Amazon renderings released this week in a Seattle design review board meeting would have made the late Buckminster Fuller proud. They reveal new plans for an additional structure on the proposed three-block, three-tower Amazon complex in downtown Seattle: three five-story conjoined biodomes up to 95 feet tall, with the largest 130 feet in diameter. These glass and steel domes, envisioned by local firm NBBJ, would provide 65,000 square feet of interior flex work and brainstorm areas for Amazon employees, while leaving abundant space to accommodate trees and diverse plantings. Inspiration came from nature found indoors—in greenhouses, conservatories, and convention centers around the world. From Renzo Piano’s “Bolla” in Genoa, to the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken in Brussels. (Fun fact: the largest dome in the United States—an indoor sports arena—is in fact in Washington State, in Tacoma, a city south of Seattle.)
The ongoing efforts of artists and designers to reignite the spark of downtown development in aging industrial cities face no simple task. But as architects and developers begin to put pencil to paper, the best public art projects draw on the spiritual side of that renewal.
Flint, Michigan’s inaugural Free City Festival, held May 3-5, did just that when it revived a mile-long stretch of now-razed Chevrolet plants with public art, transformational lighting displays and a reverberating gospel choir.
For the final installment of AN‘s New York Design Week Q+A series, we talked with Todd Bracher about his Nest and forthcoming Asa collections, his design philosophy, and inspirations. And Kevin Stark stopped in to visit, as well.
How did your collaboration with HBF come about?
I reached out originally to Kevin Stark a few years ago, who was the vice president of design at that time. I’ve been in the [design] business for 15 years but worked mostly overseas, so I wanted to find the right partner [stateside]. HBF entered my radar because they produce European craftsmanship; their products are really high quality. A year later a mutual friend reintroduced us and that ignited the relationship.
All images courtesy TimNelson3D.com / Union Studio Architecture & Community Design
Not unfamiliar with daring urban design endeavors, Providence, RI is gearing up for a $20 million transformation of Kennedy Plaza, a major transportation hub and park dating to 1848 in the city’s downtown. The overhaul designed by Providence-based Union Studio Architects was announced in late April and calls for upholding the plaza’s principal position as a public-transit terminal, preserving the 2002 intermodal station. Change in the site’s layout will relocate bus kiosks to the perimeter of the plaza so as to create supplementary space for public and private activities to enliven the space.
For nearly a decade now, New Yorkers have been turning their focus on revitalizing the city’s waterfront, a trend that has only grown in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. WXY Architecture’s East River Blueway and Bloomberg’s Vision 2020 are two examples of initiatives that seek to build sustainable, accessible, and engaging shorelines for the city. But with summer approaching and the days heating up, what city dwellers may want most from their estuaries is a cool, clean dip. Brooklyn-based design firms Family Architects and PlayLab hope to make that dream possible, but they still need $250,000 to get started.
On the opening day of the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) at the Javits Center, AN sat down with Christian Rasmussen, the head of design for Fritz Hansen, to discuss the company’s design strategies, its philosophy on collaboration, and to test out the new Favn and Ro seating that has just been released in the U.S.
What are your impressions of ICFF?
It’s getting better every year and I’m seeing more interesting stuff. I was surprised last year and this one is even better. Last month we were in Milan but it’s so big. I like that ICFF is more focused and offers a tighter overlook. You can spend more time in each booth as opposed to Milan where you have to move very fast to see everything. Overall it’s really positive.
Yesterday, AN reported on the incredible new entertainment complex that millionaire James Goldstein is building next to John Lautner’s Sheats Goldstein Residence in Beverly Hills. But even without an adjacent nightclub, the house often hosts splashy events, the most recent of which was the latest art/architecture installation that’s part of artist Xavier Veilhan’s Architectones series. As he did at Richard Neutra’s VDL House and Pierre Koenig’s Case Study House 21, Veilhan created several site specific installations for the site, ranging from a life size statue of John Lautner to a series of cords stretching over the home’s pool. The project was curated by architect Francois Perrin and organized by Galerie Perrotin.
AN just heard from MOCA that their embattled show, A New Sculpturalism, Contemporary Architecture in Southern California, is moving ahead. The date has been pushed back from June 2 to June 16, but it will still take place inside MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary, presumably featuring the same roster of both emerging and star architects, minus Frank Gehry, of course. The show had been put on hold for several weeks for reasons that vary according to whom you ask. Curator Christopher Mount had blamed mismanagement at MOCA, while others had blamed apprehension about the show’s direction, and Gehry’s withdrawal.