Posts tagged with "Mixed-Use":

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Optimism fuels Miami’s mega-developments, but a denser Miami isn’t a sure thing

This article appears in The Architect’s Newspaper’s April 2017 issue, which takes a deep dive into Florida to coincide with the upcoming AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando (April 27 to 29). We’re publishing the issue online as the Conference approaches—click here to see the latest articles to be uploaded.

New York or Los Angeles?

These are the two contrasting models of urbanism that Raymond Fort, designer at Miami-based architecture firm Arquitectonica, cites when asked about Miami’s future. In New York, numerous walkable neighborhoods—whose density, convenience, and character are major assets—are connected by a robust public transportation system. In Los Angeles, low density and car-oriented urbanism is the norm outside the downtown core (though transit-oriented development has begun to spread in recent years). Many developers working in Miami are clearly enthusiastic about the New York model. However, that future isn’t guaranteed: The potential for car-dominated sprawl and other hybrid models still exist.

Arquitectonica is behind Brickell City Centre, a 5.4-million-square-foot complex of offices, luxury condos, a hotel, and ample retail south of Downtown Miami. Developed by Swire Group, Brickell is one of the many large, mixed-use developments in Miami that signals movement toward density. Phase one opened late last year, and phase two will entail an 80-story mixed-use tower.

Just north of downtown, there’s Miami Worldcenter, a 17-million-square-foot, 27-acre complex. It’s a joint venture by multiple developers, with Boston-based Elkus Manfredi leading the master plan and designing the center’s phase one, which is anchored by a 1-million-square-foot retail podium. Phase two is a $750 million convention center and hotel.

Development isn’t only concentrated in the urban core. About two miles north of Downtown in the Wynwood neighborhood, developer Moishe Mana and Miami-based Zyscovich Architects are poised to build a 9.72-million-square-foot, 23.5-acre development that will feature as many as 3,482 residential units, a mix of retail, office, and cultural programming, as well as an extensive public “Mana Commons” that will cut through the complex’s cluster of medium-rise towers. Dubbed Mana Wynwood, it won approvals last September. More like it may be on the way: In Little Haiti, the Eastside Ridge development will replace 500 townhouses with 7.2 million square feet of mixed-use development, and another project dubbed “Magic City(also located in Little Haiti) would see an innovation center, business incubator, housing, retail, and other art-entertainment facilities arise across a 15-acre campus.

What’s driving all of these major concentrations of development? In part, affluent young professionals across the U.S. are moving to cities seeking walkable, transit-connected neighborhoods, and developers are eager to meet that need. But there are factors unique to Miami. One is the city’s zoning: The Miami 21 code, implemented some six and half years ago, has significant parking requirements that incentivize large developments. For example, in dense high-rise areas, the code mandates 1.5 parking spaces per unit. Consequently, smaller projects struggle to meet the logistical and economic challenges of incorporating that much parking into their site. Bigger projects can more easily integrate a parking garage into their lower levels. Furthermore, if a development covers nine contiguous acres, it can qualify for a Special Area Plan, an arrangement that allows developers more flexibility in situating parking and negotiating the rules of Miami 21’s form-based code. This maximizes the development’s value. Brickell, Mana Wynwood, and the Worldcenter, as well as virtually all of Miami’s major developments, are (or have applied for) Special Area Plans.

Miami’s geography is also part of the equation. John Stuart, professor of architecture at Florida International University and executive director of its Miami Beach Urban Studios, explained how wealth from the Caribbean and Central and South America has historically flowed into Miami. “We have this gravitational pull from the south,” he said. Affluent people from Chile, Venezuela, and elsewhere come to Miami seeking “these kinds of urban experiences where they’re safe, their products are confirmed as authentic, but they’re close to their own countries….”

But the city’s geography turns from an asset to a risk when one considers the threat of extreme weather and sea-level rise. Miami Beach, which sits a mere four feet above sea level (compared to Miami’s six feet), is regularly inundated during king (high) tides and is spending nearly half a billion dollars to raise streets, install pumps, and push back the waters. Faced with such uncertainty, Stuart sees mega-developments as “just overflowing with optimism” and the belief that climate change will be remedied, ameliorated, or far enough away to not warrant significant concern in the near future.

In the shorter term, how Miami 21 and public transportation evolve may be deciding factors in shaping the city. In Wynwood, the City of Miami Planning Department is testing out a new zoning overlay that alleviates parking requirements for developments with smaller units. If Wynwood ceases to become the exception, then dense growth may not be restricted to Special Area Plan developments and the downtown urban core.

This leads to the issue of public transportation. “That’s at the core of much of what’s fragmenting the city, holding it back economically, socially, culturally,” said Stuart. “There’s very little opportunity for people who live in a neighborhood they can afford to access other neighborhoods for employment, artistic production, or other means.” Miami is in the process of funding and planning an expansion of the Metrorail, the city’s above ground heavy-rail rapid transit system. Eighty-two miles of new rail and six new lines—costing $3.6 billion—would connect the city’s burgeoning neighborhoods with each other and downtown. Complicating the situation are Uber and Lyft, whose low rates can be competitive with public transportation. Moreover, according to Fort, the prospect of driverless cars adds a new level of uncertainty to major public transportation investment.

A conversation about public transportation and mega-developments must also include the question of affordability. According to a 2016 study from the New York University Furman Center, in Miami “85 percent of recently available rental units were unaffordable to the typical renter household,” making the city the least affordable for renters among the country’s top 11 metro areas. But there are glimmers of hope: As development moves from the urban core and the waterfront to places like Wynwood, more non-luxury units may come online. Additionally, the city is already taking steps to increase affordable housing stock: A measure passed in late February would reward residential projects that feature affordable units with greater density and less required parking. However, while the downtown core and Wynwood don’t have large existing communities facing gentrification, that challenge may arise elsewhere. In other instances, density alone may deter development: Earlier this year, local opposition stopped a 1.2-million-square-foot Special Area Plan development east of Little Haiti.

For a firsthand experience, Fort recommends riding the Metrorail to survey the city—from there, you can see pockets of development (Coconut Grove, Little Havana, Brickell, Downtown) that he thinks could become medium-density nodes in a new polycentric city. He also cites neighborhoods like Edgewater, Wynwood, and the Design District that aren’t on the Metrorail but are still growing. “That’s what I think the next phase of development in Miami is,” he said, “where we look at neighborhoods and understand what’s missing” to make them mixed-use, denser, and affordable. Optimism for density, however, is just one of many factors—climate change, transportation technology, affordability, and zoning codes, to name a few—that will shape Miami in the years to come.

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17-story tower in Ann Arbor, Michigan gets air rights approval

The City Council of Ann Arbor, Michigan, has voted in favor of selling air rights to a project that is set to become one of the tallest in the city. The Collective is proposed to be a 17-story mixed-use development designed by Evanston, Illinois–based Myefski Architects and developed by Chicago-based Core Spaces. The 352,000-square-foot development will include 360 residential units, 131 hotel rooms, 20,000 square feet of office space, and 3,000 square feet of retail space. At its base, a designed streetscape and 12,000-square-foot public plaza will interact with the building's structure. Located in the busy Midtown District, the tower will also include terraces and balconies overlooking the public space. The .8-acre site where The Collective will stand is above a city-owned underground parking garage. In 2015 the city requested proposals for the site, signaling that it wanted to sell the air rights for a development. The Core/Myefski team was one of nine to submit, and one of the two shortlisted. After a series of public input meetings, the current proposal was picked in early 2016. It took another 15 months of negotiations between the team and the city to arrive at this week’s vote. The approval means the city is willing to sell the air rights for $10 million. Five million dollars of that money is already earmarked for affordable housing in the city. “The City and residents of Ann Arbor put this in motion many years ago. They had a vision for this dynamic downtown location that involved addressing the needs of the community,” said President and Principal John Myefski. “In addition to a placemaking, landmark building, this development is going to boost the quality of life for many Ann Arbor residents.”
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Jeanne Gang is designing her first project in Canada, a mixed-use tower in Toronto’s Yonge + St. Clair

Chicago architect Jeanne Gang has been hired to design her first project in Canada, a residential tower in Toronto’s Yonge + St. Clair neighborhood, with retail space at street level.
The client is Slate Asset Management, which owns ten properties in the neighborhood and is working to rejuvenate it with public art, vibrant streetscapes, and first-rate design. Slate and Gang’s office, Studio Gang, announced this month that the residential tower will be at the southwest corner of Yonge Street and Delisle Avenue. The project is the latest in a series of high-profile commissions by Slate, including an eight-story mural by international street artist Phlegm. The tower will be Studio Gang’s first building in Canada, and it’s part an effort by Slate to reimagine Yonge + St. Clair. Known for her Aqua Tower in Chicago, one of the world’s tallest buildings by a woman-led design team, Gang received a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award in 2011. She has been named to receive an honorary fellowship from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada in May. The ceremony will be part of the Institute’s Festival of Architecture in Ottawa from May 24 to 27, and Gang will give the festival’s keynote address. “Yonge + St. Clair is on its way back. Having occasion to bring Studio Gang’s first project in Toronto to the neighborhood signals to the rest of the city that we would like to create something special here,” said Brandon Donnelly, Vice President of Development at Slate Asset Management, in a statement.
“As our practice’s relationship with Canada grows, we’re excited to explore Toronto and to understand the unique DNA of the Yonge + St. Clair neighborhood,” said Gang. “We hope to design a building that will strengthen relationships within the neighborhood and the city.”According to the development team’s announcement, Studio Gang will work with Slate to organize a “public consultation” this spring to gather community input before making a design submission to the city. According to the developers, the final building will be primarily rental, with retail space at grade, in keeping with Slate’s long-term vision for the area. While the design for the building has not been finalized, Donnelly said, a couple of decisions have already been made.“It’s not going to be a typical all-glass tower,” he said, citing a need to introduce material variety into Toronto’s skyline. “We want to push boundaries in terms of sustainability and building efficiency, which means we are thinking carefully about the building envelope and its materials.” The Studio Gang commission will be the first ground-up tower in the area by Slate, which controls all four corners of the intersection of Yonge and St. Clair.The decision to commission Studio Gang was made after a selection process that emphasized design methodology, site context, and Slate’s aspirations for world-class architecture and a fresh vision.
Yonge + St. Clair is a transit-rich area with a subway and dedicated streetcar tracks, but it is also a short walk from some of the city’s most admired neighborhoods and a ravine system that offers direct access to quiet green space. The juxtaposition of natural and built environments is expected to serve as inspiration for the project. “There is a hill that crests at Yonge + St. Clair, which means the... site acts as both a pedestal and a view terminus from way uptown,” said Donnelly “The challenge will be to develop a building worthy of being showcased, but we feel confident that we have the right team in place to do just that.”
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Richard Meier’s new project is for students and teachers in Newark

Who could possibly make Richard Meier work in anything but white? Someone with a good plan and a strong vision (well, also this guy). Deep in downtown Newark, New Jersey, Richard Meier & Partners, working for developer RBH Group, has put another round of finishing touches on a multi-building development called Teachers Village. Though technically "mixed-use," the Teachers Village spirit is more in line with a cheery contemporary mill town, or a little Columbus, Indiana. In a postindustrial twist, the project's affordable and market-rate residences were marketed first towards teachers and their families (though other workers are welcome, too). The complex's three apartment buildings by Meier feature 123 residential units. Each unit is sunny, owing to the ring of (to-be-developed) surface parking surrounding much of the Village and to the floor-to-ceiling windows in the common spaces. The scheme has proved popular so far—as of mid-February, the buildings are almost fully leased. Some of the residents teach at the development's three charter schools (two designed by Meier). On a recent tour, reporters ascended an outdoor stair on a skywalk between the two schools, topped by a few circular skylights, and filed along a catwalk above the spacious gymnasium. After school hours, residents can play basketball on the indoor courts, which barely need overhead lighting thanks to ecclesiastic south-facing windows. RBH Group wanted the project to integrate with Newark's beautiful but worn streets nearby. The design team worked with the city's Landmarks & Historic Preservation Commission to envision structures that would reflect Newark's scale and vernacular. The result: Meier used red brick for the first time since the 1960s. Well, not true red brick. The material, used on one of the schools, is inflected with iron, projecting a soft metallic glow in the right light, a still-earthy foil to white aluminum panel– and stucco-clad buildings nearby. Some of the window-adjacent brick is arranged in a sawtooth pattern, establishing visual continuity with the low-slung commercial storefronts nearby detailed with decorative brick and terra-cotta tiles. This is deeply intentional. Teachers Village harmonizes with the surrounding city, but it's more than a patch in the urban fabric. The project on target to receive LEED Neighborhood Development certification, a hard-to-get designation awarded to community-scale projects that evince sustainable design and smart urban development. Lined with street-level retail, buildings along the Halsey Street corridor are not more than four stories tall, in keeping with Newark's low-rise character and growth goals outlined in the latest master plan. Teachers are less than a 15-minute walk to the nearest PATH and NJ Transit stations, near the Prudential Center and three city parks. All told, the six buildings of Teachers Village's first phase include three schools, 65,000 square feet of retail, and residential programs spread out over 23 acres south of Market Street and west of Broad Street. The development is part of what could be, by 2050, a 15 million-square-foot development with a 200-room hotel, 550,000 square feet of retail and cultural programming, 4.75 million square feet of office space, and up to 8,000 residential units. The project broke ground in 2012, and buildings have been coming online for the past four years. A mix of residential and retail, Building VI (243 Halsey Street) has just recently opened its doors to new tenants. "Newark doesn't have the best reputation," said Meier, who was born in the city. "It needs this kind of development to help others realize that Newark's an important city. Any project we can do to help the whole city—we're proud to do it." Editor's Note: This article initially stated that 206 units were constructed in Phase One. There are 123. In addition, the article was updated to include the project's overall development capacity.  
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Controversial OMA development in Santa Monica scaled down

Plans for a long-delayed and controversial mixed-use project by OMA in Santa Monica, California have changed once again. OMA’s Plaza at Santa Monica development—a project that, if built, would be the firm’s largest work in Los Angeles to date—is to be located on city-owned land and will contain a flurry of programming, including a hotel, affordable housing, creative office, and retail spaces. The mixed-use project, originally pitched in 2014, has been dogged by outcry from anti-growth community activists who take issue with the project’s size and density and would rather see the 2.57-acre site used to house a neighborhood park. According to information presented on the project website, the development—as newly proposed—will contain 280 hotel rooms, 48 units of affordable housing, 106,000-square-feet of creative offices, and 12,000-square-feet of cultural space. Santa Monica Lookout reports that the project is also designed to contain a grand plaza facing the ocean, two street-level pocket parks along its perimeter, and an elevated terrace park. One of those pocket parks is being designed to contain an ice skating rink. In total, the newly re-proposed project will bring roughly 2.86-acres of open space to the area, including the elevated terrace. The new changes represent a modest downsizing for the project: While previous iterations had risen up to 148-feet in height, the new proposals bring the tallest point of the project to 129 feet. The project also includes 200,000 fewer square feet of retail space and more hotel rooms than it did prior to the changes, up from 225 rooms initially. Renderings for the project depict a staggered stack of rectilinear building blocks that rise in height from a single story alongside the grand plaza to roughly 12-stories high toward the back of the site. The shifting building masses create roof terraces and covered outdoor loggia as they rise and are wrapped in glass curtain walls on all sides. Community members have until March 2 to review new renderings of the project. See the City of Santa Monica’s website for more information on the project.
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Brooks+Scarpa proposes mixed-use building clad in corrugated aluminum screens for North Hollywood

Filings with the Los Angeles Department of City Planning (LADCP) indicate that Los Angeles-based architects Brooks+Scarpa are working on a new, 60-unit mixed-use project in the city’s North Hollywood neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley. The LADCP documents indicate that the new five-story, mixed-use project will contain six units dedicated to Very Low Income Households and 2,826 square feet of ground floor commercial space. The complex will also contain one level of underground parking with 90 parking stalls. The building is being designed to a maximum height of 60 feet and will contain 44 one-bedroom units, 12 studio units, and 4 two-bedroom units. It will also feature a collection of shared leisure spaces, including a central courtyard, outdoor deck area, and a community room. The complex is articulated as a building mass extruded from the footprint of the building. That mass is carved away in certain areas, particularly along southern and northern exposures—Camarillo and Bakman Streets, respectively—where the facade gives way to generous, interior courtyard areas. The Camarillo Street frontage contains the largest openings, creating a street-fronting, three-story plaza located above the building’s retail level. Distinctively, the building’s fifth level caps the front facade, creating a large entry portal to the building’s interior. The complex features tall and narrow bands of casement windows and sliding doors and is clad throughout in a white, corrugated aluminum screen wall system. The San Fernando Valley, a densely-populated and diverse region north of Downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood, is currently seeing a boom in the construction of mid-rise, mixed-use projects, including the conversion of an outdated Westfield Corporation shopping mall by HKS Architects, Johnson Fain, and Togawa Smith Martin Architects and the development of permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless individuals by the Skid Row Housing Trust and Michael Maltzan Architects. This Brooks+Scarpa project is located adjacent to the Red Line subway line and Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit line. Developers HL Capital Holdings II have not released a construction timeline for the project.
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New 42-story tower signals burst of development coming to San Francisco’s Rincon Hill neighborhood

399 Fremont tower in San Francisco was first pitched in 2006. Delayed for nearly a decade due to the Great Recession, the tower was finally completed this year under the auspices of architects SCB and developer UDR, as a 42-story, 470-unit luxury apartment tower.

And in the years since it was first envisioned (by a design and development team no longer involved with the project), the neighborhood around the site—Rincon Hill, south of downtown San Francisco—has blossomed with urban activity. Plans are currently in the works for up to 20,000 new housing units between Rincon Hill and the adjacent Transbay area, where a new $2.25 billion multimodal transportation terminal by Pelli Clarke Pelli will open in late 2017. Through technical precision and determination, SCB has managed to turn a once-stalled project into one of the first to be completed in the area, creating a handsome tower smack in the middle of San Francisco’s newest residential enclave in the process.

The architects did so while adhering rather strictly to the tenants of the Rincon Hill Plan, a document set in motion in 2005 that calls for “retail shops and neighborhood services along Folsom Boulevard” and the transformation of surrounding streets into “traffic-calmed, landscaped residential streets lined with townhouses and front doors.” The future neighborhood is envisioned as a mixed-use enclave made up of mostly low-rise apartment blocks punctuated by “slender residential towers interspersed at heights ranging from 250 to 550 feet.”

Managing principal at SCB, Chris Pemberton, and design principal Strachan Forgan described the success of the project as hinging on the designs for each unit, an aspect that was perhaps underdeveloped in the earlier schemes. Forgan explained, “Units really do make the home; they’re an essential part of the project,” adding that “Multifamily residential is our expertise—the firm has designed over 25,000 units across the country. Thus, we were able to design this building to offer a variety of unit types, many more than a typical development would offer.”

In total, the tower has approximately 30 unit types and is shaped like a parallelogram in plan. Inscribed within that parallelogram is a “rugby-ball-shaped” section of the building that, according to Forgan, rises out of the principal mass and becomes the tower’s crown. The maneuver results in two sets of units, with one grouping facing northwest toward the business district and another looking southeast over the San Francisco Bay. The steeply angled south-facing roof crown contains a “sky lounge” and terrace, a programmatic component provided by the neighborhood plan that allowed the designers to give the tower a more striking silhouette. The sloping surface was originally designed to cant in the opposite direction, but the firm proposed a last-minute change in orientation to better complement the tower’s placement along the skyline and, conveniently, to create a broad southern exposure perfect for hosting a solar water-heating installation. The move helped the tower reduce power consumption by some 30 percent. As a result, 399 Fremont will be LEED Silver certified.

Otherwise, the project is made up of a standard mixed-use development vocabulary, with activated ground-floor areas, below-grade parking, and a slew of rooftop amenities. To control for seismic events, the project also features a pair of isolated mat slabs under both the podium and tower that each sit directly on the bedrock. Structural engineering on the project was done by MKA, who designed the two halves of the building to move independently of one another via a large seismic joint. Facade engineering was done by Arup. Arup also carried out thermal comfort analysis to ensure thermal comfort within the units throughout the daily solar cycle. The curtain walls, by manufacturer Yuanda, are designed to pop open during seismic events to relieve lateral pressure. Ground-floor spaces feature retail at the uphill side of Rincon Hill as well as a grand lobby for the apartment tower and a collection of landscaped entryways that mark the thresholds to townhouse units along Fremont Street, part of what Pemberton described as an “eyes on the street” approach to city planning contained within the Rincon Hill master plan.

Pemberton added that SCB developed the interior architecture as well as the physical form of the tower, saying “[399 Fremont] was a great collaboration between the architecture and interior design studios of the firm” and that there was a “holistic sense to the design, an understanding of the impact that the exterior has on the interior experience—and likewise, how the interior spaces influence the building’s exterior architecture.”

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The St. Louis Cardinals begin ambitious second phase of mixed-use development

The St. Louis Cardinals National League baseball team is leading the way in reimagining the sporting-event experience. Phase one of Ballpark Village, completed spring 2014, was the mixed-use development surrounding the team’s Busch Stadium called Ballpark Village. After the success of this $100-million project, the team and the city are preparing to begin the second, more ambitious phase of the plan.

With planning and design led by Denver-based architecture firm Hord Coplan Macht, Ballpark Village II will include residential, retail, hospitality, and office spaces. The development will consist of a pavilion with a 10,000-square-foot public market; a 29-story residential high-rise with 300 units looking directly into the stadium; 15,000 square feet of retail at its base; and a 10-story mixed-use building on the westernmost portion with 100,000 square feet of office space, 200 hotel rooms, and ground floor retail. The office space will be the first new Class A office tower to be built in St. Louis since 1989.

The development team plans to use the taxes generated by the phase one Ballpark Village project itself, in addition to private equity and debt investments, to finance $220-million Ballpark Village II.

Currently, the project is waiting for the city to review a bill that would amend the existing development agreement, allowing the developers to pursue their latest, more ambitious plan, which includes the new residential and office towers.

Mixed-use projects around new and old stadiums have become popular in cities hoping to attract year-round attendance to areas formerly used only for sporting events. Development of new offices, hotels, residential, and entertainment venues around the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field is well underway. Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena, currently under construction, will be part of the redeveloping 50-block District Detroit. The arena will be the centerpiece of planned neighborhoods that will include six theaters; retail, residential, and office spaces; and three sports venues. A similar development and stadium for the Texas Rangers has been approved in a ballot initiative and will cost an estimated $1 billion.

Though these more recent projects may be more ambitious in scale, there is no doubt that phase one of Ballpark Village is being used as a model—with an estimated $50 million in revenue in 2015, it has been deemed a major success. The next phase hopes to continue this success with the expanding of programs on the site. While the initial phase included mostly sports-related spaces, the new development will bring the Ballpark Village closer to being an actual village, and soon enough, Cardinals fans will be able to watch live games from their living rooms, maybe even in their bathrobes.

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Terra-cotta in context: a contextual bridge between past and present

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After nearly ten years, Downtown Brooklyn's City Point—a three-phase, 1.8 million-square-foot mixed-use development—was recently completed. It features a unique assemblage of housing towers—one dedicated to market-rate housing, with another predominantly containing affordable housing—atop a shared retail podium. Designed by New York–based architecture firm COOKFOX, the development is directly adjacent to the planned Willoughby Square Park, Albee Square, and the historic 1908 Dime Savings Bank. The architects said the project is about “tying together Downtown Brooklyn’s grand past with its thriving future.” This is represented through a dynamic faceted massing strategy that responds to a triangular corner lot on Fulton Street, and a white and pale gray terra-cotta rainscreen that subtly reflects the marbled exterior of the century-old bank next door. COOKFOX spokesman Jared Gilbert said when the project began in 2007 only 200 units of housing existed in the neighborhood, which now boasts tens of thousands of units. "We needed to design something that met this new reality of Downtown Brookyln, which is that it is a full-service 24-hour neighborhood."
  • Facade Manufacturer Shildan (Phase 1); Island International Exterior Fabricators (Phase 2 Tower 1)
  • Architects COOKFOX Architects with Greenberg Farrow Architects (Phase 1); COOKFOX Architects with SLCE Architects (Phase 2 Tower 1)
  • Facade Installer Acadia Realty Trust, Crowne Architectural (Phase 1); International Exterior Fabricators, Empire Glass, Elite Glass (Phase 2 Tower 1)
  • Facade Consultants Frank Seta & Associates (Phase 2 Tower 1)
  • Location Brooklyn, NY
  • Date of Completion 2012 (Phase 1); 2016 (Phase 2 Tower 1)
  • System steel frame with terra-cotta rainscreen (Phase 1); Prefabricated mega-wall panels with standing seam zinc cladding and Skyline aluminum windows (Phase 2 Tower 1)
  • Products ALPHATON® Terra-cotta Rainscreen and BAGUETTE® Sunscreen by Shildan, VM Zinc (Phase 1); Rheinzink in “Blue Gray," Rheinzink in “Graphite Gray," Invarimatte Stainless Steel, Skyline Windows (Phase 2 Tower 1)
As architects increasingly confront the issue of contextualism of our cities, terracotta rainscreen manufacturer Shildan is seeing an enormous increase in demand. "We see many more terra-cotta projects each year, with projects getting larger and more complicated. Designers are pushing the envelope to create more complicated shapes, details, and custom finishes, and it’s not just the architects and owners [who] need to be satisfied. We work closely with various kinds of administrators, historic commissions, city planners, government boards and committees, etc—those with a vested interest in seeing the entire context unfold cohesively.” City Point's Phase One retail base is composed of a typical stick built facade with layers of waterproofing and insulation over stick built metal stud construction. An applied rainscreen system by Shildan is installed by first mounting a framework of sub-girts with integral clips to the facade. The open joint terra-cotta panels are then hung off this system. Moshe Steinmetz, president of Shildan, said City Point was a milestone terra-cotta project in the US for its incorporation of custom blends of glazes and profiles. "There has been more and more demand for unique glazing. We are now seeing unique glazing on the terra-cotta on about 50% of our jobs." Steinmetz says terra-cotta has a particular "wow factor" that provides an owner an exterior facade system that has energy savings, incorporates healthy wall construction (open joint rainscreen systems minimize mold and mildew growth), low maintenance, and high durability. He says 30- and 40-year-old terra-cotta systems are clearly outperforming other building components: "You don't see the age of the building on the terra-cotta material - you see it elsewhere in the the windows and other finishes." The architects incorporated two terra-cotta extrusions into the design that are finished in a series of glazes and colors that helps to randomize the facade. The resulting variation promotes what their office calls an interest in the concept of biophilia—people’s natural affiliation to the complexity of natural patterns in the world. This subtle variation in the glaze and the variation in profiles and the way they are randomly deployed is to create a somewhat more natural pattern and rhythm,” said Susie Teal, senior associate at COOKFOX. This interest in patterning can also be seen in Phase Two, which was recently completed. At over 1 million square feet, this phase includes a retail podium and two residential towers that involve separate developers with separate programs. Teal said Tower One includes 80% affordable housing and features a “low-budget facade system” composed of prefabricated “megapanels,” unitized 10-by-40-foot panels, by Island International Exterior Fabricators in a defunct Long Island-based airplane hanger. The panels were craned off a truck, set onto the facade, and gasketed together for rapid assembly. The wall panels are finished in a standing seam zinc with staggered spacing varying from 5-inches, 10-inches, and 20-inches. Randomly locating the zinc standing seams helped the architects visually conceal large 1-inch joints while mimicking a more varied natural pattern. "This helps to blend in a construction system so you don't see a lot of seams," said Teal. “Also, zinc is a natural material—most famously used in Parisian roofs. It lasts a long time and patinas dependent on the local atmospheric conditions. The north side might end up weathering different than the south side. This was all intentional. In order to watch this material change, we have randomly distributed stainless steel panels that will stay bright and shiny.”
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New timeline for long-stalled Gehry Partners towers across from Broad Museum

The Los Angeles City Council voted this week to approve a new joint venture partnership and project timeline for the Grand Avenue Project, a long-stalled, $950-million Gehry Partners-designed mega-development across from the Disney Concert Hall in Downtown Los Angeles. The project's revised timeline now includes a 2018 groundbreaking and—don't hold your breath—a 2022 opening date, according to developer for the project, Related Companies. Chinese developer CCCG Overseas, also known as CORE, has been brought on to invest $290 million on the project. The agreement, recently approved by the L.A. Board of Supervisors, mandates that at least 30% of the construction and permanent workforce must be locally hired and compels the project team to utilize apprenticeships and local training programs to hire workers who have "previously faced barriers to employment," according to a press release issued by L.A. County. The new agreement between Related, CORE, and the Grand Avenue Authority, a joint powers authority representing the County and City of Los Angeles, ushers in a new spirit of possibility for the delayed project. The deal also signals that the project's cost, reported to be $650 million back in 2014, has ballooned in the years since. The project encompasses a pair of residential and hotel towers located above a mixed-use podium. The project will include a 300-room Equinox hotel as well as between 380 and 450 residential units, 20% of which the Los Angeles Downtown News reports will be affordable. Additionally, the developer has agreed to remain neutral if future hotel workers decide to unionize, a standard provision that paves the way toward local workforce unionization. Grand Avenue Project will consist of two towers at the corner of 1st and Olive Streets with one rising 38 stories and containing condominium and apartment units. A smaller, 16-story building located along 2nd Street would contain the hotel. Current plans call for 200,000 square feet of commercial space, 1,500 parking spaces as well as a large public plaza along Grand Avenue and across from the Broad Museum.
In a press release for the project Ken Himmell, CEO of Related Urban, celebrated the addition of CORE to the project, saying, “We welcome CORE as our joint venture partner on Grand Avenue. They share our vision for the creation of a world-class destination and as a global Fortune 110 company, they boast not only a sterling financial record but also have great excitement for the development.”
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220-unit residential project in St. Louis bioscience and technology complex unveiled

Kansas City–based architect el dorado and developer Silliman have released schematic designs for a mixed-use commercial and multi-family residential project as part of a larger development, Cortex 3.0, a bioscience and technology research community in St. Louis. The project will include 180,000 square feet of residential and 20,000 square feet of retail throughout seven stories. The approximately 220 apartment units range from studios to two bedrooms and balconies are nestled in setbacks along the building facade. Though materials have not yet been designated, initial renderings envision the project wrapped in corrugated metal, referencing the site’s industrial past. The growing Cortex district will also include a hotel designed by Boston-based Group One and a new office building designed by the St. Louis office of HOK. El dorado’s project is expected to be complete by the end of 2018.

Architect: el dorado Client: Cortex Location: St. Louis
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BREAKING: BIG unveils gridded, concrete complex for L.A.’s Arts District

Copenhagen and New York City—based Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has unveiled plans for a new, L-shaped mixed-use project in L.A.’s aggressively-gentrifying Arts District. The project, first reported by the L.A. Times and called 670 Mesquit, is planned to contain 800,000 square feet of office space, 250 residential units, and two specialty hotels. The project is being developed by Vella Group and will aim to inject an element of public outdoor space into the previously-industrial neighborhood by proposing a large-scale deck connecting the site with the Los Angeles River. The proposed structures and the river are currently separated from one another by a depressed railway interchange along the longest edge of the site. BIG’s proposal is organized within a gridded concrete superstructure running in three directions. Each bay of the superstructure measures 45 feet on each side and contains elements of programming that are intended to be customized by the final tenants as either housing or office space. The size of the frame will allow these users to have a say in how the spaces within are filled in, whether with interior mezzanine levels or fully-built out levels. Certain bays in the development are left open and will act as public passageways aimed at connecting the ground floor retail areas with the proposed river-bound walkway, L.A. River, and surrounding neighborhood. When these passages occur in the project, according to renderings released by the firm, they cut through an entire bay each time, effectively creating three separate buildings strung together by the concrete armature. The resulting masses step either out or in, depending on the tower block, forming ziggurat-or Breuer-inspired massings. The development will contain 41 affordable units, roughly 16-percent of the overall total, with the rest being priced at market-rate. The development marks BIG’s first commission in Los Angeles and is one of a recent crop of California-located schemes that include offices for Google in Northern California with Thomas Heatherwick and a mixed-use complex in San Francisco.