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Marie Tagudena
President Joe Biden has formally unveiled the framework of an ambitious $2-trillion-plus economic stimulus/job creation package that would include hundreds of billions of dollars for highways, bridges, transit, passenger rail, water systems, airports, marine ports, schools and other types of infrastructure around the country.

Construction industry groups and congressional Democrats praised the wide-ranging proposal's focus on significant infrastructure spending. But contractor groups and Republicans criticized Biden's proposed "pay-for," an increase in the corporate tax rate.

Biden, introducing the proposal in a speech March 31 at a Carpenters' union training center in Pittsburgh, called it "a once in a generation investment in America."

He said the spending in the proposal, which the administration is calling the American Jobs Plan, would generally be spread over eight years.

In a briefing for reporters the evening of March 30, an administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “We think that these are investments that, as a country, we cannot afford not to make,” the official said.

As Biden has indicated for months, a major theme of the plan is addressing the effects of climate change, including elements to boost use of electric vehicles and funding to increase resilience of infrastructure.

According to a White House summary of the proposal, the administration is grouping the components, and spending, under four main headings:
  • How We Move (including transportation infrastructure): $600 billion
  • How We Live at Home (including drinking water, broadband, public housing): $650 billion
  • How We Care (including raising wages and benefits for home-care workers): $400 billion
  • How We Make and Create (including increased research and development spending): $580 billion
Most of the sectors that ENR traditionally views as construction-related infrastructure fall in the first two categories. ENR's initial estimate of funding for such infrastructure is $990 billion.

'Heart of the Plan': Transportation funding
In his speech, Biden called the $600-billion transportation portion of his proposal "the heart of the plan." That How We Move sector's total includes $115 billion for roads and bridges; $85 billion for public transit; $80 billion for Amtrak and freight rail; and $174 billion for facilities related to electric vehicles, chiefly a network of charging stations around the U.S.

The roads funding would upgrade 20,000 miles of highways, roads and main streets, according to an administration document, and address “the ten most economically significant bridges in the country in need of reconstruction,” plus “the worst 10,000 smaller bridges.”

Also in the transportation category are: $25 billion for airports; $17 billion for ports and inland waterways and land ports of entry (border stations); $20 billion for projects to improve environmental justice; $25 billion for a fund for “ambitious projects;” and $50 billion to make infrastructure more resilient in the face of storms, fires and other natural disasters.

Water, Energy, Environment

The Where We Live category would include $111 billion to replace lead pipes and service lines. Of that total, $45 billion would go for the existing Drinking Water State Revolving Funds and $56 billion for water grants.

Also in this section are: $100 billion to install broadband; $100 billion to improve the electric grid—including a new investment tax credit; and $16 billion to plug “orphan” oil and gas wells and clean up abandoned mines. It also would have $5 billion for Superfund and brownfield projects and $10 billion to establish a new Civilian Climate Corps, an echo of the Depression-era New Deal’s Civilian Conservation Corps.

In addition, that category proposes substantial amounts for various types of buildings. Allotments include $40 billion for public housing infrastructure and $100 billion to construct or upgrade public schools.

Half of the schools funding would come through grants and half would be financed through bonds. Another $12 billion would go to community college facilities and $25 billion to child care facilities.

In addition, $18 billion in the Where We Live section would be allocated to Dept. of Veterans Affairs hospitals and clini
Peter Clarke
Looking ahead, how will the world of work be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic? And how will this change the way we design workplaces and commercial buildings?

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the loss of more than a million lives globally, shifted the white-collar world to remote working and students to remote learning, and triggered the worst peacetime recession in 100 years.

History reveals that societal crises have the power to instigate major changes. World War II drew women into the workforce out of necessity. After the war, the shift persisted, accelerating women’s participation in the workforce. The 9/11 terrorist attacks reshaped attitudes to surveillance and personal privacy and during the 2003 SARS outbreak in China, people were afraid to leave the house, triggering a rise in e-commerce that paved the way for digital giants such as Alibaba.

Architecture has been similarly impacted. Material shortages during World War II drove innovation in building technology, advancing the modernist movement as cities were rebuilt in the aftermath. Perhaps more pertinent, modernist architecture can also be understood as a consequence of the fear of disease. Tuberculosis was one of the most pressing health concerns of the early twentieth century. Dark rooms and dusty corners where bacteria lurk were replaced with expansive windows and terraces. Finnish architect Alvar Aalto described the purpose of his Paimio Sanatorium “to function as a medical instrument.”

While we cannot be certain what the future holds, here we re-imagine a future five years on that has been positively impacted by the disruption of COVID-19.

Healthy and Sustainable

Over the course of 2020’s prolonged restrictions, mental health declined significantly. Only 45 percent of people described their mindset as positive and only 32 percent felt their ability to separate life and work was as effective while working remotely, compared to before the pandemic.

Wellbeing conversations are now on the table and wellbeing has become a measure of organizational performance. Indeed, organizations that prioritize their people have fared best through the COVID-19 pandemic. They have attracted and retained the best talent and are achieving competitive advantage from the creativity, empathy and problem-solving ability of their future-ready workforce.

Designers have adopted the World Health Organization’s Manifesto for a healthy and green recovery from COVID-19, launched during the peak of the pandemic.5 Design has responded by meaningfully integrating initiatives that will benefit the physical, cognitive, emotional and social wellbeing of the workforce, together with environmentally sustainable design initiatives.

New policies now mandate minimum wellbeing standards and building owners and organizations are incentivized to reach exemplar standards, which as a preventive health measure, will offset substantial costs to the community to treat the unwell.

Outdoor and naturally ventilated spaces have become the norm. Sophis-ticated building systems enable flexibility to switch between maximum fresh air to minimum fresh air (when pollution levels are high, such as during the bushfires) to provide the healthiest mechanically ventilated indoor spaces. Significant areas of planting are now mandated for each building to improve biodiversity and air quality in our cities – green roofs, terraces, pocket parks and indoor biophilia will be prevalent – greening our buildings and our cities. Slender floorplates prevail as C-grade space (deeper than 12 metres from perimeter glazing) is eradicated, giving occupants optimal access to natural light and connection to views and changing light as the day unfolds.

Community

The loneliness epidemic that impacted a devastatingly high number of people pre-COVID-19 ballooned out of proportion during the social isolation of the pandemic.7 While working remotely, only 30 percent of people felt as well connected to their colleagues by late 2020 as they did before the pandemic – a 19 percent reduction since the initial pivot to remote working in early 2020.8 With our brains wired for social connection, scientific studies show the importance of workplaces (on both a tenancy and building scale) to connect people and form communities, as well as the productivity benefits of happy workers (+12 percent increase in productivity).9 Leveraging Denmark’s enviable top position in a global workforce happiness index, the Danish model of a fixed lunchtime has been adopted.10 Organizations p
Brooks + Scarpa
Architectural firm Brooks + Scarpa recently unveiled its design concept for the new Miami Beach Aquatic Center and Park. Among two pools and thousands of square feet worth of retail and community space, the project will highlight local plants and trees with native landscaping. The project is one of three finalists for the new community area in Florida.

The community park will span three acres and will protect existing trees while adding a plethora of native plants to create its own microclimate. Additionally, the building’s green roof planters will harvest and treat stormwater, and all water runoff from the site will be directed to a system that will allow it to be reused for irrigation.

In a unique ecological setting like Florida, including native plants in landscape designers is an easy choice. Local plants are already adapted to the local climate and soil conditions and often do not require pesticides or as much irrigation (helping to prevent erosion). Plus, they are important for local pollinators like bees and hummingbirds.

In addition to the green planters, the building’s roof also features solar panels to provide an alternative energy source during peak electricity hours. Located just a block from the beach, the structure’s ocean-facing terraces provide sweeping views for community members to enjoy. There is a 50-meter competition pool and a 25-meter multipurpose pool as well as a fitness center to promote healthy lifestyles.

The architects hope that the center can become a “Community Living Room” for the local North Beach area, providing a central gathering space in a district that is already embracing walkability. There are spots to unwind but equal space to socialize with friends or shop thanks to the 10,000 square feet of retail. A 7,500-square-foot branch library welcomes students and community members to relax and learn. Tying the aquatic center and park together will be the parking lot, which is stacked to reduce its footprint and provide direct access to the lush green space.
Robert Benson
Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the King Open/Cambridge Street Upper Schools and Community Complex recently won a coveted honor in the sustainable design category from the 2020 Boston Society for Architecture Design Awards. The complex is the first in the state to gain both Net Zero Emissions and LEED v4 Platinum designations, and it uses 43% less energy than the average local school and 70% less than the average United States school.

Composed of multiple green and open spaces as well as five playgrounds to accommodate K-5 and 6-8 students, the $159 million complex spans 270,000 square feet. Headed by William Rawn Associates and Architecture with Arrowstreet, the project includes facilities for an elementary school, middle school, administration, preschool, afterschool, library, pool, human services programs and a parking garage.

“The project successfully leverages many sustainable tools and strategies: geothermal wells, great expanses of photovoltaic on all of the roof real estate; the smart use of an urban site,” said the award jury for the Sustainable Design Awards. “In addition to the design team’s masterful design, the City of Cambridge deserves recognition for its investment in an ambitious project that sets the bar for future schools and libraries.” The project is 100% electric and welcomes both students and the public to help promote community fellowship.



June Williamson/Wiley
Blaine Brownell reviews "Case Studies in Retrofitting Suburbia," the latest book by June Williamson and Ellen Dunham-Jones.

In Italo Calvino’s novel Invisible Cities, one of the imagined metropolises, Penthesilea, conjures the disconcerting placelessness of suburbia. “You advance for hours and it is not clear to you whether you are already in the city’s midst or still outside it,” the novelist writes. “Like a lake with low shores lost in swamps, so Penthesilea spreads for miles around, a soupy city diluted in the plain; pale buildings and corrugated-iron sheds.”

The unsatisfying and unnerving ambiguity of suburban development, captured with Calvino’s flair in the fable of Penthesilia, has long been met with critical disdain. In the late 20th century, architectural theorists condemned the suburbs for their vapidity and diminution of the meaning of place. More recently, the suburbs have been denounced for their detrimental ecological footprint and deleterious effect on residents’ mental health. Now, as we slowly begin to re-emerge from our pandemic-induced quarantine, we will undoubtedly see the built environment in a new light. What future do we envision for the suburbs?

Case Studies in Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Strategies for Urgent Challenges (Wiley, 2021) aims to answer this question. Written by CUNY architecture chair June Williamson and Georgia Tech architecture professor Ellen Dunham-Jones, the book is a sequel to the authors’ acclaimed Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs (Wiley, 2008), which the Chicago Tribune called “the Bible of the retrofitting movement.” The new volume builds on the original, with 32 case studies and enhanced research documenting how defunct parking lots, vacant shopping malls, and even abandoned airfields are being transformed to solve contemporary problems: increasing environmental performance, improving public health and social capital, and responding to an aging demographic.

The book is organized into two parts: a collection of topical themes and the project case studies. The first half, titled “Urgent suburban challenges,” consists of these chapters: “Disrupt automobile dependence,” “Improve public health,” “Support an aging population,” “Leverage social capital for equity,” “Compete for jobs,” and “Add water and energy resilience.” These six strategies comprise the fundamental toolkit for adapting existing suburban developments to meet 21st century needs. The approaches also uniformly nudge the suburbs to become less ... suburban.

For example, undermining automobile dependence is, if anything, an inherently anti-suburban act. Although the first suburbs in the U.S. were connected by commuter rail lines, today’s suburban paradigm is based on the automobile-dependent developments that proliferated after World War II. Williamson and Dunham-Jones distinguish how modern suburban road configurations create problems not found with urban and pre-automobile networks. Roads, the authors remind us, are all about mobility, whereas streets are all about access. Suburbia’s pervasive mistake is attempting to bring street-like functionality to roads, making them “stroads”—a term devised by engineer Charles Marohn to describe this “very dangerous” and confusing mash-up. Not only should the two types be kept separate, but they should both facilitate multiple forms of mobility.

Consider so-called “complete streets,” which are designed to enable transit by pedestrians, bicycles, buses, and service vehicles in addition to cars. The book points to Aurora Avenue North outside Seattle as a retrofitting case study, illustrating how this once car-centric arterial corridor has been updated with new green medians, sidewalks, crosswalks, and dedicated rapid bus lanes.

Architects and planners should also consider ways to make the most of social capital in existing communities. A common misperception about the suburbs is that they are racially and socioeconomically homogeneous, and centered around a white middle-class way of life. But as the historians Becky Nicolaides and Andrew Wiese have pointed out, suburbia has become increasingly diversified thanks to increased immigration, the shift from a manufacturing- to a service-focused economy, aging baby boomers, and the Civil Rights movement.

Williamson and Dunham-Jones advocate the incorporation of Ray Oldenburg’s 1970s concept of the “third place”—a location for informal mixing and discussion—into suburba
Architectural Record
Early in March, the board of directors of the International Code Council (ICC) moved to overhaul the process for developing its model energy code. The controversial change entails switching from a framework in which thousands of ICC members, who are government officials, voted on code updates to one that puts the power largely in the hands of committees appointed by the ICC board, with representatives from trade groups and other interests. The shift has been widely criticized by efficiency proponents who worry it will give too much say to those with a financial stake in the outcome, compromising the code’s effectiveness as a tool for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

The decision comes in the wake of the finalization of the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Published in December, it is the code’s most energy-efficient edition. Buildings constructed according to the 2021 IECC would be between 8 and 14 percent more efficient than the previous version, published in 2018. Environmental advocates say the latest code is the product of deep engagement by ICC members—officials working for building departments or those connected to public health and safety—pointing to the large number of votes cast. Many of the 2021 IECC’s key efficiency provisions received more than 1,000 votes in favor, says Amy Boyce, associate director of codes and technical strategy at the Institute for Market Transformation, which promotes high-performance buildings. In previous code cycles, proposals typically received between 200 and 300 votes, total.

In response to the unprecedented participation of so many members, some industry groups, mainly those representing builders and natural-gas utilities, called the results into question. They lodged appeals, seeking the removal of more than 20 energy-saving provisions. They were ultimately successful in quashing a handful relating to wiring that would make buildings electric-ready. The groups, which included the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), maintain that such features can increase the cost of construction, threatening affordability. The organization has praised the new framework. “This is an important change that we expect to result in a model energy code that meets the needs of consumers, builders, building officials and energy efficiency advocates,” said NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke, in a statement.

Groups like NAHB will have more influence in the future. The new development committees will encompass interest categories that include manufacturers, builders, the insurance industry, and consumers, with only one-third of the seats reserved for government regulators.

Ryan Colker, an ICC vice president, argues that the new framework will accelerate code adoption, noting that some jurisdictions are still using the 2009 edition. IMT’s Boyce is skeptical. “The process that resulted in the 2021 IECC involved the highest number of governmental officials to date. Removing their say would likely undermine their willingness to advocate for the latest version,” she says.

Overall, sustainability proponents are perplexed by the need for a new process, especially since the latest development cycle delivered significant efficiency improvements. This past winter, the proposed framework drew comments from more than 200 individuals and organizations. According to IMT, more than 75 percent of these were in opposition to the change, with the National League of Cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the National Association of State Energy Officials expressing their disapproval.

The AIA has also been sharply critical. “We are deeply disappointed to see the ICC move forward with this change, which we believe will present a step backwards for climate action,” said a statement from Robert Ivy, the AIA EVP/chief executive officer.

Despite the ICC’s seemingly regressive move, champions of continued code improvement say that cities and states with ambitious climate goals have options. Jim Edelson, director of policy for the nonprofit New Buildings Institute (NBI), points to the Building Decarbonization Code that his organization developed with the Natural Resources Defense Council as a more rigorous overlay to base codes. “We see a lot of interest in alternatives to the IECC if it does not produce the desired outcomes.”
Thinking Huts
International architectural firm Studio Mortazavi has teamed up with Colorado-based nonprofit Thinking Huts to propose designs for the world’s first 3D-printed school to be located in southern Madagascar. Developed to improve access to education in remote and impoverished areas, the modular concept taps into 3D printing for its low-carbon benefits and ability to shorten construction time from months to a matter of days. The design team, which has also partnered with Finland-based 3D technology company Hyperion Robotics and local Madagascar university EMIT, hopes to break ground on the pilot project in 2021.

The 3D-printed pilot school will follow a low-cost modular design for scalability and adaptability. Inspired by a beehive, each wedge-shaped module will be printed from clay with natural pigments from the local landscape, then joined together with other units into a variety of configurations. Each module can be used as a standalone classroom that accommodates 20 children with space for a library, reading area, whiteboard desks and chairs, two individual toilets, a shared sink and storage. The modules can also be easily adapted for other uses such as a dance studio, woodworking shop and even housing. The eco-minded prototype project is expected to feature a vertical garden on the outside of its 3D-printed walls as well as rooftop solar panels and a rainwater harvesting system.

“We are thrilled to be working with Studio Mortazavi who is at the forefront of design and innovation, forming a strong partnership that values sustainability within the construction industry as we seek to increase access to education via 3D-printed schools,” said Maggie Grout, founder of Thinking Huts. “We believe education is the vital catalyst to solving global issues ranging from gender inequality to poverty; achievable through local partnerships, we are building a future where communities have the necessary infrastructure to ensure that education is accessible to all.”

Todd A. Smith Photography / courtesy Nichols Design Associates
Improving diversity and inclusion in the profession will require companies to ensure people with sensory disabilities can communicate "on an equal footing with those who do not have such disabilities."

“Can you read my lips?” “How do you communicate with others at work?” “You can do the technical drafting under the project leadership.” These are examples of questions and statements that deaf or hard-of-hearing professionals are often asked or told in design companies today. Yet Title I of the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 requires companies with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified deaf or hard-of-hearing job applicants without discrimination. Are employers aware of this requirement and how to meet it? For example, do they know whether ADA’s definition of “reasonable accommodations” explicitly includes American Sign Language, interpreters, or closed captioning on communication display devices that deaf job applicants require during the interview hiring process?

The topic of deaf people in the workplace is likely considered by few owners and principals in their day-to-day lives due to their lack of interaction with deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. Employers may not know that the provision of effective communications access entails enabling people with sensory disabilities to communicate—and be communicated with—on an equal footing with those who do not have such disabilities.

According to a 2019 National Deaf Center report, only 53% of deaf people were employed in 2017, versus 76% of hearing people. During the hiring process, accommodation for a disability is hardly considered without an explicit demand by the candidate. Another common oversight is the prerequisite that a prospective employee possesses oral communication and/or presentation skills in the support of team collaboration. However, do employers consider the different modes of communication that team members can utilize to exchange information?

In 2016, I founded World Deaf Architecture, a not-for profit organization that is involved within the subdivision activities of the AIA Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Approximately 20% of AIA members identify as having a disability, which can include hearing loss. With the support of the Office of EDI and in support of other minority and women advocacy groups, WDA hopes to engage leaders among the AIA membership and the Institute’s Knowledge Communities.

WDA aims to grow membership of deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals in related professionals and collaborate with topically relevant KCs on providing resources about the needs of the deaf community, such as guidance on reasonable accommodations for professionals working in the architectural studio. It is seeking to connect with design professionals in the arenas of health care, education, social justice, affordable housing, among others, and to infuse new resources into existing programs and public meetings.

Our dedicated members will share career development resources at AIA events and engage with appropriate groups to help highlight the need for greater diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We are optimistic that our new training program will enhance understanding of accessible communication and foster strong working relationships and connections outside the AIA.

Through small and bold actions, WDA is creating opportunities for the deaf community. While leading the evolution of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 into the current ADA of 1990, former President George H.W. Bush had received many letters from the parents of children with disabilities who expressed anger and angst at the discrimination against their child’s disability. From 1984 to 1986, Bush started a new initiative for disability rights and submitted the report as an early draft of the ADA to Congress in February 1986. Four years later, he signed the ADA into law as president. We know we cannot wait for closed doors to magically open on their own.

As the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, WDA will move forward with its overarching goal to increase access to employment opportunities for deaf architects across the nation. The organization will provide AIA member training on the benefits of hiring, developing, and promoting design professionals with hearing loss, as well as resources for hard-of-hearing architects to grow their own practices. Moreover, WDA plans to provide mentoring to deaf architecture students in the foreseeable future. We will hold steadfast to our vision of building an organizational structure that can sustain deaf, de
Gensler / BMW Designworks
While overall vehicle sales declined last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic battery electric vehicles (BEVs) swam against the current, capturing record market share and on track to continue to do so. According to IHS Markit, BEVs accounted for 1.8% of the U.S. Market in 2020 and accounted for 2.5% of vehicle registrations in December, also a record. It's a trend the market research company predicts is on a trajectory to reach 3.5% U.S. Market share this year and 10% by 2025.

That's a big chunk of vehicles on the road that aren't powered by gasoline or diesel, and growing. So what happens to the 180,000 filling stations that depend on motorists to pop in, fill up, maybe grab a snack or a drink then go on their way? A new study by architectural firm Gensler and the BMW Designworks, the German automaker's design innovation studio, imagines they'll eventually give way to radically different facilities that take into account the longer time it takes to recharge a vehicle's battery as well as the pandemic-fueled trend of more people working away from an office.

“We start to think about when you’re coming for charging and you may be pausing for a period of time. How could that time be utilized not as a pass through,” said Jordan Goldstein, Global Director of Design at Gensler told Forbes.com. “A reimagined or a new age community center where you're bringing people together in ways that give opportunities to relax, to focus, to mingle, to entertain. Relaxing could be just a place to pause, it could be a place to decompress, perhaps a lounge.”

Brooker calls the concept of these new spaces that are better integrated with our lives Nth spaces which he defines as “space between mobility and architecture.” It doesn’t only apply to service stations, but to places such as office buildings or parking garages.

The workday isn't nine to five in an office anymore. It's a blend of experiences and locations,” Brooker explains. “Companies downsized office space somewhat. You're gonna go to work …still gonna want your private space. What if the car becomes your private space at work. With this blur of boundary we're talking about. That becomes a much more possible option.”

Brooker explains the functions of a future service facility could be broken down into three experiences:
  • Zone: Where you’re building 30 minutes in your life where you can decompress. Perhaps stay in your vehicle to watch a movie.
  • Booster: Time to be productive. Get some work done or send/reply to emails.
  • Clubhouse: Attend social or networking events in the facility's gathering space.
One might rightfully ask, why in the world would I want to gather at a gas station? The answer is simple. Goldstein and Brooker explain the Covid-19 pandemic has become the “great accelerator” for more people working in remote locations but who still either require or crave human interaction, or just a change of scene.

“Imagine I'm working in my vehicle, you're working in your vehicle. We're working for the same organization,” said Goldstein. “I'm able to be super productive and focused but we do need to interact. Imagine that this idea gives us the facility to come together but to do so with other colleagues and to to plug in and capture access to other amenities that we may need.”

It all begs the question of how to break motorists of a more than century-old habit of spending as brief a time as possible to fill up then flee.

“It seems like evolving lifestyles, emerging technologies and reverberations of Covid-19 are laying the groundwork for a new paradigm in urban living,” explains Goldstein. “so this seems like it can help almost introduce new behaviors in a way that if experiences are positive that invites you to come and stay and pause longer or sample the different experiences at different times or structure your day differently.

Neil Brooker likens the ideas for future service centers to those of concept vehicles that showcase design and technical ideas to help gauge public interest in determining which get the green light for production and what goes into the dustbin. In this case, Gensler and BMW Designworks are hoping to spark interest in partner organizations to begin actually building centers based on the concepts.

“If we could find the right partners to partner with us to do that we would love to d
Las Vegas Review-Journal
It was inevitable that security robots would one-day patrol low-income neighborhoods around the clock to ensure everyone was abiding by the rules. This dystopic future is becoming a reality for one apartment complex in Las Vegas.

Robotics maker Knightscope deployed a human-sized autonomous robot to a noisy northeast Las Vegas Valley apartment, said the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "Westy" has been patrolling Liberty Village Apartments near Craig Road and Lamb Boulevard since October 2020.

Westy employs an array of cameras, four in total, along with facial recognition technology, license plate reading, verbal warnings, and internet connectivity to human security officers if an incident occurs.

"It's been very useful in several ways," said complex manager Carmen Batiz.

"It can advise people when they are out past the 10 p.m. curfew, and the four video cameras tend to make people avoid it. When we have vandalism reports, we can go through the video and get a time frame of when it happened. It has a button so people can get human help quick in an emergency.

"People don't want to get caught on the cameras so they will avoid it," Batiz said.

Liberty Village Apartments was one of the top three northeast Las Vegas residential living areas for 911 calls. Many of the folks are working-poor Americans, situated in an area known for crime and vandalism.

Westy has had some success over the last several months as 911 calls have dropped and crime is lower. Batiz said, "We have eight other properties, and we're going to bring on more robots, and even the Wynn had people come check it out."

"Every resident has the right to live in a crime-free, safe and clean environment, and Westy helps contribute to that," said Batiz.

More or less, private companies who manage residential multi-family complexes are resorting to automation and artificial intelligence to deter violence, theft, and murders as the post-pandemic world become a more dangerous place.

Changes are coming to metro areas as well. The working-poor will feel more oppressed as big brother will continue to monitor their every move through innovative ways such as human-sized autonomous robots.

It's only a matter of time before local governments and municipalities, and even state governments employ fleets of human-sized autonomous robots to maintain law and order.

We should remind readers NYPD's Boston Dynamics robot dog for ground surveillance of low-income neighborhoods is already underway...

What's next is the unveiling of predictive policing via artificial intelligence that will monitor low-income neighborhoods if there's a potential flare-up in a crime or social disobedience. Maybe by that time, the Federal Reserve could instantly reload people's bank accounts in those troubled areas with Fedcoin (digital US dollars) to keep the impoverished at bay.
Bryony Roberts Studio
This New York-based practice draws on the fields of art, historic preservation, and architecture to design community-based projects with lasting impact.

Location: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Year founded: 2012
Firm leadership: Bryony Roberts
Education: M.Arch., Princeton School of Architecture; B.A., Yale University
Experience: WORKac in New York; Mansilla + Tuñón Arquitectos in Madrid

Personality of the practice: Both serious and playful. We tackle difficult issues, but we use joy and play to bring people to the table.

Firm mission: The practice creates community-based projects in the public realm. We produce immersive environments and events that transform existing public spaces, addressing their complex architectural and social histories. We combine methods from art, architecture, and historic preservation to pursue expanded site-specificity, responding not only to the existing architecture and landscape, but also to layers of social history and contemporary urban change.

First commission: It was actually self-initiated—an installation at the Neutra VDL House in Los Angeles. Funded by a Graham Foundation Grant, the project explored creative preservation, intertwining new design and historical architecture. The installation included volumes of blue cord that extended the grid lines of the building and were hung from aluminum frames that fit snugly into the existing aluminum details.

Defining project: Marching On, which was a collaboration with Mabel O. Wilson and the Marching Cobras of New York. Commissioned by the Storefront for Art and Architecture, and presented with Performa 17, this research, performance, and exhibition project was a multiyear exploration of how marching band performances in African American communities have been important mediums of cultural and political expression. It examined how ephemeral actions and performances can be just as powerful as built structures in transforming public spaces, and benefited enormously from the collaboration with the young performers of the Marching Cobras. The project provided a meaningful foundation for developing methods of social practice, collaboration, and research to inform interventions in public space, and received support from the Graham Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and Performa 17.

Another important project: Soft Civic, which was commissioned by Exhibit Columbus in 2019 and transformed the City Hall building by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The project was an opportunity to engage a charged political space through both design and programming. Custom-fabricated structures with colorful woven surfaces activated the public spaces around the building’s main entrance as destinations for play, performance, and participation.

Soft Civic was soft in terms of both its program—combining relaxation and political participation—as well as its material quality. The structures explored the softness of textiles at a monumental scale. Made using macramé knotting of nylon rope by Powerhouse Arts in Brooklyn, the woven panels bring the textures of domestic space and the histories of domestic "women’s work" into the public sphere, encouraging playfulness and interaction at a site of governance. During the exhibition, the new structures hosted a series of community-driven events on the themes of democracy and leadership. The project won Best Temporary Installation of 2019 from the Architect’s Newspaper, and was moved to a new permanent home at the Columbus Air Park.
Ken McLaughlin / Hearst Bay Area
The plan was simple: Connect the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge via a freeway. It was the 1950s and everyone loved freeways. What could go wrong? Nearly everything.

The Embarcadero Freeway is widely considered one of the biggest mistakes the city ever made. For 32 years, a concrete monstrosity barricaded San Franciscans from the bay waters, shrouded the iconic Ferry Building in smog and made lots of residents very mad. Photographs of it now look like a very different, unsightly city. And while (nearly) everyone hated it, it took an earthquake to tear it down.

Here's the story of the ugliest thing San Francisco ever built (until the Salesforce Tower).

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Postwar America was a concrete-spewing monster, and California led the way in the freeway binge.

San Francisco, a tight city of dense housing and many, many hills, does not lend itself to sprawling highways, but that didn't stop city officials making big infrastructure plans.

Top of the wish list for city officials was an artery connecting the city's two famous bridges, and this would start with a double-decker freeway running from the Bay Bridge up the eastern shore of the city.

Despite there being public outcry before it was even built, in 1959 the first section of what was named California State Route 480 was opened. Drivers could now swoop off the Bay Bridge and find themselves on Broadway in North Beach and Chinatown in a matter of minutes.

The Chronicle didn't mince its words in editorials published that year, referring to the new thoroughfare as a "hideous monstrosity" and "such an evil."

"A few jackhammers and a wrecking ball or two could in practically no time at all beat this monstrous mistake into concrete chunks of a size convenient for hauling away," the paper wrote two weeks after its opening.

To get an idea of how the route worked, this time-lapse footage from the experimental 1982 movie "Koyaanisqatsi" shows a driver taking the freeway north and exiting on the Washington Street ramp that was added in 1965 (to a mesmerizing Philip Glass soundtrack).

But less than a decade after Eisenhower's freeway utopia started laying concrete tendrils throughout America, an emerging environmental movement grew in California alongside the counterculture shift of the '60s.

"The Freeway Revolt" pitted environmentalists and residents, outraged by the idea of their neighborhoods being cut in two with an expressway, against city and state planners keen to realize a modern vision of mass transit in America.

Freeway plans for San Francisco didn't stop at joining the two bridges. A crosstown tunnel and freeway right down the middle of the Panhandle were also drawn up. Opposition across the city culminated on May 17, 1964, when a throng of 200,000 protesters rallied in Golden Gate Park against any new freeways.

Alongside Beat poet Kenneth Rexroth, folk singer Malvina Reynolds sang her newly written anti-freeway protest song "Cement Octopus" to the crowd. Lyrics included, "There's a cement octopus sits in Sacramento, I think. Gets red tape to eat, gasoline taxes to drink," and, "That octopus grows like a science-fiction blight, The Bay and the Ferry Building are out of sight."

The protests worked, and in 1966 the Crosstown Tunnel, the Golden Gate Freeway and the Panhandle Freeway were all rejected by the city. But the two-story tentacle on the Embarcadero, slithering up San Francisco's eastern shore, still defiled the city.

Calls to tear it down continued throughout the '70s and '80s, but a proposal was surprisingly voted down by the public in 1986, in no small part due to the sway of influential Chinatown community leader Rose Pak, who saw the freeway as integral to the economy of the historic neighborhood. Bar and strip club owners on Broadway who had seen a boon from weekend tourists driving into North Beach also lobbied to save it.

In the end it was an act of God, not politics or protest songs, that finally closed the freeway. On Oct. 17, 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake shook the city (and game three of the World Series), and caused severe damage to the freeway.

The ramps were shuttered by the city for inspection, and Caltrans looked into plans to retrofit the structure, but those who had longed for the freeway's removal saw an opportunity. (That earthquake also saw the demise of the portion of the Central
Eva Woolridge
Architect-activists shouldn't have to choose between the two.

Architect-activist Pascale Sablan, FAIA, was recently awarded the 2021 Whitney M. Young Jr. Award, distinguishing her as an architect that embodies social responsibility. Sablan is the youngest African American to become a Fellow, an honor that accompanies winning the award. Her dedication to creating equitable spaces for all is well known. As founder and executive director of Beyond the Built Environment, an organization that seeks to engage diverse communities through architecture, Sablan champions people of color—especially women—through her design work. She recently accepted a position as both an architect and advocate at Adjaye Associates.

I founded Beyond the Built Environment to represent marginalized people both within the profession and in communities most underserved by the profession. We aim to involve everyone, from preschoolers to practitioners and pundits, as critical stakeholders and advocates for just, diverse environments. Beyond the Built Environment provides a holistic platform aimed to support numerous stages of the architecture pipeline. We do this through our approach, which utilizes a method I termed “the triple E, C.”

It’s a strategy to Engage, Elevate, Educate, and Collaborate. We engage diverse audiences through programming, promoting intellectual discourse and exchange. We elevate the identities and contributions of women and diverse designers through exhibitions, curated lectures, and documentaries that testify to the provided value of their built work and its spatial impact. We educate through formal and informal learning opportunities that introduce architecture as a bridge to fill the gaps of inequity. We collaborate with community stakeholders and organizations.

In underserved communities, poorly appointed architecture perpetuates inequity. These inequities, more often than not, adversely affect communities of color. I believe representation is essential to achieving diversity. When I was studying architecture, one of my professors stated I was incapable of becoming an architect because of my gender and race. I resent those words for serving as my call to action, and for being such a prominent part of my purpose.

With my advocacy work, I aspire to inspire marginalized groups to understand the important role they can have in deciding and designing their surroundings.

In my work with NOMA (National Organization of Minority Architects) and in my new role at Adjaye Associates, I’m both an architect and an advocate. As an associate in Adjaye Associates’ New York office, I will be running projects, as well as working on project management and business development and supporting diversity and advocacy work.

To have the ability to hold both parts of my identity while working on world-impacting projects that push for design justice is a dream come true. For those like me who were told we had to choose, we can do both.
Amazon
The plans for the $2.5 billion campus in Arlington, Virginia, offer a glimpse into the post-Covid workplace.

The future of office design is all about collaborative spaces and community. Just ask Amazon. Its new HQ2 designs focus on what you miss most when you're remote: people.

The plan for the $2.5 billion complex in Arlington, Virginia, features a spiral double-helix glass tower with two lushly landscaped pedestrian paths. There are also 2.5 acres of open public space that include a dog run, stores, daycare facilities, and restaurants. The designs can yield a wealth of ideas for businesses rethinking their own workplace for the post-Covid world.

"Design gives us the opportunity to transform and reshape the workplace into a healthier and more purposeful experience," says Robert Mankin, partner of NBBJ, the global architecture firm behind the plan, which was unveiled earlier this month. The complex, known as Amazon's second headquarters, includes three 22-story office buildings.

The goal is to bring people together in a flexible office space to foster the sharing of ideas, says John Schoettler, Amazon's vice president of global real estate and facilities. "Opening buildings and spaces for the entire neighborhood to benefit from and enjoy are a key piece of our inclusive and creative development," he says.

n the post-Covid future, many organizations will adopt a hybrid workforce model: Heads-down work will take place offsite, instead of in the office. More employees will work from home and come into the office for meetings, mentorship, connection, and learning from peers. To help make that happen, companies will want to offer more interactive spaces and social connection points to foster cultural connections, says Mankin.

Gone are the rows of desks and quiet, library-like open-office plans. Instead, the office is designed to foster interaction, focus on nature, and welcome the community. HQ2 is designed with these ideas in mind, says Mankin, whose firm also counts Microsoft, Google, and Samsung as clients. "It could have been an easy direction for Amazon to build an isolated campus, but that's not what we're doing here," he says. "It's actually a campus that allows the public to move freely through."

Given the pandemic's disruption to the workplace, now is a great time to rethink how your company uses its office and to create a plan to make a hybrid workforce work for you.

"This is a moment in time that will probably accelerate many things that we have been either thinking about or wishing for," says Carlos Martínez, principal at San Francisco-based architecture firm Gensler, which has designed for such companies as Etsy, Adidas, and Facebook.

Want to incorporate the future of office design into your own workplace? Consider the following three tips.

1. Encourage gathering.

Collaborative spaces are more than just desks placed together or a meeting room with well-stocked cupboards. An office layout should encourage spontaneous interactions among staff. You don't need a big budget to do so.

Think about putting comfortable seating near your kitchen or coffee station, so you can sit down to chat when you run into a co-worker. Or, create an open space where employees are in view, not cornered off by cubicle walls. Just as Amazon's HQ2 designs include retail space and outdoor-gathering spots, you can try opening up your lobby or a furnished outdoor area to the public, so that your community extends beyond your own employee head count.

2. Incorporate nature.
Maximize natural lighting whenever possible by removing furniture that may obstruct windows. Add plants and greenery, which can reduce stress. Help employees get outside, where creativity is often sparked, by adding paths and bike parking, so employees can walk or ride through the surrounding neighborhood on their way to work.

3. Design for flexibility.

Technology is changing workspaces rapidly, even year by year, so it's important to be flexible. Don't think that you can sign a 10-year lease and design a space that fits your needs for an entire decade.

Find a lease that can offer a shorter time commitment in case your needs change, Martínez says. Then make sure that what you build or purchase is absolutely essential. Whatever you create should support the behavior of your employees and your company's values.

Consider the storied tech companies starting in the founder's garage. "A garage as a psychology of sp
NOMA
A new endowment, the end of tokenism, and licensure for as many BIPOC practitioners as possible are among the National Organization of Minority Architects leadership's long-term goals.

After the death last month of architect Jeh V. Johnson, the last of 12 black architects who founded the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), the group has reached a pivotal point for reflecting on past struggles and assessing the way forward. It’s a critical moment to ask its leaders what the historic organization will preserve from its past; in which areas it has experienced setbacks to its goals; and what new generations will likely prioritize over the next 50 years? Metropolis received answers from the group’s past president, ZGF principal R. Steven Lewis; new executive director Tiffany Brown, and 2021–2022 NOMA president, Gensler senior associate Jason Pugh.

Your membership and the profession are changing. Is there anything NOMA should preserve from its past?

R. Steven Lewis: The values established by the founders at the outset of NOMA’s formation, along with the sacrifices they made, form the foundation of all that we enjoy today. As NOMA enters a new era of growth, relevance, and success, we must never forget from whence we came.

Jason Pugh: And with the passing of Jeh V. Johnson, it’s important for us to carry forward the legacy of all 12 founders, celebrating their trailblazing careers and contributions. A NOMA Founders Memorial Endowment will be created to fund both archival records of their legacy and work and an annual scholarship for a student in need. The endowment will ensure their memory lives on and continues to positively impact the architectural community.

Tiffany Brown: NOMA’s guiding principles and objectives celebrate the preservation of cultural and social values in minority communities. By showcasing the contributions of design professionals of color to the built environment and acknowledging their significance as inspirational teaching tools—despite what is typically taught in architecture schools today, we carry on the traditions of our founders. As we approach our 50th anniversary, telling the stories of Black architects, designers, and planners—particularly those of our founders—is more important than ever. To suffer the loss of our last living founder, for many of us, was like losing the head of our family. Belonging to an organization where the culture feels like home is something I value in NOMA. It’s a trait that makes us unique.

What’s the biggest setback the group has had to overcome in recent years?

JP: I think it would be best to characterize them as challenges instead of setbacks, because the organization has been able to continuously charge forward. The year 2020 presented NOMA with a long list of unexpected and unprecedented challenges, but along with them came some great opportunities for growth and strategic partnerships. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn had a negative impact on the industry, with minorities once again taking a disproportionately huge hit in the form of job losses and limited funding for projects.

With the civil unrest across the country following the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others, there was also relentless physical and mental exhaustion that felt overwhelming at times. But despite these hurdles, the organization saw its largest-ever membership growth, and pivoted to host its first virtual conference, which became the best attended and most profitable to date.

TB: I echo Jason’s sentiments on challenges in lieu of setbacks. In my role, I have observed the ongoing conversation on how the industry can move beyond tokenism and toward true equity. For us, it’s a simple answer. There are many of us who did not come from a solid foundation. We are building from scratch, on a very shaky one. We don’t come from inheritances, connections, or parents who are college graduates. The removal of monuments is slight progress, but the actual work will come when we are removing systems of exclusion. When that happens, our profession can take the necessary steps toward equity.

There are particular reasons why our founders saw the need to establish an organization like NOMA: It wasn’t common practice to provide opportunities for minorities to lead, individually or in joint ventures. These problems still exist. Society should revisit systemic barriers in promotion policies and companies should diversify their boards of directors. Universities shou
Perkins+Will
The Ransom Everglades School in Miami takes a page from the corporate offices of Ideo, Google, Apple, and American Express, thanks to a new campus designed by Perkins & Will.

When the Ransom Everglades School set out to augment its Miami high school campus with a new building focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, its educators saw an opportunity. They wanted to rethink how a physical space at the school could reflect the kind of future-focused learning that would happen there.

“We wanted something that wasn’t traditional,” says Penny Townsend, head of the school. “I wanted every space to be a learning space, that in every corner of the building something was going on.”

To the architects designing the project for this well-regarded private school, the job sounded a lot like work they do for another type of client: corporate America.

“You see Ideo and Google and Apple and American Express—a lot of our clients are creating these workplace environments for both research and enhancement of collisions and collaboration,” says Pat Bosch, principal and design director of the architecture firm Perkins & Will’s Miami studio. “It’s informality about, ‘Do I need a desk? Can I just find some soft seating and do my work there?'”

The building they’ve designed for the school’s campus could just as easily have fit onto a corporate campus. With a mix of tech-rich classrooms, maker spaces, and labs for courses in robotics, chemistry, and biology, the building’s core is a broad central hallway that was intended to provide spaces for social interactions and collaborative learning. The classrooms are flexible, with walls and large doors that can open to allow for different sizes and configurations, and every learning space has glass walls looking out on the central hallway—a design choice intended to embrace students’ fundamental curiosity, according to Bosch. “That curiosity can be mined and can be a source of inspiration and a source of propelling students to being engaged,” she says.

It’s a mix of learning spaces deeply influenced by the kinds of work environments in modern corporate offices, where some spaces are oriented toward team-based work while other spaces offer a hybrid of private areas for focused work and interactive zones to spark creativity.

Bosch says this comes directly from Perkins & Will’s corporate work but was also something that came up as a desire when the designs were first being developed. “There’s a lot of physical elements from corporate America that the students were very interested in. They wanted to learn in an environment similar to where they are eventually going to work,” she says.
As a building focused on STEM education, there’s also a heavy influence from research facilities. Bosch says the design drew directly from another Perkins & Will project, the L’Oréal Research and Innovation Center in Rio de Janeiro, where the beauty company develops and tests new products. “The scientists were telling us they needed to be able to reconfigure the space in less than 30 minutes. Everything was movable; everything was a plug-and-play condition,” she says. Bosch says the labs and classrooms at Ransom Everglades School were modeled on that flexibility. “We brought all those ideas that we developed and worked on with L’Oréal.”

The central hallway inside the building is meant to be a mixture of the collaborative spaces of the corporate world and the flexibility of the research world. For good measure, it’s even got a dash of the hospitality world, Bosch says. “You can lounge, you can have a meeting, you can have a conversation,” she says. “There are the social aspects of a lobby or a hub in hospitality that allows for this informal aspect of the social learning and even collaboration.”

And with its internal walls of transparent glass, this central hub also becomes a way to blur educational boundaries. “There’s such synergy between the different disciplines,” says school head Townsend. The glass walls also double as learning spaces. They’re all writable surfaces, and they’ve become integrated into the teaching and the students’ collaborative work. “They haven’t written anything filthy yet, so that’s been good,” Townsend says.


More important, she argues, is the new building’s focus on changing the dynamic between teacher and student and broadening the ways that learning happens. “You can’t have kids sitting in rows and some teacher at the front droning on,” she says. “It’s n
ODA
Problem: How shall we impart to this sterile pile, this crude, harsh, brutal agglomeration, this stark, staring exclamation of eternal strife, the graciousness of those higher forms of sensibility and culture that rest on the lower and fiercer passions? How shall we proclaim from the dizzy height of this strange, weird, modern housetop the peaceful evangel of sentiment, of beauty, the cult of a higher life?

When Louis Sullivan wrote his famous essay “The Tall Office Building Artistically Reconsidered” in 1896, he could not have foreseen the length of its shadow. For more than a century architects have debated its assertions, but they have generally agreed with Sullivan on the main point: Tall buildings must either gracefully diminish toward the top or have a cap to define the top edge as it meets the sky. He warned, prophetically, that anything looking like a box would be an aesthetic failure.

Boxy skyscrapers were briefly in vogue when Mies unveiled the slender Seagram Tower, but generally only bland corporate sweatshops and developer cash cows stayed with the obvious diagram for maximum floor space in a given FAR. Following the 1916 New York zoning law, most cities required setbacks in tall buildings to allow light to penetrate the canyons they often created. Cesar Pelli was the architect most intent on sculpting elegant, tapered towers throughout his career, and he designed several of the most lauded tall buildings of the past 50 years. Adrian Smith, the architect of several recent supertalls, retained Sullivan’s wise model for breaking up rectangular masses into finial-like spires. And as Rafael Viñoly (and readers of the New York Times) recently learned, failing to do so could result in a creaky, wind-bent residential tower—and, eventually, expensive lawsuits.

So it is fair to ask: Why are we seeing so many new skyscraper designs that resemble teetering stacks of skewed boxes? Were the architects playing beer pong late into the night while building the models? Did Rem Koolhaas try to patent a “Pruitt-Igoe in mid-explosion” concept and get laughed out of China?

Virtually all of OMA’s recent tower designs are clumsy groups of cantilevered glass boxes plopped on their sites with little concern for context or orientation. Zaha Hadid Architects tends to add a few curvy surfaces to their buildings to hide the boxy banalities, but it is hardly immune to the trend. But why would someone like Frank Gehry, the master of signature forms, succumb to these fickle winds of fashion?

Gehry’s pair of boxy Toronto skyscrapers will dominate the city’s skyline for decades, though Canadians have generally managed to avoid the crazy hodgepodge of tower construction that has ruined cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. In fact, it was Gehry who bucked the trends in the Big Apple to give the city 8 Spruce Street, a metal-clad tower nestled politely into the fabric of Lower Manhattan. It looks like it belongs in New York and seems to have pleased the tough critics there.

Not so the Toronto monsters. Described initially by BlogTO as “cheese graters staring longingly at each other,” they were once a ménage à trois and are now a matching pair, though still 2 million square feet in floor area. Controversy dogged the project during a decade of planning review. Hence the developer funding the project recently revived it as a downtown arts center and condominium complex with a visual arts college attached—a peace offering to be sure. Perhaps he also demanded that his Toronto-born architect hew to the accepted developer vocabulary and simplify his often-wrinkled skins. The PR info says that the towers will be clad in “energy saving” new materials but does not say what they are—a familiar ploy to deflect criticism of what looks like mirror glass. The most distinctive features of the pair are rotating boxes at the top third of each building, not tapered but roughly the same dimensions as the lower portions. Mercifully, the base of one building preserves the façade of an old, beloved landmark.

Large cantilevers are difficult enough to engineer when they sit atop midrise structures, but they become wind-catchers when placed 1,000 feet in the air. They are also visually obtrusive and unbalanced, contrary to the contention that defying gravity is always exciting to humans with two feet on the ground. Since we are more aware than ev
Fenfang Lu
Six outstanding projects, all in China, win the 2020 Best of Year award for Residential Sales Center.

CIFI Sales Center “Park Mansion,” Hefei, China by Ippolito Fleitz Group

Since the building by architects LWK + Partners that houses this 13,800-square-foot sales center is close to a large lake, water became the governing motif in IFG’s design. After crossing a sunken plaza dominated by a towering artificial waterfall, visitors enter a fluid, elongated space given depth through the layering of white and blue tones and the playful use of texture and structure. The interplay of shapes and materials, from structured glass to curved ceilings, further evokes the endless flow and magic of the elemental liquid. The effect is one of soothing calm, but without any loss of vibrancy.

Project Team: Halil Dogan; Mika Dou; Gunter Fleitz; Steffen Hildebrand; Peter Ippolito; Linda Li; Yi Luo; Frank Wang; Yu Yan; Jialiang Zhou.

Junshan Cultural Center, Beijing by Neri&Hu Design and Research Office

Asked to transform a 43,000-square-foot two-story building into a clubhouse and sales center, the firm has combined traditional and contemporary architectural forms to achieve new expressive and formal ends. Wood-patterned aluminum panels on the facade soften the heaviness of the brick structure, while the existing interior courtyard is joined by a series of smaller gardens that blur the boundary between indoors and out.

Project Team: Lyndon Neri; Rossana Hu; Nellie Yang; Jerry Guo; Utsav Jain; Ellen Chen; Zoe Gao; Wuyahuang Li; Josh Murphy; Alexandra Heijink; Hwajung Song; Lara Depedro; Jason Jia; Brian Lo; Xiaowen Chen; Mona He; Cindy Sun; Jacqueline Yam.

Light of Time, Guiyang, China by C&C Design Co.

This 52,000-square-foot center incorporates model apartments, bookstores, coffee shops, and a children’s play zone. It’s located in a pair of renovated factories separated by a narrow sunlit alleyway, which C&C has transformed into a spiritual space similar, the team says, “to a small church, which we call Thin Strip of Light”—the firm’s way of redefining the memory of the city through the transformation of industrial buildings.

Project Team: Peng Zheng; Lian Yuanchao; Chen Yongxia; Liang Jingshan.

Poly Times Sales Center, Chengdu, China by Matrix Design

At 24,000 square feet, this center is the largest project of its type in the ongoing reconstruction of the old inner city. Matrix sees the facility as performing multiple functions both practical and symbolic, contemplative and dynamic. The team uses wood, metal, stone, and other materials in combination with more elusive qualities such as light, shadow, memory, and imagination to conjure spaces that recall the past while pointing toward the future.

Project Team: Guan Wang; Idmen Liu; Zhaobao Wang.

Sunac Qingyuan Heart Valley, China by Mind Design

Located in a vacation area known for its natural beauty and revivifying hot springs, this 21,000-square-foot development successfully integrates art, culture, and eco-tourism. To create a facility that does justice to the region’s unspoiled charm, Mind employs a clean, modern design language, simple shapes and materials, and an elegant, flexible style. By these means, the firm infuses the spaces with warm, humanistic feeling.

Project Team: Wang Dacheng.

Poly Galaxy Land K3, Wuhan, China by Pone Architecture

Aimed at young urban professionals, the 7,730-square-foot center seeks to be a social space that engenders positive energy and empathetic feelings. Design director Ming Leueng provides a focal point in the form of a large “meteorite” art installation that not only turns the atrium in which it hangs into a natural gathering place but also activates the whole facility with what he describes as “an invisible pulse and rhythm.”

Douglas Friedman
Hale Huna, meaning “secret house” in Hawai‘ian, is a hidden gem on the shore of the Kiholo Bay

Over dusty ranch roads through North Kona’s centuries-old lava fields, Hale Huna sits quietly—some even say stealthily—on the shore of Kiholo Bay. Built for a couple of Silicon Valley veterans, this rural retreat on the Big Island of Hawai‘i simply does not want to be found. “It’s the only house within miles, and it’s completely off the grid,” says architect Greg Warner, principal of Walker Warner Architects in San Francisco. “So we decided to really make it go away.” As such, hale huna means “secret house” in the Hawaiian language.

Inspired by the plantation heritage of the islands, Warner, who grew up in Hawai‘i, designed two low-slung bungalows (a main gathering house and another for sleeping) with crisp lines and exteriors clad in the most agrarian of materials: corrugated metal darkly stained to cloak among the ‘a‘a, or volcanic rock. Wide openings and deep lanais provide comfortable experiences at different times of day—relative to the sun and the wind, that is—while framing the best possible views.

A mauka (mountainside) lanai is snuggled against the lava, a sheltered spot from Kona’s whipping trade winds with a wide perspective on starry evenings. The main bedroom is also auspiciously oriented in the same direction to catch the sunrise over the Mauna Kea, a sacred mountain. And the living room’s full-height windows look makai (seaward), to capture the sunset as it casts colors from coral to cobalt over the coast—a line of sight that stretches to the northern tip of the island. “It’s like a painting,” says Warner. “It gives you such an appreciation of the shape of the land.”

In a way, Hale Huna’s strong and silent architecture exists to heighten Hawai‘i’s striking geography, from serrated shores to softly sloping volcanoes and all that craggy lava rock in between. The decor takes a different approach. “I did the opposite of what the architecture accomplishes so beautifully,” says Oakland, California, designer Jon de la Cruz. “Inside, things have asymmetry and softness, a little island color and a lot of ease.”

Cultural textiles anchor the home, from batik bedding to upholstery that evokes the abstract patterns of traditional Hawai‘ian tapa, or barkcloth. (In the lounge, a 2007 Richard Serra etching, Paths and Edges, also recalls the geometry and repetition of this Polynesian art form.) A bold graphic of spiky fan palms gives one guest bedroom a tropical punch, while custom clover-shaped side tables throughout the home are a subtler take on island botanicals. Designer de la Cruz created them as an homage to the leaves of the ‘ohi‘a lehua tree, a famous casualty of Pele’s wrath in Hawaiian mythology. (Pele is the goddess of fire and volcanoes in local lore.)

Against the modern architecture and sun-beaten landscape of sharp lava rock, the gentle curves of the interior design are ironically brazen. A soothing visual exhale, they also conjure the island’s legendary liquid assets: Vintage Vladimir Kagan Freeform sofas in the living room, for instance, evoke Kiholo Bay in both their crescent shape and upholstery of ocean-hued antique Japanese boro quilts. Meanwhile, the wavy silhouette of the tiered T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings Mesa table, also in the living room, is reminiscent of tide pools.

Over in the primary bedroom, a “circuit board” by San Francisco artist Windy Chien, who interpreted the slow skulk of molten lava in black rope and skillful knotting, serves as a room divider. And as a final touch, the home’s hand-textured concrete floors and banana-fiber abaca rugs from the Philippines are deliberately beachy underfoot, a way of experiencing the mana, or healing power, of the location. “You can practically feel the waves at your feet,” says de la Cruz.
Gensler
To re-establish themselves on Toronto’s premiere shopping street, Holt Renfrew sought to design a facade that would give their store a unified presence and represent their iconic brand.

With a flagship store located in of the most expensive shopping streets in downtown Toronto, Holt Renfrew engaged Gensler to upgrade their window displays and disjointed facade to create a strong, unified visual presence.

The first step in the renovation process was to rationalize the store’s entire envelope and devise a strategy to unify the five separate buildings into one presence so that customers could see how large the store is from the street level. With over 270 feet in street-facing storefront, or almost the length of an entire city block, the exterior design needed to be seamless and reflective of Holt Renfrew’s brand.

“One of the greatest challenges of the project was tying the existing 5 buildings together across 260ft of street frontage in a way that made them look like a single structure,” said Gensler.

To achieve this, the team reviewed thousands of archived drawings from the original construction of the buildings, from the 50’s to the 70’s. They then turned all of those drawings into a full 3D digital model which gave the basis of their design.

The team also faced a challenge of designing a facade that was both light and intricate. The existing building was clad in marble that was uninsulated and the construction assembly attached to the building was worn and corroded. With the various small renovations that occurred over time, there were a variety of errors that caused the building to leak and perform poorly in terms of energy usage.

The new facade was constructed of limestone that was full of fossils and brought a sense of liveliness and a variation in texture between the stone panels. For the glass elements, which included the replacement of the existing dark and gloomy
window displays and the revitalization of a main entrance, large panels that allowed for minimal joints and no mullions were used. The clear glass allowed ample views into the store that displayed the merchandise inside, and also brought in natural light. The canopy structure above the main entrance is constructed from bronze anodized aluminum and creates a procession on the street level.

“During Design Development we then reviewed the model against the existing building on site constantly, working with the contractor to open up walls and areas of roof to check what we’d seen in the archives actually matched what was on site. This was critical to maintaining the high level of accuracy the design needs to look good,” said Gensler.

Overall, the project took three years and at no point was the operation of the store closed down with occupants welcomed throughout the duration of the facade’s construction. The result is the unified presence and a modernized facade that situates and establishes Holt Renfrew as a leading luxury department store.
Allison Zaucha for The Washington Post via Getty Images
What if residents on a single block could make their own decision to allow denser housing?

When Sacramento proposed changing its zoning rules to allow four homes on land that had permitted just one, something remarkable happened: The reform passed city council, unanimously, with little of the outrage over new housing that’s long haunted California politics. The public comments were overwhelmingly supportive. Politicians lined up to praise the measure, which passed this January — even San Francisco Mayor London Breed, who presides over a city where such “fourplexes” are mostly illegal. Sacramento now joins other U.S. cities, including Portland and Minneapolis, that have legalized the construction of more homes in more places.

If ever there were a moment for pro-housing, “Yes In My Backyard” reforms that allow for the development of denser housing, it should be now. In many U.S. cities, housing costs have ballooned beyond the reach of millions of Americans, and evidence suggests that restrictions on where you can build are largely to blame. Local reforms like Sacramento’s are a growing trend, although so far, they remain relatively rare among cities with expensive housing markets.

Even in cities that have passed modest reforms, the politics of local planning often stand in the way of more ambitious change. We know what helps fight high housing prices: loosening minimum lot size requirements that don’t allow homes to be built on small tracts, for instance, or allowing backyard apartments and “missing middle” housing like duplexes and triplexes. The problem is not identifying reforms to allow more homes; it’s getting them passed at the city or state level. Without such reform, in local planning meetings across the U.S. where decisions about new developments get made, the voices of opponents are frequently the loudest and most influential. What passes for community participation in America is too often limited to a privileged few with the time and resources to attain an outsize influence on the workings of government.

Take the example of Connecticut, among the priciest and most segregated states in the U.S., and one that hasn’t passed this kind of reform. In Fairfield, once home to General Electric’s headquarters, new housing projects are forced to undergo years of litigation. Desegregate CT, an advocacy group, found that a triplex or fourplex can be built without going through additional approvals in just 2% of Connecticut, while single-family homes are legal in 91% of the state. While polls show that voters want more affordable housing, suburban homeowners have successfully blocked change. These homeowners have a stake in keeping decisions at the municipality level where a few powerful and vocal individuals can block developments that are in the interests of the broader community. In opposition to a state bill to place more zoning decisions in the hands of the state, yard signs have recently appeared demanding Connecticut “Keep Planning and Zoning Local.”

But what if there’s a way to overcome the political obstacles in the way of development with support from local stakeholders? Not a substitute to state and local housing laws, but a complement: what we call hyperlocal zoning reform. Local governments would give streets and blocks the right to decide for themselves if they want to allow denser housing. Neighbors could pick from a menu of modest reforms, from reducing minimum lot sizes and green-lighting “granny flats” to allowing missing middle housing and apartments. A single street or block could simply hold a vote and reach a goal the city sets — say, a 60% “yes” from residents. One key feature is that hyperlocal zoning would be a supplement to existing zoning codes, meaning it could simply be implemented by a planning department, and wouldn’t stop cities from passing other broader reforms.

For homeowners in pricey markets like Seattle or Boston, choosing to add a granny flat or subdividing a single-family home can be a financial no-brainer. And right now, restrictive zoning prevents them from realizing those gains. They could try to get their own lots upzoned, but at the scale of hundreds or thousands of landowners — the scale at which zoning decisions are often made — negotiation and agreement are incredibly difficult. The costs of reaching agreement rise as more people are involved, as do the perceived risks as a proposal’s scope expands. This is why experts from the late economist Robert Nelson to Yale Law Sc
Merge Visualisation
The modular hotel concept, called Hytte, allows landowners and hotel operators to implement a custom configuration of Japandi-style cabins.

UK-based prefab purveyors Koto and design agency Aylott & Van Tromp have teamed up to launch Hytte—a Norwegian word for "cabin"—which provides stylish, turnkey prefabs to operators within the hospitality industry. Off-the-shelf or bespoke designs are available as individual units, and can be clustered to create the feel of a community or village.

"It’s about providing both client and consumer with something a little bit different in these strange times," says Aylott & Van Tromp and Hytte cofounder Nathan Aylott. "We wanted to give the client the ability to harness a site with minimal fuss, and create additional revenue with complete flexibility."

For the customer, Hytte seeks to provide a sense of escapism and comfort that "retains that raw feeling," says Aylott, "the lovely pared-back quality that comes from camping in the wild or being close to nature."

Hytte combines Scandinavian and Japanese elements for a minimalist aesthetic that compliments a variety of landscapes. The first design on offer is a trapezoidal, 260-square-foot cabin clad in shou sugi ban–treated larch. Inside are a luxury bathroom, kitchenette, window bench, wood-burning stove, and a king-size bed with integrated storage. Each cabin can be ordered completely furnished with a selection of curated pieces from Hytte’s design partners.

"We wanted to make each internal element of the Hytte feel considered and intentional," explains Koto cofounder Johnathon Little. "Small spaces demand a high level of design consideration to ensure that we maximize every piece of space. We have been deliberate in designing the furniture to be crafted into the fabric of the cabin. Our bed, kitchen, storage and seating has all been imagined as an extension to the structure of the cabin."

The concept for the cabins came about last year, when Aylott & Van Tromp approached Koto to coordinate a response to the shifting hospitality marketplace. "On one hand, there is a natural and personal reaction to mass market holidays, overbearing commercialism, and a growing sense of environmentalism," says the Hytte team. "Then throw into the mix COVID-19 and you have the perfect storm." The results combine Koto’s expertise in minimalist prefab design with Van Tromp’s experience in hospitality and interiors.

How companies will implement the flexible structures is yet to be seen, but the Hytte team is confident that we won’t soon return to over-commercialized and cramped accommodations. "Whether it will be shorter localized getaways reachable by car, bike or foot, or opting for an increasingly isolated accommodation, much of our newly acquired social distancing habits are here for the long haul," they say.

Hytte will initially be available in the United Kingdom, Europe, and parts of the U.S.
Counterspace
Sumayya Vally, the founder of South African architecture studio Counterspace, has been named on the Time100 Next list of people "poised to make history".

Vally, who is designing this year's Serpentine pavilion, is the principal of Johannesburg-based architecture studio Counterspace.

She was the only architect named on the list that aims to "highlight 100 emerging leaders who are shaping the future".

This is the second annual Time100 Next list, which is published as an expansion to the long-running Time100 list.

Vally was included on the list as the editors of Time believe that she is someone that is set to have an impact on the world.

"Everyone on this list is poised to make history," said Dan Macsai, editorial director of the Time100. "And in fact, many already have."

As the principal of Counterspace, Vally's most significant project to date is her commission to design this year's Serpentine pavilion.

Vally will be the youngest architect to design the prestigious pavilion, which has previously been created by some of the world's most significant architects including Zaha Hadid, Diébédo Francis Kéré, Bjarke Ingels, Sou Fujimoto, Jean Nouvel and Peter Zumthor.

Counterspace's pavilion, which was delayed from 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, will refer to the experiences of London's migrant communities in its design.

"The pavilion is itself conceived as an event — the coming together of a variety of forms from across London over the course of the pavilion’s sojourn," said Vally when the design was unveiled.

"These forms are imprints of some of the places, spaces and artefacts which have made care and sustenance part of London’s identity."

Other projects by Counterspace include a large-scale mirror insulation in Johannesburg, which was designed to reflect the pollution from mining waste that hangs over the city.

At the beginning of this year, Vally presented an immersive experience that explored the role of soil and land in her home community as part of The World Around summit, which was broadcast on Dezeen.

Previously Elizabeth Diller was named on Time magazine's list of 100 most influential people in 2018, with philanthropist Eli Broad calling her a "visionary".
Diller Scofidio + Renfro
The City of London announced yesterday that in renewing its commitment to the arts “at the heart of recovery” from the COVID pandemic, the government would undertake a major renewal of the Barbican Centre, home of the London Symphony Orchestra, and the venue for numerous other performances in music, dance, film and theater, as well as art exhibitions. The 40-year-old Brutalist structure designed by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon is the largest performing arts center of its kind in Europe; the statement announced a search for a world-class architect-led team for the renovation.

But buried in the announcement was the real news: the cancellation, due to the “current unprecedented circumstances,” of the ambitious plans to build a state-of-the-art new Centre for Music. The press release did not bother to name the architects—Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R)—who had won a competition in 2017 to design a permanent new home for the London Symphony, beating out Foster + Partners; Gehry Partners; Amanda Levete (with Diamond Schmitt); Renzo Piano; and Snöhetta. A year later, DS+R unveiled its design for the multi-level concert hall, with an auditorium for 2,000, and numerous other amenities. But building the $370 million project was heavily dependent on private donations, according to the Architects' Journal. The concert hall would have been the first DS+R project in the UK.
Weiss/Manfredi with Reed Hilderbrand
As part of a master plan initiated in 2010, Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, announced today its plans for transforming 17 acres of its botanical gardens, woodlands, and meadows. The New York firm of Weiss/Manfredi are the architects at the helm of new buildings, outdoor spaces, and refined connections between its east and west precincts, in association with landscape architect Reed Hilderbrand of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The design team’s signature addition is a 32,000-square-foot glass conservatory that appears to float on top of pools and plantings. The ethereal new West Conservatory is a modern companion to the “mineral expression,” as architect Marion Weiss says, of the traditional East and Main Conservatories—separate but connected buildings. The new structure’s pleated roofline undulates, creating forced perspectives and recalling the surrounding Brandywine Valley’s topography. The building’s hovering expression will be achieved in part by four sets of graceful tree-like steel columns. Operable glass walls and roof gills will provide passive ventilation, and a series of underground earth tubes will draw fresh air in and up through the conservatory.

Weiss and her firm partner and husband Michael Manfredi, along with Reed Hilderbrand, are also designing a new 3,800-square-foot glass house for Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx’s 1992 tropical garden; a new vaulted restaurant and event space carved behind an 18-foot-tall ivy-covered retaining wall that faces the Main Fountain Garden; a new education and administration building; and an outdoor, gallery-like bonsai courtyard. Six historic Lord & Burnham glass houses from the early 20th century are being carefully deconstructed and will be rebuilt at a later date.

The team’s plan follows a historic and additive lineage in landscape design: In Pierre S. du Pont’s instinctive sculpting of Longwood Gardenss' 1,077 acres, on his rural estate in the early 20th century, the inventor, industrialist, and conservationist was inspired by the technical innovation he saw at world’s fairs and expositions and the splendor of international gardens. From 1906 to 1954, du Pont used the latest technology to impress guests at Longwood with theatrical displays of plants, a fountain garden with a pioneering hydraulic system, and the grand East Conservatory built in 1921 and powered by underground systems that didn’t detract from the decorative fruits and flowers.

This current project has evolved from the 40-year master plan developed in 2010 by Weiss/Manfredi and West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture. “West 8 remains very much a part of our team and consults from time to time on realizing these projects,” wrote Longwood CEO and President Paul B. Redmond in an email. “One of the distinguishing factors [of the master plan] is our legacy of being a patron of landscape architecture and garden design as well as having one of the greatest collections of landscapes designed by some of the most noted landscape architects of the 20th and 21st century.” In 2017, Longwood celebrated the restoration and enhancement of the Main Fountain Garden.

As part of its decade-long involvement with Longwood, Weiss and Manfredi rethought the western portion of the gardens, which, as Weiss says, was an often-overlooked workhorse and “service wing.” The architects arrived at the current West Conservatory after rigorous study of historic glass structures and scales (attested by 40 different models in their Manhattan office). The final football field-sized structure isn’t just big for bigness’s sake. “It is the companion to the historic conservatory complex, “says Weiss. “It needed to balance things. It’s generous in scale, but you could say that the glass is sheltering a Mediterranean garden that is an inhabitable landscape.”

As part of this undertaking the team is also relocating Burle Marx’s Cascade Garden. Failing mechanical systems and leaks have made it difficult for the tropical plants to survive winters. In addition, Longwood determined that the small greenhouse containing Burle Marx’s work of botanical art was literally constraining the plants’ growth. “The idea of moving it to a slightly more central location, between the historic conservatory and new one, would give it a much more prominent sense of place and location,” says Manfredi. The task will be a
Architect Magazine
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended nearly everything we considered to be normal—and that includes how and what architects design. Read how leading firms across the nation are reimagining six major building typologies for use during and after the pandemic.

Editor's note: This cover story for ARCHITECT's January/February 2021 issue comprises a series of Q+As with leading architects and designers in six building typologies. Three typologies—corporate, multifamily and industrial—are available below. The remaining three—K–12, health care, and cultural—will be rolled out throughout February.

What’s next? A year ago, the answer that no one foresaw would be “a pandemic.” Though the COVID-19 pandemic will end, architecture cannot—and will not—simply return to its old habits and forms. The global health emergency has changed how we live, travel, and work. It has altered how we use and navigate space, what we expect regarding safety and sanitation, and the way we greet strangers and loved ones. Within the design profession, the pandemic has upended workflows and challenged architect–client rapport.

Some of these changes, like lingering side effects, will outlast the pandemic itself. But while the ground is still shifting, the future is ripe for rethinking. What will smart, safe, and beautiful design look like in a post-vaccine, post-pandemic world? And how can architects meet changing demands in an altered professional landscape that has yet to recover from the recession? Through the kaleidoscope of contingencies and unknowns, firms are listening to their clients, users, and staff more closely than ever. They’re asking new questions and they’re getting creative.

As the improvised solutions of last year give way to more permanent design responses, leading architects in six key building sectors—corporate, multifamily residential, industrial, K–12 education, health care, and cultural—share how they are positioning their practices to take on the emerging challenges and opportunities.

For starters, architects are now asked to reimagine offices to entice employees back to the formal workplace—but how? Can multifamily projects adapt to the new imperatives of working from home? As the volume of packages entering our country’s logistics and distribution systems continues to surge, how can industrial architecture meet the demand? Can designers team with school administrators to rethink educational environments that break free of traditional classroom units? How can health care architects help their clients manage infectious diseases and increase access to care for marginalized communities? Can architects design public spaces that preserve open spaces amid strained government budgets?

And, finally, as calls for equity gain support in the general public, will the pandemic accelerate the profession’s role in elevating the lives of not only elite clients, but also of everyday and underserved Americans?
ZGF Architects LLP
As part of my series about “developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sharron van der Meulen

As Managing Partner of ZGF’s Portland office, Sharron van der Meulen provides thoughtful and inspiring design leadership, while guiding marketing and interior design for a diverse portfolio of projects including corporate workplaces, law offices, civic and federal institutions, higher education, healthcare, and aviation. Sharron works closely with her clients to articulate their aspirations and develop the program; employing a human-centric design approach to align a project’s vision and goals with the wants and needs of multiple user groups.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was one of those kids that was creative but didn’t know exactly how to equate that to a career path. It began with a love of the art and history and evolved naturally into the study of architecture and design. What kept me interested and intrigued all these years is just how important the role of the built environment is in building community, innovation and creating the best outcomes for people, no matter the market sector.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

In 1999, Turkey experienced a devastating earthquake in Izmit, outside of Istanbul, that killed over 17,000 people, mostly due to collapsing structures. I was working on a project in Turkey and arrived several weeks after the earthquake. One afternoon, while in the client’s office, the entire building started shaking back and forth. People ushered us outside into the middle of street, where I saw people jumping from the second floor to escape the potential collapse of buildings. That experience gave me a new appreciation for the rigorous life safety standards we have in the United States.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One of my first projects was an history museum and I was working with Bob Frasca, one of ZGF’s founding partners and my mentor for many years. Bob informed me that I would be making the presentation to the museum director. Without much knowledge of how to present to a board or how to prepare, I launched into a high speed, high octane presentation. It must have been dizzying because the director stopped me mid-stream and asked me in the most polite, formal manner, if I could slow it down so he could try and keep up. Believe me, he had no issues in keeping up. He was a brilliant historian with a laser-quick mind, but he was teaching me a lesson about how to draw out a story and invite the audience on the journey.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?

It’s all about teamwork. You know that saying, “many hands make light work.” Having a unified team, where everyone has a part in meeting deadlines is important to spreading the load and creating balance. When I started out, drawings were done on mylar with ink or pencil and we had an unspoken rule that at the end of the day if there were people still working, no one would leave unless they asked if they could help in any way. Seriously! Today it’s still a good approach to take. Teams become stronger and frankly it’s more satisfying when people share the responsibility.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who
helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?


I’ve been lucky enough to have many mentors, but there is someone that has been a mentor from the very beginning: Bob Packard. Bob was the managing partner of ZGF’s Portland Office for most of my career, and then last year I took on the managing partner role. There are too many stories to list just one, but I can say that Bob teaches everyone to look at the world differently; not to come to conclusions too quickly; and to always seek out more information, be curious and do your research.

Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Today I’
da-kuk/Getty Images
There is a big problem with the popular and generally accepted construction forecasting method of consensus. When a contractor is asked in a survey how he or she sees the market six months ahead, or a year, or even more, you get an opinion—presumably an educated one. But there is no way to screen out optimism.

When many contractors are surveyed, you get more opinions—and more optimism.

There seems to be some belief that the larger number of respondents somehow implies accuracy or validates collective opinions. Some seem to think a greater number of opinions eliminates positive bias. Some may also think that negative bias balances the findings.

The media then publishes the survey opinions, lending them greater validity, and the large number of consensus surveys seem to drown out more scientific forecasts based on data.

Another problem with these surveys is that we tend to believe that majority rules. Reporting that 59% expect a market turnaround in six months, while 26% do not, and 15% are undecided, is often interpreted as that the 59% is correct.

Quite a number of contractors have told me that they tend to believe the scientific forecasts until they read so many surveys that predict the market will be just fine. They then feel compelled to go along with the (optimistic) majority.

Why is this important?

The failure rate in construction will be reduced when we accept the reality that the market is cyclical and adopt a business model that allows us to prosper during ttimes of both growth and decline. The seven major construction downturns since World War II establish conclusively that our market cycles roughly every 10 years. To prosper during both the growth and decline markets, we need to have some indication of when to expect changes in the cycle.

As soon as the market softens, competition intensifies, so a buyer’s market begins to develop and then prices and potential profits diminish. Trying to maintain volume in a declining market is, in effect, an attempt to increase market share—and increasing market share always comes at a price.

Data has been collected on US economic cycles since 1854, and the ratio of expansion periods to contraction periods has improved dramatically since then. We have enjoyed prosperity because our nation has spent a lot more time in a growing economy than in a shrinking economy. The problem for our industry is that during a down cycle, profits decline, losses occur and business failures escalate.

Business cycles in the construction industry are painful because we can’t control them.

We do not see changes coming in construction market cycles because we are not looking for them, but we can’t claim they are unexpected because they occurred on average every 10 years.

There are choices: We could train ourselves to see them coming or we could listen to research that calculates market cycle timing. A prudent construction professional should begin to expect a decline as the market approaches 10 years since the last cycle.

What is surprising is that most construction professionals I ask are not aware that the market is cyclical; despite statistical data that proves it is.

Knowing When Change Will Come

The importance of knowing when to expect a change in the construction market cannot be overstated.

To prosper during a down cycle, we must operate differently than we do in a growth period. Failure to alter how we operate in a down cycle is the primary reason the industry has consistently suffered reduced profits, losses and business failures during downturns.

We can prosper in a down market by adjusting our operations. But that involves change and we all know how difficult that is. We can’t react if we don’t see the conversion in the cycle approaching.

Extensive research has demonstrated that we can forecast the construction market because it lags the US economy. That provides adequate warning.

When the US economy cycles down, the construction market continues to grow for plus or minus one year and then cycles down again. When the US economy cycles up, the market continues to decline for the same length until economic recovery begins to stimulate construction spending.

Construction markets lag at both ends of the cycle “announcing” the timing of cycle conversions. The current and last recovery
Common Edge
Historians will be writing about, and debating, the most significant epistemic changes that occurred during the final two decades of the 20th century for a long time. Following the elections of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, the influx of products from China, and the Arab oil embargo, the world economy changed dramatically. Globalization was the term most often used to describe the overturning of the old order in markets, finance, and economic policy. Thomas Friedman published several books that attempted to explain these events in laymen’s terms, but I think it was an impossible task. How was anyone expected to consider the planet while looking for a job, watching family members die in the street, and wondering whether homes would be standing the next morning?

Laying aside the collapse of the Iron Curtain, and the tinderbox in the Middle East, tech mavens noted that people began using personal computers for nearly everything beginning in the early 1980s, as Apple, Microsoft, and IBM changed the nature of information processing and business with astounding speed. I remember receiving my first Macintosh computer in about 1982 while at my first academic job. I was overjoyed. Little did I think that I would use it for anything but writing books and doing research. I kept on buying books and CDs. I kept drawing by hand.

In fact, I was so bamboozled by the technological wizardry that was swirling around me I failed to notice a third Paradigm Shift aimed right at my solar plexus. I had spent the better part of my academic life studying the arts and humanities, believing that the fate of world culture would be decided by those with the education—the literacy—to be able to advance aesthetic achievements in such pursuits and architecture and music, while other aspects of human progress carried on at a similar rate of change. It has taken me decades to recognize how naive I was about the importance of my chosen field of study.

Global over Local. Cyberspace over Personal Space. Wealth over Culture. The three astounding, world-shattering shifts that have made much of what I care about cease to matter after the millennium snuck by under the radar, not only for me but for almost every architect I know. The smartest people I worked with over the past three decades were barely aware of how destructive these forces were, only now recognizing that a crisis has beset our old and esteemed profession, and the civic art we believe we make and curate for the public.

Last week, while participating in a radio call-in with Common Edge’s Martin C. Pedersen, Richard Buday, and Duo Dickinson, it dawned on me that these accomplished, observant men were talking about not only changes in home, work, and the environment, but about the fundamental reorientation of architectural production following the Covid-19 pandemic. When I reflected further on the conversation, I recognized the outlines of an attack on things I valued as an artist and cultural historian. They weren’t new. They happened while I was in the middle of my career, right under my nose, much like the attack on the U.S. Capitol two weeks ago.

Globalization, the cyber-information society, and the capitalist substitution of monetary value for culture are facts. In a post-truth society, these facts are not disputed. Books like Thomas Piketty’s two studies of capital in the 21st century unveiled the savage inequities wrought by wealth-seeking elites under the guise of global “open” markets. Dave Eggers put substance on the studies of social critics decrying the rise of surveillance commerce under the cloak of Google emoticons in his novel The Circle. Wired magazine and Fox News boldly proclaimed the irrelevance of cultural discourse amid the tsunamis of Big Data and 24-hour media feeds to all of our devices. The message from all three arenas is clear: Architecture doesn’t matter because the public realm has become virtual, capital chases capital without touching concrete things, and we can’t look at our environments objectively while checking our backsides for viruses, boogeymen, and hackers.

Let me unpack some of that for you, and for myself as well. Architects are still educated, correctly, to believe that what we do benefits everyone in some measure, but especially the people who work and live in spaces we design. I have written recently about how important it is for architects to understand biology and bra
NBBJ/Amazon
An outdoor amphitheater, public plazas for farmers' markets and a 350-foot-tall tower inspired by a double helix, are among the latest design proposals for Amazon's new headquarters.

The plans, made public and submitted to authorities for approval on Tuesday, will form the second phase of the tech giant's $2.5 billion HQ2 project in Arlington County, Virginia.

More than three years after Amazon announced that it was expanding beyond its current Seattle headquarters, construction at the Virginia site -- located across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. -- is now well underway. Dubbed PenPlace, the newly unveiled proposal for the project's second phase will provide a further 2.8 million square feet of office space across three 22-story buildings.

The site's focal point will be The Helix, a tree-covered glass structure where a series of "alternative work environments" will be set amid indoor gardens and greenery from the nearby area, tended to by a team of horticulturalists. According to the architecture firm behind the project, NBBJ, a spiral "hill climb" will meanwhile allow employees and visitors to ascend the outside of the structure.

"We're doing a lot on the site to connect people to nature, said lead architect and NBBJ principal, Dale Alberda, adding that the design aims to symbolize both nature and science. "But with the Helix we really take that to the extreme," he said in a video interview. "We're building a series of indoor atriums and gardens that are not a conservatory or a place you just visit, but a place you can actually go and work."

Public offerings

While the Helix itself will only open to the public occasionally ("at least two weekends" per month, Amazon confirmed to CNN), other parts of the site are intended for use by the community.

The new proposal includes 2.5 acres of public space, offering art installations, communal grassy areas and a 250-seat amphitheater. Outdoor plazas will host mobile food vendors and farmers' markets, while retail space will see shops and restaurants move in at ground level.

"If we do this right, you won't necessarily even know that you're on an Amazon headquarters property," said Alberda, adding that the "vast majority" of the site will be accessible to the public, including office buildings' lobbies.

"People talk about (tech) 'campuses' all the time, and that comes with (the impression of) a place that is fenced off ... but we are moving away from the campus to what we like to refer to as a neighborhood."

Elsewhere, the proposed design features a network of walkways and pedestrianized spaces, and can accommodate over 950 bicycles. Car parking and docking will be pushed below ground, keeping the immediate area free of service and delivery vehicles.

Employees will be able to reach downtown Washington, D.C. -- where Amazon boss Jeff Bezos bought a mansion for a reported $23 million in 2016 -- within 15 minutes by subway.

The entire headquarters is expected to run on renewable energy generated at a solar farm approximately 200 miles away in southern Virigina. Other sustainable design features include a system that recycles rainwater and the use of natural ventilation, while the buildings are designed to maximize the amount of sunlight that can enter, thus reduce the amount artificial lighting needed, Alberda said.

Long-term plans

When Amazon first announced plans to build a second headquarters in 2017, it received over 230 proposals from cities and states around the US.

In late 2018, the firm announced that northern Virginia and New York City had both been selected to split the duty as its second headquarters. But a proposal for the latter -- initially set for Long Island City in Queens -- was scrapped months later amid backlash from the local community. At the time, Amazon said that "a number of state and local politicians" in New York had "made it clear that they oppose our presence."
Propel Studio
Accessory dwelling units help the city meet its density goals and extend housing options—but only after striking a short-term/long-term balance.

While producing an annual music festival for five years, Keely Montgomery found that she often missed her two young children. She and her husband Josh watched accessory dwelling units (ADUs) pop up in Portland over the course of the decade, and in 2018 they decided to take the plunge. They commissioned an ADU in their backyard with short-term Airbnb rentals in mind, and Keely quit her job.

"It wasn’t an even trade in money," Josh says, "but when you factor in what we saved in child care, plus the pricelessness of being able to be with your kids, it didn’t have a huge impact on our bottom line."

They don’t mind that these days, with COVID-19 still keeping many at home, there are no bookings. "The silver lining is Josh has an office for his work," Keely explains. And because Josh works as a nurse at a local hospital, where his risk of COVID-19 exposure is higher, she says "he also has a space for quarantine if it gets dicey."

The ADU’s 490 square feet were designed for efficiency by local firm Propel Studio. "We’ve kind of learned what’s the most efficient layout," explains principal Nick Mira. "It’s three-fifths and two-fifths—three-fifths are the living area, and two-fifths are the bedroom and bathroom. The bathroom is a natural separator to provide some distance from the living area. We prefer to push kitchens to the perimeter—preferably just one wall." Although the back wall (which faces a tall fence and busy thoroughfare beyond) is windowless, clerestories fill the unit with natural light.

Over the past decade, the city has seen a wave of ADUs constructed—from detached backyard structures to dedicated basements dwellings and above-garage apartments that are part of an existing house. Portland isn’t the only city committed to ADUs, but in most places, regulations make them difficult. As of last year, there were only four American cities—Portland, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Austin—that had built more than 1,000 units.

And even in Portland, such growth is recent. Before 2010, when Portland first began to waive system development charges (SDCs) for ADUs, there was an average of 29 constructed per year. By 2016 and 2017, that number rose to well over 500 per year.

In 2018, to encourage more long-term rentals and discourage short-term stays, the City of Portland changed the rules, requiring new ADU owners to wait ten years to go the Airbnb route—or pay the original SDC (costs range from $14,000 to $19,000). That brought numbers down, but 2019 still brought another 315 permits. A Portland State University study found that about one-third of ADUs were used for short-term rentals, and slightly more were used for either long-term rentals or to house a family member. "It’s always been one of the long-range planning goals for the city," says Tyler Mann, a city planner with the City of Portland’s development bureau.

Mann also notes the city’s new Residential Infill Project, which was passed by City Council in August, will change zoning to make ADUs "even more important in the city’s housing mix," he adds. "It accomplishes two goals. It’s a way to retain existing housing stocks, while still having the flexibility to increase density and housing options."

Portland architect Webster Wilson, who has designed several ADUs, says his clients are looking for flexibility. "I think people are interested in outbuildings that can be rented out or set up for personal use—or both. That’s what’s interesting. It’s not one or the other—it’s ‘We may want to Airbnb it for a while, but then we’ll retire, move in there, and rent the main house.’ Or it’s ‘Our daughter will live there during college, and then we’ll rent it out.’"

Last year, a new state law cleared the way for many more ADUs to be built. HB 2001 effectively eliminated single-family zoning across Oregon. "Now it’s going to allow for duplexes and multiple ADUs in all areas of the city, unless there’s an environmental constraint or flood zone," Mann adds.

Detached ADUs tend to get more attention because they’re more visible standalone structures, explains Terry Whitehill, also of the City of Portland’s development bureau. "A common mistake—especially if they’re putting it in a part of the house like the garage or the basement—is they’ll have a common space with a furnace and electrical panels, and they don’t realize th
Los Angeles Times
When the last touches of landscaping are done next month, the 232-bed Vignes Street development will have shattered the axiom that homeless housing takes years to build and is exorbitantly expensive. From start to finish in under five months and at a cost of about $200,000 per bed, it has shaved years and hundreds of thousands of dollars off a traditional homeless housing project. — Los Angeles Times

The project, delivered in collaboration with Bernards, a design and construction firm; VESTA Modular, a national modular construction company; and NAC Architecture, is a mix of both permanent and temporary structures and will be used for housing and shelter.

According to the Los Angeles Times, "The two main buildings, constructed of once-used shipping containers, will have 132 units of permanent housing. The trailers, each divided into five units, will be for interim housing. The administrative building will house dining facilities, laundry and support services such as case management and counseling to serve both the permanent and interim residents."

Additionally, "The modular construction kept the basic cost to just over $86,000 per bed for the main buildings and $50,000 per bed for the trailers. Exterior elevators, the administrative building and site preparation, including removal of underground gas tanks, brought the total to $48 million, or $206,000 per unit, not including the county’s cost of $24 million for the land," writes Doug Smith for the Los Angeles Times.
Assets America
A recent essay on Common Edge has raised the issue of why architects are so afraid of confronting the need for adaptive reuse as a primary design strategy for the current century and beyond. As someone who taught groundbreaking studios on the subject at Columbia and elsewhere (and was discouraged from doing so), I can shed some light on the subject. Indeed, my 1992 essay, “Architecture for a Contingent Environment,” documented some of that student work in one of the first issues of the Journal of Architectural Education to feature historic preservation as a theme.

The grand narrative of architectural achievement following the Modernist movement has consistently praised “new and innovative” work at the expense of normative, competent design. When Rem Koolhaas singled out “fake history” in his attacks on historic preservation 10 years ago, he clearly showed not only his ignorance, but, more important, his seething contempt for any design practice that did not result in a complete remaking of the urban landscape, just as the authors of the 1933 CIAM declaration on historic urban quarters did. “Old quarters” were seen as squalid, dirty, unhealthy places whose charm was nostalgic rather than enriching. The Dutch Master had his head buried in the past, where anything historic was associated with the ancien régime.

As Vincent Scully and Stewart Brand have pointed out, historic preservation has fostered more urban revitalization and sustainable growth than any other strategy, and was the only popular architectural movement of the last century to garner support from virtually all citizens—contrary to Koolhaas’s false accusations of elitism. Part of the problem with architects embracing it was their own view of “design” as an elite artistic practice. Anyone working with a reverence and understanding of historic buildings and places was seen as a mere repairer, a tinkerer, a technical nerd. Frank Sanchis, one of the pioneering Columbia trained architects in conservation and preservation, once admitted that he went into the field “because I wasn’t strong in design, and knew I could succeed. Preservation isn’t about innovative design.” How wrong he was, despite the sad commentary on the state of the profession in the 1960s.
By their second or third year, architectural students falsely believe that they can’t be “creative” if they are designing additions or renovations to old buildings. Only when they leave school do they think otherwise…

That negative view of working with, not against, historic contexts has persisted in all but a few architectural programs. Several years ago, when I suggested to Deborah Berke, the incoming dean at Yale, that I offer a studio on adaptive reuse to her advanced students, she demurred. “Students won’t sign up for that,” she said, echoing a comment I also heard from her predecessor, Robert Stern. By their second or third year, architectural students falsely believe that they can’t be “creative” if they are designing additions or renovations to old buildings. Only when they leave school do they think otherwise, and wish they had some experience with “legacy” building technologies (to use a software term that would apply).

So, where does this leave professors and practitioners who want to teach students the subtle, difficult art of working with historic buildings? There are certainly books on the topic of additions, but they are often little help. Paul Byard’s awful, historically blinkered tome has only perpetuated myths about making new pieces fit their time, but not their place. Stuart Cohen, now an emeritus professor in Chicago, wrote one of the most intelligent essays, “On Adding On,” in the 1980s, but it isn’t consulted as often as Rudolfo Machado’s weaker piece cited by Amir Kripper. Few students in Ivy League programs have any idea that a literature exists on successful renovations and additions, because their professors are not interested in the subject. Much good writing by Beaux Arts–trained architects was published in the early 20th century. Edwin Lutyens was a master of adaptive reuse, as many of his clients owned venerable houses and castles that needed upgrading.

Only programs at Notre Dame, Miami, Colorado, and Georgia Tech offer the kind of history-based training that might prepare young architects for these future challenges. They teach the classical language of a
Wikimedia Commons
A leader in regenerative and netpositive design, Kirstin works with owners, cities and integrated teams to create living, resilient built environments where people and ecosystems thrive together. She has led some of the most cited studies on green roof performance and cost-effectiveness for clients such as the US GSA, Walmart and City and County of San Francisco.

After over a decade at Arup delivering sustainable office, mixed-use, civic and education projects, Kirstin launched Bio Studio, an ecological design consultancy based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Kirstin knows more about the economics of green roofs than just about anyone, and I was fortunate to catch her at her home office for this edition of On The Roof With.

Steven W. Peck (SWP): Kirstin, you've been involved in a number of very important economic studies about green roofs for both public and private sector clients over the past decade? Many of the benefits of green roofs are context specific, both in terms of the objectives for the green roof on the building and the policy context of the jurisdiction. Generally speaking from a private sector perspective, where does the business case for green roof investment principally lie - in savings, revenue generation or both?

Kirstin Weeks (KW): I would say that the business case depends heavily on context. All green roofs will tend to produce returns like building energy savings and protection and life extension of the roof membrane, saving money on reroofing over time. But some of the biggest potential returns come from human experience. In an average office, for example, the investment made in people’s salaries and benefits might be 100x the cost of utility bills. Studies have repeatedly shown increased satisfaction and productivity when people have views of nature. Taking a short break in a natural setting can reduce stress levels for hours afterward. So if a green roof is visible or accessible, we’ve seen that the small uptick in productivity has the potential to pay back the entire investment in the green roof in a year or less, whereas the utility savings would tend to take decades. Another scenario where green roofs can pay back quickly is in new buildings that are subject to stormwater management or open space regulations. In some policy environments and on certain sites, it is actually cheaper to build a building with a green roof than to meet the regulations without one.
MVRDV
MVRDV has shared its designs for the Matrix 1, an office and laboratory complex to be located in the heart of Amsterdam Science Park. Engineered to meet BREEAM Excellent certification as well as ambitious Amsterdam targets for energy performance (EPC 0.15) and water retention, the innovative building will also house the University of Amsterdam’s new SustainaLab. This will be a specialist facility for researching technologies and systems to reduce carbon emissions and develop green business models. The 13,000-square-meter building broke ground in early 2020 and is slated to open in the beginning of 2022.

Sustainability is a key design driver for the Matrix 1, a six-story structure built of steel and concrete components that can be dismantled for reuse in the future. The roof will be topped with landscaping and solar panels to contribute to biodiversity while harnessing renewable energy. The large expanses of glazing that wrap the building will minimize reliance on artificial lighting.

As a new addition to Amsterdam Science Park in Amsterdam East, Matrix 1 will build on the campus’ innovative and collaborative character with its open and social design. A spacious, zigzagging staircase — inspired by the campus’ network of paths — will form the social heart of the building and will be viewable from the outside through a curtain wall.

“It provides a balance in the building between the standardized laboratories and a playful, people-oriented architecture — an important consideration in a building where tech workers, who have high expectations for the quality of their office spaces, will share with science workers, for whom laboratories are unable to provide the same perks,” explained the architects of the spacious stairwell, which will double as a meeting place. “Matrix 1’s stairwell will thus allow scientific workers to feel pampered in the same way that has become normal in the tech sector.”