Search results for "east"

Placeholder Alt Text

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
Placeholder Alt Text

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
Placeholder Alt Text

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."
Placeholder Alt Text

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.
Placeholder Alt Text

It makes an impression

Post-Office Architectes stamps Tribeca with corrugated cardboard concrete formwork
facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
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.
Placeholder Alt Text

Chicago Common Brick

Brooks + Scarpa parts the veil with an undulating brick screen wall
facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
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.  
Placeholder Alt Text

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. 
Placeholder Alt Text

Can You Dig It?

Dorte Mandrup, DS+R, and WEISS/MANFREDI unveil ideas for La Brea Tar Pits revamp
Dorte Mandrup, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and WEISS/MANFREDI have revealed their concepts as finalists in the effort to reimagine the historic La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. Located within 12 acres of Hancock Park in the city’s Miracle Mile district, the world-famous site contains the only active urban paleontological research facility in the world but it hasn’t been updated since it opened in 1977. Spearheaded by the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County and the County of Los Angeles, the project aims to create a more integrated experience between the surrounding landscape and the George C. Page Museum, a 57,000-square-foot structure with sloping, grass-covered walls. Due to the building’s shape and underground siting—it was designed to take up as little space as possible—it’s proven difficult to expand and make room for more storage, research, education facilities, and exhibitions. The design teams have been tasked with improving all of these elements within the built portion of the site, while also refining access to the contemporary gardens, concessions building, and the observation structure that looks over the active dig site. All three firms partnered with renowned landscape, engineering, and ecology specialists to present the following holistic visions:  Dorte Mandrup With Matha Schwartz Partners, Arup, Gruen Associates, and Kontrapunkt According to the Copenhagen-based studio, the museum park should be designed in a way that reflects its status as a living laboratory. “Our proposal interweaves the park and museum, so the moment you step inside the park you become immersed into the story of the Tar Pits,” said Dorte Mandrup-Poulsen, founder and creative director of Dorte Mandrup in a press release. “A visit here should be a journey of curiosity, where senses and imagination are instantly awakened. Our hope is that this will bring visitors much closer to the world of natural science, and in turn heighten their understanding of the past, present, and future of our planet.” The museum itself will remain in its existing footprint, but a square building, or “geometric halo,” standing on stilts will float above the main portion, calling attention to itself via a digital Pleistocene mural on its glass walls. A series of boardwalks will connect all activities in the park while also leading visitors to the new, open foyer inside the museum which will, with ample daylight highlighting the floor and ceiling cutouts, tease the exhibitions above and below. The building will feature a new public roof garden and a "Tar Bar" overlooking the grounds.  Diller Scofidio + Renfro With Hood Design Studio, Nabih Yousef Associates, Rana Creek, Arup, and Schwartz/Silver Architects DS+R’s masterplan seeks to make Hancock Park a catalyst for growth in the Miracle Mile community by creating a systematic grid of pathways that inspire people to visit the major cultural locations in the area. “A revitalized Hancock Park is conceived to be the connective tissue between existing and new institutions, public spaces, and urban infrastructure,” said Diller Scofidio + Renfro in a statement. “We have taken a ‘light touch’ approach for the next evolution of the Page Museum, infilling underutilized spaces and reconfiguring what is already there to create a more dynamic and efficient hybrid structure that is both building and landscape." The New York-based design team will expand the museum’s current footprint and create a new forecourt at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Curson Avene. By adding a spiraling landscape of berms around the structure, exterior views of the new, centralized archive block are altered. DS+R designed a floating glass cube that sinks below the ground and is visible from the lobby. The firm has also proposed a mobile “Dig Rig” that can be moved throughout the park to access new dig sites and enhance accessibility.  WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism With Mark Dion, Dr. Carole Gee, Michael Bierut, Karin Fong, Michael Steiner, ASLA, and Robert Perry, ASLA WEISS/MANFREDI’s proposal, titled “La Brea Loops and Lenses,” provides a new path for visitors to experience all activities within Hancock Park and around the La Brea Tar Pits as one long, triple Mobius loop. This includes a 3,281-foot-long pedestrian walkway across Lake Pitt that would feature terraced seating areas for lakeside viewing. “The intertwining loops link all the existing site components, enhancing spaces for community and scientific research,” said founders and principals Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi in a press release. “The lenses, as framed views throughout the park and museum, reveal the La Brea collection to visitors, bringing the museum to the park, and the park into the public imagination.” The new museum would sit on two interconnected diamond-shaped plots across from a central lawn space. One would house a stilted canopy structure covering a below-ground Pleistocene Garden and another, situated on the museum’s existing footprint, would open up to the plaza with a glass-clad events space and spiraling frieze. The museum’s lobby would sit partially-underground and in between these main spaces, while an exhibition pit will be visible from the panoramic labs that encircle it.  All three designs for the La Brea Tar Pits will be on display at the George C. Page Museum through September 15. Locals can provide feedback on the materials, models, and drawings on view, or visit TarPits.org to comment. After reviewing, a jury will choose a winning design by December. Jury members include Milton Curry, architecture dean at the University of South California; Christopher Hawthorne, L.A.’s chief design officer; Kirk Johnson, director of the National Museum of Natural History Smithsonian; and Barbara Wilkes, founding principal of W Architecture and Landscape Architecture, LLC, among others. 
Placeholder Alt Text

Prepping for Sandy 2.0

Army Corps of Engineers will erect miles of seawalls along Staten Island

The United States Army Corps of Engineers is slated to begin construction on a $616 million seawall in the New York City borough of Staten Island, one of the areas hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The storm, which wreaked havoc on much of the mid-Atlantic coast between New Jersey and New York, exposed and exacerbated Staten Island’s vulnerability to storm surges and flash flooding. In light of predictions by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other climate-monitoring agencies that the frequency of Atlantic hurricanes will increase as global warming progresses through the 21st century, local and federal officials hope that the seawall will prevent higher levels of physical damage in the future.

When Sandy struck the New York metropolitan region in October 2012, floodwater depth in certain parts of Staten Island hit 12.5 feet above sea level. Within the area protected by the proposed seawall, depths exceeded previous records by four feet and damaged 80 percent of all structures, including critical infrastructure like schools. The storm killed 43 people in the city, including 24 in Staten Island alone.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the office of Governor Andrew Cuomo, the seawall system will include several components, known collectively as the Staten Island Multi-Use Elevated Promenade. About 4.5 miles of buried seawall, which will be topped by a walkable promenade, will protect the area against up to 21.4 feet of seawater rise. In addition to the 0.6-mile gate in the levee, there will also be 0.35 miles of floodwalls, 300 acres of natural water storage to manage surge, and over 226 acres of tidal wetlands and ponding areas. The latter two components will have the capacity to absorb an immense amount of floodwater, forming a robust natural barrier against major storms. One priority of the project is to protect vital infrastructure on the island, including senior centers, schools, hospitals, a wastewater plant, and police and fire stations.

While Sandy served as a catalyst to mobilize resources and agencies to officially begin the project, research that led to the ultimate seawall system proposal actually began after a pair of severe storms in 1992 and 1993. Hurricanes, Nor-easters, and superstorms present a major threat to the borough, but the low-lying parts of Staten Island also face flooding damage in the face of regular rainfall. In addition to protecting the coastline from such stress, state officials have promised that the seawall system will enhance waterfront access for members of the public. The boardwalk will be open to cyclists, pedestrians, and other hobbyists, allowing users to experience both the shoreline and the coastal wetlands. Governor Cuomo’s office also suggested that the seawall might one day serve as a tourist attraction, bringing in visitors from across the region and country.

Signing on to a Project Partnership Agreement (PPA), New York State and the Army Corps have committed to reducing the costs of flood damage in the area by about $30 million per year. The PPA opens the project up to $400 million in federal contributions, which will be added to the existing budget of $216 million—$65 million from the city and $151 million from the state. Construction is set to begin in 2020 and will hopefully be completed before the next major weather event.

Placeholder Alt Text

Big Move to Borneo

Indonesia will move its capital to Borneo

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who was reelected to serve his second term in office this year, announced last week that the country will move forward with plans to relocate its capital from the megacity Jakarta to the island of Borneo. As AN reported in May, the move will allow the Indonesian government to conduct its operations in a city that is less crowded and less congested than the current capital, which currently faces serious threats from natural disasters. The BBC reported last year that Jakarta is one of the world’s fastest sinking cities—a predicament that imperils its 10 million residents (30 million if you include the metropolitan area).

Widodo’s most recent announcement clarified some of the details of the move, including which province will host the new capital. East Kalimantan spans much of the eastern coast of Borneo—an island that Indonesia shares with Malaysia and Brunei—and has three main population centers: Balikpapan, Samarinda, and Bontang. Rather than crowning one of the existing cities as Indonesia’s new capital, a new settlement will be built on government-owned land between Balikpapan and Samarinda. The location was chosen over Indonesia’s many other islands and provinces because of its location at the geographic center of the country and relative lack of natural disasters. While Java, Sulawesi, and other islands have been struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and major storms in recent years, East Kalimantan has sustained little damage. The province benefits from comparatively well-developed infrastructure but is also well-known for deforestation as palm oil plantations have expanded throughout Borneo’s jungles.

Perhaps looking to avoid accusations of escapism, Widodo has assured the Indonesian public that the relocation of the capital does not represent a wholesale abandonment of Jakarta. The metropolis will continue to serve as Indonesia’s financial center, and the national government will invest in measures to mitigate the effects of crippling traffic and climate change. Officials also hope that moving government operations out of the city will help to alleviate strains on the city’s infrastructure. Still, the relocation effort will be an expensive endeavor, with most estimates placing the total cost of moving the capital at 466 trillion rupiah, or $33 billion. Widodo has indicated that funding will come from a combination of public funds, state-run enterprises, private corporations, and public-private partnerships.

Even with the criticism that Widodo and local officials in Jakarta have faced over the city’s increasing dysfunction, moving the capital may seem like an extreme step, but several countries have made similar moves in history. The United States commissioned Pierre Charles L’Enfant to concoct a plan for a new capital city in 1791, which led to the development of what is now known as Washington, D.C. in a sparsely-populated swamp. In the 1950s, Brazil decided to relocate its capital from Rio de Janeiro to the hinterland, where it built the current capital city of Brasilia as a modernist beacon of the country’s progress. In many cases, including that of Indonesia, leaders have cited capital relocation as a strategy to bring investment to less developed parts of a country.

Still, the decision to move the seat of government away from Jakarta marks a significant moment in Indonesian history. Formerly known by its Dutch name Batavia, the port city has served as the nation’s capital since it gained full independence in 1949 and as the capital of the Dutch East Indies for centuries before that. In the precolonial era, the settlement served as the seat of several kingdoms and sultanates. 

Widodo and the Indonesian government have indicated that they intend to begin construction on the new city as early as 2021, with the actual relocation of the capital slated to begin in 2024.

Placeholder Alt Text

The Air up There

André Fu stages a model apartment in the MoMA-adjacent 53 West 53 tower
Celebrated interior designer André Fu has completed a model apartment on the 36th floor of the new Jean Nouvel-designed 53 West 53 residential tower. Sitting adjacent to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and incorporating portions of its soon-to-open expansion, the new building soars high among a slew of super-tall and thin residential projects reshaping New York City's Midtown neighborhood. Accentuating the 2,000 square foot, 2-bedroom unit’s southern and eastern exposures, Fu and his Hong Kong-based design team implemented a scheme that is indicative of the practice’s recognized “relaxed luxury” aesthetic. However, the accolated talent still took stock of cultural nuances and was careful to juxtapose his design vocabulary with the building’s sharp features and the city’s dynamic skyline. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
Placeholder Alt Text

Being John Malkovich

NYC Department of Buildings fines owner who split two condo into 20 apartments
This week, the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) busted a Lower East Side landlord who had divided part of a building into hobbit-like warrens with ceilings as low as four-and-a-half–feet. Owner Xue Ping Ni subdivided his 634-square-foot condo on the fourth floor of 165 Henry Street into 11 tiny units by splitting the space with a new floor. DOB photos show a male inspector kneeling beside one lilliputian door, his head just below the top of the frame. The illegal units, home to nine people at inspection time, were climate-controlled with double-stacked window-mounted air conditioners. It almost goes without saying that the SROs lacked adequate egresses as well. During a later visit, a reporter noticed from the street that the air conditioners in the windows on the floor above were installed in a similar pattern. When inspectors entered the fifth-floor apartment, they found another nine diminutive single room occupancy units that looked like those in the first apartment. All tenants in the micro micro-units were evacuated. According to one, the closet-sized dwellings rented for $600 per month. The New York Post reported that the DOB slapped Ni with over $144,000 in fines for the sprinkler-less rooms and a lack of permits for plumbing, electrical, and structural work. According to paperwork on file with the DOB, the five-story building is supposed to have just 27 apartments.

Councilmember Ben Kallos likened the firetrap half floors to the 1999 film Being John Malkovich where John Cusack's character takes a job at Lester Corp, which is on the short-ceilinged seven-and-a-half floor of an office building in Manhattan. (Kallos does not represent the district that includes the building in question)

"It was funny in fiction, but a horror story in real life," he told the Post.