Search results for "whitney"

Placeholder Alt Text

How Graves, Koolhaas, and Piano would have altered Marcel Breuer’s iconic Madison Avenue museum
This month, The Metropolitan Museum of Art is opening the Met Breuer, replacing the Whitney Museum of American Art that called the Brutalist showpiece home for nearly five decades. Last year, the Whitney moved to Renzo Piano's building in the Meatpacking District. The Met is renting the Breuer (now the Met Breuer) on an eight-year lease while David Chipperfield works on a new space for contemporary art. The site of the Met's latest acquisition, however, has a colourful past, fending off near misses from Graves to Koolhaas and Piano.  AN Takes a look at what so nearly could have been.                                 In 1989, the New York Times ran the headline: "The Whitney Paradox: To Add Is To Subtract." Such was Paul Goldberger's distaste for what Michael Graves had originally proposed to lie adjacent to Marcel Breuer's building. Indeed, Graves' Postmodern proposal gave rise to Goldberger questioning: "What value does the Breuer building have, both as a work of architecture unto itself and as a part of the streetscape? And how gingerly, therefore, should it be treated?" Built in 1966, Marcel Breuer's Modernist granite building may be the epitome of abstract architecture, having remained detached for so long, shooing away any potential plunderers of its monumental message. Breuer, a Hungarian and product of Gropius' Bauhaus, went so far as to erect concrete walls to resist interaction with adjacent buildings, keeping them at arm's length.
Placeholder Alt Text

AIA New York announces 2016 Design Awards Winners
On Monday, a jury of eight independent architects, educators, critics, and planners gathered at the Center for Architecture to select the winners of the 2016 AIA New York Design Awards. AIA New York’s annual Design Awards program honors design by AIA New York members, work by New York City–based firms, and work in New York City executed by outside architects. This year, the jury sorted through 366 submissions to confer 31 Honor and Merit Awards, including nine Honor Awards in Architecture, three in Interiors, one in Projects, and one in Urban Design. Winning projects will be recognized on April 15th at a fundraiser luncheon for AIA New York. Beginning that day, winning projects will be exhibited at the Center for Architecture, with an opening reception from 6:00–8:00p.m. See below for the winners and honorable mentions in each category: ARCHITECTURE HONOR AWARDS Manhattan Districts 1/2/5 Garage and Salt Shed Dattner Architects in association with WXY architecture + urban design New York, NY Read more from AN here. The Broad Museum Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler Los Angeles, CA Read more from AN here. Chipakata Children’s Academy Susan T. Rodriguez (Ennead Architects); Frank Lupo; Randy Antonia Lott Chipakata Village, Zambia St. Ann’s Warehouse Marvel Architects Brooklyn, NY Read more from AN here. Carmel Place nARCHITECTS New York, NY Read more from AN here. David Zwirner Selldorf Architects New York, NY Read more from AN here. Ryerson University Student Learning Centre Snøhetta with Ziedler Partnership Architects Toronto, Canada Read more from AN here. LeFrak Center at Lakeside in Prospect Park Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners Brooklyn, NY Read more from AN here. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Building WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism East Hanover, NJ ARCHITECTURE MERIT AWARDS Sugar Hill Housing Adjaye Associates with SLCE Architects New York, NY Read more from AN here. Quonochontaug House Bernheimer Architecture Charlestown, RI Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive Diller Scofidio + Renfro Berkeley, CA Read more from AN here. Ernie Davis Hall at Syracuse University Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects Syracuse, NY Public School 330Q Murphy Burnham & Buttrick Queens, NY St. Patrick’s Cathedral Restoration Murphy Burnham & Buttrick New York, NY Read more from AN here. Choy House o’neill rose architects Queens, NY Whitney Museum of American Art Renzo Piano Building Workshop in collaboration with Cooper Robertson New York, NY Read more from AN here. CENTRO University TEN ARQUITECTOS Mexico City, Mexico Read more from AN here. Mercedes House TEN ARQUITECTOS New York, NY Read more from AN here. Corning Museum of Glass Thomas Phifer and Partners Corning, NY Read more from AN here. INTERIORS HONOR AWARDS Horizon Media Expansion A+I New York, NY CRS Studio Clouds Architecture Office New York, NY Van Alen Institute Collective-LOK New York, NY Read more from AN here. INTERIORS MERIT AWARDS Pivot Architecture Workshop New York, NY Red Bull New York Office INABA WILLIAMS (Design Architect), SLAB (Executive Architect) New York, NY Read more from AN here. PROJECTS HONOR AWARD 2 World Trade Center BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group New York, NY Read more from AN here. PROJECT MERIT AWARDS Chicken Coop Architecture Research Office East Hampton, NY 390 Madison Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates New York, NY Read more from AN here. Reinvent Paris: Creative Mixed-Use Hub NBBJ Paris, France URBAN DESIGN HONOR AWARD Plaza 33 W Architecture & Landscape Architecture New York, NY Read more from AN here. URBAN DESIGN MERIT AWARD The New St. Pete Pier ROGERS PARTNERS Architects+Urban Designers St. Petersburg, FL
Placeholder Alt Text

Sam Fox architecture students build expanding foam boat prototype
Ten architecture students at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis have produced a working boat prototype, using expanding polyurethane spray foam as their primary material. The master’s students are following in the steps of the likes of Frank Gehry, Greg Lynn, and Zaha Hadid, who all have recently designed custom yachts. Paired off in twos, teams designed and tested a half dozen smaller prototypes, which they tested in the Grand Basin in Forest Park near the Washington University campus. Two of the prototypes were chosen to move forward to further development and a full size prototype. The goal of the project was to test the material possibilities of a product that is easily found in typical hardware stores, and usually used for housing insulation. The expanding foam for the project was provided by Fenton, MO–based manufacturer Convenience Projects. “The first half of the project was about learning what the material can do. What are its capacities?” Master’s candidate Benjamin Newberry, told WUSTL’s campus journal. “How do you convert it into something that floats?” https://youtu.be/XuG6f3jldh4 Frank Gehry, an avid boater, recently finished FOGGY 2.0, an 80 foot long sailboat he designed for his friend, real estate investor Richard Cohen. In 2013 Zaha Hadid unveiled plans for a 420-foot superyacht prototype which is being used a base design for further investigations by Hadid and Hamburg-based shipbuilders Blohm+Voss. Greg Lynn launched his own carbon-fiber 42 foot racing yacht last year. Lynn used the sailboat as a means of investigating the possibility of monocoque construction with composite materials.
Placeholder Alt Text

Nice To Met You
Ed Lederman / Courtesy Met Breuer

The iconic Marcel Breuer–designed Whitney Museum is set to reopen March 18, giving back one of the city’s most beloved architectural spaces. The building will be reborn as the Met Breuer; the Metropolitan Museum of Art will repurpose our old concrete and granite pal as a contemporary arts outpost in an eight-year lease. The agreement includes a restoration and series of contemporary interventions to bring the museum up to speed.

Courtesy Met Breuer
 

“We wanted to take the building from harsh back to handsome,” said Met exhibition designer Bika Rebek, referencing a 1966 Ada Louise Huxtable article that called the quasi-Brutalist Breuer building “harsh and handsome.” Over time, the Whitney had removed many of the warm, “handsome” parts including rich wood details and colorful carpets.

Courtesy Met Breuer
 

The Met’s in-house design group and architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle (BBB) had three main goals in mind at the outset: To create a welcoming visitor experience, to treat the building as a work of art, and to establish a Met identity within the building.

These three goals presented challenges. “We had to figure out how to update the building without erasing history,” said Brian Butterfield, senior exhibition designer at the Met. Four interventions will provide this update, including the removal of the flag display in the front, a large media screen in the lobby, a new welcome desk with a subtle, angular form that nods to Breuer’s geometric twists in the original building, and a new public café space with a row of trees by Swiss landscape designer Günther Vogt.

Courtesy Met Breuer
 

BBB led the restoration, which included refurbishing the bush hammered concrete using a precise matching aggregate. They also refinished the floors and updated the wood and metal around the stairs, leaving the patina to show where hands had worn it away over the years.

The Met Breuer will open with its lobby and lower floor un-ticketed. The outdoor area below Madison Avenue will be open to the public, drawing in patrons and passersby. The inaugural exhibitions, also opening March 18, will be Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible, which focuses on a wide range of unresolved artworks by the likes of Cézanne and Jackson Pollock; and Nasreen Mohamedi, a retrospective of the Indian artist’s career that includes more than 130 paintings.

Placeholder Alt Text

AIA New York’s New Practices Committee Chooses Six Emerging Firms as Winners
New Practices New York, a distinguished competition that’s part of the AIA New York chapter, announced the six winners of its 2016 biennial competition on January 28. To qualify, the practices had to be located within New York City and founded since 2006; the competition was open to multidisciplinary firms, widening the talent pool. The winners are MODU, SCHAUM/SHIEH, stpmj, Studio Cadena, Taller KEN, and Young Projects. The panel of jurors selected the winners from 53 entries, the members are William Menking, AN’s editor-in-chief, Julian Rose, principal of Formlessfinder, Jane Smith, partner at Spacesmith, Martino Stierli, Philip Johnson chief curator of architecture and design at MoMA, and Ada Tolla, partner at LOT-EK. This year’s theme was Prospect and the jury evaluated the firms based on their ability to leverage multiple aspects of their projects and practices and the architecture profession as a whole. The firms will receive a stipend for an installation and exhibition at the Center for Architecture, which will open May 12, 2016, and will participate in symposia and lectures at the Cosentino Showroom, as well as travel to Spain with underwriter Cosentino. About the winners: MODU Codirected by Phu Hoang and Rachely Rotem, MODU is an interdisciplinary firm that focuses on directing people to their environments. The practice has won numerous awards and was given a commendation for “21 for 21” an award that recognizes “the next generation of architects for the 21st Century.” SCHAUM/SHIEH Founders Rosalyn Shieh and Troy Schaum established their firm in 2009 with an emphasis on the city at the scale of a building and the dialogue between projects and urban plans. They operate between Houston and New York City. stpmj Based in New York and Seoul, Seung Teak Lee and Mi Jung Lim founded their firm to explore new perspectives on material and structure with regard to our current social, cultural, environmental and economic fabric. Studio Cadena Benjamin Cadena founded his eponymous studio in Brooklyn; projects range from city planning and commercial projects to exhibitions, houses, and furniture. Taller KEN Part of the design team for the Whitney Museum of American Art, Gregory Melitonov and Ines Guzman founded their studio in 2013. The New York– and Guatemala-based firm’s work includes mixed-use development, residential projects, and installation design. Young Projects Bryan Young founded multidisciplinary design studio Young Projects in 2010 and projects include a retreat in the Dominican Republic, a townhouse in Williamsburg, and a Hamptons bungalow. The firm received the Architectural League Prize in 2013. The New Practices New York 2016 exhibition will be on view at the Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place, New York City from May 12, 2016.
Placeholder Alt Text

Architectural Criticism
Courtesy Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects

In nearly every issue, we invite architects, scholars, industry experts, and editors to candidly discuss high-profile projects, urban issues, and events in our architecture criticism column. This year, Los Angeles dominated the spotlight with its collective boom of new museums and buildings, while over on the east coast, Renzo Piano’s Whitney continued to spark conversation.

 

Princeton Train Station

Rick Joy's design for a commuter rail station in Princeton is endowed with civic importance and grace.

[Continue reading.]

 
 
 

Whitney Museum of American Art

Renzo Piano has not made a building to love, but one in which the art viewing experience is given priority.

 

 

UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music

Kevin Daly Architects brings the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music into the digital age.

 
 

Bill & Melinda Gates Hall

Michael Webb considers Morphosis' latest "scaly silver beast," this time at Cornell University.

 
 
 

Petersen Automotive Museum

Inspired by automotive design, the Petersen Automotive Museum stops traffic on Wilshire Boulevard.

 
 
 

Creating Community

Lorcan O'Herlihy designs housing in a precarious context.

 
 

Star Apartments

Is prefab the future for affordable housing in Los Angeles? A case from Michael Maltzan Architecture.

 
 
 

Jesuit High School Chapel

Hodgetts + Fung's first religious building creates sanctuary on Jesuit High School's modernist campus.

 
 
 

Edward M. Kennedy Institute

Rafael Viñoly's  Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston complements adjacent JFK Library.

 

 

Placeholder Alt Text

Desert X to bring the art fair circuit to Coachella Valley
File under “X.” A new happening is coming to California’s high desert. Slated to open in February 2017, Desert X is “three-month site-specific international contemporary art exhibition,” aka, an arid art event timed to align with Palm Spring’s Modernism Week as well as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Writer and curator Neville Wakefield, known for curating site-specific works, will serve as inaugural artistic director. It’s promised that his knack for engaging alternative spaces will be on view as artists install in non-traditional spaces—one might expect landscape interventions a la High Desert Test Sites in Joshua Tree—as well as more conventional settings such as the Palm Springs Art Museum, a late modern design by architect E. Stewart Williams and A. Quincy Jones’ midcentury Sunnylands Center & Gardens, renovated by Frederick Fisher and Partners in 2012. “The desert has long exercised its fascination over the minds of artists, architects, musicians, writers and other explorers of landscape and soul,” noted Wakefield. He sets a high bar for the commissioned art works, asking that they simultaneously reflect the ideals and politics of the contemporary art world and respond to the desert context. The press release suggests that the pieces will “amplify and cast a gimlet eye on the geographies, ethnic/social and historical/geologic layers that exist in the southern California desert, while also looking to major movements in contemporary art world-wide.” The exact hows and whos of Desert X remain a vast and unknowable mystery, to borrow the evocative language of the press materials. “The landscape of harsh desert, high mountains, lush golf courses and a vanishing sea, holds a rich history and maintains mythical proportions in the narrative of the American West—one that includes ancient Indian tribes, prospectors, pioneers, and cowboys,” explained Susan Davis, Desert X founder and board president. “We see Desert X as unique in shining a spotlight on the rich preexisting architectural, natural and cultural legacies of the area, while offering the public a way to explore, activate and interrogate current, timely and historic issues through contemporary, creative practices.” However, Desert X’s board is well connected to the regional, national, and international arts organizations, including major arts institutions, such as Whitney Museum of American Art, the Park Avenue Armory Conservancy, the New Museum, the Hammer Museum, the Serpentine Galleries, and Creative Time. The truth is out there: Wakefield will share his vision and plans for the inaugural exhibition on January 29, 2016 as part of the Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2016.
Placeholder Alt Text

3595 Broadway
3595 BROADWAY IS NOT NAMED AFTER A PATRON, AND HAS A LOW ONLINE PROFILE , BUT ITS ARCHITECTURE LAYS BARE SOME OF THE MOST PRESSING ISSUES IN UNIVERSITY DEVELOPMENT.
Marcelo Lopez-Dinardi

Designed by Renzo Piano, the Jerome L. Green Science Center at the new Columbia University Manhattanville Campus along 125th street and Broadway is basically a square and less expressive version of the Whitney Museum. The Columbia University Medical Center and Graduate Education building at 104 Haven Avenue between 171st and 172nd streets was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. It epitomizes the architectural expression of continuity that was characteristic of the late 1990s and early 2000s and is intended to “foster connection and collaboration” among students, faculty and the medical community.

However, it’s Columbia’s 3595 Broadway, a massive, twelve-story concrete structure on the southwest corner of 148th street, that can help us ask questions about the role of the university and its expansion plans. This building is designed by a “specialized” local architectural firm to create “sustainable communities” through “well-designed and high-performance architecture” projects. These designations are highly questionable.

3595 Broadway is not named after a patron or an academic figure, it is only a series of numbers. The numbers are the product of a lot of parcel consolidation, programmatic swapping, development air rights, easement acquisition, and a site strategy that included the demolition of a townhouse built in 1901. 3581-87 Broadway, 3595 Broadway, 3591-3599 Broadway and 600 W 148th Street are all numbers involved in the real estate and architectural operations.

The Columbia University Medical Center by Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
Courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler
 

3595 Broadway isn't featured in the same high-profile way on the Columbia site like its uptown companions. Here is 3595 Broadway, Manhattanville, and the Medical Center.

The new building will host the Meeting with God Church Inc., currently next door (occupying 3581-87 Broadway since 2007), formalizing the vacating and lot consolidation with 147th street for a future numbered project (also owned by the university). It proposes to construct and manufacture affordable housing 20 blocks north of the Manhattanville Campus as a measure to supply housing to “some residents” who were displaced by the larger operation on 125th street.

3595 Broadway is a massive opaque structure broken in two main volumes with a distinct brick cladding: Red terra cotta and sand-cream are the agents of contextualism. A third color of brick—black—is used to articulate the space between the two main volumes toward Broadway to formally give the impression that there are two buildings instead of one. A third, setback volume atop is fully clad in sand-cream color with black-brick details. A dark-brown cast-stone base fixes the building to the ground.

Renzo Piano’s Jerome L. Green Science Center.
Courtesy of RPBW
 

3595 Broadway followed its legal capacities to build to the very edge of the plot line, permanently blocking two windows per floor of the adjacent 100-year-old brownstone on the west, condemning those units to gloomy interiors. The site’s previous retail building—built around 1969—had a typical eight-to-ten foot easement space for light and ventilation to the building next door. That space gained adds roughly 3,000 square feet to the first four floors, a drop in 3595’s 150,000-square-foot bucket. It seems that the domestic living environment of at least four units with three to five people each (12 to 20 total) was not enough of a reason to keep the light and ventilation patio for the mental sanity of all; it was not enough of a community.

The building is said to have three green roofs. I have seen one from my building rooftop and it’s adorned with mechanical air handling units and exhausts. There is already a surveillance system in place, as well as exterior lighting that produces yellow light typical of the 1990s, most importantly, it is vandal-proof.

I am glad Columbia University will divest from for-profit prison companies (they should eliminate all their ties with them), but perhaps they should also revise the legibility and legality frameworks for their expansion plans. They could re-evaluate what their architecture can be: provocative, controversial, agonistic, or radical. They could at least clarify what “high-performance” means for the new building, and which “sustainable community” they are sustaining. Unfortunately, they fall into the “well-designed” project rhetoric that lacks a proposition. I believe a research university at the highest level should also have highest design ambitions and competencies.

Renderings of the Jerome L. Green Science Center.
Courtesy of RPBW
 

To what “community” does this building serve by implementing these architectural strategies characteristic of the neoliberal propositions of the 1980s? 3595 Broadway’s apparent non-confrontational formal language visualizes critical conditions about how the university positions itself when speaking to their ivy-league-educated audience in their Manhattanville and Medical Center buildings in comparison to the public around their 3595 Broadway building at 148th street. The building in Hamilton Heights is evidence of how architecture is manipulated and treated with different standards (nothing new here) and how their formal, material, visual, programmatic, and even legal strategies (this is the only project where there is no executive architect separated from the design architect) are a concrete infrastructure for impressing and perpetuating what this seemingly innocuous building is doing: patronizing, marginalizing, and stigmatizing a neighborhood with the this-is-what-you-deserve-community-building proposition. Here, both the legible and legal framework clarify the role of architecture as a media for formulating ambitions, or lack thereof.

What is being manufactured is probably something different—something that will not speak to two-tone bricks compositions or legal compliance of construction codes. It makes legible some of the hard realities of the local and global expanding American university, where the school is both a real estate developer and an educational facility. Can or should the university aim for less apparent legibility in order to truly embrace progressive modes of building the future following its academic mandate? Can or should the university stop contributing as an inane city developer with their apparent mundane buildings? 3595 Broadway should not be a bland and insipid sample of physical reality. I am sure the university aims for an improved future for all, but it cannot fail in communities where it may be needed more.

The selection of the architect as designer and the executive architect also supports the problematic legibility all these projects are communicating willfully or not. The hiring of a “specialist” firm to work on 3595 Broadway reaffirms both the lack of “specificity” that a project may require (and questions the idea of specialization itself) and the problem of disciplinary knowledge in an architectural commission.

All the university’s expansions will for sure score the “green points” needed for institutional validation including that of the Enterprise Green Communities, although I am still struggling to find the “high” and the ‘”performance” in 3595 Broadway. Perhaps it is only in the less apparent numbers that no one in the neighborhood will see or experience with exception of rent hikes. There is much to discuss about the Manhattanville Campus and the Medical Center, their content, and the role of the university in them. Unfortunately, 3595 Broadway is a mute conversation.

Placeholder Alt Text

Building of the Year: East
Renzo Piano Building Workshop in collaboration with Cooper Robertson

For AN’s third annual design awards, seven jurors gathered in New York to review nearly 500 projects submitted by architects and designers.

The jury included Amale Andraos, dean of Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation; Nicholas Koster, project manager at Snøhetta; Chee Perlman, editor and curator of Chee Company; Ana Garcia Puyol, computational designer at Thornton Tomasetti; Ali Tayar; founder of Parallel Design Partnership, Terence Riley, founding partner at Keenan/Riley, and Mimi Zeiger, AN’s west coast editor.

In each category, a winner and an honorable mention were selected, although there were a couple of ties. Over the coming days, we will be posting their selections in the 21 categories.

Building of the Year Winner

Nic Lehoux
 

Whitney Museum of American Art
Architect: Renzo Piano Building Workshop in collaboration with Cooper, Robertson & Partners
Location: New York

Nic Lehoux
 

Located on Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District, the new Whitney Museum of American Art is at the epicenter of New York’s newest cultural district. Clad in pale blue-gray steel panels, the nine-story, powerfully asymmetric building responds to its low-rise neighbors with a series of linked terraces that step back from the adjacent High Line. Next to the Hudson River, the design anticipates the effects of climate change and protects the museum from storm surges and rising water levels with a combination of integrated flood gates, protection at all possible infiltration points, and temporary deployable barricades.


Honorable Mention

Courtesy Jonathan Levi Architects
 

Building of the Year: East
Project: Field Public Elementary School
Architect: Jonathan Levi Architects
Location: Weston, Massachusetts

 

Placeholder Alt Text

Taking Buildings Down: Storefront provokes ideas on the built environment in new competition
Perhaps following up on its Halloween Party this year that explored the theme "DEMO," as in DEMO-lition among other words sharing the root, the Storefront for Art & Architecture has launched a competition called "Taking Buildings Down," where “removal is all that is allowed.” The competition takes what is usually considered to be a violent act and calls upon “anyone interested in articulating visions for the future of our built environment” to submit proposals for “the production of voids; the demolition of buildings, structures, and infrastructures; or the subtraction of objects and/or matter as a creative act.” The intent of the “competition of the competition of competitions” is to elicit ideas about demolition, to provoke criticism, and to speculate. Judges include Jeff Byles, author of Rubble: Unearthing the History of Demolition; architect and professor at Yale University, Keller Easterling; associate professor and associate dean at the New School’s School of Media Studies and adjunct curator of new media arts at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Christiane Paul; and principal of  Selldorf Architects, Annabelle Selldorf. Monetary prizes will be awarded to first, second, and third place winners; winning entries and “any additional entries deemed to be worthy of publication” will be published by Storefront for Art & Architecture. Entries are due on January 20th. More information, including specific eligibility and criteria, can be found here.
Placeholder Alt Text

Mathews Nielsen
Courtesy Mathews Nielsen, Heatherwick Studio

The history of landscape architecture in America goes back to the writings and activism of Andrew Jackson Downing and, of course, Frederick Law Olmsted. While there has always been a segment of the profession that focuses on estate gardening and horticulture, there are other firms who have a more socially engaged and expansive view of the profession. One thinks, for example, of Thomas Church, Dan Kiley, Lawrence Halprin, and Garret Eckbo, who all brought new ways of thinking and transforming the built landscape but primarily focused on the public nature of their practice and commissions.

Perhaps the most famous of these figures was Ian McHarg, a Scotsman who founded the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, but who more importantly brought a renewed emphasis on urban planning and what he called “natural systems” (with his 1969 book Design with Nature) into the profession. Today, landscape architecture combines McHarg-influenced environmental awareness, city planning, storm water management, and aesthetic concerns of the in-between spaces we inhabit in the city. This public nature of the profession is the focus of many firms today—no more than at the New York office of Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, who work almost exclusively on public, state, and institutional projects. More than nearly any other firm, they have transformed the postindustrial landscape of New York. It is very important, Signe Nielsen said, “that our work is publicly accessible and as a result we don’t generally do private residential projects or we don’t do green field sites, i.e. commissions to transform farmland into housing or forests to shopping centers.” Improving the life of everyone in the city is important, and if there is a social justice component, then all the better.

The 30-member firm (approximately 60 percent are licensed landscape architects) believes that “designers are public intellectuals” and as such they teach, are engaged in professional societies, and lecture around the country on their profession—one that Kim Mathews writes, “embodies hope and requires a longer, larger vision.”

Signe Nielsen has also served as president of the New York Public Design Commission for four years and claims that “we don’t just work in challenged neighborhoods, but our work has to be publicly accessible and leave the city better than before we were engaged.”

 

Food Center Drive
South Bronx, NY

This transformation of Food Center Drive takes one of the least pedestrian-friendly and polluted boulevards in the South Bronx and makes it a public amenity. This mile-long route serves as an entry into the city’s Food Distribution Center for its 16,000 employees and those who live around the center. The design evolved out of Mathews Nielsen’s earlier South Bronx Greenway Master Plan and creates a shared pedestrian vehicle path by reconfiguring the traffic pattern to a one-way loop, thereby reducing the road from six to five lanes. But even more it incorporates innovative storm-water capture and biofiltration strategies to contribute a significant new biomass. Within the median and new greenway buffer, there are over 700 trees in addition to understory grasses and shrubs. The project is scheduled for completion in October.

 

Industry City Courtyard
Brooklyn, NY

The redesign of Brooklyn’s long-derelict Industry City courtyard is a model of how to take an impressive, but slightly oppressive interior open area and make it desirable. The space divides two 600-foot-long buildings (and a shorter third side connecting structure) with 33,000-square-feet of courtyard space open toward Gowanus Bay, the sunset, and a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. To complement the large mass and immensity of the overall space, they used a plant palette of ferns and various monotone greens laid out in large directional swaths. Further, the form of the columnar maple trees plays off of the repetition of the building columns as well as the industrial smoke stacks and ventilation pipe remnants. Trees were chosen for the beautiful red fall color that will inevitably complement the weathering steel forms in the courtyard. The schedule of the project from concept to construction was condensed into just ten months.

 

Pier 55
New York City

In 1993, the firm began designing what would become the most complete (and badly maintained) contemporary park and infrastructure in Manhattan—Hudson River Park. Now, they have been chosen to add to the park with the creation of a new freestanding Pier 55 that sits off the shoreline just north of the new Whitney Museum. The Pier, which they are designing with the English Heatherwick Studio, is meant to be a 2.4-acre public park and performance space on the Hudson River. The form is conceived as a “leaf floating in the water,” and contains “an unexpected topography” of four lifted corners, each manifesting a landscape typology derived from their solar aspect, slope, and relationship to paths and performance venues. A variety of paths and stairs create circuits throughout the pier to maximize engagement and convenience for event-goers. The project is largely funded through a private donation of the Diller–von Furstenberg Foundation and is scheduled to begin construction in May 2016.

 

Randall’s Island Connector
South Bronx, NY

Mathews Nielsen seems to be single-handedly transforming the South Bronx into a borough of green boulevards, parks, and pathways. Taking off from their South Bronx Greenway Master Plan, they have created a brilliant connecter from the area to the recreational facilities on Randall’s Island. It not only creates access to badly needed recreational facilities, but also increases the area’s green infrastructure by treating all storm water on site and using native, drought-tolerant plants to avoid irrigation.

The quarter-mile connector runs from 132nd Street in the Bronx, underneath the Hell Gate Bridge viaduct piers, through a historic railway facility still in use, and over the Bronx Kill waterway to Randall’s Island. It includes a sustainable landscape, an at-grade rail crossing, pedestrian-bicycle improvements, and a pedestrian-bicycle bridge. Pedestrians and cyclists have a powerful landscape experience as they pass through the massive Hell Gate Bridge viaduct piers. The project will be open to the public fall 2015.

Placeholder Alt Text

Aarhus Bling: James Turrell working with Schmidt Hammer Lassen to design ARoS Art Museum Expansion
While the world has been discussing how much Drake’s “Hotline Bling” music video borrowed from James Turrell’s installations (Hint: a lot*), ARoS Aarhus Art Museum in Denmark announced that the artist is collaborating with Danish architecture firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen on the museum’s new expansion. “The Next Level” expansion project will contain a 12,900-square-foot subterranean gallery and two semi-subterranean art installations, The Sphere and The Dome. Intended to “bring the museum into the elite world of modern art museums,” the extension will cost an estimated $32 million. Schmidt Hammer Lassen originally designed the space in the early 2003 and is working with the museum and the artist to retain the building’s original integrity so the expansion will feel seamless and natural. The firm also worked with Olafur Eliasson on Your Rainbow Panorama, which opened last year. “The Next Level project will develop the museum horizontally in contrast to the existing vertical movement and it is exciting to work with the great lines spanning from the river to the square of the Aarhus Music Hall. Our studio is not just designing a new room for a new artwork, we are co-creating the space and the installation simultaneously with James Turrell,” Morten Schmidt, founding partner at Schmidt Hammer Lassen said in a press release. It seems that Turrell is having quite the week. In addition to the AroS expansion, it was also reported that Yvette Lee of the Guggenheim and Whitney Museum will be the new director of the Roden Crater in Arizona (The crater’s completion date has still not been released.) Responding to Drake's video set*, Turrell had a few select words. "While I am truly flattered to learn that Drake f*cks with me," wrote Turrell in a statement from his lawyer via Vice, "I nevertheless wish to make clear that neither I nor any of my woes was involved in any way in the making of the ‘Hotline Bling' video." If you want to decide for yourself, we recommend watching the music video below and then glancing at a few installations. (If you want to go further down the bizarre rabbit hole, AN has also previously reported rumors from CityLab that “Hotline Bling” is about poor city planning.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxpDa-c-4Mc