In 2010, director Wim Wenders created a 3D video installation at the Venice Architecture Biennale about the Bolex Learning Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, called If These Walls Could Talk. The ability to visually explore the building and simulate being inside the space that the medium affords inspired him to team up with Robert Redford to create a 3D series called Cathedrals of Culture, which will be shown at the IFC Center in New York beginning on May 1. And talk they do. There are six half-hour films, all by different directors, shown in two programs, and five of them are narrated by the buildings themselves. Each is given a voice, which describes the feelings and observations of the structures. So we hear in the first person from the Berlin Philharmonic (Hans Scharoun), the Oslo Opera House (Snohetta), Halden Prison (EMA), The National Library of Russia (Yegor Sokolov), and the Centre Pompidou (Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers). Only the Salk Institute (Louis Kahn) doesn’t employ this technique and is the most successful program. At Salk, it's the perfect melding of brief and building, science and art, the two sparking each other off to make magic. It is now complemented by a like-minded film. Directed by Robert Redford and with stunning cinematography by Ed Lachmann and music by Moby, the film captures the essence of the building and molds the spaces. Kahn’s structure clearly affects the work of the scientists, who speak about "genius loci," the spirit of place. There’s a wonderful image of the staff assembled in a circle and then fanning out across the plaza, like a living organism. We see and hear both Jonas Salk and Louis Kahn, and learn that they raised each other’s game and made a better building; Salk insisted Kahn throw out the first design, and Kahn rebuts that the client isn’t an architect. Then Salk says "eventually Lou Kahn became quite a biologist, and I came to appreciate the importance of aesthetics…to bring out the spirit and soul of man." The campus is filled with light, which hits home when Edward R. Murrow asks Salk who owns the patent for the polio vaccine?: "The people," he replies. "Would you patent the sun?" In the same program is the Centre Pompidou by Karim Ainouz, a Brazilian filmmaker who studied architecture. He spends most of the episode inside the building, maximizing 3D by floating through tunnels, galleries, elevators, back-of-house spaces and the main hall which is treated like an airport arrival and departure lounge. The shot of a window washer gliding up the clear glass-walled escalator holding a sponge in one hand followed by a squeegee in another and letting the upward glide of the moving staircase do the work is pure ballet. The voice of the building is Deyan Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum in London and former editor of Blueprint magazine, who intones "In a digital century, a world of flickering pixels… a machine for culture that I am, which once seemed so violent, so threatening, has the nostalgic charm now of a steam engine." IFC Center. http://www.ifccenter.com Part 1: The Berlin Philharmonic. Director, Wim Wenders The National Library of Russia. Director, Michael Glawogger Halden Prison. Director, Michael Madsen Part 2: The Salk Institute. Director, Robert Redford The Oslo Opera House. Director, Margreth Olin Centre Pompidou. Director, Karim Ainouz
Posts tagged with "Louis Kahn":
Winners of the 32nd Annual Awards for Excellence in Design were announced last night at the Thomas Leeser–designed BRIC Arts Media House in Brooklyn’s emerging Cultural District. Mayor Bill de Blasio was on hand to honor the winning projects, which were selected by the city’s Design Commission. "While Brooklyn is my home borough, I am proud to be awarding a diverse group of projects representing all five New York City boroughs," the mayor said in a statement. "This year's winners exemplify the Design Commission's mission to enhance every New Yorker's quality of life through public design, regardless of their size or location of the project." The 10 winning proposals are all unbuilt, but two special recognition awards were awarded to Tod Williams Billie Tsien’s LeFrak Center in Prospect Park and Louis Kahn’s Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island. Cornell Tech's First Academic Building According to the New York Design Commission:
Cornell Tech's first academic building establishes an inspiring atmosphere for graduate-level research that will foster interdisciplinary collaboration with shared work areas and flexible learning spaces. The dynamic facade features bronze-colored perforated metal panels with strategic openings to the glass curtain wall beneath to control natural lighting and capture views of Manhattan and Queens. A monumental stair tower extrudes from the main structure above the lobby space to unmistakably mark the entrance along the central pedestrian walkway. The expansive undulating canopy does double duty in shading the roof surface to reduce thermal load and supporting an array of photovoltaic panels. At the ground level, an outdoor cafe offers views south to the central plaza and lawn, which will ultimately form the heart of the campus.Four Directions from Hunters Point According to the New York Design Commission:
Whether tucked between book shelves, pushing up through the roof deck, or peeking out of the Q in the library's sign, Julianne Swartz's portal lenses serve to engage, orient, and disorient the viewer. Each lens presents a different optical distortion of the vista beyond-capturing a wide angle of the sky, inverting the Manhattan skyline, or multiplying focal points of the library's garden. Taken together, the portals mirror the fundamental purpose of a library, where visitors seek out information, find themselves transported to new realities, and come away with a different perspective.Sunset Park Playground Reconstruction According to the New York Design Commission:
This sensitive playground reconstruction maximizes play value while respecting the aesthetic established in the 1930s, when Robert Moses included the original playground as part of the Works Progress Administration reconstruction of Sunset Park. Within an enlarged footprint, undulating pathways define the perimeter, separate play spaces by age group, and unite all users at a central spray shower with in-ground jets. By incorporating grade changes, these paths double as play features-challenging children to climb, balance, and explore. The planting palette adds multi-stem trees, shrubs, and groundcovers to complement the mature shade trees and incorporate seasonal interest.Peace Clock According to the New York Design Commission:
Located across First Avenue from the United Nations headquarters, Lina Viste Grønli's sculpture celebrates the legacy of Trygve Lie, the first Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Peace Clock is a 17-foot-diameter brass kinetic sculpture that functions abstractly as a clock. Twice a day, the hands of the clock form the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament Symbol-more colloquially known as the Peace Sign. Inspired by the history of the UN's formation and Lie's dedication to peace and fundamental human freedom, Grønli's clock stands as a reminder that time is both fleeting and infinite, always offering the opportunity to achieve world peace.Joseph A. Verdino Jr. Grandstand According to the New York Design Commission:
Since its inception 60 years ago, the South Shore Little League has been a vibrant community institution, enriching the lives of thousands of children. The new grandstand, named in memory of a young player, is formed by a series of glue-laminated bents clad in a perforated metal screen with white painted supergraphics and a standing seam metal roof. With covered seating for 275 spectators, an elevated press box, a conference room, and protected dugouts, this simple yet elegant structure is a home run!Conference House Park Pavilion According to the New York Design Commission:
Perched at the water's edge, not far from the 17th-century stone Conference House, the pavilion presents a simple yet contemporary complement to the historic structure. Set atop piles to raise it out of the floodplain, the structure forms a light and airy overlook and event space. The pavilion's arched canopy layers translucent fiberglass over naturally moisture-resistant, glue-laminated cedar rafters to maximize natural light while shielding visitors from sun or inclement weather. A series of stone walls set into the upland lawn offers an attractive seating option but also works to control runoff along the slope.New York Botanical Garden's East Gate Entrance, Edible Academy, and Family Garden According to the New York Design Commission:
The redesign of the east entrance literally bridges the gap from the neighboring community to the Botanical Garden's horticultural collections and programming. Visitors follow a winding path through a verdant slope and cross a domestic hardwood pedestrian bridge over the valley to find the state-of-the-art Edible Academy and Family Garden. Employing simple shed structures, the design showcases sustainable features, including a greenroof system, solar panels, and geothermal heating and cooling. With classrooms featuring glass hangar doors for easy access to the garden plots and a decked overlook with views of the Bronx River, the Edible Academy and Family Garden promises to be an engaging and bucolic learning space.Alley Pond Environmental Center According to the New York Design Commission:
Set back from the busy thoroughfare of Northern Boulevard, the environmental center is nestled at the edge of Alley Pond Park. The redesigned center nearly doubles the size of the current facility, enhancing the staff's ability to serve the 50,000 schoolchildren who visit annually. While a glazed brick facade presents a buffer to the road, the classrooms have large windows providing views into the park, and access to an exterior deck. The two facade treatments are unified by a sloped standing-seam metal roof, which folds down to drain water into an adjacent rain garden. By incorporating good environmental building practices, the Center's new home is itself a teaching tool, helping the Center achieve its mission to preserve the city's natural landscape.SPECIAL RECOGNITION FOR COMPLETED PROJECTS FDR'S Four Freedoms Park According to the New York Design Commission:
Four Freedoms Park commemorates President Franklin D. Roosevelt and celebrates the freedoms articulated in his famous 1941 State of the Union speech: Freedom of Speech and Expression, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear. Designed by Louis I. Kahn, the project was only realized nearly 40 years after his death. The design capitalizes on the island's thin, triangular tip with a tapered lawn extending from the top of a grand entry stair, flanked with allées of littleleaf linden trees. The symmetrical plan focuses the visitor's gaze toward the threshold of an openair room partially enclosed with monumental slabs of granite, which contain an excerpt from Roosevelt's speech. A master statesman and a master architect have, between them, given us a remarkable public space in which to contemplate these four essential freedoms.LeFrak Center at Lakeside According to the New York Design Commission:
Constructed of rough-hewn granite and cloaked in earthen roofs, the LeFrak Center maintains a respectful low profile within the surrounding landmarked park. The one-story structures are linked with a bridge at roof level and frame an open-air elliptical skating rink and a regulation sized hockey rink. The hockey rink's monumental canopy features a midnight blue ceiling carved with silver shapes inspired by figure skating footwork. In the warmer months, the rinks are thawed out for roller skating, special events, and a water play feature for children. Combined with the restoration of the lakeside landscape, the construction of the LeFrak Center is the most ambitious capital project in Prospect Park since the park was completed in 1867.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bz8Y761n5H0 Renzo Piano is again in architectural relationship with Louis Kahn. Early in his career, Piano worked briefly with the Louis I. Kahn office. This time, his architecture is separate but complementary. Set to open on November 27th, the Renzo Piano Pavilion at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, TX will expand the exhibition space of the historic 1972 Louis Kahn-designed museum, creating an art complex on the site. A new video preview of the building has been released, in which Kimbell Director Eric Lee explores the exterior features and promotes excitement for its opening. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCfUiEmRQVc Piano’s design plays with light and lightness in the same materials used by Kahn: light-colored concrete, glass, and wood. It adds an underground auditorium, three additional galleries, and a education center to the Kimbell, while using half the amount of energy required by the Kahn Building. Distinct yet in constant dialogue, Piano himself pronounced that the buildings of the Kimbell Art Museum are "close enough for a conversation, not too close and not too far away." [h/t Lee Rosembaum / CultureGrrl ]
One of the most important components of any architecture school is its semester-long lecture series. It's a chance for schools to bring in voices from outside their building and communicate to students a broad range of approaches and ideas percolating in the culture and profession. Many schools send out posters of these lectures to other schools across the country to announce their programing and these are posted on hallway walls for all to see even if they are thousands of miles away on another coast. But now City College of New York's Spitzer School of Architecture has taken the next step and is simulcasting its lectures live online for the public to view. Old lectures will be archived and viewable any time. This semester City College is focusing its lectures on Rethinking Kahn and have scheduled a distinguished line up of Louis Kahn scholars including Stanislaus von Moos this Thursday, February 28 speaking on Kahn’s urban projects. On March 7, Ken Frampton will be speaking on monumentality in Kahn’s work. March 21 will feature Gina Pollara who will lecture on New York's FDR Memorial on Roosevelt Island and its construction. After that Robert Twombley and William J.R. Curtis will lecture. On the Friday after William Curtis’ lecture, there will be a discussion between William Curtis and George Ranalli and Rethinking Kahn.
You can’t make a monument without breaking some eggs. Fabergé cosmetics heir Reed Rubin is protesting a decision by the board of Roosevelt Island’s Four Freedoms Park to not include a donor inscription on the Louis Kahn-designed FDR memorial. For a $2.5 million donation in honor of Rubin’s parents Vera D. and Samuel Rubin, founders of the cosmetics firm and the Reed Foundation, the foundation claims it was promised an inscription in a prominent spot (preferably near the bust of FDR on a slab facing Manhattan). The board of the park, not wanting to compromise the monument’s design, proposed an inscription in another location in the park. Rubin and the foundation are fighting back, and had tried to postpone October's dedication. The New York Daily News quoted a letter written by the park’s board chairman William vanden Heuvel to the foundation: “You may prevail in a courtroom. But it will be a Pyrrhic victory, dear friends, a scar not a medal on the list of your achievements.”
This morning former President Bill Clinton, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined in a dignitary-studded dedication ceremony for the long awaited Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Memorial Park on Roosevelt Island’s southern tip. The four-acre triangular park, designed by architect Louis Kahn, features 120 Linden trees leading to a half-ton bronze bust of Roosevelt at its crest surveying the U.N. Headquarters and the East River. The sculpture by American artist Jo Davidson sits on a alcove of white granite inscribed with excerpts of the president’s renowned Four Freedoms speech. While the forty-years-in-the-making memorial does not officially open to the public until October 24th you can catch an early glimpse on October 19th when the park will be featured as Archtober’s Building of The Day.
Few university art museums have holdings that span from 3000-year old Chinese bronze vessels to bronze coins of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, and from the blue-tiled gates of ancient Babylon to Blam, a red, white, and blue oil painting by Roy Lichtenstein. The collections of the Yale University Art Gallery, both deep and wide-ranging, offer up an impressive art-fueled time machine, and thanks to the Gallery's current expansion project by Ennead, visitors will be able to travel more easily than ever across history and cultures. The updated Gallery, three buildings that Ennead has carefully stitched together as one, is itself a kind of timeline that reflects Yale's architectural history: Street Hall from 1866, described by its architect Peter B. Wight (channeling John Ruskin) as "Veronese Gothic," was most recently home to the art history department; over 50 years later Egerton Swartwout created an enclosed bridge that linked Street Hall to his 1928 neo-Gothic museum (the "Old" Yale Art Gallery), built just across the road; and next door in 1953 Louis Kahn completed one of his first major commissions, a five-story museum building with striking ceilings of concrete tetrahedron coffers, whose first floor now serves as the expanded museum's main entrance. Though the youngest of the three, Kahn's building was the first up for renovation, a job Ennead (then Polshek) took on in 2006. At a recent press preview of the Gallery, Ennead partner Duncan Hazard diplomatically commented that "Kahn was figuring it out as he went along." (Over time sweating steel walls necessitated interior gutters, which, needless to say, didn't help achieve a constant 70 degree/50 percent humidity standard museum climate.) In the recent renovations of Swartwout and Street, Ennead took care to use storm windows to help with climate control, but these panes are recessed in the thick stone walls, which aids in maintaining the original look of the windows from the exterior. Inside, warrens of makeshift offices were removed to restore the buildings' generous rooms, and a surprisingly spectacular glass elevator was installed to connect the floors above with an extensive new education center at the basement level. At the top of Swartwout, Ennead added a floor and a half, which will provide space for temporary exhibitions and a dedicated study gallery, where every semester professors can request art to be displayed for use in their courses. The new addition is pulled back from the original facade to create a terrace with panoramic views of New Haven and is the new home of several large-scale sculptures, including a Henry Moore. The expanded Gallery, which will open in December and tally almost 65,000 square feet, is free and open to the public, but its primary audience is students, and with the new space Yale hopes to instill an appreciation for art that will last a lifetime. If Yale generates even more art aficionados, a further expansion may be on the distant horizon: donors, many of them alumni, have given the museum 15,000 new works of art just since the renovation project began.
Cornell University has named 2005 Pritzker Prize winner Thom Mayne as architect for the first building at its Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island called the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute. The selection should overshadow some sour grapes that were emanating from Stanford in the past few days regarding their losing bid. Mayne bested an all-star list, including Rem Koolhaas of OMA, Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, Steven Holl, and SOM. The choice of Mayne, whose iconic building 41 Cooper Square still jams traffic at Astor Place, hints that Cornell is looking for a traffic stopper of its own on the East River. "It was a nice list; all the usual talent, but I knew we had a good shot," said Mayne, on his way back to his second home base in LA, "because I could speak intelligently to their three main areas of interest: an innovative educational environment; connective urbanism; sustainability. I can walk the walk." Cornell is developing the site with a proposal prepared by SOM, but there was no mention of the that firm in today's press release, though they remain the master planner for the project. Today's announcement was all about the next step, with Cornell’s dean of architecture, art, and planning, Kent Kleinman praising Morphosis: "No firm is better at turning constraints into creative solutions of astonishing power than Thom Mayne and Morphosis.” As AN reported soon after the Mayor announced the winning bid, SOM's ground work tried to establish that the main 150,000 square foot building would not only be a net-zero building, but, in the words of SOM principal Roger Duffy, "not be an object building." Mayne said that the first meetings on plan and program were only now taking place but he said that "nothing is fixed at this point; it needs to be open-ended." The notion of a prescriptive master plan, he noted, went out with Victor Gruen in the 70s. Morphosis will work with Arup as the engineer on the first building, which the team will design to meet a net-zero energy goal; James Corner is on board for landscape. The south end of the island could likely become an architectural playground, with more RFPs soon going out for the other Tech Campus buildings and the soon-to-be completed Four Freedoms Park by Louis Kahn. Saying the project had come along at just the right moment, Mayne enthused about the opportunities ahead: "The old campus was about the yard or the square. This wants a new paradigm, someplace that is both contained and not contained; simultaneously isolated and completely connected. I love those kind of dualities."
The Center for Architecture is known for programming variety, but last Thursday night's premier of Architect: a chamber opera was a first. Granted, the film premier benefiting the CFA Foundation wasn’t live opera, but it was the first time the public got to hear the piece by Lewis Spratlan. The Pulitzer Prize winning composer's music was paired with electroacoustical music by John Downey and Jenny Kallick, whose process involved "sound sampling" spaces designed by Kahn, such as the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. Spratlan's music was then electronically "placed" within the various spaces. For all the electronic bells and whistles, the piece is fairly traditional, albeit inflected with modernist leanings. Classic operatic devices could be found throughout, particularly in the character of a trickster god called Momus, a minor deity thrown off Olympus. The trickster morphs into the Guide, the Engineer, and the Healer, all of who conspire to get the architect away from the Woman, in order to create buildings that flatter the gods. Given Kahn's unconventional personal life--various children from various lovers and a tragic demise at New York's Penn Station--playing off the personal drama would seem an obvious choice. Instead, the team obliquely focused on the architect's struggle to realize his vision, opting for a universal theme that transcended the medium and artist. The film intersperses relatively few images of Kahn’s buildings with watercolors by artist Michiko Theurer. and photographs of Rome’s crumbling ruins, partly inspired by Edgar Alan Poe's poem, "The Coliseum". Even images of Gaudi's "La Sagrada Familia" find their way into the cross fades. The creators traveled to Eternal City, to several Kahn buildings, and worked together at Yale where the architect’s Art Gallery and Center for British Art loomed over the process. For opera designer John Conklin the work evoked Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande. Kallick's libretto eschewed archi-speak in favor of conversations between Kahn and his collaborators, such as this statement to the Engineer: "Dear August [Komendant] why does everyon pull me down?" "You are a dreamer not a fighter," replies the engineer. This kicks off an ode to concrete duet, that's clearly the opera's show-stopper: "Mix and cure it with the right vibration," goes the oft repeated refrain. And finally, the words every engineer wants to hear from an architect: "Your genius has made my buildings your buildings." Part of what makes Architect intriguing is the colaborators cross polinization into other fields. Spratlan wanted to be an architect before becoming a composer, Theurer is trained as a violinist, and Downey is studying radiology at Stanford. Later during the panel discussion, Kahn’s daughter Sue-Ann Kahn, said that the piece was an allegory for any artist’s struggle. “Either the gods are helping them or crushing them,” she said. Having Conklin on hand turned the post-screening panel into a virtual workshop. Conklin, having seen the video before, simply listened to the piece apart from the imagery. He said that while the ethereal images worked well on video, live opera was another matter. He thought much of the abstraction could be retained, but he envisioned scenes between the Architect and the Woman played in a banal kitchen. He also suggested bringing the small orchestra, there are only seven players, onto to stage to become part of the action. The video will be released with the CD in Spring 2012 and the creators hope to perform the production live at a Kahn-designed site. The idea intrigued AN's editors, who suggested Dacca, the more cost and acoustically effective auditorium at the Yale Center for British Art, or at the new Four Freedoms Park performed by the homeless City Opera. As Sue-Ann Kahn pointed out during the panel discussion, the delayed memorial exemplifies the artist's struggle to see their work realized.
194X–9/11: American Architects and the City The Museum of Modern Art 11 West 53rd St. Through January 2 Prompted by the United States’ entrance into World War II in 1942, Architectural Forum magazine commissioned pioneering architects to imagine and plan a postwar American city. At the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 194X-9/11: American Architects and the City features the plans, renderings, and sculpture of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Louis Kahn, Paul Rudolph, and Rem Koolhaas and their ideas for cities of the future. Rarely displayed works, such as Mies van der Rohe’s collage Museum for a Small City Project (1942), above, reveal plans for cultural centers and urban life in uncertain times.
Lori Bookstein Fine Art 138 Tenth Ave., New York Through June 25 The architect Louis Kahn drew inspiration from his travels, both in foreign lands and closer to home. A new exhibition brings together drawings, watercolors, pastels, and oil paintings Kahn made between the late 1920s and the early 1950s during trips around the United States, Canada, Europe, and Egypt. From New England churches to Egyptian rock quarries, the collected works offer Kahn’s interpretation of diverse landscapes and cityscapes, like Coastal Village, No. 2, Isle Madame, Nova Scotia (1936), above. In the exhibition, Kahn’s artwork is contextualized with his postcards and other travel ephemera.
Since My Architect, interest in Louis Kahn’s work has grown exponentially, and many of his lesser-known buildings have received greater care. Among the most endangered was the Trenton Bath House in Ewing, New Jersey. Though it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, it’s future was uncertain until 2007 when the Township of Ewing and Mercer County, NJ acquired the property and agreed to restore it, a process you can now follow on a new website. The project, which includes restoration of the four connected pyramid-shaped pavilions and two day camp pavilions as well as the reconstruction of two additional day camp structures and landscape improvements, is being led by Farewell, Mills, and Gatsch Architects. If you'd like to see the structures in person, the mayor of Ewing is hosting a celebration for the structures on Monday, September 14 from 3:00 to 7:00 pm. The free event will be held at site, now part of the Ewing Senior and Community Center, which is located at 999 Lower Ferry Road.