This article first appeared in ARCHITECT.
New York's controversial but heavily utilized Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE), conceived by Robert Moses in the 1950s, is overdue for significant repairs and maintenance. Following the release of a preliminary, and somewhat predictable, $3 billion to $4 billion plan by the city's Department of Transportation to close and rebuild the highway in phases as is, the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) unveiled a proposal to turn the BQE in the BQP, or BQ-Park. BIG, which prepared the proposal pro bono, suggests four options, each of which converts the expressway into an at-grade roadway topped by a deck structure that could support different combinations of park amenities, ramp ways, and greenery. The firm states on its website that the "one-time construction of the new roadway [represents] a more feasible and less costly solution for reconstruction of the BQE, while delivering far more benefits to the community." [ARCHITECT]
In other BIG news, the firm unveiled its vision for Oceanix City, the world's first resilient and sustainable floating community. Capable of supporting 10,000 residents (and designed to scale), the hexagonal aggregation of six self-sustaining neighborhoods around a central harbor features communal farming, low- to mid-rise mass timber and bamboo buildings capped by photovoltaic roofs, and social amenities. Presented on April 3 at the United Nations' headquarters in New York, Oceanix City "can be prefabricated on shore, and towed to their final site, reducing construction costs," according to BIG on its website. [ARCHITECT]
Autodesk AutoCAD, the workhorse drafting software on which designers worldwide rely, has been updated. Changes in the forthcoming AutoCAD 2020 include enhancements to the existing Purge and DWG Compare tools, quicker measuring capabilities, and improved legibility of its dark-theme user interface; a video summarizing product highlights is available on Autodesk's AutoCAD page. [Between the Lines]
Famed Bulgarian-born artist Christo has announced L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped (Project for Paris, Place de l'Étoile – Charles de Gaulle) will be completed and accessible to the public April 6-19, 2020. The culmination of nearly 60 years of planning, Christo and his team will wrap the Paris landmark in 25,000 square meters (about 269,000 square feet) of silvery blue recyclable polypropylene fabric and 7,000 meters (about 23,000 feet) of red rope. The project will coincide with a March 18–June 15, 2020 exhibition at the Centre Georges Pompidou examining the lives and work of Christo and late partner Jeanne-Claude during their time in Paris from 1958 to 1964. The exhibition will also tell the story of Pont-Neuf Wrapped, Project for Paris, in which the artists wrapped Paris' oldest bridge with golden sandstone polyamide fabric in 1985. [Christo and Jeanne-Claude]
NASA has announced three teams as winners of its 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, phase 3, level four, which required the creation of a full-scale habitat design via modeling software. The next and final level is a head-to-head subscale structure print in early May, which comes with an $800,000 prize. [ARCHITECT]
Entrepreneurs Emily Packer and Jake Calhoun are tackling the problem of plastic waste firsthand. Coldharbour Tiles are made entirely from HDPE (high-density polyethylene) waste sourced by picking through collected trash. Now based in Kenya, the couple recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to scale up their manufacture of the durable, colorful tiles, currently available in hexagons, rectangles, and small mosaic squares. The campaign ends April 11. [Kickstarter]
Amazon has formalized its plans for a second headquarters in Northern Virginia, signing leases for three buildings totaling 537,000 square feet in Arlington. The tech and e-commerce giant has also agreed to purchase land around the Pentagon City Metro station for potentially 4.1 million square feet of new construction. [JBG Smith]
WeWork parent company the We Co. has added Mexican architect Michel Rojkind to its employee roster as the senior vice president of architecture, working alongside another renowned designer, Bjarke Ingels, the namesake partner of BIG and chief architect of We. [ARCHITECT]
See the thought leaders who will jury ARCHITECT's 13th annual R+D Awards program—and enter today to pay the early bird rate! [ARCHITECT]
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