Bing Thom Architects Takes the Stage in Washington, D.C.

Envelope
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
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Bing Thom Architects designed a 650-foot long timber-backed glass curtain wall to envelope three theaters. (Nic Lehoux/courtesy Bing Thom Architects)

Bing Thom Architects designed a 650-foot long timber-backed glass curtain wall to envelope three theaters. (Nic Lehoux)

A timber-backed glass facade provides transparency, acoustical isolation, and resiliency for a historic theater complex in the nation’s capital.

When the Mead Center for Performing Arts in Washington D.C. hired Vancouver-based Bing Thom Architects to double the institution’s square footage without disturbing two historic theaters designed by treasured architect Harry Weese, it was clear to firm principal Michael Heeney that standard solutions would not suffice. For one, the theater facilities were insufficient and outdated. More troublesome, however, was the fact that passenger jet liners taking off and landing at Regan National Airport across the Potomac River were so loud they were interrupting performances. The architects had to find a solution to mitigate this cacophony both for the existing structures as well as for the expansion—a new theater called Arena Stage.

“We had to achieve acoustical separation and isolation from exterior noise in a way that was respectful and maintained the integrity of the original structures,” Heeney told AN. Building off an approach that originated from a project in Surrey, British Columbia, the design team decided to wrap the triangular-shaped complex in glass with timber column supports, topped off with a 500-foot cantilevered roof. With the help of structural engineers at Fast + Epp and facade consultancy Heintges, the team extrapolated the Surrey solution to provide even greater transparency for the existing Weese theaters, Arena Stage, and a variety of mixed use spaces totaling 200,000 square feet. Read More

Michael Graves’ Portland Building Could Be In Jeopardy

News, Newsletter, Preservation, West
Monday, January 13, 2014
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Portland Building (Flickr/Camknows)

Portland Building (Flickr/Camknows)

If several Portland city commissioners have their way Michael Graves‘ alternately loved and hated Portland Building (1982), now facing a $95 million renovation, will be torn down. One of the most famous examples of postmodern architecture in the United States, the 15-story, 31-year-old structure is known for its small square windows, exaggerated historical motifs, playful, varied materials, gaudy colors, and, of course, its cameo on the opening to the show Portlandia (also the name of the larger-than-life statue over the building’s front door).

Continue reading after the jump.

Pittsburgh’s New Mayor to “Focus On Underserved Neighborhoods”

City Terrain, Midwest, News, Urbanism
Friday, January 10, 2014
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Pittsburgh (Sakeeb Sabakka via flickr)

(Sakeeb Sabakka via flickr)

Pittsburgh’s new mayor took office this week, and with him comes a cabinet division dedicated to neighborhood development. The Steel City has largely scrubbed its image as an ailing post-industrial town in recent years, drawing in new artists and young professionals, but the revival has not touched all parts of the city equally.

Continue reading after the jump.

Multifaceted Transformer Wall Makes the Most of a Small Space

Design, International
Thursday, January 9, 2014
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Transformer Wall (Vlad Mishin)

The hidden door has long been a standby of Scooby Doo episodes and spy movies. It’s even found a place in Mitt Romney’s new Utah mansion. Now Russian designer Vlad Mishin has created a modern and practical take on the popular Hollywood gag through his Transformer Wall, a visually striking means of adding new levels of flexibility to a small apartment interior.

Read more after the jump.

Daniel Libeskind designs metallic apartment building for Berlin

International
Thursday, January 9, 2014
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Chausseestrasse 43 ©PX2

Chausseestrasse 43 ©PX2

Daniel Libeskind has unveiled his plans for a new apartment complex in the emerging Berlin suburb of Chausseestrasse. Set for completion in 2015, the 8-story building called Chausseestrasse 43,  will accommodate retail functions on street level and 73 individual apartments on the upper levels.

Continue reading after the jump.

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Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Respond to DS+R Plan to Tear Down Folk Art Building at MoMA

Architecture, East, Preservation
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
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Conceptual sketch of DS+R's plans for MoMA. (Courtesy DS+R)

Conceptual sketch of DS+R’s plans for MoMA. (Courtesy DS+R)

Diller, Scofidio + Renfro announced today that their reorganization of the Museum of Modern Art will include the replacement of Tod Williams and Billie Tsien’s former American Folk Art Museum at 45 West 53rd street. Liz Diller said in her briefing that DS+R hoped to save the Folk Art building and repurpose it into a usable exhibit space or a connecting bridge between the new Jean Nouvel tower (which will have three floors of MoMA galleries) and the older parts of MoMA. However, “saving” the structure with its misaligned floors (to MOMA existing galleries) would mean compromising the integrity of the Williams Tsien structure.

One can imagine the logic of DS+R’s decision, but Williams and Tsien are, like any architects, sad to see the demise of their 2001 building that Herbert Muschamp said “transcend(s) cultural categories even as it helps define them.”

Read Williams and Tsien’s statement after the jump.

LSU’s Building Design Renaissance

Architecture, Envelope, Southwest
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
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Viracon manufactured a custom double-pane insulated glass unit ceramic fritting and one-way mirroring. (Brad Feinknopf/Feinknopf)

Viracon manufactured a custom double-pane insulated glass unit ceramic fritting and one-way mirroring. (Brad Feinknopf/Feinknopf)

ikon.5 Architects designs a reflective, fritted facade in the visual tradition of the campus’ original craftsmanship.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, New Jersey–based ikon.5 Architects had an opportunity to reinvent the image of Lousiana State University’s E.J. Ourso College of Business. The original campus, designed in 1928 by the Olmsted Group, was planned as an Italian Renaissance village, which functioned as the economic engine of Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico region for nearly 75 years. ikon.5 and local firm Coleman Partners Architects, used the circumstances of Katrina’s aftermath to give the business school a progressive image, while staying true to the University’s prescriptive aesthetic guidelines.

Maintaining the classical layout of the main square—head houses at either end with smaller classrooms lining an expanse of lawn—the design committee made several concessions in the 2012 update. In the past, guidelines dictated that all buildings feature the original craftsmen’s stucco formula, which was made from crushed white pebbles and seashells. But for the 21st century, LSU’s Design Committee decided that updating materiality would be a forward-thinking representation of the school’s influence and thus approved a new glass skin for the business school’s graduate and undergraduate classroom buildings. Read More

Out of Chaos, Japanese Designers Shape a Pop-Up Bar Made From Reed-Grass

Exterior view of Yoshi bar, courtesy Takeshi Asano

Exterior view of Yoshi bar, courtesy Takeshi Asano

Designer Naoya Matsumoto and her peers at Seian University of Art and Design have created a unique meeting space for students on the Japanese campus. Their creation, a pop-up bar, is created from six panels of locally-sourced reeds called Yoshi. The chaotic construction resembles a traditional gabled roof structure in abstract form. Each year, students of the design school are challenged to create objects from the Yoshi reeds which grow freely around Lake Biwa, an area close to the university campus.

Continue reading after the jump.

At SCI-Arc, the Magic is Inside the Box; Eric Owen Moss Explains Why

SCI-ARC IS PLANNING A NEW DIGITAL FABRICATION LAB KNOWN AS THE "MAGIC BOX" (SCI-ARC)

SCI-ARC IS PLANNING A NEW DIGITAL FABRICATION LAB KNOWN AS THE “MAGIC BOX” (SCI-ARC)

“Actually, the box isn’t magic, so don’t be disappointed you didn’t get ahold of Merlin the Magician,” Eric Owen Moss said at the start of a recent interview. Moss, director of the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), was referring to the school’s new digital fabrication lab.

Dubbed the Magic Box, the two-story, prefabricated steel structure will be constructed at the south end of the SCI-Arc building. But Moss didn’t want to focus on the laboratory itself, which was designed by several architects affiliated with SCI-Arc (including Moss’s own firm). Instead, he said, “the game is, what’s inside is magic. It’s not so much the object, but what the object contains.”

Continue reading after the jump.

Cincinnati Art Museum seeks new director; Aaron Betsky steps down

Art, Midwest, Shft+Alt+Del
Monday, January 6, 2014
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The cincinnati art museum. (Erica Minton via flickr)

The cincinnati art museum. (Erica Minton via flickr)

Aaron Betsky, director of the Cincinnati Art Museum for seven years, announced Thursday he’ll step down.

Cincinnati’s WVXU reported that the museum’s board will set up a search committee, and that Betsky will help pick his successor. Betsky, an architect, oversaw the first phase of a renovation for which he helped raise more $13 million, and increased the art museum’s endowment by 18 percent. His leadership was at times controversial, as when he oversaw an exhibit by artist Todd Pavlisko that included firing a .30-caliber rifle in the 132-year-old museum’s Schmidlapp Gallery.

Read More

UNStudio’s Ballsy Move: Hanjie Wanda Square Mall Completed in Wuhan, China

Architecture, International
Friday, January 3, 2014
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Main entrance and facade covered in steel spheres (Courtesy UNStudio, Edmon Leong)

Construction has recently been completed on UNStudio’s Hanjie Wanda Square, a new luxury shopping center in Wuhan, China.  The firm boldly coated the exterior of the building in over 42,333 metallic spheres, bestowing a fluidity to the facade that extends into the interior of the structure.  There, curved walkways and corridors flow together in order to carry shoppers throughout the upscale retail stores, catering outlets, and movie theaters within the center. Read More

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A New Bench-mark at Governors Island

Fabrikator
Friday, January 3, 2014
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Over three miles of curbs and benches were fabricated from precast concrete. (Timothy Schenck/courtesy The Trust for Governors Island)

Over three miles of curbs and benches were fabricated from precast concrete. (Timothy Schenck/courtesy The Trust for Governors Island)

Southside Precast Products fabricates landscape architecture firm West 8’s designs for an organic system of concrete benches and curbs.

When Dutch landscape architecture firm West 8 envisioned a new terrain for Governors Island in New York’s East River, part of the plan included a section dubbed The Hills. The recently completed curving expanse of green space is defined by nearly one dozen curved sections, or “petals,” of seamless, white concrete bench and curb edges fabricated by Buffalo, New York-based Southside Precast Products.

Ellen Cavanagh, Director of Park Design and Construction for the Governors Island Trust, said that the concrete pathways along the petals help define areas where the ground was formed to rise and recede. “They call it eyeliner,” she told AN in a recent interview. “Thick and bold white stripes give your eye an anchor so you have a better sense of depth as opposed to one solid color.” At approximately 24 inches in width, the curbs along Governor’s Island are decidedly more massive than standard street curbs. Read More

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