The application before the Commission on March 21st was limited to the building’s façade. The applicant represented to the Commission that they had valid DOB permits for the work on the plaza that pre-dated designation and, as a result, that portion of the work was not before the Commission. During the process, the Commissioner’s reference was based on the representation by the applicant. If there were no valid DOB permits for the work on the plaza issued prior to designation, the applicant would be required to obtain an LPC permit prior to the issuance of a DOB permit.A site visit this week revealed that there is construction fencing surrounding the perimeter of the plaza, though the stair to the subway through the sunken plaza remains unimpeded. Signs show a Gensler rendering of the revamped plaza and office building, above, but the only permits posted are for work on the 29th floor: Boston Properties could not be reached for comment on the current status of the renovations or the approvals process. The changes that DCP approved in Boston Properties’ land use application would add benches and would not reduce the total area of the POPS's sunken plaza. (Technically, to the DCP, the plaza is an "open air concourse," an exposed area that sits more than 12 feet below-grade and provides access to the subway. Here, at its lowest, the tiered public space sits 13 feet below grade.) Its 6,000 square feet of tables, chairs, and concrete gave the Citicorp Center a FAR bonus of almost 59,000 square feet. In exchange, the public received six trees, 19 tables, 76 chairs, and a designer fountain, plus retail at the western edge of the concourse. The DCP-approved changes would add two tables, eight chairs, and 153 feet of benches to the count, and a new fountain would replace the Sasaki fountain in "approximately the same location." Among other changes, the plans call for a stairway from the concourse to the sidewalk would be widened, and repositioned to improved pedestrian circulation from the subway to the street. The land use review application says the changes would "improve public access, provide better circulation and connectivity, and create a more visible and vibrant Public Spaces [sic]." This fountain-for-fountain, space-for-space tradeoff is acceptable per City Planning but for preservationists, the thought of losing Sasaki fountain is devastating. “The Citicorp Center is about public space—that’s what makes it architecturally interesting and designation-worthy,” said preservation activist Theodore Gruenwald. “We are seeing all of these changes done very much behind the scenes, without public oversight.” Designed by Sasaki Associates principal emeritus Stuart Dawson, the Citicorp Center's plaza and fountain is just one of the city’s 333 POPS, the essential New York City micro-spaces that make public places out of office building plazas, atria, and concourses. Introduced as a development incentive in the 1960s, POPS let developers build taller than zoning allowed in exchange for open space. Recently, though, the public-ness of these public spaces has come under threat. The election propelled Trump Tower's inaccessible POPS into the limelight, and the loss of the Water Street arcades last year has further highlighted the vulnerability of POPS, especially those that are more marginal. Though not a POPS, the owners of SOM's landmarked One Chase Manhattan Plaza tried—and failed—to build three glass pavilions on the building's plaza, a move that would have segmented the public space and blocked views of a massive Dubuffet sculpture. Rule-breaking POPS have caught the attention of the law, too. This month the office of the New York City comptroller released the results of a POPS audit (PDF), which found that more than half of the city's privately owned public spaces did not provide mandated access or amenities (though the POPS at Citicorp Center was in-compliance—at least by this measure). UPDATE 5/8/17: The DOB initially represented to AN that there were no permits issued for the work on the sunken plaza and Sasaki fountain. On May 5, 2017, the agency informed AN that an ALT–2 permit to remake the plaza was filed on November 18, 2016 and issued on December 2, 2016. The LPC signed off on the permits that same day, four days before Citicorp's landmarking on December 6 and well after the conclusion of the public comment period. AN plans to update readers on this developing story.
Posts tagged with "Sasaki Associates":
I was and am incredibly proud of the work we did on the sidewalks, plaza, cascading fountain, and interior atrium of the Citicorp Center. The response from the public was immediate and strong: they loved it. As the fate of this work is up in the air I cannot help but to return to the original idea that carried through all aspects of the project: the idea of connection. At the time, we asked why not carry the fountain and broad steps all the way from street level; to chapel and atrium entrance level; to the subway level? While it required difficult permitting and multiple bureaucratic maneuvers, it seemed well worth the effort—and it was. It was a first! And today, as I learn that the plaza we designed is in danger of demolition I ask that we consider connection once more. I would like to see the plaza live on, connecting one era of design into the next. Once again, it may take some persistent maneuvering but I believe it will once more be worth it.
Christabel Gough of the advocacy group Society for the Architecture of the City told AN that the Sasaki project has "fallen between the cracks of arcane inter-agency procedures and is not protected. Boston Properties would earn the gratitude of so many New Yorkers by abandoning the demolition plan revealed today."
According to the LPC, the changes put forward by Gensler and Boston Properties were approved by the City Planning Commission prior to 601 Lexington Avenue’s designation as a landmark in December 2016 and that permits to alter the plaza had already been filed with the Department of Buildings (DOB). Despite an extensive search, at press time AN was unable to locate the permits on the DOB's website.At the hearing, preservationists and commissioners raised questions about the missing foundation. "The HDC wishes to express its regret at reports that the water feature may be removed from the space, which seems like an unfortunate loss," said Barbara Zay, of advocacy group the Historic Districts Council. "We would suggest that the LPC retain a seat at the table in discussions for the fate of courtyard by working closely with the owner, and perhaps the MTA, to find an alternative or return this decorative feature which provides an element of civility and whimsy to the space.” Echoing Zay, Commissioner Michael Goldblum expressed regret about the turn of events. "It’s a shame that the plaza will be changed and the fountain lost," he said, adding that the fountain was a "key element of how the public experience this complex." Fellow commissioner John Gustafsson clarified that no decision on the plaza could be made. "We’re not expressing an opinion here because we can’t," he said. The only changes on the agenda then, were to that of the facade, particularly on 53rd Street. Here, a recessed entrance would be eradicated, but the LPC voiced weariness ahead of this decision.
AN asked representatives from Gensler and Boston Properties at the hearing about why they are eliminating the plaza. Both declined to comment.In her closing statement, chair Meenakshi Srinivasan noted that "the Citicorp Building has a long history of changes... We recognized that these spaces will continue to change." She concluded that the proposed modifications were consistent with the building's history, and retained the spirit of the original design intent, particularly with the building's zoning history in mind. Prior to granting its approval, the LPC suggested that the proposed changes to the recessed entranceway be reconsidered. But questions remain as to why a plaza so integral to the landmark is beyond the LPC's oversight in the first place. AN will keep readers updated on this story as it develops. Update 3/22/17: This article originally stated that Sasaki's plaza was not included in the building's December 2016 landmark designation. It was in fact included in the designation. The post was also updated to include clarifying information about the plaza's jurisdiction and additional background on the statement of regulatory intent. The text was updated to reflect that Sasaki Associates principal emeritus Stuart Dawson designed the fountain.
The much-anticipated final phase of the Chicago Riverwalk is complete after years of planning and construction
It has been over a decade since Chicago began to redevelop its downtown riverfront, with Ross Barney Architects and Sasaki leading the design. With the recent completion of Phase III, the new mile-and-a-half public park known as the Riverwalk is now open. Divided into separate “rooms” between the famed bascule bridges, the Riverwalk provides a series of new programs for the downtown.
While the dream of swimming in the Chicago River is still far from reality, Chicagoans are now able to get closer to the river than ever before. Since the completion of phase two, the Riverwalk has become a favorite gathering space for downtown business people at lunchtime and a weekend hotspot for tourists. New restaurants and bars provide outdoor seating along the water, while kayaks can be rented for those looking to get up close and personal. A grand staircase-ramp between upper Wacker Drive and the river, known as the River Theater, can often be found filled with people sitting, reading, exercising, or simply people-watching. Those with their own boats can pull up to multiple tie-ups, drawing many large yachts from Lake Michigan. Part of phase three includes large floating planters, as well as one of the most anticipated additions to the Riverwalk, a large interactive water plaza.
A major challenge in realizing the continuity of the Riverwalk was connecting the separate rooms. The seemingly simple task was made more complicated by the fact that pedestrians frequently pass under the bascule drawbridges, whose permeable decks see some of Chicago’s heaviest traffic. In order to separate the public from the mechanics of the over one-hundred-year-old bridges and shield them from any falling debris from the road above, Ross Barney Architects designed canopies to cover the floating paths between the rooms. These canopies are wrapped in metallic paneling, reflecting the dappled light off of the water.
Along with Ross Barney Architects, a large team was brought together to realize the project, including Chicago-based landscape architects Jacobs/Ryan Associates, with Massachusetts-based Sasaki acting as prime consultant. Outside of the design, Friends of the Chicago River and Great Rivers Chicago advocated for the Riverwalk. Both groups are dedicated to remediating the river, with a goal of a clean, swimmable river by 2040.
Ever since the opening of the first sections of the Riverwalk, the new park has been showered with praise and awards. This year, AIA Chicago gave the Riverwalk with its highest honor, a Distinguished Building Honor Award. In addition, the project was awarded the 2012 Divine Detail Award by AIA Chicago, the 2010 Architect magazine “Move” Citation, and AIA Illinois’s 2007 Daniel Burnham Award, among others. Most recently the Riverwalk was awarded The Architect’s Newspaper’s 2016 Urban Design Award.
2016 Best of Design Award for Urban Design: Chicago Riverwalk, Phase 2 by Ross Barney Architects and Sasaki Associates
Commissioned by Chicago’s Department of Transportation and designed by Ross Barney Architects and Sasaki Associates, the Riverwalk transforms derelict urban infrastructure into a one-and-a-half-mile-long civic space, creating an activated riverfront in the heart of Chicago. Each of the project’s three phases takes on the form and program of a different river-based typology: marina, cove, and river theater. With its wine bar, kayak tours, boat docking services, water taxi stop, and dynamic public programming, the Chicago Riverwalk has virtually become the city’s outdoor living room.
Engineering Consultant Alfred Benesch & CompanyLandscape Architects Jacobs / Ryan Associates Granite Coldspring Operable Storefront Solar Innovations
Honorable Mention, Urban Design: Boeddeker Park
Architect: WRNS Studio Location: San Francisco, CA
After poor design additions earned this small inner-city park the moniker “Prison Park,” the Trust for Public Land and the City of San Francisco teamed up with WRNS to create a new park and clubhouse that serves as a model of civic engagement, inspiration, resource conservation, and adaptability, while addressing the community’s needs.Honorable Mention, Urban Design: Positioning Pullman
Architect: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture Location: Chicago, IL
Now a neighborhood of Chicago, Pullman dates to 1880 and is the country’s first planned industrial community. Following its 2015 designation as a National Monument, a wide range of experts came together to launch Positioning Pullman, a collaborative ideas workshop to help Pullman grow into its new role and prepare for increased tourism.
Working waterfronts along the Eastern seaboard are slowly dying out. As rising sea temperatures result in different fish migration patterns and locations, fishermen are struggling to adapt and keep up. The phenomenon is believed by many scientists to be due to climate change—the effects of which are most prominently evidenced on the East Coast according to a 2009 article, “Progress in Oceanography,” which found that waters in the northeast saw their temperatures rise at twice the global rate between 1982 and 2006.
The port of New Bedford, Massachusetts, however, has remained strong. Since 1999 it has been the nation’s number one fishing port, netting 40 million pounds of seafood valued at more than $329 million in 2014, generating economic activity surpassing $1 billion.
Sustaining this economic fruition is a different matter, though. Boston-based consultant Sasaki has produced a study of New Bedford’s waterfront, a scheme that seeks to further the area’s economic longevity.
Proposals vary from advocating investment in particular areas and buildings to introducing other industries to the area. An example of the latter can be seen in the suggestion to enhance access—both public and private—to the Whaling City Seafood Display Auction where national and international buyers bid on fish. “A direct connection between fishing boats and the seafood auctions would improve the efficiency of getting fish to the consumer and make the process a transparent experience for the public,” reported Sasaki. Additionally, this would allow tourists to witness fish trading, something that is popular in, London, Sydney, Tokyo, and even, as Sasaki points out, Chatham, Massachusetts.
As seen in the diagram at the top of the page, Sasaki sorted areas into “water dependency” zones, which helps to form a strategy for future development, allotting certain areas for public interaction and economic activity.
Urban planner and project manager at Sasaki Brie Hensold highlighted the city’s State Pier as another opportunity, describing it as a “lynchpin.” Hensold said that the pier is “heavily dependent” on the water and could be a crucial element for future tourism. In a similar vein as the auction house proposal, Sasaki advocates showcasing New Bedford’s industrial heritage and contemporary operations to tourists and the public. Mystic Seaport, just 80 miles away in Connecticut already does this, charging visitors $26 to walk around the old port and sample its history.
The University of Texas at Austin is the first tier-one public university in the United States to build a new medical school from the ground up in almost 50 years. Dell Medical School, funded largely by a raise in local property taxes, consists of 11 departments and institutes scattered among new buildings on the southern edge of campus and oriented around the school’s idyllic Waller Creek.
The new campus’s master plan, designed to connect the medical district physically and architecturally to the rest of the university and Downtown Austin, was designed by Sasaki Associates and Page Southerland Page. Of its new structures, unquestionably the centerpiece is Page’s and S/L/A/M Collaborative’s Health Learning Building.
The five-story structure is a long, slender volume with massing, height, and materiality all informed by the campus’s materials, colors, and overall feel. It’s essentially divided into two main components: The north-facing “social edge”—a section of open spaces, workshops, and breakout zones expressed by a largely glass wall (including both clear- and clay-colored glass)—and a large, multilevel cantilevered stair. An opaquely-clad section, facing south, east, and west, is marked by intricately CNC-milled limestone walls with punched windows (shaded by terra-cotta colored fins). All areas feature team-based learning spaces and labs, as opposed to traditional classrooms, a strategy meant to promote innovation and collaboration.
“They’re really interested in being revolutionary. Rethinking the healthcare industry,” said Page partner Lawrence Speck. The school’s tagline, he noted, is Rethink Everything.
The surrounding structures, which Speck refers to as “fabric buildings,” are tied together, and to the rest of campus, by materials like stone and metal as well as by their height and massing. The 260,000-square-foot, eight-story Health Discovery Building is primarily for research and houses 97,000 square feet of laboratory space, a 20,000-square-foot vivarium and 15,000 square feet of core labs. The 233,000-square-foot, 10-story Health Transformation Building, an advanced medical office building, will be connected to the Health Discovery Building via a five-level “dry lab,” allowing collaboration among medical professionals and clinical researchers.
The campus is also shooting high in terms of sustainability. The Health Learning Building will be LEED Gold, while the overall district is aiming to be one of the first examples of the Sustainable Sites Initiative, evaluating buildings, landscape architecture, and engineering as a holistic whole.
Things seem to be going so well, said Speck, that the dean has already started talking to the design team about a second phase of building, far ahead of schedule. “They definitely see the architecture as a means to go after their goals,” said Speck, who has been studying, teaching, and building at UT for about 40 years. “I feel like I’m living a dream,” he added.
Curving brick and glass facade heralds Roxbury's resurgence.By locating their new administrative building in beleaguered Roxbury, Boston Public Schools [BPS] made a powerful statement of faith in the area's resurgence."Bringing the BPS right into the heart of Roxbury anchors the redevelopment of the neighborhood," explained Friso van der Steen, manager of international projects at Mecanoo. The Dutch architects collaborated with local firm Sasaki Associates on the project—their first built in the United States—which involved renovating the facades of three historic buildings and weaving them into a coherent whole with a new volume. Described by Mecanoo as "a Bostonian building with a Dutch touch," the structure's curving brick and glass envelope projects a hopeful future for Dudley Square. When Mecanoo and Sasaki won the competition to design the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in 2009, the largely vacant site in Dudley Square, Roxbury's commercial and transportation hub, "contained a number of derelict buildings," recalled van der Steen. These included the 1895 Ferdinand building, which was to be integrated into the project. The architects convinced Mayor Thomas Menino to add two other historic structures to their portfolio: the 1888 Curtis building, and the 1890 Waterman building. "This allowed a design inclusive of the three corners of the triangular plot," said van der Steen. In cooperation with preservation consultants Building Conservation Associates, Mecanoo and Sasaki completely restored the facades of the three existing buildings, each of which was built in a different style. The five-story Ferdinand was constructed of limestone, terra cotta, brick, and granite, and is characterized by large oval windows at the corners and ends of the building, plus a large copper ornamental cornice adorned with cast lions' heads. The red brick Curtis was built in the Queen Anne style, while the Boston Granite Waterman features copper bay windows brought up to snuff by the renovation team. For the new volume, the architects looked both to the surrounding urban fabric and to their own strengths. "Boston has a very rich tradition of using brick," said van der Steen. "Coming from 'the clay country,' The Netherlands, we have used brick in many projects, and we really wanted to use it here to show off the craftsmanship that goes into bricklaying." Working with Iron Spot brick in three different finishes—smooth, velour, and artisan—the design team deployed a variety of bonds—running, stack, and soldier—to create delicate reliefs and shadow effects. "Mecanoo and Sasaki spent a lot of time and effort to design an inviting, permeable public space," said van der Steen. Vertical punch windows render the curving brick facades of the new volume permeable, while the transparent entry invites residents to take advantage of the community resources (including a neighborhood gathering space and facilities for obtaining informal business guidance). A sixth-floor roof deck overlooking downtown Boston makes a visual connection to the city center, and the illuminated mechanical penthouse serves as an orientation point after dark. From the beginning, said van der Steen "we wanted to make one building that united the three old facades. While the historic buildings maintain the feel and scale of Dudley Square, the central volume injects a powerful, tacit modern aesthetic." The word "tacit" is key, he explained, as the discreet character of the undulating brick and glass envelope introduces the new while remaining deferential to the old. "Together, these elements create a rich texture both physically and conceptually, a stepped form which respects the historic volumes of the original buildings."
Sasaki Associates proposes a community-friendly Boston City Hall Plaza buzzing with cultural activities
- Extend plaza into the city + leverage cultural capital
- Design for civic and human scale + populate with variety
- Preserve City Hall’s character + activate underused space
- Enhance infrastructure and natural systems + showcase Boston’s innovation