Making lists is a time-honored September New York ritual as we all trash the beach reading and play serious catch-up as quickly as possible, reading back-to-back The New York Times’ The New Season feature on September 7 followed by New York magazine’s Fall Preview (Don’t be confused by cover dates, the Times’ Sunday edition came out one day ahead).
And now, to New York architecture critic Justin Davidon’s worthy and lengthy survey of new glass buildings across the city “Glass Stampede” (of which we read every word on a long flight recently), there is Nicolai Ouroussoff’s tossed-off and irresponsible “New York City, Tear Down These Walls”. Maybe the guy should be applying the principles of adaptive reuse to architecture rather than to his journalism.
Following our report on the Porta Nuova project, developed by Hines in Milan, Grimshaw has released new images of their Exhibition Hall, an anchor in the development’s Garibaldi section. The Exhibition Hall features a dramatic metal skin draped over the building’s roof and walls, which peels into ribbon-like forms to reveal the structure within. The building follows the contours of the site, creating an “urban sculpture,” according to a statement by the architects. The piazza-facing entrance is fully glazed, revealing the activity inside and helping to animate the public space. A top floor restaurant will lead to a large roof terrace with commanding views of the Alps. Like all of Porta Nuova, the Exhibition Hall will be built to LEED standards.
As you already know, things aren’t going so well for architects right now, economically speaking. We got word earlier today that a certain three-letter firm laid off more than 100 employees in recent weeks, and smaller firms have been shedding staff as well. But there is hope yet. Should you be fired, that is.
Amid the endless hand wringing about design and planning compromises and the pace of construction at the World Trade Center site, the dedication of the Pentagon Memorial on September 11 offered some solace. A simpler project by far, the Pentagon Memorial still took years longer to complete than expected. “When we got the commission, we took an 18 month lease in Alexandria, Virginia,” said Julie Beckman, one of the memorial’s designers, “but it ended up being a 66 month long project.” Fundraising for the memorial, all which came from private sources, proved challenging, but the architects believe the extra time improved project as built. “It was a blessing in disguise,” she said.
Two blockbuster California buildings are set to open this week:
Renzo Piano’s California Academy of Sciences opens to the public this Saturday. We’re working on a critique of the building and another story about the unheralded team that put the project together with Renzo Piano’s firm for our October California issue. The amazing LEED Platinum structure, with its undulating Green Roof, has already received some critiques. Alan Hess, writing for the San Jose Mercury News, finds the design “timid.” Despite praising the roof, Hess worries that it’s not well integrated into the rest of the project. As for the rest, it doesn’t manage to “draw attention to itself.” Inhabitat, meanwhile, considers the Academy a “crowning achievement of sustainable architecture.”
Meanwhile SOM’s Cathedral of Christ the Light, in Oakland, opens this Thursday. According to SOM, “With the exception of evening activities, the Cathedral is lit entirely by daylight to create an extraordinary level of luminosity.” Indeed. Douglas fir beams also help warm the interior, while glass and concrete will create a unique exterior shell. Can’t wait to see it when it opens.
Last evening a crowd of one hundred or so gathered on museum mile in front of the Guggenheim Museum to mark the completion of its three-year renovation project with a champagne reception and a ceremony officiated by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Arriving fashionably late, Bloomberg addressed the crowd with his typical charisma, candidly remarking that the new restoration is “one of the best facelifts on 5th Avenue.” Bloomberg also stated that despite the tough financial times we have recently come upon, the City will continue investing in art and cultural institutions, like the Guggenheim. At the conclusion of Bloomberg’s speech, the official ribbon cutting ceremony revealed a large sign draped over the front exterior of the building that read, “Good As New.” Marc Steglitz, the Guggenheim Museum’s Interim Director-Elect, later commented that the building is actually “better than new,” but said that he was told that he could not say that in fear of the lurking preservationists in the crowd!
During an unrelated call earlier today, Craig Dykers, head of Snohetta’s New York office and the man behind the 9/11 memorial pavilion, divulged that he was rather disappointed with the renderings that the city released last week to widespread fanfare. It’s bad enough that the design has been scaled back–like everything else on the site–but Dykers said that officials also went behind the firm’s back to have the renderings done. He was then kind enough to send along some model shots he greatly prefers. Check ‘em out after the jump.
The Storefront for Architecture and Control Group have announced the winners of an international competition to rethink the White House. The competition attracted some 450 entries who responded with plenty of You-Tube ready concepts, from top prize winner, Revenge of The Lawn, to an honorable mention for a White House Paradise (above). With project descriptions about “prose poems of the modern architectural folk tale” and suggestions to recast the manse in mood tattoos, the debt to Superstudio is very clear. But we can’t wonder if the whole thing had already been upstaged by the prospect of the big house done up in Sarah Palin’s bordello decor.
Always one to take our own advice, AN headed out for a stroll along Sixth Avenue at lunch today to check out a few of the PARK(ing) spaces that had been set up there by enterprising designers.
The first stop was the Yahoo! Purple Bike Park, granted not designed by anyone we know, but it was the closest to the 14th Street 2/3 Station–part of the reason AN is such a fan of PARK(ing) Day is because AN never drives. Because there were no big plots of grass around (more on that later), we failed to find the Yahoo! park on first pass. On to Cook + Fox.
The fine folks over at the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation announced yesterday that the design team for Governor’s Island has officially begun work on its tripartite master plan for the former Coast Guard outpost off the tip of Manhattan. As with most large-scale government projects, the agency is seeking public comment to inform the designs, but this time out they’ve gone the extra step of doing online outreach.