We got to see one of our favorite new architectural documentaries on Sunday, called Unfinished Spaces: Cuba’s Architecture of Revolution, by Alysa Nahmias and Ben Murray. The film documents the creation, and subsequent scuttling, of Cuba’s National Arts Schools. Designed by architects Ricardo Porro, Roberto Gottardi and Vittorio Garatti, the highly expressive Modernist schools, built mostly of Terra Cotta, were an example of visionary architecture and idealistic arts education for all, from dance to visual arts. But after the Castro government wearied of creative expression and embraced Soviet-style building, they changed their minds, shutting down construction, although classes later continued in the schools’ ruins. Now the country has once again done an about-face and is hoping to save them, despite a lack of government funding. Look at our next issue for a full review. And if you’re in LA, check out more screenings of the film on June 24 and June 25. Read More
Last week the New York chapter of the AIGA held its second annual “Fresh Blood” event, featuring top graduating students from design programs across the region. Ten students were given five minutes each to dazzle the crowd at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn with presentations related to their thesis research. Scott Stowell, the evening’s MC, kept things lively, peppering the students with questions about their work and cracking jokes that stoked school rivalries.
All the presentations were excellent, but here are a few that we just can’t stop talking about:
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Molded gypsum shapes a Chicago Merchandise Mart space.
The Steelcase Worklife Center is one of the Chicago Merchandise Mart’s largest showrooms, spanning 45,000 square feet and encompassing four areas displaying the furniture manufacturers’ various brands. The company hired Los Angeles-based architect Joey Shimoda, who also designed the Steelcase center in Santa Monica, to create interiors that would unify the showroom with the common corridor bisecting it. After reading about a project by molded gypsum, concrete, and fiberglass fabricator Formglas in a magazine, he called the company and was on a plane to its Toronto headquarters the next day to discuss a series of geometric architectural elements he envisioned for the space.
Yesterday that National Trust for Historic Preservation announced Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital had made its annual 11 Most Endangered List, bringing national attention to the fight to save the quatrefoil-plan, concrete building. Also yesterday, the local group Save Prentice staged a rally outside the building featuring speakers including Zurich Esposito of the Chicago AIA and Jim Peters from Landmarks Illinois.
We tried the new East River Ferry service this week and found some of the best views of the biggest projects in town. Though many of the renderings in circulation for developments like Domino Sugar Factory and Hunters Point show views from the river-front perspective, it’s rare that you actually get to see the sites from that angle–until now. We decided to give the ferry service a test-run to check out the viability of getting from an office in downtown Manhattan, such as ours on Murray Street, to Brooklyn and Queens, then completed the loop by heading back the 34th Street terminal.
David Hertz’s 747 House in Malibu— literally made from the wings and fuselage of a a retired 747— is not quite done (it’s residents are moving in now). But we’ve been able to get a few pictures of the house from photographer Sara Jane Boyers, who has been documenting the project since June 2008. Hertz obtained the 747 for $50,000, and has used every bit of it in the construction of the main residence and six ancillary structures (note the wing roofs and the engine fountain, for starters). Besides the obvious green-ness of being recycled from an airplane, the house also uses Solar power, radiant heating and natural ventilation. Enjoy these pix and stay tuned for more as the house finishes up.
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An 80-foot waterfall highlights the atrium of a new mixed-use development in Boston.
Atlantic Wharf is one of the newest additions to Boston’s changing downtown waterfront area. Located on the edge of Fort Point Channel, the one million-square-foot mixed-use center incorporates a series of restored and renovated structures built there more than 100 years ago. Beneath a new 31-story office tower, an 80-foot-high glass atrium encloses the original 19th-century street grid, creating a grand entrance to the tower from Congress Street. As a nod to the site’s history and Boston Harbor views, the building’s translucent glass screen wall is designed with a canted top resembling a sail. Working with developer Boston Properties, architect Childs Bertman Tseckares Inc. envisioned another nod to the site’s maritime past in the atrium. Custom water feature design and fabrication company Bluworld was brought on board to create a feature that would span the height and width of the space.
A sidewalk in France adds a bounce to your step. Atelier Raum Architects recently released their streetscape intervention La Ville Molle in Bourges, France, part of the city’s 5th annual Biennale of Contemporary Art. During their 2010 artist residency at the École Nationale Supérieure d’Art de Bourges (ENSA), the architecture firm developed the urban design project in conjunction with La Box, the ENSA student gallery, and the FRAC Centre (Fonds Regional d’Art Contemporain).
Situated in a medieval town square, the raised patch of cobblestone vacillates under spectators’ shifting weight. The installation is intended to alter the pedestrians’ urban experience and sense of gravity while the buoyant surface juxtaposes the apparent strength of a cobblestone plaza with the instability of walking on a balloon. Thus, the design demands contemplation on whether the traditional French city should embrace contemporary design as its modernization. (Via noquedanblogs.)