As with most new towers these days, the offices and apartments rising at Hudson Yards are unsurprisingly wrapped in glossy, glass skins. That is why revised renderings for the new kid on the block, 55 Hudson Yards, are so notable. The 51-story office tower has plenty of floor-to-ceiling windows, but those windows are framed by a metallic grid that encases the entire building. At certain points that metallic wrap disappears as if space has been carved out of the building's exterior. The 1.3-million-square-foot tower was designed by Eugene Kohn of Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) and Kevin Roche of Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates. According to a press release from developer Related, 55 Hudson Yards is inspired by “Soho and early modernism.” KPF has designed many of the Yards’ towers, but for this site, Related chairman Stephen Ross reportedly wanted to try something different. According to the Wall Street Journal, Ross asked Kohn to work with a “fresh face” to design a tower that added some architectural variety to the development. That fresh face came in the form of Roche who is famous for designing the celebrated Ford Foundation in the 1960s. Roche told the Journal that, for this project, he wanted to create a building that is “simple and straightforward, that meets the needs of the developers and occupants—a basic, fundamental sculpture." But Roche was reportedly only involved in the early parts of this project, with Kohn and his firm overseeing the major design elements.
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At long last, the recession-doomed site of the high-rise condo complex known as Park Fifth is seeing some action. This particular patch of ground, across the street from Pershing Square near downtown Los Angeles, has been the subject of a tug-of-war between would-be investors and market forces for at least seven years. Park Fifth, a pair of 76- and 41-story towers designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, went down with the real estate bubble in 2008. Even the current project, dubbed 5-OH, has seen a lot of uncertainty during its relatively short life. “We went through a lot of studies and a lot of different client groups,” said Harley Ellis Devereaux’s Daniel Gehman. “[There were] a lot of shifting sands.” Today things look more certain. MacFarlane Partners bought the site in October of last year, and are moving ahead with a pair of residential towers Gehman estimates will cost (very roughly) $260 million. 5-OH has already cruised through its zoning administrator hearing. If all goes well, construction crews will break ground in early 2015. Though smaller than Park Fifth would have been, 5-OH’s 615 residential units—split between a 24-story high-rise and its seven-story companion—dwarf what earlier plans envisioned. Several previous clients “tried to get it approved as a seven-story building, [but] it became evident in working with the council office that that wasn’t going to fly,” said Gehman. Harley Ellis Deveraux looked at the site and found that “there was a very evident place to put a tower.” From there, said Gehman, the high-rise practically planned itself, with the space in back reserved for the smaller building. In terms of aesthetics, the architects had two options. They could design a contemporary complex within the strict parameters of downtown design guidelines. Or they could draw on the existing historic building stock for inspiration. “We decided to be as contextual as possible,” Gehman explained. “We wanted the buildings to feel like they’re playing nice with their neighbors rather than getting into their face.” On its street sides, the mid-rise is clad in cement-fiber and metal panels. In the courtyards, the architects opted for plaster and other traditional residential materials. The courtyard balconies’ metal railings mimic the fire escapes of the older buildings nearby. The 24-story tower is much more glassy, but in a way that pays homage to its neighbors, particularly the Title Guarantee Building. “There’s a motif of trying to get the windows to look like they’re recessed in a thicker wall. It’s not a glass box, but glass strategically placed,” said Gehman. The cream-colored panelized metal skin creates “sort of abstracted traditional forms rendered in contemporary materials.” A community room and pool deck on top of the taller structure will provide views of both the historic core and the taller contemporary towers to the west. “One of the reasons I like the site so much is it’s extremely transit-rich,” said Gehman. There are bus stops at every corner, plus the Pershing Square subway stop within a stone’s throw. “It would be very, very easy to reduce auto dependency if you lived on the site,” Gehman concluded.
LACMA isn’t the only museum in town planning a significant redo in Los Angeles. The Petersen Automotive Museum, just across and down Wilshire Boulevard from LACMA, has retained Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) to imagine a radical redesign of the exterior of the museum’s home, a former department store. Museum officials have stated the time has come to finally retrofit the building to be more suitable for its program. This early design sketch, above, is just one of several that KPF has been presenting to museum directors. The museum will be selecting their preferred concept sometime in August and will be revealing the final design when it hosts a discussion outlining its goals on August 18th. KPF’s new shell treatment is just one aspect of The Petersen’s ambitious near-total overhaul, which includes updating displays and galleries and incorporating more current technology to provide what it calls “an immersive museum experience.” Judging from this initial rendering the museum’s new appearance will be a striking presence on this prominent corner and will vie for attention with Zumthor’s black blob for LACMA. Look for more details on the design at AN once the final concept is released.
International architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) has several projects underway, such as One Hudson Yards and a new master plan for New York City's Port Authority. Most recently, in a reinvention of spaces, KPF has submitted plans to build 11 floors on top of Richard Seifert’s 1972 30-story King’s Reach Tower, which has been renamed South Bank Tower. Located on London’s South Bank, the tower will be transformed into a mixed-use building consisting of 191 high-rise luxury apartments. KPF and collaborating engineering firm Adams Kara Taylor (AKT II) have applied to Southwark Council to raise the tower an additional 144 feet. The offices no longer meet modern day requirements and have remained vacant for about six years. An extensive overhaul proposal to transform the building into a mixed-use space – including creation of retail space, pool and gym on the ground floor, and various extensions – was approved in October 2011, so the firm already has authorization to add six floors. In seeking approval for five additional floors, KPF wants to take the 364-foot structure to 508 feet, which will extend the tower by more than a third of its original height and will offer space for 36 additional residential units. The extended tower would become part of a new group of tall buildings on the southern bank of the River Thames, which includes the recently completed Shard by Renzo Piano and the impending One Blackfriars by Ian Simpson Architects. Extending South Bank Tower by a third is a world first, according to an AKT II project engineer. KPF has become a frontrunner in skyscraper development, but despite the fact that the tower is a different approach than the firm’s customary sky-high towers, sustainability remains a focal point of the plans.
The Port Authority Board of Commissioners has endorsed a study to investigate options to accommodate growth in bus commuting to and from midtown Manhattan. The authority hired Kohn Pedersen Fox and Parsons Brinckerhoff to craft a long-term master plan to improve interstate public transit services and reduce the impact of interstate buses on nearby communities. The plan will potentially replace the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan, which has reached capacity and is in need of improvements. The comprehensive plan for the bus terminal, which is utilized by approximately 8,000 buses and 225,000 travelers daily, includes a state-of-good-repair investment program and new bus staging and storage facilities on Manhattan’s west side. The scheme has been designed to improve bus operations and limit the amount of buses idling on city streets. By tackling specific infrastructure needs, the Port Authority will make certain the terminal remains a central part of the interstate transportation network. “The development of a Master Plan underscores the Port Authority’s commitment to make the Bus Terminal a world-class facility and bus transit the most reliable mode of access to midtown Manhattan,” said Port Authority Chairman David Samson in a statement. “While the Port Authority has already begun the work of revitalizing the Bus Terminal… this comprehensive approach is the best way to ensure the Bus Terminal keeps pace with future passenger growth over the next fifty years.”
Even though the Midtown East rezoning is still under consideration, SL Green Realty is counting on it becoming a reality. According to Curbed, the developer has tapped architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox to design an office tower at 1 Vanderbilt Street located a block from Grand Central Terminal. SL Green needs the rezoning to be approved to move forward with the construction of their 1.55-million-square-foot building. The proposed rezoning would allow for taller buildings to be built if developers make a contribution to a fund called a “District Improvement Bonus,” which would be used for area-wide pedestrian network improvements.
It's no secret that China continues on a trajectory of continued urbanization, placing strain on already-overcrowded cities. To help alleviate this congestion, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) has designed a 120 million-square-foot master-planned new city in China’s Hunan Province called Meixi Lake. The new city is centered around a large, 2.4-mile-long lake and will one day be home to some 180,000 residents. As China’s urban population grows (with over 200 cities expected to house 1 million or more people each by 2030) new cities are seen as a way to relieve the strain on already built ones. "Over the last 10 years, China's cities have grown in two ways: by increasing density within the historical cores, and by adding new cities adjacent to the old," KPF Design Principal James von Klemperer said in a statement. "In such a new town, like Meixi, we can introduce integrated urban innovation: we can combine water transport with localized energy production, cluster neighborhood centers, advanced flood prevention and water management, and urban agriculture." But creating an entirely new city from scratch can be a daunting challenge. Architects are making extra efforts to ensure that these new developments are not prescribed and sterile, designing environments with sustainability at their core. In new cities like Meixi Lake, the built environment responds directly to residents' needs with varying housing options and mixed-used buildings. With a clear centering around the central lake—what KPF calls a "central park" for Meixi—the master plan merges the natural and built environment making sure one never outweighs the other. Water is filtered from the 100-acre lake. High-rise buildings of the central business district surrounding the lake are connected with a pedestrian tram, lessening the amount of cars on the street. KPF also plans collective gray and black water systems, energy plants, and urban agriculture to reduce pollution and enhance sustainability. "Environmental sustainability is crucial to a city’s longevity. China is growing beyond its environmental capacity and has limited natural resources and fresh water," KPF Managing Principal Richard Nemeth noted in a statement. "We were able to rethink the typical urban elements that needed improvement and implement them in this completely new city.” Neighborhoods have been imagined as village centers and are clustered at about 10,000 people and are linked by green parks. Every uniquely-designed neighborhood enclave is complete with a school, shopping district, and civic buildings.
Tuesday morning, New York's top power brokers gathered in a muddy lot on Manhattan's west side to mark the official groundbreaking of the 26-acre Hudson Yards mega-development. The dramatic addition to the New York skyline will comprise a completely new neighborhood of glass skyscrapers at the northern terminus of the High Line. The South Tower, the first structure to be built and the future headquarters of fashion-label Coach, will rise on the site's southeast corner at 30th Street and 10th Avenue, where Related CEO Stephen Ross, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and others celebrated the first turning of dirt as a large caisson machine bored into the ground. Representing the largest single piece of undeveloped land in Manhattan and the largest private development since Rockefeller Center, Hudson Yards will eventually house towers designed by some of the biggest names in architecture: Kohn Pedersen Fox, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, David Rockwell, SOM, and Elkus Manfredi with landscapes by Nelson Byrd Woltz. Hudson Yards is being developed by Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group, who made a deal with rail yards-owner MTA for 13 million square feet of development rights in May 2010. Speaking at the groundbreaking, MTA chairman Joe Lhota remembered back to January 1995 when, acting as the NYC finance commissioner, he realized the lost economic potential in the Hudson Yards site as it generated no revenue for the city. With Hudson Yards, though, Lhota said, "It's not only going to be a new source of revenue. It's going to be something you rarely ever see in New York: the creation of a new neighborhood." The 47-story South Tower by KPF recently crossed the 80-percent-leased line, anchored by Coach which nabbed 740,000 square feet in the 1.7 million square foot building. The footprint of the first tower sits just south of the rail yards, below where a platform will be built to accomodate further development, and adjacent to the High Line, partially straddling a portion of the wildly successful park. A large atrium at the base of the South Tower will overlook the High Line. The tower is being designed to achieve LEED Gold certification and will be complete in 2015. Once additional tenants are secured, KPF's second, larger North Tower with 2.4 million square feet will be built atop the rail yards and linked to the South Tower by Elkus Manfredi's shopping mall complex along 10th Avenue, which will contribute 750,000 square feet, the majority of the overall 1.15 million square feet of retail space at Hudson Yards. "As more tenants commit to the area, Related will build the platform and the additional towers that will be constructed atop the platform allowing us to realize our vision," Bloomberg told the crowd. The North Tower will feature an observation deck precariously cantilevering 80 feet out into Manhattan's air space. "We began with two basic principles," Bloomberg said. "We determined Hudson Yards should be a mixed-use community and an extension of the Midtown central business district." He cited affordable housing, schools, and world class commercial spaces as key to the areas success. "The second principle was recognizing that public policy decisions and infrastructure investment will be crucial to this new community." He lauded the 2005 city council approval of a 300-acre rezoning of the area and an agreement with the MTA to expand the 7 line west from Times Square to this area, a project he was quick to point out is completely funded by the city. West of the South Tower, the flagship cultural component of Hudson Yards will occupy a dramatic spot alongside the High Line. "Working with dynamic architects Diller, Scofidio + Renfro and David Rockwell, [the Culture Shed] is another step in New York City's development as the world's home for innovation in the arts. And that's what gets an awful lot of people to come here," Bloomberg said. "The Culture Shed will welcome all the creative industries—performance, exhibitions, media, design, and fashion week—and be a destination for community events." The 100,000-square-foot Culture Shed is expected to build on recent cultural additions lining the High Line like the new Whitney Museum to the south. Elsewhere on the site, 5,000 residences and a luxury hotel in towers by DS+R and SOM and a new public school will be built. SOM's 60-story "E Tower" features rounded corners and gradual setbacks as it rises, meant to evoke abstracted canyons and produce stunning views. It will house the hotel, residences, office space, and a health club. The "D Tower" by DS+R will stand 72 stories tall and connect with the Culture Shed. The tower's main design feature is called "The Corset," an intricately deformed portion of the building's middle where criss-crossing "straps" that make the building appear fluid in form. Eventually, more than 40,000 people will live or work at Hudson Yards. The entire development is organized around large public spaces, which appeared in a recent issue of AN. Running north from 33rd Street, another public space by Michael Van Valkenburgh, called Hudson Park and Boulevard, will house a new entrance to the expanded 7 Line subway, expected to open in 2014. Be sure to check out the full multimedia gallery below, featuring renderings of all the buildings that will comprise Hudson Yards, the site today, speakers from the groundbreaking, and views of the site's detailed architectural model.
Rising almost 400 feet (120 meters) above Sao Paulo’s financial district, reminiscent of a ship setting sail, is the Infinity Tower designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. With its cutting edge technology and unique design, one of Sao Paulo’s first Class-A towers is attracting high profile tenants, including Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Bloomberg, Facebook and Louis Vuitton. The office tower blurs the distinction between indoor and outdoor spaces, with natural materials at the building’s base, a mix of Cumaru wood and Brazilian granites, below an 18-story curving glass facade offering optimal panoramic city views and plenty of natural light. A shaded walkway dotted with reflecting pools and greenery is covered with a porte-cochere canopy, providing a tranquil pedestrian entryway. The glass walls are equipped with “brise soleil” technology, fins that fan out to protect against glare and harsh sunlight. Private balconies climb both sides of the tower’s curve offering striking views to the north of Avenida Paulista and south to a rising development. The rooftop is accentuated with sharp edges and a heliport.
In what may seem like a backhanded vote of confidence for Related Companies’ Hudson Yards development, Extell’s Gary Barnett has revived plans to build on their parcel at Eleventh Avenue between 33rd and 34th streets and he’s unabashedly naming it “One Hudson Yards.” Like Related’s new Coach tower, Extell’s Kohn Pedersen Fox-designed tower will sit on terra firma, while the majority of Related’s multi-use plan will be built atop the functioning rail yards. The proposed tower would rise 56 stories above the No. 7 line entrance. The compliment missed: Related’s Steve Ross told the New York Post that the name was an attempt to “deceive tenants and the public.”
Blair Kamin seems to have joined the reconsider PoMo chorus, stating in his Sunday column that the movement “deserves a more sophisticated reappraisal.” The focus of the Tribune tribute was Michael Graves’s Humana building in Louisville, Kentucky. By drawing comparisons to Johnson’s AT&T building in its unabashed commercialism and to Kohn Pedersen Fox’s 333 Wacker Drive for its national significance, Kamin writes that “Graves crafted a tower that could only have been built in Louisville.” The reassessment comes on the heel of Graves receiving the Richard H. Driehaus Prize for classical and traditional architecture in Chicago last month, which in turn came after last fall's PoMo Conference at New York’s Institute for Classical Architecture and Art. Seems that the classicists are going gaga for PoMo.
Are you on KPF's holiday mailing list? If so, think twice before you toss their annual card into the recycling bin. You're now the owner of a limited edition print by an artist who is represented by one of London's poshest galleries, the Belgravia, and whose work was featured this fall in a one-man show in Hong Kong. The signature is in the bottom right corner: Kohn '11. Gene Kohn, the chairman—and K—of KPF, is better known for leading the charge on super-tall glass and steel skyscrapers like the International Commerce Center in Hong Kong, now that city's tallest building. But in his spare time, the architect turns to more solitary pursuits: his easel and palette of watercolors. "When I'm painting, I don't have a client I'm trying to please, no schedule or budget. I do it for myself," said Kohn, noting he enjoyed the speed at which he could finish a watercolor—instant gratification when compared to his firm's complex multi-year projects. Kohn spends time painting a couple of days a week, an avocation he picked up from his mother, who was an artist, and one he is passing along to his young grandchildren, who now paint with him on family vacations. In October selections from Kohn's body of work traveled from west to east to be exhibited and auctioned off in Hong Kong, where KPF has an office and a formidable roster of completed projects. Kohn's proceeds from the auction were given to Memorial Sloane-Kettering Cancer Center and Cancer Research at the University of Michigan, of which Kohn is a longtime supporter, and to the Hong Kong Cancer Fund. The donation held particular significance this year—at the time the exhibition was mounted, two KPF staffers, one in the New York office and one in the London office, were suffering from cancer."We wanted to do this art show in their honor," said Kohn. Sadly, the event also became a memorial when one of the employees succumbed the disease in early October. For a catalogue of the exhibition, contact the Belgravia Gallery, or have a look at our slide show of the skylines and cityscapes featured in Kohn's art show in support of cancer research.