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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.

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R.I.P.

New Orleans–based architect Wayne Troyer, FAIA, passes away
Wayne Troyer, FAIA, one of New Orleans’ most distinguished and engaged architects, died on May 3. Troyer battled against pancreatic cancer for nearly three years but continued to produce projects with his firm studioWTA that were his hallmark: modernism merged with New Orleans distinctive urbanism and historic structures. A native of the city, he not only designed dozens of the city’s best new buildings but was also active in civic and cultural commissions and boards, including the Historic District Landmarks Commission, the Architectural Review Committee, the Preservation Resource Center, the New Orleans Film Society, the Contemporary Arts Center, and founded the local chapter of Docomomo. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 The Times-Picayune newspaper credited Mr. Troyer with “helping the city rebuild, working with initiatives such as the Bring New Orleans Back Commission, the Unified New Orleans Plan and Operation Comeback.” His own house was a hallmark of his design thinking and won multiple national and local design awards. Tracey Hummer of Frederic Schwartz Architects worked with studioWTA architects on the 2006 New Orleans Recovery and Master plan and writes of her colleague and friend who she admired: “Wayne was an architect's architect and great fun to be with anywhere, but especially New Orleans. Art, music, and film were all part of his daily life and practice…his compassionate open-minded personality translated to the studio's work.” A memorial for Troyer will be announced in the coming weeks.
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Costume Institute

Assemble converts New Orleans garage into experimental fashion school
The London-based architecture collective Assemble has converted a former car repair shop in New Orleans into a fashion manufacturing hub that offers free education and training for local youth. Dubbed Material Lab, the school is part of an experimental art school founded by the Tasmania-based Museum of New and Old Art (MONA), which also includes a music recording studio and a cooperative garden located nearby. In New Orleans, Assemble, a multidisciplinary studio known for its civic-minded interventions on abandoned structures and in disenfranchised areas, created a space that nods to the ruin. The first floor of the industrial garage was adapted into two large work and production spaces that are finished simply with coats of white paint and exposed concrete floors. One of the most visually striking elements of the building are the doorways and windows that appear to be punched through the walls, complete with jagged brick outlines. Some of these openings frame small plots of vegetation growing inside the building envelope, which are held behind large panes of clear glass. Bright coats of orange and mint green paint highlight structural beams and ceilings, with the orange hue reappearing in the chairs and rolling racks for clothes and textiles. Much of the furniture was designed and put together onsite by Assemble. Material Lab melds the rich culture of costuming, craft, and fashion in New Orleans with the progressive pedagogy of schools like Black Mountain College, a radically run arts college in North Carolina. The lab offers space, professional guidance, and manufacturing equipment for the production of clothing and textile design to youth ages 14 to 30, with the goal of offering a venue for both creative expression and fostering economic independence. With a focus on hands-on learning, the pilot curriculum included textile printing, embellishment, pattern cutting, draping, and clothing design, and the new building is well-equipped with industrial sewing machines, a large dye sublimation printer, a weaving loom, a heat press, other dye equipment, computers, dress forms, and the like. The first pilot session of the school culminated in a December show. Judging by images from the event, the raw and unfinished aesthetic of the space serves the energy of the emerging and experimental designers well. Assemble began working with the school in 2016 at the invitation of MONA and ran the 2018 pilot, which continued through the summer of 2019. It worked with local legends like master beader Big Chief Demond Melancon of the Young Seminole Hunters as well as international fashion stars like Virgil Abloh, the artistic director of Louis Vuitton's men's wear, along with other fashion designers and textile artists. After the pilot, the school is now gearing up to run on a permanent basis.
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Sins of the Father

Virginia's Chrysler Museum reevaluates the architectural legacy of Thomas Jefferson
Virginia's Chrysler Museum of Art is staging an exhibition that will look at the contradictions at the root of much of the early architecture of the United States. The show will focus on Thomas Jefferson, one of the nation's "founding fathers," who designed neoclassical buildings inspired by ideals of freedom and democracy that were constructed by slaves. Jefferson's life as both an idealistic revolutionary who fought for liberty and justice, and as an opponent of racial mixing who fathered several children with Sally Hemings, one of the people he enslaved, has become emblematic of the country's philosophical inconsistencies, and the exhibition will explore the brutal realities of the young republic. The show will display models and drawings of Jefferson's designs, including a proposal for the president's house, pictured above, alongside photos and tools of people like Isaac Granger Jefferson, who was held as a working slave at Jefferson's Monticello estate. “Thomas Jefferson engaged with the most advanced ideas of architecture and city planning of his era. He was also a slave owner who failed to resolve his ideals about freedom and democracy with his reliance upon the institution of slavery. We will examine these facets of Jefferson’s architectural formation and practice to foster a new and fuller understanding of his accomplishments,” said Chrysler Museum director Erik H. Neil in a statement. The show will also feature examples of the work of Andrea Palladio, whose work deeply influenced Jefferson. Palladio's Pantheon was an inspiration for Jefferson's work at the University of Virginia. The Palladio Museum in Vicenza, Italy, collaborated with the Chrysler Museum on the show and loaned several of the models that will be on view. Thomas Jefferson, Architect: Palladian Models, Democratic Principles and the Conflict of Ideals will be on view at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, from October 19 to January 19, 2020.
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Spring Awakening

A twisting treehouse by modus studio blooms above the forest floor
Following a soft opening last June, Modus Studio’s hovering Tree House has been captured amid its fully-installed landscape in the firm’s native Arkansas. Tree House sits above the Garvan Woodland Gardens, a 210-acre botanical garden owned by the University of Arkansas—frequent Modus collaborators. Rather than sitting at the base of the oak and pine trees found in the Evans Children’s Adventure Garden, Tree House has been elevated to the top of the forest, allowing for expansive views of the canopy. The L-shaped treehouse snakes through the trees, ballooning from a child-sized opening at one end to a two-story observation area, capped with a steel screen, fabricated in-house by Modus, that mimics leaflike capillaries. Other than its biomorphic shape, the treehouse is strongly defined by its central steel spine and 113 timber ribs, which were sourced from local Southern Yellow Pine. The fins simultaneously allow the elements to pass through the treehouse while potentially obscuring the forest and adding a sense of mystery for the occupants. The first of three planned treehouses, the structure was envisioned as a refuge for children to explore the outdoors while learning about nature. Everything from the infrastructure, to the programming, to the intricate finishes, reference dendrology, the study of trees. Visitors can access the treehouse either from an elevated trail or directly from a staircase at the forest’s floor. The Fayetteville-based modus, an Emerging Voices 2018 winner, cited its deep ties to Arkansas’s rural landscape in designing Tree House and were directly involved in every step of the project's process.
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Coming Attractions

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

Atlanta announces its first-ever city department of transportation
Last week, Atlanta’s Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced the city will be setting up its first-ever transportation department. As one of the largest municipalities in the United States and one with debilitating congestion issues, this is a huge step in bringing more equitable mobility for Atlanta locals. The move is part of the mayor’s One Atlanta agenda, which aims to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion through the creation of a safe and welcoming city with world-class infrastructure, services, employment opportunities, and more. She aims to build a better-connected city through the new DOT, which will oversee the management of Atlanta’s 1,500 miles of streets, as well as its sidewalks and bike lanes. The agency will consolidate the road construction and repair efforts of the City’s Department of Public Works along with the planning department’s Office of Mobility. Capital roadway projects that are currently part of the city’s infrastructure investment program will also be integrated into the new DOT’s list of duties. Janette Sadik-Khan, former head of New York’s DOT and transportation official at Bloomberg Associates, will advise Atlanta in the creation of its own office. “A city’s success begins with its streets, and a dedicated department is critical to putting the transportation pieces together,” she said in a statement. “Atlanta has an unprecedented opportunity to change course on transportation, and Mayor Bottoms is showing the strong leadership that a city needs not to just grow but to make real progress for Atlantans.” The Atlanta Regional Commission estimates the metro region—which consists of nine Georgian counties and 5.8 million people—will increase in population by 2.5 million before 2040. While many working-class families in Atlanta rely on the city’s public transit services, including the MARTA system, it’s still a car-ridden town and organized offices such as the new DOT are expected to boost the region’s connectivity and help with long-term planning. Last December, Mayor Bottoms released Atlanta’s new transportation plan that will concurrently guide the future expansion of the city’s transportation services, increase its access and affordability, and help diminish Atlanta's overall dependency on cars.
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A Social Network

SPORTS activates an alley in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee
A bright-green installation now snakes through a formerly-dingy and disconnected alley in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee. Designed by Syracuse, New York–based practice SPORTS, City Thread activates the 6,200-square-foot walk-through with 500 feet of linear steel that doubles as public seating. The project was born out of an international design competition, Passageways 2.0, in which architects were asked to envision a piece of contemporary urban infrastructure that would activate an alleyway in the Southern city’s core. Organized by River City Company, a local nonprofit economic development company, the program was the second iteration of a successful 2016 competition that imagined pop-up pieces in Chattanooga as well.  SPORTS won Passageways 2.0 last summer, and with it, the chance to build City Thread as a permanent installation in the 300-foot-long passage known Cooper’s Alley off 7th Street in downtown Chattanooga. Led by Molly Hunker and Greg Corso, the award-winning, multidisciplinary practice collaborated with NOUS Engineering and Metal Arts Foundry on the project, opening the completed, zig-zagging structure last November. It’s now being marketed as a piece of “art-as-infrastructure” and a series of “urban rooms” that support a range of social activities, formal programming, and casual hangouts. To create City Thread, SPORTS was limited to a small budget of just $100,000 and asked to design around fixed elements within the alleyway such as AC units, grease traps, doors, vehicle access lanes, and fire hose hookups. The firm circumvented these barriers by building an adaptable installation that utilized a “kit of parts system of design and construction.” With only six formal elements—straight pieces of steel and five different corners, SPORTS created a seamless volume that conforms to the specific clearances in the alley. The result of City Thread is a new kind of city block for Chattanooga, one that puts pedestrians first and gives way to informal and planned opportunities for social connection. Hunker and Corso told AN in an email that Chattanooga, a city that’s known as a rising tech hub, is keen on building urban infrastructure that encourages both digital and personal connectivity. The “Gig City” is most famous for having the first publically-owned broadband network, a move that spurred economic development and boosted job creation nearly nine years ago. City Thread almost seems like a visual, tactile model of the ultra-fast, fiber-optic internet. It’s another kind of winding network that physically connects locals to one another.   “There’s unbelievably strong support for creative projects, like this one, that bring people together,” said Hunker and Corso. “It’s been particularly exciting to see this new public space come alive with various different activities, and to see the various interpretations of the space by different people.” SPORTS was recently named AN’s 2018 Best of Design Award winner for Young Architects. Established in 2010, the firm has designed and constructed both large- and small-scale architectural installations around the country. Both Hunker and Corso currently teach architecture at Syracuse University.
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Starry Night

MARC FORNES / THEVERYMANY splashes this parking garage with swirling colors
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The parking garage is a starkly utilitarian typology that has been an unlikely subject for some of the world's highest-profile architects; everyone from Frank Gehry to Herzog and de Meuron has tried their hands at a high-design car park. Now, New York–based computational design and digital fabrication studio MARC FORNES / THEVERYMANY has brought a designer parking garage to Charlotte, North Carolina, with Wanderwall, an exterior parkade wall of fluorescent aluminum. The blue-green aluminum screen spans eight stories; its pattern—reminiscent of Van Gogh's Starry Night—takes on a dreamy quality as it courses across the east and south elevations of the structure. According to MARC FORNES / THEVERMANY, the facade's design evokes Charlotte's status as the second largest financial center in the nation; the aluminum sheets are punctuated by a network of nodes strung together by a web of striations passing over waves of diagonal ridges.
  • Architects MARC FORNES / THEVERYMANY
  • Engineer LaufsED
  • Location Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Date of Completion March 2019
  • System Unitized aluminum screen wall
  • Products Computationally-designed color treated aluminum screen wall
The thickness of the aluminum screen is 1/8 inch while the depth of the overall surface reaches up to 16 inches at certain moments. Light passing through nodes and striations of the facade, which is reminiscent of an Arabic mashrabiya window oriel with its complex geometrical latticework, casts varied shadow patterns on the otherwise drab interior concrete walls and flooring. Additionally, the folds of the aluminum reflect sunlight to create a glowing fog of light. Although composed of 5,768 individual aluminum pieces, the facade is draped over the structure as a continuous piece without the backing of a secondary structure and is attached directly to the main concrete structure. "There is no discrete secondary structure, but rather, the facade is a unified system which provides both structural depth, enclosure, and a graphic signal at the urban scale" said MARC FORNES / THEVERYMANY, "it is composed out of labyrinthine stripes, a continuous diagonal underlayer, and custom brackets—all made out of cut and folded aluminum. No one part works independently—only in collaboration with the other parts." The pattern of the facade emerges from the flow of dramatic colors through a rational grid. "The overall motif is derived from computational flows, captured at one moment in the simulation," said the design team. "Those resulting curves are approximated through sets of non-linear, labyrinthine stripes. Coloration is applied in relation to the 'viscosity' of the initial flows." While this is one of MARC FORNES / THEVERYMANY's larger projects, the design team noted that the scaling up of the ultra-thin aluminum system the firm has used in smaller projects was easier than anticipated. Lessons learned from past permanent projects—such as engineering techniques and workflows—serving as an effective guide. Marc Fornes will be presenting a detailed dive into Wanderwall at Facades+ Charlotte on March 19.