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Chelsea Market Upzoning Approved by NYC Council

Plans for Chelsea Market along 10th Avenue; Courtesy of Jamestown Properties. Via Architect's Newspaper
Plans for Chelsea Market along 10th Avenue; Courtesy of Jamestown Properties. Via Architect's Newspaper

Construction has exploded along the High Line ever since it opened: condos hover over the rehabilitated track and look out onto the Hudson, while the new location of the Whitney Museum is making headway on the southern end of the park as Google moves into its NYC headquarters to a building just a few short blows away.  Now, the historic Chelsea Market may be looking at a facelift following approval from the New York City Council for increasing density in the building by developers, Jamestown Properties. The proposed vertical extension, which has made a brief appearance on a few architecture blogs, will provide the additional in demand office and retail space in the Chelsea neighborhood.

New United States Courthouse Competition Entry / Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design

Courtesy of  Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design
Courtesy of Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design

Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design and Gruen Associates have shared with us their second place proposal for the highly anticipated design-build competition for the new United States courthouse in Los Angeles, California. Envisioned as an icon within the city skyline, the triangular monolith provides a sustainable, 21st century courthouse that embodies the democratic qualities of dignity, stature, transparency, openness and accessibility. Located at a pivotal node connecting the Los Angeles Civic Center, the Broadway Historic District and Bunker Hill, the 550,000 square foot courthouse is surrounded by a lush civic space that plays an important role in the existing cityscape. Read the architect’s description after the break…

VIDEO: Federal Architecture

Democratic By Design is a short film, produced by the General Services Administration and narrated by Luke Russert, that tackles the issue of federal architecture. Buildings designed for the government typically have a familiar aesthetic. Washington, DC, is dominated by Neoclassical Architecture, building on the connotations of ancient Greek and Roman fora and temples as a symbol of democracy. But they perpetuate a sense of dominance and formality. Most of these buildings – city halls, courthouses, agency headquarters – were built in the 18th and 19th century, yet they leave behind a legacy and association in the architecture of the federal government.

US Census Bureau Headquarters / SOM
US Census Bureau Headquarters / SOM

On the contrary, government buildings built in the mid to late 20th century, specifically after 1962, have a more varied vernacular. This can be credited to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, aide to President John F. Kennedy. His one page document outlined guidelines for public architecture – an effort to contextualize and modernism government buildings. This video brings his words to life via well-known architects who have have designed federal buildings.

Join us after the break for a look at some of these buildings.

Never Built: Los Angeles

Is the American Dream Shifting Towards Density, In-fill Housing and Accessibility to Amenities?

Ipera / Atlas Architecture Consulting © Gürkan Akay
Ipera / Atlas Architecture Consulting © Gürkan Akay

A recent survey into the billing activity of architecture firms across the country has revealed a growing trend in homeowners’ preferences. The AIA Home Trends Survey released a series of charts, marking the rise between 2011 and 2012 of preferences for low maintenance, and energy efficiency home options with a rise in a desire for homes that have a proximity to neighborhood amenities. What this means is that home buyers are moving away from the auto-centric lifestyle of mid century suburbs and are coincidentally opting for the more sustainable choice where walking and public transportation may take preference. AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA, notes that in many areas, there has been a rise in interest in urban infill locations over exurbs, and a general push within communities for public accessibility and proximity to work places, retail options and open space. What is behind this trend? Is the influence of sustainable design breaking into the mainstream of the American home-buying conscience? Is sustainability changing the “American Dream”?

NYC Developers Race to the Top

© Adam Jackson
© Adam Jackson

It’s a race to the top as developers are reaching higher and higher with impressive glass skyscrapers that house exclusive apartments and panoramic views across Manhattan, level with some of the city’s tallest buildings.  Gary Barnett of Extell Development Co. is the man behind the 1,005 foot high One57 tower in Midtown Manhattan.  He announced last month that he would be developing the tallest residential building in New York City (without the help of a spire).  Adrian Smith, chosen as the architect for the job, is best known for his work on the Burj Dubai.  The new building, still in its early stages of design planning and financing, will tower over the Empire State Building at a planned 1600 feet, that’s just 176 feet shy of World Trade One, the tallest building in Manhattan.

Zaha Hadid commissioned to design Miami Skyscraper

The northern portion of the Biscayne Wall © Marc Averette via Wikipedia
The northern portion of the Biscayne Wall © Marc Averette via Wikipedia

The Miami Herald has just announced that Zaha Hadid will be designing her first skyscraper in the Western hemisphere in Miami: America’s Next Great Architectural City. The female powerhouse has been commissioned to transform a waterfront property, currently occupied by a BP Station at 1000 Biscayne Boulevard, predominantly into a residential high rise. The skyscraper will rise above the neighboring Museum Park and fill a void in the wall of towering condos, commonly referred to as the “Biscayne Wall”. Details of the design are expected to be released next year. This news comes shortly after Zaha’s loss to Norman Foster in an intense competition to design New York City’s next high-profile office tower on 425 Park Avenue. You can watch the A-list architects battle it out here as they present their ideas to the jury. As we reported last year, Zaha was also selected to design a Miami Beach parking garage at Collins Park, which was approved for construction by the Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board last month. Check out the preliminary renderings of the Collins Park garage, after the break…

ABI Reports Strongest Business Conditions Since 2007

ABI November 2012 via Calculated Risk
ABI November 2012 via Calculated Risk

The numbers are in and the American Institute of Architects’ November Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has revealed positive business conditions for all building sectors for the fourth consecutive month. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. Understanding this, the AIA is pleased to report that November has reached a five-year high with a score of 53.2, slightly up from 52.8 in October. Since August, the national billings index has continued to increased above 50.0 – the break-even point between contraction and growth – reflecting a steady rise in demand for design services. The West seems to be the only region in contraction, coming in at a score of 49.6. Additionally, November also sees the Project Inquiry Index at 59.6, marking the 47th straight month in which inquiries into architectural services has been increasing. “These are the strongest business conditions we have seen since the end of 2007 before the construction market collapse,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “The real question now is if the federal budget situation gets cleared up which will likely lead to the green lighting of numerous projects currently on hold. If we do end up going off the ‘fiscal cliff’ then we can expect a significant setback for the entire design and construction industry.” View the ABI highlights in greater detail, after the break…

AIA Releases Roadmap to Healthy Design

Local Leaders: Healthier Communities through Design; via AIA
Local Leaders: Healthier Communities through Design; via AIA

The AIA is joining numerous other city agencies in the promotion of healthy communities through intelligent design choices. A new document: Local Leaders: Healthier Communities through Design is a series of guidelines that offer architects and designers specific methods for the design of buildings and communities that encourage healthy lifestyle choices. Learn more after the break.

What Architecture Has to Say About Education: Three New Hampshire Schools by HMFH Architects

Never is the value of architecture so poignant, as when it becomes a tool to facilitate learning, development and exploration. Inspired by this video, which presents three new schools in Concord, New Hampshire that physically embody the educational philosophies of independence, collaboration, and creativity, we spoke with HMFH Architects to delve further into this vital question: how can architecture help children develop the early skills, creativity and inquisitiveness needed to become the independent and inspired adults of future generations? Find out after the break.

Mill Brook School: Concord, NH / HMFH Architects; Photographs: © 2012 Ed Wonsek McAuliffe Elementary School: Concord, NH / HMFH Architects; Photographs: © 2012 Ed Wonsek McAuliffe Elementary School: Concord, NH / HMFH Architects; Photographs: © 2012 Ed Wonsek Abbot-Downing School: Concord, NH / HMFH Architects; Photographs: © 2012 Ed Wonsek

The Pros & Cons of Revoking the DC Height Act

© Flickr User Rob Shenk
© Flickr User Rob Shenk

Earlier this week, Architect Robert K. Levy optimistically declared that the study which will evaluate the federal law limiting Washington building heights is a “win-win” situation for everyone involved. Writing for The Washington Post, Levy states: “By conducting a detailed, comprehensive city-wide study, the D.C. Office of Planning and the NCPC will produce analyses and recommendations leading to a fine-grain, strategic plan for building heights across the District.  Ultimately this study is a win-win proposition for all stakeholders.” But can the situation really be so rosy? While Congress spends 10 months studying and debating the possibility of making alterations to the capital’s zoning policies, urbanists, planners and citizens have already begun weighing in on the matter – and opinions are decidedly divided. Many question the true motivations behind the possible changes, and whether those changes will truly improve the livability and sustainability of the city  - or just alter it beyond recognition. We’ve gathered both sides of the argument so you can make your own informed decision – after the break…

Miami: America’s Next Great Architectural City?

Coconut Grove Condo / BIG; Image via DesignBoom
Coconut Grove Condo / BIG; Image via DesignBoom

Staten Island: A Microcosm of New York’s Post-Sandy Controversies

Hurricane Sandy damage north of Seaside, N.J. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. © Governor’s Office / Tim Larsen
Hurricane Sandy damage north of Seaside, N.J. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. © Governor’s Office / Tim Larsen

The power and destruction of Hurricane Sandy made New Yorkers acknowledge just how vulnerable the city is to natural disaster.  The storm pummeled Queens’ and Brooklyn’s shores, destroyed and flooded homes while Manhattan’s lower half was submerged and plunged into darkness for a week.  But arguably, Staten Island, New York City’s Forgotten Borough, received the brunt of the storm and the slowest level of recovery.  In the midst of the controversial clean-up, the New York City Economic Development Corporation decided to plow through the tragedy with pursuant talks of the planned developments on the St. George waterfront in Staten Island.  While some residents may be offended that the subject of the talks was not of the EDC’s recovery programs, the real controversy is the way in which the EDC is planning to go forward with its proposal.  It is planning to build the world’s largest ferris wheel along a vulnerable coast line that just saw damage from one of the worst storms to hit NYC in recent history. Read more on this development after the break.

Video: Glithero / Design Miami

Despite Controversy, Michael Maltzan Architecture's "Lens" Will Go On

© Michael Maltzan Architecture
© Michael Maltzan Architecture

Despite petitions and pending lawsuits against the project, the St. Petersburg City Council declared last night that Michael Maltzan Architecture's $50 million re-design of the city pier will go on. 

The project, known as "The Lens," has hit speed-bumps due to local dissidents, who have been vocally wary of the new Pier's price-tag/design and have called for a voter referendum. However, the architects have been sensitive to the process; since first winning the competition in January (beating out both BIG and West 8), the firm has taken part in local workshops in order to get community input, making some significant changes to the original design. 

After receiving local criticism that the Pier include more things "to do" and more shading, the firm has adjusted the design to include two restaurants, shaded balconies, and - in order to improve access - a road that can support service vehicles and a tram. Most noticeably, the plan for an underwater reef garden, the signature feature which gave the project its name, has had to be scratched: scientists have determined that a reef garden would be unrealistic with Tampa Bay's dark water

Last night's 7-1 vote determined that the project will now receive funding in smaller, pre-approved increments in order to safeguard against potential legal complications. However, no mater the outcome, the closure and the demolition of the current St. Petersburg Pier will take place between May and August 2013; if all goes to plan for Michael Maltzan Architecture, "The Lens" will open in summer 2015.

See updated Renderings for "The Lens," and a really cool video, after the break...

© Michael Maltzan Architecture According to thenewstpetepier.com, "Adjacent to parking facilities and located on land at the base of the Pier, the Hub will be the primary retail and restaurant destination for the new Pier. An elevated walkway along the water’s edge will offer unparalleled views of the dramatic Pier canopy, and space will be provided for retail, restaurant and other concessions." Photo © Michael Maltzan Architecture. © Michael Maltzan Architecture © Michael Maltzan Architecture

NYC Plans On Designer Shipping Containers for Next Disaster

Puma City Shipping Container Store  © Danny Bright
Puma City Shipping Container Store © Danny Bright

Shipping container architecture has gained a lot of ground over the past few years for its simplicity, affordability and flexibility.  Yes the very same containers that make transatlantic voyages and are carted around hitched to trucks have become a tool for architects to design restaurants, to serve as retail or pavilions and even homes.  According to an article by Matt Chaban on the New York Observer, NYC plans to prepare for the next disaster with apartments built out of shipping containers to be used as disaster relief shelters. Join us after the break for more.

Logan Center for the Arts, University of Chicago / Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects

NE View © Tom Rossiter
NE View © Tom Rossiter

Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects’ highly anticipated multidisciplinary arts center has opened at the University of Chicago in Illinois. Serving as a landmark on the south end of campus, the 184,000 square foot Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts is the new home to UChicago’s academic and extracurricular programs in cinema and media studies, creative writing, music, theater and performance studies, and the visual arts. Inspired by the “flat prairies of the Midwest and the great towers of Chicago”, the new arts hub is comprised of a light-filled glass and stone tower and a three-story “podium” with a saw-tooth roof. The 170-foot tower houses a performance penthouse, screening room, rooftop deck, classrooms, rehearsal rooms, and performance labs, while the podium features studio space, music practice rooms, workshops, a café, a digital media center, production and editing labs, two theaters, and a 474-seat performance hall. The University is pursuing LEED Silver Certification for the Logan Center, as the design features regionally sourced materials, a “green roof,” and solar panels. More images and the architects’ description after the break…

Winners of the Future Prentice Competition Announced

First Prize: "The Buildings are sleeping, you should go and wake them up, she says."
First Prize: "The Buildings are sleeping, you should go and wake them up, she says."

Amidst the longstanding, heated battled to save Bertrand Goldberg’s iconic Prentice Woman’s Hospital, the results of the 2012 Chicago Prize Competition: Future Prentice have been announced! Presented by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, in collaboration with Chicago Architectural Club and the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the international competition intended to act as a platform for public debate about the future of the controversial Chicago landmark. More information and the winning proposals after the break…