AN was live blogging from the Megaprojects Conference at the McGraw Hill Conference Center on May 11. The conference/symposium, sponsored by Columbia University’s Center for Urban Real Estate, took a close look at a few of New York’s biggest real estate projects. The World Trade Center, Hudson Yards, and Times Square. London’s Docklands was also discussed.
The panel from Hudson Yards was the last up at today’s conference, though Related’s Stephen Ross, who sat on an earlier panel was no longer in the house. Oxford Properties’ Dean Shapiro estimated that the project would be completed over the course of two economic cycles. MTA’s real estate director Jeffrey Rosen once again echoed the Port Authority transit theme with “Our paramount concern is running the rail road.” Rosen said that flexibility needs to be a part of any plan, adding that the High Line was not even on the radar when Hudson Yards planning began. As a result the project’s anchor tenant was a luxury fashion company.“Who would’ve thought that this would become Meatpacking North,” he said.
Vishaan Chakrabarti who opened the conference with the statement, “Cities can cure many of the world’s ills” closed the session by explaining how and why. He said major private investment needed to be paired with greater public flexibility and more investment at the federal level. He added that a more nimble public process (that’s you, ULURP) needed to be figured out. “We’re taking too long to build these kind of projects,” he said. But then he zeroed in on the major plus of the megaprojects. “They can address the alarming rate of suburbanization,” he said. “The only way to mitigate that is far denser urbanization with transportation.”
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Research into flexible active skins opens up new BIPV possibilities
As building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) technology becomes more advanced, architects are getting involved in how new systems affect not only a building’s performance, but also its appearance. “The photovoltaic industry was until now largely developed by engineers,” said Daniel Martín Ferrero, a Madrid-based architect researching solar design. “The architect must enter the industry to develop their integration into the urban scene.” Ferrero has launched a new company named The New Solar Architecture with a goal of bringing a higher level of design to solar energy-producing facades.
The largest development proposed in the history of downtown Seattle—an approximately 3 million square-foot headquarters for Amazon—may take eight years to complete. Project details presented at a recent downtown design review committee meeting revealed that Amazon’s glassy three block project, designed by NBBJ (designers of the recently-c0mpleted Gates Foundation, also in Seattle), will be built in three phases of two to four years.
Walking into the large, egg-like structure of the MoMA Ps1 Performance Dome, the German electronic band Kraftwerk’s song “Man-Machine” was the perfect accompaniment to the architecture. Their music represents the kind of progressive attitude towards materials (instruments) and aesthetics (sounds) that is captured perfectly in the temporary structure. A shiny, white, geodesic dome reminiscent of fellow early techno-fetishist Buckminster Fuller, the space features a super-high-fidelity sound system, 8 screens projecting various computer art, and not much else. It is the ideal pairing of minimalism and technology with Kraftwerk’s slick electronic melodies. Read More
The twelfth Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London is nothing without the first eleven. The collaborators responsible for the wonderfully intricate Beijing National Stadium (aka the Bird’s Nest) in 2008—Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron and Chinese artist Ai Weiwei—have designed a temporary pavilion inspired by the archaeology of previous structures by Peter Zumthor, Jean Nouvel, and Zaha Hadid, among others.
What makes the performing arts so thrilling is also what makes them so elusive—they are, by nature, ephemeral. Any documentation of a performance is only a pale reflection of what it’s like to be there in the moment. So when performance artist Marina Abramovic began to contemplate what her own legacy would be, she thought beyond biographies, retrospectives, or monuments and instead began to develop a method of generating the kind of experiences she valued, one that would allow her kind of performances to continue long after the artist was no longer present.
Starting in late 2014, “long duration” (six hours plus) performance pieces as well as facilities intended to initiate the public into performance art will be housed in the Marina Abramovic Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art (MAI) in Hudson, New York. The institute will occupy an old 20,000 square-foot theater that was purchased by Abramovic in 2007 and whose interior is being redesigned by Shohei Shigematsu and Rem Koolhaas of OMA.
With investment in American cities on the rise, mixed-use development is all the buzz, but architect Deborah Berke says we must be careful not to leave industry out of the mix. “We need to sway mixed-use back to the direction of a real mix. We’ve gone to all residential,” she said. Berke and critic Noah Biklen just finished teaching an architectural studio at Yale on boutique urban manufacturing, where students explored bringing a bourbon distillery to downtown Louisville, Kentucky.
If Foreign Office Architects’ first project, the huge Yokohama International Port Terminal in Japan, was the vast scale of rolling dunes, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland—begun when the firm was still known as FOA and carried to completion by Farshid Moussavi Architecture—is compact as a cube. And size has made all the difference in keeping on track through the economic downturn with the $27.2 million building poised for opening in October.
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New climate-responsive architecture research makes structure the machine
A new project commissioned by the Centre Pompidou for its permanent collection explores responsive architecture based on the behavior of material during climate changes. Designed by architect Achim Menges in collaboration with Steffen Reichert, “HygroScope: Meteorosensitive Morphology” appears at first glance to be a wooden model suspended within a glass case. But when the humidity level within the case rises, the system begins to breathe, ventilating the moisture-saturated air without any sensory equipment or electricity.