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D Magazine
Cities around the world are trying to adopt new measures to ensure that everything their residents need is available within a 20-minute walk or bike

Many of Dallas’s urban challenges can be summed up in a single term: land use. Whether we are talking about affordable housing or public transportation, income inequality or fixing streets, quality public schools or walkability, at its core, we are really always talking about land use.

Our massive investment in light rail doesn’t work? That’s because the city has developed with insufficient density around stations to make them useful. We can’t afford to fix the streets? That’s because our low-density development model means we have more street surface area than tax base to pay for it, and our highway system has made it easy for new investment to continually seek-out cheaper, under-developed locations outside the city. Our schools are underfunded? That’s because for 70 years land use decisions have allowed urban neighborhood to erode and an endless succession of competing suburbs to spring up to siphon off students, teachers, and taxes from the inner city. At the end of the day, all of Dallas’ urban problems are land use problems.

Which is why a new trend that is being adopted by a number of cities around the world caught my eye. It’s called the “20-minute neighborhood.” The concept is incredibly simple, and yet it promises to solve many of these problems listed above in one fell swoop. What if everything you needed from the city during your day-to-day life was located within a 20-minute walk or bike of your front door? We’re talking groceries, job, social centers, schools–everything. Twenty minutes away, tops. Sounds pretty convenient, right? It would be nice to walk to the grocery store, walk to pick up your kids from school, bike to a concert on a Friday night. But while 20-minute neighborhoods sound, at first, like convenient, fun places to live, their implications are much more profound.

That’s because the idea of 20-minute neighborhoods strike directly at the cause of so many urban issues: land use. What if cities began to regulate their land use so that every corner of a city was measured by their ability to ensure that basic daily needs could be met via a 20-minute walk? That’s the goal in Portland, which has set out to make it so 90 percent of Portland residents live in “20-minute neighborhoods” by 2030 as part of its climate action plan. The concept has been bouncing around for a long time. Back in 2010, The Atlantic looked at the effort not long after it was first introduced and pointed out that the idea was being tasked with taking aim at a whole host of urban challenges:

The 20-minute neighborhood plan is a part of Portland’s long-term strategy to manage the challenges that face many urban environments across the country, including rising energy costs, population growth, roadway congestion, and demand for expensive public transit to connect more and more distant suburbs.

As cities around the world create their own climate action plans to respond to the existential threat of global climate change, we’re seeing 20-minute neighborhoods pop up as part of that solution as well. Melbourne, Barcelona, London, and Paris all have some version of the 20-minute–or 15-minute, or “superblock”–as part of their short- to mid-term development goals.

What would such places look like? The Parisian plan sketches out a vision that would promote a hyper-local approach to all city planning:

Paris en Commun’s manifesto sketches out some details for what this future walkable, hyperlocal city would look like. More Paris road space would be given up to pedestrians and bikes, with car lanes further trimmed down or removed. Planning would try to give public and semi-public spaces multiple uses—so that, for example, daytime schoolyards could become nighttime sports facilities or simply places to cool off on hot summer nights. Smaller retail outlets would be encouraged—bookstores as well as grocery stores—as would workshops making wares using a “Made in Paris” tag as a marketing tool. Everyone would have access to a nearby doctor (and ideally a medical center), while sports therapy facilities would be available in each of the city’s 20 arrondissements.

To improve local cultural offerings, public performance spaces would be set up, notably at the “gates” of Paris — the large, currently car-dominated squares around the inner city’s fringe which once marked entry points through the long-demolished ramp
Shao Feng/NBBJ Architects
NBBJ Architects designed the all-new Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center using far less steel than is standard in stadium design, meaning less carbon dioxide was emitted to create the structure

With dozens of massive sports arenas across the country, China is by no means a stranger to the world of impressive stadium design—take, for instance, Beijing’s iconic Bird’s Nest. But the newest stadium addition impresses not only with its inspired design but also with its approach to sustainable architecture.

In need of additional public space for sporting events, Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang province, sought to build new facilities—the result is the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center, designed by Los Angeles-based architecture firm NBBJ, which comprises an 80,000-seat arena, a 10,000-seat tennis court, swimming pools, and retail space.

“Hangzhou is one of the most scenic cities in China, and its West Lake is renowned for its beauty, elegance, and unique foliage,” says NBBJ partner Robert Mankin. “The stadium draws upon this beauty by using the indigenous water lily, or lotus, of the West Lake as its conceptual inspiration, interpreting the form into a series of modular ‘petal’ structures that gracefully surround the stadium.”

While steel is a necessary component in stadium architecture—and it does play a prominent role at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center—it’s also a major cause for concern from a sustainability perspective. In 2018, the production of each ton of steel resulted in the creation of two tons of carbon dioxide. So from the get-go, NBBJ was tasked with reducing the amount of steel used in the structure. Though the Hangzhou Olympic Stadium is roughly the same size as the Beijing National Stadium, the iconic Bird’s Nest from the 2008 Olympics, it uses 60% less steel—approximately 16,000 tons versus 40,000 tons.

“Hangzhou is one of the most scenic cities in China, and its West Lake is renowned for its beauty, elegance, and unique foliage,” says NBBJ partner Robert Mankin. “The stadium draws upon this beauty by using the indigenous water lily, or lotus, of the West Lake as its conceptual inspiration, interpreting the form into a series of modular ‘petal’ structures that gracefully surround the stadium.”

While steel is a necessary component in stadium architecture—and it does play a prominent role at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center—it’s also a major cause for concern from a sustainability perspective. In 2018, the production of each ton of steel resulted in the creation of two tons of carbon dioxide. So from the get-go, NBBJ was tasked with reducing the amount of steel used in the structure. Though the Hangzhou Olympic Stadium is roughly the same size as the Beijing National Stadium, the iconic Bird’s Nest from the 2008 Olympics, it uses 60% less steel—approximately 16,000 tons versus 40,000 tons.

There’s also the matter of the plaza surrounding the stadium, which NBBJ also aimed to keep as eco-friendly as possible. “The overall planning of the complex makes use of porous, light-colored surfaces and green park spaces with maximum vegetation,” says Mankin. “This approach will greatly reduce water runoff from the site, and will avoid the heat sink challenges that most other sports centers in China, including the Beijing Olympic Plaza, experience.”

The Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center is now open to the public and is expected to encourage new (and hopefully sustainable) development in the rapidly growing city. “The special role that the Hangzhou Olympic Park will play in creating a civic center for the surrounding community based upon sports and wellness is perhaps the most exciting and unique aspect of the development,” says Mankin.

Stacy Smedley/Skanska
Achieving Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Targets through Life Cycle Carbon Accounting

Climate change is the existential crisis of our time. The design and construction industry has responded to this challenge with a wave of green buildings that have reshaped expectations for environmental performance of the built environment, striving to meet increasingly stringent energy codes, rating systems, and greenhouse gas reduction targets. However, we are only solving the problems that we are looking at, and we are not seeing the whole picture. The substantial up-front carbon emissions associated with the production of building materials and construction have gone largely uncounted, as have those associated with demolition—but they are no less real and just as significant. New, high-performance buildings are designed to reduce emissions over the life of a building, but when will that payoff occur? Thirty years from construction? Fifty? Unfortunately, we cannot wait fifty or even twenty years for our new, efficient buildings to save us. Design and construction practices must be dramatically and immediately reshaped to drive down emissions associated with all stages of a building’s life—including materials, construction, and demolition—in order to meet critical global climate goals.

The Urgent Need to Reduce the Life Cycle Carbon Footprint of Buildings

The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement established the necessity of capping global temperature rise to well below 2° Celsius, setting the target at 1.5°. In order to achieve that target, the world needs to get to net zero carbon emissions by the year 2050. According to the 2018 UN Environment Emissions Gap Report, we are not on track to meet this goal [i]. In fact, we must now reduce global emission by 50% by the year 2030 to have even a 50% chance of meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement [ii].

At a global scale, building construction and operations account for approximately 39% of carbon dioxide emissions annually [iii]. We are also projected to build an astounding 2.5 trillion square feet of new construction globally by the year 2060 [iv], roughly doubling the current square footage of existing buildings. This is an extraordinary figure, and it means that building owners and professionals in the construction sector have a substantial opportunity and responsibility to reduce building-related carbon emissions to respond to the climate crisis.

The paradigm of sustainable design has for decades focused on reducing operational energy, with ultimate goals of net zero or even net positive carbon. This approach has driven energy reduction goals in codes, rating systems, and even carbon mitigation plans. While reducing operational carbon is a critical component to driving down carbon emissions in the built environment, “net zero” used in this context is a misnomer. The definition of net zero in the United States only includes the carbon emissions associated with the use phase of the building, also known as operational carbon, while excluding emissions associated with all other stages of a building’s life cycle, such as up-front carbon emitted during the production of materials and building construction, also referred to as embodied carbon, and emissions associated with end-of-life.

While we have made strides in reducing the operational energy of buildings, with an average global reduction of 1.5% annually [v], the impacts of embodied carbon have been overlooked. These embodied impacts were for many years thought to be negligible; however, it has become increasingly apparent that they are not insignificant. Embodied carbon contributes at least 11% of all global carbon emissions annually—and this percentage is increasing. In fact, projections made by the nonprofit research organization Architecture 2030 show that by the year 2030, embodied emissions will account for 74% of total emissions from all buildings constructed after 2020. As buildings meet higher performance standards and the grid becomes greener, operational carbon will continue to decrease, and embodied carbon will represent an increasingly large percentage of total life cycle emissions.

Because sustainable design practices have responded to what our industry has measured to-date—operational carbon—our industry has primarily focused on new, high-performance construction. This has reinforced the misconception that new buildings are good for the environment while existing buildings are energy hogs that should be demolished and
Courtesy Chicago Department of Planning and Development
Near the Green Line, this Fulton Market apartment plan is adding even more units

n the West Loop, where architects and developers are often required to shrink projects to appease dissatisfied neighbors, one proposal has done the opposite: it’s grown.

LG Development originally pitched two 20- and 22-story towers for the corner of Lake and May streets in July 2019. The latest design instead calls for a single 33-story, 330-foot high-rise. The number of apartments has also increased from 484 to 555—making the transit-oriented proposal one of the largest rental developments in the rapidly changing neighborhood.

According to a presentation posted by the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) ahead of the project’s trip to the Chicago Plan Commission, the recent revisions allow for more light and air to reach street level. This sort of change is consistent with the West Loop Design Guidelines, which favor taller, skinnier designs over wider, squatter buildings.

The glassy design comes from architecture firm Gensler (NORR Architects was behind the earlier plan) and uses a more contextual brick cladding at its base. Updated renderings also show a pedestrian-friendly alley lined with retail running below the apartment portion of the project—a similar concept is included in the upcoming development at 167 N. Green.

The zoning application spans two parcels and still includes an 11-story office building slated for the vacant lot across the street at 1050 W. Lake Street. That building was also redesigned by the architects at Gensler.
Gensler
An urbanizing world has put commercial real estate practices in the spotlight. Gensler’s Co-CEO’s Diane Hoskins and Andy Cohen discuss the ways the industry can lessen its climatic stress.

Mass urbanization and commercial real estate’s climate impact demand strong action by designers, urban planners and architects, developers and legislators around the world. It’s also a subject that Gensler has taken very seriously: the Gensler Cities Climate Challenge (GC3) outlines the firm’s commitment to design all their projects to net-zero standards by 2030; and addressed it in their recently released Design Forecast “Shaping the Future of Cities.” Diane Hoskins and Andy Cohen, Co-CEOs at the leading global design firm, spoke to GlobeSt.com about the real estate industry’s most urgent climatic challenges and how CRE stakeholders are responding.

GlobeSt.com: How has CRE’s climate impact changed and how much will that burden expand in the future?

Diane Hoskins: The growth of cities creates so much more of a need to focus on buildings, which account for 40 percent of CO2 emissions in cities. Cities overall create 70 percent of CO2 emissions even though they’re only 2 percent of the world’s land mass. Since 1990, we’ve seen a 70 percent increase in the number of people living in cities (to 3.8 billion). That obviously means more CRE in our cities and thus more CO2 emissions.

Andy Cohen: We are adding about 1.5 million people to cities every week for the foreseeable future, and 80% of the world’s GDP is in cities. More than half of the global population is now concentrated in urban areas, and by 2060 two thirds of the expected population of 10 billion will live in cities. The way we design, build and operate new buildings, and how we reposition existing buildings to be more efficient are critical factors in our global efforts to address climate change and the effects of climate change.

GlobeSt.com: What are the biggest climate concerns and how can cities be more resilient in response?

Cohen: Cities are at the forefront of these issues, dealing with the real-time impacts of weather events, rising sea levels, migration, and resource scarcity. Ninety percent of the world’s urban areas are on coastlines, so they are increasingly at risk. Working together, governments, institutions, and investors can anchor city planning in resilience to produce tangible, positive impacts on people’s lives, jobs, health and well-being.

Hoskins: A multi-pronged effort regarding material choices, building retrofits and new construction standards is required. For existing buildings, how we upgrade systems and the building envelope from both a thermal and energy-generation standpoint is critical, using new types of glass and even brick and other types of veneers that sequester carbon.

GlobeSt.com: What impact is climate change having on the real estate investment sector?

Hoskins: At the 2019 ULI Fall Conference, one of the panelists talked about increasing coastal risk from rising seas. The investment sector in coastal US markets is really beginning to sound the alarm and take a harder look at the 10-, 20- and 30-year time horizon with regard to the risk and resilience of locations. We’re in the mode now of resilience thinking versus prevention. For example, in Miami it’s not about trying to stop sea level rise, but rather adapting to changing conditions. This includes having walkways at the second level and having entries that may be on the ground level but that are built with materials that can withstand the water. And in order to ensure that there isn’t a cataclysmic level of warming and flooding, it’s critical to address greenhouse gas emissions through building sector choices. Going to net zero can help keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius from now until 2050.

GlobeSt.com: What are the biggest CRE challenges to meeting and exceeding net zero carbon standards?

Cohen: We need to address everything from operational energy and the materials we choose, to how people travel and where we decide to build. We need our cities and governments to set goals in their cities and then take concrete steps to achieve them. We need investment from the private sector to assist with the gap in resilient design and high-performance measures, because the returns on these investments take time. And we need our cities to create densified zoning to encourage green development. We need all parties involved in development to design for zero carbon starting now and as desig
Forensic Architecture
London-based research collective Forensic Architecture, known for its use of architectural, spatial, and technological analysis to uncover state and corporate violence, opens its first major U.S. exhibition today at Miami Dade College’s Museum of Art and Design (MOAD). However, as the collective’s founder, Eyal Weizman was preparing to fly to Miami from his home of London for the opening, he received an email from the U.S. Embassy informing him that his visa had been revoked and he would not be allowed to travel to the United States.
When Weizman went to apply for another visa, an interviewer at the Embassy told him that an “algorithm” had identified him as a security threat due to people he had interacted with, places he had traveled recently, or an unidentified combination of the two. When given the opportunity to “speed up the process” by giving names he felt might have been the cause for setting off alarms, Weizman refused.
Here is the full statement, which will be read by his partner professor Ines Weizman at the MOAD tonight, and was sent to AN by Weizman via email.

Today (February 19th) I was meant to be here with you at the Museum of Art and Design in Miami to open Forensic Architecture’s first major survey exhibition in the United States, True to Scale.
But on Wednesday, February 12th, two days before my scheduled flight to the U.S, I was informed in an email from the U.S. Embassy that my visa-waiver (ESTA) had been revoked and that I was not authorised to travel to the United States. The revocation notice stated no reason and the situation gave me no opportunity to appeal or to arrange for an alternative visa that would allow me be here.
It was also a family trip. My wife Prof. Ines Weizman, who was scheduled to give talks in the U.S. herself, and our two children traveled a day before I was supposed to go. They were stopped at JFK airport in New York where Ines was separated from our children and interrogated by immigration officials for two and a half hours before being allowed entry.

The following day I went to the U.S. Embassy in London to apply for a visa. In my interview the officer informed me that my authorization to travel had been revoked because the “algorithm” had identified a security threat. He said he did not know what had triggered the algorithm but suggested that it could be something I was involved in, people I am or was in contact with, places to which I had traveled (had I recently been in Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, or Somalia or met their nationals?), hotels at which I stayed, or a certain pattern of relations among these things. I was asked to supply the Embassy with additional information, including fifteen years of travel history, in particular where I had gone and who had paid for it. The officer said that Homeland Security’s investigators could assess my case more promptly if I supplied the names of anyone in my network whom I believed might have triggered the algorithm. I declined to provide this information.

This much we know: we are being electronically monitored for a set of connections—the network of associations, people, places, calls, and transactions—that make up our lives. Such network analysis poses many problems, some of which are well known. Working in human rights means being in contact with vulnerable communities, activists and experts, and being entrusted with sensitive information. These networks are the lifeline of any investigative work. I am alarmed that relations among our colleagues, stakeholders, and staff are being targeted by the U.S. government as security threats.

This incident exemplifies—albeit in a far less intense manner and at a much less drastic scale—critical aspects of the “arbitrary logic of the border” that our exhibition seeks to expose. The racialized violations of the rights of migrants at the U.S. southern border are of course much more serious and brutal than the procedural difficulties a U.K. national may experience, and these migrants have very limited avenues for accountability when contesting the violence of the U.S. border.

As I would have announced in today’s lecture, this exhibition is an occasion to launch a joint investigation with local groups into human rights violations in the Homestead detention center in Florida, not far from here, where migrant children have been held in what activists describe as “regimented, austere and inhuman
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images
Steven Bingler is a New Orleans-based architect and planner and founder of Common Edge Collaborative, a nonprofit organization that advocates planning and design engagement with the public. Martin C. Pedersen is executive director of the organization.

Hundred-year floods. Record-breaking Antarctic heat. Wildfires and drought. The stories appear with numbing regularity. And though the details differ, they all point to the same grim conclusion. We’re failing to address climate change. With carbon emissions continuing to rise, what were once dismissed as worst-case scenarios now look like the best we can hope for.

If Plan A was to prevent, or at least mitigate, the most serious impacts of climate change, what’s Plan B?

In our Plan-A world, architecture and planning has become focused on the idea of “resilient” design. But continuing to talk about “resilience” in the face of ever-worsening projections is its own form of climate denial. It’s time for planners to begin replacing the R-word of the moment with a now not-so-unthinkable one.

Retreat.

According to a recent paper in the scientific journal Nature Communications, some of the earlier projections of population displacement from sea-level rise are probably way too low. Around the world, instead of some 50 million people being forced to move to higher ground over the next 30 years, the oceans will likely rise higher than predicted, with a coastal diaspora at least three times larger; by 2100, the number of climate refugees could surpass 300 million. Indeed, sea-level rise looks likely to be measured in yards and meters, not inches or feet.

Where will all of these displaced people go? Can they be accommodated in existing cities, towns and villages? Which cities will we defend? Which will we surrender? Who will decide? These are unprecedented design and planning challenges that our society hasn’t begun to think about, let alone plan for. Given the increasingly dire outlook, we believe it is time to start.

In recent years, we’ve seen countless climate-resiliency schemes featuring bioswales, rain gardens, retention ponds, earth berms, levees, sea-wall barriers, even oyster beds. All of these strategies are useful, but they come with a big “if.” They will help protect our coastal cities if we also cut our carbon emissions in time to mitigate even worse impacts of climate change.

Both of us live in New Orleans, a city that is below sea level but that is not at all inclined to give up. But for the sake of future generations, we need to honestly assess the threats ahead and plan accordingly. Planners are expected to operate within multiple time frames, and the challenge today is even trickier. We must continue to wage the political fight to rein in and eventually eliminate fossil fuels, while at the same time remaining clear-eyed about what needs to happen should our best efforts fail. Doing both is the only responsible course of action.

It is not overly alarmist to start thinking about exit strategies that work under the most severe scenarios. Moving existing cities, retrofitting old ones for explosive growth, creating new settlements and mitigating thousands of miles of polluted shorelines will be expensive and complicated. Even if properly planned, this will be a messy and even brutal process; if unplanned and ad hoc, in all likelihood, it will descend into a chaos straight out of science fiction.

Steven’s firm, Concordia, led the politically and emotionally charged planning process in post-Katrina New Orleans, a city with a pre-storm population of 485,000. (Today, that number stands at about 390,000.) That was certainly a difficult and unprecedented effort, but it was nothing compared to the simultaneous challenges facing coastal towns and cities in the decades ahead. And our problems don’t stop at the water’s edge. Many places inland will see water become increasingly scarce, putting immense stress on settlement patterns and agriculture. Mass migrations will inevitably become a part of our children’s and grandchildren’s futures.

Sadly, few of our politicians will “go there” yet, because their planning for the future extends precisely as far as the next election. It’s time for architects and planners to sound the alarm. Time, in other words, to get real.

The irony is that as we dawdle, energy and insurance companies, along with
The Urban Developer
Developers of a New York skyscraper have been ordered to remove as many as 20 floors from the top of its recently completed project on the Upper West Side.

The 200 Amsterdam Avenue development, being delivered by SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan America, has been found to have exceeded zoning limits after developers “gerrymandered” a 39-sided zoning lot in order to add height and bulk to the project.

The decision, handed down by supreme court judge Justice W Franc Perry, marks a watershed moment for community groups who opposed the 204 metre tall project on the grounds that the developers used a zoning loophole to upsize the project to comprise 112 apartments.

The court found that while it is common for developers to purchase the unused development rights of adjacent buildings, the developers in question had put together a highly unusual zoning lot to take advantage of the development rights.

Community groups opposing the tower went to court after their request to stop construction was rejected by New York City’s Department of Buildings.

Last year, the New York State Supreme Court ruled in favour of the community groups and ordered the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) revisit the matter.

Despite the court order, SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan America continued with the construction of the high-end residential project, which recently topped out.

“200 Amsterdam entirely conforms with all zoning rules, as earlier upheld by equally the DOB and the BSA, the two metropolis agencies with the most important responsibility for interpreting NYC’s zoning codes,” SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan America said in a statement.

“We continue to make construction progress and look forward to delivering a building that will significantly benefit the neighbourhood and New York City.”

Attorneys representing the developers plan to appeal the ruling on the grounds that the project was fully compliant with the city’s zoning resolution.

At this point it remains unclear how many floors might need to be deconstructed from the 52-storey tower, but under one interpretation of the law, the building might have to remove 20 floors or more to conform to the regulation.

The Elkus Manfred-designed tower, which is located a few blocks from Central Park, at its current height would boast panoramic views of the Hudson River, Empire State Building and World Trade Centre.

The project also offers high-end amenities including an indoor swimming pool, fitness centre, conservatory, virtual golf room and a residential lounge.

The decision isn’t the first time a ruling like this has been passed down in the state of New York.

In 1991, developer Laurence Ginsberg was forced to reduced a development at East 96th Street by 31-storeys to 19-storeys after it was found to be inside a special Park Avenue zoning district, which limits building heights.
ZGF
ZGF was tasked with a one-of-a-kind project—transforming a landmark hangar into an office for Google. The structure was built by famed business magnate, film producer, and aviator Howard Hughes in 1943 for the construction of his H-4 Hercules airplane, more commonly known as the “Spruce Goose” because it was almost entirely crafted from wood (although it was actually made of birch, not spruce).

Today, the Spruce Goose is housed in Oregon, but the hangar remains in Southern California in the city of Playa Vista, and now comprises a range of office, meeting, and food service spaces for the tech company. With Google’s specific requirements, and the building’s rich history, ZGF embraced a unique approach to complete the remarkable conversion from an airplane shed to a contemporary workplace.

The different facets of the project went beyond anything the architects had done before, because it was crucial to respect the past while still designing a workplace that reflected Google’s core values. “This project was a historic preservation, an adaptive reuse of an important historic structure, and the construction of a modern, four-story office building. Google’s a tech company, but it’s interesting, because a lot of the way that we did this was analog, and we never would have ended up with this result if we had done this all digitally,” says James Woolum, partner at ZGF.

Indeed, the ZGF team went back to basics—think printouts, not pixels. Diagrams, photocopies, and an endless selection of fabric swatches were the tools of the trade. This thorough attention to detail was the key to creating a cohesive space with just enough variety to keep the interiors fresh for the employees who are on-site every day.

The spine is a stunning feature that was restored, highlighting the intricate rehab work required for the latest iteration of the hangar. “The whole central spine, which was made out of wood, had to be taken apart piece by piece, cataloged, and stored before it was put together again meticulously,” Woolum explains. The backbone divides the four-story, 450,000-square-foot building lengthwise, with open floor plates that are pulled away from this locus and interior envelope. The varied shape of each floor and added skylights allow for abundant daylight to filter through every level.

The circulation routes were designed to increase interaction, which is key in any Google office, where employees often collaborate in several different areas during the day. The architects devised a boardwalk, on the perimeter of each floor, which allows individuals to weave through the long structure. “On the boardwalk, you are moving vertically and laterally through the space. The places where the boardwalk penetrates through the spine were really natural points to locate some of the important amenities like the micro-kitchens,” Woolum notes. Along the boardwalk, no two amenity areas are alike, giving users options and allowing them to view the impressive structure from all angles.

In this particular office, more sophisticated materials and colors were used to bring a new refinement to the company’s signature look. “They wanted a grown-up Google, and it was really about this macro, micro way of looking at all of the spaces, and then being able to look at one piece to see how it complemented everything else,” says Antony Tavlian, ZGF associate and interior designer for the project.

For the ZGF team, all of these interesting components were combined to create an office that gives its users enhanced experiences that go beyond basic job tasks. “It’s not just the architecture or the beautiful furniture, or the artwork. It all comes together to support a layered and rich human experience. It really is a magical space,” adds Woolum.
The Architecture Lobby
The relationship between the business of architecture and the nature of architectural work is fraught. Many celebrated firms have been built on the backs of young and often unpaid labor. To call this practice an open secret would be inaccurate. It isn’t a secret at all; for some firms, it’s standard operating practice.

The Architecture Lobby, founded in 2013 by Peggy Deamer, has begun the long and laborious process of addressing these issues. Today, the group has 16 chapters and 450 dues-paying members. (Yearly dues amount to 0.2% of total income, or about $100 for a $50,000 salary.) Recently, I spoke with the Lobby’s national organizer, Dexter Walcott, about the group’s recent efforts, its campaign to unionize the field, the Green New Deal, and the future of work.

MCP: Martin C. Pedersen
DW: Dexter Walcott

MCP: What’s the Lobby working on right now?

DW: The top three initiatives are the unionization campaign, the socializing of small firms, and the Green New Deal campaign. We’re also working to expand the “Not Our Wall” campaign to focus on the detention infrastructure, beyond the physical barriers and surveillance infrastructures.

MCP: So there are both national and local Lobby initiatives?

DW: Yes. There are chapters that are working on issues that are purely local. And then some chapters blur a lot, where there will be a national campaign that has a strong presence in our regional chapters. The “Not Our Wall” campaign, for instance, had a strong presence in the California chapters. The Green New Deal is a national campaign, but the New York chapter has a very strong presence with that.

MCP: Let’s pull a few of these issues out for closer examination, starting with union recognition. What’s your goal here, and how do you see that playing out?

DW: The end goal is to form unions of architectural workers. There are a number of ways that it can play out. One type of union we organize would be a single-issue union, where we would begin to organize architectural workers around a single problem within the profession and organize workplaces to form collective bargaining units around that issue. For instance, something like the eight-hour workday would be appealing in the profession. That covers a lot of the issues with one broad stroke, whether it’s the culture of overwork or the inability of people to have time to take care of themselves or their families outside of the profession. We could organize workplaces under a contract that only has one clause in it that would say, “We’re going to work for eight hours, five days a week.” That’s something that is appealing to the Architectural Lobby at the moment. And it’s so necessary in the profession right now.

MCP: Is your goal to go through the actual process of becoming a legally recognized union?

DW: Not necessarily. We’re more interested in helping workers build collective bargaining units. At the end of the day, the Lobby isn’t so concerned about being the legal entity. We want to see the sector have unions. The unionization working group has put together an amazing pamphlet on the steps to do this.

MCP: So some chapters might, ultimately, be purely local?

DW: Yes. Right now we’re organizing ourselves and trying to understand where the organization has power, and where we can leverage that power. It starts with a belief that we need to get tight around an argument, if we’re going to start organizing other people to commit to it. We don’t want to build an organization that just brings together like-minded people. We must become good at winning contentious arguments. You can’t organize a workplace by assuming, “Oh, everyone who already thinks like me will automatically join my group.” You have to engage in discussions with people who say, “I don’t think unions are going to help our industry”; or ask questions like, “Will that cut my pay?”; or say, “My boss is really good to me right now.”

It’s also important to have conversations with people about preserving things that are good about the profession. We need to reinforce the idea that unions aren’t just for times when everything’s falling apart, but are a way to ensure that things stay great and can get better. But the Lobby’s core position is
Tesla
Epic fail. That’s what first crossed my mind as I watched the window break (twice!) during Tesla’s Cybertruck launch. Instead, the unfortunate incident brought immediate worldwide attention to Tesla’s new truck — mainstream press, social media, and (of course) meme makers all gobbled it up. Fast forward, and Elon Musk’s crazy concept for the Cybertruck is now considered genius.

In fact, Elon Musk actually forecasts failure at the beginning of his bold and audacious ventures. According to Marcel Schwantes (via Inc.), Musk demonstrates “a healthy amount of humility” when starting a project. For example, at an interview at an energy conference in Norway, Musk said, “You should take the approach that you’re wrong. Your goal is to be less wrong.”

As Musk points out, “When you first start a company, there’s lots of optimism and things are great. Happiness, at first, is high. Then, you encounter all sorts of issues and happiness will steadily decline and you’ll go through a whole world of hurt.” But, if you take your medicine and learn from your failures, there’s an upside. “Eventually, if you succeed … you will finally get back to happiness,” says Musk.

By acknowledging that failure is a likely outcome, Schwantes says, “you’ll be able to spot impending issues earlier and minimize the inevitable pain and suffering Musk describes.” In fact, Musk has a trick for keeping him abreast of potential pitfalls. He actively seeks out constructive criticism from close friends and confidants.

“A well thought out critique of whatever you’re doing is as valuable as gold. You should seek that from everyone you can but particularly your friends. Usually, your friends know what’s wrong, but they don’t want to tell you because they don’t want to hurt you,” says Musk. Even if you don’t agree with their feedback, Musk says, “You at least want to listen very carefully to what they say.”

In short, Musk believes failure is necessary on the path of success. He says, “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.” It’s something Elon Musk accepts and embraces. Don’t believe me? Check out this revealing infographic of Musk’s many failures as he built Paypal, Tesla, and SpaceX into the trailblazing companies they are today.
NELSON
Accredited designer Brian Tolman has joined NELSON Worldwide as Senior Vice President, Northeast Region Lead. Bringing more than 20 years of experience in workplace and hospitality interiors and building practices, Tolman will lead the multidisciplinary team to champion a new wave of design as the firm expands.

“We are delighted to welcome Brian Tolman to the NELSON team,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NELSON Worldwide, Ozzie Nelson Jr. “His exceptional work on world-class projects and propensity for effective yet inspiring leadership make him the perfect person to oversee our northeast offices.”

Passionate about the field of architecture, Tolman has always been a thinker and tinkerer—aiming to challenge preconceived notions through critical thinking and actively practicing empathy to understand how people behave in different contexts of the built environment. This approach has helped him create projects that allow people to feel connected to both each other and the space they are inhabiting.

Tolman’s devotion to design excellence, coupled with his strong leadership skills, will enable him to usher NELSON’s northeast offices—which include New York, Boston, and Philadelphia —into a new era of design and innovation. NELSON’s recent and upcoming projects in the northeast include the NoMad Tower and the New York Life Social Space and Conference Center in Midtown Manhattan, and the W/Element brand hotel opening in Philadelphia later this spring.

“I am excited to join an immensely talented team and be a part of the next evolution of the NELSON brand,” says Tolman. “In my new role, I will continue to drive innovation across all market sectors, working closely with my team to help elevate a firm that is built upon an amazing infrastructure, brimming with potential.”

Tolman earned a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Art,

Architecture and Planning. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), accredited in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. He has received numerous AIA awards for his work, including an AIA Honor Award for his work on the Bloomberg office interiors in New York and an AIA NYS Honor Award for American holding company IAC’s offices. In 2010, Tolman was named one of ENR NY’s Top 20 Under 40 young professionals.

Having employed a cross-discipline approach to his impressive portfolio of projects, Tolman will work to further promote innovation, champion change, and continue NELSON’s already rapid growth within the northeast region.
urbanize.LA
Wider sidewalks and new street trees are in the works for the iconic 1.3-mile corridor.

A new website offers a look at design concepts for the Hollywood Walk of Fame's new master plan - a core component City Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell's Heart of Hollywood initiative.

The Walk of Fame, established nearly 60 years ago, spans approximately 1.3-miles along Hollywood Boulevard and a short stretch of Vine Street. Though the corridor is one of the biggest tourist draws in Southern California - evidenced by throngs of pedestrians, street performers, and costumed characters - its built environment has often underwhelmed visitors.

“The Walk of Fame Master Plan is the signature project of my ‘HEART of Hollywood’ initiative, and the concept plan is just the first step,” said O’Farrell in a statement. “We are working to update the Walk of Fame in a balanced, holistic, cohesive way. As this evolves, we will keep building a sense of consensus and collaboration around various ideas. I encourage Hollywood stakeholders to view the concept plan in its entirety, provide feedback, and join us throughout this process.”

O'Farrell, who represents much of Hollywood, has pushed to use the remainder of the 13th Council District's allocation of CRA/LA excess bond proceeds to fund the new master plan for the Walk of Fame as well as a first phase of improvements. Architecture and planning firm Gensler has been tapped to lead the effort, with also includes civil engineering firm DCA, landscape architecture firm Studio MLA, and various city departments.

The Walk of Fame serves as the central pedestrian spine of the Hollywood Boulevard Commercial and Entertainment District, comprised of 102 historic Spanish Colonial and Art Deco buildings - many of which maintain a high degree of integrity on their upper floors. But the corridor is best known for the thousands of terrazo stars which commemorates luminaries of the entertainment industry.

While the Walk of Fame's architecture and its iconic stars remain a draw, its streetscape has worn down over the decades, and repairs to its sidewalks have lagged. Among various shortcomings, the project team has noted that the Walk of Fame suffers from a lack of unified signage, tree wells, and street furnishing along Hollywood Boulevard. And while a new guide published by the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering provides direction for future repairs, the Heart of Hollywood takes the effort a step further.
An "enhanced complete street" concept has emerged as the favored alternative for the project, which, if implemented, would remove street parking and some automobile travel lanes to allow for wider sidewalks along the Walk of Fame. The reclaimed space could be used for new amenities such as sidewalk dining, performance areas, seating and other furniture, playgrounds, and areas for street vendors. Plans also call for five new event plazas located at key sites along the Walk of Fame - including the Pantages Theatre and the Hollywood Highland Center - which could temporarily be closed to automobile traffic with removable bollards.

These improvements would be supplemented by the addition of new curb bulb outs - shortening the distance of street crossings - and raised scramble crossings to make pedestrians more visible to approaching vehicles.

The "enhanced complete street," concept is one of several alternatives considered for the master plan. Other options include a similar, but less ambitious sidewalk expansion, or in the most modest concept, selective street extensions near major landmarks such as the Pantages Theatre. Planners also considered closing the street to cars entirely, converting the Walk of Fame to a pedestrian promenade, but feedback garnered through a series of focus groups and open house meetings favored maintaining vehicle access.

Hollywood Boulevard's Art Deco heritage is also set to be expressed in the new master plan in the form of unified signage and potentially decorative patterns in crosswalks, as seen in conceptual renderings.

Trail Drive Management Corp.
The new Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, was designed to echo the iconic Will Rogers Memorial Center, a historic landmark built in 1934. The site of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo as well as other concerts and sporting events, Dickies Arena was designed to provide a modern entertainment experience and configurable event spaces that would stand the test of time. The multiple roof systems on the project — including the plaza deck surrounding the arena — were essential in delivering on these goals.

Dickies Arena features a domed main roof with a cupola at the top that pays homage to its historic neighbor. “One of the major themes, especially of the dome roof structure itself, was to have a kind of throwback to the original Will Rogers Center, which is still there,” says Eric Nelson, AIA, RID, CCCA, vice president at HKS, the architect of record for Dickies Arena. “The Will Rogers Center was one of the first buildings of its type to have a long-span steel truss roof system. We used that existing structure as the inspiration for the roof structure inside the arena. We have these very thin, elegant looking trusses that are very art deco.”

The new structure’s domed roof is surrounded by low-slope roofs and complemented by two towers topped with metal roofs. Dickies Arena also features a pavilion with a standing seam metal roof, which sits on a plaza deck that serves as an outdoor event space as well as a giant roof system covering exhibit space and areas for housing rodeo livestock. The venue is also designed to provide excellent acoustics for concerts and features luxurious millwork and finishes throughout to provide a touch of elegance. “I like to say that it’s a rodeo arena, but it’s designed like an opera house,” Nelson says.

It took an experienced team of design and construction professionals to envision and execute the project, including HKS, the architect of record; David M. Schwartz Architects, the design architect; The Beck Group, the general contractor; Jeff Eubank Roofing Co., Inc., the roof system installer; and Sunbelt Building Services LLC, the insulation distributor and installer of the plaza deck.

The Dome

The roof system specified for the dome featured an 80-mil PVC system with decorative ribs manufactured by Sika Sarnafil. “The roof system is one that we use pretty regularly on our large sports projects, the Feltback PVC,” notes Nelson. “It’s a lot more durable than other single-ply roof membranes, so we really like it a lot. Dickies Arena is an arena that wasn’t just built for the next 20 years; it’s meant to be there for the next 100 years, so we wanted to make sure we used nothing but the highest-quality materials, especially with all of the hailstorms that we can get out there in Fort Worth.”

The roof system installer, Jeff Eubank Roofing Co., Inc. of Fort Worth, Texas, tackled the dome roof first, followed by the low-slope sections and the metal roofs. Work on the dome roof began in July of 2018. “The project progressed pretty quickly,” says Jeff Eubank, vice president of Jeff Eubank Roofing Co. “The dome in and of itself was like two different projects. The top half of the dome is pretty workable and walkable, and the bottom 40 percent of the dome is almost vertical.”

The Sarnafil Decor system was installed over an Epic acoustical deck, which posed some logistical and safety challenges. “We had to engineer special anchors because a typical tie-off anchor could not be used,” Eubank explains. “Before we could set foot on the job, we had to engineer special tie-off anchors which nested into the acoustical deck.”

Eubank and a structural engineer worked with Epic Deck to construct anchor points that would meet requirements for fall arrest. The half-inch aluminum, F-shaped anchors were designed to rest in the flutes of the acoustical deck and featured a ring provide a tie-off point. They were set in place using a crane.

Safety concerns included the Texas weather. “Our biggest challenge came with the heat,” says Eubank. “Summers in North Texas are brutal enough, but at the end of last summer, a high pressure system just stalled over Fort Worth. We were in the middle of a drought, with temperatures up to 110 degrees. You’re up on a deck with nowhere to hide, and with it was pushing 200 degrees up there. From a life safety standpoint, we ended up pushing t
Andrea Ucini
It is an obsession that undermines growth, fairness and public faith in capitalism

Economies can suffer both sudden crashes and chronic diseases. Housing markets in the rich world have caused both types of problem. A trillion dollars of dud mortgages blew up the financial system in 2007-08. But just as pernicious is the creeping dysfunction that housing has created over decades: vibrant cities without space to grow; ageing homeowners sitting in half-empty homes who are keen to protect their view; and a generation of young people who cannot easily afford to rent or buy and think capitalism has let them down. As our special report this week explains, much of the blame lies with warped housing policies that date back to the second world war and which are intertwined with an infatuation with home ownership. They have caused one of the rich world’s most serious and longest-running economic failures. A fresh architecture is urgently needed.

At the root of that failure is a lack of building, especially near the thriving cities in which jobs are plentiful. From Sydney to Sydenham, fiddly regulations protect an elite of existing homeowners and prevent developers from building the skyscrapers and flats that the modern economy demands. The resulting high rents and house prices make it hard for workers to move to where the most productive jobs are, and have slowed growth. Overall housing costs in America absorb 11% of gdp, up from 8% in the 1970s. If just three big cities—New York, San Francisco and San Jose—relaxed planning rules, America’s gdp could be 4% higher. That is an enormous prize.

As well as being merely inefficient, housing markets are deeply unfair. Over a period of decades, falling interest rates have compounded inadequate supply and led to a surge in prices. In America the frenzy is concentrated in thriving cities; in other rich countries average national prices have soared, especially in English-speaking countries where punting on property is a national sport. The financial crisis did not kill off the trend. In Britain inflation-adjusted house prices are roughly equal to their pre-crisis peak, while real wages are no higher. In Australia, despite recent falls, prices remain 20% higher than in 2008. In Canada they are up by half.

The soaring cost of housing has created gaping inequalities and inflamed both generational and geographical divides. In 1990 a generation of baby-boomers, with a median age of 35, owned a third of America’s real estate by value. In 2019 a similarly sized cohort of millennials, aged 31, owned just 4%. Young people’s view that housing is out of reach—unless you have rich parents—helps explain their drift towards “millennial socialism”. And homeowners of all ages who are trapped in declining places resent the windfall housing gains enjoyed in and around successful cities. In Britain areas with stagnant housing markets were more likely to vote for Brexit in 2016, even after accounting for differences in income and demography.

You might think fear and envy about housing is part of the human condition. In fact, the property pathology has its roots in a shift in public policy in the 1950s towards promoting home ownership. Since then governments have used subsidies, tax breaks and sales of public housing to encourage owner-occupation over renting. Politicians on the right have seen home ownership as a way to win votes by encouraging responsible citizenship. Those on the left see housing as a conduit for redistribution and for nudging poorer households to build wealth.

These arguments are overstated. It is hard to show whether property ownership makes better citizens. If you ignore leverage, it is usually better to own shares than to own homes. And the cult of owner-occupation has huge costs. Those who own homes often become nimbys who resist development in an effort to protect their investments. Data-crunching by The Economist suggests that the number of new houses constructed per person in the rich world has fallen by half since the 1960s. Because supply is constrained and the system is skewed towards ownership, most people feel they risk being left behind if they rent. As a result politicians focus on subsidising marginal buyers, as Britain has done in recent years. That channels cash to the middle classes and further boosts prices. And it fuels the build-up of mortgage debt that makes crises more likely.

It does not have to be this way. Not everywhere is afflicted with every part of the housing curse.
JESCE WALZ, PERKINS AND WILL
It has been a banner year for Kate Simonen and her burgeoning band of embodied carbon busters, bent on reducing the negative environmental impacts of building production. On Nov. 19, Simonen and her EC-reduction champions debuted the first free-to-use digital tool to calculate EC in materials. The same day, Marin County, Calif., approved the nation’s first low-carbon concrete building code. And after a slow start in 2017, the free-to-join Embodied Carbon Network finally gained traction.

As founding director of the decade-old Carbon Leadership Forum (CLF) at the University of Washington, Simonen has been stirring all three pots. “Kate is our figurehead,” says Wil V. Srubar, a professor of engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder and an ECN co-chair with Simonen and Erin McDade, senior program director of Architecture 2030. “It’s been a wild ride the last 12 months, and Kate has been a great driver,” he adds.

EC, the sum total of greenhouse gases emitted from material extraction to the jobsite, “is an entry point to acknowledge that we need to completely decarbonize” the buildings sector—not just operational carbon, says engineer-architect-researcher Simonen, also a professor in the university’s department of architecture.

Perhaps Simonen’s biggest EC-reduction coup is the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator. “EC3 is transformative,” says Ari Frankel, assistant vice president at Alexandria Real Estate Equities, one of six developers piloting EC3.

CLF incubated EC3 through a $713,000 grant from the Charles Pankow Foundation and other sponsors. Simonen is lead investigator, with teammates Phil Northcott, Change Labs CEO; Stacy Smedley, a director of sustainability for Skanska USA; and Don Davies, president of Magnusson Klemencic Associates.

While incubating EC3, Simonen also helped create Marin County’s low-carbon concrete code—spearheaded by Top 25 Newsmaker Bruce King—by leading its steering committee. She was “instrumental” in creating consensus among diverse stakeholders, says Alice Zanmiller, a planner for Marin County’s sustainability team.

In 2017, CLF created ECN to scale up the movement. A global and virtual communication platform for practitioners, educators, government officials and material producers, ECN is driving grass-roots change, including local policy initiatives.

Last year, the group grew from 600 to 1,800 members, located in 166 cities in 22 nations. Local chapters that hold in-person workshops sprang up in Seattle, the Bay Area, New York City, Boston and Vancouver, B.C. Chapter discussions are underway in Austin, Atlanta, Toronto and the Denver-Boulder area.

A native of Livermore, Calif., Simonen studied architectural engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder and then received two master’s degrees from the University of California, Berkeley—one in structural engineering and the mechanics of materials in 1991, and the other in architecture the following year.

While in practice, Simonen learned about using fly ash to lower concrete’s cement content. Later, she tried calculating the carbon footprint of green prefab homes imported from China. Eventually, she realized she was interested in research. In 2009, she landed at the university. Soon she had mastered environmental-impact life-cycle analyses for buildings.

Funded by its 42 member firms, CLF is “informing, inspiring and enabling” buildings professionals to reduce and ultimately eliminate EC. Currently, CLF is rallying green-building groups to collaborate and reduce duplicate efforts.

Even with EC-reduction progress, Simonen doesn’t expect to see any meaningful impact on the environment for at least 10 years. Still, she soldiers on, saying, “we have to try to make a difference.”
Bloomberg/Getty
Approximately half of the luxury-condo units that have come onto the market in the past five years are still unsold.

In Manhattan, the homeless shelters are full, and the luxury skyscrapers are vacant.

Such is the tale of two cities within America’s largest metro. Even as 80,000 people sleep in New York City’s shelters or on its streets, Manhattan residents have watched skinny condominium skyscrapers rise across the island. These colossal stalagmites initially transformed not only the city’s skyline but also the real-estate market for new homes. From 2011 to 2019, the average price of a newly listed condo in New York soared from $1.15 million to $3.77 million.

But the bust is upon us. Today, nearly half of the Manhattan luxury-condo units that have come onto the market in the past five years are still unsold, according to The New York Times.

What happened? While real estate might seem like the world’s most local industry, these luxury condos weren’t exclusively built for locals. They were also made for foreigners with tens of millions of dollars to spare. Developers bet huge on foreign plutocrats—Russian oligarchs, Chinese moguls, Saudi royalty—looking to buy second (or seventh) homes.

But the Chinese economy slowed, while declining oil prices dampened the demand for pieds-à-terre among Russian and Middle Eastern zillionaires. It didn’t help that the Treasury Department cracked down on attempts to launder money through fancy real estate. Despite pressure from nervous lenders, developers have been reluctant to slash prices too suddenly or dramatically, lest the market suddenly clear and they leave millions on the table.

The confluence of cosmopolitan capital and terrible timing has done the impossible: It’s created a vacancy problem in a city where thousands of people are desperate to find places to live.

From any rational perspective, what New York needs isn’t glistening three-bedroom units, but more simple one- and two-bedroom apartments for New York’s many singles, roommates, and small families. Mayor Bill De Blasio made affordable housing a centerpiece of his administration. But progress here has been stalled by onerous zoning regulations, limited federal subsidies, construction delays, and blocked pro-tenant bills.

In the past decade, New York City real-estate prices have gone from merely obscene to downright macabre. From 2010 to 2019, the average sale price of homes doubled in many Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Prospect Heights and Williamsburg, according to the Times. Buyers there could consider themselves lucky: In Cobble Hill, the typical sales price tripled to $2.5 million in nine years.

This is not normal. And for middle-class families, particularly for the immigrants who give New York City so much of its dynamism, it has made living in Manhattan or gentrified Brooklyn practically impossible. No wonder, then, that the New York City area is losing about 300 residents every day. It adds up to what Michael Greenberg, writing for The New York Review of Books, called a new shameful form of housing discrimination—“bluelining.”

We speak nowadays with contrition of redlining, the mid-twentieth-century practice by banks of starving black neighborhoods of mortgages, home improvement loans, and investment of almost any sort. We may soon look with equal shame on what might come to be known as bluelining: the transfiguration of those same neighborhoods with a deluge of investment aimed at a wealthier class.

New York’s example is extreme—the squeezed middle class, shrink-wrapped into tiny bedrooms, beneath a canopy of empty sky palaces. But Manhattan reflects America’s national housing market, in at least three ways.

First, the typical new American single-family home has become surprisingly luxurious, if not quite so swank as Manhattan’s glassy spires. Newly built houses in the U.S. are among the largest in the world, and their size-per-resident has nearly doubled in the past 50 years. And the bathrooms have multiplied. In the early ’70s, 40 percent of new single-family houses had 1.5 bathrooms or fewer; today, just 4 percent do. The mansions of the ’70s would be the typical new homes of the 2020s.

Second, as the new houses have become more luxurious, homeownership itself has become a luxury. Young adults today are one-third less likely to own a home at this point in their lives than previous generations. Among young black Americans, homeownership has fallen to its lowest rate in more
Construction Dive
os Angeles-based construction and engineering giant AECOM is in talks with Canadian firm WSP Global Inc. about a possible deal, Bloomberg reported Monday night. Media reports said that WSP approached AECOM about the potential transaction, according to sources familiar with the two companies.

Although there is no guarantee that the talks will lead to a deal or how a deal would play out, analyst Andrew Wittmann said in a written research report that he believes the discussions "likely have some merit" for several reasons, including the fact that WSP's stated goals include acquisitive growth, that AECOM stock has inexplicably climbed in recent days and that AECOM leadership is currently transitioning. Chairman and CEO Michael S. Burke announced in November that he will retire this year.

In addition, a deal could help the two firms — which both operate across hundreds of local offices mainly concentrated in North America — save on costs, consolidate real estate, streamline procurement and system investments and help meet AECOM's "very aggressive" F2021 EBITDA guidance, said Wittmann, a senior research analyst with Baird Equity Research's Industrial Services division​. While Montreal-based WSP has been growing in recent years with multiple acquisitions, AECOM recently announced the sale of one of its divisions.

The $2.4 billion sale of AECOM's Management Services business to two private equity firms is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020, and the company’s Civil Construction business is also​ on the block, analyst Michael Corelli, vice president and senior credit officer for Moody's Investor Service, told Construction Dive.

In June, Starboard Value LP, an AECOM investor that owns approximately 4% of the company's common stock, called on the board of directors to consider selling its construction services unit, according to a letter from Peter Feld, Starboard's managing member. Company leaders said they would review the letter.

Meanwhile, WSP's acquisitions of U.S.-based construction and engineering firms go back several years. In 2018, WSP bought Berger Group Holdings Inc., parent of the group of companies operating under the umbrella name of Louis Berger, a Morristown, N.J.-based international professional services firm, for $400 million, according to ENR. And in 2014, it acquired New York City-based Parsons Brinckerhoff for about $1.4 billion.

In recent days, WSP closed an acquisition in December of Lancaster, N.Y.-based environmental consulting firm Ecology and Environment Inc., a 775-employee, publicly traded company that works with governments and private customers worldwide, including the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The $65 million deal included a special dividend of approximately $2.2 million, according to a press statement.

At the time of the announcement, WSP U.S. president and CEO Lou Cornell said that the transaction would enable the firm to "fulfill its strategic ambition of enhancing our activities in the United States."

WSP provides engineering and design services to clients in the transportation, infrastructure, buildings, environment, power and energy industries, according to its website. The company employs approximately 50,000 employees, including approximately 10,500 in the United States.

WSP is part of LaGuardia Gateway Partners, the team designing and building the $3.6 billion Central Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport in New York City, one of the largest public-private partnerships (P3) currently undertaken in the U.S.

Representatives for AECOM and WSP didn’t immediately respond to Construction Dive's requests for comment.
Sterling Bay
Sterling Bay’s Dallas project is part of a national expansion

A Chicago developer that just snapped up a building site in Dallas’ Deep Ellum district has had its eye on the neighborhood for a while.

And while Sterling Bay Cos. officials say it’s too early to talk about exactly what it will do with the more than 2.5-acre tract just east of downtown, you can take some clues from the developer’s recent projects at home in Chicago and elsewhere.

“Deep Ellum is a market that’s been on our radar for a long time,” said Ryan Walsh, Sterling Bay’s director of acquisitions. “Sterling Bay has had a lot of success in Chicago in a neighborhood called Fulton Market — a former meat-packing district that has transformed into a hub for dining, residential, retail and offices.

“We pioneered the development transition there, starting with the Google building.”

With new construction, Sterling Bay converted an almost century-old, 10-story cold storage building into Google’s Midwest headquarters.

“We look for neighborhoods that remind us of Fulton Market across the country,” Walsh said.

Deep Ellum is one of those gentrified commercial districts that’s transitioning into a higher-density, mixed-use neighborhood.

Uber has started construction on a new regional headquarters in the area on Pacific Avenue. And more new apartment, office and retail projects are on the way.

The property Sterling Bay bought in December is across from the DART rail station at Malcolm X Boulevard and Indiana Street. It includes a vacant 70,000-square-foot building on the site that was previously occupied by animation firm Reel FX.

Surrounding property owners say they expect Sterling Bay to raze the block of low-rise buildings that date to the 1950s and 1960s to make way for a more vertical development.

“So much of that Deep Ellum market is fractured ownership, and it’s difficult to get a site of scale and the sheer size of ours,” Walsh said. “We think it’s right on what we think is the 50 yard line of Deep Ellum.”

Walsh said whatever the developer does, it will fit into the neighborhood. “We don’t want to develop buildings that seem out of place,” he said. “Our McDonald Headquarters building (in Chicago’s West Loop area) is brand new, but it looks like a 100-year-old warehouse.”

Walsh said Sterling Bay is “kicking off our planning in earnest” for the Deep Ellum project, but that it’s too early to discuss specifics.

The Dallas project is part of a national expansion for the more than 30-year-old company, which has more than $8 billion in projects in its development pipeline.

Along with building Chicago projects for Google and fast-foot giant McDonald’s, Sterling Bay is building a 55-acre riverfront project at home called Lincoln Yards.

But the company is also diversifying its operations to new markets, including Dallas, Miami and Portland, Ore.

“We expanded outside Chicago into Miami’s Wynwood District — a thriving arts and retail neighborhood,” Walsh said.

Sterling Bay’s 545wyn project in Miami is a 298,000-square-foot creative office and retail building designed by architect Gensler.

In Portland’s Pioneer Square, Sterling Bay converted a historic 16-story department store building into flexible creative office and retail space.

“Google ended up taking the remaining half of that building recently,” Walsh said.

Along with projects for Google and McDonalds, Sterling Bay has landed other big office tenants in its projects, including Glassdoor, Dyson and Hillshire Brands.

Walsh said Uber’s plan to move thousands of workers to Deep Ellum will have a big impact on the area, fueling the desire for more office space. “Everyone saw the recent news with Uber taking substantial presence in Deep Ellum,” he said. “That same type of catalytic event happened with Google coming into Fulton Market in Chicago.

“It only makes sense people would like to office in the neighborhood they already like spending time in,” Walsh said. “Those are the neighborhoods we are looking at nationally.”

Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times
In a neighborhood dominated by terrestrial pursuits such as steel distribution and package delivery, Blue Origin has erected a bulbous, blue-and-white, U-shaped structure that looks like a dry run for a lunar apartment complex.

It’s the new Kent headquarters for Jeff Bezos’ space exploration company, built for 1,500 employees.

“We’re going to fly humans, we’re going to build and design large engines as well as large rockets, and go back to the moon — all based from here in Kent,” company CEO Bob Smith told a large group of employees and contractors, along with half a dozen local politicians, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday.

He said Blue Origin’s workforce grew by one-third last year, and “will continue to grow at that pace.” Between Kent and its facilities elsewhere, the company has more than 2,500 employees.

Blue Origin has a crowded agenda for 2020. It aims to fly its first human payload this year, though Smith emphasized that ensuring the safety of those first travellers will dictate the schedule. The company this year also plans to deliver the first of its BE-4 engines, which will be produced commercially in Huntsville, Alabama, and “we’re making production parts now” for the massive New Glenn rocket designed to repeatedly carry people and payloads to Earth orbit and beyond.

Its New Shepard rocket — the launch vehicle seen repeatedly climbing to the edge of space and then maneuvering back to a landing pad, much like the Falcon 9, made by Blue Origin rival SpaceX — completed its 12th flight last year. The company is taking names for “early access” to reservations for ticket-buying “astronauts” with the promise that “at the apex of your 11-minute flight, you will float above the thin limb of the atmosphere and gaze upon the Earth below.”

Along with its new headquarters, Blue Origin has a nearby building where workers toil amid a collection of real space artifacts and some science-fiction counterparts from “Star Trek” and Jules Verne.

The new building — a peaked, elongated blob assembled from metal panels — was built in less than a year, Smith said. After a January start, he said, Blue Origin vowed to celebrate the holidays in the new structure, so the mandate was, “You can cancel Christmas or you can get this done.”

Inside, a prototype of the company’s proposed Blue Moon lunar lander dominates the lobby of the 230,000-square-foot building. Despite the structure’s high ceiling, it contains just one story of offices and an occasional loft-style upstairs gathering space.

In October, the company announced plans to partner with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper to build the Blue Moon lander and offer it to NASA for its upcoming Artemis program, which aims to send astronauts back to the moon’s surface by 2024.

Blue Origin is opaque about its finances, but Bezos said in 2017 at a space conference that “my business model right now for Blue Origin is I sell about a billion a year of Amazon stock and I use it to fund Blue Origin. … So the business model for Blue Origin is very robust.”

The Real Deal
The site is next to Related’s Icon Las Olas

Related Group paid $8 million for a development site on Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas Boulevard as it continues to bet on the city.

The Miami-based real estate developer bought the 0.35-acre parcel for $525 per square foot, marking the highest-priced land trade on Las Olas Boulevard, according to Cushman & Wakefield. Steelbridge, a Chicago and Miami-based private equity firm, sold the property.

Robert Given, Errol Blumer, Troy Ballard and Ricky Giles of Cushman & Wakefield represented the seller in the deal.

The site has flexible zoning and could be developed into a residential, retail, hotel and office project, according to a press release.

The property is one of the last remaining undeveloped single parcels in downtown Fort Lauderdale, with 70 feet of frontage along Las Olas Boulevard. It’s next to Steelbridge’s Las Olas Square, a Class A, 278,635-square-foot mixed-use property anchored by the 17-story SunTrust Center. It’s also next to Related’s 44-story Icon Las Olas, a 272-unit multifamily project.

Known for its condo towers in Miami, Related is expanding its presence in Fort Lauderdale.

In December, Related scored a $47.9 million construction loan to build its New River Yacht Club III project in downtown Fort Lauderdale. In Fort Lauderdale Beach, Related developed Auberge Beach Residences and Spa, a luxury condo project at 2200 North Ocean Boulevard.
Manim8/Blendswap, TheStranger/Blendswap
And no amount of data or complex modeling will rectify the building industry’s staggering impact on the environment. Design culture itself needs to change.

For the past eight years, I’ve spent every day of my professional life enabling an industry that is responsible for nearly 40% of global climate emissions. I don’t work for an oil or gas company. I don’t work for an airline. I’m an architect.

The environmental impacts of the built environment are staggering. Although it’s become mainstream to discuss energy efficiency and advocate for minimizing those impacts, architects, engineers, and planners have yet to truly reckon with the magnitude and consequences of everyday design decisions. Not only do we burn fossil fuels to heat and cool most buildings, but construction itself is responsible for plenty of global emissions. Construction requires massive amounts of concrete, steel, aluminum, and glass—all of which are carbon-intensive materials. Their emissions extend up and down the supply chain, crossing property boundaries, economic sectors, and markets. While architects are not fully responsible for steel manufacturing or concrete production per se, there is a direct line from the material specifications that architects write to the steel mills of China, the coal mines of Appalachia, the brick kilns of India, or clear-cut forests in the Pacific Northwest or the Amazon.

It is time for the design community to come to terms with carbon and climate change—both the reality of our shared climate emergency and the very personal implications of the building industry’s role in perpetuating it. Only then can we do the hard work of connecting our climate concern with our day-to-day actions, transforming guilt into collective change.

FOCUS ON CARBON
Broadly speaking, there are two ways of measuring the emissions caused by buildings: operational carbon (the emissions associated with energy used to operate a building) and embodied carbon (the emissions associated with materials and construction processes throughout the whole life cycle of a building).

Programs such as LEED, Passive House, and the Living Building Challenge focus on decreasing the former—operational carbon. This is a laudable goal; after all, building operations account for 28% of global carbon emissions, and improving the energy efficiency of buildings through widespread electrification and through decarbonization of the energy grid is essential.

However, we’ve come to recognize that it is not enough for architects and engineers to focus solely on operational carbon. For decades, we have been ignoring the role of embodied emissions in global carbon budgets.

Embodied carbon from building materials and construction currently represents at least 11% of global carbon emissions, much of which can be attributed to just three materials: concrete, iron, and steel. However, that seemingly small slice of the full carbon pie can be misleading. Global construction is proceeding at an incredible pace—with roughly 6.13 billion square feet of construction each year and global building stock expected to double in the next 30 years. When we look at new buildings anticipated to be built between now and 2050, embodied carbon, also known as “upfront carbon” because it is released before a building is even occupied, is projected to account for nearly half of total new construction emissions. For practicing architects, engineers, policymakers, and anyone who cares about climate strategy, this should give us pause.

In 2018, a special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), called Global Warming of 1.5 ºC, asked two pressing questions: How can the global community reach the 1.5ºC target laid out by the Paris Agreement, and what happens if we fail? The report has two major takeaways. First, it is still possible to meet our climate targets, but only with immediate and unprecedented action. Second, the world presented if we fail to meet this target, by even a modest-sounding half-degree, are bleak—widespread ecosystem destruction, financial instability, growing social inequity, conflict and unrest, the disappearance of landmasses and nations. The scenarios are so clearly articulated, the models so robust, and the science so well documented, that they have ignited new urgency to find pathways across all sectors to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement and accelerate our progress towards a 1.5ºC pathway. Unfortunately, we are nowhere near meeting these targets. Last week, the UN Environment Program issued its annual
Kenny Viese/courtesy of AW²
So long 2019 and all the crimes we committed with you. With 2020, it’s time for a little rest and rejuvenation—and health-geared hospitality destinations are here to help. From a remote Costa Rican retreat with tent-like structures conscious to a sensitive tropical landscape to a spa that cocoons guests in hanging teepees and a pool promising a “womb-like” experience, here are 10 standout spas and wellness retreats around the globe. We’ve focused mostly on those new to the scene—but you’ll find one established favorite and one yet to come.

1. Kasiiya Papagayo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

In remote Costa Rica, Paris-based architecture firm AW² designed custom timber-and-canvas “luxury tents” for wellness retreat Kasiiya Papagayo, opened in March of 2019. Raised off the ground, the tents protect the sensitive landscape of the dry tropical jungle—and can be broken down to disappear without a trace. The master bath in this tented suite provides a soaking opportunity in a custom copper tub, but self-care can also be drawn from strong personalities on the property’s staff. Yamuna, the property’s healer—rumored to have treated Brad Pitt—will quickly pinpoint over tea both the troubles of your soul and how to release them, while fitness expert Bruno teaches strength-building exercises based on animal movements.

2. Hotel Palácio Estoril, Estoril, Portugal

With another James Bond film gearing up for April 2020, what was once the setting for the classic film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” released in 1969, could be just the place for a limber spy—or anyone else eyeing a few days of well-being. Designed by French architect Henry Martinet and built in 1930, the Hotel Palácio Estoril was a playground for royals for decades. Today the property combines historical grandeur—think a doorman smartly dressed in traditional garb—with high-class health facilities. In the 27,000-square-foot Estoril Wellness Center designed by Palmer Grego Arquitectos, two floors are occupied by a Banyan Tree Spa. For one spa massage treatment, staff takes aim with high-powered water jets, hosing the brave off firehose-style. A more subdued water experience is found in the dynamic pool, where jets slowly spin guests around in circles under the twinkle of LED lights recalling the night sky—no crime-fighting required.

3. The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental, London

Glass above a 60-foot-long pool reveals a lounge’s fire place at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park. With a restoration and enlargement completed by New York designer and Hall of Fame member Adam Tihany in the Summer of 2019, the Spa at Mandarin Oriental, London now includes 13 treatment rooms, a massage suite for two, a traditional mosaic-tiled steam room and warm rain shower, mani-pedi studio, and room dedicated to Chinese medicine consultations and treatments.

4. The Rena Spa at The Midland Manchester, Manchester, England

Spa lounging reaches new heights at The Midland, Manchester, which opened in November after a rebranding conceived by an in-house design team drawn from developers Leonardo Hotels and U.K. and Ireland hotel group Jurys Inn. In the Rena Spa, ceiling-mounted tepees and Eero Aarnio’s retro Ball chair, designed in 1963, are among unique opportunities that tuck guests away from the outside world.

5. Six Senses Thimpu, Bhutan

Perched on a hillside and capturing breathtaking views of a nearby mountain range, the Six Senses Bhutan will be the most recent debut for global hotel brand Six Senses—its fifth property in Bhutan—when it opens in Spring 2020. Packed soil, hemlock wood, bamboo, granite, and natural stone are the dominating materials in a sustainably conscious design crafted by Thailand-based firm Habita Architects and the brand’s in-house design team. In the spa area, shown here, floor-to-ceiling glazing allows an infinity pool to reflect both sky and mountains.
Peter Molick
Brierley+Partners runs loyalty and customer relationship programs for companies that include 7-Eleven and Hertz, so naturally the firm’s management wanted to inspire the same good feelings in their own employees when moving into 56,700 square feet of a new office building in Frisco, Texas. “They wanted to support employee well-being and create a fun yet professional space for their mix of creative software engineers, finance, and administration,” says Melissa Cooksey, Perkins and Will’s senior interior project manager, associate principal.

Those inspirations are all over the interiors: Graphic wallcoverings help liven up and carve out open workspaces, as do glass-film graphics across glass meeting rooms and office fronts, while writeable walls are at the ready whenever inspiration strikes. The new space includes twice as much, and twice as many kinds, of collaboration and conference areas, not to mention a gym and breakroom with its own kegerator.

Bright colors and bold patterns keep things lively. But, Cooksey notes, “the open area ceilings have K-13 acoustic spray, in white and gray, crisply divided on ceiling deck and HVAC ductwork.” And while the client wanted a space to help position them for future growth, that didn’t necessarily mean straight lines and rational finishes. “The wood veneer wallcovering installation and the adjacent subway tiles,” she says, “are both on a 45-degree angle. It’s an eclectic vibe.”



Koto
From stylish backyard dwellings to a sleek floating home

Whether it’s Kanye’s dome prototypes or Ikea’s plan to design residences for people with dementia, prefab housing of all stripes continued to make headlines in 2019. For our year-end roundup of the best prefabs, however, we’re highlighting the most impressive designs that are available to order.

You’ll notice that a few of these picks are intended as accessory dwelling units (ADUs), which have had quite a year, especially in California, where new laws are making it easier for single-family homes to add a backyard unit. As prefab construction is particularly well-suited for the job, we’ll surely be looking out for more sophisticated, ADU-friendly prefabs heading into 2020 and beyond.

A city-approved modern ADU

In an effort to incentivize more housing stock, the city of San Jose, California, recently pre-approved a backyard dwelling from Bay Area housing startup Abodu so that residents can buy and install one in as little as two weeks. The 500-square-foot house, designed by U.K. studio Koto, costs $199,000 and offers Scandinavian modern style with stark white walls, pale wood floors, and the option to add a curated furniture package.

A full-size algorithm-designed backyard dwelling

LA startup Cover first unveiled its tiny box of a prefab studio/office in 2017 with algorithm-driven design as its claim to fame. This year, the company made its offering more ADU-friendly by unveiling a full-on one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment. The 436-square-foot, L-shaped design features an open-plan living and dining area, and a bedroom tucked into the back. The cost of design and build is $193,000.



Smiley N. Pool
Let’s celebrate some of the highlights and lament the misfires.

Here’s a look at big moments in architecture as we celebrate the highs, lows and uh-ohs of the departing decade in Dallas culture, 2010-2019.

Growing pains in the Arts District

It’s easy to take the Arts District for granted — easy, because even after a decade of building it still has a tendency to feel, well, kind of dead. It’s not for a shortage of big-name architects. Additions to the district over the last 10 years have included Norman Foster’s AT&T Performing Arts Center, OMA’s Wyly Theatre, SOM’s Moody Performance Hall, and Allied Works’ expansion of the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. A bevy of less-impressive towers are filling in around these signature projects, with the ill-conceived Museum Tower being the most notorious. While all this building has gone on, a master plan for the district has sat on a shelf, waiting for implementation. Most cities, one should note, make the urban plan, and then allow for the building. Here, we do it in reverse and pay the price, which is empty streets. Still, we have some really nice buildings, and with the new development, there is potential for new life.

The decade’s best new buildings in Dallas

Rather than a single champion, we spread the accolades among a group of projects that collectively make Dallas a better place: Test Pavilion at the Dallas Arboretum (Buchanan Architecture), the St. Michael and All Angels Columbarium (Max Levy), the Temple Emanu-El expansion (Cunningham Architects), College Park Pavilion (Snøhetta), the Cottages at Hickory Crossing (BC Workshop), Webb Chapel Park Pavilion (Cooper Joseph Studio), the Wyly Theatre (OMA), the Booker T. Washington expansion (Allied Works), the Warehouse (Droese Raney), Pacific Plaza Pavilion (HKS), the Marshall Family Performing Arts Center at the Greenhill School (Weiss/Manfredi), the Science Building at the Lamplighter School (Marlon Blackwell), Bullion Restaurant (Gensler), 1217 Main St. (5G Studio), Rolex Building (Kengo Kuma), and Fire Station 27 (Perkins & Will).

Signature spans

In a fit of skyline-altering extravagance that we will probably never see again, Dallas managed to open not one but two bridges designed by Spanish shape-wizard Santiago Calatrava, each named for a beloved matriarch named Margaret. Like most everything built by Calatrava, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge and the Margaret McDermott Bridge were massively expensive, dogged by construction problems, needlessly grandiose, uniformly white and — arguably — beautiful. At least, with the former, there was a purpose in the ostentation: the creation of a signal gateway to West Dallas, which has rapidly gentrified since the bridge’s inauguration. Of course, despite the big price tag, the bridge made no accommodation for pedestrians or cyclists, a fact only partially ameliorated by the transformation of the erstwhile Continental Avenue Bridge into a car-free elevated park. Call that a victory.

The fall of sprawl’s thrall?

Yes, the cookie-cutter developments continued to sprout in the hinterlands, but the younger set returned to the city, and even those who remained out in the burbs clamored for reform. In Plano, in McKinney, in Frisco, and points beyond, suburban centers began emphasizing walkability and rail connection to the city, even as they remained principally automotive in nature. (They also became a lot more diverse.) Even Jerry Jones, always with a keen eye for opportunity, noticed the trend, the result being his own mini-city devoted to football: the Star, an antiseptic paradise for Cowboys fans.

The eternal quest for a Fair Park plan

Did you have a plan to save Fair Park? It seemed like everyone did during the 2010s. There were plans, and then more plans, and more plans after that. Every year, we heard lamentations about the state of affairs at the city’s crown jewel — too much concrete, no connection with the neighbors, underuse, decaying landmarks, flooding — and every year there was another plan to save the place that went exactly nowhere. It looked like we might just get through the entire decade with zero progress until, late in 2018, the city finally — finally — signed a 20-year deal with a private management firm with a solid history of running parks. Will this be the answer? The problems are still real, but there’s hope. And a $15 million
Corey Gaffer Photography
Which interior design companies are the best to work for? AD PRO breaks down the firms with the highest Glassdoor ratings

What makes some interior design companies better to work for than others? Is it the nature of the design work, the firm’s high-profile clients, and the opportunity for upward mobility? Or is it the parental leave policy, travel opportunities, and office amenities? All of these factors and more contribute to why workers love being employed at certain interior design firms. AD PRO scoured reviews on Glassdoor, a website that asks reviewers to rate organizations from one to five stars, to find out which interior design companies stand out. Of course, a lot of the big guys made the list—the design giants we all know. But a few smaller firms, and several outside of bicoastal metropolises like New York and San Francisco ranked highly as well. AD PRO distills the results for you here, in alphabetical order.

Editor's note: All quotations are taken from Glassdoor reviews. The ratings reflect the company's Glassdoor score at the time of publication.

BSA LifeStructures
What: 4.8 stars
Where: Indianapolis, with five other U.S. offices
Why: Employees feel recognized for their worth at this 40-year old multidisciplinary architecture, engineering, interior design, and planning firm. “Team members are respectful and helpful to one another. They emphasize good design, celebrate individuals' strengths, and provide technology that allows for flexibility,” a review states. A small-firm mentality with large-firm resources, BSA offers “great opportunities for design with purpose.” Workers feel that the company “really values intentional design work for healing, learning, and discovery spaces.” BSA has a fantastic culture that promotes flexibility, community, and hard work, says one employee, who’s worked at the firm for four years and adds, “They have shown that they want me to progress individually by being supportive of continuing education and certification testing. I appreciate the flexibility that BSA provides to accomplish all my work and life goals.”

CBRE | Heery
What: 3.9 stars
Where: Atlanta, plus 22 additional offices nationwide
Why: A full-service firm offering architecture, interior design, engineering, construction management, and program management, CBRE | Heery has a diverse portfolio of projects across sectors. The company culture is family-oriented with “homegrown talent.” “Leadership grew up in the company, so they're in touch with the workforce,” a reviewer says. Employees feel taken care of: “I always felt the company had my best intentions in mind,” one says. “Management really cares about you as an individual. They give you the chance to grow.” In terms of benefits, Heery provides “great employer contributions in paid benefits and paid time off designations; [the] 401(k) match is above average in the industry.”

CBT Architects
What: 4.1 stars
Where: Boston, with an office in Abu Dhabi, UAE
Why: “It feels like a family” at this small architecture, interior design, and urban planning firm, whose leadership is known for investing in its people. “The environment allows you to grow, all team members attend meetings, and everyone's opinion matters. Within departments, there is a lot of collaboration and idea sharing, rolls are clearly defined, and there’s not too much overtime,” one staffer writes. Employees at CBT also love the caliber of the work and the opportunity to participate on projects of all stripes. And “everyone is friendly, has a positive attitude, and makes an effort to create a congenial atmosphere,” which is fostered with a casual dress code, flexible work schedule, and encouragement to take advantage of vacation time.

Corgan
What: 4.1 stars
Where: Dallas, with nine additional U.S. locations, plus offices in Singapore and London
Why: Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch? That’s one perk of the many that Corgan offers, including generous health benefits and parental leave (fathers and mothers are entitled to a three-month leave), a flexible work-from-home policy, a company-matching 401(k) plan, and stock options. Employees say they love that at Corgan: “Everyone helps everyone. Teamwork is evident, and the culture is something that wraps around you from your first day here. Leadership listens and appreciates you.” Plus, you get
Gary Landsman
If only your office was as cool.

No, really. You might have a fancy rooftop deck, or a golf simulator, maybe even a white-tablecloth restaurant in the lobby. But you don't have the original costume Christopher Reeve wore in "Superman," or the Heart of the Ocean necklace Kate Winslet wore in "Titanic." And no way you have the sorting hat from "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."

Those are just a few of the items on display in the Motion Picture Association's headquarters building in downtown D.C. The MPA moved in August from swing space at One Franklin Square back to its longtime home at 1600 Eye St. NW after a major repositioning by Trammell Crow Co. and Meadow Partners. The WBJ recently toured the improved space, designed by Gensler and chock full of stuff to geek out on if you're a fan of popular culture.

"What inspired this was kind of melding the idea of classic Hollywood and technology together," said John McKinney, a principal at Gensler who was part of the design team.

The building's showplace is its ground-floor event space facing Eye Street NW. Set against a wall fashioned to look like a movie curtain and interspersed with video screens showing TV or movie previews, you'll find a life-sized statue of Batman from "The Dark Knight Rises," a miniature space capsule from "Apollo 13," and the costumes Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto wore in "Star Trek: Into Darkness," among other things.

It's not a museum, mind you. It's a commercial office building redesigned for multiple occupants including the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, which plans to occupy about 14,000 square feet. But the MPA's members include the studios that brought Batman, Superman and Star Trek to the Silver Screen, and in this modern era of office as brand, the building features plenty of memorabilia on loan from those shops.

The association, with about 40 local employees and 200 globally, lobbies on behalf of its members just like every other government affairs shop. But it also holds plenty of events, including a couple of movie screenings a week on average in its freshly remodeled and expanded 118-seat theater, accessible from that ground-floor event space. It has hosted the likes of Charlize Theron in connection with a screening of "Bombshell," Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson for a screening of crime drama "Power," and Jane Fonda in connection with Mark Ruffalo's environmental drama "Dark Waters."

From there you can continue to a door leading into the building's main lobby, which also has a separate entrance at 888 16th St. NW. The MPA occupies about 30,000 square feet, including parts of the second floor and its main headquarters space on eight. As you might expect, there are all kinds of costumes and set pieces inside, including some of the weaponry from the "Men in Black" and a proton pack from the 2016 remake of "Ghostbusters."

That left Trammell Crow and Meadow with about 120,000 square feet to play with. The partners retained CBRE to market space, and having separate entrances helped downplay the impression that other companies would be taking remainder space the MPA didn't need.

"It was important to make sure that we kind of bring the building to current but also give an eye toward the future," said Jordan Goldstein, a principal and global design director for Gensler. "How does this building have a long life beyond its present and past?"

The MPA picked Trammell Crow Co. and Meadow Partners to reposition 1600 Eye as part of a competitive bidding process run by Savills Studley. The pair acquired a majority interest in the building for $32.25 million in 2017, while the association retained ownership of its space.

Renovations to the Brutalist structure, which dates back to the 1960s, included replacing the building's deep-set, punch-window facade with floor-to-ceiling glass, introducing a new fitness center, and converting mechanical equipment on the building's rooftop into usable, indoor-outdoor penthouse space. That prospect didn't come without its own drama, Goldstein said.

"The crazy thing is this building, which has some amazing views, had no rooftop, no occupiable rooftop whatsoever," Goldstein said. "In fact when we went out the first time and went to the corner, the building management at the time got a phone call from the White House. 'What are you guys doing?' Because the corner ironically, has a view between
Givlio Aristide
Every year, ArchitectureAU publishes reviews of scores of old and new Australian homes. As the year draws to a close, here are the 10 houses and apartments that most drew our readers’ attention.

10. Passivhaus Apartments by Steele Associates

There was more honesty and acknowledgement this year around the fact that architecture and its related industries have played a part in the unfolding climate crisis, with the global Architects Declare movement in particular bringing renewed focus to the nearly 40 percent of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions that originate in building and construction.

One long-touted approach to sustainable design and construction is the Passivhaus model, an invention of a German physicist, which has so far seen limited adoption in Australia due to a combination of the model’s onerous requirements and the particular environmental conditions of Australian cities.

Oliver Steele, of Steele Associates, told ArchitectureAU that he hoped that this apartment block in Sydney’s Redfern, Australia’s first to meet the Passivhaus standards, would be a “sign of what’s possible” under the model. Steele was keen to point out that, aside from the low energy requirements demanded by the operation of the apartments, the standards also resulted in living spaces that were more pleasant to inhabit.

9. Silver Street House by EHDO

This house combines off-form concrete with Australian cypress to create a playful, jolly home. The design of the house was in part a response to a number of site constraints, including a main sewer line, which diagonally bisects the site.

“Working with the sewer line was a help for us,” said designer Dimitri Kapetas. “When you have these constraints, it’s helpful because the ‘What ifs?’ aren’t there. It’s just a case of: ‘How can I make the best of this scenario?’”

8. Ooi House by Kerry Hill Architects

The news in January that a house by Kerry Hill on the banks of Western Australia’s Margaret River was up for sale drew a large amount of attention that was perhaps increased by the fact that the widely celebrated architect and progenitor of a school of tropical modernism had passed away in August 2018.

A “seminal project” in Australia’s modern architectural canon, the news may also have tapped into the anxiety felt by some about the fate of the country’s stock of modern homes, which diminishes every year.

The house received a Housing Commendation in the 1998 Royal Australian Institute of Architects national awards, with the jury describing it as “a house at peace with the landscape and the horizon.” It is also listed on the Institute’s register of nationally significant 20th-century architecture.

7. Cloister House by MORQ Architecture

This unusual Perth home turns its back, in a number of senses, on contemporary architectural convention, with an austere, inward-facing design that would be spooky if it wasn’t so thoughtfully assembled. Inspired by ancient Roman houses, Cloister House is centred on a lush courtyard, with the surrounding living spaces facing inward to create a highly private perimeter.

Presenting to the street as a rammed-concrete bunker that inspires curiosity about what lies within, the house has an unusual monastic quality that surprises and challenges.

6. Sly Brothers Semi by Archisoul Architects

A modest renovation of, and addition to, a pair of historic cottages in beachside Sydney, this unusual project saw Archisoul Architects working with two separate briefs and two separate clients in a complex arrangement that required a sensitive approach.

5. Daylesford Longhouse by Partners Hill

It is not surprising to find this novel building by Partners Hill attracted the attention of our readers. The Daylesford Longhouse was named the Australian House of the Year at the 2019 Houses Awards in July and then went on to win the Robin Boyd Award for Residential Architecture at the National Architecture Awards.

A multipurpose building, the long, prefabricated shed contains a cooking school and a working farm building in addition to the living quarters. “There’s something quite magical and otherworldly about entering this space,” wrote Katelin Butler in Architecture Australia. “But all design decisions for this building have masterful clarity and are based on rational thought processes.”

“It turns out common sense yields all sorts of poetic pleasures,” said Timothy Hill. “It’s great fun.”
Michael Young
Construction is moving along at 66 Hudson Boulevard, aka The Spiral, the eighth-tallest skyscraper under construction in New York City in YIMBY’s annual countdown. Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group, the massive commercial office tower is rapidly ascending toward its 1,031-foot-tall parapet over the Midtown neighborhood of Hudson Yards. Tishman Speyer is the developer, Turner Construction Company is the construction manager, and Banker Steel is in charge of fabricating the 66-story, $3.7 billion supertall.

Photos show the superstructure rising in pace with Norman Foster‘s 50 Hudson Yards across West 34th Street.

Both projects have risen at a substantial pace since going vertical earlier in the year, and it will be interesting to see which of the two supertalls will top out first. The Spiral currently appears to be roughly a quarter of the way to its summit as it ascends around the concrete core, which continues to precede the steelwork in formation. Work should accelerate further as each successive setback reduces the size of the floor plates.

There are several floors covered with white plastic sheets toward the end of the building along Tenth Avenue, likely to contain the spray of fireproofing material for the steel columns and beams. The fireproofing on the western half of the floors facing Bella Abzug Park is finished, and the metal clips to hold the curtain wall are already in place and awaiting the installation of the façade’s reflective glass panels. The signature spiraling form of the architectural design will become more noticeable once the envelope starts to climb all four sides.

The Spiral is expected to be finished around 2022.
VA
Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) has won permission for the world’s first timber football stadium in Gloucestershire at a second attempt

Forest Green Rovers Football Club’s 5,000-seat stadium was approved by Stroud District Council’s planning committee on Wednesday (18 December).

In June, the same planning committee refused the plans, citing noise, traffic and impact on the environment. The proposals were subsequently altered.

Changes include swapping one grass pitch to an all-weather pitch with access to local clubs, a revised landscaping strategy, increased matchday transport and clarifications regarding noise.

The application also includes landscaped parking and two pitches, one a 4G playing surface with access for the local community.

Zaha Hadid Architects won a competition in 2016 to design a sustainable home for the now League Two side, which is the world’s first UN-certified carbon-neutral football club.

The club, which serves vegan food and is powered by renewable energy, is chaired by environmentalist Dale Vince, owner of green energy firm Ecotricity.

It is claimed the practice’s proposals would have created the first football stadium in the world to be built entirely from wood.

Every seat had been calculated to provide unrestricted sightlines to the entire field of play, maximising matchday atmosphere.

Forest Green Rovers, formerly known as Stroud FC, has been based at the New Lawn stadium in Nailsworth since 2006.

Following Vince’s acquisition of the club at the start of this decade, the venue received a flurry of green upgrades including solar panels, a solar-powered robot grass mower and the world’s first organic football pitch.

Vince said, when choosing the Zaha Hadid Architects proposals three years ago: ‘The really standout thing about this stadium is that it’s going to be entirely made of wood – the first time that will have been done anywhere in the world.

‘The importance of using wood is not only that it’s a naturally occurring material, it has very low carbon content – about as low as it gets for a building material.

‘And when you bear in mind that around three-quarters of the lifetime carbon impact of any stadium comes from its building materials, you can see why that’s so important, and it’s why our new stadium will have the lowest carbon content of any stadium in the world.’
Pendry Hotels & Resorts
Pendry Hotels & Resorts recently announced the first release of Pendry Residences West Hollywood by Montage Hotels & Resorts for purchase. Together with AECOM Capital, the investment adviser of global infrastructure firm AECOM, and Combined Properties, a full-service real estate firm, the Residences are scheduled to open in summer 2020.

Pendry Residences West Hollywood will be comprised of a limited collection of 40 private residences with prices starting from $3 million. It occupies a prime, walkable location on Sunset Boulevard, with spectacular views of nearby hills, downtown LA, and the vibrant cityscape.

The overall development is $500 million and consists of two adjacent buildings: one 12-story, 143,670-sq-ft hotel building with 149-room; and a separate 145,804 sq-ft building that houses the 40 luxury residences. There are also 400 below grade parking spots.

“In the heart of the new Sunset Strip, Pendry Residences West Hollywood promises to be unlike anything else in the city and deliver a new level of fully serviced living in modern Los Angeles,” said Warren Wachsberger, AECOM Capital partner and managing director in a press release.

The project is designed by architecture and interior design firm Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects, and executed by Cuningham Group Architects, with interiors by Martin Brudnizki Design Studio. AECOM is serving as construction manager on the project through its AECOM Hunt business. Landscaping is by Lifescapes.

The development is located in a dense urban community, surrounded by three mid-rise hotels on Sunset Boulevard and a residential neighborhood on the south side.

“Due to the denseness of the area, the project is constrained by the amount of laydown available for deliveries and the project’s hours of operations are also limited in order to be sensitive to the adjacent residential neighborhood,” says Paul Giorgio, partner and executive vice president, AECOM Capital. “To minimize disruptions to our neighbors, we have used the project’s subterranean parking garage and piazza for staging and worked with the owner to host several outreaches with the community to communicate upcoming major construction milestones and lane closures.”

Giorgio says these outreaches were critical to gaining the city’s approval for the required lane closures for both tower crane dismantlements. “We have a full time delivery manager stationed at the gate to manage incoming deliveries and to not clog up surrounding streets,” adds Giorgio.

Pendry Residences are highlighted by contemporary architecture that cascades on a terraced site along Sunset Boulevard and Olive Drive. The residences feature generous floorplans - ranging from 2,900 to 6,000 sq-ft - flowing seamlessly to large private verandas. Select units include landscaped terraces of up to 3,400 sq-ft with private pools, spas, and outdoor kitchens.

The Residences include floor-to-ceiling windows, custom-designed kitchens, white oak floors, Poliform walk-in closets and dressing rooms. Each unit is accessed via a private elevator connecting directly to a private resident’s terrace and secured parking. Owner amenities include a private residents’ lobby, rooftop pool, fitness center, garden deck and boardroom. A residential lounge will feature a stocked bar and wine tasting room with private lockers. Other amenities include a multi-purpose live entertainment venue, screening room, bowling alley, Spa Pendry and a curated art collection.

The project is currently about 70 percent complete, with crews working on exterior framing and window walls, interior framing on the upper floors and finishes on the lower levels. Five of 10 elevators are underway.
Architect Magagine
Aaron Betsky on why the work at this year's event gives hope for the future of architecture.

The breadth of the World Architecture Festival, a confab held for the last four years in Amsterdam (but moving to Lisbon next year), is astonishing. I know of no other conference or competition in the field that brings together such a great variety of architecture, interiors, and landscapes projects. Moreover, you can actually understand the many designs that are nominated in a dizzying array of different categories because each of the designers gets 20 minutes to present and defend their projects in front of a jury and a live audience. Inflatable tents that flank the manufacturers’ stands, which show the latest doorknobs and blinds and thus pay a lot of the events’ bills, are home to these non-stop critiques. The juries then pick a winner in each of the categories, which include best interior, best student work, best drawing, and best future building.

This year I had the honor of being a member of the “super jury,” which had the task of picking the best building of the year, which was featured with the other honorees at the event’s closing gala. Working with fellow jury members Anuradha Mathur, Ben van Berkel, Maria Warner Wong, and Murat Tabanlioglu, we picked the LocHal in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Designed by a team of three women-led firms (Braaksma & Roos, Inside/Outside, and Mecanoo), it is the renovation of a former train locomotive repair facility into a library and community hub. Not only was the work carried out with great care and produced a wide variety of beautifully proportioned, open, and functional spaces, but it also brought together four of the most important themes we saw in the work that was produced this last year: the repurposing of existing buildings; the importance of libraries as new community centers; the prominence of women designers, and the emergence and integration of new technologies, in this case the “heat the people, not the space” principle devised by Arup for this job, in which heating and cooling is directed only to those place and at those times when people are present.

What we missed (you can’t have everything in one project) were some other important themes. One was the integration of landscape and building. We saw projects in Singapore, New Zealand, Scotland, and Shenzhen that are more or less buried in the landscape, or where the landscape meanders through the whole building, turning the structures into open public spaces that bring together a variety of functions. Other projects open up to a borrowed landscape, in the manner of the library for the Sekkei-Kokugakuin University in Tokyo, which uses the trees of the adjacent temple yard to shield its massive expanse of glass from the sun. Yet others, like a small religious structure in Abu Dhabi, cloak themselves in the imagery of rocks and desert. It made you think that in the future, those projects that will not disappear into renovations of existing structures will dissolve into the landscape.

A second theme was the uncoupling of form or gesture from function. There was nary a blob to be found in the whole of the festival, nor were there many shards or angles (the notable example being the beautifully detailed and sited dwelling the Australian firm Terroir designed for a site in suburban Sydney, which won the Best House Award). The Weird Stuff category was dominated by Thomas Heatherwick Associates, who vied for the top prize with both the Vessel, their three-dimensional M.C. Escher in New York’s Hudson Yards, and their shopping mall in London, the Coal Drop Yards, where they delaminated and rebuilt the roof of two industrial buildings and curved them up and towards each to house a Samsung Concept Store. All hat (or stairs) and no cattle, as the old Texas saying about show-offs goes, the buildings’ lack of architectonic qualities highlighted that the era of expressionist exploration of technological possibilities is fading.

There were some other notable images and moves spread throughout the festival. I loved the winner of the Best Community Building Award, a small library for a village in southern China designed by teams led by faculty from schools in Hong Kong and Guangzhou. And I wish that more architects who are engaged in such collaborations with local inhabitants and craftspeople could afford the rather steep fees and travel costs that are the festival’s biggest drawback. The “mat building,” a labyrinth of closed and open spaces that hugs the ground and crea
Downtown Brooklyn Partnership
The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership wants to make bold streetscape improvements akin to the recent redesign of 14th Street in Manhattan.

While parts of Brooklyn are famous for their human scale and walkability, the borough’s downtown is not among them. Much of its street design dates back to the Robert Moses era: Broad arterial roads move cars swiftly to the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, public plazas can feel bleak and unsafe, and the collision of three different street grids makes wayfinding difficult.

Yet the neighborhood is one of the fastest growing in New York City. Its population increased 31 percent between 2010 and 2016; the number of jobs also increased between 2010 and 2015, by 26 percent. The neighborhood’s population is expected to double over the next decade.

“The action plan seeks to re-knit, at a pedestrian and bike scale, many of the streets that were widened or cut off,” said Claire Weisz.

The first phase of the plan would link those pedestrian oases via shared streets, known in the Netherlands as woonerfs, where curbs would be eliminated to make room for landscaping and street furniture. A 15-foot-wide winding traffic lane would be retained in these streets, although vehicle speeds would be severely restricted.

The second phase would extend the shared streets through much of the neighborhood, expand sidewalks along Fulton and Livingston Streets and Boerum Place, and add improved pedestrian crossings along Flatbush Avenue.

All of that space reclaimed from cars would make room for some serious greenery. The plan calls for 950 new trees to add to the existing 1,500 in the neighborhood, and a 230 percent increase in permeable surfaces. Planters will do triple duty, not only as homes for trees but also as benches and as barriers protecting people from cars.

Cyclists would get new protected lanes along Boerum Place, Schermerhorn Street, and Fulton Street. To make room for bike lanes and expanded sidewalks on the Fulton Mall—a corridor that sees higher peak-hour pedestrian traffic than Wall Street—eastbound buses would be diverted one block south to Livingston Street.
Arup
Arup, a global consulting engineering firm, recently welcomed clients and partners to its 65,000-sf, four-floor Toronto offices to unveil two new ‘incubators,’ the Maker’s and Pegasus Labs.

Maker’s Lab (pictured above) facilitates modelling, production, assembly and prototyping. The open collaboration space is equipped with a laser cutter, 3-D printers, manual tools and common materials like wood, composites, plastics, light metals and cardstock. Arup encourages using discarded materials for sketch models and early concepts or prototypes.

Pegasus Lab, meanwhile, is dedicated to experiential design through digital engineering workflows and visualizations of operational processes and designs. It features virtual reality (VR), gesture recognition, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, video analytics, augmented reality (AR) and Arup’s own Neuron ‘smart building’ platform.

“Arup was the first firm to embrace digital engineering in 1957 during the design of the Sydney Opera House by using the Pegasus computer,” explains Justin Trevan, the company’s digital technology consulting and advisory services leader for Canada. “Today, the firm continues to innovate for efficient, sustainable and economical solutions.”

In addition to live demos in the two new labs, guests experienced such installations as Motion Platform, which allows users to feel the vibrations of a building while it is still on the drawing board, and Mobile Sound Lab, an immersive audiovisual (AV) environment with simulations of both existing and as-yet-unbuilt spaces.
Build Out Alliance
For years, construction workers have faced the risk of being ostracized, bullied or fired over their sexual orientation or gender identity. After a lengthy job search in 2008, Jackie Richter, who was transitioning from male to female at the time, says a concrete contractor who wanted to hire her said, “You’ve got the experience, you’ve got the knowledge, and you’d be a great part of our team … but leave your girl clothes home and come as a man.”

The same year, a successful architect, who wishes to remain anonymous due to fear of reprisals, said he was fired when the owners of his company monitored his texts and found out he was gay.

More recently, Guillermo Díaz-Fañas experienced microaggressions at a previous employer due to his perceived mannerisms, even though he wasn’t out as a gay man at the time. Things escalated to the point where unfounded rumors spread among his colleagues that he had AIDS, based solely on the suspicion of his sexual orientation. When he raised concerns to one of his supervisors, nothing happened. “That’s when I understood that it was the leaders who had the problem with me,” he says.

Today, all three have overcome these negative experiences and work to show how inclusivity benefits the industry. Richter owns two successful construction companies in the Chicago area. The architect started his own practice and Díaz-Fañas founded Queer Advocacy and Knowledge Exchange (Qu-AKE), one of the first construction industry groups in the U.S. for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) workers. He also moved to a more inclusive workplace, at WSP, where he thrives as an award-winning senior technical principal.
Noah Pylvainen, Perkins and Will
Once perceived as "intimidating" by her colleagues, the principal and director of global diversity at Perkins and Will went from following the rules to defining them.

This op-ed appeared in the December 2019 issue of ARCHITECT. On Dec. 12, 2019, The American Institute of Architects announced Gabrielle Bullock, FAIA, as the recipient of the 2020 Whitney M. Young Jr. Award.

Big change can come from people who never expected to become change makers—from people who frequently second-guessed themselves, who look different from everyone else, and who never jumped the line. The tortoises, not the hares.

I had always been a rule-follower who stays the course—an idealist empowered by personal ambition and my mother’s encouragement. When I decided to become an architect, I pursued design with little fear of failure. Looking back, I realize that harnessing my own naive bravery was the best thing I could have done.

My formal training in architecture began at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1979. I knew I had earned my seat there, but, deep down, I continuously felt “less than.” I didn’t anticipate that I’d be the only black woman in my classes, or that I’d have to find my tribe outside of architecture, among other students of color. Suppressing feelings of isolation, inadequacy, and invisibleness, I focused on working my ass off.

The architectural jargon was foreign and unintelligible, and I struggled to understand what the professors and critics were saying. I realize now that this was very much the egocentric, starchitect era of design education. This was their platform to shine, and they commanded it.

Recognizing that this was part of the game that would lead me to success, I worked even harder to learn their language. Once I grasped the concepts, I no longer felt inadequate. I even felt empowered to break the rules I had struggled to understand.

In 1984, I became the second black woman ever to graduate RISD’s architecture department—and with A’s no less. After 21 years in the profession, I was tapped to be managing director of my firm’s Los Angeles office. I was flattered, scared, and surprised, but with encouragement from my tribe, I became the first woman and first African American to hold that role, firmwide.

Once I grasped the concepts, I ... felt empowered to break the rules I had struggled to understand.

As a woman with a direct communication style, I learned over time from peers that some colleagues and staff perceived me as “intimidating.” Though I was the leader of my office, my requests, statements, and directives were met frequently with resistance. Self-reflection, coaching, and soul-searching occupied a good deal of my time; realizing what you can adapt while remaining true to yourself, and recognizing and addressing gender or racial bias are strategies I’ve had to develop throughout my design career.

While not dismissing the existence of unconscious biases, I chose to modify my professional style not only to keep my hard-earned seat at the table, but also to ensure my voice was heard, and, ultimately, to become the leader of the room. I mastered the rules to win the game.

In 2013, I was ready to make my next move at the firm. After completing several international projects and taking stock of my own experiences, I had cultural competency on my mind. I wanted the profession to be more equitable, diverse, and inclusive. I believed that we could change what we design by changing who designs it.

With the agency I had earned, I chose to develop a firmwide diversity and inclusion program, which I now lead. All my academic and professional experiences, advancements, and challenges have brought me to this point in my career.

Calls to diversify the complexion and cultural makeup of the design profession to better mirror the society we serve have become louder and more intense, with many more voices chiming in. But we have a long way to go. To women and underrepresented groups, I say harness your inner strength, find your tribe, and then use your voice. Being the only one in the room can be your platform to shine.
Kaizen Development Partners
The new $1 billion+ mixed-use project from Kaizen Development Partners, Woods Capital, and Dundon Capital will reshape the Dallas skyline.

Opportunities like these don’t come around very often, and the partners behind the new Field Street District are determined to get it right. Kaizen Development Partners, Woods Capital, and Dundon Capital acquired two prime tracts on McKinney Avenue at Field Street this past summer, and have selected HKS Inc. as lead designer on their new mixed-use project.

Initial plans call for 1.2 million square feet of office space—in 700,000-square-foot and 500,000-square-foot towers—a hotel, and two residential towers with about 300 units in each. There also will be about 30,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet in amenity space, mostly restaurants and resident/tenant services.

“To be able to influence the Dallas skyline in a meaningful way, with what we’re doing vertically and horizontally—rarely do you get a chance to do this in an urban environment,” says Derrick Evers, CEO of Kaizen Development.

Along with HKS Inc., Beck is working on pre-construction and Kimley-Horn is the civil engineer. The project is getting support from Downtown Dallas Inc., DART, the City of Dallas, and other stakeholders, says Jonas Woods, CEO of Woods Development. “Everyone sees this as an important domino that needs to fall for the continued recreation of the urban fabric to take place,” he says. “It’s an incredible placemaking opportunity.”

The vision is to create a verdant neighborhood that’s grounded in nature. HKS was selected to lead the design, Woods says, because the firm paid a lot of attention to the ground plane: “It’s fundamental to the success of everything above … One of the concepts HKS came forward with is the idea of an elevated walkway on top of the DART rail line that runs along the property.”

The partners expect to break ground in the summer or fall of 2020, depending on preleasing. Interest in the project among brokers and potential tenants is brisk, Evers says.

“We’re hearing about some great deals in the market that are too big for some of the boutique buildings in Uptown,” he says. “We don’t have those limitations; we have the ability to do more than 1 million square feet. We’re holding a big catcher’s mitt.”