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Lakefront Landscape

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates reveals vision for new Buffalo waterfront park
Michael Van Valkenburgh (MVVA)’s vision for Buffalo’s expansive new waterfront park has finally been unveiled. Stretching 92 acres along the shore of Lake Erie, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park will be a verdant hub of cultural and recreational activity that connects downtown Buffalo to the city’s Lakeview neighborhood. Designed in collaboration with the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, the organization that donated $50 million towards the project, the park is a major beautification effort for the City of Buffalo. The foundation worked alongside MVVA, the city government, as well as the University at Buffalo Regional Institute over the last two years to engage different communities surrounding the existing 77-acre LaSalle Park—the landscape that the new project will overtake—to create a new and dynamic playspace for the lakeside city. MVVA’s initial aerial renderings reveal multiple shifts in the topography throughout the site, which, as it exists today, is fairly flat to accommodate straight views as well as room for sports. In a former interview, Van Valkenburgh told AN that this flatness would generally remain in the firm’s design proposal because “there’s a kind of wonderful, almost magical concept of playing at the edge of a lake,” he said. “At the same time, we’ll likely want to add some topography to the landscape to allow people to get to a higher level over the water to see Buffalo’s famous sunsets.” In keeping with the original functions of LaSalle Park, the upgraded landscape will include many baseball and soccer fields, as well as pools, playgrounds, and promenades with those uninhibited views of Lake Erie. Large-scale lawns, reminiscent of those found in Brooklyn Bridge Park, will also be integrated into the design so that families can picnic, play frisbee, or go sledding during Buffalo’s snowy winter. In addition, the design team has proposed what appears to be a peninsula built of terraced rocks where Buffalo residents can connect directly with the water—something the old park was lacking according to Van Valkenburgh. While this first set of visuals showcases the size and scope of the park project, it doesn’t yet include details on where or how these topographic changes will occur. However, a key component of the plan is that the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park will enhance the landscape directly surrounding the city’s historic pumping station (to the northwest of the park), as well as extend a branch of parkland across Interstate I-90, connecting into Lakeview. Van Valkenburgh said he plans to create some sort of noise buffer around the roadway to keep a peaceful tone within the landscape. Right now, a large-scale model of the landscape design is touring the city and locals can view the vision up close. On Thursday, it’s heading to the LaSalle Park Pool Building.
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Don't Slip

The World Trade Center Oculus is still leaking
Three years after the opening of the $3.9 billion, Santiago Calatrava–designed World Trade Center Transportation Hub, the complex’s crown jewel, the Oculus, is still leaking. According to the Wall Street Journal, the rubber seals around the Oculus’s 355-foot-long skylight, which is designed to open and close every year in remembrance of September 11, tore after the 2018 opening. In response, the Port Authority has used $30,000 worth of the infomercial-infamous Flex Tape to stem the leaks. Rather than the $32 million skylight splitting down the middle into two hemispheres, each of the skylight’s 40 panels uses its own motor and moves individually, in sync, to open. Or, that’s how it’s supposed to work; Port Authority spokesman Ben Branham told the WSJ that the software controlling each panel failed during an August 2018 test run and repeatedly rebooted. The same thing happened on September 11 of that year, and workers were forced to repeatedly start and stop the program to get the skylight to open and close. Port Authority officials first noticed the leak in November of last year, and reportedly patched the broken seals with Flex Tape soon after. However, the skylight began leaking again May 5. The Port Authority was unable to provide a cost estimate for the skylight’s repair but noted that it would replace the seals over the summer. This is far from the first time the partially-underground shopping center has battled with water intrusion. In 2017, rain and construction runoff from the adjacent 3 World Trade made its way into the complex, and in early 2018, buckets were placed below the skylight to catch errant leaks.
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envelop(e)

New high-tech cladding panels last longer and are easier to install

New manufacturing methods have made cladding and paneling more structurally sound and less cumbersome to install. These systems are highly customizable and are made to last from season to season.

Apollo II CertainTeed

These all-black shingles generate energy without the bulky infrastructure that typically accompanies solar panels. Simply installed directly on the roof, the environmentally conscious system can be employed on new and existing structures.

Marmi Maximum Imperial White Fiandre

Fiandre’s engineered tiles emulate the bold veining that occurs in marble. Unlike the natural stone, these porcelain slabs are lightweight and resistant to stains and wear and tear.

GRP SIDING Technowood

Made from fiberglass-reinforced polyester, this panel system is designed to withstand the weight of the most taxing structural applications. To fulfill the most decorative requirements, the siding is available in six natural wooden tones and seven varnished colors.

StoVentec Glass Sto Corp.

These glass-faced composite panels create a decorative reflective surface that provides thermal insulation. Made to order, each panel is offered in a variety of sizes, shapes, and custom colors.

Vintago Swisspearl

These fiber cement panels highlight the sanding production process with surfaces characterized by an undulating coarse grit. It will be available to specify in June upon its release in the U.S.

Porcelain Open-Joint Cladding Solutions Porcelanosa Facades Porcelanosa’s facade system incorporates all the colors and textures from its interior porcelain surfaces (including wood, concrete, stone, technic, or metals) for the building envelope. The system prevents moisture build-up and heat transfer via a ventilated air cavity directly behind the panels.
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Dolla Dolla Billings

Architecture Billings Index dips for the first time in two years
The AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI), the institute’s indicator of nonresidential construction activity, has contracted for the first time in 25 months. The ABI tracks architecture billings across the country, and as such, is indicative of what construction industry will be 9-to-12 months later. The March 2019 ABI, a measure of the national monthly billings rate, fell to 47.8 from 50.3 in February. The ABI measures month-over-month statistics, so a score below 50 means a decrease from the prior month, while a score over 50 reflects an increase. “Though billings haven’t contracted in a while, it is important to note that it does follow on the heels of a particularly tough late winter period for much of the country,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker in a press release. “Many indicators of future work at firms still remain positive, although the pace of growth of design contracts has slowed in recent months.” The regional statistics for March, which are calculated on a three-month basis instead of monthly, break down the figure further. According to the AIA, regional averages were as follows: the South 54.2, Midwest 48.7, West 47.2, and Northeast 43.5. By sector, which is also calculated on a three-month average, mixed practice was reported at 53.1, commercial/industrial at 47.0, institutional at 48.9, and multi-family residential at 47.7. The Project Inquiries Index for March, which is calculated monthly, was 59.8, while the Design Contracts Index, also reported monthly, held in positive territory at 50.8.
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LACMA Lowdown

LACMA Lovers League starts petition to pause Zumthor’s new building
A new petition on Change.org is calling for the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to reconsider its unanimous vote to certify the final environmental impact report (FEIR) to raze and build over much of the historic Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) complex. Started by a group called the LACMA Lovers League, the appeal urges those against the county’s decision to sign in support of halting the FEIR and encourage leadership to engage in a more open discussion with the community. Since the release of the report in March, the Peter Zumthordesigned plan for the site has garnered even more widespread criticism because, in order to achieve it, the existing 54-year-old complex by modernist architect William L. Pereira, would need to be demolished. It would also effectively diminish the space reserved for the museum’s permanent collection and take away room for libraries and conservation facilities. Overall, the $650 million proposal, which was updated with new renderings in late April, is “not a suitable replacement,” AN’s West Coast editor wrote in an earlier review. Originally, Zumthor’s vision referenced a splash of oil—it was an amorphous black canopy that spanned Wilshire Boulevard. Now, it’s lighter, more airy, and shorter in height. Still, critics have been skeptical—as AN's editor put it, it’s “just plain bad.” Despite a massive outcry from both the public and leaders in the fields of art and architecture, the decision to approve the environmental report was made on April 9 in a 5-0 vote. In moving forward with the redevelopment project, supervisors also granted $117.5 million in public funding. According to the petition, this outright approval was inconsiderate both to the historic integrity of L.A.’s cultural heritage, but also to the many voices that expressed serious and immediate concern: “In doing so,” reads the petitions, “[the L.A. County Board of Supervisors] ignored recent criticism published by the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, Curbed LA,  Architectural Record, The Art Newspaper and The Architect’s Newspaper, and hundreds of public comments running 83% against the project.” At the time of publication, the petition had gathered 11 signatures.
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Not Throwing Away His Shot

AN interviews Hamilton set designer David Korins about the show’s exhibition
It has already been a busy year for creative director and set designer David Korins. Hamilton: The Exhibition, which Korins served as creative director of, opened on April 27, bringing an immersive 18-room exhibition to Chicago’s Northerly Island; that same week, the stage adaptation of Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice, with sets designed by Korins, opened in New York on Broadway. Hamilton: The Exhibition dives much deeper into the life and history of Alexander Hamilton, the person, than the stage show (which Korins also designed the set for) and expands on topics that were overlooked in the musical, such as slavery and Hamilton’s legacy after his death. To help guide fans through the exhibition, an audio guide narrated by original cast members Lin-Manuel Miranda (Alexander Hamilton), Phillipa Soo (Elizabeth Schuyler), and Christopher Jackson (George Washington). The show, which is currently staged in a 35,000-square-foot black “hangar,” was designed to be mobile and will eventually pack up and leave for other cities after an undetermined run time in Chicago. The $13.5 million exhibition actually cost $1 million more to open than the musical it’s based on, but much of that owes to the show’s high level of technological integration and attention to detail. Guests can take an interactive tour through famous scenes from Hamilton’s life, engage with games, and even watch a 3D version of the musical’s opening as it was performed in Washington, D.C., with Miranda at the helm. Tickets for Hamilton: The Exhibition are $39.50 for adults and $25 for children. Korins also served as the creative director of Treasures from Chatsworth, a show at the renovated Sotheby’s New York headquarters that will run from June 28 through September 18. Art from the Chatsworth House in England, owned by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, will be juxtaposed against supersized versions of minute details from the home that could easily be overlooked. AN recently caught up with Korins and asked him to break down how he was able to realize his two most recent projects. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. How did you go about translating a show that works around one set into an exhibit with 18 full exhibition rooms with branching paths and interactive multimedia? David Korins: Well, it was harrowing. Although, the Hamilton exhibition is decidedly not Hamilton, the show. We had way more content to deal with. In a way, using Hamilton, the man, as our through-line and as our lens into early America was helpful because it helps crystallize the story that we're telling. There's enough information about the founding of early America that we could have made an exhibition just on George Washington, or Thomas Jefferson, or James Madison, or anyone. In a way, the stage show, which obviously spans about thirty years across countless locations was one thing. But we had to use a whole bunch of artistic compression in order to make that show a dramatic piece of theater. What we wanted to do with the exhibition museum was to really able to go in to deeper and wider into the entire story of America and really kind of right the wrongs of the dramatic lives that we tried to mimic in the show. It's easy conceptually to say, "let's expand this thing into 18 or 20 galleries" because there's just so much more information. It was nearly an impossible task artistically to try and actually execute it because a stage show has no ceiling on it, there's no fourth wall, there's no wall between the audience and the performers. In this exhibition, every one of these things is a complete room. I know it's more about Hamilton the man, but it does seem like some of the rooms, this writing desk room for instance, tie into songs from the show. How did you balance how much of the musical should be in the exhibition versus how much should focus on history and Hamilton's life? DK: First of all, we're not trying to distance ourselves from the show. We, in fact, have a completely remastered, re-orchestrated, rerecorded score in every one of the galleries. I think if you look at the New York City gallery, it is very reminiscent of the architecture that I designed the stage show with. I would say that much of the spaces employ the use of very abstract, theatrical design, visual vocabulary. Part of that is because I'm the one designing it, creating it. A part of that is because you can't realistically recreate all these historical locations. Nor do I think that that would be necessarily interesting. I think one of the things that we told ourselves in the very beginning of this process was to try and do what only we can do. And then there are moments that are wildly abstract where there are swirling pieces of parchment paper floating up into a work cloud over your head. So we tried all that we could do, and I thought for two years about what I want each one of these rooms to feel like and what story we are trying to tell.
Changing gears to Beetlejuice—that's a movie where the scenery is constantly shifting around. Looking at the photos from the set, it seems like you had to reinvent the same stage multiple times during the show. How did you translate Tim Burton's aesthetic for the stage without reusing it wholesale? It doesn't exactly match the house in the movie, but I see there are references to his other work sort of scattered around.
DK: As far as technical difficulty, I will agree with what you said, and I will tell you that the show is by far the most technically challenging thing I have ever done, and it's by far the most technically challenging show I've ever seen. If the Hamilton exhibition was the biggest and most ambitious project I have ever worked on, which it certainly was by a lot, Beetlejuice was the most complicated one. That show, every single piece of scenery has a light in it, a special effect, a magic trick, a puppet pole, a speaker. Some crazy thing going on inside of it. How do we incorporate the world of Tim Burton? I think that Tim Burton is one of the great visual artists of our time. I think when you are asked to do a Tim Burton project you have to honor it and acknowledge it and try to keep up. Beetlejuice the musical is very different than Beetlejuice the movie. The thing about it is we have a whole bunch of different physical parameters, so we have to take those into consideration as opposed to making a movie. First of all, the play runs eight times a week and we can't cut away, we can't dissolve, we can't have a puppeteer just out of frame or anything like that. We have to make this thing work seamlessly for a bunch of live people in a room. Beyond that, I thought that it would be interesting to honor Tim Burton's kind of overall visual aesthetic, not just the Beetlejuice one. You have Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline—we have tons of references. So we’re storytelling in a very different way. You can't have an actor be in a different costume every single scene. We're telling the story at a much broader, more muscular gesture. How did you design a set that would be so easy to shift in such shorter amounts of time? DK: I guess the short answer is: we're geniuses. Just kidding! I think it was very important that the Maitland's home felt different aesthetically than the Deetz's home. And that the Deetz's home felt different than the Beetlejuice home. So we had to ask ourselves, what could we possibly change in six minutes of stage time, or ten minutes of stage time? And how do we do that? We came up with a really ingenious wall system that we would be able to sub out. The changing of the furniture and the mantles and the window frames and the light fixtures is exactly as you would imagine it. A lot of manpower is back there doing these, like schlepping stuff on and off in a perfectly choreographed ballet move backstage. The wall systems are similar. There are prefabricated sections of wall that click in on top of or below other sections. And they literally have to go in and every single section of wall gets changed out. I see a lot of detail went into even just the small touches in the wallpaper, sculptures, sconces, and all of that. DK: Every single piece of scenery, every single wallpaper, every single piece of furniture, every single graphic was hand-drawn. And I don't mean “hand-drawn” like drafted. I mean, literally hand-drawn, even what we drafted with architectural drawings so that they could build them and engineer them. We then went in and we hand-drew all the wallpaper. We hand-drew all the etching and the lines on all the molding so that everything single thing had a really homemade kind of quality to it.
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Our Destiny, Our Democracy

Shirley Chisholm monument designers discuss using space to honor a legacy
A green and golden lace-like structure will soon stand 40-feet tall at the southeastern edge of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. From one angle it will unveil the profile of a woman and from another, the outline of the U.S. Capitol dome. That’s the winning design for the monument dedicated to trailblazing Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. Created by artists Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous—both trained as architects—Our Destiny, Our Democracy was chosen among the top five proposals submitted through She Built NYC, the city’s new initiative to make more monuments dedicated to women throughout the five boroughs. The pair’s bold vision to honor Chisholm will be the first public project to be built through the program and is set to rise on the corner of Ocean Avenue and Parkside Avenues by late 2020. AN spoke with Jeyifous, a Brooklyn resident himself, and Williams via email about how they came up with the striking memorial design and why it best embodies Chisholm’s spirit. AN: How did you conceive of intertwining the image of the Capitol with Chisholm's profile? OJ + AM: It’s best described in our proposal: The U.S. Capitol dome figures prominently as a backdrop in many of her photographs. The strategy for our primary sculptural profile reverses this relationship so that her figure engulfs or embodies the dome iconography, thus claiming ownership. This composite symbolizes how she disrupted the perception of who has the right to occupy such institutions and to be an embodiment for democracy…When approached from the park, a symbolic opening breaks through the capitol silhouette, creating a threshold that reinforces Chisholm’s fight to ensure that everyone could access their right to participate in the political process. Not a basic bust or figure statue, why do you think this design best represents Shirley Chisholm and her legacy of "leaving the door open" for others? We are not sculptors (in the most traditional sense of the word) so we knew that we would not be proposing a cast bronze representation of a figure. We are, however, trained in how to use space as a medium. We both bring that into our artistic practices in different but complementary ways. That proclivity toward space as an occupiable object inherently begs to be participatory and invites engagement. That seemed like a perfect analogy to Chisholm’s philosophy on democracy. Making a sculpture commemorating this incredible political figure in our current climate is about remembering the long arc of democracy. Her words ring true because she was ahead of her time, but also because her philosophy was embedded in core values of inclusion and meeting people where they were in order to bring them into the process. We feel strongly that we have made a thoughtful and decisive piece that pushes the boundaries of what it means to embody the ideals of a person and not just their visage. What are the connections or differences between the monument's design and the traditional ironwork you might see in a gateway to a park? The design is ultimately a threshold into what is a major urban park and that is reflected in the vine and leaf motif that weaves through the monuments tertiary sculptural profile. This was an intentional nod to the traditional garden gate typology. Now that we’ve been awarded the commission, we will begin the process of actually researching specifics and refining the design. We want to do a deeper review of the historic language of gates and thresholds associated with public parks, that material language for Prospect Park’s history, and then what we would want to add as new motifs. In what ways do you foresee the sun playing a role in the way the monument is experienced? We envision at certain vantage points the patinated and bronzed steel to be a glowing beacon and for the detailed filigree in the screens and perimeter fence to cast marvelous shadows on to the plaza surface. That the installation can be occupied contributes to the various ways in which light will transform the experience of visitors to the site. Shadows will also give it dynamism and whimsy as the sun angle changes by day and year. Its intensity is also something we hope to carry into night hours through the considered placement of lighting.
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Big Apple Designs

Check out our picks for the best of New York Design Week
New York Design Week has roared back into New York City for a seventh year, and in 2019 there will be over 400 activities across all five boroughs. They range in scale from talks to full-on museum installations, and narrowing down what to see can be daunting. 1. Nature – The Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial The Cooper Hewitt’s sixth Design Triennial will look at ways to radically redress the climate crisis, thanks to help from their co-organizer, the Cube design museum in Kerkrade, Netherlands. Nature is organized in seven categories for understanding how designers can work with, and around, the natural world to benefit both the environment and humanity. Check out the full list of our favorite “can’t miss” events on aninteriormag.com.
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Mesh Well Together

Voukenas Petrides creates line of metal mesh and curvaceous furniture
New York and Athens–based architects and furniture designers Andreas Voukenas and Steven Petrides have produced a line of furniture that channels their architectural research into shape, form, and structure. In their most recent line, shown at The Gilded Owl in Hudson, New York, they, “explore tear and organic shapes that are inherent to the metal lathe substructure, and then layers of plaster are applied to give them strength and form.” Their diverse portfolio includes stools, side tables, chairs, and installations, and a new group of wire pieces that are the basis of their plaster pieces. Each piece is hand fabricated and finished in their Athens workshop. The Gilded Owl 318 Warren St. Hudson, New York
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Penguins!

Photographer Leonard Sussman documents the Antarctic
The two polar ice caps are primarily in the news today for how they are being impacted by global warming, how fast they are melting, and what it means for the rest of the planet. But it’s also true that these mostly uninhabited spaces—and their disengaged icebergs—are spectacularly beautiful. The New York photographer Leonard Sussman's recent expedition to the Antarctic region captured the strange spatial reality of its frozen mass and its ice limbs when they break off into the ocean. He also trains his lens on the ice caps' majority population: penguins. These images may be viewed at Garvey|Simon in New York City through June 14.
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Torts, Tech, Towers

Weekend edition: Tech urbanism, liability explained, and more
Missed some of this week’s architecture news, or our tweets and Facebook posts from the last few days? Don’t sweat it—we’ve gathered the week’s must-read stories right here. Enjoy! Forty-five story jail tower could be coming to Lower Manhattan The plan to close the jail facilities on Rikers Island is chugging along, but community opposition towards the borough-based replacements is bubbling over. The origins and perils of development in the urban tech landscape Author and professor Sharon Zukin looks at the history and the origins of the urban tech landscape, and how it has manifested in New York and elsewhere. Are design professionals liable for failing to anticipate the effects of climate change? Two experts give advice to architects about their legal liability in designing for climate change in their projects—just following code may not be enough. After Hudson Yards, Sunnyside could be New York's next megadevelopment After New York City's Hudson Yards megadevelopment elicited critical disappointment when it opened, our editor in chief posits Sunnyside could be next. Mexico City’s cost-saving replacement airport to break ground in June President Andrés Manuel López Obrador canceled the $13 billion Mexico City airport after a public referendum, but the alternative will soon break ground. Have a great weekend, and see you Monday!
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Big in the '80s

Throwback: Bob Hoskins talks about urban planning in London’s South Bank
The actor Bob Hoskins was the star of the 1980 film, The Long Good Friday, a London gangster movie that reflected on major anxieties, opportunities, and economic changes taking place in the U.K. In 1982 Hoskins led Barry Norman and the BBC on a riverside walk along the South Bank, and while pointing to new concrete office blocks he calls “Mars Bars” he confronts change in the guise of urban development along the Thames. The coming redevelopment Hoskins claims (and was he ever right) will make the 1960s “redevelopment epidemic look like a rash.” Next to a Coin Street vacant lot, once the site of row houses, but torn down for the 1951 Festival of Britain, he points to another Mars Bar. You see that (the BBC overlays outlines the proposed structures) is what happens if you “don’t consult with local people.” In 1970 “a big property group said they would build flats, shops, and a hotel if they could build a great tower for their staff. Once they got that tower the company brass pushed off down to Surrey and their building was sold off and the new owners are new doing up a bit to let and now they say they are moving out of the tower as well.” Now thanks to these planning decisions what we have is an area that “looks and feels completely dead.” Hoskins was not just a great actor but with deep understanding of culture implicitly understood bottom-up planning. We need planners with his insight and passion.