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Not your father's Garden City

Ron Arad Architect's Totzeret Haaretz contorts over Tel Aviv with glass and sintered stone
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The recently completed Totzeret Haaretz (ToHa) office tower on the eastern border of Tel Aviv offers a new public-facing approach to superblock megadevelopments, while simultaneously delivering a remarkably unique design merging glass, sintered stone, and brass. Designed by Ron Arad Architects with the help of executive architects Yashar Architects, the 29-story tower is the first phase of a larger project that will include an additional development of twice the height.
  • Facade Manufacturer Cosentino Guardian Digom Pellini Industries
  • Architect Ron Arad Architects Yashar Architects (Executive Architect)
  • Facade Installer Aluminum Construction
  • Facade Consultant Buro Happold David Engineers
  • Location Tel Aviv, Israel
  • Date of Completion 2019
  • System Custom Aluminum Construction system
  • Products Guardian HD 67 DEKTON Cosentino sintered stone panels
The building rises on a trio of stiletto-like heels, which constitute a footprint of just under 16,150 square feet. Besides enhancing the nearly full-block public plaza surrounding the building, the seven-story plinths house the bulk of the tower's mechanical infrastructure—permitting the roof to function as an open space with a perimeter walkway and two terraces. To allow for the proper ventilation of the mechanical system while maintaining aesthetic standards required for a street-level facade, the design team developed a permeable system of cross-mounted DEKTON sintered stone panels supplied by Spanish-manufacturer Cosentino. The panels are approximately 10-feet tall and 2-feet wide and are fastened to a mullion between the respective floor plates. The panels were produced in six colors, creating a visual gradient across the weaved-stone street wall. Moving upwards, the tower rotates, widens, and tapers to dramatic effect. Each floor is cloaked in double-glazed Low-E glass curtain wall modules, measuring approximately 12.5-feet by 4.5-feet, inset from a protruding concrete floorplate. The double-skin glass system was developed in collaboration with the contractor, Aluminum Construction, and was tested at the IFC Rosenheim research lab on the southern border of Bavaria, Germany. "Each unit contains an integrated reflective blind manufactured by Pellini Industries and an automated air inlet system which periodically pumps air into the glazed cavity," said Ron Arad Architects. "The warm air exits the unit through an outlet opening at the top." Due to the unique geometry of the project's massing—no two floors of the tower are the same—there is a significant range of solar incidence across each elevation. Using computational tools, the design team determined the appropriate width of the floor plate extrusion, which serves as a passive shading device for the floor below. Similar to the base of the building, the extruding elements are clad with sintered stone panels measuring approximately half-an-inch thick and 6.5-feet wide. A particularly stylistic flourish is found on the south elevation facing HaShalom Road, as the first seven stories of the section are clad in a brass sheathing. The pattern for the sheathing mirrors and twists the extruding floor plates above, creating a complex matrix of sunlight reflection and shading that varies throughout the day. Over time, the sheathing will patina from its current gold-like composition to a more subtle shade of bronze. The entrance is demarcated by a nearly 100-foot-tall structural glass curtain wall, which leads to a seven-story high atrium with a view to the summit of the tower.
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New Nexus

WXY and city will reimagine Brooklyn’s Broadway Junction

In an ongoing effort to reimagine the transit nexus at Broadway Junction in East New York and its surrounding built environment, officials in Brooklyn have released preliminary ideas of what the area could look like. City leaders convened the Broadway Junction Working Group for the first time in October 2017 and, working with WXY Architecture + Urban Design, have since assembled a list of recommendations for improvements to the area in terms of transit equity, economic development, neighborhood amenities, and public space. With a series of interconnected subway stations that services the A, C, J, Z, and L lines, the area presents a significant opportunity to provide, as the recommendations suggest, “more good jobs, new retail and services, and active streets and public spaces—with an improved and accessible transit hub at its core.”

Currently, Broadway Junction suffers from a variety of factors that inhibit its potential as a hub of economic and social activity. Poor lighting under the elevated subway structures, as well as numerous parking lots in the immediate vicinity of the stations, make the surrounding blocks particularly hostile to people. With the integration of seating, greenery, public programming, and new infrastructural elements under the tracks, city officials and WXY hope to open up Broadway Junction’s public spaces for use by residents of the surrounding communities.

Overall, the plan calls for a mixed-use district that responds to the needs of the neighborhood without risking the widespread displacement of small businesses and residents that often accompanies major transit-related development projects. With the resources of the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) at their disposal, business owners will be able to take advantage of commercial tenant legal services, business training courses, and other services. There will also be an effort to render the streetscape safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike. Improvements to road circulation and various traffic-calming measures will ensure that those who drive, take transit, or walk in the area will be able to interact under less dangerous conditions. The subway stations at the junction will also be retrofitted to be more accessible to passengers with disabilities.

The Broadway Junction Working Group is supported by the Department of City Planning (DCP), the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT), the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR), among other agencies.

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Atomic Architecture

Chernobyl's aging sarcophagus will be torn down, replaced soon
The historic sarcophagus at Chernobyl is slated to be partially dismantled to make way for a safer structure very soon. The Ukranian company that manages the formerly-radioactive site—home of the world’s most famous nuclear disaster—is taking it down preemptively before the 30-year-old structure falls.  According to Popular Mechanics, the concrete-and-steel, half-domed architecture, also known as the Shelter, was built in just 206 days after the 1986 explosion in Soviet-era Ukraine. As the Russian-occupied state was trying to sort through the mess, the government hired “liquidators,” or clean up agents, to construct the sarcophagus atop the deadly site. Though many died because of the work, it successfully kept radioactive chemicals such as corium, uranium, and plutonium from exposing the surrounding city—and the world—all these years.  Despite its remarkably quick construction and decades of decent performance, the sarcophagus was actually built quite poorly, without any welded or bolted joints due to the inexperience of the workers. It became clear that after just over a decade, the sarcophagus would need to be replaced. Popular Mechanics noted how in a 2017 interview with BBC, an expert on nuclear safety recounted that the Soviets lowered the beams for the building and built the roof structure using helicopters. Nothing was made to be very sturdy.  The SSE Chernobyl NPP, which oversees the site today, said it will start taking the insecure architecture apart after the New Shelter Containment (NCS), a building plan that was pieced together two decades ago, is up and running. The build-out of the NCS is currently in progress by a French consortium of construction groups called Novarka and, according to World Nuclear News, it’s the “largest moveable land-based structure ever built.” BBC identified the “vast new tomb for dangerous waste” as larger than Wembly Stadium and taller than the Statue of Liberty. The NCS is expected to make the site safe for up to 100 years and will help it withstand dangerously high temperatures, a class-three tornado, and a 6.0 earthquake—all things that the sarcophagus is prone to crumbling because of now. Officials are also testing the equipment and technological systems used on the NCS ahead of its soon-to-be full operation. 
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Not All Roses

L.A.'s Flower Market redevelopment by Brooks + Scarpa is moving forward
The Los Angeles City Planning Commission has okayed the redevelopment of the city's Southern California Flower Market by local firm Brooks + Scarpa Architects. The most significant changes to the four-acre plot include the addition of a 15-story tower that will cut into the existing flower market building. The 205-foot tower is segmented into three areas that will each be topped with a roof deck. It will house over 300 residential units and almost 64,000 square feet for the wholesale market. Brooks + Scarpa is weaving pedestrian walks throughout the property and adding flower murals to the street levels to thematically unify the development. It's L.A., so of course, there will be parking, almost 700 spaces total. The asphalt expanse will be hidden by apartments on the Maple Avenue side, and screened in along Wall Street, per the city's Downtown Design Guide. Construction on the $170 million project is expected to begin this year and extend through 2022. To keep the market open, vendors will be moved twice, once into the south building and again to the north building while each respective structure is renovated. The proposed development, slated for a nearly four-acre property bounded by 7th Street, Wall Street, and Maple Avenue, would replace a portion of the existing Flower Market—an approximately 185,000-square-foot building—with a mixed-use 15-story tower featuring:
  • 323 residential units, including 32 to be priced for moderate-income households
  • 64,363 square feet of office space
  • 63,785 square feet of wholesale market space
  • 4,385 square feet of retail space
  • 13,420 square feet of good and beverage space
  • 21,295 square feet of event space
  • 681 parking spaces located in above- and below-grade levels
The Flower Market's north building, spanning approximately 206,517 square feet, will be retained and renovated as part of the project. Brooks + Scarpa will include a series of ground-level pedestrian passageways cutting through the property. The main tower would be broken into three cascading volumes, each capped by terrace decks. Plans also call for an array of exterior finishes including metal, glass, and possibly stone or precast concrete. Above-grade parking levels would be masked by residential units along Maple Avenue and screened, in accordance with the standards of the Downtown Design Guide along Wall Street. In voting to approve the project, the Planning Commission also rejected two appeals of its vesting tentative tract map. The first was submitted by American Florists Exchange, the owner and operator of the neighboring Los Angeles Flower Market, which argued that the introduction of residents into the Flower District could create a conflict with existing industrial uses. A staff report to the Commission indicates that both flower markets are engaged in private discussions and the appeal was filed to preserve the appellants' right to contest the project as it proceeds to the city's approval process. A representative of American Florists Exchange noted that her client was supportive of the neighboring development, with the caveats that the project should be designed to buffer future residents from early-morning noise at the Flower Market and that vehicular access to Wall Street should be maintained during and after construction. The second appeal, filed by the coalition of construction labor unions known as CREEDLA, argued that the project's environmental impact report does not sufficiently consider noise and air quality. The Southern California Flower Market's history dates to 1909, when it was founded by a collective of Japanese-American flower growers at 421 S. Los Angeles Street, before moving to its current location in 1912. The age of the market's existing facilities has been described as the primary impetus behind the project; a motion authored by City Councilmember Jose Huizar called the two buildings "functionally obsolete." But rather than seek a new home outside of Los Angeles city limits, the proposed development would allow for the Flower Market to be retrofitted, with pertinent commercial uses to ensure its long-term viability. In voting to approve the project and deny both appeals, the Commission attached conditions that the project's proposed mural would not count towards the developer's obligation to provide public art and that a portion of the parking should be made ready for electric vehicle charging. Additionally, Commissioners voted to require that all above-grade parking be fully screened from view—a condition that has been placed on several other projects that have recently gone before the body. Project entitlements will next be considered by the City Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee. The Flower Market project sits across Maple Avenue from a surface parking lot where developer Realm Group has obtained entitlements to build a 33-story apartment tower and across 7th Street from the 649 Lofts and Flor 401 Lofts—two permanent supportive housing projects now being built by Skid Row Housing Trust.
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A Leading Light

Elkus Manfredi breathes new life into Charles River Associates’ Chicago office
Rectifying the aesthetic gaffes of the past is not always an easy task. For the transformation of Charles River Associates' Chicago office, it was a question of converting a previously disjointed, dim-lit, and crowded office into a daylight-filled, expansive workplace. Boston-based architecture firm Elkus Manfredi Architects refurbished the two-level, 35,620-square-foot complex into a unified outpost for the international consultancy firm. Hoping to not make the same stylistic mistakes as the property's previous designers, Elkus Manfredi opted for a scheme that champions a timeless aesthetic. "Just because there is a trend, it doesn’t mean you have to follow it," explained the firm's senior workplace strategist & designer Linda MacLeod Fannon. "Charles River Associates' Chicago team truly investigated what was right for them versus what everyone else is doing.” Working closely with the company's internal team, Elkus Manfredi put forward a paradigm-shifting intervention that caters to different activities, tasks, and points of interaction. A balance of private and public areas was introduced, allowing the company's employees to accomplish quiet, focused, heads-down work but also to engage in spontaneous interactions. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Big Money

Alibaba cofounder set to buy SHoP-designed Barclays Center (and the Nets, too)
The cofounder of online retail giant Alibaba is buying the Brooklyn Nets as well as their home arena, the SHoP-designed Barclays Center. The Brooklyn complex is home to the Nets as well as the NHL's New York Islanders (although that team is set to split its games between Brooklyn and Nassau County, New York before its final move to a new stadium complex in 2021). Alibaba's Joseph Tsai already owns 49 percent of the stakes in the Nets—the to-be-signed deal will grant him full ownership of the team as well as the building. The deal is worth more than $700 million, but it's not clear how much of that sum is for the arena. Including the stake he already owns, Tsai is expected to shell out $2.35 billion for the Nets. The soon-to-be previous owner Mikhail Prokhorov started to acquire the Barclays Center and the Nets in 2010 and finished the acquisition in 2015. According to the New York Post, Prokhorov bought the team for $875 million and the building at $825 million, which means he's about to rake in a ton of money on his investment. The Brooklyn Paper reported that the NBA Board of Governors has to sign off on the sale before it's official, a deal which should be sealed by the end of next month. Since 2012, the 19,000-capacity Barclays Center has crowned the intersection of busy Flatbush and Atlantic avenues. The building's glass curtain wall facade is fitted with 12,000 parametrically-modeled weathered steel panels, and the sloping, concave green roof makes it easy to spot from above.
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Wright Refresh

Frank Lloyd Wright's Beth Sholom synagogue to be activated with new exhibition
Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1959 Beth Sholom synagogue in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, is poised for an artistic "activation," as artist David Hartt prepares to debut an exhibition blending sculpture, painting, film, tapestry, plants, and sound to bring a narrative of diaspora to life within the iconic structure.  Opening on September 11 and running through December 19, David Hartt: The Histories (Le Mancenillier) uses Hartt’s various artistic mediums to comment on the shared connection between the stories of both the Jewish and black diasporas. Wright’s synagogue will remain active throughout the show, however, and a challenge for Hartt is to create artwork that will complement, rather than overwhelm, the space and its essential function.  The parenthesized portion of the exhibition title refers to the Manchineel tree, a highly poisonous tree native to the Mediterranean basin, but also the title of a 19th-century piano composition by Louis Moreau Gottschalk. Gottschalk came from a family of mixed German Jewish and Creole descent, and he became known for his melanges of Afro-Caribbean melodies with the classical European tradition. This discovery became a spark of inspiration for Hartt, inciting a trio of works, currently in production by the artist, with the Wright show coming as the first. “I was very interested in the idea of the black and Jewish diasporas as being intertwined,” Hartt told the Art Newspaper, “and I was really interested in the space itself simultaneously hosting two different cultural identities.” The infused nature of the narrative is informed both my Hartt’s professional artistic practice, as well as his professorship in the University of Pennsylvania’s fine arts department. The space will largely be filled with sound, as inspired by the Gottschalk discovery. Acting as an immersive element for viewers of the show, Hartt commissioned new recordings of Gottschalk’s work to accompany the artworks, as well as live performances that feature Jewish, Carribean, and African-American music.  The connections between these two seemingly disparate histories will continue to reveal themselves through Hartt’s other mediums as well. Large monitors will display video taken by the artist on journeys through New Orleans and Haiti, and planters will be filled with tropical plant species, with growth (and ambiance) aided by fuchsia-tinted grow lamps.  The curator of the exhibition, Cole Akers, said that the result is a “convivial atmosphere that audiences will be able to linger in and explore.” Akers, the curator and special projects manager for Philip Johnson’s Glass House, is no stranger to designing within big-name architect’s spaces. “To think about the ways that communities come together and sort of hold each other is a really powerful and poetic statement to make.”
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Nostalgia by the Numbers

#modTEXAS is crowdsourcing midcentury design across the state
Inspired by Oklahoma City’s Okie Mod Squad, a new group of midcentury modern architecture lovers is documenting the leftover treasures from 50 years ago in Texas. modTEXAS, an Instagram crowdsourcing campaign started by Amy Walton and several statewide preservation organizations, is using the hashtag #modtexas to collect content centered on mid-20th-century nostalgia.  Launched in January, the campaign has thus far garnered over 2,000 posts with a range of images featuring famous architecture such as the Johnson Space Center in Houston, to a not-to-miss modernist church in downtown Dallas with a spiral exterior staircase. Even old signs and interior decor are popping up. Walton changes the theme of photographs that can be tagged each month as well. For example, August’s theme in multi-family, and a former photo editor at the Dallas Morning News took a shot of Paul Rudolph’s Brookhollow Plaza. 
To cull together support for the campaign, modTEXAs is working with some major groups on the project including Preservation Dallas, the Texas Historical Commission, the North Texas and San Antonio chapters of Docomomo, and the American Institute of Architects chapters in Corpus Christi and Dallas. As Walton gleans information on the documented projects from various posts, she’s sharing stats and geotags with the groups for their own conservation efforts. D Magazine reported that a real estate site called Candy’s Dirt has also joined the campaign and has created a map of where photographs are taken. Of course, many people are hashtagging images of architecture in more metropolitan cities around the state, so it’s unclear what treasures might be threatened in rural areas if more awareness isn't built on their existence. 
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Construct, Disrupt

Buildstream brings the networked construction equiptment to the job site
Buildstream is a construction startup leveraging data and internet-of-things (IoT) technology to improve the utilization and efficiency of heavy equipment. Started by a team of developers, engineers, and experts from the construction industry, Buildstream has developed hardware and software to empower contractors with precise, real-time information about equipment location and operation. Buildstream uses a custom algorithm to detect equipment operation data gathered from existing OEM systems or their own off-the-shelf IoT hardware. Whether a user owns or rents their equipment, they can gauge performance, track costs, maintenance, and availability, and make better-informed decisions to improve efficiency. This information links to a central dashboard that can be monitored anywhere across the supply chain, on-site or in the office. This proprietary software can also integrate with existing project management software and other tools, connecting everyone involved with a project. In addition to saving time and money, this equipment could also potentially help reduce the environmental impact of the construction industry; better planning and increased efficiency mean diesel-powered machines will burn less fuel than they might otherwise. Making heavy equipment a little smarter is the first step toward embracing the broader changes that may come as the construction industry embraces automation. "Our vision is to become the industry's standard equipment management platform, whether that's autonomous or man-operated equipment," said David Polanski, chief operating officer of Buildstream. "We believe that in order for automation to have real positive impact on the way we run construction projects, we need to have better control of the data that already exists today and have the right systems in place that allow us to learn from it. This is exactly what BuildStream is built for." In addition to improving efficiency, most contractors believe IoT technology will increase job site safety, protect investments, and reduce risk. In fact, according to a recent report by Dodge Data & Analytics, the top motivator for adopting new technology isn't increased efficiency, but lower insurance premiums. The report also notes that there may be challenges to the emerging industry, as few contractors budget for technology, choosing to instead absorb the costs or pass them along to the client. However, as data increases with adoption, so too will the benefits. "When [contractors] see something that will improve their projects and their profitability, they embrace it," said Steve Jones, Senior Director of Industry Insights Research at Dodge Data & Analytics. "Their enthusiasm for IoT technologies suggests that we may see the project job site become much smarter in the next few years."
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Planting in Progress

Hood Design Studio leads revamp of the Oakland Museum roof garden
Hood Design Studio (HDS) will take a stab at revitalizing the famous terraced roof garden atop the Oakland Museum of California. The Kevin Roche-designed Brutalist structure has boasted a lush, 26,4000-square-foot landscape since it opened in 1969, and now the institution is looking to upgrade it for contemporary museum-goers.  The Oakland-based HDS has designed a site-specific intervention that enhances the Dan Kiley-designed outdoor space. Set to break ground next month, the $20 million project will reevaluate the vegetation in the garden by adding native plants from all over California. Specifically, the design team will embed plants representing one of the four ecological regions in the state–desert, coastal forest, woodland, and the Mediterranean climate—on each of the terrace’s levels. Though the plantings might take 15 years to mature, HDS envisions them as lightly spilling over the edges of the site and changing color in tandem with the seasons. In addition to a revamped landscape, HDS plans to demolish the northern garden wall, which was not part of Kiley’s original design, and replace it with a row of trees. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaff told Artnet she thinks the change will create more space and open up the museum to the lakefront in downtown. Throughout the garden, HDS will integrate more seating as well as a permanent stage for performances.  The Oakland Museum of California previously underwent an award-winning renovation from 2010-2012, that was handled by Mark Cavagnero Associates. The San-Francisco studio is working alongside HDS on the latest update to the seven-acre campus, and the roof garden is expected to be finished next fall. 
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The Spaceship has Landed

DS+R's Olympic Museum rises and twists with anodized aluminum
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The United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum, located in the southwest corner of downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado, is being constructed as a 60,000-square-foot curatorial and event facility celebrating American Olympians. The project, designed by New York's Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), with architect-of-record Anderson Mason Dale, was inspired by the movement of athletes; the massing propels upward with shingled anodized aluminum panels and visually rests on a podium of glass curtainwall. DS+R first unveiled their design concept for the project in 2015, broke ground in 2017, and is on track for completion in 2020.
  • Facade Manufacturer MG McGrath Alucoil Oldcastle Building Envelope Viracon
  • Architect Diller Scofidio + Renfro Anderson Mason Dale (Architect-of-Record)
  • Facade Installer MG McGrath GE Johnson (General Contractor)
  • Facade Consultant Arup
  • Structural Engineer KL & A Inc.
  • Location Colorado Springs, CO
  • Date of Completion 2020
  • System OBE Reliance Casette system MG McGrath D-Set Panel System
  • Products Lorin anodized aluminum Viracon VE1-85 Insulating Glass
The massing of the project consists of four petal-like volumes that overlap one another and sprout from the center of the structure. Across each elevation, the facade breaks into distinct planes, bending and contorting as soffit, wall, and roof. "These petals are ruled surfaces, spiraling and twisting up from the ground and aspirationally gesturing toward taking flight," said DS+R Associate Yushiro Okamoto. "The outer skin wraps over the galleries and folds itself to form the walls in the atrium, just like origami. Where surfaces overlap, daylight enters the building and that orients the visitor and marks their trajectory through the museum." From the onset of the design process, the team envisioned a metallic skin and primarily weighed the two options: stainless steel or anodized aluminum. Ultimately, the project called for the latter due to its flexibility, cost, and relatively straightforward maintenance. Although no two of the project's 9,000 panels are the same, the average length ranges between 4-feet-8-inches for the long diagonal sections and 2-feet-8-inches for the short ones, and all are .63 inches thick. Minnesota's MG McGrath both fabricated and installed the museum's facade, and relied on 3D model-based fabrication methods facilitated by Dassault Systemes and Autodesk. Considering the unique qualities of the project, multiple mockups were constructed for the more complex moments of the facade such as the corners where multiple systems meet. Once on-site, each panel was tracked within the digital building model from delivery to installation. To conform with the twisting geometry of the museum, the design and installation teams collaborated with RadiusTrack to develop a curved sheathing, with cold-formed metal framing, which is attached to the primary steel structure with an axial connection. Each panel is fastened to the metal framing with two 3/8-inch Z-girts that run through to the sheathing. Collaboration between the fabricators and design team has proved crucial to the successful execution of the project. "We met weekly. On one end we were discussing the larger design ideas of geometry and expression represented in the layout of panels, on the other end, we were discussing the smallest details and installation tolerances," continued Okamoto. "It was, and still is, an exciting and collaborative learning process for both of us." DS+R associate Yushiro Okamoto and MG McGrath president Mike McGrath will be joining the panel “Facade Strategies for Curatorial Institutions” at The Architect’s Newspaper’s upcoming Facades+ Denver conference on September 12.
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Above and Below

India’s Subterranean Stepwells rise at the Fowler Museum
India’s Subterranean Stepwells: Photographs by Victoria Lautman University of California, Los Angeles 308 Charles E. Young Drive Los Angeles In a show at UCLA’s Fowler Museum, Chicago-based arts journalist Victoria Lautman explores the hidden beauty of an elaborate building type originating in India: the stepwell. Built throughout the subcontinent’s warm, dry regions for the past 1,500 years, stepwells allowed communities to store water from monsoonal rains. These monumental stormwater management systems were built in both Muslim and Hindu architectural styles and served as sites of worship and gathering. Lautman has visited more than 200 stepwells over the past 30 years in an effort to document their importance and ensure their survival. Organized by Joanna Barrkman, senior curator of Southeast Asian and Pacific arts, the exhibition includes 48 photographs taken by Lautman with a point-and-shoot camera, and is arranged in clusters that focus on specific architectural details. Further images, along with GPS coordinates for each stepwell, are included in Lautman’s 2017 book, The Vanishing Stepwells of India.