Posts tagged with "nonprofits":

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Fougeron Architecture transforms a 1920s building into a home for organizations fighting for tech industry diversity

Like a big house accommodating different family members, the new Kapor Center needed to support three distinct-but-related organizations: Kapor Capital, the Kapor Center for Social Impact, and the Level Playing Field Institute. Each needed to share modern offices and venues for gatherings, tours, and discussions, all in one building, but without leaving each function isolated and cut-off. Additionally, the design had to fit within an existing 1920s building on an irregular site in the heart of Oakland, California. All three groups are dedicated to increasing the tech industry's diversity, though approach the challenge from different angles: Kapor Capital invests in companies that address social inequalities, the Center builds partnerships to increase Oakland residents' access to the tech sector, and the Institute tackles barriers to minorities learning STEM subjects. All three groups are also the work of tech industry veterans Mitch Kapor and Freada Kapor Klein; the husband-and-wife team held a design competition and tapped San Francisco–based Fougeron Architecture to build a new Center to consolidate their efforts. "We love mission-driven architecture," said firm founder Anne Fougeron. "For us, it represents, in some ways, the furthering of the missions we had with Planned Parenthood," a longstanding and repeat client for Fougeron Architecture. At the heart of Fougeron's pitch were two cylindrical volumes located atop one another that could unite the project's diverse programming. The bottom volume connects the ground floor to a lower level that features a double-height auditorium. The upper volume, which cuts through a range of workspaces, is topped by a channel glass oculus and an extensive rooftop terrace. The Kapors were sold: "I wanted to create some verticality... connections between the floors, but also visual connections that you remember," Fougeron said. "Almost a mnemonic device. You would always feel, while you were in the building, that you had an understanding of what the floors were like and what people were doing there." In addition to creating an open and democratic environment, the volumes could impress visitors and host the diverse social functions that come with the business and nonprofit world. "Freada wanted this integrated building, one that had a fair amount of pizzazz," added Fougeron. "She wanted something people would walk into and go 'wow.'" The 45,000-square-foot project's biggest challenge was the existing structure, which had been repeatedly remodeled over the years. But demolishing it wasn't an option: "For [the Kapors], reusing the building is about this respect of place in Oakland." Reusing 75% of the existing building also helped the project attain LEED Gold certification. Other sustainable features included bicycle parking, low flow fixtures, natural ventilation strategies, and recycled materials such as glass tile, redwood, and carpet tile. The newly-added fourth floor, in addition to its green roof, drought-tolerant plants, and heat-reducing wood decking (all other LEED pluses), features the oculus itself, which glows at night. The illuminated capstone not only distinguishes the Center but simultaneously symbolizes its "role to grow outward and upward within the community,"  as the firm wrote in a press release.
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Wheeler Kearns’ renovation of a Chicago nonprofit arts center wins 2016 SEED Award

Building on a long relationship, the 2016 SEED Award for Public Interest Design has been awarded to the arts education nonprofit Marwen’s new renovation and expansion, designed by Chicago-based Wheeler Kearns Architects. Founded in 1987 in a one-room studio, Marwen now serves from 200 to 300 students a year in part thanks to expansions and renovations done over the last 20 years by Wheeler Kearns. The newest of these projects renovated 30,000 square feet, expanding the organization’s space within its current building. New spaces in the building include a main student gallery, an alumni gallery, a library, administrative offices, nine state-of-the-art instructional studios, and a 950-square-foot glass loggia on the north side of the building. The loggia, an element Marwen and Wheeler Kearns have been discussing for since 1999, was finally able to be realized with the purchase of the neighboring parking lot. The space acts as an additional public exhibition and gathering space. Continuing with some of the elements and sensibility of earlier renovations for the organization, Wheeler Kearns worked with existing conditions in the former manufacturing building. Most walls were left as exposed brick and heavy timber douglas fir beams make up the structure and ceiling. The floors were replaced with poured, sound-deadening, tooled concrete. Gallery and studio spaces have limited color pallets to allow for exhibition flexibility, while informal support spaces are set in vibrant colors. The new and improved spaces will be used to expand Marwen’s programs and support its increased focus on college and career counseling for under-served 6–12 grade students from around Chicago. Along with that counseling the organization provides free classes in photography, graphic design, film, animation, textiles, and ceramics. Besides working with Marwen on its former spaces, Wheeler Kearns has also worked on other small cultural institutions in Chicago including the Old Town School of Folk Music and the Beverly Art Center. In a statement Dan Wheeler, founding partner at Wheeler Kearns explained the office's interest in designing for the youth and the arts, “In many minds, the arts are seen as an avocation; for a parent to come into a designed place and see that there are serious teachers and artists working with and instructing the students, and that their child’s work is considered and presented in a professional way, that gives them the confidence that this activity might actually be something to support and sustain their child.”
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Navy Pier redesign gets $20 million private donation

Chicago’s Navy Pier is currently undergoing major changes courtesy of a design team led by James Corner Field Operations. That work got an infusion of cash Thursday, as local benefactors from the Polk Bros. department store chain announced a donation of $20 million. It’s the single largest private gift ever made to Navy Pier, Illinois’ most-visited tourist attraction. Their donation will support the redevelopment of 13 acres of the site, including Navy Pier’s entrance, Gateway Park. The park will be renamed for the Polk Brothers upon construction, which is expected to wrap up in time for the Pier’s 100th anniversary in 2016. James Corner Field Operations’ plan for the new Polk Bros Park calls for two performance spaces and a 75-foot wide fountain that will serve as an ice rink during winter. Renderings also detail a wider promenade for pedestrian traffic and a welcome facility that will rent bikes. An “arts and culture plan” will be devised, said Bill Brodsky, chair of Navy Pier, Inc.—the nonprofit formed three years ago to guide the multiphase redevelopment. The plan is expected to detail how to feature art, plays, and other cultural programming originating from neighborhoods around Chicago. Polk-Bros-Fountain-and-Plaza800px Members of Navy Pier, Inc. were on hand to thank the Polks Thursday, as was 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly. Mayor Rahm Emanuel appeared to choke up as he compared the Polks’ early 20th–century immigration from Romania to his own family background, praising the appliance retailers as an embodiment of the American dream. Though the project’s $115 million first phase is already under construction, Navy Pier’s makeover still faces hurdles. Redeveloping the Pier is a delicate undertaking, necessitating a mix of high design and sympathetic populism to sufficiently update the downtown icon without overwhelming the appeal it has as, to quote Daniel Burnham, “the People’s Pier.”
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Public Architecture, Conversations on Design and Public Impact

Last night, the Woolly Mammoth theater in downtown Washington, D.C. hosted a forum on design's potential to affect social change, organized by the San Francisco nonprofit Public Architecture and sponsored by Teknion. Attendees filed into a rehearsal hall to hear four speakers from the public and private sectors who are using design to effect change on different scales. John Peterson, the founder of Public Architecture, introduced the session with a brief survey of his organization's projects and programs, and a call to action: Noting that there are 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States, and that their total annual revenue tops $1 trillion, he contended that this is an important client base designers have mostly failed to engage. An important objective of Public Architecture right now is "to wake that sleeping economy," he said. Jess Zimbabwe, executive director of the Rose Center for Public Leadership at the Urban Land Institute, spoke about her group's efforts to foster dialogue between developers and public officials. A fellowship program that the Rose Center runs for public officials allows them to "step back from emergencies at their desks" and practice design thinking—not the most natural mode of thinking for them, Zimbabwe pointed out. Gabriel Kroiz, an architect who is program director at Morgan State University's architecture school in Baltimore, discussed his work on the building and neighborhood scales in that city, as well as his teaching, and Frank Giblin, director of the Urban Development/Good Neighbor Program at the GSA, described the collaborative strategies used to improve public spaces around several of that agency's courthouse projects. Local developer Jair Lynch spoke of belonging to a "new age of developers" who are responding to the societal shift toward living and working in existing places, and put forward a five-stage model of urban regeneration. The conversation picks up again tonight in Philadelphia, with a forum at the Arts Ballroom on Locust Street.