Posts tagged with "Florida":

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Federal government shuts down self-driving school bus program in Florida

The dreams of a fully autonomous school bus are on hold for a little while longer, at least in Babcock Ranch, Florida. On October 19, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ordered a complete halt to the self-driving school bus program in the Florida town, which had been transporting kids to-and-from school along a three-block stretch. Transdev North America had been operating the Easy Mile EZ10 Gen II shuttle as part of a two-month pilot program within the fully solar-powered, tech-forward community. The shuttle, which seats 12 and included a human supervisor ready to take over in case the “bus” encountered an unexpected obstacle, has a top speed of 8-miles-per-hour and was programmed to brake automatically. The bus was just one part of Transdev’s initiative to launch a network of autonomous shuttles (AVs) across North America, with Babcock Ranch as a testing ground. While the shuttle never picked up more than five students at a time, only operated one day a week during the five-week trial period, and only picked up and dropped off passengers in designated areas, the NHTSA didn’t mince words, calling the shuttle “unlawful.” According to the NHTSA, Transdev had only been granted permission to import their shuttles as demonstration vehicles and not to transport children. "Innovation must not come at the risk of public safety," said Heidi King, NHTSA Deputy Administrator, in a press release.  "Using a non-compliant test vehicle to transport children is irresponsible, inappropriate, and in direct violation of the terms of Transdev’s approved test project." While the NHTSA claims it wasn't informed about Transdev’s plans to use one of its shuttles to ferry students, the pilot program had been written about extensively and Transdev released several promotional videos touting their self-driving bus. Transdev, for its part, claims to have discussed the school bus shuttle with the NHTSA but that they had never received a letter asking them to stop operating it, and that they voluntarily shut down the program. The company also claims that every safety precaution was taken and that the shuttle was only operated along quite private roads. In its own release, Transdev states that “This small pilot was operating safely, without any issues, in a highly controlled environment. Transdev believed it was within the requirements of the testing and demonstration project previously approved by NHTSA for ridership by adults and children using the same route.” Whether the shutdown was over a miscommunication or because Transdev demonstrably overstepped its certification remains to be seen.
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What can we learn from the house that survived Hurricane Michael?

Amidst the destruction wreaked by Hurricane Michael on the 1,200-person town of Mexico Beach, Florida, one house emerged from the 155-mph winds relatively unscathed. As the New York Times reported, the 3-story house built by Dr. Lebron Lackey and his uncle Russell King was the only one remaining on his beachfront block and one of the few left standing in the flattened landscape of the Florida Panhandle town. The house, ironically dubbed the "Sand Castle" and designed by architect Charles A. Gaskin, was completed just this year. Florida windstorm code for this part of the state requires houses to be built for 120-mph winds, but the Sand Castle was designed for 240 to 250-mph winds. The entire house was built on top of 40-foot-tall pilings to allow for storm surge, and its walls are made of poured concrete reinforced by rebar, with steel cables throughout the structure and extra concrete reinforcing the house's corners. Rather than privilege window views, an expected feature of a vacation home, the number of window openings was limited and the roof overhang was minimized, thus reducing the risk of winds lifting the entire roof off. Lackey told CNN that other features that he and his uncle had originally wanted, like a balcony, were also discouraged by their engineer. In the end, the damage sustained by the house was the loss of an outdoor stair, which, along with the siding covering it, was designed to tear off without harming the rest of the building. The ground floor pavers and entryway features were also ripped away, along with a window and a heating unit, and water damage is evident in the building, according to the house's Facebook page. But, as Lackey and King told the Times, these repairs are estimated to take a month. This is far from the case for the rest of the town, which took the hardest hit from the storm and has lost many of its older structures, built before the 2002 code was put into place. Still, for most of Mexico Beach, a largely working-class community, the cost of hurricane-proofing the way that Lackey and King did would have been prohibitive. The measures implemented in the Sand Castle home double the cost of construction per square foot, according to the architect. The quiet town, which has eschewed major waterfront development and prohibited structures taller than five stories, now faces the hard task of rebuilding or making the painful choice to leave the area entirely. The long road to recovery raises the familiar questions that Hurricanes Andrew, Irma, and Harvey have also provoked in recent years. Those who rebuilt after Irma, for instance, have had a hard time finding enough experienced contractors to rebuild to code and local inspectors to check their work, with many still waiting for FEMA assistance and insurance payouts. With FEMA's budget cut by $10 million and transferred to ICE this summer, the path ahead might be even longer. For architects, their role in designing homes that can withstand extreme weather events is perhaps more urgent than ever. Last year, of the roughly 800,000 single-family homes that were built, only 8 percent had concrete frames, a feature that would help them withstand such weather conditions. In ten years, only about 8,000 homes have met the insurance industry standard for a roof that wouldn't leak or tear off during a hurricane. Homeowners may understand the importance of building resilient homes, but the incentive for developers is much lower. Scaling up the innovations for resilient new construction while keeping them affordable is perhaps the field's greatest challenge.
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Massive development aims to transform Tampa's downtown and waterfront

New images for Tampa’s largest mixed-use project were recently revealed, illustrating the city’s intense investment into its waterfront and downtown core. Water Street is a $3 billion, 50-acre mixed-use waterfront district covering 16 city blocks on Hillsborough Bay. The project is being developed by Strategic Property Partners (SPP), a joint venture from Jeffrey Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team, and Cascade Investment, run by Microsoft founder Bill Gates. The design team includes Cambridge-based Reed Hilderbrand working in conjunction with Boston-based Elkus Manfredi Architects for the project’s landscape architecture and master plan, respectively. Engineering firm Stantec is responsible for infrastructure and roadway improvements. Like other U.S. cities in the post-industrial era, Tampa largely ignored its former industrial waterfront for the majority of the late 20th century, instead focusing on building highways, surface parking lots, and structures that ultimately cut off the water from city residents. Tampa’s lack of a cohesive downtown identity has been an issue that has plagued the city and is one of the main issues that SPP is aiming to resolve with Water Street. It’s an ambitious project. If successful, Water Street will become the world’s first WELL-certified community, which sets new standards for design as a means for well-being and health through elements like daylighting and air quality. A centralized district cooling facility will be built to serve all the buildings in Water Street, opening up rooftops to have more space for greenery and/or active amenity spaces. Water Street also intends to be LEED Neighborhood Development (ND) certified, which was created to shape more sustainable and well-connected neighborhoods. Once completed, there will be two million square feet of office space, 3,500 new residencies, one million square feet of new retail, cultural, educational, and entertainment space, and two new hotels. Two projects are already underway: a JW Marriott hotel and a $164.7 million University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute. Tampa is investing heavily into its waterfront edge in an effort to revitalize and reconnect its downtown. An estimated $13 billion will be spent on development in the Tampa Bay area, according to a Dodge Data & Analytics report, and the most ambitious project is Water Street. The massive investment is an indicator not only of the city’s push to attract companies and young people, but also of the city's desire to unite its neighborhoods, including the existing Central Business District and surrounding neighborhoods of Harbour Island and the Channel District. For the past two years, construction teams have been working to create walkable and bikeable streets that eschew the traditional city street grid, redefining Tampa’s downtown into a walkable, pedestrian-friendly area. “Our plan for Water Street Tampa builds on decades of insights into what makes city neighborhoods work, working within the context of a modern lifestyle in Tampa,” said James Nozar, CEO of SPP. By developing in an underdeveloped area that has no connection to the waterfront, “we’re filling the hole in the middle of the doughnut,” he said to The New York Times. Once completed, the developers estimate that more than 23,000 people will live, work, dine, and visit Water Street. The first phase is meant to open in 2021, but the expected completion date is still a ways off in 2027.  
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The nation's largest mall is coming to Miami

On May 7, the largest mall in the country received approval from the Miami-Dade county planning board. The approximately 500-acre project, dubbed The American Dream Miami, is led by Canadian developer, Triple Five. The $4 billion, 6-million-square-foot entertainment center’s design includes features such as an artificial ski slope, an indoor water park, and submarine rides. Located 200 miles from Disney World, the American Dream is hoping to provide a competitive alternative in closer proximity to southern Floridians. Ringed by the I-75, the Florida Turnpike, and a band of palm trees, Triple Five’s design rises as a singular mass punctured by high-rise glass hotels, rooftop components and undulating glass skylights. However, according to the Sun Sentinel, scores of malls in the area oppose the project as it threatens to inundate an already saturated retail complex market. Located over five miles from the nearest Metrorail stop, the Miami Herald reports that the developer has agreed to invest in its own bus depot and fund the extension of preexisting bus lines to The American Dream. Regardless of this transit overture, the sprawling complex will be highly reliant on the adjacent I-75 and Florida’s Turnpike to accommodate the estimated 100,000 daily vehicle trips generated by visitors and employees. Although malls across the country are closing shop, Triple Five is also moving forward with a 3 million square-foot entertainment complex in East Rutherford, Jersey. In total, these two new projects will bring Triple Five’s portfolio up to four locations, including Bloomington, Minnesota’s Mall of America  which currently holds the title for the third largest mall in America. While Triple Five has received approval from the county planning board, the developer still has to secure new zoning variances, additional financing and propose storm water runoff infrastructure. The project will be subject to a final vote on May 17.
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Jacksonville Jaguars will get a master-planned neighborhood by Beyer Blinder Belle

The Jacksonville Jaguars, a team known for their less-than-stellar record, are going big on their home turf. At their April 19th State of the Franchise event, the team announced that they would be partnering with local firm Iguana Investments (run by Jaguars owner Shad Khan) and national developer The Cordish Companies to realize a $2.5 billion, 4.25-million-square-foot mixed-use neighborhood around their Jacksonville, Florida stadium, master-planned by Beyer Blinder Belle. The proposal to redevelop the area around the Jaguars’ EverBank Field, the formerly-industrial Jacksonville Shipyards, is an expansion of the team’s plans first presented during the 2017 State of the Franchise. It also marks the second time that Khan has won the right to build in the area after the city’s Downtown Investment Authority scuttled Iguana’s original plans for the site in 2016. The Jaguar’s latest plan seeks to tie the downtown Shipyards to the rest of the city. To do that, the development team wants to drop a new neighborhood on the waterfront. The proposal would bring office space, a “Live!” arena (Live! is used to brand Cordish venues), dining options, a hotel tower, a parking garage to offset the loss of the lots, and “luxury residential living” on top of the parking lots between the stadium and the St. John’s River. While it’s early on in the development cycle, the renderings show a suite of towers clustered around the stadium, including a hotel building on the waterfront at least 15 stories tall. However, the Jaguars may face a host of hurdles in building out the Shipyards. The project is slated to break ground on Lot J, the stretch between the Populous-designed Daily’s Place amphitheater and a detention pond to the west. The lot’s top four feet of soil is contaminated with petroleum from the site’s manufacturing past and currently capped with a clay wall and asphalt. Any digging in the area would need to be preceded by environmental remediation, and the sitemap released on Thursday leaves out the most heavily polluted sections of the Shipyards. Complicating things further is that both the northern and southern sections of the site present their own set of challenges. Building to the north would mean getting approval from the city government and the military community to relocate a Veterans Memorial Wall to a new Veterans Park along the waterfront. Developing the southern portion towards the river would mean potentially tearing down an elevated ramp at the adjacent Hart Bridge, which would also require action by the city. The project has been designed as a public-private partnership, but it remains to be seen how much the public will be paying for it. It’s uncertain when construction will begin and how long it will require, but as Cordish Companies Vice President Blake Cordish told Jacksonville.com, “Completing full build-out could take a generation.”
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New renderings released for Adjaye Associates' Florida library

 Last year, a small Florida city commissioned David Adjaye to design a new public library and venue. Now, Winter Park has released new renderings and schematic designs for the building, whose upside-down-lopped-off-pyramidal massing resembles the London architect's acclaimed design for the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.

The new images are more detailed than the collaged ones that debuted last November. Here, the new, 50,000-square-foot facility is depicted with its cast concrete panel cladding that will be painted with a to-be-determined color (current renderings depict an ochre facade). Included in the footprint is a 8,500-square-foot civic center, as well as a parking garage for 200 vehicles. In the two-story library, a central spiral staircase will connect the two floors. At the events center, a spiral stair will connect the venue with the rooftop cafe.

Adjaye's firm, Adjaye Associates, is collaborating with Florida's HuntonBrady Architects on the project, which will supplant Winter Park's civic center.

The library is slated to cost around $30 million, but features like a rooftop venue over the events center could be included if fundraising efforts are a success, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The city is hoping to okay the move to design development at its meeting next week.

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New mural honors the late Vincent Scully in Seaside, Florida

When architecture historian Vincent Scully died in December at age 97, the field mourned the loss of a giant. After all, this was a man with a six-decade career at Yale, whom Philip Johnson once deemed “the most influential architecture teacher ever.” Now, there's a new monument to his honor in a community indelibly shaped by his principles. With a wide-ranging career that inspired Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk's explorations of New Urbanism, it's fitting that the thinker is now memorialized in Seaside, Florida, one of the first planned communities based on the philosophy. An early supporter of the plan, Scully taught Duany and Plater-Zyberk, as well as other notables who would go on to build in Seaside, including Alexander Gorlin and Robert A.M. Stern. To honor his impact on this seaside town, a new mural was dedicated this weekend, during Seaside Prize festivities. The piece was painted by internationally known street artist Gaia (the nome d'arte of Baltimore-based muralist Andrew Pisacane), who was selected for the commission by architect and urbanist Dhiru Thadani, a former Seaside Prize winner. Gaia's design features a portrait of the academic alongside an image of the Acropolis from the cover of The Earth, the Temple, and the Gods, all taking a pride of place on a purple wall in the center of town, near a generous open square—naturally.
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Cloud-inspired playscape opens at Fort Lauderdale airport

  Harvard Graduate School of Design–based architect Volkan Alkanoglu recently completed work on a new 2,000-square-foot cloud-inspired playscape installation at the Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport (FLL) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The playscape takes after Verner Panton’s Visiona 2 installation from 1970, also postulating an ethereal multi-sensory fantasy landscape, this one filled with pint-sized bubbly geometries and rounded nooks and crannies that can be occupied, climbed over, and enjoyed by traveling children of all ages. For the airport installation, Alkanoglu and his team naturally drew inspiration from the clouds—“fluffy, airy, white cushions [that] simply resemble a picturesque landscape,” according to a press release—that kids can see from the airplane cabin. Ultimately, Alkanoglu has designed an obstacle course from these “sublime formations,” a playscape that can be experienced safely on the ground while waiting to board a flight. The installation is made up of four cloud pods that contain integrated benches, a slide, and climbable stepped elements, among other features. The pods are constructed from ¾”-thick, Fire 1–rated Medite, a type of medium-density fiberboard, colored in white automotive paint and finished in clear polyurethane. The play areas sit atop a two-inch poured-in-place slab made of rubberized flooring material and are lit from above using recessed lighting from Louis Poulsen. The project was commissioned by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners’ Cultural Division and is located along a mezzanine level in Terminal 1 at FLL.
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Weiss/Manfredi master plan for Irma-damaged arts campus in Naples is revealed

After Naples, Florida-based arts organization Artis—Naples initially revealed its ambitious, Weiss/Manfredi-designed master plan earlier last year, the pounding Florida took from Hurricane Irma forced the arts group to alter their plans. Today the arts group released details of how its $150-million master plan lays out the Kimberly K. Querrey and Louis A. Simpson Cultural Campus, and a timetable for repairing the damage from Irma. The 99,000-square-foot campus is currently home to the Naples Philharmonic and the Baker Museum, which has been closed since September 6th as a result of water damage, and a handful of smaller arts buildings. With a goal of turning site’s tangle of impermeable parking surfaces into activity space, the heart of the new master plan lays in a set of ascending terraces at the campus’s core. The landscaped steps will also act as a “dynamic, outdoor space,” according to Artis–Naples. The surrounding interiors will also be revamped to better suit performances, learning areas, and social interaction spaces, all of which will look out on the new green spaces and elevated sculpture gardens. Most striking is the proposed visitor’s plaza, will rise up and give guests a view of the nearby Gulf of Mexico. Implementing the master plan and necessary renovations are part of Artis–Naples’ Future—Forward Campaign for Cultural Excellence, which is also responsible for raising the required $150 million. At the time of writing, $50 million has been raised, $40 million of which has come from the Artis—Naples’ Board of Directors. The campaign is now kicking off and $25 million has been set aside for the first phase’s capital projects, including repairs to the Baker Museum. The campus expansion will initially start in the south and include a redesign of the Baker Museum’s façade and entrance areas to make it more accessible. The façade replacing it will be built from natural stone, and the second floor will cantilever over a glassy, hurricane-resistant ground floor space on the building’s east side. The master plan was shaped in part by a public forum held on March 9th, where Weiss/Manfredi took public input on how best to shape the campus. As Artis–Naples is still fundraising, an exact timetable for the project’s completion is uncertain, though they hope to have the museum open by 2019.
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Florida's Brightline makes private, high-speed transit a reality

The United States, let alone Florida, is not known for its widely accessible and comprehensive regional mass transit networks. Bucking this trend, on January 15, the state inaugurated Brightline, a private passenger rail between the cities of West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale that shaves 30 minutes off the time required by car. While the distance between the two cities is not great, with the train journey taking just 40 minutes, the Brightline has reintroduced private commuter rail to the United States for the first time in decades. Although Brightline currently only operates between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, it is slated to expand to Miami and Orlando by 2020, utilizing 240 miles of track carving through densely populated Southeastern Florida. While not part of the current proposal, All Aboard Florida has suggested that Tampa and Jacksonville could be linked to the Brightline network. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Zyscovich Architects are designing the stations located in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach. All of the stations share a material palette and design aesthetic, while conforming to their individual environments. At the cost of $3.1 billion, Brightline promises to transform commuting between Miami and Orlando to a relatively minimal 3 hours, taking an hour off the drive time. According to Next City, the new rail service could take upwards of 3 million cars off of South Florida roads, with the potential to capture up to 20 percent of travel between the two cities, two of the most visited cities in the United States. The introductory fare between West Palm and Fort Lauderdale is $10, a bargain considering the amenities aboard the train, which include leather seats, free WiFi, power outlets and bike racks. As reported by USA Today, the Brightline will prove operationally profitable if it captures just 2 percent of the 100 million annual trips between Miami and Orlando. Fortress Investment Group, the parent company of the Brightline, is hedging that its investment in new transit hubs will increase property values surrounding stations as well as revenue generated by real estate development. Forrest Investment Group is already building more than 800 high-priced rentals at its Miami station and close to 300 in West Palm, in tandem with new skyscrapers dedicated to commercial and retail functions. While Brightline is based in Florida, its model of privately-funded and operated high-speed rail is replicable across the country. According to Modern Cities, Brightline is considering implementing its concept in similar urban corridors to those in Southeastern Florida, with the possibility of new links between Atlanta and Charlotte or Houston and Dallas. With the Trump administration’s recently leaked draft infrastructure plan emphasizing financially independent public transport systems, Brightline could prove to be a successful model for expanding rail service to millions of Americans while spurring high-density development in sprawl-ridden metropolitan areas.
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Renderings revealed for Foster + Partner's PGA TOUR headquarters

Foster + Partners has revealed plans for the new PGA TOUR headquarters near Jacksonville, Florida today. The 187,000-square-foot, neo-Modernist structure is slated for an undeveloped corner of the PGA TOUR's Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida's property. The office building will consolidate 750 employees who are now scattered throughout the Ponte Vedra Beach and St. Augustine area when it's complete in 2020. The PGA TOUR, which hosts golf tournaments all over the world, could accomodate several hundred more workers at the new headquarters if necessary.

"As we strive to reach an increasingly diverse, more global fanbase and position the PGA TOUR for future success, we must be equipped to meet the ever-changing landscape in international business, media and technology," said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan, in a press release. "Moving forward with this beautiful new global home in Ponte Vedra Beach will allow for more creative, efficient collaboration among our staff and partners, and will set us on the right path toward achieving our goals as an organization."

It being Florida, Foster + Partners' building is designed to let in maximum sunlight. A central atrium surrounds the building's two parallel, three-story bays, which are glazed from floor to ceiling. Those bays will be connected by 20-foot-wide bridges, which, the London firm hopes, will encourage employee mingling and co-working without obstructing traffic in the core. Flexible workspaces are also located on the terraces around the atrium and on the periphery of the upper floors. According to the PGA TOUR, a freshwater lake surrounding the structure will, "[echo] the iconic ‘Island Green’ 17th hole from THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass." The roof, meanwhile, will sport five skylights and hosts photovoltaic panels that will supply the structure with energy (the architects are going for a LEED Gold rating). The mercury rarely dips below freezing in Ponte Vedra Beach, so they won't have to worry about falling icicles, either. 
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Now's your chance to live in a Jimmy Buffett–themed retirement community

Attention, Parrotheads: The furnished model homes of the first Jimmy Buffett–inspired retirement community are nearing completion. The nearly $1 billion development, called Latitude Margaritaville in homage to the famous Buffett ballad, is located in sunny Daytona Beach, Florida. Sited west of the city center between I-95 and LGPA Boulevard, the community is marketed as the perfect retirement enclave for those who crave resort-style living, replete with on-site restaurants, live entertainment, and general tropical vibes. In total, the development promises to build 6,900 beach-bash bungalows for seniors who aren’t quite ready to retire from the raucous yacht rock life. For quieter residents, the on-site private beach club will be a place to “kick off your flip-flops, frolic in the surf and chill in the shade of the cool cabana.” Minto Communities and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Holdings are developing the project. Houses available are marketed in three categories: the Caribbean, Beach and Island collections, with prices ranging from $235,990 to $358,990. While the square-footage of the homes differ, the nine model homes all feature similar design traits like prominent driveways and garages, sunken entryways topped with Italianate towers, hipped roofs with exposed eaves, multiple gables, and drop-side wooden paneling. If the senior housing search in Daytona Beach proves too competitive, check out the Latitude Margaritaville in Hilton Head, South Carolina, which will encompass over 2,700 acres as well as a 72-acre, 290,000-square-foot “festive retail center.”