Posts tagged with "Adaptive Reuse":

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Pabst Brewing Company opens a new microbrewery on its old Milwaukee campus

A little bit of Milwaukee died when the Pabst Brewery closed in 1996. It would be over a decade before anything started to fill in its sprawling campus. Over 20 years have passed and one of the brewery’s most iconic buildings is finally seeing new life… Or is that old life? Pabst Brewing Company has returned to the Brew City in the form of a microbrewery, restaurant, and beer garden. The rehabbed 144-year-old First German Methodist Church will produce upward of 4,000 barrels of beer a year, and seat about 140 people in a dining room, mezzanine, and bar. While Pabst Blue Ribbon will be on tap, the microbrewery will also brew rare German and Belgian beers. Knowing its audience, the new brewery opened April 14, also known locally as Milwaukee Day (414 is Milwaukee’s area code).

Pabst Brewery 1037 West Juneau Avenue Milwaukee Tel: 414-630-1609 Design Architect: Dub Studios Architect of Record: Engberg Anderson
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Historic abandoned Sears complex transformed into affordable housing

Sears and Roebuck Company may no longer be the giant it once was, yet its physical presence is still all over the city of Chicago. As the company had no brick and mortar retail stores until nearly 30 years after its founding in 1886 as a mail-order catalog, many of its earliest buildings were for logistics and storage. One of those old structures is its large original headquarters and catalog printing facility. Abandoned for 40 years, the epic building has now been converted into 181 affordable housing units. Located in the North Lawndale neighborhood on the city’s West Side, the complete renovation was lead by Solomon Cordwell Buenz Architects, James McHugh Construction Co., and Denco, for client Mercy Housing Lakefront. The six-story brick complex will house upwards of 300 residents in 79 one-bedroom units, 52 two-bedroom units, 40 three-bedroom units, and 10 four-bedroom units. Other amenities include a community room, laundry facilities, a computer center, and an exercise facility. The redeveloped complex will now be known as the Lofts on Arthington. Limestone and terracotta details throughout, as well as many of the other original details, were restored in the process of converting the campus. Nearly the entire roof and over 100,000 square feet of flooring had to be completely replaced. Much of the structure had to be updated as well, along with filling in underground tunnels once used by Sears to move across the complex. In recent years, Sears has continued its decline, with an announcement from the company’s leadership expressing “substantial doubt” about its future. Famously, the company’s namesake supertall tower was renamed the Willis Tower in 2014, though most Chicagoans still refer to it as the Sears Tower. The Old Chicago Main Post Office, which was once the largest post office in the world thanks to Sears’s mail-order business, was vacated in 1997. Now with many of Sears’s old buildings being refurbished, and the Old Main Post Office being completely renovated, some of Chicago’s largest structures, from the golden age of mail-order merchandising, are getting a second chance at life.
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James Turrell rooms, a 15-ton Louise Bourgeois sculpture, and many site-specific works feature in MASS MoCA expansion

The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) is about to become the largest museum of contemporary art in America. Sitting at the heart of downtown North Adams, the sprawling museum inhabits a hodgepodge of 26 structures, all former 19th-century factory buildings, and the largest of which has just completed renovation. When it opens, Building 6 will add 150,000 square feet to the museum’s already impressive capacity, almost doubling it in size. The building boasts almost an acre per floor plate and is wedged at the convergence of the Hoosic River, making it an odd triangular shape. The point of the triangle marks the end of the museum and is highlighted with a newly-created double-height wall of west-facing windows looking out at the surrounding mountains. With such a large amount of ground to cover, the design team at Cambridge, Massachusetts–based Bruner/Cott & Associates decided to treat the space as a landscape, with artist-dedicated rooms and two-story volumes punctuating the relentlessly horizontal space, according to lead designer and Principal Jason Forney. Altogether, Building 6 brings MASS MoCA’s total gallery square footage to 250,000 square feet, of which 40,000 square feet of space is dedicated to the performing arts. (Performing arts makes up about 50 percent of the museum’s programming.) With new event spaces and an expanded back-of-house in Building 6, the museum is now more equipped to cater to their summer music festival crowds and provide artists with more workshop space to realize their art. As the latest addition comes together, teams of fabricators and curators are working to realize some of the complex site-specific works that will soon call MASS MoCA home. In the exhibit of works by James Turrell, whose pieces require large volumes of space, a team of nineteen people has been working since December. Because Turrell uses light and color fields, it was important for him to provide visitors with moments of visual quiet to help their eyes adjust between the different atmospheres, which he was able to coordinate with the design team. Where Turrell required volume and circulation, MASS MoCA's new Louise Bourgeois artwork required beefing up the already hardy structure. The museum will host several of her marble sculptures, one of which weighs 15 tons. In order accommodate these pieces, a new concrete structure and steel fillers were added, and a hole was cut into the side of the building to crane the sculptures into place. It may sound like a lot of gymnastics, but as Director Joseph C. Thompson put it, it’s what Mass MoCA was designed to do. It is also what makes MASS MoCA such a unique art-viewing experience. Where most museums are washed in white, painstakingly designed to maximize lighting and minimize distractions, Building 6 is well-worn, dominated by relentless columns and flooded with natural light from its hundreds of windows. It is unmistakably an old mill and yet, somehow, it works. “The buildings, as you can see, are almost painfully beautiful, but they’re tough. They’re rugged, vernacular, raw, American industrial buildings,” said Thompson. “So the work we show here can either stand up to that or it looks beautiful in juxtaposition to that.” The building’s ‘rugged’ and ‘raw’ aesthetic is preserved, but not without a few alterations. Columns were removed where necessary and replaced with “ghosts,” or wooden caps in the floor. New steel columns were placed to bear the burden of their ‘ghosted’ brethren and were painted with white fire-protectant paint, standing in stark contrast to their weathered wooden neighbors. Rather than disguise the alterations to preserve the building’s character, each intrusion was highlighted as a visual index of the building’s new life. “I think you can be too tentative and have too much respect for the old when it doesn’t deserve it,” said Forney. “This building was altered and changed to accommodate whatever operation it had going so we started to see this as just a continuation of all the changes that had happened over time. It was about preserving this living museum instead of preserving each wall or each window.” The new space promises to be an intriguing precedent for future museums and, if nothing else, will be a great place to get your steps in walking the almost four miles of galleries. MASS MoCA will open Building 6 on May 28 and will house works from James Turrell, Louise Bourgeois, Jenny Holzer, Laurie Anderson, Gunnar Schonbeck, and many others. For more information about the museum and to visit the new space, visit MASS MoCA’s website here.
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Gluckman-Tang, LTL, and NADAAA selected as finalists for arts center in Telluride, Colorado

A tiny mountain town nestled in the Rocky Mountains is bringing in the big guns for the adaptive reuse of a beloved crumbling warehouse in its burgeoning arts district. Already a destination for the outdoorsy, the former mining village of Telluride, Colorado, decided to add ‘thriving arts community’ to the list of reasons to come and visit. Local non-profit Telluride Arts was instrumental in the push for more cultural programming and is responsible for the adaptive reuse of the dilapidated, but adored, Telluride Transfer Warehouse. The 6,000-square-foot sandstone warehouse stands at the heart of the arts district, making it an ideal spot for a center for the arts and a good candidate for restoration. After gaining approval for restoration, Telluride Arts launched a national design competition earlier this year. "Key elements of the program include a Kunsthalle for exhibitions, flexible spaces that transform to host a multitude of events, and a small, museum-style bar/cafe that invites a constant flow of people and casual gatherings into a living-room atmosphere," said the arts organization on their website. Thirty firms put their names forward and, after careful selection, three finalists have been chosen: Gluckman-Tang and Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis of New York, and NADAAA of Boston. The finalists will now have two months and a $10,000 stipend to put together a conceptual plan ready to present to the community on May 30. During that time, the teams will visit Telluride get to know the town and the little warehouse that could. The building is listed as a National Historic Landmark and has stood for over 100 years. Originally built in 1906, it was in use until its roof collapsed in 1979. Since then, the building has stood vacant and decaying, a period that has become as much a part of its history as the life it had prior to 1979. NADAAA touched on this relationship of crumbling historic landmark and contemporary cultural hub in their statement to Telluride Arts. “Rare is the opportunity to both preserve an important historic landmark and create something wholly unprecedented,” said Katie Faulkner and Nader Tehrani of NADAAA. “The Transfer Warehouse stands as a monument to Telluride’s history of perseverance. The fundamental challenge of the project will be to maintain the power of the ruin while sponsoring the vision and opportunity through architectural speculation for the Arts District.” The final presentation will occur in Telluride on May 30 and Telluride Arts anticipates construction on the project to begin in 2019. To learn more about the Telluride Transfer Warehouse visit the Telluride Arts website here.
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Fougeron Architecture transforms a 1920s building into a home for organizations fighting for tech industry diversity

Like a big house accommodating different family members, the new Kapor Center needed to support three distinct-but-related organizations: Kapor Capital, the Kapor Center for Social Impact, and the Level Playing Field Institute. Each needed to share modern offices and venues for gatherings, tours, and discussions, all in one building, but without leaving each function isolated and cut-off. Additionally, the design had to fit within an existing 1920s building on an irregular site in the heart of Oakland, California. All three groups are dedicated to increasing the tech industry's diversity, though approach the challenge from different angles: Kapor Capital invests in companies that address social inequalities, the Center builds partnerships to increase Oakland residents' access to the tech sector, and the Institute tackles barriers to minorities learning STEM subjects. All three groups are also the work of tech industry veterans Mitch Kapor and Freada Kapor Klein; the husband-and-wife team held a design competition and tapped San Francisco–based Fougeron Architecture to build a new Center to consolidate their efforts. "We love mission-driven architecture," said firm founder Anne Fougeron. "For us, it represents, in some ways, the furthering of the missions we had with Planned Parenthood," a longstanding and repeat client for Fougeron Architecture. At the heart of Fougeron's pitch were two cylindrical volumes located atop one another that could unite the project's diverse programming. The bottom volume connects the ground floor to a lower level that features a double-height auditorium. The upper volume, which cuts through a range of workspaces, is topped by a channel glass oculus and an extensive rooftop terrace. The Kapors were sold: "I wanted to create some verticality... connections between the floors, but also visual connections that you remember," Fougeron said. "Almost a mnemonic device. You would always feel, while you were in the building, that you had an understanding of what the floors were like and what people were doing there." In addition to creating an open and democratic environment, the volumes could impress visitors and host the diverse social functions that come with the business and nonprofit world. "Freada wanted this integrated building, one that had a fair amount of pizzazz," added Fougeron. "She wanted something people would walk into and go 'wow.'" The 45,000-square-foot project's biggest challenge was the existing structure, which had been repeatedly remodeled over the years. But demolishing it wasn't an option: "For [the Kapors], reusing the building is about this respect of place in Oakland." Reusing 75% of the existing building also helped the project attain LEED Gold certification. Other sustainable features included bicycle parking, low flow fixtures, natural ventilation strategies, and recycled materials such as glass tile, redwood, and carpet tile. The newly-added fourth floor, in addition to its green roof, drought-tolerant plants, and heat-reducing wood decking (all other LEED pluses), features the oculus itself, which glows at night. The illuminated capstone not only distinguishes the Center but simultaneously symbolizes its "role to grow outward and upward within the community,"  as the firm wrote in a press release.
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Explore these two major adaptive reuse projects in Washington, D.C.

Arlington, Virginia—based practice Antunovich Associates has recently completed two adaptive reuse projects in Washington D.C. through Douglas Development: The former Hecht Company Warehouse and Uline Arena now offer living units and offices respectively, while both are home to new retail spaces. Located along New York Avenue, NE and a stone's throw away from the U.S. Capitol, the Hecht Company Warehouse is now home to 335 loft-style apartment units and 150,000 square feet of retail. Kevin Sperry, senior principle at Antunovich Associates, said the warehouse is "an esteemed Washington landmark." The firm has retained the building's historic and iconic glass block exterior, which stands six stories tall and runs along both New York Avenue and Fenwick Street. The glass block crown that sits atop its rounded corner is a rejuvenated beacon whose life and vitality is mirrored by new street-level activity. Here, a series of shops—notably a Nike outlet—now line New York Avenue, joined by broad sidewalks and shade-providing trees that accommodate outdoor dining and sidewalk cafes. In addition, an exterior court to the southeast of the historic portion of the Hecht Company Warehouse will accompany a grand entrance to the building. Residents, meanwhile, live in the five floors above. To cater to its new inhabitants, as well as the influx of people to the neighborhood, a garage and street parking facilities were built to the east of the building. This was achieved through the partial demolition of the one-story warehouse additions that adjoined the building. Southwest of Ivy City, in the NoMa neighborhood, Antunovich Associates undertook another mixed-use historical re-working. The 2.5-acre site of the Uline Arena encompasses the arena itself and an Icehouse building. The former hosted the first live Beatles performance in the United States in 1964, meanwhile, the latter, as its name suggests, featured a skating rink and ice hockey events. Work on the project saw the addition of more than 50,000 square feet of retail space and three times that of office space. A new above-ground parking structure accommodates 175 spaces while an interior courtyard (also new) provides abundant natural sunlight and a tranquil space for office tenants. Founder of Antunovich Associates, Joseph Antunovich will be speaking at the next Facades+AM conference in D.C. this March 9. There he will discuss his firm's adaptive reuse work in further detail. Seating is limited. To register, go to am.facadesplus.com.
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1940s Texas gas station gets retro rebirth as new Megabus stop

Tim Derrington, founder of Derrington Building Studio in Austin, Texas, opened his firm during the recession when he found it was easier to find clients than jobs. He said his studio’s work is modern in concept, but more regional vernacular in aesthetic and style, always playing off the context. That rings particularly true in Derrington's most recent project, the adaptive reuse of a small gas station into a Megabus station. “Everybody has driven by or seen that building,” said Derrington. “It’s prominent and it’s background at the same time.” (It’s located a few blocks from the University of Texas and the state capital.) Built in 1941, it was originally a Conoco station that maintained much of its original character through the years. Derrington said that altering the building’s original exterior was out of the question; instead they would clean it up and celebrate its character. He felt it was important not to paint the building a bright color and insisted that the color white would accentuate the form and textures of the original structure. Luckily, Megabus agreed and the company's bright gold and blue scheme became accents that played off the structure’s more retro elements. The blue, in particular, Derrington said, connects the building to its context by playing off the big blue Texas sky. “It almost painted itself,” he added. Preserving the original tile work on the exterior was also deemed non-negotiable. “The building owner’s wife fell in love with the tile and it was mandated that ‘thou shall not touch the tile,’” Derrington explained. “Nobody wanted to anyway, it’s just a neat little feature.” The tile already matched the new color scheme, so it was easy to incorporate. Of the many retro features the studio kept, he said the Jetsons-like rings around the tops of the columns were one of the more iconic elements that spoke to the building’s roots. Although the quirky features like that give the building a lot of character, Derrington added that his favorite elements are the panoramic steel windows on the back façade. In order to keep the original windows, years of paint needed to be excised. “There were guys out there scraping for days,” he said. On the interior, the team removed everything, scraping all of the paint and finishes down to the original walls. They also added bathrooms and a kiosk for the waiting patrons; Kimberly Bruce of Designs and Details Interiors LLC designed the interior, including the selection of all the interior finishes. Derrington also credited Joey Chioco of Chioco Development, Inc. as general contractor on the project. Since its completion, the building has received a lot of attention from the community. “So many people were appreciative of the fact that we maintained the original character,” said Derrington. “It made me realize that this is a special building and it should be shared.” In the end, he said his studio was proud it could bring a diamond out of the rough. “The idea was to make this into something that is a desirable place, a nice place, to be so that bus travel no longer has this stigma,” Derrington said. Now that the station is complete, the studio is moving on with several other projects in Austin, including a few homes, a school, and an extension to a rock-climbing gym they designed.
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Atlanta-based BLDGS brings new creativity to adaptive reuse projects

The Architectural League’s Emerging Voices award and lecture series spotlight individuals and firms with distinct design “voices” that have the potential to influence the discipline of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design. The jury, composed of Sunil Bald, Mario Gooden, Lisa Gray, Paul Lewis, Jing Liu, Thomas Phifer, Bradley Samuels, Billie Tsien, and Ian Volner, selected architects and designers who have significant bodies of realized work that creatively address larger issues in the built environment.

The Architect's Newspaper featured the Emerging Voices firms in our February issue; stay tuned as we upload those articles to our website over the coming weeks. The firm featured below (Atlanta, GA–based BLDGS) will deliver their lecture on March 2, 2017, at The Architecture League in New York City. Click here to learn more!

When Brian Bell and David Yocum first founded BLDGS 10 years ago, they didn’t plan to specialize in adaptive reuse—certainly not in Atlanta, a city not necessarily known for exploring the past.

But after they continued to land such commissions, they began to relish the role and have elevated this ever-expanding realm of architecture to a more creative, thoughtful, complex level than almost any firm has been able to achieve.

“We take a lot of pleasure in uncovering,” Yocum said. “If we can find the truth in each of the challenges and kind of reflect the presence of that truth it gives us a lot that we would not be able to layer onto a project.”

Bell and Yocum met at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and then worked together at Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects in Atlanta. They founded their firm in 2006, spurred mostly through work from art galleries, whose budgets and interests called for work within existing spaces. One of their first, Whitespace Gallery, is located inside an 1880s carriage house. Impressed by how clearly the original functions were expressed structurally, they set out to not only maintain that core, but also express the building’s new artistic focus with equal intensity. They hid lighting and HVAC along the periphery, and installed thin, floating panels—framed in steel—to display art.

Yocum calls this inserting the “featherlike presence of the new while respecting the gravity of the old.”

“We’re pushing and pulling off things that are seen and unseen rather than inventing from our own imagination,” added Bell. “There’s a lot of fascination with the situation that’s already there.”

Their work has continued along these lines, pushing and pulling on the complex layers of existing materials and techniques and the addition of contemporary ones. The installation Boundary Issues at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center removed contemporary plaster walls to display a mesmerizing combination of existing paint and bricks.Essentially they practiced addition by subtraction, architecture’s version of etching away a solid in a block print.

For their Caddell classroom and faculty building at Georgia Tech, they took cues for a new canopy from the structural logic of the existing 1950s building, whose steel frame is hidden behind a concrete exterior. The resulting canopy of aluminum louvers looks ultra-light from below, but like the original building, its thick steel frame is hidden above, out of sight. At Congregation Or Hadash Synagogue, they converted a former Chevrolet paint and auto body repair shop by carefully carving away its tilt-up concrete and sheet metal cladding, creating a radically different typology, nonetheless informed by its bones.

Even their only ground-up building, the Burned House in Atlanta, plays with history. Its cladding is painted with dozens of layers of paints, stencils, metallics, and other markings, which are meant to become exposed as the paint decays. Its interior plays with solid and void, with spaces pushed and pulled in unusual configurations to maximize exposure and push the boundaries of expectation.

“We wanted to think of history in reverse,” said Yocum. “Everything has a historical presence. If you’re not exploring that you’re missing opportunities.”

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Midcentury modern bank building in Memphis to become boutique hotel

Historic urban buildings across the country are being converted into boutique hotels, and Memphis, Tennessee, is seeing its own set of downtown makeovers. The latest is the forthcoming hotel at 158 Madison Avenue in the 1962 Leader Federal Savings and Loan building with a new nine-story neighboring addition. Seattle-based Chris Pardo Design: Elemental Architecture is transforming the five-story midcentury modern building into a 70-room hotel and the planned addition would take the room count up to 150. Along with the hotel, Pardo is also designing a ground-floor restaurant, Teller, and a rooftop bar, Errors & Omissions, names that pay homage to the building’s original program. The building will retain its distinctive precast facade. “We will be restoring the entire exterior of the building, adding back the fifth-floor planters, repairing the windows, and adding architectural facade lighting. The building is a real jewel and speaks for itself; we intend to honor its originality,” Chris Pardo said.

Architect: Chris Pardo Design: Elemental Architecture Client: Wessman Holdings Location: Memphis, TN Completion Date: Spring 2018

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Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill will transform former Studebaker factory in South Bend, Indiana into tech hub

The former Studebaker car plant in South Bend, Indiana, is undergoing a complete transformation. At nearly a century old, the complex will be reborn as a major technology hub for the entire Midwest. Working on the design is Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG). Dubbed the Renaissance District, the project broke ground nearly two years ago, with the first phase expected to be completed by this summer. The project is so large that companies have already moved into portions of the former plant. When completed the complex will include a 150,000-square-foot data center, a 230,000-square-foot workspace platform with commercial, incubator, and educational space, a 58,000-square-foot education center with classrooms, learning center, and auditorium, a 88,000-square-foot commerce platform with a fitness center, daycare, retail, and food services, and 100,000 square feet of housing. The large north section of the complex was designed by Detroit-based Albert Kahn in 1923. The six-story reinforced concrete structure was state of the art at the time, designed to host an automobile assembly line. While the process of building cars was generally linear, the AS+GG’s design will enable to the multi-directional, multi-discipline approach of today’s technology industry. The housing in the project will take the form of a long-term hotel and serviced apartments that groups or organizations can rent for weeks, months, or years, depending on their needs. Both the housing portion and commercial portions of the project will include landscaped green roofs and terraces. A large courtyard will also provide outdoor gathering space on the east end of the project. This landscaped courtyard will act as the center of the project for workers and visitors. A 200-seat auditorium will “float” above the east courtyard. The hope is that the project will act as an example for a post-industrial city looking to address economic and development issues on complex sites.
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This Mexican city turned an abandoned rail yard into a 86,000-square-foot museum and arts campus

When asked why he installed his latest public intervention at the Museo Espacio in Aguascalientes, Mexico, French artist Daniel Buren simply said, “Because I was invited.” But it is not difficult to see what makes the Museo Espacio and the larger Macro Espacio para la Cultura y las Artes (MECA) campus desirable for an international artist. Over the past five years the local government has been quietly developing one of the most intriguingly designed arts destinations in North America.

Many municipalities profess a dedication to the arts, but the government of the state of Aguascalientes, with assistance from Mexico’s federal government, has successfully implemented an ambitious master plan that transforms a century old rail yard into MECA, a world-class destination and center for the arts.

Carlos Lozano de la Torre, the governor of Aguascalientes, always viewed the revitalization of the rail yard as a cultural imperative. Established by an American railroad company in 1898, the 200-acre property was shut down by the government in 1991, effectively leaving Aguascalientes without any viable industry. Recognizing an opportunity for “regeneration through culture,” Governor de la Torre assembled a homegrown team including architect José Luis Jiménez García and Aguascalientes Cultural Institute director Dulce María Rivas Godoy to develop a master plan to stealthily transform the industrial structures into modern containers for the arts and connect the campus to the other established arts institutions in the small urban center.

Museo Espacio, one of the first buildings to open, is a generous 86,000-square-foot, intentionally barebones contemporary platform for international artists to display large-scale works of art. The former wood warehouse was revitalized with simple materials that nod to the building’s industrial history—polished concrete, steel, and glass—all seamlessly integrated into the long, wide bays often favored by conceptual artists. Rail tracks weave through the building and the site maintaining the balance between old and new. A custom metal screen wraps the exterior with monumental openings on either end.

In January, Museum Espacio opened with a site-specific installation by Jannis Kounellis, followed by a site-specific intervention by Buren, who has a long-standing relationship with Mexico. Buren’s work, titled Como un juego de nino, fills over 64,000 square feet, creating an exaggerated colorful playground on one side that is mirrored by one devoid of color on the other. Buren, who likes “to work with different spaces as much as possible,” found “the transformation of this space very original. It is very simple, and is so sophisticated in many aspects. They took a lot of care [with the structure], so you have this connection between a very straight, modern view of architecture inside and the shape of an old manufacturing outside. The connection of both is very successful.”

While the Museo Espacio and the master plan were conceived of over five years ago, it was built in a quick five months, which is inconceivable in the United States. Construction is complete on new offices for Grupo Modelo, an archaeology museum, and a concert hall. All of the buildings on the campus were designed by an in-house design team at the Secretary of Infrastructure and Communications (SICOM) offices headed by Jiménez García, director of projects and secretary of infrastructure and communications. Governor de la Torre hopes MECA will inspire other cities in Mexico and beyond to not just revitalize local resources, but to use native talent to do it. “It was something that was broken’ for a long time it was a place that nobody went, and now we have people from all over the world visiting,” he said. “They always ask, ‘Who did this?’ and we tell them, ‘Our own people.’”

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L.A.’s La Kretz Innovation Campus in is a one-stop shop for cleantech development

The La Kretz Innovation Campus (LKIC), designed by John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects (JFAK), is a new business incubation center in Los Angeles developed by the Department of Water and Power (LADWP), the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles, and Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), a nonprofit tasked to transform the city into a green-collar hub.

The 61,000-square-foot “sustainability factory” is located in a collection of single-story, masonry-and-bow-truss warehouses from 1923 in L.A.’s Arts District. The neighborhood, home to the Southern California Institute of Architecture and a growing number of creative industries, is well-suited to benefit from a “Cleantech Corridor” specifically zoned to support the green economy-related development now running through it.

The complex is meant to be a place where, as JFAK founder and principal Alice Kimm said, “Ideas for new goods and services can be birthed, researched, developed, prototyped, and pushed out to market from under one roof.”

The complex, measuring 290- by 200-feet, is carved into eight similarly sized warehouse bays mirrored about a central axis. The eastern four bays are dedicated to business incubation services: office spaces, meeting rooms, and lounge areas. The western half of the building contains maker spaces: state-of-the-art fabrication rooms with robots and wood shop tools.

While the exterior of the building has been left mostly untouched, the whole of the structure has been seismically retrofitted and its interiors upgraded with new surfaces and partitions. Upon entering the building, one discovers a waiting lounge demarcated by an abstracted triumphal arch. The area is wrapped on two sides by a luscious indoor green wall while white prisms—actually, light cannons designed to reflect sunlight indoors—descend from the ceiling above the adjacent reception desk. Spaces beyond contain an arrangement of single-height partitions and fully-enclosed meeting rooms, all sandwiched between polished concrete floors and the soaring, lumber arches of the bow-trusses distinctive to L.A.’s industrial architecture.

Kimm explained that daylighting strategies guided the design: “We staggered the placement of enclosed spaces so light could penetrate all the way through the building.”

The following bays provide more offices and lead to a semi-formal, wood-paneled amphitheater and cafe lounge. The lounge overlooks the new Arts District Park, designed by staff landscape architects from the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering with JFAK, who designed a shade structure for it. The half-acre park features a playground and landscaping fed by a gray water–reclamation system designed by LADWP. BuroHappold was the mechanical and sustainability engineer.

The western portion of the building contains utilitarian conference rooms, laboratories, and fabrication spaces. Generously proportioned gypsum and glass partition–lined hallways snake along the main party wall at the center of the complex, connecting the business and fabrication spaces along a social core. These routes connect physically discrete spaces, giving the building’s interiors a sense relative impermanence that contrasts with the solid masonry walls and the elaborate truss ceiling above, now bedazzled with all manner of mechanical and electrical systems.

Kimm explained: “[With LKIC] ‘adaptive reuse’ meant that we had to make a building that had enough identity on its own, as a unifying architectural framework, but that would still allow the individuals to have their own voices. The project revolved around finding a balance and knowing when to stop.”

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