New Orleans CityBusiness has chosen its 2019 Excellence in Construction and Real Estate class, recognizing professionals that have created a positive impact in the areas of investment, jobs created, and potential impact in the New Orleans area. Click to read more.
Angela is President of Perez APC, an international design-build-develop firm. She was named New Orleans 2016 Small Business Person of the Year and first runner up for National Small Business Person of the Year, by the U.S. SBA.
She is a passionate advocate for women in architecture and construction and works with professional and non-profit organizations dedicated to the advancement of women in the industry.
She has successfully led complex design and construction projects around the world.
At some point in our nation’s history, a ballpark was just a ballpark. Whether idiosyncratic urban jewels defined by their contexts and boundaries or massive suburban concrete shrines with plenty of parking, sporting venues were relatively simple affairs. You found some land, built a stadium or an arena, and then waited for an ecosystem—bars, restaurants, parking lots, and souvenir stores—to organically sprout around it. Owners were responsible for their enterprise, not necessarily their cities.
But today, a sports stadium often represents just one component of a multi-phase urban renewal scheme, serving as a prominent and exciting anchor for an ambitious mixed-use master plan. They come with pre-signed retail tenants and integrated transportation solutions. They can even be pitched as solutions to housing crises, promising to create not just venues but entire thriving neighborhoods.
Perhaps nowhere is this trend more visible than California, where—if all goes to plan—two major (and privately funded) developments will create new homes for Los Angeles’s football teams and Oakland’s beloved baseball franchise—along with thousands of other homes for the cities’ residents.
Slated to complete its initial construction in 2020 in Inglewood, Los Angeles Stadium will have quite the legacy to follow. The Coliseum, its Art Moderne predecessor, looms large in sports history as the host of the first-ever Super Bowl and of two Olympic games. In its bid to solidify football’s return to Los Angeles, the new stadium is going big. When it’s completed, Los Angeles Stadium will be the country’s most expensive, totaling $4.9 billion in construction, development, and infrastructure improvements. When it’s complete, Los Angeles Stadium will regularly house 70,240 spectators and will be able to accommodate more than 100,000 for major events.
Neither an open-air stadium nor an enclosed dome, LA Stadium will be an open-air environment, crowned by a permeable metal canopy-style roof that lets in plenty of natural light and cooling Southern California breezes. In the middle of the stadium will hang a 70,000 square-foot, dual-sided screen made by Oculus, ensuring fans are able to see every second—and every angle—of the action. The dramatic teardrop-shaped form of the structure, designed by HKS Architects, feels ready to make a strong first impression both from the ground and the air, with millions of passengers landing annually at the neighboring Los Angeles International Airport.
However, Los Angeles Stadium is just a part of a 300-acre complex that will also offer a 6,000 seat performing arts venue, a hotel, 2,500 residential units, publicly accessible parks, and a lake. Taken together, the complex will constitute an entire district unto itself—more than three times the size of Disneyland—and its many-phase development is scheduled to wrap up in time for the 2028 Olympics.
However, while Los Angeles Stadium is a done deal, the Oakland A’s planned Howard Terminal stadium is still a moonshot, as the team is still attempting to acquire the land. Proposed to take up a section of Oakland’s bustling port waterfront, the stadium has run into opposition from the city’s maritime industrial community. But if the stadium succeeds, it could create a charming heart for the city’s rapidly developing downtown—along with thousands of residential units in a metropolitan era hurting for housing.
In scale, Oakland’s stadium would be a far cry from the Los Angeles project. At 34,000 seats, it would be the smallest in the Major League—perhaps fitting for the Bay Area’s “other” baseball team. The intimate stadium would be surrounded by a continuous sloping rooftop park, open to both fans and to the Oakland community at large on non-game days.
The most striking feature of the Howard Terminal development, though, would surely be its unique transportation system: an aerial gondola that would transport fans from nearby Jack London Square above the adjacent interstate to the stadium. Also included in the package would be anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000 residential units, including a significant percentage of affordable housing.
In an era of increased urbanization, it makes sense that sports complexes are also making a return to the cities. And if Oakland and Los Angeles’s efforts succeed, they could set a template for how we build stadiums in the future: informed by careful urban planning, creating housing, and even providing public green spaces. It’s high time that we put the “park” back in “ballpark.”
When Detroit’s Michigan Central Station was dedicated in 1914, it became the tallest train station in the world at eighteen stories. The massive Beaux-Arts structure was designed by the same architects as New York’s Grand Central Terminal Warren & Wetmore and Reed and Stern-and was conceived as a kind of companion piece, ensuring that passengers would embark and arrive through similar grandeur.
At the height of its use, more than two hundred trains left the bustling Michigan Central every day for destinations throughout North America. The station’s centerpiece was its great waiting room, which was modeled after Roman baths. It boasted 55-foot tall vaulted and tiled ceilings with massive chandeliers and soaring Corinthian columns. The very height of magnificence, the station saw presidents, statesmen, and icons pass through its doors.
But as Detroit rose in prominence, Michigan Central Station became less and less useful, because the very cause of Detroit’s economic boom also spelled doom for its massive train station: the rise of the automobile. As the country moved toward air travel and focused on building a massive highway system, the grand age of train-travel began to decline.
Over the years, Michigan Central Station changed operators and owners as its patronage steadily waned. Gradually, the station’s amenities were downsized and eventually shuttered, creating an eerie effect for the few travelers passing through the giant building. Finally, in 1988 the last train left Michigan Central Station, plunging the building into decades of disuse. For decades, policymakers and entrepreneurs proposed uses for the building; it was alternately proposed as a police headquarters, a customs processing center, and a trucking hub. In 2009, it was confirmed for demolition by Detroit’s City Council and then saved by a lawsuit claiming its historic significance.
But mostly, the building decayed. It became a destination for vagrants, graffiti artists, urban explorers, even paintball enthusiasts. Looters snapped up the building’s decorative embellishments and scrappers stripped its copper wiring and brass fixtures. Michigan Central became a prominent symbol for the fall of once-mighty Detroit, an imposing marvel of broken-windows and an elegy for a lost mode of transportation.
However, in 2018 the building found an ironic savior: the Ford Motor Company. Paying $90 million for the site, the automaker plans to turn the station into the centerpiece of a new 1.2 million-square-foot mixed-use campus, with room for 5,000 total workers (including 2,500 of Ford’s). When it is complete in 2022, the Ford’s workers will be focused on developing autonomous and electric cars and various “mobility solutions” (although there’s no word on whether they’ll be developing trains).
The four-year renovation effort will need to combat decades of weather damage, as decades of water and Detroit’s infamously harsh winters have taken their toll on the structure. At the heart of the project is the station’s famous waiting room. The vision is not to repurpose it but to restore it to its original grandeur, replacing broken plaster using 3D modeling technology and restoring gaps in the 21,000 square feet of the waiting room’s breathtaking Guastavino ceiling title.
Ultimately, the company hopes to establish a thriving corridor in Corktown (Detroit’s oldest neighborhood), acquiring a handful of other historic buildings in the area. The station’s concourse will contain shops and restaurants open to the public following a growing nationwide trend of repurposing historic structures for retail and hospitality applications.
As news of the restoration was announced, the Ford team received an anonymous confession about a particularly intriguing piece of architectural salvage: a massive clock that had once adorned the Station. The repentant thief carefully wrapped the clock and left it for pickup near an abandoned building, heartened by the knowledge that it would be returned to its home without any further damage-perhaps even to watch over crowds of busy people once again.
THE JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced the winners of the 2019 AIA Associates Award, which is given to Associate AIA members “to recognize outstanding leaders and creative thinkers for significant contributions to their communities and the architecture profession,” according to an AIA press release.
For decades, architectural tourism was about checking off the established icons: the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, the Taj Mahal. Those with more than a passing interest in design might make pilgrimages to Fallingwater, the Bradbury Building, or the Farnsworth House for their importance to the field. But in the age of Instagram, a new class of architectural attraction is emerging: buildings conceived to be so sensational—and photogenic—that they inspire expeditions to remote destinations.
Opening this spring, southern Norway’s Under restaurant falls squarely in this category by offering something that experience hunters, gourmands, and amateur photographers won’t be able to resist. Because while a restaurant on the water is nothing new, Under is a restaurant in the water.
Designed by the acclaimed Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta—known for their design for the September 11 Memorial Museum in New York—Under is a 110-foot long, 2,500-ton concrete structure that links land and sea. The monolithic mass was assembled on a barge, towed into position, and plunged into the North Atlantic using large containers of water as weights. Anchored into the seafloor securely at eighteen points, the restaurant’s form rises diagonally onto the shore like a breaching whale or a massive, rectangular periscope.
Diners at Under will traverse a glass walkway to the building and then descend a staircase past a mid-level champagne bar and down to the world’s largest underwater dining room. Clad in warm oak, the restaurant’s deepest chamber has space for 100 diners, who will enjoy a menu of ultra-local fare including mushrooms, berries, sea birds, shellfish, and sheep raised on the neighboring archipelago.
Five meters under the surface, Under ups the ante on farm-to-table cuisine by surrounding its diners with marine life (including some of its menu items). Visible wildlife will include lobsters, seals, spiny dogfish, and massive cod—all illuminated by discreet lights installed on the seabed. And Under will encourage extensive aquatic observation by offering leisurely meals that stretch to four hours.
While one might expect an underwater restaurant to seek placid seas, Under’s location in Lindesnes (Norway’s southernmost tip) promises the opposite of smooth sailing. Here, dramatic weather will be part of the experience.
With its three-foot-thick walls, Under is designed to withstand the extremely harsh North Sea weather and is slightly curved to better weather its waves. Diners can safely watch storm swells through Under’s massive (468 square foot) panoramic window thanks to the project’s extensive site analyses, weather data studies, and rigorous structural engineering. The effect will be dramatic, with stormy seas contrasting against the restaurant’s calm, dim interior.
Intended to become fully integrated with its environment, Under’s coarse concrete exterior will gradually become a mussel reef over time. The mussels will help cleanse the surrounding water and attract more wildlife. When the restaurant isn’t serving, the building will be used as a marine biology research facility to study fish behavior.
While Under hasn’t yet served a single meal, a reservation there is nearly impossible to secure—likely thanks to the extensive press the project has received. Pending the restaurant’s reception, Under could become an anchor for tourism in the area as adventurous diners seek companion activities to their marine adventure.
“We’ll attract tourists from all over the world. That is our goal,” says one of Under’s owners, Gaute Ubostad. “I hope and believe that this will be the start of a new age for the travel industry.” The restaurant may also be part of a new age for the architecture industry, as designers are dared to dream up small, high-interest buildings that attract visitors from the world over. Because while it’s not as grand as the Taj Mahal or established as Fallingwater, Under is sure to inspire thousands of heavily-Instagrammed pilgrimages.