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Love to Build

AN Interior Top 50 designers share their favorite building materials
We surveyed the AN Interior Top 50 interior architects and designers and asked them to reveal what they love to build with. You’ll find their favorite products and materials below.
Pigmented Silver Nitrates Rafael Prieto Founder and Creative Director, Savvy Studio “As a studio we always like to experiment with materials to discover new colors and shapes. Here we work on the superposition of layers of pigmented silver nitrates and then polish them to create random effects of colors and shapes.”
Soy-Based Spray Foam Insulation Chris and Dominic Leong Partners, Leong Leong “High-performance and aesthetically uncanny, soy-based spray foam insulation is a perfect example of the type of materiality we are interested in. Commonly used for insulation, spray foam has an organic quality that is never entirely predictable. It’s a very low-fi product that has an amazing sculptural plasticity and formlessness—a kind of industrial wabi-sabi effect.”
Expanded Metal Mesh Benjamin Cadena Principal, Studio Cadena “By carefully hanging rolls of standard industrial-grade expanded mesh from the ceiling, we are able to drape it much like a fabric. By hanging the metal mesh draperies like a fabric in the space, from a distance they become more translucent and lose their harshness to great effect. By hand painting the material and using it an unexpected way, we can transform it into something else.” Tiles and Finishes by Concrete Collaborative Morris Adjmi Principal, Morris Adjmi Architects “In our interior projects, we love to use concrete for its natural character, precision, durability, economy, range of surface textures, and depth of color. It’s also environmentally friendly. Our go-to concrete provider is Concrete Collaborative for everything from terrazzo to polished tiles [Laguna] and panels, flooring [Ventura], pavers for the outdoors, and stair treads.”
Calacatta Viola Marble by ABC Stone Oliver Haslegrave Creative Director and Founder, Home Studios “Stone is a lifelong favorite material, especially honed marble. We’ve used it in nearly every element of our interiors over the years—surfaces, seating, tables, lighting, votives. Plus, we love searching for the perfect slab.” Cloudburst Concrete 4011 by Caesarstone Alda Ly Principal, Alda Ly Architecture & Design “We’re very picky about finding the right amount of movement in solid surfaces. We love when it feels natural but doesn’t go overboard. Caesarstone’s Cloudburst Concrete is a natural concrete color with a beautiful cloudy patina. The larger the slab, the more pattern is visible.” Colored Film by Solar Graphics Craig Steely Principal, Craig Steely Architecture “I’m excited about our recent experiments to create space with colored films on glass. We have been using colors and their shadows to imply architecture and create hierarchies in our spaces. I’m interested in the contrast between physical materials and colored light and shadow as space delineators.”
Roll-A-Tex (medium grain) Jaffer Kolb and Ivi Diamantopoulo Principals, New Affiliates “Roll-A-Tex is a great additive to use with paint to create a rocky surface texture. We used it in a display for Opening Ceremony as a way of setting it apart from all of its slick neighboring materials. Plus, texture helps mask surface flaws like a panacea.”
Inky Custom Glaze by Boston Valley Terra Cotta Michael Chen Principal, Michael K Chen Architecture (MKCA) “It’s the rare interior of ours that doesn’t incorporate some degree of three-dimensional or sculptural texture. We’re often looking for ways for surfaces to be more lively, and to produce a certain play of light and shadow. For that, we often look to three-dimensional ceramics. Often when the work is inside, and especially in cities, you’re confronted with spaces that are challenged in terms of natural light. It’s incredible how much dimension can be coaxed out of a fairly dark space though texture and reflectivity.”
Terrazzo by John Caretti & Co Carrie Norman and Thomas Kelley Principals, Norman Kelley “Terrazzo comes in many finishes and applications, most commonly poured and polished. This typically presents a smooth surface with a variegated appearance. For our Aesop Lincoln Park project, we wanted those attributes in reverse. Something that appeared monolithic from afar, with texture and variation up close. Instead of polishing, we opted for exposing a monochromatic palette of gray-black aggregate within a warm gray cement base. Applied with a trowel, the material seamlessly transitions the horizontal and vertical surfaces of a series of interior steps.”
Kenyan Black Marble by SMC Stone Alexander Gorlin Principal, Alexander Gorlin Architects “Kenyan Black Marble is one of my favorites for the graphically swirling veins that are especially expressive in a residential setting. I love to select the exact slab and lay out the location of the design on the slabs themselves.” Vinyl by 3M Primo Orpilla Principal, Studio O+A “When the challenge is getting the maximum visual impact, you really can’t beat vinyl. Our designers have developed a sophisticated approach to matching vinyl wall graphics to the spaces they are meant to transform—kinetic patterns for active areas like break rooms and town halls; quieter patterns for places where people need to concentrate. Vinyl is our Brand Studio’s go-to product—it can turn a wall into an abstract canvas or a giant photograph. It can travel down the wall and continue onto the floor. We use vinyl on glass-walled conference rooms for privacy and on bare concrete surfaces to make them playful. We use it to give staircases personality and to introduce color into offices that might otherwise default to neutral. And if you’re trying to hint at a cultural reference without getting too literal, vinyl is perfect for replicating indigenous art and textiles, from Finland to Indonesia.” Corian Wil Carson Design Director, 64North “One of our favorite materials is Corian because of its flexibility and the diversity of applications we can use, and misuse, it for—especially in terms of its ability to be machined or bent. Whether we are machining 2D patterns into its surface or creating more complex 3D relief, its ability to be shaped combined with its visual and haptic qualities gives us a quite rich, mutable palette to work with.”
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R.I.P.

Los Angeles architect Francois Perrin has passed away
Los Angeles–based architect Francois Perrin has passed away. Perrin was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer in January, 2019, and passed away on April 1, 2019, in Ventura County, California. Born in Paris, France, Perrin would eventually settle in Los Angeles, where his design practice, Air Architecture, was well known for creating materially inventive spaces filled with ethereal physical qualities that transcended everyday experiences. Perrin’s architectural projects were widely published; his Venice Air House from 2006, an addition to a single-family home that used trapped air visible through clear polycarbonate siding as a form of insulation, was well known. Perrin’s Hollywood Hills House from 2012 was designed as a series of terraces that simultaneously disappeared into and were hung off of a steeply-sloped site. In the past, Perrin has organized several exhibitions including "Dialogues" and "Yves Klein-Air Architecture" at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture and "Architectones" in several locations around the world. In 2004, Perrin’s The Weather Garden transformed the courtyard of Materials & Applications in Los Angeles using netting, a wooden platform, and palm tree saplings. In 2016, Perrin and French Canadian architect Francois Dallegret organized a retrospective of Dallegret’s early works at WUHO Gallery in Hollywood. In 2017, Perrin’s Air Houses brought a series of tent-like shelters to the Palm House at the Garfield Park Conservatory for the Chicago Architecture Biennale. A joint project between Perrin and Dallegret was scheduled to go on view earlier this year at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in Los Angeles as part of the Shelter or Playground exhibition, but Perrin’s work on the exhibition was cut short by his illness. Perrin was decorated with the Chevalier de l'Art et des Lettres in June, 2018, at the Residence de France in Los Angeles. On top of everything, Perrin was an avid big-wave surfer and an artist, pursuits that earned him the love of a wide community of artists and architects around the world. As the shocking news of Perrin’s illness spread among his friends last week, several organizations and institutions rallied to his family’s support. Perrin is survived by his partner Eviana Hartman and their 16-month-old daughter. A fund has been set up to help the family navigate this difficult time.
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We asked designers: What are the 2019 kitchen color trends?
Color is everywhere—in our homes, offices, cars, clothes, and the surrounding natural world. According to the experts, color affects us on a deep subconscious level, transcending beyond the visual spectrum to influence our moods, feelings, and activities. To learn more about the impact of color in the kitchen, BLANCO recently surveyed architects and designers to uncover current and future trends. According to 67 percent of designers surveyed, gray and white are dominating kitchen designs this year. Not only for paint and cabinetry, these smart neutrals populate the sink area, as well, and 54 percent of designers anticipate that sinks are moving towards white and gray tones. Homeowners are looking for a timeless and transitional kitchen design that also makes a personal statement. The gray trend is very timely considering BLANCO’s brand new SILGRANIT® sink color, Concrete Gray. Clean, organic, and extremely balanced, Concrete Gray is at home in both urban and natural settings. Its revolutionary warm red and cool blue undertones make it BLANCO’s most versatile color yet. Right on trend, Concrete Gray is the perfect fit with a wide array of countertop and cabinet designs.
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The Architect-Developer

NOMA President Kim Dowdell on the politics of Detroit and the architecture profession
Detroit is an entrepreneurial city. In its heyday, it was full of forward-thinkers who were breaking boundaries by building big business dedicated to innovation and manufacturing. That same spirit still exists in the Motor City today, though some have written off the gritty, Michigan enclave as a place of the past. Many dedicated Detroit natives are working hard to rebuild its legacy as a capital of American economic and cultural development. Kimberly Dowdell, in particular, is using her experience as an architect and a real estate developer, as well as her innate entrepreneurial drive, to change the face of urban housing in Detroit. Along with her team at Century Partners, an emerging firm in the city, she’s tackling long-standing social injustices through the lens of home ownership. She’s doing the same in her new role as president of the National Organization for Minority Architects (NOMA) by advancing representation in the architecture industry and fighting for professional equity. AN spoke with Dowdell about her unique career path, what drives her to rebuild Detroit, and why addressing architecture’s internal issues can help build stronger cities. The Architect's Newspaper: You spent time on the East Coast working as an architect and developer, and then studied public administration as a graduate student at Harvard University. What drew you back to Detroit? Kimberly Dowdell: I grew up in Detroit in the early '90s when the city was in pretty bad shape. The buildings were ghosts of their former selves, which fascinated me, but economically, Detroit was devastated. Instead of moving back after graduating from Cornell with my bachelor’s in architecture, I decided to sample cities on the East Coast (Washington, D.C., and New York), rounding it all off in Cambridge for the Harvard program. Many people ask me why I studied government since I came from a design background, but I firmly believe buildings are intrinsically part of the public realm, so it’s our responsibility to learn everything we can about how policies can work to better the built environment. In 2015, I was recruited by the City of Detroit’s Housing and Revitalization Department, where I worked closely with the Planning and Development Department, collaborating with a long-time mentor, Maurice Cox, Detroit’s Planning Director. That unique opportunity to contribute to Detroit’s resurgence ended my 14-year East Coast tour. AN: Since you’ve been in Detroit, you’ve transitioned into a more entrepreneurial role as a professional and within your current firm, Century Partners. How does your background in public service and design serve you in thinking about housing in Detroit? When I was younger, I didn’t like that Detroit looked bad, so I decided I was going to become an architect. I didn’t really see many people trying to solve the city’s big problems growing up, so I aimed to do it myself. A lot of what I’ve chosen to do in my career has been in response to things that I think are not ideal. As a kid, I actually wanted to be a doctor, which is funny now because I consider myself kind of like a doctor at the macro level. I get to help heal neighborhoods. Architects have to be knowledgeable of all the issues at hand in order to get a project done successfully. To be a developer, you also have to understand the bigger politics at play. With Century Partners, I’m able to use my design eye as I try to maintain the historic fabric of Detroit as much as possible through our projects. AN: What’s the biggest thing you’re working on at Century Partners? Detroit is well-known for its expanse of single-family homes. We’re currently looking at building out neighborhoods that are positioned to contribute to the multi-family housing fabric of the city. We’re currently fundraising to purchase commercial and multi-family buildings in Detroit’s core that will spur economic development, increase density, and create a 24/7 neighborhood. The other major project that we're working on right now is called the Fitz Forward Neighborhood Revitalization project, a city-backed, public-private partnership that will eventually revitalize over 300 parcels of land, including existing homes, open lots, and parkland, across the Fitzgerald neighborhood in central Detroit. AN: You spend a lot of time thinking about Detroit’s future and how to solve these big-picture problems. How is this mindset helpful as you start your new position leading NOMA? I’m three months into my presidency and the biggest thing I want to be really mindful of is fundraising for the organization. As a woman, I think there’s a general consensus that we don’t directly ask for money—as if fundraising is a taboo thing to do. But as president, I want to commit to doing that, which coincidently ties into my fundraising efforts with Century Partners for the commercial property and multi-family housing fund I mentioned. Money is always part of the bigger picture in architecture, but it’s a new challenge for me to think about it so directly.   AN: How could more money for your organization have an impact on architecture? I was recently possessed to say out loud in a podcast interview that if someone gave NOMA a million dollars, it could change the face of the profession. We’d have money to fuel our access-related programs like exposing K-5 students to architecture through classes and products, while middle and high school students could more deeply engage with our NOMA Project Pipeline summer camps. College students, especially aspiring architects of color, need help with studio supplies, technology, housing, transportation, and scholarships. As the first millennial president of NOMA, I’ve also begun considering how the architecture profession can alleviate the student debt crisis. Many of my colleagues have really high levels of student debt coupled with comparatively low professional salaries (consider lawyers and doctors) and limited flexibility and financial freedom. How can we as an organization motivate or incentivize people to pursue architecture knowing that compensation is a challenge and the student loan debt is higher than ever? We will miss out on some really talented people if things don’t change. This is also a diversity issue. Minorities in particular struggle with this given the wealth gap. NOMA is about getting people to believe in the power of diversity and the success of companies and organizations who support that vision. I want to make the case that investing in NOMA is investing in the future of a more diverse and equitable profession, which can help build more diverse and equitable cities. AN: So you think addressing the architecture’s internal inequalities would have a trickle-down effect on not only the way firms are set up, but how projects and cities get built? I absolutely think that there is a correlation between who is empowered to author the built environment and how that environment shapes the well-being of the community that it serves. In the words of Winston Churchill, "we shape our buildings and thereafter our buildings shape us." I believe that this statement holds true and I would add that the heightened diversity of our built environment stewards (developers, architects, builders, real estate brokers, etc.) will contribute to a more thoughtful and responsive set of buildings, spaces, and places that will equate to more sustainable cities. I believe in quadruple bottom line sustainability—incorporating financial, ecological, social and cultural priorities. While everyone in the development process has a particular purpose and role, I think that the more we see greater cohesion between those quadruple bottom line priorities, the better off our cities will be moving forward.
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Ball-In

The U.K.’s largest concert venue will feature 360-degree sound, and everything else
The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) has revealed renderings and details of its Populous-designed MSG Sphere London, a massive, well, sphere set to sprout up in London. Similar to the forthcoming MSG sphere planned for Las Vegas, the London Sphere, if approved, would be covered in high-tech LED screens both inside and out, so that the event inside can be seen up to 500 feet away. The developer has selected a 4.7-acre site in Stratford, east London, according to The Guardian, close to the site of the 2012 Olympics Park. The 300-foot-tall, 400-foot-wide dome will hold around 17,500 seated guests and 21,500 seated and standing visitors, which would make it, if built as planned, the largest concert space in the entire United Kingdom. Inside, stadium seating will face a central stage, and a massive LED screen will clad the Sphere’s interior to augment the performance. Other than concerts, MSG has suggested that the venue might be used to host everything from award shows to esport competitions—all events that would benefit from an arena-spanning digital backdrop. The Sphere will also hold retail, a café, a 450-person restaurant and club, and a 1,500-person-capacity black box-type venue for local and emerging artists to perform in. Plans for the MSG Sphere London were submitted to the City of London on March 26, though London Mayor Sadiq Khan had already voiced his approval for the project when it was first revealed last February. If the scheme is approved, construction would take three years, and MSG expects that the entertainment dome could be completed by 2022. However, Khan's approval doesn't mean the project will face smooth sailing, as local residents have argued that up to 1,400 new housing units could be built on the site instead. Across the pond, construction on the Las Vegas Sphere is well underway, and the venue is expected to open in 2021. The 18,000-seat arena will feature high-tech perks such as speedy internet at every seat, and “planar audio waves”—concentrated, targeted sound—bounced directly to each guest courtesy the German company Holoplot.
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One People

Jamaica unveils winning design for its new Houses of Parliament in Kingston
Jamaica’s new Houses of Parliament will be designed by a team led by local architect Evan Williams of Design Collaborative. The group beat out 23 other teams, including ones with Adjaye Associates and Adrian Smith, in an international competition. "Out of Many One People," the name of the winning proposal, will be constructed in Kingston’s National Heroes Park. The team submitted a circular, monumental design reminiscent of a stadium. It features diagonal bracing on the exterior and includes surrounding landscaped areas for sports and cultural activities. Set within an 11.4-acre piece of parkland, the project is part of a master plan to redevelop downtown Kingston. Jamaica launched the competition last May to find an architect to design the 160,000-square-foot building that will house both the legislative and executive branches of government. Gordon Gill, a partner in Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture and a native of Jamaica, served as the competition patron. To enter the race, there was one strict but unique rule: Eligible teams had to be led by a citizen of Jamaica, residing locally or abroad, who is also a registered and licensed Jamaican architect and capable of being the project’s architect of record. The teams also had to contain “at least 50 percent Jamaican citizens or persons of Jamaican heritage.” Twenty-four teams entered, including groups from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, Argentina, Turkey, Serbia, Iran, Trinidad, and Guyana. Five finalists were selected last fall, but “Out of Many, One People” won out. The jury called it a “grand and heroic gesture.” The entry was a collaboration between architect of record Evan Williams of Design Collaborative Architects and Town Planners, lead designer Damian Hines of Houston-based firm Hines Architecture + Design, as well as Christopher Bent and Gregory Lake. Their submission was also selected as the People's Choice winner.  The competition organizers, the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) hope the government will line up funding in time to begin construction in 2021. Other finalists are listed below. View their submissions here.  Second place: "The Grand Verandah"  Team leader: Ravi Sittol of Atelier-Vidal Ltd. of Jamaica. Team: Atelier-Vidal Ltd./Adjaye Associates, including Vidal Dowding and David Adjaye. Third place: "Ubuntu" (“I am because we are”) Team leader: Damian Edmond of Form Architects in Kingston and Trinidad, West Indies. The team included Edmond and Franz-Joseph Repole. Fourth place: "National Flower" Team leader: Stephen Facey, chairman and CEO of PanJam Investment Ltd. and Jamaica Property Company Ltd. Team: Facey, Hugh Dutton, Laura Facey Cooper, Jenna Blackwood, and Patricia Green. Fifth place: "A National Veranda" Team leader: Guenet Anderson of GSA Architects and Planners in Jamaica. Team: Anderson, Emerson Hamilton, Adam Bridge, Lee Edgecombe, Dwhyte Batson, Cheryl Hamilton, The Edgecombe Group of Hyattsville, Maryland., CTA Consulting Engineers and DCI Architects of Rockville, Maryland, SK&A Group, Moya Design Partner, Hamilton Associates, AMAR Grou, and Alter Urban Architecture of Washington, D. C.
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Florida-Chic

Sportswear brand J. McLaughlin highlights Sarasota Modernism in its spring catalog

The Modernist heritage of Sarasota, Florida, is the star of J. McLaughlin's recently-released 2019 spring catalog, thanks to a partnership with the nonprofit Sarasota Architectural Foundation (SAF).

Sporty spring sweaters, floral prints, nautical belt buckles, and more are juxtaposed against homes designed by Ralph Twitchell, a founding member of the Sarasota School of Architecture, and Paul Rudolph. The 1953 Paul Rudolph-designed Umbrella House, a blocky building shaded by a perforated canopy, and the swooping Cocoon House, a collaboration between Twitchell and Rudolph from 1950 with a unique U-shaped roof, features alongside other local landmarks.

Both buildings are important landmarks for the Sarasota School, which sought to blend Modernism with breezy beach vibes (and were appropriate for the temperate, humid climate). The Sarasota Architectural Foundation has been educating visitors on both during their annual Sarasota Modernism Weekend, which the group has run since 2013.

The J. McLaughlin–Sarasota confluence seemed like a natural one to the clothing brand’s co-founder and creative director Kevin McLaughlin. The company already has two stores in the area, one in Sarasota and one in Longboat Key, and McLaughlin is a frequent visitor to the small city. Additionally, local Sarasota artist John Pirman had previously been tapped to design prints for the brand.

"We're honored to have collaborated with J. McLaughlin to produce the new spring catalog," wrote SAF board chair Christopher Wilson. "By creating vital awareness of SAF, this fine American brand is helping further our mission to protect and preserve these iconic examples of the Sarasota School of Architecture."

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Going Up, Going Down

Vessel and Hudson Yards are open. What do the critics think?
The first phase of Manhattan’s $25 billion Hudson Yards development opened to the public on March 15, and with the embargos lifted and first impressions filed, a wide variety of critics have put pen to paper on their Vessel thoughts. The $150 million, 150-foot-tall occupiable sculpture is the centerpiece of Hudson Yards’ first phase and sits at the heart of a Nelson Byrd Woltz–designed plaza. The Thomas Heatherwick–designed public installation, inspired in part by Indian stepwells, expands from a minimal footprint at the bottom to a 150-foot-wide diameter at the peak. After signing up for free tickets and agreeing to Vessel’s restrictive photo policy, which previously stated that guests would forfeit the rights to any photos or videos taken there, visitors can explore the 154 flights of stairs and 80 landings. Related Companies chairman Stephen Ross, who paid for the structure out of his own pocket, claims that Vessel holds a mile of staircases. For the mobility impaired, Heatherwick Studio has included a curvilinear elevator that stops at three different landings along the sculpture. The intentions behind the piece have been well stated—the desire to create a monument in Hudson Yards that engages, not overshadows, the surrounding towers, and a "living room" for the public and residents who call the new neighborhood home. So, what do people think of the 15-story Vessel? The reviews have been mixed; some saw it as a monument to excess, while others drew comparisons to shawarma, a pinecone, trash can, drinking glasses, and more. Still others juxtaposed the structure’s 360-degree views and position to a panopticon, as Vessel is eminently and intentionally viewable from most places in Hudson Yards. It should be noted that Related insists that Vessel cost $150 million; the $200 million figure cited in the below articles reportedly accounts for the plaza it sits in as well. The Architect's Newspaper AN's Executive Editor Matt Shaw couldn't help but link Vessel to its larger place and the moneyed circumstances that led to its creation, questioning whether it was spectacle for the sake of spectacle. "Vessel and its counterpart, The Shed, occupy an important niche in the rich culture of Little Dubai: they serve as the attractors to get tourists to come and play, and thus spend money at retail options. Like the spectacular Dubai Aquarium, Dubai Frame, and man-made islands such as Palm Jumeirah, Vessel acts to bring attention to the place. The High Line is already doing this, but these new spectacles will bring in tourists en masse, possibly so much that this area will be like a cleaner and even less exciting Times Square. "This centralization of power—via a marriage of government and private interests—gives power to consultants to plan whole districts, as well as ties together Little Dubai and its namesake (and the other countless cities like it). It should not come as a surprise that this is taking place in New York. In fact, it is a very New York phenomenon, as much of this type of culture was shipped from New York’s office towers (literally and metaphorically.)" The New York Times Michael Kimmelman didn’t mince words in his review for the NYT. “It is temporarily called the Vessel. Hoping for public buy-in, its patron, the lead developer of this vast neoliberal Zion, has invited suggestions for a new name. “Purportedly inspired by ancient Indian stepwells (it’s about as much like them as Skull Mountain at Six Flags Great Adventure is like Chichen Itza) the object—I hesitate to call this a sculpture—is a 150-foot-high, $200 million, latticed, waste-basket-shaped stairway to nowhere, sheathed in a gaudy, copper-cladded steel.” New York Magazine Justin Davidson had many of the same concerns as Kimmelman, as he recognized that historically stairs have been used as gathering places throughout New York City, but that ultimately Vessel felt like a staircase to nowhere. “The advance hype doesn’t prepare you for a structure quite this large, shiny, and extravagantly pointless. Its stainless-steel skin gleams russet like polished copper but won’t weather or lose its gloss. From the beginning, Ross declared his desire for an artwork big and splashy enough to focus the whole development. Not a clock or an obelisk—how about a botanical puppy, say, or a Chicago-style shiny kidney bean? Ross wanted something bolder, an artwork he wouldn’t have to warn people off of. Instead, Heatherwick’s piece functions as its own sign: PLEASE CLIMB ON THE SCULPTURE.” The New York Post Post writer Zachary Kussin wrote much more enthusiastically about his experience with Vessel. In an article entitled “Why the Hudson Yards Vessel is $200M worth of glistening glory,” Kussin recounted a grandiose trip to the top of the sculpture. “He’s right. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick and his London-based Heatherwick Studio, Vessel is an interactive artwork made entirely of staircases that make you feel as if you’re in a giant honeycomb, surrounded on all sides by copper-colored steel.” Curbed Alexandra Lange, reviewing Hudson Yards for Curbed, was simultaneously dazzled by the physical structure of Vessel, but questioned its promised social utility. She writes that once inside, rather than sparking conversation between climbers, the focus turned towards the piece itself, and an innate awareness of being on Vessel. “Whatever you call Heatherwick Studio’s Vessel—the wastebasket, the egg-crate, the Escher-brought-to-life, the basketball net, the Great Doner Kebab—it is the opposite of those examples. Not temporary, not cuddly, not delicate. It looks just like its renderings except possibly more perfect. I had mentally assigned it an outer cladding of weathering steel; with everything else so smooth and shiny, surely Vessel would have an industrial flavor? But no—Heatherwick Studio leaned into the fractal nature of its design, and the cladding, copper-colored steel, has a mirror finish like Anish Kapoor’s Bean in Chicago’s Millennium Park, welcoming our irresistible impulse to selfie.” The Baffler Kate Wagner’s take on Vessel was, predictably, the most pointed AN was able to find. In “Fuck The Vessel,” Wagner savages Heatherwick’s entire body of work as well as the structure’s premise, writing that Vessel embodied the attitude of Hudson Yards, a utopia for the rich out of the grasp of the other 99 percent. “It is a Vessel for labor without purpose. The metaphor of the stairway to nowhere precludes a tiring climb to the top where one is expected to spend a few moments with a cell-phone, because at least a valedictory selfie rewards us with the feeling that we wasted time on a giant staircase for something—perhaps something contained in the Vessel. The Vessel valorizes work, the physical work of climbing, all while cloaking it in the rhetoric of enjoyment, as if going up stairs were a particularly ludic activity. The inclusion of an elevator that only stops on certain platforms is ludicrously provocative. The presence of the elevator implies a pressure for the abled-bodied to not use it, since by doing so one bypasses ‘the experience’ of the Vessel, an experience of menial physical labor that aims to achieve the nebulous goal of attaining slightly different views of the city.” Heatherwick’s response For Thomas Heatherwick’s part, he hasn’t let the criticism bother him. On the opening day of Hudson Yards, The Real Deal was able to snag a brief interview, where the English designer shrugged off the above concerns, saying that all that mattered was whether visitors enjoyed it. Indeed, it seems that for as many think pieces and social media slams that Vessel has endured over its purpose and aesthetics, and whether it truly belongs in New York, tourists have still been clamoring to climb it. AN has reached out to Heatherwick Studio for its take on the critical hullabaloo and will update this article accordingly.
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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.

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alpine views

This Swiss cancer institute keeps out the sun with a continuous aluminum screen
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Behnisch Architekten's AGORA Pôle de Recherche Sur le Cancer in Lausanne, Switzerland, overlooks the historic core of the centuries-old city from a prominent ridgeline within the city center, contorting itself into multiple planes of curtain wall shaded by a continuous band of aluminum apertures. As an approximately 240,000-square-foot cancer research institute, the complex's program calls for easily navigable and well-illuminated corridors linking offices and research spaces for hundreds of practitioners. Additionally, the central meeting place of the facility—dubbed "AGORA" in homage to the ancient Greek sphere of public assembly—is topped with a semi-translucent ETFE canopy. "AGORA was our first effort at developing a stationary, responsive solar shading system, which developed out of the original competition design," said Behnisch Partner Robert Matthew Noblett. "The concept is essentially moving the sophisticated technology involved in responding to solar angles that change throughout the day and year and deploying it on the design side in the form of parametric modeling and fabrication, optimizing shading elements according to orientation and season."
  • Facade Manufacturer & Installer Sottas SA, Bulle
  • Architects Behnisch Architekten
  • Facade Consultants Emmer Pfenninger Partner Transsolar KlimaEngineering
  • Location Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System Window hinges in plaster facade with folded aluminum panels as sun protection
  • Products Schueco Fenster-Systeme
The second skin of the building consists of a continuous aluminum screen that runs across the underlying glazed facade. Each of the facade's nine distinct planes is shaded with a unique variation of the screen; the skin on the north has relatively large openings while that on the south is more constrained. The panels consist of two folded aluminum pieces joined together to resist bending. For the shading requirements of the building, Behnisch Architekten developed a set of parametric guidelines for Rhino, Grasshopper, and AutoCAD. The length of the "P" line, the protruding-perforated aluminum flap, was determined by the "V" plane perpendicular to the facade, and the "H" plane parallel to the facade. After producing scores of digital simulations for sun and heat protection, light enhancement and glare, the design team built multiple physical models that were tested under artificial lighting. "The optimization of the facade is controlled both by the aperture and its orientation, which respond to the orientation of the glass surface and its type of glass," said the design team. "The same solar performance can be achieved for every given angle of the sun with an array of different geometries that offer all the different view openings and qualities."       The second skin is located approximately 2.6 feet from the inner facade, allowing for the insertion of a maintenance catwalk and over half-a-foot of space for the secondary structure supporting the shading panels. The secondary structure is composed of a series of diagonal steel rails running parallel to each other. Every short end of the panels are connected to the steel rails via simple fastener connections. Armatures extending from the inner facade support both the catwalk and the steel rail system. According to the design team, one of the greatest challenges of the project was the connection of the bands of aluminum apertures across nine unique facade planes. To maintain the visual continuity of the second skin, Behnisch Architekten collaborated with manufacturer and installer Sottas SA to produce a unique seam of aluminum pieces for each corner. In the coming years, Behnisch will monitor the performance of the complex's enclosure system. Lessons learned from the study of the structure will inform the design of similar systems for ongoing projects such as Harvard's School of Engineering an Applied Sciences and the ARENA HQ in Germany. Robert Matthew Noblett will be joining a panel, "Facade Syntax: Changing Context and International Regulations," at The Architect's Newspaper's upcoming Facades+ New York conference, a two-day event at the beginning of April focused on the design and performance of facades.
   
   
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The Bigger Apple

Facades+ New York will explore trends reshaping international architecture
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On April 4 and 5, Facades+ is returning to New York for the eighth year in a row. Organized by The Architect's Newspaper, the New York conference brings together leading AEC practitioners for a robust full-day symposium with a second day of intensive workshops led by manufacturers, architects, and engineers. Doriana and Massimiliano Fuksas, and Toshiko Mori are respectively leading the morning and afternoon keynote addresses for the symposium. In between the keynote addresses, representatives from Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Permasteelisa, Cooper Union, Gensler, Heintges, Atelier 10, Transsolar, Walter P. MooreSchüco, Frener & Reifer, and Behnisch Architekten, will be on hand to discuss recently completed innovative projects. New York-and-Frankfurt based practice 1100 Architect is co-chairing the conference. In anticipation of the conference, 1100 Architect's Juergen Riehm sat down with AN to discuss the firm's ongoing work, the conference's program, and trends reshaping New York City's built environment. The Architect's Newspaper: It is safe to say that New York City is undergoing a tremendous period of growth. What do you perceive to be the most exciting trends within the city? Juergen Riehm: You’re right; New York City is undergoing big change and growth. I would say that one of the big drivers of that change—and one of the exciting trends—is the investment in the city’s public spaces. There has been such transformation along the waterfronts and in parks across all five boroughs, and that has really catalyzed growth. We have worked with several city agencies for many years and in different ways, including with the Department of Parks & Recreation, which has been an exciting partnership, contributing to these changes. One of the projects we currently have in design for NYC Parks is a new community center in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. There, we are designing a 33,000-square-foot community center. The facade will perform in a number of ways. Since it is a community center, we want it to be as open and transparent as possible, and it also needs to be robust and durable. The building is on track to meet the city’s new sustainability standards LL31/32 and LEED Gold. There has been so much attention on new large-scale developments like Hudson Yards or the supertall towers in Midtown, but one of the other exciting trends right now is the renewed attention on optimizing the performance of existing buildings. It is something we will address during Facades+ NYC, but there is great work happening now on restorations of historic buildings—at the Ford Foundation or the United Nations, for example—that not only addresses decades of wear and tear, but that also brings these structures up to full 21st-century performance standards. AN: 1100 Architect is based in both New York and Frankfurt. What are the greatest benefits of operating a trans-Atlantic practice? JR: Our practice has always been deeply rooted in New York—just as it has also always had an international footprint. From our earliest days, we delivered projects overseas, so it seems like part of 1100 Architect’s DNA to have an ongoing dialogue with other geographies. We launched our Frankfurt office about 15 years ago, and, as you suggest, it does bring benefits. In general, we find that it has a reciprocal sharpening effect, with each location informing the other with different materials, technologies, and delivery methods. AN: Which projects are 1100 Architect currently working on, or recently completed, that demonstrate the firm's longstanding demonstration of sustainable enclosures? JR: Well, the NYC Parks community center in East Flatbush is a good example. It’s an exciting project in many ways—including the fact that we are designing it to the City’s new LL31/32 sustainability standards. In every way, we are really pushing for optimal performance, and the high-performance envelope plays an integral role toward that end. We were recently awarded a contract with the U.S. Department of State, so we are poised to begin working on diplomatic facilities around the world, so the safety and security of facade systems will be a paramount consideration. In Germany, we are renovating a 19,000-seat soccer stadium and adding a new training facility, using an innovative and high-performance channel-glass facade. We recently completed a Passive House–certified kindergarten there, too, which involved a high-performance facade. AN: Are there any techniques and materials used in Germany or the EU that should be adopted in the United States? JR: In Germany, I find that there is a more closely integrated relationship between government, the building industry, and the architectural profession. With environmental standards, for example, the goals set by the government are quite ambitious, and it has resulted in a closely integrated process of meeting those goals. In this moment of deregulation in the U.S., it seems like a good time to consider the value of the government’s role in moving toward energy efficiency. AN: Where do you see the industry heading in the coming years? JR: By necessity, I see it moving toward higher standards of energy performance. Climate science is calling for it and the marketplace is increasingly looking for it, so the architecture and building industry will need to deliver. And as I mentioned at the start of this conversation, I also think there will be a lot of focus on updating existing buildings to enhance performance. Further information regarding the conference can be found here.
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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!