ULX July 09


Published on

Ten examples of projects that
rethink standard building types
and construction techniques,
employ atypical public/private
partnerships—and push the
sustainability envelope.

Published in: Real Estate, Business, Technology
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ULX July 09

  1. 1. ulx Innovations in Design and Development ron nyren The global recession and result- The most innovative built proj- scale than previously attempted, Ten examples of projects that ing slowdown in construction pro- ects may not necessarily look futur- in forging unusual partnerships, rethink standard building types vide an opportunity for architects, istic. They may not even represent and in getting the project built to planners, engineers, developers, previously unheard-of strategies. prove it can be done. and construction techniques, financers, and other professionals Sometimes the greatest creativity to rethink standard practices and lies simply in applying best prac- Ron nyRen is a freelance architecture and urban employ atypical public/private accelerate the rate of innovation in tices in a new way or on a larger design writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. partnerships—and push the the real estate development indus- try. Such acceleration is desperately sustainability envelope. needed to meet the challenges ahead. Densifying cities while enhancing livability and affordabil- ity, funding essential public services such as high-quality libraries and schools, and affordably introduc- ing the greenest design strategies possible into existing and new buildings, communities, and infra- structure are all essential steps in the effort to cope with rising urban populations and climate change.
  2. 2. 1. Cellophane House PrototyPe shown in new york City Cellophane House offers one paradigm for the future of mass-pro- duced yet customizable housing. As conceived by Philadelphia- based architecture firm KieranTimberlake, the home has floors, ceilings, and other components that are fabricated off site. The recycled and recyclable construction materials are bolted rather than welded to an off-the-shelf aluminum frame for easy assembly and eventual disassembly and reuse, virtually eliminating con- struction waste. Houses can be readily customized with different materials and interior floor plans. The high-performance building skin consists of Kieran- Timberlake’s NextGen SmartWrap, which sandwiches air between an outer layer of transparent plastic—laminated with thin-film photovoltaic cells—and an inner layer of plastic film. ©KieranTimberlaKe/bosch rexroTh Cellophane House was assembled in 16 days at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art for last year’s exhibit on modern prefabricated housing; five architects were commissioned to create commercially viable housing prototypes. Although Cello- phane House looks to the future, KieranTimberlake has several designs for prefabricated housing already available from Santa Monica, California–based manufacturer LivingHomes.
  3. 3. 2. citizenM Hotel amsterDam, the netherLanDs Manufactured dwelling space is not limited to individual housing. For each citizenM Hotel, only the ground floor is built on-site with conventional methods; the modular rooms are assembled at the company’s own off-site factory, shipped to the destination, and stacked. The approach speeds the building process and cuts down on construction waste. The cost savings allow the citizenM company, based in Voorschoten, Netherlands, to charge low room rates and still provide high-end materials and amenities; for example, it has partnered with the luxury firm Vitra for its furniture. Each hotel room is 151 square feet (14 sq m) and includes a king-sized bed. To make efficient use of space and maximize natural light, the design dispenses with walled-off bathrooms; instead, each room’s shower and toilet is enclosed in its own glass cylinder within the main space. (See “Hospitality Going Green,” February, page 54.) The first citizenM opened last year with 230 rooms at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport; the second opened this year in the Amster- dam city center with 215 rooms. Some 20 additional citizenM hotels are scheduled to open in ewouT huibers various European capital cities over the next five years. Concrete Architectural Associates of Amsterdam is the designer.
  4. 4. 3. Green Alleys ChiCago, iLLinois Alleys may not be glamorous, but they are important parts of a city’s infrastructure— and they add significantly to stormwater runoff. Chicago has 3,500 acres (1,400 ha) of alleys, many unconnected to the city’s combined sewer and stormwater system. The city’s department of transportation created its Green Alley program to stop the flooding of buildings near alleys, as well as to attain benefits of sustainability. Developed with Hitchcock Design Group of Naperville, Illinois, the program started in 2006 and uses a variety of alley surface designs, which include pervi- ous paving to allow rainwater to permeate the ground; light-colored surfaces to mitigate the heat-island effect by reflecting sunlight; incorporation of recycled ©hiTchcocK Design group materials such as recycled concrete aggregate, steel slag, and ground tire rubber to reduce resource use; and energy-efficient light fixtures to reduce light pollution. More than 80 alleys have been transformed as of the end of last year.
  5. 5. 4. Idea Stores LonDon, U.k. As libraries move into the 21st century, they are redefining their role in an increasingly digital society. The Idea Stores represent an unusual model, offering not only traditional library services, but also more than 1,000 classes in areas such as career training, health and fitness, and foreign languages. In the late 1990s, the London borough of Tower Hamlets, one of the city’s most economically challenged boroughs, had more libraries per capita than its inner-city counterparts, but the most rapid decline in their use. The Tower Hamlets Council surveyed residents and found they wanted modern facilities with a wider range of services. Since 2002, the council has opened four Idea Stores, one inside a Canary Wharf mall. The flagship is Idea Store Whitechapel, designed by London’s Adjaye Associates. Its colored-glass cube highlights the accessibility, transpar- Tower hamleTs council ency, and contemporary nature of the concept. Funds for the facilities came from council money, donations, grants, and partnerships with corpo- rations such as Lloyds of London and the Sainsbury’s supermarket chain.
  6. 6. 5. Orthopaedic Hospital High School Los angeLes, CaLifornia Faced with significant overcrowding in its school facili- ties, the Los Angeles Unified School District had a lot of ground to make up when voters approved state bond measures for school construction between 1997 and 2003. Because land to build new campuses was scarce and expensive, the district adopted high-density design strategies, plus entered into public/private partnerships, not only to make use of shared land, but also to provide enhanced educational opportunities. Designed by R.L. Binder Architecture & Planning of Playa Del Rey, California, Orthopaedic Hospital High School opened in 2004, as did eight other new schools. .l. binDer archiTecTure & planning The 850-student medical magnet school shares the site with Orthopaedic Hospital, a private hospital that donated a portion of the high school’s 4.27-acre (1.7-ha) campus to the district. The partnership also provides students with the chance to learn from the hospital’s staff and engage in internships.
  7. 7. 6. Poly International Plaza gUangzhoU, China The construction boom in China, combined with the country’s willingness to embrace unusual design strategies, has resulted in a number of distinctive buildings. Poly International Plaza, a mixed-use office and retail complex designed for Poly Real Estate Group of Guangzhou, repre- sents an outside-the-box approach to both sus- tainability and building safety. The site, located on the Pearl River, occupies a seismically sensi- tive area that is also subject to high summer temperatures and typhoon winds. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill of San Fran- cisco and the Guangzhou Design Institute created a pair of 35-story office towers that rely on diagonal braces on the south facades, a design that allows use of column-free floor plates for unimpeded river views; the bracing also shades the interiors from solar heat gain. Each tower has a three-story opening at its midpoint to reduce wind loads and provide a large outdoor terrace. The structural frame’s efficient design reduced the amount of steel som/©Tim griffiTh required by 15 percent, reducing construction som/©fu xing costs. Other sustainable strategies include natural ventilation and narrow floor plates that maximize daylight penetration.
  8. 8. 7. ROAR One VanCoUVer, british CoLUmbia, CanaDa ROAR One represents an exploration of higher- density urban housing, avoiding the standardized spatial layouts of typical condominiums to address the varied lifestyles and household structures of contemporary city dwellers. Local architecture firms LWPAC Lang Wilson Practice in Architecture Culture Inc. and Hotson Bakker Boniface Haden Associated Architects organized ROAR One as two volumes bisected by a long internal courtyard and perforated by slots that create continuous open spaces from front to back. Large inset patios provide each dwell- ing with its own sheltered outdoor space. The ten two-story units—six live/work spaces and four penthouses, ranging from 800 to 1,000 square feet (74 to 93 sq m)—have flexible interiors support- ing a variety of configurations. Floor-to-ceiling glaz- ing and operable windows provide plenty of natural light and air; residents can adjust large exterior slid- ing screens to shade themselves or create privacy. The project was completed in 2006 for Vancouver- lehoux based ROAR Ventures Ltd.
  9. 9. 8. Serenbe PaLmetto, georgia In rural Chattahoochee Hill Country, 32 miles (52 km) south of Atlanta, an unusually green community is taking shape. Former restaurateur and local landowner Steve Nygren bought 900 acres (364 ha) adjacent to his property to keep it from falling prey to city sprawl. He and other landowners got zoning laws changed for the 40,000-acre (16,000-ha) region to require that 80 percent of the land be preserved as green space through a transfer of development rights program. With master planning by local planner Phillip Tabb, Nygren and others created on Nygren’s land the 220-home Serenbe, three hamlets fitted into the terrain for low environmental impact, with all dwellings certified as sustainable by EarthCraft House, the area’s residential green building pro- gram. Included in the project are live/work units, townhouses, cottages, and estate homes. Architec- roberT rausch/serenbe tural diversity—including contemporary design—is encouraged, and the number of homes is limited to 220, of which half have been built to date. The site also includes a 25-acre (10-ha) organic farm, com- mercial tenants, and restaurants.
  10. 10. 9. UniverCity bUrnaby, british CoLUmbia, CanaDa In the 1990s, Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, transferred more than 790 acres (320 ha) of open space to the city of Burnaby for conservation in exchange for permission to develop a 4,536-unit residential community, UniverCity, on 161 acres (65 ha) adjacent to the university’s mountaintop campus. A 25-minute drive from downtown Vancouver, the site is on the city’s rapid transit system and several bus routes. Zoning bylaws require green building practices for all new developments, with density bonuses for those that go beyond the minimum green standards. All dwellings at UniverCity are multifamily residences, both townhouses and apartments, including 60 units sold at 20 percent below-market rates to faculty and staff. Zoning bylaws also allow apartments to have secondary suites that can be John benTley/sfu communiTy TrusT rented out separately—an affordable option particularly well suited for students. The Cornerstone, a mixed-use building, has neighborhood-serving retail space, and an elementary school is under construction. About 2,500 residents currently live in UniverCity of a projected total of 10,000 at buildout. UniverCity was one of ten winners of ULI’s 2009 Awards for Excellence: The Americas competition.
  11. 11. 10. Vauxhall Cross Interchange LonDon, U.k. In the Vauxhall area of London, transit passengers often had to dash across a busy highway to transfer between different modes of transportation. Arup’s London office designed for the government agency Transport for London a new transporta- tion interchange to knit the transit modes together, enhance safety, and serve as a landmark to stimulate regeneration. Six highway lanes were reduced to four, freeing up room for the arup associaTes/chrisTian richTers Vauxhall Cross Interchange, a multimodal facility that connects buses, the London Underground (subway), and the rail system, while providing safer passage for pedestrians and cyclists. Opened in 2005, the facility’s most innovative feature is its distinctive canopy—a 655-foot- (200-m-) long ribbon of stain- less steel that dips over each bus stand to shelter passengers; at the northern end, the ribbon rises up in twin cantilevers, marking the interchange’s location. The 20-degree slope also positions the high-efficiency, building-integrated photovoltaics on the cantilever surfaces for maximum solar power genera- tion, providing 30 percent of the electricity for the facility, which is open day and night. UL arup associaTes/chrisTian richTers