The Greenpoint Landing megaproject in Brooklyn has gained a duo of interlocking rental towers courtesy of OMA. The ten-tower mixed-use development will ultimately bring 5,500 rental units to Greenpoint.
Developer Brookfield Properties, who are bringing four towers to the development, and Park Tower Group have revealed the newest additions to the site, two leaning towers joined by a seven-story base. Other than the 745 rental units across both towers, 30 percent of which will be affordable, the project will expand the waterfront esplanade around the site by 2.5 linear acres. Other than the 768,000 square feet of residential space, the podium will also add 8,600-square-feet of ground-floor retail.
The two towers will, as has become fashionable across the river in Manhattan, twist, turn, and part in the middle to reveal a wider view of the cityscape to the west. While the 300-foot-tall north tower will narrow as it rises thanks to a series of setbacks-turned-terraces, the 400-foot-tall southern tower will resemble a flipped version of its neighbor thanks to a series of cantilevers.
“Brookfield and Park Tower Group have been working together to connect Greenpoint with its waterfront,” said OMA partner and project lead Jason Long, “and we are thrilled to be collaborating with them on our first project in Brooklyn. We have designed two towers—a ziggurat and its inverse—carefully calibrated to one another. Defined by the space between them, they frame a new view of Greenpoint and new vista from the neighborhood to Manhattan.”
Both towers will feature large windows and a facade of precast concrete carved with “slices” that alternate direction as each major section changes. The direction of the carvings are aligned with the sun’s relative position in the sky, ensuring that the light is dispersed over the building dynamically throughout the day.
James Corner Field Operations will be designing the new waterfront landscape areas, while Beyer Blinder Belle will serve as the project’s executive architect. Los Angeles’s Marmol Radziner will be handling the buildings’ interiors. Construction on the project is expected to kick off in August of this year.
Bjarke Ingels has gone back to the drawing board and released a revised version of the Oakland Athletics’ potential new home stadium. The new renderings come three weeks after plans surfaced for an aerial gondola that would link the waterfront ballpark at Howard Terminal to the larger Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system.
Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) is working with executive architect Gensler and landscape architect James Corner Field Operations for the site’s green spaces. Rather than a walled-off compound, BIG has envisioned a public-facing, mixed-use “ballpark district” in the vein of Boston’s Fenway Center, or Colorado’s Coors Field–adjacent West Lot. The scheme is projected to bring housing, a business campus, retail, and recreational areas to the waterfront site.
The original scheme that BIG unveiled for the stadium last November was centered around a square ballpark topped with an occupiable green “ring” roof. Triangular housing clusters reminiscent of the firm’s Via 57 West would have been positioned at the stadium’s corners, and, judging from the renderings, a playground would have been located en route to the ballpark’s entrance.
The diamond-shaped plan received mixed reviews from the public and elected officials. In an open letter sent out Monday, the A’s president Dave Kaval laid out the benefits of the new, softer scheme. Namely, BIG has opened up views of the nearby waterfront while creating a “softer” approach to the stadium.
The surrounding towers, some of them up to 20 stories tall, have been reconfigured into more of a “stadium seating” arrangement and would slope down to face both the ballpark and the adjacent waterfront. Though the shape has changed, the airy, striated facade of the 34,000-seat stadium will remain.
As part of the A’s initiative to build on the site, the team has partnered with the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, a local environmental justice group, and will be presenting the West Oakland Environmental Justice bill to the state legislature. Howard Terminal, the location of the potential stadium, is currently a brownfield site with an industrial past, and soil and groundwater remediation will need to be completed before the A’s can break ground.
The team is aiming to begin construction in 2021 and open the park by 2024 but is still working to purchase the site from Alameda County and the city of Oakland.
The San Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAF) has announced the lineup for its annual Open House San Diego (OHSD), an architecture and urban design extravaganza scheduled to take place March 23 and 24.
The free festival will open up over 100 architecturally-significant locations across San Diego for building and history enthusiasts to explore. The list of buildings includes some of the city’s newest architectural works as well as several of its most historic sites, including Balboa Park, Barrio Logan, and some in the city’s bustling downtown area. This year, the event will spread to the northern suburb of La Jolla, home to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and many historic works by Irving Gill, among others.
In a press release, OHSD founder Susanne Friestedt said, “We expect thousands of San Diegans and out of town visitors, including families and architecture and design students interested in learning about the design, history, and development of our city.” She added, “Last year, more than 7,500 visits were tallied at 83 sites. This year we anticipate at least 10,000 site visit visits. 350 trained volunteers will be on hand to assist visitors.”
One highlight in the lineup includes the recently-completed Block D Makers Quarter, a six-story creative office hub designed by BNIM that strives for high-impact sustainability. The LEED Platinum and net-zero structure is wrapped in louvered shades and will anchor a new creative quarter in downtown San Diego.Miller Hull’s The Wharf at Point Loma, America’s Cup Harbor project, a finger-like arrangement of shops and public spaces, will also open to the public. With the structure, the architects have brought a commercial and social node to San Diego’s waterfront area.
Other sites include the Salk Institute by Louis Kahn in La Jolla, the Atmosphere apartments in Downtown San Diego designed by Joseph Wong Design Associates, and the Jacobs Music Center designed by Gensler.
See the OHSD website for more information and a full list of participating sites.
U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey has ruled that a lawsuit against Chicago’s proposed Obama Presidential Center (OPC) can proceed, potentially delaying construction by months or even years.
The OPC campus is looking to carve out 19.3 acres from the historic Olmsted and Vaux–designed Jackson Park on Chicago’s South Side. Despite being approved by the Chicago City Council in May of last year, the $500 million project has been held up by a still-pending federal review process and work stoppages at adjacent sites in the park.
Construction on the Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and Interactive Design–planned campus was expected to begin sometime this year, but it seems that community concerns may shake up that timeline. A lawsuit filed against Chicago and the Chicago Park District by the environmental group Protect Our Parks and three others argues that the Obama Foundation’s intrusion into the park, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is illegal. That’s in part because the Center won’t actually be a presidential library.
Instead, the campus will contain a squat, stone-clad museum tower, training center, parking garage, and community hub, as well as a 5,000-square-foot Chicago Public Library offshoot, with President Obama’s archives stored offsite and digitized. That distinction is important, as the OPC will be a privately-run institution instead of a government project and Protect Our Parks has argued that this should invalidate the land transfer from the city to the Obama Foundation. The group isn’t against the construction of the center but would prefer that it be moved somewhere else on the South Side if possible.
The spat is reminiscent of George Lucas’s battle with the public space advocacy group Friends of the Parks in 2016. After a similar lawsuit over the Museum of Narrative Arts and its place on the Lake Michigan waterfront was allowed to proceed, Lucas instead canceled development and shipped the spaceship-like museum out to Los Angeles. Supporters of the OPC have expressed fear that the Obama Foundation may change its plans and leave Chicago if the project is allowed to languish.
“The Obama Foundation and the University of Chicago created this controversy by insisting on the confiscation of public parkland,” said president and CEO of the Cultural Landscape Foundation Charles A. Birnbaum in a statement. “The Obama Foundation could make this issue go away by using vacant and/or city-owned land on the South Side for the Obama Presidential Center (which is planned to be a private facility rather than a presidential library administered by the National Archives), or, better still, land owned by the University of Chicago, which submitted the winning bid to host the Center.”
The OPC was originally expected to open in 2021, but it remains to be seen whether the project will go ahead as planned. Although Protect Our Parks was victorious, Judge Blakey’s ruling only affirms the group’s right to sue, not that their argument is correct.
Texas is adding more people per year than any other state in the country, and with nearly 8 million residents, the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area is the largest urban area in the state. On March 1, The Architect's Newspaper is bringing together architecture and development firms located within the metropolitan area for Facades+ Dallas, a fast-paced dialogue focusing on the region's tremendous growth and the projects reshaping it. Participants include 5G Studio Collaborative, CallisonRTKL, Harwood International, Merriman Anderson Architects, the CDC, L.A. Fuess Partners, Ibanez Shaw, Omniplan, DSGN Associates, Buchanan Architecture, Shipley Architects, Urban Edge Developers.
Lauren Cadieux, associate at 5G Studio Collaborative, and Michael Friebele, associate at CallisonRTKL, are co-chairing the conference.
In the lead up to Facades+ Dallas, AN sat down with Friebele to discuss trends within Dallas and CallisonRTKL's ongoing projects in the area and across the world.
The Architect's Newspaper: To begin with, what facade-led projects are CallisonRTKL up to in Dallas and Texas as a whole?Michael Friebele: We are an interesting office in that we have a long-standing local reach here in Dallas-Fort Worth but also a broad depth of work around the globe. We often find it most interesting for us to take the international experience and find ways to apply those lessons throughout our work back home and likewise in the other direction. The collaboration between offices across CallisonRTKL really makes this possible.
From a conceptual standpoint, our work on a vertical campus in Downtown Dallas took cues from many lessons we have learned abroad, from site response to contextual integration, and paired these attributes with an evolving corporate business model. Ultimately, the concept was shaped around an affordable housing project just to the east of the site, maintaining a view corridor through the gesture of a loop that ultimately became a symbol for the company’s programmatic model. It is one in a line of projects coming up in Texas that we are excited about.
From a facade standpoint, our hospitality group is working on a Grand Hyatt Hotel in Kuwait that is currently under construction. The facade concept of self-shading finds a balance between the harsh climate of the region and the demand for expansive views. The pitch results in the natural placement of photovoltaics with the underside of the bay providing a highly transparent opening with minimal direct solar heat gain. The same team recently completed the core and shell of the Maike Business Center and Grand Hyatt in Xi’an. Here, two towers were linked by a belt truss to limit lateral loads while serving as a critical program link between the hotel and office towers. The facade was a simple extruded, serrated form linked in the middle by a vertical screen that emphasizes the composition.
I am working currently on the design of two China-based projects with quite a range of scale between them. OCT Chengdu is on the larger side with a dominant facade facing a key convergence of traffic in the city. The facade plays into that movement with a series of fins that peel upward to reveal the activity of the mall behind, thus activating what is traditionally a hard face. We have been working further to optimize this system. This project is currently under construction and should be complete in a few years. On the other side of scale, we recently began work on an Audubon Center in Zhengzhou. The concept is about tying program and landscape together underneath an observation ring. We have been working with Thornton Tomasetti on realizing the ring as a completely unsupported element over the waterfront with full height curved glazing that reveals the public behind, as if the visitor were a part of the facade experience. The Zhengzhou project will start in construction in a few months and be complete by the middle of next year.
AN: What unique opportunities and challenges are present for architects and designers in Dallas?
In my opinion, the potential in Dallas is to be proactive rather than reactive toward challenging and evolving typologies but with that comes a certain degree of investment and risk. We can take lessons from two organizations that I believe have had the most impact upon the city in BC Workshop and Better Block. Both groups have been recognized for their innovative approaches to typologies and community engagement. The Cottages at Hickory Crossing is a noted example on the city’s south side.
An engagement of our value as architects and designers to all parties involved in a project, from developer to community, is key, but change will also depend upon us stepping out and trying something without permission. As Dallas further evolves, there is no better place to test and experiment, but we have yet to really commit to that, beyond few examples. In all, it is really getting back to our fundamentals of why we practice this profession and to search for its meaning once again.
AN: Which ongoing Dallas developments do you perceive to be the most exciting in terms of facade innovation and overall impact on the city?
MF: There have been some noted transformations in Downtown Dallas, from work by Architexas on the Joule Hotel, to Merriman Anderson’s work on the Statler Hilton, all the way to more recent conversions of 400 Record by Gensler. Each of these, among others, have defined in many respects the process of historical rehabilitation in Texas, but also have transformed the program in all cases. Almost overnight, there is a developed rhythm toward respecting the past and redefining the urban realm. The Statler and 1401 Elm represent the largest and most challenging cases of preservation in the city. Statler was many years in the making. Historical innovations during the 1950s proved quite challenging in the rehab of the building. The results of maintaining such a celebrated form and period in the rehab are nothing short of a feat. 1401 Elm is currently undergoing its makeover, with the marble currently off-site for rehab. It has stalled a few times during recent years but hopefully, it will become a major contributor once again.
Both projects are a glimpse into a city that is continually working to value its history more and more by the day. With our first panel, we hope to shed further light on this discussion.
Further information regarding Facades+ Dallas may be found here.
Throughout history, many great works of architecture both large and small have been made possible only through incredible feats of engineering and construction. In today’s world—where office and residential towers reach ever-increasing heights, new cities appear in an instant, and stringent safety and structural requirements make building arduous and time-consuming—architects must draw on their experience and know-how to bring innovative new projects to life.
Three recent projects by American architecture firms highlight the lengths designers can go (and heights they can achieve) in pursuit of great design.
Seattle Space NeedleOlson Kundig
The Space Needle in Seattle is a superlative building through and through. Built in 1962, the flying saucer-shaped observation tower was recently renovated by Olson Kundig and a daring team of contractors and engineers, including Hoffman Construction, Arup, Fives Lund, and Magnusson Klemencic Associates.
To achieve their goal of modernizing the structure, the project team had to work delicately to make sure the weight of added and subtracted materials balanced out, while also ensuring that the majority of the new components could be transported up the needle’s two passenger elevators. Beyond these exacting specifications, crews also dealt with a job site located some 500 feet up in the air as they worked to install new panes of glass around the Space Needle’s flying saucer-shaped Top House.
For the project, Hoffman and associated contractors erected a giant covered platform directly underneath the Top House to stage construction activities. The massive structure was lifted into the sky and built out from key hoist points, according to Bob Vincent, project manager at Hoffman. The platform, designed to function more or less like an oil rig deck, was used to stage construction so that workers could access the Space Needle’s Top House from below. The stage created something akin to a massive cocoon around the base of the Top House, and its associated enclosure kept workers protected from the elements.
Vincent said, “With the full enclosure, the workers weren’t freezing and materials didn’t fly around too much. It kept wind and elements out, too. When we were done with the project, we dismantled the ring by bringing in all the components from the edges toward the middle.”
Embassy in Chad
Moore Ruble Yudell Architects
A new American embassy campus in N’Djamena, Chad, by Santa Monica, California–based Moore Ruble Yudell (MRY) posed a different set of construction and site limitations.
Located in a remote region of the country with a small pool of skilled labor, it fell on the design team to create a state-of-the-art building that could be constructed using locally available materials and building techniques. The approach for the technically complex and decidedly low-tech project was to blend simple finishes and off-the-shelf components with the aim of creating lively but humble buildings.
The complex was erected using site-poured concrete walls and modular roof pieces, elements that helped meet the strict security and functional requirements for the embassy. The cementitious walls were then wrapped in exterior rainscreen paneling made up of thin-shell concrete and metal latticework. The lightweight panels, available in standard sizes that could be shipped easily to the site, were chosen to add color and patterning to the pragmatic buildings. In certain areas, including between the main lobby and the cafe, lightweight canopies were strung to create shaded outdoor areas and to collect rainwater. A new, centralized energy plant connected to solar panel arrays was also included in the off-the-grid project.
Mark English Architects
While working on extensive renovations to an existing five-story cliffside home in the San Francisco Bay, Mark English Architects (MEA) was only able to deliver construction materials and remove debris via floating barge.
With the closest road nearly 200 feet away from the waterfront home and accessible only by steep stairs and a cable car funicular, the design and construction team had to rent several barges to undertake the project.
Located on the bayside face of Sausalito, MEA’s Alexander Residence is conceived of as a getaway spot for a client with an extensive art and furniture collection. For the renovation, MEA and GFDS Engineers worked to open up the 1970s-era home by removing some of the unnecessary interior partitions that marked its original pinwheel design. Along the lowest level, for example, facing the house’s private dock, a closed-off bedroom and living area were combined to create a studio apartment. Farther up, a home office, living room, and kitchen were united to form a great room–style arrangement with an elevated dining room, pass-through kitchen, and living area oriented around multimillion-dollar views of downtown San Francisco, Angel Island, and Alcatraz.
“We rebuilt the house from inside out,” principal Mark English explained. “Everything we demoed, including the roofing, old doors and windows, and drywall, had to go out through the dock by barge.” The same was true for all of the replacement materials coming in, including new lengths of structural steel that were added for seismic resiliency and to transfer loads over some of the new window openings. For these elements, the contractors added a crane to the barge that was then used to lift the steel beams into place.
English added, “We talked to two or three builders before settling on Landmark Builders. The others would inevitably bring up how difficult and expensive it would be to do this project. Luckily, we eventually found someone who thought it would be interesting to take on this out-of-the-ordinary project.”
Italian architect, designer, and two-time editor-in-chief of Domus Alessandro Mendini has passed away at the age of 87.
Mendini was born in Milan in 1931 and was a key figure in the resurgence of Italian design after World War II. Mendini founded Atelier Mendini in 1987 with his brother and collaborator Francesco, and they achieved international acclaim for their work with Swatch, Cartier, and other companies.
Known as a sculptor, painter, architect, journalist, and designer of furniture, products, and interiors, Mendini was lauded for his playful use of color and sense of proportion. His talent eventually led to collaborations with both domestic Italian designers and large multinational firms, such as Supreme in 2016. Mendini was awarded the European Prize for Architecture in 2014, as well as the 2003 Medaglia d’Oro all’Architettura Italiana and the 2006 Villegiature Award.
Mendini’s interests extended to architecture as well, and as Domus noted in his biography, he “designed the Groninger Museum (1988-1994, 2010) the Alessi factories and the Omegna Museum-Forum (1996), the Teatrino della Bicchieraia in Arezzo (1998), the urban regeneration of the Maghetti district in Lugano (1998), the renovation of the Termini Station in Rome (1999), the restoration of the Villa Comunale (1999) and three stations in the Naples underground network (2000), as well as the new exhibition space and the new branch of the Milan Triennale in Incheon, South Korea (2008-2009).”
Toronto’s interconnected “smart neighborhood” is inching ever closer to reality. Sidewalk Labs has released a batch of new renderings from Snøhetta and Heatherwick Studio, as well as documents detailing how the company plans to pay for the ground-up development.
Sidewalk Labs’ Quayside waterfront Toronto neighborhood is being touted as a smart, interconnected, “100 percent timber” development. In a February 14 Medium post, the company released a progress report detailing its progress before the finalization of its draft Master Innovation and Development Plan.
One proposal that’s drawing flak is an arrangement where Sidewalk Labs would build infrastructure such as light rail on the site in exchange for a share of the revenue generated by increased property values—diverting tax revenue from public coffers. Sidewalk Labs claims the arrangement would allow the neighborhood to rise “years, if not decades, sooner than it would otherwise. This would unlock the potential of the Eastern Waterfront, and the jobs, housing, and economic growth that will come with it.”
The company also clarified how many units of housing it would be building in the neighborhood, which would contain 12 mass timber towers. The project will adhere to the site’s existing zoning and will be 90 percent residential. That means 2,500 units total, 1,000 of which would be rented at below-market rates, and 50 percent of which would be “purpose-built rental apartments.” Half of the below-market housing would be affordable (and a quarter of that marked as “deeply affordable”) and the other half would be designated for middle-income earners.
To meet the high demand for timber that the 12-acre project requires, Sidewalk Labs has announced that they would build a tall-timber factory in Ontario, which would supply up to 4,000 new jobs.
Google’s 600,000-to-one-million-square-foot Canadian headquarters could also be in the making on the western side of Villiers Island along the planned light rail loop. Retail, an educational component, and amenities are likely headed to the campus as well.
The neighborhood will also become a testbed for innovative urban technologies. Other than the weather-responsive “skirts” deployed at the open-air bases of each building, the entire project will be networked with high-speed Wi-Fi. A civic data trust would be responsible for removing identifying markers from any information gathered and aggregating it.
On the design side, Michael Green Architecture has developed a mass timber kit-of-parts, and Snøhetta and Heatherwick Studio have designed building concepts for the campus, innovation zone, common areas, and other spaces. Of note are the “scalloped” balconies found throughout the residential developments and post-and-beam styled open-air “stoas” at the base of each tower. The design will continue to change as Sidewalk Labs solicits feedback from stakeholders, the Canadian and provincial government, and Alphabet, Sidewalk Labs' parent company.
The entire presentation can be viewed here.
New York’s Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX) is still alive and inching toward realization. Today the de Blasio administration awarded a $7.25 million contract to national land-use and transportation planning consultants VHB to oversee the waterfront streetcar project’s Environmental Impact Study (EIS).
Questions over the $2.7 billion streetcar route’s feasibility have plagued the light rail project since the beginning. Officials still haven't released the exact route or said how the city would recoup the money needed for construction. Last August, Mayor de Blasio admitted that at least $1 billion would be needed from the federal government and that using the “value-capture” model (collecting increased tax revenue as the BQX boosted property values along its route) wasn’t wholly feasible. The route was shortened to 26 stops along 11 miles, from Astoria in Queens to Gowanus in Brooklyn, cutting out Sunset Park farther south, and the opening date got pushed back from 2024 to 2029.
All had gone quiet since then, but speculation flared that Amazon could potentially chip in for the system after the tech giant announced that it would be building a second headquarters in Long Island City. That seems to have been confirmed by Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, who pointed to the boom in investment along the Queens-Brooklyn waterfront as proof that new modes of public transport across the two boroughs were needed. The city expects that the BQX will accommodate 50,000 daily riders when it first opens and 60,000-to-90,000 riders by 2050.
”For some reason, everybody thinks we are not serious but we have always been serious,” Glen told the Wall Street Journal. “The mayor wouldn’t have re-endorsed and announced we were moving forward if we weren’t moving forward.”
The nonprofit group Friends of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector lauded the contract award as well, calling it a clear commitment on the part of the de Blasio administration to moving the project through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).
With the EIS on track for completion in 2020, the BQX project will move to the next stage of the ULURP by the end of 2021. The city hopes that the project will begin construction by 2024.
OLINhas been tapped to design a 400-acre park along the northern shore of the Ohio River in southern Indiana. Set within a swath of waterfront long-occupied by landfill and industrial facilities, the future park will give local residents a much-needed connection with the river and its history, while boosting the area’s link to Louisville, Kentucky.Though no design details have been released yet, OLIN partner Lucinda Sanders said the plan, spearheaded by the River Heritage Conservancy, will tie into both sides of the Ohio River. In doing this, the park will serve 1.2 million residents within a 30-mile radius, including those living in the adjacent Indiana towns of Jeffersonville, Clarksville, and New Albany.A slew of brownfield sites, landfills, wetlands, and river camps currently encompass the massive parcel of land, which also sits within a FEMA 100-year floodplain and is bounded by a large levee that was built after a devastating flood in 1937. Sanders said OLIN will pay homage to the river and the site’s complex past. “We have a lot to work with here,” she said. “This park is already a 21st-century park in every way, shape, and form due to the conditions that are presently there.”After investigating the entirety of the site, the design team will intervene with a major remediation effort and then integrate a landscape design that will call attention to its unique context, while also acting as a buffer against future flooding. In a statement, Sanders said the park won’t be “just a public amenity, but...a purveyor of resilience. The mighty Ohio River creates the awe of this site. But it also has to be given the respect it deserves.”“You’ve got this amazing quantity of land situated within an urban environment that’s also lying in a severe flood zone,” Sanders told AN. “The fact that it’s also been so highly manipulated through the abuses of human activity, and that it contains a rich history for the region make it incredibly compelling.” When complete, the parkland will tie residents to one another and to the abundant natural and historical resources that populate the region. It will sit downstream from the Falls of the Ohio State Park and the original home of George Rogers Clark, a Revolutionary War hero. It will also be a key element of the new Ohio River Greenway, a seven-mile linear park that’s currently under construction. On a larger scale, the parkland will connect southern Indiana with the Louisville region’s vast park system, much of which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. OLIN’s design will link people to the Big Four Bridge, an old railroad truss bridge that reopened to the public as a pedestrian and bicycle throughway in 2013, and allow them to cross over into the River City. According to Sanders, OLIN is eager to dive head-on into the challenging project thanks to such widespread local support.“This community knows great parks, and they know great design,” she said. “We see a tremendous ambition in the expansion of this regional park network and are excited by the possibilities.” OLIN hopes to unveil ideas for the site after conducting a thorough analysis with local collaborators over the next nine months.