Search results for "wHY"

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Out of the Heart of Darkness

The Met taps wHY for a $70 million renovation of the Rockefeller Wing
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has revealed a $70 million revamp of its Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, which hosts fine art from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. Thai architect Kulapat Yantrasast, founder of New York-based wHY Architecture, has been selected to update the wing’s 40,000 square feet of galleries as part of a master plan to modernize the museum ahead of its 150th birthday in 2020. The renovation, slated to begin in 2020 and finish in 2023, will reorganize and celebrate pieces that, when the Rockefeller Wing opened in 1982, were described as being from “the primitive world.” Once wHY completes the overhaul, each gallery in the wing will be flushed with natural light and use the vernacular architecture of the region represented within. From the renderings (the project has only just entered the schematic design phase and may still change), wHY has chosen to cover the ceiling of each gallery in white “ribs.” The walls, partitions, and plinths in each space will share the same stone-like color, creating an unobtrusive yet naturalistic space for viewing the art. As the Met director Max Hollein laid out at a press conference this morning, the goal of renovating the Rockefeller Wing was to better integrate the intertwined histories of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas with the rest of the Met’s collection. The Rockefeller Wing presents art from over half of the globe in a single place, and the history of the artifacts therein is deeply connected with that of Greece, Rome, and every other place typically explored in the “mainstream” art history canon. With the new galleries, said Hollein, this art was coming out of the “heart of darkness,” both literally and figuratively. Embarking on an ambitious plan to reorganize the museum’s galleries would have seemed absurd a year ago, when the Met was struggling to hit its financial goals and growth was stagnant. According to the Met’s president and chief executive Daniel H. Weiss, revenue has been up 41 percent after the museum instituted a mandatory admissions policy for non-New Yorkers in March. The Rockefeller announcement also coincides with Hollein’s 100th day on the job and the Met is hoping that the stabilization of its income and leadership will allow the institution to focus on reactivating its expansion plans and acquiring new contemporary art. Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors is handling a $22 million renovation of the museum’s British decorative arts and sculpture galleries, expected to open in 2020. A $150 million skylight replacement in the European Paintings galleries has closed off half the wing and is expected to wrap up in 2022, but will bathe works by the Dutch masters in the unparalleled light once complete. Perhaps most excitingly, David Chipperfield’s $600 million redevelopment of the Southwest Wing may be back on the table, as the museum is currently scoping out its fundraising options.
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New York Park for Toronto

Snøhetta and wHY Architecture among finalists for two Toronto parks
Several renowned North American firms, including New York-based practices Snøhetta and wHY Architecture, are among the ten finalists competing in an international competition to design two new waterfront parks in Toronto. Commissioned by Waterfront Toronto and the City of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation, the projects will, when complete, add to the city's growing collection of green spaces along its harbor. Over 40 teams submitted design proposals for the York Street and Rees Street Parks, both located at the heart of the city's waterfront. The design brief for York Street Park, a two-acre piece of land situated between the southern part of Toronto's Financial District and the York Quay residential neighborhood, called for amenities like event and green space, a water feature, public art, an architectural pavilion, and accommodation for dogs. Five finalists were chosen. In 'Park Vert', Agency Landscape + Planning partnered with DAVID RUBIN Land Collective to create a green oasis for locals inspired by Toronto’s urban forest. The design is multi-layered and includes a canopy to provide summer shade, a light walkway to create an elevated experience while walking through the park, and a 'forest floor' that incorporates a water fountain and different natural materials. Stephen Stimson Associates Landscape Architects and MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects collaborated on 'York Forest', which features a massive canopy of vegetation housing a variety of human activities and natural systems. In the renderings, people, plants, and animals co-exist in an urban ecosystem. Located a few minutes east of the site for York Street Park, Rees Street Park is a 2.3-acre area set between Rogers Centre and Queens Quay West. Its brief asked entrants to design areas of play for all ages and abilities, as well as spaces for a market and other urban activities. In Stoss Landscape Urbanism and DTAH’s proposal titled 'Rees Landing', the park becomes a “testing ground for new forms of civic and ecological expression.” The architects make use of topographic moves to create an array of contrasting textures, playing with people’s experiences in the site. In 'The NEST', Snøhetta partnered with PMA Landscape Architects to create an 'experimental stage' at Rees Street Park that can be used year-round. Amenities include the Wall Crawl, the Alvar Mist, the Hammock Grove, the Backyard BBQ, and the Play Nest. The design also features retractable elements such as a glass wall that provides a seamless indoor-outdoor transition. Besides these innovative designs, the competition's public engagement process is noteworthy. A jury consisting of industry leaders will take into account feedback from local residents when determining the two winning design teams. You can view the proposals and survey the designs here. Construction of York Street Park is expected to start in 2019, while work on Rees Street Park will commence in 2020.  
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Zero Tolerance

Why are architecture’s major professional organizations silent on the immigrant detention debate?
A preliminary Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plan to house nearly 100,000 detained migrants across California has been shelved.

 According to a draft Navy memo reported by Time late last week, the military base at Camp Pendleton north of San Diego and the Concord Naval Weapons Station (CNWS) east of San Francisco were being eyed as potential sites for “temporary and austere” detention facilities that would hold up to 47,000 detained migrants each over coming months. The plans encountered swift and fierce local opposition from residents and City of Concord officials alike, prompting DHS to unofficially reconsider the plan. Aside from local political opposition to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policies—especially with regard to the policy of separating migrant families and detaining separated children under inhumane conditions—locals pointed to the CNWS site’s environmental toxicity and the presence of unexploded munitions on the grounds as additional reasons against its use as a detention facility. The dust-up in California comes as the United States government works to expand the number of migrant detention facilities across the country in order to deal with the rapidly growing number of detainees resulting from its hardline stance against incoming migrants and refugees. The memo uncovered by Time estimates the government is projecting to warehouse up to 25,000 detained migrants over the coming months in abandoned airfields across southern Alabama and in the Florida panhandle in addition to the nearly 94,000 detainees planned for California. There is no word regarding where or whether the detention facilities originally slated for California are being relocated to other sites. The new facilities will join what is quickly becoming a sprawling, nation-wide network of private jail facilities, non-profit-operated detention centers, and now, camps and “tent cities” located on military bases aimed at housing detained migrants. Perhaps nothing has brought this more into focus than recent controversy over the Trump administration’s policy of family separation. Although President Trump recently put a temporary halt to the practice through an executive order, nearly 2,500 children have been separated from their families over the past two months and are now being detained in facilities spanning at least 15 states. According to government figures, roughly 12,000 migrant children overall are currently being held in over 100 facilities across the country, many of which are at or exceed their designated capacities, and some of which are facing allegations of abuse and misconduct, not to mention ill-equipped to handle the mental health, welfare, and legal hurdles these children face. As a result, the nation’s sprawling—and expanding—carceral archipelago has now become a major source of  political, ethical, and moral debate. 

As with the vast for-profit prison system, there are many questions about the ethical and moral implications of designing and constructing these facilities. So far, however, the architectural profession is staying mostly out of the fray, with a few exceptions. Last week, The Architecture Lobby (TAL) and Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) issued a joint statement rejecting the role of architects in designing such detention facilities, stating, “The Architecture Lobby and ADPSR call on architects, designers, planners and allied professionals to refuse to participate in the design of any immigration enforcement infrastructure, including but not limited to walls, checkpoints, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices, detention facilities, processing centers, or juvenile holding centers. We encourage owners, partners and employees who find themselves in practices that engage in this work to organize, and deny their labor to these projects.” The statement came as the American Institute of Architects (AIA) held its annual convention in New York City, an event that was marked with a heavy emphasis on the profession’s attempts to overcome the diversity and inclusion hurdles currently faced by the white- and male-dominated profession. It was not long ago that the association drew the ire of its members following the 2016 national election, when AIA CEO Robert Ivy declared that AIA members “stand ready to work” with Trump toward shared goals like infrastructure investments. During last week’s conference, ADPSR attempted to get AIA leadership to endorse its rejection of detention center projects, an effort that was ultimately unsuccessful, though the group is still working to convince the AIA to adpot its position. Raphael Sperry, president of ADPSR, told The Architect’s Newspaper, “People should recognize that immigrants, including currently undocumented people in the United States, contribute greatly to architecture, and always have. There are immigrant and undocumented architects, builders, carpenters, plumbers, welders. We must recognize and respect the contributions of everyone who shapes the built environment, and ensure that our profession and our broader industry respect human rights for everyone.” When reached for comment on the question of whether architects should take on these commissions, Carl Elefante, AIA president, referred AN to the AIA press team. When contacted, a representative of the AIA simply asked, “Why do you think architects are working on these projects?” without providing further comment. Even a casual observer would note that architects are likely fundamental to the development of not only the increasingly ubiquitous detention centers being built across the country, but also, as ADPSR points out, the myriad supportive facilities necessary for DHS to carry out its ongoing efforts to fight so-called “illegal immigration.” Most notoriously, a 200,000-square-foot former Walmart in Brownsville, Texas came under scrutiny in recent weeks as a detention center with a unique claim to fame—the largest detention center for migrant and refugee children. Operated by the privately-run Southwest Key Programs organization, the big-box detention center was converted from a retail store to its current use in 2016 as a result of corporate downsizing and currently holds roughly 1,500 separated children. The conversion likely required building permits, construction drawings, and the like—services that often require architects. It is safe to assume that local jurisdictions would require basic planning approval and permitting for these projects, so it seems natural that architects would somehow be involved in the propagation of these facilities. The silence from professional organizations on the matter is troubling to say the least; as the government ramps up efforts to build more facilities under increasingly hostile terms, it would benefit practitioners and contractors to understand the ethical implications of their work. Furthermore, other professional architectural organizations, like the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), have pushed to have architects and designers engage with migrant and refugee detention centers through design in the past. Last year, ACSA issued a controversial call for its annual steel construction competition, asking participants to design a “Humanitarian Refugee (Detention) Center.” The proposal drew ire from the architectural community as well, prompting the group to shut down the competition in exchange for a different brief issued earlier this year. In a statement announcing the end of the competition, ACSA remarked that it had received “justified​ criticism” over the prompt and that it regretted its decision to publish the competition. When reached for comment this week regarding the current debate surrounding migrant detention centers, a representative said, “ACSA does not have a comment on that issue. We do not take positions on the work that architects choose to take on.” The reticence that professional groups like the AIA and ACSA have toward speaking out against what many consider to be plainly unethical facilities speaks to the profession’s ongoing struggles with racial and ethnic diversity along with human rights concerns. Because detained migrants are being distributed among a network that runs the gamut of structures, from private prisons to improvised tent cities in remote desert sites, the implications of the expanding detention network extends beyond the realm of individual projects and firm-specific business decisions to encompass profession-wide ethical and human rights concerns. The racialized dimension of the immigration debate alongside the architectural profession’s continued lack of diversity present particular challenges for professional organizations and individual firms as they attempt to respond. At stake is whether—or how—the architectural profession will engage with the American immigration debate, and more broadly, with a global refugee crisis that is only due to keep growing in scope and severity as the effects of climate change and resource-driven conflicts spread globally. If AIA and ACSA will not provide leadership during these trying times, who will?  
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Inclusion in Architecture

Why are there so few disabled architects and architecture students?
In the United States, people with disabilities in the architecture profession and architectural academia are statistically invisible. Neither the American Institute of Architects, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, nor the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture collect data on the number of architects or architecture students in the United States who self-identify with physical or cognitive disabilities.  The groundbreaking report, “Inclusion in Architecture,” published by the J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City at the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York, does not include data on disability. The lack of knowledge about disabled architecture students and architects in the United States stands in contrast to other strides made in diversification, equity, and inclusion. The profession’s self-examination—statistically and culturally—has forced a significant transformation in who can become an architect in the United States. Looking at attendance in colleges, faculty appointments, and representation at professional events, architecture appears to be a more diverse profession in terms of race and gender than it was 50 years ago. From celebrated architects to the deans of the most elite architecture schools, we can see efforts at diversification making a mark. Diversification is critical in architecture because ideas about race, gender, ability, and disability are formed and reproduced in the design and construction of buildings and urban spaces. The absence of disabled architecture students, architects, and particularly academic and institutional leaders within the United States relegates people with disabilities to being a a topic of discussion versus agents of change. In fact, a strand of disability theory argues that disability is a relative category, constructed in spaces that produce disabled bodies and minds. But whether perceived as innate or relative, a medical sensibility underpins many discussions of disability in architecture, because if people with disabilities are considered at all, it is as the subjects within spaces as opposed to the creators of them. This is due to several structural issues that prohibit people with disabilities from envisioning a future in which they participate in architecture in all its myriad manifestations. One key area that limits accessibility to architecture as a profession is the actual buildings where architecture education takes place. While numerous architecture schools are entirely accessible to people with disabilities, the majority of the elite Ivy League schools of architecture—Yale University, Harvard University, Princeton University, Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University—have historically had physically inaccessible spaces for people with lower-limb disabilities. In the 1990s, years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Yale, Princeton, Cornell, and Columbia still contained facilities inaccessible or difficult to access for people in wheelchairs. Almost all of these schools of architecture have been renovated, but key spaces—lecture halls (particularly the podium of the lecture hall where people speak), pin-up spaces, offices—remain either inaccessible or difficult to access.  Again, many schools have these problems, but these elite institutions have a disproportionate influence on the profession. We have lost out on multiple generations of architect leaders with disabilities who might have offered key perspectives on architecture, not only because of the barriers literally constructed in the architecture of elite institutions, but also due to the ways we imagine the production of architectural knowledge. For example, architectural education requires a thorough knowledge of historic precedents, but how do we imagine the spaces in which this knowledge is acquired? Consider the imagined physical commitment required to understand the discipline’s history, embedded in sites such as the Acropolis of Athens, the Roman Forum, or Teotihuacan, among numerous other examples. For the able-bodied, these sites are challenging places to visit—an observation confirmed by the writings of architects including Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn, and Alvar Aalto. But both the Acropolis and the Roman Forum were far more easily navigated thousands of years ago (by contemporary standards) than they are today as “modernized” sites of architectural preservation. The early 19th-century Romantic notion of experiencing ruins under physical exertion has been permanently built into the experience of many important architectural monuments. This is a key aspect of historiographical aesthetics virtually unexplored in the literature or teaching of architectural historical practice. In other words, a romanticism of the body’s relationship to historical spaces hangs over the experience of architectural history, one that is furthered in the descriptions of these remote sites in classrooms and our expectations regarding the experience of the past. If the design of spaces of education and historical knowledge shape ideas about the abilities of architects, then the physical spaces encountered within architecture internships also require critical analysis. The ADA has enabled people with physical and cognitive disabilities in the United States far greater access to all types of buildings and public spaces. However, the ADA does not govern all construction sites. Even if architecture schools in the U.S. make a concerted effort to improve accessibility, there are several impediments to students with various disabilities becoming architects. It is virtually impossible to undertake an architectural internship without being able to navigate the relationship between the making of architectural representations in offices and the material assembly of architecture on a construction site. To imagine the increased accessibility of construction sites is utopian but necessary, primarily because doing so would re-envision the types of people who create architecture tout court. Labor unions might pursue this to further workplace safety. The latter is a staggering problem in an industry that is extraordinarily and needlessly dangerous: Over a 45-year career, someone working construction will have a 75 percent chance of acquiring a disability from a workplace injury. Construction work accounts for only 3 percent of employment in the United States and almost a quarter of all workplace injuries. Thus, we arrive at the most disturbing point about disability and architecture—the construction of buildings produces disability more than any other sector of the economy. To imagine the accessibility of a building extending from the people who dig its foundations to those who use its interiors enables us to reimagine what a building is at an ontological level. It radically transforms the disabled from being the subjects of spaces to the agents of architecture’s conceptualization and construction at the most granular level. Architects and architecture students are working at a time when discourses on diversity, equity, and inclusion have made measurable transformations within architectural academia and the greater profession. This has led to new generations of African-American, Latinx, and Asian-American teachers and students, the expansion of global architecture history curricula, and student organizations focused on race and gender, among many other outcomes. It is time that we let people with disabilities partake in this important transformation occurring in American architectural education and the profession. Of course, these forms of identification are not isolated, and opportunities exist for understanding intersecting and mutually reinforcing relationships among various forms of subjectivity and disability. In recent years, academic architecture panels, journals, and symposia have brought disability perspectives to architecture.  These are important contributions. However, in many of these venues, no architects with permanent and severe disabilities were present to represent this particular form of identity. As this article demonstrates, the structural limitations to a career as an architect with disabilities run deep, and the limitations to academic leadership in this area run deeper. To imagine disability having a place in architecture will involve much more than making buildings accessible or identifying people with disabilities and making entreaties to them to enter the profession. It will involve expensive transformations to the physical spaces of colleges and universities; a lessening of the athletic aesthetics of architecture history, theory, and design; and legal structures that will open a field like construction to more people. If we pursue these transformations in the accessibility of space, discourse, and construction, we will likely see a parallel shift in the types of people who imagine becoming an architect and leading this profession. In turn, the discussion of accessibility and its realization in the design and construction of buildings will enter a new, more sophisticated, and ethical stage of development. David Gissen is Professor of Architecture at the California College of the Arts. He became an above-the-knee amputee while an architecture student in the early 1990s – a surgery related to an earlier childhood illness.
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Another one bites the dust?

Why we need architecture critics more than ever
Earlier this week we learned that Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne would be stepping down to take on the city’s newly-created role of Chief Design Officer. The move is a bold, encouraging one that should go a long way toward, as Hawthorne put it, “raising the quality of public architecture and urban design across the city—and the level of civic conversation about those subjects,” through his employment of oversight, advocacy, competitions, forums, and more. But it’s the second part of that statement, regarding civic conversation, that, regardless of this positive development, is under siege in the architecture world. Until Hawthorne is replaced — and given the turmoil at the L.A. Times that’s no certainty— our country will have still fewer regular architectural critics at its major metropolitan news outlets. You can count them on one hand in fact: Blair Kamin at the Chicago Tribune, John King at the San Francisco Chronicle, Mark Lamster at the Dallas Morning News, Julie Iovine at the Wall Street Journal, and Inga Saffron at the Philadelphia Inquirer. Beyond these dailies, while New York Magazine’s Justin Davidson and Curbed’s Alexandra Lange offer regular critiques, the New York Times’ critic Michael Kimmelman is M.I.A., the New Yorker has never replaced Paul Goldberger, and at The Boston Globe, The Miami Herald, The Nation, The San Jose Mercury News, and Vanity Fair, Robert Campbell, Alastair Gordon, Michael Sorkin, Alan Hess and Goldberger—all talented voices, as are all the people listed above— haven’t appeared for at least half a year.  Papers like The Seattle Times, the Providence Journal, and the Washington Post never replaced their outgoing critics, USA Today has never had one, and half of the nation’s ten largest cities have no critic. It goes without saying that the L.A. Times absolutely must name a new full-time architecture critic, particularly at a time when the nation's second largest city is undergoing unprecedented transformation. Without a well-positioned critical voice, the city will lack a professional to alert them to and analyze these tumultuous built changes, or an advocate to critique decisions that, as they so often do in the developer-driven city, advance private interests over the public good. (Or, on the other end of the spectrum, marginalize design through discourse and work that most people can't relate to.) A critic can and must do much more, from awakening us to triumphs in sustainability and technology to suggesting ways to minimize sprawl or enhance public space. We don’t have to always agree with them, but he or she plays an essential role in instigating and informing a vital public discourse and to alerting us to the critical role design plays in our lives. The same goes for so many of the country’s cities, where nobody is minding the store, architecturally. The results speak for themselves: an overwhelming majority of architecture, both public and private, that’s ok, fine, serviceable. But not enough. It’s an architecture that, like most of our economy, excels for the very richest individuals, corporations and cultural institutions, but offers mediocrity to almost everyone else. Architecture should and must be for everyone, across the board, from housing to retail to schools to government buildings to civic parks. It must help propel our society, and our spirits, forward through inspiration and innovation, not just provide luxury, comfort, or status. Of course, architecture criticism isn’t limited to major commercial outlets. There are fantastic voices at many design periodicals, like this one. But critics at general interest publications still, even in this fractured media landscape, have the greatest ability to reach a wide audience, outside the bubbles of design or niche journalism, who are often preaching to the converted. While the news, sports, fashion, entertainment, and financial media promote and dissect the minutiae of their fields before millions, prompting debate, feedback, and change, the architecture and construction industry — a significant force in overall U.S. GDP—is largely on the fringe of the public conversation. (One example: If you watch March Madness this week, you’ll see more college basketball critics on one telecast than you’ll find countrywide speaking to architecture. Aline Saarinen was once NBC News’ full time architecture critic, but those days of elevated exposure are long gone.) Meanwhile, critics, as with so many players in the ailing journalism world, are increasingly being sidestepped for computerized engines like Rotten Tomatoes or for blogs that aggregate other work and churn out press releases. Or even worse, for abbreviated Facebook or Twitter posts. Algorithms and big data have their place in showing us where we are, but they can’t replace analysis, critique, understanding, common sense, and heart. Having Hawthorne— along with advocates like Deborah Weintraub at the L.A. Bureau of Engineering and Seleta Reynolds at the L.A. Department of Transportation— stationed at City Hall will be bring a keen eye and a valuable voice to the official conversation. But that conversation needs to extend to a much wider public, through experts outside the city payroll. As for his new job, Hawthorne must, as he suggests he will, make his work to improve the civic realm as public as possible, ensuring that design involves everyone, not just those in power. This is a fantastic opportunity for a gifted communicator to bring the public inside a generally opaque realm through his writing, speaking, and facility for public engagement. But he also needs a partner or two (preferably more) in the media, and as more chief design officers (hopefully) pop up around the country, so must they. Architecture is not art in a gallery. Along with landscape architecture and urban design, it is a public profession. It is for the public, not despite them. We need to empower more informed voices to keep it that way.
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Just be-COS

Why is mass-market fashion brand COS engaging the design world?
What does it say about London-based clothing brand COS that it is targeting architects and designers? Its price points ($99 to $225 for a men’s dress shirt) are relatively accessible when compared to many other boutique or more explicitly luxury-oriented brands. At the same time, within the mass-market fast-fashion sector, COS has a different approach than other stores like Uniqlo or H&M (where dress shirts are more in the $30 range), which can tell us something about the brand and its ethos. Working in this sector, where does COS find its niche? For COS, engagement has come through the design sphere; its target is the attendees of selective, high-end gatherings. In contrast, Uniqlo has partnered with MoMA, an institution that is trying harder everyday to cast as wide a net as possible, with celebrity-driven events like its controversial 2015 Bjork exhibition, or its apparent decision to get rid of permanent, discipline-specific galleries like architecture and design, in favor of cross-disciplinary shows with wider appeal. The Uniqlo-MoMA relationship includes the Japanese fashion brand’s sponsorship of free Fridays at the museum, as well as a line of collaborative T-shirts that are sold at the Fifth Avenue Uniqlo flagship store just a few doors down from MoMA in New York City. COS’s involvement ranges from sponsoring Park Nights at London’s Serpentine, a series of programs in the annual pavilion, to site-specific installations at global design events such as Design Miami/ and Milan Design Week. A recent string of projects has moved the brand away from earlier collaborations that were simpler and fairly vague—such as a 2014 project at Salone del Mobile with Japanese design studio Nendo—toward more interactive, experiential installations that activate space and merge into the architectural.
In November 2017, COS and New York-based Snarkitecture presented Loop, where visitors to Seoul’s Gana Art Center gallery could place a white glass marble on a light- blue metal track, where it would descend to the gallery floor below. Similarly, London designers Studio Swine brought their Salone del Mobile installation New Spring to Miami for Design Miami/. There, visitors could play with special bubbles that fell from an arched sculpture and were filled with one of five scented mists. Next up is a collaboration with the Palm Springs-based artist Phillip K. Smith III in Milan, for which details are still pending. While these installations might seem random, they make sense as an outreach and audience-building strategy for COS. Material and geometry are an important part of the COS brand, and in this sense, it shares DNA with modernism in architecture and design. “Ornament and Crime,” by Austrian architect Adolf Loos, is one of the most important treatises on the role of decoration after the industrial revolution. Personally, Loos preferred to wear very simple English wools suits. “When the English set it upon themselves to rule the world, they freed themselves from the imitation of silly costumes that they had been condemned to by other nations, and imposed the primeval dress around the globe,” he once said, albeit extremely problematically by today’s standards. But as a material analysis of post-national modernism, it can be applied to understanding his work.
In his architecture, such as the iconic Villa Müller and its rich marble and wood surfaces that layer over one another through adjacent spaces in a raumplan, Loos preferred simple geometries with rich materials that let the texture become the ornament—one of the major tenets of Miesian modernism and the International Style. Similarly, for COS Creative Director Karin Gustafsson, “We are interested in research such as materials or finishes. We also talk a lot about tactility.” But simplicity wasn’t just a stylistic choice for Loos. He also famously said in 1908 that “when I look back over past centuries and ask myself in which age I would prefer to have lived, my answer is, ‘in the present age.’” He believed that fashion and the reuse of older styles were an unnecessary infatuation with the past. Not surprisingly, he also was one of the pioneers of the modernist aesthetic, which abandoned ornament that he felt harkened back to a premodern sentimentality. To be thoroughly modern, one had to move beyond the past. For COS, modernity also comes from the timeless. “We are a fashion brand the focuses on well-made design and design that is made to last. It is timeless, it is about modernity,” Gustafsson said.
But Loos’s criticisms of older styles were also part of his commitment to the International project and his disdain for ornament, which he thought represented antiquated nationalism. As for COS, “We are a global brand,” COS CEO Marie Honda said. “We want to always represent this through our projects and activations.”
Recently, the brand released Creating Shapes, a book about fashion designer Usha Doshi, one of Gustafsson’s teachers at the Royal College of Art in London. “She is one of the links between the designers and pattern cutters,” Gustafsson told The Architect’s Newspaper. Here, we see another connection between the COS brand and the design world, where making and materials are in a constant feedback loop, and often designers become the connection between the world of material innovation and the world of form-making. Designers and architects alike are always in search of the newest things to form into a chair or the latest glass technique that might lead to a beautiful window.
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Plazas in Peril

Why are we wrecking our best modernist landscapes?
This is a feature article from Issue 8 of The Architect's Newspaper. If you’ve seen the movie Columbus, you’ll remember, among all the nerdy dialogue about modernist bank branches and James Polshek’s buildings, that scene where the two protagonists passionately discuss the Dan Kiley landscape outside the Eero Saarinen–designed Miller House. No? That’s because landscape architecture, though intrinsic to the experience of some of the best modern buildings, rarely gets the conversation it deserves. Despite being featured in all the film’s promo shots, the landscape by one of the last century’s best landscape architects got zero shout-outs. This snub, brought to light by the Cultural Landscape Foundation Executive Director Charles Birnbaum in a Huffington Post op-ed, reflects larger attitudes toward landscape architecture in the United States. It’s a long-held and frequently heard complaint inside the discipline that even successful landscapes by the very best designers are treated like scenery for architecture. While New Yorkers love Central Park, concrete plazas between modernist skyscrapers—even though they are essential to the experience of the buildings themselves—don’t elicit the same joy. Modern and late-modern landscapes in American cities are the least appreciated and least understood outdoor spaces, though they shape day-to-day experience in the contemporary American city more than leafy 19th-century destination parks. These modern spaces contrasted with—and challenged—the platonic ideal of the American urban park, established by Frederick Law Olmsted and largely unchanged since the 1860s. Urban renewal gave designers the opportunity to think up supersize projects (New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Boston’s Government Center, Pittsburgh’s Gateway Center, Philadelphia’s Penn Center) that afforded new ways of experiencing space and the city. Instead of offering the faux-countryside, 20th-century designers summoned concrete and right angles to create dynamic public spaces rooted in modernist functionalism. In the postwar years, as industry abandoned cities en masse and corporations moved white-collar workers to lush suburban campuses, cities and captains of industry commissioned the best landscape architects in practice to activate declining downtowns with plazas and parklets. In smaller urban projects like Heritage Park Plaza in Fort Worth, Texas, Fountain Place in Dallas, and Peavey Plaza in Minneapolis, designers like Lawrence Halprin, Kiley, and M. Paul Friedberg offered contemporary city experiences that both responded to and represented these profound changes in the American urban form. This not only applies to plazas from the boomer or Gen X era, but to Millennial landscapes, too. Just as chokers and platform sandals are cool again, designers are expressing renewed interest in successful 1990s postmodern landscapes, like Wagner Park or Pershing Square. Despite their significance, these parks are now threatened by thoughtless development. Unlike their forbearers—most of which were baked into city plans or carved from large swaths of open space—modernist landscapes like Freeway Park in Seattle shaped vestigial areas, harnessed from leftover space (like vest-pocket Paley Park in Manhattan), or repurposed former industrial land (Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco). In their comparatively tiny areas, designers deployed textural materials like concrete, gridded trees into mini urban forests, and masked obtrusive city sounds with water features. Despite their historic significance, these sites are constantly imperiled by bad maintenance, and the public antipathy that follows—“What’s with all that concrete, and where are all the flowers?” While it can take decades for an artist’s work to be appreciated, as Halprin noted, landscapes and the land on which they sit are often at the mercy of changing real estate interests and don’t have time to mature in the public perception. Though some, maybe most famously Boston’s Government Center, are wildly unsuccessful and are being (sensitively) adapted right now, many upgradeable landscapes whose potential could be teased out with thoughtful changes are instead being plowed over with heavy-handed schemes that dishonor the original design intent. Maybe because they are underappreciated, many postwar urban parks and plazas are threatened by market forces and dumb human decisions: out-of-place nearby development, revamps that turn parks into front lawns for speculative real estate, rising downtown land values, and, paradoxically, resilience measures that anticipate future coastal flooding. Compared to buildings, landscapes have fewer protections afforded to them. Since June, there’s one less: The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the demolition of a Sasaki fountain and plaza that anchored the base of Citicorp Center, a suave Hugh Stubbins–designed 1970s angle-topped tower on Lexington Avenue at 53rd Street. The architect would faint if he were around to see the flowerbeds proposed for the base of his building. Though developments like these can be jarring, the cities around these landscapes have changed substantially, too. After fleeing in the mid-20th century, people and prosperity have returned to cities. Though regional development is always uneven, there’s a persistent and widespread demand for walk-to-work neighborhoods with a healthy mix of day-into-night life. Downtown is hot. And tastes have changed, too. As megaprojects like Hudson Yards and smaller regional ones like SWA’s San Jacinto Plaza in El Paso, Texas, demonstrate, there’s a desire for more programmed space, with Ping-Pong tables and colorful, interactive public art. These landscapes reflect a turn from urban production to urban consumption; though the social life of these public spaces still includes people-watching and book-reading (or phone-staring), spaces are increasingly programmed around shopping, tourism, and scenery that’s good content for Instagram. Planners today promote infill housing and mixed-use everything, so visitors to these downtown parks are, increasingly, residents too. Outside of a few true classics that have never lost their luster, how do modernist landscapes fare against their newer predecessors? For this feature, we chose some of the notable urban landscapes of that era currently under redevelopment to assess where they are now, and how they’re being adapted—or not—for the future. Their designers never intended for their landscapes to be built and forgotten. There’s little to love in badly patched concrete, treeless planters, or dry fountains. We’re looking anew at famous landscapes by the best of the best and at those that are less familiar. Some honor the landscape architect’s original design intent, while others…don’t. Preservation isn’t about ossifying landscapes in some vintage ideal, but framing updates around the original design intent. Across the country, designers are looking at landscapes with consideration of their significance while adapting them for contemporary knowledge of ecology, accessibility, and programming. In a May 2017 talk at the National Capital Planning Commission in Washington, D.C., Elizabeth Meyer, professor of landscape architecture at the University of Virginia, explained why landscapes of the 1950s through the 1980s are significant today: They are a record of postwar modernization and urbanization, and they should be reimagined—not cast in amber—for the 21st century. “Adapting modernist landscapes does not require demolition and redesign,” Meyer said. Just like the designers who revamped the 19th-century city park in the 1970s, these projects will need careful updates for today’s users, made with intelligent materials, to facilitate life in the present while looking back to history, not to pickle the past but to energize urban life.
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Hollow Spines

Why is MVRDV’s Binhai library full of fake bookshelves?
After recently completing its eye-shaped library in Tianjin Binhai, China, Dutch design firm MVRDV is facing questions over the functionality of the shelves in its main atrium. After the building went viral for its visually stunning floor-to-ceiling shelving, patrons have reported that the books on display are either fake or printed onto the shelving itself. Commissioned by the Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute as part of a master plan to create a new cultural district for the city, the Tianjin Binhai Library went from design to completion in only three years. Layers of white, terraced bookshelves in the atrium wrap around a glowing orb that anchors the library and doubles as a centrally-located auditorium. Slotting the building into an existing 393,000-square-foot master plan by German architects GMP, MVRDV rolled the required auditorium into a multi-use cavity that leads to reading rooms, lounge areas, offices, meeting rooms and computer labs. The building itself is only 6 stories tall, so every programmatic element is accessible directly from the atrium. MVRDV acknowledged that their original plans for accessing the top bookshelves through upper-level rooms had to be scrapped because of the tight construction schedule, with “perforated aluminum plates printed to represent books” filling the inaccessible spaces. However, as Yahoo reported yesterday, visitors have been met with empty shelves and dangerously uneven stairs. Most of the real books on display for the opening were only put out for a photo shoot, and have been moved to traditional reading rooms deeper in the library. The library's deputy director, Liu Xiufeng, told Yahoo, "We can only use the hall for the purposes for which it has been approved, so we cannot use it as a place to put books." The decision was made by local authorities and against MVRDV’s wishes, according to spokeswoman Zhou Shuting. Originally promising to house 1.2 million books, the library has stalled out at 200,000, although it hopes to eventually reach that goal. Still, the project’s online popularity has bolstered the number of visitors that the library receives to 15,000 every weekend. The lack of books isn’t the Tianjin Binhai Library’s only problem, and less attentive tourists have fallen victim to the irregularly shaped stairs. "People trip a lot. Last week an old lady slipped and hit her head hard. There was blood," a guard told Yahoo.
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A Terrace Apart

wHY reveals new renderings for San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum
wHY has unveiled new renderings for a $90 million expansion and renovation to the City of San Francisco–owned Asian Art Museum (AAM). The renderings shed light on how designs for the expansion will integrate into the institution's existing Beaux Arts–era building. The renderings depict the museum’s new two-story addition, which consists of an art pavilion capped by a rooftop art terrace. The 13,000-square-foot space will fill in an existing loading dock area attached to the structure, which was originally designed in 1917 by George A. Kelham as the city’s main library. The 7,200-square-foot art terrace will contain large-scale art objects and will overlook San Francisco’s Hyde Street. The 6,800-square-foot continuous gallery pavilion located below is designed to allow for maximum flexibility in terms of the art that can be displayed by AAM, representing an attempt by the architects and curators to boost the number of temporary and traveling exhibitions that the museum can hold. The continuous gallery design will allow the museum to stage larger, more contemporary works of art. The addition will also include a new all-ages visual educational center that can accommodate up to 75 people at a time. Jay Xu, director and CEO of AAM said in a statement, “The goal of the transformation is to tell the vital story of Asian art, from prehistory to the present, as an evolving, globally relevant tradition.” Xu added, “Museum visitors will discover fresh connections between Asian art and the world around them, engaging with the topics and issues that inspire artists working today.” The project was approved earlier this year by the San Francisco Historic Preservation Commission under a different design that utilized criss-crossing aluminum bands as exterior cladding. In the most recent designs, that system has been replaced with rusticated, buff-colored terra-cotta panel cladding. According to the renderings, the updated cladding work complements the existing building’s material palette rather than contrasting with its finishes. AAM is also embarking on a gallery modernization project as part of the renovations, and will add new digital and interpretive features to displays surrounding 15 of the museum’s collected works. The new measures will allow for customizable visitor experiences that include multilingual didactic material and location-based immersive content delivered via tablet. The pavilion is currently under construction and is scheduled to open in 2019.
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Yuichiro Hori of Stellar Works Weighs In

Why China is absent from the design conversation
Despite its solid economic growth and sizable population (the largest in the world), China is noticeably absent from many conversations and events surrounding design. As numerous publications have pointed out, there was very little representation of China this past year at Milan Design Week and New York Design Week, among others.  To learn more, The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) managing editor Olivia Martin sat down with Yuichiro Hori of Stellar Works, a Shanghai-based design company, to talk about the current design climate in China. Although Hori is Japanese, he found Shanghai to be the best place to launch Stellar Works, a cross-cultural brand that has worked with designers such as Yabu Pushelberg, Space Copenhagen, Neri& Hu, and David Rockwell. Stellar Works has been praised as one of the few companies truly representing China (and Asia in general) in the design fair circuit. The Architect’s Newspaper: Tell me a bit about starting Stellar Works and how you ended up with a factory in Shanghai and a factory in France. Yuichiro Hori: My background is in furniture design, so I was designing my collection without my own factory and I was supposed to be making everything in Japan. The quality of Japanese manufacturing is very good, but the problem is that the factories aren’t very flexible. The Japanese manufacturing mentality is conservative and people hesitate to take on new challenges. This leads to long lead times and high costs. I had lots of ideas for my new collections, but it was difficult to get them done. When I went to China, I was surprised by the large-scale furniture factories with new machines and highly skilled workers—I was very impressed! I started asking some of the Chinese companies to work with me. Ultimately, I set up my own factory in Shanghai, which is an amazing environment: It is innovative and dynamic and international and I am able to find skilled workers easily. So, I moved to Shanghai for my factory there and also started working with the high-end French manufacturing furniture firm Laval to do the furniture’s hand detailing.   How does that combination of Japanese-Chinese-France work?  It’s very interesting. It’s a unique combination. Everything is different, even the way we work and the way we talk. Every day we have a new surprise—mostly positive surprises. We are learning about each other and learning from China. The French factory is smaller than the Shanghai factory and can only be open for 35 hours a week, whereas the Shanghai factory can be open for double that because the people are very young and very willing to work. Obviously, the two cultures are very different. We like to say that we are made in Shanghai rather than made in China. We enjoy the city here and the nice living environment. Typically, strong design movements come out of very strong economies and Shanghai has a strong economic background. As we get more and more design requests we can support the improvement of local manufacturers and challenge new designers.  Overall, we have noticed a lack of Chinese design at major furniture fairs, even as the Chinese market has grown. Do you agree with that or are we looking in the wrong places? I think China is still more hardware than software. China is the factory of the world; they are producing everything and exporting everything. So the challenge for China is that they are so focused on manufacturing design rather than creating it. I definitely don’t think that is bad, but it makes it more difficult for design development. But, China is booming and growing so sooner or later it is going to happen.
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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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Construction Starts 2018

wHY wins competition to redesign Edinburgh’s Ross Pavilion

The team led by New York and Los Angeles–based wHY was unanimously selected as the winner of the Ross Pavilion International Design Competition, as announced today by the Ross Development Trust and the City of Edinburgh Council.

There were 125 submissions for the £25 million project to reimagine the prominent West Princes Street Gardens and the Ross Pavilion in Edinburgh, Scotland, which led to a shortlist in March comprising of seven finalists. The competition brief asked teams to design a new pavilion that will host cultural arts programming, a visitor center with a cafe, and a subtle upgrade to the surrounding landscape.

Jurors found that wHY's proposal was simultaneously exciting while respectful of the historic setting. wHY's team also included Edinburgh-based design studio GRAS, Groves-Raines Architects, Arup, Studio Yann Kersalé, O Street, Stuco, Creative Concern, Noel Kingsbury, Atelier Ten, and Lawrence Barth.

wHY’s proposal takes influence from a butterfly's symmetry, organic form, and its connection between nature and humankind. The ‘butterfly’ Pavilion folds into the landscape, allowing the historic Edinburgh Castle to be the main focal point. There is also an undulating promenade with sculptural seating embedded into the earth. When all combined, the proposal emphasizes “human scale with moments of drama ... activating four layers of meaning within the Gardens: botanical, civic, commemorative and cultural,” according to the architects.

“Their proposal is a landscape scheme that is really more like an energy-field: using animation and drama as well as open vistas, they transform the Gardens and create an experience that is much freer and organic,” stated Malcolm Reading, the competition director, in the press release.

The other finalists were led by Adjaye Associates, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Flanagan Lawrence, Page \ Park Architects, West 8 Landscape Architects and BuroHappold Engineering, William Matthews Associates and Sou Fujimoto Architects, and Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter.

Construction is planned to start in 2018.