Posts tagged with "technology companies":

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San Francisco’s skyline-topping Salesforce Tower opens

The 1,070-foot-tall, 61-story Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects-designed Salesforce Tower in San Francisco (formerly the Transbay Tower) has officially opened, capping a design process that stretches back to 2007. Much has been made of the tower’s impact on the skyline, as it came to gradually eclipse the 853-foot-tall Transamerica Pyramid as the tallest building in the city, and is now visible from neighboring Oakland. At 1.4 million square feet, the Salesforce Tower has always been divisive, especially among those who feel the headquarters is wholly out of scale for San Francisco, or that the tower represents the tech industry imposing its will on the city.

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The bullet-shaped office tower, a centerpiece of Salesforce’s campus-like headquarters, opened its doors to employees on January 8th. Clad in glass and horizontal bands of metal accents that serve as solar shades, the building curves at the corners and tapers to a point as it rises. Pelli Clarke Pelli describes the design as aping the “simple, timeless form of the obelisk”. The tower has been LEED-Platinum Certified, and Salesforce claims that they’ve implemented an “innovative water recycling system” throughout. The façade continues past the top floor to create an ethereal crown, using perforated aluminum panels, that somewhat lessens the topper’s impact. A nine-story vertical facet has been slotted inside of the building’s topper, and the empty space within will be used to potentially project lights, patterns and photos across the tower’s crown; artist Jim Campbell has proposed using LED lights to display ever-changing pieces of art. Connected at the base of the tower is the Salesforce Transit Center, a new transit hub that will hold 11 transit systems when it’s complete later this year, also designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli. The Transit Center takes a markedly different approach from its neighbor, making use of a billowing wall of perforated aluminum panels to gently wrap the station’s upper floors. Supported by V-shaped columns, the station is centered around a massive “Light Column,” a sculptural skylight that grows all the way from the train platforms below to the transit center’s roof. The Light Column also serves to open up the main hall of the hub by creating a 118-foot-tall roof. A 5.4-acre rooftop park will top off the transit center, complete with running tracks, cafes, a 1,000-seat amphitheater, children’s playground, and fully accessible grasslands. Pelli Clarke Pelli claims that the ecology of the park will mirror the surrounding Bay Area, and feature everything from oak trees to a wetland marsh. AN will have an in-depth review of Salesforce Tower in the coming months, but in the meantime, Salesforce has posted a preview of the building’s interiors here.
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Adam Greenfield’s new book questions our bright technological future

Technology is never value-neutral, and yet American culture often embraces new technologies as if they do not contain the seeds of every other aspect of American life and were freed of messy political and social consequences. The sort of pervasive technological positivism is inextricably tied to a certain spectrum of political philosophy, namely of the neoliberal and libertarian variety. The technocracy that worried many philosophers in the 20th century has now arrived, and it is potentially scarier than any of them could have even imagined. Adam Greenfield is a leading critical voice on technology. Employed as a consultant for urban planning, design, technology and architectural firms, Greenfield has been in the trenches of emerging technology. He has conducted research for firms like Razorfish and Nokia, and taught at New York University and the London School of Economics. He has been a critical voice among urbanists on the use of urban data and smart cities, and for the past 15 years, he has run the thoughtful and influential blog Speedbird.  In his book-length essay, Against the Smart City (2015), he analyzed the proposals of many (still unrealized) smart cities and projected the dystopias they could become. He took the ephemera, renderings, and brochures at face value, analyzing the technologies and value claims made by the companies promising brightly-rendered automated futures.  His latest book Radical Technologies (2017) allows us to contextualize the present moment of technophilia and how this set of technologies have radically transformed or disrupted everyday life. Chapters are divided up by technologies such as smartphones, automation, blockchain, cryptocurrencies, digital fabrication, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Each chapter takes readers through how each technology works and though the social and political implications that these transformative technologies pose. Throughout the book, Greenfield constructs a complex argument for critical engagement with technologies by laying out the best and worst-case scenarios for each technology. He is at his most convincing, however, in his big-picture skepticism. The zeitgeist of our moment is a general trust in business and technology leaders to change things for the better, and technologies offer an easy fix in place of uncomfortable political compromises. Technology is often used a band-aid in place of policy or to fill the void of ethical debate. We are told that the best one can hope for are nudges for certain types of behavioral improvement as we cheer on far-reaching automation for seamlessness, efficiency, and profit. These “world-changing” technologies rely heavily on the belief that they bring something positive into the world or at least require the trust that their convenience outweighs the consequences. However, they are unleashed onto the world because they support the growth of a post-Fordist capitalism as it accelerates toward a more automated future, one that Greenfield calls the “post-human everyday.” Most early adopters take it in faith that technology creators have our interest and enjoyment in mind. However, the technology sector (like architecture) often doesn't care about its unintended effects. Although Greenfield rarely touches on the specific ways that these technologies inform architectural practice, each of the areas he covers has major implications for our field—whether to open up new job specializations or market opportunities, or how they will radically transform our aesthetic tastes and disrupt our belief systems and ethics. Technology's impact can be seen everywhere from Patrik Schumacher’s declaration of “parametricism as a philosophy” to the way that nearly every large design firm now has a technology wing and research groups, spinning off tech startups wildly into the ether. The ubiquity of digital fabrication, IoT, AR/VR, and smart phones has already reshaped huge portions of the AEC industry and will continue to shape it in technology’s image. Inherent in being a critic of technology is that one can be wildly wrong in a very short amount of time. Technologies often change rapidly (sometimes within months), fall into disuse or disappear as they are superseded. What this means for writing about technology is that observations will easily feel dated. Criticism of technology remains at its most useful when it contextualizes the ways that technology is everyday life—the ways that is it is part of society. Greenfield’s guide to the everyday after the iPhone and technologies like it is an important piece of critical thinking that should resonate widely. Greenfield will be speaking about Radical Technologies in NYC on September 14th-16th. Thursday, September 14th 7-9pm: Verso Loft Friday, September 15th 1pm: Columbia University GSAPP with Laura Kurgan Saturday, September 16th 7-9pm: McNally Jackson Books with Aimee Meredith Cox
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Unveiled> 41-story office and hotel tower in Chicago’s West Loop

This week an already roiling real estate market in Chicago's West Loop got hotter still. The latest entrant is a $400 million mixed-use tower designed by Goettsch Partners—a 350-room, four-star hotel beneath about 600,000 square feet of offices that will surely stoke the continued evolution of the area from post-industrial grittiness into a sleek, high-rent hub for technology companies and haute cuisine. Crain's Chicago Business reported Florida-based developer Joseph Mizrachi will further thicken an already competitive field of downtown office space, building on his 2012 acquisition of a 1.1 million-square-foot office tower at 540 West Madison Street. His group, Third Millennium Partners, hopes to start work by mid-2015 on a 1.2 million-square-foot building just to the west, at 590 West Madison Street. Goettsch Partners' design is restrained, concealing its luxury hotel rooms and undoubtedly high-tech offices in tranquil planes of glass, scored with white mullions that stripe the building's bifurcated mass vertically.

As for the crowded market, Crain's says Mizrachi enjoys an advantage over the competition:

Because the foundation already was poured for the new building years ago when a second office tower was planned, the new tower can be built in as little as 20 months, giving Mizrachi's plan an advantage over some competitors, [J.F. McKinney & Associates Executive Vice President Mark] Gunderson said. Work could begin with as little as 200,000 square feet of office space leased in advance, he said.
It also might compete by offering office rents slightly lower than its neighbors, which include 52 and 53 story towers from developers Hines Interests and John O'Donnell.