Posts tagged with "Washington D.C.":

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Dueling lawsuits over Washington, D.C.’s The Wharf dismissed

A 2018 lawsuit filed against Perkins Eastman by the general contractor of The Wharf, a $2.5 billion mixed-use development located along a once-blighted stretch of industrial waterfront in southwest Washington, D.C., has been dismissed. Likewise, a countersuit filed against Clark Construction Group LLC by Perkins Eastman has also been dropped. Clark Construction’s suit against Perkins Eastman, a major international architecture firm headquartered in New York City, was filed in March 2018. It sought $5 million in damages resulting from what Clark Construction alleged were significantly flawed design documents furnished by Perkins Eastman. Because of the alleged inaccuracies and omissions in the documents, which Clark Construction claimed resulted in everything from inoperable doors to misplaced structural columns, the Bethesda, Maryland-based contractor had to tweak and correct numerous defects which, in turn, caused the company to incur substantial financial damages. Phase one of The Wharf was completed and opened to the public in October 2017. “The errors and omissions complained of herein did not arise and were not known, knowable, discovered, discoverable, appreciated, or appreciable until various points within the past three years,” claimed Clark Construction’s complaint, which alleged that Perkins Eastman had committed professional negligence, breach of written contract, and negligent misrepresentation. “It remains possible and likely that errors and omissions will continue to arise and become known, discovered, and appreciated in the future as discovery in this matter proceeds including, without limitation, expert discovery.” Perkins Eastman issued a countersuit, alleging Clark Construction of withholding $500,000 in outstanding invoices in an act that, per the suit, amounted to breach of contract. “Clark continues to exercise dominion and control over money and property that contractually and legally is property of PEDC [Perkins Eastman DC, PLCC] in a manner that is intentional, reckless, and in willful disregard of PEDC’s ownership rights,” read Perkins Eastman’s counterclaim. But as Construction Dive recently reported, the dispute has worked itself out with both sides dropping their respective lawsuits. No financial settlements were noted in the Joint Stipulation of Dismissal, although as Construction Dive notes, both parties agreed to pay their own legal fees. “While we cannot comment on specifics, Clark is pleased to have reached an amicable agreement on all outstanding project matters. We look forward to working together with Perkins Eastman on future projects,” a spokesperson for Clark Construction relayed to Construction Dive in a statement. Speaking to AN, L. Bradford Perkins, founding partner of Perkins Eastman, noted: “We too, like Cark, are pleased to get this behind us.” “We felt that the lawsuits were not the best way to resolve this issue,” Perkins said. “We're both extremely proud of what we did together.” “We both want to work together in the future,” Perkins added. Phase two of The Wharf, also master-planned by Perkins Eastman, kicked off in March 2018 and will add an additional 1.5 million square feet of mixed-use space (heavier on residential this time around) to the sprawling project that, when fully complete in 2022, will encompass more than 24 acres of redeveloped land. Phase one of The Wharf includes, among other things, a pier-top office complex, multiple hotels, retail space, and apartments. The waterfront-reenergizing development has received a mostly warm welcome from Washingtonians and visitors despite some traffic congestion-related hiccups.
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National Building Museum reopens March 13 with Alan Karchmer: The Architects’ Photographer

After closing to the public for three months, the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., has announced it will reopen its doors on March 13 with an exhibition showcasing the work of architectural photographer Alan Karchmer. The museum’s popular long-term exhibitions, including House & Home and PLAY WORK BUILD, will also reopen. The National Building Museum, housed in the grand Renaissance Revival-style former Pension Bureau building, was shuttered to complete an extensive renovation headed by the General Services Administration. As part of the renovation, the aging concrete flooring in the 1887 building’s soaring Grand Hall, backdrop to numerous special events and the museum’s immersive annual Summer Block Party installations, was replaced with a modern foundation. A new ticketing gallery and visitor’s center was also built out, and the museum’s second-floor classrooms were converted into an exhibition space as part of the overhaul. The Karchmer exhibition, Alan Karchmer: The Architects’ Photographer, will debut in this new space. Originally trained at Tulane University as an architect, the D.C.-based Karchmer is one of the world’s preeminent photographers of contemporary architecture and the built environment. Over his career, Karchmer has stunningly captured the oft-difficult-to-capture work of numerous renowned architects and firms including, Santiago Calatrava, Tadao Ando, TEN Arquitectos, and Perkins + Will, among others. He's photographed everything from the Morphosis-designed recreational center at the University of Cincinnati to Moshe Safdie’s airport expansion in Tel Aviv. Self-taught as a photographer, “Karchmer combines his direct knowledge of the design process with his own artistic vision to express the essence of a building,” according to a press statement from the National Building Museum. In 2019, the National Building Museum announced Karchmer’s gifting of his professional archive in its entirety to the museum while “still in the prime of his career.” Several pieces from this collection will be shown as part of the upcoming exhibition. Personal photographs and artifacts of Karchmer’s will also be on display alongside his professional commissioned photography, which has been widely published and featured in previous photography exhibitions at the National Building Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Julius Shulman Institute, and elsewhere. “While the exhibition will feature numerous large prints of photographs of remarkable beauty,” said the museum, “it will also include didactic displays examining the technical and creative processes underlying such images, as well as the role of luck in achieving a particular image. It will thus illuminate why certain images are so successful in expressing both the physical and emotional aspects of architecture.” Last month, the National Building Museum revealed that it had commissioned the Folger Shakespeare Library to conceive this summer’s “Elizabethan-inspired” Summer Block Party installation. As AN has noted, this is a dramatic departure for the crowd-drawing series given that the museum has traditionally enlisted architecture firms such as Snarkitecture, Bjarke Ingels Group, and most recently, LAB at Rockwell Group to transform the Grand Hall into an air-conditioned and Instagram-ready design destination. Titled Shakespeare's Playhouse, the installation opens July 4.
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House passes bill to build women’s history museum on National Mall

A Smithsonian museum dedicated to women’s history in the United States is closer to becoming a reality. The House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill last week that would allow the build-out of a national women’s history museum on or near the National Mall in Washington, D.C According to HR1980, two potential sites are up for consideration: One by the Senate and Capitol buildings, and one closer to the Washington Monument and the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). The bill’s sponsors, Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Brian Fitzpatrick, Brenda Lawrence, and Eleanor Holmes Norton, won support for the project across both sides of the aisle in the House, gaining approval in a 374-37 vote.  “For too long, women’s history has been left out of the telling of our nation's history,” the sponsors wrote in a statement. “Today, the House of Representatives took an important first step to change that. Women are part of every American moment, and their contributions should be recognized and celebrated.”  Maloney, a Democrat from New York’s 12th district who now heads up the House Oversight and Reform Committee, has spent over two decades trying to get a bill in motion for such a museum. In 2014, she helped formulate legislation that allowed the creation of a congressional commission to study the idea of a museum about women’s history. She later introduced a similar bill to HR1980 that ultimately did not make it to the House floor in 2017. The last Smithsonian museum to be inaugurated on the National Mall was the Adjaye Associates-designed NMAAHC in 2016. If the timeline of that project is any indication, a women’s history museum might not break ground for several years once a companion bill is passed in the Senate. The NMAAHC took four years to build; eight years to begin construction after legislation was passed in Congress, and over 20 years after the proposal was first introduced on the House floor.  It’s unclear just how long the journey from bill to building will be, but what is clear is that there will reportedly be a larger push than ever this year for the museum due to the upcoming presidential election and this summer’s centennial celebration of women’s suffrage in the United States. Many believe a project like this is long overdue. According to CBS, Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) was the only woman in the House that voted against the bill last week, saying she “believes women’s accomplishments deserve to be honored in an equal manner, alongside those of men.” Other critics have cited concerns over whether the museum would be truly inclusive and whether or not it would show both sides of women’s issues such as abortion rights, though a section of HR1980 clearly states that curators will take steps to ensure “diversity of political viewpoints in exhibits and programs.” Senators Susan Collins and Dianne Feinstein are sponsoring a similar bill, which will soon come online in the Senate. If also passed, the next question over the museum’s future will revolve around funding. As part of the Smithsonian Institution, the project would be paid for via a combination of federal funds and private donations, as well as grants from philanthropic foundations.
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The International Spy Museum is veiled in cantilevered glass megapanels

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The International Spy Museum presents a striking figure in the relatively staid streetscape of Washington, D.C. The building opened in May 2019 and was designed by London-based Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) in collaboration with architect-of-record Hickok Cole, and replaced the original home of the Spy Musem that was constructed in 2002. The project is a demonstration of high-tech architecture; notably, the pleated glass veil shrouding an atrium and circulation space—both cantilevered off the primary black aluminum-clad exhibition-space structure. L'Enfant Plaza is not the most exciting corner of Washington, D.C.—the megaproject, designed by I.M. Pei and developed by William Zeckendorf, is often derided for its overwhelming massing and dearth of pedestrian amenities. The International Spy Museum is located within a forecourt of the megaproject and, in its idiosyncrasy, establishes a formidable presence in the area. The project rises to a height of 130 feet, the height limit within the city, and is primarily encased in a tapered aluminum black box lifted off the ground by pilotis. Total square footage for the museum comes out to approximately 120,000 square feet divided across seven stories.
  • Facade Manufacturer AGC Interpane Roschmann Macalloy Sadev Sika
  • Architect Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners Hickok Cole Architects (Executive Architect)
  • Facade Installer Custom Glass Services
  • Facade Consultant Eckersley O'Callaghan
  • Location Washington D.C.
  • Date of Completion December 2019
  • System Custom glass veil system
  • Products AGC Interpane Ipasol Neutral 73/42 Macalloy stainless steel tensions rods
The location proved a challenge for the design and construction teams; the museum stands atop the L’Enfant Plaza metro station, a subterranean shopping mall, and, for good measure, a parking garage. To minimize operational disruption to the sites below, the design and structural teams opted to use lower impact hollow-bar micropiles for the foundation and established a schedule to allow multiple construction crews to operate simultaneously. Harking back to the design of Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano's 1977 Centre Pompidou, all of the structural elements and principal routes of circulation are fully presented at the primary west elevation. Sloped red steel fins rising from the collonade of pilotis that ring the structure and, quite literally, do the facade’s heavy lifting. Each rises to a height of 70 feet and were shipped from Virginia to the site in two pieces and assembled in-situ. “From these five points, the facade is suspended on a trapeze of bespoke steel fabrications, that collectively resolve the gravity loads and lateral forces, in addition to the potential differential drift,” said Hickok Cole senior associate Bryan Chun. “Along with RSHP, we engaged Eckersley O’Callaghan as the facade consultant from the onset of the design process, their expertise and acumen were essential to define the limits of each member, and we selected Roschmann Glass specifically for their ability to engineer in a design-assist capacity.” The panels for the fritted-glass veil are massive and measure 7'-6" by 18'-6" each, and stacked, the total height of the glass curtainwall is 60 feet. In lieu of mullions, the veils are held together with stitch plates that lend sufficient stability to allow the laminated glass to run less than an inch thick. While the primary elevation is the project’s showstopper, the curatorial spaces are equally impressive. Aided by 3D-modeling software used during the design process, each structural beam is outfitted as a conduit for the museum’s MEP and HVAC systems, a strategy that allowed for nearly undisrupted 22-foot floor-to-floor heights as well as clear 60-foot floor spans.
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OLIN receives design approval for D.C. Desert Storm memorial

Plans are well underway to build a National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial in Washington, D.C., now that OLIN has taken over as lead designer. On November 21, 2019, the memorial’s design concept won approval from the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), a milestone that helped push the memorial closer to the goal of completion by the end of 2021, as basic items such as the layout and structure were determined. The design approval from the CFA on January 17 of this year, but the National Capital Planning Commission still needs to review and approve both preliminary and final plans before construction can begin. Early efforts are owed to Indianapolis-based CSO Architects, who since 2012, dedicated much of their time (pro bono) in developing design concepts for the memorial. “If it wasn’t for CSO’s participation, this wouldn’t be where it is right now and in fact, it wouldn't have even got off the ground,” Scott Stump, president and CEO of the National Desert Storm War Memorial Association (NDSWMA), told the Indianapolis Business Journal Since 2010, the NDSWMA has secured a site for the monument, received concept approval, and raised almost a quarter of the $40 million needed before construction could begin. Stump is responsible for the idea of the memorial, wanting to preserve the memory and military significance of the Desert Shield and Desert Storm operations so it wouldn’t be perceived as a “footnote in history.”  It was the American Institute of Architects that recommended some “veteran-friendly” firms to Stump when he realized he was lacking in the visual representation needed to get the project moving. CSO had done numerous projects for military clients and principal Randy Schumacher took lead on the project. Landscape architecture firm Context Design has also contributed to the original design. Schumacher worked alongside Stump to develop ideas and also solicited feedback from veterans. The result was a design that featured a curved wall ranging in height from six to sixteen feet meant to suggest the “left hook” military maneuver. Once the site was secured (a location just north of the Lincoln Memorial and west of the Vietnam War Memorial) adjustments needed to be made to the design. The new design has lower walls that meld into the ground and includes a central water feature, which symbolizes a desert oasis as well as the international coalition that participated in the operations.  With OLIN’s work on the National Veterans Memorial and Museum in Ohio (which also features a similar swirling site plan), the U.S. Air Force Memorial in Arlington, and the grounds of the Washington Monument, they seem like a natural pick to take over as lead designer. CSO and Context still remain involved and Schumacher is honored to play a part in the project, saying, “It’s the most important thing I’ll ever do, as an architect and as an American.”  A few elements in the design are still awaiting approval and the push to raise the 110 percent of the funding required by law to begin construction is an ongoing fundraising effort. The association’s goal is to complete the fundraising by March.
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REX and Front's 2050 M Street stands lightly with fluted glass

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Set to open in mid-March, 2050 M Street is a novel commercial project located in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C. REX, an architecture and design firm based in New York, is the design architect for the project. In contrast to the imposing massing of Beaux-Arts, Brutalist, and droll mid-century Miesian bootlegs that dominate the capital, the project presents a subtle and refined approach to the office block typology with its array of fluted glass panels. Founded two decades ago by Joshua Ramus, REX has led an impressive array of completed and ongoing projects, including the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center, Brown University's Performing Arts Center, and the retrofit of 5 Manhattan West. An instrumental collaborator in over thirty of their projects is facade consultant Front Inc., with whom they share an office space in DUMBO, Brooklyn. “Both companies share a mutual understanding of the other’s values, aspirations and skillsets with each practice leveraging the other to create opportunities for innovation within real and tight project constraints,” said REX founding principal Joshua Ramus and Front Inc. founding principal Marc Simmons. “REX and Front also share a rigor and discipline during an always iterative design process but also as pertains to creative procurement, in close cooperation with owner and construction manager, and focused quality review during the shop drawing, prototyping, testing, assembly and installation phases of the work.”
  • Facade Manufacturer Fabbrica Tianjin North Glass AGC Asia Guardian Glass Gastaldello Sistemi YKK
  • Architect REX
  • Facade Installer TSI Wall Systems
  • Facade Consultant Front Inc.
  • Developer Tishman Speyer
  • Structural Engineer LERA Consulting Engineers
  • Location Washington, D.C.
  • Date of Completion August 2019
  • System Custom flush-glazed curtain wall system
  • Products Guardian SunGuard SuperNeutral 68 low-E coating Guardian UltraClear low-iron glass AGC Stopsol Supersilver Gastaldello Sistemi aluminum framing
Tishman Speyer is the developer of 2050 M Street, whose construction was overseen by the managing director of design and construction, Rustom Cowasjee. The non-concrete block structure construction began in March 2018 and facade installation wrapped up in August 2019. The massing of the twelve-story office building is rectangular and boxy, a common trait in D.C. to maximize square footage within the city’s zoning constraints and height limitations. For REX, one of the challenges of the project was to establish a lightness and verticality for what is an overwhelmingly horizontal project. To heighten the sense of verticality of 2050 M Street, the design team turned towards the architectural technique of fluting; a feature stemming from antiquity, where shallow vertical grooves were largely applied to columns and pilasters. In place of detailed masonry, the enclosure is composed of approximately 900 curved IGUs, their outward-facing concave surfaces treated with a pyrolytic coating, and form a high-relief facade with a striking kaleidoscope-like impression of the surrounding streetscape and weather features. Each floor-to-ceiling panel measures 11'-3" by 5'—those at the top two floors are 12'-10" and 12'-13" tall and form a quasi-cornice above the top slab edge—and have a 9'-6" radius formed through a heat roller tempering process. The project is topped by a separate row of 4'-tall panels that serve as a parapet.  The curvature of the panels also plays a critical role in the office building's remarkable degree of transparency; the compressive strength of the curves allowed for the panels to be mullion-less, and only supported by brackets anchored to the floor slab and laterally restrained at the head to allow for differential movement. As an additional measure to heighten the lightness of the facade, the structure’s perimeter columns are set back over 12 feet from the glazing to permit nearly undisrupted outward views. Following REX’s design intent for 2050 M Street, Front Inc. developed a comprehensive system with prescriptive specifications for all aspects of the glass assembly. The design and analysis package was the basis for the facade bid package for prospective fabricators and sub-contractors—Tishman Speyer funded full-scale mockups from each bidder for on-site evaluations by the design team. Ultimately, two firms were signed on to handle fabrication: Tianjin North Glass handled the fabrication of the IGUs cut from Guardian Glass and AGC Asia glass sheets, while Fabbrica managed the aluminum-and-glass modules at their Connecticut facility and handled shipment to Washington, D.C. “The engagement with the glass fabricators started during schematic design and continued even after the last piece of glass was shipped to the site,” continued Ramus and Simmons. “The actual design of the panels remained unaltered when we received manufacturer feedback; the focus was confirming the viability of cost, quality and schedule of fabrication.” REX founding principal Joshua Ramus, Front Inc. founding principal Marc Simmons, and Tishman Speyer managing director of design & construction Rustom Cowasjee will present 2050 M Street at Facades+ Washington, D.C. on February 20 as part of the "Curved and Pleated: Advanced Applications of Glass" panel.
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Hickok Cole and Facades+ will spotlight D.C. architectural design and technology

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As the nation's capital, Washington, D.C., is home to a thriving architectural culture, grounded in both historic and contemporary design. The upcoming Facades+ AM conference on February 20 will provide a forum for the city's design community to dive into the intricacies of some of the region's most significant architectural projects. The conference is co-chaired by Hickok Cole, a local firm with a significant body of work within the capital and across the country. Participating firms include the Center for the Built Environment, Front Inc., Heintges, REX, Steven Holl Architects, Thomas Phifer and Partners, Tishman Speyer, and Transsolar. Prior to the conference, AN sat down with Hickok Cole associate principal and co-chair Elba Morales, and director of sustainable design Holly Lennihan, to discuss the firm's ongoing projects and the programming of the morning symposium. AN: Over the last few months, Hickok Cole has guided the curation of Facades+ Washington D.C. What aspects of the capital's design culture do you hope are captured in the three panels, and what lessons do you hope are learned?  Elba Morales: As the Nation’s capital, DC is at the center of the news cycle spotlight. We say that national news is our local news because it unfolds blocks away from where we live and work. We understand that decisions at the federal level have a huge impact on our everyday lives. Because federal buildings—traditionally in light stone and with a monumental, institutional quality—dominate how DC is perceived architecturally, there is a misconception that the city’s new architecture is either stylistically undifferentiated from the traditional or is restrained. And the reality is that there are very interesting and forward-thinking buildings being built here, right now. There is a wide range of materials, scale, and placemaking power in a good number of buildings recently completed. We have very exciting and technically daring glass facades in the pleated glass veil of The International Spy Museum and in the fluted curved glass facade of 2050 M Street for example, which we’ll discuss in our first panel “Curved and Pleated”. On our second panel “Placemaking and Monumentality” we will feature two new civic buildings defined by their sculptural quality made possible by the use of solid facades. These buildings claim their place as objects in the landscape. The REACH at The Kennedy Center does so in an urban setting, while Glenstone emerges out of its pastoral setting. Both usher in a new contemporary monumentality that makes the case for classic modern and minimal architecture. And as a result of Mayor Bowser’s mandate, with the Clean Energy Act DC, we will transition to run on 100% renewable power and reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2032. This will require efficient and sophisticated facades that respond to the orientation and positively contribute to the overall energy efficiency of the building. In our “High-Performance Facades” panel, we will discuss case studies and assemblies that will be relevant to this effort of melding climate change mitigation goals with stunning architectural design. The convergence of these challenges and potential will inspire our planners, architects, engineers, and owners to keep elevating the quality of the architecture we produce. One panel, "Curved and Pleated: Advanced Applications of Glass," will feature the International Spy Museum. Which aspect of the project are you most excited to dive into, especially in juxtaposition to the second case study of the panel, 2050 M Street? We are thrilled that our first panel will feature two of the most daring and tectonically unique glass buildings in the city, The International Spy Museum and 2050 M Street. Hickok Cole is very excited to have partnered with Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners to collaborate on The International Spy Museum, because of its impactful architecture and the transformation of L’Enfant Plaza and 10th Street. The facade—designed by RSHP—draws inspiration from espionage by “hiding in plain sight” the program. The exhibit space is surrounded by an angled “black box” which is in turn, layered with an oversized pleated glass veil, supported by red fins and cantilevered over public space. The strong urban move creates a landmark at the peak of 10th Street that is visible from the National Mall. Internally, the veil houses the atrium and a grand staircase that connects the exhibits. As Architect of Record, we want to share the complexity of this feature facade, its tectonics, detailing, procurement, and construction to give the audience a sense of what it takes to follow through on a vision this bold. In parallel, we want to discuss with Tishman Speyer, REX, and Front, the stunning curved glass facade of 2050 M Street. This new office building features oversized, floor-to-floor, concave glass panels that take advantage of the structural properties of curved glass in compression to eliminate the vertical mullions typical in office building facades. The form of the glass panels—as well as the coatings— create an unusual pattern of transparency and modulated reflections that articulate the overall form. We are delighted to gain insights from the perspective of the client, the architect, and the facade consultant. The capital is no stranger to monumental design. From your perspective, what role does opacity place in the poignancy of The REACH and the Glenstone Museum? The most evident quality of opaque facades is the way in which the material itself reacts to natural light, the way it registers sunlight and shadows distinctly throughout the day and the nuances of the seasons. Opaque facades can convey weight and solidity, plasticity and sculptural qualities, scale, and monumentality, that afford them strong placemaking potential. The weathering of solid, opaque materials is distinct and specific. Natural forces continuously add architectural meaning and register the passage of time. And even though both of these buildings sit within—and relate to—the landscape differently, the openings in their facades frame views deliberately. The materiality, the sculptural qualities, and the solid to void interplay create a new kind of monumentality in the city, one that is minimalist and classically modern. We are thrilled to be able to hear from the designers at Steven Holl Architects and Thomas Phifer and Partners, as well as from Heintges, the facade consultant at Glenstone. Washington D.C.'s city council recently passed a stringent clean energy act. What techniques and methodologies is Hickok Cole practicing to meet the code, and how do you perceive Transsolar and the Center for the Built Environment's participation in the third panel, "High-Performance Facades and Materials Research" informing the processes of local firms? Holly Lennihan: There are several significant changes in Hickok Cole’s design process due to the experience of working on the American Geophysical Union headquarters renovation to Net Zero Energy. First, we now insist that the full engineering team start concurrently with the design team. This early participation is furthered by staging a conceptual design charrette that lays out the potential strategies to achieve net-zero energy. Second, we seek partners that are willing to undertake new technologies. One example is when we considered heated mullions for a glass facade. A D.C. colleague put us in touch with a New York City-based engineer and a fantastically useful conference call ensued. The facade was detailed and evaluated; ultimately the system worked better on a colder environment than in our region. Third, we connect with universities that host research around the built environment. We collaborated on a graduate-level course for the University of Oregon’s Institute for Health in the Built Environment master’s program and we participate in monthly calls to discuss their diverse research projects. We are part of the University of Washington’s Embodied Carbon Network because we know that carbon will soon play a bigger role in how we think about the materials that go in our buildings. Locally, we have partnered with George Mason University’s Center for Real Estate Entrepreneurship on grant funding for cross-laminated timber research and indoor air quality studies. Transsolar conveys a certainty that design and engineering should produce elegant, effective, smart, and cost-effective solutions. We believe that their projects will provide enlightening information and show their dedication to doing work that goes beyond ‘building-as-usual’ and will energize the audience to aspire to do better work in the DMV. The Center for the Built Environment plays a key role in providing practitioners data and in-depth analysis of building components, especially facades. Their rigorous and unbiased look at high-performance case studies creates a means for architects to adopt groundbreaking facade systems knowing the benefits and challenges. This information is also useful for owners, developers, and end-users. We hope that in the future, case studies from DC will make their way to the Center for review! Further information regarding the speakers and websites is found on the conference website.
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Maryland towns band together to fight high-speed rail route

As plans move forward for a high-speed magnetic levitation (maglev) train line between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., an increasing number of small towns are banding together to fight the railway, which spans 40 miles and would provide service between two major business districts in 15 minutes. The towns are scattered across Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties in the direct path of maglev project construction. The Baltimore–D.C. segment is the first step in a proposal to eventually provide high-speed rail service between Washington and New York. Pushback has increased as the 20-year planning phase of the project has moved to its next steps: An environmental impact statement draft is expected in early 2020, according to The Washington Post. Although the train will run 75 percent underground at depths of 80- to-200 feet, residents between the two cities would bear the brunt of the construction, in close proximity to their homes without much payoff in return—the train, which stops only in Washington, Baltimore, and at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, would be of little use to those living in these small communities. Residents of Greenbelt, Maryland, have been some of the most vocal opponents of the project and formally denounced the proposal for the high-speed train two years ago. Now, the city of 23,000 is requesting legal counsel to aid its effort to halt the maglev route, sparking a debate over NIMBY mentality and the grassroots efforts to protect communities. Amanda Kolson Hurley, a journalist on urbanism who profiled Greenbelt’s history in her book, Radical Suburbs: Experimental Living on the Fringes of the American City, offered insight via Twitter: “We really screwed up by not building more subway & light-rail lines already. Greenbelt residents are not wrong to say they will bear the inconvenience while the main benefits go to DC and Baltimore… Greenbelt got carved up by the BW Parkway & Beltway, so there’s a history of being imposed on by big transpo projects.” Support for the high-speed rail project, however, comes from its potential to ease regional traffic congestion and create thousands of jobs. The railway is backed by Maryland's Governor Larry Hogan, and impact studies were aided by a $28 million federal grant. Pending the release of the environmental impact report and final approval, construction could begin as soon as next year.
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National Building Museum teams with the Folger Shakespeare Library for 2020 Block Party

The Washington, D.C.-based National Building Museum is shaking things up for its 2020 Block Party, a rambunctious summer-long exhibition that converts the museum’s great hall into an interactive installation. While the National Building Museum has traditionally commissioned architecture firms to head up Block Party (see last year’s Lawn from Rockwell Group or the mini Snarkitecture retrospective in 2018), today they announced the museum had instead chosen the Folger Shakespeare Library and University of South Carolina to realize Shakespeare’s Playhouse for the exhibition’s seventh outing later this year. From July 4 through September 7, visitors can experience an “Elizabethan-inspired” outdoor theater set within the great hall. More than just an exploration of how architecture and stage design converge, Shakespeare’s Playhouse will become a fully functional stage at night and host showings of A Midsummer Night’s Dream Tuesday through Sunday until August 30. The Folger Shakespeare Library is one of the world’s largest Shakespeare and most-visited Shakespeare collections, and hosts exhibitions and shows both at home in Washington, D.C., and abroad. Beginning yesterday, January 6, the institution began a multi-year renovation and expansion of the 1932, Paul Cret-designed building that it calls home. “This colorful, portable, and freestanding theater,” said Robert Richmond, who will be directing the construction of Shakespeare’s Playhouse, “the installation provides a perfect platform for entering this dream of a play, where real and imagined worlds blend. Bringing favorite Folger actors and artistic team members to undertake this theatrical adventure is the extraordinary beginning of partnerships and performances off-site during the Folger’s renovation.” While no design details have been released as of yet, AN will follow up when images are revealed in the spring.
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Will this airport engineer be the next Architect of the Capitol?

On Monday, President Trump announced J. Brett Blanton as his nomination for the Architect of the Capitol (AOC).  Blanton is currently the deputy vice president for engineering at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority where he leads the planning, design, construction, and code enforcement for all properties controlled by the Airports Authority. While in the United States Navy he also oversaw “some of the largest infrastructure projects undertaken by the Department of the Navy,” according to the Whitehouse’s website All that said, Blanton is a licensed engineer (in the state of Georgia) but is not a licensed or practicing architect. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the United States Naval Academy, followed by a Master of Science in Ocean Engineering from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.  If confirmed by the United States Senate, Blanton will serve a 10-year term and will be put in charge of maintaining the 18.4 million square foot Capitol complex, which includes Washington, D.C., landmarks such as the Library of Congress, U.S. Supreme Court building and Senate and House office buildings.  The previous AOC, Stephen T. Ayers, served from 2010 through November 2018 and oversaw the restoration of the U.S. Capitol Dome and the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial. He also launched the renewal of the Cannon House Office Building, a monumental, five-phase project that Blanton would take over during his term. Ayers completed his Bachelor of Science in Architecture at the University of Maryland and received his Master of Science in Systems Management from the University of Southern California, as well as an honorary Doctor of Public Design from the Boston Architectural College in recognition of his work in historic preservation.  According to Engineering News-Record, the Senate Rules and Administration Committee will have a scheduled confirmation hearing for Blanton on December 12.
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2019 Best of Design Awards winners for Young Architects

2019 Best of Design Award for Young Architects: bld.us Location: Washington D.C. bld.us was founded by Jack Becker and Andrew Linn to make healthy buildings in the mid-Atlantic region that pay tribute to their context and gain integrity as they age. Based in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C., bld.us looks for opportunities in economies of scale, of scope, of density, of means, and of materials. As in Grass House, above (and profiled on AN Interior), the firm integrates traditional construction methods with new technologies and organic materials ideally suited to the region—like wood, bark, cork, wool, mycelium, willow, hemp, and bamboo—to create an architecture of accommodation.
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SHoP Architects reveals an urban farm and wellness space for D.C.’s Ward 8

SHoP Architects has revealed plans for a new urban farm in Washington, D.C.’s Ward 8. Spearheaded by local organization DC Greens, The Well at Oxon Run will cover 50,000 square feet of land next to the Oxon Run tributary in an underserved part of the nation's capital city known as Anacostia.  According to D.C. blog Urban Turf, residents in the area have a drastically lower life-expectancy rate due to diet-related chronic illnesses than people living in Northeast D.C. Poor access to quality, healthy food is a major source of strain for locals south of the Anacostia River. In an effort to combat this, The Well will grow over 150 varieties of fresh produce, herbs, and edible flowers while also housing space for events, programming, and a farmers market. DC Greens noted in a tweet that a youth classroom will also be built, and local art will be incorporated on-site.  Due to its location in a highly urbanized part of D.C.’s southeastern quadrant, the project will help beautify and activate a blighted piece of landscape next to the long-polluted, seven-mile-long stream. Friends of Oxon Run, which supports activities surrounding Oxon Run and the nearby Oxon Run Park, is working with DC Greens, as well as The Green Scheme, a local nonprofit that advocates for a healthier environment on behalf of communities of color, to bolster the area’s reputation.  Abby Bluestone, development director at DC Greens, told AN that The Well will be more than a community hub or food haven, it will also be an inclusive wellness space. "In this space, we will be growing crops, but mostly we'll be growing community," she wrote in an email.  "We are imagining an intergenerational space for community health and healing, centered around food... A farm space that honors the full power that food has to bring people together, and make people whole." The D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation is collaborating on the project too, which slated to start construction sometime in 2020. Before breaking ground, DC Greens hopes to raise up to $1 million in an online campaign to cover construction costs. Additional renderings are expected to follow in the coming months.