Search results for "museum of the city of new york"
A spiffy revamp of the park and buildings surrounding Eero Saarinen's Gateway Arch in St. Louis is slated for completion this summer. Along with a new landscape by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) that sensitively dialogues with the Dan Kiley original, the symbolic demarcation of the west will be complemented by a revamped Museum of Westward Expansion, now known as the Museum of the Gateway Arch. The building, which sits directly beneath the Arch, was originally designed by Saarinen and is being redone by New York's Cooper Robertson and James Carpenter Design Associates (JCDA) with Trivers Associates, which is based in St. Louis. The team added 45,500 square feet to the museum's west side, connecting a new entrance (pictured above) to the main programming in the 113,000-square-foot Saarinen-designed museum. In deference to the site—which is both a national landmark and national park—much of the new construction sits underground. The architects collaborated with MVVA on 2010's CityArchRiver, a competition to master-plan and tweak Kiley and Saarinen's 91-acre landscape and structures for better public access and connectivity with downtown St. Louis. In conjunction with the renovation, the Museum of Westward Expansion is being rebranded as the Museum at the Gateway Arch, a switch that removes the jingoistic emphasis on the colonization of indigenous land, but preserves its ties to the site. The re-christened building will open July 3, 2018. In the meantime, take a gander at this neat timelapse construction video:
With a newfound interest in housing, Bureau Spectacular’s aesthetic-driven practice matures
“We’re kind of new around here,” Joanna Grant, partner at Los Angeles–based Bureau Spectacular explained while taking a coffee break on a desolate sidewalk outside the shabby three-story commercial building that houses the firm’s recently relocated offices. “We got priced out of Downtown,” she said, before motioning toward the structure, which is currently occupied on the ground floor by a security door company that has strung up its various prototypes—drop-down metal doors, accordion style–security grilles—along the brick building’s thickly painted facade. The ecstatic setting is well-suited for the firm, where on the uppermost level, Grant and Bureau Spectacular founder Jimenez Lai helm an already storied practice that is hard at work tinkering away on a collection of new and evocative works that span the full spectrum of practice– “from spoons to cities,” Lai later explained, echoing a famous line by Italian architect Ernesto Rogers. Though the firm has been in existence for nearly 10 years—first as a solo project by Lai and starting in 2016 with Grant as a partner (Grant originally joined the office in 2013)—and has achieved worldwide renown for its eye-catching formalism and genre-shattering typological amalgamations, current projects under development—accessory dwelling units, social housing schemes, private residences—have the potential to reshape the image of the firm wholesale. As the designers pivot from fuzzy worlds, architecturally inspired comic books, and super-scaled installations toward built work, furniture and product lines, and gallery exhibitions, a chief question is on the table: Is Bureau Spectacular growing up? Palm Desert House Joshua Tree, California The office is also working toward several housing experiments, including still-under-wraps social housing schemes and a custom home for a client located in Joshua Tree, California. The radical private home is a love child of Le Corbusier’s “five points of architecture,” Philip Johnson’s Glass house, and the suburban tract home. The project features specifically calibrated window hoods that point the home’s eyes away from an unfriendly neighbor and hints at some of the formal and symbolic forays Bureau Spectacular might soon take in its work. Pool Party Long Island City, New York Building off of Tower of 12 Stories, Bureau Spectacular’s proposal for the 2017 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program envisions a collection of ready-made swimming pools raised above the museum courtyard and filled with circulating water to create a “lightweight framework safe for five thousand drunk people” to enjoy. Designed in collaboration with Matthew Melnyk of Nous Engineering, the pools are orchestrated to shade partygoers via evaporative cooling and are designed to utilize minimal materials for maximum aesthetic result. A metal scaffolding supports the oddly-shaped pools, creating an installation inspired in equal parts by Cedric Price, Kisho Kurokawa, John Hejduk, and Yona Friedman. Tower of 12 Stories Coachella, California Lai, who is “approaching 40” and finds himself caught between the freewheeling days of his cartoon-addled youth and new potential endeavors in social housing, is perhaps most popularly known in the non-architecture world for the firm’s 52-foot-tall, piloti-supported Coachella installation from 2016, A Tower of Twelve Stories. According to Lai, the all-white stack of funny shapes is meant to represent a sectional model through a fictitious apartment building and is inspired in part by the no-space theories of Rem Koolhaas. The steel-supported and plywood-wrapped installation is designed as “a tower without typical plans, but rather specific rooms with specific geometries” and was lit up in a sea of ever-changing colors when installed in the High Desert two years ago. Snuggle Los Angeles “We’re still young architects; we’re just less immature now,” Grant clarifies when the question of Bureau Spectacular’s age comes up. As the practice has matured, however, many of the defining characteristics of its earliest works have remained, including the approach of considering design at the intimate scale of the human body. Grant and Lai have various product lines in the works, including a roughly seven-foot-long body pillow designed by Grant that can be twisted into knots around the body or looped around one’s neck like a scarf. The scarf is currently under production and was recently for sale at the THIS X THAT Pop-Up at MOCA Geffen Contemporary in L.A. Backyard Urbanism Los Angeles A common thread throughout Bureau Spectacular’s work involves imbuing orgiastic fun into everyday typologies, a notion the team applied to a recent Los Angeles County–sponsored ideas competition for accessory dwelling units (ADU) called YES to ADU. Bureau Spectacular received an honorable mention award for the contest with the firm’s Backyard Urbanism project that proposes more or less to collectivize neighborhood backyards with multifunctional ADUs that each perform beneficial neighborhood services like providing shared swimming pools or acting as large-scale receivers for satellite television signals.
Max Hollein, an Austrian-born museum director, is set to take over the Metropolitan Museum of Art's directorship. Hollein's appointment follows the tumultuous departure of Thomas P. Campbell in 2017, a period noted for lagging financial growth and deferred maintenance. Since Campbell’s departure, the Met has been led by interim director Daniel H. Weiss, who will retain his position as the museum’s CEO. As the Met's tenth director, Hollein will be the first recruited from outside the Met's curatorial ranks in over six decades. Hollein's new job managing the largest art museum in America entails a broad set of responsibilities. The Wall Street Journal describes the position as a mix of "curator, lawyer, and diplomat," charged with managing a 2,200-person staff, overseeing maintenance of the Met's millions of objects, and leading approximately 40 exhibits annually. The new director’s proficiency in both modern and classical art may be partially influenced by his father, the late Pritzker-Prize winning architect Hans Hollein. Hans, who graduated from the University of California Berkeley in 1960, was a world-renowned postmodern architect. As noted by The Guardian, the Austrian architect was known for mixing forms and materials with overstated historicist references, creating one-of-a-kind projects such as Vienna’s Haas Haus. As reported by the New York Times, Max Hollein has worked as a museum director since the age of 31, stacking his directorship credentials with tenures at Frankfurt’s Stadel Museum, Schirn Kunsthalle and Liebieghaus. Hollein will be departing his position at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, where he has served as director since 2016. While his tenure at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco lasted just two years, Hollein has received praise for his leadership there. In a profile of Max Hollein published by The New Yorker, the young director is cited as boosting the museum’s digital programs through free online courses, as well as through more outlandish schemes such as creating a crossover between the popular video game Minecraft and the former exhibition “Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire.”
Switching stations, a necessary part of our electrified lives, are normally ugly as hell. From afar, the assemblage can look like sculpture, all painted metal and catenaries, but up close, the infrastructure in harder to appreciate, and even harder to accept in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Out in Newark, electricity provider PSE&G heard neighbors when they demanded the company's new switching station be a) beautiful and b) a real community asset. It took four years of planning to get there, but on a recent Wednesday, a stylish crowd of Newark residents gathered to celebrate the opening of an Adjaye Associates–designed switching station in the city's Fairmount Heights neighborhood. The 177,000-square-foot Fairmont Heights Switching Station commands a good chunk of a full city block, but it harmonizes easily with its more modest, three-story neighbors. To strike a coolheaded balance between the industrial structure and the existing residential fabric, Adjaye Associates' New York office worked with local firm WSM Associates to encase the switching station's unsightly components behind an art wall, a 1,790-foot-long concrete and aluminum edifice embedded with permanent works by 14 artists. While two of the works anchor the concrete portion of the facade, most of the pieces are mounted up high, near the top of the 30-foot walls, in niches that interrupt tastefully gold and subtly curved perforated aluminum screens. The most remarkable feature, however, is a concrete-columned agora at the front of the building whose two rows of 34-foot-high red columns support geometric canopies that cast complicated shadows on the sidewalk below. The arrangement can hold other artworks in suspension, but it also defines an otherwise throwaway cutout in the perimeter that can now be used for a market or other community events. In his remarks, Mayor Ras Baraka joked about Newark's seemingly forever-ongoing revitalization. Alluding to the process that created the building he stood in front of, Baraka called art and collaboration—between public and private, between community and architect—the "secret sauce" of successful neighborhood revitalization. Like other new, high-design public amenities in the tristate area, this project was brought on by Hurricane Sandy. In the immediate aftermath of the 2012 storm, local utilities took a beating, leaving around nine in ten of Newark's residents without power. In response, PSE&G began upgrading its infrastructure to anticipate overloads, and it planned a switching station in Fairmount Heights to improve its resilience in the face of extreme weather events. Adjaye Associates worked with the company, arts groups, and elected officials to deliver a design that exceeded expectations. "What I've learned in architecture and design is that, when the opportunity seems complicated, that's when your creativity has to rise to that opportunity," firm principal David Adjaye told the crowd. "One gets opportunities to work in amazing places, but it's actually much more rewarding to work in places people think design will not come to. [Here] we wanted to create something that would make a place." Outside Newark, Adjaye's firm has a number of projects in process or recently completed. The architect just revealed updated designs for a new public library in Winter Park, Florida, and earlier this month, The Architect's Newspaper (AN) spotted crews working on 130 William, Adjaye Associate's first New York skyscraper. Although the firm is best known for its work on the National Museum of African American History and Culture, its latest commission, a Manhattan espionage museum, opened to the public in Feburary.
Photography’s power to shape the experience of architecture goes on display at the Parrish Museum
Buildings have been reliable photography subjects since the medium’s invention, and a new exhibition at the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, New York, tracks how architectural photography sells a narrative as much as the buildings themselves. Through careful selection by guest curator Therese Lichtenstein, Image Building: How Photography Transforms Architecture examines how architectural photography inherently creates subjective experiences. From now until June 17, 2018, patrons can view 57 images by 17 renowned and lesser-known photographers who shaped a language of architectural photography that’s survived well into the age of Instagram. Organized thematically intro three sections, Cityscapes, Domestic Spaces, and Public Places, Image Building places historical photographs alongside contemporary images to track an evolution in style, technique, and places themselves. Modernism has proven an especially rich vein for these comparisons. Image Building places Julius Shulman’s carefully staged Case Study House photos against images of quotidian features from cookie-cutter, low-income housing. Each series is trying to sell something, whether it be an idealized life of post-war leisure, or commentary on the alienation that mass-produced housing induces. This dichotomy is on display throughout the exhibition, and hammers home the heightened artificiality of architectural photography. Buildings are three-dimensional structures and flattening them hands the narrative over to the photographer. For instance, Hiroshi Sugimoto’s fragile, out-of-focus takes on famously photographed architectural landmarks are a commentary on their now-lessened status in the world, having been sidelined and (literally) overshadowed in the years since their construction. But this series serves another purpose, as it highlights how vital the technical aspects–light, depth of field, the use of color–are to each photograph's meaning. Take Iwan Baan’s delirious photos of Torre de David in Caracas, Venezuela. Devoid of people, but featuring the scattered items they’ve left behind, Baan captures the chaotic energy present in the half-finished Torre de David skyscraper, now overrun with squatters, from the perspective of its inhabitants. Looking at The City and the Storm, Baan’s aerial photo of a Manhattan plunged into darkness following Hurricane Sandy, Baan singles out what he calls the “electricity haves and have-nots,” as viewers are drawn to the centers of finance that serve as islands of light in a darkened city. The Parrish Art Museum, designed by Herzog & de Meuron and shaped like an extruded “M,” built from simple materials and completed in 2012, played an important part in the foundation of Image Building. As Lichtenstein told AN, the Parrish itself was partly the inspiration for the show. The way it was sited, the photographs that Baan took of the building, and the long, uninterrupted views down the museum’s “wings” all stoked questions of how photography proliferates the ideas behind the buildings themselves. As it becomes easier and easier to proliferate images of buildings, looking back to the history of the form may provide an important tool for the professional and amateur architectural photographer alike. On Saturday, April 14 2018 at 5:00 PM, the Parrish Museum will host a dialogue between The Architect's Newspaper's Editor in Chief William Menking and photographer Iwan Baan on the use of photography to instill buildings with feeling and meaning. More information on the talk can be found here.
New Affiliates on the Block
For New Affiliates, an aesthetic of imperfection and openness
Although design studio New Affiliates has only been in existence a short while, its list of bona fides is long: Jaffer Kolb recently worked on major exhibitions at the Jewish Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art for Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Ivi Diamantopoulou spent time as an associate at MOS designing off-the-grid residences and a number of high-design interior projects—including, notably, the short-lived design gallery Chamber. These experiences set them up well as one of the most promising up-and-coming New York architecture studios and one of AN Interior’s top 50 interior architects. Jesse Seegers visited the duo in their NoHo, Manhattan, studio. New Affiliates officially started in August 2016, and yet you’ve already completed a house in Vermont, the Tunbridge Winter Cabin. How did that happen? Jaffer Kolb Well, we really started designing that in March 2016, and it was done nine months later. It was very fast. It was in this empty field, on a 65-acre property, and there was no infrastructure, so we had to build a 2,000-foot-long road, install phone lines, septic, etc. Ivi Diamantopoulou As we were about to finish Tunbridge, we got our client for the Bed-Stuy loft. A fashion designer came to us through her real estate broker and asked, “What does your work look like?” At the time, the cabin was mostly finished, so we thought it would answer the question. But the finishes were not in yet. As soon as it was completed and photographed, she said, “OK, yes, let’s do it.” Kolb But it’s true the clients that we’re working with now primarily want to know about a level of aesthetic taste. They’re less interested in the form of the cabin, so while someone might find these two intersecting volumes interesting in an architectural context, they’re just like, “What are the floors? What kind of counters are you using?” Fortunately for us, she liked them. That’s pretty funny because I was noticing that there is a real attention to light in a lot of the photographs, which really makes the interior seem much bigger and accentuates the carefully considered material palette. Also, it helps that your photographer, Michael Vahrenwald, is great. Diamantopoulou Yes! Michael is a gem. But we also studied how light would hit these two angled volumes and deliberately oriented elevations in all directions. The vignettes of the cabinet-handle detail and the baseboard seem like particularly important moments. Kolb It was one of many instances where we really tried not to reinvent the house and its parts, but instead to twist inherited details into something strangely simple yet fun. You know, we get it—we designed a dumb form that looks like a Monopoly block. The plan is basically two squares, and then two angles where the two squares meet, but playing with a pitched roof is the thing that makes it really interesting. Diamantopoulou What we worked toward with this project is a general idea of asymmetry and imperfection. It does come from two identical parts, but the way the interior is organized, it’s never a perfectly mirrored plan. You don’t stand in the middle of the space and see the same thing on both sides. There’s always something that’s off, and even with the cabinet pulls you mentioned: They’re not circles, they’re kind of a circle. Kolb This was Ivi’s idea, which I think is a brilliant one, because we didn’t want hardware. We drew it out on the actual, original cabinets for the contractor and he immediately started to plan uninstalling them to take them to his shop. Diamantopoulou And we stopped him and told him to do it on-site! Kolb He warned us he wasn’t going to be able to make a perfect circle, and we said we would much prefer a wobbly, funny, quasi-crafty thing than something that looks like it came from a catalogue. Not only were we fine with that, but we think it contributes a lot to the design. Diamantopoulou The exposed steel pipes are similar: They are not aligned with one another; they are not centered. Nothing in this project is trying to be at a specific location; everything is kind of relaxed. Kolb Yeah, it’s loose. We try to keep things informal. Diamantopoulou Designed but not design-y. There’s something refreshing about that attitude of open-endedness and relaxed acceptance of quote-unquote “imperfection.” Kolb It’s funny you say that, because we’re writing a text on imperfection and openness, and it’s not about the openness we took from the ’60s—let’s just make an open field and we can occupy it. It’s more like, “Why don’t we just make a thing and leave enough that is unsettled?” Diamantopoulou There’s this idea of an economy of means that comes from the world at large. I think also particularly our generation, living through the aftermath of 2008 and having to just do whatever you can with what you have. Kolb But there is a practical value to this. I think fussiness is out. I really do think that everyone we know works hard, but everyone we know also rejects the idea of working hard at the same time. I think it’s a new kind of labor politics around trying to resist the 24/7 work cycle we have been taught by the generations that preceded us—to let go a little, to engage architecture without trying to overly control it. Diamantopoulou And that inevitably translates into an aesthetic project—the implications of which become “making it work” with things we’ve inherited, from shapes to construction techniques. Kolb In some ways, the easiest thing to do is to make everything out of these inheritances. Design with circles and squares, but not even difficult circles and squares! Easy, flexible ones! Diamantopoulou Kind of flexible. Kind of… The art of the kinda.
In June 2018, the Department of Parks & Recreation is launching its Art in the Parks: UNIQLO Park Expressions Grant initiative. The initiative will deliver the work of ten emerging New York-based artists across ten city parks designated as in need of more cultural programming. The artists were awarded their grants in February, and are tasked with temporarily transforming these parks into cultural destinations attracting residents from across the city. This is the second year of operation for the Park Expressions Grant, which in total has provided $200,000 in funding for the Arts in the Park program. The initiative builds off of the NYC Parks’ longstanding Art in the Parks program that invests in the installation of temporary and permanent installations throughout the city’s public park system. Notable past installations of the decades-long initiative include the work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Robert Indiana and Tony Smith. The locations of this year’s art installations are evenly distributed across the five boroughs, and are listed below. Bronx: Dionisio Cortes Ortega, Sitting Together Joyce Kilmer Park Located adjacent to the Bronx Supreme Courthouse, Sitting Together is an interactive and sculptural critique of the status quo of proceedings in courtroom cases. Cara Lynch, I’m So Happy You’re Here Virginia Park I'm so Happy You're Here will transport a gradient of interior parquet flooring patterns, with a broad color palette, to the public ream. Brooklyn: Tanda Francis, Adorn Me Fort Greene Park Tanda Francis' Adorn Me questions the lack of African-American representations in American public space, and draws upon African sculptural tradition and Ife portraiture. Roberto Visani, (x)ofmanychildren Herbert Von King Park Visani's (x)ofmanychildren utilizes 3-D modeling software and is inspired by West African figurative sculptures. Manhattan: Karla & James Murray, Mom-and-Pops of the L.E.S. Seward Park Mom-and-Pops of the L.E.S consists of four-life sized mom-and-pop businesses that have recently disappeared from the Lower East Side streetscape due to rising gentrification. Harumi Ori, I am Here Thomas Jefferson Park I am here consists of folded and sewn orange industrial mesh depicting snapshots of Thomas Jefferson Park taken by Harumi Ori.
Zaq Landsberg, Islands of the Unisphere Flushing Meadows Corona ParkLandsberg recreates several islands from the adjacent Unisphere, which will form a publicly accessible archipelago representing the diversity of Queens. Rose DeSiano, Absent Monuments Rufus King Park These mirrored obelisks will stand upon blue and white Dutch Delft photographic tiles which interact with Native American pattern work. Staten Island: Jackie Mock, The Pencil Museum Faber Park The Pencil Museum is a collection of antique writing instruments, located on the former grounds of Johann Eberhard Faber's Mansion. Faber was the owner of the Johann Eberhard Faber Pencil Factory, the first of its kind in America. Adam Frezza & Terri Chiao, Stick Stump & The Lawn Lumps Tappen Park Frezza & Chiao's exhibit is a collection of playful forms meant for public interaction.
Gehry Partners onto the project, though Krens and Gehry have a longstanding relationship: the pair worked on the Guggenheim Bilbao when Krens directed the museum's New York location.Visitors will start in the Berkshires (North Adams's home) and head towards New York City, London, Tokyo, the Southwest, and the Rocky Mountains. Firms the world over are contributing models to the project. Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum Inc. is leading the design and fabrication of the interior exhibitions, with Jarzyniecki as a consultant, while Gehry is in charge of the exterior. The project will anchor the redevelopment of Western Gateway Heritage State Park, one of nine parks Massachusetts established in the 1980s in its former industrial cities and towns to spur tourism. That park is expected to host two other museums and a distillery. The museum, a for-profit enterprise, is expected to be complete in 2021 at a cost of $65 million. Thomas Krens, the man behind MASS MoCA, brought
The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) has selected landscape designer and artist Paula Hayes to serve as its first landscape artist in residence. With two sculpture gardens and lawns in addition to its main buildings, BMA sprawls over seven-and-a-half acres adjacent to Johns Hopkins University. Hayes, who's best known for her soothing (and sometimes wacky) sculptures, landscapes, and garden objects, will be in charge of curating the museum's overall physical environment for two years. “Throughout my career I have worked with a mix of public and private spaces, but working with an institution like the BMA is a new endeavor for me,” said Hayes, in a press release. “I am honored to have the chance to help shape the natural environment of such a prized community landmark and I look forward to collaborating on the vision for its renewed ecosystem.” The New York City–based artist designed a botanical sculpture for MoMA's lobby in 2010 that took cues from leopard slug sex, as well as a Canoes, a permanent work in the Seagram Building that was installed in 2016. She's also completed landscapes for clients like David Zwirner, Hauser & Wirth, and W Hotel South Beach. At BMA, she will curate an 87,000-square-foot sculpture garden by Sasaki, as well as a 17,000-square-foot garden by George E. Patton that contains early modern sculpture by Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, Isamu Noguchi, and others.
Austin’s new Central Public Library, designed by Lake|Flato with Shepley Bulfinch, opened last October. The 198,000-square-foot facility occupies a full city block adjacent to where Shoal Creek meets the Colorado River in the western part of downtown. Austin’s first residents settled here 180 years ago, and in the 20th-century municipal facilities like the Seaholm Power Plant were built nearby. Planning for the library began in 2009 as part of the district redevelopment surrounding the repurposed power plant. After some delays, the library, with a $125 million price tag, arrives as a major addition to downtown’s cultural landscape. In Austin, the new library doubles the book capacity of the previous central library, but books are not the focus of the architecture. For years, the library typology has been morphing into a more generic public space that supports a range of studious and social actions. Austin’s new Central Public Library, the city’s fourth, is an example of the library as urban amenity. Here, event takes precedence over edifice. As such, its traditional library aspects shrink while its public aspects sing. The library anchors a new district of Austin. Nearby, condominium and office towers race upward on either side of Shoal Creek; most of the neighborhood is recently completed or still under construction. The Green Water Treatment Plant Redevelopment itself will create 1.7 million square feet of leasable space. Next door, the former Seaholm Power Plant has been converted into offices for tech start-ups. One block north, the Independent, a Jenga-style residential tower similar in scheme to New York’s New Museum and now under construction, will rise 58 stories. An electrical substation, unable to be relocated, is screened by the “Power Picket,” a colored concrete post fence designed by NADAAA. Outside the library, a new bridge across Shoal Creek connects to the pedestrian-friendly areas of the 2nd Street District, itself developed just a decade ago, turning an underused set of city-owned blocks into a retail destination and the relocated home of Austin City Limits. The creek’s edge next to the library has been improved into a generously wide promenade. The library’s public energy starts here, as Austinites— ambling about the newest parts of their city or arriving from the airy parking garage below—are swept up into the expansive interior. This atrium is the most powerful space in the library. Atop the overhanging roof, a two-sided skylight with the profile of a cowboy hat directs sunlight deep into the interior, ensuring each floor is well lit. Every floor opens to the atrium—meeting rooms overlook it, wooden pathways span across it, and lighter stairs switchback upward on its edges. Its spectacle, part cavernous natural feature, corporate headquarters, and mall concourse, invites visitors to hike the trail rather than take the elevator. Upstairs, a variety of overlooks yield new urban vistas: To the north and east the rapidly changing skyline, to the south Lady Bird Lake, and to the west the beginnings of the Texas Hill Country. Lake|Flato are masters of the porch and have lifted this expertise into the sky, locating a series of outdoor spaces complete with hog wire enclosures and wood soffits on different levels. While the atrium is lively and loud, these spaces are pleasantly quiet. An eastern roof terrace concludes the trek with open-air views of downtown. The exterior, clad in tan limestone and gray metal panels, is the least successful part of the library. Corrugated profiles of rust-colored perforated metal stand off the southern facade and screen glazed areas elsewhere. Looking up, it is a busy assembly whose articulation is sourced from Austin’s contemporary vernacular, a language that Lake|Flato established and refined over the last thirty years. The library is one of the firm’s tallest projects, and perhaps that is part of the difficulty: Translating a style that works for low-lying buildings engaged with their landscape into a vertical urban condition is a significant design challenge. Inside, the atrium and central core break up the floor plates into a ring with interior stacks and seating on both perimeters. The verticality of the scheme promotes visual adjacency rather than physical togetherness. Throughout, the architecture creates comfortable vantage points, whose cumulative result is a casual publicness generated by all of the ways to see across and out of the building. The achievement and difficulty of this library is that its interior unfolds in a uniform topology of amenity space. The interior, shaped by its meeting rooms and furniture selections, feels more like the trays of a tech office or a co-working space than a library. In a familiar rupture of form and function, the architecture is decent in its design, while powerful in experience. The building is a constructed chakra of Austin’s energy right now, vortexed into being from the frenzy of development at work in the city. It feels like the karstic landscape and the accepted way of building upon it is peeled up and knotted into a bowline of pure Austin-ness. The library succeeds when one navigates it as a civic terrain—inside and out—and not explicitly as a distinct piece of architecture. It is a project that the public will embrace but will, despite its numerous charms, leave some architects wanting more. The central public library provides an image and experience of Austin today. But if this is the city now, where is it going? Outside the library’s buzz, the growing forest of towers, stitched together by creekside paths, offers one speculative way forward. Austin’s new Central Public Library will serve its publics for decades to come, as the city grows up around and out from it. If, as one Texan argued in The New Yorker last year, America’s future can be seen in the challenges of the Lone Star state, then what happens here takes on even greater meaning. What should this future look like? The eyes of Texas are beginning to see.
The new year has kicked off with the news of the Metropolitan Museum of Art changing its admission policy. Instead of a voluntary contribution, any adult without a New York State proof of residence will have to pay the full price of $25, with few exceptions. I used to work at the Met as an exhibition designer. Well aware of the financial troubles of the institution, I participated in brainstorming sessions among the departments to think of ways to generate revenue from visitors without adding a non-negotiable admission fee. I was working at the Met when it rebranded itself under the tagline of being "open" and trying to be more accessible "for everyone." The museum spent millions of dollars on a new identity and logo geared towards appealing to a broader public and getting rid of its elitist image. In this vein, the question of admission is not merely a financial one–it is a design and visitor experience problem. Ironically, the decision to charge selective admission fees will affect exactly the people the museum is trying to reach through expensive outreach and education programs. From a design standpoint, the visitor journey into the museum is now a divided one, with financial and psychological barriers to entry for those who are least likely to come. By drawing a line based on people’s ability to afford rent within the five boroughs, the Met is revealing its own contradictory nature. It wants to be exclusive and sophisticated, while still "for everyone." Even for locals who would technically be able to enter, the policy presents a deterring tactic. New Yorkers who lack proper documentation, including those without legal status, are affected, as are commuters who work in the city every day but live in a nearby state. It also excludes family and friends who visit their New York-based relatives on a budget and might not be able to afford what the Met leadership considers a "fair" price. This is not the only instance of the paradoxical spending priorities at the Met. The Met Gala swallows millions while the exhibitions department can’t afford necessary equipment. The cafeteria increased rates on subprime food the same year nobody got a raise. The museum was planning a $600-million-dollar expansion while not updating the completely antiquated signage in the Great Hall. Seen this way, the new ticketing policy is just the tip of the iceberg of irrational financial decisions. From a financial standpoint, the new admissions policy also entails a number of hidden costs. It makes the ticketing and admission process more expensive because of the added time needed for ID-checking and negotiating. New signage and way-finding needs to be designed and installed to explain the new policy to visitors. The Great Hall needs to be re-organized with new stanchioning to address the two-tier system. While tickets are one way of generating revenue, there are other ways to raise money from visitors while keeping admissions fees voluntary. They are all connected to a perceived value of the visit for one-off visitors and to a sense of identification for returning ones. This is where design can play a critical role in helping people understand that their contribution is actually valuable to the museum. The visitor journey starts with the online presence of the Met, and continues as people enter the museum and wait in line for their ticket. There are currently six ticketing booths at the Met, with long lines in front of the coat check and the sprawling retail store tucked in the corner. Because of confusing signage, people return to the Great Hall multiple times per visit to re-orient themselves, adding to the crowded feeling. A reorganization of the Great Hall is long overdue and could drive revenue with more effective ticket processing times combined with nudges towards retail and hospitality opportunities. Clear messaging and signage, open retail displays and optimized ticketing are all ways to make the visitor experience better and drive revenue at the same time. While the Met has discussed and tried to implement some of these ideas in the past years, the measures cannot be implemented simultaneously, so it is hard to measure their collective impact. Secondly, the internal priorities of different stakeholders make it hard to proceed in a unified and consistent direction. Perhaps the Met could start seeing the phased rollout as an advantage, where each measure can be fine-tuned and evaluated before final implementation. One hidden motivation behind the policy may have been to actually decrease the number of total visitors to address overcrowding. The argument goes that more people will end up coming who truly appreciate the Met, as the visit is something of value since it has a price tag. However, looking at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), which charges a mandatory admission fee of $25, the new policy is not likely to change the number of visitors significantly, just the make-up of the crowd. For that reason, the Met needs to evaluate beyond just numbers, and understand how the changed policy affects who can visit and who is kept out. While argued as a economic necessity, the Met’s decision to abolish free entrance for everyone but those with the right identification is designed to exclude society's weakest. It is not a coincidence that the measure was put in place in absence of a director. One can only hope that the new director will recognize the opportunity to roll back this exclusionary policy. At a time when the political climate is hostile to the values forwarded by museums and cultural public institutions, it is vital that the Met's mission of openness and access is actually put into practice.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is moving to expand the number of facilities it operates with not one, but two new potential sites in South Los Angeles. The New York Times reports, that the institution is looking to potentially expand to a 80,000-square-foot industrial building in South Los Angeles Wetlands Park and to a vacant site located in the 104-acre Earvin “Magic” Johnson Park in an effort to boost community outreach and make better use of resources as the organization plans a controversial $600 million expansion of its main campus. LACMA is currently working to acquire rights to use both sites, with the Wetlands Park location being further along in the approval process. Plans for that site will come up for consideration later this week by the Los Angeles City Council, which expected to approve a 35-year lease on the site so that LACMA can initiate its adaptive reuse project. The industrial structure LACMA intends to occupy dates to 1911 and was formerly used to store trains and buses that served the local transportation system. The single-story beaux-arts structure has sat empty for decades, however, even as the former rail yards surrounding it were converted into wetlands by planning and design firm Psomas. Plans released during the initial completion of the park’s water retention and landscaped areas in 2014 called for repurposing the structure into a rail museum, a plan that has since given way to LACMA’s potential reuse. The renovations are expected to cost between $25 million and $30 million, Govan told The New York Times. Referencing the museum’s plans for replacing its existing facilities in Mid-Wilshire, LACMA director Michael Govan told The New York Times, “You start thinking, where can the value of your collection and program be the greatest, when you’re behind a big fancy fence on Wilshire Boulevard or out in the community?” The museum—which receives roughly 25 percent of its funding from Los Angeles County—is also looking at a site six miles to the south of the park for a potential third location. Those facilities would occupy the site of the former Ujima Village housing project, which was demolished in 2009 due to contamination issues at the site. The park sits near the Blue Line light rail line and within walking distance of the Watts Towers arts complex. The potential ground-up development would present an opportunity for the museum to build a new structure in the park that could potentially accommodate LACMA’s off-site art storage facilities. The park is currently in the midst of a $50-million, decade-long renovation and remediation effort and local officials are reportedly receptive to LACMA’s plans. Regarding the two-site plan, Govan told The New York Times, “I can tell you now, it’s not an either-or. If we get both spaces, I think that it will be even easier to make each work. Each property offers very different advantages in completely different neighborhoods.” A timeline for the second site has not been announced. The location expansions would add another layer to the changing dynamic in the South Los Angeles region, which has slowly begun to gentrify in anticipation of the new Crenshaw Line light rail route and as high housing costs elsewhere push formerly-reluctant homebuyers into the area. As far as institutional players go, LACMA will be joined in the area by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which is in the process of creating a satellite facility in nearby Inglewood designed by Frank Gehry. Gehry’s plans for the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (YOLA) will repurpose an existing 17,000-square-foot facility into a new community center that will provide performance and rehearsal spaces for up to 500 young musicians. Designs for the complex have not been unveiled, but the new YOLA facilities are expected to open in 2022.