Tallest Tower West of Chicago Topped Off in San Francisco

The 1,070-foot-tall, $1.1 billion Salesforce Tower in San Francisco will be the tallest skyscraper west of Chicago.

The 1,070-foot-tall, $1.1 billion Salesforce Tower was topped off in San Francisco last month making it the tallest skyscraper in the West, eclipsing the city’s Transamerica Pyramid. It also tops the charts as the most expensive building ever constructed in this City-by-the-Bay “with little cable cars climbing halfway to the stars…”Salesforce, the enterprise giant, will pay close to $560 million over 15 years for the naming rights in this landmark  real estate transaction.

The 62-story, 1.4-million-square-foot building, includes access to the new Transbay Transit Center which will connect 8 Bay Area counties through 11 transit systems. The tower features 13-foot-high ceilings, 10-foot glass panels and metal sun shades at each floor to help regulate the building’s temperature and lighting. Builders are aiming for LEED Platinum certification with sustainable features that include high-efficiency air handlers for increased natural ventilation, under-floor air distribution, and a sophisticated water recycling system.   salesforce-and-its-billionaire-ceo-marc-benioff-are-riding-high-these-days-1

So far, the skyscraper is 70% leased; Salesforce has taken the bottom 30 and top two floors; Bain & Company and Accenture are other tenants. The estimated completion date is late 2017. The signature project was developed by Boston Properties and Hines and is being managed by Clark Construction; the architects are Pelli Clarke Pelli.


America’s Renaissance in Public Architecture

Public Safety Answering Center II, Bronx, New York. Photo: Albert Vecerka / Courtesy of SOM Architects

One of the keynote addresses at the AIA Conference in Orlando this week is  “Anticipate Need: Architecture that Matters,” which focuses on the renowned architects who are creating iconic buildings that shape and serve a given community. The topic of designing exemplary public buildings is also trending in Architectural Digest right now.

In urban settings, municipal buildings often fail to live up to the high-minded ideals of their related institutions. Though these structures may be dedicated to justice, education, sanitation, or public safety, their designs usually reflect budget constraints and bureaucratic compromise more often than they do civic virtue.

In recent years, however, top architects have taken on modest municipal projects in the metropolitan New York area to apply their considerable talents to everything from police and fire stations to neighborhood libraries, sanitation garages, and recycling plants.

In Long Island City, Queens, NY, Steven Holl’s Hunters Point Community Library is likely to become the waterfront’s third landmark when it opens this summer, joining the local Pepsi-Cola sign and ferry gantries in drawing public attention. In the South Bronx, Denmark’s Bjarke Ingels Group is designing NYPD’s 40th police precinct headquarters—the second outer-borough police station done by a big-name architect. The Chicago-based Studio Gang is designing a firehouse in Brownsville, Brooklyn, and a proposed 911 call center in the Bronx will be the work of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM).

Such projects, though scattered and few, suggest that civic architecture, largely neglected since the urban flight of the 1960s and ’70s, is having a renaissance. Architectural pundits suggest that public projects such as these are important because they communicate an imaginative aesthetic to a large audience, allowing architects to adhere to their Hippocratic oath to improve the built environment, and to bring synthesis and integration into what could be a haphazard or bland urban infrastructure. Civic commissions are invariably modest compared to those for a luxury, high-rise condo or a corporate headquarters, but the municipal sites have a unique appeal in that they offer architects an opportunity to reach the public-at-large in a different and significant way. Such projects make the subtle case that public institutions serving the community still matter.


Brazilian Museum of Tomorrow Wins Innovative Green Building Award

The Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, recently won the MIPIM award for “Best Innovative Green Building”. PHOTO: © Sérgio Huoliver 2015

The Rio de Janeiro Museum of Tomorrow, designed by architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava, recently won the MIPIM award for “Best Innovative Green Building”. The stunning structure was recognized for its sustainable building design and architecture, as well as its “commitment to creating a better future”.  Since the museum opened in 2015 for the Brazilian Olympics, it has become a symbol of urban recovery in the Puerto Maravilha neighborhood in Rio, providing the area with new infrastructure and transforming the neighborhood into an attractive destination.

The building’s innovative and sustainable features include solar panels that move with the sun to maximize energy absorption, the collection of reusable rainwater, and an air conditioning system that uses water funneled from Guanabara Bay. This water is filtered, cleaned and returned to the Bay through a small waterfall. Water conservation efforts alone have saved an estimated 9.6 million liters of water and 2,400 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity each year ­– enough to supply over 1,200 homes. It is the first museum in Brazil to receive LEED Gold certification.

Designed to be a place where science and technology meet art and culture, the Museum of Tomorrow attracted 1.4 million visitors in its first year of operation, far exceeding expectations.

MIPIM (Le Marché International des Professionnels de l’Immobilier) is an international real estate conference and exhibition in Cannes, France every March, bringing together real estate professionals, property investors, architects and other industry leaders. The award is part of an international competition that MIPIM sponsors.


Minimalist Architecture Celebrated in Stunning Photos

Patryk Kuleta's photograph of Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI museum was selected as one of the top photographs of minimalist architecture.

As we have noted in previous posts, architectural photography is an art.  Taking photographs of buildings is much more than point-and-click. Isolating a sunlit corner of a building, or the particular way a wall curves, or revealing its surprising geometries creates new ways of looking and appreciating the built environment.

EyeEm (a photography resource) and We And The Color (a design blog) sponsored a competition for photos that capture the beauty of minimalism in architecture. A week and 45,000 submissions later, 20 winners were selected, handpicked by German photographer Matthias Heiderich, including a shot of Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI museum in Italy, which won second place.


Spectacular Apple Campus Opening in April

Futuristic Apple campus in Cupertino, CA to open in April.

Apple has announced that its new “space ship” headquarters in Cupertino, California – Apple Park — will be ready for occupancy in mid-April. Designed by London’s Foster + Partners, the jaw-dropping corporate headquarters will one of the most energy-efficient buildings in the world with breakthrough, hi-tech interior design elements.

The campus’ ring-shaped, 2.8 million-square-foot main building is clad in the world’s largest panels of curved glass. It will run entirely on renewable energy, and boasts one of the largest on-site solar energy installations in the world.

The campus, which is set on 175 acres of manicured greenspace, will include a theater named for co-founder Steve Jobs and a visitor center with an Apple Store and cafe that will be open to the public. Envisioned by Steve Jobs as a center for creativity and collaboration, the project has transformed miles of asphalt sprawl into a haven of green space in the heart of the Santa Clara Valley.


Must-See Cities for Architecture Students

View of Chicago from Willis Tower. Photo: Andrew Horne

In addition to studio classes, lectures, art shows and actual work placements, every architecture student should take some time to travel. Domestic and foreign cities provide fantastic opportunities to experience architecture in a plethora of historical styles. No photographic image – still or video — can replace the impact, value and inspiration of experiencing great architecture in person. Architizer editors and students from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada compiled the following bucket list of cities that every architecture student should visit:

Chicago — The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 paved the way for the modern skyscraper in the early 20th Century with the introduction of structural steel, elevators, windows and even air conditioning. Chicago became North America’s preeminent city of architecture with the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 and the City Beautiful Movement, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie-style homes, and then Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Illinois Institute of Technology and other municipal structures, Frank Gehry’s Millennium Park, and the city’s famous skyscrapers including the Chicago Tribune Building, Willis Tower and Marina City apartments.

Havana — With Neoclassical and Baroque buildings lining streets filled with classic cars and minimal foreign investment for decades, Cubans maintained their vintage buildings in place rather than simply tearing them down. The result? An eclectic mix of 19th-century mansions and civic buildings, along with Art Deco residences and Corbusian apartment blocks. It’s an urban museum that may soon be lost to progress.

Barcelona – This port city has much to savor, including a wonderful portfolio of medieval buildings in the Barri Gòtic neighborhood as well as modern contemporary structures like the neighborhood of L’Eixample laid out in the late 19th century by planner Ildelfons Cerdà. You’ll also find the largest concentration of Modernista architecture in the world, by Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Josep Puig i Cadafalch. And then of course there is the incomparable Antoni Gaudi and his La Sagrada Família.

Toronto — This city of neighborhoods, each with a distinct character and the largest intact streetcar network in North America, is known for its downtown Art Deco masonry structures and the largest concentration of Victorian-era factories outside of England. This so-called Distillery District was recently restored and upgraded and is now a technology, design and shopping hub. In 1967, the Toronto Dominion Centre (Ludwig Mies van der Rohe) heralded the debut of Toronto on the global architectural stage. The city attracted numerous internationally-acclaimed architects such as Santiago Calatrava (Brookfield Place Galleria) I.M. Pei (Commerce Court), Fumihiko Maki (Aga Kahn Museum) and Daniel Libeskind.

Buffalo – Really?  You may be surprised to learn that Buffalo is home to many great examples of American architecture that are surprisingly well-preserved. The city plan itself was inspired by Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s 1791 plan for Washington with radiating boulevards and an extensive park system designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, famed for New York City’s peerless Central Park. Once the 15th largest city in the United States, Buffalo was also another favorite building site for Frank Lloyd Wright (Darwin D. Martin House, Fontana Boathouse, Blue Sky Mausoleum and Graycliff country estate).

Brasília — The “newest” city on this list was founded in 1960 and was laid out in the jungle like an airplane by Lúcio Costa. Many of the government and civic buildings were designed by famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. Examples of the wider Modernist movement include the Cathedral of Brasília, the National Congress Building, and the Museu Nacional (another Niemeyer). The Monumental Axis connects many of these landmarks through the entire city, representing the fuselage of the airplane in the layout by Costa which acts as a large public park and natural backdrop for the urban landscape