Street artist Blu recently made LA headlines when his commissioned mural for MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary (featuring coffins draped by dollar bills) was subsequently whitewashed by MOCA itself. In a statement, MOCA called the mural, which was across from the LA Veterans’ Affairs Hospital, “inappropriate,” and the move has angered (to say the least) the street art community.
For those of you unfamiliar with Blu, please take a look at this video, called Big Bang Big Boom. There are no special effects, just stop-action animation; a dazzling combination of architecture and art. It’s unclear where he shot this piece, but he obviously needed to find an area with lots of empty, and largely abandoned, walls and lots. We’re blown away, so to speak.
MVRDV just completed “Le Monolithe,” a mixed-use project in Lyon, France featuring social housing, apartments, disabled residences, offices, and retail organized along a central exterior axis of courtyards. The 350,000 square foot structure overlooks the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers and represents a collaboration of several architects and landscape architects.
A recent trip to Barcelona for the World Architecture Festival (WAF) made clear to me just how well the nations of the European Union do at updating their historic centers. American tourists, of course, go to places like Spain to see medieval or Renaissance urbanism not contemporary cities. And that’s a shame because we could learn a great deal about how to build today and add intelligently to our own 19th and 20th century cities.
Aye, those swashbucklin’ pirates are at it again, matey! This time, though, they’re not after gold, DVDs, or designer purses, but the identities of architects. The Guardian‘s Jonathan Glancey relates that Chinese firms posing as British officers of Aedas and Broadway Maylan have been pursuing bids with false information. He points out the dangers that such a development might entail for the profession and wonders if starchitects like Zaha Hadid could be the next victims.
This is the last Venice Architecture Biennale post for 2010–I promise! The organization that oversees all the Venetian biennales (art, film, music etc.), la Biennale di Venezia, sent us a press release with the numbers from the just concluded architecture exhibition. It claims that 170,000 people visited the event, a 31% increase over the last architecture exhibit in 2008 (which had 129,323 attendees). It should be pointed out however that the older and more established art biennale had 375,702 attendees in 2009. The exhibition included the participation of 53 Countries and 20 Collateral events sponsored by international institutions and organizations and located in various venues in and around Venice. Read More
Terence Riley has been selected to head the Shenzhen & Hong Kong Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture. After leaving his post as chief curator of architecture and design at MoMA, Riley set out to revamp the Miami Art Museum. Key to his tenure in Miami was a drive to move the museum into a new $100 million building designed by Herzog & de Meuron. But with economic downturn, the project stalled and Riley resigned in October of 2009.
The new appointment makes him the first non-Chinese curator to head the five-year-old event. The program, which will be announced next year, focuses on the unique character of Hong Kong, Shenzhen and on young cities in particular. As Shenzhen’s extraordinary growth has taken it from a fishing village to a major metropolis in only the past 50 years, it’s a natural fit for the event.
“The full program is still being developed, but our idea is to create a paradigm that considers the cyclical growth pattern of urban cities such as Shenzhen, where cities create architecture, architecture creates cities, and how the process continues without end,” Riley said in a statment. “At a time when sustainability is imperative, the idea of describing an open process that takes into account its own renewal and constant evolution is essential.”
Would you stay in a 15-story structure built in six days? Through the magic of prefabrication, one new hotel in Changsha, China was built erector-set-style at just such a fantastic pace and recorded through time-lapse photography. The better term might be constructed in six days, however, as the building’s foundation and the factory-made pieces were already finished at the beginning of this architectural ballet, but the feat proves rather amazing nonetheless.
While you might have never heard of Changsha, China, home to the new Ark Hotel, the country’s 19th largest city mirrors the building’s rapid growth. Changsha tripled in size between the 1940s and 1980s and today contains an estimated population of 6.6 million.
While such a quickly constructed building might seem prone to shoddy construction, the Ark Hotel is reportedly built to withstand a magnitude 9 earthquake, meaning a quake over 1,000 times more powerful than January’s quake in Haiti. Call us skeptical, but we’d opt to be out of the building when disaster strikes.
!melk, a brand new landscape architecture and urban design firm, is set to join Arata Isozaki, Daniel Libeskind, and Zaha Hadid, among others, for CityLife, an enormous development planned for the historic Fiera di Milano neighborhood in Milan. The New York-based !melk, which was founded less than a year ago when Jerry van Eyck left West 8 and teamed up with Evan Rose, won an international competition to design a multi-level piazza, sculpture park, and butterfly garden/pavilion situated within Libeskind’s master plan. CityLife will include skyscrapers by Isozaki, Libeskind and Hadid, as well as a museum of modern art, commercial center, housing complexes, and a new subway station. !melk collaborated on its submission with the London-based landscape architect Gustafson Porter as well as One Works and Arup in Milan. Read More
At Artek’s 75th anniversary dinner last week, we heard the news that the Finnish furniture company had acquired the entire share capital of compatriot company Aero Design Furniture (ADF) from owner Juhani Lemmetti, allowing Artek to begin selling the full Ilmari Tapiovaara family of furniture owned by ADF. An admirer of Artek founder Alvar Aalto, Tapiovaara also used architecture as the foundation for his work and his pieces will be a great complement to Artek’s line. With the launch of Artek USA earlier this year and expansion in Europe and Japan, the company is poised to help the Tapiovaara collection find new admirers as well. Read More
The World Architecture Festival is in its third year of existence, and, despite the worldwide recession, seems to have more attendees, trade show participants, and strong projects in its awards program. In what is surely a sign of the times, however, there seem to be many more strong projects in the “future” category than completed buildings. As it has been for the past three years, AN was the event’s American media sponsor, and this year I juried projects in the category of “Future Health and Education Buildings.” Read More
Abandoned and nearly lost, the Zonnestraal Sanatorium in Hilversum, Netherlands has been meticulously restored to its former glory by Bierman Henket architecten and Wessel de Jonge architecten. In honor of their efforts, the two firms were awarded the 2010 World Monuments Fund / Knoll Modernism Prize. Alan Brake penned an article for the print edition of The Architect’s Newspaper:
Designed in 1926–1928 by Johannes Duiker and Bernard Bijvoet and completed in 1931, the sanatorium is considered a seminal work of early modernism. Though it was well known when it was built, the structure was eventually abandoned, and since then nearly subsumed by the surrounding landscape. Portions of the three-building complex were almost completely lost, so many parts of the sanatorium had to be meticulously reconstructed, including formerly mass-produced elements that had to be recreated by hand.