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Moderne Miami

Shulman + Associates blends the vernacular and contemporary in hybrid facade systems
On October 4, Facades+ is coming to Miami. The conference features nine speakers from a broad range of AEC firms, ranging from architectural concrete supplier Gate Precast to Paris-based Ateliers Jean Nouvel, and Miami's own Arquitectonica. Allan Shulman, who founded Miami’s Shulman + Associates in 1996, will be co-chairing the conference. Over the last two decades, Shulman + Associates has been recognized with dozens of design awards stemming from the practice’s site-specific designs and ambitious forays into architectural preservation and urbanism. To learn more about Miami’s architectural development, AN interviewed Allan Shulman on the city’s burgeoning urbanism, adaptation to climate change, and preservation efforts. The Architect’s Newspaper: Miami is undergoing a significant period of development, with seemingly continual expansions of the Miami Design District and nationally-prestigious projects such as the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. Shulman + Associates is a player in this current trend. What factors do you perceive as driving Miami’s architectural renaissance? Allan Shulman: I am a bit skeptical of the term “significant period of development” in this city, because it seems as though the development cycle, like the touristic cycle, has sprawled into a continuous blob, not a focused moment. The challenges are therefore fundamental and strategic, not localized. Overall, I see three themes driving Miami’s development: First, we are building today the infrastructure of a great city. The reality and ambition of the city are driven by the idea of being a global city, comparable and compared to other such cities around the globe. Is the city just becoming a better version of itself? I don’t think so. Great parks and public spaces, great cultural facilities, great transportation networks, ground-up public involvement in design questions by an empowered and informed public are all at play. Yet the frustrations about our failures in this regard are as intense as the optimistic ambition. But still, the global city is the emerging measuring stick, so I think the discussion is getting more interesting. Second, we are witnessing a remarkable densification and consolidation of neighborhoods throughout the metropolitan area. In a city as decentralized as Miami, the building is not happening in just one or two areas, but across a broad swath of the city. Certainly, it is uneven and driven more by the glam end of the spectrum: downtown, Miami Beach, Wynwood, and the Design District, but you can see it cropping up around Metrorail stations, extending along Miami’s commercial arteries and mushrooming around old neighborhood centers. Also, you can see it in the widespread use of historic preservation to conserve neighborhood character, and in the vast number of civic initiatives that are a part of the discourse. Finally, it seems as though the “tropical” and the “modern” are new again. This is extraordinary…it ties us to our roots, of course. Miami has a long tradition, and some of the greatest work produced here was inspired by these themes. But it also launches us into the future because it engages two relevant themes: How do we understand and relate to our particular context? And what is the appropriate architectural solution to address the problems of today? Miami is known for its distinctive modernist heritage. How does this architectural heritage contrast or complement contemporary facade systems? AS: Miami has often been a laboratory of contemporary building systems; it certainly was in the 1930s, when the city experienced an explosion of construction. Plate and Vitrolite glass products and new lighting systems were used in support of modern architecture. Today, it is difficult to be innovative because we have a more limited array of available facade systems, compared to other cities in North America. Our building codes require compliance with water-tightness and impact criteria, and each system must be tested and approved for a specific use in order to be used in Miami-Dade County. The process is expensive and time-consuming and limits choices. Manufacturers with a large market for their product invest, but certain niche players find it not worth it. Of course, choices have expanded a lot since the imposition of the testing requirement after Hurricane Andrew in the 1990s, but this requirement is still quite limiting. Certainly glass systems have improved, as well as rain-screens and louver systems. There are a number of modern-appropriate systems we can use, but others we can’t. Restoration projects, such as Shulman + Associates' Betsy-Carlton Hotel, allow for the retention of historic properties while bringing them up to contemporary standards. How do you approach blending the new with the old, and is there a specific intervention or facade treatment that your firm is particularly proud of? AS: At the most basic level, we try to blend serious research-based preservation with inventive approaches in areas we add or adapt. We aspire to make the finished project a legible record of the building’s development over time. Regarding historic facades, we try to use the same techniques as were used in the original building’s construction, to be true to the material culture of the period. In new facades, we are all about the contemporary. We are proud of the Betsy-Carlton, where we used laser-cut aluminum to feature poetry, and abundant transparent walls at the new wings of the building while preserving the old fabric of the structure. We also developed a spherical object (an “Orb”) that ties the Betsy and the Carlton, in order to abstract an otherwise utilitarian building connection over the alley. What is new is proudly idiosyncratic and situational. The rest is context. Hurricane Irma highlighted the environmental challenges that lie ahead for Miami with increased incidents of extreme weather. What methods and techniques are currently being used across Miami and by Shulman + Associates to confront this predicament? AS: The most important new techniques involve raising buildings and protecting the facade from flying debris. We have been raising buildings for some years now, following FEMA requirements, but now we are raising them more radically, enough to open the space under the building. This is a practical and low-tech solution. The other strategy, protecting facades from flying debris, overlaps with the objective of protecting the facade from sun and rain. So hybrid facade systems that are layered in depth and have resilience are preferred. Outside of the threat of climate change and extreme weather conditions, Miami is located within a tropical climate. How can firms best adapt their facade systems to this environment, and what techniques are Shulman + Associates utilizing? AS: Adapting facade systems to the tropics is the biggest challenge we have because it affects everyday use, performance, and comfort of the building. Although we get no or little credit for it in our energy calculations, we generally shade and/or screen our facades to the extent we can. This again leads to hybrid systems that provide some depth by which to filter and dampen the extreme effects of the environment. The materials are new, but the techniques for doing this have been around since at least the postwar period. I consider myself an avid student of history in this regard. To learn more about Miami Facades+AM click here.
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Pushing Buttons

Trump reportedly pressured architect to remove braille from Trump Tower elevators
Barbara Res, the former vice president of construction for the Trump Organization, recently published an op-ed in the New York Daily News, which alleges that Donald Trump once pressured an architect to remove the braille signage from the elevators in Trump Tower in New York City. Res, who supervised the construction of the Manhattan skyscraper in the early 1980s, recalled being present as one of its architects showed Trump the newly installed elevator cabs. She says Trump was puzzled by the little raised dots on the button panel and demanded that they be taken off. When informed that braille was required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, the future president of the United States became furious. “Get rid of the [expletive] braille. No blind people are going to live in Trump Tower,” she remembered him shouting. “The more the architect protested, the angrier Trump got…As a general rule, Trump thought architects and engineers were weak as compared to construction people. And he loved to torment weak people,” wrote Res, a professional engineer. She went on to explain that this was a typical "Trump-style win-win," which allowed him to belittle a subordinate while setting up a scapegoat for any repercussions his "ridiculous orders" may bring. Although Res did not identify the architect, many have speculated that it was Der Scutt, the tower’s lead designer, who died in 2010. The firm responsible for the project, Poor, Swanke, Hayden & Connell, changed principals several times in the years that followed and filed for bankruptcy in 2015, making it difficult to corroborate the story. However, as noted by Snopes, a fact-checking website, neither the White House nor the Trump Organization have refuted it. For those familiar with president’s history of ableist comments, his organization’s suspected housing discrimination, and his administration’s hard-line position against health and safety regulations, these new allegations come as no surprise.
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Get Synced Up

Integrate building systems with new smart building technologies
Create nearly seamless integration between the machinery that makes buildings habitable. These smart technologies link HVAC systems, appliances, lighting, and plumbing to one portal, making it easier to adjust settings and monitor a building's energy output, both remotely and in situ.
wiSCAPE Hubbell Lighting Maximize energy savings with this wireless outdoor lighting system designed for developers and builders. The platform makes it easy to remotely manufacture and configure facility-scale lighting systems. Lighting Control Solution Cortet by CEL Perfect for commercial and other large-scale buildings, this wireless lighting management system allows for on-site and remote management. It is outfitted with responsive sensors and custom lighting for remote and off-site configuration. 2 myPORT by Schindler Elevator Corporation
myPORT Schindler Elevator Corporation Monitor the ebbs and flows of traffic moving through a building with real-time information. The app also provides customized access for visitors to go through entry gates. i-BRIGHT 20-10 Tri Cascade, Inc. Forget to unplug the iron? These outlets can remotely switch off. The accompanying app also monitors energy consumption. The outlets can be paired with BRIGHT Thermostats and BRIGHT Smart Dimmers.
Smart Home Water Monitor StreamLabs This water monitor detects usage and leaks in real time with ultrasonic technology. It is mounted right onto the main waterline (requiring no invasive pipe-cutting) and sends alerts to the app. Omni Awair Track the indoor temperature, humidity, CO2, chemicals (VOCs), and dust levels with real-time data. This easy-to-use portal controls and monitors multiple HVAC devices.
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This Ain't Your Parent's CAF

The new Chicago Architecture Center offers informative, tangible experiences
Chicago’s long-salient architecture non-profit, the Chicago Architecture Center, formerly the Chicago Architecture Foundation, has swapped out its old digs at the Railway Exchange Building for a high-visibility space just steps from the south end of Michigan Avenue. With the fresh location in Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s 111 East Wacker Drive, the Center's new home sits just ashore of where the world-famous architecture boat tour has launched since 1983. Designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture with exhibit designer Gallagher & Associates, the Center's spaces are designed to expand and contract with current and future exhibits, but also across Chicago’s long and continued dialogue with architecture and design. The Chicago Gallery is located inside a cavernous interior space, with a newly expanded model of the city, which has grown from 1,300 to 4,500 3-D-printed resin buildings and now includes subtle topographic features and neighborhoods as far south as Cermak Road and as far west as Sangamon Street. Interactive touch screens are positioned around the model, where visitors can search for buildings by architect or style, view data about changing land use, or explore the “10 Buildings You Should Know” feature. A film playing at intervals behind the model provides a dramatic narrative of the city's built history and is heavy on neighborhood content. This emphasis on everyday architecture continues across the rest of the Chicago Gallery, where Chicago’s vernacular architecture gets some significant airtime along with familiar names like Wright, Sullivan, and Burnham. Exhibitions continue upstairs, where the Skyscraper Gallery riffs on the Chicago invention and studies its international forms. The Building Tall exhibit features 23 skyscraper models at the scale of 1:91, including a composition of five models of buildings all of which were, at one time, the tallest in the world. These models are offset by a 40-foot-tall wall of glass where one can get up close and personal with some of Chicago’s most iconic and notorious buildings, including the Wrigley Building, Trump Tower, and the new flagship Apple store across the river. New exhibits at the Chicago Architecture Center draw from contemporary issues and reflect the profession's desire to draw in a wider audience. All are heavy on technology, but here there is a marked absence of Instagrammability, even in the supersized models of the Skyscraper Gallery. Whether intentional or not, this emphasis on physical experience over social media photo ops feels freshly genuine in contrast to made-for-Instagram museums. Exhibits are readable and tangible, but are also adaptable and future-forward, with enough variety in content to appeal both to visitors who know everything about architecture and those who know nothing at all. There is an emphasis on current and future projects, with not only Adrian Smith + Gordan Gill, but with other architects influencing the shape of Chicago to come, including Studio Gang and Goettsch Partners, as well as Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, whose design for 400 North Lake Shore Drive on the former Chicago Spire site when completed in 2023 will do more to change the skyline of Chicago than any other structure in fifty years.
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The Two Towers

New Cityplace tower could finally come to Dallas, Texas
A new tower could finally join the existing Cityplace tower in Dallas, Texas. The current 42-story building was originally planned in the 1980s as part of a massive 140-acre development that included plans for twin towers on either side of North Central Expressway, but an economic downturn foiled those plans and only one tower was ever built. But Dallas News reported this week that the site's current owner, Cityplace Co., is planning a large new hotel and office tower for the site north of Lemmon Avenue and south of Blackburn Street. The developer is pursuing a tower larger than the site's current zoning allows and will presumably not match the original tower with a twin, as the now 30-year-old plans intended. The existing Cityplace tower is the tallest building in Dallas outside of downtown and has housed office space since it was designed by Cossutta & Associates and opened in 1988. At the time it was Dallas's most expensive tower to build. The surrounding development was originally planned to house over 60 other office towers, but plans for the complex fell through after the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s hit the region and tempered the area's oil-fueled growth over the previous decade. Today, Dallas, along with the rest of Texas, is enjoying a building boom as jobs continue to grow in the region. In 2017, Texas led the nation in corporate office construction projects, and the Dallas-Fort Worth area was among the most active metropolitan regions. Cityplace Co. is slowly developing properties across the original development's neighborhood, and other developers have gotten in on the game as well. Forest City Realty Trust is partnering with Cityplace Co. to build a 23-story luxury residential tower in the area, and earlier this year Highland Capital Management bought the Cityplace tower and announced plans to upgrade the building and add restaurant and amenity spaces.  
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It’s All In The Roof

Facebook unveils views of latest Gehry-designed office expansion
Frank Gehry’s exuberant-landscape-meets-open-office phase is in full swing.  The 89-year-old architect and social media giant Facebook have unveiled select views of their recently completed MPK 21 project in Sunnyvale, California, a 523,000-square-foot addition to the company’s sprawling Northern California headquarters complex.  Built in only 18 months by Level 10 Construction, the green roof-topped slab office building is billed as an expansion of Gehry’s MPK 20 project that opened next door in 2016.  In a video announcing the completion of the offices, Gehry explains that with MPK 21, his office and the client sought to put into place lessons learned from the MPK 20 building. As a result, the new 3.6-acre green roof for MPK 21 spans multiple levels—instead of just one, as is the case for MPK 20—and becomes a central, planted courtyard at the heart of the complex studded with social and work-related spaces. The garden links rooftop, offices, and the neighboring buildings and also features over 200 trees, including over a dozen 40-foot-tall redwood trees, as well as a half-mile-long meandering pathway and an amphitheater.  Within, the complex is organized around a central spine that links open office areas, quiet workstations, dining facilities, and a 2,000-person digital meeting space. The complex contains 15 art installations that were developed in conjunction with an artist-in-residence program. The building also comes studded with environmentally-friendly bells and whistles, including a reclaimed water system designed to save about 17 million gallons annually, 175,000 square feet of fritted windows to protect migrating birds, and a 1.4-megawatt solar panel system that will generate almost 2 million kilowatt hours of electricity yearly. Plans call for completing a two-acre public park and plaza adjacent to the offices within the year with a forthcoming elevated bicycle bridge slated to span across the Bayfront Expressway heading to the site, as well. In conjunction with the project, Facebook says it has contributed $20 million in funding for affordable housing and rental assistance programs to local authorities while it works with regional partners to reopen the Dumbarton Transportation Corridor as a multi-nodal transitway to help alleviate some of the traffic congestion that is likely to occur due to the new offices.
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Hyper Loop-The-Loops

Catch up on Elon Musk’s summer rollercoaster ride
Elon Musk has had a summer of ups and downs in 2018, even after putting aside all of the twists-and-turns of his personal life and turmoil at Tesla. In May, Musk announced that The Boring Company would be turning its excavated dirt and rock into bricks for low-cost housing. What started as an attempt to sell more Boring Company merchandise ala their flamethrower—in this case, “giant Lego bricks”—soon morphed into an unspecified commitment on Musk’s part to build future Boring Company offices from muck bricks. Future Hyperloop tunnels might be able to swap out concrete for the seismically-rated bricks, but they’re unlikely to lower affordable housing costs much; land and labor are the most expensive aspects of new construction. While The Boring Company hasn’t actually constructed much except for a short test tunnel in Hawthorne, Los Angeles, Musk scored a win when the City of Chicago chose the company to build a high-speed train route connecting the city's Loop to O’Hare International Airport. Or did they? After a lawsuit was filed against the city in mid-August by the Better Government Association (BGA), the city claimed that the plan was still “pre-decisional” and that no formal agreement had been struck yet. If the loop is ever built, The Boring Company would dig two tunnels under the city and connect Block 37 in the Loop to O’Hare. Electrically-driven pods, with capacity for up to 16 passengers, would arrive at a station every 30 seconds and complete a one-way trip in 12 minutes. There are still major concerns over the project’s feasibility and cost, as Musk had pledged that construction would take only one year if the company used currently non-existent (and unproven) tunneling technology. The project could cost up to $1 billion, which The Boring Company would pay for out of pocket and recoup by selling $20 to $25 tickets, advertising space, and merchandise. On Tesla’s end, problems with the company’s much-vaunted solar roof tiles have bubbled over. Production has slowed at Tesla’s Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, New York, as equipment problems and aesthetic issues have prevented the factory from rolling out tiles on a large scale. Tesla is pledging that they can ramp up production at the state-owned factory by the end of 2018, as the company tries to fulfill the $1,000 preorders placed after the tiles’ reveal nearly two years ago. Not to let the end of summer slip by without one last announcement, Musk took to Twitter to release a Boring Company proposal for an underground “Dugout Loop” in L.A. Several conceptual designs were included for different routes between the Red Line subway and Dodgers Stadium that would use technology similar to what Musk has proposed in Chicago to ferry passengers along the 3.6-mile-long trip in only four minutes. It’s unlikely that the Dugout Loop will come to pass, as L.A. is already looking to realize a $125 million gondola system that could carry up to 5,000 passengers an hour. What the fall will bring for Musk, we can only guess.
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The Trolley Problem

New York’s BQX streetcar on hold as de Blasio appeals for federal funding
The saga of New York City’s proposed Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX) streetcar has taken yet another turn, as Mayor Bill de Blasio placed responsibility for funding the $2.5-billion project on the federal government. At an August 24 media roundtable, de Blasio dodged questions about how much the city would be contributing to the project and claimed that while a detailed BQX plan was incoming, federal subsidies were necessary to move things along. “When we have a more detailed plan we'll speak to it,” said de Blasio, “but the primary focus I have beyond the resources that would be created via its very existence because of increased property taxes for that area, is the need for federal support. I don't think it's doable without federal support, but we'll speak to the details.” It looks like the federal government is throttling back its investments in mass transit, as the Federal Transit Administration has been consistently decreasing the amount of money allocated to intra-city projects. Still, it might not be impossible for the city government to secure federal funds for the BQX; the Gateway rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey, long maligned by President Trump, has seen a consistent trickle of money through Congressional action. While the city still has yet to release a draft report of the BQX’s route, there has been no mention of changing the 2019 groundbreaking. The de Blasio administration was (and seemingly still is) shooting for a 2024 completion date, but even if funding is secured in time, the reconstruction of the decaying Brooklyn-Queens Expressway could alter any previously proposed route. De Blasio added that details on the BQX’s next steps would be forthcoming. “Figuring out how to do it is what we've been working on cause it is complex, we're going to have an announcement soon on the details. But, you know, bottom line is the original concept makes sense, we believe there will be some real funding created by its presence but, we're gonna need some additional support.” The nonprofit Friends of the BQX declined to comment.
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Digging Deeper

Amos Rex brings underground art and a lunar playscape to Helsinki
A pink gecko scuttles across a psychedelic digital landscape, deftly navigating a tangled maze of drifting butterflies, waddling alligators, and a pair of pensive whales passing below. Stepping on any creature will result in its explosive demise, yet simply navigating the trippy environment renders such destruction inevitable. This sort of high-tech super-nature is par for the course in Japanese art collective teamLab’s immersive exhibitions but a first for Helsinki, Finland—and Amos Rex, the new art museum hosting the group’s first show in the Nordic region. The five-year, $64-million Amos Rex project was carried out by local Finnish firm JKMM and supported largely by Konstsamfundet, the association behind the old Amos Rex Art Museum (RIP 1965–2017). The project involved both a $17-million facelift of Lasipalatsi, the "Glass Palace" built in central Helsinki in the 1930s by three Finnish architecture students for the 1940 Helsinki Olympics (which was postponed until 1952 due to the Second World War), as well as the construction of a new underground art museum particularly well-suited for new media and immersive installation art. Because Lasipalatsi was originally supposed to be temporary, its young designers received carte blanche, resulting in an ambitious Functionalist fun home that includes a cinema, restaurants, shops, and a backdoor public square surrounded by 19th-century neoclassical barracks. Almost destroyed in the 1980s but listed and restored in the 1990s when it reemerged with a glorious inner coat of pastels, the Glass Palace is a resilient building with a tumultuous past. JKMM have taken care to preserve much of this history, including its doors and windows, fitted furniture and movie seats, plus the first outdoor neon sign in Finland. The revitalized 550-seat art deco cinema and new film program will be the delight of many a cinephile, yet the most compelling aspect of Lasipalatsi—and where the old most energetically meets the new—is out back. Once the site of military parades, the historic public square has been transformed into a surreal lunar landscape, where a series of bulbous domes sporting large round windows now connects a veritable jungle gym of a plaza to an underground art hub. “I was sitting in a meeting a couple of weeks ago, when suddenly a man with a stroller appeared right outside the window of our second-floor office,” grins Timor Riitamaa, the head of communications and marketing at Amos Rex. “That was when I realized the park was open.” Positioned somewhere between alien topography and an ancient lifeform, the textured concrete playscape is a total hit in Helsinki. Sunbathers, selfie-snapping teens, Instagram influencers, romping children, and even daredevil parents can be seen ascending the five volcano-like protrusions to peer down into the subterranean art world below. Within the museum, sliding butts, squished noses and photography wars are now as common a view as the art, which unfurls in a columnless 24,000-square-foot gallery space. Building underground is never easy, and for JKMM it involved burrowing through nearly 140,000 square feet of hard bedrock found right underneath the city’s surface. Their approach was slow but steady—and went largely unnoticed. The square closed in 2015 so that the architects could carry out miniature controlled explosions, timed for every four minutes so the Helsinki Metro system could run undisturbed. It was a teeth-gritting exercise, but little of that angst can be felt from the ethereal white staircase connecting Lasipalatsi to the new museum lobby below. Descending the stairs, a generous view out onto the square framing Lasipalatsi’s old columns beside new sci-fi domes is swallowed up by a cloud of soft lighting. Designed by Finnish company Doctor Design, the textured ceiling of pleated fabric shades diffuses light through rows of flower-like pendants. Tightly bundled together in a way that floats between surrealism and Finnish National Romanticism, the lights are a clear nod to Lasipalatsi’s heritage. The ceiling flower field yields to two large tunnels ending in angled circular skylights that peer out onto the public plaza some 20 feet above. One offers a significant view out onto the staircase of the old theatre, while the second was framed by the tiny hands and faces of several miniature onlookers during my visit. Futuristic circular benches are positioned directly below, seemingly at the ready for sky-gazers. “We wanted the feeling of going underground to be as positive and light as possible,” says Kai Kartio, director of Amos Rex. “We had to go under, but our solution was to bring the museum upwards—you always have contact with daylight,” confirms Freja Stahlberg, the project architect. The extent of the sculptural skylights’ magnetic effect on the public square above was a delightful surprise for both architect and museum. Back below ground, Massless, the inaugural exhibition by teamLab, echoes the world-making imagination of the architects. Four immersive installations make full use of JKMM’s revolutionary modular museum layout, realized through an acoustic-disk ceiling made from perforated aluminum and a wooden gridded floor below which “data, air, and power all flow,” according to the architect. The museum’s high-tech fixtures meet their match in the 137 projectors, motion sensor technology, and eight miles of cables that make up teamLab’s digital multiverse. The exhibition consists of fan favorites like Graffiti Nature as well as Vortex of Light Particles, a site-specific piece that involves an inverted waterfall seemingly bent on sucking visitors into an Anish Kapoor-like black hole that inhabits the main domed ceiling. Vortex is clearly the stuff of tripping nerds’ dreams (it was a hit among Silicon Valley tech bros at Pace in Palo Alto), while its dark dreamscape subverts the light-filled expectations of Amos Rex, proving the museum’s versatility. “Virtual reality isolates you in a virtual space. We are trying to bring everyone back to a physical space,” said teamLab member Nonaka Kazumasa. While Massless uses digital technology to bring its viewers closer to nature and each other, Amos Rex performs the larger function of bringing untraditional art experiences to Helsinki’s public in a spatially-sensitive and cost-effective way. It is a cunning answer to the city's future urban development plan that prioritizes inner-city densification, but Amos Rex should also be seen as a testament to the merits of building deeper and the informal spaces for public play that can bubble up to the surface.
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Climate Irony

Texas fast-tracks seawalls for oil and gas infrastructure
Exactly one year after Hurricane Harvey touched down in Texas, Gulf Coast oil and gas industries have reportedly been lobbying hard for protection against the rising tides. As Houston residents prepare to go to the ballot over a $2.5 billion resiliency and flood mitigation bond package on August 25, the Texas state government has already approved $3.9 billion to protect oil refineries. Texas Governor Greg Abbott and other state leaders had proposed a $61 billion plan for rebuilding and hardening the state’s coast in November of last year, but at the time, officials in the fiscally conservative state balked at the cost. Texas was far from the only state swamped by a heavy hurricane season last year, and with wildfires raging across the West Coast, lawmakers claimed that disaster relief funding had been stretched thin. The most ambitious portion of the Rebuild Texas plan proposed last year was the “Ike Dike,” a $12 billion series of levees and seawalls along the Gulf Coast that would form a protective “spine.” If the plan were funded, three large barriers would be installed along the Houston-Galveston coast to protect against flooding. Now, as AP reports, while the state is still trying to secure the public funding necessary to build the spine, the aforementioned $3.9 billion will go towards building three smaller seawalls to protect oil and gas infrastructure. That was deliberate on the part of the Texas Land Commissioner’s Office, as Hurricane Harvey knocked out about a quarter of the area’s refining capability. Refineries along the Gulf Coast are responsible for 30 percent of America’s refining capacity. The taxpayer-funded sections will provide a six-mile-long stretch of 19-foot-tall seawalls along Port Arthur on the Texas-Louisiana border, 25 miles of floodwalls around Orange County, and the final swath would protect Freeport. Construction is slated to begin in the next few months and once these disparate projects are complete, they could become part of a larger protection network if the rest of the funding is secured later. Still, the irony of the fossil fuel industry asking for money to protect against the effects of climate change was not lost on advocates and casual observers. “The oil and gas industry is getting a free ride,” Brandt Mannchen of the Houston Sierra Club told AP. “You don’t hear the industry making a peep about paying for any of this and why should they? There’s all this push like, ‘Please Senator Cornyn, Please Senator Cruz, we need money for this and that.’”
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Architect of Light

Peep these modernist homes transplanted into Thomas Kinkade paintings
Ever looked at a Thomas Kinkade painting of a cozy cottage nestled into an impossibly golden landscape and thought: That picture would be better with some avant-garde architecture? If so, you're not alone. One Indianapolis-based architect took to Twitter this weekend to debut his series of mashups featuring modernist structures set inside Kinkade's light-filled, idyllic settings. The resulting images—which are stunning—were precipitated when architect Donna Sink asked the Twitterverse if anyone could take on the challenge: @robyniko responded saying he’d start off “easy” with Louis Kahn’s Fisher House, which apparently screams “for the twilight treatment.” Several other interested viewers chimed in with requests for @robyniko, and the series began to form. He set Philip Johnson’s Glass House within a breathtaking creekside mountain vista, and then put Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye inside a Christmas winter wonderland. He also placed Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House within a meadow and forest landscape. @robyniko’s Twitter bio discloses that he’s a self-proclaimed procrastinator, but this mashup series was undoubtedly encouraged by those scrolling in earnest and tweeting at him: “You definitely had to do this,” from @SWardArch, and, “I hope these end up in your portfolio,” from @ianwrob. The Architect’s Newspaper reached out to @robyniko to get more details on why he decided to pursue the unlikely project. “It was one of those asides that you chuckle about imagining and then move on,” he said, “but I was home for the weekend without my family and decided to indulge my curiosity about how these famous modernist homes would fit into Kinkade’s universe.” @robyniko noted that though he approached the project as a way to distract himself, it ended up conjuring something worthy of discussion. “I think that, given the difference in who typically appreciates Kinkade’s ‘never-was’ nostalgia versus who likes modern architecture,” he said, “it can be part of a conversation about architecture, representation, and how the public responds to both.” And the response was clearly strong. When @robnyiko uploaded his final rendered masterpiece, the oceanside Gehryhaus—a relocation of Frank Gehry’s residence in the Santa Monica suburbs—his followers realized all of these water-adjacent buildings represented in the thread would be likely to flood. In a later tweet, @robnyiko jokingly concluded that Kinkade’s work is a commentary on climate change, a theory he backs up with an attached screenshot of a Google Image search showing row after row of blown-out Kinkade paintings with skies that evoke the smoke and haze of this summer's wildfires. Maybe Kinkade’s work isn’t a nod to global warming, and maybe these modernist homes strictly belong where they were originally built. But this mashup presents a unique perspective on how a piece of architecture can be irrevocably altered when it's transplanted into new surroundings, especially those of Kinkade's somewhat surreal universe. More than that, these world-renowned buildings become nearly unrecognizable in these alternate settings, presenting questions about the relationship between the stark, minimalist designs and the soft, meadowy landscapes. As both Kinkade's work and modernism as a movement can be potentially polarizing forms of art, can these genres combine to form a common ground for people to see them in a new light? 
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Cold Hard Cash

The world’s largest ice-skating center could be coming to the Bronx
Plans are underway for the 750,000-square-foot Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx to become the world’s largest ice-skating complex, according to its developers. Crain’s New York reported that the development duo of Kevin Parker, former Deutsche Bank executive, and Mark Messier, former center for the New York Rangers, have secured financing for phase one of their $350 million project, which they plan to begin constructing mid-next year. Parker said that Citibank has promised his group, Kingsbridge National Ice Center, a significant loan for construction to be paired with the $35 million already raised through private investment. “Citibank is committed to doing the first phase of the project,” he told Crain’s. “And they’ve indicated a strong desire to finance the second phase. But we’re going one step at a time.” If approved by New York City officials, the first phase of construction would include the build-out of the 5-acre site into nine rinks, athletic facilities, and a 5,000-seat stadium. Construction for phase one would likely total $170 million in overall costs and Parker hopes to raise money for the remainder of the project in order to complete it by 2022. The Kingsbridge National Ice Center has been a six-year dream in the making for Parker and Messier. The city currently owns the armory and hasn’t given the pair a lease, telling the duo that the city would wait until further financing was secured. The new fundraising news presumably means that the city will be ready to greenlight the project. Earlier this year, Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged to give the project a $138 million loan to help it find long-term financing after phase one is done. Parker and Messier’s idea for an ice facility beat out other proposals that would have transformed the century-old red brick building into either a film and television complex, a mixed sports center, or a chess center. A highly-contested site, it was designated a New York City landmark in 1974 and was heralded as a leading example of military architecture. The armory originally housed the National Guard and features an 800-seat auditorium and a 180,000-square-foot drill hall. The nine-story structure includes an iconic, curved, sloping metal roof that can be seen from the Major Deegan Expressway and from the surrounding neighborhood near Fordham University.