Prague Meander competition to reinvent Prague neighborhood

January 14, 2022 by  
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Urban planning is central for new or re-imagined areas that house and employ the population. Sometimes it’s a process that happens before a city even takes root. Other times, as in the case of Prague Meander, an area is given a second life. Prague has opened the doors for an international competitive dialogue, which is a design competition that incorporates a variety of professional planners. This includes landscape architects, architects or urban designers and  water  engineers creating a blueprint that meets the needs of all invested parties such as politicians, administrators and important local entities. Related: New riverside development in China will be an urban renewal   This competitive dialogue is focused on a 56-hectare piece of land located on the bank of the Prague Meander and site of a future, but now outdated, plan for Maniny Park. The districts of Karlín and Libe? suffered significant flood damage in 2002, changing the future of the then mostly working-class neighborhood. The area is targeted for continued growth to connect the business and residential builds of the past 20 years with other improvements in the region. The resulting design of this competition will embrace all these aspects of the area. “The aim of the project is to prepare a Rohan Island and Libe? Island Concept Plan, i.e. a strategic development plan for the next decades, and, most importantly, to draw up a detailed landscape study of the Maniny Park project, which will provide flood protection and bring people closer to the river,” explained Petr Hlavá?ek, the Deputy Mayor responsible for Territorial Planning. With a new plan in place, the development will happen gradually and remain somewhat flexible to changing needs as it comes together. The primary goal for the region is not only to provide a natural metropolitan park but to connect the region to the city and the river. Perhaps the premier goal, however, is to offer flood protection against inevitable future events.  “The competitive dialogue concerns a 56-hectare site alongside the Vltava River, the vast majority of which is not developable with buildings. The future handling of this area should respect the history of the site, build on its character, strengthen its identity and reflect the wildness of the local landscape,” said Petr Hlubu?ek, Deputy Mayor of Prague for the  Environment .  With an emphasis on the natural surroundings of the river and parkways, the development will mirror the community vibe of the future Vltava Philharmonic Hall on the opposite bank.  + IPR Praha Images via IPR Praha

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Prague Meander competition to reinvent Prague neighborhood

University under a hill in India has a green roof

January 12, 2022 by  
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India’s new Prestige University designed by Sanjay Puri Architects features a fully walkable angled green roof that is accessible to staff and students from the ground. The building may look like a Minecraft creation, but it’s a full university sliding seamlessly under the landscape beneath a rooftop composed of squares of green planted turf. How did Sanjay Puri Architects fit an entire university under a hill? 250,000 square feet of floor space was efficiently packed into one building on a 32-acre campus. Prestige University will use this building for administration offices, an auditorium, lecture halls and also include a library and cafeteria. Related: Green roof in Amsterdam leads an economic revenue model The plan was to create an alternative to the common imposing skyline of a university . The designers gradually elevated a building up into what amounts to a small hill on top of the building on the rear south side. Prestige University is only 20 meters tall and the green roof can function as an open auditorium. Traditional Indian architecture inspired the natural lighting for the courtyards and the north side of the building. It helps reduce energy costs and air conditioning in a climate that ranges from 86 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit eight months of the year. Inside, there is a diagonal indoor street that splits the building and opens to interior courtyards that feature natural ventilation. The design team for this unique project included Sanjay Puri, Ruchika Gupta, Suzanna Machado, Omkar Rane and Devendra Duggad. They are all part of the award-winning Sanjay Puri Architects group. Sanjay Puri have won renown from the LEAF Awards London Best Interior Architecture 2021, the World Architecture Festival’s Best Housing Project of the Year 2018 in Amsterdam and the World’s Best Residential Building in the LEAF Awards, London 2017, among a total of 270 national and international awards. + Sanjay Puri Architects Images via Sanjay Puri Architects

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Community center project allows people to play with triangles

January 5, 2022 by  
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The Center for Culture and Community, a research project by network of architecture (noa*), stands as a model for any community building anywhere in the world. Noa* worked with a philosophy that a community center should meet the needs of all members of the neighborhood. Dubbed CeCuCo: play your own way, the prototype project was not designed for a specific community, but rather an example of what’s possible anywhere. The design is modular in nature to accommodate a variety of needs.  Related: Public transport roof in China turns into a community space The architects at noa* began with the basic concept of a triangle . They then connected various sizes together. In this case, the smallest size could function as a ticket office, while the largest triangular section could serve as an auditorium or theater.  The idea is to allow the spaces to be whatever the citizens need rather than pre-designating a specific function. In this way, the size and number of triangles can be adapted to the needs of each community. Natural materials from, and suited to, the region are also addressed to allow for supplies that are available. It would also allow materials that function well in the specific environment where the structure is located.   Sustainable design is at the core of each building. As climate allows, a pergola over a large section provides natural shading. This could be used as a play area, meditation area or seating area for events.  Drawing on passive design , the doors and windows open in different directions from one side to the other to encourage cross-ventilation and natural cooling. The technique helps maintain a comfortable temperature while lowering energy consumption. Around the building, the landscape creates a microclimate forest of dense trees and other plants . Some roofs are equipped with gardens that further assist in natural cooling by shading the rooftop and interior. Rainwater collection feeds the rooftop gardens, as well as the ponds and other landscaping. Other roofs include solar panels that provide energy for the needs of the spaces. CeCuCo’s flexible, yet sustainable architecture allows for the building to react to climates that vary from desert to coast. While the “chess pieces” can be moved around for the right size and shape in the building as a whole, individual parts like doors and windows can be moved, raised, lowered or built in different sizes. In the end, the result of the research project CeCuCo is a modular space that can be used by children who want to play and adults who want to see play. “This cultural center could be located on a beach on a volcanic island, in the Scandinavian forests, on an abandoned lot in Detroit or on the roofs of socialist housing in Berlin ,” said noa*. “It is an architecture able to mold itself to the morphological and climatic requirements of the context while maintaining intact the concept of sociality and interaction between the building and those who live in it.” + noa* network of architecture Images via Omega Render

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Community center project allows people to play with triangles

Green roof in Amsterdam leads an economic revenue model

December 15, 2021 by  
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DELVA Landscape Architects in partnership with Bjarke Ingels Group have released the design of the new Terrace Tower Amsterdam. It’s a green roof , terrace-covered building that is just dripping in garden space from the top down. Designed by DELVA, it was featured in Het Financieele Dagblad, Holland’s leading business newspaper. In the Zuidas, a business district in Amsterdam that is under rapid construction, DELVA is taking the lead in making the roofs greener. Related: BIG unveils designs for LEED-certified skyscraper in NYC Terrace Tower Amsterdam aims to make green roofs an integral part of office building design, bringing green outdoor spaces to the office employees. This supports research that shows having access to green outdoor spaces significantly increases employee wellbeing and productivity. “[Green] planting is rapidly changing from a cost item to an economic revenue model,” DELVA said. The building of the Terrace Tower Amsterdam is actually quite simple. It looks as though you took a tower of blocks and slid the top ones over to make room for roof terraces. Glass-enclosed balconies contain dirt and tile substrate planted 3D potted trees, garden plantings and shrubs. Grasses and perennial plants create a green landscape along and between the tiles. Smaller currant trees in the center are framed by larger birch, cherry and pine trees. DEVLA is using development of the Zuidas as a means to densify and greenify the business district instead of pave it over. “Through integral collaboration, [each project] will be linked inseparably with buildings, technology , policy and financial viability,” Delva said. “We do this because we are convinced that only generous gestures from the landscape bring us closer to a living environment that we all dream of.” The team that designed Terrace Tower Amsterdam includes: Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) , DELVA Landscape Architecture, Inbo, SmitsRinsma and BrinkMostert De Winter. + DELVA Landscape Architects Images via Delva Landscape Architects

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Chinese cultural exchange hall combines politics and nature

December 9, 2021 by  
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aoe’s new Sino-Italian Cultural Exchange Hall in Chengdu, China , has been built in a bamboo forest to the east of the existing Sino-Italian Cultural Exchange Center. It combined Daoist ideas of natural harmony and European design aesthetic. It contains restaurants, meeting halls, piano pavilions and tea rooms, and fronts on a peaceful pond. The pond now features artificial lily pads for jumping across like a bridge. The design seamlessly blends from land to water, echoing the rounded shapes of lily pads from the building’s outdoor terrace pillars that have rounded cutouts at their tops.  Related: Belgium’s new timber community center centers modular design “The architectural form adopts a traditional wooden frame to carry out a modern translation and uses circular geometric elements,” aoe said. “The continuous cross-shaped arch column extends from the interior to the exterior, and a transparent glass curtain wall eliminates the boundary, naturally drawing the outdoor scenery into the interior.” The designers continue: “The outdoor continuous circular hollow corridor frame creates a varied and quiet light and shadow experience. The courtyard wall extends from the cultural corridor, passing through the bamboo forests, connecting the houses in series, resembling the freehand brushwork and relaxation of Chinese calligraphy . The opposite view window hole on the courtyard wall is shaped like a drop of water , symbolic of nature.” Because Daoism seeks to balance man and nature, the Daoist design of this building also reflects the belief that exterior scenery is an integral part of the design. Using light , sound, wind and scent, the new cultural hall aims to bring harmony to cultural relations in the same way it seeks to make its own design harmonious with the landscape. + aoe Images via aoe

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100-year-old railway yard turned into a green space

November 24, 2021 by  
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Parco Romana is an urban-scale redevelopment project in Milan ’s Porta Romana district. The international team behind it includes OUTCOMIST, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, PLP Architecture, Carlo Ratti Associati and Arup. They have just won a competition with its design, beating out 46 other teams representing nearly 330 studios. The Parco Romana design reinterprets a 100-year-old railway yard. It pulls together an urban space that was split by the railyard, reconnecting surrounding neighborhoods with a mixed-use district . Related: Forest Pavilion blends nature with residential development Parco Romana will revolve around a central Great Park, which creates an accessible and multifunctional green space for the neighborhood. The Suspended Forest, a linear elevated greenway to be built on existing railway infrastructure, will feature hundreds of trees overhanging walking paths. A wetland and woodland integrated with community gardens will run alongside the tracks at ground level. The selected team is collaborating with Gross.Max, Nigel Dunnett Studio and LAND for landscape design , Systematica for mobility, Studio Zoppini and Aecom for Olympics Advisory, Artelia on technical advisory and Portland Design for brand and story development. A consortium, including COIMA, Covivio and Prada Holding will develop the park. At the western edge, a mixed-use residential district will temporarily house athletes for the Milan 2026 Winter Olympics . After the Olympics, it will be adapted into a permanent multi-generational residential community. This area also houses a major public plaza with spaces for outdoor exercise, food trucks, co-working and public events. “Parco Romana brings the latest thinking about the 15-minute city to Milan, aiming to provide everything needed for daily life within a short walk from the district’s living and working environments,” said Carlo Ratti Associati. “A focus on pedestrians and cycling minimizes reliance on automobiles and activates new paths to and through the site, forming corridors integrated with new public plazas that act as natural gathering places at the intersection of major pedestrian routes.” Parco Romana will build its community around the values of decarbonization, climate adaption, resilient communities, health and wellbeing, circular economy and biodiversity. The design will make full use of low-carbon construction and renewable energy . + Carlo Ratti Associati Images via Carlo Ratti Associati

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Los Angeles art show features historic Barnsdall olive wood

November 16, 2021 by  
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The Barnsdall Art Park in East Hollywood, California has spent its pandemic years getting a makeover. The park is known for its art center and the site of Hollyhock House, designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. But central to this urban oasis is a historic 463-tree olive grove. And now an innovative olive-wood themed art exhibit and online auction is raising money to plant an additional forty trees. The Barnsdall Olive Wood Workshop Exhibition and Online Auction opened November 13 for in-person viewing at the contemporary art gallery Luis De Jesus Los Angeles . Twenty-one well known local LA artists, architects, designers and landscape artists have their work in the show. All the pieces feature Barnsdall olive wood from a recent pruning. The online auction closes December 4. Related: LA’s Barnsdall Art Park revives historic olive grove The show’s mission is to improve the air quality of East Hollywood — piggybacking on L.A.’s Green New Deal, a sweeping initiative that includes planting 90,000 new trees — and to further beautify the grounds. Canadian immigrant and real estate broker Joseph H. Spires originally planted a commercial olive grove here in the 1890s. In 1919, he sold the property to oil heiress, philanthropist and art lover Aline Barnsdall. She hired Frank Lloyd Wright to build Hollyhock House, which became L.A.’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Inhabitat talked to two artists participating in the Barnsdall Olive Wood Workshop Exhibition and Online Auction: Sevag Pakradouni of Sev’s Wood Crafts and Kasey Toomey of landscape architecture design firm TERREMOTO . Here’s what they had to say about turning wood from historic trees into new works of art. Inhabitat:  How did you get involved with the Barnsdall Olive Wood show? Sev:  My daughter Katherine was the horticulturist and project manager for the recent Olive Grove Initiative which was created in partnership with the Barnsdall Art Park Foundation, the Department of Recreation and Parks and the Los Angeles Parks Foundation. One of the aspects of this initiative involved a horticultural survey of the grove’s existing olive trees and the careful pruning of 400 trees. When I heard that they were going to be pruning the olive trees, I immediately recommended that the wood be saved and utilized, rather than chipped or discarded.  Olivewood is a valuable wood, and one of my philosophies as a wood worker is to salvage and create functional art out of wood that might otherwise go to waste . We worked with the contractors who pruned the trees so that all pieces of wood two inches in diameter or greater were saved and safely stored to be made into future art that would benefit the Barnsdall Art Park Foundation’s goal to restore the grove . Even though some of the wood was still “green” and not yet workable, there were enough dried pieces to initiate this art project mere months after the grove was pruned. After the remainder of the wood cures, we will have even more to work with in years to come. Inhabitat: Tell us about the pieces you made for the show. Sev:  In my woodworking, I like to combine form with function, art with utility. When I thought of the era when this grove of olive trees became the foundation for the landscape of the Hollyhock House, I wanted my piece to harken back to that period of time in history, so I decided to use my piece of olivewood to make bases for lamps utilizing (now modern LED versions) Edison light bulbs. I let each piece of wood guide my hand to create what it would eventually become, so each lamp base has a different shape and feel from the other. Since Sev’s Wood Crafts is a family affair, my daughter utilized her selected piece of olivewood to create a pyrographic drawing entitled Sentinel . She cut and arranged the wood to form her canvas and then burned her designs into the wood freehand.  She never knows what her designs will be in advance, but allows the wood and her instincts to guide the process.  Olivewood is easy to burn and provides a good contrast, as it is light in color and relatively uniformly textured. Toomey: We selected the most gnarly piece of olive wood we could find, and our creative process started from there. We riffed on the hollyhock/spine motif found throughout the Hollyhock House, specifically the Hollyhock House chairs. We repositioned the olive wood branch as the spine for our stool seat as a direct reference to the olive grove. Also, we utilized wood offcuts from the detritus of our creative practice, highlighted by the red painted board end of the fir that was slapped on at the milling yard. As environmentally-conscious designers and artists, we work hard to use everything with love and care and often are most inspired by what’s left behind. We aim to create environments and objects that are aesthetically, ecologically and metaphysically provocative and productive. Inhabitat:  Have you worked with olive wood before? How is it different from other woods? Sev:  I’ve worked with olivewood before and have always liked its character in finished products. I’ve made vases, bottle stoppers, pens, belaying pins, hair forks and other items, and it never ceases to amaze me. It takes a natural high luster and is highly prized for its dense, intricate grain pattern when the wood is particularly old.  Fun fact: our cats seem to react to the smell of the wood as they do to catnip. If I have shavings on my shoes or olivewood in the house, it isn’t long before they’ve taken notice.  It’s not always easy to find large pieces of olivewood, so I often try to use whatever I can find from trimmings and cast-offs that are considered “leftovers” from other wood workers or carpenters. I can’t abide waste, so I will work with pieces small enough to make a simple hair stick or wooden pendant that my daughter burns with a design in order to maximize its use. Our backyard is a testament to my inability to see wood go to waste, as we have piles of wood we’ve salvaged from the neighborhood, whether it’s a 60-year-old apricot tree the neighbor just cut down, or chunks of miscellaneous wood I’ve intercepted on its way to the chipper. Toomey:  We hadn’t worked with olive wood as a material before, but we have planted many olive trees in our landscape practice. We chose to not manipulate or mill the olive branch into wood. Instead, to honor its natural form, we kept it as is.  Inhabitat:  How do you feel about the Barnsdall olive trees? Sev:  The most exciting olive trees in the grove are the oldest trees. There are 46 of the 463 trees in the grove which are 130 years old and original to the grove prior to the Hollyhock House being built. The wood that comes from the gnarled branches or stumps of one of those older trees has some of the most unique and beautiful character inside. To see a stump remaining from one of those older trees and to know that its demise years ago was treated like the demise of any other dead city tree — meaning it was chipped into mulch and processed as green waste — causes me physical pain to think about.   Toomey:  While they are a remnant of a more agrarian past, nonetheless they remain and persist — offering habitat , shade and food for birds, insects and humans. The integration of the existing olive grove into the Barnsdall landscape design by Frank Lloyd Wright is analogous to our entire design ethos where landscapes are curated amalgamations of place — the past, present and future. Images via Sevag Pakradouni and Kasey Toomey

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Home in Mexico is hidden in the forest

November 4, 2021 by  
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In the forests of Morelia, Mexico , HW Studio’s The Hill in Front of the Glen nestles among the natural environment it is placed in. A stretch of the landscape is lifted to form a long, gently sloping hill, which are supported by two concrete walls. Two more walls cut through this hill to carve out the path leading guests into the house. From the point of entry into the project, the visitor is cast into a state of solitude and contemplation.  While the path is wide enough for an individual to walk comfortably, it remains narrow enough to limit accompaniment. A large tree cuts through the center of the entry path , thus compelling a slight change in direction and creating a threshold between the exterior and the pearled stone steps leading to the dwelling’s steel entry door. Related: Akersbakken Bicycle Hotel design blends into the landscape Upon entry, the concrete vault supporting the blanket of landscape above creates a dark, cozy cave-like condition, while the interior spatial arrangement guides interactions among inhabitants. To the left of the house, the public areas maximize views and promote extroversion, as the spaces open up towards the lush forest ravine. Conversely, the private spaces are more introverted and self-reflective, with openings to provide natural light from the courtyard and slivered views of the forest canopy and sky. The client requested maintaining an aesthetic that is reminiscent of the unrefined beauty of the nearby mountains. It’s achieved by limiting the types of materials used. Concrete is the primary material. It is used to form the structure of the home and mimics the site’s undulating topography. Wood is used for the flooring and furniture to harness a warmth that balances out the concrete and disperses a fresh piney scent. The classy steel details further enhance the project and, like the surroundings, their texture evolves through exposure to the elements. Through the minimalist design and innovative landscaping, the dwelling elegantly blends into the site and becomes part of the surrounding environment , creating a blur between manmade structures and nature. +HW Studio Photography by Cesar Bejar and Dane Alonso

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Home in Mexico is hidden in the forest

Renzo Piano-inspired Skyhouse nestles into Hollywood Hills

September 16, 2021 by  
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Inspired by Renzo Piano’s Fondation Beyeler museum in Switzerland, Skyhouse by XTEN Architecture is a multi-award-winning home in the Hollywood Hills. The 12,000-square-foot house consists of five bedrooms and seven bathrooms with amenities including an infinity pool, home gym, theater and eight-car garage. Located on a cul-de-sac in the Bird Streets of Los Angeles , the site has a 15-foot difference in elevation. The house is nestled into the hillside, maximizing the thermal qualities of the earth. The property also incorporates endemic drought-resistant plants, which are irrigated via stormwater collection tanks. Related : Luxury timber home mimics a rocky outcropping for minimal site impact The project’s walls juxtapose with the seemingly weightless grid of truncated skylights that float above. This concept stems from the Beyeler Museum, which adopts a full ceiling of skylights to filter sunlight into the galleries. Skyhouse’s ceiling grid is inspired by the urban fabric of L.A. and produces a soft, diffused quality of light that floods the interiors. The skylights are tinted and contain a diffuse PVC membrane to reduce solar intake, keeping the temperatures comfortable while minimizing artificial daylighting. Four solid volumes form the private bedroom suites, while the area between them creates the shared living spaces, including the kitchen, dining and family area. This living area extends from the center of the house and opens fully to a terrace and infinity pool overlooking the landscape. Passive cooling and cross ventilation are optimized through the floor-to-ceiling glass pocket doors that slide away. These create a blur between the interiors and exteriors, which is reinforced through the white terrazzo that spans from the indoors to the terrace. Due to the combination of an elegant minimalist aesthetic and passive design, XTEN has been awarded several awards for this luxurious project. These awards include the Residential Awards’ “Large Single Family Merit Winner,” an American Architecture Award (AAA) by Chicago Athenaeum, and the “Design Awards Residential Merit,” by the American Institute of Architects’ L.A. chapter. + XTEN Architecture Photography by Steve King

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Renzo Piano-inspired Skyhouse nestles into Hollywood Hills

Explore Minetta Lane, a green townhouse with a climbing wall

September 16, 2021 by  
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Kushner Studios has completed a major renovation of a century-old townhouse in Minetta Lane, Greenwich Village. Glorious expansive living spaces look out onto New York’s skyline through a woven steel and foliage facade. The towering home even has its own  climbing wall! With over 4,800 square feet of interior space and 1,200 square feet of outdoor and roof space, this extensive home at Minetta Lane in Manhattan offers five bedrooms, multiple living spaces, four bathrooms, a jacuzzi, and a gym. Its 83-foot tall rock climbing wall is the tallest east of Reno, Nevada. Related: Extraordinary treehouse is a climber’s dream with its own indoor climbing wall Kushner Studios took on the $2.7 million renovation intending to leave the historical shell intact and create a new interior and vertical extension. The original streetscape was preserved. “The crossing tree limbs forming Gothic archways fronting the Minetta Street, inspired the defining narrative structure played out in the building’s newly inserted facade. The playful steel facade is covered in Ivy adding a green wall terminus to the street as an homage to the past and a vision of public good will,” a project statement explains. Interior designer Robert Isabell previously owned the townhouse and created as much streetside greenery as possible, lending the building its name as the Salad House. Evoking rural landscapes, the huge stacked chord woodpile in the triple-height living room has been harvested by hand from the owner’s property upstate and can keep the inhabitants warm via a total of nine woodburning fireplaces. This alternative heat source is in addition to the incorporation of solar panels.  Natural finishes and materials are abundant throughout the five-story home, from the floorings in wood and rope to the rustic stairs and built-in storage in naturally varied timbers . The home’s smaller service areas work to serve the adjacent larger served spaces. The bedrooms, for example, have secondary work or office spaces alongside them. A mid-level convertible open space demarcates the original home from the additional floors added.  The roof features cooking and entertaining space plus thrilling views of the city. The rock climbing wall is situated in the rear courtyard and provides a surreal urban sports experience.  Construction took a total of seven years, from May 2012 to January 2020. + Kushner Studios Images via Kushner Studios

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