Posts tagged with "Phoenix":

Placeholder Alt Text

DLR Group converts a former Phoenix jail into sunny offices

DLR Group is currently at work repurposing an existing 1980s-era county jail in Phoenix, Arizona, as a new, state-of-the-art office space owned by Maricopa County. The now-decommissioned jail was originally designed to hold 700 inmates, but its population eventually swelled, incarcerating between 1,200 and 1,500 individuals at a time over the last decade of its life. The jail was decommissioned in the early 2000s and has sat vacant for a decade. After DLR Group’s planned renovations, however, the complex will have new life, and will house six levels of daylit office space and ground-floor community areas.

“The basic approach was to remove everything back to the superstructure and start over,” Larry Smith, principal in charge of DLR Group’s southwest division, said. Smith explained that the 350,000-square-foot structure will be surgically altered in order to absorb the new office functions.

Planned changes include completely removing the structure’s four mezzanine levels and replacing its exit stairs. The existing stairs are located awkwardly within each of the four square-shaped lobes of the complex, impeding open floor plan configurations. They will be demolished and their footprints filled, with new exit stairs to be located at each corner, beyond the existing building envelope, instead. These new glass-clad circulation cores will complement a new communicating stair at the center of the complex that will be topped by a solar light monitor designed to bring light into the building’s center.

The removal of the mezzanines will lower the overall size of the project to 270,000 square feet and raise floor-to-floor heights to roughly 16 feet. The arrangement allows designers to add a raised floor plenum housing ducts, telecommunications, and electrical and plumbing infrastructure to each level. Also as a result, the old cell windows—a thin, horizontal band of glass set in from the exterior facade—now act as ribbon windows that will wash interior surfaces with reflected sunlight. Closer to the floor, a second continuous band of windows measuring 32 inches tall will wrap the perimeter of every level. Along the southern facade, this ribbon window is wrapped by a louver assembly made from aluminum plates. New planted terraces will rise through the structure’s perimeter.

Along the ground floor, new entry lobbies will embrace surrounding street life and create a “changing entry procession from the new entry on the street to the lobby and then security zone” for new users, Megan Duffy, senior interior designer at DLR Group, said. The complex will feature community rooms on these levels as well as a large planted plaza along the street.

Demolition phase for the project starts this fall; DLR Group expects to finish construction at the end of 2019.

Placeholder Alt Text

Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture gifted a new Wright-designed home in Phoenix

The David and Gladys Wright House in Phoenix, Arizona, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (whose 150th would-be birthday was last week), has been donated to the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. The house led a charmed life up until recently. Designed in 1952 by Wright for his son David, the 2,500-square-foot, mostly concrete house had come into the ownership of developers who wanted to bulldoze it and replace it with more profitable housing. News of this intention saw preservationists spring into action, but the standard procedures were scuppered as in Arizona, where private property laws hold strong, landmarking only saves a building for three years. On October 12, 2012, Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times explained the other, costlier method of saving the house: "The other prong of attack is to find some preservation-minded angel with deep pockets who will buy it from the developer. Preferably today." Cue Zach Rawlings. A custom homebuilding entrepreneur, Rawlings fell in love with architecture after exploring it across the country with his mother. As a young boy, he even caught a glimpse of the David and Gladys Wright house when he peered over the wall. Little did he know he would later save it. During his research, Rawlings came across architects John Lautner and Wallace Cunningham, both graduates of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin, in Wisconsin. Cunningham went on to work with Rawlings. "The first chance I got to call and hire architects while building homes, I called Wallace Cunningham," the developer said. Then one evening over dinner, Cunningham informed Rawlings about an Act of Demolition permit that had been filed for the David and Gladys Wright home. "I finished the dinner, got on the phone with my mom and told her I was flying to Phoenix in the morning,” said Rawlings, reacting to the news. "I asked her to please call the broker of the home and schedule a tour as soon as possible." Twenty-four hours after Cunningham and Rawlings had sat down, Frank Lloyd Wright's work had been saved from the wrecking ball. After that dramatic episode, Rawlings went on to meet Aaron Betsky, dean of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin in 2015. Over more food (this time lunch), Rawlings became inspired by Betsky's ambitions for the school, and the pair discussed the possibility of faculty members living there. Now the house will be donated to a fund under the Arizona Community Foundation for the sole benefit of the School.

"It’s transformative for the school and a fantastic opportunity," Betsky told The Architect's Newspaper. "One of the things that sets our school apart is living and working in Frank Lloyd Wright's built works—this addition only enhances that experience and lets us build on Wright’s legacy."

Betsky also acknowledged that "without doubt," some work has to be done on the house before educational programming can start there. A structural analysis has been carried out, though repairs to cantilevers and fixing leaks and touching up areas of corrosion also need to take place. Phoenix-based architect Victor Sidy is working on the building, as is landscape architect Chris Winters.

Arizonan architect Eddie Jones, principal at Jones Studio, will be teaching at the design studio specifically launched for the David and Gladys House. The studio will begin this fall and students will engage in the building and its six-acre site's renovation. (Originally, when Rawlings first purchased the house, it only came with a two-and-a-half–acre lot. Rawlings then bought adjacent lots to try and restore its original acreage.)

"This is all about the house becoming a place that can help students understand the relationship between the landscape and the built environment," remarked Betsky. He estimated that renovation work could take two-three years but admitted this was "optimistic." "We do not want to interrupt the [design] work going on inside," he said. Once restored there will be limited tours, and the house will be open to the public.

Placeholder Alt Text

New models emerge in multifamily NZE buildings in Arizona

For years, builders across the western and southwestern regions have been moving in piecemeal efforts toward developing Net-Zero Energy (NZE) housing models for mass production, as new regulations envision the near-future proliferation of NZE building types, and energy-conscious consumers begin to ask for these structures as well. NZE buildings—a widely and variously defined concept—generally produce as much energy as they consume over the course of a year. They aim to reduce overall energy consumption while also generating renewable energy on site.

Builders have discovered that the best way to standardize NZE building methods is to lower overall building energy consumption first, and only then tackle costly additions like green technology. That means increasing insulation values within building walls while also tightening the exterior envelope. It is also important to place mechanical equipment within conditioned spaces and to program interior spaces with an eye toward solar exposure. After energy-efficient appliances are specified and a building energy analysis is conducted, designers move to size energy systems appropriately for the remaining energy loads. This tactic generates tight, efficient buildings that require smaller and cheaper solar panel installations. Because many of the building-related approaches—like constructing walls out of larger two-by-six-foot studs to create a wider insulation cavity—are easy to do and do not require builders to learn new skills, these approaches have brought down the potential cost of NZE buildings substantially.

Using the above strategies, builders like Phoenix, Arizona–based MODUS Development are helping to bring NZE residential buildings into the mainstream even further by developing NZE buildings with contemporary massing and detailing at both single- and multifamily scales.

Ed Gorman, founder and president of MODUS, has been hard at work streamlining and modernizing existing NZE housing models in an effort to stay ahead of California’s plan to have all single and most multifamily residential construction be NZE-equivalent by 2020. When the change comes, MODUS will be ready. Gorman expects the housing market to move toward the wide adoption of NZE homes either way.

MODUS has completed work on several NZE developments across California and Arizona so far—most recently, a 41-unit development called Equinox in Scottsdale, Arizona. The project—the first NZE apartment complex in Arizona—is organized around a central courtyard, and the one- and two-story units feature deeply recessed balconies and loggia spaces. Gorman explained: “The balconies serve as a heat sink” to facilitate passive ventilation, and the structures “create shade directly from the architecture, the way a modernist building would, instead of as an applied afterthought.” The project came in at the same cost as a non-NZE construction and is fully occupied. The firm’s portfolio for the year includes three new NZE developments: two 20-townhome developments in Scottsdale and a 32-unit multifamily development in Tempe, Arizona.

For Gorman, the NZE strategy is a no-brainer. “Highly efficient buildings have higher tenant retention, often sell for as much if not more, and cost less to build than traditional buildings,” he said. “If you can make it work in the desert of Arizona, you can make it do anywhere.” The future of building in Arizona and California, it seems, is heading toward Net-Zero. 

Placeholder Alt Text

Urban farming in suburban Phoenix becomes the basis for an entire community hub

While urban farming has become a great catchphrase, it has yet to take hold in a significant way in most American cities and suburbs. However, an excellent model for its progression is DSGN AGNC’s Spaces Of Opportunity, an 18-acre site in South Phoenix, Arizona, that is much more than just a place for growing: It’s also a community hub, an art center, and a music venue.

“The idea is that farming here is an excuse to bring services to this area,” said DSGN AGNC principal and founder Quilian Riano. “A way to bring economic opportunity.”

The semi-suburban area is home primarily to low- and middle-income Latino and African American populations. It’s also the site of a food desert, meaning that fresh food is very difficult to find. “There are more liquor stores than grocery stores here,” noted Riano.

DSGN AGNC’s master plan for the project, undertaken with the Desert Botanical Garden and a consortium of local nonprofits, called Cultivate South Phoenix, lays out segmented plots for community gardens and incubator farms. Master farmers will teach apprentices agrarian skills, helping them progress so they can get their own plots to work. Spaces in between the plots will be lined by rows of flowering fruit trees. The spaces along the edges of these plots will take on myriad uses, including washing and cleaning stations housed in repurposed shipping containers; compost and animal areas; a 500-person, colorful corrugated-metal and solar-panel-topped stage; playgrounds; an outdoor gym; and walls for art.

Work on the project is already underway, and Riano said he hopes it will be fully up and running by this coming summer or fall. Its creation involves an iterative process that Riano calls “design, wait, build.” In other words, the firm comes up with a plan, but then the community inevitably changes it to better meet their needs, and then the designers scramble to catch up with an adjusted plan.

“The community already moved faster than my previous design,” said Riano, referring to his early efforts to start growing on the site. “I had to rethink completely. The design is constantly re-questioned, rethought, and reworked.”

He hopes the project—both its content and its development—will become a model for future urban farms and for urban development in general. Incorporating so many types of uses has helped not only with interest, but also with fundraising. Already money has come in from local philanthropists and education and arts foundations.

“It’s a design that is very flexible and very participatory,” said Riano. “We’re using every angle.” The team also plans to coordinate with local schools, churches, and businesses to maximize participation and support.

Like many of DSGN AGNC’s initiative across the country, the project is also filled with learning lessons, like how to farm, how to build, and how to bring residents, designers, nonprofits, and city officials together. The firm’s other highly collaborative projects include Under El-Space Pilot, a pop-up park under the Gowanus Expressway in Queens; INPLACE, a community plan designed to bring urban art and design projects to Youngstown, Ohio; and La Casita Verde, a flexible community garden built on the site of a derelict lot in Brooklyn.

“It’s not just about building, but about rethinking the design process,” said Riano, of his diverse body of work. “Everybody learns, including me.”

This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect’s Newspaper’s coverage of your city and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.

Placeholder Alt Text

A self-shading protective skin for the desert

facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
The Sandra Day O'Connor Law School, at Arizona State University (ASU), is a new six-story, 260,000-square-foot state-of-the-art law school, designed by New York-based Ennead Architects in collaboration with Jones Studio. The architecture of the building is inspired by the school’s progressive legal scholarship and outreach to the community through services like a public interest law clinic and the nation’s first not-for-profit teaching law firm. Ennead Architects say the Phoenix-based school is designed to act as an institutional agent of change dedicated to educating students and citizens on the importance of the law in shaping civil society.
  • Facade Manufacturer Kovach
  • Architects Ennead Architects; Jones Studio (Local Architect)
  • Facade Installer DPR Construction (construction manager)
  • Facade Consultants Buro Happold Engineering (Strutural, MEP/FP, Lighting Design, Sustainability)
  • Location Phoenix, Arizona
  • Date of Completion 2016
  • System unitized prefabricated panels on steel frame construction
  • Products Kovach (unitized facade and storefronts); GKD (fall protection and media mesh); Cornerstone (Arizona sandstone); Fabri-Tech Structures (Courtyard sails); Performance Solutions (retractable seating system); Barrett-Homes (Hunter Douglas Ceilings & ACGI); ISEC (custom millwork)
In response to this initiative, the building design encourages vibrant connections between ASU, the College of Law, and the local downtown Phoenix community. A north-south “slice” through the courtyard massing creates an inviting and active public space with a pedestrian pathway that brings individuals directly into the central core of the law school, exposing them to the main lobby and three double-height spaces located at the heart of the building. Here, an expansive bi-folding glass door at the front of the school's Great Hall blurs the line between indoor and outdoor space, providing flexibility while offering a unique civic space to the downtown Phoenix community. Brian Masuda, associate partner at Ennead Architects, said this massing strategy paired environmental responsiveness with the desire to expose the core functions of the building to the public. The courtyard allows views into the building while self-shading large glazed areas of the facade. Sustainability was a key design driver throughout the process. A "hard-shell," which the design team considered a "protective skin" that performs as a shading device, wraps all of the exterior surfaces of the building. Ennead collaborated with Buro Happold to develop an articulated facade of Arizona sandstone with aluminum and glass windows. Masuda said internal programming and solar orientation prompted undulation in the window openings of the facade: "The aesthetic was driven by the program and environmental analysis. We wanted to make the stone facade modulate and calibrate in a way that when the windows got wider, fin elements got deeper." The facade is unitized and factory assembled, both to assure quality and to achieve a higher standard of thermal performance. The decision to work with a unitized system also helped with an aggressive one-year design and documentation schedule, said Masuda: "A unitized prefab facade system came into play because of the efficiency of the construction." Heavily insulated walls and roof also contribute to the efficiency of the shell. Mechanically, the building incorporates energy-efficient technologies, including chilled beams and under-floor displacement cooling. The project team said that because of the integration of these passive systems, they relied more heavily on the performance of the building envelope. "Hot spots" discovered through energy modeling were managed by the fine tuning of glazing types, the specification of high solar heat gain coefficients, and fritting in specific areas of the facade. The building is expected to reduce energy consumption by 37% compared to a baseline building, per ASHRAE 90.1-2007. Desert-adaptive planting and water features activate the landscape, helping to minimize on-site irrigation demands. The building taps into a campus-wide system of tracking energy usage, which is publicly accessible online through ASU’s “campus metabolism” website.
Placeholder Alt Text

AIA award-winning cancer center showcases a minimalist brise-soleil

facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from

ZGF Architects teamed up with Hensel Phelps Construction to deliver a custom 220,000-square-foot design-build cancer center for the University of Arizona at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. The facility incorporates an “evidence-based, multidisciplinary model of healthcare” and utilizes the most modern technologies. An exterior shade system, along with chilled beams—the first to be used in an Arizona healthcare setting—greatly contribute to the facility’s sustainability. The east and west facades are clad with a solar shading system composed of repetitive rectangular quarter-inch aluminum composite panels (ACP) perforated with half-inch diameter holes yielding a 40 percent openness factor. The panels are folded once at a calculated angle, bending outward to reveal a shaded view of the surrounding desert context from the interior. This copper-toned assembly takes on the coloration of the landscape, adding a contextual aesthetic to the project. The assembly sits 30 inches off a facade of stucco and curtainwall glazing—a dimension that allows maintenance access to the exterior envelope for clean­ing and repairs. The panels are supported directly by a tube steel frame hung from a series of outriggers that cantilever from a hefty 16-inch reinforced concrete roof slab. These “diving boards” establish a dimensional grid that is constructed from the individual 15-foot-6-inch by 5-foot-3-inch panels. Additional outriggers on the same grid provide lateral support, tracking through the facade onto the slab edge.
  • Facade Manufacturer Kovach Building Enclosures (Metal Panels); KT Fabrication (Curtain Wall)
  • Architects ZGF Architects LLP
  • Facade Installer Kovach Building Enclosures (Metal Panels); KT Fabrication (Curtain Wall)
  • General Contractor Hensel Phelps Construction Company
  • Location Phoenix, AZ
  • Date of Completion 2015
  • System cast-in-place concrete, chilled beams, curtainwall, custom ACP solar shade
  • Products Metal Panel Weather Wall: Kovach Rain Screen Cladding System: KRS-225; Penthouse Metal Panel: K-Wall (by Kovach); Kovabond (ACP); KT Fabrication 625, 425, 730, and 1230 curtainwall systems; BASF Senerflex, Clark Western/Flannery Inc., SpecMix (stucco); BASF Senershield / Senerwrap, Grace Ice & Water Shield, Tremco (moisture barrier); Laticrete / Sun Valley Masonry (stone tile)
The project delivery was design-build, per University of Arizona’s requirements. Mitra Memari, principal at ZGF, said the process benefitted from a close working relationship between ZGF and Hensel Phelps, which previously teamed up to complete a different project on University of Arizona’s main campus: “Having gone through this process, one of the key factors in making a design-build project successful is the relationship. Hansel Phelps knows ZGF very well and our design aesthetic, and we know Hansel Phelps very well…specifically individuals who worked on the project. This played well for the university and the end product." Memari said the success of the collaboration is evident in the fact that, for the $74-million project, over 90 percent of the 450 RFIs received were “confirming RFIs” to provide clear communications and exact resolution records. The primary purpose of the screen system is to reduce peak mechanical loads in the building. More than 10 variations of the assembly were studied by the architects, who were looking for a configuration that maximizes view and reduces glare, while properly shading the building. The project team was able to work with the fabricator from a very early point in the project, which allowed it to quickly optimize panel material, size, and configuration. A full size mock-up of a corner condition further helped to inform detailing decisions. Two types of shading panels—one per orientation— were developed in response to solar angles. The repetitive geometry also contributed to a quick construction schedule. The north and south facades feature a curtainwall system from KT Fabrication with three types of custom louver designs integrated in it. The most impressive is a series of canted glass fins incorporating a custom gray 60 percent frit patterning. The glass louvers denote the central area and the main lobby of the cancer center, providing a low-glare interior environment. Chilled beams play a major role in the energy efficiency of the building, reducing energy usage by 23 percent. The system was a first for healthcare projects in both the state and the university. Chilled beams utilize piped water located in the ceiling to naturally (and quietly) heat and cool the air using convection. ZGF incorporates chilled beams into nearly every project it takes on, and has introduced the system into many projects around the country. Beyond the facade, Memari said that one of the greatest successes of the project is an interior “communicating stair” that promotes walkability for staff and visitors through a carefully detailed, highly visible positioning within the building. The stair reads as a folded sculptural element to connect the facility’s tall 16- to 18-foot floor plates. The project opened in August 2015 and recently received a 2016 AIA Healthcare Design Award.
Placeholder Alt Text

Soon, this Arizona desert city could have 25 percent tree cover

Phoenix, Arizona is best known for its cacti and asphalt, not its tree canopy, but one city employee is trying to change that. Richard Adkins, a forestry supervisor for the city, is on a mission to bring tree coverage to one-quarter of the city by 2030. Right now, the tree coverage is less than half of Adkins target number. Why bring lush tree cover to a city mostly known for its desert plants? With a new emphasis on walkable neighborhoods over sprawling subdivisions, and the looming threat of climate change that will raise the mercury further, Phoenix needs to create refuges from the burning heat. Some (mostly older) districts have a reasonable tree cover of 17 percent shade, while others have a paltry seven or eight percent. Natives species like palo brea and mesquite will be planted in conjunction with varieties like the Chinese pistache, a deciduous tree with a dense crown and deep root system that won't buckle sidewalks. As an aesthetic bonus, the pistache turns blood-red in the fall before dropping its leaves. Palms, a ubiquitous site along medians, will be avoided as they do not provide much shade. One model for Adkins's initiative is three-acre Civic Space Park. Completed in 2009, the downtown park boasts a variety of native and non-native trees, pervious pavers, a solar canopy, and a coffee shop. When the trees mature in five to six years, the park should have 70 percent shade cover. And yet, Adkins told the Los Angeles Times, “there’s a lot of pushback – ‘You plant more trees, well, we’re going to have to use more water. That’s where it gets into species choice and water management. Even today, most people over-water everything. But is water a consideration? Of course? Do I feel we have ways of watering and harvesting rainfall with green infrastructure to help provide for our street trees? Absolutely. Do I think we need to give up trees for water? No.” The trees don't need to be natural to be functional, though. Steel trees and canopies can provide cover from the sun on densely developed downtown corridors. In addition creating an online inventory of Phoenix's 92,000 trees, Adkins has tagged trees across town with labels to explain their environmental value using a metric developed by the U.S. Forest Service to determine a tree's carbon storage capacity, how much electricity it could save surrounding buildings, and how much runoff it reduces. Beyond the cost savings they afford, trees have an extra economic value: People tend to gather in shady spots, so if a commercial corridor has many trees, it's likely to get more business, Adkins reasons.
Placeholder Alt Text

On View> The White Shirt According to Me. Gianfranco Ferré

The White Shirt According to Me. Gianfranco Ferré Phoenix Art Museum, Steele Gallery 1625 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ Through March 6, 2016 Gianfranco Ferré, the “architect of fashion,” probably loved white as much as Le Corbusier did, but thankfully that’s where the comparisons between the Italian fashion designer and modernist pioneer end. The White Shirt According to Me. Gianfranco Ferré exhibits 27 white shirts that defined Ferré’s career spanning from 1982–2006. After obsessing over the medium throughout his life, and considering it as the ultimate expression of form, communication ideologies, beauty, and emotion, Ferré’s deviations on the subject are well chronicled. That’s not to say there will just be fabric on display. In fact, a multiplicity of media has been used to illustrate the seemingly never-ending iterative processes Ferré employed to discover new forms of the white shirt. Sketches, technical drawings, photography, and film convey these techniques and ideas that have been used to create his well-established “hallmark of style.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Products> Six Cutting-Edge Kitchen Systems

Kitchen systems offer the best of both worlds: unlimited customization and efficient, modular-based installation. For multi-unit projects or single-family structures, open floor plans or enclosed rooms, these versatile cabinets are a designer's dream. P'7350 Poggenpohl The mitered vertical joints of the P'7350 are a striking visual departure from the horizontal lines of conventional kitchens. Designed by Porsche Design Studio. XTEND Leicht Louvered panels rise and lower via remote control, eliminating concerns about door-swing clearance in tight spaces. Henrybuilt Custom designed and fabricated in the United States, these contemporary kitchens feature hand-crafted carpentry and one-of-a-kind detailing. B3 Bulthaup A multi-function wall is at the core of this kitchen system, concealing utility lines and giving the cabinets a floating appearance. Phoenix Varenna A serviceable mix of open and closed storage and a palette of natural materials characterize this forward-looking kitchen. Designed by CR&S Varenna. New Logica System: Artematica Vitrum Arte Valcucine Featuring glass-fronted drawers and base cabinets, this kitchen poses unique recycling potential. Full-height pantry units offer extensive storage capacity. Designed by Gabriele Centazzo.
Placeholder Alt Text

Boom or Bust for Phoenix’s Warehouse District?

According to a recent article on azcentral.com, Phoenix’s Warehouse District is in the midst of a renaissance. Or is it? The man behind several adaptive reuse projects in the neighborhood says not so fast. “It’s like every five years someone gets excited about it and writes the same article,” said developer Michael Levine. While he admits there’s been an uptick in interest in the mid-century industrial buildings, he doubts his fellow landowners’ motives. “If you give them enough money...they’d have the [buildings] demolished,” he said. Levine grew up in Brooklyn and attended Parsons, where he considered becoming an architectural designer before a retrospective on the work of Gordon Matta Clark convinced him to switch to art. “I wanted to get my hands dirty,” said Levine. After college, Levine moved to Phoenix, doing all kinds of work, from residential contracting to building visual displays and starting an art gallery. When he began manufacturing for multinational companies, he needed a larger workspace, and moved into his first warehouse. “Basically the buildings are like big three-dimensional sculptures,” said Levine. Eventually, the buildings themselves became Levine’s subjects. He renovated his first warehouse in 1992, his second in 1999. Phoenix, it turns out, is a particularly difficult place to be a champion for adaptive reuse. For one thing, the city didn’t have that many warehouses to begin with. “The best warehouse in Phoenix would be the worst in Detroit,” observed Levine. In addition, said Levine, the city’s reluctance to embrace the International Building Code combined with its early adoption of ADA standards to make it “almost impossible to save a building.” Even a recent preservation program hasn’t done as much as advocates might have hoped for the Warehouse District. In 2006, the city, aware that its pre–World War II building stock was rapidly dwindling, launched a special category of grants (funded through the city’s bond program) specifically for preserving warehouses. “It hasn’t been quite as successful as we’d hoped, but it hasn’t been a complete failure,” said Kevin Weight of the City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office. The office had hoped there might be another bond issue, but then the recession hit. “We really don’t have the incentives to offer that we did before, so that’s part of why it’s not moving as quickly as we’d like,” said Weight. According to Levine, the problem is that would-be renovators have to compete with new construction. “The real story of the Warehouse District is it’s the cheapest land in town,” he said. Preservationists have scored a few big wins, as in 2007, when a lawsuit spared the Sun Mercantile Building (an E.W. Bacon-designed warehouse built in 1929) from a  condo project. But the trend still seems to favor new over old. “They demolish 10, 13 buildings, then save one building,” said Levine. “It’s been like tokenism.” There are a few bright spots in the Warehouse District’s recent history, including several of Levine’s projects: 605 E. Grant Street (1917), originally owned by the Southwest Cotton Company; The Duce (525 S. Central Ave, 1928), built for Anchor Manufacturing Company; and Bentley Projects (215 E. Grant Street, 1918), first occupied by Bell Laundry. Then there’s 22 E. Jackson Street, the 1930 Arizona Hardware Supply Company building renovated by Dudley Ventures. A number of additional warehouse buildings have been listed on the city’s register of historic buildings. Levine cites the recent relocation of several of Arizona State University School of Art graduate student buildings to his 605 E. Grant Street. “The fine artists get it...ASU has finally gotten it,” said Levine, though he went on to express dismay at an ASU urban planning professor’s embrace of a nearby luxury-apartments project. That said, the Warehouse District renaissance doesn’t yet seem to have reached the tipping point. The city’s out of money to assist preservationists, at least for now. And Levine thinks that some of the recent interest in the neighborhood may be a passing craze. “However much they love it, unfortunately it’s a fashion thing to these people,” said Levine. “It’s really cool to be in a brick building...For me, I really want these buildings to be around for another 100 years.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Six Outstanding Libraries Honored by the AIA and American Library Association

As cities across the country struggle to bring new life to aging athenaeums and cash-strapped local libraries, the AIA has honored six outstanding examples of library design in this year’s AIA/ALA Library Building Awards. In the past we have seen a Walmart transformed into a library, a controversial starchitect renovation in New York, and an interactive, LED light-show—now take a look at these honored projects. From democratic design in the nation’s capital to a stunning Beaux-Arts restoration in St. Louis and high-tech solutions in North Carolina, this year's winning projects present a range of answers to the challenges facing our fading repositories. The jury for the biannual award included Jeanne M. Jackson, FAIA, Chair, VCBO Architecture; John R. Dale, FAIA, Harley Ellis Devereaux; Charles Forrest, Emory University Libraries; Kathleen Imhoff, Library Consultant; J. Stuart Pettitt, AIA, Straub Pettitt Yaste and John F. Szabo, Los Angeles Public Library. Anacostia Neighborhood Library Washington, D.C. The Freelon Group From the AIA: The small-scale residential context provided the inspiration for the design of this new branch library, located in a low-income, underserved neighborhood in Washington, D.C. The project not only fulfilled programmatic needs but also provided a stimulus for community pride and economic development. The residential scale is reflected in the library design as a series of pavilions for program areas that require enclosure: the children’s program room, the young adults’ area, support spaces, and public meeting rooms. The remainder of the level one plan is high, open space for the main reading room, stacks, computers, and public seating areas. A large green roof structure provides shelter over all program areas. Central Library Renovation St. Louis Cannon Design From the AIA: Cass Gilbert’s grand Beaux-Arts library, now 100 years old and a St. Louis cultural landmark, was in need of a transformative restoration that would increase public access and modernize it for the 21st century. On the interior, the centrally located Great Hall is surrounded by five wings, four dedicated to public reading rooms and the fifth, the north wing, to a multistory book depository closed to the public. The transformation of the north wing truly rejuvenated the library and brought it into the next century. Old book stacks were removed, and a new “building within a building” was inserted. Now, a multistory public atrium provides an accessible and welcoming entry. The new “floating platforms” surround the atrium without touching existing interior walls. Glass-enclosed upper levels house the collection with compact high-density bookshelves. The windows of the north wall, now clear glass, bounce natural light deep into the interior and provide striking views. New York Public Library, Hamilton Grange Teen Center New York City Rice + Libpka Architects From the AIA: The center, located on the previously empty third-floor space of Harlem’s Hamilton Grange branch library, designed by McKim, Mead and White, is NYPL’s first full-floor space dedicated to teens. In an effort to attract and engage neighborhood youth, the 4,400-square-foot space challenges the norms of library design. The light-filled floor is divided into specific zones that foster small-group interaction and socialization. Visibility is maintained across the entire floor. Two programmatic elements—a 20-foot-diameter Media Vitrine and a bamboo bleacher—occupy the center of the space and work to define the seven zones between and around them. The vitrine’s open-top glass enclosure upends the notion that multimedia spaces must be dark, hyperisolated rooms. The bleacher allows views out to the street from the existing high south-facing windows and provides a sunny hang-out for a range of group sizes. Custom L-shaped lounge benches bracket this space and can be rolled away to allow for other uses and activities. James B. Hunt Library Raleigh, North Carolina Snøhetta and Pear Brinkley Cease + Lee From the AIA: An $11 million reduction in the budget for this library during the schematic design phase prompted the design, construction, and client teams to formulate a range of new ideas to maintain functionality and quality. The building would need to be highly programmed and reasonably versatile as well as comfortable and stimulating to visitors. One innovation was the introduction of an automated book delivery system (ABDS), which effectively reduced the total area of the building by 200,000 gross square feet and allowed more space for collaboration and technology. The ABDS is supported by user-friendly browsing software that matches and even enhances the traditional pleasure of browsing a collection. Oak Forest Neighborhood Library Houston NAAA + AWI + JRA From the AIA: This 7,600-square-foot modern brick and glass structure opened in 1961. Fifty years later, there was still great nostalgia for the library’s mid-century modern design, but the building no longer met the standards of the Houston Public Library system or the needs of the surrounding neighborhood. The 2011 renovations and additions respect the character of the existing library and enhance its accessibility and functionality. The original building’s restored signature green tile mosaic still graces the parking entry area on the north, but now the neighborhood is welcomed by a tree-shaded second entry and outdoor reading room framed by new dedicated adult and teen areas on the west. The original tile mosaic and globe light canopy of the old circulation desk were restored to create a toddler-sized reading nook. Each age group—from toddlers through teens and adults—now has appropriate facilities, furnishings, and technology. A new lobby and circulation space, lit by a continuous shaded clerestory, occupies the seam between old and new and unites the two entries. South Mountain Community Library Phoenix richärd+brauer From the AIA: The building integrates the varied uses of a contemporary public library with the needs of a state-of-the-art central campus library, allowing each to function both independently and collaboratively. The design is modeled after that of an integrated circuit, providing insulation between disparate functions and promoting interaction and connection between like functions and spaces. The simple massing of the building is attenuated to focus views on the surrounding mountains and provide shade and transparency. The site was once home to fertile agricultural valleys and citrus groves, and the building consciously merges interior and exterior spaces to connect to the area’s rich history. A series of rooftop monitors and light shafts flood natural light into the first-level core. The rain screen, formed of bent planks of copper, calls to mind the pattern of an abstracted bar code. Variegated cedar strips reinforce the digital aesthetic of the building. Further echoing the design of a circuit board, building systems are organized and expressed within an internally lit independent distribution soffit.
Placeholder Alt Text

Bjarke Ingels Has Phoenix Pinned, Plants Giant Observation Tower Downtown

Phoenix-based developer Novawest wanted a new signature project for the city's downtown, an observation tower from which to admire the far-off mountain ranges and dramatic Southwestern sunsets, so Bjarke Ingels proposed to scoop out the spiraled negative-space of New York's Guggenheim Museum rotunda and plant it 420 feet above downtown Phoenix. Ingels' "Pin," a 70,000 square foot observation tower is elegant in its simple form, a ball on a stick, indeed evoking some far away Gulliver on a real-life version of Google maps finding his way to the Sun Belt. In another light, Phoenicians could ostensibly see a larger-than-life Chupa Chup or an upended mascara brush, but that's the beauty of pure form, right? Visitors will be able to ride one of three glass elevators up the reinforced concrete core to the top of the Pin's observation spiral, where flexible exhibition, retail, and recreation spaces will showcase panoramic views of the surrounding region and descend, round and round, to a restaurant in the lower portions of the sphere. "Like the monsoons, the haboobs, and the mountains of the surrounding Arizonian landscape, the Pin becomes a point of reference and a mechanism to set the landscape in motion through the movement of the spectator." Bjarke Ingels, principal at BIG, said in a statement. "Like the Guggenheim Museum of New York offers visitors a unique art experience descending around its central void, the motion at the Pin is turned inside-out allowing visitors to contemplate the surrounding city and landscape of Phoenix. Like a heavenly body hovering above the city, the Pin will allow visitors to descend from pole to pole in a dynamic three dimensional experience seemingly suspended in midair."