The San Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAF) has announced the lineup for its annual Open House San Diego (OHSD), an architecture and urban design extravaganza scheduled to take place March 23 and 24.
The free festival will open up over 100 architecturally-significant locations across San Diego for building and history enthusiasts to explore. The list of buildings includes some of the city’s newest architectural works as well as several of its most historic sites, including Balboa Park, Barrio Logan, and some in the city’s bustling downtown area. This year, the event will spread to the northern suburb of La Jolla, home to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and many historic works by Irving Gill, among others.
In a press release, OHSD founder Susanne Friestedt said, “We expect thousands of San Diegans and out of town visitors, including families and architecture and design students interested in learning about the design, history, and development of our city.” She added, “Last year, more than 7,500 visits were tallied at 83 sites. This year we anticipate at least 10,000 site visit visits. 350 trained volunteers will be on hand to assist visitors.”
One highlight in the lineup includes the recently-completed Block D Makers Quarter, a six-story creative office hub designed by BNIM that strives for high-impact sustainability. The LEED Platinum and net-zero structure is wrapped in louvered shades and will anchor a new creative quarter in downtown San Diego.Miller Hull’s The Wharf at Point Loma, America’s Cup Harbor project, a finger-like arrangement of shops and public spaces, will also open to the public. With the structure, the architects have brought a commercial and social node to San Diego’s waterfront area.
Other sites include the Salk Institute by Louis Kahn in La Jolla, the Atmosphere apartments in Downtown San Diego designed by Joseph Wong Design Associates, and the Jacobs Music Center designed by Gensler.
See the OHSD website for more information and a full list of participating sites.
The ground floor of New York's sprawling $250 million Saks Fifth Avenue flagship renovation is complete, and OMA and Rem Koolhaas have designed a splashy, technicolored centerpiece for the midtown Manhattan shop.
The luxury department store has embarked on an ambitious reorganization ahead of competitors moving into New York City; as Bloombergnotes, both Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus are opening their first N.Y.C. locations in 2019.
Saks Fifth Avenue’s new ground floor is all about handbags. The previous first-floor tenants, the beauty and fine jewelry departments, have been moved upstairs. The Saks Store Planning and Design team and Gensler collaborated on the 53,000-square-foot first floor, installing custom terrazzo flooring from Italy, “experiential” handbag displays with appropriate signage, and wide, runway-inspired aisles.
The centerpiece of the new handbag department is the escalator, which changes color as shoppers ride between the lower and main floors, and up to the beauty department on the second floor. UUfie, one of the Architectural League's 2019 Emerging Voices, also used a dichroic effect for a department store escalator, in that case Paris's Printemps Haussmann Verticalé.
The second and third phases of the Saks renovation—the “vault,” which will showcase high-end jewelry, and the new menswear section—are both expected to open later this year.
Texas is adding more people per year than any other state in the country, and with nearly 8 million residents, the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area is the largest urban area in the state. On March 1, The Architect's Newspaper is bringing together architecture and development firms located within the metropolitan area for Facades+ Dallas, a fast-paced dialogue focusing on the region's tremendous growth and the projects reshaping it. Participants include 5G Studio Collaborative, CallisonRTKL, Harwood International, Merriman Anderson Architects, the CDC, L.A. Fuess Partners, Ibanez Shaw, Omniplan, DSGN Associates, Buchanan Architecture, Shipley Architects, Urban Edge Developers.
Lauren Cadieux, associate at 5G Studio Collaborative, and Michael Friebele, associate at CallisonRTKL, are co-chairing the conference.
In the lead up to Facades+ Dallas, AN sat down with Friebele to discuss trends within Dallas and CallisonRTKL's ongoing projects in the area and across the world.
The Architect's Newspaper: To begin with, what facade-led projects are CallisonRTKL up to in Dallas and Texas as a whole?Michael Friebele: We are an interesting office in that we have a long-standing local reach here in Dallas-Fort Worth but also a broad depth of work around the globe. We often find it most interesting for us to take the international experience and find ways to apply those lessons throughout our work back home and likewise in the other direction. The collaboration between offices across CallisonRTKL really makes this possible.
From a conceptual standpoint, our work on a vertical campus in Downtown Dallas took cues from many lessons we have learned abroad, from site response to contextual integration, and paired these attributes with an evolving corporate business model. Ultimately, the concept was shaped around an affordable housing project just to the east of the site, maintaining a view corridor through the gesture of a loop that ultimately became a symbol for the company’s programmatic model. It is one in a line of projects coming up in Texas that we are excited about.
From a facade standpoint, our hospitality group is working on a Grand Hyatt Hotel in Kuwait that is currently under construction. The facade concept of self-shading finds a balance between the harsh climate of the region and the demand for expansive views. The pitch results in the natural placement of photovoltaics with the underside of the bay providing a highly transparent opening with minimal direct solar heat gain. The same team recently completed the core and shell of the Maike Business Center and Grand Hyatt in Xi’an. Here, two towers were linked by a belt truss to limit lateral loads while serving as a critical program link between the hotel and office towers. The facade was a simple extruded, serrated form linked in the middle by a vertical screen that emphasizes the composition.
I am working currently on the design of two China-based projects with quite a range of scale between them. OCT Chengdu is on the larger side with a dominant facade facing a key convergence of traffic in the city. The facade plays into that movement with a series of fins that peel upward to reveal the activity of the mall behind, thus activating what is traditionally a hard face. We have been working further to optimize this system. This project is currently under construction and should be complete in a few years. On the other side of scale, we recently began work on an Audubon Center in Zhengzhou. The concept is about tying program and landscape together underneath an observation ring. We have been working with Thornton Tomasetti on realizing the ring as a completely unsupported element over the waterfront with full height curved glazing that reveals the public behind, as if the visitor were a part of the facade experience. The Zhengzhou project will start in construction in a few months and be complete by the middle of next year.
AN: What unique opportunities and challenges are present for architects and designers in Dallas?
In my opinion, the potential in Dallas is to be proactive rather than reactive toward challenging and evolving typologies but with that comes a certain degree of investment and risk. We can take lessons from two organizations that I believe have had the most impact upon the city in BC Workshop and Better Block. Both groups have been recognized for their innovative approaches to typologies and community engagement. The Cottages at Hickory Crossing is a noted example on the city’s south side.
An engagement of our value as architects and designers to all parties involved in a project, from developer to community, is key, but change will also depend upon us stepping out and trying something without permission. As Dallas further evolves, there is no better place to test and experiment, but we have yet to really commit to that, beyond few examples. In all, it is really getting back to our fundamentals of why we practice this profession and to search for its meaning once again.
AN: Which ongoing Dallas developments do you perceive to be the most exciting in terms of facade innovation and overall impact on the city?
MF: There have been some noted transformations in Downtown Dallas, from work by Architexas on the Joule Hotel, to Merriman Anderson’s work on the Statler Hilton, all the way to more recent conversions of 400 Record by Gensler. Each of these, among others, have defined in many respects the process of historical rehabilitation in Texas, but also have transformed the program in all cases. Almost overnight, there is a developed rhythm toward respecting the past and redefining the urban realm. The Statler and 1401 Elm represent the largest and most challenging cases of preservation in the city. Statler was many years in the making. Historical innovations during the 1950s proved quite challenging in the rehab of the building. The results of maintaining such a celebrated form and period in the rehab are nothing short of a feat. 1401 Elm is currently undergoing its makeover, with the marble currently off-site for rehab. It has stalled a few times during recent years but hopefully, it will become a major contributor once again.
Both projects are a glimpse into a city that is continually working to value its history more and more by the day. With our first panel, we hope to shed further light on this discussion.
Further information regarding Facades+ Dallas may be found here.
The images that you see here were captured on a worksite for the expansion of Film Forum, a place where people gather with a group of strangers to watch a story unfold —something that is increasingly unusual these days. They are a celebration of an ancient ritual married to a modern technology. The technology develops but the ritual decays.
What do these photographs say about watching movies? What do they recall and what do they suggest? How is it that beneath the formal pleasures of their design, their abstraction, and their use of color, they conjure something concrete about shared experience?
Like a lot of abstractions, and certainly like many of Jan Staller’s photographs, these pictures are not only about a surface but the materiality below the surface. In this case the materials are the brick and mortar of the theater itself and the steel and brittle celluloid of projectors, reels and filmstrips—objects that look now like sacraments of the earliest technology of the art form. They are evocative because they are tactile.
My first exposure to the movies was more sterile and electronic. It took place alone, in a dark room, late at night in front of a television set. In this respect, it was closer to the way that most people watch movies today. As I got older I went to movie theaters, spending hours of my youth in palaces called The Orpheum, The Lyric, and more prosaically (and appropriately), The Suburban World. There was something fundamentally different about going to a theater. The impact of the experience was magnified literally by the scale of its presentation and emotionally by the act of sharing it with a community. And just as importantly, by its appeal to the sensorium, something that most modern technology abjures. The theater was itself a machine, one that you entered, was turned on, and then would grind into action. Its constituent parts were hidden but somehow felt. That’s part of what these photographs evoke, but for me they also evoke memories of my early days as a film editor, when you felt the film in your hands and heard the clack of the sprockets as it ran through the machines.
But before waxing too nostalgic about the older ways of doing things, it may be useful to think about two movies that I saw for the first time at Film Forum. They were both by F. W. Murnau, a German filmmaker who came to Hollywood in 1926. The first, Sunrise, was made in 1927 and is certainly one of the greatest movies of the silent period. It was a huge success, and William Fox, the man who had brought Murnau to America and who was the producer of Sunrise, asked him to do another movie. In his youth, Murnau had been something of a gear head—he was fascinated by cameras and new technology. In the interim between Sunrise and his next film for Fox, The City Girl, sound had been introduced. The new technology was alien to Murnau as an older man. He couldn’t reconcile it with his taste or his process and The City Girl was made and released as a silent film with title cards instead of dialogue. Watching it now one wonders what it would have been like otherwise. A cautionary tale about aging out of your era.
The movies are wedded to technology, and for better or worse as the technology advances it changes not only how they’re made, but what we actually see and how we watch them. At a certain point resistance seems quaint and misguided. The opportunities in most cases outweigh the things we lose. The sensual pleasures of pre-digital machines are probably lost forever, but the act of gathering to watch stories, to be part of an audience, would be dangerous to lose. It is ancient and fundamental. So let’s celebrate one of the few institutions that continues to expand that opportunity. These pictures do, and they do something else—they get under the skin.
Detroit Cultivator, a six-acre urban plan developed between design firm Akoaki and the Oakland Avenue Urban Farm (OAUF), uses architecture and community organizing to help formalize a legacy urban farm in Detroit’s North End neighborhood.
The OAUF started with a single plot back in 2000, but over time has grown to encompass over 30 lots and 8 structures. Today, the farm administers mentorship programs, hosts classes, and offers community and art spaces alongside its agricultural activities. As Detroit has recovered from financial calamity following the Great Recession, development interests have taken to surrounding areas, threatening the farm’s future.
That’s where Detroit-based Akoaki saw an opportunity to apply its design expertise and institutional connections in innovative ways. The firm is helmed by Anya Sirota, associate professor of architecture at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, and her partner, designer Jean Louis Farges. Together with neighborhood residents, several university-based teams, and outside “impact investors” like The Kresge Foundation and ArtPlace America, Akoaki has helped design a way to ensure that the farm can become a permanent neighborhood fixture by setting out a long-term growth plan and designing site-based interventions that will promote economic and environmental sustainability.
Sirota said, “As architects, we became interested in the challenge of what architecture could do systemically to create a more sustainable operating system for the farm.”
The designers sought to discover how the farm could become an “autonomous cultural actor in a complicated urban scenario” that included unclear land ownership, development pressures from land speculators, and water access issues, among other concerns. Because some the farm’s components were located on blighted plots of land that the farm did not own outright, the first step for the project was to secure a path toward formalizing land ownership over these parcels to ensure that developers could not wipe away the farm’s gains. The designers worked with the University of Michigan Law School and a team of “moral investors” to flip the script on land speculators by studying and imitating the tactics they use to exploit Detroit’s land bank. The plan secured land ownership for little-to-no cost via a community land trust ownership model that will keep the land out of the hands of speculators.
Once the existential issue of land ownership had been laid to rest, the team worked with volunteers from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business to craft a business plan for the farm. The plan focuses the team’s efforts on two complementary goals: First, by prioritizing the farm’s productivity to create a stable source of income to fund operations and second, by designing the farm’s individual components to create a flexible one-stop-shop for nascent neighborhood entrepreneurs.
As a result, the farm is peppered with existing structures that will each eventually become activated as public amenities: A vacant big-box grocery store will be converted into a community gathering space containing a commercial kitchen with the help of a for-profit social venture, Fellow Citizen; an existing shoe shine parlor and former speakeasy will reopen as a multi-tenant commercial space and performance venue; several of the existing homes on the property will eventually house an herbarium, studio, and a design-focused library. New elements created for the site will include a commercial market hall as well as water-harvesting and power stations.
In creating their plan, the designers realized that they could not keep the farm purely agricultural, and they instead sought to formalize other existing uses through building and site interventions. The design embraces both the “urban” and “farming” aspects of OAUF, which, according to the architects, is what the community wants and needs most.
The project, according to Sirota, represents an “attempt to marry form-making with productive landscapes,” to sustain the social and economic impact of land that was once considered marginal in value.
Next, the designers are working on developing and prototyping water harvesting, solar generation, and insulation techniques to help feed into the long-term sustainability plan for the farm while fundraising efforts get underway.
C.F. Møller has designed a swath of social housing for an upcoming development called Blackwall Reach atop east London’s famous Robin Hood Gardens, a demolished series of brutalist blocks designed in the 1960s by renowned British architects, Alison and Peter Smithson. Initial plans released in 2017 indicated that the Danish firm would create a 330-unit complex featuring cross-laminated timber (CLT), a resourceful construction method that’s been gaining wide acceptance in the United Kingdom. But a recent government ban on combustible cladding materials has put plans for the engineered product in jeopardy, reported Architects' Journal.The new legislation, which was enacted late last December, was introduced after the Grenfell Tower fire of June 2017 in which one of West London’s tallest residential towers burned down, claiming 72 lives. After a pressure-filled campaign from Grenfell United, a group of survivors and victims’ families, the U.K.’s Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government introduced a new building safety code last summer that would prohibit the use of cladding materials holding a European fire rating of less than A1 or A2.Per the ruling, architects and developers cannot use such products in the external wall construction of schools, high-rise homes, hospitals, and care facilities, reported AJ. The ruling also calls for local municipalities to begin removing unsafe aluminum composite material (ACM) cladding on existing structures taller than 18 meters (about six stories). Though CLT is not an ACM and has been proven to perform well under fire load, it contains wood and is being cited as hazardous to lawmakers. CF Møller’s affordable housing design for Blackwall Reach is phase 3 of a larger, controversial regeneration plan of Robin Hood Gardens, which the London-based practice Metropolitan Workshop is overseeing. Phase 1b and Phase 2 includes the build-out of 268 homes across four buildings designed by Haworth Tompkins and Metropolitan Workshop. These structures, currently under construction, are slated for completion this year and in 2021. Phase 3 construction is expected to start following the move-in of residents to the new buildings. Overall, the 20-acre Blackwall Reach project is set to replace 250 high-rise homes within the area with a total of 1,575 new units. Swan Housing Association, a community development and management organization, is developing the site alongside the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and the Greater London Authority.While this is only one project suffering a design setback thanks to the new ban on combustible cladding materials, it signals what could become a major issue with the use of CLT products on future tall buildings in the U.K. and across Europe. Already a world leader in mass timber manufacturing and construction, it’s unclear how the U.K. will now move forward in creating large-scale projects using the material. The ban has recently received major criticism from industry leaders like the Timber Trade Federation and architects who worry about the environmental cost of restricting timber in large construction. The Royal British Institute of Architects came out in support of the ban in November but recommends it only apply to specific cladding applications.
The first phase of Manhattan’s massive Hudson Yards project opens to the public in only a month, and AN took a behind-the-scenes look at the new neighborhood.
Much of the office space in 10 Hudson Yards, the Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF)–designed glass tower at the corner of 30th Street and 10th Avenue, is occupied, but work on the neighborhood’s public-facing and retail components will continue until the March 15 opening. After that, the Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards, the seven-story, one-million-square-foot Elkus Manfredi Architects–designed retail hub will be open for business. Besides multi-floor retail outlets for a number of fashion stalwarts and brick-and-mortar space for formerly online-only retailers, the second floor of the Shops will hold a permanent exhibition space curated by Snarkitecture.
The Snark Park will hold open its inaugural show, Lost and Found, on March 15 when visitors will weave between crumbling columns—limited edition recreations of which were given away at KITH’s SoHo store on January 31. That retail integration will follow through to all of Snarkitecture’s future installations in the space, and developer Related is planning to rotate exhibitions three times a year, with associated “retail drops.”
The Shops building, which is wedged between KPF’s 10 and 30 Hudson Yards buildings, also features a cogeneration plant that can convert waste heat into thermal energy. All of the buildings are networked in a micro-grid and can send their waste heat to the plant, creating a system that uses less energy than comparably-sized towers. An outdoor dining terrace will also let visitors peer into the Thomas Heatherwick–designed New York Staircase (formerly known as the Vessel) as they eat. The entire building is designed to be porous and allow foot traffic in from the adjacent buildings, the 34th Street 7 train station via an underground corridor, and to visitors from the High Line.
To the site’s west is the still-uncovered rail yard, which will eventually be decked over for Hudson Yards’ second phase. Whereas the first phase is 80 percent office and retail space, and 20 percent residential, the second phase will flip those numbers and create more housing. Related claims that the project will create 1,000 affordable units overall, though there is no target completion date for the second phase.
From January 10 to March 30, visitors to New York's Center for Architecture can check out an exhibition that explores how urban communities can be empowered to create more resilient and sustainable futures. Design and the Just City raises awareness about urban inequality by exploring generations of flawed policy and systematic injustices, and the psychological effects of undesirable architecture and weak urban design. The exhibition was curated by the Just City Lab of the Harvard Graduate School of Design under the leadership of its director, Professor Toni L. Griffin.
The first encounter visitors have with the exhibition is a labeled map of New York City. To the right of the map are rolls of stickers with words like "Aspiration," "Fairness," "Power," "Identity," and "Resilience." The piece asks visitors to take a single sticker that references the most significant attribute of their neighborhood and put it on the map. From a step back, the conglomeration of multi-colored stickers could be interpreted as a pointillism piece, but the experience is meant to reveal what residents actually value about their environs.
The exhibition focuses on five videos that each look at one of the many challenges combatted by the Just City Lab. The first focuses on the uncomfortable spaces made by transportation infrastructure, particularly subway overpasses common to neighborhoods in Harlem, the Bronx, and Queens. The video shows the many ways in which landscape architecture, lighting design, and low-cost public structures can encourage these once-unsafe areas to become places where people meet or engage with wildlife.
Another project also discusses transportation, but as a remedy instead of a malady. To combat the severe racial and class-based segregation among Brooklyn's 15 intermediate-level schools, the video proposes free family and student transportation, community workshops to encourage a stronger integration between parents and students, easier access to information and technology, and equitable admissions. The final product is a well-produced piece describing the difficulties and challenges faced by constituents and designers, and the subsequent final designs and approaches.
Griffin founded the Just City Lab in 2011 and has established herself as one of the most influential explorers of the relationships between spatial and racial justice in urban environments. Throughout her two decades in the urban design field, she has taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Department of City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley, and the Spitzer School of Architecture at the City University of New York.
After over a decade in development, Gehry Partners’ twin-towered The Grand development in Downtown Los Angeles has finally broken ground.
The sizable mixed-use complex is to be located directly across the street from Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Diller Scofidio + Renfro–designed Broad contemporary art museum complex. The project is widely seen as the capstone for the Grand Avenue Redevelopment initiative that has sought to revitalize and complete the city’s main downtown cultural corridor. The project, the result of a public-private partnership created by the Los Angeles Grand Avenue Authority and a joint powers authority made up of the County of Los Angeles, the City of Los Angeles, and the now-defunct Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles, is being developed by Related Companies and CORE USA; AECOM is acting as the architect of record for the project.
The signature development is made up of two staggered buildings linked by a central courtyard filled with public art. Commercial areas wrap the courtyard while also connecting to the sidewalk. The complex is designed with most of the retail facing Disney Concert Hall, which Gehry hopes can continue to be used for artistic projections, as occurred in 2018 when artist Refik Anadol turned the concert hall into a canvas for digital, machine learning–derived projections.
In a video unveiled as part of the groundbreaking, Gehry said, “it’s been exciting to build something so close to something I built before and to be able to have them talk to each other.”
The Grand complex is designed with broken facades that change material and cant this way and that as the various building masses rise to the sky. The upper levels of the towers will contain upwards of 400 residential units, 20 percent of which are going to be set aside for low-income residents. According to the architect, the design is meant to relate to the surrounding structures while also dematerializing the buildings to blend in with the surrounding high-rises. Metallic cladding wraps certain portions of the towers in an attempt to match the concert hall’s stainless steel cladding while expanses of glass fill out other volumes.
In a press release, Gehry said, “With The Grand, we’re not just building buildings, we’re building places,” adding, “We are trying to make a place for people not only to live, but also to gather after concerts or performances, and my hope is that it will spawn other growth in the neighborhood.”
Farren International, a one-stop-shop logistics operation founded in 1959, has carved a niche for itself shipping extra-extra-large items. Operating across most of the European Union, North America, and the United Arab Emirates, the outfit transports over one million tons per year globally by plane, train, and automobile (and a significant number of cargo ships). The company’s principal storage facility, a 400,000-square-foot warehouse in Ledgewood, New Jersey, is littered with shrink-wrapped Chinook helicopters, stacks of Yamasaki motorcycles, and 30-foot power turbines, among other items. Over the last decade, Farren International has embedded itself in leading mega-developments across New York City, transporting all of the facade cladding for towers such as New York’s Freedom Tower, and 15 and 55 Hudson Yards.
With a fleet of 75 heavy-duty brand trucks, such as Oshkosh, Peterbilt, and Kenworth, Farren International has established itself as an expert in the transport of superloads—an indivisible load surpassing 16 feet in height and width, 125 feet in length, and in excess of 200,000 pounds—or as CEO and president of Farren International, Phil Antonucci, puts it, cargo that is “high, wide, and heavy.”
The herculean task of corralling facade components from across the globe is often overlooked in the construction process: It includes the warehousing of thousands of tons of material in an orderly fashion and ultimately shipping components to construction sites. An in-house workshop at the New Jersey facility—hidden behind countless shelves and mountains of cargo, including enormous turbines and transformers—is charged with customizing flatbeds and other means of specialized transport for particular items.
Considering the sheer lumbering mass of these transports—formats include tandem trucks hauling up to 140-foot-long modular trailers—plotting routes is akin to planning a minor military campaign. Scouts armed with measuring instruments and high poles spend up to one month at a time surveying potential routes, testing corners and overpass heights to ensure that convoys arrive at their location undamaged and on time.
15 Hudson Yards
Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s recently completed 15 Hudson Yards is a 910-foot-tall residential skyscraper clad in a multitude of facade materials. For the project, Farren International collaborated with Related Companies–affiliated New Hudson Facades to transport curtain wall panels to the construction site. Assembled just south of Philadelphia, the panels were first trucked more than 100 miles to Farren’s multi-acre storage facilities in New Jersey. Over the course of two years, Farren shipped approximately 36 panels a day to the construction team on the ground for erection, with the panels weighing between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds each.
When Farren International is not transporting hundreds of tons of facade components or hulking military equipment, the logistics operation is moving crucial infrastructural components across the globe. In 2016, the team plotted the journey of a 415,000-pound transformer from a manufacturer in Brazil to Port Newark in New Jersey. From this juncture, the team loaded the transformer onto a barge that was pushed up the Hudson River and through the Erie Canal to Rochester, New York. Once on land, the transformer was lifted onto a Goldhoffer trailer, pushed forward by two tandem Oshkosh trucks, and installed at a local electrical substation.
The CH-47 Chinook is a 99-foot-long heavy lift helicopter with a potential payload of over 10 tons. When decommissioned by the United States Armed Forces and other purchasers of Boeing’s military-industrial wares, Chinooks begin new lives as civilian aircraft. Since 2014, Farren International has transported dozens of these double-rotor helicopters—2,500 miles on land from Meridianville, Alabama, to Columbia Helicopters in Oregon—on their fleet of flatbed trucks with an in-house-designed set of fittings and equipment, including customized nose and wheel cradles and upgraded lifting devices. In addition to the Chinook, Farren International transports a motley crew of smaller aircraft, including the Sikorsky S-92, the UH-60 Blackhawk, and even decommissioned Air Force Ones.
The project got its start in 2016, when Branch Technology hosted its Freeform Home Design Challenge, inviting firms from around the world to propose a home to be made with its cellular fabrication technology. Out of the nearly 1,300 registrants, the winning entry, called Curve Appeal, came from WATG, and will be completed in partnership with various other firms and labs.The home, which has been designed with attention to the natural light available on the lot in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is intended to be net zero energy. It’s being built out of around 100 pieces of printed carbon-fiber-reinforced ABS thermoplastic, five-pound beams of which have been shown to bear as much as 3,600 pounds. Branch has been testing individual components and structural models, and creep testing the entire system to ensure that every part of the home comes together safely and securely.According to Branch’s David Goodloe, combining lightness with structural integrity defines the firm’s work, making its technology “fundamentally different” than other 3-D-printing construction companies.“Instead of asking 'How much can we 3-D print?'" Goodloe said, “we are asking ‘how little?’” Rather than trying to make components wholly of plastic or another printed material, Branch is leveraging freeform printing to produce what it refers to as a matrix, a lattice-like structure, that supports other materials. The printed form creates the structure to which materials like gypsum composite can be added to increase structural capacity, insulation, and energy efficiency.
To build bigger, Branch has been scaling up. The company has recently doubled its capacity with four new printers, and is building a new factory to incorporate its advances in automation and speed. The goal, as with many firms and labs experimenting with 3-D printing in architecture and construction, is to bring greater customization to construction. Branch is aiming to complete its home later this year.
The pop-up, temporary store phenomena, began a dozen years ago when local, community-based associations attempted to deal quickly with unwelcome empty storefronts on struggling main streets. They have now become a cliché of contemporary corporate branding and a quick, inexpensive way to make a product seem "cool."
But Spaceus, a temporary floating workshop in Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, is trying to put the local back into pop-up.
The creation of two MIT graduate students Ellen Shakespear and Stephanie Lee, Spaceus takes empty storefronts and turns them into temporary workspaces and information centers for artists. The architects created a membership structure that lets users determine the function of Spaceus, and then the designers used their skills to create a simple, inexpensive, and handsome walk-in space. The initial pop-up was located in an empty shop in Faneuil Hall, then the Roslindale neighborhood, then Harvard Square, and now on February 2, they launched their latest “hybrid workspace” at 11 First Street in East Cambridge.
Shakespear and Lee think that “many young architects are frustrated by the traditional mode of practice” and “are looking toward new models of funding.” Instead of having to jump into top-down design practices as young professionals they went out and found a design problem to solve, organized their own client base, and created a space to make it work. It’s not an entirely new idea that architects can take control of their agency, particularly at MIT, which has long supported "Participatory Action Research," but it is one that needs to be brought back into the architecture studio. Spaceus is the current generation's attempt to reinvigorate the model. If you’re in the Boston area, drop into the latest Spaceus in East Cambridge.