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A Prescription for Place
Herlev Hospital in Denmark by Henning Larsen.
Courtesy Henning Larsen Architects

In the early part of the 20th century, design for illness was a grim affair. Driven by the dread of infectious disease—especially tuberculosis and other contagions found in dense, dank cities—doctors and architects turned to the transparent, hygienic values associated with modernism. Cures included moving patients to specialized, isolated environments with unornamented white or glass walls and ample sunlight that were elevated on pilotis and off the unsanitary earth.

Today, we talk about design for health, not illness. Rather than segregate the ill from the well, design strategies now aim to make environments conducive to healthier habits. Contemporary healthcare institutions—recognizing that waiting until acute diseases need high-tech attention is an inefficient form of care—are reaching further into public space and emphasizing prevention, nutrition, primary care, and triage. This more porous relationship between healthcare and communities comes with design implications at the civic, neighborhood, and residential scale. It even affects the personal level, as home care, smartphone health-monitoring apps like the FitBit, and telemedicine reflect and amplify two intertwined trends: the medicalization of everyday life and the deinstitutionalization of medicine.

Herlev Hospital in Denmark by Henning Larsen employs circular plans to organize the hospital as a “small city.”
Courtesy Henning Larsen Architects
 

Health at City Scale

In 2010, New York City’s Active Design Guidelines codified what many architects, planners, and public health officials already knew: that built environments could exert pathogenic effects—circulation patterns encouraging sedentariness and elevator overuse, poor lighting and air quality, food deserts, and streets subordinating self-powered movement to motorism. The Active Design Guidelines, however, recognized the need for a different approach and set forth a design philosophy in which existing environments could be redesigned as salutogenic, incorporating exercise and healthier nutrition into spaces and daily routines. From low-hanging fruit like stair prompts and wayfinding signage to the more complex redesign of streetscapes, office buildings, affordable-housing complexes, and entire communities, Active Design has become a globally recognized movement over the ten years of its Fit City/Fit Nation/Fit World conference series, yielding seven supplements to the original Guidelines and assuming institutional form with the 2013 founding of the Center for Active Design.

Some healthcare organizations have long promoted community health alongside hospital-centered interventions: Kaiser Permanente, for example, launched the first of its hospital-based farmers’ markets in Oakland in 2003, anticipating public programs like the New York City Department of Health’s Stellar Farmers’ Markets and Health Bucks coupon program. Civic-scale changes, from smoking bans to pedestrian-friendly street designs such as the wide medians and car-free plazas that began appearing under Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, transform public spaces so that healthy choices become intuitive norms, not exceptions.

Herlev Hospital in Denmark by Henning Larsen.
Courtesy Henning Larsen Architects
 

“At their heart the Design Guidelines are built around the idea that we need to get out of the clinic or the hospital setting as the only place that influences health,” said California-based designer and scholar Elizabeth Ogbu. “I’m seeing shades of this all around the country.” Ogbu, a veteran of Public Architecture and IDEO.org, is now founder and principal of Studio O and teaches at Stanford and UC Berkeley. Her aim is to use the power of design to defend principally underserved communities and try to deliver social impact. In London, Nairobi, New Orleans, San Francisco, and elsewhere, her work integrates healthcare and health education into projects that combine spatial and programmatic design, an approach she calls “architecture plus,”and added that “rarely is it about just the object of the building itself.”

Ogbu’s ReFresh project—which opened in New Orleans in October and is spearheaded by Broad Community Connections—is an adaptive reuse of a long-defunct grocery store along a major mid-city thoroughfare. A Whole Foods serves as the anchor tenant for the multifunctional health hub, along with eight other partners onsite, including a community teaching farm, a Boystown center, the nonprofit cafe and youth training program Liberty’s Kitchen, and Tulane University’s Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine.

According to Ogbu, health starts in the ReFresh lobby where there’s a station for health education, staffed by 50 percent neighborhood residents, who serve as greeters, information providers, and shopper guides. A trip for groceries might also include financial-management advice and other services. “The beauty of co-location,” she added, “is that here’s a partner you can potentially work [with] so that Boystown may be identifying at-risk kids during its program but can then plug in Liberty’s Kitchen, and those kids could also be bringing in their parents to take classes at Tulane’s community kitchen.”

Ogbu believes this “Trojan horse” works where more direct approaches fail. “Our clients can do a good job of anticipating the needs, but they don’t always have a full understanding of desires,” she said. “The desire is actually the thing that is emotional and that actually binds people to a place and creates behavior change.”

In Ft. Oglethorpe, GA, Francis Cauffman designed these detached, house-like units to give residents a community that is intended to be more like home.
Courtesy Francis Cauffman
 

Local Connections and Flexibility

“A more diffuse, integrated, and almost retail approach to healthcare is becoming much more prevalent,” observed James Crispino, president and design principal at healthcare specialist firm Francis Cauffman. “The institutions are starting to realize that isolating themselves in these campuses and enclaves makes them a little difficult to access.”

Bottom-up attention to individual experience can also reconfigure dedicated medical institutions. Long wait times in hospital emergency departments (EDs) are one indicator that medical needs and resources are often misaligned, and not solely because of the health insurance system’s inadequacies.

Crispino described the patient mix at many institutions as a rough 80/20 rule, meaning 80 percent of challenging cases come from 20 percent of the patients. Decentralization of emergency services can help match the acuity of clinical conditions with appropriate facilities.

Respiratory infections or minor injuries can be better suited to community-based walk-in urgent-care centers, bypassing private physician appointment delays or expensive care in EDs; ambulatory centers can occupy retail spaces under 5,000 square feet—the size of a “big Starbucks,” Crispino noted. Many older buildings in New York and other cities have floor-to-floor heights that readily accommodate imaging and surgical equipment, facilitating adaptive reuse in chains like CityMD or the branded branch clinics of major hospitals like NewYork–Presbyterian and NYU. A new typology, the freestanding ED, has arisen at two of the city’s former hospital sites, the North Shore/Long Island Jewish system’s Lenox Hill HealthPlex in the former St. Vincent’s and Montefiore Westchester Square, formerly the Bronx’s Westchester Square Medical Center.

The ambulatory center for the Hotel Trades Council will include a health center with tech offices above.
Courtesy Francis Cauffman
 

A new ambulatory center that Crispino and colleagues have designed in Brooklyn’s Cultural District for the Hotel Trades Council dispenses with waiting rooms entirely. Opening in 2016, the 12-story, 165,000-square-foot HTC Brooklyn will be a mixed-use building with ground-level restaurants and retail, 65,000 square feet of medical facilities from the second through fifth floors, offices above, and a public park. Information technology obviates queuing: patients call in advance, check in at kiosks or by smartphone, and receive printed directions to examination rooms, aligned in staggered positions along corridors to make wayfinding signage visible at a distance with minimal supervision.

In Ft. Oglethorpe, GA, Francis Cauffman designed these detached, house-like units to give residents a community that is intended to be more like home.
Courtesy Francis Cauffman
 

In Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia (population 9,513 in 2013), Francis Cauffman is engaged in replacing an underused, over-scaled 500-bed hospital with a better-sized 100- to 120-bed facility, freeing up the 200-acre site for other uses, including a cinema, barbershop, bowling alley, parks, a few retail healthcare establishments, and about 1,500 residents in single and multifamily row houses. The senior-oriented plan calls for a pedestrian main street that links to the rest of Fort Oglethorpe and brings the elements of small-town life within a comfortable five-minute walk from any point for residents in their seventies.

Replacing its scandal-ridden predecessor, Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital in South Los Angeles brings dignity and health services back to the neighborhood.
David Wakely / Courtesy HMC Architects
 

In a drastically different environment, South Los Angeles, the decline and resurrection of a major healthcare center is inseparable from a community’s fortunes. Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital, a 461-bed facility opened in 1972 as a response to severe local needs highlighted by the 1965 Watts riots, grew so mismanaged and mishap-prone that neighbors called it “Killer King.” Patient deaths became national scandals, and MLK lost its Joint Commission certification and closed in 2007. The facility reopened this August as Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital, just days before the 50th anniversary of the riots. The reinvented MLK is “one of the first and most important steps in the reconfiguration of the Watts area,” said architect George Vangelatos, principal and healthcare practice leader of HMC Architects, designers of the renovated and “future-ready” hospital.

A new, glazed entrance lobby, reoriented on the building’s north side, bridges multiple elements (inpatient and outpatient services, elevator cores, and the cafeteria, overlooking a healing courtyard) as a “one-stop shop.” The 131-bed MLK is a full-service hospital in all respects but one, lacking a Level One trauma unit but including a 35-station ED that can fast-track large numbers of uninsured and primary-care patients, many of whom will arrive through a new bus stop or, soon, the expanded multimodal Rosa Parks Station three blocks away. Rapid triage takes place either at the ED’s dedicated entrance or at a station appended to the main entrance, sorting “bellyache and booboo” cases to a nearby outpatient center, low-acuity cases to an urgent-care component, and higher-acuity cases to the ED, said HMC’s Kirk Rose. (Ambulance drivers take trauma patients to St. Francis or County General, as they have since 2007.)

Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital in South Los Angeles.
David Wakely / Courtesy HMC Architects
 

MLK’s lighting, landscaping, and other visible upgrades give patients an implicit message of respect. Upper floors, once dedicated to offices, were converted to well daylit patient areas, and the $1 million public art program, the largest funded by Los Angeles County, recognizes the relation between aesthetics and healing, a staple of evidence-based design. Yet the most consequential changes may be the features promoting operational flexibility in a fast-changing profession.

“We have a fraction of the EDs we had twenty-five years ago in all of Southern California,” said Rose, citing local activist Sweet Alice Harris’ description of “kids with asthma needing to go twenty miles, and some of them not making it, [and] women giving birth in their house before the ambulance could arrive.” He suggested that the strain of using high-intensity facilities to provide primary care to starkly underserved communities is a reason EDs have been shutting down. “They are a huge financial drains on hospitals, sometimes dragging entire hospitals down with them,” he cautioned.

Denmark’s health policy took the opposite direction in 2008 with a national plan to centralize functions, particularly emergency care, in a few highly efficient “super hospitals” located outside the cities, reported Lars Steffensen, partner for healthcare projects at Copenhagen-based Henning Larsen. “We’re not especially fond of that idea,” he said. “The issue is how to design a very large hospital, a complex functionality in the outskirts of a large city, and our point of view was, we have to deal with this as a small town or small city in itself.”

Emphasizing the continuities rather than distinctions between a healing environment and a fully functional community, Henning Larsen’s medical projects draw from the firm’s extensive sustainability research and its experience with a competition in the center of Milan, where Filarete’s Ca’ Granda (Ospedale Maggiore), one of Europe’s oldest hospitals (founded in 1450, now part of the University of Milan), inspired their thinking about hospitals’ relation to urban density and outdoor space as well as their internal design: “the hospital in the city” and “the hospital as a city.”

Herlev Hospital, Denmark’s tallest building at 28 stories, is undergoing expansion, adding an ED and maternity/pediatrics center (among other components), with an estimated completion date of 2017. Henning Larsen’s design for the 560,000-square-foot extension combines a minimalist geometry with a biophilic philosophy recognizing the value of proximity to nature and sick patients’ high sensitivity to all forms of stimuli. Three discrete circular buildings sit atop rectangular bases, two comprising bed wards and all enclosed courtyards with carefully programmed landscaping and roof gardens. Water features are prominent throughout the scheme and patient rooms have large windows that look out onto rich, seasonally varied foliage. “These outdoor spaces are at least as important as all the indoor spaces,” Steffensen said. He described a spectrum of green spaces: “[The hierarchy goes] from a completely public park-like area, where actually the public from the rest of the city can pass through, to the extremely private garden for the most vulnerable patients in the pediatric department.”

Nationwide, numbers of inpatient beds are slowly dropping as specialty outpatients rise rapidly. “Statistics show that a patient stays in a bed for an average [of] three to three and a half days,” observed Steffensen, pointing out that the design also considers the wellbeing of the staff, who spend every day there. Triage and patient flow are pivotal: they direct 20–25 percent of patients to EDs and 70–80 percent elsewhere. Psychiatric conditions, he noted, account for significant proportions of cases initially believed to be acute somatic disorders, and Henning Larsen’s EDs thus include a common entrance for both types of patients.

The overriding consideration in hospital design, he said, is flexibility. “[Old hospitals] were built for one specific purpose, but they were built so generously, so they could easily transform for other functions.” The tendency toward hospital centralization, he finds, may ultimately be a pendulum that swings back: “We are never to believe that now we have the answer for the healthcare sector for the next century, because that’s not going to happen.”

The Ten Degree House by Höweler + Yoon is designed to be accessible for aging-in-place clients.

Courtesy Höweler + Yoon

 

Residential scale: reuniting generations

While Europe looks to a hospital as city model, what happens when home becomes hospital? Demographic trends favor the blurring of lines distinguishing fully independent living (an active “third age”), assisted living, and palliative care in nursing homes or hospice settings. Official estimates predict that by 2035 one in five Americans will be over 65, more than a third of UK residents will be over 60, and a quarter of China’s population will be over 60 (some 336 million people, more than the population of the U.S. today). Whatever medical advances lie ahead, they are unlikely to convince most of the elderly boomer generation that institutionalized life is widely desirable.

Naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCs), along with more intentionally engineered age-friendly spaces, offer certain bulwarks against the debilitating isolation of a senior facility. However, in many locations aging in place poses challenges, particularly when elders living in auto-dependent sites reach a point where driving becomes hazardous, or when dementing disorders make familiar spaces strange.

The Ten Degree House by Höweler + Yoon.

Courtesy Höweler + Yoon

 

Cultures that emphasize filial care of elders may have valuable lessons for the age-phobic United States. Integrating built environments across generational lines can help people across broad spectra of ability and disability live in proximity with dignity and appropriate support. The Bridge House, located in McLean, Virginia, offers a strong example of design for multi-generational living. Designed by Höweler + Yoon and built in 2014, the residence appears as a single-family home when viewed from the front, while its rear elevation reveals three attached rectilinear volumes capable of housing three generations. Architect Eric Höweler describes Bridge House as a “post-nuclear-family house” and a potentially replicable model.

The Ten Degree House by Höweler + Yoon.
Courtesy Höweler + Yoon
 

The clients, first-generation Korean immigrants to the U.S. with adult children and grandchildren, occupy a suite in the smaller of two ground-floor volumes, minimizing use of stairs; the larger, more public volume holds shared programs: the kitchen, family room, dining room, and garage. An elongated upper volume cantilevers across the two ground-floor segments and houses the second and third generations along a single-loaded corridor, with master suites at each end, two central grandchildren’s rooms, and a rear roof terrace. Beneath the bridge, a central void with floor-to-ceiling glazing offers views into nearby woods, creating continuity between nature and domesticity while demarcating the first generation’s private zone. That gesture extends a strategy from another nearby Höweler + Yoon project for aging-in-place clients. The 10 Degree House, designed for the parents of architect Meejin Yoon, places a small courtyard on the narrow site while still observing local zoning’s setback requirements.

The Ten Degree House by Höweler + Yoon.
Courtesy Höweler + Yoon
 

Clad in anodized aluminum panels, the facade treatment reflects the owners’ practical concerns. “They said, ‘We’re going to get old; we’re not going to have energy to get out there and paint the house, so we want a zero-maintenance cladding material,’” recalled Höweler. “You never have to paint it, you never have to stain it, you never have to worry about woodpeckers and other things.” Defying the upstairs-master-bedroom convention of normative American single-family houses, Höweler points out, eases access to essential spaces in the event of future disability. Barrier-free entry ramps and a wheelchair-accessible shower, he added, also make the 10 Degree House exemplary in this regard.

Höweler + Yoon’s Bridge House is a “post-nuclear-family” dwelling that gives each generation its own private zones.
Jeff Wolfram / Courtesy Höweler + Yoon
 

Although Bridge House is already influential—three new clients have commissioned similar projects by the firm—its design required a complex dance with local codes. While courtyard houses inspired by East Asian traditions offer numerous advantages for extended families, they are difficult to reconcile with zoning that privileges the house as an object plopped in the middle of the lot with a large front lawn. “There is something about the zoning that institutionalizes certain kinds of land uses that don’t make a lot of sense,” Höweler noted. “[The courtyard typology] sounds progressive in this context, but it’s totally normal in a Korean context.”

Höweler + Yoon’s Bridge House.
Jeff Wolfram / Courtesy Höweler + Yoon
 

Bridge House essentially integrates three common domestic spaces geared toward seniors into a single building: the granny flat, mother-in-law apartment, and Hawaiian ohana unit. U.S. suburban zoning was commonly enacted for health and safety reasons and more nebulously to protect property values by limiting rental units. Interdependence between seniors, neighbors, children, and health providers is integral to active aging, yet zoning codes arguably express an impulse toward maximal separation of individuals and generations from each other—very twentieth-century, and a far cry from sustainable aging in place design. One suspects that as knowledge accumulates about how different designs affect health, and about how people would really prefer to live, that particular pendulum could swing in the opposite direction.

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Santiago Calatrava awarded 2015 European Prize for Architecture
The Chicago Athenaeum  and the European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies have revealed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava as the 2015 winner of the European Prize for Architecture. In awarding Calatrava the European Prize, the jury recognized the Spaniard's notable works including the Stadelholfen Railway Station in Zurich, the Bac de Roda Bridge in Barcelona, the Peace Bridge in Calgary, Canada, the Milwaukee Art Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Innovation, Science and Technology Building at Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland, Florida and the City of Arts and Sciences of Valencia, Spain. “Calatrava is more than just an architect,” explained Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, the president of the Chicago Athenaeum, in a statement. “He is a visionary theorist, philosopher and utopian and a true artist in the craft of engineering and architectonic expressionism. His buildings are not just ‘buildings.’ They are powerful works of art, inspired by a master’s gifted hand and sculpted by a superior, critical eye: immensely evocative and fiercely intellectual.” The award ceremony will be held at the World Trade Center in New York City on November 17 this year. Calatrava's works are set to be published the Metropolitan Arts Press and will be available via the European Center. Past winners include Finnish architect Marco Casagrande (2013), Italian architect Alessandro Mendini (2014), and Dane Bjarke Ingels (2010).
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Archtober Building of the Day 5> World Trade Center Transportation Hub
World Trade Center Transportation Hub World Trade Center, Manhattan Downtown Design Partnership; STV, AECOM, and Santiago Calatrava A team from the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey wowed the crowd of lucky Archtober fans this morning with a full-length tour from the Hudson River to the beating heart of the new World Trade Center. Robert Eisenstat, the chief architect at the Port Authority Engineering Department, was joined by Thomas L. Grassi, a program manager on the World Trade Center construction, and a number of others along for the ride. These dedicated people, along with many others, have been working on the site since “the day.” Today was a little reminiscent of that day, over 14 years ago—a crisp sunny day with only wisps of clouds. It is hard to visit the site at all, for some of us. But now because of the sublime poetry of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub—they call it the “oculus”—a brighter future can be imagined. It is a futuristic creature born from the construction chaos that still defines the neighborhood, with white, spiked ribs rising up like the barbs of a chalky peace dove’s feather. Peace is not easy. I kept thinking, we have to tell the crowd how complicated this all was, how many levels, how many logistical nightmares, how many times its seemed like it could never be completed. I have to do my thing about how architects are problem solvers, which of course is true. But some problems are spiritual ones, hard to put in the brief for a nearly $4 billion transit integration project. This is where the architect’s special poetry comes in. Whatever you may say about this project, and there has been a lot of negative press with Santiago Calatrava certainly taking some knocks along the way, it is uplifting.  The spirit soars; the room has an ineffable majesty of great architecture that defies easy explanation. While the Port Authority was getting its “network cohesion” out of the tangle of subway lines and trans-Hudson modalities, it also got a cathedral that looks like the waiting room for heaven. wtc-trans-hub-04 Cynthia Phifer Kracauer is the managing director of the Center for Architecture and the festival director for Archtober: Architecture & Design Month NYC. She was previously a partner at Butler Rogers Baskett, and from 1989–2005 at Swanke Hayden Connell. After graduating from Princeton (AB 1975, M.Arch 1979) she worked for Philip Johnson, held faculty appointments at the University of Virginia, NJIT, and her alma mater. Tomorrow: Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center, Entry Building, and Arch.
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Archtober Building of the Day 4> Queens Botanical Garden Visitor and Administration Building
It makes sense that one of New York City's exceptional botanical gardens would develop what would become one of the city's first green buildings. What is extraordinary is that the Queens Botanical Garden (QBG) began its new Visitor and Administration Building in 2000 – the year LEED certification was launched – and achieved LEED Platinum for a building that ambitiously demonstrates what designed harmony between buildings and nature can be. Patrice Kleinberg, garden educator for the QBG, and Joan Krevlin, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, partner at BKSK Architects, led today’s tour, providing perspectives on both the garden’s unique public engagement challenges and the design solutions. At the earliest stages of the project, the QBG engaged the community to find out what would serve them; across all sectors, they heard “water.” What subsequently evolved was a series of water systems that were both experiential and functional – the building houses not only administrative operations and diverse public programming, but also collects, conserves, cleans, and recycles water. Three different sustainable roofs serve different purposes. The main structure hosts a solar-powered roof, which generates enough power for about 20% of the building’s operations. The roof of the auditorium is planted with local species, cooling the building. The forecourt’s soaring roof canopy, which provides a shady transition space between the gardens and the interior, doubles as a rainwater collection unit. The water collected by the canopy is stored in a subterranean 26,000-gallon cistern that is pumped up into the Fountain of Life, which leads to a leafy stream and eventually into a moving body of water that is terraced between the buildings and culminates in a moat-like pond. The Visitor and Administration Building also sustains a grey water system, wherein water from sinks, toilets, dishwashers, and showers moves through a sandy, planted biotope, from which it can be repurposed. These innovations have inspired and expanded the QBG’s educational offerings, engendering green cleaning job training, and leading to the development of new K-12 curricula. Importantly, the project's bioswales have greatly decreased storm run-off in the area’s sewage systems. Tomorrow, we’ll head over to the World Trade Center Transportation Hub.
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Santiago Calatrava brings his signature style to Park Avenue with seven sculptures
Santiago Calatrava, currently the darling of George Clooney, has set up seven blade-like sculptures along Park Avenue in New York City. The installation is a collaboration between the Marlborough Gallery, the New York City Parks Department, and the Fund for Park Avenue. The aluminum sculptures each have an expressive form that is classic Calatrava, but are not the all-white creations that we have come to expect from the architect. No, these pieces are painted red, black, and silver. The installation runs until mid-November meaning that it should close right around the time that Calatrava's long-delayed World Trade Center Transportation Hub finally opens. Take a look at the gallery below for a closer look at the sculptures, and if you're in New York and want to see for yourself, the pieces are on Park Avenue's median between 52nd and 55th streets.
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With Foster rebuffed, Bjarke Ingels reveals his plans for a stepped Two World Trade Center
In late 2005, Norman Foster unveiled his design for Two World Trade Center—an 88-story tower capped in four diamonds to direct the eye down toward the 9/11 Memorial, which, at the time, was still years from completion. Then, the World Trade Center site was still in the design phase, and Bjarke Ingels was a little-known architect from Denmark. But in the decade since, Ingels' rise has been nothing short of meteoric. Now, Wired has the story that proves what has been reported for months: the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) will replace Foster + Partners at Two World Trade Center, the second-tallest of the cluster of towers in Lower Manhattan. The 1,340-foot-tall skyscraper is being developed by Silverstein Properties and will serve as the joint headquarters for Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation and 21st Century Fox. If BIG’s building does, in fact, rise, then the final tower at the 16-acre site will have been designed by a firm that did not even exist when rebuilding began. With BIG’s growing portfolio of push-the-envelope architecture, the easy assumption for Two World Trade was that the building would step into the complicated—and politically fraught—site and loosen its buttoned-up, corporate aesthetic. If the redesigned tower accomplishes that, then it certainly does so gently. From the memorial, the 80-story tower takes cues from its neighbors, Three World Trade and Four World Trade, with an uninterrupted glass curtain wall. (Santiago Calatrava’s soaring Transportation Hub creates a brief stylistic rift along the crystalline campus.) But from every other vantage point, the tower appears like a staircase—or a classic mid-20th century Manhattan ziggurat-style building. The structure's massing appears as a series of seven, 12-story boxes that climb upward, stepping toward SOM's One World Trade next door. “On one hand it’s about being respectful and about completing the frame around the memorial, and on the other hand it’s about revitalizing downtown Manhattan and making it a lively place to live and work,” Ingels told Wired. "From Tribeca, the home of lofts and roof gardens, [Two World Trade] will appear like a vertical village of singular buildings stacked on top of each other to create parks and plazas in the sky," Ingels said in a statement. "From the World Trade Center, the individual towers will appear unified, completing the colonnade of towers framing the 9/11 Memorial.” BIG's involvement with the project came about after James Murdoch, Rupert’s 42-year-old son and a 21st Century Fox executive, reportedly expressed concerns over Foster’s design. James Murdoch was looking to create a more open-plan work environment. And BIG has experience doing just that—the firm recently presented designs with Heatherwick Studio for a sprawling Google headquarters complex comprising a series of glass canopies. At the World Trade Center site, BIG's main assignment was to take the spirit of a Silicon Valley, open-air campus and squeeze it into a Manhattan skyscraper. On a practical level, that's no easy assignment. But through generous setbacks, the building offers space for heavily planted gardens that at least serve as a nod toward the corporate campuses on the West Coast. Or so it would seem; Wired reported that the gardens are “supposed to evoke varying climates, from tropical to arctic.” But this is New York, not California, so by December all the gardens might lean toward the latter. Underneath these gardens, on the tower's cantilever reveals, are digital news tickers that will display headlines from the news giant operating inside. https://vimeo.com/130120622 Among the other challenges for BIG in redesigning Two World Trade was working within existing realities of the World Trade Center site—and a foundation structure that had already begun construction. The tower’s foundation is already set according to Foster's plan and includes air vents from the neighboring transportation hub. The new tower is also aligned along the axis laid out in Daniel Libeskind's master plan. When it came time to sell BIG's new design to the developer and client, Silverstein and Murdoch were initially skeptical. “I hadn’t seen a building like this beforehand, I hadn’t considered a building like this before, and certainly there was nothing down at the Trade Center to indicate that this would be a trend for tomorrow,” developer Larry Silverstein told Wired. Rupert Murdoch apparently agreed, but after the philosophy of the building was explained—and Ingels is a talented storyteller—Silverstein and Murdoch were on board. The architects behind the World Trade Center’s other three towers—David Childs, Richard Rogers, and Fumihiko Maki—all gave their blessing as well. News Corp. and 21st Century Fox recently signed a non-binding letter of intent to build Two World Trade, which brings the project closer to reality. And if all goes according to plan, Murdoch’s media empire should be setting up shop in Lower Manhattan as soon as 2020.        
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Watch One World Trade, New York City's tallest skyscraper, rise in less than two minutes
With the recent opening of One World Trade Center, the folks over at EarthCam have reshared their 2013 timelapse of the tower's 1,776 foot rise. There's not too much else to say about the video, other than that it sure makes the building's very long and arduous climb seem pretty quick and easy. It's also set to some very Game of Thrones-y music, so it has that going for it too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nn11DWH_LEA You can check out the video above to see One World Trade, and some other pieces of the World Trade Center site (hello, Four World Trade!), take shape over what has been a very fraught time frame. And, hey, maybe in another year or so, we'll be back here watching a timelapse of Calatrava's Transportation Hub. And after that, how about the rise of (maybe) Bjarke Ingels' 2 World Trade Center?
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Santiago Calatrava's World Trade Center Transportation Hub begins to open up to the public
After all these years (read: delays), the public will finally be able to check out the grand oculus in Santiago Calatrava's $3.9 billion World Trade Center Transportation Hub—starting next month. The New York Times reported that beginning in June, a north-south passageway with direct views onto the building's main attraction will open to "limited pedestrian traffic." The entire building won't fully open until the end of this year, or early next year so don't get too excited. And you can always walk through an already open portion of the Calatrava station connecting to the Brookfield Place towers. The Times also noted that the World Trade Center redevelopment is set to check off milestone after milestone over the next few weeks and months. —The second of four PATH platforms in the Transportation Hub will open on Thursday. —Soon after that, a floor-to-ceiling barrier will come down as well. This will allow commuters to marvel at the immaculate space set beneath those already-iconic soaring white ribs, or wings, or spikes, or whatever you want to call them. —And on May 29th, the One World Trade Center Observatory will open, offering panoramic views to anyone willing to shell out $32 a ticket. As for 2 World Trade Center, well, we're still waiting to hear if Norman Foster's design will be replaced with something from Bjarke Ingels.
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Santiago Calatrava
Inside the World Trade Center Transportation Hub
Courtesy Santiago Calatrava

With the World Trade Center site incrementally becoming more a part of Lower Manhattan, and the blades of the Transit Hub peaking interest from behind the fence, Santiago Calatrava sat down with former AN executive editor Alan G. Brake to discuss the civic role of his architecture, which he hopes will rank among New York’s great infrastructural works of the past. He is also completing the Greek Orthodox Church at the south side of the site, his first religious structure, which is scheduled to open for Easter 2017.

 
Santiago Calatrava.
Michael Falco
 

Alan G Brake: You’ve been working on the World Trade Center site for a long time, what do you think of how it’s coming together as an urban composition, now that people are able to access it more?

Santiago Calatrava: You see, it’s a little bit early to judge it. Fulton is not yet open. Greenwich is also cut in two, or is only accessible at one end. And at this point the platform where the Greek Orthodox Church is is still a construction site. Even the skyline is not finished, but in any case it’s very promising. You see that the site will be concluded. Once Greenwich is open and you have the church in place and then the skyline is concluded and the PATH is working and the plaza we have done is also accessible, it will become a very interesting site, just from the pure urban point of view. You see I always considered my project from beyond just the architectural aspects and the engineering aspects—very much from the urban point of view. The mezzanine under the 1 and 9 [subway] is like a plaza. The oculus is like a plaza, very light with open views out to the skyscrapers. My project was always about the urban configuration and even complementing the original master plan. I proposed detaching the station from Tower Three and making it an autonomous building in a plaza, which was different from the master plan. My approach has been looking at it as a contribution to the city. I think the whole scheme with the memorial gardens and the enormous towers is very powerful, and also the station is like one block of New York with a plaza around. We create a lower scale, it brings the scale of towers to the scale of the pedestrian.

The East/West Corridor has opened, and it’s giving people a preview of what’s to come. How does it relate to the larger composition of the station?

I tried from the very beginning to do that whole network of connections extending from the oculus as a single unit. So the character of the structural members you can see with the ribs, and a certain character in the paving, and a certain character in the front of the shops is already delivering a character that a person will see all the way through. So if you are in the oculus or the mezzanine, or in the other corridors to Liberty Street or the other internal streets towards Liberty Plaza, or towards Wall Street or towards Fulton, all these areas are marked with the same character. My goal is to create a space where as soon as I arrive in the transportation hub I know I am in the transportation hub, no matter what corner I enter from. Also, something that the corridor delivers is a sense of quality of spaces. I have built seven of the major transportation hubs in Europe, in Lisbon, in Lyon, in Zurich, in Italy, and so on. Getting out of this experience, it’s very important to create places of quality, because people behave according to that. You see after all the enormous effort to bring all the subways and the trains to this place and see to maintain the service through all the construction—why shouldn’t these places have a certain material and structural quality that you can enjoy in a day-to-day way, not just commuters but visitors who arrive in this place. I think the station will match with the tradition in New York of great infrastructural works, as you see today in Grand Central and in the former Penn Station. If it had not been demolished it would be recognized as one of the greatest stations worldwide. I hope people can see some of these material qualities in the East/West corridor.

 

The development of the World Trade Center site as a whole has been very complex, and there have been a lot of delays, and changes of authority and ownership. Can you talk about how that has impacted the transit hub and what you have fought to keep through all those changes?

The transit hub is more than just a series of stations that are linked together, and maybe that is difficult a priori to understand. It is conceived to represent all the transit access to the towers, also all the vehicular access of cars and lorries, it represents the energy center for many of the towers, for the museum, the memorial. The transit hub is also the basement of Towers Two and Three. The first three or four floors of Tower Three have been built as a part of the Port Authority’s commitment. It is also the support for the memorial plaza. It is the support to the entry to the museum, and the support for the future art center. All these things will let you understand materially what extends into the transit hub. It is also the 1 train diagonally crossing the site, which we have had to underpin, and keep in service the whole time. All of this has been done while fully preserving service of the subway lines and the commuter trains to New Jersey. To build the hub has been an enormous challenge.

 
Greek Orthodox Church.
Courtesy Santiago Calatrava
 

Your work has often been described as cathedral-like. What has it been like to work on your first religious structure, the Greek Orthodox Church?

I have been working in Greece for a number of years because of the Olympics in 2004, on the Olympic Ring covering the stadium and the velodrome. So I have an enormous sympathy for the culture and for the Greek diaspora. I discovered the beauty of the Orthodoxy. I knew Hagia Sophia, but I had never approached it from a religious point of view. I approached it as you approach the Parthenon. You can study it. You can buy books. But you can never fully understand it as a religious place. If you look at the project, it’s very anomalous with the rest of my work. I’ve never used a dome before, except in the competition for the Reichstag in Berlin, where I proposed a dome. Also there is the problem with scale, simply because the building is very small. The restraints that the Greek Orthodox Church negotiated with the Port Authority and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation is a small building where the height is limited, the width is limited. But I knew that the monumentality was important. It will bring an accent to the site, as the entry to the PATH will do. This building will bring you a relation to the scale of the person because they have almost a domestic scale. I like that. We try with these two buildings to give a sense of the human being, the scale of man. It’s like a three-story house. I have to say it was a great idea from the Port Authority and the church to put it on a podium, which is the vehicular entry for security screening. It’s a small church floating above an oak forest. The oaks will not become enormous because they are in planters. I like this scale in relation to the pools of the memorial. We came up with this idea of making the dome out of translucent stone, so the light from the interior will have a little glow. It will never be excessive, but it will help give the impression of a 24-hour open place. So that people who need help, they will be able to find a place to go. Finally, the interiors, we are trying to do a place for everybody, an open place.

So it won’t have heavy religious iconography?

Certainly it will have the necessary iconography to officiate the liturgy. People can enter and light a candle if they are believers or not believers, if they are Christians or not, they can light a candle close to the memorial.

There has been a certain architectural language that runs throughout much of your work. Can you talk about the shared language of the church and the transit hub, and what you are working toward in terms of light, space, and structure?

I am also an engineer. If you look at my work, there is a very marked presence of structure. This is without any doubt the case with the hub. All these beams are steel and they are carrying the weight. The structure is used as an expressive element. So if you look back at all of the transportation hubs and railway stations in Europe, this is the case. In the hub you see the idea of bringing in light and making a very clear place. I employ it because it is also a matter of comfort. In places with high levels of security concerns, the feeling of safety is not only an objective feeling, it is also a subjective aspect. So a woman waiting for a train at midnight when the station is not so busy has to feel comfortable. For that, the ambience of clarity. Also orientation, if you take the East/West corridor as you see today you end up in the Fulton corridor. And you can see that optically through, because easy orientation, particularly in chaotic or dangerous circumstances is the most important aspect. So I am mixing architectural aspects—the color and the light—with functional aspects and the sensation of comfort for the users and also the quality of the spaces.

It’s interesting to compare with the Greek Orthodox Church. These aspects are much more mitigated because we’re not making an expressed structure. We’re trying to make a building that is expressive through the relation of the volumes. So I am stepping into a more complex and maybe a more classical aspect of architecture: the game of the volumes and delight. There are the four towers, the front facade, and the dome. Not the expression of the nerves or the tendons or the muscles of the body, but an expression of the relations of volumes and proportions, related to the person. It is much more classical. The Hagia Sophia, why is it what it is? You see the effort of carrying this enormous dome, but you do not feel it in the interior—it is all sublimated by the light. And also you enter the narthex and the anti-narthex and then into the nave. It’s a continuous crescendo. We also have this in our building.

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Were the World Trade Center Transit Hub's lateral struts part of the original Calatrava design?
  The World Trade Center Transportation Hub—or as its designer Santiago Calatrava likes to think of it, the "bird in flight"—is just blocks from AN's office, so we get to walk by and watch it try to take off regularly. But in the weeks before the holidays, odd “struts” started to be welded between the structure’s giant fins or blades.   Not only do these lateral supports detract from the elegance of its long thin blades, I don’t remember seeing them in the renderings of the station. So I went back through every image I could find online and none show these connectors. In many of the renderings, the overlapping of the transit hub's fins obscures where the connectors would have been located. The renderings fades into solid white, obscuring those areas from clear view. Could it be that these were added later in the design process or did Mr. Calatrava know all along that these were needed to help support the weight of the fins? What do you think? Do they compromise the design?
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Pictorial> The new Fulton Center opens in Lower Manhattan
When the new Fulton Center opened this weekend—after seven years of delays and cost overruns that lifted the project’s price tag from $750 million to $1.4 billion—New York City got two things: a modern upgrade to its transportation network and an iconic piece of architecture. With new well-lit concourses, pedestrian tunnels, escalators and elevators, and more intuitive transfer points between nine subway lines, Fulton Center will drastically improve the transit experience for the 300,000 people who pass through it every day. But even with these significant improvements, all anyone is talking about is the center's eye-catching glass oculus and its hyperboloid Sky Reflector-Net installation. Step inside the station, and you'll understand why. The 53-foot-diameter structure was commissioned by the MTA Arts & Design program and created by James Carpenter Associates with Grimshaw Architects, Enclos, TriPyramid Structures, and ARUP. It is comprised of 952 aluminum panels, 224 high-strength rods, 112 tension cables, and 10,000 stainless-steel components that work in tandem to fill the station with natural light. The full effect of the design can only be experienced from within the station—standing across the street from Fulton Center, which appears as a steel and glass headhouse, the oculus and Sky Reflector-Net could be mistaken for a massive vent. The upper floors of the rotunda, which are set directly underneath the oculus, will soon be ringed by shops and restaurants. The 66,000 square feet of commercial space is connected to the station through a prominent glass elevator that is wrapped in a spiral staircase. But as dramatic as all of these large gestures are, the center is completed with the MTA's standard-issue, black and gray finishes. The handrails, doors, flooring, and even garbage cans are what you would find at any other station. The station's subdued color scheme, though, is broken up slightly with the light blue glass tiles that clad the station’s below-grade corridors. In these subterranean spaces, the choice of tile, and the decision to set overheard fluorescent bulbs at an angle, shows the impact that designers can have when deviating—however slightly—from the norm. Spread throughout the new Fulton Center are over 50 digital screens that make up the MTA’s “largest state-of-the-art digital signage media program.” When AN visited the Fulton Center, some of those screens were quickly switching between video art and ads for Burberry. And then back again. The completion of the Fulton Center also comes with the $59 million renovation of the adjacent, 125-year-old Corbin Building. The refurbished space, which boasts a stately exterior, is incorporated into the circulation of the center. Exiting through the Corbin Building–side exit, you can see the wings of the nearly $4 billion, Calatrava-designed World Trade Center Transit Hub. When that station opens next year, it will connect to the Fulton Center, and quite likely overshadow it. The bulk of the funding for this project ($847 million) came from a Congressional appropriation which was aimed at rebuilding transit networks in Lower Manhattan after September 11. An additional $423 million came from President Obama's stimulus act. The MTA also provided $130 million in funds.              
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Archtober Building of the Day #12> The Pavilion at Brookfield Place
Archtober Building of the Day #12 The Pavilion at Brookfield Place 100 West Street Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects It is impossible not to notice The Pavilion at Brookfield Place from almost any viewpoint near it’s location on 100 West Street. A glass curtain wall seems barely to contain the steel trees that emerge from its floor. While our Archtober tour was conducted under the noonday sun, one can easily imagine the building’s brilliance after nightfall. Our tour leader was Craig Copeland, an Associate Partner in the New York studio of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, and the Design Team Leader of the Pavilion at Brookfield Place. He explained that after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the World Trade Center and World Financial Center (now the Pavilion at Brookfield Place) were left disconnected. The Pavilion now reconnects Battery Park City’s Winter Garden, the newly completed World Trade Center Concourse, and both MTA and PATH transportation hubs. And, as the complex’s front door, the Pavilion will create a welcoming pedestrian space out of a former vehicular-only zone. But, let’s get back to those incredible steel trees. In order to create them, the firm looked to “nature and trees in particular,” and as a result, created two 54-foot-tall basket-like woven steel beams which take up very little space on the ground but slowly spread as they reach for, and eventually encompass, most of the ceiling. These beautiful and unique columns solve both an aesthetic and structural solution. Precariously positioned at the edge of the Hudson River, an initial building design of four columns was deemed structurally unsound. The team was forced to envision ways in which the building’s support could be focused upon two points. While two ordinary columns would have left them with a heavy roof, the Pavilion’s “trees spiral inside and outside creating enough tension to hold the basket together” and allow for an “expressive and light” look that hides their true strength. “From there,” Copeland pointed to the ceiling, “a glass curtain wall hangs from the roof- no weight falls to the ground.” A feat that he said, “could not have been accomplished without the efforts of engineering firm, Thornton Tomasetti.” As for the whole concept of the building, Craig explained that “instead of taking the stone from around the base of the building, we took cues from the Winter Garden’s Hudson River facing view.” The result is a building that “demonstrates resiliency as a culture and promotes a feeling of transparency instead of creating another stone fortress.” Rochelle Thomas received an M.A. in American Studies from Columbia University and is the Membership Assistant at the AIA New York Chapter.