Search results for "affordable housing"

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Brick-and-Aluminum

Magnusson Architecture delivers high-design affordable housing to the Bronx
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The design and construction of affordable housing in New York is a formidable task; between labor and material costs, and the hurdles of municipal zoning and housing regulation, even the grandest of projects are budget engineered into imitations of the original concept. Magnusson Architecture and Planning’s (MAP) St. Augustine Terrace, a low-income residential tower located in the Bronx, challenges that trend with a thoughtful design consisting of dark brick and matted aluminum composite panels. Over the last three decades, MAP has led a broad range of affordable housing projects across New York City and the Hudson Valley. St. Augustine Terrace is located just south of Cortona Park in the Morrisania neighborhood, the project and joins the practice’s particular focus on urban regeneration in the Bronx—the building was also awarded a merit in the 2020 AIANY Design Awards and an AIA New York State Design Award.
  • Facade Manufacturer Alcoa Glen Gerry
  • Architect Magnusson Architecture and Planning
  • Facade Installer D&G Construction Arco Construction Commercial Window Group
  • Location The Bronx, New York
  • Date of Completion 2019
  • System CMU and metal stud
  • Products Glen Gery "Dark Iron" Roman Brick Platinum Reynobond FR by Alcoa
The tower rises on the triangular plot of the former site of the Church of St. Augustine, which was demolished in 2013 after decades of decay stemming from a dwindling congregation. In total, the project provides 112 affordable housing units, of which approximately a quarter are devoted to adults with mental illness. The elevator lobbies of each floor are located on the primary south elevation and provide views of the Manhattan skyline through significant glazing bays. To mitigate glare, MAP wrapped each elevator lobby with a four-ringed set of brise soleil produced by Kawneer. “We designed the sunshades to wrap around the entire glazed portion of the elevator lobby from very early in the design phase, and sized them so that they would shade a majority of the floor-to-ceiling glazing during peak sun hours in the hottest months of the year,” said MAP principal Fernando Villa. “We typically work these calculations out through drawing sections, calculating the angle of the sun at several points in the year, and sometimes with schematic sun studies.” Outside of the significant glazing on the south elevation, the bulk of the tower’s cladding is composed of aluminum composite and brick. The aluminum composite panels are just over an eighth-of-an-inch thick and are arranged in alternating bands of dimensions; narrow panels line spandrels while those of larger height span from floor to ceiling. The tower’s Roman-style bricks are in keeping with the surrounding turn-of-the-century context and are arranged according to a standard running bond.  
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Small but Mighty

Toward a cooperative network of small architecture practices
You might be small…. In the United States, architecture firms composed of fewer than twenty people make up 92 percent of all firms—a percentage virtually unchanged since the 1970s—though in total they represent only 44 percent of all architectural workers (Economic Census 2012, table 5). Firms of 1- to-9 people make up 76 percent of the total number of U.S. architecture firms while capturing a mere 14 percent of total billings. If you are one of these small firms, you probably bemoan those tasks that transcend your basic competence and your engaged sensibilities. Unable to afford the specialized staff that tackles vital administrative, managerial, financial, legal, development, and marketing tasks commonplace to large firms, it is difficult to efficiently dispense with these realities to concentrate on the advantages of being small: programmatic experimentation, design detail, personal relationships with clients, work-life balance, and thwarting corporate divisions of labor. Flummoxed by the realization that an uncertain percent of your time is spent on the non-billable and uncreative aspect of running an architectural office, the possibility of sharing both relevant information about and expenses of administration might be attractive. More attractive still is a structure that makes the firm less vulnerable to the vagaries of the market and then next potential client call and taking more control of getting the projects that matter. But you can operate big… Rethinking the nature of practice in small firms is part of a broader need to reconsider the value of cooperation, cooperatives, and cooperativization in cities more broadly. The Architecture Lobby wants to facilitate this by viewing small firms in tandem with the social, economic, and political potentials offered by a cooperative network that leverages economies of scale, consolidates power, and expands collective professional and political capabilities. On the one hand, the cooperative network can leverage economies of scale by centralizing much of the business operations and in turn helping member firms reduce cost and risk. On the other hand, the cooperative network serves as a knowledge and trade network for small firms to help one another. By meaningfully sharing costs systems, labor, knowledge, benefits, and optimal surplus revenue, members build resilience that allows a firm to take large control of the direction of their firms and the projects it wants to pursue. A cooperative, technically, is a worker-owned organization, and the network would help these cooperative firms work together in predetermined ways. The network is open to all firms that have the willingness to share necessary information, and they do not need to be worker-owned—although this would be a positive step toward a larger democratic shift. The network joining these firms will share resources at the level comfortable for its members: Use the economies of scale to jointly hire consultants, share knowledge, share software, share knowledge, share employees as projects recede or expand, share space. Clients get the benefit of a firm with specialties it desires with an assurance that there is access to more complete expertise. Firms get the benefit of specific identities with the stamp of expanded expertise and stability. Coming Together... There are institutional challenges to forming both a coop and a cooperative network in the US: capitalism is based on competition, something that is reinforced in everything from our education to institutional modes. Also, cooperation between firms can trigger fears of monopolization and antitrust legislation. But laws allowing cooperativization that were first enacted to support struggling small farmers in the US are increasingly being applied to other industries, although professions, where licensed and unlicensed workers mix in a typical firm organization, are prohibited from legally forming as a coop. But again, coops can function cooperatively despite these restrictions. The Architecture Lobby has found several firms pushing the envelope in the U.S. Warrenstreet Architects of Concord, New Hampshire, for example, has adopted cooperative structures simply for better workplace culture and more responsible firm practices. CoEverything in Somerville, Massachusetts, offers a variety of cooperative-based architectural, education, and real estate services. South Mountain Company, based in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, operates a straightforward ecological design-build cooperative and has grown enough to self-initiate affordable housing developments. In search for the most equitable structure of practice, Lobby members at uxo architects in the Bay Area, California, have tapped into their local cooperative experts to help them navigate the opaque legal waters of incorporating as a legal cooperative and worked with coop law experts to remove barriers to the formation and operation of professional cooperatives in the U.S., as well as The Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives, a group that backs democratically controlled workplaces across sectors. All it takes is a desire to move beyond the current system that doesn’t work for small firms, as forced competition guaranteed a race to the bottom. If you are interested in learning more and being a part of the alternative that we are building, please visit our website (architecture-lobby.org/coop) and become involved.
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My way or the highway

MVRDV’s revamp of Amsterdam’s Tripolis Park includes a noise-buffering groundscraper
Dutch firm MVRDV has unveiled plans for Tripolis Park, a large-scale redevelopment project calling for the renovation and expansion of an architecturally significant Amsterdam office park that sits directly next to the A10 motorway (Rijksweg 10), the city’s bustling primary ring road. The most significant new addition to the existing Tripolis campus will be a rectangular, 11-story office block; a proper “groundscraper” per MVRDV, that will pull double-duty as a sound screen. Spanning nearly 400,000 square feet parallel to the A10, the photovoltaic array-topped structure will help muffle the constant roar of traffic produced by the highway. And, only fitting for a shiny, ultramodern office building situated nearly atop a traffic-clogged ring road, the star tenant will be Uber. Completed in 1994, Tripolis, which will be rebranded as Tripolis Park once the redevelopment of the site is complete, is one of the final works of influential Dutch architect and theorist, Aldo van Eyck. An outspoken proponent of Structuralism, van Eyck is best known for the Amsterdam Orphanage (1960) and for the hundreds of public playgrounds that he created across the city in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. Located a stone’s throw from Van Eyck’s iconic, national monument-listed orphanage, Tripolis—itself a monument site since 2019—has historically suffered from low occupancy rates despite its eye-catching design, desirable location in Amsterdam’s fast-growing Zuidas business district, and attractive, courtyard-centered orientation. Composed of a trio of curvy mid-rises in which clusters of office suites fan out from central staircases, the existing buildings will be fully renovated by MVRDV to ensure that they “become commercially viable” according to a press release. Amsterdam-based real estate developer Flow is spearheading the project. The buildings’ signature design characteristics, namely their wood and granite facades and colorful window frames, will remain while MVRDV will add new elements such as rooftop gardens. The northernmost of the three existing buildings, Tripolis 100, will remain separate from the new groundscraper-slash-highway noise-blocker and eventually be converted into an affordable housing complex. Tripolis 200 and 300, the two existing buildings not slated for conversion into future housing, and those located closest to the A10, will be woven into the footprint of MVRDV’s new building. “This block is indented where it meets the existing buildings, adapting its grid structure to the complex geometry of Van Eyck’s offices,” explained MVRDV. “The relation between the austere, regimented south façade and the playfully indented north façade is revealed by a high-transparency eight-storey window that provides a glimpse of the existing Tripolis buildings where the indentation punches almost all the way through the new structure.” This melding of old and new at Tripolis Park is certainly dramatic, especially when considering the newer building’s hulking rigidity and the wavy, organic forms of Van Eyck’s older structures. “So I am a fan of Aldo van Eyck’s oeuvre and I think we should treat his design as respectfully as possible,” said MVRDV founding partner Winy Maas in a statement. “The new building guards and shelters the existing Tripolis complex as it were, thanks to the protective layer we create. We literally echo Tripolis, as if it was imprinting its neighbour. The space between will be given a public dimension and will be accessible to passers-by. As a visionary in his time, Aldo already saw office spaces as meeting places. I want to continue that idea by promoting interaction between the two buildings in various ways.” Uber, whose international headquarters are currently located elsewhere in Amsterdam, will also take up residence in the largest of the existing Van Eyck buildings in addition to occupying several lower floors of MVRDV's A10-abutting structure. As reported by Bloomberg, Uber will occupy two-thirds of the Tripolis campus in total starting in 2022. The San Francisco-based tech giant will have the option to rent even more space as its Amsterdam workforce continues to grow. Since 2017, the number of Amsterdam-based Uber employees has jumped from 400 to 1,700, prompting the company to seek out a more spacious home.
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Seoul’s semi-basement dwellers get financial boost from the city after Parasite

Hot off the staggering success of Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite at the 92nd Academy Awards, the Seoul Metropolitan Government is extending a helping hand to those living in the city’s cramped and famously flood-prone semi-basement apartments. As reported by English-language daily the Korea Herald, a total of 1,500 households living in semi-basement apartments, or Banjiha, will be eligible for up to ₩3.2 million (approximately $2,654) to invest in new flooring, improved HVAC systems, air purifiers, smoke detectors, and other items that are in need of replacement or altogether lacking in Seoul’s halfway-subterranean homes. According to the Los Angeles Times, there were over 360,000 semi-basement apartments in South Korea as of 2015, with a majority located in the country’s ultra-dense capital region. Many of the units were originally built as bunkers in the 1970s—an era when military tension with North Korea was at a boiling point—and later converted into ultra-cheap rental units with little regard for comfort or safety. Although a more affordable option compared to high-rise apartment blocks that a majority of Seoul residents call home, Banjiha are dark, damp, poorly ventilated, and often too compact to support the number of people living in them. Seventy-eight percent of Seoul’s semi-basement dwellers are in the bottom 30 percent income bracket, per city statistics cited by the Korea Herald. The Banjiha upgrade initiative, spearheaded by the city in partnership with the Korean Energy Foundation, will begin accepting applications from households in March with plans to expand the range of applications eligible to apply in subsequent years. The financial aid is being dispersed as a larger effort to help low-income Seoul residents improve and boost efficiency in their aging, with priority given to semi-basement apartment dwellers. Featured prominently in Parasite as the primary residence of the scheming Kim family, Seoul’s semi-basement apartments have garnered a significant amount of attention since the film’s release. As detailed by AN in a recent article, Bong used the built environment—specifically two very different modes of housing, the dreary semi-basement apartment and the ultramodern, quasi-suburban luxury home—to propel the film’s pointed social commentary. “Banjiha is a space with a peculiar connotation... It’s undeniably underground, and yet you want to believe it’s above ground,” the Times quoted Bong as saying following Parasite’s premiere at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. “There’s also the fear that if you sink any lower, you may go completely underground.” While the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Banjiha-earmarked financial aid program won’t lift semi-basement dwellers fully above ground, it does function as a life preserver of sorts, helping to prevent thousands from sinking even further. Just call it the Parasite Effect.
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The Spirit of 78

Related reveals first phase of Chicago’s massive The 78 development
Related Midwest, the Chicago-based arm of New York real estate development firm Related Companies, has revealed concrete design details for the first phase of its The 78 project, a 62-acre “vibrant, mixed-use community” (according to the developer) that’s poised to transform a long-vacant riverside parcel along Chicago’s South Loop. A Related megadevelopment through and through, it’s tempting to compare this $7 billion built-from-scratch neighborhood—master-planned by Chicago’s Skidmore, Owings & Merrill—as the Windy City’s answer to the shiny, supertall-stuffed Hudson Yards enclave that opened last year on the far western fringes of Manhattan. And there are myriad similarities, minus any climbable sculptures for now, anyway. Yet whereas at the heart of the critically walloped Hudson Yards was a luxury shopping mall and a Björk-christened arts center, the focal point of The 78, in its first phase at least, will be focused on research and innovation in the form of a world-class new home for the University of Illinois’ Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), which is part of the Illinois Innovation Network. In a press statement, Related Midwest credited DPI for helping to “set the stage for The 78’s future as a global technology and innovation hub.” Curt Bailey, president of Related Midwest, described the project as such:
“Our vision for The 78 is to create Chicago’s next great neighborhood. With a dynamic Phase 1 plan that includes DPI as its centerpiece, we’re showing how a 21st-century neighborhood, created from the ground-up and connected to so many exceptional areas, will bring new opportunities to all of Chicago. DPI’s organizational model will drive long-term innovation across critical growth industries and draw corporate tenants, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists— from across Chicago and around the globe  to The 78, where they will find top talent, groundbreaking research and new technologies that support future expansion.”
Joining the 50,000 square-foot DPI campus in Phase 1 will be 1.5 million square feet of office space spread across a mix of high-rise and “loft-style” buildings; 700,000 square feet of residential space, with 20 percent of that earmarked for affordable housing, and 100,000 square feet dedicated to eateries, shops, hotels, and fitness locations. Phase 1 also marks the beginnings of what will eventually amount to 12 acres of publicly-accessible green space woven throughout The 78. This includes 5 acres of Crescent Park, a curvy 7-acre urban refuge/outdoor recreation hotspot following the natural path of the Chicago River. Various infrastructural tweaks are set to begin within the next year as part of Phase 1. They include appending and renovating streets, as well as reconstruction of the Chicago River Seawall. Work is already underway on the Wells-Wentworth Connector, a pedestrian-centric main street of sorts with protected bike lanes that will link The 78 with adjacent neighborhoods. Envisioned as a southward extension of Chicago’s central business district, The 78}s name is a reference to the development’s future status as the newest community to join Chicago’s 77 established neighborhoods. As for the DPI's new home, the “state-of-the-art immersion facility” will be nestled on land donated by Related Midwest along the Chicago River between Crescent Park and bustling Wells Street on the Loop’s northern edge. STL Architects, the Chicago-based firm behind the DPI complex's initial conceptual renderings, noted that the building’s “distinct” design was directly inspired by its park-flanked riverfront location. Sporting a central atrium that will act as an indoor public square, the building is intended to foster social interaction between students, and the facility is expected to attract 2,000 of them annually from the U.S. and abroad. Per Related Midwest, academic activities at DPI will initially zero in on “applying the Illinois economy’s existing strengths in data analytics and computing to drive innovation in food and agriculture; environment and water; health and wellness; transportation and logistics; and finance and insurance.” In addition to creating 9,000 permanent jobs, Phase 1 of The 78 is expected to generate over 9,500 construction, trade, and professional services jobs. It’s slated for completion in 2024.
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Using it as a LEVER

LEVER Architecture’s Thomas Robinson discusses the impact California could have on the timber industry

We are witnessing a revolution in how we build with engineered timber in the United States.

In January 2019, the International Code Council (ICC) approved changes that would allow high-rise wood buildings in the 2021 International Building Code (IBC). Oregon and Washington were early adopters of these code changes, and Denver, Colorado, recently followed suit. Other states and municipalities are expected to adopt the 2021 IBC timber provisions early, but it is anyone’s guess what California will do. Will the state decide to adopt now, or will it wait till the code becomes part of the new issuance of the 2021 IBC? This is an important question not just for California, and by extension the City of Los Angeles, but also for the future of mass timber in the U.S. and beyond. California standards and codes transform markets, and a mass timber movement in the U.S. without the state that is also the world’s fifth-largest economy is not going to move the needle fast enough. The opportunity to scale a low-carbon, renewable supply chain to address catastrophic climate change is closing quickly, and it is time for California to step up and demonstrate the progressiveness and leadership that have been key to its prosperity.

What does early adoption mean in practice? Today, an architect in Oregon or Washington who follows the provisions of the new IBC can stamp drawings to build a timber building up to 270 feet in height as of right. This is a significant change. Just over four years ago, my firm’s design for a wood high-rise called Framework was selected as one of two winners of the first U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition. At that time, there was no code path in the U.S. for wood buildings over 75 feet. To receive a permit, our team of designers and engineers worked with the State of Oregon on a performance-based design process. Partly funded by the competition prize, this process included 40 tests on full-scale timber building assemblies to demonstrate their fire, seismic, structural, and acoustic performance relative to high-rise life-safety requirements. It was a fascinating, exhausting, and exhilarating experience, and we are proud that this work and research impacted the timber code changes. Thanks to the new code provisions, it is unlikely that another design team will ever have to go through this process in quite the same way again.

Early adoption of the timber code provisions isn’t just about tall buildings, though—it is a critical opportunity to encourage wider investment and innovation in sustainable mass timber development of all scales. Why should California (or any place else) care about mass timber construction? Building with engineered timber products addresses our most pressing global challenges. It has the potential to decrease carbon emissions relative to construction, spur rural economic development, encourage forest practices that prevent fires, and increase the speed at which we can deliver projects, including much-needed affordable housing. The promise of a major market like California supporting mass timber construction will be an incentive for manufacturers to invest in a more advanced supply chain, back new research, and encourage more sustainable forest management. California’s early advocacy of renewables and electric vehicles moved the market (see Tesla), and I believe it could have a similar impact on the development of mass timber.

We are currently in the permit process for one of the first multistory office buildings in Los Angeles with a cross-laminated timber (CLT) floor system. The building is essentially a hybrid, with CLT floors and steel columns and beams. It meets the current code and does not use the provisions of the 2021 IBC because the highest occupied floor is not over 75 feet. That said, it is still a 125,000-square-foot building—not a small undertaking. We have been working closely with Los Angeles authorities and our engineer to clarify and explain how the CLT performs structurally in the project and how it fits within the current code. We have made incremental steps that will allow for subsequent projects to better navigate permitting this type of building, as well as open up options for multiple CLT suppliers to serve the Los Angeles market. I believe these small steps are significant, but I know that my team could have gone further faster if California had already adopted the new timber provisions. Building officials in California are justifiably cautious. The optics of approving tall wood construction as the state faces devastating wildfires is difficult. However, moving in this direction creates a market that will advance the sustainable forest management that prevents these fires in the first place. If we are serious about addressing the major environmental issues of our time, we need California to adopt the 2021 IBC now. We are simply running out of time.

Of course, there is more to do. I believe as architects we must rethink design as a wider ecosystem of environmental and regional economic choices. Where our materials come from and how they are produced should drive and inspire our designs. This is not a limitation but an invitation to innovate with regional, renewable materials to create more compelling architecture that truly addresses both local and global issues.

Thomas Robinson is the founder and principal of LEVER Architecture.

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Drumroll, Please

AN presents the Architectural League’s 2020 Emerging Voices winners

The Architectural League of New York’s annual Emerging Voices program once again delivers eight up-and-coming practices making an impact on building and discourse. This year’s jury was composed of Stella Betts, Mario Gooden, Mimi Hoang, Lisa Iwamoto, Dominic Leong, Paul Lewis, Matt Shaw, and Lisa Switkin. Approximately 50 firms were evaluated throughout the invited competition. As in past years, the winners were varied and represented practices from across North America, although many of the 2020 winners can be found on the East Coast. All of the winners will be honored next month and will participate in a lecture series at 130 Mercer Street in Manhattan:

Olalekan Jeyifous and PORT on March 5 at 7:00 p.m. Mork Ulnes Architects and Young Projects on March 12 at 7:00 p.m. Escobedo Soliz and Dake Wells Architecture on March 19 at 7:00 p.m. Blouin Orzes architectes and Peterson Rich Office on March 26 at 7:00 p.m.

Escobedo Soliz

Only four years after founding their firm, Pavel Escobedo and Andres Soliz have built a trusted brand in Mexico City’s saturated design market. Escobedo Soliz formed soon after the pair graduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico and together won the 2016 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program (YAP) summer installation competition.

Their YAP project, Weaving the Courtyard, brought acclaim in the U.S. but not at home, Soliz said. “That award is amazing for people in New York and holds a lot of prestige among those people, but here in Mexico, sadly, developers don’t care as much. What we took from that experience was a foundation of concepts and rules that we have used to build our practice, like the value of using simple or prefabricated materials and constructing by hand.”

After struggling to get commissions back in Mexico, the duo moved to Bolivia for a year to begin work on an ongoing design-build structure: a 17,200-square-foot funeral chapel made of artisanal brick on a shoestring budget. This project helped define the studio’s emerging focus on social service. When the pair returned to Mexico, their first major project was the José Maria Morelos Primary Rural School in Santa Isabel Cholula, part of the recovery from the deadly 2017 Puebla earthquake, which damaged over 200 public school buildings in the state. The design team conceptualized and built the school in just nine months.

“In Mexico, the country’s laws are very strict and the architect frequently has to be the builder,” said Soliz. “That’s why we go after custom projects in different contexts and with low budgets, whether it's for someone’s home or a special typology like the funerary chapel. We like to focus on the quality of materials and controlling the details. As young architects in Mexico, this keeps us competitive.” - Sydney Franklin

Young Projects

Bryan Young, principal and founder of Brooklyn-based Young Projects, aims for ambiguity. His buildings lend themselves to spatial and material misreadings that disrupt conventional hierarchies, inviting occupants to recalibrate their relationships with their surroundings.

“A tension exists between a normative reading and a misreading, but the misreading is just subtly off,” Young said. “It’s always something that is just a little bit off that draws you into the work.”

Young founded his firm in 2010 after working for Allied Works, Architecture Research Office (ARO), and Peter Pfau, all previous Emerging Voices winners that explore and exploit material properties. Since then, Young has designed polished residential projects that reinterpret familiar materials or layouts. Several walls of the Pulled Plaster Loft in Tribeca ripple with a custom pulled-plaster treatment that adapts techniques used to make traditional crown molding; the plan of the forthcoming 6 Square House in Bridgehampton, New York, is simultaneously a cluster of squares, a crossing of bars, and a fragment of an extendable pattern; and the Glitch House in the Dominican Republic is clad in encaustic cement tiles arranged to confuse light and shadow.

Smaller, in-house experiments (Young refers to them as “young projects”) incubate ideas and processes that could be applied to larger work, or just inspire new ways of creating. Currently sitting in his office is a tensile structure encrusted with salt crystals that might—or might not—point toward what Young Projects has in store. - Jack Balderrama Morley

Mork Ulnes

Dividing his time between Oslo, Norway, and San Francisco, Casper Mork-Ulnes has learned to synthesize design principles from the two regions as the basis for Mork Ulnes, the firm he founded in 2005. “Simply put,” he explained, his eight-person team is “influenced by Scandinavian practicality and California’s spirit of innovation.”

Residential design makes up the majority of the firm’s completed work, including the dramatic renovation of several Victorian-era homes throughout San Francisco. When updating antiquated interiors, Mork Ulnes “strives to make [homes] more efficient, more light-filled, and less compartmentalized,” according to the architect, “to perhaps hark back to a California way of living in which buildings were once more extroverted.”

When given the opportunity to design from the ground up, the firm favors locally sourced woods and distinctly minimal forms. For example, the exterior of Mylla Hytte, a 940-square-foot cabin set within a Norwegian forest, is clad in untreated heart-pine planks that will weather over time, in contrast to the plywood of its interior walls and built-in furniture. - Shane Reiner-Roth

PORT

The members of Chicago and Philadelphia–based firm PORT have made it their mission to elevate urban navigation from a chore to a pleasure. The firm believes that a city’s highways, byways, and interstitial spaces reflect a collective attitude toward equity, democracy, and civil rights, and that those values can be bolstered by creative design intervention.

Christopher Marcinkoski and Andrew Moddrell both trained as architects and formally established PORT in 2013 after setting their sights on the spaces in between buildings. They demonstrated their passion for the interstitial with their Lakeview Low-Line project, a collection of bright yellow urban furniture installed beneath the elevated train tracks of Chicago’s Brown Line. “Lakeview takes a site that no one pays attention to,” said Marcinkoski, “and demonstrates the possibility of transforming that space into something that is generous and welcoming.”

PORT has also taken to increasing public engagement at sites that have long been the center of civic attention, as in its OVAL+ series of temporary pavilions for Eakins Oval, the 8-acre park in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. - Shane Reiner-Roth

Peterson Rich Office

Sculptural gallery interiors, high-end retail, and housing and maintenance strategies for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)—three areas that might seem incongruous, but at the eight-year-old Peterson Rich Office (PRO), designing airy, light-filled spaces is part and parcel of considerate urban planning.

Founders Miriam Peterson and Nathan Rich trace their approach to experiences working at Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and Steven Holl Architects—two firms known for their bright institutional projects—as well as SHoP, which Rich says taught him to break down the profession’s “traditional barriers and open [himself] up to different types of work.” Because of often tight budget constraints, PRO’s projects focus on form, gesture, and filling spaces with natural light instead of expensive materials.

The studio is working with New York’s Regional Plan Association to come up with suggestions for how NYCHA can simultaneously make up its $31.8 billion maintenance deficit while capitalizing on the agency’s 68.5 million square feet of undeveloped floor area. This isn’t the firm’s first dance with NYCHA; in 2014, PRO’s 9x18 project provided a blueprint for turning the housing agency’s 20 million square feet of parking into infill housing, and those strategies made their way into Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing plan.

“We always start with a certain amount of research, and try to draw from that research a series of goals for the project,” Rich said. “We try to introduce what we call ‘five points’; these are values and goals built with the client, guiding principles, and those things emerge from context, institution, and need. It’s narrative, and we try to stay true to those things.” - Jonathan Hilburg

Dake Wells

“People are often surprised by how our projects end up looking like they do in these really rural areas,” said Andrew Wells, cofounder of Springfield- and Kansas City-based firm Dake Wells Architecture. “The common question we get is, How did you do that? For us, it boils down to solving peoples’ problems. There is an aesthetic component to that, yes, but it’s just a response.”

On numerous occasions, Wells and Brandon Dake, who together started the studio in 2004, have presented several design options to a client who ended up choosing the most challenging proposal on the table. Take Reeds Spring Middle School in rural southwestern Missouri. Set on 150 acres of undeveloped land beneath the Ozark Mountains, this 2017 project is tucked into a sloping ravine. “Finding the right spot to put the school was hard, so one of our ideas was to allow the building to negotiate the steep topography of the site,” said Wells, “but we didn’t think they'd go for it.” In the end, the semisubterranean design allowed Dake Wells to add a storm shelter to protect students, teachers, and staff during tornado season, one of the client’s biggest goals, and resulted in a striking exterior.

According to the design team, using few materials and a muted color palette also helps them concentrate on forming shapes that will stand out. Both Dake and Wells are from small towns in Missouri and feel most rooted in their work when they return to similar spots throughout the region on commission, often collaborating with low-income school districts with tight budgets. “We don’t subscribe to the notion that good design is for elite clients with money to spend,” Dake said. “We take on low-budget projects and push them as far as we can.” - Sydney Franklin

Blouin Orzes

Few have mastered the nuanced art of designing for the extreme climate of Canada’s Circumpolar North in the face of global warming. But Marc Blouin and Catherine Orzes of Montreal-based Blouin Orzes architectes have made that challenge the heart of their practice. Dedicated to what they describe as a “tireless journey” through the villages of Nunavik, the vast northern third of Quebec, Blouin and Orzes create buildings that empathetically address the pressing needs of Inuit communities.

For Blouin Orzes, the work doesn’t stop at the building itself—the architects also play an active role in public consultation processes, sourcing funding and filing grants on behalf of their clients. “It’s a constant search for a balance between tradition and modernity in the contemporary realities of northern communities,” the architects explained. “We have discovered the importance of patiently learning from a culture distinct from our own and have come to love the landscapes and respect nature’s harsh conditions.”

The Katittavik Cultural Centre in Kuujjuarapik, a village on the coast of Hudson Bay, is representative of the firm’s work providing much-needed social spaces for people in remote locations. Upward of 10,000 people use the center, located in one of Nunavit’s 14 communities north of the 55th parallel. The area’s harsh conditions create construction challenges, like high costs, a limited labor force, protracted schedules, and concerns about sustainability. Yet building here takes not only resources and time, but also considerable trust—which the designers work continually and respectfully to earn. - Leilah Stone

Olalekan Jeyifous

For Olalekan Jeyifous, the physical world doesn’t take precedence over the space of imagination. By embracing the tension between reality and invented narratives, his work produces a panoply of architectural inquiries in various media, including hyperreal photomontages, public sculpture, whimsical installations, and immersive VR experiences. Rather than prescribing function, his projects encourage their audiences to reconsider architecture’s relationship to the communities it affects.

Jeyifous describes his work as a result of the “process of connection as opposed to reaction, evoking a notion of ‘place’ rooted in immanence and possibility.” His built public work embraces multiplicity and interpretation, and engages each community’s historic and contemporary challenges, including histories of mobility and displacement, issues of equity in urban housing markets, and the importance of public spaces as sites of protest.

His unbuilt work is equally rooted in social justice. Born in Nigeria, Jeyifous has developed various projects that envision the future of the country’s sprawling megacity, Lagos, in a way that questions ideas of what progress looks like. In Shanty Mega-structures, he produced a series of renderings depicting the city’s informal settlements at the scale of large commercial developments, asking viewers to reconsider who visionary architecture should be for and what practices should inspire it. -  Leilah Stone

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Third Time's Not the Charm

California fails to pass contentious S.B. 50 housing bill
For the third year in a row, a controversial bill to increase home building in California has failed to win approval in the state Senate, according to the Los Angeles Times. Senate Bill 50 was intended to help curb the housing shortage and cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars while boosting density in developed areas near transit hubs. But vocal opposition over gentrification, affordable housing, and of course, up-zoning changes in wealthier neighborhoods, trumped all of those benefits.  Only three votes stood in the way of the measure passing in the state Senate last week. That same number of votes was missing last year when Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who authored the bill back in 2018, reintroduced it on the senator floor. With support from California’s Governor Gavin Newsom in his ongoing promise to fix the state’s housing crisis, it seemed like this year would Wiener’s winning attempt. But S.B. 50 failed again. The measure couldn’t pass all these years, according to the senate opponents, because S.B. 50 failed to adequately address the state’s growing need for affordable housing. The bill would have allowed developers to build more mid-rise apartments near mass transit and job centers in the state’s most populous cities. But community advocates for low-income areas worried that the idea would eventually out-price people from those neighborhoods, while activists in suburban areas argued against densification. Each year that Weiner introduced the bill back into the conversation, he revamped it with changes intended to address the concerns raised in previous attempts. Despite efforts to appease all sides and a move to allow local governments the chance to develop their own sets of standards similar to Senate Bill 50, the proposal failed for the final time. The L.A. Times reported a major divide in votes between lawmakers in metropolitan Los Angeles and the rest of the state. Nine local senators voted no or abstained from the vote while only one voted yes.  Similar to the split in the senate, ordinary Californians appear conflicted over the bill too. Senator president pro tem Toni Atkins wrote on Twitter that although the bill failed, she will work towards producing another piece of legislation that will pass this year. 
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It's a Camp Out

Berkeley approves plans for city-managed homeless encampment
Amid several proposals to temporarily house members of the Bay Area's homeless community (including one that would repurpose disused cruise ships into homeless housing), a recently approved plan for the city of Berkeley is finally moving forward. Councilperson Kate Harrison presented to Berkeley's City Council—and received voter approval for—a scheme for a city-run homeless encampment that would be able to house up to 50 residents at a time during its initial trial period. Harrison's proposal would require the construction of several wind-resistant tents and accompanying plumbing services, and would necessitate trash pickup to be coordinated by city employees. She then offered a parcel on University Avenue as a potential site for the encampment before emphasizing that there are many potential properties throughout Berkeley to begin the pilot program. The project as it's currently envisioned is in line with the Governor's recent executive order to develop vacant properties throughout California into sites for affordable housing. The plan received support from Moms 4 Housing lawyer Leah Simon-Weisberg and the nonprofit group East Bay Citizens For Action, and only received minor criticism from fellow councilmembers prior to its eventual approval. Councilmember Susan Wengraf, for instance, expressed her opinion that while a solution for the city's homeless shouldn't be further delayed, Harrison's proposal would require a great number of man-hours than the city is currently able to provide, while Lori Droste questioned the status of preexisting, unlicensed camps in the area if the plan were to go forward. “We’re all tired,” Harrison responded. “We need solutions tomorrow also, but we need solutions now.”

The Berkeley city staff will spend the next few months determining an ideal site for the project as well as the manufacturers for the tents. During the encampment’s trial run, the project is expected to operate for less than a year and will largely function as a means of protection for those in need against extreme outdoor temperatures during the winter months.

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GOING THROUGH PHASES

Second phase of Anita May Rosenstein Campus set to open this summer
Eight months after the first phase of the Leong Leong and Killefer Flammang Architects (KFA)-designed Anita May Rosenstein LGBT Center in Los Angeles was completed, the second phase of the project, named The McCadden Campus, has recently begun construction. KFA is the executive architect and is overseeing their construction in collaboration with Thomas Safran & Associates, an  affordable housing developer and property management company. While the first phase brought much-needed facilities to the organization—including a new senior community center and youth academy, administrative offices, a retail space, and several cultural events spaces—the second phase will facilitate even more in3tergenerational engagement.That includes the addition of a five-story structure for 98 affordable housing units for seniors, and a four-story structure with an additional 25 studios reserved for youth housing, both of which are designed to accommodate residents with mobility and hearing and/or vision disabilities. “The Anita May Rosenstein Campus,” explained Dominic Leong of Leong Leong, “is a new type of social infrastructure for the LGBTQ community that synthesizes social services and affordable housing into a porous urban campus.” From the outside, the two buildings of the second phase seem to be more restrained in their design than those of the first. The curved senior housing building stretches across the north end of the campus to provide views of the Hollywood Hills, while the narrow, boxy youth housing structure is sited across the street on North McCadden Place, to maintain a connection to The Village at Ed Gould Plaza, another facility owned by the center that houses several community-oriented event spaces. Altogether, the $141 million campus will connect multiple programs and community-based events across four acres for the roughly 42,000 clients for which the center provides services each month. “Inspired by the mission of the Center,” Leong added, “the architecture is a cohesive mosaic of identities and programs rather than a singular iconic gesture. With a series of internal courtyards and a new public plaza, the campus proactively interfaces with the city while also creating a sanctuary for the community within.” A portion of phase two will be ready for occupancy by Summer 2020.
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Only If It's Built

Only If builds practice through research and context
The following interview was conducted as part of “Building Practice,” a professional elective course at Syracuse University School of Architecture taught by Molly Hunker and Kyle Miller, and now an interview series on AN. On September 26, 2019, Stewart Tillyer and Aditya Jain, students at Syracuse University, interviewed Adam Frampton and Karolina Czeczek of the Brooklyn-based practice Only If. This interview has been edited by Kyle Miller and AN for clarity. Stewart Tillyer and Aditya Jain: Was starting an office something that you always planned to do? Karolina Czeczek: Yes, definitely. I’ve always wanted to run a practice. Adam and I were working together at OMA when we decided to leave and start our own practice. Without the opportunity to have a partner, I don’t know that starting a practice at that moment would have happened. Adam Frampton: I worked for about seven years after school before we started this practice. There was a real advantage to working in one place during that time and having the opportunity to make meaning[ful] contributions to multiple projects. The experience built some confidence in my ability to start and run a practice, but nothing really prepares you for the challenges of having your own office. Does your experience working at OMA influence your work today? Karolina: Definitely. In particular, how we approach projects is something that is inspired by our time at OMA. We try to understand the broader issues of each project. We’re not always able to solve that issue solely through building, but our position is embedded in our design. What was also impactful about spending time at OMA was the opportunity to take on a lot of responsibility really quickly. We were just not executing sketches of more experienced architects. It was an office environment that encouraged the newest and youngest employees to insert themselves from the start. This collaborative, relatively non-hierarchical environment is something we try to maintain in our office today. We’re not simply handing off sketches to our employees, but are promoting a collaborative effort. Who would you consider to be the primary audience for your work? Is it colleagues and other professionals, the general public, or someone else? Karolina: Other architects, no. Of course, they are an audience by default, but we're not designing for architects, we're designing for a much broader audience. It's important to keep that in mind because we have to understand the issues and needs of the general public. We have to understand the economic and political context in which we work to respond more appropriately through design. Adam: An architect’s obligation is to the public. Even with projects for private clients, there is a responsibility to imagine how a project engages society and an audience beyond who commissioned it. And I agree with Karolina. We do not explicitly design for other architects, but we take pleasure in working on disciplinary issues through drawings, collages, and models… everything that precedes the building. How does the location of your practice affect your work? Karolina: We’re based in New York and I think this requires us to focus on New York right now. We’re dealing with the issues that are specific to this context, such as housing, and it takes a lot of time, effort, and expertise to understand and navigate building in New York. We don’t want to pretend we know everything about everywhere, but at the same time, some specific issues we’re working on now in New York could also apply to other areas. Expanding where we practice is on the horizon. Adam: Having an office in New York as young architects almost seems to entail working on local projects in a very hands-on way. It’s very different from what we experienced previously, where large projects or budgets enable global collaboration: everybody in the office was from a different country, traveling constantly, and working on projects scattered around the globe. But starting an office requires commitment to the place where the office exists. Eventually, we’d like to take on much larger projects, and projects outside of New York, but we’re enjoying working on smaller projects in New York right now. We can be on construction sites, work directly with contractors, and watch projects evolve on a daily basis. Is your built work more meaningful to you than your unbuilt work or vice versa, or do they hold equal value? Karolina: We’re definitely interested in building and executing buildings. That being said, we also find tremendous value in working in a more speculative manner on urban-scale projects. We understand that you have to engage projects at a variety of scales and with vastly different objectives in order to execute one project. For example, the Narrow House came out of research on overlooked and irregularly shaped narrow lots in New York City. The research at an urban scale was ultimately realized as the Narrow House, at an architectural scale. Adam: We know there is value in research and in developing masterplans and working the scale of the city and even the region, but these types of projects can take a long time to be implemented. They afford us space to think and design in a more speculative manner, but in the end, often get passed to others to execute or become smaller scale projects only slightly related to the initial conception. We enjoy the smaller scale projects right now because they can be executed and have an impact quickly. Do you approach smaller projects differently than larger projects? Adam: Our approach is different at different scales. Each scale has its own degrees of indeterminacy or looseness. When you put dimensions on the drawing, there are some dimensions you omit because there are always deviations in construction. In small projects, there might be tolerances of an eighth of an inch. In urbanism, there [are] other degrees indeterminacy that need to be built into the project, but the techniques are very different for doing so. Every scale has its own techniques and approaches. We’re also interested in developing ideas for one scale and applying them to another. For example, in a competition for temporary installation, we thought about urbanism playing out within a very small interior. We developed an idea about how a city grid hosts events and activities that unfold over time. The architect or planner cannot choreograph or script everything happening in the space of the city, but they can setup a system or structure in which activities take place. This scenario became the basis for our entry. We like the idea of applying approaches developed for one scale to drastically different scales.  You’ve stated that you view Narrow House as a prototype for confronting unused narrow lots in the city. What are the qualities of Narrow House that transcend its site? Karolina: Of course, we do not imagine this to be a copy-paste prototype, because every narrow lot is slightly different, with different zoning regulations and different existing conditions and contexts. The notion of “prototype” corresponds more to a development approach that challenges existing models of building in the city. We are thinking in terms of strategies young architects can employ to be more proactive when it comes to development and construction. We mapped over 3,400 of these narrow lots scattered throughout the city. 600 of these lots are city-owned and also not suitable for development relative to existing financial models. But they are suitable for development if other priorities take the place of simply earning profit, such as helping to ameliorate the housing crisis or inventing new forms of housing. In that sense, we're thinking about methods and policies that will enable us and others to work in these types of sites. Adam: Working on Narrow House has allowed us to think about a broader approach to designing in other narrow lots. What’s critical for these sites is not the outward expression or form of the building, it's about interior circulation and how to deliver light into a very deep floor plan. The strategies we’ve developed in Narrow House to solve these issues can certainly transfer from lot to lot. We’re also excited to now be working with New York City to help develop 23 of these city-owned lots for affordable housing. What have been the biggest highlights and challenges that you’ve faced during the design and construction of Narrow House? Adam: Those are two different things, right!? Well, the biggest highlight will be getting it done! Karolina: It's going to be our first completed ground-up project as Only If—definitely a highlight on its own. When we conceived of the project, we didn’t even know if it was legally or logistically possible. I'm not going to go into detail, but we had to prove certain things to show that it's possible to build on the site within the existing zoning. Receiving the permit was a highlight! With construction, the biggest challenge is getting out of the ground. The specific conditions of the site constrain the staging area as well as space for construction. Adam: There are hundreds of challenges. The zero-lot condition, where you're building one structure right up against another one requires layers of legal agreements, seismographs for construction, vibration monitoring, surveys for optical deflection of movements, etc. I'll share one specific challenge... in New York City, all of the natural gas comes from the Marcellus Shale. It comes through pipelines in an area where it's becoming more and more challenging to build pipelines. There's actually a pipeline that the utility company is trying to build right now under Rockaway Beach, but they can't build it and there's no more natural gas in Long Island. I was on the phone recently with a gas company asking them where to put the meter when I learned about this. All of a sudden, we have to redesign the building without natural gas, which is a good thing because we’ll be able to transition the building off [of] fossil fuels. It's a challenge that will ultimately have a positive impact in the design. All things considered, it's been a very long and challenging process. What type of projects do you hope to work on in the future? What do you see as the trajectory of your firm going forward? Karolina: Housing is definitely on our mind and we want to work on housing at a variety of scales… single and multi-family, affordable, senior, etc. It's something that we're planning on working on for a long time. But, of course, we have other interests. We understand that housing is not the only component of the city. We've been looking at public amenities and infrastructures that also constitute the city. Adam: Working on public and cultural projects is an ambition. But we’d be happy to do parking garages, too. We’re not thinking of the future of the office solely in terms of typology. We want to work with really enlightened, ambitious clients who see the value of design. How do you allocate resources for research? Does your research generate revenue or are you using revenue from other projects to fund your research? Adam: To be honest, we’re not terribly successful in managing time or money in the office. It's difficult. We both teach and are very fortunate to be supported by academic institutions. We're not an office that has “bread and butter” work that we don't publish and that we're just doing to make money. A lot of offices do that. Our time is very valuable, and we can’t imagine working on something that we’re not invested in simply for financial gain. Karolina: Research also has potential to create other projects for us. We don't see it as research for the sake of research. It's always combined with something that we're teaching or that we're personally interested in. Adam: Maybe not connected to your question, but looking at all the practices that are being interviewed as part of this seminar… everyone is teaching. We have mixed feelings about the role of teaching and academia in our practice. On one hand, teaching and being connected to and supported by an academic environment facilitates and enables research. But on the other hand, teaching takes a lot of time. It's rewarding on many levels, but it sometimes feels difficult to devote enough time to both ends, as a teacher and scholar in the academic world and as architect, striving to make significant contributions to the built environment. What's been the most rewarding moment in your practice thus far? Adam: Architecture is a very difficult profession. We find pleasure in the act of design, as simple or complex as it may be. Having an opportunity to work on projects is incredibly rewarding in and of itself. We are not motivated by the outward accomplishments. It’s simply the ability to work on complex design problems, struggle through them, find a resolution… when everything clicks, it’s very rewarding.
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Brutalist Bulldozing

Paul Rudolph’s Shoreline Apartments are finally coming down in Buffalo
Paul Rudolph’s Brutalist Shoreline Apartments are finally under demolition in downtown Buffalo, New York after a three-year delay. A 2018 lawsuit filed in part by a resident had previously halted developer-owner Norstar Development from moving forward with razing the 9.5-acre site to make way for new affordable housing.  Built in 1974, the 142-unit complex rose at a time when Rudolph was experimenting with various Brutalist-style designs for the Western New York city, including the still-standing Niagara Falls Public Library. For Shoreline, the New York State Urban Development Corporation (UDC) brought him in to create a large-scale urban renewal project with a school, community center, and ample green space scattered throughout the site. Rudolph’s ambitious plan—which was never fully realized because the UDC ran out of money—was on view in a 1970 exhibition called Works in Progress at the Museum of Modern Art.  After just a few decades of use, the low-rise, ribbed concrete buildings, with their shed-style roofs and projecting balconies (reminiscent of Moshe Safdie’s Habitat 67), fell into disrepair as vacancies rose. The surrounding landscape, including the individual enclosed garden courts, were forgotten as people flocked further into Buffalo’s suburbs and away from high-density neighborhoods like Shoreline. Locals have been calling for the buildings’ demolition since the early 2000s, and the city worked up a deal with Norstar to configure an 18-building scheme in its place.  One round of demolitions occurred in 2015 after preservation groups failed to get the complex landmarked. A CityLab article from that same year profiled the remaining Shoreline resident, John Schmidt, who filed the lawsuit to stop Norstar’s plan. He noted that he loved living there, but he recognized how badly the building needed attention. Due to eventual poor management, he said, and a general distaste for Brutalist architecture at the start of the millennia, the legacy of Shoreline waned like many similar low-income housing projects from that era.  Schmidt was evicted in January of 2018. Norstar has already completed construction on 48 new units on-site—replacing the first section of buildings that were demolished—but says it will take up to two years to build the entire complex.