From fireworks to kayaks, step inside the well-produced world of renderings

Some more birds and some more kayaks. (Courtesy SCAPE)

Lots of birds and lots of kayaks. (Courtesy SCAPE)

In the idealized world of architectural renderings, everything is absolutely perfect. There are no dirty windows, no rust, no clutter, no dead leaves, no mud, no rain. There are crowds, but nothing is crowded. There are cars, but there is no traffic. The scalies dropped into these polished scenes are as happy  as can be—why wouldn’t they be? Every day is spent walking hand-in-hand down a boardwalk with a loved-one giggling about a Jeff Koons sculpture over there. Life is good, they think, as fireworks explode behind them. Life is good.

When you spend as much time as we do here at AN sifting through these highly-planned digital worlds, some trends start to appear over and over. Here’s a sample of what we see again and again.

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Herman Miller Goes Shopping: Buys Design Within Reach

The new Design Within Reach store in Manhattan (photo: Michael Biondo)

The new Design Within Reach store in Manhattan (photo: Michael Biondo)

Two of the biggest names in American design are joining forces. Famed furniture manufacturer Herman Miller has bought a controlling stake in Design Within Reach (DWR), the modern furniture retailer. According to a release, Herman Miller has purchased an 84 percent stake in DWR for a price of $154 million. DWR’s CEO John Edelman and president John McPhee will continue to lead the retailer, which currently has 38 locations in North America, as well as e-commerce and the popular catalogue. DWR has recently been upgrading their stores and refocusing on architects and interior designers as well as consumers. A new Manhattan flagship store opened this spring.

Continue reading after the jump.

Obit> Randall Stout, 1958–2014

Stout examines a model of the Hunter Museum of Art (RSA)

Stout examines a model of the Hunter Museum of Art. (RSA)

Noted Los Angeles architect Randall Stout has died of cancer. He was 56. Stout served long tenures at SOM in Houston and at Gehry Partners in Los Angeles, then went on to found Randall Stout Architects in 1997. The office, which gained large commissions in the United States and Europe, became known for contortions of polished steel and raw stone, and for large, luminous interior spaces intimately connected to their surroundings. Despite these unusual forms, Stout’s buildings were regarded as people friendly and practical.

“Randall was a true architect,” Richard Keating, who worked with Stout at SOM from 1978 to 1986, said. “He understood materials and budgets and made excellent buildings.” Keating attributed this combination to his extended time with SOM and Gehry. “His approach to buildings was to be artful as well as responsible.”  Read More

Antoni Gaudi Could Become Patron Saint of Architects

Antoni Guadi, the soon-to-be patron saint of architects?

Antoni Guadi, the soon-to-be patron saint of architects?

For years, the Pritzker Prize has been the gold-standard in architectural recognition. It’s like the Super Bowl ring, or the Oscar for Best Picture, or whatever Joey Chestnut wins for downing 60-some hot dogs at Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. (It’s gotta be a sash, right? It’s probably a sash.) This is the hallowed ground where the Pritzker lives. But it could soon be trumped in a big way. In a big enough way that even knighthood can’t quite compare. Hear that, Sir Norman Foster?

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Mayor de Blasio Goes All In on Urbanism in Downtown Brooklyn

Borough Hall in Downtown Brooklyn. (Flickr / sbest2048)

Borough Hall in Downtown Brooklyn. (Flickr / sbest2048)

In the decade since it was rezoned, Downtown Brooklyn has grown up in a big way. Just look at its skyline and the new apartment towers and hotels that call it home. The open air between those buildings will soon be filled because development isn’t slowing down—it’s just getting started. But the next decade of change in Downtown Brooklyn could offer much more than the first. That’s because as new buildings rose, the area’s street-level never kept pace: public space is still scarce and underused, streets are hard to navigate and dangerous, and educational and cultural institutions have been disconnected. Today, however, Mayor de Blasio announced strategies to change all that by injecting the booming district with new (or refurbished) parks, redesigned streetscapes, new retail, and better connections between its many cultural and educational institutions.

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Packard Foundation Goes Green With EHDD

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EHDD designed the David and Lucile Packard Foundation headquarters as a model of cutting-edge green building techniques. (Jeremy Bittermann)

EHDD designed the David and Lucile Packard Foundation headquarters as a model of cutting-edge green building techniques. (Jeremy Bittermann)

Net zero energy, LEED Platinum project raises the bar on eco-friendly office design.

For its new headquarters in Los Altos, California, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation put its building budget where its mouth is. The philanthropic organization, whose four program areas include conservation and science, asked San Francisco-based EHDD to design a net zero energy, LEED Platinum building that would serve as a model of cutting-edge green building techniques. “They wanted to achieve net zero in a way that was replicable, and that showed the path forward for others to follow,” said project manager Brad Jacobson. “It was not just a one-off thing, not just a showcase.” The building’s facade was fundamental to its success as an example of sustainable design. “We were surprised at how significant the envelope is, even in the most benign climate,” said Jacobson. “Pushing the envelope to really high performance made significant energy and comfort impacts, and could be justified even on a first-cost basis.” Read More

Herzog & de Meuron’s undulating concrete grid to rise along New York City’s Hudson River

The facade of 357 West Street. (Herzog & de Meuron and Ian Schrage)

357 West Street. (Herzog & de Meuron and Ian Schrage)

Ian Schrager and Herzog & de Meuron are at it again. Just weeks after renderings appeared for the team’s Lower East Side boutique hotel, images of the prolific hotelier and Swiss architects’ condo project in the West Village have surfaced. Real estate blog NY YIMBY received renderings for 357 West Street, which show a curving, 12-story building that will become the latest addition to a corridor crowded with starchitecture.

Continue reading after the jump.

BREAKING: Martino Stierli tapped as MoMA’s Chief Curator of Architecture and Design

Martino Stierli. (Courtesy NCCR Iconic Criticism, University of Basel/Alessandro Frigerio)

Martino Stierli. (Courtesy NCCR Iconic Criticism, University of Basel/Alessandro Frigerio)

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has announced that Martino Stierli has been appointed as the Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design. Mr. Stierli is currently a professor at the University of Zurich where he teaches the history of modern architecture. Previously, he has organized or co-curated exhibitions at prestigious venues around the world, taught at multiple Swiss universities, and published multiple essays on various topics relating to design. He steps into his new role in March, 2015.

Continue reading after the jump.

Obama library round-up: Woodlawn, Lakeside, Bronzeville and more vying for nation’s 14th presidential library

(HOK)

HOK’s scheme for Bronzeville. (HOK)

Speculation over the future site of President Barack Obama’s presidential library has picked up as a slew of Chicago sites—as well as some in New York, Hawaii, and even Kenya—made the June deadline for proposals. Ultimately the decision is up to the President and the board tasked with developing what will be the nation’s 14th presidential library, but dozens of groups are attempting to tug at that group’s ears. (Even I used AN‘s June editorial page to consider the library’s urban impact.) Here’s a round-up of some of the Chicago proposals made public so far.

Continue reading after the jump.

Unveiled> Jeanne Gang doing the Twist in San Francisco with new skyscraper

Thanks to changes in its bays, Gang's planned San Francisco Tower appears to torque as it rises. (Tishman Speyer)

Thanks to changes in the angeles of its bays, Gang’s planned San Francisco Tower appears to torque as it rises. (Tishman Speyer)

We’ve known for some time that Chicago architect and certified genius Jeanne Gang has been planning a residential tower for San Francisco‘s Transbay District, south of Market Street. Now we know what it will look like. Gang and developer Tishman Speyer have revealed renderings of a 400-foot-tall, 40-story building clad in masonry tiles at 160 Folsom Street.

Continue reading after the jump.

And Now A Gehry Tower For LACMA? What’s Next?

Model of Zumthor's newest scheme for LACMA, along with massing study of new tower. (Courtesy LACMA)

Model of Zumthor’s newest scheme for LACMA, along with massing study of new tower. (Courtesy LACMA)

The surprises keep coming at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). After learning that the museum plans to shift its proposed Peter Zumthor–designed building southward (partially bridging Wilshire Boulevard) to avoid damaging the La Brea Tar Pits, now comes news that the museum is hoping to partner with LA’s transit agency, METRO, to build a tower across the street.

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