The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat held its 11th annual awards symposium Thursday, bestowing architect Helmut Jahn and structural engineers Charles Thornton and Richard Tomasetti with lifetime achievement recognition and awarding Doha Tower the title of 2012’s Best Tall Building. Ateliers Jean Novel’s cylindrical landmark for the burgeoning Qatar capital is the first tall building to use a diagonal grid of reinforced concrete columns in a cross shape. This innovation leaves open the central core, creating a stunning space at the tip of the tower that makes perhaps the best use of the building’s intricately detailed facade. In the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Hermann Hall, CTBUH also awarded one building in each of four geographical regions with Best Tall Building awards, with each recipient presenting their work. The Absolute World Towers in Mississauga, Ontario took home the Americas award. Architect Ma Yansong remarked that high-rises increasingly resemble machines, but his work aims to make tall buildings more human. See AN's past coverage for more on all the award-winners. SOM’s Al Hamra Firdous Tower in Kuwait City and Progetto CMR’s Complesso Garibaldi Tower 2 in Milan received honors as featured finalists. Jahn, whose 40-year portfolio of built work includes the Sony Center in Berlin, Liberty Place in Philadelphia and the MGM Veer Towers in Las Vegas, said some architects forget that very tall buildings have a responsibility to reflect the character and spirit of the cities whose skylines they alter. During the question portion of the morning presentations, he also lamented the loss of architects “who would just throw their drawings at the client,” calling for less “pussyfooting” and more boldness in design today. In another crowd-pleasing moment, Charlie Thornton said engineering is essentially simple when it is not obfuscated by self-important professors. “We need to get rid of calculus teachers,” he said. “They are destroying future engineers.” “I’m not very popular with engineering schools,” he added. Thornton’s name has become practically synonymous, as has his partner Richard Tomasetti’s, with tall building engineering. Before the days of BIM and Catia, Thornton said, he would calculate building stresses on yellow legal pads during long flights. $5 million of computer calculations later, he said, his longhand calculations would be within 10 percent.
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We learn from our friends at Curbed that Los Angeles' Sixth Street Viaduct Competition, replacing one of the most famous—and fragile—landmarks in LA, has a shortlist. The 3,500-foot-long, art deco span was recently deemed beyond repair, and the winner will build a $401 million, cable-stayed bridge in its place. The teams, all present at an LA Bureau of Engineering meeting last night, are AECOM, ARUP, HNTB, Parsons, Parsons Brinckerhoff, and SOM. Three of those teams will present their plans in September, with a winner chosen in October.
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The artist’s first major U.S. commission lands at the MetOn Monday, the Metropolitan Museum of Art held a preview of the latest installation to take root in its Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. Designed by Tomás Saraceno, the installation is the largest of the artist’s Cloud Cities/Airport Cities series, and his first major commission in the United States. Under overcast skies and a sprinkling of rain, the installation’s first visitors—or at least those wearing rubber-soled shoes—clamored through its 16 interconnected modules. Some paused to sit or lie in the structure’s uppermost areas, while others were content to view the constellation of mirrored acrylic forms and nylon webs from the ground. The experience of boarding the structure is disorienting, and the piece gives visitors the impression that it would float away from the rooftop and over Central Park if not tethered to the Met by steel cables. Saraceno, who participated in the Space Studies Program of the International Space University at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, draws heavily from scientific inspiration in his work. He writes: "Cloud City’s composition is based on a complex three-dimensional geometry from Weaire-Phelan, which is an idealized foam structure resembling the perfect packaging of spheres with a minimal surface and maximum volume. This could be the best possible geometry for connecting solar flying city atmospheres. From solid to liquid or gaseous—Cloud City’s composition—a latent molecular foam structure with its infinite variations. It is not one precise arrangement (or explanation or size that matters) but rather their potential to be endlessly recombined and reconfigured, depending on the context of its use, and the interaction of their users yet to be discovered." Cloud City has been two years in the making. Fabrication of the 20-ton piece, which measures 54 feet long by 29 feet wide by 28 feet high, began in December, with installation starting in mid-April. Brooklyn Office Architecture and Design and structural engineer Arup consulted on the design, taking into account both wind loads and the weight of visitors. The polygonal steel modules consist of straight steel members that were assembled off site into individual globes, then hoisted by crane to the roof and bolted to each other and to internal stairs and platforms. Both transparent and acrylic mirrored surfaces are fastened with pop rivets to the structure. The installation's most organic forms—polyester spider webs that are a hallmark of the artist's work—were installed last, their placement and shape determined largely by Saraceno on site. The piece will be on exhibit through November 4, 2012, weather permitting. Because a limited number of visitors may enter the structure (each set of steep stairs accommodates only two people at a time), lines are sure to be long and guests are urged to wear pants and sunglasses because acrylic components are both transparent and reflective. But the payoff is a new view of the city and the experience of feeling the modules shift and react to the weight of those inside them. As Anne Strauss, the Met's modern and contemporary art curator, commented at the opening, “There’s nothing that is more rewarding and interesting than working with living artists.”
Cornell University has named 2005 Pritzker Prize winner Thom Mayne as architect for the first building at its Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island called the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute. The selection should overshadow some sour grapes that were emanating from Stanford in the past few days regarding their losing bid. Mayne bested an all-star list, including Rem Koolhaas of OMA, Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, Steven Holl, and SOM. The choice of Mayne, whose iconic building 41 Cooper Square still jams traffic at Astor Place, hints that Cornell is looking for a traffic stopper of its own on the East River. "It was a nice list; all the usual talent, but I knew we had a good shot," said Mayne, on his way back to his second home base in LA, "because I could speak intelligently to their three main areas of interest: an innovative educational environment; connective urbanism; sustainability. I can walk the walk." Cornell is developing the site with a proposal prepared by SOM, but there was no mention of the that firm in today's press release, though they remain the master planner for the project. Today's announcement was all about the next step, with Cornell’s dean of architecture, art, and planning, Kent Kleinman praising Morphosis: "No firm is better at turning constraints into creative solutions of astonishing power than Thom Mayne and Morphosis.” As AN reported soon after the Mayor announced the winning bid, SOM's ground work tried to establish that the main 150,000 square foot building would not only be a net-zero building, but, in the words of SOM principal Roger Duffy, "not be an object building." Mayne said that the first meetings on plan and program were only now taking place but he said that "nothing is fixed at this point; it needs to be open-ended." The notion of a prescriptive master plan, he noted, went out with Victor Gruen in the 70s. Morphosis will work with Arup as the engineer on the first building, which the team will design to meet a net-zero energy goal; James Corner is on board for landscape. The south end of the island could likely become an architectural playground, with more RFPs soon going out for the other Tech Campus buildings and the soon-to-be completed Four Freedoms Park by Louis Kahn. Saying the project had come along at just the right moment, Mayne enthused about the opportunities ahead: "The old campus was about the yard or the square. This wants a new paradigm, someplace that is both contained and not contained; simultaneously isolated and completely connected. I love those kind of dualities."
The community planning process for the conversion of the elevated rail line known as the Bloomingdale Trail into a public park and recreational path is underway. The three mile embankment, twice the length of New York's High Line, will feature 8 access points from adjacent pocket parks, and a mile and a half of the line will have separated pedestrian and multi-use paths (for bike riders and roller-blades). The trail winds through Chicago's Logan Square, Wicker Park, Humboldt Park, and Bucktown neighborhoods. The project is much more earth-bound than it's New York predecessor with direct connections to the city's sidewalks and parks system. It too will offer unexpected views of the city. This video showcases the community planning process, and features a cameo by architect Carol Ross Barney, one of the members of the design team, which includes Arup and Michael Van Valkenburgh Landscape Architects. Mayor Emanuel has thrown his weight behind the project, so its chances for realization are very high. The first phase is tentatively scheduled to open in 2014.
Next week a framework plan for the abandoned elevated rail embankment known as the Bloomingdale Trail will be released. Curbed Chicago has posted some preliminary images from the Chicago Department of Transportation that were shown in public meetings last fall. While advocates have stressed that the project is not a copy of New York's High Line, these very preliminary study images look a lot like the High Line, minus the bells and whistles like the bleachers for traffic viewing. Conceived as both the linear park and a transportation corridor--rather than a path for promenading--the pathway looks very narrow, again like the High Line, which can lead to pinch points and crowding. What sets the Bloomingdale Trail apart, however, is its context, which includes a number of residential neighborhoods. The embankment will likely be linked to neighborhood pocket parks by ramps. More refined plans from the design team, which includes Arup and Ross Barney Architects, might resolve these issues. The public, and AN readers, will see more on March 8.
Amidst the event saturated month of Archtober and the holiday hubbub that followed, the Center for Architecture's fall show, Buildings = Energy, got a bit lost in the shuffle. But there's still time to check it out through January 12. Earlier this month Margaret O. Castillo took AN on a tour of the exhibit, the last under her tenure as AIANY chapter president. The show drives home several green points that Castillo has been hammering at all year, primarily the fact that buildings consume energy--a lot of it. Eighty percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, and in New York City alone they use 94 percent of the power. The exhibit takes a holistic approach focusing on the amount of energy needed to extract and make materials, to the energy used to build, and the energy consumed by the completed structure. The story begins in the front window with calculations of how much oil it takes to produce a typical building material. Suspended from the ceiling are aluminum, cinder blocks, lumber, bricks, and sheetrock. Each material has a barrel ring floating around it with figures printed on them, such as: "1 gallon of oil = 3.33 CU. FT. of hardwood." The calculation includes the energy to fell the tree, transport it, and cut it to size. The Mayor's Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability, ARUP, and Dattner Architects lent their expertise to arrive at the various figures found throughout the exhibit, lending the heft of real world numbers to the theoretical aspects of the show. The main theoretical voice comes from Perkins+Will in a section of the exhibit called One Building = Many Choices. Through a series of renderings the firm explores key factors from building concept to completion that include: Site Choices, Program Choices, Passive Systems Choices, Active Systems Choices, Materials Choices, Construction Choices, Operational Choices. Each section is deserving of in depth analysis, but the Passive System attracted our attention because of the design of the building's envelope, about which the team from Perkins+Will had the luxury of dreaming big without a client screaming "How much?!" Thus an elaborate customized photovoltaic facade zigzags down the face of the building. It may cost upfront, but the returns are obvious. “I’m imagining the day when buildings will produce energy, not use energy,” said Castillo. Anthony Fieldman, design principal at P+W, noted that the curtain wall is "the only membrane between you and an uncontrolled environment. So if you use it intelligently you can temper nature's forces before they become problems you have to deal with in the interior." Fieldman added that the geometry of the facade was designed to maximize light, minimize solar heat gain, and maximize energy though the PVs. The photovoltaic facade drew questions of customized photovoltaics vs. mass produced ones. To which Castillo argues that architects should be pushing for the industry to create more choice. "We should be pushing for better looking photovoltaics, instead of just the flat black photovoltaics on the roof," she said. Elsewhere in the exhibit, plenty of real world projects illustrate the show's values. An air circulation animation produced by Buro Happold Consulting Engineers of Pelli Clark Pelli's Transbay Center in San Francisco demonstrates both passive and active systems working together for temperature control and air flow (see below). A model of City College's entry for the Solar Decathlon, the so-called Rooftop Pod, is also on display. And there are several examples of adaptive reuse, including a project that Castillo worked on with Helpern Architects for Columbia's Knox Hall. To avoid rooftop disruption, the school drilled 1,800 feet into the ground for geothermal heating and cooling. It all adds up to a message that Castillo delivers with nearly evangelical fervor: "If we can reduce the energy use in buildings you wouldn’t have to build new power plants, we wouldn't need transmission lines that are loosing electricity. It we got rid of fossil fuels, we wouldn’t be shipping it around the world, we wouldn’t be polluting the gulf with oil spills. So much could be solved at building level if we really concentrated."
Shigeru Ban's Tokyo office is developing temporary housing structures for those displaced by the natural disaster in Japan, reports Archinect; click here to help support the project. Stateside, AIA president Clark Manus issues a statement encouraging U.S. architects to do all they can to support Japanese recovery efforts. The New York Times covers Forest City Ratner's plan to use prefab building components for a 34-story apartment building at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. Engineered by Arup and designed by SHoP, the units should be pretty high-end as far as modular housing goes, but construction workers argue that the prefab approach will mean less jobs. The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy trumpets the news that twelve of the master's houses are currently on the market (starting at $800k for the Arnold and Lora Jackson House in Beaver Dam, WI), via Design Crave. Acorn Media announces that the acclaimed BBC "Genius of Design" series is available on DVD. The five part documentary focuses on the highlights of industrial design throughout the twentieth century and beyond.
A major transformation of the once-industrial Hudson Square neighborhood in Lower Manhattan aims to bring pedestrian vitality to streets originally designed for delivery trucks servicing printing houses. Crain's reports that Hudson Square Connections, the local business improvement district, has selected a design group led by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects from a pool of 23 respondents to create a new streetscape to improve the area's image. Hudson Square, bounded by Greenwich Street, Houston Street, 6th Avenue, and Canal Street, is becoming increasingly residential as large art-deco buildings are converted into hip offices and dwellings. Details are currently being worked out, but a plan is expected to be in place by the end of 2011. Mathews Nielsen brings experience from nearby Hudson River Park and the pedestrianization of Times Square. The team, including Rogers Marvel Architects, Billings Jackson Design, ARUP, and Open graphic design, plans to work with the NYC Department of Transportation on the design. With such a background, it's clear that space will be reclaimed for pedestrians. Ellen Baer, president of Hudson River Connection, told Crain's, "There are very few places where people can sit and enjoy lunch here. We want to create those oases and green spaces." [ Via Crain's. ]
AN recently took a sneak peak at late night preparations for the fifth annual Canstruction LA, a charitable design competition—whose pieces are currently on display in the lobby of 5900 Wilshire Boulevard— that taps teams of architects, designers, builders and engineers to create large-scale sculptures using canned goods (and even a few water bottles) that will eventually be donated to the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank. What we found was a furor of activity, many boxes of pizza, and a bit of competitive banter among teams. “It’s like Christmas morning,” said Damian Carroll, one of the founders of Canstruction LA. The eight teams worked way past their normal office hours putting together their closely guarded designs. “You’ll see them, going to peek at the other ones and thinking, ‘What are they building? What is that thing?'” said Carroll. And how do these firms get all these cans? “You get to know the store managers really well,” said Cassandra Coffin of HKS Architects, the team that brought a yellow-skinned Despicable Me minion to life this year. This year’s awards went to: JURORS’ FAVORITE: “Can-on Picture a World Without Hunger” by Gensler and Arup
Last night CANSTRUCTION LA, organized by the Society for Design Administration, announced the winners of its 2009 competition at 5900 Wilshire Boulevard. All 60,000 cans—from anchovies to pumpkin pie filling— used to build the amazing structures will go directly to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, as will over $7,700 in donations. The structures will be on display at 5900 Wilshire through this Sunday. Check out this fantastic teaser video for the competition, which shows a clever can making its way from the supermarket to the venue. And here's a video of winning team Gensler putting together their entry. All 10 participating teams produced stellar constructions, but a few stood out. They were: JURORS FAVORITE: Gensler and Arup for "Pump-can" Pictured top, a full Thanksgiving meal in the shape of a giant, glowing, gravity-defying pumpkin. STRUCTURAL INGENUITY: Morris Architects and Walter P. Moore for "Where the Wild Cans Are" Notice the sharp teeth and claws..yikes. BEST USE OF LABELS: Perkins and Will for "Global Hunger Munny" Using label colors to demarcate world hunger trouble spots. Genius BEST MEAL: HKS for "Filling the Void" Tuna, sardines, anchovies, beans and green chiles. A light, sophisticated, protein-packed meal. HONORABLE MENTION: CO Architects for "Melt Away Hunger" How to make cans look like melting, cascading drips? Ask these architects..
On Friday, Matthew Ritchie opened his new solo show, Line Shot, at the Andrea Rosen Gallery in Chelsea. While the work is impressive as always, most notable is the installation of the newest piece of "The Morning Line," a work unveiled at the Biennale last year (we saw it first hand!) that has begun to trek around the world in different forms, popping up earlier this summer in London, which is where the above video was shot. Inspired by the Big Bang, The Morning Line is notable not only for Ritchie's typically uncanny sense of and attention to detail but also its intricacy and precision, aided in part through a partnership with ARUP's Advanced Geometry Unit, led by Daniel Bosia, and the architects Aranda/Lasch, whose Ben Aranda walks us through the project in the video below. The piece is on view through December 2, as well as after the jump.