Search results for "San Francisco"

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Rest In Peace

In memoriam: Landscape architect Ron Herman
The award-winning San Francisco Bay Area landscape architect Ron Herman has passed away.  The University of California, Berkeley College of Environmental Design (CED) announced Herman’s passing in a post on its website earlier this week. Herman, an alumnus of the school, graduated in 1964 with a Bachelors in Landscape Architecture. The designer practiced in the Bay Area for over 35 years and created over 400 full-scale gardens during this time. Herman’s designs included some of the country’s largest and most intricate residential gardens, including Japanese garden-inspired designs for the 25-acre site surrounding the home of Silicon Valley billionaire Lawrence Ellison. Herman grew up in Hollywood, where his father owned a plant nursery. As a child, Herman helped his father install gardens at the homes of rarefied clients, including celebrities Phil Silvers and Steve Allen. After graduating from CED, Herman studied Japanese garden design at Kyoto University in Japan for three years. While there, Herman grew inspired by the tension between regimented and organic forms inherent in traditional Japanese garden design. Herman brought this sensibility back home, imbuing his works with a mix of formal and informal sequences of spaces and plantings.  Like his father, Herman’s list of clients included a whos-who of celebrities and prominent individuals and companies, including the professional football player Joe Montana, Neil Young, and Ellison’s company, Oracle. Herman also designed the garden for the East Wing addition by I.M. Pei to the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. In a 2002 profile, Herman summed up his philosophy to SF Gate: “A successful garden doesn't show itself all at once...there needs to be an integration or relationship between indoors and out—such as a room that opens onto the garden."
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Successful Pitches

2026 World Cup preview: Which U.S. cities will host?
 As France and Croatia prepare to face off in the 2018 FIFA World Cup final this Sunday, North American cities are already thinking about 2026, when the United States, Mexico, and Canada will co-host the games. Announced last month, it’s perhaps one of the only unifying moments that’s happened lately between the three neighboring countries given the continent's current political rifts. But a lot can happen in eight years, and while North Americans wait to find out how relationships might repair, we can logistically consider how the world’s favorite sport will play out in our own backyard. Per the aptly named United Bid, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico argue that existing infrastructure, local partnerships, and state-of-the-art stadiums will decrease costs and encourage sustainable practices within the games. Sixty of the eighty planned matches are set to take place in the U.S., including all games from the quarterfinals onwards. As of now, 17 U.S. cities have begun campaigning to secure their individual bids, while Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Toronto, Montreal, and Edmonton have already been named as official hosts. By 2021, FIFA will pare down the list of U.S cities to 10. Boston Consulting Group, a global management firm, recently projected that the tournament will generate over $5 billion in economic activity for the three host countries, while single cities in the U.S. might expect a net benefit of up to $480 million each. Which top towns will make the cut? A few of FIFA’s general requirements give insight into the possible results. To host a World Cup match, each city must be able to hold at least five matches in a stadium with a capacity of at least 40,000 people. Seating for 80,000 people must be available for the opening and final matches. With FIFA’s expanded format going into effect in 2026, 48 teams will be able to participate in the tournament. That’s 16 more teams than previous World Cups, making it more important than ever for the host countries to showcase strong transportation, solid hospitality services, and modern sports arenas with the ability to accommodate the increased number of fans. One of the United Bid’s strongest points, according to FIFA, was that it could ensure the long-term use of each stadium following the World Cup. Each building in the proposal is fully-functional and already services major sports events year round. The following cities and stadiums (architects listed) are contending for 2026: Atlanta - Mercedes-Benz Stadium by HOK, tvsdesign, Good Van Slyke Architecture, and Stanley Beaman & Sears Baltimore - M&T Bank Stadium by Populous Boston - Gillette Stadium by Populous Cincinnati - Paul Brown Stadium by NBBJ Dallas - AT&T Stadium by HKS Architects Denver - Mile High Stadium by Stanley E. Morse Houston - NRG Stadium by Populous and Houston Stadium Consultants Kansas City, Missouri - Arrowhead Stadium by Kivett and Myers and Populous Los Angeles - Rose Bowl by Myron Hunt Miami - Hard Rock Stadium by HOK/360 Nashville - Nissan Stadium by Populous and McKissack & McKissack New York - Met Life Stadium by HOK, Bruce Mau, Rockwell Group, and EwingCole Orlando - Camping World Stadium by HNTB Philadelphia - Lincoln Financial Field by NBBJ San Francisco - Levi’s Stadium by HNTB Seattle - CenturyLink by Ellerbe Becket and LMN Architects Washington, D.C. - FedEx Field by Populous This is a major opportunity for the U.S. to both bring in new capital and upgrade infrastructure in conjunction with the games. The U.S. hasn’t hosted a World Cup since 1994 when Brazil beat Italy at Rose Bowl Stadium. The famous arena is one of the rumored spots to anchor the 2026 final match in addition to the new L.A. Rams Stadium by HKS Architects, MetLife Stadium in New York—which hosted Copa America in 2016—as well as the proposed, Bjarke Ingels-designed new home for the Washington Redskins. The U.S. will most likely be guaranteed a place in the games, following tradition that the host country's team will be included in the tournament.
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Scooters Take Flight

City of Milwaukee files lawsuit against dockless scooter company Bird
There’s a new battleground in the wars pitting transportation alternatives against cities. Milwaukee recently took legal action against Bird, a privately-operated dockless scooter company that is one of many trying to colonize city streets, as reported by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. California-based Bird dropped off 100 motorized scooters in downtown Milwaukee last month, but Deputy City Attorney Adam Stephens wrote a letter to the company warning that “Bird’s Motorized Scooters may NOT be lawfully operated on any public street or sidewalk in the City of Milwaukee." According to the complaint, Bird refused to cease operations, leading to the lawsuit. Bird sees it differently. "We respectfully disagree with the city’s contention that operation of any electric scooter in the state of Wisconsin is unlawful," a Bird spokesperson told Smart Cities Dive. These rental electric scooters operate in the same way as dockless bikes—scooters are left throughout the city and customers can unlock one using an app on their phone. Following the ride, customers leave it on the street or sidewalk for the next person to use. Bird charges a fee of $1 to unlock the bike and $0.15 per minute thereafter. Other companies in the dockless vehicle-sharing industry, including Lime and Spin, have invested in dockless scooters. Major companies have seen the potential in this form of micromobility. Uber recently invested $335 million into Lime and bought Jump, and Lyft bought Motivate, parent company to Citi Bike. These acquisitions have been touted as a way to solve the first-and-last-mile problem and consolidate transportation options under one umbrella. But the controversy over regulatory issues for these new modes of transport has stopped companies from moving fully forward. Dockless vehicle companies have infiltrated cities from Miami to San Francisco, only to subsequently have cease and desist orders issued against them. As is the case in Milwaukee, one of the main concerns is the lack of designated space for these scooters. Without a dock, it becomes easy for scooters (and bikes) to pile up on the streets and create both an aesthetic and safety issue. Milwaukee officials began complaining once seeing the scooters littering on the sidewalks and outside public buildings, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Cities are scrambling to find a way to regulate this new mode of transport and are even cracking down on it, much like in the early days of ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft. San Francisco ordered the removal of the scooters until the start of an official permit program and Denver seized more than 250 scooters. Bird has faced legal trouble in other cities before for not complying with city orders, including in Santa Monica, San Francisco, Denver, Miami, Nashville, and Austin. A hearing is scheduled for this Friday, at which time the city will be seeking a temporary injunction to remove the scooters immediately.
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Won't You Ride My Bicycle?

Dockless bike-sharing is coming to NYC this summer
Are bikes slowly taking over the streets of New York? Extra Citi Bikes are being rolled out ahead of the L Train shutdown, ride-hailing company Lyft has acquired Motivate and its bike sharing company Citi Bike, and now the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) revealed further details for their dockless bike-share pilot. Following a request for expressions of interest (RFEI) from the DOT last year, 12 companies vied for the opportunity to pilot a dockless bike-share program in the city. DOT announced earlier this week that Lime, JUMP, ofo, Pace, and Motivate have been chosen to roll the program out. Bikes from those companies will be supplemented in each community by pedal-assist models capable of reaching 20-miles-per-hour courtesy of either JUMP or Lime. The first bikes are expected to arrive from PAce and Lime in mid-July in the Rockaways, Queens, followed by bikes from JUMP, ofo, and Lime in central Bronx and Staten Island later in July. Coney Island will also receive bikes from Motivate later this year, timed to avoid the worst of the summer crowds and construction concerns. The areas chosen for the pilot are out of Citi Bike’s current reach, and each neighborhood will receive at least 200 bikes. As the name suggests, dockless bike-sharing does not require a permanent docking station for bikers to return their rentals to. Instead, riders use an app to find and unlock a bike nearby; once the ride is finished, the rider leaves the bike on a sidewalk, and a fee is charged according to the amount of time spent riding. While each company has a different pricing structure, the DOT estimates that a 30-minute ride will only cost $2. Misplacement of the bikes—and having streets end up as 'bike graveyard' where abandoned bikes litter streets—is a concern that other cities are grappling with. Other regulatory issues surrounding ridesharing and similar transportation alternatives have plagued cities, from Uber to autonomous vehicles to e-scooters. However, it appears that concerns will be assessed during the pilot, as the DOT will “carefully evaluate companies’ compliance with requirements around data accessibility and user privacy” as well as look at the “safety, availability and durability” of the bikes themselves. The DOT’s announcement comes at a time when ride-hailing companies are changing the transportation landscape. In an interview earlier this year, Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi claimed that he wanted Uber to be the “Amazon of transportation,” expanding the range of first-and-last mile solutions. Two of these dockless bike share companies are now owned by major ride-hailing companies—JUMP is owned by Uber and more recently, Motivate (parent company to CitiBike) was bought by Lyft. It’s unclear how dockless bike share will fit within New York’s transportation system and regulations, but DOT will be evaluating the sustainability of the dockless program before moving forward with a permanent program.
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Need a Lyft?

Lyft buys Citi Bike, is now America’s largest bike-share business
Lyft has gone multimodal and acquired most of bike-share company Motivate, supplementing its car-for-hire business model with ownership of the country’s largest network of docked bicycles. The purchase means that Lyft is now the owner of New York’s Citi Bike program and will continue to maintain Motivate's existing bike-share programs across eight cities. Lyft’s purchase, coming in at a rumored $250 million, sets the ridesharing company on a direct collision course with rival Uber, who picked up electric bike startup JUMP for $200 million in April. Both companies have expressed that enhancing urban mobility using a variety of vehicles is their ultimate goal, and the meteoric rise of dockless scooters seems to lend credence to the idea that commuters are looking into alternative transit options. Moving forward, Citi Bike will be renamed “Lyft Bike” and the maintenance section of Motivate will be spun off as a separate company responsible for keeping Lyft’s fleet running. Uber and Lyft’s purchases are the next logical steps in extending their grasp on 'first mile-last mile' transportation, as systems that ferry passengers to and from mass transit options are known. Both ridesharing companies are betting that they can corner the market on whatever form of urban navigation ultimately wins out, including self-driving cars, and are building out their real estate portfolio in the meantime. "Whether it's taking a car,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told CNBC earlier this year, “whether it's taking a pooled car, whether it's taking a bike, whether you should walk or even now we want to build out the capability for you to take a bus or subway. We want to be the A-to-B platform for transportation." Still, Lyft’s purchase might have come too late to get an edge on their main competitor. New York City announced on Tuesday that the city would be testing out electric, dockless bikes capable of reaching up to 20 miles-per-hour in three underserved neighborhoods across the city. Fordham in the Bronx, the Rockaways in Queens, and Staten Island’s North Shore will all act as test beds for dockless bicycles this summer. These areas were chosen because they do not infringe on Citi Bike’s reach in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and parts of Queens. Each neighborhood will receive 200 bikes courtesy of Lime and Uber's Jump Bikes after July 28, and if the program proves popular, the service could be expanded throughout the city. The move to dockless bikes in those areas would preclude building pricey docking infrastructure because bicycles can be left at any spot between the curb and sidewalk.
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Zero Tolerance

Why are architecture’s major professional organizations silent on the immigrant detention debate?
A preliminary Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plan to house nearly 100,000 detained migrants across California has been shelved.

 According to a draft Navy memo reported by Time late last week, the military base at Camp Pendleton north of San Diego and the Concord Naval Weapons Station (CNWS) east of San Francisco were being eyed as potential sites for “temporary and austere” detention facilities that would hold up to 47,000 detained migrants each over coming months. The plans encountered swift and fierce local opposition from residents and City of Concord officials alike, prompting DHS to unofficially reconsider the plan. Aside from local political opposition to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policies—especially with regard to the policy of separating migrant families and detaining separated children under inhumane conditions—locals pointed to the CNWS site’s environmental toxicity and the presence of unexploded munitions on the grounds as additional reasons against its use as a detention facility. The dust-up in California comes as the United States government works to expand the number of migrant detention facilities across the country in order to deal with the rapidly growing number of detainees resulting from its hardline stance against incoming migrants and refugees. The memo uncovered by Time estimates the government is projecting to warehouse up to 25,000 detained migrants over the coming months in abandoned airfields across southern Alabama and in the Florida panhandle in addition to the nearly 94,000 detainees planned for California. There is no word regarding where or whether the detention facilities originally slated for California are being relocated to other sites. The new facilities will join what is quickly becoming a sprawling, nation-wide network of private jail facilities, non-profit-operated detention centers, and now, camps and “tent cities” located on military bases aimed at housing detained migrants. Perhaps nothing has brought this more into focus than recent controversy over the Trump administration’s policy of family separation. Although President Trump recently put a temporary halt to the practice through an executive order, nearly 2,500 children have been separated from their families over the past two months and are now being detained in facilities spanning at least 15 states. According to government figures, roughly 12,000 migrant children overall are currently being held in over 100 facilities across the country, many of which are at or exceed their designated capacities, and some of which are facing allegations of abuse and misconduct, not to mention ill-equipped to handle the mental health, welfare, and legal hurdles these children face. As a result, the nation’s sprawling—and expanding—carceral archipelago has now become a major source of  political, ethical, and moral debate. 

As with the vast for-profit prison system, there are many questions about the ethical and moral implications of designing and constructing these facilities. So far, however, the architectural profession is staying mostly out of the fray, with a few exceptions. Last week, The Architecture Lobby (TAL) and Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) issued a joint statement rejecting the role of architects in designing such detention facilities, stating, “The Architecture Lobby and ADPSR call on architects, designers, planners and allied professionals to refuse to participate in the design of any immigration enforcement infrastructure, including but not limited to walls, checkpoints, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices, detention facilities, processing centers, or juvenile holding centers. We encourage owners, partners and employees who find themselves in practices that engage in this work to organize, and deny their labor to these projects.” The statement came as the American Institute of Architects (AIA) held its annual convention in New York City, an event that was marked with a heavy emphasis on the profession’s attempts to overcome the diversity and inclusion hurdles currently faced by the white- and male-dominated profession. It was not long ago that the association drew the ire of its members following the 2016 national election, when AIA CEO Robert Ivy declared that AIA members “stand ready to work” with Trump toward shared goals like infrastructure investments. During last week’s conference, ADPSR attempted to get AIA leadership to endorse its rejection of detention center projects, an effort that was ultimately unsuccessful, though the group is still working to convince the AIA to adpot its position. Raphael Sperry, president of ADPSR, told The Architect’s Newspaper, “People should recognize that immigrants, including currently undocumented people in the United States, contribute greatly to architecture, and always have. There are immigrant and undocumented architects, builders, carpenters, plumbers, welders. We must recognize and respect the contributions of everyone who shapes the built environment, and ensure that our profession and our broader industry respect human rights for everyone.” When reached for comment on the question of whether architects should take on these commissions, Carl Elefante, AIA president, referred AN to the AIA press team. When contacted, a representative of the AIA simply asked, “Why do you think architects are working on these projects?” without providing further comment. Even a casual observer would note that architects are likely fundamental to the development of not only the increasingly ubiquitous detention centers being built across the country, but also, as ADPSR points out, the myriad supportive facilities necessary for DHS to carry out its ongoing efforts to fight so-called “illegal immigration.” Most notoriously, a 200,000-square-foot former Walmart in Brownsville, Texas came under scrutiny in recent weeks as a detention center with a unique claim to fame—the largest detention center for migrant and refugee children. Operated by the privately-run Southwest Key Programs organization, the big-box detention center was converted from a retail store to its current use in 2016 as a result of corporate downsizing and currently holds roughly 1,500 separated children. The conversion likely required building permits, construction drawings, and the like—services that often require architects. It is safe to assume that local jurisdictions would require basic planning approval and permitting for these projects, so it seems natural that architects would somehow be involved in the propagation of these facilities. The silence from professional organizations on the matter is troubling to say the least; as the government ramps up efforts to build more facilities under increasingly hostile terms, it would benefit practitioners and contractors to understand the ethical implications of their work. Furthermore, other professional architectural organizations, like the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), have pushed to have architects and designers engage with migrant and refugee detention centers through design in the past. Last year, ACSA issued a controversial call for its annual steel construction competition, asking participants to design a “Humanitarian Refugee (Detention) Center.” The proposal drew ire from the architectural community as well, prompting the group to shut down the competition in exchange for a different brief issued earlier this year. In a statement announcing the end of the competition, ACSA remarked that it had received “justified​ criticism” over the prompt and that it regretted its decision to publish the competition. When reached for comment this week regarding the current debate surrounding migrant detention centers, a representative said, “ACSA does not have a comment on that issue. We do not take positions on the work that architects choose to take on.” The reticence that professional groups like the AIA and ACSA have toward speaking out against what many consider to be plainly unethical facilities speaks to the profession’s ongoing struggles with racial and ethnic diversity along with human rights concerns. Because detained migrants are being distributed among a network that runs the gamut of structures, from private prisons to improvised tent cities in remote desert sites, the implications of the expanding detention network extends beyond the realm of individual projects and firm-specific business decisions to encompass profession-wide ethical and human rights concerns. The racialized dimension of the immigration debate alongside the architectural profession’s continued lack of diversity present particular challenges for professional organizations and individual firms as they attempt to respond. At stake is whether—or how—the architectural profession will engage with the American immigration debate, and more broadly, with a global refugee crisis that is only due to keep growing in scope and severity as the effects of climate change and resource-driven conflicts spread globally. If AIA and ACSA will not provide leadership during these trying times, who will?  
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International Style Safe

Pereira’s historic CBS Television City achieves landmark status amid redevelopment rumors
The Los Angeles City Council has voted to designate the William Pereira-designed CBS Television City complex in Los Angeles as an official city historic-cultural monument, paving the way for the complex to be preserved or adaptively reused as redevelopment talks for the 25-acre site heat up. The International Style complex was built in 1952 and features gridded expanses of clear glass set along planar geometries. Designed by the firm Pereira and Luckman, the complex is among several of the office's many threatened works, including their LACMA building, among many, many others, and one of the few to glide toward landmark status in recent years, a surprise given the red-hot development climate in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Conservancy nominated the complex for landmarking earlier this year as rumors began to swirl that CBS was interested in redeveloping the complex. Alan Hess, an architectural historian who wrote the building's historic nomination on behalf of the Conservancy, told The Architect's Newspaper that "CBS Television City is a true landmark of the electronic age, and a real testament to the design and planning vision of William Pereira and Charles Luckman," adding, "They built it at the dawn of television, yet it is still in use today for its original purpose. That’s good design. It stands alongside [Richard] Neutra’s Lovell House and Skidmore Owings and Merrill’s Crown Zellerbach tower in San Francisco as one of California’s three greatest examples of International Style architecture." Hess added that the importance of the structure and its International Style design surpass its use as a television facility, as well, saying, "The International Style was inspired by the straightforward functionalism of factories, and CBS Television City is, in fact, a factory building, not a house or office building. CBS can be congratulated for being a good corporate citizen and supporting this designation." The complex came into being as a replacement facility for the Columbia Square broadcasting facilities located just a few miles away in Hollywood, CBS's original home designed by William Lescaze in 1938. Columbia Square was restored, reused, and expanded by Rios Clementi Hale Studios in 2017 as part of a larger project that added a high-rise tower and new office spaces to the site. The award-winning project has been heralded as a marquee approach for preservation-focused adaptive reuse. A potential project for the Television City site has not been announced.
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Head in the Cannon

Yazdani Studio of CannonDesign offers new model for how architects work
In a radical move in 2000, Mehrdad Yazdani established the Yazdani Studio under the larger umbrella of CannonDesign. The shuffle surprised many architects, both competitors and some members within Cannon itself. The move created a firm within a firm, established to be both part of CannonDesign and at the same time somewhat separate. This allowed Yazdani to explore design ideas that were distinct and somewhat unusual when compared to most of the buildings coming out of the large architectural and engineering practice at the time. Yazdani explains that his namesake studio is a platform for exploration of design ideas, separate from CannonDesign’s Los Angeles office. When you walk into the L.A. office of CannonDesign, you see a broad open space of desks, people, and computers, but the Yazdani Studio is set apart upstairs, almost as though it were a completely different office. The Yazdani Studio offers an innovative model for designer-centered ateliers, one where an architect can work with the security of a large practice and the flexibility of a boutique operation. Yazdani came to CannonDesign when his previous firm, Dworsky Associates, was acquired by the larger office. For six years (1994-2000) Yazdani served as Design Director for Dworsky Associates in Los Angeles. During that time they were selected to design the Lloyd D. George U.S. Courthouse in Las Vegas, Nevada as part of the national GSA Federal Design Excellence Program. The 437,000-square-foot project won acclaim and drew national attention, demonstrating that a federal courthouse could be both secure and welcoming, giving the judges both the monumentality they wanted and the public the accessibility they sought. The project's success carried Yazdani’s national design reputation to such a level that when Dworsky Associates was acquired by CannonDesign in 2000, Yazdani was offered the option to create his own studio within the larger firm. Creating the Yazdani Studio was a paradigm shift from how large integrated A/E firms had been working. Typically, if design was a high priority, a firm might promote one or two individuals to positions of authority and design leadership. Several examples made waves nationally: Ralph Johnson, FAIA, Global Design Director, at Perkins + Will; David Childs, FAIA at SOM New York and Craig Hartman, FAIA at SOM San Francisco, both Design Partners; and Joan Soranno, FAIA, Design Principal with John Cook, FAIA at HGA. All of these architects set design direction, lead clients and internal teams, and have won many national design awards, yet none have a studio in their name. CannonDesign agreed to create the Yazdani Studio to help elevate design within the firm. Today with roughly 1,000 people and 20 offices, CannonDesign CEO, Brad Lukanic remains a strong proponent of the Yazdani Studio. This year, Lukanic invited Yazdani extend his influence further by joining the Cannon board of directors to bring, “pre-eminent design to the board.”   University of Utah, Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute Salt Lake City, Utah Consistent with the Yazdani Studio ambitions to constantly innovate, this was a first-of-its-kind facility, combining places for students to live, invent, and collaborate. It brings together 400 student residences and 20,000 square feet of “garage” or incubator space to encourage students to develop ideas that will spawn Utah-based start-ups. After being open for just over a year, the number of start-up companies developed on campus has tripled. The building attracts students from all over campus—it’s a magnet for creative thinking.   CJ Blossom Park Gyeonggi-do, South Korea Recently selected as the “Lab of the Year” by R&D Magazine, this 1,200,000-square-foot facility is a new research headquarters for CJ Corporation intended to reposition the company’s operations into an interdisciplinary format, designed to “increase efficiency, create a culture of integrated innovation, and accelerate speed-to-market.” With a three-leaf-clover floor plan, the internal spaces encourage interaction and stimulate cross-fertilization.   Museum of Tolerance, Jerusalem, Permanent Exhibitions Jerusalem, Israel A series of undulating pavilions provide a journey through human history. The 44,000-square-foot exhibit seeks to teach the core values of kindness and respect for mankind. The delicate human scale reflects the museum’s goal of teaching social justice and dignity through interactive, multi-media exhibits.   EMAAR Hospitality Address Towers at Harbour Point Dubai, United Arab Emirates EMAAR Properties selected the Yazdani Studio to design two major towers. The design frames the Santiago Calatrava-designed Observation Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour City, now under construction. EMAAR Properties gained international recognition when they developed the Burj Kalifa, the 160-story mixed use tower that is the tallest building in the world, designed by Adrian Smith, then of SOM. The Yazdani Studio-designed towers are 60 and 65 stories totaling 2,240,000 square feet. The project serves as both a focal point and a gateway to the Dubai Creek Harbour.
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Office Cultured

A new wave of social and relaxation spaces bridges the gap between work and home
As anyone used to late-night emails knows, the nine-to-five workday is a thing of the past. But while innovative companies have traded cubicles for open, flexible office plans, people are seeking even more elastic social spaces that foster wellness and connection—both in the office and out. Consider them an updated version of the "third space," common areas where people go to unplug, reenergize, and decompress. "When we first got involved in workplace in the '90s, our interest was, ‘How can design contribute to creative communities?’" said architect Clive Wilkinson, whose Los Angeles firm has designed the interiors of the Googleplex campus and offices for other leaders in tech and media. "We were in a prehistoric era when cubicle farms still ruled. We’ve come so far since then," he continued, citing the shift from the afterthought coffee rooms of the 1980s to the "Starbucks workplace" of today’s laptops-and-lattes company cafes. "A large part of the social space in the workplace today is somewhere between a boutique hotel and your home," Wilkinson explained. "Depending on the type of client, it can go more one direction or the other." The aesthetic shift is due in part to the influence of designers like Philippe Starck, whose hospitality designs brought a glamorized domestic environment into public spaces, but it’s also a result of the premium put on today’s knowledge workers, noted Wilkinson, who is writing a history of offices tentatively titled The Theater of Work (Frame Publishers). In one of his firm’s current projects, a new headquarters for Utah bedding-manufacturing company Malouf, an entire building will be designated for nonwork areas, including an Olympic-size swimming pool, barbershop, and spa. It’s not just in the office where people are feeling the change in work culture. "There’s a real flattening now between what is considered work with a capital ‘W’ and all the other side projects that people are interested in," said Richard McConkey, an associate director at Universal Design Studio (UDS). "There's not such a clear division between work, home, life, cultural projects, and hobbies anymore; that's why all these multifunctional spaces are occurring." UDS has developed on a number of projects that blur the lines of live-work-play, including MINI Living, the car brand’s Shanghai entry into the coliving concept of small private spaces surrounding shared semipublic spaces. But the UDS project that perhaps best represents the growing thirst for gathering is London’s Ace Hotel, the lobby of which has been called one of the city’s most popular coworking spots, although it isn’t officially one at all. Ian Schrager’s Public hotel in New York is similar in attracting nonguests to spend their days there, usually with laptop or phone in hand, even during off-business hours. "The classic 'third space' is between work and home,” said architect Melissa Hanley, cofounder, CEO, and principal of San Francisco architecture and interior design firm Blitz. "I think of it as, ‘Where’s the place I naturally gravitate to, because I feel best there?’ That can be a pub or a coffee shop; it could be the decompression or ramping-up zone." To bring that energy back to the workplace, Hanley’s firm has created game rooms and social hubs—it even has a speakeasy in the works for a client. But while the ping-pong tables of the past may have been a distraction, today’s game rooms, cafes, and bars are reflections of a company mission. “Work is happening even in these ancillary spaces. These third spaces we're creating are in support of the company’s bottom line," Hanley said. So what advice would she give to a prospective client? "There's just such an incredible amount of data in support of creating more human-centered spaces in the workplace—the benefits are innumerable." That’s why, from Silicon Valley to Shanghai, there’s a new crop of businesses catering to the need for a retreat somewhere between work and home. Beyond the traditional barbershop, clubhouse, or nail salon, these next-gen spaces tap into the growing wellness trend: Chillhouse, a monthly membership spa in New York, offers massages and manicures in an Instagram-friendly space focused on self-care; Nap York allows visitors to catch a snooze on an Airweave mattress for $10 a half hour. Then there’s Calm City, the roving meditation studio in a renovated RV, founded by Kristin Westbrook. An avid meditator who had trouble finding a private place at her hectic Rockefeller Center office, Westbrook was inspired by the food truck trend to create an oasis of calm for stressed-out New Yorkers located just outside their offices. "I've always wanted a Superman’s phone booth on every corner, a pod that you could go jump in and be transformed," Westbrook said. That break can be a crucial antidote to the stresses of the day. "Human beings are social creatures, and with many of us working longer hours and living alone in large cities, the feelings of loneliness are certainly very real and powerful," wrote Anita Cheung, cofounder of Moment Meditation, a modern mindfulness club in Downtown Vancouver, B.C., in an email to AN. "Membership in a club and a consistent (and manageable) schedule of activities outside of the ‘nine to five’ allow people to develop other facets of their lives beyond who they are at work, as well as instill a greater sense of community." That’s part of the mission of the Battery, a private member’s club in San Francisco that has taken a cue from the social clubs of the past to create a place for connection and conversation—no business or tech talk allowed. "We try to provide a little bit of an escape from your day-to-day operations," said founder Michael Birch, whether it's a moment for a cocktail, a pause between meetings, or just a place for serendipitous conversation. To facilitate that human connection, designer Ken Fulk imagined the interiors as sumptuous settings for the club’s wide range of programming and events—a mix of large, high-energy spaces to be around people, and smaller, more intimate groupings. "I think people are seeking real connection again," Birch said. "People have disappeared a little bit onto the online world. We very much discourage technology use in the club: We don’t allow people to have laptops out after 6 p.m., we don’t allow photos, and we don’t allow people to talk on their telephone other than inside a telephone booth." The relationship between work and life can be even more blurred in spaces that blend the two like never before. Take New York coliving and coworking space The Assemblage, which has two addresses in Manhattan (and a third on the way), as well as The Sanctuary, a retreat center outside Bethel, New York, near the site of the 1969 Woodstock festival. Though workspace is at the core of The Assemblage's offerings, the company encourages members to get out of their offices and connect over communal breakfasts and lunches. It also features "intention altars" and offers wellness programming like meditation, breathwork, and yoga, "all under one roof, so that individuals can experience this fluid living/working and balanced lifestyle," wrote Magdalena Sartori, the company’s chief creative officer. "Erasing that distinction between work and life empowers individuals to create their own schedule and lifestyle," she added. But as we trade the typical greige workplace environment for a more holistic, humanistic approach, are we simply going farther down a work-obsessed rabbit hole from which you can never clock out? When even the workplace pretends to be a third space, one filled with simulacra of the outside world, are we worse off than we were before? Maybe not. If the offices from the Industrial Revolution to the year 2000 were "rehistoric," as Clive Wilkinson put it, how will people look back at the way we work today—with increasing flexibility to break away from our desks—100 years from now? "They’ll think that we woke up, that suddenly this was the beginning of a work age," Wilkinson said of the turn away from military- or factory-inspired workspaces. "We’re almost at the place now where we’ll remain stable for the next 100 or 200 years, because I think humans have finally understood how communities work in a workplace, how they need to support each other and communicate.”
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Weird Science

Dreyfuss + Blackford’s historic power station conversion breaks ground in Sacramento
The $50 million Powerhouse Science Center, a Beaux Arts style power plant redevelopment project in Sacramento, California, has broken ground. Helmed by Sacramento-based Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture (D+B), the project takes the riverfront power station and reimagines it as regional science and educational center. Some of the redevelopment includes rehabilitating the former Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Power Station B, a power station sitting on the banks of the Sacramento River. The renovation aims to highlight the original use of the building, as well as the technological advances of energy production in the early 20th century. “In 1912, the PG&E Power Station B brought a backup source of electricity - something very new and technologically advanced - to the Sacramento region,” said Jason A. Silva, a design principal with D+B, in ENR California. “This concept of advanced technology is what inspires the placement and concept of the Powerhouse Science Center.” The original structure was designed in 1912 by architect Willis Polk during Sacramento’s recovery from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and was once the largest power plant north of San Francisco. It closed in 1954 and was declared a Superfund site in 1986 due to a high concentration of heavy metals in the soil. The adaptive reuse project covers 53,100 square-feet, including 22,800 square-feet of new space, to convert the structure into a Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) center. There will also be a two-story addition that protrudes from the east side of the power station, containing main circulation, classrooms, offices, a café, and a 120-seat planetarium that rises above the building. Further work is being done to the building envelope, which is undergoing stabilization of the existing reinforced concrete and steel. A new intermediate floor will be added inside the historic structure for additional exhibition space. All of the renovations for the center are aimed towards a LEED Silver rating. The project is scheduled for completion in 2020.
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Greenroofed Potty

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

Kuth Ranieri Architects transforms an abandoned roller coaster into an aviary in China
Some might say adaptive reuse is for the birds—in which case, San Francisco–based Kuth Ranieri Architects might happen to agree. The office is currently working on an unexpected adaptive-reuse project in Suzhou, China—just outside Shanghai—with fellow Bay Area landscape architects TLS Landscape Architecture, with the aim of repurposing an aged amusement park at the foot of the iconic Lion Mountain into a central green for a new, technology-focused residential hub. For the Shishan Park project, TLS has designed a district-wide master plan focused on a new circular promenade surrounding the old central lake that once anchored the forgotten fun park. The development is carved into ten subdistricts, each anchored by iconic pavilions—also designed by Kuth Ranieri—and recreational spaces “capitalizing on the site’s natural and man-made lakes as well as the mountain’s historic significance and beauty,” according to the architects. Overall, TLS’s designs highlight 18 “poetic scenes” that visually connect occupants to the existing lake, nature zones, and views of the five distinct mountaintops that can be seen from the site. At the heart of the new urban area is the disused amusement park and its original metallic roller coaster, which Kuth Ranieri plans to convert into a new, 160,000-square-foot visual and functional center for the 182-acre development. Utilizing stainless steel mesh netting to create the outermost enclosure and wooden decking and steel platforms for new occupiable promenades, Kuth Ranieri reenvisions the dilapidated roller coaster as a superscaled aviary. The plan includes a circuitous “infinity walk” that takes occupants up and through the reused roller-coaster structure to perches above the treetops furnished with viewing platforms and an expansive sky deck. The complex can be entered from any one of three access points framed by glass-wrapped concrete parabolic arches that extend into the aviary as covered walkways. Within, the complex will also contain a ten-story circulation tower that can bring visitors up to the highest observation levels. Here, a wide staircase containing landings generous enough to host public programming will wrap the elevator core. The complex will also include a green roof–topped animal care facility. The metallic enclosure surrounding the aviary is inspired by traditional Chinese ink paintings and, more specifically, by representations of Lion Mountain in such artworks. The cascading, rounded geometries of the canopy are designed to evoke “a feeling of layered misty mountains,” according to Kuth Ranieri. The project is scheduled for completion in 2020.