Posts tagged with "Washington D.C.":

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Last year a labyrinth, now a giant ball pit: National Building Museum hosts indoor beach in its Great Hall

The magnificent, four-story Great Hall of the National Building Museum is now a site for executing cannonballs, rolling on the floor laughing, and other acts of gleeful revelry. A giant ball pit filled with recyclable translucent plastic orbs cuts between the colossal Corinthian columns, bounded by an enclosure made from scaffolding, wooden panels, and perforated mesh all painted stark white. A mirrored wall at one end creates the illusion of an unending abyss of translucent orbs. Bordering the enclosure is a 50-foot “shoreline,” filled with umbrellas and monochromatic beach chairs for lounging in the sunshine that filters through the window-laden ceiling four stories above. Adults can recline on “dry” land with a book, play paddleball, or have a drink at the snack bar. The installation, titled The BEACH was dreamed up by Brooklyn-based design firm Snarkitecture, which bills it as “an exciting opportunity to create an architectural installation that reimagines the qualities and possibilities of material, encourages exploration and interaction with one’s surroundings, and offers an unexpected and memorable landscape for visitors to relax and socialize within.” The fun-fest is part of the National Building Museum’s ‘Summer Block Party’ series, which last year hosted Big Maze by the Bjarke Ingels Group. Visitors wandered through an 18 foot-high maple plywood structure inspired by ancient labyrinths, garden and hedge mazes of 17th and 18th-century Europe and modern American corn mazes.
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Scandalous no more: The Watergate Hotel post-$125 million renovation looks more classy and elegant than ever

As Washington, D.C.’s first “unapologetically luxurious” stomping ground for the rich and famous, The Watergate Hotel recently underwent a $125 million modernizing facelift. Inextricably connected with the Watergate scandal, the hotel has maintained its avant-garde design and curvaceous, classic elegance in a nod to its 1960s design by Italian architect Luigi Moretti. Moretti designed a series of curvilinear buildings made from reinforced concrete as a counterpoint to Washington's conformist neoclassical architecture. New York–based real estate developer Euro Capital Properties commissioned Ron Arad Architects to design the lobby, whisky bar, and restaurant, filling these spaces with custom-designed sculptural furnishings by the architect. “In its heyday, the Watergate Hotel was a playground for powerful people. My vision was to recreate that by celebrating [Luigi] Moretti’s original design and updating it with modern, luxurious details that guests and locals will value,” said Rakel Cohen, Vice President of Design & Development, Euro Capital Properties, in a statement. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the lobby frame views of the Potomac River, with the graded black granite ceiling and floors creating a floating sensation akin to Moretti’s inspiration of a boat sailing on the Potomac. Pops of color complement the sculptural metalwork and showstopping chandeliers, while a wall of hand-patinated brass tubes draws the eye toward the Potomac. Avoiding straight lines altogether, the 46 foot-long brass reception desk recalls the building’s signature curves. Meanwhile, twisted columns made from mirror-polished stainless steel tubes create distorted reflections. On June 16, 1972, four men rented two rooms in the Watergate Hotel and dined on lobster at the hotel restaurant. That same evening, they broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters on the sixth floor of the Watergate office, triggering the scandal that caused Nixon to resign two years later. Arad admits that the Watergate scandal was an irresistible lure for him when asked to come on board. “Working within such a significant period piece, you can’t ignore the context, but at the same time you don’t want to mimic it. Instead, you want to create something complementary, but most importantly, something new,” Arad said in a statement. “We have tried to enhance Moretti’s original curves using our own, while at the same time influencing the anticipated flow of people through the spaces. To honor Moretti, we introduced a brilliant Italian fabricator to the project as a way of completing the cycle,” Arad continued, referencing Italian furniture designer Moroso, which manufactured most of the hotel's sculptural furnishings. The lobby of the 377-room hotel features a new double-height space carved out of the original building, with casual and fine dining concepts under a black polished plaster ceiling with eight custom-made spiral chandeliers. The fine dining restaurant is wrapped by a red, curving banquette and decked with bespoke Watergate Chairs designed by Arad for Watergate Hotel and manufactured by Moroso.
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Washington, DC’s Architecture Week 2015 Starts April 23

  Think DC’s architecture begins and ends on the National Mall? Think again. The 17th annual Architecture Week starts on April 23 to give you a sneak peek into the buildings and attractions of Washington, DC! Organized by the Washington Chapter for the American Institute of Architects (AIA|DC), Architecture Week 2015 starts off with a LEGO Happy Hour on Thursday, April 23 and closes on Wednesday, April 29 with a discussion on “Why Architecture and Preservation Matter.” Architecture Week 2015 brings many occasions for people of all ages to learn about the city in exciting ways including tours, film screenings, children’s activities, and networking events. Get the chance to go behind the scenes and tour a Smithsonian construction site, a variety of historical landmarks and foreign embassies, and even a local DC brewery (also sample their beer)! Public events held throughout Washington, DC will be of interest to visitors and residents alike, architecture enthusiasts, children, and, of course, architects looking for exciting opportunities to earn learning units. With over 20 free and low cost events, there’s something for everyone during Architecture Week. View the calendar for more information and to register for events www.aiadc.com/architectureweek.
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Grimshaw & Beyer Blinder Belle to oversee 2nd phase of master plan for DC’s Union Station

Grimshaw and Beyer Blinder Belle have been tapped by Washington, D.C.'s Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC) to spearhead a master plan to spruce up the city's iconic train station. The "Master Development Plan for Union Station's 2nd Century" builds upon the hugely ambitious, $9 billion development plan that Amtrak and developer Akridge unveiled in 2012. As AN wrote at the time: "The 3-million-square-foot project promises to unite the neighborhoods of Capitol Hill and NoMa, a former industrial area transformed into a leafy residential neighborhood." Now, Grimshaw and Beyer Blinder Belle are tasked with making that vision (or something like it) a reality. To do so, the firms will be conducting a comprehensive planning process with public engagement and environmental assessment. They will also draw up conceptual designs to improve the passenger experience and overall functionality at the station. "The Master Development Plan for Union Station’s 2nd Century will respect and reinforce the station’s historic setting, while also integrating it with surrounding neighborhoods, and the construction of Burnham Place, a three-million-square-feet of mixed-use space, parks, and plazas to be developed over the rail yard," said the USRC, Amtrak, and Akridge in a statement. This master plan will actually be the second Union Station master plan that Grimshaw is currently overseeing. Last fall, the firm unveiled a very futuristic vision for Los Angeles' train station of the same name.
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This Week> Facades+AM Washington Three by Three

With its combination of iconic references to the nation's past and the machinery that drives our political present, Washington, DC presents a particular set of problems and possibilities to facades innovators. Top experts in high-performance building envelope design and construction will this gather this Thursday, March 5, to explore some of these issues during Facades+ AM: Washington Three by Three, a morning seminar taking place at the District Architecture Center. Facades+ AM is a quick-take variation on the popular Facades+ conference series. Over the course of the morning, three panels of three experts and one moderator each will take up questions concerning facade design and construction in the nation's capital. Session one, "Design Opportunities in a Blast Resistant World," moderated by Steve White, president of AIA DC, will consider how innovative designs can flourish despite security restrictions. Washington Post columnist and University of Maryland professor emeritus Roger Lewis will moderate session two, "Innovative Facades Come to Washington," highlighting cutting-edge facades in the DC area. Session three, "The New Face of Monumental Washington," moderated by Washington Architectural Foundation president Janet Bloomberg, will describe the role played high-performance building envelopes in both old and new monuments. Mark Strauss, senior partner at FXFOWLE, and AN's editor-in-chief William Menking will deliver opening and closing remarks. Seats are limited; register today for Facades+AM: Washington Three by Three. For more information, include a detailed agenda, visit the symposium website.
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LEGO Architecture honors the Great Emancipator with a miniature of the Lincoln Memorial

A miniature LEGO model of the Lincoln Memorial has just launched under the LEGO Architecture brand, a “Lego for grownups” product line that celebrates architecture and the chameleon capabilities of the LEGO brick. Featuring recreations of landmark buildings such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Sydney Opera House and Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the latest set honors the memorial completed in May 30, 1922 in homage to the 16th president of the United States. The final cost of the memorial approached $3 million, although just $2 million had been initially allocated. Despite not being immediately apparent to the naked eye, the building’s columns and exterior walls are slightly inclined toward the interior to compensate for visual perspective distortions that would make the building appear to bulge at the top. Honoring the 57th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination, the memorial designed by Henry Bacon resembles a Greek temple, with 36 fluted Doric columns to represent the number of recognized states at the time of Lincoln's death. Visible from the outside is the famous oversize statue by Daniel Chester French, with Lincoln’s left hand clenched to symbolize strength and determination and his right palm open in a show of charity and compassion. While the LEGO model measures a mere two inches tall, 4 inches wide, and 3 inches deep, it has an easily removable roof for viewing the statue inside. Aspiring towards a true-to-life remake, the model includes the steps leading up to the building from the reflecting pool. The set includes a sorely-needed plastic brick separator for detaching those notoriously clingy flat bricks, as well as a 65-page instruction manual.
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With some help from Gensler, ASLA to turn its headquarters into the Center for Landscape Architecture

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has tapped Gensler and landscape architecture firm Oehme van Sweden to turn its Washington, D.C. headquarters into the state-of-the-art Center for Landscape Architecture. ASLA bought its 12,000-square-foot home in 1997 for $2.4 million and watched as its value increased to $6.9 million. Since the building was about ready for some fixing up, the society decided it was a good time to go ahead and truly transform it at a cost of $4 million. The building’s existing facade is set to be altered so that the new center is more inviting to passers-by. Inside, the building will be reconfigured to create rooms for meetings and events, exhibitions, a catering kitchen, and restrooms. An existing enclosed double staircase will also be opened to create a three-story atrium that can be dressed up with elements of landscape architecture. The renovation has something for ASLA’s current (and future) employees as well. The new space comes with an upgraded kitchen and restrooms, new conference rooms and administrative space, and even a “wellness room” and “focus rooms." Gensler is aiming for LEED Platinum designation with the renovation. “This is an opportunity to create a facility to reflect the image and ethic of our profession—a world-class Center for Landscape Architecture that will inspire and engage our staff, our membership, allied professionals, public officials and the general public,” said Mark A. Focht, the immediate past president of ASLA, in a statement. ASLA's board of trustees unanimously approved the plan in November and funding is already a third of the way there. Construction is slated to start this fall.
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Los Angeles and San Francisco make bids to host the 2024 Olympic Games

After hosting the Olympic Games in 1932 and 1984, Los Angeles is in the hunt to be the Unites States' candidate to host them again in 2024. Earlier this week the city made a presentation to the U.S. Olympic Committee, followed by pitches from Boston, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. According to Inside The Games, a website dedicated to Olympic news, LA's proposal would be heavy on existing facilities, cutting down on costs so much that Mayor Eric Garcetti called it the "most affordable" of any U.S. proposal. The games would once again focus on the LA Memorial Coliseum (which would be substantially renovated), and surrounding Exposition Park, both just south of USC. Other significant venues would include Staples Center, the Nokia Theater, Griffith Observatory, the Queen Mary, and even Walt Disney Concert Hall. According to Inside The Games, the bid shows off LA's ongoing transit expansion, with officials claiming that 80 per cent of spectators will be connected to venues by public transport. San Francisco proposed a $4.5 billion, privately financed plan that would also focus on existing, or already-planned facilities. According to the SF Chronicle they would include newly-completed Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, several waterfront piers, and the Golden State Warriors' upcoming arena in Mission Bay. A temporary stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies in Brisbane, south of San Francisco, would be removed after the games, and the Olympic Village would be contained in 2,000 units of housing already approved as the fourth phase of development at the Hunters Point shipyard. “We’re not going to be building white elephants in our city or anyplace in our region,” San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee told the Chronicle. The USOC is expected to decide on an entry city by early next year, and the International Olympic Committee is expected to choose the 2024 host city in 2017. The U.S. has not hosted a Summer Olympics since the 1996 Games in Atlanta. The last U.S. city to host the Winter Olympics was Salt Lake City, in 2002.
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Night at the Museum II: Bjarke Ingels to re-imagine National Building Museum for new exhibition

The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) is returning to the National Building Museum shortly after its hugely-popular, and highly-traversed maze installation in the building's Grand Hall. This January, the museum will present what is essentially a retrospective on BIG's work called HOT TO COLD: an odyssey of architectural adaptation. According to the National Building Museum, the exhibition “takes visitors from the hottest to the coldest parts of our planet and explores how BIG´s design solutions are shaped by their cultural and climatic contexts." For the exhibition, the museum will suspend 60 three-dimensional models of BIG's work and premier Iwan Baan photographs of some of BIG’s latest projects. “What's so special about HOT TO COLD is that BIG has perceived the National Building Museum more as a site for a project, rather than as a venue for an exhibition,” curator Susan Piedmont-Palladino said in a statement.
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Pictorial> BIG’s Smithsonian Master Plan Revealed

As AN reported today, the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has unveiled its master plan master plan for the Smithsonian Institute's south campus in Washington D.C. The $2 billion plan would transform multiple cultural destinations with new systems and facilities, and create a dramatic new public space. While the project isn't expected to be fully implemented until 2041, you can scroll through the gallery below to get a sense of what the Smithsonian and BIG have planned. Learn more about BIG's plans over here.
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Cambridge Architectural’s Steel-Wrapped Embassy

Metal mesh bridges old and new in Davis Brody Bond renovation.

For their renovation and expansion of the South African Embassy in Washington, DC, Davis Brody Bond faced an unusual aesthetic challenge. Besides updating the two historic buildings housing the embassy's offices and residence, they were tasked with building a new atrium for public welcoming, public events, and conference rooms—right in between the two older buildings. The architects turned to Cambridge Architectural, a Maryland manufacturer of wire mesh architectural systems. "Davis Brody Bond wanted to have this new building as a very contemporary element between the two limestone buildings," said Cambridge Architectural's Ann Smith. A wire mesh facade seemed a perfect solution to the problem of combining old and new, seamlessly bridging the two masonry structures, and providing crucial sun shading for the glass atrium. The designers selected Cambridge Architectural's Shade mesh, a stainless steel weave of triangular elements with an open area of 54 percent. "Shade was chosen specifically to reduce the sun coming in, and the glare, because there are conference rooms in that front area," explained Smith. "But they still wanted to maintain the views." Shade is also a flexible, almost fabric-like mesh. "The architects really wanted to see it as one continuous piece," said Smith. "Our flexible materials lend well to that. We're able to tension them without tying back to the structure as often."
  • Facade Manufacturer Cambridge Architectural
  • Architects Davis Brody Bond
  • Facade Installer Cambridge Architectural
  • Location Washington, DC
  • Date of Completion January 2014
  • System flexible stainless steel mesh screen with custom steel attachments
  • Products Cambridge Architectural Shade mesh, customized Cambridge Scroll attachments
The mesh facade turns three times as it wraps around the top and front of the atrium, twice around the parapet, and once again above the recessed entry. To modulate the tension on the screen, Cambridge Architectural developed a custom attachment system based on their Cambridge Scroll attachment series. "We changed the original concept a number of times," said engineering manager Jim Mitchell. "One of the challenges was that when you first walk in, the mesh runs overhead. We had to put more supports in there, more of our tension brackets to keep it looking horizontal, and to keep the tension as it turned." In this case, that meant locating additional attachment areas on the building and adding steel mounts for the Cambridge Scroll hardware. Cambridge Architectural also worked with Davis Brody Bond on a custom window-washing apparatus. The mesh team mounted the screen further off the glass than was standard, to allow room for a hook-and-pulley system designed by the architects. Davis Brody Bond also modified the window design to make for easier cleaning. Inside the entry, Cambridge Architectural installed frames of rigid mesh to echo the exterior facade while allowing access to HVAC equipment. By partnering with Cambridge Architectural on the South African Embassy project, Davis Brody Bond solved two problems at once. They marked their expansion as clearly contemporary without upstaging either the older buildings or the iconic Nelson Mandela statue out front, and they also made building a south-facing glass atrium possible. "It was a perfect combination of a transparent material that could also shade, and a stainless steel material that was very modern," said brand manager Gary Compton. "When you're inside that space, it makes for a nice welcoming, open area."
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New report predicts huge spike in tidal flooding for coastal communities

It had been a few days—maybe even weeks—since we’d seen a new report about the devastating impacts of climate change, but, as expected, that short streak has ended. The latest end-of-the-world-type report comes from the Union of Concerned Scientists, and let’s just say there’s a reason these scientists are so concerned. Their report, Encroaching Tides, found that the frequency of tidal floods in coastal areas will increase dramatically over the next 15 to 30 years. In some areas, that could mean flooding more than once a week. And it gets worse down the road. According to the report, in 2045, Philadelphia could experience over 200 tidal floods a year, Miami could have 250, and Washington, D.C. could reach 400. For context, D.C. currently has around 50 tidal floods a year. The report presents four key strategies for cities to boost their resiliency: upgrade at-risk infrastructure, stop building in vulnerable areas, consider benefits and risks of adaptation measures, and to develop a long-term vision. [h/t CityLab]