Dialog, whether between teacher and student, master and apprentice, or a group of peers, has been an essential element of architectural practice throughout history. At next week's Facades+ Dallas conference the tradition continues, with a series of dialog workshops following day 1's symposium. Facade geeks from around the world will gather at the premier conference's Dallas debut to chew over both abstract and concrete challenges, from designing envelopes for resilience to dealing with the problem of glare. Attendees can create their own dialog workshop experience by selecting from one morning workshop and one afternoon workshop. All three afternoon workshops include a field trip to one of Dallas' many architectural destinations. The morning offerings include "Next Gen Passive: Exploring the Links between Passive Strategies, Smart Design, Sustainability, and Resiliency," coordinated by Atelier Ten's Emilie Hagen. Panelists Z Smith (Eskew+Dumez+Ripple) and Ryan Jones (Lake|Flato) will join Hagen to discuss contemporary developments in passive design and question the conflation of sustainability with the elimination of resilience, with reference to specific examples from the three firms' work. The field trip-oriented afternoon workshops include "Digital Design and Fabrication and the Shifting Paradigm of Architectural Research," with Brad Bell of TEX-FAB and HKS LINE's Heath May. Participants will tour UT Arlington's fabrication lab facilities, hear from Bell and May about their work combining academic research and studio practice, and talk to SMU student James Warton about his doctoral research on metallic alloys. Do not miss this opportunity to rub shoulders with the movers and shakers of the AEC industry: register for Facades+ Dallas today, and reserve your spot in two dialog or tech workshops before they sell out. Besides the hands-on, immersive workshops, the conference offers two full days of exciting keynotes, roundtable discussions, exposure to cutting-edge technology, and networking galore. Learn more at the Facades+ Dallas website.
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Dallas is growing up. And just like the rest of us, the city is doing some soul-searching on its way from adolescence to adulthood. "Growing up doesn't necessarily mean growing out; bigger isn't necessarily better," said Heath May, director of HKS LINE and co-chair of the upcoming Facades+ Dallas conference. "People are starting to understand that it's time to start thinking about public policy and the way it relates to placemaking." May points to recent events, including the New Cities Summit and "Building the Just City," the third annual David Dillon Symposium, that have brought architects, city planners, and policymakers together to discuss the Big D's urban future. At the end of this month, experts in the field of facade design and fabrication as well as representatives from the City of Dallas, Dallas Morning News critic Mark Lamster, and other influential Dallasites will continue the conversation at the Texas debut of the Facades+ conference series. At the top of the list of local concerns, said May, is the idea of the connected city. When he recently saw 1930s footage of downtown Dallas, May was struck by "the sheer amount of people on the sidewalks in contrast to what you see today. Downtown is coming alive now, but it's struggling." Part of the problem is the lack of physical connectivity to adjacent neighborhoods, especially Deep Ellum, stranded on the other side of IH345, and the Trinity River. Groups like A New Dallas, which proposes tearing down the decrepit IH345, and AIA Dallas "are looking at how we can stitch the city back together—at how we can provide workforce housing to live, walk, and enjoy downtown," said May. In terms of facades, said May, the challenge is to "understand architecture as part of a system." The theme of the Facades+ Dallas is resilience; resilience, May insists, depends on various scales of design as well as on the cooperation of clients and policymakers. "We're inviting clients, developers, and members of the community to participate in these discussions when we're looking at things the city is wrestling with," said May. "Things like glare: how do you balance that with other criteria such as mitigating solar heat gain?" May is co-leading a dialog workshop on day 2 of the Facades+ conference, with TEX-FAB's Brad Bell. Participants in "Digital Design and Fabrication and the Shifting Paradigm of Architectural Research" will take a field trip to the University of Texas at Arlington, where May and Bell are involved in a consortium designed to bring together academic research and professional practice. The workshop includes a tour of UTA's fabrication facilities and a discussion of how new tools are shaping practice, as well how practice and research exist in symbiosis. Other events at Facades+ Dallas include a symposium panel on glare, plus "Balancing Cost and Performance Through Simulation," a hands-on tech workshop offered by HKS LINE's Tim Logan and Paul Ferrer. To register for dialog or tech workshops and to learn more, visit the Facades+ Dallas conference website.
Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Scott Johnson's Museum Tower in Dallas, and Rafael Viñoly's Vrada Hotel & Spa in Las Vegas have at least one thing in common. All three provoked the ire of their neighbors when glare from their reflective facades raised sidewalk temperatures, blinded drivers, or—as in the Museum Tower case—jeopardized the nearby Nasher Sculpture Center’s collections. Glare is increasingly a problem in facade design, says Curtainwall Design Consulting president Charles Clift, in part because of the tools contemporary architects have at their disposal. "The conclusion I came to is that the digital age of architecture has allowed designers to create anything they can imagine, but with that comes some unintended consequences." Clift and other experts in high-performance envelope design, including George Loisos (Loisos + Ubbelohde) and Luke Smith (Enclos), will dig into the problem of glare in a symposium panel at this month's Facades+ Dallas conference. Nasher Sculpture Center director Jeremy Strick, David Cossum of the City of Dallas, and the Dallas Morning News' Mark Lamster will join them to discuss the reflectivity challenge within the local context. The conversation will continue on day 2 of the conference at the "Curating Daylight: Effective Control of Interior Illumination & Issues of Exterior Reflectivity" dialog workshop (led by George Loisos and Susan Ubbelohde), which meets at the Nasher Sculpture Center. Advancements in building materials offer one solution to the glare challenge, which exists in tension with the demand to reduce thermal gain. "An easy way for the facade to accomplish sustainability goals is to use highly reflective glass, but obviously that rejected glare goes back into the environment," said Clift. Happily, innovations by today's glass manufacturers, including low-e coatings, boost performance, reduce glare, and allow a decent amount of visible light transmission. External or internal sunshades can also do double duty as thermal barriers and glare blockers. But both specialty glass and shading structures come at a cost, and are often the first to go when the budget gets tight. "A lot of the time, the issue of glare has been taken into account in the design process, but it’s one of the first components that might get value-engineered out," said Smith, who will moderate the panel. Municipal-level regulation is another possible fix for the reflectivity problem. Clift reports that some Dallas builders he’s talked to are confident that the market will sort things out. They say that the Museum Tower/Nasher Sculpture Center debacle "is such a bad situation that a savvy developer won’t do that in the future." Smith is not so sure. "This is an urban problem, but as soon as the city tries to step in, people say, 'No, this has nothing to do with the city,'" he said. "I think the problem is getting worse because density is increasing in cities, and right now glass is predominantly the building material of choice." Dallas, he notes, is the perfect place to explore the glare issue. "The city’s going through a regeneration: the place is coming back. Plus, it’s sunny, and they like glass buildings." To hear more from Smith, Cliff, and the other panelists about the problem of glare, register today for the Dallas Facades+ conference. The complete lineup of symposium speakers, dialog workshops, tech workshops, and networking events can be found on the conference website.
If Dallas is not already on your list of top United States architectural destinations, it is past time to make a correction. The city boasts the largest concentration of Pritzker Prize–winning architects' work anywhere, including Philip Johnson's Thanks-Giving Square, I.M. Pei's Dallas City Hall, Fountain Place, and Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, Renzo Piano's Nasher Sculpture Center, Foster+ Partners' Winspear Opera House, and Morphosis' Perot Museum of Science. The thriving Dallas Arts District is bursting with performance venues and architectural gems like Edward Larabee Barnes' Dallas Museum of Art, SOM's Trammell Crow Center, and REX/OMA's Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre. And more projects are in the works: Cesar Pelli is designing an office complex for Uptown, and a second Santiago Calatrava-designed bridge is planned to span the Trinity River. Attendees at this month's Facades+ Dallas conference will have a chance to experience the Big D's outstanding architecture scene in person. The conference's dialog workshops, in particular, were designed with Dallas' built environment in mind. All three afternoon dialog workshops incorporate a field trip to either the Perot Museum, the University of Texas at Arlington (where participants will tour the fabrication lab), or the Nasher Sculpture Center. To learn more about Facades+ Dallas or register for a dialog workshop field trip, visit the conference website.
Five state capitals will get help from the Environmental Protection Agency to develop green infrastructure that could help mitigate the cost of natural disasters and climate change. Resiliency, whether it be in the context of global warming or natural and manmade catastrophes, has become a white-hot topic in the design world, especially since Superstorm Sandy battered New York City in 2012. EPA selected the following cities for this year's Greening America's Capitals program through a national competition: Austin, Texas; Carson City, Nev.; Columbus, Ohio; Pierre, S.D.; and Richmond, Va. Since 2010, 18 capitals and Washington, D.C. have participated in the program, which is administered by the EPA in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. In each city, EPA will provide technical assistance to help design and build infrastructure that uses natural systems to manage stormwater. Here's a bit on each of the new projects via EPA:
· Austin, Texas, will receive assistance to create design options to improve pedestrian and bike connections in the South Central Waterfront area, and to incorporate green infrastructure that reduces stormwater runoff and localized flooding, improves water quality, and increases shade. · Carson City, Nev., will receive assistance to improve William Street, a former state highway that connects to the city's downtown. The project will help the city explore how to incorporate green infrastructure through the use of native plants, and to enhance the neighborhood's economic vitality. · Columbus, Ohio, will receive assistance to develop design options for the Milo-Grogan neighborhood that use green infrastructure to improve stormwater quality, reduce flooding risks, and encourage walking and cycling. · Pierre, S.D., will receive assistance to redesign its historic main street, South Pierre, in a way that uses green infrastructure to reduce stormwater runoff and improve resiliency to extreme climate conditions. · Richmond, Va., will receive assistance to design options for more parks and open spaces, and to incorporate green infrastructure to better manage stormwater runoff on Jefferson Avenue, a street which serves as the gateway to some of Richmond's oldest and most historic neighborhoods.
Home to Morphosis' Perot Museum of Nature and Science, the Santiago Calatrava–designed Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, and a starchitecture-studded cultural district, Dallas is increasingly an architectural destination in its own right. This fall, AEC industry professionals have one more reason to visit: the inaugural Facades+ Dallas conference, taking place October 30–31 at CityPlace Events. The Facades+ conference's Dallas debut is a homecoming of sorts for the native Texans on the planning team, who include AN founder and publisher Diana Darling, AN managing editor Aaron Seward, and Mode Lab founding partner Ronnie Parsons. The not-to-be-missed event begins with a symposium featuring the movers and shakers of high-performance envelope design, like keynote presenters Antoine Predock and Marlon Blackwell, plus special appearances by Jeremy Strick, Director of the Nasher Sculpture Center, and City of Dallas Assistant Director of Public Works Zaida Basora. The symposium is followed by a day of dialog and tech workshops—intimate opportunities for hands-on exposure to real-world examples and cutting-edge design tools. All three afternoon dialog workshops incorporate field trips to either the University of Texas at Arlington or the Renzo Piano–designed Nasher Sculpture Center. Facades+ Dallas attendees will have the opportunity to earn up to 16 AIA CEUs over the course of the two-day conference, as well as to meet and mingle with the leading lights of facade design and construction. To learn more and to register, visit the Facades+ Dallas website.
Medical clinic in the Dallas suburbs features a contemporary facade of perforated metal panels.When Legacy ER commissioned 5G Studio to design an emergency care facility in Allen, Texas, the architects seized the opportunity to define an emerging building type. One of a growing number of freestanding emergency care centers (FECCs) popping up across the United States, the Legacy ER in Allen combines an emergency room and urgent care clinic under one roof. The Allen facility is the second collaboration between the care provider and 5G Studio, who also designed Legacy ER's FECC in Frisco. "Based on the Frisco project they saw it as a strength to their brand to design an outstanding facility," said partner Yen Ong. "Architectural identity is one of their brand hallmarks." Inspired both by traditional domestic architecture and the image of a physician's robe, Legacy ER - Allen's sculptural zinc facade punctures the monotony of its suburban surroundings. In Allen, "like in any suburban context, you have McMansions and little to excite you," said Ong. "We took the opportunity to reflect on the identity of the organization, and to try to create an episodic architectural intervention into that suburb." The architects looked at the site's context and saw a lot of single-family homes with pitched roofs. "We said, 'Let's start there,'" recalled Ong. "We began to take the idea of the sloped roof, but reflect it in a modern and a new way." They experimented with the form, and hit upon the idea of building a robe—like the physician's white coat—to enclose the program. The robe lifts at strategic points to create entrances and a mezzanine-level conference room. As at the Frisco facility, the designers chose zinc for Legacy ER - Allen's envelope. "In Frisco, we convinced Legacy ER that zinc is a good reflection on their brand," said Ong. "It's sustainable, very durable, and malleable. It had all the qualities we want and allows a lot of aesthetic freedom." Zinc holds up well under Texas's regular hailstorms. "What we found in the first building is that even if the hail scratches or dents it, it's surprising how resilient it is—it doesn't look like a damaged car body," said Ong. Ong also notes that zinc, despite its cool grey color, conveys an impression of warmth, an important consideration for a facility that serves people in crisis. In Frisco, 5G Studio found that the brightness of the interior lights at night rendered the exterior as dark and closed. To avoid a similar problem at the Allen clinic, they perforated the cladding and installed an efficient lighting system behind it. "The zinc panels essentially become light fixtures, emitting diffuse light on the exterior," said Ong. Gradients in the perforations insure a uniform distribution of light across the plane, to prevent glare. During the day, the perforations allow daylight to filter in through overhangs on the west and east sides of the building, where high-performance glazing (fritted or placed high for privacy) provides additional protection against solar gain. Both the cladding itself and the roofing challenge the notion that advanced forms necessitate advanced construction techniques. "The zinc itself employed a very typical assembly; the roofing is standard metal roofing," said Ong. "We purposefully selected the very common method of standing seam metal roofing, but express it in a different way. We felt like the achievement on the exterior is not, 'Here's a sculptural form with an advanced cladding system.' It's to reinvent a standard assembly system." In contrast to Legacy ER - Allen's dynamic facade, the building's interior features blurred edges and soft natural light. The dissimilarity is meant to embody the two sides of the physician's nature. "We know that the physician owners are very competent, but, more importantly, they are human, and they are very good people. We wanted to reflect that duality in the facility," said Ong. "To achieve that we employed two different architectural languages: on the exterior, the building has very sharp geometry, which is reflective of the physician's professionalism and their ability. On the interior, there are gentle curves, and the daylight is diffuse. It's very gentle on the inside." Legacy ER took a risk in selecting a cutting-edge design for a medical clinic located in the Dallas suburbs, said Ong. "As much confidence as our client had coming into the relationship with 5G Studio, we didn't know how far we could push this next project. Frisco was nowhere close to this," he said. But the gamble paid off, and the result is a building that, beyond boosting Legacy ER's brand, sets a new standard for healthcare design. "We felt like this piece will challenge the perception that healthcare architecture is a subset of practice so burdened with technical requirements that it's nothing more than healthcare architecture," said Ong. "We hope to contribute to the notion that healthcare architecture is just architecture."
As part of continuing efforts in the Southwest to develop and improve transit systems, the City of Austin has announced its intention to build an urban rail system known as UltraRail that will run through the city’s eastern downtown. Traffic in east downtown Austin is beastly. It is largely made up of drivers who have short commutes, who together create major congestion during rush hour. For this reason UltraRail is being designed as a light rail/streetcar hybrid. It will be built with sharper control sensibilities, allowing for tighter corner turns, and regularly spaced, relatively close stops along the route that will hopefully make it a viable alternative to driving. But the heavy-duty installation is no light matter. Depending on how plans solidify, UltraRail is estimated to cost $1.6 billion. Half of the money will be paid by federal dollars; the other half will come from obligation bonds. Austin is currently working with stakeholders to determine the exact length and placement of the UltraRail system, and how best to phase the project. In addition to ironing out the technical wrinkles, the usual hurdles remain: nailing down the specifics of budget, design, and pushing through the various planning stages in order to begin building. Completion is presently slated for 2020.
AN recently profiled the emerging architectural typology of spaceports across the country, and now there's news from the Houston site that helped launch the dream of space travel decades ago. Independence Shuttle, a full-scale replica of NASA’s iconic Space Shuttle, recently was moved from the Johnson Space Center (JSC) to its next-door neighbor, Space Center Houston. To some people, the relocation was a matter of mere logistics. To others, however, the transfer symbolized not just a lessening of power and precedence associated with Johnson Space Center, but with NASA’s space program as a whole. Johnson Space Center, formed in 1961, is one of ten major NASA field centers, and one of the most famous space travel establishments. The 40-foot deep swimming pool built for astronaut training, was, in its heyday, frequented by astronauts and the curious public alike. The control room oversaw the launch and devastating loss of the Challenger, received Armstrong’s transmission as he made his first steps on the moon, and rejoiced with the rest of America during the Apollo 13 recovery. To say that JSC is iconic, a cornerstone, and a piece of history is an understatement: it is a monolithic nexus of space travel, this world’s anchoring connection to the vast unknown. So as grand-scale space launches wane and commercial flight takes over, the creeping neglect of JSC’s facilities and consequent decline stabs into the hearts of those connected to NASA’s past—and not simply for nostalgic reasons. Astronauts associated with JSC’s glory days—men like Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan, and Jim Lovell—have spoken out against the political shifts associated with JSC’s downsizing. One such maneuver occurred when President Obama cancelled Constellation—a Bush-era initiative to send astronauts to the moon—in order to shuttle a sizable chunk of NASA’s funding from the manned space exploration into commercial space flight. The shift denotes a decrease in specialist training aimed at greater expansion into grand scale space projects—missions to Mars, for example, or a continuation of low-orbiting space travel—towards everything that “commercial space travel” connotes: sending consumers, not specialists, into orbit; changing the pioneer frontier into a tourism industry. Armstrong and Levitt both argue that the change negates the $10 billion already funneled into Constellation. They claim that private enterprise is taking a major step backward, that government’s funding focal change will place the U.S. into a reliant relationship with Russia, thereby relegating the nation to a second-rate spot for space travel. These men are the voice, in a nutshell, of those deeply unhappy with the changes taking place. JSC countered these claims with an official statement claiming that the center is still relevant. It cited robotics projects and continued operation of Orion—a spacecraft designed to take astronauts to asteroids—as evidence. JSC, the statement said, is a cultural mainstay of Houston’s identity, and it will stay that way. Certain facts remain however, and seeing, in this case, is part of believing. The government’s retraction of funds has instilled the center with a calcified, weary demeanor. JSC has employed far fewer people in the past two years than ever before. Half the buildings have been torn down or consolidated. One of them is a new building, the NASA Johnson Space Center 20, which has upstaged its famous brother by being the first LEED platinum project of its kind in NASA. In comparison, the control room at JSC that once oversaw mankind’s greatest scientific achievements now has less technology than the average smart phone. “Nothing’s going on there,” said one former NASA employee. “People are leaving in waves.” The Independence Shuttle was just moved next door. But as far as interpreting symbols go, they might as well have launched it to the moon.
Houston is set to double the amount of tax breaks it gives to developers for downtown apartments and condos to try to lure people to the city's sleepy business district. The City Council unanimously agreed to expand the Downtown Living Initiative, which first launched a year and a half ago, to offer tax breaks for 5,000 residential units, up from a previous cap of 2,500. Houston will now offer developers up to $15,000 for each residence they build in a complex of at least 10 units, provided they meet design guidelines focused on getting retail built at street level. The idea is to lessen the hurdles to developing downtown, such as high land costs, and to draw in retailers to serve the new residents and create a more vibrant street scene. "We made a judgment that it was needed when we looked at the extra cost of construction downtown," Andy Icken, the city's chief development officer, told the Houston Chronicle. "Retail follows rooftops, and it's our view that critical mass is needed. We've had a lack of retail in downtown. We believe that will follow and we believe this is needed to make it happen, to really continue the momentum that's on right now." In the decade preceding the subsidy, only one new residential development was built. After the subsidy initiative launched, 13 new projects have been announced, including six recent proposals that could add more than 2,200 new apartments to the urban core. The momentum is hard to miss. The total cost of the tax breaks could reach $75 million.
Crescent Real Estate Group is making a play to bring high-end business tenants to Uptown Dallas—an area better known for twenty somethings living above their means than big-name office tenants. In order to attract this kind of clientele, the developer has hired architect Cesar Pelli to design a dramatic new building that is promising to change the face of the neighborhood. “We didn’t want it to look like just another suburban building that you’d plopped down in Uptown,” Crescent CEO John Goff told the Dallas Morning News. “Rectangles are boring, and we have a building that is much more interesting.” The building is dramatically different from any other structure around the Big D. The 24-story tower rises from the corner of McKinney Avenue and Olive Street like a giant glass wave crashing down on the southwestern architectural scene. Sited across Olive Street from the Ritz-Carlton, the high-rise portion of the project slants nine degrees over a podium base, which includes space for shops, restaurants, and a parking garage. This two-story volume—one of the largest retail centers in the area—is clad in large glass windows offering spectacular views of a new street-side park. The $200 million project is the most ambitious in Uptown since Crescent built the Philip Johnson–designed 400 Crescent Court in the 1980s. The two Crescent structures could not be more different, however. Johnson looked toward the past for inspiration, while Pelli’s structure is decidedly more modern. “Buildings have changed, and the technology has improved dramatically,” said Crescent senior vice president Joseph Pitchford. “This will be a more contemporary expression than you see in Uptown.”
Joshua Prince-Ramus, principal at REX, has a bone to pick with modernism and its legacy. “For the last 100 years, architecture’s been involved in a silly tension between form and function,” he said. While high modernism privileged function over form, some of today’s top designers argue that architecture is about aesthetics and not much else. REX has a different take: architecture, the firm claims, is both function and form. “We really believe that architecture can do things. It’s not just a representational art form,” said Prince-Ramus. “We talk about performance. Aesthetics are part of performance [as is function.]” Prince-Ramus, who will deliver the afternoon keynote address at next week’s facades+PERFORMANCE New York conference, approaches facade design as an integral part of the design process as a whole. That process, in turn, revolves around a concept he calls agenda. “We set out in our projects to figure out what the project’s agenda should be, then we set out to delimit the constraints,” he said. “Then we try to find the embodiment of the agenda that will fit seamlessly within those constraints.” REX’s current projects include a pair of headquarters buildings for sister media companies in the Middle East. The stone-clad towers are covered in retractable sunshades that reference a traditional Arab Mashrabiya pattern. As an example of how constraints can influence facade design, Prince-Ramus cited the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre in Dallas. REX (with OMA) slashed the project’s envelope budget in order to build a theater that changes shape to suit different arts events. The money they were left with, said Prince-Ramus, was about what standard aluminum siding would cost—so they started there. “We made a dummy design where we spent a lot of effort trying to not design something aesthetically, but that we’d put it out to the market and uncover what in the market drove costs,” he said. In Dallas that turned out to be weight, since frequent hail storms require thick siding. REX/OMA developed a facade system of extruded tubes that would protect against hailstones while minimizing the amount of aluminum required. “We made something that was very beautiful and very unique,” said Prince-Ramus. “Certainly if we’d come back to the client with flat aluminum siding they would have said, ‘Put the money back into the facade.'...The success of the facade is why we were able to build a building that’s renowned for its ability to transform.” While the Wyly Theatre facade was shaped by financial constraints, the client’s particular vision informed the envelope for the Mercedes Benz Future Center in Stuttgart. “Part of the collective agenda was that the building should be very transparent, as opposed to museums, which tend to be very cloistered,” said Prince-Ramus. But the automaker also wanted the Future Center, which will display its vision for the future of automobile technology, to be “a beacon for sustainability.” REX’s current solution (which may change as the design develops) is to create a curtain-like sunshade that wraps around the all-glass building. The shade is opaque on one side of the building and nearly transparent on the other, and rotates with the sun’s movements. The curtain is a metaphor for the unknowability of the future: Prince-Ramus recalled the uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics, which says that it is impossible to simultaneously determine the value of certain variables. “The more you know of one, the less you know of others,” he said. “In discussions about the future, that idea seemed really inherent in what they’re doing [at Mercedes Benz].” Whatever the origin of a particular facade design, for Prince-Ramus it always comes back to performance, the standard that for him encapsulates both function and aesthetics. “The more we’ve used the word performance, the more I’m convinced it does have that dual meaning,” he said. “When [they] talk about a high-performance auto, they don’t just mean it goes from 0 to 60 in 3.2 seconds. They mean it’s sexy, too.” To hear Joshua Prince-Ramus speak next week, visit the facades+PERFORMANCE New York conference website.