Posts tagged with "Safdie Architects":

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Safdie Architects completes world’s largest indoor waterfall

After six years, the first phase of Safdie Architects’ monumental Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore will open to the public on April 17. That not only includes an indoor “rain forest” with walking trails, but also the world’s largest indoor waterfall. The 1.4-million-square-foot doughnut-shaped building is a greenhouse ensconced within a steel diagrid frame engineered by BuroHappold. The five-story toroid stretches another five levels underground as well and is designed to connect the Changi Airport’s terminals 1, 2, and 3, and to public transit. Jewel was conceived of as an amenity hub for the airport and contains over 280 retail stores, galleries, and restaurants, a 130-room hotel, and operations space for the airport, including a lounge and check-in area. To mitigate the noise from the aircraft taking off around it, the triangular window sections were installed with a .6-inch-thick air gap between the two glass panes. Jewel's crowning feature is its seven-story indoor waterfall, the “Rain Vortex,” which dramatically pours down from a central oculus and into a circular catch below. The waterfall is, appropriately enough, fed by water collected during Singapore’s constant thunderstorms, and the recirculated rainwater diffuses throughout the Jewel to passively cool the interior. All of that humidity also helps maintain the thousands of plants, including 2,000 trees, found within. Other than the Forest Valley, which includes terraced vegetation and “forest walks” around the waterfall, the 150,000-square-foot Canopy Park on the fifth floor further enhances then garden feel. Glass bottomed bridges, topiary mazes, sky nets (suspended net paths), mirrored “discovery slides” that will open on June 10, and a gathering space for up to 1,000 guests can all be found on the Jewel’s top floor. Such an enormous undertaking was a collaborative effort, and Safdie led a multidisciplinary group of designers and engineers. Atelier Ten was responsible for the building’s climate control systems; Singapore’s RSP Architects Planners & Engineers was the project’s executive architect; the Berkeley, California-based Peter Walker and Partners was responsible for the landscape design and plant selection; and Los Angeles’s WET engineered the Rain Vortex and developed a 360-degree light and sound show to play against the waterfall at night.
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“Great” construction projects in America? Starchitects say: look elsewhere


A strange thing has been happening at some public architecture talks lately, perhaps you’ve noticed. Over the course of otherwise hopeful and positive discussions covering amazing new projects from around the globe, at some point, usually toward the end of a talk, conversation turns to the current state of American building and infrastructure. And, it's safe to say, people are not happy. Sometimes, the presenter will rip off the bandaid, as Thom Mayne of Morphosis did at a recent Facades+  talk in Los Angeles, when he said, “I hate to be negative, but there’s not much going on in this country architecturally,” before adding, “[But] if you look at architecture around the world, it’s startling…It’s unbelievable, the research [taking place]—I just came back from Shenzhen [China] and I’m looking around [at the skyline] there wondering ‘is there anything left for me to do?’” Other times, a perplexed-sounding audience member will ask what it seems many in attendance had been pondering privately: “Why can’t we build like this here?” 

 It’s a debilitating question that really only has one answer. And although, even when speaking bluntly, everyone tries their best to truth-tell without offending, but the writing is right on the projection screen—building big in America simply isn’t what it used to be, and we don’t know what to do about it.

 “The United States is falling behind,” architect Moshe Safdie explained to a packed room during a recent keynote talk at Palm Springs Modernism Week when asked why the inventive array of projects he had just presented are mostly located outside the United States. “Around the world, the competition [for bold infrastructure] doesn’t stop,” he said, half-jokingly, “until you land at Kennedy or LAX.” 

 To prove his point, Safdie pointed out further that although the Hudson Yards development in New York City is the largest privately-led construction project in the country by square footage, it is easily dwarfed in terms of vision by countless projects around the globe of a similar or larger size. 

 He’s right. Hudson Yards is a dime a dozen as far as global mega-projects are concerned. Safdie’s own Raffles City development in Chongqing, China, for example, might be roughly two-thirds the size of Hudson Yards, but it is going up in less than one-third the time and is almost entirely designed by a single architecture firm—Safdie Architects—with P&T Group International Ltd. serving as architect of record. Safdie’s own portfolio of recent work shows that while New York occasionally will build an elevated billionaire citadel, Chongqing, Singapore, and other cities have tasked his office with erecting bold new structures designed for working people and the public at large, all without sacrificing design quality. 

 Safdie explained that one possible reason why American projects no longer lead the world in terms of size or scale might be due to a “lack of urban initiative,” the type of sustained and calculated political and managerial energy necessary for bringing to life the types of large-scale and lasting projects that have transformed other countries around the world in recent decades. 

It’s a sentiment echoed by Rem Koolhaas, who, when recently asked about the prevalence of NIMBYism in America, explained, “I think you can divide the world into one part that is eager to change and doesn’t have hesitations about things changing, and another part that is totally nervous about change and actually aspires to a kind of stability.” Koolhaas added, “As an architect, every one of your efforts is impacted by this. In the end, however, architecture is always controversial because it proposes to make things different than they are.”

 Perhaps nowhere is this truer than in the realm of high-speed rail (HSR), where American decision makers across all levels of government have persisted in remaining tethered to auto-centric planning, condemning the nation to antiquated transportation for at least another generation. A recent article in The New York Times covering the ongoing debacle with California’s tragic HSR project, for example, brings this condition into sharp relief with the following line: “California’s High-Speed Rail Authority…was established 23 years ago. During that time China has built 16,000 miles of high-speed rail.”

 America has built none. But America’s last-place finish doesn’t end with rail or with deteriorating airports; it includes city-building, too, as Safdie pointed out. Much of America is suffering from some form of housing crisis, whether it’s so-called Rust Belt cities struggling to retain residents or coastal cities that can’t figure out how and where to build new housing fast enough. While American cities have doubled-down on onerous building restrictions and lengthy bureaucratic reviews, politically polarized state and federal governments have worked at cross purposes, too, failing to enact bold plans and avoiding future-oriented thinking at almost all costs. The overarching legacy of redlining, racial segregation, and income inequality has placed a stranglehold over American cities, as well, contributing to intense gentrification when development does occur and debilitating displacement when it doesn’t. Over the last decade, it has become clear that America's public health, land-use, and transportation policies are all woefully out of whack, and the result is stifling the abilities of a generation of well-trained architects and engineers eager to build a better nation. Meanwhile, the world’s urbanizing areas have embraced building vertically, have expanded transit of all sorts, and have worked to enact bold planning initiatives that over a generation have remade the face of global urbanism in the name of interconnectedness, density, and place-making.

 In Europe, for example, France is currently enacting its “Le Grand Paris” plan, a vision that will stitch together the Paris city center with its inner and outer ring suburbs to bring together an urban region of 10 million inhabitants. The plan includes a €30 billion public transit expansion initiative that will create a network of regional transit routes connecting suburbs with one another as well as sizable new investments in social housing, parks, and other equity-minded initiatives.

 But it’s not just Europe. 

 Cairo, Egypt, is building a new $45 billion capital city that, when completed, will become the largest purpose-built capital city by population in the world.

 In India, the country’s largest infrastructure project, the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, aims to connect the nation’s political and economic capitals with a 900-mile long conurbation made up of 24 urban “nodes.” The plan aims to urbanize 14 percent of India’s population—180 million people—over the next 30 years and will take $100 billion in investment to realize.

 In South America, Argentina’s so-called Belgrano Plan will bring $16 billion in rail expansion to 10 of the country’s neglected northern provinces and will create up to 250,000 new housing units and 1,100 childhood education centers. 

 Saudi Arabia is building new mega cities from scratch, as are China, Singapore, Nigeria, Mauritius, and countless others. 

 None of these projects are perfect socially or environmentally-speaking, to be sure, but one thing they do not lack is vision.

 If it feels like the most impressive work is taking place in other countries, that’s because in many ways, it is, and international architects know perhaps better than anyone else the truth of that reality. Even more, the hesitation, hedging, and hand-wringing that accompanies talk of the current state of American infrastructure and urban vision indicate that the problem runs deeper than a mere lack of funding or risk-averse clients. 

Whether it’s California’s flailing HSR project, the nation’s intractable housing crises, or even, the sad, dispirited political discourse surrounding the Green New Deal—a potentially transformative plan that is barely supported by the party that conceived it—it is clear that America has a crisis of vision, a failure of political will, and perhaps most alarmingly, no real interest in solving its own problems. Look at the Salesforce Transit Center debacle in San Francisco, Elon Musk’s substandard and retrograde transit ideas in Los Angeles and Chicago, and the steady stream of failing bridges and tunnels across the country for further proof. Even Amazon’s HQ2 extravaganza, a year-long publicity stunt by the world’s richest company that wrung billions in incentives from some of the most desperate cities around the country, rightfully withered on the vine. What’s going on here?

 As Safdie quipped, “We were promised infrastructure!” But the truth is that it’s just not happening in America anymore.
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Moshe Safdie wins the 2019 Wolf Prize for Architecture

Moshe Safdie has won the 2019 Wolf Prize for Architecture, an award given out about every three years by the Wolf Foundation. The Israeli nonprofit gives out six prizes annually for agriculture, arts, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, and physics. The arts award recognizes a winner in either painting, music, sculpture, or architecture. Recent winners for architecture include Phyllis Lambert, Eduardo Souto de Moura, David Chipperfield, and Peter Eisenman. The award citation praised Safdie's "career motivated by the social concerns of architecture and formal experimentation," and recognized Montreal's Habitat '67 along with "the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, the Harvard Rosovsky Hall in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Exploration Place in Wichita, Kansas, the National Library of Israel and the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem." Much of the Safdie Architects' current work comprises large-scale residential towers that formally echo Habitat's modularity on a much larger scale. Winners of Wolf Prizes receive $100,000.
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Moshe Safdie’s personal Habitat 67 unit gets upgraded and restored

Safdie Architects has officially completed a two-year-long restoration of Moshe Safdie’s personal unit at Habitat 67, a landmark apartment complex designed by a young Safdie himself for Montreal. The project was done in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the seminal structure. Safdie’s light-filled duplex unit is located on the 10th floor of the 238,500-square-foot brutalist building and overlooks the Saint Lawrence River and downtown Montreal. The careful restoration of the prefabricated piece of architecture has been a serious undertaking. Safdie Architects worked to bring the entire facility into the 21st century by upgrading its technical systems to modern sustainability and energy conservation standards. They also stripped the exterior concrete walls that showed severe signs of decades-long water damage in order to repair, insulate, and waterproof the envelope from the harsh Canadian winters.   For the interior of Safdie’s apartment, the design team restored the space to its original 1960s condition. They repaired the wood parquet flooring, installed new windows, and restored the sliding patio doors that retract into the concrete walls. The wood-slatted terraces were revamped to include the clear polycarbonate railings found on the original structure. The bathrooms, outfitted with molded fiber glasses, were also rehabilitated, along with the fixtures and fittings. The kitchen was completely restored as well. Now in mint condition, the unit will be dedicated to the public realm as a resource for research and tours as Safdie Architects continues an ongoing restoration of the building’s envelope.
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Moshe Safdie to design Boise public library

Moshe Safdie is designing a new library for Boise, Idaho.
Yesterday, the Boise City Council approved a three-month contract with Safdie's firm, Safdie Architects, to come up with a concept design for the 150,000-square-foot public library. The building will be sited on the same five-acre parcel as the existing library, a converted 1940s hardware warehouse. The stacks and related programming will take up the bulk of the new structure, but the building will also include roughly 20,000 square feet of public events space and 20,000 square feet for Boise's Arts and History Department. The initial contract, valued at almost $400,000, would cover preliminary designs, which may include proposals for reusing the existing library building. The total budget for the project is around $60 to $70 million, money that would come from fundraising and public financing, the Idaho Statesman reported. “The City of Boise has a clear vision for how the new Boise Library can be a gateway to the city,” said Moshe Safdie, in a city-issued press release. “The building program, the public engagement process, and the site itself, will be the foundation of a design solution unique to Boise, one that reflects its highest aspirations and values as a community.” Safdie is no stranger to the Heartland. His practice designed a public library in Salt Lake City, Utah, a science museum in Wichita, Kansas, and a performing arts center in Kansas City, Missori. If all goes according to plan, Safdie Architects will work with local firm CSHQA on the Boise building, which should be complete in late 2021. There are no designs available at this time.
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Moshe Safdie working on his first hospital, first project in South America

The community is called Serena del Mar, which means Serenity of the Ocean in Spanish. In addition to the hospital, called Centro Hospitalario Serena del Mar, the project will include oceanfront residences, a hotel resort village, a business and commercial district, a golf resort, and an “equestrian village.” Twelve kilometers from the Old City historic district of Cartagena, the planned community is expected to absorb much of the area’s expansion and help the region compete for national and international tourists.     Serena del Mar will be organized around a major canal, similar in scale to the Grand Canal in Venice. The centerpiece is a 400-bed hospital, the first designed by Safdie. The main boulevard is modeled after Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, although cars mostly will be banned to the perimeter of the property. The developer is Novus Civitas, headed by one of the wealthiest families in South America. Safdie’s firm, Safdie Architects, is the architect for the hospital and master planner for the ‘Gran Canal’ civic and institutional district within the larger community, according to principal in charge Sean Scensor. EDSA of Florida is the master planner for the rest of Serena del Mar and landscape architect for the hospital and surrounding area, Scensor said. Robert Trent Jones II is the golf course designer. Other architects that have worked on the hospital include Tsoi/Kobus & Associates of Cambridge, Mass., and a local firm in Colombia, Condiseño Arquitectos. Design and planning experts from Johns Hopkins Medicine International in Baltimore consulted with the development team on the design of the hospital, which will be operated by the Fundación Santa Fe de Bogotá. Construction began last year on the hospital’s first phase. When complete, the building will have a series of fingers extending toward a lagoon, with outdoor “healing gardens’ in between. The rest of Serena del Mar will follow in phases, and the canal is the “big move” that organizes it, Scensor said. In a promotional video for the community, Safdie, 77, indicated that he drew inspiration from the natural setting and the area’s rich architectural traditions. He said he tried to “capture the experience of the Old City of Cartagena” in the context of modern development. “Somehow I feel that my role is to create an architecture that belongs,” he said. “An architecture that belongs is one which makes those who live there, who are part of the place, feel like this is ours."
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Construction wraps up on Moshe Safdie’s Sky Habitat towers in Singapore

Reaching up into the sky in Bishan, Singapore is Moshe Safdie's recently completed development, and aptly named, Sky Habitat. Safdie's design includes walkways that connect the the two structures up to 38 storey's up, offering views across the suburban sprawl of Bishan. Views aren't the only thing offered to residents who take to the bridges at the complex either. As pictured above, a swimming pool spans the majority of the highest bridge (on the 38th floor) complete with palm trees. Below are two more bridges connecting the towers. They provide circulation between the buildings and facilitate airflow through the structures. In fact, ventilation was somewhat of a priority in the context of the Singapore's tropical and climate. As a result, by separating the volumes, Safdie has maximised exposure to each dwelling to combat the humid conditions. That's not to say that they too have been left bereft of vegetation, something which has been a key feature of Safdie's design. The inclusion of such greenery has lead to the bridges being termed as "sky gardens," offering a natural counter to the surrounding urban environment. Bishan, by comparison, is one of Singapore's fastest developing cities. The two volumes of the towers show off a staggered facade that maximizes each dwelling's views and sunlight exposure. Sky Habitat, by name, builds on Safdie's most recognized work, Habitat 67 in Montreal, Canada. Equally hierarchical and arguably more complex, Habitat 67 had its roots in his Master's thesis at McGill University. http://www.skyhabitat.com.sg/assets/video/commercial.mp4
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Eavesdrop> Renzo Piano to deliver high design with a low-minded name in Des Moines

Downtown Des Moines, Iowa, courted an all-star list of architecture firms for a new $92 million corporate headquarters that has the unfortunate baggage of being helmed by the world’s most cringe-inducingly named and spelled convenience store chain, Kum & Go. BIG, Morphosis, SOM, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, and Safdie Architects all competed for what CEO Kyle Krause is calling Des Moines’ next landmark. And that landmark is going to be designed by the Piano man himself. According to the Des Moines Register, the convenience store was attracted to Piano's "ability to emphasize collaboration, transparency and light." The new building will be located between 14th and 15th streets north of the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, and locals hope the new building will take a back seat to the art on display that includes works by the likes of Jaume Plensa. The headquarters will house 300 employees in some 120,000 square feet and is expected to be complete in 2017. "What we want to do is create the best environment for our associates," Krause told the Register. "Architecturally, sure, they'll do a great job, but it's really about that inside space and what you can create inside the building that is best for our people." He added that Piano is "a great down-to-earth guy who we think can create the space that creates the transparency, the collaboration, the openness for our people to have a nice work space." Eavesdrop can’t be the only one who feels uncomfortable gassing up at this midwestern roadside retailer—but maybe a work of starchitecture can change our minds.
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Ennead Architects Selected to Design Peabody Essex Museum’s New Expansion

After inviting several architecture firms to participate in a design charrette this summer, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Massachusetts has selected Ennead Architects to design the museum's ambitious 175,000-square-foot expansion. This $200 million project will include new galleries, public program and education spaces, conservation and exhibition processing areas, and a restaurant. "Ennead Architects impressed us with their creative dexterity, in-depth understanding of our institution and thoughtful design solutions for the museum's complex architectural program. We celebrate their responsive, collaborative spirit and look forward to partnering with them to achieve a design that provides a superlative museum experience," said Dan Monroe, PEM's Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Director and CEO, in a statement. PEM initially chose London-based Rick Mather Architects to undertake the entire expansion project. The firm completed the first phase, including the master planning and renovation of the Dodge wing, but when founder and principal Rick Mather passed away this past spring, the museum decided to consider other firms. According to Boston.com, PEM cited the intimate size of the firm (15 architects) and Mather's "intense involvement" in the project as factors for the switch. Ennead, which employs over 100 architects, offers substantial museum experience. The firm recently wrapped up its expansion of the Yale University Art Gallery last winter, and has also cuts its teeth working on a number of other projects, such as the Brooklyn Museum, Natural History Museum of Utah, William J. Clinton Presidential Center, and the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History. "PEM's expansion presents an exciting design challenge and an opportunity to reimagine one of the oldest and fastest growing museums in the country," said Ennead design partner Richard Olcott in a statement. This marks the second major building project that the museum has embarked on in the last ten years. Architect Moshe Safdie designed a $100 million glass and brick building expansion and renovation in 2003. The museum plans on breaking ground in 2015, and anticipates that the new wing will be unveiled in 2019. The Mathers-designed Dodge wing will reopen this October along with the revamped Art & Nature Center.