The latest playground for big-name architecture is San Francisco's Transbay District. As AN reported this spring, the city's forthcoming Transbay Transit Center has spurred new projects from some of the field's biggest names, including OMA, Studio Gang, Cesar Pelli, and Foster + Partners. Less than two weeks after Studio Gang revealed plans for its twisting tower in the district, Foster + Partners is out with some images of its own. Don't get too excited—they're fairly vague—but they were enough for San Francisco Chronicle architecture critic John King to call Foster's plan, "gasp-inducing...from the ground up." Here are the basics: the shorter of the two towers rises 605 feet and is entirely residential. The other includes apartments, offices, and a hotel, and tops out at 910 feet, which will make it the second-tallest tower in the city. The tallest prize will go to Cesar Pelli’s 1,070-foot-tall Salesforce Tower that is currently under construction. “If built as now envisioned, the San Francisco tower would be equally futuristic, with brawny structural columns slicing across a mid-block space 80 yards wide,” King said, referring to Foster's taller tower that was designed with Heller Manus Architects. “Except for the elevator lobbies at the rear of the plaza the tower would begin 70 feet in the air, clad in glass and held in place by diagonal columns forming giant X's along the outer walls.” Foster considers the tower's appearance in the city's skyline just as important as how it meets the street. “At ground level, the buildings are open, accessible and transparent—their base provides a new ‘urban room’ for the region, and the new pedestrian routes through the site will knit the new scheme with the urban grain of the city,” Foster said in a statement on his firm's website.
Posts tagged with "Foster + Partners":
Buckle up: the gap between commercial space travel and the present moment is rapidly narrowing. Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America (designed by Foster + Partners) recently signed an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration granting access to airspace in New Mexico, with designs to turn the ground beneath into a commercial spaceflight center. A major milestone in commercial space travel, the agreement arrives the same week as the unveiling of the Dragon V2, a manned spacecraft designed by SpaceX and Elon Musk. The cutting-edge capsule is a major step in building spacecraft that have the same touch-and-respond sensitivity as a helicopter. The Dragon's development fell beneath a NASA initiative to replace the retired Space Shuttle. Maybe it will be used at the new spaceport, also designed by SpaceX and Elon Musk, in Brownsville, South Texas?
After the New York Public Library scrapped Foster + Partners’ controversial redesign of its main branch—which would have removed the famous book stacks to create an atrium-like research library—the institution has announced a more modest path forward. The cost of Foster's plan was originally slated to cost $300 million, but, according to independent estimates, the final tab could have topped $500 million. Now, the project has been scaled back. The New York Times reported that in the new plan the stacks themselves will stay, but as a cost-saving measure, the books will be kept in storage under the building. An architect for the plan has not yet been announced for the project, but according to the Times, one floor of the revamped building will house a media and computer lab, and back offices will be replaced by public space. There will also be an adult education center "to focus on the needs of service workers with classes in English-language instruction, citizenship and computer training." Construction on the project is expected to take four to five years.
This year, the Europe-based New Cities Foundation is bringing its annual New Cities Summit to the Dallas Arts District, from June 17 to 19. Eight hundred global thought leaders will convene at the Winspear Opera House to listen to speakers, engage in workshops, and take advantage of world-class networking opportunities. The Architect’s Newspaper is one of the summit media partners. AN Southwest editor Aaron Seward recently spoke to Mathieu Lefevre, the Executive Director of the New Cities Foundation, about what the organization has on tap for this year’s summit, whose theme is Re-imagining Cities: Transforming the 21st Century Metropolis. Aaron Seward: Let's start by getting some background on the New Cities Summit. What is it? Why did it start? And what does it hope to achieve? Mathieu Lefevre: The New Cities Summit started when the New Cities Foundation was set up, in 2010. It’s a non-profit whose mission is to make cities better. The event is aimed at shaping the global conversation and adding to the creative thought leadership surrounding how to shape what we are calling the Century of Cities. We held the first summit in 2012 in Paris; then we went to São Paulo, Brazil, in 2013; and this year we’re coming to Texas. Why has the summit decided to come to Dallas this year? First of all, there is often a herd mentality when it comes to these events. They tend to happen in very similar cities, like New York or Singapore. We’ve always wanted to go to unexplored terrain, to find cities that are full of potential but are facing major challenges. And that’s why we’re interested in Dallas. It’s one of the most dynamic cities in the world. I read somewhere that the GDP of Dallas is larger than that of the United Arab Emirates with all their oil. As much media reporting has covered in recent weeks, it’s extraordinary in terms of its economy and diversity of jobs, but it also faces a lot of challenges. Traffic, for example, is a major issue in this extremely car-dependent city, though that is slowly changing. I also like that Dallas is a place that is eager to tell its story again. That was our inspiration for the theme of this year’s summit: Re-imaging Cities. The theme came from conversations we had in Dallas, and I’m interested in bringing our community there because it’s a city that most of them don’t know. The summit will be held in the Dallas Arts District. Why this choice of location? What is the relationship between culture and the subject matter discussed at the summit? The first reason is that it’s a spectacular venue. The participants are going to be absolutely wowed by the arts district as an emerging neighborhood, but also by the building itself, the Winspear Opera House (Foster + Partners, 2009). More broadly, many cities around the world—like Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, Dallas, and other cities in North America— are betting on culture as a transformative strategy. Dallas is attempting to tell its story again, and to re-imagine itself, partly through its Arts District. I’m a Parisian. I’m sorry to say I had no idea that there was this kind of culture in Texas. Between the Dallas Arts District—the Winspear and the other cultural facilities on that street—and what’s going on in Fort Worth, that’s world-class cultural facilities. The mayors of Fort Worth and Dallas will be on hand to speak. What other notable figures are participating in the summit? What I’m really excited about and very proud of is the combination of well known visible figures that come and share their wisdom and insights. We’ve got seven or eight mayors, from Spain, Asia, Africa, and North America of course. Also we’ve got very well known figures, like the architect Daniel Libeskind; the CEO of Bombardier, Lutz Bertling; the CEO of the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, Sean Donohue; and the executive director of the Mori Foundation, Hiroo Ichikawa, which is one of the most powerful organizations in Japan. We’ve got some great young leaders coming, like Aaron Hurst of the Taproot Foundation & Imperative; and the contemporary Chinese artist Huang Rui. Then there are the speakers from our WhatWorks series, who each get six minutes to tell us about a project that has worked in their city. And of course we’ve got our three AppMyCity! finalists. We’re really excited about meeting the creators of these apps. There is one called Djump, a peer-to-peer car sharing service; one called Peerby that allows people to share household items, like blenders or anything else; and then there’s Social Cyclist, from New York, an app that encourages users to offer preferred bike routes. What are some of the key topics that will be discussed? We’re going to map out a future of what we call the Century of Cities: What are the 10 drivers that are going to shape the future of cities? Then we have more technical and pragmatic sessions: How can technology help cities reach their green targets? We’re going to look at emerging concepts in urban design, such as happiness, wellness, and the shared economy. These are just starting to emerge, and we’re going to explore them with many of the people who helped start them. We’re going to talk about mobility. We’re going to talk about entrepreneurship. We’re going to talk about the role of the airport in city strategy. Were going to talk about where the money is going to come from. We’re going to talk about participation, transparency, and citizen engagement in urban democracy. We’re going to talk about healthcare. Of course, a lot of the conversation is going to happen outside of our programs, in the interactions between our many invited attendees. When you bring 800 people from around the world together who have a passion about cities it’s going to result in stimulating creative conversation. I hope it will have tangible results for Dallas and other cities around the world.
In Las Vegas, you win some and you lose some. Lining up as what must be one of the biggest busts in Sin City history, the exceptionally-botched, Foster + Partners–designed Harmon Hotel, now has a date with the wrecking ball. The stubby 27-story tower—it was originally supposed to measure 49 stories but construction problems stunted its growth—never opened and no one ever checked in at what would surely have been a posh front desk. As AN reported in 2011, the Harmon Hotel was in the midst of a bitter lawsuit to allow demolition to proceed as some were claiming the structural deficiencies were enough to make even the shortened tower structurally unsound and at risk of collapse:
After discovering deficient steel reinforcing in early 2009, MGM left the foreshortened tower an unfinished shell but is now moving to implode the structure citing safety concerns. Alan Feldman, senior vice president of public affairs at MGM, said the company had submitted an engineering recommendation and demolition action plan to Clark County, Nevada detailing the structural shortcomings of the Harmon. “The city asked us to respond to the engineer’s report to determine the best way forward,” said Feldman. “We decided the best move is to take the building down.”The Harmon Hotel is part of MGM's $9 billion mega-development, CityCenter, which features buildings by Daniel Libeskind, Rafael Vinoly, Helmut Jahn, and others. The Harmon Hotel sits adjacent to Libeskind's ultra-luxury shopping center, the Crystals, which AN profiles in a past retail feature. Now, MGM has resolved that lawsuit and on April 22 received court approval to proceed with demolition of the tower. According to a report in Architectural Record, there won't be a dramatic, Las Vegas–style implosion. Instead, the hotel will be taken apart, piece by piece, over the next year.
The New York Public Library has canceled its controversial renovation plan by Foster + Partners, according to a report in the New York Times. The plan, which would have removed the historic book stacks and turned the non-lending research library into a circulating library, was widely opposed by scholars, writers, and architectural historians. In addition, the library planned to sell their Mid-Manhattan branch and their Science, Industry and Business Library. Now they plan to renovate the Mid-Manhattan branch and maintain the 42nd Street Library as a research library. “When the facts change, the only right thing to do as a public-serving institution is to take a look with fresh eyes and see if there is a way to improve the plans and to stay on budget,” Tony Marx, the library’s president, told the Times. Foster-designed Central Library Plan would have turned the area housing the stacks into new reading room overlooking Bryant Park. While campaigning, Mayor Bill de Blasio opposed the library plan. According to the Times, the mayor recently met with NYPL's Marx to reiterate his opposition. The Huxtable Initiative (named for the late Ada Louise Huxtable), a group of architects, critics, and historians opposed the Central Library Plan, released the following statement:
It sounds too good to be true. But it goes to show that criticism can actually change things! Ada Louise Huxtable writing in the Wall Street Journal inspired us all—and particularly prompted the formation of the Huxtable Initiative (a group of architectural journalists, critics and historians) to protest the insertion of the Foster scheme in the grand Carrere and Hastings structure. Then architecture critic Michael Kimmelman put the problem on the front burner by writing about the weaknesses of the library's plans in the New York Times. Charles Warren, the architect, advanced the discussion by revealing the engineering distinctiveness of the stacks that were about to be destroyed. And then of course, there was The Committee to Save the New York Public Library, which just never gave up. When you don't have big money, you do need a lot of perseverance and people.
This week, the Noguchi Museum in Queens, New York announced the inaugural Isamu Noguchi Awards to recognize like-minded spirits who share Noguchi’s commitment to innovation, global consciousness, and Japanese/American exchange. The first recipients of the award are architects Norman Foster and Hiroshi Sugimoto. "The Isamu Noguchi Award serves to establish a dialogue with Noguchi’s profound legacy of innovation," Noguchi Museum Director Jenny Dixon said in a statement. "We are honored to celebrate Lord Norman Foster and Hiroshi Sugimoto, whose exemplary work we believe demonstrates principles similar to those that inspired Noguchi.” Motohide Yoshikawa, Ambassador of Japan to the United Nations, will present the award during a special ceremony at the Museum’s annual Spring Benefit on Tuesday, May 13, 2014.
Despite having first dibs on the project, Rafael Viñoly is being forced to hedge his vision for London's Battersea Power Station redevelopment under pressure from fellow power players Norman Foster and Frank Gehry. Responsible for guiding "Phase III" of the project, the latter pair have rejected the two large structures Mr. Viñoly had initially envisioned lining a raised pedestrian thoroughfare in favor of five smaller structures in an attempt to "humanize the scale." Viñoly's now-sullied initial vision for Battersea. The masterplan for the overhaul will now be populated by, among others inclusions, five residential towers of American origin. Assuming the moniker Prospect Place, the quintuplet is ostensibly Gehry's debut in the British capital. The centerpiece of this grouping comes in the form of "the flower," a titanium-tinted tower that resembles a series of more angular versions of the architect's Viennese designs crammed against each other. The rippling facades of the four surrounding structures complete Gehry's bouquet. The cluster is pierced by the Electric Boulevard, a two-tiered walkway that stretches to the original power plant. The western border of the site is parsed out by the Skyline, a curvaceous apartment block by Foster + Partners. Capped by trees and gardens, the wavy structure seems to slither uneasily past Gehry's design before doubling back upon encountering the smoke stacks of the Battersea. Another aspect of the Viñoly vision that has since been jettisoned is a large reflecting pool that once lay east of the projected location of Prospect Place. In its stead Gehry is calling for a public park that will have a lecture hall and playground in its southern and northern poles respectively. Along with its grounds, the plant itself will be subject to a major facelift as well. Local firm Wilkinson Eyre is responsible for sterilizing the industrial ruin, recasting the building as a shopping, office, residential and events complex. Instead of black clouds, a glass elevator will emerge from one of the refurbished chimneys as its converted into an elevator cum observation deck. The Wilkinson Eyre undertaking is not the first drastic transformation of the plant in recent years. All in all the roughly $13 billion project is set to provide 1,300 new homes to London, of which a meager 8 percent have been set aside for affordable housing. The percentage has been labeled derisory among wholly-warranted fears that the new development will be little more than the city's latest magnet for foreign investment.
Norman Foster has broken ground on a skinny residential tower in Midtown Manhattan. Situated adjacent to the 1958 Seagram Building on the site of a former YWCA, Foster + Partners' 61-story white luxury tower at 610 Lexington Avenue will dwarf Mies van der Rohe's 38-story bronze-clad landmark. "It’s not simply about our new building, but about the composition it creates together with one of the 20th century’s greatest," said Foster + Partners' Chris Connell in a statement. "In contrast to Seagram’s dark bronze, our tower will have a pure white, undulating skin. Its proportions are almost impossibly slim and the views will be just incredible."
In life, by all accounts, William Penn, founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, was a good man. In death, however, this portly, English-born idealist has turned nasty—if the good sports fans of Philadelphia are to be believed. But Norman Foster has a plan to appease the spirits. The trouble all started when a Bronze statue of Penn was placed atop the tower of Philadelphia’s Second Empire–style city hall, which, upon its completion in 1901, was the tallest structure in town. It maintained that status, and Penn his supremacy, until the erection of One Liberty Place in 1987, which stood some 400 feet taller. As soon as Penn’s perch was eclipsed, Philadelphia was plunged into a 25-year drought during which none of the city’s professional sports franchises won a championship. Many began to speculate that the founding father had cursed his progeny. To appease the peeved spirit, upon the completion of the even taller, Robert A.M. Stern–designed Comcast Center in 2007, a miniature statue of the great man was placed atop the building’s highest beam. A year later, the Phillies won the World Series. Now, to keep old Penn happy, the statue will be moved to the top of an even taller tower designed by Foster + Partners, which is currently under construction.
Lord Norman Foster’s pickle-shaped 30 St. Mary Axe building in London, widely known as “the gherkin,” has been featured in an advertisement for a UK chemist that sells erectile dysfunction pills at £6 a pop. The print ad for Lloyds Pharmacy features the interrogative headline “Lost the perk-in your gherkin,” illustrated with a photo-shopped image of a drooping 30 St Mary Axe. The ad goes on to exhort readers not to “let a hard day stop a hard night.”
Foster + Partners have collaborated with London landscape architecture firm Exterior Architecture and urban planners Space Syntax in developing a proposal for an extensive system of elevated-bike paths in London. The project entails the construction of over 130 miles of pathways along routes that parallel those of an existing system of rail lines that already weaves in and around the city. Suspended above the train tracks, cyclists would access SkyCycle through the over 200 hydraulic platforms and ramps that would act as entry points. While somewhat evocative of New York's own High Line, the precedent for the project actually goes back much further. As illustrated in the accompanying promotional video, the project would essentially segregate cyclists from their fellow residents navigating London in cars or by foot. The move comes on the heels of a spate of cycling-related deaths that plagued the city last year. Foster himself is an avid cyclist and the current president of Britain's National Byway Trust. London bikers will have to bide their time before taking to the air, however. If the proposal is to be realized, there are many hoops to jump through, including fundraising. SkyCycle would likely be completed sometime after 2030. While the use of the rail corridors has been framed as a cost-saving measure, estimates for an upcoming 4 mile trial route place costs at £220 million.