Posts tagged with "SOM":

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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.
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SOM’s Neil Katz on parametric modeling in facade design

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.
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Manhattan’s newest luxury building, 252 East 57th Street, almost complete

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.
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Learning from AMIE: a look into the future of 3d printing and sustainable energy management

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.
  • Facade Manufacturer Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
  • Facade Installer Clayton Homes (assembly)
  • Facade Consultants Oak Ridge National Laboratory (research), Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (design)
  • Location Oak Ridge, TN
  • Date of Completion September 2015
  • System 3d printed atmospherically insulated panels (AIP), post-tensioning rods, photovoltaic (PV) roof panels
  • Products 20% carbon fiber reinforced ABS plastic
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.”
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Just don’t call it Frisco: Could Trump top a San Francisco tower?

New York has one, Chicago has one, and now the Chronicle’s John King alerts us that San Francisco might see a Trump-brand tower in its future. No one is taking bets on the conservative presidential candidate’s name emblazoned on a highrise located in one the most progressive cities on the planet, but King is stirring the pot to call attention to a land auction hosted by Transbay Joint Powers Authority on September 2. On the docket: a parcel of land on the 500 block of Howard Street, where zoning allows for an 800-foot tower. Five development teams will bid against each other. According to King, “[I]dentities are being kept secret until the live auction to, in the words of bureaucrats, 'preserve the integrity of the competition.'” Will Trump be one? The Chron’s critic is wagering a guess, suggesting that with minimum bid at $160 million, the live auction could set off a bidding war that would help pay for the Transbay Transit Center. Designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli, the center expected to serve eleven different transportation systems and feature a rooftop park. The tower on the offer would join others in San Francisco's Transbay district by Studio Gang, OMA, SOM, and Foster and Partners. Gang’s undulating 40-story tower recently came under fire for its soaring height, which community activists protested would cast a shadow over the public Rincon Park on the Embarcadero waterfront. King’s argument, however, is not that Trump will soon be mixing it up in the town of Milk and Moscone (or the new SF: Twitter and Uber) but that design is pushed off the table for the sake of raising cash. In 2007, the city held a design competition for the transit center and neighboring tower. This auction comes with no design strings attached. “Standards are slipping,” he wrote and continued: “If the check clears, good enough. Let the city’s Planning Department sort through messy questions about how the tower looks or whether the developer will try to push for extra space.”
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Watch One World Trade, New York City’s tallest skyscraper, rise in less than two minutes

With the recent opening of One World Trade Center, the folks over at EarthCam have reshared their 2013 timelapse of the tower's 1,776 foot rise. There's not too much else to say about the video, other than that it sure makes the building's very long and arduous climb seem pretty quick and easy. It's also set to some very Game of Thrones-y music, so it has that going for it too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nn11DWH_LEA You can check out the video above to see One World Trade, and some other pieces of the World Trade Center site (hello, Four World Trade!), take shape over what has been a very fraught time frame. And, hey, maybe in another year or so, we'll be back here watching a timelapse of Calatrava's Transportation Hub. And after that, how about the rise of (maybe) Bjarke Ingels' 2 World Trade Center?
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Nick Cecchi reflects on Doors Open Denver and the future of the city’s architecture and public design

Doors Open Denver turned 11 this spring with the Denver Architectural Foundation hosting the showcase of Denver architecture and design from the recently renovated Union Station. The event ran April 25th and 26th and included open houses at some of Denver’s most notable historic buildings, as well as tours and open doors at many local firms. The event was headquartered at, and highlighted by, the newly renovated Union Station, a Beaux Arts masterpiece that has become the anchor of a vibrant and rapidly growing transportation district. Union Station’s renovated interior, by JG Johnson Architects, serves to enliven and activate the historic space, with the detailing and character of the many shops and restaurants forming a pleasing juxtaposition with the carefully restored and accented historical interior. Behind historic Union Station sits a new commuter rail terminal, designed by the San Francisco office of SOM. The soaring steel and fabric form is not to be missed and its nimble execution and tectonic expression does an expert job of subtly referencing Denver International Airport’s architecture, the destination of commuter trains departing the terminal. Other historical buildings that were open for visitors included the Oxford Hotel, the Historic Sugar Building with its two original Otis cage elevators, and Hotel Teatro in the Tramway Building. Distinguished contemporary buildings included the newly renovated Nichols Building, the deftly executed Clyfford Still Museum, and both Gio Ponti (North Building) and Daniel Libeskind’s (Hamilton Building) contributions to the Denver Art Museum. The theme of this year’s event was “Denver Classics: Then and Now” which Brit Prost, chair of Doors Open Denver and a partner at Davis Partnership Architects, described as, “ [a] showcase [of] how innovative new public spaces are transforming the urban landscape while complementing historically beloved buildings.” While Union Station and other select renovation projects have greatly improved the urban core, the small number of new public buildings cannot nullify the overwhelming onslaught of faceless residential mid-rise and high-rise towers assaulting the city’s aesthetic character. Jeff Sheppard’s (of SheppardRoth Architects) recent invective against this bland and developer-driven architecture should give pause to anyone celebrating the recent increase in Denver’s architectural cachet. One only hopes that as the citizenry experiences and learns about the exceptional public spaces being developed in Denver, the public will begin to demand the same level of design and civic and spatial engagement in residential architecture. Indeed, it is the role of events like this to educate the public and other designers and artist to the role good design plays in urban living.
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Long-empty Strand Theater to re-open in San Francisco’s Mid-Market neighborhood

In May, San Francisco will open its intensive renovation of the Strand Theater, one of so many additions to the city's quickly-changing Mid-Market area. Designed by SOM and Page & Turnbull, the new facility is located inside a 1917 building originally used for Vaudeville and then for second-run movies. The theater had been empty since 2003. The firms maintained the structure's facade and portions of its original auditorium, and created a new cafe, a revamped two-story lobby (with huge windows opening to the outside), and a 120 seat event space above the lobby. The 283-seat auditorium can be transformed into a cabaret-style venue with only 220 seats. The building's historic renovation (which included tearing out most of the interior to the studs and exposing long-covered masonry) and seismic upgrades, invisible to most visitors, were a giant task, especially since space was so tight and the building had been neglected for so long. Don't believe us? Look at the construction images below.
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Here are the AIA New York’s 2015 Design Award Winners in architecture

A jury of architects, landscape architects, critics, educators, and planners has named the 35 winning projects of this year's AIA New York Chapter Design Awards. "Each winning project, granted either an 'Honor' or 'Merit' award, was chosen for its design quality, response to its context and community, program resolution, innovation, thoughtfulness, and technique," AIANY said in a statement. "Submitted projects had to be completed by members of the AIA New York Chapter, architects/designers practicing in New York, or be New York projects designed by architects/designers based elsewhere." Take a look at the winning teams in the architecture category below. But before we get to that, let's start with the Best in Competition distinction which goes to SsD and its Songpa Micro Housing in Seoul, Korea (above). "Like the ambiguous gel around a tapioca pearl, this ‘Tapioca Space’ becomes a soft intersection between public/private and interior/exterior building social fabrics between immediate neighbors," the firm said in a statement. "Finally, as this is housing for emerging artists, exhibition spaces on the ground floor and basement are spatially linked to the units as a shared living room. Although the zoning regulation requires the building to be lifted for parking, this open ground plan is also used to pull the pedestrians in from the street and down a set of auditorium-like steps, connecting city and building residents to the exhibition spaces below." Okay, now onto the Honor Awards in the architecture category. Davis Brody Bond National September 11 Memorial Museum New York, NY
From the architects: "Remembering the fallen Twin Towers through their surviving physical structural footprints, the 9/11 Memorial Museum stands witness to the tragedy and its impact."
John Wardle Architects and NADAAA Melbourne School of Design Melbourne, Australia
From the architects: "The new building for the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning responds to the urban design values identi- fi ed in the Campus Master Plan and enhances the existing open spaces within the historic core of the Centre Precinct of the Parkville Campus. It engages with the existing landscape elements, continues the sequence of outdoor rooms arrayed across the campus, and links strongly to the intricate network of circulation routes that surround the site. The new building compliments and enhances the sense of place that the Eastern Precinct of the Parkville Campus already commands."
REX Vakko Fashion Center Istanbul, Turkey
From the architects: "Turkey’s pre-eminent fashion house, Vakko, and Turkey’s equivalent of MTV, Power Media, planned to design and construct a new headquarters in an extremely tight schedule using an unfinished, abandoned hotel. Fortuitously, the unfinished building had the same plan dimension, floor-to-floor height, and servicing concept as another one of our projects, the Annenberg Center’s 'Ring', which had been cancelled. By adapting the construction documents produced for that project to the abandoned concrete hotel skeleton, construction on the perimeter office block commenced only four days after Vakko/Power first approached our team. This adaptive re-use opened a six-week window during which the more unique portions of the program could be designed simultaneous to construction."
ROGERS PARTNERS Architects+Urban Designers Henderson-Hopkins School Baltimore, MD
From the architects: "The new Elmer A. Henderson: A Johns Hopkins Partnership School and The Harry And Jeanette Weinberg Early Childhood Center, together called Henderson Hopkins, is the fi rst new Baltimore public school built in 30 years. A cornerstone for the largest redevelopment project in Baltimore, it is envisioned as a catalyst in the revitalization of East Baltimore. The seven-acre campus will house 540 K-8 students and 175 pre-school children."  
WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center Brooklyn, NY
From the architects: "A botanic garden is an unusual kind of museum: a fragile collection constantly in flux. As a constructed natural environment, it is dependent on man-made infrastructures to thrive. New York City’s Brooklyn Botanic Garden contains a wide variety of landscapes organized into discrete settings such as the Japanese Garden, the Cherry Esplanade, the Osborne Garden, the Overlook, and the Cranford Rose Garden. The Botanic Garden exists as an oasis in the city, visually separated from the neighborhood by elevated berms and trees."
WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology Philadelphia, PA
From the architects: "The newly-opened Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology demonstrates the University of Pennsylvania’s leadership in the emerging field of nanotechnology. Nanoscale research is at the core of cutting-edge breakthroughs that transcend disciplinary boundaries of engineering, medicine, and the sciences. The new Center for Nanotechnology contains a rigorous collection of advanced labs, woven together by collaborative public spaces that enable interaction between different fields. The University’s first cross disciplinary building, the Singh Center encourages the exchange and integration of knowledge that characterizes the study of this emerging field and combines the resources of both engineering and the sciences."
Merit Awards  Garrison Architects NYC Emergency Housing Prototype Brooklyn, NY H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture Theatre for a New Audience at Polonsky Shakespeare Center Brooklyn, NY Jaklitsch / Gardner Architects Toroishiku (Marc Jacobs Building) Tokyo, Japan Louise Braverman, Architect Village Health Works Staff Housing Kigutu, Burundi Maryann Thompson Architects Pier Two at Brooklyn Bridge Park Brooklyn, NY OPEN Architecture Garden School Beijing, China PARA-Project Haffenden House Syracuse, NY Skidmore, Owings & Merrill University Center – The New School New York, NY Thomas Phifer and Partners Project: United States Courthouse, Salt Lake City Location: Salt Lake City, UT Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects Project: Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts Location: Chicago, IL
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It’s okay, Zaha, building is a tricky game: Starchitecture that has struggled to keep it together

When a huge piece of a starchitect-designed building comes crashing to the ground, the architectural world tends to notice. We are of course talking about the recent reaction to the 176-pound piece of concrete that fell off Zaha Hadid's Library and Learning Centre at Vienna University of Economics and Business. Making matters worse for Hadid, this is the second time the building has shed a piece of its skin. But Zaha is not alone; shed(-ding) happens. As we wait to hear what exactly happened in Vienna - an initial report suggests the issue stems from "defective installation" of the facade - we put together a list of some other starchitect buildings that  have, let's say, lost a little bit of themselves. First, let’s go back in time—back to 1970s Boston when Henry Cobb's Hancock Tower is straight-up dropping 500-pound glass panes (at least 65 of them) onto the city below like in some sort of horror movie where buildings have rejected their human creators. Terrifying stuff. In a Pulitzer Prize–winning story, the Boston Globe reported on what exactly caused the building's window system to catastrophically fail:
Each panel was a sandwich: two layers of glass with an air space between, all held in a metal frame. To cut the glare and heat of the sun, a coat of reflective chromium was placed on the inside surface of the outside pane of glass. (This layer of chrome was what gave the building its mirror effect.) The window frame was bonded to the chrome with a lead solder. During the testing, it was noticed that when a window failed, the failure began when a tiny J-shaped crack appeared at the edge of an outside pane of glass. What was happening was this: The lead solder was bonding too well with the chrome—so well, so rigidly, that the joint couldn't absorb any movement. But window glass always moves. It expands and contracts with changes in temperature, and it vibrates with the wind. So the solder would fatigue and crack. The crack would telegraph through to the glass, and the cycle of failure would begin.
Next we turn to Santiago Calatrava–the Spanish architect with a penchant for creating soaring buildings that are often accompanied by soaring budgets; for more on that, just Google Santiago Calatrava. Great. But right now let's focus on his Queen Sofía Palace of the Arts that opened in Valencia in 2005. The structure, which CityLab perfectly described as a mix between a bird's skull and a stormtrooper's helmet, had to be repaired because pieces of its tile mosaic facade were blowing off in high winds. And then just last year in London, two steel bolts the size of human arms dislodged from Richard Rogers' Leadenhall Building, which is better known as the "Cheesegrater." Thankfully, nobody was injured from the incident. But that's not the end of the Cheesegrater bolt story. As recently as last week, it was reported that a third bolt had fractured on the building. British Land, a developer of the building, said in a statement that the broken piece was "captured by precautionary tethering put in place last year." That's good. After some tests, it was concluded that "bolts had fractured due to a material failure mechanism called Hydrogen Embrittlement." Many bolts are now being replaced, but the developer insists there is, "no adverse effect on the structural integrity of the building." Now, let's head back stateside to Chicago. Do you remember that time the glass coating on the Willis Tower's observation deck cracked? If you were the tourists standing on the SOM-designed attraction 1,353 feet above the city you probably do. Sure, while everyone was fine and nothing was structurally wrong, just imagine being the people up there when that happened—just imagine that. Of course this list of high-profile architects would find its way to Frank Gehry. A while back the most famous architect of them all was sued by MIT for supposed flaws in his $300 million Stata Center. While pieces of the building didn't fall off, it was said to have leaks, cracks, and drainage problems. “These things are complicated,” Gehry told the New York Times after the suit was filed, “and they involved a lot of people, and you never quite know where they went wrong. A building goes together with seven billion pieces of connective tissue. The chances of it getting done ever without something colliding or some misstep are small.” And now let's end this list where we started it, with Zaha Hadid. Just a year after her dramatic Guangzhou Opera House opened in China, it began showing problems—lots of problems. In 2011, the Guardian reported that "large cracks have appeared in the walls and ceilings, glass panels have fallen from [Opera House] windows, and rain has seeped relentlessly into the building." In fairness to Zaha, the Wall Street Journal noted that when it comes to construction practices in China, architects have little say.
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James Carpenter on Light and the Building Envelope

In architecture—and especially in warm, sunny locales like Southern California—light is a double-edged sword. Successful daylighting reduces dependence on artificial lighting and enhances occupants' connection to the outdoors. But the solar gain associated with unregulated natural light can easily negate the energy savings effected by replacing electric lights with sunshine. As leaders in the field of high-performance building envelope design, James Carpenter and Joseph Welker, of James Carpenter Design Associates (JCDA), are no strangers to the benefit-cost balance of designing for light. Carpenter and Welker will draw on their firm's extensive portfolio of both civic and commercial projects for "Light in the Public Realm," the morning keynote address at next month's Facades+ LA conference. "We'll talk about the approach we have to light—how you use light for the occupant, and for the public realm," said Carpenter. "It obviously has technical components, like cable walls and curtain walls. But the thread might be less about a purely performative agenda and more on performance and aesthetics together." JCDA's notable facades include two joint projects with SOM, 7 World Trade Center and the Time Warner Center atrium, both in New York. For 7 World Trade Center, the firm was tasked with integrating the glass tower and concrete podium. By floating vision glass in front of a stainless steel spandrel panel, the architects encouraged the play of light on the tower facade, creating an ever-shifting dynamic that blurs the line between building and sky. In the case of Time Warner Center, JCDA designed the largest cable-net wall ever constructed, and achieved the remarkable feat of hanging two cable-net walls from a single truss. To hear more from James Carpenter and Joseph Welker on JCDA's approach to light and the building envelope, register today for Facades+ LA. More information, including a complete schedule of speakers and workshops, is available online.
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These four Urban Design projects made the cut for the 2015 AIA Institute Honor Awards

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced the 2015 recipients of its Institute Honor Awards, which it describes as “the profession’s highest recognition of works that exemplify excellence in architecture, interior architecture and urban design.” This year’s 23 recipients were selected from out of about 500 submissions and will be honored at the AIA’s upcoming National Convention and Design Exposition in Atlanta. Here are the winners in the urban design category. Beijing Tianqiao (Sky Bridge) Performing Arts District Master Plan; Beijing, China Skidmore, Owings & Merrill According to the AIA:
Old Tianqiao was once a bustling hub of cultural activities and folk arts traditions ranging from storytelling, variety shows, acrobatics, and operas. The project intends to reestablish the cultural heart of the capital with a collection of modern and traditional performance venues that respect the city’s sensitive, World Heritage context. An integrated design process across many disciplines laid out a series of environmental goals, including reintroducing the historic farm fabric, developing a storm water filtration system, reducing waste by using existing materials, and reducing automobile dependence and carbon footprint by creating walkable neighborhoods around three new subway stations.
The BIG U; New York City Bjarke Ingels Group According to the AIA:
The BIG U is a 10-mile protective ribbon around lower Manhattan that addresses vulnerabilities exposed by Superstorm Sandy (2012). The BIG U consists of three components: BIG Bench, Battery Berm, and Bridging Berm. BIG Bench is a continuous protective element adapted to the local context that mediates new and existing infrastructure. The Battery Berm weaves an elevated path through the park, enhancing the public realm while protecting the Financial District and critical transportation infrastructure. This signature building features a “reverse aquarium” that enables visitors to observe tidal variations and sea level rise. The Bridging Berm rises 14 feet by the highways, connecting the coast and communities with greenways.
Government Center Garage Redevelopment; Boston CBT Architects According to the AIA:
The redevelopment of the Government Center Garage project is an example of undoing the ills of the 1960's urban renewal in Boston that critically separated six thriving neighborhoods. The plan unlocks neighborhood connections, reopens urban vistas, and creates engaging public spaces by strategically removing a portion of the garage while preserving the remaining structure through creative phasing to provide for a sustainable and economically feasible redevelopment. The project introduces 3 million square-feet of housing dominant mixed-use program to downtown, creating a dynamic 24-hour neighborhood as a model for sustainable, transit-oriented development. The project also sets up a new position for urban design in Boston by shaping the urban form to respond to acute desire lines of a pre-grid city and promoting slender building typologies.
Target Field Station; Minneapolis EE&K a Perkins Eastman company According to the AIA:
Target Field Station, which opened in May 2014, is a distinct transit station located in the heart of Minneapolis’ revitalized North Loop neighborhood. By combining sustainable design, open public space, and private development, all linked seamlessly with varying modes of transit, Target Field Station sets the bar for how modern cities leverage transit design to create iconic cultural centers.