U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey has ruled that a lawsuit against Chicago’s proposed Obama Presidential Center (OPC) can proceed, potentially delaying construction by months or even years.
The OPC campus is looking to carve out 19.3 acres from the historic Olmsted and Vaux–designed Jackson Park on Chicago’s South Side. Despite being approved by the Chicago City Council in May of last year, the $500 million project has been held up by a still-pending federal review process and work stoppages at adjacent sites in the park.
Construction on the Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and Interactive Design–planned campus was expected to begin sometime this year, but it seems that community concerns may shake up that timeline. A lawsuit filed against Chicago and the Chicago Park District by the environmental group Protect Our Parks and three others argues that the Obama Foundation’s intrusion into the park, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is illegal. That’s in part because the Center won’t actually be a presidential library.
Instead, the campus will contain a squat, stone-clad museum tower, training center, parking garage, and community hub, as well as a 5,000-square-foot Chicago Public Library offshoot, with President Obama’s archives stored offsite and digitized. That distinction is important, as the OPC will be a privately-run institution instead of a government project and Protect Our Parks has argued that this should invalidate the land transfer from the city to the Obama Foundation. The group isn’t against the construction of the center but would prefer that it be moved somewhere else on the South Side if possible.
The spat is reminiscent of George Lucas’s battle with the public space advocacy group Friends of the Parks in 2016. After a similar lawsuit over the Museum of Narrative Arts and its place on the Lake Michigan waterfront was allowed to proceed, Lucas instead canceled development and shipped the spaceship-like museum out to Los Angeles. Supporters of the OPC have expressed fear that the Obama Foundation may change its plans and leave Chicago if the project is allowed to languish.
“The Obama Foundation and the University of Chicago created this controversy by insisting on the confiscation of public parkland,” said president and CEO of the Cultural Landscape Foundation Charles A. Birnbaum in a statement. “The Obama Foundation could make this issue go away by using vacant and/or city-owned land on the South Side for the Obama Presidential Center (which is planned to be a private facility rather than a presidential library administered by the National Archives), or, better still, land owned by the University of Chicago, which submitted the winning bid to host the Center.”
The OPC was originally expected to open in 2021, but it remains to be seen whether the project will go ahead as planned. Although Protect Our Parks was victorious, Judge Blakey’s ruling only affirms the group’s right to sue, not that their argument is correct.
Texas is adding more people per year than any other state in the country, and with nearly 8 million residents, the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area is the largest urban area in the state. On March 1, The Architect's Newspaper is bringing together architecture and development firms located within the metropolitan area for Facades+ Dallas, a fast-paced dialogue focusing on the region's tremendous growth and the projects reshaping it. Participants include 5G Studio Collaborative, CallisonRTKL, Harwood International, Merriman Anderson Architects, the CDC, L.A. Fuess Partners, Ibanez Shaw, Omniplan, DSGN Associates, Buchanan Architecture, Shipley Architects, Urban Edge Developers.
Lauren Cadieux, associate at 5G Studio Collaborative, and Michael Friebele, associate at CallisonRTKL, are co-chairing the conference.
In the lead up to Facades+ Dallas, AN sat down with Friebele to discuss trends within Dallas and CallisonRTKL's ongoing projects in the area and across the world.
The Architect's Newspaper: To begin with, what facade-led projects are CallisonRTKL up to in Dallas and Texas as a whole?Michael Friebele: We are an interesting office in that we have a long-standing local reach here in Dallas-Fort Worth but also a broad depth of work around the globe. We often find it most interesting for us to take the international experience and find ways to apply those lessons throughout our work back home and likewise in the other direction. The collaboration between offices across CallisonRTKL really makes this possible.
From a conceptual standpoint, our work on a vertical campus in Downtown Dallas took cues from many lessons we have learned abroad, from site response to contextual integration, and paired these attributes with an evolving corporate business model. Ultimately, the concept was shaped around an affordable housing project just to the east of the site, maintaining a view corridor through the gesture of a loop that ultimately became a symbol for the company’s programmatic model. It is one in a line of projects coming up in Texas that we are excited about.
From a facade standpoint, our hospitality group is working on a Grand Hyatt Hotel in Kuwait that is currently under construction. The facade concept of self-shading finds a balance between the harsh climate of the region and the demand for expansive views. The pitch results in the natural placement of photovoltaics with the underside of the bay providing a highly transparent opening with minimal direct solar heat gain. The same team recently completed the core and shell of the Maike Business Center and Grand Hyatt in Xi’an. Here, two towers were linked by a belt truss to limit lateral loads while serving as a critical program link between the hotel and office towers. The facade was a simple extruded, serrated form linked in the middle by a vertical screen that emphasizes the composition.
I am working currently on the design of two China-based projects with quite a range of scale between them. OCT Chengdu is on the larger side with a dominant facade facing a key convergence of traffic in the city. The facade plays into that movement with a series of fins that peel upward to reveal the activity of the mall behind, thus activating what is traditionally a hard face. We have been working further to optimize this system. This project is currently under construction and should be complete in a few years. On the other side of scale, we recently began work on an Audubon Center in Zhengzhou. The concept is about tying program and landscape together underneath an observation ring. We have been working with Thornton Tomasetti on realizing the ring as a completely unsupported element over the waterfront with full height curved glazing that reveals the public behind, as if the visitor were a part of the facade experience. The Zhengzhou project will start in construction in a few months and be complete by the middle of next year.
AN: What unique opportunities and challenges are present for architects and designers in Dallas?
In my opinion, the potential in Dallas is to be proactive rather than reactive toward challenging and evolving typologies but with that comes a certain degree of investment and risk. We can take lessons from two organizations that I believe have had the most impact upon the city in BC Workshop and Better Block. Both groups have been recognized for their innovative approaches to typologies and community engagement. The Cottages at Hickory Crossing is a noted example on the city’s south side.
An engagement of our value as architects and designers to all parties involved in a project, from developer to community, is key, but change will also depend upon us stepping out and trying something without permission. As Dallas further evolves, there is no better place to test and experiment, but we have yet to really commit to that, beyond few examples. In all, it is really getting back to our fundamentals of why we practice this profession and to search for its meaning once again.
AN: Which ongoing Dallas developments do you perceive to be the most exciting in terms of facade innovation and overall impact on the city?
MF: There have been some noted transformations in Downtown Dallas, from work by Architexas on the Joule Hotel, to Merriman Anderson’s work on the Statler Hilton, all the way to more recent conversions of 400 Record by Gensler. Each of these, among others, have defined in many respects the process of historical rehabilitation in Texas, but also have transformed the program in all cases. Almost overnight, there is a developed rhythm toward respecting the past and redefining the urban realm. The Statler and 1401 Elm represent the largest and most challenging cases of preservation in the city. Statler was many years in the making. Historical innovations during the 1950s proved quite challenging in the rehab of the building. The results of maintaining such a celebrated form and period in the rehab are nothing short of a feat. 1401 Elm is currently undergoing its makeover, with the marble currently off-site for rehab. It has stalled a few times during recent years but hopefully, it will become a major contributor once again.
Both projects are a glimpse into a city that is continually working to value its history more and more by the day. With our first panel, we hope to shed further light on this discussion.
Further information regarding Facades+ Dallas may be found here.
Throughout history, many great works of architecture both large and small have been made possible only through incredible feats of engineering and construction. In today’s world—where office and residential towers reach ever-increasing heights, new cities appear in an instant, and stringent safety and structural requirements make building arduous and time-consuming—architects must draw on their experience and know-how to bring innovative new projects to life.
Three recent projects by American architecture firms highlight the lengths designers can go (and heights they can achieve) in pursuit of great design.
Seattle Space NeedleOlson Kundig
The Space Needle in Seattle is a superlative building through and through. Built in 1962, the flying saucer-shaped observation tower was recently renovated by Olson Kundig and a daring team of contractors and engineers, including Hoffman Construction, Arup, Fives Lund, and Magnusson Klemencic Associates.
To achieve their goal of modernizing the structure, the project team had to work delicately to make sure the weight of added and subtracted materials balanced out, while also ensuring that the majority of the new components could be transported up the needle’s two passenger elevators. Beyond these exacting specifications, crews also dealt with a job site located some 500 feet up in the air as they worked to install new panes of glass around the Space Needle’s flying saucer-shaped Top House.
For the project, Hoffman and associated contractors erected a giant covered platform directly underneath the Top House to stage construction activities. The massive structure was lifted into the sky and built out from key hoist points, according to Bob Vincent, project manager at Hoffman. The platform, designed to function more or less like an oil rig deck, was used to stage construction so that workers could access the Space Needle’s Top House from below. The stage created something akin to a massive cocoon around the base of the Top House, and its associated enclosure kept workers protected from the elements.
Vincent said, “With the full enclosure, the workers weren’t freezing and materials didn’t fly around too much. It kept wind and elements out, too. When we were done with the project, we dismantled the ring by bringing in all the components from the edges toward the middle.”
Embassy in Chad
Moore Ruble Yudell Architects
A new American embassy campus in N’Djamena, Chad, by Santa Monica, California–based Moore Ruble Yudell (MRY) posed a different set of construction and site limitations.
Located in a remote region of the country with a small pool of skilled labor, it fell on the design team to create a state-of-the-art building that could be constructed using locally available materials and building techniques. The approach for the technically complex and decidedly low-tech project was to blend simple finishes and off-the-shelf components with the aim of creating lively but humble buildings.
The complex was erected using site-poured concrete walls and modular roof pieces, elements that helped meet the strict security and functional requirements for the embassy. The cementitious walls were then wrapped in exterior rainscreen paneling made up of thin-shell concrete and metal latticework. The lightweight panels, available in standard sizes that could be shipped easily to the site, were chosen to add color and patterning to the pragmatic buildings. In certain areas, including between the main lobby and the cafe, lightweight canopies were strung to create shaded outdoor areas and to collect rainwater. A new, centralized energy plant connected to solar panel arrays was also included in the off-the-grid project.
Mark English Architects
While working on extensive renovations to an existing five-story cliffside home in the San Francisco Bay, Mark English Architects (MEA) was only able to deliver construction materials and remove debris via floating barge.
With the closest road nearly 200 feet away from the waterfront home and accessible only by steep stairs and a cable car funicular, the design and construction team had to rent several barges to undertake the project.
Located on the bayside face of Sausalito, MEA’s Alexander Residence is conceived of as a getaway spot for a client with an extensive art and furniture collection. For the renovation, MEA and GFDS Engineers worked to open up the 1970s-era home by removing some of the unnecessary interior partitions that marked its original pinwheel design. Along the lowest level, for example, facing the house’s private dock, a closed-off bedroom and living area were combined to create a studio apartment. Farther up, a home office, living room, and kitchen were united to form a great room–style arrangement with an elevated dining room, pass-through kitchen, and living area oriented around multimillion-dollar views of downtown San Francisco, Angel Island, and Alcatraz.
“We rebuilt the house from inside out,” principal Mark English explained. “Everything we demoed, including the roofing, old doors and windows, and drywall, had to go out through the dock by barge.” The same was true for all of the replacement materials coming in, including new lengths of structural steel that were added for seismic resiliency and to transfer loads over some of the new window openings. For these elements, the contractors added a crane to the barge that was then used to lift the steel beams into place.
English added, “We talked to two or three builders before settling on Landmark Builders. The others would inevitably bring up how difficult and expensive it would be to do this project. Luckily, we eventually found someone who thought it would be interesting to take on this out-of-the-ordinary project.”
Italian architect, designer, and two-time editor-in-chief of Domus Alessandro Mendini has passed away at the age of 87.
Mendini was born in Milan in 1931 and was a key figure in the resurgence of Italian design after World War II. Mendini founded Atelier Mendini in 1987 with his brother and collaborator Francesco, and they achieved international acclaim for their work with Swatch, Cartier, and other companies.
Known as a sculptor, painter, architect, journalist, and designer of furniture, products, and interiors, Mendini was lauded for his playful use of color and sense of proportion. His talent eventually led to collaborations with both domestic Italian designers and large multinational firms, such as Supreme in 2016. Mendini was awarded the European Prize for Architecture in 2014, as well as the 2003 Medaglia d’Oro all’Architettura Italiana and the 2006 Villegiature Award.
Mendini’s interests extended to architecture as well, and as Domus noted in his biography, he “designed the Groninger Museum (1988-1994, 2010) the Alessi factories and the Omegna Museum-Forum (1996), the Teatrino della Bicchieraia in Arezzo (1998), the urban regeneration of the Maghetti district in Lugano (1998), the renovation of the Termini Station in Rome (1999), the restoration of the Villa Comunale (1999) and three stations in the Naples underground network (2000), as well as the new exhibition space and the new branch of the Milan Triennale in Incheon, South Korea (2008-2009).”
Toronto’s interconnected “smart neighborhood” is inching ever closer to reality. Sidewalk Labs has released a batch of new renderings from Snøhetta and Heatherwick Studio, as well as documents detailing how the company plans to pay for the ground-up development.
Sidewalk Labs’ Quayside waterfront Toronto neighborhood is being touted as a smart, interconnected, “100 percent timber” development. In a February 14 Medium post, the company released a progress report detailing its progress before the finalization of its draft Master Innovation and Development Plan.
One proposal that’s drawing flak is an arrangement where Sidewalk Labs would build infrastructure such as light rail on the site in exchange for a share of the revenue generated by increased property values—diverting tax revenue from public coffers. Sidewalk Labs claims the arrangement would allow the neighborhood to rise “years, if not decades, sooner than it would otherwise. This would unlock the potential of the Eastern Waterfront, and the jobs, housing, and economic growth that will come with it.”
The company also clarified how many units of housing it would be building in the neighborhood, which would contain 12 mass timber towers. The project will adhere to the site’s existing zoning and will be 90 percent residential. That means 2,500 units total, 1,000 of which would be rented at below-market rates, and 50 percent of which would be “purpose-built rental apartments.” Half of the below-market housing would be affordable (and a quarter of that marked as “deeply affordable”) and the other half would be designated for middle-income earners.
To meet the high demand for timber that the 12-acre project requires, Sidewalk Labs has announced that they would build a tall-timber factory in Ontario, which would supply up to 4,000 new jobs.
Google’s 600,000-to-one-million-square-foot Canadian headquarters could also be in the making on the western side of Villiers Island along the planned light rail loop. Retail, an educational component, and amenities are likely headed to the campus as well.
The neighborhood will also become a testbed for innovative urban technologies. Other than the weather-responsive “skirts” deployed at the open-air bases of each building, the entire project will be networked with high-speed Wi-Fi. A civic data trust would be responsible for removing identifying markers from any information gathered and aggregating it.
On the design side, Michael Green Architecture has developed a mass timber kit-of-parts, and Snøhetta and Heatherwick Studio have designed building concepts for the campus, innovation zone, common areas, and other spaces. Of note are the “scalloped” balconies found throughout the residential developments and post-and-beam styled open-air “stoas” at the base of each tower. The design will continue to change as Sidewalk Labs solicits feedback from stakeholders, the Canadian and provincial government, and Alphabet, Sidewalk Labs' parent company.
The entire presentation can be viewed here.
New York’s Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX) is still alive and inching toward realization. Today the de Blasio administration awarded a $7.25 million contract to national land-use and transportation planning consultants VHB to oversee the waterfront streetcar project’s Environmental Impact Study (EIS).
Questions over the $2.7 billion streetcar route’s feasibility have plagued the light rail project since the beginning. Officials still haven't released the exact route or said how the city would recoup the money needed for construction. Last August, Mayor de Blasio admitted that at least $1 billion would be needed from the federal government and that using the “value-capture” model (collecting increased tax revenue as the BQX boosted property values along its route) wasn’t wholly feasible. The route was shortened to 26 stops along 11 miles, from Astoria in Queens to Gowanus in Brooklyn, cutting out Sunset Park farther south, and the opening date got pushed back from 2024 to 2029.
All had gone quiet since then, but speculation flared that Amazon could potentially chip in for the system after the tech giant announced that it would be building a second headquarters in Long Island City. That seems to have been confirmed by Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, who pointed to the boom in investment along the Queens-Brooklyn waterfront as proof that new modes of public transport across the two boroughs were needed. The city expects that the BQX will accommodate 50,000 daily riders when it first opens and 60,000-to-90,000 riders by 2050.
”For some reason, everybody thinks we are not serious but we have always been serious,” Glen told the Wall Street Journal. “The mayor wouldn’t have re-endorsed and announced we were moving forward if we weren’t moving forward.”
The nonprofit group Friends of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector lauded the contract award as well, calling it a clear commitment on the part of the de Blasio administration to moving the project through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).
With the EIS on track for completion in 2020, the BQX project will move to the next stage of the ULURP by the end of 2021. The city hopes that the project will begin construction by 2024.
OLINhas been tapped to design a 400-acre park along the northern shore of the Ohio River in southern Indiana. Set within a swath of waterfront long-occupied by landfill and industrial facilities, the future park will give local residents a much-needed connection with the river and its history, while boosting the area’s link to Louisville, Kentucky.Though no design details have been released yet, OLIN partner Lucinda Sanders said the plan, spearheaded by the River Heritage Conservancy, will tie into both sides of the Ohio River. In doing this, the park will serve 1.2 million residents within a 30-mile radius, including those living in the adjacent Indiana towns of Jeffersonville, Clarksville, and New Albany.A slew of brownfield sites, landfills, wetlands, and river camps currently encompass the massive parcel of land, which also sits within a FEMA 100-year floodplain and is bounded by a large levee that was built after a devastating flood in 1937. Sanders said OLIN will pay homage to the river and the site’s complex past. “We have a lot to work with here,” she said. “This park is already a 21st-century park in every way, shape, and form due to the conditions that are presently there.”After investigating the entirety of the site, the design team will intervene with a major remediation effort and then integrate a landscape design that will call attention to its unique context, while also acting as a buffer against future flooding. In a statement, Sanders said the park won’t be “just a public amenity, but...a purveyor of resilience. The mighty Ohio River creates the awe of this site. But it also has to be given the respect it deserves.”“You’ve got this amazing quantity of land situated within an urban environment that’s also lying in a severe flood zone,” Sanders told AN. “The fact that it’s also been so highly manipulated through the abuses of human activity, and that it contains a rich history for the region make it incredibly compelling.” When complete, the parkland will tie residents to one another and to the abundant natural and historical resources that populate the region. It will sit downstream from the Falls of the Ohio State Park and the original home of George Rogers Clark, a Revolutionary War hero. It will also be a key element of the new Ohio River Greenway, a seven-mile linear park that’s currently under construction. On a larger scale, the parkland will connect southern Indiana with the Louisville region’s vast park system, much of which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. OLIN’s design will link people to the Big Four Bridge, an old railroad truss bridge that reopened to the public as a pedestrian and bicycle throughway in 2013, and allow them to cross over into the River City. According to Sanders, OLIN is eager to dive head-on into the challenging project thanks to such widespread local support.“This community knows great parks, and they know great design,” she said. “We see a tremendous ambition in the expansion of this regional park network and are excited by the possibilities.” OLIN hopes to unveil ideas for the site after conducting a thorough analysis with local collaborators over the next nine months.
One Manhattan Square, an 800-foot-tall glass tower in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, is at the center of a grassroots battle against displacement. Designed by Adamson Associates, the Extell Development–backed skyscraper threatens to push out throngs of immigrants and longtime local residents who call the area home.It’s a common story found in the ever-evolving city, but this particular narrative possesses one distinct difference: It’s location. Since much of New York’s luxury residential building boom has focused on expanding Hudson Yards, buffing up Billionaires’ Row, and readying Long Island City for Amazon’s HQ2, the Lower East Side has been somewhat unaffected by such large-scale development. Until now.A series of sky-high apartment buildings, starting with the nearly-complete One Manhattan Square (also called Extell Tower), is slated to dot the Lower East Side waterfront enclave known as Two Bridges. Four planned towers are in the works, although One Manhattan square is the only one currently under construction. The surrounding community is predominantly composed of Chinese immigrants and working-class people, a major reason why the city designated the neighborhood a Large-Scale Residential Development (LSRD) area in 1972, which protects and promotes affordable and mixed-income housing for residents.According to Zishun Ning, leader of the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side, the proposed high-end projects violate the LSRD, which requires that all new developments secure approval from the City Planning Commission or receive special permits through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) process. Ning argued the city's decision to move forward with the Two Bridges development is therefore illegal, and indicative of discrimination from the mayoral administration. Not only is it politically fraught, according to Ning, it's socially irresponsible. The towers are situated within a three-block radius of each other and will sit near NYCHA housing. One will cantilever over an existing senior center and another, One Manhattan Square, will feature a “poor door,” as the coalition calls it, for the building’s affordable housing residents. Yesterday a slew of protestors gathered at the 80-story tower and marched to City Hall in opposition to the plan. Ning said the day’s event, officially titled the March to Reclaim the City, was the coalition’s latest attempt to get Mayor de Blasio’s attention. “We’re not against development,” Ning said, “we just want some regulation and future development that fits our community.”Last fall the group submitted an alternative proposal to the commission in which the neighborhood could be rezoned for more appropriate use. They integrated height restrictions on new construction and called for 100 percent affordable housing on public land. Ning said their efforts were ignored, and in early December, the commission approved a special building permit submitted by the developers. The commission said the projects only presented a “minor modification” to Two Bridges’ zoning law and that a full Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) process would not be required. “It’s evident that racism plays into the city’s zoning policies,” said Ning. “They rezone communities of colors for the interests of developers. We call out the city’s illegal approval, along with Mayor de Blasio’s collusion with developers to approve these towers and deny our plan that came out of a democratic process. We want to reclaim our democracy and control as a community.” History has seen many local working groups stand up against giant developers and influential politicians, but, according to Ning, there needs to be more support from area architects to help such groups envision a bigger, more inclusive picture for their neighborhoods.A new collective of aspiring architects and non-architects interested in the field, citygroup, wants to do just that. The organization aims to become a young social and political voice for the architecture industry. Members gather periodically for informal debates on serious topics like the need for affordable housing in New York, the nature of architectural expertise, and architects’ tricky relationship with real estate developers.The group's inaugural exhibition, set up inside its new space on the Lower East Side, details various visions of One Manhattan Square that imagine a more useful development for the local community. “We wanted to rethink the Extell Tower as something that isn’t as foreign to this neighborhood as it is now,” said Michael Robinson Cohen of citygroup. “It’s built on a plinth and houses mostly luxury apartments. We asked ourselves, How could we recreate the tower for different uses or for a diverse group of inhabitants?” The exhibition centers on a series of 21 drawings done by different citygroup members. These individual visions, expressed within the confines of the building’s plan, feature different ways to reuse the tower’s 1.2 million square feet of space. Some pictured it as pure parkland, others cut it up into a grid of 3-meter-by-3-meter apartments. One strips away the idea that a housing complex must cater to the traditional single-family home by creating personally-designed apartments outfitted for everyone from single moms to yoga teachers, a Russian oligarch, a cat lady, and even a family of five.Thinking critically about megaprojects like One Manhattan Square, according to Robinson Cohen, allows architects to investigate the best ways for new developments to improve a community, instead of displacing residents and stripping away the character of a neighborhood. “Much like the coalition, we’re for challenging the tower, but are not against development in general,” he said. “Obviously, as architects, we want to build and it’s clear the city needs more housing, but to us it’s important to think about the people these developments serve.” To Ning, the architect’s mission isn’t far from that of the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side. He says the two parties can work together to imagine developments that engage with local residents rather than taking away access to light and air. “We actually encourage architects to put their creativity into building things that benefit the community,” Ning said. “But in order for that to happen, we first need to fight the city.” A new lawsuit against the City was just brought on by the Lower East Side Organized Neighbors in opposition to the development. The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) is slated to support with future litigation efforts. Until then, the City is still contending with another lawsuit calling for the towers to go through the ULURP process, initiated by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson last month.“These towers are just one piece of a bigger picture,” noted Ning. “If 3,000 units are added to the neighborhood, the demographics will change and the land value will rise. Harassment and eviction will escalate. This is happening all over New York City. It’s segregation, and it’s very visual.” Walk-throughs of citygroup’s exhibition are available upon request through early February at 104b Forsyth Street. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for hours.
Can one of the world’s oldest building materials form the foundation of a sensor-integrated “smart” neighborhood? Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk Labs is making a go of it on the Toronto waterfront, and has enlisted wood advocates and Katerra partner Michael Green Architecture (MGA) to design flexible, mixed-use timber buildings for its 3-million-square-foot Quayside project.
If the 12-acre site is developed as planned, it would become the largest timber project in the world.
The ground-up development in Quayside is leaning on mass timber because Sidewalk Labs has touted the material as sustainable and as tough as steel, as well as because cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels work well in prefabricated structures. MGA has designed a kit-of-parts that can be used for buildings of every scale, and Sidewalk Labs is reportedly looking at constructing a collection of 12 mass timber towers, with the tallest topping out at 30 stories.
Sidewalk Labs is aiming to build within Quayside’s existing zoning, which would entail 90 percent residential development.
The neighborhood will encourage street-level interaction through a combination of design and environmental control. MGA has anchored the base of each building with a “stoa,” or an open-air covered walkway supported by a colonnade (in this case, V-shaped heavy timber columns) that will contain retail and communal gathering places.
Of course, Toronto’s winters are especially punishing, and doubly so on the waterfront. Sidewalk Labs tapped the architecture studio PARTISANS to design an “outdoor comfort toolkit,” including a computer-controlled retractable canopy that will clad the stoas. The umbrella-like structures will block out wind, rain, and snow while heated pavers will keep snow off of the streets; the company claims that both advancements will double the amount of time residents will be able to spend outdoors.
Beyer Blinder Belle is responsible for the site’s master plan and Toronto-based PUBLIC WORK will be designing the landscape. Sidewalk Labs also reached out to the Ontario-based gh3*, Toronto’s Teeple Architects, and Toronto-based Dubbeldam Architecture + Design to create residential unit concepts. Sidewalk Labs will submit its final Master Innovation and Development Plan for public comment sometime this spring.
The third annual Ice Breakers Exhibition has returned to the Toronto’s downtown waterfront, dropping five public installations across the edge of Queens Quay West. Ice Breakers is a collaborative public art experience jointly presented by the temporary arts advancement nonprofit Winter Stations, Waterfront Business Improvement Area, and PortsToronto, the Toronto port authority.
This year’s Ice Breakers presents four winning designs from a variety of international teams, as well as a student entry from Ryerson University. The theme for the 2019 exhibition was “Signal Transmission,” and appropriately enough, each installation evokes sending or receiving a message.
All five of the public pavilions for Ice Breakers were installed on January 19 and will remain on display through February 24.
Chroma Key Protest, from Andrew Edmundson, principal of the Toronto-based Solve Architects Inc, references the language of protest. Twenty-five wooden buoys have been clustered and given blank signboards in chroma key green, the same color used in green screens. By appropriating the mechanisms of protesting but leaving the “signs” a color that can be anything, Edmundson invites visitors to project their own grievances onto the installation.
Stellar Spectra, from the Toronto-based duo of Rob Shostak and Dionisios Vriniotis, is split into two occupiable pavilions. Each captures and refracts starlight through the dozens of tubes that make up the structure of Stellar Spectra, flooding each of the “lighthouses” with warm and cool-colored light.
Connector, from the Hamburg, Germany–based Alexandra Griess and Jorel Heid, at first glance resembles a jumble of wires. That’s intentional, as the designers sought to reference the birds’ nests of communication wires that arose at the beginning of long-distance transmissions. Each of the mouthpieces corresponds to another, but participants will have to hunt for the appropriate end if they want to have a conversation.
Tweeta-Gate, from Eleni Papadimitriou and Stefanos Ziras, founders of the Athens, Greece–based Space Oddity Studios (SOS), invites visitors to embark on an audiovisual journey. The series of yellow gates, made from painted wood and joined by metal connectors, are cut into shapes reminiscent of architectural styles from all over the world. Each gate is adorned with bells that can be activated by passersby, or the sway of the wind and natural elements.
Tripix, the student submission from Ryerson University, seems purpose-made for the Instagram crowd. The faceted, panelized structure uses a high-contrast color scheme, red-on-white, to draw attention to its central pillar. An appropriate scheme, considering the goal of the exhibition is to get Toronto residents off the couch and into the snow.
In California’s Long Beach, a new biomorphic mass has surfaced along the waterfront. The semi-reflective blue structure is not a beached endangered species, but the Esherick Homsey Dodge and Davis (EHDD)–designed Pacific Visions wing of the Aquarium of the Pacific. The 29,000-square-foot project, which is set for a May 2019 public opening, features a triple-laminated glass facade rain screen subject to three different treatments.
Unlike the preexisting wing of the Aquarium of the Pacific, the newly designed Pacific Visions places an emphasis on curatorial spaces—the facility will hold an art gallery, exhibition space, and an immersive theater. In effect, the internal program requires a black box experience to function accordingly.
ManufacturerWoodbridge Glass Inc.
Sentech Architectural Systems
InstallerWoodbridge Glass Inc.
Seeing as daylight is not needed for the wing’s interior spaces, glass was not the immediate choice for their facade cladding. Working with Buro Happold Consulting Engineers, EHDD experimented with a range of different materials following a planar cladding system envisioned as a continuous sinuous surface. According to the design team, they decided on “a completely unique glass assembly to evoke the effect of light on water, its depth, variability, and luminosity.”
The dynamic visual qualities of the glass paneling system rely on a trio of layered treatments by California manufacturer Pulp Studio. The manufacturer produced the glass panels over the course of four months, shipping them on A-frames to installer Woodbridge Glass Inc. Bernard Lax, founder of Pulp Studio, referred to the fabrication process as an "exercise in frustration," owing to the complexity in producing hundreds of unique glass panels with highly particular treatments.
“The innermost layer incorporates a subtle reflective finish that picks up changing light conditions and modulates the hue of the tinted middle layer,” said EHDD Senior Associate Quyen Luong, “the outer layer is made of low-iron, acid-etched glass, which eliminates direct reflection of the sky by diffusing light.”
In total, the facade features over 800 unique glass panels encompassing a surface area of approximately 18,000 square feet. EHDD worked with Sentech Architectural Systems to custom design an open-joint steel aluminum carrier frame painted with a stringent resistant coating. Fixing the cladding in place without disrupting the sinuous surface of the facade remained a stylistic obstacle for the project—the city of Long Beach requires all facade panels to be mechanically secured regardless of any use of structural silicone.
The design team took this challenge head-on by tapering the profile and size of the facade clips and examining their potential layout throughout the enclosure system. Through methodical research and adaptation, EHDD Senior
Associate Katherine Miller notes "the retention clips add a sense of scale and rhythm. What was initially considered a compromise resulted in an opportunity to add another level of articulation to the faceted geometry of the facade."
Quyen Luong will be presenting EHDD's Pacific Visions on February 7 at Facades+ San Francisco.