Reimagining the chair as an architectural material
With their focus on “environmental acuity and a critical digital ethic,” Brian Bush and Yong Ju Lee of E/B Office describe themselves as “digital architects” who design ”real projects that are virtually indistinguishable from their digital visions.” Their most recent vision included 300 of IKEA’s pine wood Ivar chairs arching through the air across the wide lawn at Freedom Park in Atlanta, where SEAT was installed earlier this summer for Flux Projects, a public art organization. Bush and Lee hope that SEAT will encourage people to reconsider the chair as more than just a passive, everyday object, but as an architectural structure in and of itself. Indeed, sitting amongst a swooping pavilion built entirely out of chairs, it would be difficult not to.
No doubt you’ve seen the Ivar chair before, or something like it. Popular for its low price ($24.99) and ability to be painted any color, Ivar is so basic it’s the kind of chair that should pop right up when you do a Google Image search for “chair” (it doesn’t, though IKEA’s Poang does). Because they came from IKEA, all 300 were assembled by hand by Bush, Lee and a team of 15. The chairs were unaltered except for the seat, which was removed from most to make them easier to connect. After Bush and Lee made a 3D model in Rhino with the help of a structural engineer, they launched right into building the full-scale version onsite. Read More
For the eleventh anniversary of September 11, The Architect’s Newspaper has been reviewing progress at the World Trade Center site. Last Thursday, AN visited SOM’s One World Trade to survey the view from the 103rd floor and check in on construction of the tower’s spire. Friday, a trip to the top of Fumihiko Maki’s Four World Trade on Friday showed the less-publicized view of the site. From both vantage points, the hum of activity—both from construction crews and visitors to the memorial plaza—was readily apparent.
Of particular interest were substantial developments at the Vehicle Security Center, where a new entryway on Liberty Street will send security measures beneath a new St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. It was heartening to read in today’s New York Times that the conflict between Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg over the Memorial Museum, reported here last year, was resolved in time for ceremonies this morning.
For all the talk of delays, an extraordinary amount work has been accomplished. As a tribute, AN has compiled a video montage showing continued progress at the site on this historic day.
“Few people think about it or are aware of it. But there is nothing made by human beings
that does not involve a design decision somewhere.” -Bill Moggridge
Bill Moggridge, director of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and an outspoken advocate for the value of design in everyday life, died September 8th, 2012, following a battle with cancer. He was 69. Designer of the first laptop computer and co-founder of the renowned innovation and design firm, IDEO, Bill pioneered interaction design and integrated human factors into the design of computer software and hardware.
Bill was a Royal Designer for Industry, a 2010 winner of the Prince Philip Designers Prize, and a 2009 winner of Cooper-Hewitt’s National Design Award for Lifetime Achievement. He described his career as having three phases: first, as a designer; second, as a leader of design teams and; third, as a communicator.
Compared to its neighbors, the Fuhimiko Maki-designed Four World Trade offers a more somber, reflective aesthetic at the World Trade Center site. Reflective quite literally, as the tower’s curtain wall mullions nearly disappear at street level. Inside the 977-foot-tall building, Maki’s stunningly-precise detailing is made evident, along with the breathtaking views of the surrounding New York region.
After climbing to death-defying heights yesterday at One World Trade yesterday, AN stopped by Tower Four’s construction floor 51 (or what will eventually be renamed the 60th floor when the building opens). While the interior office spaces are still shells, the clarity of Maki’s trapezoidal form shows through. Project Architect Osamu Sassa said columns at the tower’s perimeter—four on each side—were pushed to the edge, providing 80-foot spans of uninterrupted floor-to-ceiling glass. Column-free corners, many forming acute angles that proved to be a challenge in designing the curtain wall, make the views even more brilliant. Take a look for yourself in the slideshow below.
After seven years of construction, during much of which visitors were sent on an underground detour, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s expansive atrium opened in late August.
The 39,000-square-foot Rafael Viñoly-designed atrium is essentially a massive skylight, which arcs from 55 to 66 feet in height across a space nearly as large as a football field. Planting beds complement the granite floor, anchoring an airy space that houses a second floor mezzanine and could seat upwards of 700 people for events.
New modeling software enables experimental volumetric design
In a revolt against the realm of the 3D renderings they feel contemporary architects are confined to working within, Matter Design‘s principals Brandon Clifford and Wes McGee founded a studio grounded in digital design that addresses the realities of materials, loads and physicality. Clifford in particular mourns the loss of our “ability to work with volume,” so much so that he spent his year as the 2011-12 LeFevre Emerging Practitioner Fellow at Ohio State University Knowlton School of Architecture researching volume in building with a special focus on stereotomy, the art of precisely carving solids. It was this research that led him to design La Voûte de LeFevre, a vaulted wooden structure that soars thanks to weight and mass, not in spite of it.
One World Trade continues to rise with the spire yet to come. Today, the Port Authority gave AN access to the 103rd floor. In a mad dash we took a few hundred photos, which we quickly whittled down to these 34. What’s missing are the sounds: workers shouting, metal clanging, and Queen’s “We Will Rock You” playing from a radio on the ride up. Tomorrow, we’re stopping by to visit One World’s little brother, Four World Trade.
Following the many interesting developments in Detroit these days, one gets a sense that the city’s post-industrial landscape is fertile ground for innovative design. A boutique hotel made of shipping containers seems to back up that trend.
Collision Works, as the project is called, touts the structural merits of shipping containers. “Shipping containers are considerably more durable than standard construction, can cost less, and most importantly are about 30 percent faster to build,” writes project founder Shel Kimen.
In a unanimous vote today, the New York City Planning Commission approved Jamsestown Properties’ plans for expansion at Chelsea Market with few modifications. The building was rezoned to be included in the Special West Chelsea District, thereby allowing developers to increase density after a significant contribution is made to the High Line. Much to the quite literal relief of High Line visitors, this likely means bathrooms will finally find their way to the southern section of the park.
“Venice Architecture Biennale ‘cannot get any worse’ says Wolf D. Prix,” read the headline on Dezeen’s August 30 wire post. In a press release titled “The Banal,” Prix declared that that architects participating in the biennale are “playing” while the profession is “sinking into powerlessness and irrelevance” at the hands of politicians, bureaucrats, and investors.
The broadside caused a stir in Venice during he opening and in the blogosphere but now it appears that Prix was never in Venice for the biennale in the first place and thus had not seen the exhibition he denounced. His office claims that Prix has been misunderstood and “the critique addressed the theme of the exhibition, not the show or its execution,” according to a spokesperson for the firm.
Literally in the shadow of One World Trade is a memorial for September 11 that has been overrun by tourists since the days after the disaster. Its quiet dignity has been maintained, outlasting the dozens of hawkers who sold Twin Tower replicas just a few feet away. The memorial bears but one name, “Mary Wife of James Miles,” who died on September 11, 1796.
Today’s New York Observer weighed in on the New York Post‘s claim that tourists are turning the September 11 Memorial into a glorified playground. “When the construction barriers finally come down, the lines will be gone, people will come and go as they please. They will pray and they will play, and that is how it should be,” wrote the Observer’s Matt Chaban. As the debate continues as to what constitutes appropriate behavior at the memorial, one need only walk one block east to take in two century’s worth of history on how New Yorkers memorialize.