Posts tagged with "NBBJ":

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Seattle’s second tallest tower rises on steel plates, without rebar

Studies are underway for the eventual construction of the Rainier Square Tower in Seattle, which will eschew a traditional concrete-and-rebar core in favor of a new steel plate system. The mixed-use Rainier Square development’s tower will be Seattle’s second tallest, and the building’s modular core will be a proof-of-concept in the earthquake-prone city. When AN first wrote about the NBBJ-designed and Wright Runstad & Company-developed Rainier Square Tower after its initial unveiling in 2015, comparisons were drawn between the building’s kinked shape and a high-heeled boot. The tower has grown from 795 feet tall to 850, but the distinctive massing and glassy facade have remained the same; the building’s slope is meant to preserve the view of the adjacent Rainier Tower, designed by Minoru Yamasaki. The $570 million Rainier Square Tower will forgo a typical high-rise core, which wraps a steel frame around a concrete core that has been reinforced with steel rebar, and will instead use a modular system of steel plates sandwiched with concrete. A boundary system is set up to shape the core, and the cross-tied plates are moved into place, and then filled onsite. While the construction of a full-scale core mock-up began in October, the general contractor, Lease Crutcher Lewis, has estimated that this alternate method would mean that the superstructure, set to begin work this August, would only take a year to complete. If these claims are true, that’s nearly nine months sooner than a comparable tower of this size. And, as the construction schedule is shortened, Wright Runstad is expected to save 2 percent of its original $370 million building costs. Structural engineer Ron Klemencic, CEO of Magnusson Klemencic Associates (MKA) is the system’s mastermind, and says that even with the increased construction speed and 58-story height, he’s confident that the tower will be able to withstand stress from wind sheering as well as seismic loads. The Rainier Square development will not only include the tower, but also a cubic glass-clad hotel wedged between Rainier Tower and Rainier Square Tower. Yamasaki’s concrete tower, affectionately named “The Beaver” by Seattle locals for the way the building balloons up from a narrow base akin to a chewed log, is the only original building on the block that will remain. If the engineering claims bear out and the new core system proves as easy to install as the contractors are expecting, Rainier Square Tower should be complete by April 2020.
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Gingerbread City draws Zaha Hadid, Foster + Partners and more to London for the holidays

Nearly 50 well known architecture, engineering, and landscape architecture firms have teamed up to bring a massive edible exhibition to life, as London’s Museum of Architecture hosts its annual Gingerbread City show. Master planned and sponsored by Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design, the utopian cookie metropolis is built to 1:100 scale and comprised of four neighborhoods. Old Town, which has twisting, narrow streets and is centered around Crumble Square, an industrialized New Town with a Central Baking District, a waterside energy district, and “eco-town”. The vastly differing styles of each neighborhood allowed the museum to feature every architectural typology, while designers were free to experiment in every style. Participants were asked to design for one of four categories, housing, landscapes, landmark buildings, or bridges, but with the caveat that they had to bake and decorate the gingerbread themselves. Foster + Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects, NBBJ, Periscope, Pitman Tozer, Burwell Deakins and dozens of other studios have all contributed to the Gingerbread City, including several bridges which link the distinct districts together. Zaha Hadid Architects and Foster + Partners were each given entire inidvidual islands in the eco-town to decorate as they wished. Because gingerbread is a finicky material to build with, firms had to find ways to keep their buildings structurally sound, while still being edible. Sugar glass, gumdrops, frosting and melted candy were all turned into supporting elements. But even the most intelligently designed cookie building is vulnerable to the elements. Speaking with CNN, museum director Melissa Woolford said that humidity inside the museum wreaked havoc on last year’s display, and that several buildings had collapsed in 2016’s show. Gingerbread City will be on display at the Museum of Architecture until this Friday, December 22nd.
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A smartphone-controlled responsive shading system prototype

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Sean McKeever, a senior associate at NBBJ, works between architecture and energy modeling in the firm’s corporate and digital practice studios. "One of the things I appreciate the most about architecture is not its static state. I love to see a building that is clearly 'living' with its occupants. There's beauty in letting users have a certain amount of control over the building." In response to a growing desire for clients to produce more user control over their workplace, McKeever and his colleagues have released multiple apps for smartphones and a prototype for a smartphone-controlled facade-shading device.
  • Facade Manufacturer tbd, Prototyping Phase
  • Architects NBBJ
  • Facade Installer tbd, Prototyping Phase
  • Facade Consultants NBBJ Digital Practice group (concept development)
  • Location Seattle, WA
  • Date of Completion 2016-ongoing
  • System unitized curtain wall with integrated LED
  • Products pyranometer sensors; Goldilocks app (by NBBJ)
The prototype, called Sunbreak, is a responsive system of louvers that raise and lower dependent upon solar radiation, temperature, and user override variables. The project has its roots in the Seattle office, which is one of the first buildings in the country to integrate automated exterior blinds that raise and lower with pre-programmed sun paths throughout the day. Although these sunshades have been a popular feature from the start, they block employees’ views when deployed, inspiring the firm to improve them. McKeever attributes this to a lack of user control and the fact that the blinds operate without regard to radiation data. Sunbreak runs off of pyranometers—sensors measuring solar radiation and infrared light. When shading is not needed, the panelized system folds up to, in McKeever’s words, “hide from view,” while performing as a light shelf to direct daylight further into the building. The modular shades feature narrow slats that operate along vertically oriented tracks. As the system contracts, individual panels fan out to form curvilinear shapes, which NBBJ’s team has fine-tuned to produce optimum shading responses throughout the diurnal cycle. The project is panelized so that individual units can be controlled by a smartphone app, allowing authorized users to operate the shades in real time. Since Sunbreak was developed, user-control and responsiveness to sensored data has extended beyond the facade to the interior workplace. "The user-driven ultra-controllable workplace is the desirable workplace of the future and present.” In response, NBBJ’s Digital Practice group has developed an app called Goldilocks that utilizes real-time data to track acoustics, temperature, daylighting, and activity within open office environments, giving employees the option to find an ideal working environment for their current tasks. McKeever believes facade projects are more challenging to implement for the industry due to their complexity: "I think dynamic facades are still in a ‘prototyping’ phase for much of the industry. To deliver a project of this ambition at full-scale you need collaborative partnerships among teams of specialists and capital investment… I'm excited where the industry is going, but it feels like we can't get there fast enough!"
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Seattle’s Denny Triangle hosts a skyscraper building boom

Like other cities across the country, Seattle has been suffering from a severe lack of housing supply that, over the long term, has caused housing prices and rents to skyrocket. A slew of big-budget, mostly luxury skyscraper projects are in the works, however, and aim to bring many more units online over the coming years, hopefully easing the housing crunch. It might seem confusing to counter high housing prices with luxury developments. But given a multi-decade-long trend of under-building, millenials’ stunted entry into the housing market, and the fallout from the foreclosure crisis of 2008, the only way to make prices (which have increased 35 percent over the last five years in the rental market) go down is simply to build more of everything.

In Seattle, the city’s Denny Triangle—just beyond the city’s downtown—has been the recent site of a tectonic shift in real estate and development. Architecture firm NBBJ is currently working on a huge, 3.3 million-square-foot corporate skyscraper campus for online retailer Amazon here that will span three city blocks and include three 37-story tall towers, two mid-rise office buildings, and a series of “biospheres” containing exotic plant specimens. The development has jumpstarted other housing and mixed-use projects along Denny Way and the surrounding streets, laying the groundwork for a new mixed-use tower district. This summer, Dean Jones, principal at Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty told the local NBC news affiliate, “In the next five years, Denny Way is going to feel a little bit more like Manhattan,” as he shared a video showing 26 high-rise projects currently in the pipeline.

Jones is part of the team tasked with promoting the new Nexus development, a 40-story Weber Thompson–designed condominium tower that broke ground earlier this year and will be completed in 2019. The project is the first high-rise condominium to begin construction downtown since 2012 and consists of a series of stacked boxes, each slightly off-axis from the one below. The tower’s shifting volumes conceal 383 apartments, designed in a variety of configurations, ranging from studio units to multi-bedroom dwellings. As of October, 80 percent of the units had been pre-sold.

Another development by Weber Thompson is located at 970 Denny, a 440-foot-tall mixed-use tower that aims to activate street-level areas along the Denny Way corridor with a pair of low-rise, seven-story tall office and commercial blocks flanking a mid-block tower. These smaller masses are articulated using brick cladding and large expanses of glass. They will contain 15,098 square feet of retail space, with storefronts and the apartment tower’s entrance marked by V-shaped column-supported steel canopies. The tower podium will be capped by a landscaped park, containing a freestanding pavilion structure, with a similar space located at the tower’s stepped apex. The structure will contain 461 apartment units and is being designed to LEED Silver standards. The tower itself is clad in expanses of curtain wall glass that feature operable windows. The complex is currently under construction and is set to open in 2018.

Nearby, Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects (ZGF Architects) are working on a two-building complex: the 11-story Tilt49 office tower and the 41-story AMLI Arc housing tower. The office building will feature 300,000 square feet of space, with the ground floor containing retail. Right next door, the $115-million AMLI Arc tower will contain 393 apartment units, a 509-stall underground parking garage, and amenity spaces on the 12th and 41st floors. The tower will offer different apartments types, including an industrially-inspired model and another unit type with more upscale, “condo-quality finishes.” The residential tower is aiming for LEED Gold certification. Construction is well underway for both buildings and is slated for completion sometime in 2017. The project is being built by Mortenson Construction’s Seattle office.

Lastly, the 41-story tall McKenzie Tower by developer Clise Properties and designed by Graphite Design Group will be located diagonally across from the new Amazon tower complex. It will feature 450 residential units and 8,000 square feet of retail. The elliptical building is designed to maximize views from within each unit, presenting a wide-set gaze over the city. The tower’s shape will also minimize the monolith’s impact on surrounding viewsheds. Like the other schemes mentioned here, the tower will rise out of a low-rise podium and will be clad in glass curtain walls.

These transformative projects portend the growing influence of the region’s technological powerhouses on the built environment. With Amazon and others adding thousands of new jobs at a steady clip, it seems like Seattle-based architects and developers will keep working like this for a long time.

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West Coast architecture firms are a hotbed for virtual reality applications

Though digital modeling and documentation tools have been an integral part of architectural practice for decades, until recently, visualization tools hewed closely to traditional elements of two-dimensional representation. Several firms and independent practitioners, however, are striving to adopt virtual reality (VR) as a design tool.

At the corporate level, established firms like Gensler and NBBJ are setting up in-house VR departments and standing to benefit from their corporate heft and connections.

NBBJ’s Seattle office recently launched a business partnership with construction industry start up Visual Vocal to incubate and develop what the firm referred to as a “breakthrough virtual reality productivity platform.” The tool aims to streamline the firm’s collaborative design process by allowing clients on-demand access to project information and design updates. NBBJ Managing Partner Steve McConnell described the firm’s approach in a press release: “This partnership will radically shift the way design feedback is sourced and integrated into projects, and the speed at which it can be done. As a result, we can more broadly and deeply engage project stakeholders.… Virtual reality will deepen design discourse and bring together communities in new and exciting ways.”

Gensler’s Los Angeles office has taken the opposite approach, creating a virtual reality department that engages with existing VR technologies, looping the latest design tools into Gensler’s corporate workflow as they come online. Gensler’s San Francisco office utilized VR to create a highly detailed climate model as it designed a new headquarters for computer graphics card maker Nvidia. Alan Robles, experience designer in charge of VR technologies at Gensler’s L.A. office, described the firm’s efforts as an attempt to streamline the use of VR as a design tool, calling VR the “next logical evolution for rendering technologies.” Gensler integrates VR into its workflow early in the conceptual diagram stage while also pairing Unity software with Autodesk Revit later in the process to bring designers and clients directly into a working digital model where design options can be updated in real time.

The firm’s VR capabilities are also being utilized in the ongoing design of the new Los Angeles Football Club stadium in South Los Angeles, where Gensler’s team was able to integrate VR design approaches early into the design process to communicate possible sponsorship opportunities and overall project concept. VR is incorporated into the conceptual design phases, making Gensler’s approach toward VR basically one of normalizing the technology as a design tool. The evolution of project concepts in VR takes off from there, with the technology being deployed as necessary to convey design intent. These efforts result in a custom app made by Gensler’s in-house team that clients can use as a personalized marketing and development tool.

Operating in a parallel stream, a school of emerging designers has taken up VR as a key visualization and production tool.

Güvenç Özel, principal at Özel Office, made use of VR in a recent competition proposal made for NASA. His NASA 3D-Printed Habitat project, runner-up in the competition, creates a VR environment to convey its design intention and functionality. The project, showcased at the Architecture and Design Museum’s recent exhibition, Come In! DTLA, allowed observers to wear VR headsets to explore the scheme: A space capsule 3-D-printed from martian rock and occupied as an operating base for astronaut-explorer scientists.

Özel, who spoke to AN via email, described VR’s potential impact on architecture in no uncertain terms, saying, “The immersiveness of these digital environments are becoming so convincing that they start to exist as environments in their own right. I am convinced that the architecture of our near future involves physical and digital spaces superimposed on each other, and will further blur the lines between what is interface design and what is architectural design.” Designer Devin Gharakhanian, in collaboration with VR specialist Nels Long, presented Room XYZ at this year’s One-NightStand L.A. showcase, utilizing VR to recontextualize an all-white room into a variety of experiences. The project, in a different iteration, places the viewer into a precise, virtual recreation of an elaborately staged room. For the two architecturally-trained artists, the works serve to explore existential architectural issues directly.

Adding to this inertia, is a growing stock of interdisciplinary, VR-focused coworking spaces and organizations that are coalescing across L.A., where the edges of the visualization, filmmaking, and architectural professions run into one another, like Virtual Reality Los Angeles, Navel.la, and RotoLab. With the recent announcement by computing giant Intel of a new collaboration with Microsoft aimed at developing VR capabilities for Windows-based machines and plans to open an L.A. research studio, the future of VR is here—and it’s very real. 

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Basket builders vacate Ohio’s famous basket building

After nearly twenty years, the Longaberger Company, makers of wooden baskets, will be moving out of its trademark Longaberger "Medium Market Basket" shaped building in Newark, Ohio. Designed by the Longaberger Company, with NBBJ as architects of record, the corporate headquarters sits just about 40 miles north of Columbus. At 160 times larger than the basket it is based on, the seven-story building has 180,000 square feet of office. Longaberger will be moving its workers to its nearby manufacturing facility in Frazeysburg, OH. The Big Basket, as it is referred to, is an example of novelty, or programmatic architecture. Though built in the 1990s, examples of novelty buildings stretch back more than 100 years, and include the Tail o’the Pup hot dog stand in Los Angeles and Lucy the Elephant in Somers, New York. Another example is the Big Duck of Flanders, New York, made infamous by Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi’s theories on the “duck,” describing buildings which combine their function with their shape as a symbol of that function. As such, ducks and duck eggs are sold in the Big Duck. As reported by the Columbus Dispatch, the basket company has a back tax debt of $570,000. If that amount is not eventually paid, the county could repossess the property and sell it in a sheriff’s auction. The starting bid would be set at the tax amount plus court costs. At around $600,000, that would make the building possibly the most expensive picnic basket ever sold, but an excellent bargain for an office building.
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NBBJ’s “generative” courtyard office headquarters for Samsung

The two 10-story towers are clad in white metal and clear glass, carefully balanced to reduce solar heat gain and provide a sense of lightness.

Samsung’s new North American headquarters, designed by NBBJ, is a landmark facility in Silicon Valley embracing new urban guidelines developed by San Jose officials to prioritize active streets and environmental sensitivity. The project creates a sense of lightness with a transparent, environmentally responsible facade, and has been used as a case study project within NBBJ’s international network of offices. The compound is composed of two ten-story towers designed around an interior courtyard and floating open-air gardens. The architects adopted the diagram of a semiconductor as inspiration for the building, defined by an energized void space between separated slabs. Connecting stairs located at every two floors establish a centralized “3-D Main Street” linked by pocket parks. The ground floor extends an open public program into the adjacent city, providing a connection to the tech community. Despite working in a ten-story office tower, Samsung employees are never farther than one story from outdoor space. Utilizing a courtyard typology to maximize daylight and natural ventilation into a flexible open office layout, the project anticipates LEED Gold certification. The facade system for the facility plays a significant role in the project, achieving three key functions: encouraging social interaction, communicating a brand identity, and sensitively responding to the environment by incorporating renewable energy and managing solar conditions.
  • Facade Manufacturer Benson
  • Architects NBBJ
  • Facade Installer Benson
  • Facade Consultants ARUP
  • Location San Jose, CA
  • Date of Completion 2015
  • System white metal, glass exterior unitized panel
  • Products unitized curtain wall products (painted aluminum & glazed curtain wall), TS & metal stud framed with ceramic tile and plaster finishes.
Rather than designing an all-glass facade, NBBJ developed a white metal, glass, and terracotta exterior with an undulating gradient of punched window openings responsive to environmental criteria. For example, the building orientation is aligned to San Jose’s city grid, which is rotated off a north-south axis, causing direct heat gain to be managed across multiple facades. This assisted with solar heat gain concerns and established an aesthetic identity for Samsung’s headquarters. The interior facade is noticeably more transparent, utilizing a floor to ceiling glazing system. Collaborating with ARUP, NBBJ designed the facade to be a shop-built assembly—it was craned into place, ensuring a high-quality, controlled assembly process. The architects teamed with Benson, who fabricated the facade panels. The building is formally very simple, but becomes activated by people, fostering a collaborative environment. This is a “generative” building, designed for flexibility to allow for as many new ideas as possible. A collaborative, interactive spirit drove the project’s design from the start. The outcome is an open, tolerant, flexible building that enables possibilities and drives innovation.
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NBBJ’s just-opened Samsung headquarters seeks urbanism in Silicon Valley

Samsung’s new North American headquarters in San Jose is now open for business. Designed by NBBJ, the 1.1 million-square-foot, $300 million building presents itself as a counterpoint to the introverted campuses that dot Silicon Valley: Facebook’s self-contained, Gehry-ific HQ or Foster’s secluded spaceship for Apple. Unveiled in 2013, the design went from concept to construction in rapid time. According to the architects, the designers and Samsung worked closely with the city to create a scheme that supports the city’s urban design mandate for densification, walkability, and bikeability. (AN recently reported that San Jose also has a mandate to generate jobs, a mission that is at times at cross-purposes with the need for housing in the region.) The building is sited to connect to the city’s light-rail system. The design is meant to encourage employees to leave their desks at lunch and walk across the landscaped gardens to the cafeteria, to engage just a bit in the activities of urban life. And the inverse is also true. A courtyard in the middle of the office block (the building reveals itself to be two bar buildings connected by bridges on alternating floors) is open to the public and will offer retail amenities. Samsung’s 2,000 employees can look out through the interior glass facade at the choreography of everyday life passing through the South Korean company’s own Piazza del Campo. “The world’s largest electronics company is changing itself into innovator. This brought about a need to change the internal culture of the workplace,” explained Scott Wyatt, the NBBJ partner in charge in the firm’s Seattle office who led the workplace strategy. “We asked ourselves ‘How can a building help them compete for talent and enable innovation?’” For Wyatt the answer on view in San Jose suggests that open floor plates, and connection to the outdoors both physically and visually, and interaction between employees promotes health and performance. Moreover, the design responds to a need for architecture flexible enough to accommodate team-based work and, in trendy workplace parlance, mobility. As such, collaborative spaces face the courtyard while the more solo desks and focused work areas are located around the perimeter. The gradated window openings on the exterior facade are calibrated to the need for more or less daylight. “Work any time in any place, but in teams is changing how buildings are made,” he noted.
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Are floating houses the answer to London’s housing crisis? 100 ideas for affordable housing to be showcased

Affordable housing is a hot-topic in Europe and across the world right now. To look for solutions, New London Architecture (NLA) launched a competition prompting architects, planners and citizens to submit ideas for the current housing crisis in London—and the entries are in. The competition attracted over 200 submissions from over 16 countries and NLA has released a list of 100 of the submitted schemes which include radical concepts from NBBJ, Rogers Stirk Harbour+Partners, and Grimshaw Architects, among others. Seattle-based NBBJ has proposed taking up 9,000 miles of London road to make way for residential housing whereas London practice dRMM advocate the implementation of floating houses. Infact dRMM weren't the only firm to take advantage of London's waterways. Baca Architects and the appropriately named, Floating Homes Ltd. suggested installing 7,500 prefab floating homes along the canal routes of London, something they say could be done in under a year. Floating architecture, it appears, is a powerful force in captivating the imaginations of architects. The competition hasn't just attracted architects however, property consultants GL Hearn propose constructing a megacity by the M25 highway that travels London to improve housing, retail, workspaces, and infrastructure links by 2050.
Building firm WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff says 630,000 new homes would be created by building housing on top of government institutions such as hospitals, schools, and libraries.
The list of 100 will be whittled down by the NLA to a select group of 10 which will be considered in further depth before an eventual winner is chosen. The 100 projects will go on display in London on Saturday 17th October.
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Walk this way: Architecture firm NBBJ proposes a moving sidewalk to replace London Underground Circle line

Architectural firm NBBJ has proposed a new three-lane moving sidewalk (or for the Brits, a travelator) system to replace 17-miles of the London Underground in a bid to decrease travel times and transport more people around London. Earlier this year, a plans for a London underground bike complex was ridiculed by the Guardian in its attempt to reduce congestion despite it winning best conceptual project at the London Planning Awards. With that in mind, NBBJ have boldly chosen to submit their idea which would feature three moving walkways traveling at different speeds. The nearest walkway to an entry platform would travel at a leisurely three miles per hour, accelerating to 9mph in lit tunnels. The project's main advantage over the current rail-based system, designers claim, is that the walkway wouldn't have to stop at the station—the ever moving track being slow enough for people to hop on and hop off. The idea could have potential to be dangerous with the sheer mass of people it aims to take on, not to mention the cost implications this would have for Transport for London. Tearing up track and making the Circle line's dark and dingy tunnels safe (let alone nice) to walk down would be no mean (or cheap) feat. Moving walkways do already exist in the London Underground system, in fact they have been present at Bank station for 55 years. NBBJ's proposal can also be seen as following on from the Trottoir roulant rapide ("fast moving walkway") at the Métro station Montparnasse-Bienvenüe in Paris. Nicknamed the "TGV," the Parisian example failed to garner success in the French capital, as the the Paris metro has had to pay out injury compensation in several cases. According to the BBC, many users of the TGV quickly ran on the moving surface despite a loudspeaker barking orders of "keep your feet flat on the ground, keep your feet flat on the ground." The failed project was replaced by a more conventional walkway in 2009. The effectiveness of travelators is also up for debate. In 2009 (a bad year for travelators it seems) the Daily Telegraph reported that research about moving walkways in airports indicated they actually slowed people down and that the time advantage was minimal. NBBJ still advocates the health benefits of walking between stations that such a moving walkway system might provide.
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NBBJ’s New Orleans hospital embodies resilience

High performance and cultural relevance meet in concrete, metal, and steel mesh envelope.

For the stakeholders involved in building the new Rev. Avery C. Alexander Academic Research Hospital (also known as University Medical Center, or UMC) in downtown New Orleans, the project was about much more than replacing facilities damaged during Hurricane Katrina. "The grander story is the effort to rebuild New Orleans," recalled NBBJ principal Jose Sama. "There was a lot of emotional attachment to the original hospital, Charity Hospital, and also—rightly so—the pride the community has for the character of the city. Everyone wanted to make sure the project was going to be something that was of New Orleans." In a joint venture with Blitch Knevel Architects, NBBJ rose to the challenge with a design that subtly reflects the city's cultural heritage. The building envelope, a combination of precast concrete, metal panels, high performance glazing, and stainless steel mesh, contributed significantly to both the project's aesthetic aspirations and its performance goals. The overarching concept for UMC, explained Sama, was to "create a performance in place." For the architects, "performance" holds a double meaning. "Performance is embedded in [New Orleans] culture, but this is a more high-level sense of performance," said Sama. "Place," in turn, draws on the city's climate and character. "We looked at various clues in the urban environment and how those could affect the design," said Sama, recalling visits to the hospital's Canal Street neighborhood and the French Quarter. Then, of course, there are the environmental threats made all too clear by the Katrina experience. "We completed [the design] with the understanding that we had to create an envelope that could withstand hurricane-force winds and missile impact," said Sama. "That was an important piece of selecting the glass and the curtain wall system." In fact, most of the damage sustained by Charity Hospital was the result of flooding rather than high winds. As a result, the architects faced a mandate to elevate all critical hospital functions above 22 feet. "We envisioned this as a floating hospital," said Sama. "The notion was that the more public zones, the softer spaces like dining, registration, and the lobbies, would occur at the ground level. Then you move up to an elevated plane of critical services. That way they could function regardless of flooding." The building envelope reflects this programmatic move: The first floor of the central campus structure—the diagnostic and treatment center—is wrapped in a transparent curtain wall with a strong emphasis on the horizontal while the upper, critical floors feature a precast concrete facade. The two other project components, the medical office building and the inpatient towers, offer variations on the theme. The former is clad in an insulated metal panel system, the latter in precast concrete, glass, and stainless steel mesh.
  • Facade Manufacturer Harmon (window walls), Centria (metal panels), Cambridge Architectural (metal mesh)
  • Architects NBBJ, Blitch Knevel Architects
  • Facade Installer F.L. Crane & Sons (metal panels, diagnostic building), Crown Corr (metal panels, clinic), Harmon (glazing), River City Erectors (metal mesh)
  • Facade Consultants IBA Consultants
  • Location New Orleans, LA
  • Date of Completion August 2015
  • System precast concrete and metal panels with high performance curtain walls and stainless steel mesh accents
  • Products Harmon window wall systems, Centria insulated metal panels, Cambridge Architectural mesh in Mid-Balance, Scale, and Shade
A number of subtle gestures connect the hospital exterior to New Orleans' history and culture. One thing Sama noticed on his site visits was that "the notion of the garden is important, and the notion of getting outdoors." With that in mind, the architects created a central entry pavilion "designed such that you have a very pronounced sense of entry created by a porch, or a projecting eave—it almost has the effect of a trellis," said Sama. They also created informal gardens wherever possible. The signature garden, nestled between the towers and the diagnostic center, is water-based, and imagines the seating areas as lily pads floating on a pond. "The idea that here in the middle of New Orleans you find a water-intensive garden was really critical," said Sama. The patient towers, too, embody a strong connection to the outdoors via balconies for patients and staff. Metal scrims in Cambridge Architectural's Mid-Balance architectural mesh simultaneously provide aesthetic interest and fall protection. "We studied what we could do with the scrim," said Sama. "We think we picked just the right scale. It's appropriate for someone sitting on the balcony, but also for someone walking by." The mesh panels produce a "soft veil effect," he observed. "In the morning light, it glistens. The intent was to create a memory of Mardi Gras beads, in terms of color and glistening. People will pick up on that different times of day." Cambridge Architectural contributed to several other elements of the project. Mesh fins in the Scale pattern are attached with a custom cable tensioning system to the upper levels of the patient towers, to provide solar shading. On the parking garage portion, designed by Blitz Knevel Architects, 86 panels of Scale mesh again add both visual impact and fall protection without compromising ventilation. On the south elevation of the garage leading to the UMC helipad, a custom-built shade mesh fin system cuts solar gain and glare. Many of the references embedded in the new UMC hospital—the way in which the towers' orientations recall traditional New Orleans shotgun houses, or the connection between the stainless steel mesh and Mardi Gras beads—are so understated as to operate on almost a subliminal level. But like the city itself, the building comes alive at night, finally, and literally, revealing its true colors. "The building from the outside is very neutral," explained Sama. But thanks to accent colors on the inpatient tower stairs, revealed through translucent glass, plus accent lighting on the bulkheads above, after dark the towers shine, he explained. "The whole point was that at night they would glow with color from within."
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From fortress to town square: Los Angeles launches a competition to remake Pershing Square

Ricardo Legorreta’s much maligned design for Pershing Square is getting a makeover. The day after the Los Angeles City Council voted to support a public-private partnership to overhaul the five-acre urban park, councilmember José Huizar and Pershing Square Renew announced an international design competition geared to rethink the open space that now sits ingloriously on top of an underground parking garage. The design competition grew out of a task force established by Huizar, which members of the design, development, and policy communities, including Macarlane Partners, Gensler, NBBJ, JFM Development, LA Recreation & Parks, and the Urban Land Institute. MacFarlane Partners, which is developing 99,000 square-foot site overlooking the square, pledged $1 million pledge to seed Pershing Square Renew. The Department of Recreation and Parks earmarked $1 million for “immediate future for infrastructure improvements and amenities.” In 2013, AN published a series of renderings by Gensler of a reimagined Pershing Square. Rather than being an early entry into the contest, that design was a catalyst for recognizing the space’s potential. The firm is now the Urban Design Advisor to Pershing Square Renew and cannot participate in the competition. Remarks by Huizar at a city hall press conference emphasized the need for community input at every stage of the design process. The stakeholders in Downtown Los Angeles in 2015 are vastly different from 1992 when Legoretta’s project opened. The goal is to make the square more welcoming and accessible to all users. Because there are more residents and businesses downtown, the competition brief stresses that the park needs to accommodate a number of uses at any time of day or night. In early 2015, Project for Public Spaces hosted a series of outreach events and workshops, and a report of activities and programmatic vision is included as part of the competition brief materials. “The architecture doesn’t support use now,” said Huizar of Legorreta’s belltower and brightly colored walls. Frustrated at how “fortress-like” the existing park seems, he hopes instead for a town square. “Use informs design, not design informs use,” he noted. The brief and accompanying report suggests that proposed designs could incorporate surrounding roadways and sidewalks, with occasional street closures for events. One challenge for all design proposals is how to tackle the ramps leading into the parking structure; a hurdle that Gensler’s Brian Glodney described as “Like a moat.” The competition also raises some tough questions about the role of architecture in relationship to placemaking and community engagement. “Our intention is not to create a masterpiece, but to create a canvas that invites the community to create their own masterpieces in how they use the space,” said Eduardo Santana, executive director of Pershing Square Renew. The competition asks for letters of interest to be submitted this month, followed by a request for qualifications in October. A shortlist of firms will be asked to submit proposals to a jury. Finalists will present to the jury in February with a winner announced later that month. The renewed Pershing Square is planned to open in 2020.