Americans Storm Over MVRDV’s Clouded Vision

International
Thursday, December 15, 2011
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Rendering of the Cloud (Courtesy MVRDV)

Rendering of the Cloud (Courtesy MVRDV)

Guy Horton, a frequent contributor to AN, here adds his thoughts on the still-steaming controversy over MVRDV’s twin towers.

MVRDV’s design for what they call The Cloud, a twin high-rise with a connecting “cloud” above the waistline, has resulted in an blitz of negative criticism. Americans who have never heard of the Dutch firm are now phoning and emailing threats and condemnation non-stop—some are personal threats aimed at individuals. They have even been called “Al Qaeda lovers.”

Continue reading after the jump.

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Postmodernists Are Now Classicists, Driehaus Confirms

National
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
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The Minneapolis Institute of Arts addition designed by Michael Graves (all photos courtesy Driehaus Prize)

The small world of classicist architecture in America–where many former Postmodernists found refuge after the dial of taste turned away from jokey historical references and pasted-on pediments–is working overtime to rehabilitate the 70s and 80s stylistic counter reformation. First was the recent conference, “Reconsidering Postmodernism,” organized by the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which brought out many of the movement’s old stars for presentations, chats, and a lot of hand wringing. Today, the Chicago-based Richard H. Driehaus Foundation announced that Michael Graves was this year’s winner of the $200,000 Driehaus Prize.

Continue reading after the jump.

New York’s Green Zone Goes For Code

East
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
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A large solar array planned for the Brooklyn Army Terminal. (Courtesy NYCEDC)

A large solar array planned for the Brooklyn Army Terminal. (Courtesy NYCEDC)

City Planning hasn’t missed a beat since celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Zoning Amendment with a conference in November that brought together zoning czars from academia, business, and government to discuss challenges ahead for planning in New York City. On Monday, Amanda Burden of the City Planning Commission (CPC) announced a new Zone Green initiative making it easier —at least zoning-wise—for sustainable upgrades of residential and commercial buildings across the city.

Continue reading after the jump.

MVRDV Responds to Cloud Tower Imagery

International
Monday, December 12, 2011
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An early concept rendering of the Cloud tower and a rendering of the final design released last week. (Courtesy MVRDV)

An early concept rendering of the Cloud tower and a rendering of the final design released last week. (Courtesy MVRDV)

It must have been a rough day at MVRDV’s Rotterdam offices after their newly unveiled Cloud tower set to be built in Seoul, South Korea went viral in a bad way. MVRDV envisioned two towers shrouded in pixelated mist, but others saw the image of a plane hitting the World Trade Center in New York, half a world away. MVRDV released the following statement on their Facebook page along with an early conceptual drawing showing the inspiration for the tower, in a much more literal cloud:

A real media storm has started and we receive threatening emails and calls of angry people calling us Al Qaeda lovers or worse.

MVRDV regrets deeply any connotations The Cloud projects evokes regarding 9/11, it was not our intention.

The Cloud was designed based on parameters such as sunlight, outside spaces, living quality for inhabitants and the city. It is one of many projects in which MVRDV experiments with a raised city level to reinvent the often solitary typology of the skyscraper. It was not our intention to create an image resembling the attacks nor did we see the resemblance during the design process. We sincerely apologize to anyone whose feelings we have hurt, the design was not meant to provoke this.

Check out all of the renderings over here. What do you think? Is this too reminiscent of the Twin Towers? Do you see a cloud or an explosion frozen in time?

Umbrella Shed Makes Broadway Debut

East
Friday, December 9, 2011
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As seen from sidewalk approach the new umbrella shed allows for clear sight lines down Broadway.

As seen from sidewalk approach, the new umbrella shed allows for clear sight lines down Broadway. (Stoelker/AN)

Its not everyday that construction and office workers stop to photograph a sidewalk scaffolding shed, but that’s just what they were doing today on Broadway in Lower Manhattan. Yesterday, the mayor unveiled the new Urban Umbrella shed designed by Angencie Group. The new design, the result of a competition sponsored by the AIANY and the Department of Buildings, was fabricated by the Brooklyn based Caliper Studio.

More pics after the jump

Buckminster Fuller’s Fly’s Eye Dome Restoration: Goetz Composites

Fabrikator
Friday, December 9, 2011
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Brought to you with support from:
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Assembly of the restored dome in Goetz's shop (Ian Garber)

Fabrication techniques honed for racing boats give the dome new life.

Racing boat builder Goetz Composites has crafted many icons of the sea, including ten America’s Cup boats. Now, the company is trying its hand at architectural icons. Several months ago, Goetz began the restoration of Buckminster Fuller’s Fly’s Eye Dome, one of only three existing prototypes of the prefabricated shelters that the designer patented in 1965. The piece, a 24-foot-wide fiberglass shell with Plexiglas eyes, had been neglected for years and arrived at Goetz’s Bristol, Rhode Island, headquarters with chipped corners, peeling paint, and a patina of mold.

Continue reading after the jump.

Ice Cube Pays a Visit to the Eames House

West
Thursday, December 8, 2011
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Ice Cube reflects on the Eames for Pacific Standard Time.

Ice Cube reflects on the Eames in a video for Pacific Standard Time.

Earlier this fall the rapper Ice Cube pleasantly surprised us by turning up in posters promoting the Getty’s exhibition series Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980, a sweeping SoCal round-up that also covers the work of architects and designers.  It turns out that before founding the group N.W.A., Ice Cube studied architectural drafting, and in the process he became a fan of Ray and Charles Eames.

In a video just released by the Getty, Ice Cube communes with the designer couple’s famous Case Study #8 house in Pacific Palisades, walking around the exterior to admire the “off-the-shelf factory windows, prefabricated walls” and then kicking back in a 670 lounge chair inside to hold forth on the Eames’ approach of mixing the new with the old, comparing it to sampling in music: ” They was doing mash-ups before mash-ups even existed.”  But the most instructive part of the video may be Ice Cube’s decoding of the traffic specific to L.A. freeways…watch for it here:

For more on Ice Cube’s take on design, read his interview with the New York Times.

Holl Gets AIA Gold, VJAA Wins Firm Award

National, Newsletter
Thursday, December 8, 2011
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Holl's Vanke Center (photo: Iwan Baan)

Steven Holl has been awarded the AIA Gold Medal, the institute’s highest honor and among the most significant in the profession. Holl is known for his formally inventive, richly detailed buildings in the US and around the world, including the Linked Hybrid in Beijing, the Vanke Center in Shenzen, the Bloc Building at the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City, MO, and Simmons Hall at MIT among many other notable projects.

Read More

Slideshow> Apple Takes Bite of Grand Central

East, Newsletter
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
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Apple moves into the Lexington Avenue balcony overlooking Grand Central (Stoelker/AN).

Apple staff await customers on the balcony overlooking Grand Central (Stoelker/AN).

This morning Apple held a press preview of their new Grand Central store, which is set to open this Friday. The first impression of this glassless emporium, an anomaly for the company, is the respectful handling of the hallowed space. The store fills the space vacated by Metrazur restaurant, which wrapped around the Lexington Avenue side balcony. Apple’s showroom takes up half of the northern balcony as well. For Mac fans, the cleaned lined furnishings will be familiar, as are the various stations spread throughout the 23,000-square-foot space. The Genius Bar is still there, as are the iPad and iPod stations, laptops, accessories, and a professional yet casual staff of more than 300. Apple, aided by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, took sight lines into consideration, as the only real hint that the store is there from the concourse are small strips of table lighting, and, of course, the company’s ubiquitous apple which hangs from a grand arch centered on the balcony. It could be argued that logo competes a bit with the world famous clock at the center of the terminal. But otherwise, the interventions appear considerate and reversible.

View the sideshow after the jump

Miami on the Make: Adjaye, Fuller, and Foster

National
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
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David Adjaye with his pavilion. (Courtesy Design Miami)

David Adjaye with his pavilion. (Courtesy Design Miami)

Design Miami, the high-design fair that runs with the giant, Art Basel Miami Beach, exhibited two objets d’architecture over the Miami Art Week, and named an architect, David Adjaye, as its 2011 Designer of the Year. Both objets were sculptural pavilions: one is an installation by Adjaye, commissioned for the fair, and the other a restored modernist icon with a utopian agenda. Continue reading after the jump.

Maltzan, BIG, and West 8 Shortlisted in St. Pete

East, West
Friday, December 2, 2011
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Michael Maltzan's Proposal.

Maltzan's "Lens" would become the active center of St. Petersburg as well as transforming its image. (courtesy City of St. Petersburg)

The city of St. Petersburg, Florida has chosen a blockbuster group made up of Michael Maltzan Architecture, BIG (Bjarke Ingels Design) and West 8 Urban Design and Landscape Architecture as the three finalists to redesign its famous pier. Taking a leap of faith, in 2010 the city voted to demolish the current iteration, a 1970’s inverted pyramid structure and 1980’s “festival market” that St. Petersburg’s web site refers to as “the most visible landmark in the history of the city.” But the pier’s market has fallen on hard times and the city was ready to redefine both the pier itself and the city at large. As their proposals show, any one of these three architects will give St. Pete a sculptural design that will become a new landmark, to say the least. The winner will be chosen in late January.

Check out all the proposals after the jump.

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a+i’s White Veil Wall: Ceilings Plus

Fabrikator
Friday, December 2, 2011
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Brought to you with support from:
Fabrikator
Fabrikator Brought to you by:

The screen spans the ceiling and the three-story atrium of a Midtown Manhattan office (Magda Biernat)

A custom-perforated screen balances lighting and privacy in a three-story New York office space.

Ceilings are not just for the ceiling anymore. “With architecture becoming more organic in shape, we are becoming the architecture, not just a ceiling or wall,” said Nancy Mercolino, the president of architectural ceiling, wall, and enclosure manufacturer Ceilings Plus. This fall, the company completed a 33-foot-tall painted aluminum feature wall at the Manhattan offices of a global investment management firm. Designed by New York-based a+i design corp, the project was a consolidation of the firm’s offices in the city, adding three floors to the company’s existing three-story office space in a Midtown building.

Continue reading after the jump.

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