We learn from our friends at Curbed that Los Angeles' Sixth Street Viaduct Competition, replacing one of the most famous—and fragile—landmarks in LA, has a shortlist. The 3,500-foot-long, art deco span was recently deemed beyond repair, and the winner will build a $401 million, cable-stayed bridge in its place. The teams, all present at an LA Bureau of Engineering meeting last night, are AECOM, ARUP, HNTB, Parsons, Parsons Brinckerhoff, and SOM. Three of those teams will present their plans in September, with a winner chosen in October.
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While the myriad instruments lining hospital walls are revised constantly to promote patient wellness, the building is there to stay. So if design can help heal or comfort the afflicted, hospital architecture is critical. A Skidmore Owings & Merrill masterplan for Cincinnati’s Christ Hospital is meant to have a calming influence on both patients and staff. SOM’s 1.4-million-square-foot project broke ground Thursday, with completion expected by mid-2015. Demolition of a parking garage on the south end of the site will clear way for a new Orthopaedic and Spine Center, whose downtown-facing south side will serve as the new face for the hilltop hospital. This new front facade features a massive “lantern” window, meant to play off the original hospital’s historic cupola. At night, light emanating from the hospital assumes the form of a beacon. By day, it's designed to welcome warm natural light into the hospital. The soothing effect of natural light on Christ Hospital’s hallways and lobbies should be enhanced by a floor plan that aims to simplify typically chaotic hospital circulation. A roof garden tops off the design, a nice touch that plays off the red brick of the existing structures around the hospital. SOM’s masterplan constructs a campus from existing buildings, new public spaces and the seven-story Orthopaedic and Spine Center. If the hospital now feels like a part of something greater, the designers appear to hope Christ Hospital’s patients will too.
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A motorized green wall that reads the weather and adjusts automaticallyTwo years ago six students and three faculty from Virginia Tech's School of Architecture + Design spent three weeks at SOM's Chicago office applying industrial fabrication solutions to the problem of high density housing for Southworks, a housing development that's currently being planned for a large vacant section south of the city. The result was LumenHAUS, an aggressively energy efficient home that won the international Solar Decathlon Competition that June for sustainable solutions to high density construction. LumenHAUS is not only net zero, it actually creates more energy than it uses by implementing, among other innovations, a modular system that autonomously responds to external weather information and internal environmental conditions to optimize energy use. This Fall Virginia Tech's Center for Design Research will begin construction on a full scale prototype of six housing modules, including a working prototype of Hanging Garden, a dynamic plant wall that reads the weather and responds by sliding along the walls and windows to either block or allow sunlight into the living unit. Hanging Garden combines automated shading control with the emerging demand for urban garden space. Each unit is composed of a series of planters and and can be configured into one of three scenarios: (1) fully nested against the side walls of the south facing projecting balcony, (2) partially deployed to protect the balcony from east or west light or wind or (3) fully deployed and aligned with the outer face of the balcony (rotated 90 degrees). Each unit can automatically adjust to accommodate changing weather patterns, plant type and user demands by means of an actuated track system provided by Hafele. Two ceiling mounted tracks run parallel to each other until the garden reaches the outer balcony. At this point the slave trolley follows the radial track and sends the garden plane horizontally along the outer edge of the balcony. "The plant wall system is integrated into our ‘responsive architecture’ smart home building control system, which was developed for the LumenHAUS," said Virginia Tech faculty member Joe Wheeler. "With real time data from both the house-mounted weather station and from interior environment sensors, the computer can detect when shading is needed or when direct solar gain is needed. For example, on a summer day when the system is in cooling mode, exterior temperatures are high and the daylight sensors detect full sun, plant walls are deployed into the full shade position along electronically controlled motorized tracks." The Hanging Garden system can be built into a larger outdoor garden patio configuration that allots two outdoor spaces on either end of the main living module. During warmer months the patio can be opened up completely, providing cross ventilation. In colder months they can be closed to act like greenhouses and serve as insulating buffers to the indoor space, becoming passive mechanisms of energy efficiency. Even those whose thumbs are anything but green can easily keep their Hanging Garden growing year-round, thanks to the self-watering system - also a great feature for when you're out of town. "When the plant walls are in their "home" position, a reservoir is refilled by a ceiling mounted valve," Wheeler explained. "The reservoir directs water to each individual pot on the wall and a floor drain in the balcony collects any overflow." The final product will have a CNC cut steel frame and slip cast ceramic pots, but the prototypes for the six modular units will be made from MDF, an odd choice for such an environmentally progressive project, though perhaps the longterm benefits of Hanging Garden, and of the Southworks complex in general will ultimately outweigh a few preliminary MDF models?
Here’s one thing we know: No matter how gigantic convention centers and airports grow, they’re never big enough. Now we've heard through the grapevine that San Francisco will be the latest to loosen its belt a couple notches with the help of SOM and Mark Cavagnero Associates. The city is jumping on the expansion bandwagon with the addition of 200,000 to 450,000 square feet to the Moscone Convention Center in the South of Market neighborhood. The original center opened in 1981 and its first expansion, Moscone West, followed in 2003. This latest expansion would include a Third Street addition, a six-story, 260,000 square-foot building to the east of the current facilities; the Howard Street Connection, a roughly 11,000 square-foot underground facility between the current Moscone North and South facilities; and Moscone East, a 4-story, 240,000 square-foot, partially-subterranean building also to the east of the current facilities. An official announcement about the project is expected on Thursday. Cavagnero recently took home the AIA California Council's Firm Award and newly renovated and expanded the Oakland Museum of California. SOM, of course, is finishing up One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan and on the west coast just opened up a new design studio in Los Angeles.
A "supertall" building is one which tops out at over 1,250 feet. Right now, there are 18 completed supertall buildings and 21 under construction. Chicago-based architects Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (SOM) will break ground on Tuesday on the 1,740-foot-tall CTF Tower in Tianjin, China. It will be the tenth supertall building to begin construction for SOM, the most of any firm in the world. The building is a carefully-crafted design which deliberately merges structural challenges with program and form. The mixed-use tower in the Tianjin Economic Development Area, an area planned for new growth, has retail at the base, topped with offices, 300 residential units, and a 350-room, 5-star hotel. "The functional aspects of program were integrated with the structure," said SOM design partner Brian Lee. "And the form was also developed alongside the structural scheme." Larger floor plates are needed for the office spaces, which are placed near the base of the building. Residential units with smaller floor plate are at the top. The gentle curves of the building and the large, sloped, concrete elements form a "mega-column," which acts as an external frame. Environmental conditions also affected the final design. Wind slots, a porous crown at the top of the tower, and a gradiated opacity toward the higher floors all help to decrease wind loads, and the corners are rounded to prevent a vortex effect on the back side of the building.
The Durst Organization and the Port Authority have decided to abandon designs for what they once assured the public would be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and architect David Childs of SOM is fighting back. By stripping away the sculptural finishes designed by SOM with artist Kenneth Snelson the developers and the Port may no longer qualify for the tallest title bestowed by the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the body that tallies and ranks building heights. In today's New York Times a spokesperson for the Council said that the galvanzized steel replacement would probably be interpreted as an antenna and not a spire and would not qualify as part of the building structure. Besides losing the title, the developers will also arguably be pulling one of the most significant works of art from the site. Douglas Durst told The Wall Street Journal that the spire should have been designed better as it will cost too much to maintain. "It's not the end of the world," he told the paper. To the Times he indicated the utilitarian replacement should work just fine: “I try not to get involved with the aesthetics. We’re here to discuss how it’s built and how it’s maintained.”
Cornell University has named 2005 Pritzker Prize winner Thom Mayne as architect for the first building at its Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island called the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute. The selection should overshadow some sour grapes that were emanating from Stanford in the past few days regarding their losing bid. Mayne bested an all-star list, including Rem Koolhaas of OMA, Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, Steven Holl, and SOM. The choice of Mayne, whose iconic building 41 Cooper Square still jams traffic at Astor Place, hints that Cornell is looking for a traffic stopper of its own on the East River. "It was a nice list; all the usual talent, but I knew we had a good shot," said Mayne, on his way back to his second home base in LA, "because I could speak intelligently to their three main areas of interest: an innovative educational environment; connective urbanism; sustainability. I can walk the walk." Cornell is developing the site with a proposal prepared by SOM, but there was no mention of the that firm in today's press release, though they remain the master planner for the project. Today's announcement was all about the next step, with Cornell’s dean of architecture, art, and planning, Kent Kleinman praising Morphosis: "No firm is better at turning constraints into creative solutions of astonishing power than Thom Mayne and Morphosis.” As AN reported soon after the Mayor announced the winning bid, SOM's ground work tried to establish that the main 150,000 square foot building would not only be a net-zero building, but, in the words of SOM principal Roger Duffy, "not be an object building." Mayne said that the first meetings on plan and program were only now taking place but he said that "nothing is fixed at this point; it needs to be open-ended." The notion of a prescriptive master plan, he noted, went out with Victor Gruen in the 70s. Morphosis will work with Arup as the engineer on the first building, which the team will design to meet a net-zero energy goal; James Corner is on board for landscape. The south end of the island could likely become an architectural playground, with more RFPs soon going out for the other Tech Campus buildings and the soon-to-be completed Four Freedoms Park by Louis Kahn. Saying the project had come along at just the right moment, Mayne enthused about the opportunities ahead: "The old campus was about the yard or the square. This wants a new paradigm, someplace that is both contained and not contained; simultaneously isolated and completely connected. I love those kind of dualities."
It wasn't a usual trip to the World Trade Center site today as AN segued over to the river to get a glimpse of the Space Shuttle Enterprise's flyover. We caught the shuttle on its second loop at 10:55 on the dot. The pristine prototype shuttle skimmed south over New Jersey on its way round the Statue of Liberty. In all, a very uplifting day when combined with news that the One World Trade will likely surpass the Empire State Building as the city's tallest building by this Monday. Come summer the shuttle will make a barge trip up the river to its new home at the Intrepid Museum. No news yet on speculation that new building across the street from the museum might house the shuttle. Back at the WTC site, construction is humming, with the exception of the 9/11 Museum which stopped after legal wrangling ensued between the museum and the Port Authority over money. Last week, capitalnewyork.com reported subcontractors were slated to be paid by the Port, hinting that an agreement over the disputed $150 million might soon be reached. Since AN last report in February, several developments have appeared. Fumihiko Maki's Tower 4 continues to climb, and the triangular volume at the top has asserted itself above its rhombus base. The pedestal for Richard Rogers Tower 3 now looms over Church Street, though an anchor tenant has yet to be announced. The WTC overlook of the site at Brookfield's World Financial Center is shuttered as work begins on a $250 million retail renovation. The oculus at the Fulton Street Transit Center is now fully formed. Next to Seven World Trade, CUNY's Fitterman Hall by Pei Cobb Freed slapped its brick paneled curtain wall together in what seemed like weeks. The panelized red-brick face provides a disjointed contrast to WTC's valley of glass and steel at its doorstep.
Until about the mid 20th century, there was a tradition for New York’s urban landscape painters to split time between New York and Paris. It was not uncommon for collectors to hang dual streetscapes side by side. It’s surprising then to see the digitally inflected work of Robert Neffson tweak the tradition for the 21st century. Neffson’s paintings of 57th Street and Notre Dame embrace a multimedia studio process for hyperrealistic results. The paintings build on digital photo technology which, through a series of stitched individual images, bring 180 degree perspectives into a single frame. It's similar to the process David Hockney employed at his recent Royal Academy show in London. But while Neffson's extreme perspectives could be perfected in Photoshop, the paintings’ plein air quality lends the stretched sightlines an honesty that digitally stitched panoramas lack. With an awareness of contemporary photography (Gurszky, Struth, and Crewdson), Neffson said he wants to take painting a step beyond, while maintaining an eye for the ordinary. His appreciation for architecture extends to its “anthropomorphic qualities” and how buildings “can be used as expressions of human emotions,” he wrote in an email. Neffson begins by selecting the site, then revisiting it at different times of the day and year. Crowd and cloud formations are studied. Thousands of photos are shot. A comfortable spot is found and the sketching begins. Eventually all the material is taken back to the studio, where 180-degree pan gets finessed into a concise view. “I’m looking for a perfect moment,” he said. “It has to do with significant architecture so that there are associations and not just for me.” Neffson’s work will be on view at Bernarducci Meisel through April 28th.
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.
And then there were six. Cornell University announced that six firms were selected from a field of 43 contenders to design their new tech campus on Roosevelt Island. SOM, the firm that pushed Cornell over the top in the national competition to build on Roosevelt is still in the running, alongside OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture) , Diller Scofidio + Renfro , Morphosis Architects , Steven Holl Architects , and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. SOM will remain on the job to define an overall campus plan. The university is still running with its net-zero plan for the first core building. Residences and other multi-use buildings will follow. A contract with the winning firm is set to be signed in April.
Norma Merrick Sklarek, the first African American woman to become a licensed architect in the country, died on Monday in Los Angeles, The Los Angeles Times reports. Sklarek, a native of Harlem, went to Barnard College before graduating from Columbia's architecture school in 1950. She passed the New York State exam in 1954, becoming the first African American woman to receive her professional architecture license and earning her the nickname "the Rosa Parks of Architecture." She later moved to California where she was turned down for work 19 times before going on to work for SOM, Gruen Associates, Welton Becket, and the Jerde Partnership. Jerde partner Paul Senzaki recalled her ability to provide broad oversight with a personal touch. "While many people can provide administrative guidance, what I recall most was here willingness to spend time with staff and talk with them about their work," Senzanki said in a statement. "In many ways she was an educator/mentor who happened to practice architecture." Sklarek's more notable projects include overseeing staff at Gruen for the construction of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and acting as project director at Welton Becket for LAX Terminal 1. Before joining Jerde in 1989, she co-founded one of the largest all-women architectural firms in the country, Siegel-Sklarek-Diamond. She would go on to become the first African-American woman inducted as a fellow at the AIA. Mabel O. Wilson, an associate professor at Columbia's GSAPP, recalled hearing Sklarek speak Howard University when Wilson was still a student. It was the first time she had seen an architect who was an African American woman. "I wasn’t seeing a reflection of myself in the field, and then there she was," said Wilson. She added that Sklarek's hard work and staying power aligns nicely with the ethos of the profession. "It still takes a lot of tenacity to land where she did and do the work she did at LAX--and that doesn’t matter who you are," she said. The Architect's Newspaper sends our condolences to Sklarek's family, friends, and colleagues.