Posts tagged with "Studio Gang":

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Studio Gang’s AMNH expansion gets the green light from Landmarks Preservation Commission

Today the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) unanimously approved plans for a major expansion to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York. In almost 90 pages of presentation materials, representatives from Studio Gang, preservation consultants Higgins Quasebarth & Partners, and landscape architects Reed Hilderbrand demonstrated to the commission and the public how they would demolish three museum buildings constructed between 1874 and 1935 to make way for the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation. In a radical but elegant departure from AMNH's mélange of Victorian gothic, Beaux Arts, Richardson Romanesque, and contemporary buildings, the 195,000-square-foot Gilder Center, inside and out, takes formal cues from geological strata, glacier-gouged caves, curving canyons, and blocks of glacial ice. "Sleekness was never a goal—we wanted a richness of texture," explained Studio Gang design principal Wes Walker, in a pre-meeting model walkthrough with The Architect's Newspaper (AN). The pink Milford granite the designers intend to use for the facade is the same stone used for Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall, the museum's main entrance on Central Park West. The Gilder Center granite will be sliced into two- and three-inch-thick bricks and arranged in diagonal bands on the facade to create the attractive variation that's produced by ornament on the neighboring 19th-century buildings. Bill Higgins (of Higgins Quasebarth) and Jeanne Gang detailed how the unconventional form will fit in with—and enhance—those buildings: The original, aggressively rectilinear master plan calls for architectural focal points on each of the museum's main facades. The angular forms are complemented by a playful, curvilinear landscape—plans show undulating paths that flank the imposing buildings. The rectangle/curve relationship remains at the Teddy Roosevelt entrance, and the Gilder Center, directly across the complex, extends and amplifies historic precedent—"[it's] an insertion into the historic fabric," said Gang. For AMNH, the new building is both an addition and connective tissue that bridges disparate programs. Museum president Ellen Futter explained that her institution needs to expand to accommodate five million annual visitors: Though its classroom and exhibition space will augment the museum's offerings, the Gilder Center is also a switchboard, connecting ten buildings at 30 different points. Inside and out, transparency and accessibility define the design. Vertical glazing on the facade lets visitors see deep into the structure, like looking into a fjord. Where the museums of past centuries defined their monumentality with great granite steps, the Gilder Center's no-step entrance allows for seamless access for people with mobility impairments or strollers. The addition will also open up sightlines to Building One, AMNH's first structure, via a passageway and additional gallery space. Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer, councilperson Helen Rosenthal's office, AIA New York, the Van Alen Institute, and the Columbus Avenue BID spoke in support of the addition, but preservation and neighborhood parks groups were not as bullish on the project. The Historic Districts Council (HDC), while offering that the Gilder Center "defers sensitively" to existing buildings, questioned the facade detailing and expressed concern about the building's exposed interior. The structural concrete columns that define the main space, HDC claims, are not clad in the same quality material as the facade. The group suggested Studio Gang refine the design further. Residents and members of park preservation groups spoke out against the Gilder Center because it encroaches on Theodore Roosevelt Park, and its construction requires the removal of seven mature trees. In response, Reed Hildebrand divided the layout into slow and fast programs—slow, or passive recreational activity will be directed away from the Gilder Center entrance, a meandering paved walkway shaded by (new) trees and curving flower beds. 80 percent of the addition will occupy the museum's existing footprint, and less than two percent of the 10-acre park will be sacrificed to AMNH. Noting the designers' willingness to adjust their designs in response to community concerns, the commissioners offered additional suggestions. Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said that the cultural aspect of the museum was often absent from the conversation around the design, while other members suggested that the architects reconsider the stucco planned for a northern exterior wall. Commissioner Frederick Bland, an architect, noted that the essence of AMNH is its "excellent" architecture that has accrued on the site over time. He praised the design team's vision and level of detailing, adding that at this stage it can be dangerous to intrude on the details of another architects' design vocabulary. "Very seldom do you see a design this soaring and open," said commissioner Wellington Chen. "It's a stunning piece of architecture—the commission can be proud in approving the project," said Srinivasan. After hours of tension, a palpable wave of relief emanated from the assembled architects. After the LPC's vote, a smiling Jeanne Gang told AN that her team had to move the modeling and detailing much farther along than usual for this round of approvals. "We had to make the parametric model way ahead to figure out the coursing and interfaces with the masonry," she said. Next, the Gilder Center moves onto design development and through the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process towards an expected groundbreaking next year.
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Studio Gang modifies plans for contentious American Museum of Natural History garden

Responding to community pressure, Chicago-based Studio Gang and Cambridge, Massachusetts-based landscape architects Reed Hilderbrand have changed the design of the controversial gardens surrounding their addition to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City. This week the architects re-submitted plans for the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) for approval. The $325 million expansion, designed to evoke glaciers and geologic formations, will augment the museum's classroom and exhibition space. The revised plans account for community concerns over the footprint of the six-story addition, particularly its encroachment onto Theodore Roosevelt Park, a public space in front of the AMNH at West 79th Street and Columbus Avenue. Instead of occupying a half-acre, as originally proposed, Studio Gang's scheme was whittled down to a quarter-acre in size. Pathways were reconfigured so leisure-seeking visitors can avoid quick-walking museum-goers seeking the most direct path the museum's entrances and exits. A service driveway was rerouted to save a stately English elm and pin oak; now only seven trees will be removed for the addition. Although flora will be saved, the addition actually grew eight percent in its latest iteration, to about 235,000 square feet, the Wall Street Journal reports. The schematic design shows that some passageways were altered and walls taken down to accommodate the upsizing, increasing the budget but not the building's footprint. The AMNH is hosting an information session next week where members of the public can learn more about the proposed changes.
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National Building Museum picks Studio Gang for 2017 summer installation

The National Building Museum has announced Studio Gang Architects as the designers of the 2017 Summer Block Party Installation. This year’s installation, ICEBERGS, was designed by James Corner Field Operations. Previous installations include BIG Maze by Bjarke Ingles Group and The BEACH by Snarkitecture. In 2003 Studio Gang designed another installation for the National Building Museum, a hanging translucent marble curtain that was part of  in the Masonry Variations exhibit. Firm founder Jeanne Gang has also served as an advisor for the National Building Museum’s Intelligent Cities project. “We are delighted to embark on a new collaboration with Studio Gang over the next year,” said Chase W. Rynd, executive director of the National Building Museum, in a press release. “With their creativity and impeccable design credentials, they are poised to reimagine the possibilities of this series.” Details will be announced in early 2017, with a public opening planned for July 4th through Labor Day 2017. “It’s great to return to the National Building Museum, where our Marble Curtain was such an important early project for Studio Gang, one that informed our thinking about material innovation and research,” remarked Jeanne Gang in a press release. “We are looking forward to building on the legacy and energy of the summer series, in the historic space of the Museum’s Great Hall.”
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Studio Gang proposes net-zero school with three-acre urban farm (complete with its own goat)

In the near future, students at the Academy for Global Citizenship will learn firsthand how a net-zero building works, as their campus will collect enough solar power to be completely off the grid. Chances are, though, the thing they will remember most distinctly about their unconventional school will be that it included a working farm, complete with a goat.

The Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC) on the Southwest Side of Chicago is already unlike nearly any other K-8 school around. Once it moves out of its now-cramped makeshift space into a brand-new, Studio Gang–designed campus, it will be truly one of a kind.

The charter school, as the name would suggest, was conceived with a focus on global stewardship and was in dire need of a space that better reflected its pedagogy and ambitions. With this charge, Chicago- and New York–based Studio Gang set out to produce a campus that would be a productive space for students, faculty, and the surrounding community. Conceived as a series of flexible “neighborhoods” with indoor and outdoor learning environments, the project is designed without typical circulation space. Rather, students will walk through “Wonder Paths” that wind fluidly though indoors and outdoors. Along these paths students will encounter laboratories, presentation spaces, learning stations, and play areas. A central courtyard will connect all of these diverse programs.

The main structure’s design takes cues from industrial building typologies to maximize natural light and solar collection. A sawtooth roofline is set at the optimal angle for solar power, while allowing copious amounts of north light into the learning spaces. Yet the passive and active solar aspects of the project are only part of the school’s sustainability goals. Perhaps the most notable of the school’s amenities is a three-acre urban farm. Along with producing its own power, the school will also produce a portion of its own food. Students will help grow breakfast and lunch for their classmates. The school believes the understanding of agriculture is an important part both of being a global citizen and of creating one’s relationship to food. Anchoring the farm is a greenhouse-barn where classes and presentations can be held for students and the community. “The whole thing is really all about growing a power- and food-conscious community and designing a replicable system that can be used by other schools in the future,” firm founder Jeanne Gang said. Working with Studio Gang on the project are Chicago-based landscape architects site design group, ltd. and New York–based environmental consultants Atelier Ten. The school will be completely one of a kind when finished, but the design is specifically done in such a way that it can be repeated around the world. To do so, prefabricated systems and readily accessible materials are being specified. While Studio Gang is garnering international attention for soaring skyscrapers, it continues to work on smaller-scale projects for socially minded clients. The Academy for Global Citizenship adds to the firm’s list of educational and community projects that includes the award-winning Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, the SOS Children’s Villages Lavezzorio Community Center, and the Columbia College Chicago Media Production Center.
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Herzog & de Meuron, Studio Gang, and DS+R among those shortlisted for new Royal College of Art campus in South London

The Royal College of Art (RCA) in London has a unveiled a shortlist of seven invited studios that will compete to design the school's new $140 million campus in Battersea, South London. The list features practices from Europe and the U.S. including Swiss duo Herzog & de Meuron, Chicago-based Studio Gang and Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DSR) from New York. Organized by Malcolm Reading Consultants, who claim that the college is set to "embark upon the most exciting phase of development" in its 179 year history, the RCA will align itself into being a primarily science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics-based institution. As a result, it aims to coalesce these disciplines to "create transformational impact in such areas as connected cities; robotics, the internet of things and intelligent mobility; sustainability, mass migration and city design." Specifically, this will include the expansion of the RCA's "research and knowledge exchange centers into the domains of computer and materials science, the impact of the digital economy, and intelligent mobility." The shortlisted practices are:
  • Christian Kerez (Switzerland)
  • Diller Scofidio + Renfro (U.S.)
  • Herzog & de Meuron (Switzerland)
  • Lacaton & Vassal (France)
  • Robbrecht en Daem architecten (Belgium)
  • Serie Architects (UK/Singapore)
  • Studio Gang (U.S.)
"At the centre of the Battersea South vision are the practices of artists and designers," said Dean of Architecture Dr. Adrian Lahoud. "The project should support and inspire their work, offering an incredible opportunity to explore new frontiers in learning and research in art and design." Malcolm Reading, competition director, added: "This is a dazzling list of architectural thought-leaders who have connected with a project that will create a renewed sense of place in this part of Battersea.  We very much look forward to the teams’ analyses of the brief at the second stage of the competition." The selection panel members include:
  • Dr. Paul Thompson (Chair)
  • Professor Naren Barfield
  • Richard Benson
  • Dr. Adrian Lahoud
  • Professor Judith Mottram
  • Baroness Gail Rebuck
  • Alan Leibowitz (lay member of Council)
  • Professor Ricky Burdett (lay member of Council)
  • Professor Rachel Cooper OBE (lay member of Council)
  • Paola Antonelli
  • Marcus Cole (student)
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Studio Gang’s ecological firehouse and training facility breaks ground today

Ground has broke on the site of the Fire Department of New York's (FDNY) newest firehouse, designed by Chicago-based Studio Gang for the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC). Set to cost $32 million, the 21,000-square-foot building will sit on 1815 Sterling Place in Brownsville, Brooklyn and become the new home of the FDNY's Rescue Company 2.  Founded in 1925, Rescue Company 2 is one of FDNY’s five rescue companies, elite units that handle a variety of emergency situations ranging from building collapses, high-angle rescues, hazardous materials incidents, water rescues as well as fires. In their new location, Rescue Company 2 will use the building to train for all these scenarios and many more. The project is Studio Gang's first in New York and as a result they have opened up a new Manhattan office. The Architect's Newspaper attended the groundbreaking ceremony and spoke with Studio Gang design principle Weston Walker about the firm's design process and approach to the project. "We wanted the design to fit the [low-rise] scale of the street, while accommodating all the unusual training that will take place here" Walker said. Training facilities will also include specific areas for trench rescue and confined space rescue training as well as a room to simulate the smoke-filled environments in which firefighters operate, and an elevated area that allows firefighters to train to rappel from the roof of a building to perform a rescue. The project's design drivers were "apertures and openings" that paid heavy respect to both the site and typology traditions. Demonstrating this, he pointed out the numerous openings—visible in the renders above—that "ease the building's oppressiveness" in massing. A subtractive structure, the openings allow for interior landscaping as well as facilitate natural ventilation. This is also aided by the fact that the building will be the first firehouse in New York to have a drive-through concourse on the ground floor. The building aims to be as energy efficient as possible. Due to sit 500 feet below the structure is a geothermal heating system. A solar water heating system has also been included which is due to reduce the energy required to heat and cool the building by a third. In addition to this, a green roof and permeable pavement will be implemented to aid the reduction of stormwater runoff and further cut down on the firehouse's carbon footprint.  “In keeping with Mayor de Blasio’s vision for a healthier, more sustainable and resilient city, DDC is proud to partner with FDNY to provide New York’s bravest with a state-of-the-art training and housing facility that is energy efficient and can serve as a beacon of community engagement,” said DDC commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora in a press release. “The design aims to reduce carbon emissions, conserve water and contribute to a healthy urban environment through integrating environmentally responsible practices. A geothermal system, solar water heating system, permeable pavement and a green roof will contribute to this goal and strengthen the City’s commitment to building sustainable, environmentally friendly buildings.” “We are proud to break ground on a state-of-the-art new home for Brooklyn’s Rescue Company 2.  This firehouse will be a leader in energy efficiency, moving our city closer to an environmentally sustainable and resilient future. With ample space for tools and a training facility on the roof, this firehouse will be the impressive space that New York’s bravest deserve,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a press release. 
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National Aquarium in Baltimore to build North America’s first sanctuary for “retired” dolphins

Designers have created sanctuaries for elephants, chimpanzees and big cats. The National Aquarium in Baltimore announced today that it will design and build North America’s first “sanctuary” for dolphins. The project will enable the institution to move its eight Atlantic bottlenose dolphins out of public display and into the protected seaside habitat by the end of 2020, paving the way for major changes to its Inner Harbor campus. A location for the dolphin sanctuary—likely farther south, in warmer climates closer to the equator—has not been selected, but aquarium officials say it will provide a new option for how dolphins can live in human care. No designer has been selected, but the aquarium has been working closely for the past two years with architect Jeanne Gang, of Studio Gang Architects. Gang’s office has prepared a rendering showing what the dolphin sanctuary might look like. Several years ago, she led an architecture class at Rice University and her assignment for the class was to design a dolphin sanctuary off the coast of Texas. Aquarium Chief Executive Officer John Racanelli announced the decision about the dolphins in a press release and an email message to members of the National Aquarium’s extended community. "Through more than 25 years of dedicated care for dolphins, we have realized that the relocation of our dolphins to a natural sanctuary setting is the best way to offer them an environment in which they can thrive," Racanelli said in his email message. "We now know more about dolphins and their care, and we believe that the National Aquarium is uniquely positioned to use that knowledge to implement positive change," Racanelli said. "This is the right time to move forward with the dolphin sanctuary." "There’s no model anywhere, that we’re aware of, for this," Racanelli told the  Associated Press. "We’re pioneering here, and we know it’s never the easiest nor the cheapest option." The aquarium disclosed two years ago that it was considering retiring its dolphins, as part of a movement in which institutions are rethinking the idea of holding cetaceans and other living creatures in captivity. Because the dolphins may not be able to survive if released into the wild, the aquarium has explored the idea of creating a sanctuary for them, in the same way Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus maintains a sanctuary for its retired elephants. As part of its evaluation, the aquarium hired Studio Gang to propose ways to repurpose a $35 million marine mammal pavilion that opened in 1991 and was designed specifically for the display of dolphins. Gang has proposed converting the building, on Inner Harbor Pier 4, to an attraction that would focus on the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Drawings were made public last month. In its announcement today, the aquarium released some details about the proposed animal sanctuary. According to the aquarium, it will be in a tropical or sub-tropical climate, possibly in the Florida Keys or the Caribbean. The National Aquarium has formed a site selection team whose top priority is to ensure the health and welfare of the dolphins. The location will be chosen based on a list of criteria, including: ability to provide lifetime customized care for each dolphin; an outdoor location with natural sea water, with more space and depth than current facility; a warm weather climate, and natural stimulus for the dolphins, such as fish and aquatic plants “As we look at the future of the dolphins in our care, we are working very hard to provide them the best possible place to live out their years,” said Tom Robinson, the National Aquarium’s board chair. According to the aquarium, the institution and its directors began exploring new ways to care for the dolphins five years ago. Numerous options were weighed, ranging from rebuilding the existing Marine Mammal Pavilion in a more naturalistic style to moving the dolphins to other accredited facilities. After careful consideration, officials said, the decision was made to create a protected, year-round, seaside refuge with aquarium staff continuing to care for and interact with the dolphins. “We've evaluated this for five years and have decided that this is the right decision for the dolphins, and, thus, for our organization,” said aquarium board member Colleen Dilenschneider, who also served on a separate board committee that assessed this project. “We are excited to introduce this new option along a spectrum of human care for dolphins.” “This is a special time in history concerning evolving attitudes about treating all forms of life with dignity and respect—other humans very much included,” said Sylvia Earle, marine biologist, explorer and author. “The idea of providing sanctuaries for elephants, chimpanzees, big cats—and now dolphins—is a sign of a maturing ethic of caring unthinkable in past millennia, centuries and even decades.”
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Studio Gang reveals latest renderings for Academy for Global Citizenship

Studio Gang Architect’s has released new renderings for their latest Chicago project, The Academy for Global Citizenship. The K-8 Charter School on the southwest side of Chicago will be a net-positive project providing all off its own power, as well as growing food for its students breakfast and lunch. The Academy for Global Citizenship, founded in 2008, has since outgrown its original building, and now is located in two buildings separated by a major street. The new project will be a single 64,000-square-foot campus made up of a series of indoor and outdoor learning environments. The design leverages the schools inquiry-based approach to education. Spaces throughout the project were imagined as flexible neighborhoods with fluid boundaries. The renderings were revealed at a benefit for the school held at Terzo Piano, the rooftop restaurant atop the Renzo Piano design Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago.
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Jeanne Gang recommends extensive changes to National Aquarium in Baltimore

The sculptural centerpiece of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the National Aquarium, would take on an entirely new look and identity under a design proposal from Chicago-based architect and MacArthur Foundation genius grant recipient Jeanne Gang.
The redesign is driven by proposed changes in the uses and “a new unifying concept for the exhibits” of the aquarium’s multi building campus, also recommended by Gang’s firm, Studio Gang, and others.
First, the aquarium’s Marine Mammal Pavilion on Inner Harbor Pier 4 would become an attraction focusing on the “Chesapeake Bay Watershed,” if-and-when the aquarium’s dolphins are no longer in residence. Aquarium chief executive John Racanelli disclosed in 2014 that the aquarium is studying the possibility of no longer exhibiting its eight Atlantic bottlenose dolphins at the Inner Harbor, adding to a national discussion about the ethics of keeping cetaceans in captivity. Second, the aquarium’s original building on Inner Harbor Pier 3 would be redesigned to offer “an expansive tour of global ‘Hope Spots,’ treasured places on the planet that are worth protecting,” and given a new circulation system visible on the building’s exterior. This would be a new and more conservation-oriented visitor experience inside the 1981 building, whose exhibits were designed to take visitors on a simulated journey around the world, from beneath the ocean to the top of the Amazon Rain Forest. Third, between the two main buildings, a narrow slip of water would support an “urban wetland” capable of attracting wildlife, increasing biodiversity, connecting the main buildings, and serving as a “new physical center for the National Aquarium campus.”
By providing outdoor educational and social spaces for visitors and the public, designers say, the wetlands project “simultaneously improves the local ecology, creates a campus identity, strengthens connectivity, and extends the aquarium's growing conservation work in the region.” Both of the existing buildings, including one of the first major aquarium structures by Peter Chermayeff and his colleagues at Cambridge Seven Associates, would be retained under Gang’s proposal.
But both would be substantially altered with internal changes and additions, including new crystalline or prismatic forms that both link and lighten the buildings visually and conceal much of the striated concrete that is visible today. On Pier 3, Chermayeff’s distinctive forms and graphics would be altered radically under Gang’s proposal, including the “signal flag” wall on the west side and the glass pyramid that encloses the rooftop rain forest. A new circulation system would be created along the western wall, where the signal flag is now.
On Pier 4, the Marine Mammal Pavilion, designed by GWWO of Baltimore and opened in 1990, would receive a similarly thorough makeover, with changes designed to reuse much of the existing building yet give it a new architectural identity to coincide with its new use and unite “existing and new building volumes” on both piers. The transformation is the culmination of a two year long design process that Gang led in her first project in Baltimore and one of her first on the East Coast. Studio Gang was hired by the aquarium along with a predictive intelligence company, IMPACTS Research & Development. Drawings, renderings and an explanatory text have been posted on the Studio Gang website, which calls the project the “National Aquarium Strategic Master Plan” and says design work was completed in 2015. The plans call for the aquarium eventually to contain 360,000 square feet of indoor space and a 37,000 square foot urban wetland.
Inside the aquarium, the posting says, Gang’s plan calls for “a redesigned circulation sequence to enhance visitor flow through the exhibits and visitor amenities.”  Gang’s plan also “creates and enriches spaces for education through a new unifying concept  for the exhibits on both piers: While Pier 3 would offer an expansive tour of global "Hope Spots," treasured places on the planet that are worth protecting, Pier 4 would become the domain of the region's spectacular natural asset, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.” Coordinating the architectural experience with the exhibits and education spaces, the proposed design for Pier 4 takes visitors on a journey through the various ecological zones of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the largest estuary in the United States and one of the most fragile. Educational labs and classrooms are integrated within both interior and exterior exhibits and enable visitors to see back-of-house functions such as a “fish kitchen.” Under Gang’s plan, the new program areas are closely tied to the aquarium's conservation work.
“By strengthening connections between urban and aquatic life, Studio Gang’s strategic master plan supports the aquarium’s future success and goals to ‘fundamentally change the way people view and care for the ocean,’” the architects say on their website. “Ultimately, the plan positions the National Aquarium as a recognized leader in national and global debates concerning water quality, conservation, healthy harbors, and the future sustainability and practices of aquariums at large.” Aquarium officials have not said for sure when or whether they are discontinuing their popular dolphin exhibit. They have said they plan to carry out the strategic plan recommendations in phases, as funding allows. The first major project they are launching is the urban wetlands and changes to outdoor spaces on Piers 3 and 4. That project is currently going through the local design review process, with Ayers Saint Gross of Baltimore as the lead designer.
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Jeanne Gang’s Vista tower in Chicago unveils interior design plans

Since Jeanne Gang's supertall Vista tower first appeared in 2014, numerous design alterations have taken place. However, the project has maintained its original form: a series of simple stacked volumes inspired by a frustum—a naturally-occurring crystal formation that resembles a pyramid with its top cut off. As the $950 million project develops, luxury interior renderings have been released showcasing some of the spectacular views the Chicago tower will have to offer. The skyscraper is staggered into three volumes that will reach 46, 70 and 95 stories, the tallest rising to 1,140 feet. As a result, the Vista tower is set to be the city’s third tallest building in the Lakeshore East neighborhood. California-based interiors firm Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA) are behind the project's 406 luxury condos, none of which come cheap. A two-story penthouse apartment is may set clients back up to $17.1 million. The project is due to break ground later this year, with completion set for 2020. The mixed-use project will include retail and a hotel. Chicago developers, Magellan have already set up an inquiries page on the tower's website, where 360 degree window views can be found. https://vimeo.com/139190710
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Studio Gang chosen to design U.S. embassy in Brazil

The State Department’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) has announced that Chicago-based Studio Gang Architects has been chosen to design a U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil. This project will be part of the OBO’s ongoing Capital Security Construction Program, which has constructed 129 diplomatic facilities in the last 17 years. The Program also has 55 projects that are either in the design phase or under construction. The Studio Gang Embassy will be located in will be a multi-building campus on the existing 12-acre Chancery complex within the city’s “Diplomatic Sector.” The project will include the Marine Security Guard Residence, a chancery, support facilities, perimeter security, and other facilities for the Embassy community. Studio Gang was selected from a short list of six other offices. The State Department noted in its press release, “Studio Gang presented a strong and cohesive team approach with more than 20 years of collaborative experience executing projects with complex constraints at challenging sites.” This stage of the process was just a selection of the participating office. The design for the project will start in the coming months.
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Court trouble continues for the MAD-designed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

The saga of the MAD Architects–designed Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts (LMNA) continues as a federal judge denies the City of Chicago’s motion to allow construction to begin. Judge John W. Darrah has decided to maintain the injunction which is delaying the start of construction of the $400 million museum on Chicago’s lakefront while there is still a case against the project. His decision came a day after city lawyers filed a motion to allow the start of construction and expedite the case brought by Friends of the Parks. Earlier this month Judge Darrah agreed to allow the case to move forward after the city presented a motion to completely dismiss it. This latest decision is being seen as a sign that the case is one step closer to going to trial. The lawyers for the City of Chicago argue that the court’s decision to hear the case “in no way establishes that they are entitled to the extraordinary remedy of a preliminary injunction.” The city also noted in the motion that it believed that the case was not a matter for a federal court to hear in the first place, as it is a city and state-law issue. The City also argues that the preliminary injunction was instituted before the Chicago Park District voted to approve the lease for the land, the Chicago Plan Commission voted to approve the project, and before the City Council approved the amendment to change zoning for the site. Now that the project has been approved by all the necessary city offices, the City wants the injunction lifted, allowing for the project to move forward while the case is settled. The case brought by Friends of the Parks was filed in November 2014. It claims that the negotiations between the Parks District and the Lucas Museum regarding the use of the public land would violate the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution, was ultra vires (beyond their legal power) under Illinois law, and violated the Illinois Public Trust Doctrine. The lakefront has long been the site of discussion and litigation concerning its use and public access. Most notably stated by Daniel Burnham in regards to his 1909 Plan of the City, “First in importance is the shore of Lake Michigan. It should be treated as park space to the greatest possible extent. The lakefront by right belongs to the people… not a foot of its shores should be appropriated to the exclusion of the people.” Also in the City motion was a warning that Chicago was at risk of losing the museum to another city. Similar issues concerning the use of park land were the initial reason for the museum leaving San Francisco for Chicago. The motion points out, “The preliminary injunction thus threatens the very public interest it is bound to protect: the loss of the LMNA would deprive the City of a world-class museum and all the attendant educational, cultural, and economic benefits, as well as depriving the City of a more beneficial use for the museum site than the current asphalt parking lot.” The “current asphalt parking lot” refers to the surface lot used for the Chicago Bears’s Soldier Field football stadium on the site. Judge Darrah stated that he would have a decision regarding lifting the injunction so that construction could start by mid-April. Beijing-based MAD Architects is working with architect of record VOA Studio from Chicago, and Studio Gang Architects and SCAPE/Landscape Architects for the landscape design.