Chinese real estate developers Wanda Commercial Properties announced Wednesday plans to build an 89-story mixed-use tower in Chicago’s Lakeshore East neighborhood that would unseat Aon Center as the city’s third tallest building. At approximately 1,150 feet tall, the tower at 375 E. Wacker Dr. would be among the tallest buildings in Chicago. AN reached out to Alderman Brendan Reilly’s office to confirm the announcement, which was reported in the Wall Street Journal and Chicago Architecture Blog Tuesday, but so far our calls have not been returned. A spokesman for Lakeshore East developer Magellan Properties declined to comment. Chinese news agency Sina reported the building will house a five-star hotel and apartments, and is expected to open in 2018. Along with a retail component, that should total 1.4 million square feet of space, according to Chicago Architecture Blog. The designer is still unspecified, but a rendering from Wanda Group shows three staggered volumes constructed from stacked frustums, or cut-off pyramid shapes. If built, it would occupy the lot adjacent to the new GEMS World Academy building, designed by bKL Architecture. The Beijing-based company, commonly called Wanda Group, is known in the U.S. for buying cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings, and has amassed dozens of hotels and department stores in China. The $900 million Chicago project would be the first step in what Wanda Group Chairman Wang Jianlin said will be a big move into U.S. real estate. "Investing in Chicago property is just Wanda's first move into the U.S. real estate market," Jianlin said in a statement, "Within a year, Wanda will invest in more five-star hotel projects in major U.S. cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. By 2020, Wanda will have Wanda branded five-star hotels in 12–15 major world cities and build an internationally influential Chinese luxury hotel brand." We’ll update this post as more information becomes available.
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Earlier this month, workers broke ground on the largest Twin Cities real estate development project in two decades. Budding off a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings, designed by HKS, locally based Ryan Companies saw an opportunity to redefine the Minneapolis neighborhood of Downtown East. Their five-block mixed-use development will include two 18-story office towers for Wells Fargo, six levels of parking with more than 1,600 spaces, about 24,000 square feet of retail space, 193 apartments and a four-acre urban park near the new stadium’s northwest corner. Wells Fargo currently has 5,000 employees scattered across more than a dozen offices throughout the area. Bordering the Mississippi River, Downtown East is already home to the Guthrie Theater, whose form mimics the defunct flour mills that comprise much of the area’s post-industrial building stock—a heritage celebrated by the Mill City Museum, also in Downtown East. And while some residential development has followed those cultural attractions, the neighborhood has so far missed out on the artistic cachet that has enlivened nearby areas like North Loop and Northeast. The New York Times took a look at what the Downtown East development could mean for the city and state, which wrestled with financing for the new Vikings Stadium before ultimately approving partial public funding. While officials are quick to tout the project’s economic potential, some residents blast its lack of low-income housing. From the Times article by Christina Capecchi:
Mayor [Betsy] Hodges said she hoped to work affordable housing into Downtown East. “The housing portion hasn’t been fully fleshed out,” she said, “so that’s a conversation we’re having.” Ultimately, Downtown East is a chance to spur the development that the 31-year-old Metrodome failed to generate, said Michael Langley, chief executive of the Minneapolis St. Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership. “This is an opportunity for a huge do-over,” he said.Minneapolis has undertaken a slew of large infrastructure improvements lately, such as a revamp of downtown's pedestrian strip, Nicollet Mall, and public transportation investments to the bike-friendly city that include a long-awaited light rail connection to neighboring St. Paul and an intermodal transit station next to Target Field.
After being sent back to the drawing board last fall, OMA's mixed use Plaza at Santa Monica appears to be moving ahead once again. Located on a prime piece of Santa Monica–owned real estate on Arizona Avenue between 4th and 5th streets, the development—part of a glut of new mixed-use projects in the city—will be OMA’s first ever large scale project in Southern California. They are partnering with local firm Van Tilberg, Banvard & Soderbergh (VTBS). At a recent Architectural Review Board (ARB) meeting, the OMA-VTBS team presented its original proposal at 148 feet high and an alternate the city had asked them to consider at 84 feet. “Overall, the Board was very pleased with the design ideas and the potential that it represents,” said Francie Stefan, community and strategic planning manager for the City of Santa Monica. She noted that the concerns raised by the board had to do with daylighting and ventilation strategies for such large floor plates. According to Santa Monica Special Projects Manager Jing Yeo, since OMA is still collecting input they have not yet started on such revisions. Regardless of building height, the board wants the major concept elements to be carried through, including the mix of vertical relationships and the multilevel landscaping that would be done by Philadelphia-based landscape firm OLIN. It remains to be seen if the building's green roofs stay in future renderings and just how much affordable housing can be jammed into the project. Both of these concerns were raised by the selection committee when it issued its recommendation to pursue negotiations with the development team. Since this was just an early concept review, the project will be back a number of times before it gets final approval from the ARB.
London has Borough Market. San Francisco has the Ferry Building. Seattle has Pike Place Market. And now Santa Barbara has the Santa Barbara Public Market. The 19,400 square-foot marketplace, put together by local architecture firms Cearnal Andrulaitis, Sutti Associates, and Sherry & Associates Architects, opened on April 14. It showcases regionally-sourced, artisanal foods in a downtown location. Part of Alma del Pueblo, a mixed-use development that includes additional retail and 37 condominiums, the Public Market is located on the site of a former Vons. “When I bought the land, I knew that I wanted to put a market back,” said developer Marge Cafarelli. “Santa Barbara . . . [has] such rich roots and traditions in agriculture, farming, food, and wine, that it made sense to put something back that made sense in this time. The Public Market is housed in an understated stucco shell, a streamlined take on the Mission Revival architecture for which the city is known. “It was very, very important to me that the building be very simple,” said Cafarelli. “Less can sometimes be more, that was very intentional.” One of the driving forces behind the design was the incorporation of an historic six-panel mosaic mural by Joseph Knowles, which the city of Santa Barbara required Cafarelli to preserve. The mural, which depicts the history of the town, had for decades fronted Victoria Street, the quieter of the two streets adjacent to the Public Market. “[We wanted] to get those panels off of Victoria Street, which will make it much more pedestrian-friendly, and move [them] to Chapala Street, which is much more vehicular oriented,” said Cearnal Andrulaitis’ Jeff Hornbuckle, project architect. Construction crews sawed the 10-ton panels out one at a time and used a crane to move them around the corner, where they were placed atop a freshly-poured concrete footing. Cearnal Andrulaitis designed the shell of the Public Market. Sutti Associates did the overall interior layout and Sherry & Associates Architects worked with the tenants—who include purveyors of coffee, juice, bread, cheese, meat, beer and wine, and gourmet groceries—on kitchen layouts. Though united by an industrial aesthetic, including a polished concrete floor and exposed ductwork, the vendor areas were given unique personalities through custom lighting and signage. Next door to the Public Market are Alma del Pueblo’s Mediterranean-style condominiums, intersected by a series of pathways, pedestrian bridges, and outdoor living rooms. The Arlington Theatre, which dates to the 1930s and features an elaborate Mission Revival facade and an art deco steeple, is adjacent to both the condos and the Public Market. The architects opened up views to the theater, Santa Barbara’s largest, from the Victoria Street side of the complex, including at the main entrance to the condominiums. “The idea was to create a paseo that framed the view of the Arlington,” said Hornbuckle. Cafarelli is aiming for LEED for Homes Platinum on the residential portion of the project and LEED for Core and Shell Gold on the Public Market. “What was important to me was to build something that was really in the vernacular of the historic district, but to create a really high performance building in addition,” she said.
After nearly a decade of planning, a $2 billion, three-million-square-foot mixed-use development is underway on Washington D.C.’s Southwest waterfront. In March, construction started on Phase 1 of The Wharf, a project that is being developed by Hoffman-Madison Waterfront and designed by Perkins-Eastman. The new neighborhood will have marinas, green space, entertainment venues, and plenty of retail, residential, and hotel space. Specifically, Phase 1 covers 24 acres of land, 50 acres of waterfront, and will include 648 apartments, 240 condos, 680 hotel rooms, 200,000-square-feet of retail space, and 435,000-square-feet for offices. The development is situated along the Washington Channel and is part of the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative—a 30-year, $10 billion plan to transform the waterfront. Construction on this project is slated to wrap up in 2017. Aerial renderings of the project depict a fairly standard mixed-use development with an urban layout and massing. At street-level, the project differentiates itself into a more detailed design treatment of steel, brick, and glass. Industrial light stanchions line a cobblestone promenade, and new seating and piers bring people out to the water. The facades of the ground-floor retail and restaurants are varied, adding variation and interest to the project. Or, as Perkins Eastman put it, "the architectural character relies on a diversity of scales and materials, utilizing stepped-back facades, a variety of complementary materials, and careful attention to the pedestrian scale.”
In its last scheduled meeting of the year, Minneapolis City Council could give the go-ahead on a $400 million mixed-use development near the new Vikings stadium. Surface parking lots currently occupy much of that land. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune editorial board called the Downtown East neighborhood “a part of the city’s commercial core in desperate need of new life.” The newspaper stands to benefit from the project, as the editorial announces—they plan to sell five blocks of nearby property, including their current headquarters, and move downtown. With 1.1 million square feet of office space, apartments, retail space, and a park, the Ryan Cos. project could attract tax revenue to the city, as Wells Fargo is reportedly looking to anchor the development as a corporate tenant. It also includes a 1,625-space parking ramp. Mayor R.T. Rybak said that over 30 years the project will generate $42 million in property taxes for the city, $50 million for Hennepin County and $35 million for the Minneapolis public schools. The public-private partnership does not call for tax-increment financing. Instead, it asks the City Council to approve $65 million in bonds, to be paid off by revenue from the project’s parking ramp over 30 years. The developer would cover shortfalls for the first 10 years. Minneapolis has embarked on several large-scale urban redevelopment projects, including a makeover of the city's "Main Street" by James Corner Field Operations.
After a decade as CEO and President of the Congress for the New Urbanism, 64-year-old John Norquist has announced he will retire next spring. In 1993, with 16 years of Milwaukee mayoral reign under his belt, Norquist created CNU as an advocate for mixed-use development in city neighborhoods. Since then, the organization has promoted highway removal, re-design of public housing, and increases in public transportation, building its membership count to over 2,500. In June 2014, after the 22nd Annual Congress in Buffalo, Norquist will leave his position, hoping for “time to write and teach.” (Photo: Courtesy CNU)
Last month, AN reported that the long-abandoned Battersea Power Station in London is moving forward with plans for architectural reuse and expansion. Frank Gehry and Foster + Partners are in on the plan for the surrounding residential neighborhood in London. Now, Wilkinson Eyre Architects, who have been chosen to repurpose the iconic power station building, has released official renderings of their vision for the Thames landmark. The architects’ plan calls for the redesigned Battersea Power Station building to become a modern mixed-use complex housed inside the structure's historic shell. Renderings reveal restoration of the plants' four iconic chimneys and minor changes to the exterior shape of the structure. However, a completely gutted and modernized interior will make way for retail stores and event space in the turbine hall and 170,600 square feet of offices and 248 residential flats in new upper floors, Building Design details. One of the restored chimneys will be converted into an all-glass, circular elevator, rising above the structure to offer views of the London skyline, and a green roof will cover the turbine hall creating “garden squares in the sky” for apartments. The $1.2 billion redevelopment sets an official opening for the mixed-use Battersea Power Station building in 2019.
Facebook is planning to move from the virtual to the physical world with its latest venture: a 394-unit infill housing development known as Anton Menlo. The company is collaborating (in an advisory role) with California developer St. Anton Partners and architecture firm KTGY on the project, located on 10 acres of former industrial land near Marsh Road in Menlo Park. The development is within walking distance of Facebook’s headquarters and new West Campus. The $120 million development will include 35 studio apartments, 208 one-bedrooms, 139 two-bedroom apartments, and 12 three-bedroom apartments. Fifty-three of the units are reserved for low-income applicants, and Facebook's funding will cover the gap between market and reduced rent for 15 of these apartments, per an agreement between the company and the City of Menlo Park. All of the apartments will be open to the general public. Proposed transit-oriented developments include the extension of a local bike path to the new housing, plus improved pedestrian sidewalks and crosswalks. Residents will also have access to an on-site bicycle repair shop and bike storage. Anton Menlo has passed zoning approval and is currently under design review by the City of Menlo Park. Construction, which will last approximately 24 months, will begin this fall.
Richard Meier has returned to his roots with the opening of his latest project in the heart of downtown Newark, New Jersey. Government officials gathered Thursday to cut the ribbon on the first phase of a mixed-use development called Teachers Village. The 90,000 square foot structure is now home to two charter schools, with retail planned for the ground floor. The sprawling development—part of of revitalization program to revive downtown—will consist of retail space, a daycare center, three charter schools, and 200 apartment units for teachers. The Newark-born architect was tapped to design five of the eight buildings in the complex with KSS Architects in charge of the remaining three. "Project Teachers Village was conceived and started in 2008," said Vivian Lee, project manager at Richard Meier & Partners. "The original context of this area was mostly parking lots and a lot of abandoned buildings, and Ron [Beit] really had a vision to revitalize this part of downtown Newark and provide housing as well as retail to really liven up this part of the city." AN took a tour of the four-story, brick-and-metal-clad building, which is a departure from Meier's signature glass and stark-white buildings. "From early on the project we understood that this is not the typical project that our office does," said Remy Bertin, project architect. "We really wanted to integrate it into the fabric of Newark—not just in plan, not just in making things in line, but also through the material. Newark is the brick city. It is a very vernacular material for the city traditionally." The firm worked closely with a mason to create a sawtooth brick design on the facade. While Meier & Partners experimented with a new palette of materials, they still made light a priority in the overall design scheme. "In keeping with Richard Meier's design philosophy, we wanted to bring in a lot of natural light, and obviously it promotes learning," said Lee. Bertin said that zoning, specifically the height limits for buildings in the area, presented initial challenges to the design. "When we were designing the school, the big issue that we were dealing with was all the programs, all the schools that were in the space," said Bertin. "We really wanted to create a sense of inter-connectivity with public spaces within the building even though we had so much to pack into a 60 foot package that limited us."
Wiels Arets Architects recently won a competition to design the “Europaallee site D” building in Zurich. The building is a pivotal component in the emerging mixed use district of “Europaallee,” a major infrastructure project which will incorporate 6,000 workplaces, 1,800 study spaces, 400 flats, one hotel, shops, restaurants, and other leisure activities. The winning entry accommodates retail activities and circulation spaces on the lower floors, while the upper volumes contain flexible office space. The building has been designed with scope for a residential component in the future. The dual program of the building posed a challenge in creating two distinctive lighting and spatial functions. The main entry has been positioned along the parallel ‘Europaaallee', and opens onto the ground floor's main retail and circulation spaces. From the ground floor, a central staircase complemented by two ramping escalators traverses and connects these areas. The design is sympathetic to its context, with the thoughtful alignment of its highest points with the adjacent trackside facades, thus creating a unified design aesthetic throughout the new district. Construction of the building will commence in 2017, and is scheduled for completion in 2019.
As the business hub of oil and gas operations in the Permian Basin, Midland, Texas, is on the cusp of a growth spurt. With the opening of the Cline Shale oil play, petroleum production in the region has increased 49 percent since 2007 to 1.29 million barrels per day and is expected to reach 2.2 million barrels per day by 2022. Betting on the influx of businesses and workers that will accompany this growth, local developer Energy Related Properties hired New York City–based architectural firm Edmonds International to design a 58-story, mixed-use tower sited on two blocks in downtown Midland that will contain everything a body could need for work, sleep, shopping, and play under one very tall roof. The 869-foot-tall tower is a rhomboid in plan and features a perimeter diagrid structural steel framing system that animates the transparent glass facade. A solar shading system protects the western and southern faces of the otherwise clear envelope from the powerful West Texas sun. From the bottom up, the development includes 53,500 square feet of retail in a sunken level that is open to the sky, a 198-room hotel, 230,460 square feet of residences, and 564,000 square feet of office space. Considering that the building would be twice as tall as Midland's next-tallest structure, the first floor of offices, the 28th, would feature 360-degree views that easily clear the surrounding rooftops. At ground level, the design features a public plaza with a reflecting pool and accessible green roofs that top a convention center. Energy Related Properties is currently seeking tenants for the project and, pending their success, construction could begin as soon as early 2014.