Posts tagged with "Adaptive Reuse":

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OPEN Architecture transforms an abandoned Shanghai industrial site into a contemporary art park

Along with a vast number of cultural institutions around the globe, Tank Shanghai, a sprawling urban art environment situated along the Huangpu River in China’s most populous city, has been closed to the public and upped its virtual presence in the midst of the country’s coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Just a little over a year old, this singular adaptive reuse-centered art space centered around—and located within—a quintet of massive decommissioned fuel waste tanks is back open now, and apparently ready to show off. A newly released series of photos details the transformative project, which was designed by multi-disciplinary design studio OPEN Architecture and spearheaded by karaoke-loving contemporary art collector Qiao Zhibing. Completed over the course of six years (with some significant delay), Tank Shanghai wholly transformed a formerly industrial plot adjacent to Shanghai’s old Longhua Airport while retaining five hulking tank structures that were left standing at the once-blighted 12-acre riverside site in the museum-stuffed West Bund area. Per OPEN, Tank Shanghai is one of the “world’s rare examples of the adaptive reuse of aviation fuel tanks.” Described as a “sanctuary for both people and nature” that aims to “dissolve conventional ideas of site limitations and demarcations,” Tank Shanghai’s open space-meets-contemporary-art-center approach has already proven to be popular with the public. Showing now is Chicago-based installation artist Theaster Gates’ Bad Neon, which transforms one of the tank-bound gallery spaces into a roller skating rink. For most, the art is indeed a main draw but Tank Shanghai’s park setting also attracts joggers, picnickers, and the like. “By introducing new audiences to the traditionally closed-off space of the art center, Tank Shanghai has brought unprecedented energy to the formerly industrial neighborhood and to the southwest banks of the city at large,” explained OPEN. The five tanks are connected by a lushly landscaped “Super Surface” which serves as a natural pedestrian corridor between the different major sections of the park, including an “Urban Forest, a grassy open meadow for large gatherings, and a “stepped waterscape.” By linking the site with busy Longten Avenue, the Super Surface also opens up public access to the revitalized riverfront. As for the tanks themselves, each has been retrofitted to serve a unique purpose and accommodate different programming. The first is home to a two-story nightclub featuring live music and bar; the second is a restaurant complete with an outdoor roof deck; the third is a cavernous, raw space left mostly unchanged in order to mount large installations; the fourth has been converted into a more traditional gallery space spread across three levels, each connected by a spiraling ramp, and the fifth has been converted to include two large, sheltered stages that each face sloping lawns for visitors to congregate for al fresco concerts, performances, and such. “It is an art center without boundaries, and as it continues to assimilate into the life of the city more largely,” wrote New York-founded OPEN. “Tank Shanghai will continue to facilitate and inspire the creation of more inclusive and collective cultural spaces.”
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Art Deco garage incorporated into mixed-use complex in L.A.’s Koreatown

On the corner of 8th and Western in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Koreatown is a peculiarly-shaped building awash in the signage of Korean-owned businesses. In 1931, several decades before Koreatown was officially established, the building was opened to the public as the Pellissier Square Garage, an Art Deco structure designed by Morgan, Walls & Clements to provide miscellaneous services for the city’s burgeoning car culture. The building’s stepped facade, designed to draw attention from passersby, lends the building a unique street presence that is currently obscured and neglected. It was recently revealed that the unusual building will be incorporated into a mixed-use development, named 8th & Western, designed by KTGY Architecture + Planning (KTGY), and developed by Jamison Properties, LLP. “The new complex reflects the history and future of its vibrant Koreatown surroundings,” KTGY associate Principal Keith McCloskey said in a press statement. “The existing parking garage is among some of the oldest reinforced concrete garages in the City. The new, mixed-use building improves, restores and re-uses it, connecting it with sleek, new apartments and retail, while adding generous rooftop amenities atop the historic building.” More specifically, the original building will have a rooftop pool and a screening room and VR room on its ground floor, while the new building will provide 230 apartment units and 13,300 square feet of retail. The two buildings will be linked via a new pedestrian bridge and roof terrace. KTGY and Jamison Properties are working with local historic consultants to preserve the original building’s signature Art Deco ornamentation, while the new building will incorporate those elements in a darker color palette. “Although the new building is contemporary in style,” explained McCloskey, “the vertical balcony slots with angled planes help to capture some of the vertical quality of the surrounding Art Deco history. The result is a fusion of new and old, reflecting one of the most dynamic neighborhoods in Los Angeles.” 8th & Western is scheduled to open in 2022.
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NeueHouse opens stylish third location in L.A.’s Bradbury Building

NeueHouse, a high-end workspace and cultural event center rivaling the likes of Soho House and Second Home, found instant success in 2015 after breathing new life into the former CBS Studios Building, a sleek modernist structure in the center of Hollywood designed by modernist architect William Lescaze. The company became bicoastal with the opening of its second location within a former auction house in Manhattan’s Flatiron District from the 1930s. For their third location, NeueHouse returned to the West Coast with perhaps their most impressive adaptive reuse yet; the entire second floor of the Bradbury Building, Downtown Los Angeles’s first commercial structure. Designed by Sumner B. Hunt and constructed by George H. Wyman, the building’s unassuming facade belies the five-story atrium that reached global fame from its role in movies from Blade Runner to Double Indemnity. A seat along NeueHouse Bradbury’s new interior balcony space affords an ideal view of that atrium, accessible from a marble flight of stairs with wooden banisters carved to resemble foliage. From this privileged position, one can also see the valiant efforts made by DesignAgency, the Los Angeles and Toronto-based studio responsible for leading the design of NeueHouse Bradbury, to incorporate the stylish company into the 127-year-old structure. “What [DesignAgency has] designed and realized for us at Bradbury is truly incredible,” said NeueHouse CEO Josh Wyatt, “and a wonderful testament to the art of repurposing a historic, architectural gem for the future needs of the creative class.” Check out the full conversion on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Helmut Jahn pitches proposal to save Chicago’s Thompson Center

It’s not every day that the architect of a 35-year-old governmental office building makes a personal plea to save their own work. But Chicago’s exuberantly postmodern James R. Thompson Center, which the State of Illinois state is attempting to sell off with considerable public push-back, is a special case. And Helmut Jahn won’t allow his creation to meet the wrecking ball without a fight, or, at the very least, a detailed plan on how to best reuse it. Dubbed the “postmodern people’s palace," the Thompson Center opened in 1985 on Chicago’s Loop as the State of Illinois Center. The building was renamed in 1993 in honor of former governor James R. Thompson, who commissioned it. Like other postmodern governmental buildings of the era such as Michael Graves’s Portland Building, the 17-floor office complex—a “slice of a hollow sphere, clad in curved blue glass and salmon-colored steel” per the Chicago Center for Architecture, with an intensely photogenic central atrium to boot—is the type of building that critics and the public love and love to hate. In a major American city with countless iconic buildings spanning different eras, the Thompson Center still, for better or worse, sticks out. As reported by the Chicago Sun Times, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is intent on selling the Thompson Center and the full-block parcel that the building sits on as part of a three-year quest to find a buyer. Moving state offices out of the building could save an estimated $17 million annually while avoiding deferred maintenance costs totaling roughly $320 million. The administration of Pritzker’s predecessor, Governor Bruce Rauner, estimated that the Thompson Center could fetch as much as $200 million, but less if a potential buyer was blocked from razing the building and developing something new in its place. Jahn, however, has a different idea: Keep the building as is, with some significant alterations that don’t detract from the center’s populist character, and readapt it to accommodate new offices, a hotel, and even co-living apartments. Most dramatically, Jahn’s 10-page reuse plan, “Thompson Center: Inside Out,” calls for removing the building’s front doors and transforming the atrium into a sheltered outdoor space. He refers to the refreshed, repurposed building as “something new with a space that doesn’t belong to the state of Illinois but to the people of Chicago.” Jahn elaborated in his proposal:
“I propose the doors come down, so the atrium becomes a public place with upgraded retail and restaurants. The lower floors, with up to 60,000 square feet, flexible tech-offices. Above, a hotel and co-living apartments with terraces facing the atrium. These terraces and those along the curved south side are greened with trees and climbing vines, which will grow well in this protected in-outside environment. The façade and the environmental systems will be tuned to work together and use the sun as an energy source.”
In addition to detailing his vision for a reimagined Thompson Center, Jahn warns of the negative impact that could stem from demolishing the building and redeveloping the site. “What we got for 175 million dollars in 1984 can become the heart in the now degrading central loop,” he wrote. “A demolition and replacement would not only take a long time but seeks high density without considering public benefits. We need not more bigger buildings but buildings which improve the public space.” Jahn added that:
“Governor Pritzker has the opportunity, after years of neglect by his predecessors, to lead thru the sale of the Thompson Center by giving it new life. Repurposing the building the right way could go beyond what the building ever was, making it better, more public and a place where you want to work, stay overnight, live or just visit and feel good. Miracles and dreams can become real.”
As for Governor Pritzker, it would appear that his administration cannot be so easily swayed by the miracles and dreams of a visionary German-born, Chicago-based architect. “The governor is committed to selling the Thompson Center to provide the best value to taxpayers,” Pritzker’s office told the Sun Times in a statement. “For the state’s purposes, the facility is larger than necessary, and the Department of Central Management Services is working expeditiously to identify a developer by the end of the year.” The Thompson Center’s endangered status isn’t new. Proposals to sell the building have been kicking around since the administration of former Governor Rod Blagojevich, who held office from 2003 to 2009 before he was impeached, convicted, and removed on corruption charges (and then pardoned). Preservationists have long rallied to save the idiosyncratic building, which is currently home to the Illinois State Board of Education, the Illinois Court of Claims, and other state entities. Most recently, it appeared (once again) on Chicago Preservation's annual "Chicago 7" Most Endangered Buildings List.
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Manhattan’s subterranean Lowline park flatlines

Manhattan’s Lowline, a planned underground park project that stretched the concept of adaptive reuse to exciting and seemingly impossible new extremes, is no more. As first reported by Crain’s, funding for the estimated $83 million subterranean green space that would have been tucked deep beneath the Lower East Side within the long-abandoned Williamsburg Trolley Terminal has essentially dried up. This has forced the project to go “into dormancy” as Signe Nielsen, a landscape architect and member of the Lowline’s board of directors, explained to Crain’s. “We were unable to meet all of the benchmarks that were required, one of the most significant of which was to raise a substantial amount of money.” The Underground Development Foundation, the park’s nonprofit fundraising arm, launched two successful Kickstarter campaigns during the park’s early years, raising $150,000 in 2015 and $223,506 in 2015. As Crain’s notes, $3.7 million had been secured by the nonprofit after the project’s attention-grabbing launch in 2011—the same year that the second section of the High Line, a project that also famously harnesses New York City’s dormant transport infrastructure, opened to enormous fanfare on Manhattan’s far West Side. But public filings show that by the end of 2017, the nonprofit possessed little under $10,000 in funding. In 2016, the year that the Lowline received the formal green light from the city to proceed with the ambitious project, the foundation had $815,287 on hand. Obviously, such a visionary undertaking—one that involved reimagining a derelict subterranean space and employing emerging solar technology to reactivate it as a lush, community-centric park—came with a steep price tag. Regardless of fundraising struggles, the Lowline, which would have been New York City’s first underground park, was still slated for a 2021 opening as of last year. In a prescient 2016 interview with Fast Company, former Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen noted there was a chance that the Lowline would never be fully realized, going on to say that such a risk was ultimately positive. “This is all upside,” she said at the time. “There’s a chance to take the unbelievable advances in technology and the creative spirit of New York and harness it to create a public space that no one could have imagined.” Speaking with AN, Lowline co-founder Dan Barasch mirrored Glen's earlier sentiments on the benefits of risk-taking while also suggesting that the Lowline is, in fact, “not over” despite the current absence of a fundraising-driven pulse first reported by Crain's. “It's going to get done,” Barasch said, going on to explain that the team is open to exploring other hidden spaces in New York and beyond that are ripe for rediscovery and reactivation. And the Lowline's current home on the Lower East Side certainly isn't out of the question for future work. Barasch expressed his frustration with the de Blasio administration and the “fundamental lack of public funding” for bold, risk-taking projects like the Lowline. Barasch mentioned a greenery-filled underground park in Seoul that's quite similar to the Lowline but benefited from greater public support from the city's government. “This was a project that always needed the city to be behind it,” he said. “We're going to wait for an administration that has the imagination and capital that a project like this requires.” While the Lowline may never see the light of day under the current mayoral administration, this isn’t to say that it failed to provide the curious public with a taste of what was (supposed to) come. From October 2015 through February 2017, the Lowline team operated the Lowline Lab, a non-subterranean space described as a “long-term open laboratory and technical exhibit designed to test and showcase how the Lowline will grow and sustain plants underground.” Free and open to the public during the weekends, the Lowline Lab welcomed 100,000 visitors over the course of its existence. The lab was housed in what was once part of Essex Street Market, and is now the Essex Crossing mega-development. The idea for a public space that made use of the old Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal was first conceived as the Delancy Underground by Barasch and James Ramsey in 2009. When the Lowline launched two years later, the duo envisioned it as an obvious inverse of the wildly popular—but controversial—elevated High Line. It would, however, ultimately been an entirely different, more futuristic creature. At 1.5 acres compared to the High Line’s 6.7 acres, the Lowline would have placed a greater emphasis on innovation and technology as well as on fostering community engagement.
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Montreal's iconic Olympic Tower reborn as office complex

The second lives of observation towers built for the Olympics run the gamut from rock ‘n’ roll museums to rappelling venues to rather straightforward radio and television transmitters. Yet Montreal’s Olympic Tower, perhaps the most famous of these soaring edifices even though it wasn't finally completed until a full decade after the 1976 Summer Olympics, hasn’t really had a productive afterlife—until now. Thanks to Quebecois financial services giant Desjardins, a new purpose has at long last been bestowed on the precast-concrete landmark that looms precariously over Parc Olympique. Working closely with Desjardins, the multidisciplinary Montreal-based Provencher_Roy painstakingly converted seven of the tower’s 12 unoccupied floors into new office space that will serve as call and administrative centers for the bank over the next 15 years. In total, the renovation, which kicked off in 2018, encompasses 150,000 square feet, roughly 80 percent of the tower’s rentable space. It includes an auditorium, a trio of lounges, a 400-seat dining room, a wellness center, 25 “collaborative living rooms,” a half-dozen coffee bars, and enough open workspace to accommodate 1,400 employees. The top of the tallest inclined tower in the world, at 541 feet, has long been home to a popular observatory that’s accessible to the public via a glass-encased funicular; however, the rest of the interior space within the tilting, Roger Taillibert-designed structure has remained mostly empty. Desjardins is now the first (and only) major tenant to occupy it in over 30 years. That’s big news when considering that the stadium complex at Parc Olympique—tower included—is regarded by many as a particularly egregious white elephant despite its architectural significance. Often referred to as the “Big O” (or more commonly among locals as the “Big Owe” in reference to its exorbitant cost of over $1.1 billion), Montreal’s doughnut-shaped Olympic Stadium is the largest stadium in Canada by seating capacity with room for 56,000 patrons but has experienced woefully little post-Olympics activity. Lacking a full-time tenant since the Expos decamped in 2004, the venue has been plagued by a long list of structural issues and costly setbacks. While most criticism has been lobbed at the roof-cursed coliseum, the fact that its adjacent tower has sat unoccupied since 1987 has only soured the view of this somewhat damaging Olympics leftover. The renovation of the Olympic Tower, recently rechristened as the Montreal Tower,  is a major step in a positive new direction. The most significant aspect of the overhaul involved removing a bulk of the tower’s prefabricated concrete panels and been replacing them with an all-glass curtain wall that encases 60 percent of the building’s facade. Per a press release, this dramatic undertaking was the single “biggest challenge” in transforming the “mythical” structure, and was essential in “creating a pleasant work environment.” Antiquated mechanical systems were also replaced and brought up to code as part of the renovation. Throughout the process, Provencher_Roy was mindful not to erase the tower’s important place in Montreal history. Tributes to the building's Olympic legacy are distributed throughout the light-strewn interior, most in the form of sporty murals. “It was a privilege to work on such an exceptional site that represents so much in the collective imagination,” said Julien-Pierre Laurendeau, an interior designer at Provencher_Roy. “Our design strategy has been to showcase the spectacular architectural character of the Montreal Tower, still imbued with the Olympic spirit. Interior design encourages collaboration and sharing of knowledge in a healthy environment, as well as drawing a parallel with the values of Desjardins.” Montreal’s Olympic Stadium will likely never live down its reputation as one of North America’s most notorious white elephants. But the tower that bends directly over it can now bask in its newfound status as an example of smart, site-sensitive reinvention and reuse.
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Shin Shin imagines radical redevelopment of abandoned Detroit homes

The economic decline of Detroit in the second half of the 20th century is a familiar one in American history. The Motor City dramatically fell from a population of 1,850,000 in 1950 to 680,000 in 2015, resulting in an unprecedented exodus of its central historic districts. The Virginia Park district, a neighborhood lined with abandoned turn-of-the-century mansions, soon became a destination for out-of-town photographers eager to capture the ‘ruins’ as physical proof of abandonment with little interest in how the city can move on from the troubles of its recent past. Shin Shin, an architecture firm founded in 2018 by Detroit-born sisters Melissa and Amanda Shin, recently opened an exhibition at Woodbury University in Burbank, California, that offers a bold solution for the city’s historic homes through a novel form of adaptive reuse. Titled Four Corners, the exhibition dives deeply into No Vacancy, a series of redevelopment scenarios applied to a typical Virginia Park mansion. Each scenario programmatically divides the home in half, leaving the top floor as a modestly-sized private residence while transforming the bottom floor into a commercial space that generates income and provides much-needed amenities for building community. The four different family types—the bachelor or young couple, the single-parent, the nuclear family, and the empty nester—are coupled with a complementary commercial program, creative service spaces, an outdoor theater, a recreation center, and a garden cafe, respectively. Because the clash between the public and private may seem outlandish at first, the exhibition goes to great lengths to demonstrate the viability of their proposals through scaled-up construction drawings and highly detailed 3D-printed models. The models, in particular, draw the eye to the more playful aspects of each design, including silly straw-like columns, rock climbing facades, and overinflated acoustical padding. While the firm currently has no plans to make their vision a reality in their native city, they hope to come up with other, like-minded proposals to guide Detroit through its current era of revitalization and growth. Four Corners will be on display until March 6.
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LandDesign will bring a park to the site of a former Dallas mall

The nationally-based LandDesign has been named the landscape architect for the Park Heritage portion of the Dallas Midtown development, which will turn a former mall in the city into a new, centrally-located mixed-use community. Park Heritage, designed in conjunction with architecture firms 505 Design and OMNIPLAN, will include 1.8 million square feet of office space, 600 multi-family residential units, a boutique hotel, 350,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, and a 3-acre park. Dallas Midtown is a 430-acre redevelopment of the former Valley View Mall site. Park Heritage will take the place of the former Sears store and is the first phase of the $3 billion project. Owned by Seritage Growth Properties and developer KDC, the first phase will convert 25 of the 430 acres into a residential mixed-use community. The development off Preston Road and the Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway will be the first new office space on the major commuter artery in the last 30 years. LandDesign, a firm currently working on over a dozen mall redesigns across the country, aims to transform the site into a vibrant community with a balance of open green space and pedestrian walkways that connect green roof shade structure, seating, and garden spaces. Brent Martin, partner and landscape architect at LandDesign, said the design reduces the footprint of the existing vehicle corridor to create a new urban setting. “The site is located just off the LBJ Freeway, a major commuter artery,” said Martin in a press release, “so we had to be sensitive to Dallas-area transportation needs even as we maximize the green space and devote more room to parks and pathways activating the site and carrying foot traffic toward retailers.” The master plan of Park Heritage was completed by the Dallas-based OMNIPLAN and is designed to both integrate the miniature “neighborhood” into Midtown and to function on its own. “Pedestrian design is key to making the mix of office, residential, hotel, retail and entertainment uses complement one another, instead of compete,” OMNIPLAN told AN over email. “The pedestrian aspect permeates throughout the project so each building—no matter the use—flows down into a central park, which is the heart of the development.” Heth Kendrick, principal at LandDesign, credits the park as the transformative concept that turns the development into a community. “Our mission is creating places that matter, where people come together for work, play, and celebration,” Kendrick said in a press release. “Helping to realize this vision for Park Heritage is very rewarding for us as designers and as members of the Dallas metro community.”
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A new contemporary art space in Arkansas will open in a former Kraft cheese factory

The Momentary, the downtown contemporary art satellite of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, will open on February 22 in a former Kraft cheese factory. The adaptive reuse design by Wheeler Kearns Architects maintains much of the original 63,000-square-foot brick masonry building Kraft occupied from 1947 until 2013 (from 1913 to 1947, Eagle Flour Mill controlled the site). Additional spaces for art exhibitions, performances, events, and dining have been added that use contemporary materials to contrast with the existing industrial architecture of the building. The Momentary follows in a long line of converting decommissioned industrial spaces into experimental art museum outposts, including MoMA PS1 in New York and MASS MoCA in Western Massachusetts.  “In addition to being a sustainable building method, adaptive reuse serves as a living history much like contemporary art itself,” said Lieven Bertels, director of the Momentary, in a press release. “The Momentary will be an intersection of art and everyday life; perhaps some of the original elements and industrial fixtures will inspire artists and the communities to think about their own evolution and this moment in time.” The inaugural exhibition, State of the Art 2020, will be free and open to the public from Feb 22 to May 24.  Gallery and performance spaces’ names allude to their former use such as a Fermentation Hall, Hydration Column, and Boiler Room. The biggest addition, the Tower, is a 70-foot-tall space that will host art and performances as well as a top-floor bar. The outdoor green space, designed by Howell & Vancuren Landscape Architects of Tulsa, Oklahoma, will feature a 50-foot-tall canopy made by the Japanese company Taiyo.  If it seems unlikely that a small town in Arkansas with a population of 50,000 would open two monumental art museums in less than ten years, it should be kept in mind that Bentonville is also the home of Walmart—the original Walton’s Five and Dime is preserved there as a museum, and the Walmart headquarters in Bentonville employs around 15,000. Walmart and The Walton Family, one the country’s richest, are the main financiers and founders of both the Crystal Bridges Museum and the Momentary, as well as many other projects around the town.
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Nonprofit Vital Spaces converts Santa Fe's empty buildings into art spaces

Vital Spaces, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Santa Fe, New Mexico is dedicated to the adaptive reuse of local vacant buildings into spaces for art events, exhibitions, and studios. Local real estate investor Jonathan Boyd was inspired to establish Vital Spaces after observing the city's overwhelming number of empty spaces, high rent, and underrepresentation of the area's younger and Native artists. "We see the lack of affordable spaces in Santa Fe as the biggest threat to sustaining a diverse cultural environment," the organization's website claims. In 2017, Boyd had several productive meetings with the organizers of Chashama, a similarly-minded organization based in New York City founded by actress Anita Durst that has secured over one million square feet for local artists. Since moving into a downtown property in Santa Fe in March of last year and establishing a midtown exhibition space shortly thereafter, Vital Spaces has made a significant presence within the local art community in a remarkably short amount of time. But its biggest breakthrough came this month after signing the lease to the campus of the former Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and the College of Santa Fe. The 64-acre campus, which includes a series of interconnected buildings designed by famed Mexican architect Ricardo Legoretta, has been sitting empty since May 2018, following the university's closure. This gave Boyd time to consider how the campus could become Vital Spaces' most significant contribution to the local art scene yet. Currently, the organization has plans to use the campus in-part to one day provide four- to-six art studio spaces and a large exhibition area, with the hopes of bringing in other organizations to curate shows and propose a wide range of uses for the site. Until the campus project is finalized, however, Vital Spaces will continue to focus its energy on the city's smaller vacant properties, starting this Fall with the use of vacant storefronts throughout downtown Santa Fe as displays for the work of local artists. "When we give artists space," reads Vital Spaces' mission statement, "we breathe life into our communities with innovative artistic programming that inspires Santa Feans of all ages and backgrounds; we bring economic vitality to those communities; we raise Santa Fe’s profile on the national art stage."
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London developer could turn Victorian gasholder into an alligator farm

As South East London's Old Kent Road area undergoes a massive redevelopment, several ideas have been tossed around regarding what to do with its centerpiece, a towering gasholder remaining from the Victorian era. Followers of the project have snapped to attention in light of the latest announcement: Developer Avanton is recruiting architects to sink their teeth into designing London’s first alligator farm. Maccreanor Lavington, Patel Taylor, and Farrells are the firms working with Avanton to explore the feasibility of the project, according to a report byBuilding Design. Avanton’s project information describes the park is the “green heart” of the larger Ruby Triangle, Avanton’s extensive mixed-use development of the Old Kent Road area in South East London. The result will be five new buildings with a total of 1,152 residential units, as well as commercial space and a community sports and recreation center. The gasholder stands at the center of the park zone, and while it has been defunct for more than ten years, Avanton plans to keep the 160-foot metal skeleton as a tribute to the heyday of the Old Kent Road gasworks industry in the mid-19th century. The frame would be outfitted with glass and essentially converted into a circular conservatory with a 65-foot-deep water feature. This type of enclosure would allow the park, along with its accompanying educational facility and visitor’s center, to remain open to visitors year-round. While the alligator farm is just one of at least three distinct park concepts for the area, it has understandably caught the attention of many who wonder what a public space of this nature might look like. In a statement to Londonist, Katheryn Wise of World Animal Protection expressed concern:
“Not only is the busy and noisy environment of a property on the Old Kent Road no place for a wild animal, the transportation and handling of these alligators is likely to cause them unnecessary stress, fear and anxiety. Wild animal exploitation to boost the profits of a property developer is the wrong message to be sending and we are urging the company to rethink their decision.”
Alligators require warm, humid climates not just to survive, but also to reproduce and feel at ease within their habitat. In a press statement, Avanton claimed that it treats all environmental and ethical implications seriously, and the project will not move forward without consulting the appropriate experts. All of the park concepts are currently under discussion with Southwark Borough Council, and commentary will soon open up to a public forum.
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EYRC Architects designs an office complex for quickly developing L.A. Arts District

The Arts District may soon be known as the most rapidly developing section of Los Angeles. The newest proposed addition is Produce L.A., a boldly-designed mixed-use building on the corner of Santa Fe Avenue and Jesse Street, within throwing distance of the Los Angeles River and Michael Maltzan Architecture's Sixth Street Viaduct. The building will replace a cold storage facility currently on the site, thereby contributing to the transition the Arts District has been undergoing from an industrial area to a creative hub. When complete, Produce L.A. will be one of many office complexes in the immediate area, including OFFICEUNTITLED's AVA Los Angeles and the adaptively-reused Santa Fe Business Center. Designed by local firm EYRC Architects (formerly Ehrlich Architects), the four-story building will include over 100,000 square feet of office space, 15,000 square feet of commercial space, a restaurant on its ground floor, extensive landscaping along Santa Fe Avenue, parking for over 200 cars, and an activated rooftop with views from the Downtown skyline to the Los Angeles River. The distinct patterning of the facade is designed to protect the building's interior from excess solar radiation while decreasing the necessary amount of glazing. In a nod to the area's industrial history, the panels will be primarily comprised of corrugated steel. The owners of the Produce L.A. building, Denver-based Continuum Partners and Beverly Hills-based Platinum Equity, are putting aside an estimated $100 million towards the new office building (the project received a much-need boost when the group received a $54 million loan from an undisclosed lender). Construction has already begun, and the project is slated to be completed by late 2020.