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The Weight of Sacrifice

National WWI Memorial moves ahead with controversial Pershing Park plan
Years ago, Frank Gehry asked sculptor Sabin Howard to help him design a memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower in Washington, D.C. Though the job didn’t pan out for “stylistic reasons,” Howard said, it planted the seed that grew his interest in creating commemorative spaces. “I proved to have too much of an opinion,” Howard told AN. “I said to Frank, ‘Look, do you want me to be your in-house sculptor or you want me to tell you what I really think?’ He goes, ‘Shoot,” and I said, “Well it looks like you designed the Natural History Museum here.” Had he taken the job, Howard would have been engulfed in what’s turned out to be a two-decade-long controversial battle to get the memorial built ahead of the 2020 Victory in Europe Day. While he didn’t end up on this monumental project in the nation's capital, he did venture into the complexities of another. This spring, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) approved Howard’s sculptural contribution to the upcoming National WWI Memorial in Pershing Park, a 1.76-acre landscape set along Pennsylvania Avenue in D.C. Designed by Joseph Weishaar,The Weight of Sacrifice” is the result of another two-decade controversial effort to pay tribute to an often overlooked period of history. A Soldier’s Journey, Howard’s massive, 60-foot-long, 10-foot-high bronze figure sculpture, will be the centerpiece of the renovated landscape, and a major component of the project that took years for preservationists and the U.S. government to sign off on. “As an entire team, we struggled with the urban context at the beginning,” said Weishaar, who was selected for the project just a few years after graduating from the University of Arkansas’s Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design in 2013. “Where do you draw the boundaries between urban park and memorial?” This was one of the biggest questions that needed to be answered. Unlike most major war memorials in Washington, D.C., this one is not located on the National Mall, though in late 2017 it was hoping to be moved there. It’s slated for Pershing Park, steps away from the White House. Opened in May 1981, the park was an instant success, featuring a design by award-winning landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg. Among its most distinctive features is a monumental fountain that flows into a pond that becomes an ice rink every winter, protected by subtle grade changes from the surrounding hustle and bustle. In recent years, the revered landscape had begun suffering from neglect and underuse. The new plan to restore 95 percent of the protected urban park has been met with major contention, despite the efforts of Weishaar and The U.S. World War One Centennial Commission, the group created in 2012 to fundraise and lobby for the project, to respect the site’s historic legacy and help it stand out. “We want to recapture some of the energy the park had when it was first completed and then overlay this new design element of the memorial so that it won’t take away from the landscape,” Weishaar said. “If you make memorials too big and too oppressive, then that’s all anybody can focus on. They won’t sit there and eat their lunch. They’ll always feel like they have to be reverent.”
Everything visible in current renderings of the memorial is the result of several redesigns, all to make the architectural intervention smaller and smaller. Since Weishaar’s design was selected out of 360 entries in January 2016, he’s reworked the scheme to appease preservation groups as well as the CFA, National Capital Planning Commission, and the National Park Service. Though the largest addition to Pershing Park will be the memorial sculpture itself, not everyone is satisfied with the final look. Charles Birnbaum, president and CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF), has both testified before the CFA and submitted a letter to NPS about his concerns. “I’m about as glass-half-full on this as I could probably be, but I’m proud of the public process that TCLF participated in,” he told AN. “At the end of the day, it’s unfortunate that the central water feature will not remain and I still believe that having a wall of this length and height will significantly alter the visual and spatial relationship between the upper and lower plazas.” Weishaar’s plan integrates water as a focal point but has significantly reduced the size of the park's existing water feature to allow people to walk up close to the relief sculpture—a moment on the site that Howard was keen on highlighting. The story unfolds before the viewer’s eyes—a person of average height will see the knees of the figures straight on. “I want people to have a visceral reaction to this,” Howard said. “It reads like a film.” Though the sculpture seems traditional, Howard utilized a contemporary process called photogrammetry to create it. He took images with his cell phone of actors portraying scenes from wartime and then combined the individual shots to find the pattern that would create the best flow for the visual story. It took him 12 versions, done over nine months, to determine the final relief. From there, he spent 700 hours over two months drawing a detailed mock-up of the piece. “For this part, I wasn’t even sculpting,” Howard said. “I was creating a hierarchical construction, a system of design that we could break down to do the sculpture quickly.” This kind of commission, he said, is something that would have taken him 15 years to complete, but he’s been charged with doing it in four. He begins sculpting in August now that nearly all approvals have gone through, and he'll be working with the Pangolin Editions sculpture foundry in England to assemble the figure molds. “I’m trying to be as disruptive as possible,” Howard said. “I never thought my career would take this kind of turn into using tech to create classical figurative art, but I don’t think I can go back now.” As for the potential collaboration with Gehry, Howard's not sure where that journey would have taken him. In working with Weishaar, however, he's impressed himself with the lengths at which he and the design team have been willing to go to make this memorial happen.  “To me, art is not democratic,” he said. “But the park is. I was very stubborn with the sculpture design, but Joseph had to be very flexible with the landscape.” When Weishaar submitted his design for the commission, he was just 25 years old, about the average age of a soldier who fought in the war. While making his proposal, he learned more about the history of WWI than he ever did in grade school, he said. It's become his mission—and his job—to spread the word.  “Not only are we turning this park into a memorial, we’re also putting both the landscape and the war back on the map and on the minds of people.” Originally, the National WWI Memorial was supposed to be completed by November 2018 ahead of the war's centennial. Now, the project is estimated to be done in late 2021, pending fundraising. The design team will meet with the CFA again this summer to further discuss the site plan.
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The Summer of New Releases

Spring into summer with these enthralling architecture books
A new crop of architecture, art, and urbanism books have come out just in time to make the summer reading list, and they span the range from biographies to ballparks. Worried about what to read over the long Memorial Day weekend? Check out one of the below books, and remember that any book can be a beach read if you're brave enough. Gropius: The Man Who Built the Bauhaus Fiona MacCarthy Belknap Press (Harvard University Press) MSRP $35.00 A slew of new books and reissues have arrived in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus, but for those craving a bit more personal insight into the life of the notoriously uptight Walter Gropius, Fiona MacCarthy’s biography will be sure to scratch that itch. While Gropius may not have led as libertine a life as his contemporary and Man in the Glass House subject Philip Johnson, Gropius paints a picture of the man as a disciplined collaborator, without whom Marcel Breuer, Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier wouldn’t have been able to reach their full potential. While Gropius himself produced few built works, the book bearing his name argues that his influence can still be felt today. Ballpark: Baseball in the American City Paul Goldberger Knopf MSRP $35.00 Is there a more American sport for the summer weather? Possibly, but as Paul Goldberger argues, baseball has been the most influential (hence the book’s title). The diamond’s shape and regulation size drive the design of not only ballparks, but, Goldberger argues, urban development and culture, as well. Train lines spring up to deliver sports fans to their stadiums, physical infrastructure of the venue changed to accommodate new media, and baseball stadiums continue to evolve alongside contemporary urban planning and design. Aesthetics Equals Politics: New Discourses across Art, Architecture, and Philosophy Mark Foster Gage (Editor) The MIT Press MSRP $34.95 Can a broader understanding of the nebulous concept of “aesthetics” help us navigate these turbulent times? In Aesthetics Equals Politics, Mark Foster Gage and Matt Shaw rally architects, philosophers, writers, curators, and more in an attempt to create, or uncover, the framework on which to base new understandings of art and architecture. Movement, abstraction, and art in the post-digital age are all examined, as is design at the small scale all the way up to the cosmic, in a series of essays from well-known practitioners and theorists. Architecture of Nature: Nature of Architecture Diana Agrest Applied Research & Design MSRP $49.95 Eight years of collected research from “Architecture of Nature/ Nature of Architecture,” an advanced research graduate studio at the Cooper Union, have been compiled into a hardcover edition that lets each case study breathe. Splashy-full page diagrams and renderings complement research on volcanic activity, the spread of nuclear fallout, coral reef regeneration, “unrepressing” nature, and more. Taken together, the projects in Architecture of Nature blur the lines between architecture and nature, revealing the hidden divisions that slice the Earth. Aldo Rossi and the Spirit of Architecture Diane Ghirardo Yale University Press MSRP $65.00 Ghirardo’s new monograph bounces between Rossi's work while never shying away from the personal life of the artist, architect, industrial designer, writer, and Pritzker winner. Biography and Rossi’s reflections on his own work are interwoven with examples of historical precedents to paint a fuller picture of how selected works were conceived and executed. Aldo Rossi examines the foundations of its subject’s work and reassesses (and reinforces) Rossi’s position at the base of the Postmodern movement.
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On Chestnut Hill

NADAAA integrates past and present at Beaver Country Day
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The Beaver Country Day School, founded in 1920, is located in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. The school completed three major expansions to its campus over the course of its near-century-long existence, and in 2017, NADAAA and facade consultant Studio NYL completed a project to bridge these accretions into a cohesive whole with a comprehensive revamp of the interior and an enclosure system dominated by vertically-shingled phenolic panels and an expansive glass curtain wall. The oldest structure on the campus is the masonry-and-brick main academic building. The science wing and library were both constructed in the second half of the twentieth century, with the library being a brutalist, largely concrete presence. To link these structures into a more cohesive space with a greater connection to the principal academic building, the design grafted an additional floor atop the 1967 additions and created a new three-floor hall.
  • Facade Manufacturer FunderMax Efco Viracon
  • Architect NADAAA
  • Facade Installer R&R Group
  • Facade Consultant Studio NYL
  • Location Chestnut Hill, MA
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System EFCO Series 402 Thermal Storefront Framing EFCO System 5600 Curtainwall
  • Products Viracon Bronze VNE1-63 & VE4-2M,and Clear VNE1-63 Fundermax Phenolic Panels F Quality 8mm Finish: Enigma 0923NT Greengirt Simple Z 300 3" Cosella Dorken: Delta Fassade S
The focal point of the nearly 40,000-square-foot project is the courtyard with a landscape designed with Reed Hilderbrand. From there, the project has a cohesive character defined by wood-veneered phenolic panels that modulate from flat cladding to projecting fins for sun-shading. Each of the panels is attached to light-gauge steel stud walls through a fiberglass stand-off and hidden aluminum brackets. "We wanted the intervention to reinforce the courtyard's insularity but allow views from all the surrounding spaces," said NADAAA principal Arthur Chang. "The phenolic panels treated with a light wood finish line the open-air chamber, contrasting it with the brick and concrete of the existing architecture, creating a uniquely singular identity for this interior public space." Within the courtyard, one of the more technologically complex components is the transition from the rainscreen to a projected glass curtainwall. The curtainwall effectively functions as a cantilevered bay window, providing natural light for an internal corridor that serves as a recreational area for students. According to Studio NYL founding principal and facade director Chris O’Hara, “The challenge of the projected glass curtainwall resulted from maintaining a thin visual structure while maintaining thermal continuity. Steel blades jut out from the structure to cantilever the window, which is in turn sided with metal flashing and insulated by two layers of adjacent Dow blanket to maintain thermal continuity.” The north elevation of the Research + Design Center significantly breaks from the material palette of the courtyard with an angled glass curtainwall. For the curtainwall, the design team utilized EFCO's System 5600, which effectively conceals the fasteners holding the glass panels in place. Custom aluminum snap covers are placed horizontally across the curtainwall, a stylistic flourish to evoke the brick bonding of the historical context while also diffusing rainwater.
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Augmented Materiality

Designer and engineer Nassia Inglessis creates responsive canopy
Today, most people live in cities—artificial structures that determine how we move through space and relate to others and the world around us. But, all too often these cities feel fixed, designed and determined by larger powers that shape a landscape that the average denizen has little direct influence over. So what would a responsive city, one that worked like a natural ecosystem and subsumed participants in its very fabric, look like? This is the question that Nassia Inglessis, founder of Studio INI, is provoking in her installation Urban Imprint, now on display in Brooklyn at A/D/O by MINI. A 340-square-foot pavilion, Urban Imprint invites visitors to move all over a field of brick-red, water-jet-cut rubber-concrete composite tiles that sinks slightly underneath one's feet, in turn deforming a hidden web of laser-cut steel below. Above, a web of that same brick-red material deforms upwards, rising in direct proportion to the weight of participants on the platform. The entire project was conceived and prototyped in just under six months, fabricated in Athens and then shipped to New York for its unveiling during New York Design Week. So often, Inglessis said, our cities are a “design that somebody has given us and we have to navigate.” From the grid of Manhattan to the walls of a building, “there is no imprint that you are leaving behind, no evidence that you've been there.” This lack of interaction leaves citizens feeling “muted,” Inglessis said, “you feel just part of somebody else's design, and we often feel that we are quite lonely in the city.” Urban Imprint is designed to resist this static notion of architecture. “It doesn't have a final form and it never will because the human element is what completes the design.” Plus, when more than one person steps on the surface, it reconfigures entirely how you relate to one another—your sightlines and ground shift and move, and the effect of other participants in this microcosm of urban space is quite palpable. You're all participating in remaking this "space." While “there are a lot of digital tools and fabrication and computational design that went into [Urban Imprint], the actual end result is completely analog,” Inglessis explained. A series of pulleys with cables hidden behind the red-hued mirrors, a color chosen to accentuate the brick facade of the former industrial space, operate the entire process. In function, Urban Imprint is like “a physical megaphone,” suggested Inglessis—taking the deformation of its participants and expanding it four times above their head, helping visitors imagine what it would be like to “have your urban environment give evidence of your presence.” Speaking on the choice of creating a analogue, mechanical final form, Inglessis reflected: “Although I had the knowledge and tools of all these amazing new capabilities that have opened up from computational design and digital fabrication tools [both of which were used to design and fabricate the steel and rubber-concrete components], I felt there was so much activity moving us towards living in a headset.” Instead, she said, “we should look at technology and the new digital tools as a means to an end, rather than an end itself.” So often, beyond just simulating the “real world” on screens and headsets, many new mixed-reality technologies just overlay digital elements onto a physical world that’s “still pretty static.” Instead of augmented reality, Inglessis proposes “augmented materiality,” a sort of “new analog” that blends old and new fabrication, production, and experiential tools to create new possibilities in our physical, urban world. In Urban Imprint, she says, “the material itself has the ability to transform, to be dynamic, to create interaction, and to be seamless.” Urban Imprint was realized by Inglessis with the help of Manos Vordonarakis and the Studio INI team. It will be on view at A/D/O in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, until September 2.
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Sacrebleu

The Eiffel Tower’s landscape will be redesigned before the 2024 Olympics
The city of Paris has selected the London-based landscape architecture studio Gustafson Porter + Bowman (GP+B) to redevelop the square-mile “grand site” surrounding the Eiffel Tower. GP+B’s plan, OnE, will reorganize the site into a more linear experience, complete with new parks, reflecting pools, kiosks, and an amphitheater—turning the strip into Paris’s largest park. The announcement stems from a competition launched in 2018 to renovate the areas immediately adjacent to the tower to improve safety, reduce wait times to get to the tower, and overall make the plaza a more enjoyable (and easier to navigate) place. Improving the pedestrian flow around one of the city’s most tourist-friendly landmarks is especially important with the 2024 Summer Olympics rapidly approaching. Rounding out the GP+B team are preservation experts Atelier Monchecourt & Co and French urban design firm Sathy. Together, their winning multi-stage master plan creates a central axis that runs west-to-east beneath the tower, using it as a central point to connect “Place du Trocadéro, the Palais de Chaillot, the Pont d’Iéna, the Champ de Mars, and the Ecole Militaire,” according to GP+B. That includes hopping over the River Seine and turning the existing Pont d’Iéna bridge into a greenway, and restoring the esplanades on either side. Throughout the landscape, the team has used the linear design to strategically frame views of the Eiffel Tower and surrounding city. Beyond that, the corridors and “glades” carved out from the park will be used to host temporary events, including concerts and public art shows. This combination of form and function was described by GP+B in a press release as a melding of “classical French gardens,” typically used to denote wealth and power, and “French picturesque gardens,” where artistic experimentation flourished. Trees will also be planted to help bolster the area’s biodiversity. The $39 million master plan is being enacted in phases, with the first to be finished by 2023, and the second, more ambitious section slated for completion in 2030.
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Re-Imagining the Modern

New book grapples with ambitious, contentious moment in Pittsburgh’s urban history
Imagining the Modern: Architecture and Urbanism of the Pittsburgh Renaissance Rami el Samahy, Chris Grimley, and Michael Kubo The Monacelli Press List Price: $50.00 In times of cynicism, revisiting more optimistic moments in architecture can conjure mixed emotions. Mid-century architects, designers, and planners exuded the optimistic belief that architecture and design could solve social ills worldwide—a spirit celebrated in recent exhibitions of Latin America and Yugoslavia at MoMA, and new books on Miami’s modernism. In a new book, Imagining the Modern: Architecture and Urbanism of the Pittsburgh Renaissance (Monacelli Press), Rami el Samahy, Chis Grimley, and Michael Kubo paint a vivid picture of the mixed emotions evoked by the changing urban landscape in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a city heralded as a role model of rustbelt reinvention. The book functions as an introduction to a complex moment in the city’s history, looking at Pittsburgh as a case study in a broader moment of urban renewal in many U.S. cities. Pittsburgh was deemed “the Mecca of urban renewal” in Architectural Forum in 1957, and yet Imagining the Modern is the first book to chronicle the city’s modernist history in a comprehensive way. The book emerged from a 2015–2016 curatorial experiment at the Carnegie Museum of Art’s Heinz Architectural Center, overseen by curator Raymund Ryan. Ryan invited the book’s authors, principles of the Boston-based studio OverUnder, to be architects-in-residence in the museum and explore Pittsburgh’s contentious relationship to urban renewal in an exhibition. The trio went to great lengths to dig up photography, publications, ephemera, and other documents around five Pittsburgh neighborhoods and projects: Gateway Center, the Lower Hill, Allegheny Center, East Liberty, and Oakland. The exhibition’s walls were plastered with unsung gems from local archives, and a series of panel discussions affiliated with the exhibition added to the cacophony of voices measuring the legacy of urban renewal and how architects ought to respond. Imagining the Modern distills this rich material in a manageable way, in the spirit of the authors’ reappraisal of Boston’s mid-century concrete, Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston (Monacelli Press). Their new book specifically deals with the built and imagined architectural transformations of Pittsburgh in the 1950s and ‘60s, and with even a quick flip through the book one can see the changing urban fabric of the city. Imagining the Modern includes a wonderful array of high-quality images and well-designed diagrams—from archival documents to photographs to city maps, the stunning visual display is captivating and invites the reader to explore “the manifold ways in which the modern was imagined in Pittsburgh.” Imagining the Modern offers several modes of engagement rather than taking a strong position on Pittsburgh’s modern legacy. Scholars Kelly Hutzell, Caroline Constant, and Martin Aurand provide historical context and analysis for the development of Pittsburgh’s urban form and infrastructure. The book includes a series of diagrams entitled “Modern Networks” by Aurand that map the extensive networks of public and private entities that commissioned local modern architecture. The diagrams reflect the complexity of the patronage that funded this “Pittsburgh Renaissance;” one could spend hours trying to decipher the often confusing lines between architects, buildings (both built and unbuilt), commissions, and patrons. At the heart of the book are archival documents, which the authors present as evidence for readers to arrive at their own conclusions. A section of the book is devoted to reproductions of excerpts from two “Visionary Documents” that outlined the challenges for modernist designers to solve—pollution, traffic congestion, housing, parking, urban blight—while also suggesting ways to remedy such issues through architecture and design. Imagining the Modern goes on to show readers how plans for Pittsburgh neighborhoods and infrastructure were marketed, sometimes successfully, to respond to these issues through superlatives and dazzling renderings. Pittsburgh positioned itself as a “Cinderella City,” as a headline put it in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on June 30, 1953: “Ridiculed, scorned and snubbed for over a century and a half, Pittsburgh throws off her pall to become the ‘City of Tomorrow.’” As steel production left the region and factories closed in the 1950s and ‘60s, dazzling buildings of mid-century modern buildings by leading architects rose with a zeal unfathomable today. Harrison & Abramovitz, Mitchell & Ritchey, Simonds & Simonds, and Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), to name a few, all built memorable works in Pittsburgh around this time. Imagining the Modern shows the development of the city’s most iconic buildings alongside ambitious plans that remain unbuilt, including one scheme that proposed filling the Oakland neighborhood’s Panther Hollow ravine with a mile-long research facility to bridge the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. Rather than allowing the beautiful architectural renderings and photography to simply seduce the reader—which, occasionally, they do—Imagining the Modern also shows a collection of excerpts from the architectural and popular press responding to these proposals. The book juxtaposes the cheerleading coverage of The Pittsburgh Press alongside the coordinated, albeit unsuccessful, campaign by The Pittsburgh Courier to thwart plans for the displacement of thousands of mostly Black residents of the Lower Hill. The book’s photography also humanizes the actors on both sides of the city’s transformation, with moving images of people designing, building, debating, celebrating, protesting, photographing, and using the new works. Refreshingly, the book complexifies the role of architects in this transformative moment as well. Interviews and works by Troy West, for example, show that architects weren’t only the handmaidens of the powerful—his teaching and collaborative practices, which he operated as Architecture 2001 and Community Design Associates, offered an alternative model to the top-down design and planning approaches that often mar the legacy of postwar design. Instead of staking claims about the history of Pittsburgh’s modernism, Imagining the Modern showcases the debate that optimistic work by designers and planners continue to provoke. At a time when cities across the U.S. are working tirelessly to reverse the effects of urban renewal—understood as a pseudonym for “Negro removal,” as Dr. Mindy Fullilove suggests in her book Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America, And What We Can Do About It—this book asks readers to take a closer look at a few urban visions through a mix of historical essays, sexy images, riotous press clippings, enlightening diagrams, insightful interviews, and informative project descriptions that offer everyone an entry into a fraught urban and architectural moment.
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Flat Earth

Artist explores ideology of California's built environment
Working between Los Angeles and Joshua Tree, California, artist Aili Schmeltz culls from a wide array of architectural and design iconographies, reducing and remixing them in paintings and sculptures, to question their ideological underpinnings. In A Future Perfect, her solo show on display now at the Los Angeles gallery Edward Cella Art & Architecture, Schmeltz toys with art deco and modernist visual languages that compose so much of the built landscape of Southern California. She pushes motifs from both styles into abstraction in order to trouble the “utopian” ideologies underpinning both the modernist architectural project and the United States’ westward expansion. The work in A Future Perfect was in part inspired by another, large-scale undertaking of Schmeltz's. According to the gallery, she had been working to turn “a homesteader cabin near Joshua Tree into an exhibition space and live-in gallery called Outpost Projects.” While painting the walls gallery-white, she “noticed an optical effect of the surrounding landscape shifting forward spatially through the windows while the walls receded into background.” This strange visual experience compelled her to play with flatness and three-dimensional architectonic forms with her paintings and sculptures designed to be interpreted as “both objects and windows.” It also pushed her to investigate the legacy of artists, architects, homesteaders, and others who have shaped the perception of our world, particularly of the post-colonial Western United States. Schmeltz is thinking through history and ideology not just with visual motifs, but also with ways of seeing. With references as wide-ranging as Louise Nevelson, Donald Judd, Le Corbusier, John Lautner, Richard Neutra, Hilma af Klint, and Frank Lloyd Wright, Schmeltz’s painted de- and re-constructions (all part of a series titled Object/Window/Both/Neither) challenge us in their total flatness, while the cinder block plinths that the sculptural forms sit on evoke the very fundamentals of the act of building, turning architectural decoration into strange objects. Schmeltz's geometric abstractions, in their obvious constructedness, toy with the artificiality of our own contemporary “landscapes,” universes that have been built and shaped by human action and that carry so many hidden meanings and histories. Aili Schmeltz: A Future Perfect Edward Cella Art & Architecture May 11 through June 22, 2019
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Location, location, location

How Baidu Maps turns location data into 3-D cityscapes—and big profits

Level 3, number 203. Turn right 10 feet. Go straight for 15 feet. The best way to experience data's strong grip on everyday life in China is to open up Baidu Maps, a mapping app by China’s biggest search engine company, and walk around a shopping mall for one afternoon. Inside the building, a network of Bluetooth beacons, Wi-Fi modems, and satellites from a global navigation satellite system whir and ping through the air and the ionosphere to determine your precise location. The map on the Baidu app tilts to reveal an elaborately modeled 3-D cityscape.

The resolution of Baidu Maps is stunning: Entire cities are modeled in 3-D. Within public buildings, the floorplan of each building level is precisely mapped. As I stand inside the Taikoo Hui Mall in the city of Guangzhou, China, I search for a store within the mall. Baidu Maps reveals which level the store is on and how many meters I need to walk. Strolling through the mall with the app tracking my location with a blue dot on the screen, life starts to feel like a virtual reality experience. The difference between the map's 3-D model and the reality beneath my feet is smaller than ever. The 3-D model makes an uncanny loop: Virtual models were used by architects and designers to design these spaces, which now unfold on a messy plane between real space and screen space.

China now has its own tech giants—Alibaba, JD.com, Tencent Holdings, and Baidu—homegrown behind the Great Firewall of China. Like their American counterparts, these companies have managed to surveil their users and extract valuable data to create new products and features. Baidu began as a search engine, but has now branched out into autonomous driving, and therefore, maps. The intricacy of its 3-D visualizations is the result of over 600 million users consulting the app for navigation every day or using apps that rely on Baidu Maps in the background, such as weather apps that rely on its geolocation features.

The tech company, like its counterparts such as Google, take advantage of multiple features available in smartphones. Smartphones possess the ability to determine users’ positions by communicating with an array of satellites such as GPS (Global Positioning Service); GLONASS, Russia’s version of GPS; or BeiDou, China’s satellite navigation system. Such satellite systems are public infrastructures created by American, Russian, and Chinese governments, respectively, that enable our phones to determine users’ precise longitude and latitude coordinates. The majority of apps and services on smartphones rely on location services, from food delivery to restaurant reviews. However, satellite navigation systems are still imprecise—they are often a few meters off, with anything from the weather to tall buildings affecting accuracy.

However, smartphones contain more than satellite signal receiver chips. A slew of other sensors, such as accelerometers, light sensors, and magnets are embedded in the average smartphone. In 2015, Baidu invested $10 million in IndoorAtlas, a Silicon Valley startup that specializes in indoor mapping. The company's technology is at the forefront of magnetic positioning, which allows indoor maps at 1-meter accuracy to be created simply by using an average smartphone. This technology relies on the Earth's geomagnetic field and the magnets in smartphones. By factoring in the unique magnetic "fingerprint" of each building based on the composition of its materials, such as steel, a building's floor plan can be mapped out without any data provided by the architect. However, this strategy requires user data at scale; multiple user paths need to be recorded and averaged out to account for any anomalies. Gathering large amounts of data from users becomes an imperative.

Floorplans aside, magnetic positioning is not the only dimension of user location data collection that allows data to become a spatial model. As people drive, bike, and walk, each user generates a spatial "trace" that also has velocity data attached to it. Through such data, information about the type of path can be derived: Is it a street, a sidewalk, or a highway? This information becomes increasingly useful in improving the accuracy of Baidu Maps itself, as well as Baidu's autonomous vehicle projects.

The detailed 3-D city models on Baidu Maps offer data that urban designers dream of, but such models only serve Baidu's interests. Satellite navigation system accuracy deteriorates in urban canyons, due to skyscrapers and building density, obscuring satellites from the receiver chip. These inaccuracies are problematic for autonomous vehicles, given the "safety critical" nature of self-driving cars. Baidu's 3-D maps are not just an aesthetic “wow factor” but also a feature that addresses positioning inaccuracies. By using 3-D models to factor in the sizes and shapes of building envelopes, inaccuracies in longitude and latitude coordinates can be corrected.

Much of this research has been a race between U.S. and Chinese companies in the quest to build self-driving cars. While some 3-D models come from city planning data, in China's ever-changing urban landscape, satellite data has proved far more helpful in generating 3-D building models. Similar to Google's 3-D-generated buildings, a combination of shadow analysis, satellite imagery, and street view have proved essential for automatically creating 3-D building models rather than the manual task of user-generated, uploaded buildings or relying on city surveyors for the most recent and accurate building dimensions.

None of this data is available to the people who design cities or buildings. Both Baidu and Google have End User License Agreements (EULAs) that restrict where their data can be used, and emphasize that such data has to be used within Baidu or Google apps. Some data is made available for computer scientists and self-driving car researchers, such as Baidu's Research Open-Access Dataset (BROAD) training data sets. Most designers have to rely on free, open-source data such as Open Street Maps, a Wikipedia-like alternative to Baidu and Google Maps. By walling off valuable data that could help urban planning, tech companies are gaining a foothold and control over the reality of material life: they have more valuable insights into transport networks and the movements of people than urban designers do. It's no surprise then, that both Baidu and Google are making forays into piloting smart cities like Toronto’s Quayside or Shanghai's Baoshan District, and gaining even greater control over urban space. No doubt, urban planning and architecture are becoming increasingly automated and privately controlled in the realm of computer scientists rather than designers.

In Shoshana Zuboff's 2019 book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, she examines how tech companies throughout the world are employing surveillance and data extraction methods to turn users into free laborers. Our “behavioral surplus,” as she terms it, becomes transformed into products that are highly lucrative for these companies, and feature proprietary, walled-off data that ordinary users cannot access, even though their labor has helped create these products. These products are also marketed as “predictive,” which feeds the desires of companies that hope to anticipate users’ behavior—companies that see users only as targets of advertising.

Over the past several years, American rhetoric surrounding the Chinese “surveillance state” has reached fever pitch. But while China is perceived to be a single-party communist country with state-owned enterprises that do its bidding, the truth is, since the 1990s, much of the country’s emphasis has been on private growth. Baidu is a private company, not a state-owned enterprise. Companies like Baidu have majority investment from global companies, including many U.S.-based funds like T. Rowe Price, Vanguard, and BlackRock. As China's economy slows down, the government is increasingly pressured to play by the rules of the global capitalist book and offer greater freedom to private companies alongside less interference from the government. However, private companies often contract with the government to create surveillance measures used across the country.

The rhetoric about the dangers of Chinese state surveillance obfuscates what is also happening in American homes—literally. As Google unveils home assistants that interface with other “smart” appliances, and Google Maps installed on mobile phones tracks user locations, surveillance becomes ubiquitous. Based on your location data, appliances can turn on as you enter your home, and advertisements for milk from your smart fridge can pop up as you walk by the grocery stores. Third-party data provider companies also tap into geolocation data, and combined with the use of smart objects like smart TVs, toasters, and fridges, it's easy to see why the future might be filled with such scenarios. Indeed, if you own certain smart appliances, Google probably knows what the inside of your home is like. In 2018, iRobot, the maker of the Roomba vacuum, announced that it was partnering with Google to improve the indoor mapping of homes, and now setting up a Roomba with Google Home has never been easier. Big tech companies in the U.S. would like us to believe that surveillance is worse elsewhere, when really, surveillance capitalism is a global condition.

Over the past 30 years, cities around the world have been the locus of enormous economic growth and corresponding increases in inequality. Metropolitan areas with tech-driven economies, such as the Shenzhen-Guangzhou-Hong Kong corridor and the Greater Bay Area, are home to some of the largest tech companies in the world. They are also home to some of the most advanced forms of technological urbanism: While Baidu may not have every single business mapped in rural China, it certainly has the listing of every shop in every mall of Guangzhou.

The overlap between cities as beacons of capital and as spaces where surveillance is ubiquitous is no coincidence. As Google’s parent company, Alphabet, makes moves to build cities and as Baidu aggressively pursues autonomous driving, data about a place, the people who live there, and their daily movements is increasingly crucial to the project of optimizing the city and creating new products, which in turn generates more wealth and more inequality. Places like San Francisco and Shenzhen are well-mapped by large tech companies but harbor some of the worst income gaps in the world.

The "smart city" urbanism enabled by surveillance and ubiquitous data collection is no different from other forms of development that erode affordable housing and public space. Reclaiming our cities in this digital age is not just about reclaiming physical space. We must also reclaim our data.

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Canopy Connections

Studio Gang and SCAPE team up for Arkansas cultural project
MacArthur Fellows Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang and Kate Orff of SCAPE Landscape Architecture are teaming up to re-envision the prestigious Arkansas Arts Center (AAC) and adjacent MacArthur Park in Little Rock, Arkansas. Set to break ground this fall, the 127,000-square-foot project—both a renovation and new construction effort—will help clarify the 104-year-old cultural institution’s interior organization, while also amplifying its presence in the historic landscape with a contemporary visual identity. Gang said the firm’s vision will “unlock new connections” between the existing programming on site, which includes a renowned Museum School, Children’s Theatre, and a gallery space that hosts the AAC’s permanent art collection. Since the Center opened on this site in 1937, several major additions have been built. By 1963, the museum had five galleries, four studio classrooms, sculpture courtyards, an art library, and a 381-seat theater, but according to Studio Gang, the AAC suffered from inefficient operational adjacencies—meaning it’s hard for visitors to get from one area to the other. To fix this issue, the design team will create what they call a “stem” that cuts through and “blossoms” to the north and south of the Center. A pleated, thin-plate structure that appears to lightly undulate across the site and into MacArthur Park, the new architecture will not only anchor new visitor amenities but also define a new public gallery and gathering space while simultaneously weaving together the AAC’s various programs. “New daylit spaces linked through the core of the Center will facilitate movement and create a series of vibrant, new public spaces for social interaction, education, and appreciation for the arts,” said Gang in a statement. Initial aerial renderings reveal the way this simple architecture intervention will strengthen the Center’s programming and relationship with the park. Located on the south side of the museum on a current parking lot, Studio Gang has designed a 10,000-square-foot outdoor pavilion underneath the structural canopy with room for dining and respite in the shade. The transparent skin of the structure will provide visitors with a direct connection to nature. In time, SCAPE’s landscape addition, which will include 2,200 linear feet of new paths and trails, as well as 250 trees, will merge with the Center’s canopy to become a parkland forest. Just as important to the revitalization project will be the renovation of all existing facilities on site. Studio Gang will renovate the original 1937 Museum of Fine Arts facade (the AAC’s former name) which serves as the northern entrance. According to the architects, from there they will “excavate” the existing building—a series of fortress-like spaces—by opening up the lecture hall, theater, and studios, among others parts to the new public areas. For example, on the north end, there will be a 5,500-square-foot "Cultural Living Room" that can be both a flexible gathering space or play host to special events. The massive cultural project is being backed by an ambitious $128 million fundraising campaign. So far, $118 million has already been raised, including a $31,245,000 commitment from the City of Little Rock. The new Arkansas Arts Center is expected to be complete in early 2022.
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Hoosier Finalist

SCAPE, Snøhetta, Hood Design among finalists for major Indianapolis project
Three finalists have been invited to develop their ideas for new public spaces at a former General Motors site in Indianapolis. The developer Ambrose Property Group partnered with Exhibit Columbus and the Central Indiana Community Foundation to identify a shortlist of studios to develop specific areas of Waterside, a massive $1.4 billion redevelopment of the 103-acre former GM stamping plant site. The shortlisted teams are: 1) Hood Design Studio with Thomas Phifer and Partners and Arup; 2) SCAPE with SO-IL, Guy Nordenson and Associates, James Lima Planning + Development, Art Strategies, Nelson\Nygaard, and Manuel Miranda Practice; and 3) Snøhetta with Moody Nolan, Arup, HR&A, Art Strategies, and Chris Wangro. According to the announcement, the finalists were selected based on their experience working on projects of a similar size and scale as well as for their design acumen. Waterside was announced last year by Ambrose as a new downtown district on the site of the former GM plant that has sat in disuse since the motor company declared bankruptcy almost a decade ago. (The same site was also being proposed as a potential Amazon HQ2 hub by Indiana officials). It would include 1,350 residential units, 620 hotel rooms, 2.75 million square feet of office space, and 100,000 square feet of retail with a projected development timeline of 15 years. The Waterside Design Competition zeroes in on the adaptive reuse of 25,000 square feet of the Albert Kahn–designed Crane Bay; the design of a public plaza around Crane Bay; and a pedestrian connection across the White River to link the site to Indianapolis's urban core. The three teams will present their design philosophies and approaches to the public on June 12 in Indianapolis. Later in October, they will present their conceptual schemes, and the winner will be decided by a jury of community stakeholders and national experts.
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Torts, Tech, Towers

Weekend edition: Tech urbanism, liability explained, and more
Missed some of this week’s architecture news, or our tweets and Facebook posts from the last few days? Don’t sweat it—we’ve gathered the week’s must-read stories right here. Enjoy! Forty-five story jail tower could be coming to Lower Manhattan The plan to close the jail facilities on Rikers Island is chugging along, but community opposition towards the borough-based replacements is bubbling over. The origins and perils of development in the urban tech landscape Author and professor Sharon Zukin looks at the history and the origins of the urban tech landscape, and how it has manifested in New York and elsewhere. Are design professionals liable for failing to anticipate the effects of climate change? Two experts give advice to architects about their legal liability in designing for climate change in their projects—just following code may not be enough. After Hudson Yards, Sunnyside could be New York's next megadevelopment After New York City's Hudson Yards megadevelopment elicited critical disappointment when it opened, our editor in chief posits Sunnyside could be next. Mexico City’s cost-saving replacement airport to break ground in June President Andrés Manuel López Obrador canceled the $13 billion Mexico City airport after a public referendum, but the alternative will soon break ground. Have a great weekend, and see you Monday!
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clay for days

University of Oregon's Tykeson Hall announces a campus presence with a terra-cotta and brick facade
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Tykeson Hall, currently wrapping up construction, is nestled in the center of the University of Oregon’s Eugene campus. Designed by Portland’s OFFICE 52 Architecture, the intervention consolidates classrooms, academic advisors, counseling, and tutoring for nearly 23,000 students under one roof. The 64,000-square-foot academic building carefully inserts itself into the campus with a variegated terra-cotta and brick facade with moments of glass curtain wall. The building, like much of the campus, rises as a rectangular mass with a series of incisions and setbacks for daylighting and programmatic purposes. To match with the cornice height of the surrounding structures, Tykeson Hall tops out at four stories.
  • Facade Manufacturer Shildan Group Mutual Materials Hardscape and Masonry Kawneer Vitro Hartung Viracon
  • Architects OFFICE 52 Architecture Rowell Brokaw Architects
  • Facade Installer Streimer Sheet Metal Davidson's Masonry Culver Glass Company
  • Location Eugene, Oregon
  • Date of Completion Summer 2019
  • System Kawneer 1600 Wall System Open-joint rainscreen system with a fully thermally broken aluminum window system
  • Products Custom extruded terra-cotta tiles by Shildan Group Mutual Materials Hardscape and Masonry Columbia Red and Autumn Blend Vitro Solarban 60 & 70 Viracon VE-1-2M
The principal material for the exterior envelope is a terra-cotta rainscreen system composed of 3,100 vertical tiles manufactured in Germany by the Shildan Group. This is the first application of terra-cotta on the historic campus in over eighty years—and earlier examples are chiefly decorative rather than performative. All of the terra-cotta tiles roughly measure six inches by three-to-five feet and are clipped to an aluminum grid at both their top and bottom. In using such a straightforward fastening method, the tiles can be easily removed, repaired, or replaced. Visually striking from multiple vantage points across the campus, the pattern of the matte-glazed terra-cotta tiles was developed from the study of Oregon's natural landscape and the architectural context of the University of Oregon's campus. "We looked at numerous color combinations and determined that five colors were necessary so that no color was ever repeated adjacent to itself on any side," said Office 52 founding principal Michelle LaFoe and principal Isaac Campbell. "We then produced keyed drawings that called out every one of the 3,100 tiles, and we made full-scale mock-ups of the final options in our studio. The final resolution of the palette came down to a gray palette that had both warm and cool colors." The most common material element found throughout the campus is brick, loadbearing in the case of historic structures, curtain for the contemporary. The existing brick color palette is largely brownish-red and arranged according to the simple Stretcher bond pattern—bricks overlaying each other midway on each successive course. For the project, the university required OFFICE 52 Architecture integrate this overarching aesthetic into the design of Tykeson Hall. To this end, the design team researched prospective brick layouts to enliven the facade along the east, north, and south elevations of the project. "During our research, we discovered an interesting pattern known as an English Cross bond, which creates a diagonal pattern by staggering the vertical mortar joints from course to course," continued LaFoe and Campbell. "Intrigued with this pattern and seeking to increase its scale, we added a course of longer Norman bricks to the pattern, creating a new pattern which we called a Norman Cross bond." For the coloring of these three elevations of brick, OFFICE 52 Architecture worked with Mutual Materials Hardscape and Masonry to develop a custom-blend of their Columbia Red and Autumn Blend brick types. In total, 78,000 bricks were used for the project, with the design team using building information modeling software to ensure the pattern corresponded with window returns and corner finishes. The bulk of the project's fenestration is composed of punched window openings. However, one-story glass curtainwall projects from the prevailing sedimentary mass along the north, west, and south elevations. Tykeson Hall is estimated to be completed in July 2019.