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Detroit Design

Detroit Design 139 showcases how Detroiters are reshaping their neighborhoods
Detroit has always been a design-forward city, a fact made official back in 2015 when they were designated a UNESCO City of Design, the only in the United States. A center of architectural innovation, futuristic automotive design, boulevards meant to rival the Champs-Élysées, and one of the U.S.’s foremost collections of art, the city in recent years has gotten more attention for its bankruptcy, corruption, and mass foreclosures and vacancy.  But, as Olga Stella, executive director of Design Core Detroit, a partner organization which “champions design-driven businesses and their role in strengthening Detroit’s economy,” points out, “Detroit is not and never has been just one thing.” Throughout its expansive 139 square miles, many are working to create neighborhoods and a city that works for them. Design doesn’t just happen at the rarefied scale of a Beaux Arts museum, it happens in and by communities who work to create a city they want to live in. These projects are being celebrated at the second iteration of Detroit Design 139 (DD139), a serial exhibition co-organized by the City of Detroit, Design Core Detroit, and developer Bedrock. Members from each organization, as well as nine others, served on the advisory board. The projects were selected by a jury of design notables, both from Detroit and other cities, including New York City Public Design Commission executive director Justin Garrett Moore and Detroit-based equitable development strategist Lauren Hood. With the main showcase at street level in downtown Detroit in a Bedrock-owned building, as well as at three partner locations throughout the city, celebrates 70 projects under five thematic headings that, according to the organizers and jurors, embody DD139’s 2019 theme of "Inclusive Futures".  “All of us working on design problems and projects should be holding ourselves to higher standards,” said Melissa Dittmer, Bedrock’s chief design officer, of the ethos of inclusion ostensibly showcased in the exhibition, which features projects built in the last two years or to be built in the next three. The projects were laid out rather blandly like a well-executed science fair or a real-life PDF, with posters along temporary slatted walls and the occasional model or video. Stella said that, historically, “In a city that doesn’t have a lot of capital [the question of] ‘how are we going to pay for it?’ was guiding decisions, not design solutions,” noting that it was a developer-driven process, with Maurice Cox, Detroit’s outgoing planning and development director. (Cox was also on the advisory committee of DD139.) Dittmer says there was a need for new building to begin “prioritizing the process as much as the outcomes,” something many of the projects exhibited; for example a cafe-laundromat combo, The Commons, designed by the local firm LAAVU in a process which founder and chief design officer Kaija E. Wuollet explains, began by collectively creating a strategic plan to inform the design, building, and operations. The choice in amenities was guided by neighbor requests and they act as not only a space in their own right, but a revenue stream for the non-profit MACC Development, which provides literacy programs, coworking space, artistic opportunities, and other community resources right within the building. This was a recurring theme: neighborhood-focused and neighborhood-led design solutions are a strength of Detroit now and could be what shapes the city's future. But, another recurring theme that the MACC project implies is that due to a dearth of government support, many private organizations have had to pick up the slack. That said, some public programs were featured in the exhibition, perhaps among the most noteworthy for designers, the Michigan ArcPrep program, a public school architecture initiative led by the University of Michigan's Taubman College. Even restaurants were in the exhibition. In community engagement workshops, residents in the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood expressed a desire for more places to eat and more Black-owned businesses. With the help of a Motor City Match grant, Norma G’s was opened by Lester Gouvia. Kaitlynn Hill, one of the project’s architects from Hamilton Anderson Associates, said she saw this as “a community-based project,” as much as a commercial enterprise. Other Detroit mainstays made the cut for the exhibition. The legendary Pewabic Pottery, whose distinctive glazed tiles that adorn high-rise facades and fireplaces alike are still made in small batches in Detroit, had recently undergone an expansion with the help of inFORM Studio. While the expansion added more workspace, it also helped Pewabic—which is organized as a non-profit—further advance their public mission. Like the original 1903 structure, this new building is close to the residential street. In addition to a shop, museum, and classroom space, there is also an open courtyard with a large mural that hosts events or allows passersby to come in and chill for a bit. In addition, Pewabic goes into communities with portable kilns, keeping design heritage alive and inviting others to participate in it. Many cultural projects were featured, including a skatepark-slash-sculpture park and public mural initiatives. One particularly intriguing project highlighted was the Detroit Historical Society’s Detroit 67, which investigated the legacy of Detroit’s 1967 rebellion in a “community engagement” project by collecting oral histories, producing an exhibition, and providing grants to “placemaking” projects. Some of the projects include an LGBT-focused community garden, an outdoor theater space focused on the Black, Latinx, and Arab communities of Detroit, and a memorial to those who lost their lives around the time of the uprising. There were a number of environmentally-focused projects, both grassroots and large scale, a balance and comparison that was interesting to see. Some included academic research on stormwater management interventions, the Zero Net Energy Center, rain gardens, and an upcycled windmill Projects with international design pedigree also appeared: David Adjaye and New York’s Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates have designed a pavilion and other structures for the Ralph C. Wilson Centennial Park, which, when it’s open, will be part of a network of riverside parks and greenways in an area that was once home to abandoned manufacturing plants. The park is currently overseen by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy However, on a tour through the Dequindre Cut, a rail-trail connected to the riverfront, on a Sunday when it was clearly being enjoyed by many, it was mentioned by an employee of the Conservancy that many houseless people formerly lived on the trail. In fact, this was mentioned many places, but inquiries made into where those people went and whether these “inclusive” projects accounted for housing access for those they were displacing remained mostly unanswered. While houselessness is declining in Detroit and new projects like the short-term housing Pope Francis Center (not exhibited) are on their way to reality, police have also been known to sweep away the belongings of the houseless, even in the dead of winter. If this park is for everyone, what about those who called it home?  In this second iteration of DD139, the choice was made to include projects from other UNESCO Cities of Design, like Saint-Étienne, France, and Montreal, which are using design to address many of the same challenges faced in Detroit. The organizers hope that this can help create a dialogue and show the fact that Detroit, though a unique situation, is not alone, and that everything from new elder caregiving studies in Singapore to canal projects in Mexico City could help Detroit think through its own unique challenges. However, how every project fit in seemed unclear. A project, the Ruth Ellis Clairmount Center, to help give homes and resources such as jobs and healthcare to houseless youth and those at risk of houselessness, especially LGBTQ+ kids who make up as much as 40% of this country’s houseless population, are undeniably necessary, ameliorative projects. However, on the poster for a banal mixed-use and mixed-income housing development the description of why the project is inclusive reads: “The project has gone through extensive design iterations, city vetting, and community engagement processes to ensure it captures neighborhood feedback. Meetings around the community were offered in both English and Spanish, with translators and/or translation equipment at every meeting, making it as accessible as possible for community members.” Is this not the bare minimum we should expect? Pair that with the bare minimum in architectural quick-build tastelessness by the Philadelphia firm SITIO and one has to wonder what sort of definition of “design” is at play here.  Some projects are more design-y than others. Pewabic Pottery, the Symbiotic Landscape watershed restoration, a digital mapping project that proposes using architectural and urban interventions to fight Detroit’s “digital divide”—these all make design part-and-parcel of their mission, and they're realizing that mission. An entrepreneurship incubator or a bakery in a mixed-use development, Core City, which some Detroiters I spoke with expressed distrust of, might be interesting, or at least tasty, but is it necessarily a “design” solution? Is a building in and of itself using design to address these so-called civic challenges, let alone being inclusive by and through design? This vagueness of mission and indeterminate take on the role of design in some projects points out a bigger issue. The project’s main sponsor and proponent, one of the three partner organizers, Bedrock, has undeniably reshaped downtown Detroit, perhaps in ways, some residents might see as for the better. From the design-forward Shinola Hotel to the forthcoming first foray by the fast-fashion retailer H&M to the revamp of the 475-foot-tall Book Tower, a magnificent and delirious example of early 20th-century architecture that has sat unoccupied for a decade, downtown Detroit is increasingly lively (and increasingly expensive). And, fitting with the exhibition's theme, “Creating unique, inclusive experiences through real estate is Bedrock’s mission,” claims a Bedrock press release. Yet, as the Detroit Free Press has recently revealed, Bedrock has gotten huge swaths of downtown property at little cost, with many incentives and tax breaks, and with an unheard of lack of financial oversight. Also, Bedrock has leveraged their power to strong-arm Michigan’s OSHA into looking away from their safety violations while “lecturing” inspectors on how to do their jobs. Is creating buildings without protecting working people inclusive? In addition, while Bedrock has been touting their successful bid to redevelop the site of the so-called “fail jail,” turning this long-vacant lot into usable space, this deal was negotiated with Wayne County by allowing Rock Ventures, another Dan Gilbert organization and Bedrock’s parent company, to construct that county’s jail, presumably without sullying Bedrock’s name. How can one claim to not only celebrate inclusive design but create "inclusive experiences," while supporting the creation of one of the United States’ most powerful and inarguably racist tools of social and mortal death?  Perhaps the theme, "Inclusive Futures", says it all: a virtuous-sounding word like “inclusive” can itself often be so inclusive as to be virtually meaningless, a rhetorical throwaway. Because what is “inclusion”—and what “inclusive futures” are possible—without equity, without reparations, without an effort to shift the balance of political and economic power? While many grassroots projects and even larger scale ones featured in DD139 are compelling, worthy, and deserve the spotlight, with the ongoing efforts of the exhibition’s primary sponsor Bedrock to stymy state oversight, build jails, and get land cheaply, you wind up not only with misplaced good intentions—you get design washing. DD139 is on view in Detroit through September 30th. You can read more about the projects here.
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Clay Bae

Architectural terra-cotta is advancing in Buffalo, New York
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Now in its fourth consecutive year, the Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop (ACAW) has reached a new level of maturity. The annual conference, hosted in Buffalo, New York, counted a total of nine teams hailing from leading architectural and engineering firms across the country. For attendees, the gathering is an opportunity to part the veil behind the architectural terra-cotta manufacturing process, experiment with new concepts, and physically transform them into full-scale prototypes.  The collaborative project is the product of an ongoing partnership between manufacturer Boston Valley Terra Cotta (BVTC) and the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning (UB/a+p); engineering firm Walter P Moore served as an additional sponsor for the event. Buffalo, New York is home to a broad range of 20th-century architectural heritage. It should then come, perhaps, as no surprise that BVTC made its bones in the field of architectural preservation. The company, originally founded in 1889 as Boston Valley Pottery, was purchased by the Krouse family in 1981 who converted the operation into a manufacturer of architectural components. Beginning with local restoration projects such as Louis Sullivan's Guaranty Building, BVTC has since partnered with UB/a+p in the use of digital documentation to mass-produce historic architectural pieces. The use of digital design has facilitated BVTC's ascent in the field of custom terra-cotta assemblies; current projects range from Kohn Pedersen Fox's (KPF) supertall One Vanderbilt to Morphosis's Orange County Museum of Art The teams were made up of new attendees and familiar faces who had developed their prototype concepts in the months leading up to the conference. The prototypes largely followed the ACAW statement of intent, which encouraged an exploration of the intersection between ceramic furniture and cladding. Projects ranged from SHoP Architects' self-supporting structure formed of interlocking terra-cotta units to KPF's manipulation of geometry and glaze embedded atop a concrete panel. There was also a significant alteration to the overall procedure of the conference. Andy Brayman, founder of the Kansas City ceramics collaborative Matter Factory and past ACAW attendee, recently partnered with BVTC to develop the company's first off-site Research & Development Lab within his own facility. "This strategy is helpful when taking on the ACAW projects which by their very nature contain at least one element (and often several) that could be considered experimental," said Brayman. "The bulk of the technical know-how comes from BVTC and it is augmented by research that has been done at the Matter Factory. Taking the projects out of the main factory that is focused on the production of existing jobs allows a different dynamic to take place." The conditions present at the BVTC are effectively replicated at the Kansas City collaborative as the gas-fired kilns are produced and calibrated by the same Italian manufacturer. Keynote speakers, many of them also workshop attendees, included Andy Brayman;  Dr. William M. Carty, a ceramics professor at Alfred University; Billie Faircloth, partner at KieranTimberlake; Sara Lopergolo, partner at Selldorf Architects; Sameer Kumar, director of enclosure design at SHoP Architects; Jason Vollen, vice president High Performance Buildings AECOM. What is the overarching goal of this annual earthenware gathering? According to UB/a+p associate professor and conference organizer Omar Khan, "ACAW’s ambition is to make Western New York a recognized center for architectural ceramic research. It is the only one of its kind and we feel that it will influence design and innovation in terracotta usage. From this year’s success, we are already receiving many inquiries to participate next year but our intention will be to internationalize the participants to some extent. This will put other issues and traditions in the mix, which we feel will help us better address more global concerns." Let's see what the future has in store for this corner of the Empire State.
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Concrete Ideas

Protestors shut down the New Museum’s IdeasCity Bronx
IdeasCity Bronx, a festival organized by the New Museum and scheduled for this past Saturday, was canceled shortly after the programming began. Held at Concrete Plant Park on the Bronx River, the festival was supposed to feature discussions, performances, and workshops by artists, architects, and local community organizations as a way to address “the physical, social, and economic forces that define the Bronx and other cities.” Themed “New Ecologies 3755,” many of the discussions were to be centered around the effects of global climate change but also how they relate to Bronx communities, but plans were derailed after protesters intervened. During the event’s opening talk by V. Mitch McEwen, the festival’s curator, a group of activists to the side of the stage interrupted the proceedings with a speech of their own, leading to about 30 minutes of heated back-and-forth between the protesters and the scheduled speakers, ultimately ending with the day’s events being canceled. Prior to the festival’s commencement, a few Bronx grassroots organizations scheduled to participate, including DreamYard, Take Back the Bronx, and No New Jails, had already withdrawn. Other groups, such as Bronx-based arts organization Hydro Punk, had declined the offer to participate from the beginning. During her opening remarks, McEwen passed the microphone to Tiara Torres, one of the protesters from Hydro Punk, who stated, “New Museum has never invested anything into the Bronx. This is a one-day event. They are not contributing any long term financial backing or support into any of the ideas that come from today.” According to Hyperallergic, the activist went on to say that they had declined to participate after finding out that the events were being promoted by the real-estate company South Bronx Luxury. McEwen told AN that the organization had received no financial support from real estate developers. Highlights from the event were supposed to include a keynote discussion by Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman, but after attempting to speak during the protesters’ interruptions, Cruz and Forman did not continue with their presentation. But the site was the biggest point of tension, to be sure. Concrete Plant Park is located in the Southern Boulevard part of the Bronx, a neighborhood that activists say is actively being threatened by “gentrification-driven rezoning.” McEwen explained to AN that the location wasn’t the first choice to begin with. Since its opening in 2011, IdeasCity New York was staged across from the New Museum in Manhattan along the Bowery, but with ongoing conversations surrounding new ideas in ecology, the Bronx seemed like a better fit. McEwen said, “we started to map out sites on the Bronx River and other waterways believing that this borough defined by waterways is more complex and robust than Manhattan.” They had anticipated the site to be located near the Soundview Ferry Terminal, but according to McEwen, they were “strongly encouraged to move” by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. “We should not have been in [Concrete Plant Park],” she said, while also agreeing that many of the protester’s points were “brilliant and spot-on” and were even “aligned with the framework of how we organized IdeasCity” to begin with. 
 
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The DreamYard Project will no longer be participating in IdeasCity Bronx—based on the lack of clarity, collaboration and communication in the planning of IdeasCity Bronx, as well as the compromised integrity of DreamYard’s community-centered values. . Three months ago, we were approached by IdeasCity for the opportunity to uplift our young people and community’s work around Arts and Activism. We were asked to collaborate in organizing a panel discussion, a student performance and community-based organization /activism booths; since then, a small team of DreamYard staff members have worked diligently to organize these parts of the event, and ensure fair compensation for our young people and representing CBOs that we have asked to get involved in this event. DreamYard staff members initially created a panel discussion on the relationship between politics and grassroots movement, “Who’s Got the Power?” which centered a young DreamYard participant, and a DreamYard alumna and current staff member. Since then, IdeasCity renamed the panel discussion we were organizing, shifted the original intention of the discussion (shaped by intentional labor of Black Indigenous Queer Femmes), and was essentially handed over to another party who was not involved in the concept, the process, nor the work we do and are seeking to uplift. We do not feel safe having our young people participate, nor having DreamYard’s name further implicated in what has turned out not to be a collaboration, but something in which DreamYard’s name has seemingly been used as merely a means to an end. . We entered this collaboration in good faith, and since then have been made aware of the missteps inherent in the planning of IdeasCity. Based on the feedback from the community as well as the challenges in planning this event, we have decided not to participate in IdeasCity Bronx. . <Continued in comments>

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In a public statement McEwen made on Twitter, she ends with a series of questions aimed to open dialogue and to keep the conversation going. “NYC Parks Department—I have no words,” she asks, “what would a functional democratic process around public space look like for New York City?” She urges for a “radical imagining” of the spaces in which we exchange knowledge outside of the academic institution, and of a place where the pain expressed by the protestors can “coexist in dialogue with the technical, creative, and spatial work involved in change.” In a statement shared via email, the New Museum told AN:
We wholeheartedly support V. Mitch McEwen’s curatorial vision for IdeasCity over the past year, and the ciphers and convenings that have advanced thinking in significant directions. We believe it is more important than ever to continue to provide platforms for productive dialogue, debate, and healing in a challenging and divided world. Knowing this can only happen through deeper engagement, proximity, authentic and time-tested connectivity, and sustained commitment, IdeasCity will continue to organize events in the hope that, going forward, groups of every type can come together, voicing differences, but collaborating on possible futures.
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Place Your Bets

Last home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright will be auctioned off
As impossible as it may sound, Frank Lloyd Wright is credited as the architect of over 532 structures throughout the world. His refusal to retire, even at the end of his life at 91, led to the design of some of his most beloved works, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Price Tower, and the Marin County Civic Center. On September 19, it was announced that a sale through Heritage Auctions will be held for the Norman Lykes House, the very last building Wright ever designed. On a rocky desert bluff at the edge of Arizona’s Phoenix Mountain Preserve, the Norman Lykes House—also known as the Circular Sun House—represents a culmination of so many of Wright’s signature design gestures: it is airy and curvilinear like his later works, yet it is also long and low to the ground akin to his earlier Prairie homes. It is reportedly only one of fourteen circular homes the architect designed, and might be the only one to feature a crescent-shaped pool enclosed by a cylindrical wall punctured by circles. Smooth concrete blocks and built-in handcrafted Philippine mahogany furniture constitutes the majority of the home’s material palette. “It's not just that it’s a Frank Lloyd Wright home that makes it sellable,” said Jack Luciano, a partner with the Heritage Agency, “but that it’s a Frank Lloyd Wright house that is livable." Wright designed the home in 1959 for clients Norman and Amy Lykes, and his apprentice John Rattenbury was appointed to oversee the project during its eight years of construction. In 1994, Rattenbury was invited back to the home to oversee major changes, including the enlargement of the master bedroom (which reduced the number of bedrooms from five to three) and the conversion of its former workshop into a home theatre. Though there will be no minimum bid set on the property, it is expected to exceed its most recent purchase of $2.6 million. The winner of the 3,100-square-foot home will also receive all of Wright’s furniture currently on the property. “We want to make sure the person that buys this house maintains the integrity of the home, remodels it, keeps it and loves it just like the former two owners have,” said Luciano. Interested buyers and agents can attend the auction within the home on October 16.
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Old Bay, New Bay

Johns Hopkins unveils design details for its Renzo Piano-designed Agora Institute
Last September, Johns Hopkins University announced that they had hired Pritzer Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano to design a home for The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute at the university’s Homewood Campus in Baltimore. Yesterday, the first glimpse of these plans were unveiled to city officials and according to The Baltimore Sun, elicited mixed reviews.  The project was established in 2017 through a $150 million dollar gift from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, an interdisciplinary academic forum “committed to strengthening global democracy through powerful civic engagement and informed inclusive dialogue.” Piano stated in a press release that “The building is designed to reflect these priorities, in design, materials, and accessibility.” Accordingly, the design currently features two “floating” glass hemispheres that are said to embody the institute’s commitment to transparency and open dialogue. While intellectually stimulating, the city’s Urban Design and Architecture Advisory Panel voiced concern that the large glass cubes might have the opposite effect on those outside of the campus community.  However, the University is hopeful about its new addition to Wyman Park Drive. “This new building promises to be a gathering place for scholars and citizens to model the robust exchanges of ideas that are essential for healthy democracies,” said Johns Hopkins University president Ronald J. Daniels. It is expected to house faculty offices, labs, and graduate student spaces as well as coworking areas. Reflecting on the spirit and purpose of the Greek Athenian Agora (Piano took a similar Grecian approach with Columbia's Forum), the building will also feature community space for conferences, art exhibitions, and a rooftop terrace.  Partner Mark Carroll is leading the project on behalf of the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, who have partnered with the Baltimore-based firm Ayers Saint Gross. The architects will attempt to meet, at minimum, LEED Silver Certification for their sustainability target. Lee Coyle, Hopkins’ director of planning and architecture told Baltimore Fishbowl, “we think it’s an opportunity for Johns Hopkins University to make a statement about commitment to sustainability as a true world issue.” Construction is expected to begin in Fall 2020 and conclude by Summer 2022. In addition to the Agora Institute, Hopkins is also planning on giving new life to the nearby old Baltimore Marine Hospital. An architect has yet to be selected for that undertaking. 
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Windy City Enclosure

Edward Peck discusses enclosure technology and Facades+ Chicago
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On September 27, The Architect's Newspaper is returning to the Great Lakes for the sixth time to host Facades+ Chicago. The city is no stranger to architectural innovation, pioneering steel-frame construction, and the curtain walled skyscraper. The conference is, in effect, an appraisal of the most recent projects and research that keep Chicago ahead of the curve in architectural design and technology. Participants for the conference symposium and workshops are leading practitioners based in Chicago and the Midwest, including Brininstool + Lynch, the Chicago Department of Buildings, Gensler, Heitman Architects, Krueck + Sexton Architects, the Passive House Institute US, Sentech Architectural Systems, Sterling Bay, Thornton Tomasetti, and WJE. Edward Peck, managing director of Edward Peck Design and a facade expert with decades of experience, collaborated with AN as co-chair of the conference to curate the program and will also present on the panel "Ongoing Advancements in Glass Technology: From Smart Coatings to Connection Design," which will  be expanded upon as an afternoon workshop. In this interview with AN, Peck discusses the themes and objectives of the upcoming conference. AN: Research and Innovation are at the forefront of this year’s conference in Chicago. What lessons do you hope will be garnered by the audience? Edward Peck: Correct. At this conference, we want to draw the connection between the two. To innovate, one needs to invest time and effort into Research (R&D). We are a profession where every project is a prototype yet we find ourselves with less and less time for the integration of Research and Advanced Analytics but to build meaningful architecture that is inspirational, sustainable and resilient we will need to find better ways to perform and collaborate on Research and new Innovations to meet the environmental challenges of today and tomorrow. AN: How are firms in Chicago impacting design across the country and perhaps globally? EP: Architects in Chicago have a rich history for impacting architecture and urban conditions globally. We have a collective body of progressive work around the world-leading innovations in sustainability, performance and structural force pushing towers to new heights. With this comes a body of innovative engineers that are our primary collaborators on these projects enriching the entire practice of architecture and enabling Chicago to maintain our position as a critical thought leader in progressive architecture. AN: What do you perceive to be the most interesting design trends within Chicago today? EP: I try to stay away from trends. One needs to focus on the building’s performance; both its impact on the environment and the user while understanding its urban or contextual integration. If these conditions are your focus your work will transcend trends. I believe the Trumpf Smart Factory, a featured project at this conference does that; it is focused on its program while also exhibiting the values and capabilities of Trumpf as a company. AN: Facade materials are undergoing a significant evolution due to advanced research. Are there any specific materials we should be paying attention to? EP: I think smart or dynamic building skins and systems are worth paying attention to – There are a lot of products that are now moving into their second generation making them more attractive and feasible in the market. Buildings must perform in a wide range of conditions, systems that can adapt or transition within this range will undoubtedly be integrated into future designs. Further information regarding Facades+ Chicago can be found here.
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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.”
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Green Scene

What to see during Climate Week NYC 2019
Climate Week NYC 2019 kicks off next week with hundreds of events, panels, and dialogues around climate change and its diverse intersections with the city, from transportation to urban farming. Here we’ve rounded up some of the best events surrounding design and the built environment not to miss.  Oceanic Global x Arcadia Earth Arcadia Earth has just opened a six-month multi-sensory, experiential art exhibition at 718 Broadway, curated by the nonprofit Oceanic Global. The ocean conservation body has described the space as a place to host and foster “climate change artivism” and bring together leaders in the field. For Climate Week, Arcadia Earth will also be hosting a series of lectures and panels at the venue, thematically organized around issues of ocean conservation. Professionals ranging from landscape architect Emily Bauer to climate scientist Richard Seager will discuss new paths and options for the future of their fields.  RSVP for a lecture here Pitch Finale - Access Cities  This summer, Access Cities, an international alliance for sustainable urban development, partnered with the City of New York to solicit submissions through an open innovation call addressing air quality and urban “heat island” effects, two pressing issues that New York and cities around the world are facing. Join to see the finalists announced, as they pitch to a final panel of judges, as well as a panel discussion with mayoral representatives from New York and Copenhagen—topics will include city-to-city collaboration on a myriad of climate-related issues and even a comedy show. Organized by Danish Cleantech Hub   AI Sustainable Development Summit This day-long summit is designed to bring guest speakers, international representatives, and scholars together to envision how AI technologies can, or should, accelerate the world towards the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. Keynote speeches, as well as hands-on workshops, will address current issues affecting promising frontier technologies and open discourse for industry leaders to offer solutions. The AI Sustainable Development Summit was organized by UN advisors and technologists. Making NY an Offshore Wind Hub  Many coastal states have taken steps to support and incite wind energy jobs and development, some even offering rewards for the first scaled ventures. New York has the potential to become a leader in the renewable wind industry, and this breakfast panel brings together industry leaders looking to explore how New York has opened up opportunities for wind business, and what else can be done.  You can register for the event here International Pathways: Cities Decarbonizing Buildings  The Japan Climate Initiative and the Building Energy Exchange are hosting this international showcase of cutting-edge city policies supporting climate initiatives and action. Many of the world’s largest cities boast mature transit systems and little heavy industry, but their buildings are responsible for a large amount of energy consumption and carbon emissions. This event and invited guest speakers will explore practical to radical solutions to the decarbonization of buildings and cities, reducing emissions from existing as well as future building projects.  Climate Smart Cities in Small Island Developing States The Marron Institute at New York University will present their findings and experiences working with The Green Climate Fund on small island developing states, or SIDS, during this event. As sea-level rise threatens the coastlines and cities of island nations, this panel will focus on solutions to how islands can be more resilient. Addressing the areas of urban expansion, grey and green resilience infrastructure, community and governance in the context of the Institute’s experience in Grenada, the panel will be hosted by a Climate Smart Cities expert.  Register for the event here EV + Clean Energy Happy Hour Climate Nexus has organized an official Climate Week happy hour for good, facilitating conversation between experts in both the public and private sectors as well as media professionals. With a focus on electric vehicles and clean energy initiatives, this is an opportunity to learn, mingle, and savor small bites and refreshments at Draught 55 from 6-8pm to end a long day of Climate Week events. Email mmiceli@climatenexus.org to request an invitation.
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In Memoriam

Former SFMOMA curator and Glass House director Henry Urbach dies at 56
Curator, art dealer, and writer Henry Urbach has died at the age of 56. The former head of architecture and design at SFMOMA and director of Phillip Johnson's The Glass House passed away after struggling with Late-Onset Bipolar Disorder on Saturday at his home in Tel Aviv, Israel. A native of New Jersey, Urbach received his bachelor’s in the history and theory of architecture from Princeton University and completed two master’s degrees, one in architecture at Columbia University and the other at his alma mater in the former field of study. He opened his own experimental design gallery, Henry Urbach Architecture, in 1997, which quickly expanded his influence and connections within the realm of contemporary art and architecture. There he hosted over 55 exhibitions before closing up shop in New York.  Urbach joined SFMOMA in 2006 as the Helen Hilton Raiser Curator of Architecture and Design, a position he served in for five years. Among his most famous exhibitions was How Wine Became Modern: Design + Wine 1976 to Now, a collaboration with Diller Scofidio + Renfro put on during the last few months of his tenure. He also accumulated hundreds of works for SFMOMA’s permanent collection including the inflatable building by Alex Schweder from the 2009 showcase, Sensate: Bodies and Design.   From San Francisco, Urbach relocated to the East Coast to oversee The Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, in 2012. AN’s editor in chief Bill Menking spoke with him in 2017 about his career and his recent transition to Tel Aviv for a sabbatical period during which he taught at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and worked on various writing projects. During his near-three decades in the profession, Urbach penned articles for various journals and co-authored books on architectural history, theory, and criticism. He was a contributing editor for Interior Design magazine and wrote for outlets such as The Architect’s Newspaper, Metropolis, Artforum, and more. Urbach is survived by his parents, siblings, his husband and partner of 35 years, Stephen Hartman, and partner of two years, Ronen Amira.  Family and friends are asking for donations to be made in his honor to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
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Exhibit Columbus 2019 celebrates the value of good design and community

In a small Indiana town, a rich architectural legacy is celebrated with an annual exploration of architecture, art, design, and community. In its second exhibition run (it’s first in 2017) Exhibit Columbus features 18 site-responsive installations that use Columbus, Indiana’s heritage as inspiration and context while highlighting the role that community plays in growing a vibrant city. This year’s exhibition explores “good design” and “community,” a reference to the 1986 exhibition Good Design and the Community: Columbus, Indiana at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. The early exhibit championed town business leader and philanthropist J. Irwin Miller’s hometown pride by emphasizing the community’s process and involvement in building renowned architecture. As his community-based, activist approach resurges to mold this year’s theme, Exhibit Columbus becomes an architectural showcase aimed at doing good for the people. Bryony Roberts Studio’s Soft Civic is a complimentary showstopper to arguably the most civic site of the exhibition, Columbus’ City Hall, designed by Edward Charles Bassett of SOM (1981). The two cantilevered steel beams masked in brick veneer, generous lawn, and lengthy walkway toward a broad staircase frames the collection of colorful woven and steel structures. The installation articulates the many different vantage points afforded in civic life—play, performance, or protest; on the lawn, the steps, or at the front door. The solid brick planar facade that meets a clear glazed half-circle atrium fundamentally shapes the installation. These elements reveal layers of circles that slice (at an angle) and frame (vertically or horizontally) a new reading of the municipal building. The installation will offer programming opportunities for the community, including but not limited to a democracy day and youth summit with musical performances. An interview with Bryony Roberts in collaboration with Brooklyn-based textile workshop Powerhouse Arts describes the laborious process of weaving the large structures. (Courtesy Spirit of Space) Understorey, a project by Hans Tursak (MIT School of Architecture + Planning) and Viola Ago (the Ohio State University Knowlton School of Architecture), is an open-air vivarium, a place of life, built from a combination of off-the-shelf agricultural products and custom, digitally fabricated structural elements. Understorey is an ecological education center (like many of this year’s installations) that highlights a cross-section of southern Indiana’s geological specimens taken from quarries, forests, and urban sites. The pavilion is an architectural expression devoid of aesthetic neglect commonly seen in environmentally conscious design.  Corn is no surprise in Indiana. The leading crop covers one-quarter of the state and is traditionally processed as animal feed and ethanol. Though Boston and Kigali, Rwanda-based MASS Design Group surprised Hoosiers with an already familiar scene in Corn / Meal. What. From the street view, the installation looks like a standard, well-maintained miniature cornfield. Upon entry, maze-like corridors made of corn lead to a tangled serpentine picnic table within a dedicated open clearing. When read as an absurdist, formalist sculpture referencing local tropes such as corn and the always-communal picnic table, it’s actually one of the more successful installations. An interview with Caitlin Taylor, MASS Design Group’s Design Director, as she describes the depth of research for Corn / Meal and the need for education around food production. (Courtesy Spirit of Space) PienZa Sostenible, led by architect Carlos Zedillo Velasco and his brother Rodrigo Zedillo Velasco, present Las Abejas, a series of homes for bees. The project brings internationally-recognized Mexican architects, like Tatiana Bilbao Estudio and Rozana Montiel Arquitectos, to share their countries’ expertise as regional leaders of apiculture products worldwide. Located in a humble Dan Kiley landscape in front of Eero Saarinen’s Irwin Conference Center (1954) visitors are encouraged to consider the importance of bees everywhere in order to sustain our food and environment. Two remaining installations from the inaugural exhibition aren’t leftovers but more so savor-the-flavor of a less-didactic exhibition concerning architecture. Oyler Wu Collaborative’s all-white, tectonic pavilion, The Exchange, still notably stands in the plaza of the Irwin Conference Center, just moments away from PienZa Sostenible's bee homes. Nestled in a more intimate setting outside the William O. Hogue House, Formafantasma’s Window to Columbus originally pledged to display stories of materials that were used to define Washington Street and Columbus. Though, for the Good Design and the Community opening weekend, the significant structure displayed this year’s marketing material. It reminds us that Exhibit Columbus’s impact goes beyond any one installation as the program leaves a lasting impact on the downtown, and more importantly, how people live and play downtown.
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North of the Border

Facades+ Toronto will dive into the trends of North America's fastest growing construction market
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On October 11, The Architect's Newspaper is bringing Facades+ to Toronto for the first time to discuss the architectural trends and technology reshaping the city and region. Toronto's KPMB Architects, an architectural practice with a global reach, is co-chairing the conference. Panels for the morning symposium will discuss KPMB Architects' decades-long collaboration with Transsolar Klima Engineering, the proliferation of timber construction across Canada and specifically its university campuses, and the adaptive reuse of Ontario's architectural heritage. The second portion of the conference, which occurs in the afternoon, will extend the dialogue with intensive workshops. Participants for the conference symposium and workshops include the Canada Green Building Council, the Carpenters' District Council of Ontario, the College of Carpenters, Diamond Schmitt Architects, ERA Architects, Kirkor Architects & Planners, Maffeis Engineering, Moses Structural Engineers, MJMA, NADAAA, RDH, and UL. In this interview with The Architect's Newspaper, KPMB's Director of Innovation Geoffrey Turnbull and Senior Associate David Constable, the conference co-chairs, discuss the theme of the symposium's first panel, "Dynamic Skins: A Conversation on Innovative Facades," an exploration of KPMB and Transsolar's use of double-glass facades. AN: KPMB & Transsolar’s collaboration began over a decade ago with the Manitoba Hydro Palace. Can you expand on the significance of the project, and how lessons learned from the collaboration were applied to future projects David Constable & Geoffrey Turnbull: Manitoba Hydro represented a turning point for KPMB in how the office approached sustainability, but more fundamentally, forced a re-think of the typical design process. This project demonstrated how building design and function may converge to become something greater than a sum of its parts. One of the first projects in North America to invest in a true IDP, or ‘Integrated Design Process’, the design team undertook a process with the client to bring all disciplines to the table at the very beginning of the project. Decisions were discussed and evaluated in detail with input from all disciplines, and the form and strategy for the project grew organically from that process. The first step in the integrated process was the development of a Project Charter, which became the guiding code against which all decisions were measured and validated. AN: How does the use of software inform Transsolar’s consulting during the design process? DC & GT: Transsolar has a high degree of in-house technical expertise in the physical sciences, as well as a deep well of experience on built projects. These capabilities, paired with advanced modeling tools, gives Transsolar a unique ability to develop strategies for projects from a first-principles perspective. As architects, this is transformative in terms of the possibilities that can arise from a collaboration with Transsolar. Where we would otherwise be limited to rules-of-thumb and best practices, working with Transsolar allows us to interrogate the particulars of a given project and derive solutions that are unique to that specific project. Manitoba Hydro Place is an excellent example of this… It’s not immediately obvious that, in a cold climate like Winnipeg, a glass office tower would make sense. By understanding the site, identifying what is unique about it (e.g. there is a very high degree of sunshine in Winnipeg for such a cold city), and then building a strategy around that, we were able to design a project that provides an exceptional degree of comfort for the occupants, a lot of natural daylight, and terrific views to the landscape, all while being one of the most energy-efficient buildings on the continent in a city with a seasonal temperature swing of 65 degrees. In addition, Transsolar uses Transys modeling software, which allows for robust, iterative testing of concepts at a small scale, allowing the team to quickly test assumptions and prove out specific relationships between building components. This process allows active components such as motorized operable windows and automated louver blind systems to be tested in a dynamic way. Elements such as wind, sun, and humidity can all be modeled and reviewed dynamically over the course of an entire year. AN: All of the projects to be discussed during "Dynamic Skins" possess double-glass facades. Can you elaborate on this feature and its merits? DC & GT: Ultimately, on any project where a double facade represents an optimal solution, this will be driven primarily by the desire to optimize the interior environment for occupants. These systems allow us to accomplish a host of optimizations that enhance comfort in the space: maximize daylighting while modulating glare, provide natural ventilation for a larger percentage of the year, minimize radiant asymmetries so that it’s comfortable to sit near the window in winter and summer, etc. Fundamentally the difference between a traditional facade and a double facade is this concept of static versus dynamic. Traditional facades are forced to implement one static condition throughout the entire course of the year. In a Canadian environment, this can represent a huge swing in conditions – temperature, radiance, wind, and humidity can all change radically and quickly. A double facade allows the building skin to become an active component in the life of a building. Windows and shading devices become active elements which remain in constant dialogue with both the interior and exterior environment and allow the building to adapt in real-time to its environment. Further information regarding Facades+ Toronto can be found here.
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Let in the light

Krueck + Sexton and Thornton Tomasetti bring undulating glass to Chicago's Mercantile Exchange
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Chicago's Krueck + Sexton Architects, a practice founded in 1979, has established a particular niche in the design and implementation of complex glass facades. Their projects present a significant range in terms of location and scale, ranging from the multiplanar Spertus Institute on Michigan Boulevard to a slew of private residences and the restoration of Mies van der Rohe's prestigious structures dotted throughout Chicagoland. Recently, the firm wrapped up a full revamp of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange's lobby with an undulating structural glass wall. Located on Lake Michigan, Chicago has served as country's primary inland entrepot for over a century—the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) was founded in 1898. The CME migrated to its current headquarters in 1987, a heavy granite-clad postmodern tower located immediately adjacent to the Chicago River. The design objective of the project was to establish an inviting and prominent facade for a structure in which over 10,000 people cross through daily, replacing 18 separate dark and weighty entrances.
  • Facade Manufacturer Roschmann Group Porcelanosa
  • Architect Krueck + Sexton Architects
  • Facade Installer Roschmann Group
  • Facade Engineer  Thornton Tomasetti
  • Location Chicago
  • Date of Completion 2019
  • System Custom structural glass system
  • Products Custom Roschmann IGU panels KRION Porcelanosa
The glass streetwall runs the entire width of the city block, weaving behind the square columns that form an encircling arcade. When developing the overall contour of the glass facade, Krueck + Sexton Architects analyzed the movement of surrounding pedestrians and inputted that information to follow the preexisting desire lines of foot traffic. Roschmann Group, the Germany-based manufacturer, handled the fabrication of the bespoke system. Each panel measures approximately 25-feet-by-four-feet and were installed using a custom-designed suction cup lifting device. "The glass is base loaded, and the glass fins provide support for lateral loads such as wind and inside and outside differential," said Krueck + Sexton Associate Principal Yugene Cha. "The top of the glass fin is held by a clever suspension system that can slide up and down and sideways allowing the building to move without breaking the glass." The street-level prominence of the facade, as well as the remarkable visibility of the oversized glass panels, required the implementation of direct and simple detailing where pane meets the ceiling, ground floor, and glass fin. The most challenging aspect of almost any project is the unforeseen conditions onsite after the commencement of construction. For the CME, frequent shifts in the grade below the street level required recalibrations of waterproofing details as well as glazing base plate design. It was critical to the success of the project to loop in the facade engineer, Thornton Tomasetti, from the point of conception. "First, Krueck + Sexton and Thornton Tomasetti worked together to develop a highly-detailed and complete facade package in the Schematic Design Phase, setting the project up for a successful Bidding Phase and Design Assist collaboration," said Thornton Tomasetti Senior Project Director Mark Chiu. "Second, Thornton Tomasetti pre-engineered the facade system’s glass sizes and thicknesses shown in the Schematic Design documents, validating the minimalist design details." Behind the structural glass facade, Krueck + Sexton placed a sophisticated system of 2,644 white synthetic-mineral panels that rise and curve to form the ceiling and continue outward to roof the arcade. The material is non-porous, allowing for straightforward maintenance. Krueck + Sexton Architects Founding Principal Mark P. Sexton and Thorton Tomasetti Senior Project Director Mark Chiu will be joining the panel "Ongoing Advancements in Glass Technology: From Smart Coatings to Connection Design" at the Architect's Newspaper's upcoming Facades+ Chicago conference on September 12. In the afternoon, the panel will be extended into an intensive three-hour workshop.