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See You Soon

Here’s what we know about the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial so far
This May, the Chicago Architecture Biennial announced this year’s participants for the upcoming ...and other such stories biennial. Architects, designers, and artists from all over the world will participate in projects that engage with land, memory, rights, and civic participation. “For this year’s Chicago Architecture Biennial, the curatorial focus brings to light architectural stories that are often overshadowed by more familiar narratives,” said executive director Todd Palmer. “The Chicago contributors' works for 2019 draw from their ongoing engagement with local communities working towards a more equitable architectural landscape in this city.” Here is what we know so far about Chicago-based participants featured in the upcoming biennial: Artist and University of Chicago professor Theaster Gates will center his project around the vacant buildings he has purchased in Chicago and the complexities of land ownership. When Gates originally purchased the buildings, there was a severe lack of interest in those areas due to violence and disinvestment from the city. He plans to create found poetry from the legal land documents between himself, the banks, and the city—what he claims are the pieces that no one sees but are intrinsically personal to him. Gates said, “I want to talk about my love of space, and how a commitment to contracts will ultimately create new opportunities for emerging artists and affordable housing.” Artist Maria Gaspar will exhibit an interactive installation reflecting her artistic practice both inside and outside the Cook County Jail, located in her childhood neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side. “It will be interesting for me to see how my own spatial research engages with the broader field of architecture and how borders impact communities,” said Gaspar. Artist Santiago X is partnering with the American Indian Center of Chicago and Chicago Public Art Group to produce a large-scale installation that will express a vision to construct indigenous future-scapes. “Participating in this year's Chicago Architecture Biennial is an incredible opportunity for me to contribute to the revitalization of indigenous landscapes throughout Chicago,” said the artist. Design practice Borderless Studio will examine social infrastructure in the context of unprecedented public-school closures in 2013. The studio’s Creative Grounds initiative offers a framework for how art, design, and architecture can create a more inclusive process for repurposing closed schools. Artists Iker Gil and the Luftwerk duo of Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero will splash the Farnsworth House in lasers. The Chicago Architecture Biennial ...and other such stories will run from September 19, 2019, to January 5, 2020. Altogether, there will be more than 40 participating organizations and sites citywide. For the full list of contributors, see here.
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Newseum News!

Ennead to transform its Newseum building for Johns Hopkins University

Ennead Architects, the New York-based firm formerly known as Polshek Partnership, will team up with SmithGroup to redevelop the Newseum building in Washington, D.C. for Johns Hopkins University. The Baltimore-based university announced its plans to purchase the building from the nonprofit Freedom Forum earlier this year for $372.5 million. Johns Hopkins will consolidate its existing real estate holdings in the city at the new offshoot building on Pennsylvania Avenue, which will host various academic and administrative initiatives.

Ennead is an appropriate choice to head the project for obvious reasons. Led by architect James Polshek, the firm designed the current Newseum building before changing its name from Polshek Partnership in 2010. Opened in 2008, the building has several distinct features, including a 75-foot-tall marble slab engraved with an excerpt from the First Amendment. A so-called “window on the world” also occupies the structure’s Pennsylvania Avenue frontage, allowing for views between the street, the National Mall, and visitors inside the museum. Ennead has handled multiple high-profile museum projects around the world, such as the Rose Center for Earth and Space at New York’s American Museum of Natural History and the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Ennead submitted initial drawings for the major remodeling to the U.S. Commission on Fine Arts (CFA) on July 3. Before construction can begin, the commission must provide informal feedback and officially approve of the final design. The filing sent to the CFA indicates that certain aspects of the building’s facade will change. The marble tablet with the excerpt from the Constitution, as well as the newspaper headlines that line the avenue, will be removed. The entrance will be reimagined as more transparent and open. Due to boundary line regulations on Pennsylvania Avenue, though, much of the structure’s original massing will remain in place.

The interior will undergo a significant transformation as well. The university has announced plans to reconfigure floor slabs and circulation within the building—currently, much of the museum is positioned around a large, multistory central void. With more than 400,000 square feet of floor space available inside, the facility will house classrooms, offices, and event spaces that will be open to the public. No plans for alterations to the 135-unit Newseum Residences have been released.

As for the Newseum itself, administrators at Freedom Forum have not yet announced where the museum will move. After years of serious budget deficits, the institution will close temporarily at the end of 2019. Employees will work out of a provisional office in Washington until a new home is found. Hopkins has suggested that construction on its facility could begin as early as 2020, and as late as 2023, with no estimated completion date.

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Feu! Feu!

New report details what went wrong the night of the Notre-Dame fire
Apparently, Notre-Dame Cathedral was more likely to collapse than we were led to believe on April 15, when a historic fire sent not only Paris but the world into a state of mourning over the potential loss of a beloved architectural landmark.  The New York Times has discovered, after reviewing hundreds of documents and completing a series of interviews with church officials and leaders from the fire security company responsible for Notre-Dame, that there was a major miscommunication about where exactly the flames had started. According to the report, when the fire alarm went off at 6:18 p.m., the guard sent to check on the warning went to the wrong building—the sacristy, not the attic—which seriously delayed the response effort.  It took 30 minutes before anyone realized what was happening. By the time the guard climbed up to “the forest,” the famous attic constructed of aged timber beams holding up the roof, the fire was unstoppable. Failure to identify the location of the blaze in time was only the first misstep in a series of errors that night.  The NYT found another critical reason why the damage was so bad; the fire warning system was “so arcane that when it was called upon to do the one thing that mattered — warn “fire!” and say where — it produced instead a nearly indecipherable message.” Reporters uncovered archival documents in a Paris library detailing the lengths at which the cathedral staff and fire protection experts had taken over six years to put the alarm in place, but it was simply too old and too slow. Not only that, but Notre-Dame’s attic didn’t contain any sprinklers or firewalls.  Perhaps one of the most unfortunate causes of the blaze was the newness of the employee who communicated the location of the fire to the guard. The NYT reported that it was only his third day on the job, and he had just started a double shift manning the presbytery room, which contained a complicated control panel that alerted him to smoke anywhere in the complex. There’s debate over whether he understood the alert and whether he communicated it correctly. Recent staff cuts at Notre-Dame had left him solo, according to The Telegraph. The cathedral’s spire had fallen an hour into the fight against the blaze, and the fire was so all-consuming that all firefighters on site were ordered to return to the ground where, after realizing the wind was pushing the fire towards the northern bell tower, they switched their efforts to save that structure instead. By 9:45 p.m., things were under control.  This NYT report sheds light on the various elements that caused the fire at Notre-Dame to get so far out of control. By chronicling the night’s events, hour by hour, we can now see how fragile the cathedral truly was, and how close we were to losing it forever—and by some estimates, still are. An official investigation by the French government is still ongoing to determine the cause of the fire, though it’s believed that no malice was intended. As of yesterday, parliament has approved a bill to reconstruct Notre-Dame by 2024, meaning the $954 million collected in donations following the fire will go directly to the restoration. According to the Senate, the building will be rebuilt to historical accuracy, though it will be a while before that can begin. Work on reinforcing the structure is currently proceeding very slowly and the project’s chief architect says it could still collapse if the flying buttresses aren’t shored up properly, CNN reports
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Three's Company

Pelli Clarke Pelli's massive tower complex will transform the Toronto skyline
A 4.3-million-square-foot, multi-tower development by Pelli Clarke Pelli could reshape the Toronto skyline as it is expected to become the largest mixed-use project in the city. Located in Union Park in the shadow of CN Tower, the $3.5 billion complex will bring 3.3 million square feet of offices, 800 residential units, and 200,000 square feet of high-quality retail to the city. The Union Park complex is an arrangement of three glassy towers on podiums: two are designed as near-mirror images, and the third will include housing with units specifically designed for families. A featured amenity of that third tower will be the 8,5000-square-foot daycare facility. Eric Plesman, executive vice president of North America, Oxford Properties, said the project would bring, “tens of thousands of jobs to Toronto … [creating] a progressive new workplace and community for working and living.” The development also allows the developer the opportunity to construct an adjoining two-acre urban park over the extant Union Station Rail Corridor, in an aim to deliver public green space to downtown. Additionally, the podium levels will feature large office floor plates of an estimated 100,000 square feet each. The project team includes Adamson Associates as Architect of Record, OJB Landscape Architecture, and developers Oxford Properties Group. Oxford is no slouch to the ground-up neighborhood development game or decking over railyards, having partnered with developer Related Companies in 2010 to build the 26-acre Hudson Yards in Manhattan. The sprawling project is currently accepting community input before being submitted to the Toronto City Council for formal consideration.
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Futuro on the Roof

This strip club's VIP room is a long-forgotten Futuro house
I first encountered a Futuro house in a lavish palazzo during Milan Design Week in 2016. It was part of Louis Vuitton’s exhibition Objets Nomades. Fifty years, ago, a futuristic prefab house hit the market in the U.S.A. Originally designed in the 1960s by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen, the portable houses featured built-in furniture, a full bedroom and bathroom, heating and air conditioning, as well as a living room and dining room. The fiber-reinforced fiberglass shell was punctuated by oval windows—an iconic shape now associated with futuristic design (and UFOs). But despite its place in design history, very few Futuro houses remain. There are around 60 of the houses left, which have become a mix of residences, tourist-draws on Airbnb, and museum pieces, among other quirky uses. The most exciting might be in Tampa Bay, Florida. Suuronen's company stopped production in 1975, partly due to rising production costs in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis. One house, a display model used in Clearwater, ended up in the hands of local Futuro dealership manager Jerry DeLong, who also happened to also own “2001 Odyssey"—a local strip club. The spaceship first appeared in ads in 1971, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The club was making big money until the mob pressured DeLong to sell, and, according to the Tampa Bay Times, fell under the ownership of “the Trafficantes,” or the crew led by Santo Trafficante Jr. Several years later, in 1974, Pasquale “Pat” Matassini bought the club, but Matassini was later convicted of distributing $1 million in counterfeit cash, and in 1992, was accused of having ties to the Tampa crime family because he owned a bar called Godfather’s on Trafficante-owned land. These days, according to the Tampa Bay Times, "the spaceship is entered via a carpeted staircase from the first floor of the club. There’s a curved bar in the center, serving soft drinks and water. Black lace curtains hang over leather booths that wrap around the mirrored walls. The ceiling is adorned with glow-in-the-dark constellations and a disco ball." the Futuro house has become 2001 Odyssey's VIP room." Well, this is one possible “future,” but probably not the one Suuronen imagined for his visionary design. For more on where the other remaining Futuro houses have landed, check out thefuturohouse.com.
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Austrian Influence

Resident Alien will chronicle the contributions of Austrian-American architects
Adolf Loos is widely known for setting the stage for the modernist movement in architecture, and the Austrian architect and theorist is arguably one of the most influential practitioners ever born. At the height of his impact in the late 19th century, when he designing structures both in Austria and what’s now the Czech Republic, Loos began writing seriously on the subject of minimalism and why architecture should do without ornamentation.  Richard Neutra was coming of age at the same time, along with his would-be close friend Rudolph Schindler. Both Vienna-born men had hugely successful careers designing modernist homes in Southern California—structures that were undoubtedly guided by the teachings of Loos.  An upcoming exhibition at the Austrian Cultural Forum New York is shining a light on the distinct cultural contributions that Austrian-American architects like Loos, Neutra, and Schindler have made over the last century in the United States. On view starting in September, Resident Alien: Austrian Architects in America will feature numerous practitioners whose expertise not only changed the profession but in some cases, the American zeitgeist. Think Victor Gruen, inventor of the mid-century American shopping mall Curated by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Architecture professor Stephen Phillips and Cal Poly Pomona professor Axel Schmitzberger, the exhibition will break down the impact of the migrant architects through three ethereal categories: Cloud Structures, Media Atmosphere, and Urban Terrestrials. The organizers will rely on the help of designer and UCLA professor, Julia Koerner, as well as B+U co-founder and SCI-Arc professor Herwig Baumgartner, to chronicle the works of their Austrian predecessors in America. Both young architects will also be featured in the show.  According to a press release, Resident Alien will bring a much-needed dialogue about the momentous immigration architects made from Austria to the U.S. during the modernist period, and why it so heavily affected American architecture. The curators will also explore the concept of bicultural heritage and how it has been, and is currently, communicated through space, technology, art, education, and more today.  While details on the makeup and materials of the exhibition haven’t been released yet, the other contemporary architects represented will include Carl Pruscha, Hans Hollein, Peter Trummer, and Mark Mack, as well as the partners at Coop Himmelb(l)au, Barbara Imhof of Liquifer Systems Group, Maties Del Campo and Sandra Maninger of SPAN Architecture, and Andrea Lenardin of A-L-M Projects, among others. The late Raimund Abraham, who designed the Austrian Cultural Forum's New York building itself, as well as Liane Zimbler, the first European woman to get an architecture degree, will also be featured. Resident Alien will run through February 2020. 
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Spatial Contract

Hashim Sarkis announces the 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale theme
How will we live together? That’s the seemingly simple, yet poignant, question posed by Hashim Sarkis, dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning and curator of the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, and also the title of the show set to start next May. Though it’s nearly a year away, Sarkis announced that it’s time for architects to think about their role in creating a new, collective "spatial contract"—one that is inclusive and addresses two of the most pressing needs in both advanced and emerging economies today: social housing and urban connectivity.  “We need a new spatial contract,” Sarkis said in a statement. “In the context of widening political divides and growing economic inequalities, we call on architects to imagine spaces in which we can generously live together: together as human beings who, despite our increasing individuality, yearn to connect with one another and with other species across digital and real space; together as new households looking for more diverse and dignified spaces for inhabitation…and together as a planet facing crisis that require global action for us to continue living at all.” In order to build societies where we can successfully live together, according to Sarkis, architects need to engage with and enlist the expertise of those outside the design profession, such as artists, politicians, builders, social scientists, and journalists. Everyday citizens are also key to designing spaces that are truly for all people. National participants of the 2020 Biennale will be asked to introduce creative solutions made in tandem with these other stakeholders. Architects will act as both a “cordial convener and custodian of the spatial contract” in the execution of these projects, as well as in the real world.  Paolo Baratta, president of the Venice Architecture Biennale, said this way of thinking and of curating the summer design event has been slowly building over the last few years. “The Biennale Architettura 2018 has brought our attention on free space,” he said, “an essential element of our living that has been omitted in so many recent developments. With Hashim Sarkis we will try to expand our horizon to all these issues raised by our living together. Living together means first and foremost awareness of [the] potential crisis and old and new problems that do not get appropriate solutions, nor often appropriate attention, in the spontaneous development of our economies and societies and that require enhanced attention and an extensive and courageous planning capacity.” The purpose of the biennale is to help unify contributing countries around the new spatial contract charged by Sarkis. Since 2020 is considered by some to be a milestone year, it’s imperative, said Sarkis, that architects look to the collective imagination of leaders across every profession to prepare for the occasion.  Starting May 23rd, 2020, the National Participants of the biennale will showcase their own work in the individual Pavilions located at the Giardini and the Arsenale. A series of Collateral Events, presented by international institutions, will also be held in Venice alongside the exhibition through November 29, 2020. Interestingly enough, no information on what the U.S. will be contributing in 2020 has been released as of yet. While the design team for the American Pavilion has, in the past, been chosen in May of the year before the Biennale, the State Department waited until September 2017 to release their choice for the 16th Biennale.
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Stranger Sites

For season three of Stranger Things, they built an entire mall
The angular mid-80s architecture of a derelict shopping center in Duluth, Georgia, has garnered fame in recent weeks after the release of the third season of Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things. Avid fans of the show may recognize that Gwinnett Place Mall—an actual mall located in a suburb of Atlanta, was transformed as the setting for major moments that take place in Hawkins, Indiana’s newest attraction: The Starcourt Mall.  Production designer Chris Trujillo spoke with The L.A. Times about the search and intense-build out for Starcourt Mall, as well as why the writing team chose to center the plot on the all-too-familiar, small-town-gets-big-mall storyline. In the interview, he said it made sense to showcase how Hawkins was changing with the introduction of the mega-shopping center, right alongside how the main characters were themselves changing. No longer little kids who saved the world, everyone was growing up facing their own relationship and materialist concerns. Much of teenage life in Midwestern America at that time was spent at the mall.  After investigating a dozen structures built from 1984-85, the production team settled on Gwinnett Place Mall, a 1.3 million-square-foot space that, during its first 16 years of operation, attracted people from all over Georgia as well as neighboring South Carolina. By 2001, with the opening of both the Mall of Georgia and Sugarloaf Mills, the space began its slow descent into obscurity. Now, thanks to the production team’s massive retrofit—gutting and rebuilding nearly 40 stores and restaurants—as well as a slew of tweets from curious fans that tried to sneak a peak of the set last year, the mall has experienced a meteoric rise in popularity.  According to Trujillo, most of the filming inside the 34-year-old mall took place around its food court, a gem of 1984-era interior architecture with a soaring atrium and vaulted geometric ceilings. It was the showpiece of the mall, he told the L.A. Times. But more than that, the large, two-story interior gave way to the “dynamic camerawork” that the Duffer brothers are famous for.  In an effort to make the Gwinnett Place Mall truly feel like a time warp set specifically for the horror sci-fi series, the production team not only recreated the facades of iconic retail spaces with all period-appropriate signage and window displays, but in some cases, the entire stores themselves were redone. From Orange Julius to the Gap, Radio Shack, and JC Penny, the brief moments these places popped up on screen helped paint an authentic picture of 1980s consumerism. One of the most-filmed spots within Starcourt Mall was Scoops Ahoy, the made-up ice cream shop where Steven Harrington works. Trujillo called that project, which was built entirely from scratch, “our special little baby.” Spoilers ahead: In that ice cream shop is where Steve, Dustin, and newcomer Robin decode secrete Russian messages that lead them to discover there’s a world-ending operation taking place beneath their feet—the portal to the Upside Down is being reopened. That importance to the overarching plot helps explain why so much attention was paid to the layout of the mall. Apart from a scrapbook found on location with old images of the Gwinnett Place Mall from its heyday, the inspiration for the build-out came from the memories of staffers on the production and decoration teams. Most people on the team's leadership grew up in the 80s and 90s and made decisions for Starcourt based on what they remember it felt like to be in those spaces as a kid.  “There is a homogeneity to the architecture of malls,” Trujillo told the L.A. Times. “They’re all calibrated to be similar spaces. We had to be somewhat specific about the regionality, but I definitely brought a lot of my childhood and teenage memories of hanging out and working in malls.” Though the set is closed to the public and is already being dismantled, according to one reporter who chronicled his visit for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), that hasn’t stopped fans from trying to take photos of the interior through fences. As a focal point of “Stranger Things 3,” Gwinnett Place Mall will forever live on in memories of fans forever, despite its soon-to-be demolition. The AJC reported in February that a sports stadium developer plans to build a mixed-use complex with a 20,000-seat cricket arena on the site.
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Survive and Thrive

Akoaki is blending design disciplines in Detroit
Upon their arrival to Detroit, partners Anya Sirota and Jean Louis Farges took four years to understand the complex landscapes and narratives that co-exist within the city. At the time, Detroit was fully entrenched in “ruin porn” and the design interest of the city followed a fascination with degradation or a re-imagination to building new. Cultural assets (like the industrial design of cars and jazz music) once thrived in the city and continue to have national and international range. Often though, the direct impact upon the residents is nonexistent. Akoaki [pronounced ak-o-ak-i] is compelled to research fields of architecture and art and their relationships to equitable redevelopment. By embracing the power of aesthetics and form-making, the couple peels away normative tropes of social practice. Beginning with aspirations to include aesthetics, beauty, and pomp creates pieces that do not comply with age. Often feeling burdened by good taste, Akoaki’s aesthetic quality tries to be bigger and badder. Imaging Detroit Supported by a Research on the City grant from the University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning, Imaging Detroit is, in a nutshell, an international film festival and pop-up agora. The project investigates the many ways Detroit has been portrayed over the last decade, be it film or publications. Sirota and Farges, along with a suite of collaborators, researched the way people construct narratives around the city and responses to those narratives. A major challenge of the project was how to stage an event in this context without contributing to a proliferation of ruin porn and social degradation. The goal was to create true conversation and a positive impact while staging a public debate and open speculation. The 36-hour event transformed Perrien Park into a civic space with screenings, conversations, exhibitions, food, and leisure—a true ephemeral urbanization. Detroit Cultivator In collaboration with the six-acre Oakland Avenue Urban Farm (OAUF), Akoaki is designing a master plan that combines agriculture, culture, business, and ecology to envision a landscape that is both economically and ecologically sustainable. The project required navigating through major issues regarding land ownership, pressure from developers, and water access. After working with the University of Michigan Law School and a team of “moral investors” to secure the land, a business plan was created with volunteers from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. The plan prioritizes the farm’s productivity to create a source of income and a flexible space for neighborhood entrepreneurs. As a result, the master plan features existing structures that will eventually become public amenity spaces; for example, a shoe-shine parlor will reopen as a multi-tenant commercial space and performance venue. Rather than keeping the farm purely agricultural, Sirota and Farges sought to activate other existing uses through building and site interventions. The project is an experimental urban prototype, though Akoaki is working to ensure the farm can become a permanent fixture in the neighborhood. Jackson, Mississippi Sirota and Farges’s experience working on Detroit Cultivator has set them up to discover a similar food-related project, this time in Mississippi. Supported by a $1 million public art grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, “Fertile Ground: Inspiring Dialogue about Food Access” brings together architects and artists with chefs, gardeners, food policy experts, and local institutions to facilitate a year of community-engaged interventions. Ultimately, the project aims to establish a nonprofit research lab on food access that will operate on a permanent basis to sustain the momentum that is created. While Mississippi is known for its agriculture, a majority of the food grown in the state leaves, and Jackson is full of “food swamps”—a plethora of fast food options as opposed to fresh food. Rather than return to the “idyllic” past of farming (an image that is not necessarily representationally positive to everyone), Akoaki has formulated a “neo-rural” environment that deserves an aesthetic value and brings together aspirations of the city. Midtown Cultural Center Detroit’s Midtown Cultural Connections organized a year-long competition in an effort to connect Detroit’s most significant cultural institutions. The winning entry includes Akoaki and their assembled team of landscape architects, urban planners, and technology-experts. The announcement of the winning proposal displays how Detroit’s participating institutions and stakeholders carry a willingness in allowing an open-ended framework a chance to succeed. The plan that Akoaki and team are working on will take issues of mobility, environmental sustainability, and stormwater stewardship into consideration. Overall, the project requires a sensitivity to placemaking in order to avoid displaced cultural queues and gentrification. When finished, the project will create a unified, dynamic, and inclusive space that facilitates connections between the Cultural Center and the Midtown neighborhood.
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No Flower Power

London's mayor blocks Foster + Partners' Tulip tower
London mayor Sadiq Khan has today dismissed plans for the so-called "Tulip Tower" designed by Foster + Partners, describing the building as "unwelcoming" and "poorly designed." The news signals a U-turn by authorities who had so far given the project the green light through planning, with the full go-ahead having been granted on April 2. Chris Hayward, chairman of the City of London planning committee had then called the tower a "truly unique visitor attraction." “One of my key objectives ... has been to enable the continued transformation of the City of London into a place which welcomes members of the public on weekends as during the week,” he added. Despite this, the Tulip had come up against ardent opposition. “This building, a lift shaft with a bulge on top, would damage the very thing its developers claim they will deliver – tourism and views of London’s extraordinary heritage," Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England told The Guardian in April. “The setting of the Tower of London, a symbol of the city not just to millions of Londoners but to the whole world and one of our most visited places, will be harmed. It has already been damaged by the Walkie Talkie and it would be a great shame if that mistake was repeated.” Furthermore, criticism was also aimed at Foster + Partners for the tower in the wake of the firm officially declaring a climate emergency (along with more than 500 practices.) "What better statement of action could there be than if Foster + Partners withdrew its involvement from that most grotesque fuck-you to a sustainable future, The Tulip?" argued Will Jennings in the Architects' Journal. Mayor Khan appears to have headed these warnings, and today a mayoral spokesperson issued the following statement: “The Mayor has a number of serious concerns with this application and having studied it in detail has refused permission for a scheme that he believes would result in very limited public benefit. In particular, he believes that the design is of insufficient quality for such a prominent location, and that the tower would result in harm to London’s skyline and impact views of the nearby Tower of London World Heritage Site. The proposals would also result in an unwelcoming, poorly-designed public space at street level.” If built as designed, the Tulip was set to be 984 feet tall and boast an observation deck offering visitors 360-degree views of London. Its steel-framed bubble-like tip would have also comprised a gondola system, with patrons riding glass pods across the facade akin to a Ferris wheel. In response to this article's original publication, a representative for the Tulip's project team reached out with the following comment: “The Tulip Project team are disappointed by The Mayor of London’s decision to direct refusal of planning permission, particularly as The Tulip will generate immediate and longer-term socio-economic benefits to London and the UK as a whole. We will now take time to consider potential next steps for The Tulip Project.”
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Cambridge Car Culture

French 2D enlivens a Cambridge parking garage with a graphic-printed mesh facade
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The rapid development of urban areas across the country is leading to the reappraisal of the commonly found, and often maligned, parking garage. Boston-based architectural practice French 2D has joined this trend by invigorating a drab parking garage using a mesh facade with dynamic graphics intended to serve as a large-scale artistic canvas as well as a functional enclosure. The design of the parking garage’s facade was intended to reference the competing architectural scales and functions of the surrounding Kendall Square. The neighborhood, separated from downtown Boston by the Charles River, is defined by newly built tech hubs, residential buildings, and a fading industrial heritage. For the design team, the primary challenge and objective of the project were to break up the monolithic scale of the existing garage—it is eight stories and measures a whopping 350,000 square feet.
  • Facade Manufacturer Facid North America Piedmont Plastics McNichols
  • Architect French 2D
  • Facade Installer & Consultant Design Communications, Ltd.
  • Location Cambridge, MA
  • Date of Completion May 2019
  • System Facid 65 System
  • Products PSG SupraFLEX Breeze Coated Mesh McNichols Perforated 1” Round, powder coated aluminum sheet
“To address this we played with the perception of large scale figures and patterns at drastically different distances, as well as the fidelity of printing to desired visual contrast,” said French 2D principals Jenny and Anda French. “Full-scale mock-up panels were hung on site for review by the design team and city officials, allowing for adjustment of the graphics files to ensure that the image was high contrast enough to compete with three-dimensional building facades.” How does the artwork conform to these different scales? The graphics are effectively divided into three separate categories; skyline, street, and reveal views. The pattern across the garage's 25,000-square-foot facade canvas is relatively constant and defined by rectangular and triangular forms that are linked by diagonal strands of shade, evoking the shadows cast across facades with material depth. From the farthest vantage points, defined as southwest Binney Street and Fulkerson, the graphics are oversized, and, in a certain sense resemble the boxy massing of post-war structures. Shifting to the street reveals views of the enclosure as the gain of the pattern increases in density, leading to a subsequent freneticism in the shading. In daylight, the exterior of the garage remains opaque, while the significant density of perforations allows for outward views and natural, passive ventilation—the garage itself is not outfitted with any form of mechanical ventilation. Owing to the hidden aluminum tension frame produced by Facid North America, the mesh enclosure remain remarkably taut with minimal gaps between individual panels. The result is a semi-continuous surface covered with significant openings that reveal the concrete-and-steel structure below. For the project's official photography, the French sisters acted as drawing scale figures with custom dresses fitted with a rendition of the building's facade pattern—in effect forming a fourth category to the graphic design's scales.
   
   
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Multiple Personalities

Amherst's New Science Center outperforms with a facade material quintet
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In October 2018, Amherst College opened the New Science Center on its historic Massachusetts campus. The new academic building, which replaced an aging science center that was failing to keep up with its contemporary academic needs, is a six-story structure offering a home for six different science departments. Designed by the Boston-based architectural practice Payette with aggressive energy targets in mind, the enclosure is wrapped in a quintet of materials; glass, brick, concrete, weathered steel, and metal composite.
  • Facade Manufacturer Vitro Zahner TAKTL Alcotex Petersen
  • Architect Payette
  • Facade Installer Novum Structures R&R Window Zahner Manganaro Costa Brothers Masonry
  • Facade Consultant Studio NYL Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
  • Structural Engineer LeMessurier
  • Location Amherst, MA
  • Date of Completion October 2018
  • System Novum Structures Custom-Fabricated Curtain Wall Schüco FW 60+.SI Kawneer System 2000
  • Products Vitro Solarban 72 & 60 Vitro Starphire TAKTL Rough 1 Finish. Custom Graphite Alcotex 4mm Panel Solanum Preweathered Weathering Steel Petersen Tegl Kolumba K96
During the design process, Payette paid particular focus on how to minimize thermal bridging between the myriad facade components. "The brick masonry angles are held off the face of the building wall to permit insulation to run continuous," said the design team, "and Teflon spacers were utilized in the support of exterior weathering steel screen. The structure of the roof overhang and canopies are thermally broken to minimize heat transfer at those locations as well." The 251,000-square-foot project is located on the eastern border of the Amherst campus, its form primarily consisting of a large rectangular volume running on a north-south axis, with three fingers protruding to the west. This main rectangular volume is home to the structure's primary gathering space, The Commons. From the west, the circulation paths and spaces within The Commons possess near-complete visibility due to a colossal structural triple-glazed silicone curtainwall. To reduce UV exposure, the insulated glass units were treated with two different low-E coatings, Vitro Solarban 60 & 72, to achieve a system U-Value of .25 while maintaining a visible light transmittance of 56 percent. A series of sawtooth skylights is located atop the primary rectangular volume and serves two functions: further illumination of the interior and structural support for the glass curtainwall. The steel roof structure is cantilevered from the concrete core, and in turn, hangs the glass curtain wall. According to the design team, "the columns supporting the glass wall are nearly 40 feet removed from the curtain wall, supporting a load of nearly 10,000 pounds per mullion in addition to the dead, snow, wind and seismic loads." For the eastern elevation of the structure, which faces the campus boundary on East Drive and is visible from town, the envelope switches over to a more traditional brick facade. The bricks produced by Danish-manufacturer Petersen Tegl are long and flat in dimension, approximately measuring 20.8 inches by 4.3 inches by 1.5 inches. Their finish is irregular and resembles grayish rough ashlar. The three protruding wings of the New Science Center are all three stories in height and clad in a screen of weathered steel produced by Zahner. Along the complex's forecourts, the perforated weathered steel panels face narrow side out, while the western elevations are fully shrouded. The weathered steel is backed by narrow glass-and-composite-metal panels. The project, which has received numerous accolades for its environmental performance, will be presented by Payette Principal and Director of Building Science Andrea Love at Facades+ Minneapolis on July 24.