Search results for "Richard Meier"

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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.”

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Letter to the Editor> Is Stoner Stoned?
[ Editor's Note: The following is a reader-submitted letter to the editor that ran in print edition, AN 05_04.10.2013. Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email] It is hard to believe that The MIT Press published Jill Stoner’s Towards a Minor Architecture based on the kind of prose indicated in Jeffrey Hogrefe’s review of the book (Literary Unbuilding AN 03_03.06.2013). Stoner writes, “Architecture can no longer limit itself to the aesthetic pursuit of making buildings; it must now commit to a politics of selectively taking them apart.” Really? We think we know what she “means,” but this really is bad writing. There is no architecture, only works of architecture. People are involved in aesthetic or other pursuits, not architecture. She’s also quoted writing, “Le Corbusier’s Towards a New Architecture, which heralded a century of formalism.” This is certainly not what Towards a New Architecture did. Perhaps Stoner doesn’t like the work of Richard Meier. Towards a New Architecture was probably the most important book on architecture written in the twentieth century. Do not confuse one chapter on Regulating Lines for formalism. Remember the blunt conclusion of that book: “Architecture or Revolution.” Corbu certainly made his choice. Further on in the review Kafka is described as “the Jew and Czech, as outsider in the fervent Germany of the early twentieth century.” He was an “outsider” in Prague (he had a very well paid civil service job and was known to frequent a lot of women in his hometown), where the dominant German language was part of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire… not Germany. Yet further on we read about a collective thesis project, which undertook to “dismantle and rewrite a chain of abandoned Circuit City Stores.” And then there is something called the “new nature of entropy.” This is nothing but the jargon of authenticity. Adorno must be rolling over in his grave. Jeff Kieffer Architect, New York City Department of Design and Construction
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MoMA Pivots on American Folk Art Museum
The American Folk Art Museum (left) and the Museum of Modern Art (right).
JyChen / Flickr

Amid a firestorm of controversy surrounding the planned demolition of the Tod Williams Billie Tsien-designed American Folk Art Museum (AFAM) building, the Museum of Modern Art, which purchased the Folk Art building, announced today that it has selected Diller Scofidio + Renfro to plan the future of the site. The firm will take on the task of connecting the Yoshio Taniguchi-designed MoMA building to a new tower designed by Jean Nouvel.

In a statement, Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) indicated the possibility that the Folk Art Museum building could be retained as a part of their project. “DS+R has exhibited within MoMA's walls since 1989 and now we've been invited to rethink the museum's walls. This is a complex project that also involves issues of urban interface, concerns that are central to our studio. We have asked MoMA, and they have agreed, to allow us the time and flexibility to explore a full range of programmatic, spatial, and urban options. These possibilities include, but are not limited to, integrating the former American Folk Art Museum building, designed by our friends and admired colleagues, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien.”

Much of the architecture community has rallied to save Williams’ and Tsien’s building. Editorials condemning MoMA’s demolition plans have appeared in these pages, Architecture Record, Architect, New York Magazine, The New York Review of Books, and other outlets. Online petitions and crowd-sourced alternative proposals have also proliferated. The Architectural League of New York took the rare step of sending a letter to MoMA director Glenn Lowry, asking the museum of reconsider the demolition. Richard Meier, Steven Holl, Robert A. M. Stern, and many other prominent architects signed the letter.

In an article in the Times, unnamed MoMA officials cited the opacity of the Folk Art building’s facades and the non-alignment of the building’s floor plates with MoMA’s own as reasons for the AFAM demolition. In a memo to staff and trustees sent today, Lowry took a decidedly more open-ended tone. “Beginning this month, Diller Scofidio + Renfro will work with us to design a plan that will integrate the Museum’s current building with the property of the former American Folk Art Museum and the residential tower being developed by Hines. The principals of Diller Scofidio + Renfro have asked that they be given the time and latitude to carefully consider the entirety of the site, including the former American Folk Art Museum building, in devising an architectural solution to the inherent challenges of the project. We readily agreed to consider a range of options, and look forward to seeing their results.”

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Brazilian Architect Carla Juaçaba Wins First arcVision Prize For Women in Architecture
Thanks to the Italcementi Group, International Women’s Day just became that much more special. This year the group found a unique way to celebrate the holiday by instituting the very first competition its arcVision—Women in Architecture prize, an award that valorizes the increasingly important role women have and continue to play in architecture. The jury selected 19 finalists from 15 different countries including but not limited to Egypt, Switzerland, Singapore, Italy, and Thailand. The architects were judged according to their creative approach in designing an unconventional structure as well as their ability to design a building that responds to the context of its site. The prize was bestowed to Brazilian architect Carla Juaçaba at a press conference at the group’s i.lab Research Center (designed by Richard Meier) in Bergamo on March 7th, and was publicly announced the following day for International Women’s Day. Juaçaba, who collaborated with artist Bia Lassi, won for her design of the Pavilion Humanidade 2012 project developed specifically for the United Nations' conference on sustainable development, Rio +20. The architect innovatively designed a translucent waterfront scaffold building made entirely of previously-used, recyclable materials. The temporary structure was used to house private spaces as well as the two-week private exhibition on sustainability. By designing a structure that is exposed to all weather conditions Juaçaba designed a pavillion that was seamlessly integrated into it’s natural surroundings. The architect, who says her design was inspired by the work of Paulo Mendes, explained “sustainability and geography are closely related in architecture.  It might make sense to build on Africa or in some places in Brazil using clay, or to create green roofs in Buenos Aires, but not in this specific site in the fortress of Copacabana. It’s as if every specific geographical point has to find it’s own equilibrium.” Juaçaba further commented on winning the award by saying, “I think it is really special to have thought of a Prize only for women.  I was never “invited” to all the work I’ve done so far.  I have always had to struggle to prove that I was capable. I’m not saying this just because I am a woman, but I think that for us it is a little more complicated. So it is really great to have such a prize to highlight this effort, because all work requires hard work. I am really very excited.” Additionally, honorable mentions were awarded to three other female architects: Izaskun Chinchilla from Spain, Anupama Kundoo from India, and Siiri Valner from Estonia. This year marks the establishment of a new tradition: from this year forward the Italcementi Group aims to continue recognizing the accomplishments of female architects all over the world through the arcVision Prize.
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Stamberg Aferiat
Shelter Island House.
Paul Warchol

Paul Aferiat and Peter Stamberg met each other at the opening night of the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum at its current 5th Avenue location on Oct 8, 1976. The Museum launched with a landmark exhibition, Man Transforms/Aspects of Design. Created by chief of exhibitions Dorothy Globus and curated by Paolo Portoghesi, the exhibit reintroduced the public to “the mundane and the ordinary in unexpected and cogent contexts that surprise, charm, amuse, and illuminate,” according to the museum. In fact, this description could also describe the architecture and design work of Stamberg Aferiat since they began their practice in 1989.

In the exhibition, Meier (along with Buckminster Fuller, Arata Isozaki, Ettore Sottsass, and OM Ungers) was given a room to design and Aferiat was working on the installation. Stamberg had recently graduated from the AA in London, where he studied with Charles Jencks, and had opened an office in New York and published a book on self-made furniture: Instant Furniture: Low-Cost, Well-Designed, Easy-To-Assemble Tables, Chairs, Couches, Beds, Desks, and Storage Systems. They met their first client, Lucy Suarez, walking through the Union Square market. She commissioned them to renovate her 1977 Richard Meier apartment, which Aferiat knew from his time working with Meier. They added boldly to the existing residence—and this became a signature of their architecture even today—overlaying a Matisse-inspired color palette on Meier’s pristine white walls. These colors they say, “reflected the animated personalities of the clients.” Like all their projects, however, the approach is based on Newtonian observations on how phenomena are perceived. This concern for color began with a desire to overcome the 1970s modernist debate between the Grays and the Whites and an interest in reception based on phenomenology and semiotics. The architects often base their designs on the “Anti perspective” ideas of their friend David Hockney, but it is color that they introduce into every project. There is certainly no other architecture office practicing today who use such hues and contrasting colors in such a bold manner.

Joshua Homer

Gemini G.E.L.

New York

Gemini, one of the foremost print lithographers in the world, asked the architects to create both an exhibition space and offices in a small space. Stamberg and Aferiat utilized, as they do in many of their projects, free-floating partitions. Here they create the two programmatic spaces. Further, a mixture of colorful full-height partitions provides the flexibility for both large and small-scale installations in the 2,500-square-foot gallery.

Joshua Homer

Selby/Vail House (Barnes House addition and renovation)

Mount Kisco, New York

The firm was asked by new owners to renovate and propose a 6,000 square foot addition to Edward Larrabee Barnes’s personal residence in Mount Kisco, New York. They wanted the house doubled in size without diminishing the strength of the original. The architects designed a large triangular corrugated metal screen wall, inspired by Barnes, that acts as a backdrop to the original design and diminishes the scale of the new addition by subtly reflecting the sky and the surrounding property. “Finally a limited palette of materials and utilized light, view, form, and fine detailing create a variety of intimate and grand spaces suited to the client’s needs,” the architects said.

Paul Warchol

Shelter Island House

Shelter Island, New York

This house, which the architects designed for themselves, sits in a small clearing above Coecles Harbor on Shelter Island. The island is not known for its modern architecture, though there are several houses by Norman Jaffe, Morris/Sato, and William Pederson. A small, shingled Pomo bungalow designed by William Pederson that is more typical of the suburban landscape of the island sits next door. This house could not be more notable on the island because of its colors. The architects claim that “one of the most difficult decisions of our career was whether to paint the Shelter Island house or not.” Before it was painted it had “an ethereal quality when it was natural aluminum that we really loved and were concerned that paint would take some of the magic from the house. But we also knew that we would never have any credibility with anyone if we didn’t use color on our own house.”

Tim Street Porter

The Saguaro Palm Springs

Palm Springs, California

If ever there was a perfect location for a Stamberg Aferiat building it would be Palm Springs. The bright clear desert air of the spa and its history of lively free-for-all architecture makes it just right for a splash of bright color. The building has been an aging Holiday Inn on the outer limits of Palm Canyon Drive, and it surely needed some oomph! The architects’ color palette brightened and updated the tired structure very simply. It opened in time for last year’s Modernism week and this member of the AN staff stayed at the hotel and thoroughly enjoyed the cheery colors set against the blue San Jacinto Mountains.

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Engel & Volkers Headquarters
Courtesy Richard Meier & Partners

Engel & Volkers Headquarters
Architect: Richard Meier & Partners
Client: Engel & Volkers
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Completion: 2015

Richard Meier & Partners has unveiled its design of a new hybrid building in Hamburg that will serve as the headquarters for Engel & Volkers, an international real estate company. With this commission, the firm has integrated residential, commercial, and office space into one cohesive structure, while also taking a nuanced approach to the German courtyard building.

Richard Meier & Partners’ mixed-use building was selected in an international competition topping submissions by Foster + Partners and Zaha Hadid Architects. The challenge, Bernhard Karpf, associate partner-in-charge, said was to create a hybrid building that was “like a city in itself,” which creates “property lines” that carves out distinct areas for rentals, offices, and shops, but still comes together in a unified and coherent design.


The building's façade will have geometric accents and floor-to-ceiling glass. In response to the trend of what Karpf describes as “overly articulated” buildings in Hamburg, the firm decided that “instead of making a lot of noise from the outside of building, we would make some noise from the inside.” In the center of the complex is an enclosed atrium that will provide a shared circulation space and also host events and exhibitions. A staircase, folding from the upper floors to the atrium, adds a sculptural element to the space.

Karpf anticipates that they will use a simple material palette for the interior—such as concrete and wood floors—that plays off the mix of natural and artificial light. The firm is working with a façade consultant to develop an insulated façade with adjustable sunshades between the glass to meet Europe’s stricter energy requirements and make the building as sustainable as possible. Construction will likely begin by the end of this year and is slated for completion by 2015.

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Sandy Turns Westbeth into Wetsbeth
The courtyard inside the Richard Meier-designed Westbeth, 1967-1970.
Courtesy Richard Meier & Partners

Yesterday was the last day that artists in Westbeth Artists Housing—many of whom have lived and worked there for several decades—could retrieve their work from their flood-soaked art studios and storage spaces. Whatever artworks, materials, and archives, which had included works by Isamu Noguchi and Richard Meier, remained in the wet and mold-ridden basement by the end of Wednesday were hauled out and considered trash. As a crew of volunteers in protective gear cleared out the rooms, a couple of artists sorted through the clutter to find years of work damaged by the surge of water that filled the basement during Hurricane Sandy.

“I lost at least 30 pieces,” said sculptor Dave Seccombe. “I don’t know what to say. It is just a mess.”

Many important works of art and architecture were damaged in flooding at Westbeth.
Nicole Anderson / AN

In the courtyard of the building, renovated by Richard Meier in the late 1960s, artists dried out their canvases and textile work in the sun. Conservation groups came by to advise artists on how to salvage and preserve their remaining artwork. Safety issues, however, have forced building management to expedite the clean-up process, and as a result, a fair amount of unclaimed work was discarded.

“They are weighing people’s art with safety and health,” said George Cominskie, President of Westbeth Artists Council.

Carl Stein of Elemental Architecture is the architect for the building (and worked with Meier in the ‘60s when he was a student) and said that among the work that was lost was of Richard Meier prints, known as as-builts, from the original project. But luckily, Executive Director Steve Neil scanned many of the prints a few years ago and Richard Meier & Partner Architects archived the originals.

Textiles by Susan Berger dry after the flood.
Nicole Anderson / AN

“We did have many of them, and, at Carl Stein's strong and repeated urging had them digitized a couple of years ago,” said Neil. “Since then, a few rolls have turned up that we didn't know about and which may have been lost in the flood, but I would estimate we have three-quarters of the drawings at least. They have been a lifesaver, as you might imagine.”

The archivist at Richard Meier & Partner Architects estimates the value of the 73 prints donated to Westbeth, which includes 22 prints of architectural and structural drawings and 51 sepias of electrical drawings, at $15,000.

Stein points out that while the financial loss of the prints is nominal, the “importance as informational tools was very significant.”

Two of the noguchi-designed sets that were damaged in the flooding at Westbeth.
Courtesy Something in the way and Noguchi Museum

The Martha Graham Dance Company just moved to Westbeth this summer and was not as fortunate. All of the costumes, sets, and production materials, dating back to 1926, were submerged in 10 feet of water--including iconic, original sets designed by Isamu Noguchi, which were considered groundbreaking modernist theatrical designs, as well as costumes by Halston, Oscar de la Renta, and Calvin Klein. The company estimates a loss of around $4 million, but the flood insurance will only cover $30,000.

“For those of us who have been in those costumes and danced on those sets, it is like losing a loved one,” said artistic director Janet Eilber. “The upside is Noguchi made those sets to be used. He would say ‘art should be useful.’”

The company has moved all the boxes of sets and costumes to a storage space in Yonkers, and with the help of conservators from the Natural History Museum and the Smithsonian, is figuring out what can be saved.

“The dance world deals with how ephemeral dance is. It isn’t like a painting you can store,” Eilber said. “We’re sort of lucky in this case that dance is not tangible and the dances are safe and ready to be performed.”