Posts tagged with "Seattle":

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Firm News> Miller Hull Opens Office in San Diego

Seattle architecture firm Miller Hull, a  past winner of the AIA national Firm Award, may be best-known for their work in the Pacific Northwest, but they've also been active in San Diego for the last seven years. Now the firm is finally opening an office in the city, giving them a physical presence and simplifying things for their architects and for clients. They'll start out with five people in the office, including design partner Craig Curtis and managing partner Norman Strong, who will split their time between San Diego and Seattle. Miller Hull's projects underway in the city include the renovation of the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry, which is the busiest border crossing in the world; and the UC San Diego Structural and Nano Materials Engineering Building. They've also completed the mixed-use Wharf at Point Loma Marina and the Pier 32 Marina.
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7 Cities Consider Removing Major Urban Highways

In a shift from America’s traditional 20th century landscape, more and more cities are now considering removing major highways in favor of housing, parks and economic development. The chief motivation seems to be money, according to a recent NPR report highlighting the growing movement and the removal of Cleveland’s West Shoreway. As highways age, keeping them around doesn’t justify the high cost of maintenance. But tearing these highways down also means new opportunities for developing valuable real estate and rehabilitating blighted land. The federal government awarded $16 million to replace a New Haven highway with pedestrian boulevards last fall, and other TIGER II funds to explore highway removal in the Bronx and New Orleans have also been issued. New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. remarked, "We think this is a big f---ing deal." Decades after urban renewal programs first put up highways, most city planners now realize that highways drain vitality from healthy neighborhoods and lower property values. San Francisco’s Embarcadero Freeway and Central Freeway are two poster children for how highway removal can rejuvenate neighborhoods. The collapse of the Miller Highway in New York also made way for what’s now West Street and Hudson River Park.
BALTIMORE: Demolition of Baltimore’s infamous "Highway to Nowhere," a one mile stretch that ends in a grassy slope, began last fall. In 1974, construction sliced through a vibrant working class area of west Baltimore, demolishing 700 homes and displacing 2,000 residents, mostly African American. The area is now characterized by vacant homes and high poverty rates. President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act awarded $2.8 million for the highway’s removal, which will make room for transit-oriented development.

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CLEVELAND: The only way to get from downtown Cleveland to the waterfront is through poorly lit tunnels underneath the West Shoreway freeway. NPR recently highlighted the city's plan to convert the highway into an urban boulevard, in line with efforts to develop the waterfront, but opposition from suburban commuters forced the city to scale back the project. The original proposal would have added crosswalks to the road, parks, offices and housing, while the actual project will just focus on rebuilding the pedestrian tunnels.

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NEW ORLEANS: Decades before Hurricane Katrina and getting its own HBO series, Treme was one of the wealthiest African American communities in New Orleans, and Claiborne Avenue was its teeming commercial center. The construction of the Claiborne Expressway in the 1950s changed all that, displacing families and over 100 businesses. City planners are currently debating removing the highway as part of post-Katrina rebuilding. The plan would reclaim 35-40 city blocks from urban blight and 20-25 blocks of open space.

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SEATTLE: A battle is raging in Seattle over the demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The highway's coming down after sustaining damage in a 2001 earthquake, but the $4.2 billion tunnel slated to replace it by 2016 remains a political hot potato. The project is entangled in lawsuits, with critics seeking to vote on the project. Mayor McGinn came out against the Seattle’s political establishment in support of a street level replacement. He’s also pushing for removal of the Viaduct next year, citing the damage it would cause in an earthquake.

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NEW HAVEN: The city recently received a $16 million TIGER II grant to convert part of Route 34 into an urban boulevard. Residents envision a re-do with narrow car lanes, wide sidewalks and a bike lane. The plan will add 960 permanent jobs and reclaim 11 acres of land that can be developed and taxed. It will finally unite the city's central business district with the rest of New Haven, ending the highway's stifling effect on economic development. Built in 1959, the highway displaced 600 families and 65 businesses and was never completed.

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BUFFALO: After several multi-million dollar projects failed to slow Buffalo's decline, planners set their sights on removing two of the city's major highways. The Skyway and Route 5 make commutes more difficult, cost millions in annual maintenance and block waterfront development. The state Department of Transportation decided to keep the elevated roadways in 2008, even though local officials and residents wanted a street level boulevard. A coalition of citizens and civic organizations appealed the decision in 2008, and continue to advocate demolition.

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LOUISVILLE: In the opening scenes of Elizabethtown, Kirsten Dunst maps out Interstate 64 in Louisville for Orlando Bloom because "the roads around there are hopelessly and gloriously confusing." He gets lost anyway, banging his hands against his steering wheel and yelling "60B!" The Ohio River Bridges Project, a $4.2 billion plan to expand the highway to 23 lanes of traffic at its widest point, would make things even more challenging. In 2005, two Louisville businessmen launched a grassroots campaign to remove the highway and develop the waterfront with a pedestrian-friendly boulevard. But it looks like the project's continuing with wider elevated lanes of traffic with some cost cut adjustments made in recent days.

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House Proud: AIA-HUD Awards for Excellence

Four housing projects were spotlighted today by the American Institute of Architects' Housing & Custom Residential Knowledge Community and the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development as laudable examples of affordable housing architecture, neighborhood design, participatory design, and accessibility. Category 1: Excellence in Affordable Housing Design Paseo Senter at Coyote Creek, San Jose, Calif. David Baker + Partners, Architects A new urban district, this affordable neighborhood fronts a newly created main walking street, or Paseo, that connects the arterial roadway to the area’s adjacent park. At its midpoint, the Paseo widens into a public plaza that holds the main entries to the two residential districts. The bold color palette has proved extremely popular with residents and the community, who consider the project a signature addition to the neighborhood. The property is 100% handicapped- and wheelchair-accessible, and the pool features an automatic lift. Category 2: Creating Community Connection Award Arbor Lofts, Lancaster, Calif. (Pictured at top) PSL Architects This 21-unit affordable housing development for artists is the first urban infill project to be completed since the city implemented its new Downtown Specific Plan to transform this mostly vacant city area into a place of historic, cultural, social, economic and civic vitality. The design incorporates many sustainable design methods; among these, the use of high efficiency mechanical systems qualifies the design to exceed California Title 24 Energy Code requirements by 20% and the lighting system exceeds the requirements by 24% which significantly reduces the use of energy. Category 3: Community-Informed Design Award Congo Street Green Initiative, Dallas building community WORKSHOP A tight-knit community consisting of 17 single-family and duplex houses, all built before 1910, recognized the need for re-development, but also did not want to relocate. Through a series of conversations with the residents, a plan was developed to restore and/or reconstruct six owner-occupied homes. The idea is centered around the concept of creating a temporary home, or “holding house,” to house the family whose home was currently under renovation. To date, three resident’s homes have been completed and the fourth is under construction. Category 4: Housing Accessibility—Alan J. Rothman Award Madrona Live / Work, Seattle Tyler Engle Architects PS A converted storefront built in the early 1900’s for a client with an extensive art collection required a flexible and multi-functional space that provides wheelchair accessibility while not making that the primary focus of the design. Entering from the sidewalk, the main living space has a single level polished concrete slab for unrestricted wheelchair access. A floating concrete countertop that steps from low to high accommodates disparate height requirements of the clients and exemplifies how the design provides an elegant solution on a tight construction budget. The jury for the 2010 AIA/HUD Secretary Awards includes: Jury chair, Andrew V. Porth, AIA, Porth Architects, Inc.; Natalye Appel, FAIA, Natalye Appel + Associates Architects; Geoffrey Goldberg, AIA, G. Goldberg and Associates; Grace Kim, AIA, Schemata Workshop; Jane Kolleeny, Architectural Record and GreenSource; Luis F. Borray, Assoc. AIA, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development and Regina C. Gray, PhD, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development.
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Freeway Parks Are Everywhere

According to a story in Governing Magazine, while LA is only dreaming of building its freeway cap parks, several US cities are either planning or have completed their own. Dallas' 5.2-acre park over its Woodall Rodgers Freeway downtown will be done by 2012. Other cities that have completed decked freeway parks include Boston (the Big Dig of course!), Phoenix, Seattle, Trenton, N.J., and Duluth, Minnesota. And besides LA Cincinnati and St. Louis are also proposing deck parks. While quite expensive, the article points out, the parks help knit cities back together, provide valuable civic space, are built on free land, and send adjacent property values skyrocketing. In short: Let's Do This People!! Pix of more parks can be seen here:
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OSKA Now OK After Name Chop

Long-named Seattle firm Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects (OSKA) announced this week that it will be changing its name to Olson Kundig Architects, effective January 1. The OSKA name has been active since 2000, but with Scott Allen leaving the firm to create an independent design studio, and Kirsten Murray and Alan Maskin becoming partners in 2008, it was apparent that they should reflect the changing tides of leadership. The firm is now led by the five owners; Jim Olson, Tom Kundig, Rick Sundberg, Kirsten Murray and Alan Maskin. Winners of the 2009 AIA Architecture Firm Award (the most recent time we made fun of the firm's name), the 75 person office is known for dwellings and urban projects that merge modern design with natural sensibility. From Rolling Huts in Mazama, Washington, to interior explorations revealing raw qualities of light and material like the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle. Jim Olson founded the firm in 1960, with a focus on residential architecture and its relationship to site. Sundberg became partner in 1975, expanding the firm’s interest into urban projects. In 1998, Kundig, recognized for his modern dwellings that integrate industrial details, was added as partner. And now— finally—we can say their name all in one breath.