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I See You, UIC

Finalists revealed for new arts center at University of Illinois at Chicago
Early this year, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) announced a three-firm shortlist to design a new “Center for the Arts” for the College of Architecture, Design and the Arts (CADA). Chosen from an international pool of 36 teams that responded to a request for qualifications, the shortlist includes OMA (New York) with KOO Architects (Chicago), Johnston Marklee (Los Angeles) with UrbanWorks Architects (Chicago), and Morphosis Architects (Culver City) with STL Architects (Chicago). UIC is both the largest university and the only public research university in the Chicago area with a student body among the five most diverse in the country, 40 percent of whom are first-generation college students. Initiated in 2017, the new Center for the Arts is part of UIC’s 10-year master plan, which calls for major physical development of the campus. The Center for the Arts will be the new public face of UIC’s East Campus. The project aims to provide “radically accessible spaces for all users.” At approximately 88,000 square feet it will be the new home of the School of Theatre and Music (STM) with two primary performance spaces, including a vineyard style concert hall for 500 people and a flexible main stage theater for 270 people. Additional program includes a large lobby, box office, donor lounge, shop, and café. Morphosis and STL Architects have proposed a project shaped by site conditions. Cues from the site inform the form of the building’s facets made of terra-cotta, concrete, and glass, a signal to the existing materiality of UIC’s campus. The building has a clear front and back as service entries sit tightly along the highway at the north edge of the site, leaving the south and corner edges to reveal the belly of the building and main points of public entry. A generous drop-off zone leads into the interior lobby featuring Netsch-like cascading stairs with views toward the nearby West Loop neighborhood and downtown. In the theater, a continuous surface ramp runs the perimeter of the room to provide radical accessibility to students learning stage technology. OMA and KOO Architects have proposed a stackable program with a central concert hall flanked by two towers (one for students, one for the public) with neighboring performance spaces. The towers imitate the many Chicago bridges that link the city while the performance spaces act like bookends to anchor the project. A second-floor plinth accommodates dual entries, each with a continuous surface monumental ramp considered “radically accessible” with physical openness and flexibility. The theater has a rooftop terrace and a large mechanical facade that opens onto the existing Harrison Field, bringing performances outside with the city as a backdrop. The entire design is blanketed by a doubly-curved, semi-translucent roof that resembles the swinging of a conductor’s baton. Johnston Marklee and UrbanWorks have proposed two ziggurat-shaped buildings, which Mark Lee of Johnston Marklee described as both archaic and modern. Framed by a greenbelt that reflects attention back towards the campus, two brightly-colored volumes are housed within a glass and perforated metal veil. The formal strategy is a nod to Chicago architect Walter Netsch’s ideas of “stacking” while the material aims to visually open the campus, ostensibly creating a new approach to density. Connecting the two large volumes is a central core featuring an airy winter garden that expands programmatic possibilities for adjacent rehearsal rooms, café, store, and gallery. The University and CADA officials are currently in the process of securing the expected $94.5 million construction budget through private and public funds. It is unknown when the winner will be announced. The public may view and provide feedback on the proposals.
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A New Millennium

A leaning Manhattan tower draws blame from both sides
The 670-foot-tall 161 Maiden Lane, a luxury condo tower on the shore of the East River near the South Street Seaport, is leaning. The question of whether contractor Pizzarotti or developer Fortis Property Group is to blame for the 58-story building’s 3-inch lean to the north, however, will be settled by a lawsuit filed with New York State Supreme Court. As first reported by Commercial Observer, Pizzarotti is suing Fortis over their alleged cost-cutting decision to drain and compact the wet soil below the site instead of driving piles before laying the foundation. As a result, the suit alleges that this “soil improvement” decision, made before Fortis was hired for the project in 2015, made completing the project difficult-to-impossible and cost Pizzarotti millions. Apart from the structural issues, Pizzarotti alleges that the two-inch drift in the superstructure from the 11th floor to the 21st prevented the installation of the curtain wall and that Fortis never provided an adequate replacement. Although the tower has topped out and work is still ongoing, Pizzarotti claims that the site is unsafe and that 161 Maiden Lane will continue to settle and shift. If that happens, the facade panels, plumbing, insulation, and elevators may all be risk of failing. Pizzarotti says that they were thus unable to finish working, and submitted their resignation from the project on March 1. Fortis shot back, claiming the leaning problem was the result of Pizzarotti’s concrete subcontractor improperly pouring the slab and failing to take the settling of the soil into account. A Fortis spokesperson also claims that Pizzarotti never terminated their contract and continued working up through this month, casting doubt on their claims that the site was unsafe. The developer went on to say that their new general contractor, Ray Builders, was already at work installing a redesigned version of the curtain wall. Fortis also claims that it has already paid out $25 million to Pizzarotti for cost overruns and that the contractor had caused 260 days of stop-work order-related delays. “This lawsuit is patently false from start to finish and nothing more than simple defamation and a desperate attempt by a failing general contractor to divert attention from the fact it defaulted on yet another New York City project,” said a Fortis spokesman in a statement. “As a number of prominent New York City developers have learned the hard way over the past few years, Pizzarotti is simply incapable of buying out, managing and completing a construction project within contractually promised timelines.” AN will continue to follow this story as it develops.
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Seas are a-risin’

Brooks+Scarpa explore “Salty Urbanism” in latest exhibition at USC
New research by Los Angeles-based architects Brooks+Scarpa is currently on view at the Verle Annis Gallery at the University of Southern California School of Architecture in L.A. The exhibition, Salty Urbanism, presents a case study approach for how two communities—the North Beach Village neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Venice in Los Angeles—can plan and respond to the increasingly present dangers of sea level rise and global climate change. According to the architects, nearly 50% of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a coastline, a fact that is increasingly relevant as hurricanes, tidal floods, drought, and other climate change-related events associated with changing sea levels begin to increase in frequency. For this reason, Brooks+Scarpa argue, the time is right for designers to begin to put into practice “best management approaches” that had previously been considered largely on a theoretical basis. The exhibition collects speculative proposals as well as pedagogical perspectives for how architects might work through interdisciplinary means as part of a wider effort to stem the negative impacts of sea level rise on the built environment. They address the expected loss of water storage capacity for urban soils, as well as propose interventions to ease the future burden of legacy stormwater infrastructure systems. The exhibition highlights low-impact development, green infrastructure, and other alternative concepts as possible approaches for mitigating the damaging effects of climate instability in urban areas through a series of speculative proposals that include renderings, diagrams, and other visuals.

The exhibition is on view through Friday, April 19, 2019, and will be accompanied by a lecture given by Angela Brooks and Larry Scarpa at USC on Wednesday, April 10th, 2019 6 pm. For more information, see the USC website.

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New Fuksas

Studio Fuksas reworks Los Angeles’s Beverly Center

The 886,000-square-foot Beverly Center first opened in 1982, in true Los Angeles fashion, on the site of a former children’s amusement park and next door to an active oil drilling site. Critic Aaron Betsky, appraising the structure ten years later in the Los Angeles Times, consecrated the blob-shaped mega-mall as “the Acropolis of shopping, dedicated to our national religion, consumption.” A new luxury-oriented $500 million overhaul by Studio Fuksas has only made that description more apt.

The eight-story edifice has undergone a midlife facelift that includes the addition of an undulating aluminum mesh facade over the building’s five above-grade parking levels. The expanded metal veil billows around the hulking mass, disappearing to mark three monumental entrances and a pair of glass-wrapped escalator bays.

The mall itself is laid out along the building’s top three floors, where a new 25,000-square-foot skylight and other reconfigured vertical openings bring crisp, white sunlight into its gleaming halls.

8500 Beverly Boulevard Los Angeles 310-854-0070 Designer: Studio Fuksas
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A Triumph of Foil

Christo to wrap the Arc de Triomphe in plastic next spring
Bulgarian-born artist Christo is making a triumphant return to the large-scale building wrapping projects that he’s famous for, with plans to fully envelop Paris’s Arc de Triomphe. From April 6 through April 19, 2020, Parisian bystanders, tourists, and art patrons will be able to view l’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped (Project for Paris, Place de l’Étoile-Charles de Gaulle). Using nearly 270,000 square feet of recyclable silver-blue polypropylene fabric bound by 23,000 feet of red rope, one of the city’s most famous, and visible, public icons will be reduced to pure form. The project is moving ahead after winning approval from France’s government and the Center for National Monuments yesterday. Wrapping the archway has been a dream of Christo’s since 1962, when he sketched the monument while living with his artistic partner and late wife Jeanne-Claude in Paris, later returning to create additional studies in the ’70s and ’80s. That the piece is being realized now, Christo’s first wrapping project since the death of Jeanne-Claude in 2009, is no coincidence. l’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped will run concurrently with Christo and Jeanne-Claude in Paris at the Pompidou Centre, which will document the couple’s formative period in Paris, where they lived from 1958 through 1964. The show will put previously unseen works on display, including sketches and paintings, as well as trace the lineage of the pair’s most well-known works, such as the wrapping of the Pont-Neuf in 1985. “Thirty-five years after Jeanne-Claude and I wrapped the Pont-Neuf, I am eager to work in Paris again to realize our project for the Arc de Triomphe,” said Christo in a statement. While the arc above is wrapped, the eternal flame at its center, installed in 1923 above the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, will continue to be fully maintained.
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Move It Move It

The Shed opens this Friday—take a sneak peek now
After 11 years and two mayoral administrations, The Shed (now just the name of the administering arts center, with the physical structure housing the organization having been renamed The Bloomberg Building) is nearly ready to open. On April 5, this Friday, the public will finally get to venture inside Manhattan’s newest, and largest, cultural institution. As Hudson Yards welcomes the Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group–designed multidisciplinary arts center, much has been written about the building’s central, inescapable feature. The 120-foot-tall outer shell, clad in ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) “pillows,” can extend out from the base building when needed for larger performances, covering the public plaza and creating the 17,000-square-foot, climate-controlled McCourt space. When the shell is rolled back, the 20,000-square-foot outdoor plaza can be used for open-air performances. Art is even part of the very ground below, as artist Lawrence Weiner has embedded IN FRONT OF ITSELF in 12-foot-high letters using colored pavers throughout the plaza. As Elizabeth Diller and David Rockwell have repeatedly described, The Shed was conceived with maximum flexibility in mind. The comparisons and claims of inspiration from Cedric Price’s unrealized, constantly changing 1964 Fun Palace have been overt, whether rightly or wrongly. Either way, there’s no contesting that the space represents a blank space for artists to call their own. “I see the building as an ‘architecture of infrastructure,’ all muscle, no fat,” said Diller, “and responsive to the ever-changing needs of artists into a future we cannot predict. Success for me would mean that the building would stand up to challenges presented by artists, while challenging them back in a fruitful dialogue.” Four stories of programming live inside the eight-level base building. Floors two and four hold a combined 25,000 square feet of gallery spaces without columns and with 19-foot-tall ceilings. From April 6 through June 2, the second level gallery will display Reich Richter Pärt, a combination of choir songs from composer Steve Reich set against tapestries and wallpaper, some of them room-spanning, from artist Gerhard Richter. Swinging glass doors on the eastern walls of each gallery can open them up to the McCourt, allowing the venue to add additional seating when necessary. The sixth floor holds the Kenneth C. Griffin Theater, an 11,700-square-foot black box space with a 500-seat capacity. The theater can also be split in two to host smaller shows. On the top floor are the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Skylights, a wide, multipurpose section that affords one of the few views towards the rest of Hudson Yards, including a prominent view of Vessel. The open area features 9,500-square-feet of flexible event space, the 1,700-square-foot Tisch Lab for local artists, and a 3,300-square-foot rehearsal space. The two namesake skylights provide the entire floor with plenty of natural light, making up for the difference in ceiling heights found throughout the rest of the building—the eighth floor’s ceiling is noticeably lower. Hints of the building’s superstructure and its transforming shell are ever-present. The Bloomberg Building’s central set of scissoring escalators run parallel with the glass curtain wall and affords ample views of the shell, and the bent seam where the shell meets the adjoining tower. Inside the McCourt, the steel diagrid underpinning the ETFE facade reveals itself, creating a vastly different experience than viewing the building from outside. The High Line runs level with the windows on the second floor, reinforcing the connection to the park, strangely minimizing the feeling that the building is part of Hudson Yards proper. The Shed opens on April 5 with Soundtrack of America, a five-night concert series conceived and directed by Steve McQueen that celebrates the worldwide impact of African American music. The full lineup is available on The Shed’s website, here.
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Y'all Wanted a Twist?

Snøhetta wins competition for the Shanghai Grand Opera House
Snøhetta just won the competition for the Shanghai Grand Opera House, set to rise in the Expo Houtan neighborhood of the Chinese city. The Oslo and New York–based firm's design centers around a massive corkscrew stair that connects the theater's roof to an entry plaza that then runs down to the banks of the nearby Huangpu River. The grand public plaza and gently-sloped roof are meant to create a generous new public space in the vein of what the firm did for its Oslo Opera House. Other aspects of the Shanghai Grand resemble the Oslo project: three theaters pop through the overall roof, and a large glass wall surrounds the main lobby. The new building trades in the Oslo Opera's crisp, sculptural form for a looser, radiating geometry. Interestingly, the designers did not mention the Oslo Opera House as a related project but named several others in the firm's oeuvre. “The Shanghai Grand Opera House is a natural progression of our previous work with designing performing arts centers,” says Snøhetta founder Kjetil Trædal Thorsen in a statement. “It is a culmination of the competence and insight gained through projects such as the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, the Busan Opera House in South Korea, the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts in Canada, and the Théâtre Nanterre-Amandiers renovation in Paris. The Shanghai Grand Opera House is a product of our contextual understanding and values, designed to promote public ownership of the building for the people of Shanghai and beyond." Like Oslo, most of the building's exterior is off-white, presumably concrete, but the lobby is lined with bright red silk. There will be three theaters in the building: a 2,000-seat main auditorium, 1,200-seat second stage, and a 1,000-seat third stage. The smaller spaces are meant for less traditional shows to connect with a "younger audience," according to the designers. The project will be completed in collaboration with the Shanghai-based firm ECADI.
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Going Up, Way Up

Western Europe’s tallest tower could have sheep grazing at its base
A 1050-foot-tall tower reminiscent of New York’s 432 Park could be Western Europe’s next tallest (occupiable) building—and it could be dropped into a rural Danish village of 7,000 people. The decision to build Bestseller Tower in Brande, where the building would be visible from 37 miles away in every direction, may seem counterintuitive at first—but Brande is also where the international fast-fashion company Bestseller is headquartered. To boot, it’s also the hometown of Bestseller’s founder and Denmark’s richest man, Anders Holch Povlsen. Danish firm Dorte Mandrup, no stranger to landmark projects throughout Europe, is the designer behind Bestseller Tower and has chosen a strong grid facade, as opposed to a more delicate glass curtain wall that could have disappeared into the surrounding countryside. The building will contain offices for the fashion company, a hotel, and conference spaces, while a “village” of glassy, greenery-topped retail pavilions at the tower’s base are expected to display Bestseller’s numerous clothing brands. Although Bestseller Tower will top out at over 1,000 feet, rivaling the Eiffel Tower, as planned it will only be 45 stories. Assuming the building won’t be using construction tricks such as including height-boosting mechanical voids, that means each floor will reach a whopping 23-feet-tall on average. Surprisingly, the tower isn’t facing much opposition in Brande, at least on the surface. The town council voted to approve the project last month and construction will begin this year, putting the tower on track to meet a 2023 opening. “The project has not raised any concerns or resistance from any of our municipal council board members,” said mayor of Ikast-Brande, Ib Lauritsen, when speaking to Danish broadcaster DR. “It will undoubtedly be of the greatest significance for the city of Brande, but I do not doubt it will affect the whole of Central Jutland.” That approval is likely why the project is back in the news cycle, as plans were originally unveiled back in 2017.
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Acquisition Central

Michel Rojkind named senior vice president of architecture at The We Company
Mexican architect Michel Rojkind, founder of Rojkind Arquitectos, has been hired as the senior vice president of architecture at WeWork’s parent corporation, The We Company. His first project? Overseeing the design and construction of a ground-up, 200,000-square-foot coworking building in Bentonville, Arkansas, with the company’s chief architect, Bjarke Ingels. Moving forward, Rojkind will be involved with all ground-up projects at the company. The We Company and WeWork have expanded rapidly in the last few years and acquired the help of a number of high-profile architects and designers in the process; just two weeks ago, the company announced that it had hired Dror Benshetrit for its future cities initiative. WeWork founders Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey have never been shy about their ambition to expand into smart cities, schools, gyms, full neighborhoods, banking, and more. The Arkansas development, The We Company’s first project in the state, will provide space for up to 3,200 employees as well as retail and communal areas. No design details have been released as of yet, but Rojkind Arquitectos is known for its impressive and playful, but still monumental, facades, so it remains to be seen whether Rojkind’s first project for The We Company will keep to that aesthetic. "The We Company will provide to the project its fully integrated platform including core and shell design," The We Company said in a statement, "construction, and management expertise to service small and medium-sized businesses as well as to tap the area's large enterprise community."
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Reynolds Re-Wrap

University of Kentucky selects finalists for its new College of Design building
According to Archinect, the University of Kentucky (UK) is close to selecting an architect to design the school's new home for its College of Design, which is now scattered in various buildings across UK's campus. The six finalists are The Living, Marlon Blackwell Architects, NADAAA, Oyler Wu Collaborative, Studio Gang, and Trahan Architects. The winner will lead the redesign of the school's Reynolds Building, an old brick tobacco warehouse. According to school's news service, "With 140,000 square feet, the new home in the Reynolds Building will allow for the implementation of the college's ambitious plan to launch new initiatives, expand existing programs, establish new lines of design research and foster creative scholarship."
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House on Demand

Austin company 3D prints house on site to help alleviate homelessness
“What if you could download and print a house for half the cost?” reads the lede for the Vulcan II, a 3D printer with a name suited for sci-fi space exploration, on the website of Austin-based company ICON. Now the company has put this claim to the test, building what it says is the first permitted 3D-printed home in the United States, unveiled during SXSW. Using its original Vulcan gantry-style 3D printer, the firm collaborated with global housing nonprofit New Story to build a 650-square-foot home, which features separate bedroom, living, bathroom, and kitchen areas. The home, called the Chicon House, was printed in under 24 hours and while this test cost around $10,000, the firm estimates that future single-story homes, which could be as large as 2,000 square feet, could be printed for thousands less, around $4,000–$6,500. According to New Story CEO Brett Hagler, there is a pressing need to “challenge traditional [building] methods” to combat housing insecurity and homelessness. He adds that “linear methods will never reach the over-a-billion people who need safe homes.” ICON hopes to leverage the technology to help combat global housing crises all while being more environmentally friendly, resilient, and affordable. The printers use a proprietary “Lavacrete” concrete composite, which is made of materials that can be easily sourced locally and has a compressive strength of 6,000 pounds per square inch. The material is designed to withstand extreme weather conditions to minimize the impact of natural disasters, according to the firm. Wood, metal, and other materials can then be added on for windows, roofs, and the like. The printer relies on an “automated material delivery system” aptly called Magma, which blends the Lavacrete with other additives and water stored in built-in reservoirs. The Lavacrete’s composition is custom-tuned to the particular conditions of each location, accounting for temperature, humidity, altitude, and other climatic features. While 3D printing has been used in a number of architectural experiments over the past few years, it is primarily used as a prefabrication tool, with parts printed offsite to be assembled later. ICON argues that printing a whole home at once with a gantry printer is faster and more reliable. Printing the whole home reportedly provides a continuous thermal envelope, high thermal mass, and extremely little waste. The printers, which are transported in a custom trailer, are designed to work in areas where there is limited access to water, electricity, and the infrastructure necessary for traditional construction techniques—although, at least currently, it seems that some more standard construction is needed to finish off the 3D printed walls and turn them into a home. The Vulcan II is operated by a tablet, has remote monitoring technology, and built-in lighting for building overnight. A specialized software suite helps convert CAD drawings into printable forms. ICON has also begun licensing its tech to others. Austin-based developer Cielo Property Group plans to start production of affordable housing in Austin this year using the Vulcan II, The Wall Street Journal reported.
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Prefab Post-Quake

Escobedo Soliz designs two prefab schools in rural Mexico
Mexican practice Escobedo Soliz recently completed two schools in Mexico's Puebla region, which was devastated by an earthquake in 2017. According to the architects, over 200 public schools were destroyed in the region, which spurred a group of private investors to commission the firm to create two primary schools in the town of Santa Isabel Cholula. The team had only nine months to design and build both structures, leading to the selection of a modular, prefabricated system. The two schools use repetitive, single-story, barn-like modules with skylights along their ridges and red-pigmented precast concrete panels on their exteriors. The modules are arranged along covered porticos that act as outdoor hallways.