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junya ishigami + associates
I think that the conversation with Junya Ishigami at his experimental (and very international) studio in Tokyo was one of the most memorable experiences of my recent trip to Japan. Junya's visions for not just of his own architecture but for the profession were wholeheartedly inspiring. He thinks that architecture today is “not free enough.” He wants to diversify it, liberate it from so many architects’ insistence on following particular building types and, in general, our narrow expectations. He wants his architecture to be soft and loose and finds inspiration in such improbable metaphors as clouds or the surface of water. “We need to introduce more varieties of architecture to better address peoples’ dreams…I want to expand architecture into the future by creating new comfortabilities,” says Ishigami, whose two recent manifesto-like exhibitions in Paris questioned the very nature and purpose of architecture. He is a visionary and essential voice in what is perhaps the most unsettled of all professions.

Vladimir Belogolovsky: I saw your fantastic exhibit at Centre Pompidou in Paris a couple of years ago. It was called “How Small? How Vast? How Architecture Growth.” It was so pure and beautiful.

Junya Ishigami: Thank you. Now I am preparing another show also in Paris at the Cartier Foundation, called “Freeing Architecture.” In the first show I wanted to demonstrate studies of how I think about architecture. There were pure concepts, completely independent of any reality and limitations. The new show is all about 20 real projects – some already built, others under construction.

VB: How can architecture be freed?

JI: Each era is defined by a particular movement in architecture. For example, at the time of Modernism, many buildings were built for the masses in a very particular way. But in our time, we no longer have to build in one particular way. We can build in so many new ways. I want all of my projects to be different. I think now the purpose of architecture is to bring variety by addressing each project and each person very particularly. Also, I don’t think architecture is only for people. It may be for nature, the environment, animals, insects, and so on. To me, to free architecture means not to be dogmatic or stylistically driven but to be specific and inventive in every case.

VB: You don’t think today architecture is free?
The ever-increasing number of connected devices and the need to store all the resulting data has led to a rise in U.S. data center construction that shows no signs of slowing down.

Apple recently announced that it would invest $10 billion in data centers in the next five years — a move that puts it at the forefront of investment in such projects but certainly not on its own. In fact, according to a recent Insight Partners report, the value of the international data center construction market was $43.7 billion in 2017, and, at a compound annual growth rate of 10.2%, is expected to be $92.9 billion in 2025.

The data centers being built fall mostly into two categories — those that will serve only the needs of huge, data-heavy companies like Google and Facebook and those being built for collocation firms like CyrusOne. Both types of centers include those classified as “hyperscale,” which are made flexible enough through energy efficiencies and other optimizations to be able to expand and meet demands of big data, cloud computing and enterprise customers.

So while Amazon and high-tech cohorts like Apple build these facilities for their own exclusive use, collocation data centers provide server space, bandwidth and equipment for multiple companies under one roof.

According to Pat Lynch, senior managing director for CBRE's data center solutions division, there are relatively few locations in competition for one of these facilities. There aren’t many areas of the country, he said, that can offer the winning combination of low power and land costs, plus the incentives — i.e. property tax breaks and other perks — that attract big players in the space.

Facebook, for example, is building a $750 million data center in Huntsville, Alabama, and will receive a $6.6 million incentive package from local agencies in return, including $2 million in waived permit fees and $4.6 million of infrastructure work around the new data center.

Another key to successful recruitment of a data center, he said, is a solid partnership with the local power company, which must be prepared to make a major investment in infrastructure to meet future energy needs.
Pendry Hotels & Resorts
Pendry Hotels & Resorts recently announced the first release of Pendry Residences West Hollywood by Montage Hotels & Resorts for purchase. Together with AECOM Capital, the investment adviser of global infrastructure firm AECOM, and Combined Properties, a full-service real estate firm, the Residences are scheduled to open in summer 2020.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The project is currently about 70 percent complete, with crews working on exterior framing and window walls, interior framing on the upper floors and finishes on the lower levels. Five of 10 elevators are underway.
Related Santa Clara, one of the largest projects in the Bay Area, plans to create over 9 million square feet of offices, housing, hotels and retail on 240 acres next to Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers.

Developer Related Cos. intends to start construction next year on the $8 billion project, previously known as CityPlace Santa Clara, which survived dueling lawsuits between Santa Clara and its neighbor, San Jose. The first phase is set to open in 2023.

In a battle over Silicon Valley’s future growth, San Jose sued Santa Clara in 2016 and alleged that the project, which includes 5.4 million square feet of office space and 1,680 housing units, would lead to more housing demand and additional traffic in San Jose.

In response to San Jose’s lawsuit, Santa Clara sued to block Santana Row, a large office project planned in San Jose. The two cities settled both lawsuits last year, allowing both Related Santa Clara and Santana Row to be built in exchange for payments to both cities to fund transit improvements.

The clash underscored Silicon Valley’s growing pains amid the red-hot economy, powered by big tech companies like Google, which plans to build a giant campus in San Jose, and Apple, which leased space in Santa Clara last year. Job growth has far outpaced new housing, with the Bay Area adding 14,900 new homes in 2017 compared to 52,700 jobs, according to government data.

The amount of housing was limited at Related Santa Clara because the site was previously used as landfill and required additional environmental approvals, according to Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor. She said other parts of the city will add more housing, such as the adjacent Tasman East area, where 4,500 units are planned.

The project will replace an underused golf course at 5155 Stars and Stripes Drive, she said. Legal challenges aren’t fully resolved: David’s Restaurant, a tenant on the site, is fighting a city eviction and use of eminent domain.


Did you know you can access The Chronicle’s photo archives?

Crowds arrive early on opening day of the Golden Gate International Exposition. Feb. 18, 1939.
Stephen Eimer, a Related executive vice president, said the developer was attracted to the site because of its proximity to transit from the Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority and Amtrak and Altamont Corridor Express trains. VTA light rail trains will connect to Caltrain stations in Mountain View and San Jose and a soon-to-open BART station in Milpitas. (The project website confusingly notes that BART is coming to the city of Santa Clara in 2025. While technically true, that station is 6 miles from the stadium area and will not offer convenient transit connections.)

The project will generate $17 million in annual taxes and fees and create 25,000 jobs. It includes 170 affordable housing units. An additional 700 hotel rooms are planned.
Varjo Technologies/Umbra
Could new technology that simplifies the transfer of BIM models to augmented reality push AEC firms to go all in on extended reality?

xtended reality (XR) is in a unique phase of its life cycle. The technology is readily available for anyone and everyone who thinks they can do something with it. And for better or worse, it is anyone and everyone who thinks they can do something with it.

New applications for AR and VR are more ubiquitous than superhero movies. Unfortunately, they are just as vapid. The trick with XR is to shift it from novelty to necessity, and the AEC industry has proven to be the one that offers the best opportunity to do exactly that.

“With a single button click, Umbra does all the heavy lifting so designers can share huge, complex models with anyone, anywhere,” says Shawn Adamek, Umbra’s Chief Strategy Officer. “Never before have people had access to view complete, full-resolution BIM models in AR on untethered mobile devices.”

Once the model has been optimized in the cloud, users can log into their Web-based account, where they can view the model in the browser, send it to their mobile device, or share it with others.

A big part of what makes this technology so helpful to end users is the fact that it is compatible with mobile devices like iPads and smartphones. AR-specific devices, such as the Microsoft HoloLens, are still relatively rare among even the largest architecture and construction firms. Expanding the point of entry by making common mobile devices compatible with the technology increases the number of users who can benefit from BIM-to-AR applications, while also advancing the rate at which the technology evolves and improves.

The AEC industry has already done a good job at helping XR claw its way out of the novelty category. Recent developments like Umbra’s new BIM-to-AR technology are a big reason why. This innovation uses Umbra’s cloud-based technology—adapted from the company’s tools for the photorealistic video game industry—to take 3D data of any size and optimize it so that it can be delivered and rendered on mobile devices.

The technology, called Umbra Composit, can be used with common design tools such as Revit, Navisworks, and ArchiCAD to upload 3D BIM models directly to the company’s cloud platform. From there, Umbra automates the process of optimization and prepares the BIM model to be shared with anyone on XR platforms.
Investigators scrutinize hanger connection detail as well as design, material and fabrication

SPECIAL REPORT The underlying causes of the trouble at San Francisco’s 4.5-block-long Salesforce Transit Center are coming into focus. A combination of low fracture toughness deep inside thick steel plates, cracks present as a consequence of normal steel fabrication and stress levels from loads, which are a function of design, apparently caused brittle fractures in the bottom flanges of the center's twin built-up plate girders that span 80 ft across Fremont Street.

All three ingredients were needed for the brittle fractures. “Take away any one and there is no brittle fracture because the other two compensate,” says Michael D. Engelhardt, a professor of engineering at the University of Texas, Austin, and the chair of the independent peer review panel formed in October by the area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

One ingredient is a material’s low fracture toughness, which indicates how intrinsically resistant the steel is to brittle fracture, says Engelhardt. Another is an initiating discontinuity, known informally as cracking, often present as a consequence of normal steel fabrication. A crack, as in a pane of glass, causes a stress concentration, explains Engelhardt. It is benign if the other ingredients are not present.

The third ingredient is a high-enough level of stress, which is a function of design. Service loads, in this case live loads such as buses, generate the stress.

The troubles at Saleforce Transit Center open a window on some of the process, quality-control and responsibility challenges that occur when designing, detailing, fabricating and building long-span steel structures with large or very thick sections. Among the questions raised are whether codes and standards should be changed.

The MTC panel, in addition to its charge of technical review and guarding public safety, expects to make recommendations for change in standard practice, and possibly codes and procedures.

“There are a lot of things we can learn from this,” says Engelhardt. “People who write codes and standards should take this seriously,” he adds.