Posts tagged with "SOM":

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CHA Wrecking Ball Returns

The last five families were moved out of the Harold Ickes Homes at the end of March, one of the latest clusters of high rise public housing the city is clearing as a part of the Chicago Housing Authority's "Plan for Transformation." Dozens of highrise towers have been demolished across the across the city, opening vast tracts of land for mixed-income and in some cases mixed-used development. While few would dispute that the large-scale warehousing of the poor in these projects helped to create major urban problems, the nearly total erasure of these areas seems as blunt as the urban renewal tactics through which they were originally built. Designed by SOM in the 1950s, the buildings reflected the architectural, planning, and sociological thinking of the day. Arguably the Plan for Transformation reflects the thinking of the last 10 to 15 years in public housing: New Urbanism. Chicago architects DeStefano + Partners proposed a contemporary reuse and reimagination of the Ickes Homes in a masterplan that called for making the buildings more sustainable and better integrated into the neighborhood. Their plan called for reducing the amount of parking space, adding green roofs, restoring the street grid, and adding infill buildings to bring the complex closer to the street. They also advocated reskinning the buildings to break up their massing and improve energy efficiency, as well as adding rain gardens and solar canopy's over the remaining parking areas, among other features. The plan was strong enough to win the firm a 2009 AIA award, but it didn't change the Housing Authority's decision to call off the wrecking ball.
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Freedom At 200 Feet

The Port Authority announced today that steel erection for One World Trade Center has reached the 20th floor, or 200 feet above street level. For this particular project, that means that 8,000 tons of structural steel have been installed by DCM Erectors—700 tons more than all the steel in the Eiffel Tower. Currently, ironworkers are installing 16 giant steel nodes, some as big as 175 tons, which will act as joints between the framing of the podium and the rest of the tower. From here on out construction should move much faster, and completion is expected in 2013. The first 20 floors required very complex framing, whereas the remainder of the erection will be standard office floors. You can view more images of the construction at the Port Authority's Flickr page.

Burj Bounce

The Burj Dubai Khalifa opened on Monday, breaking a slew of records, but this video showcases one we never expected: a record-breaking base jump. Leaping from a window-washing crane on the 160th floor, two local experts plummeted 2,205 feet to earth, a feat few, if any, will ever replicate, though no doubt they'll keep trying, as what's even crazier is a British man attempted the same jump before the building was even completed, though he was caught in the act and promptly incarcerated, as the video after the, uh, jump shows. If that's not enough, the Daily Mail's got some good photos.
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Burj Inaugurated and Renamed

Today marks the official inauguration of the world's tallest building, the Burj in Dubai. While the opening comes at a rocky time for the emirate and for the global real estate market, it was greeted with great fanfare, including, cannily, renaming the building the Burj Khalifa, after the president of neighboring Abu Dhabi, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The move signaled both Dubai's gratitude for Abu Dhabi's recent bailout and the unity of the emirates through the financial crisis. Designed by SOM Chicago along with former partner Adrian Smith, the Burj Khalifa was also officially declared 2,717 feet high, far surpassing its nearest rivals. The 160-story tower has 54 elevators that will carry an estimated 12,000 people to the building's offices, hotel rooms, apartments, nightclubs, and mosques. According to the New York Times, many of the building's apartments have sold, but the prospects for finding office tenants are poor, as the office market is particularly soft in Dubai. The Burj is just another example of how Chicago offices are continuing to lead in the field of tall building design. Given the climate, Burj Khalifa may be the world's tallest for some time to come.
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High Tech Holidays

The Chicago office of SOM has designed a modern take on the menorah, which recently took top prize in a charity competition sponsored by Steelcase. The solid wax menorah, which was created by Colin Gorsuch, burns so that the eight inch square frame is revealed with the passing of each night of Chanukkah. The melting wax "falls onto the wooden base and paints a pictorial timeline of the Hanukkah celebration," according to a statement from the firm. SOM's Adrian McDermott designed a wreath for the competition, formed out of 80 overlapping toruses that create a lattice ring.
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Broad Shoulders, Big Ideas

Big. Bold. Visionary: Chicago Considers the Next Century, another event commemorating the Burnham Plan Centennial, taps local architects, planners, and landscape architects to envision the ideal Windy City of the future. Some designers took a creative and sometimes whimsical approach, while others offered up more practical concepts. Filter out the public relations boosterism and the show offers plenty of inspiring ideas to further Burnham’s goal of creating a beautiful lakefront accessible at all points north and south. On the far south side of the city, Phillip Enquist of SOM envisions a high-density mixed-use development at the 573-acre site of a former steel manufacturer. The surrounding neighborhoods, many of which are economically depressed, could benefit from Linda Searl’s temporary three-year functional structures, designed as infill for empty lots. The infill structures would act as a catalyst for commerce, development, and to improve the overall quality of life of the neighborhood. Other proposals took the title of the show to heart: big and bold. Adrian Smith’s two mile-long eco bridge would arch out into the lake from Monroe Harbor, the center of which would stand a tall tower to harvest wind and solar energy. Others inspired strong reactions, like the Jeanne Gang’s shudder-inducing eco-casino or Ralph Johnson of Perkins + Will’s international airport developed in Lake Michigan at the terminus of Congress Parkway. The show, while not as flashy as the Centennial’s other events, is no less important. Building on the legacy of Burnham, it will help facilitate conversations about future planning and showcase the city's current design talent. Big. Bold. Visionary: Chicago Considers the Next Century is at the Chicago Tourism Center Gallery, 72 E. Randolph St. through October 4.
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Perfect Angle for Treasure Island: 68 Degrees

Sixty-eight degrees happens to be the best angle for the streets in San Francisco's Treasure Island project, a utopian vision of green, pedestrian-centric living. The planners have realized that nobody will walk if they're buffeted by blasts of wind that sweep the island from the southwest, so they came up with a compromise that blocks wind while giving cars enough clearance to turn. It was just one of the interesting factoids that came up during yesterday's tour, organized by the AIA SF for their Architecture + the City Festival, going on right now  (still time to catch one of the other tours and get in on the learning and schmoozing!). The main presenter, Karen Alschuler of Perkins+Will--who was involved with the project from the start, when it was just SMWM rather than the many firms in the mix today--gave a thorough presentation with a new aerial rendering: She painted a vision of how residents would commute to the city.  "You'll be drinking your coffee at the kitchen window, and see the ferry leave from San Francisco, which takes about 13 minutes to arrive, and you'll walk down to catch it." All homes on the island will be designed so they are a 10 to 15 minute walk to the ferry building. But the really primo residential real estate will not be on the island itself, but on adjoining Yerba Buena Island. The west-facing half of the island will be redeveloped as part of the Treasure Island project, with a series of townhomes stepping down the hill, with truly amazing views. Anyone like me who has driven around and around Yerba Buena looking for a spot to take in that view and has been thwarted will be glad to hear there's going to be a new public park right at the top. That park's in addition to the 300 acres of open space on Treasure Island itself, which is only 400 acres altogether.  To encourage fewer cars, the neighborhoods are built up densely around the ferry building. The current plan is to have retail and restaurants at the ferry terminal, and the hangar behind will be a farmer's marketplace (a la the Ferry Building). Besides Perkins+ Will, the team working on the master plan currently includes:  CMG Landscape ArchitectureSOM (condo tower), BCV (marketplace) and Page & Turnbull (historic restoration). Why so many cooks? The developer, Wilson Meany Sullivan, likes to encourage collaboration--and a little competition--to get the best results.  Just joining the group is Seattle-based Mithun, which is working specifically on the neighborhood areas. Talking to Gerry Tierney of Perkins+Will, the plan for the 6,000-8,000 residences is to put parcels out to bid by developers, who will work with individual architects, in order to avoid an architectural monoculture.  The design guidelines they are putting together will be "steadfastly modern"--definitely no historical pastiche. Their hopes are for something akin to the jolly Borneo Sporenburg in Amsterdam. On this brilliant day, where the city was so bright and clear, the vision seemed so close.
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An Olympic Conundrum for Chicago

We've been following Chicago's Olympic bid rather closely of late, and not only because we're on the way to inaugurating a Midwest edition of the paper. First, there was SOM's intriguing proposal to create "sustainable," "low-impact" Olympics that would have few legacy costs by using temporary facilities, an approach the IOC apparently favored. Then there was the impact of that plan, which still called for the demolition of some buildings—as well as hundreds of trees in Washington Park—most notably at the Walter Gropius-designed Michael Reese hospital campus. Outcry from preservationists led the city to delay demolition, which made time for the preservationists to develop alternative plans. Olympic opponents may be catching another break now, as, ironically enough, the very things the IOC purportedly liked about Chicago's bid-lite may also be its undoing. The IOC released its evaluation report today, which outlines the strengths and weaknesses of of each city's bid a month in advance of the final selection. In addition to Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, and Madrid are vying for the games. Reports indicate the South American city could be the favorite, while Chicago's proposal was called "ambitious," which sounds like damning praise, with the Tribune doing a good job of highlighting the curious position the IOC has laid out:
A risk highlighted for Chicago's bid, the planned use of many temporary venues, reflects an IOC desire to have its cake and eat it, too. Based on the 2003 report of a Games study commission, the IOC espouses the idea of not wanting host cities to build expensive, permanent venues that will become underused, costly-to-maintain white elephants. Yet it also is thrilled when a city like Beijing goes overboard to do just that. In its detailed evaluation of the Chicago bid's response to the 17 themes assessed, the report praises the city's concept for being ``in line with the IOC Games Study Commission recommendation to `build a new venue only if there is a legacy need...''' In the same sentence, the report says that means a greater burden on the Olympic organizing committee (OCOG) to pay for and deliver that part of the project, as opposed to cities that build permanent structures and do not assign their cost and development to the Games operations (OCOG) budget. In its summary of the Chicago bid, the report says there is increased risk in Chicago due to an ``emphasis on major temporary or scaled-down venues.'' That includes the Olympic Stadium, which would be a temporary, 80,000-seat structure. Chicago bid officials have insisted their venue plan not only is financially responsible but could be a model for future Olympic host cities.
Clearly, cost is a concern, especially in these economically challenging times. Still, the ambivalence the IOC has for what exactly it wants is amusing, if not downright frustrating. That is, of course, unless you're a preservationist wanting nothing to do with the current Olympic bid. Oh, and guess what else is a concern? The weather, of course. Or, as only the FT could put it, "meteo­rological shortcomings." (h/t ArchNewsNow)
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Chasing One Manhattan Plaza

The financial crisis has officially hit architects. No, not in the way you think. We're talking about banks selling their marquee properties, namely the news today, delivered by the Observer, that JPMorgan Chase may be selling its former headquarters building at One Chase Manhattan Plaza. Designed by Gordon Bundshaft of SOM under the auspices of then-bank president David Rockefeller, the building, which also features an Iasmu Noguchi rock garden, was named a landmark by the LPC in February of this year. Maybe that helped auger the sale, which could include 22 buildings and which the bank continues to deny. (See, we care about commercial real estate, too, and not just famous houses.)
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The Ledge

In our pilot Midwest issue, I wrote about The Ledge, a new viewing platform at the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) in Chicago. At the time, only renderings were available of the SOM-designed all-glass cubes that protrude off of the tower's west face, and the project was expected to open in mid June. Well, it appears that the dizzying new viewing experience is now accepting visitors, as a whole rash of pictures have popped up on flickr. Among them is the above image, which reminds us that sometimes the highest achievement that architecture can aspire to is to fuel the dreams of a child.
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SOM To Date

The Monacelli Press has announced publication of a five-volume monograph on SOM. According to the publisher, the five books offer a near complete history of the iconic firm's work from the 1950s to the present. Each project featured is illustrated with archival and new photographs, as well as drawings, and each volume begins with an essay from such well-known architecture critics as Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Albert Bush Brown, and Kenneth Frampton. The first three volumes are reprints of editions published by Verlag Gerd Hatje in 1963, 1974, and 1984, though their layouts have been updated and their covers redesigned to create a consistent aesthetic with the two new volumes. The monographs go on sale in October, though they are currently available for pre-order on Random House's website.

P!LA: Putting the Urban into Planning

Thursday night was my first at Postopolis! LA, and while I saw lots of cool presentations from cool people, I couldn't help but start with the most unexpected, unusual, and exciting. Mike the Poet is a tour guide by day and a spoken word poet/rapper/genius by night. (Here's a nice profile from the LAT.) And while it's true that discussions about gentrifying vampires and planning for World of Warcraft is cool, can you really top a dude rapping about urban density? Or SOM!