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On Reserve

World's largest Starbucks opens on downtown Chicago's Magnificent Mile
Nothing screams excess like a five-story Starbucks. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or that it’s poorly designed. Today marks the grand opening of the Seattle-based coffee giant's largest flagship store in the world. Located on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, the 35,000-square-foot facility fills every inch of a former Crate & Barrel store originally built in 1990.  Designed by an in-house team with added help from Perkins & Will, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Chicago takes cues from the original architecture of the largely-all-glass-and-stone department store. It boasts plenty of natural light within the five-story interior thanks to the building’s existing rotunda and floor-to-ceiling windows. The characteristic materials of a Starbucks project are all there too: Jet black metal cladding cover the walls, both light and dark wooden accents populate the bars and ceilings, while the classic bronze finish found in other Reserve projects clad the railings and machinery. One new touch that defines the Chicago flagship is the ample use of soft green throughout the space, especially notable on the perforated wood panels that line the ceiling. At the center of the space, spanning all five floors, is a towering coffee bean cask made of eight cylindrical chambers. It stretches 56 feet-tall from the ground-floor upward and is surrounded by a spiraling escalator that guests can take to the second floor. From the very top, to see conveyors drop roasted coffee beans in the cask to cool. It’s a curvy interior and it deftly matches Crate & Barrel’s curvy aesthetic. The exterior of the building has been virtually untouched and the Starbucks stamp is minimal. Despite the intervention, the structure still looks like it belongs in downtown Chicago. Among the five other Reserve projects built around the world since 2014, this retrofit has already received early praise for its adherence to the integrity of the city and space in which it exists. Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin loved the shop upon touring it and described the architectural appeal of the new "cathedral of coffee" in his review this week:  “It’s visually theatrical, crisply designed and carefully tailored to its host city even though it springs from a well-worn corporate template,” wrote Kamin. “The flagship reminds us that modern architecture celebrates the process of making things, unlike beaux-arts buildings that hide such things behind pretty facades.”  That must be the general allure of the Starbucks Reserve brand: The company has broken out these shops not as "everyday" places to grab a coffee but more as tourist-oriented theme parks or experience centers complete with merchandise and $15-to-$20 coffees But this will also be the company's last chance to impress this way. Starbucks has announced the Chicago space will be the final Reserve flagship in its portfolio. 
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The Emerald City

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson talks Facades+ and the future of Seattle
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On December 6, The Architect's Newspaper is returning to Seattle for the third year in a row in a dialogue of the architectural trends, technologies, and materials reshaping the Seattle metropolitan area. Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, a national firm with a significant presence in Seattle, is co-chairing the conference. Panels for the morning symposium will discuss the complex geometries of the Temple of Light, the GNW Pavillion, and The Mark; the longstanding collaboration between Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Su Development, and Morrison Hershfield in the design and construction of residential towers in Bellvue, Washington; and the future of fenestration technology. The second half of the conference occurs in the afternoon and will feature intensive workshops. Participants for the conference symposium and workshops include Arup, Blackcomb Facade Technology, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Eckersley O'Callaghan, Green Facades, Robert McNeel and Associates, Microsol Resources, Morrison Hershfield, Office 52, Olson Kundig, Su Development, Walter P Moore, and ZGF Architects. In this interview with The Architect's Newspaper, BCJ's associate principal Patreese Martin and principal Robert Miller, the conference co-chairs, discuss their firm's ongoing projects, the symposium panel "Optimizing Residential Design: Pursuing a Housing Model for the Seattle Area," and the overall architectural direction of Seattle and its impact on the conference program. AN: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson is one of the leading architectural practices in the United States. What are you currently working on and what can we expect to see in the next few years? Patreese Martin and Robert Miller: Our days are filled with opportunities at widely varying scales with Brio and Yesler High Rise Towers, University of Puget Sound Welcome Center, two fire stations for the Bellevue Fire Department, and even a 200 square foot Studio Cabin in Point Roberts. We are experimenting with methods of documentation, component design, and physically assisting with construction of the tiny studio to train staff and remind ourselves of the nuances of materials and tolerances and the decisions that occur in the field despite anyone’s best efforts to pre-think and document. Through ongoing discussions, we look forward to incorporating lessons learned to improve value and design of larger projects. We believe this attention to detail and mentoring will continue to advance our work on the diverse range of project typologies we are involved with such as makerspaces, high-rises (including Social Good Components/ Urban Interface), single-family residential, and food and beverage. As we continue to find new methods of optimizing processes, such as integrating technologies such as cloud scans, we will leverage current and new technologies to make more specific architecture and experiences for the users. While there is no substitute for intuition and creativity, the balance of rigor and process will result in consistently powerful solutions for our clients. One of the panels, "Optimizing Residential Design: Pursuing a Housing Model for the Seattle Area," focuses on your long-term collaboration with Su Development. What can we expect from this presentation and discussion? BCJ has leveraged collaboration to develop the strongest work possible and unique to each project's circumstance. This team’s collaboration is a stellar example where we were brought into a new building typology with little direct experience and through our strengths in innovation, problem solving, and principles of design we were able to rethink the kit of parts to develop a fresh language for high rises. I believe this will be a fascinating discussion with a client who is the owner, developer, and general contractor. Together we are reconsidering many components of his projects and the window wall exemplifies the benefit of this process. The discussion will focus on our combined experiences of rethinking standard components and processes to achieve iconic creative solutions and superior value. The Seattle metropolitan area continues to experience a tremendous level of growth. What do you perceive to be the most interesting trends in the area today, and how do you perceive the Facades+ program ties into those trends? The unprecedented growth in Seattle has led to increased interest and support for design quality, social quality, and innovation. The diversity of companies locating in the region is also leading to better collaborations across disciplines and within our own. To develop these opportunities further it will require new methods, from liability agreements to effective communication of information including modeling data communicated direct to a shop for fabrication. One intriguing example is the advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) which could positively impact the methodologies of programming and information gathering and we have a fascination with its potential. This could become a very powerful tool to find efficiencies in the construction and performance of architectural components such as the facade of a building. Incorporating data regarding environmental conditions, user interfaces, intelligent glass, and cloud-scan information to capture views and context, it is quite possible the power of AI could dramatically alter our abilities to fine-tune the skin of a project. A well-developed AI tool could greatly benefit the advancement of aesthetic, energy efficiency, and occupants' comfort, leading to a whole new frontier of facade development. Further information regarding Facades+ Seattle can be found here.  
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Preferred Street Promenade

Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade will undergo transformative master plan
Following a presentation made to the Santa Monica City Council on November 5, significant updates have been approved for the Third Street Promenade, a pedestrian-only shopping street that over the last three decades has become one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations. “Our predecessors were bold in 1989 and it’s time to be bold again as we reimagine the total experience of the Third Street Promenade,” said Santa Monica Mayor Gleam Davis in an official statement. “It’s time to reinvest in a community asset that has enriched lives and significantly contributed to Santa Monica’s prosperity." Known as “Promenade 3.0,” the master plan’s project team is comprised of local engineering firm KPFF and local architecture firms Rios Clementi Hale Studios and Gehl, which has worked together over the last year to develop three unique design concepts for the street: Improve, Adapt and Transform. ‘Improve’ would update the pedestrian experience by demolishing some of the site’s defunct retail pavilions to make room for pedestrian traffic while raising the roadway in certain sections; ‘Adapt’ calls for raising the entire roadway to curb level; and ‘Transform’ would remove and replace all existing flooring with updated materials, demolish retail pavilions, and add significantly more trees and other shading devices. All three plans include movable furniture, landscape areas and improved pedestrian crosswalks along the path’s two intersections. The City Council has expressed significant interest in Transform, the most ambitious redevelopment of the three proposals. In addition, the project team was encouraged by the Council to imagine even more transformative design gestures, which could serve to construct more zones for outdoor activities and increase opportunities for businesses operating lower-cost kiosks along the site. “Not only do we want to create an environment that gets people to come to the Promenade not just once but on repeated occasions … what’s important is that maintaining its authenticity will also make it more appealing to people,” said Mayor Davis. In its current arrangement, the Promenade covers three blocks of Third Street between Wilshire Boulevard and Broadway, culminating in a three-story open-air mall that recently replaced the Frank Gehry-designed Santa Monica Place Mall. “When the Third Street Promenade debuted thirty years ago,” said City Manager Rick Cole, “it revolutionized the way we look at public space in Southern California.” Only time will tell if Promenade 3.0 will meaningfully bring the original design’s revolutionary qualities into the 21st century. The project will be funded by Promenade property and city owners and is expected to cost between $45 and $60 million. Once ground is broken in 2023 or 2024, construction is anticipated to take one to two years.
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Just Don’t

Los Angeles is at a crossroads—don’t let it become New York
Makin’ my way downtown, I zip along on my Lime® scooter through the ersatz Japanese village of Little Tokyo, past taxis, buses, and Prii, to a bustling, small-scale warehouse district on the fringe of Los Angeles’s central core. The whirlwind of scales, land uses, languages, and people is dizzying, but I finally land at my destination: Sonoratown, a lively taco spot famous for its soft tortillas, which are made with flour driven up from Sonora, Mexico, in small batches by the owner’s mom. This delirious, quasi-urban experience is one that could only happen in the messy, diverse urban fabric of Los Angeles. You are free to grab whatever pieces of the kaleidoscopic surroundings you can, and the faster you are moving, the more there is to take. Somehow, this frantic energy and free movement seem unaffected or held back by the past. The cultural critic Sean Monahan called LA the capital of the 2010s, describing it as:
...a city whose attributes anticipate collapse: flat and amorphous, rather than vertical and defined; kitsch and pop, rather than avant-garde and tech; individualistic and mass, rather than institutional and elite. You can suggest San Francisco, HQ of disruption, or New York, backdrop for protest movements (#OWS, #BLM). But both places fail to capture the spirit of the age, because they are fighting so hard to change it. They are relics of empire, unsure of themselves after a decade in which success was indistinguishable from failure… Built on celebrity, media, and lifestyle, L.A. doesn’t presume to be building the future, merely inhabiting it. It’s a pick your poison kind of place. [Go wild] at Chateau Marmont. Spend half your paycheck on inscrutable health food at Erewhon. Commute four hours so you can live in a Riverside McMansion. Drive Uber every day, write screenplays every night. Sell out, drop out, suck up, fuck up. There is no right or wrong way to do L.A.
Monahan accurately describes why Los Angeles encapsulates the present, and why it’s the most exciting place in the US right now. However, it is also important to note where the city is moving in the 2020s. With the 2028 Olympics as a finish line, Los Angeles is at a crossroads, on a path to become a different place in the next decade. But with the city already at the forefront of global media culture (The Kardashians, Moon Juice, Goop, etc.), it doesn’t need global architecture to maintain its position as a worldwide force. How it defines itself as a physical place is still up for grabs, and it should learn lessons from other hyper-globalized cities, namely New York. Tomorrow’s Los Angeles is one of layers. Moving on from its days as a bastion of mythological American modernism centered around mobility (cars), individuality (single-family homes), and triumph over nature (lawns), it will add new collectivities on to itself. These layers will arise from the constant flux of the new: Technologies and emerging social patterns meld nicely into the loose, still-codifying culture and its corresponding urban forms. It is the flickering of new, communal, car-free, publicly subsidized lifestyles against the old, car-centric, low-density, low-regulation, “libertarian” bones of the urban landscape that make it such an interesting place for urbanism today. The oft-bandied-about claim that the city is libertarian is also not entirely accurate, as California is a sea of regulation and red tape, continually votes to raise its already high taxes, and both California and Los Angeles are leading on climate action. The city is quietly building public infrastructure at a pace that vastly outpaces New York. New York’s Second Avenue Subway took somewhere between 10 and 100 years to complete three stations, and the next phase will be three stops and will be completed by 2029 at the earliest. Meanwhile Los Angeles is (optimistically) on course to build 28 new lines by 2028. This includes an airport-connection line that will allow a direct link from LAX to the city. Meanwhile, New York’s MTA is in a worsening crisis with crumbling stations and delays only getting worse, and New Jersey’s NJ Transit recently gave up on accounting for the traffic expected to reach the American Dream Mall, instead calling on private industry to complete the line, citing none other than Los Angeles’s electric rail airport connector as an example. That’s right—L.A. is leading the way in public transit. Meanwhile, Uber, a municipal car share and micro-mobility options such as scooters have already altered how people get around (many young people don’t have cars at all) and where they live, partly due to an explosion in transit-oriented development around the new metro lines. It is unclear exactly how successful, affordable, and sustainable this will be, but change is certainly underway. New transit networks both public and private, along with lower parking requirements for new construction will profoundly impact development and housing typologies in the future. But it is no secret that Los Angeles is careening toward a New York–like affordability crisis (if it isn’t there already) that goes hand-in-hand with the urban whitewash of global capital. Homelessness is at record levels and only getting worse. In response, architects are working to develop new housing typologies, from affordable prototypes and accessory dwelling units, to larger, multi-family schemes that continue to evolve with new regulations and design challenges. The L.A. River and the L.A River Greenway in the San Fernando Valley are also emerging sites of urban experimentation and reclamation/rehabilitation of greenspace. Los Angeles has a unique architectural culture and urban fabric, but red flags are emerging. First, Bjarke Ingels Group and Herzog & de Meuron, international firms that are both very popular with the New York development community, have projects downtown. Related Group (of Hudson Yards fame) has moved in and is developing a large Frank Gehry project across from Gehry’s own Disney Concert Hall. It perfectly illustrates the lower design quality of developer-led construction and echoes Related Companies’ other project, Hudson Yards: “The project is anchored by a central plaza wrapped with shopping areas and public art.” The biggest red flag might be the shortlist for the La Brea Tar Pits project. In Miracle Mile’s Museum Row, a neighborhood that already has been marred by architectural globalists—once by KPF and twice by Renzo Piano—the shortlist for the La Brea master plan is New York establishment firms WEISS/MANFREDI and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, along with Danish firm Dorte Mandrup. It is a truly odd and troubling list. All three are talented firms, but their selection signals the wind turning toward a placeless architecture where, in California terms, “there is no there there,” reflecting classic donor-class aesthetics. Don’t even get me started on what director Michael Govan and the LACMA board are doing to push through their new building. Joseph Giovannini said it best:
In a sleight of hand that still has serious consequences for LACMA and Los Angeles, Govan introduced [Peter] Zumthor, the architect who presumably could achieve this world-class building, to his Board of Trustees. There was no competition, no public review or discussion, no transparency, just a shoo-in of the architect who had arrived in Los Angeles in Govan’s back pocket. “It won’t be the seventh Renzo Piano building in the country,” Govan explained to me in an interview. “We’ll have the only Zumthor.” …Had he even made it into a normal architect selection process, the jury might have concluded that he was mismatched and dangerously underequipped for the commission.
Some Angelenos say that local architects should get their due. L.A. has been defined in many ways by outsiders such as Neutra and Schindler, but also by local legends like Thom Mayne and Frank Gehry, as well as a younger generation like Barbara Bestor, Michael Maltzan, and a host of others who can deliver top-notch design. Los Angeles doesn't need the continental, polite, same-as-everywhere architecture that plagues institutions around the world. The architecture scene has always valued experimentation and allowed younger, more avant-garde approaches and diverse practices to gain ground, outside of the institutional weight that plagues places like the East Coast. It is not “provincial”—as some claim—to want to preserve this well-established local flavor while moving forward. In fact, what would be provincial is thinking that it is necessary to look outward for world-class architecture, or that a mythical global culture needs to be imported for the city to become a world-class place. Nothing defines the periphery like the center, and nothing makes one more provincial than defining oneself against New York. Of course, outside architects can come in and add to the culture; it just takes a bit of judgment. For instance, Spanish firm SelgasCano’s bright, breezy, kit-of-parts style seems to fit with L.A.’s pop modernist aesthetic, and Arata Isozaki’s MOCA has also become an iconic part of L.A. architecture. So let L.A. be regional and different. Don’t let it succumb to the pressures of global capital and “global architecture.” Don’t let Boyle Heights—a strong Latino neighborhood under development pressure, with several buildings already being renovated—become Hudson Yards. New York City has been ruined by capital, which was weaponized to take away the grittiness of places like Times Square, a project of Ed Koch and eventually of Rudy Guiliani. Later, technocrat billionaire Michael Bloomberg finished the sanitization of the city with sloppy rezonings of Williamsburg, West Chelsea, and Long Island City most notably, which ushered in the era of bland office towers and mega mall-like sterility. Developers like President Donald Trump and Related Companies, along with their elected enablers like Bloomberg and Guiliani have shared class interests that threaten the small-scale, local and regional urban landscapes where artists, immigrants, and the working class foment culture. How can Los Angeles be a laboratory for resisting the entropic, hegemonic cancer that is global capital, the global donor class, and the donor-class aesthetic? One tactic, and to be fair, something that the Bloomberg administration got right in places like Brooklyn and Staten Island, is downzoning to preserve the character of neighborhoods. This is also tricky and can lead to NIMBYism, which L.A. has certainly had its share of recently. In a similar vein, Thom Mayne provocatively suggested clustering development on the Wilshire corridor in order to protect other areas. The Wilshire area has seen some development, but not at the scale Mayne has suggested. Additionally, serious and innovative criticism is needed. Critics must not fall into 20th-century modes of operating; they have to get out in front of these debacles rather than react to them. There are a host of critics operating in Los Angeles, and no one is better positioned to have an impact than former L.A. Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne, who is now in a unique role as the Chief Design Officer for the City of Los Angeles, a position where he is literally helping craft RFPs (request for proposals). As long as Hawthorne is able to be heard in the government and in the public and can surround himself with good people who will help guide L.A. through this crucial time, there is a real opportunity to have more and more expert opinions in the process that will avoid the disasters that haunt New York. This, along with more equitable and compensated juried design competitions, can help the people who make financial decisions make "better" aesthetic and cultural decisions. Regionalism, when connected to local ecology, provokes more interesting and nuanced design than a totalizing, global aesthetic. In terms of what resistance might look like outside of design review, Los Angeles is already taking on challenges in a unique way. In Boyle Heights, gentrifying art galleries have been pushed out by strong neighborhood coalitions demanding affordable housing and neighborhood services. Los Angeles could also adopt anti-gentrification policies such as rent control or downzoning to prevent the displacement of both residential and retail spaces. Many cities have adopted such plans, while Berlin and other cities have enacted rent freezes and other regulations on the housing market to ensure affordability. Los Angeles in many ways is the logical conclusion of the myth of the American West. Several time zones and thousands of miles in distance from New York and other global cities, it has historically been connected to global culture through mass media, not physical space. This isolation has left it to its own devices as an urban place. This doesn’t need to change as it grows into more of a global force. New forms and ways of living can be cultivated without abandoning what makes it a special place: its resistance to the forces of the outside. In the 2020s, defining a new localism would be quite an amazing achievement.
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Hella Bedight

Hem’s San Francisco pop-up is a nod to local skate and surf culture
Los Angeles design scene stalwart Jonathan Olivares has outfitted Stockholm furniture brand Hem’s latest pop-up; an airy, light-filled boutique in the heart of San Francisco’s trendy Hayes Valley district. Open through the start of December, the shop’s aesthetic hints at local skate and surf culture. Paying tribute to the Bay Areas’s rich visual heritage, Olivares devises a scheme that breaks up the sprawling interior with colorful room dividers. Crafted by legendary surfboard shapers Scott Anderson and Skip Engblom, these spatial elements carry similar materiality and hue. Accompanying white walls and exposed concrete floors, the room dividers help create the perfect backdrop for the brand’s inherently Scandinavian yet contemporary product range. The colorways accent tones apparent in the brand’s minimalistic luminaires, furnishings, and textiles: the Kumo Sofa by Anderssen & Voll, Last Stool by Max Lamb, and Hai Chair by LucaNichetto, as well as a number of accessories including the Stripe Throw by Arthur Arbesser, Storm Cushion by Sylvain Willenz, and Table Mortar by Mark Braun. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Must-See Not-TV

Here are fall's hottest architecture, sustainability, and social theory events on the East Coast
AN has assembled another collection of exhibitions, lectures, and conferences in the coming week that feature artists, architects, policymakers, and thinkers reflecting on aesthetic, social, ecological, and design strategies for the modern world. If you're in or around New York City, stop by and enrich yourself. Check out the events below: Rashid Johnson, The Hikers at Hauser + Wirth Hauser & Wirth New York, 22nd Street Opening reception: November 12, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. November 12 through January 25, 2020 Rashid Johnson's The Hikers show includes ceramic tile mosaics, collaged paintings, a large-scale bronze sculpture sprouting plants, and an installation of his latest film shot in Colorado, using the combination of mountain landscapes and body movement to express the psychological consequences and challenges of the modern world and its injustices. Johnson asks: "What are the movements like when a black man is walking past a police officer? Or when a black man is suffering from agoraphobia?" Urban Thinkers Campus: Accelerating the SDGs in Cities Kellogg Center, Columbia University, SIPA 15th Floor November 13, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. GSAPP, Wood Auditorium, 1st Floor 420 West 118th Street, Room 1501 November 14, 10:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. The Urban Thinkers Campus is a UN Habitat framework for critical exchange between stakeholders and partners to promote sustainable urbanization. Columbia University's Center for Sustainable Urban Development is hosting Accelerating the SDGs in Cities, promoting the Paris Climate Agreement's Sustainable Development Goals as a tool to evaluate projects on the basis of the 193-nation agreement. Emphasizing the urgency of meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals, it shepherds academics, professionals, and participants of civil society to generate ideas for action and methodologies to expedite action on the SDGs. The event will also include a complementary gallery of 100 local projects from more than 30 countries, considered according to how they meet the goals.

Creative Time Speaking Truth | Summit X

The Great Hall, Cooper Union November 14 through 16, various times Kickoff Event: November 14, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. LOLA, 169 Avenue A, New York The tenth Creative Time Summit, Speaking Truth, continues the public art organization's discussion of social, political, and aesthetic questions through keynote presentations, group discussions, workshops, and performances. Traveling to DC, Toronto, and Miami in recent years, it returns to New York City to the Great Hall at Cooper Union and sites around the East Village, asking whether the long-time activist cliche of "speaking truth to power" can rescue us from disillusionment. Maybe not, but some of the usual suspects of socially engaged art will be mixed with new faces to challenge whether art can be more than another sideshow of collapsing civic life, politics, and media culture. Francis Kéré: Work Report Yale Architecture Hastings Hall, 180 York Street, Basement Level, New Haven, CT November 14, 6:30 p.m. Kéré's lecture at Yale promises an update on his recent projects, with an emphasis on his communal approach to design and commitment to sustainable materials and modes of construction, drawing on the social and physical particularities of localities. Based in Berlin, Kéré Architecture's current work includes the Burkina Faso National Assembly, the Lycée Schorge Secondary School, the Léo Surgical Clinic & Health Centre, the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion, and Xylem, the recently opened pavilion for Tippet Rise Art Center. The Green New Deal: A Public Assembly Queens Museum New York City Building, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens November 17, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Advocates, organizers, and elected officials—including a rumored appearance by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in her district—will gather for this conference jointly organized by the Buell Center at Columbia GSAPP with the Queens Museum, AIA New York, the Architecture Lobby, Francisco J. Casablanca (¿Quién Nos Representa?), and Green New Deal organizer and architect Gabriel Hernández Solano. Following the drafting of a set of general principles for how to equitably redress climate crisis in House Resolution 109 and Senate Resolution 59, The Green New Deal: A Public Assembly includes morning workshops and an afternoon series of discussions to encourage invited guests and the public to think systemically and across scales. Alphonso Lingis, "Irrevocable" The New School GIDEST Lab at 63 Fifth Avenue, Room 411 November 22, 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. The philosopher Alphonso Lingis lectures on the "irrevocable" at the GIDEST Seminar, the New School's weekly discussion at the Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography & Social Thought. Author of a series of books on places of alterity and social cohesion, including The Community of Those Who Have Nothing in Common, The Imperative, Dangerous Emotions, Trust, and Violence and Splendor, Lingis's work draws from continental philosophy, phenomenology, and engages in philosophical-ethnographic travel meditations, often focused on bodily experience.
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The Bridge Presides

James Corner Field Operations-designed addition to the Presidio moves forward
The Presidio in San Francisco, a 1,480-acre park and former US Army military fort on the northwest tip of the city, is about to receive a relatively small but notable addition. A “groundmaking” ceremony was held on November 7 for The Tunnel Tops, a 14-acre addition to the Presidio designed by international landscape architecture firm James Corner Field Operations (JCFO). The new addition will rest on top of the Presidio Parkway tunnels to reconnect Crissy Field and the rest of the park following their separation for nearly 80 years and will include a three-acre play area, connecting pathways, extensive gardens with native vegetation, and elevated overlooks with unobstructed views of the Golden Gate Bridge. The design makes use of the steep slopes required to clear the tunnels with the inclusion of seating steps molded from the lawn (named “The Presidio Steps” by the firm), viewing terraces, and an open plaza with a large unprogrammed platform. Given its solid foundation, a campfire site along the edge of the addition named the "campfire circle" is designed to support the growth of native trees, allowing the site to become thickly forested over time. “The iconic setting is perfect for transforming highway infrastructure into a vibrant new public space,” said James Corner. JCFO began designing The Tunnel Tops in 2014 following a community conversation that ensured the project would “offer residents and visitors alike an inclusive and safe space in which to connect with the great outdoors,” according to the park’s official website. More than 10,000 people participated in workshops and tours of the site to offer insights into how the remade areas could become a significant addition to the historic park. James Corner Field Operations has been behind some of the most imaginative landscape projects across America in the 21st century, including Santa Monica’s Tongva Park and New York City’s High Line. The Tunnel Tops is anticipated to open to the public in 2021.
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Moving in Mary's Place

Amazon is building a homeless shelter in its downtown Seattle headquarters
Amazon is building a homeless shelter inside its downtown Seattle headquarters. Eight floors of an upcoming office building will be home to the Mary’s Place Family Center early next year and will be able to house up to 275 guests per night. The Seattle Times reported that the tech giant has been working on the homeless housing project with its longtime community partner, Mary’s Place, for two years. Over 63,000 square feet of space within one of Amazon’s new corporate office buildings at Seventh Avenue and Blanchard Street is being built out for the local nonprofit. Not only will it house sleeping spaces for homeless families, the facility will also include an industrial kitchen where meals will be prepared for guests and 10 other Mary’s Place shelters in Kings County. The new shelter will also feature a health and legal clinic, a rec room, a rooftop terrace, and a diversion shelter to help homeless families in transition. Two of its floors will house 30 rooms for unhoused families with children under treatment for serious medical illnesses. On the seventh floor of the building, there will be space for Amazon employees to continue their volunteer work through Mary’s Place by offering coding courses, resume workshops, and reading lessons to kids.  Amazon has said it’s committed to paying for the family center’s rent, as well as all maintenance, utilities, and security costs over the next 10 years. In an interview with the Seattle Times, an Amazon real estate executive said the space will belong to Mary’s Place for as long as needed, but the nonprofit will be responsible for all operations, programming, and staff salaries. Yearly costs are estimated to be about $2 million. Since it began construction on its massive campus in Seattle nearly a decade ago, Amazon has had to repeatedly battle with the local government for more space. Advocating on behalf of community organizations like Mary’s Place is one way the company has tried to smooth things over with Seattle locals (other than pouring $1.5 million into last week's City Council race on behalf of pro-business candidates). In 2017, Mary’s Place moved into the former Travelodge hotel building that Amazon bought for its future downtown expansion and in June, Amazon pledged to annually donate $8 million to fight homelessness and provide low-cost housing surrounding its campuses in both Seattle and Arlington, Virginia.  The building that houses Mary’s Place Family Center is on track to receive LEED Gold certification. An opening date for the facility has not been announced. 
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Design Drama

Singapore and Moshe Safdie accused of plagiarizing Jewel Changi Airport
The CEO of Qatar Airways accused the country of Singapore and Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie of plagiarizing the design of the recently-opened Jewel Changi Airport, likening it to a planned-airport expansion project in Doha.  At a recent press briefing, Akbar Al Baker, the head of the international airline, alleged that “somebody” had copied Qatar’s scheme for enhancements at the Hamad International Airport (DOH) located south of Doha. He didn’t name Singapore or Safdie in his announcement but, the criticism was clear: Work done ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup will include the build-out of a large waterfall and interior garden like those found at the wildly-popular new shopping palace in Changi.  Completed in April, the $1.25 billion entertainment and retail complex boasts the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, spanning seven stories across the 1.4-million-square-feet structure. Safdie Architects designed the eye-catching space as a landside, nature-themed amenity hub for the airport. Thousands of plants and 2,000 trees populate the interior. Singapore’s English-language daily newspaper, The Straits Times, reported that Safdie’s concept was initially created exclusively for Changi Airport Group, the airport’s operator and manager, back in 2013 and therefore couldn’t be a copy of the 2019 Doha project. Safdie issued the following statement to the paper: 
“We have been pursuing the concept of gardens as a focal point for the public realm for many decades. We have also explored the concept of harvesting the rain into internal rainfalls at Ben Gurion Airport (Israel) and Marina Bay Sands. The success of these explorations have further inspired and led us to create a new icon in the Jewel that we see today—a new kind of urban place that celebrates the elements of nature and urban life. We are delighted that Jewel’s uniqueness and originality has been well-recognized by the international community and resulted in many wanting to emulate it.” 
This isn’t the first time a piece of airport infrastructure has been the center of plagiarism accusations. Hamad International Airport itself, which opened to the public in 2014, was first criticized for looking too much like the Ben Guiron Airport in Israel. Located between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the airport’s Terminal 3 expansion (its international gate) was designed and completed in 2004 by Safdie and Skidmore, Owings & Merill. Last year, Thai architecture practice DBALP Consortium was accused of copying a Kengo Kuma project in its winning competition design for a new terminal in Bangkok. 
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Heavy Hitters

Fokke Moerel and Michel Rojkind to keynote Facades+ LA
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The Architect’s Newspaper’s Facades+ conference, a series on innovative building envelopes, will touch down again in Los Angeles from November 14 to November 15. The first half of the conference is a full-day symposium, which will feature a morning keynote from MVRDV partner Fokke Moerel and an afternoon keynote from Rojkind Arquitectos founder Michel Rojkind. Each keynote is just under an hour in length and will focus on a particular area of their respective bodies of work. Moerel's keynote, titled "The Skin is the Message," will layout the MVRDV's design methodology and material approach, specifically focusing on a series of case studies; the Crystal House, Bulgari Kuala Lumpur, the Baltyk tower, the Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen, and The Sax. Michel Rojkind, who is behind such projects as the Foro Boca concert hall and the Liverpool Interlomas, will dive into the relationship between digital design and local fabrication in the aptly titled "Transmutations. From digital design to local fabrication." Rojkind will hone in on the learning process from technology to craft, and how the two can build upon each other. The remainder of the day will be dedicated to panels and individual presentations, while the second day of the conference features morning and afternoon workshops. Further information regarding the conference can be found here.
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Morty's Home

Tongva Park in Santa Monica is Californian through-and-through
What goes into a park? We dug into the parts and pieces of landscape design to explore and illustrate the forces, material histories, and narratives that hide beneath the surface. This article is the first of three such deep dives, which includes The Gathering Place in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Hunter's Point South Park in Queens, New York. All illustrations were done by Adam Paul Susaneck.

Santa Monica’s Tongva Park is a true product of Southern California. It certainly has a physical connection to its context—its hills and outlooks are packed with soil from construction sites in the area; its irrigation water sourced from the local runoff recycling facility; its plants were grown in regional nurseries—but in less tangible and more sociopolitical ways, too, the park bears the mark of the Golden State.

Tongva, which opened in 2013, was funded under California’s now-defunct tax increment financing (TIF) laws. The first of their kind in the U.S., California’s TIF laws went into effect in 1952 with the passage of the Community Redevelopment Act, which set a precedent nationwide for how infrastructure might be financed. Many states have since imitated the approach to establish the funding mechanisms behind massive—and often controversial—projects, including Chicago’s Navy Pier and New York’s Hudson Yards. Tax increment financing lets municipalities borrow money for developments in areas designated as “blighted” with the assumption that the developments will generate higher property-tax revenue as land values rise. Critics have argued that TIF programs have been abused to subsidize luxury developments that do little to improve the quality of life for local residents, and in 2011, while work on Tongva was well underway, then-governor Jerry Brown dissolved California’s TIF program, making the park part of the state’s final wave of TIF-backed projects.

The park benefits from Southern California’s crazy-quilt approach to urbanism, where the wealthiest communities of the Los Angeles region have remained independent cities, enabling areas like Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, and Santa Monica to invest tax revenue within their borders without sharing with the city of Los Angeles that surrounds them. Cities where the median home price is less than Santa Monica’s, ($1.6 million, more than twice the median home price for Los Angeles) may not be able to spend so lavishly on their parks.

California comes through most tangibly in the park’s siting and the aesthetic decisions by the park’s designer, James Corner Field Operations (JCFO). JCFO incorporated several beloved trees that were already on the site into an arroyo-inspired plan that orients visitors toward spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and a beach that stretches out casually, with an air of West Coast chill, just across the street.

Funding

The park was entirely publicly funded using TIF. The City of Santa Monica bought 11.6 acres of land from the RAND Corporation; besides the park, housing was built on the site and Olympic Drive was extended through it. The city spent $53 million on the property and another $42.7 million to design and build the 6.2-acre park, which includes a small area across Main Street in front of Santa Monica City Hall.

Plants

Tongva hosts more than 30,000 plants of more than 170 species, and more than 300 trees from 21 species, most grown in seven nurseries across the state; the farthest is in Watsonville, less than 300 miles up the coast. Some trees traveled even less distance: Morty, a Moreton Bay fig tree, and the Three Amigos, a group of ficus trees, pictured below, along with several palms, were preserved and rearranged on the site to fit into the new landscape. The park mixes native and non-native drought-tolerant species in zones modeled on three California ecological communities (coastal scrub, chaparral, and riparian), creating a landscape that feels familiar but avoids cliché.

Buildings

The steel cocoon-esque pavilions, pictured below, and play structures were fabricated by Paragon Steel in Los Angeles.

Furniture

Custom furniture was designed using Forest Stewardship Council–certified jarrah wood, a variety of eucalyptus usually grown in Western Australia. Off-the-shelf benches from Landscape Forms were also used.

Art

Weather Field No. 1, by Chicago-based artist Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, comprises a field of 49 stainless steel poles with weather vanes and anemometers attached.

Hardscaping

Aggregates in the hardscaping came from pits in the nearby San Gabriel Valley. Walls have California Gold rocks.

Water

Plants are irrigated by water from the Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility. Stormwater from the park is also collected in bioswales, and water features recirculate potable water in closed systems.

Transit

Tongva integrates into regional transit in some of the usual West Coast ways—there are bikeshare stations and scooter access—but it’s also just a block away from one of the Los Angeles area’s biggest transit initiatives: the LA Metro Expo Line expansion. The nearby Santa Monica Station opened three years after the park and was a part of a broader regional plan, whereas Tongva was part of a separate Santa Monica–specific urban plan.

The region’s ubiquitous car culture is also present. Tongva sits at the southern tip of the picturesque Pacific Coast Highway, which extends up the shore to Big Sur, San Francisco, and beyond, and Olympic Drive, a local three-lane street, was extended along the park’s southeastern edge.

Land

The site was previously home to the RAND Corporation headquarters, which have since relocated to a neighboring block. Housing developed by the Related Companies was built on the opposite side of the Olympic Drive extension.

Infill/Terraforming

Before being cleared for Tongva, the site was dominated by the RAND Corporation’s parking lot. To create the park’s lookouts, which rise in points to 18 feet and provide views to the Pacific Ocean, infill soil was taken from construction sites around the city, tested to ensure safety, and sculpted to create accessible slopes for the site.

Project Delivery

JCFO was selected through an international competition in which 24 teams participated. After JCFO won, there were five community workshops over six months, and the scheme was presented to six review boards and commissions before site work began in 2011. Although the scheme began as a design-bid-build project, the city turned it into a design-build project midway through the process to try to speed delivery after California revoked its TIF laws.

Maintenance

The City of Santa Monica spends just under $100,000 annually on basic maintenance, plus about $20,000 annually on tree work and $10,000 annually on custodial work.

Security

Although there is no operational security technology in the park, Santa Monica has used some unorthodox activity-based surveillance strategies. After squatters set up informal camps on the park’s western corner, city agencies arranged for a food truck to occupy that area, which has since discouraged people from living there. And on top of regular maintenance costs, the City of Santa Monica spends about $330,000 annually on “ambassadors” who staff the park, answering questions from visitors and keeping an eye on activity.

As is standard in many U.S. parks, Tongva closes at night; its hours are from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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IP Man

Unknown Works uses 3D scanning to replicate fish and chips shops in Chengdu
The London and Hong Kong-based design and research studio Unknown Works has used 3D scanning to help create a compact fish and chips shop called Scotts TKL with a folding facade in Chengdu, China. Inspired by the aesthetics of the United Kingdom’s distinctive “chippies,” the firm used Lidar scanning and photogrammetry in various fish shops, including the original Scotts in York, to capture details down to the joinery, wallpaper, and salt shakers. From these scans, the studio generated point clouds which were then processed to form models that were sent to contractors—who normally specialize in making Disney mascots and Marvel film sets—to create CNC molds that were later hand-finished. The molds were cast in white glass-reinforced plastic which join together to make a sleek facade. Since the shop is only 345 square feet, Unknown Works placed the various facade components on axes so that they can swing out when Scotts TKL is open, creating more usable space and opening the restaurant up to the street corner. Tables fold down from within the walls. Unknown Works was inspired by the idea of “Shanzhai,” a word which describes, in the words of the firm, “the act of copying and imitation that is so often indiscriminately directed at Chinese commerce.” By reimagining the distinctively British chippie for China using scans of shops back in the U.K., the studio hopes to encourage a broader dialogue about cultural exchange and the dynamics of how the U.K. and China relate to one another. Unknown Works has used 3D scanning throughout their practice, including animations inspired by the theorizations of the artist Wassily Kandinsky.