Two of Detroit’s iconic art deco buildings are getting some much-needed love from their new owners. The Fisher Building and the Albert Kahn Building in the New Center area will be getting an injection of $100 million in redevelopment, according to the Detroit News. The Fisher Building is a National Historic Landmark and on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The 30-story building was completed in 1928, and was credited with helping spur the development of New Center. Designed by Joseph Nathaniel French of Albert Kahn Associates, the original plan was to construct a three-building complex of two 30-story towers and one 60-story tower. The Great Depression hit shortly after the completion of the building, dooming that plan. It is said that French took cues from Elial Saarinen’s second place design for the Chicago Tribune Tower when designing the Fisher Building. Along with the highly ornate 2,089-seat Fisher Theatre, the building also includes a three-story barrel-vaulted lobby which is decorated in mosaics and tiles made of 40 different types of marble. The new owners, development company The Platform, plan to focus on bringing more retail and hospitality back to the building. Also owned by The Platform, the Albert Kahn building, named after its architect, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as well. Located near the Fisher Building, the two buildings are connected by two underground pedestrian tunnels. Currently, the building is laid out as office space, 30% of which is full. The plan for the building's redevelopment includes bringing retail back to the base and converting the upper levels into over 150 new rental apartments. Detroit-based Albert Kahn Associates, current tenants in the building, will continue to have its main office after the renovation. The redevelopment of these two buildings is in anticipation that surrounding neighborhood, which has seen recent growth, will soon look to the New Center area for more space. Along with available building stock for redevelopment, the under construction QLine (Detroit’s future light rail) will also run directly from New Center to the downtown. Other developments in the area include an outpatient cancer center to be built by Henry Ford Hospital and the expansion of the Motown Museum. While many details, including tenants and specific designs, have not been released yet, it is anticipated that construction will begin the Fisher and Kahn buildings in mid-to-late 2017.
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The Waldorf Astoria hotel is one of the most important works of art deco architecture in New York City. Its interior spaces, designed in 1929 by Schultze & Weaver, embody the spirit of the Jazz Age architecture that captured the city in the 1920s. The exterior was landmarked in 1993. Today, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted unanimously to calendar the interior spaces for designation, most of which are part of the block-long network of interiors. The new designation could protect the large spaces and connecting hallways, many of which are publicly accessible. Putting the interiors on the calendar is the first official step in the landmarking process. Chinese holding company Anbang Insurance Group purchased the building for $1.95 billion in 2014 and is looking to invest up to $1 billion more for a major renovation that could transform the hotel into luxury residential apartments. The building is scheduled to close for renovations from spring 2017 until 2020. In a statement released today, Anbang declared its support for the LPC's move:
Anbang knows the Waldorf’s history is a large part of what makes this hotel so special. That’s why we fully support the LPC’s recommendation for what would be one of the most extensive interior landmark designations of any privately owned building in New York. These designations are consistent with our vision and will protect the Waldorf’s significant public spaces. We are now finalizing renovation plans for the Waldorf that preserve these spaces and will ensure that the Waldorf will provide memorable experiences for generations to come. We look forward to sharing our plans publicly when they are complete.The spaces under review include the Park Ave foyer and colonnade, the West Lounge (a.k.a. “Peacock Alley”), the East Arcade, the Lexington Avenue stairs, assorted lobbies and vestibules, the Ballroom entrance hall, and the famous Grand Ballroom. The ballroom hosts many high-profile events, including the Al Smith dinner that serves as comedic relief each presidential election season as the two candidates take light-hearted jabs at each other. The decadent architectural details inside represent an early embrace of the Machine age, even if in a “superficial way,” as described Marianne Lamonaca, author of Grand Hotels of the Jazz Age, a 2005 book about New York’s remarkable hotels of the era. "This is one of the most distinctive interiors in the city," Commissioner Frederick Bland explained. "In Delirious New York, Rem Koolhaas writes a whole chapter on this extraordinary city within a city. I always encourage my students to visit this sequence of spaces. That is what make this so special to me. It is public, or nearly public. To walk on that main axis, entering from Park Avenue, and ending up down a level on Lexington is wonderful. It is probably my favorite interior in all of New York. The fact that it is not landmarked already is really horrifying. This is a delightful day for me."
New York architecture, planning and interior design firm CetraRuddy are set to transform the New Jersey Bell Headquarters Building tower in Newark. Built in 1929, the historic tower was designed by prolific Manhattan architect, Ralph Walker. The 436,000-square-foot tower, which sits on 540 Broad Street in Newark, will be repurposed to accommodate 260 apartments and 60,000 square feet of office and retail space. Existing tenants like Verizon, whose headquarters are located in the building, are due to remain. CetraRuddy, run by husband and wife John Cetra and Nancy J. Ruddy, has a strong pedigree in conversion projects. The firm are no stranger to Walker's designs, having worked on the Walker and Stella Towers in Manhattan previously. As with those project, CetraRuddy will maintain much of the detailing and 1920s decorum found on and inside the building. "This is an incredible landmark of this city and a national treasure, and we are delighted to help bring it new life," said Cetra in a press release. "For Newark, this visionary project brings new vibrancy and economic vitality to Newark’s downtown center, while also preserving its renowned historic character." In 2005, the building's art deco facade and lobby was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Rising 20 stories (275 feet) the sandstone and buff brick facade features colonnades and motifs by sculptor Edward McCartan. At night, the facade and upper levels are illuminated to reveal McCartan's detailing.
You can credit Chicago's recent boom in boutique hotels with revving up an historic 16-story building once home to the Chicago Motor Club, which rolled back onto the market in May as a Hampton Inn. As AN wrote at the project's inception, the design draws heavily on 68 East Wacker Place's history. Perhaps most notably, Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture retained a 29-foot mural by Chicago artist John Warner Norton that suggests cross-country driving routes from 1927. Mural restoration expert Dmitri Rybchenkov, of the Chicago firm Restoration Division, led those efforts. In addition to the mural, other details recall the building's original identity as a motorist's mecca. To wit, an original 1928 Ford Model A overlooks the lobby. Interior designers with Gettys One also worked to restore many of the art deco details originally included by architects Holabird & Root. Vacant for over a decade, the building was destined for demolition before developer John T. Murphy, president of Murphy Asset Management, cobbled together historic preservation tax credits and financing from the Hampton Inn hotel chain to revive the short yet handsome structure.
Via Kenny Kim Photography, take a look inside the renovated Chicago Motor Club building:
Speculation about the future of Park Slope's local cinema, the Pavilion Theater, is finally giving way to more concrete plans. The Real Deal reported that Hidrock Realty, who bought the Prospect Park West property in 2006 for $16 million, will likely overhaul the neighborhood movie theater and turn it into 24 residential units including 8,000 square feet of commercial space. The developer also owns the adjacent vacant lot. Architecture Outfit released two possible schemes for the theater back in December, but now real estate blog 6sqft revealed that the architect of record is Morris Adjmi, whose trademark style creating contextual yet modern buildings has made him a favorite with the Landmarks Preservation Commission—think the popular Wythe Hotel he completed in 2012. As part of the Park Slope Historic District, the exterior of the art deco theater will be preserved, but the interior, which isn't landmarked, could undergo a substantial renovation. A spokesperson for Hidrock told the Real Deal that a "sophisticated and "reasonably sized" theater could possibly replace the Pavilion. However, the cinema's lease through 2022, which includes the option of a 10-year renewal, could be a not-so-small hiccup in the fruition of Hidrock's plans for park-side, luxury housing.
Rafael de Cárdenas of Architecture at Large ventured into his first curatorial endeavor with Christie’s for a special installation that premieres the sale of The Collector: English & European Furniture, Fine Art, Ceramics & Silver. From a gilt centaur with an amethyst base to a cameo acid-etched vase to a Louis XVI mahogany desk, de Cárdenas studied individual works in the upcoming sale to design a display of highlights from the auction. Showcased atop bronze-hued plinths, de Cárdenas’ favorite lots are interspersed in a landscape of flowers and palm leaves delicately arranged by Meta Flora. With over 300 lots, the auction encompasses 17th to 19th-century European furniture, sculpture, works of art, silver, ceramics, carpets and more, with starting prices ranging from the thousands to the hundred thousands. AN asked Rafael de Cárdenas about his installation design, his personal knowledge of decorative arts, and what he found fascinating about the sale. The Architect’s Newspaper: How long have you been collecting decorative arts and why did you start? Rafael de Cárdenas: Barring a few purchases at antique shops in France, I wouldn’t say I’m a collector of decorative arts. I collect quite a bit of design pieces but mostly 20th century. Working with Christie’s on this exciting collaboration may change that however. I will be bidding on pieces in the auction! Can you tell us about the installation and what your inspiration was? I don’t think these items need a lot of razzle dazzle; they are quite dazzling on their own. We are simply curating a particularly mannerist selection together on semi-rounded tiered plinths. The plinths isolate each piece, giving them more attention than they might normally have in a traditional living environment. We are working with Meta Flora to weave a monochromatic but lush landscape as an element interacting with the pieces. In your studies of the lots, what did you find most intriguing or surprising? Lot 237, a George Woodall for Thomas Webb glass cameo work, is particularly compelling in its general moodiness. I’ve been drawn to the glass works most, I’d say. Lot 271, a Louis Solon for Mintons glass vessel, is another favorite. Many of the smaller fragile works are so atmospheric almost to the point of no other function. What are your favorite works/artists from the 17th to the 19th century? I would have been unable to answer that a few months ago, but I particularly like the pieces by George Woodall for Thomas Webb Glass in the auction. The installation is on view in Rockefeller Plaza at Christie’s from April 6-9. Afterward, the auction will follow on the day after, on April 10.
Designers can enhance the look of any interior environment by incorporating expressive and unique decorative glass into the mix. From printed patterns to colorful and bold layers, decorative glass helps transform interior spaces into well-outfitted works of art. Cipher, Overlay, Check Skyline Design The three patterns in this collection are characterized by repeating, layered motifs in colors printed on both sides of the glass. The images can be executed in a variety of techniques, in opaque, translucent, and transparent options, allowing for different degrees of translucency and privacy. Designed by Patricia Urquiola. Alice General Glass Using direct-to-glass printing technology, patterns can be scaled and colored to spec for interior and exterior applications. Alight Pulp Studio Alight is not just a bas-relief glass product, but can be specified as a fully engineered wall system, inclusive of structural steel and other components. Created by Amses Cosma Studio. Expressions Collection Pittsburgh Corning The Expressions Collection enhances the cosmetic appeal of traditional glass block without compromising its functional benefits of security, privacy, light transmission, and fire ratings. A variety of stock images and murals are printed on eight- by eight-inch by four-inch nominal size glass block in the Decora pattern; custom design services are also offered. Wire In Glass Rudy Art Glass A variety of metal meshes are laminated into a range of textured and tinted glass, resulting in an unusually expressive collection.
COURTESY RUDY ART GLASS
If you like French decorative arts you should make your way this summer to the Louvre's newly restored and reinstalled 18th century Decorative Arts Galleries. The collection is housed in 35 galleries spanning 23,000 square feet. Over 2,000 design pieces "in object-focused galleries and period-room settings" are on display. The architect for the restoration was Michel Goutal, the Louvre’s senior historical monument architect (with technical assistance provided by the Louvre’s Department of Project Planning and Management). In addition, there is an American connection to the restoration of the galleries. The American Friends of the Louvre (AFL)—who famously helped restore a "secret" Versailles water garden several years ago—played a vital role in the renovation by raising $4 million in support of the project and one of its key period rooms, the restoration of l’Hôtel Dangé-Villemaré drawing room. This space has not been exhibited in its entirety since its 19th-century acquisition by the Louvre. The AFL also raised funds for the restoration and first ever public presentation of a magnificent cupola painted by Antoine François Callet which will be installed in the galleries and for the English-language edition of the book of the Louvre’s decorative arts collection whose publication will celebrate the opening.
Decon Artists: Wigley, Tschumi, Eisenman Reflect on MoMA’s Landmark “Deconstructivist Architecture” Exhibit
On January 22, Mark Wigley, Bernard Tschumi, and Peter Eisenman took the stage in MoMA’s theater to reflect upon Deconstructivist Architecture, the landmark 1988 exhibit curated by Wigley and Philip Johnson. The press release at the time described the featured architects—including Coop Himmelblau, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, and Daniel Libeskind, along with Tschumi and Eisenman—as “obsessed with diagonals, arcs, and warped plans.” In a where-are-they-now moment, Wigley said, “It occurred to me that only Daniel Libeskind thought the show was about the future, and he still seems to be designing for the show, and that seems to be not a good idea.” And the sniping didn’t stop there. Eisenman, despite refusing to hold the microphone to his mouth, could be overheard saying what kind of exhibit he would—or rather, wouldn’t—do, if given the chance: “Well, it wouldn’t be like the biennale of last fall, which was sort of a discount supermarket of everything that was going.” “Including you,” zinged Wigley.
Move over Woolworth Building. Another iconic Lower Manhattan skyscraper is slated for a residential conversion, this time by Deborah Berke Partners and architects of record Steven B. Jacobs Group. The 66-story art deco landmark at 70 Pine Street was built in 1932 as the Cities Service Company, and more recently served as the headquarters of American International Group (AIG), and now developer Rose Associates plans to transform the tower into 700 luxury apartments above a 300-room hotel. Standing at 952 feet tall, 70 Pine was originally the 3rd tallest building in the world, behind the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, and is still one of the tallest in the city. Stylized art deco detailing in stone and aluminum covers the building's exterior and lobby, with a miniature stone model of the structure standing between the building's main entrances (see below). Stephen B. Jacobs, principal of the Stephen B. Jacobs Group, said all significant historical elements of the structure will remain intact in line with NYC Landmarks laws and guidelines for historic tax credits. Individual residences, however, will begin with a clean slate and feature modern design. "The residences will be modern in a way that's inspired by what's already there," said Christopher Yost, Associate Architect at Deborah Berke Partners. "They're designed to be compatible with the existing building." Interior demolition has already begun on site, but Jacobs noted that final plans including the official number of units could change in the future and that a design team for the hotel below the residences has not been finalized. He said four to six apartments are planned per floor in the tower with more units filling floors on the tower's base. The building's pointed spire, featuring an observation deck and glowing lantern at its pinnacle, will be part of the residential program, but it hasn't been decided whether it will serve as a penthouse or communal space. Construction is expected to take around 18 months, meaning 70 Pine should open sometime in summer 2014.
A pink gecko scuttles across a psychedelic digital landscape, deftly navigating a tangled maze of drifting butterflies, waddling alligators, and a pair of pensive whales passing below. Stepping on any creature will result in its explosive demise, yet simply navigating the trippy environment renders such destruction inevitable. This sort of high-tech super-nature is par for the course in Japanese art collective teamLab’s immersive exhibitions but a first for Helsinki, Finland—and Amos Rex, the new art museum hosting the group’s first show in the Nordic region. The five-year, $64-million Amos Rex project was carried out by local Finnish firm JKMM and supported largely by Konstsamfundet, the association behind the old Amos Rex Art Museum (RIP 1965–2017). The project involved both a $17-million facelift of Lasipalatsi, the "Glass Palace" built in central Helsinki in the 1930s by three Finnish architecture students for the 1940 Helsinki Olympics (which was postponed until 1952 due to the Second World War), as well as the construction of a new underground art museum particularly well-suited for new media and immersive installation art. Because Lasipalatsi was originally supposed to be temporary, its young designers received carte blanche, resulting in an ambitious Functionalist fun home that includes a cinema, restaurants, shops, and a backdoor public square surrounded by 19th-century neoclassical barracks. Almost destroyed in the 1980s but listed and restored in the 1990s when it reemerged with a glorious inner coat of pastels, the Glass Palace is a resilient building with a tumultuous past. JKMM have taken care to preserve much of this history, including its doors and windows, fitted furniture and movie seats, plus the first outdoor neon sign in Finland. The revitalized 550-seat art deco cinema and new film program will be the delight of many a cinephile, yet the most compelling aspect of Lasipalatsi—and where the old most energetically meets the new—is out back. Once the site of military parades, the historic public square has been transformed into a surreal lunar landscape, where a series of bulbous domes sporting large round windows now connects a veritable jungle gym of a plaza to an underground art hub. “I was sitting in a meeting a couple of weeks ago, when suddenly a man with a stroller appeared right outside the window of our second-floor office,” grins Timor Riitamaa, the head of communications and marketing at Amos Rex. “That was when I realized the park was open.” Positioned somewhere between alien topography and an ancient lifeform, the textured concrete playscape is a total hit in Helsinki. Sunbathers, selfie-snapping teens, Instagram influencers, romping children, and even daredevil parents can be seen ascending the five volcano-like protrusions to peer down into the subterranean art world below. Within the museum, sliding butts, squished noses and photography wars are now as common a view as the art, which unfurls in a columnless 24,000-square-foot gallery space. Building underground is never easy, and for JKMM it involved burrowing through nearly 140,000 square feet of hard bedrock found right underneath the city’s surface. Their approach was slow but steady—and went largely unnoticed. The square closed in 2015 so that the architects could carry out miniature controlled explosions, timed for every four minutes so the Helsinki Metro system could run undisturbed. It was a teeth-gritting exercise, but little of that angst can be felt from the ethereal white staircase connecting Lasipalatsi to the new museum lobby below. Descending the stairs, a generous view out onto the square framing Lasipalatsi’s old columns beside new sci-fi domes is swallowed up by a cloud of soft lighting. Designed by Finnish company Doctor Design, the textured ceiling of pleated fabric shades diffuses light through rows of flower-like pendants. Tightly bundled together in a way that floats between surrealism and Finnish National Romanticism, the lights are a clear nod to Lasipalatsi’s heritage. The ceiling flower field yields to two large tunnels ending in angled circular skylights that peer out onto the public plaza some 20 feet above. One offers a significant view out onto the staircase of the old theatre, while the second was framed by the tiny hands and faces of several miniature onlookers during my visit. Futuristic circular benches are positioned directly below, seemingly at the ready for sky-gazers. “We wanted the feeling of going underground to be as positive and light as possible,” says Kai Kartio, director of Amos Rex. “We had to go under, but our solution was to bring the museum upwards—you always have contact with daylight,” confirms Freja Stahlberg, the project architect. The extent of the sculptural skylights’ magnetic effect on the public square above was a delightful surprise for both architect and museum. Back below ground, Massless, the inaugural exhibition by teamLab, echoes the world-making imagination of the architects. Four immersive installations make full use of JKMM’s revolutionary modular museum layout, realized through an acoustic-disk ceiling made from perforated aluminum and a wooden gridded floor below which “data, air, and power all flow,” according to the architect. The museum’s high-tech fixtures meet their match in the 137 projectors, motion sensor technology, and eight miles of cables that make up teamLab’s digital multiverse. The exhibition consists of fan favorites like Graffiti Nature as well as Vortex of Light Particles, a site-specific piece that involves an inverted waterfall seemingly bent on sucking visitors into an Anish Kapoor-like black hole that inhabits the main domed ceiling. Vortex is clearly the stuff of tripping nerds’ dreams (it was a hit among Silicon Valley tech bros at Pace in Palo Alto), while its dark dreamscape subverts the light-filled expectations of Amos Rex, proving the museum’s versatility. “Virtual reality isolates you in a virtual space. We are trying to bring everyone back to a physical space,” said teamLab member Nonaka Kazumasa. While Massless uses digital technology to bring its viewers closer to nature and each other, Amos Rex performs the larger function of bringing untraditional art experiences to Helsinki’s public in a spatially-sensitive and cost-effective way. It is a cunning answer to the city's future urban development plan that prioritizes inner-city densification, but Amos Rex should also be seen as a testament to the merits of building deeper and the informal spaces for public play that can bubble up to the surface.