Posts tagged with "Snohetta":

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Snøhetta unveils subdued French Laundry expansion

Snøhetta, celebrity chef Thomas Keller, and architecture firm Envelope A+D have completed work on a 4,430-square-foot renovation and expansion of the famed French Laundry restaurant in Yountville, California. The understated overhaul delivers a new kitchen annex that boosts the restaurant’s support functions by providing new butchery, produce breakdown, and wine storage spaces. The new expanded configuration will help Keller and his team “innovate their craft and service,” according to a press release. The new pitched-roof kitchen annex is tucked behind the existing restaurant cottage and is designed specifically to harken to utilitarian agrarian structures that dot Napa Valley. The gabled building is wrapped in charred wood siding along one side, with the facades facing a new interior terrace wrapped in black curtain wall glass. For these walls, the architects created a special curve-based frit pattern that is inspired by the ways in which members of the kitchen staff move while they work. This pattern is laid out along the lower sections of each of these facades, with transparent and opaque sections located above. The rustic-but-sleek annex is designed with no overhangs and a roof that meets flush with its supporting wall. The structure is sited so that it is among the first things patrons see as they enter the restaurant grounds, which have been reworked into a series of discrete courtyards in the scheme. The design team created a rusticated basalt stone wall marked with dramatic entry thresholds to wrap these newly-programmed garden spaces. Inside the renovated 2,000-square-foot kitchen, Snøhetta has installed a new wood-burning oven and rotisserie, while also expanding and rearranging the interior architecture of existing kitchen areas to include a greater amount of working space. The sun-lit kitchen is topped by two vaulted skylights that curve upward to meet the ceiling. The kitchen’s new bell-shaped ceiling conceals kitchen gadgetry and also enhances kitchen acoustics, according to the press release. Snøhetta also designed a pair of concave stainless steel work tables for the project that are located within the kitchen pass and are designed to allow people working at the table to stay out of the path of travel into and out of the kitchen. The renovated restaurant is open to the public, but if you want to see these new spaces yourself, it will have to wait—The restaurant is currently fully-booked through the end of May 2018.
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Snøhetta reveals an “energy-positive” hotel that rises from an arctic fjord

After tackling an underwater restaurant in the south of Norway late last year, Snøhetta has unveiled plans for a “floating” hotel in the country’s north. “Svart,” named after the adjacent Svartisen glacier, will produce more energy than it consumes thanks to the Arctic Circle’s 24 hours of sunlight during the summer months. Reminiscent of the space-aged Apple Park doughnut, the ring-shaped Svart will rise from the waters of the Holandsfjorden fjord via crisscrossed timber columns and would provide guests with panoramic views of the lake and surrounding Almlifjellet mountain range. A round, wooden boardwalk will be suspended between the support struts and guests can stroll above the lake in the summer months; the path will be used for canoe storage in the winter, negating the need for an additional boathouse. The circular construction references Norwegian vernacular architecture, and draws inspiration from both the “fiskehjell” (a wooden, A-shaped structure for drying fish) and the “rorbue” (a type of traditional seasonal house used by fishermen), as fishing poles informed the wooden support design. Wood panels will also be used to clad the hotel’s exterior. As part of preserving the fragile natural landscape around the hotel, Svart will generate all of its electricity on site. Meeting Powerhouse standards (a collaboration meant to stoke energy positive building construction) will be accomplished both through design as well as technology. The hotel’s circular edge is rimmed with private terraces, which will set the building’s façade back and shade against solar insolation in the summertime, while the floor-to-ceiling windows will let sunlight passively heat the interior in the winter. The roof will be clad in locally produced solar panels, made with clean hydroelectric power, and the building will be constructed from materials with a “low embodied energy,” such as wood, meaning that a minimum amount of energy went into producing them. In designing the shape of the building’s roof, Snøhetta optimized the panels’ orientation to best take advantage of the “midnight sun” effect, where the sun never sets during the summer months in the Arctic Circle. Geothermal wells connected to heat pumps will warm the building in the colder months. Altogether Snøhetta estimates that Svart will use up to 85 percent less energy than a hotel of comparable size. “Building an energy positive and low-impact hotel is an essential factor to create a sustainable tourist destination respecting the unique features of the plot; the rare plant species, the clean waters and the blue ice of the Svartisen glacier,” said Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, Founding Partner at Snøhetta, in a press release. Svart is being developed in collaboration with tourism company Arctic Adventure of Norway, consulting firm Asplan Viak, and Skanska. Together the four companies make up Powerhouse, a group dedicated to advancing the construction of “plus houses,” buildings that produce more energy than they consume over a 60-year period, including the usage of building and demolishing the structure. No estimated completion date has been given at the time of writing.
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What is going on with the AT&T Building lobby?

Last month The Architect's Newspaper (AN) reported that the AT&T Building's lobby was demolished. Now, though, preservationists believe the lobby at 550 Madison Avenue is more intact than previously thought. Permits for the lobby demolition were issued in December, and in January, developer Chelsfield and investment group Olayan America, the team behind the postmodern tower's redesign, confirmed the interior had been sledgehammered. Acting on that information, Manhattan Community Board 5's (CB5) Landmarks Committee voted on a draft resolution last month that condemned the development team's decision to demolish the lobby in the middle of talks with the board and preservation groups like the Municipal Art Society (MAS) and Docomomo US, among others. Although the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) excluded the lobby of the Philip Johnson and John Burgee–designed tower from landmark consideration last November, 20th century preservation experts consider the interior and exterior of the building to be one cohesive space, even after early 1990s renovations enclosed the lobby and surrounding arcades. Earlier this month, however, preservation activist Thomas Collins said he walked by the building and saw most of the lobby was still intact. Most of the granite walls, the oculus, and the ceiling appear to be there. At the top of the arch, the north wall was still visible, but when Collins walked by the building today, the lobby was scaffolded up to the oculus level. It appears the main plan is to rotate the elevators a quarter-turn, opening up a sightline from Madison Avenue into a garden that will replace an annex and the enclosed arcade between 55th and 56th streets. In Collins's estimation, the programmatic requirements of the proposed work do not necessitate cosmetic changes outlined in the demolition permits. He believes the elevators could be rotated while "[retaining] 80 to 90 percent of the historic fabric.” When prompted for an accurate and detailed description of the work performed, a spokesperson for the developer issued the following statement, which was attributed to Chelsfield Managing Director David Laurie:

"We are six weeks into an approximately eight-week demolition process, consistent with LPC-approved permits issued in December. The entire space is beyond restoration with the majority of the lobby’s features now removed. This renovation work is in accordance with our plans to revitalize 550 Madison, making it viable for multi-tenant occupancy."

Through the spokesperson, Laurie declined to elaborate on repeated requests to give details on whether the floors, fixtures, and interior partitions had been demolished per the permits for the $100,000 project that were issued in December. Architect Scott Spector, principal of Spector Group Architects, is signing permits for this phase of the lobby project. Given the developer's reluctance to share details on the state of the lobby, the community board is trying to determine the exact scope and scale of the demolition-in-progress. "Until we know it is not correct, we cannot take any information as fact until [the board] can verify it," CB5 Landmarks Committee Chair Layla Law-Gisiko said. "If we were to find out that it was a misrepresentation, it would be very disappointing and worrying. We're always trying to work in good faith with all the stakeholders." She added that the board knows the building must be altered to prepare it for multi-tenant occupancy, but that the alterations must be contextual. "Putting Philip Johnson's architecture in the dumpster? No," she said. At the full CB5 board meeting last week, members approved a resolution in support of landmarking, and encouraged the LPC to review the lobby as-is for potential interior landmark designation. The resolution also recommended reverting the public spaces Sony (the primary tenant after AT&T) had converted to retail in 1993 back to public use. Although community board decisions are non-binding, the LPC takes them into account in its deliberations. In addition to CB5's voice, five local politicians signed a letter to Laurie urging the development team to "engage in a good-faith dialogue" with preservationists and others to make sure the renovations honor Johnson and Burgee's original design intent. The undersigned—two state senators, two assembly members, and new City Council District 4 rep Keith Powers—said they understood the lobby wasn't up for landmark consideration, but encouraged Chelsfield and Olayan America to treat the space sensitively nonetheless. This latest controversy is an aftershock from the October reveal of Snøhetta's renovations, which sought to replace 550 Madison's imposing pink granite facade with an undulating glass curtain wall that would expose the 37-story tower's steel framework. The $300 million redo was met with an avalanche of criticism, with some architects and pomo enthusiasts taking to the streets to protest the planned changes. Collins took the lead on the landmarks nomination, preparing the LPC paperwork for the building's nomination. These are the first major changes to 550 Madison, as the building is now officially known, since Olayan America acquired the property for $1.4 billion in May 2016. Since last February, records show the owners have paid two lobbying firms over a quarter-million dollars to attempt to influence the Manhattan Borough President, the Department of City Planning, and various council members—not an unusual move for a development of this caliber. This year, the group has retained the lobbyists at Kasirer to speak with the Manhattan Borough President, the Department of Buildings, community boards, and the LPC, among other entities. Records show the group, working as OAC 550 Owner LLC, has spent no money so far in 2o18 on these efforts, however. An AN reporter went to eyeball the lobby on February 2, looking for possible changes. Whereas it was previously possible to see into the space through cracks in the butcher paper, workers have taped the cover-ups to the glass so thoroughly that none of the lobby is visible from the street. For his part, Collins believes the permits are for preemptive demolition. "They don't have a plan for the interior; they just want to mess up enough of the interior so the LPC won't touch it," he said. This story has been updated to clarify the scope and impact of the interior renovation.
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It’s official: The AT&T Building lobby is gone

Last night Manhattan Community Board 5's (CB5) Landmarks Committee unanimously approved a resolution in support of protecting the AT&T Building, Philip Johnson and John Burgee's 1984 postmodern tower on Madison Avenue. Although the objective was primarily to discuss building's historic merit and landmark eligibility, the committee's wide-ranging conversation returned repeatedly to the owner's decision to sledgehammer the building's lobby in the midst of talks with preservation groups, CB5, and other stakeholders. Much of the lobby talk focused on what constitutes interior or exterior space in a young-ish building whose public areas were cocooned by a major renovation less than a decade after it opened. In 1993, Sony Corporation, the building's new tenant, tapped Gwathmey Siegel (now Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman) to glass in a rear arcade as well as the loggias on either side of the Madison Avenue entrance, a move that created retail from previously open, public space. Although the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has already said it will not landmark the formerly exterior, now interior spaces, this didn't stop the Landmarks Committee from expressing its disappointment towards the agency's decision to okay demolition permits. The committee, seated before reporters and a half-dozen members of the public, heard remarks from the project team first. David Laurie, managing director for developer Chelsfield America, read a statement to the board on behalf of his company and Olayan America, the owner of the building and Chelsfield's partner in the redevelopment. "We have taken our role as stewards very seriously," he said. Their goal was to adapt the building, erected as the headquarters for AT&T only, into multi-occupant Class A office space for future tenants of 550 Madison, as the building is now officially known. On the ground floors, he said, renovations will "finally deliver on the building's promise for public space." Laurie explained his team has commissioned a public garden that will be "marginally larger" than the sculpture garden at MoMA, which is 21,400 square feet. Floorplans on 550 Madison's site give an idea of how the new spaces will flow together. The lobby, at center, remains in a similar configuration, as does the existing retail on either side. Behind that, plans show that the garden will replace an adjoining annex and the enclosed arcade between 55th and 56th streets. Despite these renovations, the lobby is—or rather, was—one of the best-preserved public postmodern interiors in New York. CB5 Landmarks Committee Chair Layla Law-Gisiko confirmed that, per permits the LPC signed off on in December, the lobby has been demolished. The Architect's Newspaper (AN) reached out to Chelsfield America for comment on its decision to alter the lobby but had not heard back at press time. On February 1, a representative for the developer confirmed the work described in the permit—the removal of interior partitions, ceilings, elevators, and finishes—has been completed. The representative could say whether the patterned marble floor remained intact. The ground floor plans are part of Snøhetta-led renovation of the building that was unveiled in October 2017 and immediately condemned by leading architects as context-clueless and disfiguring. Among other changes, the Oslo- and New York-based firm proposed a striking exterior alteration of the structure's monumental Madison Avenue facade that would have swapped the rosy Stony Creek granite, a contextual reference to the city's classic Beaux-Arts skyscrapers, for an undulating glass curtain wall. The outcry over the design prompted preservationist Thomas Collins to initiate the building's landmarking, which usually (though not always) stops the clock on major renovations. The LPC subsequently added the structure to its calendar for landmark consideration last November. Over objections from Collins and others, however, the LPC is only considering 550 Madison's facade and public spaces, not the lobby, for landmarking. Four members of the public spoke in support of landmarking. These included Collins, a representative of civic group the Municipal Art Society, and Liz Waytkus, the executive director of modern architecture preservation group Docomomo US. "The historic nature of AT&T is one whole design," Waytkus said. She decried what she characterized as "backroom lobbying" that led to the LPC's approval of lobby demolition permits. Others praised the building's completeness and its singular place in 20th-century architecture. "Beyond its 'period room' appeal, the AT&T lobby is a uniquely attractive space with exceptional materials and attention to detail," Collins said. "It has aged well and offers valuable lessons to a younger generation of designers bored with the antiseptic minimalism currently in vogue." Landmarks Committee Vice Chair Renee Cafaro largely agreed, calling the recommendation to landmark the (formerly) granite-walled, black-and-white marble-floored lobby "imperative." "The intent of the interior, historically, was to be the exterior—to be exposed to the elements was holistically part of the building. Even if some of the grandeur is gone, presumably the original height of the space is still there," she said. "All they really did here was throw some glass in the main archways." After some back-and-forth on the interior-exterior question, the committee drafted and approved a resolution that recommended the designation of the exterior and expressed disappointment at the LPC's approval of the lobby demo permits, saying the agency's move sets an "unfortunate precedent." The full board will vote on the Landmarks Committee's resolution at its meeting this Thursday. Although community board resolutions do not carry the weight of law, the LPC takes their decisions into account during its own deliberations. This post has been updated with new information about the state of the lobby. 
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Exclusive: Demolition begins on AT&T Building lobby

Though it's up for landmarking, parts of the AT&T Building are being torn down this minute. The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has approved demolition of the lobby at Philip Johnson and John Burgee's postmodern tower at 550 Madison Avenue. Though the 1984 tower is up for landmark consideration, the designation would only protect the facade, not the interior. Department of Buildings (DOB) records show demo plans received LPC staff approval on December 15 and permits were issued that same day. The move to sledgehammer the soaring granite-clad entrance comes even as project partners publicly support landmarking. David Laurie, Managing Director at Chelsfield America, issued a statement in support of 550 Madison's landmarking shortly after the LPC calendared the property. At that hearing, LPC commissioners debated whether to calendar the interior, too, but ultimately decided against it, as the commissioners claimed that renovations throughout the years—most notably Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman's 1993 revamp—had diminished the lobby and the atrium's integrity. A letter from the LPC to preservation advocate Thomas Collins explains the department's reasoning on the lobby. "In our evaluation the lobby does not hold the same level of broad significance," said LPC Director of Research Kate Lemos McHale. "[With] the removal of 'Golden Boy' as a focal point, alterations within the lobby itself, and its diminished relationship to the overall design of the base, we have determined that it does not rise to the level of an interior landmark." McHale's letter also stated that compared to the building's genre-defining top and base, the interiors received less attention from critics and the media, and the attention they did receive was often tepid at best. In reply, Collins, who filed the initial paperwork to landmark the AT&T Building, noted that the statue, Evelyn Beatrice Longman's Spirit of Communication, used to top AT&T's old headquarters before it was moved to the 550 Madison lobby. Even the best interiors, he explained, generally score less ink than easier-to-see exteriors. Collins also pointed out that other, older designated interiors were much altered from their original state—the Empire State Building's lobby, for example, was landmarked with a drop ceiling. On a walk by the building about a week ago, Collins saw workers had papered over the lobby and erected scaffolding inside. "It's not clear why they're rushing forward at this stage. I believe they are primarily gutting the lobby for aesthetic and marketing purposes," he said. The move to landmark the 37-story Midtown Manhattan tower (now known as the Sony Building) responds to a Snøhetta-designed plan to replace parts of the now-vacant building's monumental granite facade with a curving glass curtain wall—the Madison Avenue–facing facade was deemed "uninviting" in a press release. Among other changes, the New York– and Oslo-based firm's plan would reveal the tower's steel structure, and double the size of the public space around the building. Olayan America, the investment division of multinational The Olayan Group, and developer Chelsfield are behind the $300 million redesign. A representative for the development team promised a statement on the lobby work close to deadline (see update, below). Here's what the 550 Madison team had to say about the lobby demolition:

"All work being performed is in accordance with appropriate permits and approvals, and is being reviewed by the NYC Landmark Preservation Commission, which is not considering the interiors as part of the designation process. We support the designation of the building and are currently preparing a carefully revised design that respects 550 Madison’s importance, and we look forward to continued discussions with interested parties, including the LPC, to make that happen. We are committed to creating a rejuvenated 550 Madison that retains its important presence, works for modern office tenants, and dramatically improves public spaces and amenities available to the larger East Midtown community."

Unsurprisingly, the surprise demolition didn't please preservationists. "The LPC made this decision behind closed doors—they knew they were going to rip out the interior," said Liz Waytkus, executive director of Docomomo US. "I feel like it's a bait-and-switch." This would not be the first substantial change to the structure. In 1993, electronics giant Sony commissioned Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman to convert the loggias on either side of the main entrance into retail, and enclose the open arcade at the building's rear. Johnson served as a consultant on the project. The 550 Madison team promised extensive community outreach on the project, but aside from the Landmarks hearing, no public community meetings have been scheduled so far. When prompted, a spokesperson for the developers did not volunteer specifics on the forthcoming community outreach efforts.
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Snøhetta’s Norwegian campus building features seawater-durable aluminum panels

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Snøhetta’s design for the Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design (KMD) consolidates six previously scattered academic buildings into one multi-use cross-disciplinary building. The cultural landmark offers new public space and symbolic connectivity between the university and its Norwegian town. The architects sought to produce a facility that offered an “ideal and malleable space for artistic expression." They utilized robust, durable materials to withstand harsh workshop-like interior environments and a climate that is notoriously rainy. “The objective is to free students and staff from limitations by surfaces and materials,” said Snøhetta in a recent press release.
  • Facade Manufacturer Metha (aluminum); Schuco (glazing)
  • Architects Snøhetta
  • Facade Installer Bolseth Glass
  • Facade Consultants Rambøll (structural engineering); Bolseth Glass (facade consultant)
  • Location Bergen, Norway
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System Rainscreen wall assembly composed of approximately aluminum-clad 10-inch Rockwool sandwich panel, and 2-inch drywall cavity on interior side for electric infrastructure
  • Products Schuco glazing system delivered by Bolseth Glass; custom aluminum panels by Metha
KMD pairs two axes: an internal corridor dedicated to students and staff, and an external corridor open to the public. The two spaces intersect each other, forming what the architects call one of the most prominent features of the building: a 14,000-square-foot project hall. “It is here, in the transition zone between the public and the private sphere of the school, that the building offers exciting opportunities for students, professors, and visitors to connect, discover, and learn from one another.”  The building’s entrance is connected to a large outdoor public plaza, which together with the large glass wall of the project hall, makes KMD an inviting and open building in dialogue with the city center of Bergen. The building envelope features over 900 panels of pre-fabricated raw aluminum panels, specifically designed in variable dimensions and depths to produce a dynamic composition. The panels feature a custom patterning developed by Snøhetta and custom-made by local manufacturer Metha, based in the city of Røros just south of Trondheim.
The aluminum-folded rainscreen cladding panels offset approximately four, six, and eight inches from the insulation line. Each set folds at the same angle, creating variations in the sizing of the shadow gap between the cassettes. By varying the depth of the facade, the building offers unexpected shadows cast by dynamic atmospheric conditions along Norway’s west coast. The architects say durability and robustness were “keywords” that helped guide all decisions made throughout the facade design process. “The rainy and sometimes stormy coastal climate demands all exterior materials to not only withstand harsh conditions but to weather in a way that highlights their unique qualities over time. The crude aluminum surfaces will gradually age and naturally oxidize, heightening the variations in colors and textures.” This robust and playful expression gives great flexibility when planning for windows and lighting conditions. The windows of the building are set at different heights, slipping into Snøhetta’s intentionally varied compositional scheme. This seemingly haphazard positioning allows for opportunistic interior moments where usable wall space and daylighting considerations can be maximized based on programmatic necessities. Large delicately-detailed cantilevered glass volumes, the result of a successful collaboration with Bolseth Glass, interrupt the syncopation of aluminum at key moments in the building layout. Furthermore, a large glass roof aids in the distribution of daylight into the building. The building is currently in its inaugural academic year, having opened this past October 2017.
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El Paso Children’s Museum reveals finalist designs, now up for a public vote

Renderings for the final three designs for the new El Paso Children’s Museum have been revealed, and residents of El Paso, Texas, can vote on their favorite until Friday, December 15th. All of the options, which include designs by Santa Monica-based Koning Eizenberg Architecture, Oslo-based Snøhetta, and Mexico-city based TEN Arquitectos, are designed around a master plan with specific installation requirements. The $30 million Children’s Museum, officially named Spark, is the result of a $473.2 million “Quality of Life” bond program that began in 2012. Because Spark is meant to educate people of all ages, the master plan by Gyroscope Inc., a museum design firm, have included nine themed interactive zones, maker spaces, art studios, classrooms and rotating exhibition space. Those themed zones include everything from a climbing-centric room that draws inspiration from the nearby Franklin Mountains, to a rooftop water engineering center in the shadow of a full-scale model airplane. Each of the competing studios chose to integrate these requirements differently. The proposal by Koning Eizenberg is relatively understated, wrapping a boxy glass form in a masonry sun-screen that references local architecture. A canopy of “sky canoes” seem to float over the act the building’s roof, trapping water and redirecting it to a learning garden on the ground floor, while the sunlight filtered through the façade is used to teach children about the movement of the sun. Overall, the firm wanted their design for the museum to integrate science into the building’s every function. Snøhetta’s proposal goes vertical, lifting the exhibition spaces off the ground and utilizing the space underneath for a series of interactive gardens. That verticality is repeated throughout Spark, with a set of floor-to-ceiling windows pointed towards the soaring Franklin Mountains, and the placement of a model jet at the museum’s “prow.” Visitors enter at the ground level and ascend into the stone-clad main body of the museum through an elevator inside of a central glass atrium, and are deposited onto a winding, spiral-shaped ramp. Their design also calls for a large number of interactive exhibits, including a seesaw linked through the internet to a counterpart at the Children’s Museum in Juárez; as one side goes up or down, the sibling seesaw moves accordingly. TEN Arquitectos’ design makes full use of the museum’s plot, turning Spark into a miniature campus with individual buildings all unified under a large scaffolding and solar panel roof. Each of the buildings would house a different program and look down on the public ground-level garden plaza. By allowing foot traffic to flow through the space unimpeded, and by hosting events at night in the plaza, TEN Arquitectos is hoping to better integrate the museum into the fabric of the surrounding city. The El Paso Community Foundation and other philanthropic groups involved with the museum expect to break ground in early 2018, and complete construction in the fall of 2020.
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Oakland A’s new stadium up in the air after community pushback

After news broke last month that the Oakland A’s had finally settled on a site for their new ballpark at Oakland’s Peralta Community College District, their plans have been derailed after the school decided to cancel negotiations with the team. With plans for the stadium, previously to have been designed by SasakiSnøhettaStudio T-Square, and HOK, now potentially derailed, it also remains to be seen if the A’s will remain in Oakland. Sasaki, Snøhetta, and Oakland-based Studio T-Square would have led master planning and urban design efforts, alongside building out a community engagement process. HOK and Snøhetta were to collaborate on the design of the new ballpark, and to make sure that it wouldn’t remain an “insular” experience. So-called “stadium districts” are becoming fairly common around the country, as team owners and designers have been seeking to jumpstart investment around areas that already experience a high amount of foot traffic. Though no renderings had been released, construction was expected to have finished by 2023. While the Peralta Community College site was chosen after a years-long search by the A’s, nothing had been finalized by their decision to put the new stadium there. Besides needing to finalize land negotiations with Peralta, the team had been facing ardent pushback from Chinatown locals worried about gentrification, from the Audubon society over the impact that development would have on bird migration patterns at the nearby Lake Merritt, and from politicians raising other concerns from their constituents. Compounding the problems the A’s were facing, much of the 15-acre site has been contaminated with an unknown amount of gasoline and other toxic substances and would have needed costly remediation. Although business leaders in Oakland had rallied in support of the investments the new stadium would generate, Peralta’s board of trustees chose to discontinue conversations with the A’s on Tuesday. “We are shocked by Peralta’s decision to not move forward,” the A’s said in a statement released this morning. “All we wanted to do was enter into a conversation about how to make this work for all of Oakland, Laney, and the Peralta Community College District. We are disappointed that we will not have that opportunity.” The A’s had already pledged to pay for development out of their own pockets, but this promise was dependent on revenue projections from a new ballpark, not the redevelopment of their existing Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. As the only remaining professional sports team in Oakland, the pressure was on for the A’s to choose a site in the city, but with their top pick off the table, the Athletics could be enticed to leave. As A’s President Dave Kaval recently told the San Francisco Chronicle, there was no “plan B” if Peralta didn’t work out.
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Philip Johnson’s AT&T Building clears first hurdle in landmarking process

Following a recommendation from research staff, New York City’s Landmarks and Preservation Commission (LPC) has unanimously voted to put Philip Johnson’s contentious AT&T Building on the path towards becoming a protected landmark. The calendaring approved today, the first formal step in the designation process, is a promising sign, although 550 Madison Avenue must now face a public hearing sometime in the next few months and further deliberations from the commission before a full vote. The landmarking initiative was given a jumpstart this month after Snøhetta unveiled their plans to strip the 110-foot tall granite archway at the base of the tower and re-clad it with an undulating glass façade. The reaction was swift, with architects and critics from around the world weighing in both for and against the redevelopment, and eventually a protest broke out in front of the building on November 3rd. Commissioners at the Monday meeting took their time after the presentation to deliberate on the unique factors that they would need to take into consideration before making a decision. If landmarked, Johnson’s tower, completed in 1984, would beat out the former Citicorp Building at 601 Lexington Avenue to become the youngest landmarked building in the city. Citing the AT&T Building’s size, prominent Midtown location, impact on the history of postmodernism, and Johnson’s legacy as the first winner of the Pritzker Prize, commissioners spoke of the building’s importance to the history of New York City. Mentioning the heavy media attention that the building has received lately, in addition to the looming renovation, the commissioners acknowledged that with the history of unauthorized changes and the proposed renovation, the tower is “in play” and that this was an opportunity they likely wouldn’t have another chance at. An interior landmarking of the building’s lobby was also discussed but was ultimately dismissed, as there had been too much deviation from Johnson’s original design. The tower’s original base had allocated open, publicly accessible arcades and a lobby designed specifically to house the “Golden Boy” statue for AT&T, all of which was scrapped when Sony began making changes in 1992. David Laurie, Managing Director at Chelsfield America, a development partner for the 550 Madison Avenue renovation, reached out to AN with the following statement. "We support the calendaring decision by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission to protect the special architectural aspects of 550 Madison Avenue, which we are as committed to as ever following our conversations with community stakeholders. "We are committed to creating a rejuvenated 550 Madison that retains its important presence, works for future tenants, and realizes long-promised public amenities to the larger Midtown community. And we look forward to further collaborating with the LPC to make that happen." With the AT&T Building now potentially on its way towards reaching protected status, it remains to be seen how much of developer Olayan America and Snøhetta’s current scheme will actually be implemented. AN will be following this story as it develops.
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Snøhetta reveals tapered residential tower for Manhattan’s Upper West Side

Snøhetta has released the first renderings for a split, tapering tower set to rise between Lincoln Center and Central Park in New York City. Snøhetta hopes that this reimagined tower-on-a-base scheme for 50 West 66th will simultaneously engage pedestrians at street level, while also paying homage to the surrounding neighborhood through the use of a familiar material palette. At 775-feet tall, the 127-unit residential building will stick out from the traditionally lower-slung neighborhood surrounding it, but Snøhetta has carved away bulk from the tower’s upper floors to minimize 50 West 66th’s effect on the skyline. Referencing Manhattan’s long history of natural stone construction, the studio has described the tower as being sculpturally excavated, and the 16th-floor amenity terrace prominently cleaves the building into two volumes. Even at that height, residents will be able to see across Central Park to the east, as well as across Hudson River to the west. A two-story textured limestone, bronze and glass retail podium will also contain an entrance for an adjacent synagogue on 65th street and create an approachable neighborhood access point. More windows are introduced to the limestone facade as the bulk of the building rises above the podium’s setback, and the slender tower portion is clad in a bronze and glass curtain wall.  Other than the planted, multi-story terrace that anchors 50 West 66th, the tower portion has had its corners sliced away to expose balconies at its opposing corners and create a series of cascading loggias. Triangular, bronze-panel-clad cutaways taper the tower’s corners and join at the tip to form an angular crown. The warm materials, cutaways and slim top all serve to soften the building’s presence in what has been a historically low-to-mid-rise area. The project’s reveal has come amidst a particularly busy month for Snøhetta. Besides being tapped for the Oakland A’s new stadium and an underwater restaurant, the Norwegian studio has also faced criticism for its proposed glassing over of Philip Johnson’s postmodern AT&T Building. Construction is expected to begin in the first half of 2018.
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Snøhetta and Sasaki among four firms tapped for the Oakland A’s new stadium

The Oakland Athletics have finally settled on a site for their new ballpark, and have hired Sasaki, Snøhetta, Studio T-Square, and HOK to not only design the stadium, but to also better integrate it into the surrounding urban fabric. Ending years of contentious debate over where to build, the A’s have chosen the lakeside Peralta Community College District in downtown Oakland, California. Sasaki, Snøhetta, and Oakland-based Studio T-Square will lead master planning, urban design efforts, and build a community engagement process. HOK and Snøhetta will collaborate on the design of the new ballpark and how it interacts with the master plan. No images have been released as of yet, but the team and design firms involved are hoping that the new stadium will catalyze investment along Lake Merritt without alienating the community. “Our goal is to create the best ballpark experience for our fans, players, and community. It is critical for our ballpark to truly integrate into the fabric of Oakland,” said Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval, in a press release. Craig Dykers, founding partner at Snøhetta, also stressed that the project wouldn’t be an insular experience. “With its new home closer to downtown Oakland, the project will re-invigorate the relationship between the A’s and the city as a new kind of ballpark that acts as a center for sport, wellness and culture,” he said. Even with the promised outreach, community groups have been opposed to the plan owing to fears of displacement, gentrification, and potential environmental damage to the sensitive estuaries nearby. Another potential wrench in the plan is the presence of hazardous materials in the soil that would need to be remediated. An unknown amount of gasoline and other toxic substances have seeped into the ground and water at the site over the years, and no one knows how much the clean up will cost. Still, the new stadium will be a step up for the Athletics, set to become the only major league sports team in Oakland after the Raiders leave in 2019. The A's current Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is a 51-year-old concrete eyesore that the team currently shares with the Raiders, and that regularly floods with sewage when the plumbing backs up. The team claims that the new stadium will be privately funded and put up to $3.05 billion into the local economy, and that construction should finish in 2023.
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What’s happening to the monumental murals at the AT&T building?

An already controversial plan by Saudi-backed developers Olayan America to renovate 550 Madison Avenue into a modern office building has hit another snag. Following on the heels of Snøhetta’s proposal to update the base of Philip Johnson’s postmodern skyscraper with a rolling glass facade, new questions have arisen over a pair of murals in the second floor lobby. Famed abstract artist Dorothea Rockburne, who came to prominence in the 1970s with her paintings inspired by minimalism and mathematical principles, is questioning what will happen to her site-specific installations commissioned in 1993 by former Sony executives. A pair of 30 by 30-foot murals slotted into viewing alcoves, “Northern Sky” and “Southern Sky” are contextual pieces designed specifically for what was once the Sony Building. The swooping spheres of red and yellow, overlaid with a pattern of shifting squiggles, are representative of the electromagnetic field in that part of the sky while also drawing on aspects of chaos theory. The Chetrit Group, 550 Madison’s former owners before selling the property in 2016, had been engaged with a game of cat-and-mouse with Rockburne for years over the fate of the murals. Only after Rockburne revealed their correspondences publicly did the Chetrit Group eventually promise to keep the murals in place and pay for their upkeep. With the building changing hands, the agreement evaporated. Prompted by the Snøhetta’s recent renderings, the issue has once again reared its head, but Rockburne seemed hopeful when asked about where the murals would ultimately end up. Rockburne said, “Michael Schulhof [former CEO of Sony America and the original commissioner of the work] has stayed in contact with the new owners of the building. They’re aware of the importance, and have planned to take care of them.” Rockburne is less certain about what the building’s new facade means for the interplay between the building itself and her work, and had strong feelings about the latest proposal. “I knew Phillip Johnson. I’ve had dinner with Phillip Johnson. This is like putting a glass curtain over a cathedral.”