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Construction Dive
As U.S. contractors deal with the rising costs of both material and labor, the latter of which is driven partially by a shortage of skilled workers, three of the country’s biggest construction industry players — AECOM, Tutor Perini and Jacobs Engineering Group — reported their most recent quarterly earnings this week, proving that despite these challenges, there are still plenty of opportunities.

March saw the end of the second quarter of Jacobs’ fiscal year 2019, and company executives reported that the firm’s gross revenue for the quarter was $3.1 billion, up 7.7% from the same period a year ago. Net revenue increased 8.7% year over year, from $2.3 billion to $2.5 billion.

Q2 gross revenue for the company’s Building, Infrastructure and Advanced Facilities (BIAF) business was more than $2 billion, up from last year’s Q2 figure of $1.9 billion, delivering $172.7 million in segment operating profit. This growth was driven, in part, by the "further optimization of CH2M integration synergies,” said Steven Demetriou, company chair and CEO. Jacobs purchased CH2M in a $3.3 billion deal in 2017.

The company’s second-quarter backlog grew 11% year over year to $13 billion. Big wins for Jacobs’ BIAF segment this quarter included contracts for a vaccine manufacturing plant in the southeast U.S.; IDIQ contracts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and the MetroLink in Toronto.

Tutor Perini's first-quarter 2019 revenue fell a bit from the same period last year — $958.5 million from more than $1 billion — mostly due to new projects not starting in time to make up for the lower revenues of projects that are either complete or nearing completion. Bad weather in some areas of the country also had a negative impact on revenue in the company’s Q1.

However, income from construction operations was $22.9 million in Tutor Perini's first quarter, up from a loss of $900,000 in the first quarter of 2018.

Tutor Perini also broke some company records in its first quarter — $3.2 billion of new awards and upward adjustments in current contracts, as well as an $11.6 billion backlog. New awards for Q1 included the $1.4 billion Purple Line Section 3 Stations project in Los Angeles; the $253 million Culver Line Communications-Based Train Control project for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York City; and the $200 million Southland Gaming Casino and Hotel project in West Memphis, Arkansas, through its subsidiary Roy Anderson Corp.

“As these and other recent awards progress and contribute more meaningfully as the year develops,” said Ronald Tutor, chairman and CEO, "we expect to report significantly improved financial results.”

AECOM also had good news for investors this week, reporting revenue of $5 billion for its 2019 Q2, up 5% from the second quarter of last year, with positive contributions from all of the company’s construction-related segments.
Architects' Journal
London’s skyscraper epidemic is spreading with the number of tall buildings set to appear in the capital’s outer boroughs growing by a fifth last year

Research by New London Architecture uncovered a pipeline of 175 towers outside the city centre, each at least 20 storeys tall. This was up 19 per cent from 147 the previous year.

At the end of 2018, the overall pipeline of tall buildings in the capital was 541, with almost one in three located in outer boroughs.

The NLA’s London Tall Buildings Survey found that 60 skyscrapers could be completed this year – more than in the two previous years combined.

‘With more planning approvals in 2018 than 2017 and a slower rate of completions … the total number of tall buildings in the pipeline continues to build up,’ said the study.

‘Tall buildings are taking longer to complete, and this can be for multiple reasons, such as skills shortages, changing project delivery timescales and financial viability issues. In other cases, over-optimistic predictions can play a role in increasing the number of expected completions in a certain year.

‘However, in considering the statistics of the preceding two years, it is conceivable that more than 60 tall buildings could be completed in 2019.’

The number of planning applications for tall buildings in 2018 fell slightly from the previous year, from 78 to 75.

There was an increase in planning permissions with 72 towers granted consent last year compared with 63 in the previous 12 months.

Construction began on 38 tall buildings in 2018, a decrease of two from the previous year. Completion was arrived at on 25, an increase from 18 in 2017.

Almost half the overall tall buildings pipeline was in east London at the end of 2018, although the exact proportion was down from 50 per cent to 48 per cent.

West London saw the biggest growth in share of the pipeline, up from 15 per cent to 17 per cent.

New London Architecture chairman Peter Murray declared 2019 as ‘the year of the tall building’.
Francis Dzikowski for Related-Oxford
Manhattan's newest neighborhood, Hudson Yards, opened to the public today at noon. The neighborhood is the largest development in the city since Rockefeller Center, with 28 acres of mixed-use civic, office, residential, retail, and hospitality spaces developed by Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group. The public-use space includes 20 Hudson Yards, a one-million-square-foot shopping and dining destination brought to life by Elkus Manfredi Architects and KPF. It also includes a landscaped public square featuring Vessel, a 150-foot-tall, copper-plated staircase to nowhere by Thomas Heatherwick and Heatherwick Studio.

After years of fanfare accompanied by massive changes to New York City's skyline, the new neighborhood toasted 20 Hudson Yards and the public square on the night before its debut. It was a glitzy, guest-list kind of affair—a testament to the might of the developers who invested in the once-barren parcel of land along with the architects and designers who have made it into a destination.

While the public spaces—the presence of which were city-mandated—are thoughtfully designed, at no point can visitors forget for whom the neighborhood was intended. The 20 Hudson Yards entrance adjacent to both the 7 subway line and the public square greets shoppers with a barrage of luxury marquee retailers: Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Fendi, and Rolex. Neiman Marcus is the upscale department store anchor. Meanwhile, the shopping center's upper floors host moderately-priced retailers such Banana Republic and Brooks Brothers. Avant Gallery has a presence on the first floor, while Snarkitecture's Snark Park resides on the second floor.

A stellar marketing strategy for last night's grand opening had editors abuzz on the internet and inside the opening party itself, while influencers were shepherded around by their managers for photos. At present, Instagram posts tagged "Hudson Yards" are numbered at 78,000 and counting, while a cursory Google search of "Hudson Yards" yields over 90 million results and pages upon pages of news coverage. What will be left by way of public regard, and how that will impact the development's financial performance once the novelty wears off, remains to be seen.
TV2 lorry
‘save your ski gear for one of our most anticipated buildings set to complete in a few short months in copenhagen,’ was the message BIG – bjarke ingels group posted on instagram to announce the test of the lower ski slopes of the amager resource centre (ARC) which hosts the copenhill urban mountain. the project — which broke ground in 2013 — is a waste-to-energy plant that responds to ingels’ philosophy of hedonistic sustainability or the idea of saving the planet while having fun doing so, as stated by the guardian.

after five years of waiting, copenhagen’s citizens and visitors will soon be allowed to rush down the slopes of the city’s latest landmark — the amager resource centre together with the copenhill urban mountain by BIG. the socially-charged structure not only adds an artificial mountain to the naturally-flat country, but also raises awareness of sustainable energy by including a smokestack that releases smoke rings into the sky. these are activated whenever one ton of fossil CO2 is released — a signal that serves as a communicative function that reminds the viewer of the impact of consumption.

ARC is one of the steps towards copenhagen’s goal of becoming the world’s first carbon neutral capital. inside, the building is able to convert 400,000 tons of waste each year while providing heat to 150,000 households and low-carbon electricity for 550,000 people. overall, the amager resource centre in copenhagen is one of the best examples we’ve seen of how architecture can respond to both sustainable issues and to the needs of a community.

Nicolas Koenig
Design firm Yabu Pushelberg has completed a decadent hotel in New York's Times Square featuring lush green walls and a moody dining room with electric blue banquettes.

The Times Square Edition in New York is billed as Times Square's first design hotel and an "elevated" entertainment destination for locals, including multiple restaurants, bars, and a nightclub.

Yabu Pushelberg founders George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg designed the project for legendary hotelier Ian Schrager. The trio first became friends in the heydey of Schrager's infamous Studio 54 nightclub, which was located several blocks away from The Times Square Edition.

The new boutique hotel marks their fifth collaboration and presented an opportunity to evolve the district New Yorkers love to hate. The team describe it as the "ultimate counterpoint to its surroundings".

"We thought, 'Let's go back to where it started. Let's make it a bit European, chic, with simple materials – something unexpected that adds value to Times Square'," Pushelberg told Dezeen.

The 452-room hotel rises 42 storeys from behind a 17,000-square-metre LED billboard that wraps around its bottom half.

Unlike other hotels nearby, the Edition's ground floor entrance is relatively nondescript with a glass curtain and cream limestone doorway. Inside, a long cream bench guides guests to the lobby elevators, with a metallic custom art installation hanging like a bullseye at end of the hall.

"We didn't want it to feel like a big hotel," said Yabu. "Our idea was to break it down into a series of spaces that are intimate and more residential."

Throughout the Edition, Yabu Pushelberg emphasise botanicals and a neutral colour palette. It's a combination that, according to Pushelberg, can appeal to both the uptown and downtown crowds, leveraging influences from Central Park's iconic Tavern on the Green and hip supper clubs below 14th street.

Public spaces also celebrate "the glory days of the 60s and 70s" with black-and-white photographs of "Old New York" by Elliott Erwitt, Helen Levitt and Cornell Capa.

Sitting on the eighth floor, the lobby features lush green walls, cream curtains and wood paneling, and black herringbone floors. The team designed the adjacent Lobby Bar with contrasting ivory tones and a custom onyx bar, with natural light coming in from floor-to-ceiling windows and the Blade Runner Terrace.

"Terraces were unheard of in Times Square," said Pushelberg. "We made them like outdoor rooms with botanical boundaries that hide the cacophony beyond."

The hotel's restaurants have outdoor spaces as well, including 701West, the signature fine dining option. Helmed by Michelin-star chef Jason Atherton, the moody dining room boasts electric blue and chartreuse-coloured velvet banquettes, antique silk rugs and amber mahogany wood panels with white marble mosaic floors.

On the seventh floor is the Paradise Club, the nightclub and performance venue inspired by Studio 54.
President of Indonesia Joko Widodo is planning to relocate the nation's capital away from Jakarta, the world's fastest-sinking city.

Bambang Brodjonegoro, national development planning minister of Indonesia, revealed the president's plans to move the capital off the island of Java.

Speaking to Jakarta Globe after a cabinet meeting on Monday, Brodjonegoro said ministers have been told to suggest viable alternatives.

"We want to have a new city, which besides reflecting Indonesia's identity, is a modern, international-class city, or a smart, green and beautiful city," he told the news website.

Jakarta sunk 2.5 metres in 10 years

Jakarta, which is home to 10 million people, has been suffering from extreme land subsidence for decades. The northern part of the city has sunk by 2.5 metres in the past 10 years, and research shows some areas could be entirely submerged by 2050.

Almost half of the city is already below sea level and flooding is frequent, thanks to the 13 rivers that run through it. Jakarta also has the worst traffic congestion of any city on the planet.

The new capital will be close to the geographic centre of the country, according to Brodjonegoro. Cities that have been proposed in the past as possible new capitals include Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan and Makassar in South Sulawesi.

"It would be central from west to east or north to south," he told Jakarta Globe. "To represent justice and encourage development, especially in the eastern part of Indonesia."

Capital "should be near the coast"

The new capital's location will be chosen to reduce the potential risks from natural disasters said Brodjonegoro.

"We have to find a location that is really minimal in terms of disaster risks," he added. "Also, because Indonesia is a maritime nation, the new capital city should be located near the coast, but not necessarily by the sea."

The announcement comes shortly after Widodo, who has been president since 2014, claimed victory in the latest election. The official results are not due to be announced until May 22.
Banana Leaf Technology
Plastic pollution negatively impacts the health of our planet. Waste management has led to an irreversible environmental crisis that is felt by wildlife, especially in the oceans. One organization, called Banana Leaf Technology, is helping to address the stark reality by proposing banana leaves as a biodegradable alternative to single-use plastic.

Using 100 percent organic banana leaves as raw material, the novel, eco-friendly preservation technology transforms the cellular structure by enhancing its properties so that the leaves remain green for an entire year without any chemicals. Plus, their shelf lifespan is extended to up to three years.

After the preservation process, the enhanced leaves have increased load-bearing capabilities, resistance to extreme temperatures, durability, elasticity and flexibility. Banana Leaf Technology’s website additionally states that the processed leaves are more pathogen-resistant with antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties. How does it do this? The technology fortifies the banana leaves’ cell walls and prevents pathogenic agents from degrading the processed biomaterial’s cells.

Currently, Banana Leaf Technology offers 30 products that utilize its preservation methods. These products include plates, cups, cones, boxes, writing paper and envelopes. Because the patented Banana Leaf Technology is customizable, other products are expected to be developed in the future, such as natural packaging alternatives.

Banana Leaf Technology products provide several advantages. Besides curtailing the destructive damages to wildlife and landfills, using preserved banana leaf products decreases the risks of plastic leaching byproducts and toxins into food and beverages, making them a far healthier cookware, dinnerware and food storage alternative to plastic. Moreover, after their primary use, they can, in turn, serve as animal fodder or garden fertilizer to make soil more arable.

First formulated in 2010 by Tenith Adithyaa, a precocious 11-year-old who was working in his homemade laboratory, the now-patented Banana Leaf Technology has since received seven international awards. The company’s mission, according to its website, is “to solve the global climate crisis without compromising the economy.” Adithyaa’s vision is to make Banana Leaf Technology “available to all human beings, regardless of their geographical and economical boundaries.”

Interestingly, the company’s current business model is to “sell the tech license worldwide to any company” that shares in Adithyaa’s vision. The website elaborates further, stipulating that “any commercial or non-commercial company can purchase the license to this technology by technology transfer. The license will be granted for lifetime to operate worldwide.”
Abelardo Morell
The self-proclaimed "outsider," architect, and partner at Diller Scofidio + Renfro gives AD a look into her practice and process

“When I graduated from architecture school [at The Cooper Union], it was never with the intention of becoming an architect; I wanted to work in space,” says self-proclaimed “outsider” architect Elizabeth Diller, who also has a background in art. As the sole female partner at the New York–based AD100 firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, she is now one of the leading women in architecture, internationally. “I think I am a beneficiary of the women’s movement, while I didn’t have to do the heavy lifting myself,” she admits. “I was able to fluidly start my own practice, with Ric [Scofidio], but we were definitely seen as outcasts because we were doing independent artwork.” The husband-and-wife duo didn’t care too much, though, that both the art and architecture disciplines thought of them as outsiders, and today, Diller has kept true to her rebellious roots, declaring, “We’re even bolder and crazier than before.”

It shows. Her firm was propelled to international fame for its design (with James Corner Field Operations and AD100 Piet Oudolf) of the High Line, a 1.5-mile-long elevated public park that snakes up the west side of Manhattan along an abandoned train line. Since completion of phase one of the urban park in 2009, copycat versions have popped up in dissident contexts across the globe, controversy around its spurring of neighborhood gentrification is ongoing, and phase four is wrapping up soon. DS+R is now a household name and designing some of the most innovative (and, as proven, controversial), cultural projects around the globe, including The Shed and the Museum of Modern Art expansion, both in New York, and the London Center for Music.

Despite the high-profile architectural commissions, Diller maintains her artistic sensibilities, and independent projects are still a large part of the firm’s repertoire. This past summer, she produced The Mile-Long Opera along the aforementioned High Line, featuring a performance of 1,000 singers with music composed by David Lang. “I consider it at close to the Gesamtkunstwerk as I have ever come,” she rejoices. “It’s a consciousness that we have as crossover people—I wouldn’t say artists or architects specifically, but a consciousness that’s self-aware about space in the city and performance and the everyday and looking at it through a different lens and bringing all of that together to produce an experience.”

Its this kind of throw-away-the-rule-book mentality that Diller has tried to impart on the next generation of architects as well. As an educator since the 1980s, she has not seen the equal split of the sexes in architecture change much in recent years; however, outside of academia, women are often lost along the pipeline to the principal level. Beyond running a practice sensitive to architects starting and raising families, being conscious of equality of pay and opportunities, and giving importance to mental health, she “tries to set an example being passionate about the work at different scales and in different media,” she says, “being a risk-taker.”

Dave Burk/courtesy The We Company
There’s no membership required at We Company’s new retail space, where visitors can rent desks and conference rooms–and browse products by member companies.

The newly rebranded We Company (formerly known as WeWork) is the biggest private office tenant in Manhattan. But those spaces are primarily for members only, who pay up to $750 per month for a permanent desk at one of the 59 WeWorks across the city. Globally, the company has some 400,000 members at 400 locations.

But this week, We Company opened a new kind of space in Manhattan’s Flatiron neighborhood–one that’s entirely open to the public. It’s a retail store-cum-cafe-cum-coworking space, where you can buy products made by WeWork member companies, grab a bite to eat, and reserve a desk or a conference room by the minute.

The space, called Made by We, looks like a cross between a hip college library, a coffee shop, and a cutesy gift store: One entire wall is dedicated to showing off member companies’ products, which include laptop cases, reusable water bottles, and handmade cards. It’s similar to the four small stores We Company operates within some of its office spaces that also sell member companies’ products, but this is the first one that’s open to the public.

Made by We’s 96 desks are rentable for at least 30 minutes, starting at $6, which you can reserve online. After your 30 minutes are up, they cost $.20 a minute. You can also book an entire day, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., for $65. That’s definitely more expensive than parking yourself at a Starbucks and buying a tea so you can use the Wi-Fi, though you won’t have to pray for a power outlet near your seat.

You can also book a conference room for groups of four to 10 people, with prices ranging from $50 an hour to $125 an hour.

The space functions as a place to try out We Company’s main product–its coworking memberships–and reinforce the company’s brand as a hub for creative entrepreneurship by selling member products, like pencil and laptop cases by the brand Dynomighty. This combo makes Made by We similar in ethos to other recent retail concepts like Casper’s The Dreamery, where you can test out the startup’s famed mattress while taking a 40-minute nap. Given We Company’s prevalence in New York City, Made by We could easily be scaled up and implemented across the company’s other ground-floor commercial spaces–if it’s successful.

Will people be willing to pay to sit in a what’s essentially a branded cafe, with some merchandise? In New York, where there’s a coffee shop on every corner, maybe not. But the
S-Squared wants its Autonomous Robotic Construction System (ARCS) to revolutionize homebuilding

A group of friends on the south shore of Long Island, New York, working under the name S-Squared, think they can revolutionize the way that homes are built, using a self-made 3D printing rig that they claim can lay down a home in a little more than 30 hours.

“This will be the first time a real house is going to be built with 3D printing,” says Bob Smith, an S-Squared co-founder. “Everyone else has put up sheds.”

In March, S-Squared plans to erect a demonstration home on the ground of Suffolk Cement, in nearby Calverton. Using their proprietary Autonomous Robotic Construction System (ARCS), a 3D-printing rig that extrudes concrete to construct homes, commercial buildings, and even bridges, the company plans to construct a 1,490-square-foot, two-bedroom home later this year and obtain a certificate of occupancy.

The promised sale price—under $200,000, due to the reduction in manpower and labor costs—would be a game-changer for an expensive market such as Long Island. It would also be a new entry into the wide field of firms seeking to perfect and commercialize the process of mass-producing homes using 3D printing. At a time when venture capital-backed constructions startups raised more than a billion dollars last year in a race to make the building industry more efficient, a small, mostly self-funded startup from Long Island with 13 employees stands out.

“We are looking to be a disruptor,” says Smith. “But we’re not the class clowns. We’re just the ones who would keep asking the teacher, ‘why does it have to be that way?’”

S-Squared originated four years ago when a group of friends in the town of Patchogue became frustrated with the restrictions and regulations around building. Tired of the standard litany of delays and permitting, they joked with an inspector that they would build a machine that builds homes, just tell us what can get approved and it’ll spit it out.
Diller Scofidio + Renfro
The first phase of an elevated green walkway in London designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro will open this summer

To be named The Tide, the 5km-long ‘linear park’ near the O2 Arena in Greenwich reprises the practice’s much-loved High Line in New York.

The US practice is collaborating with London-based designers Neiheiser Argyros and landscape architect Gross.Max and a raft of artists on the first phase of the scheme.

Forming part of developer Knight Dragon’s Greenwich Peninsula neighbourhood, the first 1km section is set to open in July. This will consist of a walkway 9m above the ground, winding through trees and past giant sculptures by Damien Hirst and Allen Jones. Other features will include sunken gardens, a jetty garden surrounded by the river and a 27m-long picnic table on the Thames designed by Studio Morison.

Like the High Line – designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in conjunction with James Corner Field Operations and Piet Oudolf, and opened in 2009 – The Tide will be free to use.

Greenwich Peninsula director Kerri Sibson said: ‘The Tide brings to London an unrivalled outdoor experience in the city. This bold 3D landscape opens up the river, brings people together, gives us art to absorb, nature to enjoy and space to escape. Most importantly, it’s a place for everyone.’

Diller Scofidio + Renfro partner-in-charge Benjamin Gilmartin added: ‘The design of The Tide seeks to embed a new public realm into the daily rhythms of Greenwich Peninsula by layering together its currents of activity into a thickened landscape.

‘Visitors will experience the park from varying vantage points, from street level up to 9m-high elevated paths that weave through the site to plug into the existing network of leisure, art, and social life across neighbourhoods.

‘Diverse programming along the way will act as islands that welcome the surges of commuters, visitors, cyclists and runners while providing intimate places of pause for contemplation, conversation and people watching.’

The final 5km route will adapt to each new Peninsula neighbourhood as it is built, weaving among buildings. The developer said its ‘distinctive black and white stripe pattern creates a bold visual experience and sense of pace’.
Not so long ago, one of the most compelling reasons for daylighting a space was energy savings. Since the 1970s, lighting has been one of the largest users of electricity in buildings. But advances in lighting technology, namely the rapid improvement of LEDs, which are longer-lasting and more efficient than more traditional sources, are changing the discussion. Lighting’s energy consumption has been on the decline, representing 17 percent of electricity end use in commercial buildings in 2012, according to the U.S. Energy Information Association, down from 38 percent in 2003. Electric illumination’s slice of the energy pie should fall even more as LEDs develop further and their controls become both more sophisticated and more user-friendly.

Of course, there are other arguments for designing around daylight. Architects have intuitively understood its ability to elevate the experience of their interiors. Now an increasing body of science, accumulated over decades, has quantified daylighting’s beneficial effects. One still frequently cited 1999 study examined schools in three U.S. districts and found significantly improved performance among students occupying daylit classrooms. Since then, research has demonstrated higher sales figures in skylit big-box stores, as well as better outcomes for patients in hospital rooms with daylight, including shortened stays, reduced need for pain medication, and quicker post-op recovery.

Design teams and their clients are showing renewed interest in such health and productivity benefits. One chief factor is the expansion of the green building movement to encompass occupant well-being in addition to energy efficiency, says Chad Groshart, lighting-design lead in the New Haven office of Atelier Ten, an environmental design consultant: “The focus is no longer only on how the meter is spinning.”

One attribute of daylight that architects are keen to harness is its ability to help regulate our biological clocks, or circadian rhythms. Its spectral distribution and intensity affect a host of interrelated physiological and psychological functions including mood, alertness, and hormone levels. Designers are also eager to use electric light to improve these functions, a possibility enabled by the advent of tunable-white LEDs, which have color temperatures that can range from very warm to very cool. But experts warn that there is still debate about the optimum color, timing, and duration of exposure in such electric illumination. “Circadian lighting design is more of a lengthy experiment rather than an authoritative design standard,” says Brian Stacy, Arup’s lighting lead for the Americas. Groshart echoes this view: “Sunlight is the best circadian light,” he says, advising that project teams seeking to help regulate occupants’ internal rhythms should first focus on strategies for achieving the best quality daylight, including the orientation, form, and fenestration of the architecture.

Such factors can be readily manipulated when designing a new building, but tenant fit-out projects or the renovation of existing buildings naturally require a different approach. An example is one of Groshart’s own projects, the New York headquarters for Delos, the wellness real-estate and technology company best known for creating the WELL Building Standard (the rating system is now administered by Green Business Certification Inc.). Delos moved into its space on the fourth and fifth floors of 860 Washington Street, a new 10-story structure by James Carpenter Design Associates and Adamson Associates Architects in the city’s Meatpacking District in late 2017. The organization picked the building in large part for its floor-to-ceiling glass curtain wall on three of its four facades, since both daylight and views are important aspects of WELL. This skin affords ample daylight and views of the adjacent High Line park and the rest of the neighborhood. (The offices have been certified WELL Platinum, have earned Living Building Challenge “petal” status, and are on track for a LEED Gold or Platinum rating.)

The project’s architect, Gensler, with Atelier Ten as lighting designer, developed the 19,000-square-foot office with a variety of environments, including “free address” workstations, a café, and meeting and focus rooms, all organized around a central stair featuring a digital artwork that is activated as occupants ascend or descend. At lea
We take a first look at Tesla’s latest solar roof tile technology with custom fittings through a new document from Tesla obtained by Electrek.

As we reported yesterday, Tesla is currently completing the third version of its Solar Roof, which they claim will bring the price down significantly.

Tesla’s solar roof tiles are part of Elon Musk’s plan to offer solar products with better aesthetics in order to create a distinctive brand that can be differentiated from other installers on a product basis.

He said when first announcing the product that they were working on such solar products:

“I think this is really a fundamental part of achieving differentiated product strategy,”

The CEO believes that current solar products look all the same and that roofs are ugly.

The solar roof was Tesla’s solution to this problem. The tiles originally unveiled were sleek looking, but Tesla is now also making sure that they mesh with the rest of the roof for an overall sleek design.

In a new document sent to some customers and obtained by Electrek, Tesla describes the custom fittings:

“Custom designed flashings and ridgecaps fit around your home’s unique design and roof pitch while accentuating the Solar Roof tiles and ensuring maximum weather-proofing. The end result is a roof that looks better and lasts longer.”

Tesla also says that they are replacing vents and other things sticking out of the roof in order to match the solar tiles.

They wrote in the document:

“Vents and skylights are replaced or modified to match your new Solar Roof aesthetic. Certain air vents can be replaced entirely with Solar Roof’s integrated ventilation. Those vents that can’t be removed will be replaced or modified to ensure exceptional visual appeal.“

At Tesla’s 2019 shareholder’s meeting earlier this week, Musk said Tesla was still working on longevity testing for the new version of its solar roof tiles and that they are now installing the solar product in 8 states.

The CEO also boasted about the price of the Solar Roof V3 being equivalent to a shingle roof plus electric bill.

Stay tuned for more about Tesla Solar Roof pricing.
Denys Nevozhai/Unsplash
Some of New York’s tallest towers are doing the most harm to the environment. Although buildings larger than 25,000 square feet only represent two percent of the city’s stock, according to the Urban Green Council that minority is responsible for up to half of all building emissions.

Now the New York City Council is finally cracking down on the worst offenders, and New York will soon become the first city in the world to constrain large building emissions through hard limits. Yesterday the council passed the eight-bill Climate Mobilization Act, a legislative package that some are comparing to a New Green Deal for New York.

The Climate Mobilization Act, which Mayor de Blasio is expected to sign, would set increasingly harsh limits on carbon emissions for buildings over 25,000 square feet beginning in 2024. According to the Urban Green Council, New York City produces 50 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, and buildings account for approximately 67 percent of that—meaning buildings over 25,000 square feet produce 35 percent, or about 13 million tons of carbon dioxide, a year.

The legislation covering the affected 50,000 buildings will roll out in phases. This year, an Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance and an advisory board will be created at the Department of Buildings to both regulate and enforce the new standards. When the law fully takes effect in 2024, emissions from qualifying buildings will need to be reduced 40 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. The Climate Mobilization Act then takes things one step further and requires that these same buildings slash their emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

Why are large buildings such energy hogs? Lighting, heating, cooling, and tech requirements, combined with inefficient equipment, all constrained within leaky envelopes, have combined to create a perfect storm of waste.

Retrofitting these massive buildings to use or waste less energy is projected to potentially create thousands of jobs for architects, energy modelers, engineers, and construction workers, as everything from inefficient windows to HVAC systems will need to be replaced. For those structures that can’t be brought up to code on schedule, their owners can offset a portion of their emissions by purchasing renewable energy credits. If an owner still isn’t in compliance, they can be hit with an ongoing fine based on their actual emissions versus the cap.

The real estate industry had been a vocal opponent of the measure, arguing that it would place an undue burden on both it and tenants.

“The overall effect is going to be that an owner is going to think twice before she rents out any space: ‘Is the next tenant I’m renting to going to be an energy hog or not?’” Carl Hum, general counsel for the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), told the New York Times. “There’s a clear business case to be made that having a storage facility is a lot better than having a building that’s bustling with businesses and workers and economic activity.”

Still, those fears appear unwarranted. Part of the Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance’s job will be to work with landlords and tenants and issue variances for buildings with higher energy requirements.
Chun Lai
Craig Hartman and his wife, Jan O’Brien—both architects—spent nearly 10 years visiting their weekend property in Sonoma County, California, before breaking ground. They stayed in a yurt on the rolling 35-acre former cattle ranch and contemplated a gentle architectural intervention. Finally, the first phase, a guest/caretaker cottage, is done, serving as the couple’s own retreat until the main house is built, and embodying key ideas for the whole site.

“Beyond sustainability,” says Hartman, “we wanted land we could make environmentally even better than we’d found it.” Removing the cattle dramatically helped restore native ecosystems, allowing oak seedlings to proliferate and mature (instead of becoming grazing fodder), and protecting on-site creeks from contaminated pasture runoff. But without client pressure, the project became “like a hobby,” he recalls. “I worked on it here and there during weekends.” He savored the leisurely pace and modest scale—a welcome change from the vast structures he’s handled as a partner in SOM’s San Francisco office, where he designed, notably, California’s Oakland Cathedral and the U.S. Courthouse in L.A.. “With this house, my wife indulged me,” he says. “Though she’d built her entire practice on smaller-scale work and interiors, she generously let me design it.” (A young associate, Anesta Iwan, is collaborating on the compound, while O’Brien, as project architect, is overseeing it all.)

Nestled within a hillside oak grove, the net zero carbon cottage is composed of a “day” and “night” pavilion, joined by a canopy. Each of these volumes, totaling 840 square feet, is a rectangular tube, structured with renewable, heavy timbers and partially cantilevered to reduce the footprint. The exterior recycled-steel cladding is dark-colored to recede visually. The day pavilion contains a double-height living/dining/kitchen area, while its nighttime counterpart houses the master bedroom and art studio/guest room.

As in the future main house, the fenestration is oriented for passive cooling, privacy, and long, sweeping landscape views, as well as contemplative near ones. Heat-venting skylights with subtly colored baffles and LED components temper the interior illumination, in tandem with the changing qualities of daylight. A ground-mounted PV array, elsewhere on-site, covers the property’s energy needs while feeding excess power back into the grid.

The owners hope to make their cabin available for visiting artists, once the main house is built. When will that happen? “We were going to begin construction this spring,” says Hartman, “but now we’re putting it off another year.” Stay tuned.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
This year’s Super Bowl is practically a dream come true for architecture and design enthusiasts. Atlanta’s newest architectural landmark, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, will host the 53rd Super Bowl on February 3. The highly-anticipated project was completed in August 2017, notably led by HOK design principal Bill Johnson. As the lead designer, Johnson led the HOK team in being radically innovative and re-thinking the potential of what a stadium could achieve.

Johnson spoke with Interior Design about the top five design features fans should be sure to look out for during Super Bowl LIII.

1. The Futuristic Exterior Façade

“The façade’s shape reflects the roof’s form," explains Johnson. "We alternated transparent ETFE panels with metal panels. The ETFE on the stadium’s west side spans more than 16 stories and 22,500 square feet, offering floor-to-ceiling views of the city. Dubbed the window to the city, this transparency provides visual and physical connectivity while supporting the stadium’s ambitious sustainability goals.”

2. The Oculus-Inspired Roof

“Our approach to the design started with the roof,” says Johnson. “Traditionally, stadium design begins with the seating bowl, which means the retractable roof can resemble an architectural afterthought, sliding open and closed quite conventionally. Our design team reimagined the retractable roof by reinventing the design process, working from the outside in. Inspired by the Pantheon and the way the circle of light hits the playing field, we designed an oculus roof with eight ETFE petals that open and close like a camera aperture in under eight minutes. The angular nature of the roof and the way they seamlessly align with the building’s façade was inspired by the shape of the Falcon’s wing, an ode to one of the two home teams, (the other being Atlanta United)."

3. The 360-Degree Halo Video Board

“The halo video board was inspired by the roof’s iconic opening. Our design team wanted to maintain the integrity of the design and avoid impeding the roof opening with a center-hung scoreboard, as you see at most venues,” Johnson explains. “To do this, we thought differently about how the video board could be embedded within the building’s structure. The six-story high, 360-degree halo video board is seamlessly built in, creating a way to experience content-in-the-round. This halo video board immerses fa
Alex Welsh for The New York Times
A Lloyd Wright house, linked to the Black Dahlia murder, is now a photogenic backdrop for fund-raisers, music videos and cannabis gatherings.

In Los Angeles, where even houses get their proverbial close-ups as TV or movie locations, a property’s appeal can crest on its IMDb credits alone.

But only the Sowden House in the Los Feliz neighborhood can claim film cameos, a pedigreed architect and a history as the possible site of a grisly unsolved murder. Never mind the fact that the exterior entryway resembles a menacing maw, earning it the apt nickname “the Jaws house.”

Designed by 1926 by Lloyd Wright (the son of Frank Lloyd Wright), the Mayan Revival-style mansion most recently appeared in the TNT limited TV series “I Am the Night,” a fictionalized account of the Black Dahlia murder of an aspiring Hollywood actress, Elizabeth Short, in 1947.

Some believe that Ms. Short was murdered and mutilated in the basement of the Sowden House when it was owned by George Hodel, a prominent gynecologist who lived there from 1945 to 1950. Mr. Hodel was known for hosting wild parties in its basement.

Seven decades and five owners later, Sowden House is once again a swinging social center. Last year Dan Goldfarb, an entrepreneur and former hedge fund analyst from New York, bought the 5,600-square-foot, four-bedroom home for nearly $4.7 million with the idea to make it a cultural hub for cannabis. (Mr. Goldfarb is the founder of Canna-Pet, a company in Seattle that sells hemp-derived CBD products for cats, dogs and other pets.)

But Mr. Goldfarb, who has been called a “marijuana millionaire,” doesn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea.

“There is this misconception that every event here is about cannabis,” he said on a sunny afternoon inside the sprawling living room. (In all fairness, however, it was hard to miss a sizable bong on the kitchen counter.) “This is not like ‘Cheech & Chong’ or a descent into ‘Reefer Madness.’”

Indeed, Mr. Goldfarb and his wife, Jenny Landers, have held fund-raisers for politicians (including one for Representative Katie Hill, Democrat of California) and nonprofits (Kindred Spirits Care Farm, which teaches students about farming). The house has also been used for a music video (for the XX song “I Dare You”), photo shoot (In Style magazine), art exhibition (by the Gagosian Gallery) and dance performance (for HomeLA, an arts group).

“You really don’t need to add much to the house because it has so much character,” Ms. Landers said.

The couple have no plans to redecorate (the furnishings were included in the sale), and they arrived at their new home in a minivan with just cats — eight of them — and suitcases. An 11-foot sofa fronts an ottoman fit for an ogre. A giant antique Japanese door serves as a coffee table.

“Everything is scaled up, like in “Alice in Wonderland,’” Mr. Goldfarb said. “A normal couch would look rinky-dink in here.”

With its undulating textile block walls, soaring ceilings and pavilion courtyard, the home certainly craves a crowd. Empty, it’s as incongruous as a woman in a ball gown at a bus stop.

The original owners, John Sowden and his wife, Ruth, envisioned it as a bohemian playhouse for aspiring actors and Hollywood bons vivants. The once grassy courtyard served as seating during performances. Now, a wading pool and an ornate fountain shimmer in the sunlight.
Wikimedia Commons/Ytoyoda
Last month, Foxconn said it would start plant construction in the summer amid rumors that the company was either scaling back the project or changing its nature from a manufacturing to a technology hub. Foxconn has consistently denied these rumors as well as speculation that it was going to hire workers from China to staff its operations.

The reality is that Foxconn is making progress on its plans for a manufacturing and R&D facility in Wisconsin, even if the pace is not as aggressive as some might have anticipated. So far, the company has built a 120,000-square-foot multipurpose building that will serve as an administrative headquarters for the contractors on site and Foxconn staff.

A tremendous amount of excavation and other site work has either been completed or is ongoing. Last month, Gilbane | Exyte awarded $34 million worth of contractors for site, road and drainage work.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is tracking the work completed so far, as well as the subcontractors and other local companies that participated. So far, there are about 75 Wisconsin-based companies that have performed work, providing everything from fencing to architecture services.

However, this isn’t the type of employment that counts toward the hiring goals Foxconn agreed to. In return for $3 billion in tax incentives, the company pledged to create a certain number of full-time positions. In 2018, Foxconn created 1,032 direct jobs, but only 178 of those positions qualified under the deal with the state because 854 were temporary construction jobs. This resulted in Foxconn missing its 260-job goal for 2018 by 82 positions and losing out on $9.5 million in tax credits.
ICD/ITKE University of Stuttgart
Blaine Brownell reviews recent applications of carbon fiber technology and assesses its utility in environmentally conscious construction.

To market the design for his Dymaxion prototype, Buckminster Fuller famously asked: “How much does your house weigh?” Composed of a lightweight sheet metal aluminum skin held in tension by a single, central mast, the Dymaxion weighed only about 1.5 tons—about 10 percent the weight of an average house.

Fuller's emphasis on weight is even more critical today, given the ever-increasing environmental impact of shipping raw and processed materials around the planet. The automotive and aerospace industries have made significant advances in the strategy known as "lightweighting" by employing new and lighter materials and reducing the weight of components. Such an approach enabled U.S. airlines to significantly increase fuel efficiency by 125 percent between 1978 and 2017.

Carbon fiber is increasingly employed in the fabrication of many ultralight structures, from Formula One car bodies to bicycle components. Made from carbon filaments that are typically woven together into a cloth, carbon fiber is often coated with resin or thermoplastics to create composites with a very high strength-to-weight ratio. The result is a material about five times stronger and five times lighter than steel—and twice as stiff—that can readily tolerate heat and corrosion, making it ideal for extreme environments.

Despite the relatively high cost of carbon fiber, architects and engineers have started using it to construct buildings and infrastructural projects. For example, researchers at the University of Stuttgart’s Institute for Computational Design and Construction (ICD) and the Institute for Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) utilized carbon fiber as a prominent construction material in their latest work: the 2019 BUGA Fiber Pavilion at Bundesgartenschau Heilbronn in Germany, a dome made of glass- and carbon-fiber ribs clad in a transparent ETFE membrane. The team programmed a robot to deliver more than 492,000 feet of fibrous filaments in a spatial arrangement whereby fiber type and density could be varied based on structural loads. Designed to mimic biological systems, the carbon fibers surround the transparent glass fibers to form bundled structure members resembling flexed muscle tissues. According to the team, a single fibrous component can support “around 25 tons or the weight of more than 15 cars.” The dome, which has a free span of around 75 feet and shelters a floor area of 4,305 square feet, is composed of 60 of these components, each of which weighs only 16.8 pounds per square meter.

Although the ICD/ITKE work assumes the form of bespoke demonstrations, another research team has been deploying carbon fiber broadly in public infrastructure. The University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center has developed a composite arch bridge system made of carbon fiber–reinforced concrete. Designed for single-span bridges up to 65 feet, the system consists of a series of carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) tubes that are filled with concrete on-site and then topped with steel-reinforced concrete decking. Similar to inflatable rafts, the CFRP tubes are transported to the site in a compact, folded state—hence the nickname “Bridge-in-a-Backpack.” According to the center’s website, “The arches are easily transportable, rapidly deployable, and do not require the heavy equipment or large crews needed to handle the weight of traditional construction materials.” In addition to their lightness, the CFRP tubes serve as the concrete formwork, thus eliminating the need for additional materials. They also function as noncorrosive concrete reinforcing, a clear advantage over rust-prone steel. Based on these many benefits, the system has been used to build 23 bridges to date.

These examples demonstrate how lightness—among other material attributes—gives carbon fiber an advantage in construction. But how does this lightness perform when a project also calls for enhanced sustainability?

In a December 2019 Industry Week article, Ray Boeman, director of the Scale-Up Research Facility at the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation in Knoxville, Tenn., explains, “Carbon fiber has the best potential for lightweighting, but takes a lot of energy.” According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a typical CFRP composite requires 800 megajoules per kilogram (MJ/kg) of p