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 Vinoly":
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.
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.
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.
You know that if a trend has hit a major office building, it's really gone mainstream. The pixelated effect that has been seen in hip textiles and interior design is used for the glass facade on this SmithGroup project going up in Mission Bay. For people driving down Third St., it adds a bit of sparkle to the vista, reflecting the blueness of the open sky around it. Compared to the new Rafael Vinoly-designed UCSF cancer research building next to it (which Mitchell Schwarzer twitted for its blandness), it's the sequined cocktail dress next to the Gap khakis.
Rafael Vinoly recently completed a new addition and renovation at the Cleveland Museum of Art, a major encyclopedic collection set in the city’s leafy University Circle area, which includes Case Western Reserve University and cultural institutions like the famed Cleveland Orchestra. The campus includes a 1916 Beaux Arts building and a Marcel Breuer-designed addition from 1971. Vinoly reportedly worked closely with the museum’s then director Timothy Rub, and critics have praised the addition’s galleries and the improved circulation throughout the complex. While I’m not wild about the stripes on the exterior of the new East Wing, which at first seem like an odd echo of postmodernism from Vinoly, Breuer used similar bands of stone in his wing, and Vinoly's substantial proportions in masonry and glass strike a good balance between Beaux Arts and Brutalism. This is the first of a two-phase expansion. Rub recently left Cleveland for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where he will oversee a major expansion at that museum by Frank Gehry. If it turns out as well as Vinoly’s work in Cleveland, the Philadelphia project will help to put to rest the belief that Gehry’s museums are not very art- or curator-friendly.