Shortly after the Landmarks Preservation Commission declared a section of the Grand Concourse an historic district on Tuesday, New York Times columnist Constance Rosenblum received a call with the news. Walking down Montague Street near her home in Brooklyn Heights, the usually unflappable writer burst into tears. When it comes to the Concourse, Rosenblum wrote the book. Her 2010 chronicle of the corridor, Boulevard of Dreams (NYU Press, $20), played a significant role in calling attention to the plight and promise of the neighborhood. “It was notable day,” she said in a phone interview in reference to the announcement. “It wasn’t easy for the Bronx, and the stigmas will remain for a long time.” Thick with Deco and Moderne, to say nothing of early twentieth century Tudor and Renaissance, the district also showcases work of a few contemporary firms as well. Architectronica’s Bronx Museum of Art sits just down the street from Rafael Viñoly’s Bronx Housing Court. But not all of the 78 properties within the district are knock-out architectural gems. “It’s a little pockmarked,” said Rosenblum. “It’s not cute brownstones, one after the other.” Rosenblum profiled Sam Goodman in the book. He lives, works, and grew up on the Concourse. He said that should the Bronx's fortunes swing up or down, the redistricting will deter owners from abandoning the neighborhood. “Now they'll say, ‘I’m not going to sell to Donald Trump or to the city,’” said Goodman. “So let’s do what we can to keep the buildings attractive.” Goodman pointed out that the landmarking is for a very small section of the Boulevard. Plenty of wonderful buildings sit just to the north, including Emigrant Savings Bank, Paradise Theater and the freshly restored Edgar Allan Poe House. Even with a new visitors center by Toshiko Mori, recent vandalism at Poe Park show that the bad old days aren’t necessarily over. Funding and maintenance remain key issues that preservation alone can’t solve. To that end, Rosenblum believes that the designation goes beyond the bricks and mortar. Landmarking can provide pride of place. “Living in a place that’s important can make you feel good about yourself,” she said. “It’s more than protecting a gorgeous building, it’s giving imprimatur to a very important idea.”
Posts tagged with "Rafael Viñoly":
AN's Julie Iovine held a freewheeling conversation last week with architect Rafael Viñoly under the subject heading "What Comes After Postmodern Architecture." The architect had some choice words about the period before moving on to a variety of other topics, including corporate architecture, collaboration, and New York. https://vimeo.com/22260678
purchase tickets online through MCNY. Tickets: $12 for non-members, $8 for seniors & students, $6 for museum members.Join Julie Iovine, executive editor at The Architect's Newspaper, tomorrow (Tuesday) evening for a compelling discussion with architect Rafael Viñoly at the Museum of the City of New York at 6:30pm. The topic for the night, "What Comes After Postmodern Architecture?", will tackle the state of New York City architecture. The recent building boom in New York City has radically altered the look and feel of the city and added considerably to the list of starchitects currently reshaping New York’s iconic skyline. It has also helped redefine boundaries of the eclectic pluralism of postmodern architecture. How do we label the current architectural style of the last decade? Is there a post-postmodern? Reservations required. Call 917-492-3395 or
One of the biggest projects on the San Francisco Peninsula is the upcoming $720 million Stanford Hospital. It will replace -- though not displace -- the hospital's current home, a three-story affair designed by Edward Durell Stone in 1959, which has a concrete brise-soleil and is very much a building of its time. The new structure, which Rafael Viñoly Architects is in charge of, looks more like a hotel than a hospital, and the design is an indication of what state-of-the-art healthcare facilities are emphasizing these days. Designed to maximize natural lighting in what is often a rather closed, oppressive environment, the Viñoly hospital features a checkerboard layout, in which buildings are interspersed with squares of open space. You can get the general idea through this 3D animation, which must set some sort of bar for fancy architectural renderings -- forget about abstract outlines of people, here are models energetically walking around the space and cars driving past. (The animation was produced by a San Francisco company called Transparent House.) However, what the animation doesn't really show you is the interior, which has an enormous central atrium, like many a high-end hotel. The first two floors of the hospital are where procedures take place (surgery, imaging, and emergency services). Above are clear glass cubes, which contain the patient rooms (with 368 beds). The glass cubes are perched on opaque bases that hide all the mechanical equipment of the hospital, and the rooms look out over the hospital's gardens, meditation spaces and courtyards. The first two floors and adjacent two-story parking garage will be covered by roof gardens, which will create a second ground plane above the street and give patients access to open space without them having to leave the hospital and deal with all the attendant security issues. The rooms themselves will have window walls, offering views of the surrounding campus and town to provide some distraction from the tedium of a hospital stay. There will be motorized blinds that track the sun and reduce heat gain (LEED certification is planned). "It is an unusual layout for a hospital," said Chan-li Lin, who heads up Viñoly's San Francisco office. "Most hospitals don’t devote this much space to public amenities, because they do not generate income. But at Stanford, the buildings and landscape are always somewhat integrated, and the courtyard idea is embedded into their very DNA, so we were able to get our client on board. When you go to a very large hospital, it is easy to become disoriented because these buildings generally have such a large floorplate. Hopefully, we are creating a more humane environment for treatment and healing, where you are always aware of the connection to the outdoors. " Stanford is part of the low-density suburbs between San Francisco and San Jose, and at seven floors (and 130 feet), the hospital will be the tallest building in the area (except for Hoover Tower, which is pencil-thin) -- which is yet another motivation for reducing the mass of the building. The architects are working with the L.A. firm Lee, Burkhart, Liu, for their specialized knowledge in healthcare design. Ground-breaking is planned for the fall of 2012, and the first phase, with 820,000 square feet, is anticipated to take four years to complete.
Last night, I was lucky enough to enjoy assorted swells (but not very many architects) at the Hearst building for a screening of the enigmatic “How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?", a film devoted to his lordship’s extravagantly photogenic architecture and life of work. Or so it looks in this approximately 90 minute film which sweeps us from the Engadin Alps where Foster annually plows through a 26-mile mile cross-country ski marathon in tight black lycra with some 14,000 others to his redbrick childhood home quite literally on the wrong side of the tracks in Manchester to his current home in a Swiss villa, spectacularly void of human touches, to his 1,000-plus strong office in London to the early Sainsbury Centre; the Swiss Re gherkin; the British Museum Great Court; the Berlin Reichstag, etc, etc, and of course, the
Hong Kong Beijing Airport that is the largest building on earth as narrator Deyan Sudjic intones mellifluously. (The trailor below provides but a morsel of this delight.)
Many of his buildings are seen as if from the wing of a Cessna gliding overhead—especially the great dinosaur-scaled Millau Viaduct in France—with the nice touch of swelling slow-mo clouds, and almost as if Foster himself were at the controls. And possibly he was, as we learn that he is quite the speed and height freak. All is accompanied by an original, also very swelling, score performed by the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra.
The cocktail party was not so dizzying with guests including Cesar Pelli, Rafael Viñoly, Vishaan Chakrabarti, Mark Wigley, Beatriz Colomina, Bob Stern, and Paul Goldberger who after the film said he had no recall whatsoever of where or when he was filmed speaking so glowingly of the Hearst tower. Pelli remembered exactly when he first met Foster in the 70s, when he was the partner in charge of design at Victor Gruen and Foster insisted on a meeting. Meanwhile, Foster smiled as graciously and blankly as the many on-hand socialites known primarily to Lady Foster, who produced the film. When asked about the film, Foster said he was amazed that it was so deep in detail. Agreed! And then we were all called into the auditorium where Lady Foster by way of introduction to “How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?” said: “And we were able to follow Foster closely for three years!” As his wife, I should hope so.
And, oh yes, the title comes from a question Buckminster Fuller, a mentor of sorts for Foster in the 70s, asked on visiting his Faber headquarters in Ipswich many years ago. Apparently it weighed quite a few tons. And for one night of fun, so did his film.
Update (4/21/10): Three more firms have been confirmed: Snohetta, Rafael Viñoly, and L.A.'s Frederick Fisher. This is shaping up to be a pretty diverse crew. The SF Chronicle reports that the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive has sent out letters to ten architecture firms, asking them to submit qualifications to design their new home. Adding to the three that have already been sussed out (Bernard Tschumi, Tod Williams Billie Tsien, and Will Bruder), we have confirmed a fourth: Ann Beha, whose Currier Museum of Art in New Hampshire has been well-received. If that partial list is any indication, the museum is looking at a more diverse group than SFMOMA is considering for its addition, though (as in SFMOMA's case) no local names have surfaced yet. It is going to be an interesting adaptive reuse project: the old printing plant on the site will be renovated, and a 50,000 square-foot addition incorporated into the whole.
As the redevelopment of the massive Domino Sugar refinery on the WIlliamsburg waterfront continues to trudge through the city's public review process, what remains of the once mighty sweetener plant continues to deteriorate—or improve, depending on your attitudes towards street art. Following on the footsteps of the busted windows some feared would cause water damage to the main refinery building, now warring graffiti crews have set up shop on the bin building. A concrete addition from the 1960s that will be demolished to make way for some of Rafael Viñoly's 2,200 apartments, the bin building has now been bombed by no fewer than 5 graffiti writers. But it's not all bad news for the development, as it won conditional approval from Borough President Marty Markowitz on Friday, though some of those conditions are pretty steep if also in line with the demands of the local community board, which does not support the project. They include reduced bulk and density for the project; more and better subway service, especially on the L, for all those new residents; and room for a school, supermarket, and "possible artisan establishments" within the development.
Even with its generous amounts of affordable housing—30 percent of some 2,200 units, as opposed to 20 percent—the New Domino project surrounding the former Domino sugar refinery on the Williamsburg waterfront has faced stiff opposition from the community, as we reported in Issue 02 earlier this year. The local community remains opposed to the project's density and lack of infrastructure to support all those new residents in towers designed by Rafael Viñoly that reach 40 stories, twice as tall as the iconic Domino refinery they will surround. Community Board 1 reaffirmed its opposition last night, when it voted 23-12 against the project. Our pal Aaron Short has an insanely detailed blow-by-blow over on his blog, but it all basically boils down—not unlike most of the board's decisions on land-use matters—that the project is just too damn big. Meanwhile, something even stranger is going on at the waterfront site, as the above picture demonstrates. It turned up yesterday on Curbed, the apparent work of a preservationist cum conspiracy theorist who insists the refinery's many blown-out windows are leading to structural instability and imminent collapse. To which we ask: One lump or two?
With all the notice being paid to the new U.S. embassy this week, an even bigger (physically if not psychically) project just next door was overshadowed as it won a key approval yesterday. Rafael Viñoly's massive Battersea development, which will turn the iconic Battersea Power Station and 40 surrounding acres (once on the cover of a Pink Floyd album) into a huge mixed-use community, won approval from the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment. According to our colleagues at BD, the CABE found the 5.5 billion pound project to be "intelligent and well-resolved." It includes more than 3,700 apartment units, 1.5 million feet of office space, 500,000 of retail, and community facilities, though an ecodome and other expensive features have been ditched on account of the bad economy. It wasn't all good news for Viñoly this week, though, as his similarly post-industrial New Domino project in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, took a lashing from the local community board. We'll have a full report on that when there's a final vote next month.
And so it begins. MGM Mirage's 67-acre, 18 million square foot, $7.8 billion CityCenter, one of the biggest developments in the history of mankind, officially opened today. It includes buildings by Cesar Pelli, Daniel Libeskind, Rafael Viñoly, Helmut Jahn, KPF and Norman Foster. We can't wait to put together our commentary. Here are some initial thoughts after our first day here: The Pros: -It's a great accomplishment for Las Vegas to finally highlight contemporary architecture instead of theme-based pastiche (Paris, Venice, Luxor, etc. etc) or high end luxury (Bellagio, Wynn, etc). This place doesn't have a theme, but the closest two are architecture and urbanism. Who knew? Whether they pulled this off is another question. -There are some architectural gems. All the buildings have their strong points: Jahn's Veer towers are the most ambitious, with their off-kilter forms, intricate and colorful facades, and tension between lightness and monumentality. Pelli's Aria, the epicenter of the development, is strongest at night when its facade glows thanks to fantastic lighting that brings out the brightness in the glassy building's aluminum mesh sunshades. Inside its highlight is the collection of large windows that open to Libeskind's Crystals, and to natural light. More critique to come.. -The collection of buildings does create a feeling of urbanity, particularly from certain perspectives. For example the view toward the Aria from the entance road, when framed by the rows of buildings on either side, is a powerful moment, particularly at night. In fact like most things in Vegas, everything is better here at night, when more people are activating the place and lights and excitement cover up any flaws. -Most of the buildings have achieved LEED Gold certification, and many even incorporate natural light and views of the (gasp) outside, a rarity for Las Vegas, where experience is tightly controlled to suck you in and even confuse you into spending money. -Perhaps the biggest pro is that this thing actually got done in such troubled economic times. A bailout from Infinity World Development Corp, a subsidiary of (we're not joking here) Dubai World is what gave it the last push when things were looking bleak. The Cons -While it's admirable that the development is seeking to be more urban than the self-contained megastructures of Las Vegas, it's not really a city center. A diversity of styles and a grouping of self-contained buildings is certainly a start. But there's very little diversity of uses, little connection to the street (or to the realities of everyday life) and to the rest of Las Vegas, very few pedestrian friendly spaces that aren't intended to suck out your money, and a chance for a real public plaza in the center of the development has been wasted in favor of a giant traffic circle. -It's great that CityCenter went for a diversity of styles, but it would have been nice if they fit together in a more logical way. Right now it's sort of an architectural petting zoo; a collection of pretty objects with limited relation to one another. -While the buildings are all solid the architecture for the most part is pretty conservative and not breaking any new ground. There's only so far that a large public corporation like MGM will go in its taste for experiment. The exception is Jahn's, which while a formal spectacle (perfect for Vegas!) doesn't feel gimmicky. Libeskind's is very edgy as well, but not much different from what we've seen him do elsewhere. Time for us to digest some more and get back to you. But here are some pictures taken by yours truly to enjoy.
City-funded architecture work is becoming scarce, if the DDC's latest list of Design and Construction Excellence firms is any indicator, so it's heartening when public projects promised during the boom times move into the construction phase. Today, Mayor Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Kelly, and DDC Commissioner Burney broke ground on the Rafael Vinoly-designed 121st Precinct Stationhouse, which was unveiled in last year. It will be the first police station built on Staten Island since 1962, and the first in the city to be built under the 2030 sustainable design initiative. The project is expected to earn a LEED Silver rating and to be completed in 2012. See a rendering after the jump.
After a recent visit we saw that Las Vegas' 18 million square-foot City Center project, with buildings by Daniel Libeskind, Norman Foster, Cesar Pelli, Helmut Jahn, Rafael Vinoly, and KPF, among others, is well underway. In fact despite delays (remedied by foreign investors), the project's web site still claims it will be done by this year. We also noticed that Libeskind's new building is sporting a conspicuous Louis Vuitton logo. Only in Vegas.