Posts tagged with "Atlanta":

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Marcel Breuer’s Central Library in Atlanta to be renovated and NOT demolished

Marcel Breuer's Brutalist Central Library in Atlanta lives on. At a Fulton County commissioners meeting yesterday, commissioners voted in favor of a plan to renovate the library and not demolish it, reports AJC. In April this year, The Architect's Newspaper reported on how the building's future hung in the balance. The library, which sits on 1 Margaret Mitchell Square, was subject to numerous preservation pushes, including a petition which garnered 1,899 signatures, pressure from Docomomo, and public attendance to meetings of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners and city council. At a commission meeting earlier this month, 52 out of 55 residents called for the building to remain. Even so, back in May Commissioner Marvin Arrington asked: “Why would we spend millions of dollars on land in downtown Atlanta when we already have land? We need to be investing in technology.” Having been delayed numerous times, commissioners now indicated their support for the building's preservation and adaptive reuse. The change in dialogue from demolition to preservation is something that Atlantan architect Michael Kahn believes is "testament to a changing, maturing city." Downtown Atlanta resident and architect Kyle Kessler said “We just need to make sure that the library still functions fully as a library and then whatever other space is available that can enhance the library's mission, fantastic." The plan voted for yesterday also tentatively includes $55 million for fixing-up the library, according to Creative Loafing. Certain parts have fallen into a state of decay, including broken elevators and a leaking roof. In the mid-1990s, the theater closed after part of its ceiling collapsed. Next month the Commissioners will decide how to fund the renovation as well as how much should go towards the project. In addition to the news of the library's forthcoming renovation, nonprofit Atlanta-based group Architecture and Design Center joined forces with local practice Praxis3 to generate a proposal showcasing the library's potential. Work on the scheme was coincidentally started before the idea of renovation had even entered the discourse. Their proposal essentially advocates creating a new library within Breuer's Brutalist shell. This would involve gutting more than half of the building. The group has put a price tag for the renovation between $40 and $55 million.
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Museum of Design Atlanta exhibit tracks design-as-propaganda during the Cold War

At the height of the Cold War, the phrase “winning hearts and minds” was used to promote America’s cultural and political sensibility abroad. The spirit of that era is captured in Make-Believe America: U.S. Cultural Exhibitions in the Cold War, where curator Andrew Wulf reveals how designers and politicians used the International Trade Fair as a theater for ideological propaganda. The exhibition contains artifacts, graphics, and film footage from different World’s Fairs to illustrate America’s efforts to stop communism.

At one exhibition, a geodesic dome designed by R. Buckminster Fuller encases a gray spaceship station, with star-spangled parachutes and paper planes hanging from the ceiling. In another exhibition, dangling astronauts surround a stained capsule designed by David Brody—a pointed reference to Neil Armstrong’s conquests on the moon. Overall the show presents the public with an opportunity to look into a period in history dominated by fear, optimism, and innovation.

Make-Believe America: U.S. Cultural Exhibitions in the Cold War will be at the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA), 1315 Peachtree St. Atlanta, Georgia, from until June 12, 2016.

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Rogers Partners selected to create nine-acre park over highway in Atlanta

Atlanta's Buckhead Community Improvement District (BCID) has chosen New York City-based Rogers Partners Architects+Urban Designers (Rogers Partners) to execute a vision plan and design for phase one of the Park over GA400. Buckhead is an affluent but automobile-dominated neighborhood in northern Atlanta. GA400 would cap a section of GA Highway 400 and convert it into a nine-acre park with a MARTA (rail) station: Phase one planning will work primarily on developing a schematic plan, funding, and engineering. BCID and Rogers Partners will develop project costs, analyze the site, and pursue funding. GA400's first phase is expected to cost $250,000. “This idea began several years ago during the same planning exercise that gave rise to the PATH400 Greenway, currently under construction," explained Jim Durrett, executive director of BCID, in a statement. "It took shape with the exceptional concept plan developed by Jacobs and Greenrock Partners. A signature Park over GA400 will significantly enhance and expand on-going efforts in Buckhead to add open space and public gathering opportunities.” Rogers Partners will collaborate with Charlottesville, Virginia– and New York City–based Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects (NBW) on the project, as well as design firm ASD | Sky; engineers WSP | Parson Brinckerhoff and Guy Nordenson and Associates; Perez Planning and Design; lighting designers Renfro Design Group; and sustainability experts Sherwood Design Engineers. Rogers Partners has a few major projects in the pipeline at the moment: A new pier in St. Petersburg, Florida, a redesign of both Constitution Gardens and President’s Park in Washington, D.C., and the third most popular park in Minneapolis.  
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Future uncertain for Breuer’s Central Library in Atlanta

Although Marcel Breuer's is most famous for designing the UNESCO Building in Paris and the Met Breuer (the former Whitney), the architect also designed a monumental public library in Atlanta. The future of that building, like so many Brutalist structures, is now in jeopardy.

It wasn't always this way. In the mid-1960s, attitudes towards the architect and his future building were solicitous: The then-director of the Atlanta library system was so impressed by the Whitney (completed in 1966) he urged the library board to invite Breuer to design the Central Library. After negotiating a 275-page program, and significant delays in funding, the project was completed in 1980. The six-story, 265,000-square-foot library featured a 300-seat theater, a restaurant, with space for more than 1,000 patrons and one million books. On the exterior, precast concrete panels are bush-hammered for texture, while inside, floors two through four are connected by a massive concrete staircase.

During the 2008 recession, the city asked voters to approve a $275 million bond referendum to expand two library branches, build eight new ones, and renovate others. If the county could come up with $50 million, over 30 percent of the bond could go towards…replacing the Breuer–designed library with another library.

Although critics like Barry Bergdoll have praised the structure as a perfect example of the "heavy lightness" that characterizes Breuer’s Bauhaus–influenced forms, the Brutalist aesthetic did not play well in Atlanta. Whether this indifference expressed itself through lack maintenance is difficult to determine, but the building has deteriorated, and programs have shrunk: In the mid-1990s, the theater closed after part of its ceiling collapsed while the restaurant was shuttered at the end of that decade. In 2002, the city spent $5 million to renovate the building, adding colorful walls and carpeting to improve its public perception.

As preservation petitions from groups like Docomomo attest, many municipalities struggle to preserve modern architecture, especially buildings that are seen as not user-friendly, or those that are "aesthetically challenging." Stephanie Moody, the chair of Atlanta’s library board, has asked the county to consider reallocating the funds for the central library for use at other, more popular branches. The remaining cash would be used to buy land and build a new library to replace the main branch.

Moody told local blog Creative Loafing that downtown doesn’t need a library the size of Central. County commissioner Robb Pitts framed the situation bluntly: “[Funding] would be for some renovations plus the construction of a brand new Central Library to be located in Downtown Atlanta. Period,” he said. “They’re not renovating the existing one. It’s very clear that the construction [of a new one] is what the voters called for.”

Although the building is listed on the 2010 World Monuments Watch List of Most Endangered Sites, its fate remains undecided, for now.

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Norman Foster: The quality of infrastructure determines the quality of our lives

This month, the London School of Economics (LSE) hosted its 10th annual UrbanCities debates, a forum where world leaders in the field of urbanism come together to discuss their views on the subject and its relative disciplines (mainly architecture). This year AN caught up with Design Museum curator Deyan Sujic, Norman Foster, and Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, among others for the debate. "Eighty percent of a country's total GDP is generated from urban areas," Joan Clos, executive director of Un-Habitat, said at the conference. With this, he argued that "transaction costs can be reduced by the availability of labor," supposing the labor supply is within the vicinity of the production area. For this to happen, though, urban planners must focus on the "human scale," focusing their attention on streets, not roads. "Thirty to 35 percent of urban environments are made up of streets, " Clos added. Streets, density, and pedestrianisation would be dominant themes for the debates. Norman Foster continued that theme, clearly setting a hierarchy in the built environment. "Beyond architecture, infrastructure is more important," he said. In his talk, Foster seemed to be both acknowledging his role as an architectural figurehead, but also at how his work may be seemingly powerless to solve the urban problems faced today. "The quality of infrastructure determines the quality of our lives," he added, and "infrastructure is inseparable from economic prosperity." "I have no power as an architect, none whatsoever," lamented Foster in a recent interview with the Guardian. He noted that government policy has a much bigger impact on the shape of the built environment than being an architect does. Citing the population density of the South London suburb of Southwark, Foster said how in 80 years, the density has in fact decreased from 20,550 people/km2 in 1901 to 2,232 people/km2 in 1981. Foster, building on Clos's remarks, emphasized the importance of density, with its connection to energy consumption. Using Atlanta as a tragic example of failure in this respect, he compared the sprawling U.S. city to its opposite extreme, Hong Kong, in how much the two cities differ in almost every aspect. As demonstrated in Atlanta, high density and energy consumption are negatively correlated. Needless energy is wasted in simply moving around, such as getting to work, bringing the previous conversation about proximity—or lack thereof—of the labor supply full circle. Foster clarified this need for density with a call for better public space to offset potential overcrowding. He cited the classic example from New York, saying that "Central Park [is] probably the only park built for the social good." Foster contrasted Olmsted's green space to London's parks that are just old royal hunting grounds, not actual spaces constructed on behalf of the public. Aravena was also complimentary of New York, claiming that "Manhattan is the most productive piece of of urbanism in the world." LSE Professor Ricky Burdett pointed to the flexibility of New York's built environment. "Places in NYC designed for one thing are now used for another," he said, illustrating how diverse and adaptive the city's architecture and infrastructure had become. Manhattan, bound by its physical geography, had to change over time to stay relevant. Aravena added how restraints in design can be beneficial to the process, particularly with urbanism, citing how Philadelphia was literally planned overnight by William Penn. "Time, for urbanisation, is a good restraint," Aravena said, adding that the influx of migrants into European cities could be "windows of opportunity," opening up scenarios similar to when Penn had to plan a city in very little time. Going back to Atlanta, Foster again tackled the infrastructure problem, touting High Speed Rail as an urban palliative that can take on functional and aesthetic roles as well as be used as a tourist destination. Concluding the talk, Joan Clos lamented how a "loss of identity, down to unrestricted development," where developers have too much space and so many material construction methods that have come at the cost of indigenous ones. In doing so, he posed the question: Does globalization mean the demise of the vernacular? The answer continues to play out across the globe.
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Small town receives new high-tech science facility dressed in a dynamic crystalline metal mesh veil

A total of 149 custom panels cover nearly 11,000 sq. ft. of the facade, providing a passive approach to daylighting, glare reduction, shading, and solar heat gain reduction.

The Georgia BioScience Training Center is a signature building with a dual purpose: a high-tech facility supporting research critical to bio-manufacturing that brings identity to Georgia’s growing biosciences industry. The 40,305 sq. ft. building is sited approximately 45 miles due east of Atlanta in Social Circle, "Georgia's Greatest Little Town,” and houses laboratories, classrooms, meeting rooms, and large gathering spaces. The building is organized around a large elliptical courtyard lined with glass walls. “Building planning centered on the idea of a “10 minute marketing tour” as the state will tour thousands of future 'prospect' companies through the facility,” says Nathan Williamson, Associate Principal at Cooper Carry. Williamson says the exterior courtyard doubly serves as a breakout space for large meetings and events, while drawing daylight into the training spaces. “By centralizing this natural amenity and event space, all spaces are energized by daylight while vistas create an open, highly-collaborative environment. The result is a high performance design that evokes the sophistication of 21st century bio-manufacturing.” The most striking feature of the building envelope is a large angular metal mesh veil, suspended off the building by a steel frame. Williamson notes the versatility of the aesthetic properties of the material combined with the performance of the veil as a passive solar shading device brought a significant value to the project: "We infused stainless steel into the exterior design to capture the performance benefits of shading while expressing the connections of the system which enhance the client’s brand of a decidedly hi-tech facility. The mesh is expressed independently from the orthogonal main façade with facets and plane changes to provide a dynamic, crystalline aesthetic with ever changing shadows and reflections that suggest a sense of movement." The BioScience Center’s high precision metal facade assembly is a familiar aesthetic for the high-tech students and visitors of the facility.
  • Facade Manufacturer Cambridge Architectural
  • Architects Cooper Carry - Atlanta
  • Facade Installer L&S Erectors, Inc. - Litchfield, Ohio
  • Facade Consultants Whiting-Turner – Atlanta (Construction Manager)
  • Location Social Circle, Georgia
  • Date of Completion September, 2015
  • System Rigid metal mesh panels attached to a steel frame with Clevis in tension system
  • Products “Lanier” Metal Mesh pattern, by Cambridge Architectural
The metal mesh product, named “Lanier” after nearby Lake Lanier, was developed by Cambridge Architectural as a custom solution specific to this project which has become a showcase for the architectural metal company. "We always like to be involved early in the process of any project and work with the architect once the initial design has been established,” says Matt O’Connell, Director of Operations at Cambridge Architectural. “After initial review and discussions with Cooper Carry about their vision, we conducted 3-D modeling. But the computer only goes so far, so we went through multiple specifications and mock up processes, both small and full size, to provide the right mesh fabric for the job.”  The rigid panels are fabricated as trapezoidal shapes to account for the faceted panels. When folded into place, the panels assume an orthogonal ribbon-like patterning. Cambridge developed the rigid mesh to allow for a one-directional bend. The product is suspended in tension off a rigid steel frame that allows the dimensions of the panel to be maximized with fewer intermediate supports. The result is a lightweight (1.28psf) panel with a maximum width of 10 feet, and a maximum length of 100 feet. A unique feature of Lanier is the ability to expand and contract the open area of the mesh, by removing fill wires as the pattern repeats. What results is a quality of lightness in the material - the ability to block direct sunlight while maintaining views from within the building. “We know that architects are seeking flexibility and looking for mesh choices that create a more stimulating visual appearance while providing options for varying degrees of light passage,” said Cambridge National Sales Manager David Zeitlin. “In the case of Lanier, they can even choose to expand the openness of the pattern for a single panel. We call this option Transition.” The material has been used for exterior facades, solar shading, parking garages, and interior screen walls.
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Atlanta plans to combat food deserts by hiring its first Urban Agriculture Director

Atlanta has staked a commitment on urban agriculture. The city is poised to hire its first Urban Agriculture Director this fall. Conceived by the office of Mayor Kasim Reed, the position is part of a strategy to eliminate food deserts in south and west Atlanta by promoting agriculture within the city limits. Urban food deserts are determined by a neighborhood's poverty rate, median income, and distance to groceries selling fresh produce. The USDA maintains an interactive map of food deserts, including those in Atlanta, here. Atlanta's Agriculture Director will be an advocate, consultant, policy analyst, and community liaison between gardeners and farmers and the resources they need to establish viable plots. The director will also consult on brownfield remediation, zoning and code inquiries, and any other issues surrounding access to, and use of, land. Interested candidates have until September 15th to apply for the position.
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Atlanta may be getting a nine-acre highway capping park

Atlanta, Georgia's Buckhead Community Improvement District is forging ahead with a proposal to cap the GA 400 highway with a nine-acre park that could potentially double or triple the value of surrounding neighborhoods. Spanning one third of a mile, the floating park will connect Lenox and Peachtree roads, two arterial roadways, and cap the highway and MARTA line while providing access to the Buckhead Station. Currently in the feasibility stage, the park is being designed by local firm GreenRock Partnership and global engineering giant Jacobs. If approved, the public green space will connect via crossover ramp with the PATH 400, a pedestrian and biker-friendly overpass between Old Ivy Road and Lenox Road. The addition will continue the trail through the heart of Buckhead’s commercial district and bring it closer to Lenox Square. Renderings show a park with plentiful gathering areas, restaurants, new access to MARTA Station, and even a dog park. There will also be an active green plaza at the MARTA Rail Station’s main entrance, while the MARTA bridge portal will have a dedicated food truck area. For the northernmost tip of the park, David Allman, CID Chairman, imparted visions of a small-stage performance area large enough to accommodate 4,000-7,000 people and a public art installation. Initial cost projections have totaled around $200 million, but the CID Board is committed to the project’s completion. “It’s a big, audacious project,” Allman told Buckhead View. “It could also be a dramatic game changer. It is daunting because of its size but it can turn out extraordinarily well.” Allman cites a similarly large-scale, highway-superimposing project in Dallas, the Klyde Warren Park over an interstate highway. Construction cost $110 million but the park has since attracted two million visitors in two years and increased the value of surrounding office spaces threefold. The CID bills its public-private project as “an effort to transform an unattractive, barren bridge over the GA 400 into something that reflects Buckhead’s spirit.” The initiative coincides with a spate of high-rise residential developments, collectively bringing an influx of 700-plus units. On an adjacent site, high-rise offices are also proliferating, including the Three Alliance Center and a proposed office at Tower Place.
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Eavesdrop> Broken Dreams? Bill Clinton admits he really wants to be an architect

At the 2015 AIA convention in May, former President Bill Clinton gave a keynote address to the unwashed masses. He praised collaboration among designers and other stakeholders, and even admitted that “If I had another life to live, I’d be an architect, especially in this age of climate change.” He is not the only president to speak of a childhood dream of designing buildings. President Obama said in a 2008 campaign speech that he also had aspirations to be an architect as a youngin’. We’re just glad these heads of states didn’t opt for fireman.
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City of Atlanta seeks designs for an artistic pavilion along the Atlanta BeltLine

The City of Atlanta has announced a competition for the design of an outdoor cultural pavilion for prominent display on the Westside trail of the Atlanta BeltLine. The BeltLine is the most comprehensive transportation and economic development ever undertaken by the City of Atlanta, and among the largest urban redevelopment programs in the US, providing affordable workforce housing, brownfield remediation, public art, and historic preservation. The National Pavilion Design Competition seeks designs for the second pavilion in a series of small, multi-purpose artistic pavilions occupying green spaces along the BeltLine as part of the Art on the Atlanta BeltLine program, which represents the South’s largest outdoor temporary art exhibition. The culture-conscious platform engages hundreds of artists to display visual and performing arts in the parks and along the trails of the BeltLine. The pavilion’s prospective location at the intersection of the Westside trail and Allene Avenue poises it to become an iconic landmark for the Adair Park community and its surrounding historic neighborhood. In the spirit of fostering community gathering, the Atlanta BeltLine is also seeking designs for a permanent performance space at Adair Park. Design-wise, the facility should represent the quality art and architecture which the BeltLine strives to embody. The competition is seen to straddle the fields of art, architecture, landscape architecture, and the pedestrian experience, as well as provide a catalyst for economic development. “This competition demonstrates that small yet exceptional design can offer huge benefits for Atlanta communities,” said Melody Harclerode, President of AIA Atlanta and manager of the National Pavilion Design Competition. The only eligibility requirement is that an individual or team member be a licensed architect holding active AIA membership. The first place winner stands to receive a $10,000 cash prize, while a $5,000 and $3,000 prize are up for grabs for the second and third place winners respectively. The competition represents a partnership between AIA Atlanta, Atlanta BeltLine Inc., and the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.
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Munching on air pollutants: Would you eat these meringues made from the smog you breathe every day?

How do you coax city slickers to really take notice of air pollution? Start selling meringues, of course. At this year's Ideas City festival in New York City, the Center for Genomic Gastronomy set up a "Smog Tasting" food cart introducing aeroir (a play on terroir for the atmospheric taste of place) meringues infused with recreated urban smog from four cities. Riffing off the fact that egg foam is composed of 90 percent air, the Center’s experiment stemmed from the question of whether batter, which captures air when whipped, could also trap air pollutants. “Smog Tasting grew out of this idea of using food as a biosensor...Perhaps this could be a way of calling attention to the problem,” Zackary Denfield, cofounder at the Center for Genomic Gastronomy, told Fast Company. The meringues were made in small smog chambers the team had designed and fabricated under the advisement of researchers at the University of California Riverside, which trapped grime and chemicals in the egg-white-and-sugar mixture. The four less-than-tantalizing recipes included the “classic London peasouper,” a sampling of the Los Angeles atmosphere circa 1950, air from a present-day air-quality warning event in Atlanta, and California’s Central Valley agricultural smog, the latter a carcinogenic cocktail of ammonia and amines from feedlot manure lagoons and other organic waste. Scientists formed each smog type by mixing different chemical precursors and “baking” them under UV light. The result was a slightly yellowish dessert which imparted a noxious aftertaste initially masked by the sugar. “Most people ask ‘Is it safe to eat?’ and we reply ‘Is it safe to breathe?’” Denfield said. “We think that when people are laughing they are thinking, and we get a lot of nervous laughter.” According to the Center, capturing smog in edible form transforms the “unconscious” process of breathing into the “visceral” act of eating. Inspiring disgust is one way of garnering attention. Conceptualized in 2012 by college students in Bangalore, the project was introduced in May to health ministers and World Health Organization delegates in Geneva. Its showing in New York City by the Center for Genomic Gastronomy in collaboration with the Finnish Cultural Institute of New York was part of the Center’s larger scheme of examining the health implications of where our food is sourced. In a post on their dedicated blog, Edible Geography, the Center wrote that according to scientists the Center had consulted with, the human digestive system is better-equipped to catalyze chemicals than the respiratory system.
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Two outdated Atlanta bridges get a major design redo thanks to these winning design teams

Winners of the Atlanta Bridgescape Competition were announced last week at the AIA Conference that was held in the city. The competition, launched earlier this year, asked multidisciplinary teams to reimagine two of Atlanta’s outdated bridges with a budget of about $3 million. Hometown designers Max Neiswander and Luke Kvasnicka won with (sin)uosity, their plan to remake Midtown’s 10th Street Bridge with plantings, fresh bike lanes, and a curving, ribbed shell. Roger DeWeese, head of the Atlanta-based Peachtree Architects, also earned top honors with Organic Canopy, a vision to top Courtland/McGill Bridge with a geodesic dome–like structure. This plan actually won twice as it was selected by the competition's blind jury and the general public through the People's Choice Award. The other People's Choice Award went to Green City Spectator by the Poland-based KAMJZ Architects along with ARUP. Perhaps the most adventurous design, this scheme tops the bridge with what appears to be farming areas, and also has a zigzagging structure similar to to HNTB's vision for Los Angeles’ 6th Street Viaduct. “Competitions are about vision and big ideas,” said competition manager Tony Rizzuto, Chair in the Department of Architecture at Kennesaw State University, in a statement. "They have the potential to take us out of our comfort zone to see possibilities we never imaged. They provide a catalyst for discourse on public space and promote the pursuit of better design.” The ideas-centered competition was sponsored by Central Atlanta Progress, Midtown Alliance, and the Atlanta chapter of the AIA.