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Big Money

Alibaba cofounder set to buy SHoP-designed Barclays Center (and the Nets, too)
The cofounder of online retail giant Alibaba is buying the Brooklyn Nets as well as their home arena, the SHoP-designed Barclays Center. The Brooklyn complex is home to the Nets as well as the NHL's New York Islanders (although that team is set to split its games between Brooklyn and Nassau County, New York before its final move to a new stadium complex in 2021). Alibaba's Joseph Tsai already owns 49 percent of the stakes in the Nets—the to-be-signed deal will grant him full ownership of the team as well as the building. The deal is worth more than $700 million, but it's not clear how much of that sum is for the arena. Including the stake he already owns, Tsai is expected to shell out $2.35 billion for the Nets. The soon-to-be previous owner Mikhail Prokhorov started to acquire the Barclays Center and the Nets in 2010 and finished the acquisition in 2015. According to the New York Post, Prokhorov bought the team for $875 million and the building at $825 million, which means he's about to rake in a ton of money on his investment. The Brooklyn Paper reported that the NBA Board of Governors has to sign off on the sale before it's official, a deal which should be sealed by the end of next month. Since 2012, the 19,000-capacity Barclays Center has crowned the intersection of busy Flatbush and Atlantic avenues. The building's glass curtain wall facade is fitted with 12,000 parametrically-modeled weathered steel panels, and the sloping, concave green roof makes it easy to spot from above.
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Funding the Future

National Endowment for the Humanities awards $29 million to preservation, virtual reality projects
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) recently announced $29 million in awards for 215 projects across the country relating to all things humanities, from education programs to cultural preservation, film, exhibitions, virtual reality, and architecture.  Some highlights of the grant recipients include the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which received $50,000 for storage improvements for its collections housed at Taliesin West; the Chicago Architecture Foundation, which received $170,000 for k-12 workshops on the development of the skyscraper; and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, which received $10,000 for saving the School of Architecture design project archives. Lawrence Technological University was awarded $7,000 for improving the storage environment in its Albert Kahn library collection while the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, got $9,938 for a rare books assessment including influential texts on the history of architecture, aesthetic theory, and visual representation in European art. Old Sturbridge Village, a living museum located in Massachusetts, received $9,794 for the preservation assessment of various structures. “NEH grants help strengthen and sustain American cultural life in communities, at museums, libraries, and historic sites, and in classrooms,” said NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede. “As the nation prepares to commemorate its 250th anniversary in 2026, NEH is proud to help lay the foundations for public engagement with America’s past by funding projects that safeguard cultural heritage and advance our understanding of the events, ideas, and people that have shaped our nation. The NEH awarded these peer-reviewed grants in addition to $48 million in annual operating support that goes to the national network of state and territorial humanities councils during the fiscal year. The organization also gave grants to cultural projects South by Somewhere, a television series created in Durham, N.C., on the foodways, history, and culture of the American South, as well as to Louisiana State University and A&M College in Baton Rouge for the development of a VESPACE (Virtually Early-Modern Spectacles and Publics, Active and Collaborative Environment) project on the fair theatre in 18th-century Paris. In addition, the NEH engaged in a $1 million partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to support the preservation of America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
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Remembrances from 2002-2015

Peter Lang on Cristiano Toraldo di Francia's 'incredible love'
Cristiano Toraldo di Francia sadly passed away on July 30. Cofounder, along with Adolfo Natalini, of the Florentine Radical design and architecture group Superstudio, Cristiano was the kind of person who was incredibly open-minded, shared a sharp sense of humor, and professed a deep love for humanity. While accolades spread across the internet following news of his passing, there was a lot to Cristiano that didn’t make it into these postings, tributes, and memorials. What might have been most lacking in all these accounts was the way he shrugged off fame and shunned formality. Yet he never wasted a moment, had infinite stamina, and to stick by him you needed to react fast and move quickly. Cristiano was a perceptive and ever-present photographer, and it is thanks to him that so many historical moments during their superlative adventure were captured for posterity. When I asked him about how he got into photography, he spoke about his father, Giuliano, who was a renowned physicist, recounting an odd story about how he was introduced to his first photo-camera. As Cristiano told me, in an interview at his house in Filottrano back in 2005, his father “…designed lenses for Ducati, at that time they made electronics—now they´re making motorcycles. They made cameras, radios. And they made a micro-camera, which anticipated the cameras of today, instead of the normal 35 mm film --24x36mm, they were using 24x18mm film, so it was fantastic. Italy was poor at the time, everything had to be reduced! Cristiano couldn’t help make a quip about the States, and while proudly acknowledging that Italian technology was inventing incredible things that were “almost too advanced for their time,” in America “everything was big—big cameras, big cars. But that camera was a jewel... Just to say that since I was a child I was initiated to the mysteries of photography—the images coming out of the acids, of the paper.” Probing further, I asked Cristiano what his relationship was to the burgeoning Florentine fashion industry in the early sixties when he was a professional photographer. “I was making family portraits at the time to raise money. In Florence, there is a big tradition around the Alinari family that besides all the city portraits,” now in the Alinari Archive in Florence, “they shot a lot of family portraits, but these were like paintings, all retouched, like Photoshop. “They were perfect photographers- so this tradition was present. I was trying to do a very different kind of photography. I looked more to the American model. A journalistic kind of picture, Diane Arbus... Not so much Man Ray or the historical ones.I became quite successful at the time. All these noble mothers came to make photos in my studio. After a while, I was asked to do fashion photography, but after a while, Superstudio started and I quit. But of course, I had all the contacts and all the people- I was friends with Oliviero Toscani for example,” who would go on to make the controversial photographic campaigns for Bennetton. With his usual irony, Cristiano pointed out that he also worked as a fashion model, for the kind of magazines that were constantly referencing architecture. It’s hard not to talk about the origins of the Italian Radical movement without getting into influences, of which there were many: “We started…” as Cristiano clarified in that same interview, “…on parallel levels, looking at Archigram, but even more we looked back at Dada and then to Pop-art that was bringing the Dada methods up to date. Fluxus—breaking boundaries and being completely interdisciplinary, fluctuating from one activity to the other. But on the other hand, Archigram had this political information as background—for which we could say maybe we were more idealistic than them. They were more pragmatic, more Anglo-Saxon.” Dan Graham connected his generation to Rock and Roll, and given the times, it is clear that music played a considerable role for Cristiano. When I spoke to Cristiano about music when we met in December of 2002, he had this to say: “When I talk about the importance of music, we don’t deny having discovered a person like Bob Dylan, or the Beatles, it was a time when popular music reached great artistic levels, Laurie Anderson, the whole group of Fluxus, back then there was a system of self-propulsion, in every field…” What is critical in understanding Superstudio is precisely this level of mixing passions that the art and architecture curator Lara Vinca Masini referred to as “contaminations.” Cristiano stabbed at this point by bringing in Aldo Rossi: “Yes the work of Rossi and others was interesting, but it was always inside a discipline with few confrontations with the world that went much faster than their own reasoning.” Getting back to the Florentine music scene, Cristiano credited his father with exposing him to experimental music when he was beginning university. In a conversation I had with him in 2005, Cristiano remarked: “My father was a scientist, and as a scientist he was traveling a lot and, in a way, disillusioned and relativistic. He was asked in 1963 to become president of the young contemporary music association. One of those members was Sylvano Bussotti,” a Florentine native, musical polyglot and noted dandy. “One was Giuseppe Chiari,” the atonal musician, close to John Cage and a member of Fluxus, “and the other was Pietro Grossi,” a Venetian electronic musician and composer living in Florence. “I remember they were making concerts of electronic music, and one concert was in the Conservatorio di Musica Cherubini which is a traditional music conservatory. And after 10 minutes of this music people went crazy.” Evidently, for this generation of young architects living in Florence in the sixties, these were incredibly stimulating years. Superstudio detoured around the traditional tools of the architect, experimenting with alternative forms of expression and representation. When Emilio Ambasz showed up in Florence around 1971, scouting for ideas for the upcoming exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape for MoMA, the young curator was seeking out experimental “environments.” These would be full-scale prototypes for living, accompanied by films serving as animated captions. Yet I wanted to know just how Superstudio produced this project, what kind of technology was used to build this elaborate environment and how did they create their 12-minute film Supersurface. The main backer for the environment was the manufacturer Print but they also had to procure other funders, due to the elevated expenses. According to Cristiano, they found the supplies they needed in Florence, the special reflective glass and the electronic components key to simulate alternating moods of day and night inside the environment. It took 15 days to manually assemble it before the show opened in New York on May 26th, 1972. The movie was instead made during the winter of 1971- 72 and it was filmed in 36 mm. “I worked on that with Sandro Poli,” the Superstudio member officially present between 1970 and 1972, “we found the music, made the soundtrack, with the professional help of a guy who made advertising for TV (Marchi Producers), who had that mentality, and in fact, we wanted it to be projected as if it would be an advertisement for the Supersurface. The first part presents in a scientific way how the thing is done, and the second one tells how happy you will be living there.” In fact, both making the environment and directing the animated film were very labor-intensive hands-on processes. I asked Cristiano what role the Italian manufacturers had in producing Superstudio’s concepts. Cristiano’s response was that these factories were mostly made up of artisans. “That is why we managed to make a series of objects from very different things and from really different materials. Most of these objects are coming out of a kind of bricolage. The factory made almost nothing—we had to find artisans who did the different parts. The industry would just put the parts together. We were doing a kind of bricolage Cheap-scape—as Frank Gehry would say—for the industries.” The Italian design industry seemed to work as an artisanal chain assembly. But what was still not clear, was why did these manufacturers get behind a group like Superstudio to make things that worked against the idea of mass consumption? Why would they sponsor designs that were against their best interests? “We thought these objects we were making were a kind of trojan horses that coming from inside the system would produce criticism, which means creativity, which means refusal, or incredible love. They were objects of poetic reaction for the people. They were not mass-produced, they were in little series, multiples, like works of art.” To this day I still think about Cristiano’s trojan horses, and his incredible love.
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Steel Yourself

Denver's Meridian 105 delivers a residential model for using salvaged materials
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Like many cities across the United States, Denver is undergoing tremendous demographic growth with the subsequent result of intense development and densification. Jason Street Multifamily, designed by local architectural-firm Meridian 105, is a four-unit residential project located in the Sunnyside neighborhood that responds to the region's need for thoughtfully-designed and budget-restrained compact developments with a facade of salvaged stainless steel and cedar, and plaster.
  • Facade Manufacturer Western Aluminum Aria Custom Vaproshield
  • Architect Meridian 105
  • Facade Installer Aria Custom Front Range Window
  • Location Denver, CO
  • Date of Completion July 2018
  • System Custom-assembled raw materials
  • Products Salvaged stainless steel & cedar siding Vero Plaster
The development rises to a height of the three stories and is defined by jagged extrusions that house two-story solariums. The size of the homes range from approximately 1700- to- 2400 square feet. Cedar siding, treated with pine tar, wraps across the ground floor of the building, which is punctured along the south elevation by an arhythmic entrance collonade. Above the ground floor, the material palette shifts to stainless steel and matte-finished plaster. The plaster is subject to two treatments; one with Carrara marble dust for smooth surfacing, and a lime-and-sand aggregate for rougher segments. Although the steel will patinate and lose a degree of luster over time, the panels effectively mirror the plaster treatment within the concave surfaces of the extrusion, and shifts to a soft reflective glow during the evening. Due to budget constraints, Meridian 105 turned towards creative methods to reduce costs. "The stainless steel panels were available salvage from a local metals shop so we purchased them and design[ed] them into the project," said Merdian 105 founding principal Chad Mitchell. "The white Vero plaster was a product that we found at a conference in Las Vegas. We liked the smooth, glossy texture and thought it would be a good compliment to the metal surface." Salvaged raw materials form the basis of the project's facade system, which relied on straightforward assembly. The steel sheets roughly measure 5-by-10-feet and were installed to overlap along the vertical seam to reduce the costs associating with cutting the panels. The sheets hang on stainless steel standoffs which are in turn secured via blocking into the wall, and backed by VaproShield weatherproofing as a rainscreen. The use of glass is restrained and typically arranged in vertical and horizontal ribbons conforming to the internal function. However, according to Mitchell, "the glass towers that run on the edge of this feature were also difficult. We had to work with Western Aluminum to create a glass corner detail that worked with the custom angle." Meridian 105 Founding Principal Chad Mitchell will be joining the panel "Rocky Mountain Residential: Facade Design of Colorado Homes" at the Architect's Newspaper's upcoming Facades+ Denver conference on September 12.
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Soulcycle for Your Life

What do architects think about Related Companies' Stephen Ross fundraiser for Trump?
Ahead of today’s planned fundraiser for President Donald Trump in Southhampton, organized by the billionaire CEO and chairman of The Related Companies Stephen Ross, people have taken to Twitter to denounce their support of any and all things that Related owns, including Hudson Yards. Even celebrity chef José Andres, who has a new food hall inside the mega-development, took to the social media platform asking Ross to cancel the event. As this conversation grows louder and louder—and people continue to boycott companies like Equinox, SoulCycle, and Bluestone Lane Coffee (the two former fitness groups have facilities in 33 and 35 Hudson Yards respectively), it's fair to ask: Will architects join in the discussion? And if so, when? Related owns a slew of properties in the United States, from New York to Miami, as well as in London and Abu Dhabi. Phase one of Hudson Yards on the far west side of Manhattan’s opened earlier this spring to mixed reviews and is successfully attracting throngs of people who are spending countless hours and dollars shopping around the $25 billion site. The Shed, the transformative arts venue designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group, was built on city-owned property and is not directly affiliated with Hudson Yards, but no doubt the recent news may rock its fall season of already-planned performances. In fact, one fashion designer, Prabal Gurung, announced he's canceling a show that was in talks to be located at the Vessel after hearing about Ross's ties to Trump. New York Fashion Week was supposed to be hosted at Hudson Yards in the coming years.  Buildings aren’t necessarily something one can boycott or at least totally ignore. They are a basic human necessity and provide tangible shelter. But the towering monoliths at Hudson Yards weren’t conceived to shelter your average New Yorker. What’s done is done and Hudson Yards is here, and a number of prominent firms contributed to the project's first phase, including Kohn Pederson Fox, Skidmore Owings & Merill, Elkus Manfredi Architects, and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects The next few years of construction, set to start late next year, will see the build-out of designs by Gehry Partners, Santiago Calatrava, Robert A.M. Stern, and more by Heatherwick Studio. So this leads us to ask: Like Jose Andres, artist Jerry Saltz, and other figures who've laid bare their frustrations with Ross in the last 24 hours, will architects vocalize their political views and become part of this conversation? AN has reached out to a number of firms who’ve worked on Hudson Yards and will update this story when we hear back. 
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Once Upon A Time in Hollywood

Renzo Piano crowns the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures with a sweeping glass dome
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When it opens in 2020, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, located in the heart of Los Angeles, will be the world’s premier museum dedicated to movies. Designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW), the building consists of a renovation and restoration of the 1939 May Company Department Store—now known as the Saban Building—and a new, concrete and glass spherical addition.
  • Facade Manufacturer Saint Gobain Group
  • Architect Renzo Piano Building Workshop
  • Executive Architect Gensler
  • Facade Installer Josef Gartner Permasteelisa MATT Construction
  • Facade Consultant Knippers Helbig
  • Consulting Engineer Knippers Helbig
  • Structural Engineer BuroHappold Engineering
  • Location Los Angeles, CA
  • Date of Completion 2019
  • System Permasteelisa Gartner system
  • Products DIAMANT Eckelt
The project was inspired by the capacity for cinema to transport viewers to a new world, and the architects think of the 45,000-square- foot sphere as a spaceship. More specifically perhaps, the project evokes the TARDIS—Doctor Who’s time-and-space-traveling police box that’s famously bigger on the inside than appears possible from the outside. As Mark Carroll, partner at RPBW notes, “We didn’t want it too large, because it could overpower the Saban Building. So we tried to keep it small and compact but still big on the inside.” The sphere’s two primary programs drove its design: the spacious 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater and the Dolby Family Terrace. The majority of this cinematic starship is clad with 680 precast-concrete panels attached to a shotcrete structural frame. The concrete is the visible part of a “box in a box” assembly that was designed to acoustically insulate the theater from within and from without. Behind the precast shell, a floating gypsum box completely encloses the space to provide additional soundproofing. Atop the sphere, a glass dome covers the Dolby terrace, which offers expansive views toward Hollywood to the north. The dome comprises exactly 1,500 overlapping low-iron glass shingles set over a graceful steel frame—a solution arrived at after “many interactions,” according to Carroll. Among the 146 unique shapes of shingles are glass vents, arranged at the top of the dome to help keep the open-air terrace cool. To ensure the structure stays rigid during a seismic event, cables crisscross the frame’s 4-inch structural supports, which span 120 feet across the roof and over the dome, casting dynamic shadows onto the curving facade. RPBW carefully coordinated the construction of the glass and concrete elements, which were cast with openings to attach the dome’s “egg cutter” structure. The project is the latest blockbuster building on L.A.’s Miracle Mile, joining a collection that includes RPBW’s additions to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The futuristic dome is not only an apt addition to the neighborhood but to the original structure, whose Streamline Moderne design offers an optimistic vision of the future from another era. As Piano said, “The Academy Museum gives us the opportunity to honor the past while creating a building for the future—in fact, for the possibility of many futures.”
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London Bridge is Rolling Down

Architects crowdfund to build a rolling bridge in London

Architect Thomas Randall-Page has started a crowdfunding campaign to support the construction of a unique rolling bridge in London. The project, which has been nicknamed the Cody Dock Rolling Bridge, proposes building a small-scale pedestrian span over the narrow canal of Cody Dock that flows into the River Lea, which in turn connects to the Thames. According to the crowdfunding page, the design will open Cody Dock to boats for the first time in half a century and has already received approval from the Newham Council and support from Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Randall-Page describes the project as both innovative and highly contextual. It makes material reference to the area’s history of iron production while taking certain stylistic cues from the industrial design of Britain’s Edwardian era. The most distinctive aspect of the proposed design, though, is its rolling motion. The bridge runs along a pair of twin, undulating rails that are attached to the brick walls on either side of the canal, and can roll a full 180-degrees so that its floor becomes its roof. In the latter position, the bridge’s arch can accommodate barges and other boats as they move through Cody Dock.

Compared to other operable bridges, the controls of the Cody Dock Rolling Bridge are quite simple. Teeth alongside the edge of the bridge’s frame fit into notches between teeth on each rail, enabling the entire structure to roll in a steady, gear-like motion. Counterweights are built into the rounded square frame of the bridge, which prevent it from rolling uncontrollably or getting stuck in any one position. A single cable attaches the structure’s frame to a crank handle, which a person can turn to invert the bridge.

The Cody Dock Rolling Bridge forms one link in the broader redevelopment of one of London’s industrial areas. The pedestrian bridge will connect walking and bike paths on either side of the canal, allowing easier access to new artists’ studios, exhibition spaces, fabrication workshops, and a cafe along the banks of the Lea. Proponents of the design hope that the structure will serve not only as a critical piece of infrastructure but also as a compelling landmark that will attract visitors from across the city. Now in the final stretch of their fundraising effort, Randall-Page and the bridge’s supporters hope to raise upwards of $200,000 towards the completion of the project.

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Tanked

Contested oil tanks in Bushwick Inlet Park are being demolished to make way for open space
The Tanks are tanked. The City of New York has nailed the coffin shut on one group's idea to turn massive abandoned oil tanks on the Brooklyn waterfront into a postindustrial playground. Instead, the parcel is being cleared of its industrial relics, cleaned up, and returned as an extension to Bushwick Inlet Park, the green space on the East River at the border between Williamsburg and Greenpoint. The demolition of the tanks marks a victory for area residents who want a park with ample wide-open space. For a newer group of designers and real estate professionals, however, the demolition represents a missed opportunity for a creative reuse of distinctive industrial infrastructure. For years, Williamsburg and Greenpoint residents fought for a park on the East River waterfront as the area transitioned away from its industrial roots. Many saw the future green space as a counterpoint to decades of pollution. In 2005, Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a deal with residents and area stakeholders to rezone the waterfront for residential uses in exchange for a 28-acre park. One prominent stakeholder, Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park, pushed for a park with ballfields, wide-open lawns, and the spectacular view of Manhattan that goes with it. Since the groundbreaking a decade ago, the city has acquired land piecemeal and at great expense. The current controversy centers on a seven-acre parcel that supported the Bayside Oil Depot, a petrol storage facility distinguished by ten five-story tanks that loom over the south side of Bushwick Inlet. The city bought that piece of land in March 2016 for $53 million. For those who want the oil tanks to go, the infrastructure is an ugly reminder of the environmental degradation brought on my heavy industry. For others, the tanks are a canvas for postindustrial regeneration that would draw on north Brooklyn's creative reputation. Three years ago, professionals in architecture, design, and real estate banded together to propose repurposing the tanks as galleries, gardens, and an oyster farm. Group leaders Stacey Anderson and Karen Zabarsky assembled a team that includes architect Jay Valgora of STUDIO V Architecture and landscape architect Ken Smith of Ken Smith Workshop. Together, they put forth a vision called The Tanks (formerly Maker Park) that pushed back on the idea that the industrial relics needed to be eliminated for the park to be a success. Ward Dennis, a member of the Friends group and a partner at New York's Higgins Quasebarth, dismissed The Tanks as a non-starter from the get-go. "The alternative proposal has never really gotten a lot of traction in the community. Open space was the priority," said Dennis. Another issue at play in the tanks debate centers on public safety; the ground around and underneath the tanks is toxic and needs remediation. The Tanks group hired an outside environmental consultant who determined that remediation can be accomplished with the tanks in-situ, but the city contends that the tanks must be removed for a full clean-up. A NYC Parks Department spokesperson told The Architect's Newspaper (AN) that demolition work began in July.
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Back in Motion

For its 250th anniversary, San Diego gets an update
This is the third article of AN‘s July/August 2019 print edition feature focused on development. The first, “A new breed of skyscraper threatens to devastate the fabric of New York,” can be read here. The second, "Why the developer’s vision matters in the experience economy," can be read here. As it celebrates the 250th anniversary of its founding this year, San Diego is rethinking past projects, planning billions of dollars’ worth of new projects, and coping with a housing shortage that is making it one of the nation’s least affordable markets. The most significant project on the boards is the redevelopment planned for Horton Plaza shopping center, a 1985 postmodernist downtown mall designed by Jon Jerde. But there are many other megaprojects under construction or in the offing throughout this county of 3.3 million residents. Laura Warner, an architect who moved from the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1980s, watches all this action from her perch as cochair of the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s Orchids & Onions program. This 43-year-old education effort celebrates the good and shames the bad in local building, landscape, planning, and historic preservation projects. “We’ve got some really well crafted, well designed, and well detailed buildings that are places that people like to go to, where they want to create memories,” Warner said. San Diego’s architectural zeitgeist goes back to its founding in 1769 by Spanish colonizers intent on protecting the area from European rivals and the local Kumeyaay population. The colonists introduced new building techniques, laid out towns as required by Spain’s “Laws of the Indies,” and built adobe and stucco ranch houses that remain the local go-to style, especially for residential development. The city’s iconic buildings and structures include the Mission San Diego de Alcalá, Reid & Reid’s 1888 Hotel del Coronado, the 1915 Panama-California Exposition grounds in Balboa Park, the 1920s Navy and Marine Corps bases, the 1938 County Administration Center on the downtown waterfront, Louis Kahn’s 1964 Salk Institute, and William Pereira’s 1970 Geisel Library at the University of California, San Diego, campus. Post–World War II car culture led to sprawl, center-city blight, and urban ills shared with other American cities. Some midcentury mistakes are being reversed, but challenges remain: homelessness, high-priced housing (the median home price in May was $591,000), large wage gaps between tourism service workers and high-tech engineers, and relations with Tijuana across the Mexican border. Ten major projects in the works promise to add to San Diego’s collection of notable buildings, but it remains to be seen if any of them rise to world-class, must-see status in the decades ahead. The Campus at Horton Stockdale Capital Partners of Los Angeles bought the Horton Plaza shopping center in 2018 for $175 million with plans to turn it into a high-tech office complex with only half the 600,000 square feet of retail originally required in the center. The Jerde Partnership’s original postmodern design was copied worldwide, and the new owners are seeking ways to retain some of its quirky features. L.A.-area firms RCH Studios and EYRC Architects are the design architects, and RDC is the executive architect for the redesign. The developers hope to complete the first phase by the end of 2020. Chula Vista Bayfront A 535-acre World War II-era industrial zone is being transformed into a complex comprising hotels, housing, retail, parks, and a conference center in this South Bay city’s portion of the San Diego port tidelands. Houston-based RIDA Development plans a $1.1 billion hotel and conference center on 36 acres. RIDA’s architect is HKS of Dallas. Courthouse Redevelopment Another repurposing project involves the 1960s downtown county courthouse. On the first of three blocks owned by the county government would be a $400 million, 37-story mixed-use building developed by Vancouver, Washington–based Holland Partner Group and designed by local firm Carrier Johnson + Culture. Manchester Pacific Gateway The Navy Broadway Complex, which dates back to the 1920s, has been leased to local developer Doug Manchester, who agreed to build the Navy a new West Coast headquarters. He, in turn, won rights to build hotels, offices, a retail galleria, and a museum on the balance of the complex’s 13.7 acres. Gensler is the architect, and construction of the tower is well underway in the $1.3 billion, 3 million-square-foot complex. NAVWAR The Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR, formerly the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command or SPAWAR) occupies former Air Force hangars dating to World War II located between Old Town San Diego and the Marine Corps Recruit Depot north of downtown. The Navy, seeking a modern research and development home, would like to repeat its deal on the Naval Broadway Complex by signing up a developer who would deliver such a building in exchange for the right to develop the rest of the site privately. The 71-acre location is also being eyed by regional planners as a “Grand Central” multimodal transportation center. The Navy expects to issue a request for proposals. In the meantime, the local National Association of Industrial and Office Parks chapter sponsored a “university challenge” for a portion of the site. The winning $1.6 billion, 4.1 million-square-foot “Delta District” plan from students at the University of San Diego includes offices, housing, and retail, plus an “innovation center” where education and R&D would meet. De Bartolo + Rimanic Design Studio of San Diego aided the UCSD students. One Paseo Suburban development continues in San Diego County, and one of the most controversial suburban projects, One Paseo, opened earlier this year east of Del Mar on the North County coast. Opponents, led by a rival shopping center company, objected to the density and launched an initiative to kill the project, and the developer, Kilroy Realty, downsized the plans. The retail portion, by the Hollywood architecture firm 5+design, opened earlier this year, and the first apartments are due this summer. San Diego Convention Center Expansion The center, built in 1989 and last expanded in 2001, will appear on the March 2020 city ballot in the form of a hotel tax increase that will fund an $800 million expansion, plus homeless and transportation improvements if it can gain the required two-thirds approval. The main new feature would be a rooftop public park. The project designer is Fentress Architects of Denver. SDSU Mission Valley San Diego State University won voter approval in 2018 over local developers’ rival “SoccerCity” to redevelop the 166-acre site of the former Chargers NFL football stadium site in Mission Valley, north of downtown. When the Chargers returned to Los Angeles, the future of the 70,000-seat, 52-year-old stadium was up for grabs. SDSU plans to replace what is now called SDCCU Stadium with a smaller facility for its Aztecs football team. Developers would be selected to build 4,600 housing units and 1 million square feet of office and retail space that ultimately could be repurposed for academic use to complement the university’s 250-acre campus a few miles to the east. Carrier Johnson + Culture prepared a conceptual master plan, and Gensler is the architect for the new $250 million stadium, which is targeted to open for the 2022 football season. Seaport Village The downtown Embarcadero postindustrial transformation began with the construction of the Robert Mosher–designed San Diego–Coronado Bridge in 1969. The obsolete ferry landing was redeveloped as the Seaport Village specialty retail center in 1980. Now it’s time to turn the 39-acres of one-story buildings into something denser and more sophisticated. The current $1.6 billion plan calls for the usual mix of hotel and commercial uses plus an aquarium, ocean-oriented learning center, a 500-foot skytower ride designed by BIG, and water-centric recreational and commercial fishing features. The project architect is San Diego–based AVRP Skyport. UC San Diego The UC San Diego campus, whose first class of fewer than 200 students took up residence in 1964, is nearing an enrollment of 40,000 and is planning to add three more undergraduate residential colleges to the six already in place. The 2,100-acre campus, spanning Interstate 5 in San Diego’s La Jolla neighborhood plus a community hospital near downtown, has about $10 billion dollars in projects planned over the next 10 years. That doesn’t count the $2.1 billion extension of the San Diego Trolley light-rail system which is due to reach the campus in 2021. The campus trolley stop will lead to a new campus gateway entrance, where several major buildings and an outdoor amphitheater are in the works. An off-campus downtown hub on the trolley line is already under construction. Numerous architectural firms, both local and national, have been engaged to build out the campus, including HKS and San Diego–based Safdie Rabines Architects for Sixth College, now under construction; Seattle-based LMN Partners for the Triton Pavilion, a six-building complex at the new trolley stop; and the downtown hub by Carrier Johnson + Culture. Roger Showley is a freelance writer who recently retired from The San Diego Union-Tribune.  
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Place Setting

Why the developer’s vision matters in the experience economy
This is the second article of AN's July/August 2019 print edition feature focused on development. The first, "A new breed of skyscraper threatens to devastate the fabric of New York," can be read here. As our economy moves from one of consumerism to one of experience, the real estate industry needs to change. It’s time to shift focus from the hardware of buildings to the software of place. Developers are great at spotting the potential of land and what mix of uses and development will make land viable—what they’re less good at is what happens next. When they hand over that mix and program to an architect and ask them to squeeze it all into the site, developers may be doing all they’ve ever done historically, but they are neglecting the most critical of steps: agreeing on a vision for the place. “Vision” here means a strongly defined collective destination, the north star that guides and aligns all decision-making and allows teams to answer that most valuable question, “What should we do?” rather than that far more expensive question, “What could we do?” This process begins by asking, “Who is this place for? Why will they come? What will they do here?” When a place lacks vision, the end result is often at worst a commercial or critical failure and at best a bunch of people asking themselves, “What might this site have been if we’d only known then what we know now?” Architects often say that a project is only ever as good as the client. One of the challenges faced by developers is that many of them outsource the visioning process to architects rather than cocreating it with them. The best projects, and the best places, are always those that have a strong and shared vision delivered with unerring confidence. The absence of a place vision, and the reliance solely on a technical brief, can easily lead to cost overruns, design team disputes, ineffective communication, community objections, and ultimately simply soulless places. As we move from a consumer economy to an experience economy, we are reaching “peak stuff.” Millennials are far less interested in acquiring things and more interested in seeking experiences. Whereas their parents measured success by working hard to afford a luxury automobile, today’s youth measure their status by the stories they can tell about the latest hip restaurant, a pop-up retail experience, or an amazing vacation cabin in the woods. Instagram is full of the experiences people sought as opposed to the stuff they bought. This is putting ever more pressure on developers to provide a level of experience traditionally only provided by historic or organically emerging postindustrial neighborhoods. It’s time for real estate to step up. Office developments are no longer about grand statements that appease the corporation. Organizations have shifted their focus to the individual and the attraction and retention of talent over the cathedral to capitalism that has typified so many office buildings of old. In parallel, online retail is winning over homogenous retail streets and shopping centers; places like this will die unless they can shift to provide nontransactional experiences. Online shopping means consumers won’t bother to go to a shopping center or high street filled with chain stores to get things that they can simply buy with one click. There’s more choice online and goods can be delivered, and even returned, on the same day. People will only venture to physical shops if the basic act of consumption is complemented by outstanding service or experience. So the long-term viability of retail environments is predicated on their ability to provide some form of experience that provides enjoyment to the consumer. Architecture alone is no longer the answer. There is good news. Developers that are willing to take the “missing step” and really focus in on vision, purpose, and establishing a place brief will do well. They are not just stemming the tide of failure but actually achieving premium values across all real estate sectors. Kings Cross and Battersea Power Station in London have both proved that considered thought—rather than additional capital—can result in increased demand and value; Google and Apple both moved their operations to the respective projects—proof, if ever it were needed, that a strong vision leads to solid capital results. Closer to home, a strong vision and early communication for SOM’s The 78 development in Chicago allowed Related Midwest to secure stakeholder support for its ambition even before finalizing the massing, which paved the way for faster approvals. We need to embrace the synergy between great places and their consequent value appreciation. This is how we create a culture of self-perpetuating success, which will enable change where planning policy has failed. A small number of progressive developers have recognized that the market is changing. They can see that customers are increasingly seeking out experiential places that are engaging to live in, work at, or visit. Successful development is increasingly about the software of experience rather than the hardware of buildings. How you invest in creating place can vary whether you are investing millions into a sculpture at Hudson Yards or into a tech incubator to seed market momentum in Tampa. In contrast, traditional developers that are failing to develop or repurpose projects with such a sense of purpose and life are seeing their investment values stagnate. The scale of postindustrial sites that are now coming forward means we are no longer developing infill buildings that work off the historic character of established neighborhoods. Developers are working across entire districts, and it is essential that an overarching vision and purpose is established at the earliest opportunity. Failure to do so will result in incoherent and unsuccessful new districts; cookie-cutter, big brand monoculture; and disappointing, unpopular places. We are all familiar with places that have failed; they are globally prevalent, and the reason the real estate development industry is treated with such contempt and skepticism by the general public. But as new case studies emerge, such as King’s Cross in London, they act as a showcase for the synergy between the creation of great and thoughtful places and a more viable business practice. David Twohig is a founding partner of Wordsearch Place.
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East and West

The West Bank is getting its first contemporary design school

For aspiring designers in the Palestinian Territories, educational opportunities are relatively few and far between. Some universities in the area offer traditional design courses for students, but the region’s continuing state of conflict has limited available resources for designers, including access to global markets and networks. The founders of the Palestine-based collective Disarming Design From Palestine are establishing a school to fill the void.

Located in the town of Birzeit in the West Bank, the Disarming Design School is the first contemporary design school in the Palestinian Territories. It offers peer-to-peer learning programs for Palestinian students, as well as residencies for foreign students looking to acquire knowledge of local design and craft techniques. The school is also meant to serve as an important resource for local artisans and designers. Professional workshops, movie screenings, and lectures will be supplemented by a design library and a creative lab. As cofounder Annelys De Vet told Dezeen, the long-term goal is to form an academy that cultivates a critical design curriculum that is “inclusive, community-based and focused on resilience, emancipation, and self-empowerment through acts of design.”

De Vet and her co-founders, Raed Hamouri and Ghaleed Dajani, are already well-established in the Palestinian design world. In 2012, they set up a label to sell Palestinian-designed items on international platforms. Through the sale of useful goods, Disarming Design From Palestine aims to present “alternative narratives about contemporary Palestine” and, more broadly, to explore the role of creative practices under conditions of conflict. Members of the label’s team will serve as tutors for students participating in this summer’s workshops, teaching alongside curators from the Palestinian Museum in Birzeit and academics from the Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam, the Lucerne School of Art and Design, and Sint Lucas School of the Arts in Antwerp.

In a part of the world where international travel can be difficult, Disarming Design is fostering a program that is decidedly global. The next step for the young institution is to collaborate with the Sandberg Instituut to set up a temporary masters program in Amsterdam focusing primarily on design in conflict zones. A predetermined portion of the master's students will be Palestinian and will be expected to return to the school in Birzeit as instructors. Similar to the specialized lecturers and tutors leading the Disarming Design School’s first workshops in the West Bank, they will bring global and local design perspectives to a region of the world in need of both.

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Posthumous Collaborations

Adam Yarinsky reflects on ARO’s work in spaces originally shaped by Donald Judd and Mark Rothko
Actual space is intrinsically more powerful and specific than paint on a flat surface. Donald Judd I have made a place. Mark Rothko Architects often say that the best clients are those who are most collaborative, but what if your client died decades ago? I think of our restorations of 101 Spring Street, Donald Judd’s home in New York City, and the Rothko Chapel in Houston as case studies in posthumous collaboration. At these remarkable sites, Judd and Rothko expanded the physical boundaries of sculpture and painting by creating carefully calibrated spatial relationships between art and its context. When we experience these places, we gain greater awareness of ourselves, of our connection to other people and the world around us. Yet the passage of time diminished their qualities, as the conditions needed to appreciate them changed. Sensitively engaging these sites required untangling a web of aesthetic, philosophical, administrative, technical, and constructional questions. Through our research-based methodology, we gathered and analyzed information (including archival documentation), conducted interviews, analyzed historical and existing conditions, and synthesized the work of specialists. This established the basis of a rigorous, iterative design process that aimed to yield a holistic strategy. Ultimately, our challenge as architects was to reconcile the artists’ original intentions with the ongoing missions of the cultural organizations that perpetuate their legacies. Preservation and access The space surrounding my work is crucial to it: As much thought has gone into the installation as into a piece itself. —Donald Judd We first encountered this unusual design problem when we were responsible for the restoration of 101 Spring Street, the five-story 1870 mercantile building that Judd occupied from 1968 to 1994. Here, he made what came to be known as his permanently installed spaces: site-specific installations of his art and that of his peers. He modified the cast-iron building and added new elements to create an unprecedented interaction between art and daily life. In the years following his untimely death, the deterioration of the building compromised Judd’s work and the Judd Foundation’s mission—on top of the fact that the building did not have a certificate of occupancy. Working closely over eight years with representatives of the foundation, we preserved the authentic experience Judd intended. Paradoxically, this required extensive modern technical infrastructure, such as fire suppression and life-safety systems, without which public access would not be possible. Completed in 2013, the painstaking effort touched nearly every part of the building, but the project’s success is measured by the extent to which our presence disappears in service of Judd’s vision. Contemplation and action We have here both a chapel and a monument; a place for worship and a memorial to a great leader. The association of these two remarkable sites should tell us over and over again that spiritual life and active life should remain united. —Dominique de Menil A current project, presently in construction, is the restoration of the Rothko Chapel and new architecture that supports the chapel’s expanded public programming. The Rothko Chapel is both a place and a program, comprising the union of patrons John and Dominique de Menil’s ecumenism and egalitarianism with Mark Rothko’s aspiration to create deep emotional connections through the immersive experience of his art. The chapel building, completed in 1971, is a locus for spiritual enlightenment through meditation in a space Rothko defined through the integration of 14 monumental painted panels with their architectural context. The adjacent reflecting pool and Barnett Newman’s sculpture Broken Obelisk, dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr., symbolize the chapel’s mission to act as a platform for social justice through its programming, which promotes dialogue between people. The dialectic between contemplation and action, which is integral to the chapel’s institutional and architectural identity, is the basis of our design strategy. In this sense, we engage the de Menils as collaborators, too. Restoring the sense of awe A picture lives by companionship, expanding and quickening in the eyes of the sensitive observer. —Mark Rothko Our goal for the chapel restoration is to reinstate a sense of awe in each guest along with a recognition of self, which is the basis of the chapel’s social mission. This self-recognition is constituted from the experience of Rothko’s interior, an octagonal space formed by his paintings, which are portals into voids of fluctuating opacity, color, and reflectivity illuminated by a central skylight. Although he determined all the key attributes of the chapel (prevailing over the wishes of Philip Johnson, who designed the building with Howard Barnstone and Eugene Aubry), Rothko never visited Houston and died before it was completed. Choosing daylight as the primary source of illumination, he did not anticipate the harsh Texas sun, which immediately began to damage the paintings and weaken the qualities that he had so rigorously studied in his New York studio. During the decades following the opening of the chapel, three attempts to block and filter daylight with baffles did not successfully address the need to control glare and brightness. The most significant element of the restoration is an innovative lighting strategy developed by George Sexton, which opens the interior space as it was originally conceived. This includes a new skylight with an array of angled louvers, each precisely oriented to distribute daylight more evenly to Rothko’s panels. When daylight is lower than needed to see the paintings, such as on a very cloudy day or at dusk, eight digital projectors concealed in a ring around the skylight provide subtle additional illumination. Other changes, including a redesigned entry sequence, will greatly improve the quality of the experience. Mediating between the chapel and the neighborhood …a reconciliation between the ordinary and the extraordinary in a dialectical relationship… —Stephen Fox The new architecture for the chapel is grounded in both the singular power of its building and the unique character of the surrounding early-20th-century residential neighborhood, but does not overwhelm either of these contexts. This maintains the de Menils’ vision—the essence of the chapel’s identity as a program—to situate the sacred within daily life. A new landscape precinct, designed in collaboration with Nelson Byrd Woltz, is created by the removal of adjacent houses occupied by the chapel and the addition of new planting, paths, and plaza pavement. This affirms the chapel’s presence as a freestanding element within the larger open space shared with adjacent Menil Park on a block framed by a necklace of bungalows. Across Sul Ross Street, a new north campus comprises a welcome house, program center, and an administration and archive building that together define a public courtyard, which opens to the street. The scale and massing of these elements echo those of the adjacent residences, further bridging the neighborhood and the chapel. With glass walls shaded by a generous wood trellis, the porchlike welcome house is a resting place along the journey to and from the chapel. The program center, which includes a two-hundred-person meeting room, is pushed to the back of the courtyard to establish a buffer against larger development to the north. The administration and archive building aligns with the width and height of the chapel, which also sets the height of the program center. The architectural expression of the north campus extends the site strategy. The simple building forms echo the chapel’s mass and are clad in gray wood siding that relates to the existing bungalows, which are all painted gray. This vertical and horizontal board-and-batten detailing provides a play of shadows, which integrates the architecture with the dappled light that passes through the tree canopy. A large, shaded glass wall visually connects the program center’s meeting room to the courtyard and the chapel across the street. The meeting room, whose outward-looking public orientation contrasts with the chapel’s inward focus, is defined by simply spanning laminated wood beams, gray plaster walls (which match the chapel), and a wood floor. It is equipped with concealed technical infrastructure to support a variety of events, including lectures, symposia, banquets, and workshops. The north wall of the meeting room is illuminated by a continuous skylight, which brightens the interior and enables views into the space from outside. Unity …one person is a unity, and somehow, after the long complex process, a work of art is a similar unity. —Donald Judd I have created a new kind of unity, a new method of achieving unity. —Mark Rothko The restoration of 101 Spring Street and the restoration and expansion of the Rothko Chapel are deeply informed by our engagement with both posthumous and living collaborators (including the artists’ children). Sometimes our work is invisible; often there are prominent new elements. Ultimately, everything is shaped by our judgment. We seek a reciprocity between existing and new architecture, a complex layering that balances deference and distinction. These projects inform our other current work, including the design of a new visitor center for Olana, the painter Fredric Church’s property in upstate New York, and the Dia Art Foundation’s spaces in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood. Judd and Rothko used the word “unity” in describing their aspirations for art that encompasses the fullness of humanity’s relationship to the world. Dominique de Menil expressed her conviction that “spiritual life and active life should remain united.” Through these projects, we learned that inquiry and invention, grounded in empathy and humility, unite architecture with its past, present, and future cultural contexts. Adam Yarinsky is a principal at ARO.