After a bitter fight at Bergamot Art Station, the Santa Monica Museum of Art is decamping to Downtown Los Angeles. Reports of an eastward move come with hints of a necessary name change as well a shortlist for its new space in the Arts District. Players are tightlipped, but AN’s sources say Gensler, Zellner Naecker Architects, and wHY (a longtime museum collaborator) have been invited to submit design proposals.
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When MoMA debuted its Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R)–led expansion and renovation plans in 2014, the reaction from the public was overwhelmingly negative. Those plans called for demolishing the Tod Williams and Billie Tsien–designed American Folk Art Museum and creating a glass curtain wall that would open MoMA's entire first floor to the public, for free. It's not the free part critics took issue with: It was the perceived chaos of the museum-goer experience and wholesale destruction of the folk art museum. MoMA took note, and pulled plans back. This week, revised plans were revealed. DS+R is still the architect (with Gensler), and the original objective—to create unfettered movement between galleries—remains. But a lot has also changed. Plans call for connecting galleries in Jean Nouvel’s planned residential tower at West 53rd Street, the new DS+R addition, galleries in the site of the former American Folk Art Museum, and the current MoMA building to broaden public access and accommodate skyrocketing attendance. Renovations and new construction will add 50,000 square feet of exhibition space, and expand the lobbies. When construction is complete, MoMA will be 744,000 square feet, or 17 percent, larger than it is today. The fluidity of the program, museum officials and observers contend, signal MoMA’s move away from traditional departmental categories towards more interdisciplinary collaboration. Martino Stierli, the museum’s chief curator of architecture and design, told the New York Times that MoMA is “really using this moment of renovation to explore other ways to see our collection—looking at how media can interact. We want to make use of this time to try new things.” Given the museum's increasing popularity, more people will see these new concepts in practice. Since 2004, the year that Yoshio Taniguchi's $858 million addition opened to the public, the collection has grown by 40 percent, the number of yearly exhibitions has increased from 15 to 35, membership has reached 150,000, and attendance has doubled to three million annual visitors. The project is being split into three phases so the museum will not have to close completely. DS+R’s structure will be the last of the three: The first phase will be changes to the Lauder Building, where audiences now enter for film screenings, followed by renovations to the Taniguchi building. The Lauder building's east lobby will be expanded to improve crowd flow to the main lobby, and the gift shop and bookstore will be moved below ground to facilitate the expansion. Broadening public access will be achieved by different means than those put forth in the plan's first iteration. A new public entrance to the 54th Street sculpture garden was nixed due to security concerns. The “Art Bay," a retractable glass door would have allowed museumgoers to enter ground-floor galleries straight from the street, has also disappeared from plans. Instead, the first floor will have a free gallery with two exhibition spaces (one double height, for MoMA's Project Series) that's open to the public, but accessed through the museum lobby. A new canopy and a double height ceiling at the 53rd Street entrance will give extra visibility to the museum's main entrance. The double height ceiling will displace the media gallery, whose contents could be moved to a fourth floor gallery for media and performance. To accommodate larger pieces, or pieces of the future whose spatial requirements cannot yet be determined, none of the new galleries will have permanent walls, and collections galleries will be almost column-free. The four third-floor galleries (including galleries for architecture, photography, drawings, and special exhibition) will be merged into two galleries of 10,000 and 5,000 square feet. Glass, steel, and stone will be traded for a warmer palette to unify the changes. Construction on the $390 to $400 million project will begin next month. Although completion is contingent on the project timeline of the Nouvel building, all construction is expected to be complete by 2019 or 2020.
The Willis Tower (formerly known as, and still referred to by locals as, the Sears Tower) has been bumped from the Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat’s (CTBUH) top ten tallest buildings in the world list with the completion of the Gensler-designed Shanghai Tower in Shanghai, China. The significance of the Willis Tower’s fall from the top ten is in the fact that Chicago, as the birthplace of the skyscraper typology, has consistently been included in the list of top ten tallest buildings for at least the last 50 years. At 1,450 feet tall, the Willis Tower held the position of tallest in the world for 24 years from 1974–1998, when it was topped by the 1,483-foot-tall Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Council on Tall Building and Urban Habitat measures buildings “from the level of the lowest, significant, open-air, pedestrian entrance to the architectural top of the building, including spires, but not including antennae, signage, flagpoles or other functional-technical equipment” Perhaps in a twist of irony, the tallest buildings in the world that have pushed Chicago out of the rankings have often been designed in Chicago or by Chicago-based offices. Though designed in its San Francisco office, the Shanghai Tower is the work of Chicago-based Gensler. The current world’s tallest building, Dubai's 2,717-foot-tall Burj Khalifa, was designed by Chicago-based SOM, also the designers of the Willis Tower. SOM is also responsible for the design of One World Trade Center in New York, which bumped the Willis Tower from its position as tallest building in the United States. Chicago-based Adrian Smith of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill, former design partner and head of the Burj Khalifa project at SOM, is also responsible for the Jeddah Tower which will take the crown of tallest in the world when it is completed in 2020, rising over Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, at a height of over 3,300 feet. Though Chicago no longer boasts the tallest skyline, the expertise of its architects is in higher demand than ever. According to the CTBUH, Chicago’s Willis Tower, and many other towers in the United States, will hardly break the top 50 tallest buildings in the world within the next 10 years, yet it can counted on that many of the multitudes of Asian towers soon to be crowding the top will be designed in the city where it all began.
New York City’s ubiquitous sidewalk sheds re-imagined by PBDW, Gensler, Gannett Fleming, and Francis Cauffman
What's uglier than a construction shed? The sheds cover nearly 200 miles (!) of sidewalks across the five boroughs, enveloping pedestrians in drab tunnels of darkness. Past competitions in New York City have attempted to resolve the ubiquitous blight that sheds present, but the winning designs were never implemented. Now, the New York Building Congress has announced four winners of its Construction Shed Design Competition, an invitation to create a more aesthetically pleasing shed. A jury of 14 architects, engineers, and city officials selected Gensler's G-Shed, Gannett Fleming's ScaffoldWing, Francis Cauffman's Side+Ways+Shed, and PBDW Architects and Anastos Engineering Associates' UrbanArbor as the competition's winners, from a pool of 33 entries. “The New York Building Congress issued a challenge to the industry to use its ingenuity and expertise to offer fresh ideas for solving a vexing quality of life issue for New Yorkers, who experience the construction industry most often when navigating the obstructions and cramped spaces of construction sheds,” proclaimed Thomas Scarangello, Chairman of the Building Congress and its innovation task force, in a statement. “The industry’s collective response has been truly inspirational.” The four designs had to meet stringent New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) requirements that regulate sheds for commercial construction of residential and commercial properties, as well as abide by masonry repair regulations set out in Local Law 11. The designs reduce or eliminate the shed supports that obstruct pedestrian flow. They open at the curb line, allowing light to penetrate the sidewalk up to the building wall. To facilitate widespread use, the designs are constructed from ready-made materials, are cost-effective and off-the-shelf, as well. In a vote of confidence, the UrbanArbor design will be used at upcoming New York City Department of Design and Construction projects. Take a look at the winning projects: Gensler's G-Shed's modular poles fit can be braced in different configurations, creating an arcade that enhances the street presence of ground-floor retail. ScaffoldWing's roof decking is made from translucent polycarbonate panels to allow light in from above. Side+Ways+Shed photovoltaic-powered LEDs mitigate the low lighting and "tunnel effect" that plagues the typical construction shed. The supporting columns are wrapped in customizable, patterned fabric to enliven the streetscape. UrbanArbor's Y-shaped, diagonally-braced posts refrence trees, while reducing the density of supporting posts by 50 percent. Translucent polycarbonate parapets afford maximum daylight at sidewalk level while LED lights and solar panels save energy.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was on hand for last week's groundbreaking of Chicago’s next new sports and entertainment arena by Pelli Clarke Pelli. The 10,000 seat McCormick Place Event Center will add to the already vast McCormick Place convention facilities as well as be the home court for the DePaul University Blue Demon’s college basketball team. Designed by New Haven–based Pelli Clarke Pelli, the 300,000 square foot arena will be connected to a 51-story, 1,200-room Marriott hotel by Gensler, also currently under construction. Scheduled to open in 2017, before the 2017–18 basketball season, the Event Center will also function as a concert venue and convention space. Filling an entire block, the arena steps back at its corners, providing outdoor gathering space. The building's expansive glass facade is punctuated by intermittent corrugated metal–paneled pavilions enclosing the building's services. Large digital displays weave from interior to exterior, broadcasting the night’s events, and animating the arena facade. The highly transparent entrances are meant to extend the arena’s experience out on to the public plaza and surrounding streets. As a means of connecting the project more directly to the neighborhood, the main event floor as well as concourse will sit at street level. Along with the highly transparent façade, there is a possibility that some of the restaurants and concessions may be accessible from the exterior of the building. A reveal in the seating will also allow for a direct view into the event space and to student seating area from the street. The building's most noticeable design element is its curved membrane roof. The light-weight structure arches over the event floor and seating in an homage to other gathering spaces in Chicago, such as the Auditorium Theater and the Grand Ballroom of Navy Pier. The nature of the roof also allows for large gill-like apertures, which will be lit at night, broadcasting the arena into the city.
Although the weather seems like summer will never end, fall has been a tizzy of school daze–related comings and goings. After raising eyebrows a couple years ago when he left his practice and teaching behind to join AECOM’s Los Angeles office, Peter Zellner recently left the corporate world to hang a shingle with former AECOM-er Paul Naecker and is back molding young minds at SCI-Arc. Going from gown to town, Roger Sherman, long-time UCLA faculty and co-director of the urban think tank CityLAB, is now Urban Projects Director at Gensler. Splitting the difference, Predock Frane Architects shuttered after 15 years, with principals Hadrian Predock and John Frane going their separate ways. The former is heading to USC to don cardinal and gold as undergraduate director of architecture and the latter will be joining the executive suite at HGA Architects and Engineers as associate vice president and principal in the L.A. office.
Not content with 423,000 square feet designed by SHoP Architects in San Francisco’s Mission Bay, Uber is expanding into Oakland. The company purchased the former Sears building from developer Lane Partners, who bought the building last year. Genlser is on deck to transform the old department store into 330,000 square feet of creative office space. The iconic chunk of real estate prominently faces both Broadway and Telegraph Avenue and its redevelopment marks a turning point for Oakland. Renamed Uptown Station, the building is located atop the 19th Street BART station. The ride-share company plans to locate up to 3,000 employees in the Oakland headquarters, noting that some 2,000 Uber employees currently live in the East Bay. According to the San Francisco Business Times, the expansion is a game changer for Oakland. It reported that if Uber fills the whole space, it “would become Oakland’s largest employer, that isn’t a government agency or medical center.” Gensler’s proposed renovation of the Sears Building comes with a possible $40 million dollar price tag. Interactive renderings done by Steelblue for Lane Partners show the old building stripped down to the concrete and brick, with an 85-foot-tall atrium spilling light into an interior courtyard full of retail spaces on the first floor. "We're proud that Uber was attracted to Oakland's creative energy, incredible talent, progressive values, prime location and accessibility to the entire region," Oakland Mayor Leslie Schaaf was quoted as saying in the San Jose Mercury News. While Uber will surely attract more investment in the neighborhood, Downtown Oakland’s revival since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake has also led to increasing displacement in the city’s urban core. Last month, UC Berkeley researchers at the Project For Urban Development released a study that tracks displacement and gentrification in the region. The accompanying interactive map shows a swath of advanced gentrification along Broadway from the Old Oakland historic district to the Temescal neighborhood.
Ricardo Legorreta’s much maligned design for Pershing Square is getting a makeover. The day after the Los Angeles City Council voted to support a public-private partnership to overhaul the five-acre urban park, councilmember José Huizar and Pershing Square Renew announced an international design competition geared to rethink the open space that now sits ingloriously on top of an underground parking garage. The design competition grew out of a task force established by Huizar, which members of the design, development, and policy communities, including Macarlane Partners, Gensler, NBBJ, JFM Development, LA Recreation & Parks, and the Urban Land Institute. MacFarlane Partners, which is developing 99,000 square-foot site overlooking the square, pledged $1 million pledge to seed Pershing Square Renew. The Department of Recreation and Parks earmarked $1 million for “immediate future for infrastructure improvements and amenities.” In 2013, AN published a series of renderings by Gensler of a reimagined Pershing Square. Rather than being an early entry into the contest, that design was a catalyst for recognizing the space’s potential. The firm is now the Urban Design Advisor to Pershing Square Renew and cannot participate in the competition. Remarks by Huizar at a city hall press conference emphasized the need for community input at every stage of the design process. The stakeholders in Downtown Los Angeles in 2015 are vastly different from 1992 when Legoretta’s project opened. The goal is to make the square more welcoming and accessible to all users. Because there are more residents and businesses downtown, the competition brief stresses that the park needs to accommodate a number of uses at any time of day or night. In early 2015, Project for Public Spaces hosted a series of outreach events and workshops, and a report of activities and programmatic vision is included as part of the competition brief materials. “The architecture doesn’t support use now,” said Huizar of Legorreta’s belltower and brightly colored walls. Frustrated at how “fortress-like” the existing park seems, he hopes instead for a town square. “Use informs design, not design informs use,” he noted. The brief and accompanying report suggests that proposed designs could incorporate surrounding roadways and sidewalks, with occasional street closures for events. One challenge for all design proposals is how to tackle the ramps leading into the parking structure; a hurdle that Gensler’s Brian Glodney described as “Like a moat.” The competition also raises some tough questions about the role of architecture in relationship to placemaking and community engagement. “Our intention is not to create a masterpiece, but to create a canvas that invites the community to create their own masterpieces in how they use the space,” said Eduardo Santana, executive director of Pershing Square Renew. The competition asks for letters of interest to be submitted this month, followed by a request for qualifications in October. A shortlist of firms will be asked to submit proposals to a jury. Finalists will present to the jury in February with a winner announced later that month. The renewed Pershing Square is planned to open in 2020.
A new parklet has popped up in Washington D.C., and unlike the short-lived public spaces that appear in parking spaces for PARK(ing) Day, this one is sticking around until mid-October. The seasonal space, dubbed parKIT, opened on July 14 and takes over two parking spots. parKIT features yellow triangular benches and planters and was created by two designers at Gensler who won an in-house competition for the project. (The parklet sits right outside of Gensler's Washington office. Golden Triangle Business Improvement District funded the project and will be hosting small events with Gensler in the space once a week. "We are always looking for more ways for people to enjoy the outdoors in our great neighborhood," said Leona Agouridis, executive director of the BID in a statement. "While we have many parks, this is a fun way to think differently about a part of our community." If you're in the District and want to park it at parKIT, swing by 2020 K Street NW. [h/t GreaterGreaterWashington]
Playful op-art beats out fifty shades of gray in competition to design new Los Angeles Convention Center
Call it a win for color. A bright-hued design for the renovation and expansion of the Los Angeles Convention Center by Populous and HMC Architects beat out the gray proposals by the other two finalists—Gensler and Lehrer Architects and AC Martin and LMN Architects—in a city-led competition. As previously reported by AN, the competition and design selection marks an important first step in the “Expansion and Futurization Project” led by the L.A. Department of Convention and Tourism Development and the Bureau of Engineering, which sees remaking the currently dowdy and cramped convention center as critical to attracting conventions, events, and investment to the area. A four-representative panel from the city’s tourism and engineering departments selected the winner. Each proposal was required to come in under a budget of $350 million. Populous and HMC Architects’ team includes landscape firm Olin and Chu + Gooding Architects. Per the brief, their design connects the South Hall and West Hall of the convention center with a structure over Pico Boulevard and expands the venue with more meeting rooms and a series of outdoor multi-use spaces, including a covered, but open-air performance venue overlooking a refurbished Gilbert Lindsay Plaza. Op-art supergraphics unite the scheme, with a tomato red and white stripe pattern appearing as paving, wall treatments, and architectural elements. It's a bold take on the conventional convention center approach, which for years was marked by interiority and overall blandness. Like the dazzle dazzle camouflage used on battleships, the move lessens the building's bulk while making it infinitely more exciting. The Populous/HMC proposal now goes to the City Council for approval.
Here are three bold designs from winning teams that completely reimagine the Los Angeles Convention Center
The Los Angeles Convention Center is desperately in need of an overhaul. Architect Charles Luckman designed the original boxy structure in 1971 and James Ingo Freed added the glassy Annex in 1997. Today, both buildings lack the square footage and amenities to add up to a competitive venue. Centers in Las Vegas or Chicago eclipse LA’s meager 870,000 square feet by double or triple square footage. Indeed, in the decades since the venue was constructed the whole approach to convention center design has changed. The City of Los Angeles announced the three final teams in a design competition for a proposed renovation and expansion of the Los Angeles Convention Center: AC Martin and LMN Architects, Gensler and Lehrer Architects, and HMC Architects and Populous. The schemes, on public view at the convention center through June 4, reflect the need for not only a bigger, more contemporary venue, but for a full-service destination, not unlike nearby LA Live. As the South Park neighborhood continues to boom, renderings show connections between the older buildings across Pico Boulevard, and include landscaped outdoor spaces, bold supergraphics, and open-air entertainment areas equipped for concerts. Each design comes in under a budget of $350 million or less. A comparison to LA Live is no accident. AEG, developers of that venue as well as the Staples Center and the Ritz-Carlton/J.W. Marriott, were contracted to revamp the dumpy Convention Center as part of the defunct Farmers Field NFL stadium plan. The design competition was launched in late 2014 before AEG announced that it would no longer pursue the stadium project. As part of the larger “Expansion and Futurization Project” for the Los Angeles Convention Center, the City of Los Angeles' (led by the L.A. Department of Convention and Tourism Development and the Bureau of Engineering) competition is somewhat of a back-up plan to ensure that LA remains a draw. “Today, we’re taking a big step forward in investing in our future and bringing more business, more visitors, and more jobs to our city,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “I’m very pleased that with these functional and attractive designs, Los Angeles is closer to a Convention Center that reflects our city’s position as the global capital of creativity, innovation, and possibility.”
For Kristopher Stuart, design director and principal at Gensler, Houston's rapid evolution is exactly what makes practicing architecture there exciting."Houston is a city of change and a great testing ground for new ideas," he said. "The past decade has been particularly robust for design and construction, so we've developed some excellent benchmark projects representing the current state-of-the-art for facade design. The new projects focus on sustainability and resilience with our often extreme local weather in mind; wellness and connectivity that improve the quality of life for people; and performance and innovation that make buildings smarter, more efficient and more cost effective for owners and managers." Next month, Stuart will co-chair Facades+AM Houston, a half-day version of the acclaimed Facades+ conference series. The morning seminar comprises three panels featuring three experts each on topics relevant to AEC industry professionals, observers, and students in Houston and beyond. The June 18 event marks the symposium's Energy City debut. Facades+AM Houston attendees will not have to look far to find examples of innovative envelope design and construction. Stuart cited several recently-completed projects in the city's "energy corridor," plus high performance buildings for Anadarko, ExxonMobile, and Southwestern Energy north of downtown. Downtown, construction is presently underway on Skanska's Capitol Tower and 609 Main, developed by Hines. "It will be exciting to see this next generation of buildings emerge, iconic buildings that will raise the performance bar while enhancing the human experience within the urban environment," Stuart noted. He also pointed to some of the Midway Companies' recent or planned work including CityCentre and Kirby Grove, describing them as "more contextual, urban infill projects that are looking at facades from an experiential as well as a performance perspective, projects that will impact the way we think about facades in the Houston design community." In Stuart's view, Houston's challenging climate has pushed the local AEC industry to a deeper understanding of how design decisions affect performance. The community has also been successful in cultivating relationships with facades consultants and fabricators to execute efficient envelopes. "One might say that we've mastered the basics, and now need to shift our focus to innovative materials and fabrication techniques as well as unique collaboration relationships in order to achieve more dramatic performance enhancements that will be executable and affordable," he said. Stuart looks forward to the June 18 conversation with other movers and shakers in the field of high performance envelope design. "Facades+AM Houston is a unique opportunity to share some outstanding work that has been executed recently either in Houston or by Houston design firms, to hear about facade innovations from academic and industry experts, and to engage in a conversation about the future of building facades in the Houston market," said Stuart. To learn more or to register for Facades+AM Houston, visit the event website.