Posts tagged with "SOM":

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SOM designs first public library for Chicago’s West Loop

In an old Harpo Productions building in Chicago's West Loop, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) has designed a new branch for the Chicago Public Library, the first outpost of the system in the neighborhood. The two-story, 16,500-square-foot building unites two older structures into a single cultural center for the area. The interior design takes its cues from the neighborhood's historic warehouses and stripped back existing partitions and finishes to reveal the brick and timber structure. Shelves were kept low so that spaces could feel and sight lines could be maintained. Brian Lee, design partner at SOM said in a statement: "The unique architecture and scale of the West Loop reflects a vital part of Chicago’s industrial history, while the growing residential and mixed-use character of the neighborhood points to an exciting vision of the city’s future." A sweeping graphic runs along the library's walls representing "story lines" from classic children's books and novels that visitors are invited to follow. Coloring throughout is golden and warm, playing off the reddish tones in the exposed brick and wood. Wall text highlights the words of global poets and authors that the designers selected.
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Five finalists release their visions for O’Hare expansion

In November 2018, news first broke of the five-firm shortlist competing to design the $8.7 billion Terminal 2 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The star-studded list held both international and local firms, and today, Chicago city officials have made public designs for each team’s proposal. Chicagoans and frequent fliers have until January 23 to vote for their favorite designs and offer feedback, here. The O’Hare 21 expansion, which will expand O’Hare from 5.5 million square feet to 8.9 million square feet, is a pet project of outgoing mayor Rahm Emanuel. O’Hare currently serves nearly 80 million travelers a year, and with demand projected to grow, the extant Terminal 2 (built in 1944) needs to be expanded. The team of Colorado’s Fentress Architects, engineering and architecture firm EXP, Brook Architecture, and Garza Architects have proposed an undulating terminal with a ribbon-like canopy, held up by slender, full-length columns. A split in the terminal’s massing would allow natural light into the center of the building, a necessity given that the team has stacked more floors into its terminal than the other four. Foster + Partners has been working with local firms Epstein and JGMA, and have produced a dramatically curved, cave-like terminal fronted by an enormous wall of glass. Foster’s terminal resembles a draped piece of fabric swaying in the wind that splits into three separate arched halls at the rear but opens to what they’ve dubbed a “theater of aviation” at the tarmac. The use of a crisscrossing truss system topped with glass creates a coffered ceiling effect while also allowing in natural light. From the renderings, it appears that the terminal’s interior will be clad in a warm wood finish. Studio ORD Joint Venture Partners, the team formed by Chicago’s Studio Gang, Corgan AssociatesSolomon Cordwell Buenz, and STL Architects, was heavily influenced by themes of convergence and confluence. Three curves join in the middle to carve out space for a massive central skylight. The roof of each curve, formed from ribs that extend into the terminal’s interior, tent in the center; it appears the underside of each will be clad in timber. The team has described their proposal as one that’s layered but easy to navigate. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), who have partnered with  Ross Barney Architects and Arup, are proposing ORD, from a shortening of Orchard Field, the original name of O’Hare (unrelated to Studio ORD above). Although their plan is squarer than the others, the SOM team has also designed an undulating roof supported by coffered timber trusses. The roof would cantilever out over the terminal’s tall glass walls, and according to the video, ample landscaping that references Illinois’s nickname as “the Prairie State.” Intriguingly, the terminal would also include enclosed outdoor plazas, complete with tree-strung hammocks, for passengers to relax in. Last but certainly not least, Santiago Calatrava and local firm HKS have presented the most ambitious of the five proposals (though it fits quite snugly within Calatrava’s oeuvre). Resembling a ship’s prow, the glass facade bulges in the center before terminating at a sharp point. Inside, large, unbroken spans are supported by Calatrava’s signature structural “ribs” to create a soaring interior space. The team has also proposed turning the existing parking area to the terminal’s rear into a landscaped “hotel, retail, and business complex,” though there’s no telling how much that would add to the budget. The city and Chicago Department of Aviation are being pushed to make a decision before Mayor Emanuel departs in May of this year, and the project is expected to finish in 2026. Models of each team’s submission can be viewed at the Chicago Architecture Center until January 31, and Terminal 2 will be displaying the new designs digitally until the 31st as well.
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Lincoln Yards cuts plans for soccer stadium and large entertainment venue

Chicago’s unbuilt Lincoln Yards mega-development will no longer include a soccer stadium and entertainment district. Under pressure from constituents, Alderman Brian Hopkins of Chicago’s 2nd Ward has rejected developer Sterling Bay’s proposal to include a 20,000 seat United Soccer League stadium, as well as a series of large Live Nation–run entertainment venues. Live Nation will divest itself from the development, as will the United Soccer League and Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, who is the majority owner of a Chicago franchise. Alderman Hopkins has called for Sterling Bay to retool the project to bring more open space to the development in place of the stadium and venues, and bring a variety of smaller, scattered venues through the site, as well as restaurants and theaters. The public has yet to hear this proposal, despite Lincoln Yards' presence on the January 24 Chicago Planning Commission meeting agenda and confirmation from Mayor Rahm Emanuel that the project will "move forward on a balanced path," Crain's Chicago Business reported. Expected to cost upwards of $6 million dollars, Lincoln Yards will transform nearly 55 acres of former industrial land along the Chicago River into a dense cluster of retail, office, and residential development, delivering a planned 5,000 residential units, 500 hotel rooms, a mile of new riverwalk, and an extension to the 606. Designed by SOM, the project is slated to include multiple skyscrapers reaching a height of up to 650 feet, making the overall height of the development as tall as some structures in the Loop. This isn’t the first time Sterling Bay has had to trim its plans for Lincoln Yards; community input dictated a decrease in the maximum height of the high-rise towers and an increase in publicly-accessible open space in response to a community meeting in November. The move to ax Live Nation from the plan had advocates of The Hideout feeling cautiously optimistic as the Live Nation–run spaces could have threatened the independent venue and provided competition, despite Sterling Bay's commitment to keeping The Hideout a component of the Lincoln Yards plan. While Sterling Bay has agreed to provide opportunities for independent music operators to participate, concerns remain. The City of Chicago introduced the Cortland/Chicago River Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district in November, which encompasses the entirety of the Lincoln Yards site. As Sterling Bay would be the primary property owner, it would be allowed to pay for the project and its future improvements through TIF funds, raising questions of the appropriateness of the new district, as TIF is intended to revive struggling neighborhoods. Members of the City Council Progressive Caucus have been advocating for a measure that would allow the city to provide TIF funds only to projects that cannot be completed without them. Sterling Bay has also yet to address how many of the residential units will be considered affordable, or the demand the project will place on new schools. While some concerns regarding infrastructure and transportation have been addressed, area residents remain concerned about traffic and congestion, as well as the availability and equitability of public transportation.
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Chicago culls its O’Hare expansion shortlist to five big-name firms

Five finalists have been selected in the competition to design the new $8.7 billion expansion of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, narrowing the field from the longlist of 12 released in September. The shortlist features a mix of local names and international studios: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), Santiago Calatrava, Foster + Partners, Chicago’s own Studio Gang, and Colorado’s Fentress Architects. The expansion, part of a modernization initiative dubbed O’Hare 21 by outgoing mayor Rahm Emanuel, will totally replace the V-shaped Terminal 2, a holdover from the airport’s opening in 1944. O’Hare is one of the busiest airports in the world and currently services nearly 80 million passengers a year, and O’Hare 21 will expand the airport’s footprint from 5.5 million square feet to 8.9 million square feet. Such a large project means that these teams likely won’t be going it alone. Fentress is joined by Brook Architecture, Garza Architects, and engineering and architecture firm EXP, Calatrava will be working with local firm HKS, while Foster + Partners has teamed up with local firms Epstein and JGMA, and Studio Gang has partnered with Corgan Associates, Solomon Cordwell Buenz, and STL Architects. SOM will also be joined by Ross Barney Architects and Arup in their bid. After a review by the Department of Aviation, one team will be chosen to design the Terminal 2–replacing O’Hare Global Terminal, while a second will be tapped to design the airport’s two new satellite concourses. Perhaps what’s most interesting is who didn’t make the cut. BIG was knocked out, as were HOK and Gensler. Even Helmut Jahn, a Chicago wunderkind who designed O’Hare’s Terminal 1 in 1986, wasn’t chosen. Now that the shortlist has been chosen, an official selection committee of business, civic, and transportation leaders from Chicago will choose who ultimately gets to design the new facilities (with local architecture firms and cultural institutions providing technical support). Mayor Emanuel is pushing the city to choose before he leaves in May of 2019, and if all goes as planned, the multi-phase O’Hare 21 should be complete by 2026.
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SOM’s proposed megatower on the Chicago Spire site rejected by alderman

Acting on behalf of his Streeterville constituents, Chicago’s 42nd Ward alderman Brendan Reilly has rejected Related Midwest’s current plan to build on the former site of the Chicago Spire. Last spring, the developer announced its intention to construct two stepped towers just west of Lake Shore Drive, one reaching the height of 1,100 feet, with 300 condominium units and 175 luxury hotel rooms, and another 850-foot tower with 550 residential units. Designed by David Childs with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the two towers at 400 North Lake Shore Drive would sit on a four-story plinth and would open out at a skewed angle to Lake Michigan. In addition, Related Midwest committed to the long-awaited completion of DuSable Park as well as extending the Riverwalk under Lake Shore Drive and out to the lakefront, with a public esplanade running along the Ogden Slip just north of the site. According to an email sent to his constituents, Alderman Reilly contacted the development team at Related Midwest in August, articulating various concerns voiced by residents during meetings between condominium associations and the developer. Related Midwest responded, but according to Alderman Reilly, failed to address the major concerns about their proposal.  The project will need a zoning change and aldermanic approval before it goes to construction. “I always strive to negotiate positive outcomes when considering development proposals,” the alderman noted in the email. “As with any project, my ultimate goal is to strike a fair balance and approve responsible projects that will be successful for the owners, while enhancing the character and vitality of the surrounding neighborhood.” Residents have asked for the complete elimination of the hotel use and a reduction of the podium height and bulk, and have voiced the need for the project to address traffic issues. Of primary concern is access to the site via East North Water Street, a significant aspect of the design that nearby residents have asked to be restricted, effectively requiring a redesign of the primary entrance to the structure. Residents have also asked for the developer to make greater use of the Lake Shore Drive access ramp system and below-grade parking systems to manage deliveries, service vehicles, and pedestrian pick-ups and drop-offs, away from residential development to the west, and tucked under Lake Shore Drive. Constituents have also asked for the project to address the public space components of the project, including the elimination of a public esplanade along the Ogden Slip, a dredged body of water that runs parallel to the north branch of the Chicago River. Related Midwest must also create a security plan for DuSable Park and the Riverwalk connection. Construction of DuSable Park, the promenade at the Ogden Slip and the extension of the Riverwalk to the lakefront are components to the Cityfront Center Master Plan, approved by the City Council in 1985. Cityfront Center would encourage residential and commercial building between Navy Pier and North Michigan Avenue but would leave the developer responsible for public works improvements, many of which have yet to be completed.  The time it has taken to complete the public space components, many of which were promised under Mayor Harold Washington’s administration, raises questions as far as the effectiveness of privatizing public space. While Streeterville includes some of Chicago’s tallest skyscrapers, the blocks immediately surrounding the former Spire site are defined by lower height residential structures, including the Riverview Townhomes at three stories, and the Lofts at River East at six. The rejection of the current plan for 400 North Lake Shore Drive comes at a time where several large developments announced with fanfare this past spring are being examined closely by neighborhood residents and their elected ward leaders, including the 78 in the South Loop, and Lincoln Yards between Lincoln Park and Bucktown. Alderman Reilly recently approved an update of the plans to redevelop Union Station after the first version of the development was lauded by neighbors and preservationists.
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SOM rethinks city hall design with a new energy-efficient skin

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SOM has designed a master plan for downtown Long Beach, California, which involves new mixed-use developments across a 22-acre area. The Long Beach City Hall and Port Headquarters complex, comprising two new buildinds, is the first outcome of this planning effort. The project, led by SOM in collaboration with Syska Hennessy Group, Clark Construction Group, Plenary Group, and Johnson Controls International, is part of the largest public-private development on the West Coast, attracting attention and visits from municipalities across the country. The project team was able to reduce risk to the public side through a public-private partnership with a facilities operation maintenance (P3FOM) delivery method.
 
  • Facade Manufacturer Benson Industries
  • Architects SOM
  • Facade Installer Benson Industries; Clark Construction Group, LLC (general contractor)
  • Facade Consultants Benson/SOM/Clark (facade development); Nabih Youssef Associates (structural analysis)
  • Location Long Beach, CA
  • Date of Completion 2019 (projected)
  • System curtain wall
  • Products unitized facade assembled by Benson from insulated glass (Viracon), extruded aluminum, formed aluminum (City Hall building), and shadow boxes composed of extruded aluminum slats with insulating glass at the face (Port building)
The project will replace Long Beach’s old city hall while adding new civic and infrastructure amenities such as parking, landscaping, a library, and marketplace. The two new buildings are identical in massing and proportion, utilizing long and narrow floor plates with split cores to offer better connections between interior and exterior environments. Syska Hennessy Group, the MEP and sustainable design consultant on the project, said the building's operating costs and carbon footprint were designed to be 50 percent lower than those of a standard office building. This was achieved through a collaborative design process involving preliminary energy modeling, solar shading studies, and building system schematic sketches to help resolve architectural and programmatic decisions. The primary feature of the project is an underfloor air conditioning system integrated into the floor plate structure. The design approach allows for taller ceiling heights and yields improved daylighting and aesthetics by exposing the ceiling finishes. Syska said the project is targeting LEED Gold certification, with all buildings exceeding ASHRAE 90.1-2007 by at least 22 percent before renewables are taken into account, and 34 percent after. Exterior curtain walls are composed of insulated glass manufactured by Viracon. The glazing is integrated into extruded aluminum framing fabricated and painted in Korea. The components were sent to Benson Industries' assembly shop located in Tijuana, Mexico, where they were assembled into unitized systems. This approach minimized costly labor on the job site. Subtle detailing differences emerged on the building envelope, which is composed of unitized facades fabricated and installed by Benson. At City Hall, the facade features solid white panels made from formed aluminum, while units with shadow boxes at the Port building are made from extruded aluminum slats with insulating glass at the face. These “shadow box” assemblies were carefully designed to be contextual and were inspired by colors and textures taken from shipping containers at the nearby Long Beach Port. The project, currently under construction, is scheduled for a late-2019 opening.
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SOM uses interdisciplinary collaboration to design innovative facade systems

On September 21, Facades+ is coming to Chicago for the first time in three years. The conference features moderators and speakers of leading firms from across the country. Skidmore, Owings & Merril—the architecture and engineering firm that has called Chicago home for over 80 years—will have a particularly strong presence at the upcoming conference. To learn more about what Chicago’s largest firm is up to and to investigate larger industry trends, AN sat down with SOM’s Dan O’Riley, associate director, and Lucas Tryggestad, technical director. The Architect’s Newspaper: For over a century, Chicago has been at the forefront of architecture and engineering. What do you find most interesting about facade and structural innovation in Chicago today? Dan O’Riley: What’s most interesting about innovation in Chicago is that, aside from all the advancements the industry has made in materials, design, and construction over the years, the city continues to innovate based on the same philosophy of discovery and collaboration that has always put Chicago at the forefront of architecture and engineering. Chicago is the city that “makes no little plans,” and while nothing is built without reference to the past, the city is constantly looking towards the future. For example, 400 Lake Shore Drive, currently under development, blends contemporary materials, such as glass, with traditional materials, such as terra-cotta, matching historical vernacular, but creating something totally new. We’re also seeing new designs and concepts that go beyond the standard limitations of glass, which are applied to facades at larger scales, such as the Apple Store in the shadow of the Tribune Tower. And projects such as the IIT Innovation Center are experimenting with new facade materials, such as ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) foil cushions. Together these types of innovations continue to keep Chicago at the forefront. Currently, what projects are you working on that demonstrate SOM’s longstanding synergy of architecture and engineering? Lucas Tryggestad: For 80 years, SOM has operated at the forefront of design, engineering, and urban planning. While each project is unique, collectively the firm’s projects represent the integration of these disciplines. Several of our current and recent projects represent this synergy through the facade expressions, the space layout, and how buildings interact with their contexts. In North Sydney, Australia, 100 Mount Street has an innovative, cross-braced exoskeleton structure and soaring glass curtain wall. It has an offset core and two rows of columns that allow for a 6-meter cantilever running the whole length of the facade. In Salt Lake City’s financial district, our 111 Main project is a Class A office tower anchoring a larger urban redevelopment in the area. To ensure that the project would not compromise the functionality of an existing theater at its base, the entire structure is suspended from a steel hat truss on top of the building, allowing the theater to slide under the tower’s south side. These synergies have always been integral to SOM’s buildings throughout the firm’s history, visible here in Chicago from the Inland Steel Building, the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) and 875 North Michigan Avenue (formerly John Hancock Center), to projects currently underway, such as “The Porch” on 330 North Green Street. How can AEC firms confront the challenges and opportunities presented by sustainable design in facade systems, and how can fenestration and enclosure innovation to boost performance? DO: Innovations in sustainable design for facades and facade systems must begin from a holistic point of view. The initial stages of a project’s design should account for and integrate different building systems and programs within the building, drawing input and expertise from different design and engineering disciplines to create better and more informed high-performance solutions. The idea of high-performance design at SOM is an interdisciplinary collaboration integral to the total set of design activities that develop sustainable environments responsive to their environmental context and recognizing the impact of the built environment on the planet’s collective resources. By prioritizing collaboration, AEC firms have the opportunity to design and take advantage of integrated mechanical systems, active facades, and energy-efficient strategies for solar control, thermal comfort, glare, and other factors affection a project’s overall sustainable performance. For example, the Roche Diagnostics Learning and Development Center in Indianapolis, designed by SOM, has a building enclosure that utilizes high-performance, low-e coated, argon-filled insulated glazing units and a window-to-wall ratio of less than 60 percent. The east, west, and southern facades also incorporate computer-controlled exterior Venetian blinds to protect and regulate the building envelope. Interdisciplinary collaboration allowed the project team to respond to the needs of the client and the context of the project itself to achieve a very strict set of high-performance goals, with great success. SOM is increasingly taking on transportation-related projects; Moynihan Train Hall, Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport Terminal 2, Denver Union Station, to name a few. What lessons from these projects are translatable to tower and super tall construction? LT: SOM is active across a wide range of practices and research areas, including transportation, aviation, healthcare, urban planning, and interior design. While each project is distinct, the lessons learned from what we’re doing for an airport terminal, for example, inform what we’re doing for a rail and transit hub. This is the value of working within an integrated practice, where ideas and strategies are continually evolving to create buildings that are distinctive and synthesize programmatic function, structural rationale, and environmental sustainability.
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Facades+ Chicago will explore structural and facade systems at dizzying heights

On September 21, Facades+ is coming to Chicago for the first time since 2015. At the conference, speakers from leading architecture, engineering, and facade consultant firms will discuss their bodies of work and lead in-depth workshops. Workshops will cover modular facade design, the challenges and triumphs of large-scale work in Chicago, and how to control the quality, quantity, and directionality of light through facade design.

Dan O’Riley, associate director at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), and Lucas Tryggestad, technical director at SOM, are the conference co-chairs.

Located on the southwest corner of Lake Michigan, Chicago is the metropolis of the Great Lakes and has the architectural output to prove it. Since the second half of the 19th century, the city has been at the forefront of design and engineering, pioneering both steel-frame construction and the skyscraper.

For over 80 years, SOM has called the city home. Over the course of its nearly century-long operation, SOM has designed and engineered thousands of projects in over 50 countries. These include the world’s tallest tower, Dubai’s approximately half-mile tall Burj Khalifa, the ongoing conversion of the 1913 Beaux Arts James A. Farley Post Office into the Moynihan Train Hall, and the forcefully engineered Hancock Tower.

Founded in 1979, Chicago’s Kreuck + Sexton has stamped its footprint across the country. Institutional projects such as the Grogan | Dove FBI Building and the Spertus Institute feature faceted and folded glass facades that are coordinated with the functions of interior spaces.

Outside of the realm of supertall and infrastructural projects, local firms such as Landon Bone Baker are demonstrating the creative and sustainable possibilities of affordable and mixed-income housing across Chicagoland. Nearby projects Terra 459, Rosa Parks Apartments, and The Jackson serve as templates that can be emulated across the country.

The rise of Chicago’s broad portfolio of stone and glass-clad skyscrapers could not have occurred without the great density of engineering and facade systems firms located in the region. Ventana and other Chicago firms continue to push the envelope of facade and structural systems with projects such as the Kellogg School of Management, a collaboration with Toronto's KPMB Architects, which features an undulating 160,000 square-foot curtainwall.

Further information may be found here.

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Kansas City International Airport tones down design in new renderings

Progress on the $1.3-billion Kansas City International Airport (KCI) is moving along after delays and a brief developer kerfuffle in December that saw AECOM attempt to win the project back from the Maryland-based Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate/SOM team. After soliciting community feedback, the SOM-led design team has released another round of renderings and revealed a more subdued version of the curvy terminal buildings seen previously. Voters initially approved the $1 billion replacement of the aging KCI last November. The clover-shaped airport originally opened in 1972, and its three drive-up, horseshoe-shaped terminals were rendered difficult to navigate following the release of new airport security requirements the same year. SOM’s H-shaped airport will consolidate all three terminals into a single building while keeping the curbside access that Missourians are used to. The original renderings, revealed after Edgemoor and SOM had secured the project, depicted a light, glassy building with a rippling roof and sail-like fins. In the updated designs, the roof has been smoothed out and flattened, a two-story fountain originally located in the departure and arrivals area has been removed, and a 4,500-square-foot lounge for frequent fliers has been added. Instead of the indoor fountain in the check-in area, which SOM removed to speed up arrivals, an outdoor water feature has been proposed for the area in front of the parking garage. A centralized “cul-de-sac” with retail and dining options along with a round performance space has also been replaced with a more rectangular "town square," which will feature local businesses and a teardrop-shaped performing area. The number of bathrooms will more than double, from the current 63 to 130, and SOM has used community feedback to design wide, accessible bathrooms for those traveling with baggage. Seven more community meetings have been scheduled for this September as Edgemoor continues to solicit stakeholder feedback. Demolition of KCI’s Terminal A is currently on hold while the Federal Aviation Administration conducts its environmental assessment, which should be complete sometime in September or October. The airport has already pushed its opening back from November 2021 to fall 2022 as the number of gates has risen from 35 to 39­­—the KCI currently has 31 gates in operation. While no budget has officially been set yet, the cost estimate has risen from $1 billion to $1.3–$1.4 billion, with the airlines pledging to pay for any additional costs.
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San Antonio’s architecture has a bright future illuminated by a rich heritage

When it comes to notable architecture in Texas, it would seem strange to place San Antonio on par with Houston or Dallas. As the second-largest city in the state, San Antonio seems to only mimic the kind of architectural largesse seen in those cities. There are plenty of jewel-like late modern skyscrapers and austere civic buildings by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Caudill Rowlett Scott, and Marmon Mok in the city, but these are not the kinds of projects one would mention in the same breath as Houston landmarks like Johnson/Burgee’s Pennzoil Place and Williams Tower, Renzo Piano’s sublime Menil Collection, or Fort Worth's iconic Kimbell Art Museum by Louis Kahn. A selective itinerary of San Antonio’s past and future architectural projects reveals a steady commitment to buildings with bold, expressive forms that reference the city’s unique environment, history, and culture. Alamo City warmed up to these compelling architectural additions as it expanded during the late 1940s and early ’50s, and became a home to energy and utility companies during the 1970s and ’80s. Funded by philanthropic organizations and influxes of oil cash, many of these buildings are now hidden by giant, swooping highway overpasses, corporate plazas, and other developer-driven projects. Despite the earlier innovative and controversial projects, San Antonio remains overlooked. This will soon change. Newly appointed mayor Ronald Nirenberg has re-energized discussions about creating new housing, battling gentrification, and committing to more public art. This will certainly place a spotlight on San Antonio’s rich architectural offerings while reminding us of how these and other past projects have embodied this city’s distinctive topography, Latino heritage, and dry, arid environment. Emilio Ambasz’s Lucile Halsell Conservatory, completed in 1988 at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens, is a good starting point. Located on the city’s northeast side, Ambasz’s scheme took advantage of the sunken site with a series of prismlike canopies that appear to rise out of the bermed earth like upturned shards of glass. Each canopy creates its own kind of climate and features particular plant ecologies—architecture designed, as Paul Goldberger observed in 1987, for the interaction between plants and humans. The project is notable for its combination of building, landscape, and infrastructure into a seamless whole. The Lucile Halsell Conservatory accommodated some very particular environmental and topographical conditions, and did so with a formal and technological expressiveness unlike anything that had been built in San Antonio. Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta’s San Antonio Central Library, completed in 1995, continues in this vein. Here, cubic volumes are stacked at various angles, creating a series of triangular-shaped courtyards intended to be outdoor reading rooms. Legorreta’s debt to Mexican architect Luis Barragán’s minimalist polychromy is clear. Working with the painter Mathias Goéritz, Barragán created spaces framed by walls and surfaces doused in highly saturated reds, blues, yellows, oranges, magentas, and pinks. At his Central Library, Legorreta appears to invert Barragán with a simple, playful interplay of volumes that seem to be wrought from its own color palette as well. The reddish-brown colored cubes appear gutted in some places, revealing inner planes of yellow, blue, and purple. When viewed from the air, the Central Library appears otherworldly, framing circular plazas made from grass and limestone and located on a triangular-shaped site near the geographical center of the city, as if something from another time had arrived here. That a Mexican architect was chosen for this project is important. As the seventh-largest city in the United States, San Antonio has one of the biggest Spanish-speaking populations. Over 62 percent of its residents are of Latino origin. The appeal of Legorreta’s Central Library stemmed as much from the need for more public libraries as it did from the desire to reflect the city’s heritage. Though this was the first building in San Antonio designed specifically to reflect the city’s Mexican-American heritage, there are older buildings that expressed the cultural richness so important to the city. The Alamo and the four Spanish Missions (recently designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites) all combine Spanish and Catholic influences while referring to the rituals and structures of indigenous peoples. This is to say that San Antonio’s architecture continues to find a way to embody its venerable cultural geography. It also incorporates its distinct environmental geography. San Antonio is a city hewn from mesquite-dappled hills, limestone quarries, and deep-set aquifers. Lake|Flato continues to be the standard-bearer among the city’s firms for a kind of tectonic and environmental sensitivity that is immediately recognizable for its ingenious references to these conditions. Imagine a version of John Lautner’s spacious geometric forms where large cornices made from corrugated metal peer over meticulous compositions of glass, limestone, slats, and brise-soleil made from local woods, all culminating in views that privilege the rolling, arid mesquite and persimmon landscapes of the Texas Hill Country. This would not do justice to Lake|Flato’s work, but perhaps it is as close as we can get to a kind of South Texas regionalism. Yet some of Lake|Flato’s current work points to something altogether different. Their recently completed pavilion at Confluence Park designed in collaboration with Matsys connects the joining of the San Antonio River and San Pedro Creek, to nearby Mission Concepción, an 18th-century basilica. This is a highly-charged site in predominantly Spanish-speaking South San Antonio. The most visually arresting parts of Lake|Flato’s project are the concrete “petals” that reference the local flora while reminding the most architecturally astute observer of Spanish-born Mexican engineer Felix Candela’s sweeping hyperboloid structures, like Los Manantiales Restaurant (1958) in Mexico City’s Xochimilco Park, or the Chapel Lomas de Cuernavaca (also 1958) in Cuernavaca. Confluence Park is also part of the larger San Pedro Creek Cultural Park. This scheme is projected to transform a once-neglected 2.2-mile-long drainage spur into a cultural attraction with water features, public art, and areas dedicated to the preservation of local grasses and wildlife. In a nod to its aspirations, lead architect Henry R. Muñoz and others have embraced this project’s more common nickname—the “Latino High Line”—which may say more about Diller Scofidio + Renfro/Field Operation’s celebrated scheme than the actual goal of the project, which is to create a version of the Riverwalk devoid of its tourist traffic while celebrating Latino heritage. Urban designers are finding new ways to move San Antonio forward while referring to curious artifacts from the history of American cities. Architect Antonio Petrov, who teaches at the University of Texas at San Antonio and is the founder of Urban Future Lab, is one of the most outspoken voices when it comes to redevelopment in the city. He is a proponent of bringing back skyrides, which were already used during HemisFair ’68 as a means of connecting the city’s downtown with San Antonio International Airport. Petrov’s proposal, though evocative of pie-in-the-sky urban transportation schemes, is to be taken seriously. Similar proposals were actually in use at the 1932 Century of Progress Exhibition in Chicago as well as in Disneyland and Disney World (which were, in a sense, attempts to envision cities of the future.) Other schemes, though funded by corporate dollars and serious placemaking advocacy firms, are barely more pragmatic in their approach. A case in point is the proposed Alamo Plaza Redevelopment. Philadelphia-based Preservation Design Partnership authored one of the first master plans, a scheme that caused controversy when it called for relocating many of the businesses surrounding the Alamo and converting them to privately run cultural attractions. Current versions of the plan have done little to improve on the previous proposal. For example, the recent Alamo Comprehensive Interpretive Plan—spearheaded by St. Louis–based “placemaking” firm Peckham Guyton Albers & Viets; the heritage consulting firm Cultural Innovations; and landscape architects Reed Hilderbrand—still hinges on the creation of a pedestrian-friendly “Alamo District” designed to turn this historically charged site into an open-air museum. A previous scheme took this idea a step further by encircling the Alamo with a glass wall, as if preserving this architectural artifact in a kind of amber. There are plenty of other projects that are reenergizing the architectural scene in San Antonio. The city is in a bit of a gut-rehab frenzy, as landmarks like the Pearl and Lone Star Breweries have been renovated as pricey hotels and higher-end restaurants, all with the end goal of molding San Antonio into a destination for design-savvy millennials with money to burn, in hopes they will ditch an Airbnb in the picturesque King William District in favor of the Hotel Emma’s posh industrial-chic. It is in this milieu that Adjaye Associates’ Ruby City arrives as one of the most exciting projects to break ground in the Alamo City. This 14,000-square-foot gallery and contemporary arts center—scheduled to open later this year near the city’s burgeoning arts district—appears as a strange hybrid, part OMA Casa da Musica, part Legorreta Central Library. Adjaye’s building appears as a literal jewel, a faceted brick-red form whose speckled, punctured surfaces make it seem fleeting and otherworldly. But it is anything but that, for this building, which sits precariously on the edge of the one-acre CHRISpark in downtown San Antonio, will anchor the San Pedro Creek redevelopment scheme, and provide the Linda Pace Foundation’s extensive collection of modern and contemporary art with a bold, exciting home. Adjaye is still earning accolades for his groundbreaking National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and with Ruby City soon to be completed, this will be the most significant architectural gesture for San Antonio—one that will hopefully inspire an influx of more commissions and projects of a similar caliber. How should we look at San Antonio’s architectural legacies and gestures? It is tempting to stack them up against those in Houston or Dallas, but in doing so, we would risk ignoring how one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States is busy generating its own architectural identity. Don’t call it haphazard, however. The pace of architectural developments in San Antonio may appear slow, but like the city, its architecture is humming busily from what once was an undetectable purr to something greater. This sleepy South Texas city is anything but, and its architecture will demonstrate how this is the case.
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A renovated Los Feliz bungalow brings the outside in with folding doors

Carlos Madrid III, a senior designer at the Los Angeles branch of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), has been lovingly renovating his white plaster bungalow-style home for the past two years. Originally built in 1912, the residence was the living quarters for migrant farm workers. With just 800 square feet, Madrid’s main objective was to make the home more usable and comfortable. “I wanted to capitalize on the Southern California lifestyle,” he said. To accomplish this, Madrid installed LaCantina’s aluminum 3-panel bi-fold doors. The doors flexibly swing inside and outside in multiple open and closed positions—anywhere along the spectrum from wide open to completely closed. The system is equipped with a concealed multi-sealed lock, giving the architect freedom to fully open their home and the security to thoroughly close it. In effect, Madrid made the space more usable by opening up the living areas to create the illusion of increased square footage. “This window system blurs the lines between the inside and out, while increasing the perceived size of the living and dining areas,” said Madrid. Location Los Angeles Architect Carlos Madrid III Contractor Steven Fiske Wall System Aluminum Bi-fold System by LaCantina
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Lincoln Yards could bring an “instant neighborhood” to the Chicago River

Developer Sterling Bay released additional details and renderings by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill for the Lincoln Yards mega-development during a packed public meeting in Chicago’s 2nd Ward on July 18. A master plan of the site was also introduced, as well as some eyebrow-raising figures: 5,000 residential units, 500 hotel rooms, 23,000 on-site jobs, 13 acres of public space, 1 mile of new riverwalk, and a 1,300 feet extension to the 606, as well as the potential for the construction of multiple skyscrapers reaching up to 800 feet, or approximately 70 stories. The project currently encompasses 52 acres of the industrial corridor between Lincoln Park and Wicker Park, the result of three years of calculated land purchases by Sterling Bay along the Chicago River and within the area of the north side bordered by North Avenue, Elston Avenue, Webster Avenue, and Clybourn Avenue. If implemented as proposed the project would have a prodigious effect on the north branch of the Chicago River and multiple north side communities, businesses, and pieces of infrastructure. It would be an instant neighborhood created by a single developer. The development is presented with two distinct spatial components: The residential and commercial structures, as well as the proposed skyscrapers, will be constructed north of the bend in the Chicago River, while the south side will house the entertainment venues and recreational space. While the north side is now vacant land, cleared of the former A. Finkl & Sons steel plant last year, the south still has existing buildings with an enclave of small businesses immediately to the west, a combination of mixed-use manufacturing buildings, retail, restaurants, and bars, including Chicago’s iconic Hideout music venue. Despite the long transition to contemporary development, old-line manufacturing is still prevalent within and along Lincoln Yard’s proposed borders, and the General Iron Industries scrapyard is located prominently across the river. While General Iron Industries plans to move operations to the southeast side in 2020, some local businesses have made it clear that they intend to stay as the development of the project begins, as the Chicago Tribune reported. Sterling Bay has pledged to conduct traffic studies and congestion mitigation at area intersections but is also proposing to remove several small streets and easements in favor of a new diagonal thoroughfare, Dominick Street, that would cut across the center of the development. However, the development's approach of creating Loop-style density from scratch has yet to be tested, and with congestion already a nuisance at the existing site, the addition of 5,000 residential units, hundreds of hotel rooms, and a 20,000-seat soccer stadium will likely prove problematic for those living in surrounding communities that are defined primarily by two– and three–story vernacular structures and are the result of an ever-evolving architectural and cultural narrative. Sterling Bay has pledged to provide affordable housing and retain some of the historic industrial features of the area, such as truss bridges, but has not articulated how that will occur outside of the development following applicable laws. Sterling Bay intends to pursue local and federal funds to make infrastructure improvements, including changes to roadways and mobility systems. The federal assistance would require that the project complies with all local, state, and federal environmental and historic preservation laws before ground is broken, a process that will ultimately resemble the review required to construct the Obama Presidential Center in South Shore. The developer has also yet to provide additional detail on the proposed 23,000 permanent jobs, or whether the project area will increase as additional land becomes available. The proposal is expected to be filed to city council as soon as the end of July.