Search results for "waterfront"

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IN PLAIN SIGHT

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners cloaks spy museum in pleated “veil”
The International Spy Museum opened its doors to the public on Sunday, May 12, for the first time since closing its original location last January. The new facility, a not-so-inconspicuous design by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP), is located at L’Enfant Plaza in Washington, D.C., between the National Mall and the Southwest Waterfront. As the country’s only freestanding museum “solely dedicated to the tradecraft, history and contemporary role of espionage,” and RSHP’s first cultural building in the United States, the project had few precedents to follow. Instead, the architects blended their usual display of sophisticated engineering with tongue-in-cheek references to espionage and intrigue. The majority of the program, including 35,000 square feet of exhibition space and a 150-seat theater, is concealed within the “black box,” a slightly sinister-looking building clad in corrugated metal. Suspended in front the box is the "veil," a 60-foot-tall, pleated glass curtain wall that encloses the lobby and public circulation. The black box cantilevers past this veil dramatically on one side, bringing to mind the trope of the spy peeking out from behind a newspaper to surveil the world around him. The fritted-glass-and-perforated-metal structure was designed to “hide in plain sight,” explained the architects. It reveals just enough of its internal activity to pique the public’s curiosity, enticing crowds from the Mall to come snooping. Their hope is that the museum will play a vital role in the revitalization of L’Enfant Plaza and, in turn, the surrounding waterfront. “It has been an absolute delight to have been involved in the design of the International Spy Museum,” said Senior Design Partner Ivan Harbour. “It is a building for the future that will bring its neighborhood to life; a celebration not only of the long-standing human activity that it showcases but also of the city around it. A landmark for 21st-century D.C.”
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Lakefront Landscape

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates reveals vision for new Buffalo waterfront park
Michael Van Valkenburgh (MVVA)’s vision for Buffalo’s expansive new waterfront park has finally been unveiled. Stretching 92 acres along the shore of Lake Erie, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park will be a verdant hub of cultural and recreational activity that connects downtown Buffalo to the city’s Lakeview neighborhood. Designed in collaboration with the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, the organization that donated $50 million towards the project, the park is a major beautification effort for the City of Buffalo. The foundation worked alongside MVVA, the city government, as well as the University at Buffalo Regional Institute over the last two years to engage different communities surrounding the existing 77-acre LaSalle Park—the landscape that the new project will overtake—to create a new and dynamic playspace for the lakeside city. MVVA’s initial aerial renderings reveal multiple shifts in the topography throughout the site, which, as it exists today, is fairly flat to accommodate straight views as well as room for sports. In a former interview, Van Valkenburgh told AN that this flatness would generally remain in the firm’s design proposal because “there’s a kind of wonderful, almost magical concept of playing at the edge of a lake,” he said. “At the same time, we’ll likely want to add some topography to the landscape to allow people to get to a higher level over the water to see Buffalo’s famous sunsets.” In keeping with the original functions of LaSalle Park, the upgraded landscape will include many baseball and soccer fields, as well as pools, playgrounds, and promenades with those uninhibited views of Lake Erie. Large-scale lawns, reminiscent of those found in Brooklyn Bridge Park, will also be integrated into the design so that families can picnic, play frisbee, or go sledding during Buffalo’s snowy winter. In addition, the design team has proposed what appears to be a peninsula built of terraced rocks where Buffalo residents can connect directly with the water—something the old park was lacking according to Van Valkenburgh. While this first set of visuals showcases the size and scope of the park project, it doesn’t yet include details on where or how these topographic changes will occur. However, a key component of the plan is that the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park will enhance the landscape directly surrounding the city’s historic pumping station (to the northwest of the park), as well as extend a branch of parkland across Interstate I-90, connecting into Lakeview. Van Valkenburgh said he plans to create some sort of noise buffer around the roadway to keep a peaceful tone within the landscape. Right now, a large-scale model of the landscape design is touring the city and locals can view the vision up close. On Thursday, it’s heading to the LaSalle Park Pool Building.
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Techtown USA

The origins and perils of development in the urban tech landscape

In most major cities of the world, an urban tech landscape has emerged. One day, we were working on our laptops at Starbucks, and the next, we were renting desks at WeWork. We embedded our small architectural and design firms in low-rent spaces in old factories and warehouses, and then we emerged as “TAMI” (technology, advertising, media, and information) tenants, heating up the commercial real estate market. Friends who could write computer code started businesses in their apartments before moving into tech incubators and accelerators, which then morphed into a “startup ecosystem.” Though a competitive city in the 1990s might only have had one cutely named cluster of startups—New York’s Silicon Alley, San Francisco’s Media Gulch—by the 2010s, many cities were building “innovation districts.” How did this happen? And what does it mean for these cities’ futures?

The simplest explanation is that cities are catching up to the digital economy. If computers and the web are one of the primary means of production for the 21st century, all cities need the infrastructure—broadband, connectivity, flexible office space—to support them. Companies that control the means of production also need raw material—the data that newly “smart” cities can provide—to develop concepts, test prototypes, and market their wares. Local governments and business leaders have always reshaped cities around the businesses that profit from new technology; In the 19th century, they built railroad stations, dug subway tunnels, and laid sewage pipes; in the 20th century, they wired for electricity and erected office towers. Maybe we should ask why it has taken cities so long to rebuild for digital technology.

Inertia is one answer, and money is another. Entrenched elites don’t readily change course, especially if a new economy would challenge their influence on local politics and labor markets. Think about the long dominance of the auto industry in Detroit and the financial industry in New York, both late converts to digital technologies like self-driving cars and electronic banking, respectively.

Another reason for cities’ slow awakening to the tech economy is the post–World War II prominence of suburban office parks and research centers, part of the mass suburbanization of American society. On the East Coast, tech talent began to migrate from cities in the early 1940s, when Bell Labs, the 20th-century engineering powerhouse, moved from Lower Manhattan to a large tract of land in suburban New Jersey. A few years later, on the West Coast, Stanford University and the technology company Varian Associates spearheaded the construction of an electronics research park on a university-owned site of orange groves that later became known as Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley got the lion’s share of postwar federal government grants and contracts from the military for microwave electronics innovation, missile research, and satellite communications. Venture capital (VC) soon followed. Although VC firms began in New York and Boston, by the 1960s and ’70s they were setting up shop in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Valley’s hegemony was solidified in the 1980s by the rise of the personal computer industry and the VCs who got rich by investing in it. The suburban tech landscape so artfully represented in popular mythology by Silicon Valley’s DIY garages and in physical reality by its expansive corporate campuses was both pragmatically persuasive and culturally pervasive. Its success rested on a triple helix of government, business, and university partnerships, defining an era from Fairchild, Intel, and Hewlett-Packard (the first wave of major digital technology companies) to Apple, Google, and Facebook.

In contrast to the suburban postwar growth of Silicon Valley, the urban tech landscape was propelled by the rise of software in the early 2000s and gained ground after the economic crisis of 2008. Software was easier and cheaper to develop than computers and silicon chips—it wasn’t tied to equipment or talent in big research universities. It was made for consumers. Most important, with the development of the iPhone and the subsequent explosion of social media platforms after 2007, software increasingly took the form of apps for mobile devices. This meant that software startups could be scaled, a crucial point for venture capital. For cities, however, the critical point was that anyone, anywhere, could be both an innovator and an entrepreneur.

The 2008 economic crisis plunged cities into a cascade of problems. Subprime mortgages cratered, leaving severely leveraged households and financial institutions adrift. Banks failed if they didn’t get United States government lifelines. Financial jobs at all levels disappeared; local tax revenues plummeted. While mayors understood that they had to end their dependence on the financial sector—a realization most keenly felt in New York—they also faced long-term shrinkage in manufacturing sectors and office vacancies.

London had already tried to counter deindustrialization with the Docklands solution: Waterfront land was redeveloped for new media and finance, and unused piers and warehouses were converted for cultural activities. In Spain, this strategy was taken further in the 1990s by the construction of the Guggenheim Bilbao museum and the clearing of old industrial plants from that city’s waterfront. By the early 2000s, Barcelona’s city government was building both a new cultural district and an “innovation district” for digital media, efforts that bore a striking resemblance to the 1990s market-led development of the new media district in Manhattan’s Silicon Alley and the growth of tech and creative offices in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood.

Until the economic crisis hit, both spontaneous and planned types of urban redevelopment were connected to the popular “creative city” model promoted by Charles Landry in London and Richard Florida in Pittsburgh (later, Toronto). In 2009, however, economic development officials wanted a model that could create more jobs. They seized on the trope of “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” that had been circulating around business schools since the 1980s, channeling the spirit of the economic historian Joseph Schumpeter and popularized in a best-selling book by that title by the management guru Peter Drucker. Adopted by researchers at the Brookings Institution, urban innovation districts would use public-private partnerships to create strategic concentrations of workspaces for digital industries. It seemed like a brilliant masterstroke to simultaneously address three crucial issues that kept mayors awake at night: investments, jobs, and unused, low-value buildings, and land.

In the absence of federal government funding, real estate developers would have to be creative. They built new projects with money from the city and state governments, the federal EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program for foreign investors, and urban impact funding that flowed through investment banks like Goldman Sachs. Federal tax credits for renovating historic buildings and investing in high-poverty areas were important.

Though all major cities moved toward an “innovation economy” after 2009, New York’s 180-degree turn from finance to tech was the most dramatic. The bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2000 and 2001, followed by the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center and an economic recession, initially kept the city from endorsing the uncertainty of tech again. Michael Bloomberg, mayor from 2001 to 2013, was a billionaire whose personal fortune and namesake company came from a fusion of finance and tech, most notably the Bloomberg terminal, a specially configured computer that brings real-time data to stock brokers’ and analysts’ desks. Yet, as late as 2007, Mayor Bloomberg, joined by New York’s senior senator Chuck Schumer, promoted New York as the self-styled financial capital of the world, a city that would surely triumph over its only serious rival, London. The 2008 financial crisis crumpled this narrative and turned the Bloomberg administration toward tech.

By 2009, the city’s business elites believed that New York’s salvation depended on producing more software engineers. This consensus motivated the mayor and his economic development officials to build big, organizing a global competition for a university that could create a dynamic, postgraduate engineering campus in New York. Cornell Tech emerged as the winner, a partnership between Cornell University and the Israel Institute of Technology. Between 2014 and 2017, the new school recruited high-profile professors with experience in government research programs, university classrooms, and corporate labs. They created a slew of partnerships with the city’s major tech companies, and the resulting corporate-academic campus made Roosevelt Island New York’s only greenfield innovation district. Not coincidentally, the founding dean was elected to Amazon’s board of directors in 2016.

The Bloomberg administration also partnered with the city’s public and private universities, mainly the aggressively expanding New York University (NYU), to open incubators and accelerators for tech startups. After NYU merged with Polytechnic University, a historic engineering school in downtown Brooklyn, the Bloomberg administration made sure the new engineering school could lease the vacant former headquarters of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority nearby, where NYU’s gut renovation created a giant tech center.

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn waterfront was booming. The Brooklyn Navy Yard added advanced manufacturing tenants and art studios to its traditional mix of woodworking and metalworking shops, food processors, and suppliers of electronics parts, construction material, and office equipment, and began to both retrofit old machine shops for “green” manufacturing and build new office space. While tech and creative offices were running out of space in DUMBO, the heads of the downtown Brooklyn and DUMBO business improvement districts came up with the idea of marketing the whole area, with the Navy Yard, as “the Brooklyn Tech Triangle.” With rezoning, media buzz, and a strategic design plan, what began as a ploy to fill vacant downtown office buildings moved toward reality. 

Established tech companies from Silicon Valley and elsewhere also inserted themselves into the urban landscape. Google opened a New York office for marketing and advertising in 2003 but expanded its engineering staff a few years later, buying first one, then two big buildings in Chelsea: an old Nabisco bakery and the massive former headquarters of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Facebook took AOL’s old offices in Greenwich Village. On the next block, IBM Watson occupied a new office building designed by Fumihiko Maki.

Jared Kushner’s brother, the tech investor Jonathan Kushner, joined two other developers to buy the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ former headquarters and printing plant on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The developers converted the buildings into tech and creative offices and called the little district Dumbo Heights. By 2015, the growth of both venture capital investments and startups made New York the second-largest “startup ecosystem” in the world after Silicon Valley. Within the next three years, WeWork (now the We Company) surpassed Chase Bank branches as Manhattan’s largest commercial tenant.

All this development was both crystallized and crucified by Amazon’s decision to open half of a “second” North American headquarters (HQ2) in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, New York, in 2018. Amazon organized a competition similar to the Bloomberg contest that resulted in Cornell Tech, but in this case, the contest was a bidding war between 238 cities that offered tax credits, help with land assemblage, and zoning dispensations in return for 50,000 tech jobs that the company promised to create. But in announcing its selection, Amazon divided the new headquarters in two, supposedly placing half the jobs in New York and the other half in Crystal City, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. Many New Yorkers erupted in protest rather than celebration.

The amount of tax credits offered to the very highly valued tech titan, almost $3 billion in total, appeared to rob the city of funding for its drastic needs: fixing the antiquated subway system, repairing the aging public housing stock, and building affordable housing. The decision-making process, tightly controlled by Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, enraged New York City Council members, none of whom had been given a role in either negotiating or modifying the deal. The deal itself was closely supervised by New York State’s Economic Development Corporation behind closed doors, without any provision for public input or approval.

Housing prices in Long Island City rose as soon as the deal was announced. A city economic development representative admitted that perhaps half of the jobs at HQ2 would not be high-paying tech jobs, but in human resources and support services. In a final, painful blow, Amazon promised to create only 30 jobs for nearly 7,000 residents of Queensbridge Houses, the nearby public housing project that is the largest in the nation.

Amazon representatives fanned their opponents’ fury at public hearings held by the New York City Council. They said the company would not remain neutral if employees wanted to unionize, and they refused to offer to renegotiate any part of the deal. Opponents also protested the company’s other business practices, especially the sale of facial recognition technology to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). Yet surveys showed that most registered New York City voters supported the Amazon deal, with an even higher percentage of supporters among Blacks and Latinos. Reflecting the prospect of job opportunities, construction workers championed the deal while retail workers opposed it. The governor and mayor defended the subsidies as an investment in jobs. Not coincidentally, Amazon planned to rent one million square feet of vacant space in One Court Square, the former Citigroup Building in Long Island City, before building a new campus on the waterfront that would be connected by ferry to Cornell Tech.

After two months of relentless, vocal criticism, in a mounting wave of national resentment against Big Tech, Amazon withdrew from the deal. Elected officials blamed each other, as well as a misinformed, misguided public for losing the economic development opportunity of a lifetime.

Yet it wasn’t clear that landing a tech titan like Amazon would spread benefits broadly in New York City. A big tech company could suck talent and capital from the local ecosystem, deny homegrown startups room to expand, and employ only a small number of “natives.”

From San Francisco to Seattle to New York, complaints about tech companies’ effect on cities center on privatization and gentrification. In San Francisco, private buses ferry highly paid Google workers from their homes in the city to the company’s headquarters in Silicon Valley, green space and cafes in the Mid-Market neighborhood proliferate to serve Twitter employees and other members of the technorati, low-income Latinos from the Mission district are displaced by astronomical rents—all of these factors stir resentment about Big Tech taking over. In Seattle, Amazon’s pressure on the city council to rescind a tax on big businesses to help pay for homeless shelters also aroused critics’ ire. Until recently, moreover, tech titans have been unwilling to support affordable housing in the very markets their high incomes roil: East Palo Alto and Menlo Park in California, and Redmond, Washington.

It remains to be seen whether urban innovation districts will all be viable, and whether they will spread wealth or instead create highly localized, unsustainable bubbles. Venture capital is already concentrated in a small number of cities and in a very few ZIP codes within these cities. According to the MIT economist David Autor, although the best “work of the future” is expanding, it is concentrated in only a few superstar cities and only represents 5 percent of all U.S. jobs.

Yet urban tech landscapes emerge from a powerful triple helix reminiscent of Silicon Valley. Elected officials promise jobs, venture capitalists and big companies make investments, and real estate developers get paid. Though these landscapes glitter brightly compared to the dead spaces they replace, they don’t offer broad participation in planning change or the equitable sharing of rewards.

Sharon Zukin is a Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York, Brooklyn College, and is author of the forthcoming book The Innovation Complex: Cities, Tech, and the New Economy.

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East River Presence

Brooklyn waterfront office building features brick and glass curtain facades
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The Brooklyn waterfront is no stranger to development. Over the past two decades, swaths of post-industrial Williamsburg filled with warehouses and factories have been cleared in favor of glass-and-steel residential properties. One building, 25 Kent, an under-construction half-million-square-foot office tower designed by Hollwich Kushner as Design Architect and Gensler as Design Development Architect bucks the area's cliches with its bifurcated facades of brick, glass, and blackened steel. On a lot that measures 400 feet by 200 feet, the full-block project presents a formidable mass in comparison to its low-rise recent neighbors. Reaching eight stories, with floor to ceiling heights of 15 feet, the office tower is largely split between two staggered rectangular volumes linked by a hovering glass prism. Combining these three materials is not inherently novel, but the mix presented challenges in meeting increasingly stringent sustainability and LEED goals. "In lieu of brick returns, an aluminum perimeter trim was used in tandem with thermally broken window to achieve the best performance in a practical and cost-effective manner," said Yalin Uluaydin, senior associate at Eckersley O'Callaghan, the project's facade consultant. "Similar issues were addressed at the interface of the east and west facing aluminum curtain wall and underslung curtain wall. Mainly we had to address the offset mullions and how the curtain wall end panels are set in a brick opening on three sides."
  • Facade Manufacturer Summit Brick Pure+FreeForm Guardian Schüco
  • Architects Gensler Hollwich Kushner
  • Facade Installer CMI 
  • Facade Consultants Eckersley O'Callaghan
  • Location Brooklyn, New York
  • Date of Completion 2019
  • System Glass curtainwall with punched masonry
  • Products 25 Kent Blend Brick SCHUCO AWS 75. SI+ Guardian SN 70/41 Brooklyn Steel
The structure's facades are understated, rising with little in the way of outward ornament. The east and west elevations are clad in glass curtain wall modules tied to the structural slab edges with steel anchors. For the side-street elevations, the design team nods to the surrounding historic warehouses with multi-tone brick surfaces. Successive floors, which protrude and recess like an overturned-ziggurat, are clad in a custom blend of bricks patterned in a stretcher-bond format. Punched mullion-free window openings, measuring eight feet by ten feet, are rhythmically placed across these elevations to further daylighting while mirroring the stylistic qualities of adjacent structures. The windows, inset from the brick drape, are lined with custom 'blackened steel' finished aluminum. On the North and South streets, the retail storefront entrances are framed with printed 'blackened steel' aluminum portals, in a custom finish developed by Pure+FreeForm  The portal details were brushed with silver pearl and treated with a patinated gloss matte layer, providing subtle iridescent qualities. Proximity to the waterfront, although an amenity, also presented a structural challenge for the design team. "The foundation design is a continuous mat slab with thickened portions below the tower shear wall cores, and drilled tiedown anchors located outside the tower footprints to counteract hydrostatic uplift from groundwater," said Gensler Design Manager & Senior Associate Anne-Sophie Hall. "To accommodate the architectural intent of the vast column-free space in the central region of each floor plate, each of the six columns supporting the bridge slab has a 20-foot long rectangular drop panel to achieve the desired long span with a conventionally reinforced 12-inch slab, while eschewing post-tensioning or similar strategies which would have entailed additional costs or specialized subcontractors."
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Windsor Castles

Is Windsor, Florida, peak New Urbanism?
The drive out to the luxury community of Windsor, Florida, feels like passing through worlds. Asphalt unfurls relentlessly across the state’s swampy underbelly, past RV towns, cattle ranches, deactivated power plants, and unending rows of orange trees with workers harvesting fruit in the midday sun. Birds of prey circle down on blistered fields and the smell of wood smoke hangs in the humid air, even as Smokey the Bear insists, sign after sign, that fire levels are at a minimum. Luxury rodeos and casino joints start cropping just east of Osceola County, where I’m greeted by the spectacular sight of Yeehaw Junction—a chaotic trucker spot just off the Florida Turnpike that looks exactly like it sounds. 18-wheelers piled high with citrus barrels cross the intersection, horns blaring, loose oranges falling akimbo. As the miles keep coming, Florida continues to oscillate between unfathomable affluence and destitute poverty. On the bridge to Orchid Island, the McMansions emerge all at once. Orchid, the town next to Windsor, boasts the ninth highest income in America; it’s also the only town I’ve ever knowingly been to that is 100 percent white. All 450 of its residents must have been somewhere else that day (perhaps their real homes), because it seems completely empty. Finally, the serif script sign announcing Windsor Club appears and I veer left into a grove of oak trees. I learn later that oak is a favorite motif of Hilary Weston, one half of the couple behind Windsor. The Westons’ Canadian empire dates back to the late 19th century, beginning with a bread factory that ballooned into an international food processing and distribution conglomerate; the couple now has a combined net worth in the billions. Just like Windsor’s host state, the Westons’ companies cover the whole socio-economic spectrum, ranging from luxury department store Selfridges to Primark, the U.K. equivalent of Walmart. Founded in 1989, Windsor intends to “combine yesterday’s charm with modern comforts and the vision of tomorrow.” Having encountered the land in its elemental state—mangrove bushes straddling the ocean and dirt paths through overgrown forests—the Westons wanted to develop the future community of Windsor in a way that honored the intrinsic purity of the landscape. They called upon Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, co-founders of the New Urbanist movement, an urban planning ideology that stresses walkable, compact cities with a consistent architectural style. Later made (in)famous by the New Urbanist Floridian towns of Seaside and Celebration—the former starring in the The Truman Show (1999) and the latter, originally developed by Walt Disney in the 1990s, sustaining a series of grisly murders—New Urbanism developed a particular association in the Sunshine State with repressed resort towns where the darker truths of American culture fester underneath a cheery veneer. For all of Duany’s and Plater-Zyberk’s efforts at Windsor, the result is much the same. A meticulously maintained community that offers endless amenities to its guests—a shooting range, art gallery, tennis courts, equestrian trails, croquet, and beach club among them—it appears largely empty during my visit. As a result, Windsor seems to remain suspended somewhere between a false utopia and a luxury ghost town. A large white picket fence by British artist Michael Craig-Martin stands proud in the lawn between the oaks and the reception, seemingly winking to its context. Candy-colored umbrellas, stilettos, a shovel, and a wheelbarrow make their appearances around the club’s 500-acre expanse as part of Craig-Martin’s solo exhibition at The Gallery, Windsor’s in-house art space. The second installment of a three-year, three-show collaboration with the Royal Academy, it seems the initiative may have helped pique interest in Windsor—membership numbers are reaching an all-time high. Admission to the Cult of Windsor doesn’t come cheap: golf equity memberships are a cool $200,000, while social membership dues rack up at $14,858 annually—all of which is practically pocket change if you can afford the costs of building your own mansion. Homesites begin at $625,000 and go up to $4,200,000 for waterfront lots. Although residents are free to choose their own architects they must use Windsor’s builders to ensure total compliance with the Windsor Code: a strict handbook conceived by Duany and Plater-Zyberk that delineates the permitted architectural styles, from building thickness and height to approved pastels and the types of perennials you’re allowed to plant. New Urbanism spits venom at cars, which its acolytes blame for almost single-handedly ruining cities; Windsor follows suit with modified regulations, permitting the gratuitous use of golf carts (though during my visit, I see more range rovers than residents). First up on our golf cart tour is the Town Hall. Built in 1999 and designed by the Luxembourgish architect, New Urbanist convert, and devout defender of Nazi architecture, Léon Krier, it’s easily the wackiest building here. A classic PoMo case of proportion mash-up, its large triangular pediment embellished with small geometric cutouts. They run down its long side, where chunky columns are intermixed with fortress-like doors painted eggshell blue. With a dramatic pitched roof that soars high above its vanilla surrounds, the building exudes a mystical aura only brought back to its context by the Mercedes-Benz parked outside. The doors of the hall are flung open to reveal rows of empty seats; a row of more homely fold-out wooden chairs flanks the entrance, while a giant glitzy obelisk stands proudly at the altar. It’s unclear whether there will be any takers for today’s sermon. Next up is the Equestrian Centre, where I’m greeted by the forlorn faces of a dozen horses in Windsor’s 26-stable barn. In addition to storage and care for the horses while their seasonal owners are elsewhere, the Centre also offers a 170-yard-long multi-purpose stick and ball field and full-sized polo field for exhibition matches. Carrying on to the clubhouse, the scent of jasmine wafts up from the eight Stan Smith–designed Har-Tru™ tennis courts. I arrive to see two seniors shake hands at the net and migrate to the patio, Diet Cokes in hand; it’s startling to see real humans actually use the facilities at Windsor, and for a moment this scene breaks the overwhelming impression that Windsor is little more than an elaborate stage set, a pretty piggy bank in which international business moguls can store their cash. At the Clubhouse’s bar, a bowl of mixed nuts remains out for the ghost nibbler, while the TV blares for no one in particular. The Gallery is upstairs, where Michael Craig-Martin’s graphic 2D works hold their own in a relatively unremarkable space that feels shockingly squished, given the amount of real estate on offer. I head out to the second-floor balcony overlooking the 18-hole golf course—a sumptuous landscape known rather incredibly to members as “Windsor’s Serengeti.” I turn back to face the tinted glass doors of the gallery—Craig-Martin’s sunglass paintings coolly deflecting their context, but still sitting complicit in this parallel universe—and the true insanity of this place comes full circle. Our final stop is the Beach Club—another Anglo-Caribbean style structure built in 1994, it’s recently undergone a vibrant facelift courtesy of the local designer Rod Mickley. In the new Lodge, a dozen handymen are busy setting up for the night’s fundraising gala. Returning to the newly remodeled reception, it’s intensely-perfumed interiors prove overwhelming. Stumbling out into the Village Centre designed by Scott Merrill, I fall into its proverbial small town embrace: a Village Store, a real estate office, concierge, post office, gym, and a cafe where residents can catch up over a coffee or pick up fresh produce. Even though it’s totally deserted during my visit (save for one member on a treadmill), this is the closest Windsor gets to feeling like a community. Outside, the synthetic lawn, shell-infused concrete, and the Exedra—a semicircular amphitheater used for concerts that bears traces of Arcosanti’s bell workshop—bear traces of Windsor’s aspirational New Urbanist roots. Surrounded by a semicircle of spindly palms that rival L.A., it’s here I realize once and for all the movement is best relinquished to this elitist country club. “New Urbanism has not evolved so much since Windsor, but it has evolved towards Windsor,” Duany has since reflected on the project, as if confirming that the teachings of the movement are more aptly suited for a luxury resort rather than any real city. Crossing its virtually uninhabited expanse, one gets the sense Windsor’s days are numbered, threatened more by rising sea levels than credit defaults. Until then, it remains a peculiar relic of aspirational urban planning, bloated and malformed into a gross excess by all the investment capital stowed away in Florida—because where else would take it?
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Green Screen

SHoP’s Pier 35 folds industrial materials into an East River habitat
Pier 35, the latest addition to Manhattan’s waterfront and yet another nod to the industrial heritage of the city’s waterways, is now open to the public just in time for spring. SHoP Architects, together with landscape architecture studio Ken Smith Workshop, have dropped a folded, zigzagging landscape intervention on the eastern edge of Lower Manhattan, in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge. The pier-park’s most striking feature is the 35-foot-tall, 300-foot-long metal screen that both backdrops the park’s landscape as well as hides the Sanitation Department shed at the adjacent Pier 36. As the screen moves eastward and approaches the water’s edge, it rises on weathered Cor-ten steel panels, ultimately bending to create a raised and covered “porch,” complete with swings. A wavey esplanade runs alongside the landscaped lawns and a series of artificial dunes up to the porch, mirroring the sinuous curves of the screen. The underpass of FDR Drive connects with the pier at “Mussel Beach,” a micro-habitat that SHoP and Ken Smith designed in collaboration with ecologist Ron Alaveras. The urban “beach” seeks to recreate the historic conditions of the East River and foster mussel growth, similar to the work being done by the Billion Oyster Project. The 65-foot-long beach’s precast slopes and outcroppings are exposed and submerged as the East River rises and falls, mirroring the tidal conditions that mussels require “in the wild.” Mussel Beach was made possible through a grant from the New York Department of State’s Division of Coastal Resources, as it’s a prototypical environment that, if successful, could be replicated elsewhere. Although Pier 35 was launched with a soft opening in mid-December, the canopy and plants have sprung up just in time for Earth Day 2019.
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Go Fund Yourself

San Francisco homeless shelter inspires online fundraising battles
A homeless shelter proposed for San Francisco’s Embarcadero has resulted in dueling GoFundMe campaigns; one from residents who want to keep the Navigation Center out, and one to support the shelter. On March 4, San Francisco mayor London Breed allowed a plan to move forward that would transform a 2.3-acre parking lot in the eastern waterfront neighborhood into the city’s largest Navigation Center. Centers allow residents to stay 24 hours, provide health and wellness services, and allow pets—they’re also designed to be temporary. It’s expected that the center at Seawall Lot 330, if allowed to open by the end of this summer as anticipated, would only operate for four years while the city wrangles with its homelessness crisis. Some Embarcadero residents aren’t happy. On March 20, a group calling themselves Safe Embarcadero for All launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $100,000 for a legal defense fund to help them oppose the shelter. Complete with its own website, Twitter feed, and well-heeled backers, Safe Embarcadero successfully hit its goal in 25 days. The group cited the large number of families and tourists the neighborhood draws, and the site’s potential proximity to landmarks such as Oracle Park as reasons for trying to push the shelter elsewhere. “The rushed process the Mayor is following to build the homeless shelter by the end of the summer is concerning to the community,” reads the Safe Embarcadero for All GoFundMe page. “We are worried that the rushed process puts the political goal of building a large Navigation Center ahead of legitimate concerns about public safety, drug use, and other problems that a large shelter may bring to the community. According to the city’s own data, a third of the homeless are drug users and some are sex offenders. “The Navigation Center will not allow drug use inside, meaning that about 75 drug users will be forced into the surrounding family neighborhood to use drugs. The community is also concerned about the environmental effects of building on a site that is known to have toxic materials beneath.” Perhaps recognizing that concerted opposition by “not in my backyard” organizers has killed or segregated low income and homeless housing elsewhere, a counter fundraiser was created in support of the Navigation Center. SAFER Embarcadero for ALL, citing the potential legal costs and community challenges that the shelter is facing, sought to raise $175,000 in support of the Coalition on Homelessness. With 1,900 donations, in comparison to the original group’s 360, that goal was reached in 17 days. The GoFundMe in support of the Navigation Center also drew big donations from Salesforce, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, and GoFundMe itself, which contributed $5,000. The fight over the Embarcadero center is playing out in real-world meetings and protests that are just as charged as their online counterparts. On April 3, Mayor Breed was shouted down at a town hall meeting as she tried to stump for the scheme. While the mayor has proposed opening another 1,000 beds worth of shelters by 2020, so far only 212 have actually come online. The final battle over Seawall Lot 330 will culminate in a vote by the Port Commission on April 23, as the body (whose five members were selected by the mayor) votes on whether it will lease the site to the city.
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Gulf State of Mind

Review: Jean Nouvel gives Qatar a museum that matches its context perfectly
The opening of the Jean Nouvel–designed National Museum of Qatar, in Doha, Qatar, marks another step in the country’s mission to set itself apart from its neighbors and solidify its cultural position in the world. For one to understand the motivations behind the design and construction of the newly opened National Museum, one must first understand a bit about the geopolitical context that it has been built in. Like many of its neighbors in the Persian Gulf region, Qatar has been building at a pace and level of quality that is nearly unmatched in the world. Yet, unlike the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar is not building to attract tourists or even business interests. Since 1971, when Qatar gained its full independence from the British, it has worked to distinguish itself as a fully autonomous nation. The intensity of this drive has been amplified in the past few years by a series of events and political upheavals that have isolated the small country. In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt imposed economic and political embargoes on Qatar after years of growing tension over international trade and other international relations. In an act of defiance, Qatar countered by leaving the Gulf Region’s oil cartel, OPEC. These events have led to stronger internal support for Qatar’s ruling emir, who has taken a hard line with the blockading neighbors, and solidified the country’s resolve to stand culturally and economically independent from the region. The National Museum is designed and programmed specifically to display the country’s unique culture and history to international visitors and, perhaps more importantly, to Qataris. Broadly covering the nation’s natural and political history, exhibitions reach back tens of thousands of years through the discovery of oil and natural gas off the coast in the mid-20th century to explore what it means to be Qatari. Perhaps ironically though, Qataris only make up around 12 percent of Qatar’s of 2.7 million residents. The rest are foreigners, most of which are migrant service and construction workers. It remains to be seen whether a forthcoming planned gallery covering the country’s current events will highlight the immense contribution of migrants to the past decade of development. Notably, Qatar has been criticized for the use of underpaid labor and unsafe construction practices, particularly pertaining to the many 2022 World Cup stadiums currently under construction. Recent years have seen laws passed down directly from the emir to protect workers’ rights, and while progress has been made, some human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, say there are still issues to be addressed. Whether one argues the museum’s contents show a complete image of the nation or not, the building itself has a lot to say. Like many “signature” architecture projects, it may be the architecture of museum that will be most memorable for those who visit. A bombastic tour-de-force of engineering and construction, there is little argument about the visual impact of the project as a whole. Unapologetically designed to look like the crystalized mineral formation known as a desert rose, the museum is composed of dozens of large discs. Intersecting at various angles, the discs produce the facade, roof, walls, ceilings, apertures, and structure. Enable by engineering help from Gehry Technologies and ARUP, the geometric theme and is relentlessly executed. One is hard pressed to find any public facing spaces that are not completely shaped by the seemingly random arrangement of discs. There are no columns, no rectilinear apertures, no perpendicular intersections, and no flat ceilings. In many spaces even the floor ramps and bends in a choreographed play with the walls and ceiling. All artifacts and exhibition pieces are shown in the round, while the tilting walls are filled with carefully mapped projections of artist-made films. The effect is quite successful and makes for a strong retort to those who argue that museum walls should always be flat. The museum’s galleries are organized into an irregular crescent, which produces a large Baraha (courtyard) with the help of the 20th-century royal palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani, a cultural landmark in its own right. This outdoor room provides a new civic space able to accommodate thousands. This is an important aspect of the project, considering Doha lacks similar spaces, besides the main Souq, over a mile away. The museum’s position near the waterfront is also significant. While still separated by the city’s major traffic artery and a thin waterfront parkway, many of its neighbors are government or administrative buildings, which are cut off from the city by high security fences. In stark contrast to the oft-foreboding nature of the area, the museum’s grounds include large gardens designed by French landscape architect Michel Desvigne, and includes multiple children’s play areas, large desert plantings, and a lagoon complete with a monumental fountain sculpture by French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel. Despite the formal exuberance, many of the spaces have a similar feel, in part to the limited material, color, and building palette. This is to say, once you have seen part of the project, there are few surprises. The formal complexity does not translate into complexity in plan. For the most part the entire building is one path, even if that path is varied in width and direction. Each gallery intersects with the next with no hard thresholds or transitions. Occasionally, a change in ceiling height or a slant in the floor differentiate one gallery from the next, but overall the experience is generally consistent throughout the project. This is a bit disappointing considering the innumerable possibilities the project’s formal language implies. On the other hand, this may be excusable as the expressed goal of the museum is to present a clear vision of Qatar’s past and present. Though a few more moments of unexpected shortcuts, detours, or unique spaces could have been a pleasant release from the project’s surprisingly simple plan. The few places where relief can be found from the disc organization are in the gift shops, designed by Sydney-based Koichi Takada Architects. Riffing on the theme of desert rock formations, the shops take the shape of the Dahl Al Misfir (Cave of Light), a dramatic cave system in central Qatar. Undulating contoured wood walls push and pull, providing space for lighting and shelving, while the tall spaces reach up to irregularly shaped windows and skylights, mimicking the cave’s dramatic illumination. Takada is also responsible for two cafes and a restaurant in the project that all stick closer to the Nouvel design, while still departing from the strict aesthetics of the galleries. If the intent of the National Museum is to educate the Nation of Qatar and celebrate the work of the Qatari people, the message it sends is one of a proud young nation that is finding its place on the world stage while contending with less than friendly neighbors and has been shaped by a seemingly insatiable appetite for iconic buildings designed by A-list international architects. Along with the Arata Isozaki master-planned Education City, the OMA-designed National Library, and the I.M. Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art, this latest addition to this uncanny desert menagerie raises the bar for civic iconography with its structural and metaphorical gymnastics. For all these reasons the project seems to fit into its context perfectly, and in the same sense could be nowhere else.
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Make Way for Ducklings?

Slow streets proposed for New York’s Financial District
Now that the New York State government has decided that the busiest areas of Manhattan will have congestion pricing to discourage auto traffic (scheduled to take effect in 2021 for areas below 60th street), there are efforts to provide even more incentives to leave the island to bikers, mass transit, and pedestrians. One prominent example is a study commissioned by the Financial District Neighborhood Association (FDNA) titled “Make Way for Lower Manhattan.” This historic Dutch area of the city has long needed a sensible plan to control traffic on its narrow streets and lanes, but the city’s previous efforts (in 1966, 2010, and 2018) did not come to fruition. FDNA President Patrick Kennell hopes that this time things will be different. His study notes that the area has grown in population, owing mainly to the conversion of office towers to residential uses after 9/11. There are now 75,000 residents of the downtown area and over 300,000 daily office workers who regularly commute to and from the financial district. In addition, tourism has exploded, with more than 14 million visitors per year filling the small streets and waterfront. The new plan proposes a “Slow Street District” extending east-west from Broadway to Water Street and north-south from the Brooklyn Bridge to Battery Park. Using bridge-traffic diversion, wider sidewalks, lighting, and other measures successfully implemented in cities like Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Barcelona, the planners believe that vehicular traffic can be significantly reduced and pedestrian traffic increased. The plan’s before-and-after illustrations portray cobblestone streets full of tourists enjoying cafes and shops while people watching. Will such measures, along with less on-street parking and increased late night garbage collection, finally make lower Manhattan safe for pedestrians and the occasional feathered flock? Stone Street and Maiden Lane have seen many changes, and they can wait for a few more.
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Mirror, Mirror

A glowing crystal lands on the waterfront in Alexandria, Virginia
New York–based practice SOFTlab recently completed an interactive installation on the waterfront of Alexandria, Virginia. Titled Mirror, Mirror, the eight-foot-tall circular construction features a faceted surface made of acrylic lined with one-way mirror film. During the day, the acrylic is opaque, creating a crystalline mirrored exterior and a brightly-colored rainbow interior. At night, however, when LED lights behind the acrylic turn on, the construction becomes a lively lighthouse. Microphones pick up ambient noise and translate it into a flashing light show. When the area is quiet, the lights pulse with a wave-like flow. The work, not from the banks of the Potomac River, took inspiration from Alexandria's historic Jones Point Lighthouse, which used advanced lens technology in the 1800s to guide mariners to safety. Mirror, Mirror opened on March 30 and will be up through November, 2019. It is the first artwork in Site/See: New Views in Old Town, a program run by Alexandria’s Office of the Arts to bring attention to the city's historic core.
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Restoration Plaza

David Adjaye to help build strategic plan for Central Brooklyn community
David Adjaye is teaming up with the U.S.’s first community development corporation (CDC) to revitalize its home of 50 years. Restoration Plaza, headquarters of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation in Brooklyn, New York, will get a total revamp through a five-year strategic plan that will include input from local residents. Located on Fulton Street, the campus has long been a community anchor in Bedford-Stuyvesant, or Bed-Stuy, as the neighborhood is known. The complex currently houses office space, a restaurant, commercial tenants, the Brooklyn Business Center, and the recently-renovated, historic Billie Holiday Theatre. Adjaye Associates will work with Restoration and local residents to redefine the 300,000-square-foot commercial plaza and add 400,000 square feet of office space to the site. For the influential nonprofit, the massive undertaking will further its mission of disrupting and closing the racial wealth gap in Central Brooklyn—something that’s becoming an even bigger focal point as the area gentrifies and longtime residents feel the pressure of higher rents. Through the plan, Restoration will create new centers—one for personal financial health, one for community asset building, one for social entrepreneurship and enterprise, as well as new accommodations for its existing RestorationART program. These initiatives will help bridge existing inequities by providing locals the assistance they need to continue investing in Bed-Stuy’s future amidst its rapid growth. Since it was established in 1967, Restoration has played a key role in the neighborhood’s development. A predominantly low-income area, it served as a testing ground for the Special Impact Program, an amendment to the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 that was started by Senator Jacob K. Javits, Mayor John W. Lindsay, and Senator Robert F. Kennedy. The plan saw business leaders from around the country, including those from the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation and the Ford Foundation, invest in the build-out of what would become the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. The plaza, which envelops all of Restoration’s offices and the businesses its attracted over the years, was renovated in the early 2000s, and has been repeatedly updated since then. This new overhaul and expansion by Adjaye Associates will bring a modern feel to the site in hopes of boosting job growth across various industries in the area, including tech, fashion, and hospitality—sectors that are largely burgeoning along the Brooklyn waterfront. Though no specific details for the site’s renovation have been released yet, the nonprofit said it aims to build new spaces that better attract these innovative businesses. For Adjaye, he’s ready for the chance to physically build upon Restoration’s rich legacy and announce its influence through new architecture that the locals deserve. “Our team is embarking on a notable mission to re-imagine Restoration Plaza and showcase its impact on the Bed-Stuy community and the country,” said Adjaye in a statement. “As the nation’s first CDC, Restoration has a long history of setting a high standard for the advancement of African American and Caribbean residents who built Central Brooklyn and poured their soul into the community. It’s our honor to be a part of this powerful five-year plan to remake this iconic community epicenter and tackle the large challenge of sustained wealth through the closure of a heartbreaking wealth gap in this city.”    
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Taking the Title

Mjøstårnet by Voll Arkitekter is the now the world’s tallest timber tower
A Nordic structure has claimed the title of world’s tallest timber building. Mjøstårnet by Voll Arkitekter is a 280-foot-tall tower in Brumunddal, Norway, constructed entirely out of cross-laminated timber. It’s the third tallest building in the country and features 18 stories of office space, apartments, a hotel, a ground-floor restaurant, and an adjoining public bath. Designed like a monumental wooden box planted atop Brumunddal’s open, lakeside landscape, Mjøstårnet stands as a symbol of the “green shift.” It’s all wood—even it’s elevators are built from CLT and its large-scale interior trusses, as well as the structural columns, are glulam. The architects used local-sourced materials crafted from local suppliers to build the soaring structure, which features a series of wooden fins on its western facade and an open-air rooftop with a sculptural timber topper. Scandinavian company Moelven Limtre, owner of 17 sawmills in Norway and Sweden, supplied the wood and served as the Mjøstårnet’s structural engineer. The mixed-use project is owned by AB Invest, a Jordanian investment group, and beats out Brock Commons at the University of British Columbia by 90 feet. Though the Vancouver-based student housing project also stretches 18 stories high and is actually larger than Mjøstårnet in overall square feet, the Nordic building bests it in height. Last week, 3XN released renderings for what will soon become North America’s tallest mass timber office building, T3 Bayside. Imagined for Toronto’s burgeoning waterfront community, it’s slated to rise just 138 feet.