Search results for "Brooklyn Strand"
It is no easy feat to retrofit a historic structure to house two arts organizations with vastly different programming and workspace needs. This was the challenge that LEESER Architecture faced, and recently tackled, after winning a commission five years ago to convert the 94-year old Strand Theatre into a robust, community-accessible arts facility in downtown Brooklyn’s emerging Cultural District. The new 60,000 square foot building is the new home to BRIC Arts | Media, a non-profit dedicated to arts and media programming, and UrbanGlass, an organization focused on the art of glass making.
“It is to serve as an anchor of the BAM Cultural District and of the larger vibrant and rapidly evolving areas of Downtown and Fort Greene, Brooklyn,” said Sofia Castricone, senior architectural designer at LEESER Architecture. “The strategy for the exterior of the project was to integrate elements of architecture, signage and exterior lighting to unify the building as an arts center, while maintaining the distinct identities of BRIC and UrbanGlass and to do so within the limited budget.”
Jenna Salvagin / Courtesy BRIC
The building is designed to invite the public through the placement of an “Urban Lobby,” which connects the building’s entrance to the sidewalk “to provide transparency to the vibrant activity going on inside,” said Castricone.
The interior is composed of a myriad of spaces to accommodate a variety of uses from studio work (from media production to glass blowing) and educational programming to art exhibitions and live performances. Emerging and mid-career artists can show their art in a 3,000 square foot gallery or in a smaller space, dubbed “The Project Room,” which is geared more towards video work. Perhaps, paying homage to one of Brooklyn’s iconic architectural features, LEESER created “The Stoop,” a large row of steps designed to function as a gathering and event space.
Jenna Salvagin / Courtesy BRIC
For UrbanGlass, the new building provides ample room for both studio work and exhibitions. Artists have access to 17,000 square feet of studio space, which also includes a state-of-the-art, temperature controlled “Hot Shop.” A gallery and retail shop are located right on the first floor—providing a direct link to the neighborhood to help the organization engage with the public.
“The purpose of the project was to expand BRIC and UrbanGlass to the vacant first and cellar floors of the Strand building, to reimagine the building’s street presence to signify it as an arts center, and to showcase the full diversity of programs and creative energy of the community-based activities that occur within,” said Castricone.
The Brooklyn Tech Triangle—an initiative seeking to turn the city’s most populous borough into a technology capital that rivals Silicone Valley—has taken another step forward. A consortium that includes the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, The Brooklyn Navy Yard, and the DUMBO Improvement District recently hired New York City firm WXY Architecture + Urban Design to develop a master plan geared toward fostering the growth of a technology-based economy. WXY principal Adam Lubinsky told AN about some of the measures the firm plans to implement.
“We’re calling it a strategic plan,” said Lubinsky. “There are so many elements of the plan that aren’t physical.” For example, in order to ensure that there is a proper work force in place, WXY calls for starting training programs at local universities to prepare students for the tech world.
Much of the scheme, however, does center on generating office space that meets the needs of tech firms. “There is a lot of demand for space, but not necessarily the right supply,” said Lubinsky. WXY is currently brainstorming ways to find and create conducive working environments for the industry.
Most of what Lubinsky told AN about the plan involves alterations to the urban fabric that will seek to create a more pleasant experience on the street while stitching together three districts that are currently separated by transportation infrastructure—Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
The plan suggests changes to Columbus Park and Cadman Plaza. It inserts a café and new lighting into Cadman Plaza. It converts a parking lot at the southern tip of Columbus Park abutting Adams Street into a public park. This park also forms a link between two sides of Downtown Brooklyn.
One of the largest challenges for WXY is finding ways to make the wide, heavily trafficked roads, like Adams Street, more welcoming. One solution the firm has come up with is lining these vehicular thoroughfares with retail and restaurant spaces. “There is a real synergy between people who live in Brooklyn and people who want to work in Brooklyn. There is a holistic environment for living, working, and hanging out that is really amazing and we want to accentuate that,” said Lubinsky. The firm plans to add glass box extensions to one of the Metrotech buildings located on Flatbush Avenue. The transparent boxes will house retail spaces and a café.
WXY proposed the use of lighting to make the muscular spaghetti works of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE), the Manhattan Bridge, and the Brooklyn Bridge overpasses more inviting and easier to navigate. A similar approach was taken by Tillett Lighting Design and architecture practice KT3D with their 2008 permanent light art installation This Way, which illuminates the pedestrian access point beneath he Brooklyn Bridge.
The plan also encourages the use of technology in the public realm. It establishes digital touch points, similar to those proposed in the NYC Payphone Design Competition, that feature interactive touch screens, and pervasive Wi-Fi.
The plan also focuses on improving transportation in the district. WXY proposed extending bus lines, two-way bike lines, and walkways. The initiative includes a ferry connection to be integrated into the final phases of Brooklyn Bridge Park. It also extends the B67 bus route, which currently terminates at York Street in Dumbo, through the Navy Yard to a connection with the J, M, and Z subway line in Williamsburg.
“This is a multidisciplinary, multi-dimensional strategic plan where physical components are tied together with transportation and real building design,” said Lubinsky. “The other elements, like training and getting the right kind of work force in place have made this a really interesting process. Making this area into a dynamic hub for technology is going to take a lot of efforts from different areas.”
After years of politics and planning, community building, false starts, and new beginnings, the transformation of the far West Side in the 30s is underway, but details are only now coming into focus. AN examines three aspects of ongoing development that have the potential to make all the difference—the Jacob J. Javits Convention Center; Section 3 of the High Line; and the Hudson Park and Boulevard.
Second Life for the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s January 4 State of the State message included welcome news for West Siders who dream of a day when the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center no longer dominates their neighborhood. A proposal to replace the 1986-vintage, 1.37-million-square-foot hall with a 3.8-million-square-foot facility in Queens wasn’t buried in the details of Cuomo’s address: It was front and center, the first item in his economic blueprint, promising jobs, tourist dollars, and, for the West Side, $2 billion in potential private-sector development along the Battery Park City model—minus the Javits.
It all sounded grand, except that it echoes the same expectations that gave rise to the convention center in the first place when it was expected to generate 16,000 permanent jobs, $38 million in city taxes, and some $832 million in revenues to the city. And while, two years after opening, it brought in $988 million, according to a report published in The New York Times, it remained a crystalline white elephant blocking integrated urban development on the far West Side.
The Javits was conceived by Governor Hugh Carey’s administration with the highest hopes and with the best talent brought to bear. James Ingo Freed of I. M. Pei & Partners (later Pei Cobb Freed & Partners) envisioned it as a 20th-century crystal palace where, according to firm descriptions, “the play of solidity and transparency in which the vast interior, flooded with natural light, combines indoor and outdoor views” makes the space, with its glass vestibule soaring as high as 150 feet, “a covered city square” rather than the industry-standard remote, windowless mega-box.
A vision of connecting to the waterfront with a retail and restaurant-lined galleria running from east to west and engaging the local population was never realized. Shortly before it opened, Paul Goldberger wrote in the Times of its contradictory nature, describing the exterior glass as forbidding and the use of concrete within as excessively heavy. “It seems to call at once for a Boeing 747 and for a string quartet,” he wrote.
Apart from political penny-pinching and neglected maintenance, Freed’s design was also a victim of bad timing in several respects. In the 1980s, the waterfront was in an apparently irreversible state of dereliction, prompting the architects to turn the building’s back on the river. It faced limited material choices, too, according to FXFOWLE principal Bruce Fowle, whose firm is now partnering with Chicago convention specialists Epstein and an all-star engineering team on the convention center’s current $463 million renovation. Pei & Partners initially specified a reflective glass (also used in Boston’s Hancock Tower), which would have brightened the appearance. “When that suddenly went off the market, they had to change it to the best-performing glass they could find, which was dark bronze with a very reflective coating,” Fowle recalled. “Any hope of transparency in the building from outside was lost.” Since 1980s’ glass was less flat than today’s, he added, “each pane was pillowed, in effect, so you don’t really see a very pure reflection; it’s a quilted look.”
Inside, leaks were a problem, necessitating tarpaulin “diapers” with hoses hung from the ceiling to direct rainwater into barrels. Keeping the glass clean was also a challenge: Fowle noted that the “interior system of gantries and elevators [was] abandoned at least 20 years ago.”
However, Freed’s futuristic space frame is surprisingly well preserved, said Tian-Fang Jing, a principal of Weidlinger Associates (structural engineers on both the original job and the renovation). Fast-track scheduling left the original supplier of the casting nodes unable to maintain quality control, but cracked ones were later replaced by Japanese forged-steel nodes, which remain sound.
Now that the materials and technologies are available to complete what Freed and Pei started, Fowle believes that the building’s strengths outweigh its acknowledged limitations. The new Javits has a higher-performing curtain wall of flat, transparent, bird-safe fritted glass (Viracon VNE1-63) in 5-by-10-foot modules, not 5-by-5-foot ones (meaning less metal and a more open feel), with scaffolding and rolling gantries to ease maintenance. It will also be 26 percent more energy efficient, with a 6.75-acre green roof and high-performance rooftop HVAC units. Improved waterproofing using perforated acoustic decking to reduce corrosion, plus stormwater absorption by the green roof, a light variety with regional succulents planted in 1½-inch soil (easily supported by reserve load-bearing capacity, Jing said, since the frame’s design was more conservative than the code specified), ensures that the reborn Javits should be diaper-free. “This building’s already been standing there for more than 25 years” despite rampant water damage, Jing concluded, “so another 25 years shouldn’t [be] any problem.”
Given the position that the casino developer Genting is taking on guarantees connected to the proposed convention center in Queens, replacing the Javits may well take a quarter of a century. In the meantime, advocates of its removal are wringing their hands in anticipation. The Regional Plan Association (RPA), the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association (HKNA), members of Community Board 4, and others have bruited various plans that sell off or demolish the Javits superblock. A 1999 proposal by the Design Trust for Public Space and HKNA, published in 2002 as Hell’s Kitchen South: Developing Strategies, envisioned a relatively small-scale neighborhood with waterfront access, a repurposed multi-use Pier 76, and an expanded Hudson River Park. Take the Javits out of the mix, suggested HKNA-affiliated architect Meta Brunzema, and “there’s an opportunity to create a really great open-space network that will tie into the High Line.”
“It’s fairly clear that the highest and best use for the land Javits sits upon is not Javits,” observed Vishaan Chakrabarti, director of Columbia’s real estate development program and partner at SHoP Architects. A new mixed-use neighborhood restoring the street grid and waterfront access “would transform not just the Javits site but some 60 or 70 blocks of west Midtown,”perhaps breaking the logjam of Hudson Yards, Moynihan Station, and other projects. An outer-borough convention center is a separate riddle, contingent on high-speed rail access.
“To be fair to all of the businesses and hoteliers that have come to rely on the business that flows from the Javits, you need to have some sort of smaller but significant conferencing facility in Manhattan,” Chakrabarti added, noting that the RPA’s suggested site, Farley Annex, is plausible. “None of these ideas are going to happen tomorrow, and money is needed to be spent at Javits to simply maintain the facility and keep it operating, so the mid- to long-term planning exercise of where our convention center belongs shouldn’t get tied up with the short-term needs of fixing the existing facility. But at the end of the day, it’s simply no longer the right spot for a convention center. The land is simply too important, not just in terms of economic value but social value.”
As its neighborhood sprouts new attractions, the era of an isolated, pedestrian-unfriendly Javits may be ending; a reevaluation may be in order. “People still think it’s the old Darth Vader building,” Fowle said. “That’s a mindset that they have, and until people see it, it’s not going to change.”
Frequent AN contributor William Millard last wrote about constructing the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
The private side of section three of the High Line
While unveiling the latest High Line designs by James Corner Field Operations with Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) to the community on March 13, principal James Corner plucked a phrase from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, calling the latest venture a “brave new world.” Unlike the last two sections, which are surrounded by multiple property owners, Section 3 wraps around one massive project, Related Properties’ Hudson Yards. With a hint of anticipation at the stakes of the public/private partnership, Propero’s quote concludes, “Gentle breath of yours my sail must fill, or else my project fails.”
While plans for Section 3 keep operations, design, and ownership separate from Related’s project, the new section still resembles something of a public/private lovechild in that the private developer is ponying up about a third of the funds needed to develop the public park. “We never wanted High Line to become part of the Hudson Yards opens space,” admitted Friends of the High Line co-founder Robert Hammond. “We wanted it to maintain a separate identity.”
The Hudson Yard site stretches from 30th to 33rd streets and from 10th Avenue to the West Side Highway. Related will build a platform and lease the space above the MTA-owned yard where the LIRR runs. Eleventh Avenue divides the site into the Eastern Rail Yard (EYR) and the Western Rail Yard. The west yard was zoned with the High Line view corridors in mind, but EYR was zoned in pre-High Line 2005. On March 14, City Planning held a public hearing for a text amendment to rezone the EYR, pegging financing and maintenance for the park to Related’s project and integrating their open-space bonus requirements traded for height increases in two towers ranging from 56 to 68 stories.
For the northeast corner of 11th and 30th streets, DS+R are also designing an 800-foot-tall residential tower for Related. The firm is already working on a city-owned performance space called the Culture Shed next door. At the junction where the southern section of the High Line meets Section 3, steps will lead up to a large privately-owned public plaza (one of five large POPS) that will open onto the EYR. Related has yet to announce the plaza’s designer.
The High Line junction casts an offshoot forking a half a block farther to the east. There, the park will cut through the Kohn Pederson Fox–designed Coach building (named for its anchor tenant). A 60-foot-high opening in the building will span the High Line, due to a zoning amendment not available to new construction along the southern section. “It’s a careful act to allow the High Line to run through that building,” Corner said. “We worked quite hard to keep them separate; [the High Line] never bleeds seamlessly into any building.” While different from anything on the southern section, this stretch acts, Corner said, “almost like an edge or a balcony” to the Related project, rather “than a path cutting through fabric.”
The east-running branch dead ends in an oddly shaped platform floating above the intersection of 10th Avenue and 30th Street, called the 10th Avenue Spur. There, the designers have presented three options: a covered pavilion, a theater in the round, or hydraulic platforms/ benches that can flatten to create a maneuverable event space. Likewise, the Coach tower overhang area features wheeled lounges that can be rolled out of the way for parties.
While the deal allows Related to fulfill its open-space obligations, the High Line remains city-owned, to be maintained by Friends of the High Line with financial support from Related. Related’s overall open space commitment to the EYR will be more than 313,000 square feet on the 570,000-square-foot site—with the section along the EYR fulfilling 11 percent of its total requirements. If Related chooses to kick in an additional $7.4 million toward the Spur, its open space percentage coverage bumps up to 14 percent. Related is already committed to paying $27.5 million toward rehabbing and landscaping the EYR section of the High Line.
The Friends of the High Line are seeking to raise $65 million toward Section 3, the Spur, and an interim walkway spanning the self-seeded Western Rail Yard section to be developed later. But raising capital from parties that don’t have a direct stake may prove a challenge (a gift of $20 million from the Diller-Von Furstenberg Foundation notwithstanding). Hammond pointed to the Brookfield’s yet-to-be-realized Manhattan West, the ever-unrealized Moynihan Station, and the limbo-prone Javits Center as potential alliances to explore.
Hudson Yards and the Urban Fabric on the Far West Side
Hudson Yards promises to be a node of unusually complex variability straddling an active rail yard and woven into the urban fabric by subway, the High Line, bike paths, an urban park, and city streets, all flanked by projects that will invite a large influx of diverse visitors to the corridor.
Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) has developed the master plan extending from 33rd Street at the north to 30th Street on the south and between 10th and 12th avenues, sloping up from the northern street level to an elevation over the Long Island Rail Road tracks. FXFOWLE is currently renovating the four blocks holding the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on 34th Street. And Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates (MVVA) are at work on the Hudson Park and Boulevard, an arm of snaking green space stretching from 36th to 33rd streets that will house the terminal station of the No. 7 subway line. And then there is the final phase of the High Line. The question is, how will commuters, residents, and convention goers navigate these new public spaces as they aim to dynamically activate the area?
The challenge of the Hudson Yards, Marianne Kwok, the project director working with Bill Pedersen at KPF, explained, is to knit the complex into the existing surroundings. “The main thing we tried to do was to make Hudson Yards as seamlessly connected to the rest of the city as possible—to stitch together the surrounding urban fabric: Chelsea to the south, Hell’s Kitchen and the new Hudson Boulevard neighborhood to the north, and midtown to the east,” Kwok said.
Courtesy Related, Brookfield, and Sherwood Equities
Key to achieving this connection will be the ability of the Hudson Park and Boulevard to serve as a pedestrian spine, reducing vehicular traffic by creating landscaped public spaces and providing easy access to public transportation. Station entrances in the northern and southern blocks of the three-block park and boulevard will issue commuters into a landscape that MVVA principal Matthew Urbanski calls, “a machine for lunching,” that then facilitates their flow to the Javits Center, the Hudson Yards, and Related Companies’ future commercial and residential buildings.
“Circulation drove the design, and circulation flows were the most important aspect of the design,” said Urbanski, explaining that “desire lines” to neighboring destinations create diagonal paths through the landscape, linking the station to corners and sidewalks.
For cars, the site may prove even trickier to access. Carefully planned traffic circulation by Hudson Yards Development Corporation is intended to ensure low traffic levels and relative pedestrian safety. Due to the sloping design of Hudson Yards, cars will enter the complex from the north along 11th Avenue and a ramped driveway extending from the newly created Hudson Boulevard to reach 32nd and 31st streets, dead-ending in cul-de-sacs with access to street-level amenities. This will possibly reduce the speed of traffic along those streets, while through traffic to 12th Avenue will continue along 30th and 33rd streets. From the south, 10th avenue will slope up to 33rd Street, while pedestrians arriving along 10th Avenue will climb to the High Line from intermittent street entrances.
Thrown into the transit mélange are the bike paths zipping up Hudson River Park, the bus routes scheduled along 10th and 11th avenues and 34th street, and the snarl of onramps to the Lincoln Tunnel.
Caitlin Blanchfield is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor interested in culture and the built environment.
AN’s annual resource list may be published every year but it is never the same. Painstakingly drawn from extensive interviews by our editors with the architects and builders of the best architecture of 2011, these names are the too-often unacknowledged cornerstones that guarantee the quality and excellence of today’s architecture. We both herald and share them with you.
General Contractor / Project Manager
Arroyo Contracting Corp.
Brad Feinkopf (left) AND Albert Vecerka/Esto (right)
“Arroyo Contracting did a good job on the Sunshine Bronx Business Incubator. It was a complicated project with many angled walls and corners. They looked into new ways of working, moving from their background in traditional design to contemporary design.”
“Graciano has experienced masons that know how to work with terracotta and its reinstallation, using pieces that were reconditioned and some that were brand new.”
“We were fortunate to have RC Dolner build the Atrium. They had just finished the Greek and Roman galleries at the Met; we were confident they could make elegant and refined traditional detailing. At the Atrium they were able to apply their same high standards in a modern setting.”
“Yorke’s level of service was outstanding. The site superintendent in particular was exemplary and always in contact with us about how the construction was affecting the design. That attitude then filtered down to the contractor and subcontractors.”
“John Riner of PW Grosser is one of the handful of consultants in this area who has substantial experience with open loop wells.”
“We have worked on several historic buildings in New York, but when they are as high profile or popular as the Puck Building, you need a consultant who understands these types of spaces. EBM Structural Engineers is one of the preeminent firms in New York with vast experience in adaptive reuse in a historic context. We worked with Ken Eipel and Rich Grabowski on the REI Soho project and their expertise as historians on New York architecture made them valuable partners for Callison.”
“Joseph R. Loring and Associates anticipated issues at NYU SCPS and worked creatively with the design team to insert contemporary mechanical systems into an existing building with a complex new program.”
“Cantor Seinuk developed a core outrigger wall design that eliminated a lot of sheer walls, which helped a lot with the very complicated unit layouts at 8 Spruce. We just find them to be the best when it comes to structural engineers.”
“Edward Messina at Severud Associates is known as ‘Fast Eddie’ around our business because you call him up and he’s right over.”
“DeSimone designed the tree column and the big spans for Centra. It was a big effort to make that happen. They’re a really great engineering firm, and one thing that they’re great at is keeping the design team and client comfortable with very complicated things and also working with the construction team, while keeping everything on schedule.”
“The North Carolina Museum of Art is really all about daylight, and Arup did an extraordinary job calculating the amount of natural and artificial light and how it combined throughout the space.”
“At Clyfford Still, everything you see is structure. So KPFF's role was very key, especially in translating the structural design so it would be read in the perforated ceilings where the tolerances were very tricky, combined with reinforcing with rebar to maintain a crack-free finish.”
Facade & curtain wall
Island International Exterior Fabricators
david seide (left) AND Robert Garneau (right)
“Gordon Smith is a tried and true Manhattan curtain wall consultant. He kept us out of trouble and found good value for the wall at Centra. We could barely afford a curtain wall for this building and he helped us sneak it in and detail it really well so we can sleep at night.”
“There’s a learning curve on installing a European curtain wall system. Architectural Metal Fabricators took a real interest in jumping in and getting a technical understanding of the system.”
“Front was the key to unlocking the prefab facade at Via Verde. It cost a bit more, but it was faster to put together on site. They helped us translate that.”
“They protected me! At 8 Spruce, the extremely unique wall was largely aesthetically driven but it's just as advanced in performance and Heitmann took care of everything behind the wall in terms of feasibility, budget and schedule.”
“Island Fabrications knows how to bring all the components together; they ordered material globally and fabricated them locally.”
Fittings & Furniture
Carpet & Textile
Custom Fixtures & Signage
Doors & Frames
Kitchen & Bath
Michael Moran (left) AND Courtesy Forest City Ratner (right)
“Interior glass subcontractor A-Val worked creatively to ensure design intent in extremely complex conditions including the three-story open elliptical stair at the NYU SCPS.”
“You can get good window R-value in the United States but you can’t get the quality of high solar heat gain as you can with Walch. The combination is unmatched.”
“CBO out of Buffalo did the glass veil and other curtain wall systems for the Buffalo Courthouse. The most difficult part was printing the Constitution on the glass with ceramic fritting. It took a lot of editing and laying it out and a very long time on our side and theirs.”
“John Lewis Glass would work closely with Tony Dominski at West Edge Metal. Even though it was a custom bench, it was even more custom because of the collaboration of the two firms.”
“Aircuity did the recovery wheels and air handlers at Penn Medicine. Their system helped the owner meet their energy goals. It monitors the occupancy and the amount of CO2 in a space and optimizes the number of air changes so you wind up saving energy and money.”
“Crescent was good in assisting the contractor in LEED complience during construction and helped focus the team on elements that really mattered.”
“Bright Power did a great job of administering and coordinating the LEED application and they were responsible for designing the photovotaic system which was an important part of the building's design.”
“We used Veridian as the sustainability consultant on Centra. Originally, we were just aiming for LEED certification. Now the numbers are coming in and they're very good. It looks like we're going to get Platinum.”
“Julie Bargmann of D.I.R.T.’s knowledge of brown fields, Navy Yards, and their detritus, was a really nice fit.”
Paul C. Steck
Ty Cole / OTTO (left) AND Robert Garneau (right)
“Armstrong worked closely with us in providing customized, perforated metal ceiling panels that met the design intent of the Frick Chemistry Laboratory. Additionally, they did a excellent job field coordinating the installation of those panels with adjacent elements.”
“The project involved finishing hundreds of custom fabricated steel elements—KC Fabrications was extremely flexible with the schedule and was able to turn around material on short notice. They are always willing to do what is necessary to achieve the highest quality finish work.”
“For custom metal work that requires demanding precision and meticulous crafting, Metalman is an invaluable resource. If you can't find the right piece of hardware from a manufacturer, he will design and fabricate a custom piece to fit the requirement.”
“Mani from Millenium Steel is very accurate, and very budget-oriented. We worked with him before. He was able to make big steel pivot pieces.”
“We sent our drawings of pleated metal panels to a few people and got the impression that something custom would be too expensive. But a rep introduced us to Gage, who worked with our contractors to make our designs for the panels in a cost competitive way.”
Custom Fabrication/ Carpentry
“The careful execution of the FSC certified teak screens and planters at Carnegie Hill House resulted from the close collaboration between our design team and Ivory Build. Their skill and rigorous approach to craft enabled us to unify this sequence of outdoor spaces through the meticulous stacking and subtle articulation of teak slats.”
“Bob Seetin is irrepressible and has a 'bring it on' attitude. He created the metal tables, wine racks, and counters we needed for the Film Society cafe quickly and even joyfully, turning everything around within a few weeks.”
“Tom Kozlowski is an exceptional carpenter. He was able to think around unpredicted problems. He comes up with very straightforward and quick solutions. It no longer looks like construction work, it starts to resemble millwork.”
“A pivotal design goal for REI Soho was the adaptive reuse of the materials from the existing historic Puck Building and its subsequent transformation into a retail space. Callison’s vision from the outset was to bring the space back to its original context, from the wood cladding that was repurposed from the interior brick piers to the timber from the ceiling above the ground floor that was remilled and reused for the monumental staircase treads. Terra Mai was a collaborative partner through the entire reuse process providing expert guidance and advice.”
Iwan Baan (left); david seide (center); AND Ori Dubow (right)
“Paul Marantz's lighting design is one of the most mesmerizing aspects of the 9/11 Memorial and plaza.”
“A company in California called Holly Solar fabricated the LED lights in the facade of the Nitehawk Cinema. It’s a small little company, but they do custom light fixtures. They’re good.”
“Kugler Ning is on board with understanding the world architects work in—working with tectonics—to create the right effect. Sometimes lighting designers can be more interested in the fixtures than the final effect. Kugler Ning helped to make the lighting fixtures disappear.”
“We worked with Lumen Arch on the lighting design of Penn Medicine. They just did a fabulous job. We implemented a lot of lighting controls, occupancy sensors, daylight sensors, and things of that nature in the labs to bring down the energy usage and Lumen really knew their way around those systems.”
“We worked with Lighting By Gregory who helped us get the most energy efficient fixtures for the Sunshine Bronx Business Incubator. We as architects know what’s out there, but Lighting By Gregory opened our eyes to more LED opportunities.”
Paul Warchol Photography (left) AND peter aaron/esto (right)
Aislinn Weidele/Ennead Architects (left) AND don pearse photopgraphers (right)
Concrete, Masonry, Stone, & Tile
ADM Concrete Construction
Helical Line Products
Reginald D. Hough Concrete Construction
“Peter Dagostino at ADM Concrete made it possible to get the building up. He coordinated everything. ADM is a very smart company and did a quick job.”
“Boston Valley is one of the premier companies to go to for very careful matching of terracotta.”
“The excellent stone work by Port Morris Tile & Marble helped us make this a place of permanence and beauty. They worked with our vision and found the spectacular green marble for the benches.”
“The slate siding from Vermont Structural Slate was naturally resistant to spray paint.”
“We used Reginald Hough as a concrete consultant for Milstein Hall. They came in during construction process to facilitate the subcontractor, Pike, and help us to decide on some of the materials to test and techniques to use. The lower levels have a smooth concrete dome ceiling with integrated lighting. Because it is both architecture and structure, it required a very precise installation method. Hough was invaluable in achieving that.”
A/V & Acoustics
Fire Protection/ Code Consulting
Montroy Andersen DeMarco
Food Facility Planning
Radiant Consulting Services
Turf and Sports Regulations
“Acoustic Dimensions was great. They were really hands on, heavily involved in the Nitehawk. We have apartments above the movie theater so acoustic isolation is a big part of this project. They designed the second floor’s ceiling to hang on springs. They also tested the sound transmission when it was all done and you can’t hear a thing.”
“Richard Demarco is the most informed architect in New York City about building code and law. This guy is a joy to work with.”
“Clarity Custom is a terrific 'full system' provider and installer who took the lead on specifying A/V equipment and lighting control systems. There was an excellent interface with the general contractor and architect to minimize coordination issues. Clarity did a great job of integrating hardware, wiring and controls in a project where every detail matters.”
“Building Conservation Associates have areas of expertise that bring refinement and an ability to find the resources.”
“At the Museum of the Moving Image, Scharff/ Weisberg and Jaffe Holden had a real hand in setting the stage to accommodate different uses in terms of all the data and audio visual systems that allow the museum to be a plug + play environment.”
“Bob Powers is very keen in navigating the historic restoration tax break. He's tech savvy and politically savvy, which helps get city, state, and federal approvals.”
“Laurent Corradi of Vertical Garden Technology has created two grand and beautiful green walls that are loved by all. His knowledge of the botany and technical aspects of plant walls will insure that these features will thrive for generations to come.”
“The Musuem of the Moving Image faced a lot of challenges not to mention being a publicly-funded project in hard economic times. Levien took it all in stride and helped us meet the extra demands on budget cutting without sacrificing quality.”
Other Services & Suppliers
Graphic Design/Signage & Wayfinding
Enclosure Testing / Facade Maintenance
Epoxy Specialists and Supply
Finishes and Coatings
Heat Recovery Ventilator
Light Fixture Restoration
Painting & Epoxy Installation
Riggers to the Arts
Security Bollards/ Traffic Barriers
peter aaron/esto (left) AND courtesy wxy (right)
“At Queens Plaza, we collaborated with Michael Singer, an artist whose commitment to the public realm complements Margie Ruddick's environmental sensibility for landscape. He designed and produced special pre-cast components integrated into the architecture of new social spaces that withstand the site's powerful infrastructural presence.”
“Claudy Jongtstra’s artistry is present in two monumental tapestries that cover both long walls of the Atrium. These extraordinary artworks were made possible by her artistic vision as much as her involvement in the technical aspect, managing all from Europe.”
“Fountain consultant Dan Euser is really familiar with the potentials and limits of water dynamics. He's visionary in terms of creating things of beauty and simplicity.”
“When the graphic designers Karlssonwilker joined the team, the design of the Museum of the Moving Image was fairly well resolved, but they were able to complement and add to its strength in a way that carried through the branding of the entire institution”
“The reception desk at the Sunshine Bronx Business Incubator is custom designed and Panelite made it easy for me because they built a model on site for approval and I was able to see our 3-D computer drawings in real life before the desk was fabricated.”
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Unraveling strands of steel pipe create a clothing display and focal point for the tony boutique.Flatcut, a design and fabrication firm with a studio in Brooklyn and a 100,000-square-foot facility in Passaic, New Jersey, has more than 100 machines to its name. Though it has the capabilities to mass-produce 20,000 custom furniture pieces and 50,000-square-foot facades, the firm also creates small, site-specific installations for museums and retail stores. Most recently the Beckley Boutique, a celebrity hot spot and shopping destination on Melrose Avenue, hired Flatcut to design an eye-catching design feature at its new Las Vegas outpost in the Cosmopolitan Resort and Casino. With its Arquitectonica-designed façade, the Cosmopolitan has interiors by Rockwell Group, Jeffrey Beers, and Adam Tihany; the hotel’s retail stores wanted to stand out, too. Beckley envisioned a functional sculpture at the store’s entrance to showcase its eclectic mix of emerging and established fashion designers. Flatcut had already worked on the store’s Melrose flagship, so the firm was a natural choice to design a new feature. Rather than produce a literal translation of a retail “tree” (like the one that stands in the Melrose store window), Flatcut abstracted the design into bunches of unraveling strands to create a dynamic shape that would attract hotel and casino patrons while also setting off the boutique’s wares displayed prominently in the storefront. The design was developed parametrically to establish an iterative process capable of creating multiple variations in a short period of time. The firm’s custom software is capable of reading a series of radii and lengths taken directly from the 3-D model. This results in a highly accurate translation process, with little opportunity for human error. The tree’s strands are made of one-inch outside diameter light-gauge steel tubing pipe bent by a three-axis CNC pipe bender. The sculpture includes a total of 36 custom strands designed from three different curves and cut at 12 different lengths, creating a swirling, centrifugal design. Notches at the top of each branch can hold hangers or accessories. Though the installation stands only 10 feet tall with a diameter of five feet, it holds its own among the hipster clothing and stands out in newly design-centric Las Vegas.
Architect Adam Hayes often refers to one recent project as “the thing.” Indeed, it’s hard to put a name to the faceted structure he and his firm, Openshop|Studio, designed as part of an extensive interior renovation of a Brooklyn loft. A sculptural-looking, perforated form, it resembles some sort of alien pod or perhaps a rough gemstone.
It may look wild, but the structure is intensely practical. CNC-milled plywood ribs provide structural support for the orientedstrand-board-clad facets, which contain a tight configuration of rooms, including a study, kid’s room, master bedroom, bathroom, and myriad storage nooks. Outside the pod lies a conventional loft space, its airy quality and sight lines only minimally disturbed by the blobby form in the corner. (Hayes compares the overall effect to a blimp in a hangar.) The efficient use of space and inexpensive materials helped them meet a budget of $109 per square foot in the 1,200-square-foot space.
The renovation is just one of a number of New York residential projects making creative use of limited resources. In this expensive, overcrowded city, many clients are asking architects to be ever more ingenious in planning living spaces; in effect, they want something out of nothing, or at least not much. Openshop|Studio and several other young firms are helping their clients tackle both problems by designing unconventional but highly efficient, flexible hybrid spaces.
Not long ago, John Hartmann of Freecell Architecture did some design work for a client who isn’t much of a cook and loathes clutter. As a result, the client decided he’d be just as happy with a part-time kitchen in his 450-square-foot Manhattan studio. Freecell designed a giant, piano-hinged door-cum-cabinet that swings closed when that kitchen area isn’t in use. Though Hartmann says the unit rolls easily enough, even he is still a bit incredulous at the concept. “Most people would say, ‘What is this? I have to roll a 200-pound door to get to my refrigerator? This is insane!’“ he says.
Movable parts were also the name of the game in a more ambitious project by workshop/apd. Within the spacious confines of a 2,400-square-foot Midtown loft, the firm designed a smaller cube in which all of the living functions interlock. It contains a study; two bathrooms; and a kitchen, which features a sliding door that offers division from the adjacent living area as needed, as well as a table that can slide out from a slot under the countertop to create an informal breakfast nook. Nearby, two bedrooms can be easily converted to three, by pulling apart a central pair of wheeled doors in opposite directions. The entire effect could be described as “a kind of an interactive box,” says principal Matt Berman. “You’re pushing and pulling on this thing from each side and interacting with it in different ways.” Designing such a flexible space was strategic, since the architects designed the space for a developer on spec, without knowing who the eventual inhabitants would be. The strategy paid off, since the loft sold quickly, says Andrew Kotchen, another principal at the firm.
“A lot of our projects deal with this idea with collapsing activity programming into more efficient spaces, and it’s clearly stemmed from doing a lot of New York interior renovations, because space is so finite,” Kotchen says. “The more efficient we can be in the way we use and configure our space, the more sustainable that environment will be,” he adds. “It’s more compact, uses fewer materials, costs less, and so on.”
For architecture- and furniture-design firm 4-pli, one innovative project stemmed from a client’s complaints about her husband’s clutter taking over their open loft. “She wanted to literally contain his mess; to give him a space where she didn’t have to see it so they didn’t have to fight about it,” says partner Jeffrey Taras.
Using Baltic birch plywood to help keep within a $20,000 budget, the firm crafted dividers that double as storage spaces for books and other materials. The husband’s office pod has a striking curve that’s smooth on the outside but lined with shelves to help contain his clutter. The 1⁄8-inch-thick plywood doesn’t provide much sound insulation, but it did let the architects bend the wood into graceful, organic-looking shapes. A ladder leads up the outside of the office to a guests’ sleeping berth on top, which doubles as the wife’s writing area. Another wavy divider features shelves on the living room side and a smooth surface on the master bedroom side. A matching wardrobe in the bedroom offers yet more storage space. Naturally, highly customized projects such as this one and Openshop|Studio’s carry their share of headaches. Openshop|Studio’s faceted form required more than one hundred individually cut pieces for the geometrically irregular surfaces. Likewise, the varying forms of the structural ribs had to be custom milled on a CNC cutter. 4-pli’s design was an experiment in how much 1⁄8-inch thick plywood can bend. In the end, the design for one of the panels in the office pod had to be redone because the wood wasn’t pliant enough for the original design’s double curvature, says Bill Mowat, another of 4-pli’s four partners.
“I think, in a way, this project was our most intensely experimental project,” says Taras. “For the most part, it worked out…but we learned a lesson; we wouldn’t experiment this much in a single project now.” The project was a learning experience that led them to launch a fabrication branch, Associated Fabrication. For their Odd Couple clients, it was a step toward peace and quiet.
CAD enters another dimension, with two new modeling approachessbuilding information modeling (BIM) and parametric modeling (PM))that offer better design, analysis, and management capabilities. Are architects ready to make the leap? Clay Risen finds out.
|Joe MacDonald, an associate professor at the Harvard Design School teaching CATIA and principal of his own firm, Urban A&O in New York, used CATIA to design the Wave Workstation|
Despite significant changes wrought by computer-aided design (CAD), blueprints and drafting pencils still define much of the architectural practiceelargely because software has yet to provide an easy, standardized way to translate complex renderings into practical plans. But that may be about to change. Along two different fronts, software has gone a long way in recent years toward merging design and execution: parametric modeling (PM), which tracks and integrates design parameters set by the user; and building information modeling (BIM), which integrates building schedules, databases, and budgeting software into 3-D modeling. And while the day when PM and BIM comprise the industry standard is a long way off, they are already redefining the cutting edge of the practice.
Last fall, Gehry Technologies, a spinoff of Gehry Partners, shipped the first order of its long-awaited Digital Project, an adaptation of Computer-Aided Three-dimen-sional Interactive Application (CATIA), the PM software Gehry has used on projects like the Guggenheim Bilbao and Disney Concert Hall. Meanwhile, AutoDesk is aggressively marketing Revit, its BIM software package, having gained great publicity after Skidmore, Owings & Merrill announced its use of the program in its work on the Freedom Tower.
It's funny because a year ago, a lot of us in the industry were saying we couldn't wait for this to happen,, said Campbell Hyers of Control Group, an IT consulting firm that works heavily with architecture firms. A lot has happened in a year. This is long overdue.. Parametric modeling responds to a long-standing problem with CAD. While visualization tools, such as Maya, are great for form-finding, they are unable to generate the precise measurements needed to convert complex models into buildable plans. For that, architects must export their work into an engineering program, such as Rhino, then into AutoCAD to produce project documents. Not only is this process inefficient, but it almost guarantees that information will be lost along the way.
|The stereolithography (STL) model viewed in wireframe, can be exported from CATIA at any time during the process to have scale models made on a rapid-prototyping machine, allowing designers to evaluate variations quickly. Any changes will be propagated accordingly throughout the model, a dynamic set of geometric interdependencies.|
All of this software hit graduate schools around 1990 and it delivered an unfortunate and unfulfilled promise of complex curves and geometries that in the end proved impossible to build,, said Joe MacDonald, an associate professor at the Harvard Design School and a principal at Urban A&O, a New York firm that uses CATIA. The building industry had no way of managing or making sense of what essentially were just sexy renderings..
Programs with strong parametric modeling capabilitiesswhich, along with CATIA, include Solid-Works and Bentley Systems' MicroStationntake care of all of that in a single environment and, as a result, the impossibly curvy designs rarely seen outside design school crits and Frank Gehry's portfolio will be well within reach of most firms. We are working in an environment that offers a total simulation of a building to the point where, for example, plans and sections mean very little to our design process,, MacDonald said.
And while PM is only slowly catching on, the firms that have adopted it have proven easy converts. Soon after founding Front in New York two and a half years ago, the firm's partnerssarchitecture-trained Bruce Nichol, Mike Ra, and Marc Simmonssfound themselves in the fortunate but challenging position of working with Gehry Partners on a pair of projects, both of which required them essentially to become a parametric modeling shop. (OMA, Herzog & De Meuron, Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa Architects, and other firms have also come to them for technological support on various projects.) And while they have gone on to do a raft of non-PM workk?CATIA and Digital Project is a tool for us, just as AutoCad, Rhino, and Strand 7 are,, said Raa the trio hasn't shied away from using the technology to tackle one of their own projects, the SCL Glass Head-quarters and Showroom in Brisbane, Australia. For the curvy shed, built entirely of glass made by the client, PM is allowing them to do with glass what Gehry does with titanium, imbedding information on the back end of the job that will be used for fabrication and construction,, said Ra.
|The CATIA model was subjected to surface curvature analyses (screen shots, far right). CATIA's automotive reflection tools were used to simulate reflections.|
And if they decide they want to change any part of the glass-beam structure? A rule change can be propagated into all the other glass beams that might be different in size,, said Ra. The final payback is that the design drawings become shop and fabrication drawings. Thousands of pieces of glass that are different, and you can spit them out as usable shop drawings..
BIM, on the other hand, focuses on improving the production process. By embedding databases and schedules within 3-D models, BIM softwareesuch as AutoDesk's Revit, Graphisoft's ArchiCAD, and Nemetschek's VectorWorks Architecttis able to quickly translate an architect's ideas into schedules, budgets, and orders. We can very quickly generate a schedule that shows, say, the volume of concrete required by contractors,, said James Vandezande, who oversees digital design for SOM's New York technical group. Thus not only architects but clients and contractors can immediately see the cost and duration of a particular project, and what happens to those variables when changes are made to the design.
The two fronts are not wholly distinct: Revit contains some parametric capabilities, while CATIA can deliver some BIM functions. But their relative strengths are different, and, say experts, those differences are drawing more clearly the distinction between service- and design-oriented firms.
The groups starting to use BIM are doing straightforward, normative buildings,, said Dan Schodek, who teaches CATIA at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. In Revit you can do some curves and swoops, but not nearly with the design capability of parametric software. Meanwhile, you can get database output from CATIA and other programs, but life is not made easy for you..
|New Yorkkbased Front Inc. is an architecture and engineering firm and a parametric modeling specialist. For the SCL Glass Headquarters in Brisbane, the architects designed a shed entirely made of glass (rendering, left) to showcase the client's various production capabilities such as curving, laminating, insulating, tempering, and shape-cutting. The building was modeled in CATIA (below) to be fabricated directly in the adjacent factory.|
In theory, neither PM nor BIM is wholly new. Gehry and a handful of other architects have been using parametric modeling software for over a decade, while SOM has been using a rudimentary form of BIM for almost 25 years. But those are exceptions, and few firms have found such programs worth the time and effort.
It will take time to get used to. Right now even rich developers can hardly afford it,, said Winka Dubbeldam, principal at Archi-tectonics, who added that she is taking a wait-and-see attitude on the new software. That doesn't mean in the future that they're not going to be more affordable. And then I would love to have one of those multiplatform things.. For the time being, though, she's content with what she hassa cocktail of Maya, Rhino, and VectorWorks.
But most see PM and BIM as the future of the profession. For one thing, parametric modeling has begun to find a place in the nation's top architecture schools, especially as Dassault Systtmes, the French firm that owns both CATIA and SolidWorks, has sought out relationships with faculty and architecture programs. MacDonald noted, At Harvard, CATIA made a big push.. Two years ago, John Nastasi, who taught at the New Jersey Institute of Technology before going to Harvard and studying under Schodek, opened the Product Architecture Lab, a master's degree program in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken. It's one of the first programs in the country to rely heavily on CATIA. It's the only tool I've found that aligns itself closely with how a building goes together,, Nastasi said.
At the same time, large clients, such as the U.S. General Services Administration, are starting to demand BIM-centric deliverables as a way to speed up the construction process and improve post-construction maintenance.
|Skidmore, Owings & Merrill is using Revit on the design of the Freedom Towerrthe first highrise to be developed in the programmas well as more workaday projects, like the Elizabeth Academic High School in New Jersey.|
And while today there is a sharp distinction between PM- and BIM-centric software, many expect that in the future the two will begin to converge. We have environments like CATIA that are driving themselves to become more user-friendly and relevant to the architectural world,, Schodek said. No doubt those designers of [BIM software] are also trying to make their programs more robust design-wise. Ultimately there might be some coalescing..
Malcolm Davies, CEO of Gehry Technologies, said he hopes his company's Digital Project is a step toward just that sort of convergence. We have mechanical engineering products integrated and all the function of CATIA,, he said. At the same time, he added, the software has a more user-friendly interface and leaves out many of the expensive non-architectural functions in CATIA.
Indeed, the fast-paced developmenttand ultimate convergenceeof PM and BIM technologies point to a common horizon: a seamless relationship between design, construction, and maintenance in which pure data is the only deliverable. Ten years from now,, mused Carl Galioto, a partner in SOM's New York office, we will be having a drink and laughing about how we used to draw in two dimensions and delivering sheets of paper..
clay risen is an assistant editor at the new republic.
As software packages grow more powerful, More Complex, and more expensive, one IT firm is simplifying things for architects. By treating software and support like a utility, purchased like water or electricity, New yorkkbased Control Group may be able to take the sting out of tech investments, and help small firms keep up with the big boys. Sara Moss reports.
IT guys (and they are mostly guys) are the heroes of the modern office. They fix our email when it's not working, retrieve crashed files, advise us on hardware and software needs, debug and reset whatever needs debugging or resetting. But one firm, Control Group, is pushing the idea of technology support to another level. Just as architects hope for enlightened clients to father their procreations, the partners of Control GrouppCampbell Hyers, Colin O'Donnell, and Scott Andersonnare pleased to have clients who challenge them to propose solutions that not merely support but enable more creative design processes.
When Hyers talks about the build-out of their new office, a raw Tribeca floor-through, it's clear that he's as much a design freak as a tech geek: He worked as an architect for half a dozen years at Rafael Viioly Architects before starting Control Group with O'Donnell and Anderson, who have backgrounds in networks and design technology. Their office won't need much design work, though: On any given day, it's near-empty, as most of the company's 19 employees are scattered throughout the city providing support for the firm's nearly hundred clients, the majority of which are architecture and engineering firms, including Studio Daniel Libeskind, 1100 Architects, Nicholas Grimshaw Partners, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Buro Happold, and yes, Rafael Viioly.
Control Group is not the only technology consulting firm geared towards architects, but it is unique in its aspiration to treat technology as a flexible entity. It started out with clients asking us to host their networks and systems,, said Anderson, pointing out the advantage of being able to check on a firm's programs and files remotely and the potential to allow firms to share their work with collaborators. Consequently, Control Group established a server in a former army facility in Brooklyn.
More importantly, they found that most firms' technological growth occurs in an ad-hoc, incremental fashion, which often left them stuck using systems that don't best suit their current needs or future goals. We hate to be the ones telling an architect that he has to invest $25,000 in a new server and software,, said Anderson.
They are now developing an idea which they've dubbed utility computing,, drawing comparisons to how electricity is distributed. Early on, power stations were small, not particularly powerful, dispersed, and many people even had their own generators. The same goes for water, with people tapping into their personal or local resources. Gradually, larger centralized stations served greater areas, bringing efficiencies and savings.
Computing has gone through similar revolutions, with mainframes giving way (not very long ago) to personal computers, which kicked off the software explosion that has changed the global economy forever. But centralized computing never completely disappeared; banking and other business industries are rooted in remote networks, with local workstations serving merely as monitors, without software or memory. The biggest players in the industry, like Microsoft and Apple, who have the most to gain from PCs and individual software licensing, have persistently explored how they might play a role in restoring centralized user resources.
The design fields remain decidedly in the realm of localization. Architecture firms expand and contract with the number and size of jobs in their offices, and purchase hardware and software accordingly. For many small to mid-size firms, the initial outlay is sizable; purchasing a copy of AutoCad can cost $3,500 per employee, and with AutoDesk requiring users to pay a yearly fee for updates and support, prices climb even higher. Hyers likens the standard approach to buying software and servers to building a power plant just to light a single bulb.
With utility computing, however, firms can purchase technology as they need it. Control Group envisions a system in the future in which each user can log onto their computer in the morning and select the programs they will need that day, and pay a low rate per program, only for the days that they need it. You could tap into it like water, by the glass,, said O'Donnell.
We are hosting services and applications, like Microsoft Exchange, offsite for our clients right now,, said Hyers. We are developing relationships with other hardware and software vendors to bring their particular technology to our clients in an affordable by the drink' format, and expect to release those as they are available next year..
Clients welcome this approach. Said Paul Schulhof of Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects (a Control Group client), A utility-like structure seems to be the trend in other industries, especially when you are dealing with complex software. People prepare their taxes remotely online all the time, and pay for it that one time instead of buying it.. Matthew Johnson of Diller Scofidio + Renfro agreed: Campbell has mentioned that it is something they are working on, and we could definitely use it, since the cost of software is astronomical.. Until about five years ago, we could manage [our computing systems] on our own,, said Schulhof. As we took on more work and our systems grew more complex, it became harder to make sure the network was safe and protected. Also, we are doing more international work now, which means that there has to be a collaborative exchange of information, and a more sophisticated way of working on files together. Since each new piece of software adds complexity and takes time to assimilate, we like to have just what we need, not more..
In general, many firms are now rethinking their CAD strategy (especially with the emergence of building information and parametric modeling programs), and enlisting an outside party to help them take stock and plan for the future. And, according to Hyers, the more Control Group can plan, the more it can control each client's tech environment and working conditions. We're trying very hard not to become enablers of past problems,, said Hyers; that way, they can focus more on developing other ideas to help the profession function better. And it seems that there is more to come; said Hyers, the concept of utility computing is more of a direction than a destination..
Sara Moss is a writer based in New York.
The Cool Hunt Every architecture office has a materials library, though that can mean anything from a pile of product samples to a rigorously organized and staffed archive. Luckily for architects, the explosion of new materials in the last decade has brought with it an array of tools to help architects keep up with it all. Cathy Lang Ho surveys the sources. For an installation in Milan during the International Furniture Fair last month, Steven Holl Architects created a piece (left) that explored the theme porosity,, using a wood-veneered aluminum he found at Material Connexion. The material's ability to be laser cut and creased without breaking perfectly suited the design. Nick Gelpi Is not architecture determined by new materials and new methods?? Le Corbusier wrote in Architectural Record in 1929. The Swiss architect pressed further: A hundred years of new materials and new methods have made no change whatsoever in your [American] architectural viewpoint.. And where do things stand today? American architecture is still not exactly regarded as being on the forefront of material or technological innovation. Architecture is so boring,, lamented George Beylerian, president of Material Connexion, the mother of all materials resources, founded in 1997. What happened to the days when architects were fearless? It seems like only a few are trying to see what they can do with new materials or new ways of using materials.. Of Material Connexion's 1,200 users, architects comprise a minority, far outnumbered by industrial designers, manufacturers, and even fashion designers who tap into Material Connexion's Manhattan library or online database, where thousands of cutting-edge materials and processes have been juried, explicated, and catalogued. Some might consider the cost of Material Connexion's membership an obstacle: An individual membership, which includes access to both on-site and web libraries, is $450 per year. A corporate membership, which allows up to four people to use the on-site and web libraries, is $1,470. Many architecture firms balk at such fees, unlike, say, Prada, BMW, Target, or Steelcase (members all). But the payoff can be immense. With materials harvested from sources like the journal of the Society of Plastic Engineers and industries from medical equipment to aerospace, Material Connexion's offerings are more surprising and fantastical than what one would encounter walking the floors of a building trade fair. Consultation comes with the membership. Designers will come and tell us the characteristics they're looking for in a material, and we'll do our best to narrow down the possible solutions,, said Angela Aldrete, who works in the library. For many of Material Connexion's membersswho include Jean Nouvel, Bernard Tschumi, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Office of Metropolitan Architectureethe amount of time saved by this type of research assistance can be priceless. The most recent issue of DesignAid included MesoOptics' PureFX (left), in which a material is coated with a special film that transforms a laser point into a line with only a five percent loss of light; and Bendywood, available in beech, ash, oak, and maple, can be bent in a cold, dry state at a radius of over ten times its thickness (below). Courtesy Inventables Robin Reigi, whose eponymous showroom in Chelsea provides innovative materials and processes to architects and designers, has also seen a burgeoning demand for material research since she started her business six years ago. Somewhat organically, she has branched into material consultation, with clients like General Motors, Nissan, and Herman Miller recruiting her to hunt down materials to solve specific design problems. But Reigi doesn't expect architects to start paying for advice. We market our products to them but we won't look to them for fees,, she said. The best service she can provide is to act as a filter, offering a carefully edited selection of products that are functionally and visually extraordinary. She represents mostly small (under $5 million) companies, and often works closely with them to improve or develop products and processes that she thinks will appeal to architects. Architects always tell me what they want, and it often makes me think, Does that exist? If it doesn't, why not? And who can make it?? Reigi said. For architects who are part of that large New York demographic that's addicted to having everything delivered, two compelling subscription services have emerged in response to the wave of material-mania. Chicago-based company Inventables launched DesignAid three years ago, a quarterly magazine about fresh technologies and materials that comes with a box of labeled samples (about 20 in each installment). Zach Kaplan and Keith Schacht came up with the concept for DesignAid after talking to architects and designers and finding that everyone's office was in chaos,, in Kaplan's words. The service starts at $6,500 yearly and increases according to the size of the firm and number of users. Meanwhile, Princeton Architectural Press is launching a similar publication, though on a smaller scale than DesignAid. Subscribers to Materials Monthly will receive three to five samples per month, for $200 per year or $24.95 per volume. Schacht would not specify how many subscribers DesignAid has, though he did note that architects are the smallest group, lagging far behind manufacturers, industrial designers, and interior designers. One reasonable explanation is that new materials are easier to apply to fashion, products, and interiors than architecture. It takes a lot of guts for an architect to use a material that's new and hasn't been tested,, said Rita Catinella Orrell, product editor at Architectural Record. When she's wading through the thousands of product samples and press releases she sees every year, she pays particular attention to the amount of research a manufacturer has done to back up a product. Sure, there are general trends that manufacturers and architects are interested in at the moment, like translucency and sustainability,, she said. But getting something tested and approved for buildings is a long process.. It's easy to get sucked into the sexy trap,, agreed Morley Bland, resource director at Beyer Blinder Belle, but when push comes to shove, if something is unproven, too expensive, or so special that you have to wait around for it, most architects be reluctant to use it.. Bland is a member of the Research Directors Association, a group of individuals who are formally in charge of their firms' libraries or informally their firms' resident product geek.. Only in its sixth year, the group has chapters across the country and about 200 members, 60 in New York who meet monthly. Their primary aim is to share information, for example, turning each other on to cool new finds or providing recommendationssor warningssabout specific materials or manufacturers. They also share ideas about how to best conduct research and present their findings to their firms. Some make staff presentations, while others send weekly email newsletters. Blaine Brownell, an architect and Seattle-based NBBJ's resident product guru, has gone so far as to offer free product-of-the-week email newsletters to anyone who asks. (He also created his own printed and PDF catalogue of new materials, Transmaterial, available on his website.) The group has also discussed ways of creating a national shared database and of formalizing what they do, perhaps by establishing requirements or at least a clear definition of the resource director's job, which might increase their value to a firm. All this progress on the materials front is sure to pull architecture along with it. Cathy Lang Ho is an editor at AN. RESOURCES www.materialconnexion.com www.robin-reigi.com www.inventables.com www.rdanet.org www.transstudio.com Materials Matter Material Connexion recently launched a quarterly publication called Matter, which is mailed to its library members and distributed at its resource centers in Manhattan, Cologne, and Milan. Featuring case studies, profiles, and topical articles, the latest issue (#3, Spring 2005) also presents four best in showw materialssstand-outs from Material Connexion's monthly jury sessions. The following is excerpted with permission: Cement: Construction Cement (MC# 5151-01) High toughness cement for construction. This cement is a high-performance material that possesses a unique combination of properties including good tensile and compressive strength, ductility, durability, and enhanced aesthetics. It has been designed to serve contemporary architectural creativity and can be used in a highly diverse range of applications. There are currently three different types of this cement: FM contains metal fibers and is suitable for structural civil engineering applications such as load-bearing structures; AF is a variation of FM that includes the same mechanical properties and incorporates excellent standardized fire-resistance behavior; and FO contains organic fibers and is suitable for architectural applications such as wall panels, furniture, canopies, etc. Current applications are for architectural and engineering applications where high-performance cement is required. It can be used as a self-consolidating material, which can replicate fine formwork detail or dry cast, facilitating the creation of highly architectural aesthetic structures. Process: Fragrance Encapsulation (MC# 5167-01) Moldable resin with encapsulated fragrance. A custom-designed fragrance is incorporated into a cellulose base polymer and extruded into pellets. These pellets form the raw material for secondary injection molding into various shapes. The fragrance has a lifespan of 20 years from initial encapsulation and there are currently over 20,000 different fragrances that may be encapsulated. A range of percentage loadings (the intensity of fragrance) as well as color co-ordinations is available in pearlized, gloss, and matte finishes. Current applications include injection molded packaging items for cosmetic and fragrance industries, watchbands, and toys. Naturals: Formable Composite Board (MC# 5165-01) Molded composite panel from recycled carpet. Natural (wool) and synthetic (nylon 6 and nylon 6, 6) fibers from post-consumer carpet is bonded using a synthetic resin (non-urea formaldehyde) with heat and pressure to create rigid paneling for construction. The panels have good compressive and impact strength, are water, mold, and rot resistant, may be machined easily using conventional woodworking tools and exhibit excellent dimensional stability. Thermoforming is possible, creating de-bossed surfaces as well as hemispherical cylinders with radii of curvature diameters as low as 4 inches (10.2 centimeters). Panel thickness ranges from 0.37551 inches (112.54 centimeters) and panel sizes up to 4 x 24 feet (1.22 x 7.3 meters). The panels may be laminated with wood veneers, GRP (glass reinforced plastic) sheets, or painted. Current applications are for wallboard, as an alternative to MDF for cabinetry and office furniture and as an alternative to pressure treated lumber. Polymers: Acoustical Panel (MC# 5174-02) Acoustical panels for interior exposed applications. Expanded polypropylene pellets are bonded together to create a lightweight, non-fibrous sound-absorbing panel used as an exposed tackable surface. The panels are available in white and charcoal gray in 1 and 2 inches (2.54, 5.08 centimeters) thicknesses and in 2 x 2 and 2 x 4 feet (60.1 x 60.1, 60.1 x 122 centimeters) sizes. The panels comply with ASTM E-84 class 1 for flame spread and smoke generation and give absorption of both low and high frequency sound (12554,000Hz). The surface of the panels may be cleaned with regular detergents and are both water resistant and have high impact strength. Current applications are for sound absorption in gymnasiums, swimming pools, and other sports facilities, in manufacturing clean rooms, food processing plants and restaurants as well as machine shops, offices, and gun ranges. Material-of-the-month Club Princeton Architectural Press introduces a subscription-based catalogue of new materials Materials Monthly's first issue (left) includes Polygal's polycarbonate sheets (below), which feature extreme flexibility and durability, and KnollTextiles' Imago resin sheets (at bottom), which are embedded with fabric. Courtesy Princeton Architectural Press This month, a new publication will join the ranks of subscription services dedicated to helping architects specify materials. Materials Monthly, published by Princeton Architectural Press, has a different take on materials than established publications like McGraw-Hill's Sweets catalog, however. Ten times per year, subscribers will receive a cardboard box filled with three to five samples of innovative products, along with leaflets describing their potential applications, technical specifications, and manufacturers. The sheets will be indexed for easy organization, and subscribers will receive a binder system for storage. Subscribers will also have access to a searchable database and an online forum for architects to post their experiences using materials they find through the service (www.materialsmonthly.com). Los Angelessbased architect Jennifer Siegel is editing the content of the first ten boxes. According to publisher Kevin Lippert, guest-edited issues are also in the works. We'd like to do some issues that are related to a specific building, where an architect, say, from Frank Gehry's office, might talk about three interesting materials used in the Disney Concert Hallltheir upsides as well as their downsides,, said Lippert. Inspired by his childhood subscription to a service that sent science kits through the mail every month, Lippert wants the new publication to be playful as well as useful. Getting cool new stuff in the mail is something architects enjoy,, said Lippert. He also sees small firms using the service to build or enrich their libraries without too much hassle. There are so many new materials coming out these days that it's hard for small practices to keep on top of what's going on,, he said. That's especially true for firms based outside of metropolitan areas like New York.. Materials Monthly already has a few hundred subscribers, according to Lippert, and he'd like to see those architects contribute to the direction of the publication. The whole thing is kind of fluid,, he said. We're looking at what the audience is interested in, and that will lead us in new directions.. DEBORAH GROSSBERG is an editor at AN. It's Not Easy Being Green Specifying sustainable materials is still harder than it should be. Deborah Grossberg looks at the problems involved, and the best ways to go about going green. 3form, a Salt Lake Cityybased materials company concerned with sustainability, developed EcoResin, a 40 percent post-grind recycled resin, which serves as a base for all its products. Its newest line of resins, Varia 05, includes layers of sustainably harvested materials from across the globe, as in Capiz (pictured at left), which features Indonesian Capiz shells. Courtesy 3form In the past decade, sustainability has become an essential part of an architect's vocabulary, and the demand for green building materials is growing in step. Materials specialists report that architects and designers are in consistent pursuit of green materials. Though some of those conversations are stymied by lack of availability or high costs, their increased demand has driven manufacturers to develop and test more and more green building products. The Alliance for Sustainable Built Environments, an organization composed of six major companies in the building products businesssPhilips Lighting, Johnson Controls, Forbo Flooring, Owens Corning, JohnsonDiversey, and Milliken Carpetssis one new collaborative that's pushing the movement further by banding together and serving as one-stop shopping for architects or clients seeking green solutions. Paul von Paumgartten, director of energy and environmental affairs at Johnson Controls, said, Everyone who makes a product in the building industry is in the process of making their products green. If they don't get it, they're going to be left behind.. Von Paumgartten's attitude is driven by bottom line as much as a commitment to the environment. As city and state governments mandate standards for energy efficiency based on systems like the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) LEED certification, manufacturers have begun to see sustainability as the future of their largest contracts. Around a quarter of all Fortune 500 companies now do an annual sustainability report,, said von Paumgartten, who has also served on the board of USGBC. What they're finding is that they consume a huge amount of energy in their buildings.. The company is also thinking green at the design level; it utilizes a software application to help architects design with EcoResin in a cost-effective and waste-conscious manner. 3form's booth at ICFF used the software to duplicate and flip its undulating surfaces, thereby cutting in half the number of molds needed. Courtesy 3form But even as talk of sustainability becomes mainstream, problems remain for architects. For one thing, the question of what's green and what's not is a matter of constant contention. Mark Piepkorn, an editor of GreenSpec, a catalogue of green building materials and products published annually by Vermont-based BuildingGreen (which also publishes Environmental Building News), said, It's difficult to figure out which products are truly green. There's no way to make a formula that you can apply the same way to every product every time.. For example, though a product's recycled-content and recycling potential are generally regarded as green attributes, they can pose a conundrum, particularly when considering a material's lifecycle. Polyvinyl chlorides, or PVCs, which are used in most vinyl building products, cause a great deal of damage during processing, use, and disposal, when they release noxious chemicals such as dioxins into the environment. Some companies have come out with recycled PVCs, but these materials still have serious environmental consequences at the fabrication or disposal stages, even though recycling does lessen the amount of PVCs in landfills. LEED decided in February not to provide credits for avoidance of PVCs, stating on its website that the available science does not support such a creditt? a decision many in the industry find irresponsible. Two new green materials available at Robin Reigi Art & Objects are Kirei Board (left), a strong, lightweight wood alternative made from compressed and woven raw sorghum stalks and bonded with formaldehyde-free adhesive; and Icestone (below), a stone substitute made of concrete and 75 percent post-consumer recycled glass, and manufactured in a day-lit facility in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Courtesy Robin Reigi Art & Objects A major problem for architects hoping to specify green building materials is the lack of a standardized, reliable system for classifying and comparing them. Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs))scientific studies of a material's impact on the environment before, during, and after processinggare expensive, difficult, and time-consuming to perform. Manufacturers pay for them, but without a dependable third-party system for disseminating information about the studies, it is often hard for architects to tell whether the manufacturers are highlighting good results in one category of performance while suppressing negative ones in otherssin effect, greenwashing their products. Some third-party rating systems do exist, but none have been singled out as the definitive source for information about green materials. Of the available systems, Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES) software, developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and available for free online at www.bfrl.nist.gov, allows architects and designers to compare the relative sustainability of 200 classes of generic materials, but not specific products. Another source, ASTM's Standard Practice for Data Collection for Sustainability Assessment of Building Products (coded E2129-03) provides manufacturers and architects with a template for conducting LCAs. A PDF of the document costs $33, and is available online at www.astm.org. The most promising new rating system proposed, a web-based tool called eLCie developed by the International Design Center for the Environment (IDCE), will be launched in June. eLCie will provide manufacturers a chance to submit information for third-party LCAs at reduced rates, and the completed quantitative assessments will be displayed in standardized forms online, allowing architects to compare ratings for specific products at a glance. eLCie will be compatible with Autodesk's Revit software, allowing architects to quantitatively compare the relative environmental gains of using different materials in a given project. Architects interested in trying the software can sign up for a free two-month trial at www.idce.org. Another encouraging development was the USGBC's release of the long-awaited rating system for existing buildings (LEED-EB) in November. The program focuses more on the lifecycle of a building and its materials than LEED for new construction does, and it is significantly cheaper to obtain. Many environmentally conscious architects have skipped the confusion and expense of green materials, choosing instead to think about green design on a macro scale. It's often cheaper to go green with design solutions like daylighting or rain water catchment than green material specification,, said Piepkorn. In any case, a more holistic solution is necessary in the long run. According to von Paumgartten The greening of materials is a trend that's only going to get bigger and broader and bolder.. DEBORAH GROSSBERG Mori, Material Maverick Architect Toshiko Mori designed the installation for the Extreme Textiles show at the Cooper-Hewitt, but her interest in new materials is long-standing. Anne Guiney recently spoke with Mori about her research into textiles and their applications in architecture. all images courtesy toshiko mori architect You have been looking into the possibilities of textiles in architecture for some time now, first with the show Immaterial/Ultramaterial (Harvard Design School, 2001), and the accompanying book (George Braziller, 2002), then with your work for the Extreme Textiles show, and now for your forthcoming book Textile Tectonic (George Braziller, 2005). Immaterial/Ultramaterial started the exploration, and looked specifically at materials and their properties. It is very expensive and time-consuming to develop new materials, and so we [Mori and Nader Tehrani, of Bostonn based Office dA] worked with students to combine two or more materials and their different properties. For example, insect netting used on doors has tensile strength. If you pleat or iron it, you give it structure. By casting it in clear rubber, it becomes solid and stable. Two weak materials can then become one strong one. The question was how to change the original properties of materialssmuch like reinforced concrete. A self-supporting fiberglass staircase Mori recently installed at a house in Florida, shown here in the shop in which it was fabricated. Textile Tectonic is the second version, and deals with issues of fabrication. Once you start talking about materials, you have to start thinking about how to use them in making things, and issues of performance. After you develop a material, and then begin to fabricate with it, you have to ask yourself Why?? The answer is ultimately in how it performs. New materials are often developed by or for the military, the medical industry, or other industries for specific applications, in which one can articulate the performance precisely. In nanotechnology, the idea that you can make new materials for specific purposes is still more theoretical. In a sense with textiles, we are already there. We can use them to protect from heat, to waterproof things, to give strength, and to produce them in any pattern. They can be multilayered and multifaceted. What are some applications for textiles in building? Boat building is an almost didactic example of the ways they have been used. The traditional methods of constructionnwooden plank cladding over a structural wooden frameegave way to plywood, which in turn gave way to composite materials like fiberglass. Now, boats are basically all made out of textiles. With composites, one can weave different materials and different strands, or change the direction of the weave of the fiber in the composites. There can be specific weaves for specific layers, to better distribute load of the wind or the force of the water. In Eric Goetz's shop [a Connecticut-based boat builder also featured in Extreme Textiles], you can see this evolution. He makes hulls for America's Cup yachts, and they have to be very stiff and very lighttlight for speed and stiff to stand up to the extreme forces of the water and the wind. There is a huge amount of money involved, but I am interested in the question of how to make this amazing machine out of textiles. Three projects developed by Mori's students at Harvard in a 2003 seminar called Weaving Materials and Habitation.. Top: This project explored the idea of floppy structures, and the minimum amount support that must be used to create a shelter. Center: To develop an unlikely and weak material into something strong, students pasted five layers of toilet paper together, and then notched and wove the resulting strands into this undulating wall. Bottom: To explore the lateral distribution of force, students sandwiched elastic between two layers of basswood, and then wove them into a wall which responds to touch. Opposite: A rendering of Mori's installation design for the Extreme Textiles show at the Cooper-Hewitt. How have you been able to apply these ideas in your own work? I recently completed a staircase for a house in Florida. The conditions there are extremeethe wind, sun, and water are all very strong. We had to come up with a material that is light and that can stand up to these forces. Stainless steel is good, but it isn't really stain-free. We designed a structural staircase made out of seven layers of composite fiberglass on the stairs themselves; the landing is made out of nine layers. Usually, fiberglass is used as infill paneling, but in this case, there are no supporting beams. Another project I am working on with Eric Goetz is to develop a series of lightweight roof prototypes out of composite materials, almost like an upside-down boat hull. Ideally, a great deal of the infrastructure would be woven into the roof. But boat hulls have much tougher performance criteria than typical buildings, and are much more expensive, so I have to keep telling Eric, It's not for [America's Cup entrant] Team Prada, okay!! We are trying to degrade, or lessen the performance criteria to see if we can incorporate this technology into standard building methods so that the price drops. How did you approach your work for the Extreme Textiles show? I was an adviser to the museum and the exhibition curator Matilda McQuaid, and I designed the installation. The show looks at materials from an architectural point of view, sorting them by their performance qualitiesslighter, stronger, et ceteraanot by their function. The installation wasn't easy, because of the historical context of the Cooper-Hewitt museum building. None of the materials are decorative per se, but their visual quality is important in attracting people and showing how exciting they aree I wanted to use that as a lure. The materials are installed in a series of steel frames, because they are all at very different scales. The frame is meant to be a virtual one in which materials are suspended, and can be seen in the round, not just in a case. The frames are focusing devices. Otherwise, it would be like the World's Fair!