Search results for "waterfront"

Placeholder Alt Text

Building Bridges

inFORM studio and BuroHappold's Providence Pedestrian Bridge links and transforms downtown
In many ways, the newly developed Innovation & Design District in Providence, Rhode Island, echoes the typical pattern of urban redevelopment: Sleek, angular buildings have sprung up on previously industrial land parcels, now home to hotels, shops, and academic centers. A waterfront park will provide seven new acres of green space amid the bustling new development. At the heart of the new district, a new bridge completed last year aims to physically link for the city while inviting pedestrians to cross the Providence River and explore the urban landscape. Envisioned by Detroit-based architecture firm inFORM studio and structural engineer BuroHappold, the Providence River Pedestrian Bridge is the culmination of a decade’s work. The 394-foot walkway cuts across the river from east-to-west, set atop granite piers remaining from the narrow stretch of Interstate 195 that traversed the river before its relocation in 2013. Wood cladding by SITU Fabrication provides the bridge with warmth and references the historic nature of the Providence. While the bridge's prominent location has made it a well-attended attraction since its summer completion, the bridge is expected to see an even greater surge in pedestrian activity as the Innovation & Design District continues development. Providence has long been a city defined by academia; five universities call the city home, many of which have continued to expand into disconnected nodes bisected by the river. With the opening of the pedestrian bridge, Brown University’s main campus is now linked to its medical school, the New School of Professional Studies, the Peti Laboratory, and South Street Landing, a 432,000-square-foot residential development by the university. Johnson & Wales University and the Rhode Island School of Design have also been connected via the bridge. BuroHappold’s Cities Team estimated that 14 percent of the city’s population lives within a one-mile range of the bridge, and approximately 60,000 people work within that range. The accessibility of the location is a draw in its own right, but a space designated for pedestrian use in this area has its own symbolic importance: in the transition from major highway to a public walkway, what was once a quick route from one city to another has become a destination that Providence residents can enjoy on their own terms.
Placeholder Alt Text

Toronto Terroir

80 Atlantic is Toronto’s first timber office building in generations
A look around Toronto’s seemingly innumerable construction sites tends to reveal building materials common to many North American cities: brick and stone, steel and glass, and of course, concrete. But a new mass timber office building in the Liberty Village neighborhood points in a different direction. Designed by Canadian firm Quadrangle for Hullmark Developments, with partner BentallGreenOak on behalf of Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, the five-story, 90,000-square-foot 80 Atlantic debuted this past fall as Toronto’s first wood-frame office building in over a century. Part of a larger commercial development near the King Street corridor a few blocks north of the Gardiner Expressway, 80 Atlantic’s underground parking garage, first floor, and core were built using conventional cast-in-place concrete. The upper four stories, including an uppermost mechanical level, were built with glue-laminated timber (GLT) columns and beams that support nail-laminated timber floors. The rectangular building’s street-fronting east and west facades feature an irregular grid pattern in stone and glass, while its longer north and south aspects are fully glazed to reveal and highlight the internal timber structure. This is the second Liberty Village building designed by Quadrangle for Hullmark, following the firm’s conversion of an adjacent historic warehouse structure, 60 Atlantic, into office and retail space. According to the designers, uncovering the original post-and-beam structure at 60 Atlantic inspired the idea for a mass timber neighbor, now newly legal thanks to a 2015 change in regional building codes that allows for mass timber structures of up to six stories. “We started to imagine a modern wood office building that took all of the best parts of the old post and beam building that we uncovered at 60 Atlantic and combine it with all the modern comforts of a 21st-century office building and started referring to that concept as post and beam 2.0,” Quadrangle’s Wayne McMillan said at Toronto’s recent Building Show. According to the development team, using mass timber for 80 Atlantic also offered an important point of aesthetic differentiation as well as environmental benefit. Made from layers of treated and glued wood, GLT is fire resistant and durable and is considered more sustainable than concrete or steel. As the building industry increasingly searched for ways to to reduce both embodied and emitted carbon, advocates of mass timber forms such as GLT and its closely-related cross-laminated timber point to environmental benefits including wood’s ability to sequester carbon while growing, and to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide generated in the construction process. While mass timber has garnered significant interest abroad, including for the U.K.’s recently approved, fully timber Eco Park Stadium by Zaha Hadid Architects, its adoption for large-scale buildings in North America has been slower. 80 Atlantic is only the second mass timber building to be approved in Toronto, following 728 Yonge Street. This may soon change, as Sidewalk Labs recently proposed an entirely timber smart city on the Toronto waterfront.
Placeholder Alt Text

Idea Generator

Sidewalk Labs is using machine learning to make neighborhood design smoother
Sidewalk Labs, the Alphabet subsidiary focused on urban technology, has been working on a new software tool for generating optimized city layouts. In an effort to combat the disconnect between various stakeholders in the urban planning process—architects, planners, engineers, and real estate developers—and their software, product manager Violet Whitney and designer Brian Ho have created a new computational tool that analyzes a wide array of data to automatically create thousands, or millions, of neighborhood layouts from a baseline design.  Examples of inputs and considerations Sidewalk Labs listed include regulatory concerns, street layouts, block orientations, real estate, weather, building height, and more, which can then be considered against “quality of life” measures. Using machine learning, the technology should get “smarter” over time.  Design always takes compromise. Too much density can cause traffic or an abundance of building shadows, yet too little is also no good. A lot of open space can be great, until it gets in the way of easy movement. Designers and other involved parties can consider their goals and generate many new designs to see different possibilities, which would then inspire and instruct human designers (there’s no doing away with architects just yet). The Sidewalk Labs team also wants to diminish the disconnect between the different software different parties use, from developers' Excel sheets to the powerful modeling tools used by engineers, and make communication easier.  In a digital case study, the researchers presented a plan for a two-by-two-block neighborhood that aimed for at least 45 percent open space, 49 percent daylight access, and as a proxy for density, 1.5 million square feet of floor area. While the human-led design hit the required parameters, then using the new tool, researchers were able to generate thousands of variations of that initial design, around 400 of which outperformed the original. Sidewalk Labs also suggested that community feedback might be integrated into the technology and its holistic process in the future, likely important given the pushback its high-tech timber neighborhood—accused of having all sorts of ulterior motives like corporate surveillance—has been getting in Toronto. The tool is part of a broader trend to introducing automation into design, whether on the interior scale, such as WeWork’s proprietary space-laying algorithms, or at the city scale such as emerging “digital twin” projects. For more on the latest in AEC technology and for information about the upcoming TECH+ conference, visit https://techplusexpo.com/events/la/
Placeholder Alt Text

Time is a Flat Squircle

Canada gives utopia a chance with The Orbit
There have been hundreds of smart cities recently proposed for countries all over the world, but one of the most recent and confident (backed by developer Cortel Group) is The Orbit, a smart city master plan in Innisfil, Canada, just north of Toronto, envisioned by architecture firm PARTISANS Innisfil is a rural town with a long history of progressive thinking. It was one of the first towns to test out Uber and also accepts cryptocurrency as a payment method for city services and taxation. The entire proposal anticipates boosting Innisfil's population from 30,000 to anywhere from 50,000 to 150,000.  The Orbit looks and feels like the utopian Garden Cities which originated in England during the heights of the Industrial Revolution. A suburban dream of order, lawns, and cleanliness away from the filth and chaos of industrial London, these cities were often realized in concentric circles with the ingredients of society each assigned their own belt: Housing, schools, shops, factories, and transportation segregated from each other.  While PARTISANS does admit to Garden City inspiration, their reasons for departure from the framework are weak: The design claims to use a unique street grid form the firm has called “squircles”—not quite squares and not quite circles. But really, they just replace 19th-century jargon with 21st-century jargon, and instead of idyllic lawns for children to play on, the plan speaks to more efficient and environmentally friendly suburbanization patterns as an alternative to urban sprawl. The project, which will span over 450 acres, will also include a plan for mass fiber optic cable systems that will provide connectivity across sidewalks, streets, and buildings as well as drone ports and self-driving cars. The firm has also entertained the idea of how health and wellness centers can benefit from such technologies. All the other elements of a hospitable city will be included as well, including a school, farmer's market, library, recreational centers, and art institutions. The Innisfil Council voted unanimously to accept PARTISANS’ proposal after putting out a call for designs looking for a “visionary city of the future centered around a transit hub.” Prompted by the introduction of a new Metrolinx rail station known as GO Transit, which is expected to form the center of The Orbit's layout, it will be joined by two mixed-use towers that will house offices, retail, and residential spaces. The squircles, or roadways, will then wrap around this central hub.

The Orbit is also following in the footsteps of the earlier proposed project in Toronto by Sidewalk Labs. An offshoot of Alphabet Inc., Sidewalk Labs has redesigned the old industrial waterfront district of Quayside to resemble an Innovative Development and Economic Acceleration (IDEA) district. Both Canadian plans are idealistic in nature and check many of the boxes required for sustainable and sensitive development in contemporary discourse. However, their main drawback is that they are digital master plans, and their biggest ideas, from infrastructure to real estate, require the intervention and cooperation of many different parties—these outside partnerships undermine the authoritative leadership proposed by a utopian plan and jeopardize the guarantees the designers see (although Sidewalk Labs is definitely making progress).

Placeholder Alt Text

A Win for the Weaves

MVRDV to redevelop Seoul waterfront as sprawling urban park
Rotterdam-based MVRDV is no stranger to the Seoul area. Its 2018 addition to the Paradise City development, dubbed The Imprint, provided an abstract boost for the colossal entertainment complex near South Korea’s largest airport. This month it was announced the firm won a competition for the major redesign of the Tencheon valley and waterfront in Seoul with "The Weaves," set to begin construction in 2021. The Weaves site is located on a large stretch of waterfront land between Seoul’s former Olympic stadium in the Jamsil District and the central business district of Gangnam. In an area dominated by elevated roadways and parking lots, MVRDV plans to turn our attention to the natural landscape, focusing on three major aspects in its design: natural ecosystems, pedestrian access, and space for public programming. “Seoul is taking amazing steps to transform grey and obsolete infrastructure into lively green and social spaces," said MVRDV founding partner Winy Maas in a press release. "The Weaves is a design that introduces natural landscape combined with exceptional, varied access. It also responds to the local identity. Jamsil is known for its history of silk production and the design recalls the tangled silk threads of its past in a unique and playful way. It becomes an intertwining poem where movement becomes landscape poetry.” Major plans include returning the Tancheon river to a more naturalistic state, changing it from a straight canal to a whimsical, meandering stream with retention pools, islands, and aquatic plants to “blur the boundary between land and water.” Additionally, a series of winding paths will allow pedestrian access throughout the site from various points. These graded, intersecting paths will form plazas with cafes and amphitheaters to accommodate vast public programs. Construction of The Weaves is expected to take approximately three years, with projected completion in 2024.
Placeholder Alt Text

Facades+ SF

EHDD discusses Facades+ and industry trends in the Bay Area
facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
On January 31, The Architect’s Newspaper’s Facades+ conference series is returning to San Francisco. The conference co-chair is EHDD, a Bay Area firm with particular expertise in sustainable design. The morning is split into three panels discussing the resilient design features of 181 Fremont and The Exchange; the complex facade assemblies of Mira Tower and 950 Market Street; and the refurbishment of the historic Pacific Gas & Electric along with the building reuse of 633 Folsom. Participating firms include Atelier Ten, Handel Architects, Heintges, Heller Manus Architects, Gensler, RCH, Studio Gang, SGH, The Swig Company, and WJE. In this interview with The Architect's Newspaper EHDD principal Brad Jacobson, associate principal Lynne Riesselman, associate Ivan Chabra, and senior associate Katherine Miller discuss the curation of the morning symposium as well as their present body of work. AN: San Francisco, and the Bay Area as a whole, is undergoing a tremendous phase of growth and development. What opportunities and challenges does that present for AEC practitioners, and how is EHDD addressing them?  Brad Jacobson: Economies go in cycles, and we have been riding a long wave. These times of optimism are opportunities to explore innovative solutions to some of our toughest problems. Here in the Bay Area, these range from climate change, to housing affordability, to enriching public discourse. We’ve been finding success, for example, designing with Mass Timber as an alternative to concrete and steel. It radically reduces embodied carbon emissions while resulting in an aesthetically higher quality product that also allows for prefabrication and streamlined construction processes. The tremendous amount of construction we are seeing bakes in our city's fabric for decades, if not centuries, both in terms of identity and performance. Key efforts, such as building electrification to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, are a priority as these decisions are difficult to undo. Nearly all of EHDD’s projects in design are all-electric, and we’ve been advocating with local municipalities considering electrification ordinances. A core part of our mission as a design firm is enabling our clients to change the world for the better. For KQED, our new Headquarters design opens up the building to better engage and connect with the community. We need to redouble our efforts to support institutions like KQED who are helping keep our City open, democratic, and equitable at a time when the profit motive is so strong. California is no stranger to natural disasters and is facing increasing strain from climate change. 181 Fremont is a model of earthquake resiliency and The Exchange for a large-scale demonstration of LEED qualification. From your perspective, what lessons can be learned from these two case studies and which recent projects by EHDD demonstrate the firm's commitment to resilient design? Lynn Rieselman: Resiliency is such a complex topic. By examining these projects in juxtaposition, we identify how they show leadership in two distinct aspects of resilient design. Sustainability is one cornerstone of resilience: the more effective we are, collectively from a sustainability standpoint, the less our resilience will be tested in the long run. Despite being a speculative office building, and over 700,000 square feet, the Exchange was designed to achieve dual LEED Platinum and Well Certification. It’s an excellent example for the commercial development sector that sustainable design can and should be pursued at every scale. In contrast, the design of 181 Fremont exemplifies excellent resilience against known threats. The project is designed above and beyond code with the intention that it would stay operational after a major seismic event, a plan that is proudly expressed through its triangulated exoskeleton. This strategy protects the investment made in the building, and creates the potential for the project to act as a resource for its community by providing shelter to others in the event of a major regional disruption. The third prong of resilience that we must consider as a design community is speculative resilience, or how our designs will address threats that emerge as the effects of climate change become more tangible. At EHDD, we regularly work on the waterfront, leading us to consider the more pessimistic predictions around sea-level rise. For example, our recent project concept for the National Aquarium of New Zealand identified a multi-faceted resilience strategy, including: a visitor level raised above a worst-case 100-year storm surge, a water-tight basement with sealed penetrations, elevated mission-critical equipment, and a site design that restores native marsh and dune ecology to channel flooding from the building. The design is also intended to exceed seismic codes and has an envelope that incorporates passive design strategies, so the building remains occupiable and comfortable in the event of power loss. MIRA Tower and 950 Market Street demonstrate a spate of new San Francisco developments pushing the envelope in terms of facade cladding and assembly. What do you hope will be the main takeaways from "Twists and Stacks: Assembly Innovations?" Ivan Chabra: As Brad mentioned, this phase of rapid growth will set the trajectory for the character of our city and region for many years. In addition to making sure we are addressing pressing environmental and social issues, this is a unique opportunity to explore the potential of architectural expression. Both of these new buildings depart from the Miesian paradigm of shear glass curtain walls, taking advantage of the three-dimensional opportunities of facade design and fabrication. Utilizing repetition and variation to create complex geometries, these additions to the San Francisco streetscape and skyline add texture and dynamism to the city without resorting to historicism or purely sculptural form-making. These two projects do so with very different techniques, from the materials that are used to the level and scale of prefabrication (and how that affected the erection process), to the hidden elements and details that make these complex geometries possible. I hope that we gain insight into these differences and an understanding of the parameters of cost, schedule, character, and performance which drove these decisions. It is safe to say that preservation and building reuse are essential to responsible urban growth; Pacific Gas & Electric and 633 Folsom are two sides of the same coin on this subject. How will the audience benefit from the juxtaposition of the two case studies and which facade strategies to be presented are you most curious about. Katherine Miller: Reuse of existing buildings is absolutely essential to responsible growth. From a carbon reduction perspective, retrofits have a huge advantage over new construction. New buildings, even buildings that are 30% more efficient than average existing buildings, can take decades to pay back the emissions generated from their construction. If we are going to meet the goals set by the Paris Agreement and the State of California – to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 – we need to turn our attention to upgrading our existing building stock. We aren’t going to get there only by building new, energy-efficient structures. Most of the buildings that exist today will still exist in 2050, and this is especially true in a heavily built-up and historic city like San Francisco. The two projects in this panel represent opposite ends of the building re-use spectrum. The 215 Market Street project is a historic restoration and refurbishment of a landmarked 1924 terra-cotta and wood window facade, while 633 Folsom is a transformative re-clad and expansion of a 1966 building. I’m looking forward to hearing about the process that led to the decision to re-use and invest in these existing structures rather than sell or re-build. I think it’s not a coincidence that both buildings have long-term owners with long-range views and a deep history in the City. In terms of specific facade strategies, for 215 Market, I’m interested to hear how a small investigation into window leaks morphed into a full-fledged multi-phase refurbishment. For 633 Folsom, I’m interested to learn how the exterior’s transformation benefits the interior experience through improved daylighting and views. Further information regarding Facades+ San Francisco can be found here.
Placeholder Alt Text

New Urbanist Gingerbread for Transit Oriented Teens

Museum of Architecture’s 2019 Gingerbread City explores transportation
Every year, London's Museum of Architecture challenges architects to create a fantastic and futuristic city made entirely out of gingerbread, marshmallows, and other sweet treats. Now in its fourth year, Gingerbread City is a miniature candy land designed to consider the future of the urban environment and spark public dialogue about architecture and how we interact with the cities around us.  While the city itself is delightfully whimsical and theoretically edible, the ideas embodied within its sugar-coated walls represent real insights on technology and sustainability. With transportation as this year’s theme, over 100 designers contributed imaginative ways of rethinking mobility in cities while shining the holiday lights on how architects and planners approach both the urban and natural landscapes. In order to participate, architects, designers, and engineers selected and purchased a plot from a master plan of the tiered city developed by Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design. Plot options ranged in size from “tiny” to “large,” as well as plots for specific London landmarks, landscapes, and bridges.  Gingerbread City is a really important project for Tibbalds because of the way it makes everyone who visits think about cities and what they mean. It prompts questions about the many things that designers and place-makers have to deal with in creating interesting places that work for those that use them,” said Hilary Satchwell, director of Tibbalds, said in a recent press release. “Fast, fun, edible urbanism is a great way into some important discussions about the value of place.” Complete with lighting, an operational train, and tons of punny names such as “Waffle Iron Tower,” “Wafer Bridge,” and “Gingerbread Modern,” this year's Gingerbread City takes place at Somerset House, or “Sugarset House” as Hawkins\Brown titled their submission. Participants include returning architects such as Foster + Partners, SOM, PDP London, PLP Architecture, and Phase3. Many other firms have joined for the first time including Grimshaw, KPF, and HKS. The city is complete with various districts including a University District, Cultural Quarter, Sustainable Quarter, Gingerbread Waterfront, Castle Hill, and London Quarter Island. Building types include mixed-use, bridges, houses, a stadium, university, train station, urban farm, ferry terminal, and many other spaces that are critical to the contemporary city.  With more than 40,000 public visitors annually, this year’s exhibition will also include a series of gingerbread house making workshops for families as well as a shop. The Museum of Architecture is also celebrating the launch of a new grant-giving fund which will support projects that engage the public with architecture. According to Melissa Woolford, the museum's founder and director, “The Gingerbread exhibition supports our year-round work as an architectural charity and this year sees us able to set up a grant-giving fund so we can support more public-facing and entrepreneurial projects.”  Gingerbread City is currently on display at Somerset House and will be on view through January 5, 2020.
Placeholder Alt Text

In the Round

2019 Best of Design Awards winners for Unbuilt — Urban Design
2019 Best of Design Award for Unbuilt – Urban Design: St. John's Park Designer: Ballman Khapalova Location: New York City

St. John’s Park is the entry into Manhattan via the Holland Tunnel, passed through by 100,000 people per day. The distribution of traffic into five directions using five off-ramps results in a difficult morphology, rendering the center of the site inaccessible and unbuildable. As a result, St. John’s Park is permanently closed to the public. This proposal is generated from the geometry of the existing off-ramps, so that tunnel traffic may continue unimpeded. A continuous loop travels from street level to one level belowground, excavating the center of the site and allowing passage below the existing roadway. At street level is a series of new playgrounds, lawns, and dog parks. At the center is the main park, 300 feet in diameter and open to the sky.

Resources: Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti Climate Engineer: Transsolar KlimaEngineering Construction and Logistics: Sciame Construction Honorable Mentions Project Name: Pensacola Waterfront Framework Plan Designer: SCAPE Landscape Architecture DCP Project Name: Pier 70 Designer: SITELAB urban studio Editors' Picks Project Name: Chicago Transit Authority: Damen Green Line Station Designer: Perkins and Will Project Name: Boston Coastal Flood Resilience Design Guidelines & Zoning Overlay District Designer: Utile, Inc.
Placeholder Alt Text

Highly Evolved

SOFTlab used complex computation to realize a colorful Philly installation
In West Philadelphia, SOFTlab has realized a six-pillar installation called Spectral Grove. The fanning canopy was realized with the help of three custom computational solutions. Made of powder-coated aluminum, the interlocking metal fins direct light and shadow throughout the day for an animated visual effect. Getting the angles of the canopy just right proved particularly challenging. SOFTlab used a Grasshopper plugin called Galapagos, which runs evolutionary algorithms to optimize the rotation of each pillar’s trunk, reducing the number of acute angles and very small segments. Optimizing the overhead lattice structure was not just a visual concern, either—the interlacing canopy provides the stiffness that holds the entire structure together. SOFTlab automated the design of the nearly 1,000 custom stainless steel brackets that hold the complex canopy together, which would have been nearly impossible to do accurately by hand, not to mention extremely time-consuming, according to founder Michael Szivos. While this is a process the firm has used on many projects, this was the first time that SOFTlab used it to develop parts that would wind up three dimensional after being folded from 2D shapes. Finding the precise shape of the brackets was a difficult procedure, according to Szivos. “The main issue with the bending of the steel brackets was calculating an acceptable tolerance,” he explained. “This was complicated by the interwoven canopy. Because all of the pieces in the canopy connected in an unordered way we couldn't add much tolerance to the bolt holes. If we added tolerance the pieces would eventually not line up because of the overall lack of precision in the connections.” This required some complex mathematics, and while their typical approach would be to model the angles and even everything out across them, the fact that there were so many brackets meant that rather than adding negligible elongation, it could’ve offset lengths by more than an inch. Using automation helped generate the unique brackets that hold the structure together. Even the non-structural elements took advantage of computation. To create the desired gradient effect while staying within budget constraints, SOFTlab created a custom program that created pairs of colors selected from a standard Drylac catalog, meaning that the illusion of using 100 custom colors could be realized with just 28 off-the-shelf shades.  SOFTlab is known for its high-tech approach, especially in regards to its other colorful installations like a glowing waterside ring in Virginia, and a kaleidoscopic pavilion in New York. Computational design has served other firms working to make elaborate metal installations look effortless, as well—earlier this year MARC FORNES / THEVERYMANY unveiled a sweeping aluminum pavilion created with the help of digital modeling in Texas.

For more on the latest in AEC technology and for information about the upcoming TECH+ conference, visit https://techplusexpo.com/events/la/

Placeholder Alt Text

Aggregate Duo

COOKFOX skirts the East River with 3D-molded precast concrete panels
facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
The waterfront surrounding Brooklyn's former Domino Sugar Refinery continues to rise at a dizzying pace and, similar to DUMBO to the south, this spate of growth is led by Two Trees Development—ongoing projects include PAU's reinvention of the Domino Sugar Refinery and the recently announced BIG-designed towers. Unlike other sections of the Williamsburg waterfront which are dominated by swaths glass high-rises, the Domino Sugar site is a largescale demonstration of opacity. Ten Grand and One South First, a project designed by architectural practice COOKFOX, continues the trend with custom-blended aggregate precast concrete panels. Programatically, the development is split between two distinct masses—respectively housing residential and office functions—and rests atop a three-story podium acting as a full-block streetwall. One South First, the residential tower, rises to a height of 42-stories and careens over the 22-story Ten Grand; both are connected by a glass-clad sky bridge located at the summit of Ten Grand.
  • Facade Manufacturer Gate Precast Schüco Skyline Windows
  • Architect COOKFOX
  • Facade Installer Gate Precast AM Architectural Metal & Glass
  • Structural Engineer Rosenwasser Grossman Consulting Engineers
  • Location Brooklyn, New York
  • Date of Completion 2020
  • System Skyline Windows 1200 Series Dual Action with crank handle (“Tilt / Turn”) Skyline Windows 1200 Series Fixed & Fixed 90° corners
  • Products Custom Gate Precast panels
For the facade, COOKFOX opted for precast concrete panels for both stylistic and performative decisions. "We fine-tuned the shape for each solar exposure to create a self-shading performative facade that decreases solar heat gain during the summer months," said COOKFOX senior associate Arno Adkins. "We were also very inspired by the history of the sugar refinery and the physical characteristics of sugar; shape, color, shadow, and reflectivity. We designed the precast around these characteristics to create a site-specific design that connects to the history of the place." The result is a collection of deep-set modules with chamfered mullions and spandrels that slightly variate according to elevation and function as an intended shading device. The architectural studio collaborated closely with manufacturer Gate Precast to develop the dimensions and molds for the concrete panels. Both teams shared an individual BIM model in Revit, facilitating constant dialogue and the advanced customization of the panels. "Without the ability to make realtime modifications in the architect's office and then share those changes with the fabrication team instantly, the process of design and detailing would have taken several more months to complete thus delaying production and delivery on-site," said Gate Precast. "Coordination with the architecture team on this project was the only way any of this was possible." The bulk of residential precast modules are 9'-9" tall by 5'-9", while those found at the podium and commercial tower are, for the most part, 12'-5" by 10'-0". Manufacturing of the panels occurred at Gate Precast's facilities in Kentucky and North Carolina, where the use of 3D-printed molds allowed nearly 200 castings per piece—typically a standard mold can only be used up to three or four times. After an acid wash and polish, the panels were outfitted with their window systems and glazing. Then came the journey hundreds of miles north to Williamsburg, where the panels were craned into position and fastened to the floor slab with a series of steel anchors connected to six steel embeds cast into the concrete panels.  
Placeholder Alt Text

BIG Cove Coming

BIG and James Corner Field Operations reveal Williamsburg’s newest blockbuster towers
Continuing the work done slightly south at Domino Park, today developer Two Trees revealed their newest addition to the Williamsburg, Brooklyn, waterfront. River Street will bring a pair of sloping towers designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and a circular esplanade, cove, beach, boat launch and more, courtesy of James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) to the East River end of Metropolitan Avenue. Two Trees described the project as not replicating the same park-on-a-pier typology as Domino Park but instead will slope to meet the water. Thanks to the existing concrete caissons already adjacent to the site at 87 and 105 River Street, BIG and JCFO have been able to propose building into the East River to create a total of six acres of public space. The BIG-designed towers, from the renderings, will loom over the surrounding neighborhood and dwarf the towers at the Domino Sugar Factory complex next door. Totaling 1.2 million square feet across both buildings, the towers will contain 750 market-rate apartment units, 250 affordable units, 47,000 square feet carved out for a new YMCA (with pool), 30,000 square feet for local retail, and 57,000 square feet of office space. An additional 5,000 square feet will be set aside at ground level for a series of community kiosks, which will likely contain amenities for parkgoers and kayakers. Although the towers will be tall—one will top out at 600 feet, and the other at 650 feet—BIG has attempted to soften their impact by “pinching,” pulling, and spreading out the massing at the base. The towers’ stature will have the added effect of framing the Manhattan skyline for those looking down Metropolitan, and Bjarke Ingels claimed that their triangular footprint was designed as a “funnel” for those looking to reach the shore. River Street’s most striking feature, at least when viewed from above, will be the circular esplanade and on-river landscaping mentioned earlier. Instead of lifting the shoreline bulkhead to protect from storm surges as is typical for a coastal development, JCFO wants to implement a series of berms and soft edges to both protect River Street from flooding and increase access to the river. That will include a new public beach (JCFO senior principle Lisa Switkin noted that New York’s waterways are the cleanest they’ve been in a century), nature trails, plenty of tidal basins, both saltwater and freshwater marshlands, an amphitheater, outdoor classroom, and more. As is fitting for the designers selected by Two Trees, the team claims that River Street borrows from the Netherlands model of “embracing the river” rather than trying to block it out. Accordingly, Ingels claimed that the River Street towers would be able to weather a 500-year-storm surge, thanks to the way the landscape would be able to break up the energy of incoming waves and the placement of the towers’ mechanicals on higher levels. When asked about a timeline, Two Trees was confident that they would be able to have River Street approved in the next two years under the current City Council administration, although the project will still need to undergo the mandatory seven-month Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP). After the ULURP concludes, it should take another five years for River Street to be fully built out. The park and a single tower will be built in the first phase, and the second tower would come afterward. However, according to Switkin, because the project will build on to the East River, they will also need a joint permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Though, Switkin also noted, with the passage of the Living Shorelines Act (H.R.3115) in the House of Representatives earlier this week, federal momentum is building to enable exactly these types of projects. River Street will be entirely privately funded and maintained by Two Trees, similar to Domino Sugar Factory.
Placeholder Alt Text

Timber Takeover

Hacker Architects reveals the U.S.'s next largest mass timber office building, in San Francisco
San Francisco is readying itself to house the largest mass timber office building in the United States as part of a 28-acre development on its historic Pier 70. Spearheaded by Brookfield Properties, the six-story, 310,000-square-foot structure will be among the first new buildings, completed over a 10- to- 15-year timeline, to anchor the city's newest waterfront destination.  Designed by Hacker Architects, the 85-foot-tall office building will feature cross-laminated timber (CLT) floor slabs, glulam columns and beams, steel lateral seismic framing, and metal cladding. The Portland-based studio, with its extensive experience in designing wood-heavy projects, is helping Brookfield bring Pier 70 into the 21st century of eco-friendly architecture.  “The Pier 70 office building will make a statement about how mass timber technologies are pushing design and construction towards environmentally sustainable design solutions that better connect the workplace to the natural environment,” said Hacker principal Corey Martin in a statement.  Located along the city’s southern waterfront in the neighborhood of Potrero Point, Pier 70 was once bustling with industrial innovation, serving as home to several steel and ironworks companies, a shipbuilding group, and a small boat builder over its 100-year history. The area was slated for redevelopment over five years ago, and the core historic structures that have long sat on the pier were recently rehabilitated. Last year, Brookfield started work to clean up the site and prep for new construction, hiring Hacker first to envision the timber office space. One of the integral parts of its design, according to Hacker, will be the structure’s airy interior. By mixing up the ceiling heights, adding windows ranging from 14- to 28-feet high, and using 27-inch exposed wood beams, tenants will have access to ample sunlight and feel the warmth of the all-wood construction throughout the day.  The exterior of the project is meant to be much darker in tone than what’s found on the inside and will feature metal paneling that mimics raw weathering steel in reference to Pier 70’s shipbuilding past. Hacker will chamfer the panels and arrange them in alternating directions on each floor, allowing light to reflect off of them in various ways and create a sense of movement across the facade. Above the lobby level, the architecture will cantilever slightly at the corners, adding further motion to the space while living green walls will add to the sense of connection with nature. So far, the office structure is the only project on the Pier 70 site that’s been publicly projected to include mass timber. Little is known about the other upcoming buildings, except that Hacker and Brookfield will again partner to build it out and that sustainable construction is a top priority. Our decision to use mass timber is inspired by the neighborhood’s culture of creativity, sustainability, and strong opinions,” said Cutter MacLeod, the senior manager of development at Brookfield Properties. “By applying emerging technologies and innovative designs to the structures we’re building here, we are reinforcing that Pier 70 will be a thriving place for creative industries in San Francisco.” Over 2,000 residential units (including affordable housing) and 1.75-million-square-feet of commercial space will be built out in the $3.5 billion megaproject, along with nine acres of parks, playgrounds, and public space. Up to 90,000 square feet is slated to house arts-related nonprofits, while 60,000 square feet of the site will be used for local production and small-scale manufacturing.  San Francisco as a whole seems to be headed toward integrating more all-wood buildings. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that 1 De Haro, by Perkins + Will and Pfau Long Architecture and set to open in 2020, will be the city’s first mass timber project. At the nearby California College of the Arts, Studio Gang is designing a trio of CLT pavilions as well. Design approvals for the Pier 70 timber office building are currently underway. Construction is expected to start this spring and phase 1 of the entire site is expected to open in 2022.