This year's Art Basel/Design Miami was a wash. The tallest stilettos could not save feet from floodwaters that inundated streets and forced partygoers under small tents. Even when it's not raining, water bubbles up through stormwater grates and sewers, a result of the city's porous limestone bedrock. Miami Beach is a barrier island that is routinely battered by hurricanes and floods. With global warming, the bad floods will only get worse. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NASA, and NOAA predict sea level rise between eight inches and six feet by 2100. For these reasons, Harvard GSD's newly established Design Office for Urbanization selected Miami Beach as its first focus site. Though unaffiliated with Harvard, a recent Florida architecture grad would make a great contribution to the program. Designer Isaac Stein, at West 8's New York office, envisions a solution for incorporating rising seas into Miami Beach's urban design, Vanity Fair reports. While completing an undergraduate degree in architecture at the University of Miami, Stein drafted a plan for a mangrove forest, raised buildings, canals, and other design interventions that will bend to, not fight, the rising seas. The plan focuses on South Beach proper, from 5th to 15th Streets. One of Miami Beach's main thoroughfares, Alton Road, would be raised on stilts to accomodate floodwater. Trams would replace cars, and bike lanes would be installed along Washington Avenue, roughly parallel to and a few blocks inland from the Atlantic. Historically, Miami Beach's western (bay) side was lined with mangroves. Stein's plan restores the mangrove forest to provide a natural buffer against rising water. Canals would be cut in the medians Michigan, Jefferson, and Lenox Avenues. The resulting fill could be used to raise buildings and roads 1.5 feet above grade, would safeguard the city against six feet of sea level rise.
Posts tagged with "West 8":
For years, Engels Plein, an "English Square" on the perimeter of Leuven, Belgium, has been dominated by viaducts overhead, making the square poorly accessible, dark, unsafe, and, consequently, rundown. To better connect the surrounding homes and commercial spaces, West 8 transformed the industrial space into an outdoor lounge with multiple terraces that encourage people to live, shop, and work in the area. Leuven, previously an industrial city, is now a center of architectural development and renovation. West 8 won the “negotiated procedure” for Engels Plein in 2010, with a proposal to move the roadway under the viaduct and set-up green zones. The landscape architecture firm worked with BAS, Snoeck en partners, Tritel, ERM, and Betonac on the transformation. Since the square opened in October, its design has demonstrated a new sense of urban-ness with a stronger feeling of security. Engels Plein houses 65 trees, some up to 50 feet tall, giving the square tranquil character and leading drivers through a landscape. Although aesthetically popular, this greenery was actually planted to combat pollution and avoid excess stormwater runoff. Other additions include roundabouts, a decking structure, and concrete edging. The square has an elevator which connects to Keizersberg, a public park with hiking and recreation. New bus routes and cycling and pedestrian paths connect Engels Plein to the railway station and city center. “An attractive district will emerge where living, working and production function in a healthy balance,” West 8 said in a statement.
BIG news for downtown Pittsburgh: New York–based Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), West 8 Landscape Architects, and Atelier Ten were tapped by private developers McCormack Baron Salazar and the Pittsburgh Penguins to create a master plan for 28 acres in Pittsburgh's Lower Hill District. Today, those plans were unveiled. The plan will redevelop public space around the erstwhile Civic Arena, build a new public space across from the Consol Energy Center, and dialogue with the city's vertiginous topography to create bike and pedestrian paths that connect the Hill District with Uptown and Downtown. In all, the New Lower Hill Master Plan calls for 1.2 million square feet of residential construction as well as 1.25 million square feet of retail and commercial space. The project is expected to break ground in 2016 and cost an estimated $500 million. “The master plan for the Lower Hill District is created by supplementing the existing street grid with a new network of parks and paths shaped to optimize the sloping hill side for human accessibility for all generations," Bjarke Ingels, BIG's founding partner, explained in a statement. "The paths are turned and twisted to always find a gentle sloping path leading pedestrians and bicyclists comfortably up and down the hillside. The resulting urban fabric combines a green network of effortless circulation with a quirky character reminiscent of a historical downtown. Topography and accessibility merging to create a unique new part of Pittsburgh." Landscape architects West 8 designed terraced parks and walkways informed by granite outcroppings characteristic of the surrounding Allegheny Mountains. Engineers and environmental design consultants at Atelier Ten developed sustainability guidelines that will encourage district heating and cooling, as well a stormwater retention for on-site irrigation. See the gallery for more master plan images and schematic diagrams.
Standing near the top of Outlook Hill, Leslie Koch, president of The Trust for Governors Island, explained the reason for commissioning four huge earth mounds on an island in the middle of New York Harbor. "Most New Yorkers don't experience that fancy view [of the skyline]. You don't get to see the city on high from the city that created views." The Hills, part of a $220 million renovation of Governors Island, do create new ways of viewing the city and its surroundings. Landscape architecture firm West 8 was selected in 2007 to produce a master plan for Governors Island that included redesigns of the entire former military facility. Construction of the Hills began in 2013. Design was preceded by extensive on-site observation: the design team, led by Adriaan Geuze and Jamie Maslyn, spent hundreds of hours observing how visitors used the space. Maslyn noted that, for example, adults were using the swing sets intended for children. Discovery and play, consequently, are two themes that predominate in the realized design. To get to the site, visitors pass through a 40 acre welcome area. The space is meant for slow-paced leisure: reading, napping in hammocks, meandering through flower beds. The topography here creates a threshold for the rest of the site. Approached from the welcome area, the four hills rise smoothly from the level base of the island. Bright white concrete edging, to Geuze, "paints the topography more dramatically" and differentiates between fast and slow spaces. There is no main, or suggested, path to approach the hills. The paths fork in equally appealing directions, affording glimpses of the Statue of Liberty, lower Manhattan, or the Verrazano, depending on which way one turns. The hills obscure and reveal these sites gently, manipulating the horizon dramatically while accommodating a range of programs. Ranging in height from 25 to 70 feet, the names of the hills—Outlook, Slide, Discovery, and Grassy—correspond with their most salient feature. "Each of the hills," Koch noted, "embodies one of the attributes New Yorkers love about the island." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK7Xay5JQoY A zigzag path takes visitors up to the apex of Outlook Hill, 70 feet above ground. The vantage point afforded by the new topography allows visitors to see, standing still, the East and Hudson Rivers, Buttermilk Channel, New York Harbor, and the mouth of the Atlantic. The design team was intent upon creating a way for people of all ages and abilities to experience this view. All of the paved paths are at a maximum 4.5 percent slope: ADA compliant and wheelchair friendly. Granite blocks, harvested from the island's 1905 sea wall, create scrambles up the hillside to engage young people (or adventurous adults). Adjacent Slide Hill (40 feet high) will feature elements of pure play: four long slides. Discovery Hill (40 feet) will host a permanent installation by sculptor Rachel Whiteread, while Grassy Hill (25 feet) will be a place to relax on a sloping lawn. Governors Island's exposed location makes it vulnerable to the effects of both normal and extreme weather. To prevent the hills from shifting, settlement plates were planted at the base of the hills to measure changes in elevation. Molly Bourne, principal at Mathews Nielsen, vetted plants on their ability to withstand salt spray and high winds. Sumac and oak trees (around 860), as well as 43,000 maritime shrubs, will adapt to harsh conditions on the island. Storm resiliency is an integral feature of the design. Post-Sandy, 2.2 miles of sea wall, erected in 1905, were replaced in 2014 by a more modern fortification. Some of the pieces were repurposed as infill, along with an imploded building and a parking lot on the site of the Hills. In all, 25 percent of the fill is from the island, while the rest of was delivered via barge down the Hudson. While the Hills' official public opening is set for 2017, the site is open for previews on September 26th and 27th. Details here.
This month, Adriaan Visser of Rotterdam's city council and Adriaan Geuze, principal of landscape architecture firm West 8, unveiled a new plan for the municipality's 0.6 mile long Coolsingel. The streetscape aims to restore the allure of the 19th century boulevard which once defined the area. Boasting a new green esplanade with natural stone paving, the street will have a two-way bike path that is expected to liven up the space which is currently dominated by cars. Officials reiterated that West 8 in tandem with local authorities hope to make the boulevard into a place that is comfortable for both pedestrians and cyclists. They added at one day Coolsingel could become the new heart of downtown Rotterdam. West 8 described its proposal as a place for "all seasons." Utilizing a pre-existing green space, the Rotterdam- and New York–based firm calls for an environment that will be "framed by trees, terraces and pleasant seating areas." Changes to the Coolsingel are part of a wider scheme called the Binnenstad als City Lounge program (literally, the City Center as a City Lounge) that intends to kick-start developments in the city to make it "more lively and attractive." In what is becoming quite a trend, streetscape projects that aim to prioritize pedestrians and cyclists are cropping up more and more as architects and cities notice the importance of place making. Recently, six United States–based placemaking organizations were awarded $3 million each to develop their respective cities. Other pedestrian-first projects of note include Danish firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)'s Superkilen, which added a splash of color to Copenhagen's streets with its street-turned-park-turned-museum. Like Rotterdam, Mexico City is also set for a environmental injection as Fernando Romero, principal at FR-EE, just revealed plans earlier this summer for a green street in the capital city's Avenida Chapultepec.
After nine years, MVRDV reclaims architecture’s coveted ArchiCup, beating Mecanoo, West 8, OMA, and others an the annual soccer matchup
After a seemingly never ending nine-year wait, Dutch architecture firm MVRDV finally reclaimed the ArchiCup in Rotterdam after a contentious soccer matchup. https://vimeo.com/139137485 Organized by GROUPA and Bekkering Adams Architects the competition was hosted at the Henegouwerplein in Rotterdam. Despite the questionable playing surface, MVRDV reigned victorious over bitter rivals Power House Company causing scenes of jubilation as they launched their captain into the air. Other teams included Broek Bakema, De Zwarte Hond, Hoogstad, Groosman, KCAP, Mecanoo, Nov '82, OMA, West 8, ZUS and RAVB.
After more than a decade of planning and three years of construction, Queens Quay in Toronto has been turned into a veritable urbanist's dreamscape on the waterfront. Four lanes of traffic have been reduced to two making room for a separated bike path, separated light rail, benches, thousands of new trees, and extra-wide pedestrian promenades with pavers set into maple leaf patterns. https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=54&v=gIv4dCDfIlc In 2006, West 8 and local firm DTAH, won an international design competition led by Waterfront Toronto to fully reimagine the area. "Once uninviting, the opening of the new world-class Queens Quay, links major destinations along the water’s edge creating a public realm that is pedestrian and cycling-friendly," said West 8 on its website. "It offers a grand civic meeting place and an environment conducive to economic vitality and ground floor retail activity." (In April, West 8 won another Waterfront Toronto competition to reimagine the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Harbour Square Park.) In the video above, West 8 explains the massive undertaking, which included significant infrastructure upgrades below the new public amenities. While the long-awaited revitalized Queens Quay has been celebrated and enjoyed by pedestrians and cyclists, the new configuration (notably the reduction of traffic lanes) has been confusing, and frustrating, some Toronto drivers. This learning curve should straighten out soon, though, as the Toronto Star reported that new signs and street markings are on the way to clear up any questions about who and what goes where. Check out the video below, as Toronto Star reporter Stephen Spencer Davis bikes along the Queens Quay.
This abandoned rail corridor in Singapore will soon be a nationwide linear park, and these firms are competing to design it
Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has shortlisted five winning design firms for an RFP to overhaul the Singapore Rail Corridor. Defunct since 2011 and once a prominent Singapore–Malaysia trade route, the railway spans the entire country from north to south starting at the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station to the Woodlands Checkpoint. A competition launched by the URA requested proposals to transform the 15-mile stretch into a public greenway connecting four important urban nodes: Buona Vista, the Bukit Timah Railway Station area, former Bukit Timah Fire Station, and Kranji. The five shortlisted design teams are as follows:
- West 8 and DP Architects
- Grant Associates and MVRDV with Architects 61
- Turenscape International and MKPL Architects
- Nikken Sekkei with Tierra Design
- OLIN Partnership and OMA Asia with DP Architects
Hey Torontonians, your city’s waterfront might be getting a pretty exciting makeover dubbed a "great green living room for the city." The City of Toronto and Waterfront Toronto have announced that a proposal from West 8, KPMB Architects, and Greenberg Consultants has won its competition to reimagine the dated Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and adjacent Harbour Square Park. In the winning design, named “Harbour Landing,” there is a new terminal with two pavilions set underneath an undulating wood canopy. The whole thing is topped with a rolling, green occupiable roof. The new structure, along with the adjacent park and revamped promenade, are intended to be used year-round and serve as an iconic gateway for the city. “The Jury was impressed by the design balance achieved between a new heavily landscaped Civic Park, an elegant, iconic Ferry Terminal whose naturalistic form echoes the landscape topography and an overarching plan which makes strong connections to the emerging public realm of the waterfront," said jury chair Donald Schmitt in a statement. Of course, the bold design is just the start of what will be a long process. According to the National Post, “Now that a design has been selected, both the board and the City of Toronto must approve it. Designers will then sit down and develop a master plan, which will sketch out the redevelopment in phases. Each one will come with its own price tag.” Currently, $800,000 has been secured for the first phase of the project which is slated to break ground next year. The project’s boosters in Toronto want to see the entire thing completed with 10 years.
The Rotterdam and New York City–based West 8 has unveiled plans for a botanic garden in Doha, Qatar to feature plants mentioned in the Qur’an. According to the firm, the Qur’anic Botanic Garden project will break ground this year, roughly five years after the idea for the project was proposed by UNESCO. "The experience through the Qur’anic Botanic Garden represents a Journey of Life; from birth to death and back to the beginning," said West 8 in a statement. "The journey starts with water and progresses through the gardens which display a rich botanical diversity." Visitors enter the new gardens via two long ramps that descend to what is being called a "water patio." From there, they can head to a reception area or the Garden of Reflection, a lush circular courtyard centered around a small pond. This garden then connects to a sequence of five others gardens throughout the complex, which is surrounded by 370 Date Palms.
The Miami Beach Design Review Board has unanimously approved the scaled-back renovation of the city’s convention center. The $500 million project is being led by Fentress Architects with Arquitectonica covering the structure’s facade, and West 8 overseeing landscape design. As AN wrote last month, despite the center's rippling aluminum exterior, the overall plan doesn't quite pack the punch of the more dramatic (and more expensive) one drawn up by Rem Koolhaas. That plan came out of the epic head-to-head matchup between Koolhaas and his former student, Bjarke Ingels. Koolhaas ultimately won, but the design was scrapped, so here we are. With the new plan set to move forward, we are getting a better sense of the development, especially of West 8's contribution: 12 acres of open space. In a statement, the firm explained that "the Convention Center’s existing 5.8 acre truck staging and parking lot is transformed into a new world-class public park with a plant palette that showcases the unique flora and botany of Miami Beach, and provides flexible lawn areas.” The plan also includes the Park Pavilion which has indoor/outdoor dining areas set underneath tall “concrete umbrellas.” The pavilion connects to a 3.5-acre park and a veteran's memorial that's also incorporated onto the site. Other components of the open space include a butterfly garden, ballroom terrace, and “bike-friendly pathway. The convention center is expected to break ground in December 2015 and open two years later. The park is slated to be ready in 2018. [h/t Curbed Miami]
Remember that exciting design competition between Bjarke Ingels and Rem Koolhaas to revamp the Miami Beach Convention Center? Remember those two bold plans, all of those exciting renderings, and the official announcement that Koolhaas had won the commission? And then remember when the Miami Beach mayor said no to the whole thing and Arquitectonica was tapped for a less-expensive renovation? Well, now there's a new milestone in the convention center soap opera. That last part played out this summer and, a few months later, we know what the more fiscally-conservative plan will look like. Frankly, it looks more fiscally conservative. Curbed Miami, which is no fan of the new design, reported that Arquitectonica is doing the exteriors, Denver-based Fentress Architects is covering the interiors, and West 8 is overseeing landscape design. Overall, Curbed calls the new plan "more evolution than revolution." The most striking aspect of the $500 million design is the rippling aluminum facade that is made of fins and louvers and is attached onto the existing structure. The site also includes a cafe, a lawn, a nearly two-acre park along the Collins Canal, and a Veterans Memorial. Inside the convention center, Fentress is renovating the 500,000-square-foot exhibit hall and the 200,000 square feet of meeting space, and creating a new 80,000-square-foot ballroom. The Miami Herald reported that a design-build firm will be selected by the city in November, and that if everything moves forward, groundbreaking could happen after Art Basel next year with the center opening in 2017.