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.
Archtober Building of the Day #22
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
655 West 34th Street
Designed by Pei Cobb in the early 1980s, the Jacob K. Javits Center had fallen into a considerable slump in the years following its debut. Plagued with structural problems, today’s Archtober tour leader and head of the building’s extensive overhaul, Bruce Fowle, began in the center’s Crystal Palace by showing photos of the space before his firm’s massive undertaking. He highlighted two of the worst features of the original structure—the dirty, impossible-to-clean glass and extensive water damage. Almost immediately after opening, large canvas “diapers” were constructed to catch the ever-leaking roof, costing the center nearly one million dollars a year to alleviate the constant influx of water.
All the top names in New York City architecture are vying for a piece of Brooklyn Bridge Park, but whether any of their designs will be realized still remains to be seen. As community groups try to block Mayor de Blasio’s controversial plans to bring affordable housing to Michael Van Valkenburgh‘s celebrated park, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation has unveiled 14 design proposals for two coveted development sites on Pier 6. Those proposals were unveiled just hours before a Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation meeting that was packed with community members voicing their strong opposition to any new development in the park.
The “payphone”—like subway tokens—is a word that has increasingly become synonymous with an older New York. It’s been years since many of us have even stepped into, let alone used, one of those bulky, eerily abandoned and, let’s face it, uninviting, telephone booths peppering New York City’s sidewalks. But unlike subway tokens, the payphone is making a comeback.
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At Miami Basel, a digitally fabricated pavilion marries classic origami techniques with advanced technology
For this year’s inaugural Miami Project Fair, the design team at FXFOWLE Architects, led by Sarah Gerber, created a temporary architectural pavilion, the FXFOWLE Lounge, from both cutting-edge technology and good-old-fashioned manual labor. The 24-foot-long pavilion embodies the “duality of this very high-tech and sophisticated fabrication and this very low-tech material and assembly process,” said designer Lucio Santos. Over the next few days, the sculpture will be housed in a lounge and bar area outfitted with beanbag chairs and a carbon fiber bar that FXFOWLE also designed for the event.
In past years, architects such as David Adjaye, Marc Fornes & THEVERYMANY, and Rachely Rotem and Phu Hoang (now of Modu), have designed temporary pavilions for Miami Basel—introducing their work to a wider audience. This project is “a first” Santos said, but this might be changing for FXFOWLE, which is trying to branch out on the digital side of architecture.
City Planning approved the Rudin development family’s plan for the old St. Vincent’s Hospital Site today allowing the Rudin Managment company to build an $800 million multi-use complex. The plan includes 450 luxury condos, a 564-seat school, 15,000 square-foot-public park, and street-level retail. The St. Vincent’s plan went through a bevy of iterations before finally arriving at today’s approval.
Rather than add a few hundred more words to the tens of thousands already devoted to praise the Diller Scofidio + Renfro / FXFOWLE renovation of the Julliard School and Alice Tully Hall, I think today that I will remember the original architect, Pietro Belluschi (1899-1994). As a young faculty member at the University of Virginia, I got to know his work a bit. He designed the UVA School of Architecture. The building was muscular, had clear structure, and well expressed the late 1960s/early ‘70s last gasps of Brutalism.
It was a panel I couldn’t refuse: To moderate a talk with two architects from China about sustainability. Not that it’s a topic with which I am very familiar, but I would guess that even architects working there find much about the Chinese approach to environmental issues a mystery. I do know that the country has a $375 billion dollar construction industry devouring resources and that, at least ten years ago, a new coal-fired plant was being built every ten days. But things are changing fast and the chance to talk to Wang Degang who has his own 20-person firm in Nanjing and with Mesh Chen Dongliang who has been working for the past six years at Arquitectonica’s Shanghai office about their impressions was quite an opportunity.
The past ten years have seen an impressive amount of economic growth and infrastructural development in India, and the nation is becoming more and more a well established market for American architectural talent. This trend doesn’t seem to be changing as we embark on a new decade. One sign of that is the September 2009 opening of an office in Mumbai by structural engineering firm Leslie E. Robertson Associates (LERA). Founded in 1923 in New York City, LERA has contributed its services to many of the city’s iconic structures (such as the World Trade Center) and has designed buildings all around the world, but this will be its first foreign office. A release by the firm cited a “growing workload” and the need to “facilitate client relations” as key reasons for the opening. LERA will join a number of other American architecture firms that have recently opened branches in the subcontinent, including HOK and Perkins Eastman. See some of the projects LERA has worked on after the jump.
Did you have a nice time watching Phantom of the Opera? Did you buy all that you could carry from The Disney Store? Have fun strolling down the soon-to-be-redesigned Broadway plazas? Why not pop around the corner and check out a peep show? I’m not talking naked ladies here, I’m talking real live sharks! This isn’t a joke. In the very near future this may be an option. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Jerry Shefsky—a Toronto-based developer—is near to closing a deal with SJP Properties to put a 600,000-gallon aquarium in the base of the company’s brand spanking new 11 Times Square office tower. In addition to the aforementioned sharks, the $100 million project would include tanks featuring rays, penguins, otters, and drier attractions such as a pirate museum. This could even serve as a model for other financially troubled projects in the city. Perhaps turn Stuytown into a zoo? Not that it isn’t one already.