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Toronto Top-off

Controversial condo tower proposed to top a Toronto landmark
A 44-story tower has been proposed to top one of Toronto’s most beloved pieces of 20th-century architecture—and many Torontonians aren’t happy. The former Bank of Canada building, built in 1958 and designed by Marani & Morris, currently stands at just eight stories and occupies a choice spot of downtown real estate at 250 University Avenue. The existing structure is designated a heritage building and heritage specialists GBCA Architects have been brought in to consult on the work related to original building. The new combined structure, designed by IBI Group, would reach just over 575 feet and bring the total floor count to 54. It would house 495 condominium units while the original building would continue to host retail and office space. The existing subterranean safe, which currently serves as a common area, and mechanical rooms would be converted into two stories of bicycle storage, while two additional underground levels would be added to provide space for a parking garage. The addition is certainly stirring up controversy. There are numerous dissenting comments on its announcement on Urban Toronto, a news site for new developments in the city. On Twitter, Alex Bozikovic, architecture critic for The Globe and Mail, responded to the announcement unequivocally: “No. Absolutely not.” Bozikovic went on to call the proposed addition a “junkpile.” Many commenters followed suit deriding the proposal as a “total failure” and “the second worst [tower addition] I’ve seen.” One commentator put it more generously, saying “the plan lacks imagination.” https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js The limestone-colored accents of the addition are ostensibly designed to use color related to the original building, which features modernist sculptures on the facade, though, as another Twitter user pointed out, “They couldn’t even line the damn thing up.” Developer Northam Realty Advisors, who is seeking rezoning in order to construct the addition, is no stranger to controversy. In 2016, the group proposed replacing a historically designated building in the Historic Yonge Street Heritage Conservation District with a pair of towers. (The plan was later revised to be just one, taller tower, also designed by IBI Group.) While received well by some, many were not so positive, and the plan has not yet been approved. As far as the proposed addition to the Bank of Canada building, perhaps Twitter user John Howe put it best: “We can only pray it’ll look better in real life.”
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1947 - 2018

British architect Will Alsop has died at age 70
British architect and academic, William Allen Alsop, has died aged 70. Alsop was born on December 12, 1947, in Northampton, England and died on Saturday, May 12, 2018. The architect was a graduate of the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London and at the time of his death, was Director of the London-based studio, aLL Design, which he set up in 2011. Alsop is most well-known for his design of Peckham Library in Southeast London, a project which he designed with German architect, Jan Störmer. The building won the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2000 and is known for its "L" shape and use of pre-patinated copper cladding which gives it a striking turquoise color. The architect designed in North America as well. Projects include the Glenwood Power Plant in Yonkers, New York and the Sharp Centre for Design for the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto. The former was designed in 2007, but plans fell by the wayside, despite being hailed in the press as "new proposal to rescue Yonkers' Waterfront." Prior to his death, Alsop was on the architectural advisory boards for Wandsworth and Kensington & Chelsea Councils in London as well as being Professor of Architecture at TU Vienna and Professor of Architecture at Canterbury School of Architecture in Kent. Alsop had previously lectured Stateside too, serving as a Visiting Professor for the San Francisco Art Institute and Ball State University, Indiana in 1977. He was also The Davis Professor of Tulane University in New Orleans in 1982.
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Expo-presentation

Who’s missing from this AIA Conference promo video? (Hint: It’s not men)
Usually I speed past ads on social media as quickly as possible without breaking my infinite scroll, but when I saw the video ad for the AIA Conference on Architecture 2018 pop up, I was curious to see what the all-knowing algorithms had deemed worthy of my consumption. I expected a standard promotional video highlighting familiar New York City landmarks mixed in with information about conference dates, parties, keynotes–all that good stuff. Something to get me excited about what the AIA describes as the “architecture and design event of the year!” The video is only one minute long. It’s a lighthearted, fast-paced overview of exciting things to come. But it is also a visual, visceral reminder of the status quo of architecture in the United States. Here’s the video. For those of you who cannot view it, a summary of key scenes will follow, with a general description of those present in these scenes. I’ve assumed the genders of the people in the video. At 11 seconds: shot of the Expo floor, approximately 14 cisgender men. Cisgender (or simply "cis") denotes a person whose gender identity corresponds with their birth sex. At 12 seconds: shot of the Expo floor, 1 cis man. At 14 seconds: shots of a panel consisting of 3 cis men and 1 cis woman. The woman’s gender expression, which refers to her appearance in this case, is masculine. At 21 seconds: scene of 5 cis women exercising in a park. At 45 seconds: 2 cis women sitting in front of the Whitney Museum. Did you catch it? A total of at least 18 cis men are shown attending the Conference, while only one cis woman makes a fleeting appearance on a panel (where she is outnumbered by three cis men). No women are shown on the Expo floor otherwise. When cis women do show up, there are only 7 of them, and they are represented as mere consumers of architectural designs by cis men. They’re leisurely exercising at Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island, designed by Louis Kahn, and enjoying the view out in front of the Whitney Museum designed by Renzo Piano. The numbers are telling: roughly 70 percent of people in the ad are cis men, while only 30 percent are cis women. 100 percent of the cis men are depicted as architects. 0 percent of the cis women are. Let’s face it: this advertisement mirrors architecture’s long-running and notorious gender diversity problem. According to Equity by Design, the organization formerly known as The Missing 32%, in the United States, cis women represent less than 50 percent of students graduating from accredited architecture programs, and the number of cis women who are AIA members, licensed architects, and senior leadership fluctuates between 15 to 18 percent of the total. The data gathered from their surveys in 2014 and 2016 confirm what we already know about the architecture profession: women and non-binary people (those who do not identify as male or female) are pushed out of the profession at certain points in their careers, and decision-making power is still largely in the hands of cis men.   What does a one-minute video have to do with it? The AIA is aware of its gender diversity problem and, to the Institute’s credit, has been hammering away at it for several years. In 2011, the AIA Diversity Council was formed to confront issues such as the shortage of minority representation in leadership roles, unconscious bias, and sexual discrimination. In 2014, architectural organizations conducted an industry-wide study, Diversity in the Profession of Architecture, which highlighted the gross disparities in the field and the urgent need for a profession that more accurately reflects the demographics of our nation. The results led the AIA to issue a call to action by ratifying Resolution 15:1,“Equity in Architecture,” at the 2015 AIA National Convention. The resolution established the Equity in Architecture Commission. In 2017, the Commission released a report with five “keystone” areas of focus: leadership development; firm and workplace studio culture; excellence in architecture; education and career development; and, last but certainly not least, marketing, branding, public awareness, and outreach. This video, then, is part of the fifth “keystone” area of focus identified by the Equity in Architecture Commission. But the AIA seems to have lost its focus on working toward equity in this arena. Given all of the time, energy, and institutional power that has been invested in increasing gender equity in architecture, this ad betrays the AIA’s appalling lack of intention and commitment to doing the necessary work that the Equity in Architecture Commission recommends. This is disappointing for an organization that has extensive data on its own gender diversity problem and is keenly aware of its own representation to the public. The way architects are portrayed reveals a disturbing image of how the profession views itself. I understand that representation in an AIA Conference ad is not likely to affect gender diversity in architecture. Change doesn’t happen overnight, much less through algorithmically-placed adverts. But this ad does have a real effect on how women and non-binary people (like me!) feel about our inclusion within the architectural profession. Watching the video made me feel invisible, as though I’m not a real architect and I’m not invited to the conference. Barely seeing any women in represented in the ad was a shocking, surreal experience. During my second viewing, I was acutely aware of the implicit message: even if I do attend the conference, people like me don’t visit the Expo floor. I recalled attending the 2016 AIA Convention in Philadelphia and feeling wildly out of place. I could feel my hope for a better, more inclusive experience at A’18 drain away as the messaging sank in. The AIA, despite all of its efforts and good intentions, should do better. As a historically (and currently) cis male-dominated profession, the structure for supporting architects who are not cis men is severely lacking. Women and non-binary people face professional and academic settings that are hostile towards their career advancements. We receive messages in so many ways that we should not be architects. Just last year, a group of more than 50 architectural professionals wrote a letter to the Architect’s Newspaper imploring the AIA to reevaluate their keynote speakers (6 out of 7 were cis men; one was a cis woman and not an architect). We need a cultural change in architecture that also goes beyond representation.The architects who are honored by the AIA and other organizations merely reinforce dominant, patriarchal power structures. When will the five keystones for equity in architecture become a serious priority? When will architectural education become accessible enough to reflect the gender and racial diversity of the country? When will women and non-binary people finally feel represented and welcome at all stages of their architectural careers? I’m tired of having the same diversity and inclusion conversations. We have announced ourselves and have been speaking out. The future of the architectural profession lies in how well it welcomes the next generation. The next generation is here, but we don’t see ourselves reflected and seen. We need you to do better. See you on the Expo floor. A.L. Hu is an architectural designer, organizer, and activist living in New York City.
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Yeezy Home

Kanye West launches “Yeezy Architecture” studio after visit to SCI-Arc
Following another recent Twitter spree and a series of problematic, rambling public interviews, multidisciplinary artist and designer Kanye West has announced the creation of a new architecture arm called “Yeezy Home” that will seek to expand West’s creative output to include architectural and urban design.  In a late-night tweet, the Hidden Hills, California-based rapper solicited the talent of aspiring designers, calling for “architects and industrial designers who want to make the world better.”  https://twitter.com/kanyewest/status/993221454740185088?s=21 West’s cryptic tweet comes just over a week after the controversial creative visited the Southern California Institute of Architecture’s (SCI-Arc) Spring Show, a showcase of the school’s spring semester work. The visit prompted a tweet from Kanye highlighting the work of M.Arch I student Ashley Morgan Hastings and her desalination-focused project.  Following the visit, West tweeted out praise for the student: https://twitter.com/kanyewest/status/990734224670867456?s=21 West has a long history of associating himself and collaborating with architects and designers, including a 2012 collaboration with Dutch architects OMA for the design of the 7 Screen Pavilion project, a pyramid-shaped projection room used to screen West’s Cruel Summer film at the Cannes Film Festival.  Amid an earlier tweetstorm two weeks ago, West unveiled Axel Vervoordt-designed the interiors for the mausoleum-like Hidden Hills home shared with wife Kim Kardashian. The top-secret designs follow previous collaborations with New York City-based Family and London, England-based architect John Pawson.  After proclaiming his “obligation to show people new ideas” following West’s renewed support for Donald Trump in a recent song, Kanye’s latest foray into design seems to be more involved, however. CityLab reports that the rapper recently purchased a 300-acre property in Los Angeles that West intends on developing himself. In a wide-ranging interview with Charlemagne Tha God, West hints at his future plans, saying, “Yeah, we’re going to develop cities.”
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Top Down, Bottom Up

Architecture’s crisis is deeper than #MeToo
Architecture has been grappling with its own #MeToo moment since the reports of sexual harassment allegations against Richard Meier broke. The responses have varied, ranging from statements condemning sexual harassment and promoting workplace reform to the creation of a “shitty architecture men” list. The conversation also underscores existing challenges within architecture: the field is almost completely white, overwhelmingly male, and shrinking. But so far, most responses have addressed symptoms rather than structural issues. We need to talk about how architecture’s crisis is deeply rooted in its culture. If architecture is to be saved—from the Richard Meiers to the unpaid internships—we must expand how architecture is evaluated and rethink how it is taught. Expand the Terms of Architectural Value Our definition of good architecture is woefully myopic and outdated, beginning with the cult of personality. A list of important architecture is analogous to a list of individuals or acronyms synonymous with individuals. The dominant narrative (think the Pritzker Prize) recognizes design excellence as an individual rather than office-wide achievement. And though important scholarship is deepening our understanding of the canon by recognizing the contribution of overlooked women like Anne Tyng or Charlotte Perriand, the office-wide effort, fundamental to architecture, remains unseen. The production of the design—from the labor practices to the contributions of team members—should be considered when evaluating architecture. We should be asking: How is the office structured? Is the office environment oppressive? Is there pay equity? These questions are as fundamental to architectural quality as a building’s relationship to its surroundings or the detailing of a corner. This will help to debunk the sole creator myth, recognize the profession’s collective nature, and establish the importance of the practice of architecture. In this light, Meier’s projects would be rightly seen as bad architecture. Well-rounded criticism will expand the realm of architectural value beyond its narrow-minded focus on the building to examine and celebrate architectural practice. As architects, our offices are the only environments we can completely design, implement, and control. So it is maddening that they are so often toxic and inhumane. In response to the allegations against Meier, the Pritzker Foundation reaffirmed his 1984 award, stating: “We do not comment on the personal lives of our laureates.” This is ridiculous. Meier did not harass in his personal life; he harassed in his professional life. It is scandalous to valorize architecture made in such an environment. Change Architectural Education to Change Practice Design studio, which is based on a master/apprentice relationship, is a unique and valuable form of pedagogy. But its unequal power dynamic is too often exacerbated by the harmful and inappropriate behavior of some studio instructors, an ill-defined student/teacher boundary, and an acceptance of hostile and aggressive crits. Studio sets expectations for the kinds of workplaces and mentor relationships that young architects will seek or accept. Painfully, against this backdrop, the allegations against Meier are not shocking. They are just over the line of what many students and young architects have learned to put up with. Studio also establishes overwork as a cornerstone of architectural excellence, reproducing the belief that good design is never done. Saying yes to another parti, model, or rendering forces us to say no to meals, sleep, and social life. We also learn that, trapped in a service industry, we should expect to be underpaid (or unpaid) and under-appreciated. School-taught expectations shape our decisions to work at offices despite the overwork, underpay, and toxic environments (not to mention our student debt!). Many offices rely on and enforce this culture of overwork to offset the cost of uncompensated competitions, low fees, accelerated schedules, or scope changes. Poorly compensated labor props up many firms, allowing them to win critical acclaim while operating sham businesses and undercutting the industry as a whole. Pedagogy should project the ideals of practice, not reflect its worst tendencies. Universities should temper the always-yes culture and advocate for boundaries. They should establish guidelines for studio organization, schedules, workloads, deliverables, and time-management in concert with students. They should also clarify the codes of the student/teacher relationship and teach students that their time is valuable and that architecture can be done without lopsided power dynamics and overwork. If we learned in such a setting, why would we go to offices that pay little, expect us to work nonstop, and serve abusive, ego-driven individuals? Firms built on unpaid or underpaid labor would be rightly seen as pariahs regardless of their designs’ originality, not celebrated as they are now. The professional practice track should also be strengthened. A sequence of courses in this vein could teach real-world responsibilities and reinvest in architecture as a circumscribed discipline, fostering scholarship around the history and theory of architectural practice. Leading professionals from various types of offices could speak about the nuts and bolts of running their practices. Students could learn to creatively and effectively run an office, as well as to design. Imagine if we learned the profession and studied the typologies and history of offices in order to think critically and innovatively about practice. Only then could we say that school truly advances the future of architecture. Rebuild Architecture’s Credibility On top of our internal structural issues, architects’ expertise and authority is eroding and our necessity is being questioned. In our desire to limit liability, we have ceded responsibility to other parties: architects of record, consultants, engineers, contractors, and owner's representatives—shrinking our professionalism. Yet we trumpet architecture’s ability to address social and global challenges: the future of work, housing, urbanization, climate change. To credibly take on these issues, we need to tend to our discipline from the bottom up, starting with expanding architectural value and repairing education. Our problems are not intractable and there are a few downsides. But without change, architecture is undergoing a brain drain. The #MeToo reckoning adds urgency to the profession’s troubling trajectory. With its abysmal diversity and the discipline's shameful state, it’s hard to see why anyone would want to be an architect. And yet we do. Those of us who love architecture—its history, worldview, and optimism—must refuse to say yes to its unhealthy and degrading demands. Architecture has never been more important to the world’s realities. But to meaningfully contribute and fully realize the #MeToo moment, we must rebuild architecture from the ground up.   Miles Fujiki is a young architect working in New York City.
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Tower Talk

Mexico City’s tallest skyscraper by Foster + Partners to begin construction after delays
Construction is set to begin on Reforma 432, a Foster + Partners-designed skyscraper in the heart of Mexico City that’s been snared by setbacks since 2011. According to a 2014 Foster + Partners description that pegged the tower at 866 feet tall, the Reforma 432 will dwarf the city’s current tallest building, the 807-foot-tall Torre Reforma. As first reported by Mexico News Daily, Mexican developer Abilia recently released a statement revealing that construction on Reforma 432 would begin soon and that the mixed-use tower would be split between luxury office space and commercial use. It’s certainly not an even split, with nearly 280,000 square feet set aside for offices and the remaining 20,000 square feet dedicated towards retail. Abilia’s owner, the billionaire businesswoman María Asunción Aramburuzabala, also announced that the updated scheme would be 57 stories tall, three more than Foster + Partners had originally described. Reforma 432 was first proposed in 2011 as the Sky Tower under developer Grupo Elipse, but seemed to have stalled out indefinitely until Aramburuzabala stepped in to take over the project. Located at the intersections between Paseo de La Reforma and Avenida Sevilla, Reforma 432 will sit on an L-shaped site directly opposite La Diana fountain, a city monument. Foster’s design for the tower is heavily striated, and two central vertical bands will run up the western and eastern sides of the facade. The building’s core will be set back towards the smaller portion of the L shaped-site, increasing the size of the floor plates in the larger section of the site. From the renderings, it also appears that the tower will carve out a story for communal outdoor space in the middle of the office floors. Covered, cantilevering terraces jutting from Reforma 432’s first four stories will hold retail components, restaurants, and cafes, while a bank, drop-off area, and entrances to both the offices and the commercial areas will be on the ground floor. This area will be intentionally left open as a publicly accessible plaza that bleeds into the surrounding streetscape. Foster + Partners is no stranger to building in Mexico City, as the British firm has teamed up with Mexican architect Fernando Romero to tackle the city’s new $9.2 billion airport, currently under construction. No start or completion dates for Reforma 432 have been announced as of yet.
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Three-Pointer

Gensler’s NVIDIA headquarters opens, with a super-roof that lets the outside in
NVIDIA’s cavernous, Gensler-designed 500,000-square-foot headquarters opened for business late 2017, capping off a seven-year effort to create a new state-of-the-art office complex for the technology company. Located in Santa Clara, California, the triangular complex takes a decidedly inward approach to the open, creative office type. Unlike Facebook’s park-topped headquarters or Apple’s ring-in-the-forest complex, which feature expansive connections to the outdoors and commingle quasi-public access with offices, NVIDIA’s new home base is self-contained and mono-functional, more high-tech tent than big-nature oasis. Instead of bringing the outside in, Gensler’s designs utilize a soaring internal volume and 245 perfectly calibrated triangular skylights set into a modular, undulating roof that turns the inside out. Workers are expected to arrive by car, entering the building’s underbelly via two basement parking levels containing 1,500 stalls. A glass-enclosed elevator core welcomes arrivals before whisking them to the cavernous offices above, where they are greeted by a faceted, black metal panel cocoon wrapping the all-white elevator core. This angular, two-story volume creates a sheltered area at the heart of the building underneath an orderly grid of skylights that was laid out using virtual reality software to determine each skylight’s final placement. Hao Ko, principal and managing director at Gensler, said, “We worked hard to get the right specifications of glass makeup to allow us the right quality of diffused and soft sunlight in the space. The final result—where the daylighting is evenly dispersed throughout and evenly experienced by everyone—is a testament to the upfront work we did in design.” Because of Santa Clara’s zoning laws, the structure could only rise two stories and ultimately topped out at 50 feet tall. In response, Ko’s team created two soaring levels within the arched envelope of the building, taking the opportunity to transform the office’s many staircases into broad, socially vibrant areas while also creating an upper level that functions more like a mezzanine than a fully-enclosed floor. Along the ground, squat cubicles, an institutional-seeming dining hall, and multifunctional lab spaces orbit the opaque core, which itself contains lounges, meeting rooms, coding nooks, and research areas. The level above, meanwhile, is populated by parallel rows of cubicles interrupted by acoustically-sealed meeting pods that extend every which way. The end result is a workplace envisioned and constructed to look good—and work well—in any light.
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Postindustrial Parkway

A High Line in Pittsburgh? Officials bet big on elevated park in Steel City
Move over, New York. Earlier this month, developers McKnight Realty Partners held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Highline, Pittsburgh’s newest mega-conversion. Developer McKnight Realty teamed up with local firm Indovina Associates Architects to redevelop the Pittsburgh Terminal Warehouse and Transfer Company (map) on the city’s deindustrialized South Shore. The $110 million complex will bring 600,000 square feet of office and retail to the area. The building—they are one, but appear to be two—is connected by a five-hundred-foot-long elevated roadway that will be converted into a park-like space with lighting and seating. The walkway will be extended to the abutting Monongahela River and face north towards the city’s Downtown. Similar in name and form to Manhattan’s High Line, which brought a disused freight railway line back to life as a public park and spurred a development boom on Manhattan’s Far West Side, Pittsburgh's Highline project seeks to revitalize a significant site within the city's post-industrial landscape. Indovina’s design incorporates vegetative and hardscaping features, such as raised planters and textured concrete pavers. Below the Highline, and along the facility’s loading docks, there will be a lower park dubbed the Yards which will serve as an extension to Pittsburgh’s preexisting river trail system. Restoration is key to the project. Notably, all of the complex’s damaged windows will be replaced with historically accurate units and both the cast-iron detailing and brick curtain walls will be entirely restored. Completed in 1906, The Terminal Building was designed by prominent Pittsburgh architect Charles Bickel. Like the former warehouses adjacent to Manhattan’s High Line, the facility was designed to integrate freight and warehousing logistics in an urban setting. The conversion of The Terminal Building joins Pittsburgh’s ongoing restoration and construction trend that has brought similar warehouses back to life, such as the city’s Produce Terminal and the Allegheny Riverfront Green Boulevard. The Pittsburgh Tribune reported the project will receive approximately $17.5 million in federal and state financial incentives, and construction should be complete by 2019.
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Baby I'll treat you Wright

Cranbrook is gifted Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian Smith House
Already the home of work by Eliel Saarinen, Albert Kahn and Stephen Holl, Metro Detroit’s Cranbrook has acquired the Melvyn Maxwell and Sarah Stein Smith House, a 1950 Usonian home in Bloomfield Hills designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for two Detroit public school teachers. The home comes to Cranbrook via a donation from the Towbes Foundation and provides the institution with ownership of the Smith House as an educational resource. The Smith house has been preserved exactly as it was when the Smiths lived in it. While studying at the City College of Detroit, now Wayne State University, Melvyn Maxwell Smith saw an image of Fallingwater during a slide presentation and was instantly hooked on Wright. With equal financial backing from his wife Sarah Stein Smith, the couple travelled to Taliesin, where they asked Wright to design a home for $5,000. Wright negotiated $8,000 and waited for the couple to save up to purchase a suitable piece of property. Deeply occupied by his work on the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Wright communicated regularly with the Smiths once he delivered the design for the home and urged Melvyn Maxwell Smith to work as his own general contractor to keep costs down, and one that would allow Smith to control the quality of work. Smith gathered a team of contractors, journeymen and friends to work on the house, including those that agreed to work for a reduced rate in exchange for the privilege of being a part of the project. With the Smiths paying as they went, construction moved slowly. As the house was nearing completion, the Smiths found themselves without funds to purchase the windows. Real estate investor Al Taubman, another FLW super fan, found himself visiting the construction site just as Melvyn Maxwell Smith was boarding up the window openings with plywood. After listening to Smith lament that he was down to his last $500, and worrying that inclement weather would damage the house, Taubman had installers from the Pittsburg Plate Glass Window Company arrive the next day to measure and install the windows and sent the Smiths a bill for exactly $500. Over time, the Smiths filled the house with sculptures and designed objects by artists associated with Cranbrook. Melvyn Maxwell Smith lived in the house until his death in 1984. Sarah Stein Smith stayed until moving to California in 1991. The Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research is responsible for stewarding the Smith House and is also undertaking an oral history project to collect stories from artists and contractors that worked on the project.
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Pirelli Believe It

Breuer’s Pirelli Tire Building will be reborn as a hotel
One of Marcel Breuer's two New Haven, Connecticut buildings will be preserved and converted into a hotel. When it was finished in 1969, researchers and administrators at Armstrong Rubber worked out of the company's Pirelli Tire Building, a Brutalist structure whose office tower core is bisected by beguiling angled windows. The building—vacant since the 1990s—is now owned by IKEA and sits aside a store parking lot. IKEA is in talks with a developer to convert the I-95-adjacent concrete building into a hotel, the New Haven Independent reported. AN IKEA spokesperson told the paper that the company hasn't gone public with its plans for the structure yet. The conversion scheme were revealed at a meeting of the city's development commission. Breuer's work is enjoying a strong revival, thanks in part to renewed popular interest in Brutalism. In Atlanta, city officials are looking to revamp the Breuer-designed main library, while back in 2016, the Metropolitan Museum of Art restored the Whitney's former home and re-christened it the Met Breuer. (H/T NHVmod and Docomomo US)
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Twist and Shout

BIG reveals renderings of twisting High Line towers
The twisting, torquing towers of the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)-designed The Eleventh (The XI) have begun sprouting along the High Line, and developer HFZ Capital has released a new batch of renderings. Located between 10th and 11th Avenue and bounded by 17th and 18th Streets in Manhattan, The Eleventh takes up a full block directly south of the Frank Gehry-designed IAC building. As HFZ told the New York Times, the mixed-use project was designed less as a standalone complex and more as a “micro-neighborhood.” The sprawling development stretches underneath the High Line to the east, where James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro are designing a street-level extension of the park above. Moving west from the new park, the BIG-designed pavilions will rise under the High Line. The two travertine-clad towers will rise on the western half of the development next to the Hudson River. At the westernmost edge of the site will be the taller of the two towers, at 400 feet tall and 36 floors, with 149 condos units designed by New York’s Gabellini Sheppard. For the interiors, the team has chosen a lighter material palette that emphasizes natural materials, such as oak flooring and white quartzite countertops. The smaller tower to the east, connected at its base with its neighbor via a glass skybridge, will only be about 300 feet tall and 26 stories. Everything after floor 11 is slated for condos, while the lower floors will hold a Six Senses hotel; the Paris-based interiors firm Gilles & Boissier are designing the interiors for both the residential and hotel sections, and will reportedly use a similar palette and style for both. Both towers noticeably twist in opposite directions as they rise, and the turns are intended to preserve views for occupants inside both buildings. To further improve the views, the western tower will expand as it rises and the eastern tower will taper as it nears the top. To cap it off, both of the condo buildings share matching glass crowns. A shorter building is also planned for the site’s southwestern corner, with plans to turn it into an art space and Six Senses spa and club. Swiss landscape architect Enzo Enea will be designing a covered through-way for vehicles and a courtyard at the center between the two tower’s hemispheres. The amenities are consistent with the other luxury residential buildings going up along the High Line; future homeowners can expect access to a 75-foot-long pool, 4,000-square-foot fitness center, access to Six Senses, and a lounge and game room in the skybridge. Once completed at the end of 2019, the complex will be among the tallest in West Chelsea.
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Marked Up

Old Chicago Main Post Office receives landmark designation
The Chicago City Council recently approved the landmark designation for the Old Chicago Main Post Office. Built in phases from 1921 to 1932, the 2.3-million-square-foot structure is located on the western bank of the south branch of the Chicago River in Chicago’s Near West Side. The building’s brawny nine-and twelve-story art deco design is the work of Chicago architectural firm Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, a successor to D.H. Burnham and Company. The Old Chicago Main Post Office was constructed with a 40-foot-wide rectangular hole running through the center of the building, intended to accommodate a provision of the 1909 Plan of Chicago for a Congress Street extension from the South Loop to Chicago’s West Side. While various plans were floated for the extension in the 1930s, the space wouldn’t come into full use until 1955, when the Congress (now Eisenhower) Expressway was completed, connecting the Loop to the western suburbs. The building’s main lobby sports lavish details like white marble and gold glass mosaics, but its original function was utilitarian in nature, with the majority of the spaces dedicated to feed conveyors, hoppers, mechanical tables, and chutes that supported a variety of mail sorting operations. The Old Chicago Main Post Office remained in operation until a modernized facility was completed in 1996, leaving the building vacant. While the Old Chicago Main Post Office was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001, providing it with the opportunity to capitalize on Federal Historic Tax Credits, it is the local designation that provides a measure of protection from demolition and insensitive alteration, as a National Register listing is primarily used for planning purposes and is honorary. Local designation of commercial, industrial, and income-producing non-for-profit buildings also provides building owners with the opportunity to capitalize on Chicago’s Class L Property Tax Incentive, which reduces property levels for a 12-year period provided that half of the value of the landmark building is invested in an approved rehabilitation project. According to the City of Chicago, the property’s owner, 601W Companies, is implementing a $292 million rehabilitation of the building as retail spaces and offices led by Gensler. The interior and exterior spaces will be comprehensively updated. The work will also repair existing rights-of-way for the Eisenhower Expressway as well as the Amtrak railroad facility located underneath the building.