Posts tagged with "Eero Saarinen":

Long-awaited museum beneath St. Louis’s Gateway Arch opens to the public

The intensive revamp of the landscape and museum under the St. Louis Gateway Arch is finally complete and open to the public, capping an eight-year process just in time for the July 4 holiday. Lack of accessibility and awareness have historically been major issues in attracting visitors to the museum. The museum sits at the base of Eero Saarinen’s soaring gateway to the American west, which was originally envisioned as both a tribute to westward expansion and as a way to clear low-income waterfront property. Gullivar Shepard, Principal of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), which has been handling the redesign of the landscape beneath the arch since 2010, said: “Eighty percent of visitors don’t even know there’s a museum underneath the arch.” That’s changed radically since the CityArchRiver Foundation (now the Gateway Arch Park Foundation) kicked off a competition in 2010 to re-envision the campus while respecting Saarinen’s and the original landscape architect Dan Kiley's vision for the 91-acre park. The completed museum now takes center stage beneath the arch and acts as a link between the Old Courthouse and the recently covered Interstate 44 to the west, and the Mississippi River to the east. The Museum at the Gateway Arch uses its sunken, circular form to carve out wide views of the St. Louis skyline without impacting sightlines towards the Arch. That was a deliberate choice on the behalf of New York’s Cooper Robertson and James Carpenter Design Associates (JCDA), who, with the St. Louis-based Trivers Associates, renovated and uncovered the existing Saarinen-designed museum. “The new West Entry and Museum expansion [are] discretely incised into the landscape,” said James Carpenter, Founder and Principal of JCDA. “This welcoming gesture is announced by an arc of glass laid flat on the ground, reflecting the image of the sky above, while the Arch itself scribes an arc against the sky beyond.” The ribbed glass canopy above the museum’s entrance serves to reduce the outside natural light and ease visitors into the subterranean museum, which has been programmatically transformed. The museum, formerly the Museum of Westward Expansion, will now focus more on the design and construction of the Gateway Arch itself and present more diverse narratives in American history. Inside, the museum’s layout follows the natural contours of the surrounding landscape. The lighting has been designed to keep a consistent level of brightness as visitors move from the glass entrance to the underground galleries. The wraparound paths have been laid out to funnel traffic to the west-facing entry, as visitors coming from either side converge at the entrance and are presented with framed views of the Arch and courthouse. A time-lapse video of the museum's construction, courtesy of EarthCam.

IKD has pioneered hardwood cross-laminated timber

Thanks to a two-year, $250,000 Wood Innovations Grant from the United States Forest Service, and with further support from the National Hardwood Lumber Association, Indiana Hardwood Lumberman’s Association, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, IKD is currently working on an advancement that may completely change the cross-laminated timber (CLT) market. Currently, CLT is made primarily of softwoods, which have the advantage of being fast growing and inexpensive. IKD believes the future of CLT should also include hardwood, and now it just might. As a proof of concept, IKD has constructed a large installation, which stands as the first hardwood CLT structure in the United States. The project was built with an experimental CLT material made from low-value hardwood-sawn logs for Exhibit Columbus, the new architectural exhibition in the modernist mecca of Columbus, Indiana. A reference to the conversation pit in the Eero Saarinen–designed Miller House, the IKD’s Conversation Plinth is a multilevel occupiable installation in the plaza in front of the I.M. Pei–designed Cleo Rogers Memorial Library. The motivations behind using hardwood are two-fold. Currently, over 50 percent of the 80 million cubic feet of hardwood harvested in Indiana each year is used for low-value industrial products. By integrating this wood into the higher-value CLT, it raises the value of what is already Indiana’s largest cash crop. And from the perspective of designers and engineers, hardwood CLT provides the possibility of a more fire-resistant panel and a form-factor advantage. “We are currently exploring a number of applications that could have larger scale building applications,” IKD partner Yugon Kim said. “Since hardwood has superior mechanical properties, we believe we can achieve a panel that could be thinner to meet the same structural capacity of an equivalent softwood CLT panel.” The Conversation Plinth is not simply an exhibition piece for IKD. It is a test of the hardwood CLT the firm developed with SmartLam, the first CLT manufacturer in the United States. Over the months, the project will be subjected to the varied and sometimes-extreme weather of south-central Indiana, providing firsthand data that IKD and SmartLam can use to advance their research on the material. From the beating sun of late summer through the sleet, snow, and ice of winter, the project will be monitored for durability as well as aesthetic and structural changes. “We are closely observing the mixed-species panels and seeing how they react in the extreme temperature and moisture fluctuations so that we can continue to refine the species mix within the panel, the adhesion process, and the finish application and approach,” Kim explained. “It is really interesting to see how differently hardwood moves from softwood when the moisture content varies, and we are looking deeper at the fiber structures and unique characters of species themselves as well to create a superior CLT panel.” The project continues much of the timber research IKD has been doing, including its design for the Timber City at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., and work on timber modular waste units, a timber version of CMU made from timber waste that has won numerous awards. Resources Project Lead and Designer IKD CLT Fabrication SmartLam Timber Engineering Bensonwood Phase One Hardwood Testing Material Supplier Pike Lumber Company Phase Two Conversation Plinth Hardwood Material Supplier Koetter Woodworking General Contractor Taylor Brothers Construction Co. Softwood Material Supplier And Fabricator Sauter Timber

The iconic St. Louis Arch is revamped with new landscape designs

“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.

New map pays tribute to concrete and Brutalist buildings across New York City

Blue Crow Media, a publishing group that publishes architectural guides for cities worldwide, just released a map glorifying concrete structures across New York City—titled, appropriately, Concrete New York. Among the structures highlighted by the map, many will be familiar to AN's readers. Eero Saarinen's TWA Terminal at JFK airport, currently being renovated into a 505-room hotel, is listed, as is the Marcel Breuer–designed granite and concrete monolith now home to the Met Breuer. Perhaps less visited is Breuer's Begrisch Hall on the Bronx Community College campus or I.M. Pei's Silver Towers at NYU. Concrete infrastructure also gets its due: the Cleft Ridge Span at Prospect Park (completed in 1872) is featured as well as the more recent Dattner Architects and WXY Studio-designed Spring Street Salt Shed (completed in 2015). In Greenwich Village, New Yorkers will recognize New Orleans architect Albert Ledner's Curran/O'Toole Building, unmistakable with its double cantilevered, scallop-edged facade, formerly serving as St. Vincent's Hospital (a landmark institution for victims of the HIV/AIDS crisis). The guide also points out historic works by Paul Rudolph, Frank Lloyd Wright, Edward Durell Stone, and many others. The map was edited by Allison Meier, a Brooklyn-based writer. The next guide will look at the use of concrete in Tokyo, and will be available next month. Previous maps by Blue Crow Media have examined modernism in Berlin and Belgrade, art deco in London, and constructivism in Moscow, although Brutalism remains their favorite topic to date, with maps on the subject for Boston, London, Paris, Sydney, and Washington, D.C.

Abba Tor (1923-2017), the engineer of the almost impossible

The two most daring architects of the middle of the 20th century, Eero Saarinen and Louis Kahn, both went to the Abba Tor when they needed help designing groundbreaking buildings. Saarinen enlisted Tor’s help on the TWA Terminal at JFK Airport, the Deere & Company headquarters, and the Repertory Theater at Lincoln Center. Kahn worked with him on the Yale British Art Center and the Roosevelt Island Four Freedoms Park. Abba Tor died peacefully of heart and kidney failure, on February 11 at age 93, in Hastings-on-Hudson, where he had lived for the last 50 years. He was born in Warsaw on November 1, 1923, but grew up in Palestine (before Israel became a state). He joined the Israeli underground when he was an engineering student at the Technion, where he met his wife Nomi, who was studying architecture. He was also involved in the establishment of the Israeli Defense Forces, the unusual co-ed military that aligned the army, navy and air force. The IDF sent him to the United States in 1952 to work with the U.S. Bureau of Standards. While here, he earned a Master’s degree at the Columbia University School of Engineering. His daughter, Shuli, was born in America, too, but the family returned to Israel the next year. Two years later, however, Tor left the military to start his own engineering practice and ended up back in New York where he soon became associated with the firm of Ammann & Whitney. He also taught at the Columbia University School of Architecture and did peer reviews nationally for the Connecticut Society of Engineering, though he went back to Israel in the mid-60s and, using a Danish system, built Carmiel, the first prefabricated housing community in the country. Abba Tor loved to tell stories about the ways his clients operated. He liked working with architects who pushed boundaries but noted that they did so very differently. Saarinen was a form giver—searching for the appropriate image and experiential feeling for every building. He just wanted the engineer to help him make it stand up. Tor would have to cajole him into logical (or at least practical) solutions. At the TWA Terminal, that meant convincing Saarinen that the entire roof, all 1.4 acres of it, could not be made of one continuous embracing shape. It had to be built in pieces with joints and separations. A single pour would lead to shrinkage—and later to cracks. But there was a benefit to the solution. The joints between the shells created the dramatic three-foot-wide skylights. But it was not easy. The engineer had to follow the architect’s dictates and talk him into sustainable forms. In 1962, after Saarinen had died, Tor left Ammann & Whitney to form a partnership with Henry Pfisterer, an engineer who had worked with the Saarinen firm on Yale’s Morse and Stiles Colleges and on the North Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana. Working with Louis Kahn presented different challenges. It was, in a way, more a true partnership since Kahn wanted to understand structural forces at the beginning and develop designs to accommodate them, though his buildings, too, were unique and unprecedented. “Abba Tor was an invaluable partner to Louis Kahn in the design of the Yale Center for British Art helping to structure the most sublime moments of the architecture. Abba rationalized the building and contributed significantly to the resolution of the Center's interdependent ‘served’ and ‘servant’ spaces,” as George Knight, the New Haven architect who recently renovated the Center, explained. But even working with Kahn had its challenges. Tor recalled that once, when told that he could not do what he wanted, Kahn had said, "'You engineers are all the same; you are like sausage cutters!' I said to him, 'Lou, we are not sausage cutters, we are more like the male dancers in a classical ballet. Sometimes we jump and soar, and other times we stand there firmly on the stage and when we see the ballerina take the big leap, we catch her in mid-air, we turn her around, and we make sure the she lands gracefully and doesn't fall on her face.'" (This recollection, from the archives of the National Building Museum, was posted recently in a podcast by architectural photographer Timothy Schenk.) Even in recent years, as his health failed, Tor traveled when he could and stayed abreast of current events around the world, following newspapers from several continents. He had opinions on everything. He made several appearances in the recent film shown in the Public Broadcasting System's American Masters series, "Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future" in December. Abba Tor was predeceased by his wife Nomi and his son Daniel. His daughter, Shuli Tor, survives him.

PBS to air special on Eero Saarinen

As a belated gift to the architecture community, PBS will be airing a new documentary about Finnish-American modernist architect Eero Saarinen. American Masters — Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future will air Tuesday, December 27th on PBS and will be available on DVD January 3rd, 2017. Peter Rosen is the film’s director and producer, and Eric Saarinen, ASC, Eero Saarinen's son, is the film’s director of photography and co-producer. Eric Saarinen grew up surrounded by design and architecture at Cranbrook Academy, a campus designed by his grandfather Eliel Saarinen, who taught there alongside Eric's godparents, Charles and Ray Eames. Throughout the documentary Eric visits Eero's projects across the country, filming in 6k video and using drones to document his father’s work as never before. The show looks at the National Historic Landmarked North Christian Church and the Miller House in Columbus, Indiana, the Deere & Company World Headquarters in Moline, Illinois, and MIT’s Kresge Auditorium. The soon-to-be-renovated TWA terminal at JFK airport is also highlighted, along with his design for Dulles Airport. Along with archival interviews with Eero and his his second wife, The New York Times art critic Aline Saarinen, new interviews with architects and critics discuss his legacy. Architects Kevin Roche, César Pelli, Rafael Viñoly, Robert A. M. Stern, and industrial designer Niels Diffrient all speak about the influence Saarinen had on their own work, while architecture critic Paul Goldberger, curator Donald Albrecht, author Jayne Merkel, and Cathleen McGuigan, editor-in-chief of Architectural Record, discuss his lasting impact on the field as a whole. “Closure was something I didn’t have with my dad. But I forgive him for his genius,” said Eric Saarinen. “He figured out a way to be important across time, so even though he died young, he is still alive.” American Masters — Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future airs Tuesday, December 27 at 8 p.m. on PBS as the series’s Season 30 finale.

Officials break ground on the hotel at iconic TWA Flight Center

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.

Columbus, Indiana’s modern architecture inspired a new feature film

For a small city, Columbus, Indiana has an impressive collection of modern architecture. Despite a population of only 44,000, the city has works from John Carl Warnecke, Eliel and Eero Saarinen, I. M. Pei, and many more notable modernists. Columbus will provide the backdrop for the feature directorial debut of Kogonada, a filmmaker well known for his video essays. According to Variety, the film will feature Star Trek star John Cho and indie darling Parker Posey. Columbus's modern architecture was the inspiration for the film's story. Kogonada told Variety that "After visiting the town, I felt an immediate sense for a film that would take place there, which would implicitly explore the promise of modernism (an ongoing quest for me). The story revolves around a man and young woman from opposite sides of the world, each mourning the potential loss of a parent.” Cho will play the son of an architecture critic, while co-star Haley Lu Richardson will play the daughter of an addict. The pair finds a bond through their estranged parents and their love of architecture. Posey will play the role of a former student and current girlfriend of Cho's father. The film is currently shooting in Columbus, which has been called the "Athens of the Prairie" because of its status as a mecca for midcentury modernism. The city has no less than seven National Historic Landmarks, and a biennial design exhibition is in the works starting in 2017. Columbus is also the home of Cummins, Inc., a Fortune 500 corporation that specializes in engines (see our article on preserving an architectural gem Cummins commissioned.) Considering that architecture is a focal point of both the location and the plot, we can hope to see some of the city's iconic buildings featured in the film. Some likely locations might be the Art Nouveau style Fire Station One by Leighton Bowers, Eliel Saarinen's First Christian Church, or his son Eero's North Christian Church, the last building he designed before his death in 1961. Other well-known locations include several of the city's bridges, and Friendship Way, a brick-lined alley with sculptures and neon lights.

19 films revealed for the 2016 Architecture & Design Film Festival

The 8th edition of the Architecture & Design Film Festival will run from September 28 to October 2 in New York City. This year's programming will consist of 30 feature length and short films, as well as panel discussions, Q&As, and networking events. The festival will open with Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future, a film about the famed architect told through the eyes of his son, Eric. Also showing is The Happy Film, about graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister. A full list of highlights, taken from an Architecture & Design Film Festival press release, is below:

Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future (Opening Night Film) Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future explores the life and work of Finnish-American architectural giant Eero Saarinen. Directed by Peter Rosen, the film follows director of photography Eric Saarinen on a cathartic journey as he visits his father's visionary buildings from the St. Louis Gateway Arch to the TWA Flight Center. Shot in 6K with the latest drone technology, the film showcases Saarinen's influential body of work that stands apart from the clutter of contemporary design and continues to inspire architects today

Workplace (World Premiere) Workplace is a documentary film about the past, present, and future of the office – a place where hundreds of millions of human beings spend billions of hours every day. Directed by Gary Hustwit (the acclaimed filmmaker behind Helvetica, Objectified, and Urbanized), it follows the design and construction of the New York headquarters of R/GA, where the company and architects Foster + Partners explore the intersection of digital and physical space. It also looks at the thinking and experimentation involved in trying to create the next evolution of what the office could be.

Where Architects Live (US Premiere) Where Architects Live, directed by Francesca Molteni, is an exploration into the private spaces of eight protagonists of world architecture: Shigeru Ban, Mario Bellini, David Chipperfield, Massimiliano Fuksas, Zaha Hadid, Marcio Kogan, Daniel Libeskind and Studio Mumbai.

The Happy Film The Happy Film is a feature-length documentary in which famed graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister undergoes a series of self-experiments outlined by popular psychology to test once and for all if it’s possible for a person to have a meaningful impact on their own happiness. The film is directed by Stefan Sagmeister, Ben Nabors, and Hillman Curtis.

The Architects: A Story of Loss, Memory and Real Estate (World Premiere) This film is about the competition to rebuild the World Trade Center site after 9/11, focused on the unrealized design proposal from United Architects. Directed by Tom Jennings, it sheds light on the importance of this public competition, delicately considering the site's history, symbolism, and future. United Architects was a collaboration between Alejandro Zaera-Polo & Farshid Moussavi of Foreign Office Architects, Greg Lynn of Greg Lynn FORM, Kevin Kennon of Kevin Kennon Architects, Jesse Reiser & Nanako Umemoto of Reiser + Umemoto Architects, and Ben van Berkel of UNStudio.

An expanded list of films—which includes the highlights above, in addition to others such as Facing up to Mackintosh and Amare Gio Ponti—is up on the festival's website. This year's festival will be hosted by the Cinépolis Chelsea at 260 W 23rd St. Stay tuned for updates as opening night gets closer and more films are revealed.

Eero Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center will host 2016 Storefront for Art and Architecture auction

It is almost time for the annual Storefront for Art and Architecture spring benefit and auction. This year’s event is taking place at the Eero Saarinen*-designed Trans World (TWA) Flight Center, soon to close this year, and slated to reopen as a hotel in 2018. But first, to make sure you’re up to speed, a little bit about the Saarinen space at the JFK airport: a New York City landmark, the 1962 terminal head house has been closed since 2001, the same year American Airlines acquired Trans World Airlines (the original terminal airline). The Saarinen head house underwent a renovation, while portions of the surrounding terminal were demolished to make way for the Gensler-designed terminal that opened in 2008. The Storefront auction on May 8 will be the last public event in the terminal before redevelopment. The theme this year is BEYOND BORDERS, which the Storefront defines as: “In the space of the border, architecture intersects with dilemmas of flow, control, identity, and belonging. The scale of such dilemmas ranges from geopolitical to liminal. Borders, as lines of division between political, social, ecological, and moral issues, are subtle and ubiquitous protagonists in the poetics of daily life. They absorb the desires that exist on the margins of the legal and the possible”. In addition to the Denise Scott Brown photograph above, here is a sampling of the diverse pieces in the silent auction.       *For those on the west coast and want to check out an Eero Saarinen project, there is one in the Pacific Northwest. Saarinen designed an Oregon monastery library at Mount Angel Abbey in 1970. You can see a crossover between his light filled architecture and practical industrial design sensibilities carried through from the site placement down to the arrangement of study spaces.

David Chipperfield chosen for 2016 Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative

Swiss watchmaker Rolex is looking out for new talent. The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative pairs accomplished artists and designers across all disciplines with emerging practitioners for a yearlong, one-on-one mentorship. At an awards ceremony on Sunday in Mexico City, David Chipperfield was chosen as the mentor in architecture. The partnership with the as-yet-unchosen protege will begin mid-2016. A noted architect of cultural and civic institutions, Chipperfield designed Mexico City's Museo Júmex (completed 2013); the Nobel Center in Stockholm (set to open in 2018); the Royal Academy of Arts master plan (expected completion: 2018); and the Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate, England. In September of this year, David Chipperfield Architects beat out KPF and Foster + Partners to convert the Eero Saarinen–designed United States Embassy in London into a hotel. For the Rolex initiative, panels of arts professionals all over the world convene to nominate new talent in their respective fields. Mentors choose from a list of three to four finalists. Winners will be announced in June of next year. The pair is asked to spend at least six weeks together, collaborating on projects. Past mentors in architecture include Peter Zumthor (2014–2015), Kazuyo Sejima (2012–2013), and Alvaro Siza (2002–2003). In addition to Chipperfield, this year the committee selected Mia Couto (literature), Alfonso Cuarón (film), Philip Glass (music), Joan Jonas (visual arts), Robert Lepage (theatre) and Ohad Naharin (dance).

New York state parks to see a billion dollar influx of maintenance funding by 2020

After years of disinvestment, the New York park system is receiving the funding it needs to address more than a billion dollars of neglected maintenance across the state’s 213 parks and historic sites. Despite the much needed $89 million of funding received in 2012, thanks to a push from Governor Andrew Cuomo and an audit from the state controller’s office which found sections in the park in such disrepair that they had to be closed to the public, many parks are unable to operate in their full capacity due to crumbling amenities. The state plans to spend upwards of $900 million on improvements by 2020. This is a much-needed turnaround after 2010 when the state budget allotted no new money for improvements in the park system, triggering a report to be issued with the Alliance for New York State Parks called, Protect Their Future: New York State Parks in Crisis. However, most of the funding allotted to date is desperately needed to repair bathrooms, fix electrical issues, and pave roads—critical amenities—rather than to advance and improve the century-old park system. Compare this current situation to that of the 1950s and '60s, when a federally sponsored program called Mission 66 spent more than $1 billion between 1956 and 1966 to create modern infrastructure and improvements in the parks. The program created the concept of visitor centers and built more than 100 of them during its decade-long run. Architects like Eero Saarinen and Richard Neutra were commissioned to make parks a destination for architecture as well as landscape, and explore how the built and natural environments could play off of each other. That is not to knock the recent bout of funding, though. Letchworth State Park in Castile, New York, received a $5.75 million nature center in addition to a new electrical system and amenities; Niagara Falls has $50 million budgeted for upgrades to pedestrian walkways, lighting, and landscaping; and Jones Beach, on Long Island, is renovating a historic bathhouse and preparing the area to adapt to rising sea levels. Additionally, in January, the Excelsior Conservation Corps will launch its first group of 50 young volunteers who will work and live in the park system in exchange for a stipend. There are hopes that this movement is the beginning of many to usher in an era of the park system.