Spatial Affairs Bureau can get a lot done. Started in 2010, the multifaceted landscape, architecture, and design practice led by Peter Culley boasts a wide array of diverse and engaging projects in the United States and England, with offices in London, Los Angeles, and Richmond, Virginia. With a background in landscape-focused cultural projects—Culley earned his stripes at London-based landscape architecture practice Gustafson Porter + Bowman in the late 1990s—Spatial Affairs pursues an intellectually nimble practice by pushing project constraints toward broad ends that encompass everything from “interior landscapes” to urban-scaled configurations. As the number of commissions in hand has multiplied over the years, the practice has become well-versed in combining the advice of expert consultants with its own penchant for programmatic and spatial innovation. It does so in an effort to create layered material and historic conditions that always push back toward the landscape in some form or another. The approach has resulted in a string of under-the-radar but dramatically good-looking commissions that aim to create something greater—and more cohesive—than the typical, rigidly defined arenas of normative practice might allow. Aside from the work profiled here, Spatial Affairs Bureau has a number of other significant projects on the way, including several sustainable houses in Los Angeles, a master plan and remodel of the headquarters for advertising agency TBWA\Chiat\Day, and a new pedestrian path and bicycle redevelopment scheme for the Richmond, Virginia, waterfront. Birmingham Markets Park As the city of Birmingham, England, looks to capitalize on a historic opportunity to create a new major civic space and park, Spatial Affairs is working to enrich a community-led proposal by laying out new residential, commercial, and public spaces in synergy with greenery and public health goals. To highlight the potential of the site, Spatial Affairs has developed an alternative approach that appropriates the leftover footprint of a redundant public market as the heart of the new parks complex. The project aims not only to meet the city's stated commercial and residential development goals, but also to use urban design in an effort to focus the benefits of rising land values surrounding the site toward community needs. Metropolitan Museum of Art Spatial Affairs Bureau has worked on several projects with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, both as a part of an interdisciplinary team that provided new outdoor seating areas for the museum’s Fifth Avenue location, and for several other projects as an independent contractor, including at the Met Breuer building. As part of its work with the Met, for example, the firm developed a pair of black metal panel–wrapped security buildings to flank the museum. Here, Culley deploys gently tapering forms designed to “respond to the classical architecture and soften the impact of larger elements as they meet the ground.” The approach was mirrored in a series of sleek bronze ticketing kiosks Culley created to help relieve crowding at both museum locations. Crosstown Arts The Contemporary Art Center in Memphis, Tennessee, is an arts and culture complex strategically carved out from within the hulking mass of a landmarked—but currently underutilized—1.5 million-square-foot former Sears warehouse and distribution center. The venue includes galleries, shared art making facilities, offices, artist-in-residence studios, and a bar. These amenities encompass portions of the first two floors of the warehouse, including a 10-story light well located at the center of the complex. With a distinctive, curving red staircase and excavated flared concrete columns populating the main “hypostyle” lobby, the complex represents an attempt to breathe new social life into a long-forgotten relic. Bouverie Mews Culley is also pushing the envelope in terms of housing, especially with the firm’s proposal for a planned 5,400-square-foot arts and residential compound in North London. There, the architect is working on a ground-up duplex anchored by studio space and a sculpture court. The Passive House complex is located atop a former brownfield site and is sandwiched between existing multifamily homes, warehouses, and the Grade II Listed Abney Park Cemetery Wall. Due to the landlocked project site, designs for the complex include multi-tiered gardens, precisely calibrated frameless skylights, and an interior layout that emphasizes borrowed daylight and views between different project areas.
Posts tagged with "Spatial Affairs Bureau":
Los Angeles and London–based Spatial Affairs Bureau has unveiled a series of transformative concept designs for a major new downtown linear park that would reconnect several communities and establish key points of access to the historic falls of the James River in Richmond, Virginia. The so-called Richmond BridgePark plan has been in the works for over six years as part of an expanding set of improvements slated for the city’s waterfront, where several historic and modern bridges cross over the James River. The aim of the project is to connect the city’s downtown and South Side neighborhoods by creating new pieces of pedestrian-focused urban infrastructure that can draw both sides of the city together. Within a short section of the downtown area, the river is crossed by bridges at 14th and Manchester Streets as well as by State Route 301 and Interstate 95, among other crossings. The latter three spans were built as part of modernization efforts during the mid-20th Century, but their wide configurations and oversize arterials have isolated spaces and dislocated communities. With their expansive plan, Spatial Affairs is aiming to remedy at least some of these malignant conditions by “borrowing” space from the bridges in order to create a pedestrian boardwalk across the river. The plan also calls for transforming an existing but disused median along the bridge into a “bicycle superhighway” that could carry bicycle commuters over the river, as well. The paths will have generously landscaped footholds on either side of the river, according to renderings, and will extend formally and informally into the neighborhoods on either side. The reworked transportation route will also host several of the city’s Pulse high-speed bus lines and add a new interconnected park system studded with event spaces and public art. Another aim for the project is to create a new people-centered route that offers expansive views of a historic train viaduct that was burned down at the conclusion of the American Civil War. The remaining foundation elements and ruins will be visible from the pedestrian bridge and will serve as a focal point for the entire project. The project is moving into the final design stages over the next couple of years as work continues on a private fundraising campaign aimed at funding the plan. Meanwhile, backers of the BridgePark are moving toward getting the city to include the initiative in the city’s forthcoming development plans. Regarding the project, Peter Culley, director at Spatial Affairs said, “We are at a very exciting stage in what is an appropriately ambitious project taking its place as part of Richmond’s impressive renaissance as a river city with important histories now ready to be reexamined.” Culley added, “As cars begin to take a second place in our cities, human stories and experiences can appropriately move up to the front of the line.” In a press release, BridgePark Foundation President, Ted Elmore, states, “We are thrilled to work with the community and this extraordinarily accomplished team in examining our past and envisioning monuments to our future. The popularity of newly achieved river initiatives, such as The Potterfield Bridge, coupled with exciting projects pending downtown make now an ideal time for us to contribute a bold vision to our City.” The unveiling of the conceptual plan for the project follows a six-year-long community outreach effort and the completion of an ideas study by Spatial Affairs Bureau in 2015. Spatial Affairs has an office in Richmond to help coordinate the project. Buro Happold New York is on board for structural and economic impact studies for the project with Sam Schwartz Engineering working on the pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular transportation strategies. Timmons Group will provide civil engineering services while Gardiner & Theobald will conduct cost estimation for the project. A timeline for completion of the park has not been announced.