Thirty years ago, on my first visit to India, I glanced over an ordinary wall. The ground fell away and was replaced by an elaborate, man-made chasm the length and depth of which I couldn’t fathom. It was disorienting and even transgressive; we are, after all, conditioned to look up at architecture, not down into it, and I had no clue as to what I was looking at. Descending into the subterranean space only augmented the disorientation, with telescoping views and ornate, towering columns that paraded five stories into the earth. At the bottom, above-ground noises became hushed, harsh light had dimmed, and the intense mid-day heat cooled considerably. It was like stepping into another world.
Los Angeles’ beloved downtown icon Angel’s Flight has reopened for the first time in four years after undergoing extensive renovations to improve the safety and longevity of the attraction. Sometimes referred to as the “world’s shortest railroad,” the hillside structure is actually a funicular system – both cars share a single cable and are propelled forward in part with the potential energy afforded from the counterweight of the opposing car.
The long-awaited replacement for New York City’s longest bridge, the Tappan Zee, is set to open to the public on Friday, announced Governor Andrew Cuomo. After four years of construction, the first of the $4 billion dollar project’s twin two-span cable-stayed structures will welcome automobile as well as pedestrian and bicycle traffic for the first time.
Located within the existing James A. Farley Building (across from the existing Penn Station entrance), the new 255,000-square-foot Train Hall will serve as a new concourse for Amtrak and Long Island Railroad passengers, while an additional 700,000-square-feet will be dedicated to commercial, retail and dining spaces.
Against the backdrop of an ever-increasing number of its farmers committing suicides, and its cities crumbling under intensifying pressure on their water resources—owing to their rapidly growing populations—India has revived its incredibly ambitious Interlinking of Rivers (ILR) project which aims to create a nation-wide water-grid twice the length of the Nile. The $168 billion project, first envisioned almost four decades ago, entails the linkage of thirty-seven of the country’s rivers through the construction of thirty canals and three-thousand water reservoirs. The chief objective is to address India’s regional inequity in water availability: 174 billion cubic meters of water is proposed to be transported across river basins, from potentially water-surplus to water-deficit areas.
The project is presented by the Indian government as the only realistic means to increase the country’s irrigation potential and per-capita water storage capacity. However, it raises ecological concerns of gargantuan proportions: 104,000 hectares of forest land will be affected, leading to the desecration of natural ecosystems. Experts in hydrology also question the scientific basis of treating rivers as “mere conduits of water.” Furthermore, the fear of large-scale involuntary human displacement—an estimated 1.5 million people—likely to be caused by the formation of water reservoirs is starting to materialize into a popular uprising.
Be seen by 1,000,000 A|N readers and Members of the A/E/C Design Community! Our Fifth Annual Best Of Design Awards is a unique project-based awards program that showcases great buildings and building elements.
The world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge has opened to the public in Switzerland, offering adrenaline seekers unprecedented views of Europe’s most famous mountain, the Matterhorn. Spanning 494 meters (1620 feet), the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge cuts the 2-day travel distance between the towns of Zermatt and Grächen by nearly 3 hours. The bridge spans the country’s “deepest cut valley,” reaching a height of 85 meters (279 feet) above the ground at its highest point.
At times, Landscape design lacks proper consideration or its overlooked within architecture, as a result of current but preconceived notions within architectural practice and education that privilege building over site, or the constructed over the existing. While at face value, landscape is treated as an abject and constant entity of sorts, the reality is that it possesses a layered complexity of patterns and ecosystems, much of which is increasingly impacted by our own actions, more significantly than what meets the eye.
At the same time, the definition of landscape is constantly evolving to encompass a greater number of influences and factors. We have cultural, built and ecological landscapes, which influence one another and come about as a result of the intersection between the architecture and the environment that we are presented with. As a result, it is important to view terrain in a more holistic light, acknowledging its ecological underpinnings and well as the anthropological effects it is subject to, both physically and theoretically. Here is a list of five online resources, which investigate the interdisciplinary nature of landscape design and its relation to architecture and culture.
Major changes are on the way for Los Angeles’ Union Station that will improve connectivity between the stations various train, metro and bus lines. In a new video released by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority, one possible future – a ring-shaped passenger concourse floating over the train platforms below – is visualized for the first time.
The Driverless Future Challenge's Winning Entry Uses Plug-and-Play System to Reclaim Public Space for Pedestrians
Of the four finalists selected for Blank Space’s “Driverless Future Challenge”, which was announced last month, “Public Square” has emerged as the winning entry, with a plug-and-play scheme to transform New York’s public realm for its streets and pedestrians. Designed by FXFOWLE and Sam Schwartz Engineering, the proposal was selected by a panel of New York City commissioners, for its response to the competition brief with a flexible system that accommodates a variety of public space typologies, while creating a harmonious coexistence between pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles.
These vast concrete dishes, which can be found along the northern and easterly British coastline, are sound mirrors. Originally designed to capture the sounds of incoming enemy aircraft as they approached the United Kingdom from across the English Channel and the North Sea (although one was also built at Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq in Malta), these military listening devices acted as a rudimentary early warning system in the decades before Radar was developed and deployed.
Now in its sixth year in its home city of Prague, reSITE is a conference that has consistently taken a broad view of urban issues, bringing together the largest concentration of the world’s top architects, urbanists, urban planners, landscape architects, and economists under umbrella topics such as Cities in Migration (2016), The Sharing City (2015), and Cities and Landscapes of the New Economy (2014). However, when it comes to events like this, such broad-ranging ambition can be a double-edged sword, flattening and obscuring the nitty gritty details of complex issues. Perhaps reflecting a concern that cities and the challenges they face be seen in full, reSITE 2017’s chosen theme was In/Visible City.
That particular lens reflects a shift in recent years for events such as this to bring into focus that which has typically remained firmly out of view: infrastructure. An allusion to the technical was manifest in the conference’s visual identity: a human heart, with pipe-like arteries and vegetation growing in between the cracks. The heart is to the body like infrastructure is to the city – but just as the body is much more than its circulatory system, the infrastructure cities depend upon is not limited to the obvious, billion-dollar construction projects that make headlines. Urban infrastructure spans all scales and numerous disciplines, ranging from design details to the small print in city policy. In/visible City brought forth the invisible features that give shape to the visible city demonstrating that cultural vitality, social fabric and citizen participation are infrastructural as well.
Technology company Pavegen has unveiled the world’s first “Smart Street” in London’s West End that utilizes the company’s unique kinetic paving slabs to generate energy from pedestrians’ footsteps. But unlike earlier Pavegen installations deployed in cities like Washington DC and Rio de Janeiro (which uses the panels as the foundation for a soccer field), the London Smart Street comes with its very own app – giving visitors precise information about the power they are generating, and encouraging use by offering up store vouchers in return for steps.
Architecture, as both a profession and the built environment, currently finds itself at a crossroads in trying to adapt to a world in constant flux. Cities and its people face continuous socio-economic, political and environmental change on a daily basis, prompting a necessary rethink in the evolution of sustainable urbanization. With a focus on housing, society and cultural heritage, RIBA’s International Conference, Change in the City, aims to offer insight into the “New Urban Agenda” and how architects can play an interdisciplinary role in future urban development.
Speaking in an interview ahead of the conference, Norman Foster is a strong advocate for a careful consideration of what aspects of urban life need to be prioritized when designing cities of the future. For an increasingly global society, Foster stresses the need for architecture to surpass buildings and tackle its greatest obstacle – global warming, honing in on its roots and factors involved to create viable urban solutions.
In response to the Yangjaegogae Eco Bridge Design Competition commissioned by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, SLOPEWALK is a mountain-inspired bridge designed by a Lithuanian team, KILD, proposing a structure evoking the “pictorial passage through the southern slopes of the two discontinued mountain peaks of Mt. Umyeon and Maljukgeori Parks.” Seeing a current infrastructural void, the project aims to unite the two neighboring mountain parks over the Gyeongbu Expressway, as a continuation of the sloped landscape.
Four teams have been selected as finalists in the “Driverless Future Challenge.” Organized by Blank Space with the City of New York and NY Tech Meetup, the competition asked teams to envision future strategies for implementation of autonomous transit in New York City.
Participants were tasked with evaluating the future of autonomous transportation through the four principles outlined by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s OneNYC initiative:
- Growth - Improve city infrastructure, modulate traffic, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, eliminate traffic lights, autonomous deliveries.
- Equity - Making sure all citizens benefit from autonomous technology, focusing on accessibility, focusing on transit deserts, creating new jobs.
- Sustainability - Reduce need for parking, curbing emissions, increase carpooling, introducing micro-transit, new green spaces and bike lanes, renewable energy sources.
- Resilience - A more durable and safer transit system, reducing drunk driving, “Vision Zero,” pedestrian-first, faster emergency services.
Entries were received from more than 25 countries, proposing ideas for everything from driverless food carts and a fully-autonomous MTA transit system, to enhanced use of NYC’s 311 system as a driverless dispatching center, to Link NYC Wifi stations that become stops for autonomous micro-buses. The four finalist teams were selected by a multidisciplinary jury featuring top architects including Jeffrey Inaba (Inaba Williams), Odile Decq (Studio Odile Decq) and Jürgen Mayer H. (J. MAYER H.).
The four finalists include:
Foster + Partners and Juan Cabanelas have unveiled updated designs for the refurbishment and extension of the Ourense FFCC Station in Galicia, Spain. The firm was originally selected as the winners of an international competition for the design in 2011 with an expansive new structure spanning the tracks. The new scheme will instead utilize the existing station building, expanding with a series of columned canopies arranged to create a new urban square and easily-accessible multi-modal hub.
New York City’s fast-tracked Penn Station transformation project is moving forward, as Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced the closing of the $1.6 billion deal to redevelop a large section of the James A. Farley Post Office into the new “Moynihan Train Hall.”
The project will consist of a new 255,000-square-foot terminal for the Long Island Railroad and Amtrak, increasing Penn Station’s total concourse floor space by more than 50 percent, while an additional 700,000 square feet will be developed for commercial, retail and dining spaces to create a new mixed-use civic space for West Manhattan.