Posts tagged with "Florida":

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Florida garage adds new twist to stainless steel mesh facades

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Garages are fairly ubiquitous across Florida—the state has one of the highest car ownership rates in the country—but in recent years, the local typology has received a bit of a revamp. Opened in February 2019, Sarasota's St. Armands Circle Garage continues this trend with a spiraling stainless steel mesh skin. The $12 million project was designed by Sarasota-based Solstice Planning and Architecture and rises to a height of three stories to accommodate 480 spaces.
  • Facade Manufacturer Cambridge Architectural
  • Architects Solstice Architecture & Planning
  • Facade Installer L&S Erectors
  • Location Sarasota, Florida
  • Date of Completion February 2019
  • System Stainless steel mesh screen
  • Products Cambridge Architectural Volution mesh
The facade is clad with a total of 520 spiraling panels, with the majority measuring 1-foot wide by 20-feet tall. Encompassing over 9,000 linear feet of mesh, the panels are held together by 250,000 individual welds completed by hand by manufacturer Cambridge Architectural's fabrication team. Located on Florida's Gulf Coast, the project is prone to major hurricane winds during summer and fall. "In Sarasota we had to consider winds up to 50 percent higher than are common on most projects, so each of our system components required more custom design and manufacturing to account for extra wind load transfer," said Cambridge Architectural business director David Zeitlin. "In addition, there needed to be close collaboration with the structural engineering team on an ongoing basis to ensure proper integration into the garage, and together that the project met industry standards." To achieve the spiraling character of the panel, Cambridge Architectural and the installer L&S Erectors collaborated closely. Firstly, the mesh was welded to a series of base plates at Cambridge's manufacturing facility in Cambridge, Maryland. Once welded, the panels were shipped to the project site in Florida. As the concrete garage was poured, the construction team embedded mounting channels from the second to third stories. The plates at the end of each panel were then bolted to the channels and twisted into their distinctive shape on site.
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Is Windsor, Florida, peak New Urbanism?

The drive out to the luxury community of Windsor, Florida, feels like passing through worlds. Asphalt unfurls relentlessly across the state’s swampy underbelly, past RV towns, cattle ranches, deactivated power plants, and unending rows of orange trees with workers harvesting fruit in the midday sun. Birds of prey circle down on blistered fields and the smell of wood smoke hangs in the humid air, even as Smokey the Bear insists, sign after sign, that fire levels are at a minimum. Luxury rodeos and casino joints start cropping just east of Osceola County, where I’m greeted by the spectacular sight of Yeehaw Junction—a chaotic trucker spot just off the Florida Turnpike that looks exactly like it sounds. 18-wheelers piled high with citrus barrels cross the intersection, horns blaring, loose oranges falling akimbo. As the miles keep coming, Florida continues to oscillate between unfathomable affluence and destitute poverty. On the bridge to Orchid Island, the McMansions emerge all at once. Orchid, the town next to Windsor, boasts the ninth highest income in America; it’s also the only town I’ve ever knowingly been to that is 100 percent white. All 450 of its residents must have been somewhere else that day (perhaps their real homes), because it seems completely empty. Finally, the serif script sign announcing Windsor Club appears and I veer left into a grove of oak trees. I learn later that oak is a favorite motif of Hilary Weston, one half of the couple behind Windsor. The Westons’ Canadian empire dates back to the late 19th century, beginning with a bread factory that ballooned into an international food processing and distribution conglomerate; the couple now has a combined net worth in the billions. Just like Windsor’s host state, the Westons’ companies cover the whole socio-economic spectrum, ranging from luxury department store Selfridges to Primark, the U.K. equivalent of Walmart. Founded in 1989, Windsor intends to “combine yesterday’s charm with modern comforts and the vision of tomorrow.” Having encountered the land in its elemental state—mangrove bushes straddling the ocean and dirt paths through overgrown forests—the Westons wanted to develop the future community of Windsor in a way that honored the intrinsic purity of the landscape. They called upon Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, co-founders of the New Urbanist movement, an urban planning ideology that stresses walkable, compact cities with a consistent architectural style. Later made (in)famous by the New Urbanist Floridian towns of Seaside and Celebration—the former starring in the The Truman Show (1999) and the latter, originally developed by Walt Disney in the 1990s, sustaining a series of grisly murders—New Urbanism developed a particular association in the Sunshine State with repressed resort towns where the darker truths of American culture fester underneath a cheery veneer. For all of Duany’s and Plater-Zyberk’s efforts at Windsor, the result is much the same. A meticulously maintained community that offers endless amenities to its guests—a shooting range, art gallery, tennis courts, equestrian trails, croquet, and beach club among them—it appears largely empty during my visit. As a result, Windsor seems to remain suspended somewhere between a false utopia and a luxury ghost town. A large white picket fence by British artist Michael Craig-Martin stands proud in the lawn between the oaks and the reception, seemingly winking to its context. Candy-colored umbrellas, stilettos, a shovel, and a wheelbarrow make their appearances around the club’s 500-acre expanse as part of Craig-Martin’s solo exhibition at The Gallery, Windsor’s in-house art space. The second installment of a three-year, three-show collaboration with the Royal Academy, it seems the initiative may have helped pique interest in Windsor—membership numbers are reaching an all-time high. Admission to the Cult of Windsor doesn’t come cheap: golf equity memberships are a cool $200,000, while social membership dues rack up at $14,858 annually—all of which is practically pocket change if you can afford the costs of building your own mansion. Homesites begin at $625,000 and go up to $4,200,000 for waterfront lots. Although residents are free to choose their own architects they must use Windsor’s builders to ensure total compliance with the Windsor Code: a strict handbook conceived by Duany and Plater-Zyberk that delineates the permitted architectural styles, from building thickness and height to approved pastels and the types of perennials you’re allowed to plant. New Urbanism spits venom at cars, which its acolytes blame for almost single-handedly ruining cities; Windsor follows suit with modified regulations, permitting the gratuitous use of golf carts (though during my visit, I see more range rovers than residents). First up on our golf cart tour is the Town Hall. Built in 1999 and designed by the Luxembourgish architect, New Urbanist convert, and devout defender of Nazi architecture, Léon Krier, it’s easily the wackiest building here. A classic PoMo case of proportion mash-up, its large triangular pediment embellished with small geometric cutouts. They run down its long side, where chunky columns are intermixed with fortress-like doors painted eggshell blue. With a dramatic pitched roof that soars high above its vanilla surrounds, the building exudes a mystical aura only brought back to its context by the Mercedes-Benz parked outside. The doors of the hall are flung open to reveal rows of empty seats; a row of more homely fold-out wooden chairs flanks the entrance, while a giant glitzy obelisk stands proudly at the altar. It’s unclear whether there will be any takers for today’s sermon. Next up is the Equestrian Centre, where I’m greeted by the forlorn faces of a dozen horses in Windsor’s 26-stable barn. In addition to storage and care for the horses while their seasonal owners are elsewhere, the Centre also offers a 170-yard-long multi-purpose stick and ball field and full-sized polo field for exhibition matches. Carrying on to the clubhouse, the scent of jasmine wafts up from the eight Stan Smith–designed Har-Tru™ tennis courts. I arrive to see two seniors shake hands at the net and migrate to the patio, Diet Cokes in hand; it’s startling to see real humans actually use the facilities at Windsor, and for a moment this scene breaks the overwhelming impression that Windsor is little more than an elaborate stage set, a pretty piggy bank in which international business moguls can store their cash. At the Clubhouse’s bar, a bowl of mixed nuts remains out for the ghost nibbler, while the TV blares for no one in particular. The Gallery is upstairs, where Michael Craig-Martin’s graphic 2D works hold their own in a relatively unremarkable space that feels shockingly squished, given the amount of real estate on offer. I head out to the second-floor balcony overlooking the 18-hole golf course—a sumptuous landscape known rather incredibly to members as “Windsor’s Serengeti.” I turn back to face the tinted glass doors of the gallery—Craig-Martin’s sunglass paintings coolly deflecting their context, but still sitting complicit in this parallel universe—and the true insanity of this place comes full circle. Our final stop is the Beach Club—another Anglo-Caribbean style structure built in 1994, it’s recently undergone a vibrant facelift courtesy of the local designer Rod Mickley. In the new Lodge, a dozen handymen are busy setting up for the night’s fundraising gala. Returning to the newly remodeled reception, it’s intensely-perfumed interiors prove overwhelming. Stumbling out into the Village Centre designed by Scott Merrill, I fall into its proverbial small town embrace: a Village Store, a real estate office, concierge, post office, gym, and a cafe where residents can catch up over a coffee or pick up fresh produce. Even though it’s totally deserted during my visit (save for one member on a treadmill), this is the closest Windsor gets to feeling like a community. Outside, the synthetic lawn, shell-infused concrete, and the Exedra—a semicircular amphitheater used for concerts that bears traces of Arcosanti’s bell workshop—bear traces of Windsor’s aspirational New Urbanist roots. Surrounded by a semicircle of spindly palms that rival L.A., it’s here I realize once and for all the movement is best relinquished to this elitist country club. “New Urbanism has not evolved so much since Windsor, but it has evolved towards Windsor,” Duany has since reflected on the project, as if confirming that the teachings of the movement are more aptly suited for a luxury resort rather than any real city. Crossing its virtually uninhabited expanse, one gets the sense Windsor’s days are numbered, threatened more by rising sea levels than credit defaults. Until then, it remains a peculiar relic of aspirational urban planning, bloated and malformed into a gross excess by all the investment capital stowed away in Florida—because where else would take it?
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Foster + Partners renovates the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach

At the reopening of the renovated Norton Museum of Art earlier this month, Norman Foster revealed his two points of inspiration for the project: an existing banyan fig tree and Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen's Typewriter Eraser, Scale X sculpture from 1999. Both elements were crucial to the architect’s intuitive redesign and reorientation of the museum’s entrance. The new west-facing forecourt features a 43-foot-high metal canopy with a scalloped cutout that cuts around the towering tree. Within the shaded hollow the overhang creates, an embedded reflecting pool surrounds the massive sculpture. This careful approach carries through the entire project. Rather than create another statement-piece museum where the architecture steals the show, Foster + Partners opted for a contextual approach that spotlights the Norton's vast collection. Adding over 12,000 square feet to the original 1941 Art Deco building, the firm introduced a 210-seat auditorium, the museum’s first restaurant, and additional gallery spaces. Major extensions include the new 3,600-square-foot, double-height Ruth and Carl Shapiro Great Hall, featuring a unique concave skylight. The 150-foot-long, glass-walled Ira and Nicki Harris Family Gallery extends from the former south-facing entrance. This addition flanks a covered promenade and a new sculpture garden. Occupying what was originally the Norton Museum of Art’s main 20,000-square-foot parking lot, the green space is Foster’s first ever public landscape project. The sculpture garden divides into two curated "rooms." Native plant species were spread throughout to highlight the museum’s subtropical surroundings. Foster + Partners' renovation blends new and old components with a minimalistic, all white, stone facade. The firm also restored the museum’s existing galleries and six historic artist residence homes, located nearby. The redesign champions historic architectural detailing while also introducing large light-filled voids. The overall reprogramming of the space mirrors the Norton Museum of Art’s curatorial vision; some of the museum's key historical collections are dispersed between temporary shows. The museum places emphasis on exhibiting female, African-American, and living artists. The Norton Museum of Art officially reopened on February 9. This unveiling is only the first milestone in a 20-year masterplan that Foster + Partners has conceived for the museum.
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Louis Kahn's floating concert hall finds a permanent home in Palm Beach County

Don’t count out Louis Kahn’s floating concert hall just yet. The 42-year-old Point Counterpoint II has found a new life in Florida, only a year after fears were raised that the boat might have to be scuttled. Although the speed of the 195-foot-long, 38-foot-wide boat tops out at a measly six to eight knots, the seagoing vessel has still managed to perform all over the world. The Point Counterpoint II lies flat, a stark departure from Kahn’s distinctive use of striking geometric forms in his buildings, but also includes a hydraulic-powered steel cover capable of rising 25 feet into the air, topping the barge with a center stage. The American Wind Symphony Orchestra (AWSO), founded in 1957 by Robert Austin Boudreau, has called Kahn’s maritime arts center home since 1976. Kahn and Boudreau were personal friends and discussed replacing the first Point Counterpoint (a repurposed barge incapable of independent movement) throughout the 1960s. The resulting Point Counterpoint II, designed by Kahn, eventually set sail in 1976 for a 76-city tour as excitement for the Bicentennial was reaching a fever pitch—two years after Kahn’s death in 1974. By AWSO’s 2017 tour, 91-year-old Boudreau had been looking to step down as director for some time, and without a successor lined up, he put the boat on the market. Following a bidding war to lure the boat to a new permanent home between the city of Kingston in upstate New York and a private entity in Florida, the concert hall went to the latter and has since been brought to Lake Okeechobee in Palm Beach County. Boudreau blames the high cost of towing the boat up to the Great Lakes to get to Kingston in part for his selection of the Florida bidder, claiming that it would have cost over a $100,000 to comply with the Coast Guard’s regulations. In Boudreau’s view, if the boat isn’t serving the community, it might as well be scrapped. That’s part of the reason that Point Counterpoint II will become a center for music education for local children, including those from Pahokee, one of the poorest communities in Florida. For Boudreau, who grew up on a chicken farm in Massachusetts during the Great Depression, a music scholarship was his ticket to college, and now he hopes to guide hundreds of students out of poverty and into college through music in much the same way. But maintaining the educational programming aboard Point Counterpoint II will require fundraising. This year, Boudreau has pledged $50,000 from his own pocket to kickstart an endowment. He acknowledges that he won’t be around forever, and so the maestro is looking to raise $1 million to make sure that Point Counterpoint II will continue to live on as a public institution.
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University of Miami School of Architecture completes its new concrete studio

The University of Miami School of Architecture has added a concrete home for design research and collaboration to the institution’s Coral Gables campus. Designed by Arquitectonica, the 20,000-square-foot Thomas P. Murphy Design Studio features a new digital fabrication lab and ample collaborative space. It’s the first construction completed on the site in the past decade. The project broke ground in October 2015 and opened to students this fall semester. Located on the edge of the campus, the stark structure stands out among a swath of palm trees and nearby boxy buildings. Though it may look dramatic, its design centers on a simple geometry, according to Arquitectonica principal Raymond Fort. It’s a single, oversized shed featuring two main materials and a southern sloping edge that blocks harsh sunlight while aligning the building with Southern Florida’s modernist architectural style. “Even though the forms appear to be expressive, we wanted to keep it as simple as we could with the components of the architecture visible,” he said. “The 25-foot cantilever curves at the bottom to address the portico of the nearby Perez Architecture Center, designed by Leon Krier, which is the center of the architecture campus.” From the exterior, Arquitectonica’s dynamic design studio looks sleek and shaded. But inside, loads of daylight seep into the structure through glass window walls, and an exposed ceiling showcasing the building’s mechanical elements gives away its structure. The open plan studio is designed around a 25-foot square module that allows up to 120 students to rearrange workstations as they see fit. For private meetings, juried critiques, and seminars, students can utilize scattered cubes with glass walls or curtains running through the center of the nave-like space.  Showing off the structure’s core through a transparent layout was a deliberate design decision—one that was lauded by both the students and the university administration. Previously, students were confined to cramped studio space within the old, Marion Manly–designed buildings, which were originally built to house returning veterans from World War II. Arquitectonica envisioned a modern and industrial open plan for the Thomas P. Murphy Design Studio to directly fix the spatial constraints architecture students faced within the old facilities. While each of the school’s buildings features one-of-a-kind designs, none brought together studio space under a single roof. “It complements the school’s constellation of buildings that constitute a campus-within-the-campus,” said Dean Rodolphe el-Khoury in a statement. “The vast studio space designed to enhance co-creation and the digital fabrication lab, among several other features, are welcome additions to our beloved historic and award-winning facilities.” Not only was the structure designed to elevate the students’ daily experience, it was built to serve as a teaching tool by showcasing the basics of modern design, construction, and sustainability. It can operate during the day without any artificial light thanks to the 18-foot-high hurricane resistant glass panels and remain cool at night due to the large envelope of thin concrete covering the interior. These materials ensure the project will remain durable for years to come. An official dedication ceremony for the Thomas P. Murphy Design Studio, named after the late father of Coastal Construction CEO and President Tom Murphy, Jr., will be held on November 29.
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Fort Lauderdale complex proves prefab affordable housing can bring the glamour

Downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida, will be home to a new affordable housing unit as part of the collaborative work between Glavovic Studio and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), an organization that delivers medical care and services dealing with HIV/AIDS to over one million people worldwide. Fort Lauderdale–based Glavovic Studio plans to transform one-and-a-half city blocks into a green, multi-functional neighborhood for locals to enjoy, all within walking distance of South Florida’s New River. The 3.4-acre design concept called “ON3RD” strives to tackle the nation’s affordable housing and homeless crises by providing fast access to cheap and environmentally friendly housing for low-income individuals. The “affordable residential development campus” will contain a 15-story residential tower, parking garage, and two preexisting service buildings owned by AHF. With the growing number of workers and residents in the area, as well as the steady increase of homelessness generally in the United States, there has been a rising demand for pedestrian and transit-friendly environments in downtown Fort Lauderdale, especially those that incorporate greenery, support infrastructure, and urban open space. Glavovic Studio sought to create a community that reflects the existing fabric of Fort Lauderdale, sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Everglades. The firm made sure to include multiple landscaped plazas, terraces, and micro-gardens in the site plan, contributing to the idea of a wholesome, walkable, urban space. While the housing units are designed to tie in seamlessly with the existing fabric of the city, its various zones and neighborhoods will provide visitors with a sense of being in a “city within a city.” The L-shaped residential building that serves as the focal point of the site will house 680 modular micro-apartments, including 260-square-foot-units and 400-square-foot-townhomes on its first four floors. These unit types were chosen primarily because they can be built efficiently using basic construction methods, and they include prefabricated interior bathrooms and kitchens, repeated window wall systems, and standard floor plates, all of which can be built off-site and installed into the building with ease. To diminish the building’s massive scale, its protruding balconies fluctuate at various angles to make it seem as though the structure is composed of a series of interconnected, smaller buildings. Glavovic Studio, which views sustainability as a core part of its philosophy, will layer the building with decorative masonry breeze blocks, which will not only give the structure a sense of texture and depth, but also regulate its exposure to sun and shadow in order to provide each unit with an abundance of shading and cooling. Because the breeze blocks will reduce the need for air conditioning systems, they will save energy and drastically lower the monthly electric bills for the residents. The jutting balconies provide shade and further lower the room temperatures of each unit, a necessary feature for South Florida's hot and muggy climate. “Working with AHF, we have looked far beyond architectural solutions to include political, social, and strategic approaches as well, including community partners and the public on affordable housing issues,” stated Margi Nothard, founder of Glavovic Studio, in a statement. “The ultimate goal is to create a model for a sustainable, economically viable and dignified solution to this entrenched problem.”
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Weiss/Manfredi to revitalize a Florida cultural hub after hurricane devastation

Last year, Hurricane Irma’s devastation wrapped around the state of Florida, causing irreparable damage to structures across every coastal community. The Baker Museum, part of one of Southwest Florida’s youngest yet most-revered cultural institutions, Artis—Naples, suffered so much water intrusion that it’s been closed temporarily since September 6, 2017. Today, Weiss/Manfredi unveiled a new master plan to revitalize the Naples campus, starting with the repair and expansion of the hard-hit Baker Museum. Through a $150 million campaign backed by the Artis—Naples board of directors, the New York–based firm aims to boost resiliency on the site while enhancing the natural beauty of its tropical location. The design will additionally help create a dialogue between the institution’s growing visual and performing arts programs, and bring a cohesive, inviting atmosphere to the 8.5-acre space. “Though Naples is largely considered an elite community,” said Michael Manfredi, co-founder and principal of Weiss/Manfredi, “this project targets not only folks that are sophisticated in the arts, but a whole host of people, especially younger kids, who don’t have the benefit of fantastic educations, and are in adjacent communities that aren’t economically privileged. They’re the ones who are hit hardest by any kind of devastation, whether it’s natural or manmade. There is a strong sense from Artis—Naples of wanting to be part of this larger community.” For the last 18 years, The Baker Museum has housed Artis—Naples’s diverse collection of art in a three-story, 30,000-square-foot facility. An opaque, fortress-like structure, the building featured a glass, dome-shaped conservatory protruding into the west side plaza until the hurricane damaged it beyond repair. To the design team, as well as leadership at Artis—Naples, the museum’s destruction was seen as an opportunity to jump-start plans for a reimagined campus, one that would revamp the formerly dark building by bringing light and life to it, while simultaneously opening up its programs to the public in a new way. “The hurricane forced us to think about what we could do quickly that would bring the museum back online and start to incorporate the institution’s performing arts programs,” said Weiss. “Additionally, the goal of the master plan and the goal of the future Artis—Naples is to communicate that art shouldn’t be experienced behind closed doors, or be shown to the people who can afford to come through those doors. We wanted the transformation to express a more open and welcoming place.” Part of conveying that message includes a 17,000-square-foot expansion of The Baker Museum to the south, complete with three flexible spaces for performing, rehearsing, and receptions. A box within the southern facade will be cut out to reveal event space on the second floor, while a glass wall on the lower level will allow passersby to see activity inside. Atop this end of the elongated structure will be an outdoor sculpture terrace. The stone cladding itself will be made much more resilient and a scalloped metal design will be constructed along the western exterior wall to act as a rain screen. Kathleen van Bergen, CEO and President of Artis—Naples, said Weiss/Manfredi’s original master plan for the site was unanimously chosen back in August 2017, a month before Hurricane Irma came to shore. Though The Baker Museum didn’t need desperate help at the time, the goal was always to bring all of the art programs at Artis—Naples under a singular and strong design.  “Artis—Naples is a pillar of this community,” van Bergen said. “It was once largely a fishing village and now it’s a cultural village. We’re quite different from other organizations that are 100 years old or more because we envelop all of our programmings under one overarching leadership, which gives us the opportunity to synthesize the arts in a way that hasn’t been done before.” Artis—Naples will turn 30 years old in 2019. With robust programs in film, dance, music, and visual art, visitors will be given a multidisciplinary experience when they step onto the new campus. The thousands of schoolchildren who visit each year, as well as the near-800 events that are held on site, half of which are free, speak to the institution’s commitment to providing a welcome environment for people of all backgrounds to be inspired by both nature and art, according to van Bergen. Construction on The Baker Museum is set to begin immediately and it's expected to open in November of next year. Phase one of the master plan will also include the build-out of a new garden and courtyard between The Baker Museum and Hayes Hall, the institution’s 1,477-seat performing arts venue and home of the Naples Philharmonic. A lush and spacious plaza will link the two buildings and encourage social engagement outside of the main structures. Future phases of construction will include Weiss/Manfredi’s plan for raising the site on its southern end by creating an elevated plinth where additional venues will be built out and connected to the Baker Museum and Hayes Hall.
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Sasaki's plan for a "Central Park" in Florida soaks up brownfield toxins

Sasaki has designed a 180-acre masterplan in Central Florida for what it's calling the “Central Park of Lakeland.” Bonnet Springs Park, situated between Tampa and Orlando, is set to become a major cultural magnet and an ecological jewel of landscape design in the state. The massive site, which is being privately funded by a pair of local philanthropists, has sat vacant for over 30 years and gone through numerous attempts to reuse it. Now, the over-100-year-old former rail yard is being officially transformed with a vision from the Boston-based planning and design consultancy. By restoring the site's natural ecosystems and removing any harmful contaminants from its days as an industrial throughway, Sasaki will revitalize the land into a mega-park that’s safe for all ages. Because 84 acres of the abandoned brownfield contain arsenic and petroleum hydrocarbons, the team plans to stockpile the toxic materials into large, undulating hills, completely altering the land's topography. The architects will also remove invasive exotic plants and construct wetlands and bioswales to treat stormwater runoff. Four new buildings will also be constructed for the park, including the “Bridge Building,” which will be set between two man-made hills and house a children’s museum. Overlooking Lake Bonnet, a nature center will feature classrooms, an exhibitions space, a café, and a boat rental facility so visitors can learn more about the parkland and the freshwater lake itself. An events center and welcome center will additionally be built out for weddings, corporate events, and other large-scale gatherings. An extensive network of walking and biking trails, as well as a sculpture garden and canopy walk will be incorporated into the park’s design as well. This huge community undertaking, backed by a 20-person advisory committee of local advocates, underscores the town's collective dedication to its fast-growing population by providing a new connection to nature and play. Sasaki and the Bonnet Springs Park Board aim for construction completion in 2020.
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Federal government shuts down self-driving school bus program in Florida

The dreams of a fully autonomous school bus are on hold for a little while longer, at least in Babcock Ranch, Florida. On October 19, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ordered a complete halt to the self-driving school bus program in the Florida town, which had been transporting kids to-and-from school along a three-block stretch. Transdev North America had been operating the Easy Mile EZ10 Gen II shuttle as part of a two-month pilot program within the fully solar-powered, tech-forward community. The shuttle, which seats 12 and included a human supervisor ready to take over in case the “bus” encountered an unexpected obstacle, has a top speed of 8-miles-per-hour and was programmed to brake automatically. The bus was just one part of Transdev’s initiative to launch a network of autonomous shuttles (AVs) across North America, with Babcock Ranch as a testing ground. While the shuttle never picked up more than five students at a time, only operated one day a week during the five-week trial period, and only picked up and dropped off passengers in designated areas, the NHTSA didn’t mince words, calling the shuttle “unlawful.” According to the NHTSA, Transdev had only been granted permission to import their shuttles as demonstration vehicles and not to transport children. "Innovation must not come at the risk of public safety," said Heidi King, NHTSA Deputy Administrator, in a press release.  "Using a non-compliant test vehicle to transport children is irresponsible, inappropriate, and in direct violation of the terms of Transdev’s approved test project." While the NHTSA claims it wasn't informed about Transdev’s plans to use one of its shuttles to ferry students, the pilot program had been written about extensively and Transdev released several promotional videos touting their self-driving bus. Transdev, for its part, claims to have discussed the school bus shuttle with the NHTSA but that they had never received a letter asking them to stop operating it, and that they voluntarily shut down the program. The company also claims that every safety precaution was taken and that the shuttle was only operated along quite private roads. In its own release, Transdev states that “This small pilot was operating safely, without any issues, in a highly controlled environment. Transdev believed it was within the requirements of the testing and demonstration project previously approved by NHTSA for ridership by adults and children using the same route.” Whether the shutdown was over a miscommunication or because Transdev demonstrably overstepped its certification remains to be seen.
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What can we learn from the house that survived Hurricane Michael?

Amidst the destruction wreaked by Hurricane Michael on the 1,200-person town of Mexico Beach, Florida, one house emerged from the 155-mph winds relatively unscathed. As the New York Times reported, the 3-story house built by Dr. Lebron Lackey and his uncle Russell King was the only one remaining on his beachfront block and one of the few left standing in the flattened landscape of the Florida Panhandle town. The house, ironically dubbed the "Sand Castle" and designed by architect Charles A. Gaskin, was completed just this year. Florida windstorm code for this part of the state requires houses to be built for 120-mph winds, but the Sand Castle was designed for 240 to 250-mph winds. The entire house was built on top of 40-foot-tall pilings to allow for storm surge, and its walls are made of poured concrete reinforced by rebar, with steel cables throughout the structure and extra concrete reinforcing the house's corners. Rather than privilege window views, an expected feature of a vacation home, the number of window openings was limited and the roof overhang was minimized, thus reducing the risk of winds lifting the entire roof off. Lackey told CNN that other features that he and his uncle had originally wanted, like a balcony, were also discouraged by their engineer. In the end, the damage sustained by the house was the loss of an outdoor stair, which, along with the siding covering it, was designed to tear off without harming the rest of the building. The ground floor pavers and entryway features were also ripped away, along with a window and a heating unit, and water damage is evident in the building, according to the house's Facebook page. But, as Lackey and King told the Times, these repairs are estimated to take a month. This is far from the case for the rest of the town, which took the hardest hit from the storm and has lost many of its older structures, built before the 2002 code was put into place. Still, for most of Mexico Beach, a largely working-class community, the cost of hurricane-proofing the way that Lackey and King did would have been prohibitive. The measures implemented in the Sand Castle home double the cost of construction per square foot, according to the architect. The quiet town, which has eschewed major waterfront development and prohibited structures taller than five stories, now faces the hard task of rebuilding or making the painful choice to leave the area entirely. The long road to recovery raises the familiar questions that Hurricanes Andrew, Irma, and Harvey have also provoked in recent years. Those who rebuilt after Irma, for instance, have had a hard time finding enough experienced contractors to rebuild to code and local inspectors to check their work, with many still waiting for FEMA assistance and insurance payouts. With FEMA's budget cut by $10 million and transferred to ICE this summer, the path ahead might be even longer. For architects, their role in designing homes that can withstand extreme weather events is perhaps more urgent than ever. Last year, of the roughly 800,000 single-family homes that were built, only 8 percent had concrete frames, a feature that would help them withstand such weather conditions. In ten years, only about 8,000 homes have met the insurance industry standard for a roof that wouldn't leak or tear off during a hurricane. Homeowners may understand the importance of building resilient homes, but the incentive for developers is much lower. Scaling up the innovations for resilient new construction while keeping them affordable is perhaps the field's greatest challenge.
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Massive development aims to transform Tampa's downtown and waterfront

New images for Tampa’s largest mixed-use project were recently revealed, illustrating the city’s intense investment into its waterfront and downtown core. Water Street is a $3 billion, 50-acre mixed-use waterfront district covering 16 city blocks on Hillsborough Bay. The project is being developed by Strategic Property Partners (SPP), a joint venture from Jeffrey Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team, and Cascade Investment, run by Microsoft founder Bill Gates. The design team includes Cambridge-based Reed Hilderbrand working in conjunction with Boston-based Elkus Manfredi Architects for the project’s landscape architecture and master plan, respectively. Engineering firm Stantec is responsible for infrastructure and roadway improvements. Like other U.S. cities in the post-industrial era, Tampa largely ignored its former industrial waterfront for the majority of the late 20th century, instead focusing on building highways, surface parking lots, and structures that ultimately cut off the water from city residents. Tampa’s lack of a cohesive downtown identity has been an issue that has plagued the city and is one of the main issues that SPP is aiming to resolve with Water Street. It’s an ambitious project. If successful, Water Street will become the world’s first WELL-certified community, which sets new standards for design as a means for well-being and health through elements like daylighting and air quality. A centralized district cooling facility will be built to serve all the buildings in Water Street, opening up rooftops to have more space for greenery and/or active amenity spaces. Water Street also intends to be LEED Neighborhood Development (ND) certified, which was created to shape more sustainable and well-connected neighborhoods. Once completed, there will be two million square feet of office space, 3,500 new residencies, one million square feet of new retail, cultural, educational, and entertainment space, and two new hotels. Two projects are already underway: a JW Marriott hotel and a $164.7 million University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute. Tampa is investing heavily into its waterfront edge in an effort to revitalize and reconnect its downtown. An estimated $13 billion will be spent on development in the Tampa Bay area, according to a Dodge Data & Analytics report, and the most ambitious project is Water Street. The massive investment is an indicator not only of the city’s push to attract companies and young people, but also of the city's desire to unite its neighborhoods, including the existing Central Business District and surrounding neighborhoods of Harbour Island and the Channel District. For the past two years, construction teams have been working to create walkable and bikeable streets that eschew the traditional city street grid, redefining Tampa’s downtown into a walkable, pedestrian-friendly area. “Our plan for Water Street Tampa builds on decades of insights into what makes city neighborhoods work, working within the context of a modern lifestyle in Tampa,” said James Nozar, CEO of SPP. By developing in an underdeveloped area that has no connection to the waterfront, “we’re filling the hole in the middle of the doughnut,” he said to The New York Times. Once completed, the developers estimate that more than 23,000 people will live, work, dine, and visit Water Street. The first phase is meant to open in 2021, but the expected completion date is still a ways off in 2027.  
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The nation's largest mall is coming to Miami

On May 7, the largest mall in the country received approval from the Miami-Dade county planning board. The approximately 500-acre project, dubbed The American Dream Miami, is led by Canadian developer, Triple Five. The $4 billion, 6-million-square-foot entertainment center’s design includes features such as an artificial ski slope, an indoor water park, and submarine rides. Located 200 miles from Disney World, the American Dream is hoping to provide a competitive alternative in closer proximity to southern Floridians. Ringed by the I-75, the Florida Turnpike, and a band of palm trees, Triple Five’s design rises as a singular mass punctured by high-rise glass hotels, rooftop components and undulating glass skylights. However, according to the Sun Sentinel, scores of malls in the area oppose the project as it threatens to inundate an already saturated retail complex market. Located over five miles from the nearest Metrorail stop, the Miami Herald reports that the developer has agreed to invest in its own bus depot and fund the extension of preexisting bus lines to The American Dream. Regardless of this transit overture, the sprawling complex will be highly reliant on the adjacent I-75 and Florida’s Turnpike to accommodate the estimated 100,000 daily vehicle trips generated by visitors and employees. Although malls across the country are closing shop, Triple Five is also moving forward with a 3 million square-foot entertainment complex in East Rutherford, Jersey. In total, these two new projects will bring Triple Five’s portfolio up to four locations, including Bloomington, Minnesota’s Mall of America  which currently holds the title for the third largest mall in America. While Triple Five has received approval from the county planning board, the developer still has to secure new zoning variances, additional financing and propose storm water runoff infrastructure. The project will be subject to a final vote on May 17.