As implied by its name, Confluence Park overlooks the meeting of San Pedro Creek and the San Antonio River in San Antonio, Texas. Located about three miles south of downtown, the park acts as a gateway for the historic Mission Reach section of the San Antonio River. The $13.7 million project includes an education center and extensive landscaping that illustrates the diverse biomes of Texas. But what most visitors will remember about the 3.5-acre park are the nearly 30-foot-tall concrete petals that emerge from the ground to form a sprawling overhead canopy. Twenty-two of these sculptural panels are clustered together to form a single, large, open-air pavilion. Another six are paired together to form three smaller gathering areas. In addition to providing relief from the South Texas sun, these panels are shaped so that when it rains, they channel water into an integrated system of rainwater collection, filtration, and dispersal. All of this reinforces the stated mission of the park, which is to act as a destination for recreation while teaching important lessons about environmental science and sustainability. To that end, the design team sought to create a composition of architectural and landscape elements that used the same kind of logic found in nature. Ball-Nogues Studio, a Los Angeles–based design practice, established the park’s conceptual master plan. From there, the design was developed in close collaboration with the landscape architect Rialto Studio, Lake|Flato Architects, and Matsys, a San Francisco–based design practice that specializes in the development of new approaches to architectural design and fabrication. That particular skill set was critical in the development of the park’s concrete. Given the structural gymnastics involved, the project’s structural engineer, Architectural Engineers Collaborative (AEC), became an integral part of the design team as well. Although petals of steel, fabric, and wood were all considered during the design process, concrete was ultimately selected for its durability and permanence. Even though the majority of funding for the project came from private donations, Confluence Park functions as a public park, and so vandalism and long-term resiliency were key considerations. Despite the apparent complexity of the assembled petals, the design only required three unique petal shapes. These three forms were refined digitally using Grasshopper and Rhino. The resulting computer files were then provided to Kreysler & Associates and fed to their large 5-axis CNC router at their factory in California. The resulting Styrofoam “positives” were then used to manufacture the fiberglass “negatives” that were shipped to San Antonio to be used as formwork for the petals. Each of the park’s 28 petals was cast on-site but not in place. Given their complex geometry, a portion of the petal had to be exposed during the pour. This resulted in two contrasting concrete textures: a smooth finish where the concrete was poured into the fiberglass form, and a broom finish where the concrete was left exposed. As with many other aspects of the project, a custom solution was required here, too. A special eight-inch broom was used to apply the finish consistently to the petal’s curved form and to emulate the flow of water down the petals. After the concrete had cured for several days, the petals were lifted into their final positions. As with any tilt-up concrete structure, this was the moment when the highest stresses would be placed upon the petals. Adding to the complexity of the erection process was the fact that the petals had to be assembled in pairs: neighboring petals were joined to one another with two steel pin connections to form a determinant structure. The result of all this effort is a unique landmark on the south side of San Antonio. Despite the weight of the concrete petals—individual petals weigh between 15 and 20 tons each—the resulting structure feels remarkably light. The space between individual petals contributes to this feeling of weightlessness, while acrylic lenses embedded in the concrete add a bit of playfulness to the overall composition. In addition to illustrating the possibilities of contemporary concrete construction, Confluence Park demonstrates what is possible when a highly collaborative interdisciplinary design team works with an educated client to create something truly unique. It is only fitting that a park built to celebrate the confluence of diverse bodies of water be created by a confluence of diverse design professionals. Pavilion Design Matsys Landscape Architect Rialto Studio Structural Engineer Architectural Eng. Collaborative MEP CNG Engineering, PLLC Lighting Designer Mazzetti Energy Consultants Positive Energy Waterproofing Consultant Acton Partners This article originally appeared in the July/August issue of Texas Architect magazine.
Posts tagged with "Texas":
Morphosis has announced that it is developing a design and masterplan for a 150,000 square-foot expansion of the Museum of Texas Tech University. Established in 1929, the museum moved to its current 238,000 square-foot facility in 1970 and is cited as the largest and most diverse university museum in the nation. In its main building, it houses a massive collection of 8 million objects representing the range of subjects taught at Texas Tech and provides students and community members with relevant programming. Also part of the museum’s facilities are the Lubbock Lake Landmark, the Natural Science Research Laboratory, and the Moody Planetarium. According to a press release, the new Morphosis-designed masterplan will expand the focus of the museum beyond its permanent collections and will reflect the breadth of innovation happening at the university. The design of the “Universiteum of Texas Tech” will be led by firm founder Thom Mayne and principal Arne Emerson and will add 40,000 square-feet of flexible gallery space, a community engagement center, more laboratories, work areas, and a collection of storage facilities to the existing museum on the university’s campus in Lubbock, Texas. “We envision our design to act as a connector that knits together the existing museum and cultural buildings with the larger Texas Tech campus,” Emerson told The Architect’s Newspaper, “while providing a new gateway that engages the existing building and planetarium in a dialogue.” The architects will draw upon the rich history and ecology of the Western High Plains to develop a masterplan that highlights the school’s leadership in research and creativity across its various disciplines including STEM, health sciences, humanities, and the arts. The project is expected to also showcase a new model for university-community engagement. The new Universiteum will add additional research space for students within the university's Museum Science and Heritage Management programs, and it will also act as a gathering place for the public to further engage in special exhibitions and programming. In addition, it will feature the first large traveling exhibition gallery capable of housing major blockbuster shows in West Texas. The Museum of Texas Tech University is Morphosis’s second museum project in Texas. Their design for the Perot Museum of Nature and Science opened in Dallas in 2012.
New York-based studio The Very Many has designed and built a sinuous canopy that hovers over the entrance to a public pool in El Paso, Texas with In*Situ Architecture working as the architect-of-record. Dubbed 'Marquise', the canopy creates an entry structure for El Paso’s Westside Natatorium. The design studio, led by Marc Fornes, with engineering from LaufsED, formed a self-supporting structure made of gridded, curvilinear panels. There are hundreds of lightweight aluminum shingles that form a larger surface, with gaps in between to produce a dappled lighting effect below. A diamond-like pattern in gradients of rich yellows and deep blues plays off the “fluctuations between warm and cool” of the desert setting and is meant to “saturate the palette of the surrounding landscape.” The curved surfaces create an impression of a billowing tent rising from the ground, where it then organically forms two seats that are actually cast-in-place concrete elements. From the organic form of the awning, visitors have a unique spatial experience with alternating sensations of warmth and coolness, light and shade. The Very Many is known for designing and building thin-shell pavilions and installations. In the same vein, Marquis achieves its thinness through compound curvature and structural shingles in two different thicknesses: 1/8 inch at its thinnest and 3/16 inch for reinforcement and resistance to point loads. The name Marquise references the structure's 21st century play on the Art Nouveau entrance, which is historically classified as a curvilinear steel frame and glass awning that is either attached to buildings or freestanding. Here, aluminum replaces the glass-and-steel frame to create a unified structure.
It’s no hyperloop, but construction of a 200-mile-per-hour bullet train from Houston to Dallas could begin as early as next year. Add in the recently announced Amtrak partnership that will cover last-mile trips and tie into the rail company’s established interstate network, and Texas is looking at a major mass transit expansion. Developers Texas Central Partners (TCP) will be privately financing the $15 billion, 240-mile-long high-speed rail line, and have been on a public outreach spree as they attempt to drum up support and garner feedback for their proposal. TCP argues that the Texas Bullet Train will bring in $3 billion in state and local tax revenue through 2040, in addition to the $36 billion in direct spending; not to mention the tens of thousands of projected construction jobs. TCP is still hashing out the exact station locations but are planning on building the 60-acre Dallas stop south of the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center, with a footbridge from the station to the convention center. On the other side of the 90-minute trip in Houston, TCP has chosen the city’s Northwest Mall as the preferred location for their station. The mall site will give way to a 45-acre, multi-level train complex with easy access to I-610 and U.S. 290. Additional stops between the two cities, such as in the city of Byran/College Station, have already been confirmed. Still, not everyone is on board with the rail plan, and landowners along the proposed route have fought and lobbied their state legislators over the company possible use of eminent domain to acquire their property. TCP has outlined their process for picking up the required properties, including offering market value for parcels in the Bullet Train’s path and pledging to minimize the impact on landowners. That hasn’t stopped the opposition from filing a flurry of bullet train bills in the state Senate, though only two of the proposed twenty measures managed to pass. As a result the state will not use taxpayer fund for the project, a move that TCP did not oppose. The free-market funding requirement hasn’t slowed the Bullet Train's progress down, and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), a subsection of the United States Department of Transportation, has given the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) the green light. The FRA also proposed an optimal route that would disrupt the least amount of people, and engineering and construction firms WSP, Fluor, Bechtel, and Lane Construction are now all helping to lay the groundwork for the project’s eventual construction. The Amtrak tie-in certainly won’t hurt the project’s chances, but high-speed rail remains notoriously expensive. Although high-speed rail has historically floundered in the U.S., such as the $77 billion north-south bullet train currently under construction in California, TCP's business plan, and the use of private funds, combined with the high level of government support, has helped the project avoid the hurdles plaguing similar projects. "We are working on the train every day," said TCP spokesperson Holly Reed. "This is the right project being done the right way at the right time - the Texas Way. That means it will be the safest way to travel in the world, built and operated based on data-driven decisions from free market principles and no state appropriations. Texas is proving again to be a leader in transportation, and the train is a key tool in the state’s infrastructure toolbox as a safe, reliable and environmentally friendly option that efficiently will move our growing population."
Rice University professor Timothy Morton and Ballroom Marfa Director and Curator Laura Copelin. It looks at Morton’s theory in addressing the prevalent ecological crisis faced by the world today. Morton asks pressing questions of global warming, plastic in the ocean, and nuclear waste in his 2013 book, Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World. With immersive video and sound installations, landscape interventions, and other direct sensory experiences, the artists’ pieces seek to challenge the way the audience sees and experiences the universe. The exhibition features works by Tara Donovan, Emilija Škarnulyte, Sissel Marie Tonn, and others.
The Texas Rangers will move to an HKS-designed new stadium in Arlington by 2020. The new venue, Globe Life Field, will hold 41,000 seats and a 1.7 million-square-feet ballpark. It will be home to games ranging from high school and college sporting events to professional, international games. The $1.1-billion baseball park broke ground in September 2017 and is now under construction. When completed, Globe Life Field will join the Texas Live! entertainment district as a new destination for entertainment tours. Taking into consideration the hot climate of the state, HKS introduced climate-controlling infrastructure, including the massive retractable roof that would open and close depending on the weather. The design aims to improve the comfort of watching games, with wider seats and varied front-row seating design. Two concourse rings allow for easy circulation. Restrooms and concessions are receded from the seating bowl to avoid the obstruction of views. HKS designed the plaza-facing north wall with a mixture of 18 brick, Texas limestone, granite arches filled with curtain walls in between. People will be able to walk on the corridor underneath the arches, which is the main concourse, and look down onto the plaza on one side and the game on the other. The design of a large plaza and multi-level landscape outside the stadium was inspired by Texas farmhouse porches. The project also borrowed elements from other ballparks, paying tribute to the neighboring, old Globe Life Park by using arches. It also referenced other local arch-sporting landmarks, such as the historic Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo in San Antonio and the Kahn-designed Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth.
When nine-year-old African American caddie Alvin Propps was arrested for playing golf at the newly desegregated Lions Municipal Golf Course in Austin, Texas in 1950, it set off a firestorm that eventually made its way to the mayor’s office. As the first peacefully desegregated golf course in the former Confederate South during the Jim Crow era, the course became the center of controversy, but when the mayor’s office decided to drop the charges, it set a precedent, and Lions Municipal became open to African Americans from that day forward. However, the course is now threatened by private development after the City of Austin decided in 2011 to not renew the lease on the 1924 course just two miles west of the Texas state capitol. In 2019, it could be handed over to developers. “Historians searching for the impetus of the 'classical phase of the Civil Rights Movement,' preceding Brown v. Board in 1954 and the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955, have posited a 'long civil rights movement' that preceded those iconic struggles. In other words, Lions Municipal Golf Course is representative of the 'birth of the civil rights movement,” said Glenda Gilmore, the Peter V. and C. Vann Woodward Professor of History at Yale University in a post by the Cultural Landscape Foundation. The city has floated the idea of preserving the clubhouse, but not the course, but many critics say that because the structure wasn’t part of the site when the desegregation happened, preserving the clubhouse alone is not enough. The Congressional Black Caucus has voiced support and measures to protect the course, and the Texas House of Representatives, the City of Austin, and Travis County, Texas have all passed resolutions acknowledging the historical importance of the site.
The first part of phase 1 of the San Pedro Creek redevelopment in San Antonio, Texas, is now open to the public, and the waterway’s rejuvenation has been touted as a celebration of Latino culture in the city. San Antonio-based Muñoz and Company was tapped in 2015 to design the 2.2-mile-long restoration of what was then a concrete drainage ditch. The completion of phase 1.1, a 2,200-foot-long stretch of riverwalk christened San Pedro Creek Culture Park, marks just one part of a four-phase plan to revitalize the 2.2-mile-long creek. “As the Trump administration boasts about building a wall between us and our Mexican roots, San Pedro Creek will be a national symbol for Latino and Anglo communities actually coming together to celebrate their shared values, history, and future,” said Henry R. Muñoz, Principal in Charge at Muñoz and project lead. “This unveiling marks the start of San Pedro Creek’s restoration, turning this neglected creek into the ‘Latino High Line,’ which exemplifies the community’s rich heritage and stands for a national dialogue playing out in nearly every city across the country.” The opening of the first phase on May 5 coincided with the 300th anniversary of San Antonio and was commemorated by the unveiling of Rain from the Heavens, a public art installation cut on stainless steel panels depicting what the stars looked like that night in 1718. Also on display in the Cultural Park are murals that honor the local culture of San Antonio and surrounding Bexar County, by artists Adriana Garcia, Katie Pell, Alex Rubio, and Joe Lopez. San Pedro Creek once flowed freely through the city but has been deepened, rerouted, and sometimes covered entirely since the 1700s. Each area of the river will eventually have its own design and accompanying visual identity, but retain a focus on the local ecology, history of San Antonio, and the water itself. The San Pedro Creek Culture Park section is hemmed in by historic limestone walls, and features widened walkways, a new boardwalk overlook, benches, and new landscaping that uses indigenous aquatic plants and trees. The widening and deepening of the creek also boosted the waterway’s ability to sequester stormwater, in addition to the five new bioswales that were installed. Phase 1.2 of the project is under construction and set to finish in 2020.
After a highly anticipated opening last summer, the Santiago Calatrava-designed Margaret McDermott Bridge in Dallas, Texas, has been plagued with cable rod issues, according to the Dallas Observer. The Margaret McDermott Bridge spans the Trinity River and is part of the Dallas-Fort Worth region’s Horseshoe Project, a plan meant to revitalize downtown Dallas by addressing the city’s traffic congestion. Work on the Margaret McDermott Bridge was spurred on by the public’s reception to the iconic Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in 2012, a cable-stayed bridge supported by a 400-foot-tall, central, arched pylon. While the concrete core of the Margaret McDermott Bridge, which extends Interstate 30 and supports vehicle traffic, opened in 2013, the 1,200-foot-long suspension arches, designed by Calatrava, were appended to both sides of the bridge separately to give it a “signature element.” The east span was supposed to support the bike and pedestrian lanes, but has remained closed due to safety concerns after several engineering issues came to light. In a bid to save as much money as possible, the construction contractors and city of Dallas worked out an agreement to skip stress testing for the design, which would have spotted the vulnerability earlier. The use of smaller, cheaper adjustment rods, has led to the cables vibrating in the intense wind over the river, and both the walking and bike paths remain closed since the bridge’s completion. Heavy dampers were later installed to minimize the movement of the cables after several failed, owing to the undue stress caused by the vibrations. Both lanes currently remain blocked with notices that threaten legal action against trespassers. The spans have been causing problems since their inception. After Calatrava initially proposed a $200 million bridge with four arches, the city was only able to wrangle $92 million, knocking the two interior archways off the bridge. The cost soon ballooned to $115 million, which the city promised to make up for through donations and value engineering; it now seems that original decision will end up costing the city even more money down the line. Calatrava argued that the testing should have gone ahead and offered to pay out of pocket. Some have questioned the installation of a suspension bridge near Dallas, real or fake, in the first place. “We are not a city with a large navigable river that would warrant a suspension bridge,” said Dallas City Council member Scott Griggs. “This is Texas, not Spain.” Calatrava's projects are no stranger to controversy, from the highly publicized leaks in the lower Manhattan Oculus to the recent halt in construction on the World Trade Center complex Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox National Shrine. It remains to be seen how much it will cost to fix these engineering oversights, or how much of the blame will fall on Calatrava.
2017 Best of Design Award for Infrastructure: The Regional Unified Network Designer: ReThinkStudio Location: New York
The Regional Unified Network (RUN) is a multistage proposal to unlock the full potential of the Tri-State area’s mass transit system by making a few crucial investments at key choke points. With the creation of new transit hubs and more useful service patterns, RUN will allow the region to develop as a connected whole rather than a series of parts. RUN repurposes existing infrastructure, reallocates or redirects proposed spending, and fits within the overall funding commitments already made. When fully built, RUN will enable travelers to get to any point in the region via mass transit, either directly or with seamless and easy connections just like London’s Crossrail or the Paris RER. “The idea that this is a game changer for New York is obviously an understatement. This city needs bold and big ideas to wrestle with its failings in infrastructure.” —Nathaniel Stanton, principal, Craft Engineer Studio (juror) Honorable Mention Project: Houston-Galveston Area Protection System Designer: Rogers Partners Location: Galveston Bay, Texas The Houston-Galveston Area Protection System (H-GAPS) is a regional surge protection system. The H-GAPS strategy involves multiple lines of defense, combining a coastal spine-type barrier system with an in-bay barrier system. Once complete, HGAPS will contribute 9,000 acres of publicly-accessible waterfront destination for the enjoyment of residents and visitors.
2017 Best of Design Award for Adaptive Reuse: The Contemporary Austin, Jones Center Architect: Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis Architects Location: Austin, Texas Formed from the merging of Arthouse and the Austin Museum of Art, the Contemporary Austin is a 23,800-square-foot museum in the heart of Austin. The building presents a fresh identity for the new organization, while preserving and adding to the century-old building’s history of transformations from a theater, a department store, and a local art center to a highly refined exhibition space. The most public aspect of the renovation comprises a perforated aluminum canopy that floats 23 feet above the roof deck, providing shelter from the elements and framing site-specific art installations on the parapet. The canopy supports a retractable weather curtain, monumentally scaled at over 5,600 square feet. Key to the renovations, though less visible by design, are alterations that provide increased capacity for large-scale artworks and exhibitions, including enlarged access panels, a high-capacity scissor lift, environmental control upgrades, and improvements to the building envelope. "Simultaneously serious and whimsical, the project is a beacon not only for Austin, but for adaptive reuse in general—inspiring for its inventiveness." —Eric Bunge, Principal, nARCHITECTS (juror) Construction Manager: Zapalac/Reed Construction Company MEP Engineer: Kent Consulting Engineers Structural Engineer: MJ Structures Lighting Designer: Lumen Architecture Curtain Fabricator: Contract Workroom Honorable Mentions Project: New Lab at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Firm: Marvel Architects Location: Brooklyn, New York The New Lab transforms Building 128 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, once a shipbuilding factory, into a high-tech design and prototyping center. A variety of classes and educational programs will provide job training for Navy Yard tenants and other high-tech manufacturers, as well as local entrepreneurs wishing to advance their skills. Honorable Mention Project: Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), The Robert W. Wilson Building Architect: Bruner/Cott Architects Place: North Adams, Massachusetts Mass MoCA breathes new life into a 17-acre industrial complex built in the late 1800s with this pioneering adaptive reuse project. The museum was completed in three phases, with the Robert W. Wilson Building being MASS MoCA’s final realization of its “museums within the museum” concept.
Newly released records have cast light on the Army Corps of Engineers’ assessment of border wall plans in South Texas. Spanning 33 miles across the Rio Grande Valley, the 15 proposed walls would tear through wildlife habitats, RV parks and involve costly legal battles over the Trump administration’s efforts to acquire privately held land. The documents, obtained by the Texas Observer with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, have broken down the ease of building each segment into “least challenging," “challenging” and “most challenging.” Only seven of the proposed 21 sections are rated as “least challenging,” with challenges for the other tracts ranging from existing infrastructure to unequal terrain. “Nice RV park, many retirees live there permanently. Western half of segment will impacts upward of 100 homeowners,” reads a two-mile-long “most challenging” entry. Another notes that the wall will need to cut through a dam that holds back a nearby town’s reservoir of drinking water. Others comment on the proximity of housing along the wall’s route, leading to questions over how the federal government will try to reconcile building on private land when there are already 320 cases in the Rio Grande Valley pending from a similar 2007 expansion. This wouldn’t be the first time the Trump administration has tried to push through border wall construction in the area. The 2,088-acre Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge in South Texas is one of the largest refuges in the country, but the federal government has already begun plans to bisect the park with a levee wall. Despite the backlash from the public and government officials, the government owns the refuge and work is moving forward. Labeled as a pilot project, the images released today depict a concrete based wall topped with 18-foot-tall steel bollards. Reportedly costing $15 million per mile, the Army Corps anticipates a completion date of July 2019. However, these new documents show that the levee wall isn’t Santa Ana’s only concern. The administration now wants to add a 150-foot-wide paved enforcement zone running south of the levee wall, complete with 120-foot surveillance towers, lights, and underground motion sensors. Scott Nicol is co-chair of the Sierra Club’s borderlands team, and put in the original FOIA request. “With this type of construction it would be difficult for Santa Ana to stay open,” said Nicol. The enforcement zone isn’t just limited to the refuge, according to the Army Corps’ analysis. Several entries comment on the difficulty of acquiring the land required for the zone, with one stating “Church and cemetery directly impacted by enforcement zone.” The release of this feasibility study closely follows the recent unveiling of eight border wall prototypes. Although funding for the border wall is still being fiercely contested, it seems the Trump administration is moving ahead in any way it can.