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.
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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.
TIME magazine has released its list of 2019’s most influential people, and Studio Gang founder and 2011 MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang was the only architect to be included. “Jeanne Gang has the WOW factor,” wrote actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith, who nominated Gang to the list. “Her stunning Aqua, in Chicago, is the tallest building ever built by a woman…Referring to the growing socioeconomic divides in our cities, Jeanne has warned her profession against ‘sorting ourselves into architects of the rich and architects of the poor,’ and focuses instead on discovering ‘new possibilities for the discipline and beyond.’ And it all started with playing in the dirt and making ice castles. Wow.” The Chicago-based Gang was named in the “Titans” category, where TIME honors those at the top of their respective fields, placing Gang shoulder-to-shoulder with golfer Tiger Woods, Disney CEO Bob Iger, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. It appears that the magazine is recognizing one architect every year; in 2018 it was Elizabeth Diller, David Adjaye in 2017, and Bjarke Ingels before that. The only other design professionals singled out this year? Joanna and Chip Gaines of HGTV fame, who were nominated by former quarterback (and current Mets player) Tim Tebow.
After the release of a star-studded shortlist last November and the subsequent proposals in January, the city of Chicago has chosen Studio ORD Joint Venture Partners to design the $2.2 billion O’Hare Global Terminal and Global Concourse at O’Hare International Airport. The winning team consists of Chicago’s own Studio Gang, the international Corgan Associates, as well as local firms Solomon Cordwell Buenz and STL Architects. Studio ORD’s proposal is themed around convergence and features multiple elements that join together in geometrically intricate ways. The terminal’s massing consists of three U-shaped ribbed structures that join in the middle, creating a rooftop “island” and central skylight. Each segment peaks at the center, reminiscent of a mountain. Timber will be used heavily throughout the 2.2-million-square-foot building, as Studio ORD has proposed cladding the underside of each rib, and many elements of the interior, such as the escalators, in wood. Additionally, from the video released as part of their proposal, it seems that the terminal’s interior will be well planted. The team has described their terminal as densely programmed, but easy to navigate, and it appears that the central void below the skylight will anchor the scheme. The O’Hare Global Terminal will replace the existing Terminal 2, which was built in 1963. The new building is part of the $8.5 billion O’Hare 21 expansion, which will modernize the airport and expand its footprint from 5.5 million square feet to 8.9 million square feet. Even though Studio ORD has taken home the design competition’s top prize, the remaining four teams are still in the running to design two new satellite concourses adjacent to Terminal 1. The city will decide on the winner in the coming months. The O’Hare Global Terminal is expected to break ground in 2023.
In recent years, many architects have taken the initiative to design buildings, specifically mid- to high-rise glass buildings, with materials that help reduce bird deaths. It’s a major problem in the United States and one that people are becoming more aware of as recent studies show that hundreds of millions of migratory birds die each year from fatal window strikes. Not only are firms like Studio Gang, KieranTimberlake, and Ennead keeping this top of mind, but Congress is too. This week Representatives Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Morgan Griffith (R-VA) reintroduced a bipartisan bill that would try to prevent bird collisions on new federal buildings. The Bird-Safe Buildings Act would require all public buildings under construction, as well as those acquired or altered by the General Services Administration, to feature bird-safe building materials and designs when at all possible. “Almost one-third of all bird species in the U.S. hold endangerment status, which gives us the responsibility to protect birds from preventable deaths,” said Rep. Quigly in a statement. “By using materials that conceal indoor lighting to the outside, we can dramatically reduce the frequency of birds colliding with glass buildings. With birding activities supporting 620,000 jobs and bringing in $6.2 billion in state tax revenues, this is both an environmental and economic issues with a relatively simple, cost-neutral, humanitarian fix.” The legislation would establish guidelines for public building projects and outline the types of materials most appropriate for glass-clad construction. Through the act, any use of plain glass would only be allowed on the first 40 feet of a building. Only 40 percent of plain glass could be integrated above that height. This isn’t the first time a bird-centric bill has come to Congress. Quigly first brought it up to the House of Representatives in 2010 and has since spread awareness on the topic and advocate for bird safety as vice chair of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC). In addition to Quigly’s efforts, Senator and presidential candidate Cory Booker (D-NJ) also reintroduced a version of the bill, the Federal Bird-Safe Buildings Act of 2017, in the Senate earlier this month. Booker’s bill would require all new federal buildings or renovations be built with at least 60-to-90 percent of non-glass materials. Any glass used would need to be fritted, screened, shaded, or UV-reflective, according to Audubon Pennsylvania. Both bills are backed by animal rights organizations, leaders in sustainable design, and national environmental groups. FXCollaborative, the National Audubon Society, the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Humane Society, and the U.S. Green Building Council, among others, support Quigley’s legislation.
In November 2018, news first broke of the five-firm shortlist competing to design the $8.7 billion Terminal 2 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The star-studded list held both international and local firms, and today, Chicago city officials have made public designs for each team’s proposal. Chicagoans and frequent fliers have until January 23 to vote for their favorite designs and offer feedback, here. The O’Hare 21 expansion, which will expand O’Hare from 5.5 million square feet to 8.9 million square feet, is a pet project of outgoing mayor Rahm Emanuel. O’Hare currently serves nearly 80 million travelers a year, and with demand projected to grow, the extant Terminal 2 (built in 1963) needs to be expanded. The team of Colorado’s Fentress Architects, engineering and architecture firm EXP, Brook Architecture, and Garza Architects have proposed an undulating terminal with a ribbon-like canopy, held up by slender, full-length columns. A split in the terminal’s massing would allow natural light into the center of the building, a necessity given that the team has stacked more floors into its terminal than the other four. Foster + Partners has been working with local firms Epstein and JGMA, and have produced a dramatically curved, cave-like terminal fronted by an enormous wall of glass. Foster’s terminal resembles a draped piece of fabric swaying in the wind that splits into three separate arched halls at the rear but opens to what they’ve dubbed a “theater of aviation” at the tarmac. The use of a crisscrossing truss system topped with glass creates a coffered ceiling effect while also allowing in natural light. From the renderings, it appears that the terminal’s interior will be clad in a warm wood finish. Studio ORD Joint Venture Partners, the team formed by Chicago’s Studio Gang, Corgan Associates, Solomon Cordwell Buenz, and STL Architects, was heavily influenced by themes of convergence and confluence. Three curves join in the middle to carve out space for a massive central skylight. The roof of each curve, formed from ribs that extend into the terminal’s interior, tent in the center; it appears the underside of each will be clad in timber. The team has described their proposal as one that’s layered but easy to navigate. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), who have partnered with Ross Barney Architects and Arup, are proposing ORD, from a shortening of Orchard Field, the original name of O’Hare (unrelated to Studio ORD above). Although their plan is squarer than the others, the SOM team has also designed an undulating roof supported by coffered timber trusses. The roof would cantilever out over the terminal’s tall glass walls, and according to the video, ample landscaping that references Illinois’s nickname as “the Prairie State.” Intriguingly, the terminal would also include enclosed outdoor plazas, complete with tree-strung hammocks, for passengers to relax in. Last but certainly not least, Santiago Calatrava and local firm HKS have presented the most ambitious of the five proposals (though it fits quite snugly within Calatrava’s oeuvre). Resembling a ship’s prow, the glass facade bulges in the center before terminating at a sharp point. Inside, large, unbroken spans are supported by Calatrava’s signature structural “ribs” to create a soaring interior space. The team has also proposed turning the existing parking area to the terminal’s rear into a landscaped “hotel, retail, and business complex,” though there’s no telling how much that would add to the budget. The city and Chicago Department of Aviation are being pushed to make a decision before Mayor Emanuel departs in May of this year, and the project is expected to finish in 2026. Models of each team’s submission can be viewed at the Chicago Architecture Center until January 31, and Terminal 2 will be displaying the new designs digitally until the 31st as well.