According to the American Public Transportation Association, a public transit advocacy group, there are more than 90 cities in the United States that are actively considering implementing streetcar systems. Of those 90, over a quarter are in the Midwest. Though all in different stages of planning, development, and construction, a handful are well underway, with service beginning as early as 2016. Kansas City and Cincinnati are both in the process of live testing their newly manufactured cars, while Milwaukee debates expanding its current plans. Though hundreds of cities across the country once had streetcars, by the 1960s most had been dismantled with the rise of the private automobile and public bus systems. The current renaissance of streetcar construction is often attributed to cities interested in bolstering downtown transit options, and encouraging more ecologically sustainable modes of transportation. Downtown Kansas City, Missouri, may be the first of the new Midwest streetcar lines to open in early 2016. Dubbed the RideKC Streetcar, the light blue electric trolleys will services a 2.2-mile street along Main St. The system will have four cars running between 16 stops for 18 hours a day. Similarly to streetcars of the past, electricity will be drawn from overhead wires. Unlike past services, the new cars will be wi-fi enabled and free to ride. This first leg of construction is being positioned as a first step in a much larger plan to link the entire Kansas City region with multi-model integrated transit system. Detroit’s new streetcar system will be unique in that it was masterminded by a private non-profit organization. The M-1 Rail, to open by 2017, draws on the economic power of small and large businesses along its route, philanthropic institutions, and a close tie with city government to realize a complex funding and administrative system for the public-private venture. At one point the project was envisioned to expand to a 9 mile route, with more involvement from regional transit partnerships. After multiple feasibility studies it was found that, for economic reason, the 3.3 mile current route was more viable, with possibilities of expansion in the near future. The path to building streetcar systems is often far from smooth. With resistance from state and local governments, it took Cincinnati voters electing new city councilors and rejecting multiple anti-rail ballot initiatives to realize their new transit system. With discussions starting in earnest in 2007 and construction starting in 2012, it will be nine years in the coming when the system finally opens in September 2016. The 3.6 mile loop will service the Over the Rhine neighborhood and the downtown, highlighting the original intent of the system to encourage development in both districts. The Over the Rhine neighborhood, a member of the National Register of Historic Places, has been experiencing a renaissance in the last 10 years, after decades of struggles with crime and declining population. In the case of Milwaukee’s streetcar project, set to open in 2018, the resistance has not been coming from the government as much as from a small group of vocal opponents, who have taken issue with the $124 million project. Though, with a recent failure of a petition to stop further expansion of the already approved first leg of the system, the opposition seems to have dried up. The majority of the funding for the Milwaukee Streetcar is coming from U.S. Department of Transportation grants and Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) Districts. The city and the federal government are betting on the street car to relieve vehicle congestion and pollution while raising property values along the route. Anticipating the rail’s impact on downtown Milwaukee, a 44-story residential tower by local architects Rinka Chung is planned to begin construction in 2016. The base of the project will integrate a streetcar stop along with shopping and office programs. Though it may have been 50 years since many U.S. cities have had street cars, the next five years will see large moves to reverse that situation. Along with KC, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Detroit, St. Louis, MO, and St.Paul, MN, are making moves to implement their own streetcar systems. With the rise of the suburbs and automobile travel often being blamed for the decline of the streetcar, it would seem that this new trend might be pointing towards yet another indicator of the tendencies of contemporary city dwellers. A greater environmental consciousness, neighborhood investment, and a shifted understanding of economic stability, define the values of a young population that streetcar systems across the Midwest, and the entire country, hope to leverage into success.
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The St. Louis Science Center is adding its first new major exhibition space in 25 years with the 2016 summer opening of GROW, a permanent interactive agriculture exhibit. The exhibition design by Oakland, California–based Gyroscope will be complemented by a pavilion designed by HOK founder Gyo Obata along with St. Louis–based design firm Arcturis. The Agriculture Pavilion, the main interior space of the project, takes formal cues from typical farming implements, such as plow blades or scythes. The building will house exhibitions, event space, and a set of underground classrooms forming the Ag Learning Center. The 50,000-square-foot, $7.3-million-dollar, project focuses on the latest in agricultural technology, economics, science, and culture. Many of the 40 planned exhibits, much like their topic, will change seasonally, highlighting the growing and harvest cycles of the Midwest. “This will explore new ideas, new thoughts, and new ways of looking at things. And they’ll change with some level of frequency,” explained Bert Vescolani, CEO and president of the Science Center, in a statement. The main focus of exhibits in this space will be on agronomics and the relationship of produce, commodities, and consumer practices affecting the food supply. Every aspect of the pavilion is also designed to contribute to the learning environment, to include bathrooms which graphically interpret water resources. The project sits on the former site of the now-deflated Exploradome, and will include indoor and outdoor exhibits. Along with working farming equipment such as tractors and automated milking machines, live chickens, honey bees, and a working greenhouse will allow visitors to get their hands dirty learning about backyard farming. The greenhouse will include hydroponics and aquaponics, using live fish in a closed system of feeding, fertilizing, and growing food. The Fermentation Station will highlight the farm to mug journey of beer, in a working brewery, along with cheese and wine making. Other spaces include an orchard, two beehive areas, a seed library, large scale photographic farming map of Missouri and Illinois, and a Rain Cloud Room, where it rains every day, rain or shine.
Streetlights and lampposts are good for more than finding your way home and singin' in the rain. Tech firms Cisco Systems and Sensity Networks plan to help Kansas City roll out smart lighting that can broadcast and share data with city agencies and private companies. "Cisco's and Sensity's intelligent lighting platform transforms each lighting fixture into a sensory node in a powerful, broadband wireless network, creating a light sensory network for municipalities,” reads a Cisco press release. As part of a planned public wifi network, the smart lights could potentially gather and share data about public safety, traffic, and even retail analytics, although the release doesn't detail any specific programs. Lux magazine put the announcement in context:
Other cities embarking on similar projects include Los Angeles, San Diego, Copenhagen, Glasgow and Bristol, England, among others. In Denmark, the Danish Outdoor Lighting Laboratory is testing many of the principles. Hamburg, Germany is using smart streetlighting to help it more efficiently run Europe's second largest port.Kansas City is no stranger to high-tech experiments. Google's pilot program for high-speed, fiber-optic broadband infrastructure kicked up the terms “fiberhood” and even “Silicon Prairie.”
Missouri's football fans are savoring plans for a new NFL stadium in downtown St. Louis, but it remains unclear if the HOK-led designs will be enough to keep the Rams from leaving. In January fans of the St. Louis Rams got new reason to fear their football team might depart when owner Stan Kroenke announced plans to build an HKS-designed 80,000-seat stadium in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood. Twenty years after the NFL team left L.A. in the first place, they may well move back—but not if St. Louis officials and fans have their way. New renderings released in March give more substance to plans that could woo the Rams into staying: a football and soccer stadium on the banks of the Mississippi River designed by St. Louis–based HOK. The National Football League has said no team relocations will happen this year, but either stadium plan could be ready for construction in 2016.
ARO, KieranTimberlake, Mack Scogin Merrill Elam make shortlist for Washington University in St. Louis
Washington University in St. Louis on Monday announced the three finalists competing to design a new building for its Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. The three teams vying to design Annabeth & John Weil Hall are: Architecture Research Office (ARO), KieranTimberlake, and Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects. The building is part of the university's arts and architecture campus, a collection of limestone-clad structures ranging from Beaux Arts style structures dating to the St. Louis world's fair of 1904 to more modern additions by Fumihiko Maki. The Sam Fox School campus is visually set apart from the university's predominantly Collegiate Gothic Danforth Campus. No renderings or specific timelines are available yet, but a previous announcement of the project said the university aimed to complete construction within the next five years. The new building is part of the university's 10–15 strategic “Design for Excellence” campus plan. New York City–based ARO has designed academic buildings for universities including Tulane, Brown, and Princeton, as well as renovations to Donald Judd's home and studio in Soho. KieranTimberlake has worked with Yale, Rice, and Tulane universities. In the firm's home base of Philadelphia, it has helped revamp Dilworth Park with architectural greenhouses serving as entrances to the city's subway system. Atlanta's Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects count among its higher education clients Yale, Carnegie Mellon, and Clemson universities, and the firm was shortlisted to design a new U.S. embassy in Beirut (that job ultimately went to Morphosis). As part of the selection process, each firm will deliver a public presentation in Washington University's Steinberg Auditorium, an early building by Maki dating to 1960 when he was a professor at the university. The event dates are: Monday, March 23, 1:15p.m: Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects Monday, March 23, 4p.m: KieranTimberlake Tuesday, March 24, 1:15p.m: Architecture Research Office (ARO)
On View> Drawings by Hadid, Tschumi, Gehry, Libeskind, and Koolhaas are being exhibited right now in St. Louis
Drawing Ambience: Alvin Boyarsky and the Architectural Association Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum Washington University in St. Louis 1 Brookings Dr, St Louis, MO Through January 4th The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum in St. Louis is currently exhibiting early drawings from some of the world’s leading architects including Zaha Hadid, Bernard Tschumi, Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind, and Rem Koolhaas. The works come from the private collection of the late Alvin Boyarsky who chaired the Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA) in London from 1971 to 1990. The collection includes about 40 prints and drawings from the architects, and nine limited-edition folios published by the AA. Those folios include works from Peter Cook, Coop Himmelblau, and Peter Eisenman. “Drawing Ambience offers a rare glimpse into a pivotal moment in architectural history and the imaginative spirit of drawing that was and continues to be instrumental to the development of the field,” said the Kemper Museum in a statement. The exhibit was co-organized with the Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design and will travel to Providence in April. This is the first public museum exhibition of Boyarsky’s collection.
A tight budget and short timeline inspired an innovative concrete and terra cotta facade.BNIM and Moore Ruble Yudell approached the design of the Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Missouri-Kansas City with two objectives. The first was to express the creative spirit of the university’s program in entrepreneurship, which at that point lacked dedicated support spaces. The second goal was to tie the contemporary structure to its historic surroundings. Moore Ruble Yudell, who developed many of the project’s interior concepts, tackled the former, creating flexible classroom and laboratory spaces and a multi-story amphitheater that doubles as casual seating and a venue for school-wide gatherings. As for the latter, BNIM designed a multicolored terra cotta envelope that balances singularity with connection. “The idea was to create a building that sat by itself, but somehow bring it into context in terms of materials,” explained BNIM senior project architect Greg Sheldon. Because so much of the existing campus architecture featured masonry construction, the architects “had a desire to use a fired earth material, but to try to do it in a more contemporary way,” said Sheldon. Inspired by a project in London that combined different colors of terra cotta to blend it into its surroundings, BNIM began working with architectural terra cotta manufacturer NBK to design a rain screen for Bloch Hall. But budget and time constraints soon intervened. To cut costs and enclose the building as quickly as possible, BNIM approached Enterprise Precast Concrete about the possibility of casting the terra cotta components directly into insulated concrete panels. “There was a lot of back and forth between Enterprise Precast Concrete and NBK,” said Sheldon. “This was one of the very early projects to use this technique.” To further streamline construction, BNIM and Moore Ruble Yudell decided to integrate the concrete into the interior aesthetic, so that the inside face of the panels required no additional finishing beyond sandblasting. General contractors JE Dunn Construction “loved that if we could pull this off, the insulation’s in place and the inside’s finished,” said Sheldon. “They bring it out, put it on the building, and that’s it.” For glazing, the design-build team ordered a YCW 750 XT high performance curtain wall from YKK, sized to slot into the opening between the building’s masonry components. Together, the insulated concrete-terra cotta panels and high performance glass helped put the building on track to earn LEED Gold certification. The patterns in the terra cotta “weren’t accidental, but were studied and studied,” said Sheldon. The south end of the building is a deep red, like the adjacent Bloch School Building. To the north, the colors fade to a buff yellow, reflecting the lighter tones of the nearby student center. To perfect the patterning, the designers first looked at the range of colors available through NBK and chose the six most compatible with the surrounding buildings. They then unfolded the elevation of the building and plugged the different shades into their digital model. BNIM experimented with different combinations, printing each and pinning it to the wall before making adjustments. “I don’t know how many iterations they did,” said Sheldon. “It just went on and on.” The final scheme achieves the desired effect. In color and materials, it creates a dialogue with the older buildings around it. Yet the bold patterning simultaneously marks the facade as a 21st century creation. Upon receiving the $32 million gift from Henry W. Bloch that made building the new Bloch Hall possible, then-Dean Teng-Kee Tan observed that “the path of innovation is never a straight line.” The architects manifested the analogy in the building's architecture and landscaping, carving the interior into a series of curvilinear spaces, and connecting the building to its neighbors via a meandering path. But the statement applies equally to the design process itself, in which a tight budget and 14-month construction timeline encouraged an innovative combination of concrete, terra cotta, and high performance glass. A successful sublimation of limitations into opportunity, the story of Bloch Hall’s envelope is the story of entrepreneurship in microcosm.
It’s open season for public art in St. Louis, according to the groups behind Sculpture City St. Louis 2014—an ongoing festival “intended to draw attention to the rich presence sculpture has in the visual landscape of our region.” The programming leads up to and continues after an April conference. Art exhibitions throughout the year aim to continue the conversation. For instance, Art of Its Own Making, a show at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts that features sculpture, installation, film, and performance works through August 20. St. Louis Sculpture City showcases public art, sculpture, and design throughout the year, before and after its April 10–12 conference “Monument / Anti-Monument,” which will encourage dialogue about art and public life. A full list of the shows and events that make up the ongoing examination of public art is available on the group's website. Non-profit institutions, for-profit enterprises, and government/civic art programs with programming within 100 miles of downtown St. Louis during 2014 can submit their program to Sculpture City St. Louis, which may list them on their website. St. Louis is a fitting place for the topic. From the two-block sculpture park dubbed CityGarden to plans for a revamped park at the base of the Gateway Arch, it’s a busy time for public space in St. Louis.
TransformKC is underway in Kansas City, and the dozens of projects on display are provoking discussion on topics from public transit to energy infrastructure. A joint effort between the Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance (KCRTA) and the American Institute of Architects Kansas City (AIA KC) Young Architects Forum (YAF), TransformKC curated built and unbuilt work around the topic of “regional mobility” in an attempt to “inspire the public’s imagination.” Explore all of the submissions here. Categories include architecture, infrastructure, planning, transit stations and urban design. The exhibition is on display in the East Hall of Kansas City, Missouri’s Union Station through October 25. Some work is local, like BNIM’s Better Block KC. Part of the 2011 Grand Boulevard Streetscape Plan, Better Block KC “envisions a safe, livable and walkable downtown” that uses complete street concepts. Disclosure: The Architect’s Newspaper is a media sponsor, and AN contributor Gunnar Hand served as the exhibition’s co-chair. Here are a few of the high-profile projects from outside Kansas City: BIG: Loop City Bjarke Ingels Group looks to a new light rail loop connecting 20 development zones around the 4-square-mile inner city of Copenhagen. They propose tying energy and water infrastructure into the rail line, creating “an artery of true urbanity pumping life into the heart of the suburbs.” KPF: Hudson Yards See AN's coverage of Kohn Pedersen Fox’s Hudson Yards towers here. SOM: Denver Union Station Skidmore, Owings and Merrill's plan calls for turning the historic Denver station into a multi-modal transportation network. John Gendall looked into the project for AN's feature on master planning.
For nextSTL, Richard Bose takes a close look at what's next for St. Louis' transit-oriented neighborhood. The Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood and the area near the Delmar and Forest Park MetroLink stations (both Red and Blue lines) have six bus routes. They’re near the forthcoming Loop Trolley line. A Department of Housing and Urban Development–funded sustainability plan, called OneSTL is examining opportunities for transit-oriented development near MetroLink stops. AN surveyed transit-spurred development around the Midwest in our August issue, focusing on St. Louis’ Delmar Loop Trolley. “Developers really trust the fixed-track nature of this kind of public transit,” area entrepreneur Joe Edwards told Ian Fullerton. “It’s happening in cities around the country—it’s not unique to St. Louis, but it’s time that we bring it back.” Led by H3 Studio, St. Louis’ plans for the Skinker-DeBaliviere area include streetscape improvements, parking and development to varying degrees (see nextSTL for more), but critically they call for a form-based code for the area’s buildings. Eliminating parking minimums and rolling back regulations that make transit-oriented development more difficult, the plan would make the Central West End the first area in the city to implement such a code.
Agribusiness titan Monsanto has pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrades to its research facility outside St. Louis, and design details are starting to pop up. Cannon Design will plan, design and engineer a new 400,000 square foot center for life sciences research. The expansion will bring 675 new employees to Chesterfield, on the western fringe of the St. Louis metropolitan area. Those jobs will be mainly high-paying research positions, encouraging for suburban Chesterfield after tax revenue sagged following 2009 layoffs at Pfizer, another major tenant of the business complex. But, as NextSTL points out, some urbanists would rather see such development closer to the urban core—namely in the CORTEX bioscience district in the city’s Central West End neighborhood. CORTEX would turn an old telephone factory and other industrial buildings into a biotech business district along Duncan Avenue.
[beforeafter] [/beforeafter] The Eero Saarinen-designed Gateway Arch in St. Louis is preparing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its opening, taking place in 2015, and the original Dan Kiley landscape around the monumental catenary arch is getting an overhaul by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA). The full story about the newly updated plans for the ambitious project appeared in the Midwest edition of AN News. MVVA shared these views of the current landscape and what's proposed, showing just how dramatic the transformation will be. Take a look. All images courtesy MVVA. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] [beforeafter] [/beforeafter]