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Jobelisk

San Francisco’s skyline-topping Salesforce Tower opens
The 1,070-foot-tall, 61-story Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects-designed Salesforce Tower in San Francisco (formerly the Transbay Tower) has officially opened, capping a design process that stretches back to 2007. Much has been made of the tower’s impact on the skyline, as it came to gradually eclipse the 853-foot-tall Transamerica Pyramid as the tallest building in the city, and is now visible from neighboring Oakland. At 1.4 million square feet, the Salesforce Tower has always been divisive, especially among those who feel the headquarters is wholly out of scale for San Francisco, or that the tower represents the tech industry imposing its will on the city.

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The bullet-shaped office tower, a centerpiece of Salesforce’s campus-like headquarters, opened its doors to employees on January 8th. Clad in glass and horizontal bands of metal accents that serve as solar shades, the building curves at the corners and tapers to a point as it rises. Pelli Clarke Pelli describes the design as aping the “simple, timeless form of the obelisk”. The tower has been LEED-Platinum Certified, and Salesforce claims that they’ve implemented an “innovative water recycling system” throughout. The façade continues past the top floor to create an ethereal crown, using perforated aluminum panels, that somewhat lessens the topper’s impact. A nine-story vertical facet has been slotted inside of the building’s topper, and the empty space within will be used to potentially project lights, patterns and photos across the tower’s crown; artist Jim Campbell has proposed using LED lights to display ever-changing pieces of art. Connected at the base of the tower is the Salesforce Transit Center, a new transit hub that will hold 11 transit systems when it’s complete later this year, also designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli. The Transit Center takes a markedly different approach from its neighbor, making use of a billowing wall of perforated aluminum panels to gently wrap the station’s upper floors. Supported by V-shaped columns, the station is centered around a massive “Light Column,” a sculptural skylight that grows all the way from the train platforms below to the transit center’s roof. The Light Column also serves to open up the main hall of the hub by creating a 118-foot-tall roof. A 5.4-acre rooftop park will top off the transit center, complete with running tracks, cafes, a 1,000-seat amphitheater, children’s playground, and fully accessible grasslands. Pelli Clarke Pelli claims that the ecology of the park will mirror the surrounding Bay Area, and feature everything from oak trees to a wetland marsh. AN will have an in-depth review of Salesforce Tower in the coming months, but in the meantime, Salesforce has posted a preview of the building’s interiors here.
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River Park-ing

Renderings revealed for final tower in contentious Long Island College Hospital redevelopment
After a tumultuous history of protests, arrests and community pushback, the redevelopment of the Long Island College Hospital (LICH) campus in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, into a luxury community is moving full steam ahead. Now named River Park, renderings for the development’s final tower, 5 River Park, have been revealed via New York YIMBY. Romines Architecture PLLC is designing the 91,000-square-foot tower. Split into two volumes, the 15-story tower will hold 30 condo units atop a lot-spanning ground floor lobby and parking area. As originally reported in 2016, owner Fortis Property Group had opted to build out the former LICH site as-of-right, forgoing a rezoning that would have required the company to build affordable housing in exchange for denser development. Now, as shown in the project’s master plan, Fortis has moved ahead with plans to build five new market-rate residential buildings throughout River Park, and retrofit the landmarked Polhemus Building and nearby townhouses into luxury housing. As part of the first phase, which is ongoing, the Polhemus Building, an 1897 Beaux Arts “hospital skyscraper” and part of the hospital there until its closing in 2008, is undergoing an exterior renovation and interior redesign by BKSK Architects and will eventually hold 17 condo units. The second phase is the most contentious part of the redevelopment, as the five planned towers will bring hundreds of high-priced units to the neighborhood. A different architecture firm has designed each, as Fortis wants River Park to be seen as a “new neighborhood” rather than a cluster of residences. Information on 3 and 4 River Park has yet to be released. FXCollaborative (formerly FXFowle) is designing the 15-story 1 River Park at 350 Hicks St., which will hold 48 apartments ranging from studios to penthouses. While no renderings have been released yet, the building will have an outdoor pool, gardens, and something called an “amenity pavilion.” Hill West Architects will be designing the tallest of the River Park towers, as 2 River Park, or 339 Hicks St., will top out at 440 feet tall. While the exact number of apartments included in the complex hasn’t been made public yet, a rooftop garden will be available for residents that will offer sweeping views across the East River into Manhattan. The design fully plays up the site’s proximity to the river, as Fortis notes it “is composed of a strong masonry tower acting as the 'mast,' supporting the 'sail,' a west-facing glass screen that curves like the headsail on a yacht.” Fortis has described the design of 5 River Park as contextual, stating that it uses “a palette of traditional materials common to Cobble Hill, including brick, limestone and elaborate metalwork.” The shorter half of the building will also be clad in traditional brick in contrast to the more modern, dark-grey concrete of the taller half behind it. Construction on 5 River Park is ongoing. It remains to be seen where a healthcare facility run by the NYU Langone Medical Center will be relocated to; the continuing operation of the center, with its freestanding emergency room, must be included by Fortis as part of a settlement reached with the city. Construction in the area is expected to finish in 2020.
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Optimist Prime

Los Angeles hillside home orients itself towards the outdoors
Hollywood legend has it that Charlie Chaplin perfected his characteristic splayed-foot waddle by pacing up and down Los Angeles’s hilly Baxter Street. The hill rises at a harsh 32 percent grade on both sides of its slopes, making it one of the steepest urban inclines in the nation. Perched partway up is a stark rhomboid-shaped white and gray home with a particular gait of its own. The 2,400-square-foot residence was recently completed by Optimist Design, a studio run by German-born production designer Tino Schaedler. The home—conceived by Schaedler and artist Pia Habekost for their growing family—came into being after the couple had spent years living in a landlocked loft in L.A’s Arts District; their only outdoor access was a shared rooftop. “We wanted to live in a different way,” Schaedler said. “I wanted to create an area where I could lie down and read with a view to outside.” In some ways, the big-windowed abode is a prototypical Los Angeles hillside home. Its stick-frame construction and three-level organization stand out as hallmarks of the vernacular style; a two-car garage and a spare room that Habekost utilizes as a studio occupy the first floor. The building’s main floor above, however, contains more remarkable spaces, including the home’s indoor-outdoor terrace and living room. “The view is really beautiful—it was clear to me that I wanted to orient everything toward that beautiful sunset,” Schaedler explained as he described the terrace, which occupies approximately half of the second level’s floor plate. The 16-by-51-foot band is capped on one end by a wading pool and palm tree–studded courtyard. Roughly two-thirds of the way down the terrace, a section of the roof wraps over it, creating an outdoor extension of the home’s interior living room, which connects to the patio via a monolithic glass pocket door. Anchored by a built-in pizza oven, the patio is also populated by built-in benches, potted plants, and bent-metal-tube furniture. The indoor-outdoor space is clad along its eastern exposure by perforated metal panels designed to provide privacy while still allowing the residents to see out over the hillside. An overhead threshold protrudes from the main building to meet the perforated metal wall, creating a view frame. Back inside the house, the dramatic living room—also oriented outward over the hill—is sandwiched between the terrace and a minimalist kitchen that features graphite-stained paneling that can slide closed, stowing away kitchen clutter. A stainless-steel bar counter separates the cooking area from the living room, where a pair of cats take up residence on a rumpled leather sofa. The home’s floors are made up of custom tongue-and-groove flooring, crafted by a local mill, while one of the living room walls is stacked entirely with books, its weighty shelves lined with integrated LED lights that, at night, “adjust to whatever vibe we want to set,” as Schaedler tells it.
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ODA Goes Arched

ODA reveals renderings for a doughnut-shaped Brooklyn hotel
New York-based ODA Architects and developer All Year Management have released renderings for their latest project in Brooklyn, a five-story, 100-key hotel already under construction in Crown Heights. Reminiscent of M.C. Escher’s Ascending and Descending, the hotel at 1550 Bedford Avenue will feature a looped, sloping roof that encircles a central courtyard at ground level. The most prominent feature of the 38,000-square-foot project, christened the Bedford Hotel, will likely be the ring of archways that completely wrap around the building’s base. In creating a porous entryway, ODA tried to encourage curious passerbys to enter and make use of the public plaza, as well as openly explore. Outside of the hotel portion of the building, a banquet hall, retail options, and restaurants will all be publicly accessible. A rooftop bar and several “floating gardens” are also planned for the cascading roof. While the hotel’s defining arches may seem out of place in a neighborhood filled mainly with brownstones, row houses, and historic brick apartment buildings, ODA has tried to nod towards the masonry-heavy vernacular of the surrounding area by cladding the building in dark stone. Inside, the suites are more in line with what might be expected of a trendy hotel, as lightly colored wood wraps the sinuous interiors of the seemingly smaller hotel rooms. ODA explained that this is to "hug residents and guests with curved edges that allude to the building’s bent shape." ODA is on a tear lately, and 1550 Bedford Avenue recalls their similarly shaped 10 Montieth Street project in Bushwick. Although the circuitous, tweaked roof is similar, the Bedford Hotel will hopefully prove more open to the rest of the neighborhood than its hulking predecessor. As CityRealty noted, this section of Brooklyn is lacking in hotel space, and the previously vacant plot that the hotel is rising on was only zoned for commercial development. Although permits for the project were initially filed in July of last year, construction has only recently begun. Owing to the area’s proximity to Prospect Park and several subway lines, the neighborhood has become a hotspot for development in recent years, and the Bedford Hotel will ultimately sit across the street from the controversial Bedford-Union Armory.
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Building Care

Steven Holl’s ethereal Maggie’s Centre truly embraces its surroundings
After an arduous journey, Steven Holl's Maggie's Centre is finally open. The new $10 million London care center, as with all Maggie’s Centres, will offer free emotional and practical support to cancer patients. This particular center, however, was marred by controversy—not something you would expect from a building designed to help sick people. The center is the latest for Maggie's, the charity founded by Charles Jencks in 1995 after his wife, Maggie Keswick Jencks, died of cancer. The couple believed in the uplifting power of architecture and have since installed more than 20 centers across the world, the majority of which are in the U.K. Nestled into a neoclassical enclave on the grounds of St. Bartholomew's Hospital in central London, Holl's Maggie's Center very nearly never happened. For his design to be built, a rudimentary brick building from the 1960s had to come down. But that wasn’t the issue. Instead, the project’s adversaries argued that the new center didn’t connect with its surroundings. This is nothing new with Maggie’s Centers across the U.K., even though Jencks has previously enlisted architecture’s A-list to design the structures, which are independent from nearby hospitals. Jencks has tapped Norman FosterFrank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Richard Rogers, Rem Koolhaas, and soon Daniel Libeskind, with a center in Hampstead. A page from Charles Jencks’ The Architecture of Hope: Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres shows the site plan of all centers (before Holl’s was built). Here we can see green cytoplasm shrouding the Maggie’s Center nuclei; almost all the centers are one story and are surrounded by a protective grass lawn. On such a tight site, there was no room for greenery, on the ground level at least. The first Maggie’s Center to reach three stories, Holl’s design incorporates a roof garden overlooking a centuries-old quadrangle that includes the 1740s church of St. Bartholomew-the-Less. In a recent lecture at the World Architecture Festival, British architect and planner Sir Terry Farrell referenced Frank Gehry’s center in Dundee, Scotland (full disclosure: I work in communications at Farrell's firm). He argued that the building exacerbated the dichotomy between the brilliantly designed and the under-designed. Who wouldn’t want a pristine lawn to protect from the encroaching drab contemporary hospital vernacular? At St. Bartholemew’s, which is Europe's oldest hospital, such banal healthcare architecture cannot be found. Despite this, Holl's Maggie’s Center is at peace with its neighbors. After calls for modifications, the center shares a basement, toilets, and elevators with the adjacent 18th century Great Hall, a landmarked work of architect James Gibbs. Even these changes were nearly not enough. Holl's design scraped through the second round of planning by one vote and even after that, a lawsuit was filed against the planners. "I flew in from New York and they gave me three minutes in a courtroom. That was it!" Holl recalled, laughing. Wrapping the building is a facade that at night reveals the squares of color embedded, offering a hazy glow. During the day, this color palette is significantly muted and the glass skin is more of a misty gray. Outside, visitors can also see a rounded corner design, which is mirrored inside by a bamboo staircase that traces the perimeter as it winds upward. Holl calls this the “basket” and a “vessel within a vessel within a vessel,” a reference to the concrete structural shell that lies between the glass and bamboo. No attempt has been made to hide this structure, and the result is a pleasing display of both tectonics and tactile design in harmony. According to the Holl, the glass is a new invention. Comprising two layers of insulation, the embedded color film channels light out at night and blurs it during the day. The colored squares are also a reference to Medieval music's "neume notation." “It couldn’t be glossy!” exclaimed Holl. “There are too many glass buildings today.” The architect continued: "Jencks thinks I'm a postmodernist, however, this building is for architecture a manifesto for the expression of materials; [it stands] against everything pomo was." “In my 40 years of practice, this is one of my favorite buildings I’ve ever done,” Holl said.
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Open Oculus

Kinetic, retractable petals cap new landmark stadium in Atlanta
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When the Georgia Dome opened in 1992, its Teflon-coated fiberglass fabric roof was considered a modern marvel, stretching more than 395,000 square feet and weighing just 68 pounds. Atlanta's domed stadium hosted an impressive roster of sporting events in its 25 years of use, including three NCAA Men's Final Fours, two decades of SEC championships, two Super Bowls, two NBA seasons and an Olympics. Today, its new sibling, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, offers perhaps more impressive engineering accomplishments and promises to draw impressive sporting events to the city. Completed in August 2017, the multi-purpose venue is officially the first LEED Platinum-certified professional sports stadium in the United States.
  • Facade Manufacturer Bird Air (ETFE); Canam Structures (steel fabrication); Alpolic (composite metal panels)
  • Architects HOK
  • Facade Installer Bird Air (specialty contractor); HHRM (construction manager); Hannah Solar and Radiance Energy (solar panels)
  • Facade Consultants Buro Happold; Hoberman; EcoWorks Studio (sustainability consultant)
  • Location Atlanta, GA
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System ETFE roof pillow system; vertical single-layered ETFE film and cable net
  • Products adhered frit ETFE membrane; custom 4-layer ETFE roof pillows; composite metal panels by Alpolic
Among other industry-leading features, Mercedes-Benz Stadium is notable for its kinetic roof structure. While other stadiums with retractable roofs must allocate additional land for the entire roof assembly to open horizontally off the stadium, Mercedes-Benz Stadium offers an innovative space-saving solution by breaking down the geometry of the roof into eight triangular petals which retract in a radial fashion. The petals are composed of three layers of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) membrane fabricated into air-inflated “pillows” involving more than 143,000 square feet of membrane. The lightweight material was selected for its durability and translucency. Each petal cantilevers approximately 200 feet inwards towards the center of the stadium on 16 secondary trusses which spring from four 720-feet-long primary steel trusses. This primary steel frame spans to concrete “mega-columns.” Nested within the steel framing of the oculus is the world’s largest media wall, an immersive six-foot-tall, 360-degree HD display covering over 63,000 square feet. Unrolled, the video board would stretch three football fields long.   HOK worked with an integrated team of engineers from the start, coordinating information with a robust digital toolset that included digital modeling software. Custom algorithms and parametric modeling tools integrated the stadium’s complex geometrical layout with tens of thousands of pieces of information about the roof structure and its behavior and movement during various load scenarios. The project ultimately generated over 18,000 sheets of steel shop drawings, and during peak fabrication involved 32 factories in the U.S. and Canada making and delivering steel pieces simultaneously. The facade of the project is composed of insulated metal panels and a transparent ETFE facade, which has been marketed as a “window to the city” offering seamless visual connection to the surrounding context. ETFE in the wall assembly was fritted in a range of coverage from 20 percent to 70 percent in response to solar orientation. The composition of the angular wing-like wall panels abstractly reference the stadium’s National Football League team, the Atlanta Falcons. Beyond the Falcons, the stadium flexibly hosts Major League Soccer franchise, and is expandable for major events that the Georgia Dome used to host–Super Bowls, NCAA Final Four Basketball tournaments, FIFA World Cup matches, and major concerts and performances. To accomodate geometric differences between a soccer pitch and football field, lower level seats are retractable and an automated curtain system attached to the roof structure comes down to bring soccer fans close to the pitch. Several impressive planning decisions beyond the facade contributed to the stadium's LEED Platinum certification. Design elements of the building envelope which contributed to the stadium’s LEED Platinum certification include integrated rooftop solar panels, improved daylighting from use of ETFE, and passive cooling benefits from the retractable roof. Gus Drosos, technical principal of HOK's Kansas City office, said the consistency of the attachments of the ETFE system throughout the project and detailing of complex corners were specific successes of the building envelope design that offered valuable insight into working with ETFE and might carry over into future ETFE projects.
Additional insight into the design and construction of Mercedes Benz Stadium will be offered at the upcoming Facades+ Atlanta, where a panel of architects from HOK, EcoWorks Studio, and tvsdesign will deliver presentations in a session titled, "Designing MBS: Secrets of the Mercedes Benz Stadium." For more information on the Facades+ conference series, along with registration information, visit Facades+.
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Windows 2049

Microsoft reveals renderings for its new Silicon Valley campus upgrade
Microsoft has gone big and broken ground on its new Silicon Valley headquarters, with a sustainability-minded plan to modernize its Mountain View, California outpost. The 32-acre campus might seem small when compared to the company’s sprawling, 500-acre flagship location in Redmond, Washington, but Microsoft’s pursuit of a net zero non-potable water certification under the Living Building Challenge will make them the first tech company to totally reuse non-potable water. The redevelopment plans come as WRNS Studio replaced SOM early last year as Microsoft’s designers of choice. The redevelopment is leaning hard on a green modernization, with Microsoft pursuing LEED Platinum certification for all of its new buildings, committing to the WELL Building standards for the interiors, and integrating cross-laminated timber (CLT) throughout all of the new buildings to cut material usage. In trying to meet their water-use reduction goals, and acknowledging California’s limited groundwater availability, the campus will feature rainwater catchments and an on-site wastewater treatment plant so that drinkable water can be recycled for other uses. Because the campus is next to Stevens Creek, the tech giant is also introducing a 4-acre, occupiable green roof solely planted with native species. Rooftop solar panels will also help cut the campus’s energy usage, while the buildings will let natural light in through their uniformly large windows. Not to be outdone by the main, Seattle-adjacent campus, the project will also include an underground parking garage topped by a soccer field and a new athletics facility, while returning the former parking lots to nature. Besides modernizing the office space of their 2,000 San Francisco Bay Area-employees, the new campus will feature a renovated dining hall, new theater, conference center, and a “Microsoft Technology Center.” Microsoft has provided a full fly-through video of their plans below. The new Mountain View campus plan increases the existing 515,000-square-foot campus to 643,000 square feet, and comes amidst the recent opening of Apple’s new space-aged campus nearby. Similarly, Microsoft's renovation of its main headquarters in Redmond, announced at the same time as its Silicon Valley campus, feels like a direct response to Amazon’s city-hopping HQ2 plans. Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus is on track to re-open sometime in 2019.
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Outrageous!

The 12 best architecture controversies of 2017
As 2017 fades away, we look back at some of the controversies and debates that stirred up the waters. Here are our most memorable, outrageous topics of the year. We love it when our readers respond and add to the conversation! (See the rest of our Year in Review 2017 articles here.) Pier 55 It was dragged through the courts. It lived. It was taken back in, only to be killed again. Less than two months later, Pier 55 was resurrected for good, ending one of the most entertaining public spectacles of 2017, an epic troll-fest that had two of the city's richest men running to almost every New York paper to leak informationdrop disses, and escalate their mutual antipathy with a vigor rivaled only by Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio’s pettiness. An October deal between stakeholders and opponents assures that key parts of Hudson River Park will be rebuilt, and the governor has promised state money for these projects. Zillow's legal crusade against McMansion Hell Back in June, real estate site Zillow told Kate Wagner, creator of popular architecture blog McMansion Hell, that she had violated Zillow's terms of use on her blog and warned she had just days to delete all offending images from McMansion Hell. When Wagner posted the shocking letter online, architecture Twitter brought the roof of wrath crashing down on Zillow. Just two days and one threat later,  Zillow backed off its legal claims, allowing us to resume laughing at and learning from the nubs and weird turrets of suburban America's mega-homes. The fake architect This year, Paul J. Newman, 49, president and sole employee of architecture firm Cohesion Studios, pled guilty to posing as a licensed New York state architect for work on multiple projects, including an Albany, New York senior center and townhouse developments in the Capital Region. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office dubbed its two-year investigation “Operation Vandelay Industries,” a nod to the fake company George Costanza invented on Seinfeld to collect unemployment benefits. In September, Newman was sentenced to a maximum of seven years in prison in Saratoga County, New York, with more arraignments to follow. Building Trump's border wall In late February, the Department of Homeland Security announced it was accepting bids for a U.S.-Mexico border wall, and the first prototypes for this highly controversial project were revealed in October. Beyond its dubious efficacy and shaky moral foundation, the wall's construction will also destroy wildlife preserves and homes in Texas and possibly other states. Trump tax plan guts Historic Tax Credit The House’s tax plan eliminates the Historic Tax Credit (HTC), an important revitalization tool for municipalities across the country. The Senate’s rules are only slightly better: Its bill would spread out the current 20 percent credit for recognized historic structures over five years, and eliminate the ten percent credit for buildings erected before 1936. When the bill (officially known as Tax Cuts and Jobs Act) went into conference early this month, the AIA said it would lobby hard against the proposed HTC cuts. The sinking Millennium Tower The 58-story Millennium Tower, designed by Handel Architects, has sunk nearly 17 inches since its opening in 2009. Recently, engineers with Arup—employed to work on the currently under-construction Salesforce Tower designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects next door—inspected the Millennium Tower’s rooftop height and found that the tower had sunk an additional 2 ½ inches beyond the initial 14 ½–inch drop recorded last year. Troublingly, the tower is not only sinking, but it is sinking unevenly, resulting in a measurable slant to the 645-foot-tall complex. As the muddy and sandy soils beneath it give way, it continues to tilt precariously toward the Salesforce Tower. Whoops. The Oculus leaks Last year, we asked architects what they thought of Santiago Calatrava's Oculus, the train station in a mall near the World Trade Center. Besides its grand spindly dino bone shape and horrific interior detailing, leaks in the ceiling deposit puddles on the marble floors, and these slippery surfaces have sent multiple people to the hospital. Not only that, a malfunctioning escalator injured two passengers in April. It may prove to be an iconic transit hub, but watch your step for now. The Raiders hoof it to Las Vegas This year, National Football League (NFL) owners approved the Oakland Raiders' relocation to Las Vegas, heralding what could be the final play in the nearly two-year-long drama that has unfolded as several West Coast teams reshuffle hometowns. Las Vegas city officials courted the Raiders for months, offering $750 million in public financing for the team’s Manica Architecture–designed $1.9 billion (yes) stadium proposal. The 65,000 seat stadium—a recycled scheme left over from the team’s attempt to move to Carson, California last year—features a large-scale, retractable side wall that would allow the stadium to become partially open-air. In May, the team purchased a 62-acre site for their future stadium, but it can't move into its new digs until 2020, an awkward situation given the emotionally fraught pre-move negotiations. Zumthor's LACMA scheme The Los Angeles County Museum of Art's (LACMA) $600 million expansion by Atelier Zumthor's will demolish the entirety of the existing William Pereira–designed campus, including a 1986 addition by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer done in the postmodern style. The proposed changes would leave in place the 2008 Renzo Piano-designed Broad Contemporary Art Museum addition as well as the Japanese Pavilion by Bruce Goff from 1988. Despite the 390,000-square-foot expansion's hefty price tag and the sacrifice of several key works of late modern and postmodern architecture, Zumthor’s proposal will generate a net loss in gallery space for LACMA. Instead, the new museum will be designed as a singular mega-gallery carved up into differently-sized rooms. Plans call for the proposal to undergo further review over the next several months, and construction is expected to begin sometime in late 2018. Monument removal After white nationalists provoked violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and amid a national climate of heightened bigotry, cities and towns across the county are re-evaluating their public monuments. With little fanfare, under the cover of night, the City of Baltimore took down four Confederate monuments in August. After protests, New York City established an independent commission this fall to review the city’s public monuments for "symbols of hate." Other monuments are being tried in the court of public opinion: Is Christopher Columbus an Italian hero, or an imperialist monster? What about Teddy Roosevelt? The weight of history bears heavily on these questions. Zaha's sidelined Manhattan supertall The major redevelopment of the Kushner Companies' 666 Fifth Avenue building by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) is stalled for good. Kushner’s partner on the project, Vornado Realty Trust, has decided to simply renovate the site’s existing structure. Kushner’s original plan with ZHA called for stripping the current building down to its steel core and extending it up into a 1,400-foot-tall slender cigarette of a tower. 'Hands off my Johnson' Architects took to the streets to protest changes to the AT&T Building, Philip Johnson and John Burgee’s iconic postmodern tower. Among other changes, the Snøhetta-led redo would glass in the building's signature 110-foot-tall arched stone entryway. Denise Scott Brown, Sean Griffiths, Adam Nathaniel Furman, Paul Goldberger, and others took to AN's pages to weigh in on the design (TL;DR glassing in the base is clearly a bad idea). Thanks to activists' efforts, the pomo marvel on Madison Avenue is now up for landmarking.
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Mid-rise Milieu

These four developments will reshape L.A.’s storied Solano Canyon corridor
Four forthcoming developments planned for areas immediately surrounding the recently-opened Los Angeles State Historical Park in Downtown Los Angeles's Chinatown and Solano Canyon neighborhoods have the potential to completely reshape the industrial, working-class area into a new node for mid-rise, mixed-use urbanism. According to various reports and an environmental review, the four projects detailed below will bring up to 1,690 housing units, 92,406 square feet of retail and office spaces, and 2,962 parking stalls to several transit-adjacent lots currently occupied by industrial warehouses, parking lots, or hillside brush. The new 32-acre state park opened earlier this year after a lengthy approval and renovation process and will eventually link to a fully-restored Los Angeles River greenway. The largest of these developments will be the two-phase Elysian Lofts complex by developers Lincoln Property Company, S&R Properties, and architects Newman Garrison + Partners. The linear development will be located on a long, narrow site bounded by the Gold Line and Broadway. The southern end of the 8.08-acre site closest to the Chinatown transit stop will be developed first. That section will include 451 residential units—including seven live-work suites— and 9,871 square feet of ground-floor retail. This phase will also include 3,465 square feet of office spaces and a three-level subterranean parking garage containing 880 parking stalls. Phase one of the project will be distributed across three mid-rise towers rising between 7- and 14-stories in height with the tallest tower topping out at 155 feet. The second phase of the project will improve the northernmost section of the site with 469 units, 8,070 square feet of retail, and 2,000 square feet of offices. This phase of the development will also include 10 live-work units. This second three-tower complex will sit atop a three-story parking podium with 903 parking stalls and will bookend a linear park located between the two development parcels. Phase two will be distributed across three mid-rise towers rising 7-, 8-, and 14-stories in height with the tallest tower topping out at 170 feet. The northern section of the site will also host a two-story structure containing a rooftop pool for use by residents. Renderings for the project depict grouped clusters of variegated mid-rise towers clad in large expanses of glass with views oriented over the State Historic Park. The development also features tree-lined sidewalks along Broadway and internal walkways but does not physically connect to the State Historic Park. According to currently available materials, the development does not include an affordable housing component. Just below the transit stop at the foot of the Elysian Lofts site, architects Workshop Design Collective is working on a 50,000-square-foot adaptive reuse project aimed at transforming the historic Capitol Milling Building. The brick- and timber-truss structure dates to 1881 and is being designed to include an artisanal food hall, a microbrewery, and creative offices among other uses. The five-building complex will be connected by a series of indoor-outdoor spaces that include a mezzanine level, dining terraces, and a public staircase. Across the street, architects Johnson Fain and developer Atlas Capital Group are working on a new mixed-use complex called College Station that will contain 770 dwelling units, 51,000 square feet of ground floor commercial spaces, and parking for 1,179 cars and 899 bicycles. The development will be spread out across six structures situated above a two-story podium containing parking and retail. The cluster of mid-rise housing blocks would be connected by a terrace level located above the podium. Renderings of the project depict a mix of linear apartment blocks featuring projecting balconies, metal panel cladding, and vertical louvers. The controversial project has been scaled down over time due to community concerns that it would jump-start gentrification in the area. Chinatown’s median household income is roughly $22,754 per year according to Preserve LA, and while the development is expected to contain some affordable housing, it is unclear whether those units would be affordable to current longtime residents. Just down the street from College Station, Omgivning is working on a 19,000-square foot adaptive reuse complex that would transform an existing poultry processing plant into a creative office and retail complex for developer City Constructors. The project involves designing the creative office portion of the building into a new 10,000-square-foot headquarters for the developer with the remaining 9,000 square feet of space dedicated to restaurants and retail. These projects are currently in various stages of development and will join a growing number of long-term proposals for areas surrounding Chinatown, the Los Angeles River, and the adjacent Olvera Street and Civic Center neighborhoods that include a new master plan as well as a speculative proposal by AECOM to add 36,000 housing units to areas around the L.A. River. With construction ramping up and new schemes coming to light almost weekly, it’s clear that the areas around L.A.’s Chinatown will soon look very different than they do today.
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Winter is Coming

Rooftop ice rinks are the new High Line
Just in time for the cold weather to set in, a new trend in urban entertainment is heating up: rooftop ice rinks. The Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. will open a skating rink and lounge on November 16, giving guests and visitors another reason to visit its rooftop bar and a new way to take in views of the nation’s capital, 14 stories above the street. “There are other skating rinks in the District of Columbia, but there isn’t another hotel in D.C. that has a skating rink on the roof,” said Debbie Johnsen, the hotel’s digital marketing director. The hotel's management team was looking for a way to attract people to its Top of the Gate rooftop bar during the winter months, and decided adding a rooftop rink would do that, explained general manager Jeff David. "We were brainstorming about how we could keep the popularity of the Top of the Gate going–how we could extend it for 12 months of the year," he said. "This was almost a no-brainer." Becoming a popular ice skating destination is perhaps an unexpected direction for the Watergate, which is known for its association with the 1972 break-in of the Democrat National Committee headquarters in the adjacent Watergate office building. The hotel marks its 50th anniversary this year, after closing in 2007 and reopening last year following a $125 million, six-year renovation. The hotel's oval rink, called Top of the Skate, measures 70 by 20 feet and can accommodate 40 to 50 skaters at a time. Open during the winter months, it offers views of the Potomac River and the city’s monuments while patrons enjoy S’mores, mulled wine, and German-style pretzels in the lounge. The rink also features a skate-up bar so guests can order a drink without leaving the ice. The Watergate’s rink is the latest in a series of rooftop ice rinks that are opening around the world, often as part of hotels. These rinks constitute a new trend aimed at rejuvenating cities by giving people another reason to come downtown in the winter months, when tourists tend to visit in fewer numbers. They also represent a relatively low-cost, creative use of previously dormant urban space. Their appeal is unmistakable; they combine two things many people like: skating rinks and rooftop bars. For patrons, they offer vistas that ground-level rinks don’t have and a new way to socialize, combining entertainment and exercise. For hotels, rooftop rinks are photogenic and provide a new experience to draw patrons. They’re ideal settings for “selfie” moments that can later be posted on Facebook, further promoting the hotel. The Watergate even has an ice skating package, which includes skating and skate rentals and a reduced room rate for skaters who want to stay overnight. Some rooftop rinks are made with real ice. Others, including the one at the Watergate, are made with synthetic ice, composed of interlocking polymer panels designed for skating with conventional metal-bladed ice skates. The synthetic ice panels don’t add as much weight to a roof as actual ice would and require less maintenance. They can also be installed in a relatively short time and dismantled when the season is over. Europe’s highest rooftop rink opened last winter atop the 354-meter OKO tower in Moscow’s commercial district. London got its first rooftop rink on November 2, when Skylight London opened at Skylight Tobacco Dock in East London. Located on the 10th floor of the Penning Street parking garage, where a croquet court was, the rink doubles as a rooftop bar, complete with cocktails and chocolate fondue. In Toronto, a division of the Molson Coors Brewing Company built a temporary, 100-foot-by-45-foot rink atop a 32-story office building for winners of its #AnythingForHockey contest in 2015. There was so much interest the rink was later opened to the public for group bookings, but it was eventually dismantled. Other rinks prove that winter temperatures aren’t a requirement to enjoy this amenity. Las Vegas has The Ice Rink at Boulevard Pool, a 4,200-square-foot rink on the roof of The Cosmopolitan Hotel, where skaters can take in views of the Strip from four stories up. Construction also began this month on Atlanta’s Skate the Sky, a 3,500-square-foot rink 10 stories above Ponce City Market on Ponce De Leon Avenue. Capable of holding 90 to 100 skaters at a time, it’s scheduled to open November 20. “I don’t think there’s another rooftop skating rink anywhere in Atlanta or maybe even in the Southeast," Brett Hull-Ryde of Slater Hospitality, which will operate the rink, told Fox5 in Atlanta. “We’re happy that we’re getting this opportunity to show people another way to have some fun."
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South Park

27-story tower to rise next to Halprin’s Grand-Hope Park in downtown L.A.
Developer Forest City West and architects Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB) have unveiled renderings for a new 27-story apartment tower slated for construction on a site directly opposite the Lawrence Halprin–designed Grand-Hope Park in Downtown Los Angeles. The residential tower—currently known as 949 Hope Street—will feature 236 market-rate apartments as well as 6,700 square feet of ground floor retail spaces, Urbanize.la reports. Renderings for the tower depict a glass curtain wall–clad monolith anchored to the street by a low, single-story plinth containing retail and sidewalk seating. The tower’s base is topped along this commercial wing with an amenity level that is depicted as a rooftop garden and lounge. This level extends behind the tower into the center of the block, where parking and more terrace spaces are located. The building features a rounded corner that demarcates a cut-through walkway along the southern edge of the site and also features inset balconies along each facade. The tower is topped, according to the renderings, with a rooftop pool and a circular indoor lounge area. The project is slated for a booming quarter of L.A.’s downtown known as South Park. The area is currently ablaze with construction cranes, as the first of upwards of 20 residential and high-end hotel towers take shape in the areas surrounding the Los Angeles Convention Center and L.A. Live entertainment complexes just to the south of the 949 Hope Street site. The northern section of the neighborhood—where the proposed tower will be located—has seen a sharp increase in high- and mid-rise residential projects over the last few years, with many more on the way. The area was originally targeted for growth in the late 1980s—with the help of Halprin and developer Maguire Partners—who envisioned Grand-Hope park as the southern cap of a district-wide parks system that would connect residential areas with corporate office towers located several blocks to the north on Bunker Hill. Though many elements of that parks system were never implemented, Halprin’s designs for the bookend parks—Grand-Hope Park to the south and Maguire Gardens at the north—were built and currently function as urban oases amid the flurry of construction. Grand-Hope Park shares a site with the postmodern-style, Jerde-designed Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising from 1993 and is heavily used by neighborhood residents. There are concerns among park preservationists over whether the mature trees in Grand-Hope park might be singed by the light reflected from the many glass towers sprouting up in the area. Tellingly, representations of the park are mostly omitted in the newly-released renderings. The 949 Hope Street project is slated for completion sometime in 2020.
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K-town Popping

Pei Cobb Freed to bring 33-story tower to L.A.’s Koreatown
A previously-reported mixed-use project slated for Los Angeles’s Koreatown neighborhood has added storied architects Pei Cobb Freed & Partners to its project team. According to a Los Angeles Department of City Planning report, the so-called Wilshire Gate project aims to bring a 200-key hotel, 250 condominium units, 21,320 square feet of restaurant and retail spaces, and 16,410 square feet of offices to the transit-adjacent site located at the intersection of Vermont Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard. The project includes 279 residential parking spaces as well as 204 parking stalls set aside for the commercial and office uses. The project will also include 250 long-term bicycle storage lockers as well as 25 short-term bicycle storage spaces for a grand total of 275 bicycle stalls. The current iteration of the tower proposes more affordable units and fewer bicycle parking stalls than previous versions of the development. The project’s residential component includes 22 affordable housing units set aside for “very-low income” residents; these units will allow developer Jia Long USA to receive a density bonus on the project, which boosts the tower’s overall possible height to 450 feet. The project will include landscape architecture services from YKD as well as executive architectural services from Archeon Group. Renderings for the project depict a conventional glass curtain wall–clad tower-over-podium arrangement with a gridded organization of projecting balconies occupying a central area of the tower’s west-facing facade. Documentation for the project specifies aluminum composite panels and storefront systems for ground floor and podium-level areas, with PPG low-E glass wrapping the majority of the tower. The tower will contain seven parking levels above two retail floors, with the hotel program rising above. A hotel amenity level will be located on the eighth and ninth floors of the complex. The development’s residential units will be located along the upper half of the building, with the uppermost floors occupied by a pair of penthouse levels and a rooftop amenity terrace. The project site is currently occupied by a pair of commercial structures that will be demolished to make way for the new development. The project will also be located adjacent to the recently-proposed Korean American National Museum by Gruen Associates. The project is scheduled to begin construction later this year and is expected to be complete sometime in 2019. The project will be up for review by the Los Angeles City Planning Commission on November 9, 2017.