In downtown San Antonio, famed New Haven, Connecticut–based firm Pelli Clarke Pelli (PCP) teamed up with local Alamo Architects to design the new Frost Bank Tower headquarters. It will be the first office tower to join the San Antonio skyline in three decades and one of several new PCP buildings in Texas, including Dallas’ McKinney & Olive tower and the Shraman South Asian Museum and Learning Center. Weston Urban and KDC of Dallas selected the firms in part because of its extreme care and attention to detail. When the firm's representatives shared the project with the selection team, they presented an impeccably detailed paper model of downtown San Antonio with a variety of different towers to illustrate a variety of choices for the site. Appropriately, PCP’s project leads, principal Bill Butler and Fred Clarke, are both native Texans who have spent ample time in San Antonio. The new tower is proposed to be 400,000 square feet, have an emphasis on sustainability, and will be integrated with the new design of the San Pedro Creek area, where architect David Adjaye just revealed his own art gallery. PCP's plan will include a new bridge and plaza. Ground breaking is slated to begin fall 2016 and completion in 2018 or '19, loosely coinciding with San Antonio’s 300-year anniversary in 2018.
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On the heels of designing Dallas’s McKinney & Olive tower, his first in the city, Cesar Pelli snagged a competitive proposal as the architect of the Shraman South Asian Museum and Learning Center. The new museum will be located at the corner of Woodall Rodgers Freeway and Field Street in downtown Dallas. Specific details on the museum have yet to be released, but it will be the first museum in the United States exclusively devoted to South Asia; much of the collection will be focused on India. Although Pelli is best known for building some of the tallest towers in the world, the museum is not intended to be a skyscraper, but rather a new cultural addition to the burgeoning area. The proposed 4.7-acre site will be a few blocks away from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and the not-yet-completed Victory Park complex, making it one of several exciting new additions to the neighborhood.
Architect David Adjaye, known for his modern, site-specific buildings including the upcoming Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, was commissioned by artist and philanthropist Linda Pace to design a structure along San Antonio’s San Pedro Creek for her eponymous foundation’s growing contemporary art collection. The new building, called Ruby City, is expected to open in 2018; groundbreaking will commence in 2016. Pace tasked Adjaye with creating a gallery space reminiscent of a building she saw in a dream. “When I visited San Antonio in 2007, and met with Linda, we sketched out ideas and together, we envisioned a building that would resonate with her dream of the Ruby City. Like a city, the design offers an organic, heuristic encounter with the Foundation’s works and my hope is that it will become a place where artists and the wider community can be inspired to realize their own dreams through a meaningful experience with contemporary art,” said Adjaye. Appropriately, Ruby City will be clad in vibrant red precast concrete panels with expansive windows overlooking the park and city. The 14,000-square-foot, two-story building will house three gallery spaces containing 800-odd paintings, sculptures, installations, and videos. “The building is envisioned as a beacon for San Antonio. The impact of the Foundation’s mission is already evidenced in San Antonio’s thriving contemporary art scene and its creative economy,” Linda Pace Foundation’s President, Rick Moore, said in a statement.
The Texas metropolis of Houston is famous (or perhaps infamous) for its sprawling footprint. But as recent census numbers affirm, that growth reflects more than just a lack of zoning—within 10 years, more people will live in Houston than Chicago, according to information from health departments in Illinois and Texas. (Read AN's feature examining Houston's first General Plan here.) Long the country's third-largest city, Chicago is projected to have just 2.5 million people by 2025. Houston is expected to surpass that number, possibly growing to 2.7 million residents. A June study by Houston's Rice University found “if both cities maintain their average growth rates of the last four years, Houston would surpass Chicago as the country's third most populous by 2030.” Previous data from the 2000 and 2010 censuses had forecast a similar changing of the guard, noting Chicago had lost 200,000 people in the millennium's first decade, while Houston gained nearly 119,000. But new data publicized by Business Insider suggests the Texas metropolis could overtake the Windy City sooner. Houston leads the nation in job growth, owing largely to its expanding population.
Images for a plan to build a skyscraper complex in north Dallas have been making waves across the web. The so-called Harwood Phase XII would top out at 1,080 feet over the Texas city. Dallas-based developer Harwood International submitted the proposal to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in August as the buildings height means it may disrupt to flight paths in the area. Online, the images have been gaining coverage attracting significant attention despite the fact that the proposal is still awaiting approval and could change as plans are refined. The project looks set to visually dominate its surroundings, and developers hope it will attract visitors to the area. The renderings show extensive use of trees and other natural features to liven up the area. They will also complement the use of wood that is featured as an accent in the project. The towers are generally clad in glass, and often include eroded box forms with softened corners. Speaking to Dallas News, local developer Harwood International said the images are "not exact representations of what might actually be built." "They are some renderings we had done a while back—they are really old,” Jihane Boury, Harwood vice president of leasing said. "We are still studying what we are going to do there." Despite their age, the images drew recent online attention after a user posted to the Dallas section of social media website Reddit. The Dallas-based firm's long-term plans appear to be in place as they aim for the structure be home to shops, eatery's and high-rise residential flats.
An important milestone for what is set to be Dallas' newest landmark was just reached as the first arch of Santiago Calatrava's Margaret McDermott Bridges project was completed in late August. As part of Dallas-Fort Worth region's Horseshoe Project, the Margaret McDermott Bridges, according to a press release, "are a major component of the city’s urban revitalization efforts." The project will span 1,200 feet across the Trinity River creating what is set to be a "central gathering place." Currently, the Eastbound Bridge Arch rises 275 feet above Interstate 30 and the project is due to be completed during the summer of 2017. The last arch piece, which was lifted roughly 28 stories on August 22, is approximately 1,024 feet long and weighs about 200 tons. The news is a boost for locals who eagerly anticipate its completion as it will provide pedestrian, cycle and car access to both sides. Costing a total of $113 million, the bridges barely take a chunk out of the $798 million Horseshoe project which looks to solve the city's infrastructure needs and traffic flow to the heart of Dallas’ downtown. For the entire duration of construction of the Margaret McDermott Bridge, Interstate 30 main lines have remained open.
Taking a cue from a program in Houston, Dallas has decided to house 50 homeless people using low-cost cottages designed by bcWORKSHOP, short for Building Community Workshop. The small dwellings are expected to open to residents in late October. Each person will have his or her own 400-square-foot home complete with a compact kitchen, living room, bedroom, and bathroom. The homes also include access to a shared green recreational space as well as "on-site high-quality mental & medical healthcare and social services." Speaking to Dallas News Larry James, president and chief executive of CitySquare (who will also offer job training among other social services) said: “We found out that if we take the 200 most expensive people, the average person in the top 200 is costing taxpayers about $40,000 a year to keep them on the street.” This fits with the statement made by the executive director of Cottages at Hickory Crossing, Keith Ackerman, who told the Huffington Post that the program will reduce these costs to under $13,000 per person, saving the taxpayer an estimated $1.3million. The project has already received an AIA Dallas Design Award. It has taken six years to come to fruition running up a cost of $8.2 million, most of which has largely been fundraised. Meanwhile, the program has asked the public to help by purchasing furniture from Target via their gift registry. The move by Dallas is not new. Similar developments are cropping up across the country in what is becoming a national trend. Cities like Nashville, TN, has its own group of micro houses, part of the so-called "Infinity Village" which houses six homeless people.
Master adobe architects are looking for volunteers interested in building with little more than the earth around them
Simone Swan is perhaps this country’s most important advocate for adobe or mud brick architecture. In 1997, Swan left her New York home and moved to “500 acres of scenic fringe of the Chihuahuan desert near Presidio, Texas. There she founded the Adobe Alliance to teach the earth building techniques she had learned from the great Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy. Swan also built an adobe studio and home that featured dramatic earthen vaults using a techniques she learned under Fathy. But now, due to unusual weather patterns in the region, the vaults have fallen and Swan is seeking volunteers to rebuild them and learn the crafts and techniques of earth architecture. The work will be supervised by Swan and Mexican adobe master Fernando Pina, who will handcraft a Nubian vaulted roof measuring 23-feet by 10-feet on the property. For further information, visit the Adobe Alliance website, or call 505-988-2828, or email email@example.com. Preferably bring your passport to cross the Mexican border (the mud bricks will be made in Mexico) or driver's license. Camping and hot showers are available immediately, whereas the kitchen will be operating as soon as the vault is built. For every day bring drinking water, your dog, and sun protection. For environmental, architectural, or engineering students, a certificate of completion is offered.
Envelope inspired by history of Dallas' African-American community.For the past 20 years, San Antonio–based Muñoz & Company (formerly Kell Muñoz Architects) has focused primarily on what president and CEO Henry Muñoz III calls "the architecture of identity." The bulk of that work, in turn, has been concentrated on the United States–Mexico border, where the architects collaborated with clients in majority-Latino communities.The commission to design Billy Dade Middle School (in a joint venture with KAI Texas) represented a departure from the firm's usual context. "It struck us that this particular campus had such a rich history and location—in the urban core of the city, and an area where the African-American community has been so important, historically," recalled Muñoz. "It was a great opportunity to explore what that means in the 21st century." Working closely with local residents, Muñoz & Company settled on the metaphor of a quilt, announcing the school's commitment to culturally attuned education with a translucent facade in multicolored glass and illuminated brick. Much of the preparation for the project took place outside the studio. "We approached it not just as designers, but in a more scholarly fashion," said Muñoz. The architects researched the school's namesake—educator, parent, and activist Dr. Billy Earl Dade—through interviews with family members and colleagues as well as archival materials found in a local museum. The linchpin of the design, however, fell into place at a dinner event Muñoz attended. There he asked Claudine Brown, assistant secretary for education and access at the Smithsonian Institution, to help him brainstorm a symbol of cultural identity in the African-American community, one that could help inspire young minds. "Immediately, with no hesitation, she said, 'I think you should look at quilts,'" said Muñoz. As the conversation and further research progressed, he learned that quilts have been used to tell stories, as visual signposts for safety, and as subtle acts of resistance—as well as to meet a basic need for warmth. In addition, said Muñoz, "We found superb artistry, [including] quilting collectives that keep the tradition alive." On the school's exterior, the architects expressed the quilt metaphor with multicolored glass walls fronting diagonal bays. Beyond the reference to quilts as cultural artifacts, the pattern projects a belief in the community's resilience. "That glass wall is an important way of expressing how anything can be woven together," said Muñoz. A patchwork rhythm recurs more subtly in the facade's brick walls, where transparent glass elements preserve a sense of openness. "At night, when the glass curtain wall is so transparent—like a lantern—you also get a sense of that in the brick wall," he explained. The entrance canopy, clad primarily in metal, deepens the material diversity of the building envelope, underlining the design's focus on inclusiveness. "You should be able to be yourself as you walk under it," said Muñoz. The quilt theme continues throughout the interior, notably in the tiled floors (inspired by the work of quilting cooperative Gee's Bend), displays of text from Dade's writings, quilts commissioned for the library, and a collection of salvaged doors lining the lobby walls. "Dade was a really strong mentor in an intergenerational fashion," explained Muñoz. We looked at a speech he made about opportunity and thought, 'What if we harvested doors from the neighborhood?' So in the lobby you see this patchwork of doors, meant to be doors of opportunity." Built to meet Dallas Independent School District's stringent environmental standards, Billy Dade "combined [environmental] sustainability with the idea of cultural sustainability," explained Muñoz. Though in keeping with the firm's track record of community-based design, the project was nonetheless a learning opportunity for the architects. "This was the first time that we've [designed] a school that is multicultural in a different way than what we've been used to working with," he said. "While the population was different, I hope people found something that they can see themselves in."
Barnett Newman: The Late Collection The Menil Collection 1533 Sul Ross Street, Houston, Texas Through August 2 The Late Collection pays homage to Barnett Newman, an artist who came to define the spiritual aspirations of American painting in the mid-20th century by deviating from traditional concepts of figure and foreground in search of an experience of the sublime. The exhibition charts the technical and material transformations of the twilight period of Newman’s career, including his transition from oil to acrylic paint. The artist passed at age 65, leaving behind finished and unfinished works, many of which lay bare the concepts underlying his broader production. Newman’s signature paintings are of large and bold vertical planes of color with upright lines that he called “zips.” Zips, he thought, would reach out to the viewer and lift them out of their torpor into a confrontation with eternity. The exhibition also features major paintings made throughout Newman’s career from The Menil’s permanent collection. While visiting, also note that construction has begun on The Menil Drawing Institute, designed by Los Angeles architectural practice Johnston Marklee.
As EcoServices team leader for Kirksey Architecture, Julie Hendricks spends her days thinking about how to build sustainably without busting a project's budget. On a typical job, whether for Kirksey or an outside firm, "we look at energy use, daylighting, and site analysis," she explained. "We do a lot of different studies to make sure buildings are performing at the highest level." The EcoServices team also conducts non-billable research, primarily focused on comparing actual to projected performance on buildings designed in-house. Hendricks will present an example from her research portfolio on June 18 at the Facades+AM Houston symposium. Achieving sustainability goals is particularly challenging in Houston, said Hendricks. "We feel like we have a unique and especially difficult climate because of the humidity and heat," said Hendricks. As a result, she explained, they have a limited range of passive strategies to work with; yet passive interventions are the most straightforward and cost-effective tools for mitigating thermal gain and moisture transfer. "That's the number one thing we deal with, and have tried to become experts in," she said. The hot Texas sun can be especially hard to beat. Too often, said Hendricks, facades systems are applied counter to their intended use. "One of our favorite games on the EcoServices Team is to drive around and point out ineffective shading devices," she said. "It's ironic, because they're really expensive. It means someone's investing in a device that has a purely aesthetic function." On the flip side, Hendricks is encouraged by the increasing availability of glass products with built-in thermal protections. "When we can [mitigate solar gain] with just glass, those solutions tend to be more affordable," she explained, citing glazing with embedded shading devices, ceramic frit glass, and electrochromic glass as examples worth exploring. Besides the potential to keep costs down, these options better satisfy clients seeking a streamlined curtain wall aesthetic. Catch up with Hendricks and other experts in high performance facade design and fabrication at Facades+AM Houston. Register now on the event website.
As founding principal of Muñoz Albin, Jorge Muñoz has a unique global perspective on high performance facade design. Based in Houston, the firm's earliest projects were located overseas. "In the last 20 plus years, we have worked and continue to work on projects in Western Europe, where there is a tradition of more generous budgets on building envelopes as well as more flexible user and developer demands on efficiency," said Muñoz. Over the course of his career, Muñoz—who will bring his comparative point of view to a panel on "Current Projects Pushing the Envelope" at next month's Facades+AM Houston symposium—has observed the tendency of facade design and construction technologies to vary from one locale to the next. "There are many exceptions to this rule, but in general, a building envelope matches the market expectations and budget allocation of where the building is being built," he explained. "Climate, program, environmental performance, and design challenges are different in different markets." In Houston, said Muñoz, building envelopes have evolved alongside the economy. "One can see double skin solutions built in the early 1960s, and advanced solutions in the 1970s," he said. "While Houston has lived through many years of pragmatic envelopes, in the last few years architects have been pushing for more and more sophisticated solutions." Houston has tended to be "timid" when it comes to adopting advancements in envelope design, explained Muñoz, but is beginning to consider cutting-edge performance solutions. "In time, we will have some of those buildings in our city," he said. As for local projects, Muñoz expressed admiration for HOK's Sysco headquarters phase one building. The building is on the older side, but "the massing as well as the envelope design denotes a sophisticated understanding of performance and aesthetics," he said. Like conference co-chair Kristopher Stuart, he also pointed to Pickard Chilton's Exxon complex in the Woodlands, as "another example of a complex and sophisticated envelope solution that is worth studying and understanding." Muñoz and Stuart also agree that another Pickard Chilton project, the under-construction 609 Main Street, is worth a close look. "It will offer not only a double- or triple-layered skin that also envelopes an eroding and slightly more plastic building massing, the first in the city," said Muñoz. Muñoz looks forward to a productive dialogue among panelists and attendees at Facades+AM Houston. "I think that facade design is a fascinating subject, and one that elicits plurality of thought," he said. "It will be most interesting to hear about the current trends in the city." Visit the Facades+AM website today to learn more or to register.