All posts in East

Placeholder Alt Text

Living on a Green

New York State to go carbon neutral by 2050
The New York State legistlature has passed a wide-sweeping climate mobilization bill, that, if signed by Governor Cuomo as expected, would mandate that New York State go totally carbon-neutral by 2050. Senate Bill S6599, or the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CCPA), has been kicking around the legislature in one form or another for the last three years and has been cited as a precursor to the New Green Deal being proposed on the national stage. After a progressive sweep of the State Senate last year in the general election, the stage was set to pass the wide-ranging bill, which had been held up by Republicans up to that point. The ultimate goal is to create a net-zero, circular economy powered by renewable energy. S6599 requires that the state reduce its carbon dioxide emissions to 85 percent of the level it was at in 1990, and to offset the remaining 15 percent through planting trees and wetland restoration. In 2030, the entire state will be required to source a minimum of 70 percent renewable energy and move up to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040. While that may seem like an ambitious target, New York State already sources 60 percent of its electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar, hydroelectric, and nuclear power generation. According to the New York Times, the state is preparing to build more offshore wind farms and rooftop solar panels and will ramp up its battery capacity for cloudy and windless days. However, just generating clean electricity won’t be enough. About a quarter of emissions in the state come from buildings, which rely on natural gas and heating oil for heating and cooling, and automobile emissions will still need to be slashed as cars and trucks are converted to run on electricity. Hundreds of millions of dollars will also be doled out for remediation in areas disproportionately impacted by industrial manufacturing. While New York City’s own “Green New Deal” initiative will regulate the construction of new buildings to bring them in line with tighter emissions requirements, the CCPA will need to mobilize thousands of new workers to weatherproof and retrofit every type of building to run on clean electricity. No cost estimate has been given so far, and critics have claimed that the final version of the CCPA was watered down by the governor’s office to exclude important labor provisions. The final S6599 takes aspects of an earlier Climate and Community Protection Act but has eliminated job training initiatives in low-income, climate-vulnerable neighborhoods. Additionally, funding the retraining of workers in fossil fuel industries was cut, as were fair wage provisions for workers in the renewable energy sector. The actual nitty-gritty details on how the CCPA will be implemented will be left to a future 22-person “climate action council” to decide. The council will be made up of experts and elected state officials with knowledge on everything from renewable energy, construction, health, labor, and ecology, and will be further supported by working groups with specialized knowledge.
Placeholder Alt Text

Dream Space

MARC FORNES / THEVERYMANY creates cloud-like pavilion in Charlotte
At the Valerie C. Woodard Center, a community resource center in Charlotte, North Carolina, a new pavilion seems to rise right out of the earth. Called Pillars of Dreams, the continuous 26-foot-tall cloud-like structure is the creation of MARC FORNES / THEVERYMANY, which is known for its complex, computationally-designed structures made of interlocking linear panels or "stripes." In Pillars of Dreams, as with other of the firm's projects, these stripes function not as just exterior and interior walls, but as the structure itself. “The skin of the project is everything—it’s your envelope, your experience, and foremost your structure,” explained Marc Fornes. “All projects we do are creating structure through geometry—self-supported structures.” Pillars of Dream is constructed with stripes of ultra-thin aluminum sheets, laser-cut into “labyrinthine” bands of 3-millimeter, two-layer stripes. “It’s actually a giant 3D puzzle," Fornes said. The design process for Pillars of Dreams represents a continuation and an evolution of more than 15 years of practice, which was inspired originally as a reaction to the triangle-driven geometries used in the 1990s and 2000s to develop complex architectural forms. This approach, which mirrored the polygon meshes of some digital models, resulted in a huge number of panels that take a great amount of time to assemble. The goal of working with the stripes is to speed up construction and have fewer elements to work with.  Pillars of Dreams was created to inspire visitors to “carry on a sort of dreaming, escapism.” It operates at a variety of scales—appearing one way to someone driving by, another as it’s approached, and then surprises visitors by allowing them to enter its interior, the colored gradient that is created by different shades and shapes inside and out evolving as one gets closer. It is, according to Fornes, “a universe curved in all directions.”
Placeholder Alt Text

ShipShape & Urbane Fashion

Yabu Pushelberg infuses Jean Georges restaurant with seafaring motif
Jean Georges's latest venture The Fulton was designed by top New York design duo Yabu Pushelberg to evoke the history of the city’s seaport. Located at Pier 17, the new restaurant is adorned in hand-painted murals by En Viu that illustrate a whimsical undersea journey. This theme is carried through a refined use of plush sea-foam green banquettes and U-shaped quartz countertops. The overall scheme, evident throughout the two-story restaurant, veers in the opposite direction of what could easily become kitsch, especially when dealing with nautical treatments. Rather, the design of The Fulton demonstrates a mastery of elegant and restrained interpretation. Dock-floor patterns, wood paneling, and asymmetrical lighting play on the buoyancy of the waterline outside as indoor and outdoor seating provide unobstructed views of the Brooklyn Bridge. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
Placeholder Alt Text

Left Brain Meets Right

Science photographer Felice Frankel donates architecture snaps to MIT
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries received a gift of 600 photographs by Felice Frankel, the renowned artist and scientist. Currently a researcher in the university’s Department of Chemical Engineering, Frankel has published her stunning photographs widely, and her early images of iconic architecture and landscapes are now at home in “Dome,” the library’s digital database of images and media, as well as in a collection-specific digital venue, DSpace@MIT. “Science has always been in my soul,” Frankel told The New York Times—she majored in biology and worked at a cancer research lab before her husband was sent to Vietnam. When he returned, he gave her a “good camera” as a present—Frankel emphasizes the “good.” With the tool in hand, Frankel discovered the power of photography when applied to learning and exploration. She doesn’t see her photographs as Art with a capital A—she sees her images as a learning tool, a way of documenting phenomena around her. Many of the photographs included in the new MIT collection are from a cross-country road trip, and many of her scientific images are aids for visual classroom learning, for use where an image is less intimidating than an equation. Frankel began her professional engagement with photography working as a volunteer for a public television station, and shortly after for an architect. She soon decided to pursue landscape photography independently, producing images for magazines, and eventually in her own book, Modern Landscape Architecture: Redefining the Garden. Many photos from this book are now being given a second life at MIT for direct student interaction both physically and digitally as individual elements. The photographs are discoveries Frankel wants to share with her students, and with the world. While she has recently become well known for her scientific images of cells and other miniscule things, her images gracing the covers of scholarly journals like Science, she sees a connection between the newer content and the recently gifted collection of her built environments. She says, “It’s all about capturing structured information.” Engaging with famous pieces of architecture like Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute and sculptural elements like Lawrence Halprin’s Ira Keller Fountain, Frankel fully explores her unique sense of composition. Without needing to rely on human subjects to get a great photograph, the buildings and landscapes are studies in mass, light, and color.
Placeholder Alt Text

It Goes to 11

Audible opens its next chapter in a New Jersey church
Audible’s “Innovation Cathedral” opened its doors on May 17, bringing 80,000 square feet of high-tech office space for 400 employees to Newark, New Jersey. The name is much more than a metaphor. The Newark–based audiobook company converted a cathedral at 15 James Street— formerly the home of the Second Presbyterian Church—and two adjacent church buildings into its technology offices. Perkins Eastman restored the landmarked exterior and the global firm Spector Group handled the interior transformation. The finished design actually unites three buildings into one. A Gothic church—erected in 1932—was connected in the back to the 108-year-old Hunter Hall, a squat former parish house, which is joined to a large brick community center that sits at the very end. As the middle building in the site, Hunter Hall was designated as the main entrance and central circulation point to reach the cathedral and community center. The church-to-office conversion involved dropping an entirely new structure within the shell of the landmarked cathedral. Thus the new office structure doesn’t touch the walls of the church. Instead, Spector Group used a series of freestanding, elevated platforms to build out space and create new vantage points. “We created catwalks and perches around the sanctuary with glass dividers so you’re able to look down from the top library floor all the way to the lower main level,” said Marc Spector, principal and owner of Spector Group. As such, the conversion preserved many of the features of the original church and adjoining buildings. The auditorium, basketball court, and bowling alley in the community center were restored, as well as the pipe organ and organ screen in the main sanctuary space. All of the original cathedral’s paneling, pews, and groin vaults were kept intact. Its stained-glass windows were minimally modified to remove overtly religious references and create a more inclusive workspace. Game areas, lounges, an exhibition area, production rooms, and a commissary floor were added. Flexibility and deference to the cathedral were the driving motivators for Spector Group’s design. The employees in the Innovation Cathedral are all technologists, with different teams assigned to specific floors. However, there are no set desks and workers can sit wherever they’d like on their floor. “We added floor space in Hunter Hall, capped by this beautiful Tiffany glass ceiling that we rear-lit to really give it presence,” said Spector. “It’s an incredible edifice, and after three and a half years of working through existing conditions, we were [still] finding treasures of structure each time we did a little bit more demolition. We had to be flexible in the design.”

Architect of Record: Perkins Eastman Architects

Interior Architect: Spector Group

Associate Architect: Bill Mikesell Associates

Structural Engineer: Silman

Contractor: Century 21

Mechanical Engineering: Goldman Copeland Associates, PC

Exterior and Interior Lighting Designer: Bliss Fasman Inc.

Placeholder Alt Text

Genetic Mutation

Could buildings be evolved instead of designed?
What if we could “breed” buildings to be more efficient? That’s the provocation by artist, designer, and programmer Joel Simon, who was inspired by the potentials of 3D printing and other emergent digital manufacturing technologies, as well as his background in computer science and biology, to test a system of automated planning. With a series of algorithms of two types—“graph-contraction and ant-colony pathing”—Simon is able to “evolve” optimized floor plans based off different constraints, using a genetic method derived from existing neural network techniques. The results are, according to a white paper he put out, “biological in appearance, intriguing in character, and wildly irrational in practice.” The example he gives is based off an elementary school in Maine. Most schools are long corridors with classrooms coming off the sides, a highly linear design. By attempting to set different parameters, like minimizing traffic flow and material usage, or making the building easier to exit in the event of an emergency, the algorithms output different floor plans, developed on a genetic logic. But this optimization is done “without regard for convention [or] constructability,” and adding other characteristics, like maximizing windows for classrooms, led to complicated designs with numerous interior courtyards. For projects like schools, he suggests, class schedules and school layouts could be evolved side-by-side, creating a building optimized around traffic flow. While perhaps currently impractical (there’s no getting rid of architects—or rectangles— yet!), Simon hopes that the project will push people to think about how building with emergent technologies—like on-site 3D printing, CNC, self-assembling structures, and robotic construction—can be integrated within the design process. These technologies have promises for new forms that are hard to design for, he believes, and potentials that can’t be realized through existing design methods. As he told Dezeen: "Most current tools and thinking are stuck in a very two-dimensional world…[but,] designing arbitrary 3D forms optimized for multiple objectives—material usage, energy efficiency, acoustics—is simply past human cognitive ability."
Placeholder Alt Text

Time for Tech

TECH+ Expo returns to New York to talk the business of building
According to Dr. Andrea Chegut, there is a constant tension between securing capital investment and being inventive in the built environment. It’s something that architects have to grapple with as they make design decisions that will please the client and investors, but also adhere to their creative vision. “This tension is happening in your desktops every day,” she told attendees of AN’s third annual TECH+ conference in New York on June 13. Chegut is the cofounder and director of the Real Estate Innovation Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). As the keynote speaker for the tech-focused forum, held in partnership between AN and Microsol Resources, she reminded the architects present that they are inventors and that it’s imperative to stand up for their work because smart design helps make money. Chegut’s role as a financial econometrician is to research technologies that can improve the relationship between investors and designers, advance communication, and turn design features into metrics that investors can feel good about. “Global research and development expenditures are at an all-time high,” she said, “and real estate is shifting towards R&D and scalable business models, too.” Chegut pointed out that last year, global venture investment in technology for the built environment exceeded $20 billion. That’s a major look into the future of the industry, she said. Not only that, but climate change is making the business of building and maintaining buildings even more costly. From 2000 to 2017, the United States spent $2.5 trillion on resiliency planning and recovery efforts, and $117 billion to manage chronic floods. To get ahead of these issues, Chegut believes technology can help architects and real estate stakeholders make smarter decisions about their projects. Think automation, which could transform valuations processes, accounting, and more, or robotics, such as the Mediated Matter group’s FIBERBOTS, a digital fabrication tool that can create sophisticated material architectures. Even as augmented reality advances through the integration of added sensory modalities, it can immerse and nearly alter one’s perception of the built environment. These could make working in the field substantially smoother. It’s not just tech tools still in the research stages that could change the future; there are products that exist now on the commercial market like transparent wood, view glass, as well as digital software such as Humanyze, the WillowTwin, and Skyline AI that are transforming the way architects work. Companies like Envelope City and Katerra are already leading the way in zoning analysis and material manufacturing optimization. Chegut noted that her team, in particular, has been working on a property technology that could benchmark value drivers of design for investors to get behind. Through an experiment they call Wide Data, the MIT Real Estate Innovation Lab created a database with information on all buildings in New York City that was used to determine common themes across award-winning structures, specifically commercial office buildings. They found that access to daylight can lead to a direct 6.6 to 7 percent increase on the cost per square foot of a building in Manhattan if it meets the green standards set up by LEED. In essence, Chegut backed up through economic data that the value of daylight adds to the monetary value of not only a building but a company, too. “Give humans daylight and we’ll make money,” she said. It’s dedicated research to tools like this that make technology so important for the work of an architect. Everything from advances in BIM, Revit, AR, and VR to prefabrication and efficient construction techniques means that the business of building is getting better because of technology. The rest of the day’s events at TECH+ zeroed in on these innovations and how certain companies and architecture firms such as Kaiser Permanente, SOM, GeoSlam, SHoP, and Payette, among others, are doing big things with new tech. Other conversations included the unique integration of gaming technology to help tell stories through design, and the use of specific tools that helped create New York’s newest architectural landmarks: The Shed and Vessel at Hudson Yards.
Placeholder Alt Text

Everyone Wins

Five winning submissions picked in Buffalo park ideas competition
A competition to revitalize a 1.5-mile-long elevated railway in Buffalo, New York, has ended with five winners, and all five proposals will be combined to shape an RFP aimed at breathing new life into the abandoned rail corridor. The Western New York Land Conservancy launched the Reimagining the DL&W Corridor: International Design Ideas Competition in November of 2018 to revive an abandoned stretch of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western (DL&W) railway that runs from Canalside to the Solar City plant. Much like the High Line or the proposed QueensWay in the southern half of the state, the DL&W railway will be turned into an elevated park that will unite formerly-industrial neighborhoods with a continuous rewilded landscape. “Reclaiming Hill & Del” from the New York City–based Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects (MNLA) took first prize. Their ambitious proposal turns the corridor into an all-season multimodal path to the Buffalo River, using the varied topography of the ridge to add excitement to the routes. Native plants would be used to return the path to a state of nature. “The Dell, The Link & The Wanderer (DLW),” a collaboration between Marvel Architects, BuroHappold, horticulturalist and landscape architect Patrick Cullina, and graphic and placemaking studio NOWHERE Office took second place. The DLW would divide the railway into several distinct ecologies while threading through the neighborhoods. The Dell portion would bring secluded, wooded areas to the former rail line; the Link is where the new park would integrate with existing streets at grade; and visitors can Wander through meandering paths along the water’s edge. Third place was split between two proposals, “The Loop Line” and “Railn.” The Loop Line comes courtesy of the Brooklyn-based OSA, which wanted to turn the railway from a “barrier” to a “linear urban organizer” that capitalizes on investment along the Buffalo River. Unlike the other projects, The Loop Line was conceived as “seasonally inverted,” showcasing the majesty of Buffalo’s winters (even if they are buried in snow).   Railn was conceived of by a team of six graduate landscape architecture students from Beijing Forestry University. The project would overlay different axes, including transportation, quality of life, and economic improvements over the railway to create an inclusive, multimodal park. Finally, the community choice award went to Matt Renkas, a SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry grad and Buffalo resident, for his “The Del” proposal. The Del would integrate the industrial remnants along the new park into the landscape and include scrap steel sculptures of animals representing Haudenosaunee clans would dot the DL&W Corridor. The Del would also include several earthwork theaters and staging areas for performances and art shows. With the ideas competition complete, the Land Conservancy will launch a Request For Proposals for conceptual and schematic designs later this summer, integrating ideas from all of the submissions they received, not just the winners.
Placeholder Alt Text

Stacks On Stacks

Congress Square splits past and present with fiberglass-reinforced plastic
facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
Architectural preservation is often cast as a zero-sum game; historic structures are either painstakingly maintained or demolished in favor of contemporary development. Arrowstreet's Congress Square, a 530,000-square-foot project in Boston's Financial District, provides an alternative solution for this quandary with the restoration and consolidation of an entire block of historic structures that integrates a contemporary glass addition with a fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) soffit. The historic core of the project is composed of three separate Beaux-Arts banks built in the early 20th century. Over the course of their lifetime, and a number of financial mergers, the banks were haphazardly joined into a single entity. A lightwell was located between these three structures but it was filled with a web of mechanical systems over the years.
  • Facade Manufacturer Midwest Curtainwalls Kreysler Associates Island Exterior Fabricators
  • Architect Arrrowstreet
  • Facade Installer The Cheviot Corporation Consigli (General Contractor) Related Beal (Executive Construction Manager)
  • Facade Consultant Vidaris
  • Location Boston
  • Date of Completion November 2018
  • System Custom-designed unitized curtain wall
  • Products Custom glass and FRP modules
For the design team, one of the greatest challenges of the project was how to structurally support the seven-story glass addition, and its 24-foot cantilever, without visually disrupting historic elements. "A 1,700-square-foot mat foundation was constructed in the basement supported by more than 60 mini-piles that were all driven inside the existing building," said Arrowstreet President Amy Korté. "Fourteen super columns were then threaded through the perimeter of the existing buildings to support the vertical addition." Additionally, a new concrete core was inserted within the lightwell to both support the new glass canopy as well as house contemporary mechanical equipment. The new concrete core also facilitated the open-floor plan of the glass-clad office space. The structure's sharply-angled cantilever and soffit are located on the prominent southwestern corner of the project, adjacent to Post Office Square. Arrowstreet collaborated closely with the FRP and the curtainwall manufacturers, Kreysler and Associates and Midwest Curtainwalls, to develop the soffit design. The design and fabrication teams reviewed three color options in both glossy and matte finishes, constructing full-scale mockups to effectively gauge the product most complementary with the historic ornamental metalwork found throughout the buildings. Ultimately, the team settled on an iridescent gold-like finish that reflects light to the street below. "Our team refined the design of the soffit using Rhino 3D software and 3D printing to visualize the final installation," continued Korté. "Sharing these models, we could interface directly with Kreysler and Associates' sophisticated fabrication equipment, including six-axis CNC robotic routers to realize complex geometries." While the bulk of the project focused on the insertion of the seven-story glass pavilion atop three historic banks, the northern rump of the mixed-use project involved the restoration of two additional historic structures and the construction of an entirely new 12-story addition. The facade of the addition was manufactured by Island Exterior Fabricators and was fully installed in under two weeks. Amy Korté, Arrowstreet President, will be presenting a deeper dive into this project as part of the panel, "Lightness & Weight | Creating Continuity in Cityscape with Hybrid Facades" at the upcoming Facades+ conference in Boston on June 25. For more details, along with registration info, visit Facades+ Boston.
Placeholder Alt Text

At The Top

Deborah Marton named Van Alen Institute’s new executive director
After former executive director of the New York nonprofit Van Alen Institute, David van der Leer, announced that he was stepping down in October of last year, the hunt to find a replacement leader for the 125-year-old institution was on. Now, Deborah Marton, currently the executive director of the nonprofit New York Restoration Project (NYRP), has been tapped to lead Van Alen. Marton’s experience in advocating for open space in the built environment, whether it be as the former executive director of the Design Trust for Public Space, her five years as director of the NYRP, or her position on the board of the Landscape Architecture Foundation, seems to be in natural alignment with Van Alen’s mission. “Deborah brings extensive experience to Van Alen in successfully mobilizing professionals across various sectors—architecture, urban design, ecology, public health—to take an interdisciplinary approach that effects positive change, particularly among underserved communities. Her passionate, innovative and collaborative leadership in addressing complex issues will be invaluable in executing the single largest program in our history being launched this fall," said Van Alen board of trustees chair Jared Della Valle in a press release. “Van Alen Institute stands alone in its ability to render visible the complex systems that govern our physical environment,” wrote Marton, “effectively bridging the gap between pure knowledge and built form. I am privileged to be joining Van Alen’s outstanding team and look forward to building on the organization’s 125-year history as a leading voice in unearthing unconventional solutions to our most significant social, ecological and cultural challenges.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Dine with Radicals

Radical Italian Design movement comes to life in New York gallery show
New York powerhouse gallery R & Company is known for its ability to balance historical and contemporary focuses. Its expertise of the midcentury modern Brazilian period is matched by its mastery of postmodern design from the late 1960s through to the early '80s. The multi-venue gallery is also recognized for its diverse roster of contemporary talents working in various mediums, applications, styles, and approaches. Playing to its own strengths, the gallery has mounted two distinct group shows at its sprawling White Street location this spring. On view till June 19, these two exhibitions reflect a clever curatorial vision: the decision to reframe, reassess, and recontextualize key works from the gallery's boundless stores and to debut newly acquired pieces. Building on the success of a similar exhibition mounted in 2017, a seminal anthology, and full-feature-length film—developed with independent curator Maria Cristina Didero—Radical Living presents important works from various collectives and talents of the once controversial but wildly influential Radical Italian Design movement. This period of firebrand fervor saw major designers question the fundamentals of how we live, interact, and occupy space. This design zeitgeist reflected the progressive and revolutionary tones of the time's societal shifts. Read the full story on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
Placeholder Alt Text

Good Lokko!

Lesley Lokko, architect and author, named dean of Spitzer School of Architecture
Lesley Lokko has written 12 bestselling novels, organized the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg, and holds a doctorate in architecture from the University of London. And these are just three of her notable accomplishments. Her most recent? She has been named the dean of the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York. Her appointment comes as the Spitzer School prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary. “The Spitzer School’s distinctive perspective on urbanism, combining as it does classic approaches to architecture with a deep concern for the lived experience of the whole people, makes it the perfect home for someone with Dean Lokko’s abiding civic commitments,” said CCNY President Vince Boudreau in a statement. The renowned CUNY outpost in upper Manhattan has educated students from the city with affordability and social conscience in mind, and civic duty and politics like these have definitively shaped the space in which Lokko has worked over her 25-year career. The Scotland-born-Ghanaian-raised Lokko spends her time hopping between the U.K. and Ghana for life and work. After going back to school at age 26 to train as an architect, she soon after discovered her love for literature, and successfully leaped into becoming a full-time novelist. Her work often deals with race relations and identity, both globally and Africa-specific—and her next novel, slated for publication this spring, unfolds against the backdrop of the Arab Spring. Her writing also crosses into nonfictional and journalistic spheres: she is the editor of White Papers, Black Marks: Race, Culture, Architecture and is the current editor-in-chief of FOLIO: Journal of Contemporary African Architecture. In the words of interim dean Gordon Gebert, “She is exactly the leader we need to bring renewed energy and define an exciting new vision for the Spitzer School as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the school’s founding."