As architects like Herzog & de Meuron and Jean Nouvel tap into the potential of vertical gardens, they’ll often seek the expertise of Patrick Blanc. For the past thirty years Blanc developed vertical gardens while researching adaptive strategies of plants at the National Center for Sceintific Research in France. His research of plant growth in nature’s more hostile environs, such as hanging off of stone cliffs or springing from rocks next to waterfalls, has yielded a uniquely urbanistic solution for gardening. For the next ten days there’s a small window of opportunity left to see the work of Blanc at its most luxurious. The botanist designed the New York Botanical Garden‘s annual Orchid Show which ends on April 22. As a bonus, this also happens to be the moment that the Gardens’ 250 acres are at the height of their springtime burst.
It is unclear whether the newest Jean Nouvel project in Charleroi, Belgium is the first of the hybrid Police Headquarters/Dance Studio typology, but we would guess that it is. The collaboration between Paris-based Atelier Jean Nouvel and the Belgian firm MDW Architecture was selected in a competition and resulted in a scheme for a 246-foot tower and renovation of 19th century brick barracks.
City of Scientists. Russian Prime Minister Putin has recently reviewed plans for a potential $6.4 billion project that could build a 5,000-person—scientists and researchers, specifically—domed village in the Arctic called Umka, about 1,000 miles from the North Pole. Plans call for an isolated artificial climate inspired by “an imaginary Moon city or a completely isolated space station.” More on the Daily Mail and Foreign Policy Blogs.
Abu Dhabi Adjourned. The new 450,000-square-foot Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim museum planned in Abu Dhabi has been put on hold pending contract review. A similar fate awaits Jean Nouvel’s Louvre satellite previously scheduled to open near Gehry’s site next year. More at Mediabistro.
Sergey’s Secret. Due to his prolific work ethic, the insider joke at Google is that co-founder Sergey Brin is really Batman. More believable, the latest Google rumor is that one of Brin’s secret pet-projects may very well be architectural, with blueprints and all. Business Insider has details.
No bin, no trash. The NY Times reports on the MTA’s seemingly counter-intuitive enviro-social experiment to remove trash cans from subway platforms. The idea: no garbage bin might be the way to achieve no litter. A trial run in Queens and Greenwich Village left some people very unhappy.
Over the weekend, we headed out to Brooklyn Bridge Park to check out the light show of Jane’s Carousel. We had been told that silhouettes of horses were to be projected onto a ceiling scrim until 1AM. We even held ambitions of traipsing across the Brooklyn Bridge to get a better view. But after watching a spectacular sunset reflect off of Jean Nouvel’s acrylic cube, the show was over. We were told that the lights for the magic lantern were much too hot for the recently restored horses. No matter, it’s hard to surpass the carousel’s bulbs reflected in the acrylic, with a glittering Manhattan serving as backdrop.
It’s been a couple of week’s since Jane’s Carousel opened to the public on the Brooklyn Waterfront, allowing us time to reflect on the rainy opening day and see just how the new attraction is being received. It’s seems Jean Nouvel’s pavilion is a study in contrasts, particularly on cold gloom of the opening ceremony when we first stopped by. We made a short impressionistic collage of our observations including the carnivalesque merriment going on inside the pavilion set against the sober geometry outside. (You might also spot Nouvel himself taking a ride or an overly-excited Marty Markowitz astride one of the wooden horses.)
The season got off to wet and windy start with the launch of Urban Design Week. We started in Brooklyn and while the opening of Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Jane’s Carousel wasn’t on the official agenda, there were plenty architecture world heavyweights in attendance. AN‘s Julie Iovine got there early to chat with the architect of the carousel’s pavilion, Jean Nouvel. Later, we popped over to the BMW Guggenheim Lab and with minutes to spare even got to hear a lecture over at the Neighborhood Preservation Center.
The man in black designing a Merry-Go-Round seems a jarring fit. But out on the Brooklyn waterfront buffeted by winds on a raw point between the muscular grandeur of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, Nouvel seems just the right man to insinuate something as delicate as a life-size interactive music box into a setting as tough as the Brooklyn waterfront. Read More
Jean Nouvel feels like his MoMA Tower has been put under the guillotine. The starchitect behind the lopped-off Midtown Manhattan proposal told CBS News this weekend that “It’s very French to cut the head, eh?” His 75-story tower would have rivaled the Empire State Building for supremacy over the New York skyline, standing 1,250 feet tall, but met significant opposition from neighbors worried the tower would drown their street in shadow.
City Planning Commission officials voted earlier this year to allow a shortened version of the tower – chopping off 200 feet of the Pritzker Prize winner’s design. Nouvel’s vision has been sent back to the drawing boards, but he says it’s “not in his character” to feel discouraged. Be sure to check out AN‘s cameo appearance at the end of the interview.
Increasingly, the architects chosen each year to design the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London hail from a pool of the usual suspects. This past summer, it was Jean Nouvel. SANAA, and Frank Gehry ran up the mast in 2009 and 2008 respectively. The 2011 pavilion, we hear, will be by Swiss mystic architect, Peter Zumthor.
There’s certainly abiding fascination in a series of heavyweights forced to design a lightweight structure on the double-quick (about six months) but the young and restless might actually have more to explore and certainly more to gain than the big names. Then again, more than most, Zumthor has maintained his mystique as an architect. Lightweight he is not: For the 2002 Venice architecture biennale, he submitted a six ton concrete model of his Cologne museum that was too hefty to be contained in the vast Arsenale.
Fresh from landing the commission for the Serpentine Gallery’s annual summer pavilion in London, French architect Jean Nouvel was in New York yesterday for the official unveiling of the new National Museum in Doha, Qatar. Designed as a ring of low-lying, interlocking pavilions encircling a large courtyard, the 430,000-square-foot structure is created from sand-colored disks that define floors, walls, and roofs, almost as if growing out of the desert landscape. Read More
A group of Midtown residents and concerned citizens, many from the West 54th/55th Street Block Association, have been the leading opponents of Jean Nouvel’s MoMA tower. They have been very vocal during hearings at Landmarks and, just a few weeks ago, City Planning Commission. Now, The Coalition for Responsible Midtown Development, as the group is calling itself, have launched a website, no2moma.com. There, they succinctly recast their previous opposition to the project–light & shadows, traffic & congestion, out-sized & ugly–as well as presenting a six minute documentary that makes the group’s best case yet. Our favorite part is the clip above, where the Nouvel tower rises, Frankenstein-like, from “a lot no bigger than a McDonald’s drive-thru.” The full video is after the jump, but, given statements made by some commissioners during a meeting Monday, all this flash and frustration may be too little too late. Read More