Since AN first looked at the proposed design for Amazon's three-tower complex in the Denny Triangle neighborhood in Seattle last May—and after feedback from the Seattle community and meetings with the Design Review Board over the summer—NBBJ has released new renderings. And the project now has a nickname—Rufus—a nod to the late “Amazon dog,” a Corgi who kept employees company in the office since the early days. In response to recommendations, the evolved design includes updates to elevations, details along the lower stories, weather protection, and open spaces. Facades are asymmetrical, stepped, and diverse. In a skin study, the office tower on the southeast Block 14 sports a façade of operable windows, glass, pre-finished metal panels and gold accent trim, which connects to the neighboring meeting center via a sky-bridge. Other perspectives reveal glass curtain walls on the six-story meeting center, leaving the auditorium and stairwell exposed. On Block 19, to the southwest, a covered walkway would provide protection during Seattle's rainy winter months. There are retail storefronts on the lower levels, which will augment the outdoor public parks and plazas. The combined towers are projected to accommodate approximately 12,000 Amazon employees. A final design recommendation meeting is scheduled for next week, which will further address building materials, connections between towers and blocks, full building elevations, open space, and public art. Click on a thumbnail below to launch a slideshow.
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The largest development proposed in the history of downtown Seattle—an approximately 3 million square-foot headquarters for Amazon—may take eight years to complete. Project details presented at a recent downtown design review committee meeting revealed that Amazon’s glassy three block project, designed by NBBJ (designers of the recently-c0mpleted Gates Foundation, also in Seattle), will be built in three phases of two to four years. The pieces—"Block 14" to the south, "Block 19" to the west, and "Block 20" to the north— would each include a tower up to 37 stories tall surrounded by smaller buildings connected by skybridges. Phase one at Block 14 on Leonora Street will include a 1 million square-foot tower and a 40,000 square-foot meeting space and auditorium building. Amazon's site resides in Denny Triangle west of Westlake Avenue, a small, but central neighborhood sandwiched between the downtown business and retail district to the south and South Lake Union to the north. Although the majority of the three blocks are now covered with parking lots, there is a building on each block that will be demolished: the Sixth Avenue Inn on Block 14, the King Kat Theater on Block 19, and a building occupied by Toyota of Seattle on Block 20. The most recent early design proposal focuses on plans for open space development on the site. Each will contain distinct landscaping, under the themes of "The Gallery," "The Park," and "The Garden." The first phase—the Gallery—will contain spaces for sculptures and other art; The Park will contain a larger field and an upper level dog area for the famously dog-friendly company; the last block will include a courtyard garden encircling the third tower. Check out more concept images and early design renderings below.
The biggest new architecture project in Los Angeles just got a much smaller list of candidates. The General Services Administration (GSA) has released the shortlist for the new U.S. Courthouse in LA, a design-build project where architects are partnered with builders. When completed, the building, located on a 3.7 acre lot at 107 South Broadway, will measure 600,000 square feet. It’s projected to cost $322 million and be completed by 2016. The shortlisted teams include: Skidmore Owings and Merrill with Clark Yazdani Studio and Gruen Associates with Hensel Phelps Brooks + Scarpa and HMC Architects with McCarthy NBBJ Architects with Mortensen Shortlisted firms will now be expected to submit plans as part of a Request For Proposals. The winner is expected to be named by this August or September, and design is set to begin by the end of this year. Those who didn’t make the cut included Morphosis, Michael Maltzan Architects, Ehrlich Architects, AC Martin, Johnson Fain Architects, Fentress Architects, Rios Clementi Hale, and Cannon Design. Another exclusion was Perkins + Will, who GSA originally chose to design the project before it stalled several years ago.
It's official: the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (METRO) has revealed the shortlist for its Union Station Master Plan RFIQ (Request For Information & Qualifications), which seeks a team to oversee the redevelopment of 42 acres of land and up to six million square feet of entitlements around the station. "In addition to creating a model for Transit Oriented Development in the region, it is now important that the property be planned with an eye to its role as the center of regional transportation," said METRO in an official document released by its executive management committee. Shortlisted teams include: EE&K, a Perkins Eastman Company; Gruen Associates/ Grimshaw Architects; IBI Group/ Foster + Partners; Moore Ruble Yudell and TEN Arquitectos; NBBJ/Ingenhoven Architects; and Renzo Piano Building Workshop/ Parsons Transportation Group. An impressive list, but perhaps even more notable are those that didn't make the cut. They include heavyweights like Morphosis, OMA, RTKL/Zaha Hadid Architects, SOM, Gensler, AECOM, Johnson Fain, Sasaki Associates, and Barton Myers Associates, to name just a few. Also missing was ARUP, who according to multiple sources was conflicted out of the competition at the last moment, leaving several teams scrambling to find new engineering partners. Each shortlisted team, which METRO said "were evaluated for qualifications and technical competency," will receive a stipend of $10,000 to complete their plans for METRO's RFP. According to METRO, a winning team will be selected next March or April and the master plan should be completed by August 2013.
Stanford University has been commissioning a storm of new buildings, and it just opened the Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge, the centerpiece for its med school. The $90.2 million project squeezes in a range of programs, including a mock operating theater for training purposes, a 350-seat conference hall, and the student center. Visually, the building needed to be the "greeter" for Stanford Medical School, which previously had no architectural focal point. San Francisco firm NBBJ went for a touch of the neoclassical, with a deep overhang anchored by columns. What's interesting here is how the architects grappled with the design guidelines of the university, which call for red roofs and limestone cladding to match the historic California Mission-style buildings of the main campus. Here, the fascia and underside of that overhang are actually covered in Trespa rainscreen panels, printed to look like mahogany or similarly dark wood. The architects were looking for a low-maintenance material to give them some natural texture. While it's definitely not the same effect as you'd get with real wood, it's a clever way to get "red" onto the roof. Also significant is how the medical school made a big symbolic gesture to its students by devoting the top floor--with some of the best views anywhere on campus--into a student lounge and fitness center. Only medical students and a few select faculty will be allowed to hang out on the patio (right under that big overhang) and jog on the treadmills overlooking those views. Now, if only the school could do something about the insane work shifts in medical residency.