All posts in Southeast

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Sculpture Garden Irrigation

The New Orleans Museum of Art flaunts its waterside sculpture garden
Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art 1 Collins Diboll Circle City Park New Orleans Louisiana 504-658-4100 Architect: Lee Ledbetter & Associates Landscape Architect: Reed Hilderbrand The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, which adjoins the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), reopened this summer after a major expansion. The renovated garden includes a variety of amenities for education and entertainment, including an amphitheater, a gallery, and an outdoor learning environment. Pathways and pedestrian bridges snake past groves, open fields, and lagoons to enable visitors of all physical abilities to fully explore the garden’s art. NOMA maintains a particularly impressive collection of contemporary sculpture in the outdoor space, including pieces by Yinka Shonibare, Beverly Pepper, and Frank Gehry. Working with Reed Hilderbrand and Lee Ledbetter & Associates, the museum has prioritized environmental sustainability throughout its expansion. An elaborate lagoon system, as well as ecologically conscious soil-management practices and hundreds of new trees, ensures that the garden’s ecosystem continues to thrive. As has always been the case, the Besthoff Sculpture Garden is free and open to the public seven days a week.
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Studio Saves

Tulane launches new research studios on climate change and water management
Tulane’s School of Architecture announced a series of multi-year Research Studios earlier this month that will debut in the fall, each designed to address environmental issues and climate change. Combining both rigorous research engagement as well as traditional designed studio methods, the goal is to produce scholarship and real-world solutions to some of the most pressing problems affecting the architectural profession today. That includes examining a single topic over three-to-five years, including water management, conservation, sustainable real estate development, and more, The school’s setting in New Orleans, a sprawling metropolis located below sea level, has put students and faculty on the front lines of pressures from receding coastlines and escalating natural disasters. Architect Iñaki Alday was appointed Dean in August 2018 with the goal of aligning pedagogy towards practical challenges facing architecture and urbanism, and the Research Studios reflect his personal commitment to architecture that works—he is a cofounder of the Yamuna River Project, a pan-university initiative to tackle the urgent rehabilitation of the Yamuna in India. The studios, scheduled to launch for the Fall 2019 semester, will be led by Alday and global experts like Richard Campanella, Byron Mouton, and Kentaro Tsubaki, among others. Studios are expected to be interdisciplinary, spilling into other areas of scholarship at Tulane like the social sciences, law, and real estate. The Research Studios are a first of their kind and may inspire similar initiatives or climate focuses at schools around the world. With titles like Big Questions, Small Projects and The Future of Ports, the studios set out to address all scales, challenging students to design with a new type of urgency for the future.  The new Research Studios will cover the following, according to Tulane: · The Yamuna River Project and the Rajasthan Cities. By lead instructor Iñaki Alday, Dean and Richard Koch Chair in Architecture. · URBANbuild: re-evaluation, affordability, national translation. By lead instructor Byron Mouton, AIA, Director of URBANbuild, Lacey Senior Professor of Practice in Architecture. · The Future of Ports: From the Backyard to the Forefront of Ecology, Economy, and Urbanity. By lead instructor Margarita Jover, Associate Professor in Architecture. · Resilience Reinforced: Architectural precast concrete systems addressing the regional water infrastructure challenges. By lead instructor Kentaro Tsubaki, AIA, Associate Dean for Academics, Favrot Associate Professor of Architecture. · Contemporary Architecture in Historic Contexts: The Case of Magazine Street in New Orleans. By lead instructor Ammar Eloueini, AIA, NCARB, Favrot V Professor of Architecture. · Toward a Civic Landscape. By lead instructor Scott Bernhard, AIA, NCARB, Favrot III Associate Professor of Architecture. · Fast/Strong/Sustainable: Exploring the Expanded Mass Timber Industry for Design in Hurricane-Prone Regions. By lead instructor Judith Kinnard, FAIA, Harvey-Wadsworth Chair of Landscape Urbanism, Professor of Architecture. · Addis Ababa River Project. By lead instructor Rubén García Rubio, Assistant Professor in Architecture and Urbanism. · Big Questions, Small Projects: design build's potentials to advance community-driven ideas. Led by instructor Emilie Taylor Welty, Favrot II Professor of Practice.
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Stranger Sites

For season three of Stranger Things, they built an entire mall
The angular mid-80s architecture of a derelict shopping center in Duluth, Georgia, has garnered fame in recent weeks after the release of the third season of Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things. Avid fans of the show may recognize that Gwinnett Place Mall—an actual mall located in a suburb of Atlanta, was transformed as the setting for major moments that take place in Hawkins, Indiana’s newest attraction: The Starcourt Mall.  Production designer Chris Trujillo spoke with The L.A. Times about the search and intense-build out for Starcourt Mall, as well as why the writing team chose to center the plot on the all-too-familiar, small-town-gets-big-mall storyline. In the interview, he said it made sense to showcase how Hawkins was changing with the introduction of the mega-shopping center, right alongside how the main characters were themselves changing. No longer little kids who saved the world, everyone was growing up facing their own relationship and materialist concerns. Much of teenage life in Midwestern America at that time was spent at the mall.  After investigating a dozen structures built from 1984-85, the production team settled on Gwinnett Place Mall, a 1.3 million-square-foot space that, during its first 16 years of operation, attracted people from all over Georgia as well as neighboring South Carolina. By 2001, with the opening of both the Mall of Georgia and Sugarloaf Mills, the space began its slow descent into obscurity. Now, thanks to the production team’s massive retrofit—gutting and rebuilding nearly 40 stores and restaurants—as well as a slew of tweets from curious fans that tried to sneak a peak of the set last year, the mall has experienced a meteoric rise in popularity.  According to Trujillo, most of the filming inside the 34-year-old mall took place around its food court, a gem of 1984-era interior architecture with a soaring atrium and vaulted geometric ceilings. It was the showpiece of the mall, he told the L.A. Times. But more than that, the large, two-story interior gave way to the “dynamic camerawork” that the Duffer brothers are famous for.  In an effort to make the Gwinnett Place Mall truly feel like a time warp set specifically for the horror sci-fi series, the production team not only recreated the facades of iconic retail spaces with all period-appropriate signage and window displays, but in some cases, the entire stores themselves were redone. From Orange Julius to the Gap, Radio Shack, and JC Penny, the brief moments these places popped up on screen helped paint an authentic picture of 1980s consumerism. One of the most-filmed spots within Starcourt Mall was Scoops Ahoy, the made-up ice cream shop where Steven Harrington works. Trujillo called that project, which was built entirely from scratch, “our special little baby.” Spoilers ahead: In that ice cream shop is where Steve, Dustin, and newcomer Robin decode secrete Russian messages that lead them to discover there’s a world-ending operation taking place beneath their feet—the portal to the Upside Down is being reopened. That importance to the overarching plot helps explain why so much attention was paid to the layout of the mall. Apart from a scrapbook found on location with old images of the Gwinnett Place Mall from its heyday, the inspiration for the build-out came from the memories of staffers on the production and decoration teams. Most people on the team's leadership grew up in the 80s and 90s and made decisions for Starcourt based on what they remember it felt like to be in those spaces as a kid.  “There is a homogeneity to the architecture of malls,” Trujillo told the L.A. Times. “They’re all calibrated to be similar spaces. We had to be somewhat specific about the regionality, but I definitely brought a lot of my childhood and teenage memories of hanging out and working in malls.” Though the set is closed to the public and is already being dismantled, according to one reporter who chronicled his visit for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), that hasn’t stopped fans from trying to take photos of the interior through fences. As a focal point of “Stranger Things 3,” Gwinnett Place Mall will forever live on in memories of fans forever, despite its soon-to-be demolition. The AJC reported in February that a sports stadium developer plans to build a mixed-use complex with a 20,000-seat cricket arena on the site.
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Open Play

ROSSETTI designed a partial-pop-up tennis stadium for the Miami Open
Miami’s vibrant nightlife scene was the design inspiration behind the modular tennis complex that hosted this year’s Miami Open. Fans, players, and sponsors at the top tournament were surprised this spring with a colorful new campus located in and around Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.  Under the direction of Miami Dolphins' owner and Hudson Yards developer Stephen Ross, the Detroit-based ROSSETTI created an out-of-the-box solution for the annual tennis championship that was highly-stylized yet saved tons of money. Instead of building a new, standalone tennis stadium, the design team decided to integrate a mix of temporary and permanent structures into the overall plan, across a total of 26 acres. “During a time when new stadiums cost a billion dollars, we designed a solution that uses the existing venue while creating an entirely fresh experience,” said Matt Rossetti, president of ROSSETTI, in a statement. “This design solution equates to a fraction of the embodied energy of a brand-new stadium and is a low-impact solution for the Miami environment. At the same time, we are creating an ‘international tennis festival’ that embodies the essence of Miami and delights fans.”  Centered around six themed “neighborhoods,” the food and entertainment areas within the tennis campus were broken down into hospitality concepts that promoted different experiences for fans. These activation zones were set up as public squares that flanked the centralized Dolphin Plaza, a palm-tree lined pathway with fountains and greenery that linked the new outdoor courts to the larger stadium next door.  New infrastructure included the 5,000-seat, demountable Grandstand, and the 13,8000-seat, temporary Stadium Court, which as the name suggests, was inside Hard Rock Stadium. In order to provide a more intimate viewing experience in that venue, a 47,200-square-foot confetti scrim was hung from its upper deck. Additionally, 18 practice courts, 12 exterior tournament courts, and 24 demountable cabana suites inside the stadium were built for the two-week competition.  Because this year’s March tournament was the first time the Miami Open was held at this location, ROSSETTI crafted the entire architectural set-up to be built securely and taken down swiftly. The firm partnered with Thornton Tomasetti on the structural engineering and stadium design expert Seating Solutions on the stadium components. Renewable materials such as recycled glass countertops, decorative bamboo paneling, and interlocking wood decking were used throughout the site, and some of the structural products were repurposed after the event.  Much like ROSSETTI's recently revamped USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York, elevating the energy efficiency and enhancing the spectator experience of the Miami Open were at the heart of the project. Both the semi-permanent and temporary elements of the complex are slated to return for the 2020 tournament. 
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Scorpio Rising

Zaha Hadid's completed One Thousand Museum joins the Miami skyline
Zaha Hadid’s exoskeletal skyscraper in downtown Miami has officially opened for business. One Thousand Museum, the late architect’s final residential tower in the United States, is the newest high-end condominium to grace Biscayne Boulevard in the city’s cultural core, and its 84 units are now available for sale.  Standing 707 feet tall, the building boasts the status of being the fourth-largest structure in Florida and rises 62 stories above Museum Park, a 30-acre urban greenspace that houses the Pérez Art Museum and the Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. The massive project incorporates Hadid’s signature curves both within the interior and along the exterior—it’s most distinctive feature is the white-painted concrete “web of flowing lines” that meander up the facade.  The exterior scorpionlike "exoskeleton," an expressive inclusion that was also designed as structural support, has resulted in some nicknaming the building the “Scorpion Tower.” The bracing is further texturized by the lower and upper floor terraces and the podium, which includes even thicker columns that splay out and round off at the corners.  According to the architects, the glass cladding behind the exoskeleton includes a “folded, faceted, crystal-like facade” that will play off of the Miami sun and uniquely interact with light both from inside and outside the building. Just as important, the structure is strong; it’s resistant to forceful hurricane winds thanks to the diagonal bracketing system created by the design team.  Within One Thousand Museum, the interior floor plate is almost entirely column-free, allowing residents full views of Biscayne Bay and Miami Beach beyond. The lobby, communal spaces, and living units each embody Hadid’s futuristic style and sensibilities—the interior cladding, flooring, furniture, lighting, and ceiling designs all feature sleek, curved elements. Amenities include a spa, sunbathing deck, a double height aquatic center, sky lounge, multiple fitness areas, and private helipad. 
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Basel Beach

Aric Chen, curator of Design Miami/Basel, talks post-nature sustainability
Collectors, gallerists, designers, curators, and critics come to Design Miami/Basel from around the world to revel in some the most opulent and high-priced design. That being said, the fair isn't exactly known for its stance on sustainability, let alone efforts to be environmentally conscious.  That is soon to change, beginning with the 14th edition of Design Miami/Basel from June 11-16. The newly appointed curatorial director, Aric Chen, has plans to not only to change the operations but also the content of the fair itself. By providing an overall curatorial vision for the show's topic driven large-scale exhibition, "Design at Large," Chen surveys topics related to environmental sustainability, resources and waste, and potential futures. AN Interior recently chatted with Chen about his new role, vision for the fair, and highlights from this year’s gallery program.  AN Interior:  Can you tell me more about Design Miami? What has been accomplished and what is your vision moving forward? Aric Chen: I'm really excited to be working with Design Miami/Basel. I've known and consider all the previous directors as friends: Ambra Meda, Marianne Goebl, and Rodman Primack. They've done such a great job establishing Design Miami as this really singular platform for collectible design. AN: What will you be doing? AC: What I'm doing is actually a new role that they've created. It's not the director or chief creative officer (which is what Primack was), it's the Curatorial Director. What they've asked me to do is focus on setting the tone. Read the full article on our interiors and design site, aninteriormag.com.
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Spark Something

Portman Architects starts new era with Atlanta's CODA at Tech Square
A 755,000-square-foot tech facility in Atlanta embodies the latest evolution of the city as a hub for innovation and creativity, and also stands as a symbol for the changes happening at the firm behind it. John Portman Architects, newly dubbed Portman Architects, designed CODA at Tech Square in collaboration with Georgia Tech to be a tech hub with one of the largest data centers in the Southeast. It’s no surprise that as the firm transitions into partner-based leadership and new work in tech-centric architecture, it also pushes forward an evolved identity. CEO Jack Portman, son of the late John Portman, told AN that this project is the next big step in the company’s 66-year story. “Each evolution of our firm has been a motivation to create anew,” said Portman. “My father created the super atrium, then modern mixed-use developments, and he was the first to move his firm and work overseas in China. CODA is one of these evolutionary points in our firm’s history. We’re back in Atlanta and looking to advance the future of design.” Portman Architects is currently working on three projects in Midtown Atlanta—north of downtown and east of the university. CODA is the first building completed in what will be the city’s T (tech) Zone. At 21 stories, the glass-clad, L-shaped building features room for 3,500 tech employees, as well as students and faculty, and is designed around a series of six, three-story vertical atriums that connect various wings. One of its defining design moments is the white spiral staircase—the tallest freestanding, helical stair in the world—which links the building’s “Collaboration Core.” According to Luca Maffey, vice president and design director of CODA, the piece of interior infrastructure allows views past the end of the city and it only takes a few minutes to climb to the top. The staircase, which is located right near the facade, also overlooks the grand piazza that cuts through the center of the site. Maffey said this outdoor living room-like space is already attracting people to the building. “Atlanta is known for great, internal and insular spaces, largely thanks to Portman himself,” he said. “CODA really opens up to the public and the streets with this plaza and with its transparency. It’s now a reference point for not only navigating Midtown but it also is a destination in and of itself.” Portman Architects integrated almost 40,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space on the ground floors in order to enhance that indoor-outdoor connectivity. A surprising exterior column that resembles a martini glass extends from the lower levels of the building and punches the plaza below. The entirety of CODA’s lower half also sits in dialogue with a historic, 1920s building on the site. Major design moments such as this elevate what could have been a boxy office structure with a glass curtain wall. Instead, these moves activate the efficiency of the site both in a sustainable aspect and in its circulation. Developed by Portman Holdings (the development company also started by John Portman), CODA is the first project Portman Architects has ever done for Georgia Tech, the largest tenant in the building. Other tech companies are starting to fill in the rest of the spaces, while others are finding a way to be next to CODA, Jack Portman says. “The 1.5 million square feet of expansion happening at tech square is the result of the excitement created by the design of CODA,” he said. The firm recently started construction on the adjacent Anthem Technology Center, which features a cluster of four towers connected at the core. Unlike CODA, not all the atriums will be connected, but the buildings will circle around a staircase that goes up to the top floor. Overall, the architecture is quite different—sections of the structures feature varied materials and textures, while CODA is pinstriped, calm, and elegant, Maffey said. “On the bottom half of the building, we wanted something that was more active and played with the light more,” he said. “The cladding has small folds of silver metal that will interact with the sun as it changes throughout the day.” Portman Architects is currently designing a “sibling” for the Anthem Tech Center which includes another building with three, interlocking facades. All of these high-profile local projects in Tech Square coincide with major changes happening at the firm. “Ten years ago, my father started to think about how his firm would continue to evolve once he stepped down,” Portman told AN. “He then created a partnership that better represented our motivation for working as part of a team, giving credit to everyone involved. The name change also helps differentiate buildings that we design now versus what he worked on.” Along with a new name comes a new visual identity for the firm as well. Portman Architects’ new logo is a six-point star, or a spark, which pays tribute to Portman’s old signature. Maffey noted the spark also alludes to the company’s history sparking change in the field of architecture. He now believes the firm is positioning itself to ignite more innovation in the future. “The firm’s evolution has also been in this crescendo mode,” he said. “Right now the energy in our office is higher, the average age of our employees is younger, and we’re pursuing new technologies to create our architecture. There’s also no singular approach to the way we work, and we’re more collaborative than ever. Everybody here is a Portman Architect.”
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We Will Not Let Hate Win

Six big-name teams shortlisted for National Pulse Memorial and Museum
MVRDV, Studio Libeskind, and MASS Design Group are among the six finalists shortlisted to design the future National Pulse Memorial and Museum in Orlando, Florida. The organizers behind the international design competition, the onePULSE Foundation and Dovetail Design Strategists, announced the teams yesterday after a two-month search that brought in 68 submissions from 19 different countries. The architect-led multidisciplinary groups will move onto the second and final stage of the competition later this year, where they will propose a concept design for the memorial and museum to honor the survivors, first responders, and the 49 members of Orlando’s LGBTQ+ community who lost their lives in the horrific shooting at the PULSE nightclub on June 12, 2016.   Check out the finalists below: Coldefy & Associés with RDAI, Xavier Veilhan, dUCKS scéno, Agence TER, and Professor Laila Farah; Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rene Gonzalez Architect with Raymond Jungles, Inc.; heneghan peng architects, Gustafson Porter + Bowman, Sven Anderson, and Pentagram; MASS Design Group, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Sasaki, Sanford Biggers, Richard Blanco, and Porsha Olayiwola; MVRDV, Grant Associates, GSM Project, and Studio Drift; Studio Libeskind with Claude Cormier + Associés, Thinc, and Jenny Holzer According to the onePULSE Foundation, these teams provided the strongest credentials, relevant experience, and most compelling statements on how architecture can embody the organization’s mandate: "We will not let hate win." “Three years after the tragedy, the world continues to stand in solidarity with our community and in support of the 49, the survivors and the first responders,” said onePULSE Foundation CEO Barbara Poma in a statement. “This is reflected in the significant response to our competition announcement and the interest from architecture and designers from around the world.” Susanna Sirefman, owner of Dovetail Design Strategists, dually noted the global response. “We were thrilled with the thoughtfulness of all submissions we received,” she said. “But we felt that these six finalists best understood the urban complexity and scale of the project, and their illustrated responses best embodied the six keywords we generated from early surveys on the memorial: People want it to stand for love, hope, unity, acceptance, courage, and strength.” The onePULSE Foundation has already laid out a clear vision for the site, which will include utilizing the original nightclub in some way, as well as introducing a 30,000-square-foot museum, an elongated landscape, and an urban design strategy to connect the site to the city’s downtown. Dubbed the Orlando Health Survivors Walk, the connection will lead people north to the SoDO district to other local spots that were involved in the aftermath of the tragedy including a nearby hospital and performing arts center. Over the next few months, the design teams will meet with onePULSE leadership, a victim liaison, and a survivor to help inform their proposals. The Orange County Regional History Center in Orlando will hold a public exhibition of the designs in early October and all schemes will be available for public view and comment on the onePULSE design competition website. The winning team will be announced later that month.
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Appropriate Culturalization

Herzog & de Meuron will design new home for Tennessee's oldest museum
Herzog & de Meuron beat out 22 design studios, including Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Johnston Marklee, and OMA, for the chance to design a new building for the Brooks Museum of ArtTennessee’s oldest and largest art museum—in downtown Memphis. The Swiss firm will work alongside local powerhouse archimania to bring the cultural institution into the 21st century with a new, $105 million facility. Slated to rise on top of a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, the upgraded Brooks Museum will be part of an ongoing six-mile development aiming to activate the riverfront with parks, walking paths, as well as civic and recreational structures. Studio Gang is at the helm of reimagining the 30-acre industrial site and the museum will serve as its anchor. According to Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, the chosen site will be a major economic stimulus for the city and signals its embrace of the Mississippi River as its greatest local asset. Herzog & de Meuron's plan for the Brooks Museum, which is expected to be unveiled early next year, will be 112,000-square-foot in size—a quarter larger than the existing facility in Overton Park—and will feature double the amount of storage and art handling space. It will also include expanded public galleries with room for its prestigious permanent collection as well as temporary exhibitions. Classrooms, a theater, a dining area, and a museum store will also be integrated into the design, along with an outdoor sculpture park that’s set to feature rotating public art. In a statement, Executive Director Emily Ballew Neff said the reenvisioned Brooks Museum aims to become a new landmark for the city and she believes the architects will create a “fitting formal response” to the riverfront site and approach the project with “unrivaled sensitivity to materials and craftsmanship.” “Herzog & de Meuron is exceptional among the architectural firms that design art museums for the way it creates galleries for a whole range of art,” she said. “Several architects (at the firm) also happen to have spent formative years in and around Memphis. These team members will provide a kind of local knowledge that will surely contribute.” A strong understanding of this unique western Tennessee landscape will be key in designing the Brooks Museum’s new identity. The building will be constructed on the corner of Front Street and Monroe Street, one block from Memphis’s Main Street to the east and one block from the river to the west. Members of the mound-building Mississippi Culture and, later, the Chickasaw Nation used to occupy the bluff before the Europeans settled the area. In the 19th century, this area served as the city’s old Cotton Row. Today the area is emerging with the rest of downtown Memphis as a major educational, cultural, and business district in which the Brooks Museum is expected to not only spur new development in the urban core, but also attract visitors from all of Tennessee, Northeast Arkansas, and Northern Mississippi.
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Canopy Connections

Studio Gang and SCAPE team up for Arkansas cultural project
MacArthur Fellows Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang and Kate Orff of SCAPE Landscape Architecture are teaming up to re-envision the prestigious Arkansas Arts Center (AAC) and adjacent MacArthur Park in Little Rock, Arkansas. Set to break ground this fall, the 127,000-square-foot project—both a renovation and new construction effort—will help clarify the 104-year-old cultural institution’s interior organization, while also amplifying its presence in the historic landscape with a contemporary visual identity. Gang said the firm’s vision will “unlock new connections” between the existing programming on site, which includes a renowned Museum School, Children’s Theatre, and a gallery space that hosts the AAC’s permanent art collection. Since the Center opened on this site in 1937, several major additions have been built. By 1963, the museum had five galleries, four studio classrooms, sculpture courtyards, an art library, and a 381-seat theater, but according to Studio Gang, the AAC suffered from inefficient operational adjacencies—meaning it’s hard for visitors to get from one area to the other. To fix this issue, the design team will create what they call a “stem” that cuts through and “blossoms” to the north and south of the Center. A pleated, thin-plate structure that appears to lightly undulate across the site and into MacArthur Park, the new architecture will not only anchor new visitor amenities but also define a new public gallery and gathering space while simultaneously weaving together the AAC’s various programs. “New daylit spaces linked through the core of the Center will facilitate movement and create a series of vibrant, new public spaces for social interaction, education, and appreciation for the arts,” said Gang in a statement. Initial aerial renderings reveal the way this simple architecture intervention will strengthen the Center’s programming and relationship with the park. Located on the south side of the museum on a current parking lot, Studio Gang has designed a 10,000-square-foot outdoor pavilion underneath the structural canopy with room for dining and respite in the shade. The transparent skin of the structure will provide visitors with a direct connection to nature. In time, SCAPE’s landscape addition, which will include 2,200 linear feet of new paths and trails, as well as 250 trees, will merge with the Center’s canopy to become a parkland forest. Just as important to the revitalization project will be the renovation of all existing facilities on site. Studio Gang will renovate the original 1937 Museum of Fine Arts facade (the AAC’s former name) which serves as the northern entrance. According to the architects, from there they will “excavate” the existing building—a series of fortress-like spaces—by opening up the lecture hall, theater, and studios, among others parts to the new public areas. For example, on the north end, there will be a 5,500-square-foot "Cultural Living Room" that can be both a flexible gathering space or play host to special events. The massive cultural project is being backed by an ambitious $128 million fundraising campaign. So far, $118 million has already been raised, including a $31,245,000 commitment from the City of Little Rock. The new Arkansas Arts Center is expected to be complete in early 2022.
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MALL Talk

Jennifer Bonner on Haus Gables and architecture in the American South
MALL stands for Mass Architectural Loopty Loops or Miniature Angles & Little Lines, among other variations. Just like its ever-changing moniker, MALL’s work is constantly shifting. Founded by Jennifer Bonner in 2009, the Boston-based studio develops collections of projects that iteratively build from one to the next. As a graduate of Auburn University’s Rural Studio and Harvard Graduate School of Design—where she currently serves as faculty—Bonner channels her love of the American South and uses her teaching to experiment with new typologies and invent new modes of architectural representation. Her colorful, out-of-the-box approach to design is just one of many reasons why she is named one of AN Interior’s top 50 interior architects. AN spoke with Bonner about stepping away from tradition and what’s next for MALL. AN Interior: So these collections allow you to explore multiple new typologies? Jennifer Bonner: Each of my larger conceptual projects has the potentiality to question paradigms, which is what I’m most interested in. Take the roof forms in Domestic Hats and Haus Gables, a single-family house opening this month made from one of the original Domestic Hats models. I believe the roof plan can be an instigator of space rather than using Le Corbusier’s free plan and Adolf Loos’s raumplan. Here I was looking to expand different roof typologies, which is a topic I dove into while teaching at Georgia Tech. Read the full interview and see all the images an aninteriormag.com.
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Overcoming Obese-city

In Jackson, Mississippi, architects are taking on a citywide hunger problem

By more than one measure, Jackson, Mississippi, is one of the nation’s unhealthiest cities. In 2017, it was named the fattest city in America based on 17 indicators, including obesity rates, levels of physically active adults, and access to fresh produce. In fact, nearly one-fifth of city residents are considered food insecure. The state of Mississippi does not fare much better—for the last eight years, it was reported as the most food insecure state in the country, even though agriculture is the state’s top industry. 

It’s not just that Jackson has only 17 grocery stores for a population of nearly 170,000—that’s one per nearly 10,000 people. But the food that is available is disproportionately tipped toward fast food and gas station items. As one scholar of Jackson’s food culture told the Clarion Ledger, “Hunger happens in between bags of chips.” 

All of this is compounded by the city’s lack of viable public transit options. Jackson is designed around the car, but many residents, whose wallets are already stretched thin on federal food assistance dollars, don’t own one. Even those with groceries or farmers’ markets in walking distance are discouraged by the lack of sidewalks or crosswalks. These conditions are undergirded by decades of generational poverty and disinvestment due to white flight, unfavorable tax policies, and the state’s aggressive efforts to cut resources for Medicaid and limit food stamps.

But Jackson also has a long history of civil rights activism, and its residents in 2013 and again in 2017 elected mayors who promised nothing less than wholesale social and economic transformation. For Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, addressing Jackson’s food access challenge is part of his promise to make it “the most radical city in the world.” But rather than enlisting conventional strategies, the city has mobilized its long-range planning division to lead a new design-based initiative. Bolstered by a $1 million public art grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, “Fertile Ground: Inspiring Dialogue about Food Access” brings together architects and artists alongside chefs, gardeners, food policy experts, and local institutions to facilitate a year of community-engaged interventions at three sites in the city. The project will culminate in a citywide exhibition in the spring of 2020, but ultimately it aims to establish a nonprofit research lab on food access that will operate on a permanent basis to sustain the momentum that is created.

The city invited an intriguing roster of architects and designers from around the country to participate in the multidisciplinary initiative: Kathy Velikov and Geoffrey Thün, directors of RVTR; Anya Sirota and Jean Louis Farges of Akoaki; Walter Hood of Hood Design Studio, and Jonathan Tate, who runs his namesake practice, Office of Jonathan Tate. Architects are central to the project, said Travis Crabtree, a senior urban planner with the city and one of the project’s coordinators. “When we first got the grant, people asked, Why are we spending $1 million dollars on an art project when we could feed people for a million?” he said.

Looking more closely at what these designers bring to the table may illustrate what can be gained from this approach. The question of access is at the heart of practices like the Toronto and Ann Arbor, Michigan–based RVTR, led by Velikov and Thün, who are both associate professors at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. In their ongoing project, Protean Prototypes, they conceive of public transit systems as platforms to address access to mobility, food, education, and health. They do this by mapping the social and spatial opportunities for access, connecting underserved areas with local actors who can bridge access gaps and by proposing lightweight spatial prototypes that overlay onto public transit infrastructure, such as bus stops and metro stations. The prototypes might include emerging tech like mobile produce vending systems and bike-cart shares alongside other programs with a small footprint like exercise equipment and book lending programs. Applying this method to Chicago, San Francisco, and Detroit, this complex systems approach brings together architectural and urban scale in new assemblages that amplify the resources already on the ground and take advantage of the larger urban context to channel them where they are needed most.

In Jackson, Velikov and Thün will focus their efforts at the Ecoshed, a 15,000-square-foot, open-air building on a 2-acre industrial site that borders two very different neighborhoods—the rapidly gentrifying Fondren and Virden Addition, one of the poorest in the city. For Fertile Ground, the Ecoshed will demonstrate a self-sustaining closed-loop food system and host the food lab, and eventually host the Fertile Ground nonprofit.

Anya Sirota and Jean Louis Farges of Detroit-based Akoaki will also focus their efforts at the Ecoshed. Their practice has engaged with the problem of food access through four years of work with an urban farm in Detroit, the Oakland Avenue Urban Farm. Sirota is also an associate professor of architecture at Taubman. Detroit provides a uniquely fertile landscape for thinking about urban food access. According to Sirota, Detroit has 1,300 urban farms, but none of them are sustainable. At the 6-acre Oakland Avenue Urban Farm, sustainability for Sirota and Farges has meant strategizing beyond economics alone. To them, urban farms are hubs for urban regeneration, and they realized that multiple layers of activity and programming were needed to realize that potential. Like Velikov and Thün, they see architecture as a way of “amplifying the activity that’s already happening on the ground, to stitch together new and productive alliances.”

Detroit may be 1,000 miles from Jackson, but the connection between the two cities runs deep. Like Jackson, Detroit is a majority African American city, with many residents who have ties to Mississippi and other southern states. Thus, the Oakland Avenue farm grows many heritage products from Mississippi. Likewise, the association to agriculture is similarly fraught in both cities; as Sirota noted, “We are highly attuned to the idea that going back to the land isn’t necessarily representationally positive to everyone.” Rather than framing urban farming as a return to an idyllic past (and glossing over the history of slavery and policies that led to the dispossession or denial of land to freed slaves), Akoaki’s urban farm work is firmly sited in the urban. “We’ve become astutely aware that the neo-rural is not rural; it’s something that deserves an aesthetic that hybridizes all the aspirations of the city and combines them with the necessity to produce picturesque landscape and food.” Thus the practice’s design of pop-up performance spaces next to the farm’s kale fields for the Detroit African Funkestra is based on the colors and shapes of shuttered music venues across Detroit.

Another participating architect, Oakland-based landscape architect Walter Hood, has extensive experience designing cultural and urban landscapes. Hood, who is also a professor at University of California, Berkeley's  will focus his efforts at Galloway Elementary in Jackson. The 4.3-acre, publicly owned lot is currently a playfield for a local elementary school. According to the city’s planning department, this site is located in a lower-income residential neighborhood with little public space and bordered by a major street dominated by fast food establishments. The theme here will be on food and community.

This is a good fit for Hood. His projects in Charleston, South Carolina; Macon, Georgia; Detroit, and Philadelphia, among other cities, demonstrate a steady thread of incorporating community feedback, local culture, and collective memory into landscape and urban design. In his Water Table installation at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, Hood tapped into the ecology and history of rice production by mounting thousands of Carolina Gold rice plants in circular planters on a platform in a school courtyard, essentially recreating a rice paddy in downtown Charleston. The project resurfaced the link between rice production and the history of the slave labor that made Carolina’s rice industry possible. Afterwards, the project was dissembled and distributed, planter by planter, across schools and institutions in the area, and lived on to continue the conversation. This archaeological approach also surfaces in many other projects by Hood Studio, including its master plan for Detroit’s Rosa Parks neighborhood. Hood's work has long engaged with the idea of “being a protagonist in design," and, in reflecting on the future work in Jackson, asked, “How do we make a landscape powerful, so that once you do it, it has a resonance?”

Finally, at Congress Street, the third Fertile Ground site, New Orleans–based architect Jonathan Tate will bring his experience with food culture and exhibition design to a downtown storefront space. The Congress Street site is close to the heart of government and is intended to amplify the project to public officials and policymakers who work nearby.

For Tate, who designed the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans, the task includes not only the adaptive reuse of an existing building but also the design of an outdoor parklet that invites the public in through greenscape and seating. The challenge will be to bring it all together—the art, the history, the contributions of numerous partners, and of course, engage critical feedback, in a downtown that goes quiet at 5 p.m. on weekdays. "Instead of a veneer you're walking through, it's about bringing the space of the building out into the street," he explained.

The architects, along with other Fertile Ground team members, began site visits in April, and will develop their proposals until the citywide expo in 2020.