Posts tagged with "Washington D.C.":

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Gabriel Dawe’s Plexus A1 in the Newly Renovated Renwick Gallery

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.
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Behold the “candy desk,” a secret stash of treats in the U.S. Senate

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.
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James Corner Field Operations will design the National Building Museum’s summer 2016 installation

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.
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Watch 24 Architecture and Design Teams Create “Canstructions” in Time Lapse

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.
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Japanese government to fund a maglev train line between DC and Baltimore

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.  
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REX unveils a fluted glass office building in Washington, D.C.

As the United States capital,Washington, D.C. is a de facto magnet for smart people who want to make an impact on government. The city doesn't often make headlines for its contemporary architecture, though occasionally, a sharp new project breaks into the parade of undistinguished office buildings. One of those is a newly unveiled 11-story structure by Brooklyn-based REX at 2050 M Street, between Washington and Dupont Circles. While the client is Tishman Speyer, CBS will be the 400,000-square-foot building's primary tenant. The project's executive architect is Houston's Kendall/Heaton. The building responds to D.C.'s strict zoning codes and its prevailing office building typologies: the Neoclassical, Beaux Arts, or Brutalist box, and the smooth, soulless glass box. Zoning requires buildings to have similar height and mass, but do not regulate, or encourage, aesthetic harmony. As a result, statement buildings with similar width and height, but widely divergent styles, compete for attention. To reconcile this peculiarity, REX's building combines the mass of a stately Neoclassical building with a transparent, fluted glass facade. According to REX, the facade is comprised of "nine hundred identical, insulated-glass panels—11.5 feet tall by 5 feet wide—are subtly curved to a 9.5 foot radius through a heat roller tempering process." The floor-to-ceiling "mullion-less" windows allow sightlines that extend through the interior. The result is an exterior that catches light at regular but unexpected angles and throws pleasantly distorted images of its neighbors back at the viewer. To offset the rigidity of glass, the lobby is clad in decidedly non-vegan cowhide, and is large enough to accommodate a site-specific sculpture by an as-yet-unnamed artist. When it is complete in 2019, 2050 M Street hopes to achieve LEED Gold certification. See the gallery below for more images of the project. 2015 was a successful year for REX. In September, principal Joshua Prince-Ramus won the Marcus Prize. The biannual honor (and cash prize) is given to an architect "on a trajectory of greatness." As part of his Marcus Prize acceptance, Prince-Ramus will teach a graduate studio on adaptive reuse at University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee School of Architecture this Spring.
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OMA selected to master plan Washington, D.C.’s RFK Stadium–Armory Campus

Washington, D.C.'s rundown Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium–Armory Campus, home to soccer team D.C. United, is finally edging closer to redevelopment. The New York office of Rem Koolhaas' Rotterdam-based firm OMA has been commissioned to master plan the 190-acre site. The stadium, located in the Southeast quadrant of the District, boasts a significant soccer pedigree, having hosted five World Cup matches in 1994. Constructed in 1961, the RFK Memorial Stadium was famed for being one of the first multi-sport sports venues, pitched as both a baseball and soccer arena. After almost 60 years of service, the stadium is now long overdue for a facelift. The project is being overseen by Events DC and the Sports Authority for the District of Columbia. OMA will also work with management firm Brailsford & Dunlavey to develop long- and short-term concepts for the future usage of the site. The project will be managed by OMA's New York office, with the intention of creating a "holistic conceptual plan" that "resonates with the surrounding community" forming axis points and public meeting points, acting as a social hub for residents. Jason Long, partner at OMA, said in a statement that the plan will seek to to play an "important role in reconnecting the city to the Anacostia waterfront.” No renderings have been released to date. OMA will seek to integrate the stadium into the 190-acre site, a vast expanse currently covered by surface-level parking lots, underutilized green spaces, and wide roadways. The windswept campus today appears eerily abandoned. “The goal of the project is to develop conceptual master plans for the entire Campus that complement the site, benefit the community, and create access points and public areas of convergence for residents and visitors” Laura Baird, associate at OMA, said in a statement. Plans and concepts for the project will be released in January 2016. The campus master plan is OMA's second commission in Washington, D.C. The firm also won a design competition, with landscape architecture firm OLIN, to build the 11th Street Bridge Park that spans the Anacostia River.The so-called "Anacostia Crossings" proposal configures the bridge into an X-shaped , multi-story linear park. According to AN's October 2014 report on the bridge, nearly $16 million had already been raised for the project, with a goal of $40 million more.
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Gallaudet University announces four finalist teams to create the “first urban environment for the deaf”

Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. is doubling down on design for the deaf. The university has announced four finalists in an international design competition that will add to an ambitious program to build DeafSpace, the "first urban environment for the deaf." Designing public space with the deaf in mind brings its own unique challenges. "Do crosswalks have to heighten visibility? If sidewalks have to be wider, do they cut into sidewalk cafes and increase the area of surfaces impermeable to rainwater?" Gallaudet turned to the design community to come up with ideas in its competition. The two-part competition garnered responses from 51 multidisciplinary teams (comprising 320 architecture firms, consultants, and specialists). The brief called for a space specifically tailored to the needs of the deaf community and required the design team to propose a new campus gateway and "redefine the university's urban edge as a vibrant, mixed-use, creative and cultural district." The shortlisted finalists are:
  • Hall McKnight Architects with AECOM, Nomad RDC, Whybrow Wayfinding, L’Observatoire International, Dr Adams-Costa, and Patrick Cullina (UK)
  • Kennedy & Violich Architecture, Ltd., with Richard Burck Associates, Landscape Architecture Bureau, Bohler Engineering, Small Design Firm, Tillotson Design Associates, Cavanaugh Tocci Associates, Inc, Pentagram, Jensen Hughes Associates, Buro Happold, Tarek Atoui and Jacob Shamberg (US)
  • Marvel Architects with Quennell Rothschild Partners, ARUP, Local Projects, James Lima Planning + Development, Future/City, Jim Conti Light Design, Doyle Partners, Tom Fruin (US)
  • MASS Design Group with Jeffrey Mansfield, DLR Group, TENxTEN, Small Stuff, Urban Ingenuity, Integral Group, Wendy Jacobs, Michael Gulliver, Chisato Minamimura and Sarah Pickthall (US)
Located on the southwestern edge of the university, the competition is sited along 6th Street NE and hopes to connect the deaf and hearing communities. The university is calling the larger area "DeafSpace" and aims to fit the competition project into an existing 10-year master plan. In what will be the "first urban environment for the deaf," public spaces in and around the campus and four sizeable plots will be developed under the master plan. Started in 2012, the ten-year master plan is well under way. In 2014 architect Morris Adjmi was chosen to design the four plots totaling 1.3 million square feet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=14&v=PcSnNMSkbf4 The competition project will feature "DeafSpace" design principles, which are based on the knowledge that the built environment, largely constructed by and for hearing individuals, presents a variety of challenges to which deaf people have responded with a particular way of altering their surroundings to fit their unique ways-of-being. Examples of DeafSpace design elements can be found on the Gallaudet campus in two of its buildings. This project is the first time these design principles will be incorporated into a public space off the Gallaudet campus. The university "realized its campus didn't suit how the Deaf use buildings and streets," according to Greater Greater Washington. DeafSpace hopes to correct that. The design of DeafSpace takes into account the visual nature of sign language—American Sign Language (ASL) requires view of the whole upper body. Practitioners use lots of personal space when communicating with their hands, so in DeafSpace, "there are as few manually opening doors as possible." Hallways and corridors are designed to be wider. Hansel Bauman, leader of the DeafSpace project is keen to take the idea further. To "design spaces more tightly around human behaviors and sensations, irrespective of specific abilities." He noted how easy it is for society to forget how humans physically and visually interact with our surroundings. "The design competition is an important first step in one of the most dramatic neighborhood revitalizations the District has seen in some time," Fred Weiner, assistant vice president of administration at Gallaudet and CEO of the Gallaudet University Foundation, said in a statement. "This integration into the surrounding community will allow for greater opportunities for our students, faculty and staff to engage with those that live and work alongside us, and for those outside the campus boundaries to better understand our culture and the deaf ways of being." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBBdQnni9Go  
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Developers get smart on the eventual redo of D.C.’s Brutalist J. Edgar Hoover Building

A long-standing fortress of state secrecy is under siege. The federal government is selling Washington, D.C.'s J. Edgar Hoover Building to a developer who, citizens hope, will turn the FBI's headquarters into a mixed use development. Designed by Charles F. Murphy and completed in 1975, the 2.8 million square foot Brutalist building is praised and reviled for all the reasons Brutalist buildings are praised and reviled. Despite its historical significance and because of $80 million in deferred maintenance, the building will likely be replaced with development that creates a more pedestrian-friendly streetscape. There are, however, massive bureaucratic hurdles to clear before the property can be developed. First, the congressionally-approved 1974 master plan must be revised s0 the site can be developed as a non-office building. However, the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation, the entity that created the plan, folded in 1996. Its responsibilities are now shared by the National Park Service, the General Services Administration (GSA), and National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC). The three agencies must agree on every step of the plan for it to move forward. When and if these master plan revisions are approved, the agencies can develop design guidelines for the site. The design guidelines must be adopted before developers can bid on the property because of a particular arrangement the federal government requires of this site. The GSA, the federal office responsible for securing land for a new complex, must offload underperforming assets (like the J. Edgar Hoover Building) before acquiring new ones. The developer will take a risk in buying this property because the exchange must occur before what can be built on the property is absolutely final. Finally, the developer's plans will go though the city's design review boards. Developers willing to endure a potentially Kafka-esque wait will be rewarded with prime land on the capital's most prestigious avenue.
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The White House is up for auction—or at least an old piece of it

Here's your chance to own a piece—a very small piece—of the actual White House. No large lobbyist pockets required. A relic from the presidential mansion will go up for auction at a live event later this month. The piece is an architectural ornament from the main hall of 1817 that President Madison rebuild after an 1814 fire. The wooden ornamental plinth was actually removed from the White House in 1902 during Theodore Roosevelt's renovation. It's part of an architectural ensemble forming the trim around a doorway and was used as a base, sitting at the bottom of the frame. Measuring approximately 14 x 30 x 4 inches, it was constructed using a pine base with pine moldings, cast composition ornaments, and hand-forged nails. In addition, it has 17 layers of paint of which three are gold leaf. From this evidence one can assume the that White House was repainted for each president, thus allowing the plinth to be representative of 17 terms of U.S. presidency. The auction will be hosted by RR in Boston later this month on Monday, September 28 at 1:00 PM EST.
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Architects design an interactive installation at the Smithsonian that calls for participants to overthrow dictators

Viva la revolución? A new interactive installation in Washington D.C. named Starry Heavens aims to use architecture for anarchy by unifying participants and encouraging them into carrying out collective acts of mobocracy. The brainchild of game designer Eric Zimmerman and architect Nathalie Pozzi, Starry Heavens is a quirky neo-political game (of sorts) which features a sleek white, snake-like form that sits above the participants. Below is a grid with black, grey and white interconnected bases, which if anything, is emulative of molecular lattice-like structure. According to The Creators Project, users have to stand on these bases and can only move when instructed to do so by a "central ruler," who is the only one allowed to talk. The aim of the game is for the players (who can join at any time) to overthrow the dictator. After meeting on Craigslist in 2008, Zimmerman and Pozzi have collaborated on similar projects prior to this one. In their first venture in 2009, they created BlockBall for the Come Out and Play festival. This isn't the first outing Starry Heavens has had either as the game in fact was initially designed for a MoMa event, exhibited in 2011. Speaking to The Creators Project, Pozzi explained why the exhibition space at the Smithsonian was a pulling factor. "For the installation at the Smithsonian, the white curve was very much a response to the physical space, we wanted to design a visually striking element that connected the play on the ground with the stunning Kogod Courtyard. The curve serves as a theatrical backdrop for the project and also as the 'heavens' of the title, Starry Heavens." The installation was fabricated by Erik van Dongen of Air Design Studio. Clara Ranenfir contributed to the design. Described by the pair as a "political fable" the installation seeks to use the physicality of the space to enliven themes of power and control, amplifying how this can shift via collaboration of the masses. "Starry Heavens tells an absurdist story of a pointless conflict. Players conspire with and against each other to overthrow a central Ruler, who commands where they can step. Whoever becomes the new Ruler takes over the nonsensical goal of trying to pull down a gigantic helium-filled balloon before they themselves get overthrown and replaced." "The way an architect structures space through material is very much like the way a game designer structures behavior through game rules," Zimmerman explains. "Perhaps architecture can learn to think of itself as a responsive discipline that reflects its environment and its users in a more honest and immediate way." The physicality of architecture in particular appeals to Zimmerman. "Maybe games can learn to be less disposable," he says. "I love the idea of designing a game that—like a building—is meant to last for decades or centuries."
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Study shows that Washington, D.C.’s bike-share program is reducing traffic congestion

Research by Casey J. Wichman for the think tank Resources for the Future (RFF) has found a causal relationship between bike sharing programs and traffic congestion in Washington, D.C. In a report summary by the RFF, "findings show a reduction in DC traffic congestion of an average two to three percent that can be attributed to the presence of a Capital Bikeshare dock." Wichman emphasizes the importance of such schemes noting its "health, environmental, and traffic congestion benefits." Another finding was that in areas adjacent to those with bike docks, traffic congestion actually increased. Wichman hypothesized that this might be the case due to drivers possibly opting "to avoid streets populated with cyclists." [h/t Planetizen.]