All posts in Architecture

Placeholder Alt Text

Spatial Contract

Hashim Sarkis announces the 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale theme
How will we live together? That’s the seemingly simple, yet poignant, question posed by Hashim Sarkis, dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning and curator of the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, and also the title of the show set to start next May. Though it’s nearly a year away, Sarkis announced that it’s time for architects to think about their role in creating a new, collective "spatial contract"—one that is inclusive and addresses two of the most pressing needs in both advanced and emerging economies today: social housing and urban connectivity.  “We need a new spatial contract,” Sarkis said in a statement. “In the context of widening political divides and growing economic inequalities, we call on architects to imagine spaces in which we can generously live together: together as human beings who, despite our increasing individuality, yearn to connect with one another and with other species across digital and real space; together as new households looking for more diverse and dignified spaces for inhabitation…and together as a planet facing crisis that require global action for us to continue living at all.” In order to build societies where we can successfully live together, according to Sarkis, architects need to engage with and enlist the expertise of those outside the design profession, such as artists, politicians, builders, social scientists, and journalists. Everyday citizens are also key to designing spaces that are truly for all people. National participants of the 2020 Biennale will be asked to introduce creative solutions made in tandem with these other stakeholders. Architects will act as both a “cordial convener and custodian of the spatial contract” in the execution of these projects, as well as in the real world.  Paolo Baratta, president of the Venice Architecture Biennale, said this way of thinking and of curating the summer design event has been slowly building over the last few years. “The Biennale Architettura 2018 has brought our attention on free space,” he said, “an essential element of our living that has been omitted in so many recent developments. With Hashim Sarkis we will try to expand our horizon to all these issues raised by our living together. Living together means first and foremost awareness of [the] potential crisis and old and new problems that do not get appropriate solutions, nor often appropriate attention, in the spontaneous development of our economies and societies and that require enhanced attention and an extensive and courageous planning capacity.” The purpose of the biennale is to help unify contributing countries around the new spatial contract charged by Sarkis. Since 2020 is considered by some to be a milestone year, it’s imperative, said Sarkis, that architects look to the collective imagination of leaders across every profession to prepare for the occasion.  Starting May 23rd, 2020, the National Participants of the biennale will showcase their own work in the individual Pavilions located at the Giardini and the Arsenale. A series of Collateral Events, presented by international institutions, will also be held in Venice alongside the exhibition through November 29, 2020. Interestingly enough, no information on what the U.S. will be contributing in 2020 has been released as of yet. While the design team for the American Pavilion has, in the past, been chosen in May of the year before the Biennale, the State Department waited until September 2017 to release their choice for the 16th Biennale.
Placeholder Alt Text

Stranger Sites

For season three of Stranger Things, they built an entire mall
The angular mid-80s architecture of a derelict shopping center in Duluth, Georgia, has garnered fame in recent weeks after the release of the third season of Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things. Avid fans of the show may recognize that Gwinnett Place Mall—an actual mall located in a suburb of Atlanta, was transformed as the setting for major moments that take place in Hawkins, Indiana’s newest attraction: The Starcourt Mall.  Production designer Chris Trujillo spoke with The L.A. Times about the search and intense-build out for Starcourt Mall, as well as why the writing team chose to center the plot on the all-too-familiar, small-town-gets-big-mall storyline. In the interview, he said it made sense to showcase how Hawkins was changing with the introduction of the mega-shopping center, right alongside how the main characters were themselves changing. No longer little kids who saved the world, everyone was growing up facing their own relationship and materialist concerns. Much of teenage life in Midwestern America at that time was spent at the mall.  After investigating a dozen structures built from 1984-85, the production team settled on Gwinnett Place Mall, a 1.3 million-square-foot space that, during its first 16 years of operation, attracted people from all over Georgia as well as neighboring South Carolina. By 2001, with the opening of both the Mall of Georgia and Sugarloaf Mills, the space began its slow descent into obscurity. Now, thanks to the production team’s massive retrofit—gutting and rebuilding nearly 40 stores and restaurants—as well as a slew of tweets from curious fans that tried to sneak a peak of the set last year, the mall has experienced a meteoric rise in popularity.  According to Trujillo, most of the filming inside the 34-year-old mall took place around its food court, a gem of 1984-era interior architecture with a soaring atrium and vaulted geometric ceilings. It was the showpiece of the mall, he told the L.A. Times. But more than that, the large, two-story interior gave way to the “dynamic camerawork” that the Duffer brothers are famous for.  In an effort to make the Gwinnett Place Mall truly feel like a time warp set specifically for the horror sci-fi series, the production team not only recreated the facades of iconic retail spaces with all period-appropriate signage and window displays, but in some cases, the entire stores themselves were redone. From Orange Julius to the Gap, Radio Shack, and JC Penny, the brief moments these places popped up on screen helped paint an authentic picture of 1980s consumerism. One of the most-filmed spots within Starcourt Mall was Scoops Ahoy, the made-up ice cream shop where Steven Harrington works. Trujillo called that project, which was built entirely from scratch, “our special little baby.” Spoilers ahead: In that ice cream shop is where Steve, Dustin, and newcomer Robin decode secrete Russian messages that lead them to discover there’s a world-ending operation taking place beneath their feet—the portal to the Upside Down is being reopened. That importance to the overarching plot helps explain why so much attention was paid to the layout of the mall. Apart from a scrapbook found on location with old images of the Gwinnett Place Mall from its heyday, the inspiration for the build-out came from the memories of staffers on the production and decoration teams. Most people on the team's leadership grew up in the 80s and 90s and made decisions for Starcourt based on what they remember it felt like to be in those spaces as a kid.  “There is a homogeneity to the architecture of malls,” Trujillo told the L.A. Times. “They’re all calibrated to be similar spaces. We had to be somewhat specific about the regionality, but I definitely brought a lot of my childhood and teenage memories of hanging out and working in malls.” Though the set is closed to the public and is already being dismantled, according to one reporter who chronicled his visit for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), that hasn’t stopped fans from trying to take photos of the interior through fences. As a focal point of “Stranger Things 3,” Gwinnett Place Mall will forever live on in memories of fans forever, despite its soon-to-be demolition. The AJC reported in February that a sports stadium developer plans to build a mixed-use complex with a 20,000-seat cricket arena on the site.
Placeholder Alt Text

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.
Placeholder Alt Text

No Flower Power

London's mayor blocks Foster + Partners' Tulip tower
London mayor Sadiq Khan has today dismissed plans for the so-called "Tulip Tower" designed by Foster + Partners, describing the building as "unwelcoming" and "poorly designed." The news signals a U-turn by authorities who had so far given the project the green light through planning, with the full go-ahead having been granted on April 2. Chris Hayward, chairman of the City of London planning committee had then called the tower a "truly unique visitor attraction." “One of my key objectives ... has been to enable the continued transformation of the City of London into a place which welcomes members of the public on weekends as during the week,” he added. Despite this, the Tulip had come up against ardent opposition. “This building, a lift shaft with a bulge on top, would damage the very thing its developers claim they will deliver – tourism and views of London’s extraordinary heritage," Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England told The Guardian in April. “The setting of the Tower of London, a symbol of the city not just to millions of Londoners but to the whole world and one of our most visited places, will be harmed. It has already been damaged by the Walkie Talkie and it would be a great shame if that mistake was repeated.” Furthermore, criticism was also aimed at Foster + Partners for the tower in the wake of the firm officially declaring a climate emergency (along with more than 500 practices.) "What better statement of action could there be than if Foster + Partners withdrew its involvement from that most grotesque fuck-you to a sustainable future, The Tulip?" argued Will Jennings in the Architects' Journal. Mayor Khan appears to have headed these warnings, and today a mayoral spokesperson issued the following statement: “The Mayor has a number of serious concerns with this application and having studied it in detail has refused permission for a scheme that he believes would result in very limited public benefit. In particular, he believes that the design is of insufficient quality for such a prominent location, and that the tower would result in harm to London’s skyline and impact views of the nearby Tower of London World Heritage Site. The proposals would also result in an unwelcoming, poorly-designed public space at street level.” If built as designed, the Tulip was set to be 984 feet tall and boast an observation deck offering visitors 360-degree views of London. Its steel-framed bubble-like tip would have also comprised a gondola system, with patrons riding glass pods across the facade akin to a Ferris wheel. In response to this article's original publication, a representative for the Tulip's project team reached out with the following comment: “The Tulip Project team are disappointed by The Mayor of London’s decision to direct refusal of planning permission, particularly as The Tulip will generate immediate and longer-term socio-economic benefits to London and the UK as a whole. We will now take time to consider potential next steps for The Tulip Project.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Cambridge Car Culture

French 2D enlivens a Cambridge parking garage with a graphic-printed mesh facade
facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
The rapid development of urban areas across the country is leading to the reappraisal of the commonly found, and often maligned, parking garage. Boston-based architectural practice French 2D has joined this trend by invigorating a drab parking garage using a mesh facade with dynamic graphics intended to serve as a large-scale artistic canvas as well as a functional enclosure. The design of the parking garage’s facade was intended to reference the competing architectural scales and functions of the surrounding Kendall Square. The neighborhood, separated from downtown Boston by the Charles River, is defined by newly built tech hubs, residential buildings, and a fading industrial heritage. For the design team, the primary challenge and objective of the project were to break up the monolithic scale of the existing garage—it is eight stories and measures a whopping 350,000 square feet.
  • Facade Manufacturer Facid North America Piedmont Plastics McNichols
  • Architect French 2D
  • Facade Installer & Consultant Design Communications, Ltd.
  • Location Cambridge, MA
  • Date of Completion May 2019
  • System Facid 65 System
  • Products PSG SupraFLEX Breeze Coated Mesh McNichols Perforated 1” Round, powder coated aluminum sheet
“To address this we played with the perception of large scale figures and patterns at drastically different distances, as well as the fidelity of printing to desired visual contrast,” said French 2D principals Jenny and Anda French. “Full-scale mock-up panels were hung on site for review by the design team and city officials, allowing for adjustment of the graphics files to ensure that the image was high contrast enough to compete with three-dimensional building facades.” How does the artwork conform to these different scales? The graphics are effectively divided into three separate categories; skyline, street, and reveal views. The pattern across the garage's 25,000-square-foot facade canvas is relatively constant and defined by rectangular and triangular forms that are linked by diagonal strands of shade, evoking the shadows cast across facades with material depth. From the farthest vantage points, defined as southwest Binney Street and Fulkerson, the graphics are oversized, and, in a certain sense resemble the boxy massing of post-war structures. Shifting to the street reveals views of the enclosure as the gain of the pattern increases in density, leading to a subsequent freneticism in the shading. In daylight, the exterior of the garage remains opaque, while the significant density of perforations allows for outward views and natural, passive ventilation—the garage itself is not outfitted with any form of mechanical ventilation. Owing to the hidden aluminum tension frame produced by Facid North America, the mesh enclosure remain remarkably taut with minimal gaps between individual panels. The result is a semi-continuous surface covered with significant openings that reveal the concrete-and-steel structure below. For the project's official photography, the French sisters acted as drawing scale figures with custom dresses fitted with a rendition of the building's facade pattern—in effect forming a fourth category to the graphic design's scales.
   
   
Placeholder Alt Text

Multiple Personalities

Amherst's New Science Center outperforms with a facade material quintet
facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
In October 2018, Amherst College opened the New Science Center on its historic Massachusetts campus. The new academic building, which replaced an aging science center that was failing to keep up with its contemporary academic needs, is a six-story structure offering a home for six different science departments. Designed by the Boston-based architectural practice Payette with aggressive energy targets in mind, the enclosure is wrapped in a quintet of materials; glass, brick, concrete, weathered steel, and metal composite.
  • Facade Manufacturer Vitro Zahner TAKTL Alcotex Petersen
  • Architect Payette
  • Facade Installer Novum Structures R&R Window Zahner Manganaro Costa Brothers Masonry
  • Facade Consultant Studio NYL Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
  • Structural Engineer LeMessurier
  • Location Amherst, MA
  • Date of Completion October 2018
  • System Novum Structures Custom-Fabricated Curtain Wall Schüco FW 60+.SI Kawneer System 2000
  • Products Vitro Solarban 72 & 60 Vitro Starphire TAKTL Rough 1 Finish. Custom Graphite Alcotex 4mm Panel Solanum Preweathered Weathering Steel Petersen Tegl Kolumba K96
During the design process, Payette paid particular focus on how to minimize thermal bridging between the myriad facade components. "The brick masonry angles are held off the face of the building wall to permit insulation to run continuous," said the design team, "and Teflon spacers were utilized in the support of exterior weathering steel screen. The structure of the roof overhang and canopies are thermally broken to minimize heat transfer at those locations as well." The 251,000-square-foot project is located on the eastern border of the Amherst campus, its form primarily consisting of a large rectangular volume running on a north-south axis, with three fingers protruding to the west. This main rectangular volume is home to the structure's primary gathering space, The Commons. From the west, the circulation paths and spaces within The Commons possess near-complete visibility due to a colossal structural triple-glazed silicone curtainwall. To reduce UV exposure, the insulated glass units were treated with two different low-E coatings, Vitro Solarban 60 & 72, to achieve a system U-Value of .25 while maintaining a visible light transmittance of 56 percent. A series of sawtooth skylights is located atop the primary rectangular volume and serves two functions: further illumination of the interior and structural support for the glass curtainwall. The steel roof structure is cantilevered from the concrete core, and in turn, hangs the glass curtain wall. According to the design team, "the columns supporting the glass wall are nearly 40 feet removed from the curtain wall, supporting a load of nearly 10,000 pounds per mullion in addition to the dead, snow, wind and seismic loads." For the eastern elevation of the structure, which faces the campus boundary on East Drive and is visible from town, the envelope switches over to a more traditional brick facade. The bricks produced by Danish-manufacturer Petersen Tegl are long and flat in dimension, approximately measuring 20.8 inches by 4.3 inches by 1.5 inches. Their finish is irregular and resembles grayish rough ashlar. The three protruding wings of the New Science Center are all three stories in height and clad in a screen of weathered steel produced by Zahner. Along the complex's forecourts, the perforated weathered steel panels face narrow side out, while the western elevations are fully shrouded. The weathered steel is backed by narrow glass-and-composite-metal panels. The project, which has received numerous accolades for its environmental performance, will be presented by Payette Principal and Director of Building Science Andrea Love at Facades+ Minneapolis on July 24.  
Placeholder Alt Text

Tatooine Vernacular

Kanye West is designing Star Wars–themed affordable housing
Not content with a sneaker empire, Kanye West has entered the affordable housing game with structures straight out of Star Wars. In a profile of the rapper-producer, designer, and business mogul, Forbes writer Zack O'Malley Greenburg described how West drove him to a wooded area near his home in Calabasas, California, to show him prototypes for igloo-like modular housing units that the author compared to what was found on Tatooine, Star Wars protagonist Luke Skywalker's home planet. While West didn't provide images of the top-secret structures, in the original Star Wars, Tatooine is a desert planet populated by humans and other settlers who live in groups of adobe huts with rounded roofs. In actuality, the movie was shot in the deserts of Tunisia, where George Lucas took inspiration from the country's vernacular architecture to build the structures and vehicles of Tatooine. West's minimalist concept models—there were three of them in the woods—will we deployed as low-income housing if the project moves forward. According to the article, West is hoping to lure deep-pocketed investors from San Francisco to bankroll construction but hasn't managed to land any yet. According to Greenburg, the homes resemble "the skeletons of wooden spaceships ... each oblong and dozens of feet tall." West said they could be dwelled in at-grade or submerged in the earth and daylit from up top. This isn't West's first foray into architecture or affordable housing design, and marks a notable departure from what he's shown in the past. Last year, he founded his own architecture studio, Yeezy Home (Yeezy is West's pseudonym), and soon after West and four collaborators revealed renderings of concrete-paneled affordable housing around a courtyard. The stark interiors are similar to the ones in the celebrity's own California home, designed in collaboration with Axel Vervoordt.    
Placeholder Alt Text

Go For The (Rhein)gold

ODA's towering Rheingold complex is a self-contained village
In Bushwick, Brooklyn, on the site of the former Rheingold Brewery, New York-based ODA has designed a mammoth apartment building that takes up an entire city block, totaling nearly 500,000 square feet. The seven-story, 500-unit building features two staggered volumes in which a core of dark gray corrugated metal seems to rise up out of a lighter gray shell, with the apartment units arranged around two internal courtyards. One of the complex’s defining elements is its ombré-hued grid of recessed windows and balconies. This cascading arrangement of color and form gives the facade a level of depth and texture while reducing the building’s vertical presence at the street level and allowing more light to reach the interior courtyards. “Due to the repetitiveness of the grid, we eroded it to create this form, adding and subtracting areas,” said Francesco Asaro, project manager at ODA. The interlocking patterns are also subtle nods to the imperfections of the site since some corners don’t meet at 90-degree angles. Three window and door systems from Reynaers Aluminum are used in the project. For the residential windows and balconies, the custom-extruded aluminum frames of Reynaers’s SlimLine 38 system were fitted with 1-1/16 insulated glass by manufacturer Blue Star Glass and selected in four hues that ranged from red to yellow and arranged in an interlocking pattern. The Reynaers window system meets the sound transmission requirements for the area and was preferred by the project’s window installers, said Asaro. Since nearly every unit has a balcony, it was also important for the window system to be well-insulated and energy-efficient. The SL 38 is engineered with contiguous mullions to be able to hold multiple panes of glass within a single frame and tilts open for easy maintenance. The Rheingold boasts numerous amenities, including 70,000 square feet of outdoor space, art studios, a darkroom, and a theater. The amenity spaces of the building feature a fixed-glass Reynaers Concept System 77 (CS 77) of windows and doors framed in a gray hue, while the storefront windows and facades in the building’s commercial spaces relied on the heavier-duty Concept Wall 50 (CW 50) system, which can hold up to 1,500 pounds of glass panes. Location: Brooklyn, NY Architect: ODA Interior designer: Durukan Design Landscape architect: Gunn Landscape Architecture Facade consultants: Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc. Structural engineer: Titan Engineers PC MEP engineer: MG Engineering D.P.C. Geotechnical engineer: URS Corporation (now AECOM) Windows and doors: Reynaers Aluminum Glass manufacturer: Blue Star Glass Composite facade panels: Petrarch Panels Corrugated metal facade panels: United Panel Technologies
Placeholder Alt Text

Buy Now Don't Wei-t

The only house designed by Ai Weiwei is for sale
The only residence designed by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei is for sale. The 4,000-square-foot complex in Ancram, New York, is about two hours north of New York City by car, and it was commissioned by a couple who loved the artist's work. In collaboration with Basel, Switzerland–based HHF Architects, Weiwei delivered the main house in 2006 and a slingshot-shaped guest house two years later. The main residence is clad in corrugated iron, and sports three bedrooms and three bathrooms, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows and a fireplace of the same height. The program is divided between four timber-frame boxes of equal size, but two staircases and ceilings of different heights disrupt the boxes' rigidity and promote interior fluidity. Once can find the requisite pool and fancy appliances (Boffi in the kitchen, for example). The guest house, meanwhile, is clad in Cor-ten steel and features two bedrooms and two bathrooms slotted into its curving form. White angled wall dividers break up the timber-paneled living spaces and create plenty of space for art displays. Each of the Y-shaped structure's "poles" offers a different view of the property, which covers 37 hilltop acres. According to SFgate.com, the original owners sold the house in 2013 because they didn't visit it enough. The home's current owners are selling and moving overseas. Interested buyers have to pony up the big bucks: The house is on the market for $5.25 million.
Placeholder Alt Text

Runner Up

SOM will join O'Hare expansion with two new $1.4 billion concourses
It’s official: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) has been selected to design two, $1.4 billion satellite buildings at O’Hare International Airport to pair with Studio Gang’s plan for a new Terminal 2. As the runner up in the competition to secure the site’s new Global Terminal project, the veteran, Chicago-based firm will still be able to cement their vision within O’Hare’s upcoming mega-expansion with their connecting concourses spanning a total of 1.2 million square feet. Slated to break ground in 2022, the structures will be built west of Terminal 2 and link to it via underground tunnels. It’s not completely clear yet what SOM’s design will entail, since Chicago’s Department of Aviation, which announced the news this week, didn’t release any additional design renderings. It is expected, however, that SOM’s buildings will match the tone and palette chosen by Studio ORD Joint Venture Partners (the multi-pronged team led by Studio Gang) for the core concourse. This mean’s SOM’s original proposal, which was designed in tandem with Ross Barney Architects and Arup, and inspired by the airport’s original name, Orchard Field, likely won’t be fully realized. Despite this, the tall glass walls and nature-infused interior in the firm’s initial competition entry might still be integrated somehow into the light-filled and timber-clad architecture of Terminal 2. Jeane Gang said in a statement that all collaborating firms will work together to make a space that “captures the unique culture of Chicago.” Of the other three firms who were shortlisted in the competition, SOM’s appeared to be the most complimentary to Studio ORD’s design. While Terminal 2 is expected to be a rather dramatic piece of architecture with an airy, timber-clad interior, the satellite structures might be as well, albeit smaller and thinner. The proposals by the losing group of finalists, Santiago Calatrava, Foster + Partners, and Fentress Architects, shared these similar qualities but they didn’t the advantage of being a hometown studio.  Expected to be complete by 2026, the transformational Global Terminal project is part of former mayor Rahm Emanual’s O’Hare 21 initiative, a push to modernize the 75-year-old O'Hare International Airport and upgrade its passenger experience and commercial offerings. By replacing the current Terminal 2 with the new $8.5 billion spaces by Studio ORD and SOM, the airport will nearly double in size from 5.5 million square feet to 8.9 million square feet. 
Placeholder Alt Text

Depot d'Art

Inside MVRDV’s radically accessible Rotterdam museum and storage hub
In the heart of Rotterdam’s central museum campus, a mirrored vessel designed by the hometown MVRDV is currently under construction to house the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s collection of approximately 151,000 artworks. Coined the “Depot,” the building will feature over 16,000 square feet of space and serve as the world’s first art storage facility that also offers access to the museum’s entire collection without the mediation of a curator. Located on the northern edge of Rotterdam’s Museumpark (realized by OMA with Yves Brunier in 1994), the building aims to be less visible from the exterior and instead offer more public access to the interior. With the intent of increasing Museumpark’s attractiveness as an international art complex, the Depot is roughly 130 feet tall and will be completely clad in mirrored panels once complete. A public route zigzags through the building, where 99 percent of the collection will be on display, among seven different climatic zones that will facilitate ideal conditions for art storage, offices, and the public. The rooftop terrace will offer a view over the city and harbor 78 planted trees, a sculpture garden, exhibition space, and a restaurant. The museum will also offer commercial storage spaces rented to private collectors, corporate collections, and other museums. If the renters so choose, these spaces may also be publicly accessible. The Depot represents a new typology that museums can learn from. The existing Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen building has been in desperate need for renovations, related mostly to its outdated electronic and climate-control systems and asbestos remediation. The motivation for the project was to replace the museum’s current storage facilities, which are too small, unsafe, and obsolete. However, even after the renovation of the museum buildings, an external storage facility was still necessary. The total investment cost of the project is approximately $96.5 million and was funded through a public-private initiative between the City of Rotterdam (which owns the majority of the collection), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, and the De Verre Bergen Foundation. The museum is continuing to fundraise among sponsors and donors; one initiative includes a scheme for "adopting" one of the mirrored panels. The building should be completed at the beginning of 2020 with an official opening in 2021. Once finished, the build must sit empty in the intervening year to allow for drying time, calibration of the climate control systems, and artwork installation.
Placeholder Alt Text

Shake It Up

Why doesn't the U.S. design buildings to survive earthquakes?
Earthquakes have been in the news lately with increasing regularity: Southern California recently experienced a July 4th quake registering 6.4 on the Richter scale followed by one just a day later at 7.1. It's predicted that within the week there's an 11 percent chance that a major quake could follow, and, of course, there's the looming specter of the so-called Big One. But despite the relative frequency of seismic activity on the West coast and in other parts of the United States, in general, the U.S. lags behind other earthquake-prone countries, especially Japan, in terms of earthquake readiness. A recent New York Times investigation asked why, when buildings can be designed to stand up to earthquakes, the United States has so few of them. Though there are notable exceptions—like older retrofits such as Los Angeles’s city hall, and luxurious new construction like Apple’s Foster + Partners-designed headquarters, a ring that floats on base isolators rather than being fixed to a traditional foundation—most buildings in the States feature concrete cores, relatively un-rigid construction, and no seismic shock absorbers or isolation systems. Even those that do, the Times reports, are of varying quality of construction, with many failing basic preparedness tests. Simply put, while Japanese buildings are, in general, designed to sway in an earthquake and minimize damage (and use a steel grid to make up their core), American buildings are designed primarily to fail and collapse in a way that will hopefully minimize loss of life. This can mostly be chalked up to not only weak regulations, but to economics. It’s more costly to build an earthquake-ready building, though obviously only in the short run. A federal study demonstrated that rebuilding after a quake in urban centers will cost billions of dollars, and is four times as expensive as simply building a structure that can stand up to an earthquake in the first place. However, with lax laws and a real estate and development market that prioritizes short term ownership and thinking, building owners and developers remain wary of spending the extra cash up front; estimated to only add approximately 13–15 percent in cost in a seven-story building, according to the Japanese construction company Nice Corporation. Though, per the Times, engineer Ian Aiken says that some systems “can cost as little as 5% more.” Tokyo, which experiences more than 1,000 seismic events each year, is also anticipating its own big quake in the next 30 years, a follow up to the devastating 1923 earthquake. while predictions of the potential damage remain calamitous, there is perhaps no city more ready to take the hit. Not only are high rises, skyscrapers, and smaller buildings all designed to withstand significant seismic activity, but, as The Guardian reports, “parks feature hidden emergency toilets and benches that turn into cooking stoves, and the city has the world’s largest fire brigade, specifically trained to prevent the kind of flash blazes that spread after earthquakes.” The city is not only a world population and business center, but also a major tourist destination, something that's likely to become only more true with events like the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. But even new construction for the Olympics is getting the high tech treatment. Seismic isolation bearings are being placed inside the new Tokyo Aquatics Center and the Ariake Arena, which will be home to Olympic volleyball and wheelchair basketball games. The aquatics center and arena are using Bridgestone Seismic Isolation Systems, an update to older methods that relied on increasing the rigidity of buildings or adding additional framing. Instead of adding greater rigidity, base isolation systems use rubber bearings ranging in size between approximately 23 inches and 70 inches to allow structures to sway slowly and cause only minor disturbances, if any at all, on the floors above, instead of allowing the whole structure to shake violently. Similar such bearings can be found in buildings like Tokyo Station and Los Angeles's City Hall. While the isolators are often placed in the foundations of buildings, for the new arenas, they’ve been located in the roofs, a common approach for buildings with large open spaces that helps decrease the stress on the roof’s support elements. Still, all the technology in the world only goes so far if the community isn’t prepared. As Tokyo-based disaster preparedness specialist Ronin Takashi Lewis told The Guardian, even all this tech, “If you look around the Tokyo skyscrapers it’s incredible how advanced a lot of technology here is, especially seismic resistance – but my concern is preparedness at the community and individual level.” As per usual, technology alone won’t save us. Still, hopefully the United States can learn from Tokyo and invest in resilient buildings for safer cities and communities.