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Changing Leaves

Amid explosive change, L.A.'s Exposition Park seeks new master plan
The Office of Exposition Park Management, a state-run outfit that oversees Los Angeles's Exposition Park, has released an RFP seeking master planning services for the 160-acre expanse as a slew of forthcoming, large-scale projects foreshadow gentrification for the 108-year-old park. The RFP—accessible via California's state procurement page here—will generate the park’s first master plan since 1993, a process that launched the CO Architects- and Mia Lehrer + Associates-led renovation and expansion of the Natural History Museum and its grounds, among other projects. According to officials, the 1993 Master Plan has been mostly completed and now, as transformative projects like the MAD Architects–designed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and Gensler-designed Los Angeles Football Club stadium come closer to reality, it is time to launch a new vision for one of L.A.’s most storied parks. In a press release, Fabian Wesson, Chairwoman of the California Science Center and Exposition Park Board of Directors explained, “We are very excited about crafting a 360-degree plan for Exposition Park,” adding that park directors sought a plan that “acknowledges the dynamic fabric of [the] community” while also accommodating the slew of new uses and structures being added to the park. Exposition Park and the neighborhoods around it have seen the beginnings of large-scale change and gentrification in recent years, as Downtown Los Angeles's residential and entertainment-fueled building boom spreads south and west from the city center. Downtown’s southwest corner—home to the L.A. Live complex, Los Angeles Convention Center, and soon, over 20 new luxury hotel and condo high-rises—is currently a sea of construction cranes. The Expo Line light rail that connects the financial and entertainment districts downtown to Santa Monica runs along Exposition Park’s northern boundary and opened in 2012. Next door, the University of Southern California putting the finishing touches on its $700 million USC Village project, which is scheduled for a Fall 2017 opening. As a result of these changes, there is a fear that the mostly-working class areas around the park will be gentrified, as the influx of blockbuster building projects spreads over and around the neighborhood. There are concerns that the new marquee projects—the Lucas Museum and soccer stadium, especially—are fundamentally changing and essentially-privatizing the character of the public park. Those new uses are not effectively taking up existing open space—the Lucas Museum is poised to add 11 acres of planted areas to what is currently a collection of surface parking lots while the LAFC Stadium is taking the place of the recently-demolished, Welton Becket–designed L.A. Memorial Sports Arena. The new structures, however, will add a heavy commercial element to a park brimming with museums like the California African American Museum, the California Science Center, and other amenities like the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Shrine Auditorium. A mandatory pre-proposal conference is scheduled for Wednesday, May 24, 2017, for those seeking to respond to the RFP. The RFPs will be due on June 16, 2017.
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Episode III

New details emerge for L.A.'s Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

The board of directors for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (LMNA) recently chose Los Angeles as the latest—and potentially final—site for its troubled museum proposal.

The decision marks the third attempt by the LMNA museum board to find a location for the nearly $1 billion museum—resulting in multiple design schemes by MAD Architects. The LMNA will house a growing and expansive collection of graphic art, including works by Zaha Hadid, Edgar Degas, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, among others.

MAD Architects’ initial designs for a site north of San Francisco were rebuffed in 2015 after community outcry. The LMNA team made a try for a site in Chicago in 2016, only to eventually scrap the plans in the face of fierce opposition to the project’s proposed location on the Chicago’s lakefront by a local community group. Most recently, LMNA’s board made parallel pitches for two sites in California: one on San Francisco’s Treasure Island and another in L.A.’s Exposition Park.

L.A. won out this round, gaining another cultural amenity for a site already home to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, California African American Museum, California Science Center, and the Museum of Natural History of Los Angeles County. The new museum, if built, will also be located along the city’s Expo Line light rail line, and will help—along with a forthcoming Gensler-designed Los Angeles Football Club soccer stadium—extend a leg of transit-oriented development from a growing entertainment and hotel district in the South Park neighborhood nearby to one of L.A.’s core working class neighborhoods.

In announcing its decision, the Lucas Foundation’s board of directors extolled the virtues of the urban park and its surrounding neighborhood, saying in a statement: “While each location offers many unique and wonderful attributes, South Los Angeles’s Promise Zone best positions the museum to have the greatest impact on the broader community, fulfilling our goal of inspiring, engaging, and educating a broad and diverse visitorship.”

In an effort to preserve the park’s green spaces, the selected scheme will include public open space on its rooftop. Renderings for the proposal show the curvaceous museum located in a leafy, park setting topped with tufts of greenery. The museum also appears to gingerly touch the ground by coming down in a series of large, discrete piers.

It’s still unclear what sorts of developmental hurdles the museum will need to surpass prior to construction, but the project clearly has a fan in L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who after learning of the decision, remarked to the Los Angeles Times, “It’s a natural place to have this museum in the creative capital of the world and in the geographic center of the city. It’s a banner day for L.A.”

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Audi Field

D.C. United stadium approved, despite design "disappointment"
On February 16, D.C. United was granted approval by the D.C. Zoning Commission for the construction of Audi Field, the MLS team's new $300 million stadium designed by stadia specialists Populous and local practice Marshall Moya Design. On February 27, this coming Monday, ground will break on-site at Half Street at 3 p.m. The process, however, hasn't all been smooth sailing. Although the five-member committee was unanimous in their decision, zoning commissioners Peter May and Michael Turnbull were reluctant in doing so. "I still do feel like this application left something to be desired," said May. "I am still disappointed in the design. It has been a disappointment all the way through. I hope it turns out better than expected." The stadium will be built at Buzzard Point near the Anacostia River. The site was determined four years ago, but issues raised by the Buzzard Point advisory neighborhood commission and the D.C. Department of Transportation induced delays. Problems relating to public space, retail, parking, and the environment were ironed out in December when the design went before commissioners; the stadium was then awarded prior approval at the time. Even then, however, Commission Chairman Anthony Hood remarked that "major work" was still required with regard to transport in and around the site. In response to neighborhood concerns, the soccer team will donate $50,000 to non-profit organization Breathe DC for the purchase of air purifiers, as well as put in place a bike sharing facility with parking for 447 bicycles. 500,000 square feet (total) of retail space is also now part of the development. Plans, though, are yet to be finalized for parking and traffic management when D.C.'s baseball team, the Washington Nationals, play a few blocks down the road. Aside from the concerns, Audi Field is due to open in 2018. The new stadium will boast a capacity of 20,000 and offer 31 luxury suites. The arena is set to host numerous sporting and cultural events, community activities, and concerts. "We are extremely excited to break ground on this site, a project that has been 21 years in the making," said Jason Levien, United managing partner. "Since Erick [Thohir] and I assumed stewardship in 2012 we’ve been on a mission to deliver to our fans and this community a new, permanent home." D.C. United currently play at the RFK Stadium, the area around of which is the focus of OMA's New York office for a major upheaval. The estimated $500 million proposal includes three ballfields (two for baseball, one for youth soccer), a 350,000-square-foot recreation and sports complex, and a 47,000-square-foot market selling groceries and concessions.
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Play Ball

Detroit citizens take preservation into their own hands to save a historic Negro League stadium

Automobiles and baseball: Not much else is more American. And Detroit has been defined by both for the last 100 years. Notably, Detroit was one of the most important cities in the negro baseball leagues of the first half of the 20th century. Hamtramck, a town surrounded by the city of Detroit, is home to one of the last remaining Negro League stadiums, along with Birmingham, Alabama, Paterson, New Jersey, and Indianapolis, Indiana. Now, after years of neglect, the Hamtramck Stadium may see America’s favorite pastime once again.

It all started six years ago when a group of baseball-loving Detroiters decided to save, at the very least, the memory of Navin Field. Located in the Corktown neighborhood, Navin Field was home of the Detroit Tigers from 1912 through 1999. Despite being a Michigan Historic Site and on the National Register of Historic Places, the field was razed in 2009. The land was quickly overgrown and, as a result, the Navin Field Grounds Crew was founded. After repeatedly being chased off by the police, the NFGC eventually convinced the city to maintain the diamond on the site of the old stadium.

The NFGC is made up of volunteers and is funded completely out of the pockets of those volunteers. Even so, the crew has been out at the Navin Field diamond most Sundays for the last six years. Now they are taking on a new challenge, revitalizing the Hamtramck Stadium. As with Navin Field, the crew plans to roll out their personal lawn mowers and rakes, and get to work this spring.

The difference this time is that the NFGC won’t be alone its efforts. In January, the National Parks Service announced a $50,000 African American Civil Rights Grant for the redevelopment the stadium. Even before that, a new group, Friends of the Hamtramck Stadium, was making plans to raise funds this coming summer to repair the stadium’s grandstand. 

Built in 1930, the Hamtramck Stadium was home to the Detroit Stars and Detroit Wolves throughout the 1930s. The site of the 1930 Negro National League Championship Series, the stadium saw its share of famous baseball players, including Satchel Paige and Cool Papa Bell. The stadium was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012. Currently, the stadium is in the configuration that was established in the 1970s. The main remaining structure, a large grandstand, has not been used since the 1990s.

Like Navin Field, the hope is to bring baseball back to the neighborhood. As originally built, the Hamtramck Stadium could hold upward of 8,000 spectators. Much of the grandstand is original, but over the years it has been reduced from its original size and is now able to hold about 1,500 spectators.

The stadium wouldn’t be the first in Hamtramck to be revitalized. Last year the Detroit City FC soccer team redeveloped the Keyworth Stadium, bringing another classic civic space back to life. In a time when nearly $2 billion is being spent in Detroit’s downtown to build the Little Caesars Arena and entertainment district, Detroiters are demonstrating what they really value with their lawn mowers and weekends.

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Keeping it Reel

The best architectural films from this year's Sundance/Slamdance
The annual ritual of the Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals that take place simultaneously in Park City, Utah in January have just concluded. Here’s a rundown of films where architecture and design are featured characters. Watch out for these titles as are they are released. (Note: All films were screened at Sundance, unless otherwise noted.) Columbus is set in this Indiana town that has become a modernist architectural mecca (and is the birthplace of V.P. Mike Pence). The Cummins Engine Company, then run by J. Irwin Miller II, initiated a program where the company paid architects’ fees for public buildings in this small town (population 44,000 in the last census) if selected from a designated list, yielding buildings from architects like Eliel and Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Roche-Dinkeloo, Robert Venturi, César Pelli, Richard Meier, and Harry Weese. A magnet for architects to visit, the plot begins when a notable Korean architect is in town to deliver a lecture, only to collapse at the Miller House (Eero Saarinen, architect; Alexander Girard, interiors; Dan Kiley, landscape) in the opening scene. A young woman, Casey (Haley Lu Richardson), who grew up in Columbus and works in the library (I.M. Pei, architect), has come to love the architecture, unlike her peers, who barely seem to notice. Casey says of Columbus, “Meth and modernism are really big here” to the Korean architect’s estranged son, Jin (John Cho), who has come to be with his now-comatose father. She takes him around Columbus, often at night, to show him the architecture that moves her. She also tells him that she met architect Deborah Berke when she delivered a lecture in town—Berke designed the Columbus’s Irwin Union Bank in 2006 as well as a building for Cummins in Indianapolis in 2017—who encouraged Casey to go to the University of New Haven, audit her class at Yale (where Berke is now dean) and intern at her office in New York. Casey even quotes Jim Polshek about the healing power of the built form. In the film, architecture symbolizes hope for the future, a utopian vision. The director, Kogonada, made his name as a film critic and maker of “supercuts,” short online videos on cinema history. (See his website for “Kubrick’s One-Point Perspective,” “Auteur in Space” and “Mirrors of Bergman.”) Abstract: The Art of Design is a new series premiering on Netflix on February 10. Each of the eight episodes focuses on a designer—Bjarke Ingels (architect), Christoph Niemann (illustrator), Es Devlin (stage designer), Ilse Crawford (interior designer), Paula Scher (graphic designer), Platon (photographer), Ralph Gilles (automobile designer) and Tinker Hatfield (Nike shoe designer)—all chosen by Scott Dadich, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine. The one shown at Sundance was on Niemann and directed by Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom, Best of Enemies). The question arises: Is the designer the filmmaker? Is the film about the maker or made by him or her? By taking us inside Niemann’s head and processes with clever animation, they are clearly partners. The title “abstract” refers to taking meaning down to the essence, like Niemann’s explanations with Legos—yellow for a New York City taxi, or several configurations to explain a nuclear family from different members’ point of view, or his many New Yorker covers including one of Donald Trump in U.S. flag motif. Slamdance presented Aerotropolis, whose title refers to an ambitious urban development project for Taoyuan, a city in northwestern Taiwan, as a major transportation hub for airplanes and ships. However, it has been a bust with an incomplete airport subway link, unaffordable luxury properties laying empty, land sold at wildly inflated prices, and thousands of displaced residents, all accompanied by conflicts of interest and corruption scandals involving government officials overseeing the project. Allen (Yang Chia-lun) has invested all his inheritance in real estate hoping to cash in on the market bubble created by the Aerotropolis project. But his scheme is a failure as he is unable to find buyers. Although he owns a luxury property, in order to keep it pristine for potential buyers, Allen essentially lives like a homeless person, sleeping in his car and using public restrooms at the airport. The web series Gente-fied (executive produced by America Ferrara) depicts slices of life in a gentrifying L.A. neighborhood, Boyle Heights, with stories of those struggling with (and adapting to) the changes brought by affluent people moving in and long-term, less-affluent residents facing displacement. The series tries to humanize the issues. In the first vignette, Chris has a taco shop. Mexicans won't buy $3 tacos because they’re too expensive, while whites say the food is so authentic, it’s like they were kidnapped by a cartel. Chris is given a “Mexican” test by his cousin and elders. Another story depicts Ana, who paints a gay-themed mural on side of bodega for the supremely pleased, new white landlord—to the horror of the staff. Her attempts to appease the shopkeeper are rebuffed, as she fears the mural will scare away her regular customers. In the third, Pancho runs a bar. New customers want the bar to look like “Frida Kahlo threw up all over it.” The same white landlord (who owns the bodega) raises the rent repeatedly, and when the price doubles, Pancho gives up the bar and washes floors in a bodega with the mural. In the winner of the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Screenwriting, Pop Aye, Thana (Thaneth Warakulnukroh) is the once-praised architect of Gardenia Square, a 1990s landmark high-rise in Bangkok. Now that his boss’s son has taken over the firm and is replacing Gardenia with a sleek new skyscraper called Eternity (seen in a slick video), Thana is depressed. Now unkempt and out of place in his office, as well as an unwanted presence by his wife in his own modernist home with an interesting curved front gate and clean lines (complete with a Barcelona chair). He goes on an unexpected road trip with an elephant he believes to be from his childhood—they never forget—through the Thai countryside to his hometown where his childhood home has been sold to developers and replaced with a mundane apartment block. Another example of sleek development is shown in the Middle East in The Workers Cup, where construction workers from India, Kenya, Ghana, Nepal, Bangladesh, and the Philippines work in Qatar to build the 2022 FIFA World Cup Stadium. We see the work camps where they live, the luxury shopping centers they have built (but cannot enter after they open to the public at 10:00 a.m.), and their arduous construction sites. We follow a group who participate in a corporate-sponsored “workers welfare” soccer tournament. The Nile Hilton Incident, which won the World Cinema Dramatic Grand Jury Prize, is set against the backdrop of Cairo in the days before the Tahrir Square uprising. A wealthy real estate developer of the “New Cairo” is mistakenly accused of the murder of his mistress in the upscale—yet still seedy—hotel of the title just off the square. As we follow Noredin (Fares Fares), a cop who is corrupt but has his limits, around the new and old cityscapes—from the Sudanese immigrant community to the palatial home of the developer—it’s like watching a Graham Green novel. Winner of Slamdance’s Narrative Feature Audience Award was Dave Made a Maze. During a weekend when his girlfriend, Annie (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) is away, Dave (Nick Thune) decides to build a cardboard fort in the living room; essentially, he is the architect of the maze. On her return, Annie speaks to the unseen Dave inside the maze, who tells her that he is lost inside. She calls a friend for help, who in turn calls a documentary filmmaker and other friends. When they enter, the world inside the maze is far bigger than what appears on the outside, with a seemingly unending string of puzzles and booby traps all cleverly brought to life through the use of cardboard, modest digital effects, and animation. The filmmakers assembled 30,000 square feet of cardboard to build full-scale sets for this fortress-like environment. After losing her job and boyfriend in New York due to binge drinking, Gloria (Anne Hathaway) moves back to her hometown to discover a strange connection with a monster attacking Seoul, South Korea in Colossal. When she moves, the monster moves. The plot is motivated by the child Gloria’s model of a town: skyscraper, tower, and bridge that is blown away, and then seemingly rescued by her friend Oscar, who then destroys it. As adults, alcohol makes Gloria and Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) into monsters who can destroy this far-off city with their actions. Berlin Syndrome portrays Australian architectural photographer Clare (Teresa Palmer), who is in Berlin shooting GDR buildings for a planned book. We see examples of her work and traverse the city with her until she meets a handsome English literature teacher, Andi (Max Riemelt), who shows her a Schrebergarten colony, miniature follies on the outskirts of the city with tiny gardens sprinkled with gnomes, windmills, and vegetation, used by middle-class Germans in the summer. He takes her back to his East German-era apartment building with central courtyard, which is largely abandoned except for him…where he then holds her hostage. In Rememory, Peter Dinklage plays an architectural model-maker turned sleuth. Chasing Coral, winner of the Audience Award: U.S. Documentary and coming to Netflix, shows how coral reefs are underwater cities and skyscrapers where life can flourish. Australia’s Great Barrier Reef on the Northeast coast of Australia is called "the Manhattan of the ocean.” However, the film charts how coral reefs are being imperiled by rising temperatures to their death, first by bleaching the coral white and then disintegrating. In 2016, more than 2/3 of the northern section of the Great Barrier Reef died. New Frontier is the Sundance section devoted to art and technology. The most interesting of the VR experiences were Heroes, Melissa Painter’s exploration of dancers in a movie palace and the historic Ace Hotel in downtown L.A., and Saschka Unseld’s Dear Angelica, which creates a drawn, magical universe where we explore loved ones who have died. Also of interest was Hue, an immersive environment of a color-blind man who we help to see color, and the installation Pleasant Places, which displayed Van Gogh’s Provence landscapes.  Films and Projects: Abstract: The Art of Design, Morgan Neville, director Aerotropolis, Li Jheng-neng, director/screenwriter Berlin Syndrome, Cate Shortland, director Chasing Coral, Jeff Orlowski, director - Colossal, Nacho Vigalondo, director Columbus, Koganada, director/screenwriter Dave Makes a Maze, Bill Watterson, director/co-screenwriter Dear Angelica, Saschka Unseld, director Gente-Fied, Marvin Lemus, director Heroes, Melissa Painter, director Hue, Nicole McDonald, KC Austin, Tay Strathairn, directors The Nile Hilton Incident, Tarik Saleh, director Pleasant Places, Quayola, director Pop Aye, Kirsten Tan, director/screenwriter Rememory, Mark Palansky, director/co-screenwriter The Worker Cup, Adam Sobel, director
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Going Uplands

Images revealed of Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 5
Images for the Pier 5 uplands project at Brooklyn Bridge Park have been unveiled by landscape design studio Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA). Construction started last year, but now renderings depict what Pier 5 will look like. Images depict a slender, eel-like grassy mound meandering lengthways through the 4.5-acre park. The project stretches out across Furman Street and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, acting as a sound barrier to ward off traffic noise. This will hopefully make the esplanade on the other side more peaceful. 17,000 square feet of green space will be added too, courtesy of a reworking of the Joralemon Street entrance. This new configuration will also link MVVA's work to the existing park and its seated waterfront area.  As of now, Pier 5's perimeter includes a 30-foot wide promenade that offers "magnificent views of lower Manhattan, Governors Island, and the New York Harbor." Promenade features also boast three viewfinders, one of which is ADA accessible. On the Furman Street side, further work will include a new entrance to Montague Street along with general pedestrian improvements. A boathouse, a horticulture lab, and more restrooms will be added too, with the former being used for park programs open to the public. Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates has also done work for Piers 1, 2, and 6. Though the uplands at Pier 5 currently holds an array of soccer, soccer, lacrosse, rugby, flag football, and ultimate frisbee fields, Interim President of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (BBPC) David Lowin said he aims for the area to be a "more restful counterpoint." The BBPC recently announced that the Pier 5 sports fields will be closed until Spring 2017. This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect’s Newspaper’s coverage of your area and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.
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Banc of California Stadium

New renderings revealed for Los Angeles Football Club stadium
The Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) and architects Gensler have revealed new renderings for the $250-million LAFC stadium in Los Angeles’s Exposition Park. The new renderings also showcase the stadium’s new name—the Banc of California Stadium—and provide a glimpse into the complex’s sleek interiors. The 22,000-seat stadium was approved by the Los Angeles City Council in 2016 and is now currently under construction. The structure is designed as an open-air stadium with steeply-raked and sweeping seating areas shaped around the field. That “European-style” arrangement, according to the architects, emphasizes fans’ experience of watching each match by putting the viewer in a closer relationship with the field and players. The complex will also include commercial and restaurant functions oriented toward the larger community. Renderings for the complex show generous pedestrian areas surrounding the main entry of the stadium as well as tree-lined paths leading to other attractions in the park. The stadium joins a growing number of new attractions coming to the urban park, including the recently-proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (LMNA) building designed by Chinese firm MAD Architects. The board of directors for the LMNA announced last week it was choosing Los Angeles as the location for its new museum. LAFC’s new stadium takes the place of the recently-demolished Welton Becket-designed L.A. Sports Arena, a structure built in 1959 that played host to the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers professional basketball teams as well as college basketball teams for University of Southern California and University of California, Los Angeles. The L.A. Sports Arena held its final event in March when Bruce Springsteen performed a sold-out concert there. The new stadium is expected to open for the 2018 soccer season. This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect’s Newspaper’s coverage of your area and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.
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Big Unboxing

JGMA overhauls a former Kmart for a progressive Chicago high school program

Before JGMA was given the job to design a new school for the Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep (CRSM), it was working with students and faculty in design charrettes. The high school was looking for a design and an architect as progressive as its approach to education, which endeavors to have students function at college level by the time they graduate. On top of offering typical coursework, CRSM matches students with corporations; the students work for the corporations and in turn the corporations sponsor them. Now, the school is hoping to have a campus that lives up to its academic ambitions.

The path to a state-of-the-art school has not necessarily been clear. Currently located in a building in desperate need of repair and updating, CRSM has had no room to expand—even after the school bought a nearby abandoned Kmart store. It took working with the JGMA team to realize a design that would transform the banal nature of a big-box structure into a cohesive campus.

One of the first and most difficult challenges of the project was to remove the stigma of the big box and its not-so-appealing suburban surroundings: Seas of parking lots, strip malls, and fast-food joints surround the site. So JGMA worked to break up the monotony of the vast concrete lot and sterile facade of the building. “These students are used to getting hand-me-down everything,” noted JGMA designer Katie LaCourt. “Their current building is a hand-me-down. Overcoming this stigma associated with the big box was one of our first concerns.”

The artificially lighted interior also needed to be addressed. This came in the form of the biggest and most visible move in the project: plans for three large cuts to be taken out of the roof and facade of the building. These cuts will bring light into and throughout the building, interrupting the visual form of the 120,000-square-foot structure. Playing on the Kmart’s original decorated shed form, a second facade will be draped over the building, giving it a completely different appearance and character. Additionally, the former parking lot at the front of the building will be covered by a soccer field, distancing the building further from its big-box roots.

The large cuts will also provide common areas between the teaching spaces to create the feeling of a campus rather than a single building. Outside of the building, the planned landscaping mirrors these cuts. Long paths will extend from the front and the back of the building to provide outdoor learning areas and connect a marsh to the campus.

Though on track to begin construction by early spring 2017, the conversion process is a long one. Working to accommodate the school and its students, JGMA has divided the project into three phases. The first phase will involve converting 50,000 square feet of the floor area and making two of the designed cuts. This will allow the current 375 students to move into the new space. When the second phase is complete, the entire building will have been converted, and the school will be able to expand to its goal of 500 students. The third and final stage will be the landscaping, which will complete the transformation to an educational campus.

JGMA’s conversion of this empty Kmart is not the first of its kind, but it is indicative of changes happening in many of America’s suburbs. Many big boxes across the country, which for numerous reasons have closed or moved into new spaces, have begun to be redeveloped. In a few notable examples, large stores have been converted into city libraries. In Eden Prairie, Minnesota, BTR Architects converted a former grocery store into the county’s public library; just as for the Cristo Rey project, light and large expansive spaces were issues that had to be addressed. Others have been converted into fitness centers and go-kart tracks, and one even became a Spam museum. These conversions have achieved varied levels of success and innovation. When complete, Cristo Rey will arguably be one of the most ambitious.

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Grid Ironed-Out

OMA reveals design for sports complex around RFK Stadium

Even if the Redskins keep their name and leave D.C., the city is taking steps to ensure the area around RFK Stadium offers ample space for residents to play, too.

Events D.C., the city's semi-independent convention and sports authority, has unveiled plans to replace the ocean of surface parking that fronts the soon-to-be-demolished stadium with recreation space and a food market. The whole scheme, pictured in the gallery above, is designed by New York–based OMA.

The estimated $500 million proposal includes three ballfields (two for baseball, one for youth soccer), a 350,000-square-foot recreation and sports complex, and a 47,000-square-foot market selling groceries and concessions. According to the Washington Post, the sports center will host bowling, go-kart, and video-game facilities; a memorial to Robert F. Kennedy will be installed nearby, as well. To tie the programming together, three pedestrian bridges will connect the site to Kingman and Heritage islands.

“The RFK Stadium Armory-Campus—currently under-utilized—is poised to be transformed into a vibrant place that connects D.C. to the Anacostia River," OMA partner Jason Long told the Washington Business Journal. "Working together with Events D.C., we have formulated a plan that strategically locates new facilities that will draw people to and through the site, while refining the vision for larger redevelopments in the years ahead.”

As the 190-acre site is owned by the federal government, federal and local agencies must approve the plan before any shovels hit the soil. Half of the project will be funded by Events D.C. while the city, hotel tax revenue, and team leases will pay for the rest.

Although the Redskins moved to the suburbs years ago, the team is scoping sites for a move—maybe to D.C., or maybe not, if the team refuses to change its racist name. Regardless, the D.C. Zoning Commission gave its initial blessings to the BIG-designed stadium last month, and the commission is expected to give its final okay for the project at its February meeting. Right now, Major League Soccer's (MLS) D.C. United plays at the stadium, and it will continue to play tournaments on-site until the new stadium is complete in 1–2 years.

This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect’s Newspaper’s coverage of your area and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.

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Episode III: Exposition Park

BREAKING: Los Angeles chosen as new site for MAD Architects' Lucas Museum
The Board of Directors for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts elected this afternoon to pursue Los Angeles as the latest site for their troubled museum proposal. The decision marks the third time the museum board has attempted to find a site for the $1 billion, MAD Architects-designed scheme. The firm's initial San Francisco proposal was rebuffed in 2015. The team made a try for a site in Chicago, only to scrap the plans in the face of fierce opposition to the project by a local community group known as Friends of The Park. Instead, Los Angeles's Exposition Park, home to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, California African American Museum, California Science Center, and the Museum of Natural History of Los Angeles County will now potentially host Lucas's namesake museum. The Los Angeles proposal was selected after the museum team made parallel pitches for a second site on San Francisco's Treasure Island and one in L.A.'s Exposition Park. The new museum, if built, will be located along the city’s Expo Line light rail line, within proximity of the forthcoming Gensler-designed Los Angeles Football Club soccer stadium, and would cap a park already brimming with global cultural and entertainment destinations. In announcing their decision, the Lucas Foundation's board of directors extolled the virtues of the urban park and its surrounding neighborhood, saying, "While each location offers many unique and wonderful attributes, South Los Angeles’s Promise Zone best positions the museum to have the greatest impact on the broader community, fulfilling our goal of inspiring, engaging and educating a broad and diverse visitorship." In an effort to preserve the green spaces of the park, the selected scheme will include public open space on its rooftop. Renderings for the proposal show the curvaceous museum located in a leafy, park setting topped with tufts of greenery. The museum also appears to gingerly touch the ground by coming down in a series of large, discrete piers. It's still unclear what sorts of developmental hurdles the museum will need to surpass prior to start construction, but the project clearly has a fan in L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti, who after learning of the decision, remarked to the Los Angeles Times, “It’s a natural place to have this museum in the creative capital of the world and in the geographic center of the city. It’s a banner day for L.A.” This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect’s Newspaper’s coverage of your area and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.
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Sebastian Marroquin

“Architecture saved my life”: Pablo Escobar’s son is a good architect now
Sebastian Marroquin grew up in Medellin, Colombia, as Juan Pablo Escobar, the son of legendary drug kingpin and leader of the Medellin Cartel, Pablo Escobar. As a kid, Marroquin enjoyed time at “Naples,” a 20-square-kilometer (eight-square-mile) ranch that included swimming pools and a zoo filled with millions of dollars’ worth of exotic animals. “I’ve never been to Michael Jackson’s Neverland ranch,” he told The Independent. “But I doubt it had anything on Naples.”  While accompanying his father for years evading the police and rival gangs, young Sebastian saw the perils and pitfalls of the criminal life and has since started a new life as a successful architect. Senior Editor Matt Shaw sat down with Marroquin to discuss his path to architecture, what he learned from his father, and what he hopes to accomplish for Colombia in the future. What do you think of shows like Narcos? I don’t like them. They are telling lies about my whole life. They don’t know anything about us and that’s for sure. They don’t even know who was my father’s favorite soccer team. Let’s focus on architecture. Architecture is more fun. This is the first interview of my life we are talking about architecture and not about my father. How did you get started in architecture? After my father’s death, my mother, my sister and I went to Mozambique at first and the idea was to stay there in Africa but we only stayed for five days. We couldn’t find any place to stay and study and there was no future for us there so then we decided to move to Argentina. I made the decision to be an architect when I was out of jail there. My mother was still in jail, and I was fighting very hard to set her free. I spent too many nights waiting for an answer from the Department of Justice in Argentina, and a lot of time passed and nothing happened, so I started to think about what I’m going to do. That is when I decided to study architecture. I studied at the University of Palermo in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Architecture saved my life because it gave me the possibility to believe that even when something is demolished new things can come out of that and architecture really helps to know how to think not only about architecture but also about life. What inspired you to choose architecture? My grandfather on my mother’s side was a woodworker. He made a lot of furniture and he was also a designer. Also on my father’s side, we have a lot of artists. Some of my aunts are really good at painting and making stuff with their hands and I believe that is where, in a way, I found love in design and architecture. It was also because my mother is an interior designer—in the past we had a lot of properties and a lot of buildings and my mother was involved in the design process, and I was always keeping an eye on that. So I liked what I saw. I liked the process of designing and these projects. I found architecture to be a refuge for me in those days that I didn’t have too much to do or think about, because we were waiting for the justice answer. I have really found very good and close friends inside the architectural world. I feel very passionate about…I really enjoy being part of the community. What kind of architectural projects do you do? I have two big mansions designed and built in Colombia, and one in Argentina. These are the places I have been working on. They are already finished. The houses are big, one is around 3,000 square meters (33,000 square feet), and the other is about 1,100 square meters (10,000 square feet). One of them even has a bakery in it. For the first house that I built in Colombia, I didn’t even know who the client was. It was a mystery. There was a request, and they sent me the photographs, the plans, the coordinates, and everything that I needed to design the house. I never went to the place where the house is built. I don’t even know where it exists. When it was complete, they called me and I found out that the owner was one of the guys who, in 1988, put 700 kilos of dynamite in my house. It was a miracle that we survived because I was with my mom and my little sister there. It was the first car bomb in Colombia’s history. So I built the house for the guy who ruined mine. It was a way for them to ask for forgiveness and in a way to understand us. They knew who I was from the beginning. It was weird and it was a clear opportunity and it was clear that a lot of things have changed in Colombia and that is a great example of how things have really changed now. People want to make peace. It affected me in a positive way. In this story in particular, through architecture, I found a way to complete my past. I ended up building a house for them. They gave me also the opportunity to be an architect because if I didn’t have that opportunity I wouldn’t have more photographs to show to other people so they can believe me as an architect. Today, I am designing a free, public wellness center and water therapy facility for a small town in Argentina. The workers and the families from the town were willing to give me a projec...a complex with a lot of pools and water for kids. It’s not a spa just for a few people; it is a big public place. I only did the design for it, however, because I’ve been working on my second book about my childhood and my father, so I had to leave the architecture for a couple of months to deliver this book if possible. How does your father’s legacy affect your career in architecture? Houses are not what I choose to do, but it’s not very common for me to get work as an architect because of my father and things like that. It doesn’t allow me to participate in architecture as much as I want. People know that I have talent as an architect but they want to choose some other guy without my father’s history. So it’s really difficult for me to find a job. We are finally working on a building that will be my first building in Colombia, in Medellin. I have a house here but I don't have a building yet. That’s where I plan to do the next building. In the past, I worked with very well known architects in Argentina. One of them is Roberto Busnelli and the other one is called Daniel Silberfaden. Roberto had a book published that featured his projects, including one that I brought to his office because it was big and he had a big studio that could realize the project. We won the competition and finished the project with the help of a European architect. When the book was published, my name was not on the project. They gave credit to the European architects who worked three days on it but forgot me. So I found out that maybe this is everywhere. It's a shame that people judge me because of my father’s past and not what I do or what I'm capable of. That’s one of the main barriers that I find every day as an architect. I don’t want to be a coke dealer. I know how to be a coke dealer, but I don't want to. I don’t want to be a millionaire again if I have to be paying my father’s debts. I have had the opportunity to pass on that, I don’t want to repeat that story. There is a lot to learn from the past and from my father’s story. Were you around when they were building La Catedral, the prison your father designed for himself? Did you ever see any of the construction of that as a kid and admire it? The construction guys sent my father updates of the construction of the La Catedral in the mail and I would see the men bring in the photographs and videos and instructions. From the beginning, a criminal building his own prison was very awkward because people got upset that it was happening in Colombia. But my father said, “This is a place where I want to be. This is a place where I’m going to be. This is the place where I’m going to be in prison. I’m going to pay for the designs and design how I’m going to escape from my own prison.” I believe that in a way my father was also an architect, he was very clever. He was just an architect for his own convenience. There was a Sunday my father took me to airplane fields and in the middle of the jungle, we were standing on the airfield and he asked me, “where is the airfield?” I couldn’t see it, and he said, “You are standing in it.” I couldn’t see it because I was looking at a house in the middle of the runway and there was no way the plane could land because it would crash against the house. He took a walkie-talkie and told one of his friends to move the house. It was on wheels. When the airplanes from the DEA (US Drug Enforcement Agency) were searching with satellites looking for hideouts, they couldn’t find anything because there was a house in the middle of what was a possible airfield. The planes can use it—just move the house. That’s why he was a great architect because when you visited the house, it worked. It had the bathrooms, the shower, everything. If the police went to the house, it would function perfectly. I believe that a lot of things from architecture I learned from my father and especially places to hide. He used architecture to hide. Is that what you do today? A lot of people ask me to do that because Colombia is not a safe country and people don’t trust banks, so every work of architecture I offer the client a possibility of "Do you want to have a secret place in your house like a panic room or something like that?" People say, “Yes, I would love to have the son of Pablo Escobar show us how to hide.” As the son of Pablo Escobar, I know how to hide! Your father built housing for the people living in slums. Is that something that affected the way you think about architecture? Yes, he wanted to make 5,000 units of free housing for the families who were living in a garbage dump in Medellin. In the early 80s, he built almost 1,000 houses and then the government, they were jealous and they seized all the land and stopped the project. That’s one of the reasons why my father started fighting against the establishment. They didn’t want him to help the poor. That encouraged me to think more and try to assist the people or Colombia, the poor people of Colombia. There are a lot of families that live in the country who don’t have lights or water in their houses. It is not about luxury, it is about dignity. I am doing a project to house the poor in Argentina, but I would love to do that in Colombia. What would you like to do next? I would love to something related to Colombia’s nature. We have a tremendous amount of green here in Colombia. We have a lot of jungle and a lot of beautiful places that are rarely seen. I would love to do a hotel that really respects the environment. We have a lot of paradise and I hope we can build some things like that if we have Colombia enjoying peace.
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Former Glory Regained

2016 Best of Design Award for Adaptive Restoration: The Cotton Gin at The Co-Op District by Antenora Architects
The Architect’s Newspaper (AN)’s inaugural 2013 Best of Design Awards featured six categories. Since then, it’s grown to 26 exciting categoriesAs in years past, jury members (Erik Verboon, Claire Weisz, Karen Stonely, Christopher Leong, Adrianne Weremchuk, and AN’s Matt Shaw) were picked for their expertise and high regard in the design community. They based their judgments on evidence of innovation, creative use of new technology, sustainability, strength of presentation, and, most importantly, great design. We want to thank everyone for their continued support and eagerness to submit their work to the Best of Design Awards. We are already looking forward to growing next year’s coverage for you. 2016 Best of Design Award for Adaptive Restoration: The Cotton Gin at The Co-Op District Architects: Antenora Architects Location: Hutto, TX

As part of a new master plan for this 16-acre former agricultural co-op site, two cotton gin buildings were adapted into an open-air public events space. Perforated stainless steel on the south facade fills the area with diffused natural light while accentuating the delicacy and elegance of the original structure.

Structural Engineer Architectural Engineers Collaborative [AEC] Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing TTG General Contractor American Constructors Wall Panels Centria Lighting Supplier ERT Lighting

Honorable Mention, Adaptive Restoration: The Cistern

Architect: Page Location: Houston, TX

A minimal approach was taken to repurpose the 90-year-old decommissioned drinking water reservoir cistern into a destination and civic art space that is accessible and enjoyable. Soft LED lighting from the entry tunnel continues in transparent handrails around the perimeter of the 221 concrete columns within 87,500 square feet.

Honorable Mention, Adaptive Restoration:  Fisher Hill Reservoir Park Gatehouse

Architect: Touloukian Touloukian Inc. Location: Brookline, MA

This former reservoir was acquired by a local municipality to serve as a new soccer field. The original 1887 gatehouse became a restroom and the restoration includes full masonry re-pointing, roof and window replacement—a thoughtful marriage of the historic and the modern to preserve a strong sense of place.