In a power play for the world of arena architecture, HOK has announced it will acquire Kansas City's 360 Architecture. Their union marks HOK's return to the world of sports and entertainment facility design, possibly to compete with Populous, another Kansas City-based firm that spun off from HOK Sports Venue Event in 2008. HOK started HOK Sports in 1983, but that firm (now called Populous) no longer has any affiliation with St. Louis-based HOK. The global design firm's merger with 360 creates the largest architectural firm in Missouri. “Joining HOK enables us to take advantage of an exceptionally strong global platform and to expand our sports facility design practice while offering our clients additional expertise in other markets,” 360 Principal Brad Schrock said in a statement. “This also brings HOK, a global design leader in many building types, into the heart of Kansas City.” 360’s current projects include the Rogers Place arena for the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, and a new stadium for the Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes. Major competitors for the new HOK sports design giant will likely remain Dallas-based HKS and Seattle’s NBBJ. The two had been short-listed to design a major new stadium for the Detroit Red Wings, but developer Ilitch Properties selected none other than 360 Architecture as lead designer and architect of record on that project. Meanwhile HKS is tackling a new Vikings arena in Minneapolis, while NBBJ fields Lexington, KY’s storied Rupp Arena.
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Despite ongoing delays, lawsuits, and government holdups, it appears that California's High Speed Rail (HSR) plans (and their associated stations) are ready to move ahead. Last week the United States Department of Transportation issued a "Record of Decision" for HSR's initial 114-mile section from Fresno to Bakersfield. The decision, "represents a major step forward, both for the State of California and for High Performance rail in the U.S," Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said in a statement. On the state level California governor Jerry Brown earlier this month managed to secure $250 million for the project from the state's yearly cap-and-trade greenhouse gas emissions fund. That number could total $3 billion to $5 billion in coming years. The total amount of track built in the network will measure over 800 miles. But the estimated $68 billion project is still short of the federal funding it needs, and there are a number of significant obstacles left. According to the Contra Costa Times, a Sacramento judge has blocked, pending appeal, the $8.6 billion in state bond funds owed to the project. The state also owes the federal government $160 million in order to receive $3.5 billion in matching funds, and the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to block funds to the project as part of the federal transportation bill. Although that vote is anticipated to be overturned by the Democratic Senate. Still, California's HSR stations continue to move ahead, regardless of whether the tracks ever get built. Grimshaw and Gruen's plans to transform Union Station in Los Angeles just passed another benchmark, Pelli Clarke Pelli's San Francisco's Transbay Center is moving ahead as well, although perhaps without its signature rooftop park. And the furthest along is Anaheim's ETFE-topped ARTIC station, designed by HOK and Buro Happold. The multimodal facility combining bus, rail, high speed rail, shuttles, and more—is scheduled to be finished late this year. All of these stations will serve multiple transit functions, even if HSR never happens. But it sure would be a waste if that came to pass.
AN recently profiled the emerging architectural typology of spaceports across the country, and now there's news from the Houston site that helped launch the dream of space travel decades ago. Independence Shuttle, a full-scale replica of NASA’s iconic Space Shuttle, recently was moved from the Johnson Space Center (JSC) to its next-door neighbor, Space Center Houston. To some people, the relocation was a matter of mere logistics. To others, however, the transfer symbolized not just a lessening of power and precedence associated with Johnson Space Center, but with NASA’s space program as a whole. Johnson Space Center, formed in 1961, is one of ten major NASA field centers, and one of the most famous space travel establishments. The 40-foot deep swimming pool built for astronaut training, was, in its heyday, frequented by astronauts and the curious public alike. The control room oversaw the launch and devastating loss of the Challenger, received Armstrong’s transmission as he made his first steps on the moon, and rejoiced with the rest of America during the Apollo 13 recovery. To say that JSC is iconic, a cornerstone, and a piece of history is an understatement: it is a monolithic nexus of space travel, this world’s anchoring connection to the vast unknown. So as grand-scale space launches wane and commercial flight takes over, the creeping neglect of JSC’s facilities and consequent decline stabs into the hearts of those connected to NASA’s past—and not simply for nostalgic reasons. Astronauts associated with JSC’s glory days—men like Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan, and Jim Lovell—have spoken out against the political shifts associated with JSC’s downsizing. One such maneuver occurred when President Obama cancelled Constellation—a Bush-era initiative to send astronauts to the moon—in order to shuttle a sizable chunk of NASA’s funding from the manned space exploration into commercial space flight. The shift denotes a decrease in specialist training aimed at greater expansion into grand scale space projects—missions to Mars, for example, or a continuation of low-orbiting space travel—towards everything that “commercial space travel” connotes: sending consumers, not specialists, into orbit; changing the pioneer frontier into a tourism industry. Armstrong and Levitt both argue that the change negates the $10 billion already funneled into Constellation. They claim that private enterprise is taking a major step backward, that government’s funding focal change will place the U.S. into a reliant relationship with Russia, thereby relegating the nation to a second-rate spot for space travel. These men are the voice, in a nutshell, of those deeply unhappy with the changes taking place. JSC countered these claims with an official statement claiming that the center is still relevant. It cited robotics projects and continued operation of Orion—a spacecraft designed to take astronauts to asteroids—as evidence. JSC, the statement said, is a cultural mainstay of Houston’s identity, and it will stay that way. Certain facts remain however, and seeing, in this case, is part of believing. The government’s retraction of funds has instilled the center with a calcified, weary demeanor. JSC has employed far fewer people in the past two years than ever before. Half the buildings have been torn down or consolidated. One of them is a new building, the NASA Johnson Space Center 20, which has upstaged its famous brother by being the first LEED platinum project of its kind in NASA. In comparison, the control room at JSC that once oversaw mankind’s greatest scientific achievements now has less technology than the average smart phone. “Nothing’s going on there,” said one former NASA employee. “People are leaving in waves.” The Independence Shuttle was just moved next door. But as far as interpreting symbols go, they might as well have launched it to the moon.
What do architects, attorneys, and accountants have in common? Naming firms after themselves. Architecture firms are some of the worst offenders and Eavesdrop is constantly consulting Wiki to figure the names behind those initials. After decades of ego, leadership changes, and acquisitions, one would think that global design would be dominated by a firm called SOMHOKBKLMNOP. So it should not come at any surprise that St. Louis–based HOK recently acquired the New York and Shanghai offices of hospitality firm BBG-BBGM. Eavesdrop refuses to do any research on the provenance of that cluster of initials, but, luckily, it appears the combined firm will just be HOK. BBG should add an impressive, high-end roster of clients—think St. Regis and Peninsula hotels—to HOK’s portfolio of marquee projects.
The renewal project of one of Britain's most monumental buildings, and home to its two houses of parliament, has been entrusted to the team at HOK. The restoration of the Palace of Westminster will involve the short and long term repair and replacement strategies of existing building fabric and systems, as well as the scheduling of works while parliamentary activities are temporarily relocated. HOK will provide architecture and heritage conservation advice, in conjunction with Deloitte Real Estate and AECOM for real estate and engineering services respectively. ( Photo: Jeremy McKnight / Flickr)
In crafting a building whose main goal is to make the study of natural resources accessible, architects from HOK and GSG did just that: they brought the outside in. Its purpose is to study what’s buried beneath the earth’s surface, but the University of Wyoming’s Energy Innovation Center isn’t an underground bunker. At the $25.4 million center, 3D visualizations illuminate three walls of a research lab so students can plumb the earth’s subsurface for valuable minerals and fossil fuels. The three-story, 56,941-square-foot EIC contains 12,000 square feet of flexible research lab space. A massive supercomputing system runs the 3D visualization rooms, which include a 1,296-square foot drilling simulator. “Rather than viewing a 3-D screen, the center resembles a cavern with three vertical walls and a floor,” said UW’s School of Energy Resources Director Mark Northam, “that makes researchers feel as if they are physically immersed in the image.” GSG Architecture of Casper, Wyo. is the architect of record. The general contractor was GE Johnson Construction Co. of Jackson, Wyo.
The battle over LG Electronic's proposed office complex in New Jersey is getting increasingly political. Now New York City government officials are chiming in and expressing their opposition to the company's plans to build a 143-foot-high HOK-designed headquarters atop the leafy Palisades along the Hudson River facing Manhattan. Yesterday, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. sent a letter addressed to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie asking him to step in and stop the proposed plans for the office complex and urge a redesign of the building. The letter stated: "For hundreds of years, the residents of your state and ours have enjoyed unspoiled, pristine views of the Palisades, and this proposal threatens to change that forever. The proposal put forward by LG Electronics threatens to alter this view, and negatively impact the enjoyment of the Palisades as a visual and a recreational resource. The Palisades are a natural treasure. The park is a designated National Natural Landmark and development should respect that context. While the Palisades are physically located in New Jersey, they are of such importance to the people and the cultural institutions of New York City that our own development rules have ensured that their view is not obstructed." The letter states that the Bronx Community Board #8 and Manhattan Community Board #12, along with four former New Jersey governors—including Brendan Byrne, Thomas Kean, James Florio and Christine Todd Whitman—have all conveyed some level of concern about the new headquarters. To make matters worse for LG, the Environmental Protection Agency has "withdrawn its partnership with LG to develop the tower." This comes after negotiations with a court-supervised mediator failed this Spring.
Conciliatory efforts have failed in the fight over LG Electronic's plans to build 143-foot-high, HOK-designed office complex atop New Jersey's Palisades across the Hudson River from Manhattan. The new headquarters, to be located in Englewood, has been the subject of much debate as several advocacy groups, individuals, and officials from the Metropolitan Museum say that the 8-story building would disrupt the idyllic view of the wooded Palisades from the Cloisters, the MET's outpost in northern Manhattan. Earlier this year, a coalition of groups and individuals—including Scenic Hudson, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, and the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs—filed a lawsuit against a variance and zoning in hopes of encouraging a redesign of the building. The two opposing parties agreed to meet with a court-supervised mediator this spring, but according to LG Electronics, these negotiations were unsuccessful. LG claims that the parties had agreed "not to discuss the matter in the media while the process was underway, yet at several points during the sensitive negotiations, groups aligned with the intervenors undertook activities that broke the spirit of the court’s instructions and repeated many inaccurate statements about the project." John Taylor, Vice President of LG Electronics, said that "the players themselves might not have been directly involved," but there was "a stepped up campaign by the opposition during very sensitive negotiations of the mediation and it was not helpful to the process." Now that the parties have failed to come to a resolution, the case will go through court proceedings. "As we said we are confident that we’ll prevail in the courts," said Taylor. "We hope the judge will make a decision later this summer."
While most things appear to be going gangbusters in San Francisco, it appears the fun hasn’t spread to HOK’s office there. The rumor mill says the firm has let go of a couple of its most revered staff, including Vice President Louis Schump. Schump, whose partner Todd Hosfelt owns the respected Hosfelt Gallery, headed some of the firm’s best workspace designs. Schump is in fact no longer with the firm. Other rumors are flying about people being put on “standby status,” but we won’t report them until they’re confirmed. We’re learning here at Eavesdrop, aren’t we?
There is no organization in New York that has done more to publicize this city’s hidden and out of the way architecture and infrastructure than Open House New York (OHNY). One weekend a year, it opens up buildings and spaces normally closed to the public for tours, lectures, and site visits. The yearly event happens this weekend—October 15th and 16th—and to celebrate its 10th year, OHNY is hosting a launch party at the beautiful new offices of HOK across from Bryant Park. The party is on Friday, October 14 from 7pm to 9pm at HOK, and you can purchase party tickets (and support OHNY) at the new Open House New York event website.
On Thursday, the architecturati were at the War Memorial Performing Arts Center's Green Room to see who won in this year's AIA SF Awards. This year only saw 27 awards presented, half the number of last year's 54--perhaps an indication of how hard the economic downturn has hit this area. But despite the shorter program, there was no shortage of distinctive projects. Taking home top honors in the Architecture category was Ogrydziak Prillinger's Gallery House (photo at top), which impressed the jury for its "reinterpretation of the San Francisco bay window," among other things. Alas, the images that were shown while the virtues of the house were being described were of HOK's Merit-winning library in Saudi Arabia, the one glitch in the evening. Interestingly, the other Honor winner for Architecture was EHDD's Marin Country Day School, which is not only a graceful building rendered in wood and steel, it is also net-zero-energy and LEED Platinum. Since EHDD got the nod for Architecture, as opposed to Energy + Sustainability, it's a indication that the profession is starting to value design and sustainability together as a package. Mark Cavagnero's sensitive additions to the Oakland Museum of California and Perkins+Will's careful restoration of the Presidio Landmark were singled out in the historical preservation category. This category is a recent addition to the awards lineup, but one that should continue to have some great entries. In interiors, an amused murmur went up in the crowd when they learned about Sand Studios' medical marijuana dispensary, SPARC, which took home a Citation award. But the biggest laugh of the evening came when the picturesque Honor winner for unbuilt work was announced: Anderson Anderson Architecture's Lips Tower, described as a "thirsty urban utility, sucking water and solar energy from the sky."
As spring rolls around, deadlines loom for coveted summer internships. AN has collected a list of five prestigious firms that are looking for their 2011 class of interns. Good luck! 1. Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP Deadline: April 4, 2011 SOM has designed some of the most iconic buildings of our time, from the John Hancock Center and the Sears Tower to Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Send your cover letter, resume and 5-8 work samples (8.5” x 11”) to SOM’s Human Resources Department at 14 Wall Street, 24th Floor, New York, NY 10005. Only hard copy submissions will be considered. 2. Gensler Deadline: rolling Gensler is offering several internships in architecture, interior design, marketing, graphics and planning in Dallas, Newport Beach, San Diego, LA, Denver, Houston, and Morristown, NJ offices. Most of the internships listed online are accepting students enrolled in professional degree programs only, but check the qualifications on the company’s career website. 3. Perkins+Will Deadline: April 22 for architecture internships in Atlanta and NYC, but deadlines are specific to each types of internship. Perkins+Will’s portfolio includes Chase Tower in Chicago and Antilia in Mumbai, a 27-story structure that’s one of the most expensive personal homes in the world. The firm’s paid internship program currently has five openings in interiors, architecture and urban design+landscape architecture. The internships are based out of in their Atlanta and NYC offices. Submit one complete PDF with a cover letter, resume, and up to a total of three pages of design examples no larger than 4MB through the company’s website. 4. HOK Deadline: rolling HOK has openings for summer architectural interns in its St. Louis and Chicago offices. Interns will have to opportunity to 2D and 3D presentation/design drawings, and create models/project boards for client and project team review. According to the website, the full-time summer internships are generally paid. The firm also offers a sustainable design internship program. Apply online. 5. OMA Deadline: rolling Last week, OMA announced two new internship opportunities. The Dutch firm is looking for a business development intern and a model shop intern for their Rotterdam office. They also have model shop and architectural internships available in their New York office. Internships in both departments are paid.