Posts tagged with "Pei Cobb Freed":

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Pei Cobb Freed to bring 33-story tower to L.A.’s Koreatown

A previously-reported mixed-use project slated for Los Angeles’s Koreatown neighborhood has added storied architects Pei Cobb Freed & Partners to its project team. According to a Los Angeles Department of City Planning report, the so-called Wilshire Gate project aims to bring a 200-key hotel, 250 condominium units, 21,320 square feet of restaurant and retail spaces, and 16,410 square feet of offices to the transit-adjacent site located at the intersection of Vermont Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard. The project includes 279 residential parking spaces as well as 204 parking stalls set aside for the commercial and office uses. The project will also include 250 long-term bicycle storage lockers as well as 25 short-term bicycle storage spaces for a grand total of 275 bicycle stalls. The current iteration of the tower proposes more affordable units and fewer bicycle parking stalls than previous versions of the development. The project’s residential component includes 22 affordable housing units set aside for “very-low income” residents; these units will allow developer Jia Long USA to receive a density bonus on the project, which boosts the tower’s overall possible height to 450 feet. The project will include landscape architecture services from YKD as well as executive architectural services from Archeon Group. Renderings for the project depict a conventional glass curtain wall–clad tower-over-podium arrangement with a gridded organization of projecting balconies occupying a central area of the tower’s west-facing facade. Documentation for the project specifies aluminum composite panels and storefront systems for ground floor and podium-level areas, with PPG low-E glass wrapping the majority of the tower. The tower will contain seven parking levels above two retail floors, with the hotel program rising above. A hotel amenity level will be located on the eighth and ninth floors of the complex. The development’s residential units will be located along the upper half of the building, with the uppermost floors occupied by a pair of penthouse levels and a rooftop amenity terrace. The project site is currently occupied by a pair of commercial structures that will be demolished to make way for the new development. The project will also be located adjacent to the recently-proposed Korean American National Museum by Gruen Associates. The project is scheduled to begin construction later this year and is expected to be complete sometime in 2019. The project will be up for review by the Los Angeles City Planning Commission on November 9, 2017.
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Landmarks approves new building around historic movie palace

This week the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) cleared the way for the owner of a historic but dilapidated theater to build a new structure around the interior and replicate its historic features, leaving the aura—but little of the original—in place. The movie theater, RKO Keith’s, is one of the city's only surviving "atmospheric" theaters built in the early 20th century. Abandoned since the mid-1980s, the opulent Churrigueresque structure's interior was landmarked in 1984, though a series of owners did little over time to curtail extensive deterioration inside. Now, a new owner, Xinyuan Real Estate, has hired Pei Cobb Freed & Partners to transform the Flushing, Queens building into 16 stories of offices and apartments. (Last week AN contributor Edward Gunts covered the theater's history and the current development.)
At a Tuesday meeting, the LPC voted unanimously to re-authorize a previously issued Certificate of Appropriateness to build out Pei Cobb Freed's vision and undertake preservation work on the interior. Plans call for retail and an apartment lobby to be built around the 1928 theater's landmarked ticket lobby and grand foyer (the rest of the interior was initially landmarked, but its protections were removed by the Board of Estimate after an appeal by an owner). Significant architectural elements will be conserved, while those too damaged for conservation or missing will be replicated offsite and reinstalled in the theater. Those changes, the LPC said, will be reviewed and permitted at staff level. Pei Cobb Freed is collaborating with New York–based historic preservation firm AYON STUDIO on the project. During the meeting, AYON founding principal Angel Ayón explained how steel trusses will span the landmarked interiors on the east-west and north-south axes to preserve the cavity as construction on the new building gets underway. When the architects have a new envelope, the team will be able to reinstall the plaster, woodwork, and new curtains. Ayón likened the work on the decorative features to the preservation of Times Square's Lyric Theater, which underwent a similar process to remove and conserve ornamental plaster.

The LPC is working with the owner to make sure plaster gets put back in place. The two parties agreed to $10 million bond for storage and periodic inspection of the plaster, though the commission said those details still being hammered out. One major requirement of interior landmarks is that they remain open to the public. Patrick Waldo of preservation advocacy group Historic Districts Council (HDC), as well as Christabel Gough of the Society for the Architecture of the City, raised concerns about the accessibility of a space that fronts a future (private) apartment lobby. HDC "strongly" suggested the street entrance be re-examined to expose the interior more fully; at the very least, the group recommended strong wayfinding signage to alert the public to the presence of the landmark.

To the knowledge of those in the room, there hasn't been another instance where an interior was preserved but the building around it demolished. Echoing others, Commissioner Frederick Bland summed up the situation as "very strange." With much of the theater's ornamentation slated for replication, “This is one of the strangest, if not the strangest, situation I’ve seen as a commissioner,” he said. “At what point is a landmark lost?"

To get more insight into the theater's place in New York history, Gunts reached out to Anthony Robins, a former senior preservation specialist at the agency who wrote the original designation report, for more on RKO Keith's. Here's what he had to say:

The recent history of the RKO Keith’s—once a mainstay of Flushing—has been dismal. Designed by Thomas Lamb—perhaps New York’s most prolific theater designer—it was planned originally as a vaudeville theater, with movies more or less an afterthought. Lamb designed it as a so-called “atmospheric” theater, attempting to create the illusion that the theater’s customers were seated outside, under the stars, in a picturesque Spanish village. The Spanish-inspired ornament ran throughout the theater into all its major spaces. Located at the major intersection of Main Street and Northern Boulevard, the Keith’s became a very visible institution in the neighborhood.
By 1984, the Keith’s, still in use as a movie theater, was one of only three major “atmospheric” theaters surviving in New York City (the others being the Loew’s Paradise in the Bronx and the Valencia in Queens, both now official landmarks). The Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation of the Keith’s entire interior that year was cut back at the Board of Estimate to include just the grand foyer—apparently because a politically connected developer wanted to include the site in a proposed new shopping mall. That plan evaporated, as did the plans of a subsequent developer, but the Keith’s remained shuttered; for 30 years it has sat vacant, decaying and crumbling, its interiors long since vandalized, even as other grand movie palaces have been lovingly restored. Now comes the ultimate indignity of the proposed demolition of the theater shell, and the grand foyer’s disassembly and reconstruction, all by itself, as an odd relic of a vanished theater from another era. There can be no happy ending for this story.
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Historic Queens movie palace threatened with demolition

A 1928 vaudeville and movie palace in Queens by architect Thomas Lamb would be substantially demolished and replaced with a 269-unit residential tower designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, under a plan that New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) will consider Tuesday. RKO Keith’s Flushing Theater at 135-29 Northern Boulevard in Queens is the building that would be replaced by a residential tower. Along with the Valencia, in Jamaica, Queens, the RKO Keith’s appears to be one of two surviving "atmospheric" theaters of note still standing in New York in good condition, according to architectural historians. Originally seating 2,974 but closed since 1986, it featured marble staircases, an indoor fountain, gilded plasterwork and chandeliers in the auditorium, and a vaulted blue ceiling with lights that simulated stars. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The owner and developer of the Queens property is Xinyuan Real Estate, a Chinese firm that bought it last year for $66 million. Xinyuan is seeking to raze the bulk of the theater to make way for its project. The plan requires approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission because the city has designated part of theater an interior landmark, and that means it can’t be altered without approval from the preservation panel. The theater as a whole was landmarked in 1984, as the best one of only two surviving movie palace atmospheric theaters in New York City, based in large part on the preserved condition of its auditorium and the reversible nature of its division into a three-screen cinema. That designation was later amended by the city's Board of Estimates to remove the auditorium and the majority of the theater, leaving landmark protection for the ticket lobby, original ticket booth, grand foyer, ceilings, and fixtures and interior components of these areas. The LPC issued a permit in 2005, extended to late 2017, to demolish all but the designated sections. After the transfer of ownership in 2016, with a new architect attached, the LPC has an opportunity to review an expiring Commission decision from 2005, when Queens was not as vibrant as it is today, and when the city approved substantial demolition of an exceedingly rare New York-specific community-centered building type in order to spur residential development in the area. Xinyuan, based in Beijing, is the latest in a series of owners who have attempted to redevelop the property. The developer has proposed to temporarily remove and restore plasterwork and other ornamental features from the protected section of the theater, while work on the residential tower is underway. It would then reinstall the plaster pieces as part of the replacement structure. The reinstalled sections would presumably provide a reminder of the larger theater that previously occupied the site and help attract residents. According to documents on file with the city, the developer’s application is to re-authorize a Certificate of Appropriateness for the construction of a new building to enclose the interior landmark, and to “disassemble, restore off site, and reinstall salvaged ornamental plasterwork and woodwork and replicas.” Ayon Studio is listed in the application as coordinating the preservation-related aspects of the lobby rehabilitation. Drawings on file with the city indicate that the Pei Cobb Freed tower would be 16 stories tall and glass-clad. It would be H-shaped in plan, with walls and balconies facing Northern Boulevard and other streets at a slight angle. The ground level would contain commercial space, and underground parking would be provided for about 300 cars. The exterior would show no trace of the Thomas Lamb theater currently on the site. Atmospheric theaters closely followed the designs of planetariums and were first designed by Austrian-born theater architect John Eberson in 1923. The first was the now-demolished Majestic Theater in Houston (1923), where the auditorium ceiling simulated the night skies, with hidden machinery that projected "clouds" moving across the plaster ceiling, painted deep blue with star-like electric lights, with walls often built up in stages for the effect of garden follies. Reproduced around the country in a variety of architectural styles, these theaters recognizably featured an open, lit evening sky with stars and clouds, and walls built up, symmetrically, as stage sets suggesting a foreign setting. Eberson wrote that, "We visualize and dream a magnificent amphitheater, an Italian garden, a Persian Court, a Spanish patio, or a mystic Egyptian templeyard, all canopied by a soft moonlit sky." Although Eberson was the originator of this type, Lamb, already the most prolific movie palace architect, became well associated with this type of movie palace, especially in New York. A survey of the country's movie palaces cites 27 major New York examples. Seven of these were designed as "atmospherics" out of 34 listed from across the country: the RKO Keith's, the now-demolished Triboro in Astoria, Queens, the Valencia in Jamaica, Queens, the now-demolished Loew's 72nd Street (in Manhattan), Pitkin in Brownsville, Brooklyn (now retail), the Paradise in the Bronx (now a church), and the Brooklyn Paramount (now a school gymnasium). In its heyday, the RKO Keith’s attracted performers such as Judy Garland, Mae West, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, and the Marx Brothers. Xinyuan's application notes that precedents for temporary removal and installation of ornamental plasterwork include the Lyric, Apollo, Selwyn (also known as the American Airlines and the Roundabout), and Eltinge (also known as the Empire and AMC 25) theaters in Times Square. Other Xinyuan projects include The Oosten in Williamsburg and a 100-unit development in Hell’s Kitchen. JK Equities was the seller of the RKO Keith’s. The hearing on the theater is scheduled to start around 9:30 a.m. at 1 Centre Street, ninth floor.  If the project is approved, according to the application, the developers would remove the ornamental plasterwork and other protected material this spring and start tearing down the surrounding structure in the fall. Their schedule calls for construction of the residential tower to begin in the spring of 2018 and be complete by the spring of 2020. For more details on the hearing, see the LPC's web page here.
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Pei Cobb Freed & Partners breaks ground on renovation and addition to Yamasaki’s Century Plaza Hotel in L.A.

New York–based Pei Cobb Freed & Partners broke ground this month on a $2.5 billion development aimed at retrofitting and expanding the Minoru Yamasaki-designed Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles’s Century City business district. The project will convert the existing 16-story, 726-room hotel structure from 1966 into a luxury development with 394 high-end suites and 63 condominium residences. The elliptically-shaped hotel will be revamped by firms Gensler and Marmol Radziner, with the latter firm focusing on the historic restoration components of the project. The hotel has a rich history and was used as a stopover for visiting dignitaries during its heyday, including presidents Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan. The building was also the site of violently-quelled anti-Vietnam war protests in 1967. Pei Cobb Freed & Partners has designed a pair of 46-story, 600-foot tall Reuleaux triangle-shaped glass towers containing 290 luxury condominiums to flank the historic structure. Los Angeles—based architects Harley Ellis Devereaux are acting as Architect of Record for the residences contained within the glass-clad towers. The towers feature masonry-clad plinths at their base and are covered in repetitive, scalloped-edge balconies in deference to the Yamasaki-designed building’s distinctive facade. Rios Clementi Hale Studios (RCH Studios) is providing landscape design for the project; the firm aims to connect the new towers to the existing building via an elaborate series of landscaped shopping terraces. The shopping areas are designed to pull through the hotel’s interior from Avenue of the Stars, the major boulevard bounding the southern edge of the site. RCH Studios has laid the site out symmetrically around the center of the Yamasaki tower with wrap-around walkways and shaded areas connecting a proposed subway stop along the forthcoming Purple Line extension with the terraced areas at the feet of the towers. Plans for the redevelopment scheme were approved in 2013 as developers Next Century Associates—who originally wanted to demolish the 50-year old hotel—and preservationists clashed over the plans. The preservationists eventually won out when the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the hotel to its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places for that year, bringing a public spotlight to the project and causing the developers to change course. Construction for the project is expected to finish in 2019.
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Pei Cobb Freed & Partners add two towers to storied Century Plaza Hotel

The storied history of Los Angeles’s Century Plaza Hotel, the Minoru Yamasaki–designed stopover for presidents Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan and site of violently-quelled anti-Vietnam war protests, is finally gaining steam as the hotel’s $2.5 billion redevelopment moves toward a late summer groundbreaking. Plans for the redevelopment were approved in 2013 after a lengthy and controversial back and forth between developers, who wanted to demolish the 50-year-old hotel and replace it with a pair of 46-story Pei Cobb Freed & Partners–designed condo towers, and preservationists who wanted to see the landmark building saved. Preservationists won out in 2009, after Washington, D.C.–based National Trust for Historic Preservation announced that the hotel had been placed on their list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places for that year. In response, the developer tapped Marmol Radziner to preserve and renovate the hotel as part of the overall redevelopment of the 5.74 acre site. Pei Cobb Freed & Partners’ designs for the pair of Reuleaux triangle-shaped glass towers utilizes the space between them and the historic building to create an expansive public shopping courtyard that continues through the hotel’s lobby, connecting to foot traffic along Century City’s main thoroughfare, Avenue of the Stars. That street will host a new subway station when the forthcoming extension the Purple Line is completed in 2026. The site will also feature shopping areas and landscaped terraces designed by Rios Clementi Hale Studios along the perpendicular Constellation Boulevard. The towers themselves are wrapped in scalloped, glass-clad balconies, echoing Yamasaki’s designs for the Plaza Hotel, and will contain a total of 290 luxury condominiums. The existing structure, preserved as it may be, is to be thoroughly gutted from within, with the total number of rooms available dropping from 726 in the current building to 394 much larger suites in the remade structure; 63 condominium residences are also being incorporated into the designs.  The structure, to be listed as a City Historic-Cultural Monument, will feature 11,000 of the 94,000 square feet of overall retail and restaurant space in the development, while also retaining its existing 26,250 square foot ballroom. Gensler is acting as the executive architect for the project. An official construction timeline for the project has not been released.
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Letter to the Editor> Bosques of Boston’s Past

[ Editor's Note: The following is a reader-submitted response to a recent article, "Softening Boston’s City Hall." It appeared as a letter to the editor in a recent print edition, AN03_03.05.2014. Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com] With regard to the proposed landscape interventions in Boston’s City Hall Plaza: This welcome news brings to mind the Illustrative Site Plan prepared by our firm in 1961 (above) to accompany the Government Center Urban Renewal Plan. As our drawing shows, we envisioned the space between Tremont Street and the new City Hall not as a paved plaza but as a quiet lawn crossed by footpaths and populated by deciduous trees, in the tradition of a New England town green. As we imagined it, this was to be the last in a series of green spaces stretching from Commonwealth Avenue to the Public Garden to the Common to the Burial Ground and thence to Government Center. Had this concept been realized, the resulting open space might have been more inviting to casual use and less vulnerable to the charge of having promised a celebratory urbanity that it could not deliver. In any case, the current effort to bring the Plaza to life through strategically placed bosques of trees is commendable. Henry N. Cobb Pei Cobb Freed & Partners New York
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I. M. Pei’s Sunning Plaza in Hong Kong to be Demolished by End of 2013

In architecturally crowded Hong Kong, plazas are a rare breath of open air. The luxurious Causeway Bay district, whose retail rental rates surpassed New York City’s Fifth Avenue in 2012, is home to one of these sparse open spaces, Sunning Plaza. I.M. Pei’s 27-story edifice faces a large public courtyard, a hardscape relief within the densely built area devoted to commercial shops and restaurants. But, such a luxury is always in threat of expansion. Artinfo reported that developer Hysan will soon be converting the space into additional commercial stores and offices. Pei’s 1982 building is to be demolished by the end of this year and the plaza is going with it. 31 years ago, Sunning Plaza was Pei’s first structure built in Hong Kong. The mirrored glass office tower is still only one of his two architectural projects in the city. Although visitors often make use of the building’s public court, Causeway Bay is a high traffic shopping and business district. Hysan plans the new structure as a larger, mixed-use complex. Sunning Plaza will be demolished before the end of 2013. The entire redevelopment project is expected to be complete by 2018.
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Downtown LA Update: Streetcar Moving, Tower Trading, Stadium Stalling?

In recent weeks we've seen a number of important developments in Downtown Los Angeles, like the groundbreaking of the Arquitectonica-designed apartments on Grand Avenue, and the topping out of The Broad next door. The red-hot area continues to make headlines, from the advancement of its upcoming streetcar to the murkiness of its proposed football stadium. •The city's Downtown Streetcar, which last month received funding from a tax on downtown residents, has gotten more good news. According to Curbed LA, LA City Council on March 7 approved an operational plan committing up to $294 million of Measure R transportation tax money to cover the operation and maintenance of the system. The streetcar will travel in a loop along Broadway, Figueroa Street, and other main thoroughfares between the city's Civic Center to its Convention Center. •According to Yahoo Sports, anonymous sources in the NFL have said that AEG and Gensler's Downtown LA stadium (rendered at top) in South Park is looking less and less likely. "The numbers just don't work, no matter how you look at the deal," a "league source" told Yahoo. "It's either too hard for AEG to make money [and pay the debt on the stadium] or too hard for the team. I just can't see a way for it to work." Some have said that the NFL favors a new stadium in Chavez Ravine. Stay tuned. •The LA Times reports that Singapore developer Overseas Union Enterprise has agreed to buy the Pei Cobb Freed-designed, 72-story U.S. Bank Building, the tallest building in California. The developer will be buying the building from MPG Office Trust for $367.5 million. "Its cylindrical design is an inefficient layout for an office building," real estate analyst Jed Reagan of Green Street Advisors told the Times.
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Developer Gone Good? Century Plaza Towers Get Approval

Well, it happened. After years of strife over the project, the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved the $2 billion, 1.5 million square foot redevelopment of the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City. Back in 2009 the developer, Next Century Associates, threatened to tear down Minoru Yamasaki's curving midcentury Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel to make way for the project. But  a parade of preservationists, including the LA Conservancy and Diane Keaton, stood in their way. The result: a compromise in which the hotel would be preserved by Marmol Radziner and surrounded by two three-sided, 46-story residential towers by Pei Cobb Freed as well as a 100,000-square-foot retail plaza and over two acres of public open space by Rios Clementi Hale. The executive architect is Gensler. City Council certified the scheme's Environmental Impact Report and approved a 15-year development agreement. Let the construction begin on another major Los Angeles development. Momentum is building.
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CUNY’s Brick Paneled Back-to-Schoolhouse to Open at WTC

In a neighborhood of glass and steel, Fiterman Hall stands out. The new building, part of the CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community College downtown campus, is designed by Pei Cobb Freed and sits adjacent to the World Trade Center. The 17-story building is fronted in large prefabricated red-brick panels rhythmically relieved by square glass windows revealing multilevel interior atria. At a cost of $325 million, this is not your grandmother's little red schoolhouse. The vertical seams between the brick-faced precast panels betray the interlocking nature of classic red brick and the smooth prefab surface contrasts the tactile quality of hand laid masonry. Regardless, the panels certainly place Fiterman apart as an institutional structure amidst corporate America’s continued penchant for glass. Brick paneling is hardly new, but with prefabricated buildings making inroads, it’s hard not to view them as another form of value engineering requiring less union hands at the construction site. But David Sovinski, director of industry development for the International Masonry Institute (IMI), said that their membership doesn’t have a problem with the material. IMI is an alliance between the International Union of Bricklayers, Allied Craftworkers, and contractors who promote masonry construction. He noted that IMI union members are better trained to install the panels, as they are with most enclosure methods except glazing. Their main goal, regardless of the method, is to keep trained union hands on the site. “They get man hours off all kinds of construction,” said Sovinski. “You can always go to a factory in rural Pennsylvania for nonunion cheaper labor, but our training is more productive. If you use a trained craft person you don’t get callbacks to fix mistakes.” The completion of Fiterman Hall is probably one of the more high profile uses of the material in Manhattan, but with the Gotham West tower swiftly rising on Eleventh Avenue and 44th Street, it won’t be the largest. There, more than 1,200 apartments will stretch over almost an entire city block. Gotham’s 11th Avenue tower and midblock low-rise are already getting brick panels slapped on as fast as you can say "prefab." Once again, at Gotham, the panels appear smooth, uniform, and manufactured. “I prefer laid in place, I think it’s a better system,” admitted Sovinski. “When you see these fake solutions, it just looks poor.”
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The World’s Best Tall Buildings Combine Curves and Sustainability

On June 13th the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) announced their choices for this years best tall buildings in the world. The CTBUH, an international not-for-profit association, picked four regional winners, including the Absolute Towers in Mississuaga, Canada for the Americas; 1 Blight Street, Sydney for Asia and Australia; Palzzo Lombardia, Milan, representing Europe; and Doha Tower, Doha, Qatar for the Middle East and Africa. These four buildings were recognized for making “an extraordinary contribution to the advancement of tall buildings and the urban environment, and for achieving sustainably at the broadest level,” according to a statement from the CTBUH. Additionally, the Al Bahar tower in Abu Dhabi won the first ever Innovation Award for its high-tech computerized sunshade. Together, these projects represent a global renaissance in the development of tall buildings, highlighting innovations in high design, big engineering, and groundbreaking green technologies. According to CTBUH, a record number of buildings over 200 meters were completed last year, with 88 in 2011 compared to 32 in 2005. 2012 will prove to be the biggest year yet for tall buildings, with 96 set to be completed. CTBUH will name the “Best Tall Building Worldwide” at their Annual Awards Ceremony at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Crown Hall on October 18th. Absolute Towers – Missisuaga, Ontario, Canada Tower 1: 589 feet. Tower 2: 529 feet. MAD Architects of Beijing brought a new sensuality to this fast growing Toronto suburb with a pair of curving condominium towers. While contributing to a growing trend of high-profile sinuous skyscrapers, including New York by Gehry, Chicago’s Aqua Tower, and the Capital Gate by RMJM Dubai in Abu Dhabi, the two Absolute Towers go above and beyond their contemporaries as the entire buildings twist and turn to achieve their naturalistic forms. Dubbed the “Marilyn Monroe towers” by locals for their voluptuous designs, the two structures are wrapped in balconies around the entire facade. “The building is sculpture-like in its overall effect,” said lead architect Ma Yansong, “and its design expresses the universal language of audacity, sensuality, and romance.” 1 Bligh Street – Sydney, Australia 507 feet Designed by Ingenhoven Architects of Germany and Australian firm Architectus, One Bligh Street is the most sustainable office tower in Australia and the first Australian tower honored by the CTBUH. Located in Sydney’s central business district, the elliptical building contains Australia’s tallest naturally ventilated skylight atrium, which extends the entire height of the structure allowing sunlight to pour into the interior and adding a sense of openness throughout. Cementing its place as a sustainability leader, One Bligh features a basement sewage plant which recycles 90% of the building’s waste water, a double skin façade with automated external louvers that adjust according to the sun’s location, and uses hybrid gas and solar energy for temperature control. Palazzo Lombardia – Milan, Italy 529 feet In the first Italian tower honored by CTBUH, Pei Cobb Freed and Partners have combined sleek design, sustainable technology, and a variety of public spaces in this fashionable mixed-use government center fit for the style capital of Europe. Built as the seat for the regional government offices of the Lombardy region, the complex integrates a thin office tower flanked by  smaller 7- to 9-story curvilinear buildings that snake around its base. The shorter office “strands” house cultural, entertainment, and retail facilities and surround a series of interconnected public plazas and parks, the largest of which recalls Milan’s famous Galleria with its curved glass roof. The project makes use of its proximity to an underground river with geothermal heat pumps that cool and heat the buildings. Other ecological efforts include 7,000 square feet of green roofs, photovoltaic panels on the southern facade, and double-layer active climate walls containing rotating aluminum shading fins. Doha Tower – Doha, Qatar 780 feet Recalling his Torre Agbar in Barcelona, Jean Nouvel has constructed another interestingly-shaped tower, this time as an innovative and contextual landmark for the capital of Qatar. The Doha Tower is the first tall building to use reinforced concrete dia-grid columns in a cross shape, maximizing interior space by eliminating a central core. While its cylindrical, dome-topped shape is eye-catching enough, the tower really stands out for its complex, layered facade. Composed of a series of aluminum bris-soleils based on traditional Islamic geometric screens, or mashrabiyas, the building’s skin connects local vernacular designs to the extremely modern tower while providing shade for tenants and creating a rich exterior texture. Al Bahar Towers – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates 475 feet This pair of towers by Aedas Architects has been honored with the first-ever Innovation Award for their modern and technologically advanced take on the mashrabiya. While traditionally made of wood latticework, the sunscreen of the Al Bahar is made up of over 1,000 computerized umbrellas composed of Teflon-coated fiberglass mesh panes on triangular steel and aluminum frames. Powered by photovoltaic cells on the buildings’ roofs, these shades open and close as they respond to the sun, providing 80% shading and reducing solar gain by over 50% without resorting to visually impeding tinting. The scale of this highly dynamic skin has never been achieved before, demonstrating new levels of innovation within a contextual aesthetic framework.
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Slideshow> WTC Update: Compare and Contrast, Then and Now

It's been one year since we began walking the circumference of the World Trade Center site and taking photos of the progress. A lot can happen in a year. The city and state are in a tussle over the Memorial Museum  bringing construction there to a halt.  Larry Silverstein has threatened to cap Tower Three at at seven stories instead of 80 if he doesn't get a lead tenant by the end of the year.  Pat Foye, the new head of the Port Authority has called the PA's Trade Center focus a "mission drift" and ordered a special committee to audit the years overseen by his predecessor, Chris Ward.  And now The New York Post reports that the underground loading dock for One World Trade won't be completed by the time the first tenants move in. News from the last couple of months has been so bad that we thought we'd sift through some of our old photos to focus on the work that was completed over the past year.  And while One World Trade continues its march upward (it's nearing the 1,776 feet), other projects on or near the site are almost complete or are on schedule to be finished in the next couple of years. Brookfield's renovations of the World Financial Center have begun. Work at Fulton Street Transit Station by Grimshaw continues to chug forward. CUNY's Fiterman Hall by Pei Cobb Freed was recently capped.  And a new visitors center for the memorial opened on West Street.