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."
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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."
Diller, Scofidio + Renfro announced today that their reorganization of the Museum of Modern Art will include the replacement of Tod Williams and Billie Tsien's former American Folk Art Museum at 45 West 53rd street. Liz Diller said in her briefing that DS+R hoped to save the Folk Art building and repurpose it into a usable exhibit space or a connecting bridge between the new Jean Nouvel tower (which will have three floors of MoMA galleries) and the older parts of MoMA. However, "saving" the structure with its misaligned floors (to MOMA existing galleries) would mean compromising the integrity of the Williams Tsien structure. One can imagine the logic of DS+R's decision, but Williams and Tsien are, like any architects, sad to see the demise of their 2001 building that Herbert Muschamp said "transcend(s) cultural categories even as it helps define them." Here is Williams and Tsien's statement:
In response to the American Folk Art Museum building decision by MoMA January 8, 2014 We have learned of MoMA’s final decision to raze the former American Folk Art Museum building and replace it with a new structure. This action represents a missed opportunity to find new life and purpose for a building that is meaningful to so many. The Folk Art building was designed to respond to the fabric of the neighborhood and create a building that felt both appropriate and yet also extraordinary. Demolishing this human‐scaled, uniquely crafted building is a loss to the city of New York in terms of respecting the size, diversity and texture of buildings in a midtown neighborhood that is at risk of becoming increasingly homogenized. This is a building that we and others teach from and about. It has served as an invaluable learning resource for students, colleagues and scholars, and a source of inspiration for many more. It has a powerful architectural legacy. The inability to experience the building firsthand and to appreciate its meaning from an historical perspective will be profoundly felt. As architects, we must be optimists. So we look to the future and we move on.
This week, Friends of the High Line revealed the design concept for the third and final section of the High Line with a tantalizing set of renderings from James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Beginning at the intersection of 10th Avenue and West 30th Street, the latest addition, known as the High Line at the Rail Yards, will wrap westward around Related Companies’ impending Hudson Yards mega-development before culminating on 34th Street between 11th and 12th Avenues. The highlight of Phase 3 is undoubtedly the large, tree-lined amphitheater that will float above the 10th Avenue and 30th Street. Dubbed the Spur, the lush, verdant bowl will offer an intimate, semi-enclosed seating area and public restrooms, while serving as a gateway to Hudson Yards and the High Line’s final stretch. The whole project, estimated to cost $76 million, is scheduled to open to the public in late 2014, though according to the Friends of the High Line, we may have to wait another year or two for the Spur. Located at the widest section of the elevated park, the Spur will provide an immersive woodland environment just a few blocks from the heart of Midtown. Encircled by wood-be forest of Snakebark maples, black tupelo trees, ferns, perennials and woodland grasses, the space will contain tiered seating amidst a lush, urban wilderness. Combing skyward views of Hudson Yard’s forthcoming skyscrapers with James Corner’s signature naturalism, the Spur will offer what is sure to be a truly unique park experience. Friends of the Highline have committed to raise $36 million, culled form private donations, for the final stage of the the park. Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group, as part of their Hudson Yards development, are on board to contribute $29.2 million to the project’s construction and continued maintenance, while the Bloomberg administration and City Council allocated $11 million in capital funding.
With the ongoing attacks on American interests in the past, the US Department of State's Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) has moved it’s government buildings from the heart of Beirut, to the calmer suburbs of the north of the Lebanese capital, specifically Awkar. OBO is currently evaluating a group of design teams to be commissioned for the design and construction of the new US embassy in Awkar, just 7 miles north of Beirut, and in close proximity to the existing embassy. Six firms participated in Stage 2 evaluations, and the list has now been shortened to three finalists. The three shortlisted teams are: Diller Scofidio + Renfro Mack Scogin Merrill Elam/AECOM Morphosis Architects The project site is approximately 43 acres, located on a steep hillside in a neighborhood of residential and light commercial uses. The new Embassy complex will include a chancery, representational housing, Marine residence, support offices and utility buildings, a parking structure, access pavilions, and a community center. OBO’s mission is to provide a safe, functional facility, while representing the best in American design and engineering.
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Wahington D.C., designed by SOM in 1974, is undeniably striking in its design—the distinctively cylinder shaped structure is unlike anything else in the city. In 2009 Richard Koshalek, director of the modern and contemporary art museum, in a bold effort to place the museum at the forefront of our nation’s cultural institutions, came up with a radical new plan that would make the building stand out even more among the countries’ leading museums and significantly augment the city's arts culture. Koshalek proposed his new vision for a 15-story inflatable balloon, designed by Diller Scofidio & Renfro, that would bubble out of the donut-shaped museum’s central courtyard twice a year. The project, dubbed the “Seasonal Inflatable Structure,” would serve as a unique space for installations and performances. The idea was never realized, and as of this June the project was abandoned. Richard Kurin, the Smithsonian's undersecretary for history, art, and culture, attributes the desertion of the project to financial challenges. The construction of the bubble relied solely on private funds, but donors prefer contributing money to a permanent structure rather than a temporary project, and after four years of fundraising, more than half of the necessary $15 million funds were lacking. The Smithsonian’s decision to terminate the project was not supported by all, however, and resulted in a sort of domino effect of negative outcomes. Immediately following the decision to terminate Koshalek resigned as director and Constance R. Caplan stepped down as board chairwoman, but not before delivering a harsh critique of the museum and the Smithsonian Institute’s power over the board. As reported by the New York Times, Ms. Caplan said, “When you ask people to raise money you have to give them more of a say in what happens at the institution.” Since members must donate $50,000 upon joining the board and are also expected to actively raise funds, she holds that they should have more power when making decisions about the museum. Mr. Koshalek advocates that the future success of the museum relies on the use of novel technologies and creative programming, but others, such as 13-year board veteran and former chairman J. Tomilson Hill feel strongly that projects like the bubble will take away from the museum’s impressive collections and exhibitions, which should remain the institution's focus. The Hirshhorn is home to modern and contemporary works by renowned leaders of 20th century art and sculpture including including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Jackson Pollock, Ellsworht Kelly, Edward Hopper, to name only a few. On June 29th Koshalek officially stepped down as director, but it seems like his forward thinking may prevail after all. Kerry Brougher, chief curator, has temporarily taken Mr. Koshalek’s place. At the moment Brougher’s primary concerns are the collections and exhibitions, but he shares Mr. Koshalek’s opinion that digital technologies, public programming, and thematic exhibitions will be instrumental to The Hirshhorn's future.
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) has shortlisted six firms to design the new U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. The new Embassy will be located in Awkar, about 7 miles north of the city center, in the vicinity of the existing Embassy. The new compound will consist of a chancery, support offices, a parking structure, Marine residence, Representational and staff housing, and a community center. Thirty-nine firms replied to the public announcement regarding the task of designing the center. The shortlisted firms are: · Diller Scofidio + Renfro · Mack Scogin Merrill Elam/AECOM · Morphosis Architects · Rafael Viñoly Architects · Steven Holl Architects · Yazdani Studio According to the OBO, the six selected submissions display an exceptional array of high-design projects, characterized by novel site and landscape plans, and a strong understanding of sustainability practices. The firms on the preliminary shortlist will bring together their technical teams to present comprehensive information on their companies and their credentials for the second evaluation stage. OBO’s Excellence in Diplomatic Facilities initiative sought out the project, which encompasses a holistic project development plan that aims to construct facilities that are exceptional in all aspects. OBO’s objective is to supply secure, practical facilities that signify American values and the best in American architecture, engineering, technology, and sustainability.
In May, Ronald O. Perelman, Chairman and CEO of MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings and a member of the School’s Board of Overseers, pledged a milestone donation of $100 million to Columbia Business School, which could help jumpstart the construction of two new facilities to be built on Columbia’s Manhattanville campus. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the structures will incorporate zig-zag cutaway facades akin to the design seen in Columbia’s Washington Heights medial center plans, also by the firm. The business school buildings will provide a total of 450,000 square feet of space, some of which will be allotted to the increasingly popular collaborative gathering spaces that university campuses have come to know well. The new buildings are designed to accommodate the fast-paced, technologically advanced, and vastly communal character of 21st-century business and business education with multifunctional areas meant to cultivate a sense of community for students, faculty, and alumni. Columbia Business School Dean Glenn Hubbard has disclosed that the donation will permit the School to reach a new chapter in its extension into Manhattanville, located immediately north of the University’s current Morningside Campus. The planned Manhattanville campus is a $6.3 billion project with projected completion set for sometime within the next couple decades. Perelman’s donation marks the $455 million mark of a $600 million funding goal. In appreciation of Perelman’s generosity, one of the two future buildings expected to open within the next decade will be named the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Business Innovation. Columbia will name the other of the two new facilities The Henry R. Kravis Building in honor of Henry Kravis’s 2010 gift.
When Madison Square Garden’s 50-year special permit expired last year, it launched a fiery debate over the future of the arena atop Penn Station. Critics, urban planners, and government officials have called for a 10-year term limit to encourage the relocation of MSG allowing for an overhaul of the crowded station. Today the Municipal Art Society of New York unveiled four different visions for a re-imagined Penn Station and MSG from firms Diller Scofidio + Renfro, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, SHoP Architects, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). Each firm offered up its own rendition—some focused more on expanding infrastructure, while others honed in on opportunities for cultural and educational programming and new amenities within the station. But all the firms decided to relocate the arena, make room for green space, and create a new light-filled and spacious train terminal. And on the more far-reaching side, they envisioned and described this new station as a civic hub that will anchor and reinvigorate the surrounding neighborhood and serve as a “gateway” (a buzz word liberally used at the unveiling) for the city. The presentations were a fantastical exercise in design if all variables—funding, political might, and private interests—miraculously came together. H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture was the first to take the stage. The firm recommends re-locating Madison Square Garden to a 16-acre site on the waterfront by the Javits Center, which would then pave the way for a new Penn Station to be built with an eight-track high-speed rail, a three-acre park, retail space, and a roof garden. The Farley Post Office would then be transformed into a Center for Education and the four corners of the station would be privately developed “hybrid buildings.” SOM has concentrated on providing a robust infrastructure with a network of high-speed rail lines for the North East Corridor, better commuter rail service, and rail lines linking to the major airports in the area. The station will have a ticketing hall in center of building and then two concourses below with retail spaces. The firm would move Madison Square Garden to an adjacent location and imagines private development will crop up around the station. Charles Renfro of Diller Scofidio + Renfro described their “Penn Station 3.0” as a “grand civic space founded on growth and innovation.” The transit node would become “both a front door and living room” that would be “alive 24/7” and organized by “fast, transit-oriented programs” and “slower” activities including retail, cultural space, and restaurants. MSG would then be moved to the west end of the Farley building. “In closing, we basically would put a wrecking ball to the site,” said Elizabeth Diller. SHoP Architecture’s Vishaan Chakrabarti started off talking about safety as a critical challenge to the current Penn Station aggravated by a “lack of air” and “disorientation” caused by MSG. The firm envisions an open, light-filled station that would be at the heart of a new district they’ve dubbed “Gotham Gateway.” They would relocate MSG to the Morgan site and create “a link from east to west and north to south” connecting the station, a new park, and the arena. While the other presenters focused on design, SHoP dipped its toe in public policy side of the equation. The firm is calling for the creation of a “Gateway Task Force” consisting of the Vice President, US Transportation Secretary, the governor, and the mayor, which would serve to facilitate a relocation of MSG, spearhead the Gateway Project (including funds for new tunnel, track and station), and provide necessary amenities.