From junk metal and rubble to tomatoes and kale. That’s the plan for a vacant lot in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C. located just under six miles from the United States Capitol building. Over the next few months, the 2.3-acre site, which has been covered in trash for years, will be transformed into the world’s largest urban greenhouse. The National Journal reported that the project is getting some help from BrightFarms, a company that supports urban agriculture projects around the country. This latest project in D.C., though, will be much bigger than anything they've created before. When complete, the 100,000-square-foot greenhouse will produce one million pounds of produce a year. That major haul will be sold at 30 local grocery stores, which will boost fresh food options and cut down on the stores' carbon footprints. The space will also host educational programs to teach kids about urban farming, and is expected to create 20 to 25 permanent jobs. The project was first announced a year ago, but got a boost earlier this year when grocery store chain, Giant, signed on for the project. According to a press release, the greenhouse is being built "in partnership with the City’s Department of General Services and the Anacostia Economic Development Corporation in support of the Mayor’s Sustainable D.C. Plan, which aims to make DC the greenest, healthiest and most livable city in the nation." It's expected to take four to five months to build.
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Earlier this year, the Washington, D.C. Public Library announced that Martinez+Johnson and Mecanoo had won their competition to design the next phase of the city's Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. Check out AN's coverage of the winning design here. The firm beat out two other finalists to revamp van der Rohe's iconic work. Here's AN's guide to the competition and the runners-up. According to a press release from the D.C. Public Library, each team “developed two preliminary design ideas: one of a stand-alone library and one of a mixed-use building with additional floors.” All three teams propose ways to respect and restore the structure’s original facade, but re-imagine the library’s interiors and offer ideas for what can go on top of it. There are also two competing proposals to add “a cloud” into—or onto—Mies’ structure. The Runners-up: The Patkau Architects/Ayers Saint Gross proposal removed existing interior floorplates to create what they’re calling a “Community Mixer.” Above this courtyard-like space will be “the cloud,” a “new technological form” that “distributes daylight, broadcasts information, and sustainably generates energy.” The STUDIOS Architecture/The Freelon Group team proposed a completely revamped roof with gardens, a café, a pedestrian walkway, an amphitheater and possible housing. And, yes, they’ve got “a cloud” too; it will be “ever-present through the building” and include “new library programs associated with sharing, innovation and prototyping.” Martinez and Johnson + Mecanoo's winning proposal: Read about the winning plan in AN's recent article on the project.
After nearly a decade of planning, a $2 billion, three-million-square-foot mixed-use development is underway on Washington D.C.’s Southwest waterfront. In March, construction started on Phase 1 of The Wharf, a project that is being developed by Hoffman-Madison Waterfront and designed by Perkins-Eastman. The new neighborhood will have marinas, green space, entertainment venues, and plenty of retail, residential, and hotel space. Specifically, Phase 1 covers 24 acres of land, 50 acres of waterfront, and will include 648 apartments, 240 condos, 680 hotel rooms, 200,000-square-feet of retail space, and 435,000-square-feet for offices. The development is situated along the Washington Channel and is part of the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative—a 30-year, $10 billion plan to transform the waterfront. Construction on this project is slated to wrap up in 2017. Aerial renderings of the project depict a fairly standard mixed-use development with an urban layout and massing. At street-level, the project differentiates itself into a more detailed design treatment of steel, brick, and glass. Industrial light stanchions line a cobblestone promenade, and new seating and piers bring people out to the water. The facades of the ground-floor retail and restaurants are varied, adding variation and interest to the project. Or, as Perkins Eastman put it, "the architectural character relies on a diversity of scales and materials, utilizing stepped-back facades, a variety of complementary materials, and careful attention to the pedestrian scale.”
The National Building Museum was smart to wait till April 2nd to announce their latest project, lest anyone think it was a cleverly crafted April Fool's prank. The Washington, D.C.–based institution said today over Twitter ("A-MAZE-ING NEWS") that Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) will design an unconventional maze to be temporarily housed in its grand atrium. Perhaps inspired by the summer tradition of the corn maze, the BIG installation will debut in the West Court of the building's cavernous Great Hall on July 4th, bringing new meaning to Independence Day to those wandering within its walls. In a material sense the Danish firm has opted to go against the grain, constructing their project out of Baltic birch plywood. Convention is also bucked in the experience of the maze itself. Traditionally a labyrinth grows more confounding as one descends deeper into its clutches. In the case of BIG's maze, penetration fosters clarity. The 18-foot-tall walls that establish the square perimeter of the structure slope towards its center, meaning that upon reaching the heart of the design, visitors are offered a 360 degree view of the entire layout of the labyrinth that, presumably, ensures a relatively painless escape. The maze will be installed through September 1st as part of the museum's Summer Block Party slate of programming. BIG is not the first firm in recent months to try their hand at such work within a museum context. The Royal Academy of Arts in London recruited seven international architects, including Diébédo Francis Kéré and Kengo Kuma to design labyrinthine installations for an exhibit entitled Sensing Spaces. The show opened in late January and runs through April 6th.
A video illustrating the general concept behind the elevated park. (Courtesy The 11th Street Bridge Park Design Competition) Washington D.C. is using the rebuilding of a local bridge as an opportunity to create a new 900-foot elevated park across the Anacostia River. Building Bridges Across the River at THEARC and the D.C. Office of Planning are hosting a competition for the design of this developing project. Participants are invited to think of the initiative as a blank slate sitting upon the extant structural piers, the only holdovers from the old bridge that will be preserved. A community design charette held on December 7, 2013 to discuss the park. (Courtesy The 11th Street Bridge Park Design Competition) Organizers have laid out four goals for the new design: "connect two diverse communities, re-engage residents with the Anacostia River, improve public health, and become an anchor for economic development.” The communities in question are the historic districts of Anacostia and Capital Hill. Efforts have been made to incorporate local opinions into the park's design. Over 200 meetings have been conducted with public figures and residents in the surrounding area. An environmental education center, a performance area, urban agricultural facilities, a cafe, and kayak and canoe launches are some of the suggestions that have emerged from these consultations. University of Washington public health scholar Dr. Howard Frumkin, Carol Mayer Reed of landscape firm Mayer/Reed, and Howard G. Robinson III, Professor of Urban Design and Dean Emeritus at Howard University will be members of the jury deciding upon the winning design this coming fall. Backers are expecting the park to cost in the range of $25 million, $500,000 of which has been raised already.
Despite earlier indications of progress, Frank Gehry's design for a planned Eisenhower Memorial continues to encounter stumbling blocks. In November the US Commission of Fine Arts asked Mr. Gehry to make eight revisions to the proposal, a request that was then echoed and amplified in January when Congress turned down the Eisenhower Memorial Commission's request for $51 million in funding, a denial that was accompanied by a message imploring the architect "to work with all constituencies—including Congress and the Eisenhower family—as partners in the planning and design process.” The plan's most prominent feature, large metallic tapestries depicting the landscape scenes from the former president's childhood Kansas upbringing, has also proved to be its greatest sticking point. Some have suggested that the modern and outsize screens, coupled with the overall scale of the site, are not in keeping with Ike's humble and traditional image. The design has produced enough indignation in some circles that the National Civic Art Society launched a new competition for the commission courting more classically conceived memorials. Others have responded negatively to the narrative painted by the memorial, suggesting that the emphasis on the man's childhood found in the tapestries and many of the accompanying relief sculptures draw attention away from his later achievements as a public figure. Many of Eisenhower's family-members have been particularly vocal in their opposition to Gehry's vision. The closed process involved in the architect's initial selection for the project has come under fire for being undemocratic. The budget attached to the design has done little to assuage doubters, and Congress' leaves the Memorial Commission with $30 million in the bank for a structure estimated to cost over four times that amount. Though Gehry is to have responded to the CFA's request for adjustments, Congress was not impressed with the re-designs that bear a very close resemblance to their controversial predecessors. Some see more than a hint of ego in Gehry's stubbornness; an unnamed official affiliated with the Memorial claimed the largely unchanged plans reflected "tremendous arrogance." Responding to the latest development Representative Rob Bishop of Utah, chairman of the subcommittee on public lands and environmental regulation said, “To me this is very disappointing. It looks like tweaks here and there. It still means Gehry has not done what Congress asked him to do—to work with all the constituents, Congress, and the family.”
A timber-backed glass facade provides transparency, acoustical isolation, and resiliency for a historic theater complex in the nation’s capital.When the Mead Center for Performing Arts in Washington D.C. hired Vancouver-based Bing Thom Architects to double the institution’s square footage without disturbing two historic theaters designed by treasured architect Harry Weese, it was clear to firm principal Michael Heeney that standard solutions would not suffice. For one, the theater facilities were insufficient and outdated. More troublesome, however, was the fact that passenger jet liners taking off and landing at Regan National Airport across the Potomac River were so loud they were interrupting performances. The architects had to find a solution to mitigate this cacophony both for the existing structures as well as for the expansion—a new theater called Arena Stage. “We had to achieve acoustical separation and isolation from exterior noise in a way that was respectful and maintained the integrity of the original structures,” Heeney told AN. Building off an approach that originated from a project in Surrey, British Columbia, the design team decided to wrap the triangular-shaped complex in glass with timber column supports, topped off with a 500-foot cantilevered roof. With the help of structural engineers at Fast + Epp and facade consultancy Heintges, the team extrapolated the Surrey solution to provide even greater transparency for the existing Weese theaters, Arena Stage, and a variety of mixed use spaces totaling 200,000 square feet. The system features a series of columns milled from parallel strand lumber to taper at the base with an ellipse-shaped section. Each column stands between 45 and 63 feet high with a diameter of 22 by 32 inches. Spaced on 36-foot centers, the columns effectively support the dead load of the glass curtain wall in addition to the weight of the roof overhead. The total perimeter of the complex measures approximately 650 feet in length. The base of each column tapers to a painted cast iron base featuring an ellipse-shaped cutout. “There’s enormous force coming down through those columns, but we articulated it gracefully like a ballet dancer en pointe,” said Heeney. The columns tilt four degrees to minimize glare. Icon Exterior Building Solutions custom designed and extruded the aluminum-framed curtain wall with 12- by 7 ¾-foot trapezoidal insulated glass units. A ½ -inch krypton-filled space is sandwiched by a 3/8-inch outer glass pane with a low # coating on the No. 2 surface, and a ¼-inch inner lite for optimal acoustic insulation. The entire system hangs from ½ inch steel cables connected to a structural steel top truss. Lateral loads are handled by a horizontal paralam mullion system (9 inches deep, 3/12 inches thick, 12 feet in length) that ties back to the columns with 5- to 6-foot paralam struts, depending on the curvature of the glass. “Normally with a curtain wall, you build the structure and it comes after, but here we used the columns to take the structure in addition to the glazing,” explained Gerry Epp, partner at Fast + Epp and president of StructureCraft. “It’s a super efficient scheme because we executed the structure at the same time as the facade.” According to Heeney’s estimation, the Mead Center’s large-scale commercial timber-backed glass facade was the first of its kind in the US and has performed beyond the designer’s expectations. When a 5.8-magnitude earthquake rattled the D.C. area in 2011, the glass curtain wall swung with the earth’s motion and then settled back into place. “Even though it’s not seismically designed, I think the West Coast designers’ inclinations made it inheritantly stable,” Heeney mused.
Out of a crop of 26, ten teams have been invited to present their technical proposals for the renovation of the Mies van der Rohe–designed Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C. District officials are hoping to transform the landmark 1972 building, Mies’ last built work and his only in D.C., into a state-of-the-art central library fit for the nation’s capital. The finalists are Cunningham Quil Architects and 1100 Architects, Ennead Architects and Marshall Moya Architects, Leo A. Daly and Richard Bauer, Martinez and Johnson Architects and Mecanoo Architects, OMA and Quinn Evans Architects, Patkua Architects and Ayer Saint Gross, REX and Davis Carter Scott Architects, Shalom Baranes and Davis Brody Bond, Skidmorw Owings & Merill, and Studios Architecture and The Freelon Group. With the library’s plumbing, HVAC and elevator systems in need of replacement, asbestos present throughout the building, and annual maintenance costs soaring to $5 million, the aging athenaeum demands some serious work. Library officials have given their chosen architects a few different options, from a simple update of the building’s ailing systems, to construction of two additional floors or a complete gutting the interior. Either way, the transformation is scheduled to wrap up by 2018.
Glass-clad, cable-net structures are one of today's leading forms of high-transparency facade technology. Since 2009, Enclos has been an authority in the design, engineering, fabrication, and assembly of custom curtain wall systems and structural glass facades. The company has published a number of reports about building skin systems. Volume 1: Skylights of the Facade TecNotes Series focuses on glass in overhead applications and the unique opportunities it brings. On September 11th, Enclos’ Mic Patterson will join AN to discuss glass facades at GlassBuild America: The Architects Forum in Atlanta. Mr. Patterson will share several examples that show how optimal transparency and aesthetic elegance can work together. He will discuss projects such as 51 Louisiana in Washington, D.C., two existing buildings that have been joined by a glass-clad atrium, and Station Place: Security & Exchange Commission Headquarters, also in Washington, D.C., which consists of a 55-foot-long and 60-foot-wide skylight. Mr. Patterson has lectured internationally on various aspects of advanced facade technology and is the author of Structural Glass Facades and Enclosures.
Frank Gehry's design for the four-acre Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in Washington D.C. has sparked controversy for its departure from traditional memorial design around the National Mall from the president's family and others, prompting a third-party design competition and calls for redesign from Congress. Now the beleaguered memorial is one step closer to reality as the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) voted 3-to-1 this month to approve an updated design with additional changes to proposed woven-metal tapestries that have generated most of the public outcry. Besides the tapestries, Gehry's design has been criticized for its scale and the presentation of the president's humble Midwestern upbringing. Situated at the base of Capitol Hill across Independence Avenue from the National Air and Space Museum, the contentious design, carrying a $142 million price tag, has undergone several revisions from its original design. The commission asked Gehry to remove two of the tapestries still remaining in the latest layout, a request Gehry was receptive to considering. Other changes reflected in the new memorial include reorienting the center of the public space to create a more-defined alleé directing views to the Capitol building and providing more emphasis to Eisenhower's wartime achievements, such as new quotes from his famous Guildhall Address. The CFA includes new Commissioner Elizabeth Meyer, Vice-Chair Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Alex Krieger, and Edwin Schlossberg. Meyer, the only landscape architect on the commission, held the sole vote against approval of Gehry’s updated design. According to ASLA blog, the Dirt, she was not comfortable approving the design without reviewing it as a complete landscape plan, noting that the success of the memorial is tied to how it operates as a park and that the “architecture of the trees needs more time and refinement.” AECOM is working with Gehry on the memorial's landscape. The revised design now heads to the National Capital Planning Commission for its next approval, but uncertainty remains whether Congress will withhold funding for the $142 million project and force a redesign. Based on past expenditure, legislation to terminate Gehry’s plan, revamp the commission, and select a new design would cost $17 million, according to the Congressional Budgets Office.
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Wahington D.C., designed by SOM in 1974, is undeniably striking in its design—the distinctively cylinder shaped structure is unlike anything else in the city. In 2009 Richard Koshalek, director of the modern and contemporary art museum, in a bold effort to place the museum at the forefront of our nation’s cultural institutions, came up with a radical new plan that would make the building stand out even more among the countries’ leading museums and significantly augment the city's arts culture. Koshalek proposed his new vision for a 15-story inflatable balloon, designed by Diller Scofidio & Renfro, that would bubble out of the donut-shaped museum’s central courtyard twice a year. The project, dubbed the “Seasonal Inflatable Structure,” would serve as a unique space for installations and performances. The idea was never realized, and as of this June the project was abandoned. Richard Kurin, the Smithsonian's undersecretary for history, art, and culture, attributes the desertion of the project to financial challenges. The construction of the bubble relied solely on private funds, but donors prefer contributing money to a permanent structure rather than a temporary project, and after four years of fundraising, more than half of the necessary $15 million funds were lacking. The Smithsonian’s decision to terminate the project was not supported by all, however, and resulted in a sort of domino effect of negative outcomes. Immediately following the decision to terminate Koshalek resigned as director and Constance R. Caplan stepped down as board chairwoman, but not before delivering a harsh critique of the museum and the Smithsonian Institute’s power over the board. As reported by the New York Times, Ms. Caplan said, “When you ask people to raise money you have to give them more of a say in what happens at the institution.” Since members must donate $50,000 upon joining the board and are also expected to actively raise funds, she holds that they should have more power when making decisions about the museum. Mr. Koshalek advocates that the future success of the museum relies on the use of novel technologies and creative programming, but others, such as 13-year board veteran and former chairman J. Tomilson Hill feel strongly that projects like the bubble will take away from the museum’s impressive collections and exhibitions, which should remain the institution's focus. The Hirshhorn is home to modern and contemporary works by renowned leaders of 20th century art and sculpture including including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Jackson Pollock, Ellsworht Kelly, Edward Hopper, to name only a few. On June 29th Koshalek officially stepped down as director, but it seems like his forward thinking may prevail after all. Kerry Brougher, chief curator, has temporarily taken Mr. Koshalek’s place. At the moment Brougher’s primary concerns are the collections and exhibitions, but he shares Mr. Koshalek’s opinion that digital technologies, public programming, and thematic exhibitions will be instrumental to The Hirshhorn's future.
Although it gets more daily traffic than Midway Airport, Chicago’s main rail hub remains little more than a waypoint for most people—a bustling transit station buried beneath an often empty Beaux Arts volume. The Metropolitan Planning Council wants to change that. Their new placemaking contest, Activate Union Station, calls on architects, landscape architects, planners and designers of all stripes to submit ideas for a design-build program that will enliven the underused West Loop hub. Two winners will receive $5,000 each to make their ideas happen at any of three Union Station hotspots between Aug. 24 and Sept. 2: the Headhouse, located west of Canal Street; the east-facing arcade on Canal Street; and the Plaza of Fifth Third Center, along the Chicago River. The nation’s third-busiest rail hub, accommodating more than 120,000 Amtrak and Metra passengers every day, Union Station already recognized the need to invite people to stop and stay in its 2011 Master Plan, as they do in D.C. and Philadelphia. Entries are due July 24 at 5:00 p.m. to activateunionstation.com.