On Thursday, June 13th Feldman Architecture hosted Bay Area Young Architects (BAYA) for their monthly Firm Presentation and Tour. With beverages and snacks in hand, 30-40 people gathered to get the inside scoop of the firm’s ethos, work, and design process through 5 completed and ongoing projects. As Jonathan moderated the discussion, attendees were lead through the stories of context and particular conditions of each project by their respective project managers.
Thank you BAYA for a wonderful evening of good conversation and architecture.
What does it mean to be “green” 20 feet underground? This is the question being addressed by the Lowline, a proposal for 60,000 square feet of subterranean public space in an abandoned trolley terminal in New YorkCity’s Lower East Side. Situated at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge and beneath the city streets, the environment of the former Williamsburg Trolley Terminal consists of nearly 1.5 acres of crisscrossing railroad tracks, cobblestones, and a forest of steel columns supporting a vaulted concrete and asphalt ceiling. One would be hard-pressed to find anything green within the cavernous interior–not even a blade of grass. It is a forgotten relic of New York’s past, once a critical element in the city’s infrastructure and civic life now unseen and underutilized.
With the Lowline proposal, designer James Ramsey and director Dan Barasch seek to transform the former trolley terminal into an urban green space in the most traditional sense which is to say a park complete with grass, trees, walking paths, and recreation and leisure areas. While this may not be the most logical appropriation for an underground space, renderings from their proposal show children playing beside illuminated pools of water with lush trees receding into the distance. A grid of steel I-beams supports a vaulted ceiling which appears to emanate thin sheets of natural light to the environment below.
In order to provide natural light for the plants and trees underground, the designers have employed the use of remote skylight technology to collect sunlight from above and channel it below. While the concept is not new, the technology is novel in its use of advanced optical systems. Situated above ground are solar collection dishes and helio tubes which reflect and collect sunlight through their parabolic form and fiber optic cables. They are the only visible element of the park from street level. The dish employs a tracking mechanism which allows it to follow the path of the sun throughout the year. The light is then reflected and distributed through a mirrored dome into the space below.
This underground park would be the first of its kind. Its unique setting has dictated the process through which the proposal has been developed which is to say the primary issue with the Lowline is one of public perception from both a biological and cultural perspective. What would it feel like to be in an underground cavern filled with trees in a sunlit but skyless space? Is a park still green if it there is no sky?
Many questions about the proposal remain to be answered, but for now the Lowline team is busy trying to gain political, financial, and community support through a feasibility study and a full-scale mockup of the remote skylight. If the project does move forward, it would undoubtedly set a precedent and transform the definition altogether of what it means to be an urban green space.
Aaron Lim is a designer working at Feldman Architecture and is a frequent contributor to Green Architecture Notes.
This is the second in a series about different efforts to reclaim unused spaces in urban areas.. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you know of a project that you’d like to nominate for a future article.
There are often many reasons to embrace the chance of a long weekend. This spring after a yearlong effort, and a dozen design iterations, I happily packed up the truck and headed to the Eastern Sierras to enjoy one of the last waning weekends of spring. With me I packed my newly created 15.25 lbs of custom carbon awesomeness; each screw, painted line, and individual piece of technology researched, scrutinized and ultimately selected/designed by me.
Much like building a home, the process of building a bike like this is collaborative effort, with each person adding his or her expertise, technology and refinement. For this bike I enlisted the efforts of two separate frame-building companies, a paint shop, a mechanic, and over 10 individual component manufacturers.
My destination, Bishop, CA, lies in the Owens River Valley halfway between Mammoth Mountain and Mt. Whitney. Bounded to the west by the dramatic Eastern Sierras and to the east by the White Mountains (boundary between California & Nevada), this beautiful area of high desert has only a few offerings in the way of flat roads. Head off in any direction and you are quickly greeted by miles of climbing. Hopefully you have plenty of time to take in the traffic free roads and the scenery.
On one of my riding days, I headed north from Bishop for 30 miles and after 4000 feet of climbing was stopped by the snow line. I stretched my neck and shoulders, tucked in behind the handlebars, and enjoyed my well earned 20+ mile mountain descent back towards town, a mix of moderate to steep pitches, with open and technical curves. White-knuckle speeds in excess of 50 mph were moderated only by my mind looking down at 23 mm tires and my not so protective lycra suit. Balanced, predictable and well equipped, the bike was only limited by my nerves and ever-fatiguing arms.
Wow… looking forward to summer!
We’ve come across a few good infographics in the past couple of weeks, so we thought we would share them here.
The first comes from Autodesk’s blog, and talks all about how green building is good for small business.
And the second is all about solid-state lighting and how much energy it saves, courtesy of CREE, Inc.
This is the first post in a new series about different efforts to reclaim unused spaces in urban areas.
A rendering of the future Bloomingdale Trail.
Chicago is on the verge of something big. The Windy City is working hard to redefine itself into an urban oasis. Ideas for parks and green areas are popping up left and right. Two that stand out are Bloomingdale Trail and Northerly Island Park. Both projects focus on reusing previously vacated civic space; Bloomingdale Trail will take over a former rail line, while Northerly Island Park reclaims a bygone airstrip on Lake Michigan. These projects are indicative of a larger movement that we are noticing in cities across the globe to convert underused areas into functional destinations that people will revitalize urban centers. (more…)
This spring we learned that Feldman Architecture’s Shack, completed in collaboration with homeowner Loretta Gargan Landscape + Design, has been selected for the AIA San Francisco’s Marin Home Tours. We’re very excited that Loretta and her partner, photographer Catherine Wagner, are open to having visitors tour through the Shack for a day. Tours take place on Saturday, May 18th, and if you’d like to join, tickets may be purchased here.
At the end of the year, we received copies of the Design Bureau’s special Architecture edition to find that a close up of the Caterpillar House landed on the cover. The issue also features a nice profile of the Caterpillar House and puts the firm in great company. The Mill Valley Cabins are featured in the newly published and beautifully designed Rock the Shack: The Architecture of Cabins, Cocoons and Hide-Outs published by Gestalten.
We were also excited to learn that out of 1000’s of projects on Architizer.com, Caterpillar was selected by a notable jury for a Special Mention in the Architizer’s A+ awards program in the Architecture+Sustainability category.
A new home in Santa Cruz recently completed by Feldman Architecture and Testorff Construction earned LEED Platinum status, the first home in Santa Cruz to achieve this status. The construction of the home was profiled in the local paper in an article that covers several unique features of the home plus the trials of pursuing LEED status. Stand by for professional photos soon.
Turning in house at Feldman, the firm is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month and GreenArchitecturenotes.com celebrated its 4th anniversary on Earth Day. Hannah Brown and Chris Kurrle were named Associates at the end of last year. Additionally, the firm continues to grow with Nik Rael joining our firm after moving to San Francisco from New York City. Nik’s profile is available on our website. The team enjoyed welcoming many of our collaborators at the firm’s Open House this holiday season. If you didn’t make it, photos of our new office are up on our website.
Caterpillar House by Feldman Architecture earned LEED Platinum certification in the LEED for Homes program in 2011. Photo by Joe Fletcher.
At Feldman Architecture, we have been fortunate to have clients coming the project kick-off meeting with a list of ‘green goals’ in mind. Today, with so much being published about sustainable design, the ideas that green design can be beautifully integrated into a project and promote technologies that help rather than harm the environment are widely disseminated.
One of the champions in the promotion of green design has been the United States Green Building Council, USGBC, with its well-known LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, program. Buildings which have earned the LEED designation are known to have met and exceeded the standards of the local, state and federal requirements for green design. Here in California, our Title 24 and local requirements, some of which even require that projects meet the Green Point Rating system administered by BuildItGreen, tend to be quite progressive in terms of protecting the environment, but LEED tends to push the green building practice steps further. (more…)
Historic photo of old growth Bald Cypress grove in Florida.
Sinker Cypress is one of the most stunning and beautiful woods that we at Arc Wood & Timbers have the honor to reclaim and custom mill for our clients. Its rich color ranges from deep honeycomb gold to dark olive green depending on the water regions where the logs are found. Sinker Cypress (also known as Deadhead Cypress, Heart Cypress, or River Recovered Cypress) describes harvested trees that sank as they floated down rivers in log rafts to the nearest sawmill. (more…)
It looks like Leslie’s tips on starting your own edible garden have garnered some serious attention. In the April 2013 issue of Sunset, one of Leslie’s projects is featured as one of ten ways to get planting this spring. You can get a taste of the article on their website, but make sure to check out the magazine for the full article.
The 1987 United Nations report “Our Common Future,” defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Since then the design community has debated the meanings and applicability of sustainability and corollary terms such as sustainable design, green architecture and high performance buildings. Sim Van der Ryn offers a definition for ecological design as “any form of design that minimizes environmentally destructive impact by integrating itself with living processes.” What these terms share is the hope for creation of a built environment that might lead to a kind of balance and stability in a world where we have very little of either. (more…)
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