The implosion of an historic Detroit hotel on Saturday helped clear the way for a $650 million hockey arena that developers say will more than pay for itself in economic ripple effects, but critics see the demolition as the latest casualty of an ill-conceived scheme receiving public financing. The Red Wings will skate in a new arena slated to open in September 2017, the team and owner Mike Ilitch announced last year with splashy renderings and a pledge to "stabilize and develop dozens of underutilized blocks, create more jobs more quickly, and allow the city to spend public funds on other priorities.” But coming just weeks after Detroit became the largest city to declare bankruptcy in U.S. history, the Red Wings' management came under fire for their plan to use $283 million in public money (mostly in the form of tax increment financing). Vacant since 2003, the 13-story Park Avenue Hotel apparently stood in the way of the new arena's loading dock. Designed by Louis Kamper and completed in 1924, the Park Avenue Hotel was demolished over the weekend, its collapse captured in the drone video above. Since its glory days as a symbol of glitz in ascendant Detroit, the hotel had become a senior housing center and later a rehab facility. Locals gathered to bid the building farewell, reports the Detroit Free-Press. Meanwhile the public financing of arenas including the Red Wings' has sparked debate about whether wealthy private interests need such incentives from cash-strapped municipalities and states. The same day Detroit leveled the Park Avenue Hotel, late-night comedian John Oliver ridiculed the taxpayer funding of sports arenas on HBO, calling out the Red Wings and Ilitch in particular. The Red Wings responded today with a statement, saying "This project is about so much more than a world-class sports and entertainment arena; it's about transforming a core part of our city for the benefit of the entire community.” They did not, however, address Oliver's disdain for Little Caesars pizza, which Ilitch founded.
Posts tagged with "NBBJ":
In the office of the future, you can ride your bike to your desk, says global architecture firm NBBJ
In pondering the post-2025 office of the future, global architecture firm NBBJ believes in the power of "nudge architecture" as a counterpoint to alienating corporate culture and sedentary cubicle lifestyles. Asked by Fast Company to envisage the workplace a decade from now, the firm responded with a design where fitness and face-to-face social interactions are at the forefront. The firm projected bike paths throughout the building that would allow workers to ride their bikes right up to their desks, with ramps at every entrance. “The key ingredient is mobility, as we’re going to be wearing our computers, screens and everything else,” said NBBJ chair and partner Scott Wyatt. “But even today we have spectacular mobility as we aren’t chained to desks, file cabinets and computers. We can start to create spaces that better respond to human needs.” In a bid to dissipate hierarchical divides, stairs and elevators will be eliminated in favor of building atop a seamless, switch-backing incline. This graded layout means no more ensconcing of respective departments – Finance, HR, Management and Sales will have to learn to tolerate one another’s society. Ramps leading from one staggered “level” to the next create “extensive sight lines” where co-workers have more opportunity to interact, maintains NBBJ. According to Fast Company, the idea riffs off the long-held ‘Allen Curve’ theory, which estimates that workers are four times more likely to communicate with someone who is six feet away than a colleague who is 60 feet away, and unlikely to ever debrief at the water cooler with someone on another floor. The firm’s more conventional suggestions include bringing the outdoors indoors with exposure to indoor plants and natural light. There is talk of using dynamically shaded glass that adapts to changes in brightness gradations – which could allow for an all-glass edifice (roof included). NBBJ gets sci-fi creative with its suggestions of a building that is entirely responsive to user’s needs. As an example, the firm envisions sensors that differentiate between quiet and loud zones. This information is then relayed to a computer that shifts the floor plates accordingly to shape these spaces in real-time. The firm takes the mobility concept further with conference rooms that not only self-assemble when needed, but can migrate workers around large complexes during meetings so that you don’t need to walk from one building to another in a large campus-style office. The focus is on space-saving economies, said NBBJ partner Ryan Mullenix – and not yet another technological invention providing a ready excuse not to walk. “When you don’t have to fill 50 percent of your space with conference rooms, things can begin to move."
When it comes to responding to climate change, said Stacey Hooper, senior associate at NBBJ, architects have tended to be more reactive than proactive. "Our industry is so insular," she explained. "As a profession, we're really interested in the coolest, newest thing—not necessarily how we're going to support these bigger global challenges." Hooper had this in mind when she sat down with co-chair Luke Smith (Enclos) and the rest of the planning team to lay out the inaugural Facades+ LA conference, taking place in February in downtown Los Angeles. "We were talking about, 'Who are the influencers?'—not just in the building industry," recalled Hooper. "Where will real influence come from?" Hooper, who has practiced in California for more than a decade, includes government regulations high on the list of changemakers. "The state has been pecking away at energy consumption standards for 40 years," she noted. At the local level, Los Angeles has struggled to push through energy measures, water standards in particular. A representative from city government will deliver an introductory address on day 1 of Facades+ LA. "It seemed like a good introduction to a conference here to bring in a government body to talk about the necessity [of energy standards]," said Hooper. The tech industry has also made an impact, especially in California. "At NBBJ we see the influence of things like Silicon Valley; industry-driven change," said Hooper. "There's a need for high-tech workers, and they're being very demanding about what their environment is. That's a good thing because that demand drives change." Then there are the individual examples. Hooper mentions the Historic Green Village on Anna Maria Island in Florida, which achieved LEED Platinum and Net Zero Energy for its first 18 months of operation. "You have these smaller influencers that build into something big," she observed. "These are all great role models for the profession. The client is another piece of the environmental puzzle. Hooper recalls working on ZGF's Conrad N. Hilton Foundation building in Agoura Hills, California, designed to exceed LEED Platinum Certification. When the mechanical engineer told the team that direct sunlight could harm the building's passive mechanical system, the architects followed up with a series of digital studies before importing an exterior system from Germany. "That's my benchmark I'm thinking about now," said Hooper. "When I get asked, 'Where's curtain wall going?' I say, "'It's not doing enough; let's start thinking about things in a different way.'" Thinking about things in a different way is where the architect comes into the picture, said Hooper. "It's a great privilege and a real challenge," she explained. "You need to be able to leverage design thinking to really serve the environment, and serve humans at an individual scale. That's what I love about working on envelopes: it starts at this big citywide level, then it manifests in these finite details in our built environment." To learn more about Facades+ LA or to register, visit the conference website.
As AEC professionals who have practiced in different cities know, each place has its own unique architectural culture. That is one of the lessons Mic Patterson, VP of Strategic Development at Enclos, has learned during his years of involvement with the Facades+ conference series. “Instead of holding one annual conference, we’ve been doing three a year in different cities,” said Patterson. “My observation is that each of those has been different.” The newest event in the Facades+ stable, Facades+ AM, was inspired in part by a desire to bring the conversation about high performance facade design to more locales. The inaugural Facades+ AM four-hour program takes place next week in Seattle. “Everywhere makes sense to talk about building envelopes,” said Kerry Hegedus, architect at NBBJ and seminar chair of Facades+ AM Seattle. At the same time, he added, “in Seattle, we have a great architectural community that can be very experimental and, most importantly, aspirational. We need a forum like this to share these thoughts and developments.” A prime example of the seaport city’s aspirational architecture is the Bullitt Center, the subject of one of three panels at Facades+AM Seattle. Designed by Miller Hull and often referred to as “the greenest office building in the world,” the Bullitt Center embodies a no-holds-barred approach to sustainable design. “The Bullitt Foundation is that missing link the profession needs to evolve to a new, higher density, sustainable future,” said Hegedus. “We will find, I suspect, that this is not just a skin, but an integral part of the strategy of how this living building became a success. We need to build on this project’s great success.” But while some of the Facades+ AM program next week will be specific to Seattle, much of the discussion will hold value for designers and builders working in different contexts. More importantly, the lack of a script makes way for spontaneous, collaborative problem-solving. Speaking of another panel, on innovations in facade design and construction, Hegedus observed: “The beauty of this format, with this wildcard ‘Facade Futures,’ is that we don’t know what is going to come out of this.” To learn more about Facades+ AM or to register, visit the event website.
Every year at about this time, Los Angeles' design community comes together for a good cause—and a chance to show off their ingenuity working with an unusual building material. We’re talking Canstruction LA, which just wrapped its eighth outing. Like other Canstruction events nationwide, Canstruction LA invites teams of architects, engineers, builders, and designers to design and build sculptures entirely out of canned food. The 2014 competition produced an array of impressive designs and—most importantly—donated 28,551 cans of food to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Canstruction LA is put on by an all-volunteer steering committee under the auspices of the Society for Design Administration. Julie D. Taylor, Hon. AIA/LA, who serves on the committee, first read about the Canstruction program in a magazine. “[I] thought, this would be great for my clients to do,” said Taylor, who is the principal of Taylor & Company, a public relations firm for creative professionals. “I called up the national organization and said, ‘Who’s doing it in LA?’ They said, ‘No one. Why don’t you do it?’” So Taylor did, and the event keeps getting better. This year’s participants donated 7,000 more pounds of food than last year’s. Because the design teams are responsible for obtaining the cans, “it’s a major commitment for the firms that contribute,” said Taylor. Participants must also agree to a set of ground rules: they’re limited in size to a 10- by 10- by 8-foot cube; they have to use nutritious food, and the labels have to stay on. The designers can use a few additional materials to hold their creations together, but the sculptures should be mostly cans. The participating teams submitted drawings to the event organizers ahead of time. “Every year I look at them and I go, ‘There’s no way they’re going to be able to do that,” said Taylor. “And every year they knock me out.” Once on site, the designers have just one all-nighter to put their sculptures together. A jury of art, architecture, and culinary experts reviews the creations and awards several prizes, including the Juror’s Favorite, Best Use of Labels, Best Meal, and Structural Ingenuity. Visitors to the exhibition of finished works can vote for a People’s Choice honoree for one dollar, with all proceeds going to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. This year’s Juror’s Favorite was FOOD FIGHT! by PCL Construction Services, KPFF Consulting Engineers, and Callison, a face-off between a container of french fries and an apple that reflects on Angelenos’ struggle to access nutritious foods. Best Use of Labels went to Reflecting Hunger, by Steinberg Architects, which is based on Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate sculpture in Chicago. CANimal Style Trio, by American Society of Civil Engineers Younger Member Forum, which imagines a health-conscious update to the classic fast-food meal, took Best Meal. The spiraling Pineapple Twist, by NBBJ and Thornton Tomasetti won both Structural Ingenuity and People’s Choice. Honorable Mention went to CAN Get some Satisfaction, a Rolling Stones-inspired challenge to hunger by LARGE Architecture and HKS Inc. Canstruction LA 2014 took place for the second time at the Farmers and Merchants Bank in downtown Los Angeles as part of the Downtown Art Walk. “Being open during the Downtown Art Walk is incredible,” said Taylor. “The number of people who go through, and the diversity of people, is fabulous, and so that’s been a really big boon. We hope to be downtown for many, many years and engage the downtown community.”
Seattle's design review board has unanimously approved the three biodome scheme for the NBBJ-designed Amazon headquarters. The five-story building will include flexible brainstorming and work areas filled with plants and trees, while the ground level will include retail space and public viewing spots. Planned for the block is also an Amazon office tower of up to 38 stories, as well as a neighboring public park that will include a dog run area. The steel motifs that span the glass biodomes were modified since the August revisions to appear more buoyant and open. Retail space was expanded to 18,000 square feet and the update also added a cycle path.It will take the city approximately four to six weeks to issue a building permit.When complete, the Amazon headquarters will encompass three blocks in the Denny Triangle area. Construction of the the first out of three phases is underway.
As AN reported in our latest West Coast issue, designs for the Amazon headquarters in downtown Seattle have gone through another revision since this past May. Though still channeling greenhouses and conservatories, renderings reveal an update to the three interconnected domes on Block 19 that architecture firm NBBJ has dubbed "conjoined Catalan spheres." With a skin of white painted steel, the new design has moved beyond more traditional cross-hatching, and now nods to the pentagons of a soccer ball. But these forms are expanded and pushed to create an irregular pattern that exerts a more organic geometry. Read more about the project in AN's article or check out an expanded gallery of renderings below.
NBBJ's Los Angeles office will lead design on renovations to Lexington, KY's Rupp Arena and the city's convention center. With more than 23,000 seats, Rupp is the largest arena designed specifically for basketball in the United States. NBBJ, which will be working in collaboration with Lexington-based EOP, elected renovation over expansion or replacement after studying the 3-year-old arena. Renovation, they concluded, would save the city $215 million in construction costs. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said during a press conference that “the state will play some role” in the renovation projects, but did not say how. The University of Kentucky Wildcats draw large crowds to the downtown arena, as do concerts and other events. Designs for the renovation will be finalized over the next four months, the city said, with work expected to begin in late 2014. Construction will not interfere with the Wildcats’ basketball season. Renovations to the Lexington Convention Center will add 100,000 square feet to the facility, complementing Rupp’s renovation and amounting to a downtown arts and entertainment district. “Together, they will become the commercial, sports and entertainment destination that transforms Lexington,” said NBBJ partner Robert Mankin in a statement. Plans for that district last year included other new developments, including retail and housing, but have not secured financing. SCAPE Landscape Architecture was also selected earlier this year to re-imagine the landscape along Town Branch creek running through the site.
Amazon renderings released this week in a Seattle design review board meeting would have made the late Buckminster Fuller proud. They reveal new plans for an additional structure on the proposed three-block, three-tower Amazon complex in downtown Seattle: three five-story conjoined biodomes up to 95 feet tall, with the largest 130 feet in diameter. These glass and steel domes, envisioned by local firm NBBJ, would provide 65,000 square feet of interior flex work and brainstorm areas for Amazon employees, while leaving abundant space to accommodate trees and diverse plantings. Inspiration came from nature found indoors—in greenhouses, conservatories, and convention centers around the world. From Renzo Piano’s “Bolla” in Genoa, to the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken in Brussels. (Fun fact: the largest dome in the United States—an indoor sports arena—is in fact in Washington State, in Tacoma, a city south of Seattle.) Far from ordinary, the design, still in design review, have stirred a spectrum of reactions from Seattleites—excitement, as well as criticism. With the exception of lower-level retail space, the biodomes would be open to Amazon workers only. It's an unusual move for a company that has kept a low profile in Seattle. See more here.
Last week we reported on Gensler's planned triangular Nvidia headquarters in Santa Clara, the latest addition to the architectural arms race that is Silicon Valley. (We're seeing zoomy new headquarters for Apple, Samsung, HP, Nvidia, etc, etc.) Now there's yet another. Google's new project adjacent to its "Googleplex" in Mountain View, has unveiled their new designs by NBBJ. The new campus, which is being called Bay View, is comprised of nine crimped, predominantly-four-story buildings. Each building will be connected by a bridge; a connectivity that has become a staple of NBBJ's office work around the world, including its new headquarters for Samsung nearby. The competition to out-campus the competition seems to be heating up. Who's next?
Every year architects across the country take their talents to CANstruction, creating fascinating structures out of tin cans. CanstructionLA recently announced this year's winners, and there are some impressive results to share. Participants created local icons like the LAX Theme Building (RBB Architects), the California state flag (Clark Construction and Thornton Tomasetti), and the Port of LA (RBB Architects). The jury's favorite, Filling a (Growing) Need, by NBBJ and Buro Happold, was made up of an undulating landscape of canned kidney beans, potatoes, beets, and mixed vegetables. The event contributed 21,076 pounds of food and $12,034 to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.
As Apple and Facebook have proven, corporate complexes are all the rage these days in Silicon Valley. Samsung (Apple's phone nemesis) is the latest tech titan to add to the roster of architectural Bay Area campuses, rivaling Apple’s planned circular headquarters and Facebook’s Gehry-designed West Campus. The company plans to build a 1.1 million square foot sales and R&D headquarters on its current North San Jose site. Designed NBBJ, it will include a 10-story tower, an amenity pavilion, and a parking garage. Based on renderings released to the Silicon Valley Business Journal last month, the tower will contain three distinct volumes wrapping around an open courtyard; the parking structure will be covered in living walls; and the five-pronged pavilion will showcase a perforated roof design. Design documents also reveal that various floors will house open-offices, 300+ work stations, a fitness room, and several terraces.