Posts tagged with "Washington D.C.":

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Freelon Adjaye Bond / Smithgroup’s Crowning Achievement on the National Mall

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The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), scheduled to open to the public tomorrow, is capping off a nearly decade-long highly publicized planning and construction process. The 400,000-square-foot building is notable for securing the last developable site on the National Mall, and will be the nation’s primary home for exhibiting and celebrating African-American achievements in art, history, and culture. While 60 percent of the structure sits below grade, the remaining 40 percent rises 85 feet above grade and is wrapped in an arresting daylight-filtering screen referred to as a corona. The three-tiered, inverted form merges African and American historical references, drawing from Yoruban caryatids and the Washington Monument. The corona’s pattern was developed by digitizing traditional shapes the team found in historic ornate ironwork from Charleston and New Orleans. The project is the result of a collaboration among Adjaye Associates, who functioned as the lead designer, Freelon Group (now Perkins+Will), who covered the interior design scope above grade, Davis Brody Bond, who covered the interior design scope below grade, and SmithGroupJJR, who was responsible for the entire enclosure of the building from the foundations to the roof, and from curb to curb. With four architects and numerous consultant teams on board, the NMAAHC’s design process was fast and highly collaborative. The client and representatives of each of the firms attended workshops and presentations at project milestones. Work on the facade design process proceeded with a smaller team coordinated by Adjaye Associates, who held regular meetings at its New York City office. For federally funded projects, three initial concepts must be presented before narrowing down to one final scheme. Only 14 months was allotted for the time between a final concept submissions to the delivery of bid documents. Areta Pawlynsky, partner at Heintges & Associates, the consulting firm for facade engineering, said this timeframe was pressing, but ultimately benefitted the project: "This was incredibly demanding, but in a way, easier to keep the momentum going to work through all of these design decisions.” Throughout this process, Pawlynsky said, adhering to the competition-winning design vision was what drove the design development process. "The most challenging part of the project was making sure the facades remained true to the competition." She continued, "When we look back at the competition entry images and the verbal description, we are very proud the building's envelope was able to remain true throughout its development. That doesn't always happen."
  • Facade Contractor Enclos / Northstar
  • Architects Freelon Adjaye Bond / Smithgroup (The Freelon Group, Adjaye Associates, Davis Brody Bond, SmithGroup JJR)
  • Construction Manager Clark / Smoot / Russell, a joint venture
  • Facade Consultants Heintges & Associates; Guy Nordenson & Associates with Robert Silman Associates (structural engineering); Fisher Marantz Stone (lighting consultant); WSP Flack & Kurtz (Mechanical Engineer)
  • Location Washington, D.C.
  • Date of Completion 2016
  • Facade Construction Systems Hung AESS truss and framing system with structurally glazed curtain wall units installed onto AESS from interior (corona framing & enclosure); cast aluminum with custom artisan 5 coat PVDF coated panels on AESS carrier frames (corona screen); bent laminated glass clerestory (oculous); Metal panel rainscreen; Various other structurally glazed curtain walls
With full height atriums on each of the museum’s four sides, the exterior envelope was conceptualized as an “inside-out” assembly, providing clear spans of glass to the interior. Guy Nordenson & Associates developed the primary structural system—a series of three horizontal trusses that wrap the building, giving the facade its signature tiered form. Construction detailing of the envelope was carried out through a design assist package awarded to a joint venture between Enclos and Northstar, who developed a cost-saving strategy to integrate vertical trusses within the curtain wall assembly. Heintges & Associates then engineered and developed technical options for systems that attached to this structure, including the screen panels and unitized glass panels. Adjaye Associates’ decorative screen pattern was digitally manipulated—scaling up and down to produce four densities ranging from 65 to 95 percent opacity in response to key views of the surrounding monuments, and to solar orientation. Selective openings in the corona screen provide “lenses” looking outward to key views of the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, White House, and U.S. Capitol. The material selection process for the corona screen began with solid cast bronze, which was deemed too heavy with a variation that—over time—would cause undesirable performative and maintenance issues. The design team settled on a cast aluminum due to the material’s track record as a reliable cladding. A unique five-coat application of PVDF produced variation and depth to the bronze coloration of the panels. The corona screen was assembled on-site from shop-fabricated steel plate carrier frames containing 13 cast aluminum panels each. A staggered paneling running across the facade required selective panels to be installed in the field. These “stitch panels” bridge the gaps between adjacent carrier frames, helping to conceal any visual clues to the pre-fabricated frame assembly. The design team consulted with Fisher Marantz Stone on a subtle lighting scheme to incorporate backlit panels that bounce light off frit glazed walls to produce a glowing facade at night. These details and lighting effects were scrutinized through numerous design studies and mockups, and by regulatory agencies to ensure the lighting of monuments at night would remain balanced. Hal Davis, senior vice president at SmithGroupJJR, said the building envelope design was “quite unusual.” Asked if there were any technical challenges associated with designing a curtainwall system with an inside-out weather line, Davis replied, “of course!” He explained that an off-the-shelf-system couldn’t simply be installed backward: "It’s a different approach and it did take quite a bit of effort. We worked with Enclos and Heinges and David Adjaye to get it right and to make sure we were going to maintain the integrity of the design, the tightness and the insulation quality of the system, preventing condensation. For this, we had to develop very subtle heating elements that would eliminate moisture.” Pawlynsky concluded, "I think the real story of success here is the collaboration, including the contractors, Enclos and Northstar, and CM Clark. There was a strong commitment to executing this facade in the appropriate way, and it extended across the board."
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Winner announced for the “Memorials for the Future” competition

The National Park Service (NPS), National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), and Van Alen Institute has announced the winner of the Memorials for the Future ideas competition. Initiated in March this year, the competition has been a six-month process in which participants were encouraged to "reimagine the way we think about, feel, and experience memorials in Washington, D.C., and inspire new memorial approaches around the country." The winning team: Climate Chronograph, comprised Bay Area-based landscape architects Erik Jensen and Rebecca Sunter. The winning pair imagined "a living observatory for the unfolding global story of climate change." Drawing submissions from more than 300 participants, Climate Chronograph triumphed after four finalists were chosen by a jury who looked for "innovative, distinct approaches." In this last stage, finalists were urged to consider practicality, especially within real "technological limitations" and the "current requirements of the commemoration process." Conceived as an "evolving memorial for future conditions," Climate Chronograph is situated in Hains Point, Washington, D.C. Here, the memorial can transform into a new ecosystem as its site—a grove of cherry trees—floods. The memorial is intended to be experienced over a lifetime. In this timeframe, visitors will witness "a legible demonstration of generation-paced change." In doing so, the site memorializes the future and the effects of climate change that come with it. As a result, the memorial can be interpreted as a site that encourages visitors to combat climate change. Meanwhile, the memorial will still remain as a space for the activities such as fishing, picnics, and sports that take place there. During the competition, the Van Alen Institute has documented some "key findings" they observed. The findings, in their words, present "ideas that best push forward our collective notions of memorialization." They are:
  • Engage The Present And Future As Much As The Past
  • Allow For Changing Narratives
  • Universal Experiences In Addition To Places, People And Events
  • Use Local Settings For National Issues
  • Create Memorials With The Public As Well As For The Public
  • Consider Ephemeral, Mobile, And Temporary Forms
  • Memorials Beyond Physical Space
  • Challenges Our Future Memorials Face
This evening, Erik Jensen and Rebecca Sunter's work will be on display in the Hall of Nations at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Members of the four finalist teams will be present from 7:00pm to 8:00 p.m. The exhibition, which also showcases the three other finalists' work, will be free and run through October 20, 2016. The teams will also present their proposals at the National Capital Planning Commission meeting at 1:00 p.m. today, which will be live-streamed at www.ncpc.gov/live.
“The National Park Service Centennial challenged us to think about new ways to engage the next generation and tell stories relevant to them. Memorials for the Future challenged us to think about how we will take the imagination displayed in this ideas competition and use it to spark a new generation of national park visitors, supporters and advocates, not to mention artists, architects and philosophers,” National Park Service Regional Director Bob Vogel said in a press release. “We’re committed to continuing this conversation and engaging people in the stories and commemorations that are important to them and to the shared heritage of our nation.”
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Washington, D.C.’s new digital kiosks and sensor network will harvest a wealth of urban data

At seven feet tall and featuring 55-inch screens, the 30 kiosks coming to downtown D.C. will be much more than glorified digital ad machines. Designed by New York–based Smart City Media, the kiosks will feature timely information relating to nearby restaurants, retail, events, and public transportation. This pilot program is led by private nonprofit DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID), which is supported by the property owners within its 138-block area northeast of the White House and Constitution Avenue.

The kiosks will monitor noise levels, temperature, air quality, humidity, and barometric pressure. This data will be supplemented by an array of sensors placed on the BID’s buildings that will also monitor the surroundings. Unlike the kiosks, these sensors won’t have a conventional data connection; they’ll use a technology specially developed for “Internet of Things” applications: Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN). LPWAN devices send small bursts of encrypted data over radio to a base station. While the data bursts can’t be large—you couldn’t transmit a song or movie—the sensors gain range and long battery life (up to 10 years, depending on usage). Companies like Portsmouth, New Hampshire–based Senet—which is building a new LPWAN network in D.C. for this project—arebetting that LPWAN is the future backbone of smart-city technology. Conventionally connected sensors elsewhere within the BID’s buildings will monitor energy and water usage, along with waste production and data related to occupancy. Combined with public data—such as bike share usage—a formidable data set emerges for the entire D.C. BID.

Much like New York’s LinkNYC program, these D.C. kiosks will offer free wi-fi and pay for themselves with new digital ad revenue. However, the BID’s efforts will tap into deep technological infrastructure already in place in the nation’s capital. Soon, researchers will be able to map loads of information onto D.C.’s urban landscape.

After the sensors collect this data, but before it’s distributed to stakeholders, software from New York City–based maalka will aggregate that information and—in the words of its CEO Rimas Gulbinas—“slice and dice” it for easy sharing. BID members will log into maalka’s software to track the performance of their buildings, and the BID will roll out a private/public access point in the future. (The BID is currently determining what data sets will be public, as some information may be sensitive.) Once released, this information could be used for an endless amount of analyses, including exploring connections between the environment and health, measuring the impact of policy initiatives, tracking sustainability, and optimizing transit. “Once this data becomes available and collaborative cities provide data in the same way, it creates an opportunity for app development that is cross-city which has not existed until now,” said Wilfred Pinfold, CEO of Urban.Systems, a consultancy working with the BID.

As for the data itself, the BID isn’t claiming ownership. “We don’t plan on owning any data,” said DowntownDCBID director of sustainability Scott Pomeroy, “but we will protect data that our stakeholders want to have protected.” He added that transparency and openness are actually the main objective: “There’s a value in that transparency because it can be analyzed and worked with” by app developers, researchers, and policy makers, Pomeroy added. Nearby shops will be able to broadcast ads on nearby kiosks, meaning, “you’re going to get stuff that’s locally relevant as opposed to [the big box businesses] out on the street now,” said Smart City Media CEO Tom Touchet.

Among the many entities behind this kiosk project—including the BID, maalka, Smart City Media, and more—there is a strong consensus that this effort represents a recent convergence of technological know-how and political will-power. For example, the BID also operates an EcoDistrict initiative that’s committed to improving sustainability; the U.S. General Services Administration owns 30 percent of the buildings within the BID and has been a key driver of the initiative. D.C. city government also has its own PA 2040 initiative, a similar “Internet of Things” undertaking that may eventually integrate its data streams with the BID’s. Working at a district-wide scale, according to Gulbinas, there are new opportunities to experiment, engage with citizens, and get feedback: “What we’re creating is this living lab of live data…and if things work, they can be translated to other districts.”

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AN exclusive: First look at David Adjaye’s completed National Museum of African American History and Culture

Filling the last prominent spot on the National Mall—just east of the Washington Monument—the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) has already proven itself a striking addition to the tapestry of monumental architecture at the heart of the nation's capital. Set to open September 24th, the exterior of the building is complete: 3,600 bronze-painted aluminum panels clad the museum's three-tiered structure. The panels reference the intricate cast iron designs that African American slaves produced across the American South; the building's "three-tiered crowns" were inspired by Yoruban art from West Africa, a region where many of the United State's slaves were taken into bondage. As an institution, the museum was established in 2003 and, in 2009, Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup was selected from a group of six invited teams to design the museum. Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup includes Durham, North Carolina-based Freelon Group, London and New York-based Adjaye Associates, New York-based Davis Brody Bond, and Detroit-based SmithGroupJJR. Ground broke on the museum in 2012. The building extends four stories underground; visitors can start at the lowest level to learn about the era of ”Slavery and Freedom,” advancing upwards to the “Era of Segregation,” “1968 and Beyond,” and finally a special exhibitions gallery, theater, and other programming. Notable artifacts range from Nat Turner's Bible to Chuck Berry's convertible and a former slave's two story house built during the Reconstruction Era. Upper floors feature education facilities, staff offices, and multiple galleries. Enjoy this first look at the NMAAHC's exterior! The Architect's Newspaper will continue to cover this project in the near future.
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Reagan National Airport gets $1 billion revamp on its 75th anniversary

Last month, Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C. celebrated 75 years of operation. During its tenure, the airport has witnessed an unprecedented surge in passengers. Serving more than 23 million passengers last year, National has arguably surpassed even President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s vision for it when he watched its first arrival, an American Airlines DC-3, touchdown in 1941. Now plans courtesy of AIR Alliance, a joint venture between engineering firm AECOM and Houston-based PGAL, are set to replace Gate 35X with a new building that will ease passenger congestion. Known for its pedigree in the typology, PGAL is also working on Newark Liberty, Fort Lauderdale, and Los Angeles international airports. Financed by the airlines, the scheme is set to total $1 billion and will increase the airport’s square footage by about five percent. For some time now, National has been a headache for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA). Currently, Dulles International Airport sees fewer flyers pass through its gates, yet is 14 times larger than National. Additionally, Dulles is located more than 25 miles from D.C., whereas National is only approximately five miles away and a mere 30 minutes via public transport. “The project is focused on improving the customer experience at Reagan National Airport,” said Chris Paolino of MWAA. “We aren’t increasing any airfield capacity—there will be no new flights—but the project will better accommodate the record growth in passengers we have already had.” The way the notorious Gate 35X is set up, passengers saddled with flights out of there have to take a shuttle bus and brave the conditions when climbing up outdoor stairs to board aircraft. Paolino said that the new concourse will operate like a “traditional gate” where passengers can finally find shelter from the elements. The security checkpoint location is another aspect slated for an overhaul. “At this point, the plan is for the security checkpoints to be located near the end of the walkways from the garages and metro station, which will shift the large expanse of shopping and dining locations that had been pre-security to post-security,” Paolino said. “We will also be shifting the security checkpoints from the base of each gate area in the B/C Terminal to more centralized locations. This will allow for better flow of passengers between gate areas and ease crowding in the gate areas, especially during irregular operations, such as winter weather, where flight delays compound the problem.” Presently, connecting passengers must go through security twice (coming out and then back in) or take a bus to get from one gate to another. Despite being in the pipeline since 2014, renderings have only just begun to be leaked. Work is due to start this fall, and Paolino said passengers will begin to see more evidence of the construction next spring. Heading up the construction is New York–based Turner Construction Company. Completion is slated for 2024.
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Construction begins on Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners’s Spy Museum

British architect Richard Rogers and his London-based firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RHSP) saw construction break ground on the not-so-well hidden International Spy Museum in Washington D.C. Situated on L’Enfant Plaza, the 140,000-square-foot museum is part of wider effort to reinvigorate the area. It will replace the current 19th Century building located in Penn Quarter. According to a press release from RHSP, the new museum will offer a "glass veil" that will be draped in front of a "enclosed black box exhibition space." This will let the buildings circulation be viewed from both interior and exterior perspectives, something that the architects say will contribute "new energy along 10th Street." The "sense of veil" and "black box" will also be visual cues evoking the secrecy and mystery associated with espionage. "Behind this veil, the prominent facade of the box angles out over the street and public space to one side, breaking the building line to create a disruptive landmark at the crest of 10th Street, visible from the National Mall at one end and Banneker Park at the other," the firm said. In addition to this, the new building will also expand exhibit and educational spaces, including a theater and "unique" event spaces.  The aforementioned event spaces and a roof terrace will be located above a double-height lobby. Working with the Malrite Company from Cleveland, who founded the museum, the District was able to make sure that the museum stayed in D.C. “As a Navy veteran, I, along with my family, take pride in setting the stage for the International Spy Museum to grow," said Milton Maltz, the founder of The Malrite Company. “We consider it essential to ensuring the contributions of the dedicated men and women who serve in our intelligence agencies. They are recognized for the invaluable roles they’ve played in winning wars and protecting Americans at home and around the globe.” "The international spy museum has long been a destination for residents and visitors, finding innovative ways to keep us connected with our past," said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. "The new museum will be a welcome addition to southwest as we continue to attract businesses and expand economic opportunity." The museum is due to open at some point in 2018, however, the museum's lease at its current location at 800 F Street NW is set to end in 2017.
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Watergate Hotel reopens after a $125 million gut renovation, with design nods to the 1960s

Bellhops dressed in Sixties-themed uniforms created by costume designer Janie Bryant from the Mad Men television series. Guest rooms that resemble cabins on a cruise ship, only filled with midcentury modern furniture. Guest room keys bearing a message that makes a not so subtle reference to the Nixon era: “No need to break in…” Those are just a few of the design touches guests will find at the Watergate Hotel, on the banks of the Potomac River in Washington, D. C. Located at 2650 Virginia Avenue N. W. and closed since 2007, the hotel reopened today after a six-year, $125 million renovation. As part of the work, the number of rooms has increased from 251 to 336, including 32 suites. 17,000 square feet of meeting and event space have been added, including a 7,000 square foot ballroom. The developer is Euro Capital Properties of New York, headed by Jacques and Rakel Cohena, a husband and wife team. The architects were BBGM of Washington and Ron Arad Architects of London. Room rates start at $435 per night. Originally designed by Italian architect Luigi Moretti in 1961, the Watergate Hotel gained attention for its contemporary design, and it came to epitomize the lifestyle and sophistication of its time. In the latest renovations, the 1960s exterior was preserved, but the interior was gutted and rebuilt. The architects put emphasis on playing off the midcentury modern design and playing up the sense of retro luxury and swank that distinguishes this hotel from more traditional Washington hotels such as the Willard InterContinental on Pennsylvania Avenue. Much of the furniture has been designed to look as if it dates from the 1960s. In a nod to the hotel's Italian heritage and inspired by its curves and undulations, Arad looked to sculptural, modern furnishings by the Italian designer Moroso. Arad also designed a new whiskey bar that's marked by a sculpture made of metal and whiskey bottles. The rooftop bar has a fire pit and sweeping views of the Potomac River, the Capitol, and the Washington Monument. The designers and developers didn't shy away from the Watergate’s link to the break-in that brought down a president. The hotel's customer service phone number ends in 1972, and recordings of Richard Nixon’s speeches will play periodically in public restrooms. “The Watergate is undoubtedly one of the most glamorous and illustrious hotels in the world," said Rakel Cohen, senior vice president of design and development for Euro Capital Properties. "We have paid meticulous attention to every detail in its renovation…. Its intrigue is driven by evocative design, from the retro feel that we have infused to the mystique that lies behind every curve of the hotel's architecture."
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Four finalists named in Memorials for the Future competition

Four finalists have been named in the “Memorials for the Future” design competition, launched to find new ways to create, experience and think about memorials in the nation’s Capitol. Competition sponsors on Wednesday announced the finalists, who were selected from a group of 30 semi-finalists by an 11-member jury. The jurors originally planned to name three but ended up adding a fourth that they didn’t want to eliminate. The proposals were very different from each other, ranging from a series of oral histories of significant places, told by a “roving flock of bright parrot-like automated story tellers,” to high definition videos of national parks projected inside the Anacostia Metro station, to disappearing rows of cherry trees that would show the effect of climate change and rising sea levels. The competition was organized by the National Park Service, the National Capital Planning Commission and the Van Alen Institute. The finalists will be asked to ask to take part in a research and design process that will lead to proposals for site specific memorials in Washington, D. C.  A winner will be named on September 8. The finalists are: American Wild: A Memorial Team: DHLS. Members: Forbes Lipschitz, Halina Steiner, Shelby Doyle, Justine Holzman American Wild virtualizes the National Parks through an interactive, immersive installation. Using ultra-high-definition video, recordings of each 59 natural parks can be projection-mapped at full scale. Audio recordings heighten the visceral experience and establish emotional connections to the landscape. The memorial democratizes National Park access by creating an installation in one of the most economically and racially diverse neighborhoods in the nation’s capital. Full scale, immersive environment design expands access to both phenomenological experience and ecological understanding. In so doing, the memorial reinvigorates the ways in which we interact with the cultural and biological diversity of the American landscape. Climate Chronograph Team: Azimuth Land Craft. Members: Erik Jensen, Rebecca Sunter A platform for witnessing rising seas, the Climate Chronograph is a living observatory for an unfolding global story. As seas rise, cherry trees die in place, becoming bare branched delineations of shorelines past. Over a lifetime, a visitor will experience the same place in its ever-changing condition, a legible demonstration of generational-paced change. This new memorial is continually becoming, and in doing so offers a new approach to monumentality. A light human hand sustainably initiates a profound pastoral meditation. This landscape chronograph marks both our vulnerability and our response. It records the challenges before us. The IM(MIGRANT) : Honoring the Journey Team: Honoring the Journey. Members: Radhika Mohan, Sahar Coston-Hardy, Janelle L. Johnson, Michelle Lin-Luse The experience of movement and migration is the elemental experience of what it means to be an American. Leaving home, hopeful and expectant, and meeting hostility and kindness, misunderstanding and acceptance. Overcoming obstacles fueled by ambition and resourcefulness. Making a new home among people familiar and strange. Immigrant experiences, including those of native peoples, are at the foundation of the national psyche. They are also experiences that divide our country and have been a part of our political debate since the country’s founding. THE IM(MIGRANT) is a proposal that responds to these ideas, reinforcing core American beliefs by unfolding and commemorating the varied journeys that grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, and strangers have taken through the landscape of Washington, DC. It offers the visitor access to the experience of movement, of arrival, and of making a new home. VOICEOVER Team: Talk Talk. Members: Anca Trandafirescu, Troy Hillman, Yurong Wu, Amy Catania Kulper VOICEOVER: histories, memories, and flights of fancy. VOICEOVER is a project that embraces a spirit of revisionism as a means toward a broader and more democratic form of national memorialization. Rather than a freestanding monument, VOICEOVER is a supplemental overlay that expands the original monuments’ meanings and extends the territory of possible memorial subjects deeply into Washington DC’s urban fabric. Fragmentary and dependent by nature VOICEOVER makes no claims toward cultural conclusions on historic events. Rather, VOICEOVER is a loud call to reawaken a nation to its relevant and multi-faceted pasts. It gives voice to the diverging understandings and conflicting perspectives of a multi-cultural society.
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Semifinalists announced for Washington, D.C. Memorials for the Future competition

Thirty semi-finalists for the Memorials for the Future competition have been announced. Launched in mid-April, the competition was organized by the National Park Service (NPS), the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), and Van Alen Institute, and seeks a design concept for a temporary memorial somewhere in Washington, D.C. (see our prior coverage here). Part of the competition criteria was that the memorial be adaptive to different perspectives/narratives, ephemeral, virtual, interactive, or event-focused. One semi-finalist submission, The Installation of 6 Million Stars, commemorates the victims of the Holocaust. This interactive memorial consists of two joined open triangles whose lights can be activated digitally (i.e. remotely) or by touch. While certain details on this project are forthcoming, the proposal states that selecting a light would lead you to more information on a Holocaust victim’s name and his/her biography. Because the lights can be activated from different places and at different times, the memorial would be constantly changing. The Installation of 6 Million Stars intends to encourage the participation of young people through its digital interface. Among the many semi-finalists that utilize digital technology is M.A.R.K. (Memorial Augmented Reality Key). M.A.R.K. consists of physical markers and a M.A.R.K. mobile device app. When a marker is scanned using the app, your phone can display different points in history of the landscape, “[adding] a visual and auditory layer of history to the existing scene,” according to the design summary found on the competition’s website. RFID, GPS, and your camera allow this virtual reality to be accessed. A timeline on your phone's screen acts as a time machine, from which users can select a time period to see the surrounding landscape. At a time when virtual reality experiences are exponentially gaining popularity, this type of memorial aims to fit into the dynamic environment of D.C. and encourage a broad audience to engage with history. A less digitalized memorial is Memorials for the Future Lost Cities which commemorates cities that will likely be radically changed or destroyed by the rising sea level. An elevated pavilion-like structure located on Hains Point would include “a small exhibition space, a covered picnic/play area and a server to host a digital library.” The library will document the history of these “future lost cities.” Of the semi-finalists, many pay tribute to American history, environmental concerns, or current issues such as terrorism and gun violence. Finalists will be announced on June 8.
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New details emerge for REX’s sleek office building with a fluted facade

Brooklyn-based architecture firm REX, led by Marcus Prize winner Joshua Prince-Ramus, has announced plans for a new 450,000 square foot "premium" office complex for real estate company Tishman Speyer.

The building—which AN first reported on last year—will be located on 2050 M Street in Washington D.C. and aims to "set the new standard of trophy office buildings" in the district's "golden triangle," a renowned business hub.

The project will feel light given its surrounding buildings—which range from Beaux Arts, Neoclassicism to Art Deco and Brutalism—feature heavy masonry exteriors. 2050 M Street's distinction will be further accentuated by its lack of ornamentation.

In this respect, REX's office building could be considered a contemporary take on Mies van der Rohe's high modernist style. While 2050 M Street avoids Mies's trademark use of steel structure, the principles of openness, proportionality, and legibility (in renderings, at least, the floors remain clearly visible) remain. As REX described in a press release, the project employs "hyper-transparent, floor-to-ceiling glass" that hide the view of "impending mullions."

To achieve this, the glass will use "subtly-reflective pyrolytic" coating on the exterior. A relatively new advancement in glass technology, the process involves applying the coating while the glass is in a semi-molten state, allowing the chemical composition to form a bond and become part of the glass surface. The coating provides enhanced durability against scratches and other forms of degradation. In addition, a low-e coating will be applied within the glass’s insulating cavity to improve thermal performance by reducing solar heat gains. Both coatings will be applied to the curving panels that repeat 900 times along the building's facade to create a shimmering, kaleidoscopic effect, thus hiding the mullions. The panels' curvature also has a structural purpose: the "curve’s inherent rigidity in compression" means "only the top and bottom edges of the panels are supported from the floor slabs." Meanwhile, the "‘mullion-less’ vertical edges are flush-glazed for a minimalist aesthetic that improves sight lines, while gaining useable floor area." The lobby will also house site-specific art that has not yet been commissioned. The project has not broke ground but REX, in press release, stated that completion is due for 2019.
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Restoration of the Main Hall at Washington Union Station is finally complete

Frequent visitors to Washington’s Union Station may notice on their next trip that something is missing. For the first time in half a century, managers say, the Main Hall of Daniel Burnham’s Beaux Arts train station is free of all construction-related scaffolding and other obstructions and can be viewed as the architect intended. For once, in other words, there is no major repair work underway, no blocked-off construction zones to walk around to get to the train. Also missing are the Center Café and two indoor planters that were added in previous renovations and took up much of the space under the barrel-vaulted ceiling. “Today, Washington Union Station reveals a restored, historic Main Hall,” said leaders of the Union Station Redevelopment Corp. (USRC), steward of the building at 50 Massachusetts Avenue N. E., in a statement dated May 9. “Covered for the past four years in scaffolding as rehabilitation work was underway, the historic space is now unobstructed, as originally designed, for the first time in almost 50 years.” Scaffolding went up after a 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook the region in 2011, damaging the train station and other historic structures. Besides replastering the coffered ceiling, contractors introduced a new “seismically sound” support structure for the ceiling and improved the heating and air conditioning systems in the attic. Before that was a series of modifications designed to make the station more of a destination for residents and travelers, including a National Visitor Center timed with the nation’s Bicentennial in 1976 and subsequent plans to make it a festival marketplace. Part of the just-completed restoration involved removal of a large café and round planters in the center of the Main Hall, a move that represented the culmination of several years of discussions between the Federal Railroad Administration and the State Historic Preservation Office. The Center Café closed on March 1, and removal of the restaurant enclosure and planters began soon afterwards, opening up the Main Hall. “We are very excited to reveal a fully-restored Main Hall for the public to enjoy that is also consistent with the original design envisioned by the world-famous station architect, Daniel Burnham,” said USRC President and CEO Beverley Swaim-Staley. “This is the first time in many of our lives where we can fully appreciate this space as it was historically designed.” The Main Hall opened in 1907 as the General Waiting Room for the station and was known for its impressive scale. It measures 219 feet by 120 feet, and its gold-coffered ceiling is 96 feet high. Lined with mahogany benches, the Main Hall functioned as a large open space until the 1940s, when World War II brought an increase in passenger traffic and ticket counters were expanded from the West Hall into the Main Hall to meet demand. In the 1970s, as train travel declined and air travel became more popular, managers considered new ideas to keep the station active. They designated the train station a National Visitor Center in honor of the nation’s Bicentennial. The Main Hall was reconfigured to contain an elaborate slide show that featured scenes of Washington and other tourist attractions. The slide show proved unpopular and was closed in 1985. That same year, the entire station was shut down for a renovation that included the Center Café prominently positioned in the center of the Main Hall, and other stores and restaurants nearby to make more of a hub for shopping and entertainment. The August 2011 earthquake provided an opportunity to rethink the station again. Besides causing damage that required immediate attention, it triggered a larger discussion about the best way to preserve and restore the Main Hall. In 2012, contractors began restoration of the damaged ceiling. As part of the work, they installed an elaborate system of steel framing to provide a new support structure for the ceiling, designed to help protect it in case of future earthquakes. The entire ceiling bay was also repainted and new gold leafing was applied, with help from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and a $350,000 corporate donation from the American Express Foundation. The grant helped repair the ceiling by aiding in the replacement of more than the 120,000 sheets of 23-karat gold leaf. Besides the repair work on the ceiling itself, the heating and air-conditioning systems in the attic, behind the ceiling, were improved by realigning ductwork and creating new connections to the ceiling diffusers that will allow them to be cleaned and serviced more regularly. In April, once the ceiling restoration was completed, deconstruction began on the Center Café and the two circular planters, which once served as fountains. Swaim-Staley said the last four years’ worth of repairs were a team effort, involving the Federal Railroad Administration; Union Station Investco, an entity of Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation, (manager of the station’s retail spaces); the State Historic Preservation Office, and other historic agencies. London-based Hayles and Howe led the plaster ceiling restoration. Preservationists say they’re glad to know the work is done. “Over the last 30 years both Union Station and the adjacent Capitol Hill neighborhood have been transformed by restoring the historic urban and architectural fabric,” said Lisa Dale Jones, president of Capitol Hill Restoration Society.  “The restoration of the Main Hall’s open floor plan, together with repairs to the coffered and gilt barrel vault ceiling, are important milestones in this recovery.”
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Plans unveiled for taller White House fence designed to deter intruders

Donald Trump may want to build a wall on the border between the U. S. and Mexico, but the Obama administration is more focused this week on building a new fence—around the White House. The National Capital Planning Commission was briefed Thursday on plans for a new White House security fence that would roughly double the height of the existing one and have a new concrete foundation—a response to the recent rash of “jumpers” and intruders who have tried to break into the 18-acre compound at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. “We would like to be able to ultimately rebuild the fence as it stands right now. This is an immediate need,” said Tom Dougherty, chief strategy officer for the Secret Service. “The current fence simply is not adequate for a modern era,” Dougherty said in an earlier briefing to federal officials, a recording of which was broadcast by NBC News4 in Washington. “It is entirely scalable, depending upon the circumstances. And we now have a society that tends to want to jump over the fence and onto the 18 acres.” Plans by the U. S. Secret Service and the National Park Service call for the new fence to be about 14 feet high, compared to the existing fence that is about 7 feet high. Entrance gates would be slightly higher. The new fence would have 1¾ inch pickets and “anti-climb” features such as intrusion-detection sensors. Renderings also show spikes along the upper edge similar to the “pencil point” spikes that were added to the existing fence in 2015. Mills + Schnoering Architects of Princeton, New Jersey, has been working on the design, which must be approved by the National Capital Planning Commission and the U. S. Commission of Fine Arts. One challenge is “reconciling contemporary standards of protection with the historic and highly symbolic property,” according to a letter from the Fine Arts Commission to the Park Service and the Secret Service. Federal officials say the fence will be in keeping with the Park Service’s design standards for the historic mansion and surrounding area, which draws millions of visitors a year. The planning commission did not take any formal action on the proposal at its meeting. A preliminary schedule calls for the taller White House fence to be under construction by 2018. A later phase would include a new fence to surround the nearby Treasury Department and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.