Posts tagged with "Eero Saarinen":
“Our project is at the end of a seventy-year project,” said Gullivar Shepard, principal at Brooklyn-based Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), of his firm’s St. Louis CityArchRiver design. Back in 2010, MVVA’s team won a competition to rework the landscape around the St. Louis Gateway Arch—technically the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial—to make it more universally accessible, easier to maintain, and more integrated into its urban context. Expanding and popularizing the site’s little-known museum was also a key goal. While the client was technically a foundation, the firm would have to work closely with the site’s owner and preservation-minded steward, the National Park Service (NPS). The challenge was complex: The landscape was hardly a clear-cut expression of Eero Saarinen and Dan Kiley’s designs.
Kiley was on Saarinen’s original design team, whose 1947 proposal won the memorial competition. But the project languished until 1957, when funding became available. Saarinen and Kiley were internationally renowned by then, “so they went back to the drawing board, literally, and came up with a new design for the memorial,” said NPS Historian Robert Moore. “Basically, it evolved from a rectilinear-looking plan to a very curvilinear plan that echoed the curves of the arch itself.” Moore described how the curving paths and ponds were Saarinen’s ideas, while the allées and cypress circles came from Kiley.
The NPS subsequently stepped in and became involved in the design, thinning out Kiley’s dense vegetation. After the completion of a 1964 “final landscape plan” with Kiley (Saarinen had passed away in 1961), the NPS continued without him. Money to build the landscape only became available in earnest in the early 1970s, with much of the landscape elements in place by 1974, though final plantings were made in 1983. During this time, the NPS made small changes to Kiley’s ponds and the special stairs Saarinen had designed. “Again, [there were] many hands in the design,” said Moore.
The resulting shortcomings are numerous. Eighty percent of visitors, said Shepard, don’t even know there’s a museum underneath the arch. Many drive in from the highway, park on the on-site parking lot, take the tram to the top, and leave. The park is also cut-off from the city by highways, which didn’t exist in 1947.
In addition, the decision-making process was complicated by the fact that “this is not an actual historic landscape or actual historic building or fabric,” said Shepard. “It’s a monument to a historic concept, a moment of time.”
MVVA broke down the proposed interventions into 14 key decision points, each a constituent part of a larger landscape resuscitation.
Ultimately, key interventions included building new, fully accessible paths—embedded in the landscape—that snake down from the arch plateau to the river, replacing the allées’ infestation-prone ash trees with London plane trees, and bulldozing the parking lot to create a new seven-acre park that connects to Washington Avenue, a major urban corridor of St. Louis. The biggest (and perhaps most controversial) intervention was a new circular museum entrance embedded in a berm that leads up to the arch plateau. A new vegetated bridge, which leads directly to the new museum entrance, will replace caged highway overpasses.
While the stakes are high for the memorial, this project could have broader implications for other NPS sites. “This was the project that everyone in the Park Service has been very carefully watching,” stated Shepard. If the NPS, an organization “not built for change,” can successfully update a complex site like this, then perhaps similar projects could be possible in other cities.
Today elected officials, Port Authority higher-ups, and a whole cadre of former TWA pilots gathered in one of New York’s best buildings to break ground on the TWA Hotel, an extension of and homage to Eero Saarinen’s grand terminal at JFK.
The Beyer Blinder Belle–led (BBB) restoration of the existing TWA Flight Center and hotel extension is meant to bring back the ethos of Saarinen’s 1962 building, which has been closed to the public since 2001.
JFK is one of the country's busiest airports, and one of the only major international airports without an adjoining hotel. Today it accommodates 56 million travelers annually, but come 2050, 90 million passengers are projected to pass through its doors.
Like President-elect Donald Trump, Governor Andrew Cuomo fixated in his introductory remarks on the nation’s lackluster airports. Invoking halcyon days when big projects got done quickly, Cuomo lamented that New York is not keeping up with the Dubais and Shanghais of the world. Unlike thorn-in-his-side LaGuardia or the Second Avenue subway, the airport hotel is a bright spot: He praised MCR Development, the hospitality investment firm spearheading the project. “They have built a hotel for the future," Cuomo said. "They’re not building a museum, they’re building a business. They're banking on the future.”
Actually, there will be a museum. It's devoted to New York's role in the Jet Age, that hopeful time when people thought science and technology could resolve the profound contradictions of the human condition, and when women picked shoes to match their handbags. As befits the setting, there will also be exhibits devoted to midcentury modern design.
For travelers, the soon-to-be 500-room TWA Hotel will try to infuse some glamour into the New York airport hotel landscape, now thoroughly dominated by budget inns with gross carpeting. The new structure will sit behind the original terminal and flank its wings on either side: The landmarked flight terminal will be a lobby, and patrons will be able to access the structure via Saarinen's red passenger tubes that connect to Terminal 5. In that same vein, BBB's work will revive original interiors by Charles Eames, Raymond Loewy, and Warren Platner.
A 40,000-square-foot events space will accommodate up to 1,600 people, and attendees can access a 10,000-square-foot observation deck to see planes take off. If hungry, visitors can dine in eight restaurants and six bars, one situated prominently behind Saarinen’s terminal, or patronize a food-hall-cum-incubator that features Queens- and Brooklyn-based vendors. When it's complete in fall 2018, the building will have its own power plant, totally off the grid.
No need to worry about another Calatrava mall (uh, transit center): The $265 million project is being executed with the Port Authority and other agencies, but it is privately funded.