RIBA announces Stirling Prize shortlist and more

Deborah K. Vick


Happy Friday! In today’s edition of the Daily digest, New York’s infrastructure gets a passing grade, the 2022 Stirling Prize shortlist makes the rounds,  an iconic Central Park eatery announces plans to close, and more. Here’s what you need to know as we head into another hot and humid weekend:

RIBA unveils 2022 Stirling Prize shortlist

Earlier this week, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) announced the six projects shortlisted for its prestigious Stirling Prize. This year, the prize placed community and climate-conscious design and construction at the forefront of its criteria. Four of the projects on the (London-heavy) shortlist offer new spaces for community building and learning, including college campuses, primary schools, and community centers.

Additionally, RIBA Journal shined a spotlight on 100 Liverpool Street by Hopkins Architects; the project is a transformative refurbishment of a 1980s office building and U.K. property company British Land’s first net zero carbon development, one that RIBA Journal hailed as “leading the pack of high ambition refurbs.”

Below is the complete list:

100 Liverpool Street by Hopkins Architects (London); 

Forth Valley College – Falkirk Campus by Reiach and Hall Architects (Falkirk, Scotland);

Hackney New Primary School and 333 Kingsland Road by Henley Halebrown (London);

Orchard Gardens, Elephant Park by Panter Hudspith Architects (London);

Sands End Arts and Community Centre by Mae Architects (London);

The New Library, Magdalene College by Niall McLaughlin Architects (Cambridge)

The 2022 RIBA Stirling Prize winner will be announced on October 13. The 2021 Stirling Prize went to Dublin-based Grafton Architects’ Town House at Kingston University London.

Investigation finds that Pittsburgh property inspectors are housed in a hazardous building

The Pittsburgh Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections (PLI) is in charge of all things property and license maintenance. The municipal agency is currently housed in a crumbling building that would violate the very standards that they reinforce.

Although a number of city employees in the department work offsite, local ABC affiliate WTAE reported that there are still a few dozen PLI workers in the Robin Civic Building, a 115-year-old Gothic structure that looms over Ross Street. In addition to the crumbing brick and torn plaster, the city received a memo from the building manager, stating that “The condition of the heating system has created an unsafe condition at the building for both tenants and contractors.”

The memo was sent two months ago in May and despite being aware of the hazard, the city has not done any air quality testing (officials didn’t believe that the warning was a cause for concern) and has required employees to continue to work in the space—even the ones with respiratory issues, according to one city worker.

Locals don’t seem to be too pleased either. “Typical hypocrisy, right? They go around telling you your building is not safe or whatever and they can’t keep their own things in check,” said local property owner Marc Brands.

H/t to Action News 4

MVRDV completes a pair of two-toned residential towers in The Hague

A pair of eye-catching residential high-rises designed by MVRDV have been completed in the Netherlands third-largest city, The Hague. While the bodies of the two apartment towers, named the Grotius Towers, are relatively straight, their tops appear to “crumble” with setbacks and terraces located at varying heights. When viewed from different perspectives the buildings’ shapes and forms morph.

The faces of the towers are wrapped in a natural stone and bamboo composite that changes color as the buildings rise, with gray tones at the base and shades of tan on the upper parts. While The Grotius Towers occupy a tight footprint with an existing roadway cutting through the site, the architects were still able to create new squares around the buildings, offering connectivity to nearby public transit.

The sizes of the apartments vary as do the price points; 114 of the 655 units being allocated for affordable rent, according to a press release from the Rotterdam-based firm. Each of the units has its own dedicated outdoor space including expansive terraces located on the upper floors. In addition to outdoor space, the towers offer residents a number of sustainably-minded features including 1,500 bike parking spaces and a robust heat recovery system. Residents will also have access to an app for connecting with other building occupants.

“The ‘village’ at the top literally crowns the design. In addition to the view, this stack of terraces also allows easy encounters between residents,” said MVRDV Founding Partner Winy Maas. “The design makes your neighbours more approachable; tenants will soon feel as if they live on the ground floor, casually inviting each other for a glass of wine or dinner.”

Restaurant at Loeb Boathouse to close in October

The Loeb Boathouse in New York’s Central Park survived the pandemic—only to be bested by inflation. The iconic restaurant, famous for its picturesque lakeside views and a number of film and television cameos, will serve its last round of indulgent brunches before closing its doors on October 16. The city-owned boathouse itself, built in the 1950s to replace an earlier structure designed by Calvert Vaux, will not close and rowboat rentals will be still available.

The restaurant had been back in operation for a little over a year after reopening in March 2021; last week, Dean J. Poll filed paperwork, notifying the city of the establishment’s closing and the 163 employees that will be laid off. In the notice, Poll stated that the closure was “[d]ue to rising labor and costs of goods.”

However, the establishment’s closing may not mean an indefinite end for fine dining at the charming boathouse. The city’s Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Crystal Howard told the New York Times in an emailed statement that the agency plans to find a replacement for the storied restaurant “as soon as possible.”

New York’s infrastructure receives an overall grade of C from the ASCE

Infrastructure grades are in for the Empire State. New York received an overall grade of C from the state chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). For comparison, Illinois received a C- on this year’s infrastructure report card and America at large received a C- in 2021.

On the A-F grading scale, with A given to infrastructure in excellent condition and an F given to infrastructure in unacceptable condition, a C (which the ASCE labels as “mediocre”), indicates that the state’s infrastructure is in fair to good condition, but needs attention to mitigate the increasing vulnerability to risk.

The overall grade is an average of grades in eleven total categories, from aviation and bridges to transit and solid waste. Among New York’s shining moments are its management of public parks and solid waste—both categories received B- ’s, the highest grade in the lot for New York. According to the ASCE, New York’s grades fall lowest in the roads and transit categories, which received D+’s.

With the report card, the ASCE also made sure to leave suggestions for improvement: make an effort to generate long-term funding, reassess infrastructure goals to account for post-pandemic and climate change–related changes in living patterns, change policies to allow for the testing of new building materials and methods, and expand technical training and STEM programing for both current workers and future generations.

H/t to Construction Dive


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