Search results for "Rafael Viñoly"

Placeholder Alt Text

Dead Mall Showdown

Judge sides with developer in contentious Cupertino redevelopment battle
After a delay of more than a month due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Helen Williams issued a ruling last week in a hot-button case that has divided residents of the Northern California city of Cupertino, pitting pro-development YIMBY-ists against grassroots local activists attempting to halt work on a massive redevelopment project in their backyard. In her ruling, Williams sided against the activists and with the city, which had green-lit developer Sand Hill Property Company to move forward with the redevelopment of the old Vallco Shopping Mall site in 2018. The 58-acre parcel, home to a once-bustling regional shopping center built in 1975 that now currently exists as a dead-as-a-doornail mall in the shadow of Apple’s intergalactic corporate campus, is slated to be the future home of the so-called Vallco Town Center (formerly the Hills at Vallco). The mixed-use enclave, designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects with the Philadelphia-based OLIN serving as landscape architects, is set to include 2,400 residential units, nearly 2 million square feet of commercial office space, and 400,000 square feet set aside for retail and entertainment. Early iterations of the project, unveiled a year after Sand Hill acquired the (then) mostly pulse-less mall in 2014, envisioned blanketing remnants of the old shopping center with what was described as the world’s largest green roof, which would have doubled as an undulating city park. The initial design has subsequently changed, although “an unprecedented rooftop community park with accessible walking and jogging trails” remains a key part of the master plan. As reported by the Mercury News, Cupertino residents opposing the project, concerned about the development’s scope and the detrimental impact it could have on the community with regard to traffic and other aspects, believed the project should not have been fast-tracked by the city under California Senate Bill 35, which streamlines certain qualifying housing developments in the housing-strapped state. Residents banded together as Friends of Better Cupertino and argued that various components of the redevelopment should have prevented it from moving forward as an SB-35 project. Judge Williams, however, dismissed those arguments in her 62-page ruling. Per the Mercury News, that decision, which states that Friends of Better Cupertino “multiple times misinterpreted the law and made convoluted arguments” in their case, came as a “major blow” to community members rallying against the plus-sized project. Among the reasons Friends of Better Cupertino claimed that Vallco Town Center should have not received special status as an SB-35 project: the development included too little housing, violated city height limits, and would be located on a “hazardous waste site.” All of these arguments were taken apart and disregarded by Williams. The group’s argument that Vallco Town Center does not include a proper park because it happens to largely be on a rooftop was also dismantled by Williams, who wrote: “Petitioners also use emphatic typography to make a circular argument that Developer’s proposed public spaces are not parkland because they are not parkland.” Although demolition is well underway at the site, Williams could have ultimately halted it if she had sided with Friends of Better Cupertino. In addition to finding that the development fell snugly within the scope of requirements put forth by SB-35, Williams noted that even if it hadn’t, state law would have not mandated that Cupertino, or any other city, deny such projects from proceeding. It’s unclear if the group plans to appeal the ruling. In a statement shared by the San Jose Spotlight, Sand Hill expressed enthusiasm with moving forward despite the legal challenges and community uproar the project has faced over the past several years. “We can now put our full focus on moving the project forward for the future of the city of Cupertino, including how best to do so considering the complex challenges that COVID-19 has brought on all of us,” said Reed Moulds, managing director for Sand Hil. “It is time to set aside our past disagreements and come together in cooperation of building a better and more sustainable future for Cupertino.” Speaking to the Mercury News, J.R. Fruen, a pro-growth advocate with the group Cupertino For All, referred to the ruling, one of the first major legal challenges regarding SB-35, as a “gigantic win for housing advocates specifically, and a huge win for proponents of development in general.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Bringing Up The House

Rafael Viñoly-designed courthouse will remake Jersey City’s Journal Square
Renderings of the new Hudson County courthouse in Jersey City have been revealed, showing a truss stacked on bands of glass for the new Frank J. Guarini Justice Complex, set to be completed in 2023 at 595 Newark Street. With construction currently estimated at $345 million, the project is “one of the largest-ever publically-funded projects in New Jersey,” according to New York Yimby. Designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects, who completed the Bronx County Hall of Justice in 2006, the building is the picture of structural expressionism with extra-large concrete columns and glazing set behind metal cross bracing. The building resembles a two-story box truss stretched over an open atrium. The 400,000-square-foot project includes 24 courtrooms, hearing and mediation rooms, jury assembly spaces, offices, a 75-seat food court, a self-help law library, and a new facility for the sheriff’s department. A 459-space parking garage, wrapped in a metal facade, turns the corner onto Central Avenue. The Hudson County Courthouse (HCC) website states that “the courthouse was designed to facilitate use by the public and to ensure the security of all visitors,” positioning the public amenities and high-traffic courtrooms on the ground level and the Criminal Court and Family Court on the second and third levels, respectively. The top two floors of the building will house the administrative offices. Land clearance for the 5-story, LEED Silver building began in 2018 but will continue with the 1953 Hudson County Administration building. The Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA) will demolish the existing building on the site, which was deemed in need of complete renovation to reach modern acceptability in a 1993 study, according to an article on nj.com. Described by Assignment Judge Peter Bariso Jr. on the HCC website as “essentially kept alive with Band-Aids,” the administration building would require a substantial financial investment to fix its security, electrical, and asbestos issues. The Frank J. Guarini Justice Complex will require road reconfigurations, eliminating Cook Street and reconnecting Central Avenue between Hoboken and Newark Avenues to improve traffic flow to and around the project. Oakland Avenue will be widened from a one-way to a two-way street. The Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders awarded a $2.6 million road construction contract to Garfield-based Zuccaro Incorporated in February, as reported by Jersey Digs. The 2020-2021 phase of the project will also include a partial renovation of the neighboring historic William J. Brennan Courthouse, which will continue to hold court throughout the construction. The HCIA issued a statement in November 2019, stating that the project’s amenities are consistent with Jersey City’s 2060 Redevelopment Plan to improve the neighborhood. These plans include a 3-acre public park in Journal Square but are not scheduled until 2024. The project's groundbreaking is set for the summer of 2020.
Placeholder Alt Text

Into the Void

Snøhetta's Upper West Side luxury tower approved despite large mechanical void
Yesterday, the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) approved Extell Development’s contentious residential tower on the Upper West Side, according to Gothamist. After years of back and forth over the height, the Snøhetta-designed 50 West 66th Street is set to rise at 776 feet tall—the tallest building in the neighborhood—and will keep its significant mechanical void space at the core of the tower's chiseled frame. The project was under threat as recently as last month, when preservation organization Landmarks West claimed that Extell was inflating the building’s height with its 192-foot-tall mechanical void in order to charge a higher premium for top-level units. As AN has previously reported, the Billionaire’s Row developer has pulled this move before, side-stepping zoning regulations throughout the city and ignoring caps on maximum floor areas.  Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said the appeal's loss, which occurred in a 2-2 vote tie since one of the BSA members abstained from the process, was major and signals a problem for future similar developments. Opponents have been worried that real estate giants like Extell could use this as a precedent to design large voids in other tower projects in order to boost their overall size. A similar claim was levied against the Rafael Viñoly Architects-designed 249 East 62nd Street when it was first revealed.  Back in early 2019, Extell almost lost the project entirely when it was forced to rethink the tower’s 700-plus-foot height (it was originally pitched at 262 feet). Brewer said construction permits would be revoked, despite approval by the Department of Buildings if Extell failed to change the arrangement and height of its mechanical spaces. The outcry, from both public officials and local residents of the Upper West Side, resulted in a study by the Department of City Planning that detailed how, in New York City, mechanical floors had been excluded from the zoning floor area calculation. In late May, the New York City Council voted to prevent developers from further exploiting this loophole by limiting the height of mechanical voids to 25 feet.  Because 50 West 66th Street was passed before the amendment was made to the zoning law, Gothamist noted the luxury tower will now hold a mechanical void space that totals 176 feet in height—a 16-foot reduction to appease Brewer’s request, but it will now be split into three sections: two 64-foot-tall mechanical areas and a 48-foot-tall void.  Sean Khorsandi, executive director of Landmarks West, told Gothamist that the appeal rejection wasn't as shocking as the way the vote played out. “I think it’s ridiculous that even in the case of a tie, the community loses.” Critics of the project now have the opportunity to file a court appeal as a last-ditch effort to stop it from moving forward. AN has reached out to Snøhetta for comment.
Placeholder Alt Text

Major Mettle

Shortlist announced for the National Medal of Honor Museum
The Medal of Honor is the highest military honor a U.S. citizen can receive, and the organization that supports it, the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, sent out a call for submissions last year for the creation of a museum that would highlight the award's values. The foundation outlined a vision for a museum to put the achievements of the medal's 3,500 recipients and history and values as they’ve stood since the Civil War in the foreground. Arlington, Texas, was selected in August as a fitting setting for the new National Medal of Honor Museum, and on October 16, the foundation announced a shortlist of four high-profile teams comprised of both architects and landscape architects with distinct visions for the project. The list includes: Davis Brody Bond, LLP and Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (Landscape Architect) Ennead Architects, LLP and Hargreaves Jones (Landscape Architect) Fentress Architects, Ltd. and Civitas, Inc. (Landscape Architect) Rafael Viñoly Architects and MPFP (Landscape Architect) The master plan calls for not just a new building to be placed on the site but extensive landscaping as well, with the intent creating a unique surrounding context for the space. The museum will be a part of a larger Entertainment District plan for the city of Arlington, which will include other urban attractions like retail and sport stadiums, so the museum grounds will need to be tailored specifically to the history of the award: Situated to serve the needs of urban visitors, while also creating a unique sense of place.  All of the shortlisted teams have extensive experience designing large-scale public works as well as museum commissions, from the Denver International Airport to the September 11th Memorial and Museum in New York.  "Working with the City of Arlington and these world-class architects," said Joe Daniels, the foundation’s president and CEO, "we are confident that we are on our way to creating a truly iconic museum that reflects well upon the recipients of the Medal of Honor and all those who have given of themselves for our nation." The winning design team is expected to be announced in January 2020. 
Placeholder Alt Text

Taking Titles and Stealing Views

Central Park Tower tops out to become the world's tallest residential building
The 1,550-foot-tall Central Park Tower is officially the tallest residential building in the world. After topping out earlier this week, the Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture-designed structure now stands nearly complete at 217 West 57th Street, higher than any of its neighbors on Manhattan's Billionaire’s Row.  It’s the second project on that strip of premiere Midtown Manhattan real estate from Extell Development Company, the minds behind Christian de Portzamparc’s One57. The latter project became the first supertall condominium on the street in 2016. Since the original unveiling of that design in 2005, over eight similar projects have popped up and are now either finished or under construction along or near West 57th Street. As the latest to top out, Central Park Tower has broken the height record set by Rafael Viñoly’s 432 Park Avenue, with 131 floors. Though largely residential and boasting 179 luxury condos, Central Park Tower—with its glass-clad facade and stainless-steel, pinstripe-like fins—will feature a seven-story Nordstrom flagship store at its base and three floors of amenities for apartment owners. Spanning a total of 50,000 square feet, these areas include an outdoor terrace with a pool, a wellness center with an indoor pool, and a ballroom and cigar bar on the 100th floor (without a pool, sorry).  At 300 feet above the street, the tower cantilevers slightly to the east and then nearly all the way up to the top floor, allowing views of Central Park from the north-facing apartments. Looking up from the park below, the building has the appearance of a series of extremely thin, elongated towers stacked closely to one another. That design move was intentional to maximize those (multi)million-dollar views. Together, the sections created a textured look that gleams during the daylight in different ways. Despite its fancy features, the supertall project might suffer a similar sales fate like the other towers on Billionaire's Row. It’s been widely reported that 40 percent of the seven buildings in the area are unsold simply because they are too expensive and the Midtown market isn't as favored as some Lower Manhattan or even Brooklyn developments. There's one sign, though, that this could be changing: 220 Central Park South by Robert A.M. Stern recently passed $1 billion in sales according to 6sqft, largely thanks to the close on its $238 million penthouse by hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin. Until Central park Tower hits its expected sellout of over $4 billion, 220 Central Park South will remain the most expensive residential building in the United States.  In an interview with Justin Davidson published this week in New York Magazine, Gordon Gill said that, apart from being another competitive project on Billionaire's Row, Stern’s building posed another challenge for the architects from the beginning. It sits directly in front of Central Park Tower and boasts closer views of the sprawling landscape below. 
“It’s like being at the theater; if everyone’s in rows trying to see the stage, nobody can see anything at all,” said Gill. “The solution is to stagger the seats. When we moved the tower off-center to get better retail spaces, we discovered an opportunity to capture incredible direct and oblique views. That’s why the building is stepped and staggered in every direction — north, south, east, and west — walking all the way up to 1,550 feet. If you look at this building from a distance, it has a strong ethos and a sense of stability. On the other hand, there’s a lot of movement. The trick was managing all that activity without getting overly effusive.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Dream Designs

Want to own a house designed by a renowned architect? Here are seven options currently on the market

While summer may be drawing to a close, daydreaming about beautiful houses has no season. For those who are particularly discriminating about architecture, and who happen to be in the market for a multi-million-dollar listing, there are plenty of options to run through. AN has rounded up seven houses designed by nationally and internationally renowned architects that are for sale right now. Do some window shopping below:

Marcel Breuer’s Gargarin House I Litchfield, CT

Between 1956 and 1957, the celebrated Bauhaus architect Marcel Breuer, whose masterpieces include New York’s Met Breuer museum (formerly the Whitney), designed a stunning home for Andrew and Jamie Gargarin in Litchfield, Connecticut. Sitting on 1.7 acres of gently sloping land, the low-slung house was constructed with steel, reinforced concrete, stone, and glass. Its styling is decidedly modern both inside and out, with materials and vistas that are sure to please any buyer with money to spare.

Perhaps the most unique feature in the Gargarin House I is the bush-hammered concrete fireplace. Its irregular form rises in the middle of the glass-walled living room, providing the home with one of its only architectural elements that is not strictly rectilinear. The fireplace and the storied house it occupies can be yours for $3.8 million.

Arthur Cogswell, Jr.’s Durham dream house Durham, NC

As the only house on this list priced under one million dollars (and still by only $50,000), Arthur Cogswell, Jr.’s midcentury modern design in Durham, North Carolina offers a comparatively affordable option for those looking to own property crafted by a notable architect. Cogswell is best known as a residential architect with modernist proclivities. Most of his projects have been completed for private clients in North Carolina.

This particular home is 3,259 square feet with four bedrooms and three full bathrooms. Because it has only had one owner since its initial construction, the house is remarkably well preserved. Images show that many of the rooms have maintained their original wood cabinetry, while the back deck is still covered by a geometric pergola. The room that has changed most significantly is the kitchen, which underwent a complete renovation to meet twenty-first-century standards of living. Built in 1966, the home sits on 2.33 acres and is listed for $950,000.

Steven Holl-designed Catskills getaway Middleburgh, NY

Nestled in a heavily wooded area in New York’s Catskills region, Steven Holl’s bright red “Y House” has hit the market for $1.6 million. The two main sections of the house (there is also a detached garage and a boathouse) branch off from one another to form the shape of the letter “Y”. They both terminate in outdoor spaces—balconies on the second floor and small patios on the ground floor. The roofline of the structure slopes upward toward this point, creating a volume that appears to open up to the mountain views.

Constructed in 1999, the house takes full advantage of its surroundings. From the interior, irregularly shaped windows frame the landscape in unexpected ways, while communal spaces benefit from larger, floor-to-ceiling glass. The 33-acre site also has a minimalist, glass-walled boathouse perched at the edge of a serene pond.

Richard Neutra’s midcentury masterpiece Weston, CT

In the quiet town of Weston, Connecticut, Betty Corwin is selling a house designed for her and her husband by Richard Neutra in 1955. Situated on a 4.3-acre lot above the Saugatuck River, the five-bedroom Corwin House is surrounded by mature trees and lush landscaping. With many of its original finishes still intact, including the yellow kitchen cabinetry and plenty of built-ins, the home is a particularly well-preserved example of midcentury modern residential architecture. Corwin, now in her 90’s, has made only a few changes to the kitchen appliances and bathrooms.

Perhaps best known for his extensive portfolio of house projects in California, Neutra built a number of modern residential structures throughout the mid-twentieth century. Listed at $2.7 million, the Corwin House is one of the architect’s two remaining homes in the state of Connecticut, presenting East Coast buyers with a rare chance to purchase a piece of his legacy.

Wine country stunner by Michael Palladino of Richard Meier Partners Santa Ynez, CA

Designed by Michael Palladino of Richard Meier Partners, this six-bedroom, eight-bathroom house sits in the Santa Ynez Valley northwest of Santa Barbara, California. Buyers of Son Sereno will have no shortage of space, inside or out. The home itself boasts 8,000 square feet of living space, while the 116-acre lot includes an olive grove and several riding trails. The scenery surrounding the contemporary structure is characteristic of this region of California—mature oak and sycamore trees dot a landscape of rolling green hills and vineyards.

Built in 2005, the building uses a combination of stucco and stone walls to support a high, curvilinear ceiling over the main living space. There is a wealth of amenities, including an attached three-car garage, two fireplaces, and panoramic views of the valley. The asking price is currently set at $7,900,000.

Paul Rudolph’s Milam Residence Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

As AN reported earlier this summer, Paul Rudolph’s beachside Milam Residence outside Jacksonville, Florida hit the market for $4,445,000. With a distinctive geometric facade that lends visual depth to the building, the Milam Residence presents potential buyers with the opportunity to own something that stands out in the coastal neighborhood, where most residential architecture prescribes to a more Mediterranean aesthetic. With 6,800 square feet of living space spread between the main building and a separate guest house, there is no shortage of space, either.

While Rudolph is better known for his institutional projects, including the Yale School of Architecture’s Paul Rudolph Hall, the Milam House is still a piece of history. Built in 1961 for the attorney Arthur Milam, the residence is being sold by the family of the original owners.

Rafael Viñoly-designed head-turner Ridgefield, CT

Rafael Viñoly’s most famous residential project may be his gleaming tower at 432 Park Avenue in New York City, but for those who prefer a more tranquil setting, a house he designed in Ridgefield, Connecticut is now on the market. Built in 1990 for Alice Lawrence, whose late husband Sylvan Lawrence was a real estate mogul in Manhattan, the house is a dramatic contemporary design composed primarily of concrete and glass. Designed for Mrs. Lawrence’s extensive art collection, the house comprises one part of a listing that includes a farmhouse next door and a total of 16 acres of land.

With three bedrooms, four bathrooms, and both indoor and outdoor pool options, the Lawrence House offers a taste of luxury to anyone who can afford its $9.8 million price tag.

Placeholder Alt Text

Beachy Keen

James Corner Field Operations' public Manhattan beach reveals first renderings
Park stewards at the Hudson River Park Trust have just revealed preliminary renderings for a new public beach in Manhattan's Meatpacking District. The five-and-a-half acre site used to be a parking area for the sanitation department and adjacent salt shed, but in a few years, it will be a recreation area with a kayak launch, sports field, picnic areas, and a marsh. James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) is the New York-based landscape architecture firm behind the design, while hometown firm nARCHITECTS is doing park buildings. The soon-to-be park was first announced in February of this year, and in about 18 months, the beach on Gansevoort Peninsula will open to the public on the banks of the Hudson River at the end of Little West 12th Street. While there will be ample opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, the Hudson River is still too gross to swim in (but who knows, great strides in cleanliness could be made by the time the park is complete). From the renderings, it appears the new beach will rise alongside artist David Hammons' recreation of the demolished Pier 52Day’s End. This is far from the only project on the Trust's plate. The organization cares for a four-and-a-half-mile greenway on the river and is now shelling out an estimated $900 million for capital projects that include Pier 57, by Youngwoo & Associates, as well as Pier 26, which features a playground designed by OLIN and an ecology center from Rafael Viñoly. In addition, construction on Pier 55, the overwater park on piers, designed by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects and go-to artist for the hyper-wealthy, Thomas Heatherwick, is well underway. The new beach will also be a stone's throw away from the Whitney Museum. This is not the first Manhattan beach as some outlets have claimed, however, not counting pre-contact or New Amsterdam times. As recently as the 1980s, during the construction of Battery Park City, New Yorkers donned bikinis and sunned themselves on the sandy construction site just north of Manhattan's southern tip. At the same time, art organization Creative Time hosted multiple annual editions of Art on the Beach which brought large-scale public art to the desolate area. Today, way uptown, there's a semi-secret sandy beach at Inwood's Swindler's Cove, thanks to a New York Restoration Project initiative to restore shorelines in the area.
Placeholder Alt Text

Archi-Talks

Annabelle Selldorf, Stefano Boeri, and Rafael Viñoly headline New York's City of Tomorrow summit
City of Tomorrow, a two-day summit in New York conceived by Hundred Stories and 92Y, will tackle timely topics like resiliency, the “we” revolution, and culinary innovation’s role in urban placemaking. Over 50 experts, including architects, local restauranteurs, city officials, designers, and real estate developers, will gather on March 15 and 16 to talk about what it’s going to take to create a healthy future for New York.   “This year’s dialogue focuses on themes none of us can afford to ignore,” said Robin Dolch, president of Hundred Stories, in a statement, “resiliency for the city, urban solutions for the decades ahead, prioritizing the people and community in our planning, the lessons biology can teach us about building better and wellness strategies at the forefront of everything in real estate and design.” Now in its third year, the symposium features a comprehensive lineup of talks led by an even more stacked list of speakers. Annabelle Selldorf and Rafael Viñoly will headline an architecture keynote address alongside principals from SOM and Bjarke Ingels Group, while emerging leaders in the field like Danei Cesario, Alda Ly, and Jenny Sabin will talk about coworking, nature, and wellness. AN’s own editor-in-chief Bill Menking will moderate a panel on innovation and the built environment, featuring speakers from Oiio Studio, ShoP Architects, and more. The discussions taking place at City of Tomorrow will cover not just buildings, but also how food, tech, nature, and art play into a city’s success. Award-winning chefs José Andres and Missy Robbins, as well as Marcel Van Ooyen of GrowNYC, will talk about creating developments with culinary destinations, while Shin-pei Tsay of the Gehl Institute and Tim Tompkins from the Times Square Alliance discuss urban planning and innovation. Architect Stefano Boeri and Martin Bechthold, PhD, Harvard’s Kumagai Professor of Architectural Technology, will also discuss what animals and plants can teach humans about building better. Panels with titles like “The Future of Retail,” “What’s New in New Development,” “Real Estate Mysteries Revealed,” and “Paint the City” allude to more of the expert knowledge on New York living that will be shared during the two-day conference. For a full listing of speakers, check out the event website. Registration is still happening and can be found here.
Placeholder Alt Text

By Jennifer Egan

James Corner Field Operations is bringing a public beach to Manhattan
The Hudson River Park Trust has announced Manhattan’s first public beach. The nonprofit group has tapped James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) to transform the disused Gansevoort Peninsula (the site of the old salt shed) into a 5.5-acre park and beach in the Hudson River. The jagged track of land sits just west of the Whitney Museum, at the southern terminus of another JCFO project, the High Line. The renovation will turn the vacant plot into a public park, complete with a beach—though the Trust admits that it won’t be open for swimming, likely because of the Hudson’s poor water quality. The new park will also be a buffer for storm surges and flooding and will be the largest green space in the entire Hudson River Park once complete. Gansevoort Peninsula sits adjacent to where artist David Hammons’ ethereal recreation of the demolished Pier 52Day’s End, will rise in stainless steel, and the Trust has pledged that the work will be integrated into the future park. That’s not all—the Trust is overseeing a suite of new projects up and down the western coast of Manhattan. Pier 55, the Thomas Heatherwick and Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects–designed island—park financed by billionaire Barry Diller—is rising just north of Day’s End on top of sculptural concrete caps. Down the coast is the ongoing $30 million renovation of Pier 26, which OLIN is transforming into an ecology center. Rafael Viñoly Architects is also building a two-story education center nearby. So far, $152 million has already been raised for the Trust's combined projects via air rights sales, and private, state, and city funding will be used to reach the required $900 million. The Trust will be soliciting feedback from the public and Community Board 2 before finalizing the revamped Gansevoort Peninsula's design and beginning construction in 2020. If everything goes as planned, the park and beach are slated to open in 2022.
Placeholder Alt Text

Chiseled Physique

Snøhetta's Upper West Side skyscraper may have its permits revoked
New York City’s Department of Buildings (DOB) has fired a shot across the bow of developer Extell Development over 50 West 66th Street, a Snøhetta-designed 775-foot-tall tower first revealed at the end of 2017. The 127-unit residential tower, which was first announced as a 262-foot-tall building in 2015, has used a contentious zoning tactic to boost the building’s height, and accordingly, the prices it can command. The middle of the tower includes a 160-foot-tall mechanical void that does not completely count towards the maximum floor area ratio (FAR) defined by the zoning code. While the Department of City Planning had claimed that it would close the loophole in the zoning code responsible for these so-called "towers on stilts" by the end of 2018, that deadline has come and gone. The city now expects to finalize their fix by the summer of 2019. Although the DOB had already greenlit construction at 50 West 66th Street, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer announced today that Extell has 15 days to go back the drawing board and remove the unnecessary height. If Extell doesn't, its construction permit would be revoked. “This is a victory not only for the Upper West Side, but for communities all over the city that find themselves outgunned by developers who try to bend or break zoning rules for massive private profit,” wrote Brewer in a statement. A number of Upper West Side residents and City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal have been outspoken opponents of the project, which, if built, would become the tallest building in the neighborhood. It remains to be seen if Brewer’s decision will carry a precedent for similar projects that have gained extra height by stacking their mechanical rooms—a tactic also employed by the piston-like Rafael Viñoly Architects-designed tower at 249 East 62nd Street.
Placeholder Alt Text

Pay Attention

Stop asking where all the female architects are; we're right here
In 2014, a year after I graduated from architecture school, I read Karrie Jacobs’s Fast Company piece on Nicole Dosso, “The Tallest Tower in the U.S. is Being Built by a Woman.” A perfect title, a perfect piece. In it, Jacobs wasn’t describing Dosso as a “female architect” or as a “woman in architecture.” She simply stated that the tallest tower is being built by a woman, period. As a 23-year-old female starting out in her career, I was energized and in awe of Dosso, and my peers who weren’t in architecture were too. It was a breath of fresh air, a moment of strength. Another example is a recent New York Times article titled, “Architecture is No Longer Just a Gentlemen’s Profession.” Precisely. These are the types of headlines and stories we need. Last Saturday’s New York Times op-ed, “Where Are All the Female Architects?” was not titled to advance our cause. The piece did talk about redefining success since there’s often a limited view of what being an architect means. But its headline, along with a slew of others lately asking where are the female architects, adds to the misleading narrative that there are none out there. It’s a negative story to suggest because there are truly so many. It’s time to change this narrative. I no longer want to hear people asking, “Where are all the women architects?” or saying, “I can’t name five female architects.” I’ve published interviews with 50 women on my platform Madame Architect who build, design, or otherwise advance the practice of architecture, and I’ve spoken to even more. We need to listen to them, write about them, amplify them, and support them in combating the issues our industry faces in order to change this situation.

Instead of asking “Where are these women?” start writing about them and telling their unique stories.

Yes, we need to call out the systemic issues in the industry that are perpetuated time and time again and prevent many women from rising through the ranks. They need to be discussed and approached thoughtfully. But why not show what the redefinition of success looks like by writing about the myriad women who are doing exceptional, sensitive, and important work while simultaneously running businesses, acting as caregivers, and making time to mentor? To me, that is the beginning of change. Instead of asking “Where are these women?” start writing about them and telling their unique stories. Show their successes, their reinventions of practices, and how they forged their own paths. Take Andrea Simitch, who leads the nation’s top-ranked undergraduate architecture program, or Nina Freedman, the former “secret wing” to Shigeru Ban and founder of Dreamland Creative Projects. There is also Sylvia Smith, senior partner at FXCollaborative, who started and oversees the firm’s award-winning cultural and educational practice, as well as Sandra McKee, who spearheaded Rafael Viñoly’s Tokyo International Forum but now owns her own international studio and hosts ArchiteXX’s mentorship sessions. Younger women are also emerging as leaders in the field. Elyse Marks, a restoration architect, rope-access technician, and marathoner, defies gender norms every day while hanging hundreds of feet in the air, while Alda Ly, one of the co-founders of MASS Design Group, runs her own practice working with entrepreneurs and startups like The Wing. Danei Cesario is raising two girls while traveling to speak on industry equity and diversity, while Isabel Oyuela-Bonzani introduces architecture to high school students.

There are clearly many women who are architects, but the yardstick for evaluating good architecture and success is shortsighted.

There are also countless women I’ve met who may not build, but advance the practice and advocate for the value of architecture and architects, like critic Alexandra Lange, public relations expert Tami Hausman, strategist Ashley Bryan, and activist Jessica Myers. These women show there are different types of success at all levels that deserve to be celebrated and talked about. There are clearly many women who are architects, but the yardstick for evaluating good architecture and success is shortsighted. Good architecture now has a broader definition, and we can be more inclusive in showcasing the architecture that addresses the issues facing society today. I should also note that the women I’ve called out in this article are all based in New York. Since I live and work full-time here, these are the architects with whom I can have meaningful, intimate, face-to-face conversations. Of course, I am trying to profile more women located elsewhere in the country and around the world. But just imagine: If there are so many unique stories held within a singular city, there must be countless architects out there doing fascinating work that we need to acknowledge. In last week’s New York Times op-ed, writer Allison Arieff quoted Caroline James, a graduate of Harvard’s architecture program and founder of the advocacy group Design for Equality. James told Arieff that it’s “time to ID the problem and what we need to do moving forward” by giving women the tools they can use to succeed, such as mentorship and access to information. This is exactly my goal for Madame Architect, and the same spirit drives other organizations like ArchiteXX, Rebel Architette, Equity by Design, and Girl Uninterrupted. We should also start early by speaking and listening to students, asking them what questions they have, what resources they’ll need, and what kinds of mentors they want. When I was studying at Cornell, I read Toshiko Mori’s newly-released monograph and remember focusing on the following words which have since fueled my attitude toward my career: “Architects cannot be defeated by disappointments. The profession requires mental strength, good health, and especially a strong stomach. An unlimited amount of optimism, a healthy dose of idealism, and high energy and high spirits help us to persevere through difficult circumstances.” This industry is tough and we need to infuse it with this kind of motivation. We need a strong start in 2019 where we can mobilize, spread knowledge, build community, and support men and women alike within architecture. I don’t believe this is the only solution, but this moment is a new beginning. So let’s write about these women—these architects—in the way that Karrie wrote about Nicole. We are not missing and we will no longer be hidden. Julia Gamolina is the founder and editor of Madame Architect. She also currently handles business development at FXCollaborative.
Placeholder Alt Text

Venti-Size Retail

Starbucks brings a multi-story Reserve Roastery to Manhattan's Meatpacking District
New Yorkers can now experience their own Starbucks Reserve Roastery, the coffee company’s sprawling “upscale” take on the typical Starbucks typology, and AN was able to tour the new location ahead of its December 14 opening. Reserve Roasteries are Starbucks’s largest spaces—the 30,000-square-foot Shanghai location is the largest Starbucks in the world—and the new Meatpacking location is no different, clocking in at 23,000 square feet and covering multiple levels. The flagship store, which anchors the base of the Rafael Viñoly–designed 61 Ninth Avenue, has been imagined as an all-day destination, according to Starbucks’s chief design officer, Liz Muller. A Starbucks location already exists directly across the street, but Reserve Roasteries are meant to be more experiential than the normal stores. Case in point: The Meatpacking location contains several distinct zones that encourage guests to wander and browse. At the roastery’s ground floor is a 360-degree central coffee bar, a lounge (complete with an active fireplace), an active roasting area with a 30-foot-tall copper off-gassing kettle, a separate counter and kitchen for the Italian bakery brand Princi, a station where customers can buy and grind their own beans, and several merchandise stands offering high-end design items. A lounge with another coffee bar sits below-grade and is meant to offer a quieter, uninterrupted experience where guests can work. On the top level is the 60-foot-long Arriviamo Bar, a cocktail bar with seating for up to 80, where bartenders will sling mixed drinks made with Starbucks coffees and teas. The interior is rife with nods to the Meatpacking District’s industrial past. The building’s concrete columns have been left exposed, and terrazzo was used for the flooring. In a Willy Wonka-ish touch, pneumatic tubes crisscross the ceiling to deliver freshly-roasted coffee beans from the roasters directly to hoppers at each coffee bar. Muller described being inspired in part by the conveyor belts that butchers would use to transport carcasses back when the area was used to process meat and dairy. To help modulate the acoustics of such a large space, the in-house design team covered the ceiling in solid-timber boxes that both break-up noise from below and naturally amplify the store’s speaker system. The undulating pattern of the boxes is reminiscent of an ocean wave, and each box is rimmed with copper to impart a soft glow. A series of wooden slats set with recessed lighting was used to clad the ceiling of the below-ground lounge area, creating visual homogeny with the vertically-oriented screen that wraps around the store’s edges. If visitors venture further back into the cellar, they can catch a glimpse of the basement storage area where green (unroasted) coffee beans are kept, and a terrarium full of coffee plants imported from Costa Rica. The furniture was all custom-crafted by BassamFellows from solid walnut, including the backless stools, extra-wide riffs on the classic Kennedy chair, side tables, and the wheeled-display stands. Each Reserve Roastery features its own unique central art piece, and for the New York store, Starbucks installed a 10-foot-tall, 2,000-pound version of the siren from their logo rendered in copper. The piece was designed by artist Max Steiner and fabricated by the Polich Tallix foundry. Those in the Midwest: don't fret. Starbucks is still on track to open its largest outpost yet in Chicago next year: the four-story, 40,000-square-foot Reserve Roastery at 646 N. Michigan Avenue.