Posts tagged with "WXY":

Placeholder Alt Text

What do architects want from a Green New Deal?

As the scale of climate change has accelerated and grown direr in recent months, upstart politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York have made addressing the issue a central part of their political platforms. Talk of a Green New Deal (GND) has picked up since November's elections, reflecting a major shift in how Americans discuss climate change. But what is the Green New Deal and how might it impact architects?

The impetus behind the GND is simple: Because the threat of anthropogenic climate change is so fundamental, only a government-led, war-like industrial and economic mass mobilization effort can potentially transform American society quickly and thoroughly enough to avoid global catastrophe.

There are plans to unveil the first round of draft legislation at the federal level this week, but as of yet, no official set of policies has been agreed upon by legislators and activists. But various elements of a supposed GND have been touted for years (see here and here for thorough explainers).

Generally speaking, GND proponents have three specific and wide-ranging goals:

First, activists are calling for the wholesale decarbonization of the U.S. economy. That means eliminating all carbon emissions across every industry in the country, including in vital sectors like energy production, building design, construction, and transportation.

Second, this transition would include a federal jobs guarantee backed by the large-scale deployment of new public works projects. A job guarantee, which, generally speaking, would provide anyone who wanted work with some form of federal employment, would allow people currently working in carbon-intensive industries to leave their jobs for publicly-funded green-collar work. The guarantee, supporters argue, would create a vast, fairly-paid workforce that could get to work transforming American society right away.

Third, activists pushing the GND generally agree that the transition to a carbon-free economy must incorporate socially-just practices that rectify past practices that have exploited certain communities. Such reforms include finding ways to house people displaced by climate change, countering the long-term effects of redlining and the racial wealth gap, and making sure that unlike the original New Deal, the benefits and jobs created by any GND are enjoyed by people of color and other historically marginalized groups.

The initiative would go beyond simply greening the country's energy grid or incentivizing a shift to public transit and electric vehicles; the GND envisions a top-to-bottom reworking of the U.S. economy. Likely, the effort will involve densifying existing cities, building new ones from scratch, and perhaps most importantly, retrofitting and upgrading nearly all of the country’s existing building stock. Architects will be vital to the effort and are likely to benefit from a potential GND through new commissions and opportunities to provide input and expertise across a range of projects and scales.

In an effort to help spur discussion among architects on a potential plan, The Architect’s Newspaper asked designers from around the country to share their wish lists for what a potential GND might include. The responses span a range of issues that touch on the built environment, project financing, building codes, and environmental regulation, among other topics.

For some, creating incentives to reuse and retrofit existing buildings could be a key component of the deal. Karin Liljegren, principal at Omgivning in Los Angeles said, “I’d like to see how legislators can reassert the importance of the federal government’s Historic Tax Credit Program (HTC). The HTC incentivizes developers to rehabilitate iconic and viable old buildings, but it has recently been under threat after decades of stability. Enshrining these incentives in the legislation would send a massive signal to clients like ours.”

But, of course, focusing only on the most iconic historic structures would likely send many buildings to the trash heap. To address “less iconic structures or ones that require an approach that is more adaptive than restorative,” Liljegren suggested “a program of economic incentives that helps developers prioritize the broader reuse of existing buildings. Reusing a structure can certainly be more challenging than building new, but the payoffs are enormous—less embodied energy and waste is only the beginning. In terms of texture, form, and spirit, existing buildings enrich our identities and communities.”

For other architects, increasing the scope of public transportation options in parallel with boosting density is the way forward. Vishaan Chakrabarti, founder of PAU in New York City, said, “A Green New Deal should include what I called the 'American Smart Infrastructure Act' in my 2013 book A Country of Cities. In that proposal, I call for the elimination of existing subsidies that encourage sprawl like highway funding, the mortgage interest deduction, and low gas taxes.” Chakrabarti argued for applying this new revenue toward building a national high-speed rail and urban mass transit network that can serve new investments in affordable transit-oriented multi-family housing and low-cost office space. The funding, however, “should only go to municipalities that discourage single-family housing density, like Minneapolis recently did,” Chakrabarti added.

Of course, the overarching network of regulatory policies, like environmental, structural, energy, and seismic codes, that shape the built environment could be improved, as well.

Anica Landreneau, director of sustainable design for HOK in Washington, D.C., pointed to the recently-adopted Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act, which she helped craft, as a potential guide for creating a “self-improving threshold” that requires building owners to retrofit existing structures above a certain size according to rigorous energy performance standards. The plan, set to take effect in 2020, seeks to align the energy performance of existing buildings with the steadily-increasing performance metrics crafted for new structures, like LEED certification and Energy Star ratings. The plan will peg the performance standards for existing buildings to the median Energy Star score for all buildings of the same type in the District of Columbia. As the overall energy efficiency of buildings in the District improves over time, the thinking goes, periodic post-occupancy reviews will help create a self-improving target that will compel building owners to upgrade their structures to avoid fines.

In addition to improving incentive programs like the HTC, changes to the way projects are financed more broadly could also help bring to life many of the GND's transformative new projects.

Claire Weisz, principal at WXY in New York City suggested the government “require banks to invest a required minimum 40 percent of their loans in building construction and projects that have sustainable longer-term benefits and proven investments in training and hiring for green jobs.”

David Baker, principal of David Baker Architects in San Francisco, advocated for increased funding for affordable and urban housing projects overall. Baker said, “A major limiting factor on beginning to solve our affordable housing crisis—and the associated climate impacts—is simply money. We have many affordable projects ready to go but currently delayed by a lack of funding.”

Peggy Deamer of The Architecture Lobby wants to make sure that the rights of workers—and the right to work, in general—are not left out of the conversation amid talk of green infrastructure and shiny, new projects. Deamer said, “It is too monothematic to go after environmental solutions without the larger economic structure into which both the effort unfolds or the new carbon-free world functions. If the tech industry’s effort at automation leaves most of us without work or income, who wants to live in that green world?”

In conversations with architects, the issue of affordable urban housing came up often, especially in relation to the stated aims of the GND’s main backers, which include increasing social equity through the program. Because America’s urban areas contain 85 percent of the country’s population and are responsible for 80 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, it is likely that the GND’s effects will be most profoundly felt in cities.

That’s important for architects concerned with racial and social equity in the field. With a rising cohort of diverse young designers—as well as many established firms helmed by women and people of color— it’s possible a potential GND could engender a surge of important projects helmed by diverse practitioners. That possibility, when coupled with the existing diversity of urban residents and potential clients, could transform how architecture is practiced across the country.

It’s a realm where Kimberly Dowdell, president of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), thinks her organization can have an impact. “Black architects have a unique opportunity to take the lead in shaping the future,” Dowdell said. “In under-resourced urban communities, which are often majority Black, there is a great need for a new approach to design and development that fully embraces the quadruple bottom line: social, cultural, environmental, and financial.” Dowdell added, “NOMA members have been doing this kind of work for generations. Now, with the Green New Deal, this experience is especially relevant.”

With a “quadruple bottom line” approach at the center of a potential GND, professional architecture organizations pushing for increased equity among their ranks, and demographic trends leading to greater diversity, the architectural profession is poised for significant change that could be accelerated by a GND.

As the potential changes begin to take form, inclusion will likely remain a top priority for designers. Dowdell explains: “In general, everyone needs to have a seat at the decision-making table as it relates to shaping our collective future on this planet. With such a high concentration of minorities in cities, it is absolutely critical that a truly diverse set of minds and voices are empowered to implement the best of the Green New Deal.”

Placeholder Alt Text

2018 Best of Design Awards winners for Unbuilt – Urban

2018 Best of Design Award winner for Unbuilt – Urban: Whitmore Community Food Hub Complex Designer: University of Arkansas Community Design Center Location: Wahiawa, Hawaii More than 93 percent of Hawaii’s food is imported. Such a fact is alarming considering that Hawaii is the most remote inhabited land mass on Earth. Local grocers have a five-day turnaround period of food sourced from global supply chains. The proposed Whitmore Community Food Hub Complex project by the University of Arkansas Community Design Center will not be a typical farmer’s market. The 34-acre complex, made from tilt-wall concrete construction, will serve the island of Oahu by introducing the agricultural infrastructure necessary for community-based food production. Integrated logistical areas will be accompanied by public spaces for the surrounding neighborhoods and for visiting tourists. The site will feature a direct link to downtown Wahiawa. Honorable Mention Project name: The Hydroelectric Canal Designer: Paul Lukez Architecture Location: Boston Honorable Mention Project name: Brooklyn Navy Yard Master Plan Designer: WXY Location: Brooklyn, New York
Placeholder Alt Text

The Brooklyn Navy Yard goes vertical for the next phase of its life

After the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC) revealed a $2.5-billion expansion plan for the Yard in January of this year, it became clear that, with all of the existing buildings renovated, the only place left to go was up. Now, the BNYDC has released a slew of renderings from the Yard’s master planners, WXY, and a guide to development in the waterfront campus for the next 30 years. How will the Yard add an additional 5.1 million square feet of floor space to the already built-out campus? The BNYDC will be building on three available sites along Flushing Avenue, Navy Street, and Kent Avenue, and to accommodate the wide, open spaces that industrial manufacturers require, will be leaning into a strategy of “vertical manufacturing.” Transportation upgrades for both those who work in the Yard and the general public, and wayfinding improvements, have also been included. The heavy commitment to vertical manufacturing—which places large, floorplate-spanning manufacturing zones at the base of each building, with packaging and offices above—is part of the Navy Yard’s commitment to bolstering industrial manufacturing. Of the 10,000 new jobs the expansion is expected to support, 75 percent of them have been set aside for manufacturers, with technology office space and service jobs expected to fill in the remaining 25 percent. The currently vacant Kent Street lot sits on the Yard’s northern corner, right off of the Barge Basin Loop inlet. Two buildings totaling 2.7 million square feet would rise on the waterfront, as well as a public esplanade where manufacturers could directly showcase their products. At the Flushing Avenue site, which is still partially owned by the federal government and sits on the southern portion of the Navy Yard near the recently completed Building 77, two more buildings will rise for another 1.4 million square feet of mostly manufacturing space. Both of these buildings, which WXY has designed with an industrial feel and linked with several sky bridges, have been tentatively planned for food manufacturing. The parcel could also potentially link up with a pedestrian flyway from the waterfront that would run through W9’s Dock 72 building and allow ferry passengers to walk over the Navy Yard to reach the street. The Navy Street lot, currently an NYPD tow pound at the campus’s Sands Street entrance, would hold two new buildings on either side of a public plaza. WXY and the BNYDC have proposed a possible public museum of science and technology for the larger building, with the other housing classrooms, STEM development programs, and workforce development space. The same saw-toothed roof profile was used for both Navy Street buildings in the renderings, but more importantly, none of the new proposed projects overshadow the existing developments. WXY has also proposed a “historic core” area for biking and walking, which truck traffic would be routed around. “Forward-thinking cities like New York are using urban design to grow districts that support new kinds of jobs in urban industrial and maker settings,” said WXY managing principal Adam Lubinsky, who also led the master planning team. “The Brooklyn Navy Yard is leading the way, showing how to create and integrate valuable public space and amenities, multi-modal transit and streets, and state-of-the-art vertical manufacturing buildings, which will boost the Yard’s economic impact.” Residents interested in touring the Navy Yard can do so on October 2, where David Ehrenberg and Claire Weisz will discuss the future of the 300-acre Yard. Tours of Building 77, New Lab, the BNY Bridge, and Dock 72 will also be available beforehand.
Placeholder Alt Text

Open House New York opens 20 downtown Brooklyn sites during AIA weekend

People can roam about in the Brooklyn Point Sales + Design Gallery designed by Kohn Pederson Fox Associates, the Dime Savings Bank of Brooklyn by JDS Development, the Ashland by FXCollaborative Architects and SPAN Architecture, and many more old and new landmarks in Making Place: Downtown Brooklyn, organized by Open House New York. More than twenty sites are participating in the Open House event happening on June 23. A discussion about the change and transformation in the region featuring Downtown Brooklyn Partnership President Regina Myer, FXCollaborative Design Director Gustavo Rodriguez and other industry leaders will take place at the ISSUE Project Room at 10:30 a.m., kicking off the day-long events. Downtown Brooklyn has undergone dramatic changes in the past two decades. It has now emerged as a new area for real estate and commercial development. The neighborhood is flooded with commercial creativity and upscale living. This event will offer an insider look at the transformed, up-and-coming district. Other participating sites include Brooklyn Strand Action Plan by WXY architecture + urban design, the New York Transit Museum, Polonsky Shakespeare Center and the Schermerhorn. The general public can purchase tickets to attend tours and panel discussions in those private buildings. Tickets can be purchased at this link.
Placeholder Alt Text

Detroit Institute of Arts selects eight finalists for Midtown cultural campus competition

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) and Midtown Detroit Inc. (MDI) have selected eight finalists for the “DIA Plaza and Midtown Cultural Connections” design competition. The competition seeks to improve the exterior campus of the DIA and refine the spatial relationship between other museums in Midtown, as well as educational institutions like Wayne State University and cultural stalwarts like the Scarab Club. “The overall quality and depth of the submissions far exceeded our expectations,” said Salvador Salort-Pons, DIA director and Chair of the competition jury in a press release. “This is testimony to the exciting challenge of transforming Detroit’s arts and cultural district, which represents more than 12 important cultural institutions in the city and benefits all the residents in the region.” The competition strives for a plan that provides the DIA and Midtown’s stakeholder institutions with a cohesive campus that has the flexibility to support events and public art, attracting both the local visitor and world traveler. The competition also aims to make the campus more accessible and user-friendly, considering ways in which people enter and exit each building while addressing parking and driveway issues. The eight firms will each make public presentations in the DIA’s Danto Lecture Hall on June 13 and 14. The eight finalists are local and global. They include Agence Ter (Paris), Hood Design Studio (Oakland, CA), Mikoung Kim Design (Boston), Spackman Mossop Michaels (Detroit), Stoss Landscape Urbanism (Boston), UNStudio (Amsterdam), Ten x Ten (Minneapolis) and WXY architecture + urban design (New York). Midtown, anchored by Woodward Avenue, has seen significant population and business growth in the last five years, attracted by institutions like the DIA. Yet the area struggles to resolve how to make surrounding streets and public spaces walkable while being bound geographically by freeways.
Placeholder Alt Text

BIG, James Corner, SCAPE and Bionic unveil final proposals for Bay Area resiliency challenge

The year-long Resilient By Design | Bay Area Challenge ideas competition has sought to utilize community-led ecological design to “develop innovative solutions that will strengthen [the Bay Area’s] resilience to sea level rise, severe storms, flooding, and earthquakes.” Last week, the nine teams working with local communities and organizations on the competition unveiled final proposals for a collection of sites scattered around the San Francisco Bay.  The nine sites represent a collection of some of the most ecologically fragile areas in the region, places that may see dramatic change in coming decades as climate change takes hold. The initiative seeks to begin to reposition these areas—some are densely-populated while others host vital regional infrastructure—for a climate change-addled future. For the competition, design teams led by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), James Corner Field Operations (JCFO), Tom Leader Studio (TLS) and others pursue efforts to restore regional wetlands and riparian floodplains while reorienting infrastructural investments and development to suit these new landscapes. The proposals were developed with an eye toward being implementable strategies. Next, communities and designers will work together with regional, state, and federal agencies to fully implement their plans. All nine proposals are broken down below: The Grand Bayway The Common Ground team led by TLS Landscape Architecture proposes to extend Highway 37 across San Pablo Bay by designing an elevated scenic causeway that would allow riparian landscapes to flow beneath the new multi-modal artery. The team proposes to deploy the causeway with flair by breaking out various lanes of travel into whispy overpasses that thread through the landscape including a grand, “mobility loop” encircling rich recreational areas.  The design team is made up of Exploratorium, Guy Nordenson & Assoc., Michael Maltzan Architecture, HR&A Advisors, Sitelab Urban Studio, Lotus Water, Rana Creek, Dr. John Oliver, Richard Hindle, UC Berkeley, and Fehr & Peers Transportation Consultants. ouR-HOME The ouR-HOME project proposes to deploy a package of land-use reforms to incentivize small lot housing, community land trusts, social impact bonds, and new community infrastructure to prepare the community of North Richmond for climate change. The proposal calls for the construction of a new “horizontal levee” around the city that will protect it from potentially toxic runoff that could emanate from a nearby gasoline refinery during a flood. The vision also calls for planting 20,000 new trees to help “bring the marsh to Main Street,” an effort that aims to preserve and build upon existing community wealth in the majority African American and Latino enclave.  The team is led by San Francisco-based architecture firm Mithun and includes the Chinatown Community Development Center, ISEEED/Streetwyze, BioHabitats, Integral Group, HR&A Advisors, Moffat & Nichol, ALTA Planning, Urban Biofilter, and Resilient Design Institute. Estuary Commons The Estuary Commons plan creates a new network of ecologically-focused public spaces along areas surrounding the estuaries of San Leandro Bay in Alameda County. The proposal calls for investments in bicycle greenways, secondary housing units, and inclusionary zoning reforms in order to “build resiliency within the community.” The social and environmental justice-focused bid also calls for burying a stretch of Interstate-880 running through Downtown Oakland in order to remedy past planning errors.  The All Bay Collective—made up of AECOM, CMG Landscape Architecture, University of California, Berkeley- College of Environmental Design, Berkeley Center for New Media, The Terner Center, California College of the Arts, IDEO, Silvestrum, SKEO, modem, and David Baker Architects— is behind the scheme. Public Sediment for Alameda Creek The Public Sediment for Alameda Creek plan calls for reconnecting sediment flows between Alameda Creek and the bay’s wetlands in order to create a natural and ecologically-rich defense against floodwaters. The scheme revisions the currently-static flood control channels that criss-cross the southwestern edge of the Bay into redesigned estuaries, sediment traps, and berms that facilitate the build up of sediment while still allowing for public use and natural habitats.  The team is led by SCAPE Landscape Architecture and also includes Arcadis, Dredge Research Collaborative, TS Studio, UC Davis Department of Human Ecology and Design, UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, and Buoyant Ecologies Lab. South Bay Sponge The South Bay Sponge proposal aims to use a mix of cut-and-fill excavations and zoning swaps to build densely on high ground along the southern edge of the Bay in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. The plan would create networks of “sponge” landscapes that absorb tidal flows and run off, efforts that would involve reorganizing urban fabric in these areas into dense nodes of habitation surrounded by water-friendly landscapes.  The design team behind the proposal includes JCFO, Moffatt & Nichol, Magnusson Klemencic Associates, SF BAY National Estuarine Research Reserve, Romberg-Tiburon Center, SFSF, Andrea Baker Consulting, James Lima Planning + Development, The Bay Institute, SeArc / ECOncrete, HT Harvey and Associates, Playhou.se, and Adventure Pictures. Resilient South City The Hassell+ team proposes to create additional public green space and a continuous public access route along South San Francisco’s Colma Creek that would double as storm surge-absorbing infrastructure. The plan aims to reduce the impacts of flooding by utilizing a network of greenways and municipal parks to restore native ecologies. These areas would manage runoff from existing neighborhoods, creating new public open spaces along the way. The plan would revamp the city’s urban waterfront and make restorative alterations to Orange Memorial Park.  The project team includes Lotus Water, Civic Edge, HATCH, Brown & Caldwell, Idyllist, and Page & Turnbull. Islais Hyper Creek The BIG, ONE, and Sherwood have teamed up for the Islais Hyper Creek  Vision, a plan that aims to restore native landscapes around the creek while creating new nodes of waterborne urbanism. The team envisions transforming vast swaths along the creek into natural habitats and parks, with new clustered technology and industrial hubs scattered around the city. The proposal is dubbed as “an opportunity to bring the existing industrial ecosystem into the next economy.” The design team also includes Moffat & Nichol, Nelson Nygaard, Strategic Economics, The Dutra Group, and Stanford University. Designing our Own Solutions The Permaculture and Social Equity Team is proposing to utilize social design as a way of building a vision for Marin City, a diverse working class enclave located just north of San Francisco. The team’s social design project involved extensive community engagement and is focused on equity, placemaking, and public ownership.  The team is made up of Pandora Thomas, Antonio Roman-Alcala , the Urban Permaculture Institute, Ross Martin Design, Alexander J. Felson, and Yale School of Architecture. Elevate San Rafael The Elevate San Rafael plan put forth by the Bionic team that proposes to reorganize the small city of San Rafael, pulling in its edges from flood-prone shorelines while building up higher elevations with dense housing and public infrastructure. The proposal would repurpose underutilized lots into flood planes flanked with housing, add floating recreational islands within the bay, and build up artificial reefs along the bay floor.  The plan proposes to pair “time-tested approaches to coastal adaptation with a moral, financial, and infrastructural agenda” as a way of adequately planning for the city’s future. The team is made up of landscape architects Bionic, WXY, PennDesign, Michael Yarne, Enterprise, Moffatt & Nichol, WRA, RMA, SF State, Baycat, Studio for Urban Projects, RAD Urban, and KMA. For more information on the proposals, see the Resilient By Design Bay Area Challenge website. 
Placeholder Alt Text

WXY’s Claire Weisz receives AIA New York’s Medal of Honor

WXY Architecture + Urban Design co-founder Claire Weisz has received the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter’s (AIANY) top award, the Medal of Honor. "We are delighted to present to Claire the 2018 Medal of Honor, our chapter's highest level of recognition, for her ongoing career of distinguished work, and her immense contributions to public and civic space in New York," said Benjamin Prosky, executive director of AIANY and the Center for Architecture, in a statement. WXY partner and co-founder Mark Yoes has also been elevated to an AIA Fellow, which recognizes "exceptional work and lasting contributions to architecture and society." Weisz is an avowed urbanist, and WXY has won recognition for a large number of public projects across New York City, including a 2018 AIA Honor Award for their work on the Spring Street Salt Shed. Weisz was named a 2011 Emerging Voices winner, and WXY’s reconstruction of Astor Place and Cooper Square nabbed the studio a mention in AN’s 2017 Best of Design Awards for Urban Design. The studio works at all scales, from master planning enormous developments to designing for coastal resiliency, to street furniture and everything in between. Weisz will be honored at a ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street on April 20 at the annual AIANY Honors and Awards Luncheon. Artist Ai Weiwei, this year’s winner of the Award of Merit, and critic Inga Saffron, winner of the Kliment Oculus Award, will also be recognized at the event alongside the 2018 AIANY Design Awards winners. One set of Design Awards winners who won’t be attending is Richard Meier and Peter Marino, as the AIANY stripped both architects of their 2018 Merit Awards late last month amidst reports of harassment and misconduct.
Placeholder Alt Text

WXY’s redevelopment of Bronx juvenile detention center moves forward

This week the New York City Council's land use committee okayed the redevelopment of Spofford Juvenile Detention Center, a vacant former jail complex in the South Bronx's Hunts Point neighborhood. The committee's approval marks one of the final hurdles in a long-sought transformation of the site into a mini-village of affordable housing, stores, restaurants, and plenty of outdoor space. The development, officially known as The Peninsula, is being designed by New York's WXY and Body Lawson Associates. The city-led project will feature 740 units of 100 percent affordable housing surrounded by 52,000 square feet of open space, around 18,000 square feet of health and wellness services, ground floor retail, 48,000 square feet of space for co-working spaces and a small business incubator, and almost 50,000 square feet set aside for light industrial uses. The $300 million project was first revealed in late 2016, and since then, it's acquired a fresh set of renderings, some of which are pictured here. It will be built in four stages: Phase 1A, YIMBY reported, will break ground this spring, and is scheduled for completion by 2019. Phase IB will be complete by the first quarter of 2021, while phases II and III will be done by 2022 and 2024, respectively. Later this month, the full City Council will vote on the project.
Placeholder Alt Text

Here are the winners of the 2018 AIA Honor Awards in architecture

This is the first article in a three part series documenting the 2018 AIA Institute Honor Awards. This lists the winners of the architecture category, while additional segments contain the winners in the interior architecture and regional & urban design categories. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced the 2018 winners of the AIA Institute Honor Awards. The list contains projects from all around the world, and of varying programs and uses, and honors firms both large and small. From a girls’ school in Afghanistan to a municipal salt shed, this year’s widely diverse group of winning projects will be recognized at the AIA Conference on Architecture 2018 in New York City, in late June. This year's eight member jury panel included:
  • Lee Becker, FAIA (Chair), Hartman-Cox Architects
  • Anne Marie Decker, FAIA, Duvall Decker Architects
  • Susan Johnson, AIA, Strata; Anna Jones, Assoc. AIA, MOD Design
  • Caitlin Kessler, AIAS Student Representative, University of Arizona
  • Merilee Meacock, AIA, KSS Architects
  • Robert Miller, FAIA, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
  • Sharon Prince, Grace Farms Foundation
  • Rob Rogers, FAIA, Rogers Partners.
  Project: Audain Art Museum Architect: Patkau Architects Inc. Location: Whistler, British Columbia, Canada From the AIA Jury: A beautiful, dynamic project that literally wraps users around nature, blurring the boundaries between man-made and natural. It creates a cultural magnet to help educate not only art, but eco-friendly design. The elegant structure hovers over a floodplain topography in an area that receives a large amount of snowfall, battling the elements through an architectural form that embraces the setting. Opportunity for people to live with art. The typology of the building is a stepping stone for Canada, a new icon, and a monument for British Columbia. It has helped elevate all of us. Project: The Broad Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Associate Firm: Gensler Location: Los Angeles From the AIA Jury: Simultaneously sedate and spectacular. It fits the context of the visually exuberant arts buildings in this neighborhood. More than holding its own as a figure, it also engages and takes the user in. The dark body-like, shapely vault is a beautiful counterpoint to the bright, thick, patterned light veil. The design intention is clear and carried through at every scale. The types of space created are unusual but engaging and composed. Project: Chicago Riverwalk Architect: Ross Barney Architects and Sasaki Associates Location: Chicago From the AIA Jury: A gift to city, it embraces Chicago's layered, diverse history by providing a range of amenities that provide forward looking opportunities. Transforms the once neglected downtown riverfront into a vast public space. Design that touches everyone. Subtle moments of education and insight into the ecology of the river, educating visitors and residents. It is the reinvention of urban life that brings attention back to the waterfront. Project: Gohar Khatoon Girls' School Architect: Robert Hull, FAIA, and the University of Washington, Department of Architecture Location: Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan From the AIA Jury: A beautiful and restrained aesthetic with limited means. Architecture is a modern take on Afghan history and masonry construction. This elevates respect for women and girls overall when state resources are used to this extent and design, adding an intent to create an urban oasis and promote community engagement. This space and the process communicates a new era for girls and women very powerfully. It is remarkably resourceful by integrating natural sustainability measures while operating within a weak infrastructure in the country. Project: Manhattan Districts 1/2/5 & Spring Street Salt Shed Architect: Dattner Architects in association with WXY architecture + urban design Location: New York City From the AIA Jury: The Salt storage building took what is usually an industrial construction built as economically as possible into urban art. It raises the bar significantly for civic infrastructure. Unapologetic platonic shape with beautiful skin with commitment to civic expression, environmental responsibility, and sensitivity to the urban context design solution that successfully integrates critical services into the neighborhood. The pursuit of a visual oxymoron to sanitation, and investment therein, is laudable and uplifting to an entire neighborhood and heavily used city corridor. Highly innovative. Project: Mercer Island Fire Station 92 Architect: Miller Hull Partnership Location: Mercer Island, Washington From the AIA Jury: Operations drives design and the execution is flawless. A necessary renovation turned modern reinterpretation of a traditional civic building into a simple box with layers of transparency that visually and physically connect the functions to the street. Great balance of functionality and warmth of materials make this a beautiful facility. Balanced work and relaxation are desired combo for firefighting facilities and certainly that balance is achieved here. As a public project, it is clearly a labor of love. Super judicious use of materials; great scale, sense of public awareness. Best of all this honors the incredibly hard working firefighters deserving of such a light space. Project: New United States Courthouse Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP Location: Los Angeles From the AIA Jury: The design's fascination with natural light and white spaces is nicely contrasted by the golden wood interior figures and floors. The building's form is a representation of site and topography, functionality, environmental performance, civic presence, and public spaces. Traditional materials and architectural elements enliven its civic presence, while modern elements introduced through the glass assembly façade create an iconic image for a 21st Century courthouse building while also providing positive environmental performance. This powerful composition and the generosity of its public spaces gives the project a clear civic presence, separating it from its commercial neighbors. Project: Vol Walker Hall & the Steven L. Anderson Design Center Architect: Marlon Blackwell Architects Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas From the AIA Jury: A complimentary and progressive pairing of modern and traditional forms. Consistent orchestration of natural light and a sparse but powerful use of red to make landmark moments in the building is invigorating. Sets the opportunity for an interesting contrast between the old and new wings. The expanded facility unites all three departments – architecture, landscape architecture, and interior design – under one roof for the first time, reinforcing the School’s identity and creating a cross-disciplinary, collaborative learning environment. The overall design is a didactic model, establishing a tangible discourse between the past and present while providing state-of-the-art-facilities for 21st century architectural and design education. Every space seems equally well resolved, simple, elegant Project: Washington Fruit & Produce Company Headquarters Architect: Graham Baba Architects Location: Yakima, Washington From the AIA Jury: This sits on the landscape beautifully and creates space for meaningful community. The oasis among the warehouses is functional, sustainable, spatial and formal. The design idea is integral and cohesive. An idea with depth. Occupied spaces are oriented towards the heart of the place - the courtyard, avoiding views towards the surrounding freeway and industrial warehouses; earth berms surrounding the building focalize views out to the landscape and blurring the boundary of architecture and site. The owners’ commitment to creating a respite from the industrial environment for their employees led to an exploration of curating views and outdoor spaces. The result is a workspace that encourages quiet contemplation, community and productivity.
Placeholder Alt Text

WXY unveils spiffy cabin prototypes for New York State parks

Cabins and tiny houses seem to be cropping up everywhere, from country homes to affordable housing. In Wildwood State Park on Long Island, New York City–based WXY Architecture + Urban Design has designed a cabin prototype, the NYS cabin, specifically for the Long Island campground. While the usual image of a cabin in the woods is claustrophobic, window-starved and lacking in amenities, WXY’s design is anything but. The contemporary one- and two-bedroom cabins range in size from over 600 to nearly 800 square feet and feature tall, sloping ceilings, flexible floor plans, full kitchens, and naturally lit interiors. The exteriors of the cabins are clad in cedar shingles, with reclaimed mahogany detailing and metal roofing, allowing the structures to fit seamlessly in with existing Works Progress Administration (WPA) cabins that date from the 1930s. Designed to function across similar New York State campgrounds, WXY’s straightforward update of a classic design may very well end up in your neck of the woods. Claire Weisz, a principal of WXY, told Dwell the cabins were meant to be "robust, chunky, and larger in scale," with sparse detailing that will allow the structures to "silver out" with age.  This is not the first time architects have forayed into the nation's park system. Minneapolis-based HGA won the 2016 American architectural award for its stylish cabins on concrete piers in Dakota County, Minnesota.
Placeholder Alt Text

2017 Best of Design Awards for Urban Design

2017 Best of Design Award for Urban Design: India Basin Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Location: San Francisco
Embodying a commitment to sustainable placemaking, the India Basin project proposes the transformation of acres of overgrown former industrial land on the San Francisco Bay into an active waterfront destination and a vibrant, diverse village. The comprehensive design reconnects surrounding communities with the shoreline, cultivates economic opportunities, and provides mixed-income housing. The mixed-use project creates a complete community at a human scale, with all basic services and amenities located within short walking distance. It interweaves parks, plazas, and open space with new pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly connections, as well as buildings for residential, commercial, and community-serving purposes.
The design also embraces the existing ecology of the land. A robust stormwater management strategy links streetscape streams and bioswales (landscape elements that remove silt from runoff water) with a landscape of canals, reservoirs, and wetlands. "This is a significant redevelopment that will affect this part of the city in profound ways. That said, it is an elegant and reasoned plan that integrates nicely with its surroundings." —Matt Shaw, Senior Editor, Architect's Newspaper (juror) Client: Build Inc. Landscape Architect: Bionic Civil Engineer: Sherwood Design Engineers Urban Design and Planning: Gehl Studio
Honorable Mention Project: Atlanta's Park Over GA400 Architects: Rogers Partners and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects Location: Atlanta
Atlanta’s Park Over GA400 seizes the opportunity to reclaim the GA400 highway void with a 2,500-foot-long public space for community gatherings and public art. A dense cover of native trees over the highway links adjacent canopies and reduces the heat island effect, captures stormwater, and supports native flora and fauna. Honorable Mention  Project: The Reconstruction of Astor Place and Cooper Square Architect: WXY Location: New York The network of streets in and around NYC’s Astor Place and Cooper Square benefitted from configurations that improve the experiential nature of the neighborhood. At the behest of the city’s Department of Transportation, the design team developed a rich pedestrian environment, relieved pedestrian and vehicular congestion, and created custom-designed seating throughout the plazas.
Placeholder Alt Text

Long Island City riverside development would bring Queens one of its tallest towers

New York City’s outer borough may be getting yet another tall tower, as a recently revealed development in Long Island City, Queens, would bring thousands of residential units to an industrial corner of the neighborhood. As the New York Times reports, landlord Plaxall Realty has proposed converting its 15-acre riverside property into a mixed-use development that would include 5,000 apartments, 3.1 acres of public space, and 335,000 square feet set aside for manufacturing. The plan from New York-based WXY lays out not only retail and restaurant options for the site, but an additional 70-story tower that would become one of tallest in Queens if it were actually built. The borough has seen more of these projects lately, with the 984-foot City View Tower still on track to become Queens' first supertall tower. Anable Basin, the 1,000-foot long artificial channel that the development takes its name from, would anchor the 6-block complex. While Anable Basin was used as an industrial shipping port since its construction in 1868, Plaxall wants to modernize the inlet by ringing it with an elevated esplanade, installing flood barriers, and building docks for kayakers. Plaxall, a plastic container company who used to house factories in the area, has also called for the creation of an “innovation zone” in the development. 335,000 square feet of light manufacturing space will be set-aside in a co-working and living style arrangement, and Anable Basin residents could potentially leave their apartments and head straight down to their ground-floor studio space. Such a large project would trigger the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) requirements, and Plaxall has stated that approximately 1,250 of the proposed 4,995 units would be affordable. The details released yesterday make no mention of how affordability would be determined. Converting an area historically zoned as industrial will come with a set of caveats. Plaxall will need to have the area rezoned, and may sell the entire parcel even if they can find a development partner. If the proposal moves ahead, the Anable Basin special district would allow the public to access a section of the western Queens’ waterfront that had been closed off for centuries. Already in possession of 13 acres, Plaxall has been confident that the private landlords holding the other two will be on board with the scheme. Paula Kirby, granddaughter of Plaxall founder Louis Pfohl, told the Times that Anable Basin was “a unique opportunity to really make a skyline for Long Island City,” The New York City Department of City Planning will hold the first public comment hearing in early December. Construction is slated to begin in 2020.