Search results for "Richard Meier"
Since its inception, Los Angeles has struggled to build a cultural presence to put it on par with the country’s other great cities. While it has largely succeeded from an institutional point of view, ushering in some of the country’s most revered art museums, it has not always done so on a building level,with architecture and urbanism that often falls flat.
The city’s three largest art institutions—LACMA, MOCA, and the Getty—have a checkered relationship with architecture and with the city. LACMA, which was built by compromise (architect William Pereira was chosen over Mies van der Rohe and Edward Durrell Stone),waslargely torn apart by a 1986 addition by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer. The museum is still trying to put the pieces together and recently commissioned Renzo Piano to design one of his less successful cultural projects, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, on the west side of its campus. (His Resnick Pavilion and adjacent restaurant and bar have been muchmore successful.) Museum director Michael Govan started talking with revered Swiss architect Peter Zumthorin 2009 to rethink the campus, but so far that effort has nothing to
show for itself.
The same year as LACMA’s addition, 1986, MOCA commissioned one of the world's great architects, Arato Isozaki, but got one of his worst buildings, a placeless composition that hardly distinguishes the museum on Grand Avenue. The Getty, meanwhile, got what was an architectural triumph by Richard Meier in 1997, but its hilltop location left it sequestered in a literal ivory tower high above the fray of the city.
Now, as the Metro (LA County’s transit agency) purple line subway extension comes down Wilshire Boulevard, LACMA is continuing this legacy, essentially looking the other way as a number of cultural institutions—including the A+D Architecture and Design Museum, Edward Cella Art and Architecture, Steve Turner Contemporary gallery, and arts group For Your Art—across the street get bulldozed in favor of a subway construction staging ground and a new station. (Disclosure: I am a boardmember of the A+D Museum.)
Originally the stop, which is now set for the very site of the A+D Museum (conceptual renderings were just released), was to emerge from LACMA’s May Company building, the perfect solution, since it’s on the same side of the street as the area’s biggest draw, LACMA. But since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) agreed to build its new museum inside the landmark building the plan was scrapped, a move that METRO seemed all too happy to accommodate. Other alternatives, including several
feasible sites west of Fairfax (among them the parking lot of the unused Johnie’s diner and the site of a 99 cent store), were thrown out as well.
According to a lengthy report by the Miracle Mile Residents Association, the small cultural organizations remain the targets largely because of LACMA’s real estate interests in the area. The report positsthat the value of a parcel LACMA owns just east of this new portal (which it is set to develop with METRO) will skyrocket when a station is built next to it. Of course the decision to tear down the buildings on what is, for now, LA’s museum row, came as a result of many other factors, including proximity to other forms of transit, underground infrastructure, and so on. But at the end of the day the decision reveals an obvious set of priorities. LACMA, the Peterson Automotive Museum, and the future AMPAS museum are left standing, and greatly enhanced by the new subway, while several smaller arts institutions will soon be gone. The big thrive and the small are left to fend for themselves. Real estate interests, especially those of larger cultural institutions, and political maneuvering shouldn’t trump the city’s cultural life.
Architecturally many people assume nothing happened on Long Island, New York, between the Gold Coast era of the North Shore—the Gatsbyesque mansions that strung the coast of Long Island Sound—and its current state of sprawl: the endless suburb, served by the Long Island Expressway and the Long Island Railroad, shading up or down to white or blue collar, ranging in building style from tract mediocre to pretentious pastiche. There were the pretty, expensive parts—the beach communities on the South Fork, like the Hamptons—where you found architectural experimentation, or at least architects building for themselves, but the rest of Long Island was a punchline delivered in a commuter-train conductor’s voice: “Freeport, Merrick, Bellmore, Wantagh, Massapequa, Massapequa Park!”
Long Island Modernism 1930–1980, by Caroline Rob Zaleski, has arrived to prove that notion impressively wrong. The 25 architects under discussion are not names you would readily associate with Long Island—Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Some of the names, like William Lescaze, Wallace Harrison, and Edward Durell Stone are only slightly less prominent. And some, like Jane Yu and A. Lawrence Kocher, deserve more attention.
The book is a result of a field study of modern buildings being conducted for the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities. Zaleski, an architectural preservationist and historian, is the director of that survey and an important advocate for Long Island’s modernist heritage.
Ezra Stoller / ESTO
Many of the projects detailed here were responses to the two great showcases of modern ideas in Flushing Meadows, Queens: the World’s Fair of 1939 with its theme of the “World of Tomorrow” and the World’s Fair of 1964 built in reflection of our nascent Space Age.
The A. Conger Goodyear House, designed in 1939 by Edward Durell Stone, is an important transition piece from the European mansion mentality of the North Shore, “Newport on the Sound,” to European modernism. (Zaleski fought successfully to save it from demolition in 2002.) Goodyear, heir to a timber and railroad fortune, left his wife and four children back in Buffalo in 1938, moved to New York, and made his entrance into North Shore society by buying 110 acres on the highest hill in Old Westbury and putting a generously fenestrated, white brick house there. An art collector, patron of the avant-garde, and self-declared Futurist, Goodyear was also the first president of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His architect, Stone, making his entrance into modernism, had lately worked on the art deco-fication of the Waldorf Astoria, and Radio City Music Hall.
Stone had a long affluent run on Long Island, which paralleled his public career as the architect of note on commissions like embassies and performing arts centers. His Lloyd Harbor house for Gabriele Lagerwall looks like a literal cross between his embassy in New Delhi and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Zaleski rises to the occasion, as architectural writers so often don’t, when pressed into play to give social context to builders and their buildings. The book is a fascinating history as well as field study. Gabriele Lagerwall, later to become “the Baroness,” is, in Zaleski’s description, “the sometime companion of numerous very rich men.” (And you thought people moved to Long Island because the schools were good.) In 1961, she buys 32 acres from the Colgates, and hires Stone, himself a member of her own international set, to design the perfect house: “a gilded getaway for a high-toned, insouciant crowd.” He does. The Villa Rielle, as it is known, has a central atrium with a large reflecting pool, where Miss Lagerwall entertains guests during the cocktail hour by taking a swim with them, the Holly Golightly of Long Island.
Smaller, adventurous architectural outings are also important chapters of their own. There are several early attempts at prefabricated homes included: Albert Frey and A. Lawrence Kocher's Aluminaire House, which Wallace Harrison and his wife Ellen purchased to live in while they put up their own house in Huntington in 1932. Frey had worked in Le Corbusier’s studio; Kocher was the managing editor of Architectural Record. The Aluminaire House, sleek on paper, was difficult to construct, leaked, and the Harrisons, after eight years in it, dubbed it the “Tin House,” for its quintessential ramshackle quality. Kocher, personally, was interested in starting an “American Bauhaus,” on Long Island, and corresponded pleadingly with Gropius about it, introducing him to deans stateside until he inadvertently landed him a job at Harvard, not Columbia. The Fort Salonga Colony, 20 acres Kocher purchased near Northport, became the site for his own weekend house, the Canvas Weekend House (this time, cotton duck for walls, not aluminum), and in lieu of a school, he talked three other families into purchasing lots and putting up “experimental” houses. The Canvas House, one room on stilts, got lots of press understandably—it looked like a toy-train version of the Villa Savoye—but without electricity, it was basically a modernist lean-to.
David L. Leavitt’s Box Kite House was a more successful adventure. Designed for an advertising executive, Bill Miller, on Fire Island in 1956, Leavitt (who was the architect on Russel and Mary Wright’s Dragon Rock; the self-promoting Wrights cut him out of the credits as the years went by) engineered a stacked structure of unfolding balconies which doubled as protective shutters off-season and Mylar walls braced in a lattice of outrigger cables that made it look like a box kite. The defiant little house—which looked like it might take off—stood bravely until it burned down from a stove fire.
Ezra Stoller / ESTO and Paul Warchol Photography
And Jane Yu’s house for Bert and Phyllis Geller III in Lawrence, designed in 1978, was not only a model of innovation, but a telling architectural-world morality tale. The Gellers had already built two houses on Long Island and a showroom for their shoe company in Manhattan with Marcel Breuer. Yu, who worked in Breuer’s office as an interior designer, oversaw the showroom. When the Gellers decided they needed a new house, something smaller as they were closing in on retirement, they asked Yu, not the Great Man, to give them something simple, and quickly. Perhaps the Gellers suspected, like many who have worked with famous architects, that Breuer couldn’t do simple and quick.
Yu came up with an elegant off-the-rack house: stock cedar siding, concrete blocks to suggest passages of stonework, factory-made windows. And she specified solar panels on the roof for the hot-water heater.
It is a very sweet, economical, livable design. Yu got no attention for it. The Gellers encouraged her to keep quiet about it, so as not to offend Breuer. When the mayor of Lawrence admired the house and suggested she submit it for an AIA Long Island award, Herbert Beckhard, who was responsible for the house commissions in Breuer’s office, and who was a member of the AIA award committee, refused to consider it.
Zalenski has acknowledged that her book is a kind of sequel to Long Island Country Houses and eir Architects, 1860–1940 by Robert B. Mackay, Anthony Baker, Carol A. Traynor, and Brendan Gill. Mackay is the director of the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, which sponsored Zalenski’s initial study.
One doubts there will be a sequel to Zalenski’s book. Most of Long Island—if not the rest of suburban America—has become a postmodern mash-up now. We could easily have been learning from Long Island, as well as Las Vegas, when modernism failed at home. Zalenski’s examples are like ruins in a park. It’s sad, but heartening, to see them restored to freshness in these pages.
Laurie Olin, recent winner of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Gold Medal, has worked on transforming public spaces around the world with Frank Gehry, Richard Meier, Peter Eisenman, Cesar Pelli, and Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, among many others. He sat down with AN West Coast editor Sam Lubell to discuss his award, his training as an architect, and his thoughts about landscape urbanism and the state of public space on the West Coast.
The Architect’s Newspaper: Describe the role of landscape architects in the development of cities.
Laurie Olin: The great anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss said cities aren’t an architectural problem, they’re a cultural landscape. That might be troubling to some architects. But the aggregate is that this is a problem beyond the individual single project or single structure.
Most people still think of architecture as being about a building. In the mid-20th century we divided everything up into a bunch of different disciplines. Most architects had, through their training, the limitation of being building-centric. So my generation, a bunch of us, had to go find a way to work on something that intrigued us more, which was the ensemble. We didn’t stop liking architecture; we started liking other problems and other pursuits. And so we had to take on systems. Systems aren’t just transportation and social systems, but they’re also natural systems. And, it turned out, for most of my career, landscape architecture has been the only discipline at the table that represents the natural world.
In the last decade or so, many architects have become deeply engaged in ecology and energy and systems—the way landscape architects have always been, which is good and healthy and proper. And so we now realize cities aren’t just architecture. For a long time people tried to solve something called urban design. Some people tried to make urban design a discipline. We in landscape architecture would argue that urban design isn’t a discipline, it’s an activity that lots of disciplines do together. It’s ensemble work. None of us can control it and none of us can do it all. So if you have a real ecological point of view, then you can do architecture, you can do landscape architecture, you can do planning. But you can’t do it all in your office.
It’s one of the things we do when we play together well. I find that it’s good for me to work with other people who know more than I do about something else. Together we can do something better than we can do by ourselves.
And you think architects are more open to that than they were ten years ago?
All the guys I work with, yes. They’re interested in what I do, but they just can’t do it all themselves. I don’t want to try to do a lot of the stuff that they’re doing. And I worked in architecture and I was pretty good.
You’re trained as an architect?
I am. I have a BArch from the University of Washington. Then I worked for some of the top architects in Seattle and then moved on to Ed Barnes’ office in New York. But I wandered off. It wasn’t that I was unhappy. It was that I was more in love with something else.
There are a lot of people from my generation who came to landscape architecture from architecture because it was seeing the limit of one’s field and seeing the potential of another. It was like when Paul Klee decided not to be a musician when he was a student in Germany. It was because he knew his limitations as a musician and he didn’t know what his limits were in art.
It seems like a huge advantage to have that knowledge. You can transform cities.
Cities are very natural formations. And they’re very organic. We can help direct the change. But no one person, no one architect, no one landscape architect, no one planner, no one agency or mayor directs it all. They can get a chunk for a period. It’s like a forest. It’s the big bundle of problems for our time. We’re becoming more urbanized. Around the world, cities are growing everywhere. We like to be together. We need to be together. So learning how to make cities rich and fecund and great places to be so we’re comfortable and healthy and happy is the biggest problem we face. The only way we’ll not go crazy is to build beautiful, rich, life-enhancing cities. It’s challenging to convince developers and officials that building those spaces that are not buildings are equally important if not more important for cities.
It’s what we have in common. The majority of open spaces in cities are streets. That means the street system is too important to leave to transportation engineers. They’re way too important to leave to just moving traffic. So I’m interested in cities because they are the design problem for a habitable planet.
You are working on projects all over the world.
Yes, but there are large chunks of the world we’re not in and shouldn’t be in. I think we need to work in places where we can be effective and we actually understand the culture somewhat. A lot. We need to be able to be effective and not just some colonial exploiter that’s mining the place. I think we need to be working on a model that’s a better model than the discredited models of our own culture. At the moment I have a couple of projects in France and one in London and one in Toronto and a few on the West Coast.
What about LA? It is the most park-poor city in the country right now.
For a long time with West Coast cities, at the end of the street there was the country, there was the ocean, and the mountains. They didn’t pay attention to what they were doing with their cities because they could get out of them so easily. But as they became too big, then the mess they had made became obvious. So now it’s very hard to go back and rip up old parts and do good public and civic space at the right scale.
In LA, I always think of the title of Roger Trancik’s book, Finding Lost Space. I love that phrase. Because there’s so much lost space in cities. A lot of our projects have been finding those and transforming them.
What’s a good example?
Columbus Circle in New York City. There never was a social space there until we said it could be done. People thought we were nuts. Who would go out in the middle of a five-way intersection with Central Park right next to it? Well, you go there and it’s full of people. It’s a place that never existed. You can make these places that people need if you make them right. We just did a little park in Portland, Oregon, that’s full of people.
But one of the problems in Los Angeles is there’s this wonderful tradition of lush private space and absolutely squalid public space. Private splendor, public squalor. There are a lot of rich people in Los Angeles and a lot of money sloshing around that’s never been very civic. I can’t think of another city that has so much money yet has so few patrons of the public realm and of public art. I’m astonished. The movie industry. Those people spend vast fortunes on themselves on silly stuff, and yet they could do it so easily. I’ve always been troubled by that aspect of Los Angeles.
When Ricardo Legorretta and I did Pershing Square, which everybody hates now, we gambled on the fact that Anglos would come down from the towers and Hispanics would come over, and of course they haven’t. The citizens group that was the client collapsed and went away. One of the biggest disappointments of my life was our thinking that we knew what we were doing in that situation and we didn’t.
Did you argue with Legorretta over adding more green to Pershing Square?
I didn’t argue with him, but I should have. We were doing a place in the sun. It was heavily influenced by Latin America. But nobody wanted to come.
People don’t use parks in downtown LA. If there was a good one I think they would. They’re starting to move back. I think the LA River plan, if that happens, will help. I think the notion of some of the little infill spaces, making nice spaces next to where people are, is very important. If one were to build a few pieces of really superb public landscape, people would come. But they have to be put in a good place.
Can you talk about your new office in LA?
Yes, we have a new office in LA. We’re in Hollywood. So after all these years of resisting the West Coast we’re finally here. We have a little park called Plummer Park under construction now in West Hollywood. We have Constellation Park in Century City. We’re also working on a master plan for the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden.
We’ve worked with a lot of firms in LA. We worked with Richard Meier on the Getty. We work with Johnson Fain and Rios Clementi Hale. I work with Frank Gehry all the time. I love Frank. We’ve done three plans for Grand Avenue and they’ve all failed miserably. Right now I’m working with him on a new house. He had one going in Venice for a while. He dropped that but now he’s doing a house in Santa Monica.
Los Angeles is one of the great world cities. Everybody knows it. And it has money and it has energy. It needs some direction, something physical. The transience of things gets on your nerves.
It seems like the merger of landscape and architecture is a fascinating new direction, especially when you have less open space.
I see that a lot of projects that are like what we’ve tried to do are now getting done. Even in America. When I was working with ZGF on a conference center in Salt Lake City, it’s an enormous space. The roof is six acres. Four acres of which is an alpine meadow, and the sides are like a canyon with native vegetation. It’s beautiful. We’ve been working on structures for over 30 years, but now it’s the new normal.
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Architects and fabricators discuss creating facades in the digital ageYesterday The Architect’s Newspaper and the Ornamental Metal Institute of New York presented their first-ever educational conference at McGraw-Hill Auditorium in New York. More than 250 professionals and students attended the event, themed Metals in Construction, which addressed facade design in an age when skilled collaboration between architects, consultants, and fabricators can more than ever affect a building’s performance and longevity. The day began with a presentation by Bill Zahner, who spoke of his company's forward-looking work with metal facades, then moved into discussions covering everything from new retrofit strategies to the latest projects from Zaha Hadid Architects with the firm's director, Patrik Schumacher. The day also included the official announcement of a new international alliance of academics, professional designers, hardware and software developers and digital fabricators. Born out of a regional organization known as Tex-Fab, the group will be called Digital Fabrication Alliance and offered a look at the kind of minds it will be bringing together at future events with a panel discussion with Phillip Anzalone, Anna Dyson, and Erik Verboon. Read on for AN's coverage of the day's events: 6:00PM Patrik Schumacher of Zaha Hadid Architects wrapped up the conference with a lush panorama of photos from the firm's portfolio. It was a real world anecdote of the behind the scenes BIM programing that was on display throughout the day. Schumacher set the tone by telling the crowd, "It's important that the expressed structure gives the whole project credibility." Before BIM, Schumacher recalled the early days of the firm of exploiting the "physics of the hand movement" through a "huge array of french curves," many custom made so as to satiate Zaha's desire for a "literal translation of the hand sketch." Before BIM, Schumacher recalled the early days of the firm of exploiting the "physics of the hand movement" through a "huge array of french curves," many custom made so as to satiate Zaha's desire for a "literal translation of the hand sketch." From the London Olympic's Aquatic Center to under-construction images of the Rabat Grand Theater in Morocco, the slideshow idealized the Zaha aesthetic where, in Schumacher's words, "you draw people into a tight curve to release them into a wider curve." But Schumacher said that the raison d'être of parametricism is to fight the Fordism of Modernism--and not just in the environment, but in society. "That era produced a handful of standards, a unified consumption standard: same car, same house, with everyone isolated in particular cells with everybody ticking away like little beavers," he said. He added that such production created zones separating society, which is virtually impossible in today's interconnected world where "hyper dense" communication is integral to the profession instead of "industrial clusters." "That need to transform, that's our repertoire," he said. "Architecture is where association and connections can make a difference." 3:15PM Anna Dyson, of the Center for Architecture Science and Technology, spoke about the latest developments in the HeliOptix solar panels, glass panels that harvest energy while allowing light to flood into a building's interior. Part of the presentation included a more detailed rendering HeliOptix wall intended for the SHoP-designed FIT building planned for an empty parking lot on 26th Street. After the lecture, Dyson confirmed that FIT is still hoping to close a $52 million gap left after City backed away from its share of the $148 million proposal. The solar panels have continued to develop over the past twelve years to about 83 percent efficiency for heat and power production--compared to 14 to 25 percent for a standard panels. We have the last three generations to show you here, but for proprietary reasons we can't show the last iteration (but check it out at the upcoming Smartgeometry workshop in Troy, NY where it'll debut next). 2:20 PM Representing what he called "the largest real estate organization in the world," GSA's Dirk Meyer said that despite the organization's size, it's not what it used to be. The GSA had 70,000 employees in 1970 and now employs 12,600, of which the Public Building Services represent a mere 6,000. As such, the Feds literally must do more with less. But despite the cuts, the Design Excellence program keeps design standards high. "I walk into a Richard Meier courthouse in Islip, and I am in awe," he said. "It makes me proud to be a federal employee." When asked by AN's Julie Iovine whether he's concerned if a shift in government policy might further whittle away at the program, Meyer diplomatically demurred, "That question's way beyond my pay grade." Nevertheless, he looked to the future, particularly when it comes to facades. While acknowledging that the conference was metal-focused, he noted that glass facades remain a big concern at GSA. He quoted Walterloo University's John Straube who said "No glazed system that is presently available can come close to the level of performance delivered by a simple and relatively opaque wall system." Meyer said that glass mitigation concerns differ greatly for federal buildings--what's needed to sustain impact from a hurricane is different from sustaining impact of a blast. Consultants are hired for blast mitigation, water mitigation, bird mitigation… With his eight-year-old in the audience, Meyer indicated it might not be a bad idea for the next generation to look into becoming glass consultants. 12:45PM SHoP's Jonathan Mallie presented a detailed PowerPoint of the Barclays Center that was riveting not just for the building's millions of rivets, but for an iPhone app that allows the client to check in on placement progress of the building's 12,000 weathered metal panels. Allowing such client attention to detail may or may not always be a good thing, said Mallie. The firm is now reexamining how transparent the process should be in order to avoid unnecessary micro management. 11:00 AM ENCLOS's Mic Patterson delivered a presentation covering the current state of retrofitting affairs. While the company's work deals with some masterpieces of Modernism, Patterson expressed serious concern about the sustainability of new designs as well. Regarding older buildings, Patterson noted that there's no better place to talk about it than the conference's locale, at the McGraw-Hill building in Rockefeller Center. "Air infiltration is a huge problem, these buildings never did perform well to start with," he said. But Patterson's criticism wasn't limited to the past. He noted that while new facade designs have kept up with digital technology, they're often not designed to be retrofitted. He encouraged architects and manufacturers to take future retrofits into consideration in the design. He added that while today's architect has a million types of glass to choose from, most new glass is not recyclable. The glass may be designed to help attain LEED certification, but ultimately it doesn't make the sustainability cut if it ends up in a landfill. 10:00 AM Collaboration, the Facades and Digital Fabrication Conference sponsored by The Architect's Newspaper and the Ornamental Metal Institute of New York, got off to an intriguing start this morning with Bill Zahner's presentation of an otherworldly facade produced for the Sisters of St. Theresa in Kansas City. While Zahner showed couture projects from Gehry and Mayne, it was the humble lace-inspired facade that got the tears. As the nuns' Italian history was steeped in lace-making, the direct riff created for the client making them weep. "'We think you were sent by God,'" Zahner recalled them saying. "And I kept thinking, 'How am I gonna put that on my resume?'" On a more serious note, Zahner talked about the precision inherent in using negative patterns on metallic facades. "When you talk about selling voids here we're really selling nothing," he said of the of cutout patterns. But where the seams of the patterned panels meet provides the greatest challenge. "If you don't have it precisely located, it really ruins the design," he said. 8:00 AM The AN editorial team is on hand for the Collaboration: Facades and Digital Fabrication conference, now in progress at the McGraw-Hill Conference Center in Manhattan. We'll be live blogging and tweeting @archpaper with hashtag #facadeconference throughout the day, so check back and follow us on twitter for updates!