All posts in Sustainability

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New Essentialism

Seattle-based atelierjones creates one of the first all-CLT residences in the United States
Sixty-three trees, 67 cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels, and 12 days—that’s what it took for Seattle-based atelierjones to erect the firm’s 1,500-square-foot CLTHouse, one of the first all-CLT residences constructed in the United States. The three-sided home is built on a leftover 2,500-square-foot triangular lot in Seattle’s Elliot Bay neighborhood on the shores of Lake Washington, where architect Susan Jones launched her research house experiment back in 2015. The house’s blackened, shou-sugi-ban treated exterior panels contrast with the blonde, white-washed, and daylit-spaces within the home, which emanate from a three-level circulation core containing a staircase, wet walls, and concealed utilities. The rustic home is inspired by the Northwest’s ubiquitous log cabins and features exposed wood paneling inside and out in homage to this building type. The approach, according to Jones, seeks to project a sense of “living with nature in the city” and provides a productive example of the smaller-scale capabilities of emerging CLT technologies. The house is punctured by triangular, gable-shaped windows that infuse it with daylight. Combined with the gypsum, plastic-laminate, stainless steel, and quartz-lined interior surfaces, it provides an “immersive, visceral, and natural experience,” according to the architect. Constructed using CNC-milled, rapidly renewable, and sustainably harvested CSFI-certified spruce, pine, and fir panels made by Structurlam, the building is crafted to inspire a sense of naturalistic escape and relaxation. The home’s exposed knotty pine aesthetic is reflected in a pair of stylized second-floor screened window walls that mark a triangular notch carved into the structure. Here, two pairs of sliding glass doors along the ground floor open the dual-lobed plan to the outdoors. Dining and living room spaces swing around this interior corner, where on one side, a thin plywood partition separates the dining and kitchen spaces from one another. Behind the kitchen sits a short hallway that connects the building’s backdoor entrance—located below a cantilevered bedroom suite—with the stair core. On the floor above, a trio of bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a reading nook cap off the home’s living areas while a rooftop deck overlooks the entire neighborhood from a wooden perch. The pilot house was developed as a research prototype and required extra municipal approvals to account for building codes that had not yet incorporated mass timber structural systems. Though crafted from sustainable materials from the start, atelierjones went one step further and planted 800 trees in conjunction with the project to act as an additional carbon sink. The result, according to Jones, is simply “hypernatural.”
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CLT Rising

Tallest timber and concrete tower in North America set to go up in Toronto
The University of Toronto is teaming up with Vancouver-based practice Patkau Architects and Toronto’s MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects (MJMA) to build a 14-story timber and concrete tower, the tallest in North America. Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is taking on the role of structural core and envelope, with the only concrete portion being the existing foundation. According to Shane O'Neill of Patkau Architects, the new tower will “utilize conventional glulam timber floor slabs, in addition to glulam timber columns, beams, and cross-bracing members.” The entire CLT structure is wrapped in multi-angled glazed glass, with a series of skylights and tilted planes providing natural light to atriums and stairwells below. The tower will be built atop the University of Toronto’s Goldring Center, which was designed by Patkau Architects and MJMA in 2014 to support the mass of a significant structure atop it. According to the University of Toronto News, the tower was originally going to be built of steel and concrete. However, wood building incentives provided by Ontario’s Mass Timber Institute and the environmentally friendly qualities of timber construction convinced the school and the designers to opt for the natural material. The structure joins the growing list of timber towers and academic buildings cropping up globally, ranging from London’s 121-unit Dalston Lane to the University of Idaho’s under-construction basketball arena. Currently, Patkau Architects and MJMA are wrapping up the design phase, with the goal of beginning construction in late 2019.
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Coastal Connections

Restorative projects aim to stitch Port of Los Angeles communities back together
The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach might be some of the world’s busiest shipping facilities, but just beyond the stacks of shipping containers and bustling cranes sit densely populated neighborhoods that have struggled for decades to maintain a vital hold on the nearby waterfront. That dynamic is about to change, as a slew of transformative waterfront-adjacent projects aim to reclaim and transform the shore for nearby communities. Following a new master plan issued in 2014, the waterfront areas along the Port of L.A.–adjacent neighborhood of Wilmington have been in a continual state of restoration and redevelopment. There, Boston-based Sasaki built out the first phase of the Wilmington Waterfront Park in 2012, a 10-acre installation packed with natural berms, playing fields, and trees. The plans—developed with Studio-MLA—would create a “buffer against port operations” and a “window to waterfront,” according to Zach Chrisco, partner in charge of the project at Sasaki. The latest phase of the waterfront redevelopment project aims to recast the existing waterfront areas with more widely accessible leisure and shopping spaces connected by public amenities like a giant lawn, stepped landings that meet the water, a small floating harbor, and a fishing pier. “Our goal with the project is to diversify the way the community can engage with the water,” Kate Tooke, landscape architect at Sasaki, explained, describing the metallic shade structures and an open-floor leisure pier with hammocks that dangle directly over the water. The waterfront will connect to the Wilmington community via the Avalon Promenade and Gateway, a new promenade and pedestrian bridge sequence designed by T.Y. Lin International that will feature underground restrooms on one end and a public plaza on the other. Both projects are slated to break ground this year with an anticipated 2019 opening. In the nearby neighborhood of San Pedro, developers Ratkovich Company and Jericho are leading the Ports O’ Call Village redevelopment project aimed at bringing a new 180,000-square-foot San Pedro Public Market project to life. The development is led by Rapt Studio, a local design firm. Describing the lead-up to the project, Sam Farhang, Rapt  Studio president and project lead said, “We went in immediately and said, ‘This is not a project that could be designed and delivered by single team.’” The designers got to work on assembling a “dream team” for the project that includes James Corner Field Operations and Adamson Associates as executive architects. Rapt is designing a series of new warehouse-like prefabricated steel moment frame structures flexible enough to hold new retail programs while remaining malleable over the developer’s 55-year ground lease over the site. Plans call for adding a new “town square” containing the aforementioned retail and plaza spaces, a new marketplace to hold the relocated San Pedro Fish Market, and an event lawn that connects to the waterfront directly so that “every type of person—whether it’s longshoremen on their lunch break or a Millennial mom and dad with a single child in a stroller—can find an aspect of this site that resonates with them.” The project will be delivered in phases through 2020 or 2021 as to not displace some of the larger tenants that will remain. Across one of the shipping channels, Gensler is working toward a long-term vision that would rework the area’s employment and economic demographics, as it builds out the multi-phase AltaSea development; a new 35-acre complex that will combine marine research, public education programs, and sustainable energy development. The $150 million complex will aim to redevelop a series of existing waterfront warehouses, replacing industrial shipping uses with high-tech research equipment and hordes of visiting tourists, school children, and researchers. Describing the goals of the project, Li Wen, design director at Gensler said, “We see the Port of L.A. becoming a place of education through experience,” adding that the project seeks to “re-introduce the ocean as a place to be preserved, revered, and studied.” Work on that project is currently underway and the first phase is expected to be completed in 2023.
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A Grimes-y Proposition

Elon Musk wants to turn the Hyperloop's "excavated muck" into housing materials
Hot off of a flamethrower fundraising sale for Elon Musk’s side project, the Hyperloop tunnel digging The Boring Company, Musk has announced that the muck, rock, and detritus produced by the company’s tunneling would be turned into usable bricks. The first announcement from Musk came on March 26, when he tweeted that the rock mined from the company’s California test tunnels would be turned into “Lifesize LEGO-like interlocking bricks made from tunneling rock that you can use to create sculptures & buildings.” The bricks would be sold as The Boring Company merchandise and are supposedly rated for California’s seismic loads. Responding to critics on Twitter who were wondering why the tech entrepreneur wasn’t using his vast wealth to address the nationwide housing crisis, Musk followed up on May 7, indicating that those same bricks would now be sold on the cheap for low-cost housing. A Boring Company representative confirmed the plans to Bloomberg, saying that the bricks used for housing would be made from the “excavated muck” of the company’s tunnels. These bricks would also go towards building any future Boring Company offices and could partially replace concrete in The Boring Company’s tunnels. Of course, as Bloomberg points out, Musk’s plan to lower the cost of housing assumes that material costs are driving the price of construction, and not land or labor. Brick is expensive to lay because of the associated time and expertise it takes, not the bricks themselves (and this is before factoring in any type of structural reinforcement). It remains to be seen if The Boring Company can produce enough blocks to actually build any homes, especially as many of the prospective Hyperloop tunnels would be churning out dirt contaminated from years of industrial runoff.
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MEXTRÓPOLI 2018

A Mexican pavilion offers space for post-earthquake renewal and reflection
How do you rebuild after a natural disaster? This question was the call to action at the fifth edition of the MEXTRÓPOLI Festival of Architecture and City that took place March 17 to 20. The four-day city-wide event was presented as an active reflection to rebuild since last September’s major earthquake that struck central Mexico. Coincidently marking the 32nd anniversary of the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, the natural disaster in September last year hit hard on the same day three decades prior–at least 40 buildings collapsed, wreaking havoc in the Mexican states of Puebla, Morelos, and in the Greater Mexico City area. At MEXTRÓPOLI, temporary built environments activated Mexico City’s public spaces to promote reflection of those events and fuel sustainable future building. Twenty pavilions designed by institutions such as UNAM, Ibero Puebla, Anahuac University, Querétaro, Sci-Arc, and Maristas took up at Alameda Central, the oldest public park in the Americas located downtown, adjacent to the Palacio de Bellas Artes. The goal? To inspire sustainable and preventative practices, and to demonstrate potential sustainable architectural futures.
Architect Elias Kababie, Taller Paralelo Arquitectura, Michigan Architecture, and students from Colectivo Seis collaborated to design Pabellón ( ), a brick pavilion, with financial support from Masonite. The ephemeral structure is described by Kababie as a built testament to what local people felt in the aftermath of the quakes. “It creates an experience based on what we felt when everything was demolished,” explains Kababie. The structure itself was the very first built project for Colectivo Seis, who are only in their second year of college. As the story goes, on the first night of building the pavilion, the students and Kababie assembled the bricks made by a local factory and craftsman. The bricks themselves are made from locally-sourced clay, baked, and dried. Initially, they tried laying each brick one by one. Eventually, they made a rig that allowed them to stack eight bricks at a time. What took six hours to build on the first day took only one hour on the second. The trace of their handiwork lingers, with the red ochre-hued dust marking anyone who enters the pavilion. From the outside, the pavilion looks fortress-like, a cubic construction of six tiers of stacked brick on all four sides. Visitors were invited in by Kababie and the students through the periwinkle Masonite door into a narrow, tubular passageway. Once inside, onlookers are pleasantly surprised to find an undulating series of brick laid out to form the negative space of a circular sphere, or, if you will, an inverted oculus. The stacked formation encourages sitting and climbing, as well as spectacular views of the heart of Mexico City. Aptly dubbed, Pabellón ( ) is formally a parenthesis. Conceptually, it is a theoretical interpretation of the meaning of “collapse,” what students from Colectivo Seis described as the continuum of material and emotional rubble that was left behind after the quake. These experiences are collectively housed between the empty parentheses, the material manifestation of the symbolic namesake, the pavilion. “It’s a metaphor for the current situation. When you have this perfect brick wall that when you walk outside, you don't realize that there’s a greater structure, an emptiness that came about through the earthquakes. It’s still there and it hasn’t been fixed. We wanted this to be a point to talk about those aspects of our lives and that is still going on and many of us don’t realize it,” explained Alonso Varela of Collectivo Seis. This collective experience is not only expressed in concept, but also in practice. Kababie proudly reflects on their experience as completely collaborative, a project completed by a group from beginning to end as a group. “Having that extraordinary shared journey, the idea of idea of changing the conversation through bricks, through a situation, with a door that you go through, in a specific place as a specific project—it was an amazing idea.” You can find more videos of Mextropoli, Pabellón ( ), interviews, and other footage of the festival as a story highlight on AN's Instagram story highlights. 
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Keeping up A-Pier-ences

New renderings revealed for Tribeca's Pier 26 revamp
Construction on the $30 million renovation of Tribeca’s Pier 26 is slated to start up this summer, and the Hudson River Park Trust and landscape architects OLIN have released a new batch of renderings of the project’s final design. The Hudson River Park Trust went before Community Board 1’s Waterfront, Parks & Resiliency Committee last Tuesday and revealed their finalized design for transforming the 790-foot-long concrete pier. While OLIN had released glimpses of the pier’s programming before (including a playground with two enormous sturgeon-shaped jungle gyms for kids to climb), the latest design incorporates many of the features that the local community had hoped for. A gentle grass lawn and more wildly-planted “forest” area with indigenous trees will guide visitors from the western edge of Hudson River Park, towards the two child-sized soccer fields in the middle of the pier. The fields will be covered in a blue net to stop stray balls from flying into the Hudson River, and surfaced with a plastic grid capable of draining. Further west will be a lounge deck with steps adjacent to scrubby, dune-like landscaping. OLIN has designed a tiered tidal pool planted with native flora at the pier’s westernmost tip, as well as a wooden esplanade that zigzags across the length of the pier. The walkway will rise 15 feet in the air at the tip of Pier 26, giving guests a full view of both New Jersey across the river, as well as the tide pool below. OLIN will be using Kebony for the path, an engineered sustainable softwood. Planned for the space between Pier 26 and 25 is the Estuarium, a two-story, Rafael Viñoly Architects-designed education center. Only $10 million of the center’s required $50 million has been raised so far. While no start date has been set for the Estuarium’s construction, it could imperil the pier’s 2020 opening date; the site chosen for the sturgeon playground will be used a staging area during the education center’s construction (sorry, giant metal fish fans). Construction on the underside of the pier will run from this summer until next year, followed by the work on the structure's topside.
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Earth Daze

AIA honors the top eleven sustainable buildings of 2018
As a fitting kickoff to Earth Day weekend, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) has announced the 2018 recipients of its COTE Top Ten Awards. Honoring ten projects that have surpassed rigorous thresholds in integration, energy use, water conservation, and wellness benchmarks, the award showcases cutting-edge buildings that are not only sustainable, but that contribute to the surrounding neighborhood. This year’s jury included:
  • Michelle Addington, Dean, School of Architecture, The University of Texas Austin Austin, Texas
  • Jennifer Devlin-Herbert, FAIA, EHDD. San Francisco
  • Kevin Schorn, AIA, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, New York
  • Julie V. Snow, FAIA, Snow Kreilich, Minneapolis
  • Susan Ubbelohde, LOISOS + UBBELOHDE, Alameda, California
The 2018 awardees ranged in usage from libraries to art galleries, as well as one single-family home. While the COTE Top Ten Awards are given to buildings that meet certain requirements, an additional “Top Ten Plus Award” is handed out to a single project with exceptional post-occupancy performance. The winners are as follows: Albion District Library; Toronto, Ontario, Canada Architect: Perkins+Will According to the jury: "This project clearly demonstrates the immediate positive impact of good design. A district library that serves a diverse and newly-immigrant community, the library has a dramatically increased visitorship (with a notable 75 percent increase for teenagers) over the old facility." Georgia Tech Engineered Biosystems Building; Atlanta, Georgia Architect: Lake|Flato in collaboration with Cooper Carry According to the jury: "The Georgia Tech Engineered Biosystems Building weaves a large array of active and passive strategies into a highly tuned machine for this university research laboratory." Mundo Verde at Cook Campus; Washington Architect: Studio Twenty Seven Architecture According to the jury: "A 25,000-gallon cistern holds rainwater for reuse, while the gardens have increased site vegetation from zero to 40 percent." Nancy and Stephen Grand Family House; San Francisco Architect: Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects According to the jury: "This cost-effective building serves a community of sick children and their families while prioritizing environmental performance." New United States Courthouse; Los Angeles; Los Angeles Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP According to the jury: "We were impressed with the quality of the calm, light-filled interior spaces for occupants who are often in the courthouse under difficult circumstances." The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum; Washington, D.C. Architect: DLR Group According to the jury: "The Renwick Gallery renovation wove complex and robust new systems while preserving the impressive historic design and collection and allowing opportunities for new works to be displayed." San Francisco Art Institute - Fort Mason Center Pier 2; San Francisco Architect: Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects According to the jury: "The design team recognized the assets of the existing structure and created a great, low-energy building with a healthy interior environment." Sawmill; Tehachapi, California Architect: Olson Kundig According to the jury: "The team is commended for their site-specific analysis, as evidenced by the decision to let rainwater recharge the water table rather than collect it. If a single-family dwelling is to be built in a desert climate, this is how to do it." Sonoma Academy’s Janet Durgin Guild & Commons; Santa Rosa, California Architect: WRNS Studio According to the jury: "This project demonstrates that, even with an energy-heavy program that includes a commercial kitchen, a fully integrated and dedicated design team can produce a beautiful and extremely well-performing building." Top Ten Plus winner: Ortlieb's Bottling House; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Architect: KieranTimberlake According to the jury: "An exceptional example of passive strategies used in adaptive reuse of an historic urban building."
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Neither Snow nor Rain nor Heat

How can architects design facades for the age of climate change?
Taking environmental stresses into account when designing a building is typical, but rising tides, heat waves, extreme winds and other climate change-driven conditions present new challenges to building envelopes. Ahead of the upcoming Facades+ conference in New York City on April 19 and 20, AN sat down with Yan Chu of Adamson Associates Architects to discuss what can be done differently. Chu will be presenting as part of a 2:30 PM symposium panel on April 19 titled “Re-evaluating Metrics: Thermal Performance of Building Enclosures and Future Climate Change.” Chu will be joined by Nico Kienzl of Atelier Ten, Ken Kunkel of NC STATE, and Elizabeth Tomlinson of TKDA. Architect’s Newspaper: As climate change becomes more of a factor, how does facade performance need to change? Yan Chu: We design our facades and mechanical systems based on certain climatic data for that region. For New York City, it’s 11 degrees Fahrenheit, 17-mile-per-hour [winds], this is data all of us use every day and know by heart. These numbers have changed very slightly over time. I wonder if there’s a more fundamental rethinking of these basic design functions that we need to make to attack climate change from multiple fronts, beyond just increasing insulation value and decreasing air leakage rate. The data is all based on historical weather data. Every fourth-year cycle when this weather design data comes out, it’s based on the last 20 years, and that’s how [The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers] ASHRAE derives their design position that you and I and all of the engineers use. If we know that climate change is going to take us to a whole new level of weather conditions, why aren’t we using projected data? What are we actually using as our design basis? There is a whole sector of the design community trying to address resiliency and survivability. We need to find a way to fold that into the design process, and something we need to consider to holistically address climate change in terms of the building envelope. The idea of this panel is to talk about those issues. AN: Are there any big picture things that architects, engineers and designers can do? Chu: The passive house strategy is brilliant because it addresses the performance of the building together with the occupant’s comfort holistically. It really is a holistic way of thinking of design, and moving forward, it’s the kind of mentality we need to adopt. Whether we’re talking about glazed façades or more opaque facade elements, I think the challenge is to get owner incentives to adopt some of these holistic strategies into a larger scale. If we design a building today with the 2014 or 2016 energy code, I know for a fact it’s already not sufficient for when the next code comes. So I think the biggest challenge for us is, how do we incentivize buildings owners, occupants, and designers to address climate change without depending on the building code telling them to do so? The nice thing is that in Europe, the passive house movement is really being brought by the private sector. How can we bring that mentality to the U.S.? Especially for very large projects? AN: What will the impact of climate change be on envelopes? Chu: It depends on the climate and depends on what extreme events we’re being challenged with. On one hand, we have to re-evaluate the average condition; in some parts of the world, the temperature will increase, but in some locations, temperatures will actually decrease. The interesting thing is that certain wall systems have certain advantages in one climate region over another. That idea is limited because design is about flexibility, and you don’t want to prescribe a system that an architect has to design to. The idea of designing to what is the ‘norm’, and what extreme events are, that’s a huge question. Citing one example, flood resistance at storefronts at the ground level. That’s something new that all the architects in New York City are working on, not only specifying how this system works and what test criteria it conforms to, but also, how does it function in a normal day? We’re way in the beginning stage of understanding what that even is. It’s such a new thing that we know we’ll have to go on to full-on testing for this wall system to know what it can accommodate. Whether or not we end up with a standard IGU or something thicker is still something we’re working through. And how does that affect the interior conditions? It’s a big question mark, and it’s only one thing that we’re dealing with. Are we designing for a 50-year building, a 100-year building? The idea of durability has to come into play. That determines what extreme events we’re designing for, and results in a vastly different building. Facades+ in New York City will run from April 19 until April 20, 2018. Registration is still open and available at this link.
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Net Zero Plugins

Cove.tool helps architects green their buildings in a user-friendly format
Cove.tool is an energy vs. cost optimization software for the AEC industry. It offers users the ability to simulate the material performance of a building in its context by assessing energy against cost over a given period of time. It empowers architects, engineers, contractors, and owners to make better decisions about building by presenting cost and energy information in a simple app, with the ultimate goal of helping buildings reduce their carbon emissions in an affordable way. The problem, as they phrase it, is: “When a contractor and architect make choices, they are unable to perceive all of the choices and their impacts collectively.” The software therefore uses large data sets to create material performance profiles for building components which can be run through millions of possible combinations before providing users with optimal solutions for a project’s constraint space. The software has been iteratively developed over the last several years by the sustainability consulting firm Patterns r+d, based in Atlanta, GA. While energy simulation is of course nothing new, Cove.tool is distinct in that it is the first affordable, easy-to-use energy software in the AEC industry to introduce cost into an advanced combinatorial building simulation. It is potentially a watershed development for the sustainable building industry in that it can incentivize sustainable ethics through cost analysis. According to the Cove.tool team, this software is part of a much larger shift. They make the bold assertion in their white paper that “it will not be possible to build any building without simulation within the next five years,” a relatively short time horizon in an industry which is usually slow to innovate. The tool also offers the foundations for a programmable library of materials whose construction and energy costs can be incorporated into the larger BIM workflow. Cove.tool is available as both a Revit and Grasshopper plug-in with dedicated development. It can hypothetically be integrated into the vast majority of medium-to- large scale AEC projects in which marginal savings on energy costs may represent millions of dollars over time and incentivize an increasingly sustainable building culture. For under $3,500 a year, a team of five can leverage Cove.tool in almost any project context, adding robust energy modeling value to their proposals. With a simplified graphical interface which is effective for internal and client-facing purposes, the tool is likely to gain widespread adoption.
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Surge Forward

New East River flood barrier park aims for quick approvals
Ahead of a presentation before the full Community Board 3 (Lower East Side) tonight, March 27, planners from the East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) Project have released new details and renderings for an updated "resilient park" along the shores of the East River. The Mayor’s Office of Recovery & Resiliency is hoping to receive approval for the snaking project before the end of 2018, though the combination of seawalls, berms and levees hasn’t pleased everyone. The updated concept, a joint venture between AKRF, One Architecture and Urbanism, the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects (MNLA), and several city agencies, was unveiled at a CB3 Parks Department meeting on March 15. The proposed park would stretch from East 25th Street down to Montgomery Street, and would fortify the existing green space, but also include new parks, lawns and nature walks. Rather than installing hard infrastructure that would block off the waterfront from the public, MNLA attempted to expand out the usable parkland where possible. In the narrowest areas between FDR Drive and the East River, a flood wall gate would swing (or possibly slide) into action to cordon off stormwater. Several bridge upgrades have also been included, as well as new footbridges at Delancey Street and on 10th Street that would loop into the park. The approximately 2.5-mile-long stretch is just one part of what was once the BIG-U coastal resiliency plan (neé The Dryline), which has been broken up into the aforementioned ESCR and the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency (LMCR) Project. The ESCR’s southern counterpart will stretch 3.5 miles, from the northern tip of Battery Park City to the Lower East Side’s Montgomery Street. Once completed, the entire system should be able to protect (though mitigate would be a more apt phrase) southern Manhattan from the likes of a 100-year storm. Time is quickly running out for the ESCR to reach approval and hit its accelerated 2019 groundbreaking target. The $335 million distributed by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) in the wake of Hurricane Sandy for the construction of the ESCR must be spent by September of 2022, and with the project a year-and-a-half behind schedule, the city is hoping to move through the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and ULURP process quickly. AN will follow up this post with more information about the outcome of tonight’s CB3 board meeting. The feedback gleaned from community boards 3 and 6 will help the city inform changes that they may need to make before presenting to the Public Design Commission in the coming months. The full March 15th presentation can be viewed here.
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The Climes They Are A' Changin'

AN rounds up our favorite climate change books of 2018
Coastal flooding, heatwaves, snow storms, droughts, wildfires and hurricanes; all of these natural disasters are being exacerbated by the effects of climate change, and architects and planners will need to learn to plan for the future. Through building structures and facets of the urban landscape that resist or incorporate flood waters, that manage stormwater runoff or create “wind corridors” to blow pollution out of city centers, designing for the impacts of climate change often means designing for health. With a wealth of sophisticated modeling tools and techniques at our disposal, it’s easier than ever to look towards the future and harden projects for what might be coming next. Below is a list of books that AN considers as helpful guides for thinking about and designing for climate change. Toward an Urban Ecology The Monacelli Press Kate Orff $34.00 Towards an Urban Ecology may feature a number of projects by New York’s SCAPE, but the overall message extends beyond a simple firm retrospective. Throughout the book, Kate Orff (now co-chair of the new climate resiliency center at Columbia’s GSAPP) dissects how designers can integrate environmental concerns with urban ones, and create a more resilient built environment. Landscape architecture can play an integral role in mitigating the effects of climate change, and often acts as the first line of defense in protecting buildings from disasters. Blue Dunes: Climate Change by Design Columbia Books on Architecture and the City Jesse Keenan & Claire Weisz $17.15 Hurricane Sandy in 2012 was a watershed moment in designing for climate resilience, as the reality of a “once-in-a-hundred-year” storm hit architects and planners along the eastern seaboard close to home. Blue Dunes follows a plan to place wave-blocking barrier islands off the Mid-Atlantic coast, and the research (and cost concerns) uncovered in the multidisciplinary quest serves as a valuable lesson for designers who want to pursue the same path. Extreme Cities: The Peril and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change Verso Ashley Dawson $21.41 The world’s cities will both be hit hardest by climate change and have the largest impact on it. How can cities cut their carbon emissions while simultaneously hardening their defenses and creating resilient systems? In Extreme Cities, Dawson argues that seawalls and hard infrastructure aren’t enough, and that the successful cities of the future will survive through fostering new social movements and ways of integrating climate change into design and planning. Adaptive Ecologies/ Correlated Systems of Living Architectural Association Publications Theodore Spyropoulos, John Frazer & Patrik Schumacher $49.11 Though it might seem better suited to our technology book roundup, Adaptive Ecologies confronts the twin challenges of harsher environments and tighter resource restrictions that buildings will face in the future. The abundance of modeling programs available to architects and planners, whether it be daylighting, planning for high-performance facades, or computational design, can be combined with active data intake from an array of sensors. As a result, new typologies, artificial ecologies and unimaginable city planning-schemes might one day reign supreme as we become more and more able to optimize building design. Climates: Architecture and the Planetary Imaginary The Avery Review: Columbia Books on Architecture and the City James Graham, Caitlin Blachfield, Alissa Anderson, Jordan Carver & Jacob Moore $36.99 A collection of essays and sample projects from Columbia University’s Avery Review, Climates examines the intersection of architecture and climate change. What precedents already exist in dealing with such an existential threat? How can architects and their work render climate change knowable while also combatting it? What kind of shifts would be required to bring awareness to the field about designing for resilience and sustainability? Far from providing concrete answers, Climates seeks more to stimulate discussion and speculation about a topic that can be hard to conceptualize. BIG, HOT TO COLD: An Odyssey of Architectural Adaptation TASCHEN Bjarke Ingels $45.30 Whatever one may think of the work being done by Bjarke Ingles Group (BIG), it would be hard to argue that the firm isn’t prolific. In Hot to Cold, architects can find 60 case studies for designing in extreme environments in conjunction with BIG’s projects all over the world, and innovative ways of dealing with extreme heat, cold, and everything in between are put on display. Designing for water is given significant weight in the book’s middle section, as BIG breaks down the master plan for their lower Manhattan-encompassing seawall system, the Dryline. How can the extreme environments of the present give designers an idea of what may be to come? New York 2140 Orbit Kim Stanley Robinson $13.65 2140 may be the only fiction book on the list, but even far-flung speculation has its uses in inspiring architects. While New York (or any city for that matter) might not be inundated with 50 feet of water anytime soon, Robinson’s work speaks to a future where adaptive reuse and clean energy are the norm, not the exception. Most importantly, 2140 presents a worst-case scenario ostensibly overcome by design, and serves as a reminder that no solution should be ruled out as too imaginative. Every book on this list was selected independently by AN‘s team of editors. If you buy something via the embedded links, AN will earn a commission. 
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Totem Towers

The future of smart power could lie in a single solar, storage and communications platform
In a 2016 broadcast of NPR’s Fresh Air, author and cultural anthropologist Gretchen Bakke characterized America’s energy grid as “increasingly unstable, underfunded, and incapable of taking us to a new energy future.” Nevertheless, the steady march toward progress continues, and the threat of obsolescence is driving many cities, urban planners, developers, and businesses to invest in the future. “We happen to be at a moment in time where people are starting to fear that technological obsolescence in the workplace and in cities is a pretty tough place to be and has some real consequences economically for the buildings and the cities that don’t have high-speed networking or don’t have modern energy,” observed Brian Lakamp, founder and CEO of Totem Power. “That’s why you’re seeing city planners, mayors, and businesses get more aggressive about deploying built environment technology than they ever have been, as far as I can tell.” (Note: Some states, such as California, have already passed legislation requiring new buildings to be outfitted with electric vehicle charging ports.) Identifying significant shifts in transportation, communication, and energy, Lakamp saw an opportunity to solve a problem that innovation imposes on our aging buildings. For example, as millions of electric vehicles begin to flood the market in the years ahead, a major investment in infrastructure will be required to support them. Similarly, as buildings are rewired with higher-gauge electrical cabling to accommodate new energy and communications networks, it’s clear that smarter, more flexible solutions are required to meet these ever-increasing demands. “With the coming of 5G and some of the IoT technologies, electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles, there’s a lot that is emerging that needs to change in terms of the way communications networks work and new technology is presented that gets really exciting,” Lakamp said. “We’re here as a way to deploy that infrastructure in the built environment in a way that can be made beautiful and impactful.” To that end, Lakamp launched Totem, a groundbreaking energy solution that reimagines and redesigns smart utility. The Totem platform combines solar energy and energy storage, WiFi and 4G communications, electric vehicle charging, and smart lighting into a single, powerful product that weaves these capabilities directly into the built environment.

How It Works

Totem is, at its core, a vertical server rack that’s designed to support evolution in technology over time. Its base product deploys over 40 kWh of energy storage that serves as a grid asset and dynamic energy foundation that ensures energy quality and provides critical resilience in the event of broader grid issues. Integrated solar generation, electric vehicle charging, and LED lighting add further capability to each Totem and sophistication to each property’s energy assets. Totem also provides a reliable hub for Wi-Fi, 4G, and 5G cellular services to bring high-speed connectivity to properties and communities. Through its modern connectivity platform, it also presents a key communications gateway for IoT devices on and around properties. According to a statement from Jeffrey Kenoff, director at architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox, “Totem is one of the first to unite design, infrastructure, and community in a single as well as exquisite platform. It’s hard to imagine a major project or public space that it would not transform.”