London-based architect Farshid Moussavi has been selected by His Highness the Aga Khan to design an Ismaili cultural center on an 11-acre site in Houston, Texas. This will be the seventh such center in the world and the first in the United States. Moussavi's scheme was chosen over designs presented by a roster of leading architects including Rem Koolhaas, Jeanne Gang, and David Chipperfield. As home to approximately 40,000 Ismaili Muslims, Houston has one of the largest Ismaili communities in the U.S. Like the other Ismaili cultural centers around the world—in Toronto; London; Lisbon, Portugal; Vancouver, British Columbia; Dushanbe, Tajikistan; and Dubai, U.A.E.—built over the past four decades, the Houston center is intended to serve as an educational, cultural, and spiritual institution for the worldwide Ismaili community and the broader public. The centers are characterized by distinctive designs that blend Islamic aesthetic precepts and symbolism with their local contexts. The Houston center will host a space for prayer and reflection, and will offer areas for public programs, cultural exchange, and discussion. While preliminary renderings for the center have not been released, a spokesperson for the Ismaili Council told the Houston Chronicle that the Center “should be distinctly American and Texan in its approach, but expressive of Houston’s diverse cultures.” The Houston center will be located across from Buffalo Bayou Park, one of the city's main green spaces, and is seen as part of a burgeoning cultural corridor anchored by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, along with other planned public art offerings in the park. The landscape elements of the center are expected to be an integral part of the overall design, and will be led by Thomas Woltz of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects. This will be the second U.S. project for Farshid Moussavi, who designed the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland, which opened in 2012. Her portfolio includes residential complexes, retail flagships, parks, and office towers in Paris, London, and elsewhere in Europe. In her previous practice, Foreign Office Architects, she also designed numerous award-winning projects that ranged from social housing to master plans, including the Yokohama International Cruise Terminal and the Spanish Pavilion at the Aichi International Expo. Moussavi, who is also a professor in practice at Harvard GSD, has previously taught at the Architectural Association in London, Columbia, Princeton, and UCLA. She is a Royal Academician and was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2018 for services to architecture. The design team for the center also includes Hanif Kara, co-founder of engineering firm AKT II and Harvard GSD professor, who will serve as structural design consultant, and Paul Westlake of DLR Group, who is the architect of record. The project is expected to be complete in several years, with the timeline dependent on Moussavi's design.
Posts tagged with "Aga Khan":
A decade in the making, Toronto’s newly inaugurated Aga Khan Park brings 17 acres of greenery to the public
Ten years in the making and inspired by the world’s most picturesque Islamic gardens, the newly inaugurated Aga Khan Park is nothing short of spectacular. The 17-acre forested plot now links the Ismaili Center and the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. Together, they form an educational and cultural complex initiated by the religious leader, His Highness Aga Khan, to educate the populace about the contributions of Muslim civilizations to world heritage, and to foster dialogue and religious tolerance around the world. Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, and the founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network. “This park will contribute to strengthening Toronto’s already vibrant pluralism, showcasing to the world Canada’s rich example of pluralism in action,” His Highness Khan said at the inauguration. Lebanon-based landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic spent a painstaking 10 years designing and creating the verdant expanse, urged by Khan himself to visit traditional gardens such as the Tomb of Humayun in New Delhi and Alhambra’s courtyard gardens in Granada. “The Park brings its own unique style and its own atmosphere to this beautiful corner of the city,” said Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who led the inauguration. “This is a true 21st-century space, one that is steeped in history but that speaks to our modern vision of a global, inclusive and peaceful society.” Dotted with over 12,000 mature trees, 12,000 shrubs, and five reflecting pools, the horticulture was carefully selected to endure Toronto’s climate year-round. The extensive grounds are designed based on a traditional Persian and Mughal chahar bagh (four-part garden), where ordered plantings of serviceberry trees afford a natural geometry. Fringed by cedar hedges at its perimeter, the gardens flow into a park replete with Star Magnolias, River Birches, Trembling Aspens and Weeping Cherries. The shrubs and plants were chosen to lure birds and butterflies, and include species such as Chinese Wisteria, Rose Glow Barberry, and Forsythia bushes.
From an Islamic cemetery in Austria to a 330-meter bridge in North Africa, the five recipients of the 2013 Aga Khan Award for Architecture each address a concern within their culture to improve quality of life. Awarded every three years since its 1977 initiation, the competition grants a collective $1 million to a number of projects that exist in areas with a significant Muslim population. Each project must be culturally receptive and increased merit is given to those that use local resources in ways that may motivate analogous ventures in the future. The 2013 Aga Khan Award winners are as follows: Salam Center for Cardiac Surgery in Khartoum, Sudan From AK Award and Studio Tamassociati:
The Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery consists of a hospital with 63 beds and 300 local staff, with a separate Medical Staff Accommodation Compound sleeping 150 people. The centre is built as a pavilion in a garden with both primary buildings organised around large courtyards. The hospital block is of the highest technical standard with complex functions including three operating theatres optimally placed in relation to the diagnostics laboratories and ward. Mixed modes of ventilation and natural light enable all spaces to be homely and intimate yet secure. Seeing the abandoned containers that had been used to transport construction materials for the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery, the architects were inspired to reuse them to house the centre’s staff. Ninety 20-foot containers form the accommodation block, each unit consisting of 1.5 containers, with a bathroom and small veranda facing the garden. Seven 40-foot containers are occupied by a cafeteria and services. Insulation is through an ‘onion system’ of 5-centimetre internal insulating panels and an outer skin comprising a ventilated metal roof and bamboo blinds. A solar farm powers the water-heating system.Revitalization of Birzeit Historic Centre in Birzeit, Palestine From AK Award and Riwaq - Centre for Architectural Conservation:
This five-year project, part of a rehabilitation master plan initiated by Riwaq, has transformed the decaying town of Birzeit, created employment through conservation and revived vanishing traditional crafts in the process. Community involvement was encouraged from the start, including local NGOs, the private sector, owners, tenants and users, all working with the municipality. Both historic buildings and public spaces have been rehabilitated into community activity hubs. Replaced sections of wall remain distinguishable from the original structures, without harming architectural coherence. Lost features were replaced where there was clear evidence for their former appearance, such as floor tiles with Palestinian motifs. Affordable traditional techniques and local materials were used throughout. Where no historical models were available, new elements were made in a bold contemporary spirit.Rabat-Salé Urban Infrastructure Project in Morocco From AK Award and Marc Mimram Architecture:
Linking Rabat and Salé to form an urban hub, the Hassan II Bridge and its associated access works relieve both cities’ historic sites and populations of atmospheric and sound pollution. The design respects the overwhelming horizontality of the built and natural environments, allowing Rabat’s 12th-century Hassan Tower to retain its vertical dominance of the skyline. The concrete supports, in subtly varying arced forms, are deliberately delicate and lace-like in appearance. Besides providing transport connections, the structure also offers an urban roof over the alluvial plain of the Bouregreg River, creating a protected public space for markets and leisure activities.Rehabilitation of Tabriz Bazaar in Tabriz, Iran From AK Award and ICHTO East Azerbaijan Office:
The Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex was officially protected in 1975 and has been covered by special stewardship measures until 2010, when it was added to the World Heritage List. The complex covers 27 hectares with over 5.5 kilometres of covered bazaars. Three different protection areas have been established (a nominated area, a buffer zone and a landscape zone), subject to special regulations incorporated into the planning instruments. The management framework is based on the participation of the ‘bazaaris’, together with municipal authorities and ICHTO’s Tabriz Bazaar Base. Since 2000, numerous complexes within the bazaar have been rehabilitated with the participation of the owners and tenants. Infrastructure has been improved and public facilities have been built.The Tabriz Bazaar is a unique example of urban conservation and development project in which heritage plays a catalyst role in rejuvenating the tangible and intangible memory of the historic city of Tabriz.Islamic Cemetery in Altach, Austria From AK Award and Bernardo Bader Architects:
The Cemetery serves Vorarlberg, the industrialized westernmost state of Austria, where over eight percent of the population is Muslim. It finds inspiration in the primordial garden, and is delineated by roseate concrete walls in an alpine setting, and consists of five staggered, rectangular grave-site enclosures, and a structure housing assembly and prayer rooms. The principal materials used were exposed reinforced concrete for the walls and oak wood for the ornamentation of the entrance facade and the interior of the prayer space. The visitor is greeted by and must pass through the congregation space with its wooden latticework in geometric Islamic patterns. The space includes ablution rooms and assembly rooms in a subdued palette that give onto a courtyard. The prayer room on the far side of the courtyard reprises the lattice-work theme with Kufic calligraphy in metal mesh on the ‘qibla’ wall.
Kevin Greenberg sends us another insightful dispatch from Kenmare Street: Last Tuesday, the Storefront for Art and Architecture felt like a satellite campus of the GSD as Harvard students and other Cambridgians joined locals at the Storefront for a release party for the second issue of New Geographies, a doctoral student-edited periodical recently launched by the GSD’s Aga Khan Program. The editors of New Geographies, Neyran Turan and Stephan Ramos, told us that they had several meanings in mind when they chose the theme for the second issue. Titled “After Zero,” the issue centers on the slippery idea of a “zero point." The editors cite zero carbon and “zero context” urban developments (or “cities from scratch”) as contemporary examples that force designers to question design methodologies and justifications. Nothing makes for compelling architectural discourse like a nice, open-ended theme. The zero in question might be seen as a tabula rasa from which to proceed, but it’s also a means of marking a significant event. In the context of the current climate, zero is also a code word for crisis. How should architects and designers re-frame interventions after the global economic downturn, in an age when the glitzy mega-developments that grew like crystals in the Persian Gulf suddenly seem like relics of a recently bygone age? What kind of models for future urbanism can we realistically project? These are among the questions that interest the journal’s editors and contributors. You have to hand it to them, too: “After Zero” is a handsome, considered object. Design duties were handled by NYC-based Thumb, who also manage graphic design for Princeton Architectural Press’s 306090, and they do a great job presenting articles from a host of notables, including Keller Easterling, Joseph Grima and Peter Hall. While a few contributors chose to focus on the bizarre urbanism of the Persian Gulf, the “geographies” analyzed really range in their scope and locale from the arctic to Africa, from China to goode olde Europe. Matthew Gandy’s article on French landscape architect Gilles Clement’s “paradise of weeds,” for example, is an interesting interpretation of the issue’s theme and will seem timely to anyone who’s recently visited the High Line. Turan and Ramos were on hand Tuesday to briefly present the new volume, and Harvard professor Hashim Sarkis offered a few words both on the significance of some of the nascent issues that are the theme of “After Zero” and of New Geographies itself. Sarkis gave a little insight into yet another shade of meaning of the “zero” in the volume’s title: It’s a nod to the survival of the journal itself. The inaugural issue of New Geographies, released last year, was numbered zero. Since, as Sarkis noted, many student-run publications start with the first issue and end with the first issue, the release of “After Zero” is cause for celebration indeed. Afterwards the audience sipped prosecco and queued up to purchase copies of the journal, which quickly sold out.