Studio Gang’s first New York City tower appears to be moving forward, albeit a little shorter than originally envisioned. Initial plans called for a 213-foot tall, 180,000-square-foot office tower—known as the “Solar Carve”—that would have been 34 percent larger than what is currently allowed on the site. After it became clear that wasn't going to fly with the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA), the Carve's developer, William Gottlieb Real Estate, withdrew its application leaving the fate of the project in jeopardy. But fear not Jeanne Gang fans, there's good news. Today, the BSA voted in favor of the developer’s revised application (its fourth), which does not request any additional bulk at the site. The Board also approved the developer's request for “a relatively minor height and setback waiver." “We were excited to receive the Zoning and Setback Waiver from the BSA,” said Jeanne Gang, in a statement to AN. “This important decision will preserve the design and enhance the experience along the High Line for residents of New York and the greater community of visitors to the site. The Solar Carve Tower project is ongoing with an anticipated design completion in 2015.” That's certainly an ambitious deadline, but the Gang team can now watch from up close as the Chicago-based firmed recently opened an office in Manhattan.
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Chicago's most famous architect has just acquired a New York City pied-à-terre. Studio Gang has opened an office on Water Street in Lower Manhattan, which will be led by Weston Walker, a design principal. “This is a natural next step for the firm,” said founding principal Jeanne Gang in a statement. “We have been working in New York for the past several years and are excited by the variety of work currently in design, along with potential engagements in the city and beyond." The firm is currently working on a Fire Rescue facility for the New York City Department of Design and Construction and on the "Solar Carve" tower adjacent to the High Line. That project met resistance from the community for its height. There is no word yet on how tall it will be or how it will be redesigned.
Chicago architect Jeanne Gang (pictured) isn't just preparing to design new towers in Chicago and (perhaps) New York. According to her office, Gang has been hired by Tishman Speyer to design a high rise tower in San Francisco's Transbay district. The building's site (and, likewise a design) has not yet been revealed, but according to a piece in the San Francisco Chronicle, it's near the now-rising Transbay Center. According to the Chronicle, Tishman is also developing the Lumina and Infinity towers in the area by Arquitectonica, and a 26-story office tower by Gensler and Thomas Phifer. (Photo: Courtesy Studio Gang Architects)
With the real estate market drifting through a relative recovery, one prominent Chicago developer seems to be saying, "Come back in, the water's fine." The team behind Chicago’s Aqua Tower is gearing up for another high-rise nearby. Chicago-based Magellan Development Group hired Studio Gang Architects for another tower in the 28-acre master-planned neighborhood of Lakeshore East. Gang’s 82-story Aqua Tower, 225 North Columbus Drive, opened in 2009 to international acclaim. Its organically rippled balconies suggest the movement of wind across water. The undulating balconies are functional, too, providing sun shading and eliminating the need for a tuned mass damper. Design details for the new tower are forthcoming, but the developers said it could work on either of two sites in the Lakeshore East area. Five years after the mixed-use tower opened, Aqua saw its last unit sold February 21. Dennis Rodkin reported the 3,200-square-foot town home at the building's base sold for $1.7 million. Aqua’s 262 condominiums, 474 apartments, nine town homes and 334-room hotel are a landmark for the Lakeshore East neighborhood, which is now home to more than 5,000 residents. Development there has taken off since Millennium Park’s 2004 completion. Magellan’s master-planned community include a Dubai-based private school's first U.S. location, a six-acre park, and towers from the likes of SOM, DeStefano + Partners, Solomon Cordwell Buenz, and Steinberg Architects.
Chicago’s Studio Gang Architects announced plans for their New York debut in late 2012. The proposed building, located near the High Line along 10th Avenue between 13th and 14th streets, features a serrated edge that maximizes daylight on the elevated park next door—Jeanne Gang called it “solar carving.” But the legal path to realizing that faceted glass facade had some unexpected kinks of its own. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) was “thrilled to report” that the building’s developer withdrew their application for a zoning variance for the building. At 213 feet tall, the tower would have been 34 percent larger than current zoning allows. After a few appearances before the Board of Standards and Appeals, the project's land use attorney told the New York Observer that the zoning request had fallen flat. The developer, William Gottlieb Real Estate, is apparently moving forward with a modified application, but for now the project remains blocked. The High Line intersects the site, which is currently an empty meatpacking plant. Gang’s design placed the tower near the Hudson River, abutting the High Line. GVSHP contested the developer’s position that sandy soils and the High Line’s proximity constituted a “hardship” worthy of a zoning variance. The 186,700-square-foot office tower was planned to open in 2015. If a revised application seeks different setbacks, the “Solar Carve” tower might meet less resistance from neighborhood groups. “We have no objections to the proposed development setting back differently than the zoning requires, as this would have no negative impact upon the surrounding neighborhood,” wrote GVSHP’s executive director, Andrew Berman. “Increasing the bulk of the proposed development, however, would have such a negative impact.”
Roughly one year after it announced a fundraising campaign to reinvent its home with a Studio Gang–designed “cultural destination,” Writers Theatre in suburban Glencoe said Wednesday it had raised $22 million of the $28 million needed to build the structure on Chicago’s north shore. Studio Gang’s design employs a lot of wood—a nod to the half-timber wood construction of proto-Tudor style architecture in the U.K., where modern theater began. The airy lobby and 2nd-floor “grand gallery walk,” which circumscribes the lobby and provides access to the building’s main 250-seat theater, also acknowledge leafy Glencoe’s abundance of trees. A rooftop terrace and green roof tie into Friends Park across the street, while large windows serve as beacons to passersby. “We tried to open this theater up and make it part of the community,” Jeanne Gang said. The new building still needs $6 million in funding, but Writers Theatre staff were ebullient in their praise for donors who gave as much as $5 million to help realize the structure. “It maintains our commitment to intimate theater, while doubling our capacity,” said Michael Halberstam, Writers Theatre’s artistic director. “It will match the quality of our art and will allow us to make an even more significant investment in our artists.”
Studio Gang Architects are familiar with theatrical spaces, and with the rhythms of the natural world; their design for Writers Theatre in north suburban Chicago reaches out to nature with timber trusses and a raised promenade through the trees. But a new project may take those interests one step further. SGA announced Wednesday they will collaborate with Thodos Dance Chicago on a project "investigating the intersection of dance, architecture, and physics.” Working with University of Chicago physicist Sidney Nagel and his lab group, Gang’s interactive structure will draw inspiration from “jamming” — the research process of studying disordered materials. The world premiere dance performance will also explore the overlap of physics, dance, and architecture. As yet untitled, the work will debut as part of Thodos’ Winter Concert 2014 on Saturday Feb. 22, 2014 at 8 p.m. at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Boulevard in Skokie, IL. Tickets are available at northshorecenter.org.
Amid the clamor to take advantage of Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House this weekend, some may have missed the opening of Studio Gang’s boathouse along the Chicago River’s north branch. The WMS Boathouses at Clark Park opened Saturday to fanfare led by the Chicago Rowing Foundation, who were eager to celebrate the first of four new boathouses to be built along the Chicago River. The boathouse design translates the alternating “M” and inverted “V” shapes from a time-lapse motion image of rowing into the building’s basic organizing form. Targeting LEED Silver, it also features a landscaped garden where the site meets the river. The building’s upper clerestory collects southern daylight in the winter and ventilates in summer. Practice rooms for rowers are flooded with light and river views, instead of being shut away as in many athletic facilities. Similarly the building engages the river itself to a degree rarely seen in Chicago. Contrast the gently sloping approach of Studio Gang’s project to the bunker-like revetment across the river. As the city turns its attention to the downtown riverwalk, it's encouraging to see neighborhood projects embrace it, too. WMS, an electronic gaming company based on the river’s opposite bank, contribued $2 million to help build the boathouse on Chicago Park District land.
When an artist begins, they try to bury him with neglect. When he gains a small foothold, they try to bury him with criticism. When he becomes more established, they try to bury him with covetous disdain. When he becomes exceptionally successful, they try to bury him with dismissals as irrelevant. And finally, all else failing they try to bury him with honors! This is how James Wines of SITE, quoting Jean Cocteau, accepted his 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum at their National Design Awards. Wines joined a 'Lifetime Achievement' group that includes Richard Saul Wurman, Bill Moggridge, Paolo Solari, the Vignelli's, Dan Kiley, and Frank Gehry. Last night's awards program was a special one as the Museum—led by its new director, Caroline Baumann, and an indefatigable team—worked throughout the government shutdown of the least two weeks to put on a spatular gala that gave awards to designers that included Janette Sadik-Khan, Michael Sorkin, Studio Gang Architects, Paula Scher, Aidlin Darling Design, and Margie Ruddick. These figures each asked a special commentator to introduce them. Theaster Gates presented Jeanne Gang from Chicago and Michael Kimmelman said that Michael Sorkin was the first person he spoke to when he decided to be the New York Times architecture critic. Sorkin accepted his award for "Design Mind" with a powerful tribute—as only he can—to his late friends and intellectual mentors, Lebbeus Woods and Marshall Berman. Al Gore presented the TED Talks with an award and finally it was left to Tom Wolfe to introduce James Wines, who he said had created the "first really new architecture after modernism" in his famous Best Stores which "added nothing to the architecture" only re-arranged what was already" as in his Best 'Notch' project in suburban Sacramento, California. Wolfe claimed that Wines wanted to replace "plop art" like formal plaza sculptures by Henry Moore and Isamu Noguchi with a new form that put the art onto the architecture. Its about time that Sorkin, who is our greatest living architecture critic to not have been awarded a Pulitzer Prize, and Wines, who is not a registered architect, to be given an award as a great architect.
Art fairs serve three groups of clientele: the rich, who buy the art, curators and museum folks, and the poor—students, freelance writers, party-crashers. You can probably guess that Eavesdrop is in the latter, not the former, so imagine the disappointment when champagne was going for $19 per glass on opening night of Expo Chicago. Seriously, what happened to the days of all-you-can-drink Grolsch or Basil Haydens way back in Art Chicago’s past? The sticker shock should be from the gallery price lists, not the bar. While standing in line, Eavesdrop was flattered to be recognized by James Geier of 555 International, who hinted at a slew of new projects and fall openings. Hopefully those openings will allow the 99 percent to imbibe. The art fair’s environment, layout and scheme, was designed by Studio Gang, although we can’t say that we were able to discern a noticeable imprint.
Acting director Caroline Baumann of The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum has announced the winners of the 2013 National Design Awards. The 14th annual Awards program continues the practice of acknowledging excellence and innovation across an array of disciplines. This year’s winners will be recognized during a gala dinner on Thursday, October 17 at New York’s Pier 60 in conjunction with National Design Week, where they will be presented with trophies created by The Corning Museum of Glass. This year’s Lifetime Achievement award recipient is James Wines, founder and president of New York-based architectural studio SITE, who addresses context and environmental issues in his designs. Another big winner is Michael Sorkin, who claims the Design Mind prize for his work in urbanism and green architecture. TED—the nonprofit organization devoted to "Ideas Worth Spreading"—has been selected for the Corporate and Institutional Achievement prize. For its site-specific projects that act as responses to contemporary issues, Studio Gang Architects-principal Jeanne Gang wins the Architecture Design award. Petragram principal Paula Scher takes the stage as the Communication Design award recipient. Bloomberg, Citibank, and MoMA are just a few on her impressive list of clients. Fashion Design winner Behnaz Sarafpour implements organically produced pieces in her high-fashion and affordably-priced collection. Media design firm Local Project is the Interaction Design award recipient and the Interior Design award goes to Aidlin Darling Design. Margie Ruddick, who employs an environmental approach to urban landscape design, is the Landscape Architecture category winner. The Product Design award recipient is NewDealDesign, a San Francisco-based multidisciplinary firm. This year's jury includes Charles Adler, Gail Anderson, Gisue Hariri, Jon Kolko, Thom Mayne, Zoë Ryan, Christine Ten Eyck, Isabel and Ruben Toledo, and Gianfranco Zaccai. The 2013 winners "have made a major impact in their respective fields through groundbreaking projects and visionary ideas," Baumann said in a statement. "They have truly transformed the way we live, think, work, and communicate with each other."
We were glad to be included on the Studio Gang’s Archi-Salon panel on “outside research” at the Art Institute of Chicago on February 2. UIC’s Clare Lyster moderated a lively discussion that, true to its roots in academic theory, kicked off by questioning the premise in the first place. Are practice and research separated by anything more than semantics? Based on the turnout it seems the discussion series achieved its goal of public engagement—what can we say? We’re thrilled and a bit surprised that you all find architectural theory as stimulating as we do. During the discussion, Paul Preissner detected a whiff of marketing in architects’ clambering to engage “outside” disciplines. You might have thought he accused them of artistic treason, based on the defensive tone that the discussion took whenever the topic popped back up.