Posts tagged with "sasaki":

Oakland A’s new stadium up in the air after community pushback

After news broke last month that the Oakland A’s had finally settled on a site for their new ballpark at Oakland’s Peralta Community College District, their plans have been derailed after the school decided to cancel negotiations with the team. With plans for the stadium, previously to have been designed by SasakiSnøhettaStudio T-Square, and HOK, now potentially derailed, it also remains to be seen if the A’s will remain in Oakland. Sasaki, Snøhetta, and Oakland-based Studio T-Square would have led master planning and urban design efforts, alongside building out a community engagement process. HOK and Snøhetta were to collaborate on the design of the new ballpark, and to make sure that it wouldn’t remain an “insular” experience. So-called “stadium districts” are becoming fairly common around the country, as team owners and designers have been seeking to jumpstart investment around areas that already experience a high amount of foot traffic. Though no renderings had been released, construction was expected to have finished by 2023. While the Peralta Community College site was chosen after a years-long search by the A’s, nothing had been finalized by their decision to put the new stadium there. Besides needing to finalize land negotiations with Peralta, the team had been facing ardent pushback from Chinatown locals worried about gentrification, from the Audubon society over the impact that development would have on bird migration patterns at the nearby Lake Merritt, and from politicians raising other concerns from their constituents. Compounding the problems the A’s were facing, much of the 15-acre site has been contaminated with an unknown amount of gasoline and other toxic substances and would have needed costly remediation. Although business leaders in Oakland had rallied in support of the investments the new stadium would generate, Peralta’s board of trustees chose to discontinue conversations with the A’s on Tuesday. “We are shocked by Peralta’s decision to not move forward,” the A’s said in a statement released this morning. “All we wanted to do was enter into a conversation about how to make this work for all of Oakland, Laney, and the Peralta Community College District. We are disappointed that we will not have that opportunity.” The A’s had already pledged to pay for development out of their own pockets, but this promise was dependent on revenue projections from a new ballpark, not the redevelopment of their existing Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. As the only remaining professional sports team in Oakland, the pressure was on for the A’s to choose a site in the city, but with their top pick off the table, the Athletics could be enticed to leave. As A’s President Dave Kaval recently told the San Francisco Chronicle, there was no “plan B” if Peralta didn’t work out.

Snøhetta and Sasaki among four firms tapped for the Oakland A’s new stadium

The Oakland Athletics have finally settled on a site for their new ballpark, and have hired Sasaki, Snøhetta, Studio T-Square, and HOK to not only design the stadium, but to also better integrate it into the surrounding urban fabric. Ending years of contentious debate over where to build, the A’s have chosen the lakeside Peralta Community College District in downtown Oakland, California. Sasaki, Snøhetta, and Oakland-based Studio T-Square will lead master planning, urban design efforts, and build a community engagement process. HOK and Snøhetta will collaborate on the design of the new ballpark and how it interacts with the master plan. No images have been released as of yet, but the team and design firms involved are hoping that the new stadium will catalyze investment along Lake Merritt without alienating the community. “Our goal is to create the best ballpark experience for our fans, players, and community. It is critical for our ballpark to truly integrate into the fabric of Oakland,” said Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval, in a press release. Craig Dykers, founding partner at Snøhetta, also stressed that the project wouldn’t be an insular experience. “With its new home closer to downtown Oakland, the project will re-invigorate the relationship between the A’s and the city as a new kind of ballpark that acts as a center for sport, wellness and culture,” he said. Even with the promised outreach, community groups have been opposed to the plan owing to fears of displacement, gentrification, and potential environmental damage to the sensitive estuaries nearby. Another potential wrench in the plan is the presence of hazardous materials in the soil that would need to be remediated. An unknown amount of gasoline and other toxic substances have seeped into the ground and water at the site over the years, and no one knows how much the clean up will cost. Still, the new stadium will be a step up for the Athletics, set to become the only major league sports team in Oakland after the Raiders leave in 2019. The A's current Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is a 51-year-old concrete eyesore that the team currently shares with the Raiders, and that regularly floods with sewage when the plumbing backs up. The team claims that the new stadium will be privately funded and put up to $3.05 billion into the local economy, and that construction should finish in 2023.

Houston unveils post-Harvey downtown master plan

Downtown Houston released an ambitious master plan on Friday, the culmination of 18 months of work and input from hundreds of stakeholders. Creating walkable streets, a five-mile green loop around the city’s core, new design guidelines and more, the 20-year plan puts an emphasis on sustainable, resilient development. A product of the Houston Downtown Management District (Downtown District), a nonprofit focused on improving the quality of life in their district, and Central Houston Inc., the proposal is a spiritual successor to Houston’s 2012 Downtown Living Initiative. Although Houston lacks zoning codes, the original Downtown Living Initiative successfully encouraged growth in the city through a series of public/private partnerships, tax rebates for construction, and reinvestments into downtown Houston’s infrastructure. Asakura Robinson and Sasaki had consulting roles in the process, while HKS Architects and Harris Kornberg Architects were among the architecture firms involved in the plan's leadership group. With the new plan’s release in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, planners, designers and city officials have also turned their focus towards disaster mitigation. Besides increasing the amount of green space in the district, the proposal has set aside land for detention areas and has tried to shift away from car-dominated urban planning. City officials are expecting a population boom from 7,500 to 30,000 over the next 20 years, and are calling for the construction of 12,000 new residential units to deal with the demand. Along with building more schools and predicting a 20 percent increase in the workforce, the plan calls for keeping residential developments centralized and integrated with mass transit. As with the plan that preceded this one, questions over how affordable these developments would be have yet to be answered. Bob Eury, president of Central Houston Inc, spoke to the Houston Chronicle about the challenges involved with bringing affordable housing to this type of development. "Unless we can find public land so you can basically write off the land costs, it's extremely challenging to build affordable high-density housing without a continuous subsidy," he said. The project’s crowning jewel is its five-mile long Green Loop, a band of parks and bike lanes that would wrap the downtown area and connect it with further-flung neighborhoods. Aided by the ongoing North Houston Highway Improvement Project, a highway readjustment by the Texas Department of Transportation, downtown Houston has an unprecedented chance to readjust its urban borders. The complete Plan Downtown: Converging Culture, Lifestyle & Commerce presentation is available here.

Sasaki uses big data and technology to revitalize buildings and cities

Technology and big data go hand-in-hand and Boston-based firm Sasaki is one of the firms leading the way. Sasaki's work touches on economic activity, master planning, urban regeneration, and resiliency. Big data is crucial for such work.

Brad Barnett is a director of strategies at Sasaki. Within this position, his role includes city planning, designing, and data visualization as well as engaging designers with people that he described to The Architect's Newspaper (AN) as being "from the pure technology side."

"Cities so far have been inert objects," said Barnett. "They are built to be offices and dwellings. We are looking at them being multi-layered." Barnett continued to explain how society is evolving to cater to technology at varying levels. Sensors can help you park your car, but they can also be used to monitor pedestrian flow within the built environment. The latter is being looked into by Sasaki with traffic signals that can analyze car traffic in Boston.

An example of big data in use can be seen with Sasaki's work in the city of Houston where Sasaki is using data from Yelp! to aid the city's understanding the downtown districts. "This can help them understand which areas are in demand during the day and night and why: for shopping, eating, being entertained etc. This can help us look at what time of day people need access to certain amenities."

Another incidence of this approach being used is evident in Sasaki's plan for New Bedford, a New England town with a working waterfront. By analyzing pedestrian circulation, Sasaki was able to pinpoint areas for potential economic development using data visualization cartographically in the process. Further coverage by AN of that scheme can be seen here.

Technology integration, meanwhile, can be found at the University of Missouri–Kansas City Miller Nichols Library, another project on which the Boston-based firm worked. Here, a dense central core of book stacks was moved to a new wing that housed an Automatic Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS). Subsequently, the reduction in square footage (usually required by traditional book stacks) minimized site disturbance and preserved green space. Energy loads for lighting, temperature, and humidity are all reduced in the ASRS compared to the requirements of spaces that integrate shelving with populated study space.

Sasaki described the original Miller Nichols Library as a "fortress-like structure typical of the Brutalist architectural style of the 1960s." Retrofitting is an emerging topic in architecture discourse as typologies become redundant in certain respects and new technology comes around.

At AN's upcoming Facades+ conference in Boston, this topic will be addressed in a panel on modernist performance retrofitting. Another panel, meanwhile, will look at how urban data is informing facade design. Barnett will be on hand at the event to act as a panel moderator.

The event's co-chair is Senior Associate at Sasaki, Brad Prestbo. Prestbo is also a co-founder of MakeTank!, an upcoming program at the Boston Society of Architects (BSA) that looks how technology is changing the way architects make and build. MakeTank! aims to engage makers throughout New England and aims to serve architecture studios that do not have access to such [technological] facilities. "It is a group devoted to exploring the frontiers of fabrication and design," Prestbo told AN.

To find out more about the Facades+ Boston conference and register, visit facadesplus.com. Seating is limited.