Gensler, LOT-EK to Design Google’s Showroom of Floating Shipping Containers

© James Martin/CNET

UPDATE: The SF Gate reports that the architects of the Google Barge have now been revealed to be San Francisco-based firm Gensler and -based LOT-EK, a firm with experience adapting shipping containers for retail design. 

A mysterious construction project in the San Francisco Bay has been making waves for the past couple of weeks. Moored off Treasure Island, locals apparently refer to it as ‘the secret project’ – and, until now, that’s about as much as was known about it.

Despite months of rumors and complete radio silence from Google, spokespeople have finally released a statement on the project, stating: “Google Barge … A floating data center? A wild party boat? A barge housing the last remaining dinosaur? Sadly, none of the above. Although it’s still early days and things may change, we’re exploring using the barge as an interactive space where people can learn about new technology.”

While it’s a shame about the dinosaur, Google’s expansion into technology retail is possibly even more intriguing, as it’s entirely new turf for the company: retail .

More info and an artist’s rendering of what the barge could look like, after the break…

AD Interviews: LOT-EK

Not long ago we sat down with Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano of LOT-EK—a City- and Naples-based architectural design studio. Known for their work with shipping containers, they discuss the learning curve they have endured by using objects that fall outside of the typical materials specified in manuals. LOT-EK also explains that they have been influenced by the freedom exercised in contemporary art. In their attempt to look at the world through “different eyes,” they find that networking is indispensable since it “makes what [they] do relevant” and opens them up to new opportunities.

Widely acclaimed for the work on projects such as PUMA City, Pier 57 and Sanlitun South, LOT-EK has been practicing since 1993. Tolla and Lignano also teach at Columbia University’s GSAPP in New York, and at the MIT’s Graduate Department of Architecture, in Cambridge, MA.

Hear what they have to say about running a practice, studying architecture and balancing their projects in an increasingly globalized system in our interview. And check out LOT-EK’s projects on ArchDaily:

City Council Approves Redevelopment of NYC’s Historic Pier 57

Courtesy of Young Woo & Associates

’s City Council have unanimously backed a proposed plan to restore and redevelop the aging giant that is Pier 57. Built in 1952, the 300,000 square foot pier was hailed by Popular Mechanics as a ‘SuperPier’ for its vast size and unconventional construction, as most of the pier’s weight is supported by ‘floating’ air-filled concrete cassions. The pier was originally used as a bus depot by the New York City Transit Authority, however it has been lying vacant since 2003. The latest decision brings a concrete end to years of speculation as to what the fate of the pier would be.

Read more about the proposal after the break…

The Pros and Cons of Cargo Container Architecture

Photo by Håkan Dahlström - http://www.flickr.com/photos/dahlstroms/

With the green premise growing in popularity across the globe, more and more people are turning to cargo container structures for green alternatives. There are countless numbers of empty, unused shipping containers around the world just sitting on shipping docks taking up space. The reason for this is that it’s too expensive for a country to ship empty containers back to their origin. In most cases, it’s just cheaper to buy new containers from Asia. The result is an extremely high surplus of empty shipping containers that are just waiting to become a home, office, apartment, school, dormitory, studio, emergency shelter, and everything else. More information after the break.

APAP Open School / LOT-EK

Infamously known for their work with shipping containers (be sure to check out their Puma City previously featured on AD), American-firm LOT -EK has nearly completed the APAP Open School, in .  The containers are perched atop each other creating spaces beneath them for a public amphitheater, within them for educational functions and even on top of them for a long decked roof offering great views.

More images and more about the school after the break.

Pier 57 / LOT-EK + Young Woo & Associates

lot-ek_pier_57_01

The Hudson River Park Trust has recently announced the winning for New York City’s Pier 57, a long floating pier built on concrete caissons in 1952.  The pier, located in Chelsea at West 15th Street and West Street on the western edge of the Meat Packing District, is part of the Hudson River Park development.  New York firm Lot-EK with developer  Young Woo & Associates are set to design a rooftop park crowning a small shopping center of local artisan stores built with recycled shipping containers.  The center will also include a contemporary culture center with spaces for exhibitions, galleries, auctions and entertainment.

More about Pier 57 after the break.

MVRDV + 24 Architects on the future of Almere


The 24 teams with the client, Almere city officials and the project teams of MVRDV on site, photo by © Xander Remkes

We all know that the Dutch are experts on reclaiming land from the sea. And with all this new land, come new cities. One of these is Almere, a city founded in 1984, which is growing fast into becoming the fifth largest city in the Netherlands. This growing city is now into the process of consolidating a new center, Olympiakwartier, envisioned on a larger master plan for a sustainable city by Mecanoo.

By 2030, Almere expects to grow into a city with a stronger identity and a total of 350,000 inhabitants, which involves the building of 60,000 new homes and the creation of 100,000 new jobs for the expected 150,000 new inhabitants. For this, Amsterdam based housing association Housing Stadgenoot commissioned MVRDV to be planner for 60,000m2 work space, 120,000m2 housing (1,000 homes), 15,000m2 education, 2,000m2 commercial space, 2,640 parking spaces and various public spaces. This total has been split into 93 volumes of which MVRDV will 45. The plan demands individual development of the buildings: a dense mix of living and working leading to a complex urban condition. Retail, a public square and communal gardens are also part of the comprehensive plan which introduces inner city life to the mostly suburban typology of Almere. Flexibility is a key objective: All ground floors and part of the office and apartment buildings are designed to facilitate future change of use. In this way the owner, Stadgenoot, can adjust the district more and more to the needs of the growing new town and its inhabitants.

The remaining 48 buildings (500m2 to 5,000m2) are going to be designed by a selected group of 24 international practices, including established and emerging offices (see list after the break).

This project is very ambitious, with the potential of becoming a milestone on urban planning, apart from recent mega projects by groups of architects we have seen lately, which can be very innovative in terms of form or solving individual housing problems, but lack of a clear master plan that make all the individual architect’s efforts act as a whole. It sort of reminds me of the Weissenhof Estate, lets hope this one becomes an example for future architects.

PUMA City, Shipping Container Store / LOT-EK

© Danny Bright
© Danny Bright

Our green friends over Inhabitat just tipped us on a  new project by NYC/Napoli based office LOT-EK, a practice that has been doing an interesting job by reusing containers.

24 containers are put together to create a 3 storey store with over 11,000 sqf, including a bar/lounge area and 2 decks.

The store is currently at the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-2009, and it´s transported to each location (Alicante, Boston, Stockholm) and assembled quickly.

More pictures details after the jump.