Posts tagged with "Peter Walker & Partners":

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SOM design to replace Long Beach’s Late Modern civic center

It’s too late for Late Modernism in Long Beach after the city council voted unanimously to demolish the existing Long Beach Civic Center and replace it with a sleek modern design by SOM. The old civic center is a victim of both seismic and aesthetic concerns. Designed by Allied Architects, a consortium including local firms Gibbs & Gibbs, Architects; Homolka & Associates; Killingsworth, Brady & Associates, and Kenneth S. Wing and Associates, with landscape architect Peter Walker in 1973, the scheme includes a subterranean library (once was topped by a public green landscape until the roof began to leak) and a city hall tower. (For more on my defense of this “difficult landscape” see my piece over at Medium.) The Long Beach Post reports that the new project is a “public-private venture that will erect a newer, sleeker and earthquake-resilient compound.” The new design represents the end of a 10-year process to get approval to replace older structures and the beginning of an estimated seven-year construction plan. According to the Post, the project will cost the city approximately $14.71 million annually. The city will “lease the buildings from Plenary Edgemoor Civic Partners (PECP), the firm heading the design and construction of the project, before it takes ownership of it after 40 years.” SOM’s 22-acre Long Beach Civic Center Master Plan suggests a mixed-use district that includes a 270,000-square-foot City Hall, 93,500-square-foot Main Library, 232,000-square-foot Port Headquarters, and the redevelopment of Long Beach’s historic Lincoln Park. It also includes design guidelines for 800 residential units and 50,000 square feet of commercial development.
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Pershing Square Renew wants your input on Semi-Finalist Concept Boards

In October, Pershing Square Renew selected 10 teams as semi-finalists for the redesign of Downtown Los Angeles’ oft-maligned urban space. The international design competition drew hundreds of entries and the two-handfuls selected represent both local and global practices. Reviewing the initial presentation boards, there’s common interest in opening up Pershing Square to the surrounding urban blocks, a porosity currently lacking in Legoretta’s scheme. The teams’ approaches are split between active and passive landscapes with some concepts showing large lawns and water features meant for calm reflection and light recreation, others packed the square with programming: dog parks, cafes, yoga zones, performance venues, etc. Pershing Square Renew posed the concept boards on their website and are now asking the Los Angeles community to weigh in with comments for the jury. Soon, the organization will select four top teams out of the field of semi-finalists and have them each develop a more comprehensive final design. Until then, have a gander at the boards below.
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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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9/11 Memorial Plaza: How It Works

A decade after the 9/11 attacks, the public will soon be able to visit the site, much of which has been fully transformed into the 9/11 Memorial Plaza. While many were dispirited by the years of revisions to and deviations from the Libeskind master plan (which itself had many detractors), AN's recent visit to the plaza, crowded with workers laboring toward the anniversary opening, revealed a vast, contemplative space that we predict will function well as both a memorial and a public space. Next week AN will take a look at the design and offer a preview of the what the public can expect from the space, but, first, a look at how the highly engineered plaza works. With transit tunnels, mechanical systems, and much of the memorial museum located below the surface, the plaza itself could only be approximately six feet thick. Unlike the original World Trade Center Plaza, which many found to be barren and scorching or windswept, the Memorial Plaza is conceived of as an abstracted forest of Swamp White Oaks surrounding two monumental pools outlining the footprints of the original towers. Designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker Partners, with Aedas, the plaza will include approximately 400 trees, 215 of which will be in place for the opening. About one third of the plaza has yet to be constructed, while the Santiago Calatrava designed PATH station is being completed. Plaza plantings are arranged in bands, alternating between bands of pavers and bands of trees, grass, and ground cover. This creates both a unifying visual language for the large plaza and a highly rational system for organizing the mechanical and irrigation systems on the site. Between the planting bands, accessible utility corridors house electrical and security equipment. Drainage troughs divide the planting bands from the utility corridors. The whole plaza acts as a vast stormwater collection tray. The plaza is very carefully graded to channel stormwater into the drainage troughs. Rainwater is collected in cisterns below and recirculated in the plaza's drip irrigation system as well as funnelled into the memorial fountain. The trees grow in a lightweight mixture of sand, shale, and worm casings. Growing and installing the plaza's oaks has been a long process. Given the pace of slow construction, the trees, which have been cultivated at a nursery in New Jersey, are much larger now, most standing around 25 feet tall. Trees were hauled onto the site with cranes and then placed in the planting beds with a specially designed lift. Tree roots will spread laterally, filling in the planting bands, and designers believe they will eventually reach 60 to 80 feet in height. The roots are anchored with bracing under the stone pavers. While the PATH station is being completed, the remaining unfinished plaza is still an uncovered construction site, inaccessible to the public. According to Matthew Donham, a partner at Peter Walker, the construction of that portion of the plaza will be even thinner in depth. Aside from an expansion joint, there will be no visible difference between the two sides.
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Army of Nurturers: Creating Elder-Friendly Cities

A couple of weeks ago, AIA San Francisco wound up its annual "Architecture and the City" festival with a nice jolt of inspiration. In an event at SPUR, organized in conjunction with GOOD Magazine, designers presented solutions to real-world problems. All of the conundrums were interesting and meaty: The California Public Utilities Commission, for example, wants more people to install solar hot water (Civil Twilight's proposed marketing campaign included bright-yellow outdoor showers for surfers), and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority wants to get more people to take public transportation in bus-phobic Silicon Valley (Brute Labs suggested a new service based on the corporate shuttle model).  But the most poignant of all the problems was posed by retirement-home developer AgeSong: "To create a forgetfulness-friendly city and environment where many seniors in the early and more moderate stages of forgetfulness can live safely and happily." AgeSong was "matched" with a landscape designer, Sarah Kuehl, of renowned firm Peter Walker & Partners.  It proved to be an inspired fit; landscape designers, by dint of their work, are necessarily concerned with how their designs mature and age over time. Kuehl addressed the challenge by seeing it as an opportunity to fix multiple issues at once: 1.) that as a society, we don't value the aging process (of people, of things, or of plants), 2.) that our elderly are suffering from isolation because traveling by public transportation or by foot can be difficult, and 3.) that a lot of public landscapes are suffering because they don't get regular maintenance. So in addition to improving pedestrian connections to the surrounding neighborhood, shops, and services for AgeSong's retirement properties, Kuehl also proposed something more overarching. She envisions an elite force of "nurturers" that would be highly visible in the community: akin and complementary to the police force, but dedicated to caring rather than protecting and defending. They would be trained in helping the elderly and serving as crossing guards, but also in landscape maintenance. For this cadre of caretakers, she came up with this logo of an old tree that is being propped up and nurtured rather than chopped down (based on an actual tree in Japan). According to the US Census Bureau, 1 in 5 of us will be older than 65 in 2030. We may want to make more investments in making the public sphere more elder-friendly--not just in terms of physical accessibility, but in terms of social infrastructure.