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Keep Your Ion This, Houston

Rice University taps SHoP Architects for an innovation center in Houston
An 80-year-old former Sears department store will be transformed into a multi-level innovation center and business incubator for Houston, Texas, under a plan unveiled by Rice University. The 270,000-square-foot project is designed to bring students, professors, and entrepreneurs together with corporate leaders and investors, and to provide the centerpiece for a 16-acre innovation district in midtown Houston. Besides classrooms for students and workspace for start-up companies, there will be areas for lectures, conferences, hack-a-thons, demonstrations, job training, and networking events, as well as restaurants and other amenities. Rice has assembled four high-profile designers to repurpose the 1939 flagship department store, keeping salient Art Deco features while modifying the building for 21st-century occupants. Designers include SHoP Architects, James Carpenter Design Associates, James Corner Field Operations, and the Houston office of Gensler. The four-story building on Main Street was the first Sears store in Houston and closed in January of 2018 as part of the retailer’s nationwide retrenchment. Part of a 9.4-acre tract that was offered to Amazon as part of Houston’s bid to be selected for that company’s second headquarters, it’s close to seven colleges and universities, a METRORail line, the Texas Medical Center, and the city’s Museum District. When Houston didn’t make Amazon’s short list of 20 regions under consideration as of January of 2018, it became available for other uses. Amazon later chose northern Virginia and New York City as sites where it will split its second headquarters. In advance of its transformation, the Sears building in Houston has been renamed The Ion. “We chose the name Ion because it’s from the Greek ienai, which means go,” said Rice University president David Leebron, in a statement on Rice’s website. “We see it as embodying the ever-forward motion of discovery, the spark at the center of a truly original idea…The Ion will become Houston’s nucleus for innovation, fostering a community and culture where entrepreneurs and corporations come together to solve some of the world’s greatest problems.” “The Ion will inspire open innovation between universities, global corporations and investors,” said Gabriela Rowe, the CEO of Station Houston, a tech accelerator that will manage programming, in a statement about the project. “Students and faculty members from institutions like Rice University and the University of Houston will coexist and collaborate with scientists from Houston’s other great institutions. Investors and corporations will meet face to face with start-up entrepreneurs. Together, at The Ion, they will transform Houston into a thriving, connected high-tech ecosystem.” Besides Rice, officials say, institutions that will be involved with programming include the University of Houston, UH-Downtown, the University of St. Thomas, Houston Community College, Texas Southern University, Houston Baptist University, San Jacinto College, and the South Texas College of Law. Architectural plans call for retention of original Art Deco elements such as glass block windows, canopies, and decorative tiles that date back to the store’s opening. A central atrium will be created to let in natural light, and new windows will be installed to provide views that weren’t possible before and provide glimpses of the activity inside. The larger innovation district will include housing, stores, restaurants, public spaces, and infrastructure that will support a growing tech community. The Ion project will be led by Rice Management Company, which manages Rice University’s endowment, and Hines of Houston is managing the development. An exact construction budget has not been disclosed, but Rice Management officials said in 2018 they will invest up to $100 million for the project. Construction is expected to start in May and be complete by the end of 2020.
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Fjell Respite

These rock-like Norwegian cabins keep hikers warm under timber panels
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In 2015, the Norwegian Trekking Association announced a decision to construct two warming huts along the mountains that ring the town of Hammerfest to encourage hiking for both residents and tourists. The project brief called for a straightforward structure with a working wood-burning stove, an excellent view of the surrounding landscape, and suitability for the mountainous terrain. Norwegian-based practice SPINN Arkitekter and Britain’s Format Engineers answered this call with a cross-laminated timber shell with exterior Kebony panels.
  • Facade Manufacturer Aanesland Limtre
  • Architects SPINN Arkitekter
  • Facade Consultants FORMAT Engineers
  • Location Hammerfest, Norway
  • Date of Completion December 2018
  • System Cross-laminated timber frame with Kebony panels
  • Products Cross-laminated timber, Kebony wood
One of the initial challenges of the project was to design a form that both blended in with the rugged setting and endure the harsh mountainous weather conditions. The first step in addressing these conditions called for the 3-D mapping of the two sites with a drone and photogrammetry software. With this territorial information plugged into Rhino Kangaroo and Grasshopper files, the team was able to craft a series of visual models for the project and a series of components that could be easily transported across the mountainous terrain for erection. "Snow simulations were performed to ensure that the entrance will remain snow-free as intended," said the design team. "Structural forces between the panels were determined to specify the correct type of screws and fasteners for the construction. Additionally, 3-D printing was used extensively to test out how the construction would fit together, and to test cladding options for the exterior." The rock-like cabins effectively consist of three layers: a 3-inch-thick CLT shell, a 1/8-inch-thick membrane, and a Kebony skin with a thickness measuring just under 1 inch. A system of frames and blocks are located between the exterior cladding and the CLT core. Two sets of 3.5-inch-thick screws are found on each tile edge, connecting to adjacent tiles and the overall structure. An initial prototype of the $100,000 cabin was constructed in a controlled warehouse environment to allow for the uninterrupted testing of component assembly. Over the course of four workdays, two groups of volunteers assembled the cabin's shell and cut the cladding panels. Following construction, the cabin was split in two and transported via flatbed truck to the site and craned into position for final assembly. Construction of the second cabin is currently in the works.
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Like a Blossoming Tree

Herzog & de Meuron reveals revamped Vancouver Art Gallery
Herzog & de Meuron has finalized the design of the 300,000-square-foot Vancouver Art Gallery and has released new renderings of the top-heavy timber building. The $350 million arts complex in Vancouver, Canada, also has a new name. After a $40 million private donation from the Chan family on January 23, the Vancouver Art Gallery (the organization responsible for the building’s programming) announced that the building would be renamed the Chan Centre for the Visual Arts. The gift is the largest single private donation in the history of British Columbia and has brought the amount raised for the building to $85 million. That marks an important figure as the provincial government has pledged that it would donate $50 million if the Vancouver Art Gallery were able to raise $100 million in private funds. The newly-revealed design for the Chan Centre presents an airy update to the scheme that was initially presented in 2015. Herzog & de Meuron has kept the stacked, seven-story massing, but replaced the opaque timber facade with fluted glass screens that are supposed to resemble stacked logs. The building rises from a narrow footprint to cut down on its impact on the street and create a covered open-air courtyard at ground level. The arts center expands as it rises, creating covered areas protected from the summer sun and winter rain and snow. It appears that Herzog & de Meuron has leaned more heavily into timber than in the original scheme, using wood for a majority of the interior finishes, columns, and supportive elements. Once complete, the center will hold classrooms, 85,000 square feet of gallery spaces, a theater, reading rooms, shops, and restaurants. Even the building’s location is hub-like; it lies at the intersection of the Downtown Vancouver, East Vancouver, Chinatown, Yaletown, and Gastown neighborhoods. “The project for the new Vancouver Art Gallery has a civic dimension that can contribute to the life and identity of the city,” said senior Herzog & de Meuron partner Christine Binswanger, “in which many artists of international reputation live and work. The building now combines two materials, wood and glass, both inseparable from the history and making of the city. We developed a facade out of glass logs which is pure, soft, light, establishing a unique relation to covered wooden terraces all around the building.” Fundraising is ongoing, with the Vancouver Art Gallery looking to raise $300 million for the building’s construction and $50 million to establish an endowment. If all goes as planned, construction is expected to start either late this year or in early 2020, with an opening planned for some time in 2023. Perkins+Will Vancouver is the project’s executive architects.
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FBI Knockin’?

Work stops on one of L.A.’s biggest construction projects
Construction on one of the largest projects under construction in Downtown Los Angeles, Oceanwide Plaza, has ground to a halt, according to The Los Angeles Times. The unexpected stoppage comes as the three-tower, CallisonRTKL-designed hotel, shopping, and residential complex was heading toward a mid-2019 completion date. According to The Times, the developer, a publicly-traded Chinese conglomerate known as Oceanwide Holdings, has indicated that financing troubles are behind the construction delay. According to a statement, Oceanwide is currently working to shore up the project’s finances and expects to start construction again in one month. More ominously, however, it’s believed that the project is somehow entangled in an ongoing political corruption probe that has scandalized the Los Angeles political establishment. According to The Times, federal investigators have inquired about the Oceanwide project in relation to possible crimes including bribery, extortion, money laundering, and kickbacks that could potentially involve City of Los Angeles officials and other development executives. No one has been formally arrested or charged in the investigation, however, and several other developments are also facing inquiries from federal authorities. The FBI raided the home and offices of Los Angeles city councilmember Jose Huizar in December as news of the probe surfaced. In the weeks since, the investigation has grown as another sitting city councilmember and several officials tied to Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti’s administration have come under scrutiny. Huizar, who oversees much of Downtown Los Angeles and was a voting member on the city’s powerful Planning and Land-Use Management (PLUM) committee, was stripped of key appointments in the fallout from the investigation. While he sat on the PLUM committee, Huizar made several controversial decisions that included a critical vote against granting Historic-Cultural Monument status to the William L. Pereira–designed portions of the Times Mirror Square complex, the historic home of The Los Angeles Times. At the time, Curbed reported, Huizar referred to the Late Modern structure as “an ordinary example” of Pereira’s work that did not merit recognition. Huizar is also behind Pershing Square Renew, an effort that would scrape away Pershing Square park in Downtown Los Angeles designed byRicardo Legoretta, Laurie Olin, and Barbara McCarren. With exterior work on Oceanwide Plaza nearly complete and interior work started on the project, it’s unclear that a short-term work stoppage will have much of an impact on the project’s final completion. A statement from the developer indicates that if construction resumes in February the project should wrap up sometime during 2020.
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Slide Into Those DMs

New social network wants to change how young AEC professionals connect
As a new generation of freshly minted architects, engineers, and construction professionals enter the field, one company is trying to get ahead of the curve with a social network for people who “shape our cities.” Named Ticco, after the nearly 10,000-year-old Norwegian tree Old Tjikko, the social network is designed for Gen Z and Millennial AEC professionals, as well as others who need their expertise. The project is the brainchild of Katie Rispoli Keaotamai, who previously led the California nonprofit We Are the Next and made the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 40 Under 40 list last year. She is perhaps most famous for her successful attempt in 2015 to preserve the first Taco Bell. Ticco, which is being developed with the design studio Each + Every, could be seen as an extension of the work of We Are the Next, which apart from historic preservation, leads workshops with youth to help them engage with natural and urban landscapes and the communities that surround them. Ticco hopes to bridge gaps between siloed AEC professions by encouraging communication and collaboration. The company also wants the broader community to see what the next generation is thinking, and encourage greater access and diversity within these fields. The goal, said Keaotamai, is that “professionals who positively build and shape cities will interact when they want to, and not just when they have to.” She goes on to say that she believes the network “has the potential to change the way we as AEC professionals understand one another, initiate working relationships, and approach problems in the built environment.” Much like existing social media, Ticco will give users their own customized profiles and feeds, which will include content from those they follow and other content from across the platform. While members can follow other users and can like content, those metrics aren’t publicly displayed, doing away with sometimes toxic aspects of social media. Ticco intends to use likes to adjust what content gets highlighted to other users. And, of course, there will be individual and group messaging. That platform will also encourage groups that serve the public, like government agencies and community organizations, to pair with members who have particular expertise in order to “affordably kick-start projects that aim to make their city safer, more accessible, and more fun to live in.” There will be membership fees, which the company says will be about a third less than those of typical professional organizations, and, as the company points out, Ticco’s resources will be available all day every day, rather than just at select conferences or networking events. Additionally, for each person who joins, the company will donate $25 “to support educational initiatives and internships that help diversify our members’ professions.” The company will also branch out with retreats, discussions, and partnerships, the first of which will take place next month in Long Beach, California. Ticco is accepting applications for its first 100 spots, which are open to anyone in AEC-related fields with between 2 and 15 years of experience.
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A Portrait of the Architect as a Wood Model

Níall McLaughlin’s 2018 Venice Biennale model finds a temporary home in London
While the U.K. parliament was voting down their prime minister’s Brexit deal with the E.U., London’s architecture world crowded into the Art Deco Jarvis Hall of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Ignoring the overheated political debacle taking place a mile away, they went there instead to celebrate the homecoming of Níall McLaughlin’s 2018 Venice Biennale model. The event was sold out and the institution’s Facebook page showed individuals begging for tickets as if for a music or sports event. But people did not just come to see this installation that will be on display from January 10 to 28—they came to hear Níall speak to them of architecture, culture, nature, and light. He is a storyteller: the poetics of his language seeping into his architecture and vice versa, infusing each other within a reciprocal process. The "Presences" installation now on display in RIBA’s Florence Hall in a large and beautifully crafted circular table that can rotate. It is devised as a gigantic horizontal sundial and the models of McLaughlin’s buildings sit atop a reflective blue expanse imprinted with constellations of stars. Surrounding this are inscriptions of the yearly rhythms as a calendar of activities that are performed in cyclical repetition within these buildings like a medieval Book of Hours. The sun is simulated from a structure above to which lights are attached and as the visitors crank the massive wooden mechanism, the models that sit on top of what could be read as either an inverted celestial expanse or a dark blue sea, are flooded with the undulating light of a rising and setting sun. The models are all made of blond wood as skeletal abstractions of their different functions and locations: The Garden Theatre in Oxford’s Worcester College and a Song School in Cambridge’s Trinity Hall, a teaching chapel in Ripon College in Cuddesdon, a new castle hall for Bishop Auckland with its watchtower inspired by a wooden bulwark, the Rugby Veterans’ Hall in Limerick, and finally a fish-and-chip shop on the Deal Pier. These designs crisscross the British Isles, representing their cultures in beautiful diversity. What they have in common is that they are all spaces of community and congregation. McLaughlin has treated each with the same sensitivity, learning from the complexities of the individual sites, their people, histories, and geographical idiosyncrasies, not shirking from this challenge but instead drawing inspiration from them. This is site-specific architecture at its best. The problem with exhibitions is that they only last for a short time and then are gone. At the Venice Biennale this model stood in the Arsenale as a temporary spectacle of learning and inspiration. Now back in London we can see it for ourselves for the next few weeks, but what then? Where will this elegiac creature telling through architecture stories about the cycles of civilization and identity finally be allowed to call home?
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Post-Prattural

Pratt exhibition looks at architecture of the Anthropocene
A show now up at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery gathers the work of over 40 architects who have considered what architecture could look like in a future world where the built environment is no longer centered around humanity. In a statement, the show's organizers referred to this new era as the Anthropocene, when "humans have been fundamentally displaced from a place of privilege, philosophically as well as experientially, and Western civilization’s traditional distinctions between nature and culture have eroded." The show asks, "What new worlds, and what new concepts of nature and culture can art and design reveal that other modes of inquiry and knowledge cannot?" Ambiguous Territory: Architecture, Landscape, and the Postnatural, which opened last December and will be on view through February 7 was curated by Cathryn Dwyre, adjunct associate professor at Pratt Institute and principal of pneumastudio, Chris Perry, associate professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and principal of pneumastudio, David Salomon, assistant professor at Ithaca College, and Kathy Velikov, associate professor at the University of Michigan and principal of RVTR. The show was organized by the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan. Exhibitors include Ellie Abrons, Paula Gaetano Adi & Gustavo Crembil, amid.cero9, Amy Balkin, Philip Beesley, Ursula Biemann, The Bittertang Farm, Edward Burtynsky, Bradley Cantrell, Brian Davis, Design Earth, Mark Dion, Lindsey french, Formlessfinder, Adam Fure, Future Cities Lab, Michael Geffel, Geoarchitecture @ Westminster, Geofutures @ Rensselaer Architecture, Harrison Atelier, Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, Lisa Hirmer, Lydia Kallipoliti & Andreas Theodoridis, Perry Kulper, Sean Lally, Landing Studio, Lateral Office & LCLA, LiquidFactory, Meredith Miller & Thom Moran, NaJa & deOstos, NEMESTUDIO, Mark Nystrom, Office for Political Innovation, OMG, The Open Workshop, pneumastudio, Rachele Riley, Alexander Robinson, RVTR, Smout Allen, smudge studio, Neil Spiller, Terreform ONE, Unknown Fields, and Marina Zurkow.
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Stacked for Success

Renzo Piano completes offices for Kum & Go in Des Moines, Iowa
Renzo Piano Building Workshop has officially completed the much-anticipated Krause Gateway Center in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. As the new headquarters for Midwestern convenience store chain Kum & Go, the six-story building features an open and transparent design that resembles a glass pagoda.  RPBW designed the 160,000-square-foot structure in collaboration with Iowa-based firm OPN Architects. Construction wrapped up late last year on the project site, situated on the north end of the city’s famous Pappajohn Sculpture Park. Thanks to its floor-to-ceiling glass facade, the Krause Gateway Center provides 360-degree views of the city and the art garden below, while housing offices for 800 Kum & Go and Krause Group employees. It also includes a two-story underground parking garage, a fitness center, large meeting rooms, and a dedicated art space. The focal point of the modern design is its sun-soaked interior lobby, created with a warm and welcoming atmosphere for visitors and workers alike. Sustainability, accessibility, and engagement with art are key elements of the Krause Gateway Center's overall design. The curtain wall exterior allows ample daylight into the office space while the elongated overhangs that divide the floors shade the interior and control temperature. An outdoor terrace and a green roof populated with sculptures offer breathing spaces for employees to access during the day. In addition to the unique, people-centric design, the building takes up just 25 percent of the project site, where over 100 trees and various landscape furniture dot the landscape for further public use. In the near future, RPBW will build out a café for the building’s Grand Avenue lobby entrance along with exterior seating.
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Design by Community

Take a sneak peek at NYCxDESIGN’s 2019 events
NYCxDESIGN 2019 is right around the corner, and AN has a selection of highlights from what design-savvy visitors and NYC residents alike can expect. At a press conference held at the Parsons School of Design, officials from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) laid out a selection of events from the fair, which will run from May 10 through May 22, 2019. The Diner, a collaboration between David Rockwell, Surface Magazine, and the design consultancy 2x4 will return after a successful debut at the 2017 Salone Del Mobile in Milan. The pop-up restaurant will bring a “coast-to-coast journey” to diners, offering a mélange of American food and eatery aesthetics. DESIGN PAVILION will return to Times Square for the duration of NYCxDESIGN, bringing performance spaces, interactive kiosks, seating, an information kiosk, and a collaboration with Nasdaq. Sound & Vision, a two-week long show from the American Design Club on the confluence of sound, technology, and design will use the area as staging. New outdoor furniture from the Times Square Design Lab will also be making an appearance, as will a competition for public-space furniture. ICFF will once again take over the Javits Center from May 19 through the 22. This year’s showcase of high-end interior design will focus heavily on integrated smart home and office technology via ICFF Connect. Over 900 global exhibitors are expected to present their wares at the 2019 show. WantedDesign will return to Brooklyn’s Industry City in Sunset Park with more participants than ever; graduate students from over 30 international schools are expected to present their work. At WantedDesign Manhattan, SVA’s Products of Design MFA students will present Tools for the Apocalypse, a showcase of products designed for life after a climate change-induced apocalypse. Each contribution is grouped thematically into one of four categories (fire, water, earth, and air) and addresses the evolution of essential materials in a time of dramatic ecological uncertainty. While the details have yet to be finalized for the city’s five design districts, expect a collection of architectural walking tours, happy hours, and installations across New York's various Design Districts (Downtown, Madison Avenue, TriBeCa, SoHo Design District, and NoMad). Museums across the city are also participating. At the Cooper Hewitt, Nature will gather work from designers across all disciplines to paint a picture of a more harmonious, regenerative future. At the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), The Value of Good Design gathers design objects from every corner (from home goods to toys to transport-related items) from the late 1930s through the '50s. Through the Good Design initiative that MoMA championed during that period, design was made more democratic and accessible throughout society, and this exhibition will track that shift. At the Museum at FIT, the School of Art and Design will host the 2019 Graduating Student show, not only at the museum but with pieces across the campus. Work from over 800 BFA students will be exhibited and represent areas ranging from jewelry to packaging to interior design. The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) will spice things up with Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics, 1976-1986. The show will look back on the often DIY flyers, posters, and albums from the era through a contemporary lens, similar to the Met’s 2013 examination of the lasting impact of punk fashion. On the architecture side, Fernando Mastrangelo Studio (no stranger to experimenting with concrete) will be casting a full-scale tiny home from cement, glass, sand, and silica. The “home” will contain a living room, bedroom, and exterior garden, and visitors can explore the house after its completion. Following a kick-off party at the studio’s space in Brooklyn, the house will be placed on a trailer and moved around the city for a “Where’s Waldo” experience. Empire Outlets, the SHoP-designed outlet mall in St. George, Staten Island, opens in April. During NYCxDesign, architects from SHoP and representatives from Empire Outlets will lead tours of the sprawling shopping complex. The first El-Space, a repurposing of the area under the Gowanus Expressway in Sunset Park, was such a success that the Design Trust for Public Space and NYC Department of Transportation have followed up with El-Space 2.0. On May 16, a jointly-held event will reveal the project’s next iteration in Long Island City as well as the framework for planning future “El-Spaces.” The Center for Architecture is also planning to get in on the action, and from May 14 through 18, interested architecture buffs can take a sneak peek of this year’s Archtober lineup. Both the “Building of the Day” tours, which will highlight five buildings across the city’s five boroughs, and Workplace Wednesday, where architecture studios open their doors to the public, will be previewed. Of course, NYCxDESIGN, now in its seventh year, hosted nearly 400 events; too many to chronicle in one article. For now, those interested in staying abreast of the talks, workshops, gallery shows, retail options, and more can stay updated on the festival’s website.
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The Atrium in Atlanta's Heart

Facades+ Atlanta will explore the city’s feverish new urbanism
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Metropolitan Atlanta is undergoing something of an urban moment; new developments and towers are cropping up across the city at a dizzying pace in tandem with public parks, pedestrian zones, and new transit lines. Initiatives such as the BeltLine and The Gulch promise a discernible shift from the car-centric planning that has been the city's course for decades. On January 16, Facades+ Atlanta will bring together the leading architectural firms executing projects within the city, including Beck Architecture, Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, HKS Architects, Duda|Paine Architects, and John Portman & Associates (JPA). In anticipation of the conference, AN interviewed JPA's conference co-chairs Gordon R. Beckman, principal and design director, and Pierluca Maffey, principal and vice president of design, to better understand a city in flux and the storied firm's role within this transformation. The Architect's Newspaper: Atlanta is undergoing a period of incredible growth that is reshaping the physical character of the city. What do you perceive to be the most interesting facade and structural innovations in Atlanta today? Pierluca Maffey: Just like people in many other cities in the U.S., Atlantans are rediscovering the advantages that urban living means to everyday life. The idea of buying a big house with car garages that look like hangars is shifting towards the purchase of more efficient spaces possibly near or well connected to public spaces and activities where human interaction occurs and social experiences unfold. This is the sociological change at the base of the new urbanism that is shaping many cities in the U.S. Share more space instead of owning it; share a mean of transportation; share experiences instead of having exclusive ones and so on. Even the workplace is based on sharing more knowledge to spark innovation, and the hospitality business is doing the same by transforming exclusive hotel lobbies into urban hubs where people and events take place. In that sense, Portman was way ahead of its time when in the early '60s, while America was abandoning every downtown to escape in the promise land of suburbia, he invested in redeveloping downtown Atlanta. Designing, developing and promoting the heart of the city was and is the best way to build the identity and the culture of a town. The less risky route of urbanizing more land in the outskirts of an older city is far more devastating to the development of a community. Today, we see people demanding for a higher quality of urban living and the administrations and the developers must cater to this “new” idea of a city, one in which people can feel safe to occupy and live during the day and night. Unfortunately, Atlanta does not have the same density as other important cities in the U.S. however, it is moving in the right trajectory to attract the new generations of citizens. Capitalizing on some of the major assets that the city owns like Georgia Tech and the busiest airport in the world, the city is becoming a hub for many industries, and it is attracting a cosmopolitan population that will enrich the experience and the development of this city. These newcomers, like myself, are bringing in new ideas and demanding more updated public space throughout the city. The results are visible in many recent projects around town, from large to small, where the leading factor is no longer the efficiency and the return on investment, but the public demand for better public spaces and streetscapes where the building facades represent the edges like walls in a house. Unfortunately, the demand for cars is still high because the public transportation grid quality is still very weak but hopefully it will change in the future with the right policies and a good collaboration between public and private partnerships on how to address traffic and development in the city. Gordon R. Beckman: It's a great time to be in Atlanta. The last two or three generations seem to have found a renewed interest in urban living and its associated benefits, culturally, socially, and environmentally. The result has been an influx of people, an influx of ideas, and a necessity to increase opportunities for living and working. This is a huge plus for the city as it demands increased density, further defining edges between private and public spaces resulting in a more walkable place-oriented city fabric. Building enclosures fulfill numerous roles, the most basic being to separate us from the elements, but they also form a significant part of the building identity and in the best cases they integrate ideas and ideals of energy to boost occupant comfort while minimizing energy consumption. Importantly, they also become the enclosure system for the public realm and the public spaces of the urban environment. Atlanta, as most cities are, is composed of multiple distinct neighborhoods. As a result, there are numerous projects throughout the city both planned and completed that are unique in their image, form, and enclosure systems. A key part of Tech Square, the JPA-designed Coda project, derives out of the idea of creating a public open space within the urban block. Its elegant glazed exterior wall defines the street edges, is modulated to define a pedestrian scale at the street and, together with the data center and historical Crum and Foster building, define the inner public space. High-performance glazing together with view glass in a unitized curtain wall contributes to the expectation of LEED Gold status. Historic preservation is gaining in popularity in Atlanta. How do you perceive this trend altering the city, and how can architects embrace it? LM: Historic preservation is a must. Buildings of the past represent a culture and decisions that were taken at a certain time by people who came before us. That said, when a building loses its main purpose, I see an opportunity for us to reinvent that same structure and breathe new life into it without losing its richness and history. A lot of structures were torn down in the past decades, and that was the trend around the nation. Perhaps it was not the best thing to do, judging with today’s mentality, but we can’t change that anymore. What we can do is preserve what we have today and what was left from before. Our 230 Indigo is a repurpose of the first office project designed by Portman in the '60s. We converted the first nine floors into a hotel and preserved the rest as an office. The massing composition of Coda was all based on the 1926 Crum and Forster building. It was a priority to preserve the structure as a jewel and that led to a decision to create active space around it and place all the higher structures away from it to create a neutral background for its classical unique architecture. I am glad that the developers and designers are preserving a lot of the industrial structures bringing new life into them. Ponce City Market and Krog are the best examples we have in town, but there are many more done by other developers and very good architects who understand the richness and responsibility of preserving older structures. What I really do not like is new developments and designers promoting new buildings to look like industrial warehouses. That is tricking the customers, just like giving them a fake 1500 Tuscan Villa in the outskirts of a U.S. metropolis. Atlanta's skyline is defined by your firm's projects. Can you expand on the relationship your firm has cultivated with the city?  LM: Like many other cities in the U.S., Atlanta has seen the exodus of the middle class towards suburbia. The fact that Atlanta has no natural boundaries like mountains or water that could constraint its sprawl in the territory caused the “explosion of the city” into many other satellite cities. At a moment in which Downtown Atlanta lost most of its economic force and middle class, Portman decided to reinvest in the city and never left its core. The office never left downtown, and the investments that were made through the years into what is now a large master plan were able and still can bring millions of visitors to the city. The design aesthetic adopted at an era when brutalism was spreading around the world is seen today as very stark and not inviting. The decision to create an alternative to the open public space offered by the streets was a way to provide safety for people and businesses that were catering to the visitors coming to the conventions and to the fair held by America’s Mart and the Georgia World Congress Center. It is understandable how today we see those solutions as unfavorable to the evolution of the activity and safety of public open spaces however, they provided a viable solution at the time they were conceived and are still significantly successful today with thousands of people meandering through the food court of Peachtree center and the atriums of the Hyatt Regency and Marriott Marquis. Today Ponce City Market and Krog Street offer the more appealing “food hall,” but the concept is the same: an introverted world where the public space is privately owned and managed. We still can’t take a stroll down the street looking at shops and choose a restaurant out of hundreds available like you would do in Europe. Coda is opening to the city again and it reflects the current city culture. We deliberately created an open plaza easily accessible from two major streets and widely open to the sidewalks. It's a place for gathering and connecting with other people. It's still a privately owned and managed place but exposed and available to everyone to experience. That said, the owner decided on building an adjacent food hall to energize the outdoor space and activate it throughout the day. We are still far from the great public urban space seen in other cities in the U.S. or elsewhere in the world, but those are not developed by private companies. Those public spaces are built by the administrations and they reflect the culture of the society at a particular time. We might not be there yet, but we are certainly ready to play our part in designing them. GB: Atlanta has a rich and varied architectural legacy. Our founder John Portman contributed to the vast array of projects that define this city. He recognized that for Atlanta to remain a vital urban place, the energy of the urban core needed to be maintained through comprehensive economic planning, as seen in the offices and hotel of Peachtree Center. At the time these projects were being executed, the city was blighted by suburban flight that challenged the primacy of urban living. Portman and his internal public squares recognized the need for public spaces within the city. Now, our practice is seeking to blur the boundary between interior and exterior. The contrast between the Marriott Marquis and the new Coda project demonstrate this idea in a powerful way. Atlanta is on fire with its growth, with the metropolitan area projected to grow to nine million residents by 2040. This exponential growth means more work, more housing, more cultural projects, more urbanism, transportation systems, infrastructure, and so on. The future vision of the city largely rests on Atlanta's community of architects, planners, and developers. Further information regarding the Facades+ conference can be found here.
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Think of the Terroir

This winery holds its own with a self-supporting limestone facade
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With a wine-producing history stretching back three millennia to Greek colonization in the 6th century B.C., the French region of Provence is nearly synonymous with viticulture. Winemaker Les Domaine Ott Chateau de Selle has called the region home since 1912 and last year completed a full-scale revamp of its facilities by Paris-based Carl Fredrik Svenstedt Architect (CFSA) featuring a facade of self-supporting one-ton blocks of local stone. The 47,000-square-foot winery is partially nestled into the hillside, rising from a stepped concrete foundation. The two primary elevations of the structure run adjacent to each other, with that to the east following a gentle curve. Each stone block of the facade is approximately 3 square feet in area and 1.5 feet in height, stacked to reach a total height of nearly 33 feet. Each stone block weighs approximately a ton, allowing for the insertion of certain load-bearing elements into the blocks for interior slabs and beams.
  • Facade Manufacturer Carrier De Provence Poggia Provence
  • Architects Carl Fredrik Svenstedt Architect
  • Facade Installer Printemps de la Pierre
  • Location Taradeau, Provence, France
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System Self-supporting limestone facade with a concrete core
  • Products La Pierre du Pont-du-Gard limestone Soleal Evolution Technal aluminum window frames
The arrangement of the self-supporting stone blocks dilates and contorts according to interior function; the central body housing dozens of stainless steel and wooden wine barrels must be guarded from UV rays, while gaps in the imposing elevations crop towards the north and south for office spaces and screened courtyards. For French vineyards, the concept of terroir, or the unique qualities of local mineral and environmental conditions, is directly credited for the final palette of each vintage. For CFSA, it was imperative that the design of the new winery similarly reflect the surrounding geography. To this effect, the design team procured the beige limestone blocks from quarrier Carrières de Provence who source from local a limestone quarry dating back from the Roman era. The large-grain stone, known as La Pierre du Pont-du-Gard, was first roughly harvested from the quarry and subsequently fashioned in an on-site workshop with diamond disc rotors. “Using stone quarried nearby was coherent for the insertion of such a large building into the landscape,” says Carl Fredrik Svenstedt, “at the same time the stone has fantastic thermal properties for a winery in a hot climate, with great mass inertia and hygrometry, while also being very accessible financially.” Following fabrication, the stone blocks were transported 125 miles from Carrier de Provence's facilities to the construction site and craned into position atop the perimeter of the concrete shell. Joinery of the blocks was fairly straightforward: they are held together by gravity and mortar. Since Provence is located in an active seismic zone, CFSA added two key elements to boost earthquake resistance: every sixteen feet, the stone piers were hollowed to facilitate the insertion of a vertical concrete pier directly to the foundation, while strategically placed pins are used to the same effect for areas with significant openings. Similar to historic wineries that rely on a system of vaults to allow for flexible interior floor plans, the great halls of the facility are supported by a system of precast concrete beams and columns. CFSA relied on rebar and infill concrete between limestone columns and the core to tie the stone and concrete elements into a cohesive structural system.
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Fully Scully

Daniel V. Scully, son of historian Vincent Scully, has built an auto-inspired compound
The houses architects build for themselves often reveal much about their makers—just think of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin, or Sir John Soane’s 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields. The homes of architectural auteurs are testaments to their philosophies, their religions, their gods. And Daniel V. Scully’s compound in the shadow of Mount Monadnock near Dublin, New Hampshire, is a fascinating, if little known, example of a self-referential project that consumed half of its designer’s life. A slab of Vermont slate—the tombstone of the architectural historian, Vincent Scully—lies in wait on the ground for a sketch of the temple of Juno at Agrigento to be carved into it. Vincent Scully—Dan’s father—glimpsed the Greek ruin from a warship during World War II, a sighting that marked the beginning of his love affair with architecture. Another relic of the classical world on Dan’s compound is his sheet metal interpretation of the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Living and working in the shadow of a famous parent can be intimidating, but Dan Scully gamely embraced the world of architecture. He worked for Louis Kahn during the summers of his college years, and at the Yale School of Architecture, Scully was a member of Charles Moore’s socially responsible Yale Building Project class of 1970. He also joined Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown’s groundbreaking Las Vegas seminar, and, from then on, pop culture—particularly cars—crucially informed his design aesthetic. Scully finally settled in the mill town of Harrisville, New Hampshire, designing homes, schools, and commercial buildings throughout the Monadnock region. Scully is also something of a motor head; automobiles are integral to his vision of America as “a fast and restless place carved out of wilderness.” In 1980, he bought eight acres of land in the neighboring town of Dublin and began to create his own world of “carchitecture.” It should come as no surprise that Scully’s impact on the property was informed by his dynamic, “road runs through it” raison d’être. Today, Scully’s multistructure tableau is recognized as a notable addition to Dublin’s remarkably rich collection of American architecture. Scully’s house in Dublin is a stylistic combination of regional Greek Revival, Shingle Style, and an early 1950s Pontiac. The kitchen, for example, boasts shingles and a Greek entablature, and on the whole resembles the hood of a car, complete with a giant Chieftain emblem hood ornament. The interior walls are sheathed in corrugated metal, while the dining room table is a “roadway” inlaid lengthwise with passing lines, and a gas-pump handle caps off the stairway banister. Scully's house, within hearing range of New Hampshire Route 101, was featured in the 1987 issue of Ripley’s Believe It or Not, where it was labeled “Highway 101-Two-Lane Blacktop.” Scully’s whimsically serious work is more idiosyncratic than frivolous. His temple to the Gods of Speed faces the house down an alley lined by silver gazing balls. The heart of this didactic folly is a solid-fuel dragster, the engine of which has been replaced by a woodstove. As in 18th-century picturesque landscapes, the compound’s buildings are about memory and evoking associative emotions in viewers. This neoclassical trope continues with the garage, where Scully prepares vintage Volvos for races. Giant piston-columns composed of silver-painted, 55-gallon drums flank the main entrance, and license plates serve as frieze decoration between the metopes of the full entablature. The plates are arranged from east to west, beginning with New Hampshire and ending with California, echoing the vector of American expansion. Atop the garage—where in classical Greece, a statue of Athena may have stood as the venerated icon—is a Mobil gas pump. There are a variety of smaller outbuildings and objects that catch the eye: a 1950 Ford pickup originally bought for 50 dollars 50 years ago, a chicken-coop homage to the Quonset hut, a rusted-out truck with a snow plow attachment. A 1957 Cooper Formula 3 racing car hovers over file cabinets in Scully’s latest and perhaps final structure on the compound, the Archives Studio, a 20-by-24-foot shed wrapped in plastic roofing tiles that have been manufactured to resemble slate. Inside the shed, a 1968 Dan Scully painting of a Maserati engine faces Giambattista Nolli’s 1748 map of Rome. A 20-foot-long drafting table sits beneath a strip window that, Aalto-like, frames a view of the lake and neighboring forest. This seemingly humble cube, although reminiscent of Le Corbusier’s Cabanon de Vacances in size and function, is a nod to the Enlightenment—more Jean-Jacques Rousseau than Henry David Thoreau. The primitive hut can surely be thought of as man's earliest temple, but Scully’s Archives Studio also defers to the Yankee aesthetic of utility and thrift. After decades of work echoing the movement of cars and trains, this idyllic shack is just the place for a restless genius to contemplate his contributions to the manmade environment.