If Saskatoon ever gets a CFL team (and sells our financial future in the process), I hope it looks like this (with grass instead of sand). You would have cattle grazing on the roof which would work well until they got spooked and came down over the roof during the middle of a key third down conversion. Then again, it could liven things up a bit.
Is this Dr. Evil’s newest secret lair? Actually, the “Rock Stadium” is a real concept for a sporting venue at Jebel Hafeet, a prominent crag located about 14 miles south of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi city of Al Ain. It’s not as ridiculous an idea as it initially may seem. Jebel Hafeet is not a barren, menacing peak like K2, but a popular tourist spot with a luxury hotel and pools fed by a natural hot spring. A stadium might fit right in geographically and socially: After all, the Emirati people love soccer (fine, football) just as much as anyone, welcoming the FIFA Club World Cup in 2009 and 2010 and the organization’s under-17 players this fall.
The stadium was designed by MZ Architects, a Middle Eastern firm with offices in Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Lebanon and elsewhere. The architects started out wanting to build a stadium in the Al Ain desert, but once they visited the area they were struck by the imposing and regal form of the mountain, which reminded them of a Greek amphitheatre. So they decided the best plan would be to hollow out the stone, using natural hills for seating and a grand entrance that sinks into the ground like one of the mountain’s many caves.
Indianapolis-based Heartland Design is working on the $22 million Stadium Lofts project, which broke ground a year ago this month. “We preserved quite a bit of the stadium,” said James Cordell, principal at Heartland, noting his belief that the project is the first conversion of a stadium to housing. “It’s just a very unusual thing to do.”
Bush Stadium’s stone art deco entrance and flanking brick walls have been incorporated into the new building, and the stadium’s steel canopy forms the roof. The existing structure has been shored up and windows added to the brick walls. To create space for a wood-frame structure housing 134 residences on three stories, the team removed the stadium’s staggered concrete seating platforms and support girders.
Bush Stadium’s unique shape, it turns out, makes for varied apartment layouts. “There are some very bizarre units in this building that we expect will appeal to young professionals and students,” said Cordell. A new glass-and-metal panel wall opens on to the former baseball diamond, with balconies overlooking the infield. Third-floor units will feature tall ceilings with exposed, original steel girders.
The Fords’ new company, Shade House Development, builds sustainable townhomes in downtown Houston. Shade’s flagship project, Row on 25th, was profiled in the February issue of Dwell. The row of townhomes in Houston Heights, a hip-ish downtown neighborhood, is a study in careful compromises–both economically and environmentally. “We feel there is a real desire for this kind of living,” Matthew told me recently over email. “We, as a firm, try to look beyond spread sheets and historical data to offer solutions for problems people may not even know they have.”
Back in 2011, the Fords (working with an investor friend, the airport developer Holden Shannon) bought a plot of land in the Heights and built a single town home on it. Shannon stayed in the unit whenever he was in town, making suggestions about the design that ultimately led to the final, revised layouts for the other eight homes they planned to build on the site. The two-story, 1,900-square foot homes are simple and light, with silhouettes inspired by Hugh Newell Jacobsen, a champion amongst vernacular American architecture fans. “The simplicity and privacy offered by Row is in direct response to the complexity and loss of privacy we are all experiencing due to being interconnected and ‘on’ all the time,” Ford adds.
As I was walking home I noticed the south side of the Holiday Inn and I was stunned that whoever built the building was able to get away with how these panels look. Up close it looks like adhesive (you can see trowel marks on it) but it really looks horrible. I am biased against the building (I find it ugly and it kills street life) but it makes me wonder if the outside of the building looks this bad, what is the inside of the building going to look like.
Ugly architecture, no street life, and a flawed finish. It fits right in with a lot of other buildings in downtown Saskatoon.
The City is inviting Calgarian’s of all ages to use their imaginations and creativity to play with an iconic toy that will help turn stations into places.
In an effort to design communities that require less time behind the wheel of a car, you’re invited to show us what you think Transit Oriented Development (TOD) could look like by building miniature communities using LEGO building blocks.
Transit oriented development (TOD) is a walkable, mixed-use form of community development located within a 600m radius of a Calgary Transit Station (LRT or BRT), creating convenient, accessible and vibrant neighbourhoods for residents and visitors.
Our first of several TOD events scheduled throughout the summer attracted hundreds of ‘builders’ and observers, and no two designs were alike.
In case you wonder how Switzerland has kept itself from being invaded over the years, here is how.
McPhee points to small moments of "fake stonework, concealing the artillery behind [them]," that dot Switzerland’s Alpine geology, little doors that will pop open to reveal internal cannons that will then blast the country’s roads to smithereens. Later, passing under a mountain bridge, McPhee notices "small steel doors in one pier" hinting that the bridge "was ready to blow. It had been superceded, however, by an even higher bridge, which leaped through the sky above—a part of the new road to Simplon. In an extreme emergency, the midspan of the new bridge would no doubt drop on the old one."
It’s a strange kind of national infrastructure, one that is at its most rigorously functional—one that truly fulfills its promises—when in a state of cascading self-imposed collapse. I could easily over-quote my way to the end of my internet service here, but it’s a story worth reading. There are, for instance, hidden bomb shelters everywhere in an extraordinary application of dual-use construction. "All over Switzerland," according to McPhee, "in relatively spacious and quiet towns, are sophisticated underground parking garages with automatic machines that offer tickets like tongues and imply a level of commerce that is somewhere else. In a nuclear emergency, huge doors would slide closed with the town’s population inside."
Describing titanic underground fortresses—"networks of tunnels, caverns, bunkers, and surface installations, each spread through many tens of square miles"—McPhee briefly relates the story of a military reconnaissance mission on which he was able to tag along, involving a hydroelectric power station built inside a mountain, accessible by ladders and stairs; the battalion tasked with climbing down into it thus learns "that if a company of soldiers had to do it they could climb the mountain on the inside."
In any case, the book‘s vision of the Alps as a massively constructed—or, at least, geotechnically augmented and militarily amplified—terrain is quite heady, including the very idea that, in seeking to protect itself from outside invaders, Switzerland is prepared to dynamite, shell, bulldoze, and seal itself into a kind of self-protective oblivion, hiding out in artificially expanded rocky passes and concrete super-basements as all roads and bridges into and out of the country are instantly transformed into landslides and dust.
Luc Ferrandez’s last bicycle was a Kona, a sturdy model with thick tires, ideal for hauling heavy loads. During his 2009 campaign as the Projet Montréal candidate for the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough, he would hook it to a trailer piled with a laptop, a projector, a collapsible screen, and (this being Montreal) a couple of bottles of rosé. After setting up his equipment next to a café terrace, he would distribute paper cups and launch a PowerPoint slide show of streets and squares in Copenhagen, Paris, and Madrid, as well as historical photos of local boulevards, all unencumbered by traffic. He figures it was these partys de trottoir, or sidewalk parties—during which he made the case that Montreal could be as clean, green, and safe as any place in Europe—that won him the mayoralty of the city’s most populous district. His mountain bike, alas, didn’t survive the campaign.
“I was having a discussion with a citizen,” recalls Ferrandez. “I left my bike against a wall, unlocked. When I came back an hour later, it was gone.” These days, his main mode of transportation is an Opus, which has the upright handlebars and broad saddle of a bike you would expect to find leaning against a canal-side railing in Amsterdam.
I like his philosophy
“I accept that some people think I’m the devil!” Ferrandez shouted over his shoulder, making a right onto rue de Brébeuf. “For them, the Plateau doesn’t exist. It is just a place to be driven through. I don’t give a shit about these people. They’ve abandoned the idea that humans can live together.”
Ferrandez’s vision of what the borough is, and could be, seems almost exalted. “The Plateau is an Italian cathedral. It’s a forest. It’s something to protect, something sacred. I don’t want it to become a place where people come to live in a condo with triple-glazed windows for a couple of years. This has to be a place where people can be comfortable walking to the bakery, walking to school, walking to the park—where they want to stay to raise a family.”
Sometimes when Theresa Hwang is visiting a project site, maybe the 102-unit Michael Maltzan apartments rising from the corner of East 6th Street and Maple Avenue on the edge of downtown Los Angeles, pedestrians will stop and gawk and inquire about what’s coming.
"What are you building?" they invariably want to know.
"Can we move in?"
"Well," Hwang then responds, "are you formerly homeless?"
And this always throws people for a loop. Hwang’s organization, the Skid Row Housing Trust, has been renovating and providing permanent supportive housing for the city’s homeless for more than 20 years. But more recently, dating back to a first collaboration with Maltzan about eight years ago, the Trust has been building its own developments that remarkably mimic market-rate condos. Really striking market-rate condos.
The strategy is built on the idea that high design matters for the homeless, too, because it changes the dynamic between these buildings and their residents – and between both of them and the communities in which they’re located. Nothing can deflate the NIMBYism that inevitably accompanies social housing quite like a building that looks like this:
Compare this to how we build shelters in Saskatoon and the rest of Canada. Design makes a difference in mental health and these designs are spectacular.
The end result from a design perspective was quite satisfying. Chris took a WordPress theme and pounded it into shape for us, made a lot of changes, and helped me understand the potential that the site could become. That part was a lot of fun.
The not so fun part was writing almost 100 pages of content from scratch. That was my job and it was a bigger job than you can imagine. There was the writing, the editing, the hyperlinking, the changing the site structure so the links all broke, fixing all of the links, finding spelling mistakes along the way, finding photos and video, being harassed for being too long winded, and trying to decide if I should sell my soul and write content that is more SEO friendly (ummm, no). So yeah, it was like writing 100 columns. I am glad it is done and we are happy how the project turned out. Of course the depressing part of it is that everyone else is like, “umm, we have a website?” which makes the process a little depressing but I’ll try not to think about that.
There are a couple of things that I would love to point out.
Our blog: I imported in the entries from our old blog by hand which was a lot of work. That being said I am glad that no one liked the old blog software and never used it as it would have meant a lot more work if they did.
A staff directory with pages for each of the executive staff: Each staff page will feature content particular to them and their job responsibilities over the next couple of months.
Now that the framework is there, look for it to be added to over the next couple of years. We have a lot of content, stories, and information that we want to add. Thanks to Chris Enns for making it happen.
This is a weblog about urban issues, technology, & culture published by Jordon Cooper since 2001. You can read about me and the site here and if you are looking for one of my columns in The StarPhoenix, you can find them here.
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JordonCooper.com is a weblog written by Jordon Cooper. The opinions expressed on JordonCooper.com are my own; they do not reflect the views of my employer, my friends, or even my wife. Once I have had enough time to think about them and enough time has passed, they may no longer even reflect my current thinking.