Posts tagged with "cultural center":

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Weiss/Manfredi to revitalize a Florida cultural hub after hurricane devastation

Last year, Hurricane Irma’s devastation wrapped around the state of Florida, causing irreparable damage to structures across every coastal community. The Baker Museum, part of one of Southwest Florida’s youngest yet most-revered cultural institutions, Artis—Naples, suffered so much water intrusion that it’s been closed temporarily since September 6, 2017. Today, Weiss/Manfredi unveiled a new master plan to revitalize the Naples campus, starting with the repair and expansion of the hard-hit Baker Museum. Through a $150 million campaign backed by the Artis—Naples board of directors, the New York–based firm aims to boost resiliency on the site while enhancing the natural beauty of its tropical location. The design will additionally help create a dialogue between the institution’s growing visual and performing arts programs, and bring a cohesive, inviting atmosphere to the 8.5-acre space. “Though Naples is largely considered an elite community,” said Michael Manfredi, co-founder and principal of Weiss/Manfredi, “this project targets not only folks that are sophisticated in the arts, but a whole host of people, especially younger kids, who don’t have the benefit of fantastic educations, and are in adjacent communities that aren’t economically privileged. They’re the ones who are hit hardest by any kind of devastation, whether it’s natural or manmade. There is a strong sense from Artis—Naples of wanting to be part of this larger community.” For the last 18 years, The Baker Museum has housed Artis—Naples’s diverse collection of art in a three-story, 30,000-square-foot facility. An opaque, fortress-like structure, the building featured a glass, dome-shaped conservatory protruding into the west side plaza until the hurricane damaged it beyond repair. To the design team, as well as leadership at Artis—Naples, the museum’s destruction was seen as an opportunity to jump-start plans for a reimagined campus, one that would revamp the formerly dark building by bringing light and life to it, while simultaneously opening up its programs to the public in a new way. “The hurricane forced us to think about what we could do quickly that would bring the museum back online and start to incorporate the institution’s performing arts programs,” said Weiss. “Additionally, the goal of the master plan and the goal of the future Artis—Naples is to communicate that art shouldn’t be experienced behind closed doors, or be shown to the people who can afford to come through those doors. We wanted the transformation to express a more open and welcoming place.” Part of conveying that message includes a 17,000-square-foot expansion of The Baker Museum to the south, complete with three flexible spaces for performing, rehearsing, and receptions. A box within the southern facade will be cut out to reveal event space on the second floor, while a glass wall on the lower level will allow passersby to see activity inside. Atop this end of the elongated structure will be an outdoor sculpture terrace. The stone cladding itself will be made much more resilient and a scalloped metal design will be constructed along the western exterior wall to act as a rain screen. Kathleen van Bergen, CEO and President of Artis—Naples, said Weiss/Manfredi’s original master plan for the site was unanimously chosen back in August 2017, a month before Hurricane Irma came to shore. Though The Baker Museum didn’t need desperate help at the time, the goal was always to bring all of the art programs at Artis—Naples under a singular and strong design.  “Artis—Naples is a pillar of this community,” van Bergen said. “It was once largely a fishing village and now it’s a cultural village. We’re quite different from other organizations that are 100 years old or more because we envelop all of our programmings under one overarching leadership, which gives us the opportunity to synthesize the arts in a way that hasn’t been done before.” Artis—Naples will turn 30 years old in 2019. With robust programs in film, dance, music, and visual art, visitors will be given a multidisciplinary experience when they step onto the new campus. The thousands of schoolchildren who visit each year, as well as the near-800 events that are held on site, half of which are free, speak to the institution’s commitment to providing a welcome environment for people of all backgrounds to be inspired by both nature and art, according to van Bergen. Construction on The Baker Museum is set to begin immediately and it's expected to open in November of next year. Phase one of the master plan will also include the build-out of a new garden and courtyard between The Baker Museum and Hayes Hall, the institution’s 1,477-seat performing arts venue and home of the Naples Philharmonic. A lush and spacious plaza will link the two buildings and encourage social engagement outside of the main structures. Future phases of construction will include Weiss/Manfredi’s plan for raising the site on its southern end by creating an elevated plinth where additional venues will be built out and connected to the Baker Museum and Hayes Hall.
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In new book, Victoria Newhouse details the saga of Renzo Piano’s Athens cultural center

The incredible challenges inherent in today’s mega-architectural undertakings triggered my interest in just how such projects are built. More than four years ago I began to track the design, construction, and completion of one of the most ambitious of these, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) in Athens. I could not have anticipated in those early days how the global economic crisis and subsequent political upheaval in Greece would affect the story of the $842 million building complex and 40-acre park. Even under these circumstances, the building was completed on time and on budget and is already inundated with visitors, both local and foreign; the new national opera house and national library will open officially this fall.

Almost as soon as I started to research the SNFCC, I was struck by the number of people, companies, and even cultures involved, the largest team I’ve ever seen on a cultural project. Project meetings were a veritable Tower of Babel, with Greek (construction workers) and Italian (the RPBW architects and one of the joint-venture contractors) foremost, and a good deal of English thrown in (many of the special consultants). Most of the time the group worked harmoniously. There were a few disagreements at the outset, but the site remained markedly congenial throughout the five years of construction.

A major reason for this coordination was the universal respect for Renzo Piano. The Italian architect was likened by one member of the Greek teams to “an orchestra conductor for his ability to work with all manner of collaborators.” His visits to the site were like the public appearance of a pop star, with admirers vying to get selfies with him. But there was also the fact that the SNFCC was the only important construction job in a city paralyzed by economic austerity. Seen as a symbol of hope for the nation’s recovery, it provided thousands of jobs in a nation wracked by unemployment. One of the Greek project managers expressed the general feeling on-site: “It’s a first, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Victoria Newhouse’s new book, Chaos and Culture: Renzo Piano Building Workshop and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens was published by the Monacelli Press in May 2017

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Renzo Piano wraps up construction of the Energy Canopy at Athens’ enormous Cultural Center

For years, Renzo Piano has been working to complete his design for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Greece. Not, the cultural group behind the project has announced that a key component of the Visitor’s Center, the energy canopy, is now complete. https://youtu.be/_LoJfZwZvb8 Suspended over the Greek National Opera, the canopy is composed of 30 columns and 717 individual precast pieces—weighing in at 4,700 tons overall. Although designed to appear light and airy, the canopy is 328-feet-square and 150-feet tall. Topped with photovoltaic cells, it will produce 2GWh of energy per year, fueling the opera house and the National Library of Greece. The Cultural Center includes the national library, opera house, canal, and 42-acre park south of Athens. The site was originally used for parking during the 2004 Olympics and once the project is completed, it will be turned over to the public. Total cost for the project is an estimated $831 million. Next steps include finishing the Lighthouse, the 9,700-square-foot glass room, and finalizing the flooring, facades, and ceilings. The rest of the SNFCC is expected to be complete in the first half of next year. SNFCC hopes that programming in the Visitor’s Center will engage the community and connect the public to artists in Greece and around the world. Already, it has hosted over 300 events and welcomed over 55,000 visitors. From now until Christmas, the center will be a Santa Workshop, and in February 2016 the center will relocate to a temporary building until construction is complete. To learn more about the cultural center, read our initial article on the project here.