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Low Line

San Antonio’s “Latino High Line” opens to the public
The first part of phase 1 of the San Pedro Creek redevelopment in San Antonio, Texas, is now open to the public, and the waterway’s rejuvenation has been touted as a celebration of Latino culture in the city. San Antonio-based Muñoz and Company was tapped in 2015 to design the 2.2-mile-long restoration of what was then a concrete drainage ditch. The completion of phase 1.1, a 2,200-foot-long stretch of riverwalk christened San Pedro Creek Culture Park, marks just one part of a four-phase plan to revitalize the 2.2-mile-long creek. “As the Trump administration boasts about building a wall between us and our Mexican roots, San Pedro Creek will be a national symbol for Latino and Anglo communities actually coming together to celebrate their shared values, history, and future,” said Henry R. Muñoz, Principal in Charge at Muñoz and project lead. “This unveiling marks the start of San Pedro Creek’s restoration, turning this neglected creek into the ‘Latino High Line,’ which exemplifies the community’s rich heritage and stands for a national dialogue playing out in nearly every city across the country.” The opening of the first phase on May 5 coincided with the 300th anniversary of San Antonio and was commemorated by the unveiling of Rain from the Heavens, a public art installation cut on stainless steel panels depicting what the stars looked like that night in 1718. Also on display in the Cultural Park are murals that honor the local culture of San Antonio and surrounding Bexar County, by artists Adriana Garcia, Katie Pell, Alex Rubio, and Joe Lopez. San Pedro Creek once flowed freely through the city but has been deepened, rerouted, and sometimes covered entirely since the 1700s. Each area of the river will eventually have its own design and accompanying visual identity, but retain a focus on the local ecology, history of San Antonio, and the water itself. The San Pedro Creek Culture Park section is hemmed in by historic limestone walls, and features widened walkways, a new boardwalk overlook, benches, and new landscaping that uses indigenous aquatic plants and trees. The widening and deepening of the creek also boosted the waterway’s ability to sequester stormwater, in addition to the five new bioswales that were installed. Phase 1.2 of the project is under construction and set to finish in 2020.
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Shadow Modeling

This digital 3-D model of Boston reveals the shadows cast by new construction
On May 8, Boston’s Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) released a digital 3-D model of the city. Built with GIS and CAD, the map encompasses approximately 129,000 buildings, each roughly outlined to indicate overall massing and height. According to the Boston Globe, the map was partially inspired by debates surrounding shadows cast on the Boston Commons by new skyscrapers, such as the nearly 700-foot-tall Winthrop Square Tower. The 3-D model uses Boston’s monthly average amount of daylight to effectively represent each building’s impact on citywide light exposure. Areas with dense concentrations of skyscrapers, primarily Downtown Boston, are depicted as casting shadow overs large swaths of the city. On the map, the function of each building within the city is graphically represented through the use of a color scheme sequenced to Boston’s zoning regulatory framework. Industrial districts, such as Marine Industrial Park, are clearly discernible from residential quarters such as adjacent City Point. Beyond the representation of each individual building’s function, the model outlines the city’s zoning districts, sub districts and special planning areas. As a coastal city, the BPDA has to accommodate for inevitable rises in sea level. To this end, the model also maps out Boston’s FEMA National Flood Hazard Areas, as well as areas that would be significantly impacted by a 100-year flood of 40 inches or more. Additionally, the model shows Boston’s entire public transport network, university system, and areas subject to urban renewal policies. While the 3-D model only includes existing buildings and those under construction, the BPDA is hoping to incorporate planned developments into the model to allow for their visualization within a larger urban context.
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A Wine Oasis

This Napa Valley winery is a midcentury modernist desert dream
The recently completed Ashes & Diamonds Winery by Bestor Architecture aims to bring a bit of Southern California’s desert-postcard fantasy to Napa Valley wine country. The 19,840-square-foot cut-and-paste homage to midcentury modernism is situated on a 30-acre site and features a collection of austere production facilities flanked by a swanky tasting room and public courtyard. The main production facility rises two stories and is marked by Albert Frey–inspired porthole windows on three sides. The tasting room is located next door in a low wood-frame-and-stucco building wrapped by large expanses of floor-to-ceiling glass. The compressed, insulated box is situated directly underneath a prefabricated 3,585-square-foot steel canopy structure reminiscent of the folded plane architecture of Donald Wesley. The lounge spaces open out onto a shared courtyard within the L-shape configuration of structures, revealing short, spiky cacti and a grassy knoll framed by a meandering concrete path. Ashes & Diamonds Winery 4130 Howard Lane Napa, California Architect: Bestor Architecture Tel: 707-666-4777
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Finishing School

LOHA, SOM, and Kevin Daly Architects collaborate on new student housing at UCSB
The University of California, Santa Barbara’s (UCSB) new San Joaquin Villages by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA), Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill (SOM), and Kevin Daly Architects (KDA) opened to student residents during the fall 2017 semester. The expansive project brings over 1,000 student beds and a string of campus amenities clustered around open courtyards to the housing-starved university’s North Campus. The village master plan was created by SOM, which also completed the new  Tenaya Towers—a pair of six-story housing blocks—to create 65 new, three-bedroom, two-bath apartments. For the project, SOM designed a pair of parallel towers that are oriented east-to-west that are studded with projecting balconies to help maintain passive airflow and enrich student life. SOM also added a new freestanding pavilion to a plaza located between the two towers that will contain study spaces and a recreation room. In addition, the towers are outfitted with rooftop terraces overlooking the public spaces below. The project also includes a new dinning commons by architects KieranTimberlake. The project site was reworked by landscape architect Tom Leader and Sherwood Design Engineers—which provided civil engineering and site design—to redirect stormwater runoff into new biofiltration planters and bioswales that will purify the captured water before draining it into adjacent wetlands. The adjacent North Village site is carved up into four principal parcels, with LOHA and KDA each taking two sites to create a patchwork of low-rise, interconnected housing blocks. The intentionally utilitarian accommodations are linked by acrobatic exterior circulation and shared student amenity spaces, like a handsome laundromat outfitted with operable awning windows and a spare, wood fin-clad organic market. Together, these areas bring 107 three-bedroom, two-bath apartments to UCSB. Lorcan O’Herlihy, principal at LOHA, said, “UCSB dormitories have typically pushed circulation to their exterior envelope, with an inert central courtyard accessible only from within the building. [Our] design inverts this circulation scheme, [creating] a reductive exterior edge with an open, lively interior courtyard containing all building circulation, encouraging movement throughout the complex.” The grouped structures are made up of shifting, canted geometries and are clad alternately in corrugated metal panels, wood fins, and stucco along the exterior, campus-facing areas. The LOHA-designed blocks feature painted plaster walls along the courtyard exposures. Social hubs—including reading rooms, social spaces, and dining facilities—float around the complex, projecting from second-floor perches in some instances, tucked snugly below elevated walkways in others. The units themselves are designed with passive ventilation in mind, and windows are wrapped in both vertical and shaped aluminum sunshades, depending on the orientation and structure. Overall, the multifaceted project updates campus housing, deeply embedding shared social experiences into campus life through simple ornamentation and permeability.
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Veni, Vedi, Faci

10 great architectural moments of Milan Design Week
With the opening of OMA’s Torre for Fondazione Prada, tours of midcentury Villa Borsani, and (a few days late to the Design Week party and thus not included here) the completion of Zaha Hadid Architects’ Generali Tower, Milan Design Week 2018 was exceptionally steeped in architecture. There was the usual abundance of collaborations with architects, such as Alejandro Aravena for Artemide, John Pawson for Swarovski, and David Rockwell’s The Diner with Cosentino and Design Within Reach, but it was the host of architectural installations and interventions that took it over the top. Here are ten memorable architectural moments of Milan Design Week 2018. Garage Traversi The rationalist 1938 Garage Traversi in Milan’s Montenapoleone District received a facade makeover by Studio Job for Milan Design Week. The Pop Art mural comes in advance of the building’s renovation into a “luxury hub” by British private equity fund Hayrish. The reinforced concrete building, originally designed by architect Giacomo de Min, sits on an odd lot, leading to it being built like a fan and resulting in its popularity. The iconic building has been unused for 15 years, but has retained its reputation as a cultural and architectural landmark. U-JOINT PlusDesign Gallery hosted an immensely satisfying architectural exhibition on joints. The group show offered joints of all sizes, materials, and shapes to demonstrate its importance in objects and buildings alike. Over 50 designers, studios, and research institutes, including Alvar Aalto, Aldo Bakker, Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby, Konstantin Grcic, Jonathan Nesci, Cecilie Manz, Self-Assembly Lab MIT, and Jonathan Olivares, displayed prototypes and products. My Dream Home by Piero Lissoni “My Dream Home,” an installation by Piero Lissoni, stacks twelve shipping containers vertically to host an exhibition by photographers Elisabetta Illy and Stefano Guindani of photos taken in Haiti alongside drawings by Haitian children of their dream homes. Lissoni chose to build with containers as an inexpensive, sustainable option that could potentially be used for multi- and single-family homes in Haiti. Altered States Snarkitecture is no stranger to Milan Design Week installations. For its most recent, the firm partnered with Caesarstone to create “Altered States” inside the 19th-century Palazzo dell'Ufficio Elettorale di Porta Romana. The installation examined water in its three forms (ice, liquid, steam/vapor) and the way it appears in nature (glacier, river, geyser) through a collection of kitchen islands made from Caesarstone’s quartz surface material. Villa Borsani In advance of an exhibition curated by Norman Foster and Osvaldo Borsani’s grandson, the Villa Borsani opened to visitors after being newly decorated by curator Ambra Medda, who collaborated with various artists to bring in floral arrangements, scents, and a playlist that enliven the midcentury villa. James Wines X Foscarini James Wines/SITE collaborated with Foscarini to make the “Reverse Room,” a slanting black box that houses a limited edition set of lights called "The Lightbulb Series." Wines relied on his research on subconscious spatial expectations to keep visitors constantly surprised. “This series comes from the idea of disrupting the classic design of incandescent light bulbs,” Wines said in a statement. “An idea that suggests a critical reflection on the absolutely non-iconic forms of modern LED lamps. The concept, implemented by Foscarini, stems from research on the spontaneous way people identify with forms and functions of everyday objects. In this case, the light bulbs merge crack, shatter, and burn out, overturning any expectations.” Fondazione Prada On April 18, the Fondazione Prada completed the latest, and last, building in its 200,000-square-foot Milan complex. Torre, designed by Rem Koolhaas, Chris van Duijn, and Federico Pompignoli of OMA, is wrapped in white concrete and nearly 197 feet tall. This form offers a two-fold experience: From the exterior, the spare, modern block contrasts with the more ornate buildings of the campus (the Italianate-style entry building, gold-painted tower, and the mirror-clad theater, among others) and from the interior, sweeping views of the surrounding industrial neighborhood. At the back of the building, an exterior elevator core is intersected by a diagonal form that connects the Torre to the adjacent Deposito gallery. The elevator's interior is painted an electrifying hot pink, framing the panorama of the campus in madcap fashion. The gallery's floors, currently occupied by the exhibition Atlas, are similarly eclectic. Floor plans alternate between trapezoidal and rectangular and the ceiling heights increase from about 9 feet on the first floor to 26 feet on the top floor, with glowing pink staircases in between. Even so, the space complements rather than competes with massive, immersive installations from heavy-hitting artists such as Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons. (Although the maze-like entrance to Carsten Höller's Upside Down Mushroom is so dark, this writer ran into a wall.) 3D Housing 05 Massimiliano Locatelli | CLS Architetti collaborated with Arup, Italcementi, and Cybe to 3-D print a 1,076-square-foot house on-site. The house, located in front of the Piazza Cesare Beccaria, demonstrated that 3-D printing could be used as a sustainable and feasible construction method. The house was 3-D printed from a recycled concrete that, in the event the house is destroyed, could be reused to make a new structure. Lexus Design Award This year marked two firsts for the 2018 Lexus Design Award (LDA) Grand Prix Winner: It was the first time an American design team took home the prize, and the first time a workshop, rather than a product, won. New York design research studio, Extrapolation Factory, “studies the future” and helps communities create and experience their cities’ futures through workshops and activities. “We all have a vested interest in the future. But how many people have taken a class in futures?” asked Extrapolation Factory cofounder Elliott P. Montgomery. “We’ve had classes in history, math, science, but we are never taught how to think about the future. And this seems like a glaring omission in our country’s education.” Montgomery and his cofounder Christopher Woebken conducted a workshop at the Queens Museum and presented a video alongside a few props as their LDA presentation. The unusual urban planning project garnered praise for its focus on community and its exploration of society, technology, and environment. “It’s completely different than the other participants because it isn’t product-based. It is about education and using design as a way to engage with people, and given the context of the theme, CO-, we felt that was incredibly important,” said Simone Farresin of Formafantasma, who mentored the Extrapolation Factory for the LDA. MINI Living House London-based architecture firm Studiomama created four modular co-living spaces for MINI. Each module had its own color and built-in furniture “totems” that distinguish the space’s personality. The four units share communal spaces, including a kitchen (shown above), a dining area, a gym, and home theater space.
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Block and Roll

Armenian American Museum moves forward after Glendale City Council vote
The monolithic Armenian American Museum (AAM) in Glendale, California, is officially a step closer to reality after the Glendale City Council voted to approve the current design on April 17. The nearly 60,000-square-foot museum, massed as a dramatic cube that upturns above the building’s entrances, was designed by Glendale’s Alajajian Marcoosi Architects (AMA). The heavily engraved facade simultaneously references both Mount Ararat as well as the Verdugo Mountains surrounding the city of Glendale. It’s a fitting touch, as the museum itself will hold exhibitions and historical research into the Armenian American experience, and because Glendale holds the greatest number of Armenian residents in the U.S. The City Council’s approval paves the way for formalizing the construction of the $30 million museum. As LA Weekly reports, a 55-year, one-dollar-a-year lease is being finalized so that the museum can build on the southwest corner of Central Park Paseo, which is currently undergoing an overhaul by the international SWA Group that will ultimately increase the amount of available green space. The AAM will have the option to renew its lease up to four times in ten-year increments. The back of the AAM’s three-story block will open up to new “Glendale Central Park,” as well as a through-block pedestrian, adult recreation center, central library, and a children’s play zone. The 40,000 to 50,000 square feet lost by the museum will be offset by the conversion of existing parking spaces in Central Park Paseo into parkland. Inside, the museum will strive to build bridges across different immigrant communities by carving out space to hold cultural displays, as well as an international demonstration kitchen. Construction is slated to begin summer 2019, with the AAM’s opening in 2022, presuming that the funding goal can be met. While the state has given the institution a $4 million grant, the rest of the $30 million will be coming from private donations.
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Book Worms

Here are the winners of the Society of Architectural Historians 2018 awards
On April 20, the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) announced the 2018 awardees of the SAH Publication Awards and the SAH Award for Film and Video. The seven awardees are divided into six categories, ranging from exhibition catalogues to documentary film. The Society of Architectural Historians is an international organization advocating the study and preservation of architecture and urbanism. The organization was founded in 1940 at Harvard University, but is now located in Chicago’s Charnley-Persky House, a residence designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan. Alice Davis Hitchcock Book Award: This award annually recognizes distinguished scholarly publications in the field of architectural history by a North American scholar. There are two winners: Kathryn E. O’Rourke Modern Architecture in Mexico City: History Representation, and the Shaping of a Capital O’ Rourke’s Modern Architecture in Mexico City presents a narrative of Mexico City’s distinctive modernist movement, one blending Aztec motifs and International Style architecture within the same context. O’Rourke looks toward educational centers, government ministries, and private residences to construct her interpretation of this distinct historical moment. Mrinalini Rajagopalan Building Histories: The Archival and Affective Lives of Five Monuments in Modern Delhi Rajagopolan’s Building Histories examines the historical memories constructed around “five medieval monuments in Delhi–the Red Fort, Rasul Numa Dargah, Jama Masjid, Purana Qila, and the Qutb complex.” Through archival research, the author seeks to demonstrate how colonial and post-colonial authorities have manipulated architectural history and artifacts to suit their political needs.   Philip Johnson Exhibition Catalogue Award: This award acknowledges an exhibition catalogue that explores architectural history in a unique and engaging way. Nina Stritzler-Levine and Timo Riekko, Editors Artek and the Aaltos: Creating a Modern World Atrek and the Aaltos: Creating a Modern World began as a Bard Graduate Center exhibition focusing on Finnish architects Alvar Aalto and Aino Marsio-Alto and their design company, Artek. A catalogue of this exhibition, the book features images of over three hundred objects designed by the company and critical interpretations of their work.   Spiro Kostof Award: This award recognizes interdisciplinary studies of urban history that advance our understanding of urban development. John North Hopkins The Genesis of Roman Architecture Hopkins’ The Genesis of Roman Architecture tracks the development of Roman architecture as the dominant stylistic influence of the Mediterranean world. Additionally, the book examines cultural exchanges between the growing Roman Republic and neighboring civilizations and their impact on Roman artistry.   Honorable Mention Michele Lamprakos Building a World Heritage City: Sanaa, Yemen Building a World Heritage City examines Yemen’s capital as a historic city that has continued its traditional building methods and ways of life to the present day. With the backdrop of the ongoing Yemeni Civil War, the book provides an eloquent account of the threatened ancient settlement.   Elisabeth Blair MacDougall Book Award: The MacDougall Book Award annually awards a distinguished work focusing on the history of landscape architecture. John Beardsley, Editor Cultural Landscape Heritage in Sub-Saharan Africa Beardsley’s Cultural Landscape Heritage in Sub-Saharan Africa is a collection of essays focusing on pre-colonial African landscaping. The sites discussed in the book range from pathways to ceremonial spaces. Through this discussion, the author highlights how these sites were perceived by colonial authorities and by contemporary nation-building policies.   Founders’ JSAH Article Award: The Founders’ Award recognizes an article published in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. Sabine von Fischer “A Visual Imprint of Moving Air: Methods, Models, and Media in Architectural Sound Photography, ca. 1930” Von Fischer’s “A Visual Imprint of Moving Air” examines the role of photography and images in the early 20th century study of architectural acoustics. In particular, von Fischer focuses on the experiments of Franz Max Osswald, a Swiss academic who used the schlieren technique for photographic sound.   SAH Award for Film and Video: This award recognizes a film or video that deepens the understanding of the built environment and delivers it to a new audience. Peter Rosen, Director Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future Rosen’s documentary on Eero Saarinen chronicles the life and work of the Finnish-American architect, and is part of PBS' American Masters television series. The film includes interviews with contemporary architects Cesar Pelli, Robert A.M Stern and Rafael Vinoly.
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Chinatown Takeover

Studio Gang unveils renderings for sinuous tower in Los Angeles’ Chinatown
Chicago-based Studio Gang, French real estate investment company Compagnie de Phalsbourg, developer Creative Space, and European lifestyle brand MOB Hotel have unveiled plans for a towering hotel and apartment tower complex slated for Los Angeles’s Chinatown neighborhood.  The sinuous, glass-wrapped tower will rise diagonally from a site currently occupied by a pair of commercial buildings and a parking lot, among other uses. A rendering released by the development team depicts a tower that grows wider as it rises from the site, revealing larger, cantilevered floor plates containing balcony spaces along its uppermost floors. The project is among the first high-profile developments in the neighborhood following recent new construction and the completion of the Los Angeles State Historic Park. The project will likely transform the neighborhood, replacing a modestly-scaled commercial area with plazas, a 149-key hotel, and 300 new residences. It does not contain an affordable housing component.  “This project transforms a parking lot and commercial strip into an architecture that opens up the potential of the site to connect neighborhoods,” Studio Gang Founding Principal Jeanne Gang explained via press release. Gang added, “Responding to the growing needs of the city, we designed the footprint to enable new generous outdoor public space at ground level while simultaneously creating a curved upper volume to capture views, light, and air for the building’s inhabitants.” The project comes as development around the new state park heats up, with several other multi-phase, mixed-use developments currently in the pipeline. The project will be Studio Gang’s first project in L.A. and represents the changing tenor of development in the city’s urban core, which is becoming more star-studded and international in nature than has prefiously been the case. Nearby, Johnson Fain and SWA Group are working on the 355-unit La Plaza de Cultura development, while efforts are made to create a new master plan for the surrounding neighborhood and adjacent Civic Center areas. Studio Gang’s project will now head into the community review phase; a timeline for construction has not been announced.
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MILAN DESIGN WEEK

Spotlight on ten designs from Salone del Mobile 2018

From April 17 to 22, all eyes in the design world are on the spectacular exhibitions, installations, pop-ups, and launches by an impressive lineup of designers and brands at Milan Design Week. From the International Bathroom and EuroCucina exhibitions to the satellite shows, here is a sampling of the designs—bravissimi!

Talisman Sconce Apparatus

Articulated by a raised pattern, this jewel-like sconce was inspired by Persian motifs that appear in Achaemenid stone reliefs, metalworking, and sculpture. It is part of a series that was inspired by Creative Director Gabriel Hendifar’s Iranian family heirlooms.

Circe Lounge Chair Ini Archibong for Sé

Swiss designer Ini Archibong collaborated with the London-based furniture maker famous for its 20th century-inspired designs. The work is a nod to Art Moderne, featuring the curving geometric lines of the back and base of the chair, and the round, curvaceous form of the soft, pink cushion.

STRUCTURES Kinnasand

Berlin-based Studio Greiling morphed a series of ottomans, benches, and daybeds into a rug-seating hybrid, exploiting the very often unexplored space in between floor and furniture. By draping rugs on top of colorful metal tubing, the fabric transforms into seating.

DeKauri Bath Credenza Daniel Germani for Cosentino

Spanish surfaces purveyor Cosentino and Italian furniture maker Riva 1920 worked with architect Daniel Germani to create a freestanding bathroom vanity that conceals the sink, lighting, storage, and mirror. Doors crafted out of 50,000-year-old Kauri wood open to a white Dekton by Cosentino sink, a Fantini faucet, and vanity-like lighting by Juniper Design.

Series Y Gensler for Artemide

Gensler designed a Mondrian-inspired fixture that accommodates both soft and bright lighting via two different screen profiles. The branchlike composition allows for configuration of direct or indirect illumination—all from a single power source.

Ratio Dada

Belgian-born architect and designer Vincent Van Duysen took a mix of warm and cold materials—wooden panels juxtaposed with natural stone countertops—and rendered them in modular, metallic grids for this kitchen.

Hawa Beirut Richard Yasmine

This otherworldly furniture collection is a nostalgic reflection of architecture in the designer’s hometown of Beirut, including arch-shaped references to Lebanese architectural elements, window-like glass inserts, slabs of marble, and handmade tassels. Swathed in pastel hues, the series comprises a set of chairs, a hybrid table/decorative screen, and a folding screen.

Drop Lindsey Adelman

With its metal, tubular structural system adorned with poetically placed globes, Drop recalls visual tropes associated with the 20th-century machine age. Administering a hand-applied mixture of salt and ammonia to the surface created the algae-like patina.

Kartell by Laufen Laufen Laufen, the Swiss bathroom outfitter, collaborated with Italian furniture purveyor Kartell on a conceptual collection of colorful washbasins, taps and fittings, storage units, shower bases, bathtubs, lights, and accessories. The result is a study of form and silhouette with brightly saturated accents of translucent acrylic, a material for which Kartell is famous.

Disco Gufram

Recalling the surreal disco balls by Dutch art studio Rotganzen, Gufram’s Charley Vezza envisioned three cabinets and two coffee tables as pedestals for melting mirrored disco balls for the Disco collection. Other items aim to preserve the brand’s iconic history of designing Italian dance clubs. Can you dig it?

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Marked Up

Old Chicago Main Post Office receives landmark designation
The Chicago City Council recently approved the landmark designation for the Old Chicago Main Post Office. Built in phases from 1921 to 1932, the 2.3-million-square-foot structure is located on the western bank of the south branch of the Chicago River in Chicago’s Near West Side. The building’s brawny nine-and twelve-story art deco design is the work of Chicago architectural firm Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, a successor to D.H. Burnham and Company. The Old Chicago Main Post Office was constructed with a 40-foot-wide rectangular hole running through the center of the building, intended to accommodate a provision of the 1909 Plan of Chicago for a Congress Street extension from the South Loop to Chicago’s West Side. While various plans were floated for the extension in the 1930s, the space wouldn’t come into full use until 1955, when the Congress (now Eisenhower) Expressway was completed, connecting the Loop to the western suburbs. The building’s main lobby sports lavish details like white marble and gold glass mosaics, but its original function was utilitarian in nature, with the majority of the spaces dedicated to feed conveyors, hoppers, mechanical tables, and chutes that supported a variety of mail sorting operations. The Old Chicago Main Post Office remained in operation until a modernized facility was completed in 1996, leaving the building vacant. While the Old Chicago Main Post Office was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001, providing it with the opportunity to capitalize on Federal Historic Tax Credits, it is the local designation that provides a measure of protection from demolition and insensitive alteration, as a National Register listing is primarily used for planning purposes and is honorary. Local designation of commercial, industrial, and income-producing non-for-profit buildings also provides building owners with the opportunity to capitalize on Chicago’s Class L Property Tax Incentive, which reduces property levels for a 12-year period provided that half of the value of the landmark building is invested in an approved rehabilitation project. According to the City of Chicago, the property’s owner, 601W Companies, is implementing a $292 million rehabilitation of the building as retail spaces and offices led by Gensler. The interior and exterior spaces will be comprehensively updated. The work will also repair existing rights-of-way for the Eisenhower Expressway as well as the Amtrak railroad facility located underneath the building.
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Driving While Robot

What role do architects have in a driverless future?
The rise of autonomous vehicles (AVs) is inevitable and—depending on who you ask—they’ll either eliminate car crashes and save the environment, or muscle out pedestrians from the street, steal our personal data, and create biblical levels of gridlock in our cities. But despite the divide over how the technology should be implemented, the common thread that runs between apostles and bashers alike is the belief that cities, planners, and architects are woefully unprepared for the changes self-driving cars will bring. In November 2017, the AIA held an event centered on the topic, "Anticipating the Driverless City,” and the furor seems justified following the death of a pedestrian at the grille of an autonomous Uber car. “Planners think in 30-year increments, and autonomous vehicles are already hitting the streets today,” Nico Larco, co-director of the Sustainable Cities Initiative at the University of Oregon, said. “Urban planners should be terrified.” Larco’s not wrong. Only a few states even have regulations for driverless cars, let alone ideas for designing a future without parking. With Ford launching self-delivering pizzas in Miami, Google’s Waymo rolling out an autonomous ridesharing service in Arizona, and driverless taxis making inroads in cities all over the world, architects and planners will either need to look ahead or be stuck in triage mode. Sam Schwartz, former New York City Traffic Commissioner from 1982 to 1986 and founder of his eponymous traffic and transportation planning and engineering firm, has categorized the potential futures as “the good, the bad, and the ugly.” The “good” A utopic self-driving car scenario would have driverless cars constantly circulating and on the prowl for riders, while providing “first mile, last mile” access to and from souped-up mass-transit corridors. If AVs truly take off and replace a sizable portion of manned cars on the street, then parking lots, garages, and driveways—not to mention thousands of square feet of on-street parking per block—would sit vacant. Walking, cycling, and autonomous (electric) buses would feature heavily in a multi-modal transit mix, and streets would narrow as bioswales and strips of public parks replaced parking spots. There has been movement on designing for that future; FXCollaborative, HOK, Arup, KPF, and other prominent firms have all put forward scalable designs for reclaiming the urban fabric. Speculation has already forced public officials in Pittsburgh to put together plans for integrating self-driving cars into the city’s fabric by 2030, and developers in New York are building flexible parking garages that can easily be converted for other uses. However, the key to actually enacting any of these schemes lies in large-scale government intervention. Without a concerted top-down reclamation and conversion of unused streets, AV-centric zoning policies, or renewed investment in mass-transportation options, cities will never be able to integrate AVs into their infrastructure. The largest hurdle to achieving the “good” future isn’t technological, it’s political; even self-driving evangelists have conceded that a laissez-faire approach might result in increased traffic on the road. The “bad” Uber, Lyft, Google, and a raft of competitors are already jostling to bring self-driving taxis to market so that these companies won’t have to pay human drivers. Under the guise of preventing traffic fatalities—there were nearly 40,000 lives lost in the U.S. alone in 2017—the big players are lobbying all levels of government to allow their AVs on the street. If vehicle miles traveled per person in AVs were allowed to increase without intervention, society could slide into an ugly scenario. This dystopic outcome would see mass transit hollowed out by a lack of funding and pedestrians shunted out of the streets in the name of safety. Studies have already shown that existing ridesharing services increase congestion and cause bus services to deteriorate, and if commuters get fed up with slow commutes and turn to ridesharing services, mass transit options could be sent into death spirals due to decreased revenue. Driverless cars are often touted as being spatially efficient, especially as they can join each other to form road trains—tightly packed groups of vehicles moving along optimized routes. But considering how much space on the road 40 bicycles or 40 commuters in a bus would take up, the flaw in that thinking becomes self-evident. Even if artificial intelligence can route traffic more effectively than a human, putting more cars on the road offsets the gains in speed by decreasing the amount of space available. Although computers might be great at coordinating with each other, the external human element will remain a wild card no matter what. Well-planned cities that prioritize walkability and ground-level experience would place pedestrians over passengers, but a worst-case scenario could see cyclists and walkers forced to wear locator beacons so that AVs could “see” them better, while hemmed in behind fencing. The “ugly” The worst driverless car scenarios take Le Corbusier’s famous claim that “the city built for speed is the city built for success” to heart. The high-speed arterial thoroughfares Corbusier envisioned in The Radiant City were realized in the destructive city planning policies of the 1950s and '60s, but municipalities have spent heavily to correct their mistakes 50 years later. Much in the same way that widening roads actually worsens traffic, if planners and architects ignore or give deference to driverless cars and continue to prioritize car culture in their decisions, congestion, gridlock, and withered public transit systems are sure to follow. The adoption of self-driving technology will likely birth new building typologies with unique needs, from centralized hubs where the cars park themselves to AV repair shops. As futurist Jeff Tumlin, principal and director of strategy at Nelson/Nygaard, points out, self-driving cars aren’t a new concept. Their lineage can be directly traced to ideas introduced by GE at the 1939 World’s Fair, but this is the first time that the technology has caught up with the vision. Planners and politicians have had 80 years to grapple with solutions; they can’t afford to take any longer.
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Lispenard Line

Introducing Herman Miller’s “street” sofa
Lispenard is Tribeca’s northernmost street, just parallel to and south of Canal Street a short block away. It’s only two blocks in length and the last one in Triburbia (or Tribeca, a neighborhood in transition on the lower west side of Manhattan) to be gentrified with fancy shops and expensive loft residences. It’s one of the few Manhattan streets that long-time cabbies have never heard of, but that is about to change. Not only is the street finally gentrifying, but it now has a line of beautiful furniture named after it. Herman Miller's Lispenard sofa line is designed by architect Neil Logan. The collection by Herman Miller is elegant and contemporary, befitting its Manhattan origins. Emphasizing balance and proportion, the stumpy round legs keep it real—offsetting the sleek, cushioned seating proportions—like the street: funky and a little grody. Looking back, I have lived on the street since the 1970s and have always appreciated the streets: narrow, dirty, and raffish. Images come to mind of the dilapidated marble and weathered brick buildings at Canal Street, so many that drew little attention from most at the time. What we now see as routine storefront and luxury residences, I lament as corroboration of the loss of the former Tribeca. Fortunately though, Miller’s Lispenard sofa line reads to me like a kind of tribute to that bygone era. Swathed in a rough-hewn upholstery, the collection comprises a club chair, three-seat sofa, sectional, and ottoman. I think it would look perfect in my polyurethaned oak floored loft, the place I have called home for nearly five decades. More so, I like to see the series not as an impediment to the character of the neighborhood, but actually as a part of the character of the neighborhood, only in a contemporary context.