Posts tagged with "Gensler":

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More details emerge on the massive Port of Los Angeles redevelopment

Gensler’s Los Angeles office has revealed plans for a $150 million expansion to the Port of Los Angeles by marine science and business innovation group AltaSea. Revealed plans detail a 280,000-square-foot facility encompassing a new waterfront promenade, aquaculture research center, and science hub that combines the existing dockside warehouses with a new visitor’s center and signal-house.

Three formerly industrial warehouse shells with exposed composite steel beams and original overhead trusses will house dedicated research and business development facilities for aquaculture and underwater robotics endeavors. The project’s development will be divided into phases beginning with the redevelopment of Warehouses 58 through 60, which will add 180,000 square feet of combined research and business hubs to the site. This phase also incorporates an education pavilion and wharf plaza. The second and third phases entail renovating Warehouse 57—which will contain 60,000 square feet of laboratory and classroom space—and the construction of the site’s two new structures.

Those new constructions, Berth 56 and a tower dubbed “the Viewing Structure,” are located between the arms of the two docks housing the science warehouse spaces. Berth 56 is a landscape-oriented community center with educational and exhibition spaces, as well as amenities like viewing platforms and a theater. The five-story viewing tower is located at the foot of a Berth 56’s roof terrace, which has been sculpted to blend with a street-level plaza.

Gensler expects to begin construction on the first phase of the project in 2016 with the community center set to open in 2023. 

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First look at DS+R’s new 14-story “Study Cascade” at Columbia University Medical Center

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  The Vagelos Education Center is a new state-of-the-art medical and graduate education building at Columbia University Medical Center. The building, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) in collaboration with Gensler as executive architect, is a 100,000-square-foot, 14-story glass tower that incorporates technologically advanced classrooms, collaboration spaces, and a modern simulation center to reflect how medicine is taught, learned, and practiced in the 21st century. The design seeks to reshape the look and feel of the medical center and create spaces that facilitate a medical education. The project, which broke ground in September 2013, comes amidst a wider campus revitalization plan for CUMC that involves increases to green space, renovations to existing buildings, and the construction of new facilities. All new construction and renovation projects within this plan work toward the goal of minimizing CUMC’s carbon footprint and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2025. On a larger scale, the Vagelos Education Center will help to define the northern edge of the campus, providing a bridge to the surrounding Washington Heights community. In a press release, Elizabeth Diller, founding partner at DS+R said, “Space matters for structured and informal learning. To support Columbia’s progressive medical education program, we designed a building that will nurture collaboration.” This is reflected in the most captivating feature of the building: A highly transparent south-facing 14-story “Study Cascade,” designed to be conducive to team-based learning and teaching, that opens onto south-facing outdoor spaces and terraces. The organization of the interior spaces produces a network of social and study “neighborhoods” distributed along an exposed, interconnected vertical staircase that extends the height of the building.
  • Facade Manufacturer Josef Gartner (Glass Fin Curtainwall); Permasteelisa North America, (Unitized Curtainwall)
  • Architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro (design architect); Gensler (executive architect)
  • Facade Installer Josef Gartner (Glass Fin Curtainwall); Permasteelisa North America, (Unitized Curtainwall)
  • Facade Consultants Buro Happold Consulting Engineers P.C. (curtain wall)
  • Location New York, NY
  • Date of Completion 2016
  • System GFRC panels, Unitized aluminum mullion curtain wall, and an insulated stick built glass fin curtainwall enclosing a reinforced concrete core with post-tensioned concrete slabs
  • Products Bischoff Glastechnik AG (glass) ; Josef Gartner (glass fin curtainwall); Permasteelisa North America (unitized curtainwall); David Kucera Inc. (precast glass fiber reinforced concrete cladding), IMETCO (metal panels); Bilfinger (metal screen); Resysta Tru Grain Wood Composite (exterior wood); Blumcraft / C.R.Laurence (doors)
DS+R’s design takes advantage of an incredible view of the Hudson River and the Palisades. The building is composed of cantilevered post-tensioned concrete slabs cast with Cobiax void formers to achieve a lighter weight long span system. These slabs form the basis of the Study Cascade, and spring from a site-formed reinforced concrete core providing structural shear capacity for the building. The vertical core programmatically divides the education center into two halves: a south-facing active collaborative zone, and a north-facing series of specialized spaces that include classrooms, administrative offices, and a “Simulation Center” of mock examination and operating rooms. The facade system works to visually express these two types of spaces from the exterior. The Study Cascade reads more as a continuous unfolding of the ground plane in large part due to a highly transparent stick-built curtainwall system that incorporates glass fin supports, low iron glass, and a low-e coating. GFRC paneling follows the trajectories of the formal folds of the slab edges, further defining each interior zone. Around the side and rear of the building, at the location of specialized educational spaces, the slabs normalize into a more typical repetitive spacing, and are clad with a unitized aluminum mullion curtainwall integrated with GFRC elements to provide a more controlled day lit environment. Ceramic frit glazing, set in one large gradient pattern, transitions from transparent to opaque along the side elevation, filtering and diffusing sunlight while mitigating solar gain. Targeting LEED Gold certification, the building integrates a range of sustainable features, such as locally sourced materials, green roof technologies, and an innovative mechanical system that minimizes energy and water use. In addition to specialized glazing coatings and assemblies, the facade incorporates both fixed and operable shading to optimize the regulation of daylighting and solar gain by program area. “The Vagelos Education Center started with a clear vision as a place of excellence for higher learning that would also act as a much needed social center,” said Madeline Burke-Vigeland AIA, principal at Gensler. “Because of everyone’s deep involvement, it has transformed into something that exceeds even those high expectations: a vibrant new hub for Columbia's Medical Center campus.”
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Gensler releases renderings of GE’s new Boston HQ

  Fresh images of General Electric's new Boston headquarters have surfaced, courtesy of GE and architecture firm Gensler, which is based in San Francisco but has an office in Boston. Earlier this year General Electric (GE) announced they would be leaving their Fairfield, Connecticut headquarters, which they originally moved to in 1974. A new location was chosen in Fort Point on the Boston waterfront. GE will remodel two historic brick structures on the site and build a new 12 story building. The company says their new site—which will accommodate 800 employees—will encourage public employees to commute by public transportation, biking, and walking. According to Bldup, only 30 new parking spaces will be constructed on site as part of an underground garage. GE's new location, which they describe as a "campus," will include a public coffee shop, restaurant, and 1.5 acre public outdoor space. Among its other sustainable features are a rooftop solar system and vegetated roof areas. GE isn't the only major corporation to move into an urban center this year. McDonalds recently announced that they would move their headquarters from the suburb of Oak Brook to Downtown Chicago. Kraft made a similar move after their merger with Heinz. Companies who once deliberately moved out to expansive suburban campuses are finding new financial and logistical incentives to return to cities. Cities are also more attractive than suburbs to the younger generation of workers, whom GE is actively courting. According to a press release the campus will include a "Maker Space" for tech startups as well as university and high school students. The move is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2016 with employees relocating to a temporary Boston location. Their Fairfield campus will be sold, along with their offices in the building at 30 Rockefeller Center that once bore its name. This, along with incentives from the city of Boston and the state of Massachusetts, will offset the moving and construction costs. The company expects the move in to be completed by the end of 2018.
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Redevelopment of Chicago’s Old Main Post Office moves forward

After over 20 years sitting empty, Chicago’s Old Main Post is set to be redeveloped. The City of Chicago announced a court-approved agreement which will allow 601W Companies LLC to begin the renovations and restoration immediately. 601W is also the owner of Chicago’s AON Center, Prudential Plaza, and the former Montgomery Ward warehouse. Over the next five years, 601W will transform the multi-million-square-foot structure into office space for an estimated 12,000 workers. As part of the agreement with the city, 601W will start the renovation by replacing the roof, refurbishing the building’s facade, and restoring the buildings historic Art Deco lobby. A series of deadlines have been established for the work over 2016, 2017, and 2018. Improvements will also include new high speed elevators, public space along the river, new mechanical systems, and updated plumbing and electrical. The previous owner, International Property Developers North America, have agreed to pay $800,000 to the city for building code violations that began in 2012. 601W will work to remedy those violations as well. The Post Office was built in phases from 1921 through 1932. Designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Gensler is the design architect for the redevelopment. “With Gensler’s prior experience on the Post Office, we come with a long standing familiarity to the site and building. Additionally, our design for the redevelopment of 600 West Chicago, and our work with tech office and creative spaces in both the Merchandise Mart and Fulton Market brings added planning experience and redevelopment expertise to the Post Office project,” remarked Grant Uhlir, Principal and Managing Director of Gensler Chicago.
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Lumsden Design to revamp MoMA Design Store

The MoMA Design Store has announced plans for a renovation, courtesy U.K.-based Lumsden Design. The latest redesign of the space, which opened in 1990 and was renovated in 1999 by 1100 Architect, will allow more light into the shop. Bespoke lighting will allow the retailers to better feature the objets d'art, furniture, kitchen, and impulse-buy tchotchke collections, while a custom-made bead-blasted steel-and-glass jewelry display case will highlight the Design Store's accessories. Additional improvements will strengthen store circulation, upgrade sales systems, and enhance connections to the museum. Gensler is the executive architect. “The MoMA Design Store renovation has been a great project. Our single focus was to design a shopping experience that best showcases the unique design pieces offered in the store,” said Callum Lumsden, director of Lumsden Design, in a press release. “Our job has been to enhance the presentation of the merchandise and every decision during the design process has been significant, because the end result elevates the entire shopping experience within the store.” Among other institutions, the firm has created stores for the British Museum, Tate Modern, Universal Studios, and the National Gallery of Canada. The store, which sits across from MoMA on Manhattan's West 53rd Street, is scheduled to reopen this fall.
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New zoning permits development of Gensler and HWKN-designed Williamsburg office complex

Williamsburg's first office building in more than 50 years is set to rise at 25 Kent Avenue. Designed by San Francisco's Gensler and New York–based Hollwich Kushner (HWKN), the office complex will span 480,000 square feet, rising to eight stories with space available for commercial and manufacturing purposes, as well as an extensive public courtyard area. Brooklyn-based Heritage Equity Partners is the developer.

Crucially, to make the development happen, the city approved a special zoning district that permits developers to trade light manufacturing space for extra office construction.

Approved by the City Council and City Planning Commission, YIMBY reports that the new zoning rules allow for greater design flexibility and mandate less parking to encourage office development. The “Enhanced Business Area” is set to incorporate much of the North Williamsburg Industrial Business Zone, a zoning area which, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation, seeks to "protect existing manufacturing districts and encourage industrial growth citywide."

As for the building itself, a stepped-back brick facade respects the surrounding context while certain structural elements are revealed behind glass to establish a modern yet industrial feel. “At the east and west ends of the building, it’s as if an old building was sliced and we put a curtain wall on,” said Joseph Brancato of Gensler. The scheme will also have 16-foot slab-to-slab heights to facilitate adequate daylighting made possible through large windows deployed throughout the building. Per the new zoning regulations, the number of parking spaces have been set to 275—all situated underground. Before the zoning rules kicked in, the scheme would have had to made room for 1,200 parking spaces.

According to Toby Moskovits of Heritage Equity Partners in Brownstoner, the staggered facade enables office and manufacturing spaces to be modular and have greater flexibility. Startups, whatever stage of development they may be in, would be able to step into 25 Kent Avenue at any time, while amenities such as cafes can be positioned centrally on every level.

Moskovits argued that the development will support Williamsburg by “giving economic opportunity to small businesses and people in the community who need jobs.”  Moskovits added: “We’re of the community and we are entrepreneurs. Our goal is to tenant the building in a way that makes sense for the neighborhood...We believe passionately in what we are doing."

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NBA Store offers portal into world wide web of basketball culture

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      The NBA Store, occupying a 25,000-square-foot corner storefront on Fifth Avenue at 45th Street, offers an immersive shopping experience for NBA fans. The store, designed by Gensler in conjunction with Kurt Salmon and TAD Associates, is a multidimensional design effort that merges basketball memorabilia with technology to produce unique interactive experiences. Three floors of jerseys, hoodies, and hats, along with other official memorabilia spanning NBA, WNBA, and NBA D-League teams, are showcased to the public with a double height glass and aluminum facade. Set in the circular corner bay of the storefront, 31,000 LED lights form a two-story tall skewed grid that evokes the form of a basketball net. The 32-foot tall structure is capped by a sculpture designed to replicate a basketball tread—presumably on its way to “swooshing” through the LED net.
  • Facade Manufacturer Pure + Freeform
  • Architects Gensler
  • Facade Installer MBM Metal Works
  • Facade Consultants Studio NYL
  • Location New York City
  • Date of Completion anticipated completion date November, 2016
  • System curtainwall with 3mm aluminum plate trim, eyebrow and cured portal, interior wall
  • Products 3mm aluminum with bespoke 8 unit finish, lumiflon coating
Surfaces with hardwood floor patterning derived from the league’s recognizable maple wood courts extend outward beyond the glass facade to form portals and awnings. The aluminum panels are a product of Pure + Freeform, a bespoke metal company that according to Operations Director Will Pilkington, operates as “contextual, site-specific designers." Gensler, interested in the idea of bringing a durable “hardwood court” aesthetic to the exterior facade, initially approached the company. The process began with sending a sample of Madison Square Garden’s court which was sent to Pure + Freeform’s design team, which digitally copied the material properties of the court and created multiple diamond and laser engraved steel “design cylinders” capturing aesthetic qualities of the classic hardwood court. The cylinders etch into a one-eighth-inch aluminum plate through a controlled process of adding pearlized inks and resin. The plates are then baked to seal in the print. This exterior lumiflon resin technology process highlights Pure + Freeform’s “solutions-based manufacturing style” which involves production lines that add up to a 1/4 mile in length. "The best thing about our process is we can create purposeful, site-specific finishes, but then they can be formed in almost any way to emphasize their depth and character," explained Pilkington. The technology allows for a wide range of coloration, design, texture, and glossiness, allowing the design team to accurately produce a staggering array of material effects from natural stone and wood finishes to a variety of metallic, abstract, and bespoke finishes. Additionally, the printed resin fabrication process allows for the metal surface to be post-formed in a variety of challenging bent and folded configurations that typical painted surfaces would not hold up to. The NBA Store utilizes these abilities through a radiused concealed fastener application, forming the inner lining to the NBA’s trademarked logo, massively scaled up to the double height facade elevation. The material was used for interior wall paneling as well. Beyond the facade, over-scale elements play a key role in the design, evoking the larger-than-life feeling fans may have when finding themselves standing next to basketball’s greatest players. A 40-foot footwear wall made from an undulating nylon “shoelace”, a Spalding basketball chandelier featuring 68 game balls, and a wall of 2,500 hats covering every team are among the store’s most architectural features. Departments are designed to produce basketball-specific environments. A children’s section doubles as a locker room, while video screens saturate the main floors arena-like vibe with a 400-square-foot video wall broadcasting highlights, news, and social media posts to keep fans up to date. Personalization areas highlight a retail strategy that seeks to extend beyond the limits of a physical store, tapping into a vast number of online products, social media conversations, and customizable NBA merchandise. “It makes a 15,000-square-foot store like a 100,000-square-foot warehouse,” said Ross Tannenbaum, president of memorabilia and in-venue divisions for Fanatics, which is operating the store. In this sense, the retail store acts as a virtual portal of sorts, offering fans a virtual experience when entering the physical space.
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Gensler-designed OUE Skyspace debuts in Los Angeles

The Gensler-designed $60 million rehaul of the US Bank Tower’s public areas in downtown Los Angeles opened this weekend in Los Angeles. Renovations for the original 1,015-foot tall building, designed by Henry Cobb of the architectural firm Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, came about after several years of high vacancy rates for the office building. When the building came under the ownership of Singapore-based Overseas Union Enterprise (OUE) in 2014, plans were floated to convert a portion of the building to residences and a hotel. Eventually, however, the owners and Gensler decided to pursue a modest renovation of key elements of the existing structure, adding tourist-oriented program elements to what will continue to otherwise to be an office building. The renovation includes a new ground-level plaza and lobby area, as well as a snaking labyrinth of so-called “digital interactivity” spaces, including moody hallways, panoramic video displays, and movement-sensitive light installations on the 54th floor. Because the building’s existing elevator configuration could not be altered, this floor’s waiting areas are a required stop on the way to the 70th floor OUE Skyspace viewing platform and restaurant. The big ticket item for the new OUE Skyspace is a 1¼ inch-thick glass panel slide that exits the building’s envelope at the 70th floor, curves out over the city 1000 feet below, and swoops back onto an outdoor terrace at the 69th floor, where the rider is dumped onto a red, padded mat. At $8 per ride, the slide’s to price tag luckily leaves room for second guessing, as the long line leading to the terrifying threshold is the perfect place to see and hear screaming thrill seekers tumble through the air just outside the building. The slide, designed by Brooklyn-based engineer M.Ludvik & Co consulting engineers, requires the user to scoot over a precipice into the hazy abyss beyond. In a region short on tall buildings, the new viewing area will join a growing list of sky-high vistas including the rotating bar atop the Bonaventure Hotel and the more recent rooftop bars at the Ace and Standard Hotels. The slowly rising steel frame of the nearby Wilshire Grand Hotel will also boast a rooftop pool terrace over 900 feet above the street when completed in early 2017.
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Denver’s airport additions aims high, but the city needs more than one-off showcase projects

On April 22, the city of Denver inaugurated the Denver International Airport Transit Center, a commuter rail terminal that anchors the previously completed Westin hotel. The transit center provides Denver with a key piece of infrastructure (not to mention a signifier of ambition and status) while finally completing a plan that was over 20 years in the making.

In the transit center and associated hotel, Gensler’s steady hand has provided Denver with a handsome, if unexceptional, addition to the airport. Few designs, including Calatrava’s original proposal, could match the tectonic celebration that is the original Fentress Architects–designed terminal. However, Gensler carefully crafted a piece of architecture that is deferential to the unique and timelessly beautiful structure, while humbly presenting its own attractive qualities. From the catenary swoop of the Westin roof to the well-executed structural canopies interpenetrating it, this is a project that aspires to deliver great design in spite of the city’s traditionally conservative approach to architecture.

The transit center suffers from a common problem in Denver projects: an uneven approach to landscape. Denver-based landscape architects Valerian and studioINSITE provided a variety of landscaped spaces, but it seems that only those that are inaccessible and visible from afar are attractive. The crux of the project—the plaza between the new hotel and the existing terminal hall through which passengers pass when moving from the train station to the airport terminal—is a drab beige and lifeless expanse of brick pavers and an insult to the original terminal and the aspirations of this new addition.

 

 

A major component was the procurement of a wide variety of public art and its integration with the architectural and landscape design. In most cases, such as Patrick Marold’s Shadow Array, it supplements the design in a harmonious and aesthetically pleasing way. In the grand public plaza, however, Ned Kahn’s kinetic artwork only adds to the lifeless melancholia, making the traveler wish for a patch of swaying greenery, which, ironically, Kahn’s piece is supposed to evoke.

Denver’s new train line is anchored by exceptional architecture on both ends (SOM’s canopy at Union Station is a symphony of structure and simplicity), as well as generally impressive pieces of monumental public art at every station. Yet the project is being used to justify and support the unsustainable suburban sprawl slowly creeping eastward. The city has focused on the financial impact of additional airport hotels and conference centers being developed at the Peña Boulevard station, but one must wonder what value they add to Denver’s culture and what environmental and social debt we have incurred by supporting their construction. Not all commuters and visitors will use transit, and the burdens of commuting weigh unevenly on the most marginalized and financially strained citizens among us.

If the city does intend to stitch together the thirty mile gap between central Denver and the airport with new development, we should aim higher than lifeless beige boxes surrounded by parking lots in spite of the transit line just feet away. Conversely, while central Denver’s Union Station and the adjacent train canopy provide viable anchors for downtown revitalization, they are hemmed in and overpowered by ramparts of beige stucco and cement siding. Marketing materials for both the transit center and Union Station have championed the economic impact of the development they will spur, which is no doubt important, but architecture aspires to be measured by more than function and economic effect.

Just as the design of this new hotel and transit center ignores the spaces that knit the project together with the past, so has Denver ignored the workaday spaces that compose the majority of the city. City government (and, by extension, the voters) seem to believe that no matter how dismal the majority of urban infill is (or how unsustainable development in an empty field is), they can drop a Libeskind, Graves, or Calatrava in the middle of it and somehow lend Denver the cultural and aesthetic capital they feel it should have. The overlooked projects that make up the urban fabric have been so thoroughly neglected—in form and execution and analysis and criticism—that the city lacks the cultural vocabulary necessary to articulate what is off about its built environment. Like many American cities, Denver is struggling with its low zoning density, huge numbers of cars, uncultivated aesthetic standards, and particularly oppressive height restrictions. Projects like Denver International Airport’s Hotel and Transit Center (and the larger FasTracks regional transit initiative) are but the germ of a solution.

One attractive project alone cannot chart a new course for architectural and urban design in the city. Denver is blessed with many of the ingredients necessary for a sophisticated and expressive regional modernism to flourish: a native population that cherishes the city, a steady stream of immigrants, a strong environmental consciousness, plentiful local materials, robust building trades, advanced manufacturing and fabrication, and a unique climate. What the city requires is an elevated discourse around architecture and urbanism that goes beyond a limited number of showcase projects and is fostered by the same degree of cultural investment and education that Denver has put into its public art program and economic development initiatives—the results of which speak for themselves.

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Gensler to design the interiors of the new Golden State Warriors arena

Architecture firm Gensler has won the commission to design the interior of the Chase Center, which will be located in the firm's native city of San Francisco. The arena, which will be constructed in the Mission Bay area, will host the home matches of the Golden State Warriors in time for the 2019-20 NBA season. Collaborating with Kansas City-based firm MANICA Architecture, who produced proposals for the arena's exterior, Gensler will fit out the 18,000-capacity stadium's concourses, clubs, suites, administrative offices, home and visiting locker rooms, as well as other visitor facilities such as concession areas, sponsor zones, a team store, and retail spaces. The Chase Center aims to create a new 11-acre district that will offer other amenities including restaurants, cafes, offices, and public plazas that aren't otherwise easy to find in the area. A new five-and-a half-acre public waterfront park will be built nearby; the Chase Center itself will have connections to a major Muni Metro rail line and the BART system. Once built, the arena is set to be the "only privately-financed facility of its kind built on private property in the modern era." "Gensler is a perfect fit for Chase Center, bringing both incredible local experience and extensive global expertise to our project—and, of course, a track record of architectural excellence," said Stephen Collins, Chief Operating Officer of Chase Center in a press release. "We want an arena that is a reflection of the Bay Area, but also a stand-out in the world of sports and entertainment. Gensler will help us achieve that mission." "Gensler is excited to join the current design team on such a significant project as Chase Center," said Gensler Sports Principal-in-Charge, Ron Turner, FAIA. "When complete, this will be a showpiece for the NBA, the Warriors, and the Bay Area, so helping to achieve this will be a distinct pleasure for our group."
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Gensler given the green light for new Del Mar College campus

San Francisco firm Gensler's proposal for the new 96 acre Del Mar College campus in Corpus Christi, Texas has been given the official go-ahead. The campus will be located in the city’s Southside on the corner of Yorktown Boulevard and Rodd Field Road.

A timeline and funding for the scheme hasn't yet been established. However, planning for the project is due to total $1.8 million, financed from a bond package which was given voter approval in 2014. According to the Caller Times, officials have said a “funding source to build the campus will likely be in the hands of voters.”

Last year the college saw more than 24,000 students take part in credit and continuing education courses. "What we have is an opportunity to enlarge theses programs,” Del Mar’s vice president of Workforce Development and Strategic Initiatives Lenora Keas said. She also reiterated the necessity for the college’s expansion, saying that the courses offered are almost at capacity. Enrollment numbers for workforce and continuing education courses have witnessed growth of 76 percent over the last five years. "The demand is there like never before," said Escamilla.

Continuing education courses would be offered at the new campus—which would serve up to 20,000 students—as well as engineering, computer science, hospitality and architecture, among others.

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Upgrades to Ford Foundation Building are approved

On April 19, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) approved the $190 million renovation to the Ford Foundation Building at 320 East 43rd Street. The building, designed by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates with its iconic atrium by designer Dan Kiley, has been largely untouched since it was completed in 1967. In 1997, the LPC designated the exterior, atrium glass walls, and garden of the foundation headquarters as official landmarks. The new upgrades are mostly focused on bringing the building up to code and will be conducted by Gensler with Bill Higgins of Higgins Quasebarth & Partners as consultants, while Raymond Jungles Studio will handle the plantings.

This undertaking will include doubling conference space and dedicating two floors to other nonprofit organizations, creating a new visitors center, art gallery, and public event spaces, and reducing Ford’s own office area by one-third.

Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, said, “This means more accessibility for people with disabilities; [and a place that is] more open to visitors and the public, including a visitors center and art gallery; more open to our colleagues and sister institutions through expanded meeting facilities; and a more open working environment for our own staff to encourage collaboration and reduce hierarchy.”

However, at the presentation in April, commissioners and Historic District Council (HDC) director of advocacy and community outreach Kelly Carroll had reservations. Carroll pointed out that many of the buildings the HDC reviews have little evidence of their former glory, while the Ford Foundation still retains its original brass doors, planters, modernist tile pavers, and signature indoor-outdoor flow—a rare gift. “An approval [to remove features] today can easily be a regret a generation from now,” she said. In particular, she voiced concerns over removing planters—which are currently ADA compliant—and suggested that the team look into automating the bronze doors rather than tossing them.

Others, such as Tara Kelly of the Municipal Art Society, expressed similar concerns and suggested more greenery on the facade and entrance on 42nd Street. In the end, commissioners voted to approve changes. The renovation is expected to be complete by 2019.