Norwegian firm Arkitektgruppen Cubus AS has conjured up a subtle design intervention for a small stretch of Norway's fjord coastline. Located in Mo i Rana, a town North of the studio's Bergen headquarters, the plan reshapes portions of the waterfront through the placement of modular seating, shelters, and walkways. The components of the scheme are to be realized in steel and concrete that has long been-manufactured in the area. The stark, industrial aspects of the competition-winning proposal evoke the character of the region where the project will be built. These structures are to be installed directly on the coast and will require minimal interference to the natural landscape and native flora. The inland section of the plot is to be more heavily manicured in terms of vegetation, acting as a green buffer between sand and nearby gardens. A larger park space with paths, lawns, and lighting is planned for the southernmost tip of the waterfront. The choice of concrete and steel as materials suggests that the question of comfort might have played a secondary role to aesthetics in the design process. Yet the steel and concrete found in the plan are more than just a figurative nod to the manufacturing legacy of Mo i Rana as they also ensure that the entirety of the design will be crafted in nearby seafront factories. Beyond creating a new waterfront landscape, many of the structures also help combat erosion plaguing the town's sandy beaches. There is the thought that enterprising skiers and snowboarders might make creative use of the plan's metal rails and walkways come wintertime.
Posts tagged with "Concrete":
Chicago officials issued a demolition permit for Cuneo Memorial Hospital this week, dealing a blow to neighborhood activists and preservationists who have been fighting to save the curvy Uptown structure. Cuneo had made Preservation Chicago’s list of seven most endangered buildings in 2012. The Chicago Tribune's Ron Grossman reported Wednesday that some suspected Cuneo’s fate was predetermined:
John Holden, a member of the committee, said Cuneo's fate has gotten less than a "robust hearing." A developer who wanted to offer a plan to renovate and repurpose the building wasn't encouraged, according to Holden. "Cuneo deserves preservation, period," Holden said. "It's an important example of mid-20th-century modern architecture."The debate over Cuneo has drawn comparisons to another mid-century experimental hospital design: Old Prentice Women's Hospital. That Bertrand Goldberg building is currently under demolition by Northwestern University, who plans to build a research high-rise on the site. As for what awaits Chicago architect Edo J. Belli’s Cuneo, 46th Ward Ald. James Cappleman apparently endorses a developer’s plan to build a high rise on the site, where Montrose and Clarendon Avenues meet. Built in 1957, the first of the Cuneo buildings was one of the Illinois Institute of Technology graduate’s experiments with sculptural forms—a stroke against the grain of the Miesian rigidity that dominated IIT and much of Chicago architecture at the time. The building was closed in 1988, and used as a children's shelter for a few years after that. St. Joseph’s Hospital in Lincoln Park displays similar elements. (Read an extended interview with Edo Belli by the Art Institute of Chicago here.) Another building across Clarendon was built later, connected to the 1957 structure by a skywalk. Friends of Cuneo, a preservation group, floated a petition to save the hospital last fall, when demolition plans were first made public.
San Diego’s New Central Library, which opened earlier this fall, was a long time coming. The project has been in the works since at least 1971, when the first of 46 studies on the subject of a new library building was published. Rob Wellington Quigley, FAIA, who designed the $184.9 million structure with Tucker Sadler & Associates, came on board in 1995. Why did he stick with it so long, through budget problems and four site changes? “It’s in my backyard,” Quigley said. “It was just too important a project, culturally, to the city, and to all of us...though it was very difficult, economically, to withstand all the stops and starts.” The centerpiece of the New Central Library is its steel-mesh dome, which, Quigley explained, is actually a composite of eight three-point arches. “It’s all about buoyancy,” Quigley said. “It feels like it’s lifting off the building, as opposed to a traditional dome, which is weighing the building down. It’s sort of the anti-dome, really.” The dome’s steel-mesh sails serve both practical and symbolic ends. On a pragmatic level, the latticework protects the library’s collections from sun damage while allowing some natural light to filter through, mimicking the experience of reading under a shade tree. At the same time, the dome is a metaphor for self-improvement. “Visually the dome is not complete. It’s clearly in the act of becoming a dome, becoming something,” Quigley said. Quigley’s vision for the library remained remarkably consistent throughout its long gestation. The architect credits the residents of San Diego, who articulated their priorities in a series of public workshops. At the top of the list was their desire for an iconic building—hence the dome. The workshop attendees also asked for a formal reading room, in addition to the series of intimate work spaces favored by contemporary library programmers. “What the community understood is that reading rooms aren’t just about library science, they’re about community,” Quigley said. “The library is kind of the last bastion of equality: everyone’s equal, everyone can come, no ticket required.” The reading room and the library’s other public spaces—including a topiary sculpture court, auditorium, meeting room, and art gallery—are clustered at the top of the building. Typically, Quigley said, public areas are relegated to a library’s lowest floors, to facilitate access. But at the design workshops the architect organized, residents pointed out that rooftop views are usually restricted to those who can afford a penthouse apartment. “If an architect had suggested it, they probably would have revoked our license,” Quigley quipped. But the New Central Library wasn’t just the work of an architect. It was a product of decades of public debate and reflection, according to Quigley. “In my mind a building that does not function emotionally is not utilitarian. This is what we needed, permission from the grassroots,” he said.
If you live or work in one of LA's many older concrete buildings and happened to read the Los Angeles Times recent story, "Concrete Risks," your building, as swanky and detailed as it may be, may never be experienced in quite the same light. The report sounds the alarm on over 1,000 concrete buildings in the city and throughout the region that “may be at risk of collapsing in a major earthquake.” As the reporters note, starting in the 1920’s, the skyline of Los Angeles began to be defined by concrete buildings. “By the 1970s, canyons of concrete towers lined some of LA's most famous streets." Even buildings like the iconic Capitol Records tower could be at risk and urgently in need of seismic retrofitting. Other buildings range from seamstress factories downtown to condo towers along “Millionaires’ Mile” in Westwood. “Los Angeles officials have known about the dangers for more than 40 years but have failed to force owners to make their properties safer. The city has even rejected calls to make a list of concrete buildings,” the report asserts. City codes didn’t require more rebar until 1976. The future of such buildings in the city remains unclear. What is clear is that there are many at-risk buildings in need of seismic assessments and retrofits. A team of researchers from UC Berkeley, with backing from the National Science Foundation, has come up with a list. Because of liability issues this list was not made available, but the team did provide their conclusions. Such a list would help the city start addressing this problem, but it would take lot of political will, not to mention risk, for city leaders to take up the cause. According to the article, newly-elected mayor Eric Garcetti says he is interested in reviewing the issue.
If you walk down Fifth Avenue and 14th Street toward Union Square and notice a building under construction with crooked columns, don’t worry—it is not about to collapse. According to NBC New York, the SOM-designed New School University Center, previously detailed by AN, is raising eyebrows from the local community because some of its columns are slightly skewed. But it’s no mistake. “It's the most efficient way to carry all of the different structural loads of the building from the top of the foundation, " Joel Towers, Parsons The New School for Design dean told NBC. The New York City Department of Buildings has confirmed there are no safety issues with the project.
Two new projects prove that concrete's rigidity is no longer set in stoneFrom Peter Eisenman’s Berlin Holocaust Memorial to Paul Rudolph’s Art and Architecture building, concrete has been used with finesse in minimalist and brutalist structures and, as such, is mostly thought of as cold or aggressive. Two recent projects in Portugal and Norway are set to change our hard-edged opinion of concrete and show that it can be as fluid as a ribbon waving in the wind. Casa Xieira II, a private home in Leiria, Portugal, designed by A2 + Arquitectos, and the National Tourist Route Rv 889 Havøysund in northern Norway by Reiulf Ramstad Architects both feature winding concrete wrappers that stand out in sharp contrast to their surroundings, a factor that only becomes more important when your primary building material is as stark as concrete. Marco Guarda, an architect at A2 + Arquitectos, described the coastal, western Portuguese city of Leiria as distinguished by "loggers and mythical forests," a place where stone hasn't been featured prominently in construction since the Leiria Castle was built in 1135. In contrast, the smooth, curving walls of Casa Xieira II were created by pouring concrete into a formwork made from wooden planks so that the concrete would retain the wood grain once it dried. The wood grain texture is also A2 + Arquitectos' way of giving a nod to the surrounding forest and as well as to the homeowner, who works in the forestry sector. Before the concrete was poured it was dyed with titanium oxide powder, a readily available dye used in everything from beauty products to food. For Casa Xieira II, Guarda and his team chose a black powder to darken the concrete to a slate grey color that highlights the wood effect. After the concrete was mixed, workers poured it into the frame, vibrating it as they went in order to shake out any air pockets or uneven areas. Once the concrete had set the planks and braces were simply removed. For the Havøysund Tourist Route, which was just completed in June, Reiulf Ramstad Architects conducted extensive testing onsite at Selvika, a bay located along the route between Kokelv and Havøysund in Finnmark county, the northernmost area in Norway. Like A2 + Arquitectos, Ramstad also chose to emphasize the wood grain of their formwork, but instead of wide planks of wood they used narrow strips braced together tightly to make the winding effect as smooth as possible. By inserting sections of industrial pipes into the framework—leaving perfect circles when the concrete dried—portholes were created. It was a challenge to transport all the materials from the manufacturer in Alta, a town several hours away. Selvika is as remote as it looks and extremely cold. However, this factor is also, oddly enough, what makes it a popular destination for local events and is why the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (Vegvesen) went to the trouble of constructing an artful pathway that "invites visitors to experience this remarkable place and it's open, raw landscape."
Bachelorette Pad. This fall, Barbie is finally becoming an architect—and getting a new house—built with the latest sustainable materials. Mattel teamed up with AIA to host a competition to design Barbie’s new home and Ting Li and Maja Parklar's design for the Malibu Beach House took the top prize. Their design features a green roof, solar panels, bamboo flooring, and low VOC paints. More at Inhabitat. Cheating on the Test. In a major blow for public safety, the New York Post reported that American Standard Testing and Consulting Labs—the company responsible for testing the safety and strength of concrete in projects like LaGuardia Airport, the Lincoln Tunnel, and Yankee Stadium—faked concrete test results. DOB inspectors have begun conducting spot checks and the buildings were found safe. Transit Geography. Using Google Maps, Mapnificent illustrates how far public transportation users can go in a specified amount. While only available in major global cities, the maps allow users to calculate transportation times at two intersecting areas, highlighting possible travel distances. Now we can figure out exactly how far public transportation takes us in a New York minute. Hanging in There. Nasa’s Hangar One at Moffet Field in San Francisco—built in 1933 for the USS Macon Navy airship—was once the largest freestanding structure in the world, but funding to renovate the massive facility have fallen through according to Gizmodo. NASA is in the process of pursuing alternative reuse options for the historic modern landmark.
The citywide concrete crackdown continued yesterday as jurors delivered a guilty verdict against Testwell Laboratories and its owner, V. Reddy Kancharla, who were accused of falsifying concrete test reports for a range of high-profile projects including Yankee Stadium and the Freedom Tower. The question of whether Kancharla and his company committed the more serious charge of enterprise corruption, which carries a possible prison sentence of 25 years, is still being examined by the jury, according to the Times. Testwell's defense argued that the inaccuracies found in city-required concrete mix-design reports were nothing more than bookkeeping errors on their part. So far, none of the buildings that received fraudulent reports have been found to have structural concrete issues, but cosmetic cracks in pedestrian ramps at the new Yankee Stadium did require repair, and a lot of finger-pointing. In addition to the enterprise corruption charge, jurors will consider whether Testwell ran a scheme to defraud its customers when it falsified paperwork. To be sure that fraud of this nature is less likely in the future, the DOB established its own Concrete Unit last fall. In addition to conducting surprise visits to construction sites throughout the city, the unit operates an independent testing laboratory that completes its own reports and audits test results of private testing facilities. UPDATE: On February 24, Kancharla, Testwell vice president Vincent Barone, and the company itself were convicted of enterprise corruption. The Times reported that two days after last week's guilty verdict, Kancharla was briefly hospitalized after a suicide attempt. The defendants' sentencing hearing is planned for April 7.
This weekend, a lot of New Yorkers were fixated on Yankee Stadium, though for far different reasons than the Times, which paid the House That Ruth Didn't Build some overdue (or undue, if you're a Steinbrenner) attention. The biggest and most alarming story was that the vaunted stadium—the most expensive ever built in the U.S., in part thanks to questionable public financing—was cracking, particularly in the ramps, a troubling spot given all the foot traffic. It was revealed over a year ago that a faulty concrete tester was employed on the project, along with hundreds of others in the city, though it also turns out the mob was involved in pouring all that concrete. The Times' description is so matter of fact as to be breathtaking:
The ramps were built by a company accused of having links to the mob, and the concrete mix was designed and tested by a company under indictment on charges that it failed to perform some tests and falsified the results of others. But it is unclear whether work performed by either firm contributed to the deteriorating conditions of the ramps.Turns out the ramps are safe, according to a Department of Buildings inspection, but given recent revelations about the mob's infiltration of that city agency, we're glad we're Pittsburgh Pirates fans. Then again, maybe not. Elsewhere, About New York columnist Jim Dwyer took the team to task for not yet making good on its promise to replace the city park on which the new stadium sits with one on the site of the old one, forcing local Little Leaguers to travel as far as Staten Island for "home" games. Then again, part of the reason the Bronx Bombers could be dragging their heals is that preservationists are still fighting to keep part of the old Yankee Stadium intact at that new park, a facadist reminder to what once was. Or maybe all the mob contractors were too busy with other projects to get started on this one.
Yesterday, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau served an indictment against a dozen employees of a concrete inspection company, which the DA cited for improperly inspecting at least 102 buildings in the city in recent years. According to the Times' account, Testwell, of Ossinning, New York, was "the city's leading concrete-testing firm." AN picked up a copy of the indictment today, and how right the paper of record is. What is striking is the number and range of projects Testwell touched--or didn't, as the case may be. The Times notes three--the Freedom Tower, new Yankees Stadium, and the Gensler-designed Terminal 5 for Jet Blue--and adds that city officials believe all projects to be safe, though the quality of the concrete may be inferior and thus have a shorter lifespan. But the other 99 projects are not just faceless outer borough in-fill. 7 World Trade Center is there, as are a number of high profile projects, including Norman Foster's Hearst Building, Frank Gehry's Beekman Place tower, Polshek's Brooklyn Museum Expansion, FXFowle's One Bryant Park and 11 Times Square, KPF's Goldman Sachs HQ in Batter Park City, and the new Greek and Roman Gallery's at the Met by Beyer Blinder Belle. (The indictment [we've linked a PDF of the list below] lists the gallery as MoMA, but that can't be right. Not surprisingly, roughly half the projects are nondescript luxury condo projects--10 Barclay, 150 Lafeyette, 801 Amsterdam, Latitude Riverdale--not unlike the majority of construction work in the city during the recent boom. A number of government projects, big and small, local and federal, are listed, including Brooklyn Borough Hall, I.S. 303, Thurgood Marshall Federal Courthouse, as well as a number of collegiate buildings. Perhaps most unsettling, safe or otherwise, are the infrastructure projects the company worked on, such as the Second Avenue subway, New Rochelle MetroNorth station, and, scariest of all, the deck replacement of the Triborough Bridge. There are a few oddballs, too:the USS Intrepid's refurbished Pier 86, the Pier 90 cruise terminal, the massive Xanadu commercial complex at the Meadowlands. The Testwell 102