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.
By the time we realized there were no water taxis headed uptown and took the A train, instead, the Museum of Arts and Design’s opening day press conference was almost over and only a few diehard journo’s (Christopher Hawthorne, Robert Campbell) were still lurking around to talk to museum architect Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture (above in the catbird seat) about winning the four-year fight to turn a playboy’s private collection housed in crimson and burled panelling into a high-tech cabinet of craft curiosities. Asked what he thought about the space now that it’s chock-ablock with the kind of severe white (though some are black) Fort-Knox-style display cases favored by the downtown design store Moss, the architect said, “They have to learn how to play the instrument.”
There’s been a lot of questions about how the so-called credit crisis might impact the architecture and design industries. We’ve been tracking this for months, but so far no one has exactly admitted to apocalypse. Until now.
At a Vanity Fair party on Monday–the day the Dow dropped 504 points–man about town Richard Meier had some dour words for the Observer:
Over the weekend the bloggers of AN boarded the worlds most elegant form of public transportation-the venetian water taxi and headed to Marco Polo airport for the 11:35am Delta flight back to New York City and our offices on Murray Street. We are back to spritzless days, the New York subway rather than vaporettos, beautiful fall days in New York and the typically intense –and wonderful world of New York architecture. A press conference today on Lincoln Center’s design changes and tomorrow the new Brad Cloepfil designed MAD museum on Columbus Circle, Yale’s new art school on Friday and next week the opening of The Storefront for Art and Architectures’ restored facade. Now that we are up and running we will be blogging about all these events and more on the new AN blog! But where can we get a decent spritz in this city?