Search results for "set design"

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School of Cities

DS+R reveals design of “eroded” building at the University of Toronto
Diller Scofidio + Renfro has unveiled the design for a 170,000-square-foot stacked building at the University of Toronto (U of T) to be known as 90 Queen’s Park. Set on the site of a former planetarium, the interdisciplinary structure will serve nine previously-dispersed departments at U of T, but will specifically house the university's newly-established School of Cities, a global hub for urban-focused research, education, and outreach. DS+R was awarded the project after winning a 2016 design competition in which the New York–based firm collaborated with two practices from Toronto, architectsAlliance and ERA Architects. The result of their efforts is a looming, boxy building that appears to shine with a coppery metallic finish. The most important part of the design, according to the architects, is the surrounding context. It’s bordered by Queen’s Park to the east, the Royal Ontario Museum to the north, the 1960s-era Edward Johnson Building to the west (home of U of T’s Faculty of Music), as well as Flavelle House to the south, a Victorian-style structure housing the Faculty of Law.  DS+R’s intervention to the nearly-200-year-old university will be among its most stand-out modern structures when complete. With a rectangular design configured to fit like a puzzle piece around the adjacent Falconer Hall, the school’s original, 118-year-old law building, it's meant to seamlessly connect U of T’s arts, architecture, and legal institutions with one another.  Stilted on one end, 90 Queen’s Park features nine distinct layers. Renderings show each level includes varying facades of ribbed glass with some floors set back and others slightly cantilevered for flare. A large, concaved window overwhelms several middle floors on the south facade of the structure and serves as the backdrop to a 200-seat music recital hall. The architects designed the performance space around the large opening to show off views of southern Toronto’s skyline. At the top of the building is a 400-seat event space featuring floor-to-ceiling windows that wrap the southern and eastern edges of the building, also providing sights of the city. DS+R describes this part of the exterior as eroding from the other sides of the building. To the right of Falconer Hall facing Queen’s Park, the structure boasts 10 strips of opaque glass that are cut off at different lengths. The transparent sections reveal interior corridors, public spaces, as well as the central atrium and spiraling stairs, while the more solid ends conceal classrooms and offices. Charles Renfro, cofounder and principal of DS+R, said in a statement that the building’s dynamic design is aimed to inspire collaborative discourse and public engagement. “This ‘campus within a campus’ is revealed in the building’s dual identity—a smooth cohesive block of faculty offices and workspaces gives way to a variegated expression of individual departments as the building is sculpted around Falconer Hall,” he said. In addition to housing the School of Cities, 90 Queen’s Park will include room for classes within the Faculty of Arts + Science, including history, Near and Middle Eastern civilizations, and the Institute of Islamic Studies, as well as the Anne Tanenbaum Centre of Jewish Studies. Some space will also be dedicated to the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Music, while other gathering areas will be used by the adjacent Royal Ontario Museum. U of T’s School of Cities was created last year to combine the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design with community-based research initiatives dedicated to solving the world’s biggest urban issues. In a press release, Richard Sommer, dean of the department, noted that the building’s outward face is of particular importance. “The edges of the campus and its borders with the city are the places where you engage the community and the vibrancy of the city of Toronto,” he said. “When you have buildings that are at these edges, it’s particularly important that they have programming that produces a platform for public exchange.”  Set to break ground in 2020, the project will also include a large entry plaza to the north that will feature a terraced landscape, as well as a cafe and restaurant.
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City on Stilts

First phase of Hudson Yards set to finally open to the public
Four blocks of Manhattan’s Far West Side were rezoned 14 years ago for New York's ambitious 2012 Olympic bid. After a failed attempt to secure the games, the parcel of land was awarded in 2008 to real estate giant Related Companies. Through a public-private partnership in which Related would oversee the design, construction, and long-term maintenance of the site, the group began creating what's now the largest private development in the history of the United States. Set atop a cluster of rail yards between 10th and 11th avenues, the first phase of the multibillion-dollar megaproject known as Hudson Yards is set to open on March 15, when a cohort of towers and parkland previously inaccessible to the public will be unveiled. Ahead of the much-anticipated launch date, here’s a brief look at what’s already opened and what’s coming online this spring. 10 Hudson Yards Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF), this 895-foot-tall office tower was the first structure completed on-site in May of 2016 and features 1.8 million square feet of commercial space. It boasts tenants such as Coach, L’Oréal, Sidewalk Labs, VaynerMedia, and Boston Consulting Group, among others. A Spanish food hall by José Andrés will also be located in the building. 15 Hudson Yards Rising 917 feet in the sky, this residential tower will offer 285 luxury apartments and 107 affordable rentals come March. The skinny skyscraper was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) as lead architect and Rockwell Group as lead interior architect. 30 Hudson Yards This commercial tower, also designed by KPF is the tallest in Hudson Yards, stretching 1,296 feet in the air, and is set to open in March. It features the city’s highest open-air observation deck, which will be open to the public in 2020. Major media groups such as HBO, CNN, Turner Broadcasting, Time Warner, and Wells Fargo Securities, are set to move in this March. 35 Hudson Yards Also opening this spring, this mixed-use supertall tower was designed by David Childs of Skidmore, Owings + Merrill. It will house 143 condominiums, as well an Equinox Club at the base of its 92 floors. A branded hotel by the luxury fitness company will also open inside the structure. 55 Hudson Yards KPF worked alongside Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates to design this boxy, 780-foot office structure. Completed last year, it's already opened to tenants, serving as the headquarters of several law firms and financial groups. Vessel/New York’s Staircase Heatherwick Studio’s monumental work, known now as New York’s Staircase or Vessel, was commissioned to become the development’s signature work of art. As the centerpiece of Hudson Yards’ five-acre public park, designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, the spiraling, copper-clad work stands 150 feet tall and weaves 2,500 steps throughout its structure. It will open to visitors starting in March. The Shops and Restaurants a.k.a. 20 Hudson Yards This seven-story structure, designed by Elkus Manfredi Architects, will contain 25 fast-casual dining options and restaurants helmed by famous chefs like Thomas Keller and David Chang. The one-million-square-foot building will also feature over 100 luxury shops and an immersive exhibition space by Snarkitecture called Snark Park. The Shed, a.k.a the Bloomberg Building This 200,000-square-foot structure features a retractable outer shell designed to open and enclose a year-round exhibition space and performing arts venue. Also designed by DS+R in collaboration with Rockwell Group, the structure sits at the base of 15 Hudson Yards and will serve as the city’s newest cultural center. The project will open on April 5.
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The Future's Not What It Used to Be

Andrés Jaque, David Adjaye, and others paint a bleak vision of tomorrow in London
Alison and Peter Smithson, James Stirling, Eduardo Paolozzi, and then some: The Whitechapel Gallery's This is Tomorrow show had an all-star cast when it was unveiled in 1956, not that the audience was necessarily acquainted with these fresh-faced artists and architects (yet). Bold, radical, and surefooted—as the name suggested—This is Tomorrow turned heads as visitors flocked to the then-genuinely edgy East End of London to see the show that was welcoming a new artistic movement, Pop Art, to Britain. Is This Tomorrow? a show now at the same Whitechapel Gallery in the same, now banker-friendly part of London, recalls the exhibition of 63 years ago. Instead of being laced with new ideas fuelled by the optimism of a country finally free from food rationing, Is This Tomorrow? takes a more pessimistic view of what the future may be. Ten teams, of mostly architects and artists, have been assembled by curator Lydia Yee. From the start, audiences are confronted by metal sheep pens courtesy of British studio 6a and Argentinian artist Amalia Pica. This is clearly farm equipment and having to move through the narrow contraption in single file as a human is hardly fun, but dark humor punctuates the work; objects like buoys for seals to play with raise questions about how we treat animals. Maybe too, this is how it feels for some in migrant detention camps. An engaging and provoking start is followed by less moving exhibits on the gallery's ground floor. Adjaye Associates and Canadian artist Kapwani Kiwanga's Sankofa Pavilion is meant to be a place for intimate conversations, but the star-shaped installation, which uses dichroic glass to partially reflect light, is more fun for taking pictures in. Thugz Mansion by London firm APPARATA with Glaswegian artist Hardeep Pandha also falls short. The premise of addressing "what happens to architecture when political systems collapse or become outmoded?" sounds deliciously anarchic but the reality is is that Thugz Mansion lacks any real potency. The final installation on the large, open ground floor is a welcome return to the dismal yet engaging promise of 6a and Pica's work. Spirits Roaming the Earth from architect Andrés Jaque and artist Jacolby Satterwhite, both based New York, posits "highendcracy," while bringing up air-rights dilemmas, designer babies, pollution, fracking, gay porn, queer space, and the placement of 432 Park Avenue renderings in Russian luxury hotels. It's rich in content and remarkably coherent, even with so much packed in. If you can't sit through the eight video episodes which explain how the world is fucked by the aforementioned subject matters, a leafy pulsating tower that rises above fumes and a jungle featuring rooms hosting sex parties and topped by two men kissing distills everything nicely. Above, the second floor is a similarly mixed bag of installations. An interim space glosses over the 1956 exhibition with newsreel footage from the British Pathé archive and an assortment of relevant books. Beyond that, the Mexican match-up of artist Mariana Castillo Deball and Tatiana Bilbao results in what appears to be a melted Mecano set; it's meant to symbolize communal connections and the Mesoamerican calendar. Is This Tomorrow? has been promoted alongside a photo of Bait Ur Rouf Mosque in Bangladesh by Marina Tabassum Architects. The firm, with fellow Bangladeshi, artist Rana Begum, has exhibited Phoenix Will Rise—simply an oculus with a crinkled, colored lining, in an inverted trapezoid structure. A weak reference to what is a wonderful building. Thankfully, two much stronger works follow. Duck down and enter The Salvator Mundi Experience from British duo David Kohn Architects and artist Simon Fujiwara. The work accommodates only one person at a time and offers a 360-degree panorama of 1:24 scale scenes depicting experiences of Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi—the painting that broke records when fetching $450 million in New York two years ago. Kohn and Fujiwara's work investigates the commodification and marketability of art and art experiences, focusing on the public relations campaign from marketing agency Droga5, and depicts an auction room, the Dubai Louvre where da Vinci's piece was set to be exhibited, a creepy "interactive chapel," fake replica artwork donation center, a restoration room, and more. All scenes feature CCTV cameras, but of course, the viewer is the real Big Brother. After these miniature metaphors, Borders/Inclusivity from Iranian-born architect Farshid Moussavi and French artist Zineb Sedira ensnares audiences at human scale (the installation isn't for those with claustrophobia). Borders/Inclusivity is a procession of turnstiles that turn different ways and force visitors to awkwardly negotiate the course. Meanwhile, motion sensors set off sirens and sounds of border patrol over the radio. The installation is simple but fits nicely with 6a and Pica's treatment of humans as animals and it'd be a fitting end to the exhibition. However, Brits Rachel Armstrong and Cécile Evans signal the end of Is This Tomorrow? with a piece that somehow dovetails microbial cells and a fog curtain with a fluttering bird projection, all within 140 square feet—London's smallest living space. And that's it. Maybe the Whitechapel Gallery is showing its age—once young and full of hope, now it's moaning about how bad everything is and how much worse it will get, and not doing it too eloquently either. The original, the emphatic, This Is Tomorrow endures more than half-a-century on; the pessimistic, Is This Tomorrow? might not last so long. Despite offering genuine moments of intrigue and asking tough questions, one leaves wishing it was 1956 again.
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AR FF

Sundance Film Festival highlights augmented and virtual reality
The Sundance Institute, the organizer of the annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, and the Kimball Art Center announced an Arts & Culture District building program in the festival's host city. The Sundance HQ architect hasn't been selected yet, but the Kimball has picked BIG to design its new museum. This initiative set the stage for the festival's 2019 crop of movies focusing on architecture. In It’s Going to be Beautiful, a short documentary about the proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall directed by Luis Gutierrez Arias and John Henry Theisen, we see eight wall prototypes and the surrounding neighborhoods on both sides of the existing border barriers. Less divisively, in Joe Talbot's The Last Black Man in San Francisco, a young man lovingly preserves the rundown Victorian house his family lost. The family originally acquired this ornate structure with a witch’s hat, stained glass windows, wooden archways, and built-in organ after the Japanese owners' internment during World War Two. Gentrification, artistry, and black male identity are explored in this tale of the house. “Your radiator is a D Flat,” says the "house tuner" played by Peter Sarsgaard in director Michael Tyburski's The Sound of Silence. Sarsgaard's character solves New York City residents' ills by painstakingly analyzing their out-of-sync domestic sounds (the toaster accompanying the aforementioned radiator is a G Major). A corporation surreptitiously monetizes his theories with virtual home inspections, advertising on New York City street kiosks. Dan Gilroy’s Velvet Buzzsaw, a sendup of the art world with an art critic (Jake Gyllenhaal), artist (John Malkovich), curator (Toni Collette), and gallerist (Rene Russo) who live and work in stupendous houses, galleries, and the fictional art museum LAMA, which uses Diller, Scofidio + Renfro’s Broad Museum and Gehry’s Disney Concert Hall. New Frontier, the media arts section, showed artworks that used virtual and augmented reality, many of which explored ideas about race and community. THE DIAL is an augmented reality artwork from Peter Flaherty, Jesse Garrison, and Trey Gilmore centered on a house around which a murder mystery unravels. Traveling While Black from Roger Ross Williams, Félix Lajeunesse, and Paul Raphaël uses The Green Book—a 20th-century guide for African-American travelers—as a starting point to drop viewers in Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington, D.C., where viewers “sit” in a diner booth with storytellers. In Marshall from Detroit, a 360-degree virtual reality documentary from Caleb Slain, Félix Lajeunesse, and Paul Raphaël, we motor with hometown boy Eminem, who talks with journalist Sway Calloway about the city that shaped him. We see an abandoned church, a destroyed factory, a glorious movie palace, a skyscraper, and a hip-hop battle in a freezing-cold abandoned building. Kaiju Confidential is about a different kind of disruption. In this virtual reality short created by Thomas O'Donnell, Ethan Shaftel, and Piotr Karwas, two monsters battle over whose modernist Japanese city is theirs to destroy. The veteran green beast claims the greater metropolitan area, while his 2-headed rival gets relegated to the suburbs. The Immersive Stage, a three-sided projection room, showcased three digital environments: artist Peter Burr's Dirtscraper, an underground system of “smart architecture” overseen by spatial and social engineers; Matt Romein's analmosh, a dynamic audio-visual landscape; and Victor Morales and Jason Batcheller's Esperpento, based on the Madrid of Goya’s Los Caprichos paintings.
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Welcome to the Big D

Facades+ Dallas will dive into the trends reshaping Texas’s largest metro area
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Texas is adding more people per year than any other state in the country, and with nearly 8 million residents, the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area is the largest urban area in the state. On March 1, The Architect's Newspaper is bringing together architecture and development firms located within the metropolitan area for Facades+ Dallas, a fast-paced dialogue focusing on the region's tremendous growth and the projects reshaping it. Participants include 5G Studio Collaborative, CallisonRTKL, Harwood International, Merriman Anderson Architects, the CDC, L.A. Fuess Partners, Ibanez Shaw, Omniplan, DSGN Associates, Buchanan Architecture, Shipley Architects, Urban Edge Developers. Lauren Cadieux, associate at 5G Studio Collaborative, and Michael Friebele, associate at CallisonRTKL, are co-chairing the conference. In the lead up to Facades+ Dallas, AN sat down with Friebele to discuss trends within Dallas and CallisonRTKL's ongoing projects in the area and across the world. The Architect's Newspaper: To begin with, what facade-led projects are CallisonRTKL up to in Dallas and Texas as a whole? Michael Friebele: We are an interesting office in that we have a long-standing local reach here in Dallas-Fort Worth but also a broad depth of work around the globe. We often find it most interesting for us to take the international experience and find ways to apply those lessons throughout our work back home and likewise in the other direction. The collaboration between offices across CallisonRTKL really makes this possible.

From a conceptual standpoint, our work on a vertical campus in Downtown Dallas took cues from many lessons we have learned abroad, from site response to contextual integration, and paired these attributes with an evolving corporate business model. Ultimately, the concept was shaped around an affordable housing project just to the east of the site, maintaining a view corridor through the gesture of a loop that ultimately became a symbol for the company’s programmatic model. It is one in a line of projects coming up in Texas that we are excited about.

From a facade standpoint, our hospitality group is working on a Grand Hyatt Hotel in Kuwait that is currently under construction. The facade concept of self-shading finds a balance between the harsh climate of the region and the demand for expansive views. The pitch results in the natural placement of photovoltaics with the underside of the bay providing a highly transparent opening with minimal direct solar heat gain. The same team recently completed the core and shell of the Maike Business Center and Grand Hyatt in Xi’an. Here, two towers were linked by a belt truss to limit lateral loads while serving as a critical program link between the hotel and office towers. The facade was a simple extruded, serrated form linked in the middle by a vertical screen that emphasizes the composition.

I am working currently on the design of two China-based projects with quite a range of scale between them. OCT Chengdu is on the larger side with a dominant facade facing a key convergence of traffic in the city. The facade plays into that movement with a series of fins that peel upward to reveal the activity of the mall behind, thus activating what is traditionally a hard face. We have been working further to optimize this system. This project is currently under construction and should be complete in a few years. On the other side of scale, we recently began work on an Audubon Center in Zhengzhou. The concept is about tying program and landscape together underneath an observation ring. We have been working with Thornton Tomasetti on realizing the ring as a completely unsupported element over the waterfront with full height curved glazing that reveals the public behind, as if the visitor were a part of the facade experience. The Zhengzhou project will start in construction in a few months and be complete by the middle of next year.

AN: What unique opportunities and challenges are present for architects and designers in Dallas?

MF: Mark Lamster summed it up well in a Dallas Morning News article from April of 2016, "Dallas Architecture is a joke (but it doesn't have to be)."

In my opinion, the potential in Dallas is to be proactive rather than reactive toward challenging and evolving typologies but with that comes a certain degree of investment and risk. We can take lessons from two organizations that I believe have had the most impact upon the city in BC Workshop and Better Block. Both groups have been recognized for their innovative approaches to typologies and community engagement. The Cottages at Hickory Crossing is a noted example on the city’s south side.

An engagement of our value as architects and designers to all parties involved in a project, from developer to community, is key, but change will also depend upon us stepping out and trying something without permission. As Dallas further evolves, there is no better place to test and experiment, but we have yet to really commit to that, beyond few examples. In all, it is really getting back to our fundamentals of why we practice this profession and to search for its meaning once again.

AN: Which ongoing Dallas developments do you perceive to be the most exciting in terms of facade innovation and overall impact on the city?

MF: There have been some noted transformations in Downtown Dallas, from work by Architexas on the Joule Hotel, to Merriman Anderson’s work on the Statler Hilton, all the way to more recent conversions of 400 Record by Gensler. Each of these, among others, have defined in many respects the process of historical rehabilitation in Texas, but also have transformed the program in all cases. Almost overnight, there is a developed rhythm toward respecting the past and redefining the urban realm. The Statler and 1401 Elm represent the largest and most challenging cases of preservation in the city. Statler was many years in the making. Historical innovations during the 1950s proved quite challenging in the rehab of the building. The results of maintaining such a celebrated form and period in the rehab are nothing short of a feat. 1401 Elm is currently undergoing its makeover, with the marble currently off-site for rehab. It has stalled a few times during recent years but hopefully, it will become a major contributor once again.

Both projects are a glimpse into a city that is continually working to value its history more and more by the day. With our first panel, we hope to shed further light on this discussion.

Further information regarding Facades+ Dallas may be found here.
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Lights, Camera, Action

Film Forum’s extensive renovation becomes art in new photo book

The following is excerpted from Film Forum: Under Construction 2018.

The images that you see here were captured on a worksite for the expansion of Film Forum, a place where people gather with a group of strangers to watch a story unfold —something that is increasingly unusual these days. They are a celebration of an ancient ritual married to a modern technology. The technology develops but the ritual decays.

What do these photographs say about watching movies? What do they recall and what do they suggest? How is it that beneath the formal pleasures of their design, their abstraction, and their use of color, they conjure something concrete about shared experience? Like a lot of abstractions, and certainly like many of Jan Staller’s photographs, these pictures are not only about a surface but the materiality below the surface. In this case the materials are the brick and mortar of the theater itself and the steel and brittle celluloid of projectors, reels and filmstrips—objects that look now like sacraments of the earliest technology of the art form. They are evocative because they are tactile. My first exposure to the movies was more sterile and electronic. It took place alone, in a dark room, late at night in front of a television set. In this respect, it was closer to the way that most people watch movies today. As I got older I went to movie theaters, spending hours of my youth in palaces called The Orpheum, The Lyric, and more prosaically (and appropriately), The Suburban World. There was something fundamentally different about going to a theater. The impact of the experience was magnified literally by the scale of its presentation and emotionally by the act of sharing it with a community. And just as importantly, by its appeal to the sensorium, something that most modern technology abjures. The theater was itself a machine, one that you entered, was turned on, and then would grind into action. Its constituent parts were hidden but somehow felt.  That’s part of what these photographs evoke, but for me they also evoke memories of my early days as a film editor, when you felt the film in your hands and heard the clack of the sprockets as it ran through the machines. But before waxing too nostalgic about the older ways of doing things, it may be useful to think about two movies that I saw for the first time at Film Forum. They were both by F. W. Murnau, a German filmmaker who came to Hollywood in 1926. The first, Sunrise, was made in 1927 and is certainly one of the greatest movies of the silent period. It was a huge success, and William Fox, the man who had brought Murnau to America and who was the producer of Sunrise, asked him to do another movie. In his youth, Murnau had been something of a gear head—he was fascinated by cameras and new technology. In the interim between Sunrise and his next film for Fox, The City Girl, sound had been introduced. The new technology was alien to Murnau as an older man. He couldn’t reconcile it with his taste or his process and The City Girl was made and released as a silent film with title cards instead of dialogue. Watching it now one wonders what it would have been like otherwise. A cautionary tale about aging out of your era. The movies are wedded to technology, and for better or worse as the technology advances it changes not only how they’re made, but what we actually see and how we watch them. At a certain point resistance seems quaint and misguided. The opportunities in most cases outweigh the things we lose. The sensual pleasures of pre-digital machines are probably lost forever, but the act of gathering to watch stories, to be part of an audience, would be dangerous to lose. It is ancient and fundamental. So let’s celebrate one of the few institutions that continues to expand that opportunity. These pictures do, and they do something else—they get under the skin.
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X-treme Construction

Extreme architecture: The great lengths (and heights) of high design
Throughout history, many great works of architecture both large and small have been made possible only through incredible feats of engineering and construction. In today’s world—where office and residential towers reach ever-increasing heights, new cities appear in an instant, and stringent safety and structural requirements make building arduous and time-consuming—architects must draw on their experience and know-how to bring innovative new projects to life. Three recent projects by American architecture firms highlight the lengths designers can go (and heights they can achieve) in pursuit of great design. Seattle Space Needle Olson Kundig The Space Needle in Seattle is a superlative building through and through. Built in 1962, the flying saucer-shaped observation tower was recently renovated by Olson Kundig and a daring team of contractors and engineers, including Hoffman Construction, Arup, Fives Lund, and Magnusson Klemencic Associates. To achieve their goal of modernizing the structure, the project team had to work delicately to make sure the weight of added and subtracted materials balanced out, while also ensuring that the majority of the new components could be transported up the needle’s two passenger elevators. Beyond these exacting specifications, crews also dealt with a job site located some 500 feet up in the air as they worked to install new panes of glass around the Space Needle’s flying saucer-shaped Top House. For the project, Hoffman and associated contractors erected a giant covered platform directly underneath the Top House to stage construction activities. The massive structure was lifted into the sky and built out from key hoist points, according to Bob Vincent, project manager at Hoffman. The platform, designed to function more or less like an oil rig deck, was used to stage construction so that workers could access the Space Needle’s Top House from below. The stage created something akin to a massive cocoon around the base of the Top House, and its associated enclosure kept workers protected from the elements. Vincent said, “With the full enclosure, the workers weren’t freezing and materials didn’t fly around too much. It kept wind and elements out, too. When we were done with the project, we dismantled the ring by bringing in all the components from the edges toward the middle.” Embassy in Chad Moore Ruble Yudell Architects A new American embassy campus in N’Djamena, Chad, by Santa Monica, California–based Moore Ruble Yudell (MRY) posed a different set of construction and site limitations. Located in a remote region of the country with a small pool of skilled labor, it fell on the design team to create a state-of-the-art building that could be constructed using locally available materials and building techniques. The approach for the technically complex and decidedly low-tech project was to blend simple finishes and off-the-shelf components with the aim of creating lively but humble buildings. The complex was erected using site-poured concrete walls and modular roof pieces, elements that helped meet the strict security and functional requirements for the embassy. The cementitious walls were then wrapped in exterior rainscreen paneling made up of thin-shell concrete and metal latticework. The lightweight panels, available in standard sizes that could be shipped easily to the site, were chosen to add color and patterning to the pragmatic buildings. In certain areas, including between the main lobby and the cafe, lightweight canopies were strung to create shaded outdoor areas and to collect rainwater. A new, centralized energy plant connected to solar panel arrays was also included in the off-the-grid project. Alexander Residence Mark English Architects While working on extensive renovations to an existing five-story cliffside home in the San Francisco Bay, Mark English Architects (MEA) was only able to deliver construction materials and remove debris via floating barge. With the closest road nearly 200 feet away from the waterfront home and accessible only by steep stairs and a cable car funicular, the design and construction team had to rent several barges to undertake the project. Located on the bayside face of Sausalito, MEA’s Alexander Residence is conceived of as a getaway spot for a client with an extensive art and furniture collection. For the renovation, MEA and GFDS Engineers worked to open up the 1970s-era home by removing some of the unnecessary interior partitions that marked its original pinwheel design. Along the lowest level, for example, facing the house’s private dock, a closed-off bedroom and living area were combined to create a studio apartment. Farther up, a home office, living room, and kitchen were united to form a great room–style arrangement with an elevated dining room, pass-through kitchen, and living area oriented around multimillion-dollar views of downtown San Francisco, Angel Island, and Alcatraz. “We rebuilt the house from inside out,” principal Mark English explained. “Everything we demoed, including the roofing, old doors and windows, and drywall, had to go out through the dock by barge.” The same was true for all of the replacement materials coming in, including new lengths of structural steel that were added for seismic resiliency and to transfer loads over some of the new window openings. For these elements, the contractors added a crane to the barge that was then used to lift the steel beams into place. English added, “We talked to two or three builders before settling on Landmark Builders. The others would inevitably bring up how difficult and expensive it would be to do this project. Luckily, we eventually found someone who thought it would be interesting to take on this out-of-the-ordinary project.”
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OAUF

Akoaki designs a new future for Detroit’s Oakland Avenue Urban Farm
Detroit Cultivator, a six-acre urban plan developed between design firm Akoaki and the Oakland Avenue Urban Farm (OAUF), uses architecture and community organizing to help formalize a legacy urban farm in Detroit’s North End neighborhood.  The OAUF started with a single plot back in 2000, but over time has grown to encompass over 30 lots and 8 structures. Today, the farm administers mentorship programs, hosts classes, and offers community and art spaces alongside its agricultural activities. As Detroit has recovered from financial calamity following the Great Recession, development interests have taken to surrounding areas, threatening the farm’s future. That’s where Detroit-based Akoaki saw an opportunity to apply its design expertise and institutional connections in innovative ways. The firm is helmed by Anya Sirota, associate professor of architecture at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, and her partner, designer Jean Louis Farges. Together with neighborhood residents, several university-based teams, and outside “impact investors” like The Kresge Foundation and ArtPlace America, Akoaki has helped design a way to ensure that the farm can become a permanent neighborhood fixture by setting out a long-term growth plan and designing site-based interventions that will promote economic and environmental sustainability. Sirota said, “As architects, we became interested in the challenge of what architecture could do systemically to create a more sustainable operating system for the farm.” The designers sought to discover how the farm could become an “autonomous cultural actor in a complicated urban scenario” that included unclear land ownership, development pressures from land speculators, and water access issues, among other concerns. Because some the farm’s components were located on blighted plots of land that the farm did not own outright, the first step for the project was to secure a path toward formalizing land ownership over these parcels to ensure that developers could not wipe away the farm’s gains. The designers worked with the University of Michigan Law School and a team of “moral investors” to flip the script on land speculators by studying and imitating the tactics they use to exploit Detroit’s land bank. The plan secured land ownership for little-to-no cost via a community land trust ownership model that will keep the land out of the hands of speculators. Once the existential issue of land ownership had been laid to rest, the team worked with volunteers from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business to craft a business plan for the farm. The plan focuses the team’s efforts on two complementary goals: First, by prioritizing the farm’s productivity to create a stable source of income to fund operations and second, by designing the farm’s individual components to create a flexible one-stop-shop for nascent neighborhood entrepreneurs. As a result, the farm is peppered with existing structures that will each eventually become activated as public amenities: A vacant big-box grocery store will be converted into a community gathering space containing a commercial kitchen with the help of a for-profit social venture, Fellow Citizen; an existing shoe shine parlor and former speakeasy will reopen as a multi-tenant commercial space and performance venue; several of the existing homes on the property will eventually house an herbarium, studio, and a design-focused library. New elements created for the site will include a commercial market hall as well as water-harvesting and power stations.  In creating their plan, the designers realized that they could not keep the farm purely agricultural, and they instead sought to formalize other existing uses through building and site interventions. The design embraces both the “urban” and “farming” aspects of OAUF, which, according to the architects, is what the community wants and needs most.  The project, according to Sirota, represents an “attempt to marry form-making with productive landscapes,” to sustain the social and economic impact of land that was once considered marginal in value.  Next, the designers are working on developing and prototyping water harvesting, solar generation, and insulation techniques to help feed into the long-term sustainability plan for the farm while fundraising efforts get underway. 
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Big Art

Monograph about Robert Murray reveals his love of structure and form
Robert Murray: Sculpture Jonathan D. Lippincott Design Books $65.00 List Price Some sculptors have to think like architects. They need to consider the actual weight of a work and whether it might wind up crashing through a floor or compromising a foundation. There are the issues of balance and whether something weighing a few tons and defined by curves and cantilevers will remain in place on its own or roll off its plinth. There are also the concerns about the best angles from which to view a finished sculpture and how it will age, especially if positioned outdoors. And once it is erected and set in place, what about the resulting shadows or reflective light? As Jonathan Lippincott, the noted book designer and independent art curator, reveals in his new book, Robert Murray: Sculpture (Design Books), the first such monograph to chronicle the artist’s oeuvre, Murray learned about weight and scale through practice. When Murray first began making some of his large-scale works in his apartment on East 22nd Street in Manhattan in the early 1960s, they were so heavy and tall that they compromised the very structure of the building. Of one such early work, Ceres, a seven-foot-high plaster sculpture, Murray said: “I had it right in the middle of the room, and I put supports out from underneath the bottom lip of it to try to distribute the weight, but it didn’t quite work. One day there was a pounding on the door and a very nice couple from downstairs demanded to see what I was up to, and I guess my floor sagged so badly that their ceiling cracked and plaster was raining down in their living room.” The comment from Murray is one of many in Lippincott’s book that reveals the artist’s sense of humor, a characteristic much welcomed in an otherwise scholarly art book. Lippincott has obviously been careful to reveal—and revel in —Murray’s playfulness. As a result, this may be among the most refreshing and entertaining books to read about any sculptor, living or not. Lippincott’s book also manages to right an aesthetic wrong. While fantastically prolific and influential, Murray doesn’t seem to have won quite the same name recognition of some his contemporaries, like David Smith, Tony Rosenthal, Louise Nevelson, and Barnett Newman. Lippincott’s book will surely reintroduce and re-establish the still-active Murray as one of the very best practitioners of contemporary sculpture. And the book’s examples of Murray’s candor and wit will only heighten the artist’s appeal. As Murray recounts about his early days as a young artist from Saskatoon suddenly immersed in the New York art world: “I always joke that it’s lucky my liver was as young as it was when I got to New York or I would have been dead a long time ago.” Although Lippincott’s monograph is visually-driven, it includes an engaging, lengthy biographical text about Murray, as well as a candid, chatty question and answer between the author and his subject. The two appear to have forged an affectionate rapport. We learn about Murray’s Canadian boyhood, his inspirations for the monumental works of art, and the process of making those sculptures (some sixty of which were made at Lippincott, Inc., the Connecticut-based fabricator of monumental works of sculpture, founded by the author’s father). But what resonates throughout the book is Murray’s collaborations with and respect for architects. There was a time not so long ago when art and architecture were more closely aligned. Lippincott describes, for instance, the Percent for Art program that flourished in the U.S. and Canada in the mid-1960s, whereby, according to the author, “one percent of the budget for any new building would be dedicated to purchasing artwork…an unprecedented amount of funding to purchase and commission artwork for government buildings and public spaces.” Murray’s large-scale abstract (some would say minimalist) sculptures were coveted by architects of the time. I.M. Pei, for instance, commissioned Murray for a massive work (Shawanaga) to occupy the plaza of Pei’s Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse. For a 1968 group show of sculptures at the then-new Boston City Hall, a Brutalist edifice designed by Kallmann, McKinnell, and Knowles, Murray was invited to include what is now one of his iconic works, Windhover. “The only bad part of it all was the new city hall, which wasn’t a very attractive backdrop,” he told Lippincott. “But it was a nice plaza, a good space, and that show got a lot of attention.” Murray’s relationship with architects and architecture began early. In 1958, at the very start of his career, he received a commission from a local Saskatoon architect to fashion murals composed of mosaic tiles for a new government building. Barnett Newman collaborated with Murray to create an imagined, or conceptual, synagogue that Newman described as being “organized like a baseball diamond, the rabbi on the pitcher’s mound, the men in the dugouts, and the women in the bleachers.” Murray designed two models for the project, one of which was exhibited at a show at the Jewish Museum in 1963 organized by Richard Meier. And in his native country, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada awarded him their Allied Arts Medal in 1977. As Lippincott emphasizes, “The award recognizes artists or designers in Canada who create work intended to be integrated with architecture, and Murray was one of the first artists to receive this award for contemporary sculpture.” Both Lippincott and Murray are adept at describing the architectural aspects of the sculptures. Of Murray’s Breaker (1965), Lippincott lovingly relates the structural issues in such a way that the piece can almost be envisioned without seeing it: “[Breaker] consists of two arcs that are almost identical; one extends beyond the other, providing a point of contact with the floor, adding stability to the work and extending its energy.” Because of this book, Murray reputation as a great sculptor will endure. That reputation rests particularly on his public artworks, many of which are positioned with notable works of architecture. But as Murray said to Lippincott, “Until the public starts making it, it’s not public art, it’s private art put out into public situations.” With Lippincott’s fine book, we now have the definitive visual and chronological map for finding Murray’s works and enjoying them in public settings. Murray can be experienced in person on April 7 at the David Richard Gallery, 211 East 121st Street, New York. The gallery will present a solo exhibition of Murray’s large sculptures and two-dimensional artworks, with an opening reception on April 7 at which both Murray and Lippincott will be present. The show runs through May 5.
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Inclusive Recovery

Five years after Detroit’s bankruptcy, design fuels recovery
Could Detroit be pioneering a new type of gentrification? It is possible. The recovery—with its innovative experiments in revitalization—is set to become a laboratory of ideas that will redefine gentrification, learning from the urban renaissance of the last 20 years in other cities. The Detroit of the late aughts was a desolate place: The municipal government had all but crumbled in the wake of a depopulation that saw the city go from over 2 million residents to around 700,000. With the loss of people and jobs came the loss of density and infrastructure, which left Detroit the poster child for apocalyptic Rust Belt landscapes. During this period of the late 2000s to the early 2010s, steep real estate discounts allowed artists and entrepreneurs to buy houses and commercial buildings extremely cheap. This legendary scenario led The New York Times to publish an article titled "Last Stop on the L Train: Detroit,” in 2015.  And it certainly feels that way, with vibrant music, arts, food, and design scenes in the city that seem to be linked together by a small community of like-minded people working on a host of cultural projects together. However, much of the buzz about Detroit in the national media has died down. How is Detroit doing five years after becoming the largest city ever to go through a structured bankruptcy, and how is design helping to speculate on new future urbanisms? Today’s Detroit is a different place than five years ago. The days of $500 houses bought at auction and dark, empty landscapes are becoming a thing of the past. Developers and speculators have bought up much of the land around the city center, with Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock Ventures owning almost 95 percent of the downtown area. This area could now pass for a street in downtown Chicago, with high-end boutiques and chains like Warby Parker and lululemon. In other neighborhoods, such as the more industrial Milwaukee Junction, near the Russell Industrial Center—an icon of gritty urban reuse—land and property have been claimed by those waiting to sell or develop it. Other neighborhoods like Corktown and Midtown have seen a resurgence in development, an increase in market-rate housing, and more traditional forms of urban revitalization. Infamously abandoned sites have been bought for eventual redevelopment or reuse. Most strikingly, a Ford-branded security Ford Escape is parked outside the Ford-emblazoned fence at Detroit Central Train Station, a ruin-porn poster child now slated for redevelopment as the auto giant’s “innovation” hub, focusing on autonomous vehicles. Now the challenge will be to deliver on some of the potential that has been so evident over the last decade. Detroit’s municipal government has long been seen as incapable of addressing the city’s problems, such as abandoned buildings, vacant lots, lack of infrastructure, and general disinvestment. Since declaring bankruptcy in 2013, the city has implemented a series of initiatives that have in many ways stabilized it. These include basic things like improving emergency services and transportation. Perhaps most important, new LED streetlights were installed, ending the days when residents carried flashlights in their cars. Perhaps the most dramatic change in Detroit’s governance has been in the city planning department. Architect and former Charlottesville mayor Maurice Cox has been tasked with overseeing the recovery. His first step? Hiring a diverse, interdisciplinary team of 36 planners, architects, urban designers, and landscape designers to rethink how a city can incentivize investment, rebuild infrastructure, redensify targeted neighborhoods, and provide services to new residents while preventing displacement of existing residents and cultures that have endured the city’s darker times. Cox calls it “inclusive recovery.” This comprises measures that harness one of the unique things about Detroit—a high level of community engagement. As a majority African-American city, it is an especially promising place to pioneer these ideas. At a recent event at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), the artist Tyree Guyton sat down for a talk at the closing for a show about his Heidelberg Project, a self-started community art project he has developed since 1986. Rather than a typical artist’s talk, the event was more like a community town hall, where residents of the nearby neighborhood spoke in detail about how they see the neighborhood changing, and how the evolution could be better. This kind of community-led development will be key to making sure that Detroit can innovate without displacing people or local cultures. The most important priority of the plan is to recover while preserving both local neighborhood culture and affordable housing. Cox’s initiatives include framework plans for targeted neighborhoods that have strong residential numbers and some active housing stock. The planning department identified weak spots surrounded by higher-density areas that could be tied together with coordinated investment, resulting in—thus far—six quarter-mile-by-quarter-mile areas where recovery could be easiest. The proposed Joe Louis Greenway will be a 31.5-mile bike-pedestrian loop that passes mostly through neighborhoods with a median income under $27,500 a year and a 70 percent rate of car access. The greenway will incorporate existing routes, such as the Dequindre Cut, a below-grade rail-line-turned-pedestrian-promenade that is being used as a gentrification vehicle to spur development of a mix of affordable housing embedded in market-rate developments. Development group The Platform will be developing a housing complex at the north end of the cut. This could lead to displacement, but because the city owns so much land along the path, it will experiment with ways to provide affordable housing and transportation without driving people out. Local housing research includes a joint venture between the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning and the City of Detroit. In studios led by Lars Gräbner and Christina Hansen, students generate ideas about what housing might look like in Detroit, some of which are displayed in exhibitions such as 2017’s A City For All: Future Housing Models for the City of Detroit. These studios also helped produce a series of design guidelines. For example, one line reads: “Impress the value of design on all projects and all audiences—emphasizing equity, design excellence, and inclusion.” As design thinking ramps up, so too will design excellence. Detroit has a long legacy of designers and architects who have called Michigan home, such as Eliel and Eero Saarinen and Albert Kahn. But in recent years, there have been fewer high-quality projects. This is changing, however, with firms such as Lorcan O’Herlihy, SCAPE, Walter Hood, Adjaye Associates, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, and others signing up to design housing, parks, and urban farms. O’Herlihy, for instance, is working on a housing study for Brush Park, the first of Cox’s targeted neighborhoods just outside downtown, designing a 24-building, 410-unit densification plan. And design is baked into the new planning department goals and regulations. What could be design’s biggest impact is the preservation of existing cultures, which includes the existing building culture, one of the goals for “inclusive recovery.” To prevent the loss of the visual character of the neighborhoods, incentives such as a double density allowance are offered for projects that preserve the existing shell of a building. Layering history in this way will inevitably lead to interesting new adaptive reuses. These building refills are a good metaphor for the new type of gentrification being pioneered here: They redensify the abandoned fabric with useful infill, but do not take away the texture that makes Detroit unique. As part of VolumeOne, Gräbner and Hansen’s private practice, the pair is working on a redevelopment of the historic Stone Soap Building, an historic 1907 factory. The structural concrete frame and brick infill will be preserved, and a minimal, floating addition will be clad in a galvanized metal panel system. The strong visual contrast between old and new will articulate a strategy of respect for the existing structure while implying continuity through the use of industrial materials. Imagining new uses for vacant land will also play a big part in making the future of Detroit, and nature is integral to the next image of the city. There are about 24 square miles of vacant land that are very costly to maintain. In collaboration with developers and designers, the city is programming many experiments in urban agriculture and self-reliant landscapes. The ad-hoc, community-initiated urban farming pioneered by projects such as Oakland Avenue Urban Farm has become a staple of Detroit urbanism and is becoming part of larger, city-led projects as well. Walter Hood Studio’s Rosa Parks Neighborhood Master Plan does not propose any new buildings but rather infills vacant lots with tree nursery gardens that will provide jobs and act as productive landscapes. In the Fitzgerald neighborhood, local developers Fitz Forward have set out to improve 100 vacant houses and 200 vacant lots. The strategy included some 28 community meetings and 50 neighborhood meetings that resulted in creating a park—a connective tissue—for the neighborhood, as well as flowering meadows in vacant lots. Cox sees it as a success in testing the idea of using design to create a place and restore beauty and community. Detroit is not without its issues, of course, but the future looks bright for the city. Its unique problems, such as the over-the-top reliance on the car built into the city’s planning, and its sprawling, vacant lots, could become assets when coupled with its strengths: relatively cheap land, strong communities, diverse leadership, and many cultural artifacts that have survived the dark times. Five years after bankruptcy, it is an exciting time in Detroit, and there is reason to believe it will provoke a new kind of urban revitalization: one in harmony with nature and existing cultures, informed by the urban progress made over the last few decades.
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Flex or Combust

C.F. Møller’s mass-timber vision for Robin Hood Gardens stifled by ban on combustible cladding
C.F. Møller has designed a swath of social housing for an upcoming development called Blackwall Reach atop east London’s famous Robin Hood Gardens, a demolished series of brutalist blocks designed in the 1960s by renowned British architects, Alison and Peter Smithson. Initial plans released in 2017 indicated that the Danish firm would create a 330-unit complex featuring cross-laminated timber (CLT), a resourceful construction method that’s been gaining wide acceptance in the United Kingdom. But a recent government ban on combustible cladding materials has put plans for the engineered product in jeopardy, reported Architects' Journal. The new legislation, which was enacted late last December, was introduced after the Grenfell Tower fire of June 2017 in which one of West London’s tallest residential towers burned down, claiming 72 lives. After a pressure-filled campaign from Grenfell United, a group of survivors and victims’ families, the U.K.’s Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government introduced a new building safety code last summer that would prohibit the use of cladding materials holding a European fire rating of less than A1 or A2. Per the ruling, architects and developers cannot use such products in the external wall construction of schools, high-rise homes, hospitals, and care facilities, reported AJ. The ruling also calls for local municipalities to begin removing unsafe aluminum composite material (ACM) cladding on existing structures taller than 18 meters (about six stories). Though CLT is not an ACM and has been proven to perform well under fire load, it contains wood and is being cited as hazardous to lawmakers. CF Møller’s affordable housing design for Blackwall Reach is phase 3 of a larger, controversial regeneration plan of Robin Hood Gardens, which the London-based practice Metropolitan Workshop is overseeing. Phase 1b and Phase 2 includes the build-out of 268 homes across four buildings designed by Haworth Tompkins and Metropolitan Workshop. These structures, currently under construction, are slated for completion this year and in 2021. Phase 3 construction is expected to start following the move-in of residents to the new buildings. Overall, the 20-acre Blackwall Reach project is set to replace 250 high-rise homes within the area with a total of 1,575 new units. Swan Housing Association, a community development and management organization, is developing the site alongside the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and the Greater London Authority. While this is only one project suffering a design setback thanks to the new ban on combustible cladding materials, it signals what could become a major issue with the use of CLT products on future tall buildings in the U.K. and across Europe. Already a world leader in mass timber manufacturing and construction, it’s unclear how the U.K. will now move forward in creating large-scale projects using the material. The ban has recently received major criticism from industry leaders like the Timber Trade Federation and architects who worry about the environmental cost of restricting timber in large construction. The Royal British Institute of Architects came out in support of the ban in November but recommends it only apply to specific cladding applications.
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Oops

Trump declares national emergency to force border wall construction
After a record 35-day-long government shutdown over funding for a southern border wall was put on hold for lawmakers to hash out a continued spending bill, it now appears that the Trump administration will declare a national emergency to appropriate funds for the wall. The president is in Washington, D.C., to sign a massive $328 billion bipartisan spending bill that would have only allocated $1.4 billion for the construction of 55 miles of fencing, well short of the $5.7 billion he had previously demanded. As the New York Times and other sources are reporting, the president is expected to sign the bill as well as declare a national emergency. The government was set to shut down again on February 15 if no compromise over the issue had been reached by then. On the Senate floor today, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Trump "is prepared to sign the bill" and that "he will also be issuing a national emergency declaration at the same time." Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed Senator McConnell's comments, and added that the president would also take unspecified "other executive action."  The president had been threatening to fund the border wall through alternative means for months, but any plan to do so could face a legal challenge from Democratic lawmakers and nonprofit groups, as well as the possibility that the Senate would rescind the declaration via a two-thirds majority vote. A national emergency would allow the Trump administration to pull funds from other accounts, such as disaster relief spending (including reconstruction money designated for Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria), and the military budget. Update: On February 15, president Trump officially declared a national emergency and will direct $8 billion towards the construction and repair of 234 miles of wall along the U.S.'s southern border. That figure includes the previously allocated $1.375 billion, as well as $3.6 billion diverted from military projects, $2.5 billion from the Pentagon's drug prevention program, and $600 million claimed from the drug forfeiture program.