Search results for "sustainability"

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Survive and Thrive

Akoaki is blending design disciplines in Detroit
Upon their arrival to Detroit, partners Anya Sirota and Jean Louis Farges took four years to understand the complex landscapes and narratives that co-exist within the city. At the time, Detroit was fully entrenched in “ruin porn” and the design interest of the city followed a fascination with degradation or a re-imagination to building new. Cultural assets (like the industrial design of cars and jazz music) once thrived in the city and continue to have national and international range. Often though, the direct impact upon the residents is nonexistent. Akoaki [pronounced ak-o-ak-i] is compelled to research fields of architecture and art and their relationships to equitable redevelopment. By embracing the power of aesthetics and form-making, the couple peels away normative tropes of social practice. Beginning with aspirations to include aesthetics, beauty, and pomp creates pieces that do not comply with age. Often feeling burdened by good taste, Akoaki’s aesthetic quality tries to be bigger and badder. Imaging Detroit Supported by a Research on the City grant from the University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning, Imaging Detroit is, in a nutshell, an international film festival and pop-up agora. The project investigates the many ways Detroit has been portrayed over the last decade, be it film or publications. Sirota and Farges, along with a suite of collaborators, researched the way people construct narratives around the city and responses to those narratives. A major challenge of the project was how to stage an event in this context without contributing to a proliferation of ruin porn and social degradation. The goal was to create true conversation and a positive impact while staging a public debate and open speculation. The 36-hour event transformed Perrien Park into a civic space with screenings, conversations, exhibitions, food, and leisure—a true ephemeral urbanization. Detroit Cultivator In collaboration with the six-acre Oakland Avenue Urban Farm (OAUF), Akoaki is designing a master plan that combines agriculture, culture, business, and ecology to envision a landscape that is both economically and ecologically sustainable. The project required navigating through major issues regarding land ownership, pressure from developers, and water access. After working with the University of Michigan Law School and a team of “moral investors” to secure the land, a business plan was created with volunteers from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. The plan prioritizes the farm’s productivity to create a source of income and a flexible space for neighborhood entrepreneurs. As a result, the master plan features existing structures that will eventually become public amenity spaces; for example, a shoe-shine parlor will reopen as a multi-tenant commercial space and performance venue. Rather than keeping the farm purely agricultural, Sirota and Farges sought to activate other existing uses through building and site interventions. The project is an experimental urban prototype, though Akoaki is working to ensure the farm can become a permanent fixture in the neighborhood. Jackson, Mississippi Sirota and Farges’s experience working on Detroit Cultivator has set them up to discover a similar food-related project, this time in Mississippi. Supported by a $1 million public art grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, “Fertile Ground: Inspiring Dialogue about Food Access” brings together architects and artists with chefs, gardeners, food policy experts, and local institutions to facilitate a year of community-engaged interventions. Ultimately, the project aims to establish a nonprofit research lab on food access that will operate on a permanent basis to sustain the momentum that is created. While Mississippi is known for its agriculture, a majority of the food grown in the state leaves, and Jackson is full of “food swamps”—a plethora of fast food options as opposed to fresh food. Rather than return to the “idyllic” past of farming (an image that is not necessarily representationally positive to everyone), Akoaki has formulated a “neo-rural” environment that deserves an aesthetic value and brings together aspirations of the city. Midtown Cultural Center Detroit’s Midtown Cultural Connections organized a year-long competition in an effort to connect Detroit’s most significant cultural institutions. The winning entry includes Akoaki and their assembled team of landscape architects, urban planners, and technology-experts. The announcement of the winning proposal displays how Detroit’s participating institutions and stakeholders carry a willingness in allowing an open-ended framework a chance to succeed. The plan that Akoaki and team are working on will take issues of mobility, environmental sustainability, and stormwater stewardship into consideration. Overall, the project requires a sensitivity to placemaking in order to avoid displaced cultural queues and gentrification. When finished, the project will create a unified, dynamic, and inclusive space that facilitates connections between the Cultural Center and the Midtown neighborhood.
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Chicago Chic

Chicago moves to modernize as city overhauls building codes
On April 10, under former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago City Council approved an overhaul to the Chicago Building Code, the first update since 1949. This announcement has invigorated the local design, construction, and real estate industries as it brings the building code in line with national standards and promises greater affordability, sustainability, and innovation to modernize the city. It’s a big win for architects building in Chicago. A couple of major takeaways from the update:
  • A wider range of building materials will be allowed for construction,
  • New sprinkler system and seismic requirements will enhance safety,
  • Cost-effective construction of single-family homes will be incentivized,
  • There will be greater opportunities to convert existing basements and attics into livable space,
  • Additional flexibility for rehab work will be provided, encouraging the preservation of existing buildings,
  • The permitting process will be streamlined,
  • Newer methods and approaches to construct green buildings will be allowed, and,
  • The city will adopt International Building Code standards, making it easier to follow Chicago-specific code requirements.
Chicago’s code changes are meant to improve and encourage new building projects of all sizes by increasing affordability towards materials, construction, and even time spent in the permitting process. A clear emphasis has been placed on making residential projects more accessible and achievable, a potential boon for the real estate industry. It is evident in the city’s lack of new construction—single-family, two- and three-apartment housing typologies have slowly died-out in Chicago—that home renovations and historic rehabs have been difficult to achieve when abiding by Chicago’s existing code. Existing buildings that previously had no hope for a realistic update were felled either by demolition or vacancy, leading to even deeper issues around housing, safety, and social issues. Previously, if an owner added more than 25 percent to the building’s square footage, then the whole project had to comply with new construction building codes no matter if it were a single-family, neighborhood home, or downtown skyscraper. To alleviate such issues, the new code will offer more flexible requirements to differentiate between a project type and its appropriate needs. Moreover, the reduction of the minimum ceiling height requirement and added options to meet light and ventilation requirements will boost accessory dwelling units. Chicago’s need for a more cohesive, citywide strategy to approach affordable housing is more apparent than ever. These changes could attract more investment from the average Joe and developers as projects appear more achievable than resource-sucking and expensive. Within her first days of office, new Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot addressed Chicago’s development community with a strapping message: “Developers can no longer skip their responsibilities by taking tax dollars but leaving it to someone else to solve our affordable housing crisis.” With these code changes, it’s expected that more developers will take on affordable housing projects, a dire need in Chicago and most other cities. Still, developers will need to grapple with the political explosiveness that surrounds gentrification. Neighborhoods like Pilsen and Logan Square are known to fight new construction and developer-led projects, whereas others, such as Garfield Park, struggle to attract interest. The city has anticipated potential drawbacks with the new code and has allowed themselves flexibility in altering it as challenges arise. The overhaul will be gradually phased in, and the first phase is expected to be implemented in Fall 2019, with further phasing between December 1, 2019, to July 31, 2020. Read and download the full ordinance here.
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Sarah Myerscough Gallery

A new gallery dedicated to craft opens in West London
When a fire rages through a forest, it carves the opportunity for a fresh start. There was no fire at the Sarah Myerscough Gallery, but the inaugural exhibition, Scorched, signals a new life for the former Boathouse in Barnes, West London. The exhibition showcases an array of artists, designers, and makers who all work with wood—in this case, scorched wood. The exhibition was originally commissioned by the London Craft Week 2019 for the Fitzrovia Chapel (Central London) but has now moved to the Western banks of the River Thames, where gallerist Sarah Myerscough’s new permanent space can be found. “We want to show people the relevance of contemporary, craft, art, and design in the UK,” Myerscough told AN. “Putting on curated shows like this, it’s quite fitting to bring [Scorched] here to show how it's possible to curate something which allows us to look at individual artists, their unique skills, their innovative approaches, processes involved in making like lathe work, carving and CNC cutting. Designers David Gates and Helen Carnac have produced the most architectural piece, of which there are 17. Using elm, ash, quilted maple, cedar wood from Lebanon, and vitreous enamel on mild steel, the Gates and Carnac have created a cabinet that riffs on the industrial landscapes they draw inspiration from; particularly the former, now-derelict Tate & Lyle factory in East London’s docks. Rust has been used to form decorative patterns while the structural elements, the joints and drawer mechanism, of the cabinet are celebrated and made very apparent. If Lebbeus Woods were to design a cabinet, this is what it would look like. With a background in fine art, Myerscough founded her own gallery in 1998, setting up shop in Mayfair on London’s West End. “All the rents went astronomical,” she explained. “We had to decide to do exhibitions of fares. We chose fares so we could go out and reach our audience.” Then came the opportunity to do both, in Barnes. Supported by the landlord, Myerscough has renovated a former boathouse. Timber beams have been exposed, wood flooring has been put in, and the brick walls were painted white. On the Friday before the gallery opened on June 10, the smell of fresh paint still lingered in the air. “When we first got it, it was like a 1960s office space,” said Myerscough. “It's changed completely.” Where the opening for boats to come and go once was, is now a window which looks out onto the street. Today it advertises the contents of the gallery, offering a view into the relatively small, linear space. “We wanted to bring back its character and the original state of the place. Everything you are shown is full of character, narrative.” Despite being outside of Central London, Myerscough isn’t worried about a drop in visitor numbers. “It's probably more modest in the West End, but I don’t think that really matters, it's more what you do in the space,” she said. “I think we were slightly shackled by place. People say, 'Oh you're a West End gallery' and you immediately have this kind of profile. I don't think it should be like that; what you do in the space should determine how successful you are as a gallerist.” "In the art world, you need to have a specialization to be noticed. But it won't just be timber on display here. There are so much more exciting things going on — with organic materials, sustainability." Scorched runs through August 18, 2019. Other artists featured include Max Bainbridge, Alison Crowther, Christopher Kurtz, Eleanor Lakelin, Malcolm Martin and Gaynor Dowling, Gareth Neal, Jim Partridge & Liz Walmsley, Benjamin Planitzer, Marc Ricourt, Wycliffe Stutchbury and Nic Webb.
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Twin Cities

Facades+ will spotlight Minneapolis's experts and innovators
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On July 24, The Architect's Newspaper is bringing Facades+ to Minneapolis for the first time to discuss facade trends within the city and beyond. Panels for the conference will highlight the recently completed Allianz Field stadium, perspectives on curtainwall systems by leading contractors and manufacturers in the region, and the challenges of high-performance design for northern building enclosures. Architectural practice Alliiance, and structural engineering and facade design firm Studio NYL, are co-chairing the conference. Participants for the conference's symposium include Populous, Mortenson GC, Walter P Moore, Pfeifer-FabriTec, Permasteelisa, Enclos, MG McGrath, Harmon, Morrison Hershfield, Payette, and HGA. In this interview with The Architect's Newspaper, Alliiance Senior Associate Joe Simma and Studio NYL Facade Design Director Will Babbington, the conference co-chairs, discuss the conference's panels and their respective bodies of work. The Architect's Newspaper: Both Alliiance and StudioNYL have completed or are involved in significant civic and or stadium-related projects. What do you perceive to be the most exciting material or technological developments within this typology? Is there a particular detail of the first panel, "Stadium Rising: The Complexities of Allianz Field’s Woven PTFE Facade," that you are interested in? Joe Simma: In terms of technological development I think the design process itself for stadia is very exciting in that it has become an early applications ground for the use of computational design techniques. The stadium typology lends itself nicely to generating a rules-based parametric design process for the general elements, including the facade and it’s (relatively) simpler set of demands. That freedom for experimentation in data and performance-driven form-finding is then able to become a useful reference for the design processes for different building types beyond stadia. From a material standpoint, I'm intrigued by fabric membranes and their continued growth towards becoming an accessible material for facade design. In particular, at the Allianz Field project, I'm excited to hear more about the process of achieving the translucent and metallic quality of the material, which has resulted in a such a dynamic effect across different lighting conditions. Will Babbington: We have worked with a variety of materials in our stadium work. Fabrics such as PTFE and metal meshes are attractive for this building type due to their light weight and potential to be front and back-lit, as well as manipulated geometrically in a variety of compelling manners.

Regardless of materiality, we have had great success—and fun—in our exploration of computational design and digital fabrication methodologies. For the ongoing LA Rams stadium, we worked with Zahner to develop the metal cladding system. Our team was able to optimize the structural performance and detailing of the perforated metal skin by leveraging parametric design tools and fabrication technologies. In the end, the design of a custom perforation pattern was able to be realized by a digital workflow that exported analytical models directly into fabrication files for over 150,000 panels.

AN: Minneapolis is experiencing a period of tremendous growth. A factor in this growth is the concentration of manufacturing and facade management firms. In your opinion, how does this proximity between design practices and manufacturers influence the execution of projects in the area? JS: We are somewhat spoiled by access to world-class glazing, sheet metal, and curtain wall fabricators right in our backyard. In many ways, one of the biggest benefits is easily facilitated collaboration between makers and designers, especially at those early "what if" design stages when fabricator expertise can help give an innovative concept legs. I think one of the biggest areas for untapped collaborative potential is the very unique brain trust that exists in the local region in terms of custom curtain wall engineering. I'm especially looking forward to this panel to see representatives from some of these influential players together in the same room to discuss the current climate and what the future holds for Minneapolis and beyond. WB: The most dynamic and successful designs attain prominence only by close cooperation and understanding between the design, manufacturing, fabrication, and installation teams. This is true in facade design perhaps more so than in any other subset of the building industry. With the importance of the building enclosure being far from lost on a design community in such a climate, combined with the fact that Minneapolis is a national hub for the production of cutting-edge systems; this design and construction community is exceptionally well-positioned to capitalize on this collaborative potential. As the desires and needs for high performance, increased quality, and more formally demanding skins continue to evolve; it’s exciting to see what creativity and innovation, whether in the form of panelization, various fabrication technologies, or other, will permeate into local works and how. AN: Increasing regulation coupled with the growing demand for sustainable design is fueling the proliferation of high-performance enclosure systems. How are Alliiance and StudioNYL addressing this challenge and what lessons can be learned from Minneapolis? JS: To start with, we're trying to set our goals on every project well beyond the minimal baseline of code regulation and treat performance and sustainability as integral components to the design process. Our office is a signatory to the 2030 Commitment which means we're also doing as much measuring as we can so that we can build a living data set to analyze and track trends as we go. The surge in the accessibility of analytical tools is having an impact across the profession, and we're incorporating these tools more frequently and earlier in the process to predict performance and even feedback into the process as a design-driver. Being located in Minneapolis, our frame of reference, of course, is cold climates and all the challenges they bring—so that means we often come to a project with a critical eye towards envelope performance. Marrying these technical demands of thermal performance, durability, and occupant comfort with early design concepts can make for a very rich approach to facade design—an approach that can be a valuable reference outside the region as all buildings become more closely scrutinized for performance. WB: As a firm, we’ve been pursuing sustainable initiatives in our enclosure, as well as in our structural, projects for years. Fortunately, this has become a prevailing sentiment found in not only my ASHRAE committee work where widespread thermal bridging code provisions are near, but also on the job site where the application of thermal break technologies is no longer viewed as a “specialty item."

As a result, “high performance” is being pushed even higher. Our work with Payette on Amherst College’s new Science Center, a 2019 COTE Top Ten award winner, is one shining example of this; while the recladding of the Social Security Administration’s half-century-old HQ we have underway with Snow Kreilich and HGA in Maryland is another.

One of the most compelling byproducts of such works is how quickly these tenets are reaching the mainstream, where I’ve even witnessed firsthand how net-zero and developer-driven goals can align on a mixed-use project. Another collaboration with Pyatt Studio on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation is seeing 21 net zero, low-income homes being built.

More information regarding Facades+ Minneapolis can be found here.
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Basel Beach

Aric Chen, curator of Design Miami/Basel, talks post-nature sustainability
Collectors, gallerists, designers, curators, and critics come to Design Miami/Basel from around the world to revel in some the most opulent and high-priced design. That being said, the fair isn't exactly known for its stance on sustainability, let alone efforts to be environmentally conscious.  That is soon to change, beginning with the 14th edition of Design Miami/Basel from June 11-16. The newly appointed curatorial director, Aric Chen, has plans to not only to change the operations but also the content of the fair itself. By providing an overall curatorial vision for the show's topic driven large-scale exhibition, "Design at Large," Chen surveys topics related to environmental sustainability, resources and waste, and potential futures. AN Interior recently chatted with Chen about his new role, vision for the fair, and highlights from this year’s gallery program.  AN Interior:  Can you tell me more about Design Miami? What has been accomplished and what is your vision moving forward? Aric Chen: I'm really excited to be working with Design Miami/Basel. I've known and consider all the previous directors as friends: Ambra Meda, Marianne Goebl, and Rodman Primack. They've done such a great job establishing Design Miami as this really singular platform for collectible design. AN: What will you be doing? AC: What I'm doing is actually a new role that they've created. It's not the director or chief creative officer (which is what Primack was), it's the Curatorial Director. What they've asked me to do is focus on setting the tone. Read the full article on our interiors and design site, aninteriormag.com.
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A Grimshaw Future

Andrew Whalley to lead Grimshaw Architects
The English quartet of Richard Rogers, Norman Foster, Nicholas Grimshaw, and Michael Hopkins have led, even defined, a modernist strain of postwar British architecture since the late 1970s. They have all been knighted, two have won Pritzker prizes, two RIBA and AIA gold medals, and all are still active in practice, building in every major city in the world. They were all born in the 1930s: Foster (1935), Rogers (1933), Michael Hopkins (1935) and Grimshaw (1939), and it had been unclear if any of these figures had succession plans. But now, one of the group, Nicholas Grimshaw, has announced he is stepping away from the daily management of the firm and handing the reins of the company over to a younger generation. Andrew Whalley, FAIA, who has worked with Grimshaw for 33 years and helped establish the firm’s New York studio in 2001, was voted chairman by the Grimshaw partners. Whalley has worked on projects ranging from the Waterloo International railway station, the Eden Project in Cornwall, the redevelopment of Paddington Station in London, the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center in Troy, New York, and is currently overseeing the design of the Sustainability Pavilion for the World Expo 2020 Dubai. Whalley will serve as chairman from New York where he lives with his family. And as for Grimshaw, he said: “I will continue to make available my experience from the last fifty years in practice," and will remain a voting partner in the firm. Whalley was elevated in 2019 to the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows for his design work. He is being awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters on June 14 at his alma mater, the Glasgow School of Art and the University of Glasgow, in recognition for his contribution to the fields of architecture and design. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Nicholas Grimshaw is retiring, and the text has since been updated.
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Cooper Troopers

Cooper Hewitt celebrates 20 years of National Design Awards with 2019 winners
The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has announced its 2019 National Design Awards winners, choosing to honor 11 designers and studios who are using design to improve the world for the better. The program was launched in 2000 by the White House Millennium Council and has celebrated a wide variety of architects, designers, and advocates ever since. This year’s winners are as follows: Lifetime Achievement: The San Francisco-based graphic designer Susan Kare was recognized for her decades of contributions to modern icon design. Kare, the creative director of Pinterest since 2015, is responsible for many of the original Mac’s classic icons and typefaces. Susan Kare Design has worked for brands such as Facebook, IBM, Microsoft, and other titans for the last 25 years. Architecture Design: Fresh off the completion of the Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland, last year, Thomas Phifer was recognized as the 2019 Architecture Design award winner. Phifer, currently the William Henry Bishop Visiting Professor of Architectural Design at the Yale School of Architecture, is the founder of Thomas Phifer and Partners. Interior Design: San Francisco’s IwamotoScott Architecture took home this year’s Interior Design award, as the Cooper Hewitt cited the firm’s willingness to integrate conceptual research into its realized projects. Landscape Architecture: SCAPE Landscape Architecture was recognized for its numerous projects (and master plans, and research) that combine landscape architecture with living ecology. SCAPE works across all scales but its use of regenerative landscapes and public outreach is deeply embedded in the firm's process no matter the size of the project. Design Mind: Patricia Moore, author, designer, and expert on how peoples’ tastes and preferences change as they age, was honored with the Design Mind award. The Cooper Hewitt singled out Moore’s travels across North America from 1979 to 1982, wherein she disguised herself as an older woman to understand the challenges associated with living as an elderly member of society. Corporate & Institutional Achievement: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s D-Lab seeks to bring design and engineering thinking to the problems faced by those living in poverty. Founded in 2002, the lab now runs 20 interdisciplinary courses leading projects run by, and for, people living in poverty. Communication Design: Typeface designer Tobias Frere-Jones was recognized this year for his innumerable font contributions that are used every day, including “Interstate, Poynter Oldstyle, Whitney, Gotham, Surveyor, Tungsten, and Retina,” according to the Cooper Hewitt. Fashion Design: American fashion designer and founder of an eponymous fashion house Derek Lam was recognized for his relaxed, yet refined, take on sportswear. Lam’s work has been shown all over the world, including at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Museum at FIT. Interaction Design: Ivan Poupyrev has worn many hats over his storied career and has always brought a multidisciplinary approach to interaction design. This year, Poupyrev was recognized for his work in blending digital and tactile interfaces and advancing more equitable interaction solutions. Poupyrev is currently the director of engineering at Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group. Product Design: The Portland-based Tinker Hatfield was recognized for his four decades of contributions to Nike, during which he worked on the iconic Air Jordan sneakers, among numerous other celebrity collaborations. Hatfield is currently the vice president of creative concepts at the company, and continues to push for, and develop, boundary-pushing athletic shoes. Emerging Designer: The nonprofit Open Style Lab, a studio launched in 2014 as a public service project at MIT, took home this year’s Emerging Designer award and a cash prize intended to accelerate its development. The New York–based Lab is dedicated to designing wearables for everyone, regardless of disability, and its portfolio includes wearable technology, accessories, and novel textile research and applications. It appears that the Cooper Hewitt has increased the stringency of its awards eligibility requirements this year; individual nominees must have at least ten years of experience under their belt, up from seven last year, and Lifetime Achievement nominees now require at least 25 years of experience, up from last year’s 20. To be eligible for the Emerging Designer category, nominees must possess less than eight years of professional experience.
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Ter-rific Choice

Detroit picks team to shape Midtown cultural center
An effort to connect Detroit’s cluster of some of its most significant institutions, including its iconic Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), announced today that an international team of urban designers, landscape architects, and technology experts had been selected to create a cultural center in the booming Midtown district. In a year-long process, the Midtown Cultural Connections competition selected a team led by Paris-based Agence Ter, Detroit-based architecture and design studio akoaki, Ann Arbor–based hybrid design firm rootoftwo, and University of Michigan assistant professor and urban planner Harley Etienne, along with other partners. The initial design phase, which will bring all parties together to create a formal plan, will take about 18 months, officials said. The Agence Ter team suggested creating a sort of frame around the ten blocks containing a group of cultural institutions, including the DIA, Wayne State University, the Detroit Historical Society, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the College For Creative Studies, the Michigan Science Center, and the Scarab Club. Within that “Detroit Square,” the project will bring the inside out through “common ground” or communal backyards running between the buildings and their landscapes, to be activated with outdoor cafes, performance spaces, a mobile DJ booth, green spaces, public art, as well as live performance spaces for events. Woodward Avenue, which runs through this district, also may see its massive size reduced. The selection not only inspires pride among the winning team, said akoaki’s Anya Sirota, but it shows how Detroit’s participating institutions and judges are willing to give “an open-ended framework” a chance to succeed. For Sirota, that means the design will continue to evolve as the team works with local stakeholders, residents, and other parties to make the cultural center truly the heart of Midtown Detroit, one of the city’s most revitalized and vibrant neighborhoods. “We took a risk to create a memorable design that was also suggestable,” Sirota said. “We felt strongly that we would need additional feedback on these ideas [and] we’re excited that the jury went with something that allowed for more conversation with stakeholders.” The size and scope of the project are grand, Sirota added, and previous projects involving this area and around Detroit have gone forward without deep feedback, conversation, and consideration of the long-term effect on the city or its residents. This project seeks to “tread lightly” and be sensitive to placemaking within a city that is more than 300 years old and has concerns about issues like gentrification. Sirota also said she is pleased that the plan the winning team is working on will take issues of mobility, environmental sustainability, and stormwater stewardship into consideration. Having a team made up of experts in physical technology, landscaping, urban planning, and design with a Detroit-centic base should provide many new ideas for the cultural center, she noted. Midtown Detroit Inc. and DIA launched the design competition in 2017 to find a team that could unite twelve cultural and educational institutions with a kind of “town square” feel. The goal was to develop a “unified, dynamic, and inclusive space that facilitates connections throughout the Cultural Center,” DIA director Salvador Salort-Pons has said. The Midtown Cultural Connections project had 44 initial submissions from more than 10 countries and 22 cities. Those were winnowed down to eight firms and then three finalists. The other finalists included TEN x TEN of Minneapolis and Mikyoung Kim Design of Boston.
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A House For Ants?

Fernando Mastrangelo creates a tiny house with cast recycled plastic walls
Brooklyn-based concrete artist Fernando Mastrangelo is no stranger to casting delicately colored, intricately-layered furniture and panels in experimental materials. During the 2019 New York Design Week, Fernando Mastrangelo Studio (FM/S) has cast TINY HOUSE, and will exhibit the micro-space in the Design Pavilion, the Times Square-based design district, until May 22. The 175-square-foot structure was designed with sustainability in mind. The exterior walls, which transition from black at the base to a delicate gray at the gabled tip, were cast from recycled plastic. Once past the narrow threshold, the “house” is delineated into three zones—the first is austere and made from cast-off scrap glass. A blue space (the Terra Room) with cladding the texture of volcanic rock and matching shag carpet follows. Past that, visitors can climb through an oculus to a semi-enclosed courtyard garden for a moment of quiet reflection before leaving the house—though in practice, it was being used as a selfie location when AN toured the installation. TINY HOUSE was optimized to integrate a multitude of fine touches to create an oasis-like feel. The landscaping from Brook Landscape, which also designed the courtyard garden, was curated to frame views of the city while also holding the surrounding chaos of Times Square at bay. FM/S worked closely with Anne-Laure Pingreoun, curator at Alter-Projects, and Steve Lastro, CTO of technology designer 6Sides to select its partners. Delos donated a DARWIN system to monitor and respond to the conditions inside by purifying the air and providing dynamic, circadian sound and lighting. Givaudan and Karen Flinn Creative created the custom scents that waft throughout each zone. TINY HOUSE will be on display in the Times Square Pedestrian Plaza, on Broadway between West 45th and West 46th Streets, until May 22.
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THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE…

AIA Housing Awards names the best new homes of 2019
The American Institute of Architects has announced the 12 winners of the 2019 Housing Awards, an annual best-in-show for new residential construction, along with renovation and restoration projects by U.S.-licensed architects. “It’s a life necessity, a sanctuary for the human spirit, and many people’s first and most personal encounter with architecture: the house,” wrote the organization. “By recognizing the best in home design, AIA Housing Awards show the world how beauty, safety, sustainability, and comfort can come together.” The winning projects were divided into four categories, ranging from compact single-family homes to large multi-family housing developments. The 5-member jury evaluated each for design excellence, as well as innovation, affordability, construction quality, site engagement, and social and environmental impact. Among the most eye-catching designs are Tiny Tower by Interface Studio Architects, a 38-foot-tall, steel-clad home, which was built in response to an awkwardly narrow city lot, and Mirror Point by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects, an 80-foot-long, shingled lake house, which recalls the vernacular of old fishermen’s sheds. The other recipients include Bates Masi + Architects, Anacapa Architecture and Willson Design, Johnsen Schmaling Architects, Kennerly Architecture & Planning, Abacus Architects + Planners, Snow Kreilich Architects, Marvel Architects, William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc., and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects, and Kevin Daly Architects. The AIA Housing Awards is now in its 19th consecutive year. Detailed information on each of this year’s winners and additional images can be found on the award’s website.
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Overcoming Obese-city

In Jackson, Mississippi, architects are taking on a citywide hunger problem

By more than one measure, Jackson, Mississippi, is one of the nation’s unhealthiest cities. In 2017, it was named the fattest city in America based on 17 indicators, including obesity rates, levels of physically active adults, and access to fresh produce. In fact, nearly one-fifth of city residents are considered food insecure. The state of Mississippi does not fare much better—for the last eight years, it was reported as the most food insecure state in the country, even though agriculture is the state’s top industry. 

It’s not just that Jackson has only 17 grocery stores for a population of nearly 170,000—that’s one per nearly 10,000 people. But the food that is available is disproportionately tipped toward fast food and gas station items. As one scholar of Jackson’s food culture told the Clarion Ledger, “Hunger happens in between bags of chips.” 

All of this is compounded by the city’s lack of viable public transit options. Jackson is designed around the car, but many residents, whose wallets are already stretched thin on federal food assistance dollars, don’t own one. Even those with groceries or farmers’ markets in walking distance are discouraged by the lack of sidewalks or crosswalks. These conditions are undergirded by decades of generational poverty and disinvestment due to white flight, unfavorable tax policies, and the state’s aggressive efforts to cut resources for Medicaid and limit food stamps.

But Jackson also has a long history of civil rights activism, and its residents in 2013 and again in 2017 elected mayors who promised nothing less than wholesale social and economic transformation. For Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, addressing Jackson’s food access challenge is part of his promise to make it “the most radical city in the world.” But rather than enlisting conventional strategies, the city has mobilized its long-range planning division to lead a new design-based initiative. Bolstered by a $1 million public art grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, “Fertile Ground: Inspiring Dialogue about Food Access” brings together architects and artists alongside chefs, gardeners, food policy experts, and local institutions to facilitate a year of community-engaged interventions at three sites in the city. The project will culminate in a citywide exhibition in the spring of 2020, but ultimately it aims to establish a nonprofit research lab on food access that will operate on a permanent basis to sustain the momentum that is created.

The city invited an intriguing roster of architects and designers from around the country to participate in the multidisciplinary initiative: Kathy Velikov and Geoffrey Thün, directors of RVTR; Anya Sirota and Jean Louis Farges of Akoaki; Walter Hood of Hood Design Studio, and Jonathan Tate, who runs his namesake practice, Office of Jonathan Tate. Architects are central to the project, said Travis Crabtree, a senior urban planner with the city and one of the project’s coordinators. “When we first got the grant, people asked, Why are we spending $1 million dollars on an art project when we could feed people for a million?” he said.

Looking more closely at what these designers bring to the table may illustrate what can be gained from this approach. The question of access is at the heart of practices like the Toronto and Ann Arbor, Michigan–based RVTR, led by Velikov and Thün, who are both associate professors at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. In their ongoing project, Protean Prototypes, they conceive of public transit systems as platforms to address access to mobility, food, education, and health. They do this by mapping the social and spatial opportunities for access, connecting underserved areas with local actors who can bridge access gaps and by proposing lightweight spatial prototypes that overlay onto public transit infrastructure, such as bus stops and metro stations. The prototypes might include emerging tech like mobile produce vending systems and bike-cart shares alongside other programs with a small footprint like exercise equipment and book lending programs. Applying this method to Chicago, San Francisco, and Detroit, this complex systems approach brings together architectural and urban scale in new assemblages that amplify the resources already on the ground and take advantage of the larger urban context to channel them where they are needed most.

In Jackson, Velikov and Thün will focus their efforts at the Ecoshed, a 15,000-square-foot, open-air building on a 2-acre industrial site that borders two very different neighborhoods—the rapidly gentrifying Fondren and Virden Addition, one of the poorest in the city. For Fertile Ground, the Ecoshed will demonstrate a self-sustaining closed-loop food system and host the food lab, and eventually host the Fertile Ground nonprofit.

Anya Sirota and Jean Louis Farges of Detroit-based Akoaki will also focus their efforts at the Ecoshed. Their practice has engaged with the problem of food access through four years of work with an urban farm in Detroit, the Oakland Avenue Urban Farm. Sirota is also an associate professor of architecture at Taubman. Detroit provides a uniquely fertile landscape for thinking about urban food access. According to Sirota, Detroit has 1,300 urban farms, but none of them are sustainable. At the 6-acre Oakland Avenue Urban Farm, sustainability for Sirota and Farges has meant strategizing beyond economics alone. To them, urban farms are hubs for urban regeneration, and they realized that multiple layers of activity and programming were needed to realize that potential. Like Velikov and Thün, they see architecture as a way of “amplifying the activity that’s already happening on the ground, to stitch together new and productive alliances.”

Detroit may be 1,000 miles from Jackson, but the connection between the two cities runs deep. Like Jackson, Detroit is a majority African American city, with many residents who have ties to Mississippi and other southern states. Thus, the Oakland Avenue farm grows many heritage products from Mississippi. Likewise, the association to agriculture is similarly fraught in both cities; as Sirota noted, “We are highly attuned to the idea that going back to the land isn’t necessarily representationally positive to everyone.” Rather than framing urban farming as a return to an idyllic past (and glossing over the history of slavery and policies that led to the dispossession or denial of land to freed slaves), Akoaki’s urban farm work is firmly sited in the urban. “We’ve become astutely aware that the neo-rural is not rural; it’s something that deserves an aesthetic that hybridizes all the aspirations of the city and combines them with the necessity to produce picturesque landscape and food.” Thus the practice’s design of pop-up performance spaces next to the farm’s kale fields for the Detroit African Funkestra is based on the colors and shapes of shuttered music venues across Detroit.

Another participating architect, Oakland-based landscape architect Walter Hood, has extensive experience designing cultural and urban landscapes. Hood, who is also a professor at University of California, Berkeley's  will focus his efforts at Galloway Elementary in Jackson. The 4.3-acre, publicly owned lot is currently a playfield for a local elementary school. According to the city’s planning department, this site is located in a lower-income residential neighborhood with little public space and bordered by a major street dominated by fast food establishments. The theme here will be on food and community.

This is a good fit for Hood. His projects in Charleston, South Carolina; Macon, Georgia; Detroit, and Philadelphia, among other cities, demonstrate a steady thread of incorporating community feedback, local culture, and collective memory into landscape and urban design. In his Water Table installation at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, Hood tapped into the ecology and history of rice production by mounting thousands of Carolina Gold rice plants in circular planters on a platform in a school courtyard, essentially recreating a rice paddy in downtown Charleston. The project resurfaced the link between rice production and the history of the slave labor that made Carolina’s rice industry possible. Afterwards, the project was dissembled and distributed, planter by planter, across schools and institutions in the area, and lived on to continue the conversation. This archaeological approach also surfaces in many other projects by Hood Studio, including its master plan for Detroit’s Rosa Parks neighborhood. Hood's work has long engaged with the idea of “being a protagonist in design," and, in reflecting on the future work in Jackson, asked, “How do we make a landscape powerful, so that once you do it, it has a resonance?”

Finally, at Congress Street, the third Fertile Ground site, New Orleans–based architect Jonathan Tate will bring his experience with food culture and exhibition design to a downtown storefront space. The Congress Street site is close to the heart of government and is intended to amplify the project to public officials and policymakers who work nearby.

For Tate, who designed the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans, the task includes not only the adaptive reuse of an existing building but also the design of an outdoor parklet that invites the public in through greenscape and seating. The challenge will be to bring it all together—the art, the history, the contributions of numerous partners, and of course, engage critical feedback, in a downtown that goes quiet at 5 p.m. on weekdays. "Instead of a veneer you're walking through, it's about bringing the space of the building out into the street," he explained.

The architects, along with other Fertile Ground team members, began site visits in April, and will develop their proposals until the citywide expo in 2020.

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East River Presence

Brooklyn waterfront office building features brick and glass curtain facades
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The Brooklyn waterfront is no stranger to development. Over the past two decades, swaths of post-industrial Williamsburg filled with warehouses and factories have been cleared in favor of glass-and-steel residential properties. One building, 25 Kent, an under-construction half-million-square-foot office tower designed by Hollwich Kushner as Design Architect and Gensler as Design Development Architect bucks the area's cliches with its bifurcated facades of brick, glass, and blackened steel. On a lot that measures 400 feet by 200 feet, the full-block project presents a formidable mass in comparison to its low-rise recent neighbors. Reaching eight stories, with floor to ceiling heights of 15 feet, the office tower is largely split between two staggered rectangular volumes linked by a hovering glass prism. Combining these three materials is not inherently novel, but the mix presented challenges in meeting increasingly stringent sustainability and LEED goals. "In lieu of brick returns, an aluminum perimeter trim was used in tandem with thermally broken window to achieve the best performance in a practical and cost-effective manner," said Yalin Uluaydin, senior associate at Eckersley O'Callaghan, the project's facade consultant. "Similar issues were addressed at the interface of the east and west facing aluminum curtain wall and underslung curtain wall. Mainly we had to address the offset mullions and how the curtain wall end panels are set in a brick opening on three sides."
  • Facade Manufacturer Summit Brick Pure+FreeForm Guardian Schüco
  • Architects Gensler Hollwich Kushner
  • Facade Installer CMI 
  • Facade Consultants Eckersley O'Callaghan
  • Location Brooklyn, New York
  • Date of Completion 2019
  • System Glass curtainwall with punched masonry
  • Products 25 Kent Blend Brick SCHUCO AWS 75. SI+ Guardian SN 70/41 Brooklyn Steel
The structure's facades are understated, rising with little in the way of outward ornament. The east and west elevations are clad in glass curtain wall modules tied to the structural slab edges with steel anchors. For the side-street elevations, the design team nods to the surrounding historic warehouses with multi-tone brick surfaces. Successive floors, which protrude and recess like an overturned-ziggurat, are clad in a custom blend of bricks patterned in a stretcher-bond format. Punched mullion-free window openings, measuring eight feet by ten feet, are rhythmically placed across these elevations to further daylighting while mirroring the stylistic qualities of adjacent structures. The windows, inset from the brick drape, are lined with custom 'blackened steel' finished aluminum. On the North and South streets, the retail storefront entrances are framed with printed 'blackened steel' aluminum portals, in a custom finish developed by Pure+FreeForm  The portal details were brushed with silver pearl and treated with a patinated gloss matte layer, providing subtle iridescent qualities. Proximity to the waterfront, although an amenity, also presented a structural challenge for the design team. "The foundation design is a continuous mat slab with thickened portions below the tower shear wall cores, and drilled tiedown anchors located outside the tower footprints to counteract hydrostatic uplift from groundwater," said Gensler Design Manager & Senior Associate Anne-Sophie Hall. "To accommodate the architectural intent of the vast column-free space in the central region of each floor plate, each of the six columns supporting the bridge slab has a 20-foot long rectangular drop panel to achieve the desired long span with a conventionally reinforced 12-inch slab, while eschewing post-tensioning or similar strategies which would have entailed additional costs or specialized subcontractors."