Posts tagged with "SOM":

Developer decides not to build huge glass pavilions on landmarked plaza

Thanks to new rules, it appears that one historic downtown plaza will be free of large glass pavilions, for now. For over a year developer Fosun had planned to build glass-clad entrances to retail spaces beneath the landmarked modernist plaza of 28 Liberty, designed by SOM in 1964. Although the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) approved the renovations in August 2015, the project needed an additional—but contentious—green light from the community and the city to move forward. The developer sought to change the site's city-imposed deed restriction (convents that guide the use of land) to allow the pavilions, some as tall as 17 feet, to be constructed. Currently, the site's deed restriction states that no object taller than six feet can rise from the surface of the plaza. Deed restrictions are usually enacted for public benefit; by limiting use, they can thwart an owner's ability to capitalize on the property. For months Manhattan Community Board 1, residents, and preservationists concerned about the integrity of the plaza debated whether to grant Fosun's request. For Fosun, a seemingly routine appeal for its plaza project couldn't have come at a worse time. The developer's campaign to change the deed restriction coincided with the unfolding scandal over the transfer of Rivington House to a private developer. In that deal, the city lifted deed restrictions on the Lower East Side nursing home, a move that allowed a private developer to flip the site for a hefty profit. A series of public meetings revealed the convoluted nature of the deed-change process, with the mayor's office and City Council offering two competing visions of reform. In response, the Council passed a new law in December that lays out a standardized process for removal and modification of deed restrictions. Among other changes, the law's public review component makes it much more difficult for property owners like Fosun to change deed restrictions. "The developers basically told the board that they're not pushing deed modifications now that the new rules are in place," said Diana Switaj, Manhattan CB1's director of planning and land use. Although community board resolutions on developments like 28 Liberty are non-binding, the city-sanctioned groups provide frontline community feedback on development in their jurisdictions. When reached for comment, Fosun confirmed that it will not be building pavilions. “At this time, Fosun is focusing on creating hundreds of feet of new storefront, restoring the historic parapet to its original condition, and creating a larger plaza by removing mechanical components," said Erik Horvat, managing director at Fosun Property, in a statement. "We continue to advance the effort to invigorate the plaza and bring some 200,000 square feet of new retail to Lower Manhattan. The site offers existing access points and we believe the new retail offerings will provide enormous benefit to the community. We will reevaluate the additional glass entryway pavilions in the future." This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect’s Newspaper’s coverage of your area and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.

This is the best performing all-glass facade system in SOM’s history

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Surrounded by parkland and built on a former industrial site, the new JTI Headquarters is located in a Geneva district home to prestigious international organizations. JTI (Japan Tobacco International) is a global tobacco company whose flagship brands include Winston, Camel, Mild Seven, Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut. The competition-winning design consolidates four existing JTI premises within a single landmark building. The project—a collaboration between SOM’s architecture, structural engineering, and interior teams—was led by their London office, but involved expertise from SOM offices in New York and Chicago, along with architects on site in Geneva throughout construction. Kent Jackson, design partner at SOM, said the new building demonstrates SOM’s commitment to integrated design, sustainability, and innovative workplace solutions. "Clearly we feel it is a huge benefit to bring all of our disciplines together and bringing different experts from across our offices. This is something we think brings added value to a project."
  • Facade Manufacturer Josef Gertner AG
  • Architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Burckhardt+Partner AG (Local Architect)
  • Facade Installer Josef Gartner AG (facade contractor)
  • Facade Consultants n/a
  • Location Geneva (Switzerland)
  • Date of Completion 2015
  • System Closed Cavity Facade (CCF)
  • Products Interpane ipasol bright white coating on low-iron glass (Outer solar control glass); Interpane iplus 3E coatings on low-iron glass (Inner triple insulated glass); Mechoshade Thermoveil 1519 ‘ Silver Birch’ (Shading blinds within cavity); Christian Pohl GmbH (Anodized aluminum perforated soffit panels)
The building’s innovative Closed Cavity Facade (CCF) was designed in collaboration with Josef Gartner GmbH as a unitized curtain wall system that responds to the demands of seasonally changing external climatic conditions while providing exceptional views out and maximizing daylight penetration into the workspace. The facade prioritizes occupant comfort and reduces the energy demand and carbon emissions of the building, helping it to meet the requirements of European energy directives and the Swiss Minergie sustainability rating. The floor-to-ceiling glazed panels measure approximately 10-foot-wide-by-14-feet-tall and consist of triple glazing on the inner layer and single glazing on the outer, forming a cavity with a fabric roller blind in between. One challenge with a typical double skin facade is the risk of condensation and dirt in the cavity. This introduces the need to provide maintenance access to the cavity, either by opening up the interior side or exterior side of the assembly. The closed cavity facade at JTI reduces these requirements, because rather than drawing external air into the cavity, the cavity is pressurized with a very small amount of filtered and dehumidified air from a pipe system that runs around the perimeter of the building. This ensures dirt and moisture from outside don't travel through into the cavity, while also preventing condensation inside the cavity. To achieve this design, SOM relied on facade contractors who have become skilled in the assembly of envelopes that minimize building air leakage. Martin Grinnell, Associate Director at SOM and Technical Lead on the project, attributes this to increasingly stringent air tightness standards in Europe, where many buildings undergo building envelope pressure testing. "We were confident we could achieve this design and get a very careful balance of air tightness with a modest pump in the basement to pressurize all of the facade panels." The German-made closed cavity facade was shop-built in individual unitized panels comprised of both the inner and outer layer of glazing. By producing these units in a controlled factory environment, the fabrication sequence could ensure the cavity remained clean throughout the construction process. The panels were tested in the factory for air tightness, and whilst stored in the yard of the factory they were temporarily tapped into an air supply system which kept the cavity pressurized prior to delivery to site. Once installed on site, the panels were plugged immediately into a network of pressurized air so that the cavity would not draw in dirty air or moisture from construction activity. With just a single glazed pane on the outer layer of the facade, Grinnell says the project team was able to produce a more expressive facade. “We were able to achieve a quilted appearance on the outside; incorporating very delicate mullions, transoms, and diagonal elements because we were using a single outer layer. We were able to facet this layer much more easily than if we were trying to do that with a double or triple glazed layer. I think this lent a real delicacy to the detailing of the outer skin of the facade." Grinnell said the facade represents one of the best performing all-glass facade systems in SOM’s history. "This was a great project, and is a great demonstration of what a closed cavity facade system can do. We're very proud of it. All of the European countries—UK included—are pushing harder and harder on energy efficiency, and clients are quite rightly looking to us to improve the efficiency of our facades. We are going to be developing more and more facades which rely on dynamic performance—having to achieve very good solar control in the summer, while admitting sunlight in the winter—and the closed cavity facade is a really interesting solution to achieve that."

Trio of high-rise towers announced for Downtown L.A.

Architects Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill (SOM), P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S, and developer City Century have unveiled renderings for a trio of high-rise, mixed-use towers in Downtown Los Angeles’s bustling entertainment district. The newly-revealed mega-project is called Olympia and is billed to include 1,367 residential units, 40,000 square feet of retail space, and 115,000 square feet of open space. Those programmatic components will be distributed across a trio of towers rising 43-, 53-, and 65-stories in height that will be positioned over a 3.25-acre site at the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Georgia Street. The project will be sandwiched between the L.A. Live sports and entertainment complex and the Gensler-designed Metropolis mega-development, a similar mixed-use project containing luxury housing and shopping amenities. The Olympia project is being designed by SOM and P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S and will feature glass-clad residential floors with over-sized floor plates expressed across the facades of the rectilinear towers. Those floorplates shift in and out at various intervals and contain outdoor amenity spaces at various heights. Stuart Morkun, executive vice president of City Century is quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying, “We’re seeing opportunities in L.A. as the entertainment, media and fashion hub. There is a growing desire by a new generation of professionals who want an urban lifestyle. Downtown can provide that.” The project is one of many luxury, mixed-use, high-rise complexes going up in the immediate area, with the aforementioned Metropolis project, the Harley Ellis Devereaux-designed Circa, and CallisonRTKL-designed Oceanwide Plaza projects being but a few of the developments currently in the works along the blocks immediately surrounding the L.A. Live complex. Developers for the project expect for the entitlement process to play out over the next 18 months with a four-year construction timeline to come afterward. The developer has not announced whether the units will be for sale or rent.

2016 Best of Design Award in Building Renovation: The Strand American Conservatory Theater by SOM

The Architect’s Newspaper (AN)’s inaugural 2013 Best of Design Awards featured six categories. Since then, it's grown to 26 exciting categoriesAs in years past, jury members (Erik Verboon, Claire Weisz, Karen Stonely, Christopher Leong, Adrianne Weremchuk, and AN’s Matt Shaw) were picked for their expertise and high regard in the design community. They based their judgments on evidence of innovation, creative use of new technology, sustainability, strength of presentation, and, most importantly, great design. We want to thank everyone for their continued support and eagerness to submit their work to the Best of Design Awards. We are already looking forward to growing next year’s coverage for you.

2016 Best of Design Award in Building Renovation: The Strand American Conservatory Theater

Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Location: San Francisco, CA

The Strand renovation provides a highly visible experimental performance space for the American Conservatory Theater within a formerly abandoned hundred-year-old movie theater on San Francisco’s Market Street. The space houses an intimate 285-seat proscenium theater, a public lobby and cafe, educational facilities, and a 120-seat black box theater and rehearsal space.

Care was taken to sensitively retrofit the shell of the former 725-seat cinema: The facade and structural supports were restored and essential modern theater elements were layered over the raw backdrop of the original building. Playing off of the building’s cinematic roots, the centerpiece of the lobby is a suspended two-story, 504-square-foot translucent LED scrim—the first permanent indoor usage of this technology.

Development and Project Manager, Financing Consultant Equity Community Builders

General Contractor Plant Construction Company LED Panel Winvision Concrete Specialist Bay Area Concrete Historical Architects Page & Turnbull

Honorable Mention, Building Renovation: PLICO at the Flatiron

Architect: Elliott + Associates Architects Location: Oklahoma City, OK

This project includes the renovation of a two-level 1924 flatiron building and the construction of a modern, yet complementary rooftop addition that relates in shape, scale, color, and detailing while differentiating itself through materials and setbacks.

Honorable Mention, Building Renovation: Temple Israel of Hollywood

Architect: Koning Eizenberg Architecture Location: Los Angeles, CA

The light-filled design for this progressive reform congregation was inspired by a fringed Tallit (prayer shawl), while the ark is placed within a sedimentary wall that includes rocks gathered from Israel by its congregants.

2016 Building of the Year > Southwest: U.S. Air Force Academy Center for Character and Leadership Development by SOM

The Architect’s Newspaper (AN)’s inaugural 2013 Best of Design Awards featured six categories. Since then, it's grown to 26 exciting categoriesAs in years past, jury members (Erik Verboon, Claire Weisz, Karen Stonely, Christopher Leong, Adrianne Weremchuk, and AN’s Matt Shaw) were picked for their expertise and high regard in the design community. They based their judgments on evidence of innovation, creative use of new technology, sustainability, strength of presentation, and, most importantly, great design. We want to thank everyone for their continued support and eagerness to submit their work to the Best of Design Awards. We are already looking forward to growing next year’s coverage for you.

2016 Building of the Year > Southwest: U.S. Air Force Academy Center for Character and Leadership Development

Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Location: Colorado Springs, CO

The Center for Character and Leadership Development is a 46,000-square-foot education center located at a critical meeting point between the campus’s cadet and public areas. As an architectural focal point for the U.S. Air Force Academy’s campus—itself originally designed by SOM in 1954—the building’s dramatic 105-foot skylight aligns precisely with the North Star, creating a meaningful architectural interpretation of the Academy’s aspirations and guiding values. The Center contains a flexible gathering space for academic and social interaction; a series of collaboration, conference, and seminar rooms; offices; a library; and the Honor Board Room, where inquiries related to the Cadet Honor Code take place.

Lighting Consultant Brandston Partnership, Inc.

IT/Acoustics/AV Cerami & Associates Skylight glazing Interpane Storefront glazing Viracon

Honorable Mention: Building of the Year > Southwest: American Energy Partners Fitness Center

Architect: Allford Hall Monaghan Morris Location: Oklahoma City, OK This arched steel structure spans an existing unused concrete basement in northern Oklahoma City, dynamically transforming it into a sports and leisure hub that provides a wide variety of facilities, including two racquetball courts, a climbing wall, a basketball court, fitness studios, changing rooms, a cafe, and a running track.

SOM breaks ground on world’s first cyber security education center

Many are worried that draft-dodging president-elect Trump will soon have his tiny, tiny hands on the nuclear codes, but thanks to the foresight of U.S. Navy personnel, the commander-in-chief will also have access to midshipmen trained to combat a great threat of our age: cyber warfare. The forward-thinking folks at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland are equipping students for a world where hackers can paralyze Facebook and Twitter with some well-placed code, burrow into government email servers, or launch a cupcake counterinsurgency. Enter SOM: "Our design for Hopper Hall will serve the Naval Academy's mission to equip a new generation of leaders with the knowledge and resources to protect the nation against 21st-century threats," said Roger Duffy, design partner at SOM, in a statement. The first facility devoted to cybersecurity studies at any military academy, six-story Hopper Hall is a design-build partnership between the global firm and Turner Construction. Hopper Hall pays homage to the school's waterfront connection while preserving seaside views from the historic campus core. The most typical component of the 206,400-square-foot building, a multi-purpose space called "The Bridge," anchors labs, offices, classrooms, and simulated learning spaces that would be totally bizarre anywhere else: A "secure compartmented intelligence facility space" allows students to handle classified information, while a research and "testing tank" assist an engineering and weapons lab.
The $106.7 million building is named for Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, an American computer scientist who during World War II worked on the first computer, the Harvard Mark 1. The Naval Academy's curriculum responds to the growing threat of hacking: All students are required to take cyber security classes, and the school's first graduates in the cyber operations major finished their degrees this year. Current cyber ops majors will be able to take their classes in Hopper Hall when it opens in 2019. SOM, meanwhile, is no stranger to patriotic architecture: Close to Annapolis, the firm is working on the U.S. Census Bureau Headquarters in Suitland, Maryland, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. Farther afield in Colorado, SOM unveiled its Center for Character and Leadership Development at the U.S. Air Force Academy this year.

SOM exhibits its extensive structural engineering work at new Danish exhibition

A new exhibition entitled Sky's the Limit: The Engineering of Architecture explores Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)'s massive structural engineering portfolio. Exhibited at the Utzon Center in Aalborg, Denmark, the multimedia show takes guests through the process of building many of the world’s tallest buildings. Twenty-six handmade structural models at 1:500 scale are the centerpiece of the show. In another space, 3D glasses are provided to help understand animated illustrations of complex structural components that are projected at 1:2 scale on the gallery’s walls. An immersive narrated video installation surrounds guests with views of SOM’s tower projects while giving insights in the practice’s history. More models, research material, and drawings, give an inside look into how the firm works through multiple building typologies with several design techniques. Sky's the Limit is the second time SOM has exhibited the work of its structural engineers. This new show is over four times the size of the last show and includes many never-before-seen videos, photographs, drawings, and models. The former exhibit, The Engineering of Architecture, was first shown at Architekturgalerie Munich, in Munich, Germany. The Utzon Center was the last building designed by famed Danish architect Jørn Utzon. The center was imagined less as a museum and more as a place where architecture students could gather. The project was a collaboration between Utzon and his son Kim, who would eventually finish the drawings for the project after Utzon’s death. Finished in 2008, the center sits on the Limfjord waterfront in Utzon’s childhood home of Aalborg, a northern Danish harbor city. The center currently functions as an exhibition space and studio space for architecture students, as was intended by the architect. Sky's the Limit: The Engineering of Architecture will be on show through January 15th, 2017.

What’s the future of this landmark SOM plaza?

In the New York City mayor's office, the council chamber, and one borough president's headquarters, officials are hashing out critical—and competing—land use reforms that could impact at least one major development in lower Manhattan. One reform is a slate of new rules from the mayor's office while the other is legislation in the city council; both are making their way right now through the review and approvals process. Currently, there is no unified process for the removal or modification of deed restrictions (the legal covenants that outline the use of land). As deed restrictions limit the use of a property, potentially reducing its value, there is often incentive to have those restrictions lifted. Deed restrictions are also widespread: The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) and other city agencies have put (or have grandfathered in) deed restrictions on thousands of city properties, both through the sale of city-owned parcels and through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). The mayor's office has introduced agency-level reforms to address shortcomings in the deed restriction modification process. DCAS is holding a hearing next week on these reforms. The mayor's rules call for a review process with a public hearing, plus a stipulation that the community board, borough president, and appropriate councilmember be notified of the pending changes. Parallel to the mayor's reforms, Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer and city councilmember Margaret Chin are advancing legislation that would, among other measures, subject deed modifications to a more rigorous public review. Although Chin and Brewer’s bill, Intro 1182, grew from public outcry over the lack of oversight around the removal of the Rivington House deed restriction, Chin's district also includes 28 Liberty (formerly known as One Chase Manhattan Plaza), another flash point property. Its owner, global developer Fosun, is pushing to modify the deed restriction to construct 11- to 17-foot-tall glass entrances to below-ground retail on the landmarked plaza. Both the mayor’s rules and the Intro 1182 have special importance for Manhattan Community Board 1 (CB1). 28 Liberty lies within the CB1's boundaries and, in a mirror of the citywide conversation, the property has been a controversial issue for the board since the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) approved changes to the landmarked plaza last year. At the CB1's Planning Subcommittee meeting last week, CB1 board members debated a resolution on deed restriction modifications that will go before the full board at their October 28 meeting. In drafting the resolution, board members repeatedly raised three points: The difference between a "major" or "minor" deed restriction, how that difference should be determined, and by whom. Currently, there's no system in place determine that difference—a minor modification to some could be a radical change in use to another observer, as the ongoing discussion around 28 Liberty's pavilions illustrates. "From what we've seen, putting a deed restriction in place seems to always benefit the public," said James Caras, the borough president's general counsel and director of land use. He added that the burden of proving the benefit of substantial deed modifications or removals should fall on the entity seeking the changes. The borough president's office believes that deed modifications that change the use of a property would "probably benefit" from public review under Brewer and Chin's proposed law. If a developer wants to change the use from public to private, for example, that action may be subject to ULURP, while a continuation of public use may not be. In soliciting the public's voice, Intro 1182 has precedent. Right now, deed restrictions that were the result of a ULURP must be removed through the same process. Intro 1182 would subject major modifications, which are typically granted per the administrative procedures of the DCAS, or the relevant agency, to a ULURP—what they call "the gold standard of public review." In September 2016 testimony given to the Council Committee on Governmental Operations and the Committee on Investigation, Brewer and Chin raised considerable objections to the proposed DCAS rules. The rules' foundations, they said, would not be as strong as the competing law passed by the council, as rules could be changed at any time by the agency itself or by the next administration. As CB1 planning committee member Reggie Thomas pointed out, a ULURP process can be prohibitively costly and time-consuming. Yet, during the meeting there seemed to be a consensus from the board on some kind of public review when the proposed deed changes involve a switch from public to private use. CB1 chair Anthony Notaro called the decision-making process for other properties "a gray area," but said that regardless, the community "should be on the front line, one of the hurdles, before any decision is made." Specifics like these, Caras said, would be worked out in legislation. In light of the lifting of deed restrictions at Rivington House and the Dance Theater of Harlem, as well as continuing conversation around 28 Liberty, Brewer's office is reaching out to each community board in its jurisdiction to answer questions about the pending reforms. Until the city and the council hammer out their respective plans, though, there's no clear process on how to modify deed restrictions, so projects like 28 Liberty are treading water. While plans on file with the Department of Buildings (DOB) show that interior upgrades are progressing, construction on the plaza's glass pavilions appears to be on hold, because the project can only move forward if a deed restriction regulating the height of objects on the plaza is removed. The LPC-issued Certificate of Appropriateness from November 2015 states that no work on the plaza can begin until the agency has received and reviewed the final DOB filing set of drawings, specifications, and a scope of work that details the restoration of the on-site Dubuffet sculpture and Noguchi garden. A spokesperson for the LPC confirmed that the agency has not received DOB specs or drawings. In a statement, Fosun said "all Landmarks Preservation Commission comments regarding the Dubuffet sculpture and Noguchi garden have been resolved to the satisfaction of the LPC," adding that interior work continues to "prepare for the exterior work." At press time, The Architect's Newspaper (AN) was able to confirm that the scope of work for the restoration of the Noguchi garden was on file with the LPC. (As a freestanding object, the Dubuffet, it turns out, is not part of the landmark's designation and is thus outside of the LPC's purview.) Fosun declined to comment on the status of the glass pavilions, reasons for the delay, and whether construction documents exist for the plaza modifications. New York–based SOM, the architect for the project, also declined to comment. In July 2016, Bloomberg News reported that Fosun is preparing to sell $6 billion in assets between now and the end of next year in an effort to raise its junk credit rating and alleviate its massive debt, although AN was able to confirm the seeming hold-up on the plaza is unrelated to Fosun's financial status. On Tuesday night the CB1 planning committee revealed its resolution to the public. It called the reforms drafted by the mayor's office and DCAS "neither sufficient nor in the public interest" due to the fact that they may be easily changed by another administration. The board instead supports a legislative process and expressed support for elected officials as they research the kind and quantity of deed-restricted properties (there's no unified database right now) to create "an appropriate process" for deed restriction modification or removals. The full CB1 board approved the resolution unanimously.

SOM Foundation announces annual travel fellowship winners

The SOM Foundation has announced the 2016 SOM Foundation Fellowships. Since 1981, the foundation has awarded over 200 graduating undergraduate and graduate students of architecture, design, urban design, and structural engineering with money to fund travel and research in the year after graduation. This year’s winners include MIT M.Arch graduate Jongwan Kwon, Columbia University M.Arch graduate Lindsey Wikstrom, and MIT M.S. in Building Technology graduate Nathan Collin Brown. The SOM Foundation also awarded three $5,000 SOM China Prizes to recent graduates in China. The awardees are chosen by independent juries composed of multi-disciplinary professionals and SOM Foundation officers. The mission of the awards is to “nurture future leaders in design by giving them the opportunity to broaden their cultural and aesthetic horizons through travel outside of their countries.” The top award, the SOM Prize, was awarded to Jongwan Kwon for his proposed research topic, “After Efficiency: Logistics Infrastructure from a Regional Perspective.” With the awarded $50,000, Kwon will travel through international ports, airports, canals, and tunnels to study the impact infrastructure projects have on their regional environment. Kwon will interview noted scholars and practitioners throughout his travels to better understand the subject. After graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a Master of Architecture degree and a Certificate in Urban Design, Kwon was appointed as a Teaching Fellow at the school. Kwon has worked at Kengo Kuma & Associates and Morphosis Architects. The $20,000 SOM Travel Fellowship was awarded to Lindsey Wikstrom, a recent graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation and Planning (GSAPP). Wikstrom’s research topic “An Immersive Catalogue of Housing Systems,” will focus on producing a catalogue exploring the how living environments are produced through the “convergence of markets, demand, and social vitality.” The catalogue will be a “comprehensive visual report of the systems, occupants, and typologies.” The SOM Structural Engineering Travel Fellowship was awarded to Nathan Collin Brown. The Structural Engineering Travel Fellowship “aims to foster an appreciation of the aesthetic potential in the structural design of buildings and bridges.” Browns proposal, “Integrating Secondary Goals into Structural Design,” will take him to North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. The SOM Foundation was established in 1979. The fellowships were set up in order to provide support outside of the traditional academic setting. Awardees are expected to use the money to travel internationally to conduct research and “broaden their cultural and aesthetic horizons.”

Students build glowing installation in West Side Chicago park

Students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) have designed and built a temporary installation in Chicago’s Homan Square Park. The installation, entitled bLUMEN, is the result of a summer course taught by architectural light artists Luftwerk and Chicago-based MAS Studio. The course was organized by the SAIC Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects (AIADO) and the Shapiro Center for Research and Collaboration. bLUMEN takes its name from the German word for flower, blume, and the latin word for light, lumen. The installation is comprised of six 10-foot tall hexagonal steel canopies. The canopy supports fifteen interconnected horticulture LED grow lights that help grow a handful of plants and vegetables. Situated on an underutilized site, bLUMEN was envisioned as a catalyst for community activity and social interaction. The West Side community of Homan Square is one of Chicago’s neighborhoods that suffers from a lack of access to healthy and fresh food. bLUMEN spotlights this issue, while providing a space for existing or new programs to gather, by day or night. The 10 students involved with the project worked with engineers from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and metal fabricators, Active Alloys.

SOM proposes new use for vacant Bertrand Goldberg building

Landmarks Illinois, working with, the City of Elgin, Illinois, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) have released an extensive study into the reuse of the Elgin Laundry Building. The long span accordion-shaped structure was designed by Bertrand Goldberg and sits the former campus of the Elgin Mental Health Hospital. Currently vacant, the study explores how the space could be reused as a multipurpose recreational facility. Landmarks Illinois listed the 1967 structure on its 2009-09 Chicagoland Watchlist, a list of endangered historic building in the Chicago area. In the past, Goldberg’s status as one of Chicago’s Modernist masters has not been enough save his buildings from the wrecking ball. SOM’s reuse plans leverage the building’s 110-foot by 240-foot column-free interior. The hope is to provide a space that can be programmed for maximum flexibility, without compromising the original design. If realized, the Laundry Building would become an extension of Elgin’s existing central relaxation complex. The proposal includes the possibility of 350 spectator bleachers, locker rooms, administrative offices, refurbished glass end walls, and a floor that could be used for basketball, indoor soccer, and other team sports. Over the years the building has suffered some cosmetic wear, but it is still structurally sound. SOM has also included plans for making the building more sustainable. Possible power generation from photovoltaic cells and rainwater harvesting are part of the study, as well as improved daylighting and natural ventilation. This initial proposal is still in the speculative stage, but if pursued, the city and designers, hope to engage the public in realizing the project. The full study can be found here.

Top global firms battle for $1.1 billion Sydney high-rise project

A plethora of big names are gunning for a $1.1 billion tower in Sydney, Australia. From the U.S., HOK, SOM, and KPF are vying for the commission. A stellar list of firms in their own right, British firms Foster + Partners and David Chipperfield Architects are also in running, alongside Australia’s BVN and Hassell. The lucrative project is an office skyscraper backed by developer Lendlease and located on 182 George Street. Nestled within Sydney's, Circular Quay—a prime piece of real estate—the office, according to the Architect's Journal, would climb to 813 feet. Tenants look set to gain access to vistas over the waterfront that look onto the iconic Sydney Harbor Bridge and Jørn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House. If built, the tower would be the tallest in the country. A masterplan is also said to be accompanying the scheme. On their website, Lendlease said that the scheme will "promote connectivity from George Street to Pitt Street, through to Circular Quay and maximise integration with transport infrastructure." In the statement, the developer goes on to say:
The project will deliver new quality commercial premises and new urban places in an environmentally sustainable way. A vibrant public place will be created with new urban amenity, including a public bike hub and public plazas with dining options, shopping, entertainment and leisure, delivering a new destination in Circular Quay for residents, visitors and workers. This will help to affirm Sydney's position as a globally relevant, intelligent, and innovative metropolis. It is also in alignment with the City of Sydney's vision to create activated areas and new public spaces.
The development is one of many touted/in the works for the area. Danish studio 3XN Architects is currently designing Quay Quarter Tower—a 49-storey office tower in the area of which they beat Japanese firm SANAA and MVRDV for the right to design. Meanwhile, the Sydney Opera House is undergoing a massive renovation courtesy of Australian firm ARM. Unlike his compatriots, Japanese architect Kengo Kuma won the commission for two high-rise residential towers earlier on this year. That project is due to cost $742 million and will offer two towers rising to 57 and 28 storeys, set for completion in 2018.