Studio Gangs Solstice tower in Chicago is shaped by the sun

September 17, 2019 by  
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In Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood rises Solstice on the Park, a 26-story residential tower with an angular design that has been shaped by solar studies. Created by local architectural practice Studio Gang Architects , the 250-unit modern building is highly site-specific to minimize energy demands — a sustainable approach that earned the project two Green Globes in the Green Globes Certification ranking. The apartment complex is also topped with a green roof and optimized for expansive views of Jackson Park to the south and Chicago’s skyline to the north. Completed in 2018, Solstice on the Park catches the eye with the angled cuts in its facade that were created in response to optimum sun angles in Chicago’s latitude — 72 degrees in summer and 42 degrees in winter. The inward incline helps mitigate unwanted solar gain in summer, while maximizing solar advantage from the low sun in winter time. This approach allows natural light to fill the building — thus reducing reliance on artificial lighting — without straining the heating and cooling systems. Related: Studio Gang to “sustainably grow” Toronto with this energy-efficient tower Tilting the facade inward also created opportunities for landscaped terraces , where residents can enjoy indoor-outdoor living and city views. The sloped, floor-to-ceiling expanses of glass also play a trick on the eye and make the treetops of the nearby park look closer and larger. The non-glazed portions of the residential building are clad in Rieder non-combustible, glass fiber-reinforced concrete panels, measuring 13 millimeters thick each. The selected textured concrete panels are of a variety of colors, from liquid black to beige, as a sensitive nod to the district’s existing architecture characterized by sandstone and brick tones. The angled design gives the 250-foot tower a decidedly modern edge without looking out of place with the city’s boxy high-rises. + Studio Gang Images via Rieder

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Studio Gangs Solstice tower in Chicago is shaped by the sun

Three visions unveiled for the future of La Brea Tar Pits

September 3, 2019 by  
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The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC) has unveiled three preliminary masterplan concepts for the world-famous La Brea Tar Pits — the only consistently active and urban Ice Age excavation site in the world. Copenhagen-based Dorte Mandrup , New York-based Diller Scofidio + Renfro and New York-based WEISS/MANFREDI were selected as the finalist teams in the NHMLAC-hosted “ideas incubator” in June 2019 and have presented their visions at the museum at the La Brea Tar Pits for public viewing through September 15. All three designs emphasize improving community access to the 12-acre site in addition to the creation of sustainable infrastructure and careful site preservation. Because NHMLAC is in a public/private partnership with the County of Los Angeles , all masterplan visions will emphasize the integration of the county-owned, 23-acre Hancock Park with the 12-acre La Brea Tar Pits site. Although the integration of green space with the museum collections is integral to all three proposals, each campus vision is distinct. Dorte Mandrup suggests interweaving the park, the tar pits and a lush landscape of prehistoric plants and trees as well as a Pleistocene solar pixel mural to emphasize the world’s most recent period of repeated glaciations. Related: $87M wildlife bridge in California will be a haven for mountain lions On the other hand, Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s “light touch” focuses more on museum activities and will feature a publicly accessible dig site supported by a mobile “digital rig” that can anticipate current and future digs in the park, a new light-filled lobby and an “Archive Block” that allows visitors to peer inside the Research Lab. WEISS/MANFREDI’s proposal is centered on the design of a triple mobius pedestrian pathway to connect the La Brea Tar Pits with Hancock Park, which will be surrounded by enhanced amenities. The three proposals are currently on view at the La Brea Tar Pits museum through September 15 as well as on its website . The public is encouraged to provide feedback onsite or online. In addition to public feedback, NHMLAC will consider input from a jury that it has assembled to help the selection of the one firm that will lead the masterplanning effort. + La Brea Tar Pits Images via Dorte Mandrup, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and WEISS/MANFREDI

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Three visions unveiled for the future of La Brea Tar Pits

Three visions unveiled for the future of La Brea Tar Pits

September 3, 2019 by  
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The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC) has unveiled three preliminary masterplan concepts for the world-famous La Brea Tar Pits — the only consistently active and urban Ice Age excavation site in the world. Copenhagen-based Dorte Mandrup , New York-based Diller Scofidio + Renfro and New York-based WEISS/MANFREDI were selected as the finalist teams in the NHMLAC-hosted “ideas incubator” in June 2019 and have presented their visions at the museum at the La Brea Tar Pits for public viewing through September 15. All three designs emphasize improving community access to the 12-acre site in addition to the creation of sustainable infrastructure and careful site preservation. Because NHMLAC is in a public/private partnership with the County of Los Angeles , all masterplan visions will emphasize the integration of the county-owned, 23-acre Hancock Park with the 12-acre La Brea Tar Pits site. Although the integration of green space with the museum collections is integral to all three proposals, each campus vision is distinct. Dorte Mandrup suggests interweaving the park, the tar pits and a lush landscape of prehistoric plants and trees as well as a Pleistocene solar pixel mural to emphasize the world’s most recent period of repeated glaciations. Related: $87M wildlife bridge in California will be a haven for mountain lions On the other hand, Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s “light touch” focuses more on museum activities and will feature a publicly accessible dig site supported by a mobile “digital rig” that can anticipate current and future digs in the park, a new light-filled lobby and an “Archive Block” that allows visitors to peer inside the Research Lab. WEISS/MANFREDI’s proposal is centered on the design of a triple mobius pedestrian pathway to connect the La Brea Tar Pits with Hancock Park, which will be surrounded by enhanced amenities. The three proposals are currently on view at the La Brea Tar Pits museum through September 15 as well as on its website . The public is encouraged to provide feedback onsite or online. In addition to public feedback, NHMLAC will consider input from a jury that it has assembled to help the selection of the one firm that will lead the masterplanning effort. + La Brea Tar Pits Images via Dorte Mandrup, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and WEISS/MANFREDI

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Three visions unveiled for the future of La Brea Tar Pits

Three visions unveiled for the future of La Brea Tar Pits

September 3, 2019 by  
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The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC) has unveiled three preliminary masterplan concepts for the world-famous La Brea Tar Pits — the only consistently active and urban Ice Age excavation site in the world. Copenhagen-based Dorte Mandrup , New York-based Diller Scofidio + Renfro and New York-based WEISS/MANFREDI were selected as the finalist teams in the NHMLAC-hosted “ideas incubator” in June 2019 and have presented their visions at the museum at the La Brea Tar Pits for public viewing through September 15. All three designs emphasize improving community access to the 12-acre site in addition to the creation of sustainable infrastructure and careful site preservation. Because NHMLAC is in a public/private partnership with the County of Los Angeles , all masterplan visions will emphasize the integration of the county-owned, 23-acre Hancock Park with the 12-acre La Brea Tar Pits site. Although the integration of green space with the museum collections is integral to all three proposals, each campus vision is distinct. Dorte Mandrup suggests interweaving the park, the tar pits and a lush landscape of prehistoric plants and trees as well as a Pleistocene solar pixel mural to emphasize the world’s most recent period of repeated glaciations. Related: $87M wildlife bridge in California will be a haven for mountain lions On the other hand, Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s “light touch” focuses more on museum activities and will feature a publicly accessible dig site supported by a mobile “digital rig” that can anticipate current and future digs in the park, a new light-filled lobby and an “Archive Block” that allows visitors to peer inside the Research Lab. WEISS/MANFREDI’s proposal is centered on the design of a triple mobius pedestrian pathway to connect the La Brea Tar Pits with Hancock Park, which will be surrounded by enhanced amenities. The three proposals are currently on view at the La Brea Tar Pits museum through September 15 as well as on its website . The public is encouraged to provide feedback onsite or online. In addition to public feedback, NHMLAC will consider input from a jury that it has assembled to help the selection of the one firm that will lead the masterplanning effort. + La Brea Tar Pits Images via Dorte Mandrup, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and WEISS/MANFREDI

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Three visions unveiled for the future of La Brea Tar Pits

Largest nature reserve in Niger threatened by oil development

August 5, 2019 by  
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One of the largest nature reserves on continental Africa may soon be destroyed by the China National Petroleum Corporation in the name of oil exploration and economic development. Just seven years after its establishment, and only months after finally becoming operationally managed, Termit and Tin Toumma National Nature Reserve could be reduced in size by half. The Niger government announced plans to remove over 17,000 square miles from what was originally a 38,600-square-mile park. The park is known for containing part of the Sahara desert and low mountain ranges. The specific area of the park that will be converted into oil operations is the most important section in terms of threatened biodiversity. It is home to the critically endangered addax (a type of antelope) and the dama gazelle. There are only an estimated 100 addax remaining, but they continue to be hunted for their meat. Now, the oil development project could shrink their habitat and decimate the addax’s main source of water. The China National Petroleum Corporation is one of the largest oil companies in the world. In exchange for a much-needed $5 billion investment in Niger, the Chinese have exploration rights and permission to build a pipeline that carries 20,000 barrels of oil out of the country every day. Paradoxically, China will be hosting the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity in 2020, yet government officials and oil executives seem unbothered by this localized biodiversity issue in the Sahara. The government has proposed to add land to the park along a different border. According to Sébastien Pinchon, a member of the nonprofit that manages the park on behalf of the Niger government, that new area “has little ecological value.” Via Mongabay Image via Shankar S.

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Largest nature reserve in Niger threatened by oil development

Architects to transform two old railway yards into eco parks in Milan

May 14, 2019 by  
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OMA and Milan-based Laboratorio Permanente have won a competition to transform two abandoned railway yards in Milan into eco parks that will act as “ecological filters” for the car-centric city. Titled Agenti Climatici (Climatic Agents), the master plan would use the natural, air-purifying power of plants and the filtering capabilities of water to clean and cool the environment while adding new recreational spaces for the public. The project is part of a larger effort to redevelop disused post-industrial areas around the periphery of the city. The Agenti Climatici master plan addresses two railway yards: the 468,301-square-meter Scalo Farini on the north side of Milan and the 140,199-square-meter Scalo San Cristoforo on the south side of the city. The designers have designated Scalo Farini as the “green zone” that will consist of a large park capable of cooling the hot winds from the southwest and reducing air pollution . Scalo San Cristoforo has been dubbed the “blue zone” after the designers’ plan to turn the railway yard into a linear waterway that will naturally purify runoff and create cooling microclimates. “In a moment of dramatic environmental transformation and permanent economic uncertainty, our priorities have changed,” said OMA partner Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli. “The most valuable currency is no longer ‘brick’ — the built — but rather the climatic conditions that cities will be able to provide and ensure for their citizens. The city of the 20th century, with its high energy consumption , must be overcome by reconsidering the principles that have marked urban development since the classical era.” Related: CRA grows a sustainable pavilion out of mushrooms in just 6 weeks For adaptability, only the public elements of the Farini park will be fixed — including the waterways, greenery and bridges — while the location of the buildings and their programming will be contingent on the city’s future economic development. The master plan also calls for Milan’s longest expressway bicycle lane alongside a new tram line and metro stations. + OMA + Laboratorio Permanente Images via OMA and Laboratorio Permanente

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Architects to transform two old railway yards into eco parks in Milan

NYCs new eco-park and urban beach is designed to help clean the waterfront

May 3, 2019 by  
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New York City has just welcomed yet another gem to its growing number of waterfront parks — Pier 35, the long-awaited East River Waterfront project designed by Manhattan-based firm SHoP Architects in partnership with Ken Smith Workshop. Built to anchor the north side of the East River esplanade, Pier 35 consists of a new eco-park that not only offers a passive recreational space for the local community but also an innovative habitat restoration section, called Mussel Beach, that will encourage the growth of water-filtering mussels. The park also features a massive folded wall of mesh metal that will be covered in climbing vines to create a “green” billboard visible from afar. Opened this month, the 28,000-square-foot park stretches two miles along the waterfront between the Battery Maritime Building and Montgomery Street in the Lower East Side. Created in collaboration with the local community, Pier 35 revitalizes an often-overlooked section of the East River esplanade with a landscaped lawn and dunes; a raised porch with custom swings overlooking the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges; and an inclined, folded green screen that rises to 35 feet in height and over 300 feet in length and will be overlaid with vines. Built of metal and weathered steel wall panels as a nod to the East River’s industrial history, the screen wall was installed to hide views of the adjacent Sanitation Department shed at Pier 36. Thanks to a grant from the New York Department of State’s Division of Coastal Resources, Pier 35 also features Mussel Beach, an ecological prototype that mimics the historic East River shoreline and creates an inclined space that not only offers visitors a close look at the daily rising and falling of the tides but also a specially designed habitat for mussels , which naturally filter and clean the water. Related: The humble mussel is as important and threatened as bees “As we work toward finalizing community-led resiliency plans along the East River, I am thrilled to see active open space come online at Pier 35,” said councilwoman Carlina Rivera. “Along with ecological projects, this section of the waterfront is a much-needed amenity what will someday be part of a continuous and protective esplanade along Manhattan’s East Side. We’ll be improving our coastline in the years ahead and much of it will be inaccessible during renovation, so the community needs as much alternative open space as it can get. I thank my colleagues in government that championed this project.” + SHoP Architects Images via SHoP Architects

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NYCs new eco-park and urban beach is designed to help clean the waterfront

National Parks are offering free entry on April 20 to celebrate National Park Week

April 19, 2019 by  
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Take advantage of the warmer weather by visiting any number of the hundreds of national parks across the country on April 20 for absolutely free. The National Parks Service is celebrating National Park Week by offering free entry into all of the 418 parks spread throughout the United States. If you have never been to a national park or if it has been a while since your last visit, you may be surprised to learn about all the fun and excitement that awaits you. Here is a quick guide on some of the most popular national parks in the country and how you can spend your time in the great outdoors. Yellowstone Yellowstone National Park is the oldest and one of the most famous parks in the U.S. The park is known for its abundant wildlife , hot springs and exploding geysers. Given its enormous size, there are plenty of things to do at Yellowstone for children and adults alike. Related: An adventurer just journeyed into America’s largest national park — here’s what he found Located mostly in Wyoming, the park boasts 12 campgrounds with tent and RV access, plus 300 isolated campsites. There are nearly 1,000 miles of hiking trails that offer plenty of photo opportunities. You can also bike at the park and enjoy some kayaking on one if its many lakes. If you plan on bringing your family along for the ride, the park offers specialized programs for children as well as horseback riding. Yosemite Established in 1890, Yosemite National Park  attracts many visitors for its beautiful waterfalls. But the 1,200-square-mile park also features vast meadows, large sequoias and a grand wilderness section. While sightseeing is the main attraction, there are plenty of things to keep your entire family busy. Common activities at California’s Yosemite National Park include biking, wildlife watching, camping , fishing, horseback riding and water activities. Before booking your trip to Yosemite, check with the park for any closures due to inclement weather. Glacier Point Road, for example, is often closed until May because of excess snowfall. Great Smoky Mountains The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most-visited park in the country. According to DK , the Smoky Mountains record more than double the number of tourists every year than any other location. While this is a popular destination, there are ways to avoid the large crowds. Skip out on the popular scenic highway and opt for one of the many side trails. The ancient mountain range features one of Earth’s most widespread deciduous forests and boasts a wide diversity of life. This includes a large selection of wildflowers and black bears . When it comes to activities, visitors can enjoy camping, hiking, wildlife watching, fishing and scenic driving. Acadia If you are looking for a good coastal drive, then Acadia National Park is right up your alley. Acadia National Park is the only one of its kind in Maine and features some dramatic views of the Atlantic coastline. You can also hike some trails on Cadillac Mountain, kayak in the ocean or partake in some amazing whale watching from just outside of Bar Harbor. Related: Get ready for an adventure with this ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials A good strategy to see most of Acadia is to navigate the Park Loop Road, either by bike or motor vehicle. The 27-mile road has an array of different viewing points. One of the more popular stops is Otter Cliff, which overlooks a 110-foot drop. The park, of course, also features plenty of other things to do, such as camping, climbing, geocaching, fishing , swimming and bird watching. Tips for visiting a national park Once you decide to visit a park , it is always a good idea to call or stop by the visitor center and check in. Park rangers are valuable sources of information and can tell you what type of activities are available during the time of your visit. They can also tell you if there are any construction projects going on or special events that might make navigating through the park difficult. Speaking of the visitor center, it contains everything you need to know about the park, including typical rates and interesting places to visit. You can also find guided tours, which are a great way to get introduced to the history of the park and learn why it is significant to the region. Free admittance on April 20 In honor of National Park Week, the National Parks Service is offering free admittance to all parks in the United States on April 20. That day coincides with National Junior Ranger Day, which is geared toward children, making the free offer perfect for families. According to Matador Network , there are other themes throughout the rest of week, including Military and Veterans Recognition Day,  Earth Day , Transportation Tuesday, Wild Wednesday, Throwback Thursday, Friendship Friday, Bark Ranger Day and Park Rx Day. You can learn more about National Park Week, plus find important information about a national park near you, by visiting Find Your Park and the  National Parks website . Images via Ian D. Keating , Mobilus in Mobili , Jeff Gunn , Thomas , Eric Vaughn , Badlands National Park and Grand Canyon National Park

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National Parks are offering free entry on April 20 to celebrate National Park Week

A micro home in one of Quebecs regional parks offers a unique way to enjoy the outdoors

April 9, 2019 by  
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La Pointe is located within Canada’s Poisson Blanc Regional Park, and it’s a nature-loving minimalist’s dream come true. The micro home gets its name from the distinctive triangular geometry that comes to a cathedral-style point in the roof. The designers at Atelier L’abri wanted to honor the A-frame style that was made popular in North America in the 1950s while still providing the essential functions needed in a forest cabin. La Pointe offers off-the-grid living that isn’t completely isolated from civilization. The micro home is located off of a nature trail about 10 minutes by foot from the park’s reception pavilion. Despite the minimal square footage, there is room for up to four occupants inside thanks to the first-floor table’s ability to convert into an extra bed. Related: Disconnect in these A-frame tiny cabins in the Catskills The structure was built on-site and features a kitchenette, an outdoor porch area and a lofted bedroom accessible by ladder. The bed is suspended mezzanine-style using steel rods, and it calmly overlooks the rest of the home. The entire space, including the sleeping area, takes full advantage of the natural light that streams in during the day. The connecting covered terrace is the perfect spot to enjoy the space when the weather is hot, and the wood-burning stove keeps the house warm in the cold Canadian winters. The whole structure is raised off the ground to prevent weather-related damage from both the snow and the nearby reservoir. The exterior, made from natural cedar boards, creates a woodsy look that blends in beautifully to the surrounding forest landscape. The roof is made from steel, a recycle-friendly option for a building material. The interior uses the same cedar, which — combined with the dark, steel-colored appliances inside — creates an organic and raw look. Occupants can enjoy the forest views from the large bay window that centers the home from the first floor. + Atelier L’abri Photography by Jack Jérôme via Atelier L’abri

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A micro home in one of Quebecs regional parks offers a unique way to enjoy the outdoors

An old office is transformed into the Netherlands’ most sustainable renovated building

March 22, 2019 by  
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In Amsterdam South, a newly renovated office building with a shimmering silver roof has achieved BREEAM Outstanding , a green building rating that arguably makes the property the most sustainable adaptive reuse project in the Netherlands. Formerly a neglected office complex, the empty building was transformed in the hands of Dutch architectural firm Benthem Crouwel Architects and now serves as the energy-positive offices for Goede Doelen Loterijen (Dutch Charity Lotteries). A major goal of the new Goede Doelen Loterijen office was to gather the company’s approximately 600 employees — who had been distributed at different branches for years — into a single location. Because sustainability is a core value of Goede Doelen Loterijen , the new office also needed to be highly sustainable and render the company’s social ambitions visible. Therefore, the building design emphasizes accessibility and transparency, communicating the message that it serves both the employees and the neighborhood. In addition to offices, the building includes a public restaurant, an auditorium and a TV studio. “The Charity Lotteries employees were involved in the design from the very beginning,” the architects explained. “Everyone was invited to share their thoughts, and through this unique process of co-creation, a building emerged that fits the unique atmosphere and work practice of this organization like a glove. It was the employees’ wish to bring the green from the park at their old locations to the new office. To fulfill this wish, a roof was created that is green in every possible way.” Related: MVRDV to transform an Amsterdam office complex into a green residential zone Nearly 7,000 leaves made of polished aluminum cover the roof, supported with slender, tree-shaped columns. The new forest-inspired roof shimmers and changes appearance depending on the time of day and is easily recognizable and visible from afar. In addition to the glittering silver leaves, the roof is also integrated with 949 solar panels and a rainwater collection system for green roof irrigation. Materials from the former office complex were reused, while all new materials have been selected for their sustainable and recyclable qualities. + Benthem Crouwel Architects Via ArchDaily Photography by Jannes Linders via Benthem Crouwel Architects

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An old office is transformed into the Netherlands’ most sustainable renovated building

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