Posts tagged with "Winter":

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Just six logs keep this cafe warm and cozy in Buffalo, New York

Wintry Buffalo, New York is about the last place you might expect to find a building with no mechanical HVAC system. Yet that's where a pair of architects fired up their custom-designed masonry heater, also called a kachelofen, which warms a contemporary cafe space by burning just six logs per day—even through a record-breaking winter where the average temperature was just 22.8 degrees. Where possible, architects are increasingly ditching mechanical heating and cooling systems to cut carbon footprints and sometimes budgets. But frigid western New York is a tough climate to tackle without the benefits of modern mechanical heating. University at Buffalo architects Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafailidis, who run their own practice, pulled it off using a specially engineered masonry heater. Their kachelofen (pronounced KA-hell-oh-fen) is a wood stove that on a typical day slowly radiates the heat from a single, hour-long burn over the following 24 hours. A long, rectangular flue pipes smoke from the burn around a doubled-over, 30-foot loop, warming up as exhaust from the fire flows through. Charlotte Hsu from The University at Buffalo quotes Davidson:
“Very long horizontal flues are unusual because smoke wants to go up, so it’s very challenging to keep it from stagnating,” says Davidson, a UB clinical assistant professor of architecture. “Many of the masons we talked to said they couldn’t do a horizontal flue longer than 8 feet.”
Rochester, New York's Empire Masonry Heaters could, however. They helped the architects enliven the flue chamber, covering the refractory cement with patterned tiles reminiscent of an intricate mosaic. Their ornamental chamber doubles as a café bench. The kachelofen is known in North America simply as a masonry heater. While its winter-busting abilities are new to Buffalo, it is a centuries-old form of heating in Northern Europe. North America is “a fertile ground for new developments on masonry heater construction,” said the architects of the cheekily-dubbed Cafe Fargo. “It seems also with a widening consciousness about 'green' forms of heating, and rising heating costs, the good old masonry heater is grabbing peoples' interest,” they told AN. At only 880 square feet, their cafe is well-suited to the system. But Davidson and Rafailidis said masonry heating could work in larger spaces, too, but it might require several heaters to evenly heat multiple rooms. Wood-fired systems also need to be constantly monitored. Buffalo takes a degree of pride in its cold and snowy conditions, but if you've warmed up to the radiant heat of Cafe Fargo you may want to drop by—it's still looking for a tenant.
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Twin Cities architects will pay you $5,000 to take this piece of the Minneapolis skyway

Minneapolis architects CityDeskStudio are sitting on an iconic piece of Twin Cities infrastructure. Almost a decade ago they acquired a defunct chunk of the city's elevated pedestrian network, the Minneapolis Skyway. Years later they're still wondering what to do with it, which could be to your benefit if you're in the market for a 140-ton steel box designed by Ed Baker. You don't need deep pockets, either. In fact, they'll pay you $5,000 to haul it away. Built between 1962 and 1972, the skyway system comprises more than eight miles of enclosed footbridges criss-crossing downtown Minneapolis. Though urbanists sometimes blame it for sucking the air out of street life, the skyway system serves a vital function during long Minnesota winters. But this particular segment, which used to connect the J.C. Penney and Powers stores across South 5th Street, became defunct with the demolition of Powers more than a decade ago. Bob Ganser and Ben Awes of CityDeskStudio bought the 83-foot skyway segment in 2006, winning a blind auction from its previous owner, the University of Minnesota. As Jim Buchta writes for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, CityDeskStudio's attempt to unload the 1,380-square-foot structure has attracted some interesting proposals:
In 2009, CityDeskStudio posted an ad for the skyway on Craigslist, offering the 1,380-square-foot structure for $79,500. The ad went viral, but still no takers, so they dropped the price to $49,500. “We’ve had more proposals, inquiries and exciting conversations than we could count,” said Ganser. There were four or five serious possibilities, including converting the skyway into a rental retreat near Brainerd, a nonprofit career-training program in north Minneapolis and a rooftop studio space/artist loft in south Minneapolis. Some of the ideas weren’t so serious. Someone suggested a nightclub on wheels, and just last week the duo received a proposal to turn it into a “sweet-ass mobile deer stand, complete with repurposed tank track wheels and a gun turret,” Ganser said. “This idea included the use of our finder’s fee to pay for gas and ‘a bunch of coolers of Bud.’ ”
The structure now it sits on land leased by CityDeskStudio, instead of looming over 5th Street. Given its heft and sturdy engineering, it could be repurposed as a bridge. Previous plans to turn it into a Philip Johnsonesque modernist house received a lot of attention, but so far no takers. With a $5,000 incentive, perhaps the “skyway to nowhere” will finally go somewhere again.
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Second Hinterlands Proposal Poses Urban Snow as an Asset, Not a Nuisance

Now that we're well into this winter's snow season in New York and elsewhere, Chicago-based designers Natalya Egon and Noel Turgeon offer up some inspiration for alternative means of dealing with the wintery accumulation. The duo calls for an approach to snow clearance more deliberate in nature than the hastily-formed soot-grey masses so often seen lining city streets. Their Second Hinterlands project advocates reshaping snow over outright removal, treating the snow as a material that can be used in the creation of interactive landscapes within designated urban areas. The building blocks of the proposal are the various landscape-types that one could conceivably construct out of snow. Having generated these categories, Egon and Turgeon then situated these forms, either in isolation or combination, in a variety of urban contexts in order to create innovative winter environments. In the words of the designers, such installations blur the traditional boundary lines of neighborhoods as "the softscape of snow meets the hardscape of the city." The design was selected as the winning entry in this year's COLDSCAPES, an annual competition held by the Center for Outdoor Living. Fittingly known as COLD, the organization is an initiative of Kent State University's Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative. The two other winning submissions from this year's competition used slightly more conventional architectural materials in their plans for coping with cold urban climates.
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Walkin by a Winter Renzo Land

We've come to hate snow in the city, as it readily turns to gross, sock-soaking brown muck. But today, when we stumbled upon a scene straight out of Aspen, we were reminded just how beautiful and transformative the white stuff can be. Ducking into Muji for some last-minute holiday shopping on our way back from the Gehry theater press conference on 10th Avenue, we were delighted to find a mountain clearing where the courtyard of the Renzo Piano-designed Times building once was. From the birch trees to the unbesmirched snow, its the sort of sight you would struggle to find even in Central Park, let alone Midtown. Excuse us for getting sentimental—it must be the eggnog—but these are the sort of moments that remind us of the power and import of good architecture.