New Work – Martha’s Vineyard Airport

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We have been selected – as part of the JACOBS Team – by the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission to assist the Airport in executing aviation planning, design and construction phase services under the Airport’s Capital Improvement Plan for the fiscal years 2014 – 2017.

martha-s-vineyard-airport-code-mvy-men-s-t-shirt-black-solid-design_designMartha’s Vineyard Airport (MVY) is operated by the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission. The Airport provides air carrier and general aviation services to the island and is a vital link for island businesses. It is located on 675+ acres and is comprised of one FBO and more than 70 tenants who operate private businesses on leased airport property.  There are two active runways that serve Martha’s Vineyard Airport – Runway 6-24 and Runway 15-33.  The airport provides or is host to a variety of services: including airport management, aircraft parking, commercial service passenger terminal services, aircraft rental, flight training, aircraft charters, and aviation fueling.

Stay tuned for our developments with the JACOBS Team at MVY.

Bastille Day – Boston Style

Bastille-Day_2013Joyeux Le Quatorze Juillet!

For those who may have missed it, our friends and client at the French Cultural Center of Boston (aka: Alliance Francaise) celebrated French Independence in style (once again) this past Friday with their neighborhood-rocking 5-hour block party on Marlborough Street, in the heart of the Back Bay of Boston.  There’s nothing that rocks the Boston Brahmin neighborhood quite like the annual FCC-sponsored Bastille Day soiree featuring some of the best emerging talent in global Francophile music.

In 2010, we – in association with Hartnessvision of Cambridge | MA – prepared for the French Cultural Center (FCC) Executive staff and Board a feasibility study for the redevelopment of the FCC library into a state-of-the-art meeting and learning facility that helps further propel the FCC’s reputation as one of the leading French “e-libraries” outside of France.  Our design proposal, “L’Espace Portail” or “Gateway Space,” reconceives the library as a virtual information and social gateway to connect the FCC members in Boston with other global communities within the Alliance Francaise network and beyond.

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Perspective – interior of proposed Young Adults room, French Cultural Center of Boston Library. Image courtesy Hartnessvision.

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Partial elevation – external elevator concept study, French Cultural Center of Boston Library.

Key challenges for this design study included addressing Massachusetts Architectural Access Board (MAAB, 521 CMR) requirements to provide universal access to the public and educational facilities to literally broaden the FCC’s access to the Greater Boston Community, and vice-versa.  The transformation of the extant library facilities into a new and globally interconnected facility – both virtually and physically – is an important step for the FCC as it plans for its next century in its Charles Brigham-designed 1860s building.

CREDITS

Design Team:   Hartnessvision, XChange Architects

Cost Estimating:  Rider Levett Bucknall

Constructibility: Sleeping Dog Properties

All photos, images and drawings copyright Hartnessvision, French Cultural Center of Boston and XChange Architects LLC, unless otherwise noted.

Celebrating our first 5 years!

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On this first of July, special thanks go out to our friends, family, collaborators and clients who have collectively made possible these first five years.

Our Clients:

@ Union Restaurant, Abu Dhabi Airports Company, Allston Village Main Streets, Big City / Patron’s Watering Hole, Town of Brookline, Brookline Winter’s Farmers Market, City of New York (Department of Buildings), Coolidge Corner Theater Foundation, Childrens Playhouse, Cupcake Battery, Town of Dedham, Diane von Furstenberg, French Cultural Center of Boston, NEXUS | The Green Roundtable (now the SPI), Kollel of Greater Boston, Kumon Learning Centers of Brookline & Needham, Leeder Management Company, Little Children Schoolhouse, Michael’s Deli, MIXX Frozen Yogurt Fenway, MJ Ready, Myung Dong First Avenue, Provincetown Municipal Airport, REIC, Refuge Cafe, UBurger, WiCH!T Sandwich and Yoki Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar.

Our Collaborators:

BLW Engineers, Blair Hines Design Associates, CRES LLC, David King Architects, Deerns Consulting Engineers, Evergreen Group, Ex Nihilo Studio, Hartnessvision, JACOBS, James Carr Architecture + Design,  L/R Construction, KDTurner Design, Klopfer Martin Design Group, Krefetz Law Firm, Lewis Lighting Design, Ricondo & Associates, Rider Levett Bucknall, R.G. Vanderweil Engineers, RJ Davisson + Associates, RM Klein Consulting, Roberto Farren Photography, Robert Wear R.A., Rolf Jensen Associates, RRC Engineering, Sam Zax Associates, Sleeping Dog Properties, Weidlinger Associates and VAV International.

Our Alumni and Past Interns:

Amanda Baker, Jonace Bascon, Wen-Feng Feng, David Giancarli, Lynn Hsu, and Nicole Marple.

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Reprogramming the City

Tripod Mod - overview

“Tripod MOD(ule)” – Perspective view of the sidewalk shed system designed by XChange Architects; a finalist entry in the 2009 Urban Shed International Design Competition in New York City.

Scott Burnham’s exhibition – Reprogramming the City: Opportunities for Urban Infrastructure – showcasing over 20 provocative examples of imaginative re-use and re-purposing of urban infrastructure, opened last week at the BSA | Space – the Boston Society of Architect’s (BSA) new home at Atlantic Wharf.  The exhibition, which promises to “reveal the city as a creative platform for new approaches to urban design,” will be showing at the BSA | Space until the end of September this year.

As architects and urbanists engaged in the design challenges of the public realm, we are excited to see exhibitions and discussions such as the ones being facilitated at the BSA by Mr. Burnham and hope this generates more hearty discourse on the opportunities for revitalization, rehabilitation and re-imagination of the extant infrastructural systems in our global cities.

Over the years, our studio has explored similar themes of re-engaging extant infrastructure within our urban condition to identify unique ways to experience and re-think these systems.  From the everyday New York sidewalk construction scaffolding shed to a sidewalk planter box to an airport security fence, we believe that much of our pre-existing urban infrastructural conditions can be reconceived in profoundly impactful ways that can enhance sustainable practices, improve operations, and positively contribute to the pedestrian experience and design of our streetscapes.

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PopUp Cafe – Perspective view of the retractable sidewalk cafe and planter system designed by XChange Architects in 2009.  The prototype was awarded a 2009 BSA Design Excellence Award for Unbuilt Architecture and a 2010 Washington DC AIA Chapter Unbuilt Award.

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“Project Runway” – a regenerative airfield concept designed by XChange Architects.  The project is a jury selection in the WPA 2.0 Competition online gallery exhibition sponsored by UCLA’s UrbanLab.

All photos, drawings and images copyright XChange Architects LLC.

School’s Out – Construction’s In

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Perspective view – proposed interior, main Dedham High School entrance

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Image – existing conditions: DHS main entrance. Image courtesy James Carr AIA

As the Massachusetts public school year is coming to an end, we are grateful for an exciting school year collaborating on design concepts for potential renovations at Dedham High School in Dedham | MA as a subconsultant to James Carr Architecture + Design in Cambridge, MA.  The existing high school building, built over 55 years ago,  may substantially benefit from modest upgrades that will improve way-finding, lighting, visibility, as well as access to multi-media information technology.  Using new trophy display glass partitions with integrated bench seating, the redesign seeks to transform the quotidien entrance into a unique gathering opportunity for the school community.

We are delighted to have had this opportunity to work on our first high school project (which is also our first collaborative effort with James Carr Architecture + Design) and are hopeful that the initial design charette concepts and planning recommendations will be reviewed favorably by the School Committee.

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Perspective view – proposed Dedham High School exterior redevelopment concept

All photos, drawings and images copyright James Carr Architecture + Design and XChange Architects LLC.

Rethinking the Airport Passenger Experience – The BaltiCloud Terminal

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Perspective view of arrivals concourse level with “cloud” EFTE roof structure above – Riga Terminal design concept for AirBaltic Airlines.  Rendering courtesy of Hartnessvision, in collaboration with XChange Architects

As we kick off the busy summer travel season, we were interested to read Vanity Fair architecture contributor and former New York Times architecture critic Paul Goldberger’s observations of the modern passenger experience in today’s airports.  In a CNN article, entitled “Airports where the architecture soars, ” he laments that there really is no “there” in many of today’s passenger terminals; these proverbial 21st Century global gateways that (in many cases) now fill the role formerly held by the grand urban rail stations in welcoming arriving visitors.

Mr. Goldberger noted:

Where they exist at airports, the more impressive spaces are usually located in the airports’ departure halls. Those passengers are rushing to clear security and catch flights and don’t have time to appreciate their space. The arrivals hall usually doesn’t inspire much.

For baggage access reasons and the sad reality that most arriving passengers are generally motivated to get as far away from the airport as possible, it is not all that unusual to find arrivals halls – with baggage claim devices and customs screening facilities – located on the very bottom and being fairly uninspiring spaces to greet travelers into a city.  Many new airport passenger terminals are reconsidering this paradigm, both at airports with a large proportion of travelers ending their journey at the airport as well as those with a significant population of passengers connecting to other flights where the arriving “gateway” experience and the immigration / customs clearance process really matters and may affect passenger decisions when selecting air travel alternatives.

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Airside aerial of the proposed “BaltiCloud” Terminal, evening view with downtown Riga in the background.

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Preliminary geometric studies of the EFTE “cloud” roof in 3D Studio MAX.  Screenshots courtesy of Hartnessvision LLC.

In a joint effort to develop a new terminal design concept in collaboration with Hartnessvision LLC, for a new passenger terminal in Riga, Latvia, for their primary air carrier, AirBaltic, we chose to literally invert the sectional arrangement of the arrivals and departures flows as well as the way we conceive the roof of the passenger terminal building.  We were intrigued by the possibilities of an EFTE plastic membrane in offering a virtually roof-less airport experience.  Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene, or EFTE, is a highly durable and tensile plastic membrane with a high range of temperature and climatic tolerance.  Made famous in the 2008 Water Cube pavillion in the Beijing Olympics, we believe very strongly in the possibilities of integrating this dynamic enclosure material to “dematerialize” the roof.

Our terminal design concept, which we refer to as the “BaltiCloud” –  a play on the Air Baltic identity and the notion of the building as a simple floating cloud – is characterized by 2 simple ideas of re-introducing passengers with the unique sensibilities of air travel:  first, the inversion of the arrivals (above) and departures (below) experience and second, the introduction of a simple, but multi-functional cloud roof serving to both eliminate the all-too-common dreary travel experience while using EFTE air pillows of varying opacity to serve as a way-finding device.

Without compromising functionality, safety, and operational excellence, we like to think that design is the glue that synthesizes all of the core elements that define successful, world-class transportation facilities.  These lines of enquiry provided us a vehicle to debate and rethink the airport passenger building type and most importantly, the potential re-imagination of the passenger air travel experience.

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Exploded axonometric view of the proposed terminal facilities – Riga International Airport, Latvia

All photographs, images and drawings copyright Hartnessvision LLC and XChange Architects LLC, unless otherwise noted.

Take Back the Streets (Part Deux): UBurger Faneuil Hall

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Proposed sidewalk cafe,  UBurger at Faneuil Hall – 16-18 North Street

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Existing sidewalk conditions at 16-18 North Street, adjacent to the Millennium Hotel at Faneuil Hall

It’s the first of June and time for our restaurant clients to get their sidewalk cafes up and running.  We’re delighted to have been invited by the Management Team at UBurger at Faneuil Hall to help design their new sidewalk cafe this spring and assist in renewing the establishment’s lease agreement with the City of Boston Public Improvement Commission and Department of Public Works.

New restaurant applicants in the City of Boston shall contact the City’s Public Improvement Commission (PIC) to initiate the application and approvals process for their sidewalk cafe.  For those taking over existing restaurant occupancies: 1) check your Common Victualler (CV) license to verify if you have been approved for outdoor seating, 2) determine if the previous establishment was issued a valid sidewalk cafe permit and agreement, and 3) if you have both, provide evidence of both documents and prepare a letter requesting the renewal of the permit.  Please consult with your licensed design professionals (e.g. engineers, landscape architects, and architects) for assistance in the design and permitting process.  Here’s to a spectacular outdoor dining season in Boston!

PLANTER DESIGN CONCEPT – Taking advantage of remaining interior metal siding material left over from the interior construction, we are re-purposing them into our sidewalk planters to help tie-in the sidewalk cafe into the overall interior architecture.  All DIY legwork, elbowgrease, haggling and heartache courtesy of Co-owner, George Gianarikas.

UBurger - planter concept

All photographs, images and drawings copyright XChange Architects LLC, unless otherwise noted.