Search results for "Richard Meier"

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AN Video> Richard Meier shows us around his model museum
Once a week, Richard Meier can be found at his model museum in the expansive Mana Contemporary arts complex in Jersey City. This is where he comes to work on collages, collaborate with screenprinter Gary Lichtenstein, and visit with his daughter Ana, who runs a furniture showroom next door. https://vimeo.com/131434676 The 15,000-square-foot Richard Meier Model Museum is filled with some 300 models of the architect’s work—from the Getty Museum in Los Angeles to his proposal for the World Trade Center site in Manhattan. The museum also includes exhibition space for Meier’s sculptural work and a library with 1,000 books and magazines from his personal collection. The Architect’s Newspaper recently toured Mana Contemporary (a former tobacco factory) with its founder and director Eugene Lemay, and sat down with Meier himself to learn about the model museum and how his design process has changed over the years. More from our conversation with the architect is posted below. AN: Describe your typical day at the model museum. Richard Meier: First I have some coffee and sometimes I read the newspaper and then I start working on collages. I come out here—it’s nice and peaceful and quiet. It is very different from working in the office. Next door is Gary Lichtenstein’s studio—he is a print maker—and I make prints with Gary. We do things together that would not be possible if we did not have this space. Today, so much of architecture and design work happens on computers. To you, what is the importance of craftsmanship, drawing, and model making in a digital age? One augments the other. All of our drawings are done on a computer, but that does not mean that models are not also helpful. We continue to make models of every project as part of the process. What do you hope to do next? If I had my druthers, I would do more things in New York. It is a lot easier to get together, to meet, to talk about what we are doing. But today things happen and you never know where the next project might be coming from. Anything else people should know about the model museum or Mana Contemporary? It is an amazing sort of area. Within the building, there is a dance company, there are other artists, it is sort of a place to visit in the same way people visit galleries in SoHo or Chelsea. It is nice and quiet, and for me just a great place to work outside of the office. I can do things here that I would not be able to do in the office.
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To draw by hand or by mouse?
Denver Central Library by Michael Graves
Courtesy Michael Graves Architecture & Design

The dean of an East Coast architecture school was recently asked, “do you still teach your students hand drawing?” “No,” he responded, “and we don’t use slide rules or Rapidograph pens. Students today come to us as totally embedded in the digital world and that’s how they communicate and think. 

Yet here at AN we seem to receive a book or peer review journal nearly every week on the importance of freehand drawing in architectural practice. There is no question that buildings are no longer constructed following pages of hand drawings—that it is now entirely digital and the process is smoother and more precise for it. In addition, there is a digital divide still in the profession between those who trained and began practice doing hand drawings and those who learned entirely on a computer. Richard Meier famously goes nowhere near a computer. He gives his hand drawings to a computer savvy office worker to translate into useable digital files. The late Michael Graves, according to J. Michael Welton, who recently published Drawing From Practice, believed, “computers are now taking the architect away from what he and others call ‘humanism.’” More convincingly, Graves also claimed, “a drawing leaves the question open, and leads to the next drawing.” A computer, he argued, does the opposite. “It wants the finality of closing the question.

The beautiful watercolor drawings by Steven Holl are a testament to the power a hand drawing can still have in the design process. The real question is whether it is still necessary or even helpful for architects to know how to do a quick and simple hand sketch or rendering? Is anything more lost by architectural design and representation being filtered through a mouse pad than when writers changed from typewriters to computers?

Drawings are in some way drawings whether they are done by hand or a computer. Peter Cook, for one, claims, “one or two of us don’t much care whether the drawing itself is covered in lead and sweat, caressed by layers of sediment or watercolor, is a partly photo-shopped manipulation, is caressed by the soothing characteristics of Maya, or dragged at extra speed through a printing machine.” It is that quick transformation of an idea represented on a page before it goes into CATIA or Rhino that is the most exciting part of the design process and how it is expressed, represented, and communicated. Carlo Scarpa famously wrote, “I place things in front of me, on the paper, so I can see them. I want to see, therefore I draw. I can see an image only if I draw it.” There is still an open question whether computer drawings have this immediacy—let alone the poetry and design of the best hand rendering. In the late 1960 and 70s, as conceptual and video art swept through the art schools, artists did not drop drawing and painting. Much of today’s most compelling art is a synthesis of all these modes of presentation. Likewise, schools of architecture should not take a one-size-fits-all approach to representation and exclusively teach the digital.

It is likely we are in the middle of a change in design production similar to the moment Brunelleschi left the workshop and went into a quiet room to draw. But architecture schools should continue to promote the idea of collage in representation, so that all ideas are displayed equally, not flattened by design programs onto a monitor.

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Richard Rogers Calls on the Architecture Community to Save the Robin Hood Gardens
The clock is ticking yet again for East London’s Robin Hood Gardens, the 1972 Brutalist public housing complex designed by Alison and Peter Smithson. In a call to arms, Lord Richard Rogers and Simon Smithson, the son of the architects, have written a letter to over 300 members of the architecture and construction industries in support of the 20th Century Society’s campaign to protect the iconic “streets in the sky” buildings from being demolished.   The future of the seminal social housing estate has been in limbo since former Culture Secretary Andy Burnham granted it a listing certificate of immunity six years ago, essentially foiling any landmark designations that would ensure the buildings’ survival and preservation. Now that the certificate has expired, 20th Century Society, a conservation organization for modern architecture, is urging the new Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage to add the buildings to the statutory list of buildings of special architectural and historical interest. “The Smithsons were clearly great architects: the Economist Building, completed in 1964 and Grade I-listed in 1988, is without a doubt the best modern building in the historic centre of London. Robin Hood Gardens, which pioneered ‘streets in the air’ to preserve the public life of the East End terraces that it replaced, was the next large-scale job that the Smithsons embarked upon. It was architecturally and intellectually innovative. In my opinion, it is the most important social housing development from the post-war era in Britain,” wrote Lord Richard Rogers in the letter. RHG - model Composed of two long concrete blocks, the 7-story buildings in Poplar, London feature balconies that face a rolling, man-made green. Curbed reported that the goal was to “create a modern, bustling city in the sky,” but it has fallen into disrepair, beset with problems including crime and graffiti. Architects, including Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster, Richard Meier, and Rogers, stand behind the controversial postwar complex, lauding its architectural significance as an exemplar of the Smithsons’ New Brutalism—characterized by exposed materials, contextual design, and the marriage of regional styles and modernism. Below is the full letter from Lord Richard Rogers and Simon Smithson:   Dear Friends, I am writing to ask you to support listing Robin Hood Gardens as a building of special architectural interest, in order to protect one of Britain’s most important post-war housing projects, designed by Alison and Peter Smithson, from demolition. Previous efforts in 2009 to have the building listed failed, but the case has now been re-opened and we understand that the new Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage will be reviewing the arguments at the end of this week.  The buildings, which offer generously-sized flats that could be refurbished, are of outstanding architectural quality and significant historic interest, and public appreciation and understanding of the value of modernist architecture has grown over the past five years, making the case for listing stronger than ever. The UK's 20th Century Society has submitted a paper setting out why they believe Robin Hood Gardens should be listed (i.e. added it to the statutory list of buildings of special architectural and historical interest). Two further assessments are set out below: “Alison and Peter Smithson were the inventors of the New Brutalism in the 1950s and as such they were the ‘bellwethers of the young' as Reyner Banham called them. In many ways [Robin Hood Gardens] epitomizes the Smithsons’ ideas of housing and city building. Two sculptural slabs of affordable housing create the calm and stress free place amidst the ongoing modernization of the London cityscape. The façades of precast concrete elements act as screens that negotiate between the private sphere of the individual flats and the collective space of the inner garden and beyond. The rhythmic composition of vertical fins and horizontal ’streets-in-the-air' articulates the Smithsons’ unique proposition of an architectural language that combines social values with modern technology and material expression. Despite the current state of neglect and abuse Robin Hood Gardens comprises a rare, majestic gesture, both radical and generous in its aspiration for an architecture of human association. As such it still sets an example for architects around the world.” Dr Dirk van den Heuvel, Delft University, Holland. “The Smithsons were clearly great architects: the Economist Building, completed in 1964 and Grade I-listed in 1988, is without a doubt the best modern building in the historic centre of London. Robin Hood Gardens, which pioneered ‘streets in the air’ to preserve the public life of the East End terraces that it replaced, was the next large-scale job that the Smithsons embarked upon. It was architecturally and intellectually innovative.  In my opinion, it is the most important social housing development from the post-war era in Britain.” Lord Richard Rogers Last time listing was considered the views of the architectural community were ignored but we believe there is now a real chance of saving the building for posterity but only if the Minister hears, first hand, the views of the profession on the architectural merits of these exceptional buildings. Can we ask you to support the efforts of the 20th Century Society by writing right now to the Minster to support listing and saying why you believe Robin Hood Gardens should be saved? Click here to open an e-mail to the relevant Minister at the Department for Culture Media and Sport, Tracey Crouch MP: Minister-sportsandtourism@culture.gov.uk. For more information on the building click here, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_Hood_Gardens, and for details of the 20th Century Society case, please click here, http://www.c20society.org.uk/casework/robin-hood-gardens/ For Tweets: #SaveRobinHoodGardens Also, can we ask you to forward this e-mail to anyone else you know who might be willing to help save these important buildings? Yours sincerely, Richard Rogers and Simon Smithson    
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Michael Graves, 1934-2015
The Denver Public Library.
Courtesy Michael Graves Architectur & Design

He was a master of invention, and his ability to adapt propelled him to become not only a household name, but one of the most influential architects of his time. Over a 50-year career, he produced a body of work that both reflected and raised questions about the transitional era of which he was a part. In a global market increasingly driven by social media and visual imagery, he showed a way for architects and designers to distinguish themselves through branding, and to help their clients do the same.


Michael Graves.
 
 

Architect Michael Graves, who died on March 12 at 80, started as a wipe-the-slate-clean modernist but grew dissatisfied with the sterility of modern design and eventually embraced history and precedent as a way to add richness and meaning to architecture. He became one of America’s leading representatives of the architectural movement known as postmodernism. He was part of an early wave of “starchitects” who were recognized and won commissions because they had a distinctive, identifiable style. Some of Graves’ best work evinced a warmth and playfulness that echoed the exuberance of the 1980s and captivated clients, such as Michael Eisner at Disney.

Graves was equally well known for designing toasters, tea kettles, and other household products for manufacturers and retailers including Alessi, Target, and JCPenney. He promoted his designer housewares with such aplomb that he became as well known as the stores that stocked them. His showmanship helped pave the way for other celebrity designers to create product lines for retailers, including Martha Stewart for Macy’s, Diane von Furstenberg for GapKids, and Karl Lagerfeld for H&M.

Confined to a wheelchair for the last 12 years of his life due to a spinal cord infection, Graves reinvented himself as a “reluctant healthcare expert.” In that capacity, he focused on improving products and healing environments for the sick, the elderly, and the disabled, including America’s “wounded warriors” returning from military service.

 
 

In one area Graves did not change over time: As a Princeton University architecture professor for 39 years, during the advent of computer-aided design, he remained a staunch advocate of freehand drawing as the best way to think about and design buildings. His own lavish drawings and paintings offered a beguiling counterpoint to AutoCAD. He also refused to cede the job of designing building interiors to interior designers and space planners, preferring to design the whole building whenever possible.

Through it all Graves remained a strong willed provocateur and change agent, who gained an almost cult like following at Princeton and came to national prominence by questioning the status quo. Why can’t buildings be more welcoming? Why are hospitals so depressing? Why can’t good design be for everyone, at every scale? His timing was impeccable, in that he began his career at a time when modernism was no longer new and many architects were ready to explore other directions. Though he is associated with postmodernism, a label he resisted, Graves might more usefully be remembered as a proponent of humanistic design, an approach rooted firmly in the awareness and study of the human body, historic precedent, and context.

 

Graves became acquainted with the limelight early in his career, largely because of his education and connections. Born in Indianapolis in 1934, he studied architecture at the University of Cincinnati and Harvard University in the 1950s. He won the Rome Prize in 1960 and spent two years studying at the American Academy in Rome. After returning to the U.S., he began teaching at Princeton University in 1962 and founded his architecture practice in 1964. Early in his career, along with Richard Meier, John Hejduk, Charles Gwathmey, and Peter Eisenman, he was named one of the New York Five, a group of architects who adhered to modern design tenets. By the late 1970s, he had broken away from that approach and began designing buildings known for their color, ornament, and classicist forms.

Graves’ breakthrough project, and one that clearly signaled his shift away from modernism, was his competition–winning design for the 15-story Portland Municipal Services Building, which opened in 1982 and was considered the first major postmodern building in the United States. Colored in blue, green, salmon, and cream, and featuring ornamentation that some likened to gift wrapping on a holiday package, the building spoke in a new language for architecture and put Graves at the forefront of the postmodern movement, with which he was thereafter inextricably linked.

Over the course of his career, Graves designed more than 350 buildings around the world and more than 2,500 products. Besides the Portland Building, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2011, his portfolio included the Humana Building in Louisville, Kentucky, the Denver Public Library, the San Juan Capistrano Library in California; the Michael Eisner Building in Burbank, California for the Walt Disney Company, featuring the Seven Dwarves as caryatids; the Swan and Dolphin hotels for Disney in Orlando, Florida; and scaffolding for the Washington Monument while it was undergoing renovation. He drew widespread attention for his renovation of “The Warehouse,” his residence in Princeton. In the 1980s, he designed an expansion for the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, but it drew strong opposition and was never built.

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OBRA Architects
Casa Osa, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.
Courtesy OBRA

OBRA Architects works out of a snug loft space in Tribeca. Nearly every corner and surface is brimming with models, drawings, and delicate sketches. It is a fitting space for the 12-person practice, whose diverse body of work—including cultural institutions, schools, pavilions, residences, and emergency housing—reflects a sensitive, hands-on approach that values unfussy, contextual design.

The two founders, Pablo Castro and Jennifer Lee, established their firm in 2000 after working together at Richard Meier & Partners, and then later at Steven Holl Architects. While often flying under the radar, they have worked on some high profile projects, such as their winning installation, BEATFUSE! for the MoMA/P.S. 1 Young Architects Program in 2006. Together, they have accumulated an impressive portfolio that demonstrates their ability to conceive modern, yet often vernacular-inspired buildings, that quietly respond to place, and which are born out of a fluid, ever-evolving process.

“Sometimes there is a crystal clear idea that comes out the first day you start thinking about something and then everything organizes around that. And other times, that idea is not so crystal clear and you have to pull it out of thinking and feel through the work itself,” explained Castro. “So in a way, the work gets ahead of the idea and by doing the work, the idea develops.”

In the last few years, Castro and Lee have expanded their practice, opening up an office in China, where much of their work has been based. This surge of commissions evolved out of an invitation they received in 2008 from artist Ai Weiwei, along with 100 other international architects, to participate in a project called ORDOS100. Since then, they have participated in a number of exhibitions and completed several projects in China, including the Inside Out Museum in Beijing and prototypes for emergency housing called RED+HOUSING organized by the National Art Museum of China.

“It is good sometimes not to know exactly what you’re doing so you don’t close yourself off to possibilities you otherwise might not consider. We try to make it a relatively rational process but there is a fair amount of the unexpected,” said Castro. “It is about enticing the unexpected or the unanticipated to come forward.”


 

Casa Osa
Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

This far-flung retreat, sited on a former mango farm, in the middle of the rainforest was built for a nature-loving doctor and his family. The firm sought to engage with the tropical landscape by building a house, composed of a series of open rooms, which extends from the top of a hill down to the bottom, looking out onto Golfo Dulce to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Each space is connected through stepped ramps, shielded by a sloped roof, enclosing two gardens. These walled green spaces are designed to protect the owners from the poisonous snakes that emerge at night. The temperate climate allows for the house to be fairly exposed to the outdoors, with a completely open living room and simple fenestration in all three bedrooms, outfitted with just netting and louvers. Understated, yet modern forms and locally sourced materials—such as reinforced concrete, stucco, and wood from native trees—define the structure, while keeping it within a tight budget.


 
 

The Winemaker’s House
San Juan, Argentina

Designed for a winemaker and his wife—who also happens to be OBRA Architects principal Pablo Castro’s father—this compact, yet airy two-story home, situated in the arid wine country of Argentina, employs strategies to take full advantage of the region’s intense light. The house, made up of rectangular volumes, subtly melds the outdoor spaces with the interior. On the ground floor, where the dining room and living room are located, a prominent stairway carves geometric shapes into the space as it rises above a pool of water and leads up to the bedrooms, as if “crossing a lake” explained Castro. The light then bounces off the pool and enters the stairwell, casting long shadows as people walk up and down, reminiscent Castro said of Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase. The 1,200-square-foot house is primarily constructed of reinforced concrete and brick, with the facades rendered in a white stucco and wood windows made by a local cabinetmaker. Trellis structures create leafy enclaves where vines snake up the sides of the house.


 

Sanhe Kindergarten
Sanhe City, China

Part of a large residential development outside of Beijing, Sanhe Kindergarten is a thoughtful response to the country’s prescribed set of standards for pre-school education, by emphasizing light, space, and efficiency. Composed of 18 classrooms for 550 students, the 59,200-square-foot building is configured into three wings designed to make the scale more comfortable for small children. The classrooms, facing the south, are designed to emulate a New York City loft with high ceilings, abundant daylight, an elevated sleeping mezzanine for nap time (to save teachers time from having to constantly rearrange furniture), and direct access to areas of recreation through terraces or entries out to the playground. Terraces are connected through exterior stairways to permit fluid movement between the indoor and outdoor spaces so students can interact more freely. Tying the building into the local architectural landscape, the firm clad the facade in a grey-blue brick that is commonly used throughout Beijing.


 

Desamparados
San Juan, Argentina

Located in a new residential neighborhood on the western edge of the city of San Juan, this seven-unit apartment complex is positioned on a diagonal to extend the length of the facade, allowing for more windows to maximize light while mitigating solar gain. A matrix of small, equally spaced windows provide views of the Andes Mountains and keep the sun at bay during the summer. Built in brick and finished in cement stucco, the 5,000-square-foot building is painted in white to further reduce heat absorption. Two triangular gardens to the north and south of the building, including thorny mimosa trees, create a shaded reprieve for tenants on the ground floor. A circular planter encircles the rooftop terrace, which also features a small pool, barbeque pit, and gazebo for eating.

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Kengo Kuma designs a geometric dreamscape for Hérmes' Chinese brand, Shiang Xia
The acclaimed architectural firm that once decked the walls of a Tokyo Yakitori bar with LAN cables recently completed designs for the latest retail outlet of Shang Xia, a Chinese culture–inspired offshoot of the renowned Hérmes fashion brand. Touted as “a space combining retail, culture and the arts,” the Shanghai-based space is an expanse of natural wood and sandstone housed in an unassuming red-brick French villa. The interior walls sport a plastic-meets-cloth veneer that has been tri-axially folded into honeycomb-like indentations. Heat-treated and shaped in Japan, the material has the shape-memory texture and strength of plastic and the softness of natural cloth. Founded by designer Jiang Qiong Er, the brand is dedicated to the art of living as embodied by Chinese heritage and craftsmanship, retailing fine decorative objects, sculptural furniture, luxurious garments and rare accessories. Guided by a 21st-century Asian aesthetic, the elegant, 1,356-square-foot retail space is fronted by a pixelated all-glass veneer facing the thrumming streets of Xintiandi, near Shanghai’s commercial center. The work of famed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, the outlet includes exhibition space for arts and culture. The architect also previously designed Shiang Xia’s outlets in Beijing and Paris, the latter resplendent with a lattice of over 10,000 glistening tiles extending into a layered ceiling installation. Meanwhile, the Beijing store contained latticed partitions of extended aluminium, which evoked a brickwork skeleton.
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Sou Fujimoto debuts a white stainless steel pavilion for the 2016 Setouchi International Art Festival in Japan
Sou Fujimoto's white stainless steel mesh structure fronting the shoreline in Kagawa, Japan, draws the eye for its seemingly random geometry and net-like texture. The pavilion was conceptualized for the 2016 Setouchi International Art Festival, a hotly anticipated tri-annual affair. The nearly 30-foot-tall polyhedron allows visitors to enter its angular frame and view the shoreline as if from the inside of a very clean, angular fishing net. French architect and filmmaker Vincent Hecht documented the opening for the so-called Naoshima Pavilion. Although a recent entrant to the international market, the Tokyo-based Fujimoto is famed for “jungle gym”-like houses supported by lattices of steel and glass that dispose almost altogether of interior walls. In Tokyo, one such residence consisted of staggered platforms that moonlighted as floors, ceilings and furniture in keeping with spartan, furniture-eschewing Japanese style. In 2013, Fujimoto was the youngest architect to be commissioned to create the annual pavilion at London’s Serpentine Gallery, which has previously enlisted Pritzker Prize–winners Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry. Fujimoto fashioned a structure of slim steel poles painted white and arranged in an intricate lattice to blend with the surrounding greenery. On April 16, the architect released another book, titled Sou Fujimoto, Architecture Works 1995–2015, which documents over 376 pages encompassing his entire oeuvre from early competition proposals post-graduation to his latest international projects.
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Richard Meier completes first phase of Japanese residential skyscraper project
Construction recently wrapped on Richard Meier's first residential building in Japan—and with its white louvers and glassy facade, it sure has the architect's trademark look. The 49-story, 883-unit building in Tokyo is the first piece of the Harumi Towers, a residential development that will include 1,744 apartments when the second tower opens next April. On Meier's website, Dukho Yeon, the partner-in-charge, described the two buildings as siblings "with two unique designs each with its own character, image and movement, in dialogue and harmony with one another." The residential buildings, which will share amenities, also come with a public promenade along Tokyo Bay.
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UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music
Aerial view of the music school.
Iwan Baan

Kevin Daly Architects have brought the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music into the digital age, with additions that enliven one of the main entry points to the campus. Welton Becket designed the Schoenberg Music Building in 1955. His firm added another wing in 1985. Both are introverted red brick boxes, turning their backs on the Inverted Fountain to the west, and overshadowed by the tall arched facade of Knudsen Hall, the 1963 physics building across the cobbled plaza.

“Facilities of this kind are usually opaque,” said Daly. “The musicians are hidden away and have very little interaction or participation in the life of the campus. So we’ve tried to crack it open at a few points.”

The architects have reinterpreted the red brick and white stone palette of the campus in terra-cotta planks that are tilted in and out to catch the light and create a lively surface pattern. They come in two tones and three shapes, and are clipped to an aluminum frame. Angled planes with white trim and window reveals wrap a recording studio to the north and an ensemble/rehearsal room to the south. The asymmetry of their plans is expressed in the exterior geometry. In between is a glazed block containing a ground-floor café, second-floor faculty offices, and third-floor studios, with a computer lab, and mixing and editing bays below grade. These additions are linked to the existing buildings, which may be upgraded and extended in future phases of construction.

Douglas fir baffles shape the ensemble room.
 

The dull mediocrity of postwar additions to the UCLA campus is redeemed outside the building by leafy open spaces and mature trees. Over the past decade there have been some glimmerings of architectural awareness, and Daly has raised the bar. Michael Palladino of Richard Meier Partners made the Broad Art Center and Wasserman Eye Clinic studiedly reticent; in contrast, the Ostin Music Center is as joyful and exuberant as a Handel anthem or Stravinsky’s wind octet. Each of its three elements has its own expressive personality, but plays in harmony like a polished trio.

The precise detailing and pronounced horizontality of Daly’s composition stand in contrast with the massive verticality of Knudsen Hall. The scale is humane, the facades tactile, and the closed forms accentuate the transparency and openness of the glass-walled café and the projecting brise-soleils that shade the two upper floors. A crystalline porch provides a symbolic entry to the ensemble room, there’s an outdoor stage for occasional performances, and there’s an easy flow of space to promote social intercourse.

New buildings are clad in tilting and alternating terra cotta planks.
 

The two major interiors have similar end grain wood block floors, finned Douglas fir baffles over white plaster walls, and an angled soffit backed with sound absorbing materials. Windows pull in natural light and offer views. But each space has its own distinctive character. In the ensemble room, the baffles rise halfway toward the suspended plaster folds of the soffit. Daly worked closely with three acousticians to achieve a good balance for radically different kinds of music making, breaking up sound at a lot of different wavelengths, and settling on a 1.2 reverb count. The irregular floor plan allows musicians to come together in different configurations.

The recording studio is acoustically isolated within a steel-roofed concrete block building clad with terracotta panels. Isolation buffers and springs separate the inner steel-stud floor and walls from the outer shell and concrete slab floor, openings contain 1.25-inch laminated glass, and a low-velocity air displacement system employs the space between the folded fir soffit and roof as a return plenum. The wall baffles rise to full height, creating intriguing and warm geometric relief. In a city that’s full of professional musicians, this may become the recording studio of choice for its artistic and aural excellence.

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Alex Barmas on implementing innovative facades in New York City
For Enclos' Alex Barmas, true innovation in facade design and fabrication is about more than the latest technological bells and whistles. Rather, it is about exercising creativity despite the restrictions posed by tight budgets, compressed timelines, and aggressive real estate markets. At Facades+ NYC later this month, Barmas will moderate a conversation on implementing innovation with AEC industry leaders including Cutler Anderson Architects' Jim Cutler, Arup's Tali Mejicovsky, Michael Stein, of Schlaich Bergermann & Partner, and Richard Meier & Partners' Vivian Lee. "My intention is to get the panelists talking about the possibilities of producing truly fantastic architecture while constrained by very real-world budgets and schedules," said Barmas. "They have all worked on projects where an intelligent and responsive approach to design, and an intelligence about materials and tectonics have allowed them to deliver great projects under tight constraints. The panel will focus on the commitment and perseverance required to execute and deliver such projects." New York is a hotbed of facade innovation exactly because of the particular constraints at play there, said Barmas. In much of the United States, he explained, the litigious nature of the building design and construction market tends to discourage integrated project deliver. But "the New York market is actually a counterbalance to this. Due to the complexity of building projects, compressed construction schedules, and the need for coordination throughout the design and construction process, projects must take on a more holistic design mentality." At the same time, said Barmas, the drive to build taller and faster for the top of the market "has meant that there are some very interesting building envelopes either recently built, or under construction." As a case in point, he cited BIG's 625 West 57th Street (W57), calling it "a fantastic example of a really interesting curtain wall." All of this is not to say that new technology is not compelling—especially when made a part of built projects. "I'm very excited about the continuing integration of sensors, actuators, and other electrical components with the building envelope to create active and responsive facades," said Barmas. "This seems to be turning into a virtuous cycle where integrated systems are becoming more robust, system integration is improving, and all the parties to a building project are becoming more comfortable implementing these systems. System intelligence and integration enable us to achieve better performance with traditional building envelope components." To hear more from Barmas and panelists on bringing facades innovations to fruition, register today for Facades+ NYC. More information, including a complete symposium agenda, is available online.
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American Academy of Arts and Letters announces 2015 architecture awards
A star-studded jury has selected the winners of the American Academy of Arts and Letters' 2015 architecture prizes. Elizabeth Diller (chairman), Henry N. Cobb, Peter Eisenman, Kenneth Frampton, Michael Graves, Richard Meier, Laurie Olin, Cesar Pelli, Billie Tsien, and Tod Williams chose the awardees from among 41 nominations. Sheila O'Donnell and John Tuomey of Dublin's O'Donnell + Tuomey took home the $20,000 Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize, for which any architect "who has made a significant contribution to architecture as an art" is eligible. O'Donnell and Tuomey, who also received the 2015 Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects, are the creative team behind projects including the Sean O'Casey Community Centre (Dublin, 2008) and Belfast's Lyric Theatre (2011). The jury also awarded four Arts and Letters Awards in Architecture of $10,000 each. Yolanda Daniels and Sunil Bald, and Kate Orff won the first two awards, reserved for American practitioners "whose work is characterized by a strong personal direction." Of Daniels and Bald's work, which they undertake in New York as Studio SUMO, juror Billie Tsien observed, "There is always a sense of the weight of materials in what they do." Kate Orff founded New York landscape architecture firm SCAPE to combine research and practice on the urban landscape. Her recent projects include Oyster-Tecture for the 2010 MoMA exhibition Rising Currents, and Living Breakwaters for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, ongoing since 2014. Kurt W. Forster and Rosalie Genevro secured the second category, for an American "who explores ideas in architecture through any medium of expression." Forster, an architectural historian and founding director of the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, is currently an emeritus visiting professor at Yale. Genevro heads the Architectural League of New York. "Quiet wisdom as well as consistent and powerful leadership are hallmarks of Rosalie's 30 years as executive director," said juror Tod Williams. Select work by the winners, who will receive their awards at the Academy's annual Ceremonial and may, will be on display in the Academy's galleries on Audubon Terrace from May 21-June 14.
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Snøhetta continues San Francisco streak with downtown highrise, and the town is talking
The momentum continues in San Francisco for the Norwegian firm Snøhetta with a recently-unveiled tower at the corner of the city's Market Street and Van Ness Avenue. And the project has been garnering some fairly untraditional responses from citizens. As proposed, the curving, 37-story One Van Ness tower would be divided by three large cuts, designed to lessen wind load and provide new common spaces. Paired with SCB, Snøhetta will work to replace a tower originally proposed on the site by Richard Meier and Partners. The building's carved-out center has also provided inspiration for illustrators to poke fun. Illustrator Susie Cagle, who told CityLab that the design reminded her of the last SF boom's "bubble mentality," drew the distressed building on the left, while Twitter user The Tens seems to think the building doesn't much care for its neighborhood, as demonstrated in the image below right. San Francisco Chronicle architecture critic John King took note of the parodies and dubbed theSnøhetta's creation the "Talking Tower." He was quick to add in another tweet that the impromptu naming was "not a critique"—he says he quite likes the tower. AN recently talked to Snøhetta principal Craig Dykers about his firm's continuing success in San Francisco, including an extension to SFMOMA, a consulting role on the (recently revised, and moved) Golden State Warriors Arena and a (ultimately unsuccessful) shortlisting for the Presidio Parklands. snoheta-sf-tower-03