New Commissions, April 2005.

Despite being one of the most sophisticated cities in the world, New York’s street lighting is aging poorly. But a recent competition to design new street lamps drew more than 200 entries. The winner, announced earlier this year was Thomas Phifer and Partners. The winning design uses a cluster of LEDs to cast a less harsh beam; the idea also allows for a slimmer design and uses less energy than typical sodium lights. A South Carolina native, Phifer received both his bachelor’s and master’s from Clemson before he went to work for Gwathmey Siegel and Associates, and Richard Meier & Partners, where he was a design partner. He formed his own firm in 1996. Second and third place in the lighting competition went to Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and Atelier Imrey Culbert, LLP, respectively.

The American Society of Landscape Architects will replace its 3,000+ sf roof with a green one, designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.; Gensler; and the Conservation Design Forum. Sited in downtown Washington, D.C., the organization hopes to encourage similar projects across the U.S. “We hope to provide a catalyst for more green roof development in Washington and beyond,” said ASLA Executive Vice President Nancy Somerville. Some of the benefits of a vegetated roof include: less maintenance and double the life span of a conventional roof; significant HVAC cost savings; sound-blocking; better stormwater runoff filtration, improved air quality; restoring urban biohabit; and, it just looks better.

Daniel Libeskind is said to be committed to design a new 50-story condo tower in Sacramento, Calif. This follows announcements of other Libeskind residential projects in Denver and a Kentucky town not far from Cincinnati. The Sacramento project is said to be located east of Cesar Chavez Plaza, and developers are hoping for an iconic, signature building for the city. Financing and other factors may affect schedule, and perhaps larger issues such as the eventual developer.

HOK Sport has won the commission for the new Washington Nationals’ stadium in D.C. Working jointly with Devrouax & Purnell, the HOK bid of $18.6 million for design, was reportedly the lowest bid by almost $4 million. The ballpark is due to open for the 2008 season; the quick turnaround was believed to work to HOK’s advantage.

RATIO Architects, Inc. have two recent commissions: Purdue University’s Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering, a $38.5 million, 215,00 sf project expected to open in 2006. It will house the following departments: Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, Materials Science Engineering, Engineering Administration, and general University classrooms.

In Indianapolis, RATIO is designing the state’s Forensic and Health Sciences Laboratories, also due in 2006, with a $45 million budget. The three-story, 171,000 sf building will incorporate homes for several investigative units including The Indiana State Department of Health. The Indiana University Division of Toxicology will join with the Indiana State Police Forensics Laboratory. Designers are pursuing unspecified LEED certification. The design concept is to mimic DNA, with two antiparallel polynucleotide strands forming the primary portion of the building.

No announcement yet, but the cut-off to submit designs was March 14 for the Syracuse Center of Excellence (CoE) in Environmental and Energy Systems. The new headquarters/lab is a brownfield project located in downtown Syracuse; it will entail 60,000 sf of office, public event, and high-bay lab spaces. Approximately 10,000 sf will house the “Total Indoor Environmental Quality (TIEQ) Laboratory,” a signature facility of the Environmental Quality Systems (EQS) Strategically Targeted Academic Research (STAR) Center. They are seeking a platinum LEED rating, and have a $19 million budget.

Penn State is collaborating (via lease) with the New York-Penn minor leagues to build a new baseball stadium they’re hoping will open next June. The architect is L. Robert Kimball & Associates. There’s seating for 5,000 with room on the grass for another 1,000. The team is not yet named, but the lease goes to Altoona Curve management. The schedule is for six months of college intercollegiate games, seguing into the minor league season.

Phillipe Starck has been in the hotel business for nearly two decades. But last month announced an alliance with Saudi Prince Faisal F. Al Saud’s F6 concern to create destinations that inspire travelers to be more “sexy,” “smart” and “sparkling.” The new venture will create Starck Hotels as a subsidiary of F6; the goal of the new partnership is to open as many as 35 luxury hotels in major European, U.S. and Middle Eastern cities.

Foggy Bottom and St. Paul’s parish is home to Philip Frohman’s church, built in 1947. (Frohman also designed the National Cathedral.) Swanke Hayden Connell Architects has been chosen to create a masterplan to renovate and create new space in the five-building site, which includes social and administrative space, housed in historic row houses, as well as a recently acquired townhouse which will be incorporated for parish use. Big issues are universal access and more room for a growing music program.

Another historic project for Swanke Hayden Connell—West Virginia’s $4.5 million effort to restore the state capitol’s gilded dome. Cass Gilbert was the original architect for the 1932 building, drawn in the style of Les Hotel des Invalides in Paris. Previous efforts at resurfacing the dome have been jinxed, with various attempts in the 40s, 60s and 70s all ending in failure. In the 80s, the entire dome was regilded, but the gold leaf is now heavily black-streaked. In addition to improving the appearance, the renovation will address structural deficiencies, including corrosion of the underlying structural steel.

Charlotte wants to bring home the new NASCAR Hall of Fame to the Queen City. However, there remain four other cities in the running, including Atlanta; Kansas City, Mo.; and Daytona Beach, Fla. Late last month, Talladega/Birmingham, Ala., dropped from the running—the deadline for submissions is May 31. But Charlotte announced this week a parry to Kansas City’s proposal to have HOK Sport+Venue+Event design their hall if they receive the bid. Charlotte says Pei, Cobb & Freed Partners would design their facility if the hall goes to North Carolina. The project has a reported $75-$100 million budget; the final choice is expected to be announced late this year or early in 2006.

UNC-Chapel Hill continues millions in new work and renovation. The latest three we’ve seen: The $104 million Koury Oral Science Complex, designed by Flad & Associates which involves demolition/replacement of existing facilities; a $37 million renovation of Hinton-James Hall by Mitchell Matthews Associates, which will include suites on the top floors; and a new $10 million Research Resource Facility by BJAC Architectural Collaborative.

Ellerbe Beckett and Hornberger + Worstell, Inc. are architects for a new $120 million student recreation/wellness center at Cal-State’s Sacramento campus; the project also involves renovation of an existing stadium.

Arizona State and the city of Scottsdale have hired Pei Cobb Freed & Partners to masterplan a Center for New Technology, a project that will involve more than a million sf, multiple buildings, plus retail and parking for more than 3,000—all sited on 40+ acres.

A small but interesting project in Tuscaloosa, Ala., would create a 12.4 acre public grounds in the “grand style of an English country park.” The $1.2 million project by Ward Scott Vernon Architects, Inc., would include an interactive fountain, shelters, a gazebo and picnic areas bounded by woods.

In Jacksonville, Fla., PBV Architecture is designing the three-story 90,000 sf medical complex for Physicians for a Better Jacksonville, with a $9.9 million budget.

Moshe Safdie Associates is masterplanning (along with SWBR Architects) the Renaissance Square project in Rochester, N.Y. that involves Monroe Community Colleges and the regional transit authority. Groundbreaking is speculated in 2007. It includes lab space, an arts center/theater along with retail/rider amenities for the public transit areas. The $230 million project includes a bus terminal.