Search results for "Yantrasast"

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wHY’s Kulapat Yantrasast to expand San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum
Kulapat Yantrasast, a principal of Los Angeles– and New York City–based architecture firm wHY, will design a 9,000-square-foot addition to the Asian Art Museum (AAM) of San Francisco. The addition, a pavilion, will unify gallery spaces on the east side of the museum's first floor, and allow the AAM to display more contemporary art. It will be situated atop a wing on the Hyde Street side that dates to the 1990s. Yantrasast will also rework the museum's galleries to create a more legible layout, allowing more of the 18,000-piece permanent collection to be put on display, as well as permitting more special exhibition programming. Educational spaces will be updated to accommodate increasing attendance. Currently 35,000 Bay Area students visit the AAM each year, although that number is expected to rise to 50,000 once classroom spaces are upgraded. wHY has two museum projects wrapping up in 2016. The firm's addition to the  in Louisville will be complete this month, while the Marciano Art Foundation, a conversion of a Los Angeles Scottish Rite Masonic Temple into a private art center, should open this September. Right now, the $25 million AAM project is in the schematic design phase, and construction is set to begin next year.
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In-House Design

Take a peek inside the homes that architects have designed for themselves

Architects’ Houses Michael Webb Princeton Architectural Press $41.69

Thirty architects share their own houses in the recently published tome Architects’ Houses by AN contributor Michael Webb. Here, we share six of the diverse interiors that offer an in-depth look at what architects design when they design for themselves. Baan Naam, Venice, California, by Kulapat Yantrasast. The Thai-born architect mastered the art of concrete construction and put it to good use on the rear wall of his own house. House of the Poem of the Right Angle, Vilches, Chile, by Smiljan Radić. An espino wood sculpture by Marcela Correa hovers beneath the skylights of a house at the foot of the Andes. Tower House, Ulster County, New York,by Peter and Thomas Gluck. Living spaces are cantilevered from a stack of three bedrooms to command sweeping views over the treetops. Thom Mayne, founder of Morphosis, has buried his L.A. home in a sloping corner site. NOHO, or No House, will eventually be concealed from the street by dense plantings. This Puget Sound home in Washington is where Jim Olson goes to kick his feet up on the weekends. Longbranch is a continually evolving home, and Olson recently added several new rooms to the older house.
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Temple, Unpacked

wHY subtly transforms historic Masonic Temple to house Marciano Art Foundation

Rather than donating artworks to large, existing institutions, it is becoming more and more common for wealthy art collectors to create their own museums for displaying their extensive collections.

In Los Angeles, we have the Getty Museum; the Broad Museum; the Hammer Museum; and the Norton Simon Museum, for example. This arrangement allows the collector to assure that the works he or she acquired will be displayed in a manner that they control and won’t get lost within a much larger institution.

In New York, Ronald S. Lauder opened the Neue Galerie, and of course, in 1959 further up Fifth Avenue, the Guggenheim family opened their museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Sometimes these museums are very successful and draw visitors for years after their initial opening.

Adding to the trend, the Maurice & Paul Marciano Art Foundation (MAF) recently opened in Los Angeles to display some of the 1,500 art objects that the brothers have collected. The Marciano brothers made their fortune by creating and marketing Guess Jeans. For the last seven years, they’ve been working closely with MAF Deputy Director Jamie G. Manné to acquire a very diverse and often innovative collection. It was always their intent to create their own museum and four years ago the artist Alex Israel noticed that the large Scottish Rite Masonic Temple on Wilshire Boulevard was for sale. He told his friend—Manné—who also thought it had great potential. Manné told Maurice and he decided to buy it for $8 million.

The Masonic Temple was designed by artist and architect Millard Sheets. It opened in 1961 to serve the growing population of the Masons of California, a fraternal order whose mission was to “foster personal growth and improve the lives of others.” The Masons had noble goals but maintained a very private organization, which is reflected in the Millard Sheets design. It is a large and imposing 110,000-square-foot travertine structure on Wilshire Boulevard with essentially no windows; in other words, a big white box.

Three years ago the Marciano’s retained architect Kulapat Yantrasast and his New York and Los Angeles–based firm wHY to convert this white elephant into a museum that would engage the community, welcome the public, and display a wide range of art objects in a variety of media. wHY was an informed choice—they have extensive experience designing museums both new and old, including the Grand Rapids Museum in Michigan; the Speed Museum in Louisville, Kentucky; the Pomona College Studio Art Hall in California; and the interiors for the Art Institute of Chicago and Harvard Art Museums.

The design approach within their practice is based on collaboration, both externally and internally. Externally they work with the owner and engage the community to develop their design approach. Internally they integrate the firm’s four studios, each of which is named for its focus: “buildings,” “objects,” “grounds,” and “ideas.” Yantrasast said, “We intentionally work together from the beginning; architects, landscape architects, planners, and interior designers. We create a group of thought leaders, with the ideas workshop as the glue.” Yantrasast sees himself as the conductor of a group of “the best musicians.”

With MAF the goal was to respect the architecture of Millard Sheets while transforming his very private, enclosed box into a welcoming and engaging environment to experience contemporary art within. For the most part, they have achieved their goals with a few shortcomings.

wHY created a sculpture garden courtyard to welcome visitors who may approach by car from the rear or as pedestrians. This works well. The entry foyer is flanked by a bookstore and lounge, leading to the lobby, where they have saved and restored two beautiful light fixtures and three elegant elevator cabs.

The galleries comprise essentially two levels and a mezzanine to display the very diverse Marciano art collection. On the ground floor wHY converted the former 2,000-seat auditorium into a spacious 13,600-square-foot exhibition hall, with all interior lighting; essentially a vast black box that includes 65 pieces by the L.A.-based artist Jim Shaw. The former stage has been transformed into a dramatic sunken sculpture court, with Adrian Villar Rojas's reinterpretation of Michelangelo’s David lying in repose.

While the mezzanine is also dark and filled with video art, the top floor holds the most dramatic spaces. Yantrasast removed the hung ceiling from this floor to reveal the bold structure that supports the roof, creating a large 12,000-square-foot gallery to display major pieces of the Marciano collection. By stripping away a portion of its rear travertine elevation and replacing it with glass, the gallery is filled with waves of natural north light. This move also offers a pleasant promenade overlooking the city and the famous Hollywood sign. One unfortunate detail is that a beautiful Millard Sheets mosaic mural has been preserved, but a full height wall has been erected only six feet in front of it, making it virtually impossible to truly appreciate Sheets’ artwork.

Yantrasast believes that architects who design art museums are a “matchmaker between the art and the people,” and that the building “must support the art,” he said. It’s a delicate balance creating inviting spaces to exhibit art and making buildings that enhance their environment. In essence, wHY’s architecture becomes a subtle, quiet partner and does not dominate the art. At the MAF, generally wHY has succeeded as a “matchmaker.” They have created flexible, spacious galleries to display the extensive and diverse art. The inaugural exhibition, labeled Unpacking: The Marciano Collection and curated by Philipp Kaiser, formerly with L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art, works well in the newly re-imagined building and includes the work of 44 artists. Maurice Marciano seemed quite pleased with the result. He said, “We’ve been really blessed to give back to the artists’ community, and to share our passion with everybody.” In an ironic turn of events, the MAF has given new life to the Masonic Temple and extended the Masons’ goal to “improve the life of others.”
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As Of Rite

wHY converts old masonic temple into 110,000-square-foot art gallery

The much-anticipated Marciano Art Foundation by Los Angeles– and New York–based architecture firm wHY debuted May 25.

The 110,000-square-foot gallery, created by Paul and Maurice Marciano of Guess Jeans fame, has taken over the abandoned Scottish Rite Masonic Temple on Los Angeles’s Wilshire Boulevard, bringing life to an old neighborhood eyesore. The midcentury-modern structure was built in 1961 by architect and artist Millard Sheets, and has been renovated to display works from the Marciano Art Foundation collection, which has a deep focus on Los Angeles–based contemporary artists.

In remarks made at a preview of the building, wHY principal Kulapat Yantrasast explained that rather than craft a traditional museum, the firm sought to create something “more like an artists’ playground—a place where people can make mistakes, do something new, and experiment.” The architect added, “It’s an interesting challenge to turn something that is very closed-in and secretive and make it something public, open, and welcoming.”

The three-story steel-framed structure is organized loosely and flexibly in order to accommodate a diverse collection. A wide balcony level provides vantages of the ground floor galleries, which have been curated to highlight the thematic tastes of the collectors. The building’s second gallery is located on the top floor in a former ballroom. An old meeting room on that same floor now houses sculptures by artists Mike Kelley and Sterling Ruby.

The building, as generative as it is showcasing, also features a collection of site-specific murals installed throughout, including a naturalistic site installation by sculptor Oscar Tuazon in an exterior courtyard.

Marciano Art Foundation 4357 Wilshire Boulevard Los Angeles Architect: wHY

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wHY Museum, Inc.

wHY-designed Asian Art Museum moves toward approval
wHY’s virtual monopoly on commissions for expanding West Coast art museums may continue this week when their plans for expanding San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum are presented to the San Francisco Historic Preservation Commission for approval. According to a memo submitted to the San Francisco Planning Commission, the project aims to add a single story, $25 million wing to the landmarked 1916 Beaux Arts structure for “cutting edge” contemporary art. The structure will be wrapped in criss-crossing bands of aluminum and topped by a roof patio and canopy. The addition would contain a long-span exhibition hall as well as mechanically ventilated art conservation facilities. The original neoclassical structure was designed as San Francisco’s first Main Library in 1916 by Ecole des Beaux-Arts-trained architect George A. Kelham, who also designed San Francisco’s Federal Reserve Bank headquarters and served as the supervising architect for the construction of the University of California, Berkeley campus between 1927 and 1931. In 1987, then-Mayor of San Francisco Dianne Feinstein proposed to revitalize the Civic Center area containing the Main Library with a plan that would include converting the structure to museum use. The building was finally converted in 1996 by architect Gae Aulenti and has been home of the Asian Art Museum since 2003. Because the structure was constructed during the Civic Center Landmark District’s period of significance, spanning from 1906 to 1936, wHY’s addition will have to adhere to Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation & Appendix J of Article 10 to insure the proposed project does not destroy or damage any of the contributing elements of the building. In recent months, wHY has seen their share of museum and gallery expansion projects increase drastically, with proposals for Los Angeles’s new Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Maurice and Paul Marciano Art Foundation, and San Francisco’s Gagosian Gallery outpost.
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SMMoA is now ICA LA

L.A.’s Westside loses its Santa Monica Museum of Art
In the nine months that saw the opening of a relocated Architecture and Design Museum as well as the new Broad Museum and Hauser Wirth’s West Coast outpost, Downtown Los Angeles residents can once again boast about the addition of yet another high-caliber contemporary art institution in their neighborhood: Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA). Exciting news for Downtown, but it is not without controversy. That’s because ICA LA is not a new art museum at all, it is the relocated, renamed, and rebranded remnants of the Santa Monica Museum of Art (SMMoA). After a year-long struggle with its landlords at Bergamot Station, the museum’s home since 1998, SMMoA’s board of directors decided to pack up and head east. Such a drastic move would be difficult for most major art institutions, except that SMMoA operated as a European-style kunsthalle, with no permanent collection tying it down. Now, ICA LA is in the early stages of a capital campaign to fund its relocation to a 12,700 square foot space at 1717 East 7th Street to be designed by Kulapat Yantrasast of wHY. Scheduled to open spring 2017, ICA LA’s new location will continue to operate as a non-collecting museum with 7,000 square feet of dedicated gallery space. The new location is expected to boast “ample public programming facilities” as well as an experimental kitchen-cafe, and other retail space. In a press release announcing the relocation, ICA LA Board of Directors’ President, Laura Donnelley said, “Throughout our history we have served our communities in greater Los Angeles through exhibitions, programs, and outreach, but have now chosen to move to Downtown LA to reinvent and redefine our organization the way that only a non-collecting museum focused on innovation, diversity, and discovery can. We are delighted to welcome these timely changes of venue, additions of leadership, and to move forward in further defining ICA LA’s role within our city and our collective place in the ever-expanding international dialogue of art and culture.”
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wHY will design a new Gagosian Gallery in San Francisco across from SFMOMA
LA and San Francisco have always been in an arms race to see which city has more, or better, of everything. With the recent opening of LA's Broad Museum and next month's debut of the new SFMOMA, the stakes have never been higher. However, those proper art museums are facing competition for attention (and Instagram posts) from several major global art galleries setting up in the Golden State. Los Angeles recently debuted a new Annabelle Selldorf-designed Hauser & Wirth outpost in that city’s booming Arts District. Now, not to let their So-Cal brethren have all the glory, San Francisco is rolling out the welcome mat for Gagosian's recently-revealed gallery. Located in San Francisco’s downtown arts district, it will be designed by Kulapat Yantrasast, founder of LA and New York-based wHY The new gallery is an old brick building owned and occupied by Crown Point Press, a longtime neighborhood gallery that focuses on displaying printmaking and etchings. It's situated across the street from the soon-to-be-opened, Snohetta-designed expansion to Mario Botta’s original SFMOMA building. This new Gagosian certainly looks to fill a growing niche within Northern California’s wealthy, tech industry-driven, art-buying community. In reference to the decision to open this new gallery, Gagosian told the San Francisco Chronicle,“This makes sense with the new museum opening and with the emerging collector base in Silicon Valley.” According to renderings provided to A/N by Gagosian, the new 4,500 square-foot design is organized as a traditional white-walled gallery. It features nothing more than a line of structural columns, some lateral bracing, and a skylight interrupting the otherwise minimal space. The historic building’s facade is being left untouched, save for new signage displaying the gallery’s name over the building entrance. The new gallery's May 18 opening is timed to coincide with the debut of the new SFMOMA. The inaugural show will feature works on paper and sculpture by the likes of Cy Twombly, Richard Serra, and Pablo Picasso.
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wHY New York
Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Cairo, Egypt.
Courtesy wHY

wHY’s New York office operates out of an airy Soho loft where ideas are tossed around and explored with gusto. This salon-style energy is integral to the bicoastal firm’s practice, providing the foundations for a diverse range of projects.

wHY was founded in Los Angeles in 2004 by Kulapat Yantrasast, who worked closely with Japanese minimalist Tadao Ando for years. The New York office was started in 2012 and is focused on bringing a multi-disciplinary approach to its work. The practice is structured around the collaborative efforts of four distinct yet interrelated workshops: buildings (architecture and interiors), objects (products and material explorations), ideas (research and strategy), and grounds (landscape environments). According to grounds workshop leader Mark Thomann, the teams’ synergy fuels open and fluid discussions, resulting in more interesting and lively designs. “We’re finding it to be quite a successful model of working,” Thomann said.

Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky.

wHY’s holistic attitude toward design is echoed throughout all of its works, from museums and art galleries, to residences, educational facilities, and large-scale landscape projects—such as Jackson Park in Chicago, for which the firm is currently developing a new master plan. In addition to a spectrum of nationwide projects, wHY is also working internationally with assignments underway in Italy, Thailand, and Egypt.

Another common theme that connects each project is a commitment to creating designs that transcend time. As New York office director and buildings workshop leader Andrija Stojic explained, “We like our buildings to look like they’ve been there forever, that they belong to the site.”

For Yantrasast, timeless architecture can be realized when its conceived in a way that embraces the long-term process of designing and constructing a building. “I think that more and more people these days consume architecture like it is fashion. It becomes an overnight sensation; one person can get a prize today, yet the next day there is a new flavor. We love fresh and exciting new things—we are human—but there’s a time and investment we must put into architecture. It has to stand for more than that,” he said.

Drawing on his experience working with Ando, Yantrasast is driven by a desire to expand architecture’s role in society. His work seeks to impact people in meaningful ways—“I want people to look at our designs and think about how it can relate to them,” he told AN. “I hope that they encourage people to think and to contemplate bigger pictures.”


Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Cairo, Egypt

First commissioned before the Arab Spring ignited in 2010, the initial design work for the Alexandria Library headquarters, which will be located in Cairo, has resumed after a period of political setbacks. “Now the project is back on, and they gave us a much bigger site and a much bigger program…the client really liked this as an idea to talk about culture,” Yantrasast said. The project, which according to Yantrasast will function a bit like the Smithsonian, is planned to be a major cultural and arts center in Egypt.


Speed Art Museum
Louisville, Kentucky

wHY was tasked with the master plan and redesign of the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, a 1927 neoclassical building with a history of additions. With this project, the firm applied its “acupuncture approach,” which Stojic explained as a “very specific pointing and finding of problems.” The renovation, which includes 20,000 square feet of new gallery space, a combined indoor-outdoor cafe, and a multi-functional pavilion, is set to open this March.


Harvard Art Museums
Cambridge, Massachusetts

In an effort to unify Harvard’s three separate museums, wHY collaborated with Renzo Piano Building Workshop, curators, and senior leaders from the institution to redesign 100,000 square feet of gallery space. Careful attention to lighting and materiality helped to place emphasis on the approximately 250,000 objects in the collection, as opposed to the actual spaces that they occupy. The resulting design provokes a more fluid and cohesive viewing experience.


R20th Exhibit
New York City

For this exhibit, entitled What’s the Matter, wHY did the exhibition design and contributed individual limited-edition furniture pieces including a lamp, chair, and table, all based in some way on a particular wHY project. According to Yantrasast, “The subject that we proposed was on materials and how different people from different times and different cultures have dealt with the same materials.” Yantrasast likens wHY’s process in designing the exhibit and its individual components to that of a laboratory or kitchen. Ultimately, the exhibit was about the objects themselves. “We didn’t want to put objects in a domestic context so people could buy them, we wanted people to see them as they are—lifting the function out of them and focusing on how people process material objects.”

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Cafe Society
A revamped serving area and multi-colored furniture brightens CalArtss cafeteria and collaborative culture.
Courtesy Ron Eshel

The fall semester at the California Institute of the Arts began with the first major campus renovation since the repairs after the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Los Angeles–based wHY, Kulapat Yantrasast’s multidisciplinary architecture and design practice, transformed an uninviting and obsolete cafeteria into a light-filled cafe and student center that meets the varied needs of the students, faculty, and staff at the renowned art institution.

“CalArts is paradise for workaholics,” said president Steven Lavine of the school’s dedication to individual practice and private studio spaces. “We’ve always operated 24-7 but we hadn’t adapted to the idea of shared work spaces.”

While multiple disciplines share the five-story, 500,000-square-foot building first envisioned by Walt Disney and completed by Ladd & Kelsey in 1971, there were few informal spaces for students and faculty to meet and collaborate. “Historically, CalArts has under invested in amenities,” noted Lavine. “Any time we had money, we put it into equipment, scholarships, and faculty. We hadn’t thought very hard about the overall work environment.”

The new design not only updates the food service area to appeal to the students, it creates a variety of dining and lounge seating areas with custom furniture designed by the firm. WHY also reworked the entry sequence to include a mobile grab-and-go kiosk and ad-hoc “apple crate” furniture that students can move into swap-meet arrangements or use in other ways.

However, wHY’s first order of business was to open up the 13,000-square-foot space and bring in light. The team gutted the old cafeteria and removed the walls and a drop ceiling from the dining room, revealing panoramic views of the Santa Clarita hills and a waffle-slab ceiling that provided an opportunity for skylights.

The now-luminous white space is home to various seating arrangements. Communal tables were designed by wHY’s Objects Workshop and locally fabricated by Cinnabar Fabrication; made from powder-coated aluminum with steel bases, they slice through the space at oblique angles. Overhead, lighting consultant Luminesce Design added simple strip fixtures that continue the visual lines of the tables. In a lounge corner dotted with candy-colored chairs, the firm added a few built-in booths to create more private reading areas.

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Set in Stoneware
Several 1870s buildings will be refurbished to update Louisville Stoneware's factory complex and visitor center.
Courtesy wHY

Two hundred years ago, a pottery company in Kentucky helped settle the American frontier. Louisville Stoneware owner Steve Smith likens his company’s products to early Tupperware that kept food safe in the untamed country—Louisville was the last civilized stop-off on many journeys West.

But how does an early 19th-century stoneware operation stay relevant in the 21st century when the majority of its competition is made overseas at a fraction of the cost? Smith enlisted a team of architects, planners, and landscape architects led by Los Angeles– and New York–based architecture firm wHY to find out.

“All together a year ago, our team did a charrette with Louisville Stoneware to explore ideas,” noted wHY principal Kulapat Yantrasast. “Of course we focused on Stoneware, but the goal is the rejuvenation of an entire area—the Paristown Pointe neighborhood. With the master plan that we have, we can offer connections to the larger area.”

A series of buildings will be converted into the new Louisville stoneware factory and headquarters.
Branden Klayko / AN

Smith, Yantrasast, and their team are remaking an entire neighborhood to save a single pottery company. At around 50 acres, Paristown Pointe is one of the city’s smallest neighborhoods and comes with major site planning challenges. The triangular area is hemmed in by a channelized creek, elevated rail line, and steep topography. The creek historically spills its banks, inundating the low-lying area.

“It is a joint, or a knuckle, between the downtown grid and the grid that becomes the Highlands, [Louisville’s most walkable neighborhood],” said Charles Cash, principal at Urban 1 and former Louisville city planner. “It’s always been a secluded enclave, and this gives [the neighborhood] a chance to be a front door for the community.” Because it has been forgotten to history, the area is primed for wHY to give it a distinctly new image.

The Paristown Pointe master plan showing Louisville Stoneware, the theater (KCA facility), and the brewery (indicated by future development site).
Courtesy Booker Design Collaborative

The cultural district is anchored by a performing arts center, a brewery-restaurant, and Smith’s stoneware company. Those three businesses define two blocks along a redesigned Brent Street, which will become a shared street that doubles as a gathering space during special events.

In late November the $28 million project was awarded preliminary approval for up to $7.2 million in state tourism tax credits to help fund the district.

Before wHY could begin planning individual components, the team first had to address complex site issues. “We had to really look at green infrastructure and decide how we’re handling all of the stormwater,” said Kristin Booker, principal at landscape firm Booker Design Collaborative. “Because we’re doing the three developments at the same time, we can think about those elements as a comprehensive system.”

The view down Brent Street.
Branden Klayko / AN

A terraced landscape and berms form a bowl around Brent Street to define public spaces and guard against floodwaters. Bioswales and pervious paving help keep stormwater on site.

At Stoneware, Yantrasast is adapting several buildings dating to the 1870s to streamline the pottery factory and visitor experience. “We really wanted to make it into a place that visitors can enjoy,” he said. “We moved some of the logistics of the factory to create places people can go to see how the stoneware is made.”

wHY’s renderings show a green wall marking the complex’s new entrance formed by glazing a void between two buildings. An occupiable rooftop plinth connecting old and new unites the factory.

Tying into the industrial heritage of the area, the 50,000-square-foot brewery shoulders up to the freight rail viaduct. “There will be a real factory aspect to that area,” Yantrasast said. The production facility will be capable of brewing 60,000 barrels of beer annually alongside its gastropub and rooftop bar.

The district’s signature building is the theater, to be operated by the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. “It’s a 2,000-person, standing-room-only space for 21 to 35 year olds,” Smith said, reiterating his desire to widen the audience exposed to Louisville Stoneware. Yantrasast arranged the black-box space with a mezzanine surrounding a multipurpose stage. “You can do everything from a symphony orchestra to a rock band to a variety of other events there,” he said.

Yantrasast isn’t just designing Smith’s cultural hub, he’s also helping to give the stoneware a modern look, serving as the company’s creative director. “We’re working with Kulapat and wHY on upgraded designs,” Smith said. “We need new creativity; we need to create the next look and feel. Some people love it, but we don’t get a lot of young people walking in the door right now and that’s what we need.”

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Yoko Ono breaks ground on public art project for Chicago’s South Side
The Chicago Park District starts work today on a new project by Yoko Ono. Her first permanent public art installation in the Americas will be a meditation on world peace, harmony with nature, and Japanese-American relations dubbed SKY LANDING, which is slated for a parcel of Jackson Park once home to the historic Phoenix Pavilion. Instead of a groundbreaking, construction began Friday with a “ground healing” ceremony on Wooded Island. Ono's installation, set to open in June 2016, will include a sculpture and landscape design meant to evoke a sense of harmony with nature. The details of the project are still largely undefined. “I recall being immediately connected to the powerful site and feeling the tension between the sky and the ground,” Ono said in a press statement. “I wanted the Sky to land here, to cool it, and make it well again.” Following the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, the Japan Construction Company shipped several prefabricated, traditional Japanese structures to Chicago's South Side, establishing the Ho-o-den (Phoenix Pavilion). It remained on Wooded Island until fire destroyed the Phoenix Pavilion in 1946. Now home to Osaka Garden, the site is part of a public-private overhaul of Jackson and Washington Parks under the nonprofit banner Project 120 Chicago. Led by the Chicago Park District and businesspeople including Robert Karr, Jr., a lawyer and the executive vice president of the Japan America Society of Chicago, Project 120 Chicago was convened to “revitalize” Frederick Law Olmsted's South Side parks, which have suffered from years of deferred maintenance. In 2012 the group's efforts began with an initiative to plant hundreds of cherry blossom trees. They then hired architect Kulapat Yantrasast and his firm wHY to look into building a new Phoenix Pavilion. Preservation landscape architect and planner Patricia O’Donnell and her firm Heritage Landscapes were hired to lead larger preservation efforts in the parks.
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Grand Canopy
A grand stair brings students into the new art village.
Courtesy wHY

Culver City firm wHY is taking a unique approach to Pomona College’s new Studio Arts Hall. Instead of designing a monolithic, unified structure, they are hoping to create what principal Kulapat Yantrasast called an “art village,” with a cluster of buildings focused around a central open space, covered with an undulating wood and steel truss canopy. The project is set to finish in time for the school year this coming fall. The centralization of activity is designed to encourage interaction and cross-pollination between disciplines, and help the hall become an outdoor center of activity for the campus as a whole. “Students tend to stay in their own studios,” said Yantrasast. “We’ve made it so they have to interact among disciplines.”

Simple materials clad the building's facade. The canopy's exposed rafters emulate LA's many bow-truss-roof structures.

Two floors of steel-frame building spaces will contain seven departments, including painting, drawing, digital media, and photography. They will be occupied not just by informal studios but also by un-programmed breakout spaces, perfect for unstructured gatherings. Ground floors will be fronted by large storefront windows, behind which will be active spaces for CNC machines, and wood shops, and so on.

The concrete paved courtyard is a blank canvas for gathering, art display, or even performance. The roof structure above does not just provide shade and enclosure, it echoes both the nearby mountains and the region’s tradition of wood truss structures.

“I believe in craft,” said Yantrasast. “I want this building to have that aspect of craft.”