House in Cambridge by Armando and di Robilant

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Armando and di Robilant updated an historic Cambridge home with a layered facade and oversize windows. (Paolo Rosselli)

Armando and di Robilant updated an historic Cambridge home with a layered facade and oversize windows. (Paolo Rosselli)

A translucent polycarbonate skin transforms an early-19th century Massachusetts home.

On a well-traveled street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, about halfway between Harvard University and MIT, sits a house not like its neighbors. Its simple massing and pitched roof indicate old bones. But its skin is all 21st century. The house, recently renovated by Alessandro Armando and Manfredo di Robilant, is clad in translucent polycarbonate panels that reveal the structural and insulating layers beneath. For the architects, the project was an experiment in applying a cladding system designed for large-scale projects to a single-family home. “We thought this could be a possible test-bed for something more standard, something that could at least be thought of as a standard way of renovating and improving a typical American detached house,” said di Robilant. “This house is very small, but we’re now trying to fit it toward possible standardization of this approach.” Read More

Woods Bagot Sets Lofty Heights for ‘Modern Colosseum’ in Rome

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(Courtesy Woods Bagot)

Rome is home to what is likely the most iconic example of sport architecture on the planet. The Colosseum is a distant precedent for the design of most stadiums, but Woods Bagot has chosen to make the connection explicit in their new project for local soccer club AS Roma. The international firm has unveiled their vision for a new, more centrally located venue set to open at the start of the 2016–2017 season.

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Frank Gehry’s World Trade Center Performing Arts Center Facing Many, Many Challenges

Architecture, Development, East
Friday, March 28, 2014
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Gehry's Plan for the Performing Arts Center. (Courtesy Gehry Parners)

Gehry’s Plan for the Performing Arts Center. (Courtesy Gehry Parners)

As the key elements of the World Trade Center site inch closer to completion, it looks like the Frank Gehry–designed Performing Arts Center might be left behind. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Center faces incredibly daunting logistical and financial roadblocks that could doom the project entirely. So, where to start? With the money, of course.

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With Great Height Comes Greater Challenges: Questions Linger as Construction Begins on Massive Kingdom Tower

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(Courtesy Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill)

A kilometer is less than a mile but still more than a Burj Khalifa. This truism means that Kingdom Tower is still set to be the worlds tallest building now that construction has begun in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah. Though the initial projected height of a mile has since been whittled down to a mere kilometer, problems continue to beset the oft-delayed $1.2 billion project.

More after the jump.

Sonoran Desert Vernacular by CO Architects

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CO Architects studied the Sonoran Desert to create a new urban vernacular for Phoenix. (Bill Timmerman)

CO Architects studied the Sonoran Desert to create a new urban vernacular for Phoenix. (Bill Timmerman)

Red-rock mountains and the saguaro cactus inspired the Health Sciences Education Building’s rippling copper facade.

Downtown Phoenix, observed CO Architects’ Arnold Swanborn, looks a lot like downtown Minneapolis. That feels wrong, given the two cities’ contrasting environments. So when it came to designing the Health Sciences Education Building (HSEB) at Phoenix Biomedical Campus (which won honorable mention for facades in AN’s Best of Design Awards), CO Architects went back to nature—to the Sonoran Desert in particular. “We’re building in a desert. We really, in the outset, wanted to understand what it’s like to build in a desert environment, to really go back and investigate the people who first moved there, or even some of the [American] Indians who lived [there],” said Swanborn. “The skin is really a response to some of the lessons we learned from going out to the desert, being out there and seeing how plants and animals adapted to that environment.” Read More

Frank Lloyd Wright’s SC Johnson Research Tower Opening to Public Tours For First Time

Frank Lloyd Wright's SC Johnson Research Tower will open for tours in May. (PRNewsFoto/SC Johnson)

Frank Lloyd Wright’s SC Johnson Research Tower will open for tours in May. (PRNewsFoto/SC Johnson)

An unusually vertical Frank Lloyd Wright building in Wisconsin will open its doors to the public for the first time since its construction in 1950. The Research Tower in Racine, Wisconsin has housed SC Johnson for 32 years, anchoring its 153-foot tall mass with a distinctive “taproot” foundation.

More information after the jump.

New Ideas in Vertical Thinking: eVolo reveals winners of 2014 Skyscraper Competition

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Vernacular Versatility, the winner of the 2014 eVolo Skyscraper Competition. (Courtesy eVolo)

Each year eVolo Magazine hosts a competition soliciting new visions for vertical living. This year’s iteration of the nine-year-old Skyscraper Competition received 525 projects from 43 countries. Out of this vast field, three winners were announced with Yong Ju Lee of New York–based firm E/B Office taking first prize for his project Vernacular Versatility.

All the winners after the jump.

French designer imagines skyscrapers dripping with flowers in Casablanca

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(Courtesy Maison Edouard François)

French designer Maison Edouard François has presented designs for The Gardens of Anfa, a project consisting of three residential towers, a low-rise office building, and several ancillary structures all situated within a large plot of parkland in Morroco. The four largest components of the design are clad in various flowers that pour down curved, irregular facades. The peripheral buildings are rectilinear and appear largely free of the organic attire found on their taller neighbors.

More after the jump.

Construction Underway at Norman Foster’s 610 Lexington Avenue Tower

(Courtesy Foster + Partners)

(Courtesy Foster + Partners)

Norman Foster has broken ground on a skinny residential tower in Midtown Manhattan. Situated adjacent to the 1958 Seagram Building on the site of a former YWCA, Foster + Partners‘ 61-story white luxury tower at 610 Lexington Avenue will dwarf Mies van der Rohe’s 38-story bronze-clad landmark.

“It’s not simply about our new building, but about the composition it creates together with one of the 20th century’s greatest,” said Foster + Partners’ Chris Connell in a statement. “In contrast to Seagram’s dark bronze, our tower will have a pure white, undulating skin. Its proportions are almost impossibly slim and the views will be just incredible.”

UT Student Installation Takes SXSW

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Undergraduates at UT designed Caret 6 as a backdrop for TEX-FAB's annual competition exhibition. (Casey Dunn)

Undergraduates at UT designed Caret 6 as a backdrop for TEX-FAB’s annual competition exhibition. (Casey Dunn)

A room-filling parametric design makes its way from the classroom to Austin’s famous music festival.

When Kory Bieg and his students at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture began working on Caret 6, they had no idea that it would wind up at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) music and arts festival. But the rippling, room-filling installation soon took on a life of its own. Within months, Bieg’s undergraduates—who had little previous exposure to digital design—had designed and fabricated Caret 6, and assembled and disassembled it twice, first at the TEX-FAB SKIN: Digital Assemblies Symposium in February, and then at Austin’s most famous annual gathering in March. Read More

Architects of Air Build Inflatable Cathedrals of Psychadelic Space

(Courtesy Architects of Air)

(Courtesy Architects of Air)

To build an inhabitable luminaire you need little more than colored plastic sheeting and an air compressor and the ability to expose said construction to natural light. The finished products are far greater than the sum of the parts, producing results that seem to suggest a series of more elaborately ornamented James Turrell installations. They are the brainchildren of Architects of Air (AoA), a British company that has erected temporary luminaires throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States.

More after the jump.

Shigeru Ban’s Mt. Fuji Visitors Center Flips the Mountain Upside Down

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(Courtesy Shigeru Ban Architects)

In the summer of 2013, Mt. Fuji was named a UNESCO World Heritage site. The designation was of the cultural rather than the natural variety, in part because of the way the mountain has “inspired artists and poets.” Japanese architect Shigeru Ban plans to add a quite literal architectural chapter to this legacy of inspiration in the form of a visitor center commemorating the mountain’s recently-minted status.

More after the jump.

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