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Gates of Stone

Artist Theaster Gates helps renovate Edward Durell Stone building
After five years of planning and construction, Chicago-based architecture and planning firm Farr Associates and artist Theaster Gates have dramatically transformed a 60-year-old dormitory at the University of Chicago into a state-of-the-art research center and student hub, known as the Keller Center. Originally designed by Edward Durell Stone in 1962, the once dark and closed-off concrete structure served as the University of Chicago’s New Graduate Residence Hall. While some of Stone’s initial design was preserved—including the building’s slender columns, projecting canopy, and mid-century modern aesthetic—the addition of a glass roof and brilliant limestone facade illuminates the fully renovated interior, which is now home to the university’s Harris School of Public Policy. The design team foregrounded sustainability—the Keller Center will be the first LEED Platinum building on the University of Chicago campus and one of the first university buildings to pursue the strict Petal Certification of the Living Building Challenge—but also thought about ways to tie the new design to the building’s past, context, and community. Farr Associates salvaged as much as possible for the renovation, preserving old doors, hooks, mailboxes, mirrors, light fixtures, and shelves for the new design. Theaster Gates came up with the idea to use lumber from damaged ash wood trees that were removed from Chicago’s city parks for a main building material for the interior of the center. Gates then hired local workers to process the trees at a mill just south of the project site, where he was able to provide job training to people on Chicago’s South Side. The center also features a rainwater harvesting system, which captures water from the roof and transports it to the building’s toilets, along with rain gardens that accommodate the region’s native species. There were many design challenges associated with carving a new interior from the existing concrete skeleton of the building. For example, the structure lacked insulation, and it was riddled with columns and steel supports that could not be removed. The architects were forced to work around those structural hindrances, while trying to keep the space open and inviting. The result was a visually inspiring interior complete with shimmering, glass-walled classrooms, lounges, offices, meeting rooms, and a four-story atrium called the Harris Forum, which serves as a central collaboration space. The sun-streaked atrium, which was carefully shaped out of the existing structure, represents the heart of the Harris School, and it is home to a variety of discussions, world-class speakers, and events.
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Eternal Gradient

Chicago’s Graham Foundation spotlights Arakawa and Madeline Gins

Over 40 drawings and decades of archival materials from the late artist-architects Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins have arrived in Chicago, documenting an early period in their practice that would later go on to influence their architectural projects—buildings designed to reverse aging. Geometric line art, cages, architectural models, and section drawings all break down the evolution of “Reversible Destiny,” the concept that the built environment is able to influence human physiology. Architecture was the starting point and inspiration for a body of work that included traditional art as well as sculpture and poetry. The duo would later go on to form the Reversible Destiny Foundation, which partnered with the Estate of Madeline Gins to make the show possible. Eternal Gradient originally ran at Columbia University’s Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery in 2018 before moving to its current home at the Graham Foundation. Chicago and New Orleans–based practice Norman Kelley was responsible for the exhibition design.

Arakawa and Madeline Gins: Eternal Gradient Graham Foundation Madlener House, 4 West Burton Place Chicago Through May 4
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The Notre Dame Greenhouse

Foster + Partners pitches new Notre Dame spire as competition heats up
Norman Foster has jumped into the international competition to design a replacement spire for Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral, proposing a glass-and-steel topper to replace the cathedral’s ruined roof. According to an interview in English publication The Times, Foster presented his vision for a new “light and airy” roof for the fire-ravaged cathedral. The previous attic space dated back to the 12th century and was nicknamed “The Forest,” as it contained a tangle of 1,300 timber frames, each coming from a unique oak tree—the sheer amount of wood likely fed the fire that ravaged it last week. Foster’s updated vision for the cathedral calls for installing a glass topper, arched to mimic the original wooden roof, ribbed with lightweight steel supports. The new spire would be made of glass and steel and could potentially include an observation deck at its base. “In every case, the replacement used the most advanced building technology of the age,” Foster told The Guardian. “It never replicated the original. In Chartres, the 12th-century timbers were replaced in the 19th century by a new structure of cast iron and copper. The decision to hold a competition for the rebuilding of Notre Dame is to be applauded because it is an acknowledgment of that tradition of new interventions.” The modernization scheme drew an immediate reaction online, where social media users compared the revamped cathedral to a Foster-designed Apple store or the glass Reichstag dome in Berlin. Additionally, several people pointed out that the plan to flood the interior with light would be hamstrung by the stone vaulted ceiling below the attic space and would blow out any light coming in from the historic stained-glass windows. Of course, Foster isn’t the only architect to propose a radical overhaul of the 19th -century spire. Belgian artist Wim Delvoye, known for his neo-Gothic, laser-cut steel sculptures, announced last week that he would be entering the design competition as well. Since the international competition was announced, plenty of people have gotten creative in envisioning “adaptive reuse” projects that give the historic cathedral a bland, modernist overhaul without regard for its surroundings. Even though these have been done in jest, some of them have come quite close to what Foster has proposed. Foster + Partners has clarified that the illustration formerly accompanying this article was not produced by the office or Norman Foster.
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Leggo My Eggo

Architect Andrew MacNair sends a giant egg to Korea
The Egg Chapel is located on the side of a small mountain outside of Seoul up the Han River in the W-Zone Park—a “people’s health, love and happiness park”—built and run by the Hi family under the direction of Pastor Song. The chapel was commissioned to be one of the world’s smallest churches—an ecumenical pilgrimage destination to hold small prayer and song services, baptisms, weddings, and musical performances—inside the chapel as well as outside on the front porch. It was made with Jaesung Jung, Lawrence Marek, and Johanna Post. We built it in Bristol, Rhode Island, with old-school, wood, ocean yacht builders Dan Shay and William Harmon in a series of twelve long curvilinear, vertical shells like small Biblical boats. The shells where shipped from Bristol to Seoul via boat through the Panama Canal and were trucked up to the mountain where we erected it together in one month with four carpenters working by hand with no lifts nor cranes—a 10 meter (32 foot) wooden egg standing straight and tall. The egg is topped off with a wooden dome connecting all hulls into one. It contains a front door facing west and one oval oculus window up high facing east. There are two long, thin windows left and right—a vertical one faces south, a horizontal one faces north. When a person goes into the compressed space of the chapel, first one looks up high to the oculus, bending the neck. Then, entering the 14-foot circular floor, the body brings together the two thin windows so that the horizontal window light comes together with the vertical window light, completing a metaphysical cross of energy and light: the human body connects post and arm of the Christian cross. This first Egg Chapel is part of an ongoing life-work, a Merzbau called “Egg City.” This includes work into an alternative “Not Not Architecture.” The Egg Chapel stands as one example. Simply put, the building is made of just two lines: one circle-line in plan, one vertical egg-line in elevation. We did not design it. It is a generic found object made and given to and for us all.
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Architectural Atrocity Tourism

The Cursed Architecture Twitter feed showcases the best of the worst
What drives the internet’s (perhaps morbid) obsession with bad design? Strange angles, melting paint, oddly-placed and vaguely threatening toilets, signage that hinders rather than helps, stairs to nowhere, and misplaced windows have all caused digital rubbernecking. Whether it’s critiquing the bric-a-brac nature of suburban homes assembled by the nouveau-riche in McMansion Hell, or posting abject failures in the 1.5-million-member-strong r/CrappyDesign subreddit, the demand for “bad design” to critique seems bottomless. The worst offenders are frequently aggregated on Instagram, meme-y Facebook pages, Twitter, and listicles, repackaged and reshared failures of design for new audiences. Enter the Cursed Architecture Twitter account, which has been posting baffling, incomplete, and/or possibly haunted buildings since September of last year. When asked about where they compile their material from and why they think it has such an enduring appeal, the owner of Cursed Architecture had this to say: "I started collecting the images a couple of years ago because I thought they were funny, and later on made the account for my own entertainment. I never expected it to be so popular—or popular at all. I’m a little stunned by it, honestly. The images come from all over the Internet: house listings, DIY forums, and so on. Some are submitted to me. "We live in a very planned, sanitary, squared-off world. I think that’s why the failures are so funny, and why they resonate. So much current architecture is totally impersonal, but a bizarre mistake is the opposite. It invites the question of who did it, and why, and who thought three urinals crowded into a corner or a staircase to nowhere was a good idea. There’s something very human about that." Perhaps the collective fascination with such failures stems from the internet’s ability to give would-be critics a seat at the table, allowing anyone to weigh in. It’s also possible that when faced with overwhelmingly terrible design that fails at a basic level, everyone can put aside their quibbles and unite to make fun of it, together.
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Churches Under Fire

St. Patrick’s Cathedral also potentially threatened by fire this week
In the wake of the Notre Dame Cathedral fire, cities around the world are surely taking note on how to best preserve and protect local architectural landmarks. In New York, two highly-trafficked churches, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, have already come under closer watch. Vice News reported that on Wednesday night, New York City Police counterterrorism officers arrested Marc Lamparello, an adjunct lecturer in philosophy at Lehman College, who walked into St. Patrick’s Cathedral with four gallons of gas, several bottles of lighter fluid, and a handful of lighters. While officials are still unsure whether he planned to commit a crime, the 37-year-old suspect was “emotionally disturbed,” police said. Lamparello has been charged with attempted arson, reckless endangerment, and trespassing as of this afternoon, according to the NYPD News's Twitter.  The neo-Gothic church sits on Fifth Avenue across from Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan. Completed in 1878, it was designed by renowned architect James Renwick, Jr. Today, it’s one of the city’s most iconic places of worship and a National Historic Landmark that sees an influx of over 5 million visitors each year. The cathedral has been added on to and renovated extensively since first opening; MBB Architects most recently completed a $177 million restoration of the building in 2015. This isn’t the first time St. Patrick’s has been subject to some form of terrorism. In 1914 and 1915, respectively, a small bomb exploded on the northwest corner of the cathedral and a trio of Italian anarchists tried to detonate a bomb inside the church. While St. Patrick's Cathedral was only threatened with potential arson this week, a beloved parish uptown actually did get some real heat. The crypt at the historic Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the largest Gothic Revival structure in the world, caught fire on Sunday morning. New York Daily News reported that a small blaze broke out at 10 a.m. and was extinguished by the fire department in under an hour. Located in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights neighborhood, the late-19th-century piece of architecture was most recently renovated in 2008 after a 2001 fire swept through the north transept of the church, damaging the gift shop and a bit of its famous Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ. In 2017, the building and its historic grounds were designated a New York City Landmark.
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Albright Albright Albright

Albright-Knox Art Gallery reveals new expansion renderings
OMA’s expansion of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, is continuing apace and has gained a new collaborator: Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and his art and architecture workshop, Studio Other Spaces (SOS). The $160 million AK360 expansion project—up from what was originally $80 million—was first announced back in 2016 when the art institution decided to add another 30,000 square feet to its campus. Any changes to the gallery would have to be done with care, as the gallery’s central Gordon Bunshaft–designed building from 1962 sits on a Frederick Law Olmsted landscape. Bunshaft’s wing was an addition to an even older Beaux-Arts museum built in 1905. After unanimous approval by the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, the board that manages the gallery, a revised scheme by OMA was approved in 2018. On April 11 of this year, further details, including the groundbreaking date for the expansion and design refinements to the scheme, were unveiled. The AK360 Campus Development and Expansion Project will add an entirely new OMA and Shohei Shigematsu–designed building to the north side of the Albright-Knox campus. The new building is intentionally ethereal and appears draped in a translucent sheet; a wraparound promenade will allow visitors to take in views of the historic landscape. Inside, the northern building will add visitor amenities and 30,000 square feet of gallery space for special exhibitions and the gallery’s permanent collection. The revision last week revamped the internal galleries according to an update from the Albright-Knox Gallery, but a full layout won’t become public until further in the design process. One major detail that has come to light is an addition by Eliasson and architect Sebastian Behmann of SOS. Covering an adjacent open-air sculpture garden, added in 1962 alongside the Bunshaft building, to create an all-weather gathering space had been part of the renovation plans since the beginning, but SOS has proposed turning the new roof into an art piece. Common sky, a fractalized canopy of glass and mirrors within a steel diagrid, would sprout from a central “trunk” and rise from the center of the courtyard to cover the new Indoor Town Square. The central column of Common sky would be hollow, allowing rain and snow to fall and drain away without directly exposing visitors to the elements. With construction expected to begin at the end of this year, the gallery has announced that operations at its main Elmwood Avenue campus will wind down as 2020 approaches. At the beginning of next year, the 15,000-square-foot Albright-Knox Northland, located at 612 Northland Avenue in Buffalo, will open and display special exhibitions and installations that don't require museum-quality conditions. Programming for the new space will be announced in the coming months. Furthering the gallery’s mission during construction will be the Albright-Knox Art Truck, which, beginning in spring 2020, will travel Western New York providing publicly-accessible classes, activities, and projects.
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Saving Grace

Here’s what saved the Notre Dame Cathedral from total destruction
The world watched in total shock on Monday evening as a devastating fire ravaged parts of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. For a moment it looked like the French landmark might be lost completely, but firefighters acted quickly to save the 850-year-old Gothic church. Though a battered version of its former self, Notre Dame still stands today largely because its 226-foot twin bell towers were kept from ruin. “The bell towers are actually like bookends,” noted Thomas Leslie, a Gothic structures specialist and the Morrill Professor of Architecture at Iowa State University. “They keep the last vaults from toppling over or spreading out. A lot of people know that flying buttresses are supporting the vaults in one direction from the exterior, but those vaults also want to collapse along the nave. If stone bell towers, which have wooden structures inside them, had ignited and had collapsed, the whole cathedral could have come down in an instant.” In other words, at some point the Paris Fire Brigade made the decision to stop focusing on the expansive roof fire, and spend its resources on the stone bell towers, both of which date back to the mid-13th century. “The roof was a lost cause and they knew it wasn’t going to lead to the collapse of the building’s skeleton,” asserted Leslie. When the fire began around 6:50 p.m. on Monday, panic spread throughout the world about the Notre Dame’s potential downfall. A roof fire, by most standards, is catastrophic. But what much of the media didn’t realize at first, Leslie argued, was that the wooden roof was detached from the structure itself and couldn’t trigger the building's total collapse. Enough heat, however, could melt the masonry over the nave—the stonework on the structure was already under close watch. For the past few years, Notre Dame has been undergoing an extensive, $6.8 million restoration. A piece of medieval construction, it’s been renovated and added onto several times in its history. The 315-foot-tall oak spire that fell in the fire was designed by French architect Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc and installed in 1860 after the French Revolution and the elements had damaged the structure. Luckily, the 16 copper statues of the 12 apostles and four evangelists that sat at the spire’s base were removed for cleaning just last week and thus spared from the fire. Along with the stone bell towers, the famed trio of round stained-glass windows survived the fire, including the famous South Rose window, which was donated by King St. Louis in 1260. The deputy mayor of Paris said Notre Dame’s 8,000-pipe Great Organ also sustained the event though it did suffer repairable damages. Several news outlets have reported the church’s irreplaceable art and artifacts were rescued and transferred to the Louvre Museum for safe keeping. While these elements were saved, there’s a gaping hole left now in the nave less than 48 hours after the fire, exposing the interior of the cathedral. For Leslie, it’s the water damage done by the fire squad that’s even more concerning. “When you walk into a cathedral, what you see on the inside is the stone vaulting, there for structural and spatial reasons,” he said. “The timber roof above it essentially for weatherproofing. It keeps rain, snow, and ice off the limestone vaults. I noticed through images that water had pretty clearly penetrated the mortar joints in the surviving vaults. Limestone and lime mortar are both vulnerable to fire in the sense that they don’t burn, they turn into powder.” Securing the existing stonework within Notre Dame and protecting it from weather-damage in the near future are undoubtedly top of mind for the temporary restoration effort moving forward. For the long term, President Emmanuel Macron has promised a rebuild and people have already pledged over $900 million towards the planned reconstruction. Even an international competition to redesign the spire ahead of the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris has already been launched. Lisa Ackerman, interim CEO for the New York–based World Monument Fund, noted the energy of the moment. “The good thing about all this is that we live in a world where you find out about tragedies instantly and we’ve found both the outpouring of financial support for Notre Dame to be tremendous, as well as the outpouring of assistance from experts who can help rebuild." For example, the late art historian Andrew Tallon from Vassar College had scanned the entire cathedral with an accuracy within five millimeters. His detailed work is laid out in a stunning 3D laser map of Notre Dame, a piece of pivotal documentation that will likely be used in the restoration efforts. Even the popular video game Assassin’s Creed Unity, which is set in Paris, could be helpful. It’s publisher, Ubisoft, has offered expertise. Collecting global documentation of Notre Dame will help in the upcoming work to stabilize the building for centuries to come. Integrating fire-safe products in the reconstruction, said Ackerman, will help ensure a catastrophic disaster like this doesn’t happen again. “Preservation is always an act of negotiating the past with the present and the visual aesthetic qualities of the structure with new knowledge we have about materials,” she said. “The greatest danger to a historic building is when people think its issues are permanently resolved. Hopefully this was a reminder that many of the sites we take for granted actually have needs and must be continually repaired and investigated for their own wellbeing. If we defer maintenance, we endanger buildings in ways that are clearly unimaginable.”
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OMA Heads West

Jason Long and Shohei Shigematsu plot inventive works across California

Although the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) has been in business for decades and keeps a steadily growing constellation of offices around the globe, the firm has, until recently, had a relatively modest profile on the American West Coast.

But things are changing. As West Coast cities pursue new building efforts—including new neighborhoods, ecologically sensitive public parks, and experiments in multiuse complexes—OMA’s brand of frank intellectualism has slowly found a preliminary foothold in California.

The firm’s expanding Golden State presence includes a recently completed urban master plan for Facebook’s Willowbrook campus in Menlo Park, a residential condominium tower in San Francisco, as well as a trio of inventive projects in Los Angeles. Over the next few years, these projects are poised to join the Seattle Central Library and the Prada Epicenter Los Angeles, both from 2004, OMA’s only completed West Coast projects to date.

The latest westward push represents an ascendant energy emanating from the firm’s New York office, where OMA partners Jason Long and Shohei Shigematsu lead many dynamic projects taking shape across the continent and in Japan. When asked if a new California outpost was in the works for OMA, Shigematsu replied, “It’s always been a dream of ours,” before adding that current conditions were favorable but not exactly right for a potential OMA West branch. “Maybe if we get more projects out here.”

First and Broadway Park (FAB Park)

Also created in collaboration with Studio-MLA, the new First and Broadway Park in Los Angeles is set to contain a playful 100,000-square-foot retail, food, and cultural programming pavilion that anchors the ecologically sensitive park. The pavilion will be capped with an edible rooftop garden and a dining terrace that overlooks L.A.’s City Hall.

Along the ground, the park will be wrapped with ribbons of bench seating, elements fashioned to create interlocking outdoor rooms and plazas surrounded by native oak and sycamore trees. Water-absorbing landscapes around the seating areas are designed to harvest and retain rainwater while solar collection and a “Golden California” landscape lend the project its ecological bona fides.

The Avery (Transbay Block 8)

Related California’s crenelated 575-foot tower, known as The Avery, is part of a larger development created in conjunction with Fougeron Architecture for a blank site in downtown San Francisco’s bustling Transbay District.

For the project, the designers have carved a generous paseo through the buildable envelope for the site, creating a new retail and amenity plaza while also lending a tapered look to the 55-story tower. The gesture animates views for a collection of condominiums, market-rate apartments, and affordable housing units while also bringing sunlight down into the paseo and to the mid-rise block designed by Fougeron. Currently under construction, the tower is expected to open in 2019.

Audrey Irmas Pavilion

The Audrey Irmas Pavilion is the firm’s first cultural and religious project in the region. The trapezoidal building shares a site with the Wilshire Boulevard Temple and is made up of three interlocking volumes that connect to the outdoors via a sunken rooftop garden designed by landscape architecture firm Studio-MLA. An arched portal connects to a shared breezeway between the pavilion and the temple, which is framed by the leaning pavilion. The latter was designed with a pronounced slant both out of deference to historical structure and to illuminate the courtyard.

Referencing unbuilt proposals for Universal City and the L.A. County Museum of Art, Rem Koolhaas, OMA cofounder, said, “[The Pavilion] is part of a very consistent effort to do things here. It’s exciting if one thing happens to succeed, because architecture is a very complex profession where maybe a quarter of all attempts get anywhere.”

The Plaza at Santa Monica

Shigematsu explains that one concern driving the firm’s California projects involves delving into the region’s rich history of indoor-outdoor living. The approach is fully on display in The Plaza at Santa Monica, a 500,000-square-foot staggered mass of interlocking buildings intended to create a new mix of public outdoor spaces.

With a cultural venue embedded in the heart of the complex and ancillary indoor and outdoor public spaces laid out across building terraces, the complex aims for a unique take on the regional indoor-outdoor typology. The building is set to contain offices, a 225-suite hotel, as well as a market hall and public ice-skating rink.

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Kidney Beans

Chinese blogger pays penalty after claiming ZHA complex has bad feng shui
Chinese real estate developer SOHO China has won a 200,000 yuan—nearly $30,000—libel case against a blogger who wrote that the Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA)-designed Wangjing SOHO was bringing bad luck to its tenants. In November of last year, a blog run by Zhuhai Shengun Network Technology wrote that the triple-building office complex in Beijing had bad feng shui. Among the article’s many claims is that the pebble-shaped buildings looked like “pig kidneys” and that they were a “Waterloo” for the companies working within. The post, which was viewed over 100,000 times before being deleted from messaging platform WeChat, went on to say that larger companies should flee the Wangjing SOHO unless they wanted their growth to slow. On April 10, a Beijing district court ordered that the blog operator pay $29,796 and apologize to SOHO China. In its verdict, the court ruled that the article “applies superstition to Wangjing Soho building, which institutes defamation,” according to the South China Morning Post. The blog itself, S Shengunju S, was deleted in November along with 9,800 other accounts as part of a larger social media post and blog purge by the Chinese government. Feng shui is an ancient practice of precisely orienting buildings and their interiors to invite in energy, wealth, and prosperity that still has many modern adherents all over the world. However, regardless of whether the feng shui of the 5.4 million-square-foot Wangjing SOHO is off or not, the complex has been a success by more than one measure; after the complex’s design was “stolen” in 2013, it went on to win several awards and has a 98 percent occupancy rate.
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All Work, All Play

Gehry to design new office headquarters for Warner Bros. in Los Angeles
Gehry Partners, Worthe Real Estate Group, and Stockbridge Real Estate Fund have unveiled renderings for a new 800,000-square-foot office complex slated for the Warner Bros. studio campus in Burbank, California. Urbanize.LA reported that the developers behind the so-called "Second Century Project” aim to break ground later this year and that the project will be completed in time for Warner Bros.’ centennial celebrations in 2023. Plans for the complex call for a pair of cool, iceberg-like mid-rise office towers articulated in Frank Gehry’s signature fluted and twisted forms. One tower will rise seven stories and is set to contain 355,000 square feet of offices while the second tower will rise nine stories high and offer 450,000 square feet of office space. In a press release announcing the project, Gehry said, “Once upon a time, Hollywood Studios had an important architectural presence in the city—they were like monuments to the movie-making process. With this project, I was trying to recapture that feeling of old Hollywood splendor.” To achieve his goal, Gehry Partners has created a two-faced complex. For the more public exposure that faces an adjacent freeway, the architects have designed icy glass facades that will catch the sunlight. Renderings for the project show the towers ablaze in Southern California’s red-orange-pink golden hour light, for example. The office’s second main exposure, which the architects have wrapped in perforated metal panels, will face existing warehouse-like studio spaces. Gehry added, “We created large open floorplates with the single goal of creating the highest quality office space. From the freeway, the buildings are composed as one long sculptural glass facade that creates a single identity like icebergs floating along the freeway. On the studio side, the metal punched facade is terraced to relate to the scale and character of the existing studio buildings.” The project is the latest local proposal from the ever-busy Gehry Partners. Other projects on deck include the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles project in South Los Angeles, a planned hotel and mixed-income housing complex in Santa Monica, the controversial 8150 Sunset mixed-use complex, and The Grand, a pair of mixed-use residential towers slated for a site directly across the street from Gehry Partners’ Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown Los Angeles, among others.
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Literal Jewel-Box

Safdie Architects completes world’s largest indoor waterfall
After six years, the first phase of Safdie Architects’ monumental Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore will open to the public on April 17. That not only includes an indoor “rain forest” with walking trails, but also the world’s largest indoor waterfall. The 1.4-million-square-foot doughnut-shaped building is a greenhouse ensconced within a steel diagrid frame engineered by BuroHappold. The five-story toroid stretches another five levels underground as well and is designed to connect the Changi Airport’s terminals 1, 2, and 3, and to public transit. Jewel was conceived of as an amenity hub for the airport and contains over 280 retail stores, galleries, and restaurants, a 130-room hotel, and operations space for the airport, including a lounge and check-in area. To mitigate the noise from the aircraft taking off around it, the triangular window sections were installed with a .6-inch-thick air gap between the two glass panes. Jewel's crowning feature is its seven-story indoor waterfall, the “Rain Vortex,” which dramatically pours down from a central oculus and into a circular catch below. The waterfall is, appropriately enough, fed by water collected during Singapore’s constant thunderstorms, and the recirculated rainwater diffuses throughout the Jewel to passively cool the interior. All of that humidity also helps maintain the thousands of plants, including 2,000 trees, found within. Other than the Forest Valley, which includes terraced vegetation and “forest walks” around the waterfall, the 150,000-square-foot Canopy Park on the fifth floor further enhances then garden feel. Glass bottomed bridges, topiary mazes, sky nets (suspended net paths), mirrored “discovery slides” that will open on June 10, and a gathering space for up to 1,000 guests can all be found on the Jewel’s top floor. Such an enormous undertaking was a collaborative effort, and Safdie led a multidisciplinary group of designers and engineers. Atelier Ten was responsible for the building’s climate control systems; Singapore’s RSP Architects Planners & Engineers was the project’s executive architect; the Berkeley, California-based Peter Walker and Partners was responsible for the landscape design and plant selection; and Los Angeles’s WET engineered the Rain Vortex and developed a 360-degree light and sound show to play against the waterfall at night.