Riverfront Revival by Shalom Baranes

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Shalom Baranes' renovation of a 1984 office building transformed a waterfront eyesore into a sleek condominium complex. (Thomas Arledge Photography)

Shalom Baranes’ renovation of a 1984 office building transformed a waterfront eyesore into a sleek condominium complex. (Thomas Arledge Photography)

Brick and metal transform a tired office block into a residential building worthy of its site.

Located on a slice of land adjacent to the Potomac River in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, the 1984 Sheet Metal Workers Union National Pension Fund building failed to live up to the site’s potential. “I’ve used this in a couple of lectures,” said Shalom Baranes Associates principal Patrick Burkhart. “I show ‘before’ photos and ask the audience, ‘What is this building?’ The answers include: ‘It looks like an urban jail.'” When the property came on the market, Maryland-based developer EYA seized the opportunity to transform the waterfront eyesore into a contemporary condominium complex. Clad in brick and metal paneling, with high performance glazing emphasizing views along the Potomac, the Oronoco balances a sleek urban aesthetic with sensitivity to Old Town’s historic fabric.

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Gould Evans Rewraps Kansas Library

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Rather than adding on to one end of the existing structure, Gould Evans wrapped a new reading room and terra cotta facade around the old Lawrence Public Library. (Courtesy Gould Evans)

Rather than adding on to one end of the existing structure, Gould Evans wrapped a new reading room and terra cotta facade around the old Lawrence Public Library. (Courtesy Gould Evans)

Terra cotta rain screen transforms brutalist eyesore into energy-efficient community space.

Considered an aesthetic and functional failure almost since its construction in 1974, the old public library in Lawrence, Kansas, was overdue for a renovation four decades later. Gould Evans‘ challenge was to transform the low-slung brutalist behemoth, a poor environmental performer lacking both adequate daylighting and a sense of connection to the community, into an asset. “The desire was to try to come up with a building that basically reinvented the library for the community,” said vice president Sean Zaudke. Rather than tacking an addition on to one end of the existing structure, the architects elected to wrap a 20,000-square-foot reading room and open stacks area around the old facade. In so doing, they altered the exterior for the better, swapping bare concrete for an earth-hued terra cotta rain screen punctuated by plentiful glazing. They also significantly enhanced the library’s environmental performance, with early estimates suggesting that the new Lawrence Public Library will see a 50 percent reduction in energy usage despite a 50 percent increase in square footage.

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How Stella Tower Got Its Glory Back

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JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group's renovation of Ralph Walker-designed Stella Tower included restoring the Art Deco crown. (Courtesy JDS Development Group)

JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group’s renovation of Ralph Walker-designed Stella Tower included restoring the Art Deco crown. (Courtesy JDS Development Group)

Developers use cutting-edge technology to restore Ralph Walker crown.

When JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group purchased the 1927 Ralph Walker high-rise in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood in order to transform it into the Stella Tower condominiums, they realized that something was not quite right about the roofline. “The building had a very odd, plain parapet of mismatched brick,” recalled JDS founder Michael Stern. “We were curious about why it had this funny detail that didn’t belong to the building.” The developers tracked down old photographs of the property and were pleasantly surprised by what they saw: an intricate Art Deco thin dome crown. “We were very intrigued by putting the glory back on top of the building,” said Stern. They proceeded to do just that, deploying a combination of archival research and modern-day technology to recreate a remarkable early-twentieth-century ornament.

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Cambridge Architectural’s Steel-Wrapped Embassy

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Cambridge Architectural's wire mesh facade screens the new glass atrium at the South African Embassy in Washington, DC. (Eric Taylor)

Cambridge Architectural’s wire mesh facade screens the new glass atrium at the South African Embassy in Washington, DC. (Eric Taylor)

Metal mesh bridges old and new in Davis Brody Bond renovation.

For their renovation and expansion of the South African Embassy in Washington, DC, Davis Brody Bond faced an unusual aesthetic challenge. Besides updating the two historic buildings housing the embassy’s offices and residence, they were tasked with building a new atrium for public welcoming, public events, and conference rooms—right in between the two older buildings. The architects turned to Cambridge Architectural, a Maryland manufacturer of wire mesh architectural systems. “Davis Brody Bond wanted to have this new building as a very contemporary element between the two limestone buildings,” said Cambridge Architectural’s Ann Smith. A wire mesh facade seemed a perfect solution to the problem of combining old and new, seamlessly bridging the two masonry structures, and providing crucial sun shading for the glass atrium.

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HGA Updates a Minneapolis Landmark

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HGA's Nelson Cultural Center, clad in slate shingles and art glass, complements the historic Turnblad Mansion. (Paul Crosby Photography)

HGA’s Nelson Cultural Center, clad in slate shingles and art glass, complements the historic Turnblad Mansion. (Paul Crosby Photography)

Slate-clad addition to the American Swedish Institute evokes contemporary Scandinavian design.

Minneapolis-based architecture, engineering, and planning firm HGA faced a tall order when the American Swedish Institute asked them to design an addition to the building known locally as “The Castle.” The turreted Turnblad Mansion, constructed in Minneapolis’ Phillips West neighborhood in 1908 and home of ASI since 1929, lacked the kinds of multi-purpose spaces required by ASI’s cultural and educational programming—and was suffering wear and tear from a steady stream of visitors. “The project was about creating a front door that was more welcoming and inviting than the existing building, that can help protect the mansion and allow it to be used as a house museum,” said project architect Andy Weyenberg. At the same time,  “the mansion remained the focal point,” he explained. “It will always be the identity of ASI. Everything we did, we wanted to respect the mansion and keep it as a centerpiece.” HGA’s intervention honors the primacy of the Turnblad Mansion while updating ASI’s image with a contemporary facade inspired by Swedish building methods and materials.

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Lake|Flato Beats the Heat at ASU

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Lake|Flato replaced an inefficient one-story wing with a two-story volume wrapped in a high-performance facade. (Bill Timmerman)

Lake|Flato replaced an inefficient one-story wing with a two-story volume wrapped in a high-performance facade. (Bill Timmerman)

LEED Platinum renovation reconnects the Health Services Building to the campus core.

Early in their renovation of the Arizona State University Health Services Building, Lake|Flato Architects, working with orcutt | winslow, decided to scrap the university’s initial concept in favor of a plan that would reengage the campus’s historic pedestrian corridor, the Palm Walk. Instead of building an addition to the north side of the existing facility, which included a serviceable two-story building constructed in the 1950s and another structure Lake|Flato partner Andrew Herdeg described as “a rambling one-story rabbit warren of spaces,” the architects elected to demolish the one-story wing and build a two-story addition in its place. “This initial idea that we need to look at the basic concept before we start the design, and think about it from the campus design perspective, changed everything,” said Herdeg. It allowed the design team to reduce the program by about 12 percent and reduce the footprint by 20 percent, as well as to preserve 5,000 square feet of green space for programs and stormwater mitigation. But it also presented a challenge. The renovated building’s primary identity would be on the east facade of the building, where the desert sun had the potential to undo efficiencies gained elsewhere.
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Post-Recession, Las Vegas’ Builders are “Cautiously Aggressive”

Las Vegas is bouncing back from the recession with new construction, including Gensler's 2013 renovation of The AXIS Theater inside Planet Hollywood. (Ryan Gobuty for Gensler)

Las Vegas is bouncing back from the recession with new construction, including Gensler’s 2013 renovation of The AXIS Theater inside Planet Hollywood. (Ryan Gobuty for Gensler)

“It’s a fun time in Vegas right now, with the economy up,” said Beth Campbell, principal and managing director of Gensler’s Las Vegas office. Downtown is being reborn, thanks in no small part to Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s multi-million dollar investment. The Strip, too, is booming—see the High Roller observation wheel, which opened on March 31. At the same time, the spendthrift breeziness of the pre-recession years is gone. “Everyone is coming back to life, but with a refined focus and purpose,” said Campbell. “I would say the clients and developers are cautiously aggressive…they still want to grow, still want to reach for the sky…But they’re really focused on how they’re applying [their money] to make these projects happen.”

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A Transparent Cathedral Addition by architectsAlliance

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The architects designed a transparent addition to the St. James Cathedral's 1910 Parish House. (Courtesy architectsAlliance)

The architects designed a glass addition to the St. James Cathedral’s 1910 Parish House. (Courtesy architectsAlliance)

A renovation and addition bring an historic church complex into the 21st century.

The Diocese of Toronto approached architectsAlliance (aA) about renovating the St. James Cathedral Centre with two objectives in mind. On a practical level, they wanted more space for the cathedral’s outreach program and the Diocesan archives, as well as quarters for the Dean of the Cathedral and visitors. At the same time, the Anglican leadership wanted to make a statement about the Church’s relevance to contemporary Canadian society. “The idea of the addition was to convey an image of the Church itself as a kind of more open institution, much more transparent and contemporary,” said aA’s Rob Cadeau. “[It was] really driven by the dean, who wanted to refresh the image of the Church.” Read More

State Department Announces Five Firms Will Lead Overseas Renovation Project

International, Midwest, National
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
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An aerial view of the U.S. Embassy in London by Kieren Timberlake. (Courtesy Kieren Timberlake)

An aerial view of the U.S. Embassy in London by Kieren Timberlake. (Courtesy Kieren Timberlake)

The State Department’s overseas embassies are getting a facelift. Under the “Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Worldwide Major Rehabilitation/Renovation Architecture/Engineering Design Services solicitation,” a team of designers will overhaul overseas facilities.

Five design teams to undertake the project.

Brooklyn Navy Yards’ Concrete Monolith To See Major Renovation

East
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
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Building 77 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. (emma.maria / Flickr)

Building 77 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. (emma.maria / Flickr)

The Brooklyn Navy Yard has emerged as one of those rare, post-industrial-era success stories. The former shipyard, which closed in 1966, is now home to a mix of industries such as construction, cleantech, metal fabrication, film production, design, contracting, and even urban agriculture. The Wall Street Journal reported that the non-profit Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp. will soon announce an $80 million renovation of Building 77, a monolithic concrete former ammunition depot and the largest structure on the 300-acre park.

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Central Park Pavilion Restored with Historic and Contemporary Concerns in Mind

East
Thursday, June 21, 2012
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The Heckscher Building

The Heckscher Building

Until recently, the only way to enter Central Park’s oldest and largest playground was through a chain-link fence. The great Heckscher Playground, impressive in scale and amenities, did not have an entrance to match, but a recently completed renovation to the building has retuned the structure to it’s original use with a contemporary twist blending the building’s history with contemporary needs.

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NY Historical Society Opens Museum & Library for Kids

East
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
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The new exhibit includes interactive and educational games to engage.

The lower level of the New York Historical Society was lively last Friday morning at the ribbon cutting for the new DiMenna Children’s History Museum and the Barbara K. Lipman Children’s History Library.  Young New Yorkers were trying out a number of new, interactive activities in the vibrant 4,000 square-foot vaulted space.

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