Amazon renderings released this week in a Seattle design review board meeting would have made the late Buckminster Fuller proud. They reveal new plans for an additional structure on the proposed three-block, three-tower Amazon complex in downtown Seattle: three five-story conjoined biodomes up to 95 feet tall, with the largest 130 feet in diameter. These glass and steel domes, envisioned by local firm NBBJ, would provide 65,000 square feet of interior flex work and brainstorm areas for Amazon employees, while leaving abundant space to accommodate trees and diverse plantings. Inspiration came from nature found indoors—in greenhouses, conservatories, and convention centers around the world. From Renzo Piano’s “Bolla” in Genoa, to the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken in Brussels. (Fun fact: the largest dome in the United States—an indoor sports arena—is in fact in Washington State, in Tacoma, a city south of Seattle.) Far from ordinary, the design, still in design review, have stirred a spectrum of reactions from Seattleites—excitement, as well as criticism. With the exception of lower-level retail space, the biodomes would be open to Amazon workers only. It's an unusual move for a company that has kept a low profile in Seattle. See more here.
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Last week we reported on Gensler's planned triangular Nvidia headquarters in Santa Clara, the latest addition to the architectural arms race that is Silicon Valley. (We're seeing zoomy new headquarters for Apple, Samsung, HP, Nvidia, etc, etc.) Now there's yet another. Google's new project adjacent to its "Googleplex" in Mountain View, has unveiled their new designs by NBBJ. The new campus, which is being called Bay View, is comprised of nine crimped, predominantly-four-story buildings. Each building will be connected by a bridge; a connectivity that has become a staple of NBBJ's office work around the world, including its new headquarters for Samsung nearby. The competition to out-campus the competition seems to be heating up. Who's next?
Every year architects across the country take their talents to CANstruction, creating fascinating structures out of tin cans. CanstructionLA recently announced this year's winners, and there are some impressive results to share. Participants created local icons like the LAX Theme Building (RBB Architects), the California state flag (Clark Construction and Thornton Tomasetti), and the Port of LA (RBB Architects). The jury's favorite, Filling a (Growing) Need, by NBBJ and Buro Happold, was made up of an undulating landscape of canned kidney beans, potatoes, beets, and mixed vegetables. The event contributed 21,076 pounds of food and $12,034 to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.
As Apple and Facebook have proven, corporate complexes are all the rage these days in Silicon Valley. Samsung (Apple's phone nemesis) is the latest tech titan to add to the roster of architectural Bay Area campuses, rivaling Apple’s planned circular headquarters and Facebook’s Gehry-designed West Campus. The company plans to build a 1.1 million square foot sales and R&D headquarters on its current North San Jose site. Designed NBBJ, it will include a 10-story tower, an amenity pavilion, and a parking garage. Based on renderings released to the Silicon Valley Business Journal last month, the tower will contain three distinct volumes wrapping around an open courtyard; the parking structure will be covered in living walls; and the five-pronged pavilion will showcase a perforated roof design. Design documents also reveal that various floors will house open-offices, 300+ work stations, a fitness room, and several terraces.
Chicago's collective IQ, no doubt already impressive, may rise a few points even higher this Thursday and Friday. The city is hosting a gathering of international thinkers and innovators who specialize in the tools that enable the creation of some of the world's most high-tech and visually arresting building skins. The conference, Collaboration: The Art and Science of Building Facades, is sponsored by The Architect's Newspaper and Enclos. On Thursday, the conference features a high-powered line-up of speakers on Thursday, including Fernando Romero of FREE as the keynote. Then on Friday, the conference turns practical with a series of hands-on workshops that will lead participants through the very latest tools, programs, and applications. For example, Florin Isvoranu of Austria-based firm Evolute, which has collaborating with Zaha Hadid, Asymptote and others, will host a workshop on parametrically driven optimization of freeform facades, a topic that even has industry experts signing up to learn something new. From students to seasoned veterans, those currently attending include staffers from firms like Sapa, Thornton Tomasetti, Interface, Cannon Design, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architcture, Perkins + Will, NBBJ, SOM, and KieranTimberlake, with roles ranging from engineer to BIM manager, market analyst to company president. PhD candidates, MArchs, and undergrads are flocking in from area universities and colleges including The School of the Art Institute, IIT, and Cranbrook Academy, as well as a hefty contingent of 12 students and three profs from the University of South Dakota State University's new Department of Architecture (DoArch). Collaboration is the industry conference you can't afford to miss. There's still time to sign up! Registration details here.
Since AN first looked at the proposed design for Amazon's three-tower complex in the Denny Triangle neighborhood in Seattle last May—and after feedback from the Seattle community and meetings with the Design Review Board over the summer—NBBJ has released new renderings. And the project now has a nickname—Rufus—a nod to the late “Amazon dog,” a Corgi who kept employees company in the office since the early days. In response to recommendations, the evolved design includes updates to elevations, details along the lower stories, weather protection, and open spaces. Facades are asymmetrical, stepped, and diverse. In a skin study, the office tower on the southeast Block 14 sports a façade of operable windows, glass, pre-finished metal panels and gold accent trim, which connects to the neighboring meeting center via a sky-bridge. Other perspectives reveal glass curtain walls on the six-story meeting center, leaving the auditorium and stairwell exposed. On Block 19, to the southwest, a covered walkway would provide protection during Seattle's rainy winter months. There are retail storefronts on the lower levels, which will augment the outdoor public parks and plazas. The combined towers are projected to accommodate approximately 12,000 Amazon employees. A final design recommendation meeting is scheduled for next week, which will further address building materials, connections between towers and blocks, full building elevations, open space, and public art. Click on a thumbnail below to launch a slideshow.
The largest development proposed in the history of downtown Seattle—an approximately 3 million square-foot headquarters for Amazon—may take eight years to complete. Project details presented at a recent downtown design review committee meeting revealed that Amazon’s glassy three block project, designed by NBBJ (designers of the recently-c0mpleted Gates Foundation, also in Seattle), will be built in three phases of two to four years. The pieces—"Block 14" to the south, "Block 19" to the west, and "Block 20" to the north— would each include a tower up to 37 stories tall surrounded by smaller buildings connected by skybridges. Phase one at Block 14 on Leonora Street will include a 1 million square-foot tower and a 40,000 square-foot meeting space and auditorium building. Amazon's site resides in Denny Triangle west of Westlake Avenue, a small, but central neighborhood sandwiched between the downtown business and retail district to the south and South Lake Union to the north. Although the majority of the three blocks are now covered with parking lots, there is a building on each block that will be demolished: the Sixth Avenue Inn on Block 14, the King Kat Theater on Block 19, and a building occupied by Toyota of Seattle on Block 20. The most recent early design proposal focuses on plans for open space development on the site. Each will contain distinct landscaping, under the themes of "The Gallery," "The Park," and "The Garden." The first phase—the Gallery—will contain spaces for sculptures and other art; The Park will contain a larger field and an upper level dog area for the famously dog-friendly company; the last block will include a courtyard garden encircling the third tower. Check out more concept images and early design renderings below.
The biggest new architecture project in Los Angeles just got a much smaller list of candidates. The General Services Administration (GSA) has released the shortlist for the new U.S. Courthouse in LA, a design-build project where architects are partnered with builders. When completed, the building, located on a 3.7 acre lot at 107 South Broadway, will measure 600,000 square feet. It’s projected to cost $322 million and be completed by 2016. The shortlisted teams include: Skidmore Owings and Merrill with Clark Yazdani Studio and Gruen Associates with Hensel Phelps Brooks + Scarpa and HMC Architects with McCarthy NBBJ Architects with Mortensen Shortlisted firms will now be expected to submit plans as part of a Request For Proposals. The winner is expected to be named by this August or September, and design is set to begin by the end of this year. Those who didn’t make the cut included Morphosis, Michael Maltzan Architects, Ehrlich Architects, AC Martin, Johnson Fain Architects, Fentress Architects, Rios Clementi Hale, and Cannon Design. Another exclusion was Perkins + Will, who GSA originally chose to design the project before it stalled several years ago.
It's official: the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (METRO) has revealed the shortlist for its Union Station Master Plan RFIQ (Request For Information & Qualifications), which seeks a team to oversee the redevelopment of 42 acres of land and up to six million square feet of entitlements around the station. "In addition to creating a model for Transit Oriented Development in the region, it is now important that the property be planned with an eye to its role as the center of regional transportation," said METRO in an official document released by its executive management committee. Shortlisted teams include: EE&K, a Perkins Eastman Company; Gruen Associates/ Grimshaw Architects; IBI Group/ Foster + Partners; Moore Ruble Yudell and TEN Arquitectos; NBBJ/Ingenhoven Architects; and Renzo Piano Building Workshop/ Parsons Transportation Group. An impressive list, but perhaps even more notable are those that didn't make the cut. They include heavyweights like Morphosis, OMA, RTKL/Zaha Hadid Architects, SOM, Gensler, AECOM, Johnson Fain, Sasaki Associates, and Barton Myers Associates, to name just a few. Also missing was ARUP, who according to multiple sources was conflicted out of the competition at the last moment, leaving several teams scrambling to find new engineering partners. Each shortlisted team, which METRO said "were evaluated for qualifications and technical competency," will receive a stipend of $10,000 to complete their plans for METRO's RFP. According to METRO, a winning team will be selected next March or April and the master plan should be completed by August 2013.
Stanford University has been commissioning a storm of new buildings, and it just opened the Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge, the centerpiece for its med school. The $90.2 million project squeezes in a range of programs, including a mock operating theater for training purposes, a 350-seat conference hall, and the student center. Visually, the building needed to be the "greeter" for Stanford Medical School, which previously had no architectural focal point. San Francisco firm NBBJ went for a touch of the neoclassical, with a deep overhang anchored by columns. What's interesting here is how the architects grappled with the design guidelines of the university, which call for red roofs and limestone cladding to match the historic California Mission-style buildings of the main campus. Here, the fascia and underside of that overhang are actually covered in Trespa rainscreen panels, printed to look like mahogany or similarly dark wood. The architects were looking for a low-maintenance material to give them some natural texture. While it's definitely not the same effect as you'd get with real wood, it's a clever way to get "red" onto the roof. Also significant is how the medical school made a big symbolic gesture to its students by devoting the top floor--with some of the best views anywhere on campus--into a student lounge and fitness center. Only medical students and a few select faculty will be allowed to hang out on the patio (right under that big overhang) and jog on the treadmills overlooking those views. Now, if only the school could do something about the insane work shifts in medical residency.