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REACH for the Stars

Steven Holl expands the Kennedy Center with semi-submerged pavilions
Steven Holl Architects (SHA) has designed and completed the first-ever expansion of the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. Located southeast of the National Mall along the Potomac River, the three pavilions that make up The REACH opened this weekend to the public, marking the Washington, D.C.-based institution’s largest design upgrade in its 48-year-history. The $250-million addition spans four-acres of sweeping, waterfront landscape next to the main Edward Durell Stone-designed building that’s held all of the Kennedy Center’s programming for decades. Arranged in a series of angular, cast-in-place concrete structures that are semi-submerged underground, The REACH is strategically woven into the surrounding, sloping green space and features a contemporary vision that lightly references its parent building next door According to a press release, the new structures “break down the traditional barriers separating art and audience.” The Welcome Pavilion, Skylight Pavilion, and River Pavilion all emerge from the green lawns with shapely white facades and opaque glass windows. Together, they make up a porous and fluid, 72,000-square-foot facility that, though largely underground, includes ample access to daylight and features soaring, open interiors.  While the site doesn’t look very active from an aerial perspective, what you see above ground isn’t all that you get. Inside and below the pavilions is a large network of flexible rehearsal studios and classrooms, as well as performance and public spaces that are, by design, more welcoming to visitors—something the Kennedy Center previously lacked. AN wrote previously about the crinkled concrete walls that were integrated into the studio spaces to stop sound from echoing throughout the below-grade rooms. Performance-enhancing technology such as this was used at every level of the building project. For example, SHA worked with ARUP to make The REACH more sustainable than its predecessor; it’s now on track to achieve LEED Gold status. The site features a closed-loop, ground source heat rejection system, advanced temperature controls, an under-floor concrete trench system, and radiant floor heating made by ARUP’s in-house software suite, Oasys Building Environmental Analysis (BEANS). Much like other projects by Steven Holl, the integration of unique light cutouts on the sides or tops of the buildings and curvaceous walls made the structures difficult to heat or cool efficiently. Arup’s interventions will help the facility maintain proper temperatures year-round.  In addition to improving the Kennedy Center campus, The REACH was intended to bolster the memory of JFK. Some of the spaces within the pavilions were named after the 35th president, and a plaza with 35 gingko trees honors his life and accomplishments. Over time, the 130,000-square-foot landscape is expected to grow into a fuller, more vibrant addition to the riverfront and help activate a formerly-inaccessible area. SHA also designed a pedestrian bridge to cross the highway separating the Center from the water’s edge. 
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A No-Spoiler Zone

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood ingeniously blends existing and fabricated scenery
Los Angeles may be popularly thought of as a city with relatively little regard for the history of its built environment in favor of a ceaseless self-transformation, yet countless examples of the buildings completed during the movie industry’s Golden Era of the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, as well as a few fortunate survivors from before that era, remain intact to this day. The production team behind Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, set in 1969, made ample use of what was available while developing innovative techniques for what was not. Following the friendship of actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) as they narrowly come into contact with the sordid details of the Manson Family murders, Once Upon a Time takes its viewers through grand, unobstructed views of the city as it appeared half a century ago. A period piece with this much exposure, of course, required a detail-oriented crew to revert the city to its former glory without the extensive aid of digital set extensions. Barbara Ling, the lead production designer of Once Upon a Time, claims to have placed over 170 sets and facades in between preexisting structures to convincingly frame the film in the late 1960s. Lengthy stretches of Hollywood Boulevard, for example, were shut down for production to allow for long sweeping shots of the street as high up as a bird’s eye view. During the street closures, the elements completed off-site were brought in with cranes and quickly set into place. During several close-up shots, the posters and other period-accurate materials in the background were borrowed from Tarantino’s own collection of vintage memorabilia (including the same advertisement for Tanya suntan lotion advertisement famously displayed on the cover of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown’s book Learning from Las Vegas from 1972). But the film also takes advantage of what the city would never dare destroy. Once Upon a Time begins with Rick, Cliff and Marvin Schwarz (Al Pacino) inside Musso and Frank Grill, the “Oldest in Hollywood,” which is celebrating its centennial this year. Because its interior has been virtually unchanged since it first opened on Hollywood Boulevard, it is only in the transition from interior to the exterior that movie magic is employed, in which the production team skillfully recreated the restaurant’s original parking lot entrance based on old photographs. According to Variety, the restaurant staff even pulled out the original plateware from their storage room. The same creative mixture of reality and fabrication is most brilliantly applied near the end of the film, in which a gorgeous series of sunset shots seamlessly combines the city’s existing neon signage, such as that for the 1963 Cinerama Dome, with those that have been lost to time. But perhaps the greatest challenge met by Once Upon a Time is persuading its audience that Los Angeles is a beautiful city. “Los Angeles may be the most photographed city in the world,” Thom Anderson argued in his 2003 documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself, “but it’s one of the least photogenic. It’s not Paris or New York. In New York, everything is sharp and in-focus, as if seen through a wide-angle lens. In smoggy cities like Los Angeles, everything dissolves into the distance, and even stuff that’s close-up seems far off.” While Tarantino’s three previous movies set in the city—Reservoir Dogs (1992), Pulp Fiction (1994), and Jackie Brown (1997)—succumbed to the global stereotypes by depicting it as a gritty hellscape befitting the crime and corruption taking place under his direction, Once Upon a Time portrays Los Angeles with an unapologetic charm rivaled only by Roman Polanski’s Chinatown (1974) and Rebel Without a Cause (1955). Attention to detail and historical accuracy will likely make Once Upon a Time an essential reference for film and architecture buffs alike. As Tarantino contemplates his next and possibly last film (which will, no doubt, be another period piece), one can only hope that his focus on the built environment will somehow be even sharper.
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If It Looks Like Marble...

5G Studio Collaborative brings trapezoidal sintered stone to Dallas
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Downtown Dallas is undergoing a remarkable process of development, ranging from new office towers to prestigious cultural facilities. 5G Studio Collaborative, an architecture and design firm founded in 2005, has consistently expanded its body of work within its home city over the last decade-and-a-half. Completed in 2018, the AC Marriott Hotel Dallas is another addition to that ensemble, bringing a Catalan Modernisme-inspired sintered stone facade to the city center. The massing of the nearly 170,000-square-foot project is defined primarily by the northern elevation's slightly curved rectangular volume. Sintered stone and glass are the main facade elements for the elevation, and approximately 400 custom panels were used in total. The panels themselves are angular and protrude outward from the primary structure, giving the facade further depth while passively shading the window modules.
  • Facade Manufacturer Neolith Alucobond Trulite Vitro Cardinal Glass
  • Architect 5G Studio Collaborative
  • Facade Installer Holland Marble NOW Specialties
  • Structural Engineer DCI Engineers
  • Location Dallas, Texas
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System Neolith StrongFix system
  • Products Neolith Calacatta Alucobond FR Vitro Solarban 60 Cardinal Low-E 366 & 270
According to the design team, the initial material choice for the project was white marble—a light-colored facade is a useful tool for reflecting the sun's rays in a hot state like Texas. However, it was soon learned that the delicate composition of marble would not fare well in Dallas's emission-cloaked environment, or under the significant temperature variances of north Texas. While sintered stone proved to be a more durable material than marble for the purposes of the project, the weight and complexity of the panels brought its own challenges to the project. The project team struggled with the rain screen system and its application to the sloped soffits of the exterior. The solution was to use an internal truss system located behind each individual panel. Additionally, the edges and intersections of each panel were custom-measured onsite following the actual evaluation of site conditions. The slabs were produced by Neolith and assembled by Holland Marble, a local fabricator and installer. Utilizing Neolith's StrongFix system, the design and fabrication teams were able to maintain a continual dialogue to adjust the anchoring components and assembling services to conform to the largely unique panels. "The design journey was an enjoyable one as we were able to maintain the initial concept right from the beginning until completion," said 5G Studio collaborative associate Lauren Cadieux. "We are very happy with the end result: a seemingly 'floating' facade that transitions effortlessly across the front, west, and east sides of the exterior."      
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Smoke and Mirrors

A look at the flimsy architectural stage sets of William Leavitt
When reflecting on the recent art and architecture scene of Los Angeles, a familiar cadre of names will typically come to mind; Ed Ruscha, Frank Gehry, John Baldessari, and Thom Mayne, to name a few. But beyond the figures that have famously channeled the city’s flair for the dramatic into their creative work, there is at least one artist that has made the spotlight his artistic subject while avoiding it for himself altogether. William Leavitt, now 78, has been quietly producing art about the uniquely modern spectacle of Los Angeles and its built environment since the late 1960s. Leavitt was stunned by the scale of Los Angeles and the hold the movie industry had on the city when he arrived in 1965. Part of a generation that reacted against the plain functionality of modernism in favor of a burgeoning commercial language designed for mass appeal, Leavitt continues to produce illustrations and sculptures which pay special attention to the architecture and interior design aesthetic present in the soap operas, furniture showrooms and suburban basements of the time. Like Ruscha and Gehry, Leavitt was an out-of-towner fascinated by the hastily constructed buildings that popped up around Los Angeles during the 1950s and 60s. But that would be selling Leavitt’s inspirations short. The artist skillfully conflated the kitsch and thinly veiled constructions of mid-century America with the sparse beauty of stage set design employed in so many of Hollywood’s movie studios and independent theatres. In 1988, he wrote about the first time he visited the backlot of a movie studio: “I loved the deception of going up to one of those perfect houses and opening the door and seeing that there was nothing but canvas and 2x4s holding it up. I thought that was spectacular: all the bricks were made of composition board.” The unique balance of image and reality on display throughout the city’s built environment is Leavitt’s primary source of inspiration. While the minimal stage sets of movies and plays are designed to appear more complete to their audiences fixed in place, Leavitt invites his audience to study his sets up close and in the round. As Ann Goldstein described his work, it “tak[es] into account the theatrical potential of the ordinary” while “considering the significance of every detail - location, lighting, atmosphere, props, and sound - and, like a set designer, he assembles a scene where every element plays a role.” One of his most well-known installations, California Patio (1972) is a sculpture depicting an entire setting: a freestanding sliding glass door between blue curtains framing a truncated woodchip garden. The materials of the entire piece might well have been purchased at a local hardware store, yet they become more than the sum of their parts; the 2x4s holding up the structure are more cleanly nailed and the sandbags more delicately placed than what is typically hidden from the screen or the stage. Leavitt’s illustrations, meanwhile, are reminiscent of those used by art directors to describe a stage set to a production crew. In Electric Chair (Interior) (1983), for example, efficiently depicts a sparse basement in which function and utility might be easily be confused for one another.
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Dream Designs

Want to own a house designed by a renowned architect? Here are seven options currently on the market

While summer may be drawing to a close, daydreaming about beautiful houses has no season. For those who are particularly discriminating about architecture, and who happen to be in the market for a multi-million-dollar listing, there are plenty of options to run through. AN has rounded up seven houses designed by nationally and internationally renowned architects that are for sale right now. Do some window shopping below:

Marcel Breuer’s Gargarin House I Litchfield, CT

Between 1956 and 1957, the celebrated Bauhaus architect Marcel Breuer, whose masterpieces include New York’s Met Breuer museum (formerly the Whitney), designed a stunning home for Andrew and Jamie Gargarin in Litchfield, Connecticut. Sitting on 1.7 acres of gently sloping land, the low-slung house was constructed with steel, reinforced concrete, stone, and glass. Its styling is decidedly modern both inside and out, with materials and vistas that are sure to please any buyer with money to spare.

Perhaps the most unique feature in the Gargarin House I is the bush-hammered concrete fireplace. Its irregular form rises in the middle of the glass-walled living room, providing the home with one of its only architectural elements that is not strictly rectilinear. The fireplace and the storied house it occupies can be yours for $3.8 million.

Arthur Cogswell, Jr.’s Durham dream house Durham, NC

As the only house on this list priced under one million dollars (and still by only $50,000), Arthur Cogswell, Jr.’s midcentury modern design in Durham, North Carolina offers a comparatively affordable option for those looking to own property crafted by a notable architect. Cogswell is best known as a residential architect with modernist proclivities. Most of his projects have been completed for private clients in North Carolina.

This particular home is 3,259 square feet with four bedrooms and three full bathrooms. Because it has only had one owner since its initial construction, the house is remarkably well preserved. Images show that many of the rooms have maintained their original wood cabinetry, while the back deck is still covered by a geometric pergola. The room that has changed most significantly is the kitchen, which underwent a complete renovation to meet twenty-first-century standards of living. Built in 1966, the home sits on 2.33 acres and is listed for $950,000.

Steven Holl-designed Catskills getaway Middleburgh, NY

Nestled in a heavily wooded area in New York’s Catskills region, Steven Holl’s bright red “Y House” has hit the market for $1.6 million. The two main sections of the house (there is also a detached garage and a boathouse) branch off from one another to form the shape of the letter “Y”. They both terminate in outdoor spaces—balconies on the second floor and small patios on the ground floor. The roofline of the structure slopes upward toward this point, creating a volume that appears to open up to the mountain views.

Constructed in 1999, the house takes full advantage of its surroundings. From the interior, irregularly shaped windows frame the landscape in unexpected ways, while communal spaces benefit from larger, floor-to-ceiling glass. The 33-acre site also has a minimalist, glass-walled boathouse perched at the edge of a serene pond.

Richard Neutra’s midcentury masterpiece Weston, CT

In the quiet town of Weston, Connecticut, Betty Corwin is selling a house designed for her and her husband by Richard Neutra in 1955. Situated on a 4.3-acre lot above the Saugatuck River, the five-bedroom Corwin House is surrounded by mature trees and lush landscaping. With many of its original finishes still intact, including the yellow kitchen cabinetry and plenty of built-ins, the home is a particularly well-preserved example of midcentury modern residential architecture. Corwin, now in her 90’s, has made only a few changes to the kitchen appliances and bathrooms.

Perhaps best known for his extensive portfolio of house projects in California, Neutra built a number of modern residential structures throughout the mid-twentieth century. Listed at $2.7 million, the Corwin House is one of the architect’s two remaining homes in the state of Connecticut, presenting East Coast buyers with a rare chance to purchase a piece of his legacy.

Wine country stunner by Michael Palladino of Richard Meier Partners Santa Ynez, CA

Designed by Michael Palladino of Richard Meier Partners, this six-bedroom, eight-bathroom house sits in the Santa Ynez Valley northwest of Santa Barbara, California. Buyers of Son Sereno will have no shortage of space, inside or out. The home itself boasts 8,000 square feet of living space, while the 116-acre lot includes an olive grove and several riding trails. The scenery surrounding the contemporary structure is characteristic of this region of California—mature oak and sycamore trees dot a landscape of rolling green hills and vineyards.

Built in 2005, the building uses a combination of stucco and stone walls to support a high, curvilinear ceiling over the main living space. There is a wealth of amenities, including an attached three-car garage, two fireplaces, and panoramic views of the valley. The asking price is currently set at $7,900,000.

Paul Rudolph’s Milam Residence Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

As AN reported earlier this summer, Paul Rudolph’s beachside Milam Residence outside Jacksonville, Florida hit the market for $4,445,000. With a distinctive geometric facade that lends visual depth to the building, the Milam Residence presents potential buyers with the opportunity to own something that stands out in the coastal neighborhood, where most residential architecture prescribes to a more Mediterranean aesthetic. With 6,800 square feet of living space spread between the main building and a separate guest house, there is no shortage of space, either.

While Rudolph is better known for his institutional projects, including the Yale School of Architecture’s Paul Rudolph Hall, the Milam House is still a piece of history. Built in 1961 for the attorney Arthur Milam, the residence is being sold by the family of the original owners.

Rafael Viñoly-designed head-turner Ridgefield, CT

Rafael Viñoly’s most famous residential project may be his gleaming tower at 432 Park Avenue in New York City, but for those who prefer a more tranquil setting, a house he designed in Ridgefield, Connecticut is now on the market. Built in 1990 for Alice Lawrence, whose late husband Sylvan Lawrence was a real estate mogul in Manhattan, the house is a dramatic contemporary design composed primarily of concrete and glass. Designed for Mrs. Lawrence’s extensive art collection, the house comprises one part of a listing that includes a farmhouse next door and a total of 16 acres of land.

With three bedrooms, four bathrooms, and both indoor and outdoor pool options, the Lawrence House offers a taste of luxury to anyone who can afford its $9.8 million price tag.

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Best of Products Awards

Meet the winners of our 2019 Best of Products Awards

After hours of carefully deliberating over five hundred entries from our largest ever Best of Products Awards, we are excited to share the Winners, Honorable Mentions, and Editors’ Picks. These eighteen diverse categories cover a wide range of sectors, including building materials, acoustics, furnishings, finishes, tech products and tools, kitchens, baths, and more. Our judges evaluated submissions for originality, innovation, functionality, aesthetics, performance, and value, and selected one winner and two honorable mentions in each category. New this year, our editors also picked their favorite products in all 18 categories.

All images are courtesy of their respective manufacturers unless otherwise noted. The Best of Products Awards Jury: Lora Appleton Founder kinder MODERN & Female Design Council Constantin Boym Founder Boym Partners Gabrielle Golenda Products Editor The Architect’s Newspaper Alda Ly Principal and Founder Alda Ly Architecture & Design William Menking Editor in Chief The Architect’s Newspaper Fiona Raby Cofounder Dunne & Raby Categories:

Indoor Finishes and Surfaces

Winner ExCinere Dzek “It’s fascinating how this product brings the outside in, and then back outside again. It evokes an actual landscape in a way that’s subtle but special; a great talking point for your clients.” —Lora Appleton Honorable Mentions Matte Collection Callidus Guild iD Mixonomi Tarkett North America Editors' Picks Magna Recycled Glass Slab Walker Zanger Soft Onyx Fiandre Indoor Lighting and Electrical Winner Noctambule FLOS “The scale of this product is grand for a modular component. It’s monumental enough to look great in a large-scale palatial setting but can also be scaled down to an urban residential context.” —Lora Appleton Honorable Mentions Dorval Lambert & Fils RAY Sconce Stickbulb Editors’ Picks Plena Foscarini Haller E USM Fascio Medium Linear Chandelier with Crystal Visual Comfort & Co. Residential Interior Furnishings Winner Stille Standard Issue “The product is interesting because the manufacturer was able to produce something that is familiar but still new. It shows that shapes don’t always have to be reinvented. It represents a sort of aesthetic recycling.” —Constantin Boym Honorable Mentions Portal Armoire Henrybuilt Beanie Sofa Nea Studio Editors’ Picks 5M Chair soft limits Hull Collection O&G Studio Hillock Console Skylar Morgan Furniture   Commercial Interior Furnishings Winner Meredith Lounge Chair Poppin “If I saw a bunch of these chairs in an airport, I’d be very happy.” —Matt Shaw, The Architect’s Newspaper’s executive editor Honorable Mentions Divy Mobile 3form Racer Collection Blu Dot Editors’ Picks Swing Pair Landing Wilkhahn Acoustics Winner Trypta Luceplan “With more and more open ceilings in commercial offices, there hasn’t been a lot of innovation in how we deal with noise. This product is a good example of lighting that integrates acoustics panels.”—Alda Ly Honorable Mentions Kula Glass Unika Vaev Blade Luxxbox Editors’ Picks Open Spaces 2.0 CertainTeed Ceilings VaporSoft® Arktura Home Accessories Winner Alaire Collection Atlas Homewares Honorable Mentions Side Table Fink Furniture Vestalia LATOxLATO Editors’ Picks Smooth Operator Kit Garden Glory Soffio Foscarini Textiles Winner VEER Wolf-Gordon “There’s a subtlety to the combination of textures in this product that makes it strong. There’s something beautiful about the transition between its 2- and 3-dimensionality.”—Fiona Raby Honorable Mentions Scaramouche Dedar Tatami System Tarkett North America Editors’ Picks Gradation Shaw Contract The Bauhaus Project Designtex Baths Winner SONAR Wave Double Basin Laufen “The riveting around the edges creates a nice, soft touch.”—Gabrielle Golenda Honorable Mentions Petra Agape Elan Grid Shower Door VIGO Editors’ Picks SideKick Shower System Peerless Faucet SteamVection Steamhead ThermaSol Kitchens Winner Heritage Induction Pro Ranges Dacor “There’s a stereotype that induction cooktops aren’t powerful, but it’s nice to see this technology as an industrial-level product.”—Alda Ly Honorable Mention Space Theory Space Theory Emerald Finish True Residential Editors’ Picks Gunmetal Kitchen Amuneal Professional 7 Series Range Viking Range Touchless Kitchen Faucet Kohler Outdoor Lighting and Electrical Winner LP Xperi Louis Poulsen “This product has both uplight and downlight functions, so it goes beyond the typical scope of a streetlight and considers more ephemeral types of illumination.”—Gabrielle Golenda Honorable Mentions Pursuit Architectural Area Lighting Uma Mini Pablo Designs Editors’ Picks KFL Collection KIM Lighting CIRC Estiluz USA Outdoor Furnishings Winner F100 Flycycle “Often the problem with bike racks is that they are beautifully designed but aren’t very functional. It’s nice to see something so successful at meeting both criteria.” —Constantin Boym Honorable Mentions Paseo Planters OSSO Concrete Design Rambler Picnic Table Shift Editors’ Picks Circula Collection Blu Dot Stack mmcité1 Outdoor Finishes and Surfaces Winner Bison 30-inch-by-30-inch Ipe Wood Deck Tile Bison Innovative Products “Unlike other decking products available today, these plank squares snap into a sliding system, which makes installation easier and allows you to make different configurations.”—Gabrielle Golenda Honorable Mention Dekton Grip+ Cosentino Gradients Móz Designs Editors’ Picks Ombré Cement Tile Villa Lagoon Tile Variegated Zebra Honed “Limestone” Pure + FreeForm Openings Winner Attack Resistant Openings ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions “This product is necessary given the current state of affairs. Innovation in safety is essential, and it’s really great to see companies using ingenuity to deal with this systemic issue. It’s a Band-Aid solution to an unfortunate problem in the United States.”—Lora Appleton Honorable Mentions The Mitica Collection Boffi Group - ADL Bird1st Glass Guardian Glass Editors’ Picks Lift and Slide WinDoor Steel Entry Pivot Doors MAIDEN Steel Facades Winner InVert Self-Shading Windows TBM Designs “This product reinforces weather conditions and makes you more aware of what’s outside. Rather than everything being completely controlled by humans, natural systems control the building, which is something we need to be dealing with more and more.”—Fiona Raby Honorable Mentions Living Wall Facades Eco Brooklyn Modified Wood Cladding Kebony Editors’ Picks Concrete Skin Breeze Rieder North America Perforated Building Facade Rigidized Metals Isopure Sedak Building Materials Winner Mass Plywood Panel Freres Lumber Co. “To see that there’s advancement in the acceptance of these new, innovative, wood materials is promising.”—Alda Ly Honorable Mentions Foamglas Owens Corning DELTA-DRY & LATH Dörken Systems Editors’ Picks Louvre Railing System Amuneal LP WeatherLogic Air & Water Barrier LP Building Solutions HVAC Winner EcoBlue WeatherMaster Rooftop Units Carrier “This product is simpler, more dependable, and lower maintenance than comparable options on the market today. Too often, design is perceived as something that has to be seen, but this is an invisible product that has a strong impact regardless.”—Constantin Boym Honorable Mentions EME3625DFLMD Ruskin XP Series Industrial HVLS Ceiling Fan Hunter Industrial Editors’ Picks MLZ One-Way Ceiling Cassette Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US i6 Big Ass Fans Tech: Smart Products Winner Life Anew NEXT TOTO USA & Georgia Pacific Pro “Too often, intelligent design becomes an area for gimmicks, but in this case, there aren’t any. This product is a serious working system.”—Constantin Boym Honorable Mentions Intentek Wireless Charging Surface Formica Phyn Plus Smart Uponor North America Editors' Picks PureWarmth Kohler Storage System with Expandable Battery Pack LG Electronics Integrated Wine Column Signature Kitchen Suite Tech: Design Tools Winner ARCHICAD 23 GRAPHISOFT SE “It’s nice that this product allows architects to use Apple computers. It’s just more flexible.”—Alda Ly Honorable Mentions Layer Layer ColorReader Datacolor Editors' Picks OpenCA and ProIO IngeniousIO Origami XR Origami XR
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The iconic Round Bank in Bellmead, Texas, will be demolished

Among the Czech Stop kolaches, Robertson’s roast beef stands, and Buc-ee’s along Interstate 35 through Central Texas, the American Bank in Bellmead represents the most recognizable of icons. The characteristic round shape, with its namesake perched above like an Ed Ruscha painting, is the boldest of statements among a sea of pole signs and fast food joints. The Waco Tribune-Herald has reported that the iconic bank would be demolished in 2020, after recent attempts to determine a remodel for the structure was deemed “not economically feasible to get it up to serviceable condition for banking,” stated CEO Dana Hassell in the report. The renderings rekeased show a smaller replacement that evokes the round shape, framed by vertical wing walls clad in aluminum. Upon hearing of the impending demolition, preservation groups across the state have responded swiftly to save what Evan Thompson of the nonprofit Preservation Texas calls “a landmark.” Designed by then Dallas-based architect Durwood Pickle, the American Bank was conceived as a landmark from the outset, intended to create a lasting visual statement. In a 1978 interview for ENR, Pickle explained that the owners “wanted the image of at least a five-story building but they did not need that much space.” The 71-foot diameter, two-story structure was instead built atop a raised landscape plinth. A lightweight fiber-reinforced concrete (FRC) shell, one of the few early examples in the State of Texas, attaches at the second level and rises upward to become a five-foot high parapet. The entire composition places the building above the interchange level to frame the bank clearly within view. An invitation to conduct drive-up banking radiates outward from the round shell, setting up a very clear and bold statement at ground level and from above. It is a statement that the current replacement proposal fails to attain. Pickle’s intent clearly foreshadowed the bank’s impending concerns, however, its intentions were toward something greater, an experience rarely seen and that is quickly disappearing from our roadside theater. “People love this building because it's different,” explained Thompson. “It was designed with the intention of being a roadside landmark—and for forty years, it has been. The Round Bank is obviously one of the architectural highlights along the otherwise monotonous and repetitive stretches of interstate between Dallas/Fort Worth and Austin. Because the Round Bank provides a visual anchor for all those who sail along (sometimes fast, sometimes slow) I-35, its loss would be disorienting and damaging and a total waste.” The state-run Texas Historical Commission is also looking into the structure’s potential for historical tax credits. The loss of the American Bank would be an unfortunate one, visually of course, but also as an essential identifier for Bellmead and the Waco region. In capturing these images for the article, Dallas-based architectural photographer Parrish Ruiz de Velasco, shared his thoughts on the bank that is located near his family home. “It is one of those landmarks that you can’t miss and I think it is important to the community,” explained Velasco. “Upon sharing images I received several messages from friends and people I’ve never met, all saying the same thing—Gotta love the Circle Bank!” All photographs used in this article were taken by Parrish Ruiz de Velasco. His work can be found at parrch.com
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Ride On!

America's largest BMX park opens in Houston, courtesy OJB Landscape Architecture
OJB Landscape Architecture’s (OJB) ambitious vision for America’s largest BMX venue opened earlier this month in Houston. Located near the Bush Intercontinental Airport on the site of a former wastewater treatment plant, the Rock Star Energy Bike Park features a massive bike track and public recreation space, spanning a total of 23 acres just north of the city.  “This one-of-a-kind park is a keystone to a redeveloping neighborhood in Houston,” said Chip Trageser, managing principal and project design director at OJB in a statement. “The design balances different types of experiences, from the novice to expert rider, to the visitor, or sport spectator.”  The design gives equal weight to the various types of competitive bike racing. OJB integrated a Supercross Track, a 27,000-square-foot Pump Track, and a 13,000-square-foot Dirt Jump Track across the park. There's also an 18,000-square-foot urban riding plaza that's outfitted with trick fixtures, as well as 25,000-square-feet of concrete bike bowls, and a tot-track for super young riders. A central promenade runs along the spine of the park so visitors can get from one distinct zone to the other while a bike trail encircles the entire site.  In time, the extreme sports destination will be shaded by 400 towering trees that OJB planted through several years of construction. The other 400 trees on-site were preserved from the original plot—a necessary design move to mitigate the Texas heat, according to Trageser. "We wanted to put the forest back and make the different tracks feel like they were part of a series of rooms throughout one big natural space," he said.  Built out by the Greater Greenspoint Redevelopment Authority (now known as the Northeastern Development Corporation), the $25 million, large-scale activities park also includes four structures. At one end, local firm Brett Zamore Design created a 2,500-square-foot welcome center, as well as the larger BMX Center, which houses restrooms, a classroom, concessions area, and office space. The latter structure serves as the base of the starting ramps on the main track. Next door, an events space and observation deck looks out over the third turn on the course. On the opposite end of the park, EndreStudio designed a small pavilion that feeds visitors into the large event lawn in the center of the site, as well as the 223-foot-long wooden bridge that leads bikers and visitors over the bowls. According to Trageser, one of the most surprising ways bikers use the bridge is by incorporating its thick concrete columns into their trick elements. "I feel like this is what the park's going to be known for," he said. "The most memorable moment for me when the bike opened was when I saw these BMX professionals do these crazy tricks off the edges."  Rock Star Energy Bike Park is seamlessly attached to the North Houston Skate Park, a 13-acre urban landscape also designed by OJB. It’s dually the largest of its kind in the U.S. and hosts major skate competitions all year long. OJB's construction manager Scott Blons told AN that when the park was completed in 2015, there was an outcry from the local BMX community, which was banned from using the skating facility. "Those two courses, of course, don't mix with one another," said Blons. "So that triggered the start of our work on the BMX park." The entire site sits in a major flood zone next to the North Fork of the Greens Bayou, so OJB integrated a series of sustainable design elements to combat a potential deluge. Permeable pavement was used across all 3.5 acres of the two parking lots on-site, while stormwater detention capabilities were also integrated into the event lawn, rain gardens, and bike bowls, among other places. "There's a substantial amount of hardscaping in the park that can handle water overflow," said Blons. "Flooding is a big deal nowadays so it was important for us to think about this from the beginning." According to OJB, Rock Star Energy Park has already gotten major buzz. It's set to hold major BMX competitions starting next month with the Texas state championship and then U.S. Nationals in October and in April of next year. In May, it will present the 2020 UCI BMX World Championships, which is the last qualifier for the 2020 Olympics Games in Tokyo.  But it's not just the international community that will profoundly benefit from the new park. Local schools are set to visit, and STEM programs are being created to teach kids how to design and build BMX tracks, said Blons. "Even my kid is now a BMX rider. The CEO of USA BMX once told me that people are now tearing down baseball fields left and right to build these parks, which speaks to their popularity." Though the park is free to use and inclusive to everyone no matter age or ability, perhaps the most important aspect of the park's existence is its location. Situated in the lower-income neighborhood of Greater Greenspoint, the park is an investment in the future economic development of its underserved population, according to Trageser. The city is prone to flooding and lacks substantial infrastructure. "The project has the potential to score growth in this area and truly give back to the community," he said. "We worked really hard to get to know the people who'd use this park and tried to translate their passion into a physical form that would be exciting for all."
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Divine Design

Harlem church wants to rezone above Central Park for tower and cultural center
Harlem’s La Hermosa Christian Church is proposing a major building move to save its congregation. Earlier this summer, it submitted an application to the New York City Planning Commission asking to rezone part of Central Park North to make way for a 410-foot-tall residential tower and community center run by the church. This week it unveiled further plans to integrate a fin-covered music school and cultural center into the structure, all designed by FXCollaborative Located at 5 West 110th Street, the existing three-story building that houses the La Hermosa Christian community is in poor condition and the congregation, which has been in the area since 1960, hopes that building vertically on the church-owned land will allow the institution to secure its future permanence in the neighborhood. As the oldest Latino church on the East Coast, many residents see it as a mainstay resource in Central Harlem. FXCollaborative has designed a striated, 160-unit tower rising 33 stories above the corner of Central Park North that would be built on the church's current site. It would include 50 units of affordable housing and 38,000 square feet of mixed-use space. According to 6sqft, La Hermosa aims to use the money it earns from the building’s tenants to fund its new sanctuary space, a music school, and an art school. The Manhattan School of Music has already offered to partner with the church and host free classes for local children at the site.  The low-lying community center, as envisioned by FXCollaborative, features a curved facade (similar in concept to the studio's Circa Central Park) made of crystal-like glass and a narrow, horizontal cutout spanning from one corner of the building to the opposite edge. If built, it would stand in stark contrast to La Hermosa’s current church building, a red- and creme-colored cement block structure that's slated to be demolished. Though the designs have already been released, no developer has signed on for the project yet and the City Planning Commission says it won’t vote yes on a rezoning decision until that happens. Until then, the La Hermosa community must keep waiting, but the future looks fairly bright given its ample support in the neighborhood and the fact that the church is already neighbored by other high-rise buildings. Not only that, but since Central Park South and a few streets below have been building higher and higher for the past few years, the proposed project may face less criticism than similar projects, given that it's much smaller than any of the supertall skyscrapers ringing Central Park's borders.
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It makes an impression

Post-Office Architectes stamps Tribeca with corrugated cardboard concrete formwork
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Tribeca is consistently ranked as one of the most expensive neighborhoods in New York City, so it perhaps comes as no surprise that non-landmarked lots throughout the area are being snatched up and redeveloped for commercial or residential purposes. 30 Warren Street, which is currently wrapping up construction, is located on a northeastern corner of Church and Warren Streets. Designed by the Paris-based practice Post-Office Architectes, which was founded by The Ateliers Jean Nouvel alumni David Fagart, Line Fontana, and Francois Leininger, the new luxury condominium joins the scene with an ultra-high-performance concrete (UHPC) facade formed with corrugated cardboard. The approximately 50,000-square-foot project is located just outside of the official boundaries of the four historic districts within Tribeca. As a commercial center for the city in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the architectural makeup of the neighborhood is defined by Renaissance Revival masonry and cast-iron offices and warehouses, differing in scale according to their proximity to either the avenue or side street. For the architects, it was integral that the design of the new residential development stands on its own as a contemporary project while still paying reverence to the context with a mineral-based cladding. In terms of massing, the 12-story project rises on the entire footprint of the corner lot and sets back at the fifth floor in unison with the cornice line of the adjacent historic structures. The north elevation will eventually rise to two stories and will serve as a retail space.
  • Facade Manufacturer TAKTL Schuco Rainscreen Solutions
  • Architect Post-Office Architectes
  • Facade Installer GGL Enterprises
  • Facade Consultant Front, Inc
  • Location New York
  • Date of Completion Fall 2019
  • System Custom TAKTL system
  • Products TAKTL RAL 8019 Schuco window system
"Thanks to its very fine grain, UHPC typically allows all kinds of textures," said Post-Office Architects Co-Founder Francois Leininger. "Rather than creating a complicated texture using readily available digital processes and having to deal with the constrains (repetition, uniformity...), we wanted to create something crafty, something that would look a bit handmade, something with a unique feel. This was our way to pay tribute to the magnificent cast-iron architecture across the street and all around Tribeca." In total, there are approximately 921 UHPC panels across the facade, all of which are 3/4-inch thick and vary in size; the largest is about 11-by-3.5 feet. The system is not complex, as the panels are secured to a stud system that rests on the floor slabs. Where the assembly does stand out is in the use of a matrix of 1.5-inch-wide black aluminum channels placed behind the joint of each panel—a challenge when many of the panel dimensions are in fact unique. The aluminum channels serve two functions; the depth of the concrete panels is visually extenuated, and they obscure the insulation located behind the rain screen. Detailing for the precast concrete panels is fairly subtle and clever. The team suggested industrial-grade one-sided corrugated cardboard, pressed against the concrete slabs at a 45-degree angle. The 70 molds produced are imperfect; cardboard has a habit of micro-tearing and causing other impacts associated with the fabrication process. "The result, as one can observe on site today, is an ever-changing texture, reacting to the slightest inflections of light," continued Leininger. "The presence of the ribs helps to make the concrete panel look homogeneous, while the change of direction of the ribs, at each setback, modifies the perceived color of the panels." The project is slated to wrap up in the fall of 2019.
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Chicago Common Brick

Brooks + Scarpa parts the veil with an undulating brick screen wall
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Evanston, Illinois is located over a dozen miles from the city center of Chicago, on the northern fringe of Cook County, and is bounded by Lake Michigan to the east. The city is fairly typical for the region: there is a postwar central business district surrounded by tracts of suburban housing, some clad with wood drop-siding and others with exposed brick. Completed in 2018, the Lipton Thayer Brick House by Los Angeles-and-Florida-based architectural practice Brooks + Scarpa and Chicago's Studio Dwell burst onto the scene with a twisting-brick screen backed by a Miesian glass curtain wall. The 2,500-square-foot family residence and conforms to the city-mandated suburban lot lines, with the entire outer shell composed of Chicago Common Brick. The side elevations rise sheer with limited fenestration to the east and west, while the 21-foot-tall brick skin on the north elevation breaks to partially reveal the entrance courtyard.
  • Facade Manufacturer Chicago Common Brick Vitro Accurate Metal Chicago LM Scolfield
  • Architect Brooks + Scarpa Studio Dwell
  • Facade Installer Studio Dwell
  • Structural Engineer Louis Shell Structures
  • Location Evanston, IL
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System Custom steel screen Type V wood frame over Type I reinforced concrete
  • Products Chicago Common Brick Vitro Solarban 80 LM Scolfeild Lithochrome
As Chicago Common brick has not been produced for nearly four decades, the material was salvaged from past and ongoing demolitions of historic structures. It is an irregular and coarse material formerly harvested from local clay beds that were formed from the diverse deposits of retreating glaciers from the last ice age. The resulting finish—the clay is baked at a temperature of 1500-degrees Fahrenheit over the course of a few days— is inconsistent in color from brick to brick which provides a softly gradated facade. While visually complex, the design team utilized a straightforward methodology to achieve the rotating pattern. "Using ruled surface geometry, the undulating facade is formed by connecting two curves with a series of straight lines to form the surface of the facade," said Brooks + Scarpa. "This technique allowed the design team to work with complex curved forms and rationalize them into simple, cost-effective standardized components, making them easy to fabricate and efficient to install." A thin layer of mortar is located between each successive brick of the vertical columns. However, the task of keeping the masonry screen in place falls to a steel system produced by Accurate Metal Chicago. A steel rebar pipe, running from base to cornice, passes through each individual brick. Additionally, interstitially-placed steel plates are integrated with the vertical bands of rebar and brick every few courses, supplementing the screen with horizontal bracing. Past the screen wall, the courtyard is lined with rectangular, high-visibility glass curtain wall modules framed with aluminum. Sunlight from the northern exposure is filtered through the screen wall, softening the daylight that reaches the interior spaces. The rear elevation, which faces a service alley, is composed of recycled Portland cement panels stained with LITHOCHROME to achieve a light-grey finish.  
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He Came in Like A Wrecking Ball

Trump's Grand Hyatt New York will be demolished, replaced with offices
The Grand Hyatt Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, once owned and reclad by President Trump, is headed for the wrecking ball. A new joint development by TF Cornerstone, RXR Realty, and MDS Capital has been announced in its place and will feature 2 million square feet of office and retail space, as well as a brand new identity for the Grand Hyatt. Located at 109 East 42nd Street, just southeast of Grand Central Station, the 26-floor structure wasn’t always a Trump hotel. In fact, it’s 100 years old. Built in 1919 by the Bowman-Biltmore Hotels group, the Commodore Hotel was originally a brick-clad building with over 2,000 rooms and a world-renowned lobby. In the late ’70s, the Trump Organization purchased and remodeled the entire structure for $100 million, redoing the facade with its now-signature all-reflective-glass curtain wall. It then reopened in 1980 as the Grand Hyatt New York. AN’s editor in chief Bill Menking wrote that the story behind the hotel revamp and the addition of the sign-slash-restaurant that hovers above the sidewalk on 42nd Street is a prime illustrative tale of negative development in New York.  Construction on the new building is expected to cost $3 billion. It will include 500 rooms for the luxury Grand Hyatt New York and state-of-the-art office space. Major transit upgrades could also come with the development, enhancing the pedestrian experience near Grand Central and offering better circulation and connectivity to the currently congested subway beneath it. A new entrance has also been discussed.  No architect has been chosen for the design project yet, though the development team aims to announce one soon. When complete, the new structure will join a handful of other commercial office towers in the area that have popped up since the 2017 rezoning in Midtown East. Progress on One Vanderbilt by Kohn Pedersen Fox, Tower Fifth by Gensler and Adamson Associate Architects, and JP Morgan Chase’s 270 Park Avenue by Foster + Partners is already underway.