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Essexive Options

SHoP's Essex Street Market brings food hall glory to the LES
88 Essex Street New York Architect: SHoP Architects 917-881-7096 While food halls are “The Thing” developers build nowadays to lure Instagram-hungry foodies, an O.G. grocery and snack palace quietly thrived for almost 80 years on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The city-owned Essex Street Market, home to dozens of vendors, was a delightful institution where you could buy whole branzini, munch on empanadas, and get a haircut without leaving the building. While vendors thrived, economic pressures compelled the city to move the market from its old location. As of May 2019, the relocated food palace has a shorter name and bigger digs. Designed by New York’s SHoP Architects, the newly christened Essex Market’s slanted, scalloped ceilings echo vaulted subway stations and shed warm light on shoppers who wander between the 37 stalls or hunker down to eat in the mezzanine. SHoP collaborated with Hi-Lume Corp., which packed GFRG into textured molds to form the ceiling’s 3-D patterning. On the floor, ShoP worked with AGL Industries, Inc., a Queens-based steel company, on simple metal frames that vendors tailor to their concepts. Essex Market is part of Essex Crossing, a 20-acre development, with nine buildings and a master plan executed by SHoP. In October, the market will link to The Market Line, a subterranean corridor of food purveyors. Get ready to eat up.
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One to Watch

The Railyards in Sacramento will be America's next big urban development
A neglected parcel of land once home to a leg of the First Transcontinental Railroad could become the next Hudson Yards-like mega-development in the United States. The former Union Pacific Railyards spans 244-acres just north of downtown Sacramento, California,—the largest urban infill site in the country—and is currently being eyed for several large-scale projects. Built in the 1860s, the site served the western terminus of a 1,912-mile-long stretch of rail line that extended from Council Bluffs, Iowa, to the Oakland Long Wharf in San Francisco Bay. Old, existing brick buildings used as maintenance shops in the yard's heyday still exist on the massive industrial plot and serve up sour views for drivers along Interstate 5 or passengers on flights headed into the nearby airport.  Sacramento has long had a difficult relationship with the Railyards—environmental remediation has been ongoing for decades—but recent investment in the adjacent Downtown Commons district has brought in significant interest in revamping the underused land next door. For example, the Golden 1 Center, a new high-tech arena for the city’s NBA franchise, the Sacramento Kings, finished up construction in 2016 and has spurred the introduction of new hotels and businesses in the area.  Around the same time the venue was completed, the local city council approved a planning entitlement submitted by Downtown Railyard Ventures, a subsidiary of the development group, LDK Ventures, that bought the Railyards in 2010 for $18 million. The ambitious company has a masterplan to make the Union Pacific return to its roots as a central hub of activity and innovation. In the next several decades, The Railyards, as the project is formally being marketed, will become a mixed-use urban landscape made to attract local residents, tech workers, and tourists. In total, there’s set to be 30 acres of green space, 70,000 square feet of retail, up to 10,000 residential units, 5 million square feet of office space, a 1,000-room hotel, and a mass transit hub with a new Amtrak station.  Preservation will be a key component of redevelopment on the site—unlike at Hudson Yards—with the partial reuse of the “Central Shops” buildings and the old Southern Pacific Sacramento Depot. It’s suspected that this area will become some sort of tech district for the city. In addition, three major architectural projects already in the works will anchor the initial phase of development.  By far the biggest and most-talked-about development coming to Sacramento is a new, $250 million soccer stadium for a future MLS franchise. The city has been in talks to upgrade its own team, Republic FC, to major league status now that it’s secured long-term funding from billionaire businessman Ron Burkle. The proposed development would include a 20,000-seat sports and entertainment arena situated on 14-acres of the Railyards’ northeastern corner, as well as a surrounding 17-acres of commercial buildings and retail.  Visuals for the project have already been revealed by architecture and infrastructure engineering firm HNTB and feature a square-shaped, open-air bowl with red inverted triangles that wrap and protect a 360-degree canopy. Fans will have unencumbered views of the surrounding city from anywhere around the pitch. Housing is planned in between the arena and an upcoming 900,000-square-foot hospital by Kaiser Permanente. The healthcare giant announced in January that it had purchased 18 acres of land to build a state-of-the-art medical facility on the northwestern edge of the Railyards that will open in 2025 and offer services to the thousands of people who live downtown.  Other structures slated to come online include a light rail stop, two six-story office and retail buildings by RMW Architecture & Interiors, as well as a 175,000-square-foot museum. On the southernmost portion of the Railyards, there will be a 17-story complex housing the Sacramento County Courthouse. Designed by Miami-based studio MOTIV in collaboration with NBBJ, the largely-glass-clad structure is supposed to start construction this fall and open in 2023. 
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Art on the BART

Perkins + Will’s Destination Crenshaw is intended to empower the local community
For the city of Crenshaw, a historically black neighborhood in Los Angeles County, the initial symptoms of gentrification are beginning to make themselves present. Businesses and shops are closing down after decades of serving the community, the cost of housing is suspiciously skyrocketing while shops and cafes with variously esoteric titles are popping up along its main thoroughfares. “Gentrification is a crisis that threatens all elements of the work that we do,” said Damien Goodmon, executive director of the Crenshaw Subway Coalition. It's a workers issue. It's a public health issue. It's an education issue. It's an environment issue. It's a civil rights issue.” A 1.3-mile-long open-air museum along Crenshaw Boulevard, set to be completed by spring of next year, was designed to combat ensuing gentrification by empowering the community that has called the neighborhood homes for several decades. Titled Destination Crenshaw, the project was spearheaded by L.A. City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson and designed by architecture firm Perkins+Will, the same studio behind similarly-motivated projects, including Charlotte’s Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture and Washington DC’s National Museum of African American History. “Unlike traditional museums,” writes Perkins+Will, “Destination Crenshaw won’t be bound by walls or ceilings. The open-air, public art and cultural experience will feature architectural designs that capture the innovative and trailblazing spirit of Black L.A.” Destination Crenshaw was primarily devised as a pedestrian-friendly zone, complete with monuments, art, park space, and viewing platforms, and will also preserve and integrate the Crenshaw Wall, an 800-foot mural depicting images and icons from black history, painted by graffiti collective Rocking the Nation, into its overall design. However, the project is also designed to be visible from the Crenshaw/Los Angeles Airport (LAX) Metro Rail Line, an 8.5-mile-long light-rail system also set to be complete by spring of next year.  “We really wanted to look at how we [can] use the opportunity that the rail presents to solidify, to restore the historic African American community in Southern California,” said Harris-Dawson, “and doing it in a way that benefits the people who already live there.” Beyond its ability to tell the history of the storied neighborhood through the employment of local artists, Harris-Dawson also hopes Destination Crenshaw will become a catalyst for bringing back businesses operated by members of the local creative community as well as boost the region's economy. The goals laid out by the project inspired Perkins+Will to reimagine how a museum can enhance a neighborhood. “What was clear was being able to tell a very large story about this community being there for so long and also the contribution of all the major players and heroes that have come out of that community,” said Zena Howard, the lead architect at Perkins+Will. “We began thinking about how you could tell the story not in a chronological way, not like a history museum, not in a didactic way, but more in an experiential way.” While many see the project as a boon for the neighborhood, others are slower to consider it under such absolute terms. Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a longtime resident of Crenshaw and the president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, maintains that it is “unrealistic at best and a delusion at worst” to believe that Destination Crenshaw will halt the gentrification already present in the neighborhood.
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Commuter Consumers

Gare du Nord expansion critics speak out over commercializing the train station
“Indecent,” “absurd,” and “unacceptable”—these are a few of the adjectives used by Jean Nouvel and other architects and urban planners to denounce new plans for the Gare du Nord train station renovation in Paris. Proposed by S.N.C.F Gares & Connextions, the expansion of the largest train station in Europe by 1.2 million square feet would focus heavily on duty-free mall-like commercial development targeting suburban R.E.R commuters.  While the proposed transformation is not very different from other train station trends, from the Gare Saint-Lazare renovation to London’s Liverpool Street Station, the size and scope of this project have hit a sore spot for the French public. Nouvel and others wrote and signed on to an open letter published in this Tuesday’s edition of Le Monde outlining their objections. As a city that prides itself on the beauty and vivacity of its historic monuments, any alteration on the scale of the Gare du Nord prompts scrutiny, as the city fabric becomes more and more consumer and profit-oriented.  Bernard Landau, a former deputy director of urban planning at the city of Paris, told The New York Times that “it all goes into one question. Should we transform all train stations into shopping malls?”  The plans were described as “primarily for the daily commuters, the millions of users of the R.E.R. and the suburban trains,” by Claude Solard, chief executive of S.N.C.F. in the same article. Yet these commuters, who reside in the affluent suburbs of Paris, like Versailles, are often hurrying through, going from point A to B—yet the plans were proposed to be beneficial for those who have more time to use the added “amenities.” The extant Gare du Nord has been criticized heavily in the past for its hour-long delays, and passengers won’t be appeased in the face of cancellations by having more boutiques to browse.  In addition, opponents to the plan have pointed out that the added shops will increase the pressure suburban malls and retail are already feeling, making it more difficult to attract customers.  The open letter is a new chapter in what has been an ongoing debate amongst architects and urban planners in Europe: What should a modern train station look like? A coworking space and fitness facilities are also included in the proposals, which is scheduled to begin construction in early 2020.  As the city eyes the 2024 Summer Olympics, the Gare du Nord is poised to be a major player in moving people from the Charles de Gaulle airport as well as around the city to various events, in addition to being the termination point of the international high-speed Eurostar rail service. It is not a radical idea that station planning should be focused on pedestrian flow, efficient movement, and timely departures. While an expansion and modernization of the transit hub is called for, Parisian planners are demanding that the project's priorities should be shifted and that the designers should “rethink from floor to rafters.”
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Paving on Parker

Morphosis, Renzo Piano, SOM among shortlisted for civic office tower in L.A.
Less than three months after the controversial demolition of the Parker Center in downtown Los Angeles, a shortlist of high-profile architects has been released to head up the design of a new, 27-story municipal office tower in its place.  The $700 million “Los Angeles Street Civic Building Project” as it’s temporarily called, is being spearheaded by L.A. Bureau of Engineering and has been in the works for quite some time. The agency, which oversees the planning, design, and construction of all public buildings, infrastructure, and public spaces, first introduced the idea to raze the Parker Center, previously home to the city’s police department for 55 years, and build atop it in 2016. At the same time, the Cultural Heritage Commission was trying to get the aging building landmarked but failed to meet the deadline. The L.A. City Council ultimately approved the overall proposal in 2017 on the belief that a new tower would be less expensive than preserving and revamping the Parker Center’s 319,000-square-foot exterior envelope.  Though design details haven’t been released yet, the upcoming 450-foot tower is slated to contain 750,000-square-feet of office space with room for a conference center, a childcare facility, retail space, and an underground garage. Initial concepts for the project lightly reference the surrounding city buildings in the Civic Center District, including Los Angeles City Hall, a structure of similar height. Plans also call for a landscape that links pedestrians to Little Tokyo nearby, according to Urbanize L.A.  After issuing a request for qualifications this spring, the Bureau of Engineering reduced the five submissions it received down to a shortlist of three. Below are those finalists: DTLA Civic Partners, LLC This local team is led by SOM and Clark Construction, funded by Meridiam and Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate, and managed by ENGIE Services. LAC 3 Partners L.A.-based firm Morphosis is at the helm of LAC 3, which includes Hensel Phelps Construction, Macquarie Financial Holdings, and JLC Infrastructure, as well as Honeywell International in operations management.  Plenary Collaborative Los Angeles Smith Group and Renzo Piano Building Workshop are working together on the design for the project, while Webcor Construction, Plenary Group, and Johnson Controls will serve as the building, equity, and operations experts respectively.  Once this shortlist is approved by the L.A. Board of Public Works, an RFP will be presented to the City Council ahead of any further announcements. Construction is expected to start next year and end in 2023. 
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Cubic Spectrum

Taller KEN infuses color into Costa Rican fashion brand Hija de Tigre's new San José boutique
New York and Guatemala-based architecture practice Taller KEN has transformed a formerly unimpressive modernist block in San José, Costa Rica's trendy Escazú neighborhood into a multi-volume boutique for local fashion brand Hija de Tigre. Evoking the label's ethos and business structure—being run by women of different generations—the architecture and interiors project incorporates a full-color spectrum. Renovating an existing building, the firm added additional concrete volumes and did away with obstructive ornamentation to render a more perfect cluster of boxes. Inspired, in part, by Latin American architects Luis Barragán and Ricardo Bofill, the facade is clad in a tropical gradient that ties all components of the architecture together. “The facade is a consequence of the context," Taller KEN co-founder and principal Inés Guzmán said. "Until very recently, suburban San José was farmland. Today it is gated communities of houses and convenience malls and shopping centers. For us, the project was an opportunity to make the stand-alone building “stand out” and bring a fresh, hip and colorful vibe to the surroundings and break from the standard palette of new constructions you see around.” Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Dream Designs

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

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

Marcel Breuer’s Gargarin House I Litchfield, CT

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

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

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

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

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

Steven Holl-designed Catskills getaway Middleburgh, NY

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

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

Richard Neutra’s midcentury masterpiece Weston, CT

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Rudolph’s Milam Residence Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

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

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

Rafael Viñoly-designed head-turner Ridgefield, CT

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

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

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Digital Overload

ACADIA announces keynote speakers and awardees for 2019 conference
The Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA), an organization that connects architects and design professionals working with digital technology, has announced the awardees and recipients for its 2019 conference, which will be held this October at the University of Texas at Austin. Titled “Ubiquity and Autonomy,” ACADIA says this year’s conference will investigate “the blurred divide between analog and digital processes,” a division (or non-division) of increasing importance to both architecture and daily life. Through various presentations of papers and projects, participants will question how emerging technology might change both how architecture is done, and what architecture is. Keynotes will be given by Morphosis's founding principal Thom Mayne, Jakob + MacFarlane founding partner Dominique Jakob, and UNStudio senior associate Harlen Miller. Mayne will also be receiving the ACADIA 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award. Awards will also be given to Dana Cupkova, Roland Snooks, Jose Sanchez, and Chris Yessios, and the Master of Science in Digital and Material Technologies at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning will be recognized as well. Leading up to the conference, which takes place from October 24 to 26, there will be three days of workshops with titles such as: Digital Tailoring: Form-Fitting Bizarre and Provocative Typologies, an investigation of the meeting of architecture, fashion, and the body, and Freeform Fabrication: Hand-bending timber structures with intelligent holographic guides, which will look at mixed-reality solutions for timber construction.
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Made in Miami

Foster + Partners tops Apple Aventura with wavy white precast roof
Foster + Partners has broken out of its traditional glass-box bubble and designed a different kind of Apple Store—one that’s arguably distinct because it wasn’t built in a major city center, or within another development (and doesn't resemble a Macbook). Apple Aventura in Aventura, north of Miami is a piece of actual mall architecture that ripples above and beyond its predecessors in terms of design.  Located in a new wing of the posh Aventura Mall, the two-story building isn’t a huge departure from the firm’s other work for Apple. It is, in fact, boxy and of course includes trees inside. But the undulating white concrete roof evokes a certain feeling of fluidity in the bayside shopping center that doesn’t exist elsewhere.  “We love the honesty and purity of the concrete,” said Stefan Behling, head of studio at Foster + Partners in a press release.  Behling and the design team worked closely with Jonathan Ive, the former chief design officer of Apple. They said the building’s exterior design mimics Miami’s white art deco-style architecture, as well as its nautical design scene. “This store is very ‘Miami’ to me,” said Ive. “Its special trees, the light, and the new roof. It is also quintessentially Apple, marrying the outdoor lifestyle with a sense of freedom and creativity that is intrinsic to the way we work.”  According to Foster + Partners, the wavy roof design was made from seven precast concrete arches that together form a barrel-vaulted ceiling. The entire structure is held up by steel columns each covered with another thin architectural precast column that's also painted white. Per other Apple stores, this one boasts floor-to-ceiling glass windows, revealing all the activity within the stop.  The result is a light-filled Apple store that actually breaks a big design boundary for the tech giant: Of all its retail spaces, the building is the only one to use precast concrete as a predominant structural material. The idea was first introduced within Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, also known as Apple Park, in 2017. Inside Apple Ventura, the ground-floor is decked out with rows of elongated wooden tables that serve as Apple’s signature product displays. A large terraced seating area anchors one end of the store, allowing guests to relax while waiting for their Genius Bar appointments or to secure space for an in-store event. The flight of interior steps is outfitted with leather seating and charging stations.  Outside the store, a densely planted garden features teak tables and chairs that seamlessly reference the interior architecture. Customers can also hang out in the shade of the outdoor “Genius Grove” while they wait for assistance.  The Apple Aventura store is situated just steps away from the spiraling Aventura Slide Tower by Carsten Höller, a 93-foot-tall piece of public art that's among the most famed parts of the 2.8-million-square-foot shopping campus. The entire site is the second-largest mall in America.
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The future of retail is in-tents

Retail is getting reimagined with augmented reality
Retail is dead. Long live retail. With the ubiquity of online shopping, brick-and-mortar retail has become more competitive. Good deals and low prices aren't enough to draw customers into stores anymore; today's customers are looking for experiences, according to developers and retail prognosticators. Canadian outdoor goods retailer Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) has teamed up with creative technology from Finger Food to offer an in-store—or in-home—experience that bridges the digital and the physical: augmented reality tent shopping.  "Retail has gone through significant disruption and it's only going to get faster," said David Labistour, CEO of MEC. The outdoor company sees this disruption as a unique opportunity for growth. MEC offers more tents than can fit in their stores. Rather than hanging excess tents from the ceiling, MEC asked Finger Food to develop an application that would allow customers using a phone, tablet, or AR/VR goggles to see and explore a full-scale, fully rendered (inside and out) 3D version of every single tent that MEC sells. What's special about this particular use of the increasingly common AR technology is the unprecedented level of detail Finger Food was able to achieve.   Finger Food create their ultra-realistic 3d models in an enormous room they call the holodeck — named after the high-tech virtual reality rooms in Star Trek. Using a proprietary photogrammetry rig and accompanying software, the company can take thousands of photos of any object to capture its geometries and textures at extremely high resolution. In addition to the realism, Finger Food's solution is distinguished by its speed—scanning an object requires less than an hour, compared to days that could be spent creating a 3D model from scratch—and the system has proven its capability to capture objects of any scale, from a pair of sunglasses to a semi-truck.  Their work for MEC isn't Finger Food's first foray into the retail space. The group has previously worked with Lowe's home improvement stores to develop two augmented reality apps. One lets users see what products look like in their homes—everything from accent tile to a six-burner stove—and easily make a purchase afterward. The other app guides users through Lowe's 1000,000-square-foot stores to find the exact products they're looking for; it also notifies employees when an item needs restocking.  Customers can currently use the AR application at MEC's flagship Toronto store, with a larger rollout planned. "We believe the future of the customer experience will be significantly changed through the integration of technology," said Labistour. If these technologies prove successful, the retail experience and store design could be changed as well. In a future with augmented reality and next-day delivery, less space may be needed in stores as fewer items would be kept on display and in stock.
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Towers of Tokyo

Japan's tallest tower revealed in Tokyo's new Heatherwick-planned district
Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects has unveiled its vision for a 64-story tower in Tokyo, which, once finished, will be the tallest in Japan at 1,082 feet. The project is part of the upcoming Toranomon-Azabudai district, an ultra-green, mixed-use destination with an urban design plan devised by Heatherwick Studio Located in Tokyo’s Minato Ward, the skyscraper will be one of three new soaring structures when completed in 2023. Other projects in the new district designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli include an 862-foot-tall tower that is currently coming online and another that is already finished and caps out at 935 feet. The latter will soon be the second tallest in the city. According to the architects, each building was designed to reference the nearby Tokyo Tower, with gleaming facades that break down towards the base of the structures into a lattice-like pattern with wider windows. The 1950s-era landmark that doubles as communications and observation tower features the same texture, but without the glass.  The Toranomon-Azabudai Tower, as the tallest one is formally called, will house office and retail space, as well as 10 floors of apartments at the top of the building. Where it meets the sidewalk, the base will be activated with a series of terraced public spaces. The other two skyscrapers will largely be filled with apartments and one will include a 120-room hotel.  The entire district—a "modern urban village" with a focus on health and wellness—is being built out by Tokyo-based developer Mori, which has also enlisted Thomas Heatherwick to envision the surrounding streetscape. Early renderings show that bringing green space to the center of the city was on the London architect's mind; he’s created a massive landscaped pergola at one corner of the 19-acre site. Largely a piece of architecture with green terraces straddling its roof and glass siding, the pergola will include interior space for offices, shops, and more.  In addition, Heatherwick has also designed a series of low-lying buildings throughout the entire district with the same distinct identity. Each mimics the surrounding mountainous region that Tokyo sits in, and altogether, the structures will undulate from one side of the site to the other and propagate that pergola-like design. Hidden gardens, sunken courtyards, and terraced spaces will be well mixed among the apartment buildings, retail, office spaces, museum, and gallery. A seven-story international school is also slated for the site as well along with an underground pedestrian tunnel and food hall.
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Not Your Average Mall

Remembering César Pelli’s lost mark on the Midwest

César Pelli, the world-renowned architect who passed away in July, will likely be remembered for his largest and most recognizable commissions: the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, the National Museum of Art in Osaka, and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, among others. But unlike many buildings designed by "starchitects" these days, some of Pelli's most compelling and controversial work has fallen by the wayside of mainstream industry discourse.

In 1968, municipal leaders in the architectural Mecca of Columbus, Indiana commissioned Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) to devise a masterplan that would reverse the deterioration of the city’s downtown area. Among other recommendations, SOM highlighted the need for a new shopping complex in the central part of the city—a project that would help to enliven streets and reduce consumers’ reliance on less centralized malls in the suburbs and exurbs. The city set aside two square blocks for the project, along with three additional blocks for parking, and waited for investors to take on the venture.

No bites came. After waiting in vain for property developers to take over the project, the Irwin Management Company, controlled by local businessman and head of the Columbus-based Cummins Engine Company, J. Irwin Miller, bought the lot. In order to build a state-of-the-art shopping center, Miller hired an architect still in the incipient stages of his career, a young Argentine-born man with six completed projects under his belt. César Pelli soon arrived in Indiana and made several suggestions regarding the composition of the center, including that a significant portion of the site be designed as a community gathering space.

Between 1972 and 1973, Pelli built a complex consisting of two main buildings. The first building, the Courthouse Center, named for its proximity to the historic Columbus Courthouse, housed conventional shopping mall. The other building, called “The Commons,” was connected to the first by a single glass envelope and housed a 63,000-square-foot, multi-level public space. Under 38-foot-tall ceilings, Pelli designed a 2-acre park that he compared to Italian piazzas, complete with benches, planters, and playgrounds for children. The bronze-tinted glass reflected enough light to prevent passive heat gain but also allowed for sweeping views of the street from inside. The atrial space became a popular venue for public events, with enormous structural elements and sloping roofs that towered above visitors. As locals increasingly frequented The Commons, the adjacent mall assumed “The Commons Mall” as a colloquial nickname.

The Commons represented Pelli’s first contribution to Columbus’ built landscape. The building stood alongside great modernist masterpieces by the likes of I.M. Pei, Harry Weese, and Robert Venturi—all of whom were commissioned through an altruistic program established by Miller’s foundation. The industrialist persuaded city officials to hire architects from a list of five blue-chip designers that he had assembled, agreeing to pay their top-dollar fees himself. Miller believed that high-quality buildings would help attract investment and talented engineers to the town, both of which would bolster the Cummins Engine Company’s business prospects.

César Pelli, in fact, had first visited Columbus in 1956 to tour the Eero Saarinen-designed Miller House, which was still under construction. Completed at a time when much of his portfolio consisted of buildings in coastal states, The Commons was also Pelli’s first project in the Midwest. He would go on to accept several commissions in the region during the following decades, primarily for institutional or corporate projects in urban centers and college towns. The Commons was the architect’s only built structure in the state of Indiana until 2011, when he finished the Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence, also in Columbus.

With its bulky, monolithic facades and expansive glass curtain walls, The Commons was viewed by some as a precursor to Pelli’s Pacific Design Center, which he finished in Los Angeles in 1975. The latter achieved far greater renown than the former, but their shared design cues are unmistakable. As Pelli’s career advanced and he reached the upper tiers of architectural prominence, his affinity for seamless glass designs gave way to a material approach that often included both glass and stonework—a stylistic choice more characteristic of the postmodern era. Many of his 21st-century commissions signaled a return to the glass curtain wall, a medium that has achieved greater flexibility and versatility since the 1970s. The architectural significance of The Commons weathered many of these fluctuations, so much so that it played host to the Pritzker Prize ceremony in 1994.

Eventually, in the first years of the 21st century, it became clear that The Commons and its adjacent mall were facing an upward battle against deteriorating physical conditions and increasing maintenance costs. The Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation bought the property in 2005 and began to mull over strategies for redevelopment, ultimately concluding that the retail space would have to be torn down. As part of the plan, The Commons was also almost entirely demolished in 2008, leaving only its steel skeleton and Chaos 1, a site-specific kinetic installation by sculptor Jean Tinguely. The building that replaced it, still called The Commons, was designed by the Boston-based firm Koetter Kim.

In a city where architectural heritage is both a huge point of pride for residents and the lifeblood of a burgeoning local tourist economy, Pelli’s building is one of few major structures ever to be dismantled. Much like César Pelli himself, it lives on today not only through photographs, drawings, and individual memories, but through an architectural legacy that extends well beyond walls.