Posts tagged with "Massachusetts":

Harvard experiments with new science and engineering facilities designed by Behnisch Architekten

Harvard University has submitted plans by Behnisch Architekten with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) for a six story, 500,000-square-foot science and engineering complex on its Allston campus. Stuttgart- and Boston-based Behnisch Architekten is designing new laboratories, classroom space, research facilities, and retail space for the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The home of the Earthwatch Institute, at 114 Western Avenue, will also be renovated by the architects. The design responds to the layout of Harvard Yard, a "human scale" network of communal space. Like most of Behnisch Architekten's projects, the structure will capitalize on ecological principles: natural ventilation, renewable energy from geothermal and wind, roof gardens, and heat recovery and retention. In a statement, Matt Noblett, partner at Behnisch Architekten, explained the synergistic aspects of his firm's design: “The design of the Science and Engineering Complex project pulls together a number of threads of contemporary life certain to influence coming generations: the engineering enterprise as a decisive influence in the discovery and resolution of some of the world’s most intractable problems; cross-disciplinary efforts as critical to major research initiatives; and genuine leadership in the area of sustainable design and urban development.”

Harvard GSD establishes Office for Urbanization to tackle social conditions through research

On November 6, Harvard's Graduate School of Design (GSD) launched the Design Office for Urbanization, a program that will draw on resources from the school's three departments to address the "social conditions associated with contemporary urbanization" through applied design research projects. Charles Waldheim, Professor of Landscape Architecture, will lead the office. Helen Kongsgaard, research associate at the GSD, explained that the office is interested in "questions on urbanization that are extreme but can be generalized into other areas." Its first project will generate design responses to rising sea levels that could affect the City of Miami Beach's culture, identity, economy, ecology, and infrastructure. For this and future programs, the office will partner with nonprofits, NGOs, community leaders, as well as Harvard's Center for Green Buildings and DesignExecutive Education, and the Joint Center for Housing Studies.

How Ada Louise Huxtable Saved Salem: Symposium marks the 50th anniversary of urban-renewal critique

On October 13, 1965, the New York Times ran a piece of architecture criticism on its front page, above the fold, spanning five out of seven columns. The writer was Ada Louise Huxtable, and the topic was the looming decimation of downtown Salem, Massachusetts—near Huxtable’s summer home in Marblehead. “Urban Renewal Threatens Historic Buildings in Salem, Mass.,” read the headline. “Foes Fear Plans Will Mar Old New England Heritage.” Those were the dark years between the demolition of New York’s Penn Station in 1963 and passage of the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966. Huxtable offered Salem as a case study for the postwar urban-renewal movement that leveled “blighted” communities in favor of highways, garages, parking lots, and new construction, all generally discordant in style and scale. Despite a lack of interest from developers, Salem aimed to demolish 82 percent (39 acres) of the buildings in its historic core. “Across the country, the battle between history and the slipping tax base is on,” Huxtable wrote. But the “conditions, assumptions, and values that make the bulldozer seem the only practical tool” were empty, including the “conservatism and shortsightedness of local commercial interests.” The piece struck nerves nationwide. Within ten years, Salem’s administration had changed, the plan had died, and Salem had launched a public-private program to restore facades, renovate interiors, and improve landscaping and circulation. In 1974 and ‘75, Huxtable wrote follow-up stories, “How Salem Saved Itself from Urban Renewal” and “Good News From the Witch of Salem.” The 50th anniversary of her pivotal piece inspired a symposium held Friday, September 25 at Salem’s Peabody Essex Museum, “ Mightier Than a Wrecking Ball: How Ada Louise Huxtable Saved Salem.” Co-sponsored by Historic Salem, Inc., the Peabody Essex Museum, and Historic New England, the event was conceived in part by Ed Nilsson, a Salem architect who had worked with Huxtable on modifications to her 1958 ranch in Marblehead. Following a short film on Huxtable’s local impact, four speakers shared different perspectives. Christopher Hawthorne, of the Los Angeles Times—whom Huxtable, near the end of her life, called the best architecture critic in the country—broadened the context in his keynote address. Thanks to urban renewal, he said, “We’re still trying to recover from the radical remaking of the landscape” in downtown Los Angeles. Hawthorne called for a change in the 50-year mark of a building’s maturity, as the digital age is having a “profound impact on the speed with which we forget about and rediscover” architectural movements. Preservation advocates, he argued, need to “get ahead of the curve of popular taste, and that means...talking now not about the ‘60s or even the ‘70s, but the 1980s and even the 1990s.” For longtime Huxtable fans, Eric Gibson, arts and culture editor at the Wall Street Journal, delivered a rare treat: scenes from the process of working with “Ada Louise.” Being her editor, he quipped, was “the closest thing to a sinecure...in contemporary journalism.” After an anecdote about touring the George Washington Bridge Bus Station with the elegant octogenarian, Gibson traced the groundwork for her blistering 2012 critique of the proposed renovation of the New York Public Library. “She wanted to make sure the tone was absolutely right,” he emphasized. “She didn’t want to come across as shooting from the hip.” Even so, the story exploded, and, like her original Salem piece, it “shifted the ground of the debate.” Huxtable died a month later, and the library killed the project the following year. Elizabeth Padjen, FAIA, founder and former editor of ArchitectureBoston magazine, presented a balanced history of Salem’s urban-renewal effort. Reminding the crowd that fear and distrust of cities ran deep in the 1950s, she used archival photos to show how troubled Salem had become: Old Town Hall (1816) was surrounded by boarded-up buildings, and “even the bars were closing.” Models of the renewal plan showed how overwhelmingly destructive it would have been, and how poorly it would have been executed. Spotlighting the arrival of the right professionals at the right time, Padjen narrated Salem’s resurgence, over the course of the 1970s, into a place that “celebrates its heritage.” Donovan Rypkema, principal of the Washington, D.C.–based consultancy PlaceEconomics, made an animated case that bolstering a city’s tax base does not, in fact, mean replacing old buildings with new construction. Historic districts, he argued, have economic attributes that can be counterintuitive. If well maintained, they are consistently popular places to live; their density packs more taxpayers into a given area; and they draw “heritage visitors,” who are known to spend well in local businesses. Carl Nold, president and CEO of Historic New England, moderated a panel discussion on preservation and economic development. Throughout the afternoon, Huxtable’s legacy was honored with intelligence and affection. “Her writing effected change,” Gibson said, “preventing catastrophic and irreversible destruction to our architectural heritage and quality of life.”

This Boston architecture firm believes virtual reality could create a revolution in architectural rendering and model making

Showing off buildings may be a task that is no longer constrained to simple two dimensional paper or the slick rendering. Virtual Reality is quickly approaching mainstream and architecture firm Tsoi/Kobus & Associates is already taking advantage of the emerging technology. The Cambridge, MA–based practice is implementing software used by virtual reality games to place clients into computer generated 3D renderings in order to deliver a more immersive feel of what the future space might look like. In practice, clients can walk round virtual buildings using Revizto, a cloud system, which architects can invite their clients to use. The experience is made possible thanks to a pair of Oculus virtual reality goggles which allow the user to interact with his or her virtual surroundings in real time as well as providing a first-person view.
"All of this can be done before a contract for a building is even awarded and could eliminate the need for creating life-size physical mock-ups out of plywood—making the whole process much more efficient," the Boston Globe's Katie Johnston wrote about the still-in-development concept. One would have to speculate, however, on how much time it would take to fully mock-up a CG building compared to making a 3D model or rendering. It's likely only a matter of time before new architectural rendering software that speeds up the process catches up with the technology. Luis Cetrangolo, the architect responsible for implementing the idea, told Johnston that the experience could become dizzying after about five minutes, and so far only one client has been subjected to the software.

KVA Brings Digital Brick to Harvard

Old and new technologies combine in renovated anthropology building.

Tasked with transforming Harvard's 1971 Tozzer Library into a new home for the university's Anthropology Department, Kennedy & Violich Architecture (KVA) faced a unique set of challenges. In addition to balancing the desire for a distinct architectural identity with the building's literal and metaphorical connection to adjacent structures including Peabody Museum, the architects had to accommodate an expanded program within the old library's footprint and structure. As for Tozzer Library's facade, a mold problem and poor environmental performance meant that preserving the brick exterior was never an option. "It's a generic problem of envelopes from buildings that aren't that old, yet can't stand up to contemporary needs," said principal Sheila Kennedy. "What are you going to do with those buildings? The bold approach here was, 'we're going to build on [the existing] value." By stripping Tozzer Library down to its steel and concrete-slab bones, adding space under a two-story copper roof, and wrapping the exterior in a parametrically-designed brick skin, KVA seamlessly negotiated between Harvard's storied past and the mandates of a 21st-century curriculum. Both Kennedy and founding principal J. Frano Violich are quick to dismiss the notion that the problems with the 1971 building, designed by Boston firm Johnson, Hotvedt and Associates, were anything other than a product of their times. "Attitudes toward energy consumption were very different at the time," said Violich. "[Tozzer Library] was built by intelligent people, but everyone's understanding was different from today." In contrast, he said, for the new Tozzer Anthropology Building, "everyone was on top of every [LEED] point." (The project achieved LEED Gold.) KVA began by substituting 6-inch wall studs for the original 2 1/2-inch studs, making way for improved air circulation and insulation. In addition, they eliminated the potential for mold growth by increasing the air gap between the outside sheeting and the back of the brick veneer from 3/4 inches to 2 inches. With the mechanics of the exterior walls in place, "the challenge, aesthetically, was how do we get a sense of both thickness and thinness in the veneer?" said Violich. Luckily, the question of how to breathe new life into flat surfaces was nothing new for the architects. "At KVA we've been very interested in how one designs with contemporary wall systems, with materials that are thin," explained Kennedy. "How do we express their thinness, but by architectural means and devices give them an architectural thickness, manipulate them formally so there can be a game of thin and thick?" In the case of Tozzer Anthropology Building, the answer was a new entrance pavilion with a three-dimensional brick pattern meant to "seem like carved thick brick—like an archeological find," said Kennedy. Drawing upon their early experiments with digital brick, including those at the University of Pennsylvania Law School building, the designers used parametric design software to tie each brick unit to the building's overall form. "As we manipulated the physical form in 3D, we could see various brick patterns that could develop," explained Kennedy. "It was a hybrid of low-tech and high-tech," she said of the process of zeroing in on corbeling, a brick-stacking technique that allows for overhanging layers. The digitally-derived corbeled texture complemented the depth of ornament found elsewhere around Harvard's campus. "We didn't want to make something that was arbitrary and ornamental, but something that was authentic to our time," said Kennedy. To arrive at a final design for the multi-story entrance wall, the architects again combined cutting-edge technology with traditional expertise. "The actual pattern was achieved through physical experimentation," explained Kennedy. "We did a lot of dry stack work with local masons: We would take the designs out of the computer, then pass them to the masons to test. That was a really fun part of the process." KVA then took what they learned from their real-life experiments back into the virtual world, adjusting the digital design accordingly.
  • Facade Manufacturer Kansas Brick (brick), Wasau (glazing)
  • Architects Kennedy & Violich Architecture
  • Facade Installer Consigli (masonry), Gilbert & Becker Roofing (copper)
  • Facade Consultants BuroHappold Engineering
  • Location Cambridge, MA
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System brick walls, including parametrically-designed corbeled entry pavilion, with high performance glazing and custom copper roof
  • Products 500 Harvard brick from Kansas Brick, Wausau 4250-Z Zero Sightline insert windows, Wasau 6250 S-Series SuperWall curtain wall system
Even the flat facades appear unlike typical brick walls, thanks largely to an unusual window arrangement. "When you're looking at the windows, you're not looking at traditional punch windows, or a strip window with a long relieving angle," said Violich. Rather, the windows are shifted to conceal the vertical control joints in the brick. "That helps defuse the veneer quality that brick sometimes brings on," he explained. The floor-to-floor windows further confound expectations by concealing the plenum and—because they are frameless, and punch out rather than in—appearing as much like light monitors as the actual skylights cut into the building's roofline. Tozzer Anthropology Building's recycled-content copper roof completes the dialogue between thick and thin established on the brick facades. "We worked hard in the massing of the design to give a twist to the building," said Kennedy. "That could really only happen in the two new floors." KVA textured the copper roof with vertical standing seams, again using parametric software to arrange different panel types in a corduroy-like pattern. "A lot of times people think advanced facades are super technical, but we can get lost in the technology and why we're using it," observed Kennedy. "[This project] is a good combination of an aesthetic agenda, an architectural agenda, and a technical agenda." For KVA, Tozzer Anthropology Building represents more than just a repurposed campus building. Rather, it offers a provocative answer to one of today's most pressing questions: how to rectify an inherited aesthetic preference for glass with the current push for improved energy efficiency. "Everybody loves glass—we love transparency in architecture," said Kennedy. "But as we move on in our energy transition, we're going to have to develop new ideas about mass and opacity. How can we go back to a pre-modern time, but create something that is contemporary?"

Gluckman Mayner reportedly designing new Global Contemporary Collection & Museum in the Berkshires

The beautiful rolling landscape of Northwestern Massachusetts has been the home to important academic institutions for over 100 years. But in the past thirty years it has also become the home of major art museums, including Williams College Museum of Art, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), and, just down the road, the Clark Art Institute. Now the Berkshire Eagle newspaper and local magazine iberkshires.com are reporting that another important art museum may be located in the region. Thomas Krens—the man behind MASS MoCA—is proposing the creation of 160,000 square foot art gallery on the grounds of the local airport. The Eagle reported that Krens proposed the new museum would “be privately owned by a for-profit group of investors and cost an estimated $10 million to $15 million." It would be called the Global Contemporary Collection & Museum and have a collection of about 400 works of art. The museum is only in the early planning stages, but Krens claimed to have been working on its formation for many years. He originally proposed the idea for a site in China. Now, the idea has approval from the airport commission to enter into negotiations with Krens to study its feasibility. The paper also reported that Richard Gluckman of Gluckman Mayner Architects has done the early schematic drawings for the project. The museum would be located in an industrial area, next to the local Stop & Shop and adjacent to the airport runway. Krens was quoted in iberkshires.com saying that the concept for the museum is for it to be “super sophisticated, super inexpensive but elegant industrial architecture, something Richard Gluckman specializes in.” If the project comes to fruition, it will join MASS MoCA’s elegant 1995 Bruner/Cott Architects factory renovation and a 2014 Tadao Ando (with Selldorf Architects) addition at the Clark as important architectural projects in the area.

As Boston continues to ponder its Brutalist city hall, professor suggests covering the behemoth with a glass veil

Like so many Brutalist buildings around the word, Boston's iconic City Hall has not necessarily endeared itself to the public. Since it opened in the 1960s, there have been calls to update the building, completely overhaul it, and to demolish it outright and start over. There have, of course, also been calls to preserve it. The latest idea to revamp City Hall comes from Harry Bartnick, a Suffolk University professor, who wants to cover the structure with a tinted glass curtain structure. In an op-ed in the Boston Globe, he called the idea "simple, obvious, and cost-effective." "The generally outward sloping angle of the glass would impart a feeling of greater stability, and redistribute the visual mass toward the ground," Bartnick argued. "Translucent glass would allow the original wall-surface variations to still be seen, but now softened by filtration through the glass 'veil.'" He continued that the intervention would help the building's efficiency by establishing a "climate-controlled, passive solar interior environment." There are no plans to actually move forward with this project, but, as Bartnick noted, his idea comes as the area undergoes major changes including a new residential tower by César PelliBoston Business Journal also recently reported that Center Plaza, a 720,000-square-foot, mixed-us complex nearby, is set to receive a $25 million facelift. Along with new retail tenants, the CBT Architects–led transformation will update exterior walkways, street-level lobbies, and the existing rooftop.

A young developer hopes to shake up the Boston development scene with this 38-foot-wide, 30-story tower

Rafi Properties is not your typical millennial-led startup. It's not peddling some iPhone app or trying to become the Uber of [insert industry here]. Instead, Rafi is attempting to build a 30-story residential tower in Boston's Downtown Crossing. No small undertaking. The real estate startup is led by 25-year-old Collin Yip who holds a business degree from Boston University. The Boston Globe reported that Yip, who has renovated multiple buildings in the Boston area, has submitted a letter of intent to the Boston Redevelopment Authority to build a 305-foot-tall tower with the millennial-friendly name of “Canvas.” With the development site only 38-feet wide, the Globe has compared Canvas to Manhattan's many “pencil towers." But that comparison likely won't fly with New Yorkers as the building is more elongated than the super-thin supertalls rising in Midtown. Pencil tower or not, Canvas has 94 residences, restaurants, and co-working office space. The glass and zinc tower was designed by the Boston-based ADD which has since been acquired by Stantec. As part of the project, Rafi will also be restoring the facade of the existing four-story building that the new tower will rise above.
"We are still refining the program on the first four floors but we are envisioning it being a center for the collaboration and appreciation of art, technology, unique food, and ideas," said Yip in an email to AN. "Being able to design, build, and manage the property ourselves gives us the flexibility to build and run an integrated project that truly represents what it means to live and work in Boston." Perhaps wanting to reassure skeptical parties that his young company can handle such a significant project, Yip added that Rafi is getting guidance from "veteran real estate development mentors/advisors, investors, and neighbors."
Yip reportedly expects to fund the project with overseas investors including some of his family members. Rafi is confident that it can complete the tower by summer 2017.   [Editor's Note: An earlier version of this piece misstated information about the building's facade. It is glass and zinc, not glass and limestone.]

Ennead unveils $200 million expansion plan for Peabody Essex Museum

The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Massachusetts has unveiled its Ennead Architects–designed expansion that it will build as part of a $650 million "Advancement Campaign." Along with $200 million for new facilities, the campaign allocates $350 toward its endowment, and $100 million to improve existing infrastructure on the museum's campus. Ennead's plan for PEM is based on original work created by Rick Mather, the celebrated architect who passed away in 2013. The expansion includes a new 40,000-square-foot, three-story wing for galleries that is slated to break ground in 2016 and open three years later. The museum is also constructing an 80,000-square-foot off-site building for the Collection Stewardship Center that is designed by Schwartz/Silver Architects and is also scheduled to open in 2019. "A design highlight of the expansion will be the renovation of the west facade of the museum’s founding structure, East India Marine Hall," said the museum in a statement. "This National Historic Landmark will be given renewed prominence with the creation of an adjacent two-story glass atrium that will offer fresh perspectives on this iconic building." PEM says it holds the "largest historic architecture collection among US art museums" noting that four of its 22 structures are National Historic Landmarks and another six are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Boston’s ICA looking to expand out from its Diller Scofidio + Renfro home

Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is apparently getting a little too big for its Diller Scofidio + Renfro–designed home along the Boston Harbor. In May, the Boston Globe reported that nine years after moving into the DSR building, the ICA is considering taking over two floors of a 17-story office tower rising across the street for gallery space. The new glass tower is designed by Brennan Beer Gorman and part of a larger mixed-use development taking shape on Fan Pier. The ICA's new space would be connected to the existing building through a skybridge and allow the ICA to increase its gallery space by 19,000 square feet. The institute's director Jill Medvedow thinks the project would cost between $10–12 million. The existing museum, and its new space, would also fit within Boston's growing Innovation District, a 1,000-acre community with tech startups, art galleries, restaurants, and the like. "Building a beautiful new museum on Boston's waterfront was a catalytic moment, and over the past nine years we have welcomed over 2 million people to our museum," the ICA SAID in a statement. "In pursuing this vision, we strive to build on this success and provide our growing audiences with more, broader, and deeper experiences with the art and artists or our time." A representative from the ICA recently told AN the plan hasn't changed since the May Globe story, but we'll let you know as soon we get any more details.

Inflatable medallion by landscape architect Ken Smith deters evil spirits from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

An unmissable flower-power medallion on a gold chain now fronts the otherwise plain-though-historic facade of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum facing the Boston Fens. Featuring a whorl of psychedelic colors spiraling dizzyingly, the pop art–style inflatable installation riffs on the museum’s large wheel window, which forms a transect line between the museum and the installation. The work of internationally acclaimed landscape architect and designer Ken Smith, the piece is allegedly rife with symbolic meaning of deities as protectors of the physical and spiritual realm, inspired by the intermingling of East and West. The artist’s Asian forays and visits to Buddhist temples formed the artwork’s muse. Its symbolic/iconographic gestalt purportedly protects the museum from evil spirits and promotes environmental renewal, health and happiness. “What I really like about the Gardner collection is the eclectic mix of East and West in the selection of art. It’s that mixing of East and West that is at the heart of what the deity is about,” Smith said in a statement. “The deity is an Eastern idea that we are using in a Western way.” Smith’s installation is part of a larger landscaping scheme on the museum’s part to rejuvenate underutilized or overlooked venues within its grounds. “Ken Smith’s Fenway Deity promises to reanimate discussion of museum’s relationship to the public realm of the Back Bay Fens by installing a work of conceptual public art from the Gardner Museum’s historic facade,” said Charles Wadheim, the Garder Museum’s Ruettger Curator of Landscape.

Mecanoo Brings Dutch Craftsmanship to Boston

Curving brick and glass facade heralds Roxbury's resurgence.

By locating their new administrative building in beleaguered Roxbury, Boston Public Schools [BPS] made a powerful statement of faith in the area's resurgence."Bringing the BPS right into the heart of Roxbury anchors the redevelopment of the neighborhood," explained Friso van der Steen, manager of international projects at Mecanoo. The Dutch architects collaborated with local firm Sasaki Associates on the project—their first built in the United States—which involved renovating the facades of three historic buildings and weaving them into a coherent whole with a new volume. Described by Mecanoo as "a Bostonian building with a Dutch touch," the structure's curving brick and glass envelope projects a hopeful future for Dudley Square. When Mecanoo and Sasaki won the competition to design the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in 2009, the largely vacant site in Dudley Square, Roxbury's commercial and transportation hub, "contained a number of derelict buildings," recalled van der Steen. These included the 1895 Ferdinand building, which was to be integrated into the project. The architects convinced Mayor Thomas Menino to add two other historic structures to their portfolio: the 1888 Curtis building, and the 1890 Waterman building. "This allowed a design inclusive of the three corners of the triangular plot," said van der Steen. In cooperation with preservation consultants Building Conservation Associates, Mecanoo and Sasaki completely restored the facades of the three existing buildings, each of which was built in a different style. The five-story Ferdinand was constructed of limestone, terra cotta, brick, and granite, and is characterized by large oval windows at the corners and ends of the building, plus a large copper ornamental cornice adorned with cast lions' heads. The red brick Curtis was built in the Queen Anne style, while the Boston Granite Waterman features copper bay windows brought up to snuff by the renovation team.
  • Facade Manufacturer Endicott
  • Architects Mecanoo and Sasaki Associates
  • Facade Installer Grande Masonry
  • Facade Consultant Building Conservation Associates (restoration)
  • Location Boston, MA
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System brick laid in three finishes and bonds with vertical punched windows
  • Products Medium Ironspot #46 bricks in smooth, velour, and artisan finish, supplied by Spaulding Brick Company
For the new volume, the architects looked both to the surrounding urban fabric and to their own strengths. "Boston has a very rich tradition of using brick," said van der Steen. "Coming from 'the clay country,' The Netherlands, we have used brick in many projects, and we really wanted to use it here to show off the craftsmanship that goes into bricklaying." Working with Iron Spot brick in three different finishes—smooth, velour, and artisan—the design team deployed a variety of bonds—running, stack, and soldier—to create delicate reliefs and shadow effects. "Mecanoo and Sasaki spent a lot of time and effort to design an inviting, permeable public space," said van der Steen. Vertical punch windows render the curving brick facades of the new volume permeable, while the transparent entry invites residents to take advantage of the community resources (including a neighborhood gathering space and facilities for obtaining informal business guidance). A sixth-floor roof deck overlooking downtown Boston makes a visual connection to the city center, and the illuminated mechanical penthouse serves as an orientation point after dark. From the beginning, said van der Steen "we wanted to make one building that united the three old facades. While the historic buildings maintain the feel and scale of Dudley Square, the central volume injects a powerful, tacit modern aesthetic." The word "tacit" is key, he explained, as the discreet character of the undulating brick and glass envelope introduces the new while remaining deferential to the old. "Together, these elements create a rich texture both physically and conceptually, a stepped form which respects the historic volumes of the original buildings."