Posts tagged with "OLIN":

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Laurie Olin Awarded Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture

Landscape architect and OLIN principal Laurie Olin has been awarded a 2013 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal for Architecture by the University of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello. The award recognizes leaders who exemplify the actions and goals that Thomas Jefferson, an architect himself, would have admired. The medal will be awarded to Olin on April 12, the day before Jefferson's birthday, and he will be delivering a lecture at the UVA School of Architecture. We assume he will be sporting a bow tie. “Laurie Olin is one of the most revered landscape architects of our time,” Kim Tanzer, UVA's architecture dean, told UVA Today. “He is an inspiring teacher, an extraordinarily talented and prolific designer, and an international thought leader in environmental design. From his drawings and writings to his built projects, he has set an amazing example for several generations of landscape architects. We are thrilled he will become the 2013 Thomas Jefferson Medalist in Architecture.” Past architecture winners have included Mies van der Rohe, I.M. Pei, Frank Gehry, and Maya Lin. The other two recipients this year were Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp and FBI director Robert S. Mueller III.
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Unveiled> SANAA Meanders Through What Could Have Been a Subdivision

Tokyo-based SANAA has unveiled its next U.S. project, a meandering structure called The River for the Grace Farms Foundation, a faith, arts, and social justice non-profit in New Canaan, CT. Situated on one acre of the 75-acre Grace Farms, the building is defined by its flowing roof that hovers ten feet above the landscape on slender metal posts. Interior spaces are formed by increasing the building's width and enclosing spaces in floor-to-ceiling glass, creating a seamless transition between interior spaces and a landscape designed by Philadelphia-based OLIN. The River descends from a sanctuary space for the Grace Community Church atop a hill and includes a library, meeting space, dining room, gymnasium, and children's spaces along its route. “Our goal with the River is to make the architecture become part of the landscape without drawing attention to itself, or even feeling like a building," said Kazuyo Sejima, principal at SANAA, in a statement. "We hope that those who are on the property will have a greater enjoyment of the beautiful environment and changing seasons through the spaces and experience created by the River.” On Monday, plans for the slender community and spiritual center were submitted to New Canaan’s Planning and Zoning commission for approval and is expected to make a decision by the end of the year. The landscape of meadows, wetlands, lakes, and woods at Grace Farms was preserved from development in 2008 when a 10-house subdivision was once proposed.
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DS+R and OLIN's "Granite Web" Fails to Ensnare Aberdeen

In a tightly contested decision, the City of Aberdeen, Scotland has decided not to move forward with a dramatic $222 million renovation of Union Terrace Gardens designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and OLIN. The 22 to 20 vote may have brushed aside the so-called "Granite Web," but it did retain the principals behind the design for whatever future plans are built on the site, including better pedestrian access, a revamped city council chambers, and a new art gallery. Council Lead Councilor Barney Crockett said the project "never won the whole-hearted acceptance of the people of Aberdeen." [Via World Architecture News.]

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National Building Museum Redefines "Green" Architecture

The National Building Museum's latest exhibit presents a new way to beat the summer heat—12 holes of mini-golf designed by prominent local architects, landscape architects, and developers. But if it’s windmills and castles you’re after, tee off elsewhere.  While the course is a challenge, it offers an intriguing (and very engaging) look at Washington’s architectural history and future. The first hole, Take Back the Streets!, is presented by the American Society of Landscape Architects and was designed by students of the Virginia Tech Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center. The team built a segment of streetscape with dedicated transit and bike lanes, and players must aim through pedestrians and stormwater management swales that function as traps. OLIN and STUDIOS Architecture created a hole based on their Canal Park project, set to open this fall near the Washington Navy Yard. Putters can aim up a ramp and through suspended cubes that mimic the development's pavilions, and if that proves too difficult, around PVC pipes representing trees to a separate hole. Ball on the Mall by E/L Studio forces players to navigate the iconic cartography of the National Mall. The design team used a CNC mill to map streets and cut grooves through which the golf ball travels. (You can blame l'Enfant for not making par on this one.) Slightly more abstract is Grizform Design's Hole in 1s and 0s, a representation of a smart phone's inner workings. Walls of the very three-dimensional hole are covered with lights and wires and ramps running down either side. Each forking ramp is made up of laminated laser-cut wood. Choose the right ramp and it's an easy hole-in-one, choose the other and you may spend some time chasing after your ball. (Or take a mulligan; we won't tell!) Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, biggest name of the lot, presents a pixelated topography of the Potomac and Anacostia basins titled Confluence. The team overlayed an image of Pierre l'Enfant's masterplan for Washington with a recent satellite image, extruding the pixels according to the density of development. Feel up to the challenge of navigating Washington with a golf club? Visit the National Building Museum anytime from now through September 3. A round of mini-golf is $5 per person, $3 with Museum ticket or membership. And don't forget to vote for your favorite design!
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KieranTimberlake Refines London's US Embassy Designs

The State Department’s Overseas Building Operations (OBO) released new renderings by KieranTimberlake of the United States Embassy to be located near London's Vauxhall neighborhood.  The project has acted as something of a petri dish for the development of OBO's Design Excellence program, which was modeled on a similar program at the much-beleaguered GSA. The London project has been watch closely by federally commissioned architects who must comply with design requirements that combine energy efficiency, sustainably, intense security, and high design. "They continue to use this project as a test case for sorting that stuff out and to continue to achieve really high levels of refinement and design excellence," concurred James Timberlake. In a forerunner of efficient practices espoused by the policy, OBO sold their Saarinen-designed building in swanky Grosvenor Square, which in turn paid for the new building on the up-and-coming south side of the Thames.  An OLIN-designed landscape incorporates anti-ram deterrents that the OBO guidelines officiously dub "Embassy Perimeter Improvement Concepts" or EPIC. "I wouldn’t call them barriers," said Timberlake, who noted that despite offset and security setback requirements, 40 percent of the compound remains accessible to pedestrian traffic. If anything, he said, many of the major refinements are through the building's engagement with landscape, including water management in ponds that collect runoff for irrigational reuse, as well as for security. Certain technological advancements have insured that the highly efficient envelope incorporating photovoltaic technology will indeed go forward largely as planned. The rooftops of three entrance pavilions will also hold photovoltaic panels. But it is the envelope that has gone through the most rigorous analysis. An open outer structure acts as an ETFE shading element with a fritted layer that includes photovoltaic patches measuring 6 by 12 inches.  Cast struts holds the cable stayed system apart from the glass box, bowing slightly at the midsection, giving the building a slight protrusion, like a proud, swollen chest.
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Three Winners Announced to Revamp National Mall

Following a design competition that dramatically reimagined the landscape of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the Trust for the National Mall has announced three winning teams to update various segments of the iconic public space. Union Square, near the foot of the Capitol, will be redesigned by Gustafson Guthrie Nichol and Davis Brody Bond, Constitution Gardens, near the Lincoln Memorial and reflecting pool, will be redone by Rogers Marvel Architects and Peter Walker & Partners, and the grounds surrounding the Washington Monument will be reimagined by OLIN and Weiss/Manfredi. One of the most heavily used public spaces in the country, the National Mall has seen considerable wear and tear, prompting, among other actions, the National Park Service to remove the biannual Solar Decathlon competition due to maintenance concerns. Each of the winning entries released ahead of a formal announcement by the Washington Post aims not only to restore a landscape able to handle millions of visitors a year, but also to add a new layer of design to the historic site, bringing it into the 21st century. The Trust for the National Mall, a non-profit partner with the National Park Service dedicated to restoring and improving the National Mall, shied away from the theatrical undulations of Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Hood Design and the twisting pavilions by Balmori and WorkAC, instead opting for the reflective and more subtle but no less ambitious proposals selected today. At Union Square, located at the foot of the U.S. Capitol opposite the Washington Monument, Gustafson Guthrie Nichol and Davis Brody Bond chose to extend the U.S. Botanic Garden on the southern edge of the site and the Congressional Youth Garden on the north to establish the park's edges. A large reflecting pool criss-crossed by walking paths and flanked by smaller pools around its edges can be partially drained, providing programmatic variety that allows for festivals and special events. Rogers Marvel Architects and Peter Walker & Associates proposed a restaurant pavilion cantilevered over the reflecting basin at Constitution Gardens. Now a source of drainage problems, the site is addressed by the winning design with an innovative water-management plan allowing water infiltration across the site and an aquatic shelf for filtration. The basin allows model boating in summer and ice skating in winter. Rogers Marvel was also selected recently to renovate the nearby Presidents Park at the White House. "We are very excited to have won the competition. Both Constitution Gardens and Presidents Park are very important public spaces in Washington. These competitions mark a time in the city for building on legacy," said Isabelle Moutaud, strategy director at Rogers Marvel Architects. "At Constitution Gardens, we were impressed with the clarity and optimism of the original modernist plan. Our design focused on extending that legacy, to bring renewed life to this exquisitely different site on the National Mall." Finally, the Sylvan Theater at the base of the Washington Monument has been reimagined as a terraced hillside that forms an amphitheater. OLIN and Weiss/Manfredi propose a pavilion with a delicately flowing green roof emerging from the landscape to the south of the monument. OLIN previously was involved in 2004 with a security upgrade to the site. Now that the three designs are in place, fundraising begins. Work to complete the Washington Monument grounds and Constitution Gardens, to be overseen by the Trust, is estimated to cost around $700 million, covering construction and future maintenance. The first groundbreaking could happen as early as 2014. The Architect of the Capitol will oversee changes to Union Square. Click on a thumbnail to view the slideshow.
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Redesigning the National Mall: Constitution Gardens

[Editor's Note: Following the unveiling of proposals to redesign the National Mall, AN will be running a three-part series to display the proposals for each of the three segments of the Mall: Constitution Gardens, Union Square, and the Washington Monument Grounds.] A 50-acre parcel of the National Mall, Constitution Gardens, lies just north of the Reflecting Pool and east of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Grade changes keep it somewhat hidden from the main stretch of the Mall, and many tourists (and locals) visit the monuments and Smithsonian museums without coming across it. The gardens' focal point is a small lake with an island that visitors can access by footbridge. The National Park Service has struggled with the site's poor soil conditions—the ground was dredged from the Potomac River back in the late 19th century—and with upkeep of the paths and other features. The National Mall Plan of 2010 calls for an "architecturally unique, multipurpose visitor facility, including food service, retail, and restrooms" to be developed at the east end of the lake, as well as a flexible performance space. Andropogon + Bohlin Cywinski Jackson propose a "resilient park landscape...sustained by biologically enhanced soils." Their design includes a Magnolia Bog in part of the current lake area and different edges for the lake (lakeside promenade, wetlands boardwalk, rock outcropping). The team envisions a marketplace along Constitution Avenue. The concept submitted by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architect + Paul Murdoch Architects features a cafe built into the parkland near Constitution Avenue, the ground seemingly tilting up to form its green roof. This scheme also proposes boardwalks, performance seating, and biodiverse plantings. In OLIN + Weiss/Manfredi's plan, distinctive braided pathways curve around and over the water. Interlaced pavilions would house a cafe and a more formal restaurant, as well as a gift shop. Spectators at the outdoor amphitheater would be entertained by performers on a floating barge. Rogers Marvel Architects + Peter Walker and Partners call for a large restaurant/pavilion to face a reflecting basin that would allow ice skating in the winter and model boating in the summer. Paths would be widened and, at the lakeshore, bordered by an aquatic shelf for filtration; connections with other parts of the Mall would be improved. Click on a thumbnail to launch the slideshow. All images courtesy respective firms.
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Hollywood Freeway Park Gains Allies in High Places

LA’s proposed 44-acre Hollywood Central Park, which would be set atop the capped 101 Freeway between Santa Monica and Hollywood boulevards, made new friends in Washington last week, according to the LA Daily News. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood met with local congressman Adam Schiff and Friends of the Hollywood Central Park (FHCP), a non-profit formed in 2008 to raise funds for the park. LaHood expressed interest in the project, and provided insights on its development and possible benefits. He also offered to have members of his staff contribute to its planning process. As noted in the FHCP website, the park would be built on a deck constructed over the below grade portion of the freeway in that area, allowing easy park access from adjacent streets. FHCP stated that the “44-acre street level urban park allows us to rethink and reimagine our physical environment," adding that the final design would incorporate ideas developed by students at the USC School of Architecture's Master Landscape Studio. AECOM and The Olin Studio have also completed studies for the project. Park features would include “an amphitheater, walking trails, a dog park, a children’s playground, water features, recreational facilities and much more.” The AECOM feasibility study estimates the cost of building the park at $949 million; a more recent cost estimate by Psomas Engineering puts the total development cost closer to $1.15 billion. It's among several freeway cap parks proposed in the city. While $2 million in funding for the park’s EIR was approved by the CRA/LA Board in December 2011, the recent banishment of California's redevelopment agencies puts the funding in question. FHCP board members are working to resolve the issue and say they are moving forward with development. Once the EIR is completed, the feasibility report estimates that the park would take four years to complete.
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Laurie Olin Ties it Up

In an amusing aside, landscape architect Laurie Olin discussed his bow ties on the firm's blog today. Olin briefly described the style of landscape architects. "Well, there are probably as many styles of dress for landscape architects as there are regions of the world for them to practice in," he said. And he argued that there is a time and a place for the bow tie. "There are of course clients for whom you wear blue jeans, and events where that’s completely inappropriate." Ties in general, he added, are one of the last frontiers in attire for masculine elan. "I think that because there are so few details in men’s clothing and so little ornament, that ties have become uniquely important. It’s one of the last gasps of flair and color for men. Humans respond to color, and it signals various things. It signals that, 'I’m a wild and crazy guy' or 'I’m alive' or 'I’m sensible.'"
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DS+R and OLIN To Spin Granite Web In Aberdeen

Yesterday voters in Aberdeen, Scotland narrowly approved a plan to transform Union Terrace Gardens in the heart of the city into an ambitious hybrid park and cultural center designed by Diller, Scofidio + Renfro with OLIN, according to The Scotsman. The project is estimated to cost £140 million, though Sir Ian Wood, an oil services tycoon, has pledged £50 million toward the project. Aberdeen is known as the Granite City, and the design creates a new series of granite pathways criss-crossing over the sloping site, dividing it into different programmatic zones, including an amphitheater, exhibition hall, and a number of gardens.
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A Garden for Pondering in Philadelphia

OLIN has completed a renovation of the gardens at Philadelphia's Rodin Museum, which houses the largest collection of Auguste Rodin's sculptures and objects outside of Paris. The renovation is a piece of a larger refurbishment of Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which is also being overseen by OLIN, as a part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Master Plan.  The renovation restores the symmetry of the gardens, originally designed by architects Paul Cret and Jacques Gréber. The Robin space is a formal French garden within the more picturesque landscape of the Parkway. The landscape architects edited the plantings to increase the visual connection to the Parkway and added plants that would emphasize the "seasonality" of the garden, according to a statement from the firm. OLIN is also adding new outdoor furniture and lighting. Sculpture will be returned to the garden and the exterior of the building, including Eve and The Age of Bronze, which will be placed in niches on the facade. Adam and The Shade will also be placed in the garden, joining The Thinker, which currently sits at just beyond the gates at the Parkway entrance.  
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Strike Two? Not So Fast

First Laurie Olin, now Frank Gehry. That was the news earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal reported that the Santa Monica-based architect had laid off "more than two dozen" staffers involved with Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project. What followed was a string of cheers predicting the troubled Brooklyn mega-development's demise. After all, how could it go on without its signature architect? While considering this question, I kept thinking of a comment made by Kermit Baker yesterday, during an interview about the abysmal November billings index. Given what's going on elsewhere in the industry, the termination of a handful of architects may not signal the doomsday scenario the project's critics would like, and instead may be one more credit-related payroll pause like many others around the nation:
What we're seeing, as a result of the credit freeze, is a lot of projects, even a lot of good projects, being put on hold. Once the credit markets begin to unfreeze, though, a lot of this work will come back. You know, "Okay. We got our financing back in place, why don't you get back to work on this." It's very disconcerting because these sudden seizures can be very unexpected. It's hard to own and manage and know how to cope.
Hence the layoffs, largely unforeseen, plaguing firms nationwide, a problem we've noted before. Though Baker was not speaking specifically to the Gehry/Atlantic Yards layoffs, he said he was seeing the same sort of "payroll activity" at many of the dozens of firms he surveys to put together the billings index. The upshot to all the bad news, Baker said, is that it is possible that, as credit becomes available again, a number of projects could come back online:
There are some projects that do make sense in this economy. Obviously, the list of ones that don't make sense has gotten longer and the list of projects that do make sense has gotten shorter. But there was a time when even those projects could not get financing. I expect that to change at some point, hopefully in the near future.
And while financing could very well turn around for the project, as Baker speculates, the Observer is not so sure it will. Furthermore, the Daily News reports today that Gehry and Ratner may not be on the best of terms, as the architect has not been paid for what the paper reports are still unfinished Phase One designs. Still, the point is that, while the layoffs could be another possible death knell for Atlantic Yards, they could also simply be the economizing of one of many architects in dire straits at the moment. As for Gehry's office not returning phone calls--something the Daily News and others see as a sign that the project is faltering--don't read too much into that, either. The firm is notoriously press averse, even on the most laudatory pieces, almost never returning phone calls.