In a segment on 60 Minutes this weekend, architect Bjarke Ingels provided a glimpse of the football stadium he is designing for the Washington Redskins. A scale model displayed on the CBS news program showed a curvaceous, open-air seating bowl enveloped in some sort of fabric or mesh—and surrounded by a moat. The model depicts the stadium as a semi-transparent, wave-like structure. The moat is depicted as a space for kayakers, with parks and pedestrian bridges for tailgaters and fans. “The one thing that everybody is…excited about is that the stadium is designed as much for the tailgating, like the pre-game, as for the game itself,” Ingels told 60 Minutes interviewer Morley Safer in a statement released by CBS News and partially aired during the program. “Tailgating literally becomes a picnic in a park. It can actually make the stadium a more lively destination throughout the year without ruining the turf for the football game." On Friday, the NFL team confirmed that it had hired Ingels’ firm, BIG, of Copenhagen and New York, to design its new stadium. The team has not disclosed a location for the project. It is reportedly considering sites in Prince George’s County, Maryland; Loudoun County, Virginia; and the District of Columbia. The team currently plays at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, but has its headquarters in Ashburn, Virginia. The stadium is one of many BIG projects featured in the 60 Minutes profile of Ingels, who was described as “the architect of the moment.” Safer referred to him as a starchitect, putting a heavy emphasis on the c-h in starch. Other BIG projects shown on the program included the Google headquarters in California, the LEGO headquarters in Denmark, Two World Trade Center in New York, and Via 57 West, the “courtscraper” project in Manhattan that is a combination of a skyscraper and a courtyard building. Safer, 84, expressed admiration that Ingels, 41, is getting such large commissions even though he is relatively young. “A lot of people are willing to lay down millions of dollars for this kid,” he said. Ingels told Safer he originally wanted to be a cartoonist but ended up studying architecture and became “smitten.” He said he is aware of the irony of his firm’s name, which stands for Bjarke Ingels Group. “Denmark,” where he was born and started his firm, “is one of the smallest countries on the planet,” Ingels said. “There was something funny about calling a company BIG. If I started in America, I don’t think I would ever have named it BIG.” Ingels said he was touched when he learned that a firefighter in New York thought of his stepped-tower design for Two World Trade Center as a “stairway to heaven,” evoking the staircases where first responders lost their lives in the 9/11 terror attacks. “It’s probably the most watched skyline in the world,” he said of Manhattan. “So it’s a place where you better get it right.”
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As an architectural typology, the contemporary office building sits at the intersection of a number of social, economic, and environmental trends: the changing nature of the workplace; the expanding reach of communications and other technologies; and an increasing focus on sustainability and resilience. Three AEC industry professionals at the forefront of office building design and construction will be on hand at this week's Facades+AM DC symposium to discuss the new materials and technologies (including coatings, fritting, curved, and formed glass) that can be brought to bear on the challenges and opportunities associated with private- and public-sector office projects. Bob Schofield, Senior Vice President of Development and Director of Design and Construction at Akridge; Front Inc. Founding Partner Marc Simmons; and Gensler's Firmwide Commercial Office Building Developers Practice Area Leader, Duncan Lyons together bring years of experience in high performance design and construction to the conversation. Asked about the factors influencing the design of an office building's facade, Gensler's Lyons cited, "How the office building contributes to place-making, energy performance, and user experience; creating a healthy and inspiring workplace; [and] connecting building users to daylight, outside air, and a unique sense of place." That the worker experience is a key consideration in office building design reflects a broader transformation in American work culture, one in which a focus on fostering employee potential has replaced the traditional emphasis on products and processes. Just as employer–employee relationships have changed, so, too, has the technology available to tackle other pressing issues, including environmental performance. Lyons sees a future for dynamic building facades that utilizes new glass technologies, operable facades, and user adaptation—developments that promise to boost both worker satisfaction and sustainability. Hear more from Lyons, Schofield, and Simmons, as well as other movers and shakers in the facades world at Facades+AM DC. Register today and earn CEU credits at the event March 10.
After years of delay and $200 million, Washington D.C.’s 2.2-mile-long streetcar route opened to the public this weekend
After years of delay, Washington, D.C.'s $200 million dollar streetcar opened to the public this Saturday. Initially, the D.C. Streetcar was intended to be a modern-day streetcar network that would make other cities' streetcars bow down. The first segment was supposed to open ten years ago, and the planned route was to run 20 to 40 miles. Today, though, the streetcar scales a modest 2.2 miles, with a route that begins from behind Union Station and runs along H and Benning streets to end at the RFK Stadium parking lot. As expected by the public and feared by public officials, opening day was full of excitements and fraught with delays. Some riders were incredulous: https://twitter.com/ShortFormErnie/status/704311908585881601 Others, including Mayor Muriel Bowser, right, selfied on a packed ride... https://twitter.com/MurielBowser/status/703615386445443072 ...while The Washingtonian captured a video that reminds viewers that this streetcar has average speeds of 12 to 15 miles per hour. https://twitter.com/washingtonian/status/703604307615158272 Despite a fare of $0 for the first six months, the streetcar has limitations. Trains run every quarter hour, only run until 2 a.m., and not at all on Sundays due to limited capacity. (DDOT officials, The Washington Post reports, left three cars outside, unprotected from the weather, for a few years, damaging one so badly that it was not put into service.) For those with more burning questions about the streetcar, the paper produced a handy streetcar FAQ for the grand opening.
The increased focus on environmental performance in building design and construction is changing the AEC industry for the better, says Nora Wang, senior engineer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "Performance-based design encourages designers to consider buildings as integrated systems rather than separating the look/function of a building from its energy/environmental performance," she observed. The potential impact on facades is particularly significant. "New buildings with poor envelope design—which may look nice—make it difficult to reduce energy use and expensive to retrofit in the future, even with advanced lighting and HVAC systems installed," said Wang, who will join co-presenters Robert Moje (VMDO Architects) and Roger Flechette III (Interface Engineering) in a session on "Facades and the Environment" at the upcoming Facades+AM DC symposium. As the technical lead of Pacific Northwest's Buildings of the Future initiative, Wang has a front-row seat to the latest developments in "very interesting design strategies and technologies that take passive designs to the next level." She is particularly intrigued by biomimicry and biophilia, in which designers and fabricators look to nature for clues to creating better built environments. "This is extremely important to design resilient buildings and communities," said Wang. Wang is looking forward to Facades+AM DC in part because it provides a venue to discuss the implementation of high performance building envelopes with professionals from multiple disciplines. "I have an architectural background, so I understand the gap between design practice and technology development and the challenges of adopting new strategies/technologies in design," she explained. "I am interested in learning how cutting-edge technologies can be incorporated into design in an innovative way that will drive positive changes without sacrificing other aspects of design needs. Catch up with Wang and earn CEU credits at Facades+AM DC March 10. Register today on the event website.
As designers and builders around the world have, in recent years, embraced Passive House standards, one question has remained: will it scale? Is the Passive House approach to sustainable design suited only to small-scale ("house") projects, or might it be applied to other, larger, building types? Handel Architects has answered the latter question with a resounding yes in its Cornell University Residences, a 26-story tower for the institution's new Roosevelt Island Campus. When complete, the project will be the tallest and largest residential building in the world built to the strict Passive House code. Handel Architects' Gary Handel will deliver a keynote address on the challenges and opportunities represented by the Cornell University Residences at the Facades+AM DC symposium March 10. The building's prefabricated metal-panel building envelope is a key contributor to its overall energy-saving strategy. "The facade design is the 'passive driver' of the thermal performance of the building," explained Handel. "Higher thermal performance of the enclosure means less energy used to heat and cool the interior. This in turn means smaller, more efficient equipment to deliver the heat or cooling, which means lower energy input overall and thus a lower 'carbon footprint' than a conventionally enclosed building." The high performance facade, in other words, is the metaphorical substructure upon which the project's "active" systems are built. As with any cutting-edge endeavor, the project has not been without hiccups. "Implementation of the details has probably been the biggest challenge, as some of these details have never been implemented in a building of this size," said Handel. As an example, he cited the difficulty of installing sealing tape along portions of the facade interior that are obstructed by the building structure. In addition, explained Handel, "having the entire team—designers, suppliers, contractors—buy into the concept of a world class sustainable building and be committed to the goal has been a constant challenge." The overall experience has nonetheless been rewarding. "Designing solutions to challenges . . . has been part of the learning process we've undergone," concluded Handel. Hear more from Handel and other key players in the world of facade design and fabrication next month at Facades+ AM DC. See a complete symposium schedule and register today on the event website.
On March 10, Facades+AM, the half-day spin-off of the popular Facades+ conference series, returns to the nation's capital. The symposium is co-chaired by FXFOWLE senior partner Mark Strauss and FXFOWLE principal Kevin Cannon. "One of the things we noticed over the last year is that there's a lot of emphasis on expanding the envelope not just in terms of ideas in Washington, but also responding to environmental concerns," said Strauss. "There's an interest in sustainability from the public side, but also from the development side." Facades+AM DC will comprise one keynote address and two closely-related panel discussions. After registration, breakfast, and opening remarks from Strauss and Cannon, Handel Architects president Gary Handel will deliver a talk on his firm's new residential tower for Cornell University's New York City Tech Campus. The tower's facade is a key contributor to its status as the world's largest and tallest building designed to Passive House standards. "One aspect we haven't seen very much in Washington, but thought we could use this even to push, is to explore the idea of Passive House and its impact," said Strauss. "It will be interesting to hear about the challenges" Handel has encountered in scaling up, added Cannon. Handel's keynote address sets the stage for the morning's first panel, "Facades and the Environment." Presenters include Roger Frechette III (Interface Engineering), Robert Moje (VMDO Architects), and Nora Wang (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory). The discussion will center on how changes in environmental design, including the rise of net zero, have influenced architecture and building performance. In addition to hearing from Moje, whose firm actively explores the intersection between sustainability theory and practice in school design, "We're going to talk to engineers who are looking at how you begin to quantify and measure these things," said Cannon. The final panel, on "The Future of the Office Building," brings together Akridge's Bob Schofield, Duncan Lyons (Gensler), and Marc Simmons, of Front, Inc. "There's been a revolution around office buildings," observed Strauss. "We're re-thinking the face of the office building, but the panel is also going to explore how the work environment is changing, and how that influences facades." In reference to FXFOWLE's own portfolio, including a contemporary project in Turkey and the New York Times building (Renzo Piano), Cannon said, "We've been doing a lot of work lately on seeing how the inside of the building influences the facade. We want to see how those influences will land in DC." Join Strauss, Cannon, and other movers and shakers in the world of building envelope design and fabrication March 10 at Facades+AM DC. Learn more and register today on the conference website.
The World War I Centennial Commission in Washington D.C. has announced Chicago–based designer Joe Weishaar and New York–based sculptor Sabin Howard as the winners of the World War I Memorial Competition. The two stage competition solicited proposals to design a national WWI memorial for the Pershing Park, which currently contains a memorial to WWI General John J. Pershing. The park was designated a National WWI memorial by the federal government in late 2014, but the park was not been redeveloped to reflect this new designation. Joe Weishaar & Sabin Howard’s design entitled "The Weight of Sacrifice", was picked from five shortlisted finalists after an open competition in 2015. The winning design is comprised of a 137’ long gradually slopping wall which surrounds a grass lawn and singular sculpture. The wall, constructed of darkened bronze is animated with reliefs depicting the various roles of soldiers throughout the war. The cubic space encapsulated by the wall is also equal to that of the number of U.S. Soldiers lost in the war – one cubic foot for each of the 116,516 lost. At the heart of the project is an intent to keep the site as a public park space. The project narrative reads, “The allegorical idea that public space and public freedom are hard won through the great sacrifices of countless individuals in the pursuit of liberty provides the original design concept for this project.” The four other shortlisted offices included proposals ranging from contemporary rectilinear concepts to a neo-classical design reminiscent of a triumphal arch design. Each of the designs was guided by 10 design goals set forth by the World War I Centennial Commission. These included guidelines addressing enclosure, access, contextual considerations, and sustainability. The negotiation of what to do with the current park amenities and memorial was left up to the participants to address. The winning design proposes to keep the current General Pershing monument as it stands. Though the park has already been designated as the National WWI Memorial, the park itself has also recently been named as being eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service. If the park achieves this designation, there would be a foreseeable conflict of redevelopment as the project attempts to move forward. The parks current configuration was designed by landscape architects M. Paul Friedberg and Oehme van Sweden.
Until July 2016, Plexus A1, an art installation comprising of nearly 60 miles of handwoven threads by Mexican artist Gabriel Dawe, will be exhibited in the Smithsonian American Art Museum's newly renovated Renwick Gallery. Dawe's installation consists of 15 hues to mimic the full spectrum of visible light. Curator-in-Charge at the Renwick, Nicholas R. Bell, said, “I was immediately drawn to [Dawe’s] work, the ethereality of it, and the illusion that the material—cotton thread—is anything but that. In the long history of our relationship with textiles, how many creators have successfully changed the way we think about the very nature of the material?" Gabriel Dawe spanned the sewing thread from Renwick's 19-foot-tall ceilings and worked layer by layer, gradating hues to resemble visible light. Dawe completed the installation in ten days. Dawe said, "Once I have an idea of what I want to do in a space, it’s just a matter of attaching hooks and stringing them on site, one thread at a time. I use a tool I’ve developed that works as a giant needle that takes the thread up and down. In a space like the Renwick, which is rather big, I also rely on a lift and helpers to be able to reach over such a big span of space.” The Renwick Gallery opened last fall, after two years of renovations. Dawe is one of nine artists displaying works in the exhibition, WONDER, as the gallery gradually bring in the permanent collection. For more information on the WONDER exhibition visit the Smithsonian American Art Museum's webpage here.
For those in attendance, the State of the Union can be exhausting. Standing up, sitting down, standing up and clapping politely for hours saps the energy of even the most ardent politicians. If viewers at home see senators sneaking out of the House during tonight's speech, don't worry: those elected officials are probably headed for the Senate's "Candy Desk." The history of the desk is short and sweet: In 1965, Senator George Murphy (R-CA) began stocking Desk 80 with candy for his fellow legislators. According to Architect of the Capitol, "In every Congress since that time, a candy desk [sic] has been located in the back row on the Republican side of the aisle and adjacent to the chamber's most heavily used entrance." The Candy Desk raises some vital questions: are there treats in the replica desk in the Kennedy Institute's replica Senate Chamber? Are they edible? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1Xery2gOVc During the 114th Congress, Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) is assigned to Desk 80. In a January 2015 press release (and the video above) Sen. Toomey mused on the responsibilities of the Candy Desk steward:
"The Candy Desk duty is Mounds of responsibility. I campaigned for this assignment on the platform of life, liberty, and the pursuit of Peeps and hope Pennsylvania's treats will sweeten the bitter partisan atmosphere. I plan to stock the Candy Desk with Pennsylvania's finest chocolate and deliciousness to ensure a surplus of sweets. We are home to the best confectioners in the world. Hershey's, of course, is headquartered in Central Pennsylvania. Mars makes Three Musketeers in Elizabethtown. Just Born creates Peeps in Bethlehem. And we are proud of our smaller candy makers too including Asher's in Kulpsville, Wilbur Chocolate in Lititz, Josh Early Chocolates in the Lehigh Valley, and many, many more."AN reached out to the senator's Washington, D.C. office to find out what candy Sen. Toomy prefers. Bill Jaffee, Toomey's press assistant, stated that the desk is currently stocked with "Kit Kats, Hershey’s almond bars, Peanut Chews, Pennsylvania Dutch chocolate caramels, Milky Way, and Mike n' Ike." In a great show of bipartisan goodwill, Democrats may partake in the snacks, too.
Following in the stead of Snarkitecture and Bjarke Ingels, New York's James Corner Field Operations will create the National Building Museum's summer 2016 installation. The landscape architecture firm is best known for its outdoor projects such as the High Line, Santa Monica’s Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square, Race Street Pier in Philadelphia, and Seattle’s Central Waterfront. Field Operations will likely bring a fresh perspective inside the building's four-story Grand Hall. The National Building Museum opened in 1985 in the Pension Bureau building, originally built in 1887 and designed by Montgomery C. Meigs, the U.S. Army quartermaster general during the Civil War. Notably, the Italian Renaissance–style building features 75-foot-tall Corinthian columns in the Grand Hall and a 28-panel frieze by American sculptor Caspar Buberl. A design will be revealed in the spring and the exhibition will run in tandem with the museum's summer block party series. “We are very excited about this opportunity to once again transform the Great Hall for summer spectacle and pleasure,” said James Corner, founder of James Corner Field Operations, in a press release. “It will be a great challenge to surpass the genius of previous installations, but also an opportunity to explore something new and unexpected.” Snarkitecture opted for a giant, monochromatic ball pit (Click to see AN's report on this installation) in 2015 and the year before, Bjarke Ingels took advantage of the hall's height to craft a giant maze (Read more about the maze here). Stay tuned to learn what Field Operations creates for the space. To learn more about Field Operations and its projects, check out the Miami Underline and Great Falls State Park.
On Sunday, November 22, twenty four teams from architecture and design firms in Washington, D.C. built sculptures out of canned food inside the National Building Museum. The theme this year is transportation and sculptures included the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine, a full-size smart car, a Mayflower bean soup ship, CAN-nook Chopper to the Rescue, a Lunar module, and more. Canstruction is a national food drive for the Capital Area Food Bank. Last year, Canstruction teams donated 56,000 pounds of food and $18,000—the equivalent of 42,000 meals. More than 275 tons of food has been donated through CanstructionDC since the event began in 1998. The sculptures will be on display until Monday, November 30, and visitors can vote for their favorite to win the “People’s Choice Award” by donating a can of food in the “ballot box” next to each sculpture. For those who can’t make it to D.C. (or who want to see more) Work Zone Cam created a time-lapse video for the event. To get completely up to speed on National Building events, check out The Beach by Snarkitecture from this past summer and The Maze by BIG, both in the National Building’s great hall. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrixcmmsP3s To learn about Canstruction in your area, check out this website.
You can do a lot in fifteen minutes: cook some surf-and-turf, blast through paperwork, star in a mediocre crime drama, or travel 40 miles between major East Coast cities. Well, not yet. Given the excruciatingly slow pace of infrastructure modernization in the U.S., there will be a wait on that last one, probably for decades. Yet, the U.S. is taking small steps towards twenty-first century transportation. Last week, the U.S. Transportation Department granted $27.8 million in Federal Railroad Administration funds to the Maryland Department of Transportation and the Maryland Economic Development Corporation to conduct feasibility studies for a maglev train line that will run between DC and Baltimore. https://www.flickr.com/photos/geoffwhalan/16578045553/in/photolist-6ZNtXq-bkjuSb-byeyp6-qdzcUH-u8F6rc-9DN21-byeq9i-bkjwuj-7sUSTT-4TEqye-qZoBxP-78WXSR-7ya8wK-rfWPnB-7sYQD7-7sYQLS-ziKfWR-6pTxyU-4SpKK-21THR5-4jpRM-Ab3VT-aans1n-aansdz As the above video illustrates, Maglev trains move very, very fast, reaching speeds up to 375 miles per hour. If built, the DC-Baltimore maglev train would be a 40 mile demonstration project to determine how to best bring maglev trains to the United States. Overall, the track will cost an estimated $10 billion to build. Japanese transportation companies and the Japanese government are keen on spreading their products and expertise to the United States, a potentially lucrative market. This spring, Governor Larry Hogan and Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn rode on the Yamanashi Maglev Test Track. The Japanese government has committed $5 billion to the project, and the train operator, the Central Japan Railway Company, will not levy licensing fees for the technology. Stateside, The Northeast Maglev, a private investment group, will also contribute to the project. For those who can't delay gratification, ferroequinologists the world over love to share their love for ultrafast trains.