Search results for "waterfront"

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Islands in the Cash Stream

Louvre Abu Dhabi dome fabricator declares insolvency over late payments
A year after the Jean Nouvel–designed Louvre Abu Dhabi opened its doors in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District, a waterfront arts quarter with buildings from big-name architects, things aren’t entirely rosy. The Austrian steel engineering conglomerate Waagner-Biro, responsible for building the intricately latticed, double-layered dome over the museum, has reportedly declared insolvency due to their involvement in the project. Late payments and inflated costs on the approximately $90 million Louvre offshoot have forced Waagner-Biro to sell its subsidiaries in hope of remaining solvent. The 262-foot-wide dome is made up of almost 8,000 interlocking metal octagons, layered over each other in reference to the mashrabiya, a traditional Islamic sunscreen that shades while allowing air to pass through. The museum below the dome is a loose-knit collection of 23 gallery spaces that together form a layout closer to an open-air market typology than a traditional museum space. Nouvel has described the dome as “an oasis of light”—during the day, the sun filters in from above like starlight, and at night, the museum below causes the roof to glow from within. Waagner-Biro began in 1854 as a locksmith but has grown into a major player in architectural steel installation; the company constructed the spiraling roof of the Great Court in London’s British Museum and the dome of the Reichstag in Berlin. Unfortunately, after costs rose during the Louvre Abu Dhabi dome installation, Abu Dhabi refused to pay and forced Waagner-Biro to shoulder the difference. The firm’s daughter company, SBE Alpha AG, was declared insolvent on October 23 of this year and its financial woes have spread to the rest of the 1,300-employee company. Waagner-Biro has already sold its Waagner-Biro Austria Stage Systems AG subsidiary to Austrian entrepreneur Erhard Grossnigg for restructuring; the offshoot has handled stage engineering work at the Sydney Opera House and Berlin’s State Opera House in the past. While it remains to be seen if Waagner-Biro will be able to emerge from insolvency, that hasn’t been the only piece of bad news for the Louvre Abu Dhabi this week. Salvator Mundi, a portrait of Jesus allegedly painted by Leonardo da Vinci and sold for a record-breaking $450 million last November, has reportedly been feared as lost. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman purchased the painting with the intent of displaying it in the Louvre Abu Dhabi, but the September 18 unveiling date has passed without a peep from the prince. The fate of Salvator Mundi, whether it will be put on display in the new Louvre, or how it’s being cared for are now only known to the Saudi royal family.
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Rails to Trails

Competition opens to redesign Buffalo's old elevated rail line
Across the country, cities are reimagining old industrial landscapes as innovative parklands and restorative ecologies as a way to connect urban dwellers with nature and protect the environment. A new design ideas competition in Buffalo, New York, aims to revitalize the city’s 1.5-mile elevated DL&W rail corridor as a multiuse urban nature trail and greenway. The project is set not only to spur economic development for Buffalo but to reshape the city, becoming a local attraction much like the Toronto’s Bentway or Atlanta’s Beltline. Organized by the Western New York Land Conservancy (WNYLC), the competition invites architects, designers, landscape architect, urban planners, and artists to submit visionary concepts of the corridor as a nature-filled connector for downtown Buffalo, its waterfront, and the surrounding historic neighborhoods. The project is backed by several major sponsors, including M&T Bank and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., Legacy Funds, a group that’s part of the late Buffalo Bills owner’s namesake foundation which, just last month, pledged to invest $200 million in both Buffalo and Detroit’s parks and trails systems. The corridor is owned by Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and has long been a focal point of potential redevelopment for residents and city officials alike. Last year, the WNYLC published a community vision for the site that will guide its future design. “After listening to the community’s hopes for the DL&W corridor, we are excited to give designers from Western New York and around the world a chance to show us how they would bring those hopes to life,” said Nancy Smith, executive director of the WNYLC in a statement. “This spring we will share the designs with the community and ask the community what they think of the ideas, what they like, and what they would do differently.” The competition will be judged by a jury of architects, educators, planners, and consultants including representatives from the University of Buffalo, Stoss Landscape Urbanism, and Friends of the High Line. The proposals will be unveiled online next spring and will also be featured in several public exhibitions in Buffalo. Three winners, including the jury’s favorite as well as the community’s pick, will receive monetary awards ranging from $1,000 to $7,500. To enter the competition, participants must register for free by emailing dlw@wnylc.org. For more information on submission guidelines and the competition brief, see here. An optional site visit for applicants will be held on January 4, 2019, and submissions are due February 15.
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The Neverending Story

Amazon's new Queens campus might displace 1,500 affordable units
Amazon’s confirmation earlier this month that it would be dropping one half of its future campus in Long Island City (LIC), Queens, immediately drew condemnation from state representatives and a group of New York City’s elected officials. As the furor grew over Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to rezone a portion of LIC for the tech giant’s campus, Cuomo released an op-ed today where he hit back at critics of the plan and touted the economic growth that Amazon would bring to New York. Housing affordability had been a point of contention among critics of the $3 billion in subsidies that Amazon will be receiving, and a new report from Politico shows that Amazon’s campus will preclude the creation of 1,500 affordable housing units. Amazon’s investment in the city won’t be insignificant. According to the Office of the Mayor, the online retail behemoth is expected to create 25,000 new jobs by 2029, going up to 40,000 in 2034. In 2019, Amazon will take half-a-million square feet of office space at One Court Square (the Citigroup Building) while their 4-million-square-foot headquarters on the LIC waterfront is under construction. Once work wraps up in 2029, Amazon is expecting to potentially add another 4 million square feet to their campus by 2034. The site of this future development? Anable Basin, an industrial enclave currently owned by the plastic company Plaxall. Plaxall had been gearing up to enact a WXY-master-planned redevelopment of their 15-acre site that would have created 5,000 new residential units, 1,250 of them affordable. Developer TF Cornerstone was also set to build their own 250 affordable apartments on an adjacent site owned by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), but that project has also been subsumed. An Amazon spokesperson has confirmed to Politico that the no housing will be built on their Queens campus. Long Island City is home to the Queensbridge Houses, the largest public housing development in the Western Hemisphere, but the official line from the de Blasio administration is that the Amazon campus will only be a net positive for the area. A spokesperson for the NYCEDC told Politico that HQ2 will buoy the neighborhood economically, and Mayor de Blasio seemed to agree. “One of the biggest companies on earth next to the biggest public housing development in the United States—the synergy is going to be extraordinary,” said de Blasio.
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Thanks for the Memories

Design editors reflect on architecture journalism in the 21st century
Julie V. Iovine Executive Editor 2006–2013 My years as editor of The Architect’s Newspaper, between 2006 and 2013, were exciting, of course, but eye-opening too, in ways I had not expected. There I was, sitting in the catbird seat with many of the world’s most talented and prominent architects working within a few blocks (at least, no farther away than 13.4 miles), ready and willing to answer emails, give tours of their offices, and reveal their latest projects and agendas—with more from abroad checking in as they passed through town. How could that not be fun? After a decade as a New York Times reporter, where every encounter with an architect was fraught and slightly adversarial—with both sides trying to extract something, whether quote, coverage, or exclusive image—at The Architect’s Newspaper, I was tracking shared interests. Instead of asking “What have you done for the public lately?” I wanted to know about the compelling and relevant issues important to architects right now. Anyone passionately interested in architecture was free to chime in, and often did, including artists, engineers, software developers, and many more. In the short years since its founding as a nimble observer and attentive commentator, The Architect’s Newspaper became thoroughly embedded in the community it covered. It was a time when architecture was taken seriously across the land, but especially in New York City under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. So much so that it took just a few phone calls in the fall of 2009 to convene four NYC commissioners—transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, design and construction commissioner David Burney, planning commissioner Amanda Burden, and parks and recreation commissioner Adrian Benepe—for a roundtable conversation on the record about what was succeeding, failing, and in the works for the city over the coming years. I cannot imagine the press today so easily being given that level and quality of access. Across New York City, cultural, architectural, and urban institutions were taking advantage of this moment of being heard by the city’s policy leaders and decision makers. There were forums, exhibitions, and commissioned works of the highest caliber that could realistically hope to have an impact on the urban environment. Of course, the entire population was also watching every progressive—and regressive—move around rebuilding at the World Trade Center site. AN was there too. In 2010, I recall tagging along with a crew from City Hall trailing behind Barry Bergdoll, then MoMA’s chief curator of architecture and design and engineer Guy Nordenson as they explained the innovations for dealing with climate change offered up by an extraordinary roster of architects, landscape designers, engineers, and more in the exhibition Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront. Many public servants at that time probably still believed the way to cope with flooding was with concrete barriers. Rising Currents changed that idea, for good. In 2013, the Architectural League took on the city’s intractable housing problem by sponsoring architects to develop solutions, including micro-units for single adults. By 2016, people were moving into the first micro-loft buildings. But for me, it was actually when the Great Recession hit that I witnessed what members of this profession are truly made of. As offices closed and shrank—including ours—and people of great talent found themselves unemployed and unmoored from even the possibility of designing much in the near future, I beheld an extraordinary resilience. Many times I would hear from principals of offices once 20-plus strong, forced down to one architect and a part-time draughtsperson, saying it was great to be a hands-on designer again. Others entirely reinvented themselves and developed new expertise in health care or the suddenly relevant field of security design. Turning a personal mission into a public mandate, Jonathan Kirschenfeld founded the Institute for Public Architecture in 2009, championing integrity and quality for building types—childcare facilities, low-income housing, prefab—too often churned out on the cheap. The speed and ingenuity with which architects showed they could halt, pivot, and charge in a new direction was astonishing. The old cliché that designing is problem-solving finally made real sense to me: Whatever the economy threw at them, architects could figure it out. Especially gratifying and illuminating for me were a series of interviews we conducted, called “Recession Tales.” We talked to architects from different generations, professional backgrounds, and experiences about how they had handled personal or professional setbacks in the past: Harry Cobb, James Polshek, Rob Rogers, and David Adjaye among them. Whether it was Cobb describing being blacklisted in the 1970s after curtain wall failures at the John Hancock Tower in Boston, or Adjaye admitting his severe financial woes, every architect we spoke to drew intimately vivid pictures of tough times endured with courage, revealing impressive strengths and an extraordinary ability to pull together. I suppose the profession has never been for the faint of heart. The expand-and-contract nature of the building trades is always rolling through cycles. Still, as editor of The Architect’s Newspaper during one of the toughest roller-coaster rides in recent memory, I was buckled into a front row seat, and the ride was unforgettable. Sam Lubell West Editor 2007–2015 I arrived at The Architect’s Newspaper at just the right time. It was fall 2006, and I was a West Coast newbie. Little did I know that the region was undergoing fundamental shifts that I would get to record, experience, and even influence, over the next nine years. In my head, L.A. was still a single-family, concrete, and car-dominated place. But it was quickly shifting to a much denser one full of new subway lines, high-speed rail, corridors of mixed-use development, new parks, and anti-sprawl legislation. Its architects were taking advantage of a magical mix of schools, creative energy, and technical capability to create some of the best work in the world. And the rest of the region—from San Diego up to Seattle—was steadily churning out similar innovation, and, thanks largely to booming tech giants, growing like never before, welcoming some of the world’s most famous architects while developing an impressive new garde (despite a major lull during the Great Recession). Of course, they were facing darker issues as well, like booms and busts, gentrification, affordability crises, gridlock, and mushrooming homeless populations. Through it all, I drove my beat-up Hyundai to offices, meetings, classrooms, and building sites, making friends, and getting the scoop. My role as AN’s West Coast editor helped me become—despite my outsider-ness—embraced by a coast, and a design community that I learned favors innovation, creativity, and sheer will over status and hierarchy. It started with our first launch events, which drew hundreds of designers eager for a publication to help pull them all together. And AN encouraged me to pursue new features and investigations, promote competitions, find my voice through editorials, and build community one event at a time. The Architect’s Newspaper, for me, represented much more than a publication. It represented a home. That’s what it’s done for writers, and of course, architects, around the country. I no longer have that Hyundai, but the many design circles AN has helped nurture and connect are still as strong as ever. Aaron Seward Executive Editor 2014–2015 I started working at The Architect’s Newspaper in September 2005 when it was still being run out of the Menking loft on Lispenard Street in New York’s Chinatown. My title was Projects Editor and my primary task was producing a custom publication for the Steel Institute of New York called Metals in Construction. It was one of the many sidelines that the publisher, Diana Darling, would initiate over the years to keep the paper in the black. Her frenetic energy and torrent of business ideas put a fine point on just how audacious an endeavor it was to launch a newspaper in an era in which every pundit with half a platform was declaiming the death of print, not to mention the death of the authoritative publication itself, which was prophesied to wither away under the “democratizing” glare of the internet. Well, here we are. AN is 15 years old and flourishing, doing a better job than ever of presenting just how exciting and essential architecture is to society. Meanwhile, the internet gave us Twitter, Facebook, and Donald Trump. Thank you very much. My tenure at AN lasted a decade before I left to edit Texas Architect. There were many highs and lows during that time, but nothing sticks in my mind quite so much as those early days in the loft, which was an education in itself, full of books and art, emanating an edgy, downtown vibe. It was a family business, and we were all part of the family. The editors worked in an office at the front of the loft, Diana had her space at the back, and the rest of us—the production team, the grunts—were piled cheek by jowl into a separate apartment at the rear corner—the loft’s Siberia, if you will. Bill and Diana’s daughter, Halle, eight at the time, was around. She would swipe our scissors right off our desks. And there was a puppy, Coco, who would lope into Siberia, dashing in and out. The work was intense and focused, but there was no shortage of fun. A certain sense of wry humor, which found its way into the editorial (an enduring legacy of the paper), bound us together, as did the awareness that we were part of the larger cultural phenomenon called architecture, whether it wanted us or not. At this point, it seems to have wanted us. Long Live AN! Matt Shaw Current Executive Editor It is always fun to go back to the very first issues of AN for inspiration. I noticed a small box on the back page of those issues marked “Punchlist,” a section that named websites for reference. Many were unfamiliar, as we might expect, but what struck me was the prescience of anticipating the digital-analog media conundrum in 2003. Since the beginning, AN has been attempting to build bridges between print and the internet. How do they relate? Is the paper a legacy print publication that has a website? Or is it two entirely different beasts? The speed of the web (and thus the news cycle in general) is always increasing, while print stays relatively the same. This means that at AN we are constantly trying to rethink the relationship between print and digital. In January 2018, we debuted a new section in the paper called “In Case You Missed It,” a roundup of all the things that happened online while we were making the issue. It not only serves as a curated briefing for those who don’t troll Twitter all day, but it also sequesters the news into a neat area, leaving the rest of the paper to entertain longer, more insightful articles: in-depth follow-ups, expert takes, off-the-wall stories, and historical ruminations that don’t need to fit into the ebbs and flows of the 24-hour news cycle. The strategy seems to be working: We have published some high-impact articles that have shifted the discussion on a number of topics, as well as news stories that have gotten hundreds of thousands of views and exposed us to new reaches of the internet. In an era of Instagram and memes, it is imperative that we keep rethinking what the media is today and how architectural news and discourse are affected by current shifts in technology, information dissemination, and the degradation of our attention spans. On the website, this battle will take place as we begin to put print content online in a way that starts to mimic the curated and cohesive feel of a print publication. For instance, we might put entire features online all at once with a single web page serving as a datum through which other articles can be accessed. In print, we will try to relate back to the speed and timeliness of the web by providing links for reference. We look forward to embracing these challenges and are excited for where they will take us.
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Oh Honey Honey

Brooklyn's Domino Park blends industrial chic with careful pacing
For the first time in 160 years, a 6-acre span on the East River waterfront in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge is open to the public. Located in front of the former Domino Sugar Refinery in Brooklyn, James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) designed Domino Park to inspire curiosity about the site’s history while including new materials to balance its unique identity with performance. A unifying element in Domino Park is its artifact walk that weaves throughout the site. According to Lisa Switkin, senior principal at JCFO, “Integrating the artifact walk with custom furniture made from reclaimed wood from the Raw Sugar Warehouse creates a unique experience where people come into contact with remnants of the original refinery and have an up-close relationship with those artifacts.” Throughout the park, JFCO-designed benches, tables, and chaise lounges create texture and a sense of community. The elevated walkway is supported by beams from the refinery, while other factory elements such as columns, lattice beams, and a loading dock are incorporated throughout. Stadium-style seating made out of the refinery’s salvaged wood creates a central gathering space in front of a water feature by Soucy Aquatik. The refinery’s influence is also evident in the playground, designed by Mark Reigelman, with its many nods to factory structures. It also incorporates part of the factory’s old floors. The park is organized into three areas. Each is connected by Hanover pavers selected in a mix of finishes for durability and color, “keeping with the tough, industrial look as well as maintenance and loading requirements,” said Switkin. The most active area, in the southern end, holds a dog park, a picnic playground, a bocce ball court, and a tennis court. The middle area is dotted with lawn chairs and features a fog bridge. The recreational stretch in the north houses the lawn, a beach, the playground, and the elevated walkway. Tectura pavers were chosen for the walkway because of the manufacturer’s ability to produce the long-format precast concrete planks needed to fit the dimensions of the walkway and meet the load criteria. Introducing new lighting by BEGA, Sentry Electric, and LED Linear, along with Landscape Forms’ Ring Bike Racks and Chase Park Receptacles, JCFO was able to work with materials that are highly durable and sustainable. Switkin explained, “These products created a dynamic urbanscape to activate the neighborhood.” Master Planner: SHoP Architects and James Corner Field Operations Landscape Architect: James Corner Field Operations General Contractor: Kelco Pavers: Hanover Architectural Products, Tectura Designs Lighting: BEGA, Sentry Electric, LED Linear Furniture: Custom benches, tables, and seating steps made with reclaimed wood from Raw Sugar Warehouse, Landscape Forms' Ring Bike Rack and Chase Park Receptacle, Elkay Drinking Fountains Fog Bridge: Soucy Aquatik Playground Designer: Mark Reigelman Custom Playground Equipment: Landscape Structures
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Knit Nature

Anticipated Incarnations of Jenny Sabin Studio’s LUSTER
Nature as a model for architectural forms has been mimicked as imagery since the first archetypal building, and now, natural biological systems are reaching a heightened interest in emerging fields of architecture, science, and material structures as biomimicry. In Metamorphosis of Plants, Goethe’s scientific understanding of “dynamic archetypes” focused on transformation and evolution rather than fixed forms and species – notions undeniably reimagined in the adaptive system of variant cellular structures and surfaces of Jenny Sabin Studio’s LUSTER. Rather than imitating nature, scaling up data or images found in nature, a canopy structure is created through an understanding of morphology relationships between generative and computational design. Building on her previous collaborations with biologists, Sabin’s representation of nature, as in in Sir D’Arcy’s “On Growth and Form,” is recast using 3d seamless knitting developed with Wholegarment technology. As an engaged visitor immersed from dusk to nightfall in Sabin’s knit structures at House of Peroni New York debut exhibition of LUSTER curated by Art Production Fund, variable instances of growth are staged, playing out in a luminous performance of surfaces, rising and falling, as if inverted stalagmites captured in-formation. Like Goethe’s “sensuous dynamic archetype,” Sabin’s co-evolutional structure and materiality is animated by an opening and closing cellular system, distressed and stretched into unique yet familiar shapes. The systematized fabric sprouts a second life with striation patterns coming alive in alternating light and color transformations, where, one by one, photoluminescent knit fiber links are activated to release light. Sabin’s sensory and material choreographies create haptic desire. They set up responsive behaviors between the naturally swaying textured archetype and the human body, finding semblance in Tropos, Ann Hamilton’s topography of irregular patterned variegated horse-hair fibers’, or more closely in habitus’s gigantic hung textiles twirling in perpetual motion to the sound of their own mechanism. Moving beyond the organic, Sabin’s ethereal fabric surfaces dislodge the static experience to engage the body as perceptual devices - a testimony to human curiosity, sensory indulgence, and bodily silhouettes. Similar to spherulite formation in crystalline cell structures that start as circular forms and collide and transmute into morphing geometries due to different growth rates, Sabin’s geometric assembly of parts to whole appear as mutations of the circle. Each part, either growing slowly in the canopy above, or rapidly descending as a figure hovering above the ground. Moving away from masculine, formulaic, cartesian space that relies on mathematical principles, Sabin refers to more feminine, systemic, network assemblies that don’t follow a rigid order. The porous, soft, intimate nature of the knit engages the visitor’s desire to touch and peer into. Non-programmed openings generate organic distribution of holes, giving the cone’s structures a degree of autonomy. Sabin’s approach blurs the boundary between the objectivity of science and subjectivity of our perception. Originally an error in the calculation of density of holes, a tightly stitched ring around each individual hole produced “knots,” offering added rigidity to the overall forms and becoming a design parameter to eliminate unwanted sagging. Soon to be transported to 3 distinct environments and contexts, perhaps LUSTER’s most transformative power aims beyond its luminous essence through its formally responsive capacity for site-specific conditions. Adjustable distribution tension in the nylon webbing that supports the stretchy knit surfaces, along with zipper seam joints in areas that anticipate alternate configurations, the adaptive nature is masterfully built into her piece - transforming as a whole through its parts. House of Peroni’s 1-day lifespan installations and local artist interventions curated by Art Production Fund, incite visitors to witness how this ephemeral canopy might yield reincarnations of itself as a responsive archetype. From New York’s West Village industrial building at the edge of the Hudson river, to a converted indoor/outdoor warehouse in Los Angeles, an exterior waterfront space in Miami, and historic property in Washington, perhaps this project’s greatest luster is achieved by remaining in flux, shifting our perception of light and space as if the knitting machine was compelled to stop at its own intrinsic interval of time, capturing the beauty of the unfinished work of nature. Exhibition dates and collaborating artists: Nov. 8th.: Jeanette Getrost, Los Angeles; Nov. 14th:  Michelle Weinberg, Miami; and Nov. 28th Lu Zhang, Washington.
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Deep Freeze

Chipperfield's Nobel Center and 2026 Olympic bid cancelled by Stockholm
The shutdown of the Foster + Partners–designed “town square”–style Apple store in Stockholm by the new City Council was only the beginning. Now, the city won’t appeal a decision on May 22 by Sweden’s Land and Environment Court to halt construction of the $132 million Nobel Center, effectively dooming the David Chipperfield Architects–designed complex. Stockholm’s bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics has also been halted, leaving only Calgary and a joint bid between Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo remaining on the shortlist. The shift is the direct result of the new center-right coalition established in the City Council between the right-leaning Alliance group and the Green Party following an election on September 9 that left the council without a majority group in power. The new power-sharing agreement was only realized in mid-October owing to the more than eight active major parties in Sweden's national politics. The coalition was predicated on two major deals: blocking the Winter Olympics bid and stopping the Nobel Center. This isn’t the first time that Chipperfield’s Nobel Center has faced pushback from the city government, and a revised, more contextual design was presented back in 2016. Opponents have argued that the Center, formed from two stacked boxes wrapped in vertical bronze louvers, would destroy the cultural and historic fabric of Stockholm’s Blasieholmen peninsula. The Blasieholmen extends into the Klara Sjö canal, and the Center would have oriented its double-height presentation out toward the waterfront to provide a permanent home for all future Nobel Prize award ceremonies. Despite the smaller footprint and a tighter circulation plan, the court ruling in May dinged the proposal for the building’s size, out-of-context color, and sensitive location. Now that the City Council has pledged to let the ruling stand, the Nobel Foundation is crying foul. “For the past seven years, we have acted in accordance with our agreements,” Foundation executive director Lars Heikensten told the Architects’ Journal. “We interpret today’s announcement as meaning that the Alliance, in co-operation with the Green Party, is trying to diverge from signed agreements. “A project of major, long-term significance for Stockholm as a city of science and a center for lively discussion in the spirit of Alfred Nobel is thus at risk of being sacrificed to short-term political interests.” David Chipperfield Architects released their own statement, saying that, “The project for the Nobel Centre has been developed over the last five years through a process of continuous dialogue between the client team, planners and the city authority. We are, therefore, extremely disappointed by this announcement.” If Stockholm’s city government ultimately decides not to challenge the lower court’s ruling, the Nobel Foundation will need to go back to the drawing board and choose an alternate location for the Center.
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Two Bridges to Nowhere

The Dubaification of New York
The residents of the Two Bridges neighborhood in the Lower East Side find themselves in a predicament. Throughout the city, developers have targeted expired urban renewal areas originally governed by land-use controls that have ensured housing affordability for decades. The Two Bridges Large Scale Residential Development is one such target. Exploiting the site’s underlying high-bulk zoning allowances, a group of developers is proposing to build four new predominantly market-rate skyscrapers, ranging in height from 62 to 80 stories—four gleaming luxury megatowers that portend a storm of gentrification and displacement. The proposal needs approval by the city administration. Many argue that the development requires a “Special Permit,” which would call for a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). In 2016, Carl Weisbrod, then Chair of the City Planning Commission, declared the project a “Minor Modification” requiring no ULURP. After public outcry, the Department of City Planning requested the developers to undertake an unprecedented joint Environmental Review. On October 17, 2018, the City Planning Commission held a public hearing regarding the proposal’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The room was packed. About 100 people testified. The vast majority (myself included) raised serious objections to the project and the approval process. Only five were in favor: two members of a union advocating for 50 permanent building service jobs promised for the site; an advocate for the disabled, who supports all projects that add elevators to subway stops; the current Two Bridges commercial tenant, who is promised a long-term lease in the new complex; and the executive director of Settlement Housing Fund, who is selling air rights to the 80-story tower. At the public hearing, questions about the appropriateness of the project’s scale were addressed by Gregg Pasquarelli of SHoP, the firm responsible for the 80-story tower, who showed examples of recent large-scale waterfront projects and said that the city has consistently approved this kind of development. In his presentation, Pasquarelli glossed over substantive issues of urban context. The audience was baffled if not offended. When Pasquarelli claimed that the project “will create a vibrant, beautiful, equitable, and appropriate skyline for the city and its residents,” the room actually burst into laughter. Commissioner Anna Hayes Levin pointed out that the projects of “tremendous scale” that Pasquarelli used to make his case were in manufacturing areas transitioning to a new use, while this expired urban renewal area was planned for, and still is, a low- and moderate-income residential development. Pasquarelli, showing what was at best was ignorance and at worst callousness, did not really respond and brought up the example of the American Copper Buildings, a SHoP-designed 800-unit residential development in an already affluent neighborhood, with nowhere close to the same risks of gentrification and displacement impending at Two Bridges. Laughter also greeted Pasquarelli’s closing sentence: “the city is in a housing crisis, and this provides a huge amount of affordable housing for the neighborhood.” Indeed, a quarter of the new apartments (694 out of 2,775 units) will have a degree of affordability. But for whom? Surely not the current residents of Two Bridges, whose households’ median income ($30K) is below the threshold for renting in the new ‘affordable’ units ($37K). City-wide trends and the advent of Essex Crossing have already resulted in the loss of rent-regulated units as well as higher eviction rates in the area. The influx of 2,081 market-rate apartments cannot but exacerbate the situation and lead to residential and business displacement. Whose neighborhood will this be once bodegas are replaced by cafés selling five-dollar lattes? The Environmental Review was meant to identify any adverse impact from the proposed development in 19 areas of analysis as defined by the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) Technical Manual guidelines. The review found negative impact in five areas—Transportation, Shadows, Open Space, Construction, and Community Facilities & Services—for which the developers are proposing some mitigation. No adverse impact was found in 14 areas, among them Socioeconomic Conditions and Neighborhood Character. How is this possible? The CEQR guidelines are notoriously flawed. For instance, per the guidelines, no resident of a building with even one rent-regulated unit is vulnerable to indirect displacement. Even more troubling: the guidelines call for a “No Action” scenario to be used as a comparison when evaluating indirect displacement. The DEIS defines “No Action” as a condition “in which projects are expected to continue the trend towards market-rate development and rising residential rents in the study area. In accordance with the CEQR Technical Manual guidelines, since the vast majority of the study area has already experienced a readily observable trend toward increasing rents and new market rate development, further analysis is not necessary.” The “No Action” scenario is one of several critical factors that make possible and seemingly inevitable what we might call the ‘dubaification’ of New York City. It is not a loophole: the developers and their compliant architects are going by the book, following the law to the letter. The problem is written in the law itself: once you accept the premise that the market is already conquering the city—that increasing rents and luxury developments are already the norm—no new project, no matter how big or in which urban context, can ever be held responsible for negatively affecting the socio-economic fabric of any area. The question, in assessing this proposal as well as the spate of massive developments popping up all over the city, is not solely about scale. To be sure, height is a major concern. (I find it ironic that the tallest of the existing six housing complexes at Two Bridges is a 21-story building that everyone calls “The Tower.”) But what these megatowers portend is something more ominous: an ever more homogeneous and generic skyline; the disappearance of neighborhoods and their communities; apartments becoming phantom residencies for absentee investors; dwelling valued only as an investment, a commodity; a city of resplendent buildings towering over dead streets. There is still time to do the right thing for Two Bridges. The City Planning Commission will be voting as early as November 14 on the “Minor Modification.” They must deny it. A ULURP must be granted, to allow the public and elected officials to negotiate for more significant community benefits, including greater and deeper affordability as well as height caps to truly tackle the adverse impact of the megatowers. More important, the Two Bridges debate is an opportunity to start imagining alternative visions for our city. The City administration must close zoning loopholes and fix the CEQR guidelines. Let’s build a city in which housing is not treated as a commodity but as a fundamental right.
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Look on the Sunnyside

Amazon to split HQ2 between New York and Virginia, but can they handle it?
Only hours after the news leaked that Amazon was considering Crystal City, a suburb in Arlington, Virginia, that bounds D.C. for the site of its second headquarters, sources are reporting that two cities will actually be taking home a shiny new HQ2. Long Island City in Queens and Crystal City in Northern Virginia will both be getting a mini-HQ2 of sorts and the accompanying 25,000 employees, raising concerns that both neighborhoods will soon face an influx of wealthier residents that will further strain already stressed housing and transportation systems. Although the Chicago Tribune noted that Amazon’s decision to split up its headquarters may have been to head off criticism that it would overburden any city that HQ2 landed in (echoing complaints of Seattle residents), it may not be enough. Over the last year, 1,436 new residential units were built in Long Island City during a time when New York is already struggling—and using increasingly novel means—to hit affordable housing goals. The decision appears to have been weeks, if not months, in the making. Both Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have met with representatives of Amazon in the past few weeks, with the mayor’s office leading tours of the Queens neighborhood. Just last week, the city announced that it would be infusing the waterfront neighborhood with $180 million in investments toward improving schools, infrastructure, transportation, and open space; it now appears that the announcement’s timing was more than coincidental. The city may also be banking on the future development of Sunnyside Yard, the 180-acre active rail yard situated between Long Island City and Sunnyside, to soak up some of the expected influx of new residents. Although Long Island City, directly across the East River from Midtown Manhattan, is served by eight subway lines, the Long Island Railroad, and easy connections to both John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, New York’s subway and bus systems are already in the middle of a crisis. Sky-high ridership in recent years, overcrowding, cascading mechanical failures, and struggles to find the funding necessary to fix the subways’ most pressing issues have all contributed to a decrease in the quality of New York’s transportation network. Governor Cuomo, for his part, has been quiet on whether the incentives offered to Amazon include money to improve, or at least fortify, the subway system, though to this point, the administration has already pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in tax incentives. Yesterday, the governor joked that he’d go as far as to “change my name to Amazon Cuomo if that's what it takes." We’ll see if he follows through.
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Sky High

Florida's tallest tower will be a vertical theme park for gravity-defying fun
Florida’s soon-to-be tallest building, SkyRise Miami, is on track to becoming the country’s sole vertical theme park, complete with a dramatic sloping outer wall that will offer thrill-seekers the option to try gravity-defying stunts. After years of setbacks and legal controversy, the 1,000-foot-tall building—like something straight out of a Mission Impossible movie—will tower over the edge of Biscayne Bay by 2023. According to Building Design + Construction, the project was designed by Arquitectonica and will begin construction early next year on a small piece of land just outside of downtown Miami. Local firms Berkowitz Development Group and Plaza Construction will lead the build-out alongside a hefty team of partners including structural engineers Magnusson Klemencic Associates, exhibition designers gsmprjct°, and engineering consultants Cosentini Associates and DVS. Composed of 30,000 tons of structural steel, SkyRise will house several observation decks that will boast unfiltered views of Miami, and will serve as an entertainment and retail complex with restaurants, nightclubs, a ballroom, and boardrooms for rent. Among its many offerings will be the Flying Theater, inspired by the Soarin’ ride at Epcot in Disney World, the SkyPlunge for base-jumpers, and the Skydrop, which drops riders elevator-style 540 feet at speeds of up to 95 miles per hour. SkyRise will also feature a zero-gravity tunnel, a transparent slide that loops outside the building, as well as a clear skydeck that cantilevers off the structure. The facility will be operated by Legends, a sports and entertainment management company owned by the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees. Among the city’s handful of mega-projects in Coconut Grove and downtown Miami, SkyRise is one of the most ambitious and most politically-troubled structures in development. Per The Real Deal, the building was approved by the city commission and local voters in the August 2014 primary election, despite opposition regarding the project’s competitive bid process. The Florida Supreme Court swooped in the following year to stop the complaint and effectively allow the project to move forward. Not only is the tower’s planned construction a breakthrough for the developers and the project’s many supporters, the design itself is unprecedented. The teams at Berkowitz and Arquitectonica told BD+C that they plan to build it with concrete in addition to the structural steel—a combination that hasn’t been done before in South Florida. Given its small footprint with the bay, the building will also have to withstand up to 186 mile-per-hour winds during hurricane season. The engineering for the tower alone, much like the attractions inside, must be groundbreaking for it to stay afloat. Many of the upcoming residential and commercial enclaves in Miami, especially those sitting directly on its waterfront, pose the same challenges for their developers and architects. Merging (literal) high design with resiliency efforts is a hot-button issue for coastal communities across the U.S. and Southern Florida. With name-brand firms like Bjarke Ingels Group, OMA, and Zaha Hadid Architects taking on larger developments in Miami, other-worldly designs are poised to not only propel Miami as an architectural attraction but also to support the city’s efforts to disaster-proof all of its latest urban advances from future storms.
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Round and Round...

Allied Works and OLIN team up to complete a spiraling veterans museum
The concrete-wrapped National Veterans Memorial and Museum (NVMM) in Columbus, Ohio, is now complete and open to the public. Rather than a traditional museum focused solely on exhibitions, the NVMM was envisioned as a memorial to departed veterans, a place of education, and as a gathering place for civic and commemorative events. The NVMM, sited right on the banks of the Scioto River, integrates a contemplative OLIN-designed landscape with the Allied Works Architecture–designed two-story, 53,000-square-foot museum building. The round museum building features a distinctive cross-braced concrete facade over the main entrance—a motif repeated across the interior walls—which symbolically elevates a rooftop sanctuary plaza. The skyline of downtown Columbus looms over the sanctuary, but the plaza is meant to be for reflection, events, and ceremonies exclusively. The sanctuary, which resembles a sunken amphitheater ringed by greenspace, can be accessed from inside the museum, or by traveling up a sloping concrete ramp that wraps around the building. Inside, the museum’s exhibition spaces have been ringed around the perimeter of the building, affording plenty of natural light and views of the surrounding waterfront. Past the ground floor lobby, a great hall offers views of the city as well as a place for gatherings and other events. The NVMM’s programming, laid out by the creative agency Ralph Appelbaum Associates with the Veterans Advisory Committee, uses the museum’s circular structure to guide visitors through a storyline designed to connect them with veterans’ experiences. Films, sculptures, photos, and quotes from veterans are included throughout each phase of the story: leaving home, being in service, returning, and becoming a veteran. On the second floor, guests will find a remembrance gallery dedicated to veterans who have lost their lives and an entrance to the sanctuary plaza, connecting the building’s external structure to the internal features. Outside, OLIN has designed a walkable landscape around the museum, including a circular path leading to a similarly-round memorial grove at its core. The grove has been bounded by a stacked-stone wall and several waterfall fountains that feed an illuminated reflecting pool below. The design, development, and construction of the museum, as well as the push to have it designated as a national site, was led by the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation. The NVMM is the country’s first national veterans museum, and as the project grew in scope, it eventually grew to include narratives and artifacts from veterans across every branch of the military and every state.
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Space Oddity

Spatial Affairs Bureau runs wild over disciplinary boundaries
Spatial Affairs Bureau can get a lot done. Started in 2010, the multifaceted landscape, architecture, and design practice led by Peter Culley boasts a wide array of diverse and engaging projects in the United States and England, with offices in London, Los Angeles, and Richmond, Virginia. With a background in landscape-focused cultural projects—Culley earned his stripes at London-based landscape architecture practice Gustafson Porter + Bowman in the late 1990s—Spatial Affairs pursues an intellectually nimble practice by pushing project constraints toward broad ends that encompass everything from “interior landscapes” to urban-scaled configurations. As the number of commissions in hand has multiplied over the years, the practice has become well-versed in combining the advice of expert consultants with its own penchant for programmatic and spatial innovation. It does so in an effort to create layered material and historic conditions that always push back toward the landscape in some form or another. The approach has resulted in a string of under-the-radar but dramatically good-looking commissions that aim to create something greater—and more cohesive—than the typical, rigidly defined arenas of normative practice might allow. Aside from the work profiled here, Spatial Affairs Bureau has a number of other significant projects on the way, including several sustainable houses in Los Angeles, a master plan and remodel of the headquarters for advertising agency TBWA\Chiat\Day, and a new pedestrian path and bicycle redevelopment scheme for the Richmond, Virginia, waterfront. Birmingham Markets Park As the city of Birmingham, England, looks to capitalize on a historic opportunity to create a new major civic space and park, Spatial Affairs is working to enrich a community-led proposal by laying out new residential, commercial, and public spaces in synergy with greenery and public health goals. To highlight the potential of the site, Spatial Affairs has developed an alternative approach that appropriates the leftover footprint of a redundant public market as the heart of the new parks complex. The project aims not only to meet the city's stated commercial and residential development goals, but also to use urban design in an effort to focus the benefits of rising land values surrounding the site toward community needs. Metropolitan Museum of Art Spatial Affairs Bureau has worked on several projects with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, both as a part of an interdisciplinary team that provided new outdoor seating areas for the museum’s Fifth Avenue location, and for several other projects as an independent contractor, including at the Met Breuer building. As part of its work with the Met, for example, the firm developed a pair of black metal panel–wrapped security buildings to flank the museum. Here, Culley deploys gently tapering forms designed to “respond to the classical architecture and soften the impact of larger elements as they meet the ground.” The approach was mirrored in a series of sleek bronze ticketing kiosks Culley created to help relieve crowding at both museum locations. Crosstown Arts The Contemporary Art Center in Memphis, Tennessee, is an arts and culture complex strategically carved out from within the hulking mass of a landmarked—but currently underutilized—1.5 million-square-foot former Sears warehouse and distribution center. The venue includes galleries, shared art making facilities, offices, artist-in-residence studios, and a bar. These amenities encompass portions of the first two floors of the warehouse, including a 10-story light well located at the center of the complex. With a distinctive, curving red staircase and excavated flared concrete columns populating the main “hypostyle” lobby, the complex represents an attempt to breathe new social life into a long-forgotten relic. Bouverie Mews Culley is also pushing the envelope in terms of housing, especially with the firm’s proposal for a planned 5,400-square-foot arts and residential compound in North London. There, the architect is working on a ground-up duplex anchored by studio space and a sculpture court. The Passive House complex is located atop a former brownfield site and is sandwiched between existing multifamily homes, warehouses, and the Grade II Listed Abney Park Cemetery Wall. Due to the landlocked project site, designs for the complex include multi-tiered gardens, precisely calibrated frameless skylights, and an interior layout that emphasizes borrowed daylight and views between different project areas.