Redesigning New York’s Waterfronts

Hurricane Sandy's Damage in Dumbo Brooklyn

Hurricane Sandy’s Damage in Dumbo Brooklyn

Sandy, storm of the century, reeked havoc on 1/3 of  the US over the past few days and devastated many east coast cities, namely New York.

Many sections of the Manhattan waterfront were flooded.  The west side to Hudson Street, parts of the Lower East Side, Dumbo, Red Hook, Queens and Long Island City were submerged in water.  One wonders, could this have been prevented?

Over two years ago, MoMA and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center created The Rising Currents exhibit.  The exhibit showcased five projects that addressed the concern for climate change over the next five years and how it will drastically effect Manhattan’s waterfront.

The harbor was divided into five areas and given to five teams (composed of members of n Architects-in-residence program at P.S.1).  Their goal, according to the Rising Currents project, was to “re-envision the coastlines of New York, and New Jersey around the New York harbor and to imagine new ways to occupy the harbor with adaptive soft infrastructures that are sympathetic to the needs of a sound ecology”.

The Rising Currents exhibition ran from March 24, 2010 to October 11, 2010.  Its unfortunate that a natural disater like Sandy had to happen before New York opened it’s eyes to the inevitable destruction.

The harbor divided into 5 zones

The harbor divided into 5 zones

Potential plan for zone 0 to stop sewage overflow and block higher sea levels

Potential plan for zone 0 to stop sewage overflow and block higher sea levels

nArchitects, Zone 3: An archipelago of man-made islands lines the coast of Staten Island and Brooklyn. These islands not only filter the storm waves, but will be programmed with specific functions to accommodate the expected spike in the population.

What’s New In Architecture: Architectural Achievements

A recent edition of the Guinness Book of World Records listed what it determined were the five greatest architectural achievements of the past few years.  I suppose these would be up for debate but it is clear that their list isn’t based on design elements, but rather on things which have been done in a new, different, or bigger way.  Their list in reverse order includes:

5.         The Biggest Swimming Pool Ever Built -  The pool was completed in late 2006 and is located in Algarrobo, Chile.  It is 3,324 feet long and covers an area of 19.77 acres, or approximately the same area as 18 football fields.

4.         The World’s Largest Offshore Gas Platform – Off the coast of Norway, the Troll Offshore Gas Platform weighs 656,000 tons and stands 1210 feet tall.  It is the heaviest man made mobile object ever made and used enough steel to create fifteen Eiffel Towers.

3.         The Heaviest Building to be Relocated While Still Fully Intact – In 2004, the Fu Gang Building in China was relocated in one piece.  What made this so remarkable was that the building was 111 feet tall and weighed over 33 million pounds.  The building was moved 114 feet in just 11 days.

2.         The Largest Self Supporting Igloo – In 2005, 29 employees of the Hydro-Quebec LG-3 power station built an igloo with an internal diameter of just over 24 feet and an internal height of 12’-6”.

1.         Largest Solar Energy Roof – At an areas of 281,045 sf, or almost 6.5 acres, the roof on the Floriade Expo Hall in the Netherlands can generate 2.3 MW of energy.

What’s New In Architecture: NASCAR Museum Opens in Charlotte

The racing world is buzzing now that the NASCAR Hall of Fame has opened here in Charlotte.  But the architectural world has reason to be buzzing too.  The building was designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners who have designed many landmark projects around the world.  Charlotte and it’s new Hall of Fame can be added to that list which includes The Grande Louvre in Paris, The Bank of China Building in Hong Kong, The US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC,   The Allied Bank Tower in Dallas and The John Hancock Tower in Boston.

The project includes a 175,000 sf museum, 100,000 sf ballroom, 427,000 sf office tower and 1,000 space parking garage and the entire project took over 4 years from original planning to the opening last week. 

The architects have stated that the “sought to capture the essential spirit of NASCAR and its sport in architectural form.”  The catch phrase that they used to describe that spirit is “the speed and spectacle of the sport.”  Architecturally they took inspiration from the curving, sloped forms of the racetrack which they felt tangibly represented the dynamic nature and inherent speed of the sport.  Architecturally, this became apparent most obviously in the large sweeping element on the exterior of the building call The Ribbon.  The ribbon twists as a free form canopy to welcome the guests and then wraps the building exterior. 

Whether or not you are a fan of NASCAR, Charlotte’s presence in the architectural world has definitely taken a step forward with the new building.  

Nascar 1Nascar 2

R IV Projects: Gateway Building- Shoppes at University

R IV Projects: Carolina Ingredients

Carolina Ingredients has settled into their new facility in Rock Hill, SC. They are the first industrial solar panel system in York County and are the largest, privately owned solar panel system in South Carolina and one of the largest in North Carolina. CI is the first seasoning company in the country to use solar energy for production

R4 was challenged with developing an existing production plant into a LEED Certified facility for Carolina Ingredients.

Their water supply is heated by solar energy and they have 88% less water usage than a conventional wash down process.

 By utilizing energy efficient light fixtures, timers and motion detectors on lights we were able to significantly reduce electrical power usage.

 R4 incorporated 38 solar tubes and large windows throughout the office and warehouse for natural light.

Hospitality: 2009 Building Code Changes Affecting Hotel Projects

Throughout North Carolina, different jurisdictions have been transitioning from the 2006 to the 2009 edition of the state Building Code.  As of January 1, 2010, the 2009 North Carolina Building Code will be mandatory throughout the state.  There are some critical changes in the new code that will have an impact on all hotel projects throughout the state.  Below is a list of some of the most critical changes but is not a comprehensive list:

1).  For very large high-rise hotels (over 420’) some construction type reductions have been eliminated which means fire ratings will be more stringent in the new code.

2).  Fire walls may now be achieved more easily.  In the past, the easiest way to achieve a true fire wall (separating a building into 2 separate buildings for code purposes) was with the use of a masonry wall.  Now rated gypsum board walls can more easily be used.

3).  The maximum permitted size of an opening in a fire barrier wall has been increased from 120 sf to 156 sf.

4).  The minimum ceiling height along a means of egress has been increased from 7’-0” to 7’-6”.

5).  The single biggest change affecting all building types, including hotels, would be the accessibility code.  North Carolina is doing away with the currently used “North Carolina Accessibility Code” and is adopting Chapter 11, “Accessibility”, Section 3409, “Accessibility for Existing Buildings” and Appendix E, “Supplementary Accessibility Requirements”, all from the International Building Code.  In addition, North Carolina will be requiring that buildings comply with the accessibility requirements of ICC/ANSI A117.1.  When the ANSI requirements vary from the Building Code requirements it will be the architect’s responsibility to design to the most stringent requirement.

6).  A specific new accessibility requirement which will potentially have a large affect on new hotels is in regard to areas of rescue assistance.  With few exceptions, the new code requires these for all buildings even if they are sprinklered.  This will require that stairwells increase in size to accommodate the area of rescue (4’-0”x5’-0”) at each landing.  In addition, there will be other requirements such as a remote call button, etc. at each area of rescue assistance to allow individuals to notify emergency personnel that they are still within the building.

7).  New accessibility requirements will also require that in hotels over 4 stories one elevator be designated a a path of egress which will require that it have a back up power source in the event that the building loses full power.  In many cases this may require a back-up generator.

Please contact R4 Architecture for more information on these and other revisions to the code which are mandatory beginning January 1, 2010.

What’s New In Architecture: Yas Hotel


Yas Marine  Hotel

For you Formula One enthusiasts, Sebastian Vettel took first at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. What’s more existing is the Yas Marine Hotel. The 500 room hotel is an integral part of the track design. The hotel is covered in a veil of diamond glass panel which reflect colorful light.  Another exciting part of the track is Ferrari World which is adjacent to turn seven. The theme park has the appearance of an alien craft.  Very interesting architecture.


Ferrari World Theme Park at Abu Dhabi

What’s New In Architecture: Wendy’s New Image

After years of holding  on to the original image Wendy’s has a new upscale renovation design.  Wendy’s has incorporated two basic concepts into the exterior design: The Tower & The Curve.  Both designs have replaced the bronze mansard with scored EIFS panels and have included stacked stone into the column elements.  The wall sconce have also been  artistically upgraded.  A much classier design.

 Wendy's CurveWendy's Tower