Search results for "Atlanta"

Placeholder Alt Text

Get a Sneak Beak at What's in Store!

Georgia's famous Big Chicken slated for major revamp
A Georgia KFC franchise has announced that its beloved "Big Chicken" restaurant is slated for a $2 million renovation. Don't worry, though—plans call for keeping the famous bird. The Marietta, Georgia KFC branch, owned by KBP Foods, is known locally as Big Chicken for its majestic architecture parlante, a 56-foot-tall stylized steel chicken whose ruddy plumage and bright animated beak seduce would-be diners from its perch at a busy crossroads. Designed by Georgia Tech architecture student Hubert Puckett and built in 1963, the sign was reconstructed following storm damage in 1993. The video below (best viewed with the sound on) really captures the essence of the bird: Renderings revealed in the Atlanta Business Chronicle depict an on-brand interior renovation for the 4,700-square-foot space, plus a gift shop. Big Chicken's logo will be updated, as well. “Marietta’s Big Chicken is a local landmark that we are proud to preserve,” said KFC franchisee Mike Kulp, president and CEO of KBP Foods, in a statement. “Once completed, our new restaurant will be among the greatest KFCs in the world with design and guest experience features you won’t be able to find anywhere else in the U.S. We can’t wait to bring these designs to life for the community of Marietta and all those who stop along their travels to see this historic landmark.”

The restaurant will be closed for around three months, beginning this week.

KFC's plans align with Taco Bell's 2015 decision to save Taco Bell "numero uno," the chain's very first restaurant. Taco Bell collaborated with a local preservation group to move the 1953 building from Downey, California to the company's headquarters in Irvine.

Placeholder Alt Text

Dear Mr. President,

Over 250 architects sign open letter to Donald Trump
A letter written by the grassroots coalition Architects Advocate has been signed by 276 architecture and design firms and sent to President-elect Donald Trump. The letter focuses on three specific actions addressing climate change, a clean and competitive U.S. economy using renewable energy, and standing up against special interest money in politics. “The President-elect has pledged to create jobs in urban and rural communities. We believe the best way to achieve this is to take decisive action on climate change by investing in a low-carbon US economy because it is a win-win for businesses, people, and the environment alike” said Tom Jacobs with Krueck+Sexton Architects, one of the letter signatories. “The consensus about needed action on climate change among design industry professionals is overwhelming, and the general public supports such actions with significant majorities across party lines as well. We are not being political by speaking out—we are acting in the best interest of every American, present and future, and are inviting the President-elect to join us moving forward.” The letter is copied below: President-elect Trump, As American architects, we are dedicated to creating healthy, productive, and safe communities for all. We are committed to doing so in a way that is economically viable, socially equitable, and environmentally sustainable. In these communities, families and businesses thrive. Throughout our great history we have always depended on the natural environment. It has nurtured us and has enabled vast freedom, growth, innovation, and profit. Today we are already experiencing the potentially irreversible negative impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss. American prosperity is at risk. Our children and grandchildren face the real possibility of our country and world in turmoil. Because buildings alone account for almost 40% of total U.S. energy use and 72% percent of U.S. electricity use, America’s architects are on the front line addressing climate change in a meaningful way. Action on climate change is supported across party lines by significant majorities of Americans, including the military and leaders of industry, faith, science, and education. By taking decisive action now we all can be remembered as historic and courageous actors who helped secure humanity’s future. We can turn our climate challenge into an unrivaled economic opportunity that creates desirable and healthy jobs in rural and urban communities alike. All Americans win if:
  • We invest in a clean and competitive U.S. economy that is powered by renewable energy through cost-effective and innovative solutions. This creates jobs and lowers the costs of living and doing business.
  • We stand up to the influence of special interest money in politics to create a truly level playing field. Subsidies for renewable energy technologies should be equal to the many hidden and costly subsidies that support fossil fuels and nuclear energy. Alternatively, all subsidies across all energy sources should be removed in their entirety.
  • We re-affirm America’s commitment to addressing climate change through the continued participation in the historic Paris Climate Agreement.
We invite you to join our commitment to developing healthy and prosperous communities, and to designing and building the great America that future generations deserve. Together, we can ensure our children and grandchildren will remember us with pride. Signed, 229 Architecture Firms 24 Landscape Architecture Firms 21 Design + Consulting Industry Firms 2 Organizations see following pages for all signatories Architecture Firms: agps architecture, Los Angeles CA AIM Associates, Petaluma CA Alchemy Architects, St. Paul MN Alima Silverman Architect, Santa Rosa CA AltusWorks, Chicago IL Anderson Krygier, Inc., Portland OR Angela Klein Architect, Alameda CA Ankrom Moisan Architects, Portland OR Anthony Belluschi FAIA Consulting Architect, Portland OR Antunovich Associates, Chicago IL Archimage Architects, Ltd., Chicago IL archimania, Memphis TN architect’s office, San Francisco CA Architecture Is Fun, Inc., Chicago IL architecture+, Troy NY ARExA, New York NY Bailey Edward Design, Inc., Chicago IL Bassetti Architects, Seattle WA Bauer Latoza Studio, Chicago IL beta-field, Charlottesville VA Bisbee Architecture + Design, Santa Rosa CA bKL Architecture, Chicago IL Blue Truck, Inc., San Francisco CA BNIM, Des Moines IA Booth Hansen, Chicago IL Bora Architects, Portland OR Boyer Architects LLC, Evanston IL Brewer Studio Architects, Sebastopol CA Brininstool + Lynch, Ltd., Chicago IL Brooks + Scarpa, Los Angeles CA Brubaker Design, Chicago IL Brush Architects, LLC, Chicago IL building Lab, Emeryville CA Burhani Design Architects, Chicago IL CAMESgibson, Chicago IL Caples Jefferson Architects, Long Island City NY Carlo Parente Architect, Chicago IL CaVA Architects, LLP, Philadelphia PA Charles Pipal, AIA, Riverside IL Chen & Associates, A+E, Sebastopol CA Chris Binger Architect, San Diego CA Christoper Strom Architects, St Louis Park MN Circle West Architects, Phoenix AZ Circo Architects, Inc., Riverside IL Constantine D. Vasilios & Associates Ltd, Chicago IL Cook Architectural Design Studio, Chicago IL Cordogan Clark & Associates, Chicago IL Dan Miller Architects Ltd., Chicago IL David Crabbe Architect, San Carlos CA David Fleener Architects, Chicago IL Deam + Dine, Sausalito CA Deanna Berman Design Alternatives, Chicago IL Deborah Berke Partners, New York NY Design Smak, Evanston IL Design Team, LLC, Highland Park IL Design2 LAST, Inc., Edmonds WA Dev Architects, Woodside CA Dilworth Eliot Studio, San Francisco CA Dirk Denison Architects, Chicago IL DOES Architecture, San Francisco CA Dragani Martone Studio, LLP, Philadelphia PA DRIFT-Design, Oakland CA DSGN Associates, Dallas TX Duvivier Architects, Venice CA Dwyer/Oglesbay, Minneapolis MN Eastlake Studio, Chicago IL Eckenhoff Saunders Architects, Chicago IL Ellipsis Architecture, Chicago IL emar Studio for Public Architecture, Culver City CA Environ Architecture, Inc., Long Beach CA Equinox Design, Sebastopol CA EQUINOX Design and Development, Windsor CA Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, New Orleans LA Farr Associates, Chicago IL Feldman Architecture, San Francisco CA Fiona E. O’Neill, Architect, The Sea Ranch CA Fletcher Studio, San Francisco CA Fougeron Architecture, San Francisco CA Frank Zilm & Associates, Inc., Kansas City MO GEMMILL DESIGN Architectural Studio, San Francisco CA General Architecture Collaborative, Syracuse NY Gerhard Zinserling Architects, Chicago IL Gray Organschi Architecture, New Haven CT Greater Good Studio, Chicago IL Green Building Architects, Petaluma CA Hacker Architects, Portland OR Handel Architects LLP, New York NY Harboe Architects, Chicago IL Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture, Chicago IL Heidrun Hoppe Associates, Evanston IL Heitzman Architects, Oak Park IL Herman Coliver Locus Architecture, San Francisco CA Holbert and Associates, Architects, Chicago IL HouseHaus, Chicago IL HPZS, Chicago IL husARchitecture Inc., Chicago IL Huth Architects, Newton MA Ibañez Architecture, Fort Worth TX Imai Keller Moore Architects, Watertown MA INVISION planning | architecture | interiors, Waterloo IA JAHN, LLC, Chicago IL JAMTGÅRDESIGN, San Francisco CA JDD-Architects, Chicago IL JGMA, Chicago IL Jones Design Studio, PLLC, Tulsa OK jones | haydu, San Francisco CA Jones Studio, Tempe AZ Jurassic Studio, Chicago IL Kaplan Architects, San Francisco CA Katherine Austin, AIA, Architect, Bend OR Kathleen Hallahan, Architect, San Diego CA Kathryn Quinn Architects, Ltd., Chicago IL Kipnis Architecture + Planning, Chicago IL Klara Valent Interiors, Tucson AZ Klopf Architecture, San Francisco CA Klopfer Martin Design Group, Boston MA Krueck+Sexton Architects, Chicago IL Kuklinski+Rappe Architects, Chicago IL Kupiec Architects PC, Santa Barbara CA Kuth Ranieri Architects, San Francisco CA lab practices, Syracuse NY Lake|Flato Architects, San Antonio TX Lance Jay Brown Architecture + Urban Design, New York NY Landon Bone Baker Architects Ltd., Chicago IL Latent Design, Chicago IL Lawton Stanley Architects, Chicago IL LEDDY MAYTUM STACY Architects, San Francisco CA Leers Weinzapfel Associates, Boston MA Legat Architects, Chicago IL Liv Companies, Burr Ridge IL Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects, Los Angeles CA Lucy C. Williams, Architect, St. Louis MO Lundberg Design, San Francisco CA Marble Fairbanks Architects, Brooklyn NY Marilyn Standley, Architect, Sebastopol CA Mark English Architects, San Francisco CA Marlon Blackwell Architects, Fayetteville AR MAS Studio, Chicago IL Merryman Barnes Architects, Inc., Portland OR Michael Hennessey Architecture, San Francisco CA Mitchell Garman Architects, Dallas TX Mithun, San Francisco CA Morgante Wilson Architects, Evanston IL Morse and Cleaver Architects, Sebastopol CA moss, Chicago IL MRSA Architects, Chicago IL MSR Design, Minneapolis MN MW Steele Group Inc., San Diego CA MX3 ARCHITECTS, Chicago IL NADAAA, Boston MA NEEDBASED, Santa Fe NM Nicholas Design Collaborative, Chicago IL Norman Kelley, Chicago IL Northlight Architects LLC, Chicago IL Nushu, LLC, Chicago IL OKW Architects, Inc., Chicago IL Opsis Architecture, Portland OR Page, Austin TX Pappageorge Haymes Partners, Chicago IL Patricia K. Emmons Architecture & Fine Art, Seattle WA Paul Preissner Architects, Chicago IL Paulett Taggart Architects, San Francisco CA Payette, Boston MA PLACE, Portland OR Propel Studio, Portland OR Public Design Architects, Oak Park IL RATIO Architects, Indianapolis IN (r)evolution architecture, LaGrange IL Risinger + Associates, Inc., Chicago IL River Architects, Cold Spring NY RL Dooley Architect, PLLC, Bremerton WA RNT Architects, San Diego CA Rockford Architects Inc., Rockford IL Rockwell Associates Architects, Evanston IL Ross Barney Architects, Chicago IL Rubiostudio, Chicago IL Ruland Design Group, San Diego CA Conger Architects, Chicago IL Salus Architecture Inc., Seattle WA Sam Marts Architects & Planners, Ltd., Chicago IL Sanders Pace Architecture, Knoxville TN Sarah Deeds Architect, Berkeley CA Scott / Edwards Architecture, Portland OR scrafano architects, Chicago IL Searl Lamaster Howe Architects, Chicago IL Serena Sturm Architects, Chicago IL Shands Studio, San Anselmo CA SHED Studio, Chicago IL Siegel & Strain Architects, Emeryville CA SKJN Architekten Corp., Chicago IL Smith-Miller+Hawkinson Architects, LLP, New York NY SMNG A Ltd., Chicago IL Snøhetta, New York NY Snow Kreilich Architects, Minneapolis MN SPACE Architects + Planners, Chicago IL SRG Partnership, Portland OR Stefan Helgeson Associates, LLC, Edina MN Stephen J. Wierzbowski, AIA, Chicago IL STL Architects, Chicago IL Strawn + Sierralta, Honolulu HI Strening Architects, Santa Rosa CA Studio Dwell Architects, Chicago IL Studio KDA, Berkeley CA studio M MERGE, Oakland CA Studio Ma, Phoenix AZ Studio Nigro Architecture + Design, Chicago IL Studio VK, New York NY Suski Design, Inc. Architects, Chicago IL TannerHecht Architecture, San Francisco CA TEF Design, San Francisco CA Thomas Roszak Architecture, Chicago IL Tilton, Kelly + Bell, LLC, Chicago IL Troyer Group, Mishawaka IN UrbanWorks, Ltd., Chicago IL Van Meter Williams Pollack LLP, San Francisco CA Vinci | Hamp Architects, Inc., Chicago IL Vladimir Radutny Architects, Chicago IL von Oeyen Architects, Los Angeles CA von Weise Associates, Chicago IL Walter Street ARCHITECTURE, Chicago IL Whitney Inc., Oak Brook IL Will Bruder Architects, Phoenix AZ Worn Jerabek Wiltse Architects P.C., Chicago IL Wrap Architecture, Chicago IL WRNS Studio, San Francisco CA ZGF Architects LLP, Portland OR 2 Point Perspective: Architecture + Interiors, Chicago IL 2rz Architecture, Chicago IL 34-Ten, LLC, Chicago IL Landscape Architecture Firms: Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture, San Francisco CA Coen + Partners, Minneapolis MN Fieldwork Design Group, Chicago IL GLS Landscape/Architecture, San Francisco CA Ground Inc. Landscape Architecture, Somerville MA Hargreaves Associates, San Francisco CA Hargreaves Jones, New York NY Hinterlands Urbanism and Landscape, LLC, Chicago IL Lenet, Crestani, Tallman Land Design, LLC, Chicago IL LENS Landscape Architecture, LLC, Bend OR Mark Tessier Landscape Architecture, Inc., Santa Monica CA Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, New York NY Mauro Crestani & Associates, Landscape Architects, Chicago IL McKay Landscape Architects, Chicago IL Mia Lehrer + Associates, Los Angeles CA Prassas Landscape Studio LLC, Chicago IL Reed Hilderbrand, Cambridge MA Rinda West Landscape Designs, Chicago IL site, Chicago IL Terry Guen Design Associates, Chicago IL The Organic Garden Coach, Downers Grove IL Topiarius, Inc., Chicago IL Ulrich Bachand Landscape Architecture, LLC, Dedham MA Wenk Associates, Denver CO Design + Consulting Industry Firms: Atelier Ten, Environmental Design, New Haven CT Corey Gaffer Photography, Minneapolis MN Development Management Associates, LLC, Chicago IL EHT Traceries, Inc., Washington DC Green Dinosaur, Inc., Culver City CA HJKessler Associates, Chicago IL Interface, Atlanta GA Jaros, Baum & Bolles Consulting Engineers, New York NY jozeph forakis...design, Brooklyn NY Lee Bey Architectural Photography, Chicago IL Lightswitch Architectural, Chicago IL Medical Facility Innovations Ltd., Leavenworth WA New Voodou, Santa Fe NM Paul Hydzik Photography, Chicago IL Spirit of Space, Milwaukee WI Talentstar, Inc., Petaluma CA The Walker Group NW, Seattle WA Thirst, Chicago IL Threshold Acoustics LLC, Chicago IL Tom Harris Architectural Photography, Chicago IL visualizedconcepts inc., Chicago IL Organizations: Archeworks, Chicago IL Architects Advocate for Action on Climate Change, Chicago IL
Placeholder Alt Text

Staying Alive

The good, the bad, and the ugly: AN's best preservation stories
In the trenches, preservation can feel cyclical—historic buildings are defended and saved, others destroyed, and public appreciation grows for once-loathed styles (looking at you, brutalism). This year's brilliant adaptive reuse projects are worthy of their own list, but we chose to highlight the epic sagas—new landmarks, victories against out-of-scale development, priceless buildings pulverized, and the controversies and cliffhangers that will shape preservation debates through next year and beyond. (See the rest of our Year in Review 2016 articles here.) Marcel Breuer takes the East Coast by storm Brutalism has a healthy second life online, but in real life concrete buildings often seem a hair away from the wrecking ball. This year, though, fate was pretty kind to one of the masters of the genre. Although Marcel Breuer has been dead for more than three decades, the opening of the Met Breuer, and two other controversies surrounding his buildings, spurred a revival of interest in his imposing yet playful work. In Reston, Virginia, a Breuer building was threatened with demolition, then saved, then demolished—a heartbreaking tale. Further south, an Atlanta library designed by the architect was saved after a public outcry. While the Reston building is gone for good, see what Graves, Koolhaas, and Piano would've done to the former Whitney—it is possible to adapt brutalist buildings without compromising their essential character. Miami Marine The City of Miami declared in November it will borrow up to $45 million to preserve this stadium, an open-air venue for boat races on Biscayne Bay designed by architect Hilario Candela and completed in 1963. The cantilevered concrete structure was severely damaged by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and left to decay. Restoration of the original structure, as well as the construction of a new 35,000-square-foot maritime center adjacent to the stadium, will begin when funding is secured. Lautner’s Sheats Goldstein Residence has been gifted to LACMA James Goldstein has donated his landmark house, located on Angelo View Drive, Los Angeles, and designed by prolific West Coast architect John Lautner to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). In addition, the dwelling'ss contents and surrounding estate have also been included in the donation. Johnson Fain takes on Philip Johnson’s Crystal Cathedral Johnson Fain is renovating Philip Johnson and John Burgee’s iconic Crystal Cathedral in Anaheim, California. Work on the building, which was completed in 1980 as part of a larger religious campus that contains notable structures by Richard Meier and Partners as well as Richard Neutra, began this year. Preservation across five boroughs While new city laws will make the preservation of controversial or hard-to-love buildings that much harder, this year the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) cleared its roster of almost 100 items that have been on its calendar for years, sometimes decades. As a result, the city has 27 new landmarks—including the Pepsi-Cola sign—to love. Modern architecture hearts were broken, though, when the LPC declined to landmark Alvar Aalto's conference rooms and lecture hall at 809 UN Plaza. Through rezoning, the city is trying to spur the development of more Class A office space in Midtown East, a push that encourages taller buildings but threatens many older ones. In that neighborhood, the commission decided that the Pershing Square Building and the Graybar Building, as well as the Shelton Hotel Building, the Yale Club of New York City, and seven smaller structures, all between East 39th to East 57th streets, from Fifth to Second avenues, were worthy of landmark status. Doing the Wright Thing This year the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation revealed its master plan to preserve Taliesin West, the architect's home and school in the Arizona desert. Harboe Architects drafted the 740-page plan, which outlines preservation strategies for a structure that Wright and his disciples modified many times over the years. The plan presents an approach to conserving deteriorating materials, preserving existing spaces, restoring viewscapes lost to new additions and landscaping, and supporting Taliesin West as a tourist site, education center, and foundation headquarters. The Ambassador Grill and Lounge After a huge push from preservation advocacy groups HDC, docomomo, and fans of postmodern architecture, the LPC is considering Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo Associate's glittery—but threatened—UN Hotel lobby and Ambassador Grill & Lounge for landmark status. At a November hearing, local luminaries like Robert A.M. Stern, Belmont Freeman, and Alexandra Lange, as well as a bi-coastal docomomo contingent spoke in favor of landmarking. The item would be the first postmodern interior to be designated a New York City landmark, and the “youngest” after Roche and Dinkeloo’s Ford Foundation (1963-68) which has interior and exterior landmark status. Meanwhile, the Waldorf-Astoria's mega-glamorous art deco interiors are one step closer to landmark protection. The McKeldin Fountain is no more In Baltimore, contractors have begun demolishing a symbol of the city’s renaissance and the mayor who sparked it, the McKeldin Fountain at Pratt and Light streets. The Downtown Partnership of Baltimore has led the effort to tear down the fountain, named after former Mayor Theodore McKeldin, and replace it with a landscaped plaza that members argue would be a more welcoming gateway to the city. The fountain and adjacent plaza were designed by Philadelphia architect Thomas Todd, a founding partner of WRT, as part of the redevelopment of the Inner Harbor renewal area in the early 1980s. An example of Brutalist architecture made with a series of concrete prisms and walkways, the fountain is owned by the city and listed in the city’s official inventory of public art. It is dedicated to the former mayor who first proposed in 1963 the idea of rejuvenating Baltimore’s Inner Harbor waterfront. Time is running out for the modernist legacy of William Pereira Pereira is most famous for his iconic 1972 Transamerica Building, an 853-foot tall square-based pyramid tower in downtown San Francisco, and for the Googie-styled Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport, a flying saucer-shaped observation floor supported by four-footed, sinuous frame. These projects are among Pereira’s diverse commissions that number more than 400 and include the masterplans for the Orange County suburb of Irvine, and the University of California at Irvine (UCI) campus. The city of Irvine’s urban plan landed the architect on the cover of Time magazine where Pereira was depicted in front of the suburb’s plan.
Those aspects of his legacy are more or less doing fine—there are serious and ongoing questions about incongruous changes being made to both the Irvine master plan and to the UCI campus —but several of Pereira’s other Los Angeles works are currently more deeply imperiled.
The challenge of preserving architectural heritage in Philadelphia This year Philadelphia—home of the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and Rittenhouse Square—can boast of another historic attribute: It is the first and only city in the United States to be named a World Heritage City, one of 266 around the globe.

Despite its recent designation, Philadelphia has had a decidedly uneven record and reputation for historic preservation. Architects who come to the AIA convention will find Center City relatively intact. But other areas of the city are losing historically and architecturally significant buildings at a steady rate, largely due to development pressures and lack of landmark protection.

Saving the Columbus Occupational Health Association Columbus, Indiana is a small Midwestern city filled with buildings designed by a who’s who of American architecture including Eliel Saarinen, Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Kevin Roche, Richard Meier, Harry Weese, César Pelli, Gunnar Birkerts, Robert Venturi, Robert Stern, and many others. Now, its 1973 health center, designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, (HHPA) is for sale. Despite its wealth of modern architecture and a forthcoming biennale, the town has no formal preservation laws, so a sale could mean the destruction or thoughtless modification of this important building. Yale's Beinecke Library is now open The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library reopened its iconic building in September following a 16-month renovation led by Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge Architects with Newman Architects of New Haven. Completed in 1963, Beinecke is considered Gordon Bunshaft’s masterpiece. One of the largest libraries in the world dedicated to rare books, its exterior grid of granite and Vermont marble panels are one of the most recognizable designs of that era and remains both inspiring and inimitable. The renovations restored the architectural landmark to its illuminated glory by refurbishing the six-story glass stack tower, preserving the sculpture garden by Isamu Noguchi, upgrading the library’s climate-control system, and expanding classroom space. Developer wants to put glass cubes on landmarked SOM plaza Fosun International, the Shanghai-based owner of Manhattan’s 28 Liberty Street (formerly One Chase Manhattan Plaza), has commissioned SOM to revamp their own classic International Style building and 2.5-acre plaza design. Among its planned changes to the site, Fosun received LPC approval to build three glass pavilions on the plaza that will serve as entrances to below-ground retail. To do this, Fosun needs to make changes to the site's deed, a move that many preservationists say will disrupt the integrity of Gordon Bunshaft's original vision. Both the International Style building and plaza were designated a New York City landmark in 2009. SOM is updating the tower’s office space and plaza and reintroducing original details lost in prior renovations while transforming approximately 290,000 square feet (four floors) of basement space into retail. (AN first covered the design proposal, and ensuing controversy, in July.) With new rules regarding deed changes now in effect, it remains to be seen how—or if—these glass pavilions will be built. Stop the Pop "After the rollout of #StopThePop campaign last June, what actually popped to the surface was less a discussion about preserving architectural landmarks, and more a social media–facilitated debate regarding what constitutes good taste."
Placeholder Alt Text

Leaving the Big City

Goodbye New York: AN picks the best projects outside the Big Three
The Architect's Newspaper (AN) has editors in New York, Chicago, and L.A., but we're not city snobs. With a network of regional writers from Baltimore to Dallas, Seattle to Phoenix, our mission is to cover projects everywhere in North America—and in 2016, we printed far-flung stories that usually fly under the radar. Check out our 15 favorite projects below. (See the rest of our Year in Review 2016 articles here.) WORKac Arizona House revives the Earthship typology “The desert house typology reached an ending point where it became all about overhangs and metal—a common vocabulary of what a desert house should be,” said Dan Wood, principal of WORKac. “We felt like that needed to be renewed.” The Memphis Movement A slew of new developments suggest Memphis, long plagued by high rates of poverty and unemployment, is on the up-and-up, but is the city really rebounding? Gensler designs a new vision for the unloved Milwaukee Post Office The long, low-slung Milwaukee Post Office is not a popular building, but Gensler's forthcoming revamp will inject much-needed vitality into the more-or-less dead space. Basket builders vacate Ohio’s famous basket building After nearly twenty years, the Longaberger Company, maker of wooden baskets, will be moving out of its trademark Longaberger Medium Market Basket–shaped building in Newark, Ohio. What will happen to the building? $1.9 billion Las Vegas Raiders stadium clears penultimate hurdle The odds for the Oakland Raiders football team’s relocation to Las Vegas are looking very good right about now. Not OKC See what's happening to John Johansen’s Mummers Theater in Oklahoma City. Ford begins work on new $1.2 billion campus in Michigan When Ford Motor Company took stock of its current 60-year-old Dearborn, Michigan, facilities, it became clear that the only way forward would be to take a big leap into two new high-tech campuses. Spearheading the master plans is the Detroit office of SmithGroupJJR. When completed, the estimated $1.2 billon, ten-year project will involve moving 30,000 employees from 70 buildings into a Product Campus and a Headquarters Campus. Throughout the project, the entire campus will also have to stay 100 percent operational. New renderings revealed for ambitious, highway-capping park in Atlanta Buckhead Park Over GA400 is a new park typology for the city. Like most great public places, it’s about creating a series of scaled experiences” for visitors, explained Rob Rogers, principal at Rogers Partners and one of the park's lead designers. The Mexico City designers forging a new path beyond modernism By combining high-design references with homespun folk art, the city's designers are able to create works that are contemporary, but also contextual and artisanal, and that speak to the contested and refined realities of their home city. With a grab bag of contemporary stylistic influences coupled with the methodical pedagogy of their elders, the current generation of designers is quickly moving past the orthodoxy of the city’s Modernismo traditions toward new enterprises that blend design, architecture, and furniture. This year the city hosted Design Week Mexico, and it will be the WorldDesign Capital in 2018—the sixth in the program and the first North American city to be named as such. Shelburne Farms Old Dairy Barn, a Vermont landmark, destroyed by fire Sadly, Vermont lost one of its agrarian and architectural landmarks in September when the historic Old Dairy Barn at Shelburne Farms was destroyed by fire. Saving the Columbus Occupational Health Association Columbus, Indiana is small Midwestern city filled with buildings designed by Eliel Saarinen, Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Kevin Roche, Richard Meier, Harry Weese, César Pelli, Gunnar Birkerts, Robert Venturi, Robert Stern, and many others. Now, its 1973 health center, designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates (HHPA) is for sale. Despite its wealth of modern architecture and a forthcoming biennale, the town has no formal preservation laws, so a sale could mean the destruction or thoughtless modification of this important building. Jean Nouvel eyeing North Adams The home of MassMoCA and the future home of Gluckman Tang's Extreme Model Railroad Museum may be getting a master plan by none other than Jean Nouvel. Residents say Celebration, FL is ruined by mold and shoddy construction Although the Walt Disney Company hired a cadre of leading architects to design Celebration, Florida, the sloppy construction of homes in the theme town is driving residents to grief and financial trouble.
Dallas–Fort Worth Branch Waters Network dovetails with rapid development Architect Kevin Sloan thinks American conceptions of planning and notions of “nature” need to be challenged. His Branch Waters Network project in Dallas aims to do just that. 
A torrent of new projects are reshaping Staten Island Okay, okay—Staten Island is part of New York City, but even in a city of islands, the borough gets no love. Islanders voted to secede in 1993, and city officials say it's too far for nice things like bikeshares. Nevertheless, AN visited this spring to check out some new developments shaping the Forgotten Borough.
Placeholder Alt Text

The Kids are Alright

Chicago Architecture Foundation announces DiscoverDesign student competition winners
The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) has announced the winners of the 2016 National DiscoverDesign Competition. The annual youth competition invites high school students from across the country to address a pressing social issue through architectural design. This year’s prompt asked participants to “identify a specific audience in need of affordable housing.” “Since its inception the National DiscoverDesign Competition has served as a catalyst for surfacing innovative ideas from students all across the country,” said Gabrielle Lyon, vice president of education and experience of CAF, in a press release. “The competition challenges youth to apply math and science skills, research and empathy to solve problems using the design process. The problems they solve are real ones—and the diversity of participants and solutions are a great reflection of the talent of young people from across America.” Five jurors chose 10 finalists from 150 entries representing 30 schools in 12 states. Two first place winners were awarded all-expense paid trips to Chicago and second and third place winners were awarded gift certificates to the CAF’s architectural gift shop. This year’s jurors included Maya Bird-Murphy of Valerio Dewalt Train Associates, Nancy Firfer, senior advisor at the Metropolitan Planning Council, Kerl Lejeune senior design manager for the Public Building Commission of Chicago, Adam Rosa, principal at Camiros, and Douglas A. Smith, managing principal at Perkins+Will. Students participating in the competition were asked to assemble entries that included renderings sketches, drawings, and models, along with short essays responding to the prompt. First place was awarded to Denilson Saavedra of Lindblom Math and Science Academy, Chicago, Illinois and Antonio Trejo of the Advanced Technologies Academy, Las Vegas, Nevada. The second place winner was Meejan Patal of the Atlanta International School, Atlanta, Georgia, and third place went to Andrew Shepherd of the Advanced Technologies Academy, Las Vegas, Nevada. Virtual tour of second place entry by Meejan Patal (Meesan Patal) DiscoverDesign is an online learning site that is focused on connecting teens interested in architecture to design professionals and educators. The site was recently redesigned to provide more resources to students and mentors, as well as host the annual high school competition.
Placeholder Alt Text

Phil Freelon Fellowship Fund

New Harvard GSD fellowship aims to promote student diversity
The Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) recently announced the creation of the Phil Freelon Fellowship Fund, part of a wider $110-million-plus push (dubbed "Grounded Visionaries") to improve and expand the GSD. The fund will provide financial aid to African Americans and other underrepresented groups. Phil Freelon, the architect for whom the fellowship is named, called the fellowship’s establishment “an important step in broadening the GSD’s reach” at the announcement ceremony last week. “As the design profession continues to attract a more diverse talent base, this gift will provide students of color with financial assistance that could make pursuing an advanced degree at the GSD possible,” he said. Freelon earned his Master of Architecture from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and served as a Loeb Fellow at the GSD from 1989-1990. He is still closely involved with the GSD as a lecturer and researcher. His firm, The Freelon Group, has won dozens of awards for designing museums, higher education spaces, and science and technology facilities, and was acquired by Perkins + Will in 2014, where Freelon now serves on the board and as managing and design director of the North Carolina office. His work includes the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Historic Emancipation Park in Houston, and the recently opened National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. James G. Stockhard, Jr., former curator of the Loeb Fellowship, praised him as a role model for students at last week’s event. “He is the kind of leader—strong, clear, selfless, and principled—who helps the rest of us find the courage to join him in striving for the best we and our society can be. He asks us to be the best designers, the best colleagues, and the best citizens we can imagine,” he said.
Placeholder Alt Text

Light Bright

A first for multi-colored ceramic fritted channel glass
facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
  The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio is wrapping up an ambitious four-year $135-million renovation project to transform an existing downtown hospital campus into a fully dedicated, freestanding children’s hospital. The facility remained open throughout an intensive construction process involving interior demolition, relocating care units, exterior shell upgrades, and energy efficiency upgrades. A recladding concept, which extends the interior rebranding to the facade, is the most visible component of the project. The color palette is derived from a local artist’s mural on the existing structure became the basis for a rebranding strategy that seeks to improve visitor’s experience of the campus by benefitting the healing process and improving wayfinding. Colors are distributed onto the facade through a series of custom unitized channel glass assemblies that were the result of a close collaboration between Overland Partners, Bendheim Wall Systems, and Sharp Glass. The existing structure consists of five-foot concrete wings that extend out from the building envelope. With restrictive load limits and limited space for installation and maintenance, the design needed to be lightweight and convenient to assemble. Also, the team required a solution that could be manufactured in a range of custom colors, visible at long distances day and night.
  • Facade Manufacturer Bendheim Wall Systems Inc (glazing extrusions); Lamberts (channel glass)
  • Architects WHR Architects Inc. (Houston); Stanley Beaman & Sears (Atlanta); and Overland Partners Architects (San Antonio)
  • Facade Installer Sharp Glass, Bartlett Cocke General Contractors (construction manager)
  • Facade Consultants Smith Seckman Reid Inc. (engineering)
  • Location San Antonio, TX
  • Date of Completion 2016
  • System ceramic-fritted channel glass units, insulated glass replacement units, interlocking metal panels
  • Products Lamberts® channel glass by Bendheim Wall Systems Inc; Centria metal panels; Lumenpulse (LED); Kawneer (insulated glazing units)
The project team developed a unitized modular strategy to consolidate three channel glass shapes into an extruded framework. Bendheim modified one of its existing systems to allow the glazer to preassemble the units in its shop so that the glass was bonded to both a head and sill extrusion. To ensure individual glass pieces did not make contact, the channels were set with a quarter-inch gap filled with a silicone backer rod and sealed with a translucent silicone. These units were harnessed together with a removable frame system developed by Bendheim in close collaboration with the architect and the glass installer. This allowed the units to be brought from the shop to the hospital, then strapped and hoisted into place by a three-person crew on each floor who would swing the unit into place. Units were lifted up into a pre-mounted head receptor and loaded onto an “elevator platform” that could be adjusted vertically to accommodate tolerance and deflection in the existing construction. This detail allows for movement over time without putting the glass units at risk. The adjustable, unitized system allowed the glazer to install, on average, an entire floor per day. Kris Feldmann, lead architect at Overland Partners, said that the value engineering presented a design management challenge to the project: “We saw the channel glass feature as something that was just as critical to the rebranding of the hospital and the work they were doing on the interior. One of the challenges of any project like this is that it is a very easy thing to remove as project budgets evolve. Having the owner’s confidence—because we had worked closely with the contractor, sub-contractor, and Bendheim—was really critical to keeping it on the project." The quarter-inch channel glass includes a ceramic frit that produces a unique translucent finish, allowing for sunlight penetration and providing a soft glow to patient rooms. At night, integrated programmable LED lights provide accent lighting for the facade. Several full-size panels were produced in a mock up to allow the team to confirm desired lighting details prior to construction. The units appear to be the same height from the exterior, but field-verified dimensions confirmed each floor height varied by several inches. This required every unit to be individually measured and coded by Bendheim to confirm a custom fit, and accurate color as specified by the architect. Beyond this colorful additive layer, most of the existing facade remained in place. The exterior shell includes replacement insulated glazing units and an interlocking metal panel exterior wall finish. Replacement windows consist of interior glazed window units to avoid having to re-scaffold the entire building as floors became open for construction. While the exterior is substantially complete, some components of the project remain under construction, including exterior gardens that feature culinary, play, and prayer programming.
Placeholder Alt Text

Diversity At Work

AN talks to Gabrielle Bullock, director of global diversity at Perkins+Will
The National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), started in 1971 by a group of African American architects at that year’s American Institute of Architects conference in Detroit, Michigan, is holding its 44th Annual Conference in Los Angeles this week. The conference aims to bring together a diverse group of professionals with the aim of advancing the standing of minority architects throughout the field. It will run from Wednesday, October 12 to Saturday, October 15, 2016. In preparing for the conference, The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) interviewed Gabrielle Bullock, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, NOMA member, and director of global diversity for Perkins+Will, to discuss diversity issues within the architectural profession. The Architect’s Newspaper: What does the term “diversity” mean to a large, globally-based firm like Perkins+Will? Gabrielle Bullock: I’ll go straight to our Mission Statement, which I think succinctly captures the value we place on diversity: “We believe that inclusion spurs creativity and that innovation is born from an engaged culture of diverse people and ideas. In this global environment, we are committed to building an organization that reflects the diversity of the communities and clients we serve. Diversity: Different thoughts, ideas, and approaches that result from an individual’s cultural background, experience, physical capabilities, skills, ethnicity, education, race, religion, age, gender, lifestyle, and all other characteristics that make each person unique.” You are the Director of Global Diversity at Perkins+Will, can you please describe your position and how it came to be? In 2013, I proposed and designed an approach to creating a more diverse, inclusive, and engaged organization. As one of .2 percent female African-American licensed architects in the US (and usually the “only one in the room”) I was personally committed to championing the advancement of diversity and inclusion in Perkins+Will and the profession. As an architect working with a global firm working all over the world, it became clear that we should mirror the societies and clients we serve. We believe that a more diverse team (in all senses of the word) would provide more innovative, relevant and rich solutions to our work and culture, and ultimately make us more successful. I developed an outline of what my role and the program would focus on along with preliminary expected outcomes and goals. After my appointment as Director of Global Diversity, I took a deep dive into the firm, visiting each office and having honest and at times uncomfortable discussions we call “listening tours.” I asked the staff what they thought about diversity and inclusion, and got unique perspectives. In some offices, the consensus was that we needed to improve racial diversity, in others, concerns surrounded issues of gender and the inter-generational workforce. The yearlong process gave me an idea of the challenges Perkins + Will faces and how to address them uniquely. It was clear that we needed training. I engaged a Diversity and Inclusion (D+I) specialist, Global Diversity Collaborative, to deliver a half-day workshop to the leadership in each office. Through that process, each office determined what their specific challenges were and created their own strategic plan. We made this an accountable program and now continually assess progress according to our stated goals. The initiative is part of our culture and part of our evaluation process: We try to look at everything through a diversity lens. The board, CEO, and office leaders get a progress report from me every year. We now have something called a Diversity+Inclusion+Engagement Strategic Plan with qualitative and quantitative metrics focused on all aspects of our organization like office culture, cultural advocacy, talent retention and recruitment, leadership and commitment, and educational outreach. Fascinating. What are some of your specific responsibilities as Director of Global Diversity? As Director of Global Diversity, I am the strategic and organizational champion tasked with conceptualizing and driving the Diversity+Inclusion+Engagement Strategic Plan throughout the firm. My primary responsibilities include: leading the Diversity Council; communicating Perkins + Will’s strategy, mission and vision internally and externally; leading the development of diversity education and awareness strategies impacting workplace culture, recruitment, and retention, as well as marketing, pipeline outreach, and leadership; and developing metrics to monitor progress toward the fulfillment of the Diversity+Inclusion+Engagement Strategic Plan. For Perkins + Will, engagement is the key action point—the step that makes diversity and inclusion matter, because it points to an individual’s level of influence on a team or a project, not just their presence in the room. My work is not “just an initiative” or lip service from a large firm. For us, this is a call to action, not an exercise. We are loud, driven, and clear: We promote our mission, call for commitment and accountability, and see this work as being about advancing the culture at Perkins + Will, not about simply numbers—we are integrating the plan in all business practices across the firm. Diversity is purposeful and deliberate. What would you say are some of the bigger diversity-related challenges the architectural profession is facing in the long term? The most significant challenge is the lack of racial and ethnic diversity of the profession, specifically with African-American and Hispanic representation. The profession should mirror the communities and society it serves. With an increasingly diverse population in the US and globally, racial demographics are woefully underrepresented in the architecture profession, overall. Another challenge is gender equity and representation in the profession. Issues around work-life integration, pay equity, and career advancement are common issues in the profession at large. Increasing generational differences in the workforce are also a challenge. As architects, we will have to examine, adapt, and advance the way we work intergenerationally if we want to retain emerging professionals and attract future generations to the profession. How can a large, global firm like Perkins+Will become a diversity leader in architecture and beyond? Be bold and be brave! Be loud, clear, and driven! Also, commit to diversity as a core value and not just the right thing to do. With any corporate value or goal, there are strategies and accountability. As an example: The architecture industry embraced sustainability as an imperative to survival. Now sustainability is in the DNA of our profession, and if you aren’t doing it, you are irrelevant. Making diversity a core value should be the same. At Perkins+Will, because our advocacy goes beyond our own firm to the profession as a whole, we are involved with leading and participating in national initiatives that aim to address equity and diversity in the profession. As an appointed member of the the AIA Equity in Architecture Commission and Implementation Team, I am helping to develop a framework for a well-conceived and thoughtful action plan, and making recommendations for advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion in the profession. The intent is to create greater urgency within the profession and the Architecture Engineering and Construction community about the tremendous need to have a better representation of in the architecture field. Leadership starts at the top of the organization: Our CEO, Board of Directors, office leaders are all committed to advancing the firm’s Diversity+Inclusion+Engagement goals. By getting involved, taking a leadership role and actively advocating for change, any large firm can become a leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion in the architecture profession and beyond. I am frequently asked to speak on the issue of the value of diversity for groups and organizations like Greenbuild, IIDA, ASID, National Organization of Minority Architects, and AE Advisors as well as for publications like Metropolis, Architectural Record, and Boutique Design. I also get invited to share insight with local architectural and engineering firms: All of this is part of being a leader. The Directory of African American Architects recently surpassed the 2,000 member mark. African Americans make up about 12 percent of the population in the U.S. but only about two percent of registered architects are African-American, with African American women consisting of .02 percent of the overall total, as well. What do you see as some of the ways to change that underrepresentation? Here are a Few Strategies:
  • Strengthen the talent pipeline by increasing outreach, awareness, and exposure to young African-American children. Often, architecture is not presented as a viable career path to the underrepresented youth. We can do this by mentoring and K-12 outreach.
  • Reshape recruitment teams to represent a cross-section of genders, ages, and races in order to attract the more diverse candidates we want.
  • Partner with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to proactively recruit and mentor students. We are in the planning stages of creating such a program.
  • Examine community college and university transfer requirements to attract community college students to accredited programs.
  • Engage in the purposeful and deliberate recruitment by firms and colleges for diverse students. If schools and firms don’t demonstrate their interest and value in a diverse community on their website and recruitment collateral, many candidates will not apply because they “don’t see themselves represented.”
  • Publically highlight the merits and importance of a more diverse profession to create more relevant architecture to improve the “image” problem the profession has of being a “rich person's profession."
Can you provide some general diversity statistics for Perkins+Will? How does the firm stack up against other firms and the profession overall? I do not have demographic statistics on other firms. However, below are statistics compared to the AIA. Perkins+Will Demographic Statistics:
  • Gender Diversity 2015: 45 percent Female, 55 percent Male (Female: up 1 percent from 2014)
  • Racial Diversity 2015: 26 percent Non-White, 74 percent White (Non-White: up 3 percent from 2014)
Perkins+Will Leadership Demographics:
  • Principals 2015: 25 percent female
  • Associate Principals 2015: 32 percent female
  • Associates/Senior Associates: 38 percent and 44 percent female respectively
Since implementing our Diversity+Inclusion+Engagement Strategic Plan, we have increased gender and racial diversity, though modestly so. We recognize this is a journey and not a sprint, so it’s the long view that’s important for us. The diversity of our leadership ranks has steadily improved over the last three years as we deliberately focus on gender, racial, and generational makeup of our Leadership Institute and emerging professionals programs. At the individual office level, have changes increases in diversity among the staff broadened the firm's client pool correspondingly? Is there a relationship between the what the office looks like and what sorts of projects get taken on? As we’ve increased [the] diversity of our staff there has not necessarily been a direct correlation to the types of clients we have. However, with a more diverse and engaged talent pool that embodies varied cultural and community connections, there is a cultural awareness and insight brought to the design and team, and in some cases, a stronger cultural connection to the client. This connection between our work, our people, and the communities we serve absolutely makes for a strong and culturally relevant design solution. In addition, I would say the more broad our talent pool, the more broad our client and project opportunities. There have been cases where a more diverse team that reflects the diversity of the client has been a competitive advantage. Conversely, there have been situations in the past where our team was not diverse enough, did not reflect the diversity of the client, and was at a disadvantage. Can you please speak to some of the work you have done with HBCUs in an effort to increase African-American interest in architecture at the grade school and college levels? In its final planning stage, the Perkins+Will/HBCU Partnership Program’s goal is to strengthen the academic pipeline of underrepresented groups. With that in mind, Perkins+Will and the deans of the HBCU architecture schools collaborated to create a program that would provide mentoring, counseling and support to HBCU students in a comprehensive manner. Exposure and Awareness is the first step in broadening access and opportunities for the students by providing hands-on information and insight into what Perkins+Will and other large design firms are looking for in candidates: The three components of the program include:
  • Career Fairs: A local team of Perkins+Will staff participates in an annual regional career fair of the HBCU’s by geographic location, pairing the HBCU and P+W office closest to the school.
  • Annual Office Visit: Perkins+Will will host HBCU students for a half day office visit including office tour, project presentations, and resume/portfolio review.
  • Lecture Series: Working with HBCU leadership, Perkins+Will will develop a lecture series to be curated around relevant architectural practice and design. The lectures will be delivered on each HBCU campus on a rotating basis and virtually across the others. Through a lecture series we can harness the vast wealth of knowledge and expertise within Perkins+Will and other firms.
Our Atlanta office piloted the Career Fair and Office Visit with Tuskegee University this past spring with tremendous success. We have seen the positive impact we have on students’ career development simply by investing our time and knowledge. We were fortunate enough to have hired a Tuskegee graduate as a result of these activities.
Placeholder Alt Text

Screen Play

Alterstudio Architecture transforms a bland condominium with a few materials expertly writ large

How do you make a 2,000-square-foot condominium feel Texan but not trite? That was the problem Alterstudio Architecture’s Kevin Alter had to solve for his client, who purchased a home in a Four Seasons residential development on Lady Bird Lake, one of the most scenic spots in Austin. Alter and his partners, Ernesto Cragnolino and Tim Whitehill, met the challenge by using classic materials—wood and steel—in artful, unexpected ways.

After much research and brainstorming, the architects hit on the idea of centering the design around seven giant Claro walnut slabs that they had found through a supplier in Sacramento, California, that harvests and mills only locally found dead trees (Claro walnut is a seriously endangered plant species). In the home, the slabs are deftly employed as seating and tabletops, and as a headboard in the master bedroom—where the client had wanted the largest possible slab used. But the one the architects located was too big for the freight elevator. So before placing the order, the team created a full-scale mock-up, which was lifted on top of the cab, through the hoist-way, to make sure that the actual wood could be hauled up to the condo.

In addition to the slabs, walnut is used throughout the space, with the occasional contrast of milled steel, which is used for the base of the bar because, said Alter, “everyone sitting at a bar is always kicking it.” The architects employed local woodworker Mark Macek to create the hand-milled walnut strips that form the screens used throughout the space and the wide-plank walnut floors. The wood furniture was custom designed and made by Atlanta-area craftsman Marco Bogazzi. “I’m interested in having things made exceptionally well,” said Alter.

Because correcting awkward levels in the ceiling would have been too costly, the architects turned to wallpaper to draw attention away from them—jute grasscloth from Twenty2 in the bedroom, Samui Sunrise from Eskayel in the living room.

The client, who also has a home in Dallas and one in Colorado, had hired the firm because he was impressed with its long list of architectural awards. This particular job did not require major architectural moves—no spaces were reconfigured—but the team did change all the surfaces, even the plasterboard walls. It was the first time they had worked on interiors only—an experience Alter had long desired. “I’m tired of other people messing up our architecture,” he said. Besides, he added, he liked the selection process; “it was like playing with all the things I’ve liked over the years.”

Placeholder Alt Text

Armchair Planning Association

A new online planning platform lets residents shape a neighborhood from the comfort of their smartphones
In a creative digital shift, the City of New York has residents of one Brooklyn neighborhood tagging up a storm on a new urban planning platform designed to affect neighborhood change IRL. With the help of coUrbanize, a Boston-based city planning and community engagement startup, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is testing its new toolkit of neighborhood planning ideas in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Building on community input gathered in The Brownsville Hundred Days to Progress Initiative and the department's guidelines for neighborhood planning, HPD is using coUrbanize's platform to aid the Brownsville Neighborhood Planning Process, a community planning initiative that seeks to increase the neighborhood's supply of affordable housing; add retail along Livonia Avenue, a main commercial artery; and enhance public safety with vacant lot revitalization, among other measures. Instead of convening residents in a church or a rec center basement, coUrbanize brings neighborhood planning meetings online, distilling the often-complex studies and terms that planners throw around with impunity (ULURP? CEQR?) into an easy-to-understand format and tag-able map that solicits residents' ideas. Founded in 2013 by graduates of MIT's School of Architecture and Planning, the site is geared towards people who want to participate in their community's planning but may not have time or schedule flexibility to attend a meeting. In Brownsville, a neighborhood where many have limited access to the internet and 37 percent of households live below the poverty line, HPD uses coUrbanize's platform to encourage residents text in feedback on areas the city has identified as sites for improvement. "We're committed to reaching voices not often heard, traditionally," said Karin Brandt, coUrbanize founder and CEO. The text messaging service also has a general line where people can voice ideas that aren't on the city's radar. In a welcome display of constructive feedback and civility—two attributes generally not reserved for online comments sections—Brownsville residents are using coUrbanize's platform to map places of interest in their neighborhood that they love, those that are just okay, and ideas for what could be better or built anew. Amid endorsements of spaces like the Osborn Street park and mural and the (Rockwell Group–designed) Imagination Playground at Betsy Head Park, many commenters called for more extracurricular activities for neighborhood youth, sit-down restaurants, and better amenities in parks. The Brownsville planning project is in the second stage of its four-stage timeline right now, with a final plan expected by February 2017. Right now, the coUrbanize toolkit is used mainly by municipalities in Massachusetts, but cities farther afield (Atlanta, San Antonio) are signing up. The City of Boston is using the platform to widen its community engagement for Imagine Boston 2030, the city's multi-pronged planning effort that comes with a stellar city nerd reading list. Check out the platform here.
Placeholder Alt Text

Buckhead Park Over GA400

New renderings revealed for ambitious, highway-capping park in Atlanta
Atlanta is planning a cap-and-trade of the best kind: Today, ROGERS PARTNERS Architects+Urban Designers (Rogers Partners) and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects released more details of a proposal to cover a stretch of highway in the city's Buckhead neighborhood and convert it to a lush nine-acre park. "Buckhead Park Over GA400 is a new park typology for the city. Most Atlanta parts are historic, or like Centennial Park, built for a special purpose [such as the Olympics]. This park will create quality public space where you already have density. Like most great public places, it's about creating a series of scaled experiences" for visitors, explained Rob Rogers, principal at Rogers Partners. Thomas Woltz, principal at Nelson Byrd Woltz, added that the park, which straddles an eight-lane highway, "is connected to existing infrastructure and is being built in found space, much like New York's Hudson Yards and Millennium Park in Chicago." The pair presented their design this morning for Buckhead Park Over GA400 to the board of the project's sponsors, the Buckhead Community Improvement District (BCID). Buckhead, an affluent neighborhood in northern Atlanta that's crisscrossed by interstate and local highways, is one of the city's primary commercial districts, with dense development clustered along its main corridor, Peachtree Road. As car-oriented Atlanta grows, the city is looking to enhance the quality of its green spaces and encourage walkable environments. Buckhead Park Over GA400 is born out of that ambition, and designed as a local park with regional pull, Rogers and Woltz agreed. A series of public spaces—the plaza, the commons, and the gardens—will be complemented by MARTA stations that bring commuters into the neighborhood and by connections to the Atlanta Beltline, and Path 400, a state-funded recreational trails initiative.
"When we started the project, one of the things we thought was most exciting was taking this void in the middle of the neighborhood, and turning that into the heart of Buckhead as a public space. When you're making this major public space, we thought, 'How do you ground that? How do you make this part of Atlanta?'" Woltz said. The design team looked to nature: the Appalachian foothills are one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet, so he and Rogers decided to ground the design of the ab ovo park in the region's bio-heritage. The curving lawns, stepped seating, and sweeping overhead paths that will guide visitors over sunken lanes of traffic are manifestations of the region's ecology, abstracted through form, material choices, and horticulture, especially. The plaza's high canopies evoke the native savannah, while upland ecology is represented in the park's commons, which is scaled to host large events. The gardens off of Peachtree Road buffer visitors from that busy, car-oriented thoroughfare. Even at the conceptual level, the design choices reflect structural considerations, Woltz explained. A half-mile-long allée linking the plaza, the commons, and the gardens will be planted over the structure of the train tracks, so the designers know they will have enough stability to support mature trees. "This approach is the opposite of decorating the outdoors with plants," Woltz added. "We're selecting the most resilient plants that are still iconic for this ecology." Woltz and Rogers are hopeful that the next part of concept study, which includes community outreach and deeper financial analysis, will move forward soon.
Placeholder Alt Text

Fitbit for Cities

Chicago debuts first of 500 sensors that aim to transform urban data collection
Starting today, the City of Chicago is piloting a "Fitbit" for its city streets. In collaboration with researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory, the University of Chicago, and a few corporations, the city last week installed two of 500 planned sensors for the Array of Things, a project to measure the city's performance on an array of environmental metrics. The 10-pound sensors are mounted to light poles and will gather block-level data on noise levels, air quality, air and surface temperature, barometric pressure, vibrations, and atmospheric gasses. Two cameras per box will surveil pedestrian flows, vehicular traffic, sky color, cloud cover, and standing water. The video below gives an overview of the Array of Things and potential applications for the wealth of data the project will generate: “There are a ton of hit-and-miss experiments being done in cities around the world, but they are not being measured,” Charlie Catlett, lead investigator of the Array of Things, told USA TODAY. “We’re not able to take a success in Chicago and say this is why it succeeds, and this is how you can adapt that to Denver or Los Angeles or New Orleans. I want to see this project help city designers and planners navigate better.” Data will be instantaneously available to residents online beginning in October. The data, city officials say, could aid infrastructure decisions in the pursuit of Vision Zero goals, or pinpoint areas with poor air quality for intervention. It could also help enable strolling residents avoid desolate blocks or help parents determine how much outdoors time their child with asthma should have. In a city that already has a problem with the gross misuse of cameras, officials addressed the potential for mass surveillance with assurances that the images collected by the devices will be deleted in "tens of minutes." The next 48 boxes will be installed by the end of the year, with 450 more coming to the Windy City by 2018. Spurred by a $3.1 million National Science Foundation grant, in the coming years the project will migrate to Seattle, Chattanooga, and Atlanta.