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.
It’s such a shame that we live in areas so full of secrecy. Why won’t Hollywood stars in Los Angeles or tech moguls in San Francisco let architects spread the word about their million dollar houses? Sure we hear dribs and drabs. For instance that Sergei Brin and a major executive at Yahoo! have both commissioned San Francisco architect Olle Lundberg to design their new abodes. But these tidbits are far too infrequent. So we at Eavesdrop are making a plea for you to share gossip on who is designing for the most famous people you can think of. We promise, we won’t divulge our sources. And we won’t partner with Us Weekly. Probably.
Thirty-four months have gone by since the Scott Johnson–designed Museum Tower hove into view and the Nasher Sculpture Center is still, er, gnashing its teeth. Every afternoon at around three o’clock glaring sunlight reflects off of the condo’s mirror like glass curtain wall, invading the Renzo Piano–designed skylit galleries, burning holes in the lawn, defoliating the trees, and no doubt increasing the air conditioning bill. Thirty-four months and nothing has been done to make it right, until June.
Major museums are really expensive these days, and boy do we like to complain about it (actually we get into most museums for free with a press pass, but we still love to complain about it)! Well gather ‘round dear readers, because we’ve got a bit of nice news for once. The new Renzo Piano–designed Whitney Museum is offering free admission for a year to all the men and women who are building their new Meatpacking location. It’s a nice counter to all the bad news about labor conditions at major cultural and educational institutions in the Middle East (we’re looking at you, NYU).
Peeping Toms, bust out the kazoos. Your field day has arrived—and it comes equipped with party favors. The Shard, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, is London’s tallest skyscraper and, as of last week, home to a new luxury hotel. The rooms include breathtaking views of the city—and, thanks to a design flaw, unscrupulous views of unsuspecting neighbors.
Glass panels on the Shard’s exterior bestow the building with a crystalline front and its namesake. But at night, the city’s lights turn the glass into mirrors that fully reflect guest bedrooms into each other. Complementary binoculars (“for the view,” ahem) don’t help matters. Nor do puns about the naked eye. Masking a blush? Rest easy—susceptible rooms include shades for extra privacy.
In sad but spectacular gossip news, we’ve been informed that Culver City firm SPF:a has been removed from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’ new museum project in Los Angeles. SPF:a principal Zoltan Pali had been working with Renzo Piano on the project since 2012.
Renzo Piano’s Nasher Sculpture Center was designed with natural sunlight in mind. A roof covered by pierced aluminum screens allows dappled light to enter its art galleries in subtle warmth. The outdoor sculpture garden is open to the elements and a specifically-planted landscape by Peter Walker reaps the benefits of the Texan sun.
Since its construction in 2005, the museum has become an icon of the Dallas Arts District. In 2011, a 42-story condominium building went up across the street, banking on the popularity of Piano’s art haven. While the glazed curved glass facade of “Museum Tower” offers million dollar views of the museum below, it burns the artworks and plants with a directed glare.
Now, a pair of New York–based architects might have a solution.
You might know Renzo Piano as the architect behind many of the world’s leading museums, but get ready to meet Renzo Piano, wind-turbine expert. Testing has commenced on Renzo Piano’s small-scale wind-turbine blade at the Molinetto Test Field near Pisa, Italy. Piano’s turbine blade resembles a dragonfly’s wing and incorporates elements from the insect that promote stability in flight in order to allow the turbine to tolerate gale-force winds.