Posts tagged with "Controversies":

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New York City’s iconic Four Seasons Restaurant inside the Seagram Building is at the center of a renovation dispute

Four_Seasons_restaurant Traditionalists went into a tailspin over proposed modifications to the landmark Four Seasons Restaurant, a gastronomic and architectural emblem of New York City housed in the historic Seagram Building. The high-ceilinged enclave, clad with French walnut walls, plays daily host to high society a big business in Midtown Manhattan. The eatery garnered landmark status in 1989 for the building’s architectural prowess. Nevertheless, the New York City Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) cautions that this designation does not shield the Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chairs, Florence Knoll banquettes, Eero Saarinen cocktail tables, and table settings by L. Garth Huxtable. Building owner and noted art collector Aby Rosen of RFR Holdings recently filed plans to make changes to the restaurant, reportedly without consulting owners Julian Niccolini and Alex von Bidder. While the LPC approved the proposed new carpeting without qualm, they balked at a removal of the cracked-glass and bronze partitions separating the dining area and bar. Originally installed by legendary architect Philip Johnson, who designed the space with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1959, the partitions would be replaced by movable ivy planters to open up the space. Selldorf Architects is also considering nixing the large walnut panels separating the square-shaped 60-foot-by-60-foot Pool Room from the dining room on the mezzanine. These will be replaced with five panels, the outer two of which would be operable for reconfiguration of the space. According to Rosen, this would improve the flow between the mezzanine and the Pool Room without the upper tier framing the space. “This landmark is elevated to a level where any kind of intervention would not be living with preservation,” objected LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan. Conservationists bristled last year when Rosen entertained an eviction of the Le Tricorne Picasso tapestry hanging inside the restaurant in order to facilitate reparations to the wall behind it, where a “potentially serious steam leak” from the two-story kitchen had purportedly crippled the structure. The preservation commission retorted that removal of the tapestry would cause it to “crack like a potato chip.” A New York State judge issued an injunction prohibiting Seagram from removing the painting, but Rosen, a real estate developer and avid collector of post-war art, is in conservationists’ crossfire again for daring to alter a landmark. “These are features that are integral to the sense of space. Not just decorative but have architectural meaning and value,” said Commissioner Diana Chapin. Edgar Bronfman Jr., whose family owned Seagram, claimed that RFR’s proposal displays “utter contempt” for the icon. RFR representative Sheldon Werdiger maintains that the changes are restorative rather than invasive. “We’re not making changes as much as we’re restoring. Our local press is trying to make it into a controversial situation,” he told Arch Record.
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Major Rejection for Gehry’s Eisenhower Memorial Threatens Project’s Future

The road to fruition for the Frank Gehry–designed Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial has been full of twists and turns. And now, it seems, the Los Angeles architect’s plans may have reached a dead end. Last week, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) voted seven to three to reject the preliminary site and building plans for the memorial. The vote followed five hours of testimony from the proposal’s supporters and detractors, including House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA). Issa spoke against one of the design’s most (but not only) controversial features: the massive stainless-steel “tapestries” meant to depict scenes from Eisenhower’s life. Gehry’s design, which centers around a colonnade supporting three 80-foot-high tapestries, has been the subject of fervent debate since its unveiling in early 2010. In late 2011, two of Eisenhower’s granddaughters expressed public dissatisfaction with the design. The following March, Congress held a hearing on the matter. Then, in March 2013, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) proposed a bill to shut down the design. In the meantime, the most vocal of the Gehry proposal’s opponents, the National Civic Arts Society, launched a competition for a more traditional design. Last July, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts approved an updated design, but in January, Congress, unimpressed with Gehry Partners’ revisions thus far, cut off funding to the Eisenhower Memorial Committee. The NCPC executive director’s recommendations [PDF], which the commission adopted on Friday, cited concerns with “the proposed scale and configuration of the tapestries” and how they jeopardize several of the design principles outlined during the 2006 site approval process. These include protecting views to and from the Capitol building, preserving building and tree lines along Maryland Avenue, and working within the L’Enfant Plan’s broader vision for Washington, D.C.’s civic core. The report asked Gehry Partners to modify the memorial design to address specific issues of pedestrian circulation, perimeter security, lighting, and public space. On a positive note, the NCPC report announced that the stainless steel alloy proposed for the tapestry panels passed a series of durability tests. No one has said for certain that Gehry’s design is a goner. The NCPC report “[n]otes the Commission’s continued support for a modern and innovative approach to commemorate President Dwight D. Eisenhower, including the possible use of stainless steel tapestries, although not as currently proposed.” If nothing else, the price associated with scrapping the Gehry proposal—an estimated $17 million—has kept the process going this long. But the question remains: how many more stops and starts can one project take?
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Bronze on Your Hands: Diller Scofidio + Renfro Faces Folk Museum Backlash

Liz Diller faced down a hostile crowd at the recent “MoMA Expansion Conversation,” hosted by the Architectural League, the Municipal Art Society, and AIA New York. Apparently she’s had some practice. One elder statesman of the New York architecture community reports that Diller made a series of phone calls to prominent architects prior to the public release of MoMA’s plans asking for their advice and support. This gray eminence apparently told her the firm should resign from the commission. At which point Ric Scofidio apparently chimed in, saying, succinctly, “Never!” An editor from another publication reports rumors of dissent within Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Apparently some associates in the firm have asked not to work on the project, fearing a Scarlet Letter on their resumes.
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MVRDV Responds to Cloud Tower Imagery

It must have been a rough day at MVRDV's Rotterdam offices after their newly unveiled Cloud tower set to be built in Seoul, South Korea went viral in a bad way. MVRDV envisioned two towers shrouded in pixelated mist, but others saw the image of a plane hitting the World Trade Center in New York, half a world away. MVRDV released the following statement on their Facebook page along with an early conceptual drawing showing the inspiration for the tower, in a much more literal cloud:
A real media storm has started and we receive threatening emails and calls of angry people calling us Al Qaeda lovers or worse. MVRDV regrets deeply any connotations The Cloud projects evokes regarding 9/11, it was not our intention. The Cloud was designed based on parameters such as sunlight, outside spaces, living quality for inhabitants and the city. It is one of many projects in which MVRDV experiments with a raised city level to reinvent the often solitary typology of the skyscraper. It was not our intention to create an image resembling the attacks nor did we see the resemblance during the design process. We sincerely apologize to anyone whose feelings we have hurt, the design was not meant to provoke this.
Check out all of the renderings over here. What do you think? Is this too reminiscent of the Twin Towers? Do you see a cloud or an explosion frozen in time?