All posts by David Ackerman

Adaptive Reuse of the Cincinnati Subway System

Periodical: ArchDaily

Thesis:

Rather than leaving the subway system to go into disrepair, the city of Cincinnati should restore and renovate the abandoned system to create a hub for community activity and interaction through adaptive reuse.

Summary:

In the early twentieth century, the city of Cincinnati began an upgrade of their electric streetcar system by developing a series of tunnels for a subway transit system beneath the streets of the city. At the time, Cincinnati was one of the seven most populous cities in the US with an economic growth that rivaled New York and Chicago. The new subway system was to be the solution to the growing transit nightmare of the slow and outdated streetcar in a rapidly developing city. Construction was postponed in 1917 when the US entered World War I, which resulted in a temporary abandonment of the project. After the war ended in 1918, costs nearly doubled due to post war inflation, but construction began January 28, 1920. Over the course of seven years, funding ran out for the project with only seven miles of the tunnels dug and none of the tracks laid out. Plans to raise more funding for the project were struck down with the crash of the stock market in 1929. The project underwent a revival in 1939 by the Engineer’s Club of Cincinnati but was ultimately abandoned again due to World War II. TIMG_6447_boday, the subway system is recognized as the largest abandoned transit tunnel in the United States. Former Cincinnati mayor Mark Mallory has said, “Now more than forty percent of Cincinnatians do not know there is a subway system existing underneath Central Parkway Boulevard.” Rather than leaving the subway system to fall into further disrepair, the city of Cincinnati should restore and renovate the abandoned system to create a hub for community activity and interaction through adaptive reuse.

One of the greatest benefits of adaptive reuse is cost reduction. The reuse of the subway system would save the city millions of dollars in costs of demolition and re-grading the land that was dug into. In recent years, there have been proposals from city planners to demolish the tunnel system in order to create more residential and retail space in the city, however the city has struck down plans of demolition due to the high cost and time it will take. The structural work is already completed in the tunnels; all that would remain is updating the lighting and ventilation systems to be more sustainable and efficient for a public space of that size. Another benefit of reuse is it creates more sustainable buildings and spaces. Much of the architecture we have today has a finite longevity to its lifetime, only to be demolished and replaced by another building when the previous one could probably have served the new purposes. Transforming the abandoned subway into a hub for community activity would create a new framework for interaction and an opportunity to connect the surrounding neighborhoods that would otherwise remain separated from each other. This is important for the city because it can reduce the crime rate and territorial conflict by creating a more woven integrated community. This hub would also be an ideal space for small local businesses and farmer’s markets to set up and create local economic growth. An additional advantage to the tunnel system being reused is it is such a large space that it can be used for a wide range of temporary venues and activities.

Although there are a number of benefits of the adaptive reuse of older buildings, there are also some setbacks and people who advocate against its practice. One of the most common setbacks include updating the existing systems in the building to comply with present day codes. This particular issue is typically the main reason that many developers decide against adaptive reuse when deciding on a location for their project. They assess the original systems and structural elements installed in the building and determine the cost and time it will take for the updates they will need to make. In the case of the Cincinnati Subway System, the ventilation and lighting systems that were installed in the 1920’s are completely outdated and would need serious updating in order to meet todays standards. The cost of this alone in the several miles of tunnel is enough to turn away any developer from the idea of adaptive reuse.

This issue also segues into the matter of energy efficiency. It is one thing to put new systems into the building, but then comes the question of will they work efficiently with the structure? This becomes a difficult set of criteria to satisfy when it comes to an underground structure like the tunnel system. Lighting would be extremely intensive because of the nonexistence of natural light. However, this can be worked around with the incorporation of skylights or solar panels that would power the lighting. In addition to lighting comes ventilation, due to the intersecting paths of the tunnels, natural cross ventilation cannot be relied on.

One final opposition to practice of adaptive reuse is the client’s desire for something new. Human nature tells us that new is always better. As today’s technology advances, so does the way we look at architecture, and as a result so does the client’s. However, a major point that can be made in defense of adaptive reuse of older buildings is many states and private entities offer grants and federal tax credits that help cover up to twenty percent of the cost of development when it comes to reconditioning older, historic buildings. Most people would rather see something new and modern looking, than the restored beauty of an older building. In regards to historical buildings, Martin Johnson, CEO of Isles, a non profit community development and environmental organization said, “These buildings were designed to last. They were built in such a way that you know they are going to be there tomorrow.” There is something to be appreciated from the resilience of older buildings that use brick and masonry amidst the rapidly growing cityscapes of steel and glass.

The topic of abandoned transit tunnels is not unique to the city of Cincinnati, or even the United States for that matter. There are numerous subway tunnels all over the world that are abandoned and falling into disrepair that are perfect candidate sites for adaptive reuse projects. These massive underground structures provide a unique and dynamic space that can be utilized for all different kinds of programmatic use. For example, the London Underground, perhaps the most famous abandoned subway tunnel system in the world, is undergoing renov5167334156_dfc6219e6fation projects in several of the tunnels. The most recent project was converting the space into a hydroponics center. This is an example of something that could easily be done in the Cincinnati tunnel system as well. Another example is the forsaken Paris Metro. These tunnels are currently in the planning stage and awaiting approval from the city. Current proposals for the tunnels include a restaurant, night club, performance center and theatre, a lap pool and installation spaces for art exhibits. All of these wide variety of programs are great examples of how flexible the spaces in the tunnels are for any possible idea of how they can be reused for new programmatic elements.

ArsenalStationPrimary.jpg.560x0_q80_crop-smart ArsenalStation3

Proposals for Forsaken Paris Metro

Renderings: OXO Architecture + Laisné Architect

 

In conclusion, although adaptive reuse can have its negative aspects for some projects like cost and the hassle of updating the existing building systems, the benefits greatly outweigh them. When you choose to do adaptive reuse for a project such as the Cincinnati subway system, you create the opportunity to introduce sustainability into an older, historic structure by recycling the old building materials rather than importing new ones and alleviate the pressure on the carbon footprint of the building. Which in turn can create a healthy and positive effect on the community and leave it in a better state than it was in before. You also get the chance to restore a piece of the city’s history, and in this particular case, introduce a new space to the public that was never opened to them and allow them to discover a different side of their city that they never knew was there before.

 

Sources:

Boschmann, E. E. and Gabriel, J. N. (2013), “Urban sustainability and the LEED rating system: case studies on the role of regional characteristics and adaptive reuse in green building in Denver and Boulder, Colorado.” The Geographical Journal, 179: 221–233.

Bullen, Peter A., and Peter E.D. Love. “The Rhetoric of Adaptive Reuse or Reality of Demolition: Views from the Field.” The Rhetoric of Adaptive Reuse or Reality of Demolition: Views from the Field. Elsevier Publishing Co., 9 Apr. 2010. Web. 06 Sept. 2015.

Corral, Andrea. “Repurposing Old Buildings More Satisfying than Knocking them Down.” Las Vegas Business Press 31.29 (2014) ProQuest. Web. 6 Sep. 2015.

Carroon, Jean. “P.7-42; 47-55.” Sustainable Preservation: Greening Existing Buildings. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2010. N. page. Print.

Kaewket, Dachamont, “Power shift: a catalyst for architectural transformation: rapid transit, Cincinnati” (2015). Masters Theses. Paper 8.
http://digitalcommons.risd.edu/masterstheses/8

Karen, H. M. (2007). Adaptive reuse: A balancing act. Mercer Business, 83(10), 24-28. Retrieved from

http://search.proquest.com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/docview/211664011?accountid=13158

Kersting, Jessica. “Integrating Past and Present: The Story of a Building Through Adaptive Reuse.” Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. University of Cincinnati, 2006. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 06 Sep 2015.

Rabun, J. Stanely. “Structural Analysis of Historic Buildings.” Google Books. John C. Wiley & Sons, Inc., n.d. Web. 06 Sept. 2015.

DD Peer Review: Megan Shrout

Megan’s project has a very clear idea that resonates throughout her program and site planning. Her concept is conceived from the coexistence between the old residential buildings and the newer glass towers in the context that surrounds the site. She achieves this through a move of pushing and pulling of the spaces and volumes that is very clear in her original concept model and is still evident in her current building model, but is toned down to create a more inhabitable space. Megan’s project continues this appearance of coexistence by bridging the public museum space and private firehouse. She does this by placing the apparatus bay between the two programs and a truss bridge that allows the public to look into and observe the actions that take place in the apparatus bay.

The channels that are created between the trusses become very essential spaces to the project that she begins to show with a photo of the space in her model with entourage placed in it. I think Megan should push it a little further to really accentuate the use of this space and how it will become a centerpiece to her design. They allow the circulation of the public to extend beyond the monitor museum and into a less public space without completely intruding on the private residential program of the firehouse. I think this space is something that Megan should definitely spend some time thinking about how to celebrate and further emphasize her concept.

One of the main comments from the jury was on the Monitor museum and its placement. She decided to play on the history of the site and use the approximate location of the Monitor factory for her museum, which adds more emphasis to her concept of the coexistence of the old and new. Megan made some adjustments to how this was planned out from schematic, but I think she could still develop it a bit more. The jury seemed split on whether the long, elevated space was working with the rest of the project. They suggested making it more of a vertical move, but ultimately I think it comes down to figuring out how it best relates to her concept and what will help strengthen it best.

Her site design has made tremendous progress from schematic design. She branches out from the building program and reaches into the park space to create several public spaces that are are very clearly laid out and inviting to the public. This was something that the jurors commented on and liked the way she made it speak well to the rest of her program and concept.

Overall, I think that Megan’s project works quite well and has a strong idea that drives it. She delivers her concept very well with carefully chosen words in her presentation that put focus and emphasis on the geometries of her spaces and the way the building speaks to the surrounding context of the site and neighborhood. The general direction that the comments from the jurors were addressing fell under the civic order of worth. They were very interested in the way the public will use the spaces she has created and how the building as a whole will be interacted with by the community.

The presentation as a whole was very clear. Megan’s drawings were well done and easy to read. Her line weights and shading helped the viewer understand the spaces easily. They clearly show her design and thought process and how she came to the design decisions she made. Her model was also well made and gave a very clear understanding of how the building works within the site and how the volumes and geometries create interesting spaces that can be developed and utilized by the community. After hearing the comments from the jurors, I think Megan is in a good position for final review, with small changes and considerations to make and has a very strong project.

 

Photo: Site Model by Megan Shrout

DD Project Statement

The site for the Brooklyn Fire Station for Greenpoint is located on the inlet of Bushwick Park, nestled between the historical and industrial neighborhoods of Brooklyn. The building sits pushed back from the corner of Kent and Quay street. The corner of the site is treated as a triangle that informs the geometries of the program. The apparatus bay faces Quay Street on the first floor, with the living quarters on the second floors above it surrounding the space. Private spaces on the upper floors remain closed off on the street front but open up with curtain walls on the opposite side to observe the beautiful Manhattan skyline across the East River, while letting in natural light. The public space and lobby connects the firehouse to the museum that sits on the second floor facing Kent street. The two programs overlap in a double height space that goes up to the museum that cantilevers out into the site and creates a covered courtyard garden space that will entice and bring in the community. The aim of this design is to create an exciting space that will encourage the community to come and engage with the firehouse, museum and the public park spaces.

 

Rendering of proposed park at Sovereign Street public green space, New York City

Adaptive Reuse of the Cincinnati Subway System

Adaptive Reuse of the Cincinnati Subway System

Proposed Periodical: ArchDaily

Thesis:

Rather than leaving the subway system to go into disrepair, the city of Cincinnati should restore and renovate the abandoned system to create a hub for community activity and interaction through adaptive reuse.

Summary:

In the early twentieth century, the city of Cincinnati began an upgrade of their electric streetcar system by developing a series of tunnels for a subway transit system beneath the streets of the city. At the time, Cincinnati was one of the seven most populous cities in the US with an economic growth that rivaled New York and Chicago. The new subway system was to be the solution to the growing transit nightmare of the slow and outdated streetcar in a rapidly developing city. Construction was postponed in 1917 when the US entered World War I, which resulted in a temporary abandonment of the project. After the war ended in 1918, costs nearly doubled due to post war inflation, but construction began January 28, 1920. Over the course of seven years, funding ran out for the project with only seven miles of the tunnels dug and none of the tracks laid out. Plans to raise more funding for the project were struck down with the crash of the stock market in 1929. The project underwent a revival in 1939 by the Engineer’s Club of Cincinnati but was ultimately abandoned again due to World War II. Today, the subway system is recognized as the largest abandoned transit tunnel in the United States. Former Cincinnati mayor Mark Mallory has said, “ Now more than forty percent of Cincinnatians do not know there is a subway system existing underneath Central Parkway Boulevard.” Rather than leaving the subway system to fall into further disrepair, the city of Cincinnati should restore and renovate the abandoned system to create a hub for community activity and interaction through adaptive reuse.

 One of the greatest benefits of adaptive reuse is cost reduction. The reuse of the subway system would save the city millions of dollars in costs of demolition and re-grading the land that was dug into. In recent years, there have been proposals from city planners to demolish the tunnel system in order to create more residential and retail space in the city, however the city has struck down plans of demolition due to the high cost and time it will take. The structural work is already completed in the tunnels; all that would remain is updating the lighting and ventilation systems to be more sustainable and efficient for a public space of that size. Another benefit of reuse is it creates more sustainable buildings and spaces. Much of the architecture we have today has a finite longevity to its lifetime, only to be demolished and replaced by another building when the previous one could probably have served the new purposes. Transforming the abandoned subway into a hub for community activity would create a new framework for interaction and an opportunity to connect the surrounding neighborhoods that would otherwise remain separated from each other. This is important for the city because it can reduce the crime rate and territorial conflict by creating a more woven integrated community. This hub would also be an ideal space for small local businesses and farmer’s markets to set up and create local economic growth. An additional advantage to the tunnel system being reused is it is such a large space that it can be used for a wide range of temporary venues and activities.

Although there are a number of benefits of the adaptive reuse of older buildings, there are also some setbacks and people who advocate against its practice. One of the most common setbacks include updating the existing systems in the building to comply with present day codes. This particular issue is typically the main reason that many developers decide against adaptive reuse when deciding on a location for their project. They assess the original systems and structural elements installed in the building and determine the cost and time it will take for the updates they will need to make. In the case of the Cincinnati Subway System, the ventilation and lighting systems that were installed in the 1920’s are completely outdated and would need serious updating in order to meet todays standards. The cost of this alone in the several miles of tunnel is enough to turn away any developer from the idea of adaptive reuse.

This issue also segues into the matter of energy efficiency. It is one thing to put new systems into the building, but then comes the question of will they work efficiently with the structure? This becomes a difficult set of criteria to satisfy when it comes to an underground structure like the tunnel system. Lighting would be extremely intensive because of the nonexistence of natural light. However, this can be worked around with the incorporation of skylights or solar panels that would power the lighting. In addition to lighting comes ventilation, due to the intersecting paths of the tunnels, natural cross ventilation cannot be relied on.

One final opposition to practice of adaptive reuse is the client’s desire for something new. Human nature tells us that newer is better. As today’s technology advances, so does the way we look at architecture, and as a result so does the client’s. However, a major point that can be made in defense of adaptive reuse of older buildings is many states and private entities offer grants and federal tax credits that help cover up to twenty percent of the cost of development when it comes to reconditioning older, historic buildings. Most people would rather see something new and modern looking, than the restored beauty of an older building. In regards to historical buildings, Martin Johnson, CEO of Isles, a non profit community development and environmental organization said, “These buildings were designed to last. They were built in such a way that you know they are going to be there tomorrow.” There is something to be appreciated from the resilience of older buildings that use brick and masonry amidst the rapidly growing cityscapes of steel and glass.

 

Sources:

Boschmann, E. E. and Gabriel, J. N. (2013), “Urban sustainability and the LEED rating system: case studies on the role of regional characteristics and adaptive reuse in green building in Denver and Boulder, Colorado.” The Geographical Journal, 179: 221–233.

Bullen, Peter A., and Peter E.D. Love. “The Rhetoric of Adaptive Reuse or Reality of Demolition: Views from the Field.” The Rhetoric of Adaptive Reuse or Reality of Demolition: Views from the Field. Elsevier Publishing Co., 9 Apr. 2010. Web. 06 Sept. 2015.

Corral, Andrea. “Repurposing Old Buildings More Satisfying than Knocking them Down.” Las Vegas Business Press 31.29 (2014)ProQuest. Web. 6 Sep. 2015.

Carroon, Jean. “P.7-42; 47-55.” Sustainable Preservation: Greening Existing Buildings. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2010. N. pag. Print.

Kaewket, Dachamont, “Power shift: a catalyst for architectural transformation : rapid transit, Cincinnati” (2015). Masters Theses. Paper 8.
http://digitalcommons.risd.edu/masterstheses/8

Karen, H. M. (2007). Adaptive reuse: A balancing act. Mercer Business, 83(10), 24-28. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/docview/211664011?accountid=13158

KERSTING, JESSICA. “INTEGRATING PAST AND PRESENT: THE STORY OF A BUILDING THROUGH ADAPTIVE REUSE.” Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. University of Cincinnati, 2006. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 06 Sep 2015.

Rabun, J. Stanely. “Structural Analysis of Historic Buildings.” Google Books. John C. Wiley & Sons, Inc., n.d. Web. 06 Sept. 2015.

Schematic Design Review: Andrew Barnett

Project:

Andrew’s project is developed on the basis of establishing a new, rigid urban grid that is a composition of the existing city grids that converge on the site. This new grid takes its form from connecting nodes on the existing grids with a perpendicular linear system that aligns with the Manhattan skyline across the East River, more specifically, it aligns with the World Trade Center. The grid is then applied to the site and informs the layout and design of the programmatic spaces for his firehouse. The grid system also extends into the planning of his surrounding landscape and park, which crates a cohesiveness and continuity across his project instead of there being a divide between the building and the rest of the site like you often see in studio projects. He also uses the Die ideale Wirklichkeit by Piet Mondrian which strengthens his idea of a strong, perpendicular grid system. Similarly, to Mondrian’s work where there are in fills of color in larger gridded spaces, Andrew’s project fills the larger grid spaces with the program of the firehouse.

Peer Critique:

Andrew’s building follows a very strict rectangular shape as you would expect in a linear grid system. The first level is clearly laid out and focused around the apparatus bay that houses the fire trucks with the rest of the public program adjacent to the bay on the south facing side of the building. The second level is the private living space for the fire fighters. This was a well thought out move to keep the two program spaces separated in order to make for a more comfortable and less invasive lifestyle for the fire fighters. By having the living space on the second level, it creates a separation between the sporadic chaos of work from the retreat and relaxation in their living quarters. The grid that was established at to create the form of the building is clearly seen on the interior and how the living space is laid out and divided up. I thought the placement of the private living rooms of the fire fighters on the southern wall was a great move, the exposure to the southern light makes the room much more comfortable and warmly accepting for the people that will be living in them, rather than if they did not take advantage of the southern light and be more dark and unappealing to inhabit. I also thought the incorporation of the exterior courtyard and outdoor living space were good element to have to let the fire fighters escape and not feel like they are caged in just waiting for their next response call. In addition to that, the greenhouse is another element that I thought was good to have. It adds another aspect of civilian life that is not typical in a fire house. It strengthens the sense of the disconnect between their chaotic and dangerous line of work that is present on the level below them. Altogether, it is clear that Andrew has thought a lot about how the user will interact with the spaces and circulate throughout the building and the living condition and mood this will create for the fire fighters that would work and live here. The presentation I felt also went well. Andrew clearly got his concept across through his explanation and his drawings. One thing that I thought did not really help support his project was his concept model, I did not fully understand how it was connected to his idea of the program fitting into the grid spaces.

Critique of Critique:

I thought that most of the comments from the critics were very useful to help Andrew further develop his project and solve some of the aspects that needed more thought and planning. However, there were some comments that I thought were not very helpful to improve his project or provide a possible solution to a specific design aspect of his project, but were more like personal opinions and discrepancies of the professor that were based on their own design preferences and tendencies. I agree with their thought that his grid is a convincing and fascinating quality that speaks well to the site, the urban context of Brooklyn, and Manhattan just across the river as well as a solid starting basis for his overall design process. One thing that they pointed out that I had not thought about was that the grid, while very clear in plan, does not really translate into the design in section. I personally do not think that this is an issue that causes a loss in translation of the overall concept, but if he did find a way to make it more apparent in section then it would create a strong overall language for his design. A comment that was made that I do not agree with was that they thought his landscaping plan does not follow the grid system like his building does. After looking more closely at his board, I do not see what they were talking about. Andrew’s landscape is divided into horizontal sections that follow his grid very clearly like the rest of his design that create public community spaces, open grass for any number of activities, and planting areas for what I understand could be used as either garden space or decorative landscaping for aesthetics. There was another comment that I did agree with that he should play with varying spatial heights in section to better reflect the varying sizes of the grid spaces seen in plan. All of these comments are things that can be very easily thought out and experimented with to see what kind of developments can come from them to improve what is already a very strong and clear project idea. All in all, I think that Andrew has a strong concept that is supported by his project statement and precedents. His drawings, diagrams and other visual aids are very clear and easy to read and visualize the spaces that he has created and developed.