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Andy Sedgwick

Andy Sedgwick is a director of Arup’s building engineering team with a specialty in designing natural lighting schemes for art spaces. He spoke to AN about recent trends in daylighting galleries, the technologies that are enabling this movement, and how his team works with architects.

 

AN: It seems that there is a trend in contemporary museum design to bring more and more daylight into gallery spaces. Do you think this is true and, if so, why do you think it is a growing tendency?

Andy Sedgwick: In the mid 20th century there were two contrasting approaches. To be overly black and white about it, there was a Northern European approach that used daylight to create a well-lit room, a place where light fell more or less evenly on all the walls, creating a setting to show art in a neutral way. On the other end of the spectrum was the North American approach, where, in the 1940s and 50s, following the great Beaux Arts Museums that included natural light, there was a tendency to go black box for museum space, partly to allow the curators to create much more mediated viewing experiences. When you just have electric light you can create a story, you can emphasize things or deemphasize others using light. There was also a feeling that using electric light was safer and would expose the works of art to less damage, or the threat of damage, from natural light. I think we’ve seen things swing the other way for a number of reasons. One is a lot of European architects who have found favor for large cultural projects in North America—Piano, Chipperfield, Herzog & de Meuron, and others—they have brought that Northern European approach to gallery design. Another part of it is that when you’re investing in a major new cultural building, you want to see it, not just from outside, but on the inside too. Using daylight in an ambient way means you can see the rooms and see the architecture. It’s a more enriching experience for those visiting as well as those funding the spaces. You get more bang for your buck. I’d like to think that some of it has to do with understanding daylight better, how to handle UV radiation and quantify exposure of art to light. Daylight is a complex science and such a variable phenomenon—the sun moves in sky, clouds move under sun, it varies where in the world you are. We can be very responsible with daylight now. Finally, there is an imperative on many projects now to work toward more sustainable design solutions. Historically, tungsten halogen or incandescent light sources have been used every operating hour of the day to light gallery spaces. They’re energy intensive and bring a lot of heat that has to be taken out with AC. A museum with a good daylighting design can run without electric light for much of the year.

 

Do you find that clients and architects are more receptive to daylighting galleries these days?

Generally I find that to be the case. Sometimes the role of daylight is still an open question. There are still some institutions who, perhaps because they require complete flexibility, may need designs that are very safe in terms of light. Sometimes that may be designed as a daylit gallery with ways of blacking out the light. I find it’s helpful to take clients on a tour of recent and contemporary projects to get informed about the value and the risks of natural light. My experience is that, after those tours, everyone had fallen in love with the daylit space.

 

Have there been recent technical innovations that have made it easier to use daylight in gallery spaces?

There are now a lot of laminates that can go into a glazing system that do a very effective job of filtering out UV radiation without coloring the light. Twenty years ago it was a real battle to find something that met the sweet spot. Now there’s a range of products that have a high light transmission while reflecting heat back out. Natural light can be very energy efficient if it doesn’t bring heat with it.

 

When does your team typically get involved in a project?

We’re normally in right at the beginning because there are discussions to be had around things like whether the gallery spaces need special flexibility, whether they have partition walls, or a fixed lot of rooms that are there forever. It changes very much the approach to designing the roof, and there are many modern systems that need integrating into the roof. The AC needs to work in a compatible way with the lighting, as do the sprinklers and so on. These things need to be worked on together.

 

What other daylit art spaces does Arup have in the pipeline?

There are three or four in North America. The Broad Museum in Los Angeles with DS+R, which is well on in construction. It has a very extensive top lit third floor gallery space, which is fully flexible. There’s the Harvard Art Museum with Piano that is close to completion. It has a lot of daylit galleries, but also a major conservation space on the top floor that is the pièce de résistance. We’re also working on the Whitney with Piano in New York. Here in Europe we have the second phase of the Tate Modern with Herzog & de Meuron, which is half way through construction now. We have a private museum in Holland, The Caldic Museum, for a very fine collection of late 20th century modern and contemporary art.

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I’ll Show You Mine If You Show Me Yours: Chicago Shaping Up For Big Art Year
Eavesdrop attended the opening of William J. O’Brien’s mid-career solo show on view through May 18 at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago. 2014 is shaping up to be a strong one for Chicago-based artists, with this show clearly thrusting O’Brien into the upper echelon. On its heels, Chicago will have a disproportionate—in a good way—presence in this year’s Whitney Biennial. The Biennial will be the last in the Marcel Breuer building before the museum relocates downtown to new digs by Renzo Piano. Y’all, all this spotlight on our local talent means that if you haven’t already collected work from these folks, you’re S.O.O.L. Eavesdrop seriously regrets not scooping up a work on paper from O’Brien years ago when we could’ve maybe—stress maybe—afforded it. Eaves loves to read the accession and loaner info listed on the museum labels and, given their impeccable design aesthetic, it was no surprise to see the names of Dirk Denison and his partner, David Salkin, listed as the owners of several of the pieces included in the MCA show. Dirk, if you read this, please invite us over to peep your art collection and we’ll bring something nice to sip on!
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Review> 2014 Armory Art Week Improved With the Help of Architecture
With the plethora of contemporary art on view in New York during Armory Arts week, it has been instructive to note the contribution by architects to the design of these temporary exhibition spaces, and the use of interesting architectural spaces. The fairs are often held in structures originally used for other purposes — piers, parking facilities, drill halls — so the task has been to not only carve out space for display, but to move viewers (and buyers) with flexibility and ease and to provide an enticing environment. Fair organizers have turned to young architects for these interior layouts, or have chosen compelling venues. Piers 92 and 94, the site of the Armory Show, was designed by Bade Stageberg Cox (BSC), as they have since 2012. The theme this year is “Thresholds,” and the intention is to slow down the sprint through the seemingly endless rows of displays. The large ticket desk is a transitional space to cushion entry. On the floor is dark grey carpeting punctuated by light grey rectangles to demarcate lounges and areas of respite. Cut-throughs permit easier navigation, rather than having to hit the end of a long corridor before round the corner to the next row. Thankfully, a staircase has been reintroduced between the two piers (last year one was forced into the cold outside) which has been cloaked in translucent fabric. BSC also designed seating used throughout the lounge areas. The Independent, held in the old Dia Building on West 22nd Street, engaged architects Andrew Feuerstein and Bret Quagliara, who created a layout inspired by the tangram, a Chinese “dissection” puzzle that uses many triangles and is said to help develop spatial reasoning skills. Diagonal walls demarcate the 40 galleries on three floors, but there are no “booths” so the artwork bleeds together in flowing sight lines. The result is that the components feel part of a wider whole. The architects worked with gallerists to tailor the spaces based on the work they planned to exhibit. Each floor has large windows on the north and south sides which bathe the space with natural light. The site of Scope art is the Skylight at Moynihan Station. This would seem to indicate an upper aerie, but it is actually the working back-end of the McKim, Mead and White James A. Farley Post Office entered on West 33rd Street. The skylit postal dock and mail sorting rooms are now an open industrial shed subdivided into gallery booths and lounges. Natural light from above is perfect for showing art. The Moving Image Art Fair is at the Tunnel, 220 Twelfth Avenue, a former warehouse turned nightclub, where Grimshaw’s offices are located. And the Art Dealers Association’s The Art Show is held at the majestic Park Avenue Armory, which was just renovated by Herzog & de Meuron. Not a temporary art fair, but another contemporary art extravaganza opened this week—the Whitney Biennial (closes may May 25). It will be the last one to be held in the Marcel Breuer building on Madison Avenue. One of the three curators, Anthony Elms, kept returning to a question he found in the notes that Breuer made when designing the building: “What should a museum look like, a museum in Manhattan?” For Elms, “just as Breuer’s Whitney with its heavy walls and retreating facade — unapologetically sets its own material and temporal identity against the city’s quotidian business rhythms,” his installation features works central to this thinking, in particular Zoe Leonard’s camera obscura called 945 Madison Avenue, 2014, that uses the large, trapezoidal window on the 4th floor to bring the inverted image of the city inside. The museum itself become a frame for creative investigation. Artist Sergei Tcherepnin, chosen by another curator, Stuart Comer, attached transducers (devices that convert signals into vibrations) onto eight Breuer light fixtures in the lobby, which make the overhead lighting into synthesizer “speaker-instruments” channeling sounds from the building itself in Ambient Marcel (Waiting, Working, Erupting), 2014. Biennial artworks with architectural references of note include John Mason’s Vertical Torque, White, 1997; Joel Otterson’s 187 Bottoms Up, 2013, Sheila Hick’s Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column, 2013-14; Ken Lum’s Midway Shopping Plaza, 2014; Martin Wong’s Closed, 1984-85; Lisa Anne Auerbach’s American Magazine #2, 2014; and Etel Adnan’s New York From the Triborough Bridge to South of Manhattan New York, May 21, 1990. At the fairs, architectural works included Yutaka Sone’s Little Manhattan, 2007-2009 (Armory, David Zwirner); Kim Jones’s Doll House, 1974-2013 (Armory, Pierogi), Ahmed Mater’s Metropolis, 2013 and Ground Zero I (Armory, Athr Gallery), Do Ho Suh’s Specimen Series: Berlin Apartment, 2011 (Armory, Lehmann Maupin); Paul Ramirez Jonas’s Admit one: Tishman Auditorium, 2012 (Armory, Nara Roesler); Chen Sai Hua Kuan’s Space Drawing No. 7, 2010 (Moving Image, Osage); Nicole Cohen’s Champagne Room, 2013 (Moving Image, Morgan Lehman); Charles LeDray’s Picnic, 2005-2013 (ADAA, Sperone Westwater); Gavin Turk’s Small Door (Yellow & Green), 2013 (ADAA, David Nolan); Roxy Paine’s Emulsion, 2012 (ADAA, Marianne Boesky); James Castle’s booth (ADAA, Peter Freeman); Vera Lutter’s Fulton Ferry Landing, Brooklyn, May 21, 1996 (ADAA, Weinstein); Kelly Reemtsen’s Eames Rust Side Chair Right View, 2007 (Scope, De Buck); and David Kramer’s Night Moves, 2014 (Scope, Long-Sharp) features the headline “I Should Have Bought Real Estate” over a nighttime skyline.
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Beatrice Galilee Appointed Architecture Curator at the Metropolitan Museum
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced the appointment of Beatrice Galilee, 31, as associate curator of architecture and design. She will work within the department of Modern and Contemporary Art. According to a job posting in The Art Newspaper, the curator will develop collection and research strategies for the department as well as organize collection and special exhibitions, among other duties. Galilee is a writer and curator, most recently of the Lisbon Design Triennial in 2013, called Close, Closer. She was co-curator of the Gwangju design biennale in 2011 and 2009 Shenzhen Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism. She was previously the architecture editor of Icon magazine, and holds a MSc in the History of Architecture from the Bartlett School of Architecture at University College London. Galilee will have a wonderful piece of architecture to work in. The Met is taking over the Marcel Breuer–designed Whitney Museum building uptown to show works from the Modern and Contemporary Art department. “Beatrice Galilee will join the staff of our Department of Modern and Contemporary Art as it expands to embrace a more global program and mandate,” stated Thomas P. Campbell, the Met's director, in a statement. “She brings to the position her strong international experience in the presentation and study of architecture and design-related work. Hers is one of two positions in the department that were endowed recently by Dan and Estrellita Brodsky. Their commitment to modern and contemporary art at the Met has been visionary, anticipating the new opportunities for programming in the Marcel Breuer-designed building on Madison Avenue that will be vacated by the Whitney Museum in 2015 and then occupied by the Met.”
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MoMA Expansion
MoMA announced plans to demolish the Folk Art Museum on January 8 to make way for a major expansion.
Courtesy DS+R

Major urban institutions, like viruses, are hard-wired for survival and growth. The bigger they get, the more determined they are to keep growing, even to the detriment of their host. We see it all the time with hospitals and universities that stomp all over their neighborhoods, simultaneously trading on, and destroying, the local character. And now we are seeing it with a different kind of institution, the Museum of Modern Art.

 
The American Folk Art Museum.
Giles Ashford
 

It is foolish to think you can have a reasoned conversation about expansion with mega-institutions because the issues are always framed by their own hermetic logic. What’s good for the system is all that matters. So, when MoMA Director Glen Lowry and architect Elizabeth Diller make the case for demolishing the American Folk Art Museum, they start with the assumption that growth is a good thing. Expansion, they argue, is necessary to relieve overcrowding in its 53rd Street compound. Huge numbers of visitors requires the creation of a sequence of continuous galleries, so MoMA’s collection can be displayed in a more effective, interdisciplinary manner. The Folk Art building interrupts that continuous flow, and it is impossible to incorporate the structure into the new wing because of what Diller calls its “obdurate” design. (That means, ‘stubborn, unyielding,’ by the way.) Ergo, it must be destroyed.

This formulation turns the teensy, 6,000-square-foot Folk Art museum into the problem, when the real problem is that MoMA’s vast scale has made it an overwhelming, pleasure-less place to engage with art. Making the compound bigger will only degrade the experience even more, no matter how elegantly Diller Scofidio & Renfro refine their proposal for a new east-west circulation corridor. And who believes this will be MoMA’s last expansion? If the plan is realized, the museum and its residential appendages will sprawl across more than two-thirds of its block. Cities thrive on diversity, but MoMA is turning its swathe of Manhattan into a monoculture, a ghetto of extreme affluence.

MoMA keeps comparing its situation to that of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, another mega-museum that struggles with overcrowding. The Met moves six million visitors a year through its galleries; MoMA handles three million, double the number it saw before the 2004 Taniguchi expansion. The Met’s solution to the increasing numbers has been a series of architectural appendages. Why shouldn’t MoMA add another wing? What gets forgotten is that the Met is located in a park and set back from Fifth Avenue by a broad plaza and monumental staircase. Manhattan can handle tremendous density, but those millions of visitors are surely felt more intensely on 53rd Street than in Central Park. It is not only MoMA that is unbearably crowded now; it is all of Midtown.

 

Density has become the new urban rallying cry. There is probably not a city in America that would not benefit from higher concentrations of people, but that doesn’t mean all density is created equal or that there are no limits to density. I was once a New Yorker, but when I travel now from my home in Philadelphia (which has densities similar to Brooklyn’s) to Midtown, I am increasingly aware of the oppressiveness of the crowding—on the sidewalks, in the subways, in museums, in public places of all kinds. This is purely anecdotal, I realize, but on my last visit to Midtown I was reprimanded twice by strangers for intruding on their personal space, even though I had no choice in the matter, having been jostled by fellow travelers. The stress level seems way up.

Museums were once places where New Yorkers could go to find an oasis of tranquility and contemplation from the unrelenting city. I can hardly believe that as a college student I would sometimes journey to MoMA’s garden or the Frick’s garden court simply to be alone and do homework. The Folk Art museum was designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien to provide space for repose. Though some critics have complained about its inscrutable metal facade, the solidity was intentional and—when you consider its purpose—functional. Within the thick armature of its concrete walls, you could feel removed from the world. The domestically scaled spaces might not be perfect for displaying art, but neither are MoMA’s supposedly all-purpose white boxes. You could see the hand of the architects on every surface—the beaten bronze panels, the bush hammered concrete—a personal stamp we rarely experience anymore. Eccentricity is part of its appeal, the antithesis of Taniguchi’s malleable, subservient MoMA galleries. The Folk Art was the first museum, and first serious work architecture, to be completed in New York after 9/11, when the city was reeling from the enormity of the tragedy and reconsidering the predilection for bigness that produced the twin towers. As then, New York is again suffering from a crisis of bigness. It needs to make room for the small.

MoMA perceives the Folk Art museum as a threat to the institution, but it shouldn’t. The Met has found a way to decentralize with the acquisition of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Marcel Breuer building, where it plans to install its growing contemporary art collection. The satellite will be an excellent pressure valve. MoMA, which is more fleet in its operations, more attuned to new ways of thinking about space, could easily establish similar satellites around the city, boutique spaces for shows that get swallowed up in the big house. In an interview, Diller told me that when MoMA hired her firm, they “asked us to make them uncomfortable.” Instead they were suckered in by the institution’s faulty logic. Rather than pursuing ways to chop up the Folk Art building to make it fit into an expanded MoMA, they should have explored ways to invent a new, de-centralized kind of museum. No obsolete albatross, the small, intimate Folk Art may well represent the first inklings of what a modern New York museum can be.

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First Glass
A hanging lantern of acid washed glass and stainless steel cables captures and diffuses daylight throughout the large works gallery.
Scott Rudd

Queens Museum of Art
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens, New York

Grimshaw’s recent renovation of the Queens Museum of Art involved the task of unifying a previously divided building under a single program. The institution used to share its walls with an ice skating rink. The museum occupied the north half of the building—originally constructed as the New York pavilion for the 1939 World’s Fair—and the rink the south half. When, in 2008, the rink moved into the newly completed Handel Architects–designed Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Natatorium and Ice Rink, which was part of New York City’s 2012 Olympic bid, the museum had the opportunity to stretch out, occupying the entire 105,000-square-foot building for the first time since being founded in 1972.

The architects saw the opportunity to greatly improve the museum’s somewhat confusing circulation scheme, as well as support its mission of bringing the community together around art. By shifting the main entrance away from where it had previously been off the north parking lot, at the narrow end of the rectangular plan, to the center of the longer west facade, they were able to usher visitors directly into the building’s cavernous central volume. By arranging temporary exhibition galleries around this space, which functions as a large works gallery, the architects created an easy to navigate experience where figuring out where to go next is simply a matter of looking around.

 
The main entry facade (right) is outfitted with a programmable light display.
Scott Rudd; Holly Tsai
 

Glass played a key role in supporting Grimshaw’s design concept and in creating a bright and airy experience on the interior. Both eastern and western faces of the building were opened up with glass walls that let daylight in, welcome the community, and create a view corridor that passes straight through the space from the Grand Central Parkway to the Unisphere—the great, globular icon of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The west facade features a screen that can be animated by a color-changing LED system. A variety of artists will be invited to program the system over time.

Even with the glass facades, the large works gallery, with its soaring ceiling, promised to be a dark space. This could be solved with skylights, but then skylights, without control measures, can create tricky daylighting conditions for museum artifacts, many of which deteriorate in direct sunlight. In addition, the architects wanted to create a seamless experience, where visitors could go from outside, into the great hall, and then into the galleries without perceiving the difference in light level. “On a bright day, it’s 10,000 foot-candles outside,” said Mark Husser, managing partner for Grimshaw’s New York office. “We had to step that down to about 15 foot-candles in the galleries, and we attempted to do that without having a noticeable change or a lot of glare or shadow.”

A custom-designed ring beam attaches to the bottom of the lantern’s cables, pulling them into tension.
Courtesy grimshaw
 

In order to accomplish this effect, Grimshaw designed what is unofficially referred to as the “Hanging Lantern,” a daylight chandelier of sorts composed of canted glass louvers suspended by stainless steel cables around the great hall’s central skylight. The glass louvers, which range in width, are built up from two 5mm-thick pieces of low iron tempered glass that are laminated together with an SGP interlayer. The down facing sides of the louvers are acid washed, to catch and diffuse daylight, while the up facing sides are left glossy, to make them easier to clean as well as to create a shimmering effect on the inside of the lantern. The edges of the glass louvers are polished, post lamination, a delicate process that removed a mere 1/64-inch of material to clean up the edges and create a sparkling, diamond-like effect. The louvers are canted at different angles to catch sunlight entering from the skylight, which also features louvers, and direct it to the galleries, whose ceilings are outfitted with louvers of their own that further diffuse the light. “We did sun studies to determine the angles of the louvers,” said Casimir Zdanius, Grimshaw’s head of industrial design. “When direct sunlight hits the pieces of glass they light up like a halogen.”

Courtesy Grimshaw
 

Grimshaw designed the Hanging Lantern, which combines daylighting and structural design, with consulting engineer Michael Ludvik. The tempered glass louvers, which handle some structural loads, are attached to inner and outer sets of steel cables that drop down from the ceiling with machine finished 304 stainless steel connections. At the bottom of the lantern, which hangs more than 31 feet down from the ceiling, is a ring beam made up of 6-inch-diameter solid steel billets fastened together with heavy-duty bolts. At 20,000 pounds, the ring beam pulls the cable system into tension. While the 8mm-diameter outer cable carries most of the load, the 6mm-diameter inner cable attaches to the ring beam via a spring connection that allows the pendulous structure to sway without breaking the glass. The inner cables are also tuned to achieve a sensuous curving profile on the inside of the lantern.

Grimshaw also designed a glass-treaded feature stair that encourages access to the second floor and provides a series of landings that offer a good view of the large works gallery and the Hanging Lantern. The landings and treads are composed of four piles of ½-inch-thick low iron annealed glass laminated together with SGP interlayers. The upper surface features an acid etched non-slip surface and the structure was designed so that even if all four piles break the interlayer will continue to carry the live load. Annealed glass was chosen, as opposed to tempered, so that the edges could be polished down flush without shattering, a detail that gives the edges of the treads a jewel-like translucency.

Aaron Seward

Names to Know:

Architect:
Grimshaw Architects
Architect & Engineer of Record:
Ammann & Whitney
Engineer:
M.Ludvid Eng’g

 

Glass Fabricator:
ANGORA
Stair Glass Installation:
M Cohen and Sons
Lantern Fabrication & Installation:
AMG Design

 

Brad Feinknopf
 

Ohio State University South Campus Central Chiller
Columbus, OH

Ohio State University’s south campus central chiller is a utilitarian powerhouse. It pumps cool water to more than half of the campus’ buildings. It is also host to a dynamic light show, thanks to an array of glass fins affixed to its concrete facade.

“Rather than just showing the pipes, we wanted to represent energy itself,” architect Carol Ross Barney told AN when the project was first announced in 2010. Ross Barney worked with associate architects, Champlin, on the project. Now complete, the 95,570-square-foot building sports dichroic glass, composed of multiple micro-layers of fused metal oxides. A coating just 30- to 35-millionths of an inch thick can contain up to 50 layers of these materials, which condense on the glass after being vaporized by an electron beam in a vacuum chamber.

   
Brad Feinknopf
 

Those tiny bits of metal reject certain wavelengths of light, so the dichroic fins reflect and transmit different colors simultaneously. Which colors pass through and which bounce back depends on the angle of view. The end result is a constantly shifting array of colors that dance across the building exterior.

Previously it hadn’t been affordable to laminate dichroic film between layers of glass. Ross Barney Architects worked with glass manufacturer Goldray Industries to laminate the dichroic film, which was originally developed by NASA for use in space. The exterior application created concerns for the longevity of the thin film, so Goldray tested several glass products to sufficiently protect the film without distorting its ability to transmit light. Based on its success, Goldray has since used similar fins on projects from Indianapolis to Istanbul.

 
Brad Feinknopf
 

Structural shapes and welded plates hold the glass fins perpendicular to the building’s precast panels. The incandescent fins themselves convey a sense of energy, Barney said, but clear sightlines into the mechanical innards of the chiller plant also put the building’s utility front and center.

Still, no moving parts are visible. Instead, the precast plates that make up the ten-story building are punctuated with varied rectangular windows, complementing the geometry of the glass fins. Oldcastle manufactured the aluminum curtain wall window system, whose insulated exterior panels also cut down on energy use. Inside, equipment decks are grated for natural cooling so the chiller, which anticipates LEED certification, won’t have to be chilled itself.

To hear the designers tell it, in a rundown of their research and development process, “the building becomes an ethereal expression of the functional process of releasing thermal energy into the air to produce chilled water.” Cool.

 

Chris Bentley

Names to Know:

Architect:
Ross Barney Architects
Glass Fins:
Goldray Industries
Curtain Wall:
Oldcastle

 

 

 

Shawn Bowman
 

Langham Hotel
Chicago, IL

Like many who attempt to transform Mies Van der Rohe landmarks, interior designers Richmond Group got some flak for putting a glitzy hotel into one of the architect’s stately modernist icons along the Chicago River. Langham Hotel, which now occupies floors 2-13 of the 52-story tower, is more known for glamour than clean geometry.

But the design team’s intervention narrowed in on one of the skyscraper’s key materials: glass. “We wanted to emphasize the extensive use of glass on the facade,” Richmond Group’s Deborah Bray said in a press release, “to deliver an individual and innovative design, which reflected the linear elements of the existing architecture.”

Alliance Glazing and GLASSource helped outfit the lobby’s two-floor RiverRoom with a unique array of composite panels of Pilkington Optiwhite glass. They bonded ¼-inch low-iron beveled glass to both sides of an extremely flat 3/8-inch monolithic panel, computer numerically controlling each panel to keep the floor-to-ceiling array of panels uniform. Individually cut and fit brass strips divide each panel.

Shawn Bowman
 

“The feel is almost like you’re in a prism. The light reflects in different directions,” said Alliance’s Dan Shields. “But when you get close to it, you’re able to get nice views out, so you’re not taking away the skyline feel. It’s more art than it is just glass.”

Over six months of testing and mock-up production, Alliance and Bohle Group developed an adhesive that cures under ultraviolet light, keeping the composite panels together without forming bubbles in the glue. Despite being made from many small pieces of beveled glass, the feature wall appears unified.

 
Shawn Bowman
 

GLASSource’s Jim Arnold said the UV bonding was the first of such detail and scope. “Full size vinyl templates were printed to control the layout process and each small section took between two to four days per panel just to do the UV bonding,” he said. “After almost 15 months from the first discussions the designers vision and the end result turned out to be very spectacular as well as unique.”

Langham Hotel opened its Travelle restaurant and bar this year, completing the bottom floors’ transformation from office space to high-end hotel; and the focus on glass does not end at the lobby. Electrochromic glass from Guardian separates the bathrooms—with the flip of a switch, the glass switches from opaque to transparent. Televisions within the mirrors add another touch of luxury, rounded out by custom diamond-cut shapes in each mirror enclosure that match the carpeting.

 

Chris Bentley

Names to Know:

Designers:
Richmond
Lohan Anderson
Rockwell Group

 

Glass Fabricators & Installers:
Alliance Glazing Technologies
GLASSource
Guardian

 

 

 

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On View> T.J. Wilcox's “Up in the Air” at the Whitney Through February 9
Up in the Air Whitney Museum of American Art Through February 9, 2014 Circles and squares; past and present; inside and outside. These are some of the elements that combine architecture and the moving image in T.J. Wilcox’s Up in the Air, a contemporary cyclorama of his Union Square penthouse studio view installed in Marcel Breuer’s Whitney Museum building. The circle is the ringed screen—7 feet tall and 35 feet in circumference—that you must bend under to enter the inner circle. Suspended only 6 feet below the museum's distinctive coffered ceilings that are the squares, as is the room’s shape, it is intentionally hung close to respond to the masonry “frames.” The moving-image narrative on the circular screen is a single sunny summer day and clear night shot from his downtown aerie where we can see the Empire State Building, Zeckendorf Towers, Con Edison Building, and One World Trade Center amongst water towers, cranes, and satellite dishes in the correct orientation (north is north, south is south) representing the present. Wilcox says we bend these current vistas to our own associations, prompting memories of the past. He has provided us with five narrative reflections that spool out one by one: the Hindenburg crash and planned zeppelin mooring docks atop the Empire State Building; the court battle for custody of little Gloria Vanderbilt by her aunt Gertrude, founder of the Whitney Museum; fashion illustrator and AIDS victim Antonio Lopez, who occupied a studio directly across the square from Wilcox’s and whose work inspired him to move to New York; Warhol inflating silver balloons to commemorate Pope Paul IV’s New York visit in 1965; and the building’s super who observed the World Trade Center attacks from this rooftop which morphs into Manhattan-henge, the day when sunset aligns along the NYC street grid facing west. These chapters embody Wilcox’s exercise in looking across time simultaneously. Simultaneity is also how the mechanics work, with ten projectors working together linked by a single computer processor that compensates for the curvature of the screen. Five cameras shot 60,000 individually processed still images at a rate of one per second for better resolution than conventional video. Because the viewpoint is above street level without cars and pedestrians, the effect is a timeless cityscape. You can experience Up in the Air from outside the perimeter of the circle, where it’s like a giant lantern, or from the inside where you are enveloped in an immersive pool of light and images. The way we view these buildings and the stories they tell are from both sides, too. Wilcox says that history is always under construction.
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On View> A Report From the 2013 Milan Triennale
The current Milan Triennale exhibition, running through December 2013, is on view in the city's Palace of Art building, part of Parco Sempione, the park grounds adjacent to Castello Sforzesco. Nancy Goldring visited the exhibit for AN and reports back on the highlights of the exhibit. When you enter the Milan Triennale, there is a line-up of fanciful chairs—rather a small version of Lucas Samaras' great show at the Whitney. But the exhibition itself promises a much more serious consideration of the world of design. The Association for Industrial Design (ADI) added a new category to its 2010 Trienniale Design: Service Design. This year in Design for Living, Luisa Bocchietto and the Triennale committee have added yet another new section—Social Design—those who have offered examples of responsible design, an attempt to get away from simply the design of beautiful objects and to focus on the activities of designers who are trying to make a contribution to the way we live and change the systems themselves. In the catalog Bocchietto says, "Creating new design products assumes that there has been an ethical reflection on their genuine usefulness. Certainly, there is a market to conquer and a job to do, but beyond this there is the urgent need to respond to certain questions that are no longer individual. We must address the problem of the use of resources, respect for the environment and future sustainability, social inequality, and ethical as well as economic sustainability." In the category of Social Design are a few projects that promise a new direction: Hispaniola-Design for Solidarity is a project for international relief and welfare design—an idea of Claudio Larger. The project was funded by the Italian ColorEsperanza in association and managed by the Domincan One' Respe NGO for inner city and disadvantaged areas of the Dominican Republic, where Haitian and Dominican children are unable to attend state schools. From ten prototypes the jury selected three designs to be produced by a local Dominican joinery—to generate workshops to create local products such as tables and chairs for the schools. Then Best Up is a non profit organization founded in 2006 to promote sustainable living through dialogue and sharing of knowledge and experiences. The idea is to spread good models that improve skills and share resources concerning personal wellbeing and the public good. It offers a way to promote collaboration between urban and rural sectors. It becomes a kind of center for the sharing information about smaller businesses and organizations that are attempting to change the way we live. This show—the presentation of their system—was selected in particular by ADI for its new format, Good Design Work Well to Live Better, that travels to spread information throughout the country. New Scenarios for Living has been examining water as a resource, in ways that respect the environment while also respecting cultural differences. It focuses on the recognition of the access to water as a universal right. It is exploring ways for protect and to save water supplies. Finally a powerful part of the exhibition is a show of objects and photos from Mathare in Nairobi documenting the ability of a community to adapt local materials and simple objects to produce new and useful forms. The show was beautifully curated by Fulvio Irace.
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From The Pages of Texas Architect: Astrodome Update by Ben Koush
[ Editor's Note: For those of you who are getting excited about The Architect's Newspaper and YKK AP's Reimagine the Astrodome design ideas competition, you have until September 17 to register. Once you've done that, take the time to read the following article, which appeared in the September/October 2013 issue of Texas Architect. Written by Houston-based architect and writer Ben Koush, it covers the current status of the Dome, what it means to Harris County, and Space City's record of not bothering to preserve its architectural heritage. ] Ever since the Houston Oilers owner Bud Adams, in a snit after being refused a new stadium, took his football team to Nashville in 1997 and renamed it the Tennessee Titans, the fate of the Astrodome has been up in the air. Matters were made worse when, instead of rehabilitating the Astrodome a new, neo-traditionalist baseball stadium, Minute Maid Park, was built down-town for the Astros in 1999, and then in 2002, a hulking new football stadium, Reliant Center, was built uncomfortably close to its predecessor to house the replacement team, the Houston Texans, and the Houston Rodeo. The Astrodome, designed by local architects Lloyd, Morgan & Jones and Wilson, Morris, Crain & Anderson, opened in 1965 to national acclaim as the nation’s first covered and completely air-conditioned baseball and football stadium. It was inspired by Harris County Judge Roy Hofheinz’s visit to the ancient Roman Colosseum, where he learned that a retractable canvas cover, the velarium, was once extended to shade most of the seats from the hot Italian sun. The novelty of the covered Texas sports stadium and its one-of-a-kind AstroTurf were pivotal points in the history of sports facilities. However, the decades have taken their toll. And in comparison to the recent crop of flashy new stadiums, the Astrodome looks downright dumpy. In a city that generally equates old with bad, these kinds of situations are usually resolved by demolition. Think Shamrock Hotel (largest hotel in America when it was opened in 1949); River Oaks Shopping Center (the New Deal-era prototype for an uncountable number of strip centers in the country); the Prudential Building (Houston’s first “suburban” skyscraper); and—being demolished as I write this—the former Foley Brothers department store (the grandest and last major downtown department store to be built in any American city). Given this trend, one cannot help but be surprised by what seems to be a miraculous turn of events. Almost as soon as the Astrodome was mothballed, eager would-be developers began pushing proposals for its redevelopment. The pressure increased notably when it became clear that Harris County is using some $3 million to $4 million of public money to maintain the stadium in its unused state each year. Suggestions included hotels, casinos, movie studios, amusement parks, museums, and, my personal favorite, a scheme by recent University of Houston architectural graduate student Ryan Slattery to strip the dome to its steel skeleton and repurpose it as a gigantic, 9-acre gazebo to shade a variety of outdoor activities. Reject, reject, reject. But with the news that Houston will be the location of the 2017 Super Bowl, speculation has intensified that current Harris County Judge Ed Emmett must decide if the Astrodome is to be demolished, as seems to be the desire of the Houston Rodeo in particular, or to be rehabilitated, as seems to be the desire of most Houstonians, who increasingly see it as the city’s signature architectural landmark. Rehabilitation of the iconic building would clearly avoid national embarrassment when the anticipated hordes of visiting sports commentators and football fans descend upon Reliant Stadium. National attention to Houston’s conundrum included articles in the New York Times and the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s decision to include the Astrodome on its 2013 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. This summer, Judge Emmett issued an ultimatum that redevelopment proposals would have to be submitted by June 10. The Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation (HCSCC) selected one of the proposals and will put it forward for a public vote in November for bond approvals. If the proposal is rejected, the Astrodome will be demolished. In late June, the HCSCC reviewed the 19 official submissions and duly approved what appears to be a somewhat banal scheme. “The New Dome Experience,” presented by HCSCC Executive Director Willie Loston, seeks to repurpose the Astrodome as a 350,000-sf column-free exhibition space, with an estimated price tag of $194 million. Why such a large convention center? For one thing, participants of the Offshore Technology Conference, which has annual trade shows at the Reliant Center, have been pushing to exhibit ever-larger oil and gas production devices—imagine entire offshore drilling rigs. Other sug­gested uses include moving the Rodeo’s carnival under cover, housing high school football games, and providing the ever-popular emergency hous­ing in times of disaster. Emmett was recently quoted by writer Whitney Radley as saying, “I think the concept is outstanding, and at the end of it, I really believe that Houston and Harris County would become the event capital of the world.” It’s not all just boosterism, however. This scheme also proposes to include some 400,000 sf of programmed, semi-public outdoor space. So here’s to its success at the ballot boxes in November and to the hope that Houston might someday realize that its architectural patrimony is indeed worth maintaining rather than destroying. Ben Koush is a Houston-based architect and writer.
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On View> Robert Irwin’s “Scrim veil—Black rectangle—Natural light” at the Whitney Museum
Robert Irwin’s “Scrim veil—Black rectangle—Natural light” The Whitney Museum of American Art 945 Madison Avenue New York, NY Through September 1 It has been 36 years since Robert Irwin, now 84 years old, debuted his Scrim veil—Black rectangle—Natural light installation at the Whitney Museum of American Art. This summer, the legendary installation, designed specifically for the fourth floor of the Breuer building, returns to the museum. As the title suggests, Irwin’s minimalist installation is composed of three simple elements: a black line that runs along the length of the gallery walls, natural light that enters through the museum’s iconic trapezoidal window, and a white translucent polyester scrim hung from the ceiling that slices through the space. These elements divide the space into various geometric forms and create a disorienting experience. As visitors circle the gallery and daylight moves across the room, the perception of space is shown to be less definite than one might previously have imagined.
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On View at the Whitney: Scrim veil-Black rectangle-Natural light
This summer, the Whitney Museum of American Art will reinstall a work for the first time since its original conception in 1977. Robert Irwin (b. 1928) formed the large-scale Scrim veil-Black rectangle-Natural light, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, especially for the Emily Fisher Landau Gallery almost four decades ago. The exhibition was central to Irwin’s career, as it determined the path for his ensuing practice, and will now be on display for the second time from June 27 to September 1, 2013. The work accentuates the Whitney’s renowned Breuer building and the natural light that reaches the interior from the single Madison Avenue window. Irwin’s installation involves a partially transparent white scrim weighted down by a black metal bar. The system is suspended from the ceiling and hangs five and a half feet above the floor, spanning 117 feet across the room. A thin black line mirrors the bar and borders the gallery walls. The elements accentuate the setting and sway visitors’ observations of the Museum’s fourth floor. In concurrence with the exhibition, the Whitney will digitize the 1977 exhibition catalogue and make it accessible online. It will contain images, plans, and information assembled by the 1977 exhibition’s curator, Richard Marshall. The updated report will include a new introduction by Whitney Chief Curator Donna De Salvo. Photographs and drawings associated with the display will be located in another fourth-floor gallery. Robert Irwin is a native of Long Beach, California and studied at the Otis Art Institute and the Chouinard Art Institute, where he trained in Abstract Expressionist painting. He was invited to join the Ferus Gallery in 1958, but soon after he began to create new minimalist works. As he fused his creative methods with his interests in science, philosophy, and religion, Irwin conceived that art must be conditional to its environment and must enhance viewers’ perceptions. He deserted the idea of the frame to create art in express response to certain settings. An artist at the forefront of the Light and Space movement, he continues to build site-specific works.
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MoMA the Demolisher
Dan Nguyen / Flickr

The Museum of Modern Art is in the unenviable position of destroying a relatively new building by a respected architecture firm. The former American Folk Art Museum building sits between the MoMA’s existing building and a planned tower designed by Jean Nouvel. The folk art museum’s former home, designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsein Architects, was completed in 2001 and sold to MoMA only ten years later, in 2011, relieving the folk art museum from a heavy debt burden.

According to MoMA’s director, Glenn Lowry, the folk art museum initiated the transaction. “We entered into the process with an open mind,” he said a statement. “However, it was also with the understanding that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to integrate a building that was designed for a very specific purpose and as a discrete structure with the Museum’s plans for expansion.”

Barry Bergdoll, chief curator of MoMA's architecture and design department, told AN that the decision was an administrative, rather than a curatorial one. He called the decision “painful” for architects and others who appreciate Williams and Tsein’s work, and acknowledged that museums have a responsibility to the art in their care—including architecture. But, he said, the building “was designed as a jewel box for folk art,” and could not reasonably be altered to fit a different collection and a different purpose. Bergdoll added that some possible solutions, including retaining only the facade of the former folk art museum building or drastically restructuring it, would violate its architectural integrity and “denature its total design aesthetic.”

 
Facade of the American Folk Art Museum (left). Interior of Williams and Tsien's building shortly after it was vacated by the American Folk Art Museum (right).
Giles Ashford
 

Williams and Tsien’s firm has been inundated with press inquiries since news of MoMA’s demolition plans broke, but a public statement on their website expresses their sadness over MoMA’s decision. “The Folk Art building stands as an example of a modest and purposefully conceived and crafted space for art and the public; a building type that is all too rare in a city often defined by bigness and impersonality,” read the statement.

Williams and Tsein are no strangers to museum design. Their design for the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia was completed in 2012, and they have undertaken two expansion projects for the Phoenix Art Museum. Their website lists several other cultural organizations as clients, including the HoodMuseum at Dartmouth College and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Meanwhile, the American Folk Art Museum, thriving in its scaled-back home on Lincoln Square, presents a cheerful public face. They have also issued a public statement via their website. “We remain grateful for the purchase of the building by our good neighbor, the Museum of Modern Art; the sale of the building was a necessary step for our resurgence.”