Daily digest: Common-Sky wins the 2022 Forge Prize, Disney does affordable housing, and more

Forging Ahead

Daily digest: Common-Sky wins the 2022 Forge Prize, Disney does affordable housing, and more

Common-Sky, winner of the 2022 Forge Prize. (Courtesy Temporary Office)

This editor’s daily horoscope advised pursuing “whatever pleasant things arise today.” So in honor of the moon and the stars and this Patrick Swayze centaur tattoo, here are the four pleasing stories you need to know today:

Disney to build theme park–adjacent affordable housing in Orlando

The mega entertainment company has released a plan to develop 1,300 units of affordable housing adjacent to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. According to a Disney press release, the project has been underway for “quite some time.”

Disney World is known for its immersive environments, so it almost goes without saying that the development will not be soulless apartment mono-blocks. Instead, the entertainment company plans to build a variety of home styles on 80 acres and will connect the new neighborhood to suburban developments like Flamingo Crossing Town Center. 

“We are invested in working together with our community to solve complex issues,” said Jeff Vahle, president of Walt Disney World Resort, in a statement. “The lack of affordable housing is affecting many people across our country, including right here in Central Florida. With this initiative, we’re lending a hand to make a real and meaningful impact in our community by tapping into the best of our company’s strengths. This is the right opportunity and the right time to take action.”

The company plans to partner with a heretofore-unnamed but well-known affordable housing developer. Information on public approvals or the construction timeline is not available at this time.

H/t to Fast Company

New Orleans gets a bold and brash new visitors center

Massachusetts-based architecture and exhibit design firm CambridgeSeven has debuted a visitor center at the Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans that celebrates the city’s history, culture, and heritage. It’s one of several major projects for the firm on New Orleans waterfront including the new Canal Street Ferry terminal. 

Dubbed Vue Orleans, the four-floor, $25 million project includes work from 25 area artists. Exhibits on jazzist Jelly Roll Morton and chef Kevin Belton are folded into exhibits with names like “Do You NOLA?” “Confluence of Cultures,’” and “Dress for the Fest.” On the second floor, a three-sided theater plays a film on the Mississippi River’s role in the development of New Orleans. There’s also an open-air observation deck housed in the 34-story hotel tower’s circular crown.

The exhibition is part of the renovation of the city’s erstwhile World Trade Center (a 1968 project of Edward Durrell Stone) into a cultural complex, condos, and a luxury hotel on the waterfront. 

colorful three screen movie theater
Screening room interior at Vue Orleans. (Courtesy CambridgeSeven/Photo: Cortina Productions)

And the award for steeliest building goes to…

The American Institute of Steel Construction has awarded its 2022 Forge Prize to Vincent Yee Foo Lai of Adjaye Associates and Douglas Lee of the University of California, Berkeley, for their concept design for a Harlem public housing project.

While many prizes in architecture are awarded solely on concept, the Forge Prize pairs emerging architects with steel fabricators to refine their designs for a possible real-world build. 

“What we see in the Forge Prize is a connection between those two worlds,” said Alex Morales, AISC’s senior structural steel specialist for the Houston area, in a press release. “Hopefully after working with your fabricators, you are able to value the importance of that collaboration and what that looks like in practice—understanding things like how a fabrication shop operates, how many times you can repeat certain elements to reduce costs, the parameters of transportation, and other logistics that do help inform your design and ultimately contribute to a healthier project.”

Lai and Lee proposed a steel housing block mounted on top of Harlem’s Riverton Square development, pictured at top. Common-Sky would open the building’s first floor to the street, and connect existing units with new ones via amenities like a library, cafe, and roof terrace with infrastructure for an urban farm. Inspired by the gerberette system of the Centre Pompidou. Common-Sky’s prefab modular units would be supported on columns anchored to the existing building, and each unit could be customized according to households’ individual needs.

In recognition of their hard work, Lai and Lee received a $10,000 prize.

120 Mitzvah Tanks rock the streets of New York City in epic pre-Passover parade

While “placemaking” and “activated streetscapes” are recent-ish buzzwords in urban planning, one group of Orthodox Jews has been putting those principles into practice since the 1970s. 

Nowhere was this more clear than yesterday’s parade, in which ten dozen buses bearing the bearded likeness of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson fanned out across New York City to honor the 120th birthday of the esteemed Chabad-Lubavitch leader. Video from the event show the buses departing from Crown Heights, Brooklyn, cruising over the Williamsburg Bridge, and caravanning around Manhattan in celebration:

For those unfamiliar with Mitzvah Tanks, as the schoolbus-sized vehicles are known, they are the Jewish equivalent of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. Adherents of the Orthodox Jewish movement known as Chabad drive buses filled with prayer and holiday supplies across New York (and beyond) in an effort to bring their flavor of Jewish tradition and culture to random non- or less-observant Jewish passerbys. Oftentimes, the (usually) young yeshiva students on the bus hand out brochures about performing mitzvot (good deeds) and the coming of Moshiach (messiah). 

Mitzvah tank with picture of the Rebbe on a green banner
Mitzvah tank with the signature Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson banner. (Danny Howard/Flickr/CC BY 2.0)

On April 12 the RVs left Chabad headquarters on Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway for citywide deliveries of shmura matzah (extra elite and expensive matzah), holiday candles, Passover guides, and other religious paraphernalia. Touchingly, the parade was led by Ukranian yeshiva students who recently fled their country.

I mean, this looks fun, right?