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Ductal concrete technology used for the architect’s shapely “icebergs” in Paris
Frank Gehry has referred to his design for the Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation, a new home for the contemporary art collection of LVMH mogul Bernard Arnaud, as “a veritable ship amongst trees.” The project, located at the northern entrance of Paris’ Bois de Boulogne near the Jardin d’Acclimatation, hasn’t been without its share of controversy and delays, but the nearly 130,000-square-foot, 150-foot-tall building is moving ahead and is slated for completion in 2012. Though a hovering glass carapace will enshroud the museum, models of the design show the sails parting at various points to reveal concrete “icebergs” that form the building’s core. Since 2006, building material manufacturer Lafarge has been working with the building’s project team, prototype designer Cogitech Design, and precast concrete manufacturer Bonna Sabla to realize the design with Lafarge’s Ductal ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC).
A passerby might mistake the Art Museum at DePaul University as an enduring Lincoln Park fixture, even though the brand new building just opened. Bucking the trend for cutting-edge art museum architecture in favor of a contextual approach was a deliberate decision by the university and its longtime architect, Antunovich Associates.
If you’ve ever wanted to know more about LA’s architects than the results of their projects in steel and stone, check out Success By Design by writer and photographer Jenn Kennedy. The book profiles 25 of them, including Steven Ehrlich, Barton Myers, Ray Kappe, the late Stephen Kanner, and Hodgetts + Fung. Architects divulge all sorts of secrets like Myers’ insecurities about getting upstaged by students; Art Gensler’s original desire to start a “small” firm (his firm, Gensler, has over 2,000 employees); Randy Peterson of HMC’s amazing lack of free time; Kanner’s struggles with fees; and Kappe’s surprising facility with the business end of architecture. The book recently launched its digital version and a web site. See some interesting quotes below.
A South London state-funded school is a far cry from an international exhibition center, but in the last two years the annual Stirling Prize, organized by the RIBA, has recognized Zaha Hadid’s designs for both as exceptional examples of British architecture. This year’s winner, the Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton was the London-based practice’s second consecutive win after last year’s prize for the enigmatic Maxxi Museum in Rome. Hadid’s design was up against a swathe of accomplished competitors including Hopkins’ London Olympics Velodrome, the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres in Stratford by Bennetts Associates and Chipperfield’s Folkwang Museum in Essen, Germany.
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A new cultural focal point takes shape in Dallas
When the Dallas Museum of Nature & Science was created from the 2006 merger of three city museums—the Museum of Natural History, The Science Place, and the Dallas Children’s Museum—the new institution set its sites on expanding programming with a new facility in the city’s Victory Park neighborhood. Now, the 180,000-square-foot Morphosis-designed Perot Museum of Nature & Science is slated for completion in 2013. Located at the northwest corner of Woodall Rodgers Freeway and Field Street, it marks the future crossroads of the city’s Trinity River Corridor Project and the city’s cultural districts. Floating atop an irregularly shaped plinth that will be the base for a one-acre rooftop ecosystem, the museum’s striated concrete facade offers a first glimpse at the dynamic transformation of the site.
Of the 85 proposals submitted to a playground design competition hosted by Go Play!, few were as innovative as AnneMarie van Splunter’s RubberTree, which landed an honorable mention. The Dutch designer’s imaginative reuse of old car and motorcycle tires recalls the simplicity of children playing around a tree, inspired, in fact, by the rubber tree and its heavily exposed root system. Van Splunter sought to create a place where refugee children on the border of Burma and Thailand can be “rooted in solid ground.”
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.”
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Lisa Iwamoto and Craig Scott, principals at IwamotoScott Architecture first established a relationship with Obscura Digital, a digital media company, three years ago in order to collaborate on a new hemispheric theater encased in a geodesic dome in Dubai. While the project was scuttled by the recession, the two firms stayed in touch, and when Obscura acquired new office space in a 1940s-era warehouse in an up-and-coming San Francisco neighborhood, they again called on IwamotoScott to design it, and even invited the architects to move into their new space.
Working with a tight budget, IwamotoScott injected digitally fabricated details that would give focus and add drama to the large industrial space. A black-box conference room that Scott describes as bringing “shrink-wrap to seismic bracing” is perched on the edge of a second-floor mezzanine while a 32-foot laser-cut screen wall comprised of cells that appear to collapse into fluid scales sequesters the architect’s space within the digital media company’s headquarters.