Search results for "waterfront"

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Dreaming of Finland

Finland will use coronavirus stimulus to build a new architecture and design museum
While also warning of inevitable budget cuts and tax hikes, Finland’s finance minister earlier this week presented a fourth supplementary spending package of 5.5 billion euros ($6.23 billion) dedicated to coronavirus recovery efforts that invest heavily in well-being programs for young people, climate initiatives, education, and affordable housing projects. What’s more, a significant portion of the stimulus will be earmarked for sustainable public transport schemes. As relayed in a news report published by the country’s public broadcasting system Yle, the ultimate goal of the supplementary budget is, per transport and communication minister Timo Harakka, to “promote environmentally-friendly mobility by focusing on the development of municipal transport and high-speed rail projects within and between urban areas.” On the arts and culture front, Finland’s latest supplementary budget will, as announced by science and culture minister Hanna Kosonen, also fund the creation of a new Museum of Architecture and Design in the capital of Helsinki. Yle noted that Kosonen said she “hopes the new museum will be built of wood in accordance with sustainable principles, and it will draw in a lot of visitors and create jobs.” Dezeen reported that allocated funds for the Museum of Architecture and Design, which will bring together two neighboring but separate institutions, the Museum of Finnish Architecture and Helsinki’s Design Museum, will total roughly $68 million. An initial plan to bring together the two museums was first announced in the spring of last year. “It is a significant decision when the state is so strongly committed to the realization of the new Architecture and Design Museum. In the museums, we are now focusing our efforts on playing our part in rebuilding Finland in the midst of the crisis that affects everyone. We will do our utmost to make the museum a place for everyone,” said Reetta Heiskanen, of the Museum of Finnish Architecture, and Jukka Savolainen, of Design Museum in a joint statement. After temporary closures to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, both museums officially reopened to the public earlier this month. Aided by a sizable stockpile of personal protective gear amassed since the Cold War era, widespread tracing and testing efforts, and restrictions that went into place before the country even experienced a single death from the virus, Finland has been largely successful in minimizing the impact of COVID-19. As of this writing, there have been 6,911 reported cases and 322 deaths. By comparison, neighboring Sweden, which initially took a more relaxed approach to safeguarding its citizens as the pandemic raged, has reported 4,562 deaths to date. As for the new museum, it will be built on Helsinki’s South Harbour waterfront area near the city center—not too far from the location of the existing museums in the Kaartinkaupunki neighborhood—with the aim to “bring together the existing museums and their collections and create a new and globally unique place that would attract visitors from both home and abroad.” Both the Museum of Finnish Architecture and Design Museum are currently located in older buildings. The former has been housed in a stately, neo-classical structure built in 1899, since the early 1980s; the latter has been in its current location, a neo-gothic former high school designed by famed architect Gustav Nyström that was completed in 1894, since 1978. Both museums also boast remarkable longevity. The Museum of Finnish Architecture was established in 1956 and describes itself as being “among the oldest museums in the world to specialise in architecture.” Design Museum, which was formerly known as the Museum of the Applied Arts, is even older, having been founded in 1873. “In the view of the museums, the next step is joint discussions with the Ministry of Education a Culture and the City of Helsinki, and to advance the project further towards the establishment of a project organization, as well as further development of the operating model,” elaborated Heiskanen and Savolainen. The new Architecture and Design Museum is slated to open in 2025.
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Power Play

Low-carbon neighborhood takes root at former power station site on San Francisco waterfront
What was once one of San Francisco’s filthiest industrial sites, the old Potrero Power Generating Station at Potrero Point, is on track to be redeveloped as a new 29-acre neighborhood—a “mixed-use modern metropolis” as one local news outlet has dubbed it—complete with 2,600 residential units (30 percent earmarked for lower-income residents), abundant public green space totaling six acres, retail, restaurants, a YMCA, educational and childcare facilities, and more. As reported by Bisnow, the sprawling waterfront mega-development in the city’s Dogpatch neighborhood will also include 1.5 million square feet of “office and life sciences space” and a 250-room boutique hotel located within the bones of the old Unit 3 Power Station (a natural gas-burning steam turbine), which developers plan to leave standing at the site along with other adaptive reuse-targeted structures. Construction on the Potrero Power Station Mixed-Use Project (PPS)​, which received a unanimous blessing from the San Francisco Planning Commission earlier this year followed by an enthusiastic green light from the city’s Board of Supervisors, is set to kick off as soon as late summer, pending pandemic-prompted delays. Developer Associate Capital, which purchased the site for $86 million in 2016, is spearheading the ambitious project while Perkins and Will is overseeing the master plan for what it calls a “ sustainable, resilient neighborhood that embraces wellness.” The Potrero Power Generating Station was first established in the late 19th century and significantly expanded and modernized over the decades. Following years of outcry from community activists over pollution, in 2010 Governor Gavin Newsom ordered that the facility be closed for good. After over 100 years in operation, it was taken offline by energy provider NRG Energy early the following year. At the time of the facility’s closure, the Unit 3 Power Station, built in 1965, was one of the oldest power plants still operating in California. While vestiges of the waterfront site’s industrial past, including a 300-foot-tall smokestack, will, as mentioned, remain for a bit of gritty-historic oomph (at the request of area residents per Bisnow), the ground-up neighborhood that will take shape in the coming years couldn’t be any cleaner. As recently detailed by Smart Cities Dive, the development could potentially include on-site thermal energy plants, in which waste heat from commercial buildings is captured and used for space and water heating needs in the community’s residential buildings. The neighborhood will also eschew car usage in favor of extensive bike and cycling trails and a shuttle system that will provide frequent access to the nearest BART station. There will be parking for private vehicles (925,000 gross square feet of it per the Planning Commission) but the neighborhood’s primary thoroughfares will largely be car-free. All buildings will meet or exceed LEED Gold standards. “It’s been a very thoughtful and intentional plan for a mix of uses," Geeti Silwal, an urban planner and principal at Perkins and Will, told Bisnow. “It’s an opportunity to see how neighborhoods can be planned and developed to be complete communities.” Nonprofit preservation group SF Heritage has applauded the decision to preserve and breathe new life into many of the old power facility’s historic structures, many of which played an integral role in the growth of industry in San Francisco in the early 20th century. “In addition to providing much-needed affordable housing and open space, the project includes a big win for historic preservation,” wrote the group earlier this year. Work on the Potrero Power Station Mixed-Use Project will take place over six phases and span an estimated 16 years.
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MANICA’s Chase Center references San Francisco’s Mission Bay with a sail-like aluminum facade
The Chase Center, the new home for the Golden State Warriors, stands prominently in Mission Bay, San Francisco, and joins a nationwide shift from stadium and arena as standalone monoliths surrounded by acres of asphalt parking lots to those embedded within dense urban frameworks. The 11-acre project, designed by Kansas City’s MANICA Architecture, opened in the Fall of 2019 and consists of two public plazas, a waterfront park, and, of course, a nearly one-million-square-foot arena clad with custom aluminum mega-panels. For MANICA Architecture, the urban context of the project presented an operational challenge; stadiums require arduous logistical planning on and off-site, which typically manifests with one public-facing elevation and others functioning as quasi-loading docks. Instead, the design team buried the infrastructural elements beneath the entire site, which, in turn, freed up the facade to function as a rain screen with stylistic references to the nautical and tech heritage of the San Francisco Bay.
  • Facade Manufacturer MG McGrath Viracon Kynar Pure+FreeForm Centria
  • Architect MANICA Architecture
  • Facade Consultant Walter P Moore
  • Structural Engineer Magnusson Klemencic Associates
  • Facade Installer Enclos MG McGrath
  • Location San Francisco
  • Date of Completion 2019
  • System Custom mega-panel rainscreen
  • Products MG McGrath.125"-thick aluminum plates Arkema Kynar 500 FSF Pure+FreeForm Mission Grain timber Viracon VRE1-65 Insulating Glass
From a structural standpoint, the arena consists of 14 distinct stacked 'drums' which lend the project it's distinct swooping massing. “The free-flowing facade resembles the organic, almost sculptural forms that the sails themselves create, appears in motion with a constantly changing facade experience from every angle,” said MANICA Architecture president David Manica. “The holes in the metal panels are a nod to the punch cards from the original computers, a digital reminder of the area’s rich tech past.” The complex geometry of the arena’s form required a distinctive solution; and MANICA collaborated closely with facade consultant Walter P Moore, fabricator MG McGrath, and facade contractor Enclos to design the custom mega-panels and facade system. The mega-panels are divided into 14 distinct categories—each conforming to a ‘drum’ of the structure—with 5,000 unique panels found across the enclosure. MG McGrath handled the bulk of fabrication out of their Minnesota facility, and produced nearly 140,000-square-feet of unitized-ready .125"-thick aluminum plate panels treated with Arkema’s White Kynar 500 resin coating. “The geometry of the metal panel system consists of different orientations of conical elliptical bands that overlap—since the perimeter of the structure is more of a regular cylindrical oval—the team had to figure out a backup support system that would achieve the design intent and allow these panels to stand off the main structure and air barrier,” said Golden State Warriors vice president of design and construction Peter Bryant. “Rather than install these as individual panels, the team devised a method to preassemble panels onto mega-panel assemblies that were then attached to this backup structure.” The irregular layout of the conical elliptical bands also translated to exposed cantilevers across the project, and the design team turned to wall and ceiling systems producer Pure+FreeForm, also based in Minnesota, to supply a dark-brown wood soffit. The firm developed a custom super-matte finish, called Mission Grain, and extended the material effect to interior wood paneling. Glass curtain wall is primarily found at the entrance atrium and summit of the arena, and consists of Viracon VRE1-65 Insulating Glass backed by a custom-developed architecturally exposed structural steel system.  
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Quayside on the Wayside

Sidewalk Labs pulls the plug on its Toronto waterfront smart city
Citing “unprecedented economic uncertainty,” Daniel L. Doctoroff, chief executive of urban innovation startup and Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk Labs, announced today that plans to move forward with the highly contentious Quayside redevelopment project on the Toronto waterfront have been nixed. Extending his gratitude to development partner Waterfront Toronto and the “countless Torontonians” who contributed to the project, Doctoroff laid out the reasoning behind the “difficult decision” in a statement published on Medium:
“For the last two-and-a-half years, we have been passionate about making Quayside happen—indeed, we have invested time, people, and resources in Toronto, including opening a 30-person office on the waterfront. But as unprecedented economic uncertainty has set in around the world and in the Toronto real estate market, it has become too difficult to make the 12-acre project financially viable without sacrificing core parts of the plan we had developed together with Waterfront Toronto to build a truly inclusive, sustainable community. And so, after a great deal of deliberation, we concluded that it no longer made sense to proceed with the Quayside project, and let Waterfront Toronto know yesterday.” “While we won’t be pursuing this particular project, the current health emergency makes us feel even more strongly about the importance of reimagining cities for the future. I believe that the ideas we have developed over the last two-and-a-half years will represent a meaningful contribution to the work of tackling big urban problems, particularly in the areas of affordability and sustainability. This is a vital societal endeavor, and Sidewalk Labs will continue our work to contribute to it.”
The project, which would have transformed a 12-acre stretch of disused former dockland on Lake Ontario just east of Toronto’s downtown core, was first initiated by Waterfront Toronto in 2017. Sidewalk Labs, an organization headed by Bloomberg alum Doctoroff and funded by Google parent company Alphabet, won the bid to take on the waterfront-revitalizing mixed-use project. While the Quayside development boasted all the hallmarks of an ambitious, forward-thinking urban redevelopment project— an agreeable amount of affordable housing, ample open public space, an overriding emphasis on green construction methods and micro-mobility, attractive design renderings furnished by firms including Heatherwick Studio and Snøhetta, and more—it was also poised to function, to significant controversy, as a living laboratory (or a Big Tech petri dish, perhaps) for a wide array of cutting-edge city tech solutions developed by Google. Sidewalk Labs itself referred to the planned neighborhood as “a testbed for emerging technologies, materials, and processes.” Despite insistence by Sidewalk Labs that it had consulted with “thousands of Torontonians” in fine-tuning the scheme, pushback against the Quayside development master plan has been sharp. A September 2019 document published by Waterfront Toronto’s independent Digital Strategy Advisory Panel (DSAP), bemoaned that the futuristic and “frustratingly abstract” project relied too heavily on showcasing “tech for tech’s sake” while sidelining the basic needs and wants of users. The DSAP “felt that the plan did not appear to put the citizen at the centre of the design process for digital innovations, as was promised in the beginning and is necessary for legitimacy.” Concerns over privacy had also been brought up time and time again although Sidewalk Labs had promised not to use facial recognition technology or harness personal information for advertising within the development. In a statement shared by CBC News, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association referred to the withdrawal of Sidewalks Labs “as a victory for privacy and democracy, clearing the way for that reset to take place.” Others opposed to the project have expressed similar elation. Another point of controversy was an attempt to widen the scope of the lakefront development from 12 acres, the size first envisioned when Sidewalk Labs was tapped by Waterfront Toronto to spearhead the project, to 190 acres. Just a couple of months after Sidewalk Labs announced the super-sizing of the high-tech utopia to 16 times larger its original planned acreage, the company agreed to scale it back down. “They had to work with us and not be adversarial if they were going to be successful,” said Stephen Diamond, chair of Waterfront Toronto, at the time. “They basically ceded to the most important threshold issues that we needed to get resolved to move forward.” The project, which Sidewalk Labs had invested $980 million in as project developer, was still a good while out from securing a full governmental go-ahead before being scrapped by the company. Waterfront Toronto was also still in the process of mulling the latest iteration of the redevelopment proposal. That decision was to come in March but then pushed back to May due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. City councilman and Waterfront Toronto board member Joe Cressy said in a statement that he was not given advance notice of Sidewalk Labs’ decision to walk away from the project, and just found out this morning. “Over the past two years, Waterfront Toronto has invested a considerable amount of work in the development of Quayside,” he said. “Legitimate concerns were raised regarding Sidewalk Labs' proposals, including concerns over data collection and digital governance.” “While this does mean that Waterfront Toronto will start again to reimagine Quayside, none of this work will go to waste," Cressy added. "The engagement and feedback we have received from residents and community organizations has given us a solid framework that will shape our work going forward.”

Diamond echos Cressy’s sentiments, emphasizing that the down-and-out swath of Toronto waterfront in question will still be home to a progressive new development in the future.

“Quayside remains an excellent opportunity to explore innovative solutions for affordable housing, improved mobility, climate change, and several other pressing urban challenges that Toronto—and cities around the world—must address in order to continue to grow and succeed,” Diamond said in a news release. “Today is not the end of Quayside, but the first day of its future. Waterfront Toronto will continue to seek public and expert input as we make a next generation community at Quayside a reality.”

A similar sense of optimism has also been expressed by some of those tapped by Sidewalk Labs to contribute to its vision for Quayside. Michael Green, principal of the eponymous Vancouver-headquartered architecture firm famed for its record-setting mass timber buildings, provided a statement to AN that puts a positive spin on today’s development:

“COVID has given us personally and professionally time to reflect. The economics of all of our businesses are changing. Sidewalk’s decision should also create a time for reflection. Are we a country of Process or a country of Progress? Sidewalk was buried in process that perhaps impacted their decision. Is that ok?  Maybe not. Maybe we should reflect. Progress is exactly what COVID is challenging us to think about. Are we going to address climate and affordability or are we going to bog down in talking about it and not innovating and taking action. As policy changed to close roads for bikes and pedestrians or open outdoor seating for restaurants to help with social distance we are seeing cities transform before our eyes. The opportunity is to not let these temporary policy changes go backwards.”
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After the Flood

Richard Mullane on the ‘Collect & Connect’ strategy for San Francisco Bay and coastal resiliency
How do you make waterfront locations resilient to the problems caused by climate change? How can you support communities to manage—and come to terms with—flood risk? As governments and developers reverse their thinking around the land value adjacent to our global rivers and harbors, these challenges are shifting urban design in new and exciting ways. The Rockefeller Foundation sponsored recent resilience-focused work in the San Francisco Bay Area, an area that typifies the challenges faced by many cities and communities around the world, with low-lying shoreline around the Bay isolated by misplaced freeway infrastructure, and communities economically depressed due to decommissioned industries and the loss of jobs. These communities face the dual threats of sea-level rise at the shore-edge and increased stormwater flooding from the uplands, with the additional environmental risk of earthquakes and the liquefaction of historical landfill. The Resilient by Design project asked a team of local, national, and international design experts to search for replicable solutions to make communities more resilient to these dynamic threats, all of which are expected to intensify dramatically, in both the immediate and long-term future. The project involved extensive data analysis of climate change vulnerability, as well as multidisciplinary prototyping of solutions for adapting vulnerable sites and communities, significantly pushing creative thinking in this burgeoning area of landscape architecture and urban design. One of the unanimous observations to come from the project was that traditional engineering protections and hard-edged solutions are not practical in solving these complex challenges—as many San Francisco Bay Area shoreline communities have already witnessed. As an example, embankments designed to offer protection from rising sea levels have resulted in trapping stormwater from the land-side of the Bay, in itself causing flooding, and posing the complex challenge of pumping stormwater out to sea. The main flaw, identified by designers and communities alike, that comes from focusing on hard solutions, is that, by nature, they are fearful and defensive, and designed to function at their best in a worst-case scenario – in the case of the South Bay area this equates to a current probability of once every 200 years. Instead, the Resilient by Design team concluded that the challenges called for the combined creativity, knowledge, and experience of residents and public officials, along with collaborative working between landscape architects and urban designers. This in itself pushed a new wave of thinking into an area of the built environment where engineering has traditionally led the design process, bringing to the fore a social dimension to problem-solving. Before it had become known as the Bay Area’s ‘industrial city’, South San Francisco was the kind of place where people could walk the length of the creek to swim in the bay; a connection to the water that has been lost over the last half-century. A key focus for the project was on re-establishing this connection; making the South Bay waterfront an attractive and accessible part of daily life. Through extensive community engagement, research, and an inclusive design process that involved transforming a disused bank into a community design hub and establishing social media channels to share images and ideas, the design team for the project, Hassell+, mapped out a range of ways to make South City stronger. These included making it easier to reach and enjoy the local creek and bay; reducing the impact of flooding; building resilience to sea-level rise; returning native flora and fauna to the area; and making a healthy, active life near the water easier to imagine and achieve. The team drew on international precedents for waterfront adaptation and urban expansion. In smaller Chinese cities on the Yangtze River, communities construct riverbank pavilions for the dry season, then carefully deconstruct for the wet season each year. In Indonesia there are villages where residents have learned to accept—and adapt to—the fact that floods turn the streets into the canals for part of the year. In my hometown of Newcastle, Australia, our suburban rugby parks are designed as additional capacity for stormwater within the low-lying areas, with big rains bringing stormwater onto the fields from the surrounding streets and canceling the weekend games every few weeks. There’s immense potential for designing for climate change in these examples of nature and culture sharing space, and it was this last example that led the Hassell+ collective to its multi-benefit proposition for waterfront communities around San Francisco Bay. The resulting overarching South City strategy—named Collect & Connect—proposes a resilient, responsive network where creeks and streets could be redesigned as green linear corridors for water management and community gathering, transforming the regional structure from a vulnerable loop into a connected resilient network, enabling better disaster response and water management, but also contributing to greater liveability and connectedness across the community-at-large. Open green inundation areas double up as an early flood warning strategy, giving visible signs to the community that floodwaters are rising. Public open space is planted with local species to support the biodiversity needed to create native landscapes that are more resilient to extreme weather. Spaces for events such as markets and sports support communities to live social, healthy lifestyles. Finally, the project highlights the importance of public open space in allowing communities to gather, organize, and rebuild in times of disaster, becoming centers of shelter, or even temporary hospitals and schools. Other highlights of the Resilient South City proposal include: — A wider, greener creek, to manage flooding and create the right conditions for a sequence of new parks — A South City Circle Bridge, serving as a walking and cycling gateway to all transport modes — An ‘eco waterpark’ at a revamped water plant, to become a teaching tool and natural shoreline swimming pool — A native plant nursery, to help control flooding and treat run-off from the nearby highway — A ‘living levee’, to form a wetland for restoring habitat and hold stormwater in extreme high tides — Schools located on higher ground, to become hubs for water treatment and community recreation Ultimately, the Bay Area Resilient by Design Challenge has served as a call-to-action for the region to continue to work together and move the cause forward. It is hoped that as a project exemplar it will aid and inspire others working on practical master plans to support people and environments in waterside communities through a flexible and dynamic network of public spaces—that recognize the impacts of climate as one of the key ‘users’ of public space. This article appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Citizen, a new magazine for everybody engaged in shaping the city, published by the London School of Architecture. The issue is available to read for free at
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Reaching New Heights Down Under

Australia’s future tallest tower gets go-ahead in Melbourne
The twisty, plant-clad skyscrapers of Southbank by Beulah, a vertical mixed-use development planned for the Melbourne waterfront, have received the formal green light from Australia’s Victorian State Government after garnering enthusiastic support from the Future Melbourne Committee last month. Construction on the dual towers, collectively dubbed “the Green Spine,” is expected to kick off next year and wrap up in 2026. A project of Melbourne developer Beulah International, the self-described  “vertical mini-metropolis” was designed by Amsterdam-headquartered UNStudio in close collaboration with venerable Australian firm Cox Architecture, “Today is a day to celebrate on many fronts with the planning approval signalling a momentous achievement for all involved. We are honoured that Southbank by Beulah has received unanimous support for its design,” said Caroline Bos, principal and co-founder of UNStudio. “From the initial concept to one that has evolved into a groundbreaking global collaborative project, the outcome is an exciting prospect, not only for the project team but for Melbourne, reaffirming its reputation as the world's most liveable city.” Reaching 1,197 feet, the lankier of Southbank by Beulah's two skyline-redefining towers will stand as the tallest skyscraper in Australia, a country already replete with very tall buildings in addition to very big things. The title is currently held by the Q1 tower, which looms over the Gold Coast at 1,058 feet. Other supertalls in Melbourne include Australia 108 (1,039 feet) and the Eureka Tower (975 feet). The shorter tower at Southbank by Beulah tops out at a still-impressive 827 feet. In addition to its record-setting height of one its towers, foliage-filled balconies will be a defining feature of Southbank by Beulah's “twisted terraced forms.” As UNStudio writes: “The spine twists into a series of outdoor spaces and green devices along the facades of the two towers, paying homage to Melbourne’s title of the Garden City, symbolically bridging the iconic Royal Botanic Gardens with Melbourne’s Arts Precinct.” In addition to the greenery-filled apartment terraces, the residential tower will also have pocket parks peppered throughout a quartet of sky-high neighborhoods, which will “provide residents with a sense of community and a place to relax, before culminating in a landscaped journey to the publicly accessible rooftop sky garden.” Rising from a parcel currently occupied by a BMW dealership in Melbourne's formerly industrial Southbank district, the development will encompass 2.9 million square feet of largely residential space complemented by commercial offices, retail shops and restaurants, a 220-room “five-star urban resort,” health and wellness facilities, a crèche, arts and culture venues, and more. Over 78,000 square feet will be dedicated to vertiginous public green space including the aforementioned pocket parks and rooftop sky garden. “We sometimes hear people in this city say, ‘Melbourne has never seen anything like it,’” said Nicholas Reece, chair of the City of Melbourne’s Planning Portfolio, in a statement: “That is often said with a little bit of exaggeration but think we can confidently say ‘Melbourne has never seen anything like Beulah.’” The Green Spine scheme was selected as the winner in a 2018 international competition that pitted UNStudio and Cox Architecture against five other international design teams headed by the likes of OMA, Bjarke Ingels Group, MVRDV, MAD Architects, and Coop Himmelb(l)au. Three additional large-scale projects in Melbourne were also approved alongside Southbank by Beulah as part of a construction and development-powered economic rebounding initiative headed by the Building Victoria's Recovery Taskforce. The idea is that these major projects will provide a billion-dollar-plus jumpstart to the regional economy in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, and ensure the health of Victoria real estate development in the long-term. Southbank by Beulah alone will employ 4,700 workers throughout the construction phases. “This taskforce will help ensure the building and development industry is a driving force for Victoria's economy through this pandemic and beyond,” said Victoria's planning and housing minister Richard Wynne in a statement. “It will help deliver existing projects more efficiently and assist new projects to get off the ground faster.”
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ODA’s 420 Kent leans towards the New York skyline with cantilevered massing and reflective glass
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From South Williamsburg to Long Island City, the formerly industrial waterfront of Brooklyn and Queens is undergoing an exhaustive spree of development delivering thousands of residential and commercial units. 420 Kent, a project developed by Spitzer Enterprises and designed by New York-based architecture firm ODA, continues that trend with three mixed-use towers that establish a formidable presence with highly reflective glass cladding and a series of dramatic cantilevers. Bearing more than a passing resemblances to a Jenga game, the 800,000-square-foot project is located between the Williamsburg Bridge and the Brooklyn Navy Yard and runs adjacent to a riverside esplanade. Each of the towers is 24 stories and rises from streetwall-ringing podiums. The development broke ground in 2016 and wrapped up in 2019.
  • Facade Manufacturer Guardian Glass Pioneer Windows
  • Architect ODA
  • Facade Installer Pioneer Windows ZDG Construction Management (General Contractor)
  • Facade Consultant SURFACE Design Group
  • Location New York
  • Date of Completion 2020
  • System Pioneer Curtain Wall System 7600 series
  • Products Guardian SunGuard AG-43
The site is prominent and possesses unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline—a feature the design team aimed to highlight by positioning each apartment as a corner unit. “In order to do that we broke away from the typical rectangular floor plan that has four corner units and made all 12 corner units, and we had four types of floor plans that were stacked to create terraces for 30 [percent] of the units,” said ODA founding principal Eran Chen. “This created a series of 15 feet cantilevers that are supported by a diagonal structural columns.” Facade consultant SURFACE Design Group, a frequent collaborator with ODA, handled the schematic design of the enclosure through construction administration and monitoring. Each of the curtainwall modules measure 4'-2" by 8', which consist of AG-43 SunGuard Glass supplied by Guardian Glass backed by an aluminum-framed curtain wall system, as well as shadow panels at the spandrel, and zero slight line out-swing windows. According to SURFACE Design Group partner Benson Gillespie, wind-load and the project’s many cantilever transitions proved a challenge. “In the higher wind-load areas (at the corners), the vertical mullions were internally reinforced where required to accommodate the loads, and numerous quality control measures were taken throughout construction to ensure the facade system’s performance, including air and water chamber testing at these difficult transitions.” As highlighted by the damage inflicted on Williamsburg by Hurricane Sandy, 420 Kent is unsurprisingly located in a FEMA-designated flood zone and the design team incorporated mitigating measures for the complex in line with code requirements. The solution is a one-story tall concrete wall at the building base located below flood elevations, supplemented with temporary barriers at the doors and entrances.
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Wuhan For The People

Sasaki reveals a 4,448-acre business district for Wuhan
The city of Wuhan, China, long known throughout the country as the “crossroads of nine provinces,” has become an urban center within the last few years, seeing a population explosion thanks to the rapid expansion of China’s High-Speed Railway network. In an effort to capitalize on the city’s burgeoning national significance, the Wuhan Planning Bureau recently approved the Wuhan Yangchun Lake Business District, a 4,448-acre master plan designed by international design firm Sasaki in collaboration with ARUP, JLL, and the Wuhan Planning Institute. In light of the site’s proximity to the nearby Yangchun Lake, which has lately suffered from poor water quality, as well as a large solid waste landfill near the waterfront that has negatively contributed to the city's air quality, Sasaki’s main concern was improving the district’s environment conditions by incorporating over 900 acres of green space. The canal network coursing through the district will be “naturalized” to re-establish its connection to the lake’s floodplain to manage stormwater during city-wide floods while repairing the existing riparian habitat. The master plan was thus centered around a large park that sits atop the former solid waste landfill and is additionally organized around newly constructed wetlands along the lake to benefit local biodiversity as well as provide several recreational paths for pedestrians. Greenways planted along several existing roadways will provide an urban tree canopy along the city’s busiest pathways, and a series of pocket parks sprinkled throughout the site are intended to ensure that all residents of the district are within a ten-minute walk from a public landscape. By developing an extensive pedestrian network along and within those green spaces and densifying the street grid, the master plan produces a “human-scaled environment” that will likely encourage residents to more heavily rely on public transportation and walking or biking between destinations. While existing neighborhoods will remain intact as much as possible to avoid disrupting preexisting social dynamics, the land uses between blocks will be redeveloped to foster new business opportunities and social networks. Multiple buildings in the new district will be designed with sky gardens and direct access to parks and pedestrian pathways. The result of the overall Wuhan Yangchun Lake Business District, according to a press release from Sasaki, is a “landscape-forward urban blueprint that advances an environmentally progressive agenda and defines Wuhan’s next generation of growth.”
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Terreform, Berke, Wines, and more remember the late Michael Sorkin
Michael Sorkin, inimitable scribe of the built environment and leading design mind, passed away in New York at age 71 last Thursday after contracting COVID-19. Survived by his wife Joan Copjec, Sorkin leaves behind an invaluable body of work, as the following tributes—from friends, colleagues, peers—readily acknowledge. This is the second of a two-part series; the first can be read here Jie Gu, director, lead urban designer, Michael Sorkin Studio “Jie, can you wiggle these buildings and make them sexy?” “Jie, can you let me have some fun?” “Jie, I had a dream last night. I think we need to try something new.” “Jie, I will be in on Saturday, leave me something not boring.” Michael, I miss the dynamic “creatures” you directed me to model. Michael, I miss the tremendous beauty of your red-colored sketches. Michael, I miss your utopian dreams for sustainable cities. Michael, I wish I could have spent more time with you. “Jie, if I go, you must use our legacy to keep going in the direction that seems best.” These were his last words to me, and they will resonate with me forever. Makoto Okazaki, former partner, Michael Sorkin Studio Like Matsuo Bashō, the most famous haiku poet of Edo-period Japan, Michael was inspired by his many journeys. The last email I received from him—on February 5th, 2020—was about a hospital in Wuhan built in just ten days to treat those infected with COVID-19. It was located within the area where we had, in 2010, designed a masterplan, what we called Houguan Lake Ecological City. In the same email, Michael expressed his disappointment over having to cancel a trip to China due to the spread of coronavirus. He was often on business trips, which took him all over the world. On one occasion, he joked to me that a secret of his happy marriage was traveling alone a lot. I took this as advice! Wherever he was, Michael would send his inspirations and sketches back to the studio in New York City. We would develop them into a design proposal—not without some miscommunication—then toss it over to him. Back and forth, until we landed on something both strange and fantastic. We were thrilled by the whole process. Michael, you’ve now left on another journey. We all miss you. Deen Sharp and Vyjayanthi Rao, co-directors, Terreform Center for Advanced Urban Research Michael fizzed with ideas, his energy always captivating and inspiring. You could walk into his office to talk about a book project that we at Terreform had underway and walk out with instructions to contact a dozen different people about three more. Somehow amid this frenzy of activity, Michael always managed to maintain a laser-like focus on the Terreform mission of producing research to achieve more just, beautiful, and equitable cities. Somehow in this flood of ideas and instructions, proposals and counterproposals, Michael would always get the project done and the book (it always ended in a book!) printed. Terreform was founded in 2005 as a place for connecting research, design, and critique on urgent urban questions and using that research in the public’s interest. UR (Urban Research), founded in 2015 as Terreform’s publishing imprint, was the vehicle to make ideas accessible and truly public. With Michael at the helm, both platforms produced an inordinate number of proposals, books, reports, articles, symposiums, and launches. All were self-initiated, and Michael, initiator that he was, has left all of us at Terreform with plenty more to do. Most urgent is completing his—and Terreform’s—flagship project, New York City (Steady) State. The project’s central proposition is that the city can take responsibility for its ecological footprint. With New York City as his laboratory, Michael led several designers and social scientists in formulating designs and policies that could catalyze metabolic changes to critical infrastructural systems. The aim was to achieve a “steady state” of self-sufficiency within the city’s political boundaries. Ever the contrarian, Michael turned to steady state economics—a radical approach in a world addicted to growth and wilfully blind to its toxic consequences—to fashion an equally radical political vision of cities as central units for ensuring social and ecological justice. NYC (Steady) State was conceived as a series of books focusing on food and waste systems, energy, and mobility as the four key systems drastically in need of redesigning. Just last month, Michael was making final edits to Homegrown, the first book in the series and one focusing on New York City’s food production, consumption cycles, and distribution systems. His devotion to the project was so fierce that even after being hospitalized he sent emails urging us to complete and publish the volume. Beyond New York, projects were incubating in and about practically every corner of the world, all guided by students, friends, and admirers of Michael's. Their ideas were seeded or sharpened in their encounters with Michael at Terreform's 180 Varick Street office, where practically every workday ended with a visitor dropping by to say hello, being introduced to the crew, and sharing ideas over drinks. Terreform’s research projects have taken us to many places and brokered many friendships. For instance, Terreform has a lively group of friends in Chicago hard at work on South Side Stories, a collective project that shines a light on activist groups in the South Side and their struggle to reposition the Obama Presidential Center from a magnet of gentrification to catalyst for equitable, evenly dispersed urban development. Set in another conflict zone, the Terreform/UR book Open Gaza will add to Michael’s already substantial contribution to the Palestinian struggle for social and spatial justice when it is published next month. Our research projects, along with UR’s many internationally focused book projects, are primarily vehicles for showing how critique and design can speak the same language. For Michael, Terreform’s unique mission lay in developing an interdisciplinary dialogue that could be embraced by theorists, practitioners, and activists alike, and enable them to share new ways of looking at and imagining the world. Even as it hewed close to the standards of the university, Terreform sought to democratize these forms of knowledge beyond it by creating an accessible platform to address urgent issues in a timely and nimble fashion. We know we can never fill the huge absence that Michael leaves us. We are nevertheless determined to carry on Michael’s enormous legacy, to complete the large number of projects that are already underway, and to continue the work of urban research for greater social justice, beauty, and equality in our cities. Click here to learn how you can support Terreform. UR books are available for purchase here. James Wines, artist and architect The tragic loss of Michael Sorkin, as both a dear friend and premier voice for urban design on the international architecture scene, is still impossible for me to accept. At 87, I thought I would have been long gone before this, and so never anticipated experiencing the shock and despair I am feeling right now. Michael’s work in design criticism, theory, history, and planning—particularly his efforts to shape the future of cityscapes—was inclusive and visionary; indeed, he was an indelible fixture in global thinking on these topics. He was one of those rare disciplinary figures whose voice was synonymous with the profession, so that it is impossible to think about the condition of architecture and urbanism today without Michael’s ideas as pivotal points of reference and beacons of wisdom. His absence is inconceivable. While the endless fruits of his creativity will remain in museum and university archives to nourish future generations, an enormous part of the communicative value of Michael’s work was his participation in public dialogues. In this sense, he was like a great musical performer who made wonderful recordings; but the full measure of his talents was best experienced in concert format. Michael played both the revolutionary thinker and the consummate public speaker, a performance unmatched in architecture. As friends, professional colleagues, and career-long skeptics concerning all manifestations of design orthodoxy, Michael and I had a bottomless reservoir of art and design issues to debate during our thirty-plus years of dialogue. In terms of primary emphasis, we were both committed to solutions for the public domain and how to best encourage interaction among people within cityscapes. I often used to comment, when introducing our appearances on symposia, that Michael took care of the larger issues in urban design while I followed up with solutions for the small stuff under people’s feet. As our discussions unfolded, this was invariably the scenario that played out: Michael would cover the master plans, civic strategies, economics, and infrastructure, and then I would insert ideas for the pedestrian amenities of walkways, seating, plazas, gardens, and play spaces. Whereas I could hold my own in the presentation of visual material, Michael’s verbal eloquence always stole the show. I can recall so many lectures and conferences where I would find myself so enthralled with Michael’s delivery that my own faculties failed when it came my turn to speak. He was the ultimate impossible-act-to-follow on any podium. Michael and I had that kind of nurturing friendship where we could meet in an explosion of discourse on some hot topic, or just sit quietly at dinner and experience the reinforcing comfort of saying nothing. Of all Michael’s many talents, the pinnacle was his acerbic wit, with which he skewered the pomposities of our profession and politics of the day. Not only was his trenchant humor invariably on target, it was always articulated in such a way that inspired the opposition to re-think an issue. It is especially ironic that Michael Sorkin—a major advocate of integrative cities and people interaction—passed away during a time of global pandemic, when millions of urban dwellers have retreated into protective isolation. For this reason, I want to end this tribute with a quote on his work from my 2000 book Green Architecture:
Michael Sorkin might appropriately be called a visionary with a heart. He has understood that, with the universal buzz about people living in cyberspace and communicating primarily through global wavelengths, this is already a reality and just another convenient set of tools that will soon be assimilated into the realm of routine. In this respect, computers are just like every other exotic technology that has nourished science fiction hyperbole and ended up as nostalgic curios in antique auctions. In designing for the future city, Sorkin has acknowledged that people are weary of looking at digital screens all day and sit-coms all night; so why on earth would they want their neighborhood to be another extension of virtual reality? The fact is that people need and value human interaction more than ever because of computer technology. In the Sorkin city, they walk, talk, sit on stoops, tend their gardens, and breathe cleaner air. Preserving this desirable reality is the basic goal of sustainability and the primary urban design challenge of the future.
Moshe Safdie, principal, Safdie Architects For several decades, Michael Sorkin has been a unique voice in architecture. In a period of competing schools of thoughts, transitioning from one “-ism” to another, his critical voice was clear and constant, unwavering, with a focus on the impact of architecture on peoples’ lives and well-being; on the principles that must sustain urban life. He spoke about morals, values and ethics as others reviewed architecture as an ongoing fashion parade. Michael’s commitment to the idea that architecture must be in the service of those for whom we build, led him to strip the discourse of architecture from jargon and private lingo; expressing ideas clearly and articulately to the general public. As a critic at The Village Voice, he reached many outside the profession. He became propagandist for architecture, both within the profession and to the public at large, expanding horizons of the impact of our built environment has on our planet. Michael was a great and passionate teacher. I vividly remember his attendance at design reviews at the GSD, where sometimes faculty comments verge on the esoteric. Michael responded with surgical precision, getting to the essence of a design, and doing so in plain-talk. In his practice, both in Michael Sorkin Studio and Terreform, he was a prolific provocateur, embracing scales from small neighborhood parks to entire cities. The studio produced numerous proposals. Alas, not enough were realized, but the impact on the current generation is profound. It is not often that we find, in one person, an architect, urban designer, educator, theorist, critic and writer. I will miss his voice, cut-off suddenly and untimely, at a time when it is most needed. I hope that the coming generation will embrace the professional ethic his life represents. Deborah Berke, partner, Deborah Berke Partners, and dean of the Yale School of Architecture Michael Sorkin was a great critic, inspired teacher, and a brilliant thinker. And happily for me, he was my friend. We would have a drink together once or twice a year and talk about New York. From old New York to the New York we loved to the New York we missed to the New York we hoped for in the future. Michael was a searing and insightful critic, all the way back to his days at The Village Voice, as well as in his many books and in his more recent criticism for The Nation. He was also an insightful teacher—he taught at Yale twice, first in 1990 as the William B. and Charlotte Shepherd Davenport visiting professor, then in 1991 as the William Henry Bishop visiting professor. He brought these same teaching skills to his strong leadership as the director of the master of urban planning program at the Spitzer School of Architecture at City College (CCNY). He was also one of the most learned and well-read people I’ve ever met. His interests were diverse and his memory was expansive. Michael argued for the greater good in every aspect of the built environment—from the smallest detail of a building to the largest gesture of a regional plan. He will be missed. His convictions, his voice, and his heart are irreplaceable. Barry Bergdoll, Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University I can still rerun lines in my head verbatim from some of Michael’s Village Voice pieces—especially the ones I just couldn’t stop rereading while howling with laughter. His send-up of the Charlottesville Tapes was a true classic, a teddy bear to reach for in the most desperate moments of trying to survive postmodernism. Michael was an arsonist to be sure, yet he also wanted to rebuild something of value and commitment in the place of pretension and posturing. He held out hope for all engaged in architecture to his last moments—as the bright moral light on the horizon that he was—that architecture could still be an instrument for building community. When Reinhold Martin and I looked to launch our experimental Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream project in 2011, amid the ongoing foreclosure crisis, we turned to Michael, inviting him to participate in the opening panel discussion. He offered cogent analyses of our all-too vague brief as well as suggested lines of attack for making architecture that mattered. Along the way he also offered the audience gathered at MoMA PS1 and online a very moving description of his own upbringing in Hollin Hills, Northern Virginia. Hollin Hills was a place where Americans cultivated living together, Michael said, in language that starkly contrasts with the language of intolerance that has since invaded American life, virus-like. Ironically, I think he feared this virus more than the one that took him from us. Michael left us right when we needed him most. With his lucid intelligence, sense of purpose, and biting satirical way of writing, he could cut away the flack even as he focused us on the essential. Nothing he wrote is dated, even if much of it was provoked by immediate events. To reread his pieces is to be in conversation with one of the most truly original and free-thinking minds of architecture. I can’t imagine how anyone will fill the gap, but the texts will continue to delight us and offer refreshing insights. (Think how he knew, for instance, to appreciate Breuer’s Whitney at the moment when fashionable opinion was dead-set against it.) There are many ways to spend our evenings apart at the moment. I, for one, have found a superb tonic for these dark times: pour a glass of bourbon in Michael’s memory and prop open your favorite collection of his writings. We will miss you for years and years to come, Michael. Vanessa Keith, principal, StudioTEKA Design When I came to New York City as a young architect 20 years ago, I was in search of a mentor. Coming from a fine arts background, I wanted someone who I felt was a truly great mind, who I could learn from, and who would take me under their wing. So when I met Michael while I was working on a project for the Spitzer School of Architecture at CCNY, I felt an immediate affinity. He reminded me in some ways of my academic parents and their radical lefty friends who dreamed of a better world while working on their PhD dissertations. From there, I started teaching studio at CCNY in 2002, and being invited to Michael’s UD juries was definitely a high point. He was so innovative, and he always had the backs of everyday people who don’t always get to have their voices heard. He made us think critically and differently, and he didn’t shut down ideas just because they were coming from someone younger or less “educated.” In 2007, Michael; Achva Stein, then head of CCNY’s landscape architecture program; David Leven, of LevenBetts and CCNY; and Ana Maria Duran, a good friend from grad school at Penn who was teaching at PUCE (Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador) in Quito, were doing a joint architecture, landscape, and urban design studio focused on a site in the Ecuadorian rainforest. Ana Maria invited me to lead a student charrette at the Quito Architecture Biennale, which I accepted. Once there, I received another invitation, this one to travel with the studio groups to Lago Agrio, taking Achva’s place. Again, I accepted, getting the yellow fever vaccine and some anti-malaria pills. Shivering and teeth chattering from a reaction to the injection, I jumped on the bus heading down the mountains. What a treat! We took trips up the river with local guides in canoes, avoided the areas marked “piranha,” and at a safer junction jumped into the muddy river water fully dressed in all our gear. The entire group stayed in the rainforest at a research station, saw butterflies in metamorphosis against the backdrop of oil installations, and had a jolly old time. Michael joked about making a calendar featuring scrappy Ecuadorian street dogs, the very antithesis of the Westminster Dog Show. He always rooted for the underdog, valuing the ingenuity and skills of local people and treating them with the utmost respect. Michael helped so many people, and he was so generous with his time. He was always up for coming to Studioteka and playing the role of critic for whatever we were working on in our annual summer research project. That’s how my book, 2100: A Dystopian Utopia — The City After Climate Change for Terreform’s UR imprint, came to be. Several years of in-office juries, occasionally zinging (but usually hilarious and on-point) critiques, and edits followed, and the book came out in 2017. Since then, Michael and the team at Terreform have offered incredible guidance, support and enthusiasm, helping us to get the word out, and cheering me on through each book event, lecture, publication, and milestone. More recently, we had our 2100 VR day at StudioTEKA and gave Michael, along with UR managing director Cecilia Fagel, their very first experience in virtual reality! They were dubious at first, but they were quickly among the converted. At one point in the VR tour, they were put on a plank changing a lightbulb hundreds of feet above the city, and in the end, they asked everyone to jump down. Michael demurred, Cecilia said yes, and we had to catch her! Michael was a brilliant mind, a champion of the dispossessed, and someone who fought valiantly for a just, equitable, and environmentally sustainable future. He believed in cities, in the power of collective action, and that doing better was always possible. Now we must strive to carry on without him, and push hard for the better world he laid out for us in his work. M. Christine Boyer, William R. Kenan, Jr. professor of architecture and urbanism, Princeton University School of Architecture It is too soon to bid farewell to my friend and colleague Michael Sorkin, whom I knew since we were students together at MIT. The last time we saw each other, in late January, we simply hugged each other goodbye: he was due to fly to China, I to Athens. It is indeed a silent spring now that he is gone! Yet his legacy lives on. He leaves a profound and lasting impact on public awareness, on architectural practice, on political commitment! His call to action remains. Michael Sorkin was the conscience of architecture, a visionary change-maker, dedicated educator, engaged author, and imaginative designer. He never backed down from opposing points of view. Rather, he called us all to live better in the world, to mend the city of inequity and injustice. He helped us build solid relationships through his edited books, a forum he built for voices to rise up together in solidarity. He was truly the root from which sprung our dedication to a socially responsible architecture. Michael’s pen brilliantly and humorously elevated the level of architectural and urban criticism into a new art. He was always writing for a better city yet to come. His concern was how to build a city of freedom, diversity, authenticity, participation, intimacy. Let his words speak!
“For me, writing has been the extension of architecture by other means both polemically and as fuel for my money pit of a studio. I write because I am an architect.” —Some Assembly Required (2001) “Architecture cries out for a reinfusion of some sense of responsibility to human program as a generative basis for both its ideology and its formal and technological practice, but gets it less and less.” —Some Assembly Required (2001) “[T]he new city is little more than a swarm of urban bits jettisoning a physical view of the whole; sacrificing the idea of the city as the site of community and human connection.”—Variations on a Theme Park (1991)
He pleaded for a return to a more authentic urbanity, “a city based on physical proximity and free movement and a sense that the city is our best expression of a desire for collectivity.” The goal was, and is, “to reclaim the city is the struggle of democracy itself.” And it is a struggle over contending voices!
“[T]he City is both a place where all sorts of arrangements are possible, and the apparatus for harmonizing autonomy and propinquity./ Freedom, pleasure, convenience, beauty, commerce, and production are the reasons for the City.” —Local Code: The Constitution of a City at 42° N Latitude (1993)
Michael’s critical writings on the politics of architecture live on, be they about the utopian schemes for the World Trade Center or the reconstruction of New Orleans, or the engagement of Palestinian and Israeli voices in the future of Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. He wrote about the battle for freedom, global and local responsibility, the environment, even as he addressed the milieu of architecture, making appeals for inclusion, for connectivity, for sharing, and more. In this silent spring of isolation that robs us of his voice, his pen, his friendship and humor, listen to the small murmurs arising, the tributes that come in from far and near. Witness his influence great and small. From the soil he has nourished with his commitment and action will spring forth—amid ongoing contestation—a better city. Listen to his call! This dear Michael, our Michael, is your enduring legacy.
Sharon Zukin, professor emerita of sociology, Brooklyn College and City University Graduate Center Michael Sorkin was an architect’s writer and a writer’s architect. He had a brilliant wit, a ready command of politics, history, and principles of design, and a passionate commitment to social justice. He wrote in plain English and published prolifically. He scorned hypocrisy, shunned opportunists, and acted to build a better world. Although he had peeves—venal real estate developers, corrupt politicians, celebrity architects, that tin-plated hustler Donald Trump—Michael wasn’t peevish. He could not tolerate intolerance. He was impatient with himself, but he was also a generous teacher, colleague, and friend. During all the years that I knew him (I want to write have known him), I never understood how he could travel so far, write so much, or launch so many projects with so many people and always bring them to completion. Yet his genius ranged most freely, and his rage was most keenly charged, when he wrote about ego and power in the city that he loved: New York. I admired Michael as a writer before I knew him as either an architect or a friend.  I had been a devoted reader of his architectural criticism in The Village Voice during the 1980s. At the time, New York was in transition, moving from widespread deprivation to Reaganite glamour, yuppie glitz, and localized gentrification, even as fiscal austerity penalized the Rust Belt of the outer boroughs and quarantined communities of color. Michael cut through the hype to the complicit collusion of the real estate industry and government agencies; I learned a lot from reading him. Although he and I walked the same streets—and lived in the same neighborhood, Greenwich Village—his streets were more layered than mine because he knew more, had a better eye, and directed his critiques with pinpoint clarity. Who could ever catch up with him? The elegant essays that make up the book Twenty Minutes in Manhattan—shaped by the walk from his home to his office—are my favorites in Michael’s considerable oeuvre. He starts with the stairs in the Old Law tenement where he and Joan, his wife and life-partner, lived for many years. He recounts the difficulties he has had climbing those stairs, especially on crutches after surgery, and then segues into a brief but exact description of their construction. This leads him to reflect on other, grander stairs. The long, straight flights of stairs in late-nineteenth-century industrial buildings that formed a “tectonic loft vocabulary” within the cultural syntax of New York. The elegant double staircases in the Château de Blois. The capacious stairs in the MIT dorm designed by Alvar Aalto, made wide so students would stop to talk to each other. Long before Prada stores and tech and other “creative” offices sprouted them, Michael had already taken the measure of a staircase’s possibilities. “Architecture,” Michael drops into his conversation with the reader, “is produced at the intersection of art and property.” He exhumes the grid plan from its origins in the fifth century BC and relates it to the well-known scheme for laying out potential profit-bearing plots of land throughout Manhattan. Adopted in 1811, the grid not only set New York’s major money machine in motion but also set the course for its buildings, their heights and morphologies, and, yes, the stairs inside them. Which naturally makes him consider the pitch of the treads at the pyramids in Chichen Itza, only to return, once more, to his New York brownstone. This is—was—typical of Michael in writing as in casual conversation: erudition wrapped in humor that didn’t allow pomposity. Like Jane Jacobs, whom he greatly admired, and in whose honor he founded a lecture series at the Spitzer School of Architecture, he was a citizen of both the Village and the world. Like Jacobs, too, he saw the world in the city—but he also saw the city in the world. Michael traveled constantly, giving lectures, pitching projects, taking his students on field trips to South Africa one year and to Cuba another. During his career, he wrote about many different cities. Wherever a community of architects, activists, and urban designers protested a plan, or struggled to turn back an egregious intrusion of monumentalism into a skyline or streetscape, Michael was there. You could count on him to fire broadsides, mobilize the troops, and persuade strangers to join him. A few years ago, he persuaded me and others to write a short essay for a collective book he was putting together with people in Helsinki. This group strongly opposed the city government’s plan to contract with the Guggenheim Museum, then still in its expansionist phase, to build an expensive branch on a stretch of waterfront better left for public use. With these collaborators, Michael organized an anti-competition for design ideas and made us scholars into a jury. This mobilization, echoed by the popular opposition within Helsinki, helped to sink the Guggenheim plan. (Or, at least, it forced the city council to reveal its lack of funds.) The last time I saw Michael, one month before he died, he asked me to come by his office. We talked about a Hungarian artist’s book project on luxury apartments for which we were both writing essays, dished some dirt about various cultural figures on the South Side of Chicago, and looked at the old photographs of Michael’s family on his shelves. We laughed about the double portrait of Joan and himself in front of the Taj Mahal that he had painted in Vietnam; Joan, considering it trashy, would not allow it in their home. Michael asked if I could recommend someone who could write about race and class in the neighborhoods near the University of Chicago for a book he was planning for his publishing house UR, and then asked if I would write something for yet another book he was planning, on smart cities. Although he was not in the best of health, a frailty that the virus would exploit, he still pushed forward.  He was only prevented from taking another trip—to Africa—by the emerging blockade of travel restrictions. My last email from Michael came one week later. He heard me talking about my new book on the radio and immediately sent me fan mail. This, too, was Michael: he acted on friendship. Almost twenty years ago, he and I edited a book of essays by New York urbanists where we tried to put together our abundant sorrows and critical thoughts about the World Trade Center. The words Michael wrote about the fallen Twin Towers surely apply to him. He was, in all respects, “the Everest of our urban Himalayas.”
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Glaze Waves

Elkus Manfredi Architects’ Pier 4 joins Boston’s Seaport with undulating massing
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Boston’s Seaport District is no stranger to development; the 23-acre site lies east of the Fort Point Channel on the Inner Harbor, and over the last two decades has transformed from a largely barren deindustrialized waterfront to an effective extension of the city's core. Pier 4, a 400,000-square-foot mixed-use project designed by local firm Elkus Manfredi Architects, is an exemplar of this trend and proposes an alternative to boxy glassed massing with staggered floors and eye-catching soffits of aluminum composite panels. The project is located immediately adjacent to the HarborWalk and the Institute of Contemporary Art and is prominent from both an urban and visual standpoint. Considering its location, the city dictated that the bulk of the building’s ground floor be dedicated for public use—the lobby can be passed through by pedestrians and features a range of retail spaces. In keeping with the project's public-facing manifesto, the primary entrance, in a particular flourish, is surrounded by a prismatic display of polished and reflective aluminum. From this base, the tower rises to a height of 13 stories.
  • Facade Manufacturer AGC Interpane Alucobond Ferguson Neudorf Glass
  • Architect Elkus Manfredi Architects
  • Facade Installer Ferguson Neudorf Glass Turner Construction (general contractor)
  • Facade Consultant Heintges
  • Location Boston
  • Date of Completion 2019
  • System Custom unitized curtain wall system
  • Products AGC Interpane Ipasol Platin 52/36 Alucobond aluminum composite panels
For the design team, there were two primary views that dictated the tower's massing; that towards downtown Boston and the other facing the harbor. “The west facade, facing downtown Boston, has a more subdued gesture with a trapezoidal cut-out terrace,” said Elkus Manfredi Architects vice president Christian Galvao. “The east facade, facing Boston Harbor, has two-story undulating triangular moves that shift and slide between each other, creating a constant movement that changes throughout the day.” Clad in high-end solar control 1 1/4" insulated glass units produced by AGC Interpane, the project follows the standard erection and installation techniques of a unitized system. Each floor-to-floor unitized panel measure 5' by 12'8" and are divided by mullions and horizontal ‘kiss mullions’ at the slab edge. Ferguson Neudorf Glass handled the installation and fabrication of the facade, including the 1/8" thick aluminum composite plates found at the soffit of each floor plate which are held by a custom-designed system of cantilevered beams. According to Elkus Manfredi Architects, one of the greatest challenges of the project was ensuring its timely and seamless construction and completion. “The unitized curtain wall system could have no major delays during the erection of the pre-fabricated glazing panels and in-field waterproofing installations,” continued Christian Galvao. “The amount of detailing in the advance construction documents, shop drawing reviews, and performance mock-up testing were crucial to its success.”  
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Singapore Slopes

Kengo Kuma & Associates chosen to design Founders’ Memorial in Singapore
A competition to design the Founders’ Memorial, a multi-acre gallery and garden complex commemorating Singapore’s path to independence and historic accomplishments in its nation-building process, first launched in January 2019 and received 193 submissions from around the world. This month, the Jury Panel of the Founders’ Memorial Committee unanimously selected the design proposed by Japanese firm Kengo Kuma & Associates, in collaboration with Singapore-based firm K2LD Architects. “The winning design is sensitive and functional,” said Lee Tzu Yang, chairman of the Founders’ Memorial Committee, in a press release, “and embodies the spirit and values of Singapore’s founding team of leaders. It is a unique design, incorporating landscape and architecture, that brings visitors on a journey of discovery.” The jury also felt that the design meaningfully connected the site to public transportation nodes and other sites of local significance. The memorial’s organic rooflines will intentionally frame Bay East Garden, an adjacent waterfront whose pavilions and green spaces have quickly become a point of civic pride. The design team sought to emphasize Singapore’s global standing as a "City in a Garden" by creating a grouping of buildings that appears to rise from the landscape. In the process, they created a memorial that would allow for future growth. “Our design concept for the Founders’ Memorial originates from the idea of a path—a journey tracing the legacy of Singapore’s founding leaders,” said Kengo Kuma in a statement. “It simultaneously honors the past, and inspires the present and future. The design aims to be a ‘living memorial’, to be owned by each new generation of Singaporeans. There will be ample spaces for the celebration of milestone events, all set against the changing skyline of Singapore.” Renderings show amphitheater spaces, landscaped rooftops, large shaded areas, and other open facilities intended to benefit the public.  Now in its second stage of development, the Founders’ Memorial will be reviewed and modified in a series of community workshops, through which a more refined set of programs can be established. Construction is expected to begin in 2022 and be completed by 2027.
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Northern (de)lights

Henning Larsen unveils seaside museum in Norway’s northernmost reaches
Copenhagen-based Henning Larsen, experts in sustainable and site-specific modern Scandinavian architecture, has released plans for a luminous waterfront museum in Tromsø, Norway. Among the top design considerations Henning Larsen faced when conceiving the Arctic Museum of Norway in the surprisingly mild city of Tromsø—the third largest city located north of the Arctic Circle—were: Seamlessly integrating the structure into the rugged surrounding landscape, respecting and reflecting the rich local cultural heritage, and artfully displaying the skeleton of a very large blue whale. Suspended from the ceiling of the site's largest exhibition hall, said whale skeleton will be the main, impossible-to-miss archaeological attraction at the Arctic Museum of Norway. The breadth of the museum’s collection, however, will be quite extensive, as it combines Tromsø University’s cultural artifacts and natural history archives. Both of these collections are currently held separately in different buildings and have outgrown them. The museum is expected to be one of the largest cultural institutions north of the Arctic Circle when it opens. (Construction is expected to commence in 2023.) As a press release explains, the new museum, located a short walk  from the city center down a sloping hill, will “be an anchorpoint in a new cultural path in Tromsø.” This “cultural path” will dead-end at the harbor-hugging museum in an attempt to reactivate Tromsø’s scenic but largely overlooked waterfront. “Despite being such a visible presence in the city, Tromsø’s waterfront is largely absent from the public realm,” said Henning Larsen partner Peer Teglgaard Jeppesen in a statement. “The museum, with its focus on the natural and cultural history of Norway’s northernmost areas including the Arctic, and its cascading site, makes a first move back down to its shores to celebrate the region's history.” Similar to other Henning Larsen projects, the Arctic Museum of Norway will be hyper site-sensitive. Wedged into a rolling hillside just above the shoreline, the museum will be composed of a quartet of freestanding but snugly situated slate-base buildings, each topped with “translucent masses whose facades are composed of cassette-like modules that can be individually maintained and replaced.” “Opaque and milky in the daylight, they transform into a cluster of glowing beacons on the waterfront at night,” wrote Henning Larsen. “These delicate, glowing masses atop the slate base reference the indigenous Saami’s lávvu homes, whose canvas walls radiate light on the frozen winter earth.” According to the firm, the “landscape is not just part of the site but part of the exhibitions” and doubles as a highly publicly accessible gathering spot, where various features, including a tiered seating area directly adjacent to a small beach and promenade, invite locals and visitors alike to relax and socialize. “The landscape will be open to visitors and maintained throughout the year, offering a calendric view of the area’s natural heritage. Connection to the landscape, both in geography and in flora, is at the backbone of the design, with outdoor paths doubling as botanical passages and courtyards serving as pocket parks. The parkland around the site offers space for experimentation, study, and discovery and acts as public demonstration for the expertise housed within the museum itself.” Henning Larsen has designed numerous cultural institutions and museums across Scandinavia including the Moesgaard Museum in Aarhus, Denmark. This, however, is the firm’s first project of any kind in Tromsø.