On October 7, the New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation hosted its annual “Lunch at a Landmark” at the top of the Hearst Tower. Guests, New York’s elite architectural, design, and preservation cognoscenti, were offered a rare insight into the building—one from Norman Foster himself. To best explain his old-meets-new approach to the Hearst Tower, Foster revisited five of his past projects: the Reichstag in Berlin; the Millennium Bridge over the Thames; the Millau Viaduct in Millau, France; La Voile in St. Jean Cap Ferrat, France; and the Château Margaux in Bordeaux. The original Art Deco Hearst building by Joseph Urban was always intended to have a tower rising from its base. However, due to complications like the Great Depression, it was nearly 80 years before that tower came to fruition. To build the 46-story-tall skyscraper, Foster scooped out the building’s interior to introduce light and create a kind of “town-square.” This move was initially contested on the grounds of “facadism” but Foster persisted. “When someone says I can’t do something, that is when I get really excited about it,” he said. Now, the dynamic lobby with its dramatic entrance that takes pedestrians over an indoor waterfall to enter is one of the building’s most iconic design moments. Of course, Foster could make an educated guess that this would be the case. He took a similar approach to Berlin’s Reichstag in 1999. In that instance, the hollowed-out core was a historically sensitive move that visually helped to give the building back to the people. Even as he preserved the Russian graffiti and other emblems of the building’s past, the clear dome in the tower physically placed the people above the government as a bright symbol of democracy. Although bridges are markedly different from buildings, Foster also connected past and present with the Millennium Bridge and the Millau Viaduct, quite literally. Taking cues from St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tate Modern in London, the Millennium Bridge’s thin, steel profile frames picturesque views of the city for the approximately 4 million people per year who walk across it. While France’s Millau Viaduct didn’t have to contend with any historic buildings, it presented a similar challenge in that its location, the Massif Central Region, is a National Heritage Site. Using tall piers to support the slender bridge, Foster and Michel Virlogeux (the lead engineer at Eiffage, the same company responsible for the Eiffel Tower), created a structure that only lightly touches the land and enhances the landscape for everyone driving across it. These three projects illustrate Foster’s concept of a design “marriage,” a relationship that he likens to a family, where there is a new generation that may have a distinct style, but it has very strong ties to the older generation. In two other projects he discussed, La Voile in St. Jean Cap Ferrat, France, and the Château Margaux in Bordeaux, Foster opted for a different approach. For La Voile, Foster ran up against a well-intentioned law in the South of France that protected the coastline. Unfortunately, this meant that a nondescript house on his client’s property was also protected. But, by hollowing out an old stone tower from the center, Foster created a new “skin,” a design that totally swallows the original home—perfectly preserving it without compromising the new design. In fact, the fit was so perfect, that the local police raided the house once to make sure the original one was accessible underneath (it was). Along similar lines, but less dramatically, Foster integrated a new structure for making white wine at the Château Margaux winery with an 1815 building by Louis Combes. Pulling inspiration from trees and farm structures, the resulting building appears to grow both organically from the site and from its 19th Century counterpart. These five projects offer a survey of Foster’s innovative and varying approaches to melding old and new architecture in ways both familiar and unique to each site. It will be exciting to see how these approaches unfold as he turns to more radical projects such as the drone port in Rwanda and beyond.
Posts tagged with "Atria":
[beforeafter] [/beforeafter] The Milwaukee Art Museum revamp's previous design and current iteration. (Courtesy HGA Architects & Engineers) The Milwaukee Art Museum’s long-planned expansion and renovation has become somewhat of a saga. Plans for a new addition with an entrance along Lake Michigan were announced in 2012, but hit a snag when HGA Architects and Engineers’ Jim Shields walked off the job in February. In April Urban Milwaukee first broke news that Shields, somewhat of a local design celebrity, had left the project amid quibbling over the design. That spurred conversation around town, with Journal-Sentinel critic Mary Louise Schumacher suggesting the museum consider not building an addition at all. In a surprise twist, Shields returned to the project, having apparently reconciled a dispute over the design direction. The project’s future, however, is still uncertain. As Schumacher pointed out in a column Friday, the new design replaces the 1975 Kahler addition’s eastern face with a glassy atrium. That building originally featured elegantly recessed windows that were later pushed flush with the façade, contributing to the eastern entrance’s deactivation. The museum would eventually close it completely after opening the Santiago Calatrava addition in 2001. The dark zinc or copper patina HGA is considering for the addition’s exterior would recall some of the original design’s drama, while engaging the lakefront with a glassy atrium in a way that Kahler’s building could not. But Schumacher wonders if the museum might be able to accomplish its goals without adding to the mishmash of architectural styles that sparked this continuing saga. Repairs to Eero Saarinen’s adjacent War Memorial building are also part of the plan. The total project will cost at least $25 million. The County of Milwaukee will contribute $10 million toward repairs, and the museum has already raised $14 million. While the architectural legacies of Shields, Kahler, Calatrava and Saarinen are all at stake to varying degrees, not to mention the city’s lakefront urban context, Milwaukeeans have plenty to consider.
With all the news coming out of Gensler lately we've officially declared November Gensler Month. The latest is the firm's new offices inside the Jewel Box building in Downtown LA, a glassy former bank branch located between huge towers at City National Plaza. Completed in record time (construction didn't start until about March of this year) the project, headed by Gensler Associate Richard Hammond, feels like a miniature city with flexible, open banks of offices and small, colorful meeting spaces abutting the open atrium—created by cutting a 30 foot by 50 foot skylight in the ceiling—that defines the space and provides views throughout the interior and onto the city at large. The offices contain an unmistakeable energy collected from the whirl of activity and people and from the connection to the city. The firm, which moved in a week ago, has signed a 12 year lease and can sign two 5-year extensions, so it looks like they'll be here for a while.