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.
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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.
After speculation, delay, and even a blockbuster lawsuit, the $140 million Broad Museum finally announced last week that it will be opening its doors in Fall 2015, about a year behind schedule. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the Downtown Los Angeles museum will contain more than 2,000 works of contemporary art—part of the Broad Art Foundation's growing collection—and admission will be free to the public. AN West Editor Sam Lubell talked with Broad Art Foundation Director Joanne Heyler to get the latest on the project. And to get you keyed up for the eventual opening, here are some of the latest construction images. It's getting close! Sam Lubell: So what's left to do at The Broad? Joanne Heyler: Everything that’s happening in the building is even better than I anticipated from the renderings and plans. The cylindrical glass elevator leading from the lobby to the third floor galleries is in and can operate, and its floor is lit up. To go from the first floor up to the top is really spine-tingling. The relief portions of the Veil (aka the lattice-like facade), wrapping around the Hope street side of the museum, are in and successful. The porous parts of the Veil, where scaffolding is still wrapped around, are going to become the image for the public. They're still covered, but the scaffolding is coming down from the insides of the Veil. So on the third floor you can now stand in that expansive space and look towards Grand Avenue. Through the glass panels that are at the perimeter of that space you can see the inside surface of the veil exposed and that’s very exciting. The building is very sculptural because of the Vault form (the Vault will contain the museum's collection) creates the heart of the building, and that sculptural form is in place. Because of that it’s getting very close to complete and it’s very exciting. I’ve taken artists in the collection inside and gotten and incredibly enthusiastic response. The (24,000 square foot) plaza is very very close to being partially opened. It’s meant to open in November. The oculus or dimple or fold that’s in the Grand Avenue portion of the Veil is coming together and there's quite a view from inside. Really we’re making enormous strides. Because the building is so sculptural and dramatic it’s a more exciting hardhat tour than the usual. What were the project's biggest holdups? The fabrication and installation of the Veil took far longer than was anticipated. However we’re at a stage now where we feel confident enough to at least name the season in which we’ll open, so we’re feeling pretty good about the progress that's being made. We had a difficult time. But we’re on track now. Has the lawsuit with Seele (the facade engineer) been settled? It’s not settled, but I can’t comment on the lawsuit. Is there now a new engineer working on the Veil? No there’s no new engineer. Seele was taking care of that, and still is. Besides the Veil losing its structural capabilities, have there been any major changes since the project started? This building really has and is going to be completed very much the way that architects intended. I’ve seen other buildings go through many more twists and turns than this one has. Since the Veil issue there haven’t been any other major changes. Early on the elevator was added, but that was decided on a very long time ago. The other decision taken was to to expand the first floor public gallery space, but that decision was made early on as well. Do you believe the museum, and its plaza, will finally help enliven Grand Avenue? I think that it will. Our plaza offers a rare green space for the area. The olive trees that have gone in are 100-year-old trees curated one-by-one by the design team, and I am very proud of how atmospheric the plaza is as a result. It's even better than I expected. I think it will be a very welcoming place for people. When the restaurant goes in there will be much more activity. I think we will play a big role in enlivening this stretch of Grand Avenue. It's not yet full of day-to-day pedestrian activity, but I think those days are numbered. Given what’s happening at Grand Park (For instance Jay Z's Made in America fest drew 35,000 people there) and as it becomes more residential that’s bound to become a factor in every part of downtown. We and the other institutions and Grand Park are increasing the number of reasons to come to Grand Avenue, not just for performances, but to linger and to get a meal. When the Grand Avenue Project moves ahead that will change it even more. The museum will be free of charge? The museum is fully funded by the Broad Foundation. Eli has always talked about having a populist approach to art museums and to making it possible for people to connect to contemporary art. When we looked at what made sense to us we felt free admission was the way to go so people could take in the collection in one visit or in several. To have that kind of relationship with the museum. That’s what we hope to foster. We’ll also have a robust scope of engagement programming such as artist talks and film screenings. We’ve already had audiences of up to 2,000 for those. That kind of response is very exciting and we hope a signal of things to come. What's the biggest challenge moving ahead? I don’t really anticipate any more major architectural challenges. We’re too far down the road. Operationally we’re interested in putting together programming and visitor amentities that make as much use of digital technology as possible. We’re looking to see what form that will take in the museum. There will be more information. The emphasis will be on the building and on the exhibitions. How will you be programming the museum? The inaugural exhibition is very much in place. But the rest is very hard to pin down because we continue to add works week by week. Will the Broad Foundation maintain a presence in Santa Monica, its current home? The building’s always been intended as the headquarters and home of the Broad Art foundation. That means we’ll be leaving Santa Monica. We’re all thrilled to be located downtown. When we launched this project downtown was buzzing, but it wasn’t what it is today. The whole array of residential units and restaurants and retail starting to percolate in interesting ways downtown—it’s just an incredibly dynamic time to be there. Does Eli have other architectural plans in the works? We’re pretty pre-occupied with this building. But you never know with Eli.
In a move that has angered critics and scholars, the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) voted at its meeting on September 8 to remove the artwork, Facsimile, from the facade of the Moscone Center West. The move seals the fate of a project that began in 1996, when architects Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio defeated a pool of 62 applicants including Jenny Holzer, Anish Kapoor, and Nam June Paik for the site-specific project on the surface of the convention center in downtown San Francisco. Conceived at a moment before the now-ubiquitous experience of cyberspace, Facsimile combined images of the surrounding city, live transmissions from inside the building, and hundreds of hours of footage filmed by the architects. Displayed on a screen that would travel from one end of the building to the other, the images fused elements of cinema, television, and video art into a unique work of architecture that, eighteen years after its initial conception, remains wittier and more ambitious than today's typically banal media facades. Every element of Facsimile involved custom fabrication and technical ingenuity. Despite occasional instances of bad luck—most notably an accident in 2003—Diller, Scofidio, and project leader Matthew Johnson donated hundreds of hours of their time to the city and remained optimistic that the project would become fully operational this year after the installation of a new video card. A bracing defence of free artistic and architectural expression, Facsimile precipitated a legal ruling that explicitly denied the use of its screen to advertisers. Despite a request by the architects for a one-month delay of any action by the SFAC and an offer to donate $10,000 to finish the project and raise an endowment to cover the costs of its maintenance, Tom DeCaigny, Director of Cultural Affairs cited concerns about the project's long-term sustainability. The Commissioners voted 9-1 in favor of removing it from Moscone West's facade. Their decision comes at a moment when Diller Scofidio + Renfro is designing the expansion of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Pacific Film/University Art Museum for UC Berkeley, and the Department of Art at Stanford University. It raises the troubling possibility that short-sightedness and provincialism may have trumped the commitment to supporting visionaries and cultural innovation on which San Francisco long has prided itself.
In a recent interview, Diller Scofidio + Renfro Senior Associate Kevin Rice told AN that the "veil" at Los Angeles' Broad Museum—a facade made of hundreds of molded Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) panels, had been delayed by over a year. "Some of the things took longer to make than they thought, but there aren’t really problems with it," Rice said. But now it looks like the issues with the museum's facade are more severe than initially thought. The LA Times has reported that the Broad Collection and contractor Matt Construction are suing Seele, the engineer of that facade, seeking $19.8 million in damages relating to the delay. Other damages, according to the complaint (PDF), include breach of contract, fraud in the inducement, and fraud and deceit. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that Seele "violated the important 'aesthetic aspect' of the architect's design," and its mockups were "unsightly and wholly unacceptable for use on the project." As a result the firm was not able to meet its October, 2013 deadline to design, fabricate, and install the facade, setting the project's timeline way back. The Broad's lawsuit also names Zurich American Insurance Company and Fidelity and Deposit Company—backers of a bond guaranteeing Seele's work—as defendants. "Seele did not possess the necessary skill, experience, resources, commitment or ability to perform the work at The Broad museum," the complaint stated. Broad Foundation spokesperson Karen Denne told AN, "we're not commenting—the lawsuit speaks for itself." As of now the museum is still set to open in 2015, but the exact date remains up in the air.
With Eli Broad hyping his DSR-designed Broad Museum in Downtown Los Angeles, we thought it would be appropriate to share The Broad that never was: OMA's runner up proposal. As featured in this author's book, Never Built Los Angeles, Rem Koolhaas's firm proposed a "floating" box covered in a lacy-patterned metal screen and cantilevered via steel brace frames above Grand Avenue. Lifting the structure would have created much needed civic space in the area, offering a public zone under the museum and complementing two new plazas to the south and the west of the building. Escalators would have travelled diagonally up from street level to the ethereal upper gallery floors, which would have been lit by multiple skylights. There's a lot to like here, and still some questions about the lack of public commentary before the winning scheme was chosen. Check out many more renderings of the scheme below.
Diller Scofidio + Renfro's concrete-veiled Los Angeles art museum and its accompanying plaza, The Broad, named for the billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad who commissioned it, continue to rise in downtown. Meanwhile, across the street, Broad's longtime project, MOCA, struggles to find its footing. Addressing these two projects, Broad sat down with Los Angeles Magazine, giving an unusually candid interview about the state of the city, his own giving, and much more. Here are some of his most revealing quotes from a man who, this time, departed from his usual tactic of sticking to talking points. "Right now Los Angeles needs a lot of things. It needs better political leadership and better citizen and corporate leadership than it’s had." "I don’t mean to brag, but in Los Angeles I don’t see anyone who has stepped forward to do the number of things that I’ve done." "With regards to Disney Hall, Frank Gehry had a contract as a design architect. He wasn’t supposed to get involved in construction. When I got involved, I had some ideas that Frank didn’t like. But we’re great friends now." "We took a chance on Jeffrey Deitch [at MOCA]. He’s a populist. He did several great shows, like Art in the Streets. He created MOCAtv. But he didn’t have the stomach, frankly, to deal with trustees or raise money or do other things. He was not a manager." "We had a lot of old trustees on the board (at MOCA) who give nothing and create a lot of problems. Four or five of the old trustees didn’t give anything to this campaign for the endowment, but they have no problem talking to the press and complaining. "We (Broad and his wife Edye) want to finish all our work within ten years after our demise. We don’t believe in having a foundation that’s around 50 years from now that has no idea of what the founders wanted done." "Oh, yeah. We’re accelerating our investment."
Speaking of the architecture/celebrity complex, a source told Eavesdrop that Liz Diller is designing an Upper East Side apartment for entertainment mogul David Geffen. The once radical architect has gotten awfully cozy with the establishment. We guess all that time in Los Angeles designing The Broad is paying off.
The New York Times is reporting that MoMA has decided to disassemble the white bronze facade of the American Folk Art Museum building, designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. A controversial expansion plan, by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, calls for the demolition of the building to make way for a new "art bay" and circulation to new galleries in an adjacent tower designed by Jean Nouvel. MoMA director Glen Lowry told the Times, "We will take the facade down, piece by piece, and we will store it. We have made no decision about what happens subsequently, other than the fact that we’ll have it and it will be preserved." The move is a significant change by the Modern, which has been generally dismissive of the building's architectural significance. In an additional interview, Liz Diller objected to the idea that the bronze facade should be reattached to the expanded MoMA on 53rd street, calling that approach a “token gesture to a history.” She added: “We think of buildings synthetically. Facades and buildings and their organization, their logic, are tied entirely together.”
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.
Nearly 650 people crowded the auditorium at the Society for Ethical Culture on Manhattan's Upper West Side on Tuesday to debate MoMA's expansion plans, which include the demolition of the Tod Williams Billie Tsien–designed American Folk Art Museum (AFAM) building. Organized by the Architectural League of New York, the Municipal Art Society, and the AIA New York Chapter, the event was packed with prominent members of the design community. MoMA Director Glen Lowry and chief curator of painting and sculpture Ann Temkin spoke of the Museum's growing collection and their need to show art from the "immediate past," the 20th Century, alongside art from the present, and cited large recent acquisitions like the Fluxus and Frank Lloyd Write collections. Liz Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro gave an earnest presentation, repeating her firm's desire and lengthy investigations to save the Folk Art building, calling Williams and Tsien "admired colleagues." Rectifying the alignment of the floors of AFAM with MoMA and creating easy circulation between buildings proved impossible, she said, without destroying the "integrity" of the AFAM building. Cranbrook Academy director Reed Kroloff then led a panel discussion on the expansion plans. Former New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff dismissed the architectural merits of the AFAM building, calling it flawed, and comparing it to Edward Durrell Stone's Two Columbus Circle. Cathleen McGuigan, editor-in-chief of Architectural Record, called the building important and urged the Modern to move more slowly with their demolition plans. Columbia preservation professor Jorge Otero-Pailos said the problem called for a rethinking of what preservation means and about the particular qualities of the AFAM building (some of his work involves the senses, and he praised the "olfactory quality" of the AFAM building, while saying MoMA had "an airport smell"). Architectural consultant and writer Karen Stein questioned Diller's assertion that circulation should be a defining feature of the project, and argued that MoMA had an obligation to the discipline of architecture to save the Williams Tsien building or some piece of it. Architect Stephen Rustow, who worked for KPF on the Taniguchi MoMA expansion, praised Diller, Scofidio + Renfro for addressing MoMA's programmatic goals, but questioned if the institution had framed those goals too narrowly, thereby eliminating any possibility of saving the AFAM building. Simultaneous to the action in the auditorium, an equally lively debate was happening on social media, with competing twitter hashtags, #MoMAConvo (promoted by the Modern) and #folkmoma (initiated by activists trying to save the AFAM structure). Several people on twitter questioned if the event was a forum or a wake. Following the discussion, Lowry, Temkin, and Diller returned to the stage, and it became clear that the building's fate is set. "Our decision has been made," Lowry said. Responding to a question about the value of architecture versus art, Lowry underscored his point. "We don't collect buildings."