Posts tagged with "Warehouses":

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FreelandBuck throws the cubicle wildly off-grid for this L.A. office

With their recent designs for the Los Angeles offices of international media company Hungry Man Productions, architects FreelandBuck explored the decorative potential of the average office cubicle with whimsy and explosive exuberance. The New York City– and Los Angeles–based architects renovated the interior of an existing 8,000-square-foot warehouse structure in L.A., upending the traditional office layout and utilizing abstracted decorative molding profiles as cladding for cubicle walls. The effort was fueled by an adventurous client that wanted a “dynamic and lighthearted working environment.” That desire resulted in a quizzical collection of stacked cubicles—each one turned askew—organized around a collection of shared open spaces. David Freeland, principal at FreelandBuck, explained that the firm set out to deconstruct the prototypical office and to “engage office culture in a way that makes it not mundane or rudimentary.” In plan, it looks rather chaotic, a byproduct of the firm’s playful massing approach that conceals a finely tuned organizational scheme designed to facilitate the musical chairs–style teamwork approach Hungry Man promotes. The offices are used for everything from client meetings to production projects and even casting calls and photo shoots, circumstances that require the spaces to function as a casual backdrop and formal business environment all at once. As a response, the plan is broken up into several zones: a clustered private office pod near the entrance, a dining and meeting core in a far corner, and an open-office work area in another, capped by a mezzanine filled with more private offices. After every few steps, the shifting and patterned cubicles create an entirely new and different view, framing recognizable, but ambiguous, glimpses of other office areas. The cubicles stack in certain places to create thresholds, resulting in casual indoor rooms lit by soft skylights above. They are also meant to be decorative and act as display cases for Hungry Man’s extensive collection of legacy props. The cubicles are wrapped in MDF cladding produced by a line-based CNC mill and fabricated locally to create a “fantastically inexpensive” finishing material that, for the architects, approximates the “roundness and supple depth” of a line drawing. “We wanted to make a playful connection to the office cube as a fundamental unit of typical office space,” Freeland explained. “Part of breaking loose from the conventional associations of ‘office cubicle’ was to use it for different purposes and organize it in different ways.”
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Robotics and fulfillment centers are reshaping retail—and cities could be next

The city of Leonia refashions itself every day: every morning the people wake between fresh sheets, wash with just-unwrapped cakes of soap, wear brand-new clothing, take from the latest model refrigerator still-unopened tins, listening to the last-minute jingles from the most up-to-date radio. On the sidewalks…the remains of yesterday’s Leonia await the garbage truck. - Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

I just learned that my underwear, my mattress, and most of my wardrobe all came from the same place. I didn’t purchase them from a one-stop, big-box retailer, but from a no-stop, small-box room—my bedroom, to be specific (from my bed to be more precise). All I had to do was open up a web page, pick, click, and then wait as my underwear, my mattress, and most of my wardrobe were shipped from a warehouse located in a Massachusetts exurb to arrive at my doorstep in two days or fewer. The maker of this mundane miracle is a company called Quiet Logistics, a third part logistics (3PL) provider that helps online retailers like Mac Weldon, Bonobos, and Tuft & Needle reach customers as quickly as possible. They and companies like them, along with online retailer behemoth Amazon, are using new technologies to redefine retail and transform the architecture of fulfillment. And if they don’t bring about the birth of Skynet and the robot apocalypse first, they might also transform cities and towns across America.

Open up any newspaper (or newspaper app) and you’re likely to read an obituary for the shopping mall. While the reports of its death may be somewhat exaggerated, malls are indeed changing as more and more people buy, well, everything online. Some are being transformed into mixed-use “town center”-style developments; others are filling vacancies with new tenants who lean into recent consumer habits like “showrooming,” an industry term for trying on clothes in one store and then buying them online from another at a lower price. While showrooming may be the bane of many a salesperson, retailers like the aforementioned Bonobos design and build stores as showrooms: comfortable environments where customers find the right-size pants and then leave empty handed; two days later they’re delivered to their home. Any longer than that and customers might not be so quick to leave without those slim-fit chinos. Thanks to the proliferation of fulfillment centers, no one has to wait for anything anymore.

Fulfillment centers are massive warehouses where the ephemera of our lives is stored until we call upon it with a wave of our hand. The typical fulfillment center is a rectangular box built from precast concrete slabs or tilt-up concrete panels that are poured on-site and lifted into place. They range in size from 300,000 square feet to more than a million, feature hundreds of loading docks, 30-to-40-foot-tall-space-frame ceilings (cubic volume is key), and towers of nearly endless shelves containing rainbow Slinkys, Swiffer Wet Jets, Hello Kitty pencil cases, and literally everything else. “The picking towers are like mini-buildings, only without mechanical systems,” said architect Greg Lynn, who has visited two Amazon facilities and has long been interested in the formal and spatial possibilities presented by new technologies. “Then there are the massive sorting areas and areas where they compress boxes. It’s like a little world. Or a theme park.”

While large distribution centers aren’t new, the growth of online direct-to-consumer shopping has prompted a building boom of the fulfillment center. For better and worse, no company is better known for these buildings than Amazon, which has built more than one hundred fulfillment centers in America alone, totaling over 77 million square feet in size. Amazon uses a few different types of these centers, each designed to accommodate a specific type of item: small sortable items, large sortable times, large non-sortable, expensive specialty items, and apparel, as well as newer facilities designed for perishable and nonperishable food. Some are conventional centers, where products are picked and packaged by human pickers who can walk up to ten miles a day; some use mechanized conveyance and sorting systems; others are automated with robots handling most of the heavy lifting.

While Amazon is the standard-bearer for this new model of retail, it’s not alone. Logistics real estate is booming. Online retailers, 3PLs, and traditional big-box retailers like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Target have all invested heavily in new fulfillment centers to more quickly reach online customers. Target’s online sales tripled from 2013 to 2016, and in that time it nearly doubled the amount of space dedicated to e-commerce with two new fulfillment centers totaling 1.7 million square feet. According to Colliers International, in 2016 e-commerce prompted the construction of 74 million square feet of new warehouse space in the United States, with 93 percent of that space occupied. Already this year is on track to deliver another 55 million square feet, according to research firm Reis Inc., with Dallas, Chicago, Kansas City, Central New Jersey, and San Bernardino, California, as the top markets, although warehouse construction is also booming in Atlanta and Indianapolis.

As with all things real estate, it’s about location. Many of these fulfillment centers are built on former farmlands in centralized locations with easy accessibility to highways and airports. For example, Quiet’s new facility in Hazelwood, Missouri—its first outside Massachusetts—is part of a larger development of fulfillment centers built near St. Louis, where ground shipments can reach anywhere in the United States in two or three days. Amazon initially followed a different tact, building its warehouses in locations selected to take advantage of state tax policies. But those policies have changed as the industry has grown and states have grown savvier. Since 2013, Amazon has focused on building smaller fulfillment centers closer to major urban areas—sometimes even in cities—rather than building larger fulfillment centers in farther-out, less populated areas. The ultimate goal is same-day, and even same-hour, delivery.

But fulfillment isn’t just about fast delivery; it’s also about fast packaging. And that’s increasingly done by robots. In 2012 Amazon purchased Kiva Systems, now Amazon Robotics, whose rechargeable orange robots might look like a 1970s ottoman but can find anything in any warehouse instantly, and lift up to 3,000 pounds. They’re designed to move proprietary shelving “pods” along a predefined grid to workstations where real-live humans pick, pack, and prepare the items for shipment—often working on multiple orders simultaneously. Among other benefits, the Amazon Robotics system is flexible, scalable, and it’s five to six times more productive than manual picking. Plus, without the need for human-scale aisles, a fully automated warehouse requires half as much space as a traditional warehouse, and can use purchasing data to constantly rearrange itself so that the most frequently bought products are closer to the picking stations. The downside of this robot revolution? The robots can only be used to transport relatively small items that fit in the pods, and the systems requires a large and expensive investment in infrastructure—as well as a very, very flat floor.

After purchasing Kiva, Amazon took it off the market, forcing competitors who previously used them to find a new solution. This has resulted in a robot arms race as new companies rush to fill the void. One of those companies, Locus Robotics, was founded by Quiet Logistics, which was the first 3PL to use Kiva’s technology. Locus’s robots, which look like the love child of the Jetsons’ Rosie and a hat rack, can be integrated into any standard warehouse, cutting startup costs and accommodating the unpredictable nature of e-commerce. In a Locus-equipped warehouse, human pickers work in specific areas and the robots zip around each other from zone to zone, following the most efficient path to fill an order before taking it to the shipping station. Sensors, cameras, and LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) help the robots map the warehouse and keep them from running into anything or anyone. Locus markets its robot as a more collaborative, worker-friendly solution that plays to the unique skill sets of both: The robot, with its infinite spatial knowledge, limitless stamina, and complete lack of self-doubt, quickly locates and delivers items, while the nearby human, with his or her prehensile hands, picks it up and puts it in the basket. For now, anyway. The robot arms race is becoming a robot hands race as companies work to develop reliable grasping mechanisms to replace human pickers who have annoying habits like going to the bathroom and going home at the end of their shift.

These two automation systems have very different implications for warehouse design, but denser solutions like Amazon’s automated ottoman seem ideally suited to the smaller fulfillment centers encroaching into our cities with carefully calculated products selected to get more people more things in less time. Lynn believes they could do a lot more than cut down shipping time on your Crest Complete Multi-Benefit Toothpaste with Whitening + Scope. “The level of spatial intelligence in these buildings is remarkable,” he said. “It’s clear that every item is being tracked at all times. In terms of localization and knowing where things are, it’s a hyperintelligent space.… [But] how do you take that kind of spatial thinking and apply it to other building types—a library or market or university?”

Lynn has been exploring that question with architecture students at Yale and UCLA, but we may not have to wait long to find out. Amazon is already experimenting with brick-and-mortar bookstores and grocery stores. Could Amazon U really be that far out? Could logistics save the shopping mall? Should more architects and planners consider these interconnected systems and design for robots as well as people? It may only be a matter of time before automation becomes integrated into our daily lives outside the warehouse and the architecture of fulfillment becomes the architecture of the city. Beyond packing and shipping, could fleets of autonomous vehicles transform cities by making parking garages and parking lots obsolete—creating new space for fulfillment centers, perhaps, or putting a new premium on curb space for drop-offs and pick-ups? I haven’t even mentioned drones yet. As technology evolves to meet the demands of our on-demand lifestyle, what else will change? Perhaps all cities will come to resemble Calvino’s fictional Leonia, whose opulence was measured “not so much by the things that each day are manufactured, sold, [and] bought…but rather by the things that each day are thrown out to make room for the new.” Ultimately, Leonia was threatened by a looming mountain of its own leftovers. But I bet they could get new underwear delivered in less than an hour.

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Architects take cues from industrial landscape painting to transform Raleigh’s Warehouse District

Raleigh, North Carolina's diminutive Warehouse District is getting a big newcomer. Durham, North Carolina–based Duda Paine Architects has released renderings for a 17-story, mixed-use development on the current site of a three story warehouse. With land costs rising in the six-square-block area, Duda Paine decided to scale up. The complex, across the street from the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM), will be more than three times taller than its neighbors. In conversation with The News & Observer, project architect and Duda Paine partner Turan Duda explained that the firm has a "philosophy of placemaking." The design takes cues from Colin Rowe's Collage City and the paintings of Charles Sheeler. The building's variegated massing and sharp planes do somewhat evoke the geometries of the latter. Sheeler applied a pastoral eye to industrial technology; it would be interesting to see how he would have depicted the five-story-tall multimedia wall, mounted on the building's south side, that will advertise CAM events and exhibitions. The tower leans back from the street, so as to not overwhelm its neighbors. The ground level incorporates the warehouse structure, allowing brick-clad street frontage to blend in with neighboring warehouses. Steel beams from parts of the demolished warehouse will be used to cover the vestibule and a 40-by-60-foot pocket park. Ten floors of office space will sit atop a seven-story parking deck. A ninth floor lobby will accommodate a restaurant, with views of the city. On the 13th through 17th floors, a "sky window" will offer views of the city from the southern side of the building.
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Bjarke Ingels wraps the Warehouse421 cultural center with Cor-ten steel in Abu Dhabi

The Bjarke Ingels Group has finished another one—this time in the Middle East. The Copenhagen- and New York–based architecture firm’s recently completed project in Abu Dhabi, a new cultural exhibition space called Warehouse421, just opened, prompting a celebratory three-day festival featuring live musical performances, a myriad of exhibits, and interactive workshops led by art and design professionals. The project, which was commissioned by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, an organization providing support for education, arts, and cultural initiatives, is part of the revitalization of the Abu Dhabi warehouse district in the port area of Mina Zayed. The new art hub, formerly a pair of tin shed warehouses, was upgraded to encompass dynamic art gallery spaces separated by a series of five verdant courtyards, representing an important vernacular element in Middle Eastern architecture and culture. Concrete floors and white-painted steel establish a neutral interior ambiance for the viewing of artworks. A perforated mesh skin of Cor-ten steel employs Arabian geometric patterns while also echoing the rusty industrial sheds that characterize the surrounding district. The Cor-ten steel protects an insulating layer of lightweight and efficient sandwich panels. Also featured is outdoor exhibition space, where local vegetation and urban furniture create an “artificial desert landscape.” Responding to public demand for a new primary exhibition venue in the capital city, Warehouse421 is set to become a new cultural destination. It will showcase a roster of gallery shows and public programs, setting the stage for creativity throughout Abu Dhabi.
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Here’s how Morris Adjmi’s ghostly aluminum carbon copy of a warehouse in Tribeca is shaping up

On a prime Tribeca corner, Morris Adjmi has transformed an early 19th century coffee and tea warehouse into a fancy condo building—and built a mirror-image replica of the stately structure right next to it. Well, almost. Instead of repeating a brick and terracotta facade for the new building, Adjmi employs an aluminum skin with a plasma finish that reads like brick. The effect is like if the original building was dipped in silver paint. Or, as Morris Adjmi said on its website, "the new building is like a photographic negative or ghostly reflection of the original." Development watch-blog Field Condition recently stopped by the so-called Sterling Mansion where work seems pretty close to wrapping up. When completed, the project will house 32 condos, 29 of which have already been sold.
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The Westin Hamburg to be housed within the Elbe Philharmonic Complex by Herzog & de Meuron

Starwood Hotels has announced that it will open The Westin Hamburg next year in the much-anticipated Elbe Philharmonic complex. The 10-story, 205-bedroom hotel by architects Herzog & de Meuron will be housed within a glass-fronted, wave-shaped building that sits atop a historic warehouse on the banks of the river Elbe. Boasting a pointed, wave-shaped roof, the complex will also feature three concert halls, 45 private apartments and a more than 43,000 square foot, publicly accessible plaza offering 360-degree city views. A head-turning assimilation of old and new, the bottom half of the complex is a former warehouse known as Kaispecher A, designed by Werner Kallmorgen and built between 1963 and 1966 on the site of the original neo-Gothic Kaispecher. Architects Herzog & de Meuron gutted and renovated the warehouse specifically for the project. Meanwhile, the upper half of the complex is an all-glass expanse of 1,100 panes, each measuring 13–16 feet wide, with carefully placed projecting curves that give each window a fingerprint-like accent. The windows were shaped with high precision and marked with small basalt grey reflective dots that prevent the building from overheating in sunlight while creating a shimmering effect that ripples as it catches different reflections. Sandwiched between the conjunction of old and new, the aforementioned viewing plaza is set off by the contrast between the bottom half’s brickwork and the top half’s iridescent glass frontage. The hotel lobby, a café and access to the foyers of the new concert hall are also located there. At the heart of the complex is a world-class concert hall with 2,100 seats that rise up on interwoven tiers on all sides of the stage like vineyard terraces. Enter acoustics specialist Yasuhisa Toyota, who was commissioned to seal the concert hall in a material he developed known as White Skin, which also guarantees perfect acoustics. As an added precaution against sleep-deprived hotel guests, the entire concert hall is enclosed in two concrete shells. Floor and ceiling flow seamlessly into one another as if from a single skin made of 10,000 gypsum fiber panels composed of natural plaster and recycled paper. Accessing the warehouse is a journey unto itself: visitors mount a 269-foot escalator with a concrete arch, whose end cannot be seen. The glowing spherical tunnel, speckled with glass sequins that refract the light, envelops one completely. If you’re wondering about that seafaring roof, its pointy undulations consist of eight spherical, concavely bent sections merged together. It is sprinkled with 6,000 giant sequins that make it ripple and shine like the water surrounding it. Those raring to visit should bear in mind three important dates: the Westin Hamburg is due to open in October 2016, the public plaza in November 2016, while the Elbe Philharmonic will be inaugurated on January 11, 2017.
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Overland Unclogs Historic Plumbing Warehouse

San Antonio firm transforms vacant industrial building into sunlit workspace.

Dissatisfied with their two-story office, San Antonio architecture practice Overland Partners recently went looking for a new home. They found it in an unexpected place: a long-vacant plumbing supply warehouse within the city's burgeoning arts district. The 1918 Hughes Plumbing Warehouse offered the firm exactly what they wanted—a large open floor plan—in an architecturally refined package. The timber-framed, brick-clad building "is simple," said project architect Patrick Winn, "but it's really elegant and beautiful when you're able to look at it." The problem was that years of disuse had left their mark. "When we first viewed it, it was really far gone," recalled Winn. The original windows had been broken up, and the roof had flooded. Undaunted, the architects took on an extensive renovation project, with the result that today the former plumbing distribution center is a boon not just to Overland, but to the neighborhood as a whole. Prior to renovation, Hughes Warehouse was entirely encased in a double-width brick wall, except for a few garage door openings and two levels of clerestory windows. While the clerestories, approximately 16-20 inches and 20-25 inches in width, provided a good dose of daylight to the interior, they did not provide views out, nor did they facilitate the transition from parking lot to studio. "At Overland we really enjoy blurring the line between the outdoor, natural realm and the indoor, built realm," said Winn. "Right from the get-go we said: we have to cut a courtyard into the building and elongate that entry sequence." Overland carved out approximately 2,000 square feet of space for the new courtyard, which is faced with a custom glass and steel curtain wall. The transparent opening floods the office interior with light and frames views for the occupants. It has also become a de facto community space. "What's been nice is that runners' groups and cycling groups are starting to use our courtyard as a hub for activity," said Winn, who notes that live music and other events at a neighboring coffee shop are an additional draw. "It's brought a lot of life and energy into our space from the courtyard." To secure the courtyard after hours, the architects designed custom steel gates to replace the original, graffiti-covered garage doors. To tie-in to the warehouse's arts-district location, and to pay homage to the graffiti, Overland looked to Jackson Pollock for inspiration. They pixelated photographs on Photoshop before transferring the file to AutoCAD and sending the pattern on to Rivercity Industries, who laser-cut the design into the doors. The doors themselves were fabricated by Overland Workshop. "From the exterior, especially when the lights are on, when you drive by, there's almost a twinkling effect," said Winn of the perforated gates. "They're really neat."
  • Facade Manufacturer Overland Workshop, The Beck Group, Sharp Glass, Tower Steel
  • Architects Overland
  • Facade Installer The Beck Group
  • Location San Antonio, Texas
  • Date of Completion December 2012
  • System Existing brick facade with custom steel and glass curtain wall, glass and steel punch windows, clerestories
  • Products custom steel and glass curtain wall, high-performance windows, Lutron automatic shades, custom gates by Overland Workshop
The architects punched additional windows into the remaining brick facade. "We decided to honor the old brick building," said Winn. "Any new insertion is done with steel and glass." To mitigate solar gain, the new windows are extruded about a foot on the east side of the building, and about two feet on the west. The clerestories and courtyard curtain wall are equipped with automated shades. Though the original steel frames around the clerestory windows would only accept 1/4-inch laminated safety glass, the new windows feature one-inch-thick high performance glass. Additional sustainability measures include a complete board insulation system over the roof. "We loved having brick on the interior, so what we couldn't do there in terms of insulation, we made up for on the roof," explained Winn. "We over-insulated it." A rooftop solar setup offsets about 60 percent of the office's energy consumption. In addition, the architects re-used original materials wherever possible. They built the interior stairs out of old joists, and the contractor saw-cut discarded concrete into pavers for the abutting alley. Even the brittle roof decking found a second life as board forms for the building's cast-in-place concrete elements. The Hughes Warehouse building has exceeded the architects' expectations in terms of bringing the office back together, said Winn. "It's done wonders for us from the standpoint of office culture. People seem to really love working here—it's not a place that's a drag to work in, it's very comfortable." He noted that in less than two years the firm has grown from just over 40 members to about 70, and recalled several recent events, including art shows and a courtyard holiday party, held in the renovated space. "I have to say that Overland's been elevated to a whole other level."
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Take a tour inside the under-construction Empire Stores in Dumbo, Brooklyn

Over the weekend, AN joined Open House New York on a tour of the under-construction Empire Stores warehouse in Dumbo, Brooklyn. The old coffee bean warehouse was built in the 1870s, but has been sitting empty along the East River for decades. By next fall, though, the Empire Stores will have been transformed with all the Brooklyn-type fixings you'd expect. Yes, there is an artisanal Brooklyn market featuring local purveyors. And office space for tech and creative companies. And cafes, restaurants, and beer gardens. Included in the mix is also a rooftop public park and a museum focused on New York City's waterfront. “What we’re looking at creating is something that is not only unique to the history of these remarkable buildings, but also speaks to the culture of the neighborhood and this community,” said Jay Valgora, the founder of Studio V Architecture, the firm that is overseeing the transformation. With this type of project, the first task was to secure the building and bring it up to code. That meant laying a new floor, creating a new foundation, and repointing the massive nearly three-foot-thick masonry walls. There is also the issue of resiliency. The complex, which is actually seven buildings, sits right next to the East River and took in about seven feet of water during Sandy. Since the building couldn’t be lifted or moved, the most practical solution, explained Valgora, was to fabricate an "aqua fence" that could be stored in a nearby warehouse and deployed before of a storm. The idea is that there will be enough lead time to get everything in place. Valgora said the main challenge of this project was to bring light and air into a structure that was built to block out both—the warehouse doesn't even have windows, but rather arched openings and shutters. The firm wanted to create that type of sleek, airy space, while preserving the building's history. Along with new glass stairways, and a glass and steel rooftop addition, the firm is preserving much of the Empire Stores' masonry, yellow pine beams, and schist walls. Studio V's plan to cut an open-air courtyard into the center of the structure is designed to meet both needs of the project: create a light-filled, modern space while showing-off the structure's original details. “We’re going to create a public passage throughthe entire building that reveals and shows the nature of how it was made, as well that brings you into the 21st Century as you go to this rooftop park," said Valgora. As for the windows, the firm is installing large square panels that sit behind the arched frames to preserve the feel of the original facade. No additional openings are being cut into the structure and shutters are either being restored or replicated.  The Empire Stores is one of the development sites along the Brooklyn Bridge Park that has been leased to fund its maintenance costs.
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Boom or Bust for Phoenix’s Warehouse District?

According to a recent article on azcentral.com, Phoenix’s Warehouse District is in the midst of a renaissance. Or is it? The man behind several adaptive reuse projects in the neighborhood says not so fast. “It’s like every five years someone gets excited about it and writes the same article,” said developer Michael Levine. While he admits there’s been an uptick in interest in the mid-century industrial buildings, he doubts his fellow landowners’ motives. “If you give them enough money...they’d have the [buildings] demolished,” he said. Levine grew up in Brooklyn and attended Parsons, where he considered becoming an architectural designer before a retrospective on the work of Gordon Matta Clark convinced him to switch to art. “I wanted to get my hands dirty,” said Levine. After college, Levine moved to Phoenix, doing all kinds of work, from residential contracting to building visual displays and starting an art gallery. When he began manufacturing for multinational companies, he needed a larger workspace, and moved into his first warehouse. “Basically the buildings are like big three-dimensional sculptures,” said Levine. Eventually, the buildings themselves became Levine’s subjects. He renovated his first warehouse in 1992, his second in 1999. Phoenix, it turns out, is a particularly difficult place to be a champion for adaptive reuse. For one thing, the city didn’t have that many warehouses to begin with. “The best warehouse in Phoenix would be the worst in Detroit,” observed Levine. In addition, said Levine, the city’s reluctance to embrace the International Building Code combined with its early adoption of ADA standards to make it “almost impossible to save a building.” Even a recent preservation program hasn’t done as much as advocates might have hoped for the Warehouse District. In 2006, the city, aware that its pre–World War II building stock was rapidly dwindling, launched a special category of grants (funded through the city’s bond program) specifically for preserving warehouses. “It hasn’t been quite as successful as we’d hoped, but it hasn’t been a complete failure,” said Kevin Weight of the City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office. The office had hoped there might be another bond issue, but then the recession hit. “We really don’t have the incentives to offer that we did before, so that’s part of why it’s not moving as quickly as we’d like,” said Weight. According to Levine, the problem is that would-be renovators have to compete with new construction. “The real story of the Warehouse District is it’s the cheapest land in town,” he said. Preservationists have scored a few big wins, as in 2007, when a lawsuit spared the Sun Mercantile Building (an E.W. Bacon-designed warehouse built in 1929) from a  condo project. But the trend still seems to favor new over old. “They demolish 10, 13 buildings, then save one building,” said Levine. “It’s been like tokenism.” There are a few bright spots in the Warehouse District’s recent history, including several of Levine’s projects: 605 E. Grant Street (1917), originally owned by the Southwest Cotton Company; The Duce (525 S. Central Ave, 1928), built for Anchor Manufacturing Company; and Bentley Projects (215 E. Grant Street, 1918), first occupied by Bell Laundry. Then there’s 22 E. Jackson Street, the 1930 Arizona Hardware Supply Company building renovated by Dudley Ventures. A number of additional warehouse buildings have been listed on the city’s register of historic buildings. Levine cites the recent relocation of several of Arizona State University School of Art graduate student buildings to his 605 E. Grant Street. “The fine artists get it...ASU has finally gotten it,” said Levine, though he went on to express dismay at an ASU urban planning professor’s embrace of a nearby luxury-apartments project. That said, the Warehouse District renaissance doesn’t yet seem to have reached the tipping point. The city’s out of money to assist preservationists, at least for now. And Levine thinks that some of the recent interest in the neighborhood may be a passing craze. “However much they love it, unfortunately it’s a fashion thing to these people,” said Levine. “It’s really cool to be in a brick building...For me, I really want these buildings to be around for another 100 years.”
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MVRDV’s Glassy Approach: Dutch Firm to Craft an Office Building From Hong Kong Warehouse

Dutch firm MVRDV is creating a new office building in Hong Kong, and by the looks of the renderings, people will be really happy to work there. The project actually entails the transformation of the Cheung Fai Warehouse, a 14-story industrial building that currently sits on a busy corner in the city's designated business area of East Kowloon. MVRDV will be stripping the structure to its concrete infrastructural core before filling the frame with glass and stainless steel in order to define the new office spaces. Glass dominates the exterior as well, as large sheets are inserted into the white concrete frame of the structure. The largely clear facade is punctuated by small explosions of greenery, which spills out of select rectangular sections. The rooftop has been set aside for a terrace meant to serve as a communal gathering space. The glass spills over into the interior, bringing with it large amounts of light and also meaning that the building's concrete skeleton is readily visible throughout the offices and circulation areas. The Cheung Fai building is MVRDV's first foray into Hong Kong. In addition to 37 office units, the structure is also slated to house retail space and restaurants. At its rear the site faces a disused service alley that the firm hopes to one day convert into usable public space in keeping with the development of the surrounding area. The transformation is scheduled to be completed by 2015.
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Alloy Development Proposes Modern Take on Brownstone Brooklyn

Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood is home to many a loft, but few, if any, townhouses make up the neighborhood streetscape. Curbed reported that boutique development firm and architect Alloy Development plans on building five adjacent, 6-story houses at Pearl Street in place of a graffiti-covered garage. But these won’t emulate your typical 19th-century Brooklyn-style brownstone, they will include a single facade built of ductal concrete fins with wood on the ground level. “While these are the first townhouses in DUMBO, we’re hoping to bring the same level of thoughtfulness and care as we have to the other projects,” wrote AJ Pires, executive vice president at Alloy, in an email. Alloy has been behind other residential projects in DUMBO including two warehouse conversions at 192 Water and 185 Plymouth Streets. According to the Brooklyn Paper, some preservationists, are not pleased with the proposal. They not only want to keep the colorful graffiti-covered garage, but have also expressed concern that the chosen materials—concrete and wood—will not mesh aesthetically with DUMBO’s predominantly brick facade buildings. These same questions came up last week when Alloy presented its plans to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Overall, the feedback was positive, but Alloy will return in a few months with revised plans.