With 2014 quickly receding into history, here’s a look at what blog posts AN‘s readers clicked on most last month. Big international stories, many with starchitects attached, abounded in New York, London, Los Angeles, Helsinki, and Rio de Janeiro. All of December’s top stories point toward the future, with many under-construction projects that will be sure to dominate additional headlines this year. Here’s a glimpse at what was in the news.
It’s good to see some good old-fashioned roasting, and that’s what the Westside Urban Forum’s WUFFIES awards are all about. This year’s event, held earlier this month at the Los Angeles Times of all places, was full of the usual snipes on botched RFPs and difficult County Supervisors. But it also got in some good jibes at architecture’s expense. Our favorite: the Darth Vader Award, which went both to Peter Zumthor’s foreboding, jet black LACMA expansion and to Renzo Piano’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Museum with its helmet-looking theater bulging out of the old May Company Building.
The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors yesterday approved the contribution of $125 million in bond funds to LACMA’s $600 million makeover, which, under the guidance of Peter Zumthor, would tear down most of the campus and snake over Wilshire Boulevard. The new 410,000 square foot building would open in 2023, with the remaining funding coming from private donations. According to the LA Times, LACMA director Michael Govan told the Board of Supervisors that the museum’s older buildings “are really ailing. They are not worth saving. The new building will be much more energy efficient and accessible to a broad public.”
Building the Picture
April 30 through September 2014
At the end of April, the National Gallery will present a new exhibit spotlighting the handling of architecture in various paintings by prominent Italian renaissance artists. Building The Picture will feature works by Duccio, Botticelli, Crivelli and others chosen from the museum’s permanent collection along with paintings gathered from other institutions in the U.K. These 14th, 15th, and 16th century images will be complemented by a series of five films that offer contemporary ideas on the theme of real and imagined architecture from Peter Zumthor, filmmaker Martha Fiennes, art historian T. J. Clark, film historian John David Rhodes, and computer game cinematic director Peter Gornstein.
The rumor-mill has been churning non-stop over LACMA director Michael Govan’s and architect Peter Zumthor’s plans for the museum. Basically it looks like they are planning to take LACMA apart and start over; an effort that failed when attempted by Rem Koolhaas and OMA back in the early 2000s. The full scope of the plans will be unveiled in June, with LACMA’s exhibition The Presence of the Past: Peter Zumthor Reconsiders LACMA. But for now we’ve gleaned that under Zumthor’s plan, not only would there be a new indoor/outdoor art park, but four of the museum’s midcentury structures would be replaced by “curvaceous modern glass structures.” That basically includes everything but the Bruce Goff pavilion and Renzo Piano’s new structures. Let’s see if the second time’s the charm.
The Wall Street Journal recently published a confirmation of two things we’ve been hearing whispers of for years: One, Michael Govan is more of a builder than a museum director; and two, that Govan and Peter Zumthor are planning to basically take LACMA apart and start over. The full scope of the plans will be unveiled in June, with LACMA’s exhibition, The Presence of the Past: Peter Zumthor Reconsiders LACMA. But for now the story has gleaned that under Zumthor’s plan, four of the museum’s midcentury structures will be replaced by “curvaceous modern glass structures.”
Pritzker winner Peter Zumthor will be awarded the 2013 Royal Institute of British Architects Gold Medal, according to Building Design. Known for his meticulously-wrought projects like the thermal baths in Vals, Switzerland, the Brother Klaus Field Chapel in Eifel, Germany, the Bregenz Kunsthall in Austria, and the witch trial memorial in Norway, Zumthor is now designing a major expansion at LACMA. “We debate each of the six shortlisted candidates in turn then look at their writing and their influence in acadaemia, but there wasn’t one clear person who stood out,” RIBA president Angela Brady told BD.
This year’s Serpentine pavilion by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor opens on Friday, July 1. The first images reveal not just a simple structure of humble materials but also a new type of collaboration for the Serpentine series. Zumthor invited the Dutch planting designer Piet Oudolf to join the project, and although Zumthor retains top billing, his design gives Oudolf center stage. Oudolf recently shared a plan with us of his vibrant garden scheme that forms the heart of the timber-frame structure.
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.