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Domino Sugar Factory Master Plan Development / SHoP Architects

© SHoP Architects
© SHoP Architects

Last Summer, Two Trees bought the Domino Sugar Factory site in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn to be developed into a new mix-use master plan. The previously proposed scheme by Rafael Viñoly Architects (seen here) consisted of four large towers along the East River water front, but the design was largely disliked by the community, and as a result Two Trees hired SHoP Architects along with James Corner Field Operations to have a go at the design. The result is a wildly different scheme, consisting of five towers with 60% more open space along the water front, 631,000 square feet of new office space (versus the previous 98,000 square feet), and over two-thousand new apartments. This marks a huge change for what could be considered as the most important waterfront real estate in Brooklyn, and potentially become the new image of Brooklyn for the whole world.

ULI Announces Finalist Teams for 2013 Student Urban Design Competition

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) has selected the finalist teams in the eleventh annual ULI Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition. Graduate-level student teams representing Harvard University, Yale University, a joint team from Ball State University and Purdue University, as well as another join team from Kansas State University, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and the University of Kansas are all advancing to the final round of competition, scheduled to take place in March and April. This year’s finalists were charged with proposing a long-term development plan for downtown Minneapolis that creates value for property owners, city residents, and the greater Twin Cities region.

Smithsonian Hires BIG to Rethink Historic D.C. Campus

The Smithsonian Institution has commissioned the innovative practice of Bjarke Ingles to reimagine the heart of its antiquated Washington D.C. campus. The Danish architect has agreed to an eight- to 12- month, $2.4 million contract to draft the first phase of a master plan that seeks to dissolve the notable impediments and discontinuous pathways that plagues the area.   

More on this news after the break...

Refurbishing America's Shopping Mall

One thing about a recession is that it accelerates the demise of dying trends and struggling establishments. In this case, it is America’s beloved shopping malls, which have been slowly in decline since its peak popularity in 1990. Now, in the wake of the 2008 economic catastrophe, American cities are riddled with these abandoned shopping meccas, from the mall to big box stores and shopping strips, whose oversize parking lots are equally as useless as the spaces themselves. The question is, how can we effectively repurpose these spaces?

A perfect example after the break...

Which Bold Idea Should Win Bloomberg's Mayors Challenge?

During a time of paralizing political turmoil, local leaders are stepping up to fulfill their role as pragmatic problem-solvers and combating the tough challenges - such as economic growth, environmental protection, public safety and poverty - facing our cities today. This empowering phenomenon is highlighted by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge, a competition designed to further inspire America’s mayors and local leaders to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life.

Over 300 cities across the nation took the challenge and 20 finalists were selected in November. Now, it is your turn to vote on the idea you believe to have the greatest potential for impact. Five bold ideas will be selected in the coming weeks, each receiving national and local recognition. In addition, the winning city will receive a $5,000,000 grand prize and four other cities will receive $1,000,000 to help implement their ideas.

The proposals after the break...

Ezra Stoller: Beyond Architecture

Now on view at the Yossi Milo Gallery through March 2, rarely-seen images by modernist architectural photographer Ezra Stroller (American, 1915-2004) captures a Post-War American landscape with stunning images of industry, technology, transportation and working class Americans. 

Beyond Architecture covers the full range of Stoller’s work, including photographs commissioned by Fortune, Architectural Forum, and House Beautiful magazines in the 1940s and for commercial projects for IBM, Upjohn Pharmaceuticals and CBS in the 1940s and 1950s. Included are photographs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s John Hancock Building, Chicago, and the United Nations Headquarters, designed by an international team of architects led by Wallace K. Harrison and including Oscar Niemeyer and Le Corbusier.

A selection of these images after the break...

Developing Adaptable Housing for the Elderly, Also a Path to Sustainability

In recent years there has been a lot of talk in the United States about our aging population in terms of social security funds and medicare.  We have asked how we should deal with the impending problem that our elderly will outnumber the population that can take of them.  While speculations for a solution have generally settled within the realm of the economy, urban planners and architects are asking a different set of questions and looking for solutions regarding how we design.  It is important to note, that while most of the discussion has been framed about the aging "baby-boomer" generation, Jack Rowe, speaking at the symposium for Designing Homes and Neighborhoods for an Aging Population in Washington, DC, pointed out that this concern is a conservative estimate of the bigger problem in our "demographic transformation".  In fact, the trend is far more expansive; medical advancements and a longer life expectancy mean that for the next few generations each aging population is expected to outlive its parents and will exceed the population of its children.  This makes the issue at hand a more over-arching concern, or as Rowe later states, an issue that all members of society must face.

This is why we must think about architecture and urban planning in terms of adaptability for the aging, as we have already starting thinking about it in terms of handicapped accessibility.  More after the break.

Preservationists Surrender to Hopeless Battle for Prentice

In response to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks’ decision to reject landmark status to Prentice Woman’s Hospital for the second time in three months, the two preservationist groups challenging the City of Chicago have withdrawn their lawsuits. This eliminates the last barrier standing in Northwestern University’s way to demolish the historic, Bertrand Goldberg structure for a new biomedical research facility. 

“We felt that we had done as much as we possibly could to demonstrate the significance of the building and ways to reuse,” stated Christina Morris, a senior field officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We just couldn’t see that we’d have any other outcome.”

For many, this news is disheartening as architects and preservationists from around the globe have fought in solidarity for much of the past year in an attempt to illustrate the importance of this one-of-a-kind structure. 

More after the break...

LA Architecture School Boasts Stimulating Post-professional Programs

Two dynamic post-graduate programs offered by the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in Los Angeles have been charged with examining core contemporary issues facing architecture today. Spanning topics from advanced manufacturing methodologies and new building systems, to urban planning and design challenges faced globally, these post-professional tracks allow students to rethink architecture and design through the creative lens of the SCI-Arc community. 

The architecture school’s Emerging Systems, Technologies & Media (ESTm) and Future Initiatives (SCIFI) programs are conceived as intensive one-year (three semesters) post-professional degrees in architecture, functioning as think tanks and research engines within the larger framework of the school. 

Situ Studio's 'Heartwalk' Opens in Times Square

Just in time for Valentine's Day, Situ Studio has unveiled the fifth edition of Times Square’s annual Heartwalk installation - a heart-shaped “room within the city” made of salvaged Sandy debris. Inspired by the “collective experience of Hurricane Sandy and the love that binds people together during trying times,” Heartwalk begins as two weathered ribbons of wooden planks that gradually lift to form an illuminated heart enclosure in the middle of Duffy Square. 

People are already falling in love, as you can see Instagram's #heartwalktsq is filling up with images of elated New Yorkers standing within the “heart of New York City”.  

More images after the break...

The AIA Elevates 122 Members and Seven International Architects to the College of Fellows

The 2013 Jury of Fellows from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) elevated 122 AIA members to its prestigious College of Fellows, an honor awarded to members who have made significant contributions to the profession. The 2013 Fellows will be honored at an investiture ceremony at the 2013 National AIA Convention and Design Exposition in Denver.

BIG’s West 57th Pyramid Wins Final Approval

© BIG
© BIG

After an “arduous” public review and a heated debate over affordable housing, New York’s City Council has unanimously awarded final approval to BIG’s tetrahedral-shaped West 57th apartment building in Manhattan. As reported by Crain’s New York Business, a compromise has been made to include 173 affordable housing units within the 32-story, 750-unit residential building and the neighboring industrial building that will be converted into 100 additional rental apartments. As you may recall, the community board and Councilwoman Gail Brewer initially threatened to “torpedo the project” if the apartments were only made affordable for a 35 year period. However, Durst apparently won them over by contributing one million dollars into an affordable housing fund. 

"The good news, which is the matra of my office and community board No. 4, is there will be, yes, by law, 35 years of income-restricted affordable housing," stated City Councilwoman Brewer, who represents the area.

University-driven Urban Economies Proposer, based on Brookings Institution Report

Think the best way to promote the economic and creative development of a city is to build stadiums and and shopping malls? Think again. In a recent article in the New York Times, Steve Lohr reveals the findings of a study from the Brookings Institution that looks into where and why specific cities emerge as hubs of creativity and innovation.  By studying the patent filings of the United States' 370 metropolitan areas, the study revealed that cities with the most innovation were centers of education and research.  San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California; Burlington-South Burlington, Vermont.; Rochester, Minnesota; Corvallis, Oregon; and Boulder, Colorado topped the list as the "output of innovation.  Lohr suggests that this data can help promote policies that encourage urban development for economic feedback.

More after the break.

Foster Responds to Kimmelman’s “Offensive” Diatribe Regarding the New York Public Library

The New York Public Library’s (NYPL) main building on Fifth Avenue, is a Beaux-Arts masterpiece designed by architects Carrère & Hastings. Image via Flickr User CC wallyg.
The New York Public Library’s (NYPL) main building on Fifth Avenue, is a Beaux-Arts masterpiece designed by architects Carrère & Hastings. Image via Flickr User CC wallyg.

When applying “major surgery” to a beloved, 20th century “masterpiece”, you’re going to face some harsh criticism. Such is the case for Norman Foster, as the legendary British architect has been receiving intense backlash from New York’s toughest critics for his proposed renovation to the New York Public Library. First, the late Ada Louise Huxtable exclaimed, “You don’t “update” a masterpiece.” Now, the New York Time’s architecture critic Michael Kimmelman claims the design is “not worthy” of Foster and believes the rising budget to be suspect. 

More on Kimmelman's critique and Foster’s response after the break...

2013 Rudy Bruner Award Finalists Announced

Courtesy of Rudy Bruner Award
Courtesy of Rudy Bruner Award

Celebrating those who transform urban problems into creative solutions since 1987, the biennial Rudy Bruner Award (RBA) has announced the 2013 finalists. The prize aims to illuminate the complex process of urban placemaking by seeking out often overlooked urban exemplars whose existence heightens the richness and diversity of American cities. 

In celebration of their achievement, one $50,000 Gold Medal award and four $10,000 Silver Medals will be awarded to the finalists in May. 

The 2013 Rudy Bruner Award finalists are:

The Design Implications of President Obama's Commitment to Climate Change and Sustainable Energy

January 21, 2013, Inaugural Speech; Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson
January 21, 2013, Inaugural Speech; Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

This past Monday, President Obama made climate change and sustainable energy the focal points of his Inaugural Address when he declared that choosing to ignore these key environmental issues "would betray our children and future generations." This is the first time in the last few months that the President has taken a firm stand for the future of our Earth, a direct result of Super Storm Sandy and a smart choice to reveal controversial policies only after re-election. Although Monday morning was not the time to outline a specific political strategy, President Obama made it very clear that this time around, denial of scientific judgment and Congressional opposition would not be reasons for failure to act.

While this is a sentiment easier said than done and there is doubtlessly a long and difficult road ahead for the President and his administration. The White House has revealed that it plans to focus on what it can do to capitalize on natural gas production as an alternative to coal, on "reducing emissions from power plants, [increasing] the efficiency of home appliances and [on having] the federal government itself produce less carbon pollution" (NYTimes). According to the New York Times, they aim to adopt new energy efficiency standards for not only home appliances but for buildings as well, something that should spark the interests of architects and urban planners already committed to designing with climate change and sustainable energy in mind.

More after the break...

Chicago's Cook County Aims to Eradicate Demolition Waste

Image via Cook County
Image via Cook County

Cook County, Illinois, recently brought the elimination of construction waste to a new level by creating the first demolition debris ordinance in the Midwest. This groundbreaking ordinance requires most of the debris created from demolition to be recycled and reused instead of being sent to the landfill. The ordinance helps contribute to Cook County’s zero waste goal, part of the Solid Waste Plan Update.

The new law states that at least 7 percent of suburban construction and demolition debris must be recycled, and an additional 5 percent must be reused on residential properties. This new legislation will have a great impact as it affects about 2.5 million suburban Cook County residents.

More after the break...

Massive Waterfront Redevelopment Receives Green Light in Washington D.C.

Master Plan © Perkins Eastman
Master Plan © Perkins Eastman

Hoffman‐Madison Waterfront, the master developer of the 3.2 million square foot Southwest Waterfront project - “The Wharf” - that stretches across 27 acres of land along the historic Washington Channel, has announced the approval of its Phase1 Planned Unit Development (PUD) by the District of Columbia Zoning Commission. The Zoning Commission’s action approves all of the architectural designs and specific plans for each parcel of the project’s first phase encompassing 1.5 million square feet of residential, hotel, office and retail uses along with three piers, numerous open spaces, gathering places and a 3‐acre waterfront park. 

“The unanimous approval last night by the commissioners participating in the hearings is exhilarating. It creates momentum for ground breaking later this year,” said Monty Hoffman, Managing Member of Hoffman‐Madison Waterfront. “After more than six years of planning and substantial investment, we are preparing to launch one of the highest profile redevelopments in the country. We are ready to put shovels in the ground for this $2 billion redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront.” 

More on Washington D.C.’s Southwest Waterfront project after the break.