Posts tagged with "Louisville":

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Kentucky Architecture Back on the Map with a…Barn

(Courtesy De Leon & Primmer) All barn jokes aside, this is great news for the Louisville firm of De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop. They received one of the AIA’s Institute Honor Awards for Architecture, allegedly the first Kentucky project to do so since Michael Grave’s cash register, the Humana Building. The barn is an operations facility for Mason Lane Farm and it’s really kind of amazing. Let’s hope that this becomes a rags to riches design story and that we see bigger, more amazing projects coming from De Leon & Primmer. Now that Museum Plaza was knocked off the drawing board, there’s room for a new iconic tower in Louisville. (Photo: Courtesy De Leon & Primmer)
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Tree Expert: Speed Art Museum Mystery Tree Likely A Youngster

Over the past week, news of one allegedly-very-old tree cut down on the University of Louisville's campus where a wHY Architecture-designed addition to the Speed Art Museum is being built has tree experts in Louisville counting rings on a stump. Students creating a map of all 2,500 trees on the University's campus as part of Dr. Tommy Parker's Urban Wildlife Research Lab had estimated the tree was over 300 years old, generating an impassioned oped in the student newspaper. The Speed and local news sources looked further into the mysterious tree, using the stump and historical photos of the museum (above) to determined that the tree was really only 60 years old. Steven Bowling, Director of Marketing and Communications at the Speed Art Museum, also wrote in with this statement about the tree's removal:
As part of the Speed Art Museum's long planned expansion, the Speed and its architect, wHY Architecture, carefully analyzed the site and its space constraints. The goals were threefold: to protect the Museum's 1927 historic building to accommodate the Speed's growing audience, to link the expanded green spaces of the Museum with the University of Louisville Campus and to seamlessly integrate art and nature on the 6-acre site. During the planning phase, the Speed, together with the architects, reviewed several possibilities in consultation with landscape architects and an arborist to expand the Museum’s footprint with minimal interruption to the historic building, the surrounding area, and trees within the Museum's footprint. In the final plan, the tree needed to be removed. Removal of the tree, which the arborist determined was 60 years old, allows the site to be re-graded and expands accessibility for all visitors to the Museum and its grounds. While both the Museum and the architects regret the removal of that tree, the new Speed Art Museum which will re-open in 2016 will provide students and visitors with expanded green space that includes an art park and public piazza, as well as the planting of more than 40 new trees.
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Did wHY Architecture’s Speed Art Museum Expansion Fell a 309 Year Old Tree in Louisville?

[Editor's Note: Following the publishing of this story, the Speed Art Museum and tree researchers studied the tree, determining that it was, in fact, not three centuries old, nor a Valley Oak. The tree in question is now believed to be a 60-year-old English Oak. Read the update here.] The Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, is currently closed to visitors until 2015 while a dramatic stacked-box addition is built to the north of the institution's original 1927 neo-Classical building on the University of Louisville's Olmsted-designed Belknap Campus. The $50 million expansion, designed by Culver City, CA-based wHY Architecture with Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architects, who were later dropped from the project, will triple the museum's gallery space and add to the already robust arts scene in Louisville. This week, one alert writer at the student newspaper, The Louisville Cardinal, noticed something missing at the construction site: the University's oldest tree. The approximately 309-year-old Valley Oak had been cut down when the site was cleared late last year. Only a stump now remains behind the construction fence. The author, Wesley Kerrick, noted the tree pre-dates not just the University, but the city, state, and country in which it resides, as it sprouted sometime in the late 17th or early 18th century. Kerrick expressed frustration over the fact that the tree couldn't have been saved. Dr. Tommy Parker, Director of the Urban Wildlife Research Lab (UWRL) at the University of Louisville, has been observing the University's urban forest for the past several years. The University's 309-acre Belknap Campus contains over 2500 trees, which Parker and his students have been studying and mapping to build a Tree App that geo-locates every tree on campus with information on each tree's species, age, height, environmental contribution, and even monetary value. The mapping project has documented 1,140 trees on campus so far. "This project is useful for understanding wildlife habitats," Parker said. "It allows for real-time analysis in the field." Dr. Parker and his students first collect measurements of each tree, feeding the information through a computer program that estimates its age, value, and environmental benefit. Next, teams geo-locate each tree, finding the exact coordinates using a GPS device. The mapping process helped Parker and Kerrick recognize the Valley Oak's history and that it had been removed. "She was a beautiful tree. I just happened to come in one day and it was gone," Parker said of the three-century-old tree. He lamented the loss of such a historic tree, but noted, "I didn't have a problem with removing the tree. Just that there was no conversation about it. That was the only problem I had." Parker explained that, like other living things, different tree species have different lifespans, and at the end of their prime they can become susceptible to root rot and disease, sometimes requiring removal. "Many people think all trees are like Sequoias," Parker said, "but most trees have a distinct lifespan." For instance, Oaks and Maples, Parker said, can readily live to be 200 to 250 years old, depending on the region in which they're growing. In a southeastern city like Louisville, trees can grow even older. Parker estimated that if the Valley Oak had not been cut down, it could have lived for decades to come. "It was in good shape," Parker said. "That tree could have lasted easily another 50 years." In human terms, Parker said the tree would be about 50 years old given an average human lifespan of 72 years. To replace the old tree with new young trees of the same species and maintain what Parker called the tree's "environmental services" (it's ability to absorb cardon dioxide), the University would have to plant 35 new two-inch-diameter trees. The old tree's diameter measured 51.5 inches, but Parker said the real benefit of such a large tree is its crown, where the leaves are scrubbing the air. Still, Parker is less concerned with the loss of one iconic tree and is helping to push a tree-planting campaign to keep the University's urban forest healthy. In the past two years, the University added 380 trees to its campus, and Parker said it's on target to plant another 300 this year. "We need to think of tree turnover and plan for the next 50 years," he said. "We can't have ten or 15 year gaps in the tree canopy" from trees dying and no new trees being planted. He hoped the loss of the Valley Oak might inspire others to get involved in taking care or and expanding Louisville's urban forest.
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Cincinnati is Recovering From the Swine Flu

Dear readers, Eavesdrop had the opportunity to explore Louisville, KY—our hometown—and Cincinnati, OH (a.k.a. Porkopolis) over the weekend. It’s been six or seven years since our last trip to Cincy and we have a couple things to say about it. It’s kind of a real city, like dense and old, with just enough corporate headquarters looming over the skyline. We finally got to see the HOK designed Great American Tower in real life and it’s just as bad in person as its renderings. You may remember that we thoroughly made fun of its fugly, Princess Di inspired, steel tiara—something about lipstick on a pig. Let’s update that to a more current comparison. That tiara is more Honey Boo Boo than Princess Di. Eavesdrop is not a fan of hats or tiaras on buildings—i.e. the Pappageorge Haymes-designed One Museum Park in Chicago with its sailor cap. The American Institute of Steel Construction disagrees, recently giving said tiara a design award. Cincy’s little sibling across the river, Covington, KY, has its own shiny shocker: Daniel Libeskind’s Ascent at Roebling Bridge, which is essentially a nautilus that mated with a Vegas hotel that was birthed onto the banks of the Ohio. And–just announced!–Covington is so hip that they’re turning their 102-year old City Hall into a boutique hotel. Despite a few eyesores, things in downtown Cincy are definitely looking up. The Over-the-Rhine neighborhood was shockingly vibrant in a way that should make Louisville’s NULU district extremely jealous. Louisville could use its own version of 3CDC, Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation, whose name adorned many banners and reconstruction projects. In Louisville there was nary a person walking the streets of East Market, NULU’s main drag. Cincy, please send some of that development juice downstream!
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Kamin: Humana Resurrecta

Blair Kamin seems to have joined the reconsider PoMo chorus, stating in his Sunday column that the movement “deserves a more sophisticated reappraisal.” The focus of the Tribune tribute was Michael Graves’s Humana building in Louisville, Kentucky.  By drawing comparisons to Johnson’s AT&T building in its unabashed commercialism and to Kohn Pedersen Fox’s 333 Wacker Drive for its national significance, Kamin writes that “Graves crafted a tower that could only have been built in Louisville.” The reassessment comes on the heel of Graves receiving the Richard H. Driehaus Prize for classical and traditional architecture in Chicago last month, which in turn came after last fall's PoMo Conference at New York’s Institute for Classical Architecture and Art. Seems that the classicists are going gaga for PoMo.
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Museum Plaza Developers Scrap Plans for Tower

The first line of a press statement sent out by developers of the REX-designed Museum Plaza tower in Louisville, Kentucky put it bluntly: "Museum Plaza will not be built." The 62-story hyper-rational tower—part kunsthalle museum, part residential and commercial hub, part art school—was hoped to signal the rejuvenation of the city's urban core, but like so many iconic buildings proposed in the days leading up to the great recession, the vision succumbed to the realities of the financial markets. Original plans set forth in early 2006 called for a modern art museum on the 23rd floor, accessed by a diagonal funicular, to form the hub between hotel, residential, and office space. A massive park atop a parking garage, originally designed by West 8 Landscape Architects and then turned over to artist Ned Kahn formed the plaza. Construction actually began in 2008 but halted abruptly as foundation work caused dangerous vibrations in surrounding 1850s era cast-iron buildings. While plans were reworked, financing fell through and the project has languished ever since, remaining little more than a few dozen capped piles at the bottom of a large pit. The site, located along the Ohio River between an interstate highway and a flood wall, complicated construction and was described by Joshua Prince-Ramus, principal at REX, as a "bath tub." Last year, the project team applied for a $100 million federal loan from the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Section 108 program, but the team formally withdrew its request this morning. Developers Craig Greenberg, Laura Lee Brown, Steve Wilson, and Steve Poe remained optimistic that the project could ride out the recession, but in a statement and letter to the Mayor of Louisville and Governor of Kentucky this morning, the team put forth a more sober outlook: "Through this process we have endured four years of the worst recession of our lifetime and the most challenging lending market ever. There are no signs of improvement in the near future... we painfully decided that this project could not be built in this economy." The development team is leaving Museum Plaza behind, and is now shifting its attention to a group of five mid-19th century former whiskey warehouses that they saved from demolition.
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Video> wHY Architecture Reveals Speed Art Museum Design for Louisville (Updated)

Louisville's Speed Art Museum has unveiled plans for a new addition designed by Culver City, CA-based wHY Architecture with Reed Hilderbrand landscape architects. Located on the campus of the University of Louisville, the museum hopes to increase connections with the city and the university along with increasing gallery and educational space. The scope of wHY's work includes 200,000 square feet of new and renovated space in three phases valued at $79 million. The first phase including the new north structure will begin construction this year. A fly-through (after the jump) offers a peak at the design, which calls for a simple monumental form next to the 1920s-era Beaux-Arts main building that cantilevers over a stand of trees forming an outdoor room and cafe on the campus facing side. A large garage-like door opens out to the garden. The street facing side features an outdoor amphitheatre-like seating set in the ground and a large reflecting pool. A cantilever staircase will be visible through the street facing facade. While the designers said they were seeking to practice "architectural acupuncture" on the site, it appears that earlier additions will be cleared away entirely. The contrast between the original neoclassical building, which is largely windowless, and the highly transparent new wing is fairly stark, though the integration of landscape elements and water features makes the building seem rooted in the campus site.
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7 Cities Consider Removing Major Urban Highways

In a shift from America’s traditional 20th century landscape, more and more cities are now considering removing major highways in favor of housing, parks and economic development. The chief motivation seems to be money, according to a recent NPR report highlighting the growing movement and the removal of Cleveland’s West Shoreway. As highways age, keeping them around doesn’t justify the high cost of maintenance. But tearing these highways down also means new opportunities for developing valuable real estate and rehabilitating blighted land. The federal government awarded $16 million to replace a New Haven highway with pedestrian boulevards last fall, and other TIGER II funds to explore highway removal in the Bronx and New Orleans have also been issued. New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. remarked, "We think this is a big f---ing deal." Decades after urban renewal programs first put up highways, most city planners now realize that highways drain vitality from healthy neighborhoods and lower property values. San Francisco’s Embarcadero Freeway and Central Freeway are two poster children for how highway removal can rejuvenate neighborhoods. The collapse of the Miller Highway in New York also made way for what’s now West Street and Hudson River Park.
BALTIMORE: Demolition of Baltimore’s infamous "Highway to Nowhere," a one mile stretch that ends in a grassy slope, began last fall. In 1974, construction sliced through a vibrant working class area of west Baltimore, demolishing 700 homes and displacing 2,000 residents, mostly African American. The area is now characterized by vacant homes and high poverty rates. President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act awarded $2.8 million for the highway’s removal, which will make room for transit-oriented development.

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CLEVELAND: The only way to get from downtown Cleveland to the waterfront is through poorly lit tunnels underneath the West Shoreway freeway. NPR recently highlighted the city's plan to convert the highway into an urban boulevard, in line with efforts to develop the waterfront, but opposition from suburban commuters forced the city to scale back the project. The original proposal would have added crosswalks to the road, parks, offices and housing, while the actual project will just focus on rebuilding the pedestrian tunnels.

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NEW ORLEANS: Decades before Hurricane Katrina and getting its own HBO series, Treme was one of the wealthiest African American communities in New Orleans, and Claiborne Avenue was its teeming commercial center. The construction of the Claiborne Expressway in the 1950s changed all that, displacing families and over 100 businesses. City planners are currently debating removing the highway as part of post-Katrina rebuilding. The plan would reclaim 35-40 city blocks from urban blight and 20-25 blocks of open space.

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SEATTLE: A battle is raging in Seattle over the demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The highway's coming down after sustaining damage in a 2001 earthquake, but the $4.2 billion tunnel slated to replace it by 2016 remains a political hot potato. The project is entangled in lawsuits, with critics seeking to vote on the project. Mayor McGinn came out against the Seattle’s political establishment in support of a street level replacement. He’s also pushing for removal of the Viaduct next year, citing the damage it would cause in an earthquake.

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NEW HAVEN: The city recently received a $16 million TIGER II grant to convert part of Route 34 into an urban boulevard. Residents envision a re-do with narrow car lanes, wide sidewalks and a bike lane. The plan will add 960 permanent jobs and reclaim 11 acres of land that can be developed and taxed. It will finally unite the city's central business district with the rest of New Haven, ending the highway's stifling effect on economic development. Built in 1959, the highway displaced 600 families and 65 businesses and was never completed.

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BUFFALO: After several multi-million dollar projects failed to slow Buffalo's decline, planners set their sights on removing two of the city's major highways. The Skyway and Route 5 make commutes more difficult, cost millions in annual maintenance and block waterfront development. The state Department of Transportation decided to keep the elevated roadways in 2008, even though local officials and residents wanted a street level boulevard. A coalition of citizens and civic organizations appealed the decision in 2008, and continue to advocate demolition.

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LOUISVILLE: In the opening scenes of Elizabethtown, Kirsten Dunst maps out Interstate 64 in Louisville for Orlando Bloom because "the roads around there are hopelessly and gloriously confusing." He gets lost anyway, banging his hands against his steering wheel and yelling "60B!" The Ohio River Bridges Project, a $4.2 billion plan to expand the highway to 23 lanes of traffic at its widest point, would make things even more challenging. In 2005, two Louisville businessmen launched a grassroots campaign to remove the highway and develop the waterfront with a pedestrian-friendly boulevard. But it looks like the project's continuing with wider elevated lanes of traffic with some cost cut adjustments made in recent days.

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The Green Building′s Platinum Lining

Since opening in 2008, The Green Building in Louisville, Kentucky has been quietly awaiting the verdict on just how sustainable the three-story adaptive reuse project really is. As expected, the 115-year-old former dry goods store designed by California-based (fer) studio announced that the project received LEED Platinum certification, becoming the city's first Platinum building. Owners Augusta and Gill Holland were attracted to the historic building by its potential to transform the once-downtrodden surrounding neighborhood into the city's preeminent arts district dubbed Nulu, or New Louisville. Located just east of downtown, the 10,175 square foot structure houses a mix of uses including a gallery, event space, offices, and a restaurant along the sidewalk. The central focus of The Green Building is, of course, its sustainable features, and the Hollands wanted to create a show piece to demonstrate the full potential of sustainable architecture. Fer Studio peeled away various components of the historic building to create a layered spatial arrangement that maximizes natural lighting and create a modern aesthetic sensibility that pays homage to the building's 19th century craftsmanship. Each piece of the building from the old growth beams and framing to bricks were carefully inventoried and reused throughout the renovation. For instance, structural woodwork was remilled into new flooring and furniture. New materials were locally sourced including Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified white maple panels that accentuate the warm hues of old growth beams. Tucked behind the sidewalk café, a 40-foot-tall lobby opens up The Green Building's upper floors and allows for extra daylight to reach interior spaces. Equipment monitors the natural light level in the lobby and automatically turns synthetic lights on or off to minimize electrical usage. A carefully angled clerestory also helps to maximize natural daylighting while providing dramatic space for offices and a conference room. Green systems in the building are both high- and low-tech. A green roof, three large rain barrels, and a rain garden help store and filter rainwater runoff while dually providing water for irrigation. Insulation in the walls is made from recycled jeans and even the concrete block is made from byproducts of coal burning power plants. The brains of The Green Building, however, are concealed out of sight in the basement. A large ice storage system freezes during off-peak hours and distributes cool air through the building at a fraction of the cost of a traditional air conditioner while in winter, the process is reversed to supplement the geothermal system. To round out the green systems, an 81-panel solar array on the structure's roof helps the facility outperform Kentucky energy codes by up to 65 percent. Gill and Augusta aren't resting on their LEED Platinum laurels, however. The duo is part part owner in 16 adjacent properties that are being renovated with sustainability in mind. They are also planning a permanent farmer's market, a recycling center, and an electric car charging station in coming years. [ Click on a thumbnail below to start the slideshow. ]
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Louisville Opens Waterfront Arena

Basketball fans in Louisville gathered Downtown Sunday on 10.10.10 for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the just-finished $238 million KFC Yum! Center designed by Populous architects, formerly HOK Sports, Venue, Event.  The 22,000 seat venue is the home of the University of Louisville Cardinals. Populous designed the arena to reflect Louisville's geographic situation at the Falls of the Ohio, a natural waterfall on the Ohio River around which the city was founded.  An undulating roof cascades toward the river with a single fluid gesture. An adjacent street under the Second Street Clark Memorial Bridge has been converted into a pedestrian space featuring an installation by New York-based light artist Leni Schwendinger.  A public ceremony will take place this evening to unveil the light display incorporated into the bridge structure. Schwendinger recently completed a light installation under a bridge at the New York Port Authority building and has been selected as part of a team to redesign Times Square. City officials have pinned redevelopment hopes on the building and have already seen development spurred by the investment.  Several historic whiskey warehouses dating to the 1860s in surrounding blocks are being renovated to provide housing, retail, and entertainment space.
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Changes at Architecture School Urban Design Studios

Kent State University has named Terry Schwarz the director of the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC). A satellite of the College of Architecture, the CUDC provides urban planning and design services to underserved communities and neighborhoods. Schwarz has worked at the studio since 2000, creating, among other projects, the Shrinking Cities Institute, to investigate urban vacancy and declining population, and Pop Up City, an initiative to animate underused land with arts activities. Schwarz has a masters in city and regional planning from Cornell, and has lectured and published widely. The Urban Design Studio in Louisville has focused its mission on sustainability, according to Broken Sidewalk. The University of Kentucky College of Design, based in Lexington, recently withdrew its involvement in the studio, leaving the planning program at the University of Louisville as the primary partner. The Studio will also expand it's collaboration with AIA Central Kentucky raise awareness of contemporary design in Louisville.
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A Public Art Plan for the Derby City

Today the City of Louisville and the New York-based public art organization Creative Time unveiled a long-term plan for funding and developing public art across the city.  The Louisville Public Art Master Plan recommends the creation of a Committee on Public Art (COPA) that will oversee the city’s current art collection, manage a granting system for new public art and advise future city leaders on the continued creation and development of new art. Funding for the new master plan will come from grants and donations. Additional funding will come from developers via an innovative approach to commercial development code. Currently developers of projects exceeding 100,000 square feet are required to set aside a percentage of their construction budget for various public amenities like benches, fountains, landscaping, and trails. Under the new plan, there will be an option to direct that money to a new public space art fund. In turn, the fund can then provide support to non-profit arts and neighborhood groups who want to commission artists to create art for public spaces. The funds will be dispensed through a granting process administered by the new COPA. "Developers will recognize that this new model makes good business sense," said Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson in a statement prepared for the plan’s unveiling. "Their money will support the arts and, in turn, they don't have to pay for the long-term maintenance of benches or a fountain." Aside from addressing funding, the plan also tackles important issues like conservation and maintenance, thoroughly cataloging the current collection and procedures for commissioning and de-accessioning pieces. Creative Time won the master planning contract a year and a half ago over two other finalists in a RFQ released by the City. Principal Meredith Johnson traveled to Louisville numerous times during the yearlong preparation of the study and sees the finished master plan as a reflection of the city’s unique spirit and arts community.  Using both short and long-term approaches, the plan provides both a vision of the arts as well as practical steps both the City and community can take to achieve those goals.