In Boston, local AEC industry professionals face a particular challenge: how to move forward while honoring the past. "Boston is a unique city in terms of architecture, and new versus old," said Ryan Salvas, Design Director at CW Keller & Associates and co-chair of the upcoming Facades+AM Boston symposium. Facades+AM, a quick-take version of the popular Facades+ conference series, makes its Beantown debut June 17. "There are a lot of forward-thinking academic programs in the area, but we also have, I would say, a very practical architecture base here," continued Salvas. "It's really about balancing historical references—and historical facades—but also looking forward to what's new." Now is an especially good time to talk about high performance building envelopes in Boston, said Salvas's co-chair, NADAAA principal Katherine Faulkner. "The city hasn't seen this much development, easily, in a century," she explained. "For Boston, it's been an exciting last five years. But one thing that's resulted is a lot of criticism—that the buildings are not inventive, not-forward thinking in terms of performance, that there's nothing indigenous [to the region]." Nine experts—including academics, designers, planners, developers, and municipal officials—will explore the upside of Boston's rapid transformation (as well as its particular challenges) in three presentation blocks at Facades+AM Boston. Each session is framed around an up-and-coming Boston-area neighborhood. The first, "The Seaport District Revisited," features presentations from CBT Architects' David Nagahiro, WS Development Associates' Richard Askin, and Utile Architecture & Planning's Tim Love. The second session, helmed by Mark Pasnick (over,under), David Carlson (Boston Redevelopment Authority), and Gerard Gutierrez (Sasaki Associates), shines a spotlight on "Facade and Regional Architecture," with special focus on the Dudley Square area. The final group of presenters, NADAAA's Nader Tehrani, Studio NYL's Christopher O'Hara, and Payette's Andrea Love, will zero in on "Boston's High Performance Skyline," especially in and around the tech hub of Kendall Square. In planning the symposium, the biggest challenge Salvas and Faulkner faced was not having too little to talk about—it was having too much. "Any one of these topics could take up a full morning on its own," admitted Faulkner. They nevertheless remain confident that the diversity of experiences represented by the panelists, in combination with the specificity of the sessions, will offer valuable insights to anyone interested in the aesthetics and pragmatics of high performance building envelopes. To learn more about Facades+AM Boston, visit the symposium website. Seating is extremely limited, so register today!
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Facades+, the premier conference on high performance building envelopes, stands out as an exception to the rule of generic meet-and-greets. The series delivers targeted information on and stimulates dialogue about specific, location-based issues in the fields of facade design, engineering, and fabrication. Facades+ attracts leading industry experts and sponsors for symposia and experiential activities, including workshops and/or field trips. This September, Facades+ makes its South Florida debut with Facades+ Miami. The conference kicks off September 10 with breakfast and check-in, followed by a welcome from co-chairs William Menking, AN's Editor-in-Chief, and John Stuart, Associate Dean for Cultural and Community Engagement at FIU College of Architecture. Between keynote addresses by Rojkind Arquitectos' Michel Rojkind ("Habitable Facade/Tactical Necessity) and Oppenheim Architecture + Design's Chad Oppenheim ("Harmonizing Facades to the Environment"), attendees will hear from speakers and panels on topics ranging from "Creative Facade Solutions: Responses to Local Zoning" to "Miami's Next Steps." Presenters include Vincent J. DeSimone, Founder/Chairman at DeSimone Consulting Engineers; Tecela Principal Andrew Frey; architecture critic and author Alastair Gordon; AIA Miami + Miami Center for Architecture & Design's Cheryl H. Jacobs; Rodolphe el-Khoury, Dean of the University of Miami School of Architecture; FIU College of Architecture's Marilys Nepomechie; Shulman + Associates Founding Principal Allan Shulman; and many more. In addition to earning 8 AIA HSW CEUs for attending the symposium, conference participants can register for one of two exclusive field trips (4 AIA HSW CEUs) on September 11. Both field trips depart from the new Pérez Art Museum Miami. The Downtown and Brickell tour, led by Allan Shulman, is sold out. The second field trip is led by Alastair Gordon and focuses on Miami Beach and the Design District, including the massive mixed-use Faena District. Faena District highlights include the Rem Koolhaas/OMA-designed Faena Forum and Foster + Partners' Faena House. The tour will also make stops at or drive by new and retrofitted Miami Beach resorts as well as high-end retail destinations in the Design District designed by David Chipperfield, Sou Fujimoto, and René Gonzalez. Register today for Facades+ Miami, a one-of-a-kind chance to dig deep into the triumphs and tribulations of designing and building facades for South Florida and beyond.
For Kristopher Stuart, design director and principal at Gensler, Houston's rapid evolution is exactly what makes practicing architecture there exciting."Houston is a city of change and a great testing ground for new ideas," he said. "The past decade has been particularly robust for design and construction, so we've developed some excellent benchmark projects representing the current state-of-the-art for facade design. The new projects focus on sustainability and resilience with our often extreme local weather in mind; wellness and connectivity that improve the quality of life for people; and performance and innovation that make buildings smarter, more efficient and more cost effective for owners and managers." Next month, Stuart will co-chair Facades+AM Houston, a half-day version of the acclaimed Facades+ conference series. The morning seminar comprises three panels featuring three experts each on topics relevant to AEC industry professionals, observers, and students in Houston and beyond. The June 18 event marks the symposium's Energy City debut. Facades+AM Houston attendees will not have to look far to find examples of innovative envelope design and construction. Stuart cited several recently-completed projects in the city's "energy corridor," plus high performance buildings for Anadarko, ExxonMobile, and Southwestern Energy north of downtown. Downtown, construction is presently underway on Skanska's Capitol Tower and 609 Main, developed by Hines. "It will be exciting to see this next generation of buildings emerge, iconic buildings that will raise the performance bar while enhancing the human experience within the urban environment," Stuart noted. He also pointed to some of the Midway Companies' recent or planned work including CityCentre and Kirby Grove, describing them as "more contextual, urban infill projects that are looking at facades from an experiential as well as a performance perspective, projects that will impact the way we think about facades in the Houston design community." In Stuart's view, Houston's challenging climate has pushed the local AEC industry to a deeper understanding of how design decisions affect performance. The community has also been successful in cultivating relationships with facades consultants and fabricators to execute efficient envelopes. "One might say that we've mastered the basics, and now need to shift our focus to innovative materials and fabrication techniques as well as unique collaboration relationships in order to achieve more dramatic performance enhancements that will be executable and affordable," he said. Stuart looks forward to the June 18 conversation with other movers and shakers in the field of high performance envelope design. "Facades+AM Houston is a unique opportunity to share some outstanding work that has been executed recently either in Houston or by Houston design firms, to hear about facade innovations from academic and industry experts, and to engage in a conversation about the future of building facades in the Houston market," said Stuart. To learn more or to register for Facades+AM Houston, visit the event website.
They say "everything is bigger in Texas." So it goes for Houston's skyline, the fourth largest in the United States. Big, too, are the names behind Space City's most iconic skyscrapers. The city's tallest, the 75-story JPMorgan Chasetower, was designed by I.M. Pei in 1981. A number of other internationally-renowned architects and firms have left their mark on Houston, including César Pelli, Philip Johnson, Robert A.M. Stern, Renzo Piano, SOM, and Gensler. Today, Texas' most populous city is home to TEX-FAB, a network of academics and practitioners pushing the boundaries of computational fabrication. On the urban front, Houston is making strides away from its car-centric past. The city's light rail system, MetroRail, opened in 2004; in 2013, Mayor Annise Parker issued an executive order outlining a Complete Streets policy. Last year, Mayor Parker directed the planning commission to create a General Plan—the first in Houston's history—with a special focus on walkability. And if a panel of advisers from the Urban Land Institute have their way, the disused Houston Astrodome could be transformed into a massive public park in time for 2017's Super Bowl LI. Both Houston's architectural legacy and its potential for urban transformation make it a natural fit for Facades+AM, the quick-take version of the popular Facades+ conference series on high performance envelope design and fabrication. On June 18, AEC industry leaders will convene at the historic Hotel Icon (formerly the Union National Bank, designed in 1911 by Mauran, Russell & Crowell) for a look at the latest developments in the world of building enclosures. Chaired by Gensler's Kristopher Stuart, the half-day event will feature three sessions with three speakers each, to conclude by 12:30 pm. Register for Facades+AM Houston or learn more at the symposium website. Check back frequently for updates on presenters and panel topics.
From March 28-April 1, the Design Build Institute of America (DBIA) held a two-in-one conference for Transportation and Water/Wastewater in Kansas City, Missouri. Unfortunately, like many conferences, this one was attended more for it’s offering of mandatory Continuing Education Credits (CEU) than for anything else. Sure, it provided updates on Design-Build contracts, best practices, awards, and time for networking, but there was little innovation or excitement in the actual practice of design-build, especially with a focus on building highways, bridges, and wastewater treatment plants. Interestingly, attendees at the Water/Wastewater Conference skewed female while the Transportation Conference was male-dominated (mostly middle-aged white male engineers). And while the diversity of the crowd may have been lacking, the message remained constant: design-build is better than design-bid-build or any other contracting method because it saves money and time and there is one singular responsible entity. But I overheard several comments that, as a professional city and regional planner, made me cringed: eager student volunteers exclaiming how cool it would be to design freeways; an engineering touted his "innovative" approach to storm-water management at the construction site of a bridge--digging a big hole and filling it with gravel so trucks could drive across in lieu of the standard retention pond. A project manager for a bridge in Louisiana still to this day couldn’t figure out how 10 box culverts would allow bears to pass through. Several conference sessions focused on sustainability, LEED, and “going green,” at least in name. After days of working through session after session, I had high hopes for “Going Green in the Water and Wastewater Industry.” This session was an overview of a project in Maryland for the US Navy, which was required to be LEED Silver. Since the design-build model encourages “communication, collaboration, and cooperation among all stakeholders early on,” it facilitates LEED certification and going green, explained Joe Kantor of the Haskell Company. In the end, the project could only obtain LEED certification for the administration building and install “Sustainability Measures” in the mechanical buildings because, well, the LEED system just doesn’t cover municipal infrastructure facilities very well. The best session by far was the joint session by “Money Man” Chris Butler of Butler, Lanz & Wagler Investments. In these economic times he said what everyone in the room was hoping to hear, in spite of federal Reinvestment Act money tapering off and continued State and municipal budget tightening: “I would anticipate 18 months to two years of continued growth based on the latest leading indicators”--welcome news to an industry that can design and then build projects 30 percent faster than any competing approach.
If you couldn't make it out San Francisco for the AIA Convention this weekend (if you did, be sure to say hi to Sam and the rest of the gang), don't fret. The Institute has been kind enough to set up streaming video of many of the lectures and events, and you can even earn credits for it. Sure, you'll miss all the fun after-parties, like our own, but it also beats flying coach.