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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In over 100 projects, Team Better Block (TBB), the organization that works directly with cities to realize large-scale placemaking initiatives, helps make your great city even better. Now, thanks to a $775,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Dallas-based organization will be better able to serve cities and the people who make them. The January grant, meted out in installments, allowed TBB to create the Better Block Foundation (BBF), a nonprofit arm of for-profit TBB. Founder Jason Roberts explained that the grant will help both entities grow and support each other mutually. Roberts clarified that, while Better Block solutions like bike lane, plaza, and pop-up business recipes are "an open-source operating system, like Linux," free and open for all to use, TBB installs Better Block solutions for a fee. He and co-founder Andrew Howard realized a need for the foundation when TBB went worldwide. "We didn't have the bandwidth, so we needed the non-profit model. The nonprofit will help other folks do these things," he told AN. Things like transforming underutilized spaces, building workforce capacity, and cultivating vacant land. The program is expanding its staff to include a managing director, architect, project manager, and creating an internship program. Howard will manage TBB, while Roberts, who enjoys research and development, is directing the foundation. The BBF includes a human capacity-building component, as well. Civic leaders, elected officials, developers, and others "passionate about the built environment" will be able to meet architects, planners, and designers to discuss solutions for their cities' public spaces. Additionally, the foundation will build capacity to collect data and performance metrics before and after a Better Block project is installed. "We haven't had a chance to document that piece," Roberts reflected. "The foundation can focus on impact." This year, the BBF and TBB are planning the WikiBlocks project for the city of St. Paul. In collaboration with neighborhood groups, they'll install parklets, flowerbeds, and cafe seating from cutout designs whose plans are free to download and assemble. TBB is teaming up with the digital fabrication studio at Kent State University to create the prototypes for the project: In about three months, the early models will be developed. TBB knows how local culture manifests itself in and through the built environment, and that drawing on that ethos is key to building strong neighborhoods. Right now, TBB is using one site to turn around a struggling neighborhood in Akron, Ohio, and posing the question in reverse: how could culture express itself in an individual house? Working with refugees from Bhutan, in collaboration with the International Institute, the Bhutan Cultural Association, and a Community Development Corporation (CDC) in Akron, the team is transforming a dilapidated house in the North Hill neighborhood into The Exchange House, an Airbnb youth hostel managed by the émigrés. Refugees sponsored by the State Department are indebted to the government: refugees have to pay back their plane ticket. Consequently, they're expected to find work, but language and cultural barriers can make that difficult. Running the hostel will provide an opportunity for cultural exchange, help refugees earn money, and build English language skills, as well as revitalize a neighborhood that has excess housing and infrastructural capacity. The partners hope to "stamp North Hill as an international neighborhood." There's 11 months left on the project, and demolition on the interior is progressing apace. Sai Sinbondit (of Cleveland-based Bialosky + Partners Architects) is the lead architect. A market, garden, and community resource center will round out the hostel's program.
The team of Copenhagen-based Henning Larsen Architects and Cincinnati-based KZF Design have been selected by University of Cincinnati to design and construct the new $100 million Carl H. Lindner College of Business. The project will consist of 250,000 square foot of class rooms and facilities and will sit on the site of the current Russel C. Myers Alumni Center. The team was selected from a shortlist of three offices that also included London’s Foster+Partners and Bath, U.K.–based FCB Studios International. The process of picking international firms for the project is part of the University’s Signature Architecture Program, a campus planning program which has brought world renounced architects to the University of Cincinnati to design campus buildings for the past 15 years. Henning Larsen will join Frank Gehry, Michael Graves, Peter Eisenman, and Thom Mayne, among others, in having a project on the Uptown campus. KZF Design will act as the local architect of record on the project. The interdisciplinary firm provides architecture, engineering, interiors, and planning, throughout the United States, and has worked on the University of Cincinnati campus in the past. Previously KZF worked with Thom Mayne as part of the Signature Architecture Program on the UC Campus Recreation Center. Founded in 1959, Henning Larsen Architects is known for its civic and cultural work, including the crystalline Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre in Reykjavik, Iceland and the more recent Kolding Campus at the University of Southern Denmark. With work throughout Europe and the Middle East, this project will be Henning Larsen’s first major project in the United States. Drawing on the traditions of Scandinavian design, their work often focuses on the control of natural light and the making of central communal spaces.
According to the American Public Transportation Association, a public transit advocacy group, there are more than 90 cities in the United States that are actively considering implementing streetcar systems. Of those 90, over a quarter are in the Midwest. Though all in different stages of planning, development, and construction, a handful are well underway, with service beginning as early as 2016. Kansas City and Cincinnati are both in the process of live testing their newly manufactured cars, while Milwaukee debates expanding its current plans. Though hundreds of cities across the country once had streetcars, by the 1960s most had been dismantled with the rise of the private automobile and public bus systems. The current renaissance of streetcar construction is often attributed to cities interested in bolstering downtown transit options, and encouraging more ecologically sustainable modes of transportation. Downtown Kansas City, Missouri, may be the first of the new Midwest streetcar lines to open in early 2016. Dubbed the RideKC Streetcar, the light blue electric trolleys will services a 2.2-mile street along Main St. The system will have four cars running between 16 stops for 18 hours a day. Similarly to streetcars of the past, electricity will be drawn from overhead wires. Unlike past services, the new cars will be wi-fi enabled and free to ride. This first leg of construction is being positioned as a first step in a much larger plan to link the entire Kansas City region with multi-model integrated transit system. Detroit’s new streetcar system will be unique in that it was masterminded by a private non-profit organization. The M-1 Rail, to open by 2017, draws on the economic power of small and large businesses along its route, philanthropic institutions, and a close tie with city government to realize a complex funding and administrative system for the public-private venture. At one point the project was envisioned to expand to a 9 mile route, with more involvement from regional transit partnerships. After multiple feasibility studies it was found that, for economic reason, the 3.3 mile current route was more viable, with possibilities of expansion in the near future. The path to building streetcar systems is often far from smooth. With resistance from state and local governments, it took Cincinnati voters electing new city councilors and rejecting multiple anti-rail ballot initiatives to realize their new transit system. With discussions starting in earnest in 2007 and construction starting in 2012, it will be nine years in the coming when the system finally opens in September 2016. The 3.6 mile loop will service the Over the Rhine neighborhood and the downtown, highlighting the original intent of the system to encourage development in both districts. The Over the Rhine neighborhood, a member of the National Register of Historic Places, has been experiencing a renaissance in the last 10 years, after decades of struggles with crime and declining population. In the case of Milwaukee’s streetcar project, set to open in 2018, the resistance has not been coming from the government as much as from a small group of vocal opponents, who have taken issue with the $124 million project. Though, with a recent failure of a petition to stop further expansion of the already approved first leg of the system, the opposition seems to have dried up. The majority of the funding for the Milwaukee Streetcar is coming from U.S. Department of Transportation grants and Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) Districts. The city and the federal government are betting on the street car to relieve vehicle congestion and pollution while raising property values along the route. Anticipating the rail’s impact on downtown Milwaukee, a 44-story residential tower by local architects Rinka Chung is planned to begin construction in 2016. The base of the project will integrate a streetcar stop along with shopping and office programs. Though it may have been 50 years since many U.S. cities have had street cars, the next five years will see large moves to reverse that situation. Along with KC, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Detroit, St. Louis, MO, and St.Paul, MN, are making moves to implement their own streetcar systems. With the rise of the suburbs and automobile travel often being blamed for the decline of the streetcar, it would seem that this new trend might be pointing towards yet another indicator of the tendencies of contemporary city dwellers. A greater environmental consciousness, neighborhood investment, and a shifted understanding of economic stability, define the values of a young population that streetcar systems across the Midwest, and the entire country, hope to leverage into success.
After nearly a decade in the works, the renovation of Cincinnati's grand Music Hall has a construction timeline. The $129 million construction project crept along for years, the building languishing while preservationists sought to raise funds for its restoration—even as the fortunes of the surrounding neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine surged. Music Hall landed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of endangered historic places just months prior to receiving a critical $25 million Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit last year. Now, officials say, the 1878 landmark will shut down in June for renovations and reopen to the public in fall 2017. The Music Hall Revitalization Company still needs $6 million by January to close a lingering budget gap for the project, but MHRC board chair Otto M. Budig tells the Cincinnati Enquirer that a new wave of donors has him “confident that we’re not only going to raise that last $6 million, but maybe a few million more for an endowment.” Architects on the project include Washington, D.C.–based Martinez + Johnson Architecture, and Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Goettel of Pittsburgh. Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) is the lead developer.
The Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence has announced its 2015 gold and silver medalists. For the past 27 years, the biennial competition has honored “transformative places distinguished by physical design and contributions to the economic, environmental and social vitality of America’s cities.” This year’s gold medal—and $50,000—goes to Baltimore’s “Miller Court,” an abandoned industrial facility that was transformed into a mixed-use building with housing, and a focus on fostering teachers and education-focused non-profits. The transformation was spearheaded by the Seawall Development Company, Enterprise Community Investment, and Marks, Thomas Architects. The project was completed in 2009. “Aware of the challenges facing the Baltimore school system and professionals entering the field through programs like Teach for America, Seawall sought to build a safe, welcoming community for teachers and a home for allied nonprofits that would strengthen the neighborhood and city,” the Bruner Foundation said in a press release. “Attracting national attention as a model, the project has generated additional investment in Remington and has been replicated in Philadelphia.” Below are the four silver medalists, each of which received $10,000. Falls Park on the Reedy Greenville, South Carolina
From the Bruner Foundation: "The renaissance of a 26-acre river corridor running through the heart of Greenville, restoring public access to the falls and greenspace and catalyzing adjacent downtown development. (Submitted by the City of Greenville)"Grand Rapids Downtown Market Grand Rapids, Michigan
From the Bruner Foundation: "A new downtown public space promoting local food producers and community events, entrepreneurship, and education about nutrition and healthy lifestyles. (Submitted by Grand Rapids Downtown Market)"Quixote Village Olympia, Washington
From the Bruner Foundation: "A two-acre community of 30 tiny houses and a common building that provides permanent, supportive housing for chronically homeless adults. (Submitted by Panza)"Uptown District Cleveland, Ohio
From the Bruner Foundation: "The redevelopment of a corridor linking art, educational and health care institutions with surrounding neighborhoods, creating outdoor gathering spaces, retail shops and restaurants, student and market-rate housing, and public transit connections. (Submitted by Case Western Reserve University)"
Parklets are coming to Cleveland. The urban planning tool remaking urban streetscapes from Los Angeles to Chicago got a nod from Cleveland's Planning Commission last week, clearing the way for an outdoor living room to replace a parking space in front of the popular Noodlecat restaurant at 234 Euclid Avenue. Pending permits, the pedestrian area and space for street theater should pop up in less than one month, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Steven Litt. The nonprofit Historic Gateway Neighborhood Corp. worked with David Jurca of Kent State University's Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative and architect Jason Rohal of Vocon to design the space, gathering about half the of the necessary $7,000 from the co-op Cleveland Collectivo. Cleveland's first miniature, plug-in public space will take the form of a wooden deck, outfitted with moveable furniture and stools. If it's popular, it could be the first of many.
Work is currently underway on a new mixed-use development at Ohio's Oberlin College that, once complete later this year, will include one of only a handful of hotels pursuing LEED Platinum certification in the United States. The hotel operator is Olympia Companies, based in Portland, Maine. In addition to 70 guest rooms, the building features a restaurant focused on local food, 10,000 square feet of retail, a conference center, and a basement jazz club. Rounding out the facility's 105,000 square feet will be offices for the college's admissions and development staff. The Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center, developed by Cleveland's Smart Hotels, was planned to be “the cornerstone of Oberlin's Green Arts District,” at the intersection of North Main Street and East College Street. Chicago architects Solomon Cordwell Buenz designed the project, which will draw on Oberlin's existing 13-acre solar photovoltaic farm adjacent to campus. Smart Hotels' Christopher Noble said the design team worked with the New York office of Germany's Transsolar on the development of that solar farm, and the new building will not throw Oberlin off its target of purchasing 100 percent renewable energy for electricity by the end of 2015. Mechanical engineers KJWW helped finesse the building's fully radiant heating and cooling, which employs no forced-air ventilation—although some back-of-house areas will still use some water-source heat pumps, Noble said. “We're relying on nonconventional HVAC systems,” said Noble, who added that heating and cooling needs will be fulfilled fully from geothermal wells on site. The building is expected to be certified LEED Platinum after opening early next year. While the design team hasn't assessed the payback period for the building's sustainable features, Noble said Oberlin made energy efficiency a project priority. “It wasn't a cost issue,” he said. “It was a design issue—we were going to make a statement and do this.” Of the $35 million total project cost, $12 million came from outside donors, including $5 million from the building's namesake, the late philanthropist and chairman of Progressive Insurance Company, Peter B. Lewis.
An iconic pedestrian bridge planned for downtown Cleveland has been delayed, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Steven Litt. Originally planned to be ready in time for the Republican national convention in 2016, the $25 million steel bridge would connect the northeast corner of Cleveland's downtown Mall to an open space on the shores of Lake Erie between the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the Great Lakes Science Center. Passing over two other designs, the Group Plan Commission also indicated a preference for a cable-stayed bridge designed by architect Miguel Rosales of Boston. But now the bridge, which will accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians, won't be complete until 2017, officials said. Cleveland and Cuyahoga County each agreed to pitch in $10 million for the project. The state of Ohio will pay the remaining $5 million.
Remember the Future: Daniel Arsham Contemporary Arts Center 44 East 6th Street Cincinnati, OH March 20–August 30 Remember the Future is the first major exhibition in Ohio by Cleveland-born artist Daniel Arsham. In it, site-specific installations respond to the scale, light, and structure of the Contemporary Arts Center building in Cincinnati. Known for “making architecture do all the things it shouldn’t,” Arsham’s work marries theater, classicism, and hallucination by liquefying gallery walls, furniture, and the human form. Eerie, cloth-covered figures ripple from the walls as if trying to entice the viewer to another world on the far side, while elsewhere Arsham makes the walls appear to be in the process of melting. The artist’s recent work has involved casting outdated media devices—cameras, film projectors, and microphones—in geological material such as volcanic ash, crystal, and crushed glass.
A luminous, arched pavilion in Ohio aims to highlight the potential of 3D fabrication techniques, and to so it's mounting a Promethean stunt. The so-called Solar Bytes Pavilion grabs sunlight during the day and radiates light when it gets dark, recreating the day's solar conditions minute-by-minute throughout the night. Brian Peters helped found DesignLabWorkshop in 2008, eventually settling in Kent, Ohio. Their latest project is the Solar Bytes Pavilion, a continuum of 94 unique modules (“bytes”) 3D printed in ceramic bricks covered with white, translucent plastic. Peters and his team then put solar-powered LEDs in each of the bytes, snapping them together in a self-supporting, arched pavilion just big enough for a few people to huddle inside. 3DPrint.com got some detail on the fabrication process:
...he used a 6-axis robot arm located at the Robotic Fabrication Lab at Kent State. A hand welding extruder, called the Mini CS, was attached to the robot arm to serve as the 3D printhead, and it extrudes plastic material in a sort of FDM-style process. The technology, provided by Hapco Inc. and called BAK/DOHLE, is employed by universities, government agencies, and concerns like the University of Michigan, Oak Ridge Laboratory, the US Department of Energy, and the University of Tennessee.The pavilion debuted at Cleveland's Ingenuity Fest.
Cleveland's lakefront attractions and downtown have long been estranged neighbors, not easily accessed from one another without a car. The city and Cuyahoga County plan to fix that, offering a 900-foot bridge for pedestrians and bicycles that will hop over railroad tracks and The Shoreway, a lakefront highway built in the 1930s. The $25 million bridge takes off from the downtown Mall, touching down between the I.M. Pei–designed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Great Lakes Science Center, designed by Boston's E. Verner Johnson. Another Bostonian is heading up design duties for the new bridge. Miguel Rosales' firm Rosales Partners hatched three design schemes with the help of Parsons Brinckerhoff. The final design has not been selected, and regional officials say it will come down to community input. Construction is expected to begin May 2015, wrapping up by June 2016. But before that, public authorities are seeking comment from the bridge's eventual users by hosting a free public meeting from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 13, in the County Council chambers on the fourth floor of the county administration building, 2079 East Ninth Street, Cleveland. All the options are visually striking. Whether suspension, cable-stayed, or arched, the bone-white bridge wends through renderings made public last week, framing the Cleveland Browns' lakeside FirstEnergy Stadium. As the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Steven Litt wrote, the bridge fulfills a longtime goal of planners and urbanists in northeast Ohio:
Creating a bridge from the Mall to North Coast Harbor and lakefront attractions including the Rock Hall has been something of a holy grail in Cleveland city planning for nearly two decades. Yet until now, the city has been unable to mobilize support and fund the project. The city failed three times in recent years to win a federal grant for the project under the TIGER program, short for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery.But now, Litt wrote, the city and county each agreed to kick in $10 million, which led the state to close the $5 million gap. A 2013 city-county partnership and the news that Cleveland would host the next Republican National Convention apparently provided the incentive they needed to take on the project, which officials said will be complete by the convention in 2016. The three design options are as follows: The suspension bridge option: The cable-stayed option: The arch option: