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Small Island, Big Money

New York plans massive mixed-use development for Governors Island
Governors Island could soon be home to, well, homes. Or at least dormitories. The New York Harbor island could house the city’s newest innovation and education hub while maintaining its identity as a beloved recreational oasis. Crain’s New York reported that City Hall will hold a public hearing next month on its plans to rezone the island's former military base to make way for a proposed 4.5 million-square-foot, mixed-used development. Mayor de Blasio's office posted a notice last week about the hearing, which will be the first step in an environmental review process for the project. Aiming to attract a combination of tech and life-science firms, educational institutions, dormitories, as well as a convention center and hotel, the city wants to build out the development as a way to enhance exposure for Governors Island. The 172-acre landmass currently functions as a leisurely getaway for urbanites to enjoy during the summer. Though city-owned, it’s managed and maintained by the Trust for Governors Island. The new development, which would be constructed on the south side of the island, would help annually fund the costs of the island's 43-acre park. With this proposal, it seems the city wants to piggyback off the success of Roosevelt Island’s Cornell Tech campus and bring those small island–big money vibes south of Manhattan. Plus, space for ground-up construction in New York is limited and Governors Island remains one of the more barren sites in town. Any new facilities part of the proposal would be built on two plots of land currently zoned for residential development. The problem is that residential construction has long been prohibited on Governors Island, which is why the city wants to first rezone the land before bringing businesses on board. After an extensive public review process beginning with next month’s meeting, City Council is expected to vote on the proposal in fall 2019. If passed, the rezoning would allow low-rise commercial structures to be built on the site as well as proposed dorms and hotel properties that could potentially rise as high as 300 feet. Crain’s also noted that the city has already commissioned a second ferry to take construction workers out to the site. But that won’t be enough to transport future commuters to and from the development, even in combination with an expanded East River Ferry service. That’s why the Economic Development Corporation is in talks to put a gondola between Lower Manhattan and Governors Island, further mimicking the layout of Roosevelt Island, which is reachable via a gondola and the F train. The public hearing for the rezoning proposal is scheduled for September 26 at 6:00 p.m. at the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan.
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Time Warp

Lebanese architect Raëd Abillama weaves Beirut’s history into contemporary designs
Beirut is a city of architectural collisions and contradictions. Buildings shelled out during Lebanon's protracted civil war, such as the much-celebrated “egg,” a half-destroyed brutalist concrete orb, stand next to glossy new construction by the likes of Foster + Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects, and Herzog & de Meuron. Preserved 19th-century mansions endure while a Disney-fied mall overtakes the city center and Roman ruins sit casually in open-air excavations downtown. Though architecture, whether it acknowledges it or not, is always in dialogue with the past, that interaction certainly becomes more pronounced when you have thousands of years of built history to contend with. Raëd Abillama, with whom I spent three days touring his architectural oeuvre, is not afraid to confront history. The first building I visit with Abillama, designed by his eponymous firm Raëd Abillama Architects, makes this abundantly clear. It's a large private home situated near the city center painted in soft pink and originally built in the 19th century. He takes me through the subterranean garage-level entrance, and a few yards ahead of me in this highly contemporary catacomb is a floor of plate glass with a chandelier suspended above. As you approach the glass floor history quite literally comes to the surface—the tripartite glass reveals a triptych of stone sarcophagi, remnants from the Roman era. Builders happened upon them as they attempted to lower the foundation, which Abillama suspects was built on what 19th-century builders thought was bedrock but was actually a giant stone slab covering the graves. It became integrated, unplanned, into the home as part of what Abillama calls “the accident of the process.” Of course, the National Museum of Beirut was brought in to preserve the findings. While we visit other grand single-family homes—many of which share similar characteristics, but as Abillama points out, trying to pin down a “Lebanese architecture” is a hopeless task—we also tour luxe new apartments. A high-rise apartment tower, Saifi 606, featuring large open spaces wrapped around a central stairwell and elevator bay, is mere minutes from some of the resplendent single-family homes we visited. Like the first home Abillama took me to, which featured a manicured enclosed terrace, these apartments also blur the boundaries of inside and out. The large floor-to-ceiling windows can slide back such that even corners disappear and the terrace bleeds into the indoor space. From here one has a view of Beirut's delirious architectural irregularity with so many buildings in various states of completion: occupied, just-started, half-completed and abandoned, damaged, soaring high and laying low in all manners of style and scale. Just 35 miles outside of the city, we visit a winery Abillama designed. IXSIR (its name coming from the Arabic word for “elixir,” the English word itself of Arabic origin), as it is called, is set on top of a mountain that rises over 3,000 feet just a few miles from the Mediterranean coast. While from above a rather idyllic stone structure set in the vineyards is all that can be seen, below something entirely different comes into view: an angular, geometric lair. However, this shift from light, quarried-stone arches to angular concrete zigzags hardly feels severe or jarring. This is in large part because of Abillama’s approach to built history. The original stone structure, constructed in the 17th century, was missing a large wall. Likely a former family home, the apocryphal story behind the damage revolves around a tradition of families having to destroy parts of their homes during feuds with neighbors. Abillama chose to rebuild this structure with reclaimed local stones, but not out of an urge toward restoration or historicization. For him, it’s about respecting the character of the structure, developing a “reinterpretation” without “falling into the trap of what’s been done.” He remains inspired by building methods of the past, and when they make more sense, they make more sense. However, this is precisely why the additional structure, which houses the operational components of the winery, looks anything but traditional. It’s a relatively independent structure from the 21st century with its own needs and, Abillama believes, it should be built as such. This attitude toward the architectural past is clearly articulated in the massive hillside residence he designed for his brother Karim. The art-filled home retains a great deal of its original 18th-century structure inside and out. It also features concrete and glass additions and many other contemporary finishes that coexist without dissonance. Many questioned the wisdom of keeping the original structure—if you’re going to restore and add on, why not just destroy the original? But for Abillama, the old stones carry a story that can be witnessed from the present. “The original stones, even the way they’re placed on top of each other, retain the soul of the house,” he says. “There’s the soul of the people who put their sweat and their work and their talent and their knowhow embedded into the building and we have to respect that.” There is a deference to the history of work without a fetishization of the styles of the past. Abillama lets the building “tell a story.” This approach, to some extent, informs his first foray into New York City. Raëd Abillama Architects will be both the designer and developer of a 19th Street lot, which they are calling Abi Chelsea. A great deal of permitting trickery was involved to keep the commercial space below and to be able to build the 10 residences above, and the demands of the relatively narrow former-industrial space guided much of the design for the elongated building with its bifurcated facade. Like Abillama’s work in Lebanon, the design is guided by listening to “what the site is telling [him and his team] to do.” And it’s fitting that Abillama’s first building in the United States should be in Chelsea, a neighborhood packed with art galleries, given that nearly every place I visited with him was packed with all varieties of painting and sculpture. But when I asked whether he designs with art in mind he’s quick to say, generally, no. “I can’t design for art because it’s too personal,” he explains, “but still, you have to open up the possibility for tenants to feel they can take true ownership of the space. It’s about creating a great canvas, where you’re removing as much as the information as possible. Sometimes creating a volume can be enough.” He also described this approach as “atemporal,” which perhaps is the aptest description of his work in general—he's actively respecting existing structures, acknowledging history, but without bowing to it, or by the same token, without obsessing over contemporaneity. He's “respecting time passing by.” Much like the built landscape of Beirut, it is the improbable amalgams and competing trajectories of time that give form to Abillama’s buildings. Witnessing and respecting built history is, according to Abillama, “a good reminder that we’re just here temporarily, and we should enjoy every moment of life instead of thinking we’re eternal.” For Abillama, each building is a thrilling memento mori.
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Designing for Dignity

Design for Good exhibit to open at the Museum of Design Atlanta
A new exhibition at the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) will press people to consider the ways in which architecture can bring dignity to those who need it most. Design for Good: Architecture for Everyone will open September 23 and will showcase real-world stories about structures designed by firms that put people first. Based on the 2017 book Design for Good, the show will be curated by the author, John Cary, an architect, writer, and curator. Cary envisions a more diverse industry that’s dedicated to designing for the public good. His seminal book led him to speak at a TEDWomen conference last November where he highlighted the narratives of the architects and clients around the world who participated in the featured projects. Similar to his book and TED Talk, Cary’s MODA exhibition will focus on why everyone deserves good design no matter their economic status, race, or geographic location. He’ll display the work of firms like Studio Gang and MASS Design Group as well as the stories of the people whose lives have been affected by their buildings.    Design for Good: Architecture for Everyone will run through January 12 with an opening reception on Saturday, September 22 at 5 p.m. Tickets are available here.
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Top Talks

AN selects top architecture talks to hear this fall at midwestern schools
While architectural academic institutions in the Midwest boast incredible professors from various parts of the design industry, students don’t often have the chance to peek behind-the-scenes of an international practice since many larger firms keep their offices in New York or Los Angeles. Luckily for students, many major architects give back to the field by teaching on the side. For as long as architecture has been an educational pursuit, students have benefited from these unique opportunities to learn from an architect in action. University lectures aren’t just for students, though. Whether they are two years or twenty years out of school, every architect can enjoy these events. That’s why ahead of the upcoming school year, we’ve rounded up a list of impressive talks—all free and open to the public—happening this fall at various universities from St. Louis to Chicago. Kansas State University College of Architecture, Planning and Design Lawrence Scarpa, cofounder of Brooks + Scarpa Architects Monday, October 1 Michelle Delk, ASLA, partner and discipline director at Snøhetta Monday, November 5 University of Michigan Taubman College Florian Idenburg, cofounder of SO–IL “Open Structure - Open Form” Tuesday, September 25 Ann Forsyth, professor of urban planning at Harvard GSD “Planning for Longevity: A Gender Perspective” Monday, October 8 Washington University Sam Fox School Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, founders of TWBTA Cannon Design Lecture for Excellence in Architecture and Engineering Wednesday, October 24 Barry Bergdoll, MoMA curator of architecture and design “Activating the Museum: Reflections on Architecture in the Gallery” Friday, October 26 Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture Takaharu Tezuka, cofounder of Tezuka Architects Friday, October 19 Kenneth Frampton Le Corbusier Symposium Keynote Address Thursday, November 8 Iowa State University College of Design Kevin Schorn, associate at Renzo Piano Building Workshop 2018 Herbert Lecture in Architecture Friday, September 7 University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Architecture Dan Pitera, executive director of the Detroit Collaborative Design Center Friday, October 5 Amie Shao, principal of MASS Design Group Friday, October 26 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture & Urban Planning Katherine Faulkner, founding principal of NADAAA “Organized Layers” Friday, September 14 Alexandra Lange, architecture critic at Curbed, author “A Modern Education: Learning from Froebel, Frank Lloyd Wright, Anne Tyng and Isamu Noguchi” Thursday, October 11 Jeanne Gang, founder of Studio Gang “Expanded Practice” Friday, October 19
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Also See The Wojnarowicz Show

Latinx artists explore modern architecture and indigenous space at the Whitney
The Whitney Museum exhibition Pacha, Llaqta, Wasichay: Indigenous Space, Modern Architecture, New Art displays seven Latinx artists’ responses to the built environment through construction, land, and space. Curator Marcela Guerrero has brought together 80 recent works and site-specific installations by William Cordova, Livia Corona Benjamín, Jorge González, Guadalupe Maravilla, Claudia Peña Salinas, Ronny Quevedo, and Clarissa Tossin. The works display a wide range of references, from adaptations of pre-Columbian temples to migration routes. The title iincludes three words in Quechua, the most common indigenous language spoken today in the Americas. Each has multiple meanings: Pacha is the universe, time, space, nature, world; llaqta, place, country, community, town; and wasichay, to build or construct a house. Clarissa Tossin’s video, Ch’u Mayaa (Maya Blue) (2017), was shot at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Los Angeles. Tossin moves figures around the temple-like forms to a soundtrack of body sounds and pre-Columbian flutes while demonstrating the performative, ceremonial nature of Mayan (and Mayan revival) architecture. Tossin’s sculptures that surround the video are inspired by reliefs at the nearby Mayan Theater by Mexican artist Francisco Cornejo that referenced both Central America and Hollywood film productions. Ronny Quevedo’s father was a professional soccer player in Ecuador, and his Orders of Magnitude (desde Qoricancha) (2018), Errant Globe (2015), and Ulama, Ule, Olé (2012) use sports themes (here, ulama, a ball game) with imagery of a gym floor, ball courts, and constellations arranged in “maps.” Gold leaf refers to Spanish colonial invaders and is used to render migratory patterns visible, including his own; Quevedo’s family relocated from Ecuador to New York. In her photogram series, Infinite Rewrite (2018), Livia Corona Benjamín features Mexican grain silos or graneros del pueblo (silos for the people) built during the Compañía Nacional de Subsistencias Populares initiative from 1965-1999. A prototype design by architect Pedro Ramirez Vázquez could be built by farmers with local materials. However, the 4,000 silos that were built were abandoned, and the project ended in failure. These photos, made with multiple exposures that fracture the image almost like mosaics, show how the structures have since been adapted for other purposes: schools, churches, motels. In the gallery, the installation uses 12-foot-tall walls and a floor plan that echoes both the silos’ conical shapes and cruciform plazas. Ayacabo Guarocoel (2018) by Jorge Gonzalez combined Modernism and Puerto Rican Taino (indigenous Caribbean) vernacular in this site-specific installation of a full-height windowed gallery looking eastward. The accordion roof is the mid-century element while the walls are enea (cattail) and dried clay, used in bohíos (huts) and in furniture. He has also made benches specifically for the exhibition. Another site-specific installation sits on the outdoor fifth-floor terrace called huaca (sacred geometries) (2018), by William Cordova, and uses wood with a stainless-steel gate. It references Huaca Huantille, a temple from the Ichma culture (1100–1400 AD) in Peru that predates the Inca. Before it became an official heritage site in 2001, the temple was claimed by squatters who improvised shelters out of scaffolding (the artist grew up nearby). Seen from the balconies above, you can see why Cordova calls it a “non-monument.” Claudia Peña Salinas’s installation—composed of Cueyatl (2017), Tlaloc MNA (2018), Chalchiuhtlicue MNA (2018) and more—refers to and reinterprets archeological objects at the National Anthropology Museum in Mexico City. The layout is based on the mythical Aztec paradise of Tlacocan. Together, these artworks form provocative insights and interpretations of the architectural landscape and cultural heritage across Mesoamerica and offer tantalizing insights into the contemporary power of indigenous work. Pacha, Llaqta, Washichay: Indigenous Space, Modern Architecture, New Art will run at the Whitney through September 30, 2018.
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31 Days of Architecture

Archtober is almost here! Check out the Building of the Day schedule
It’s nearly the most architectural time of the year! Archtober, New York City’s annual architecture and design month organized by the Center for Architecture, is just around the corner, believe it or not, and the lineup of archi-activities this season is not to be missed. Now in its eighth year, Archtober will celebrate the influence of the design industry through exhibitions, films, lectures, conferences, and the architect-led Building of the Day tours, which grant visitors unique access to the city’s coolest projects The first site this year is One John Street by Alloy, a new 130,000-square-foot residential property on the DUMBO waterfront. Perched next to the Manhattan Bridge, the 12-story building boasts unmatched views. You won’t want to miss your chance to get inside one of these apartments. You can also peruse the freshly-renovated TWA Hotel, or check out the brand new WeWork space inside S9 Architecture’s Dock 72 (the current talk of the town). You can also revel in the engineering feat that is The Shed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group. Sales for all tours begin today. You can purchase tickets via the Archtober website. Here is the complete schedule of sites to see: Oct. 1 One John Street Architect: Alloy Oct. 2 Lenox Hill Health Greenwich Village Original Architect: Albert Ledner; Renovation Architect: Perkins Eastman Oct. 3 Domino Park Architect: James Corner Field Operations Oct. 4 Newtown Creek Water Pollution Control Plant Architect: Polshek Partnership/Ennead Oct. 5 Swiss Institute Architect: Selldorf Architects Oct. 6 TWA Hotel Original Architect: Eero Saarinen; Renovation Architects: Beyer Blinder Belle, Lubrano Ciavarra Architect Oct. 7 BSE Global Architect: TPG Architecture Oct. 8 Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library Architect: Marble Fairbanks Oct. 9 Five Manhattan West Architect: REX Oct. 10 Bronx River Arts Center Architect: Sage and Coombe Architects Oct. 11 277 Fifth Avenue Architect: Rafael Viñoly Architects Oct. 12 The Marcel Breuer Buildings at Bronx Community College Architect: Marcel Breuer Oct. 15 Hayes Theater Architect: Rockwell Group Oct. 16 R & Company Architect: wHY Architecture Oct. 17 Dock 72 Architect: S9 Architecture Oct. 18 Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse Architect: Architecture Research Office (ARO) Oct. 19 Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Shelby White and Leon Levy Water Garden and Water Conservation Project Architect: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. Oct. 20 100 East 53rd Street Architect: Foster + Partners Oct. 21 Kew Gardens Hills Library Architect: WORKac Oct. 22 Spyscape Museum Architect: Adjaye Associates Oct. 23 Manhattanville Campus Plan: Jerome L. Green Science Center (Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute) and The University Forum Design Architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop Executive Architect: Davis Brody Bond LLP (Jerome L. Green Science Center) Design Architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop Executive Architect: Dattner Architects (The Forum) Oct. 24 325 Kent Avenue Architect: SHoP Oct. 25 Sculpture Studio Architect: Andrew Berman Architect Oct. 26 The Shed Architects: Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group Oct. 26 Alice Austen House Original Architect Unknown Oct. 28 Ocean Wonders: Sharks! Architecture, Exhibition Design, Landscape Architecture: Edelman Sultan Knox Wood / Architects (Architect of Record), the Wildlife Conservation Society - Exhibition and Graphic Arts Department, and The Portico Group Oct. 29 African Burial Ground Monument Architects: Rodney Leon / AARRIS Architects Oct. 30 123 Melrose Architect: ODA New York Oct. 31 Hunters Point South Architect: WEISS/MANFREDI View all programming on Archtober.org.
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Climate Irony

Texas fast-tracks seawalls for oil and gas infrastructure
Exactly one year after Hurricane Harvey touched down in Texas, Gulf Coast oil and gas industries have reportedly been lobbying hard for protection against the rising tides. As Houston residents prepare to go to the ballot over a $2.5 billion resiliency and flood mitigation bond package on August 25, the Texas state government has already approved $3.9 billion to protect oil refineries. Texas Governor Greg Abbott and other state leaders had proposed a $61 billion plan for rebuilding and hardening the state’s coast in November of last year, but at the time, officials in the fiscally conservative state balked at the cost. Texas was far from the only state swamped by a heavy hurricane season last year, and with wildfires raging across the West Coast, lawmakers claimed that disaster relief funding had been stretched thin. The most ambitious portion of the Rebuild Texas plan proposed last year was the “Ike Dike,” a $12 billion series of levees and seawalls along the Gulf Coast that would form a protective “spine.” If the plan were funded, three large barriers would be installed along the Houston-Galveston coast to protect against flooding. Now, as AP reports, while the state is still trying to secure the public funding necessary to build the spine, the aforementioned $3.9 billion will go towards building three smaller seawalls to protect oil and gas infrastructure. That was deliberate on the part of the Texas Land Commissioner’s Office, as Hurricane Harvey knocked out about a quarter of the area’s refining capability. Refineries along the Gulf Coast are responsible for 30 percent of America’s refining capacity. The taxpayer-funded sections will provide a six-mile-long stretch of 19-foot-tall seawalls along Port Arthur on the Texas-Louisiana border, 25 miles of floodwalls around Orange County, and the final swath would protect Freeport. Construction is slated to begin in the next few months and once these disparate projects are complete, they could become part of a larger protection network if the rest of the funding is secured later. Still, the irony of the fossil fuel industry asking for money to protect against the effects of climate change was not lost on advocates and casual observers. “The oil and gas industry is getting a free ride,” Brandt Mannchen of the Houston Sierra Club told AP. “You don’t hear the industry making a peep about paying for any of this and why should they? There’s all this push like, ‘Please Senator Cornyn, Please Senator Cruz, we need money for this and that.’”
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Architect of Light

Peep these modernist homes transplanted into Thomas Kinkade paintings
Ever looked at a Thomas Kinkade painting of a cozy cottage nestled into an impossibly golden landscape and thought: That picture would be better with some avant-garde architecture? If so, you're not alone. One Indianapolis-based architect took to Twitter this weekend to debut his series of mashups featuring modernist structures set inside Kinkade's light-filled, idyllic settings. The resulting images—which are stunning—were precipitated when architect Donna Sink asked the Twitterverse if anyone could take on the challenge: @robyniko responded saying he’d start off “easy” with Louis Kahn’s Fisher House, which apparently screams “for the twilight treatment.” Several other interested viewers chimed in with requests for @robyniko, and the series began to form. He set Philip Johnson’s Glass House within a breathtaking creekside mountain vista, and then put Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye inside a Christmas winter wonderland. He also placed Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House within a meadow and forest landscape. @robyniko’s Twitter bio discloses that he’s a self-proclaimed procrastinator, but this mashup series was undoubtedly encouraged by those scrolling in earnest and tweeting at him: “You definitely had to do this,” from @SWardArch, and, “I hope these end up in your portfolio,” from @ianwrob. The Architect’s Newspaper reached out to @robyniko to get more details on why he decided to pursue the unlikely project. “It was one of those asides that you chuckle about imagining and then move on,” he said, “but I was home for the weekend without my family and decided to indulge my curiosity about how these famous modernist homes would fit into Kinkade’s universe.” @robyniko noted that though he approached the project as a way to distract himself, it ended up conjuring something worthy of discussion. “I think that, given the difference in who typically appreciates Kinkade’s ‘never-was’ nostalgia versus who likes modern architecture,” he said, “it can be part of a conversation about architecture, representation, and how the public responds to both.” And the response was clearly strong. When @robnyiko uploaded his final rendered masterpiece, the oceanside Gehryhaus—a relocation of Frank Gehry’s residence in the Santa Monica suburbs—his followers realized all of these water-adjacent buildings represented in the thread would be likely to flood. In a later tweet, @robnyiko jokingly concluded that Kinkade’s work is a commentary on climate change, a theory he backs up with an attached screenshot of a Google Image search showing row after row of blown-out Kinkade paintings with skies that evoke the smoke and haze of this summer's wildfires. Maybe Kinkade’s work isn’t a nod to global warming, and maybe these modernist homes strictly belong where they were originally built. But this mashup presents a unique perspective on how a piece of architecture can be irrevocably altered when it's transplanted into new surroundings, especially those of Kinkade's somewhat surreal universe. More than that, these world-renowned buildings become nearly unrecognizable in these alternate settings, presenting questions about the relationship between the stark, minimalist designs and the soft, meadowy landscapes. As both Kinkade's work and modernism as a movement can be potentially polarizing forms of art, can these genres combine to form a common ground for people to see them in a new light? 
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Off the Rails

New York’s subway temperatures surge past 100 degrees
A study released by the nonprofit Regional Plan Association (RPA) last week found that temperatures in New York City’s busiest subway stations are soaring and that the average temperatures hover around 94.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Although temperatures climbed past 104 degrees at the Union Square station on 14th Street, solutions are stymied by the design of each station, aging infrastructure, and the trains themselves. The RPA surveyed 10 of the busiest stations in New York and found that the sweltering temperatures were exacerbated by the heatwaves that much of New York (and the world) have been experiencing this summer. The constantly late trains aren’t helping commuters either, as passengers have been forced to wait for longer periods of time on the platforms. Why exactly are these stations so hot? As the Village Voice explains, the city’s busiest stations are often its oldest and their design precludes centralized climate control; this is also the official reason given by the MTA. The trains themselves output a large amount of heat as well, both through their air conditioners as well as braking. Each full train weighs around 350 to 450 tons depending on the make and length, and the kinetic energy required to brake is converted to heat when a train stops at a station. The hottest stations surveyed were where trains idled the longest. The Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall stop in Tribeca was unsurprisingly featured as well, as the 6 train makes its last stop there then idles before departing on its uptown route. When WNYC surveyed 103 of New York’s stations during the July 2015 heatwave, the Brooklyn Bridge stop clocked in at 107 degrees. For its part, the MTA has pledged to keep the trains running more efficiently to reduce the time passengers have to wait on these overheated platforms. While the MTA tests new communication and signal technologies that could improve wait times and braking efficiency, New York City Transit Authority President Andy Byford has pledged that most of the subway system will use communications-based train control by 2030. Still, as the climate warms, these types of heat waves are only going to become more common, and the fixes required to keep the city’s subway stations tolerable are solutions that will require long-term investments on par with the MTA's other sustainability initiatives.
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Unconventional Upgrade

Louisville’s largest downtown eyesore goes transparent with new redesign
One of Louisville’s largest architectural eyesores recently received a shiny upgrade by Kentucky-based firm EOP Architects and HOK Chicago. The Kentucky International Convention Center (KICC), a 960,000-square-foot facility located downtown in the heart of the state’s largest city, reopened to the public this month after a two-year, $207 million renovation. Thanks to a vision supported by the state, city, and the community, the glass-enclosed structure looks nothing like its dark, concrete-clad former self. The Brutalist building, long-despised by Louisville natives, now features a new transparent face along its western facade and includes improved public circulation spaces representing the structure’s new “extroverted personality,” according to HOK. The KICC has undergone several renovations since opening in 1977, but none of them were this dramatic. The architects collaborated with convention center specialist Donald Grinberg, FAIA, on the transformative design, updating its main entrance on Fourth Street and building a canopy with a colored lighting display to create a more welcoming experience for visitors. The glass panel exterior appears to undulate as the light shines on it throughout the day. Hovering over the sidewalk outside the property line, the upper-level floors provide sweeping views that are unattainable anywhere else in the building.  EOP Architects’ design partner and co-founder Rick Ekhoff explained that the flowing transparent curtain wall is a nod to Louisville’s history as a river city, and the new canopy symbolizes its extensive park system and the many local landscapes designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. “We designed KICC to connect with the culture, people, and spirit of Louisville,” he said. “By incorporating the visual analogies to these images and making them a part of the story behind the design—even in an abstract way—it connected with the community from the very beginning.” Vertical oak wood paneling is a central design feature found throughout the bright interior and references the local bourbon distilleries that populate the Bluegrass State. The material starkly separates the “pre-function” gathering spaces—new areas for people to congregate before events—from the 40,000-square-foot ballroom and the 200,125 square feet of exhibit spaces. The redesign also included the addition of a 175-seat conference theater as well as new hybrid morning and evening restaurant called Oak & Brew. Peter Ruggiero, design principal at HOK’s Chicago practice, highlighted the much-improved wayfinding within the newly-renovated structure and the simplified circulation paths that open up the interiors to the outdoor spaces.   “This structure was what I called an urban introvert,” he said. “It didn’t engage the city and was very inwardly focused. It spoke to the nature of how convention centers were built in big cities forty years ago. There were big pieces of the interior program that needed to be flexible and adapt to differently sized shows, exhibits, and venues, but we believed there was no reason why the circulation and gathering spaces needed to be part of this internalized world.” The architects decided to place those spaces outside the larger, main venues and expose them to the light afforded by the new clear facade. They also integrated a central stair, configured in the spirit of a grand staircase, according to Ruggiero, that doubles as a meeting point with bleacher-like seating for alternative, informal events. Uniquely-shaped skylights create puddles of light and interesting shadows throughout the circulation spaces. At night, the building becomes a lantern in the city and illuminates the downtown streetscape. According to Ekhoff, the new design has already impacted development in the area. He sees the city’s tourism increasing now that the center looks like an inviting place to visit and invest in. “If the city had a living room," Eckhoff said, "KICC would be it."
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COTE Hanger

AIA to send delegation to Global Climate Action Summit
With buildings responsible for about 47 percent of electricity usage in the U.S., making buildings more efficient should be a top priority in combatting climate change. New York City has already pledged to retrofit its older buildings and slash CO2 emissions by 80 percent by 2050, but with the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, such action has been left to cities and states to undertake voluntarily. At the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco this September, businesses, investors, and local and state leaders from across the country will convene to discuss ways to decarbonize the economy and reach a carbon neutral U.S. by 2050. The AIA has announced that it will be sending a delegation headed by President Carl Elefante, FAIA, to represent architects at the summit and come back with a set of scalable best design practices. The AIA members attending will be part of the organization’s sustainability-oriented Committee on the Environment (COTE) and other climate change-related groups. The AIA will also be sponsoring two public events during the summit: Carbon Smart Building Day on September 11 and Climate Heritage Mobilization on September 12 and 13. The summit is meant to in part build momentum for COP24 in December, the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Still, even if radical decarbonization guidelines are agreed upon at the summit and adopted by the AIA and business leaders in attendance, such a shift likely wouldn’t be enough to reach the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s target of limiting global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celcius. The Paris Agreement and temperature targets are only reachable if the world were to produce negative emissions and sequester CO2 on a massive scale, a technology that’s still several years away. Still, the AIA has pledged to continue pursuing its sustainability and environmental health goals, as seen in its recent call for a blanket ban on asbestos in building products after the fracas last week.
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Talk of Twitter

Asbestos outrage turns toward AIA on Twitter
Architects have taken to Twitter calling out the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for staying silent on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s recent decision to allow asbestos back into the manufacturing process for building products on a case-by-case basis. People are now wondering why the AIA has yet to speak up in the wake of national buzz, although at least one AIA official has informally responded online. Architect Donna Sink first brought up the issue of professional ethics: Then the Architecture Lobby, a national nonprofit focused on labor and social issues in the field, responded to Sink's tweet, which provoked an outcry of criticism against the AIA's silence: Some even went so far as to say that any architects who specify asbestos-containing products for their buildings shouldn't be licensed: Even the firm Brooks + Scarpa weighed in: According to a tweet, 2019 AIA vice-president/2020 president-elect Jane Frederick, FAIA, has spoken with current 2018 President Carl Elefante via email to discuss the organization's involvement with the discussion on asbestos. The Architect's Newspaper received word from the AIA as of 1 p.m. today that they will be releasing a comment soon. Stay tuned. The EPA is taking public comments on the Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) on asbestos through this Friday, August 10. At the time of publication, 154 comments have been submitted. Let the EPA know your thoughts here.