June 23, 2009
by Linda G. Miller

In this issue:
· Rhythm Comes Alive in Midtown
· “Project of the Year” Transforms SoHa
· Mini Golfers Take On Rocket Science
· Court of Appeals Rules D.C.’s Judiciary Square
· Library is a Learning Landscape in Baltimore
· Exoskeleton Cools Dubai

Rhythm Comes Alive in Midtown


TEN arquitectos

TEN Arquitectos celebrated both the firm’s 25th anniversary and the unveiling of a new project, Cassa, a Midtown Manhattan hotel condominium designed in collaboration with Cetra/Ruddy. The building will rise 48 stories and contain 57 residences and 166 hotel rooms. The building’s windows have a punctured rhythm that are the façade’s only ornament, intending to bring the activities of residents and guests to life. Assa Properties and Desires Hotel are developing Cassa, which will include a world-class restaurant, spa, private terrace, and lounge. Construction has already begun and the project is fully funded for completion by mid-2010.

“Project of the Year” Transforms SoHa

SoHa 118.

GF55 Partners

SoHa 118, a 14-story building in South Harlem designed by GF55 Partners and developed by Artimus Construction, has been named “Project of the Year” by the New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH). The 185,000-square-foot, mixed-use project consists of 93 one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments offered at both market and affordable rates. SoHa 118 marks the completion of a block on Frederick Douglass Boulevard between 118th and 119th Streets. Artimus and GF55 Partners have worked together to transform this formerly neglected district into a vibrant community, with large-scale urban development on two adjacent blocks, containing five sites and seven residential buildings, with a sixth site containing a newly renovated church.

Mini Golfers Take On Rocket Science

Rocket Park Mini Golf.

Lee H. Skonick Architecture + Design Partnership

The New York Hall of Science in Queens, the city’s hands-on science and technology center, has added a new permanent exhibition called Rocket Park Mini Golf. Designed by Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership, the park uses space-age colors and graphics reminiscent of the 1960s. The exhibition features two authentic NASA rockets and a nine-hole course that was designed to allow mini-golfers to encounter scientific concepts such as propulsion, thrust, gravity, escape velocity, launch window, gravitational assist, and more. For example, the hole called “launch window” forces players to pick the right time to launch their “rocket” through turning, intersecting elliptical orbit with planets and other celestial matter that will hinder its trajectory and hamper their trip to Saturn.

Court of Appeals Rules D.C.’s Judiciary Square

Historic Courthouse of Judiciary Square.

Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners

Following a four-year restoration and renovation program developed by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners, the Historic Courthouse of Judiciary Square in the nation’s capital will become the new home for the District’s highest court, the D.C. Court of Appeals. Originally designed by George Hadfield in 1820 to serve as the D.C. City Hall, the Historic Courthouse is a National Historic Landmark and one of the oldest public buildings in the district. Vacant since 1999, the courthouse was in need of a comprehensive overhaul to be restored to its original grandeur, while also in need of being transformed into a fully functioning modern courthouse. Beyer Blinder Belle integrated the expanded facilities and modern systems with minimal disruption to the historic structure.

The most significant challenge was the excavation of the new ceremonial courtroom beneath the grand south-side portico, where the original stone and brick support structure below needed to be entirely removed — with the portico in place — and replaced with a complex, steel structural framework. The new facilities, including a grand ceremonial courtroom, reception and exhibition space, and administrative facilities, were built below-grade, thereby maintaining the integrity of the historic façade. This configuration also allowed mechanical equipment to be located in the residual space between the existing foundation wall and the foundation of the new parking garage, further minimizing impact on the historic structure.

Library is a Learning Landscape in Baltimore

Multi-use “park bench” with computer work stations.

© Erik Kvalsvik

To meet the Bentalou Elementary School’s goal of improving literacy through independent study that incorporates adventure and discovery, NYC-based W Architecture and Landscape Architecture re-imagined the Baltimore school’s library as a “learning landscape.” The 2,016-square-foot flexible space was created from three smaller spaces, and includes an oversized “park bench” doubles as a casual reading area on one side, with a docking area for computers on the other. A green circular carpet provides a more casual reading area. Nine wall clocks installed over the bookshelves tell the time in Baltimore and eight sister cities around the world. Behind the librarian’s desk, a former door to the corridor is now a window allowing visibility into the space as well as displaying special reading material. Storage space was hidden behind a wall of doors, and most of the existing shelving and furniture was adapted for re-use, while new lighting, solar shading, and a more efficient HVAC system all help save energy.

Exoskeleton Cools Dubai


© lmresolt.com

The exterior shell of O-14, the 22-story commercial tower perched on a two-story podium in Dubai, recently topped out, revealing a full-height concrete exoskeleton. Designed by NY-based Reiser+Umemoto in collaboration with the Creek Side Development Company of Dubai, the project is located along the extension of Dubai Creek on a waterfront esplanade. High-strength self-consolidating concrete was cast around a basket weave of steel reinforcement resulting in a perforated exterior shell. The concrete shell provides an efficient structure that frees the core from the lateral forces and creates highly efficient, column-free open spaces in the building interior. In addition, the shell acts as a sunscreen open to light, air, and views. A space nearly one meter deep between the shell and the glazing creates a chimney effect; this passive solar technique contributes naturally to the cooling system, thus reducing energy consumption by 30%. O-14 is expected to be completed in the Spring of 2010.


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