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Plazas in Peril

Why are we wrecking our best modernist landscapes?
This is a feature article from Issue 8 of The Architect's Newspaper. If you’ve seen the movie Columbus, you’ll remember, among all the nerdy dialogue about modernist bank branches and James Polshek’s buildings, that scene where the two protagonists passionately discuss the Dan Kiley landscape outside the Eero Saarinen–designed Miller House. No? That’s because landscape architecture, though intrinsic to the experience of some of the best modern buildings, rarely gets the conversation it deserves. Despite being featured in all the film’s promo shots, the landscape by one of the last century’s best landscape architects got zero shout-outs. This snub, brought to light by the Cultural Landscape Foundation Executive Director Charles Birnbaum in a Huffington Post op-ed, reflects larger attitudes toward landscape architecture in the United States. It’s a long-held and frequently heard complaint inside the discipline that even successful landscapes by the very best designers are treated like scenery for architecture. While New Yorkers love Central Park, concrete plazas between modernist skyscrapers—even though they are essential to the experience of the buildings themselves—don’t elicit the same joy. Modern and late-modern landscapes in American cities are the least appreciated and least understood outdoor spaces, though they shape day-to-day experience in the contemporary American city more than leafy 19th-century destination parks. These modern spaces contrasted with—and challenged—the platonic ideal of the American urban park, established by Frederick Law Olmsted and largely unchanged since the 1860s. Urban renewal gave designers the opportunity to think up supersize projects (New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Boston’s Government Center, Pittsburgh’s Gateway Center, Philadelphia’s Penn Center) that afforded new ways of experiencing space and the city. Instead of offering the faux-countryside, 20th-century designers summoned concrete and right angles to create dynamic public spaces rooted in modernist functionalism. In the postwar years, as industry abandoned cities en masse and corporations moved white-collar workers to lush suburban campuses, cities and captains of industry commissioned the best landscape architects in practice to activate declining downtowns with plazas and parklets. In smaller urban projects like Heritage Park Plaza in Fort Worth, Texas, Fountain Place in Dallas, and Peavey Plaza in Minneapolis, designers like Lawrence Halprin, Kiley, and M. Paul Friedberg offered contemporary city experiences that both responded to and represented these profound changes in the American urban form. This not only applies to plazas from the boomer or Gen X era, but to Millennial landscapes, too. Just as chokers and platform sandals are cool again, designers are expressing renewed interest in successful 1990s postmodern landscapes, like Wagner Park or Pershing Square. Despite their significance, these parks are now threatened by thoughtless development. Unlike their forbearers—most of which were baked into city plans or carved from large swaths of open space—modernist landscapes like Freeway Park in Seattle shaped vestigial areas, harnessed from leftover space (like vest-pocket Paley Park in Manhattan), or repurposed former industrial land (Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco). In their comparatively tiny areas, designers deployed textural materials like concrete, gridded trees into mini urban forests, and masked obtrusive city sounds with water features. Despite their historic significance, these sites are constantly imperiled by bad maintenance, and the public antipathy that follows—“What’s with all that concrete, and where are all the flowers?” While it can take decades for an artist’s work to be appreciated, as Halprin noted, landscapes and the land on which they sit are often at the mercy of changing real estate interests and don’t have time to mature in the public perception. Though some, maybe most famously Boston’s Government Center, are wildly unsuccessful and are being (sensitively) adapted right now, many upgradeable landscapes whose potential could be teased out with thoughtful changes are instead being plowed over with heavy-handed schemes that dishonor the original design intent. Maybe because they are underappreciated, many postwar urban parks and plazas are threatened by market forces and dumb human decisions: out-of-place nearby development, revamps that turn parks into front lawns for speculative real estate, rising downtown land values, and, paradoxically, resilience measures that anticipate future coastal flooding. Compared to buildings, landscapes have fewer protections afforded to them. Since June, there’s one less: The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the demolition of a Sasaki fountain and plaza that anchored the base of Citicorp Center, a suave Hugh Stubbins–designed 1970s angle-topped tower on Lexington Avenue at 53rd Street. The architect would faint if he were around to see the flowerbeds proposed for the base of his building. Though developments like these can be jarring, the cities around these landscapes have changed substantially, too. After fleeing in the mid-20th century, people and prosperity have returned to cities. Though regional development is always uneven, there’s a persistent and widespread demand for walk-to-work neighborhoods with a healthy mix of day-into-night life. Downtown is hot. And tastes have changed, too. As megaprojects like Hudson Yards and smaller regional ones like SWA’s San Jacinto Plaza in El Paso, Texas, demonstrate, there’s a desire for more programmed space, with Ping-Pong tables and colorful, interactive public art. These landscapes reflect a turn from urban production to urban consumption; though the social life of these public spaces still includes people-watching and book-reading (or phone-staring), spaces are increasingly programmed around shopping, tourism, and scenery that’s good content for Instagram. Planners today promote infill housing and mixed-use everything, so visitors to these downtown parks are, increasingly, residents too. Outside of a few true classics that have never lost their luster, how do modernist landscapes fare against their newer predecessors? For this feature, we chose some of the notable urban landscapes of that era currently under redevelopment to assess where they are now, and how they’re being adapted—or not—for the future. Their designers never intended for their landscapes to be built and forgotten. There’s little to love in badly patched concrete, treeless planters, or dry fountains. We’re looking anew at famous landscapes by the best of the best and at those that are less familiar. Some honor the landscape architect’s original design intent, while others…don’t. Preservation isn’t about ossifying landscapes in some vintage ideal, but framing updates around the original design intent. Across the country, designers are looking at landscapes with consideration of their significance while adapting them for contemporary knowledge of ecology, accessibility, and programming. In a May 2017 talk at the National Capital Planning Commission in Washington, D.C., Elizabeth Meyer, professor of landscape architecture at the University of Virginia, explained why landscapes of the 1950s through the 1980s are significant today: They are a record of postwar modernization and urbanization, and they should be reimagined—not cast in amber—for the 21st century. “Adapting modernist landscapes does not require demolition and redesign,” Meyer said. Just like the designers who revamped the 19th-century city park in the 1970s, these projects will need careful updates for today’s users, made with intelligent materials, to facilitate life in the present while looking back to history, not to pickle the past but to energize urban life.
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School Cabins

Design collaboration brings mass timber residence halls to the University of Arkansas
A national design collaboration led by Boston-based Leers Weinzapfel Associates and including Arkansas-based Modus Studio, St. Louis–based Mackey Mitchell Architects, and Philadelphia-based OLIN has created America’s first large-scale, mass timber interactive learning project, already under construction at the University of Arkansas. Working off of a “cabin the woods” concept, 708-bed Stadium Drive Residence Halls feature fully exposed, locally harvested wood structural elements. The residence halls are a pair of snaking buildings joined in a central plaza, and include classrooms, dining facilities, maker-spaces, performance spaces, administrative offices, and faculty housing. The five-story buildings, totaling 202,027 square feet, are clad in a zinc-colored paneling, while copper-toned panels are scattered along each floor that appear to float above the heavily planted backdrop. Inside, wooden columns, beams and cross-bracing are all displayed to present a sense of warmth, and to connect students with Arkansas’s local ecology. The halls terminate with large study rooms at the end of each floor, which light up at night and act as beacons for the rest of the campus. The panels were constructed from Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), while the structural columns and beams are made of glulam, where layers of wood all facing the same direction are laminated together under pressure. Each arched building curves around a courtyard or common park area and students enter the complex through a covered “front porch” at the northern building’s main entrance. The central gathering room that connects the hall’s two wings has been dubbed the “cabin,” and despite being relatively small, packs in a hearth, community kitchen, lounge spaces, and a planted green roof. Each hall also features a double-height ground floor lobby with floor-to-ceiling windows that allow uninterrupted views of the surrounding landscape. “The interwoven building and landscaped courtyards, terraces, and lawns; the beauty of timber structure and spaces; and the excitement of performing arts and workshop facilities will make this newest campus residential community a destination and a magnet,” said Andrea P. Leers, principal of Leers Weinzapfel Associates. Leers Weinzapfel is no stranger to working with timber, as its multidisciplinary design building for UMass Amherst wrapped up construction late last year. The project is expected to finish in 2019, and will anchor a new master plan for the University of Arkansas campus.
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California Dispatch

After the fires, the Monterey Design Conference offers a chance for reflection
When the Sonoma and Napa fires of 2017 tore through the Bay Area design community, several thousand structures were destroyed, and as many as 15,000 people were left without homes. Architects whose families and clients lost homes made it to the Monterey Design Conference last October to find comfort and to connect. Every year, I buttonhole attendees to seek out their favorite presenters. Sou Fujimoto won my informal poll, so I’ll start with him. Fujimoto began his presentation with a photo of a tree and a Tokyo city scene. The title of his lecture, “Between Nature and Architecture,” turned out to be the unintended theme for the conference. In all his work, Fujimoto questions obvious assumptions. This was true with two relatively small houses, House N and House NA, where he redefined the interior/exterior boundary. As with Richard Meier, most of his work is white. But unlike Meier’s work, his strives to almost disappear. He even questions assumptions about how to design a public bathroom in Ichihara, making the structure completely transparent and the landscape wholly private. Weiss/Manfredi’s opening lecture addressed the “binary reading of the natural and artificial.” Their low-rise projects express inventive ways to weave structure and landscape together, like Seattle’s Olympia Sculpture Park (2007) or the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Center (2012). This approach reaches its apogee in the Novartis Visitor Center (2013). I can’t remember a high-security checkpoint being so graceful—like the spirit of one of Calatrava’s birds rather than the remains. They reminded us, with their handsome portfolio, that our experience of nature is largely constructed. An unexpected surprise was a last-minute replacement, the tall and very funny Jeff Goldstein from the Philadelphia based firm DIGSAU. Without a written script, he showed us a modest not-for-profit center that trains at-risk youth. Students helped build the wood collage wall. It was a glorious example of how to create authentic community engagement. Shohei Shigematsu, the head of the OMA’s New York office, showed us that there is a future to OMA beyond Rem Koolhaas. Milstein Hall, the expanded center at Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning reminded of some of the big moves architects employed in the 60s. OMA’s diagrams are ingenious, but the spaces are not inviting. One of Shigematsu’s most interesting projects is his collaboration with artist Taryn Simon at the Park Avenue Armory. The concrete columns have a stillness that some of the jazzier permanent buildings do not. My spectacular visuals award goes to Dominique Jakob of the Paris-based Jakob + MacFarlane. Their design appears to be rooted in digital technology and seemed far removed from the mundane requirements of our West Coast digital overlords. On the river in Lyon, two office buildings, the “Orange Cube” and the “Green Cube,” with bold color and grand cutouts, make Apple’s and Facebook’s new buildings look almost banal. The firm’s 100-unit social housing project in Paris doesn’t follow the form of typical Parisian apartment blocks, and Jakob’s use of ETFE film for balcony curtains gives the building a wrapped Christo look on each floor. What was called the “Tribal Elders” slot at previous conferences was filled with the Los Angeles graphic and exhibition designer Gere Kavanaugh. Noted architect and writer Pierluigi Serraino, a raconteur and interviewer of some skill, could not contain Ms. Kavanaugh. While her presentation of modernist graphics did go on too long, Gere was entertaining. Another determined Angeleno, Julie Eizenberg, talked about Urban Hallucinations, her new non-monograph. Her firm Koning Eizenberg has focused on Los Angeles. They are unafraid of the quirky, the cheap, the historic, the imaginary, the gritty, or the glamorous. This is an architect who thrives on constraints and, as she says, “stretches the limits.” One of my favorite new projects was the Pico Branch Library, which allows everybody to connect to the larger digital universe while staying grounded in the very nonimaginary neighborhood. The “Emerging Talents” included Laura Crescimano, a founder of SITELAB Urban Studio with the late Evan Rose. She charts the course for design professionals engaging disadvantaged communities. Heather Roberge of Murmur and Jimenez Lai and Joanna Grant of Bureau Spectacular reminded us that Los Angeles’s up-and-coming architects are just as bold as the earlier generation. Stanley Saitowitz/Natoma Architects alum Alan Tse stole the show. In the few minutes he was allotted, he made us laugh and admire his considerable talent. His restaurants and interiors are sublime, and his construction budgets are what other architects would charge in fees. He made architecture real in a way I’ve rarely seen. We all needed some levity and inspiration as we returned home to question how or even whether we should rebuild so close to the wildland/urban interface. As with most Monterey Design Conferences, we came away with more questions and few answers.
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Take a Peek

Foster+Partners' Apple Park visitor center opens to the public
The Visitor Center at the new Foster+Partners–designed Apple campus in Cupertino, California is now open to the public. According to a press release issued by the design team, the new visitor center will act as an “exclusive public gateway” to Apple Park, the official designation for the recently-opened 2.8 million-square-foot office campus. The visitor center features a roof terrace, quartz stone cladding, and marble finishes, among other features. These design elements are deployed in the visitor center in order to give the public a glimpse of the sumptuous finishes utilized in the office building proper, which is not open to the public and is accessible only via automobile. The visitor center also features a small exhibition space showcasing a scale model of Apple Park as well as a small cafe. Images released to commemorate the opening depict rounded glass walls and a thin wood and carbon fiber canopy topping the center’s most public facade. The images also showcase interior design elements like a quartz-wrapped staircase similar to those deployed throughout the campus’s office areas. In the press release, Stefan Behling, head of studio at Foster + Partners said, “The idea was to create a delicate pavilion where visitors can enjoy the same material palette and meticulous detailing seen in the Ring Building in a relaxed setting, against the backdrop of Apple Park.” The public visitor center is located within an olive grove, part of the OLIN-designed campus landscape plan, which includes 175-acres of woodlands, drought-tolerant plants, fruit trees, and expansive earthworks. The Philadelphia-based landscape architects planted over 9,000 tree specimens for the project. The campus has been criticized from all sides since opening earlier this year for its budget, internal layout, and mono-functional programming, among other aspects.
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The Future is Female (and Cyborgs)

Patricia Urquiola Talks Self-Driving Cars, Technology, and the Future of Design
Last week, Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola was awarded the Design Excellence Award from Collab, an affiliate group of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in conjunction with the opening of the first solo exhibition of her work. Known for her inventive and playful approach to both architecture and design, Urquiola shared her experiences studying under Achille Castiglioni, integrating new technologies, designing self-driving cars, and working with virtual reality for Milan Design Week 2018. Early Years “What can I say? I’ve been very lucky. I studied architecture in Madrid and then moved to Milan to attend the Polytechnic University, which was outside of my comfort zone as an architect. Many of the teachers there were also working designers and they were the most interesting people: Vico Magistretti, Achille Castiglioni, Maddalena De Padova, and many others. It was an incredible time to be in Milan. They were all so generous, Vico in particular had a way of taking energy from everyone and putting it all together.” Design and Technology “Technology is absolutely an advantage. Since opening my studio in 2000, technology has changed so much—not only in terms of communication, but how it lets us mix technology and craft. For Salone del Mobile I am doing a virtual reality project in my studio, which of course will not be physical. But, even when I am designing physical things like furniture, light fixtures, and kitchen appliances, it has all evolved to be connected in some way to computers. We should always be open-minded. It doesn’t mean losing a curiosity for things that are crafted, but it means you have to remember the humanistic side and use the technology and the energy to manage it all. We had to become human before we became cyborgs! On Being a Woman in Design “I’m not prejudiced… it does mean you have to do things double-well [as a woman]. I have two daughters, and even though they aren’t in design, I want them to feel comfortable and be fantastic at what they do… I want them to do double-well because that is very good, regardless. It doesn’t mean losing yourself as a person, but you do have to deal with challenges. I don’t think we should look at limits as a limit but as a challenge. Of course there was prejudice when Ferrari asked me to do the exhibition for them, but Ferrari is not stupid—they know that I am a person who can create these experiences and do it well. And I am so happy with the exhibition, because you enter it with this Ferrari red and then you lose the red and really get under the skin of the car. It was about breaking limits and breaking prejudices because they just aren’t necessary.” The Future of Cars  “We have a lot to do in a very short amount of time. I am working with car companies on self-driving cars. We need very modern designers because all cars right now are more or less the same on the inside: There’s a place to buckle your seatbelt, your seats, and lots of leather, you know. But there are thermal reactive, intelligent fabrics that could work much better and other fantastic solutions we can do. When we have the self-driving car we will basically just be living inside of it while it is moving so it becomes architecture. And they need us. The creative community of architects and designers, we can do it.”
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Plaza Planning

Amtrak reveals renderings for Philly's 30th Street Station
In conjunction with designers FXFOWLE!melk, and Arup, Amtrak announced last week that it had chosen a final preferred concept for the plaza surrounding Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. In the 107-page proposal, Amtrak called the area around the station a “sea of driveways,” and laid out steps the company was taking to modernize the transportation hub. Following up on an earlier call for input that Amtrak had put out in July, the final proposal comes after months of town hall meetings with Philadelphia residents. The new 30th Street Station will anchor the $6.5 billion 30th Street Station District Plan, an 18-million-square-foot, 35-year redevelopment of University City, the riverfront neighborhood surrounding Drexel, the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Medicine, and several other higher education institutions. 30th Street Station itself is only one piece of the puzzle, with other teams planning concurrent schemes for separate parcels, including SHoP Architects' and Netherlands-based landscape architects West 8’s Schuylkill Yards project. With an estimated 11 million riders passing through every year, and with Amtrak expecting that number to double by the time the 30th Street Station District Plan wraps up, any tweaks to the current station have to accommodate that increase. Besides serving Amtrak trains, 30th Street Station is the heart of Philadelphia’s regional SEPTA rail, and the new proposal better integrates the two disparate systems. A new ground-level entryway to the West Underground Concourse on the plaza was revealed, creating an underground connection to the SEPTA subway and trolley station. One of the biggest concerns that Amtrak has tried to address is how isolated the station is from the street. While 40 percent of the surveyed area around the station was classified as pedestrian-friendly, not all of it is connected to anything else or intuitive to navigate. Creating several pedestrian-only zones, the new proposal calls for the installation of rounded benches, planters and fountains designed to subtly delineate between plaza and parking lot. The west portico and southwest section of the plaza will also be converted into car-free green spaces. One minor change that should make a huge difference in the traffic patterns around the station is the creation of a distinct taxi pick-up zone at the east portico near the train platforms, and a drop-off zone on the west side. A 220-unit bike station will also be coming to the site, complete with lockers and bicycle rentals. Amtrak is currently searching for a “master developer” to actualize their proposal, with construction slated to begin  in 2020 and finish sometime between 2025 and 2030. Read the full proposal here.
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Chevron Clarity

A closer look at Zaha Hadid’s first residential property in New York
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Originally unveiled in 2013, Zaha Hadid’s first residential property in New York is nearing completion. Situated on the High Line in close proximity to Hudson Yards, one of NYC’s largest developments, the intimate building offers 39 condo units, many of which include private vestibules and entrances. The project is perhaps the epitome of luxury “21st-century dwelling” in New York, but for all of its loaded amenities catering to private residents–an automated valet, one of the first private IMAX theatres in the world, advanced home automation capabilities, 24-hour gym, juice bar, private automated storage accessed via a secured viewing room (inspired by the design of a Swiss bank vault nonetheless)–the architects say the essence of this project is about an urban contextual response that results in a building that doubles as public art for passersby to enjoy. This dynamic plays out in the building envelope, a sculptural expression of hand-rubbed steel that weaves between motorized doors, windows, and curved glass units. Ed Gaskin, senior associate at Zaha Hadid Architects, said “in the great tradition of quintessential New York buildings, such as Rockefeller Center and the Chrysler Building, 520 West 28th is a building that seeks to improve the public realm through art and architecture.”
  • Facade Manufacturer M. Cohen and Sons (exterior metal cladding and railings); Stahlbau Pichler GmbH/Srl (curtain wall and window wall); Sunglass (glazing)
  • Architects Zaha Hadid Ltd; Ismael Leyva Architects (Architect of Record)
  • Facade Installer M. Cohen and Sons
  • Facade Consultants Gilsanz Murray Steficek
  • Location New York, NY
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System curtain wall over flat slab concrete frame
  • Products Aluminum frame curtain wall and window wall; handcrafted exterior metal cladding panels; Large scale curved glass; custom motorized sliding doors; custom motorized operable windows
The proximity of the High Line was particularly important for the architects, who say they were inspired by the overlay of public space near the site, namely the contrast between an elevated free-flowing High Line pathway with the urban grid of streets below. In response, the architects developed an “urban layering” concept that resulted in split levels, challenging the orthodoxy of flat floor plate construction. The resulting split-level configuration is articulated by a continuous chevron ribbon composed of a 900-piece hand-rubbed steel panel installation. “Rather than a staggered zigzag climbing the facade from floor to floor, the chevron is a continuous line, extending along and framing living spaces, bending around the soft curves of unbroken panoramic glass corners and wrapping the facade in free flowing lines each connected and looping continuously from one floor to the next,” said Gaskin. “Balconies and set-back terraces further express a sense of layering in the urban fabric heightened by balconies projecting and dynamically gesturing toward the High Line where it meets the site.” The metal facade was meticulously hand-crafted from stainless steel, recalling the spirit of Chelsea’s industrial past. The panels were engineered, cut, and welded by M. Cohen and Sons, a Philadelphia-based metal fabrication group offering design assist, engineering, project management, and installation services. They achieved a lustrous blackened finish by an antiquing process, light orbital brushing and hand tinting, to produce an effect that resonates with the adjacent elevated rail structure of the High Line.   The structuring of the 11-story building was achieved with a conventional flat plate in-situ reinforced concrete. Local areas of post-tensioning were required where cantilevered floors and balconies exceed the limits of flat plate spans.   Glazing design was key to the energy and visual performance of the building envelope. Insulated glazing units (IGU’s) track continuously around flat and radiused segments of the perimeter of the building. IGUs are composed of a layered assembly of three low iron glass panels, two of which are laminated together, with an air void along with low-e coatings for solar protection. The transition between flat and curved units was greatly scrutinized by the project team to ensure visual clarity and color consistency across the fluid expression of the building envelope. One of the challenges, however, was the convex and concave curvatures of the design required varied glazing manufacturing processes which yielded slightly different visual results. The major difference between concave and convex glazing was the location of the coating surface, which produced an “almost imperceptible change in color” according to Gaskin, who said the team “exploited architectural conditions to minimize the visual impact of these differences.” The concave units were located in full shade at deep balcony recesses, contrasting with exposed conditions of the convex units. Gaskin said this contrast of conditions assisted in masking the already subtle differences in glazing appearance. Additionally, during the product sourcing phase, the project team’s attention was focused on testing the supplier’s capability to deliver consistent quality through production and inspection of full-scale mock-ups. This attention to detail ultimately resulted in a “continuity of quality,” according to Gaskin, which was achieved by “understanding material qualities, impacts of manufacturing techniques and working with suppliers to coordinate and test results across different types of glass manufacturing and window unit assemblies.” The project complied with all code requirements, maximizing gross floor area (GFA), building height, and standard setback conformance. The IGUs were installed in a curtain wall system that hung on the outside of floor decks to fully enclose the building. These were selected after design simulation models of thermal and energy performance, which compared the assembly to more commonly-specified window wall systems which sit between floor decks. Gaskin said the facade design at 520 W 28th “successfully demonstrates a way of achieving dynamic and organic sculptural form by repetition of a limited number of standard cladding panel types. Further, use of common installation details and practices allows us to apply the best practices for envelope performance and costs.”
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BID CITIES

A revealing look at how cities bid for Amazon's new headquarters
On October 19, Amazon received 238 proposals from cities and regions in 54 states, provinces, districts and territories across North America, all vying to be the home of HQ2, the $5 billion, 50,000-employee co-headquarters the company wants to build over the next two decades. A decision is expected sometime in 2018. Bidders were asked not to divulge details of their proposals, but information has leaked out about many of them. Baltimore officials held a news conference at the waterfront site they’re touting, saying, “This must be the place.” The District of Columbia identified four possible locations and created a hashtag: #ObviouslyDC. Birmingham, Alabama placed giant Amazon packages all over town. New York City lit up the Empire State Building and other landmarks “Amazon orange.” While much of the news coverage has focused on some of the more publicity-seeking stunts by cities and locales, it is worth sifting through the news to consider how the urban landscape is being imagined and parceled off for a single corporate giant. Some bidders don’t meet Amazon’s criteria for consideration, such as having a metropolitan area of at least one million people or zoning to build up to 8 million square feet of office space. Others are making strong cases for why they should be chosen by combining their forces with other locales. Overall the bids reveal a glimpse of how seriously some cities are taking the chance to host Amazon, and what they believe the strengths of their metropolitan areas are. Some cities put all their eggs in a single basket, offering up a single site within their city boundaries. Boston offered Suffolk Downs, a soon-to-close horse racing track in East Boston, and touted its concentration of leading colleges and universities. “Boston sells itself,” Mayor Martin Walsh was quoted as saying in The Boston Globe. “We have world class colleges and universities. We’re the youngest city per capita in America.” Baltimore offered the 235-acre Port Covington redevelopment area south of downtown. An independent citizens’ group offered a second site in midtown Baltimore, including land currently occupied by the state penitentiary, a proposed Innovation Hub, and State Center, a government office complex. Dallas extended a transit-oriented development surrounding a proposed $15 million Hyperloop terminal that will run between Dallas and Houston. New Jersey offered an 11.5–acre riverfront site in Newark as well as tax breaks worth up to $7 billion. Practice for Architecture and Urbanism would be the master planner for the project, working with Michael Green Architect, TEN Arquitectos and Minno & Wasko Architects and Planners. Surprise, Arizona, the Grand Canyon State’s “newest emerging city,” made an unlikely bid for the Amazon project by offering 100 acres of prime downtown real estate, Bizjournals reported. Offering big city amenities but also a “blank canvas waiting to be painted,” the municipality west of the Phoenix metro area boasts sports training facilities for national teams, a college stadium that hosts professional football games, and a foreign trade zone already being developed by international corporations. The bid sets aside the 100-acre site beside its civic center with the intention of having Amazon “help to create the culture of downtown.” In case Amazon isn’t content with creating a new downtown from thin air, the municipality also offered up the suburban town of Prasada nearby that also has 100 acres of vacant, highway-adjacent land that can be used. Surprise joins Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe and Tucson, Arizona as cities making bids for the HQ2 project in the state. Other cities proposed a range of sites, suggesting that their cities were more than equipped to handle the space and tech needs of a headquarters like Amazon. Washington, D. C. proposed four locations for Amazon HQ2: the Anacostia Riverfront, Capitol Hill East; Shaw-Howard University, and NoMa-Union Station. Another promising site would have been the RFK stadium property, but as a federally owned property, leasing terms require that the land be used for sports and recreation, so it wasn’t offered. New York City identified four potential sites: Midtown West, Long Island City, the Financial District and the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, which includes DUMBO, the Brooklyn Navy Yards and downtown Brooklyn. Philadelphia proposed three locations: Schuylkill Yard, uSquare and the Navy Yard. Chicago offered 10 potential sites and an incentive package that could be worth $2 billion.  The sites are the “Downtown Gateway District,” which includes space in the Willis Tower and the Old Post Office; the endangered Helmut Jahn-designed James R. Thomson Center; two separate sites along the Chicago River’s North Branch; the now booming Fulton Market in the city’s West Loop neighborhood; the Illinois Medical District; a 62-acre site along the Chicago River’s South Branch; the now vacant site of the former Michael Reese Hospital in Bronzeville, and two sites outside of the city at the former Motorola global headquarters in Schaumberg and the soon-to-be former McDonald’s headquarters in Oak Brook. Huntington Beach and Long Beach in California offered three sites: the Boeing campus in North Huntington Beach,  the World Trade Center in Long Beach, and a site next to the Long Beach Airport. Another set of cities, perhaps due to their size, offered a regional package, either by applying to be part of a regional headquarters or teaming up with nearby cities and even across international borders to put together an offer. Omaha, Nebraska does not meet many of the company’s stated requirements, but it submitted a bid in the hopes that Amazon may choose to break up the project over multiple cities. If not, city leaders expressed the hope that their bid will be a chance to put the city in front of Amazon executives, and those of other tech companies, for the possibility of future investments. Missouri offered three sites: Columbia, St. Louis and Kansas City, with a Hyperloop transit system connecting all three. In Kansas City, Mayor Sly James purchased 1,000 items on Amazon, leaving reviews and product videos for many of them. Each review included not-so-coded language about the advantages of living and working in Kansas City. Buffalo and Rochester, New York, submitted a joint proposal offering the metro corridor between the two cities. The Buffalo-Rochester team highlighted the region’s contributions to technological research in many fields relevant to Amazon–among others, RFID technologies, drones, and software development. They also highlighted the corridor’s ties to businesses and universities just across the border in Canada. Detroit-Windsor, Michigan and Ontario, Canada teamed up to submit an international bid that presents unique opportunities for Amazon in terms of hiring and wages. Amazon would have more flexibility in building a staff with the option of hiring either Canadian or U.S. employees. There is also the possibility that Amazon could save on wages thanks to the exchange rate. Currently, one U.S. dollar is worth $1.26 in Canadian currency. Finally, another set of city bids crafted multi-nodal offers across multiple cities or scattered sites within city borders rather than proposing a single-site headquarters. In the San Francisco Bay area, the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond, Concord, and Fremont joined forces to make one bid. The San Francisco portion of the bid offers up the Candlestick Point and San Francisco Shipyard, a stretch of land called “Southern Bayfront” running down Mission Creek to Candlestick Park, and another area in the South of Market district for the development. In Oakland, the Uptown Station, 601 City Center, and Eastline Development sites are offered. Concord is providing the decommissioned Concord Naval Weapons facility, a 2,300-acre site includes 500 acres slated for a potential first phase of the project. Richmond is offering a new research and development facility on the University of California, Berkeley campus that could potentially serve as a brain hub for the tech giant. Fremont is offering a 28-acre parcel at a transit stop that is zoned for 1.8 million square feet of commercial development. The combined regional bid includes adding 45,000 housing units to the area. In Los Angeles, leaders with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation are offering a dispersed, nine-site proposal. The specific sites have not been disclosed, but according to the Daily News, areas of the San Fernando Valley’s Warner Center complex, Cal Poly Pomona’s campus, and sections of Santa Clarita are up for grabs. Sites in Long Beach are also potentially included as part of the proposal. Colorado pitched what Governor John Hickenlooper described to 9 News as a “collaborative community that works to solve our own problems,” adding that with Colorado, Amazon would be “not just getting a site. They’re getting a community.” The proposal was generated by the Denver Economic Development Corporation, a private entity that works across the nine-county metropolitan area surrounding Denver. The bid involves eight sites across the state and an unspecified number of tax incentives, which Hickenlooper described as being “1/20th” the amount of incentives offered by other states and municipalities. Outside the melee of bidding, at least two cities made a point of announcing they weren’t submitting a proposal. In Texas, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff wrote an open letter to Bezos stating, "The public process is, intentionally or not, creating a bidding war,” and “blindly giving away the farm isn’t our style.” Rather than jump through hoops to try and attract Amazon’s attention, Little Rock, Arkansas, took the opportunity both to graciously decline and promote itself. In a full-page ad taken out in The Washington Post, which is owned by Bezos, the Arkansas capital of 200,000 penned a “Dear John” letter to announce its intention not to place a bid. “Amazon, you’ve got so much going for you, and you’ll find what you’re looking for,” read the letter. While Little Rock was a long shot, unable to meet some of the company’s requirements, it’s also the home of one of Amazon’s largest rivals, Walmart. Arkansas was one of only seven states that did not have a jurisdiction bidding for the new headquarters. The others are Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming. Additional reporting for this article was provided by AN editors Matthew Messner, Antonio Pacheco, and Jackson Rollings. 
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Genius Grants

Damon Rich and Kate Orff are awarded 2017 MacArthur "genius" grants
Damon Rich, founder of the Center of Urban Pedagogy (CUP) and co-founder of design studio Hector, and Kate Orff, founder of SCAPE, have been honored with 2017 MacArthur Fellowships. Awarded annually by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to individuals across a range of fields, the award gifts its fellows a no-strings-attached $625,000 stipend over five years. Unlike other awards, its fellows aren't selected based on an existing body of work so much as "extraordinary originality" and "a marked capacity for self-direction," according to the Foundation's website. Rich certainly demonstrates both. Trained as an architect at Columbia University, in 1997 Rich founded CUP, a New York City-based nonprofit that develops programs to help community development organizations and public school students address public policy and social justice issues  like zoning, tenants' rights, infrastructure design, and more. From 2008 to 2015, Rich served as the chief urban designer and director of planning for the City of Newark, New Jersey. During his tenure, he worked with local advocacy groups to redevelop the city's waterfront as an accessible urban parkway dotted with environmental installations, a process still embroiled in city politics. He also formed a coalition of city-wide organizations to revamp Newark's obsolete zoning and land-use regulations for the first time in over fifty years. In 2015, Rich co-founded the design studio Hector with Jae Shin. The firm is currently involved in the redesign of Mifflin Square Park in Philadelphia in addition to ongoing work in Newark and San Francisco. As part of the Philadelphia project, Hector has formed a coalition of local advocacy groups and city agencies to inform the final design, which may incorporate a Buddhist temple, a number of public eateries, and ongoing community programming. Forming these kinds of coalitions has become the backbone of Rich's work. "This is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Philadelphia, with Cambodian, Laotian, Vietnamese, and Bhutanese residents, and many more from a range of backgrounds," Rich told The Architect's Newspaper (AN). "Design groups need to have the cultural competence to treat people like they're people, and bring the spirit and identity of the place into physical form." Rich also serves as an adjunct associate professor at Columbia University's GSAPP program, where he teaches architecture and urban design. While he didn't specify how he would use the award, Rich reflected on what it might mean to the next generation. "In public sector work, I'd hope to be one voice standing up for our often beleaguered municipal planners, and encourage youth that this is a career path they might want to be a part of," Rich said. "I hope this award points to the fact that even though planning departments are very old technologies, there's still a fundamentally exciting and engrossing potential in any forum where we come together and shape the places we live in." Kate Orff is the first landscape architect to ever be awarded the MacArthur prize. Her work at SCAPE has risen to great prominence, with upcoming commissions including participation in the U.S. Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. Her emphasis on ecological stewardship, however, sets her apart from peers. Orff cares deeply about the effects of climate change on the urban fabric, as well as the long-term effects design can have on biodiversity and ecosystem wellness. Her approach also puts some of this responsibility on the users of public spaces, encouraging park-goers and community members to participate in environmental stewardship. One cornerstone project that helped put Orff's work on the map was a collaboration with photographer Richard Misrach. In 2012, the two set out to document and quantify the outfall of industrial sites along a chemical corridor known as the "American Ruhr" in the Lower Mississippi River Valley. The resulting book, Petrochemical America, examines the environmental, economic, and public health consequences of pollution in southeastern Louisiana. SCAPE's project for President Obama's Rebuild by Design competition after Hurricane Sandy proposed a series of oyster reefs on Staten Island's North Shore that would act as wave breakers and water filters, as well as serve as an outdoor classroom to educate youth on marine and coastal ecology. Most recently, SCAPE has completed a design for Lexington, Kentucky's Town Branch Commons. Their design highlighted the site's underlying porous limestone in a linear park that stretched through the city. "I really feel we need to mobilize and understand the best available science, apply it to the built environment, and to anticipate the next 50 years or the next 100 years," Orff said in her feature on the MacArthur Foundation's website. "I think we have a huge role to play, not just to beautify but literally to reset ecosystems, to reconnect people to each other through these social spaces that also can perform ecological services."
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Instagram Eavesdrop

Mirage houses, Mongolian blob museums, and other updates from the architects of Instagram
At The Architect’s Newspaper, we’re plain addicted to Instagram. Sure, we love seeing Brutalist concrete through “Inkwell” or “Ludwig” filters, but there’s also no better place to see where architects are getting their inspiration, how they’re documenting the built environment, and where they’ve traveled of late. Below, we bring you some of the best Instagrams of this past week! (Also, don’t forget to check out our Instagram account here.) A new exhibit on the historical iterations and potential of scaffolding went up at the Center for Architecture, and Shohei Shigematsu of OMA was the exhibition's lead designer. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZmIjN-hQh0/?taken-by=centerforarch A short hop across the East River, the Noguchi Museum is gearing up for the October 25 opening of Gonzalo Fonseca's architectural sculptures, many carved from stone. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZ1f0wpHH1F/?taken-by=noguchimuseum SO-IL's Florian Idenburg paid a visit to a panopticon prison in Haarlem, Netherlands called Kijk in de Koepel. His visit was timed perfectly with two news bits that had us chuckling this week: One upsettingly real (Jeremy Bentham's literal severed head displayed in an upcoming exhibit), and the other pure satire (meet Synergon). https://www.instagram.com/p/BZoAOCVn8AC/?taken-by=florianidenburg Andrés Jaque, founder of Office for Political Innovation, posted the opening of his new exhibit titled Transmaterial Politics, which opened at Tabacalera Madrid on September 28. Poppy and probing as always. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZpq6FJAz4E/?taken-by=andres_jaque MAD Architects threw us back to their Ordos Museum in inner Mongolia, a mass of organic and rigid forms cloaked under an undulating shell of metal tiles. Without wanting to, we will imagine it springing to life at night and prowling the Gobi Desert under a shrouded moon, much like Gehry museums (wherever they live). https://www.instagram.com/p/BZnkPdyFNdq/?taken-by=madarchitects Geoff Manaugh, author of BLGBLOG, visited the extremely Instagrammable Mirage by Douglas Aitken in the California Desert which is clad with mirrors both inside and out. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZ4WEW5j_M1/?taken-by=bldgblog The DesignPhiladelphia conference shared their city's redeveloped Navy Yards, landscaped by James Corner Field Operations. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZy-YJzF9WA/?taken-by=designphilly This last one is short and sweet, and we tell you this only because of the crushing guilt that would consume us otherwise. Winka Dubbeldam ate a grasshopper. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZ0lE02BVh9/?taken-by=winkadub That’s it for today, hashtag archilovers and quote-on-quote gallerinas. See you next week for more drama.
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Reelin' It In

Olin's Pier 26 playground to feature large, scalable native fish
OLIN and the Hudson River Park Trust have revealed updated designs for Pier 26 in Tribeca. The waterside space, part of Hudson River Park, will now feature a playground with two large, very scalable fish. The Philadelphia firm initially presented a comprehensive plan for the pier to Manhattan Community Board 1 last December. The latest design meeting in September, however, focused on the nautical playground, which sits near the pier on the mainland. While the December plans featured a“nest pod” playscape, the new playground's centerpiece is an Atlantic sturgeon and a shortnose sturgeon, supersize green metal versions of endangered Hudson River species that children can climb on, dart inside of, and slide through. The design is in keeping with the Trust's mission to steward the Hudson River estuary and provide low-cost or free educational and cultural programming to residents. In addition to slides and climbing pegs, the larger Atlantic sturgeon would have three entrances and a "play bubble" at one end, while the shortnose would have an ADA-accessible slide that unfurls from its mouth. Construction on the playground is slated to begin early next year. (All gallery images were obtained via Tribeca Citizen.) Right now, plans feature sports fields, an overwater net for lounging, and other recreation spaces atop the 80,000-square-foot pier, which sits on Manhattan's far west side between Hubert and North Moore streets. The sturgeon playground is sited just to the south of City Vineyard and the Downtown Boathouse, Pier 26's commercial occupants. Development of the pier has been a long time coming: In October 2015, the Trust brought on Raphael Viñoly to design an estuarium, and eventually, the group would like to build a river study center to complement the park's recreational programming. The Tribeca Trib reports that the Trust is still seeking money for the Viñoly project, while the river center is currently neither fully designed or funded.
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Ain't No Party Like a Postmodern Party

Happy Birthday, Denise Scott Brown!
Although she was born in South Africa, Denise Scott Brown has become one of the United State’s most influential architects, a leader in postmodernism, co-author of Learning from Las Vegas (1972), a staunch advocate for women’s rights, and the mastermind behind projects such as the Sainsbury Wing of London’s National Gallery, the Seattle Art Museum, the Allen Memorial Art Museum, the capitol in Toulouse, and Franklin Court in Philadelphia. Today, in honor of Scott Brown’s 85th birthday, we rounded up just a few of her many notable moments over the years. On her years at the University of Pennsylvania… “Robert and I entered planning school hoping to study early modern planning ideas, like Arturo Soria y Mata’s linear city. We thought it was an interesting solution to urban-rural disconnection in mass cities. Trains, we suggested, should travel at 100 miles an hour. When teachers observed that would be too fast for transit stops, we replied, ‘That doesn’t matter!’ We were early modern machine romantics.” On winning the Jane Drew prize… “There is an irony in it because I knew Jane Drew. I hold very different opinions from the ones she held,” said Scott Brown, speaking to Laura Mark in the Architects’ Journal (AJ). “When we met over the years sometimes it was up and down,” Scott Brown added. “I gave a lecture once and I said something about Walter Gropius and there was a lot of shouting from the back of the room and it was Jane Drew. She was quite a down right woman and I’m a down right woman. She might mind that I have been given the prize—but I don’t. I’m very happy that people want me to have a prize and that she should have a prize named after her.” On winning the AIA Gold Medal… “It was worth being a witch.” On postmodernism… “So we do postmodernism, Philip Johnson does pomo. It doesn't have all that thought behind it and it doesn't even have the thought about aesthetics that we've done behind it. I call pomo 'limp,' and think what we do is lasting and part of modernism's long-past departure.” On party etiquette… Former dean Robert A.M. Stern recounted a 1969 party in which “I had to peel Denise Scott Brown away from fighting with Paul Rudolph in my apartment over the subject of the way Denise and Bob Venturi had treated Rudolph’s Crawford Manor.” Scott Brown and Venturi had “savaged” the building in Learning From Las Vegas. Stern describes architect Ulrich Franzen telling him: "Bob, you better go into the library, Denise is about to kill Paul Rudolph." On being a woman in architecture… “There’s a million ways to be a woman. There’s a million ways to be a mother. And there’s a million ways to be an architect."