A new exhibition at the Design Museum in London highlights David Adjaye’s evolving expertise in memorial design. Making Memory is on view through May 5 and showcases seven of his firm’s completed and ongoing commemorative projects. Presented in models, photographs, material samples, sculptures, and full-scale recreations of Adjaye Associates’ monumental works, the memorial projects detailed in the show cover over a decade of architectural practice. Three of the structures on view have already been built, while four are unbuilt. One installation is dedicated to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and includes the West African Yoruba sculpture that inspired the building’s design. Another installation features a reconstruction of the Sclera Pavilion that Adjaye made for the 2008 London Design Festival, which he created in collaboration with the American Hardwood Export Council. Adjaye’s Gwangju River Reading Room, completed in 2013 and also featured in the exhibition, details his work with writer Taiye Selasi to create a pavilion in Gwangju, South Korea, dedicated to a pro-democracy uprising in May 1980 when several students were killed at the nearby Chonnam National University. A replica of the pavilion will be set up within the Design Museum complete with texts curated by Selasi. All of these built works, according to Adjaye, provide “an experience of time and place that is available to everyone.” The architect said in a statement that the 21st-century monument is no longer a singular representation of an event, but something that “is really used as a device to talk about the many things facing people across the planet” no matter the nation, race, or community the piece symbolizes. In his work, Adjaye seeks to create dynamic and complex spaces for people to interact with the triumphs and failures of history. Also detailed in the exhibit are Adjaye Associates' designs of the National Cathedral of Ghana in Accra, which was unveiled last March, and the Mass Extinction Memorial Observatory (MEMO), a spiraling stone structure currently under construction on the Isle of Portland in England. The show also features Adjaye’s recent competition entry for a new memorial in Boston honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Coretta Scott King. It’s unclear whether Adjaye’s design has been chosen by the nonprofit in charge of the competition, King Boston, but an announcement is expected soon. The project is moving forward fairly quickly, having received major donations last month from the Boston Foundation and Boston University. One of Adjaye’s most well-known upcoming projects, the UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Center in London, is discussed in the special exhibition in tandem with the current controversy surrounding its design and location in Victoria Tower Gardens. The design, a collaboration with Ron Arad Architects, was chosen in late 2017 as the winner of an international competition to memorialize the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. The project is facing new opposition from the site’s management group, Royal Parks, a London charity that says it doesn’t support the planning application and deems the Gardens “highly sensitive” to any physical alterations. The Guardian reported that Royal Parks supports the “principle of the project” but the size and design would have “harmful impacts” on the area—the Gardens fall within the boundaries of a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament.
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Nashville to start its first undergraduate architecture program
Nashville, Tennessee's Belmont University just announced it’s creating a five-year Bachelor of Architecture program. It will be the first of its kind in Middle Tennessee and only the second in the state. Why is this big news? Currently, Nashville is home to about 600 architects, which isn’t a lot compared to similarly-sized cities like Austin, Texas (1,010) and Charlotte, North Carolina (1,190), according to the U.S. Department of Labor statistics, and the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization estimates that the Cumberland Region surrounding Nashville, which covers 10 counties, will add another million people by 2035. Previously, there were no undergraduate architecture programs located within 150 miles of the city. The only other in the state is at the University of Tennesee—Knoxville, which also offers a master's degree—The University of Memphis only has a graduate program in architecture. In fifteen years, future Belmont architecture graduates could be getting their licenses. The Christian liberal arts school said it will begin offering courses in the fall of 2020 through its newly acquired O’More College of Design. Belmont’s Provost Dr. Thomas Burns told AN in an email that over the years, many local community members, from students, architects, and business leaders, have lamented the lack of such a program in Nashville. “Nashville has always been an extremely creative community where the importance of the development of a designer’s or artist’s craft found seamless purchase with the heart of the community,” Burns said, “so the marriage of an architecture program with Belmont’s focus on creating citizens ready to contribute to our city was a natural choice.” Though Belmont boasts a small population of just over 8,300 students, its global reach is large. More than 36 countries are represented in its current study body as well as people from every state in the U.S. It offers over 90 areas of undergraduate study (music and music business are two of its biggest attractions—Brad Paisley is an alumnus), as well as 25 master's programs, and five doctoral degrees. With the addition of an architecture program, future students could steer Nashville through a massive building boom. The Music City is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the South—over $13 billion have been poured into the region in recent years. Provost Burns noted the announcement, though just a few days old, has already sparked excitement in the community. “Nashville has been ready for an architecture program for years, but there wasn’t an educational institution where they could focus their energy,” he said. “We’ve had a great deal of interest from local architects wanting to develop and support the program and our students.” Over the next year, the school will work with the local leaders to develop the architecture program’s initial curriculum, which, according to Provost Burns, is aimed at producing graduates “who see themselves contributing and supporting their community through good work and good citizenship.”
A Pathway to Healing
New 9/11 Memorial is coming to the World Trade Center site
A new monument at the 9/11 Memorial will honor those affected by illness born of the attacks. The Memorial Glade, now under construction at Liberty and West Streets in New York City, will feature a pathway lined with six granite slabs pointing to the sky. Meant to symbolize “strength and determination through adversity,” the stone pieces have been specially crafted to look worn, but not beaten, and native to the surrounding landscape. Designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker, the architects behind the 9/11 Memorial, the Glade will be situated along the pathway that relief workers trod during the years-long cleanup of Ground Zero. Per the architects’ vision, the stone monoliths flanking the new memorial walkway will weigh between 15 and 17.5 tons each. Each piece will incorporate steel fragments from the original World Trade Center, a design move inspired by kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. The New York Post reported the project will open on May 30, but it has been in planning since 2014 when an advocate for WTC first responders first approached the 9/11 Memorial and Museum with the idea. The Memorial Glade will honor not only first responders but also survivors and downtown residents who suffered or died from life-threatening toxins released during the disaster. According to 6sqft, an estimated 400,000 people near Ground Zero were exposed to such airborne threats during the recovery and relief period after 9/11. The World Trade Center Health Program, signed into law by President Obama in 2011, has enrolled 73,000 first responders and over 17,000 survivors since its establishment. As part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the program is responsible for helping victims find treatment for these specific illnesses. Over $4.8 billion in benefits have been given out, reported the Daily News, but the program is slated to expire at the end of 2020. Construction on the $5 million Memorial Glade started last fall. The project has already received a $500,000 New York State grant, as well as donations from Bloomberg Philanthropies and former Daily Show host Jon Stewart, a member of the museum’s board.
Keep Your Ion This, Houston
Rice University taps SHoP Architects for an innovation center in Houston
An 80-year-old former Sears department store will be transformed into a multi-level innovation center and business incubator for Houston, Texas, under a plan unveiled by Rice University. The 270,000-square-foot project is designed to bring students, professors, and entrepreneurs together with corporate leaders and investors, and to provide the centerpiece for a 16-acre innovation district in midtown Houston. Besides classrooms for students and workspace for start-up companies, there will be areas for lectures, conferences, hack-a-thons, demonstrations, job training, and networking events, as well as restaurants and other amenities. Rice has assembled four high-profile designers to repurpose the 1939 flagship department store, keeping salient Art Deco features while modifying the building for 21st-century occupants. Designers include SHoP Architects, James Carpenter Design Associates, James Corner Field Operations, and the Houston office of Gensler. The four-story building on Main Street was the first Sears store in Houston and closed in January of 2018 as part of the retailer’s nationwide retrenchment. Part of a 9.4-acre tract that was offered to Amazon as part of Houston’s bid to be selected for that company’s second headquarters, it’s close to seven colleges and universities, a METRORail line, the Texas Medical Center, and the city’s Museum District. When Houston didn’t make Amazon’s short list of 20 regions under consideration as of January of 2018, it became available for other uses. Amazon later chose northern Virginia and New York City as sites where it will split its second headquarters. In advance of its transformation, the Sears building in Houston has been renamed The Ion. “We chose the name Ion because it’s from the Greek ienai, which means go,” said Rice University president David Leebron, in a statement on Rice’s website. “We see it as embodying the ever-forward motion of discovery, the spark at the center of a truly original idea…The Ion will become Houston’s nucleus for innovation, fostering a community and culture where entrepreneurs and corporations come together to solve some of the world’s greatest problems.” “The Ion will inspire open innovation between universities, global corporations and investors,” said Gabriela Rowe, the CEO of Station Houston, a tech accelerator that will manage programming, in a statement about the project. “Students and faculty members from institutions like Rice University and the University of Houston will coexist and collaborate with scientists from Houston’s other great institutions. Investors and corporations will meet face to face with start-up entrepreneurs. Together, at The Ion, they will transform Houston into a thriving, connected high-tech ecosystem.” Besides Rice, officials say, institutions that will be involved with programming include the University of Houston, UH-Downtown, the University of St. Thomas, Houston Community College, Texas Southern University, Houston Baptist University, San Jacinto College, and the South Texas College of Law. Architectural plans call for retention of original Art Deco elements such as glass block windows, canopies, and decorative tiles that date back to the store’s opening. A central atrium will be created to let in natural light, and new windows will be installed to provide views that weren’t possible before and provide glimpses of the activity inside. The larger innovation district will include housing, stores, restaurants, public spaces, and infrastructure that will support a growing tech community. The Ion project will be led by Rice Management Company, which manages Rice University’s endowment, and Hines of Houston is managing the development. An exact construction budget has not been disclosed, but Rice Management officials said in 2018 they will invest up to $100 million for the project. Construction is expected to start in May and be complete by the end of 2020.
The King of Co-Living
European co-living developer plans big entrance into U.S. market
Quarters, a major European co-living company, plans to invest $300 million toward building new developments across the United States and becoming the nation’s largest co-living operator by 2022, according to an article in Curbed. Millennials are the primary target demographic for the co-living industry. Due to financial issues and their tendency to lead nomadic lifestyles, young adults are typically the most interested in shared housing spaces. By offering pre-furnished bedrooms, shared common spaces, and amenities such as 24/7 laundry access, cleaning services, Wi-Fi, and community events, co-living companies like Quarters want to provide Millennials with more affordable access to increasingly overpriced, metropolitan neighborhoods. Quarters’s $300 million expansion deal was made possible by a $1.1 billion fundraiser led by its parent company, Medici Living. Medici’s goal is to buy and build up to 35 co-living facilities throughout Europe, and over 1,300 new residential units in the U.S. within the next three years, according to Curbed. The Berlin-based company already operates co-living spaces in New York City and Chicago, but it plans on expanding its footprint to cities like Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego, and Seattle—all of which are teaming with millennials and startup activity. Residential projects at these sites could house between 100 and 300 people, while new spaces in New York could hold up to 500. Like Quarters, other co-living firms have upped their ambition, diverting their attention away from small group homes to focus on large-scale high-rises. WeWork, the massive, New York-based co-working company, recently unveiled "WeLive," its latest co-living project with its first apartment building located at 110 Wall Street in Manhattan. The Manhattan high-rise, whose private studios start at $3,050 a month, offers apartment dwellers flexible leasing, access to fitness classes, cleaning and laundry services, potluck dinners, and a digital social network, all conveniently accessed through a mobile app. According to Curbed, WeLive, if successful, plans to eventually house 600 people throughout the 20 floors of the Lower Manhattan high-rise, as well as build more developments in other major U.S. cities. While co-living is not a new or innovative concept, companies like Quarters and WeWork have transformed it into a business model to take advantage of the fluctuating economy and provide young adults with a service that can make city living more affordable and hospitable.
Make that M+1
The Archigram archives are headed to M+ in Hong Kong
The archives of English architecture collective Archigram are headed to Hong Kong. After Archigram sold its archives to the not-quite-open-yet visual culture museum M+ for $2.37 million in March of last year, the archive was packed into shipping containers—where they sat for nearly a year while the museum waited for permission to export the collection. That’s all changed, as U.K. Culture secretary Jeremy Wright has approved an export permit. At the time of the sale, the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, under UK's Arts Council, blocked the export of the archive. After hearing testimony from museum officials, the committee placed a temporary block on the archive’s export in the hopes that a U.K.-based buyer could be found instead. In the last review of the archives, the Reviewing Committee ruled that Archigram’s archives, while a precedent-setting work for contemporary architects, met the body’s three “Waverly criteria” standards. Those criteria are used to determine whether an object has enough national importance for the body to block its export. The archive spans over 10,000 images, half of which have being digitized and made available to the public for free by the University of Westminster in 2010. Ultimately, Secretary Wright made the decision to release the archives to M+, noting the difficulty in finding a buyer who would keep the collection together. M+’s purchase came at the direction of the museum’s curator-at-large Aric Chen. It’s expected that the collection of renderings, technical drawings, collages, drawings, models, ephemera will be accessible to the public, rather than shunted into a research archive. “We'd been working on this acquisition for a long time,” said Chen, “only to have this export issue throw us for a loop. On the bright side, I was happy for Archigram to see their importance reaffirmed in the U.K.—but I'm of course even happier the archive is coming to M+, where it will be equally appreciated, and where we'll work to shed new light on Archigram, from their interactions with the Metabolists of 1960s Japan to their resonance with Hong Kong's urban landscape and the work of many leading Chinese architects working today.” AN has reached out to Archigram members Michael Webb and Peter Cook for comment and will update this story as needed. Although the M+ purchase is a heady one, the museum’s physical headquarters in the West Kowloon Cultural District is still under construction. The 700,000-square-foot, Herzog & de Meuron–designed arts center is expected to open next year.
The future of Detroit’s museum district—an area within striking distance of the city’s revitalized downtown that has 12 cultural institutions—received bold ideas and insights into what urban architects and landscape designers would do if given the chance to unite Motown’s Midtown during an all-day series of presentations Wednesday at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). The DIA Plaza project hopes to create cultural, community, and city connections between institutions like the classical art museum and its illustrious neighbors, which include the main branch of the Detroit Public Library, Detroit Historical Museum, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History, Wayne State University, and others. Three teams with international and national resumes as well as Detroit partners gave what observers called insightful and innovative pitches Wednesday on how their ideas about mobility, technology and a revived infrastructure around the art museum could unite not only the buildings in the up-and-coming Midtown district but to the city and the region as a whole. The DIA and its local partners will select a winner from the three presentations by spring, officials said. Insiders say the final decision should come before the end of April. The DIA and its partners, including development organization Midtown Detroit Inc., started this process of building a “heart” for the cultural and educational district in spring 2018. The two also hosted a student competition, led by communications and urban-planning students from around Michigan. The winning team from Wayne State University created a vision of a large cultural campus that removed one of the DIA’s existing parking structures and created an open campus with food trucks, a performance stage and additional signage. The three presenters at Wednesday’s event had a few items in common – they suggested narrowing Detroit’s legendary Woodward Avenue to make it more pedestrian friendly, closing off little-used streets to create a cultural campus and developing additional “living rooms” and outdoor installation spaces to bring art outside the walls of the major institutions involved. The initial 44 submissions to the competition RFQ from more than 10 countries and 22 cities were narrowed down to eight firms, each of which presented their ideas to a panel of jurors at a public event at the DIA in June 2018. Each of the three design teams presenting as finalists in the competition include Detroit-area firms as partners. The three design teams and their partners are: Agence Ter, Paris, France, with team partners Akoaki, Detroit; Harley Etienne, University of Michigan; rootoftwo, metro Detroit; and Transsolar | KlimaEngineering, Germany; Mikyoung Kim Design, Boston, with team partners are James Carpenter Design Associates, New York; CDAD, Detroit; Wkshps, New York; Quinn Evans, Detroit; Giffels Webster, Detroit; Tillett Lighting, New York; Cuseum, Boston; Transsolar | KlimaEngineering, Germany; and Schlaich Bergermann & Partners, New York; and TEN x TEN, Minneapolis, with team partners MASS Design Group, Boston; D MET, Detroit; Atelier Ten, New York; Local Projects, New York; HR&A Advisors, New York; Dr. Craig Wilkins, University of Michigan; and Wade Trim, Detroit. Detroiters who attended the event said they appreciated the attention to reforesting the area with more trees and landscaping as well as the connections to Detroit-based artists, who could benefit from the additional performance spaces. However, there were concerns about removing parking in an urban center already struggling with having enough space for cars alongside its relatively new tram system known as the QLINE. “I'm seeing a great deal of investment in branding and design vision but not so great a connection to cultural/community impact,” said Nick Rowley, a local activist who attended Wednesday’s presentations. The actor, voiceover artist and events planner said his much of his favorite proposals came from Agence Ter, which focused on developing projects and installations that centered on Detroit issues, such as how to commemorate the 1967 riot/rebellion, as well as local artists. “I like hearing ‘Biennale’ and ‘Afro-Futurist’ being evoked in the same presentation,” he noted. The judges questioned the three groups for their attention to details like how they would blend walkways with the planned structures, how they proposed to develop the projects over time and whether they had given enough attention to Detroit’s unique artist and resident communities, which all wanted a voice in the final proposal. When asked whether their proposal was too audacious, Anya Sirota, co-founder of Detroit-based architecture and design studio Akoaki, responded by noting, “Detroit deserves an ambitious project,” and that they worked extensively with community groups, artist communities and event planners to learn about the city, how it hosts events and what it needed to attract both suburbanites and urban dwellers to the cultural center.
A plan to bring congestion pricing to Los Angeles County has taken a tentative step forward, The Los Angeles Times reports. In an effort to reduce traffic while also raising funds for new mass transit projects, next month the board of directors for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) will take up an initiative to study the issue. The initiative, if approved, would allow the board to assemble a panel of experts to investigate how congestion pricing might work in Los Angeles County, where The Los Angeles Times reports nearly three-fourths of commuters drive to work. According to Metro, it could take up to two years to study possible congestion pricing plans. Metro’s consideration of congestion pricing comes as the transit authority gears up for its “28 by 28” initiative, a plan that seeks to bring over two dozen transformative transportation projects to fruition before the city hosts the 2028 Olympics. The 28 by 28 plan would build-out L.A.’s planned public transportation system as envisioned by the recent Measure M initiative. The 2016 measure raised county sales tax rates to partially fund system expansions to the tune of $860 million per year. That’s a sizable chunk of what’s needed to bring many projects to life, but ultimately not enough to have them completed before 2028, hence the need for additional funding. Metro is expected to tap federal and state funding sources—including California’s gas tax funds—to fill in funding gaps for projects that include a new transit route crossing the Sepulveda Pass, the completion of the Purple Line to Westwood, and a new transit line connecting Downtown Los Angeles with the southeastern suburb Artesia. Congestion pricing could help bridge the gap for the agency, however. According to The Los Angeles Times, a recent Metro report indicates that a per-mile tax on driving could raise $102 billion over ten years and that a fee to enter Downtown Los Angeles could bring in an additional $12 billion. Metro officials claim that congestion pricing could bring in enough new funding to lower base transit fares or even make the entire system free to ride. It’s possible that with the right congestion pricing plan, Metro could make transit more affordable and useful as it makes driving more expensive and difficult in tandem.
An analysis of the Foster + Partners–designed “Tulip,” the 1,000-foot-tall observation tower first proposed for Central London in November of last year, has revealed that the as-is scheme would clash with the London Plan. In its 15-page report, the Greater London Authority (GLA) had “significant concerns with the design approach” and the potential impact on the public’s ability to see the Tower of London. The London Plan, a strategic planning resource for development across the metropolis, lays out economically and environmentally sustainable development criteria that preserve the city’s heritage. The plan is also a framework for the mayor to consider when considering strategic planning applications submitted to the mayor's office. As the plan notes, responsibility for reaching the goals therein is shared between the Mayor’s Office, London’s 32 boroughs, and the Corporation of the City of London—with the GLA set up to administer the plan. In their January 14 review of the Tulip’s strategic planning application, the GLA voiced its concern that the tower failed to comply with the London Plan. The authority pointed out that the scheme conflicts with London Plan Policy 7.7, which mandates that tall buildings set aside a free-to-enter public space (it’s presumed that the Tulip will charge for entry to its bulb-like observation area). As for the design, which would balance the solid concrete shaft and glass observation topper above a two-story retail podium, the GLA wrote that: “officers have significant concerns with the design approach. The height appears unjustified and the introduction of significant expanse of solid and inactive building frontage would appear incongruous in the existing faceted context of the Eastern Cluster, drawing significant attention in this heritage sensitive location.” The report goes on to note that the planning application made use of pedestrian numbers from 2015 as opposed to a 2025 forecast, and that as such, “The proposals are considered to result in a poor quality, unwelcoming, unnecessarily confined pedestrian environment contrary to Policy 6.10 of the London Plan and Policy to D1 of the draft London Plan. The proposals would not reflect the Healthy Streets approach detailed within Policies T2 and T4 of the draft London Plan. The level of cycle parking would not accord with draft London Plan Policy T5.” The Tulip’s impact on the sightlines for historic buildings was also called into question. This isn’t the first time official concerns have been raised over the building, as the London City Airport requested that construction be postponed until it could study how the gondola pods on the observation bulb’s exterior would impact its radar systems. In response to the GLA report, Foster + Partners released the following statement to the Architects’ Journal: “We are pleased to see that the mayor of london considers the use of a visitor attraction as complementing the City. “We welcome the detailed technical comments by GLA officers and, as part of the ongoing planning process, we will continue to work closely with the City of London Corporation and the GLA to resolve those matters raised and to improve the package of public benefits associated with the Tulip.” If construction proceeds as scheduled, the Tulip is expected to break ground in 2020 and open to the public in 2025.
State of Trains and Trust
High-speed rail plan for Pacific Northwest takes a step forward
A fledgling plan to bring high-speed rail (HSR) service to the Pacific Northwest region of the United States and parts of southwestern Canada is moving closer to becoming a reality. The Urbanist reported that this week, the Washington State Legislature introduced legislation that would create a new interstate high-speed rail authority for the region that could begin to take the first steps toward making the Cascadia Rail plan a reality. According to The Urbanist, the new rail authority would be in charge of coordinating high-speed rail efforts across Washington, Oregon, and Canadian jurisdictions while also setting requirements for contracting operations and other issues. The authority would also be responsible for ensuring that the trains and routes selected for the project could deliver service at 250 miles per hour, a key stipulation for making the project economically viable across the region. The authority would also provide a singular contact point for communities along the proposed routes and would handle the preparation of environmental impact reports at the federal and local levels. A preliminary plan for the Cascadia Rail service was unveiled in 2018 that proposed a coastal line connecting Portland, Oregon, with Vancouver, Canada. The plan includes an eastern spur connecting Spokane, Washington, with Seattle. The plan has support from the Washington State business community as well as a growing set of local officials who see the prospect of reliable, high-speed rail service as a key way of reducing automobile traffic along Interstate-5 while also helping to address growing transportation emissions across the region. Several high-speed rail plans are making progress around the country, including in California, where the nation’s first true high-speed rail network is currently under construction. After years of planning and partisan bickering, the controversial plan is finally in full-swing and a line running through central California between Bakersfield and Madera is expected to open by 2022. Along the Florida coast, the privately owned Brightline route made its debut this year connecting West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Though the train is not truly a high-speed rail corridor—it runs at top speeds of roughly 80 miles per hour—the train has cut travel times between the two cities by over an hour. The line is expected to expand to serve Miami and Orlando by 2020. All Aboard Florida, the company that owns and operates Brightline, is also moving toward a second train venture connecting Las Vegas, Nevada, with the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. The company recently purchased XpressWest, a struggling venture that was aiming to deliver service between the two cities following the Interstate-15 corridor, Urbanize.LA reported. Like the Florida line, however, trains will not exactly run at high speeds; projected service is expected to begin in 2022 and will run at around 92 miles per hour. This might sound like a good bit of progress—and it is—but recent rail development in the United States pales in comparison to the many ambitious rail projects under construction around the world. China, for example, plans to build over 2,000 miles of true high-speed rail lines in 2019 alone. That’s enough track to connect Philadelphia to Phoenix.
Missed some of this week's architecture news, or our tweets and Facebook posts from the last few days? Don’t sweat it—we’ve gathered the week’s must-read stories right here. Enjoy! Repair plan for shuttered Transbay Transit Center is in the works The Metropolitan Transportation Commission approved a repair plan for the Transbay Transit Center that the Transbay Joint Powers Authority will consider. Shigeru Ban Architects burnishes its status as a leader in mass timber Known for experimenting with paper tubes and bamboo, Shigeru Ban Architects is burnishing its reputation in tall and mass timber. Preview Heatherwick Studio’s upcoming New York City projects Heatherwick Studio has three projects under construction within a 19-block span of Manhattan's West Side, and AN took the opportunity to check in. Seattle set to finally close Alaskan Way Viaduct and open new tunnel The two-mile Alaskan Way Viaduct, long been considered a major hazard to the city and its drivers, will close this Friday, January 11. United States withdraws from UNESCO (again) The United States has withdrawn from UNESCO in protest of the organization's recognition of cultural sites in the West Bank. That's all—see you next week!
The Atrium in Atlanta's Heart
Facades+ Atlanta will explore the city's feverish new urbanism
Brought to you with support fromMetropolitan Atlanta is undergoing something of an urban moment; new developments and towers are cropping up across the city at a dizzying pace in tandem with public parks, pedestrian zones, and new transit lines. Initiatives such as the BeltLine and The Gulch promise a discernible shift from the car-centric planning that has been the city's course for decades. On January 16, Facades+ Atlanta will bring together the leading architectural firms executing projects within the city, including Beck Architecture, Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, HKS Architects, Duda|Paine Architects, and John Portman & Associates (JPA). In anticipation of the conference, AN interviewed JPA's conference co-chairs Gordon R. Beckman, principal and design director, and Pierluca Maffey, principal and vice president of design, to better understand a city in flux and the storied firm's role within this transformation. The Architect's Newspaper: Atlanta is undergoing a period of incredible growth that is reshaping the physical character of the city. What do you perceive to be the most interesting facade and structural innovations in Atlanta today? Pierluca Maffey: Just like people in many other cities in the U.S., Atlantans are rediscovering the advantages that urban living means to everyday life. The idea of buying a big house with car garages that look like hangars is shifting towards the purchase of more efficient spaces possibly near or well connected to public spaces and activities where human interaction occurs and social experiences unfold. This is the sociological change at the base of the new urbanism that is shaping many cities in the U.S. Share more space instead of owning it; share a mean of transportation; share experiences instead of having exclusive ones and so on. Even the workplace is based on sharing more knowledge to spark innovation, and the hospitality business is doing the same by transforming exclusive hotel lobbies into urban hubs where people and events take place. In that sense, Portman was way ahead of its time when in the early '60s, while America was abandoning every downtown to escape in the promise land of suburbia, he invested in redeveloping downtown Atlanta. Designing, developing and promoting the heart of the city was and is the best way to build the identity and the culture of a town. The less risky route of urbanizing more land in the outskirts of an older city is far more devastating to the development of a community. Today, we see people demanding for a higher quality of urban living and the administrations and the developers must cater to this “new” idea of a city, one in which people can feel safe to occupy and live during the day and night. Unfortunately, Atlanta does not have the same density as other important cities in the U.S. however, it is moving in the right trajectory to attract the new generations of citizens. Capitalizing on some of the major assets that the city owns like Georgia Tech and the busiest airport in the world, the city is becoming a hub for many industries, and it is attracting a cosmopolitan population that will enrich the experience and the development of this city. These newcomers, like myself, are bringing in new ideas and demanding more updated public space throughout the city. The results are visible in many recent projects around town, from large to small, where the leading factor is no longer the efficiency and the return on investment, but the public demand for better public spaces and streetscapes where the building facades represent the edges like walls in a house. Unfortunately, the demand for cars is still high because the public transportation grid quality is still very weak but hopefully it will change in the future with the right policies and a good collaboration between public and private partnerships on how to address traffic and development in the city. Gordon R. Beckman: It's a great time to be in Atlanta. The last two or three generations seem to have found a renewed interest in urban living and its associated benefits, culturally, socially, and environmentally. The result has been an influx of people, an influx of ideas, and a necessity to increase opportunities for living and working. This is a huge plus for the city as it demands increased density, further defining edges between private and public spaces resulting in a more walkable place-oriented city fabric. Building enclosures fulfill numerous roles, the most basic being to separate us from the elements, but they also form a significant part of the building identity and in the best cases they integrate ideas and ideals of energy to boost occupant comfort while minimizing energy consumption. Importantly, they also become the enclosure system for the public realm and the public spaces of the urban environment. Atlanta, as most cities are, is composed of multiple distinct neighborhoods. As a result, there are numerous projects throughout the city both planned and completed that are unique in their image, form, and enclosure systems. A key part of Tech Square, the JPA-designed Coda project, derives out of the idea of creating a public open space within the urban block. Its elegant glazed exterior wall defines the street edges, is modulated to define a pedestrian scale at the street and, together with the data center and historical Crum and Foster building, define the inner public space. High-performance glazing together with view glass in a unitized curtain wall contributes to the expectation of LEED Gold status. Historic preservation is gaining in popularity in Atlanta. How do you perceive this trend altering the city, and how can architects embrace it? LM: Historic preservation is a must. Buildings of the past represent a culture and decisions that were taken at a certain time by people who came before us. That said, when a building loses its main purpose, I see an opportunity for us to reinvent that same structure and breathe new life into it without losing its richness and history. A lot of structures were torn down in the past decades, and that was the trend around the nation. Perhaps it was not the best thing to do, judging with today’s mentality, but we can’t change that anymore. What we can do is preserve what we have today and what was left from before. Our 230 Indigo is a repurpose of the first office project designed by Portman in the '60s. We converted the first nine floors into a hotel and preserved the rest as an office. The massing composition of Coda was all based on the 1926 Crum and Forster building. It was a priority to preserve the structure as a jewel and that led to a decision to create active space around it and place all the higher structures away from it to create a neutral background for its classical unique architecture. I am glad that the developers and designers are preserving a lot of the industrial structures bringing new life into them. Ponce City Market and Krog are the best examples we have in town, but there are many more done by other developers and very good architects who understand the richness and responsibility of preserving older structures. What I really do not like is new developments and designers promoting new buildings to look like industrial warehouses. That is tricking the customers, just like giving them a fake 1500 Tuscan Villa in the outskirts of a U.S. metropolis. Atlanta's skyline is defined by your firm's projects. Can you expand on the relationship your firm has cultivated with the city? LM: Like many other cities in the U.S., Atlanta has seen the exodus of the middle class towards suburbia. The fact that Atlanta has no natural boundaries like mountains or water that could constraint its sprawl in the territory caused the “explosion of the city” into many other satellite cities. At a moment in which Downtown Atlanta lost most of its economic force and middle class, Portman decided to reinvest in the city and never left its core. The office never left downtown, and the investments that were made through the years into what is now a large master plan were able and still can bring millions of visitors to the city. The design aesthetic adopted at an era when brutalism was spreading around the world is seen today as very stark and not inviting. The decision to create an alternative to the open public space offered by the streets was a way to provide safety for people and businesses that were catering to the visitors coming to the conventions and to the fair held by America’s Mart and the Georgia World Congress Center. It is understandable how today we see those solutions as unfavorable to the evolution of the activity and safety of public open spaces however, they provided a viable solution at the time they were conceived and are still significantly successful today with thousands of people meandering through the food court of Peachtree center and the atriums of the Hyatt Regency and Marriott Marquis. Today Ponce City Market and Krog Street offer the more appealing “food hall,” but the concept is the same: an introverted world where the public space is privately owned and managed. We still can’t take a stroll down the street looking at shops and choose a restaurant out of hundreds available like you would do in Europe. Coda is opening to the city again and it reflects the current city culture. We deliberately created an open plaza easily accessible from two major streets and widely open to the sidewalks. It's a place for gathering and connecting with other people. It's still a privately owned and managed place but exposed and available to everyone to experience. That said, the owner decided on building an adjacent food hall to energize the outdoor space and activate it throughout the day. We are still far from the great public urban space seen in other cities in the U.S. or elsewhere in the world, but those are not developed by private companies. Those public spaces are built by the administrations and they reflect the culture of the society at a particular time. We might not be there yet, but we are certainly ready to play our part in designing them. GB: Atlanta has a rich and varied architectural legacy. Our founder John Portman contributed to the vast array of projects that define this city. He recognized that for Atlanta to remain a vital urban place, the energy of the urban core needed to be maintained through comprehensive economic planning, as seen in the offices and hotel of Peachtree Center. At the time these projects were being executed, the city was blighted by suburban flight that challenged the primacy of urban living. Portman and his internal public squares recognized the need for public spaces within the city. Now, our practice is seeking to blur the boundary between interior and exterior. The contrast between the Marriott Marquis and the new Coda project demonstrate this idea in a powerful way. Atlanta is on fire with its growth, with the metropolitan area projected to grow to nine million residents by 2040. This exponential growth means more work, more housing, more cultural projects, more urbanism, transportation systems, infrastructure, and so on. The future vision of the city largely rests on Atlanta's community of architects, planners, and developers. 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