Posts tagged with "Olin":

Placeholder Alt Text

Apple Park and Louvre Abu Dhabi have created their own operating systems inside designer circles

In the early 1980s, a new time travel-themed attraction was unveiled at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Like an oversized golf ball pelted straight from outer space to Orlando, Spaceship Earth is a fantastical fabrication. Its monolithic geodesic dome conceals two structures propped up by six steel legs, each driven some 160 feet into soft Floridian swampland below. Designed with the help of Ray Bradbury, Spaceship Earth continues to shuttle eager space tourists through an accelerated history of the world, where animatronic Neanderthals cozy up with ancient Greek charioteers and American astrophysicists under a swirling net of stars. In fifteen short minutes, the ride’s conveyor belt ascends through an abridged history of humanity that urges, after its namesake Buckminster Fuller, for a team effort to save our planet "Spaceship Earth." It culminates in a future utopia that today’s passengers can customize via interactive screens and troubleshoot the world’s woes together in a group exercise. Fast forwarding through a quarter-century of globalization and hyper-capitalist development, the $1.4 billion Jean Nouvel-designed Louvre Abu Dhabi and Apple’s $5 billion Silicon Valley campus by Foster + Partners have crafted a freakishly similar world of suspended disbelief and alter-reality. While they substitute the comparatively cheap thrill of Spaceship Earth’s 11,300 alucobond tiles with eight layers of steel and aluminum and some four miles of curved glass respectively, the Louvre Abu Dhabi and Apple Park are essentially designer circles. In their use of this sacred geometry, both projects become a sort of cosmic architecture, according to Craig Hodgetts, Principle of Hodgetts + Fung Architecture and Design. “Nouvel’s sky-dome and the Apple headquarters rely on geometrically pure forms as a way to consolidate and insure a singularly unified experience,” suggests Hodgetts. “An absolute form, uncompromised, uninflected, unadorned, and too large to comprehend will lend a God-like authority to nearly any enterprise, and these structures assert the primacy of their makers rather than the profane delights of simple existence.” Each “absolute form” depends on its God-like authority to extricate itself from its problematic social and political contexts–whether that’s occupying 175 acres of a California suburb currently suffering from one of the country’s worst housing shortages while refusing to engage with its urban planning efforts, or lodged inside a petrodollar-fueled arms race for global domination among oil-rich nations in the Gulf via Western cultural capital. Concealed beneath the all-consuming designs of Louvre’s bedazzled ceilings and Apple’s infinite rings of glass are both projects’ hidden, delirious desire to remove all context and weave their own origin stories–whether of mankind or Mackind. Such grandiose narratives necessitate some serious cultural capital. Take, for instance, the UAE’s $900 million “loan” of the Louvre’s brand and expertise for the next 30 years, an agreement signed into place in 2007 which also authorized the borrowing of hundreds of French artworks from the collections of the Musée d’Orsay, Centre Pompidou, and Château de Versailles. Shrouded in mystery, this wholesale purchase included the expertise of a French curatorial committee which has reportedly advised the Emiratis to acquire almost 250 works thus far in assembling its own cultural history of the world, a collection that includes the record-breaking $450 million Da Vinci painting, Salvator Mundi, sold to an anonymous bidder at Christie’s last November.   Meanwhile, back in February 2017, Apple rebranded its sober “Campus 2” to “Apple Park"–emphasizing the OLIN-designed gardenscape, home to some 9,000 drought-resistant trees alongside other indigenous and imported flora (including its own apple orchard) that fills over half the site. With its hermetic green haven, Apple’s new campus indulges in a Land Before Time fantasy of Silicon Valley’s pre-tech ecology, intending to mimic California’s natural greenery before it was settled. It is a private garden of paradise viewable by Apple employees from all angles in Godlike omniscience. “It’s not about maximizing the productivity of the office space, it’s about creating a symbolic center for this global company,” said Louise Mozingo, Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at U.C. Berkeley. “They are creating an icon.” Even without the figures–the only data most journalists have to work with until Apple lets down its impenetrable forcefield to visitors–it would be hard to make a case for the efficiency or efficacy of Ring’s 2.8-million square footprint. Built to house only 12,000 employees on its 175 acres, with nearly 11,000 commuting from outside Cupertino, the Park is a techno-utopian timewarp of California’s modernist-era abundance. The campus also steers clear of Cupertino’s current public transit and housing shortages (the Bay Area added a reported 640,000 jobs between 2010 and 2015 while 75.8% of houses sold in 2017 for over $800,000). Instead, Apple taps into both collegiate spirit and corporate modernism, fabricating its design from a mix of Stanford’s quadrangles and the factory-like floor plans of the corporate campuses of the 50s and 60s favored by Foster. Apple justifies its inefficient use of 100 acres (offering more parking space than office space) with an origin story that waxes poetic on Steve Jobs’ first summer job at the now-razed Hewlett Packard Campus, which stood on this site in 1976, fresh from a summer picking apples on a commune in Oregon. Apple’s manifest destiny-like design narrative highlights the Park’s out-of-touch attitude towards its own conquest of valuable land in Cupertino, which could otherwise be used for affordable housing. Catering only to its inner circle of Apple acolytes, its “Spaceship” colloquialism feels particularly appropriate. If these buildings are the result of resuscitated megastructure ideologies that superimpose their own fabricated mythology over contemporary geopolitics and ethics, what do their higher lifeforms look like? Childless, apparently, according to Apple Park. Despite a 100,000 square foot allowance for its fitness center, and 2-mile outdoor running track perfectly camouflaged from the roaring I-280 nearby, the workspace of the future miraculously lacks a daycare center for its 12,000 employees. The Louvre Abu Dhabi’s ideal visitor doesn’t need superhuman smarts or a perfect body: he just needs to love the aesthetics of luxurious shopping malls. Beneath its latticed dome of 7,800 stars, in rooms of exotic marble and leather floors, visitors filter through seemingly endless and unordered rows of captionless artworks. Together, they form a utopian reimagining of human civilization that “turns a blind eye to a long history of human equality and exploitation,” suggests Javier Pes of artnet. But even without fingerprints to trace, the stated mission and ethos of the world’s “first universal museum,” praised by French and Emirati governments alike, has as many holes as its star-studded ceiling. Intended as an “antidote to the poison of hatred and barbarism” of culture wars in the Middle East, according to Louvre President Jean-Luc Martin, its starry-eyed humanitarianism clashes with the mass human rights violations committed against the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s migrant workforce, according to Al Jazeera, quoting French Director Benedicte Jeannerson of Human Rights Watch. These world-structures manifest through the fantasy of a new world order that’s somehow eclipsed all conditions of crisis, operating on their own cultural capital of Instagrammability, as with the Louvre Abu Dhabi, or exclusivity, as with Apple Park, which still remains a highly coveted fortress-cum-tourist mecca over a year after its official press launch. The closest most of us will get to stepping inside the Jobs Mausoleum is a monthly subscription to new Youtube drone footage. But just as Apple Park’s designer landscaping and sprawling carpark can’t curb worldwide species extinction and rampant property inflation, the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s petrodollar-primed, marble-encrusted villages of culture can’t white-out the political turmoil surrounding the Gulf and the systemic abuse of its displaced workers. If today’s conditions of global crisis can be considered a type of manmade gravity, then these structures aspire to grow so large that they might break free from this condition or create their own operating systems altogether. While looking to the stars for inspiration is all but human, we must eventually lower our gaze to the real implications of these projects and bring the God complex framing their hermetic existence back down to Earth.
Placeholder Alt Text

New renderings revealed for Tribeca’s Pier 26 revamp

Construction on the $30 million renovation of Tribeca’s Pier 26 is slated to start up this summer, and the Hudson River Park Trust and landscape architects OLIN have released a new batch of renderings of the project’s final design. The Hudson River Park Trust went before Community Board 1’s Waterfront, Parks & Resiliency Committee last Tuesday and revealed their finalized design for transforming the 790-foot-long concrete pier. While OLIN had released glimpses of the pier’s programming before (including a playground with two enormous sturgeon-shaped jungle gyms for kids to climb), the latest design incorporates many of the features that the local community had hoped for. A gentle grass lawn and more wildly-planted “forest” area with indigenous trees will guide visitors from the western edge of Hudson River Park, towards the two child-sized soccer fields in the middle of the pier. The fields will be covered in a blue net to stop stray balls from flying into the Hudson River, and surfaced with a plastic grid capable of draining. Further west will be a lounge deck with steps adjacent to scrubby, dune-like landscaping. OLIN has designed a tiered tidal pool planted with native flora at the pier’s westernmost tip, as well as a wooden esplanade that zigzags across the length of the pier. The walkway will rise 15 feet in the air at the tip of Pier 26, giving guests a full view of both New Jersey across the river, as well as the tide pool below. OLIN will be using Kebony for the path, an engineered sustainable softwood. Planned for the space between Pier 26 and 25 is the Estuarium, a two-story, Rafael Viñoly Architects-designed education center. Only $10 million of the center’s required $50 million has been raised so far. While no start date has been set for the Estuarium’s construction, it could imperil the pier’s 2020 opening date; the site chosen for the sturgeon playground will be used a staging area during the education center’s construction (sorry, giant metal fish fans). Construction on the underside of the pier will run from this summer until next year, followed by the work on the structure's topside.
Placeholder Alt Text

L.A. chooses Handel Architects and Olin for Angels Landing development

Fans of the film 500 Days of Summer will fondly remember Angels Knoll, a peaceful sloped park overlooking the western edge of Downtown Los Angeles, just south of the Angels Flight funicular. That green sadly closed back in 2013, and yesterday, L.A. City Council voted to sell the 2.24 acre property, known in marketing speak as Angels Landing, and in legislative speak as Bunker Hill Parcel  Y-1, to developer Angels Landing Partners (ALP) for about $50 million. ALP, a partnership between MacFarlane Partners, the Peebles Corporation, and Claridge Properties, along with Handel Architects and Olin, beat out the other two finalists, including a more expressive scheme by Onni Group and Stanley Saitowitz, and another design by Angels Landing Development Partners (ALDP), led by developer Lowe Enterprises in collaboration with Cisneros Miramontes, Gensler, and Relm Studio. ALP and Handel Architects now plan to build a 1.27-million-square-foot mixed-use development at 361 South Hill Street that includes two towers connected via a shared podium. The 88- and 24-story towers would include residential, hotel, restaurant, and retail spaces, as well as a home for the Los Angeles Academy of Arts and Enterprise. The project would also include open spaces by Olin, including a 13,700-square-foot plaza and a 25,400-square-foot public terrace. Renderings of the taller tower reveal a tapered structure skinned in horizontal bands of glazing, with a second layer of varied vertical glazing. The shorter mass would be similarly clad, connected via a raised bridge. Their central plaza would step down to the corner of Hill and 4th Streets, covered in vegetation. ALS plans to spend about $1.2 billion on the complex. Of course, approvals still need to be obtained, but if all goes according to plan, construction is expected to be complete by 2024.
Placeholder Alt Text

Lower L.A. River revitalization plan finally revealed

Los Angeles is a vast, complicated place, and so is its 51-mile river. While the city’s Draft L.A. River Revitalization Master Plan, outlining a transformation of the river and the areas around it,  was launched back in 2007 (laid out by a team including Studio M-LA and Tetra Tech)  the many cities and towns south of the city have, ten years later, finally unveiled their own, set for the largely industrial 19-mile stretch between Vernon and Downtown Long Beach. The Lower Los Angeles River Working Group, a collection of officials, non-profits, and community members launched in 2015, has laid out improvements to the river that include vegetated terraces, access ramps, dams, public art, underground water retention systems and wetlands. They've also called for upgrades to almost 150 nearby properties, as well as parks, streetscapes, bridges, boardwalks, viewing platforms and pathways. To paint a picture of what could be, the working group, along with Tetra Tech and Perkins + Will, have laid out close to a dozen case studies. These include a plan for the Cudahy River Park, in the city of Cudahy, calling for new bridges, access ramps, levee terracing, and riverbank green space, as well as public art installed along the river bed itself and affordable housing rising alongside the new park. About eight miles south, the Compton Creek Confluence Area would include a new green terracing along the riverbanks, a new community center, picnic stations, and even water recreation thanks to a new rubber dam and stormwater treatment plant. Things are moving quickly on the 11-mile stretch of River between Downtown L.A. and Elysian Park: dozens of parks and trails have sprung up, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers preparing a $1 billion dollar revitalization, and AECOM wants to add 36,000 housing units.  But the south L.A. working group is still identifying funding for its endeavor, from local, state and federal sources. The group is also working to curb gentrification in these vulnerable neighborhoods, which accounts for, among several plans, the increase in affordable housing, rather than market rate proposals. The scheme, when finalized, will be incorporated into the overall Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan. Both will likely incorporate the wide-reaching approach being developed by Frank Gehry, Olin and Geosyntec on behalf of the non-profit L.A. River Revitalization Corp, or River LA.  It could be decades before the changes are completed, but if you look at the many small projects already completed further north, it's clear substantial progress could take place in the next couple of years.
Placeholder Alt Text

Design collaboration brings mass timber residence halls to the University of Arkansas

A national design collaboration led by Boston-based Leers Weinzapfel Associates and including Arkansas-based Modus Studio, St. Louis–based Mackey Mitchell Architects, and Philadelphia-based OLIN has created America’s first large-scale, mass timber interactive learning project, already under construction at the University of Arkansas. Working off of a “cabin the woods” concept, 708-bed Stadium Drive Residence Halls feature fully exposed, locally harvested wood structural elements. The residence halls are a pair of snaking buildings joined in a central plaza, and include classrooms, dining facilities, maker-spaces, performance spaces, administrative offices, and faculty housing. The five-story buildings, totaling 202,027 square feet, are clad in a zinc-colored paneling, while copper-toned panels are scattered along each floor that appear to float above the heavily planted backdrop. Inside, wooden columns, beams and cross-bracing are all displayed to present a sense of warmth, and to connect students with Arkansas’s local ecology. The halls terminate with large study rooms at the end of each floor, which light up at night and act as beacons for the rest of the campus. The panels were constructed from Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), while the structural columns and beams are made of glulam, where layers of wood all facing the same direction are laminated together under pressure. Each arched building curves around a courtyard or common park area and students enter the complex through a covered “front porch” at the northern building’s main entrance. The central gathering room that connects the hall’s two wings has been dubbed the “cabin,” and despite being relatively small, packs in a hearth, community kitchen, lounge spaces, and a planted green roof. Each hall also features a double-height ground floor lobby with floor-to-ceiling windows that allow uninterrupted views of the surrounding landscape. “The interwoven building and landscaped courtyards, terraces, and lawns; the beauty of timber structure and spaces; and the excitement of performing arts and workshop facilities will make this newest campus residential community a destination and a magnet,” said Andrea P. Leers, principal of Leers Weinzapfel Associates. Leers Weinzapfel is no stranger to working with timber, as its multidisciplinary design building for UMass Amherst wrapped up construction late last year. The project is expected to finish in 2019, and will anchor a new master plan for the University of Arkansas campus.
Placeholder Alt Text

Here’s Philadelphia’s ambitious plan to build a neighborhood over a railyard on the Schuylkill River

Cap and trade agreements are a standard tool in the climate change fight. Philadelphia, in collaboration with an urban design team led by SOM, is getting in on the game. Recently revised plans for the 30th Street Station and surrounding neighborhoods call for capping 70 acres of Amtrak and SEPTA-owned land, trading the underutilized space for a mixed-use neighborhood, parkland, and three pedestrian bridges across the Schuylkill River, linking University City with Logan Square and Center City. SOM partnered with Parsons Brinckerhoff, OLIN, and HR&A Advisors on the $5.25 million study. Through citizen input, the design team developed three iterations of the plan, all of which were presented and debated at a December 16th meeting, PlanPhilly reported. The study reviews land use over 175 acres, 88 of which are owned by Amtrak and SEPTA. The main project partners are Amtrak, Brandywine Realty Trust, Drexel University, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), and SEPTA, along with twelve other stakeholders. Once adopted, the plan will guide the area's development through 2040. In addition to the capping and bridges, all three plans propose doubling the size of Drexel Park, boardwalks, a river overlook, and a bus terminal. There will be two more public meetings on the plan in spring and summer 2016.
Placeholder Alt Text

Pier into the future: Tribeca’s Pier 26 to get an OLIN landscape and a Rafael Viñoly–designed science center

Citibank announced on Friday that it will donate $10 million t0 the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) for the renovation of Tribeca's Pier 26. For Citi, it's a sweet quid pro quo: the river pier is adjacent to Citi's soon-to-be global headquarters at 388–390 Greenwich Street. Philadelphia-based OLIN will lead the park's design team. Rafael Viñoly will work pro bono to design a research and science education center for the site. Pier 26 will expand programming for Hudson River Park's 17 million annual visitors. In 2008 and 2009, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation used HUD funds to rebuild the pier to support future development. When current construction is complete, pier will host the science center, free kayaking, and City Winery's sister restaurant, WXY-designed City Vineyard, opening in 2016. HRPT is also getting $10 million from the city for the project, and is applying to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation for additional support. Construction and completion dates have yet to be finalized. New Yorkers will be able to weigh in on "ideas for uses and programming at the new pier" at Community Board 1's meeting on October 19.
Placeholder Alt Text

Playful op-art beats out fifty shades of gray in competition to design new Los Angeles Convention Center

Call it a win for color. A bright-hued design for the renovation and expansion of the Los Angeles Convention Center by Populous and HMC Architects beat out the gray proposals by the other two finalists—Gensler and Lehrer Architects and AC Martin and LMN Architects—in a city-led competition. As previously reported by AN, the competition and design selection marks an important first step in the “Expansion and Futurization Project” led by the L.A. Department of Convention and Tourism Development and the Bureau of Engineering, which sees remaking the currently dowdy and cramped convention center as critical to attracting conventions, events, and investment to the area. A four-representative panel from the city’s tourism and engineering departments selected the winner. Each proposal was required to come in under a budget of $350 million. Populous and HMC Architects’ team includes landscape firm Olin and Chu + Gooding Architects. Per the brief, their design connects the South Hall and West Hall of the convention center with a structure over Pico Boulevard and expands the venue with more meeting rooms and a series of outdoor multi-use spaces, including a covered, but open-air performance venue overlooking a refurbished Gilbert Lindsay Plaza. Op-art supergraphics unite the scheme, with a tomato red and white stripe pattern appearing as paving, wall treatments, and architectural elements. It's a bold take on the conventional convention center approach, which for years was marked by interiority and overall blandness. Like the dazzle dazzle camouflage used on battleships, the move lessens the building's bulk while making it infinitely more exciting. The Populous/HMC proposal now goes to the City Council for approval.
Placeholder Alt Text

This abandoned rail corridor in Singapore will soon be a nationwide linear park, and these firms are competing to design it

Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has shortlisted five winning design firms for an RFP to overhaul the Singapore Rail Corridor. Defunct since 2011 and once a prominent Singapore–Malaysia trade route, the railway spans the entire country from north to south starting at the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station to the Woodlands Checkpoint. A competition launched by the URA requested proposals to transform the 15-mile stretch into a public greenway connecting four important urban nodes: Buona Vista, the Bukit Timah Railway Station area, former Bukit Timah Fire Station, and Kranji. The five shortlisted design teams are as follows:
  • West 8 and DP Architects
  • Grant Associates and MVRDV with Architects 61
  • Turenscape International and MKPL Architects
  • Nikken Sekkei with Tierra Design
  • OLIN Partnership and OMA Asia with DP Architects
“The expanse of the corridor running through the center of the entire country presents an unprecedented opportunity to develop a new typology of landscape with transformative effects for the country as a whole,” said Michael Kokora, partner at OMA, one of five shortlisted firms. “This is a project that has the potential to improve quality of life for generations to come.” To progress beyond Stage 2A, the selected firms will have to draw up a feasibility study and present preliminary designs for a 2.5-mile signature stretch designated as a “green gateway” to the Rail Corridor. The landscape architecture is a linchpin in the evaluation process, seeing as the brief calls for the conversion of the railway into a “leisure corridor for shared sports, arts and community activities” while leveraging the tropical environment. The URA launched the "Rail Corridor – An Inspired and Extraordinary Community Space" RFP in March 2015. Sixty-four design teams responded. Stage 2B will commence by the end of this year following a public exhibition held from October to November 2015 by the five shortlisted teams. After assimilating public feedback, the winning teams will work with the URA to refine the Concept Master Plan and Concept Designs to account for the provision of services and infrastructure such as cycling tracks, shelters, and toilets. Evaluation panel member Dr. Malone-Lee Lai Choo, Director for the Centre for Sustainable Asian Cities at the National University of Singapore and member of the Rail Corridor Partnership, said, “We were looking for schemes that are particularly strong in responding to the ecology of the site, that respect its natural qualities, while introducing sensitive design interventions to enhance them.” “They must demonstrate understanding and appreciation of the needs, sentiments and collective aspirations of users and residents. We would also want the Corridor to be an outstanding urban asset, and are therefore open to innovative concepts, particularly in and around the nodes; ideas that demonstrate freshness of approach and potentially exceptional design qualities that will enhance our urban landscape.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Comment> The Met Plaza redesign undermines the institution’s civic grandeur

In February of the year 2012, when the Metropolitan Museum of Art first announced the redesign of the City-owned Fifth Avenue-fronted plaza along its grand McKim, Mead & White Beaux-Arts facade, there was little opposition from preservationists. A $65 million underwriting pledge from museum trustee, David H. Koch, catalyzed the selected competitive plan from Philadelphia-based OLIN. It proceeded through the approval process with relative dispatch. Curiously when first unveiling the OLIN proposal, the Museum stated explicitly that despite Mr. Koch’s enlivening donation, the resulting plaza renovation would in fact not bear his name. Anonymity on top of benevolence spells charitable grace at its peak. Pretty much the sole impediment to this civic embellishment—so welcome against existing conditions of cracked sidewalks, failing hydraulics, deformed and dying trees, a long-neglected fountain, and meager old-fashioned exterior lighting—were the cries of what seemed at the time just another hopeless band of Luddites reflexively resistant to change of any sort. They included tree huggers acting as they did as if the jejune water-choked grove then there consisted of old growth sequoias instead of pooped out sycamores. More recent opposition came from those protesting the donor himself as they heatedly dissed his many such civic good works in the realms of culture, medicine and education as little more than candy-coated camouflage of his role as Citizen’s United election-stealing kingpin. In this way, focus shifted away from plaza’s design and impact on form and function to the symbolism of support, especially when in the end the David H. Koch name was indeed carved with gilded precision on the new fountain basins heralding all those approaching whether from north or south. More considered objection first came, however, from the testimony of the New York/Tri-State Chapter of DOCOMOMO given before the aesthetic overseers at the Landmarks Preservation Commission. They argued for the integrity of the plaza solution that was part of the original overall 1970 Kevin Roche Met master plan, which even forty years later is still generally in guiding force:
Roche’s declared design intention was to create an open urban plaza that defers to and displays the monumental Beaux-Arts façade of the museum. He wanted to distinguish the urban face …on Fifth Avenue from the park portions of the other three sides... (The Chapter) is hopeful that any modifications to the present plaza, to the extent that they are necessary, conform to the underlying principles of the Kevin Roche design-preserving an open urban plaza with unimpeded access to (his ingeniously three –sided) entrance stairway and unobstructed visibility of the stairs, adjacent facades and ground level entrances.
And with the results now plain, how right they were. With the exception of a masterwork of exterior nighttime illumination by Hervé Descottes and his L’Observatoire International that subtly responds to the architecture’s classical hierarchies and the replenishment of the subsoil, it is only now that the relative dignity of this earlier renovation is fully evident. Restoration of the restoration was a worthy option after all. Apologies are due them. Despite some working drawings from McKim, Mead, & White in which the option of flower and shrub beds appeared alongside the façade elevation, their final intent was clear with the dignified built encounter of limestone and pavers accentuated further by the pedestrian-scaled Roman grills that inform urban places of majesty and safe-keeping. OLIN’s decision to place such beds there seems a pallid suburbanization vying to extend the park setting instead of contrasting it. Imagine flowers alongside the Pantheon or its Renaissance-descended Palazzo Farnese? Meanwhile, the new fountains, while retaining a classical symmetry, end up compromising the pomp and circumstance of the Roche-thrusting and much expanded grand stairs with a tight perplexing proximity. The visitor today cannot help but wonder if it is some disguised stab at crowd control. And while their new placement was meant in part to make more legible the secondary street-grade entrance at 81st Street, the trade-off is untested and dubious; who can resist mounting those stairs? This is a classical threshold at its iconic best. The waterworks vary in height and rhythm in a mannered echo of WET Design’s signature creations yet at low height the sprouts seem more than a tinkle. The previous fountains recalled the classical rigor that informed so much of high Modernism. This was never meant as a playful place. Instead it was always meant for unencumbered dignity; all who enter should arrive as big shots knowing that they each held a key to this great repository of beauty and truth. Likewise the addition of dozens of trees even as now young and leafless obscures the architecture. What about in 20 years? It is hard to object to more trees in this warned up day and age but here is one place where the sum is less than the design parts. Finally and through no fault of either client or landscape architect there is a the all too frequent New York curse of visual pollution as arises in public places, where governing statures collide and, in turn, destroy the clarity of the guiding design blueprint. Here at the Met plaza, it is the curbside licensed food vendors. Ironically the spot-on instinct on the Museum’s part to include in its initial plan outdoor kiosks for such inevitable trade was denied by the oversight Landmarks and Public Design Commissions in convenient disregard for the ultimate reality of the streets. With the present redesign, Mr. Koch might well wish that for now at least his name not be its site label after all. He seems shortchanged as much as those he generously aims to benefit.
Placeholder Alt Text

Archtober Building of the Day #20A> The Metropolitan Museum of Art David H. Koch Plaza

Archtober Building of the Day #20 The Metropolitan Museum of Art David H. Koch Plaza 1000 5th Avenue OLIN Do you know the difference between hedging your trees and pollarding them? Thanks to the enlightenment provided by our tour guides from OLIN’s design team, Partner Dennis McGlade and Associate Scott Dismukes, those who attended yesterday's Archtober tour do now. The London Plane trees in the bosques adjacent to the ground level entrances at the Metropolitan Museum of Art will be pollarded—trimmed each winter to the same height.  The Little Leaf Lindens, which form the two flanking rows of sidewalk trees will pruned annually to form aerial hedges, thus distinguishing them from the fluffy naturals of Central Park. As a long-time resident of the Upper East Side neighborhood, I commend the Met, and its landscape architects at OLIN for creating a new welcoming public space—the newly opened David H. Koch Plaza—in place of the arid old pair of linear fountains that had occupied the front of the museum since 1970. (Roche Dinkeloo—they enlarged the steps, too, which we all agree are fantastic.)  Filled with great insights from schemes of the past, OLIN’s meticulously detailed design of Canadian Autumn brown granite, old fave Deer Isle granite, and Nordic Café in the fountain is a symphony of paving patterns, each with a functional designation. There’s even a rumble strip to foil the skateboarders. There are many things to like about the new fountains, too. My favorite feature is the drip edge, which makes it possible for dogs to sip from the fountain without arousing the ire of security guards. So too can plenty of toddling three year olds run their hands through the shiny sheeting water, unbeknownst to their nannies. A fountain for man and beast! Making trees thrive in granite takes a lot of subsurface infrastructure, and there is plenty of it hidden from view.  Enlarged tree pits, run-off control, underground tunnels, and retention basins make the expanse of granite an environmental asset.   It takes a long time to achieve the full effect—McGlade said it might take about fifteen years before the hedging of the trees makes them into the trapezoidal masses of the renderings. It will be fun to watch them grow, and I’m sure I’ll spend many a happy hour sitting with my dog, Glow, under the bright red parasols. Come back at night to see the magnificent new illumination designed by L’Observatoire.  It glows, too.
Cynthia Phifer Kracauer, AIA, is the Managing Director of the Center for Architecture and the festival director for Archtober:  Architecture and Design Month NYC.  She was previously a partner at Butler Rogers Baskett, and from 1989-2005 at Swanke Hayden Connell.  After graduating from Princeton (AB 1975, M.Arch 1979) she worked for Philip Johnson,  held faculty appointments at the University of Virginia, NJIT, and her alma mater. ckracauer@aiany.org 
Placeholder Alt Text

Pictorial> Shortlisted firms share their visions for San Francisco’s Presidio

As AN just reported, five teams have shared their plans for the new Presidio Parklands, a 13-acre recreational site lying between Crissy Field and the Presidio’s Main Post. The schemes follow on the heels of a the Presidio Trust's rejection last February of three teams' proposals for a nearby cultural center. The winner will be chosen this January. See below for slideshows of all the available renderings of the projects. The teams—invited to compete last March—took their proposals quite far in terms of detailing and strategy. Be sure to read more about the project here.

 Snøhetta, Arcs and Strands

OLIN, Your Gateway Park

CMG, The Observation Post

WEST8, PRESIDI-O

James Corner Field Operations, Presidio Point