seat for the local government, but a space that celebrates Kiruna’s history and establishes an enduring symbol of local identity.” In order to meet these goals, the new town hall is designed to have a somewhat divergent relationship with the structure it is replacing. For one, the original town hall—faced with red brick and designed in a pragmatic Nordic modernist style in 1958 by Swedish architect Arthur von Schmalensee—was much more stoic than its golden, vertically oriented, stone- and metal-clad replacement. Whereas the original was organized as a series of repetitive slabs, the new structure is more donut-shaped in section and features a new county art museum at its core. To foster a connection between old and new, an iconic rooftop clocktower from the original town hall was saved and is now installed beside the new building. There, it will anchor a generous outdoor plaza that will one day be framed by offices and apartments. The spare steel and metal clock tower is topped with bells and features a gold-rimmed timepiece, an element the architects tapped into as inspiration for the new structure, which is faced inside and out with 5,600 golden metal panels. On the ground floor of the building, a cafe, restaurant, and large public meeting room encircle a multistory foyer complete with a public stage. The space, designed to function as a giant living room for the city’s residents, is topped by a staggered central core that frames a soaring atrium wrapped with offices. The interior catches the subarctic light as it beams in from overhead transom windows and bounces off the golden walls. On the fifth floor, a double-height council assembly room is outfitted with public viewing stands and joined by several large gathering areas and a canteen. Each living room, framed by high walls covered in the aforementioned metal panels, is filled with tables and chairs oriented around picture windows that peer out over the landscape. As is the case with the ground floor public spaces and the circular walkways that overlook the atrium, the upper levels offer cozy, domestic qualities. Here, the golden walls mimic the qualities of wood while long, curved handrails made of oak and salvaged door handles (repurposed from the original city hall) bring tactile warmth to some of the most immediately accessible aspects of the building. The result of the redesign is a series of welcoming public spaces that will give Kiruna residents the opportunity to keep an eye on their drastically changing city both from the ground and up above.
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Nevermind

Amazon claims it isn’t building a new headquarters in New York City after all
Amazon announced today that it will not be building a new headquarters in New York City after all. The company blames political opposition for the decision, in a statement contrasting the enthusiasm of Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio with the attitudes of "state and local politicians" who have vocally opposed the terms of the project. Many of the opposing politicians argued that the company received benefits from the state and city that the company did not need and the government could not afford. In public hearings, politicians objected to the use of a state process that allowed the company to circumvent the typical land-use review process and the secrecy and lack of public involvement in the deal that brought Amazon's new headquarters to the city. Amazon ran a spectacular public competition for the new headquarters that saw U.S. cities volunteering data and offering special deals to attract the company. This latest step displays the sort of public relations brinkmanship that won the company a favorable deal in New York City last year. Mayor de Blasio responded to the news with a statement:
You have to be tough to make it in New York City. We gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighbor and do business in the greatest city in the world. Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity. We have the best talent in the world and every day we are growing a stronger and fairer economy for everyone. If Amazon can’t recognize what that’s worth, its competitors will.
Amazon's full, original announcement is as follows:
After much thought and deliberation, we’ve decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens. For Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term. While polls show that 70% of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City. We are disappointed to have reached this conclusion—we love New York, its incomparable dynamism, people, and culture—and particularly the community of Long Island City, where we have gotten to know so many optimistic, forward-leaning community leaders, small business owners, and residents. There are currently over 5,000 Amazon employees in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island, and we plan to continue growing these teams. We are deeply grateful to Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and their staffs, who so enthusiastically and graciously invited us to build in New York City and supported us during the process. Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio have worked tirelessly on behalf of New Yorkers to encourage local investment and job creation, and we can’t speak positively enough about all their efforts. The steadfast commitment and dedication that these leaders have demonstrated to the communities they represent inspired us from the very beginning and is one of the big reasons our decision was so difficult. We do not intend to reopen the HQ2 search at this time. We will proceed as planned in Northern Virginia and Nashville, and we will continue to hire and grow across our 17 corporate offices and tech hubs in the U.S. and Canada. Thank you again to Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and the many other community leaders and residents who welcomed our plans and supported us along the way. We hope to have future chances to collaborate as we continue to build our presence in New York over time.
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Shadows on the Cave Ceiling

Junya Ishigami chosen to design the 2019 Serpentine Pavilion
The 2019 Serpentine Pavilion has found its architect. Junya Ishigami, the Golden Lion winner at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale, has designed a monolithic stone canopy to rise on the grounds of London’s Serpentine Galleries. Ishigami’s pavilion will open on June 20 this summer alongside the gallery’s augmented reality collaboration with Google, Sir David Adjaye, and a prospective design competition winner. “My design for the Pavilion plays with our perspectives of the built environment against the backdrop of a natural landscape,” said Ishigami in a statement, “ emphasizing a natural and organic feel as though it had grown out of the lawn, resembling a hill made out of rocks. This is an attempt to supplement traditional architecture with modern methodologies and concepts, to create in this place an expanse of scenery like never seen before. Possessing the weighty presence of slate roofs seen around the world, and simultaneously appearing so light it could blow away in the breeze, the cluster of scattered rock levitates, like a billowing piece of fabric.” Ishigami, born 1974, previously worked at SANAA until 2004, when he left to form Junya Ishigami + Associates in Tokyo. The firm’s work has often been described as minimalist, yet still active and in dialogue with surrounding landscapes, and the 2019 pavilion seems like it should be similar. Ishigami has proposed layering slate tiles to form a single cavelike structure and that will recontextualize the roofing materials into something that appears both natural and contrived. The contemplative, naturalistic pavilion appears to share themes, materials, and colors with last year’s perforated installation from Mexican architect Frida Escobedo. The Serpentine Pavilion, now in its 19th iteration, will be open to the public from June 20 through October 6 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. A slate of programming has been lined up as part of the annual Summer at the Serpentine series. The gallery has commissioned site-specific films, dances, art pieces, written work, and more to accompany the pavilion on select Fridays. The pavilion will be sponsored by Goldman Sachs for the fifth year in a row.
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Yards and Yards of Hudson

Take a sneak peek at Hudson Yards ahead of its March opening
The first phase of Manhattan’s massive Hudson Yards project opens to the public in only a month, and AN took a behind-the-scenes look at the new neighborhood. Much of the office space in 10 Hudson Yards, the Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF)–designed glass tower at the corner of 30th Street and 10th Avenue, is occupied, but work on the neighborhood’s public-facing and retail components will continue until the March 15 opening. After that, the Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards, the seven-story, one-million-square-foot Elkus Manfredi Architects–designed retail hub will be open for business. Besides multi-floor retail outlets for a number of fashion stalwarts and brick-and-mortar space for formerly online-only retailers, the second floor of the Shops will hold a permanent exhibition space curated by Snarkitecture. The Snark Park will hold open its inaugural show, Lost and Found, on March 15 when visitors will weave between crumbling columns—limited edition recreations of which were given away at KITH’s SoHo store on January 31. That retail integration will follow through to all of Snarkitecture’s future installations in the space, and developer Related is planning to rotate exhibitions three times a year, with associated “retail drops.” The Shops building, which is wedged between KPF’s 10 and 30 Hudson Yards buildings, also features a cogeneration plant that can convert waste heat into thermal energy. All of the buildings are networked in a micro-grid and can send their waste heat to the plant, creating a system that uses less energy than comparably-sized towers. An outdoor dining terrace will also let visitors peer into the Thomas Heatherwick–designed New York Staircase (formerly known as the Vessel) as they eat. The entire building is designed to be porous and allow foot traffic in from the adjacent buildings, the 34th Street 7 train station via an underground corridor, and to visitors from the High Line. To the site’s west is the still-uncovered rail yard, which will eventually be decked over for Hudson Yards’ second phase. Whereas the first phase is 80 percent office and retail space, and 20 percent residential, the second phase will flip those numbers and create more housing. Related claims that the project will create 1,000 affordable units overall, though there is no target completion date for the second phase.
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A Radical Move

REX reveals Brown University’s new adaptable Performing Arts Center
REX has released renderings of Brown University’s new Performing Arts Center (PAC), a 94,500-square-foot boxy building designed with a “radical vision” for the school that features a transformative interior production space. The massive institutional project, located in Providence, Rhode Island, is slated to open in spring of 2022. Joshua Prince-Ramus, principal and founder of REX, said the structure’s design is “extremely precise” in how it fits the needs of Brown students and faculty. His team created the main hall to physically adapt to several different types of performances that the students may put on. “It is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ auditorium, mediocre to all and excellent for none,” Prince-Ramus said in a statement. “It is literally five very specific, high-performance configurations in one.” What he’s referring to is the venue’s ability to be rearranged into a number of stage and audience setups, from a 625-seat symphony orchestra hall to a 250-seat proscenium theater to a surround-sound cube for experimental media performances. Using both automated and manually assisted performance equipment, the shoebox-shaped hall can change its flexible interior layout and acoustical design to complement the goals of a specific show. The concept echoes the flexible interior of the Wyly Theatre, one of REX's earliest projects. From the outside, the PAC loosely resembles REX’s design for the World Trade Center’s upcoming cultural space, the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center. Also a looming, solid structure, it commands attention and conceals its insides. Unlike the New York project's translucent marble facade, the Brown building features a seemingly-shrink-wrapped, extruded aluminum rain screen with a fluted shape. The metallic exterior is sure to stand out among the slew of historic buildings on Brown’s urban campus. Apart from the cladding, one thing, in particular, is majorly distinctive about the design: The PAC features a 13-foot horizontal “clearstory” window that slices through the building and cantilevers out over the exterior public space. This transparent cutout allows passersby to see directly into the main performance hall as well as the building’s lobby. REX integrated the glazed portion, which opens the structure up to Angell Street, the main thoroughfare in Providence, to spark curiosity and encourage both the public and Brown students to engage with the university’s arts scene. From the inside, visitors can enjoy expansive views of The Walk, a series of green spaces running north to south on campus. The new PAC's suite of modern studios dedicated to dance, music, and theater rehearsals, and intimate performance spaces for smaller gatherings will all be easily accessible from this pedestrian route. The PAC project was birthed out of the Brown Arts Initiative, introduced in 2017 as a way to elevate the university as an incubator for both traditional and experimental art and media. The PAC itself is the physical manifestation of that goal and a new arts typology in architecture, according to REX. With “radical spatial, acoustic, and technical flexibility,” it showcases within the design just how forward-thinking the arts at Brown can be.
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100th Time's the Charm

Snøhetta’s revised AT&T Building scheme clears Landmarks Preservation Commission
The protracted battle over the modernization of the Philip Johnson and John Burgee–designed AT&T Building may finally be drawing to a close. Last time Snøhetta went before the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) with its revised plans for the postmodern tower at 550 Madison Avenue, the commissioners adjourned without coming to a decision over whether proposed changes were appropriate. A month later, it looks like owners Chelsfield America, Olayan America, and minority partner RXR Realty will be able to move ahead with their plans to renovate the 1984 office tower into Class A office space. In a public meeting earlier today, the LPC granted the 550 Madison team a Certificate of Appropriateness, but not without first voicing concerns. Snøhetta’s scheme would only touch approximately six percent of the landmarked tower’s granite facade and would leave retail in the enclosed arcade. The full presentation can be viewed on the LPC’s website, but the biggest changes are as follows: The plan would remove the glass enclosure and accompanying heating and cooling elements that were added in the 1994 Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman renovation. The rear lot, which runs north-south through the block, will be converted into a garden and gain a lightweight, Y-shaped steel canopy. The retail kiosks at the rear will also be removed to expand the square footage allotted to the public plaza, and two stories of new windows will be punched in the back of the building at the base to lighten up the new amenity floors. On the Madison Avenue–facing side, the heavily-mullioned windows added to the flat arches in the 1994 renovation will be updated with much larger panes of glass. Inside the 60-foot-tall lobby, the elevators along the rear wall will be reoriented to provide a clear line of sight from the entrance to the garden. The ownership team also plans on building out a publicly-accessible retail mezzanine and two amenity floors above the lobby. Commissioners at the February 12th hearing once again expressed concern over the lack of an interior landmark designation, which was precluded by the “secret” demolition conducted last year. The proposed replacements to the Philip Johnson–designed pavers and flooring were also analyzed. The scheme was ultimately approved, but the project team will have to work with the LPC to address their issues with the current plan. All-in-all, now that work can begin, Snøhetta claims that the amount of public space will increase by 50 percent, and that the team is “targeting LEED Platinum, Wired, and WELL certifications.” Once the renovations are completed in 2020, it’s expected that the building’s employee capacity will increase from 800 to 3,000.
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New Twist on History

nARCHITECTS’ Equal Rights Heritage Center frames the history around it
The first new civic building in Auburn, New York, in 40 years lets visitors explore the city’s place in the history of civil rights movements. The nARCHITECTS-designed Equal Rights Heritage Center, now open to the public, frames views of surrounding landmarks to expand the reach of the center to the building's historic context. What began as a request for proposal from the New York State Office of Parks and Recreation and the City of Auburn for a Finger Lakes–region welcome center in 2017 quickly snowballed in importance, according to nARCHITECTS principal Eric Bunge. In light of the rapidly changing national political climate, the governor’s office reoriented the project to focus on New York’s progressive history as a leader in promoting equal rights.  The center specifically focuses on women's rights, the abolition of slavery, civil rights, and the more recent efforts for LGBTQ rights. The 7,500-square-foot, $10 million Heritage Center opened to the public on November 13, 2018, in a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, local officials, and Pauline Copes Johnson, the great-great-grandniece of Harriet Tubman. A statue of the historic abolitionist and activist stands to the south of the new building. The single-story Heritage Center sits smack-dab between several historic landmarks; the building is directly across the street from the Memorial City Hall, is next to the William H. Seward House Museum, and is in the city’s South Street National Register District. A corbelled, pink brick facade was used to better blend the building into the mainly federal-style neighborhood. Inside, the building’s structure was left exposed. Board-formed concrete walls and glulam beams (which appear to continue past the confines of the center thanks to clever mirror placement) were left exposed to open up the interior as much as possible. Radiant geothermal heating emanates up through the terrazzo flooring, eliminating the need for a bulky overhead HVAC system. Double, sometimes triple, height windows frame views of the surrounding city, and the building’s three main interconnected volumes were each rotated to maximize the range of views. Graphic design studio MTWTF worked with nARCHITECTS to co-design the exhibition and wayfinding across the building’s figure-8 circulation path, and the nARCHITECTS-led team pulled double duty as the Heritage Center’s curator. Zones are organized by medium rather than topic, and the center uses posters, videos, recordings, games, a large interactive map, portraits, and other materials to chart the history of equal rights in New York State. But the center will hopefully become the first stop in a broader historical tour of the region for visitors, said Bunge, including the local landmarks visible from the building, and that the “context is content.” Siting the Heritage Center was also an issue for the design team, as the building rose on what was formerly a municipal parking lot. Although there’s a parking garage directly across the street, the community raised concerns over the potential loss of parking at the site. Ultimately, nARCHITECTS chose to exclude any on-site parking to encourage a pedestrian-friendly scheme and included a new public plaza to the center’s east. Construction took only nine months and the project team was able to come in 20 percent under budget. Interested in visiting? Admission is free, and the center is open from 10:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m. daily.
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Just City, Only Design

New York’s Center for Architecture explores what makes a city just
From January 10 to March 30, visitors to New York's Center for Architecture can check out an exhibition that explores how urban communities can be empowered to create more resilient and sustainable futures. Design and the Just City raises awareness about urban inequality by exploring generations of flawed policy and systematic injustices, and the psychological effects of undesirable architecture and weak urban design. The exhibition was curated by the Just City Lab of the Harvard Graduate School of Design under the leadership of its director, Professor Toni L. Griffin. The first encounter visitors have with the exhibition is a labeled map of New York City. To the right of the map are rolls of stickers with words like "Aspiration," "Fairness," "Power," "Identity," and "Resilience." The piece asks visitors to take a single sticker that references the most significant attribute of their neighborhood and put it on the map. From a step back, the conglomeration of multi-colored stickers could be interpreted as a pointillism piece, but the experience is meant to reveal what residents actually value about their environs. The exhibition focuses on five videos that each look at one of the many challenges combatted by the Just City Lab. The first focuses on the uncomfortable spaces made by transportation infrastructure, particularly subway overpasses common to neighborhoods in Harlem, the Bronx, and Queens. The video shows the many ways in which landscape architecture, lighting design, and low-cost public structures can encourage these once-unsafe areas to become places where people meet or engage with wildlife. Another project also discusses transportation, but as a remedy instead of a malady. To combat the severe racial and class-based segregation among Brooklyn's 15 intermediate-level schools, the video proposes free family and student transportation, community workshops to encourage a stronger integration between parents and students, easier access to information and technology, and equitable admissions. The final product is a well-produced piece describing the difficulties and challenges faced by constituents and designers, and the subsequent final designs and approaches. Griffin founded the Just City Lab in 2011 and has established herself as one of the most influential explorers of the relationships between spatial and racial justice in urban environments. Throughout her two decades in the urban design field, she has taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Department of City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley, and the Spitzer School of Architecture at the City University of New York.
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Ground Has Finally Broken

Gehry celebrates ground breaking for The Grand in L.A. with new renderings
After over a decade in development, Gehry Partners’ twin-towered The Grand development in Downtown Los Angeles has finally broken ground. The sizable mixed-use complex is to be located directly across the street from Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Diller Scofidio + Renfro–designed Broad contemporary art museum complex. The project is widely seen as the capstone for the Grand Avenue Redevelopment initiative that has sought to revitalize and complete the city’s main downtown cultural corridor. The project, the result of a public-private partnership created by the Los Angeles Grand Avenue Authority and a joint powers authority made up of the County of Los Angeles, the City of Los Angeles, and the now-defunct Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles, is being developed by Related Companies and CORE USA; AECOM is acting as the architect of record for the project. The signature development is made up of two staggered buildings linked by a central courtyard filled with public art. Commercial areas wrap the courtyard while also connecting to the sidewalk. The complex is designed with most of the retail facing Disney Concert Hall, which Gehry hopes can continue to be used for artistic projections, as occurred in 2018 when artist Refik Anadol turned the concert hall into a canvas for digital, machine learning–derived projections. In a video unveiled as part of the groundbreaking, Gehry said, “it’s been exciting to build something so close to something I built before and to be able to have them talk to each other.” The Grand complex is designed with broken facades that change material and cant this way and that as the various building masses rise to the sky. The upper levels of the towers will contain upwards of 400 residential units, 20 percent of which are going to be set aside for low-income residents. According to the architect, the design is meant to relate to the surrounding structures while also dematerializing the buildings to blend in with the surrounding high-rises. Metallic cladding wraps certain portions of the towers in an attempt to match the concert hall’s stainless steel cladding while expanses of glass fill out other volumes. In a press release, Gehry said, “With The Grand, we’re not just building buildings, we’re building places,” adding, “We are trying to make a place for people not only to live, but also to gather after concerts or performances, and my hope is that it will spawn other growth in the neighborhood.”
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Emerging Voices 2019

Colloqate instrumentalizes design as a tool for social justice
Every year the Architectural League of New York recognizes eight dynamic young firms as Emerging Voices that have the potential to become leaders in the field. Historic winners like Morphosis (1983) and Toshiko Mori (1992) have become today’s lions, and practices like Johnston Marklee (2007) and Tatiana Bilbao (2010) have jumped to new heights after recent wins. This year’s crop was selected in a two-stage portfolio competition where a jury of architects selected the winners. The deciding jury included several previous winners like Dominic Leong (2017), Fernanda Canales (2018), and Marlon Blackwell (1998), giving the process a familial feel. Laureates for 2019 come from across North America and almost all are partnerships or collaboratives—capital letters feature prominently, too.  Colloqate will lecture at the Scholastic Auditorium at 130 Mercer Street, New York, New York, at 7:00 p.m. on March 28, as part of the Emerging Voices lecture series. Colloqate Design, a multidisciplinary, New Orleans–based “nonprofit design justice practice” founded in 2017 by Bryan Lee Jr.—Sue Mobley came on in 2018—with the goal of “building power through the design of public, civic, and cultural spaces,” is setting a different path relative to other design offices. For one, Colloqate spends quite a bit of time doing the arduous work of educating and training communities, institutions, and municipal agencies through initiatives like its Design as Protest and Design Justice Summit events to “build practices around design justice,” according to Lee. Buildings are not an afterthought for the practice, but Lee and Mobley’s view of how designers and design justice intersect is firmly rooted in grappling with everything that exists beyond and around their particular projects. According to the duo, this “syntax of built environment”—including but not limited to the social mores we keep, the design of streetscapes and infrastructure, and the impact of political policies—has as direct an impact on how people use spaces as any one design element might. So a key goal of their practice involves making others aware of how these overlapping and sometimes competing languages operate so that when they do building-oriented design work in a given space, they can “intentionally organize, advocate, and design spaces of racial, social, and cultural equity.” The practice started off as an outgrowth of the Claiborne Corridor Cultural Innovation District, a visionary urban plan that would transform a 19-block area below an elevated highway in New Orleans into a “culture-based economic driver” for the Claiborne Corridor neighborhood. The plan, envisioned for an area that was once a social and economic core of New Orleans’s black community but was cleared to make room for the highway, aims to articulate a socially guided vision for bringing a public market, classrooms, exhibition spaces, and health, environmental, and social services to the area. Another project, Paper Monuments, brought a flurry of posters to sites across the city to “create new narratives and symbols of [New Orleans]…and to honor the erased histories of the people, events, movements, and places that have made up the past three hundred years” of history. The citizen-led project sought to use public art as a way to further Colloqate’s core aim of “dismantling the privilege and power structures that use the design professions to maintain systems of injustice.” Lee explained that as a nonprofit entity (Colloqate’s growing board includes urban planners, architects, and other design professionals), Colloqate must necessarily take an unorthodox and provocative approach. As the practice expands, completes projects, and envisions its future, however, Lee hopes to apply Colloqate’s ethos more directly to bricks and mortar. “We want to be the most radical design firm out there,” Lee said, “and we need to build buildings to do that.”