Denver’s Union Station, a multi-modal transit hub built by architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, opened up last month. The ribbon cutting ceremony severed the notion that transportation hubs are drab, gray places that smell suspiciously of food products and cleaning chemicals. What does the Union Station Bus Concourse do differently? Everything, apparently. Its sweeping design acts as a converging point for local commuters, airport bound travelers, and out-of-city destinations. Spanning the Amtrak train tracks is an outdoor canopy built from white arch trusses. The half-moon structures swoop up to 77 feet in height before touching back down 120 feet away on the opposite side. The majestic arches offer shade and weather protection to the platforms below. The interior’s design brings in terrazzo floors, yellow glass tile work, skylights, and glass pavilions. Beyond the terminal's attention to design, the station marks a critical economic and environmental breakthrough for transit systems. "This project represents a major investment in transit-oriented development with extraordinarily far-reaching social and economic consequences," said SOM design partner Roger Duffy. "The bus concourse is the result of nearly a decade of thoughtful public consultation and bold design. Its completion helps realize this community's aspirations for a truly transformational neighborhood and landmark public project." Union Station has the capacity for 200,000 daily trips—a number that officials expect to hit by 2030. Designers hope it sets a precedent not just for transportation abilities, but acts as a beacon for other public transit structures nationwide.
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Allied Works communicates with project collaborators Arup Daylighting via SketchUp plugins.When Joe Esch, Brad Schell, and a small group of AEC and CAD industry veterans launched SketchUp nearly 13 years ago in Boulder, Colorado, many of the 3D modeling tools on the market had been developed for the entertainment industry. Google acquired the company in 2006, and Trimble bought it in 2012, yet in spite of these changes in ownership, the team has continued to develop SketchUp into an intuitive design-build program to develop sketches and 3D models for the AEC industry. With its user-accessible Ruby API (application programming interface), the generic modeling program of yesteryear has become a full-blown, application specific design tool capable of detailing architectural projects faster and cheaper than in the past. In addition to the program’s capabilities that facilitate 2D drawings and 3D models, the latest release of the software—SketchUp Pro 2013—includes a categorized selection of plugins organized within the new Extension Warehouse. According to John Bacus, product management director at Trimble for SketchUp, a study conducted several years ago revealed 45 percent of SketchUp users had used plugins, but without an organized search and retrieval system those benefits were underutilized. “There was some chaos in that world, with people writing extensions that didn’t perform particularly well,” said Bacus. A team of developers has worked to compile and format 167 extensions that have been downloaded more than 200,000 times since its release less than two months ago. Portland, Oregon–based Allied Works Architecture has embraced these specialized plugin capabilities. The firm relies heavily on SketchUp’s modeling capabilities, in addition to a regular cache of plugins. Brent Linden, director of Allied Works’ New York office, noted how the flow of programming through the buildings they design is easily made the focus within SketchUp. “Since the design process of the Clyfford Still Museum, we’ve moved away from rectilinear into curvilinear,” said Linden. “When you add curves to rectilinear order, space can continue to flow through structure and the Curviloft lofting tool made that possible for our whole team.” The extension was instrumental in developing the perforated concrete ceiling, one of the museum’s most distinguished features. Lessons learned in lighting design from the Clyfford Still Museum have also been applied to the firm’s work on the Spaulding Paolozzi Center, a new project currently underway for joint use by Clemson University and the College of Charleston. For both projects, Arup provided daylighting consulting services. “We’re trading SketchUp models of individual perforations and the span of a wall so the amount of daylight being mitigated is where we want it to be,” said Linden. “Arup first gave us a CAD file, we made a 3D model in SketchUp, and now we’re communicating through that program.” In addition to the capabilities of distinct extensions, Linden praised SketchUp for its wide adaptability across his entire team and the speed at which it can be learned. Even as new people come into the Allied Works office and introduce a host of different modeling tools, they can all find common ground in SketchUp. “On the fly, sitting as a team and walking through a 3D model, we can push and pull walls or edges, and change the way the form looks inside and out. Its speed has lent it to being an iterative design form in our process.”
The Biennial of the Americas’ 2013 exposition Draft Urbanism, headed by Colorado-based curator Cortney Stell, has rounded up the most engaging art, architecture, and film dialogues from across the Americas to turn Denver into a enormous fair. The exposition kicked off last week on July 16. Now through September 2, four full-scale architecture exhibitions will tackle important urban matters throughout downtown, where new and existing billboards, posters, and other urban signage are used to exhibit art. The public is encouraged to stop by each work and to thereby transform the city itself into a living, urban museum. The title, Draft Urbanism, refers to Denver’s reputation for craft brewing and the fact that the city is continuously transforming. In an attempt to confront the conventional idea of a biennial, which is generally limited to art and architecture, the curatorial team has incorporated speeches and panels normally coupled with conferences or symposiums. Architectural installations include:
- Mine Pavilion by Pezo von Ellrichshausen (Larimer St & Speer Blvd), a display involving several building types that render it a billboard to drivers but a tunnel to pedestrians.
- The Hotel Rehearsal by Alex Schweder (1535 Welton St), an installation depicting the automobile as an icon of suburban sprawl and the elevator as an icon of urban density.
- Skyline Cloud by plan:b arquitectos (Skyline Park between 15th & 18th Sts), a collection of matching shade structures in Skyline Park, a notoriously vacant space in spite of its central location.
- The Mirror Stages by June14 (16th St Mall between Cleveland & Court), a project surrounded by distinct socioeconomic and ethnic populations that forms a shared identity through butterflies.
Between keynote sessions, awards presentations, and interviews at the American Institute of Architects' (AIA) National 2013 Convention, AN's editors joined 20,000 attending architects in the search for the newest and most innovative products on the floor of the Colorado Convention Center's exposition hall. Following are a few notable discoveries. SureClad Porcelain Stone Crossville The Tennessee-based supplier of interior ceramics has partnered with Shackerley, a British manufacturer of porcelain ventilated facade systems, for an exterior cladding solution that meets U.S. building codes, including all seismic and hurricane standards. The system (pictured above) is supported by an aluminum frame and is delivered to job sites as a prefabricated system to ensure fast and efficient installation. SunGuard Neutral 78/65 Guardian Industries Developed to passively retain heat in colder climates, Neutral 78/65's low-E coating facilitates high visible light and a neutral color. It can be used in double- or triple-glazed units and can also be combined with any of SunGuard's other low-E coatings. AA5450 Series OptiQ Window Kawneer The new series in the OptiQ line of windows maintains thermal continuity and reduces energy transmission in both single and double hung constructions thanks to a polyamide thermal break. The 4-and-5/8-inch aluminum frame maintains a minimal profile and can be outfitted with 1-inch double pane or 1-and-1/2-inch triple pane insulated glass. OptiQ Windows are also available with expanded configurations. Benchmark Facade Systems Kingspan A fully integrated line of ventilated exterior cladding debuted at AIA 2013 and is now available from Kingspan. The company supplies a complete system of metal rails, insulated panels with a Bayer-developed polyurethane, and fastening solutions. The cladding is available in aluminum composite material (ACM), metal composite material (MCM), plate, high pressure laminate (HPL), ceramic granite, terra cotta, and thin brick, and comes in a broad range of colors. YUW 750 XTH Unitized Wall System YKK Hurricane and impact mitigating glazing for low- to mid-rise commercial buildings can be applied to multi-span curtain and single-span ribbon walls with YKK's latest addition to its ProTek portfolio. The new wall system can be specified with visible exterior face covers, a four-sided structural silicone glaze, or in a combination of both. It also boasts U-factors as low as .30.
Safer at night. Two design students at Carnegie Mellon University created a functional and graceful lighting system for bikers that enhances side visibility at night. The LED lights that line the wheel rims, are powered by pedaling and change colors depending on speed. Bloggers at Greater Greater Washington have posted a video of the lights in action. Convenient Cities. What makes a city "convenient"? According to a study published by The Street, factors include walkability, public transportation, and amenity proximity. Their city ranking, using data from Walk Score, Zillow and APTA, put Boston, New York, Denver, Portland, and Chicago at the top. Olympic Pollution. A documentary by filmmaker Faisal Abdu'Allah, Double Pendulum, examines the harmful effects of pollution on East London residents and athletes, The Guardian says. Abdu'Allah cautions that poor air quality in East London may threaten athletes' performances in the London 2012 Olympic Games. Designer Chocolates. PSFK reports that researchers in a joint program between the University of Exeter, the University of Brunel, and Delam, a software developer, have created a printer that turns 3D CAD designs into ready-made chocolates. An upcoming retail site will allow the public to upload original designs.
Wren's Dome. Some 300 years ago, Christopher Wren completed St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Now with today's modern icons transforming the city's skyline, the Telegraph pays homage to his lasting landmark amongst the new "Shards, Gherkins and distorted walkie-talkie-shaped skyscrapers." Green Mile High. The Editor-at-Large brings news that the USGBC has named Denver the "greenest" city in the United States with about 230 LEED registered or certified buildings. Two have earned LEED Platinum since 2010. Pike Park. StreetsBlog reports that construction has begun on permanent Pike Street pedestrian improvements to be completed this fall in Manhattan. The project replaces temporary materials DOT installed in 2009 to calm traffic along Pike and Allen streets. Shut Out. Reuter's has the list of the world's most (and least) livable cities ranked by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Vancouver topped the list (Harare, Zimbabwe came in last). No city in the United States managed to break into the top ten.