The Architect’s Newspaper is introducing a new video series focusing on the places, people, and processes behind news-making projects. We begin with a tour of Philadelphia’s Reading Viaduct, an abandoned rail line that advocates hope to transform into an elevated park, a grittier take on Manhattan’s celebrated High Line. With the city and state pledging millions toward the project, the Viaduct park is moving closer to reality. Come along with us for a first look.
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San Antonio firm transforms vacant industrial building into sunlit workspace.
Dissatisfied with their two-story office, San Antonio architecture practice Overland Partners recently went looking for a new home. They found it in an unexpected place: a long-vacant plumbing supply warehouse within the city’s burgeoning arts district. The 1918 Hughes Plumbing Warehouse offered the firm exactly what they wanted—a large open floor plan—in an architecturally refined package. The timber-framed, brick-clad building “is simple,” said project architect Patrick Winn, “but it’s really elegant and beautiful when you’re able to look at it.” The problem was that years of disuse had left their mark. “When we first viewed it, it was really far gone,” recalled Winn. The original windows had been broken up, and the roof had flooded. Undaunted, the architects took on an extensive renovation project, with the result that today the former plumbing distribution center is a boon not just to Overland, but to the neighborhood as a whole.
Archtober Building of the Day #9
58 Kent Street, Brooklyn
Ole Sondresen Architect
“Nothing is better than doing nothing.” While this may be the maxim that many of us live by on lazy Sunday afternoons, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn it applies to the design philosophy of Norwegian carpenter-turned-architect Ole Sondresen. During today’s tour of the Kickstarter headquarters, Sondresen demonstrated how this sustainable principle guided his design process.
Bombay Sapphire is in the process of converting a historic paper mill into a facility for producing their famous gin. Overseeing this transformation is the ever-busy Heatherwick Studio, which has been brought on to renovate the 40 derelict buildings found on the site. Their most drastic intervention to the extant campus comes in the form of a soon-to-opened visitor’s center that was recently awarded a BREEAM ‘outstanding’ rating for sustainability, an international system for ranking green buildings.
According to a recent article on azcentral.com, Phoenix’s Warehouse District is in the midst of a renaissance. Or is it? The man behind several adaptive reuse projects in the neighborhood says not so fast. “It’s like every five years someone gets excited about it and writes the same article,” said developer Michael Levine. While he admits there’s been an uptick in interest in the mid-century industrial buildings, he doubts his fellow landowners’ motives. “If you give them enough money…they’d have the [buildings] demolished,” he said.
Dutch firm MVRDV is creating a new office building in Hong Kong, and by the looks of the renderings, people will be really happy to work there. The project actually entails the transformation of the Cheung Fai Warehouse, a 14-story industrial building that currently sits on a busy corner in the city’s designated business area of East Kowloon. MVRDV will be stripping the structure to its concrete infrastructural core before filling the frame with glass and stainless steel in order to define the new office spaces.
Paris is known in part for its numerous quaint outdoor markets offering foodstuffs and vintage objects. It is also home to an—if not quaint, at least fairly aged—abandoned railway system, the Chemin de fer de Petite Ceinture. Two enterprising architects have now proposed combining the idea behind the former retail markets and the infrastructure of the latter to create a traveling market that would circle the city center.
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A bespoke aluminum building skin transforms an abandoned war bunker into a high-performing boutique hotel.
Restoration hotelier Unlisted Collection recently acquired a historically listed, vacant municipal building in London’s East End that served as a set favorite for film luminaries like David Lynch. The 1910 Edwardian fore building and its utilitarian 1937 addition had served as the town hall of Bethnal Green before World War II. In order to convert the complex into a boutique hotel, Unlisted hired London-based architecture practice Rare and tasked the firm with designing an addition to the existing buildings to add space for more guest rooms and amenities, while unifying the three disparate elements into a single entity. Rare directors and founders Nathalie Rozencwajg and Michel da Costa Gonçalves answered this last charge with an ornamental screen facade that visually ties together the historic and modern buildings while also improving user comfort and environmental performance.
Paris has its answer to Silicon Valley, with plans to convert an historic train station into the world’s largest home for digital entrepreneurship. Architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte has been entrusted to rehabilitate the landmark building, situated on the southern bank of the river Seine, into a technological hub to accommodate 1,000 start-up companies by the year 2016.
The project turned a 120-year-old mortuary in Flint’s historic Carriage Town neighborhood into an alternative space for artists, designers, and engineers. It’s a gut rehab and then some, but the project has attracted the full force of Flint’s artistic community.