When New York Magazine art critic Jerry Saltz isn’t posting vintage (and I mean vintage, like Medieval) erotica on Instagram, he is busy making fun of architects and the bad museums that they design. One of his main punching bags is Diller Scofidio + Renfro, which is slated to design both the Culture Shed and MoMA’s new controversial expansion. He recently mocked them for their slippery language and vague proposals, capping it off with an anecdote about “interpretable transparencies.” Saltz claimed that he was in a three-hour meeting with them, and he had to stop them to ask if “interpretable transparencies” meant windows. He said, “They looked at me blankly and said, ‘Yes.’”
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When MoMA debuted its Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R)–led expansion and renovation plans in 2014, the reaction from the public was overwhelmingly negative. Those plans called for demolishing the Tod Williams and Billie Tsien–designed American Folk Art Museum and creating a glass curtain wall that would open MoMA's entire first floor to the public, for free. It's not the free part critics took issue with: It was the perceived chaos of the museum-goer experience and wholesale destruction of the folk art museum. MoMA took note, and pulled plans back. This week, revised plans were revealed. DS+R is still the architect (with Gensler), and the original objective—to create unfettered movement between galleries—remains. But a lot has also changed. Plans call for connecting galleries in Jean Nouvel’s planned residential tower at West 53rd Street, the new DS+R addition, galleries in the site of the former American Folk Art Museum, and the current MoMA building to broaden public access and accommodate skyrocketing attendance. Renovations and new construction will add 50,000 square feet of exhibition space, and expand the lobbies. When construction is complete, MoMA will be 744,000 square feet, or 17 percent, larger than it is today. The fluidity of the program, museum officials and observers contend, signal MoMA’s move away from traditional departmental categories towards more interdisciplinary collaboration. Martino Stierli, the museum’s chief curator of architecture and design, told the New York Times that MoMA is “really using this moment of renovation to explore other ways to see our collection—looking at how media can interact. We want to make use of this time to try new things.” Given the museum's increasing popularity, more people will see these new concepts in practice. Since 2004, the year that Yoshio Taniguchi's $858 million addition opened to the public, the collection has grown by 40 percent, the number of yearly exhibitions has increased from 15 to 35, membership has reached 150,000, and attendance has doubled to three million annual visitors. The project is being split into three phases so the museum will not have to close completely. DS+R’s structure will be the last of the three: The first phase will be changes to the Lauder Building, where audiences now enter for film screenings, followed by renovations to the Taniguchi building. The Lauder building's east lobby will be expanded to improve crowd flow to the main lobby, and the gift shop and bookstore will be moved below ground to facilitate the expansion. Broadening public access will be achieved by different means than those put forth in the plan's first iteration. A new public entrance to the 54th Street sculpture garden was nixed due to security concerns. The “Art Bay," a retractable glass door would have allowed museumgoers to enter ground-floor galleries straight from the street, has also disappeared from plans. Instead, the first floor will have a free gallery with two exhibition spaces (one double height, for MoMA's Project Series) that's open to the public, but accessed through the museum lobby. A new canopy and a double height ceiling at the 53rd Street entrance will give extra visibility to the museum's main entrance. The double height ceiling will displace the media gallery, whose contents could be moved to a fourth floor gallery for media and performance. To accommodate larger pieces, or pieces of the future whose spatial requirements cannot yet be determined, none of the new galleries will have permanent walls, and collections galleries will be almost column-free. The four third-floor galleries (including galleries for architecture, photography, drawings, and special exhibition) will be merged into two galleries of 10,000 and 5,000 square feet. Glass, steel, and stone will be traded for a warmer palette to unify the changes. Construction on the $390 to $400 million project will begin next month. Although completion is contingent on the project timeline of the Nouvel building, all construction is expected to be complete by 2019 or 2020.
The Barack Obama Foundation has announced the seven offices from which it is requesting proposals for the design of the Obama Presidential Library in Chicago. The seven firms include four New York–based offices, one London-based office, one based in Genova, Italy, and one local Chicago office. The offices named are:
- Adjaye Associates of London, headed by David Adjaye
- Diller Scofidio + Renfro
- SHoP Architects
- Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects
- Renzo Piano Building Workshop
- John Ronan Architects
Otium, the restaurant tucked in The Broad’s Barouni olive-treed, 24,000-square-foot public plaza, quietly opened last week in Downtown Los Angeles. The sum of chef Otium Timothy Hollingsworth and restaurateur Bill Chait, a lot is riding on the eatery to enliven Grand Avenue and the Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Walter Hood pocket park. Designed by Studio UNTLD and House of Honey with building architect Osvaldo Maiozzi, Otium is a boxy, steel-and-wood-clad structure that owes more architecturally to midcentury mods like Craig Ellwood or Ray Kappe than to DS+R’s museum. The traditional California burring inside and outside drive the glazed walls and expansive patio seating. Farm-to-table ethos clearly is behind vertical gardens from Green City Farms on the restaurant’s rooftop that are ready to provide the chef with herbs, vegetables and edible flowers. Inside the box is a large dining room and open kitchen. Windows look west over Hope Street, a view rarely emphasized up on Bunker Hill. According to the press release, the designers were tasked to compliment Hollingsworth with “sophisticated rusticity,” a phrase that looks good on paper, but jams in the mouth creating a lisp-like noise that is neither. A bounty of natural materials are plentiful: steel, glass, wood, copper, stone, nubby textiles, and ceramics. Or, as the PR explains: “The design is an artful mix of old and new, honest, and refined, that echoes the menu’s offerings.” To link the restaurant to the museum, there’s an exterior mural in the works by artist Damien Hirst. Installed on the south facade and entitled Isolated Elements, 2015, it is an approximately 32-foot high by 84-foot long large-scale photograph based on his 1991 sculpture Isolated Elements Swimming in the Same Direction for the Purpose of Understanding, aka the shark in a tank of formaldehyde. It’s unclear if carnivorous seafood is on the menu.
We live in a listicle age. Why write an article when you can clump a few names together and call it a trend? So when Los Angeles Magazine listed six women who have changed the face of Los Angeles architecture, which included one dead AIA Gold Medalist and two New Yorkers, it was bound to create outcry. Brava to the three local gals who made the cut, but let’s celebrate all the women of the L.A. architecture and design scene. When local schools put one lady on the lecture series and pat themselves on the back, we know more needs to be done for gender equity.
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum 2 East 91st Street, Manhattan Babb, Cook & Willard (1902) Gluckman Mayner Architects with Beyer Blinder Belle (2014) Part a historic house tour and part a lesson on material culture and curatorial practices, today’s Archtober lunchtime session packed a ton of information into 60 minutes. Brooke Hodge, deputy director of the Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum, showed us around one of the finest mansions of Manhattan. Designed by Babb, Cook & Willard in 1902, the Carnegie Mansion’s most recent renovations were completed just last year. Executive architect Beyer Blinder Belle developed the master plan, while Gluckman Tang Architects (formerly Gluckman Mayner Architects, the firm responsible for the Staten Island Museum at Snug Harbor that we’ll be touring on Thursday) oversaw the historic preservation aspects of the project. Diller Scofidio + Renfro worked closely with the museum’s curators to develop the display cases and exhibition design. The firm also oversaw the plan of the garden, which, once complete, will open at 8:00a.m. to welcome visitors onto the property even beyond hours of admission. Our dear friends at Pentagram worked on the graphic identity together with the typographer Chester Jenkins, who developed an open-source typeface called the Cooper Hewitt. This initiative was yet another way to make the museum more inviting to the public, and to encourage people to feel connected with design. The renovation added 7,000 square feet of exhibition space to the mansion without expanding the building’s envelope. Offices and the library were relocated to adjacent townhouses, and part of the collection was moved to offsite storage. Other smaller pockets of space were carved out: a former powder room is called the “Teaspoon Gallery,” a play on its location next to the Spoon Gallery, which was named after a donor family. Visitors are encouraged to grab a Pen (note the capital “P” since we still never take ink into exhibitions) at the admissions desk and keep track of their favorite objects. These electronic styluses turn visitors into collectors, and encourage creative moments of exploration. One gallery features a projection screen that covers two walls, reproducing visitor-drawn forms as wallpaper. The digital transformation of these designs into large-scale patterns help visitors connect with the objects on display. Fragments of wallpaper that might otherwise be interpreted as whole objects unto themselves can now be understood as part of repeating patterns that set the tones of entire rooms. Julia Cohen is the Archtober Coordinator at the Center for Architecture.
The veil functions both as the primary facade and the daylighting system, providing a sense of connection between the gallery spaces and the city.The Broad Museum will open its doors to the public on Sunday, 5 years after after Diller Scofidio + Renfro won a small invite-only design competition to design a space for Eli Broad’s immense contemporary art collection. All of the public spaces in the museum are created between the building's two enclosure systems, coined the “vault and veil” by DS+R. The veil, a daylight-absorbing concrete exoskeleton balances performance with fashion, while an interior vault protects a nearly 2,000 piece art collection. Visitors move over, under and through the vault, which consumes almost half of the 120,000 sq. ft., 3-story building. The exterior facade assembly consists of a steel frame clad with 2,500 glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) panels which were precast on custom CNC formed molds. Evidence of the GFRC's digital fabrication process can be prominently seen on the main elevation where a large dimple provides a smooth undulation in the facade. Kevin Rice, Project Director for DS+R, explains this formal move was a deliberate reaction against the repetitiveness of the elevation: “We were studying the capabilities of digital fabrication and wanted to move the design of concrete facades beyond the brutalist facades of the 60s and 70s.” To construct the interior portion of the facade panels, seen below, the project team worked with Kreysler & Associates to develop a lightweight alternative to the exterior cladding. Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) panels were fabricated with a finish to match the adjacent GFRC panels. Galleries on the third floor sit under 328 skylights supported from a 200’ long span structure composed of 6’ deep plate girders. The skylight monitors are designed to encapsulate the structure of the roof, the lighting system (a combination of daylight and LED), the waterproofing and drainage system, and the fire & life safety systems. All of these functions have been coordinated by DS+R to fit seamlessly within the language of the vault. Rice speaks of the benefits to this rigorously designed roof system: “The skylights are designed to maximize the reflected light from the north sky while eliminating all direct sunlight from entering the space. This allows for the tight conservation controls for the art while eliminating the need for electric light for much of the day.” The building’s siting across the street from Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall notably had an influence on the aesthetics of the facade. Elizabeth Diller said she wanted the building to be strikingly different from Gehry's building: "We realized it was just useless to try to compete – there is no comparison to that building," Diller said. "We just had to do something that is mindful and that knows where it is […] Compared to Disney Hall's smooth and shiny exterior, which reflects light, The Broad is porous and absorptive, channeling light into the public spaces and galleries." What results is a wall system which functions both as the primary facade and the daylighting system, providing a sense of connection between the gallery spaces and the city.
When The Broad opens to the public on September 20, Angelenos will finally get to see how Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s design compliments philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad’s powerhouse collection of 2,000 pieces of contemporary art in their eponymous museum. Works by Ed Ruscha and Cindy Sherman will hang in the 35,000-square-foot, column-free gallery space lit by some 300 skylights. Expectations are high for the $140 million dollar building, but from what we’ve seen and heard, the architecture is refined and detail-oriented. Or, as DS+R architect Kevin Rice said of Eli Broad, “I’ve never worked with another billionaire so interested in bathroom fixtures.” While the opening of a new building is always a thrill, AN has been tracking this feat of design, engineering, and curatorial might almost since its inception and we thought we’d share some of the highlights along the way. Q+A> KEVIN RICE Architectural journalist Sam Lubell spoke with DS+R's Kevin Rice and got a behind-the-scenes preview of the museum. He asked Rice about design goals for the adjacent public space. “The last thing we wanted was another dead corporate plaza that gets filled at lunchtime and has tumbleweeds flying around the rest of the time,” said Rice. “We wanted something that people would want to come back to throughout the day.” Q+A> BROAD ART FOUNDATION DIRECTOR TALKS ARCHITECTURE, OPENING DATE FOR DS+R’S LOS ANGELES MUSEUM Late last year, AN talked with Broad Art Foundation Director Joanne Heyler to learn how the arts community was reacting to the new architecture. “The building is very sculptural because the Vault form [which contains the museum’s collection] creates the heart of the building,” said Heyler. “I’ve taken artists to see the collection inside and gotten an incredibly enthusiastic response.” COMMENT: ARCHITECTURE IS NOT ENOUGH AT GRAND AVENUE “No amount of architecture will transform Bunker Hill,” said architecture critic and curator Greg Goldin in his comment that drew attention to the lackluster urban condition along Grand Avenue. While Eli Broad has an ambition to make the street into a boulevard, Goldin questions redevelopment efforts going back decades that have wiped out topography and displaced population. “Broad’s obsession with having architects strut their stuff has obscured the need for a considered response to the city itself—with varied program and a welcoming streetscape—not one street-top civic center,” he wrote. HERE’S REM KOOLHAAS’ “FLOATING” RUNNER-UP PROPOSAL FOR LOS ANGELES’ BROAD MUSEUM Lastly, why not show OMA’s similar, but not winning proposal? Rem Koolhaas’s firm proposed a “floating” box covered in a lacy-patterned metal screen and cantilevered via steel brace frames above Grand Avenue.
The long awaited opening of The Broad designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, in collaboration with Gensler, is scheduled for September 20 in Downtown Los Angeles. In anticipation of the big day, the museum released details about the inaugural installation that will fill the 35,000 square feet of column-free gallery space on the third floor. https://youtu.be/glR3YgJa7_4 [Video: Another of Yayoi Kusama's installations in the Infinity Mirrored Room series.] Curated by founding director Joanne Heyler, the rather chronological show will feature artworks by the heavy-hitters of the twentieth century drawn from the postwar and contemporary art collection assembled by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad: Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, John Baldessari, Mark Bradford, Jeff Koons, Barbara Kruger and Kara Walker. For fans of immersive experiences, the first floor will feature one of the Broad’s newest acquisitions, Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away. The mesmerizing, cosmic chamber filled with an uncountable number of LED lights drew crowds around the block when it was exhibited David Zwirner Gallery in late 2013. Other recent works comment on the issues and crises facing contemporary culture and the built environment. Takashi Murakami’s 82-foot-long painting—a reflection on Japan’s recovery from the catastrophic 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Robert Longo’s 2014 charcoal drawing Untitled (Ferguson Police, August 13, 2014), depicts police protests in Ferguson, while Cairo (2013) by Julie Mehretu captures the atmosphere and social unrest the Arab Spring in a large-scale, architectural, ink-and-acrylic drawing.
Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is apparently getting a little too big for its Diller Scofidio + Renfro–designed home along the Boston Harbor. In May, the Boston Globe reported that nine years after moving into the DSR building, the ICA is considering taking over two floors of a 17-story office tower rising across the street for gallery space. The new glass tower is designed by Brennan Beer Gorman and part of a larger mixed-use development taking shape on Fan Pier. The ICA's new space would be connected to the existing building through a skybridge and allow the ICA to increase its gallery space by 19,000 square feet. The institute's director Jill Medvedow thinks the project would cost between $10–12 million. The existing museum, and its new space, would also fit within Boston's growing Innovation District, a 1,000-acre community with tech startups, art galleries, restaurants, and the like. "Building a beautiful new museum on Boston's waterfront was a catalytic moment, and over the past nine years we have welcomed over 2 million people to our museum," the ICA SAID in a statement. "In pursuing this vision, we strive to build on this success and provide our growing audiences with more, broader, and deeper experiences with the art and artists or our time." A representative from the ICA recently told AN the plan hasn't changed since the May Globe story, but we'll let you know as soon we get any more details.
After a three year absence, the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum is set to reopen on December 12. The nation's design museum has been active in the interim, staging off site exhibitions, hosting workshops and classes, and bestowing honors to the nation's best designers, but its full return to New York's cultural landscape is much anticipated. A large group of top tier designers has contributed to the museum's renovation, expansion, and rethinking of how it displays the objects and processes of design, including Gluckman Mayner Architects, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Pentagram, Beyer Blinder Belle, Local Projects, and Thinc Design. The museum reorganized staff areas and moved offices into adjacent townhouses to create new galleries in the landmark Carnegie mansion's third floor, among many other alterations. Here is a sneak peak of some of the reinstalled galleries. Welcome back, Cooper-Hewitt!
Under Construction> Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Columbia University Medical and Graduate Education Building
When an under-construction project is just a skeleton of its future self, its nearly impossible to gauge the impact of the finished product. Sure, you’ve got renderings, but as AN has covered before, those are usually chock full of visual embellishments like dramatic sunsets, hot air balloons, and so. many. kayaks. So while it's probably best to reserve judgment on Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Columbia University Medical and Graduate Education Building until it opens in 2016, let’s just call a spade a spade right now: this thing is going to be a very dramatic, very zigzag-y addition to Washington Heights. Prolific construction-watcher and photographer, Field Condition, recently visited the 14-story tower which is currently a concrete structure unlike any other. Behind orange construction nets are dramatic, angular cuts that will form the building's “Study Cascade,” a staircase that runs the height of the building and carves out social spaces for students and professors. With the building topped out, the structure's glass curtain wall is starting to be installed. "The panels consist of a single pane of full floor-height glass, much like those used on the recent World Trade Center and Hudson Yards towers,” wrote Field Condition. “Vertical stripes of white frit have been applied in a gradient pattern to create zones of differing amounts of opacity.” Exciting stuff. Gensler is serving as the executive architect for this project.