At this week's Facades+ New York Conference, Doriana and Massimiliano Fuksas delivered the keynote address, giving a description of how their firm designs and conceives their innovative building skins.
The Architect's Newspaper sat down with them after the talk to get more in-depth insights about their approach. Check out what they had to say, and why they don't like the term "facade" in this video interview:
For more information about the Facades+ Conferences, click here.
As two of the foremost contemporary Italian architects, Doriana and Massimiliano Fuksas know a thing or two about the trends reshaping international architecture today. As the day-one morning keynote speakers at AN’s Facades+ New York conference on April 4, the veteran design duo spoke about their four decades of experience creating boundary-breaking projects across the globe, why the right materials help evoke positive emotions in their buildings, and why they reject the term “facade.” Over 500 AEC practitioners gathered inside the Metropolitan Pavilion to hear the Fuksases, founders of Studio Fuksas, present the details behind 20 structures that for them, define the firm’s design sensibilities and best demonstrate its vast portfolio of building typologies and structural forms. “What is a facade for us?” Massimiliano Fuksas asked the crowd. “We don’t like the name ‘facade.’ We’ve never done a facade in our lives, much less just a plan.” Fuksas explained that a building’s exterior is simply something that the architect discovers as the project concept develops with the design. He said a piece of architecture is like a sculpture that is drawn from a mass and is formed through research, trial, and error until a final work of art is realized. To Massimiliano Fuksas, the end result is something mysterious. One thing that the architects do aim to have control over is emotion.In the case of Studio Fuksas’s projects located in dense urban environments, such as the 2010 Admirant Entrance Building in the Netherlands or the 2010 Rome-EUR Convention Center, the light and surrounding contexts reflected through the glass curtain walls project a happy tone for visitors both outside and inside the buildings. They expose the buildings’ skeletal envelopes, which allow people to clearly see the structures’ raw materials. “For the convention center, we built a container using a steel structure and a double glass facade that encloses the cloud, which you can see from the outside,” said Massimiliano. Studio Fuksas’s 2009 St. Paolo Parish Complex in Foligno, Italy, though a concrete cube, still utilizes light through unique cutouts that don’t fully brighten the entire interior, but instead create a thoughtful, soft environment for reflection. Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas noted that the facade of the chapel is sliced at the bottom with a glass entrance. A visitor’s gaze moves from one side to the other side of the building in an effort to understand the windows across the various faces.Prior to designing the church in Central Italy, the Fuksases completed the massive, New Milan Trade Fair of Rho-Pero, which features pavilions of glass and mirrored stainless steel. The "veil," an undulating spinal column that covers 505,000 square feet atop the elongated building, is reminiscent of natural landscapes like waves, dunes, and hills. “Here we used a different kind of facade on the central axis,” said Massimiliano Fuksas. “When you pass through the stainless steel parts of the building to the glass, you feel happy. This is like sunshine.” One of the most important components of Studio Fuksas’s work is sustainability. Details are designed to boost energy savings and reduce carbon emissions throughout buildings' lifetimes. Of course, this is a key aspect of designing advanced facades, and one that all of the Facades+ New York speakers showcased through their work.The Gensler team behind the recently completed renovation of Manhattan’s Ford Foundation building, along with Heintges Consulting Architects & Engineers, spoke about how to best maintain and improve the envelopes of mid-century icons. Representatives from Columbia University, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, and Permasteelisa Group discussed the newest additions to the university’s Manhattanville campus, all which have vitreous skins. Toshiko Mori, who gave the day-one afternoon keynote speech, challenged the crowd by expanding the topic of facades to the greater building envelope and the importance of the fifth facade, the roof. All these exterior elements, she explained, have a monumental impact on the performance and identity of a piece of architecture. Other symposium talks featured experts in net-zero building enclosures, climate responsive facades, and the changing international regulations in envelope construction. Juergen Riehm, founding principal of 1100 Architect, served as the co-chair of Facades+ New York and moderator for every panel.
The 886,000-square-foot Beverly Center first opened in 1982, in true Los Angeles fashion, on the site of a former children’s amusement park and next door to an active oil drilling site. Critic Aaron Betsky, appraising the structure ten years later in the Los Angeles Times, consecrated the blob-shaped mega-mall as “the Acropolis of shopping, dedicated to our national religion, consumption.” A new luxury-oriented $500 million overhaul by Studio Fuksas has only made that description more apt.
The eight-story edifice has undergone a midlife facelift that includes the addition of an undulating aluminum mesh facade over the building’s five above-grade parking levels. The expanded metal veil billows around the hulking mass, disappearing to mark three monumental entrances and a pair of glass-wrapped escalator bays.
The mall itself is laid out along the building’s top three floors, where a new 25,000-square-foot skylight and other reconfigured vertical openings bring crisp, white sunlight into its gleaming halls.
8500 Beverly Boulevard
Designer: Studio Fuksas
On April 4 and 5, Facades+ is returning to New York for the eighth year in a row. Organized by The Architect's Newspaper, the New York conference brings together leading AEC practitioners for a robust full-day symposium with a second day of intensive workshops led by manufacturers, architects, and engineers.
Doriana and Massimiliano Fuksas, and Toshiko Mori are respectively leading the morning and afternoon keynote addresses for the symposium. In between the keynote addresses, representatives from Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Permasteelisa, Cooper Union, Gensler, Heintges, Atelier 10, Transsolar, Walter P. Moore, Schüco, Frener & Reifer, and Behnisch Architekten, will be on hand to discuss recently completed innovative projects.
New York-and-Frankfurt based practice 1100 Architect is co-chairing the conference. In anticipation of the conference, 1100 Architect's Juergen Riehm sat down with AN to discuss the firm's ongoing work, the conference's program, and trends reshaping New York City's built environment.
The Architect's Newspaper: It is safe to say that New York City is undergoing a tremendous period of growth. What do you perceive to be the most exciting trends within the city?Juergen Riehm: You’re right; New York City is undergoing big change and growth. I would say that one of the big drivers of that change—and one of the exciting trends—is the investment in the city’s public spaces. There has been such transformation along the waterfronts and in parks across all five boroughs, and that has really catalyzed growth. We have worked with several city agencies for many years and in different ways, including with the Department of Parks & Recreation, which has been an exciting partnership, contributing to these changes. One of the projects we currently have in design for NYC Parks is a new community center in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. There, we are designing a 33,000-square-foot community center. The facade will perform in a number of ways. Since it is a community center, we want it to be as open and transparent as possible, and it also needs to be robust and durable. The building is on track to meet the city’s new sustainability standards LL31/32 and LEED Gold.
There has been so much attention on new large-scale developments like Hudson Yards or the supertall towers in Midtown, but one of the other exciting trends right now is the renewed attention on optimizing the performance of existing buildings. It is something we will address during Facades+ NYC, but there is great work happening now on restorations of historic buildings—at the Ford Foundation or the United Nations, for example—that not only addresses decades of wear and tear, but that also brings these structures up to full 21st-century performance standards.
AN: 1100 Architect is based in both New York and Frankfurt. What are the greatest benefits of operating a trans-Atlantic practice?JR: Our practice has always been deeply rooted in New York—just as it has also always had an international footprint. From our earliest days, we delivered projects overseas, so it seems like part of 1100 Architect’s DNA to have an ongoing dialogue with other geographies. We launched our Frankfurt office about 15 years ago, and, as you suggest, it does bring benefits. In general, we find that it has a reciprocal sharpening effect, with each location informing the other with different materials, technologies, and delivery methods.
AN: Which projects are 1100 Architect currently working on, or recently completed, that demonstrate the firm's longstanding demonstration of sustainable enclosures?JR: Well, the NYC Parks community center in East Flatbush is a good example. It’s an exciting project in many ways—including the fact that we are designing it to the City’s new LL31/32 sustainability standards. In every way, we are really pushing for optimal performance, and the high-performance envelope plays an integral role toward that end. We were recently awarded a contract with the U.S. Department of State, so we are poised to begin working on diplomatic facilities around the world, so the safety and security of facade systems will be a paramount consideration. In Germany, we are renovating a 19,000-seat soccer stadium and adding a new training facility, using an innovative and high-performance channel-glass facade. We recently completed a Passive House–certified kindergarten there, too, which involved a high-performance facade.
AN:Are there any techniques and materials used in Germany or the EU that should be adopted in the United States?JR: In Germany, I find that there is a more closely integrated relationship between government, the building industry, and the architectural profession. With environmental standards, for example, the goals set by the government are quite ambitious, and it has resulted in a closely integrated process of meeting those goals. In this moment of deregulation in the U.S., it seems like a good time to consider the value of the government’s role in moving toward energy efficiency.
AN: Where do you see the industry heading in the coming years?JR: By necessity, I see it moving toward higher standards of energy performance. Climate science is calling for it and the marketplace is increasingly looking for it, so the architecture and building industry will need to deliver. And as I mentioned at the start of this conversation, I also think there will be a lot of focus on updating existing buildings to enhance performance.
Further information regarding the conference can be found here.
This month two Italian architecture activist groups disseminated a petition demanding the Istituto Nazionale di Architettura (IN/ARCH) include architect Doriana Fuksas in a lifetime achievement award that was recently bestowed on Massimiliano Fuksas, her partner in work and life. The groups, RebelArchitette and Voices of Women Architects (VOW), posted the petition on December 12. At press time, the petition, a publicly-accessible Google spreadsheet with names verified through Sign Here, had garnered just shy of 500 signatures. Doriana and Massimiliano's names appear at the top, followed closely by the likes of MoMA architecture curator Paola Antonelli, and the architects Toshiko Mori and Denise Scott Brown. Also included are lead organizers Louise Braverman, Caroline James, Arielle Assouline-Lichten, and Francesca Perani.
Here's the full text of the letter:
Dear Amedeo Schiattarella, President of the Istituto Nazionale di Architettura Region Lazio, and Andrea Margaritelli, President of the Istituto Nazionale di Architettura,
We are writing on behalf of Doriana Fuksas, as we understand that she was overlooked in the selection process of the Premio alla Carriera Architettura. Doriana and Massimiliano are equal partners. We are calling for equal recognition for equal work.
We are a diverse group from around the world. We lead our own firms, are directors of schools, are award-winning architects, journalists, and professors.
This past May at the Venice Biennale of Architecture, some of us came together as a Flash Mob in the Giardini during the preview days of the Venice Biennale as part of Voices of Women Architects -- VOW Architects. The Flash Mob is a peaceful gathering of individuals asking for a common goal. In this case it’s equal rights and respect for all members of our community. Organizers included Martha Thorne, Louise Braverman, Francesca Perani, Farshid Moussavi, Toshiko Mori, Caroline Bos, Benedetta Tagliabue, Odile Decq, Caroline James and Atxu Amann. We read a manifesto in the Giardini to hundreds of men and women who were there to rally in support towards a change in the Architecture profession.
The work continues. Today, with other groups, we are supporting the initiative of RebelArchitette: "Time for 50" - Time for Equality. We are looking at the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030 for gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.
When we read last week in the news that Massimiliano Fuksas has received the Premio alla Carriera Architettura, we were stunned that the prize did not include Doriana Fuksas. Doriana and Massimiliano are equal partners. It's important to correct the record now so that young architects can look up to their incredible work and know the whole story -- that the work is strong because of joint creativity and collaboration.
We are signing in solidarity to show our support for the tremendous achievements of Doriana and Massimiliano, and ask that you amend the Premio alla Carriera Architettura now to recognize Doriana and Massimiliano, together. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Doriana and Massimiliano launched Fuksas in 1985. Recently, the duo worked on the New Milan Trade Fair, a convention center, as well as an eyepopping bi-conical theater and exhibition hall in Tbilisi, Georgia.
In the age of #MeToo and growing acknowledgment of entrenchedsexisminarchitecture, the petition stands on the shoulders of recent attempts to dismantle structural barriers women in the field face at all levels. Attention to women's recognition in architecture's stratosphere extends back decades: Architectural Recordreported that two of the Fuksa petition organizers, James and Assouline-Lichten, led a campaign to get the Pritzker Architecture Prize jury to give Scott Brown an equal share of the 1991 Pritzker awarded to her late husband and professional partner Robert Venturi.
After nearly two decades of designing, planning, and construction, Rome-based architecture firm Fuksas's $262 million Rome-EUR Convention Center is finally complete, along with an adjacent hotel. Dubbed the "Cloud" due to a suspended white curvaceous volume that dominates the 592,000-square-foot space and appears to loom over the concourse, the convention center has been in the making for some 18 years with design work starting in 1998.
Now, though, the building is fully open and accessible to the public. It's located in the EUR area of Rome—an area known as being a business and residential district. Encasing the "Cloud" is what Fuksas call the "Theca." The steel structure uses a double-glass facade to expose the cloud to passersby and give the white volume visual precedence. "The 'Cloud' represents the heart of the project. Its construction within the 'box' of the Theca underlines the juxtaposition between a free spatial articulation, without rules, and a geometrically defined shape," described Fuksas on their website. "The Cloud is the distinctive architectural element of the project: The steel rib structure... provides an extraordinary visual effect, and is covered by a 15,000-square-meter transparent curtain."
Inside, visitors can access numerous exhibition spaces and auditoriums, part of a flexible space that boasts a seated capacity of nearly 9,000. Included within this is a grand 1,760-seat auditorium (found toward the Cloud's rear) that also offers snack points and support services. Meanwhile, large conference rooms totaling 6,500 seats can also be found within the center.
(Courtesy Moreno Maggi)
The "Cloud" and "Theca" are two of three elements that "define" the scheme. The third is the "Blade"—a slender 441-room hotel that lies next to the convention center. Fuksas sees it as being an "independent and autonomous structure." All in all, the scheme is touted to make between $330-440 million-a-year, quickly recouping its construction costs. A climate-control system will also aid the scheme's finances in terms of energy usage: Variable flow air conditioning mediates homogenous gains in rooms prone to crowding and photovoltaic elements facilitate the on-site production of electricity.
The Beverly Center, an indoor shopping mall with 883,000 square feet of retail space in Los Angeles, is currently undergoing a $500-million renovation by Rome-based architecture firm Studio Fuksas. The mall, originally built in 1982, is a gigantic multi-level shopping center stacked above five floors of parking. It originally featured a Pompidou Center-style monumental staircase connecting the street to the mall above. The Architect's Newspaper's West Editor Antonio Pacheco interviewed Studio Fuksas Principal Massimiliano Fuksas over email to discuss the project.
The Architect’s Newspaper: For a certain period of time, the Beverly Center was referred to as the "most popular tourist attraction in L.A. County." Which aspects of this project work toward reclaiming that mantle?Massimiliano Fuksas: The project pursues the understanding of shopping centers as a pivotal role in today's society, where they are perceived as magnets for social venues and cultural exchanges. The renovation does not consist only [of] the facade design, in order to enhance the building’s appeal, but is also meant to be regarded as an important step to rebrand the shopping center and create a new symbolic meeting area for luxury and contemporary retail in California.Which aspects of the redesign are aimed at creating a different identity for the complex?The chaotic Los Angeles environment evolves into the idea of representing a sense of fluidity and dynamism on the façade of the building. The elevations become white, continuously-reflective surfaces, and will reverberate through the fluctuation of the surrounding cityscape of Los Angeles: The reflected color of the sky superimposes itself upon the building’s materials and mixes with the environment. With the proposed reflecting envelope, the new landmark will change its appearance throughout the day and night and according to the public’s points of view. The fragmentation of the new skin dematerializes the existing volume, through the fluctuation of colors and the kinetic decomposition of the surfaces, into vibrating fragments. In addition, the metal mesh that wraps around the building gives a unique texture which will create an icon for the city.What is the new scheme doing to activate the street life around the Beverly Center?With the renovation, reflective and backlit perforated metal panels reverberate the interior lighting [to the outdoors], creating a visual luxury-promenade throughout the shopping floors. A sequence of curved voids punctures the floors and is intended to be a reminder of the fluidity found in the exterior façade, although in a more human scale as opposed to the urban scale of the exterior. This interaction between the inside and the outside is intended to create a sense of discovery for the users and culminates with a panoramic rooftop terrace. The terrace setting can be enjoyed, not only by the store visitors, but also attracts people and customers from the surrounding local communities.What are some of the ideas behind increasing the porosity of the building, in terms of views and access from within the Beverly Center itself?The idea is to take advantage of the unique location of Beverly Center by opening up the inside to the sky and to the spectacular views of the city. The continuous “river” skylight have a very strong connection to the void openings towards the city that are proposed in the mall, as well as feature ceiling lighting systems in the parking areas. These elements unify the whole building as one. Direct sunlight increases people’s perception of brightness. Larger and more articulated surface areas of the skylight increase the amount of direct sunlight available to shoppers. Entering the building, the visitors are guided through the floors by three-story atria and voids full of movement, which encourage activity throughout the commercial spaces. Large openings on the roof flood natural light through filtered skylights deep within the space to reach all shopping areas. The natural light will be perceived from the lowest levels of the Beverly Center in order to enhance the public areas and the retail activities.
In the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, Rome–based architecture firm Fuksas, led by Massimiliano Fuksas and his wife and Doriana, have unveiled their second building: a music theater and exhibition hall along the Mtkvari river that flows through the city.
Located in Rhike Park, the building's two programs—theater and exhibition space—are divided into to corresponding twin glass and steel tubular volumes. Standing next to an old retaining wall, the volumes appear to protrude out from the roadside toward the waterfront.
Holding 566 seats, the Musical Theatre Hall sits to the North of the site and houses the foyer and other back-of-house facilities. Supported from the ground at the end, the volume acts, in Fuksas' words, as a "periscope" to the river and city, with views framed toward the old town of Tbilisi. The Exhibition Hall, unlike its counterpart, opens up at its end and features stairs leading up to the entrance.
Fuksas's first project, also in Tbilisi, in Georgia came back in 2012. The Public Service Hall—just a stones throw away—uses a similar curvaceous, petal-like roof system that hangs over the predominantly glass facades.
“It is important for every country to combine its great cultural tradition with contemporary architecture to create part of the country’s history of the future,” said Massimiliano Fuksas in 2015. “Tbilisi has a relevant historic legacy, which unfortunately has been left without any maintenance for the last 15 years. In this context, the plans to regenerate the city not only include the rehabilitation of the landmark of Tbilisi’s Old Town, but mostly to incorporate the requirements of a modern functional city.”
According to Joshua Levine of the New York Times, the "grandiose" architecture currently being erected is intended to reflect the "virtues of Georgia’s kinder, gentler bureaucracy." However, it's not all good news for some Georgians. As Levine reports in 2013, preservationists argue that the government is favoring "slapdash commercialism" instead of paying respect to Tbilisi's history. The Times article quotes Gio Sumbadze, a resident artists, as calling it “facadism.”
“I think the new buildings would be marvelous, but maybe someplace far away, like in the suburbs,” said Nino Sukhishvili, a local.
Pininfarina and AECOM have won an international competition to design an Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower and technical building at the Istanbul New Airport. The team was selected from a competitive shortlist, which included Zaha Hadid, Fuksas, Moshe Safdie, Grimshaw-Nordic, and RMJM.
“One of the World’s largest aviation projects, Istanbul New Airport’s air traffic control tower will be an iconic structure, visible to all passengers traveling through the airport," said İGA's chief executive officer, Yusuf Akçayoğlu, "We were looking for a striking design fit for a 21st century airport while remaining sensitive to Istanbul’s unique heritage." According to the design team, the tower's form was inspired by the tulip, a symbol of Istanbul's culture.
This victory marks AECOM's first collaboration with Pininfarina, a firm recognized for designing cars for Ferrari and Alfa Romeo. "The collaboration combines the expertise of AECOM’s architectural and engineering teams with Pininfarina’s distinctive architectural style that epitomises speed and movement, influenced by automotive design," announced the design team.
The Istanbul New Airport is expected to have the largest, annual, passenger capacity in the world, accommodating 90 million passengers per year at the first stage and 200 million passengers per year by the final stage.According to the design team, İGA secured a $4.9 billion loan from a group of six banks in October to fund the first phase. The following stages will expand the airport to include six runways and three terminal buildings.
AECOM and Pininfarina's design will be approximately 22 miles from the city center, on the European side, adjacent to the Black Sea.
Beating out shortlisted competition including John Friedman Alice Kimm and Brooks+Scarpa, Italian firm Studio Fuksas has been awarded the commission to revamp the Beverly Center, the legendary (not to mention, ahem, aesthetically challenging) high end shopping mall in Beverly Hills. The job, overseen by Michigan-based developer Taubman Group, calls for revamping a building that has become tired both inside and out. Considering the ethereal lightness of Fuksas' work—for instance, his undulating, glass-wrapped Fiera in Milan— he should be the perfect architect to reconsider one of the bulkiest buildings in LA. Look for an official announcement in the coming weeks.