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Let the Games Begin

Construction of 2020 Olympic venues complete as cancellation fears loom
Construction of all the final permanent venue for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics is now complete, according to Japan Today. Completion of the Tokyo Aquatics Center at the end of February marked the official end of construction of major venues in preparation for the games in July. The Aquatics Center spans four stories and seats up to 15,000 fans, with a movable wall that can split the facility into two separate 82-foot pools. The Aquatics Center rounds out a number of other significant venues throughout Tokyo, including the Kengo Kuma-designed National Stadium. Built exclusively from wood and steel, the stadium holds 68,000 people and draws inspiration from traditional Japanese architectural techniques and was completed last November. It is specially designed to provide a buffer from Tokyo’s notoriously hot summers thanks to a smartly designed passive cooling system. Kuma’s design came before anyone knew just how stressful the period leading up to the games would become—in recent months, the rapid spread of COVID-19 in Japan and beyond have caused a global health crisis, causing speculation that Tokyo 2020 might face a forced cancellation. In a press statement last week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board announced its intention to continue planning for the games while monitoring the situation and heeding the advice of the World Health Organization (WHO):
The IOC will continue to follow the advice of WHO, as the leading United Nations agency on this topic. The IOC EB expressed its thanks to WHO for its continued valuable advice and cooperation. It also praised the great unity and solidarity of the athletes, National Olympic Committees, International Federations and governments. It welcomed their close collaboration and flexibility with regard to the preparations for the Games, and particularly the qualification events. All stakeholders continue to work closely together to address the challenges of the coronavirus.
A joint task force involving the IOC, Tokyo 2020, the City of Tokyo, the Japanese government, and the WHO was formed in mid-February and will continue to evaluate the risks posed by coronavirus as the Olympics and Paralympics approach. The games are currently still scheduled to take place from July 24 through August 9, 2020. However, as the situation continues to develop, it appears even the games’ organizing committee is scrambling to get on the same page.
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The shorter version

Related unveils plan for truncated towers at Chicago Spire site
One of Chicago’s most notorious—and notoriously well-located—construction pits may soon at long-last be the site of renewed activity as plans to build two lanky, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)-designed residential towers at 400 N. Lake Shore Drive attempt, once again, to move forward in the approval process. As the Chicago Tribune reports, there’s been some substantial tweaks to the design at the Related Midwest-developed site. The towers, which will have a combined 1,1000 residential units, have both been scaled back in height, one reduced from 1,100 feet to 875 feet and the other from 850 feet to 765 feet. A hotel planned for the taller of the two towers has also been axed due to traffic and security concerns, among other changes to the towers’ design. The much-anticipated development of what never materialized beyond a large, gaping circular hole on a primo parcel of land on the Chicago River waterfront has been a hot topic in the Chicago real estate world for more than a decade. The coveted Streeterville site was originally slated to be graced with Santiago Calatrava’s 2,000-foot-tall Chicago Spire condominium tower, a project that was halted after 30 percent of its units were sold and a 76-foot-deep foundation was dug during the 2008 economic crisis. Calatrava’s curvy, cloud-brushing tower would have been the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere at the time, if it had ever been realized. “When the design was first shown in 2005, I wrote it could be the city’s first metrosexual skyscraper, although I predicted it would never get built,” wrote Chicago Sun-Times business reporter David Roeder of Calatrava's design. “Yeah, I was right, but true foresight would have had me not covering real estate and instead shorting everything in the market ahead of the crash of 2008.” Related Midwest took control of the site in 2014 and revealed its initial plans—designed by SOM’s David Childs—for the twin residential high-rises in 2018. The plan, however, was later rejected by 42nd Ward alderman Brendan Reilly, who echoed numerous concerns voiced by local residents and business owners including the project’s height. Related, in turn, was forced to go back to the drawing board. In 2019, the developer received an extension to commence construction on the delayed project without having to revisit the zoning approval process according to the Tribune. It’s now back in the hands of Reilly to give his blessing to the shorter, altered version of SOM’s original design before the project can progress and go before the City Council for approval, then eventually kick-off construction. Reilly has scheduled a public meeting to review Related’s revamped plans for the site.
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Bringing Up The House

Rafael Viñoly-designed courthouse will remake Jersey City’s Journal Square
Renderings of the new Hudson County courthouse in Jersey City have been revealed, showing a truss stacked on bands of glass for the new Frank J. Guarini Justice Complex, set to be completed in 2023 at 595 Newark Street. With construction currently estimated at $345 million, the project is “one of the largest-ever publically-funded projects in New Jersey,” according to New York Yimby. Designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects, who completed the Bronx County Hall of Justice in 2006, the building is the picture of structural expressionism with extra-large concrete columns and glazing set behind metal cross bracing. The building resembles a two-story box truss stretched over an open atrium. The 400,000-square-foot project includes 24 courtrooms, hearing and mediation rooms, jury assembly spaces, offices, a 75-seat food court, a self-help law library, and a new facility for the sheriff’s department. A 459-space parking garage, wrapped in a metal facade, turns the corner onto Central Avenue. The Hudson County Courthouse (HCC) website states that “the courthouse was designed to facilitate use by the public and to ensure the security of all visitors,” positioning the public amenities and high-traffic courtrooms on the ground level and the Criminal Court and Family Court on the second and third levels, respectively. The top two floors of the building will house the administrative offices. Land clearance for the 5-story, LEED Silver building began in 2018 but will continue with the 1953 Hudson County Administration building. The Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA) will demolish the existing building on the site, which was deemed in need of complete renovation to reach modern acceptability in a 1993 study, according to an article on nj.com. Described by Assignment Judge Peter Bariso Jr. on the HCC website as “essentially kept alive with Band-Aids,” the administration building would require a substantial financial investment to fix its security, electrical, and asbestos issues. The Frank J. Guarini Justice Complex will require road reconfigurations, eliminating Cook Street and reconnecting Central Avenue between Hoboken and Newark Avenues to improve traffic flow to and around the project. Oakland Avenue will be widened from a one-way to a two-way street. The Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders awarded a $2.6 million road construction contract to Garfield-based Zuccaro Incorporated in February, as reported by Jersey Digs. The 2020-2021 phase of the project will also include a partial renovation of the neighboring historic William J. Brennan Courthouse, which will continue to hold court throughout the construction. The HCIA issued a statement in November 2019, stating that the project’s amenities are consistent with Jersey City’s 2060 Redevelopment Plan to improve the neighborhood. These plans include a 3-acre public park in Journal Square but are not scheduled until 2024. The project's groundbreaking is set for the summer of 2020.
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You’ve Got Jail

Fifteen architects and designers will advise design of Rikers Replacement jails
In October 2019, the City Council approved a controversial Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) application for the $8.7 billion plan to construct four new smaller jails to replace the Rikers Island complex. Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx would each get a community jail building that the reformists and their supporters in the Mayor’s Office for Criminal Justice (MCOJ) called “smaller, safer, and fairer.” “This is part of a once-in-many-generations opportunity to build a smaller and more humane justice system that includes four facilities that reflect the City’s commitment to dignity and respect,” the NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) said at the time. “The new facilities will offer better connections to and space for those detained and their families, attorneys, courts, medical and mental health care, education, therapeutic programming and service providers.” In addition to the Borough-Based Jail Program (BBJP)’s larger urban ambitions of moving the detention facilities off of Rikers and closer to the communities where inmates come from, on February 4, the DDC issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a pool of design-build teams that will propose schemes to dismantle and build new facilities across the four selected boroughs. AECOM and Hill Engineering have already been tapped to help envision and implement a design-forward approach to the new sites. When The Rikers Island Jail Complex Replacement Act was passed in 2018, it was made clear that design, quality, past performance, and qualifications would be the priority rather than simple budget concerns. The DDC and the MOCJ, in conjunction with the NYC Department of Correction (DOC), announced an independent peer review committee of architects and designers yesterday that will assist in the selection and design that will help select the teams from the RFQ, provide guidelines for the RFP, and participate in architectural review that will “ensure high-quality design submissions that balance aesthetics, functionality, cost, constructability and durability.” Several of the reviewers have been involved in the BBJP process already, having served on the Justice Implementation Task Force’s Working Group on Design. Below are the Peer Review Panelists:
Dominick DeAngelis, RA, AIA, Vice President of Architecture and Engineering, NYC School Construction Authority Mr. DeAngelis is responsible for the design of $18 billion of construction over the next five years that will create 57,000 seats in 87 new schools or additions, and upgrade 1,840 additional NYC public schools. Wendy Feuer, Assistant Commissioner for Urban Design + Art + Wayfinding, NYC Department of Transportation Ms. Feuer’s DOT office makes streets attractive and welcoming for all users, and publishes a street design manual for City agencies, consultants and community groups. She has been a public art peer for the federal General Services Administration’s Design Excellence program for over 15 years.  Erik Fokkema, Architect, Partner, EGM Architecten Mr. Fokkema has expansive experience in the Netherlands in institutional facilities, as well as private residential and public buildings. He is an expert in building operations, making the complex simple, and designing humane and user-friendly buildings.  Mark Gardner, AIA, NOMA, Principal, Jaklitsch/Gardner Architects New York-based architect Mark Gardner’s experience scales from buildings to interiors to product design, and he works to understand the role of design as a social practice. He is an expert and strong advocate for diversity and inclusion in architecture and design.  Rosalie Genevro, Executive Director, The Architectural League of New York An architectural historian and urbanist, Ms. Genevro has led initiatives at The Architectural League addressing housing, schools, libraries and topics such as climate change. She is a frequent contributor on the City’s building environment. Samantha Josaphat, RA, Founding Principal, Studio 397 Architecture Ms. Josaphat’s portfolio includes architecture and interior design of higher education projects, as well as large- and small-scale residential projects, to which she brings impressive knowledge of the City’s building regulations. She is President of the New York Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects. Purnima Kapur, Urbanism Advisors, former Executive Director, NYC Department of City Planning Ms. Kapur was a key architect of the City’s groundbreaking Mandatory Inclusionary Housing regulation, which has led to five Integrated Neighborhood plans, and has been integral to the redevelopment of Brooklyn over the past two decades via projects including the Greenpoint-Williamsburg Waterfront, Downtown Brooklyn and Coney Island. Bruce Kuwabara, OC, OAA, FRAIC, AIA, RIBA, Partner, KPMB Architects One of Canada’s leading architects, Mr. Kuwabara’s diverse portfolio encompasses cultural, civic, educational, healthcare and performing arts projects in North America and Europe. Luis Medina-Carreto, Project Manager, Press Builders Mr. Medina is an expert in New York City construction management and methods, with a reputation of bringing projects to completion on schedule and on budget in the City’s complicated building environment. Gudrun Molden, Architect, Founding Partner, HLM Architects Gudrun Molden comes to the City from Norway with extensive experience in detention facility architecture in an urban context, including Oslo city center and Åna prison in Norway. Nancy Prince, RLA, ASLA, Chief of Landscape Architecture, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation Ms. Prince establishes the design aesthetic and vision for the Parks Department’s large and varied portfolio of projects. Prior to entering public service, Ms. Prince spent years designing New York City’s parks and playgrounds. Stanley Richards, Executive Vice President, The Fortune Society With decades of experience in the criminal justice field, Stanley leads Fortune’s management, direct service programs, fundraising and advocacy work to promote alternatives to incarceration and support successful reentry from prison. Annabelle Selldorf, AIA, Principal, Selldorf Architects Ms. Selldorf founded her practice in New York City over 30 years ago. Her firm’s broad expertise has been applied in cultural, educational, industrial and residential projects throughout the United States. Lisa Switkin, FAAR, ASLA, Senior Principal, James Corner Field Operations Ms. Switkin has helped to reshape New York City’s public spaces for 20 years, including the design and delivery of the High Line, Brooklyn’s Domino Park and the public spaces at South Street Seaport’s Pier 17. Andrew Winters, AIA, Head of Development Services, Sidewalk Labs While serving as Director of the Office of Capital Project Development under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Mr. Winters oversaw the development of public assets such as the High Line, East River Waterfront and Brooklyn Bridge Park. More recently he has overseen the planning, design and construction of the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island.
“Superior design is an essential element for creating the City’s more humane and more equitable justice system,” said DDC commissioner Lorraine Grillo in the panel’s announcement press release. “These buildings will be important civic structures, reflecting the ambition of the City’s justice reforms, ensuring the dignity and well-being of those who are incarcerated, work and visit them, and integrating into the city centers where they are located,” the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice director Elizabeth Glazer added. Workshops and community feedback have informed the process, including an emphasis on using community space, and the public meetings will give citizens the opportunity to give input on the ground floor sections. However, some feel that the city has not done enough to listen and reach out. A series of lawsuits are pending against three of the four facilities. Activist and neighborhood groups in Manhattan claim that the city did not reach out to the community, namely senior citizens living at the nearby Chung Pak center, and that the city knew about Native American human remains in the area that could be affected. The suit was filed by Neighbors United Below Canal and the American Indian Community House. A lawsuit in the Bronx claims the de Blasio administration failed to consider alternative sites, ignored environmental impact reports, and went around the required public review processes. In Queens, Queens Residents United and the Community Preservation Coalition make similar claims about top-down planning and lack of engagement with residents of the neighborhood. The DDC is proceeding with the projects, a spokesperson for the department told AN, while Nick Paolucci at the NYC Department of Law told AN that, “This litigation is ongoing. We stand by the city and its approvals for this important initiative.” “Our borough-based jails plan is the culmination of years of collaboration between the city, local elected officials, and the communities they represent,” City spokesman Avery Cohen told Court House News. “We will vigorously defend our work in court as we move forward with our commitment to close Rikers Island and create a justice system is that is smaller, safer, and fairer.” The fight is far from over. The RFP guidelines will be reviewed by the City Planning Commission, NYC Department of City Planning Design, an Advisory Group appointed by the City Council and affected Borough Presidents, and the Public Design Commission, who will also review the final proposals as the massive project moves through ULURP.
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Yes In Our Backyard

YIMBY Act passes House of Representatives, could pave the way for more affordable housing
Last Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) Act, which directly addresses the affordable housing crisis currently felt throughout the country by streamlining affordable housing production and zoning for high-density single-family and multifamily housing. The piece of legislation, H.R. 4351, was first put forth in September 2019 by Dennis Heck and Trey Hollingsworth, the US Representatives for Washington’s 10th congressional district and Indiana’s 9th congressional district, respectively. They introduced the bill at the time by stating that the US currently faces an estimated shortage of seven to ten million housing units, significantly more than at any other time in the country’s history. “America is missing millions of homes, and solving our nationwide housing crisis will require federal, state and local governments to work together towards this shared goal,” Heck said in a press statement. In response to that monumental challenge, the bill proposes several efforts to reduce the hurdles currently associated with affordable housing production, including the reduction of minimum lot sizes, increasing development in areas close to transit centers, and allowing for the construction of duplexes and manufactured homes in areas currently zoned for single-family homes. Increasing the allowable floor area ratio in multifamily housing areas and providing incentives to produce adaptive reuse projects are just a few of the measures listed throughout the bill that could dramatically improve the housing crisis. Many of the measures included, in fact, are similar to those in other, smaller bills passed throughout the country, such as SB-13 in California, which streamlined the process to produce accessory dwelling units in an effort to increase the state's housing density. Prior to receiving approval from the House without opposition, the YIMBY Act received support from multiple nonprofit organizations dedicated to the affordable housing crisis, including the American Planning Association, the Congress for New Urbanism, the Council for Affordable and Rural Housing, and Habitat for Humanity International. Hollingsworth said in a press statement that its bipartisan passage "signals strong support across the aisle to reform our nation’s housing regulations at all levels of government.” The YIMBY act must still pass the Senate and ultimately receive a presidential signature before being signed into law.
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Lost at Sea

Plans to transform Australia’s Cockatoo Island into permanent art site rejected
Off the southern coast of Japan is a small island town named Naoshima, hailed as the country’s “art island” for hosting Tadao Ando-designed museums and large outdoor sculptures by artists such as Yayoi Kusama, Walter De Maria, and George Rickey. Since adopting its recent cultural status in the last decade, the quaint island town of 3,000 permanent residents now receives more than 700,000 visitors annually. Australia nearly has a ‘Naoshima’ of its own in Cockatoo Island, an even smaller body of land off the coast of Sydney that UNESCO proclaimed as a World Heritage Site in 2010 and, in coordination with the Biennale of Sydney, has temporarily hosted large-scale installations by artists including Ai Weiwei and Cai Guo-Qiang within its historic industrial buildings. In an attempt to solidify the island’s new-found cultural role, the Cockatoo Island Foundation Limited was established last year to transform Cockatoo Island into a permanent art site. Like Naoshima, the group envisioned Cockatoo Island as a site of multiple indoor and outdoor works of art with plenty of landscaping left over to benefit native biodiversity. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the group contains prominent art world figures, including Danny Goldberg and Tony Berg, that have guaranteed to put $80 million towards the project if the federal government would chip in another $190 million. “There is absolutely no personal commercial benefit in this,” Berg told the Herald. “We have this vision for something really fantastic to happen on Cockatoo Island, make it a place of excitement, but if at the end of the day, the review and the government say that is not the way they want to go, we will pack up our stuff and go away.”

The proposal, however, was recently rejected by the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, the organization that currently owns the island, stating that the move could negatively affect the site's historical presence. “When we were set up 20 years ago,” Joseph Carrozzi, chairman of the trust, told the Art Newspaper, “the concept of the trust was to protect, rehabilitate and preserve the historical sites. We want the government to say the trust should have an ongoing role in managing these sites because they are unique. We want all the assets to be fundamentally community assets, and (used) for the purpose of telling the story of Australia in a very specific way[...] rather than a commercialized enterprise.”

The island is currently locked in an ongoing tension between its historic past and its potential future as a haven for contemporary art. At the very least, Cockatoo Island will continue its participation in the Biennale of Sydney, including its 22nd iteration taking place throughout the city starting March 14.
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Sunny Days Ahead?

Master plan for Sunnyside Yard megadevelopment places affordable housing front and center
The master plan for Sunnyside Yard, the second rail yard-blanketing megadevelopment to take root in New York City in less than a decade, has been unveiled. But when comparing Sunnyside Yard, in western Queens, to its predecessor, the upmarket enclave Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s far West Side, similarities between the two, aside from their positioning atop active rail yards and their massive size—28 acres for Hudson Yards and a staggering 144 acres for Sunnyside Yard—are far and few between. When the first of Hudson Yards’ two phases opened in March 2019 seven years after breaking ground, the new neighborhood, studded with skyscrapers designed by an impressive roster of top architects, became an instant magnet for controversy over, among other things, its preponderance of multimillion-dollar condos. (To be clear, there isn’t a total dearth of affordable housing at Hudson Yards.) Sunnyside Yard takes a dramatically different approach, and much-needed affordable housing is at the very core of the sprawling development master-planned by Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU). In total, Sunnyside Yard will include 12,000 affordable housing units—the most in New York City since Co-Op City in the Bronx was completed in 1973—as the Wall Street Journal reports. Half of Sunnyside Yard’s apartments will be earmarked as affordable rentals for New Yorkers earning 50 percent below the area median income and the other half reserved for affordable homeownership initiatives. Half of the aforementioned affordable rentals would be reserved for very low-income New York families earning less than 30 percent of the area median income. In addition to housing, the ground-up carbon-neutral neighborhood, a project of the New York City Economic Development Corp (EDC) co-planned with Amtrak, will include 60 acres of parkland and open public space, multiple libraries, a score of healthcare facilities, and up to a dozen new schools. “While the overall program is flexible in terms of location and quantities,” explained PAU, “the plan calls for 100 percent affordable housing; a mix of office, retail, light-manufacturing and institutional programs; and lays out an armature of public goods to support these uses.” While Sunnyside Yard has yet to be slapped with a total price tag, the cost to build a protective deck over most of the 180-acre rail yard partly owned by Amtrak—the master plan encompasses 80 percent of the total site—is estimated at $14.4 billion. This also includes the cost of building out necessary street-level infrastructure, utilities, and more. New Yorkers shouldn’t hold their breaths for a huge influx of affordable housing soon, as the project will take decades to complete, with a new regional transit hub, Sunnyside Station, taking priority over housing in terms of what will come first. PAU notes that “the team has identified a series of early investments that respond to pressing community needs and could be implemented in the near term.” Sunnyside Station, identified through community engagement as one of the pressing needs, is one of these early investments. Developers have yet to be selected for the project although the plan gives priority to women- and minority-owned firms and community-centered nonprofits. A consortium composed of Amtrak, the MTA, and the city, along with “community and elected officials will guide the planning process,” wrote the Journal. Writes PAU:
Encircled by thriving neighborhoods that are both tall and small, artistic and prosaic, diverse and even more diverse, Sunnyside should connect, celebrate, and enhance its surroundings. Like the rest of Queens, with its vast industrial and residential neighborhoods, the World’s Fair grounds, MoMA PS1, the Noguchi Museum, Socrates Sculpture Park, and Gantry Plaza State Park, the ideas for Sunnyside must be diverse, creative, and contemporary. These places—like the future-facing borough they call home that led New York into the Jet Age—have never been about the same old same old, never about nostalgia, and never succumb to the banal. Neither should Sunnyside Yard, which could portend our future as a city.
“It’s unprecedented in the last 50 years and it’s amazing,” Jonathan F.P. Rose, an urban planner and affordable housing developer, told the Journal. “When you combine those things with schools, parks, health care, social services, it creates the platform for people to move forward economically with their lives.” How Sunnyside Yard will be paid for is a detail that’s yet to be ironed out, and backers of the project admit funding will be an uphill battle moving forward. Cash will likely come from a mix of federal, state, and city resources including affordable housing subsidies and tax-exempt bonds. Sunnyside Yard recently made news when the project's EDC-organized steering committee lost Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sylvia White of the Justice for All Coalition as members. Their resignation came after local residents and leaders strongly objected to the project during a months-long public outreach period. Those in opposition believe that the funds that would be allocated by the city to develop and build Sunnyside Yard should instead be used for more urgent community needs. In her resignation letter, Ocasio-Cortez argued that funds “should be invested in shoring up the existing transportation infrastructure that already exists there or investing it in other under-funded public resources that our community relies on.” “Sunnyside Yards presents an opportunity to build a stronger New York for generations to come that includes more open space, transit, affordable housing, jobs and green infrastructure in western Queens,” wrote an EDC spokesperson in response. “This planning process has always put community engagement at the center. We’re committed to continuing our work with the community to build a strategic vision that can better serve local residents and all New Yorkers.” It was first announced that the New York-based PAU had been selected to develop the project master plan in May 2018. Landscape architecture firm Nelson Byrd Woltz and Carlo Ratti Associati are among the collaborators that worked alongside PAU in realizing the vision, which as the Sunnyside Yard executive summary states, is “not a shovel-ready mega-development plan, but rather a long-term framework to guide decisions, ensuring that they are led by public priorities, and centered on human needs.” “As an architecture firm deeply committed to advancing equitable, ecological, and joyful cities, PAU has been honored to collaborate with the City, Amtrak, the Steering Committee, our extraordinary consulting team, and innumerable local stakeholders on this intensively community-based, long-term vision for Sunnyside Yard,” said Vishaan Chakrabarti, founder of PAU, in a statement. “At over 180 acres, the Yard represents our city’s most significant opportunity to realize shared progressive goals all in a carbon neutral environment that will set a model globally for sustainable urban growth while maintaining a scale and density reflective of Western Queens. Neighboring communities now have a unique opportunity to leverage this Plan to address long-standing needs in terms of transportation, housing, jobs, open space, social infrastructure, and environmental resilience.” In a 2019 article about Sunnyside Yard, AN editor-in-chief William Menking speculated that “we are more likely to get another version of Hudson Yards on this public land.” Although nothing yet is set in stone, PAU's ambitious master plan helps to ensure that this won't be the case.
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Ahmanson Amending Aid

Ahmanson Foundation severs ties with LACMA over redevelopment
The banker and financier Howard F. Ahmanson has been synonymous with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) since the Ahmanson Foundation helped launch the museum’s move to a dedicated new home in 1965 (the institution spun off from the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art in 1961). His foundation, established in 1952, has since donated over $130 million worth of European Old Master works—from the likes of artists including Jacques-Louis David, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and Rembrandt van Rijn—and has shaped LACMA’s global identity as an encyclopedic institution that attracts over one million visitors annually. After providing support to LACMA for over a half century, the Ahmanson Foundation announced that it will discontinue gifting art to the museum. Foundation president and LACMA trustee William H. Ahmanson expressed that his foundation has not been properly informed about how the artwork it has donated will be exhibited in the Peter Zumthor-designed redevelopment of the museum campus when it is scheduled to open in 2024. “I’m disappointed because the new building does nothing for future growth and it’s going to limit how we collect as well as those who may want to donate collections,” Ahmanson told The Art Newspaper. After years of ambiguity on the subject, and given that the new building will have fewer square feet dedicated to gallery space than the four buildings it is replacing, it was discovered that more space will be dedicated to rotating exhibitions than the institution’s own permanent collection, much of which includes work donated to the museum by the Ahmanson Foundation. With a significant portion of the collection locked away in storage, in other words, the foundation reportedly saw little reason to continue donating artwork it feels should be proudly on display. According to the Los Angeles Times, LACMA director Michael Govan has responded by expressing that a misunderstanding had taken place, and that the new building will devote exhibition space to artwork donated by the organization. “We are immensely grateful for the Foundation’s long-standing generosity to LACMA,” he stated, “and look forward to featuring the gifts from the Ahmanson Foundation as soon as we have completed our new galleries, just four years from now.” While the Ahmanson Foundation‘s seminal relationship with the museum is coming to an end, other donors will be featured more prominently in the redevelopment, including film studio executive and philanthropist David Geffen, who pledged $150 million to the museum in 2017—the largest single cash gift from an individual in its history. LACMA has also compiled a series of videos of other supporters, including Dean of USC Architecture Milton Curry, British sculptor Thomas Houseago, and several Miracle Mile residents. Demolition of the original LACMA buildings is currently underway, leaving precious little time for activist organizations such as Save LACMA to stymie the museum’s plans for redevelopment.
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You've been Grounded

Grimshaw’s controversial Heathrow expansion deemed illegal
In a massive victory for British environmental activists, Heathrow Airport’s plans to commence construction on a Grimshaw Architects master-planned third runway have been grounded. The Court of Appeal deemed that construction of the third runway to be unlawful for not meeting governmental climate commitments, although work on the controversial $18 billion megaproject, which was planned for completion in 2028, can move ahead if it complies with established climate policy in the future. “Airport expansion is core to boosting global connectivity. We also take seriously our commitment to the environment. This Govt won't appeal today's judgment given our manifesto makes clear any #Heathrow expansion will be industry led,” tweeted Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in reaction to the news. As British architectural publication Building Design (BD) notes, this is the first court ruling in the world to abide by commitments laid out within the Paris Agreement and could “trigger challenges against other major infrastructure projects in the UK and abroad.” In other words, this is a huge deal with major potential implications on the built environment. The BBC reports that Heathrow’s owner and operator, Heathrow Airport Holdings Limited, has vowed to challenge the historic decision. The government, however, will not. Heathrow was one of several major airports in the U.K. and beyond owned by the London-based company formerly known as BAA until it was forced to sell the airports off—Gatwick Airport, Edinburgh Airport, and Glasgow Airport among them—in a monopoly break-up initiated by the Competition Commission. Heathrow is currently Europe’s third busiest airport based on passenger traffic and the seventh busiest in the world. A third runaway would have permitted an estimated 700 additional take-offs and landings per day, according to The Guardian. This, of course, would lead to a sharp uptake in emissions, a factor not entirely accounted for in the expansion plans. “We think the appeals court got it wrong,” Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said in a statement. "We have a very strong legal case, and we will be making that very firmly.” Before reaching the Court of Appeal, plaintiffs had their case dismissed by the High Court in May of last year.   While Heathrow officials vowed to keep the battle going, the unified front of climate campaigners that brought the case to the court, with support from various local councils and London Mayor Sadiq Kahn, found the decision to be worthy of celebration. Kahn’s predecessor, current Prime Minister Boris Johnson, also opposed the construction of a third runway, and in a typically flamboyant manner. “This judgment has exciting wider implications for keeping climate change at the heart of all planning decisions,” Will Rundle, head of legal affairs at Friends of the Earth, told the BBC. “It's time for developers and public authorities to be held to account when it comes to the climate impact of their damaging developments.” “The third runway is already on its knees over costs, noise, air pollution, habitat loss and lack of access, and now Heathrow has yet another impossibly high hurdle to clear,” added John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace U.K., which was another plaintiff in the case. “Boris Johnson should now put Heathrow out of its misery and cancel the third runway once and for all. No ifs, no buts, no lies, no U-turns.” As mentioned, the ruling does not permanently block Heathrow from building a third runway. It simply puts an indefinite pause on the proceedings due to the fact that the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) does not abide by the Paris Agreement as required by law. Reads the ruling:
“We have not decided, and could not decide, that there will be no third runway at Heathrow. We have not found that a national policy statement supporting this project is necessarily incompatible with the United Kingdom’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions and mitigating climate change under the Paris Agreement, or with any other policy the government may adopt or international obligation it may undertake.”
BD reached out to Grimshaw Architects for comment regarding the court’s decision but did not immediately hear back. BD did note, however, that other architects had taken to social media to express approval of the ruling. Grimshaw has been working on a “sustainable but affordable” expansion master plan since 2016, although the push for a third runway—and pushback against it—has been active for over a decade.
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Navigating a Setback

Expansion of San Francisco’s transitionary Navigation Centers threatened
Amid several efforts by California lawmakers, architects, and activists to provide more homeless housing in the Golden State, a group of San Francisco-based Republicans, led by former Republican candidate for mayor Richie Greenberg, have made a concerted effort to scale back the city’s commitment to its homeless population. The San Francisco Department of Elections released a new proposed measure last week titled “Limitations on Navigation Centers.” The measure targets Navigation Centers, a unique temporary housing model developed in San Francisco that offers a ‘pathway to housing’ for those with priority status through Coordinated Entry who stay until housing placement. The first Navigation Center opened in March 2015 and led to the construction of several others, prompting outcries from wealthier residents of the city that included lawsuits and crowdfunding efforts to halt further construction. Last year, the nonprofit group Safe Embarcadero For All (SEFA), argued that the construction of the 200-bed Embarcadero Navigation Center, for instance, would potentially endanger nearby condominium owners and tourists. If added to the November 2020 ballot, the new measure could profoundly limit the operations of each Navigation Center by requiring their presence to become more temporary and reduce the number of beds in each to a maximum of 100—currently, the six operating Navigation Centers have as many as 200 each. According to Curbed, the measure could also thwart Supervisor Matt Haney’s goal of opening centers in all 11 of the city’s districts, making the waitlist for a bed, which is currently over 1,200, exponentially greater. Despite a recent SF Chamber of Commerce poll that demonstrated 69 percent of voters would approve of a Navigation Center in their neighborhood, Greenberg went ahead with proposing rollbacks. “It's just a tragedy now,” Greenberg told Fox and Friends. “But this is San Francisco. This is not anything new. This is classic San Francisco, where the downtrodden are celebrated and coddled.” While he reportedly abhors “the homeless, the drug addicts, and mentally ill roaming the streets,” his efforts to reduce the initiatives of the Navigation Centers would only exacerbate the issue he claims to be against by making housing even more difficult for the city’s homeless population to acquire.
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Swede Relief

The Nobel Center is trying for a new home in Stockholm—will Chipperfield return?
After being scrapped in 2018 following a four-year-long firestorm of public controversy, court orders, and royal criticism, Stockholm’s Nobel Center has found a new future home at a waterfront site roughly a half-mile from the original location. As the Nobel Foundation announced in a recent press statement, the Nobel Center—a planned museum, awards venue, and administrative hub for the prestigious set of international prizes—will now be located at Stadsgårdskajen near Slussen in central Stockholm. A waterfront section of the Swedish capital city best known for its mad tangle of 1930s-era roadways, Slussen, which found an early and ardent fan in Le Corbusier, is currently in the midst of a massive regeneration scheme master-planned by Foster + Partners. An area that just happens to be in the midst of a dramatic reinvention seems like a natural fit for the Nobel Center, especially when considering the original David Chipperfield Architects (DCA)-designed project was booted from its planned location next to the Swedish National Museum on Stockholm’s historic Blasieholmen peninsula for being too big, too loud, too incongruous with its storied surroundings. Sweden’s Land and Environment Court squashed the project in 2018 by denying it a building permit, writing that DCA’s shimmering, brass-clad design, which had already been scaled back in 2016 after facing significant public uproar, “would affect the readability of Stockholm's historical development as a port, shipping, and trading city.” The court further stated that construction of the center would “cause significant damage” to the historic fabric of Blasieholmen. The Nobel Foundation opted not to appeal the court’s decision. Not fitting in or upsetting the neighbors likely won’t be an issue in Slussen, where everything is in flux. “Now that the Nobel Center is finding a home in the heart of Stockholm, an important piece of the puzzle in the development of Slussen is falling into place,” said Vice Mayor for City Planning Joakim Larsson. “At one of the city’s largest and most important transport hubs, a house for culture and science with public activities fits very nicely into our vision of transforming Slussen from a traffic interchange into a meeting place for everyone in Stockholm.” With a new site for the seemingly doomed project now secured, there’s still the million-dollar question: Who will design it? As reported by The Architect’s Journal, the Nobel Foundation has yet to select an architect to win over the locals with version 2.0 of the center. The foundation does note that it's “necessary to design an entirely new building" while revealing that the eight firms involved in the 2013 design competition, including winner DCA, have been approached. “We are keen to make use of the experience we have from that process,” said the foundation of the original competition. “Now that the location is set the Nobel Foundation will begin the process of choosing an architect.” “We are delighted to hear that a new site for the Nobel Centre has been agreed upon in the area of Slussen,” responded DCA in a statement to The Architect’s Journal. “The Nobel Foundation has communicated that they will not open a new competition. Clearly there will be further discussion about how the new project will proceed both in scope and in project organisation.” Beating out firms including OMA, Snøhetta, SANAA, and Bjarke Ingels Group, the London-based DCA won the original commission to design the $132 million complex—a complex complete with library, restaurant, exhibition areas, office and conference space, and a stunning auditorium that would have served as a permanent home for the annual Nobel Prize ceremony—in 2014, which was really just the beginning of what AN called a “turbulent journey.” If that journey had ultimately concluded in favor of the Nobel Foundation with little delay, the organization's permanent home at Blasieholmen would have opened to the public last year. Building the new Nobel Center is slated to begin in 2025 at the very earliest; work on an already-planned road overhaul at Stadsgårdsleden has to wrap up first. Once that happens, the Nobel Foundation anticipates that its future home will be completed within two years.
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A Bit Off the Top, Please

Court ruling against Upper West Side tower could take down 20 floors
A striking New York State Supreme Court ruling may force the developers of an Upper West Side condo tower at 200 Amsterdam Avenue to scale back their soaring design by 20 floors. While developments of this kind are often modified in the planning phase in order to comply with zoning regulations, this case has a twist: Construction of the 668-foot building is nearly complete. Last Thursday, Supreme Court Justice W. Franc Perry ordered that the New York City Department of Buildings revoke the building permit for the development at 200 Amsterdam as well as demolish all floors that exceed zoning restrictions. The exact number of floors slated for removal remains unclear, but The New York Times reports that it could be 20 or more, depending on the final interpretation of the zoning laws. That’s quite a trim for a 52-story building. 200 Amsterdam, designed by Elkus Manfredi, occupies the lot where the original Lincoln Square Synagogue stood. In 2013, the synagogue moved to an updated building designed by CetraRuddy right next door, and renderings of the luxury condo high-rise first appeared in 2016. UWS community activists have viewed the project with contempt over the past few years, and many celebrated the ruling as a feat for community organizing. “We are very gratified that after a long fight, the gerrymandered zoning lot at 200 Amsterdam has been declared illegal. This groundbreaking decision averts a dangerous precedent that would have ultimately affected every corner of the city,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, president of the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS), in a press statement. In a statement to AN, developers SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan defended their vision for 200 Amsterdam and indicated plans to appeal the ruling:
“This ruling is a shocking loss for New York City and its residents. It defies more than 40 years of precedent in the city’s zoning laws. It also ignores the thoughtful decision of the DOB to grant the permit which was upheld by the BSA following exhaustive document review and testimony over a two-year period. Both of those decisions recognized that retroactively applying new interpretations of the city’s zoning to previously approved projects undermines the stability of the regulatory environment needed to support the investment that is critical to New York City’s economy, tax base, housing stock and services.  We will appeal this decision vigorously in court and are confident that we, and the City, will prevail on the merits.”
While the retroactive trimming of a nearly-finished tower is certainly unusual, it is worth noting that New York has seen this situation before—in 1991, a New York developer was forced to tear down the top 12 floors of a 31-story residential tower at 108 East 96th Street five  whole years after it was built. This marked the most severe consequence a New York developer had ever faced for zoning violations; the NYT reporting from 1991 claims that developers of the project repeatedly blamed the violations on an “error in a city map.” The immediate future of 200 Amsterdam remains unclear, but the potential of a partial demolition presents a unique set of challenges, especially with some of the most profitable units located on the upper floors.