Search results for "gensler"

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Electronic Light-Emitting Orchestra

Three huge LED public art installations planned for downtown L.A.

Over the last few years, the areas around L.A. Live and the nearby Los Angeles Convention Center in Downtown Los Angeles’s South Park neighborhood have been undergoing a development boom, with mid- to high-end condominium and apartment complexes sprouting up at a steady clip. However, a new crop of projects currently either under construction or in the entitlement stages of development—dubbed Metropolis, 1020 Figueroa, Circa, and Oceanwide Plaza by developers—signal an infusion of upscale amenities headed for the area, all connected to the financial core and the rest of the city by a growing transit system, including the Long Beach–bound Blue Line and Santa Monica–bound Expo Line.

Three of the four projects mentioned above—1020 Figueroa, Circa, and Oceanwide Plaza—are to be located on the blocks directly across the street from the StaplesCenter, with the Metropolis development located a block northwest. Through their sheer density and size, they will bring a sorely missing street culture to an area that is roaring back to life.

But what will greet those pedestrians when they step off the trains and onto the streets? Walls of LED screens.

That’s because each project features large expanses of LED ribbon walls wrapping street-level commercial and leisure programs. And, to varying degrees, these ribbon walls are being programmed with art content in an effort to bring a new form of artistic expression to the street.

The Metropolis project, consisting of a multiphase, multi-tower hotel and apartment complex on a 6.33-acre site, is currently under construction, with the first phase of the project due to finish at the end of 2016. Eventually, the $1 billion-plus development will consist of four towers: Tower I will be 38 stories tall and contain 308 condominiums; Tower II will be 18 stories tall and contain a 350-room hotel; Tower III will be 40 stories tall and contain 514 condominiums; and Tower IV will be 56 stories tall and contain 736 condominiums. This project, designed by Gensler, is much further along in the construction process than the others and, as such, its arts program is starting to come into sharper focus.

The Metropolis project, like the others mentioned here, is subject to Section 22.118 of the City of Los Angeles Administrative Code, “Arts Development Fee Credits” (ADF) provision that requires commercial projects valued at $500,000 or more to pay a fee either based on the square footage of the building or equal to one percent of the project’s Department of Building and Safety permit valuation—whichever is lower—into a fund used to increase access to public art citywide. The ADF fund is administered by the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs, an arm of the city government that maintains a trust fund organized by project address to be used to fund arts initiatives at required sites, as necessary. This “one percent for the arts” approach is common in many California municipalities and is being stretched by this collection of projects to incorporate potentially new definitions of what public art might be in the city.

For Metropolis, arts consultants Isenberg & Associates partnered with project management firm DG Hunt & Associates to find suitable artists for the project. After a lengthy selection process, a team made up of digital media artists Refik Anadol and Susan Narduli was selected for the project. Their work Convergence, a 100- by 20-foot LED wall installation, will be unveiled in January of 2017 as construction on phase one wraps up, creating, the developers hope, an opportunity to introduce the project to the city and local community. Anadol and Narduli describe Convergence as “a generative construct fuelled by data and informed by aesthetics,” a synergy of Anadol’s digitally focused art practice and Narduli’s narrative-infused artwork. The duo wants the artwork—located in a plaza facing Francisco Street on the site’s eastern edge—to “create a lively public space by giving urban activities a new experiential dimension.” They plan to do this by fusing the “real-time demographic, astronomical, oceanographic, tectonic, and climate data streams, as well as social media posts, traffic, and news feeds into a constantly shifting cinematic narrative of Los Angeles.” The project was developed hand-in-hand with the architects as part of the overall design process, and is being deployed as an integrated architectural component of Metropolis.

According to the team’s statement, “Convergence explores new ways of storytelling through an intelligent platform that both expresses and responds to the spirit of the city in a seamless fusion of digital content, public space, and urban life.” The work will be available in situ for pedestrians to experience as part of the new sports and entertainment promenade the developers behind Metropolis hope to extend from L.A. Live to the upper reaches of the financial district. It will be available online, as well as via a mobile-device-friendly website accompanied by real-time audio. Experiencing the work in person will generate changes to the physical manifestation of the art, as the attendant data resulting from proximity, interaction, and occupation become woven into a living digital display.

It’s unclear what pedestrians can expect from the arts programs developed for the other three projects, but if Anadol and Narduli’s Convergence is a guide, expect more lights, more data, and perhaps most importantly, a closer relationship among architecture, digital art, and the public realm.

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Fig + Pico

New hotel towers revealed for L.A.'s booming South Park neighborhood
San Francisco–based Gensler and New York and Toronto-based Yabu Pushelberg have released renderings for the Fig + Pico development, the latest set of towers for Los Angeles’s rapidly transforming South Park neighborhood. New York-based real estate firm Lightstone Group is working on the latest scheme for the city’s entertainment district, which encompass a grouping of towers on a 1.22-acre site directly across from the Los Angeles Convention Center and rising on the same block as the Harley Ellis Devereaux-designed Circa project, which is made up of a pair of elliptical, 38-story residential towers containing 648 units. Urbanize.LA reports that according to an initial study released by the Department of City Planning, the Fig + Pico project would encompass trio of mixed-use hotel projects, with two of those hotels co-located within a 42-story tower containing a combined 820 rooms. The third hotel will be located in a 25-story tower adjacent to the tallest mass and will contain 342 rooms. Preliminary renderings contained within that report show a cluster of rectilinear, glass-clad monoliths sprouting from a mid-rise podium structure. All three towers are supported by slender, super-tall columns and are alternately oriented toward the south and west. The podium structure for the two taller masses has been designed to contain 11,000 square feet of ground floor retail spaces, as well as rooftop pool decks, conference areas, and a 353-stall parking structure while the third tower will contain 2,100 square feet of retail space among other programs. The project represents the latest addition to the city’s projected skyline, which according to proposed and currently-under-construction projects, will be steadily marching southward from the new AC Martin-designed Wilshire Grand tower toward Interstate 10 over the next few years. Just last week, Skidmore Owings & Merrill and P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S revealed designs for a crop of residential high-rise towers. Like many of the adjacent residential and hotel projects, Fig + Pico is expected to have, per the developer’s request, illuminated signage along the retail podium levels for advertising and possibly, digital public art installations, as well. Pending city approval, the project is due to break ground in late 2017 or early 2018 and will be completed by 2022.
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Year In Review 2016

2016 was god-awful, but are here are 13 feel-good stories to ring in the new year
If we're being honest, the last few weeks of 2016 were a bit horrible (particularly on the election front) but the entire year wasn't all bad! As we head into its final days, here are our favorite feel-good stories to put that warm and fuzzy feeling back in your heart. (See the rest of our Year in Review 2016 articles here.) Peter Zellner launches Free School of Architecture Architect Peter Zellner's new project, the Free School of Architecture (FSA), will launch next summer as a “tuition and salary free” school seeking to “explore the edges of architectural education.” Read AN's exclusive Q+A with Zellner here. L.A.’s expanding transit is challenging the city’s auto-urbanism In the four years since the first spur of the Expo opened, developers have begun to wake to the untapped market for transit-oriented development along the corridor, signaling a shift not only in the ways in which Angelenos get to and from work, but where and how they live their lives beyond business hours. Now that the line has been completed, development along the western length of the corridor has sped up. #SWA: Scalies with Attitude A new website that allows users to download scale figures for architectural renderings, but these aren't your average figures—all races, ages, and body types are represented. Shout out to Just Nøt The Same for making representation in architecture matter. Passive-Aggressive design: When sustainability shapes architecture Today, architects are more concerned with sustainability than ever, and new takes on old passive techniques are not only responsible, but can produce architecture that expresses sustainable features through formal exuberance. We call it “passive-aggressive.” Chicago's South Side gets a boost Artist Theaster Gates is getting $10.25 million to grow a network of art institutions. Youth on the South Side will benefit from a coordinated effort between four major donors, as well as a few private philanthropists. Ori The modular robotic home furniture from MIT's Media Lab will help you get the most of your shoebox apartment. Check out the video, above. Revisionary Ethics buildingcommunityWORKSHOP seeks to improve the livability and viability of communities through thoughtful design. Here's how. This water is so wet When downtown Lexington, Kentucky held a competition to revitalize and re-pedestrianize its concrete, car-driven downtown, New York–based SCAPE Landscape Architecture chose to reveal and celebrate its geology. Social Impact Design: The don’t be a Dick edition For some, it’s a motto to live by. One New York City–based nonprofit would like architects to design by it, too. New York City bike lane art scores high points with videogame references The New York City Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Art Program partnered this spring with nonprofit New York Cares to paint two bike lane barriers in styles that will appeal to true 90s kids.
Doing it Right: Ricardo Bofill’s Postmodern La Muralla Roja stars as backdrop for Martin Solveig music video Martin Solveig is often partial to pomo imagery in his music videos. For the French artist’s latest hit Do It Right (featuring Tkay Maidza), the accompanying music video is set at the La Muralla Roja (The Red Wall) in Alicante, southeast Spain. Designed by Catalan postmodernist Ricardo Bofill, the 1973 building made arguably as big of a splash in the industry as Solveig does in his music video.
  JGMA wins Chicago Neighborhood Development Award, immediately donates prize money As part of the 22nd annual Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards (CNDA), Chicago-based JGMA’s El Centro were awarded Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Excellence in Community Design. During moving his acceptance speech, JGMA lead Juan Moreno brought the 1500-person crowd to its feet, and many to tears, as he explained his plan for the award money. 
LEGO brutalist buildings (of course) Berlin-based LEGO enthusiast Arndt Schlaudraff is using plastic—not concrete—blocks to recreate miniature works of brutalist architecture. Using only white bricks and aided by their orthogonal nature, Schlaudraff is able to perfect the clean finishes, crisp lines, and massing often found in Brutalist architecture.
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New on the Scene

The top buildings to open this year
Here we take a look back at what—we think—were there most important buildings to open in 2016. From Mexico to Los Angeles to New York, find the this year's best builds below. (See the rest of our Year in Review 2016 articles here.) World Trade Center Transport Hub (The Oculus) Santiago Calatrava New York, New York On March 3, Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center Transit Hub opened with much anticipation and mixed reviews. AN reached out to New York’s architects, designers, and engineers to hear their thoughts on the structure. Spring Street Salt Shed WXY and Dattner Architects New York, New York Resembling exactly what it holds—a grain of salt (the building will store 5,000 tons of the stuff)—the Salt Shed climbs to 70 feet along the Hudson River where Canal Street and West Street align. The Met Breuer (restoration) Beyer Blinder Belle New York, New York The Marcel Breuer-designed building was restored and updated by an in-house design team and New York-based Beyer Blinder Belle. The Architect's Newspaper's senior editor conducted a Q&A with Jorge Otero-Pailos, Associate Professor and incoming director of the Historic Preservation program at Columbia University GSAPP to discuss the building's new look. Speed Art Museum wHY and KNBA Louisville, Kentucky After over four years of construction, Kentucky’s oldest and largest art museum reopened. Louisville’s Speed Art Museum is now nearly twice its former size. This year, the North Pavilion was completed as was the remodeling of the interior of its 1927 neoclassical building. Via 57 West Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) New York, New York BIG's first completed building in the U.S. (I know, hard to believe right?) points in the same direction as the Danish architect's seemingly inevitable trajectory: Up. Tenants began moving into the building this past March; units range from studios to four bedrooms. Bounded by 12th Avenue, West 57th Street, and West 58th Street, the development features a new pedestrian passageway that runs from north to south on the building’s eastern border. Vagelos Education Center Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Gensler New York, New York The Vagelos Education Center is filled with high-tech classrooms and facilities meant to keep Columbia University’s medical students at their field’s cutting edge. The 100,000-square-foot, 14-story tower—the tallest realized by DS+R—is one of the rare medical school facilities designed as an integral vertical structure. OE House Fake Industries Architectural Agonism and Aixopluc Alforja, Spain For this two-level dwelling in northeast Spain, located just below Barcelona, the clients wanted to be able to completely close off one “house” and then move to the other “house,” depending on the season and their current needs. National Museum of African American History and Culture Adjaye Associates, Freelon Group, Davis Brody Bond, and SmithGroupJJR Washington, D.C. Filling the last prominent spot on the National Mall—just east of the Washington Monument—the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) has proven itself a striking addition to the tapestry of monumental architecture at the heart of the nation’s capital. 3,600 bronze-painted aluminum panels clad the museum’s three-tiered structure for what is now a must-see in the city. Navy Pier James Corner Field Operations Chicago, Illinois Often cited as the most popular tourist destination in Chicago, Navy Pier celebrated its 100th anniversary this year with the completion of Phase 1 of its redevelopment. The 3,300-foot-long pier is one of the largest of its kind in the world. Torre Reforma L. Benjamin Romano Arquitectos and Arup Mexico City, Mexico New building codes were implemented after the 1985 earthquake that devastated Mexico City and now Mexican architecture practice L. Benjamin Romano Arquitectos (LBRA), working alongside working alongside engineering firm Arup’s New York office, has produced an earthquake-resistant skyscraper designed to last 2,500 years. John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Machado Silvetti Sarasota, FL The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, part of a historic 66-acre estate in Sarasota, Florida has received a striking new pavilion designed by Machado Silvetti to house new gallery and multi-purpose lecture space. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) Snøhetta San Francisco, California This 10-story, 235,000-square-foot expansion by Norwegian firm Snohetta is set back from the original SFMOMA Mario Botta-designed structure, adding a funny hat to an already funnily hatted building. The museum opened on May 14 to much aplomb. Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art SO-IL and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Davis, California The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Arts opened in Davis, California on November 13. Its iconic roof structure “channels the intense light of the region into constantly changing shadows and silhouettes that animate one of the museum’s primary gathering spaces, the entrance plaza.” University of Iowa Visual Arts Building Steven Holl Architects Iowa City, Iowa The new Visual Arts Building for the University of Iowa’s School of Art and Art History, which replaced a 1936 building that was heavily damaged by a flood, provides 126,000 square feet of loft-like studio space for all visual arts disciplines by utilizing both traditional techniques and advanced technologies. Jerome L. Greene Science Center of Columbia University Renzo Piano Building Workshop New York, New York Described by Piano as a "factory, exploring the secret of the mind, the brain, and behavior," the science center officially opens in January 2017 but was completed in October this year. Rising to nine stories, the 450,000-square-foot building will be home to Columbia’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. Approximately 900 scientists will occupy the facility making use of the flexible teaching facilities available.
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Leaving the Big City

Goodbye New York: AN picks the best projects outside the Big Three
The Architect's Newspaper (AN) has editors in New York, Chicago, and L.A., but we're not city snobs. With a network of regional writers from Baltimore to Dallas, Seattle to Phoenix, our mission is to cover projects everywhere in North America—and in 2016, we printed far-flung stories that usually fly under the radar. Check out our 15 favorite projects below. (See the rest of our Year in Review 2016 articles here.) WORKac Arizona House revives the Earthship typology “The desert house typology reached an ending point where it became all about overhangs and metal—a common vocabulary of what a desert house should be,” said Dan Wood, principal of WORKac. “We felt like that needed to be renewed.” The Memphis Movement A slew of new developments suggest Memphis, long plagued by high rates of poverty and unemployment, is on the up-and-up, but is the city really rebounding? Gensler designs a new vision for the unloved Milwaukee Post Office The long, low-slung Milwaukee Post Office is not a popular building, but Gensler's forthcoming revamp will inject much-needed vitality into the more-or-less dead space. Basket builders vacate Ohio’s famous basket building After nearly twenty years, the Longaberger Company, maker of wooden baskets, will be moving out of its trademark Longaberger Medium Market Basket–shaped building in Newark, Ohio. What will happen to the building? $1.9 billion Las Vegas Raiders stadium clears penultimate hurdle The odds for the Oakland Raiders football team’s relocation to Las Vegas are looking very good right about now. Not OKC See what's happening to John Johansen’s Mummers Theater in Oklahoma City. Ford begins work on new $1.2 billion campus in Michigan When Ford Motor Company took stock of its current 60-year-old Dearborn, Michigan, facilities, it became clear that the only way forward would be to take a big leap into two new high-tech campuses. Spearheading the master plans is the Detroit office of SmithGroupJJR. When completed, the estimated $1.2 billon, ten-year project will involve moving 30,000 employees from 70 buildings into a Product Campus and a Headquarters Campus. Throughout the project, the entire campus will also have to stay 100 percent operational. New renderings revealed for ambitious, highway-capping park in Atlanta Buckhead Park Over GA400 is a new park typology for the city. Like most great public places, it’s about creating a series of scaled experiences” for visitors, explained Rob Rogers, principal at Rogers Partners and one of the park's lead designers. The Mexico City designers forging a new path beyond modernism By combining high-design references with homespun folk art, the city's designers are able to create works that are contemporary, but also contextual and artisanal, and that speak to the contested and refined realities of their home city. With a grab bag of contemporary stylistic influences coupled with the methodical pedagogy of their elders, the current generation of designers is quickly moving past the orthodoxy of the city’s Modernismo traditions toward new enterprises that blend design, architecture, and furniture. This year the city hosted Design Week Mexico, and it will be the WorldDesign Capital in 2018—the sixth in the program and the first North American city to be named as such. Shelburne Farms Old Dairy Barn, a Vermont landmark, destroyed by fire Sadly, Vermont lost one of its agrarian and architectural landmarks in September when the historic Old Dairy Barn at Shelburne Farms was destroyed by fire. Saving the Columbus Occupational Health Association Columbus, Indiana is small Midwestern city filled with buildings designed by Eliel Saarinen, Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Kevin Roche, Richard Meier, Harry Weese, César Pelli, Gunnar Birkerts, Robert Venturi, Robert Stern, and many others. Now, its 1973 health center, designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates (HHPA) is for sale. Despite its wealth of modern architecture and a forthcoming biennale, the town has no formal preservation laws, so a sale could mean the destruction or thoughtless modification of this important building. Jean Nouvel eyeing North Adams The home of MassMoCA and the future home of Gluckman Tang's Extreme Model Railroad Museum may be getting a master plan by none other than Jean Nouvel. Residents say Celebration, FL is ruined by mold and shoddy construction Although the Walt Disney Company hired a cadre of leading architects to design Celebration, Florida, the sloppy construction of homes in the theme town is driving residents to grief and financial trouble.
Dallas–Fort Worth Branch Waters Network dovetails with rapid development Architect Kevin Sloan thinks American conceptions of planning and notions of “nature” need to be challenged. His Branch Waters Network project in Dallas aims to do just that. 
A torrent of new projects are reshaping Staten Island Okay, okay—Staten Island is part of New York City, but even in a city of islands, the borough gets no love. Islanders voted to secede in 1993, and city officials say it's too far for nice things like bikeshares. Nevertheless, AN visited this spring to check out some new developments shaping the Forgotten Borough.
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Mounts Olympia

Trio of high-rise towers announced for Downtown L.A.
Architects Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill (SOM), P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S, and developer City Century have unveiled renderings for a trio of high-rise, mixed-use towers in Downtown Los Angeles’s bustling entertainment district. The newly-revealed mega-project is called Olympia and is billed to include 1,367 residential units, 40,000 square feet of retail space, and 115,000 square feet of open space. Those programmatic components will be distributed across a trio of towers rising 43-, 53-, and 65-stories in height that will be positioned over a 3.25-acre site at the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Georgia Street. The project will be sandwiched between the L.A. Live sports and entertainment complex and the Gensler-designed Metropolis mega-development, a similar mixed-use project containing luxury housing and shopping amenities. The Olympia project is being designed by SOM and P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S and will feature glass-clad residential floors with over-sized floor plates expressed across the facades of the rectilinear towers. Those floorplates shift in and out at various intervals and contain outdoor amenity spaces at various heights. Stuart Morkun, executive vice president of City Century is quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying, “We’re seeing opportunities in L.A. as the entertainment, media and fashion hub. There is a growing desire by a new generation of professionals who want an urban lifestyle. Downtown can provide that.” The project is one of many luxury, mixed-use, high-rise complexes going up in the immediate area, with the aforementioned Metropolis project, the Harley Ellis Devereaux-designed Circa, and CallisonRTKL-designed Oceanwide Plaza projects being but a few of the developments currently in the works along the blocks immediately surrounding the L.A. Live complex. Developers for the project expect for the entitlement process to play out over the next 18 months with a four-year construction timeline to come afterward. The developer has not announced whether the units will be for sale or rent.
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Crème de la Crème

Our Buildings of the Year and other Best of Design Awards-winning projects
The Architect’s Newspaper (AN)’s inaugural 2013 Best of Design Awards featured six categories. Since then, it's grown to 26 exciting categories. As in years past, jury members (Erik Verboon, Claire Weisz, Karen Stonely, Christopher Leong, Adrianne Weremchuk, and AN Senior Editor Matt Shaw) were picked for their expertise and high regard in the design community. They based their judgments on evidence of innovation, creative use of new technology, sustainability, strength of presentation, and, most importantly, great design. We want to thank everyone for their continued support and eagerness to submit their work to the Best of Design Awards.  Scroll below to see this year's winners! Click through to see plenty of images, the honorable mentions, and why the jury picked each project. We'd like to congratulate the winners and hope you can submit your work for consideration next year. (See the rest of our Year in Review 2016 articles here.) 2016 Building of the Year > Midwest: University of Iowa Visual Arts Building by Steven Holl Architects 2016 Building of the Year > East: Grace Farms by SANAA 2016 Building of the Year > Southwest: U.S. Air Force Academy Center for Character and Leadership Development by SOM 2016 Building of the Year > West: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Expansion by Snøhetta 2016 Best of Design Award in Landscape > Private: Modern Vineyard by Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture 2016 Best of Design Award in Architectural Lighting > Outdoor: SteelStacks Campus by L’Observatoire International 2016 Best of Design Award for Young Architects: Steven Christensen Architecture 2016 Best of Design Award in Facade: Vagelos Education Center by DS+R with Gensler 2016 Best of Design Award in Building Renovation: The Strand American Conservatory Theater by SOM 2016 Best of Design Award in Digital Fabrication: XOCO 325 by DDG 2016 Best of Design Award for Student Work: Sensory Pavilion by Dirt Works Studio, University of Kansas 2016 Best of Design Award for Temporary Installation: Rounds by SPORTS 2016 Best of Design Award for Lighting > Indoor: Planned Parenthood Queens by Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design 2016 Best of Design Award for Interior > Residential: Clinton Hill Courtyard House by O'Neill McVoy Architects 2016 Best of Design Award for Landscape > Public: Lower Rainier Vista & Pedestrian Land Bridge by GGN 2016 Best of Design Award for Interior > Retail/Hospitality: In Situ by Aidlin Darling Design 2016 Best of Design Award for Interior > Workplace: Square, Inc. HQ by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson 2016 Best of Design Award for Residential > Multi-Unit: 400 Grove by Fougeron Architecture 2016 Best of Design Award for Residential > Single Unit: Underhill by Bates Masi + Architects 2016 Best of Design Award for Urban Design: Chicago Riverwalk, Phase 2 by Ross Barney Architects and Sasaki Associates 2016 Best of Design Award for Architectural Representation > Digital: Nine Drawings, Seven Models by NEMESTUDIO 2016 Best of Design Award for Architectural Representation > Analog: Welcome to the 5th Facade by Olson Kundig 2016 Best of Design Award for Adaptive Reuse: National Sawdust by Bureau V 2016 Best of Design Award for Adaptive Restoration: The Cotton Gin at The Co-Op District by Antenora 2016 Best of Design Award for Civic Institution: Architecture of Buffalo Bayou Park by Page 2016 Best of Design Award for Unbuilt > In the Drawers: University of Miami Student Housing Master Plan, Phase 1 by CO Architects 2016 Best of Design Award for Unbuilt > On the Boards: The Menokin Project by Machado Silvetti How Synthesis Design + Architecture and Formlabs crafted this year’s Best of Design Awards Grand Prize. (Courtesy Formlabs) How Synthesis Design + Architecture and Formlabs crafted this year’s Best of Design Awards Grand Prize. (Courtesy Formlabs) How Synthesis Design + Architecture and Formlabs crafted this year’s Best of Design Awards Grand Prize    
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Go Big, Go Home

Pei Cobb Freed & Partners breaks ground on renovation and addition to Yamasaki's Century Plaza Hotel in L.A.
New York–based Pei Cobb Freed & Partners broke ground this month on a $2.5 billion development aimed at retrofitting and expanding the Minoru Yamasaki-designed Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles’s Century City business district. The project will convert the existing 16-story, 726-room hotel structure from 1966 into a luxury development with 394 high-end suites and 63 condominium residences. The elliptically-shaped hotel will be revamped by firms Gensler and Marmol Radziner, with the latter firm focusing on the historic restoration components of the project. The hotel has a rich history and was used as a stopover for visiting dignitaries during its heyday, including presidents Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan. The building was also the site of violently-quelled anti-Vietnam war protests in 1967. Pei Cobb Freed & Partners has designed a pair of 46-story, 600-foot tall Reuleaux triangle-shaped glass towers containing 290 luxury condominiums to flank the historic structure. Los Angeles—based architects Harley Ellis Devereaux are acting as Architect of Record for the residences contained within the glass-clad towers. The towers feature masonry-clad plinths at their base and are covered in repetitive, scalloped-edge balconies in deference to the Yamasaki-designed building’s distinctive facade. Rios Clementi Hale Studios (RCH Studios) is providing landscape design for the project; the firm aims to connect the new towers to the existing building via an elaborate series of landscaped shopping terraces. The shopping areas are designed to pull through the hotel’s interior from Avenue of the Stars, the major boulevard bounding the southern edge of the site. RCH Studios has laid the site out symmetrically around the center of the Yamasaki tower with wrap-around walkways and shaded areas connecting a proposed subway stop along the forthcoming Purple Line extension with the terraced areas at the feet of the towers. Plans for the redevelopment scheme were approved in 2013 as developers Next Century Associates—who originally wanted to demolish the 50-year old hotel—and preservationists clashed over the plans. The preservationists eventually won out when the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the hotel to its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places for that year, bringing a public spotlight to the project and causing the developers to change course. Construction for the project is expected to finish in 2019.
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Beach Party

L.A.’s Playa Vista is becoming “Silicon Beach” and plays host to top architecture firms

The Playa Vista neighborhood on Los Angeles’s west side is quickly becoming Southern California’s answer to Silicon Valley, as it plays host to a growing contingent of technology-focused companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube, and WeWork. And as capital, brainpower, and new residents flow into the area, so too have big-name architecture firms with high-minded designs.

The Playa Vista tract was originally owned by airline mogul Howard Hughes, who used the ocean-adjacent expanse as the manufacturing facility and airstrip where he built his famous Hercules (Spruce Goose) airplane. President Bill Clinton designated the 1.3-square-mile area as one of six national pilot projects of the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing in 1998, and the property began its redevelopment as a mixed-use neighborhood in 2002. In the years since, the 460-acre area, partially master-planned by Los Angeles–based Moule & Polyzoides, has seen its population boom to over 10,000 residents. In recent years, the area has gained the moniker “Silicon Beach,” as technology companies originally based in the nearby communities of Venice and Santa Monica have outgrown their initial outposts, expanding the technology industry’s footprint southward.

Last year, Google signed on to lease 319,000 square feet of space in the Hercules Campus, a complex redeveloped by Brenda Levin and Associates and EPT Design for the Ratkovich Company, including the 200- by 700-foot Hercules building in which Spruce Goose was designed. The team restored the building, adding pedestrian-oriented amenities to the complex while also converting the historic structure into a series of soundstages and tech-friendly offices.

Michael Maltzan Architecture, which designed the eight-acre Playa Vista Central Park in 2010 with Office of James Burnett (OJB), is adding a new 425,300 square foot office complex called The Brickyard. The Brickyard is also beind developed with OJB. The new complex, currently under construction, will feature partially-sunken landscaped parking areas that aim to extend the park outward into the office zones. The office structures, articulated as a maze of stacked, shifted, and offset volumes, are made up of two principal masses: one long office block that bends at two elbows in order to frame the aforementioned parking deck and a singular, six-story office tower. Both buildings feature punched openings as well as a variety of delicately-articulated access points that connect the parking and ground-level areas with what’s above. The complex will include a 9,000-square-foot daycare facility and will help fulfill Playa Vista’s goal of becoming a full-service neighborhood.

Gensler has also been busy at Playa Vista, undertaking the architectural repositioning of four existing office spaces in its Playa Jefferson complex. Vantage Property Investors has announced a tech-focused project dubbed “Building E,” which will encompass another large office structure designed for creative collaboration. The structure, undertaken with 360 Construction Group and AHBE Landscape Architects, will bring 200,000 square feet of open plan creative office space to the district, with large expanses of glass, terraced floor plates, and a cantilevered anchor office space. Li Wen, design director and principal at Gensler, detailed several key aspects of the design, including “side-core configurations that allow open floorplates, direct access to and abundance of private outdoor space, operable windows, sawtooth skylights, thinner floorplates for natural ventilation and deep penetration of natural light, and flat slab construction that provides for 13-foot ceiling heights.” The ocean-oriented project is located adjacent to the “lifestyle amenity-rich” Runway at Playa Vista Apartments by Johnson Fain.

Last but not least, Shimoda Design Group and OJB completed work in 2015 on The Collective, a 200,150-square-foot, LEED Gold office park complex designed for Tishman Speyer that features five two-story buildings clad in distinctive, tilt-up concrete panels (seen at the top of the article). These panels, interspersed with expanses of glass, are topped by zigzagging, metal-clad roofs. The campus connects the humdrum of office life directly to the adjacent outdoor areas via a series of landscaped paths, bringing in the sensitive Ballona and Bluff Creek wetlands that run alongside Playa Vista’s northern and southern edges. With new lease agreements being signed almost by the day and the careful, meticulous process of filling in the district’s vacant parcels fully underway, Playa Vista looks more and more like a sure bet for L.A.’s growing roster of creative offices spaces.

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71Above

Peek inside the new restaurant and cocktail bar almost 1,000 feet above L.A.

With the recent completion of a Gensler-led renovation to the building’s lobby and uppermost floors, the addition of a terrifying glass slide by M. Ludvik Engineering, and the opening of 71Above, a smart restaurant and cocktail bar designed by Los Angeles–based Tag Front, L.A. suddenly has reason to reconsider what might be one of the city’s most easily overlooked landmarks: the U.S. Bank Tower.

The 1,018-foot stepped skyscraper at the heart of the city’s central business district was built in 1989 and designed by Henry N. Cobb of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. Its 73 stories culminate in a flat-topped, multilevel penthouse suite formerly occupied by a boardroom. In recent years, the tower has struggled with high vacancy rates and the dramatic renovation comes as the building’s new owners, Overseas Union Enterprise Limited (OUE) aims to reinstate the building in the public’s mind.

Central to that effort is the Tag Front–led design for 71Above, located in the uppermost floor of that ex-board room. The overhaul has transformed a prototypical office building into a contemporary and noteworthy spot and modernized the spiky, crenelated cap sitting atop what is now—with the recent topping-out of the Wilshire Grand tower—L.A.’s second-tallest building. As a result, 71Above has been added to the city’s collection of remarkable spaces; there all can enjoy the tower’s panoramic views.

Tag Front described the project’s guiding principles as encompassing “the existing nature of the building, [the space’s] footprint, and the client’s desire for the dining and lounge areas to wrap around the entire building.” The space features wraparound atmospheric vistas thanks to special high-tech glass developed by SageGlass that very slightly changes opacity as the sun moves across the sky, minimizing heat and glare within the space and removing the need for view-blocking draperies.

The self-shading windows are framed by expanses of thin wood-panel piers suspended from the facade. These piers lurch forward at the molding line, pivot out over the dining room, and accentuate each aperture. In some areas, the panels conceal collapsible partitions that can be pulled out to make private dining rooms. Along a central area, the same wood paneling is used to frame the restaurant’s wine collection.

The ceiling spanning between these two areas, however, is a testament to the union of geometric articulation and functionality. Here, Tag Front installed a ceiling configuration, developed by architectural-products manufacturer Arktura specifically for the project, that consists of a hexagonally shaped grid of woven baffles made of recycled plastic that dampen sound. This arrangement complements the city stretching out just over the precipice, mimicking what, from nearly a thousand feet above, looks like an orderly, gridded urban expanse.

According to Tag Front, the design team focused on the spatial and acoustical qualities of the ceiling from the beginning of the project. “After going through five or six different types of solutions and modeling each one [using 3-D software], we finally decided on the hexagonal, cellular baffle ceiling,” Tag Front explained. “We felt that due to its nature, the hexagonal cells were able to adapt to the complex, circular, and faceted geometries of the building in a much more interesting way, filling most of the space with their detailed, ornate nature and at the same time leaving strategic voids where the hexagonal brass chandeliers were suspended below them.”

Tag Front explained that Arktura had been experimenting with repeated acoustical baffle modules suspended from thin-gauge wire to create a flexible, unobtrusive, and highly functional ceiling made of recycled materials. “We came across a miniature mock-up version of one and pushed them and the client to make it into an oversize version and a suspension system that also allowed the cells to move up and down vertically along with the cellular horizontal movement,” the architects said. “Everything evolved from that moment.”

In the end, the team of designers, fabricators, and carpenters came together to create a space that is relatively novel for the city: one of the few observation-deck-level restaurants not perched on a mountainside.

Resources

Structural Engineering Services Nabih Youssef Associates

Ceiling Assembly Arktura

Glasswork

Altered Glass (213) 327-2016

Exterior Windows SageGlass

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Casting Call

2016 Best of Design Award in Digital Fabrication: XOCO 325 by DDG
The Architect’s Newspaper (AN)’s inaugural 2013 Best of Design Awards featured six categories. Since then, it's grown to 26 exciting categoriesAs in years past, jury members (Erik Verboon, Claire Weisz, Karen Stonely, Christopher Leong, Adrianne Weremchuk, and AN’s Matt Shaw) were picked for their expertise and high regard in the design community. They based their judgments on evidence of innovation, creative use of new technology, sustainability, strength of presentation, and, most importantly, great design. We want to thank everyone for their continued support and eagerness to submit their work to the Best of Design Awards. We are already looking forward to growing next year’s coverage for you. 2016 Best of Design Award in Digital Fabrication: XOCO 325

Architect: DDG Location: New York, NY

Acting as design architect, developer, and general contractor, DDG developed a custom, cast-aluminum screen using 3-D modeling software and state-of-the-art hardware. A burlap texture was hand-applied to the set of 12 repeating components before the sand-cast molds were made and the finished components cast. The resulting sinewy surface creates dialogue with the cast iron historic buildings of the area.

Executive Architect HTO Architect

Structural Engineer Severud Associates Fabricator Walla Walla Foundry RenShape Foundry Pattern & Tooling Board Freeman Manufacturing & Supply Company Aluma Black Birchwood Casey

Honorable Mention, Digital Fabrication: Northeastern University Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex

Architect: Payette Location: Boston, MA

The Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex at Northeastern University is a high-performance research building with a triple-glazed curtain wall and solar veil to help the building exceed 2030 energy savings goals.

Honorable Mention, Digital Fabrication: FilzFelt LINK

Architect: Gensler Location: Los Angeles, CA

Originally created as a one-time solution for Gensler’s Los Angeles office, the company recognized its wider possibilities and partnered with FilzFelt to produce a flexible modular panel system that adds texture and color to an environment while serving as a privacy screen, shade system, room divider, and acoustical element.

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Stacking Up

2016 Best of Design Award in Facade: Vagelos Education Center by DS+R with Gensler

The Architect’s Newspaper (AN)’s inaugural 2013 Best of Design Awards featured six categories. Since then, it's grown to 26 exciting categoriesAs in years past, jury members (Erik Verboon, Claire Weisz, Karen Stonely, Christopher Leong, Adrianne Weremchuk, and AN’s Matt Shaw) were picked for their expertise and high regard in the design community. They based their judgments on evidence of innovation, creative use of new technology, sustainability, strength of presentation, and, most importantly, great design. We want to thank everyone for their continued support and eagerness to submit their work to the Best of Design Awards. We are already looking forward to growing next year’s coverage for you.

2016 Best of Design Award in Facade: The Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center at Columbia University

Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro with Gensler Location: New York, NY

This state-of-the-art medical and graduate education building at Columbia University embraces how medicine is taught, learned, and practiced in the 21st century. The facility rethinks the conventional stacked floor plate typology of high-rise buildings by complementing traditional classroom and laboratory spaces at the north side of the building with a network of social and collaborative study alcoves that connect via a cascading open staircase on its south side. By combining this with a range of sustainable features, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Gensler have created a forward-looking training ground for future healthcare practitioners.

Facade Consultant BuroHappold

Structural Engineer Leslie E. Roberston Associates Curtain Wall Fabricator/Installer Josef Gartner, Permasteelisa Group Glass BGT Bischoff Glastechnik AG Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) David Kucera, Inc.

Honorable Mention, Facade: 371 Broadway

Architect: ODA New York Location: New York, NY

To balance this building’s modern appeal with the old world aesthetics of its environment, ODA New York reinterpreted Tribeca’s cast-iron typology with curving, basket-weave brick that expresses a similar scale to that of its pre-war neighbors.

Honorable Mention, Facade: USTA Grandstand Stadium

Architect: Rossetti Location: Queens, NY

The stadium facade is composed of 486 individual Teflon-coated fiberglass membranes that vary in opacity and translucence, offering glimpses in and out of the stadium as if through foliage.