Posts tagged with "Gensler":

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Denver's airport additions aims high, but the city needs more than one-off showcase projects

On April 22, the city of Denver inaugurated the Denver International Airport Transit Center, a commuter rail terminal that anchors the previously completed Westin hotel. The transit center provides Denver with a key piece of infrastructure (not to mention a signifier of ambition and status) while finally completing a plan that was over 20 years in the making.

In the transit center and associated hotel, Gensler’s steady hand has provided Denver with a handsome, if unexceptional, addition to the airport. Few designs, including Calatrava’s original proposal, could match the tectonic celebration that is the original Fentress Architects–designed terminal. However, Gensler carefully crafted a piece of architecture that is deferential to the unique and timelessly beautiful structure, while humbly presenting its own attractive qualities. From the catenary swoop of the Westin roof to the well-executed structural canopies interpenetrating it, this is a project that aspires to deliver great design in spite of the city’s traditionally conservative approach to architecture.

The transit center suffers from a common problem in Denver projects: an uneven approach to landscape. Denver-based landscape architects Valerian and studioINSITE provided a variety of landscaped spaces, but it seems that only those that are inaccessible and visible from afar are attractive. The crux of the project—the plaza between the new hotel and the existing terminal hall through which passengers pass when moving from the train station to the airport terminal—is a drab beige and lifeless expanse of brick pavers and an insult to the original terminal and the aspirations of this new addition.

 

 

A major component was the procurement of a wide variety of public art and its integration with the architectural and landscape design. In most cases, such as Patrick Marold’s Shadow Array, it supplements the design in a harmonious and aesthetically pleasing way. In the grand public plaza, however, Ned Kahn’s kinetic artwork only adds to the lifeless melancholia, making the traveler wish for a patch of swaying greenery, which, ironically, Kahn’s piece is supposed to evoke.

Denver’s new train line is anchored by exceptional architecture on both ends (SOM’s canopy at Union Station is a symphony of structure and simplicity), as well as generally impressive pieces of monumental public art at every station. Yet the project is being used to justify and support the unsustainable suburban sprawl slowly creeping eastward. The city has focused on the financial impact of additional airport hotels and conference centers being developed at the Peña Boulevard station, but one must wonder what value they add to Denver’s culture and what environmental and social debt we have incurred by supporting their construction. Not all commuters and visitors will use transit, and the burdens of commuting weigh unevenly on the most marginalized and financially strained citizens among us.

If the city does intend to stitch together the thirty mile gap between central Denver and the airport with new development, we should aim higher than lifeless beige boxes surrounded by parking lots in spite of the transit line just feet away. Conversely, while central Denver’s Union Station and the adjacent train canopy provide viable anchors for downtown revitalization, they are hemmed in and overpowered by ramparts of beige stucco and cement siding. Marketing materials for both the transit center and Union Station have championed the economic impact of the development they will spur, which is no doubt important, but architecture aspires to be measured by more than function and economic effect.

Just as the design of this new hotel and transit center ignores the spaces that knit the project together with the past, so has Denver ignored the workaday spaces that compose the majority of the city. City government (and, by extension, the voters) seem to believe that no matter how dismal the majority of urban infill is (or how unsustainable development in an empty field is), they can drop a Libeskind, Graves, or Calatrava in the middle of it and somehow lend Denver the cultural and aesthetic capital they feel it should have. The overlooked projects that make up the urban fabric have been so thoroughly neglected—in form and execution and analysis and criticism—that the city lacks the cultural vocabulary necessary to articulate what is off about its built environment. Like many American cities, Denver is struggling with its low zoning density, huge numbers of cars, uncultivated aesthetic standards, and particularly oppressive height restrictions. Projects like Denver International Airport’s Hotel and Transit Center (and the larger FasTracks regional transit initiative) are but the germ of a solution.

One attractive project alone cannot chart a new course for architectural and urban design in the city. Denver is blessed with many of the ingredients necessary for a sophisticated and expressive regional modernism to flourish: a native population that cherishes the city, a steady stream of immigrants, a strong environmental consciousness, plentiful local materials, robust building trades, advanced manufacturing and fabrication, and a unique climate. What the city requires is an elevated discourse around architecture and urbanism that goes beyond a limited number of showcase projects and is fostered by the same degree of cultural investment and education that Denver has put into its public art program and economic development initiatives—the results of which speak for themselves.

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Gensler to design the interiors of the new Golden State Warriors arena

Architecture firm Gensler has won the commission to design the interior of the Chase Center, which will be located in the firm's native city of San Francisco. The arena, which will be constructed in the Mission Bay area, will host the home matches of the Golden State Warriors in time for the 2019-20 NBA season. Collaborating with Kansas City-based firm MANICA Architecture, who produced proposals for the arena's exterior, Gensler will fit out the 18,000-capacity stadium's concourses, clubs, suites, administrative offices, home and visiting locker rooms, as well as other visitor facilities such as concession areas, sponsor zones, a team store, and retail spaces. The Chase Center aims to create a new 11-acre district that will offer other amenities including restaurants, cafes, offices, and public plazas that aren't otherwise easy to find in the area. A new five-and-a half-acre public waterfront park will be built nearby; the Chase Center itself will have connections to a major Muni Metro rail line and the BART system. Once built, the arena is set to be the "only privately-financed facility of its kind built on private property in the modern era." "Gensler is a perfect fit for Chase Center, bringing both incredible local experience and extensive global expertise to our project—and, of course, a track record of architectural excellence," said Stephen Collins, Chief Operating Officer of Chase Center in a press release. "We want an arena that is a reflection of the Bay Area, but also a stand-out in the world of sports and entertainment. Gensler will help us achieve that mission." "Gensler is excited to join the current design team on such a significant project as Chase Center," said Gensler Sports Principal-in-Charge, Ron Turner, FAIA. "When complete, this will be a showpiece for the NBA, the Warriors, and the Bay Area, so helping to achieve this will be a distinct pleasure for our group."
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Gensler given the green light for new Del Mar College campus

San Francisco firm Gensler's proposal for the new 96 acre Del Mar College campus in Corpus Christi, Texas has been given the official go-ahead. The campus will be located in the city’s Southside on the corner of Yorktown Boulevard and Rodd Field Road.

A timeline and funding for the scheme hasn't yet been established. However, planning for the project is due to total $1.8 million, financed from a bond package which was given voter approval in 2014. According to the Caller Times, officials have said a “funding source to build the campus will likely be in the hands of voters.”

Last year the college saw more than 24,000 students take part in credit and continuing education courses. "What we have is an opportunity to enlarge theses programs,” Del Mar’s vice president of Workforce Development and Strategic Initiatives Lenora Keas said. She also reiterated the necessity for the college’s expansion, saying that the courses offered are almost at capacity. Enrollment numbers for workforce and continuing education courses have witnessed growth of 76 percent over the last five years. "The demand is there like never before," said Escamilla.

Continuing education courses would be offered at the new campus—which would serve up to 20,000 students—as well as engineering, computer science, hospitality and architecture, among others.

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Upgrades to Ford Foundation Building are approved

On April 19, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) approved the $190 million renovation to the Ford Foundation Building at 320 East 43rd Street. The building, designed by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates with its iconic atrium by designer Dan Kiley, has been largely untouched since it was completed in 1967. In 1997, the LPC designated the exterior, atrium glass walls, and garden of the foundation headquarters as official landmarks. The new upgrades are mostly focused on bringing the building up to code and will be conducted by Gensler with Bill Higgins of Higgins Quasebarth & Partners as consultants, while Raymond Jungles Studio will handle the plantings.

This undertaking will include doubling conference space and dedicating two floors to other nonprofit organizations, creating a new visitors center, art gallery, and public event spaces, and reducing Ford’s own office area by one-third.

Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, said, “This means more accessibility for people with disabilities; [and a place that is] more open to visitors and the public, including a visitors center and art gallery; more open to our colleagues and sister institutions through expanded meeting facilities; and a more open working environment for our own staff to encourage collaboration and reduce hierarchy.”

However, at the presentation in April, commissioners and Historic District Council (HDC) director of advocacy and community outreach Kelly Carroll had reservations. Carroll pointed out that many of the buildings the HDC reviews have little evidence of their former glory, while the Ford Foundation still retains its original brass doors, planters, modernist tile pavers, and signature indoor-outdoor flow—a rare gift. “An approval [to remove features] today can easily be a regret a generation from now,” she said. In particular, she voiced concerns over removing planters—which are currently ADA compliant—and suggested that the team look into automating the bronze doors rather than tossing them.

Others, such as Tara Kelly of the Municipal Art Society, expressed similar concerns and suggested more greenery on the facade and entrance on 42nd Street. In the end, commissioners voted to approve changes. The renovation is expected to be complete by 2019.

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Walter Hunt, driving force in Gensler and AIA NY, passes away

Our architectural community became a little smaller this week. Sadly one of our members, Walter Alexander Hunt, Jr. FAIA died on May 27th 2016. He had a long and prolific career and intersected with many of us in different ways and at different points in our lives. To Gensler he was the consummate team player who joined the firm in its early days in San Francisco and became instrumental in transforming it from a small interiors practice into one of the leading and largest architectural firms in the world. During the course of his 38-year career, he hopscotched around the country setting up offices first in Denver in 1978 and then in New York in 1985 with Margot Grant. By the time he retired in 2012, he was the Managing Director of the Northeast Region and Vice-Chair of the firm. By all accounts he was incredibly successful. He was exceptionally skilled at giving life to large complicated projects. In 2009, for instance, he led the team of 9 architectural firms that completed the 16 million square foot MGM Mirage City Center in Las Vegas, still the largest private development in the US and the largest LEED development in the world. His most recent project was probably the Msheireb Downtown Doha, a 76.6 acre development in an historic neighborhood that incorporated traditional design features with smart grid technology and is on track to be the largest LEED certified community when completed. Any architectural office needs a dedicated staff of talented and motivated people to do the work and make it cohesive. Walter played a strong role in forging the entrepreneurial culture that became Gensler’s hallmark. After a couple of years at Gensler he decided to pursue a passion for industrial design and quit his job. He stayed in touch, decided the small firm he was at wasn’t for him, and was invited back. He felt that the experience caused him to grow and develop as an architect and made him so much more committed and more valuable to Gensler. Business journals have written a lot about the ‘boomerang’ as a way of motivating employees; Gensler institutionalized and celebrated the practice. Others often cite Gensler as a model and quote Walter. To the AIA he was a former Chapter President, Center for Architecture Foundation President, and member of the NY State AIA Board. Without Walter, there would probably be no Center for Architecture. When the local chapter occupied a couple of donated desks in a borrowed office on the 6th floor the Interior Design Building in the late 90’s, Walter helped conceive of a storefront to promote design and architecture in New York and served as co-chair of the Capital Campaign. They raised $6 million ensuring that the Center would become a leading and permanent cultural institution in New York. Inspired by the vibrancy in New York, more than 20 architecture centers sprouted around the country. Walter was highly committed to the next generation and educating both the practitioners and the public about design. He mentored young (and middle-aged) architects and funded more than a few organizations he felt would make a difference such as the ONE@@Time Foundation which provides pro bono design services to non profits. He also established multiple scholarships for architecture students both through the AIA and Yale, his alma mater. Yale tapped him for the Alumni Committee and the Dean’s Council. He even served on the Advisory Board of cultureNOW and helped shape its programming, its internships, and its mission to make the built environment accessible. Everyone who had the opportunity to collaborate with him would talk about his commitment, generosity, support, leadership, mentoring, and enthusiasm. Not only did he give advice, but he participated in the programs. He received many awards including the AIANY Chapter’s President’s Award and the Harry B. Rutkins Award, as well as the AIA NY State’s James William Kideney Gold Medal. Gensler established its ‘One Firm Firm’ Award in his honor. This is quite a testament to an extraordinary career. Our hearts go out to his wife Judy, his companion through life, and his family who will miss him more than we will.
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Gensler reveals plans for 35-acre Port of L.A. Marine Research Center

Gensler’s Los Angeles office has revealed plans for a $150 million expansion to the Port of Los Angeles by marine science and business innovation group AltaSea. At a ceremony hosted at the firm's Downtown L.A. headquarters, designers at Gensler detailed a 280,000 square foot facility encompassing a new waterfront promenade, aquaculture research center, and science hub set 35-acre stretch of historical docks and waterfront spaces. The project combines the adaptive reuse of existing dockside warehouses with the construction of a new visitor’s center and signal-house. Three formerly industrial warehouse shells, exposed composite steel beams, and original overhead trusses will house dedicated research and business development facilities for aquaculture and underwater robotics endeavors. The project's development will be divided into phases beginning with the redevelopment of Warehouses 58 through 60, which will add 180,000 square feet of combined research and business hubs to the site. This phase also incorporates an education pavilion and wharf plaza into the mix. The second and third phases entail renovating Warehouse 57—which will contain 60,000 square feet of laboratory and classroom space—and the construction of the site's two new structures.  Those new constructions, Berth 56 and a tower dubbed “the Viewing Structure,” are located between the arms of the two docks housing the science warehouse spaces. Berth 56 is a  landscape-oriented community center with educational and exhibition spaces, as well as amenities like viewing platforms and a theater. The 5-story viewing tower is located at the foot of a Berth 56’s roof terrace, which has been sculpted to blend with a street-level plaza. After citing the prominence of tower structures in the port’s historical development, Li Wen, Design Director at Gensler, described the firm’s approach with the new tower as an attempt to, “make a place with a new, 21st century tower that’s all about sustainability. So instead of emitting light, this tower actually harvests energy.” The overall scheme is an attempt to create a closed loop of scientific discovery, product innovation, and entrepreneurial commercialization at AltaSea’s campus. It is also being designed to be “net-positive” by generating more energy, through tidal, wind, and solar generation, than it consumes. Gensler expects to begin construction on the first phase of the project in 2016 with the community center set to open in 2023.
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Chicago's Old Main Post Office gets new developer and a new plan

Chicago’s historic Old Main Post Office may finally be redeveloped. The city has announced that the gigantic empty structure has been sold to the New York-based developer 601W Companies LLC for an undisclosed amount. The Graham, Anderson, Probst & White-designed building was once the largest post office in the world, handling the seemingly endless mail order traffic coming from Chicago retailers such as Marshall Field’s, Montgomery Ward, and Sears. With the decline of those companies and the rise of private shipping companies, among other causes, the post office was completely shut down, with operations moving to another site in 1995. Built between 1921 and 1932, the building has 2,500,000 square foot of floor space, and 18-foot ceilings though out many of its spaces. Since its closure it has often been used as a film set, including in the recent Batman and Transformers movies. In the years since the city sold the building to private investors, it has changed hands multiple times. With each sale promises of redevelopment ranging from adding high-rises to the top, to cutting an atrium through the building’s heart, have all come to nothing. In February, the city announced that it would take the building back through eminent domain and put out its own RFP for a developer. With the involvement of 601W the city has suspended that plan, at least until June, to give 601W a chance to finish acquiring the building and pursue its redevelopment plan. Working with Chicago-based architects Gensler, 601W’s $500 million redevelopment plan includes a three-phase renovation that would turn the building into office space. Other amenities will include a three acre rooftop park complex, outdoor cafes, events space, a fitness center, and a public river walk. The first 24 months of construction are planned to bring the building up to code, replace the roof and windows, and restore the facade. The second phase will update the building’s systems, while the third phase will restore the historic lobby and finish tenant spaces. 601W is also the owner of Chicago’s AON Center, Prudential Plaza and the former Montgomery Ward warehouse. Gensler was not immediately available for comment on the project.
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L.A.'s new soccer stadium is one step closer to being shovel-ready

Gensler’s proposal the Los Angeles Football Club’s (LAFC) $250 million stadium complex in South L.A. moved one step closer to becoming a reality this week when the L.A. City Council “unanimously approved” the final Environmental Impact Report for the 22,000 seat stadium project. The sports arena is expected to be the most expensive privately-financed soccer stadium in the country. Like many new urban stadium proposals, LAFC’s stadium is also set to feature sidewalk-adjacent restaurants, office space, a conference area, as well as a soccer museum alongside its more traditional sports programming. The new stadium for the as-yet-unnamed franchise will replace the outmoded and unloved L.A. Sports Arena, a 1959 Welton Becket-designed, elliptical transverse steel truss roof-clad spaceship of a building. That structure has been the home for the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers professional basketball teams as well as University of Southern California’s and University of California, Los Angeles’s college basketball teams in the past. It has also hosted concerts by Pink Floyd, Madonna, Michael Jackson, and the Grateful Dead. The L.A. Sports Arena held its final event in March when Bruce Springsteen performed there to a sold-out concert. Demolition of the L.A. Sports Arena is set to begin in June of this year. The new stadium is expected to open in 2018.
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L.A.'s A+D Museum celebrates Downtown Arts District in new home

After moving this past July, the A+D Museum in Los Angeles is now fully settled in its new home at 900 East 4th Street in the developing Downtown Arts District. The exhibit that opened March 24 features the work of creatives like product designers KILLSPENCER x Snarkitecture, to architects/gamers Ozel Office, to sculptor Vincent Tomcyk. A+D was founded in 2001 by architects Stephen Kanner and Bernard Zimmerman and focuses on contemporary architecture and design exhibits, educational programming, kid-focused design workshops, and outreach. The museum originally opened in the Bradbury Building and was nomadic for much of its first decade. In 2010, the museum thought it found a permanent space at 5900 Wilshire Boulevard on Museum Row near the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (shout out to one former exhibit Never Built: Los Angeles co-curated by AN contributing editor Sam Lubell). But eminent domain forced A+D to look for another spot. Soon after moving in, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced plans to demolish the Museum Row building to make space for the future Fairfax station that is part of the in progress 3-phase Purple Line extension. The complete extension is estimated to open, if on schedule, by 2035. Gensler designed A+D’s new digs, renovating an 8,000-square-foot old brick building that could have been a bowling alley. The new arts district location means the museum is across from the downtown L.A. architecture school, SCI-Arc. These recent developments are part of a larger effort to convert an area that was once mostly empty warehouse into a new neighborhood celebrating art and design.
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MIPIM 2016 Presents Winners of That Other Festival In Cannes

The Cannes Film Festival doesn't start until May 11. But for architecture enthusiasts, there's another notable event in the gorgeous city on the French Riviera: MIPIM (Le marché international des professionnels de l’immobilier). The show, which is in its 26th year, just announced the winners of its annual awards, divided into more than ten categories, and handed out not just for a project's innovative architecture, but its development characteristics. Award categories cover all types of development, from health care to hospitality to the strangely named "Best Futura Mega Project," which we're still trying to decipher. And the winners are... BEST HEALTHCARE DEVELOPMENT Queen Elizabeth University Hospital & Royal Hospital for Children Glasgow, United Kingdom Developer: Brookfield Multiplex Architect: IBI Group Client: NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde BEST HOTEL & TOURISM RESORT JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa Venice, Italy Developer: La Sessola Srl Architect: Matteo Thun & Partners Project Manager: Luca Colombo BEST INDUSTRIAL & LOGISTICS DEVELOPMENT ELI Beamlines Prague, Czech Republic Developer: Fyzikální ústav Akademie, věd ČR, v.v.i., Institute of Physics, Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic Architect: Bogle Architects BEST INNOVATIVE GREEN BUILDING Treurenberg Brussels, Belgium Developer: AXA Investment Managers – Real Assets Architect: ASSAR ARCHITECTS Owner: AXA Belgium BEST OFFICE & BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT #CLOUD.PARIS Paris, France Developer: SFL (Société Foncière Lyonnaise) Architect: PCA Philippe Chiambaretta Architecte BEST REFURBISHED BUILDING Papillon Düsseldorf, Germany Developer: 741 Projektentwicklung GmbH Architect: Luczak Architekten & SW Häuser GmbH Other: Cadman GmbH, Hellmich Gruppe & CarLoft BEST RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT Katscha Norrköping, Sweden Developer: Ivarsson Byggnads AB Architect: Kai Wartiainen and Ingrid Reppen, arkitektur + development ab Public Authority: Norrköpings kommun BEST SHOPPING CENTRE Les Docks Village Marseille, France Developer: Constructa Urban Systems Architect: 5+1 AA Other: JP Morgan Asset Management BEST URBAN REGENERATION PROJECT Crossrail Place London, United Kingdom Developer: Canary Wharf Group Architect: Foster + Partners Engineer: Arup, Wiehag BEST FUTURA PROJECT Paradis Express Liège, Belgium Developer: Fedimmo Architect: association A2M – Jaspers-Eyers Architects – BAG Other: Bureau Lemaire, TPF engineering, D2S, Heinz Winters Atelier, Duchêne, Galère, Interbuild BEST FUTURA MEGA PROJECT DUO PARIS: Taking urban sensations to new heights Paris, France Developer: Invanhoé Cambridge Architect: Jean Nouvel Project Manager: Hines PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD Shanghai Tower Shanghai, China Developer: Shanghai Tower Construction & Development Co. Ltd Architect: Gensler Other: Shanghai Construction Group, Thornton Tomasetti, Cosentini Associates, SWA Group, I.DEA Ecological Solutions  
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Gensler's Duncan Lyons shows how today's facades reflect changing trends in the workplace

As an architectural typology, the contemporary office building sits at the intersection of a number of social, economic, and environmental trends: the changing nature of the workplace; the expanding reach of communications and other technologies; and an increasing focus on sustainability and resilience. Three AEC industry professionals at the forefront of office building design and construction will be on hand at this week's Facades+AM DC symposium to discuss the new materials and technologies (including coatings, fritting, curved, and formed glass) that can be brought to bear on the challenges and opportunities associated with private- and public-sector office projects. Bob Schofield, Senior Vice President of Development and Director of Design and Construction at Akridge; Front Inc. Founding Partner Marc Simmons; and Gensler's Firmwide Commercial Office Building Developers Practice Area Leader, Duncan Lyons together bring years of experience in high performance design and construction to the conversation. Asked about the factors influencing the design of an office building's facade, Gensler's Lyons cited, "How the office building contributes to place-making, energy performance, and user experience; creating a healthy and inspiring workplace; [and] connecting building users to daylight, outside air, and a unique sense of place." That the worker experience is a key consideration in office building design reflects a broader transformation in American work culture, one in which a focus on fostering employee potential has replaced the traditional emphasis on products and processes. Just as employer–employee relationships have changed, so, too, has the technology available to tackle other pressing issues, including environmental performance. Lyons sees a future for dynamic building facades that utilizes new glass technologies, operable facades, and user adaptation—developments that promise to boost both worker satisfaction and sustainability. Hear more from Lyons, Schofield, and Simmons, as well as other movers and shakers in the facades world at Facades+AM DC. Register today and earn CEU credits at the event March 10.
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Los Angeles's tallest building to receive a vertigo-inducing slide in the sky

In Downtown Los Angeles, a glass slide is being attached to California's tallest building, almost 1,000 feet above the ground. Dubbed Skyslide, the slide will descend from the 70th to the 69th floor of the 1,017-foot-tall US Bank Tower. The building was designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners and completed in 1989. According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, it was the first supertall on the West Coast. Constructed from 1.25-inch-thick glass panels, the Skyslide will be approximately 46 feet long and 4 feet wide and adhere to the building's exterior via a metal support system. Singapore-based developer OUE Limited is initiating the project as part of Skyspace L.A., an approximately 850-square-foot observation and exhibition space on top of the tower. The project is part of a $50 million building-wide renovation plan and upgrade led by Gensler. Skyspace L.A. is primarily geared towards tourists, though no doubt locals will appreciate panoramic views of the city, San Gabriel Mountains, and the Pacific Ocean. It will cost $25 to visit Skyspace and a ride on the Skyslide will cost an additional $8 when the site opens on June 25th. Although this slide may be the most vertigo-inducing, it's not the first large-scale slide to be installed on a tall structure. The 376-foot-tall ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower in London's Olympic Park, designed by Anish Kapoor, features the world's longest and fastest tunnel slide. Riders descend for 40 seconds at 15 miles per hour, getting fantastic views of East London along the way.