July 7, 2010
by Linda G. Miller

In this issue:
· Imagine — A Playground in a Box?
· SALON Mixes Sangria and Spanish Design
· Alaskan Artifacts Grow in New Home
· Hawaii Five
· Innovation Harnesses Green Technologies in Botswana
· Ellis Island’s European Counterpart to Be Restored

Imagine — A Playground in a Box?


Imagination Playground.

Rockwell Group

As a prelude to the Rockwell Group-designed Imagination Playground Park that will open this month, “Imagination Playground in a Box” units will be installed on weekends throughout the city during the summer. The project is a colorful container on wheels. The sides and top of the boxes reveal a variety of loose parts, such as foam blocks, sand, water tools, and found objects including tarps, fabric, and milk crates. Children will use the tools to create their own toys, games, and environments. In collaboration with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, the first of the Imagination Playground parks will be located at Burling Slip in the South Street Seaport area. This site-specific park will feature a full set of loose parts and a sculpted landscape, as well as sand and water installations.

SALON Mixes Sangria and Spanish Design



Photo by Floto + Warner

SALON, a permanent exhibition space and new lounge bar, opened at the Tribeca Grand Hotel. Designed by Winka Dubbeldam of Archi-Tectonics, the 1,200-square-foot space was inspired by the works of Spanish surrealist artists including Dalí, Picasso, and Caballero. SALON showcases the work of 16 Spanish designers and manufacturers, including BD Barcelona Design furnishings; Lladró sculptural vases and lighting; and Nani Marquina rugs. The project is supported by RED, an organization that represents Spanish design companies and the Trade Commission of Spain’s Interiors From Spain department.

Alaskan Artifacts Grow in New Home


Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center.

Photo by Chuck Choi

The Smithsonian Institution is loaning more than 600 indigenous Alaskan artifacts to Anchorage and allowing access for hands-on study by Alaska Native elders, artists, and scholars. These cultural and historical treasures, selected and interpreted with help from Alaska Native advisers, are now exhibited in the new Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in the Anchorage Museum, designed by NY-based Ralph Appelbaum Associates. Rather than pursue a traditionally static interpretive experience, RAA designed interactive, updatable digital stations to allow multiple layers of information that can change over time, including oral histories, historic photographs, artistic depictions, and a growing body of Native and scholarly commentary. Visitors learn about objects through touch screens; a video art installation about contemporary Alaska Native life plays on seven large, flat-screen TVs; and a 3-D sound art installation is designed to immerse visitors in the Arctic with recordings of howling wolves, cracking ice, and storytellers. The firm worked closely with the designer of the museum’s expansion, London-based David Chipperfield Architects, and Anchorage-based architect-of-record Kumin Associates.

Hawaii Five


Trump International Hotel + Tower, Honolulu, HI.

Photo by Andrea Brizza

Brooklyn-based Guerin Glass Architects has completed its fifth project in Hawaii — the Trump International Hotel + Tower, a 750,000-square-foot, 38-story hotel and residential building, that is part of a two-million-square-foot redevelopment intended to revitalize the Waikiki retail and hotel district in Honolulu. Encountering local resistance to contemporary design in the hotel district, the design team responded by infusing Hawaiian motifs into the design. The cast-in-place structural frame features fin walls and post-tensioned slabs that project to protect the exterior from the strong island light. The pattern of the deep façade evokes traditional Polynesian weaving. The tower contains 462 residential and hotel units, several dining and resort facilities, including a day spa and fitness center, as well as parking for 220 cars. Honolulu-based Benjamin Woo Architects served as associate architect.

Innovation Harnesses Green Technologies in Botswana


Botswana Innovation Hub.

SHoP Architects

Via an international design competition, NYC-based SHoP Architects has been selected to design the new Botswana Innovation Hub. Located in Gabarone, the country’s capital and largest city, the 270,000-square-foot facility will provide office and laboratory space for technology driven and knowledge intensive foreign and local businesses, as well as research and advanced training institutes. The client’s brief called for an iconic building that employed cutting-edge green technology. SHoP’s design concept features what the firm has coined an “energy blanket roofscape,” which incorporates large overhangs to passively shade the building’s interior volumes, mechanisms to collect and re-use water, and both passive and active photovoltaic systems to harness solar energy. Where the roof slope prevents optimal solar collection, a low-maintenance roof garden collects and filters rainwater. The combination of these technologies is anticipated to offset at least half of the building’s operational energy costs.

Ellis Island’s European Counterpart to Be Restored


Red Star Line Museum.

Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners

Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, responsible for the restoration of Ellis Island, has begun work on the Red Star Line Museum located in the Montevideo section of Antwerp. Three historic harbor sheds that served as luggage storage and mandatory medical and administrative inspections buildings for millions of European emigrants bound for the U.S. and Canada during the decades before and after the turn of the 20th-century will be restored. There are different levels of historical significance related to the emigrants’ experiences among the three buildings in the complex, and different levels of architectural integrity based on the existing conditions and amount of remaining historical fabric. Work will also include infrastructure and interior upgrades for the new use of the buildings as a public exhibition space that will relay the stories of past and contemporary migration. A new, central observation tower, reminiscent of a disassembled tall boiler stack, is designed to give museum visitors an idea of what it must have been like for the emigrants to have their last look of Antwerp from the deck of an ocean liner. The museum is scheduled to open in 2012.


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