Posts tagged with "Gensler":

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Landmarks cites nonexistent permits for iconic Citicorp Center plaza

Last month the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) sidestepped a crucial discussion of a developer's plans to overhaul a plaza at the Citicorp Center (now 601 Lexington Avenue), citing permits that were, in fact, never issued. The opaque and irregular approvals process for these renovations—detailed below—deprived the public of the opportunity to weigh in on highly visible changes to the landmarked Citicorp Center, one New York’s most essential late modern buildings. Those changes especially impact a plaza and fountain by Sasaki Associates, one of the firm’s only surviving works in New York. In March The Architect's Newspaper reported on the planned changes to the building, one of the city's newest landmarks. The 59-story tower, designed by Hugh A. Stubbins & Associates in 1977, commands a busy corner in East Midtown, Manhattan. The landmark designation includes three interrelated structures—a 59-story, 915-foot-tall office tower on the western portion of the site, a six-story mixed-use structure nestled into the main tower, and St. Peter's Lutheran Church of Manhattan—all connected by a series of indoor and outdoor spaces that are privately owned but open to the public. At the Midtown East building, though, proposed changes to those spaces—known to city planners as POPS—have attracted attention.  The LPC put the Citicorp Center on its calendar for landmark consideration in May 2016, and, after one hearing on September 13, the commission declared 601 Lexington Avenue—three buildings and the POPS—a New York City landmark in December 2016. Typically, calendaring puts all renovations on hold—but not this time. In July of that year, just two months after calendering, the owner, Boston Properties, filed plans with the DOB for a $46.8 million renovation that included changes to the POPS and the six-story office-retail building at the base of the main tower. Fast forward to a March 21, 2017 hearing to discuss a proposed renovation, designed by Gensler, that included work on the building's facade. At this hearing, LPC commissioners twice stated that they couldn't comment on the plaza renovations because they were "already permitted" (5:38:01 and 5:41:40), while LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said the owner "already got the permits" for the plaza reconstruction. But where are those permits? The permits the LPC referenced could only been approved by one agency: the Department of Buildings (DOB). For this project, the DOB approves development plans, while the Department of City Planning (DCP) oversees and approves changes to privately owned public spaces. Neither agency can approve major changes to a landmark or potential landmark without LPC approval. Today, a DOB spokesperson confirmed to AN that the agency rejected Boston Properties’ plans (just this week, in fact) but stated that the owner may file new plans at a later date. With no permits on file, was the LPC referencing approvals from City Planning? At the March 2017 hearing, the commission stated that, because the DCP oversees privately owned public spaces, any changes to the POPS had to be—and were already—approved by that department. That’s true: At DCP, public review of the project commenced September 14, 2016—a day after the LPC’s September designation hearing—and garnered departmental approval on November 2, 2016, months after the May calendaring and a little over a month before designation. This bizarre dialogue between Landmarks and City Planning left no opportunity for the public to comment on major changes to a landmarked public space. The LPC was unable to confirm what permits the commission was referring to at the March 2017 hearing, despite repeated requests. The designation report (PDF) confirms that the DCP has oversight over the POPS, but it incorrectly says Boston Properties received DOB approval to modify the sunken plaza. (The designation report contains an additional error: The Citicorp Center's calendaring is listed as August 9, 2016 but an LPC press release pegs its calendaring to May 10.) The DOB confirmed that it had not issued a permit for the renovation of the POPS at the site. With regard to the plaza changes, "I'm not sure what the Landmarks Commission thinks it is doing," said Michael Hiller, Esq. Hiller is the founding principal of Hiller, PC, a New York City firm that litigates zoning, preservation, and land-use issues. At press time, the LPC issued the following statement:
The application before the Commission on March 21st was limited to the building’s façade. The applicant represented to the Commission that they had valid DOB permits for the work on the plaza that pre-dated designation and, as a result, that portion of the work was not before the Commission. During the process, the Commissioner’s reference was based on the representation by the applicant. If there were no valid DOB permits for the work on the plaza issued prior to designation, the applicant would be required to obtain an LPC permit prior to the issuance of a DOB permit.
A site visit this week revealed that there is construction fencing surrounding the perimeter of the plaza, though the stair to the subway through the sunken plaza remains unimpeded. Signs show a Gensler rendering of the revamped plaza and office building, above, but the only permits posted are for work on the 29th floor: Boston Properties could not be reached for comment on the current status of the renovations or the approvals process. The changes that DCP approved in Boston Properties’ land use application would add benches and would not reduce the total area of the POPS's sunken plaza. (Technically, to the DCP, the plaza is an "open air concourse," an exposed area that sits more than 12 feet below-grade and provides access to the subway. Here, at its lowest, the tiered public space sits 13 feet below grade.) Its 6,000 square feet of tables, chairs, and concrete gave the Citicorp Center a FAR bonus of almost 59,000 square feet. In exchange, the public received six trees, 19 tables, 76 chairs, and a designer fountain, plus retail at the western edge of the concourse. The DCP-approved changes would add two tables, eight chairs, and 153 feet of benches to the count, and a new fountain would replace the Sasaki fountain in "approximately the same location." Among other changes, the plans call for a stairway from the concourse to the sidewalk would be widened, and repositioned to improved pedestrian circulation from the subway to the street. The land use review application says the changes would "improve public access, provide better circulation and connectivity, and create a more visible and vibrant Public Spaces [sic]." This fountain-for-fountain, space-for-space tradeoff is acceptable per City Planning but for preservationists, the thought of losing Sasaki fountain is devastating. “The Citicorp Center is about public space—that’s what makes it architecturally interesting and designation-worthy,” said preservation activist Theodore Gruenwald. “We are seeing all of these changes done very much behind the scenes, without public oversight.” Designed by Sasaki Associates principal emeritus Stuart Dawson, the Citicorp Center's plaza and fountain is just one of the city’s 333 POPS, the essential New York City micro-spaces that make public places out of office building plazas, atria, and concourses. Introduced as a development incentive in the 1960s, POPS let developers build taller than zoning allowed in exchange for open space. Recently, though, the public-ness of these public spaces has come under threat. The election propelled Trump Tower's inaccessible POPS into the limelight, and the loss of the Water Street arcades last year has further highlighted the vulnerability of POPS, especially those that are more marginal. Though not a POPS, the owners of SOM's landmarked One Chase Manhattan Plaza tried—and failed—to build three glass pavilions on the building's plaza, a move that would have segmented the public space and blocked views of a massive Dubuffet sculpture. Rule-breaking POPS have caught the attention of the law, too. This month the office of the New York City comptroller released the results of a POPS audit (PDF), which found that more than half of the city's privately owned public spaces did not provide mandated access or amenities (though the POPS at Citicorp Center was in-compliance—at least by this measure).
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Gensler designs affordable housing TOD for Chicago’s South Side

While transit-oriented developments (TOD) have become ever more popular on the near Northwest side of Chicago, the latest such project is on the complete other side of town, and it offers something the others don’t. The Woodlawn Station development will be located at the 63rd and South Cottage Grove station of the CTA L Green Line, and will include 70 units of mixed-income housing, in three buildings. The main building of the development will have 55 market-rate and affordable housing units. The four-story building was designed by Gensler with Chicago-based Nia Architects as the architect of record. The base will include 15,000-square-feet of retail and commercial space, and other amenities include a rooftop deck, a play garden, and community room. As a transit-oriented development, it will have limited car parking, and extra bike storage space. A digital transit info screen will let residents know when trains are approaching, as they will only have a few steps to take to get to the station. The importance of the Woodlawn Station project is in the role it will play in the quickly revitalizing neighborhood. Earlier this year it was reported that, for the first time in 50 years, Woodlawn had seen an increase in population while simultaneously a decrease in crime. A great deal of emphasis is being put on the neighborhood by the city, as it will also soon be home to the Tod Williams Billy Tsien-Designed Obama Presidential Center. In recent years, other projects, from the Woodlawn Resource Center to University of Chicago student housing, have all added to the improvement of the neighborhood. The developers of the project, Preservation of Affordable Housing, Inc. (POAH), specifically focus on developing affordable housing. Along with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); City of Chicago; Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC); JP Morgan Chase; BMO Harris Bank; and the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) the project is an example of how multi-layered public/private financing is often used to build affordable housing in Chicago. Yet local officials are quick to point out that federal funding may soon be a smaller part of the equation. "The developers of this project were able to leverage more than $400 million in additional investments from the private sector after receiving $30 million in federal funding from the Choice Neighborhood Grant Fund—a HUD program that would be eliminated in President Trump’s budget blueprint," ‎said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) at the project's groundbreaking. "Programs designed to help revitalize struggling communities are smart investments that yield great benefits for the neighborhood and nation alike. They should receive more federal investment, not less.”
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VR was essential to Gensler’s design of NVIDIA’s new headquarters

Hao Ko, principal and design director at Gensler, will be delivering the keynote presentation at the 2017 Tech+ Expo (May 23, New York City). Like a test rendering of a 3-D model, Gensler’s new headquarters for microchip maker NVIDIA in Santa Clara, California comes haltingly into view across the landscape, a glitchy image slowly gaining resolution. The 550,000-square-foot structure has been in the works since before the Great Recession and after nearly a decade in development, work is quickly progressing on final construction. The structure is on track to open for business in September of 2017—construction photos provided to The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) by Hao Ko, principal and design director at Gensler, indicate that work on the building envelope is almost complete, with the installation of final interior finishes and the landscape underway. Devcon Construction is building the project and Louie International is acting as the structural design engineer. Along the exterior, practically every edge of the wide, triangular structure is canted subtly. A roof profile that appears curved is actually made up of broad, segmented lines. Along two sides, the building bulges at the middle, creating fat, cyclopean bay windows. From above, the building is revealed across the landscape as a microchip-inspired paper airplane—a thin roof structure pierced with triangular skylights heaving over the earth. The building is actually capped by a steel truss roof supported by steel beam walls and columns. The deeply-overhanging and undulating roof creates a cavernous interior volume below. Whenever the roof’s folded planes meet at a peak or a valley, they turn downward as large steel section columns that resolve themselves dutifully and unceremoniously by plunging straight into the concrete slab. [interstitia] The construction images showcase a cavernous, two-level interior volume intersected by a series of opaque, faceted cores that interlock with one another and contain communal functions and meeting rooms. The peripheries of each floor plate are lined with work areas. Here, the formal rows of desks and more open-ended breakout spaces will exist in a broad, sky-lit space, framed by triangular roofing members above. The project is notable for the collaborative effort between client and architect that allowed the design team to embed virtual reality-based (VR) visualization into the design process. NVIDIA worked to develop new uses for the graphics chip manufacturer’s Iray rendering engine: the project's iterative daylight simulations involved modeling up to 5,000 light sources per image. Using the technology and cluster computing to pool GPU-power, designers were able to generate renderings in as little as ten minutes’ time, converting the technology into a rapidly-deployable design tool. The technology was also designed to include physically scanned materials in such a way as to capture light intensity and character—rather than to generate only various intensities of color, as is more common in rendering applications. The resulting “simulations” guided the design of the workspaces, where NVIDIA wanted to maximize quality of light. The scheme, as a result, ended up with fewer skylights than originally intended. Simulations showed that not as many skylights were needed to achieve the correct lighting effect designers were looking for. Ko explained over telephone that virtual reality workflow integration allows for a project to take on more life, saying “previously we only had artists’ renditions of what a space could feel like.” Ko added that with VR, the architects at Gensler wanted to figure out how could get “more reality” into the design experience. Scott DeWoody, Gensler’s creative media manager, said that the use of virtual reality was integral to the NVIDIA project and that the firm had “found a use for it at every spot in the design process.” VR is something that is not only easy to adopt into the traditional office workflow, DeWoody explained, but once rendering times are reduced, the tool can result in better overall design quality, as designers “render everything around them, instead of just (rendering) an open scene.” Ko agreed that the advanced simulation techniques add more to the design process than traditional renders, saying, “I’m old school—I came in the profession back in the day when we were building big physical models, to understand size, scale, and experience. Prior to having VR, it was always a challenge to reconcile how you do that.” Technology is driving rapid changes in architecture and construction industries and the building industry, in turn, is a driver of the U.S. economy. Tech+ Expo brings together, for the first time in NYC, industry and technology leaders that are shaping the future of the built environment.
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SHoP and Gensler revamp the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Long Island

The New York offices of SHoP Architects and Gensler have teamed up to bring the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Long Island back to life. As part of a $165 million renovation, SHoP worked on the facade aspect of the design while Gensler configured the interior. Billy Joel will inaugurate the venue tomorrow with a concert. The Coliseum first opened in 1972, but after 40 years of being the Islanders' ice hockey home, the arena had fallen into a being a shadow of its former self. Developer Forest City Ratner Companies took on the task in 2013, teaming up with SHoP. The two firms had previously worked together on the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and their second collaborative project appears to have produced a facade of similar standing. Comprising 4,700 brushed aluminum fins, the facade gently undulates upon a horizontal axis as it wraps around the Coliseum. This is achieved by altering the fins' angled vertices incrementally. According to a press release, the material references Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis—the first non-stop solo transatlantic flight which took off nearby. The interior, meanwhile, makes use of the infused daylight from a new exterior glass storefront which illuminates a redesigned concourse, main entrance, and circulatory areas. New seating has also been installed within the 416,000-square-foot space. In addition to this, a new VIP Club and Blue Moon Beer Garden have also been installed as event amenity spaces. For performers, "residential style living spaces" are part of the venue's "Artist Quarters." 1,500 staff are set to work at the Coliseum which will also double-up as a home for the Brooklyn Nets’ NBA Development League affiliate, the Long Island Nets, as well as hosting family shows, sports, and outdoor festivals. “Our goal was to create a space that reflected the tremendous sense of place that permeates Long Island, from the look of the building, to the taste of the food,” said Bruce Ratner, executive chairman of Forest City Ratner Companies, the developer of the new venue in a press release. “Our talented architectural and development team have succeeded beyond our dreams, creating a venue that is visually striking and wonderfully comfortable. We’re excited about the opening and are looking forward to the ongoing development of this entertainment destination.”
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Development team releases renderings for North Hollywood’s new skyline

Areas around the only heavy rail transit stop in Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley are poised to change dramatically as a new plan calling for the addition of over 1,500 residential units to the area coalesces. The redevelopment plan—orchestrated as a joint proposal by developers Trammell Crow Company, Greenland USA, Cesar Chavez Foundation, architects Gensler, and landscape architects Melendrez—also aims to bring roughly 450,000-square feet of offices and 150,000-square feet of ground-level commercial spaces to a collection of lots owned by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (L.A. Metro) surrounding the North Hollywood Red Line station. The plans will also consolidate a series of bus turnaround areas around the station into a single transfer complex. Urbanize LA reports that the plan, to be detailed in an upcoming presentation by the development to L.A. Metro’s San Fernando Valley Service Council (SFVSC), comes after Trammell Crow and Greenland had initially proposed two competing schemes. A rendering of the proposed project showcases a collection of mixed-use towers surrounding a series of open plaza areas and the new bus turnaround. The renderings depict the tallest tower as a podium-style structure located at the northern corner of the site, with a much shorter, perimeter block structure topped with a green roof standing beside it. The back corner of the site is populated by several courtyard apartment building complexes and a mid-rise housing tower. Another tall tower will be located on a corner opposing the main portion of the development. The complex is designed as a Transit Oriented Community (TOC), a notion that builds on transit-accessibility at the core of Transit Oriented Development (TOD) projects by including “holistic community development” that engages not only with mass transit but also facilitates pedestrian activities, according to the report that will be shown to the SFVSC. The plan comes out of a series of community scoping meetings conducted by L.A. Metro and the developers that uncovered historic preservation of the surrounding NoHo Arts District and balance between height, density, and pedestrianism as major community concerns. As such, the development will aim to engage and building upon existing street life in the pedestrian-heavy node while also adding generous paseos between various structures to create pedestrian paths around the station. The project will also include an unspecified number of affordable housing units. A detailed timeline for the project has not been released.
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Gensler reveals renderings for $250 million Queen Mary Island development

Developer Urban Commons and architects Gensler have revealed renderings for a new $250 million entertainment complex to be located adjacent to the Queen Mary ocean liner in Long Beach, California. The project—dubbed Queen Mary Island—aims to bring 700,000 square feet of retail, a 200-room hotel, and a series of outdoor public spaces including a new boardwalk, marina, and public amphitheater to the Pacific Ocean–adjacent waterfront. The Los Angeles Times reports that the project will also bring a 150,000-square-foot entertainment facility by London-based Urban Legacies to the site. That facility is slated to include high-octane attractions like an ice climbing facility, a zip-line assembly, and indoor skydiving simulator, among others. The move is an effort by Urban Commons to create new sources of revenue to fund badly-needed repairs for the aging ship. It is estimated that structural repairs and upgrades over the next five years alone will cost roughly $289 million. The Queen Mary brought in roughly $15 million in revenues last year between the 314-room hotel on board and revenue generated from visitor fees and events. Urban Commons has not released what projected revenues might be after the improvements, but the developer is betting that by rebranding and reactivating the Queen Mary as the heart of a new entertainment complex, more revenue will be generated. The proposed changes would transform the surrounding bayside, which is currently populated mainly by a series of surface parking lots and the Long Beach Cruise Terminal. Several of those parking lots will be replaced with a cluster of a shopping structures designed around broad walkways and plazas. The structures are being designed to celebrate “the best of Great Britain [the Queen Mary was originally based out of Southampton, England] and Southern California,” according to a promotional video issued by Urban Commons. A new boardwalk will wrap the Queen Mary as it crosses the harbor, transforming into a new marina as it stretches west across the site. The new amphitheater will be located on this end, along with the new hotel. The plan also includes a new entry lobby and event entrance for the Queen Mary, both designed in the manner of 19th century English greenhouses. The project is expected to break ground in roughly two years.
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Four mega-developments near Dallas make up the Five Billion Dollar Mile

With the recent wave of corporate office growth, Frisco, a city at the intersection of the Dallas North Tollway and State Highway 121, has seen a number of large developments take shape over the past five years. With Toyota as the most recent and highly publicized to lead the pack by announcing its relocation of its North American headquarters, the area is quickly becoming host to large corporate campuses.

The Star in Frisco, designed by Gensler’s Dallas office, is the first to reach a milestone completion with the opening of the Ford Center, a 12,000-seat indoor field connected to an outdoor Dallas Cowboys’ practice field featuring an expansive glazed curtain wall. With the Ford Center’s completion in 2016, the development has greatly impacted the vitality of the region and the local community. The City of Frisco and the eight schools that make up the Frisco Independent School District will utilize the new Cowboy’s practice facility. “The Star has been a catalyst development for the five billion dollar mile,” said Scott Armstrong, senior associate with Gensler. “Since the completion of the Cowboys’ facility, the real estate development in the surrounding area has gained exponential traction.” Over the next two years, The Star will add an Omni Hotel and additional retail space; a Baylor, Scott & White Health facility will be completed on the remainder of the site.

Other projects are slowly gaining momentum: The $1.5 billion Frisco Station began construction in October of last year. The 242-acredevelopment spearheaded by Hillwood Properties will add nearly six million square feet of new office space with an accompanying mixed-use program, including a 40-acre medical park, 2,400 apartments, 300,000 square feet of retail, and 650 hotel rooms.

Meanwhile, The Gate, a 41-acre luxury development under the direction of Dubai’s Invest Group Overseas, continues to search for investment to partner in the $700 million project.

Wade Park, the largest development of the four, has seen some site work although construction has yet to take place. According to a November 2016 article by Dallas Morning News, the project’s first phase that would feature a large retail component was postponed with completion set for 2018. Its website lists signed tenants such as Whole Foods, iPic Theaters, and Pinstripes bowling.

Just off the Five Billion Dollar Mile, another project provides a contrast to the Mile’s predictable designs. One Legacy West will make a minimalist design statement amongst the horizon. “Given the context we, and our client, the Gaedeke Group, chose to differentiate One Legacy West through an architecture that is simple, ordered, and restrained,” said Mark Dilworth of Morrison Dilworth + Walls. From a 15- by 15-foot column grid, the firm developed a strict logic where the final outcome is a cube in and of itself. The move renders the architecture simultaneously iconic, as it is functional and flexible for the tenants. It is one of the rare, architecturally rich projects in the area based solely upon form. One Legacy West will be complete by mid-2017.

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Sasaki fountain at Citicorp Center may be demolished

One of Hideo Sasaki's few remaining works in New York is set to be demolished as the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) approved changes to the exterior of 601 Lexington Avenue, formerly known as the Citicorp Center. The building, designed by Hugh A. Stubbins & Associates in 1973, features a stepped public plaza by Sasaki Associates. As it dips into 601 Lexington Avenue, the plaza, built in exchange for a taller tower, reveals a fountain and entrances to the subway. Amid a dense urban setting, many consider the cascading design a welcome sight. Its corner location encourages passers-by to look up in tandem with steps towards the building's open vertices made possible by Stubbins's unusual column arrangement. Dubbed “super” columns, the four skyscraper supports rise above 100 feet and cover 24 square feet each. The resultant cantilevers articulate space in a way not commonly found in Manhattan and in the space, one is seldom aware of being situated below the 915-foot-tall structure, once described by critic Ada Louise Huxtable as a “singularly suave blockbuster that comes down to the street with innovative drama." This feature has prevailed for almost 40 years and subsequently, the sunken space works in an established harmony with the skyscraper. At the time of Stubbins’s death in 2006, critic Paul Goldberger called the Citicorp Center “probably the most important skyscraper built in New York in the 1970s because of its elegant and memorable shape, but also because of its engagement with the city at the base.” Tuesday's review included building entrances along 52nd and 53rd streets, as well as skylights and rooftop mechanical equipment. The Sasaki plaza, designed by principal emeritus Stuart Dawson, was included in the landmark designation, but DOB permits to alter the plaza were approved prior to the designation, and so the plaza changes were not under review by the LPC. In a March 23 email, a LPC spokesperson clarified that the permits are unrelated to the designation report's statement of regulatory intent (page 14) that states that the City Planning Commission is responsible for approving all changes to the plaza. The plaza design depicted in Gensler's renderings was not being considered at the hearing that day, a situation infuriated some preservationists who came out to speak the meeting. The renderings Gensler presented depicted the plaza without the fountain that was initially intended, in the words of the architect, to "mask much of the street noise and add to the feeling that the passerby is free from the congestion of the street." In a statement to The Architect's Newspaper (AN) Dawson commented on the situation:
I was and am incredibly proud of the work we did on the sidewalks, plaza, cascading fountain, and interior atrium of the Citicorp Center. The response from the public was immediate and strong: they loved it. As the fate of this work is up in the air I cannot help but to return to the original idea that carried through all aspects of the project: the idea of connection. At the time, we asked why not carry the fountain and broad steps all the way from street level; to chapel and atrium entrance level; to the subway level? While it required difficult permitting and multiple bureaucratic maneuvers, it seemed well worth the effort—and it was. It was a first! And today, as I learn that the plaza we designed is in danger of demolition I ask that we consider connection once more. I would like to see the plaza live on, connecting one era of design into the next. Once again, it may take some persistent maneuvering but I believe it will once more be worth it.

Christabel Gough of the advocacy group Society for the Architecture of the City told AN that the Sasaki project has "fallen between the cracks of arcane inter-agency procedures and is not protected. Boston Properties would earn the gratitude of so many New Yorkers by abandoning the demolition plan revealed today." 

According to the LPC, the changes put forward by Gensler and Boston Properties were approved by the City Planning Commission prior to 601 Lexington Avenue’s designation as a landmark in December 2016 and that permits to alter the plaza had already been filed with the Department of Buildings (DOB). Despite an extensive search, at press time AN was unable to locate the permits on the DOB's website.

At the hearing, preservationists and commissioners raised questions about the missing foundation. "The HDC wishes to express its regret at reports that the water feature may be removed from the space, which seems like an unfortunate loss," said Barbara Zay, of advocacy group the Historic Districts Council. "We would suggest that the LPC retain a seat at the table in discussions for the fate of courtyard by working closely with the owner, and perhaps the MTA, to find an alternative or return this decorative feature which provides an element of civility and whimsy to the space.” Echoing Zay, Commissioner Michael Goldblum expressed regret about the turn of events. "It’s a shame that the plaza will be changed and the fountain lost," he said, adding that the fountain was a "key element of how the public experience this complex." Fellow commissioner John Gustafsson clarified that no decision on the plaza could be made. "We’re not expressing an opinion here because we can’t," he said. The only changes on the agenda then, were to that of the facade, particularly on 53rd Street. Here, a recessed entrance would be eradicated, but the LPC voiced weariness ahead of this decision.

AN asked representatives from Gensler and Boston Properties at the hearing about why they are eliminating the plaza. Both declined to comment.

In her closing statement, chair Meenakshi Srinivasan noted that "the Citicorp Building has a long history of changes... We recognized that these spaces will continue to change." She concluded that the proposed modifications were consistent with the building's history, and retained the spirit of the original design intent, particularly with the building's zoning history in mind. Prior to granting its approval, the LPC suggested that the proposed changes to the recessed entranceway be reconsidered. But questions remain as to why a plaza so integral to the landmark is beyond the LPC's oversight in the first place. AN will keep readers updated on this story as it develops. Update 3/22/17: This article originally stated that Sasaki's plaza was not included in the building's December 2016 landmark designation. It was in fact included in the designation. The post was also updated to include clarifying information about the plaza's jurisdiction and additional background on the statement of regulatory intent. The text was updated to reflect that Sasaki Associates principal emeritus Stuart Dawson designed the fountain.
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New York’s angled icon, the Citicorp Center, in line for a 200,000 square foot renovation

601 Lexington Avenue, widely known by its former title as the Citicorp Center, may be the subject of a revamp totaling 200,000 square feet, courtesy the New York office of global architecture firm Gensler. The recently landmarked building (designated in December) could see a new exterior plaza and array of terraces added if the design is approved by the Landmarks Preservation Committee (LPC) next week. Further changes include an atrium located inside (and thus exempt from LPC endorsement) that will house a coterie of retail outlets and dining facilities. Speaking to The Architect's Newspaper, a spokesperson for Gensler clarified that the plaza is indeed "being redesigned" as renderings suggest. 601 Lexington Avenue was designed by Hugh A. Stubbins & Associates in 1977 and completed the following year. The resultant angular apex created a silhouette that has become an icon of the Manhattan skyline and was a feature that led the building's landmark designation last year. It's at the other end of the building, at Lexington Avenue and 53rd Street, however, where the changes will be made. Critic Paul Goldberger was complimentary of the existing ground-level features at the time of Stubbins's death in 2006: “[It is] probably the most important skyscraper built in New York in the 1970s because of its elegant and memorable shape, but also because of its engagement with the city at the base," he said. According to Gensler, the building's owners, Boston Properties is "focused not on increasing rents, but on increasing the value of the entire neighborhood by making a distinctive plaza and atrium space." The firm continued: "To this end, the new outdoor plaza and terraces make room for more dining and retail options, while enlivening the staid office component. The resulting 200,000-square-foot redevelopment transforms an internally focused space into a bustling urban oasis for Manhattan’s Midtown East neighborhood." 601 Lexington (c) Gensler_4 Changes date back to as recently as 2010 when a new office lobby was installed. Twenty years ago, the existing atrium and open-air concourse were renovated. The LPC hearing for the changes will be on Tuesday, March 21.
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Corgan and Gensler adding new international concourse at LAX

Architecture firms Corgan and Gensler, along with operator Los Angeles World Airports, broke ground yesterday on a new, 12 gate, $1.6 billion concourse expansion aimed at boosting the super-jumbo airplane handling capabilities at Los Angeles International Airport’s (LAX) Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT). The project, known at the Midfield Satellite Concourse (MSC) will connect to the existing and recently-expanded TBIT via a pair of underground tunnels, complete with three sets of moving sidewalks. One of the tunnels will be used by passengers exclusively while the second will be utilized by the airport for operational services. Once traveling through the tunnel, passengers will emerge inside the new terminal, where the new gates—two of which are specially designed to accommodate the next generation Airbus 380 super jumbo and Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental jets—await. The expansion will include 50,000 square feet of gateway space, including 44,000 square feet of “L.A.-centric dining and shopping options,” according to a press release issued by Gensler. The new concourse will also feature 60,000 square feet of airline lounges, two nursing rooms, a service animal relief area, and children’s play areas that will be integrated into the spaces surrounding the boarding gates. In addition to the leisure and waiting areas described above, the expansion includes the 85,000-square-foot Baggage Optimization Project that will add a new baggage handling facility to the airport. The new facility will include an 11,000-square-foot tunnel to along the north side of the structure as well as a 45,000 square foot tunnel along the eastern edge that will connect to the airport’s baggage conveyance systems. The new concourse is designed to mimic the wave-inspired geometries of TBIT and features a linear collection of curved roof structures studded with clerestory lights. The spaces within the new concourse are designed to maximize daylighting as well as ease of movement through the waiting and leisure areas, with a special emphasis on maintaining sightlines between these spaces and the departure gates. GKKWorks will act as associate architect on the project. The project is expected to be operational by 2019 and fully completed by 2020.
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Renderings revealed for Gensler’s tenth tower along L.A.’s new hotel and entertainment district

Paperwork was filed this week with the Los Angeles Department of City Planning by developer Trical Construction, Inc. to replace the existing City Lights on Fig complex in Downtown Los Angeles with a Gensler-designed, 53-story glass hotel tower. The project, if completed, would add yet another monolith to the entertainment district’s growing contribution to the city’s skyline. Urbanize L.A. reports that the existing project, a 100-unit, five-story tall apartment complex, was built by the developer in 2004 and is being cleared, in part, to help achieve the city’s goal of increasing hotel supply around the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC) and L.A. Live complex. The City is seeking to locate 8,000 hotel rooms within proximity to the LACC complex. A study from 2015 indicates that 3,172 hotel rooms exist in the area, with approximately 2,000 new ones on the way. The Trical Construction project would increase that number by over 50 percent, adding 1,024 rooms, and will be operated as two separate hotels. The developer has not announced which hotelier will run either of the two proposed establishments. Renderings for the proposed complex indicate that the new tower will make use of recently loosened restrictions that will no longer require tall buildings in the city to be capped by flat-topped helicopter evacuation pads. As a result, Gensler’s tower is designed to have a pointed, faceted top. The renderings depict a rectangular tower clad in riveted glass curtain walls. It's a relatively subdued design considering Gensler’s other, recently-revealed tower for the area, which is made up of stacked geometric shapes and punctured by a roughly 20-story hole. The newest project will comprise the 19th such tower for the growing entertainment district, ten of which are designed by Gensler. Renderings also depict large, ground level electronic signage in keeping with many of the other recently-proposed projects. The proposed tower, located in a new Sign District surrounding the LACC and L.A. Live areas, will bring a mix of commercial electric signage as well as art-focused installations to the pedestrian areas in the neighborhood.
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Check out Gensler’s perforated and fritted glass facade for this building in Tysons, VA

In central Tysons, VA, Gensler's Washington D.C. office has designed a mixed-use building that will house a fitness center, conference spaces, and offices. The latter will sit atop a nine-story, perforated metal-skinned podium that hosts a parking garage. The tactful metal facade bridges the two glass skins above and below it, mediating transparency in the process. At street level, glass fenestration encloses 25,000-square-feet of retail, amid other amenities—a bonus for shoppers stepping off the Greensboro Metro station which is a mere 50 yards away. Duncan Lyons, a senior associate at Gensler's D.C. office, said the building's design is “unique” for a mixed-use project and is “dynamic, yet flexible enough to attract a variety of tenants.” Floor plates will range from 20,000 to 28,000 square feet and the project offers public and private green terracing, shaped as triangles along the building’s stepped back and angled massing. The corresponding volumes are partially defined by skin, too, with various types of glazing being used either side of the parking garage’s metal facade. Above the garage, fritted glass panels—comprising 13 levels—are segmented into two volumes. Both facades employ a pattern of tall vertical piers and openings which link the levels together visually, while, according to Lyons, “providing a different material combination and view experience at each zone of the building.” Meanwhile, below the garage, a glass skin wraps around the corner edges facing onto the street. Due to the topography of the site, the glazing follows steps that run down the northside, westwards, and onto an entrance to the Greensboro Metro Station. This journey allows pedestrians to see more of the building’s street level interior as they go down, with entrances to this double-height space at both the top and bottom of the steps. “Within each zone, amenity spaces, collaboration areas, and extended terraces provide numerous interior and exterior experiences,” said Lyons. “It all adds up to a rich mixture; brings life, character, and vitality to the building; and makes the project a singular attractor,” he continued. “[The] design experience supports the continued growth of transit-oriented development and true place-making at Tysons Corner in the most responsive, distinctive, and adaptable way.” Duncan Lyons will be a co-chair for the Facades+AM conference in D.C. this March 9. He and Jeff Barber—design leader and principal and Gensler—will be speaking about this project in further detail. Seating is limited. To register, go to am.facadesplus.com.