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CONNECTIVITY, MONITORING, & REMOTE CONTROL

Smart systems to manage the building from inside out
Managing a property can be difficult, but these new smart building systems work to prevent damage and allow you to take action as soon as a problem is detected. Addressing everything from plumbing to Wi-Fi to air quality, here are the newest solutions in residential and commercial applications.
Duette LightLock Shades Hunter Douglas Can’t sleep without complete darkness? Hunter Douglas has a custom window treatment that lives up to its name. The honeycomb-shaped “Lightlock” shades feature overlapping front and back panels that block incoming light. The system can easily be lowered or lifted with the PowerView app and other voice-activated smart home systems.
Phyn Plus Phyn Make your home or office watertight with Phyn Plus. The patented water monitoring system uses ultrasonic sensors to monitor any plumbing system 240 times per second. The app allows users to monitor water usage, shut off the water, and send leak alerts.
Onelink Surround Wi-Fi First Alert Onelink Surround Wi-Fi provides full-speed internet connection around the house (even in “dark zones”) with the benefit of cyber security. The system is compatible with Onelink alarms, enabling connectivity between smart building systems and providing controls to monitor and react to emergency alerts via the app.
SiXCOMBO Honeywell Home In addition to detecting smoke and heat, Honeywell’s monitoring system detects carbon monoxide. The system uses infrared sensors to detect flames, while thermometers measure temperature. Using an encrypted two-way wireless platform, the system alerts all sensors across the home if a danger is detected with blinking lights and voice alerts announcing what action should be taken.
Radiant Furniture Power Center Legrand Providing electricity to both standard plugs and USB connections, Legrand’s power hub is a breeze to install in existing furniture and infrastructure. From a chair to a bookshelf, the power and charging solution fits easily on flat surfaces or can be mounted vertically to provide connectivity in convenient areas.
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Toning Down Toxins

EPA issues new rule on asbestos that goes short of total ban
Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule that tightens restrictions on the use of asbestos-containing products in the United States. Made in response to the wave of criticism the EPA received last summer, the ruling makes adjustments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), forcing companies to gain prior approval from the agency before importing certain items for commercial sale or introducing them into domestic manufacturing processes. The EPA promises to evaluate these items in order to further restrict their use or ban them from the marketplace altogether.  The agency expanded the scope of the rule that was first unveiled last summer by adding four new categories of products and a “catchall” category that would require the review of any asbestos uses not previously noted. Under the final rule, 19 asbestos-containing products including adhesives, sealants, roofing felt, as well as millboard, pipeline wrap, reinforced plastics, and vinyl-asbestos floor tile will be prohibited from entering the market without a risk evaluation by the EPA. Additionally, all five uses of asbestos previously banned under the 1989 law, such as rollboard and flooring felt, will remain prohibited. EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement that before this decision was made, the EPA didn’t have the authority to wholesale prevent or restrict certain asbestos-containing products from being reintroduced into the market. This final rule would effectively close the loophole previously left in the partial ban that was enacted into legislation almost 30 years ago, but for many environmental advocacy groups, this move still isn’t enough. Linda Reinstein, president of Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, told The New York Times the ruling was “toothless,” and that it doesn’t stop raw asbestos from being imported into the United States. According to the recent U.S. Geological Survey Mineral Commodity Summaries report, 300 tons of raw asbestos was imported in 2017 and almost all was used by the chloralkali industry.   This news comes just weeks after Wheeler testified in front of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, saying he’d issue an outright ban on asbestos. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, denounced the ruling, saying it was a “complete betrayal of that commitment.” Pallone in a statement: “It does nothing to restrict ongoing uses of asbestos…instead, it provides a pathway to market for uses that had previously been phased out, such as in floor tiles and insulation.” The EPA says it will take at least 60 days for the final rule to go into effect.
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The Notre Dame Greenhouse

Foster + Partners pitches new Notre Dame spire as competition heats up
Norman Foster has jumped into the international competition to design a replacement spire for Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral, proposing a glass-and-steel topper to replace the cathedral’s ruined roof. According to an interview in English publication The Times, Foster presented his vision for a new “light and airy” roof for the fire-ravaged cathedral. The previous attic space dated back to the 12th century and was nicknamed “The Forest,” as it contained a tangle of 1,300 timber frames, each coming from a unique oak tree—the sheer amount of wood likely fed the fire that ravaged it last week. Foster’s updated vision for the cathedral calls for installing a glass topper, arched to mimic the original wooden roof, ribbed with lightweight steel supports. The new spire would be made of glass and steel and could potentially include an observation deck at its base. “In every case, the replacement used the most advanced building technology of the age,” Foster told The Guardian. “It never replicated the original. In Chartres, the 12th-century timbers were replaced in the 19th century by a new structure of cast iron and copper. The decision to hold a competition for the rebuilding of Notre Dame is to be applauded because it is an acknowledgment of that tradition of new interventions.” The modernization scheme drew an immediate reaction online, where social media users compared the revamped cathedral to a Foster-designed Apple store or the glass Reichstag dome in Berlin. Additionally, several people pointed out that the plan to flood the interior with light would be hamstrung by the stone vaulted ceiling below the attic space and would blow out any light coming in from the historic stained-glass windows. Of course, Foster isn’t the only architect to propose a radical overhaul of the 19th -century spire. Belgian artist Wim Delvoye, known for his neo-Gothic, laser-cut steel sculptures, announced last week that he would be entering the design competition as well. Since the international competition was announced, plenty of people have gotten creative in envisioning “adaptive reuse” projects that give the historic cathedral a bland, modernist overhaul without regard for its surroundings. Even though these have been done in jest, some of them have come quite close to what Foster has proposed. Foster + Partners has clarified that the illustration formerly accompanying this article was not produced by the office or Norman Foster.
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Leggo My Eggo

Architect Andrew MacNair sends a giant egg to Korea
The Egg Chapel is located on the side of a small mountain outside of Seoul up the Han River in the W-Zone Park—a “people’s health, love and happiness park”—built and run by the Hi family under the direction of Pastor Song. The chapel was commissioned to be one of the world’s smallest churches—an ecumenical pilgrimage destination to hold small prayer and song services, baptisms, weddings, and musical performances—inside the chapel as well as outside on the front porch. It was made with Jaesung Jung, Lawrence Marek, and Johanna Post. We built it in Bristol, Rhode Island, with old-school, wood, ocean yacht builders Dan Shay and William Harmon in a series of twelve long curvilinear, vertical shells like small Biblical boats. The shells where shipped from Bristol to Seoul via boat through the Panama Canal and were trucked up to the mountain where we erected it together in one month with four carpenters working by hand with no lifts nor cranes—a 10 meter (32 foot) wooden egg standing straight and tall. The egg is topped off with a wooden dome connecting all hulls into one. It contains a front door facing west and one oval oculus window up high facing east. There are two long, thin windows left and right—a vertical one faces south, a horizontal one faces north. When a person goes into the compressed space of the chapel, first one looks up high to the oculus, bending the neck. Then, entering the 14-foot circular floor, the body brings together the two thin windows so that the horizontal window light comes together with the vertical window light, completing a metaphysical cross of energy and light: the human body connects post and arm of the Christian cross. This first Egg Chapel is part of an ongoing life-work, a Merzbau called “Egg City.” This includes work into an alternative “Not Not Architecture.” The Egg Chapel stands as one example. Simply put, the building is made of just two lines: one circle-line in plan, one vertical egg-line in elevation. We did not design it. It is a generic found object made and given to and for us all.
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The Red Barn stays abstract and minimal
Form and surface meld to express the Red Barn’s inspiration. The simple gabled form with its vibrant red exterior recalls the typology of a traditional barn. Only upon closer inspection do the glazed ends, entry portal, hangar door, and contemporary cladding denote another reality for the building. The Red Barn’s meaning lies somewhere between the past it references and the present it occupies. The Red Barn in Westport, Connecticut, is designed as a contemporary update of the English barn. With Swisspearl the architect was able to clad the barn entirely in one material with an eye-catching red color. With these two statements, Roger Ferris + Partners wanted to reinforce the barn imagery with what the designers call the “graphic efficiency” of the building. The Red Barn draws attention to the state’s agricultural past. Cognizant of history yet rooted in modern materials and construction, the abstracted, minimal Red Barn serves as a symbol of something lost—something people don’t want to forget. Find the whole story including an exclusive interview with the architect Roger Ferris in the Swisspearl Architecture #27. Subscribe to Swisspearl’s magazine to get the printed issue and let yourself be inspired.
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On The Trail

Elizabeth Warren unveils plan to reconnect Americans with public lands
Just in time for Earth Day, Democratic presidential contender Elizabeth Warren has unveiled an ambitious plan that aims to reconnect the American people with the nation’s public lands. The plan, published in a Medium post by the Massachusetts senator, takes aim at the starkly pro-industry policies supported by President Donald Trump by proposing to, among other efforts, ban new fossil fuel exploration on public lands, make admission to every National Park free, and restore the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments that President Trump shrank upon taking office in 2017. Describing her intention to push back against the current administration’s policies, Warren said, “As president, I will use my authorities under the Antiquities Act to restore protections to both [Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears] and any other national monuments targeted by this administration,’’ adding that she would also “fully fund our public land management agencies and eliminate the infrastructure and maintenance backlog on our public lands in my first term.” According to the National Parks Service, America’s National Parks currently suffer from an $11 billion maintenance backlog that has snarled operations across the parks system. Warren plans to address this deferred maintenance by creating a new 10,000 member Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) that would be tasked with carrying out the needed repairs. The original CCC was created as a part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal following the Great Depression, and although workers were segregated by race, the program ultimately put over 3 million unemployed and unmarried young men to work improving federally-held lands during its nine-year lifespan. In a nod to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, Warren also proposes to increase the amount of renewable energy produced on public lands with the goal of providing 10 percent of the U.S.'s overall electricity generation through this initiative. Warren’s plan would also work to increase access to the roughly 10 million acres of public lands spread out across western states that are currently inaccessible due to convoluted ownership and access issues. The plan, Warren hopes, will boost America’s booming “outdoor economy,” which, according to the senator, “accounts for $887 billion in consumer spending each year and creates 7.6 million sustainable jobs that can’t be exported overseas.”
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Green Screen

SHoP’s Pier 35 folds industrial materials into an East River habitat
Pier 35, the latest addition to Manhattan’s waterfront and yet another nod to the industrial heritage of the city’s waterways, is now open to the public just in time for spring. SHoP Architects, together with landscape architecture studio Ken Smith Workshop, have dropped a folded, zigzagging landscape intervention on the eastern edge of Lower Manhattan, in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge. The pier-park’s most striking feature is the 35-foot-tall, 300-foot-long metal screen that both backdrops the park’s landscape as well as hides the Sanitation Department shed at the adjacent Pier 36. As the screen moves eastward and approaches the water’s edge, it rises on weathered Cor-ten steel panels, ultimately bending to create a raised and covered “porch,” complete with swings. A wavey esplanade runs alongside the landscaped lawns and a series of artificial dunes up to the porch, mirroring the sinuous curves of the screen. The underpass of FDR Drive connects with the pier at “Mussel Beach,” a micro-habitat that SHoP and Ken Smith designed in collaboration with ecologist Ron Alaveras. The urban “beach” seeks to recreate the historic conditions of the East River and foster mussel growth, similar to the work being done by the Billion Oyster Project. The 65-foot-long beach’s precast slopes and outcroppings are exposed and submerged as the East River rises and falls, mirroring the tidal conditions that mussels require “in the wild.” Mussel Beach was made possible through a grant from the New York Department of State’s Division of Coastal Resources, as it’s a prototypical environment that, if successful, could be replicated elsewhere. Although Pier 35 was launched with a soft opening in mid-December, the canopy and plants have sprung up just in time for Earth Day 2019.
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Fire and Future

Weekend edition: Notre Dame, Jeanne Gang, Harvard, and more
Missed some of this week’s architecture news, or our tweets and Facebook posts from the last few days? Don’t sweat it—we’ve gathered the week’s must-read stories right here. Enjoy! Here's what saved the Notre Dame Cathedral from total destruction Though a battered version of its former self, Notre Dame still stands today largely because its 226-foot twin bell towers were kept from ruin. France launches an international competition to rebuild Notre Dame’s spire After a fire tore through the 850-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral earlier this week, the French government has vowed to rebuild in only five years. Sarah Whiting chosen as next dean of Harvard Graduate School of Design Harvard GSD has selected its new dean: Sarah Whiting of Rice University's School of Architecture will succeed Mohsen Mostafavi beginning in July. Jeanne Gang makes the 2019 TIME 100 list Gang has been awarded a slot in the TIME 100's "Titans" section, grouping her as a leader in her field alongside Mark Zuckerberg and Lebron James.
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Architectural Atrocity Tourism

The Cursed Architecture Twitter feed showcases the best of the worst
What drives the internet’s (perhaps morbid) obsession with bad design? Strange angles, melting paint, oddly-placed and vaguely threatening toilets, signage that hinders rather than helps, stairs to nowhere, and misplaced windows have all caused digital rubbernecking. Whether it’s critiquing the bric-a-brac nature of suburban homes assembled by the nouveau-riche in McMansion Hell, or posting abject failures in the 1.5-million-member-strong r/CrappyDesign subreddit, the demand for “bad design” to critique seems bottomless. The worst offenders are frequently aggregated on Instagram, meme-y Facebook pages, Twitter, and listicles, repackaged and reshared failures of design for new audiences. Enter the Cursed Architecture Twitter account, which has been posting baffling, incomplete, and/or possibly haunted buildings since September of last year. When asked about where they compile their material from and why they think it has such an enduring appeal, the owner of Cursed Architecture had this to say: "I started collecting the images a couple of years ago because I thought they were funny, and later on made the account for my own entertainment. I never expected it to be so popular—or popular at all. I’m a little stunned by it, honestly. The images come from all over the Internet: house listings, DIY forums, and so on. Some are submitted to me. "We live in a very planned, sanitary, squared-off world. I think that’s why the failures are so funny, and why they resonate. So much current architecture is totally impersonal, but a bizarre mistake is the opposite. It invites the question of who did it, and why, and who thought three urinals crowded into a corner or a staircase to nowhere was a good idea. There’s something very human about that." Perhaps the collective fascination with such failures stems from the internet’s ability to give would-be critics a seat at the table, allowing anyone to weigh in. It’s also possible that when faced with overwhelmingly terrible design that fails at a basic level, everyone can put aside their quibbles and unite to make fun of it, together.
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Coming Attractions

Atlanta amps up its entertainment industry with 27-acre Pullman Yard development
There’s a blighted train depot east of downtown Atlanta that’s getting the Hollywood treatment. In an upcoming $100 million mixed-use project, the historic Pullman Yard in the Kirkwood neighborhood will transform from a 27-acre underutilized industrial site into a new “creative city” for the entertainment industry. Spearheaded by the site’s new owner, Atomic Entertainment, the plan involves building a series of lofts, co-working spaces, a boutique hotel, retail, restaurants, and an outdoor concert venue to attract startups and other creatives to the east Atlanta site. A new set of renderings of the Pullman Yard masterplan was recently unveiled, featuring designs by Brooklyn-based studio OCX and Raleigh, North Carolina, firm Hobgood Architects. Atomic, led by two Los Angeles-based film producers, aims to turn the 115-year-old former railyard into Atlanta’s newest moviemaking mecca, a pedestrian-centric campus devoted to the city’s $9 billion film and television industry, and its booming music scene. Adam Rosenfelt of Atomic believes the entire project will become a “paradigm for development” going forward. “We’re coming at this from a slightly different perspective as people that work in a collaborative art form,” he said. “This is our first building project, so we’re trying to figure out how to build a mixed-use lot blending the creative and cultural economies of food, entertainment, living, and working, rather than setting up space for the traditional big-box retail economy, which could have easily overtaken this historic area." The site itself is formally known as Pratt-Pullman Yard and encompasses 12 buildings totaling 153,000 square feet. Constructed in 1904 as a sugar and fertilizer processing plant, it eventually developed into a repair facility for railroad sleeper cars, and during World War II, it housed munitions manufacturing. It has most recently served as the backdrop for scenes in futuristic films such as Hunger Games, Divergent, and the critically-acclaimed action movie Baby Driver. In 2009, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, though it has suffered from serious neglect for decades. In 2016, it was designated a local landmark. The site’s main facilities, two brick-and-steel, barn-like warehouses, will be renovated under Atomic’s vision as the central architectural focus of the preservation project. The renovation is part of the first phase of construction, now underway, and is led by OCX and local firm Lord Aeck Sargent. The rest of the masterplan, designed in collaboration with Hobgood Architects, includes upgrading other existing structures, constructing new buildings, and integrating a site-specific landscape component by James Corner Field Operations. Karen Tamir, principal-in-charge on the project, said Field Operations may use local relics in new ways to preserve the yard’s industrial roots. They’ll also add a new piece of parkland that stretches from the center of the site to the south as a nod to the old railroad delineation. “There’s also a large swath of woodland to the east of Pullman Yard that we’ll connect via existing trails, so overall there’ll be ample greenery and room for exploration and relaxation,” Wagner said. “We won’t, however, propose many trees for the historic core because traditionally, they weren’t there when the yards were built.” Keeping the site’s existing industrial conditions, while simultaneously promoting a verdant outdoor environment means thinking critically about the logistics of jobs that will take place there. To accommodate pedestrians and trucks coming in and out of the facilities, Luke Willis, principal of OCX, intends to connect all programs on-site via a diagonal axis that cuts through the various building blocks. “This allows us to diversify the building typologies and program use to ultimately contribute to the mixed-use development that Atomic envisions for their creative city.” At the heart of the campus will be the renovated warehouses and a series of soundstages, one of which will be born from an existing 20,000-square-foot steel-clad structure situated near Roger Street, which is the entrance to Pullman Yard, and the rail line leading to downtown Atlanta. Rethinking these historic structures, among other playful design ploys to attract residents and visitors, will make Pullman Yard both a live-work-play destination and a place that not only showcases its former value with pride but also brings new value to the city today, according to Rosenfelt. An official completion date for Pullman Yard has not yet been revealed, but Atomic hopes to finish the renovation projects by the end of 2020.
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Green Deal With It

NYC Council passes sweeping building emission legislation
Some of New York’s tallest towers are doing the most harm to the environment. Although buildings larger than 25,000 square feet only represent two percent of the city’s stock, according to the Urban Green Council that minority is responsible for up to half of all building emissions. Now the New York City Council is finally cracking down on the worst offenders, and New York will soon become the first city in the world to constrain large building emissions through hard limits. Yesterday the council passed the eight-bill Climate Mobilization Act, a legislative package that some are comparing to a New Green Deal for New York. The Climate Mobilization Act, which Mayor de Blasio is expected to sign, would set increasingly harsh limits on carbon emissions for buildings over 25,000 square feet beginning in 2024. According to the Urban Green Council, New York City produces 50 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, and buildings account for approximately 67 percent of that—meaning buildings over 25,000 square feet produce 35 percent, or about 13 million tons of carbon dioxide, a year. The legislation covering the affected 50,000 buildings will roll out in phases. This year, an Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance and an advisory board will be created at the Department of Buildings to both regulate and enforce the new standards. When the law fully takes effect in 2024, emissions from qualifying buildings will need to be reduced 40 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. The Climate Mobilization Act then takes things one step further and requires that these same buildings slash their emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Why are large buildings such energy hogs? Lighting, heating, cooling, and tech requirements, combined with inefficient equipment, all constrained within leaky envelopes, have combined to create a perfect storm of waste. Retrofitting these massive buildings to use or waste less energy is projected to potentially create thousands of jobs for architects, energy modelers, engineers, and construction workers, as everything from inefficient windows to HVAC systems will need to be replaced. For those structures that can’t be brought up to code on schedule, their owners can offset a portion of their emissions by purchasing renewable energy credits. If an owner still isn’t in compliance, they can be hit with an ongoing fine based on their actual emissions versus the cap. The real estate industry had been a vocal opponent of the measure, arguing that it would place an undue burden on both it and tenants. “The overall effect is going to be that an owner is going to think twice before she rents out any space: ‘Is the next tenant I’m renting to going to be an energy hog or not?’” Carl Hum, general counsel for the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), told the New York Times. “There’s a clear business case to be made that having a storage facility is a lot better than having a building that’s bustling with businesses and workers and economic activity.” Still, those fears appear unwarranted. Part of the Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance’s job will be to work with landlords and tenants and issue variances for buildings with higher energy requirements.
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"This Incandescent Wound"

Dominique Perrault reflects on the Notre Dame Cathedral fire

Notre Dame, the heart of the heart of Paris, treasure of the Île de la Cité, has just suffered one of the most trying moments in its long history. Across all lands and cultures of the world, this drama leaves us speechless, touching the hearts and arresting the gaze of everyone. It reminds us all how much architecture, and indeed every artifact, is a fragile thing. Notre Dame is now tragic proof that the preservation of our rich built heritage, of the tangible traces of the great heights of craftsmanship that have been achieved, wherever they may be, is indispensable. This incandescent wound also reveals the emotional dimension carried by architecture and how its universal cultural value, its unique symbolic force, and its mythical dimension nourish the arts, literature, and every individual’s own, personal geography.

Notre Dame is an absolutely unique place, at the heart of the Île de la Cité, from Roman Lutetia to Greater Paris, a land unto itself. This disaster has aroused an immense wave of emotion in the hearts of architects who every day are building and rebuilding the history of architecture.

Tasked in 2015 with conducting an in-depth study of the means of ensuring the continued urban centrality of the Île de la Cité, in collaboration with Philippe Belaval, President of the Center for National Monuments, this event leaves me particularly heartbroken. We made this “island monument," included on UNESCO's World Heritage List, the focus of innovative research and experimentation concerning the island’s future that was open to the participation of the public.

The rebuilding of Notre Dame will be an extremely delicate undertaking, and we must not allow ourselves to be discouraged by the irreversible loss of the medieval ribbed roof, also known as “the forest." Our heritage is a sedimentation deposited across the ages, with practically every century leaving its imprint on the cathedral. “Every wave of time superinduces its alluvion." It will have to be rebuilt, and without altering the substance of its heritage.

Therefore, we are compelled to completely review our relation to our heritage and to believe in its capacity for resilience. Notre Dame must be made to live again, and the best way to protect it is to see it through a vision of the future, which, through beauty, will transcend a simple restitution.

Finally, the unique energy of this place must be marshaled to restore to it an even more powerful presence, a wider resonance, transfiguring, amplifying, and exalting it into something else. The stakes regarding the future of this monument are unique. For Notre Dame and its island must once again incarnate the beating heart of a city that has become a vast metropolis. A most fascinating challenge indeed.

Dominique Perrault, Architect, Member of the Institut de France