Search results for "Richard Meier"

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Criticism
Morphosis' Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas.
Iwan Baan

A lot of the people who write for us, including some of our in-house editorial staff, have critical ideas about architecture. Here’s what they said about several different buildings in 2013.


 

Klyde Warren Park

Can a new highway-cap park unite Downtown Dallas in pedestrian-friendly planning?

 
 

 

Hunter's Point South Park

Alan G. Brake explores New York's newest waterfront park by Thomas Balsley Associates and Weiss/Manfredi.

 
 

 

Morphosis' Model Museum

Michael Webb explores the firm's first museum, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas.

 

 

Chipperfield's SLAM Dunk

Sophisticated expansion at the St. Louis Art Museum exhibits deferential monumentality.

 
 

 

Greeks and Geeks

Ennead's Bing Concert Hall helps build an arts district on Stanford's campus.

 
 

 

The Hepcat Seat

New performance space for the San Francisco Jazz Society achieves an elegant simplicity.

 

 

Kimbell Art Museum Piano Pavilion

Renzo Piano creates a subtle counterweight to Louis Kahn's masterwork in Fort Worth.

 
 

 

Day Court

Richard Meier's new federal courthouse gives downtown San Diego a new civic icon.

 
 

 

Metalsa Center

Brooks + Scarpa design an innovative manufacturing and research facility in Mexico.

 

 

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Studio Visits
Studio Retreat in Chappaqua, New York by Workshop/apd.
T.G. Olcott

One of our most popular columns is Studio Visit. That’s where an editor or freelancer visits an architectural practice and then writes about the way that practice goes about its business and describes four or five of its recent projects. In 2013 we visited Richard Meier & Partners Architects and a lot of other firms whose names might not be quite as well known.

Family and PlayLab

Two young firms collaborate to create publicly engaged design.

Continue reading.


 

Studio V

New York firm interested in the intersection of modern architecture and changing nature of cities.

 
 

 

Bernard Tschumi Architects

Checking in with an important voice in New York's architecture scene since 1976.

 
 

 

Richard Meier & Partners

Celebrating 50 years of architectural practice, Richard Meier looks to build the future.

 

 

David Baker+Partners

San Francisco-based firm uses simple forms and materials to create dynamic mixed-use projects.

 
 

 

Stamberg Aferiat

New York architects employ bold colors to animate space and form.

 
 

 

Workshop/apd

New York-based firm crafts sleek residences and impactful urban spaces.

 

 

BAM Architecture Studio

New York-based firm employs a business-centric approach to design.

 
 

 

Altamanu

Chicago-based landscape architects knit together infrastructure and public space.

 
 

 

Max Levy

Dallas architect looks to nature for inspiration in his designs.

 

 

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Plenoptic Fountainhead
Herzog and De Meuron open their Perez Art Museum Miami.
Iwan Baan

Miami continues to reshape its image and rebrand itself as a vibrant new city under the sun: part Utopia, part Dystopia, but swelling with dozens of riotous new projects, all screaming for attention. Every brand-name architect in the world came to town the week of Art Basel to promote yet another high profile project, like the new Miami Beach convention center and park by Rem Koolhass/OMA. There's a 60-story "exoskeleton" tower and vulvic parking structure in the works by Zaha Hadid; condos by Ceasar Pelli; shimmering glass cubes by Richard Meier over the old Surf Club; a residential and cultural complex by Norman Foster and Rem Koolhaas; twin towers shaped like dueling tornados by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels; and a science museum by Nicholas Grimshaw.

There's something oddly pale and bone-like about so many of these proposed structures. They are presented in garish digital renderings, as if already doomed and dried out in the sun, exploiting architecture as the mightiest of marketing tools with riotous sculptural forms, oversized balconies expanding giddily into fleckless blue skies, daring verticality, shifting axes, structures revealed in all-over transparency and other forms of extreme architectural voyeurism, sparsely populated by slender digital figures—one percenters in tailored suits and bikini-clad super models—who appear to be enjoying a future of sexual experimentation, sunbathing, and floating listlessly in digital blue swimming pools. In a rendering for one new structure, a single heroic figure stands in silhouette on a cantilevered balcony, sipping a mojito and watching the sunset over Biscayne Bay. He appears to be the Architect, the new Howard Roark in sybaritic suspension, oblivious and unaware of the rising waters and social unrest brewing down below. And within this sunny Fountainhead, the moody charcoal chiaroscuro that Hugh Ferriss popularized in his Depression-era renderings has been replaced by a completely shadow-less empire awash in waves of translucent blue pixels.

As Miami's skyline rises higher with glassy phallic towers, the city continues to sink at ever alarming rates. On any given day, you can find areas that are already under water, depending on the tide and lunar cycle, yet there was hardly a mention of "green" or climate change all week, except for the engulfing sand dune at the entry to Design Miami that was designed by Garrett Riccardi and Julian Rose of formlessfinder and hinted at some sort of cataclysmic event. Although, the engulfing sand dune at the entry to this year's Design Miami hinted at some sort of cataclysmic event. “Miami, as we know it today, is doomed,” said Harold Wanless, chairman of the department of geological sciences at the University of Miami. “It’s not a question of if. It's a question of when." Scientists predict that by 2030—only 16 years from now—the sea will have risen more than two feet and as much as six feet by the end of the century or even sooner, thereby creating a Miami bling version of Atlantis. Dutch flood experts were flown in to consult and Broward County has finally enacted a climate change master plan, but developers in Miami Beach seem to have missed the memo.

This is all part of a trend that started way back in 2011 with Frank Gehry’s New World Symphony Hall in Miami Beach that was soon followed by Herzog & de Meuron's high-design parking structure at 1111 Lincoln Road, an instant landmark for the "New Miami" with open-frame structure, flaring, fin-like supports, sloping ramps, and disco lighting—something between Piranesi and Lady Gaga. "We proved that a parking garage could become an interesting space," said Jacques Herzog. He proved that an über-garage could become a party space and location for non-parking cultural events, like the Piston Head exhibition at this year’s Art Basel. Curated by Adam Lindemann, it featured "repurposed" cars created by artists like Damien Hirst, Richard Prince, and Kenny Scharf, including a nicely pancaked Fiat by Ron Arad.

Herzog and De Meuron open their Perez Art Museum Miami.
Iwan Baan
 

Herzog was in town to celebrate the opening of his firm's latest triumph, the controversially named Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). It was, without question, the super-star attraction of the week. Despite a rushed construction schedule, the museum managed to open to the public on Tuesday with mounds of sand, pots of overturned palmettos, and thousands of visitors tramping over rough gravel, funneling between chain-link fencing to reach the new Jewel on the Bay, many of them wondering if it was the Swiss architects' intent to leave building and grounds so unfinished looking, not realizing that the project was, in fact, unfinished.

Patrick Blanc—the French inventor of vertical landscaping—was frantically running around with died-green hair, green shirt, green pants, green boots, and long curling fingernails, giving orders to Latino plants-men, unnerved by the fact that they hadn't yet inserted all 54,700 of the exotic plants his plan called for (including 77 local species of salvia, begonia, silver-leafed artemisia, columnea, and sedum), and wondering out loud how they could be so late in getting around to finishing such an important task. I said something smug like, "Welcome to Miami," while introducing him to a young blogger from Harvard who complimented him (twice!) on the bicycle-wheel installation by Chinese dissident artist Ai Wei Wei.

"This?" said Blanc, spinning one of Wei Wei's wheels in response to Holly Golightly's misdirected compliment.

"This is not me," he said. "C'est pas moi!"

Patrick Blanc designed landscape elements in the PAMM.
Iwan Baan
 

Raising the cultural bar for all of Miami, the new museum hovers lightly above Biscayne Bay with a degree of humility that is uncharacteristic for the city of architectonic hubris. It is not an "iconic" mass or signature statement so much as an airy, dissipated assemblage of screens, slender columns, scrims, and cubic volumes (containing art galleries) that float between a wooden roof "trellis" above and cantilevered terraces below. Of course, the overall effect will be greatly enhanced when peripheral gardens fill in, the public plaza and neighboring museum by Grimshaw are completed, and Blanc's dangling gardens are lushly sprouting so that the entire structure begins to resemble the original vision of an overgrown ruin, a kind of monumental chia pet or, as Herzog described it to me, a sprawling banyan tree with multiple trunks and dangling air roots.

"This isn't some strip mall," said PAMM's director Tom Collins, and he's right. "This is really sophisticated design."

Early proposals showed pyramidal forms and stacked slabs rising vertically, as if to compete with the skyscrapers of downtown Miami, but such temptations were ultimately resisted and lower, less conspicuous forms have replaced strident profiles.

"Museums work better when they're horizontal," said Herzog. With partner Christine Binswanger, he managed to meld the 120,000-square-foot facility into place without disrupting the messy urban vitality and natural beauty of the unique site at the intersection of Northeast 11th Street, Biscayne Boulevard and the MacArthur Causeway. The sea-flecked light is voluptuous, sparkling, almost iridescent with inlets and ocean on one side, skyscrapers and sprawling urban infrastructure on the other. It sits at the very crux of a dynamic convergence between Nature and Commerce, overlooking Museum Park, the elevated tracks of the Miami Metrorail, the Venetian Causeway, the picturesque islands of Biscayne Bay, and the convex shell of the American Airlines Arena (home to the Miami Heat). Cars and people movers whizz past; cruise ships come and go through Government Cut; tankers unload at the adjacent Port of Miami; jetliners stream overhead, making their final descent into Miami International. It's as thrilling as any building site can hope to be.

Now this city, famous for its short attention spans, is obliged to rise to the occasion, and to some extent the dramatically framed views that reach out from the interior spaces make up for shortcomings in the museum's spotty collection. To be fair, the collection has been expanding in the past few months with generous donations from Jorge M. Pérez, Debra and Dennis Scholl, Mimi and Bud Floback, Craig Robbins and Jackie Sofer, among others. But the art on the walls still pales in comparison to the architecture that enfolds it.

Entry pavilion at Design Miami by formlessfinder.
Alastair Gordon
 

Imagine Future

An international pantheon of famous architects congregated for the "Imagine the Future—Now!" power dinner at the Wolfsonian Museum on Wednesday evening, hosted by Director Cathy Leff. Her guests included Norman Foster (has he lost his "Sir" or not?), Richard Meier, Jean Nouvel, Herzog, Binswanger, Dror Benshetrit, Bjarke Ingels, Shohei Shigematsu, Enrique Norten, Laurinda Spear, Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Iwan Baan, the brilliant architectural photographer who was in town to shoot PAMM.

   
From Four New Visions for Living in Miami: OMA model; DS+R Model; Christian de Portzamparc Model.
Alastair Gordon; Courtesy Four New Visions for Living in Miami
 

Terry Riley was at both the Wolfsonian dinner and the Design Miami tent, talking about the competition he organized for the Terra and Related development groups. It included projects by Christian de Portzamparc, Nouvel, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Rem Koolhass/OMA, who were all invited to offer ideas for a mid-rise residential building on a waterfront site in Coral Gables. "Our solution was to distribute the 500,000 square feet of living between a field of slender towers," said OMA partner Shigematsu, who turned out to have the winning scheme. The six towers in OMA’s proposal have no interior columns, which allows for uninhibitedly naked exposure and maximum views. "One of our theories is that one can offset this excessive compulsion toward the spectacular with a return to simplicity," said Rem Koolhaas somewhat cryptically given the spectacular vanity of his own proposal. (OMA's and other entrants' models and drawings were unveiled this week at Design Miami and a book, Four (4) New Visions for Living in Miami, which was published in tandem with the exhibition.)

Jean Prouvé's "Demountable House."
Courtesy Patrick Seguin
 

Perriand and Prouvé (Design Miami)

It would seem that old is new, yet again, and that the future lies mysteriously imbedded in the past, somehow, and yes, it says something about current design trends that some of the more noteworthy artifacts at the 2013 Miami art and design fairs were vintage, like the furniture that Charlotte Perriand created for French industrialist Jean Borot in the 1950s and was shown this week at the Laffanour Galerie booth; or the vintage Gio Ponti pieces recreated by Molenti&C at Modus Miami in the Design District; or Jean Prouvé's "Demountable House" of 1945 that French gallerist Patrick Seguin shipped to Miami and reconstructed in the Design Miami tent. It's the gray patina, the sadness in those weathered boards that make it compelling and oddly relevant for today amid so many shiny new objects at the other exhibitor's booths. The central structural support—a Prouvé signature "caliper" made from yellow sheet metal—further emphasizes the melancholic, refugee/concentration-camp geist of the worn wood siding on the house's exterior, while inside an equally Spartan treatment is carried through with whitewashed walls and moody lighting from Prouvé's own minimal fixtures.

Reconstruction sequence of Jean Prouvé's "Demountable House."
Courtesy Patrick Seguin
 

White surgical booties were required footwear for members of the press if you wanted to have a sneak preview inside Charlotte Perriand's Maison au Bord de l'Eau. The project is based loosely on a couple of pretty but sketchy renderings that Perriand drew in 1934 for a design competition organized by L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui—something vaguely akin to the speck of DNA from a prehistoric mosquito being used to create a fully fleshed out dinosaur in Jurassic Park. The house was fully reconstructed by Louis Vuitton on a sandy lot at the back of the Raleigh Hotel—and a place so perfectly re-imagined, so finely constructed and finished, and now maintained by young women in blue dresses, that one had to wonder if it was real or a three-dimensional hologram. Even when I touched the smoothly finished walls I wasn't quite sure. (Maybe they should have handed out special goggles as well as the surgical booties). Indeed, the house is more fantasy than reality, as the radical modernism of Perriand has been cleansed to a fault and turned into a branding tool for the luxury fashion house of LVMH.

Charlotte Perriand's Maison au Bord de l'Eau.
 

Inside becomes outside in the central deck that is covered with a tent-like canopy of white canvas. Below are some potted plants and reproductions of Perriand's furniture, like the Chaise Longue Pliante of 1939 and the Table Basse en Ardoise of 1934, which was designed specifically for the Maison. All of this served as the manicured backdrop for LV's Spring/Summer 2014 Collection Icônes. Modern, tasteful clothes were based on Perriand's sensibility; clean, minimal and refreshingly non-bling: green silk gingham long-sheath dress, gingham shorts, blue cape, striped shift and leggings, all color blocked to match the furniture and architecture. Indeed, Perriand's entire imagery had been appropriated, her smiling face, her deck chairs and knicknacks, her little dream shack. As the press blurb said: "Fresh as a breeze from the mountaintops, graphic as the stroke of an architect's pen, the 'Icônes' collections for Summer 2014 invite a timeless feminine elegance..." But Perriand, who passed away fifteen years ago, hasn't had any say in the matter and one wonders if she really would want to be re-branded like this in our current Age of Appropriation.

Norman Foster's Norton Museum.
Courtesy Foster + Partners
 

Norton Museum

Norman Foster was in town, unveiling a master plan for the Norton Museum of Art in Palm Beach to a throng of pink-slacked bankers, Channel-suited board members, architects, PR flacks, and members of the diminishing architectural press, all gathered in a private dining room at the Delano Hotel on Wednesday afternoon. Foster himself was nattily clad in a white linen suit, at peace with the world, smiling and shaking hands.

 
Norman Foster's Norton Museum.
Courtesy Foster + Partners
 

"What does this building really want to be?" said Foster, standing at the front of the room. "'Please help me rediscover my roots,' asks the building. Bring in water and green the landscape, inspired by the lush vegetation of south Florida..." Spencer de Grey, Foster's joint Head of Design, was also on hand, wearing goggle-style spectacles and explaining some of the finer points of the elegantly simple plan, which is shaped in part around a 150-year-old Ficus tree that grows in front of the museum. The deep overhang of the roof has a circular cut-out section to accommodate the tree and its branches while a floor-to-ceiling window in the new, multipurpose "Great Hall" will frame the majestic tree out front and serve as the project's "anchor and reference point," according to the architects. "What if the poor tree dies?" asked one board member, peering into the scale model that was prominently on display. (No one seemed to have an answer.) The master plan keeps much of the original 1941 building—an otherwise nondescript neoclassical pile with courtyard—intact. It re-establishes the original entry from the Dixie Highway (US Rt. 1) and rotates the central axis while re-contextualizing the older galleries for the 21st Century with four new pavilions that effectively double the museum's exhibition space. The pavilions also include a reception area, restaurant, new auditorium, and education area to help bring the museum into the community that it serves. "It's a very wide palette of activities and spaces," said Foster, pointing to the street-side plaza that features a long rectangular pool to reflect sunlight under the overhang, creating a shimmering pattern and animating the entry facade.

The Jade Signature condo tower by Herzog & de Meuron.
Courtesy Herzog & De Meuron
 

Jade Signature, Sunny Isles, Herzog & De Meuron

"Views to the beach are all perpendicular," said Christine Bingswanger of Herzog and De Meuron, sitting on the back porch of the Raleigh Hotel with a coffee and half-eaten lemon meringue in front of her, explaining how Jade Signature, yet another billionaire condo tower, is being built on the beach in Sunny Isles for Fortune International and scheduled to open in 2016. Bingswanger is the partner in charge of this 57-story cliff dwelling that looks not unlike other condo towers but with some notable distinctions. The exterior surface is porous with floor-to-ceiling glass and deep overhangs to block the sun. Partitions were designed in what she calls a "Vocabulary of Columns," pulled and stretched to bring in human scale and alternated between units depending on the floor's layout. The skeletal concrete forms, something like the scalloped slots of a cheese grater, express a porous and cellular surface, one that is more articulated and responsive to light and much less soulless than the reflective glass facades of most Miami towers. A seemingly random pattern ripples between concave and convex with sculpted cartilage supporting each corner as the building ascends to a slightly tapered top. The clutter that usually hinders the ground level of these types of buildings is largely hidden with a second floor lobby and underground parking. Interiors are luxurious white expanses with ten to twelve foot ceilings and thirty percent of each floor given over to outdoor space with generously wide balconies. Each unit goes all the way through from back to front, offering both sunrise and sunset, bay and ocean views, while floors are staggered to allow for cross-ventilation, and this, emphasizes Bingswanger, should alleviate the need for air conditioning during winter months.

Miami Oblivion

The rest of the week dissipated into a blur of extravagant cocktails and traffic jams, eating nothing but tiny spring rolls one day, three lunches, two dinners the next, a long tent on the beach with Swarovski crystals, no-show celebrities, Piotr Uklanski at the Bass, Hugo França's sculptural benches at Fairchild Gardens, AIDS benefit, tall super models, media tours, VIP lounges, book signings, pop-up stores in Wynwood, the ubiquitous Craig Robins, Pulse, Ice Palace, Aqua, Nada, Scope, "Untitled" in tent on beach, De La Cruz Collection, Chinese art at Rubells, wandering Lincoln Road with Ron Arad in his flip-up hat and general Miami oblivion. It was sunny and 82 degrees when I left, but Siberian-style white out when I landed back in New York.

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Richard Meier & Partners
Aerial view of Teachers Village in Newark, New Jersey.
Courtesy Richard Meier & Partners

The central figures in the creation of Greenwich Village’s Westbeth Artist Housing—Joan Davidson of the J. M. Kaplan Fund, her brother Richard Kaplan, and Roger Stevens of the National Endowment for the Arts—needed an architect for the project as it evolved in the 1960s. Kaplan recommended a young designer he knew who had recently founded his practice in New York. It was Richard Meier. The group handed the commission to Meier without interviewing another architect and it was certainly a prescient choice. Meier has just celebrated his 50th year in practice as one of the world’s best-known practitioners, having been recognized with a Pritzker Prize in 1984 and the AIA Gold Medal in 1997.

In 1969, MoMA’s Arthur Drexler and Colin Rowe grouped Meier with his New York City contemporaries—Peter Eisenman, John Hejduk, Michael Graves, and Charles Gwathmey—and dubbed the group the “New York Five.” A subsequent book, Five Architects (Oxford University Press, 1972), became one of the most influential design statements of the period and secured Meier’s place at the forefront of the profession. But it was winning the commission for The Getty Center in Los Angeles in the 1990s that catapulted Richard Meier & Partners into international celebrity and fame.

The firm’s architecture is often described as an updated version of Le Corbusier’s early white geometric forms, but its work is so much more. The early white box houses formally referenced the villas Savoye and Stein, but also defined the notion of the modern home in a new way, more than any other architecture in the post war period. The Hamptons and Malibu are replete with houses that strive for the look and daily experience of a Meier house, but they are mostly bad copies.

In addition to these iconic residential projects, Meier’s firm has designed scores of important and influential projects: United States Federal Courthouses in San Diego, California, and Islip, New York; Weill Hall, the life sciences technology building at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York; 165 Charles Street in New York; the San Jose, California, City Hall; The Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art; and the Ara Pacis Museum and Jubilee Church in Rome. The firm has been able to update its design language into buildings that say “modernism” without being generic corporate towers or boxes.

In addition to the projects featured on this page, Meier’s offices in New York and Los Angeles are currently designing projects on three continents including a hotel complex in Jeselo, Italy; a resort in South Korea; two residential towers in Tokyo, Japan; high rise tower projects in Mexico City; and City Green Court in Prague, the Czech Republic.

 

Italcementi i.lab
Bergamo, Italy

This research and development center in farmland outside Bergamo, Italy, is a v-shaped building emphasizing its triangular site and programmatic requirements: technical research facilities and administrative offices. A soaring double-height entrance foyer joins the two wings, housing a long and elegant ramp that provides circulation between floors. The technical wing was designed according to very stringent technical requirements. Meier laid out a simple structural grid and a central circulation corridor to allow efficient and flexible plans for these spaces. A second wing houses offices, conference rooms, a two-story multipurpose hall, and a sky-lit boardroom that cantilevers over the first floor. A spectacular soaring roof creates what Meier calls a “virtual fifth facade that is perforated with movable skylights directing light into offices, circulation corridors, and laboratory spaces, animating the interiors with the changing natural light.

The building uses a high-strength, pollution-reducing reinforced concrete mixture (white photocatalytic “smog-eating”) developed by Italcementi specifically for the project. The structure is a benchmark of sustainable design in Europe and the first LEED Platinum building in Italy.

 

Rothschild Tower
Tel Aviv, Israel

The most important thoroughfare in Tel Aviv’s historic White City quarter, Rothschild Boulevard, is perhaps the most active pedestrian street with a central green space, allées of trees, and a variety of restaurants and street cafes. This 37-story combined residential and commercial tower utilizes Meier’s iconic vocabulary of glass and white walls and features views of the city’s seaside. Like his other residential towers, the building has a seamless entrance to the street and the pedestrian streetscape of the boulevard. There is a glass canopy structure along the ground level street facades and large openings in the second-floor facades that shelter a pool deck and spa. A passageway with entrances on two streets serves the retail section of the building. The Rothschild Tower looms over the Bauhaus-like White City and portends a new level of development in the dense but low-rise urban fabric.

 

Teachers Village
Newark, New Jersey

Richard Meier has only a handful of completed projects in the New York area, but this one must be especially gratifying to the architect, who was born in Newark in 1934. A mixed-use development of eight total buildings, it houses 200 apartments, a charter school, daycare center, and street-level retail. Meier contends that each of these buildings is “site specific and designed relative to its context. Street wall heights (six stories) are regulated in accordance with the Newark Living Downtown Plan and provide a rich variety of street conditions.” Much of the downtown site had been used for parking lots and have now been transformed into workforce housing for teachers so they can walk to school. It creates a new neighborhood in what had been a declining part of the city. The development is conveniently located to benefit from the city’s efficient public transportation system, from extensive local and regional bus lines to the Washington Street light rail and Newark Penn Station—hub for NJ TRANSIT, Amtrak trains, and PATH train service to Manhattan. While the project employs the traditional Meier formal vocabulary of white walls, it also includes a brick side structure that is unique for the office and a streetscape design that brings his ideas to an urban design plan.

 

Leblon Offices
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

This 10-story commercial office building located in the Leblon neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro is meant to be an iconic headquarters for Brazilian financial services firm Vinci Partners. The project consists of open office spaces and a series of terraces that open up to a private interior courtyard and create a direct connection with the urban artery of Av. Bartolomeu Mitre. The tower, with its formal vocabulary, is aimed at reflecting the site’s distinct orientation and, like most of Meier’s recent work, “addressing issues of sustainability, maximum efficiency, and flexibility.” Referring to the legacy of sun baffles in Rio de Janeiro, the western facade is composed of a set of louvers meant for both maximum sun shading and privacy. To the east, the facade is pulled away from its neighbors to create an internal courtyard and provide natural daylight on two exposures for all offices. It also contains a large vertical garden that ties back into a rough and refined exposed architectural concrete core, which services the building. According to Meier, the project straddles “the refined precision of a white aluminum and glass, free-plan office, and the roughness of concrete and vegetation within the courtyard.”

 

Bisazza Exhibition Space
Vicenza, Italy

This site-specific installation was created for the Italian tile company Bisazza in Vicenza, Italy. Like many Italian companies, Bisazza’s idea of promoting its product is to tie it in with an important cultural project or producer—something American companies should try! Bisazza proposed a Richard Meier retrospective and asked the architect to design the exhibition, including an installation that the company would keep in its archives. The result was Internal Time, a series of eight columns whose geometries gradually angle in one dimension. As the user moves around the “garden” they “experience different qualities of compression and expansion, and changes in light and perspective.” Meier writes that natural light “is the most fundamental element central to our work and we hope this installation creates an immersive and intimate experience.”

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Acrimonious House
Courtesy Frances Campani and Michael Schwarting

Residents of Sunnyside Gardens, Queens, clashed Tuesday with several members of the architecture community at a public hearing at the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Their gripe centered around a plan to move the celebrated Aluminaire House to a former playground as part of a development that would also include a two-story residential building.

Developer Harry Otterman, who purchased the quarter-acre property six years ago, told the commission that the project shares the same mission as the Sunnyside Gardens Historic District, “to create quality housing for low-cost.” The Aluminaire House, to be resurrected by architects Frances Campani and Michael Schwarting, will sit on the corner of the site, flanked by the new 8-unit building. The design for the L-shaped building echoes its aluminum neighbor, while also intending to draw upon the vernacular architecture of the district.

The relocation of this all-metal prefabricated house—the first of its kind in the United States—has sparked an ideological debate, dredging up thorny questions that get to the heart of one of historic preservation’s ongoing quandaries: What does it mean for a building to be contextual? Does it come down to upholding the original intent of the architects and of a design philosophy of a certain era? Or is it about maintaining a specific aesthetic quality, character, and architectural vocabulary of a neighborhood?

For over three hours, both sides stood up and provided testimony. Local government representatives and residents railed against the proposed development and prefab building calling it “inappropriate” for the landmark-designated neighborhood, which is predominantly made up of redbrick row houses.

 

“The Aluminaire House, while very significant and beautiful and historic in its own way, is simply inappropriate for Sunnyside Gardens,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. “The aluminum and glass materials, and terracotta facades in the town houses do not match the one and two story community brick homes in Sunnyside Gardens. Any development in this location, I believe, should be consistent with the intended character and aesthetic that Sunnyside Gardens was built with.”

Proponents of the development—composed mostly of academics, preservationists, and architects—argued that Sunnyside Gardens would be a fitting home for the Aluminaire House. Several pointed out that while the metal prefab house, designed by architects A. Lawrence Kocher and Albert Frey, might not be in keeping with the existing building typologies in the district, it had been conceived the same year as the planned community, and with a common mission to provide affordable housing to low and moderate income families in a densely populated area.

“The House crosses path with Sunnyside Gardens,” said Michael Schwarting, a professor at New York Institute of Technology and the co-founder of the Aluminaire House Foundation. “Just because it is different doesn’t mean it is inappropriate. It is appropriate because of its scale and meaning.”

Councilman Van Bramer disagrees with this reasoning: “Just because it was built in 1931, it doesn’t mean that it belongs in Sunnyside. The Empire State Building was also built in 1931. You would plop the Empire State Building in Sunnyside.”

 

The Aluminaire House, renowned for its modernist design and populist intent, has been homeless for nearly a year now. The metal and glass prefab structure—made of aluminum, steel, and alloy—was originally built as a prototype to demonstrate how mass production can be employed for the creation of contemporary, yet low-cost housing. It made its first appearance at the Architectural and Allied Arts Exposition in 1931 inside the Grand Central Palace.

Following its early critical success, the Aluminaire House was purchased by architect Wallace K. Harrison, who then moved it to his property in Huntington, New York, to expand and turn into a weekend house. After Harrison’s death in 1981, the building began to deteriorate and was at risk of being demolished. But preservationists waged a campaign to save it, which eventually prompted the new owners to donate it to the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT).

The Aluminaire House, later reconstructed by Shwarting and his students, lived on NYIT’s Central Islip campus for more than twenty years until the university relocated its architecture program, leaving the house alone and unused.

The building has since been dismantled and placed in storage. But Shwarting is hoping that the Aluminaire House will be reconstructed, yet again, on the edge of the historic district in Sunnyside Gardens and operate as a museum, which will be open to the public select times of the year.

“It is a textbook example of ideologies that modernists endorsed in the 1930s,” said Marta Gutman, professor of architecture at The City College of New York, in her testimony. “Bring the Aluminaire House and Sunnyside together as they once were. It will be a benefit to students of housing and the public.”

A gaggle of critics and architects—including Richard Meier, Steven Holl, and Michael Graves—have spoken out in favor of the project. At the hearing, letters of support were read from Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, the Municipal Art Society, Barry Bergdoll, and Andrew Scott Dolkart.

“To marry these two great American architectural achievements at a single site is a brilliant idea, one that will make a prominent corner in Sunnyside Gardens into a veritable pilgrimage site for architectural students, fans, and aficionados. It would be a welcome addition of a landmark to this beautiful Queens neighborhood and a poetic juxtaposition,” wrote Barry Bergdoll, the Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art.

But residents say that this development is a blow to the hard-won battle they fought to achieve landmark status for the district a few years ago.

“This seems the total opposite of what we are trying to protect,” said Joseph Conley, chair of community board 2. “It is an unfair imposition on the community.”

Several individuals gave testimony calling for the re-opening of the defunct playground, designed by Marjorie Sewell Cautley, across the way from its former owners, the Phipps Garden Apartments. One resident argued that it was one of the remaining intact playgrounds from the 1930s. The property, however, now belongs to Mr. Otterman.

“The truth is the Aluminaire House is a house in search of a home and it should not be jammed in to a development of town houses in Sunnyside Gardens simply because there is a hole in the ground,” said Van Bramer.

The Landmarks Commission did not come up with a resolution and has yet to reschedule a follow up hearing. For now the Aluminaire House will remain packed up in storage.

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Richard Meier Opens First Phase of New Complex in His Hometown of Newark
Richard Meier has returned to his roots with the opening of his latest project in the heart of downtown Newark, New Jersey.  Government officials gathered Thursday to cut the ribbon on the first phase of a mixed-use development called Teachers Village. The 90,000 square foot structure is now home to two charter schools, with retail planned for the ground floor. The sprawling development—part of of revitalization program to revive downtown—will consist of retail space, a daycare center, three charter schools, and 200 apartment units for teachers. The Newark-born architect was tapped to design five of the eight buildings in the complex with KSS Architects in charge of the remaining three. "Project Teachers Village was conceived and started in 2008," said Vivian Lee, project manager at Richard Meier & Partners. "The original context of this area was mostly parking lots and a lot of abandoned buildings, and Ron [Beit] really had a vision to revitalize this part of downtown Newark and provide housing as well as retail to really liven up this part of the city." AN took a tour of the four-story, brick-and-metal-clad building, which is a departure from Meier's signature glass and stark-white buildings. "From early on the project we understood that this is not the typical project that our office does," said Remy Bertin, project architect. "We really wanted to integrate it into the fabric of Newark—not just in plan, not just in making things in line, but also through the material. Newark is the brick city. It is a very vernacular material for the city traditionally." The firm worked closely with a mason to create a sawtooth brick design on the facade. While Meier & Partners experimented with a new palette of materials, they still made light a priority in the overall design scheme. "In keeping with Richard Meier's design philosophy, we wanted to bring in a lot of natural light, and obviously it promotes learning," said Lee. Bertin said that zoning, specifically the height limits for buildings in the area, presented initial challenges to the design. "When we were designing the school, the big issue that we were dealing with was all the programs, all the schools that were in the space," said Bertin. "We really wanted to create a sense of inter-connectivity with public spaces within the building even though we had so much to pack into a 60 foot package that limited us."
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Renovation Team Announced for Philip Johnson's Crystal Cathedral in Anaheim
Anaheim's Crystal Cathedral, designed by Philip Johnson in 1980, and containing more than 10,000 panes of mirrored glass, is one of Orange County's rare architectural treasures. Today the Roman Catholic Diocese, which purchased the church last year, announced that Johnson Fain and Rios Clementi Hale will be leading its $29 million renovation. The exterior of the building will be essentially unchanged outside of cleaning and replacing damaged glass, but the interior will be heavily remodeled to upgrade access, sight lines, finishes, and environmental comfort. The renovation will also add significant new elements to adapt to the church's new Catholic focus (it had once been an evangelical church), including a new altar, a baptismal font, and new cathedral doors. "It's an open palette inside," said Diocese spokesperson Ryan Lilyengren, who likened the iconic exterior to a shell. The 34-acre campus, which includes seven buildings (including structures by Richard Meier and Richard Neutra), will also be master planned to support a larger array of events and, as Rios Clementi Hale principal Mark Rios put it, "unite the campus and make a place that welcomes the community." Twenty four teams applied for the renovation, a list that was pared down to four before this final decision. One of the nation's first "megachurches," the 2,750-seat church will host masses every day, according to Lilyengren. The church will close to the public at the end of October (services will be held in the interim in  Neutra's adjacent arboretum), and renovation should be complete by 2015 or 2016. Overview of Crystal Cathedral Campus (Diocese of Orange)
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Day Court
Terra cotta panels clad the building's west side.
Tim Griffith

As America expanded westward, courthouses were the building blocks that gave new settlements a sense of legality and permanence. For a time they were the principle focus of civic identity, before being swallowed up in a tide of commercial highrises. The new San Diego Federal Courthouse strives, in its siting and elegant design, to enrich both downtown and the experience of its users. A slender 16-story tower rises from a park, and its lobby reaches out to neighboring federal buildings to create a civic hub. All the interiors, including the courtrooms, are naturally lit, and many are naturally ventilated.

This is the third federal courthouse that Richard Meier & Partners has designed, and West Coast principal Michael Palladino was determined to make it site-specific and take full advantage of the benign climate.

 
Overhangs and scrims provide shade (left). Natural light pours into the building's lobby, a rarity for court architecture (right).
Tim Griffith
 

“The GSA has a 2,450-page manual that you have to follow to get your plan approved, but we challenged some of its rules,” he said. “If we had created a block with up to eight courtrooms on each floor, as they recommended, we would have occupied the entire site.”

Over several meetings he convinced his clients that it would be less expensive and more efficient to stack pairs of courtrooms above the public spaces, with court offices at the north and south ends. That would eliminate corridors and allow a single bank of dedicated elevators to serve judges, the accused, and other users. Public spaces on the east side would be fully glazed, the west side would be screened with terracotta panels, and courtrooms would be lit from clerestories to the front and rear.

Tim Griffith
 

Palladino also persuaded judges to allow courtrooms, which they regard as their privileged domain, to be reconfigured. He reduced the height of the bench to make it less overwhelming, and designed divisions and furnishings of blond wood. Engineering firm Arup ran lab tests on models to ensure good natural acoustics, and several judges have already praised the courtrooms for improving attitude and behavior.

 
Site plan (left). Elevation (center). Section (Right). Typical floor plan (below).
Courtesy Richard Meier & Partners
 

 

The public is equally well served. The narrow footprint is sandwiched between the traffic artery of Broadway and E Street, which has been pedestrianized. That footpath wraps around an oval-shaped entry rotunda, and leads into a landscaped plaza. To accommodate the mandatory 50-foot setback while preserving the building line on E Street, the first two floors are recessed and the upper stories cantilever out. The entry hovers half a level above the ground plane and is accessed by a broad ramp from Broadway and two narrow switchback ramps from the plaza. These double as a security barrier and Robert Irwin (who lives in San Diego) turned them into a green artwork, with Corten steel plates enclosing plantings. A second Irwin artwork—a prismatic acrylic obelisk created for a Northridge mall and kept in storage since the 1994 earthquake—reflects and refracts light within the lobby. The basket-like screen that encloses this lofty space was inspired by the wood-lathe roof vault of the botanical garden in San Diego’s Balboa Park. The jury assembly room opens onto a terrace and can be used for public events after hours. Translucent windows allow natural light into the marshals’ spaces below grade and judges have their own terrace near the top of the tower.

A Gold LEED rating is one measure of the Courthouse’s efficiency, but it triumphs in many other ways: as a graceful departure from the lumpish mediocrity of its neighbors, as a guardian of green space at the heart of the city, and by transforming public perceptions of the law in action. At a time when many have lost confidence in government, it’s salutary to be reminded that one branch can still serve the common good.

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SHoP Architects' Dancing Towers Break Ground on First Avenue in New York
After a decade-long wait, construction commenced in late July on a pair of conjoined rental towers designed by SHoP Architects on an empty parcel on First Avenue between 35th and 36th Streets. The New York Times reported that the two copper buildings, consisting of 800 units and reaching up to 49 and 40 stories, will be connected by a sky bridge. The luxury development will boast high-end amenities and facilities such as  indoor lap pool, rooftop deck with infinity pool, fitness center, squash court, and film screening room. These dancing towers will be a visual departure for this area around Turtle Bay, which is home to a cluster of hospitals and medical centers and bereft of much new contemporary architecture. Vishaan Chakrabarti, a partner at SHoP Architects, told the Times that the copper veiled facades were inspired from Richard Serra's twisted sheet metal sculptures. Also in the works is a privately-operated park and an elementary school if City Planning gives the developer JDS Development the green light. The construction site flooded during Hurricane Sandy, so now the two buildings are being prepped for future storms. JDS Development said they are planning on placing mechanicals above grade, and considering floodgates and backup generators.

JDS Development purchased the roughly one-acre parcel from developer Sheldon H. Solow who had originally tapped Richard Meier and Skidmore Owings & Merrill to design 7 towers on this sprawling 9.2-acre site.

The development is expected to be completed by early 2016.
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Sam Hall Kaplan
Carloz Diniz's rendering of Pacific Design Center by Cesar Pelli for Gruen Associates.
Edward Cella Art & Architecture

This is the second in a two part series covering the Getty's Overdrive: LA Constructs the Future 1940–1990 exhibition running through July 21. View the first half here.

There is nothing middling in the Getty Center’s celebration of a half century of modern architecture in Los Angeles, from 1940 to 1990. Labeled Overdrive, the evolving city is prodigiously described as “a vibrant laboratory for architectural innovation,” at a time when “experimental concepts were tested, and visionary designs realized.”

The region indeed does have a rich Modernistic architectural history, actually dating back to the early 1900s and including the notable exercises of Irving Gill, Frank Lloyd Wright, R.M. Schindler and Richard Neutra. The tradition carried forward by the Case Study Houses and populist practitioners such as Cliff May and Ray Kappe persevered through the 1970s.

However, from my front row, center seat as the Los Angeles Times architecture and design critic for much of the decade, the 1980s was marked by a sad shift in architecture from its social imperative to create places and spaces for human endeavor to idiosyncratic designs, with how things look taking precedence over how things work.

It was as if architecture and its implications of permanence had become a photo opportunity. The result was what I labeled plop architecture, designs ignoring context, climate, and culture that seemed to have been dropped from above to land haphazardly on various city sites. If their conceits didn’t always work as architecture, they hailed it as art.

The renowned photographer Julius Shulman, with whom I was collaborating at the time on a history of Los Angeles architecture, often dismissed the forced constructs as “junk piles.” But he added not to worry, for priding himself a commercial photographer he felt he could make almost any building look good. And he did. Many of his photographs are included in the Getty survey.

Peter Alexander's PA and PE, 1990.
Peter Alexander / Courtesy Pacific Enterprises
 

As noted by the Getty, the designs and declarations of the 1980s did garner much national and international attention, and many awards, though from my perspective they were prompted by the east coast design arbiters who were looking for good copy to fulfill the cliché of Southern California as a new age art and architecture spectacle, and anxious to score junkets.

The desire to be different even at the cost of crafting buildings that didn’t work very well was mimicked by a host of local architects desperate to be in the slip stream of fads and fashions, and snare their own headlines, and hopefully new commissions. Glitz and glamour were the way to go.

But their hyped designs, as well as most of those by the so-called L.A. Ten, failed at becoming paradigms, whether too costly, or just too quirky. At best, several select designs of Frank Gehry, Thom Mayne, and Eric Owen Moss were interesting sculptural and structural exercises, though not particularly user friendly.

A post occupancy evaluation of the designs would have been revealing. However, my attempts when the projects were completed in the 1980s drew the wrath of architects and clients, who were concerned that such evaluations, if critical, would detract from the well-publicized efforts adding value to their projects.

Such evaluations I feel still would be interesting. Certainly they would have lent the gala Getty initiative some needed scholarly credibility, and at a fraction of the cost of the several million dollars it has spent on affiliated programs and publications promoting the exhibitions and celebrating itself.

To be sure, a number of distinguished designs were generated in Los Angeles in the 1980s, but they were not conceits the Getty identifies. These include playful open-air shopping centers and a kit of parts for the 1984 Olympics by Jerde Associates, the various neighborhood-friendly residential projects by the firm of Killefer Flammang, and the sensitive restorations of Brenda Levin. It was, I feel, the work of these architects that spurred the welcomed resurgence of Downtown, and the city’s incipient historic preservation movement.

Such user-friendly projects, along with the construction of the Metro, as well as the continued conversion of public places into people places, have given rise to a promising renewed commitment to social architecture. Still, Los Angeles architecture remains mostly an afterthought—its hyped history not withstanding. Deserving attention by the august Getty, if only for continuance, are the ambitious stolid—and critically ignored— designs by the firms of AECOM and Gensler and site specific constructs by the more-lauded Michael Maltzan, Frank Israel, and select others in the last 20 years. And then there is the Getty Center itself by Richard Meier, conceived in the 1980s and christened in 1996, which despite its isolated location is surprisingly engaging and user friendly.

And this despite the continued indulgences of the self-aggrandizing star architects who came to the fore in the 70s and 80s, cranking out vanity projects for celebrity seeking clients. Also particularly pernicious was the inordinate attention these conceits generated among several generations of star struck students, which I sadly observed as a guest critic at local architecture schools. Lending little perspective was a puerile design community and its braying publicists posing as critics and commentators.

The Getty initiative I feel unfortunately has fed this dissipated Southern California indisposition among hidebound scholars and benign bureaucrats to be voguish. It is a problem when existing in the shadow of Hollywood.

Overdrive may have been an apt headline for the postwar years, but by the time the 1980s was upon us cars and Los Angeles just were not mixing well. Also not doing well was the hyped avant-garde architecture, perplexing and isolating the public.  If anything has put an end to this modern period extolled by the Getty, it is the recent recession; a time to down shift from Overdrive, slow down to go beyond the freeways, try to find a parking space, and experience the evolving city on a bike or walking.

L.A. survives, its architecture a backdrop to its seductive setting and aspiring lifestyle.

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HH Resort and Spa at Gyeongpodae
Courtesy Richard Meier & Partners

HH Resort and Spa at Gyeongpodae
Architect: Richard Meier & Partners
Client: HH Resort and Spa
Location: Gangneung, South Korea
Completion: 2015

Perched atop a hill overlooking South Korea’s East Sea, the Richard Meier & Partners Architects–designed HH Resort and Spa at Gyeongpodae plays off the idyllic, seaside landscape. The 150-room boutique hotel has two main parts: a 4-story podium and a 15-story trapezoidal tower. Both segments feature glass curtain walls, balconies, and canopies, and connect by bridge to a beachside banquet hall elevated on pilotis.

“The landscape had to be integral with the design of the building, not only as a design approach towards the project but also a sign of respect for the existing context and the nature of this beautiful site,” said Dukho Yeon, associate partner at Richard Meier & Partners Architects. “The existing trees and areas with archeological artifacts are preserved and untouched as much as possible by building mainly on the footprint of the structure which was demolished for this new building.”

 
 

As is the case with most of Meier’s work, the architecture of the hotel is restrained, composed of simple geometric forms, and predominantly white with a material palette of concrete, metal panels, glass, and local stone. “The materials of the exteriors and interiors in most our projects have a consistency in design language and in this case as well, but for this hotel it was important to add a level of richness, texture, and color that is a bit atypical of what we normally do,” said Yeon.

The emphasis of the architecture is on orienting the building to take advantage of the breathtaking vistas. Nearly every room offers sweeping views of the sea, with some glimpsing Gyeongpo Lake and the distant Taebaek mountains as well.

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Architecture, The Collaborative Art
Courtesy Hyatt Foundation

There has been so much written in the past several months about whether Denise Scott Brown should be acknowledged for her contribution to Robert Venturi’s work and his 1991 Pritzker Prize that there is very little left to say on the matter—unless you are a member of the Hyatt Foundation, which sponsors of the award, or a juror for the prize. The ball is in the Pritzker court in Chicago. Most of the living Pritzker Prize winners or Laureates, including Richard Meier, Zaha Hadid, the 2012 winner Wang Shu, Rem Koolhaas, and, of course, Robert Venturi, have signed a petition that she be recognized by the award committee. Scott Brown herself has said she does not expect to become a laureate, but would like to be honored with an “inclusion award” that would not be given in a grand ceremony like the recent celebration of Toyo Ito (the 2013 winner) in Boston. Instead, she proposes something much more modest: that the Pritzker support a conference or a discussion on “creativity.”

The discussion on creativity that Scott Brown calls for might focus on the prize itself and its mission to honor “a living architect whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision, and commitment.” While the Pritzker Prize has undoubtedly done a great service by raising the visibility of architecture in the mind of the public, it is not to much to say that this mission is outdated and in need of a tweaking if not an overhaul. This focus on awarding the prize to a single architect of “talent, vision and commitment” continues to perpetrate the notion of individual, creative genius in the field, rather than recognizing that architecture is in every respect a social art conceived, constructed, and experienced not by a solitary figure, but collaboratively. It fact, the Pritzker was moving in this direction when it honored its first pair of architects, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, in 2001, and Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, in 2010. This is not to say that individual initiative or even brilliance are not important in the field. No one can deny the power of drawings by Aldo Rossi or Zaha Hadid, or the quiet uniqueness of buildings authored by Sverre Fehn. But even Rem Koolhaas has admitted the collaborative nature of his practice just as his book Delirious New York was in part created by Madelon Vriesendorp and other young researchers. Perhaps there is a way the prize might begin recognizing firms rather than the figure with his or her name on the door.

Finally, it is time that the Pritzker Prize rethink its blind determination to only honor architects for their built work rather than recognizing that writing, theoretical manifestos, and teaching are just as integral to the profession. It should be possible for figures or groups as diverse as the late Lewis Mumford, Archigram, Manfredo Tafuri, or even Kenneth Frampton to be honored, since, after all, the Pritzker claims to laud “consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture.”