BNIM’s Entrepreneurial Envelope for the University of Missouri-Kansas City

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BNIM and Moore Ruble Yudell wrapped the Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall in multicolored terra cotta and glass. (James Ewing)

BNIM and Moore Ruble Yudell wrapped the Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall in multicolored terra cotta and glass. (James Ewing)

A tight budget and short timeline inspired an innovative concrete and terra cotta facade.

BNIM and Moore Ruble Yudell approached the design of the Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Missouri-Kansas City with two objectives. The first was to express the creative spirit of the university’s program in entrepreneurship, which at that point lacked dedicated support spaces. The second goal was to tie the contemporary structure to its historic surroundings. Moore Ruble Yudell, who developed many of the project’s interior concepts, tackled the former, creating flexible classroom and laboratory spaces and a multi-story amphitheater that doubles as casual seating and a venue for school-wide gatherings. As for the latter, BNIM designed a multicolored terra cotta envelope that balances singularity with connection. “The idea was to create a building that sat by itself, but somehow bring it into context in terms of materials,” explained BNIM senior project architect Greg Sheldon.
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Pittsburgh’s Mellon Square Returned to Its Modernist Roots

The refurbished fountain and stairway. (Courtesy Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy)

The refurbished fountain and stairway. (Courtesy Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy)

After five years and $10 million, Pittsburgh’s Mellon Square has been returned to its mid-century splendor. Dedicated in 1955, the Square served as a modern, green oasis in a city choked by pollution. But only a few decades after opening, the modern masterpiece had fallen into disrepair, its former glory hidden by cracked pavement, broken fountains, pigeons, and empty planters. As Pittsburgh has transformed itself in recent years, so to has Mellon Square. Now, the reborn space is yet another example of the Steel City’s promising future.

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New York Design Commission Announces Excellence in Design Winners

Architecture, Awards, Design, East
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
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LeFrak Center at Lakeside. (Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects)

LeFrak Center at Lakeside. (Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects)

Winners of the 32nd Annual Awards for Excellence in Design were announced last night at the Thomas Leeser–designed BRIC Arts Media House in Brooklyn’s emerging Cultural District. Mayor Bill de Blasio was on hand to honor the winning projects, which were selected by the city’s Design Commission. “While Brooklyn is my home borough, I am proud to be awarding a diverse group of projects representing all five New York City boroughs,” the mayor said in a statement. “This year’s winners exemplify the Design Commission’s mission to enhance every New Yorker’s quality of life through public design, regardless of their size or location of the project.”  The 10 winning proposals are all unbuilt, but two special recognition awards were awarded to Tod Williams Billie Tsien’s LeFrak Center in Prospect Park and Louis Kahn’s Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island.

On to the winners…

Dutch Architects Propose Floating Island Made of Recycled Plastic

Recycled Island (Courtesy Design Villa)

Recycled Island (Courtesy Design Villa)

Considering how much trash Baltimore’s solar-powered Trash Interceptor scoops out of the city’s harbor—50,000 pounds a day!—these floating islands made from found plastic waste might just stand a chance. With the support of the Creative Industries Firm NL, WHIM Architecture is developing a prototype of their project, the recycled island, built primarily from recycled plastic waste gathered from the North Pacific gyre and the North Sea.

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Architect proposes a pedestrian bridge in Israel built from discarded shipping containers

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(Yoav Messer Architects)

There is an ongoing architectural quest to find new and innovative sustainable materials. Some products could appear in the next science fiction film, such as the fungus-grown packaging material by Ecovative. Other materials have been with us for a long time, under guise of other uses. Some products—like the lowly shipping container—have served one function for so long they beg to be reinvented.

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With Caveats, High Speed Rail, And Its Stations, Chug Ahead In California

Conceptual rendering of the Fresno to Bakersfield route (CA High Speed Rail)

Conceptual rendering of the Fresno to Bakersfield route (CA High Speed Rail)

Despite ongoing delays, lawsuits, and government holdups, it appears that California’s High Speed Rail (HSR) plans (and their associated stations) are ready to move ahead. Last week the United States Department of Transportation issued a “Record of Decision” for HSR’s initial 114-mile section from Fresno to Bakersfield.

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Deep Underground, Researchers Testing Giant Elevators for the World’s Tallest Building

KONE Ultrarope (Courtesy KONE Online Bank)

KONE Ultrarope (Courtesy KONE Online Bank)

Where there are tall buildings there are also tall elevators. Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Tower, designed by Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, will be the tallest building in the world if constructed as planned. The building is expected to stand 3,281 feet tall and will require elevators the likes of which the world has never seen. Luckily for the Kingdom Tower, one elevator company is researching the extremes of vertical circulation.

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Researchers Train Robots to 3D Print Architecture

Minibuilders (Courtesy Iaac)

Minibuilders (Courtesy Iaac)

The future of architecture is upon us, and thanks to a team of researchers led by Sasa Jokic and Petr Novikov, construction workers may soon be made obsolete. A team from the Institute for Advanced Architecture Catalonia (IAAC) is currently tackling the challenge of making “mini-builders”: drones that are capable of applying 3-D printing at a large, architectural scale.

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Facade Expert Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido on the Perils of Homogenous Design

Leatop Plaza in Guangzhou, China. (Courtesy JAHN)

Leatop Plaza in Guangzhou, China. (Courtesy JAHN)

According to Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido, president of Chicago-based JAHN, contemporary facade design neglects one of the building envelope’s foremost responsibilities: storytelling. “There is a focus now on using the building massing to convey the key message,” he said. “However, I think it’s through the facade that we can bring a more compelling narrative about how the building functions.” As an example, Gonzalez-Pulido pointed to Mies van der Rohe’s One IBM Plaza, which he can see from his office. “When you look at the mechanical floors, they’re treated differently,” he said. “In the lobby, the glass is different. This is actually the responsibility of the facade—it’s more than a piece of glass and metal to cover the building.” Read More

The Music City’s New Urbanism: The Nine Projects Leading Nashville’s Transformation

Nashville at night. (joshunter / Flickr)

Nashville at night. (joshunter / Flickr)

For many, architecture isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when considering Nashville—it’s called the Music City for a reason. But there is more to Nashville than country songs, barbecue ribs, and the eponymous show on ABC. In recent years, the city of 600,000 has become a regional leader in smart urban design and distinctive architecture. New riverfront parks are transforming Nashville’s connection to the Cumberland River, bikeshare docks have appeared around downtown, bus rapid transit is in the works, and the city’s tallest tower is set to rise. And that’s just the start of it. Take a look at the city’s dramatic transformation and a peek at where it’s headed.

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Alexander Gorlin Wraps Supportive Housing in a Binary Skin

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Located in the Bronx, The Brook provides housing and support services for the formerly homeless and individuals living with HIV/AIDS. (Courtesy Alexander Gorlin Architects)

Located in the Bronx, The Brook provides housing and support services for the formerly homeless and individuals living with HIV/AIDS. (Courtesy Alexander Gorlin Architects)

An aluminum rain screen and locally-sourced brick articulate a two-part program.

The Brook, developed by Common Ground and designed by Alexander Gorlin Architects, is part of a new wave of affordable housing communities popping up all over the United States. Unlike the public housing projects of the mid-twentieth century, which focused exclusively on housing and tended to suffer from a lack of routine maintenance, The Brook, located in the Bronx, combines apartments and support services under one roof. This duality is manifested in the envelope’s contrasting material palette—dark grey brick for the residential spaces, raw aluminum over the community facilities. “The idea of the exterior was to symbolize, as well as reflect, the internal program of Common Ground as supportive housing,” said Alexander Gorlin. “It’s inspired in part by Le Corbusier and his idea of expressing the program on the facade, and expressing the public functions as a means of interrupting a repetitive facade.” Read More

SHoP Architects Designing Brooklyn’s Newest, Tallest Tower

The site of SHoP's future tower, next to the City Point development.

The site of SHoP’s future tower, next to the City Point development.

SHoP Architects has racked up another major project in Brooklyn. The firm behind the Barclays Center and the Domino Sugar Factory redevelopment, is designing Brooklyn’s newest, tallest tower. NY YIMBY spotted building permits for 340 Flatbush Avenue Extension in Downtown Brooklyn, where the firm’s 775-foot-tall, 495-unit building will rise.

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