Search results for "gensler"

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Marked Up

Old Chicago Main Post Office receives landmark designation
The Chicago City Council recently approved the landmark designation for the Old Chicago Main Post Office. Built in phases from 1921 to 1932, the 2.3-million-square-foot structure is located on the western bank of the south branch of the Chicago River in Chicago’s Near West Side. The building’s brawny nine-and twelve-story art deco design is the work of Chicago architectural firm Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, a successor to D.H. Burnham and Company. The Old Chicago Main Post Office was constructed with a 40-foot-wide rectangular hole running through the center of the building, intended to accommodate a provision of the 1909 Plan of Chicago for a Congress Street extension from the South Loop to Chicago’s West Side. While various plans were floated for the extension in the 1930s, the space wouldn’t come into full use until 1955, when the Congress (now Eisenhower) Expressway was completed, connecting the Loop to the western suburbs. The building’s main lobby sports lavish details like white marble and gold glass mosaics, but its original function was utilitarian in nature, with the majority of the spaces dedicated to feed conveyors, hoppers, mechanical tables, and chutes that supported a variety of mail sorting operations. The Old Chicago Main Post Office remained in operation until a modernized facility was completed in 1996, leaving the building vacant. While the Old Chicago Main Post Office was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001, providing it with the opportunity to capitalize on Federal Historic Tax Credits, it is the local designation that provides a measure of protection from demolition and insensitive alteration, as a National Register listing is primarily used for planning purposes and is honorary. Local designation of commercial, industrial, and income-producing non-for-profit buildings also provides building owners with the opportunity to capitalize on Chicago’s Class L Property Tax Incentive, which reduces property levels for a 12-year period provided that half of the value of the landmark building is invested in an approved rehabilitation project. According to the City of Chicago, the property’s owner, 601W Companies, is implementing a $292 million rehabilitation of the building as retail spaces and offices led by Gensler. The interior and exterior spaces will be comprehensively updated. The work will also repair existing rights-of-way for the Eisenhower Expressway as well as the Amtrak railroad facility located underneath the building.
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SHoP 'til you Drop

Gensler takes over from SHoP on Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena redesign
Gensler has replaced New York firm SHoP Architects on the design for the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. SHoP had revealed its designs for the Cleveland Cavaliers' basketball stadium, known as "The Q," in December 2016. Work was scheduled to begin on the $140 million project the following year; however, work was delayed for a number of reasons. A spokesperson for Gensler confirmed to AN that Detroit-based stadia specialists Rossetti, who worked with SHoP on the original project, remain involved. Renderings given to AN by Gensler show the arena's overall design is mostly unchanged. Gensler's design team will come mostly from its Washington D.C. office and be spearheaded by Ryan Sickman, who holds the position of Firmwide Sports Practice Area Leader at the firm. Len Komoroski, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena CEO, commented that Gensler was "well-positioned" for the "extensive transformation" of the 24-year-old arena. "Their experience and global foot print are a great match for this project and the image of Cleveland that will be projected around the world from The Q" he continued in a statement, adding: "The project is off to a great start and we look forward to seeing this unique, impactful transformation come to life." Surprisingly, another collaboration between the two firms wasn't on the cards, despite Gensler and SHoP having previously worked together on the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Long Island, another stadium revamp. The former was completed almost exactly a year ago today. In 2013, SHoP's design for a New York City F.C. stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park was given the boot amid opposition. "I like the idea of a soccer venue in New York City… What I'm not crazy about is the fact that they want to take public park land in the process," said New York City Comptroller John Liu at the time regarding plans to plonk the 25,000-seat stadium on up to 13 acres in the park. After scouting the Bronx, Columbia University and Belmont Park in Nassau County, and failing to secure a stadium site, New York City F.C. is still on the hunt for a home. Despite only being 22 years old, the Quicken Loans Arena is one of the oldest facilities in use on the National Basketball Association circuit. SHoP's design featured a new glazed facade which stretches the stadium’s footprint closer to the street edge. This fenestration reveals an undulating arrangement of what appears to be wood panels which, given their location well inside the facade and north-facing orientation, don’t seem to serve any shading purpose. Aside from aesthetics, entrance and exit gangway areas will witness an increase in space, thus aiding circulation—a necessity considering The Q hosts more than 200 events every year.
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Post-Industrial Oasis

Sasaki and Studio-MLA to redevelop Port of L.A. waterfront
Designs for a transformative make-over of the Wilmington waterfront at the Port of Los Angeles are steadily moving forward as new renderings for the project offer a glimpse of what will soon be two of L.A.’s newest public spaces. Renderings unveiled by the Port of Los Angeles showcase views of the Avalon Promenade and Gateway and the Wilmington Waterfront Promenade projects, two new open spaces designed by T.Y. Lin International and Boston-based Sasaki, respectively, on adjacent sites in conjunction with the Wilmington Waterfront Masterplan project. L.A.-based landscape architects Studio MLA is assisting with the design of the Wilmington Waterfront Promenade project. The two public spaces will cap off an L-shaped spine of new open space and future commercial development envisioned by the master plan for the formerly-industrial areas that ring the port. The nine-block plan area includes the 30-acre Wilmington Waterfront Park, also designed by Sasaki, which opened in 2011. For T.Y. Lin International’s Avalon Promenade and Gateway component, plans call for vacating sections of three streets and removing a pair of storage tanks to create a large landscaped open space that will connect the city’s urban fabric with the Wilmington Waterfront to the south. The 13-acre site will contain a public plaza at its northernmost point and will be traversed by a sculptural promenade that runs to the waterfront. The project would involve constructing a new bridge over an existing depressed rail yard, with renderings showing a new cable-stayed pedestrian bridge crossing the gap. The nine-acre Wilmington Waterfront project will be located at the end of this path abutting the harbor. Here, Sasaki and Studio MLA are working to craft an interconnected series of plazas, piers, and restaurants, including a four-acre event space and playground, according to Curbed. A below-grade section of the park will contain a cluster of accessible bathroom facilities. Renderings for these areas showcase a central lawn and plaza fronting the ocean, with active uses located at the site’s corners. The central plaza area gives way to rough-hewn boulders that step into the water, according to the renderings. The developments join a cluster of recently-announced waterfront redevelopment efforts, including the Altasea development by Gensler. Both projects are well into design and are expected to break ground later this year, in anticipation of a 2019 opening.
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Come On In

Open House San Diego opens this weekend
This coming weekend, the San Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAF) will present its annual Open House San Diego (OHSD) program, a sprawling showcase that will open up 84 architecturally significant sites across the city for public viewing. The ever-expanding geography of OHSD will run March 24 and 25 and will encompass sites located throughout the city’s core downtown neighborhoods like Barrio Logan, Gaslamp Quarter, and the waterfront, as well as locations in several peripheral areas like Bankers Hill, Balboa Park, and the newly-added Point Loma neighborhood. This year’s OHSD program is spearheaded by SDAF honorary event co-chairs Gordon Carrier of Carrier Johnson+ CULTURE and Jennifer Luce of Luce et Studio. OHSD founder Susanne Friestedt explained to AN, “We are hoping to elevate the city’s aesthetic and design tastes with the number and diversity of OHSD sites,” explaining that the broad mix of projects and venues represented a cross section of the city’s history and social make-up. Included on that list are the Balboa Park cultural complex, the studios of RJC Architects in Bankers Hill, the John Rhoades Federal Judicial Center downtown, the new Makers Quarter in the East Village neighborhood, the Woodbury University School of Architecture campus in Barrio Logan, and Point Loma Nazarene University in Point Loma. Various architectural offices will also be open to the public this weekend, including studios for Gensler, BNIM, and AVRP Skyport. The Open House concept began in London in 1992 with the goal of promoting a finer understanding for that city’s urban architecture among the general public and to spur debate on the nature of development, architectural design, and urban planning, generally speaking. In the years since, Open House events have spread around the world and now take place in over a dozen cities, including New York City, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, and Melbourne, among many others. Efforts are currently underway to start a Los Angeles showcase, as well. For more information on this weekend’s festivities and tours, see the OHSD website.
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Park Views

405 Park Avenue buys St. Patrick's air rights for a glassy upgrade
Only two days after AN reported that the owners of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in East Midtown, Manhattan, were planning on selling a portion of the venerable church’s air rights to an undisclosed buyer, Crain’s New York has reported that the transfer will go towards enlarging 405 Park Avenue. The 17-story, currently unassuming brick-and-glass office tower will grow another four stories and have its facade replaced with an all-glass curtainwall courtesy of global architecture firm Gensler. The office building was purchased by co-owners MRP Realty and Deutsche Bank Asset Management, an arm of the German bank, in early 2016, and will become the second building (after 270 Park Avenue) to expand under the East Midtown rezoning. MRP and Deutsche bank will be buying 30,000 square feet of the cathedral’s air rights–out of a total one million–which is expected to earn St Patrick’s around $7.2 million to use for maintaining the area around the church. As a result of the sale, 405 Park Ave. will undergo a gut renovation as well as the enlargement, bringing the total floor space up to 205,000 square feet. Crains also reports that the two owners will be charging a premium after the transformation, with prices north of $100 per square foot. The news comes on the heels of the highly contested announcement that the Union Carbide building down the street would be demolished, as owners JPMorgan Chase are seeking to replace the tower with an upgraded supertall. It seems unlikely that the same forces will mobilize to protest the changes at 405 Park Ave.; though the building was originallu designed by New York mainstays Cross & Cross as a neo-classical 12-story apartment building in 1915, a total renovation in 1957 left the location unrecognizable from its original incarnation. Now it seems that history will repeat itself as the office building builds even taller.
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Monumental

Proposed tower could be Washington, D.C.'s tallest
There’s a new development that’s aiming to replace the Washington Monument as the tallest building in the Washington, D. C. area. A group headed by Clemente Development Company and a Saudi partner is acquiring land in northern Virginia to build a 2.8-million-square-foot mixed-use project called The View at Tysons. As part of its plans, the team has proposed a 48-story tower that would be 615 feet tall, making it 60 feet higher than the 555-foot-high Washington Monument on the National Mall. Gensler is the designer of the tower, which will contain two levels of retail space, topped by 13 floors of hotel space and luxury condominiums above that. Other elements of The View at Tysons include two rental apartment buildings, two office towers, a performing arts center and a public plaza. The land is at the intersection of Leesburg Pike and Tyco Road, near the Spring Hill Metro Station, and the team needs zoning approval before it can begin construction. When complete, the Tysons tower would be the second tallest building in Virginia, after the Westin Virginia Beach Town Center hotel in Virginia Beach.
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Gassed Up

Gensler and Reebok team up to design the gas stations of the future
What will happen to gas stations once drivers switch over to electric vehicles? Reebok and Gensler are trying to find out, and have teamed up for a “Get Pumped” partnership that imagines repurposing the gas stations of 2030 as community fitness hubs. First announced by Reebok, the initiative imagines a future where automobiles are all electric, and 71 million of the 260 million cars on the road are autonomously driven. Gas stations are usually centrally located and easily accessible, and Get Pumped proposes adapting them into community fitness centers. “This design work with Gensler allows us to imagine a future where there is zero barrier to entry for an opportunity to work out and be healthy,” said Austin Malleolo, head of Reebok fitness facilities. “Consumers may not need gas stations anymore, but instead of wasting them, we’re recycling them, and maximizing the space so that they become places of community.” Gensler and Reebok focused on three station typologies for adaptive reuse: The Network would transform the interstate rest stop into gyms where travelers can recharge their cars as well as their spirits. Described as the “power grid of the future” by Reebok, these charging stations would feature boxing, spinning, Crossfit, running trails and Les Mils. The Oasis model would turn the larger gas stations typically found on local highways into nutrition hubs, offering farm to table restaurants, juice bars, and yoga and meditation hubs. Outside, passerbys could visit the fresh herb garden or run on a rooftop track. The Community Center scheme proposes repurposing the local community gas stations into healthier living stations, where guests can work out, take a quick nutrition class, or shop for healthy food as their car charges. Because these stations are typically smaller but more densely clustered, each converted community center would work in tandem and form a greater network. While Get Pumped is the first step in laying out a potential framework for changing what the “gas station of the future” might look like, it’s worth remembering the challenges involved. Any gas station conversion would be precluded by an intensive amount of soil remediation, as toxic petroleum often soaks into the underlying dirt. Although this type of adaptive reuse project has certainly been done before, the feasibility of doing so on a nation-wide scale would be unprecedented, especially as more and more stations close and are simply torn down. Still, it wouldn’t be the first time that a big-name architect has tried their hand at designing filling stations.
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One-Eyed Purple People Mover

LAX’s elevated rail moves forward with funding for three stations
The Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has been on an expansion tear in recent years. Following the announcement of a rail connection from Los Angeles to the airport, an accompanying transit hub, and a super jumbo airplane-oriented concourse expansion, a $336 million contract has been awarded to build three new terminal cores for the airport’s forthcoming people mover. As part of the terminal extension plan, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the body responsible for overseeing LAX and the Van Nuys Airports, gave their final approval for a $336 million funding package on January 19th. That money will go to Dallas, Texas-based Austin Commercial Inc., who have a five-year design-build contract with LAWA to build out three new terminal cores for the Automated People Mover (APM), as well as the surrounding elevators, escalators and walkways. All three cores are shooting for LEED Silver Certification. The new Terminal Core Project will see the construction of two cores between the existing Terminals 5 and 6 and the Tom Bradley International Terminal, and one at Terminal 7. According to LAWA, the three new cores will join another four being built privately, by American Airlines for Terminals 4 and 5, Delta Air Lines for Terminals 2 and 3, and Southwest Airlines for Terminal 1. Phase one of the Terminal Core Project will begin in the second half of 2018 and involve preliminary design. Construction will begin in phase two, which is expected to run from 2019 to 2021. The $2.7-billion people mover project is just one part of the greater $5.5-billion Landside Access Modernization Program (LAMP), a modernization initiative meant to improve connectivity across the LAX. Besides pushing guests around the airport in a loop, the people mover will eventually connect with the forthcoming Crenshaw and Green lines once the $600 million Airport Metro Connector 96th Street Station is complete. The people mover is expected to run every two minutes, all day every day, for free, and eventually hit six stations around the LAX. LAX is the fourth busiest airport in the world and second in the United States, and the upgrades are long overdue. Corgan and Gensler have teamed up to design the $1.6-billion concourse expansion, which will hold an additional 12 gates and an 85,000-square-foot baggage area when it’s finished. Once LAMP is complete in 2023, the LAX should seamlessly connect with the satellite gates and the city proper through mass transit.
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What an Honor

Here are the winners of the 2018 AIA Honor Awards in architecture
This is the first article in a three part series documenting the 2018 AIA Institute Honor Awards. This lists the winners of the architecture category, while additional segments contain the winners in the interior architecture and regional & urban design categories. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced the 2018 winners of the AIA Institute Honor Awards. The list contains projects from all around the world, and of varying programs and uses, and honors firms both large and small. From a girls’ school in Afghanistan to a municipal salt shed, this year’s widely diverse group of winning projects will be recognized at the AIA Conference on Architecture 2018 in New York City, in late June. This year's eight member jury panel included:
  • Lee Becker, FAIA (Chair), Hartman-Cox Architects
  • Anne Marie Decker, FAIA, Duvall Decker Architects
  • Susan Johnson, AIA, Strata; Anna Jones, Assoc. AIA, MOD Design
  • Caitlin Kessler, AIAS Student Representative, University of Arizona
  • Merilee Meacock, AIA, KSS Architects
  • Robert Miller, FAIA, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
  • Sharon Prince, Grace Farms Foundation
  • Rob Rogers, FAIA, Rogers Partners.
  Project: Audain Art Museum Architect: Patkau Architects Inc. Location: Whistler, British Columbia, Canada From the AIA Jury: A beautiful, dynamic project that literally wraps users around nature, blurring the boundaries between man-made and natural. It creates a cultural magnet to help educate not only art, but eco-friendly design. The elegant structure hovers over a floodplain topography in an area that receives a large amount of snowfall, battling the elements through an architectural form that embraces the setting. Opportunity for people to live with art. The typology of the building is a stepping stone for Canada, a new icon, and a monument for British Columbia. It has helped elevate all of us. Project: The Broad Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Associate Firm: Gensler Location: Los Angeles From the AIA Jury: Simultaneously sedate and spectacular. It fits the context of the visually exuberant arts buildings in this neighborhood. More than holding its own as a figure, it also engages and takes the user in. The dark body-like, shapely vault is a beautiful counterpoint to the bright, thick, patterned light veil. The design intention is clear and carried through at every scale. The types of space created are unusual but engaging and composed. Project: Chicago Riverwalk Architect: Ross Barney Architects and Sasaki Associates Location: Chicago From the AIA Jury: A gift to city, it embraces Chicago's layered, diverse history by providing a range of amenities that provide forward looking opportunities. Transforms the once neglected downtown riverfront into a vast public space. Design that touches everyone. Subtle moments of education and insight into the ecology of the river, educating visitors and residents. It is the reinvention of urban life that brings attention back to the waterfront. Project: Gohar Khatoon Girls' School Architect: Robert Hull, FAIA, and the University of Washington, Department of Architecture Location: Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan From the AIA Jury: A beautiful and restrained aesthetic with limited means. Architecture is a modern take on Afghan history and masonry construction. This elevates respect for women and girls overall when state resources are used to this extent and design, adding an intent to create an urban oasis and promote community engagement. This space and the process communicates a new era for girls and women very powerfully. It is remarkably resourceful by integrating natural sustainability measures while operating within a weak infrastructure in the country. Project: Manhattan Districts 1/2/5 & Spring Street Salt Shed Architect: Dattner Architects in association with WXY architecture + urban design Location: New York City From the AIA Jury: The Salt storage building took what is usually an industrial construction built as economically as possible into urban art. It raises the bar significantly for civic infrastructure. Unapologetic platonic shape with beautiful skin with commitment to civic expression, environmental responsibility, and sensitivity to the urban context design solution that successfully integrates critical services into the neighborhood. The pursuit of a visual oxymoron to sanitation, and investment therein, is laudable and uplifting to an entire neighborhood and heavily used city corridor. Highly innovative. Project: Mercer Island Fire Station 92 Architect: Miller Hull Partnership Location: Mercer Island, Washington From the AIA Jury: Operations drives design and the execution is flawless. A necessary renovation turned modern reinterpretation of a traditional civic building into a simple box with layers of transparency that visually and physically connect the functions to the street. Great balance of functionality and warmth of materials make this a beautiful facility. Balanced work and relaxation are desired combo for firefighting facilities and certainly that balance is achieved here. As a public project, it is clearly a labor of love. Super judicious use of materials; great scale, sense of public awareness. Best of all this honors the incredibly hard working firefighters deserving of such a light space. Project: New United States Courthouse Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP Location: Los Angeles From the AIA Jury: The design's fascination with natural light and white spaces is nicely contrasted by the golden wood interior figures and floors. The building's form is a representation of site and topography, functionality, environmental performance, civic presence, and public spaces. Traditional materials and architectural elements enliven its civic presence, while modern elements introduced through the glass assembly façade create an iconic image for a 21st Century courthouse building while also providing positive environmental performance. This powerful composition and the generosity of its public spaces gives the project a clear civic presence, separating it from its commercial neighbors. Project: Vol Walker Hall & the Steven L. Anderson Design Center Architect: Marlon Blackwell Architects Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas From the AIA Jury: A complimentary and progressive pairing of modern and traditional forms. Consistent orchestration of natural light and a sparse but powerful use of red to make landmark moments in the building is invigorating. Sets the opportunity for an interesting contrast between the old and new wings. The expanded facility unites all three departments – architecture, landscape architecture, and interior design – under one roof for the first time, reinforcing the School’s identity and creating a cross-disciplinary, collaborative learning environment. The overall design is a didactic model, establishing a tangible discourse between the past and present while providing state-of-the-art-facilities for 21st century architectural and design education. Every space seems equally well resolved, simple, elegant Project: Washington Fruit & Produce Company Headquarters Architect: Graham Baba Architects Location: Yakima, Washington From the AIA Jury: This sits on the landscape beautifully and creates space for meaningful community. The oasis among the warehouses is functional, sustainable, spatial and formal. The design idea is integral and cohesive. An idea with depth. Occupied spaces are oriented towards the heart of the place - the courtyard, avoiding views towards the surrounding freeway and industrial warehouses; earth berms surrounding the building focalize views out to the landscape and blurring the boundary of architecture and site. The owners’ commitment to creating a respite from the industrial environment for their employees led to an exploration of curating views and outdoor spaces. The result is a workspace that encourages quiet contemplation, community and productivity.
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The List

Here are the 25 largest architecture firms in the New York area
Crain's has released its annual Book of Lists, which includes a listing of the largest 25 New York-area architecture firms, ranked by the number of New York-based architects. The New York area, in this case, includes New York City, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties, as well Bergen, Essex, Hudson, and Union counties in New Jersey. All of the information is based on 2016 numbers, and most of the information was self-reported by firms. The project totals includes projects in the design stage, under construction, or completed in 2016. In the case of a tie, firms were listed alphabetically. Without a doubt, these are the giants that are shaping New York's built environment, and far beyond. 1. Gensler New York-area architects: 254 Worldwide architects: 1,177 U.S. projects: 6,806 International projects: 1,742 2. Perkins Eastman New York-area architects: 253 Worldwide architects: 452 U.S. projects: 650 International projects: 200 3. HOK New York-area architects: 224 Worldwide architects: 1,171 U.S. projects: 981 International projects: 814 4. Skidmore, Owings & Merill New York-area architects: 157 Worldwide architects: 374 U.S. projects: 375 International projects: 357 5. Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates New York-area architects: 127 Worldwide architects: 212 U.S. projects: 44 International projects: 164 6. Spector Group New York-area architects: 86 Worldwide architects: 88 U.S. projects: 169 International projects: 10 7. CetraRuddy Architecture New York-area architects: 84 Worldwide architects: 84 U.S. projects: 76 International projects: 3 8. FXFOWLE New York-area architects: 75 Worldwide architects: 75 U.S. projects: 136 International projects: 8 9. Ennead Architects New York-area architects: 72 Worldwide architects: 75 U.S. projects: n/d International projects: n/d 10. STV Architects Inc. New York-area architects: 71 Worldwide architects: 93 U.S. projects: 1,712 International projects: 13 11. Robert A.M. Stern Architects New York-area architects: 64 Worldwide architects: 64 U.S. projects: 186 International projects: 41 12. Gerner Kronick & Valcarcel New York-area architects: 60 Worldwide architects: n/d U.S. projects: 75 International projects: 0 13. SLCE Architects New York-area architects: 57 Worldwide architects: 58 U.S. projects: 63 International projects: 1 14. Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners New York-area architects: 54 Worldwide architects: 78 U.S. projects: 261 International projects: 21 14. Dattner Architects New York-area architects: 54 Worldwide architects: 54 U.S. projects: 98 International projects: 0 14. Stephen B. Jacobs Group New York-area architects: 54 Worldwide architects: 56 U.S. projects: 30 International projects: 2 17. HLW International New York-area architects: 48 Worldwide architects: 74 U.S. projects: n/d International projects: n/d 18. CannonDesign New York-area architects: 47 Worldwide architects: 453 U.S. projects: n/d International projects: n/d 19. AECOM New York-area architects: 46 Worldwide architects: 1,491 U.S. projects: n/d International projects: n/d 20. H2M Architects & Engineers New York-area architects: 43 Worldwide architects: n/d U.S. projects: n/d International projects: n/d 21. Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects New York-area architects: 36 Worldwide architects: 36 U.S. projects: 24 International projects: 21 22. Francis Cauffman New York-area architects: 33 Worldwide architects: 83 U.S. projects: 176 International projects: 1 22. TPG Architecture New York-area architects: 33 Worldwide architects: 33 U.S. projects: 1,238 International projects: 11 24. EwingCole New York-area architects: 32 Worldwide architects: 150 U.S. projects: 400 International projects: 0   25. Perkins & Will New York-area architects: 30 Worldwide architects: 684 U.S. projects: 3,263 International projects: 1,088      
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Form Follows Fear

New U.S. Embassy in London fails to face its neighbors
Marking its first project on U.K. shores, KieranTimberlake Architects’ U.S. Embassy in South London is finally complete. The Philadelphia firm was the winner of a competition launched by the American Embassy in London in 2008. Now the Embassy’s new location in Nine Elms, just off the banks of the River Thames, will open a decade later this January. An official opening date is still pending, as the status of President Donald Trump’s inaugural state visit hangs in the balance due to a concern about widespread protests. Indeed, worries about security dominate the current U.S. Embassy in London, particularly after spate of attacks on other American consulates. Nestled in a Georgian enclave in Mayfair, the current Embassy, Eero Saarinen’s Grade II Listed structure from the 1950s, is unceremoniously fenced off. Despite a crowning aluminum bald eagle, the wealth of bollards that precede the fencing means the embassy's current locale is decidedly lacking in freedom. After surveying 40 possible locations, the U.S Embassy is moving to an even safer compound, one it can truly control. The architects didn’t have a say in curtailing this aspect; a prescribed 100-foot “seclusion zone” meant the embassy’s relationship to the site was never going to be an open one. However, some efforts have been made to make the notion of security less explicit. A bioswale in the form of a semi-circular pond (essentially half a moat), fortified hedges, and a gabion wall have all been sunk below ground level to make the embassy seem less stand-offish from afar. From this distance, KieranTimberlake’s work stands out as a crystalline cube from its brick-clad neighbors. On three sides of the 213-foot-tall structure are ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) sails which act as a shading device. James Timberlake, a partner at the architecture firm, stressed the need to “filter all that enters,” listing “people, air, and even materials.” Birds too are kept out through star-spangled fritting found on the northern-facing façade, the only side free from the ETFE sails. But if the outside dazzles, which it almost does at night, the embassy's interiors are severely lacking. For those who can’t get or see in, you’re not missing out. Although Ambassador Woody Johnson pushed the idea that his embassy’s architecture was “outward-looking,” evidence of this is hard to come by. Inside, it becomes apparent that the sails block fantastic views out onto the river from the east and west sides of the building. As if a brief which stipulated such high levels of security wasn’t enough to strangle the life out of the building, striving for LEED Platinum status through the enormous shading sails has shot the architects in the foot. Perhaps because it is now on Brexit-bound soil, there is further evidence of insularity at a granular scale as well. The embassy, to the annoyance of at least one employee, is filled only with U.S. plug sockets "bar a few Brit outlets.” Besides a serene visa waiting hall and the ground floor lobbies, one of which features work from British artist Rachel Whiteread, the other Gensler-designed interior levels shown to journalists are remarkably boring. Interior gardens and garden balconies offer a sorry attempt at adding American charm. Their inclusion results in the embassy feeling more like a high-security Holiday Inn. This anodyne, ultra-safe approach seems to have leaked into the building's surroundings as well. A nauseatingly large amount of generic apartment blocks surrounds the embassy. They fall under the umbrella of “New London Vernacular,” a term that arose during Boris Johnson's mayoralty to encourage historically sensitive design.  Though most of the area is still under construction, what's built so far already hints at the non-place that the $20-billion Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea Opportunity Area (VNEB), of which the embassy is a part, is set to become. In this bland context, the consulate’s isolationism as expressed in its distinctive facade may, in fact, be its best quality. One thing the embassy wasn’t fearful of though, was spending big. At $1 billion, it is the most expensive embassy in the world. You have to wonder, where did all that money go?
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Park Package

L.A. chooses Handel Architects and Olin for Angels Landing development
Fans of the film 500 Days of Summer will fondly remember Angels Knoll, a peaceful sloped park overlooking the western edge of Downtown Los Angeles, just south of the Angels Flight funicular. That green sadly closed back in 2013, and yesterday, L.A. City Council voted to sell the 2.24 acre property, known in marketing speak as Angels Landing, and in legislative speak as Bunker Hill Parcel  Y-1, to developer Angels Landing Partners (ALP) for about $50 million. ALP, a partnership between MacFarlane Partners, the Peebles Corporation, and Claridge Properties, along with Handel Architects and Olin, beat out the other two finalists, including a more expressive scheme by Onni Group and Stanley Saitowitz, and another design by Angels Landing Development Partners (ALDP), led by developer Lowe Enterprises in collaboration with Cisneros Miramontes, Gensler, and Relm Studio. ALP and Handel Architects now plan to build a 1.27-million-square-foot mixed-use development at 361 South Hill Street that includes two towers connected via a shared podium. The 88- and 24-story towers would include residential, hotel, restaurant, and retail spaces, as well as a home for the Los Angeles Academy of Arts and Enterprise. The project would also include open spaces by Olin, including a 13,700-square-foot plaza and a 25,400-square-foot public terrace. Renderings of the taller tower reveal a tapered structure skinned in horizontal bands of glazing, with a second layer of varied vertical glazing. The shorter mass would be similarly clad, connected via a raised bridge. Their central plaza would step down to the corner of Hill and 4th Streets, covered in vegetation. ALS plans to spend about $1.2 billion on the complex. Of course, approvals still need to be obtained, but if all goes according to plan, construction is expected to be complete by 2024.