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Concrete Paradise

Paul Rudolph’s Milam Residence splashes onto the market

Paul Rudolph’s Milam Residence, located in Ponte Vedra Beach outside of Jacksonville, Florida, has hit the market for $4,445,000, according to the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation. Built from 1959 to 1961 and situated on just over two acres of land, the property boasts 6,800 square feet of living space, a swimming pool, and a guest house separated by a central courtyard. Between the two residences, there are five bedrooms, five bathrooms, and two half-bathrooms. Other amenities include central air-conditioning and an in-ground sprinkler system.

Perhaps the Milam Residence’s most distinctive feature is its eastern frontage, which faces the Atlantic Ocean. A series of rectangular concrete block extrusions extend outward from the houses’s windows, adding a 3D depth effect to the facade and distinguishing the building from its neighbors. The hard edges of the structure contrast markedly with the softness of the surrounding beach, helping the house stand out as a local landmark.

As Rudolph’s only building in northeastern Florida, the home has remained in the hands of the Milam family since attorney Arthur Milam originally commissioned the project in the late 1950s. At the time, Rudolph was still in the incipient stages of a career that would be defined by some of the most renowned concrete and modernist designs in the country, including the Yale School of Architecture’s Paul Rudolph Hall in 1963. In a move that reflects both the architect’s renown and growing interest in the preservation of modernist buildings as unique cultural artifacts, the Milam Residence was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016. With an eye toward the future of the property, the Milam family is searching for a buyer who understands the home’s architectural significance and recognizes this as an opportunity not just to live by the sea, but to own a piece of history that needs to be properly cared for.

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Six in the Mix

RIBA announces the 2019 Stirling Prize shortlist
Today, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) announced their six projects shortlisted for the 2019 Stirling Prize, an annual award given to the U.K.'s most stellar new structure. The nominated schemes include two residential projects: the Cork House, an adaptive reuse of a historic mill building designed by Matthew Barnett Howland with Dido Milne and Oliver Wilton for themselves, that, as its name suggests, is made almost entirely of cork (pictured below). The other is Goldsmith Street in Norwich, England, a seven-block development of row houses with traditional massing and Passivhaus certification. The project, pictured below, was executed by architect Mikhail Riches with Cathy Hawley, while MPH Architects (along with a team that included The Bartlett School of Architecture UCL and Arup) completed Cork House.   On the public-facing side, three cultural projects made the list this year. London's Feilden Fowles Architects delivered the Weston, a new visitor center and gallery for the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, an open-air museum founded in 1977 on an 18th-century estate. The stretched-out structure's facade is made of concrete mixed from local aggregates and banded out to create a sedimentary rock–like effect. Meanwhile, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners dreamed up a visitor center for a very different client, pictured above and at top. Macallan, the scotch producer, received a distillery tour facility in Moray, Scotland, with a wild timber gridshell roof that connects to the property's 18th-century laird's home. At a smaller scale, London's Witherford Watson Mann Architects hid the Nevill Holt Opera in the yard between existing historic stables. On the inside, the arrangement of the hall's cladding dialogues with the stable joists behind the structure, and the pattern reinforces a scheme to make young singers' voices more resonant. Rounding out the list is the largest project, Grimshaw's almost 930,000-square-foot London Bridge regional rail station, which enlarged the main concourse but preserved original Victorian arches elsewhere in the building. Last year, the Stirling Prize went to Foster + Partners' Bloomberg project, the London headquarters for the American financial and media company founded by former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Like in years prior, this year's shortlist will be, according to RIBA " judged against a range of criteria including design vision; innovation and originality; capacity to stimulate, engage and delight occupants and visitors; accessibility and sustainability; how fit the building is for its purpose and the level of client satisfaction." The 2019 winners will be announced at a ceremony on October 8.
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Library to critics: Shh!

The internet is up in arms over tank-like Edmonton Public Library
As the redesigned Stanley A. Milner Library in downtown Edmonton, Canada creeps closer to its 2020 completion date, residents of the city have begun to express concerns that the project won't end up as advertised. The building, which sits downtown and serves as the central branch of the Edmonton Public Library system, has prompted an online backlash after photos of the construction site began circulating in the last few days, with many on Twitter comparing the library to a tank or cruise ship.

The complaints have focused primarily on the structure's external appearance, which currently resembles something less graceful than a flagship library branch. It has been compared to everything from a naval destroyer to a fall-out shelter, with some simply calling the building “ugly,” and have laid the blame at the recladding led by Toronto's Teeple Architects. Others have been quick to contrast the Edmonton design to its neighbor to the north, Calgary’s brand new public library, which opened to great fanfare late last year. Executed by Snøhetta and DIALOG, the Calgary project was popular with the general public and remained consistent from renderings through realization, leaving some Edmontonians to wonder what went wrong in their own city.

The design for the new Stanley Milner Library calls for a complete remodeling of the original building. An Asgard zinc cladding is being used on the exterior, much of which is still covered in protective plastic wrapping. Strips of new windows will perforate the outer walls to allow significantly more natural light into the building’s interior spaces. The refreshed facility, which has been closed since December 2016 and is set to open next February, will boast considerably more space for the children’s library, a new venue for Indigenous ceremonies, and improved amenities for audio recording and play. As of right now, though, the sparkly new object promised to Edmontonians in the project’s initial renderings seems duller than expected, and the design has changed considerably over time. Twitter users are correct to notice that certain changes have been made. Structural issues and budget constraints early on prompted Teeple to remove or shrink some of the windows and focus their efforts on interior spaces and services—arguably the most important part of the project. But Pilar Martinez, CEO of the Edmonton Public Library, has joined city architect Carol Belanger and Mayor Don Iveson in urging patience for the public. The building’s appearance, they insist, will improve as it comes closer to completion. Protective materials will be removed, lights will be switched on, people will fill the space, and the full effect of the original design as represented in the drawings will be realized.

“It’s going to be amazing,” Martinez told Global News Canada. She may very well be right, and the controversy at hand may be little more than a distant memory by February, but at this stage in construction, residents can do little more than trust the process.

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Shoot for the Stars

Hawaii to begin construction on Northern Hemisphere’s largest telescope

After a series of legal battles spanning several years, the Hawaiian state government will officially allow construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) to begin next week. Governor David Ige and other state officials announced that heavy machinery will be moved to the project site atop the Big Island’s famous Mauna Kea volcano starting on Monday.

Upon completion, the TMT will be the largest telescope in the Northern Hemisphere and the most powerful of Mauna Kea’s 13 observatories. The observatory will match the height of an 18-story building and its dome will have a span equivalent to two-thirds of a football field. Official estimates place its cost at around $1.4 billion, though some astronomers have predicted the project could reach $2 billion.

The state’s decision to move forward with the TMT project comes amid continuing objection from activists seeking to protect Mauna Kea from more large-scale construction. Some Native Hawaiians have been particularly vocal, arguing that the telescope will contribute to the volcano's environmental degradation and impede Indigenous people’s access to the sacred land. Opponents of the TMT have used a variety of tactics to prevent the construction of the telescope. In 2014, protesters blocked roads to the site and disrupted a groundbreaking ceremony. After a coalition of land-use activists and non-profit organizations filed a lawsuit against the state for approving the telescope without allowing locals to voice concerns, the Hawaiian Supreme Court rescinded the TMT International Observatory’s building permit in 2015.

While a poll issued by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser last year showed majority support for the project among Native Hawaiians, the telescope’s past legal troubles highlight the complexity of land stewardship on Mauna Kea. According to state law, the volcano is held in trust by the Hawaiian government and must be preserved for usage by future generations of Hawaiians. As part of the deal allowing for the TMT’s construction, the state will permanently close and dismantle five smaller observatories on the Big Island so that their sites can be fully rehabilitated.

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Tatooine Vernacular

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

The Rockefeller Foundation nixed its resilient cities program. Now it's launching a new one
Elizabeth Yee, who served as 100RC's Vice President of Resilience Finance for five years, will be joining the Climate and Resilience initiative as the managing director. Before landing at 100RC, she worked in public finance at Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, and Barclays. "Rapid changes in climate are exposing global citizens to unpredictable risks, and there is an increasing need to leverage data and technology to ensure we make informed decisions, and design and deliver solutions that improve the resilience of communities," said Yee in a prepared statement. "Continuing to support the 100RC Network is a core part of our ability to understand and tackle these immense challenges, which require creative, blended capital solutions to address at scale." The Climate and Resilience initiative will facilitate grants for disaster recovery, and will tie into the foundation's long-term work in health, food, energy, and, per the press release, the "expansion of US economic opportunities." Last month CityLab reported that part of the reason for 100RC's dissolution was that The Rockefeller Foundation wanted to drop around $5 or $6 million on the program annually, not the $30 to $40 million it was spending. Beyond money, the foundation didn't quite know how to measure the results of its investments, particularly the Chief Resilience Officers (CROs). The CROs are a network of professionals who oversee resilience capacity-building in member cities' governments whose salaries were paid by 100RC. The Climate and Resilience initiative will continue to cut checks for CROs, but as of now, it is unclear how long the initiative will be funded.
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Maybe?

New York's public housing is in crisis. Can architects design the way out?
The Regional Plan Association (RPA) has selected architects Miriam Peterson and Nathan Rich of Peterson Rich Office (PRO) to dream up housing and maintenance strategies for New York City’s deteriorating public housing for the nonprofit planning think tank’s newly-funded chair of urban design. The joint appointment will give the pair the opportunity to build on past work that reimagined the New York City Housing Authority's (NYCHA) developments. It’s a tall order to step into a project that’s supposed to help NYCHA, the landlord for 400,000 New Yorkers, though it’s not necessarily the number of tenants that poses a challenge. The authority has been strangled by decades of under-investment, hobbled by long-running scandals, and faces an estimated $45 million backlog for repairs and capital projects. A December 2018 RPA report stated that maintaining the status quo of broken-down buildings could cost the city an additional $700 million every year that maintenance is deferred. The funding options for public housing are scarce, but nascent development plans aim to fill the gap created by missing funds at the federal level. Over the past five years, PRO has delivered concepts for building out the roofs of NYCHA high-rises and the transforming parking lots that surround the towers into units that scale to the size of two contiguous parking spaces. This time, PRO will have more financial resources and access to RPA experts at their disposal, allowing them to explore housing provision and maintenance in-depth.  While Peterson and Rich have a year to develop a book of scalable public housing concepts, RPA—not NYCHA—is PRO’s primary client. Moses Gates, RPA's vice president for Housing and Neighborhood Development, confirmed that NYCHA is not a partner on the project. He added that the no-NYCHA approach aligns with the organization’s usual M.O. of giving experts free rein to explore ideas that might not be feasible within an agency’s framework. Richard Kaplan, the architect who endowed the chair at RPA, gave the organization the funds so it could focus some of its efforts on urban design. Gates emphasized that here, and with subsequent Kaplan chairs, the architects' ideas are springboards for future action, not prescriptions. For inspiration, Rich told The Architect's Newspaper that they’re looking to London, where public (social) housing is similar in age and design to many NYCHA projects and has similarly struggled with disinvestment. But, unlike centralized NYCHA, London social housing is delivered on a borough-by-borough basis. Borough councils may act as developers, borrowing money against the value of their assets to build market-rate housing that subsidizes the upkeep of social housing units. That approach fits in with an emerging strategy in New York, where the city is entertaining plans to sell air rights and underutilized developable land in certain NYCHA projects to generate revenue for the cash-strapped agency. In a press release, the RPA stated that PRO’s mandate is to deliver ideas that will “bring NYCHA into financial solvency, while better integrating NYCHA into the surrounding communities.” Housing projects in New York are islands, separated spatially—and often socially—from their surroundings, especially in neighborhoods that are whiter and wealthier. From Chelsea to Canarsie, NYCHA stewards the largest portfolio of affordable housing within the five boroughs: If NYCHA residents had their own city, it would be larger than New Orleans, Cleveland, or Pittsburg. However, chronic mismanagement has impaired the agency’s ability to provide safe affordable housing. Last year, the New York Times reported that NYCHA officials routinely disputed the results of lead paint tests in its apartments and exposed children to the dangerous heavy metal. Elsewhere, thousands of families contend with vermin infestations and repair requests that go unanswered. The shameful conditions in the developments, as well as the opportunity to rework the modernist tower-in-the-park paradigm, make NYCHA housing a prime target for architects and planners looking for a do-good project. Most white-collar urbanists, however, have never lived in public housing, nor do they have personal connections to the projects beyond observing them from the sidewalk or reading about them in the paper. Designers also have to contend with a real fear on the part of some NYCHA residents that new development will catalyze displacement and spur neighborhood-wide gentrification. Under these conditions, how can a firm that’s best known for designing art galleries and high-end homes effectively design with, or for New Yorkers who live in public housing? First and foremost, Rich said, PRO intends to address immediate needs, like the mold that afflicts tenants in some developments and heating systems that fail in the dead of winter. This will be the firm’s first go at spearheading a community consultation, so they intend to collaborate with RPA-affiliates to help organize and guide the process.  “It’s just crucial that residents have buy-in during the process and into the project,” said Peterson. “We’re thinking about phasing, how to create a process that sets a project up for success.” RPA has a relationship with Community Voices Heard, a social justice organization primarily led by low-income women and people of color, and together they will work to facilitate connections with NYCHA residents.  NYCHA did not respond to multiple requests for comment on how it regards design proposals from outside the agency. Peterson and Rich first became interested in NYCHA after a 2014 fellowship with the Institute for Public Architecture (IPA) where they, along with urban designer Sagi Golan, thought through public housing in 9x18, a project that would infill development on NYCHA parking lots. The goal now, said Rich, is to think about incremental changes instead of jumping straight from an idea to a construction proposal. "NYCHA is a source of fascination for people in design and planning because it’s a city in a city; it’s just so big," Peterson said. "What we’re trying to do here is focus on actionable ideas."
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Art, Art, Art!

Kate Fowle is MoMA PS1's new director
Drumroll, please: Curator Kate Fowle is MoMA PS1's new director. Until recently, the U.K.-born Fowle had been acting as the first Chief Curator at Moscow's Garage Museum of Contemporary Art since 2013. She will succeed Klaus Biesenbach, who left a 23-year tenure at MoMA PS1 about eight months ago to head up The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. “It’s an honor to take the helm of MoMA PS1 at this juncture in its rich history,” said Fowle in a press statement. “I look forward to working with the team and board to create a generative environment where our outlook is transformed through artists and their perspectives on the world.” Before her stint in Moscow, Fowle directed the New York-based Independent Curators International (ICI) from 2009 to 2013. The organization connects contemporary art curators around the world. The announcement comes on the heels of the first public viewing of this year's Young Architects Program (YAP) installation by Mexico City-based Pedro y Juana in the courtyard of the Long Island City MoMA offshoot. YAP invites emerging firms to build a summer installation in the PS1 courtyard that provides light and shade to visitors during Warm Up, the museum's summer Saturdays music event.
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New Museum, New Digs

OMA reveals first renderings of New Museum expansion
Today OMA revealed its design for the New Museum addition, a brawny 62,000-square-foot gallery expansion that leans into the contemporary art museum's current home on the Bowery. The seven-story building will replace an older loft that was home to the museum's incubator, NEW INC, as well as artists who had lived and worked in the building for decades. The new structure will align with the SANAA-designed main building's floorplates on three levels, doubling the current exhibition space. It will also sport additional space for education and community events, a spot for NEW INC, an 80-seat restaurant, studios, and more. The architects contend that it will be possible to see the vertical circulation through the laminated glass with metal mesh facade. OMA New York partner-in-charge Shohei Shigematsu is the design lead on the project, and New York's Cooper Robertson is the executive architect. The New Museum first announced OMA's involvement in the project in 2017. Rem Koolhaas, the co-founder of OMA, explained the design reasoning to the New York Times, which first reported on the expansion, as such: "One building is very enigmatic, and it did not seem fruitful to create an enigma next to an enigma." The project will break ground next year and is slated for completion in 2022.
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Eames for the Sky

The Getty Conservation Institute charts a 100-year plan for the Eames House
It’s not easy being a septuagenarian, especially when your bones are made of steel and your skin consists of little more than brittle sheets of single-pane glass. Just ask the Eames House, an icon of midcentury industrial modernism designed as a personal residence by storied design duo Charles and Ray Eames in 1949. The conservation of the breezy home, filled with the eclectic knick-knacks and thoughtful design objects that define the couple’s colorful and practical oeuvre, is the subject of a new plan crafted by the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI), the Eames Foundation, and project architects Escher GuneWardena Architecture that aims to preserve the residence for posterity. Described as an “outstanding international exemplar of postwar modern residential design” by GCI, the house, a national historic landmark, sits on a scrubby, eucalyptus-filled bluff outside Los Angeles overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was originally developed as part of the influential Case Study House Program initiated by Arts and Architecture magazine editor John Entenza. Organized as a pair of spartan volumes set on a landscaped terrace, the home pioneered a new approach to residential design that married soaring, interlocking interiors with industrial construction materials—steel trusses, plywood paneling, and expanses of early curtain wall glass—to “humanize” the fruits of mass production while also providing effervescent but economical accommodations. But in the decades since, those then-experimental approaches have shown their wear, despite the Eames Foundation’s laudable stewardship. GCI’s plan, like the inventive spirit that went into designing the house, will work as a global case study in its own right by piloting conservation and research approaches for stabilizing and maintaining modernist-era structures. Detailed conditions assessments, an inventory of existing elements, and long-term site stabilization strategies are being developed in conjunction with the plan in an effort to create an approach that better resembles a cohesive preservation ethos rather than a detailed to-do list for the home. As a result, the effort is focused on problem-solving tasks like replacing asbestos tiles with nontoxic finishes, adding moisture barriers to prevent indoor condensation, and examining microscopic layers of paint around the premises to develop a detailed color-coded timeline for the complex. Describing the plan, Tim Whalen, the John E. and Louise Bryson Director of the Getty Conservation Institute, said, “While the GCI undertakes initiatives all over the world, it is critical to recognize the important organizations that we engage locally, like our work at the Eames House,” adding, “We are pleased that the completion of the Conservation Management Plan will now guide future conservation efforts.”
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Let's Beaux

CMG to bring back 1912 feel for San Francisco Civic Center overhaul
After over a year of community review, a refined vision plan by CMG Landscape Architecture designed to upgrade and modernize San Francisco’s Civic Center district is moving forward. Backed by a supergroup design team that includes Kennerly Architecture + Planning, Gehl Studio, HR&A, and others, CMG’s proposal seeks to retool the multi-block plaza and pedestrian mall to better fulfill the original 1912 Beaux Arts plan proposed for the site by architect John Galen Howard, designer of the University of California, Berkeley. CMG’s vision is part of a larger effort spearheaded by the City of San Francisco called the Civic Center Public Realm Plan, a scheme that seeks to articulate a “unified vision for long-term improvements to the area’s public spaces and streets.” As it stands, the Civic Center area is anchored by three major public spaces that are each being reworked by the latest plan to promote universal accessibility, access to nature, and around-the-clock public use. CMG proposes to transform the namesake Civic Center Plaza flanking City Hall into a series of outdoor “garden rooms” that surround a central square. The four garden rooms will contain a pair of lawns and newly planted tree areas that celebrate and frame a pair of recently refurbished playgrounds. The space will be anchored by an interactive play fountain that can be turned off during the protests and gatherings that take over the space. On the opposite end of the axis that runs through the district, the United Nations Plaza will see significant changes, including the “adaptation” of an arresting but unloved Lawrence Halprin–designed monumental fountain. The connecting block along Fulton Street that links the two plaza areas will be upgraded as well, with new soccer fields installed in the space between the Asian Art Museum—where wHY is currently planning an ambitious expansion—and the San Francisco Public Library buildings. Willett Moss, founding partner at CMG, said, “Initially we thought the plan would be responsive to the district’s diverse demographics with a multitude of culturally specific amenities and experiences. However, through the process, we realized that the vast majority of people want essentially the same thing—a space that’s inclusive, accessible, and celebratory.” A final version of the community-led design will be unveiled later this year with final completion of the project expected by 2022.
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Upzone City

Seattle makes affordable housing mandatory in upzoned neighborhoods

Architects and developers building across much of Seattle will soon have to meet the city’s new Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) requirements, a set of rules passed with a spate of recent comprehensive zoning changes designed to ensure that “new commercial and multifamily residential development contributes [new] affordable housing.”

The MHA regulations were approved this spring and are expected to add over 6,000 new low-income housing units to the city’s housing stock over the next decade. The changes are part of the city’s Housing Affordability and Living Agenda, a three-pronged effort undertaken by city agencies several years ago to increase housing supply in order to stem escalating rents and property values across the thriving region. The fiercely contested changes in land use will allow for a greater level of residential density in many of the city’s neighborhoods and will ask builders to either include affordable housing on-site or pay into a general fund that can be used by city agencies to create new affordable housing in other areas.

The new regulations span five categories of development density, from low-rise detached and row house neighborhoods to taller mixed-use districts where buildings will be allowed to rise to a height of 95 feet or more. The efforts will upzone roughly 6 percent of the city’s single-family zones. Single-family zones ultimately make up over 80 percent of the city’s residential areas.

MHA regulations, according to planning documents provided by the City of Seattle, will be pegged to the degree of upzoning that takes place: Under the plan, areas that have been upzoned most significantly will be required to add a relatively higher proportion of new affordable housing. The required fees administered in lieu of on-site affordable housing construction will start at $5.58 per square foot for projects located in low-rise areas outside downtown Seattle and will go as high as $35.75 per square foot for larger mixed-use developments, according to city agencies.

The requirements will necessarily affect the work of architects designing buildings in these areas, but it is so far unclear exactly how.  The MHA requirements are set to go into effect immediately, as the city’s rezoning initiatives are approved on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis.