In a recent video conference hosted last week by the Daily Memphian, the Memphis River Parks Partnership (MRRP) unveiled the latest designs for Tom Lee Park, an existing public green space along the city’s riverfront that will be revamped and expanded into a new and “beautiful place for community life to flourish on the water’s edge,” per the MRPP. As project architect, Chicago-headquartered Studio Gang is behind the revitalized park’s master plan while SCAPE is serving as landscape architect and park designer. Before this month’s unveiling of the updated park redesign, Studio Gang and SCAPE had publicly revealed a first round of designs in February 2019. (AN shared a very early vision of the new Tom Lee Park in 2017.) Spanning just shy of thirty acres, the $60 million project—the city’s self-described “next civic jewel”—breathes exciting new life into Tom Lee Park, a narrow, mile-long stretch of parkland nestled along the Mississippi that’s already a popular and superlatively scenic spot for jogging, walking, and cycling. The park, situated on former industrial land, also serves as venue for a handful of annual events, two of them involving two things Memphis does exceptionally well: live music and barbecue. The park is named after an African American river worker-turned-local hero who, in 1925, saved a number of lives after the steamboat M.E. Norman capsized in the river. Studio Gang and SCAPE’s redesign of the park, which is the largest and most visible component of a sweeping transformation of the Mississippi riverfront that kicked off in earnest in 2016, entails improved entrance points that directly connect the park to the city’s expansive network of biking and walking trails, new pathways, spacious public lawns, and the creation of five signature pavilions and several signature outdoor spaces spread across a quartet of distinct zones. Moving north to south, these zones are the Civic Gateway, an area located not far from the future new home of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art that will include a new entry plaza at Beale Street and a dramatic new landscape feature dubbed the Cutbank Bluff; the bustling and programming-centric Active Core, where park-goers will find the 20,000-square-foot Civic Canopy and a new children’s play area among other features; the heavily shaded and decidedly more low-key Community Batture, where new spaces include a Peace Walk, Civic Glade, and Meditative Paths; and the Habitat Terraces, an immersive, ecology-centered area that showcases the riverfront’s rich biodiversity and includes new features such as the Canopy Walk and outdoor education spaces. “This new vision for Tom Lee Park is inspired by the vibrant culture and unique geography of Memphis,” said Kate Orff, founding principal of SCAPE, in a statement. “With this design, we wanted to bring the dynamic forms of the Mississippi together with a range of flexible spaces and outdoor rooms, creating places on the riverfront for all Memphians to enjoy.” The grand redesign of Tom Lee Park hit a brief snag last year when the organizers the park’s signature event, the month-long Memphis in May International Festival, expressed concern that the reimagined space wouldn’t leave enough room for large-scale gatherings. Per the Commercial Appeal, following a mayor-ordered mediation between the MRRP and Memphis in May, the design was tweaked to include the aforementioned lawns and additional amenities. (This year’s Memphis in May, which includes the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, the Beale Street Music Festival, and the Great American River Run will now be held late September through October.) Studio Gang and SCAPE, which initiated community engagement initiatives including Studio Gang’s Youth Design Leadership Program, were first announced as the new Tom Lee Park’s co-designers in late 2018. Other project team members include Thornton Tomasetti (structural engineer), Kimley-Horn (civil engineer), and Innovative Engineering Services (MEP engineer). Groundbreaking is anticipated “within the year” as Studio Gang and SCAPE transition from the conceptual to developmental design stage.
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Despite being a speck of a city with a population just north of 100 and no chain restaurants to speak of, Medora can still claim bragging rights as “North Dakota’s #1 Destination.” This is in part because the historic former boomtown-turned-outdoor recreation hub serves as the gateway to the southern unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and is home to, among other attractions, the Medora Musical, a popular Wild West-themed revue held each summer at an amphitheater on the outskirts of town. Now, Medora is poised to become a rather unlikely architectural destination following the announcement that three firms, Snøhetta, Studio Gang, and Henning Larsen, have been selected as finalists in the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library design competition. The three were chosen following an “extensive search and interview process” conducted by the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation (TRPLF), a nonprofit formed in 2014. The three firms, which have yet to submit any formal design concepts or digital renderings (those must be submitted later this summer), were selected out of a pool of a dozen international architectural practices that “affirmatively responded” to a Request for Qualifications made public by the TRPLF last month. Diller Scofidio + Renfro, MASS Design Group, Selldorf Architects, Lake|Flato, and Renzo Piano Building Workshop were among the other firms in the running as semi-finalists. Chicago-based Studio Gang was the only firm of Midwestern provenance in the mix, although the selection of Oslo-headquartered Snøhetta seems apt given North Dakota’s considerable Norwegian heritage. “Theodore Roosevelt overcame many challenges in his life and translated his experiences into a deep appreciation for the value of our natural resources and the power of our landscapes,” said Craig Dykers, founding partner at Snøhetta. “His conservation ambitions have even greater relevance today and we are so proud to be a part of fulfilling his vision." Per the TRPLF, the winning firm will work alongside an executive architect and construction management team based in North Dakota. The designs submitted by Snøhetta, Studio Gang, and Henning Larsen will be made public August 10. Although born and raised in Manhattan and educated at Harvard, Roosevelt is a bona fide North Dakota icon—an honorary cowboy who spent much of his time as 26th President of the United States shuttling between the White House and his Badlands ranch just north of Medora. His impact on the area, particularly within the realm of land conversation, was nothing short than immense. The TRPLF website goes as far as to refer to Roosevelt as a “New Yorker by chance, and a North Dakotan by choice.” And no, Roosevelt doesn’t already have a presidential library. That presidential library system, administered by the National Archives, didn’t begin until the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, with the first being the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, even though Hoover preceded FDR, who was married to Theodore’s Roosevelt niece, Eleanor. “The T.R. Presidential Library & Museum will not be a box in the Badlands with artifacts under glass; the T.R. Library, like T.R.’s life, will be an experience,” explained TRPLF chief executive officer Edward F. O’Keefe in an message published on the project website. “We want every visitor to the T.R. presidential library and museum to walk out understanding the role of nature as a restorative force in T.R.’s life, and that each of us can be the change we want to see in the world.”
Per the Bismarck Tribune, the TRPLF is in the process of acquiring 60 acres of U.S. Forest Service-managed land near the amphitheater that hosts Medora the Musical. The three firms will visit the site in June. The TRPLF is also in the midst of raising $100 million in private donations, which will enable construction of the library to kick off after a design is finalized. The state legislature also authorized a $50 million operational endowment, which will become available after the initial $100 million is secured.
Take a tour of the relaunched https://t.co/92m57u3xCX - read our project brief, hear about the design competition, or see where we hope to build. It’s a little GOOD news in a dark time. Better days ahead ... https://t.co/g5crVnd4tJ— Edward O'Keefe (@edwardokeefe) May 2, 2020
Brought to you with support fromLocated just south of San Francisco's Financial District and blocks away from the bay, MIRA Tower is a housing development that grabs your attention with a highly detailed geometric form. The project joins a spate of recently completed and under construction towers in the Transbay Development Zone, including Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects' Salesforce Tower and the Heller Manus Architects' 181 Fremont. Designed by Studio Gang Architects in collaboration with facade consultant Heintges and fabricator Permasteelisa, the tower presents a spiraling aluminum-and-glass facade arranged in a panoply of bay windows and terraces. Developed by Tishman Speyer, the size of the project is formidable and consists of both a tower and a terrace of townhouses—with a footprint of 50,000 square feet and spanning 700,000 gross square feet. To comply with FAR constraints and rules set out by the district zoning guidelines, the initial design reached a height of 300 feet. Following a request to the city government, the allowable height of the tower was raised to 400 feet with the inclusion of 156 below-market-rate apartments, or just under half the total number of units.
Studio Gang turned towards the architectural vernacular of the San Francisco-area for the overall form and massing of the tower and townhomes, reinterpreting classical bay windows into a contemporary gesture. There are ten different bay geometries: each is an isosceles triangle 14-feet wide and with differing spandrel and glazing dimensions, and with a maximum depth of six-and-a-half feet. Thirty bay window units are found at each level, adding up to, in total, over 1,000 across the tower. Shifting the bay geometries was not the initial direction of the project but a discovery during the design phase that, through offsetting and repeating a set of variations every 10 floors, a profound level of detail could be added to the project without causing undue complications in fabrication and construction. Through the inclusion of bay units across the facade, each residence is afforded daylight from multiple directions and sweeping views of the city at large. Facade consultant Heintges joined the project during the early schematic design phase to both conceptualize the enclosure design and develop a facade system with sufficient waterproofing and compatibility with locational seismic requirements. “In this system, the windows act like a freestanding window wall, loaded at the sill and allowing movement at the header,” said the Studio Gang design team. “The spandrel panels, on the other hand, are rigid enough to take the wind loads and transfer the window loads down to the slab.” The resiliency of the tower is further strengthened by a heavy central core that allows for exterior pieces to move independently of another during seismic events. For the longterm maintenance of the facade (specifically window washing at great heights) Studio Gang and Heintges incorporated a number of intermittent stabilization anchors across the bay units. In collaboration with building maintenance consultant CS Caulkins and cleaning device fabricator Sky Rider, the design team developed a custom platform capable of being lifted between the bays by integrated attachment points. The project broke ground in late 2017 and topped out in mid-2019; Permasteelisa handled the fabrication and installation of the facade panels and typically fitted out each floor in four days, completing the job at the tail end of 2019. The bays were fastened directly to the slab edge from within the building, a measure that, along with the division of spandrel and infill, reduced the use of a crane on-site and in turn lessened energy consumption and neighborhood disruptions stemming from site logistics. “Three-dimensional aluminum spandrels cover the slab edge and are anchored to the post-tensioned slab with steel embeds that extend vertically,” continued the Studio Gang design team. “Behind the aluminum panels are stiffeners that resist wind loads, reduce deflections, and control flatness. In order to realize the steps between bay geometry variations, there is always a horizontal portion of the panel which either faces up as a sill condition or down as a soffit condition.” Studio Gang principal Steve Wiesenthal and Heintges senior principal Karen Brandt will present MIRA Tower at Facades+ San Francisco on January 31 as part of the “Twists and Stacks: Assembly Innovations” panel.
Harvard University is getting larger. The Cambridge-based institution has long-planned to diversify its physical presence in Boston and has finally chosen a developer and several big-name architects to lead the build-out of its innovation campus in the nearby Allston. New York real estate firm Tishman Speyer was selected out of a large bid for the highly-sought-after project, as well as partner studios Henning Larsen, Utile, Studio Gang, and SCAPE. According to The Boston Globe, the team will transform 14 acres of Harvard’s land ownings across the Charles River into the 900,000-square-foot Enterprise Research Campus. “Capturing the spirit of innovation of the Enterprise Research Campus, our design will transform a former industrial site into a fertile new ground for the exchange of ideas and creative expression," said Jeanne Gang, lead architect of the project, in a statement. "We envision a neighborhood brought to life with low-carbon buildings and resilient green spaces that foster community and connect people to their natural environment." Rob Speyer, Tishman Speyer’s chief executive, also told The Globe the site would be developed in partnership with city officials and residents of Allston and will be the first phase in a series of developments totaling 36 acres dedicated to research, learning, and community. “This is going to be the furthest thing from a technology fortress,” said Speyer. “This is going to be a neighborhood, a neighborhood that embraces the diverse community around it.” Allston, though small and largely residential, boasts almost 30,000 people, many of whom are immigrants. Students and young professionals make up the majority of residents, which makes sense given the neighborhood's proximity to Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The new research campus, meant to house a mix of offices, labs, a 250,000-square-foot hotel and conference center, as well as up to 300 apartments, will be located across from the university’s business school and the nearly complete science and engineering complex designed by Behnisch Architekten. According to The Globe, the number of affordable homes on site has yet to be determined, although Harvard has a commitment to the city requirement of at least 13 percent. Another important part of the research campus will be its role as a start-up incubator. It’s been reported Tishman Speyer is partnering with the Cambridge-based shared space company LabCentral on the project. A completion date for the Enterprise Research Campus has yet to be announced.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has appointed Gia Biagi, an urban planner, civil servant, and principal of Studio Gang, to head up the city’s transportation department (CDOT). The decision comes seven months after the previous commissioner resigned ahead of Lightfoot’s inauguration in May. Before joining Studio Gang in 2015 as the firm’s leader of urbanism and civic impact, Biagi served with the Chicago Park District from 2003 to 2015. During her last two years there, she served as the chief of staff. Biagi has also worked as a policy associate under former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daly after finishing her master’s in urban planning at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “Gia’s expertise and years of on-the-ground experience make her the ideal choice to lead our ambitious agenda for CDOT through the coming decade,” said Mayor Lightfoot in a statement. “As we move ahead, I look forward to working side-by-side with Gia and the entire team at CDOT as we implement our vision for equitable, comprehensive urban planning, and transportation that supports every one of our residents, neighborhoods, and businesses, and helps our entire city thrive.” According to the mayor’s office, Biagi will focus on improving traffic issues in downtown Chicago and tie in CDOT’s projects with other critical infrastructure projects such as affordable housing and the mayor’s INVEST South/West Initiative. It’s also likely that Biagi will be working with her former team at Studio Gang on the transit situation surrounding the O’Hare airport expansion. “I am proud that Gia has answered the call to return to public service,” said Jeanne Gang, founding principal of Studio Gang, in a statement. “It is always rewarding to see the members of our team harness the skills they have cultivated in the studio to effect positive change in the world. Gia has been a critical partner in maturing the Studio’s unique approach to our urban scale work that emphasizes mutuality and equity. She remains part of the Studio Gang family, and I am confident that she will accomplish great things for our City.” Biagi’s nomination as CDOT commissioner may be confirmed by the City Council in a vote as early as next month.
As 2019 draws to a close, we’re looking back on some of the events that made it memorable. We’ve rounded up this year’s funniest, most important, and most controversial stories, as well as homages to some of the people we lost. Groundbreaking projects, heartbreaking disaster, and poignant progress toward social change made headlines this year. Take a look back at the highlights and lowlights, from the smoke above Notre Dame to the Pritzker Prize. Notre Dame burns After the Parisian cathedral caught fire this April, architects such as Foster + Partners proposed fanciful renovations and additions to the structure as France launched an international competition to rebuild the spire before the 2024 Summer Olympics. As other architects, engineers, and academics protested the hasty renovation of the building, eventually the French government announced the cathedral would be rebuilt as it was, squashing the speculation. Chief architect Villeneuve has since made his opposition to anything short of an identical reconstruction clear, “I will restore it identically and it will be me, or they will build a modern spire and it won’t be me.” The Pulse Memorial & Museum competition In October, French firm Coldefy & Associés won the design competition for a museum and memorial honoring the victims of the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in 2016. The team, which includes RDAI and Orlando-based HHCP Architects, beat out MVRDV, MASS Design Group, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, among other top competitors. The design is to feature an open-air museum that spirals up to the memorial site and will slice the existing club in half, making room for a pathway through the building. Rikers replacement towers After pushback, New York City decided this fall to cut in half the borough-based jail towers replacing the notorious facilities on Rikers Island, but activists are still outraged; some demand the jails be built elsewhere, while others say the city should close and not replace the existing prisons. This month, the City Planning Commission certified an application that would rezone the island as a public space, a huge step forward in the Mayor's borough-based jail plan. Studio Gang will lead the O’Hare expansion The studio of Chicago’s own Jeanne Gang won a leading role in the expansion of O’Hare International Airport, which includes updating the nearly 60-year-old Terminal 2. Skidmore, Owings, & Merill were later added onto the project to design two new 1.4 billion concourses. Amazon cancels plans for Queens HQ2 Cheers rang out around New York last winter when Amazon relinquished its plans to set up an HQ2 in Queens after substantial local opposition, but—as an April AN article detailed—the company still has a massive footprint in the city and around the country. Plans for the site are still moving forward in a different form, however, as a coalition of community members and organizations have joined together to rethink development that would benefit the neighborhood. Arata Isozaki wins the 2019 Pritzker Prize In March, the great architect, planner, and theorist Arata Isozaki won the top prize in the architecture world, making him one of the eight winners hailing from Japan.
Dutch architecture firm MVRDV has released the first look at the design for its contribution to the new master-planned Mission Rock neighborhood in San Francisco. Called The Canyon, the craggy tower was created in collaboration with the local Perry Architects and inspired by the natural rock formations found throughout California. The 23-story, 380,000-square-foot tower references both San Francisco’s urban grid and its hilly natural landscape, bringing down craggy forms to the flat waterfront, and will feature a variety of offices, residences, and an abundance of open terraces. The Canyon is part of a four-building development being jointly planned by MVRDV along with Studio Gang, WORKac, and Henning Larsen. Each firm was brought on early in the so far 12-year planning and design process to collaboratively devise an overall scheme for the 28-acre site (previously being used for parking), as well as individual buildings that are intended to fit together yet remain each studio's own. SCAPE is also creating a five-acre park for Mission Rock. The neighborhood is being developed by Tishman Speyer in collaboration with the San Francisco Giants, whose ballpark will be set in dialogue with the new towers akin to the approach taken by the Rams and the Colorado Rockies elsewhere. The Canyon is designed to be an entry point to Mission Rock and the “fracture” in its design makes it so that the northeast block acts as a separate building with its own entrance while remaining connected to the other amenities in the tower. The intent, according to MVRDV co-founder Nathalie de Vries was to create a “dynamic design with a great vibe.” Mission Rock is scheduled to break ground in 2020. MVRDV principal Fokke Moerel will be leading the morning keynote, "The Skin is the Message," at Facades+ LA on November 14.
Brought to you with support fromSince rezoning under the tenure of Michael Bloomberg, Downtown Brooklyn has undergone a tremendous transformation from a relatively low-slung commercial district to a burgeoning neighborhood defined by row upon row of residential towers. 11 Hoyt, located on the southern boundary of the district, is another addition to the area set to be completed in 2020. The tower, developed by Tishman Speyer, is Studio Gang's first residential project in New York City and breaks from the fairly lackluster design typology of the area with a unitized curtainwall of scalloped precast concrete panels. The 770,000-square-foot project rises to a height of over 600 feet and is tucked in midblock—the tower will be ringed by a street-wall podium which is in turn topped by a private park.
BPDL), and measure just under twelve feet in both height and width. The panels are composed of white concrete with a thin veneer of light grey calcite. They are arranged in seven sweeping undulations along the east and west elevations, and three to the narrower north and south elevations, creating diagonal strands of bay windows that protrude from the otherwise flush curtainwall. According to Studio Gang senior project leader Arthur Liu, "the design process and digital design tools helped create a small number of discrete facade elements arranged in a way that offered variation and flexibility to the design of the facade while simultaneously aligning with interior spaces and respecting the limits of constructability." The custom aluminum window systems fabricated by Stahibau Pichler were, for the most part, installed by BPDL into the precast while at the factory. In total, over 110,000-square-feet of glass, produced by Guardian Glass and cut by Tvitec, was used for the project. Prior to the construction of the park-topped podium, the multi-lot space has served as a staging ground for the installation of the oversized panels. The panels are split into two categories; the 22,000-pound "scalloped" panel and the 11,000-pound flat panel. Both are hoisted into position and connected for lateral and gravity support at the floor slab with multiple galvanized steel anchor assemblies. A particular challenge of the project was waterproofing associated with the exposed horizontal precast panels. "The waterproofing had to be applied at the BPDL plant to avoid costly and difficult installation in the field and it had to be done immediately at the time of production without disrupting BPDL's plant workflow," said Gilsanz Murray Steficek Partner Achim Hermes. "Due to winter weather restrictions in Alma, Quebec from October to April, the application of the waterproofing had to be done indoors. That meant it had to occur shortly after the precast panels were stripped out of their forms."The approximately 1155 precast concrete panels were produced by Canadian manufacturer Bétons Préfabriqués Du Lac (
Brought to you with support fromThe most recent addition to an already impressive collection of architectural characters inhabiting New York City’s High Line, 40 Tenth Avenue offers a sculpted massing that will maximize its solar exposure along the public park. The project, led by Studio Gang, is situated between the Hudson River and the High Line, with a primary west-facing orientation. To minimize the afternoon shadow cast onto the park, the architects developed a uniquely inverted, stepped setback shape to the building.
glass. Despite a rather complex massing, the geometry of the enclosure was refined into a canted, diamond-shaped panel, surrounded by triangulated panels set perpendicular to the slab edges. The overall effect is a faceted, three-dimensional version of the architectural corner—perhaps a recasting, or import, of the Miesian corner to one of Manhattan’s most significant public spaces. The project adds to a portfolio of high-rises designed by the Chicago-based practice (which also has offices in New York, San Francisco, and Paris) that explore “solar carving” as a formal and performative strategy. “'Solar Carving’ is one strand of a larger body of research about how we can make buildings responsive to the specific qualities if their context and climate,” said Studio Gang design principal Weston Walker. “To maximize sunlight, fresh air, and river views for the public park, we pushed the building toward the West Side Highway and carved away from its southeast and northwest corners according to the incident angles of the sun’s rays.” A growing issue for the High Line is the diminishing degree of sunlight caused by the development of Manhattan’s Far West Side. According to Walker, the city’s prevailing 1916 Zoning Resolution—legislation that mandated ziggurat-like setbacks to boost ventilation and light for city streets—did not anticipate the proliferation of midblock public spaces such as the High Line. “As-of-right zoning would have endangered rather than protected the park by allowing the tower to be built directly over the High Line.” Studio Gang design principal Weston Walker will present 40 Tenth Avenue at Facades+ New York on April 2 as part of the "Optimizing the Form" panel.Clad in a high-performance curtain wall from Italian firm Focchi, the tower integrates 12 types of
It’s official: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) has been selected to design two, $1.4 billion satellite buildings at O’Hare International Airport to pair with Studio Gang’s plan for a new Terminal 2. As the runner up in the competition to secure the site’s new Global Terminal project, the veteran, Chicago-based firm will still be able to cement their vision within O’Hare’s upcoming mega-expansion with their connecting concourses spanning a total of 1.2 million square feet. Slated to break ground in 2022, the structures will be built west of Terminal 2 and link to it via underground tunnels. It’s not completely clear yet what SOM’s design will entail, since Chicago’s Department of Aviation, which announced the news this week, didn’t release any additional design renderings. It is expected, however, that SOM’s buildings will match the tone and palette chosen by Studio ORD Joint Venture Partners (the multi-pronged team led by Studio Gang) for the core concourse. This mean’s SOM’s original proposal, which was designed in tandem with Ross Barney Architects and Arup, and inspired by the airport’s original name, Orchard Field, likely won’t be fully realized. Despite this, the tall glass walls and nature-infused interior in the firm’s initial competition entry might still be integrated somehow into the light-filled and timber-clad architecture of Terminal 2. Jeane Gang said in a statement that all collaborating firms will work together to make a space that “captures the unique culture of Chicago.” Of the other three firms who were shortlisted in the competition, SOM’s appeared to be the most complimentary to Studio ORD’s design. While Terminal 2 is expected to be a rather dramatic piece of architecture with an airy, timber-clad interior, the satellite structures might be as well, albeit smaller and thinner. The proposals by the losing group of finalists, Santiago Calatrava, Foster + Partners, and Fentress Architects, shared these similar qualities but they didn’t the advantage of being a hometown studio. Expected to be complete by 2026, the transformational Global Terminal project is part of former mayor Rahm Emanual’s O’Hare 21 initiative, a push to modernize the 75-year-old O'Hare International Airport and upgrade its passenger experience and commercial offerings. By replacing the current Terminal 2 with the new $8.5 billion spaces by Studio ORD and SOM, the airport will nearly double in size from 5.5 million square feet to 8.9 million square feet.
Herzog & de Meuron beat out 22 design studios, including Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Johnston Marklee, and OMA, for the chance to design a new building for the Brooks Museum of Art—Tennessee’s oldest and largest art museum—in downtown Memphis. The Swiss firm will work alongside local powerhouse archimania to bring the cultural institution into the 21st century with a new, $105 million facility. Slated to rise on top of a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, the upgraded Brooks Museum will be part of an ongoing six-mile development aiming to activate the riverfront with parks, walking paths, as well as civic and recreational structures. Studio Gang is at the helm of reimagining the 30-acre industrial site and the museum will serve as its anchor. According to Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, the chosen site will be a major economic stimulus for the city and signals its embrace of the Mississippi River as its greatest local asset. Herzog & de Meuron's plan for the Brooks Museum, which is expected to be unveiled early next year, will be 112,000-square-foot in size—a quarter larger than the existing facility in Overton Park—and will feature double the amount of storage and art handling space. It will also include expanded public galleries with room for its prestigious permanent collection as well as temporary exhibitions. Classrooms, a theater, a dining area, and a museum store will also be integrated into the design, along with an outdoor sculpture park that’s set to feature rotating public art. In a statement, Executive Director Emily Ballew Neff said the reenvisioned Brooks Museum aims to become a new landmark for the city and she believes the architects will create a “fitting formal response” to the riverfront site and approach the project with “unrivaled sensitivity to materials and craftsmanship.” “Herzog & de Meuron is exceptional among the architectural firms that design art museums for the way it creates galleries for a whole range of art,” she said. “Several architects (at the firm) also happen to have spent formative years in and around Memphis. These team members will provide a kind of local knowledge that will surely contribute.” A strong understanding of this unique western Tennessee landscape will be key in designing the Brooks Museum’s new identity. The building will be constructed on the corner of Front Street and Monroe Street, one block from Memphis’s Main Street to the east and one block from the river to the west. Members of the mound-building Mississippi Culture and, later, the Chickasaw Nation used to occupy the bluff before the Europeans settled the area. In the 19th century, this area served as the city’s old Cotton Row. Today the area is emerging with the rest of downtown Memphis as a major educational, cultural, and business district in which the Brooks Museum is expected to not only spur new development in the urban core, but also attract visitors from all of Tennessee, Northeast Arkansas, and Northern Mississippi.
MacArthur Fellows Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang and Kate Orff of SCAPE Landscape Architecture are teaming up to re-envision the prestigious Arkansas Arts Center (AAC) and adjacent MacArthur Park in Little Rock, Arkansas. Set to break ground this fall, the 127,000-square-foot project—both a renovation and new construction effort—will help clarify the 104-year-old cultural institution’s interior organization, while also amplifying its presence in the historic landscape with a contemporary visual identity. Gang said the firm’s vision will “unlock new connections” between the existing programming on site, which includes a renowned Museum School, Children’s Theatre, and a gallery space that hosts the AAC’s permanent art collection. Since the Center opened on this site in 1937, several major additions have been built. By 1963, the museum had five galleries, four studio classrooms, sculpture courtyards, an art library, and a 381-seat theater, but according to Studio Gang, the AAC suffered from inefficient operational adjacencies—meaning it’s hard for visitors to get from one area to the other. To fix this issue, the design team will create what they call a “stem” that cuts through and “blossoms” to the north and south of the Center. A pleated, thin-plate structure that appears to lightly undulate across the site and into MacArthur Park, the new architecture will not only anchor new visitor amenities but also define a new public gallery and gathering space while simultaneously weaving together the AAC’s various programs. “New daylit spaces linked through the core of the Center will facilitate movement and create a series of vibrant, new public spaces for social interaction, education, and appreciation for the arts,” said Gang in a statement. Initial aerial renderings reveal the way this simple architecture intervention will strengthen the Center’s programming and relationship with the park. Located on the south side of the museum on a current parking lot, Studio Gang has designed a 10,000-square-foot outdoor pavilion underneath the structural canopy with room for dining and respite in the shade. The transparent skin of the structure will provide visitors with a direct connection to nature. In time, SCAPE’s landscape addition, which will include 2,200 linear feet of new paths and trails, as well as 250 trees, will merge with the Center’s canopy to become a parkland forest. Just as important to the revitalization project will be the renovation of all existing facilities on site. Studio Gang will renovate the original 1937 Museum of Fine Arts facade (the AAC’s former name) which serves as the northern entrance. According to the architects, from there they will “excavate” the existing building—a series of fortress-like spaces—by opening up the lecture hall, theater, and studios, among others parts to the new public areas. For example, on the north end, there will be a 5,500-square-foot "Cultural Living Room" that can be both a flexible gathering space or play host to special events. The massive cultural project is being backed by an ambitious $128 million fundraising campaign. So far, $118 million has already been raised, including a $31,245,000 commitment from the City of Little Rock. The new Arkansas Arts Center is expected to be complete in early 2022.