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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Pumpkin Spiced Literature
Check out the best architecture book releases of the fall
As the leaves change color, the nights lengthen, and the temperatures drop, a crop of new book releases are hitting the shelves with fall reading that's are guaranteed to keep readers warm for the winter. Want to learn more about Philip Johnson’s bombastic early life and work for Donald Trump? How about a deep dive into the history of modernism and a treatise on how it’s ruined society, or a look into stark, cold concrete buildings around the world (for when the weather gets unseasonably warm)? AN has compiled a list of the hottest new releases for autumn, so pour a glass of cider, light the fireplace, and dive in—or better yet, start your holiday shopping early. The Man in the Glass House: Philip Johnson, Architect of the Modern Century Mark Lamster Little, Brown and Company MSRP $35.00 Nine years in the making, Lamster’s deep dive into the life and career of Philip Johnson pays off in spades. Johnson is presented as a quintessential American architect and a walking mess of contradictions throughout the book; a populist born to an upper-class family who was a millionaire before the age of 25, a gay man who fervently supported the Nazis, and a patron of the arts who ultimately went on to help Donald Trump leave his signature across Manhattan. Lamster’s meticulously researched biography also entwines itself with the history of modern art and the life of the Museum of Modern Art, much as Johnson himself did. Atlas of Brutalist Architecture Phaidon Editors Phaidon Press MSRP $150.00 More than just the ultimate coffee table book, the Atlas of Brutalist Architecture claims to be a final compendium on built, and demolished, brutalist structures. At a whopping 10 by 14 inches, the atlas features 878 buildings from 798 architects across 102 countries, reproduced in high-contrast black and white photos. The oversize collection puts each building’s distinctive shape front and center and creates a study of form across the entire Brutalist movement. Cocktails and Conversations: Dialogues in Architectural Design AIA New York $25 in-person pickup, $30 shipped For the last six years, the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has been hosting a Cocktails and Conversations series, treating guests like Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, Signe Nielsen, and Daniel Libeskind to custom-crafted cocktails and engaging them in conversation about the state of architecture. In Cocktails and Conversations (the book version), AIA New York has reproduced all of their dialogues since 2012 and included the accompanying cocktail recipes. Ever want to drink like Morris Adjmi or Charles Renfro? Now you can. And keep an eye out for moderating appearances from AN’s William Menking and Matt Shaw. Exhibit A: Exhibitions That Transformed Architecture, 1948-2000 Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen Phaidon Press MSRP $79.95 In today’s world of constant architectural biennales, biennials, showcases, retrospectives, and pop-up shows, it’s fair to say that exhibition architecture is a language all of its own. In Exhibit A, Pelkonen charts a decade-by-decade breakdown of the 80 most important shows from 1948 to 2000 in a lavishly illustrated compendium. The book’s scope is worldwide, tracking the evolution of exhibition architecture as well as how that language eventually bled back into the architectural mainstream. Syria Before the Deluge Peter Aaron Blurb $149.00 Architectural photographer Peter Aaron is no stranger to capturing the essence of a building, a task he took up whole-heartedly during a 2009 tour through Palmyra, Aleppo, Damascus, and other important archeological sites throughout Syria. Unfortunately, as Aaron notes, those places are all notable today for having been totally destroyed, with most of their ancient treasures lost, looted, or inaccessible. Using an infrared camera, Aaron shot ancient ruins and modern Syrian cityscapes in vivid black-and-white, capturing both a long-gone world and contemporary life in a place that would soon after be changed forever. Michael Webb: Two Journeys Edited by Ashley Simone Lars Müller Publishers MSRP $45.00 As Peter Cook noted in his review of Two Journeys, Michael Webb’s life, much like the book itself, is rich in anecdote and nuance. The biography celebrates Webb’s life as a polymath who dabbled in art, drawing, and design in equal measure, painting the founding Archigram member as more of an eclectic inventor than architect. Two Journeys is an exercise in showing, not telling, using Webb’s work and particularities to paint a fuller picture of the man himself. Much like the gathering held to celebrate the launch of the book itself, Two Journeys is full of fond memories about Webb from his contemporaries and friends. Archigram - The Book Warren Chalk, Peter Cook, David Greene, Reyne Banham, Michael Sorkin, Michael Webb Circa Press November 14, 2018 MSRP $135.00 Functional meets fun in this comprehensive retrospective of London’s most famous avant-garde design collective. Archigram’s theoretical work paved the way for some of the most influential works of the late-twentieth century, including the Centre Pompidou, and the group was ultimately recognized for their contributions with a RIBA Gold Medal in 2002. Archigram, designed by member Dennis Crompton and featuring essays from all of the collective’s members, is as psychedelic and forward-thinking as the work contained inside. The large-format monograph is a celebration of the collective’s 14 years together and includes well-known projects such as the Living City as well as lesser-known projects and concepts. With the advantage of time and foresight, the collection puts Archigram’s ‘60s and ‘70s work in an entirely new context.
Brought to you with support fromIn 2011, Buenos Aires-based estudio Claudio Vekstein_Opera Publica (eCV) was approached by the government of Argentina's Sante Fe Province to design a space memorializing the centennial of the Alcorta Farmers Revolt. Founded in 1892, Alcorta is a small farming town laid out according to a dense and rigid grid surrounded by plotted agricultural land, an urban morphology typical of this southern corner of the province. From this historical context, eCV's Memorial Space and Monument of the Alcorta Farmers Revolt rises as an asymmetrical fissured edifice wrapped with semi-translucent, prefabricated epoxy resin-and-fiberglass panels.
fiberglass, and rough burlap cloth. For the relief of the bags, eCV designed a set of rectangular molds of a standard height and varying widths. These modules are plugged into 275 alternating facade elements measuring approximately 3.5 feet in height and 7 feet in width. The billowing mass of the reinforced resin panels is broken by a series of narrow apertures of four different dimensions. The structure of the monument is highly visible, consisting of exposed and inclined steel beams and trusses planted into a concrete foundation. Mounting the precast facade panels onto the structure was a fairly straightforward operation: the panels are attached to a bracket-connected metal framing system with self-tapping screws. In total, the installation of the panels took approximately three weeks. A significant portion of the northwestern facade folds over the 4,300 square-foot built area and interior segments of the panels are backed by rows of grooved fiberglass. The rear elevations, which host offices of the Agrarian Federation and communal spaces, are fronted by rectangular corrugated sheets of metal that are similarly fastened to a framing system. During the day, the semi-translucent screen filters a soft yellow light into the memorial's principal spaces. The rough burlap fabric, which provides the panels their outward dark hue, takes on the form of a glowing and sinuous skin. As the sun sets and interior spaces are illuminated by artificial lighting, the facade becomes a lamp beaming toward Alcorta. Beyond the facade, eCV’s interior is spartan and reflective of the populist ethos of the overall design typology–the flooring is bare concrete, with steel trusses and cross braces cascading below the slanted roofline. After six years of episodic construction, the complex opened to the public on the 106th anniversary of the uprising in June 2018.The complex, located on an approximately 81,000 square-foot plot, is a visual homage to the town and region’s proud pastoral heritage. For the main northwestern facade, eCV Principal Claudio Vekstein turned to the region’s traditional forms; during the harvest season, farmers would pile their corn bags into hillock-scale mounds as a testament of collective pride in their work. Approaching the memorial from the southern border of the town, Vekstein achieves a material and symbolic bridge to the past with a vast canvas of an “insistent, alternating and syncopated relief of bags” formed out of epoxy resin,
Brought to you with support fromLocated in the heart of staid Washington, D.C., SHoP Architects' 14-story Midtown Center establishes a prominent presence with a contorting copper-and-glass facade and a trio of sky bridges. Opened in September 2018, the one-million-square-foot project stands on the site of the former headquarters of The Washington Post.
copper facilitates a stylistic link between Midtown Center and its historic surroundings, the metallic surface is also performative. The copper accretions are oriented toward the direction of the sun, reducing internal glare and solar heat. Each panel is clipped to the facade system with formed stainless steel angles and pop rivets. The three sky bridges that crisscross above the courtyard echo the use of copper as an exterior detail; approximately 350 vertical fins, two inches wide and five inches deep, line the skyways. Although the fins function as a brise-soleil for the suspended corridors, their primary effect is visual. A rich turquoise rhythm reflects off of the courtyard’s glass modules while ribs create a matrix of shadows below. The fins themselves are bolted to a substructure rail that is held three inches off of the glass by horizontal mullions running across the top and bottom of the sky bridges. To clad the bulk of the enclosure system, SHoP Architects turned to Spanish glass-fabricator Tvitec. For the 4,500 facade panels, the fabricator used Ipawhite low-iron glass subjected to multiple thermal coatings to ensure visibility while meeting thermal control standards. At the ground level, SHoP Architects collaborated with SCAPE to design the publicly accessible 15,000-square-foot courtyard. According to SHoP Founding Principal Gregg Pasquarelli, the design team "took inspiration from Washington's original master plan to create a building that allows the public to angle strategically across the site." Diagonal paths cut through the building, past sunken granite fountains and plots of landscaping.Built according to a U-shaped layout, the street-facing elevations are defined by sawtooth protrusions on the curtain wall. The projections ripple across the elevation, originating from two corners of the facade and softening toward the center. Each of these three-dimensional units that hang off of the structure’s rectangular mass share a standard width of 5 feet and a height of up to 10 feet. While the use of a traditional material such as
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.
For those who want to take in history, design, and nightlife, Berlin is the place. Visiting and want to take in some of the sights and sounds? Or on a trip for the Bauhaus centennial? The city has something to offer everyone, and AN has compiled a list of what those with design on the brain should check out. The Chipperfield Kantine Joachimstrasse 11 10119 Berlin Mitte Rosenthaler Platz The office of English architect David Chipperfield is inside of a converted piano factory in Mitte. The redbrick building sits behind a spare, bright white courtyard where the architect has designed a beautifully detailed concrete box that also houses the restaurant Kantine. A reasonably priced menu of fresh local products served on spare Chipperfield-designed tableware—it is the best lunch spot in the city. Trouvé Schwedter Strasse 9 10119 Berlin trouve-berlin.de This store is a fantasyland of objects for architects and designers. Its owners, Michel Vincenot and Sabine Riedel, source lighting, seating, storage, tables, and graphics by preeminent European designers of the 20th century: Carlo Scarpa, Gio Ponti, Achille Castiglioni, Christian Dell, and German designers from the Bauhaus. This Wilhelm Wagenfeld glass tea service is 200 euros (approximately $233). Hotel Oderberger Oderberger Strasse 57 10435 Berlin hotel-oderberger.berlin A Neo-Renaissance-style hotel over a 19th-century public swimming pool makes this a very Berlin experience. It’s reasonably priced, and surrounded by cafes, bars, the trendy shopping street Kastanienallee, and Mauerpark. The park is also a unique “free park” where all sorts of public gatherings go on through the night, and the grass is untended, as Berliners don’t want chemicals used to maintain any public landscape. Topography of Terror topographie.de Berlin has multiple reminders of its fraught and charged history. Peter Eisenman’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum are powerful design statements, but equally powerful and less well known is the Topography of Terror Museum. On the site of what was once the headquarters of the Nazi Secret State Police, SS, and Reich Security, it was designed in 2010 by Ursula Wilms and landscape architect Heinz Hallmann. It is a truly frightening architectural experience. The Paris Bar Kantstrasse 152 10623 Berlin parisbar.net A bright red neon sign over the entrance announces The Paris Bar, the legendary Charlottenburg late night art bar. Its walls are covered with art from its regular patrons. Several years ago, it had to auction off its Martin Kippenberger for $3 million to pay back taxes. It’s the Odeon of Berlin, and its steak frites are the best in the city—but unlike its New York counterpart, it can’t make a decent martini. Pauly Saal at Jewish School for Girls Auguststrasse 11–13 10117 Berlin paulysaal.com maedchenschule.org Alexander Beer was the chief architect for the Jewish community of Berlin, and in 1927 he designed a girls’ school at Auguststrasse 11-13 in Mitte. It is a rare example of the modernist Neue Sachlichkeit style, with beautifully crafted materials. The school was eventually closed, Beer died in a concentration camp, and the building was confiscated by the government. The school was repurposed in 2012 as the Center for Art and Dining Culture, which is open to the public. Besides art galleries, it holds a New York delicatessen, Mogg & Melzer, and the pricey but excellent Pauly Saal Restaurant.
Facades+ Boston will dive into the materials and methods transforming facade design
On November 9, Facades+ is headed to Boston for a full-day conference. The conference features a range of facade specialists and manufacturers, ranging from stone fabricator Quarra Stone to Boston's very own designLAB Architects. Chris O'Hara, founding principal of Studio NYL, and Rishi Nandi, associate at Perkins + Will, are co-chairing the event. With decades of experience across the globe, both firms have been recognized with design awards for their advanced enclosure systems and finely executed architectural preservation projects. To learn more about what the two practices are up, AN interviewed the two co-chairs on the complexities of architectural preservation, environmental performance, and digital fabrication. The Architect's Newspaper: Both Perkins + Will and Studio NYL have been involved in numerous preservation projects. Could you expand on the difficulties of bringing historic structures up to contemporary standards, blending new design elements with the old, and the opportunities present with these projects? Rishi Nandi: The revitalization of historic buildings is challenging but pays great dividends. These buildings often represent something well beyond the program they house to their communities. Approaching the projects in a manner that is responsive to the neighborhood’s needs is critical since the structures often embody the resilience and stability of the communities they are embedded within. The most difficult part of any restoration is making sure the improvements you are making do not have any unintended consequences. For instance, many historic structures breathe differently than today's facade systems. This becomes a significant issue when one considers improving the performance of the envelope through insulation and air barriers. Understanding the hygrothermal properties of the walls is critical to ensure that potential compromising events like freeze-thaw do not occur. Matching old with new is also critical. We simply do not make component pieces the same way they were when many of these buildings were built. For example, no one is field fitting and assembling windows on site to conform to glazing dimensions that are all slightly off. The good news is that mass manufacturing is changing rapidly and customization options that did not exist in the 1980s have proliferated. We are often now able to work with fabricators in a hands-on way to create matching components that can replace those that we have to. By this, I mean that the first option in our approach is to rehabilitate as much as we can. Some of this is driven by the aesthetic. The majority of this, however, is driven by the consideration that the reuse of the existing structure and envelope has a significant environmental and social benefit. In these scenarios, we are able to keep intact the community's connection to the identity of the structure while significantly reducing the carbon footprint of the building through the reduction of primary materials. Chris O'Hara: Existing and historic buildings are a fantastic challenge. As we are always discussing sustainability, and it generally focuses on energy performance and recycled materials, it pales in response to what we can do by saving the embodied energy of an existing structure and breathing new life into it. Taking that existing structure that is either of an age where insulation was not considered and thermal comfort was managed through thermal mass and passive means, and mixing it with modern mechanical systems relying on a reduction of air exchanges–or worse yet a building designed with modern mechanical systems but an ignorance of envelope due to cheap energy–requires more analyses and more clever solutions. Management of the thermal performance of the existing building while trying to take advantage of the systems' drying potential is fun. Getting these buildings to perform at a high level is likely the most good we can do as a facade designer. What do you currently perceive to be the most exciting trends in facade design that boost environmental performance? RN: There are a lot of great products on the market including nanogel insulations, fiber reinforced polymer (FRP), and advances in glazing. That being said, as an architect, I have a tough time understanding the environmental impact of our products. We need better data from manufacturers that tell us clearly the waste stream. We need to know how much water is being used to make the products. Manufacturers should be required to help us better understand the life cycle carbon footprint of the products we are using. This information should be mandatory and should be directly influencing the way we make product selections and decisions. We can then have a more informed discussion on environmental impacts and, hopefully, then come up with a strategy on how to begin to address the concerns addressed within the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s most recent report. CH: Fiber reinforced polymers (FRP) and vacuum insulated systems. For the FRP, our ability to more cost-effectively thermally break and structure our faces with nearly thermally inert materials opens up possibilities in how we build. Vacuum insulated glass and vacuum sealed nanogel insulation are offering the ability to drastically improve our system U values while thinning down our assemblies. Although these technologies are still new to the market and come with a cost, like all other advances we have seen in the last 20 years or so I expect that cost to come down as we find how to use these systems more efficiently. Digital fabrication offers incredible possibilities for the mass production of individual facade components. In your experience, how is this technology reshaping the industry and your projects in particular? RN: Technology is reshaping our approach. Digital fabrication workflows are being created that are beginning to bridge the gap between documentation and fabrication. Working from a common platform has a number of benefits including allowing for a more detailed conversation on material applications and efficiencies. Robotics and digital printing allow us to create the right responsive materials that maximize the material return while minimizing waste. This increased communication is pushing more and more early involvement from manufacturers. We have employed modified delivery methods such as the integrated design process and design assist to help engage fabricators earlier to better our designs, drive a level of cost certainty and work within proprietary systems that help minimize team risk. The result is a blurring of traditional lines. The next step to me is a disruption in the way we work. We are already starting to see it with companies like Katerra, who with their digital platform are looking for ways to deliver entire projects at all phases from design to construction completion using prefabricated components and an integrated approach not yet seen by the industry. It will be interesting to see how things develop over the next 15 years and the types of efficiencies that may be gained and what it means for the way we all work and deliver projects. CH: The use of digital fabrication seems to have found its way into most of our current enclosure projects, although the aesthetic is not always driven by the technology. We have found that the speed and precision it affords makes it an important part of our toolbox. Whether it is used for an elaborate cladding geometry or for the precise fabrication of repeated parts, it has really opened up the possibilities of what we can achieve while still being conscious of the parameters of schedule and cost. To do this the designer needs to understand the craft that goes into this work. Many do not understand that even with the technologies available there is still craft. The difference between this and a carpenter is simply what is in the tool belt. Further information regarding the conference can be found here.
Detroit's Tall Tale
Detroit to host Michigan’s tallest building at former Hudson’s site
The former Hudson's site at 1206 Woodward Avenue in Detroit will soon be host to Michigan’s tallest building. Designed by SHoP Architects, the development will top off at 912 feet, tying One Prudential Plaza in Chicago for the title of the 32nd tallest building in the United States. Previously expected to rise to only 800 feet, the structure will be a full 200 feet taller than the Renaissance Center, Detroit’s current tallest. SHoP’s newly released design drawings feature a stepped tower, scrapping the previous plans for an observation deck. “Stepping allows for terraces for amenities and possible hospitality spaces," said Bill Sharples of SHoP Architects on the updated plans. "The addition of new programming in the latest iteration of the design allowed us as architects and designers to break down the scale of the tower even further, and to approach it even more holistically, something we have been conscious of since the beginning of the project." The 1.4 million square foot development, which includes a twelve-story podium structure in addition to the tower, will be mixed use. The podium will house office, event, and exhibition space, while the tower will house hotel and residential units. Seven hundred parking spaces will be located within an underground garage. The development intends to link retail on Woodward Avenue with cultural destinations near the Detroit Public Library. Bedrock LLC was chosen as the developer in 2013 via an invited completion to study the potential to develop the former site of the flagship J.L. Hudson department store, and the firm has developed the site along with SHoP and Hamilton Anderson Associates of Detroit. The project will be partially financed through tax breaks to Bedrock via the Michigan Strategic Fund, as well as the MIThrive Initiative. The structure intended for the Hudson's site is one of four in the works for Bedrock that will be working with these programs. Built in stages from 1911 to 1946, the Hudson's flagship building on Woodward Avenue was once the tallest department store in the world at 25 stories. The store closed in 1983 and the building was demolished in 1998. A portion of the basement of the original structure was used for parking at the site until Bedrock broke ground on the new structure in December 2017. The new structure is not expected to show any verticality for another fourteen months.
New Kind of Winner
AIA Baltimore presents inaugural Social Equity award
Last week, AIA Baltimore presented the inaugural Social Equity Design Award to Cho Benn Holback + Associates (CBH), a Quinn Evans Architects company (QEA), in recognition of their design for the Dorothy I. Height Elementary School in West Baltimore. The architects renovated an existing building and designed an addition to accommodate the merging of two area elementary schools and create a new actor for the community. The new award was created in collaboration with the Neighborhood Design Center (NDC), a nonprofit group that traces its origin back to a speech given by civil rights leader Whitney M. Young Jr. at the 1968 AIA National Convention. Young’s fiery wake-up call, which challenged architects to embrace diversity and social responsibility to improve American cities, was heeded by a group of Baltimore designers who formed the NDC to help neighborhoods rebuild after the riots. Today, the organization facilitates collaborations between area residents, architects, government officials, and other stakeholders to improve neighborhoods through community-led design and planning. Cho Benn Holback + Associates' winning project was selected based on its alignment with NDC’s belief that good design can create healthier and more just communities, and that everyone deserves good design. Initiated as part of the $1 billion 21st Century Schools Building Project, Height Elementary is a truly collaborative effort between architect, client, and community. The architects immediately engaged with the students, faculty, and nearby residents, learning about their needs, values, and aspirations through meetings, workshops, and good old-fashioned door-knocking. They maintained this dialogue throughout the design and development process, and the feedback they received had an immediate and profound effect on the building’s design. An existing auditorium, for example, would likely have been demolished had the school not expressed their appreciation for the arts and their need for large gathering spaces. The desire for spaces shared by the school and the surrounding community was another common sentiment among those surveyed. In response, the architects created a “town square” in front of the school and a public park in back; inside, in addition to flexible classrooms that promote different types of teaching, they designed spaces for social outreach programs. The jury, comprising architect Leon Bridges, FAIA, NDC Executive Director Jennifer Goold, and Jessica Solomon, senior program officer of the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, highlighted the building’s engagement with the greater community as one of the primary reasons for awarding the prize. The Social Equity Design Award recognizes the current sea-change happening in architecture. More and more, professionals are beginning to question how and why projects are recognized and celebrated. Every prize stirs up debate about the purpose of the professional the values and behaviors we want to uphold as paragons of the profession. What is the purpose of architecture? What’s at stake? Who does it serve? In the case of the Dorothy I. Height Elementary School, that answer is clear: it serves the community of West Baltimore.
Arkansas to get a 28,000 square-foot “reptile garden”
Hot Springs, Arkansas, a town of just 37,000 most famous for its namesake hot springs, is getting an unusual new attraction: a 28,000 square-foot indoor reptile garden. The habitat, the brainchild of local business owner Dennis Magee, will feature a snake house with local non-venomous and venomous snakes, as well as, according to the local Arkansas Democrat Gazette, “examples of the larger and more interesting snakes that are found around the world.” It will also feature all variety of lizards, crocodiles, alligators, and turtles, curated by a herpetologist with the Little Rock Zoo and another from the United Kingdom. It will also have various birds, to be overseen by a retired lawyer and the former president of the Arkansas Falconer’s Club. The expansive indoor zoo, designed by Rico Harris of Harris Architects, will also feature a “Boa Bar,” “Gator Lounge,” and, of course, a gift shop. The date for breaking ground is still unannounced.
The developers behind the much-anticipated "Nassau Hub" have laid out a time frame to begin the project's first phase of construction after nearly 20 years of political disputes, project delays, and a series of prolonged lawsuits. According to Newsday, Brett Yormark, CEO of BSE Global, and Scott Rechler, CEO of RXR Realty, announced plans to secure community support, legislative approval, and state funding for their grand residential and commercial district surrounding NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum in Hempstead, Long Island in New York State. The $1.5 billion project aims to transform 72 acres of vacant land into one of Nassau’s busiest and trendiest neighborhoods. Yormack and Rechler hope to fast-track the project through this updated timeline and begin construction at the end of next year. The pair also revealed plans for two new hotels on the property adjacent to the recently renovated, 615-room Long Island Marriott and the existing arena. Once complete, the contemporary village, as the architects dubbed it, will be a place where people can live, work, and explore. Rechler was involved in two previous failed attempts to redevelop the massive site, but he still believes extensive community outreach will bring his goals to fruition. He and Yormark plan to hold meetings with prominent business owners, civic groups, local mayors, religious institutions, and school districts in order to secure the critical funds and support needed to propel the project in the right direction. “This process is designed to succeed,” Rechler said in an interview with Newsday. “We are accepting the [Town of Hempstead’s] low-density zoning and are flexible with the community. This is not a ‘take it or leave it’ strategy.” Like Rechler, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has urged lawmakers to move quickly to approve the amended proposal, believing that the Hub’s mix of retail, entertainment, and research centers will attract visitors from throughout the region and from all walks of life. “This is going to be an incredibly transformative project,” Curran told Newsday. “We drive by this property every day and see nothing but empty space. But this development will change this empty district into a place where people can shop, live, work, and go out to dinner.” The developers say the Nassau Hub will not only socially transform the derelict property surrounding the arena, but it will also have a substantial impact on the economic development of the region. With the addition of parking garages, new medical and research buildings, high-end hotels, and a variety of food and entertainment options, the Nassau Hub is meant to revitalize the county for decades to come. County lawmakers could potentially vote on these latest plans by December. Yormack and Rechler hope to break ground on construction late next year.
Los Angeles architects develop their own speculative residential projects
As real estate prices continue to climb, Los Angeles’s notoriously slow and combative building approval process shows no signs of letting up. In response, a growing set of L.A.-area architects have begun to embrace the idea of developing their own projects in-house as a way of taking charge of—and ultimately, profiting from—the production of architecture. L.A. and New York City-based FreelandBuck, for example, recently completed work on a 2,200-square-foot speculative house in L.A.’s Mount Washington neighborhood. FreelandBuck partnered with L.A.-based developer Urbanite Homes for the hillside project, which contains a rental income–producing Accessory Dwelling Unit to make the hefty price point more palatable to potential buyers. According to the architects, the development partnership provided some wiggle room on the design that might not have been possible had they been hired as conventional designers. As a result, the architects were able to take risks with materiality by wrapping the four-story building in decontextualized board-and-batten siding. The freedom extended to the interiors of the home as well, where the ground floor areas are carved up into a series of discrete and complimentary rooms. This envelope-pushing effort is mirrored nearby in the hills above Highland Park, where John Southern, principal at Urban Operations, has developed a handful of speculative single-family homes that encapsulate the architect’s form-forward design aesthetic. A 2,400-square-foot residence at 4752 Baltimore is designed around staggered floor plates in order to maximize outdoor space on the tight hillside lot. The downslope-facing house skews in elevation to best align with the site’s winning views, which are matched by large format skylights. The architect-led development not only yields a more formally interesting home, but also creates opportunities for the designer to imbue what would normally be a hurried, one-size-fits-all commission with lightness, generously proportioned rooms, and interlocking spaces. Workplays Studio* Architecture, on the other hand, wears the hybrid architect-developer hat in order to create a live/work unit that acts as “an experiment in living on commercial corridors.” For their Pico Live/Work project, the architects added a single-family residence above an existing storefront. By linking the two levels with a courtyard entry and positioning a street-facing workshop in opposition to the home, the project approaches an alternative to conventional mixed-use development as it is normally practiced in the region. Not only that, but the design is developed at a project scale modest enough to be undertaken by a small team, a far cry from the anonymous, big-block developments that have drawn so much community ire in recent years.