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In-Cret-ible Design

Paul P. Cret, storied Philadelphia architect, highlighted in Athenaeum show
A number of local institutions are marking the 100th anniversary of Philadelphia's majestic boulevard, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, by celebrating one of its leading architects: Paul P. Cret. Under consideration since the Civil War, the development of the parkway occupied Philadelphia for the first third of the 20th century. Philadelphia and other American cities planning similar projects during the same period created the “city beautiful” movement, America’s first important contribution to urban design. In 1892 Philadelphia’s city council passed a bill to build what was then called the Fairmount Parkway, after Fairmount Park, the city’s 9,000-plus-acre green space. A parkway plan created in 1907 by Horace Trumbauer, Clarence Zantzinger, and Cret for the Fairmount Park Art Association envisioned “a direct, dignified and interesting approach from the heart of the business and administrative quarter of the city, through the region of educational activities grouped around Logan Square, to the artistic center to be developed around Fairmount Plaza, at the entrance” to the park. Parkway construction began in 1917, ten years after groundbreaking, and in November 1918, according to a local newspaper, an “uninterrupted parkway at last leads from City Hall to Fairmount’s entrance.”

Lyons, France-born Cret (1876-1945) moved to Philadelphia in 1903 to become a professor of design at the University of Pennsylvania and eventually the leader of Philadelphia’s city beautiful movement. He was in France when World War I broke out and served in the army for the next five years before returning to Philadelphia where he resumed his teaching at the University of Pennsylvania and engaged in his architectural practice. He designed bridges, such as the Delaware River Bridge in Philadelphia, as well as museums (the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia, the Barnes Foundation Gallery in Merion, Pennsylvania, and the Detroit Institute of Arts) and the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., and also worked on the architecture of campuses of the University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, and the University of Texas at Austin. In addition, he was the consulting architect for the American Battle Monuments Commission from 1923 to 1945, whose mission was to design memorials, chapels, and cemeteries in honor of the dead of World War I.

Cret’s work is the centerpiece of an exhibition at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia called Professor Cret’s Parkway: One Architect’s Legacy on Philadelphia’s Grandest Thoroughfare. The show features over 30 built and unbuilt designs by Cret, many never before exhibited. The Rodin Museum, located on the parkway and designed by Cret, is simultaneously displaying a 1927 model of its building and gardens with photographs and related material exploring Cret’s design there. Both exhibitions are on display through August 31.

 In May the Athenaeum also conducted a symposium on Cret that considered his theory, work on the Rodin Museum, and engineering collaborations, among other subjects. Architecture critic Paul Goldberger delivered the keynote address, asking, “what does the city beautiful mean for the 21st century city?”

Also in May, the American Battle Monuments Commission inaugurated the new Chateau-Thierry American Monument Visitor Center on Hill 204, at a World War I monument designed by Cret overlooking the Marne River Valley. The monument, which was dedicated in 1937, commemorates the sacrifices and achievements of Americans and French people before and during the Aisne-Marne and Oise-Aisne offensives in 1918.

In 1922, the art collector Albert C. Barnes contracted Cret to design a gallery and residence in Merion, Pennsylvania. On display through September 30 at the Barnes Foundation, which moved from Merion to Benjamin Franklin Parkway in 2012, are selected letters between the two men, related photography, and Cret’s plans and sketches for the buildings that officially became the Barnes Foundation in 1925.
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Maritime Makeover

Philly is set to open new arts pier inside a century-old maritime warehouse this fall
Downtown Philadelphia will debut its newest cultural space this fall: an unlikely arts venue, marketplace, bar, and public park set inside a converted 99-year-old maritime warehouse. Cherry Street Pier, designed by Groundswell Design Group and Interface Studio Architects, will open on October 12 at Pier 9 along the Delaware River. The $5-million project will transform the 55,000-square-foot municipal structure into a mixed-use waterfront destination and studio facility for 14 local artists. Located south of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and the Race Street Pier, the long-neglected, 19th-century building has undergone major renovation work over the last year. The project, dreamed up by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC), aims to introduce a new space for civic engagement as well as a collaborative home for the city’s visionary artists and entrepreneurs. The group announced Wednesday that the park will open ahead of the three-week arts celebration, Festival for the People, put on by the Philadelphia Contemporary. According to Philly Magazine, DRWC president Joe Forkin said that the Cherry Street Pier will serve as a foundation for the arts to flourish along the city’s waterfront. The historic building will house affordable studios and offices for emerging artists within repurposed shipping containers featuring glass walls. Community members and visitors to the dock can peer inside the studio spaces—dubbed the Garage— and watch the artists at work throughout the day. Tenants will be able to showcase their art in a 10,800-square-foot open space dedicated to large-scale art installations and performances. The site will also include room for a pop-up retail market, public events, and food vendors. A café and bar are being built for the open-air garden at the edge of the facility. The architects will peel back the roof of the warehouse in this section, exposing the steel trusses and stone masonry to reveal the historic structure’s core and unveil a unique perspective of the river. Wood benches, railings, plants, and trees will fill the space so people can relax and enjoy one another’s company.
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Alamo City

San Antonio’s architecture has a bright future illuminated by a rich heritage
When it comes to notable architecture in Texas, it would seem strange to place San Antonio on par with Houston or Dallas. As the second-largest city in the state, San Antonio seems to only mimic the kind of architectural largesse seen in those cities. There are plenty of jewel-like late modern skyscrapers and austere civic buildings by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Caudill Rowlett Scott, and Marmon Mok in the city, but these are not the kinds of projects one would mention in the same breath as Houston landmarks like Johnson/Burgee’s Pennzoil Place and Williams Tower, Renzo Piano’s sublime Menil Collection, or Fort Worth's iconic Kimbell Art Museum by Louis Kahn. A selective itinerary of San Antonio’s past and future architectural projects reveals a steady commitment to buildings with bold, expressive forms that reference the city’s unique environment, history, and culture. Alamo City warmed up to these compelling architectural additions as it expanded during the late 1940s and early ’50s, and became a home to energy and utility companies during the 1970s and ’80s. Funded by philanthropic organizations and influxes of oil cash, many of these buildings are now hidden by giant, swooping highway overpasses, corporate plazas, and other developer-driven projects. Despite the earlier innovative and controversial projects, San Antonio remains overlooked. This will soon change. Newly appointed mayor Ronald Nirenberg has re-energized discussions about creating new housing, battling gentrification, and committing to more public art. This will certainly place a spotlight on San Antonio’s rich architectural offerings while reminding us of how these and other past projects have embodied this city’s distinctive topography, Latino heritage, and dry, arid environment. Emilio Ambasz’s Lucile Halsell Conservatory, completed in 1988 at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens, is a good starting point. Located on the city’s northeast side, Ambasz’s scheme took advantage of the sunken site with a series of prismlike canopies that appear to rise out of the bermed earth like upturned shards of glass. Each canopy creates its own kind of climate and features particular plant ecologies—architecture designed, as Paul Goldberger observed in 1987, for the interaction between plants and humans. The project is notable for its combination of building, landscape, and infrastructure into a seamless whole. The Lucile Halsell Conservatory accommodated some very particular environmental and topographical conditions, and did so with a formal and technological expressiveness unlike anything that had been built in San Antonio. Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta’s San Antonio Central Library, completed in 1995, continues in this vein. Here, cubic volumes are stacked at various angles, creating a series of triangular-shaped courtyards intended to be outdoor reading rooms. Legorreta’s debt to Mexican architect Luis Barragán’s minimalist polychromy is clear. Working with the painter Mathias Goéritz, Barragán created spaces framed by walls and surfaces doused in highly saturated reds, blues, yellows, oranges, magentas, and pinks. At his Central Library, Legorreta appears to invert Barragán with a simple, playful interplay of volumes that seem to be wrought from its own color palette as well. The reddish-brown colored cubes appear gutted in some places, revealing inner planes of yellow, blue, and purple. When viewed from the air, the Central Library appears otherworldly, framing circular plazas made from grass and limestone and located on a triangular-shaped site near the geographical center of the city, as if something from another time had arrived here. That a Mexican architect was chosen for this project is important. As the seventh-largest city in the United States, San Antonio has one of the biggest Spanish-speaking populations. Over 62 percent of its residents are of Latino origin. The appeal of Legorreta’s Central Library stemmed as much from the need for more public libraries as it did from the desire to reflect the city’s heritage. Though this was the first building in San Antonio designed specifically to reflect the city’s Mexican-American heritage, there are older buildings that expressed the cultural richness so important to the city. The Alamo and the four Spanish Missions (recently designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites) all combine Spanish and Catholic influences while referring to the rituals and structures of indigenous peoples. This is to say that San Antonio’s architecture continues to find a way to embody its venerable cultural geography. It also incorporates its distinct environmental geography. San Antonio is a city hewn from mesquite-dappled hills, limestone quarries, and deep-set aquifers. Lake|Flato continues to be the standard-bearer among the city’s firms for a kind of tectonic and environmental sensitivity that is immediately recognizable for its ingenious references to these conditions. Imagine a version of John Lautner’s spacious geometric forms where large cornices made from corrugated metal peer over meticulous compositions of glass, limestone, slats, and brise-soleil made from local woods, all culminating in views that privilege the rolling, arid mesquite and persimmon landscapes of the Texas Hill Country. This would not do justice to Lake|Flato’s work, but perhaps it is as close as we can get to a kind of South Texas regionalism. Yet some of Lake|Flato’s current work points to something altogether different. Their recently completed pavilion at Confluence Park designed in collaboration with Matsys connects the joining of the San Antonio River and San Pedro Creek, to nearby Mission Concepción, an 18th-century basilica. This is a highly-charged site in predominantly Spanish-speaking South San Antonio. The most visually arresting parts of Lake|Flato’s project are the concrete “petals” that reference the local flora while reminding the most architecturally astute observer of Spanish-born Mexican engineer Felix Candela’s sweeping hyperboloid structures, like Los Manantiales Restaurant (1958) in Mexico City’s Xochimilco Park, or the Chapel Lomas de Cuernavaca (also 1958) in Cuernavaca. Confluence Park is also part of the larger San Pedro Creek Cultural Park. This scheme is projected to transform a once-neglected 2.2-mile-long drainage spur into a cultural attraction with water features, public art, and areas dedicated to the preservation of local grasses and wildlife. In a nod to its aspirations, lead architect Henry R. Muñoz and others have embraced this project’s more common nickname—the “Latino High Line”—which may say more about Diller Scofidio + Renfro/Field Operation’s celebrated scheme than the actual goal of the project, which is to create a version of the Riverwalk devoid of its tourist traffic while celebrating Latino heritage. Urban designers are finding new ways to move San Antonio forward while referring to curious artifacts from the history of American cities. Architect Antonio Petrov, who teaches at the University of Texas at San Antonio and is the founder of Urban Future Lab, is one of the most outspoken voices when it comes to redevelopment in the city. He is a proponent of bringing back skyrides, which were already used during HemisFair ’68 as a means of connecting the city’s downtown with San Antonio International Airport. Petrov’s proposal, though evocative of pie-in-the-sky urban transportation schemes, is to be taken seriously. Similar proposals were actually in use at the 1932 Century of Progress Exhibition in Chicago as well as in Disneyland and Disney World (which were, in a sense, attempts to envision cities of the future.) Other schemes, though funded by corporate dollars and serious placemaking advocacy firms, are barely more pragmatic in their approach. A case in point is the proposed Alamo Plaza Redevelopment. Philadelphia-based Preservation Design Partnership authored one of the first master plans, a scheme that caused controversy when it called for relocating many of the businesses surrounding the Alamo and converting them to privately run cultural attractions. Current versions of the plan have done little to improve on the previous proposal. For example, the recent Alamo Comprehensive Interpretive Plan—spearheaded by St. Louis–based “placemaking” firm Peckham Guyton Albers & Viets; the heritage consulting firm Cultural Innovations; and landscape architects Reed Hilderbrand—still hinges on the creation of a pedestrian-friendly “Alamo District” designed to turn this historically charged site into an open-air museum. A previous scheme took this idea a step further by encircling the Alamo with a glass wall, as if preserving this architectural artifact in a kind of amber. There are plenty of other projects that are reenergizing the architectural scene in San Antonio. The city is in a bit of a gut-rehab frenzy, as landmarks like the Pearl and Lone Star Breweries have been renovated as pricey hotels and higher-end restaurants, all with the end goal of molding San Antonio into a destination for design-savvy millennials with money to burn, in hopes they will ditch an Airbnb in the picturesque King William District in favor of the Hotel Emma’s posh industrial-chic. It is in this milieu that Adjaye Associates’ Ruby City arrives as one of the most exciting projects to break ground in the Alamo City. This 14,000-square-foot gallery and contemporary arts center—scheduled to open later this year near the city’s burgeoning arts district—appears as a strange hybrid, part OMA Casa da Musica, part Legorreta Central Library. Adjaye’s building appears as a literal jewel, a faceted brick-red form whose speckled, punctured surfaces make it seem fleeting and otherworldly. But it is anything but that, for this building, which sits precariously on the edge of the one-acre CHRISpark in downtown San Antonio, will anchor the San Pedro Creek redevelopment scheme, and provide the Linda Pace Foundation’s extensive collection of modern and contemporary art with a bold, exciting home. Adjaye is still earning accolades for his groundbreaking National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and with Ruby City soon to be completed, this will be the most significant architectural gesture for San Antonio—one that will hopefully inspire an influx of more commissions and projects of a similar caliber. How should we look at San Antonio’s architectural legacies and gestures? It is tempting to stack them up against those in Houston or Dallas, but in doing so, we would risk ignoring how one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States is busy generating its own architectural identity. Don’t call it haphazard, however. The pace of architectural developments in San Antonio may appear slow, but like the city, its architecture is humming busily from what once was an undetectable purr to something greater. This sleepy South Texas city is anything but, and its architecture will demonstrate how this is the case.
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In Memoriam

Thomas Todd, former partner of Wallace Roberts & Todd, passes away

Thomas Abbott Todd, a retired architect, planner, and artist who was a partner in the Philadelphia firm of Wallace, Roberts & Todd (WRT), died on June 14 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. He was 90.

Born in Connecticut and raised in the Philadelphia area, Todd was educated at Haverford College and the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture and a master’s degree in city planning, respectively. A licensed architect from 1963 to 1991 and professional planner starting in 1970, he was a named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1980.

Along with David Wallace, Ian McHarg, Bill Roberts, and others, Todd built a large firm that was known for its multidisciplinary approach to design, combining architecture, landscape architecture, and planning. Based in Philadelphia, it has a second office in San Francisco.

Among Todd's best-known projects were the master plans for Baltimore’s Inner Harbor renewal area, the U. S. Capitol area in Washington, D. C., and Abuja, the Capitol of Nigeria. He worked on landscape architecture projects for Battery Park in New York and was part of the design team behind Philadelphia’s Liberty Place towers, which broke the longstanding gentleman's agreement that no structure could be taller than William Penn’s statue atop City Hall.

Working in a variety of idioms, Todd also designed smaller works, including three houses for his own family as well as urban sculpture. His 1982 McKeldin Fountain, also known as The Waterfall, was designed to be an explorable waterfall formed by a series of concrete prisms with water cascading down on all sides and collecting in pools below with platforms at different levels containing plants and walkways for people. Both a utilitarian part of the city’s infrastructure and a sophisticated work of Brutalist architecture, it was part of Baltimore’s official inventory of public art until it was demolished by the city in 2016.

Joseph Healy, architect and managing principal of WRT, said employees in the Philadelphia office spoke about Todd last week during a staff gathering, reflecting on the key role he played in the firm.

“To this day, the underlying beliefs and integrated practice that Tom helped shape at WRT hold great value for the talented professionals and aspirational clients drawn to the firm,” Healy said in a statement. “The positive impact of their collective work is more relevant than ever.”

Todd was “a versatile designer, not always a Modernist,” Healy added. “He was very attentive to context and craft.”

Todd’s professional career began with the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, led for many years by the noted planner Edmund Bacon. After winning a fellowship that allowed him to travel in Europe for a year, Todd joined the University of Pennsylvania as a campus planner and designer, then started a planning firm known as Grant & Todd, then worked for Geddes, Brecher, Qualls & Cunningham.

In 1963, Wallace and McHarg hired him to work for Wallace-McHarg Associates, which was taking on land planning projects and other commissions around the country, including a much-publicized plan to control development in Baltimore County’s Green Spring Valley. After Todd and Bill Roberts became full partners, the firm was renamed Wallace, McHarg, Roberts & Todd.

Todd’s penchant for planning and his attention to detail extended to his leisure time activities, including model shipbuilding, music, and painting. He could speak and read Latin, which he studied at Germantown Friends School and Haverford, and enjoyed translating common phrases and quotes into that language. He traced his family history back to the colonial era, discovering that he was related to Benedict Arnold. He made a harpsichord and taught himself to play it. He sang in choral groups. He painted portraits, landscapes, cityscapes, and still lifes.

After WRT’s master plan for Baltimore called for the USS Constellation to be the sculptural centerpiece of the Inner Harbor, Todd built a scale model of it, down to the miniature cannon balls on the upper deck. His model is on display at the U. S. Naval War College in Newport, R. I.

In 1956 Todd married the former Carol Roberts, who died in 2014. They had a son, Jonathan Christopher “Chris” Todd, and two daughters, Suzannah Elizabeth Arnold Todd Waters and Cassandra Roberts Todd.  Besides his children, he is survived by a sister and four grandchildren.

In 1991, Todd retired from WRT and moved to Rhode Island, where he continued to consult professionally. In 2008 he moved to Duxbury, Massachusetts. He lived in Plymouth, Mass., at the time of his death.

Todd’s son paints a picture of a restless Renaissance man who saw the glass as half full and threw himself into whatever he chose to pursue, whether it was traveling to see the lands discovered by the Norse explorer Leif Erikson or building frames for his own oil paintings.

“He loved bad jokes and good company,” Chris Todd said. “I wouldn’t say he didn’t have his moments of concern about finances or health. But by and large, he led a rich life.

“He was absolutely the most industrious person I have ever met,” his son continued. “TV was uninteresting to him. He would get up after a few minutes. He wasn’t interested in passive entertainment. He wanted something more. He wanted to make things, and he wanted to learn about things in order to make them, to be able to discuss them intelligently. He had a questing mind.”

A memorial service for Thomas Todd will be held on October 27 at 10 a.m. at the Germantown Friends Meeting, a Quaker church at 47 West Coulter Street in Philadelphia. In lieu of flowers, the family has suggested a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association.

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Successful Pitches

2026 World Cup preview: Which U.S. cities will host?
 As France and Croatia prepare to face off in the 2018 FIFA World Cup final this Sunday, North American cities are already thinking about 2026, when the United States, Mexico, and Canada will co-host the games. Announced last month, it’s perhaps one of the only unifying moments that’s happened lately between the three neighboring countries given the continent's current political rifts. But a lot can happen in eight years, and while North Americans wait to find out how relationships might repair, we can logistically consider how the world’s favorite sport will play out in our own backyard. Per the aptly named United Bid, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico argue that existing infrastructure, local partnerships, and state-of-the-art stadiums will decrease costs and encourage sustainable practices within the games. Sixty of the eighty planned matches are set to take place in the U.S., including all games from the quarterfinals onwards. As of now, 17 U.S. cities have begun campaigning to secure their individual bids, while Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Toronto, Montreal, and Edmonton have already been named as official hosts. By 2021, FIFA will pare down the list of U.S cities to 10. Boston Consulting Group, a global management firm, recently projected that the tournament will generate over $5 billion in economic activity for the three host countries, while single cities in the U.S. might expect a net benefit of up to $480 million each. Which top towns will make the cut? A few of FIFA’s general requirements give insight into the possible results. To host a World Cup match, each city must be able to hold at least five matches in a stadium with a capacity of at least 40,000 people. Seating for 80,000 people must be available for the opening and final matches. With FIFA’s expanded format going into effect in 2026, 48 teams will be able to participate in the tournament. That’s 16 more teams than previous World Cups, making it more important than ever for the host countries to showcase strong transportation, solid hospitality services, and modern sports arenas with the ability to accommodate the increased number of fans. One of the United Bid’s strongest points, according to FIFA, was that it could ensure the long-term use of each stadium following the World Cup. Each building in the proposal is fully-functional and already services major sports events year round. The following cities and stadiums (architects listed) are contending for 2026: Atlanta - Mercedes-Benz Stadium by HOK, tvsdesign, Good Van Slyke Architecture, and Stanley Beaman & Sears Baltimore - M&T Bank Stadium by Populous Boston - Gillette Stadium by Populous Cincinnati - Paul Brown Stadium by NBBJ Dallas - AT&T Stadium by HKS Architects Denver - Mile High Stadium by Stanley E. Morse Houston - NRG Stadium by Populous and Houston Stadium Consultants Kansas City, Missouri - Arrowhead Stadium by Kivett and Myers and Populous Los Angeles - Rose Bowl by Myron Hunt Miami - Hard Rock Stadium by HOK/360 Nashville - Nissan Stadium by Populous and McKissack & McKissack New York - Met Life Stadium by HOK, Bruce Mau, Rockwell Group, and EwingCole Orlando - Camping World Stadium by HNTB Philadelphia - Lincoln Financial Field by NBBJ San Francisco - Levi’s Stadium by HNTB Seattle - CenturyLink by Ellerbe Becket and LMN Architects Washington, D.C. - FedEx Field by Populous This is a major opportunity for the U.S. to both bring in new capital and upgrade infrastructure in conjunction with the games. The U.S. hasn’t hosted a World Cup since 1994 when Brazil beat Italy at Rose Bowl Stadium. The famous arena is one of the rumored spots to anchor the 2026 final match in addition to the new L.A. Rams Stadium by HKS Architects, MetLife Stadium in New York—which hosted Copa America in 2016—as well as the proposed, Bjarke Ingels-designed new home for the Washington Redskins. The U.S. will most likely be guaranteed a place in the games, following tradition that the host country's team will be included in the tournament.
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Fine D(es)i(g)ning

Frank Gehry’s new restaurant, Stir, is set open at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Frank Gehry’s $196 million masterplan for the Philadelphia Museum of Art will reveal its first signs of life this fall with the opening of Stir, the famed cultural institution’s new restaurant and cafeteria that will open to the public in October. Operated by Starr Catering Group and led by Executive Chef Mark Tropea, Stir will offer museum-goers and guests a seasonal and locally-sourced menu inside a very Gehry, contemporary atmosphere. The design centers around a grid-like sculpture shaped out of Douglas fir slats and beams that extends from an undulating ceiling. The walls are also wrapped in Douglas fir panels while red oak covers the restaurant’s floors. Hints of frosted glass, felt, steel, leather, bronze, and onyx are also featured throughout the space, all coming together to create a warm and inviting setting. Gehry Partners will design the tables and chairs that will hold up to 76 people. In addition to Stir, the firm will reimagine a new, full-service cafeteria for the museum that will seat 160 people. The space will extend the entire width of the building and include windows offering views of the East Terrace and its garden as well as the Schuylkill River on the west side. It will have stations for salads, sandwiches, and brick oven pizza. The museum’s North Entrance, which will open at street level in early 2019, will house a new espresso bar in the Vaulted Walkway that will also be accessible to the public. There, visitors can enjoy views of the building’s facades through the skylights above in a space that’s been closed off since the mid-1970s. Gehry’s masterplan is part of the museum’s Core Project, a massive interior renovation of the neoclassical landmark built in 1928 which has long suffered from poor circulation and a lack of clear wayfinding. The redesign will add 67,000 square feet of new public space to the facility and an additional 23,000 square feet of gallery space, while also opening up the heart of the museum. Gehry will introduce a new central space, called the 'Forum', by removing the upper-level auditorium, thus heightening the ceiling and adding glass walls to create sightlines between The Great Stairs Hall and Lenfest Hall, the building’s grand lobbies that were previously completely disconnected.     Construction on the Core Project began early last year and is expected to wrap up in 2020.  Stir will be open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday, from 11:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., and will offer brunch on Sunday from 11:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.
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Brotherly Love?

Philadelphia passes affordable housing tax on new construction, but it may not last
Philadelphia’s City Council narrowly approved a tax on new construction projects last Thursday, in a 9-to-8 vote that may not stand up to mayoral scrutiny. The measure would bring in about $22 million a year for affordable housing, but trade unions and developers are arguing that the tax would slow the city's economic growth. The one percent tax on new construction and significant redevelopments is part of a sweeping package aimed at boosting the city’s affordable housing tools. In a move to capitalize on Philadelphia's meteoric building boom, the fee would apply to projects of any scope and be paid when filing a building permit. Funds from the new construction tax would go into a Housing Trust Fund, which non- and for-profit developers could tap for construction or closing costs. A zoning change was also included in the measure, which would allow developers to increase the height and density of their projects in exchange for making 10 percent of their rental and condo units affordable. Opting into the zoning bonus would not preclude developers from also paying the new tax. “Affordable” units, in this measure’s language, would be open to households who have lived in Philadelphia for at least three years, and who make less than a combined $105,000 a year; 120 percent of the city’s median income. Not everyone is on board, and building trade unions, developers, businesses, and some affordable housing advocates around Philadelphia have come out against the tax on new construction. In a letter to the City Council’s finance committee ahead of a vote earlier in the month, trade unions came out swinging against the tax, arguing that it would dissuade Amazon from picking the city for its second headquarters. On the other end, affordable and low-income housing advocates feel the $105,000 income cap is too generous, and that the city should do more to tighten the requirements. Of course, the tax’s passage is far from assured. Sources within the City Council have reportedly indicated that Mayor Jim Kenney is likely to veto the bill over the rising pushback in a move similar to Seattle’s recent head tax controversy. The veto would be the first of Kenney’s career, and would require 12 City Council votes to override–far from a sure thing, considering the slim margin that the bill originally passed with.
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You get a High Line, and You Get a High Line...

Philadelphia cuts the ribbon on its own “High Line” park
After years of planning and handwringing over fundraising, the first phase of Philadelphia’s own “High Line,” the transformation of the Reading Viaduct rail line, was opened to the public last Thursday. Although the Rail Park’s first spur is only a quarter mile long, the rail line will be twice as long and wide as New York’s High Line when fully built out. The first section of the linear park, located on the northern edge of Center City and designed by landscape architects Studio Bryan Hanes, reflects the neighborhood’s industrial past. Native plants and trees were planted on top of the viaduct’s steel arches, and remnants of the embedded rail track are woven throughout the zigzagging walkway. Riveted I-beams have been turned into seating, and structural steel beams are used to support the hanging benches. A timeline of the neighborhood and a historical list of the city’s industrial manufacturers have been cut into a weathered Cor-ten steel “history wall” that visitors can walk beside. Unlike New York’s High Line, the Rail Park is wide enough to include both dedicated bike trails and footpaths for pedestrians, creating new links to traditionally underserved neighborhoods when the three-mile-long park is complete. Construction on the $10.8 million elevated park was beset with delays. In planning since 2010, the project finally broke ground in October of 2016 after SEPTA, the site’s former owner, agreed to lease the rail spur to the nonprofit Center City District (CCD) during construction. Now that the section is finally open, ownership has been handed over to the City of Philadelphia, with maintenance and management split between the CCD, the nonprofit Friends of the Rail Park, and the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation. Funding for the Rail Park’s 25,000-square-foot first phase was raised in combination by the Friends of the Rail Park and through a $3.5 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant from the state government. According to the CCD, this section of the Rail Park will serve as a design proof-of-concept and fundraising tool for the rest of the viaduct’s development. No timeline or estimated construction dates have been given for the second and third phases.
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NUMTOT Art

An interactive fountain driven by train traffic is coming to Philadelphia’s Center City
Pulse, a snaking public art piece linked to the Dilworth Park fountain in Philadelphia, will soon be showing commuters what’s going on underneath their feet. The fountain sits in front of Philadelphia City Hall in Center City, and sculptor Janet Echelman will soon be realizing a light-and-mist installation that will track underground SEPTA trains in real time, thanks to a $325,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation. The project was originally commissioned in 2009 by the Center City District Foundation (CCD), and major pieces of its foundations were embedded in the surrounding plaza when the park’s fountain was built in 2014. Pulse, described as “a living X-ray of the city's circulatory system” by the artist, would create four-foot-tall walls of colored mist that track the trains passing below, specifically, the green, orange, and blue lines. Separate tracks of light embedded in the concrete would project into an atomized mist to create the kinetic effect. Echelman worked closely with the park’s architects, OLIN, to integrate Pulse’s infrastructure into the plaza redesign.' The $325,000 grant that the CCD announced last Monday will cover the construction of Pulse’s green section, which would follow SEPTA’s underground green line trolley. The installation of that phase will come to life this July, though the CCD is still seeking funding for the remaining orange and blue line tracks. The project was conceived as a tribute to Philadelphia’s first water pumping station, and Echelman was brought on board to design the piece back in 2010. However, the CCD has been trying to drum up the $4 million required to complete and maintain Pulse ever since it was announced (though a $20,000 National Endowment of the Arts grant awarded last year helped to get the ball rolling).
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Cooper Kudos

Weiss/Manfredi, Neri Oxman among winners of 2018 Cooper Hewitt Design Awards
The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has announced the winners of the 2018 National Design Awards, recognizing ten individuals and firms who have used design to shape the world for the better. This year’s winners include: Lifetime Achievement: Writer, educator, and designer Gail Anderson has taught at the School of Visual Arts in New York for the last 25 years, and is an active partner at the multidisciplinary Anderson Newton Design. Anderson has written or co-authored a total of 14 books on popular culture and design, and formerly served as the senior art director at Rolling Stone. Design Mind: Landscape architect, award-winning author, and Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning at MIT Anne Whiston Spirn. Spirn was recognized for her longtime advocacy for balancing urbanism with nature, as well as her continued direction of the West Philadelphia Landscape Project. Corporate & Institutional Achievement: Design studio Design for America, which empowers communities to solve local problems through design. Architecture Design: WEISS/MANFREDI was recognized for the way their projects consistently bridge the gap between architecture, art, and the surrounding landscape. The firm’s been on a roll lately, having picked up several cultural commissions and an invite to exhibit at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale. Communication Design: Digital identity and experience firm Civilization was recognized for its ability to create empathetic connections and commitment to working with companies who are advocating for the greater good. Fashion Design: The Los Angeles-based fashion designer Christina Kim was recognized for her use of traditional hand working techniques and sustainable business practices. Interaction Design: Architect and designer Neri Oxman was recognized for her experimental material usage and continual boundary-pushing forms. Oxman leads the Mediated Matter Group at the MIT Media Lab, a group whose work frequently bridges the gap between art and technology; their most recent project, Vespers, is a contemporary reinterpretation of the death mask typology that uses living microorganisms. Interior Design: The Miami-based Oppenheim Architecture + Design was recognized for its sense-invoking interiors that are often inspired by local vernacular. The firm has realized projects all over the world from towers in Dubai to the Williamsburg Hotel in Brooklyn, but like many of the other winners, Oppenheim balances their projects within the surrounding natural environment. Landscape Architecture: Boston-based landscape architecture firm Mikyoung Kim Design was honored for its vast body of public work, much of it focused on improving urban resiliency. The firm has tackled projects large and small around the world, from the Chicago Botanic Garden Learning Campus to the Songdo International Plaza in Incheon, South Korea. Product Design: Minneapolis-based Furniture designer and manufacturer Blu Dot was recognized for its playful and modern stylings (including some less-than-functional objects). The National Design Awards have been recognizing exemplary names in the design world since 2000. Nominees must have seven years of professional experience under their belt, while the lifetime achievement nominees must have at least 20 years of experience. Caroline Baumann, director of Cooper Hewitt, will announce the winner of the Director’s Award at a later date, to be given to an outstanding patron of the design world. This year’s awards ceremony will be accompanied by National Design Week, which will run from October 13 through the 21st.
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Expo-presentation

Who’s missing from this AIA Conference promo video? (Hint: It’s not men)
Usually I speed past ads on social media as quickly as possible without breaking my infinite scroll, but when I saw the video ad for the AIA Conference on Architecture 2018 pop up, I was curious to see what the all-knowing algorithms had deemed worthy of my consumption. I expected a standard promotional video highlighting familiar New York City landmarks mixed in with information about conference dates, parties, keynotes–all that good stuff. Something to get me excited about what the AIA describes as the “architecture and design event of the year!” The video is only one minute long. It’s a lighthearted, fast-paced overview of exciting things to come. But it is also a visual, visceral reminder of the status quo of architecture in the United States. Here’s the video. For those of you who cannot view it, a summary of key scenes will follow, with a general description of those present in these scenes. I’ve assumed the genders of the people in the video. At 11 seconds: shot of the Expo floor, approximately 14 cisgender men. Cisgender (or simply "cis") denotes a person whose gender identity corresponds with their birth sex. At 12 seconds: shot of the Expo floor, 1 cis man. At 14 seconds: shots of a panel consisting of 3 cis men and 1 cis woman. The woman’s gender expression, which refers to her appearance in this case, is masculine. At 21 seconds: scene of 5 cis women exercising in a park. At 45 seconds: 2 cis women sitting in front of the Whitney Museum. Did you catch it? A total of at least 18 cis men are shown attending the Conference, while only one cis woman makes a fleeting appearance on a panel (where she is outnumbered by three cis men). No women are shown on the Expo floor otherwise. When cis women do show up, there are only 7 of them, and they are represented as mere consumers of architectural designs by cis men. They’re leisurely exercising at Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island, designed by Louis Kahn, and enjoying the view out in front of the Whitney Museum designed by Renzo Piano. The numbers are telling: roughly 70 percent of people in the ad are cis men, while only 30 percent are cis women. 100 percent of the cis men are depicted as architects. 0 percent of the cis women are. Let’s face it: this advertisement mirrors architecture’s long-running and notorious gender diversity problem. According to Equity by Design, the organization formerly known as The Missing 32%, in the United States, cis women represent less than 50 percent of students graduating from accredited architecture programs, and the number of cis women who are AIA members, licensed architects, and senior leadership fluctuates between 15 to 18 percent of the total. The data gathered from their surveys in 2014 and 2016 confirm what we already know about the architecture profession: women and non-binary people (those who do not identify as male or female) are pushed out of the profession at certain points in their careers, and decision-making power is still largely in the hands of cis men.   What does a one-minute video have to do with it? The AIA is aware of its gender diversity problem and, to the Institute’s credit, has been hammering away at it for several years. In 2011, the AIA Diversity Council was formed to confront issues such as the shortage of minority representation in leadership roles, unconscious bias, and sexual discrimination. In 2014, architectural organizations conducted an industry-wide study, Diversity in the Profession of Architecture, which highlighted the gross disparities in the field and the urgent need for a profession that more accurately reflects the demographics of our nation. The results led the AIA to issue a call to action by ratifying Resolution 15:1,“Equity in Architecture,” at the 2015 AIA National Convention. The resolution established the Equity in Architecture Commission. In 2017, the Commission released a report with five “keystone” areas of focus: leadership development; firm and workplace studio culture; excellence in architecture; education and career development; and, last but certainly not least, marketing, branding, public awareness, and outreach. This video, then, is part of the fifth “keystone” area of focus identified by the Equity in Architecture Commission. But the AIA seems to have lost its focus on working toward equity in this arena. Given all of the time, energy, and institutional power that has been invested in increasing gender equity in architecture, this ad betrays the AIA’s appalling lack of intention and commitment to doing the necessary work that the Equity in Architecture Commission recommends. This is disappointing for an organization that has extensive data on its own gender diversity problem and is keenly aware of its own representation to the public. The way architects are portrayed reveals a disturbing image of how the profession views itself. I understand that representation in an AIA Conference ad is not likely to affect gender diversity in architecture. Change doesn’t happen overnight, much less through algorithmically-placed adverts. But this ad does have a real effect on how women and non-binary people (like me!) feel about our inclusion within the architectural profession. Watching the video made me feel invisible, as though I’m not a real architect and I’m not invited to the conference. Barely seeing any women in represented in the ad was a shocking, surreal experience. During my second viewing, I was acutely aware of the implicit message: even if I do attend the conference, people like me don’t visit the Expo floor. I recalled attending the 2016 AIA Convention in Philadelphia and feeling wildly out of place. I could feel my hope for a better, more inclusive experience at A’18 drain away as the messaging sank in. The AIA, despite all of its efforts and good intentions, should do better. As a historically (and currently) cis male-dominated profession, the structure for supporting architects who are not cis men is severely lacking. Women and non-binary people face professional and academic settings that are hostile towards their career advancements. We receive messages in so many ways that we should not be architects. Just last year, a group of more than 50 architectural professionals wrote a letter to the Architect’s Newspaper imploring the AIA to reevaluate their keynote speakers (6 out of 7 were cis men; one was a cis woman and not an architect). We need a cultural change in architecture that also goes beyond representation.The architects who are honored by the AIA and other organizations merely reinforce dominant, patriarchal power structures. When will the five keystones for equity in architecture become a serious priority? When will architectural education become accessible enough to reflect the gender and racial diversity of the country? When will women and non-binary people finally feel represented and welcome at all stages of their architectural careers? I’m tired of having the same diversity and inclusion conversations. We have announced ourselves and have been speaking out. The future of the architectural profession lies in how well it welcomes the next generation. The next generation is here, but we don’t see ourselves reflected and seen. We need you to do better. See you on the Expo floor. A.L. Hu is an architectural designer, organizer, and activist living in New York City.
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Everything Old Is New Again

Docomomo US announces 2018 Modernism in America Award winners
The preservation nonprofit Docomomo US has announced the winners of its 2018 Modernism in America Awards, recognizing 13 people or projects that have sensitively preserved, or advocated for the preservation of, modern icons throughout the country. “By recognizing the important design and preservation work being done around the country that often is overlooked,” said Docomomo US president, Theodore Prudon, “the Modernism in America Awards program is bringing further awareness to the substantial contribution that preservation in general - and the postwar heritage in particular - makes to the economic and cultural life of our communities. " The 2018 recipients of the annual Modernism in America Awards, now in its fifth year, will be honored on Wednesday, June 20, 2018 at the Design Within Reach Third Avenue Studio in New York City. This year’s jury was composed of Docomomo US’s Board of Directors. The prizes were awarded in the following categories: Design Award of Excellence, one Special Award of Restoration Excellence, and the Citations of Merit. Design Award of Excellence winners: General Motors Design Dome and Auditorium Location: Warren, MI Original Architect: Harley Earl and Eero Saarinen Restoration Team: SmithGroupJJR (See Docomomo US for full list) Client: General Motors Award: Commercial Design Award of Excellence From the jury: “This is the perfect example of how to treat an icon.” Jury member Eric Keune adds, “The renovation demonstrates the great care that was given to the original design team’s vision, while simultaneously bringing the spirit forward with a gentle guiding hand and using contemporary technology. It is noteworthy and commendable that General Motors was willing to invest and upgrade the building for the same use even though the company has continued to transform themselves over time.” Lenox Health Greenwich Village Location: New York, NY Original Architect: Albert C. Ledner Restoration Team: Northwell Health, Perkins Eastman, CANY, Turner Construction, BR+A, Silman, Cerami & Associates, Russell Design, Sam Schwartz, VDA, Langan Engineering, Louis Sgroe Equipment Planning Client: Northwell Health Award: Commercial Design Award of Excellence From the jury: “This beautiful and unique building is an incredible piece of urban architecture whose restoration respectfully honors the building’s original concept while creatively adapting a dramatic structure to a new purpose. This project offers clients and cities alike valuable lessons about the transformative impacts of architecture and design; specifically, the often-surprising elasticity which waits patiently, and at times unexpectedly, in certain works of modern architecture.” Hill College House Renovation Location: Philadelphia, PA Original Architect: Eero Saarinen and Dan Kiley (landscapes) Restoration Team: Mills + Schnoering Architects, LLC (Architecture), Floss Barber Inc. (Interior Design), Keystone Preservation Group (Materials Conservation), OLIN (Landscape Design) (See Docomomo US for full list) Client: University of Pennsylvania Award: Civic/Institutional Design Award of Excellence From the jury: “This project highlights the commitment to restore a beautiful but overlooked campus structure and honors the lasting values found in modern architecture. The work accomplished by the design team not only respects the original vision, but also addresses the needs of students today, improving functionality and gaining a LEED certification – Saarinen for the 21st century.” George Kraigher House Location: Brownsville, TX Original Architect: Richard Neutra Restoration Team: Lawrence V. Lof (Project Lead), Texas Southmost College Client: City of Brownsville and Texas Southmost College – Dr. Juliet V. García, president, and Dr. José G. Martín, provost Award: Residential Design Award of Excellence From the jury: “Restoration of the Kraigher House is a compelling story of the power of public and private partnerships. Beginning with the grassroots advocacy efforts of Ambrosio Villarreal, to the Kraigher House's inclusion on Preservation Texas’ and the National Trust for Historic Preservation's endangered lists, restoration of this rare and significant Neutra residence by the Brownsville community is a strong testament to the power of partnerships.” Imagining the Modern: The Architecture and Urbanism of Postwar Pittsburgh Location: Pittsburgh, PA Project Team: Chris Grimley, Michael Kubo, and Rami el Samahy with Ann Lui, Mark Pasnik, Cameron Longyear, Shannon McLean, Brett Pierson, Andrew Potter, Rebecca Rice, Valny Aoalsteindottir, Silvia Colpani, Lindsay Dumont, and Victoria Pai - over,under (Architects-in-Residence) (See Docomomo US for full list) Client: Heinz Architectural Center, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh Award: Survey/Inventory Award of Excellence From the jury: “This comprehensive and multi-dimensional project established a broad context to understand a cross section of modernism through multiple lenses in the context of a single city. The project team is recognized for this deeply researched and beautifully presented exhibition that encouraged participants to take a fresh look at the architecture and urbanism of postwar Pittsburgh.” Starship Chicago: A Film by Nathan Eddy Location: Chicago, IL Project Team: Nathan Eddy (Director) Award: Advocacy Award of Excellence From the jury: “When most preservation efforts are reactionary, Nathan Eddy has taken a unique and proactive approach and sparked much-needed conversation and action before a building faces demolition. Starship Chicago is thoughtful, beautiful, informative, and engaging and brings to light what a powerful medium film can be.” Tom Little: Georgia Advocacy Location: Atlanta, GA Recipient: Docomomo US/Georgia chapter president Tom Little Award: Advocacy Award of Excellence From the jury: “As a result of Tom’s dedication and advocacy, he has been instrumental in saving a number of significant buildings in the region. As the founding president of the Georgia chapter of Docomomo US, Tom continues to be a steadfast advocate for modern buildings and we acknowledge his dedication in sharing the organization's mission through local leadership and advocacy.” Special Award of Restoration Excellence: Unity Temple   Location: Oak Park, IL Original Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright Restoration Team: Harboe Architects, PC (Restoration Architects), Project Management Advisors, Inc. (Project Management), Berglund Construction Company (Contractor) Client: UTP, LLC From the jury: “This is a comprehensive restoration of one of the canonical and pioneering works of American modern architecture. It allows future generations to not only use, but learn from, and see this building as it was originally designed by Wright.” Citations of Merit: 115, Geotronics Labs Building Location: Dallas, TX Original Architect: Printz and Brooks Restoration Team: DSGN Associates (Architecture), Constructive – Rick Fontenot From the jury: “It is important to call attention to a project that takes a typical, small company office building and revitalizes it as an example to others who may embark upon similar projects.” Jury member Meredith Bzdak added, “This is a well-executed restoration and a good model for the treatment of other modest mid-century buildings like this around the country.” George Washington Bridge Bus Station Location: New York, NY Original Architect: Dr. Pier Luigi Nervi Restoration Team: The Port Authority of NY & NJ – Engineering Department, Architectural Unit, STV, Inc. From the jury: “As bus stations continue to be lynchpins of modern urban transportation infrastructure, the restoration of the GWB Bus Station was thoughtfully executed and serves as an important example of a government agency choosing to invest in the restoration of a significant modern resource instead of opting for new construction.” Lurie House Location: Pleasantville, NY Original Architect: Kaneji Domoto Restoration Team: Lynnette Widder (Lead) (See Docomomo US for full list) From the jury: “This is a beautiful and well-considered renovation done with extreme care and appreciation of environmental efforts as well as the Japanese-American architect’s cultural orientation.” Banking on Beauty: Millard Sheets and Midcentury Commercial Architecture Location: California Project Team: Adam Arenson From the jury: “Arenson’s research has uncovered an extensive legacy of ‘every man modernism’ that was largely unknown and underappreciated, and brings attention to main street architecture with real design value and the impact of individual grassroots efforts.” UC San Diego Campus-wide Historic Context Statement and Historic Resource Survey Location: San Diego, CA Project Team: Architectural Resources Group – Katie E. Horak, Principal, Andrew Goodrich, Associate, Micaela Torres-Gill, Paul D. Turner, PhD, NeuCampus Planning – David Neuman UC San Diego, Physical and Community Planning - Robert Clossin (AICP, Director), Catherine Presmyk (Assistant Director of Environmental Planning), Todd Pitman (Assistant Director and Campus Landscape Architect) (See Docomomo US for full list) Client: UC San Diego  From the jury: “This project is significant because of the ever-increasing pressures universities face in improving their campus building portfolios while maintaining significant architectural resources. The inventory will help better protect these resources and has the potential to educate this particular campus community and other college and university systems across the country.”