Eighty Story Tower for Minneapolis Gateway District

Duval Tower

Duval Development was one of four Minneapolis development teams to submit proposals for the Nicollet Hotel Block, a parcel currently owned by the City in Minneapolis’ Gateway District. Ralph Johnson, of architecture firm Perkins + Will, conceived the ambitious 80-story tower highlighted in the proposal.

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San Francisco Ad Agency Gets Office Space Worthy of Pinterest

SF Gensler

Designed by global architecture firm Gensler, this extremely chic, highly pinnable HQ in San Francisco was custom created to fit the monochromatic visions of the advertising agency MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER. Spanning across two floors in a 1920’s building, the the space is almost entirely color free, save for a few hot pink details—including a massive mural of the company’s antler logo. “The people we have here bring the color,” explains kindly Creative Director John Matejczyk. “We decided to complement them with an entirely black and white design for the space.” Further fostering that community spirit are communal marble worktables—an up-and-coming trendy office staple—that take the place of boring old desks or cubicles.

Besides this community-centric work floor, the open layout also devotes a whole lot of room to perfectly appointed lounge space that looks exactly like some intimidatingly cool loft apartment, complete with arching, twenty-foot-high windows and the “world’s only known Jacobean ping-pong table.” Tucked away to one side, there are also glamorous, slightly gothic meeting alcoves with cheeky names like “Mack Daddy” and “The Champagne Room.” Curbed SF has the full gallery of photos, right this way.

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San Francisco’s 140 Montgomery Revitalized by Perkins+Will


The San Francisco office of architecture and design firm Perkins+Will announces the revitalization of 140 New Montgomery, San Francisco’s iconic Art Deco high-rise. Constructed in 1925, 140 New Montgomery was one of the tallest skyscrapers on the West Coast at the time of its construction. The building was home to the Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company for 80 years until Stockbridge Capital Group and its development partner Wilson Meany, LLC purchased the building and engaged Perkins+Will to help create the premier business address in the city to drive innovation. The revitalization of 140 New Montgomery sought to incorporate contemporary details and highly sustainable systems while highlighting the building’s historic character and preserving key spaces.

“We are humbled to be a part of this historic and important project,” said Cathy Simon, AIA, LEED AP, Principal for Perkins+Will. “It has been an honor to work on the revitalization of one of San Francisco’s most celebrated buildings. The building has a great story and we are excited to introduce new design elements while honoring the rich history and architectural detail of this landmark.”

Along with the preservation and repair of the building’s signature lobby, a key sign of the building’s new life is the transformation of the former service courtyard into a sculpture garden and dining area for two high-end restaurants. Further amenities include extensive parking and showers for bikers, a restored historic central stair for tenant circulation, and the re-use of historic wood doors throughout the building. 140 New Montgomery was a telecommunications marvel upon its completion in 1925, and the revitalization continues that tradition with all of the mechanical, electric, plumbing and life safety systems upgraded and designed with flexibility, efficiency, and scalability in mind.

Sustainability was a key focus of the project and the LEED-certified project achieved Gold level certification. The original windows were replaced with high efficiency versions, preserving the building’s historic integrity and retaining operability as well as providing tenants access to natural ventilation and extensive daylighting.

Many of the building’s original details have been protected and highlighted in the rehabilitation including the historic “Bell” symbols in the lobby and elevator banks on each floor, executive board room wood paneling, and marble-clad staircases.

“We have a long history with Perkins+Will’s San Francisco team, including its leadership in the renovation of the Ferry Building,” said Chris Meany, managing partner of Wilson Meany, LLC. “With the opportunity to re-craft 140 for today’s leading businesses, we wanted to partner again with this accomplished team. Perkins+Will provided exceptional skill and creativity in fully modernizing the building while maintaining its historic quality.”

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AECOM Looks to Create a Game Changer with the Design of the New Sacramento Kings Arena

Kings Arena

Local designers have expressed their critiques on the proposed new Downtown Sacramento Kings arena. Local station FOX40 exclusively spoke to the lead architect, Rob Rothblatt of AECOM for reaction.

“The world does not expect your average arena anymore,” Rothblatt said. He explained that the $448 million project is a game-changer for sports arena design.

“Most of these arenas are looking in, and they are looking just at the basketball court, and they don’t have a lot of windows,” Rothblatt said. “And how do you turn that inside out and start interacting with this neighborhood? That’s what we thought about.”

The new arena will have full LEED certification (high sustainability standards), natural artistic motifs and materials reflecting Northern California, an open top roof, and a mixed-use plaza surrounding the arena.

Initially, designers also brainstormed other styles. They imagined an all-glass boxy arena with a large open courtyard like the Spanish Plaza Mayor. However, when they prioritized sustainability, the current design was born.

However, not everyone is as enthusiastic about the design as Rothblatt and his team. Some called the arena a King’s crown. Others said it looks like a crushed Aluminum can.

“The giant aircraft hanger doors, which nobody else has, I don’t think those are crushed aluminum cans items,” Rothblatt defended. “I don’t know who said that, and I didn’t meet them at a public commission, but I would liked to, if they want to get involved in that discussion.”

With a court battle looming, there us still a chance this project may never come to fruition.

“That’s always a chance you take as an architect” Rothblatt said. “What we try to do, is work with what we were given, do the best we can for our client and hope that the whole project can move forward.”

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Perez Art Museum in Miami Features Boats, Pearls, and Crabs

Miami Art Museum

Model yachts, rustic fishing boats and wooden rafts dangle above visitors as they step into the new Perez Art Museum Miami. The colorful display is both a playful nod to South Florida’s maritime culture and a somber reference to the perilous journeys many make to get here. It is the perfect entry to a museum that channels the city around it: whimsical, vibrant, brimming with culture from across the Americas – and yes, a work in progress.

The museum, which opened in December, still lacks a permanent blockbuster, but its retrospective of Chinese master and political dissident Ai Weiwei, on display through mid-March, should temporarily satisfy. And the museum’s eclectic and provocative collection, coupled with its bay front location, has quickly turned the PAMM – as locals already call it – into a must-see destination for tourists and natives.

“Our biggest competition down here isn’t the other cultural institutions. It’s the beach, the water,” Museum director Thom Collins said. “So, rather than compete, the museum embraces its surroundings.”

As in the rest of Miami’s booming downtown, visitors to the Perez Museum are immediately greeted by construction along the museum’s front plaza and at the site of a neighboring science museum, set to open in 2015. Once under the PAMM’s shaded deck, though, Ai Weiwei’s mammoth bronze animal Zodiac Heads welcome guests, and the call of gulls and ocean breezes take over. The Pritzker Prize-winning Swiss architect firm Herzog & de Meuron took pains to design an airy and hurricane resistant building, with a wide, shaded deck that can serve as the rare outdoor communal space in a city with scorching temperatures and no central park. Beneath the deck’s three-story slatted roof, shrubbery-covered columns hang like an abstract enchanted forest, pumping recaptured rainwater through hidden pipes to further cool the deck.

Inside, strategically placed windows offer views of the beaches and downtown skyline and provide natural light, while an open floor plan ensures future exhibits can be shaped around new acquisitions. No space is wasted: the museum’s center staircase doubles as a theater that can be divided into two auditoriums.

Ai’s retrospective, which includes symbolic crab piles, buckets of pearls, a maze of hundreds of bicycle wheels and an exploration of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, will be followed by a retrospective of Caribbean art and an exhibit by Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes, whose psychedelic color bursts have earned her fame throughout Latin America and Europe.

Collins says contemporary Latin American artists like Milhazes are sometimes overlooked by major U.S. museums.

“Her work is so baroque and sexual, and often in the U.S. we are somewhat puritanical,” he said, “but it will be well received here.”

The desire to tap into Miami sensibilities, culture and history is what drew Collins and chief curator Tobias Ostrander to the boat installation entitled, “For Those In Peril on the Sea.” The work by Guyana-raised artist Hew Locke originally hung in a British church but could have easily been commissioned for Miami.

Most of the museum’s art comes from the post-World War II period, reflecting the rise of Miami as a metropolis. The museum’s strong suit is its Latin American collection, a sizeable portion of which came from Colombian-born developer Jorge Perez, who donated a combined $40 million in cash and art to earn naming rights. Perez, the son of Cuban exiles, has been a major force behind Miami’s urban redevelopment. He says it’s only natural that the museum would have such a strong Latin American and Latino influence.

“It’s a museum that tries to capture Miami, and in capturing Miami, you have to understand what America – all of the Americas – are about,” he said.

Perez began collecting Latin American art while in graduate school in New York. Like many immigrants, he yearned for his homeland even as he prepared to leave it behind. Art was a way to maintain the connection.

The museum’s semi-permanent exhibit is entitled Americana and divided into themes rather than chronology: myth and identity, landscapes and desire, pop art and traditional crafts. Perez’s collection includes some works by Latin American powerhouses like Colombian Fernando Botero, Mexico’s Diego Rivera and Cuban artist Wifredo Lam. But many of the museum’s most interesting pieces are by less well-known artists such as El Paso native Adrian Esparza, who literally deconstructs the cliche Mexican serape and repurposes it into a vast, complex, geometric weaving.

Collins and Ostrander were adamant they wanted to make the institution’s work accessible to a wide range of art enthusiasts. Thus bilingual placards – Spanish and English – placed next to each work provide far more context than the usual name and title.

“You want to encourage people to look and get a lot just from what they are seeing, but labels helps them look longer and opens up new ways to view the art,” Ostrander said.

Passions tend to run high in Miami when it comes to politics, but Collins and Ostrander aren’t shying away from meatier topics. The museum dedicates several installations to institutional violence throughout the Americas and beyond, including a giant, mixed media collage by Sue Coe, depicting the 1973 imprisonment and torture of Chileans under Gen. Augusto Pinochet, replete with a symbol of U.S. corporate interests – a Pepsi machine – in the foreground.

One of the most popular initial exhibits is that of the late Cuban Avant-garde painter Amelia Peláez, revered in Miami’s Cuban exile community. Collins and Ostrander say they’d also like to produce a show by current Cuban artists – a bold move in a town where many still believe such attention would only benefit the island’s aging communist government, but also one that like the museum itself, reflects the complex and evolving nature of Miami in the 21st century.

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Annual Design Review Award Goes to SOM for the New U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou, China


The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Architect magazine has selected the U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou, China as one of 17 projects that represent the best in American architecture for its 2013 annual design review. The U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou was one of four projects for office, government, and commercial mixed-use projects awarded.

The award jury reviewed nearly 250 project entries worldwide that were completed between June 2012 and September 2013.

The jury noted that “the consulate building is representative of a quality that we want to continue to see in foreign projects, where our soft culture can be embraced.”

The new Consulate General occupies a 7.5-acre lot in the city’s Pearl River New Town district. The project was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) of San Francisco, California and was built by B.L. Harbert International, LLC of Birmingham, Alabama and China Huashi Enterprises LTD of Chengdu, China.

OBO’s mission is to provide safe, secure, and functional facilities for the conduct of U.S. diplomacy and the promotion of U.S. interests worldwide. These facilities should represent American values and the best in American architecture, engineering, technology, sustainability, maintainability, art, culture, and construction execution.

For the jury, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)’s new U.S. consulate in Guangzhou, China, sends an important message: “The consulate building is representative of a quality that we want to continue to see in foreign projects, where our soft culture can be embraced,” juror Sheila Kennedy said.

The 150,000-square-foot building’s unfussy massing and frank expression lent it a degree of candor and simplicity that propelled it to the top of the heap. Where so many diplomatic buildings abroad seem to deploy heavy-handed rhetoric, SOM’s shoots for understatement, using local materials and brightly lit façades at either end of the tube-shaped main structure to give it a sense of warmth and welcome. The jurors also expressed their admiration for the building’s “softening-edge component,” the extensive use of wood and joinery that frame many of its interiors and that are visible here and there behind glass plates on the exterior.

Occupying a 7.5-acre lot in the city’s Pearl River New Town district, the project is as important for the extensive landscaping that surrounds it as for the building itself. Though the compound is necessarily separated from the surrounding streets by screening facilities—one of the rigors of the security-heavy brief—the gardens and paved areas are decidedly public in character, the pathways lined in a locally quarried stone that also clads the body of the consulate. Even the perimeter buildings, through which visitors must pass to enter the consulate area, are given a sensitive, urban character, each topped with a long green roof and a broad marquee that extends toward the sidewalk.

Kennedy praised the project further as an “idea-driven” workplace, one that brings “ideas about the public nature of the workplace into the site.” The consulate, she concluded, is an office with “soul.”

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