Newly revealed plans to expand the home of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in Alberta, Canada, present a striking transformation from a small concert hall to a 45,000-square-foot mixed-use space. The expansion, designed by Andrew Bromberg at Aedas, will redefine the downtown building as a 21st-century cultural hub complete with curved glass walls, a slatted stone roof enclosure, and an elevated garden level. Bromberg’s design marks a progressive change for the Francis Winspear Centre for Music, a space deeply rooted in community and public access. The Winspear Centre was completed in 1997 by Canadian architecture firm Dialog, providing a resounding answer to the long-standing question of the feasibility of placing a concert hall in Edmonton; over 60,000 people flocked to the Winspear’s 1,900-seat concert hall in its inaugural month. Dialog described the walls as “micro-textured to create outstanding reverberance and clarity,” adding to the Winspear Centre’s reputation for superb acoustics. Public enthusiasm for the Winspear has yet to fade, leading to the calls for expansion so that the center might better serve its community. The 98-foot-tall addition to the existing structure will create a new 550-seat concert hall called the Music Box, containing a unique hydraulic seating system with "the ability to transform from flat floor to raked to cabaret-style seating in minutes,” according to Adeas. On the ground level, additional rooms for public use as well as a daycare center and music library will boost the building’s function as a community resource. The glass atrium will open to an accessible elevated garden level, with additional shade provided by the overhanging slatted roof. Increased parking will be available both underground and at the street level. Construction on the project is scheduled to begin in January 2020 and conclude in 2021. A grand opening will occur in 2022 alongside the Winspear Centre’s 25th anniversary celebration.
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On June 13th the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) announced their choices for this years best tall buildings in the world. The CTBUH, an international not-for-profit association, picked four regional winners, including the Absolute Towers in Mississuaga, Canada for the Americas; 1 Blight Street, Sydney for Asia and Australia; Palzzo Lombardia, Milan, representing Europe; and Doha Tower, Doha, Qatar for the Middle East and Africa. These four buildings were recognized for making “an extraordinary contribution to the advancement of tall buildings and the urban environment, and for achieving sustainably at the broadest level,” according to a statement from the CTBUH. Additionally, the Al Bahar tower in Abu Dhabi won the first ever Innovation Award for its high-tech computerized sunshade. Together, these projects represent a global renaissance in the development of tall buildings, highlighting innovations in high design, big engineering, and groundbreaking green technologies. According to CTBUH, a record number of buildings over 200 meters were completed last year, with 88 in 2011 compared to 32 in 2005. 2012 will prove to be the biggest year yet for tall buildings, with 96 set to be completed. CTBUH will name the “Best Tall Building Worldwide” at their Annual Awards Ceremony at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Crown Hall on October 18th. Absolute Towers – Missisuaga, Ontario, Canada Tower 1: 589 feet. Tower 2: 529 feet. MAD Architects of Beijing brought a new sensuality to this fast growing Toronto suburb with a pair of curving condominium towers. While contributing to a growing trend of high-profile sinuous skyscrapers, including New York by Gehry, Chicago’s Aqua Tower, and the Capital Gate by RMJM Dubai in Abu Dhabi, the two Absolute Towers go above and beyond their contemporaries as the entire buildings twist and turn to achieve their naturalistic forms. Dubbed the “Marilyn Monroe towers” by locals for their voluptuous designs, the two structures are wrapped in balconies around the entire facade. “The building is sculpture-like in its overall effect,” said lead architect Ma Yansong, “and its design expresses the universal language of audacity, sensuality, and romance.” 1 Bligh Street – Sydney, Australia 507 feet Designed by Ingenhoven Architects of Germany and Australian firm Architectus, One Bligh Street is the most sustainable office tower in Australia and the first Australian tower honored by the CTBUH. Located in Sydney’s central business district, the elliptical building contains Australia’s tallest naturally ventilated skylight atrium, which extends the entire height of the structure allowing sunlight to pour into the interior and adding a sense of openness throughout. Cementing its place as a sustainability leader, One Bligh features a basement sewage plant which recycles 90% of the building’s waste water, a double skin façade with automated external louvers that adjust according to the sun’s location, and uses hybrid gas and solar energy for temperature control. Palazzo Lombardia – Milan, Italy 529 feet In the first Italian tower honored by CTBUH, Pei Cobb Freed and Partners have combined sleek design, sustainable technology, and a variety of public spaces in this fashionable mixed-use government center fit for the style capital of Europe. Built as the seat for the regional government offices of the Lombardy region, the complex integrates a thin office tower flanked by smaller 7- to 9-story curvilinear buildings that snake around its base. The shorter office “strands” house cultural, entertainment, and retail facilities and surround a series of interconnected public plazas and parks, the largest of which recalls Milan’s famous Galleria with its curved glass roof. The project makes use of its proximity to an underground river with geothermal heat pumps that cool and heat the buildings. Other ecological efforts include 7,000 square feet of green roofs, photovoltaic panels on the southern facade, and double-layer active climate walls containing rotating aluminum shading fins. Doha Tower – Doha, Qatar 780 feet Recalling his Torre Agbar in Barcelona, Jean Nouvel has constructed another interestingly-shaped tower, this time as an innovative and contextual landmark for the capital of Qatar. The Doha Tower is the first tall building to use reinforced concrete dia-grid columns in a cross shape, maximizing interior space by eliminating a central core. While its cylindrical, dome-topped shape is eye-catching enough, the tower really stands out for its complex, layered facade. Composed of a series of aluminum bris-soleils based on traditional Islamic geometric screens, or mashrabiyas, the building’s skin connects local vernacular designs to the extremely modern tower while providing shade for tenants and creating a rich exterior texture. Al Bahar Towers – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates 475 feet This pair of towers by Aedas Architects has been honored with the first-ever Innovation Award for their modern and technologically advanced take on the mashrabiya. While traditionally made of wood latticework, the sunscreen of the Al Bahar is made up of over 1,000 computerized umbrellas composed of Teflon-coated fiberglass mesh panes on triangular steel and aluminum frames. Powered by photovoltaic cells on the buildings’ roofs, these shades open and close as they respond to the sun, providing 80% shading and reducing solar gain by over 50% without resorting to visually impeding tinting. The scale of this highly dynamic skin has never been achieved before, demonstrating new levels of innovation within a contextual aesthetic framework.
Vishan Chakrabarti joins SHoP Architects as a partner, but will remain director of the Columbia Center for Urban Real Estate, a position he's held since 2009. Peter Schubert becomes a partner at Ennead Architects, where he'll be "enhancing international efforts"; Schubert was most recently at RMJM. Robert Allen Design appoints Kerry Galloway as their new vice president of contract sales. Galloway was formerly vice president, sales and marketing for Contract Décor International. In office expansion news, Aedas announces it plans to double the size of its London office (currently 80 staffers) in the next two years to keep pace with work in Russia and North Africa. Have news on movers and shakers in the architecture & design universe for SHFT+ALT+DEL? Send your tips to firstname.lastname@example.org!
It's been several weeks since our last visit to the World Trade Center site. On our return today we were taken with the manner in which different architects handle ventilation at the site. The most obvious example are the two large vent structures that protrude from the west side of the Memorial Plaza. The concrete buildings are a necessary solution to a complicated infrastructure problem. Davis Brody Bond (now Aedas) designed a mesh mask for the concrete structures and workers were putting the finishing touches on south building today. Snøhetta's Museum Pavilion also holds more than 13,000 square feet of mechanical functions, and it too must vent. In the last couple of weeks the protective plastic was pealed off building, and it appears that openings for vents merge into the metallic pattern on the south face of the building. But perhaps the most elegant solution we saw today came as a surprise. Tower 4 has been racing skyward for a while now; we noted the glass facing the plaza went up a few weeks ago. But it was a delight to see how Fumihiko Maki's vertical vents play off reflective glass panels on the buildings south face, bringing much needed light to a dark section of Liberty Street.
Vox populi. Complaining just got easier for neighborhood watchdogs in NYC. This week Mayor Bloomberg announced that building permits posted at construction sites will soon have QR (Quick Response) codes that can be scanned by smart phones. A wave of the wrist will bring up all the particulars of the construction site online and allow passers-by to report anything amiss or just find out more about project. More details about digitization of the buildings department on the mayor's website. Gardens grows. The Architect's Journal reports that Aedas, Glenn Howells, and Jestico + Whiles have been selected to design the replacement for Robin Hood Gardens housing complex in east London. The plan for the £500 million development includes the demolition of the early 1970s buildings designed by Alison and Peter Smithson. Midlife crisis. Owners of mid-century modern homes in Massachusetts are retrofitting aging residences designed by TAC and other firms, equipping them for the future and saving them from the wrecking ball in the process, writes Kathleen Burge in the Boston Globe. Before and after, epic version. Web Urbanist presents the rise of the modern metropolis through a series of eye-popping images. (Shenzen, China wins for most dramatic transformation, while New York 1954 and New York 2009 look eerily similar.)
Aye, those swashbucklin' pirates are at it again, matey! This time, though, they're not after gold, DVDs, or designer purses, but the identities of architects. The Guardian's Jonathan Glancey relates that Chinese firms posing as British officers of Aedas and Broadway Maylan have been pursuing bids with false information. He points out the dangers that such a development might entail for the profession and wonders if starchitects like Zaha Hadid could be the next victims. The troubling news broke recently in the British magazine Building, revealing the first two cases of archi-piracy. From the Guardian:
[A]t least two prominent British practices have been hit by a wave of identity theft at the hands of Chinese impostors, which have cloned their websites and submitted bids for building projects under their names... "They took information from our website and bid for projects. They had been submitting bids mainly for government projects before we found out."It seems like such a ruse would be difficult to carry out for long, but the point could be just to make a quick buck and get out. In the cases cited above, one Chinese identity thief was successfully prosecuted in China but the other disappeared without a trace. Glancey posits, "But will the web pirates begin to raid British practices with a higher design profile? If Aedas and Broadway Maylan, why not Foster and Partners and Zaha Hadid?" Aye, it's enough to make one tremble with schadenfreude, ain't it?[ Via Guardian, photo via John Picken / flickr. ]