As developer and property owner part ways, one of Chicago’s largest planned developments gets put on indefinite hold. The Lakeside development, planned for the former South Works United States Steel mill site in Chicago’s South Shore, was to be a $4 billion, 369-acre mixed-use development. Twelve years in the making, the projects was being developed through a partnership between Chicago-based developer McCaffery Interests and the land’s owner Pittsburgh-based United States Steel. Plans called for upwards of 13,000 residential units, over 17 million square feet of commercial space, 125 acres of public land, and a 1,500-slip marina. Situated in the formerly industrial area along the lake, tens of millions of dollars have already been invested in the project, including rerouting a public road. Though the Illinois Department of Transportation planned to reroute the road before McCaffery first presented the Skidmore Owings and Merrill (SOM) Master plan in 2004, when built, the $64 million improvement anticipated the development. The road includes parallel parking spots surfaced in permeable pavement, high-efficiency LED streetlights, and bike lanes. Both Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel were on hand for the much anticipated ribbon cutting for that new road back in 2014. With no development, that road will continue to sit mostly empty. But now with the land's future in limbo, local 10th Ward Ald. Susan Sadlowski-Garza and McCaffery are hoping entice George Lucas to move the much embattled Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts to the site. Ald. Sadlowski-Garza and McCaffery also had lobbied to have the Obama Presidential Library located on the site. Though the project is stalled for the moment, even if it was to move forward, it would be a long time in the making. According to earlier press releases, the plan called for at least six phases and between 25–45 years to finish.
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Last week Microsoft submitted plans to the city of Mountain View to expand its Silicon Valley headquarters. As with Apple's upcoming building and Google's proposed campus, this one is also pastoral and eco-minded. A rendering by shows the low-rise office buildings enmeshed in a riparian landscape and topped by an expanse of verdant meadow. According to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, WRNS Studio replaced SOM on the job. This new scheme not only updates the 515,000-square-foot campus, but also adds 128,000 square feet of workspace and 164,000 square feet of green roof. Changing the paradigm for parking, the design will restore more than 6 acres of asphalt surface parking into a “creekside environment.” But don’t expect a decreased demand for parking spaces, there’s talk of a new garage topped by a soccer field. "They’ve talked to us from square one about taking all the parking adjacent to Stevens Creek and turning that to habitat," said Mountain View Community development director Randy Tsuda told SVBJ. The tech behemoth also intends to buy the property, which it now leases. In an email to employees executive vice president Qi Lu wrote, “Today, I am excited to announce our plan to further invest in the success of the Silicon Valley region. Microsoft is acquiring the Mountain View Silicon Valley Campus to build a state-of-the-art facility and create an exceptional place to work... Sustainability, collaboration, and health & wellness are at the center of the design, incorporating features such as team courtyards, easy access to the outdoors, an onsite gym, and LEED Platinum certification.” WRNS’s plan calls for demolishing and rebuilding two existing buildings and infilling much of the campus with courtyards and outdoor spaces, while new programs along Macon Street and La Avenida Streets will directly engage with the community. Construction is expected to start in early 2017.
The Willis Tower (formerly known as, and still referred to by locals as, the Sears Tower) has been bumped from the Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat’s (CTBUH) top ten tallest buildings in the world list with the completion of the Gensler-designed Shanghai Tower in Shanghai, China. The significance of the Willis Tower’s fall from the top ten is in the fact that Chicago, as the birthplace of the skyscraper typology, has consistently been included in the list of top ten tallest buildings for at least the last 50 years. At 1,450 feet tall, the Willis Tower held the position of tallest in the world for 24 years from 1974–1998, when it was topped by the 1,483-foot-tall Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Council on Tall Building and Urban Habitat measures buildings “from the level of the lowest, significant, open-air, pedestrian entrance to the architectural top of the building, including spires, but not including antennae, signage, flagpoles or other functional-technical equipment” Perhaps in a twist of irony, the tallest buildings in the world that have pushed Chicago out of the rankings have often been designed in Chicago or by Chicago-based offices. Though designed in its San Francisco office, the Shanghai Tower is the work of Chicago-based Gensler. The current world’s tallest building, Dubai's 2,717-foot-tall Burj Khalifa, was designed by Chicago-based SOM, also the designers of the Willis Tower. SOM is also responsible for the design of One World Trade Center in New York, which bumped the Willis Tower from its position as tallest building in the United States. Chicago-based Adrian Smith of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill, former design partner and head of the Burj Khalifa project at SOM, is also responsible for the Jeddah Tower which will take the crown of tallest in the world when it is completed in 2020, rising over Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, at a height of over 3,300 feet. Though Chicago no longer boasts the tallest skyline, the expertise of its architects is in higher demand than ever. According to the CTBUH, Chicago’s Willis Tower, and many other towers in the United States, will hardly break the top 50 tallest buildings in the world within the next 10 years, yet it can counted on that many of the multitudes of Asian towers soon to be crowding the top will be designed in the city where it all began.
It’s too late for Late Modernism in Long Beach after the city council voted unanimously to demolish the existing Long Beach Civic Center and replace it with a sleek modern design by SOM. The old civic center is a victim of both seismic and aesthetic concerns. Designed by Allied Architects, a consortium including local firms Gibbs & Gibbs, Architects; Homolka & Associates; Killingsworth, Brady & Associates, and Kenneth S. Wing and Associates, with landscape architect Peter Walker in 1973, the scheme includes a subterranean library (once was topped by a public green landscape until the roof began to leak) and a city hall tower. (For more on my defense of this “difficult landscape” see my piece over at Medium.) The Long Beach Post reports that the new project is a “public-private venture that will erect a newer, sleeker and earthquake-resilient compound.” The new design represents the end of a 10-year process to get approval to replace older structures and the beginning of an estimated seven-year construction plan. According to the Post, the project will cost the city approximately $14.71 million annually. The city will “lease the buildings from Plenary Edgemoor Civic Partners (PECP), the firm heading the design and construction of the project, before it takes ownership of it after 40 years.” SOM’s 22-acre Long Beach Civic Center Master Plan suggests a mixed-use district that includes a 270,000-square-foot City Hall, 93,500-square-foot Main Library, 232,000-square-foot Port Headquarters, and the redevelopment of Long Beach’s historic Lincoln Park. It also includes design guidelines for 800 residential units and 50,000 square feet of commercial development.
Here’s Philadelphia’s ambitious plan to build a neighborhood over a railyard on the Schuylkill River
Cap and trade agreements are a standard tool in the climate change fight. Philadelphia, in collaboration with an urban design team led by SOM, is getting in on the game. Recently revised plans for the 30th Street Station and surrounding neighborhoods call for capping 70 acres of Amtrak and SEPTA-owned land, trading the underutilized space for a mixed-use neighborhood, parkland, and three pedestrian bridges across the Schuylkill River, linking University City with Logan Square and Center City. SOM partnered with Parsons Brinckerhoff, OLIN, and HR&A Advisors on the $5.25 million study. Through citizen input, the design team developed three iterations of the plan, all of which were presented and debated at a December 16th meeting, PlanPhilly reported. The study reviews land use over 175 acres, 88 of which are owned by Amtrak and SEPTA. The main project partners are Amtrak, Brandywine Realty Trust, Drexel University, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), and SEPTA, along with twelve other stakeholders. Once adopted, the plan will guide the area's development through 2040. In addition to the capping and bridges, all three plans propose doubling the size of Drexel Park, boardwalks, a river overlook, and a bus terminal. There will be two more public meetings on the plan in spring and summer 2016.
One only had to glance out the window to understand why the 18th floor of Mart Plaza hotel was the perfect venue for the Chicago addition of the Facades+ Conferences. With views of 333 W. Wacker, the Willis Tower, and a handful of new towers under construction, the history of the modern facade was on display. The conversation in the symposium would be equally as rich with local and international speakers. The morning’s keynote address from Chris Wilkinson of London-based WilkinsonEyre, explored the latest in novel skin technologies from the fantastic flowing domes of Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay project, to the ship like Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, UK. The diverse range of projects presented by Wilkinson were shown along with insights into the process that lead their award winning solutions. In the case of the Mary Rose Museum, the recovered Mary Rose Ship is at the center of the design literally and ideologically. In particular, special care was taken to provide the precise environmental conditions needed to preserve the 420-year-old vessel. In his afternoon keynote address, Chicago’s John Ronan of John Ronan Architects discussed the political and social impact facades can have on a neighborhood. In the case of two of the public projects presented, brightly colored panel facades at once announce the project as a neighborhood institution, while providing a physical safety barrier in areas of the city where gun violence is too often a part of a high schooler’s life. Using a similar system of metal paneling for decidedly different reasons, Ronan described the iconic nature and tranquil interior provided in his Poetry Foundation building in downtown Chicago. Ronan closed with a detailed look at the high-tech skin of the forthcoming Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship at the Mies van der Rohe–designed Illinois Institute of Technology campus. The project’s inflated ETFE foil cushion skin regulates interior climate by controlling a moveable interior membrane with a variable air pressure system. Other presentations included a discussion between 2015 AIA Chicago Gold Medal winner Carol Ross Barney, architecture critic Lee Bey, and Chicago Public Building Commission Executive Director Felicia Davis, on building in the public realm for the public good. Maged Guirguis of SOM and James Rose of the Institute for Smart Structures presented AMIE, the Additive Manufacturing/Integrated Energy project, a 3D printed house and vehicle pairing reimagining energy use. The day also included presentations from over 20 other experts in facade design, manufacturing, engineering, and the Methods + Materials gallery. Day two of the symposium included workshops and presentations from leaders in the global facade dialog, including representatives from Buro Happold, SOM, and Autodesk. The workshops provided for a hands-on, one-on-one, chance to discuss and explore the latest in facade technologies and design practices. Enrique Norten of TEN Arquitectos and Eric Owen Moss will give keynote addresses at the next Facades+ event on January 28th–29th in Los Angeles.
With backing from developers Related California, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) is moving forward with a new residential tower project at 1500 Mission Street and South Van Ness in the Bay Area of San Francisco. Reaching 39 floors, the tower will hold 560 apartments which will each have an average area of around 730 square feet, replacing the Goodwill Industries currently on site. According to The San Francisco Business Times, 112 of the 560 units are expected to be designated affordable housing spaces available at below the market rates. In an effort to retain the site's heritage, the scheme plans to incorporate the Coca Cola Bottling Plant Clock Tower into its design—a pre-existing feature that was iconic to the site. Also included in the project will be 24,000 square feet of retail and 450,000 square feet of office space of which the clock tower would be integrated into one of the entrances.
The building's pleated glass envelope contains 1,672 energy efficient panels that uniquely responds to its location.SOM has floated a glass cube above a large stepped civic plaza negotiating a sloped site in downtown Los Angeles for their United States Courthouse project, scheduled to open July, 2016 with an anticipated LEED Platinum rating. The 633,000 square foot, 220 foot tall facility includes 24 daylight-filled courtrooms and 32 judges’ chambers. José Luis Palacios, Design Director at SOM Los Angeles, says this structural configuration was integral to the success of the project: “Our challenge was how to make a transparent building, both metaphorically and structurally.” The project is being labeled as one of the nation’s safest buildings in regards to bomb threats and earthquakes due to an innovative structural engineering concept which allows a large volume of building to “float” over a stone base protected with hardened-concrete shear walls. The outer 33 feet of cantilevered building is suspended from a three-dimensional steel “hat truss” system, freeing the need for columns at the perimeter and ground level. The trusses are efficiently designed through an optimization process which resulted in a material savings of over 13 percent when compared to conventional trusses. The facade is comprised of a unitized 6’ wide by 20’ tall panel, organized into a ‘pleated’ zigzagged surface. By reconciling the downtown Los Angeles street grid, which runs 38 degrees east of true north, with optimum solar angles, the facade managed to reduce solar heat gain, harvest natural daylight, and maximize views into and out of the building. The pleating of the facade allows for a reduction in the radiant heat load of the building by 47 percent compared to a flat surface. Signage to the building is applied as a ceramic frit pattern to the glass of the pleated facade. The two-dimensional graphic, the ‘Great Seal of the United States,’ is projected onto the three dimensional facade, reinforcing the civic plaza and a frontal approach to the main entrance. As a result of the pleating, facade panels were broken down into two types: a “hot panel” and a “cold panel” side. Additional variation was introduced through internal program requirements, such as the Broadway and Hill Street facades where courtrooms consists of three internal layers of shades help to manage daylight from both sides of the courtroom. The modular, shop built assembly of panels is something Palacios says SOM is incorporating into an increasing amount of their projects today: “This gives us long-term durability, and seismic responsiveness: a great flexibility and resiliency.”
Vishaan Chakrabarti departs SHoP to begin his own practice, the Partnership for Architecture and Urbanism
Architect and planner Vishaan Chakrabarti has had some crazy ideas over the years. In the past he has worked to convert an old Post Office adjacent to Penn Station into the monumental Moynihan Station and helped shape a loopy scheme to transform the former Domino Sugar Factory on Brooklyn's Williamsburg Waterfront. In 2013, he even spearheaded a proposal to extend Manhattan island to connect it with Governors Island and project a new plot of land into New York Harbor. It's fair to say that Chakrabarti thinks big. Today, Chakrabarti announced his latest big idea: his own architecture firm called the Partnership for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU). "All architects have something in them says they want to start their own firm," Chakrabarti told AN on Thursday. "I certainly thought about it in the past. I realized if I didn’t do this now I wouldn’t do it." He hopes PAU can return relevance to a profession that the public has relegated to "navel gazing." Rather than viewing buildings as shiny objects, PAU will look at how they interact with cities and across disciplines, accounting for the building user's experience and that of passers by. Chakrabarti has assembled a diverse and prestigious resume, working at top posts in the public and private sector. He started his career at SOM. Six years later he was named head at the Manhattan office of the Department of City Planning under Dan Doctoroff where he worked on projects like the High Line. Later he joined development firm the Related Companies, where he was named Executive Vice President of Design and Planning. The list goes on. Chakrabarti served as Director of the Columbia Center for Urban Real Estate in 2009 and is an Associate Professor of Professional Practice at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP). In 2012, he joined up with the skyrocketing firm SHoP Architects in the midst of several mega-projects including a number of skyscrapers and Essex Crossing. He published his book, A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for Urban America, in 2014, expounding a manifesto of urban living. "For me, PAU is really an opportunity to synthesize all of that experience into one direction," Chakrabarti said. "To bring to bear all I have learned—it’s a great chance to bring all that experience together." He plans to draw on both his planning and architecture background to create a more holistic firm. "I think this is a healthy and important thing for the future of architecture, to understand the context in which we practice," he said. "It’s about speaking multiple languages." In his work, teachings, and writing, Chakrabarti has been a staunch supporter of cities and the urban density that makes them tick. PAU, set to be based in New York City, will focus on those cities. "You’ll see a very strong focus on cosmopolitan architecture and strategic urbanism—how we’ll have an impact that’s very directly associated with cities," he said. "That division—architecture and planning—is what makes cities work," he continued. "It used to be that the professions were joined at the hip. You could think of architecture as an outcome of innovative planning. That’s no longer the case." PAU will concentrate on architecture and strategic planning, including master planning, advocacy, and urban design. The firm's first clients include Google's Sidewalk Labs, a new project with Two Trees Management, and a new cultural building in Manhattan. Chakrabarti said he couldn't disclose concrete details about those projects and noted that his firm would begin unveiling them in coming months. Describing his work with Sidewalk Labs, Chakrabarti said his work will prioritize "the future of the city and technology and how technology can create innovation and make our lives better by elevating quality of life. It thinks about everything from changes to the automobile to changes in how we use services in the city." PAU's cultural commission "will talk about the future of how culture interacts with the city and integrates with the urban experience." He added, "It's not just another black box." PAU will initially focus on metropolitan areas in North America. "I’m very interested in the betterment of the American city," he said. "Mayor’s around the country have really caught on to this—that design is a critical piece of attracting human capital and making cities better places." Chakrabarti said the firm may eventually work internationally, but with strong caveats against working in nations that abuse labor or are not transparent and accountable.
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) associate Neil Katz describes his approach to crafting facades as involving a “computational design” methodology. In computational design, the architect generates solutions to a particular problem by first defining a set of rules and criteria for the model. Though the many tools Katz uses during this process include intangibles like “a desire to explore as many valid options as possible” and his office’s collaborative environment, in many instances he also performs literal computation—specifically, parametric modeling. Katz will moderate a panel on “Creating Complex Facades with Parametric Control” at next month’s Facades+ Chicago symposium. On day two of the conference, he and SOM colleague Joel Putnam will lead a dialog workshop on “New Techniques in Parametric Design." Parametric modeling can be the means to several ends, explained Katz. First, it can be used to explore a building’s massing, taking into account constraints like program, site, climate, context, and the overarching design concept. When applied to facade panelization, meanwhile, parametric control works with a different set of rules, including the relative flatness of the facade or the desire for regularity or other panel properties. Finally, observed Katz, “analysis and simulation, and visualization of the results, is also part of the parametric process—and can be a parametric process in its own right.” Katz’s affinity for parametric design is in part an outgrowth of his interest in programming. “Even in school, but especially when I started working at SOM, this ability became a natural part of creating models, and performing many of the tasks I was given,” he said. During the 1980s, as a design student enrolled in computer science courses, he was an anomaly. But that may be changing. “For many years, engineers [also had to have] some expertise at programming to do their work,” said Katz. “That’s becoming true for architects as well. I would say that most architecture students are now interested in acquiring and using this skill.” He has observed a similar shift among his fellow architects at SOM. “More and more, my colleagues are building their own models, and my contribution is helping to develop a strategy to make the model as powerful and flexible as possible,” said Katz. Like Katz, his co-panelists are working to solve some of the challenges inherent to parametric design, including the time it takes to perform the various analyses. Tristan d’Estrée Sterk, of Formsolver and ORAMBRA, is “currently developing a tool (Formsolver) which will allow architects to easily optimize a building’s form and material use as little energy as necessary,” said Katz. Matthew Shaxted will also join the conversation. Parallel.Works, the firm he co-founded, gives AEC industry professionals access to the computing power necessary to perform many of the analyses described above. “Parallel.Works does not create new tools, as Formsolver does, but allows people to use existing tools in a more powerful way,” observed Katz. Thornton Tomasetti vice president Hauke Jungjohann is the third member of the panel. A specialist in parametric modeling, form optimization, and digital information transfer, Jungjohann leads the Facade Engineering practice for the firm’s East U.S. Region. Hear from Katz, d’Estrée Sterk, Shaxted, Jungjohann, and other leaders in the field of building envelope design and fabrication November 5-6 at Facades+ Chicago. Learn more and register today by visiting the Facades+ website.
What's tall, glassy, and grows all over? Manhattan luxury residential buildings, the latest of which is almost complete. On October 9th, developers presided over the topping off ceremony of 252 East 57th Street, a new luxury tower on the Upper East Side by SOM and interior architect Daniel Romualdez. The team designed the 65-story, 700-foot-tall building with a curved glass facade to allow exquisite views of neighboring luxury buildings. The tower, "will offer exclusive amenities that define a life immersed in luxury," including a "resident's club," a 75-foot pool, and a spa. The units range from two to five bedrooms, with a starting price of $4.25 million. The tower is being developed by World Wide Group and Rose Associates. 252 East 57th Street will welcome its first residents late next year.
A high-performance building prototype which shares energy with a natural-gas-powered hybrid electric vehicle.A cross-disciplinary team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have designed an innovative single-room building module to demonstrate new manufacturing and building technology pathways. The research project, named Additive Manufacturing Integrated Energy (AMIE), leverages rapid innovation through additive manufacturing, commonly known as ‘3d printing,’ to connect a natural-gas-powered hybrid electric vehicle to a high-performance building designed to produce, consume, and store renewable energy. The vehicle and building were developed concurrently as part of the AMIE project. The goal of AMIE was twofold according to Dr. Roderick Jackson, Group Leader of Building Envelope Systems Research and Project Lead for the AMIE project at ORNL: “First, how do we integrate two separate strains of energy: buildings and vehicles; and secondly, how do we use additive manufacturing as a way to create a framework for rapid innovation while not becoming constrained by the resources of today?” Additive manufacturing contributed to formal expression of the building envelope structure and offered efficiencies in material usage while significantly reducing construction waste. Jackson says the design and manufacturing process became embedded into the ‘rapid innovation’ spirit of the project. “The architects at SOM worked hand in hand with the manufacturing process, sharing the building model with the 3d printers in the same way that the vehicle shares power with building. For example, within the course of less than a week, between the manufacturer, the material supplier, the 3d printers, and the architects, we were able to work together to reduce the print time by more than 40%.” In total, the AMIE project – from research, through design, manufacturing, and assembly – took 9 months. The building incorporates low-cost vacuum insulated panels into an additively manufactured shell, printed in 2’ widths in half ring profiles, assembled at Clayton Homes, the nation’s largest manufactured home builder. The vacuum insulated panels consist of Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) with 20% carbon fiber reinforcement, a material which serves as a “starting point” for Jackson and his team: “We wanted to open up the door for people to say ‘what if?’ What if we used a non-traditional material to construct a building? I see this product as a ‘gateway.’ This might not be the final material we’ll end up using to construct buildings in the future. We’ll need to find locally available materials and utilize more cost-saving techniques. But we had to start somewhere. The ABS product will open the door for a conversation.” The project emerged out of fundamental questions concerning access to, and use of energy. Climate change, an increasing demand for renewable energy sources, and uncertainty in the balance of centralized versus distributed energy resources all impact the grid. In addition, more than 1.3 billion people worldwide have no access to an electric grid, and for an additional billion people, grid access is unreliable. AMIE will doubly function in the near future as an educational showcase to both the public who will learn of its story, and ORNL researchers who will continue to monitor how energy is generated, used, and stored. Will there be an AMIE 2.0? Jackson responds: “We don’t look at this as a one hit wonder. We really want this research to be the first stone thrown in the water that causes a ripple throughout the disciplines involved. Not only for us, but throughout the world. We want to put this out there so other smart people can look at it and brainstorm. If the end of the next project looks anything like AMIE 1.0, then we’ve missed the boat.”