Search results for "Public Design Commission"

Placeholder Alt Text

Croikey

Foster + Partners' controversial Australian Apple store is cancelled
It looks like the latest collaboration between Foster + Partners and Apple is dead in the water. The pair’s future flagship Australian store in Melbourne, Victoria, has been blocked by heritage officials, and Apple has decided not to move forward with the project. The pagoda-like Apple store was first revealed to the public in late 2017, and immediately drew criticism for its siting and design. Preservationists were up in arms over the decision to place the shop in the eight-acre Federation Square, Melbourne’s main public plaza. Federation Square emerged from a design competition sponsored by the Victoria government in 1999 to transform a polluted patch of industrial land on the Yarra River into public space. A group including Lab Architecture Studio, led by Donald Bates and Peter Davidson, Karres en Brands Landscape Architects, and the local firm Bates Smart, ultimately won the commission. The square’s eclectic collection of three-story buildings, most of them clad in panelized glass, zinc, and sandstone arranged in dizzying patterns, have become a Melbourne fixture. To the square’s south is the Yarra Building, which currently holds the Koorie Heritage Trust, and would have been demolished to make way for the $35 million Apple store. Other than the auspicious location, the store’s original tiered design drew comparisons to a pizza box, among other things, and Foster + Partners was forced to go back to the drawing board. In July of last year, the design team released a heavier, blockier scheme that oriented viewing angles out towards the river. That effort now appears to have been for naught. On April 5, Heritage Victoria, a state body responsible for protecting Victoria’s cultural and environmental heritage, ruled that the Yarra Building’s demolition would fundamentally alter Federation Square’s fabric. With Heritage Victoria’s refusal, Apple announced that it would be abandoning its plans to build an Apple Global Flagship Store in the square. Federation Square was nominated to the Victorian Heritage Register for historic preservation last August. Undeterred, Federation Square’s management submitted the application to Heritage Victoria for permission to demolish the Yarra Building in December. Now that the Apple store plan is off, Federation Square’s induction into the Victorian Heritage Register will be completed by the end of April.
Placeholder Alt Text

Designing For The Void

Raymond Jungles reshapes the garden at the Ford Foundation overhaul
Ever since it was finished in 1967, the most notable feature of Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo’s Ford Foundation Building has been what is not there. At the center of the building is a 12-story, 160-foot-high void occupied by a multitiered interior garden, dense with trees, flowering bushes, and lacy ferns. The original design of the garden—by the late master landscape architect Dan Kiley—frankly never flourished, but it is now in full bloom. “For Dan, his garden was a big experiment,” said Raymond Jungles, the Coconut Grove, Florida–based landscape architect responsible for re-creating Kiley’s vision while also planting his own professional roots in the redesign. When the building reopened in March after a major two-year interior restructuring and updating, Jungles’s garden was ready for the building’s occupants—as well as the public—to wander. “I’m a designer, I have an ego, but this project wasn’t about what Raymond Jungles was doing for the space, but, rather, my desire to find Dan Kiley’s original spirit for this space,” added Jungles. “I want people to enjoy the amazing garden Dan had designed for everybody—those who work in the building, and those who pass by and come inside.” According to Guy Champin, Jungles’s project manager for the new garden, “The architecture of the building is all about its two transparent facades,” referring to the walls of windows on both the 42nd and 43rd Street sides. To preserve and indeed enhance that visual effect, Champin and Jungles have established a tree canopy using some 35 Shady Lady black olives, Jacarandas, Ficus Amstel King, and other varieties that allow visitors to see through the space, while remaining aware of a beckoning urban forest unlike any other vista in Manhattan. Rectilinear brick pathways course across the space, half of which are wheelchair-accessible. While the hardscape remains largely untouched, given the landmark status of the building, Jungles’s firm has made conspicuous visual and aural changes. In keeping with the Ford Foundation’s new branding as a decidedly all-embracing forum for “social justice,” the firm was commissioned to establish a touch and smell garden where hearing and visually impaired visitors can experience the plantings. Elsewhere, Kiley’s extant rectangular pool has now been subtly fitted with a sound element. “Water, to me, is the heart and soul of any garden,” said Jungles, “and we’ve created the sound of moving water with pumps.” And in an effort to increase the reflective qualities of the shallow body, Jungles and Champin added black dye to the water. “Normally, dye is put in to reduce the growth of algae,” Jungles pointed out, “but here it was done to create a reflective mirror. The garden space is not just about that space, but also about the buildings across the street. One of the principals of landscape architecture is to see what you can borrow and introduce from the surrounding neighborhood.” Although the 10,000 square feet of space devoted to greenery is now abloom with plant life, the process of making the landscape introduced other, subtler elements as well. All of the trees that are now taking root in soil and in planters were grown in Florida and shipped to New York. But according to Dinu Iovan, senior project manager for Henegan Construction, the contractors for the garden installation, those trees came with other forms of life, namely, anoles, small green lizards typical of subtropical regions. “They’re everywhere in here now,” said Iovan, “which is a fun, accidental, extra element. There’s even a bat somewhere in one of these trees.” By day or night, the garden beckons passersby. Grow lights illuminate the courtyard when it is dark outside and, month by month, new colorful blossoms are set to visually animate the space. Acknowledging the difficulties of sustaining a garden in a dry interior space with limited natural sunlight, Champin likened the newly grown—and still growing—space to a beacon. “It calls to you like it’s a lighthouse in the middle of the city,” he said, “glowing with life.” Architect: Gensler General Contractor: Henegan Construction MEP: JB&B Structural: Thornton Tomasetti Lighting: FMS (Fisher Marantz Stone) Irrigation: Northern Designs Soils: James Urban Landscape: Siteworks AV/IT/Security: Cerami & Associates Preservation Consultant: Higgins Quasebarth & Partners LLC Landscape Contractor: Alpine Construction & Landscaping Corp. Plant Supplier: Signature Tree & Palms
Placeholder Alt Text

Prefab Post-Quake

Escobedo Soliz designs two prefab schools in rural Mexico
Mexican practice Escobedo Soliz recently completed two schools in Mexico's Puebla region, which was devastated by an earthquake in 2017. According to the architects, over 200 public schools were destroyed in the region, which spurred a group of private investors to commission the firm to create two primary schools in the town of Santa Isabel Cholula. The team had only nine months to design and build both structures, leading to the selection of a modular, prefabricated system. The two schools use repetitive, single-story, barn-like modules with skylights along their ridges and red-pigmented precast concrete panels on their exteriors. The modules are arranged along covered porticos that act as outdoor hallways.
Placeholder Alt Text

Designer News

New Armani building by COOKFOX could rise in New York City

Fashion magnate Giorgio Armani’s flagship boutique in Manhattan, designed by Peter Marino Architect and opened in 1996, could be torn down to make way for a 12-story tower containing a new Armani store and 19 luxury condominiums above, including one for Armani himself, if the city approves the demolition.

New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has scheduled a hearing for next week to consider an application to raze the four-story Armani store at 760 Madison Avenue and portions of two apartment buildings next to it at 19 and 21 East 65th Street.

The Armani Group disclosed plans earlier this year to “reimagine” its Madison Avenue property, and now more details about the project are coming out, and getting scrutiny, as a result of recent filings with the preservation commission. They show that the project is far more extensive than a store renovation and would represent a significant change for a tony stretch of Madison Avenue.

The replacement project is a joint venture of The Armani Group and SL Green Realty Corp., the city’s largest commercial property owner. They say it will be “a milestone in Giorgio Armani’s journey into interior design.”

COOKFOX is the architect for the 83,000-square-foot replacement building and Higgins Quasebarth & Partners is the historic preservation consultant. Armani would design the residential interiors.

Armani is the sole occupant of the 23-year-old Armani building, which has a landscaped roof terrace. The first two levels are for women’s clothing and accessories, the third floor is the men’s department and the fourth floor is currently off-limits to shoppers. The symmetrical exterior, with an indentation on the Madison Avenue side, is clad in white stone and features street-level display windows.

Now 84, Armani commands a global empire that includes hotels and upscale housing as well as clothing, accessories, watches, jewelry, eyewear, cosmetics, perfume and furnishings. The one-time window dresser ranks No. 173 on the Forbes list of the world’s billionaires, with a “real time net worth” of $8.8 billion as of March 21, according to the publication.

Through his Armani/Casa Interior Design Studio, launched in 2004, the designer opened the Armani Hotel inside the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai and the Armani Hotel Milano in Italy and created luxury housing in Miami, London, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, and Beijing, among other cities. The Madison Avenue project would be his first residential project in New York City, and he has said he will live there.

 Armani indicated in a statement released by the development team that he doesn’t regret tearing down his own building if it means he can construct an even more ambitious project at the corner of Madison and 65th.

“Madison Avenue is by definition an iconic luxury location,” he said. “In the 1980s, when I opened my first Giorgio Armani boutique in Manhattan, I chose this exclusive and refined area because it was perfect for the timeless elegance and attention to detail I wanted to communicate. Today, thirty years later, I still believe this place reflects my philosophy and my aesthetic vision.”

 As proposed, the replacement tower will have an exterior of limestone and brick, with a series of setbacks and terraces that break up the massing and take advantage of views to nearby Central Park. In all, about 19,000 square feet will be devoted to retail space and about 66,000 square feet will be devoted to residences, and the average size of a residence is 3,516 square feet, according to permits filed with the city.

COOKFOX designed the replacement building to reflect the Armani aesthetic while fitting into the context of Madison Avenue, said principal Rick Cook.

“This special project is an opportunity to design a modern home for the next generation of Armani’s presence on Madison Avenue,” Cook said in a statement. “Our approach is to reinterpret the design sensibility of classic Madison Avenue building, like The Carlton House at 21 East 61st Street and 45 East 66th Street, to create a contemporary and iconic residence and retail building for both the Upper East Side historic district and the Armani brand.”

Marino, 69, founded Peter Marino Architect in 1978 and is well known for his work for arts- and fashion-oriented patrons. One of his early clients was artist Andy Warhol, who hired him to design a renovation of his townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and a home at 860 Broadway for his studio, The Factory.

Marino’s first retail commission was for the owners of Barneys New York, for whom he eventually designed 17 stores in the U. S. and Japan. He has designed stores for Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Chanel, Dior, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, and Ermenegildo Zegna, among others.

The structures facing partial demolition were designed by Scott and Prescott and are described in LPC materials as vernacular buildings in the neo-Federal style. One dates from 1928-29 and the other was built in 1881 and altered in 1929. The applicants are seeking to “modify masonry openings, replace infill, and install a canopy at existing buildings.”

If their plan is approved, the developers say, they expect to begin construction in 2020 and open in 2023. The team has not disclosed a construction budget or name for the building.

An Upper East Side citizens group, Community Board 8, voted on February 20 to support the project. The city’s preservation commission has oversight because the three buildings are part of the Upper East Side Historic District, and any changes to building exteriors there must be approved by the panel. Its hearing is scheduled for March 26 in the LPC offices at 1 Centre Street.

Placeholder Alt Text

Hope for Better Things

Utile envisions a grand, new future for Detroit's Eastern Market
Detroit is often referred to as an example of a city in which citizen effort and innovative design in certain areas have increased the standard of living, despite the city's overall struggles. The Eastern Market district is an example of such uplift. In the five long, 19th-century "sheds" along Russell Street, cafés, local farmer-vendors, jewelers, and Coney Island–style hot dog stands now flank the corridors. Murals on brick brighten up the exterior walls. Jazz musicians and Motown singers play music for guests every Saturday when the markets are at their liveliest. Outside the sheds, there are local coffee companies, clinics, restaurants, and grocery stores. In recent years, the space, a 24-acre plot in the heart of Detroit, has been dramatically revitalized. The bustling marketplaces reflect this. However, it is clear that more effort is needed to make the most of the possibilities the district offers. Today, the Eastern Market's historic core requires both structural and environmental updates. Additionally, an increasing number of visitors means the sheds and surrounding businesses require expansions. In a group effort by the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, the Eastern Market Corporation, and the Nature Conservancy, Boston-based firm Utile, Inc., and Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) have been commissioned to lay out a comprehensive framework for the district and the surrounding neighborhood. In doing so, the district hopes to become a larger center for food distribution. Further goals involve becoming a high-tech hub in order to present more opportunities for employment. Tim Love, principal at Utile, spoke to The Architect's Newspaper about the challenges, plans, and aspirations for the project. The Architect's Newspaper: What were the guidelines for the project and the issues present that the client wants to solve?  Tim Love: The project has two separate but related focus areas: the historic core of the market, centered on the market sheds, and an area targeted for the expansion of food industry businesses to the north and east of the existing market district. The expansion of the market is necessitated by new federal food regulations triggered by the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act and the desire by the City of Detroit to retain and expand the job opportunities provided by the food industry. The plan for the market expansion area required the thoughtful integration of an industrial real estate development strategy with a centralized stormwater management plan. As a result, the Utile/MVVA team needed to test alternative food business building prototypes and the network of open spaces that threaded between the buildings. The design problem was complicated by the need to provide truck access to the food businesses while screening the truck aprons from non-industrial uses on the boundaries of the expanded food industry district. The final recommended urban design strategy, conceived at the block scale, weaves together industrial buildings, stormwater greenways, truck aprons, pedestrian and bicycle-friendly streets, and live/work building types. The net result is an urbanism that acknowledges the need for large-footprint, truck-dependent buildings, but organizes them in a way that makes for a more environmental-friendly and walkable district. The plan for the core market area meets related but slightly different goals. In this case, the preservation of the market sheds and the funky building fabric on the blocks to the east and west of the sheds were identified as a cultural as much as a historic resource. As a result, a set of design guidelines were developed that encourage developers to preserve the existing buildings while allowing for penthouse additions of three to four stories above. To reinforce the existing ad hoc character of the district, we decided to embrace the mismatched stacking of contrasting architectural expressions rather than encourage a more canonical restoration of the historic fabric. Along the Dequindre Cut and Gratiot Avenue, where less of the historic fabric survives, dense residential mixed-use development is proposed. An increase in the local residential population will enliven the public realm, especially in the evening, when Eastern Market is mostly deserted. The twist, in this case, is that fabrication and light manufacturing spaces are encouraged on the ground floor rather than retail. The goal is to encourage smaller-scale food and fabrication businesses that complement the larger-scale facilities being planning in the market expansion area. In addition, favoring fabrication spaces over retail will help steer retail businesses closer to the market sheds, where food-focused retail already benefits from the busy public market. Our team is still working with the city to determine how our plan will be implemented, both in the short- and long-term. Certainly, zoning regulations will be one tool that will be used to shape future private investment. AN: What is the current state of the Eastern Market neighborhood, and where does your team envision it being when your design has been implemented? How will your team’s designs impact Detroit on a city-wide scale? TL: Today, Eastern Market neighborhood is an island of walkable urban fabric within a larger landscape of vacant parcels and auto-centric uses. The economy of the market core is defined by symbiotic relationships between food production, distribution, and retail businesses in close proximity to one another and in connection with larger supply chains. Our goal is to extend the district to accommodate the needs of the modern food industry while introducing a mix of uses that reinforce the public realm and increase both the daytime and evening population. The expansion of the market district will also increase the number of food industry jobs, important in a city where the largest areas of job growth have been in the customer service and retail sectors. The industrial buildings that surround the historic market sheds are not suitable for modern food processing and fabrication. Their floor plates are too small, and their ceilings are too low. And even if they were adequate in size, modern food safety codes make the buildings prohibitively expensive to renovate. To answer the need for modernization, a market expansion area was identified directly to the north and east of the core market where new larger state-of-the-art industrial building can be accommodated. As existing businesses move or expand into new facilities in the expansion area, the core market buildings can be renovated to support a mix of uses, including retail, commercial-office, loft residential, and smaller-scale food startups. New multi-floor rooftop additions are allowed per the design guidelines developed as part of the plan. The additions will increase density in the district and will cross-subsidize the rehabilitation of the lower floors. The expanded market area will both keep existing businesses from leaving the area and will attract new food industry businesses to Detroit. Preserving and enhancing the economic engine of Eastern Market not only creates jobs and generates revenue for the city, but also a strategy for maintaining an authentic working market district. AN: How has the community been involved in the design process? What are some of the features of the final design that allow for and encourage community engagement? TL: We partnered with the City of Detroit and City Form Detroit, a local urban design and planning firm, to craft a comprehensive engagement strategy. The process included well-attended open houses hosted by the city that included short presentations, informal break-out sessions, and visual survey activities. As a sign of the city’s ownership of the process and emerging plan, representatives from the city and the Detroit Economic Growth Council gave the presentations and not members of our team; the first time one of our public agency clients has owned the content early in the planning process!
Placeholder Alt Text

Scaling Through Time

A life-size dollhouse interior at Friedman Benda becomes a disquieting journey across time
It’s not often that one can step into a real-life dollhouse, but Blow Up, the recent exhibition at Friedman Benda, curated by New York-based curator and PIN-UP founder Felix Burrichter and designed by Charlap Hyman & Herrero, offers just that, transforming the gallery into an exercise in feeling out of scale. After spending time in the exhibition (which closed February 16, 2019), you may not only question your own spatial reality, but also your temporal one. The curation of furniture and objects in the exhibition—complemented by its design, which transforms the white box gallery into four rooms arranged in enfilade with walls made out of cardboard panels—will make visitors rightfully question whether it is a scaled-up version of an imaginary world or whether the real world is a scaled-down version of our imagination. In the show’s accompanying publication, Blow Up Diary, edited by Drew Zeiba, exhibition designer Adam Charlap Hyman describes a childhood fascination with miniatures and dollhouses, and explains his attraction to the way “the disconnect between representation, reality, and scale, was confused” in them. This is an obsession in the work of Charlap Hyman and his partner, Andre Herrero, most clearly demonstrated in their contribution to the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial, in which they presented three small shoebox-size models of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé’s Paris apartment at three different stages of packing their art collection for auction at Christie’s. By representing the same space at different points in time, the models foreground the passage of time as another way of understanding an interior space. Ghosted outlines of picture frames taken off the walls accentuate the dust and debris that accumulate around the paintings once they are removed, leaving us with Charlap Hyman’s gouache illustrations of the interior walls of Bergé’s Paris apartment. Blow Up’s conceptual conceit—the collapse and confusion of scale by blowing up a dollhouse interior to life-size in the gallery—is perfectly coherent as a curatorial gesture. But where the exhibition really becomes memorable is in its anachronistic approach to time rather than scale. The exhibition begs the viewer to ask: “Wait, what century are we in?” This chronological dysphoria creates strange combinations of objects, as if each room is host to a tableau of a multigenerational family conversation; these strange adjacencies of time and form produce the most jarring and exciting moments in the show. In the “living room” of the installation we find Leon Ransmeier’s Two Step (2018), a rolled-aluminum lounger that sits directly on the floor, flanked on one side by a pair of Shiro Kuramata’s iconic 1986 steel mesh couches, titled How High the Moon, and Odd Matter’s saccharine pink and purple, amoeba-shaped Guise 5 Spray Coffee Table, the Netherlands, and on the other by Wendell Castle’s bulbous Cloud Form Desk from 1979 and a pair of checkered Sarah Ortmeyer paintings, GRANDMASTER III and GRANDMASTER V, both from 2018, which give the whole thing a slightly Beetlejuice feel. Another subtle hint of time-flattening dysphoria are the gouache “paintings” on the wall, drawn by Charlap Hyman with the same fervent handmade style as his 2017 Chicago Biennial illustrations, but in the style of different artists of the 20th century, from Henri Matisse to Wassily Kandinsky to Paul Klee. If one looks carefully, one also notices the bookshelf in the “living room,” with titles like Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice and a canon of queer literature for the imagined prepubescent doll-house owner. Continuing the contrast in color are Don’t Fold Young Boy, by young designer Dozie Kanu, a piece somewhere between a stepladder and a bookshelf constructed from Rimowa Aluminum sheet and steel, and artist Misha Kahn’s Saturday Morning Series: Tumbling in Turmoil (2018), a silver mirror cast in urethane resin from tensile fabric forms. Artist Camille Henrot’s piece Maso Meet Maso consists of a bulbous purple phone resting on a side table, while in the bedroom another wall-mounted custom telephone piece by Henrot, Dawg Shaming, invites the visitor to pick up the handset and eavesdrop on a conversation between the two phones. The bedroom conjures a Dr. Seuss–like vibe, with the delightfully strange combination of a loopy pink tube bed frame and light, Fruiting Habits, by Jonathan Trayte, covered in a textile piece by Oona Brangam-Snell, titled Grand Baby Bedding Set, which mixes childlike drawings with a repeated pattern reminiscent of a family crest. The bed is accentuated by Gaetano Pesce’s Felt Cabinet lurking in the corner, which faces an understated Ultrasuede bench by Rafael de Cárdenas / Architecture at Large called Untitled (ba ba ba) (2018), a piece that rounds out the generational conversation in the bedroom with its cool, calm poise. Further mash-ups of scale are presented in the “dining room,” with designer Katie Stout’s Tinder Chair and German-Moroccan design duo BNAG’s Toilet Chair and Tubbie Chair—the latter is a scaled-up version of a wooden chair from the 1990s children’s television show Teletubbies, which can be seen as a naive, happy-go-lucky children’s education show or, as in this case, a source of psychedelic inspiration. Milanese architect Luca Cipelletti’s no-nonsense XYZ table anchors the room. Overall, the show illustrates a stark contrast between flamboyant designs from the gallery’s collection and the specially commissioned contemporary pieces, which are relatively restrained and exude a humble quality rather than shouting for attention. While this sounds like a throwback to the stripped-down ethos of the Arte Povera movement, the actual effect is one of newfound sobriety, a coolness that avoids looking sleek and loud in favor of simply fulfilling a function beautifully.
Placeholder Alt Text

Mindful Memorials

Svigals+Partners on designing for 21st-century loss and gun violence
Memorial projects seem to be coming online at a faster pace than ever before due to the fatal events our country has experienced in the last three years. Such rapid production of commemorative architectural spaces appears to immediately bring healing and hope back to the communities and victims where these tragedies have occurred. While it’s more important than ever to honor the countless lives lost from social violence, terrorism, and natural disasters, to Svigals+Partners, the process of memorial creation, sometimes slow and complicated, exposes the heart of the design. The firm recently released renderings of a new memorial garden dedicated to victims of gun violence in New Haven, Connecticut. Led by the company’s Director of Art Integration Marissa Mead and Associate Principal Julia McFadden, the (tentatively-named) Healing Memorial Garden will soon be built at the base of West Rock, a monumental boulder that bounds New Haven. Born from the vision of Marlene Miller Pratt, a school teacher whose son was shot and killed over 20 years ago, the landscape is the result of her many years spent advocating for a communal place to remember her child’s life. She connected Yale University's Urban Resources Initiative and other mothers who’ve suffered similar losses to jumpstart her long-awaited vision. After countless hours of community engagement, Mead and McFadden, the latter of whom was responsible for the redesign of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, discovered that this particular memorial effort has further embedded into them the value of listening. AN spoke with the architects about modern monument design and why they herald conversation and collaboration as the foundation of memorial creation. AN: What drew you both to get involved in this project? Julia McFadden: When this came our way, I was working on a side project—a competition entry for the Sandy Hook Memorial, a tragedy that also resulted from an act of gun violence. I believe experiential design and public art define what a memorial is today, two things Marissa and I specialize in, so this, along with our personal interests, was important to us. I’m also particularly attracted to social justice issues and concerned about the allocation of resources that create economic segregation in neighborhoods, such as unequal community policing. That method was actually born in New Haven and then dropped nationwide, which led to more disproportionate levels of communities of color being sent to jail. Marissa Mead: I’m also interested in creating meaningful environments for people by engaging them in the process and helping to tell stories. As director of art here at Svigals, I aim to create places where we want to be and places where we’re inspired. This has been an ongoing process of raising awareness in the area both about the memorial and education on gun violence. AN: Prior to rethinking designing for school safety at Sandy Hook, had either of you been involved in projects that were birthed out of community tragedy? MM: No, but at our firm, we’ve developed over time a very inclusive and collaborative process for the early stages of our building projects. That’s been hugely successful in school projects. We learned we have to get people together to listen to each other from the start. They need to feel heard and comfortable to share opinions. That’s how we get them to hone in on most important aspirations for the school. AN: What do you both think are the challenges of designing memorials for 21st-century loss? JM: Our impulse to memorialize is a very human kind of thing we’ve seen throughout history. We want to recognize and pay our respects to losses that have occurred by leaving teddy bears and heart balloons at the site of car accidents and house fires. I’m not sure we as a society fully understand what that impulse is all about, but the history of commemorating death is obviously evident with cemeteries and grave sites, which are static tributes. Nowadays, we see through working with people like Marlene that people want these memorials to be interactive.   Today’s memorials dedicated to these types of loss are different than say, memorials around war. Those are typically planned as we expect death from war. I think historically Maya Lin’s Vietnam War Memorial shifted the purpose of what a memorial could serve since the deaths exceeded what was initially projected. The challenges of designing around tragic events today are that we’re constantly trying to balance transitory commemoration versus more permanent sculptures set in place. To me, what leads us to build a permanent memorial is the communal need to remember something for a longer period of time. There must be a recognition that there’s a lesson to be had for current and future generation in memorializing this subject. It must find greater purpose and promote a larger message that has meaning for a broad range of people to tap into some larger universal themes. AN: What about designing memorials that honor America's harsh past years after the fact? MM: A hurdle in highlighting more historic issues is that perceptions may be challenged. People should be encouraged to recognize that the history they’ve learned may be incomplete. It takes some time to get past the layers of defensiveness and/or shame and arrive at acknowledgment. Acknowledging the past is a mechanism that helps us more fully understand the present, so we can begin collectively to heal from painful, even catastrophic, events. In the case of the Newport Middle Passage Port Marker Project, which I’m helping with, a driving reason to create a memorial is to bring stories to light which have been previously hidden. Newport, along with nearly all other major ports in the eastern U.S., has not publicly acknowledged how the city built its staggering wealth. Rhode Island alone participated in the trafficking of over 100,000 enslaved individuals, and the proud historic buildings of Newport were made possible by the trade of human beings. But these truths are not at all evident in the city. It’s an incomplete history, which leads to an incomplete understanding of the continuing impact that slavery has on our communities. A theme repeated in the visioning workshop I helped lead for the Middle Passage committee is that injustice is not was. There is work to be done. AN: We’ve noticed many memorial projects announced in the last year, some of which have fast-paced construction goals. What do you think about this newfound attention to both memorial commissions and competitions? JM: To me, the process is and can often be the point of memorial making. If a project moves too fast or doesn’t get the right input, you’re going to miss some major opportunities and the memorial will have a stifled response that isn’t fully formed. The best memorials create a visceral bodily experience that doesn’t depend on reading a plaque. You feel something because your senses are engaged, and I think it takes a long-term input process to solicit the needs of the community you’re designing for. With the Healing Memorial Garden, we’ve been really conscious about what you’d see, hear, feel, and smell on the site. Through a variety of design components, we want people to connect to the memorial through both their head and their heart. MM: That’s not easily achieved if we don’t know the emotions people want to be expressed through the design. If the design happens in a vacuum, it’s the wrong design. It’s short-changing that front end of memorial making which really is so critical. I truly believe grief compels people into action—they want to be involved. While the final, completed memorial might be the ultimate goal, the journey to get there is healing in its own way. That’s why I think when a memorial project comes online, the commissioning team would start a qualifications-based solicitation process of designers, instead of a full-fledged competition. That way designers are chosen based on their merits and experience, as well as their knowledge of a community, and willingness to truly understand what those people are going through.
Placeholder Alt Text

In Memoriam

Lithuanian-born environmental artist and designer Aleksandra Kasuba passes
Aleksandra Kasuba, a Lithuanian-born environmental artist and designer responsible for numerous public art commissions in the 1970s and 1980s as well as pioneering environments made of tensile fabrics, died on March 5 in New Mexico. Kasuba originally intended to be an architect, but with the University of Kaunas closed by the occupying Nazi regime, she enrolled in art school until that too was shuttered. Fleeing with her art teacher and future husband, sculptor Vytautas Kašuba, she wound up in a Displaced Persons’ Camp in Germany until they were allowed to emigrate to the United States in 1947. Possessed with a restless curiosity, Kasuba sought out every opportunity to learn more about visual art, attending the famous Four O’clock Forums held by Louise Nevelson while developing a practice in mosaic and tile to supplement her husband’s income. At a show of hers in the Waddell Gallery in 1965, Edward Larrabee Barnes approached her and asked if she would work in brick. Seizing the opportunity, she deduced how to represent the invisible forces of structure in brick wall relief and launched a successful line of large-scale works, such as the wall at Barnes’s 1971 Dining Hall at Rochester Institute of Technology, a brick relief at 560 Lexington Avenue for the Eggers Group, and a wall at 7 World Trade Center which was destroyed in the 9/11 attacks. At the same time, Kasuba continued her experimentation with materials, shaping light and shadow with lucite for the seminal Experiments in Art and Technology exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in 1968 and the Art and Technology program at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. A breakthrough came when she found she could make tensile structures out of synthetic fabrics. Just as she sought to represent the structural forces in her brick walls, she made visible the forces flowing through the fabric. Among her noted achievements with fabric were her 1971 Live-In Environment, in which she erased any traces of 90-degree angles in a floor of her West 90th Street townhouse, creating a space for contemplation and creativity. In 1973, she was commissioned by the Carborundum Museum of Ceramics in Niagara Falls to build an environment for the display of ceramics. In 1975, she realized The Spectral Passage at the De Young Museum in San Francisco, composed of seven structures, relating form to color. Inspired by this show, she devised Spectrum, An Afterthought, which would be revisited at the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius in 2014 (a retrospective of her will open there in 2020). Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Kasuba continued research with curvilinear walls, experimenting with how tensile membranes might be made rigid and self-supporting. After the death of her husband, she moved to New Mexico where she built a traditionally framed house in the desert together with two prototype shell structures. In these, she stretched wire between wooden frames as a base that she covered with building materials and aluminum surfacing. Kasuba was also a prolific author, producing a series of books on her life, utopian communities, and reflections on creativity. She is survived by her daughter, two grandsons, sixteen great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandson. Her archive is at the Archives of American Art in Washington, D.C.
Placeholder Alt Text

Mall of America

The Hirshhorn Museum's Sculpture Garden set for a Hiroshi Sugimoto overhaul
A year after the Japanese artist and architect Hiroshi Sugimoto completed his renovation of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden lobby in Washington, D.C., the museum has approved a sweeping redevelopment of the sculpture garden. A unanimous vote by the museum’s board of trustees this morning to advance the renovation was the culmination of two years of design studies on how the space could be better utilized. Sugimoto and his design team, the Tokyo-based New Material Research Laboratory Co., Ltd, and Brooklyn’s Yun Architecture have proposed further opening up the Gordon Bunshaft–designed garden to the National Mall. The sunken sculpture garden is currently difficult to see from the outside and receives little shade. Bunshaft had originally designed a larger, sprawling garden that followed the width of the Mall and featured a larger reflecting pool, but his ambitious design was cut down. The garden was originally opened in 1974 and was last updated following a 1981 renovation courtesy landscape architect Lester Collins. In the revised scheme for the garden, Sugimoto has proposed replacing the garden’s central patch of lawn with a reflecting pool. New trees, the aforementioned Mall entrance, and a reopening of the underground passage to the Hirshhorn’s plaza (part of Bunshaft’s original design) have also been included. “This project creates a ‘front door’ for the Hirshhorn on the National Mall,” said Hirshhorn board chair Dan Sallick. “I can think of no better way to expand our mission than by creating a 21st-century outdoor space for sculpture and performance that will become a beacon for many more visitors.” The Washington, D.C.–based Quinn Evans Architects will serve as the executive architect, and Rhodeside & Harwell Inc. in Alexandria, Virginia, will act as landscape architects. A public consultation meeting, where the museum will further update the public on the project’s finer details, will be scheduled for some time in the near future. After that, the garden renovation must pass muster with the National Capital Planning Commission and the Commission on Fine Arts. No timetable or budget for the garden’s overhaul have been made public yet.
Placeholder Alt Text

SAVE THE EGG

Historic Oklahoma City "Egg Church" is in danger of being demolished
The Egg Church. The Church of Tomorrow. An “honest architecture” that’s forever contemporary. Since its opening around Christmas in 1956, these are a few phrases that have been used to describe First Christian Church, a historic, organic modernist building in Oklahoma City. Designed by the then-young local firm, Conner & Pojezny, the 32-acre project quickly became a state treasure and was lauded as a major engineering feat by Life Magazine, Newsweek, and Architectural Record. The dramatic, concrete domed church—which has a mid-century Jetsons look—is newly in danger as its current owners aim to sell it to a buyer with plans to demolish the community icon. Oklahoma’s News 4 reported that dozens of demonstrators crowded outside First Christian Church last week in protest. Those in attendance included the executive director of Preservation Oklahoma and members of Okie Mod Squad, a group led by one of the church's architect's granddaughters, Lynne Rostochil. Representatives told News 4 they’re worried the building might be knocked down once it's successfully sold; the property went on the market in 2016 and only recently snagged attention from buyers when the asking price was drastically lowered from $8.2 million to $5.65 million. The broker behind the sale hopes it'll become a mixed-use development.  Many mid-century structures around Oklahoma City have come under threat in recent years. One of those was Founders National Bank, a Bob Bowlby–designed structure that boasted two, 50-foot exterior arches, It was leveled last October. Like R. Duane Conner and Fred Pojezny, who designed First Christian Church, Bowlby came out of an era in which architectural education in Oklahoma was transforming the industry. Bowlby studied at the University of Oklahoma under the direction of famous American architect Bruce Goff who was internationally known for his expressive, organic designs and for creating an innovative program with the school’s architecture department. Because of Goff's widespread influence, as well as the work coming out of Oklahoma A&M where Conner and Pojezny graduated, the city benefited from a slew of forward-thinking pieces of architecture, many of which have just surpassed or are nearing historic-designation age, meaning they’re potentially endangered if not in use. In order to protect First Christian Church, a Change.org petition started by Okie Mod Squad has been circulating that urges city council members to officially landmark the building, a designation that would require future development on the site to go through a public approvals process. Rostochil noted in a February post that thought the building was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011, this “in no way protects it from being demolished.” The move only now qualifies it for tax credits to repurpose or restore the structure.   The efforts of the “Save the Egg” protestors have resulted in a city council meeting happening on Tuesday, according to News 4, where local lawmakers will discuss whether or not the church can potentially be declared a landmark. If identified as such by the Historic Preservation Commission, then the new buyer would not be able to make significant changes to its original design without prior approval from the city's Historic Preservation Commission. The protections would include the entirety of the Edgemere Park property, not just the iconic, egg-shaped main sanctuary. Conner and Pojezny designed three additional structures on the church’s campus, including a four-story education building and a small fine arts complex known as the Jewel Box Theatre, the city’s oldest, continuously-operating community playhouse. It took the architects three separate tries over several years to come up with the current design for the $2.1 million development, which the church’s renowned minister, Bill Alexander, wanted to be a “Church for Tomorrow.” In an old newspaper clipping cited on Okcmod.com, the design team said they aimed to take a “decided departure from conventional church construction” by building an “honest architecture” that would make it forever contemporary.  For residents in Oklahoma City, not only does First Christian Church reflect the history and character of the region’s modern architectural landscape, but it also serves as a place of spiritual solace and refuge in tough times. In October of 1995, families gathered there after a terrorist struck a downtown federal building, killing 168 people and injuring over 600 others. The bombing remains one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in U.S. history and to many locals, First Christian Church stands as a memorial to community healing.
Placeholder Alt Text

See, Ranch

Sea Ranch comes alive in a new exhibition in San Francisco
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) examines one of the earliest innovations in environmentally conscious development in its current exhibition, The Sea Ranch: Architecture, Environment, and Idealism. The show chronicles the history of the development at an extraordinary site along a ten-mile stretch of the Pacific Coast, where steep cliffs and coastal bluffs have eroded into layers of marine terraces to frame the luminous and moody ocean below. The story of Sea Ranch begins with the acquisition of the site by the developer, Al Boeke, who obtained the working sheep ranch for Oceanic Properties, a division of Castle & Cooke, a real estate company. Boeke, who had worked with Richard Neutra, was also an architect and saw an opportunity to do something different. He recruited Harvard-trained landscape architect Lawrence Halprin to develop the master plan, as well as a roster of architects, including Joseph Esherick, the firm of MLTW (Charles Moore, Donlyn Lyndon, William Turnbull Jr., and Richard Whitaker), Obie G. Bowman, and others to participate. Halprin’s master plan would not only define the design aesthetic for Sea Ranch, but would also challenge the cookie-cutter approach to planned communities that had emerged throughout the U.S. after World War II. Halprin, who had spent childhood summers on a kibbutz near Haifa, Israel, envisioned a community based on collaboration and shared community. People would “live lightly on the land,” as the indigenous Pomo people, the first inhabitants of this land, did. The curators of the exhibition included photos of dance workshops choreographed by Halprin’s wife, the modern dance pioneer Anna Halprin. These photos, combined with Halprin’s diagrams of the “Sea Ranch Ecoscore,” situate the development, in part, as a period piece of the 1960s, echoing a freewheeling West Coast lifestyle. However, the exhibition clears up any misimpressions of Sea Ranch as primarily a social development with utopian yearnings, making clear that its main subject has always been design and its relationship to the land. If a certain taste and ideas about light, color, and detail distinguish the Sea Ranch design, it is because these were born out of the designers’ sensitivity to climate and place. The slope of a shed roof deflects the wind, and a courtyard creates protected shared spaces. A bay window protrudes to capture a view, and hedgerows are planted as natural wind breaks. The meadows are left open, and houses are set back from the edge of the cliffs, creating a communal landscape. Details matter too. Buildings are clad in unfinished wood that is allowed to fade to natural gray. Skylights puncture the roofs of cabins to capture sky views of the redwood forest. Donlyn Lyndon noted, “We wanted to make buildings part of the land, rather than buildings that sat on the land.” Sketches, drawings, and pages from the designers’ notebooks line the walls and tables of the gallery. These works include the original master plan and concept sketches by Halprin and work by the architects, such as Joe Esherick’s scheme for the General Store and MLTW’s plans for the modules for Condominium One, conceived of as a kit-of-parts. Scale models of Moonraker Athletic Center, Unit 9 in Condominium One, Cluster Houses A, and the Hedgerow Houses were fabricated by architecture students at the University of California, Berkeley. At the center of the gallery, a 1:1 scale partial construction of Unit 9 of Condominium 1, designed by MLTW in 1965, has a soaring loft, built-in benches, and a sleek but cozy feel. It is easy to imagine an afternoon stretched out on the long bench with a book, looking out at the churning sea. Inside the mock-up, a video presents interviews of many of the original players. Donlyn Lyndon, Mary Griffin, Obie Bowman, Anna Halprin, graphic designer Barbara Stauffacher Solomon, and others recall their impressions, debating whether the dream was deferred or lives on. Hard lessons were learned. A growing awareness of coastal access emerged in the early days of the development. Negotiations followed between the developers and the newly formed California Coastal Commission. The Sea Ranch ceded land to create six public trails. This fight stalled momentum for a decade, and the project shrank in size from its original plat map for 5,200 individual building sites to around 1,700. As a result of the complications around coastal access, sales fell off. Critics saw the development as out of touch, elite, and fuel-intensive, as it is accessible only by car along Highway 1. Getting there meant driving or maybe flying, and once there, there were few retail shops or services. In the video, Lyndon noted, “The myth is that it fell apart, which isn’t entirely true. The truth is that it needs reaffirmation…” The reaffirmation may have appeared in the form of this exhibition. As a powerful and immersive museum experience, a moment in American architecture is captured when ideology, talent, and opportunity converged. Once seen, it would be difficult to dismiss the poetic quality of the Sea Ranch site and the elegiac response of its developers and designers, who allowed the nature of what is there to take form. While setbacks may have colored its utopian vision, they did not negate the project’s importance in the pantheon of American design. From Sea Ranch, designers will continue to glean lessons about building within landscapes, respecting and protecting the natural character of a place, and designing houses that suit their sites, climate, and inhabitants. The Sea Ranch: Architecture, Environment, and Idealism is on view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, through April 28, 2019.
Placeholder Alt Text

Second Life

Peter Eisenman's Cidade da Cultura buzzes back to life
On a recent early morning visit to Peter Eisenman's Cidade da Cultura I found not one, but two cafés open and buzzing with the chatter of government administrators and entrepreneurial types getting ready to start their workdays. In Spain, and in particular in Galicia, the northwest region where Cidade is located, cafes are the most reliable measure of civic life. Even the smallest village will have its one café-bar (it is common for the same establishment to function as both), where Galicians gather to share gossip and life stories (Galicians are great storytellers). It’s not entirely unreasonable to refer to Cidade as a village—it is after all a “city” of culture, its site, at 173 acres, larger than the Vatican. And like any city, it has had its share of political and economic imbroglios. Not too long ago, the project was left for dead after failing to meet promises to be “the Bilbao of Galicia,” an iconic building that would bring both cultural and economic success to the city and region. In 2015, an article in La Voz de Galicia, a regional newspaper, declared that “not even the Apostle can save it,” alluding to the reputed burial place of Saint James in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The old city is an important Catholic pilgrimage site, second only to the Vatican, and Cidade da Cultura was supposed to be another stop for the couple of million visitors that make their way to Santiago de Compostela every year. Indeed, in 2015 it seemed that only a miracle could save the project. Galicia’s government commissioned this ambitious six-building project in 1999 when Spain was going through a real estate boom (Spain is divided in autonomous regions, and so it’s the regional government that makes budget allocation decisions). But by the time the first two buildings opened in 2011, the boom had ended and the project was an easy target—why build such a large, expensive complex when resources are scarce? Construction of the project was eventually halted, leaving behind four largely empty buildings and two “caries,” or cavities where the two missing teeth should be. But Cidade is no longer empty and things are looking up. There are many outdoor events in the fair weather months between April and September, the surrounding ramped surfaces of the roofs forming a kind of amphitheater for the performances in the center. And all year round there are employees from both public and private entities working in Cidade, the people that keep those two cafes in business. When I met with Cidade’s director Ana Isabel Vázquez Reboredo, she reiterated what she had previously stated in interviews since she started in this position two years ago, that her goal is to make Cidade into a resource for the entire region of Galicia, not just the city of Santiago de Compostela where it’s located. Santiago de Compostela is the famous pilgrimage city, and Cidade has become a kind of architecture pilgrimage for students and architects. A new highway entrance promises to make the project more accessible to national and international visitors. Cidade is now a fifteen-minute drive from the airport, and from there, Madrid is a one-hour flight and Paris and London only two hours away. Twenty years on, two of its buildings remain unbuilt, but both its plaza and the four buildings already completed are vibrantly inhabited. There are many outdoor performances in the fair-weather months between April and September, the surrounding ramped surfaces of the roofs forming a kind of amphitheater for the performances in the center. There are also employees from both public and private entities working in Cidade, the people that keep those two cafés I mentioned earlier in business. The project is being used, but much of the original programming has changed. For example, the “Hemeroteca,” or newspaper archive, had originally been given its own building but is now housed in the library. What was originally the Hemeroteca is now the “Centro de Emprendemento,” a business incubator facility. And how does the architect feel about this? In a recent conversation with Peter Eisenman in his office in New York, he was excited to see the spaces in his project utilized in new ways. “The idea of the project was always to offer a framework for new cultural ideas that are constantly emerging,” he said. The project is a case study in the complexities of a large project that has to negotiate local, regional, and international socio-cultural and socio-political concerns. Is the project benefiting the people already living in Santiago de Compostela? Can the region of Galicia feel ownership of this project even though it’s tied so closely, in both location and design, to one city? And how do you get there? One westernmost coastal town in Galicia, Finisterre, was the Roman Empire’s “end of the earth,” and even today getting there still feels like a pilgrimage, completed only by the most faithful. The undulating hilly landscape that makes Galicia so picturesque is also what makes it impossible to get anywhere in a straight line. The A-9 highway wraps around the Gaiás hill where Cidade is located like a ribbon, and driving to it I felt like I was engaged in some baroque dance with it, moving around it in arcs at one hundred kilometers an hour until finally arriving, if not at the end of the earth, at the culmination of a worthy pilgrimage. Maria Sieira is an architect based in New York City. She worked for Eisenman Architects on the Cidade da Cultura during its design development. Currently, she teaches architecture at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and in the Compostela Institute summer program in Spain.