World Photo Day + Architectural Photographers

World Photo Day hosted its first global, online gallery in 2010 with the goal to unite local and global communities in a worldwide celebration of photography.

This year’s event, held August 19th, marks the 175th anniversary of the first permanent photographic process patented and freely released to the world on August 19th, 1839. It encourages businesses, organizations and social groups across the world to leverage the power of photography by engaging their communities as part of a worldwide photography celebration held over August.

The gallery is open for submissions between August 19 – 26. Upload away!

In honour of World Photo Day 2014, ArchDaily, an online source of architectural news and inspiration, posted  “The 13 Architecture Photographers to Follow Now.” Here is a small sampling from the talented bunch…

Awasi Hotel, San Pedro de Atacama, Patagonia. Architect: Felipe Assadi & Francisca Pulido. Photo by Fernando Alda.

Awasi Hotel, San Pedro de Atacama, Patagonia. Architect: Felipe Assadi & Francisca Pulido. Photo by Fernando Alda.

Hotel Eso, Atacama Desert, Chile. Architect: Auer + Weber. Photo by Erieta Attali.

Hotel Eso, Atacama Desert, Chile. Architect: Auer + Weber. Photo by Erieta Attali.

Guangzhou Opera House. Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects. Photo by Iwan Baan.

Guangzhou Opera House. Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects. Photo by Iwan Baan.

Edificio de Viviendas con Proteccion Publica. Olalquiaga Arquitectos. Photo by Miguel de Guzmán.

Edificio de Viviendas con Proteccion Publica. Olalquiaga Arquitectos. Photo by Miguel de Guzmán.

MIT Media Lab, Cambridge. MA. Architect: Maki & Associates with Leers Weinzapfel. Photo by Anton Grassl.

MIT Media Lab, Cambridge. MA. Architect: Maki & Associates with Leers Weinzapfel. Photo by Anton Grassl.

Shaker Heights Private Residence, Ohio. Dimit Architects. Photo by Brad Feinknopf.

Shaker Heights Private Residence, Ohio. Dimit Architects. Photo by Brad Feinknopf.

Natural Swimming Pool, Riehen, Switzerland. Architects: Herzog & de Meuron. Photo by Leonardo Finotti.

Natural Swimming Pool, Riehen, Switzerland. Architects: Herzog & de Meuron. Photo by Leonardo Finotti.

Casas na Praia da Baleia, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Architect: Studio Arthur Casas. Photo by Fernando Guerra.

Casas na Praia da Baleia, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Architect: Studio Arthur Casas. Photo by Fernando Guerra.

Museo de la Evolución Humana, Burgos, Spain. Architect: Juan Navarro Baldeweg. Photo by Thomas Mayer.

Museo de la Evolución Humana, Burgos, Spain. Architect: Juan Navarro Baldeweg. Photo by Thomas Mayer.

Serpentine Pavilion, London, UK. Architect: Smiljan Radic. Photo by Cristobal Palma.

Serpentine Pavilion, London, UK. Architect: Smiljan Radic. Photo by Cristobal Palma.

Vitra Haus, Weil am Rhein, Germany. Architect: Herzog & de Meuron. Photo by Fran Parente.

Vitra Haus, Weil am Rhein, Germany. Architect: Herzog & de Meuron. Photo by Fran Parente.

Rey Juan Carlos Hospital, Móstoles, Madrid. Architect: Rafael de La-Hoz Castanys. Photo by Duccio Malagamba.

Rey Juan Carlos Hospital, Móstoles, Madrid. Architect: Rafael de La-Hoz Castanys. Photo by Duccio Malagamba.

Seacoast Village on Cape Ann

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Lobster fleet

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Gloucester MA seaside

Creative Thinking Adapts a King West Commercial Building

A version of this post appeared in the August 12th edition of UrbanToronto

Another adaptive reuse project has won out in Downtown Toronto. The modest building at 545 King Street West is being rehabilitated by Hullmark and will see new restaurants and offices occupy its five floors. It is a refreshing change from the tactics of some developers who, keen to maximize real estate values, can succumb to demolishing the historic fabric of the neighbourhood rather than considering the role adaptive reuse can play in the city.

The street has radically transformed in the past decade. Its potential was unleashed back in the mid-90s when changes to zoning allowed King-Spadina (one of the “Two Kings” reinvestment areas), once-restricted to industrial, to open up to new uses. Since then, King Street W has been flooded with award-winning restaurants, corporate headquarters, nightclubs and condo buildings. The spin-off effect since the planning policy was introduced has seen this creatively oriented and vibrant part of the city emerge as a highly desirable urban lifestyle community.

Sketch of proposed exterior graphics at 545 King St W, image courtesy of Quadrangle Architects

Sketch of proposed exterior graphics at 545 King St W, image courtesy of Quadrangle

Originally built in 1921, with a rear addition completed in 1981, 545 King Street W is characterized by brick and heavy timber beam construction, once commonly found in the former Garment District. No drastic changes were made to the exterior in the Quadrangle Architects-led renovation. It is constituted of an updated façade treatment with new windows and sills, cleaned and repaired brickwork and the addition of graphics and material accents. Because of the building’s narrow proportions and the existence of windows on its side elevations, the designers were inspired to build on the idea of natural ventilation. Casements replace existing glazing, with coloured fritted glass emphasizing their operable function and animating the façades. “Our intention was a subtle augmentation of the building while maintaining the existing character to add a new layer of contemporary expression,” says Richard Witt, a principal at Quadrangle.

Existing building at 545 King St W, photo courtesy of Hullmark

North elevation of existing building at 545 King St W, photo courtesy of Hullmark

Rendering of updated north elevation at 545 King St W, image courtesy of Hullmark

Rendering of updated north elevation at 545 King St W, image courtesy of Hullmark

The interiors, however, are getting a major facelift. The building was stripped back to its exterior walls and bare floors and ceilings, which presented the architects with the opportunity to completely reinvent its spaces. Popular restaurants Pizzeria Libretto and Porchetta & Co. will open up secondary locations on the lower level, and a software company is to set up shop on the 5th. BrightLane, a co-working space for entrepreneurs and start-ups, will continue to occupy the remaining levels and its members have access to the 3rd floor roof terrace. The top floor has a 2-storey volume office space capped with a skylight.

Gutting of typical floor at 545 King St W, photo courtesy of Quadrangle Architects

Gutting of typical floor at 545 King St W, photo courtesy of Quadrangle Architects

A particularly interesting angle to the project is the revitalization of the dreary 153’ long by 12’ wide laneway immediately adjacent. It previously served a warehouse loading dock at the rear that the architects have transformed into the main commercial entrance and new ‘front door’. (The building’s existing ‘front door’ on King Street W becomes a convenience entrance for the upper levels.) The flanking laneway, once dedicated to deliveries, is converted to a pedestrian area with a restaurant patio and spill-out space from the new lobby.

Existing alleyway adjacent to 545 King St W, photo courtesy of Quadrangle Architects

Existing alleyway adjacent to 545 King St W, photo courtesy of Quadrangle Architects

BrightLane, the building’s primary tenant, hosted an ideas competition seeking inspiration from the public for ways to make the narrow, marginal space more appealing. “We’re looking for something interesting and sustainable that can be easily implemented,” said its General Manager, Susy Renzi. The call for submissions was made via video headlined ‘Can you make this sad space AWESOME?’ It drew over 180 entries from local and international creatives, whose ideas ran the gamut from forest oasis, outdoor market, and playgrounds for adults (with and without a giant waterslide).

The winning scheme proposes to brighten the space by suspending fragments of primary-coloured acrylic in wavy shapes above it. As the sun travels over the lane, coloured moving shadows are cast onto surrounding surfaces; the experience being equally evocative at nighttime, when illuminated by floodlights. The canopy of colour represents the energy and interdisciplinary environment that BrightLane fosters. The simple but dynamic concepts applied to the façades and laneway provide better visual connection into the building and extend the street life.

The winning submission from Brightlane's ideas competition will be implemented in Spring 2015

The winning submission will be implemented in Spring 2015

The difficulties associated with adaptive reuse can be a deterrent to many developers. Unforeseen discoveries on site – from mould to hidden fuel tanks – can have negative impacts on cost and schedule and the added complexities often require creative solutions. Despite the challenges, the benefits are multi-fold. Rehabilitated and repurposed buildings not only help meet city-mandated density requirements, but they contribute to the fabric of city life and the continuity of collective memory.

With a long-time specialty in retrofit and adaptive reuse, Quadrangle brings agility and nimbleness when working with existing conditions. A synergy clearly exists between the developer and the architects – this is, after all, the third collaboration of similar objective between them. “Hullmark understands that buildings like this have value and that value is worth working hard to unlock”, says Witt. Under the direction of Jeff Hull, Hullmark’s vision as city builders, previously known for their large residential developments, has taken a more urban focus and set its sights on high quality inner-city tenants. By renovating and turning a former warehouse into a vibrant employment and amenity hub, the building both reflects its history and becomes relevant to the future of King W.

Other than the alleyway installation, the 545 King Street West project is scheduled for completion this summer.

Stephanie Calvet is an architect and a writer specializing in architecture and design. She can be found at www.stephaniecalvet.com

Boston’s Greenway

On a recent trip to Boston – a city I once called home – I visited a series of linear parks collectively known as the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. Left by the razing of a former raised highway, the public spaces thread through the downtown core, re-stitching together neighbourhoods and providing visual and pedestrian connections that had been severed over half a century ago.

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Each segment within the Greenway has its own spatial vocabulary and character. Primary emphasis was placed on the public realm; the spaces are complete with promenades, plazas, landscaped gardens, recreational fields, sculptures, information pavilions, splash fountains and a carousel.

The Greenway is the most visible result of the 16-year project dubbed the Big Dig, one of the most ambitious feats of construction and urban design ever undertaken in a US city. For 50 years, the I-93, a rusting elevated six-lane roadway, slashed through downtown Boston. It separated the waterfront from the rest of the city and isolated the North End, running right through the middle of the business district on a great sweeping curved viaduct. (From my seat on the Green Line train, I could look directly into people’s office windows.)

For 50 years, the Central Artery has sliced through the heart of downtown Boston. Photo courtesy of The Boston Globe.

For 50 years, the Central Artery has sliced through the heart of downtown Boston. Photo courtesy of The Boston Globe.

The colossal endeavour saw the dismantling of a stretch of the I-93 and its rerouting within a 3.5mile tunnel buried beneath the city. The project faced every sort of challenge, from political and financial difficulties to environmental and engineering obstacles. But no one is looking back. With the massive barrier removed, the resultant green space, though flanked on both sides by a ground- level roadway, reunites neighbourhoods and acts as a crossroads for people travelling between them.

Greenway District Planning Study, image courtesy of Greenberg Consultants Inc.

Greenway District Planning Study, image courtesy of Greenberg Consultants Inc.

The Greenway. Image courtesy of The Boston Globe.

The Greenway. Image courtesy of The Boston Globe.

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For Torontonians, the Greenway illustrates the social and environmental benefits of the open space network and serves as an interesting example of what this city might do were it to take down the Gardiner Expressway (shown below). Toronto: Look and Learn!

The Gardiner Expressway is downtown Toronto's main commuter artery, cutting an elevated swath through the core. Image courtesy of the City of Toronto.

The Gardiner Expressway is downtown Toronto’s main commuter artery, cutting an elevated swath through the core. Image courtesy of the City of Toronto.

On the other side of Boston’s Fort Point Channel, I checked out the Seaport District, a hotbed of construction and urban infill. The area has gone big with hotels, office buildings, and restaurants. Adjacent to it is the revitalized neighbourhood of Fort Point. New eateries have set up shop here but, you can still find artists’ studios and design firms holed up in its brick warehouses…

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Manhattan’s Hudson River Park

On a recent trip to NYC, I saw wonderful urban planning strategies at Hudson River Park. It offers a huge variety of recreational activities and landscaped public spaces throughout its 550-acre footprint and sets a useful precedent for the ongoing development of Toronto’s waterfront.

Canada’s largest city’s skyline has been rapidly changing, in part due to a blitz of condo construction. Guided by Waterfront Toronto, the city has spent billions to revitalize a once heavily industrial lakefront and transform it into beautiful and sustainable new communities and parks. Now a private entity is proposing to expand a small inner-city island airport on the waterfront through jet aircraft and extended runways, paving 500m into the harbour and Lake Ontario.

Below are images of Hudson River Park in NYC. I imagine what the area would look like with an airport disgorging thousands of passengers per day. I think of its impact on neighbouring communities and services, on cultural activities, and on the quiet enjoyment of the waterfront by citizens and visitors alike. Alarming.

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Public spaces like the High Line and the 9/11 Memorial grounds are well worth a mention, and a visit, as well.

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The Freedom Tower

9/11 Memorial