Search results for "morphosis"

Placeholder Alt Text

Now Playing at a Theater Near You: Five Los Angeles Landmarks
In November, the Los Angeles City Council named Armet & Davis' Johnie’s Coffee Shop, the restaurant at the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax, a historic cultural landmark. That’s a win for preservationists concerned with the legacy of the Googie style, the auto-oriented, steel-and-neon aesthetic that spawned diners and coffee shops across Southern California from the 1940s through the 1960s. It might also give a leg up to locals interested in seeing Johnie’s returned to its original use. Because Johnie’s Coffee Shop isn’t a coffee shop, and hasn’t been for over a decade. Since 2000, it’s been closed to the public and used exclusively for filming. The restaurant’s film credits, both before and after its conversion to a 24/7 theatrical set, include The Big Lebowski and Reservoir Dogs. But while the best use for a building like Johnie's might have a stronger community orientation, in the meantime its co-optation by the film industry isn't all bad.  When it takes over a building, the film industry buys time for preservationists and others hoping to breathe new life into an under-used landmark, Adrian Scott Fine, Director of Advocacy at the Los Angeles Conservancy explained.  "It's kind of an advantage that Los Angeles has over other cities," he said.  In addition, "People discover buildings through film," Scott said.  "Johnie's, some of the films it's been in, it's clearly the star of the film."  Approximately two years ago, the Los Angeles Conservancy honored Mad Men and its creator, Matthew Weiner, for the way in which it showcases midcentury modern architecture.  Weiner has been active in efforts to preserve Los Angeles landmarks, Fine said, and the show has featured preservation-themed plot lines, including the demolition of New York's Penn Station. This all got us thinking: what other LA architectural landmarks are now used primarily as stage sets? The answer, it turns out, is quite a few. From one of Julia Morgan’s earliest Hearst commissions to a 1958 Pereira & Luckman high-rise, here’s our list of Los Angeles masterworks currently in the hands of the film industry. Herald Examiner Building (Downtown, Broadway and 11th Street) Media magnate William Randolph Hearst commissioned 2014 AIA Gold Medal recipient Julia Morgan to design a new headquarters building for the Los Angeles Examiner newspaper in 1913, ten years after the paper’s founding. When the Herald Examiner, the Los Angeles Examiner’s successor, went under in 1989, the Hearst Corporation held on to the structure. In 2008, Brenda Levin (who cites Julia Morgan as her role model) was set to renovate the building—but then the economy tanked. Plans to rehabilitate the building, and build two Morphosis-designed residential towers adjacent to it, were put on indefinite hold. Today, the Herald Examiner building is used exclusively for filming. Scenes in The Usual Suspects, Dreamgirls, Spider-Man 3, Zoolander, Castle, Bones, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, plus music videos by Eminem, Shakira, and Christina Aguilera were shot there. Interior location sets include an apartment, bar, jail, and police station. Park Plaza Hotel (Westlake, 607 South Park View Street) Art Deco and Corporate Moderne architect Claud Beelman designed the Park Plaza Hotel as Elks Lodge No. 99 in 1925. During the 1932 Olympics, the building hosted several indoor swimming events. The Park Plaza, which is listed as a Los Angeles historic-cultural landmark, features four ballrooms: the Grand Ballroom, whose decorated ceiling beams were modeled after a palace in Florence; the Art Deco Terrace Room, formerly the Elks Lodge meeting room; the Bronze Ballroom, distinguished by its copper-gilded columns; and the smaller Gold Room, named for the gold-leaf detail on its Corinthian columns. Both indoor and outdoor spaces, including the Tuscan Patio, can be rented for filming, weddings, and other events. Greystone Mansion (Beverly Hills, 501 Doheny Road) The lavish Beverly Hills estate known as Greystone Mansion was designed by Gordon B. Kaufmann beginning in 1925 for Edward Laurence Doheny, Jr., son of Los Angeles’s original oil magnate. Kaufmann, who would go on to design both the Hoover Dam and the Los Angeles Times building, designed the fifty-five room mansion in the Tudor style. The estate gained notoriety soon after construction finished, when Doheny, Jr. was found dead of an apparent murder-suicide. The City of Beverly Hills purchased the property in 1955, and built a reservoir on the site. The grounds of the mansion are open to the public, while the interior is available for filming and events. Greystone Mansion is featured in movies including The Muppets, The Social Network, What Women Want, Air Force One, and Ghostbusters. Los Angeles Theatre (Downtown, Broadway and 6th Street) In the ultimate Hollywood irony, the Los Angeles Theatre now just plays one on TV. The film palace was designed in 1931 by S. Charles Lee, after the Fox Theatre in San Francisco. A popular theater designer, Lee’s other Los Angeles buildings include the Alex Theatre, the Saban Theatre (formerly the Fox Wilshire), the Star Theatre, and the Tower Theatre. The Los Angeles Theatre, which the Los Angeles Conservancy calls “[t]he most lavish . . . of Broadway’s great movie palaces,” features a six-story lobby with a Louis XIV-inspired sunburst motif, plus a glass-ceiling ballroom and a nursery decorated with a circus theme. The building is available for rent as a film location, and for special events, live stage performances, and film screenings.  "[The film industry] has certainly been instrumental in keeping the theaters going, where historic theaters are certainly one of the most difficult [building types] to adapt," Fine said.  "I'm not sure, if you look at other cities with historic theaters, if we hadn't had the filming industry doing things, we probably would have lost them." Los Angeles Center Studios (City West, 1501 W. Fifth Street) When the Los Angeles Center Studios’ original tower, designed by Pereira & Luckman, was completed in 1958, it was the tallest structure in downtown LA. Hexagonal in shape, the International Style building is entirely unornamented, except for the aluminum sunshades at the base of each window. By 1998 the building, which was originally designed as part of Union Oil’s headquarters, was threatened with demolition. A group of developers bought the complex and converted it into a full-service TV, film, and commercial production studio. The Pereira & Luckman tower is now dedicated to entertainment and creative office space.
Placeholder Alt Text

Morphosis' Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas.
Iwan Baan

A lot of the people who write for us, including some of our in-house editorial staff, have critical ideas about architecture. Here’s what they said about several different buildings in 2013.


Klyde Warren Park

Can a new highway-cap park unite Downtown Dallas in pedestrian-friendly planning?



Hunter's Point South Park

Alan G. Brake explores New York's newest waterfront park by Thomas Balsley Associates and Weiss/Manfredi.



Morphosis' Model Museum

Michael Webb explores the firm's first museum, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas.



Chipperfield's SLAM Dunk

Sophisticated expansion at the St. Louis Art Museum exhibits deferential monumentality.



Greeks and Geeks

Ennead's Bing Concert Hall helps build an arts district on Stanford's campus.



The Hepcat Seat

New performance space for the San Francisco Jazz Society achieves an elegant simplicity.



Kimbell Art Museum Piano Pavilion

Renzo Piano creates a subtle counterweight to Louis Kahn's masterwork in Fort Worth.



Day Court

Richard Meier's new federal courthouse gives downtown San Diego a new civic icon.



Metalsa Center

Brooks + Scarpa design an innovative manufacturing and research facility in Mexico.



Placeholder Alt Text

Morphosis Selected To Design New U.S. Embassy in Beirut
Three years after an unsuccessful bid for a chance to design the U.S. Embassy in London, Morphosis Architects has won a different Department of State project: a new Embassy for Beirut, Lebanon. The firm was selected from a shortlist that also included Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Mack Scogin Merrill Elam/AECOM. The new Embassy will be located near the current facilities in Awkar, roughly seven miles from Beirut. The Embassy moved away from the capital in 1983, following a suicide bomb attack that killed 49 Embassy staff. A second bombing in 1984 killed 11. Restrictions on American travel to Lebanon were not lifted until 1997, seven years after the official end of the Lebanese civil war. U.S. Department of State spokesperson Christine Foushee said that while the history of the Embassy in Beirut is unique, the security requirements of the new building will not differ significantly from other Embassy projects. Every major project built by the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations (OBO) must meet certain security standards in order to qualify for funding from Congress, she explained. The OBO put out a public call for submissions as part of its Excellence in Diplomatic Facilities initiative. “All of the designers that were short-listed, we feel, are very capable of incorporating [security] requirements,” Foushee said. “The real challenge, and the place where we were looking for innovation and creativity, was ensuring that the security requirements were met, but were integrated seamlessly into the design.” After seeing Morphosis’s proposal, the selection committee was confident that the firm would design a secure Embassy that “doesn’t look like a fortress,” she explained. The firm’s commitment to sustainability also impressed the OBO committee. According to Foushee, sustainable design, including planning for storm water and waste water management, is especially important in a project, like the new Embassy, that includes a housing component. Morphosis furthermore demonstrated an understanding of the OBO’s need for flexible interiors. “We have a need for sometimes accommodating a quick surge in staff,” Foushee said. An adaptable design will allow the Embassy to provide housing and office space for extra employees without additional construction. Finally, the design selection committee appreciated Morphosis’ experience working with technologies including 3D modeling. Integrating technology into the design process “is important for controlling costs, but also ensuring the quality of the project,” Foushee said. The design contract for the Beirut Embassy will be awarded during FY 2014, either before the new year or at the start of the 2014 calendar year, Foushee said. The construction contract will be awarded during FY 2016.
Placeholder Alt Text

Facades+ is Fast Approaching! Sign Up Today for Exclusive Educational Opportunities
icons_blog-3 Facades+ PERFORMANCE is only ten days away! Space is filling up fast, so don’t miss your chance to be part of this groundbreaking, two-day convergence of the industry’s leading innovators. Register today to take advantage of our exclusive educational opportunities, including a day-long symposium examining new perspectives on building skins and sustainable practices, and hands-on technical workshops in the latest design and analysis technologies that are revolutionizing contemporary architecture. And don’t forget about our in-depth, seminar-style dialog workshops, in which leading professionals from across the AEC industry sit down with you to discuss their most innovative recent projects. Space is limited, and some sessions are already SOLD OUT, so sign up today to reserve you seat! Join the movement that is changing the face of the built environment, only at Facades+ PERFORMANCE – Chicago, Oct. 24-25th! The conference kicks off next Thursday morning with a keynote address from founding principal of Behnisch Architekten, Stefan Behnisch, as he discusses the evolving role of building enclosures amidst ever-advancing technologies. The symposium will continue throughout the day as representatives from SOM, Thornton Tomasetti, Rojkind Arquitectos, and other leading firms will discuss the most pressing issues in sustainable, high-performance facades. Registered architects can earn 8 AIA LU/HSW credits. The following day, attendees can customize their schedules to best suit their professional goals. Sign up for two, half-day dialog workshops to join representatives from SHoP Construction, Gehry Technologies, Morphosis, and other industry leaders for intimate discussions of exciting, real-world case studies. Or register for our cutting-edge technology workshops, and join the experts for full-day, project-based instruction in the most relevant applications of breakthrough technologies, like environmental analysis with Grasshopper and Ladybug, and parametric facade design with Dynnamo for Revit—another exciting opportunity to score your AIA credits! For a complete schedule of events, check out the full Facades+ PERFORMANCE site.
Placeholder Alt Text

Cornell University’s Gates Hall
Courtesy Morphosis

A little more than ten years ago, Cornell University launched a Computing and Information Sciences (CIS) program. Its purpose is to meld technical and social intellectual approaches in a single department dedicated to developing innovative solutions to complicated problems. Administratively, CIS brought together three disparate but complementary disciplines: computer science, information science, and statistics. Physically, however, these fields continued to operate from separate facilities both spread throughout the Cornell Campus, as well as in rented office space in downtown Ithaca, New York. In order to create a truly cohesive culture for this otherwise balkanized program Cornell needed a new building designed for its particular needs.

Los Angeles–based Morphosis, which also has an office in New York City, delivered a 100,000-square-foot, five-story building that is currently completing construction on the corner of Campus and Hoy roads, directly adjacent to the Cornell Big Red’s baseball diamond. While in essence a simple, efficient, rectangular plan and elevation, the design features several elements—including a twisting stainless steel sun screen and a protruding arm of the upper floors hovering above the main entrance—that make it an unmistakable product of Morphosis as well as a suitable looking enclosure for a discipline forged by the realities of the digital age.

A perforated stainless steel screen system shades the glazed facade, mitigating heat gain and glare.
Courtesy YKK AP; Courtesy Morphosis

The protruding arm shelters the entrance, which is itself raised above street level and fronted by a sculptural display of staggered stone blocks known as the “rock pile.” The entry plaza is accessed by a ramp from Campus Road or via a staircase ascending from Hoy Field (the baseball diamond). Morphosis decided to cover the entrance with the upper floors in order to provide some shelter from Ithaca’s long and inclement winters. Indeed, throughout the project, public spaces that have been designed to promote interaction among the faculty and student body have been housed primarily inside, as opposed to in semi-enclosed or outdoor spaces, as they might be in California. The one exception is the south courtyard, which connects to the foyer of the building’s lecture hall in a subterranean level and provides breakout space for the department. This landscaped zone can be used as an informal study and gathering area during pleasant weather and also provides ramp access to Hoy Field.

For the most part, the building’s public spaces are housed in the full-height grand entrance atrium, which also houses the building’s central vertical circulation corridor. The design promotes the use of open stairways that provide views throughout the entire atrium. The idea is that this will increase the chances of the building’s users seeing and interacting with each other, as opposed to elevators, which the designers decided would limit such opportunities. In addition to circulation space, lounges (housed within the protruding arm) and conference rooms ring the atrium and the entire volume is naturally lit via a skylight.

Gates Hall encourages interaction between students and faculty through a stair-oriented vertical circulation atrium surrounded by public spaces.
Courtesy Morphosis

Locating the facility’s primary vertical circulation off the atrium at the western extremity of the building allowed the architects to maximize the rest of the plan for the main programmatic spaces: laboratories and offices. The labs, which occupy the perimeters of the floors, where they enjoy daylight and views, are not like scientific wet labs with rows of benches for beakers and plenty of safety plumbing and ventilation infrastructure. Nor are they like typical classrooms with rows of desks facing a blackboard. Rather they are more in the vein of a digital startup’s office. While there may not be any beanbags or ping pong tables, the rooms are large, open plan, and informal, outfitted with workstations—large tables—capable of accommodating several students at once working on a group project.

As cold as Ithaca may be for most of the year, when Morphosis clad the building in 35,000 square feet of YKK AP’s enerGfacade unitized glass-and-aluminum curtain wall, outfitted with 1 3/16-inch high-performance Viracon IGUs, its primary concern was mitigating heat gain and glare. In order to accomplish this, the firm reused a tactic that it had developed for its Cooper Union building: a perforated stainless steel panel system that shelters the glazing, supported on outrigger fins that attach to the exterior of the curtain wall. This stainless steel screen system clads floors two through four, creating a different expression on the exterior for these levels, what Morphosis calls “the floating bar.” To open up clear views to some of the key campus features that surround the building, the architects twisted the screen system in places, so that the panels bend from vertical to horizontal and back. Thanks to this feature of the design, students will now be able to take in whatever action may be happening on Hoy Field to the south, or gaze upon the impressive neo-gothic stone bulk of Barton Hall to the north.

Placeholder Alt Text

Join Leading Industry Professionals at Rem Koolhaas’ Chicago IIT Campus Center for Facades+PERFORMANCE!
Facades+ PERFORMANCE, presented by The Architect's Newspaper and Enclos, is the latest in our breakthrough series of conferences which seek to address the most pressing issues in the design, fabrication, and construction of cutting-edge, sustainable building enclosures. Join us in Chicago from October 24th-25th as leading professionals from across the AEC industries converge for two days of symposia, panels, and workshops to explore the latest strategies for delivering innovative facades amidst increasing standards of geometric complexity and environmental performance. Architects, engineers, developers, consultants, and other industry professionals are invited to take part in this exciting event. Be there as German architect Stefan Behnisch, founding partner of Behnisch Architekten, delivers his featured keynote address on the shifting role of the building skin in the wake of emerging technologies. Network with fellow professionals and join in the dialog with representatives from SOM, Gehry Technologies, Morphosis, SHoP, Thornton Tomasetti, and other industry-leading firms. From cocktails in Rem Koolhaas–designed IIT McCormick Tribune Campus Center, to hands-on workshops in the latest design technologies and intimate discussions of some of today's most exciting projects, this is one event you cannot afford to miss. Register today to join the revolution that is changing the face of our built environment. “With the challenges we face in the built environment, facades are becoming more and more an integral element of architectural design and engineering,” said Behnisch in a statement. “It is not only the visual appearance but also the performance of a building that depend on the facade.” With dozens of completed projects across Europe and the United States, Behnisch has made a name for himself through the dynamic forms, state-of-the-art facades, and the socially and environmentally sustainable focus of his work. As our featured keynote speaker, Behnisch will draw from his professional experience discuss the evolving functions of facades and the architect’s role within this changing landscape. “In the search for a more sustainable built environment, we, the architects have to assess the conditions under which our buildings have to be built and the conditions under which they have to perform. Whilst in the second half of the 20th century, the International Style allowed us to build similar buildings within many different climates, we cannot afford to do this anymore. …Today, we have to analyze the climatic, the cultural, the geopolitical, the social, the geographical and the topographical conditions of our potential buildings.” The seats are filling up fast, so reserve your space today to hear more from Behnisch and the rest of the exciting lineup of presenters at Facades+ PERFORMANCE! For the full schedule of events, check out the complete Facades+ site.
Placeholder Alt Text

Disney Hall and the Character of LA
Frank Gehry's Disney Music Hall in Los Angeles.
Tony Hoffarth / Flickr

In October Frank Gehry’s Disney Hall turns 10, and it’s an exciting anniversary. The dazzling building has become an international icon for the city, and for its revitalized downtown. It also remains a wonderful place to attend a concert, as most who have gone can attest. But in many ways it represents what’s still wrong with LA’s approach to building and planning.

While it pushes up against the sidewalk, the hall still stands relatively aloof from its surroundings on Grand Avenue, adding little besides its fantastic form to the streetscape, which ten years later still feels empty and alien. Its raised rear park is a hidden gem, but there’s no such luck in front of the building, where visitors are greeted with hot sun, glare, and a rather unfriendly grand stair. And the hall stands on a street that to this day does not welcome pedestrians. It lacks appropriate green space, shade, and small-scale activity needed to make this a true destination outside of concert time. Disney’s one street-side restaurant, Patina, is only for the very richest, via reservation, and there are few places (outside of the new Grand Park down the street) to entice lingering or street life nearby. Hopefully the addition of the Broad next door will add to the interest, but unless the area around it is addressed it will just become another empty monument.

In celebrating this anniversary we need to embrace the kind of architectural innovation that Disney Hall represents, but demand equal urban innovation around it. A building—no matter how stunning—is not just an object, and that’s something that always needs to be considered. And a street—even one lined with world-class museums—is not an object either.

There are many other buildings in Los Angeles with similar dichotomies between architectural splendor and urban misfortune. Morphosis’ Caltrans building down the street is a marvel, but its courtyard is often empty and the zone around it does not promote civic life. While a new master plan may change this, for now, though Union Station is one of the finest buildings in the country, it remains locked off by roads on all sides, like a moat. The Department of Water and Power, while one of my favorite buildings in the city, certainly doesn’t promote walking along its perimeter. It’s all about drive in and drive out.

In so many other cities modernist monuments stand aloof from their surroundings, standing tall amid windswept plazas and busy thoroughfares. New buildings can’t repeat these mistakes.

In contrast to Disney, Gehry’s Guggenheim Bilbao is more successful urbanistically because the plazas around it encourage thousands to linger, and the city has developed an urban experience around it through bridges, walkways, and cafes, that ask you to come for more than just the building. Renzo Piano’s buildings at LACMA are not his best work, but the urban spaces around them have been intelligently activated with a restaurant, a bar, a plaza, and large-scale art installations.

In the next decade we need to ensure that world-class buildings continue to go up. But also that world-class urban life goes up around them.

Placeholder Alt Text

Neil Meredith of Gehry Technolgies Presents The Burj Khalifa Ceiling at Facades+PERFORMANCE
October is upon us, which means that the Chicago edition of Facades+ PERFORMANCE is only a few weeks away! Be there as leading innovators from across the AEC industry converge on Chicago from October 24th and 25th at AN and Enclos' highly anticipated event to discuss the cutting-edge processes and technologies behind the facades of today’s most exciting built projects. Don't miss your chance to take part in our groundbreaking lineup of symposia, keynotes, and workshops, and work side-by-side with the design and construction visionaries who are redefining performance for the next generation of building envelopes. Our Early Bird special has been extended until Wednesday, so register today to save on this unbeatable opportunity! Join Neil Meredith of Gehry Technolgies as he examine the relationship between digital design methodologies and real-world construction and fabrication constraints in the complex, wooden ceiling of the Burj Khalifa’s lobby. With representatives from Thornton Tomasetti and Imperial Woodworking, Meredith will lead an intimate, interdisciplinary discussion of the innovative, on-site solutions that his team developed in order to deliver one of the most visible features of the world’s tallest building, so don’t miss out on this rare opportunity! With the deadline fast approaching, Mederith and his team at Gehry Technoligies worked with SOM, Imperial Woodworking, and Icon Integrated Construction to develop new systems, mid-construction, for the design and fabrication of the large, double-curved, wooden ceiling of the Burj Khalifa. Coordinating the work of architects, fabricators, and construction professionals through complex, shared parametric models, Meredith redesigned the ceiling system from the ground up using pre-fabricated, unitized panels to create its astounding, wooden forms. Join in the discussion to hear the rest of this dramatic AEC industry saga in the not-to-be-missed dialog workshop, “Designing for Wood Fabrication in Complex Geometries: The Burh Khalifa Ceiling,” and learn the technologies and techniques behind the creation of this historic project. After earning his Masters in Architecture from Univeristy of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Neil Meredith taught and ran the Digital Fabrication Lab at his alma mater. Meredith earned hands-on experience with cutting edge design technologies and real-world construction challenges with Detroit-based design/build firm M1, the European Ceramic Workcentere in Holland, façade consulting office Front, and as founding partner of design and fabrication studio Sheet. In 2007 Meredith joined up with Gehry Technologies, the go-to design technology and consulting company for the industry’s leading architects. Through the pioneering use of the latest digital tools and processes, Gehry Technolgies has worked with world-class, visionary architects, like Zaha Hadid, David Childs, Jean Nouvel, and of course Mr. Gehry himself, to triumph in the realization of the truly innovative forms of some of the era’s most ground-breaking projects. Register for Facades+ PERFORMANCE today to take part in this and other exciting workshops and symposia. Featuring representatives from SOM, Morphosis, Thornton Tomasetti, and other industry-leading firms, this is one event that is not to be missed. Check out the full Facades+ PERFORMANCE site for the schedule of events and book your tickets now to start the next chapter in your professional career!
Placeholder Alt Text

LA’s Natural History Museum Addition Not For The Birds
While it's received a warm reception, not everyone is excited about the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County's new Otis Booth Pavilion.  The problem with the 67-foot-tall glass cube, said geographer Travis Longcore, is that it presents a fatal obstacle to the birds that the museum's new gardens are meant to attract. As Longcore, who is an associate professor at USC as well as science director of The Urban Wildlands Group, explains, birds don’t understand architecture the way humans do. We avoid glass by attending to architectural cues, including doorways and lintels. Birds mistake glass for open air or the habitat it reflects, and often try to fly through it. The pavilion is part of a broader problem in Los Angeles, Longcore said.  The city is behind the times when it comes to bird-friendly architecture. San Francisco, by contrast, adopted standards for bird safety in 2011. Oakland added bird safety measures to its building permit requirements this June.  Proponents of bird-friendly legislation hope that changes to design practices will substantially reduce bird deaths from building collisions, which today are estimated at between 100 million and 1 billion annually. What does a bird-friendly building look like? According to the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), which assists local groups in drafting legislation, bird-friendly design focuses on two elements in particular: glass and artificial lighting. Limiting the amount of exposed glass or fronting glass with grilles, external shades, or balconies and balustrades can significantly reduce bird impacts. Shielding outdoor lighting and reducing the amount of artificial light escaping from the interior will attract fewer birds.  Many of these interventions do double duty as energy-saving measures, Christine Sheppard writes in a report for the ABC. LEED pilot credit 55 incentivizes the inclusion of bird-friendly features in green construction. Morphosis’s San Francisco Federal Building, completed in 2007, is an  example of how a focus on sustainability can manifest in bird-friendly design.  The narrow glass tower is encased in a metal sunscreen, with automated panels that open and close to regulate the temperature within the non-air-conditioned interior. On the lighting front, Morphosis’s lighting strategy allows for the automatic adjustment of interior artificial light according to natural sunlight levels, and directs interior lights to be turned off when workers are not present.
Placeholder Alt Text

Cory Brugger of Morphosis Redefines Performance at Facades+ Chicago
Anticipation is growing for AN and Enclos’ eagerly awaited Facades + PERFORMANCE conference, touching down in Chicago from October 24th to 25th. Leading innovators from the architecture, engineering, and construction industries will share their insights on the latest in cutting-edge facade technologies that are redefining what performance means for 21st Century architecture. Don’t miss your chance to join Cory Brugger, Director of Technology for Morphosis Architects, as he is joined by a group of industry specialists to lead an in-depth dialog workshop on expanding the idea of performance in the design, engineering, and fabrication of innovative building systems. "Traditionally, performance has been defined in singular terms," Brugger told AN, "but when it comes to delivering architecture, it can encompass everything from energy usage to fabrication technique. For us, performance is multifaceted and interdisciplinary. We have found that technology provides a platform for incorporating a variety of performance criteria in our design process, allowing us to create innovative architecture, like the Cornell NYC Tech project on Roosevelt Island." Set to open its doors in 2017, Morphosis’ winning design for the highly publicized Cornell Tech campus will be breaking ground on Roosevelt Island in the coming year. As part of this ambitious, 2.1 million square foot development, Brugger and his colleagues at Morphosis hope to earn LEED-Platinum certification by with their 150,000 square foot academic building by utilizing cutting-edge modeling techniques and an array of sustainable technologies. "In general, we are designing for extremely high EUI (energy use intensity) goals, which are being accomplished through the use of comprehensive models that integrate mechanical systems, day-lighting analysis, and architectural assemblies," said Brugger. "This effort is being supported by a 140,000+ square foot PV array that is integral to both the performance and aesthetics of the design. Other technologies include high performance facade systems, smart building technology, and geo-thermal wells." In conjunction with master-planners SOM and landscape architects James Corner Field Operations, Morphosis are working to create a new model for high-tech education in the information age by extending the definition of performance beyond traditional notions to incorporate far-sighted social and technological considerations. Reserve your space at Facades+ PERFORMANCE now to take part in an intimate discussion. Brugger will be joined my Paul Martin (Zahner), Tyler Goss (CASE), Matt Herman (Burro Happold), and Marty Doscher (Dassault Systèmes ) on Friday, October 25th at the Illinois Institute of Technology Main Campus in Chicago. Don’t forget to check out our other exciting key-notes, symposia, and workshops on the complete Facades+ PERFORMANCE schedule.
Placeholder Alt Text

State Department Shortlists Three Design Teams for U.S. Embassy in Lebanon
With the ongoing attacks on American interests in the past, the US Department of State's Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) has moved it’s government buildings from the heart of Beirut, to the calmer suburbs of the north of the Lebanese capital, specifically Awkar. OBO is currently evaluating a group of design teams to be commissioned for the design and construction of the new US embassy in Awkar, just 7 miles north of Beirut, and in close proximity to the existing embassy. Six firms participated in Stage 2 evaluations, and the list has now been shortened to three finalists. The three shortlisted teams are: Diller Scofidio + Renfro Mack Scogin Merrill Elam/AECOM Morphosis Architects The project site is approximately 43 acres, located on a steep hillside in a neighborhood of residential and light commercial uses. The new Embassy complex will include a chancery, representational housing, Marine residence, support offices and utility buildings, a parking structure, access pavilions, and a community center. OBO’s mission is to provide a safe, functional facility, while representing the best in American design and engineering.
Placeholder Alt Text

Advanced Uncertainty
Eric Owen Moss Architects, Samitaur, Los Angeles, 1996.
Tom Bonner

A New Sculpturalism: Contemporary Architecture from Southern California
The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
152 North Central Avenue
Los Angeles
Through September 16

A New Sculpturalism, the contested, once on, then off, then on again exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Geffen Contemporary annex, has been generating heated arguments and debate since its inception. First there was the problem with the “superficial” title. Then Frank Gehry backed out. Then MOCA and the show’s guest curator, Christopher Mount, parted ways. The whole thing was in free-fall until Thom Mayne’s handpicked team—and a lot of assistants and pedestal makers—stepped in to save it.

Isn’t all of this quite possibly the best pre-opening buzz a show could ever hope to have? Time will tell. But it seems like that fighting, the back and forth, and the rush to pull it out of disarray—not to mention pushing the opening date back two months—set the show up for a rough landing.

A New Sculpturalism is about the work and the lives that go into the architecture. The blood, sweat, and time. It is work that is never absolutely finished. To be finished would equal death for a profession that must continue to reinvent itself cycle after cycle.

Here we are at the end of the Great Recession, and architecture has somehow carried on. The architects have been busy! The work continues regardless of what the world thinks. Regardless of what the title is. All the work on display, from sketchbooks to models and even the three “pavilions” that dominate the entrance could be said to have been stopped rather than absolutely finished.

Neil M. Denari Architects, Alan-Voo House, Los Angeles, 2007 (left). Brooks + Scarpa Architects, Bergamot Artist Lofts, Santa Monica, California, 1999 (right).
Benny Chan; Marvin Rand

A case in point would be Michael Rotondi’s expressive sketchbooks, arrayed under glass and illuminated like rare manuscripts. They exhibit, in an explosive and precise hand, the font of his architecture. And just adjacent and on the wall are some playful, sinuous, and technologically fabulous pages from Neil Denari’s ruled sketchbooks. Yes. Architects can still draw.

Then there are all the islands of intricately wrought models—those LA models with the gesso and color influenced by early Morphosis et al. and leading up to cleaner, if somewhat soulless, 3D-printed distant cousins and laser-cut acrylic. This and so much more that you could pull out of an architecture office, like the huge curved glass panel prototype Hagy Belzberg has been working on, all sit under Alexis Rochas’ suspended multimedia installation, Flock of Walls where we see the architects themselves projected and hovering over their work.

Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects, Formosa 1140, West Hollywood, California, 2008.
Lawrence Anderson/ESTO

All the artifacts are tools, operations, the materialization of sometimes very personal thought-worlds that, once built, can either take flight in the minds of viewers or get crushed under the weight of critique. So it goes. It’s architecture; always misunderstood and struggling with representation. So critique away! The participants can take it. Otherwise they wouldn’t be doing this. We here in architecture land already get this. The question is will the public get it? Will they even show up?

As Eric Owen Moss asked as moderator of the panel discussion on the show that took place on June 18, “Who says what architecture is? Is the architect what the architect says he is? Is it what Christopher Hawthorne says it is?”

Regardless, there are a lot of aesthetics going on in the exhibition. There is even, one could argue, a lot of beauty. But don’t look for a simplistic story that goes from A to Z. Don’t look for the coherent narrative or syllogism. It’s the circus that came to town, pitched its big top, and brought out its trapeze artists, tightrope walkers, and fire-eaters. It’s something amazing and difficult. There are many lives and careers assembled in that room. But it has to be accepted in that spirit without the expectation that it all holds together in some perfect, totalizing vision. Just enter it like you might a strange yet somehow familiar city. Step behind the curtain and allow yourself to move from one object to the next. Outside of the fact that they coexist in the same institutional context, there is no absolute narrative. That being said, the materials are remarkably similar in spirit and exhibit creative forces that mutually resonate.

Greg Lynn FORM, in collaboration with Lookinglass Architecture & Design, Interior of Bloom House, Southern
California, 2012 (left). Belzberg Architects, Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, Los Angeles, 2010 (Center). Morphosis Architects, Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Caltech, Pasadena, California, 2008 (right).
Richard Powers; Iwan Baan; Roland Halbe

Sculpturalism has been critiqued for being a bunch of models and drawings in a big room. But so what? This is what happens when you put stuff in a museum. The show hardly needs any artifice or superstructure to prop it up. The work stands up.

If we didn’t already get this fact, Sculpturalism puts in high relief how LA architecture has as much to do with the ideas and struggles that emanate from the city’s practices as it does with what gets built, or not built as the case may be. It is not a bad thing to put more of this creative process under the public’s eye.

Installation view of Feathered Edge: A New Installation by Ball-Nogues Studio at MOCA Pacific Design Center, 2009.
Brian Forrest

So as the negative reviews pile up and the architects shout from the balconies, what we shouldn’t lose sight of is the fact that Sculpturalism is the most ecstatic tribal dance around the bonfire of contemporary Los Angeles architecture to have been staged in recent memory. Here the arguments are loud and the fire burns ever so brightly. Let it burn, ABI Billings Index. Let it burn, critics. Let it burn in office after office. Let it burn in the schools and across the city—even if mostly at residential scale.

If we absolutely have to have an alternative title because some of the participating architects are overly-sensitive about being misrepresented, it should be called “Busy Working, Not Hiding.” And when did architects become so sensitive anyway? Was the term “Sculptural” viewed as reductive rather than open and provocative? Open to interpretation? Since when did architects become so literal? No matter what is written or said, the basic truth of the work shows that this fire we call LA architecture burns brightly no matter what forms it may take. Moreover, now that the public can get a rare glimpse into the rarefied world we call contemporary architecture, hopefully it will no longer just be the architects getting emotional. The more opportunities for the public to understand and even misunderstand what architects do, the better.

In the words of participant Tom Wiscombe, “We don’t have a name anymore. What’s important for shows like this is something that resonates, something people can identify with.”