Posts tagged with "New York":

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After a decade-long fight over I-81, Syracuse inches toward a decision

A small sliver of urban infrastructure has been both the bane and blessing of one city in Central New York for 60 years. Interstate 81, an 855-mile-long highway stretching from Tennessee to the U.S.–Canadian border, sliced through downtown Syracuse upon its completion, sparking generations of socioeconomic segregation. Today, the viaduct that hovers over Syracuse’s urban core has reached the end of its functional life, spurring residents and the state’s department of transportation (NYSDOT) to consider next steps for the consequential corridor and how reimagining the site might transform the city in dramatic ways. This isn’t a new transportation tale, but the decisions made in Syracuse could have a major impact on the health and wealth of its locals. For nearly a decade, conversations have centered around three options for the deteriorating viaduct: replace it with a new overpass, build an underground tunnel, or design a street grid that slows traffic through downtown Syracuse and thereby spurs development and a more walkable city. One grassroots group calling for the street grid is Rethink81. They’ve created a digital narrative that paints a clear picture of the city’s wrought history with the highway and what its future could look like. Renderings of the street grid site show new buildings, a green street, and a bike path that extends south on Almond Street in between downtown and University Hill. The street grid seems like the eco-friendliest and fiscally responsible option at $1.3 billion, but many are against it. The DOT estimates that a new elevated highway will cost $1.7 billion but take nearly ten years to complete. Some upstate members of the state legislature even favor the tunnel despite its hefty price tag of $3.6 billion, according to consulting firm WSP Global. The latest discussions—from Albany to Syracuse—center around whether the tunnel idea is still truly on the table. "It's the million dollar question," said Jason Evans, associate principal at Ashley McGraw Architects and member of ReThink81. "Seems like it’s a pretty altered investment to make from what would essentially be a bypass." Before and after renderings of the proposed street grid for I-81 reveal a tree-lined, walkable street for downtown Syracuse. Shown here: Harrison Street looking north. Both the tunnel and rebuilt viaduct would allow cars to zip through the city at the same rapid pace as they do today. But that’s just the problem, says Syracuse University architecture professor Lawrence Davis. The city’s biggest issues stem from the fact that hardly anyone lives, works, or plays in downtown. The mass exodus of white residents to the suburbs after World War II caused investment to be drawn away from downtown. To this day, the suburbs remain Syracuse’s wealthiest districts. “This is a vitally important thing to study because a lot of American cities are going through a similar thing and are taking a cost-benefit analysis of their infrastructure,” said Davis. “I’m arguing that the city of the future isn’t so much a concentric city but a multicentric city that’s built in the interest of everybody and provides a variety of neighborhood types.” When the viaduct was built, it cut off Syracuse’s lowest-income residents, members of the largely African American 15th Ward, from the new developments that have risen over the last several decades. This has contributed majorly to the city’s rising poverty rates. Ranked the 13th poorest city in the nation in 2016, it’s also one of the worst places for black Americans to live, according to data from 24/7 Wall Street last year. These stark realities date back to the decision made to build the highway in 1957. Yusuf Abdul-Qadir, Central New York chapter director of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), helps educate the local community and university students on the multilayered segregation that’s resulted, and how this modern moment in Syracuse’s history could help end the physical and financial isolation so many people feel there. “A highway isn’t naturally discriminating against everybody, but it creates a number of issues,” he said. “The car has literally split the city and made parts of it less desirable for development. If you look at these constituencies and their effective income, they are living this way because nothing’s been done to provide equitable opportunities for housing choice, economic mobility, or inclusion. It’s caused generational poverty.” Abdul-Qadir and the NYCLU are putting together an expert team of lawyers, urban planners, and project councilors that will continue to fight on behalf of Syracuse’s underrepresented populations as the I-81 debate moves forward. “This isn’t just an urban movement or a policy movement,” he said. “It’s a human rights movement and we’re trying to build momentum.” As of July, the NYSDOT was working on a new environmental impact statement that details how the three options will affect the city. A draft is expected to be complete by early 2019, at which time the public will be able to weigh in with commentary.
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Fire breaks out at the Statue of Liberty Museum construction site

A fire broke out at the Statue of Liberty Museum construction site on Monday, forcing 3,400 people to evacuate New York’s most famous tourist attraction, reported CBS News. The incident occurred on the north side of Liberty Island where the 26,000-square-foot museum, designed by FXCollaborative, is currently being built. According to the FDNY, three 100-pound propane tanks caught fire around noon yesterday where a new security screening facility is under construction. Work was being done on the roof of the building, which sits about 200 feet from the base of the statue, during the time of the fire. None of the tanks exploded due to the accident but one construction worker was injured. It took firefighters two hours to contain the flames. Set to open next May, the $70-million museum is being developed by the Statue of Liberty–Ellis Island Foundation, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Department of the Interior. The existing museum, which is laid out inside the statue herself, can’t accommodate the number of tourists the site sees per day. The new expansive design will be able to hold over 1,000 visitors per hour and will include three gallery spaces covering 15,000 square feet of the facility along with an outdoor plaza and a green roof that doubles as a terrace overlooking the monument. The museum will also sit above 500-year flood levels and feature exterior materials that can withstand hurricane-force winds and inclement weather. As of 2 p.m. Monday, the island opened back up to visitors and work resumed on the scene. The site has been under construction for just over a year by Phelps Construction Group and is on track for a spring 2019 opening.
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Offshore wind primed to proliferate in New England’s waters

Offshore wind power may finally be coming to the U.S. if recent developments are any indication. Relatively common in Europe, the technology is still rare on this side of the Atlantic, with just five turbines operating in U.S. waters. That may change, however, as several northeastern states have set offshore wind energy goals and have greenlit several key projects. Yale Climate Connections recently reported on potentially bright developments in the industry. The state governments of Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey have all put in place mandates that will require those states to draw a certain amount of their electricity from offshore wind farms as part of broader sustainability goals. Other New England states are pushing forward projects that would generate hundreds of megawatts of power (for reference the Hoover Dam generates approximately 2,000 megawatts). Connecticut and Rhode Island approved a 400-megawatt project, and smaller projects are coming to Long Island and Maryland. While offshore wind farms may finally be getting their moment, similar efforts seem to consistently get doomed from a wide range of opposing forces. The Navy opposes turbines on much of the West Coast. Conservationists have piped up against plans in the Great Lakes. Although New Jersey had created an offshore wind goal in 2010, the initiative sat dead under Governor Chris Christie, who was apparently not motivated to pursue such projects. NIMBY groups and the fishing industry have killed plans before, to say nothing of politicians who generally oppose any moves away from fossil fuels. Still, falling costs and gradually evolving attitudes on alternative energy may be finally tilting the political landscape in offshore wind's favor. If these New England projects come through, they may set a precedent for other developments across the country.
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North Fork architecture to be displayed in exhibit curated by Barry Bergdoll

This fall, the Cutchogue New Suffolk Library will be hosting an exhibition on the modernist homes sweeping North Fork, a beach community on New York's Long Island. A New Wave of Modern Architecture on the North Fork will catalogue the work of six architects and firms who have completed modernist projects across the enclave. Columbia art history professor Barry Bergdoll previously curated Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive at the Museum of Modern Art. A New Wave of Modern Architecture on the North Fork will open with a wine and cheese reception on September 7 and will run through September and October at the library’s rotating exhibition space, the Upstairs Gallery. The architects featured will include SO-ILShenton Architects, Joseph Tanney and Robert Luntz from Resolution: 4 Architecture, who specialize in prefabricated modern homes, William Ryall of Ryall Sheridan Architects, Richard Gluckman of Gluckman Tang ArchitectsAllan Wexler, and John Berg of Berg Design Architecture. New York design firm 2x4 will be designing the exhibition, and the Friends of the Cutchogue New Suffolk Library, a group of patrons and businesses who support and help program events at the library, will be hosting the event. While the bulk of the exhibition will cover work in the area designed after the year 2000, homes by Tony Smith and the sharply-angled houses of Charles Moore will be mentioned on a text panel at the show's entrance.
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Army Corps of Engineers proposes swinging sea gates for New York Harbor

The shores of New York and New Jersey are, as Hurricane Sandy demonstrated in 2012, particularly vulnerable to flooding, sea level rise, and extreme weather events. Coastal construction has become more resilient (though some question to what end) and flood prevention ideas both big and small have been floated to protect the area’s shores. Now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has proposed several different approaches to preventing flood surges using gates and berms in and around New York Harbor, and environmentalists are sounding the alarm. The proposals are part of the New York-New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study, a 2,150-mile survey of the region’s most vulnerable areas. The Corps has put together five schemes—four that use storm barriers, and one “as is” projection—and is soliciting feedback from New York and New Jersey residents with a series of information sessions this week. In designing floodwalls for New York Harbor or the Hudson and East Rivers, the Corps will need to balance ecological concerns with property protection; nonprofit clean water advocacy group Riverkeeper has called the Corps “hard infrastructure” solutions, those that use concrete barriers, detrimental to the health of the harbor and its waterways. The Hudson River is technically a tidal estuary and not a full-fledged river. Salt water from New York Harbor, and in turn the Atlantic Ocean, flows back up through the Hudson and mixes with fresh water from tributaries upstate to create a nutrient-rich environment. If the Corps's plan to install a five-mile-long gate across the harbor’s mouth between Sandy Hook, New Jersey, and Breezy Point in the Rockaways came to pass, Riverkeeper argues that the barrier would slowly cut off nutrients from the harbor and prevent contaminants from washing out into the ocean. “From Day One, these offshore barriers would start to restrict the tidal flow, contaminant and sediment transport, and migration of fish. They would impede the tidal ‘respiration’ of the river. We fear that a slow death would be inflicted on the river and that in time, the barriers would slowly, but surely, strangle the life out of the river as we know it.” The Corps alternative plans include: building berms, dunes, and seawalls across the lower-lying sections of the New York-New Jersey waterfront, with small floodgates across a few waterways; a barrier across the Staten Island-Brooklyn gap spanned by the Verrazzano-Narrows bridge and gates along Jamaica Bay; and targeted berms and seawalls across targeted low-lying coastal areas without any gates. Creating a centralized approach to flood prevention could be more effective than the piece-by-piece method currently being enacted but comes with its own set of risks. If a massive gate were installed to prevent flooding, it would need to be closed more and more frequently as sea levels rise and would increasingly cut off New York and New Jersey’s waterways from the ocean. Planning for a storm that currently has a probability of occurring once every hundred years may be futile as storms of such intensity become increasingly common. Seawalls have been linked to increased erosion, and if water builds up behind the wall, it can be hard to fully drain the affected area. The Corps is looking to identify a scheme to move forward with by the middle of this summer. However, with a possible price tag of $20 billion and several years of construction likely, whether or not the Corps can follow through is unclear. Interested New York and New Jersey residents can learn more at the following information sessions: Monday, July 9th, 3-5 PM and 6-8 PM at the Borough of Manhattan Community College in Tribeca, Richard Harris Terrace (main floor) 199 Chambers St, New York, NY 10007 Tuesday, July 10th, 3-5 PM and 6-8 PM at Rutgers University-Newark Campus, PR Campus Center, 2nd Floor, Essex Room 350 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Newark, NJ 07102 Wednesday, July 11th, 6-8 PM at the Hudson Valley Community Center in Poughkeepsie, Auditorium Room 110 South Grand Avenue, Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
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studioSTIGSGAARD designs a “25th century” space for Rammellzee retrospective

Rammellzee (1960–2010), a seminal New York artist, is finally getting his due with the expansive and explosive two-floor retrospective RAMMΣLLZΣΣ: Racing for Thunder at Red Bull Arts New York. The celebration of this multi-hyphenate artist, writer, and musician is no staid, white cube exhibition. The paintings, sculptures, videos, drawings, and ephemera that comprise the exhibition are brought to life in a deservedly elaborate space designed by studioSTIGSGAARD, helmed by its namesake architect Martin Stigsgaard, also of Voorsanger Architects. Though perhaps no longer as well-known as some of his contemporaries, Rammellzee was certainly renowned in the downtown scene in the 1980s and 90s. Referred to as the “King of the A Line” for his tagging chops during his early street art days, he collaborated with the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat (who designed the album art for one of his music releases) and appeared in numerous films, including Jim Jarmusch’s cult classic Stranger than Paradise (1984). At the peak of his notoriety and commercial success, Rammellzee rejected art world trappings and retreated to his Tribeca loft, which he called the Battle Station, where he would spend 20 years working on his Gesamtkunstwerk, a constantly evolving mythical world. Stigsgaard’s design, which was developed in close collaboration with curators Max Wolf, Carlo McCormick, Candice Strongwater, Jeff Mao, and Christian Omodeo, honors the legacy of Rammellzee’s Battle Station, without trying to replicate it, something they felt could not be done by anyone except Rammellzee himself. Instead, Stigsgaard tried to “create a framework...to set his work off,” relying on the body of work to bring visitors into his world while still providing an intelligible timeline and order in an immersive environment. Upon entering the exhibition space you are confronted with a tunnel of mesh walls with irregular, geometric apertures that create a spatial “compression.” Stigsgaard says this references not only a subway tunnel, the site where Rammellzee first began mobilizing language by tagging the A train in Far Rockaway, Queens, but also a tank firing range, apt for an artist who felt that he was leading a war against the cultural tyranny of the alphabet. Down the tunnel are some of Rammellzee’s early visual works, as well as a script he developed, and an original 12th-century manuscript. The manuscript serves as a touchstone for Rammellzee’s approach to language as a visual, and eventually, performative and spatial, practice and his self-identification as a “gothic futurist.” He was constantly fighting against normative order—his own manifesto Gothic Futurist describes the symbolic battle of letters against the alphabet’s stultifying standardization, as realized in his graffiti and his later Letter Racers. The central upstairs gallery manifests Rammellzee’s military obsession and his invented linguistic theory of “Ikonoklast Panzerism.” For this space, Stigsgaard used what he described as Panzerkeil formations, which refer to a V-shaped arrangement of tanks used by the Germans on the Eastern Front. The formation leads to a strong exterior defense with a weaker interior. Here, the formation acts as the parti for the exhibition space; the structure presents a full-frontal approach for larger work with a more intimate interior to observe smaller pieces, simultaneously organizing the space and causing one to be “put off balance.” The formation’s visual logic extends even to the angular vitrines and other details. The final stage upstairs exemplifies the unorthodox use of lighting in the exhibition. Shifting on a timer, the lighting in this last space goes between the usual white light to black light that makes Rammellzee’s paintings and sculptures pop and glow. As you come around towards the stairwell, you see Rammellzee’s Letter Racers, hung ready for battle, spiraling downstairs. These Letter Racers are 26 fighter plane-style assemblages of detritus and consumer goods mounted on skateboards and remote-controlled cars, each a letter in Rammellzee’s invented alphabet. Light confronts you in your face as you take their mass in. This is hardly unintentional. As Stigsgaard says, “It's not about creating a comfortable lighting. I like that you get a big blast in your face. This is not a white box, ordinary gallery. You need to be a little bit thrown off.” The downstairs takes on a more cave-like quality. Ceilings are low and the space is almost unnervingly dark. We have entered the physical realization of the 25th century, a major era in Rammellzee’s extensive cosmology. Metal mesh walls that conceal and reveal—again in Panzerkeil formation—are on islands of what at first appears to be stone or gravel, but upon closer investigation are shredded tires. Here are perhaps the most memorable pieces in the exhibit, his Garbage Gods, full-scale armored sculptural costumes made of found objects and sidewalk trash. This cast of characters each has their own place within Rammellzee’s sci-fi mythology, with personalities he would adapt by wearing and performing the costumes. In the rear of the space is a glowing polystyrene “rock formation” that holds scale model Garbage Gods in its niches. This strange hybrid of natural and artificial, urban and prehistoric, creates a space that Stigsgaard describes as “outside of time.” The gothic meets the space-age, suits accumulate and reconfigure the histories of the found objects that comprise them, boundaries breakdown and time falls into itself—both in Rammellzee’s art and in the design of the space. After passing the final massive Garbage God, slivers of red light hint at an additional space. Though relatively large, tire shreds take up most of the room, allowing you just small passage. At dead center is a pyramid. Suspended on acrylic it seems to be floating. Red light hits its reflective surface, again creating an almost blinding moment. Lurking in the right corner is another Garbage God and at the right is one of Rammellzee’s bricolage luggage pieces. The room certainly feels significant and has a certain stillness, but without reading the wall text the space’s real weight might be missed. This pyramid is an urn, designed by Rammellzee, to contain his own ashes. This Garbage God is Reaper Grimm. This luggage is what he wished to carry into the next life. It is here, with Rammellzee present, that you realize this is no mere exhibition; this is a temple, or perhaps even, a mausoleum. RAMMΣLLZΣΣ: Racing for Thunder Red Bull Arts New York 220 West 18th Street, New York, NY Through August 26th
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Historic Trinity Church begins decades-overdue restoration

Today, Manhattan’s historic Trinity Church commenced an approximately two-year restoration project. The last restoration of the church occurred over seven decades ago in 1946. New York’s Murphy Burnham & Buttrick is leading the restoration of three-century old church. Trinity Church is one of the oldest parishes in New York City. The congregation moved to its Richard Upjohn-designed Gothic Revival house of worship in 1846. Since then, Trinity has built three additions to Upjohn’s original design, including the All Saints’ Chapel. Upjohn was a cofounder of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and a prodigious ecclesiastical architect in New York and New England. The nearly $100 million project will bring the church to contemporary accessibility and environmental standards through the construction of wheelchair-accessible ramps along the church’s entrances, gender-neutral restrooms, and a new steel-and-glass canopy adjacent to the south elevation. While a significant portion of the project is dedicated to new alterations, Murphy Burnham & Buttrick are fully repairing and restoring the church’s stained-glass windows, redesigning historic pews, and replacing non-original clerestory fenestration. Additionally, the church’s chancel will be adapted to Upjohn’s original design, boosting seating capacity by 140 seats. In a statement, Trinity Church Vicar Reverend Phil Jackson said the decades of deferred window maintenance shrouded the church’s interior detailing under a layer of shadow. Through the restoration, Jackson hopes to highlight the nave and main body’s impressive Gothic rib vaults and collenettes by giving “back its light.” Murphy Burnham & Buttrick has amassed a wide scope of residential and religious restorations across New York City, including an expansive top-down project for St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which involved the conservation of interior and exterior masonry and stained glass windows, and even the insertion of a nine-well geothermal plant below the cathedral. During the restoration process, Trinity Church’s nave and main body will be closed off to parishioners and visitors. The project is slated to be completed  by spring 2020, and Trinity Church hopes to reopen the nave soon after.
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Congolese sculptor’s elaborate cityscapes go on view at MoMA

On May 26, MoMA is opening Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams, the first retrospective of the late Congolese sculptor and artist’s three-decade career. Born in 1948 in what was then the Belgian Congo, Kingelez was known for creating what he termed “extreme maquettes.” The exhibition will feature over 30 of these maquettes, built of colorfully detailed everyday objects, ranging in size from individual buildings to miniaturized utopian cityscapes, some measuring over 70 square feet. Kingelez’s work is described as attuned to world events, versed in contemporaneous architectural trends, and knowledgeable of foreign vernacular forms. For example Kinasha la Belle (1991) incorporates a distinctively Dutch gabled house wedged into a pastel-coloured circular residential complex, sporting cardboard pendants and a markered frieze. Towards the end of his career, Kingelez’s work grew more adventurous in terms of scale and material composition. MoMA points to Nippon Tower (2005) as a particularly idiosyncratic architectural model by the artist, built of “a plastic Smint box, packaging from a milk carton, BIC razor blades, light bulb boxes, and a playfully shaped spoon.” The cityscapes created by Kingelez are diverse in their architectural forms and scales. Crafted of plastic, paper, and paperboard, Ville de Sete 3009 (2009) is a futuristic city populated by shard-like, sheer, and terraced skyscrapers, which are connected by an illuminated network of Haussmannian boulevards. Ville Fantome (1996), Kingelez’s largest cityscape on display, will also feature a virtual reality component developed by Third Pillar. Through VR, visitors will be able to traverse through the utopian city which Kingelez described as “a city that breathes nothing but joy” and “a peaceful city where everyone is free.” City Dreams is curated by MoMA’s Sarah Suzuki and Hilary Reder, and closes on January 1, 2019.
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Giant inflatable flowers are taking over Sixth Avenue

Starting May 2, New York-based creative studio PLAYLAB, INC. is decking out the glass canyon of Sixth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan with a broad stroke of color in the form of giant, inflatable flowers. The public art installation is sponsored by the Avenue of the Americas Association. GROWN UP FLOWERS consists of six different inflatable pieces, which PLAYLAB describes as “sitting, lounging, floating, standing tall or even bending down to greet passerbys” between 44th and 55th streets. PLAYLAB hopes to harken back to Manhattan’s pre-colonial landscape, one where the “island was covered with wild and beautiful flowers.” As a result of their gargantuan size, the installation’s flowers will be able “to compete with the scale of their surroundings.” Each of the six flowers is assigned a unique stance and personality. For example, Jack of 1221 Sixth Avenue measures 30 feet in height and “loves to draw portraits.” Wilt bends towards passing bystanders and enjoys “all kinds of people and can be a little bit of a talker.” PLAYLAB, INC.’s projects often activate public space with interactive installations, including giant slinky-like tents for the Storefront for Art & Architecture and an ongoing collaboration with Plus Pool to design a water-filtering floating pool on the East River. Inflatable Images, an Ohio outdoor advertising company specializing in custom inflatables, fabricated the oversized flowers. The colorful installation will be up through June.
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New York’s latest napping destination Nap York expands to meet demand

Nap York, a nap and meditation center that recently launched in New York City, has just completed an expansion of its rent-by-the-hour sleeping pods and a renovation of its yoga and lounge facilities. Part of the growing trend of meditation studios and wellness centers cropping up around New York City, the Midtown napping location opened in late February 2018, promising New Yorkers and tourists alike a secluded respite from the surrounding neighborhood. In the renovation, and probably due to popular demand, Nap York expanded the number of pods available from 7 to 29. Due to budget constraints, the design and renovation was conducted in house. The “Pods” are split into three categories: Stacked Pod, Standalone Pod, and VIP Pod. As the names suggest, the nap cubicles range in size and arrangement, with the stacked pods being similar to Japanese kapuseru hoteru, or capsule hotels. Each pod is built out of locally sourced reclaimed wood, both plain and painted charcoal black, faintly illuminated by dotted LED lights fashioned to resemble a miniature constellation. Ringing each row of pods is a course of hanging vegetation, a component of the more than 250 plants found throughout the location. The renovation includes the installation of cocoon-like “egg chairs” and workstations in the Yoga Studio & Lounge. Located on 36th Street & 7th Avenue, one of Manhattan’s busier corners, Nap York has successfully cut off the Midtown racket through the complete soundproofing of the building. Currently, Nap York is hoping to add a greenhouse and hydroponic farm to its rooftop lounge, which currently consists of hammocks and communal tables built of reclaimed wood.
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A High Line in Pittsburgh? Officials bet big on elevated park in Steel City

Move over, New York. Earlier this month, developers McKnight Realty Partners held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Highline, Pittsburgh’s newest mega-conversion. Developer McKnight Realty teamed up with local firm Indovina Associates Architects to redevelop the Pittsburgh Terminal Warehouse and Transfer Company (map) on the city’s deindustrialized South Shore. The $110 million complex will bring 600,000 square feet of office and retail to the area. The building—they are one, but appear to be two—is connected by a five-hundred-foot-long elevated roadway that will be converted into a park-like space with lighting and seating. The walkway will be extended to the abutting Monongahela River and face north towards the city’s Downtown. Similar in name and form to Manhattan’s High Line, which brought a disused freight railway line back to life as a public park and spurred a development boom on Manhattan’s Far West Side, Pittsburgh's Highline project seeks to revitalize a significant site within the city's post-industrial landscape. Indovina’s design incorporates vegetative and hardscaping features, such as raised planters and textured concrete pavers. Below the Highline, and along the facility’s loading docks, there will be a lower park dubbed the Yards which will serve as an extension to Pittsburgh’s preexisting river trail system. Restoration is key to the project. Notably, all of the complex’s damaged windows will be replaced with historically accurate units and both the cast-iron detailing and brick curtain walls will be entirely restored. Completed in 1906, The Terminal Building was designed by prominent Pittsburgh architect Charles Bickel. Like the former warehouses adjacent to Manhattan’s High Line, the facility was designed to integrate freight and warehousing logistics in an urban setting. The conversion of The Terminal Building joins Pittsburgh’s ongoing restoration and construction trend that has brought similar warehouses back to life, such as the city’s Produce Terminal and the Allegheny Riverfront Green Boulevard. The Pittsburgh Tribune reported the project will receive approximately $17.5 million in federal and state financial incentives, and construction should be complete by 2019.
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Ian Ritchie advocates for subtlety and organic geometries in glass architecture

On April 19, for the afternoon keynote of The Architects Newspapers Facades+ conference in New York, architect Ian Ritchie discussed his decades-long involvement in forward-looking glass architecture. Beginning with the tongue-in-cheek statement, “Glass is the answer; what was the question? the British architect detailed the technological specifications and design considerations behind his projects. Ranging in size from personal residences to convention centers, the projects convey his expertise with manufactured materials.

As head of his own practice, Ian Ritchie Architects, Ritchie’s process is influenced by a range of fields, from neuroscience to poetry.

Ritchie began with one of his earliest projects, the self-constructed Fluy House (1976). Composed of a prefabricated set of materials, including a lightweight steel frame and pre-cast concrete floor slabs, Ritchie described his early curtain wall as glass acting as a windbreaker, a thin protective barrier between shelter and the sites surrounding countryside.

Ritchie also described projects he worked on as a founding partner of the engineering firm, RFR Engineers. For example, he talked about unique projects such as engineering I.M Peis Louvre Pyramids, which entailed the creation of a full-scale Kevlar mockup and the use of "phantom fixing to insure the transparency of the glass structures final design.

Next, in talking about the design of Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Arts circulation towers and the Messe-Leipzig Glass Hall, Ritchie described how unique engineering devices such as externally suspended and grid-worked glass panels bring the tectonics of design and engineering into public view while creating open and accessible spaces.

In line with his firm’s straightforward forms, Ritchie was critical of the contemporary trend of hyper-engineered glass facades with multiple curves and contortions, asking, "Is architecture intelligence or indulgence?" Instead, he emphasized the natural, biological forms that influence his creative process and, ultimately, his firms output.

Ritchies drive to bridge the highly technical, manufactured character of glass with natural objects and processes was also highlighted by his presentation of the firms recently completed, 150,000-square-foot Sainsbury Wellcome Center.

Located in Londons Fitzrovia, a central city district surrounded by architectural conservation areas predominantly comprised of Georgian architecture, Ritchie saw the Sainsbury Wellcome Center as a melting ice block spilling into the surrounding neighborhood." To fulfill this analogy, the firm opted for translucent cast glass with vertical, corduroy-like detailing that imitated the stone rustication and brick-and-mortar facades of the surrounding area.

Ritchie concluded with a call for architects to recognize that current glass design and architecture may be surpassing contemporary engineering capabilities. In his view, too many architects are acting as sculptors, an approach that will fail to make glass warm and haptically friendly to the public.