BOFFO is an arts and culture non-profit fostering collaborations between artists, designers, communities, and theorists to inform and engage the public in participatory arts programs. In late May, it launched a show house at a Lower East Side public school building turned apartment house, called The Madison Jackson. It turned out to be a clever draw getting people to a neighborhood that is lower and farther east than more popular sections of the LES. I speak from familiarity as I live in a perch overlooking the venue. The glam show house is unusual for a neighborhood comprised largely of public housing blocks next to tall towers that formerly were union cooperatives and as close to socialist housing as we’ve had in NYC.
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A preview of the collaboration behind the entryway to Ras Al Khaimah
Snøhetta’s 656-foot-tall Gateway tower, 93 miles east of Dubai, will mark the entrance to the new planned capital city of the United Arab Emirates, Ras Al Khaimah. Inspired by the surrounding desert and mountain landscape, the project’s undulating form will bring almost 3 million square feet of mixed-use space to the city, which is being master planned by Netherlands-based firm OMA. Snøhetta has designed a prototype of the building’s white-scaled skin in collaboration with Dubai-based lightweight composite manufacturer Premier Composite Technologies (PCT).
Mayor Bloomberg’s vision for a pedestrian-friendly Times Square is about to be written in stone. On September 27, Snøhetta gave Community Board 5 a preview of things to come at the Crossroads of the World, and they look a lot more permanent than lawn chairs and painted pavements. Principal Craig Dykers presented designs for dark and darker pavers that largely eliminate any bias for an automotive Broadway, stepping the plaza streetscape up to sidewalk grade and adding elongated benches to indicate long-gone traffic patterns. In homage to New York noir, the designers have also embedded nickel-sized reflectors adding a hard bit of glitz to the dark stones that will not compete with the glam above.
According to an email from Seth Solomonow, Press Secretary at the NYC Department of Transportation: “This long-planned redesign will restore the aging utilities below the street, which itself hasn’t been rebuilt in more than 50 years and still has trolley tracks beneath the asphalt. On the surface, this simple, flexible design will clear obstructions and support the growing number of programs occurring in Times Square, which more than 350,000 people visit every day.”
It’s been several weeks since our last visit to the World Trade Center site. On our return today we were taken with the manner in which different architects handle ventilation at the site. The most obvious example are the two large vent structures that protrude from the west side of the Memorial Plaza. The concrete buildings are a necessary solution to a complicated infrastructure problem. Davis Brody Bond (now Aedas) designed a mesh mask for the concrete structures and workers were putting the finishing touches on south building today.
Toronto’s Ryerson University announced plans this week for a bold Student Learning Center designed by Oslo-based Snøhetta and Zeidler Partnership Architects of Toronto. The 8-story structure will mix passive and active academic uses with street-level retail and will serve as the university’s front door on busy Yonge Street.
It’s been a couple of weeks since we stopped by the WTC site. The most striking aspect from the street remains the speed with which glass surfaces begin to rise. It seems like only yesterday that three stories of glass wrapped around Tower One. Now with ten stories completed, the quartz-like surfaces start to take shape. At the Memorial Museum, Snohetta’s glass has flown up in what seems a matter of days. The facade already reflects the grove, whose trees continue their own march toward West Street.
Under the banner Let’s Talk About Houses, the second Lisbon Architecture Triennale opened last night in three different venues around the Portuguese capital. A beautifully renovated electric generating plant featured the results of two competitions: one for the low-income immigrant Portuguese community Cova da Moura, and a second for a house in Luanda, Angola. Meanwhile, a second exhibit on artists working in the realm of architecture is being staged at the contemporary Museo do Chiado (I’ll have more on these two shows in a subsequent post). The most ambitious of the three exhibitions, however, is on view at the Museu Coleção Berardo along the city’s architecturally fascinating waterfront in a district called Belem. Read More
We got an email earlier today from Leni Schwendinger, principal of Light Projects, informing us that she was also part of the team redesigning Times Square, a terrible omission from the original announcement given that this probably the most well-lit place on the planet. “As a location singularly (and controversially) known for lighting and light, the Times Square win is very important,” Schwendinger wrote. “It is Light Projects’ opportunity to redefine the role of light in the public space of Times Square for pedestrians.” (Graphic designers Pure and Applied and engineers Buro Happold are also on the Snohetta-led team.) This revelation led to a nice little discussion on the nature of Times Squares’ gigawhattage and some brainstorming on what might make a good design. Read More