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Uncharted territory

SFMOMA celebrates moon landing with a Far Out space-inspired exhibit

In celebration of the semicentennial of the moon landing,  the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is holding an exhibition on space-related design that promises to be out-of-this-world. Far Out: Suits, Habs, and Labs for Outer Space opened on July 20th, 50 years to the day after Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the lunar surface, and contains a variety of space suits, hypothetical space habitats, and moon-based laboratory designs.

The objects on display range in practicality from the tried-and-true to the downright quixotic. There are NASA spacesuits designed for real-life astronauts, as well as examples of Neri Oxman’s organically-grown, biomimetic work. Working with the Mediated Matter research group at MIT, she created a wearable that uses a photosynthetic membrane to convert sunlight into usable microbial material for its user. While the device has yet to be taken into outer space, its potential implications for the feasibility of long-term space travel earned it a spot in the exhibit.

Much of the work on display at SFMOMA is decidedly architectural. Architectural illustrator Rick Guidice's renderings of his Bernal Spheres and Toroidal Colonies, originally produced for NASA, depict suburban housing developments and agricultural landscapes as they might one day exist in free-floating space colonies. The exhibition also includes Mars Ice House, a collaborative project by Clouds Architecture Office (Clouds AO) and Space Exploration Architecture (SEArch) for NASA’s Centennial Challenge Mars Habitat Competition. In its design for a four-person habitat to be placed on the surface of Mars, the team proposed a 3-D printed structure that would be covered in a layer of ice to shield it from the planet’s harsh weather conditions. Visualizations of the design can be viewed in the exhibit, which will be on display through January 20, 2020.

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Posthumous Collaborations

Adam Yarinsky reflects on ARO’s work in spaces originally shaped by Donald Judd and Mark Rothko
Actual space is intrinsically more powerful and specific than paint on a flat surface. Donald Judd I have made a place. Mark Rothko Architects often say that the best clients are those who are most collaborative, but what if your client died decades ago? I think of our restorations of 101 Spring Street, Donald Judd’s home in New York City, and the Rothko Chapel in Houston as case studies in posthumous collaboration. At these remarkable sites, Judd and Rothko expanded the physical boundaries of sculpture and painting by creating carefully calibrated spatial relationships between art and its context. When we experience these places, we gain greater awareness of ourselves, of our connection to other people and the world around us. Yet the passage of time diminished their qualities, as the conditions needed to appreciate them changed. Sensitively engaging these sites required untangling a web of aesthetic, philosophical, administrative, technical, and constructional questions. Through our research-based methodology, we gathered and analyzed information (including archival documentation), conducted interviews, analyzed historical and existing conditions, and synthesized the work of specialists. This established the basis of a rigorous, iterative design process that aimed to yield a holistic strategy. Ultimately, our challenge as architects was to reconcile the artists’ original intentions with the ongoing missions of the cultural organizations that perpetuate their legacies. Preservation and access The space surrounding my work is crucial to it: As much thought has gone into the installation as into a piece itself. —Donald Judd We first encountered this unusual design problem when we were responsible for the restoration of 101 Spring Street, the five-story 1870 mercantile building that Judd occupied from 1968 to 1994. Here, he made what came to be known as his permanently installed spaces: site-specific installations of his art and that of his peers. He modified the cast-iron building and added new elements to create an unprecedented interaction between art and daily life. In the years following his untimely death, the deterioration of the building compromised Judd’s work and the Judd Foundation’s mission—on top of the fact that the building did not have a certificate of occupancy. Working closely over eight years with representatives of the foundation, we preserved the authentic experience Judd intended. Paradoxically, this required extensive modern technical infrastructure, such as fire suppression and life-safety systems, without which public access would not be possible. Completed in 2013, the painstaking effort touched nearly every part of the building, but the project’s success is measured by the extent to which our presence disappears in service of Judd’s vision. Contemplation and action We have here both a chapel and a monument; a place for worship and a memorial to a great leader. The association of these two remarkable sites should tell us over and over again that spiritual life and active life should remain united. —Dominique de Menil A current project, presently in construction, is the restoration of the Rothko Chapel and new architecture that supports the chapel’s expanded public programming. The Rothko Chapel is both a place and a program, comprising the union of patrons John and Dominique de Menil’s ecumenism and egalitarianism with Mark Rothko’s aspiration to create deep emotional connections through the immersive experience of his art. The chapel building, completed in 1971, is a locus for spiritual enlightenment through meditation in a space Rothko defined through the integration of 14 monumental painted panels with their architectural context. The adjacent reflecting pool and Barnett Newman’s sculpture Broken Obelisk, dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr., symbolize the chapel’s mission to act as a platform for social justice through its programming, which promotes dialogue between people. The dialectic between contemplation and action, which is integral to the chapel’s institutional and architectural identity, is the basis of our design strategy. In this sense, we engage the de Menils as collaborators, too. Restoring the sense of awe A picture lives by companionship, expanding and quickening in the eyes of the sensitive observer. —Mark Rothko Our goal for the chapel restoration is to reinstate a sense of awe in each guest along with a recognition of self, which is the basis of the chapel’s social mission. This self-recognition is constituted from the experience of Rothko’s interior, an octagonal space formed by his paintings, which are portals into voids of fluctuating opacity, color, and reflectivity illuminated by a central skylight. Although he determined all the key attributes of the chapel (prevailing over the wishes of Philip Johnson, who designed the building with Howard Barnstone and Eugene Aubry), Rothko never visited Houston and died before it was completed. Choosing daylight as the primary source of illumination, he did not anticipate the harsh Texas sun, which immediately began to damage the paintings and weaken the qualities that he had so rigorously studied in his New York studio. During the decades following the opening of the chapel, three attempts to block and filter daylight with baffles did not successfully address the need to control glare and brightness. The most significant element of the restoration is an innovative lighting strategy developed by George Sexton, which opens the interior space as it was originally conceived. This includes a new skylight with an array of angled louvers, each precisely oriented to distribute daylight more evenly to Rothko’s panels. When daylight is lower than needed to see the paintings, such as on a very cloudy day or at dusk, eight digital projectors concealed in a ring around the skylight provide subtle additional illumination. Other changes, including a redesigned entry sequence, will greatly improve the quality of the experience. Mediating between the chapel and the neighborhood …a reconciliation between the ordinary and the extraordinary in a dialectical relationship… —Stephen Fox The new architecture for the chapel is grounded in both the singular power of its building and the unique character of the surrounding early-20th-century residential neighborhood, but does not overwhelm either of these contexts. This maintains the de Menils’ vision—the essence of the chapel’s identity as a program—to situate the sacred within daily life. A new landscape precinct, designed in collaboration with Nelson Byrd Woltz, is created by the removal of adjacent houses occupied by the chapel and the addition of new planting, paths, and plaza pavement. This affirms the chapel’s presence as a freestanding element within the larger open space shared with adjacent Menil Park on a block framed by a necklace of bungalows. Across Sul Ross Street, a new north campus comprises a welcome house, program center, and an administration and archive building that together define a public courtyard, which opens to the street. The scale and massing of these elements echo those of the adjacent residences, further bridging the neighborhood and the chapel. With glass walls shaded by a generous wood trellis, the porchlike welcome house is a resting place along the journey to and from the chapel. The program center, which includes a two-hundred-person meeting room, is pushed to the back of the courtyard to establish a buffer against larger development to the north. The administration and archive building aligns with the width and height of the chapel, which also sets the height of the program center. The architectural expression of the north campus extends the site strategy. The simple building forms echo the chapel’s mass and are clad in gray wood siding that relates to the existing bungalows, which are all painted gray. This vertical and horizontal board-and-batten detailing provides a play of shadows, which integrates the architecture with the dappled light that passes through the tree canopy. A large, shaded glass wall visually connects the program center’s meeting room to the courtyard and the chapel across the street. The meeting room, whose outward-looking public orientation contrasts with the chapel’s inward focus, is defined by simply spanning laminated wood beams, gray plaster walls (which match the chapel), and a wood floor. It is equipped with concealed technical infrastructure to support a variety of events, including lectures, symposia, banquets, and workshops. The north wall of the meeting room is illuminated by a continuous skylight, which brightens the interior and enables views into the space from outside. Unity …one person is a unity, and somehow, after the long complex process, a work of art is a similar unity. —Donald Judd I have created a new kind of unity, a new method of achieving unity. —Mark Rothko The restoration of 101 Spring Street and the restoration and expansion of the Rothko Chapel are deeply informed by our engagement with both posthumous and living collaborators (including the artists’ children). Sometimes our work is invisible; often there are prominent new elements. Ultimately, everything is shaped by our judgment. We seek a reciprocity between existing and new architecture, a complex layering that balances deference and distinction. These projects inform our other current work, including the design of a new visitor center for Olana, the painter Fredric Church’s property in upstate New York, and the Dia Art Foundation’s spaces in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood. Judd and Rothko used the word “unity” in describing their aspirations for art that encompasses the fullness of humanity’s relationship to the world. Dominique de Menil expressed her conviction that “spiritual life and active life should remain united.” Through these projects, we learned that inquiry and invention, grounded in empathy and humility, unite architecture with its past, present, and future cultural contexts. Adam Yarinsky is a principal at ARO.
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Wright On Time

$50 million restoration of Buffalo estate designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is finally complete
On July 22, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that a two-decade, $50 million restoration of a significant Frank Lloyd Wright urban estate in Buffalo is finally complete, including the Martin House. Wright completed the complex for Darwin D. Martin, the head of the Larkin Soap Company, in 1905. The buildings on-site include the Martin House, which is connected to a glass conservancy via a 100-foot-long glass pergola, as well as the Barton House, a residence for Martin's sister and her family. A carriage house and a gardener's house (added in 1908) are integrated into the estate via formal English gardens that merge with more naturalistic landscape elements. While work on the homes wrapped last year, the restoration of the one-and-a-half–acre grounds was completed just this month. Bayer Landscape Architecture, a firm based in Honeoye Falls, near Rochester, led the project. Its most significant undertaking was the remake of the floricycle, an intricate scheme of 20,000 plantings that radiated out from the Martin House in a series of nesting hyperbolas. Originally, the bulbs, trees, and shrubs were spaced to provide visual interest from March through November as they grew and bloomed in a rhythm. The firm also redid the formal decorative border around the pergola and beefed up the grounds' plantings to revive the outdoor "rooms" and the wild-by-design clumps of shrubs and trees that had faded over the years. Bayer worked with the City of Buffalo to coordinate street tree planting along Jewett Parkway and Summit Avenue, the two roads that abut the property. Wayfinding, lighting, and a new cafe area rounded out the landscape improvements. The project is part of New York State's Buffalo Billion, an economic development initiative that targets the metro area. "The Darwin Martin House is one of Western New York's most iconic attractions," Cuomo said in a press release. "The restoration of the historic landscape is an outstanding addition to this important piece of Buffalo's growing architectural tourism industry." In the same release, Kevin R. Malchoff, president of the Martin House board, noted that the property is the first work of 20th-century architecture among the state's 36 historic sites. Overall, the preservation effort was funded by the National Historic Landmark Program and New York State Historic Site, with New York State kicking in $29 million, a little over half of the total project cost.
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A Ring of Green

West 8 will redesign 11 miles of South Baltimore's waterfront
Dutch firm West 8 has beat out James Corner Field Operations and Hargreaves Jones for the chance to create an 11-mile-long stretch of parkland in South Baltimore. The winning proposal from the studio's New York office was chosen as part of the Middle Branch Waterfront Revitalization Competition, a city-backed plan to reengage locals with an underutilized section of the Patapsco River shoreline.  Located east of Westport and south of Port Covington across the river, the waterfront spanning from the existing Middle Branch Park will be expanded in the surrounding bay into a landscaped linear strip for recreational activities and observing wildlife. West 8 will partner with local teams from Mahan Rykiel and Moffat & Nichol on the multi-phase project, and figure out the best strategies to build a new green ring around the waterfront filled with piers, boardwalks, and other structures for performances and group gatherings.  Per the proposal, future phases will include converting the 103-year-old, Beaux Arts-style Hanover Street Bridge, which connects Middle Branch to Port Covington, into parkland as well. A new car-centric bridge will be built stretching from the planned Under Armour campus to Brooklyn, instead of Cherry Hill where Middle Branch Park is located. An artificial island will be built underneath it in the middle of the bay.  SouthBmore.com reported that in order to create this large ring of land, West 8 will redistribute dredge from a port nearby and place it further up the bay where it will eventually help form marshlands and other wetland ecologies. This move, according to Brad Rogers, executive director of the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership, will help build an attractive waterfront for the South Baltimore community—one that could boost its economy like the other built-out improvements at Inner Harbor and Fells Point.  West 8 also aims to build a trail system that loops from Middle Branch Park to Westport Meadows and across Ridgeley’s Cove. A decrepit bridge there could possibly be made into a pedestrian-only thoroughfare as well, providing access to Swan Park in Port Covington.  For further context, the entire site sits south of M&T Bank Stadium and is close to the core of downtown Baltimore. A masterplan to revamp the Middle Branch area has been in the works since 2007, and the competition to redesign the waterfront started last summer, under the helm of the city-supported Parks and People Foundation.
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In Memoriam

Superstudio cofounder Cristiano Toraldo di Francia dies at 78
Italian architect Cristiano Toraldo di Francia, master drawer, and cofounder of famed 1960s and ’70s collective Superstudio, has died at the age of 78. Best known for starting the radical design firm while studying at the University of Florence with partner Adolfo Natalini, Toraldo di Francia was a catalyst for the radical architecture movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Though the group built very little, it excelled in creating avant-garde narratives and installations for major exhibitions as well as producing highly-regarded drawings, videos, and lithographs. Superstudio’s influential architectural research, design, objects, and theoretical work were featured in both the Milan Triennale, the Venice Biennale (several times), and at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as well as the Design Museum in London, among others. Several international museums have acquired their work over the years including the Centre Pompidou and the MAXXI in Rome. In 1972, Superstudio was invited by curator Amelio Ambasz to participate in its first U.S. showcase, Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Though the collective fell apart by 1980, its effect on the architectural profession was huge. It’s said that Superstudio’s penchant for imagining outrageous mega-structures majorly shaped the design minds of Rem Koolhaas and Zaha Hadid. In the early 70s, Koolhaas focused his final thesis at the Architectural Association of London on the Florentine group. Born in 1941, Toraldo di Francia also became a respected Italian architect, author, and educator in his own right in Italy. After Superstudio broke up, he continued to work independently in Florence and eventually in Filottrano, Italy. Some of his major projects include designing the Livorno waterfront, the Florence Statuto Railway Station, the San Paolo di Prato Banking Institute, and the Banca del Chianti headquarters in San Casciano Val di Pesa. Arguably one of his best and most controversial designs was the La Pensilina di Santa Maria Novella that served as a bus and taxi terminal adjacent to the 1932 Florence train station. Inspired by the striped patterning added to the facade and interior of the Santa Maria Novella church by Leon Battista Alberti in the 15th century, Toraldi di Francia made his elongated pensilina structure just as radical with skylights and ample marble material. It was built in 1990 ahead of the World Cup but later became inhospitable and dysfunctional. It was eventually dismantled by The Renzi government in 2010. In addition to designing, Toraldo di Francia taught and lectured at a number of universities Europe, the United States, and Japan. He was a founding faculty member of the architectural school at the University of Camerino in 1992. He worked there regularly until transitioning to the role of adjunct professor in 2011. A memorial is planned for the architect possibly this Thursday. Peter Lang and AN’s editor-in-chief William Menking wrote a book on Toraldi di Francia, his colleagues, and the Superstudio collective, Superstudio: Life Without Objects, which was published in 2003. Lang will follow up this initial obituary with a longer, more in-depth piece.
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Invasion of The Supertalls

A new breed of skyscraper threatens to devastate the fabric of New York
Imagine arriving at the Sheep Meadow in Central Park intending to lie on a blanket in the warm afternoon sun, as you have done many times before, only to find that there is no sunshine anymore. It has been blocked by a new tower just to the west more than twice the height of any building around it, including the 55-story Time Warner Center several blocks away. You look around and notice that more than half of the 15-acre lawn where you used to bask in sunlight is now in shadow. The greatest urban park in this country is directly threatened by those who see it only from a distance. Just as Capability Brown cleared long vistas in front of grand estates, new Excessively Tall buildings turn Central Park into a landscape framed from above. As a result of these new giants, in a few years Central Park may well be unrecognizable and barren—like much of our environment, dying off and becoming extinct. Our built environment, one that we architects designed, will have mortally damaged an Olmsted and Vaux masterpiece. The irony is that the new Excessively Talls (ETs), jacked up on stilts or interspersed with large and repetitive mechanical voids to increase their height over adjacent buildings and secure desirable park views, may ultimately lose their picturesque vistas. These multimillion-dollar investments may be responsible for the measured obliteration of New York City’s world-renowned park. Developers whose new, faster construction methods have accelerated the emergence of a building type catering to the superrich have now launched insidious advertising campaigns showing off the “new” New York: a thicket of gleaming skinny towers. None of these projects have affordable units. Their ads boast park and river views from altitudes of 600 feet and higher (not all ETs are Supertalls, defined by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat as towers measuring over 984 feet high). But the parks they showcase, Central Park first among them, will continue to exist in name only. No bucolic pasture will remain in the Sheep Meadow, the carousel will be too cold to enjoy, the ball fields unplayable (grass dies in the dark), Wollman Rink gloomy and windy, Tavern on the Green in shadow all afternoon. The New York City Marathon’s slowest runners will be greeted at the finish line not by waning sunlight but by a giant shadow, courtesy of the latest addition to the Upper West Side, a forthcoming tower designed by Snøhetta on West 66th Street, less than 600 feet from the park. The new ETs—many completed along 57th Street, now aptly nicknamed Billionaire’s Row—are also beginning to touch down wherever there is a view for sale and zoning doesn’t limit height, such as the remaining landing strip of underdeveloped properties between First and Second avenues with potential views of the East River and Long Island, and, most recently, on axis with St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where Gensler has designed a tower. Has anyone considered that natural light would no longer stream through the church’s stained glass? Whatever happened to protecting our heritage and neighborhoods with sensible planning and human-scale development? ETs are catastrophic energy hogs, far worse than typical urban residential construction. Exaggerated floor-to-floor heights and full-floor apartments create a worst-case scenario for energy efficiency. Superskinny towers also have far more structural steel and concrete than is required to bear gravity loads because of the need to resist outsize wind loads. Local infrastructure (water, sewage, and power) is compromised, or service cut, because of the time needed to pump and discharge water and waste. And consider life-safety issues—how long will these buildings take to evacuate in an emergency, factoring in the time it takes to navigate multiple elevator banks, to rescue people in distress? But the impact of ETs spreads far beyond their physical footprints, especially when they appear in numbers. Sophisticated software can conduct shadow studies on the cumulative effect of more than one ET on a city block. The East Side will soon have two towers between 62nd and 63rd streets, one fronting 2nd Avenue and the other on 3rd. Surrounding apartments left in their shadows will need artificial light all of the time, increasing demand on the power grid and our dependence on fossil fuels. And then there is the wind. While data retrieved from the study of a single ET may show that it has no negative effect, the cumulative wind tunnel effect produced by multiple ETs will quite possibly create impassable and turbulent streets, with vicious downdrafts caused by the Bernoulli effect (increased turbulence, or downdraft, as the wind hits a large facade). The developers of these projects and some of our elected officials, unfortunately for us, have ignored the neighborhood residents affected. The public review process has become virtually nonexistent. Gone are community reviews, special permits, and even cursory notification to neighbors. The only way to find out how big these buildings are is by exhausting a Department of Buildings zoning challenge, then moving on to the Board of Standards and Appeals (Article 78), and finally, issuing an injunction. By then, the as-of-right ET will likely have entered construction, or worse, be built. All is not bleak, as there are new regulations limiting the use of glass on tall buildings, thanks in part to the monitoring efforts of the Audubon Society, which has reported that millions of birds fly into such buildings every year because they can’t recognize a mirrored image. That may help. Not since Central Park was practically devastated by neglect during the Beame administration in the mid-1970s has it been so direly threatened, but this time the danger is from without, not within. ETs and other out-of-scale development also place community and public gardens, pocket parks, and playgrounds at risk. It’s time for New Yorkers to rise up and insist on new restrictions to stop the indiscriminate abuse of light and air that could suffocate the city’s parks and their adjacent neighborhoods. To be sure, our skyline is rapidly changing, and there will be consequences, but the potential for irreversible damage demands a moratorium. To insist on more insightful planning is not “NIMBYism”—it is the professionals taking charge. Page Cowley is founder of the New York architecture practice that bears her name and serves as chair of Landmark West!, a New York preservation nonprofit, as well as cochair of the Manhattan Community Board 7 Land Use Committee. Peter Samton was managing and design partner of the New York architecture firm of Gruzen Samton, aka IBI/Gruzen Samton, and is a past president of the New York Chapter of the AIA. He now serves on Manhattan Community Board 7 Land Use and Preservation Committees. Daniel Samton practices architecture as Samtondesign in Harlem, has worked at KPF and Gruzen Samton, specializes in sustainability, and is a certified passive house designer.
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Beachy Keen

James Corner Field Operations' public Manhattan beach reveals first renderings
Park stewards at the Hudson River Park Trust have just revealed preliminary renderings for a new public beach in Manhattan's Meatpacking District. The five-and-a-half acre site used to be a parking area for the sanitation department and adjacent salt shed, but in a few years, it will be a recreation area with a kayak launch, sports field, picnic areas, and a marsh. James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) is the New York-based landscape architecture firm behind the design, while hometown firm nARCHITECTS is doing park buildings. The soon-to-be park was first announced in February of this year, and in about 18 months, the beach on Gansevoort Peninsula will open to the public on the banks of the Hudson River at the end of Little West 12th Street. While there will be ample opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, the Hudson River is still too gross to swim in (but who knows, great strides in cleanliness could be made by the time the park is complete). From the renderings, it appears the new beach will rise alongside artist David Hammons' recreation of the demolished Pier 52Day’s End. This is far from the only project on the Trust's plate. The organization cares for a four-and-a-half-mile greenway on the river and is now shelling out an estimated $900 million for capital projects that include Pier 57, by Youngwoo & Associates, as well as Pier 26, which features a playground designed by OLIN and an ecology center from Rafael Viñoly. In addition, construction on Pier 55, the overwater park on piers, designed by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects and go-to artist for the hyper-wealthy, Thomas Heatherwick, is well underway. The new beach will also be a stone's throw away from the Whitney Museum. This is not the first Manhattan beach as some outlets have claimed, however, not counting pre-contact or New Amsterdam times. As recently as the 1980s, during the construction of Battery Park City, New Yorkers donned bikinis and sunned themselves on the sandy construction site just north of Manhattan's southern tip. At the same time, art organization Creative Time hosted multiple annual editions of Art on the Beach which brought large-scale public art to the desolate area. Today, way uptown, there's a semi-secret sandy beach at Inwood's Swindler's Cove, thanks to a New York Restoration Project initiative to restore shorelines in the area.
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Two-faced Tower

Kengo Kuma will build off of a historic facade in Seattle

Kengo Kuma & Associates has gone to great lengths to preserve and highlight a century-old Gothic Revival building in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood, proposing a mixed-use skyscraper that accentuates the ornate frontage of the five-story structure. According to designs submitted to the city for review earlier this year, the 42-story tower will fill most of the lot on the corner of Second Avenue and Virginia Street, receding slightly from the street to allow the facade of the 104-year-old Bebb & Gould’s Terminal Sales Annex building to protrude. Certain elements in the design of the skyscraper itself will also make reference to Seattle’s storied gothic and art deco architectural heritage.

Kuma’s initial designs for the tower, which were produced in collaboration with Ankrom Moisan Architects and the landscape architecture firm Berger Partnership for developer Pacific Virginia, indicate that the majority of the building’s floor space will be dedicated to condominiums. A coworking space and a hotel will occupy most of the first fifteen floors, while the first floor will house several lobbies and a restaurant. Much of the interior of the Terminal Sales Annex will be converted into amenity spaces for the hotel, which will accommodate the historic building’s existing floor plates.

The telescoping mass of the skyscraper is reminiscent of Seattle’s art deco traditions and aligns with the form of the Terminal Sales Annex below. In order to avoid completely overwhelming the landmarked structure in scale, the lowest massing on the Second Avenue frontage is only four stories tall. The setbacks will also create a small plaza at the corner of Second and Virginia, which could be used for seating and greenery. Renderings show sand-colored bands extending upwards on the facade of Kuma’s tower, likely an attempt to mimic the vertical lines and stonework on the Terminal Sales Annex.

While further details on the appearance of the skyscraper and the schedule for its construction have not been released, it seems certain that Seattle will be witnessing a highly involved form of facadism. In lieu of dismantling the interior of the Terminal Sales Annex or engulfing its street frontage in a wall of glass and steel, Kuma & Associates and its collaborators have created something that balances the needs of their client with respect for the historic significance and vulnerability of the site.

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In Memorium

Remembering César Pelli
The death of César Pelli at 92 on July 19 marked the end of an era. Yet the firm he headed with Fred Clarke and his son Rafael Pelli continues, with dozens of important and innovative projects underway. Pelli’s modest demeanor belied the fact that he and his partners designed over 300 buildings and 68 unrealized or theoretical projects. The best known built works are the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur (briefly the tallest buildings in the world), the colorful glass-skinned Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, the complex Cleveland Clinic, the American Embassy in Tokyo, and the recent Salesforce Tower and Transit Center in San Francisco (the tallest building there). In New York, they built the 1977-84 addition to the Museum of Modern Art and its residential tower, the World Financial Center—now dubbed Brookfield Place—in Battery Park City, the unusually contextual Carnegie Hall Tower, the Theodore Roosevelt Federal Building in downtown Brooklyn, and the pioneeringly energy-efficient Verdesian apartment building in Battery Park City, along with numerous other buildings that fit into their surroundings so well that they are not easily recognized. An office building for Trinity Church on Wall Street, the Yale Biology Building, the one-million-square-foot Bulfinch Crossing in Boston, a Natural History Museum in Chengdu, China, the Google Tower in Austin, Texas, and 3.3-million-square-foot Union Park in Toronto are among dozens of buildings underway now. Given the size of the practice, the complexity of its projects, their international range, size, scale, and sensitivity to place, it is surprising that the work of Pelli Clark Pelli has not received more critical attention. It is not something the partners sought. Doing innovative work and treating colleagues well has always been the firm’s priorities. César Pelli was one of architecture’s real artists and intellectuals. He was born in the medium-sized city of San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina, where one of the most innovative architecture schools in the world opened just before he matriculated. His father, Victor Pelli, was an innovative tinkerer who loved to make things. His mother. Theresa Pelli was a professor at Resistencia, who taught alongside the mother of the woman César would eventually marry, Diana Balmori. They got to know one another in architecture school, and then applied to various graduate programs together around the world. They ended up moving to the United States, where César earned a Master’s degree at the University of Illinois. It was not easy. Other young Argentinians they knew soon returned home. Diana once told me that they sold their wedding presents to make ends meet, but that fact that she spoke excellent English helped. Then, César’s professor recommended that he join the very busy office of Eero Saarinen in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. That move was not easy for Diana either, who had two young sons, but it was there, on the lush Cranbrook campus, that she developed an interest in landscape design. Saarinen’s office, enriched by the opportunity to design the $100 million, 320-acre General Motors Design Center, had attracted talented young architects from all over the world. César soon became the one Saarinen trusted with some of his most challenging projects. The firm was thriving with numerous enticing commissions. Eero had recently remarried journalist and architecture critic Aline Bernstein Saarinen, who wanted to move to the East Coast where her career, and increasingly Eero’s, was centered. Lonely in Michigan, she often invited the Pellis to join them for lunch. But soon after the birth of their son Eames, Eero developed a brain tumor and died within days. The firm moved to New Haven as planned to finish his work. César was in charge of two of the most challenging projects: the proto-postmodern Morse and Ezra Stiles Colleges at Yale, which imaginatively acknowledged Gothic Revival buildings nearby, and the TWA Terminal at JFK (then Idlewild) Airport in New York, which has now been restored and turned into the centerpiece of a new hotel. When Saarinen’s work was completed, some associates formed a successor firm, Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Partners, but the Pellis instead moved to the booming Los Angeles. César went to work first for the pragmatic commercial firm, Daniel, Mann, Johnson & Mendenhall from 1965 through 1968, then to Gruen Associates from 1968 through 1976, often collaborating with young talented international architects he had known at the Saarinen firm, such as Anthony J. Lumsden. By the mid-70s, Pelli, who had been teaching part-time at UCLA, decided he would like to work in architectural education. He was offered deanships at UCLA, Harvard, and Yale, that last being where he moved in 1977 and had been living ever since. Soon he was invited to expand the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, so he opened the original Cesar Pelli & Associates office in New Haven, which continued to grow after he stepped down as Yale dean in 1984, but which still operates on an open-minded academic model. Over the years, Pelli worked on and off with Balmori, who herself developed an innovative practice in landscape design. She died in 2016. César Pelli is survived by sons Rafael and Denis, as well as dozens of colleagues, friends, clients, former students, and admirers. His legacy is enormous.
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Noblesse Oblige

Big Plans: Picturing Social Reform employs photography and drawings to capture a movement
The United States of America of the 19th century was a civilization in rapid flux, subject to spiraling economic and demographic growth coupled with staggering socioeconomic inequality that manifested in deleterious urban poverty. Big Plans: Picturing Social Reform, on display at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston through September 15, 2019, effectively encapsulates the bold visions of the era's patrician reformers with the living conditions of the urban poor that influenced their sweeping plans. The exhibition is curated by Charles Waldheim, the Harvard Graduate School of Design's John E. Irving Professor of Landscape Architecture, Director of the Office for Urbanization, and the Ruettgers Curator of Landscape, and is largely made up of highly-detailed topographical and landscape maps, historical photographs, and personal mementos. According to Waldheim, "the show started with a very simple idea; could we take large urban plan drawings from the 19th century and treat them like works of art?" For Big Plans, Waldheim hones in on four protagonists; Frederick Law Olmsted, the historic doyen of landscape architecture; Isabella Stewart Gardiner, the museum's namesake and prominent member of the Boston Brahmins; Charles Eliot, Olmsted's apprentice and prominent city planner in his own right; and Lewis Wickes Hine, the sociologist and prodigious photographer of the American urban condition. Although contemporary controversies surrounding park construction largely center on budgetary or zoning constraints, the execution of such projects during the 19th century was remarkably radical in ideology and scope. Big Plans highlights the revolutionary nature of public landscape design with an initial focus on Olmsted & Vaux's design for Central Park in New York, juxtaposed with an original hand-colored map by William Bridges for New York's 1811 Commissioners' plan that would place the gridiron street layout of Manhattan. In comparing these two disparate visions of Gotham at the onset of the exhibition, the curatorial direction quickly lays out the reformers' visions of reshaping the rigid rationality of the industrial city into one that cultivated both economic and social progress. The theme of correcting the societal ills of the industrial metropolis is continued in the second room of the exhibition with five-by-seven-inch silver gelatin prints produced by street photographer and sociologist Lewis Hines. Similar to contemporaneous New York-based social reformer Jacob Riis, Hines advocated for photography as an effective tool to prod for social reform. The images are not beautiful; as is the case with much early photography, many are overexposed and out of focus. However, aesthetics were not their purpose. The photos are a searing indictment of child labor, depicting young men and women toiling in industrial mills and sifting through fetid landfills in search of scrap materials. The remainder of the exhibition is largely a collection of drawings that plot out the expansion of the public realm and park space in Boston and Chicago, ranging from the Back Bay Fens to Jackson Park. Absent from the curatorial direction of Big Plans is a perspective from the urban working class and impoverished for whom the grandiose schemes were tentatively laid out for. This top-down perspective was a conscious decision by Waldheim to highlight the uneasy paternalism, or noblesse oblige, of the era's social reformers. While not explicit, the exhibition begs the question of whether this condescension laid the groundwork for similarly grandiose urban renewal plans during the mid-20th century. Big Plans: Picturing Social Reform Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum 25 Evans Way Boston Through September 15, 2019
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In Memoriam

César Pelli, Argentine architect of the modern skyscraper, dies at age 92
Argentine architect César Pelli passed away on Friday at his home in New Haven, Connecticut, according to a state news agency and government officials. He was 92 years old.  The award-winning architect was responsible for designing some of the most famous skyscrapers in the world, including the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, The Landmark in Abu Dhabi, the recently completed Salesforce Tower, and the first phase of the adjacent Transbay Transit Center, both in San Francisco. While Pelli was largely known later in his career for his innovative glass towers, his earlier years in architecture were majorly influenced by who he worked with and where he lived.  Born October 12, 1926, in San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina, Pelli completed his undergraduate architectural studies at the Universidad Nacional de Tucumán. After briefly working in the country, Pelli moved to the United States in 1952 to pursue his masters at the University of Illinois School of Architecture. From there, he worked in Michigan under Eero Saarinen for a decade, designing small pieces on projects such as the TWA Terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport.  Before starting his eponymous firm Cesar Pelli & Associates in 1984, Pelli held leadership positions at Daniel, Mann, Johnson, and Mendenhall and Gruen Associates in Los Angeles. At the latter firm, he designed his seminal Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, the all-glass, 1,600,000-square-foot facility known as the “Blue Whale.” In 1977, Pelli began his 12-year tenure as dean at the Yale School of Architecture in New Haven, where he continued to live until his death.  Seven years into his deanship, Pelli received the commission for the 1984 expansion and renovation of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which, according to the New York Times, forced him to open his firm. He then went on design the World Financial Center and Winter Garden (now known as Brookfield Place) in Lower Manhattan, additional terminals for the Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., and scores of towers in London, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, and Jersey City, among other global cities.  In 2005, Pelli renamed his studio to Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, giving credit to his long-time partner Fred Clarke and son Rafael, who assumed a large role in the company. His wife, Diana Balmori, was a landscape architect, urban designer, and a partner on his team as well. She passed away in 2016. They are survived by another son, Denis, and two grandchildren.  Though Pelli didn’t open his firm until age 50, the impact he made on architecture within the last four decades of his life was widespread. He designed hundreds of buildings and was awarded just as many times for his efforts. Pelli received the profession’s highest honor, the AIA Gold Medal, in 1995.   In response to Pelli's passing, Robert Ivy, chief executive officer of the AIA, provided the following statement: “César Pelli was a consummate architect, teacher, and mentor. Rooted both in the creative legacy of Eero Saarinen and the pragmatic leaders of west coast development, César transformed skylines around the world and influenced the modern city as we know it. A master of both the urban scale and the carefully conceived individual detail, he leaves a legacy that stands as tall as the buildings he designed and as rich as the lives of the many architects whose careers were shaped by his generous teaching.” 
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Precious Pine

Francis Kéré completes timber pavilion at remote Tippet Rise Art Center
After seeing Francis Kéré’s Louisiana Canopy installation at the Louisiana Museum of Contemporary Art, Cathy and Peter Halstead were inspired to commission the Berlin-based architect to add a piece to their vast Tippet Rise Art Center in Montana. A few years on and Xylem, a piece developed in Louisiana, is now complete in Tippet Rise. The art center is home to a number of monumental art pieces, including three large concrete works by Madrid-based architects Ensamble Studio and a complex wooden construction by the New York-based artist Stephen Talasnik. While Tippet Rise stretches over 12,000 acres across southwest Montana’s broad, high plains, Xylem is located on one of the property's few intimate spaces. Rather than site the project on the top of a butte or at the base of a canyon, like many of the other monumental art pieces throughout the art center, Kéré’s pavilion sits nestled amid a stand of cottonwoods and aspens along the bubbling Grove Creek. Unlike the rest of the center’s collection, Xylem is meant to have a specific function as a gathering area for guests and a performance space for artists. “The Louisiana project was the inspiration for Cathy and Peter,” explained Kéré while walking through the new pavilion, “but Louisiana was in a museum, in a room, enclosed, protected. Here was have this landscape, which can be windy, hot, with a lot of snow. What can you do?” Kéré’s solution involved sourcing hardy local materials and playing with form and light, all while working to understand the clients' wish for an intimate, yet accessible, space. The 60-foot-diameter pavilion is comprised of thousands of linear feet of ponderosa and lodgepole pine logs. Each log was sustainably sourced from the nearby forests that had been ravaged by invasive mountain pine beetle or wildfires. Once stripped of their bark, the logs were cut to length and bound together to produce the bulk of the pavilion. These large masses of timber make up a series of lounging surfaces, as well as the expansive cantilevering canopy and the column cladding.  That canopy is comprised of specially configured hexagonal bundles suspended from an AECOM-engineered steel frame. This seemingly straightforward construction method has been the focus of Kéré’s office for a number of years and involves a title collaboration between architect and craftspeople. For Xylem, Kéré worked with local architects of record Gunnstock Timber Frames, who also served as wood fabricators for the project. Gunnstock Timber Frames is also responsible for the other buildings on the Tippet Rise main campus. Spaces for small groups or individuals were shaped and carved into the masses of logs as if they were a single volume, providing a cool space to sit and lounge in any number of positions.  The smoothed wood formations are dappled with light throughout the day, as sunlight slips between the gaps in the bundles of overhead timber and the steel frame. The careful positioning of the pavilion also directs views out to the often-dramatic setting sun, while maintaining a sense of enclosure in other directions. In its current state, the freshly constructed pavilion emits a fresh pine scent, which adds to the pleasant experience of being in the naturalistic surroundings. “The first instinct is not to consider this plot, why not build out there,” said Kéré as he discussed the siting of the pavilion with AN, while pointing out to the vast landscape. “We realized though, we had a chance to deal with this site, and respect the trees, and even to increase the feeling you have while listing to the water. Here you can focus on the sunset.”