When a huge piece of a starchitect-designed building comes crashing to the ground, the architectural world tends to notice. We are of course talking about the recent reaction to the 176-pound piece of concrete that fell off Zaha Hadid’s Library and Learning Centre at Vienna University of Economics and Business. Making matters worse for Hadid, this is the second time the building has shed a piece of its skin. But Zaha is not alone; shed(-ding) happens.
It’s a battle of the starchitects in Mexico City—and the Brits are leading the pack. Out of the seven finalists short-listed to design an expansion for the capital city’s airport, Benito Juarez International, four hail from the UK: Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, and Pascall+Watson.
In a short film from Nowness, director Matthew Donaldson pulls us through Italian-born British architect Richard Rogers’ front door to explore his converted Georgian terrace in Chelsea, London, which he shares with his wife and restauranteur, Ruth Rogers, of the legendary River Café.
With a stunning brick facade and symmetrical multi-pane windows, the vast and bold interior spaces are rarely seen, though could only befit Mr. Rogers himself, who is renowned for his modernist and functionalist designs. Bursting with works by Andy Warhol, Philip Guston and Cy Twombly, the townhouse’s main living area, which the Rogers refer to as a piazza, features a dramatic staircase and an extensive mezzanine library.
With modular homes on the rise, it seems to be time to bid farewell to long months and even years of construction and salute fast-paced, pre-fabricated systems arriving across the globe. At the Royal Academy in London as part of the Inside Out exhibition, Richard Rogers’ firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) has introduced an innovative, environmentally efficient, three-and-a-half story home called the Homeshell. It is meant to inspire discussion about affordable mass housing. The flat-packed home on display contains individually installed windows and boasts a low environmental impact. Colorful facade materials enliven the closed timber frame system.
Richard Rogers turned 80 years old this week, making him the same age as Willie Nelson. You might think that’s a pointless comparison, but the Italian-born, British, self-described “left-winger” architect and the pot-smoking Texan Outlaw Country singer have more in common than one might at first suspect. At around the same time that Shotgun Willie was changing America by uniting the hippies and the red necks through music, Rogers and his buddy/collaborator Renzo Piano were converting critics into fawning admirers and altering the face of architecture with their design for the Centre Pompidou. “We thought of ourselves as bad boys who wanted to change the world, with the funny idea that you could do it through architecture,” is the way Piano put it in a recent article in The Guardian.
Almost a year ago, reports surfaces that, without an anchor tenant, the 80-story Three World Trade tower by Pritzker-winner Richard Rogers of Rogers, Stirk, Harbour + Partners would be lopped off at seven stories. Without an anchor tenant signing up for at least 400,000 square feet of space in the $300 million tower, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey will not guarantee the project’s debt. Mayor Bloomberg is optimistic, though, telling the New York Post last week that the tower is “closer than anyone realizes” to landing that all-important tenant, which could be GroupM, a subsidiary of advertising giant WPP. The Post said the company is interested in 550,000 square feet of the tower’s 2.8 million total square feet. If a deal is signed and construction continues, the tower could be complete in 2015.
Bloomberg also delivered the not-unexpected news that Norman Foster’s 88-story Two World Trade tower will likely remain a stump for the near future. SOM’s One World Trade and Fumihiko Maki’s Four World Trade are expected to be finished by the end of the year. In the meantime, take a look back at Silverstein’s blockbuster video rendering of the complete World Trade Center site.
After today’s announcement of Norman Fosters next project in New York, a luxury condo tower at the United Nations, we just can’t get enough of the British starchitect. Luckily, a stash of video renderings and presentations from the firms behind the planned 425 Park tower can provide just the fix. It wasn’t too long ago that the starchitect-filled competition for the new Park Avenue tower selected Foster + Partners as its winner. Now after the design presentations at the recent MAS Summit and the release of photo renderings from all players—including runners up Richard Rogers, Rem Koolhaas, and Zaha Hadid—we can indulge in the virtual demonstrations of their designs.
Richard Rogers’ planned 80-story Three World Trade Center could come in a little short—okay, 73-stories short—if office tenants aren’t found for the under-construction tower by the end of the year. Crain’s reports that developer Larry Silverstein plans to cap the tower at seven floors and fill the podium with retail uses. If an anchor tenant is later found—as late as 2020—the building’s cap can be removed and construction resumed to reach its original height.
Since the Obamas moved to Washington, we’ve been waiting for the administration to make good on its promises for new government policy on architecture and planning. There may be hope yet: While the president spends his days in Europe with politicians, Michelle has been making the rounds of innovative social centers. Building Design caught the first lady with Ivan Harbour and Richard Rogers at their Maggie’s Centre in Hammersmith, London. Let’s hope she was as impressed with the architecture of the centre—promoted by its co-founder Charles Jencks—as with its innovative programming for women with cancer.