Search results for "Public Design Commission"

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All Aboard

New York fireboat gets a little razzle dazzle courtesy Tauba Auerbach
During World War I, British artist Norman Wilkinson invented the dazzle camouflage technique, also known as razzle dazzle, by painting warships with geometric patterns of contrasting colors to confuse the enemy about the ship’s course. American artist Tauba Auerbach was inspired by the war tactic and has transformed a retired fireboat into a public art piece co-commissioned by the Public Art Fund and the World War I centenary art commissioner 14-18 NOW. Auerbach painted the fireboat John J. Harvey with a head-turning pattern featuring the historic vessel's original red and white colors. She made bold brushstrokes across the body of the ship, drawing swirling curves and flowing shapes from stern to bow. According to a statement from 14-18 NOW, Auerbach’s piece, titled Flow Separation, is a “visualization of the physics of fluid dynamics,” and its design “incorporates the movement and behavior of water.” The ship is part of a larger series of dazzle ships co-commissioned with the British contemporary visual art festival, Liverpool Biennial, and is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies. It will be stopping at different spots in New York Harbor throughout the summer and the public can enjoy trips aboard the vessel for free on weekends through May 12, 2019. Use this link for the full schedule and tickets.
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For The Wright Price

Frank Lloyd Wright’s fully-restored Ennis House is for sale for $23 million
Following an extensive, more than a decade-long restoration, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House in Los Angeles is for sale.  The 5,500-square-foot neo-Mayan hilltop house was designed by Wright in 1923 and is on the market for a cool $23 million. The home is the last and largest of Wright’s “textile block” homes in Los Angeles. The home was last listed for sale in 2009 for $15 million following a slew of upgrades and renovations, a figure that eventually fell to a mere $4.5 million in the fallout of the 2008 economic collapse. In 2011 the home finally sold to business executive Ron Burkle, the current owner. The home was previously owned by the Ennis House Foundation, which sold the property to Burkle with a requirement that it be open to public tours for at least 12 days per year, a stipulation that will follow the house as it changes hands once again. After the 2011 purchase, Burkle spent the next six years fully restoring the home with help from Wright’s grandson Eric Lloyd Wright, who was the historic preservation consultant for the project. Matt Construction executed the restoration work on the house, a project that involved structurally stabilizing the house as well as replacing nearly 4,000 of the home’s 27,000 textile concrete blocks. The building was also re-roofed during the restoration, and the home’s interior wood floors, ceilings, and art glass windows were restored.  Prior to the restoration work, the home had sat in horrible shape after suffering extensive structural damage following the 1994 Northridge earthquake. In 2005, torrential rains in L.A. caused much of the roof damage and interior deterioration that the latest restoration corrected.  The home is famous for being shown in a variety of films, including Blade Runner and House on Haunted Hill. The home was originally commissioned for Charles and Mabel Ennis and is currently listed on the market by Beverly Hill-based realtors Branden and Rayni Williams of Hilton & Hyland. 
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Sharks!

New York Aquarium opens $158 million addition that’s all about sharks
  Coney Island will gain a major attraction this weekend when the New York Aquarium opens a $158 million addition called Ocean Wonders: Sharks! Civic leaders joined aquarium officials and donors on Thursday to cut the ribbon for the facility, which opens to the public on Saturday. With more than 57,000 square feet of space, from an underwater tunnel that takes visitors beneath a coral reef exhibit to a rooftop observation deck, the three-level addition brings visitors “nose to nose” with 18 different species of sharks and rays, plus 115 other kinds of marine life. Having been in the works for the past 14 years, the facility represents a major addition to the New York Aquarium, which is run by the Wildlife Conservation Society and is considered the oldest continuously-operating aquatic museum in the United States. The design is the work of a consortium led by Susan Chin, Vice President of Planning and Design and Chief Architect for the Wildlife Conservation Society. Key design team members included Edelman Sultan Knox Wood Architects of New York, Doyle Partners of New York, and the Portico Group of Seattle. In 2013, the design received an Award for Design Excellence from the New York City Public Design Commission. The goal, planners say, was to create a facility that educates visitors about the importance of sharks to the health of the world’s oceans, points out the threats they face, and inspires visitors to protect marine life in New York and beyond. “Our new Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit will awaken New Yorkers to the magnificence and importance of the ocean here in New York,” said Aquarium Director Jon Forrest Dohlin in a statement. “We hope that the pride and sense of wonder instilled by Ocean Wonders: Sharks! translate into stewardship for our oceans.” Completed as a joint venture of the Wildlife Conservation Society and New York City, which owns the land and provided most of the construction funds, the addition also represents a major achievement by the Aquarium and the Coney Island community in rebuilding from the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. “We’re celebrating a remarkable new facility where New Yorkers can learn more about—and be delighted by—our ocean-dwelling neighbors,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio at the ribbon cutting. “But we’re also celebrating another big step toward recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. The New York Aquarium brings the wonders of the sea to our doorstep, and we’re proud to have made a major investment in its restoration.” The curving structure cantilevers over the Coney Island boardwalk, which was recently designated a New York City landmark. Its exterior includes an 1,100-foot-long “Shimmer Wall” that was designed in collaboration with visual artist Ned Kahn to convey the force and fluidity of the ocean. This kinetic facade consists of more than 33,000 aluminum “flappers” that undulate with the wind. Inside are nine galleries that Chin says were inspired by nature. They include the “Coral Reef Tunnel,” an immersive underwater tunnel that enables visitors to view sharks swimming overhead; Sharks Up Close,” an interactive gallery showcasing the physiology and behavior of sharks and rays; “Sharks in Peril,” a gallery that shows why sharks are vulnerable to overfishing and other threats, and “Discover New York Waters,” a gallery that highlights the marine ecosystems off New York’s coast.  Other areas include “New York Seascape,“ which shows how scientists are working to save sharks; “Shipwreck,” which explores the more than 60 wrecks found along the New York coastline and how they serve as gathering spots for sharks; “Canyon’s Edge,” a look at the ecosystem of the Hudson Canyon, which begins at the mouth of the Hudson River and is comparable in size to the Grand Canyon; “Conservation Choices,” showing how visitors can become conservationists; and “Ecology Walk,” a look at the ecology of Coney Island and nearby areas such as Jamaica Bay and Sandy Hook. On the top level are the Ocean Overlook and the Oceanview Learning Laboratory, a 1,500 square-foot educational space featuring an outdoor terrace with a rooftop touch tank and other teaching facilities. The New York Aquarium opened in 1896 in Castle Garden, part of the Battery Park section of Manhattan. Since 1957, it has been located on the Coney Island boardwalk in Brooklyn. Of the total $158 million cost of the Ocean Wonders exhibit and its companion Animal Care Facility, $111 million came from New York City and $47 million came from private groups, individuals, and tax-exempt financing. The addition is expected to generate $20 million a year in economic activity. New York officials noted yesterday that the aquarium addition is one of many ways that New York had been working to revitalize Coney Island, even before Hurricane Sandy. “We’ve been making big investments across Coney Island in everything from affordable housing to new amusements to infrastructure upgrades,” said James Patchett, President and CEO of the New York City Economic Development Corp. “Today we’re proud to add ‘sharks’ to that list. Investing in our cultural institutions is critical to our ongoing neighborhood investments, and we’re thrilled to see this iconic exhibit build on the momentum in Coney Island.”
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Frick Frack Paddywhack

Revised Frick expansion clears Landmarks but still faces challenges
A revised scheme for the Selldorf Architects-designed expansion of Manhattan’s Frick Collection with Beyer Blinder Belle (BBB) acting as executive architects has gained approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). While commissioners voiced their concern over the addition’s fenestration and whether enough was done to move the proposed programming underground, they ultimately voted to approve the presented plan. That approval still faces resistance from local residents and preservationist groups, including an injunction hearing scheduled for this September that could slow the project down further. In approving the expansion, landmarks commissioners noted the support the project had drawn from the public, including from architects, preservationists, art historians, curators, and landscape architects, but acknowledged they had also received emails in opposition as well. Four grandchildren of Henry Clay Frick have signed letters signaling their support, and the commissioners were quick to mention their prior approval of the more experimental, Jeanne Gang-led expansion at the American Museum of Natural History. Community groups such as the City Club and Landmarks Conservancy have also voiced their support. In the Conservancy's testimony before the LPC, they stated that their Public Policy Committee had “found that the new limestone-clad additions are appropriate in their height, massing, and materials. They draw inspiration from the historic buildings in a respectful manner. The rooftop addition to the Reception Hall will rise gracefully from the building, in the manner of a conservatory. The connecting link is modest, but well-considered. There will be no loss of historic fabric, and while some façade elements of the Library Building will be less visible, they will not be removed or altered by this project.” The original scheme for the Frick's latest expansion was presented at a May 29 hearing where the public was invited to openly comment. Selldorf and BBB had proposed increasing the floor area of the Frick by 10 percent­­­­(18,000 square feet) to provide room for new conservation areas, offices, and gallery spaces with 1,800 of that square footage to be placed underground. Perhaps the most debated portions of the expansion plan touch on the Russell Page-designed garden on East 70th Street which was added in 1977. Installing the proposed 220-seat auditorium below the garden will require removing the garden above and reinstalling it exactly as it was before. The north wall of the 4,100-square-foot garden, part of the 1977 Bayley, Van Dyke & Poehler addition that originally created the garden, is also on the block to be rebuilt. As the scheme calls for the library to rise directly over the garden’s northern wall, a series of hornbeam trees behind the wall that were planted in 2010 (replacing pear trees placed by Page to mask the back of the existing library building) would need to be removed. The original plan had placed the new library almost flush with the north wall, but the trees were ultimately spared in the final version. Annabelle Selldorf was on hand for the follow-up LPC meeting on June 26 and explained that by setting the addition’s massing back three feet from the north wall’s edge, they were able to carve out a shelf behind the cornice for replacement trees. The smaller hornbeams would be located in the same positions as their predecessors and are intended to recreate the trompe l’oeil, the sense that the garden stretches on past its confines, that the current trees bring to the landscape. Selldorf was adamant that shaving three feet off of the addition was the most that can be done, and that tightening the massing any further was impossible due to programmatic requirements. The circular John Russell Pope-designed Music Room, set to be dismantled to make way for more special exhibition space, was briefly discussed as commissioners prodded the Frick to explain why the space couldn’t be repurposed. Museum representatives explained the difficulty in staging exhibitions inside of a round room and the associated temporary architecture required, and that more space was needed to display their collection. The Music Room’s Versailles-patterned wood floors and non-structural wall panels will be reused in the replacement gallery space, and the entire room will be 3D scanned and included in the Frick’s collection. That is, if the room is actually taken apart. As the commissioners noted during this week’s meeting, an active Request for Evaluation (RFE) to designate the Music Room, West Gallery & Enamels Room, and the 1977 Reception Hall as interior landmarks is currently being processed. Questions were raised over whether approving the expansion would preclude the music room’s designation, but commissioners received clarification that the two items were not in conflict with each other. It was entered into the record that the LPC takes a meticulous approach to interior designations and that if the RFE is approved, the scheme will have to be retooled to include a circular music room. Though the commissioners questioned the design team on whether more of the proposed programming could be moved underground­, the plan presented was approved with six votes for, one against, and one commissioner choosing to abstain. The Frick is an individual landmark within the landmarked Upper East Side Historic District, but commissioners highlighted the fact that the Frick Collection is a campus of separate buildings from many different time periods when making their final decision. Opponents have compiled a laundry list of complaints against the Selldorf and BBB plan. The Stop Irresponsible Frick Development (SIFD) coalition, a collection of architects, preservationists, and activists gathered on the steps of City Hall on June 25 to make their voices heard about why the expansion should be halted. Citing the lack of time given to the public to review the revised scheme, the LPC’s failure to consider landmarking the Music Room first, the potential conflict of interest arising from interim LPC chair and BBB partner Fred Bland’s participation in the process, the necessity of the Frick to expand its collection to such a degree, and the addition of a glassy café topper above the reception hall, the group had tried to delay the June 26 vote. Although an emergency temporary restraining order was submitted by the group on June 25 to the State Supreme Court, the judge decided not to grant the measure. However, an injunction hearing has been scheduled for September, which will force the Frick to defend their decisions in court and risks throwing a wrench in the project’s timeline. Preservationist Theodore Grunewald was responsible for filing the Music Room RFE (at the May 29th hearing itself, a first in the Commission's history) arguing that the room deserves to be judged on its own merits. This is the first time that an RFE for a separate part of a project has been raised independently before the LPC. In an op-ed published to the New York Times on June 25, Martha Frick Symington Sanger, a great-granddaughter of Henry Clay Frick, laid the groups concerns bare. “Let us engage an independent professional to evaluate the feasibility of excavation for proposed new facilities,” wrote Sanger, although the LPC noted that they have, historically, never taken outside design considerations into account when making their decisions. “Revisit the possibility of modernizing and repurposing existing underground facilities; purchase the adjacent, 6,000-square-foot building that is currently on the market for less than 10 percent of the anticipated cost of the current proposal; and seek landmark status for the music room, which could just as easily be preserved as a gallery.” The full presentation given at the June 26 LPC meeting is available here. According to the Frick, construction on the addition will not begin until 2020. AN will continue to provide updates on this story as they become available.
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Bully culture architecture

Will a proposed addition turn Chicago’s Union Station into the new Soldier Field?
In 2004, Chicago watched historic Soldier Field become a toilet bowl. In 2019, Union Station will become a self-inked address stamper. During a public meeting on June 25, Chicago-based architects Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB) unveiled plans to construct a seven-story glass addition to the 1925 Graham, Anderson, Probst & White train station in the West Loop. Along with Riverside Investment & Development and Convexity Properties, SCB outlined the details of the proposal, including a hotel, apartments, an office complex, and retail. If implemented, Union Station would rise in height from 150 to 245 feet, with the proposed glass rectangle atop the existing office tour delivering 404 apartments. The multi-story main building, or headhouse, would become 330 hotel rooms. Along with landmarks review, the redevelopment will need both aldermanic and zoning approval before moving forward with what will be the first phase of changes for Union Station. A second phase will add an office skyscraper south of the headhouse, while a third phase will build an apartment tower over an existing train platform nearby. With Union Station in the middle of a $22 million skylight restoration, the plan released on June 25 deviates dramatically from the one outlined in the station’s 2012 master plan, calling for two new twelve story residential towers above the headhouse. Other aspects of the master plan have already been implemented, including the restoration of the grand staircase and the Burlington Room. Listed as a Chicago Landmark in 2002, the new plans for Union Station will also require a review by The Commission on Chicago Landmarks (CCL) before a permit is provided. While Riverside Investment & Development and Convexity Properties, along with SCB, have been careful in their attempt to show that the addition will do no harm to the components of the building that make it architecturally significant, the addition reads as out of scale and context for the existing building. With the CCL charged to examine the appropriateness of proposed work on Chicago Landmarks in relation to the spirit of the Landmarks Ordinance, the plan as presented should be considered by the CCL as an adverse effect on a designated local landmark. If approved, the addition on Union Station could cause a paradigm shift in the way Chicago Landmarks are approached by potential developers, broadcasting a message that cultural and architectural resources are only of value if they are monetized to their fullest extent, and that the Landmarks Ordinance can soften in the face of economic motivators. The proposed addition is not only an imbalance in terms of design, it’s also condescending to the station itself, the architectural equivalent of a head patting, or worse. Ringing out like the 2004 renovation of Soldier Field (a project that curiously won an award for design excellence by the AIA the same year it was recommended to be stripped of its National Historic Landmark designation), this is new bullying old.
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Feeling Chipper-dale

AT&T Building landmarking vote advances amid outpouring of support
The winding saga of Philip Johnson and John Burgee’s hulking 550 Madison took another turn yesterday, as New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) considered landmarking the postmodern office tower’s granite exterior. Preservationists, architects, and colleagues of Johnson’s took the stand to deliver public testimony in favor of the potential landmarking, and even ownership spoke on how they would sensitively redevelop the building with input from the commission. The furor over the former AT&T headquarters began with the initial reveal of Snøhetta’s plan to glass over and encase the base of the tower in October 2017, demolishing the great archways and loggias that, at the time of the building’s opening in 1984, formed a looping privately-owned public space (POPS). The original plan would have stripped the base’s defining 110-foot-tall granite archway and redefined the balance between what had been designed as a tripartite structure (the looming base, the center wall of windows, and the ornamental “Chippendale” topper). The LPC moved quickly to calendar the building in November of last year but also noted that, due to development partners Chelsfield America and Olayan America’s decision to demolish the lobby (against the wishes of Community Board 5), only the exterior would be under consideration. At the most recent meeting of the Landmarks Committee, Seth Pinsky, executive vice president of RXR Realty­­­­—now a minority partner on 550 Madison’s redevelopment—spoke on behalf of the building’s owners and discussed the new scheme they would be presenting. Snøhetta’s glass curtain wall is out, and ownership now officially supports landmarking the tower’s exterior. As a result, they would also like to remove the building’s rear annex and renovate the arcade covered by Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman during their 1993 renovation for Sony and bring the rear yard condition closer to Johnson and Burgee’s original vision. This would create a much larger enclosed garden and seating area. As for the tower’s interiors, originally designed for single-tenant occupancy and for a maximum of 800 employees, Pinsky stated that the current plan was to build out Class A office space for up to 3,000 potential workers. The vast majority of testimony read at the hearing was in favor of landmarking the former AT&T Building. Some in attendance spoke on the building’s noble intentions but purported failure to connect with the street level; in Richard Rogers’ statement, delivered via surrogate, it was noted that while the tower itself has always been impressive, the successive series of interventions at the ground level have only strayed further from Johnson and Burgee’s original intention. The committee received an additional 12 letters of support for landmark status, including from the National Register of Historic Places. Ultimately, the fate of 550 Madison will likely be determined at an unspecified later date wherein commissioners will take Tuesday's testimony into account. The building's owners will continue to tweak their proposed scheme in the meantime. AN will continue to provide updates as they become available.
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Welding Bells

Visiting UAP, the studio fabricating many of the biggest projects in art and architecture
UAP may not be a household name, but the firm is behind the scenes of many of the biggest projects in public art and architecture. With studios in Brisbane, Shanghai, and New York, UAP works with world-renowned artists and architects like Ai Weiwei, Carsten Höller, and Frank Gehry on highly complicated sculptures and architectural features. Most recently, it manufactured Phillip K. Smith III’s Open Sky with clothing brand COS for Salone del Mobile in Milan. UAP is also overseeing a number of projects in the Hudson Yards mega-development. Started in 1993 by brothers Daniel and Matthew Tobin in Australia, UAP collaborates with artists, architects, developers, and governments to plan and fabricate large-scale projects. However, at their core the Tobins are committed to protecting artists’ voices and maintaining conceptual integrity—dealing with tight deadlines, engineering challenges, and logistical complexities to deliver the creator’s vision in full. In this way, they function as an extension of the artist’s studio, allowing artists to step back from management and go back to doing what they do best: making art. UAP is organized into three sectors: UAP Studio, which produces site-specific artworks and offers curatorial oversight and public art strategy; UAP Factory, which works alongside architects on building projects; and UAP Supply, which offers limited-edition and custom furnishings. While UAP’s business includes working with artists to make their visions materialize, the firm also works with developers and governments to curate and consult on the how, where, and who behind public art. Recently, it has been going even bigger and helping develop master plans and long-term public art strategy for clients such as the Queen’s Wharf in Brisbane. Although handwork, traditional CNC, and cutting-edge fabrication techniques are integral to the practice, UAP is constantly looking for new ways to utilize technology. The team has been introducing virtual reality into its design process and collaborating with manufacturing researchers at Innovative Manufacturing CRC, Queensland University of Technology, and RMIT University to experiment with new robotic manufacturing systems that present a range of new possibilities. With his artist pedigree, founder Daniel has designed monumental projects, including the 197-foot-tall concrete tower Al Fanar (Beacon) in Saudi Arabia (with bureau^proberts) and a National AIDS Monument with the West Hollywood Foundation, to be completed in 2019. It’s this creative sensibility that’s central to UAP. It can help artists because they themselves are no mere fabricators; they’re partners in the creative process with an intimate knowledge of production and a deep investment in creative expression. Good Fences Make Good Neighbors New York This past winter’s blockbuster five-borough public exhibition from Ai Weiwei, Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, showcased the work of UAP in one of its most memorable sculptures: the 40-foot mirrored cage underneath the Washington Square Arch. Made in collaboration with the Public Art Fund, the arch sculpture was one of two that UAP completed for Ai’s project. The subject of many photographs, the sculpture approached serious topics with levity—juxtaposing a passage with a cage, it troubled the constructed notion of borders and highlighted the different ways they restrict, regulate, and permit the movement of differentiated bodies. Nuage, promenade Miami Working with renowned designers (and another fraternal pair) Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, UAP oversaw the construction of a series of metal and glass canopies in Miami’s design district. Called Nuage, promenade, the pergola is designed to engage with not only the surrounding built environment of Paseo Ponti, but also the natural environment, as native plants will slowly grow around the blue and green structure. SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico UAP worked on every step of the process, from design to fabrication to installation, for an external cladding system for a SHoP Architects expansion to the New Mexico contemporary art space SITE Santa Fe. The layers of folded and perforated aluminum cladding for the two entrances help to unify the extension as a whole and mesh it with the museum and the public space. UAP also worked with SHoP on the interiors of the American Copper Buildings in Manhattan. Wahat Al Karama Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates In 2016, UAP worked with British artist Idris Khan to realize the massive memorial park Wahat Al Karama in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The central monument comprises 31 leaning tablets made of aluminum plates recycled from decommissioned armored vehicles. The tablets are inscribed with the names of service members and poems and quotes from Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. At one end of the park is the Pavilion of Honor, completed with bureau^proberts. Made of 2,800 aluminum panels encircling seven glass panels by Khan, the meditative space is a quiet interior pause that complements the monolithic structure outside.
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Goooooooooooooaaaaaal!!

Here are 7 Russian architecture projects to check out before the World Cup begins
As preparations and celebrations unfurl for the 2018 FIFA World Cup kick-off in Russia tomorrow, AN has rounded up our favorite up-and-coming projects (and new sports venues) across the country. From James Bond-esque houses and parachute-themed neighborhoods to massive new developments, Russia has provided a playground for high-profile firms to experiment with new forms. Below are some of the wildest and most ambitious projects announced or completed recently, including the venues for the games themselves: Silhouette Location: Moscow MVRDV The modular Silhouette was the result of a design competition that concluded in January of this year and will serve as a “gateway to Moscow” once completed. The 256-foot-tall, mixed-use complex contains a bit of everything—luxury apartments on the top floors and a roof terrace, offices, a sports center, and a grocery store at its base. The pixelated tower block will be clad in a red ceramic tile, and the form takes cues from abstractions of Moscow’s skyline and the constructivist Ministry of Agriculture building across the street. The extrusions and sculptural cuts at the building’s base were carefully planned to create an inviting presence at ground level. Tuschino District Residential Development Location: Moscow Steven Holl Architects and Kamen Steven Holl Architects and Kamen Architecture Art-Group have proposed a new “Parachute Hybrids” typology for their residential development in Moscow’s Tushino district. Drawing inspiration from the site’s history as a former paratrooper airfield, the vertically-oriented slabs and horizontal bases have been run through with circular cuts reminiscent of parachutes drifting through the sky. Tushino will offer residences of every type and target every income bracket, while a new kindergarten and elementary school will serve residents in the development. “Tushino can be an important urban model for 21st century high density living, shaping public open space,” said Steven Holl. “The new building type we have proposed here, inspired by the site’s history, is unique to this place.” Capital Hill Residence Location: Moscow Zaha Hadid Architects The recently completed Capital Hill Residence was the only private house designed by Hadid herself, and the towering form bears all of the late architect’s signature biomorphic curves. Rising above the tree line of the Moscow’s Barvikha Forest like an emerging submarine, the house’s prominent “mast” seemingly floats 72 feet above the landscape and provides sweeping views. The building’s base gradually tapers into the earth below and provides a private area for the homeowner to retreat to. The organic shape of the concrete and dramatic change in elevation is meant to give viewers the impression of something fast-moving and fluid. Admiral Serebryakov Embankment master plan Location: Novorossiysk Zaha Hadid Architects and Pride TPO (Moscow) ZHA will be responsible for revitalizing nearly 35 acres of coastal neighborhood along the Black Sea in Novorossiysk at Russia’s largest port. Residents can expect new opportunities for outdoor leisure activities on the Black Sea, a new port, marina, new piers, and a weaving of the new areas into the city’s existing urban. The master plan will also bring nine new buildings to the waterfront, each representing a different stage in a sequential iterative design, creating a sweeping, wave-like skyline in the process. The one million square feet of new space will be used for a hotel, civic and conference spaces, and offices. The project is moving quickly, and construction on the first phase will begin in the second half of 2019. Ekaterinburg Arena Location: Yekaterinburg PI Arena (2015-2017 renovation) Originally built in 1956 as the multi-sport Central Stadium, Ekaterinburg Arena was recently renovated in 2011. Although it was modernized, the arena’s 20,000-seat capacity meant that another round of work would be needed to bring the arena up to FIFA’s 35,000 seat minimum. Another renovation took place in 2015 that saved the building’s historic facade and increased the stadium's capacity, but temporary seating to bring the arena’s capacity up to 45,000 seats was still needed, and has been installed behind both goal areas for the four World Cup games being played there. Volgograd Arena Location: Volgograd Sport-Engineering A spiraling lattice swirls around the base of Volgograd Arena, one of the stadiums built for this year’s World Cup. The project was built on a budget, but the exposed superstructure, squat single-piece form, and colorful cable roof makes it architecturally distinct from many of the Soviet-era venues made from concrete. After the World Cup, Volgograd Arena will have its seating capacity reduced down to 35,000 and the stadium will become the new home of local football club Rotor Volgograd. Nizhny Novgorod Stadium Location: Nizhny Novgorod OAO Stroytransgaz A light and airy stadium at the fork of two rivers, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium was designed with elements of air and water in mind. The white-and-blue color palette and spacious use of columns to create open-air areas helps lend the stadium a feeling of openness. At night, the building emanates light from the top and sides through its semi-transparent facade. The stadium was commissioned for the 2018 World Cup and was completed last year. The building boasts a 45,000-seat capacity and will be handed over to football club Olimpiyets Nizhny Novgorod after the World Cup is over.
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Greenroofed Potty

San Francisco’s public toilets get a futuristic redesign
San Francisco is one step closer to finalizing the redesign of its public, self-cleaning toilets.  On Monday, the city selected a futuristic design concept created by SmithGroupJJR from a trio proposals that included bids by Min Design and Branch Creative. The three finalists were unveiled in April, with SmithGroupJJR ultimately selected in an effort to boost the contemporary stylings of the city’s public facilities, according to the San Francisco Department of Public Works. Initially, 12 teams were in the running for the design competition.  The public toilets will operated by bus stop advertising agency JCDecaux and will be funded via income generated from informational and retail kiosks that will be deployed in conjunction with the toilets.  Bill Katz, design principal at SmithGroupJJR, told The San Francisco Chronicle, “The big idea is to combine sculpture and technology. We want an object that literally reflects the surroundings and the neighborhoods that it is in, but also will be forward-looking.” The changes come more than 20 years after San Francisco debuted an initial, Art Nouveaux-inspired public toilet concept in 1996 that has been loved and hated alike by the public. The forest green-colored, pill-shaped facilities are currently dispersed throughout San Francisco’s urban core and are also used in Los Angeles, among other localities. In all, the city aims to install or replace 28 public toilets and 114 kiosks in conjunction with the redesign.  The proposed bathroom facilities will make use of recycled water and are wrapped in reflective metal panels. Current plans call for topping the structures with a rooftop garden. Renderings for the concept include an integrated bench assembly and a ground-level planter, as well.  The new proposals, however, are not uniformly loved, either. Darcy Brown, executive director of the San Francisco Beautiful group, told The Chronicle, [It’s a] “pity we lean toward ‘modern,’ which has a shelf life, as opposed to classic, which is timeless.” San Francisco Beautiful opposed all three of the redesign concepts.  Next, SmithGroupJJR’s proposal will next head to the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Historic Preservation Commission for joint approval. Approval is expected in the fall.
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Risky Business

Renovation of the Smithsons’ Economist Plaza in London is revealed
When one hears of a piece of architecture by Alison and Peter Smithson being altered, the worst comes to mind, particularly when developer Tishman Speyer promises a "wholesale re-imagining." With demolition photographs of the architects' Robin Hood Gardens splayed across every design publication and blog, this protective instinct is more than justified. Now, London firm Deborah Saunt David Hills Architects (DSDHA) has completed Phase One of such a "re-imagining" of the Smithsons' Economist Plaza. And if evidence of this first phase is a precedent for the rest, then we can breathe a momentary sigh of relief, for the project is in safe hands. Comprising a trio of buildings, all varying in height, the Economist Plaza off St James's Street is a quiet enclave in the city, a welcome respite a stone's throw away from the tourist throbbing bustle of Piccadilly Circus. It was designed by Peter and Alison Smithson for the Economist magazine and finished in 1964, a decade after the Smithsons first took to the architectural stage with the Hunstanton Secondary Modern School. Tishman Speyer's decision to employ DSDHA reflects a sensitivity to the project, something it is well-versed in through its management of other 20th century icons like New York's Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center. Its decision to rename the complex to "Smithson Plaza" in the original architects' honor embodies this ethos. The Smithsons' contribution to architecture is enormous. As teachers, writers and academics, they were prolific. But as architects? Not so, and today, their eponymous plaza is their last remaining work in London. DSDHA has refurbished the tallest tower, renamed "Smithson Tower," which rises to 15 stories and was once owned and fully occupied by The Economist. Here, the lobby has had a facelift and the tower has new elevators, double-glazed windows, insulation and services, replacing the Smithsons' unorthodox and outdated ventilation system. A new, 1,500-square-foot public cafe (yet to be finished) has been installed on the tower's ground floor. However, this, combined with a reinstated public art program on for the plaza, heralds the danger of the plaza losing its tranquillity as it becomes both visually and programmatically busier. "We found that many people didn't even know this was a public space," Deborah Saunt, co-founder of DSDHA, told The Architect's Newspaper. Inside the upper six floors of the tower, renovation work has created 21,500 square feet of office space. Who will inhabit that remains to be seen. To its previous tenants, the vistas were a source of empowerment. "Perhaps our height also gives us greater confidence in handing down Olympian judgments on world affairs," the Economist wrote in a 2016 farewell letter after it had sold the premises for $170 million. The tower's facade has also been cleaned to reveal its pitted Portland Stone and Roach Bed stone. On the ground, the plaza has been resurfaced with granite, a material which has been allowed to flow into the new lobby where it replaces what was once concrete flooring. If you ignore the impending planters, the plaza has since become a much lighter space in a show of pure materiality. And when washed in sunlight, the tower's almost gleaning beveled edges are as tactile as any imported verdure. Only now do Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's (SOM's) 1990s interventions, adding a canopy and extending the lobby into the colonnade with glass and travertine cladding, seem horribly hamfisted. DSDHA has done well to undo some of this work, replacing the travertine with Portland Stone, for example. With the lobby gaining a new concrete bench, akin to an original external seat and now sharing materiality with the plaza, the colonnade feels primed to realize its potential as the threshold it was originally intended to be. For the time being, however, the canopy and glass frontage, spaced awkwardly close to the colonnade, remain. More changes had been planned by SOM as well, with two further stories proposed for the plaza's tallest tower. On the 13th of June in 1988, though, the plaza and its buildings were hurriedly awarded Grade II listing (the equivalent of landmarking)—a move which makes you wonder, particularly in the aftermath of the Robin Hood Gardens demolition, where the spirit to preserve architecture has gone. The Smithsons, of course, were aware of change being around the corner. In 1965, they remarked that in 200 years' time, their work "may seem an error." "But in our situation," they continued, "there is no other course but to build and to demonstrate." Even DSDHA's proposals did not come without backlash when they were unveiled in 2016. "The Smithsons’ best and last remaining London building deserves better," wrote critic Ellis Woodman in February 2017, as other architects voiced their concern. Some of DSDHA's plans have been curtailed. A proposed spiral staircase will now be a much simpler slip stair, which will lead to a new gallery space—a conversion of the former car park. These changes are due to be made in later phases as part of the addition of 4,600 square feet of retail space.
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Landmarks Lost

What does the future hold for the leaderless Landmarks Commission?
Though it’s one of the smaller departments in New York City’s large municipal government, the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s impact is as vast as the five boroughs. The regulatory body that identifies and protects the integrity of the city’s most significant structures is an important shaper of its present, future, and the understanding of the past. Yet the LPC finds itself rudderless. On June 1, Commission chairwoman Meenakshi Srinivasan served her last day, having given public notice six weeks before. Mayor Bill de Blasio has not put forward a replacement–and he only filled the vacant vice-chair position last week. (The job went to Commissioner Fred Bland, a prominent architect accused of having conflicts of interest.) The four years of Srinivasan’s tenure marked a significant break, in both substance and style, from her predecessors. To preservationists, Srinivasan has been the most overt supporter yet of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), one of New York City and State’s most powerful interest groups, and preservationists’ most reliable opponent. Because the next appointee will be chosen by De Blasio, as was Srinivasan, preservationists see little cause for hope that her departure will be any more helpful to the Landmarks cause. Just past the halfway mark between De Blasio’s two terms as mayor, it’s an inflection point for his land use program overall. De Blasio has made his affordable housing plan central to the mayoralty, and observers say that it can seem like other elements of land use fall into place around that, rather than being guided by a holistic urban planning agenda. Another recent political move illustrates the dynamic of influence: a move at the state level to eradicate NYC’s longstanding floor area ratio (FAR) zoning requirements has no support from city representatives, but plenty from upstate legislators who are courted by REBNY for votes. “This mayor seems not to have a personal opinion about preservation,” said Anthony C. Wood, a preservation activist and historian. “It appears he needs REBNY to advance his priorities in affordable housing, so he’s willing to facilitate their priorities when it comes to landmarking.” REBNY tends to oppose landmarking protections as obstacles to new development. Under Srinivasan, Wood said, “The philosophy appears to have been a constrained view of what the Commission can and should do. The strategy seems to have been operationally rewriting the law rather than legislatively.” The ways that Srinivasan’s tenure broke with precedent are many. Based on interviews with LPC staff, commissioners, and preservation advocates, top complaints include: pressure from the chair on staffers to provide certain action recommendations, and on commissioners to vote certain ways; sudden campaigns by the chair to make major overhauls (a rush to clear a decades-long backlog between 2014 and 2015, and a push for rules changes this year are just two examples); moving some business from the portfolio of the Commission to that of the staff, thus removing these items from public deliberation; a lack of interest in maintaining high standards for historically congruous building envelopes and materials; a demoralized and overworked staff with higher-than-normal turnover and open positions that go unfilled, and a commitment to outer-borough landmark designations, even when they come before at the cost of more-deserving Manhattan locations. One such example is the designation of the Coney Island Boardwalk–which is no longer all-wood, nor in its original location–as a feel-good photo-op, while the history-drenched Bowery between Cooper Square and Chatham Square, recognized by the National Register of Historic Places, has been rebuffed by LPC and is being redeveloped day by day. Other sources of preservationist angst include the potential razing of iconic Lower East Side tenements that served as a crucible of American immigration, as well as Sunset Park, Brooklyn, where a historic district desired by residents has not been embraced by the LPC, among many examples. But the Mayor’s office points to a variety of Srinivasan’s actions as meaningful achievements, and anticipates nominating her replacement this summer. Not only did the LPC designate over 3,800 buildings and sites across the five boroughs during her tenure (including 67 individual landmarks, 3 interior landmarks, 1 scenic landmark, and 9 historic districts); it ruled up or down on the many “calendared” properties that had never had hearings; enhanced the consideration of cultural, not just architectural, significance for designations, and created new online databases, such as this website about NYC archaeology, among other initiatives. Asked for specific comment on several questions, REBNY, for its part, supplied a positive review of Srinivasan, who previously chaired the city board that reviews requests from property owners for zoning variances. REBNY President John H. Banks said: "As she did at the Board of Standards and Appeals, Meenakshi effectively balanced competing interests for the public good. She did a terrific job of fairly administering the Landmarks Law, protecting our city's architectural and historic resources, and professionalizing the operations of the agency to benefit all New Yorkers.” Michael Devonshire, a LPC commissioner and the body’s most outspoken preservationist, isn’t so sure. Devonshire has held the unpaid volunteer post since 2010, while working as director of conservation at the architecture and preservation firm Jan Hird Pokorny Associates, and as a teacher at Columbia University. He worries about the Commission’s recent turn toward approving more ahistorical modifications to landmarks. “We have been given a legacy in this city of buildings that are culturally and architecturally significant, and we have the ability to recognize that and designate buildings and districts,” said Devonshire. “My fear is that the incremental loss of the significant sites and buildings results in an aggregate loss for the generations to come. You can’t recreate them.” On its best day, the LPC faces an uphill battle because adding new landmarks and historic districts means continually increasing its own regulatory workload. It remains to be seen whether the Commission can regain its footing under a new chairperson. Advocates say they are not optimistic about a “true preservationist” being appointed under Mayor De Blasio, and they’re wary of naming favorite candidates for fear of jinxing their chances. (REBNY also declined to name a shortlist.) Instead, Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council, said it’s not about who, but what. Bankoff says the mayor should instruct the new chair to do three things: “Respect their promises to neighborhoods who want to be landmarked (e.g. Sunset Park). Make preservation an actual part of the municipal planning process (e.g. in Gowanus, East Harlem, the Bronx, etc.). Stop signing away the farm to every plush bottom with a fat wallet.” Soon he’ll find out whether, in De Blasio’s New York, that’s too much to ask. Karen Loew is a writer in New York. She worked at the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation from 2013-2015.
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Arched Areas

First Serpentine Pavilion in Beijing is unveiled by JIAKUN Architects
The Serpentine Pavilion just went international after opening its first destination outside the U.K. in Beijing, China. The inaugural Serpentine Pavilion Beijing is open to the public from May 30 through October 31, on Wangfujing in the Dongcheng District. Cantilevering metal ribs span the WF CENTRAL public square, and are anchored by cables onto the ground’s steel slab. As architecture in Beijing regularly deals with strong winds and earthquakes, the form of the rib resembles the profile of a bow, which is a design symbolizing how a Tai Chi Master has the ability “to conquer the harshness of those forces [resistances to architecture] with softness.” The design of the renowned Chinese practice JIAKUN Architects, led by architect and educator Liu Jiakun, was chosen because it responds well to Beijing’s unique historic and social context. It also references the past 18 designs of Serpentine Pavilions in London’s Royal Park of Kensington Gardens, including works by Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and other key figures. JIAKUN Architects was inspired by Confucius’s invention of the traditional concept of Junzi, or the Exemplary Man. The pavilion presents a space for people to be enlightened and to contemplate on the Confucian philosophy. The design is reminiscent of the Liu’s previous works, which combines contemporary architecture issues with an approach influenced by Chinese folk wisdom. West Village – Basis Yard and Chengdu MOCA are among his other famous projects. The Serpentine Pavilion Beijing will be the venue for five “Pavilion Weekends” over the summer and will host a series of art, cultural and lifestyle programs. It will also include lectures by celebrated artists and architects, well-being workshops, lawn parties, children’s disco classes and outdoor art-cinemas. The Serpentine Galleries in London has commissioned a leading architect to design a temporary summer pavilion every year since 2000. This year they commissioned Mexican architect Frida Escobedo.