When 875 North Michigan Avenue, formerly the John Hancock Center, opened on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile in 1969, it signaled a departure from the all-too-prevalent trabeated Miesian skyscraper. Its subtly tapered 100-story form and iconic X-frame structure, designed and engineered by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s Bruce Graham and Fazlur Khan, respectively, demonstrated that beauty and structural performance need not be mutually exclusive. As if taking this lesson to heart, a new crop of expressively framed towers has sprung up around the country in recent years, each one upping the ante in exuberant form and structural daring. In Seattle, a short walk from the city’s famed, OMA-designed central library, The Mark gamely cantilevers over its older neighbors. The 48-story hotel-and-office tower, designed by ZGF Architects and engineered by Arup, relies on a hybrid steel “megabrace” and concrete core structure to perform its acrobatic feat. Comprising multistory steel members, the triangulated megabrace—so termed by Arup—addresses the structural complexities of building a formally expressive tower in a seismically active region. The architects constructed around two historic structures nestled below The Mark’s protruding midsection: the First United Methodist Church (now an event space) and the Rainier Club. Their efforts have resulted in an eclectic city block, complete with classically proportioned low-rise structures and a decidedly contrapposto tower. In San Francisco, the Heller Manus Architects–designed 181 Fremont employs a similar megabrace structure (again courtesy of Arup) capable of withstanding the city’s seismic activity and ever-present wind loads. But the slightly tapering tower also deploys a structurally integrated damping system (rather than the more typical tuned mass damper), which enabled the architects to increase the tower’s height; at 802 feet, 181 Fremont is the tallest residential high-rise on the West Coast. And because the shocklike dampers work in-line with the megabrace, the design team was able to eliminate tons of steel from the project—3,000 tons, in fact. The envelope created additional efficiencies; calibrated to the angle of the sun, the “saw-tooth” glass facade reduces solar gain by 6 percent. In a departure from the steel systems normally associated with exoskeletal structures, Ateliers Jean Nouvel turned to concrete for the French firm’s first residential tower, 53 West 53 in Midtown Manhattan. At almost the same supertall height of 875 North Michigan Avenue, 53 West 53 even takes some aesthetic cues from the Chicago icon, but the similarities are superficial. Nouvel’s skyscraper was meant to be even taller, but political and economic exigencies—negotiations with city planning, the Great Recession—prompted a complete structural rethink, including subbing out the steel for reinforced concrete. Sloping and slanting up to a pointed precipice, the structure trades a normal diagrid for highly irregular facets, palpable on the exterior as well as the interior. The result is a celebration of the structure in all of the building’s 145 units, each with expansive windows spanning massive diagonal structural members. In downtown Miami, One Thousand Museum takes the possibilities of concrete to even further extremes. Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects and engineered by DeSimone, the luxury high-rise employs a unique structural system made up of 4,800 prefabricated glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) panels. The pieces, which were individually fabricated in Dubai and test fitted before being shipped to the dense Miami lot, act as both concrete formwork and finished surface. Whereas 181 Fremont and The Mark contend with intense seismic conditions, One Thousand Museum is faced with a very real hurricane threat. The structural system was put to the test perhaps earlier than expected when Hurricane Irma, a Category 4 storm, struck Miami in September 2017, as construction was underway. By exploring the formal potential of GFRC, the svelte tower sets a new bar for aesthetic, structural, and construction methods. As a proof of concept, it represents a dramatic advancement of 875 North Michigan Avenue’s revolutionary construction, while opening new doors for expressionist towers to come.
Posts tagged with "Jean Nouvel":
The Philharmonie de Paris was infamously over budget and two years behind schedule when it opened in January 2015. Two years later, the Philharmonie issued a $189.5 million fine against Jean Nouvel, the building's Pritzker Prize-winning architect, for his failure to deliver the project on-time and on-budget. Earlier this week, Nouvel filed a lawsuit against his former client claiming that the fines were “unprecedented in the world of architecture” and “totally disproportionate,” according to the Guardian. The project was initially budgeted for $217 million in 2006 but ballooned to $419 million by the time it was complete. The publicly-financed concert hall, which was built in the lower-income and largely-immigrant 19th arrondissement, has meanwhile become synonymous with extravagance and oversight in public works. Nouvel was outspoken about his opposition to the concert hall during its construction, going as far as suing to have his name taken off the project and boycotting the opening. His unsuccessful 2015 lawsuit claimed that building had radically shifted from the original design and that his firm was not responsible for the project nearly doubling in price. Nouvel’s lawyers, William Bourdon and Vincent Brengarth, told the Guardian that the Paris Philharmonie was unreasonably holding Nouvel’s firm, Atelier Jean Nouvel, solely responsible for the delays and budget issues. Nouvel has continuously maintained that the project overran its budget for reasons outside his firm’s control. "I affirm that in no case was I at the origin of any cost overrun on this project. The public report of Cour des Comptes of February 2012 evokes 'poor piloting,' 'many delays related to the fluctuations of the public arbitrations' which 'obviously influenced the cost of the operation,'” he wrote in a statement boycotting the opening of the Paris Philharmonie. "The public report of the French Senate of October 17th, 2012 evokes 'initial underestimated costs' before the launching of the competition and specifies the main reasons of overruns, which have nothing to do with me.”
“Indecent,” “absurd,” and “unacceptable”—these are a few of the adjectives used by Jean Nouvel and other architects and urban planners to denounce new plans for the Gare du Nord train station renovation in Paris. Proposed by S.N.C.F Gares & Connextions, the expansion of the largest train station in Europe by 1.2 million square feet would focus heavily on duty-free mall-like commercial development targeting suburban R.E.R commuters. While the proposed transformation is not very different from other train station trends, from the Gare Saint-Lazare renovation to London’s Liverpool Street Station, the size and scope of this project have hit a sore spot for the French public. Nouvel and others wrote and signed on to an open letter published in this Tuesday’s edition of Le Monde outlining their objections. As a city that prides itself on the beauty and vivacity of its historic monuments, any alteration on the scale of the Gare du Nord prompts scrutiny, as the city fabric becomes more and more consumer and profit-oriented. Bernard Landau, a former deputy director of urban planning at the city of Paris, told The New York Times that “it all goes into one question. Should we transform all train stations into shopping malls?” The plans were described as “primarily for the daily commuters, the millions of users of the R.E.R. and the suburban trains,” by Claude Solard, chief executive of S.N.C.F. in the same article. Yet these commuters, who reside in the affluent suburbs of Paris, like Versailles, are often hurrying through, going from point A to B—yet the plans were proposed to be beneficial for those who have more time to use the added “amenities.” The extant Gare du Nord has been criticized heavily in the past for its hour-long delays, and passengers won’t be appeased in the face of cancellations by having more boutiques to browse. In addition, opponents to the plan have pointed out that the added shops will increase the pressure suburban malls and retail are already feeling, making it more difficult to attract customers. The open letter is a new chapter in what has been an ongoing debate amongst architects and urban planners in Europe: What should a modern train station look like? A coworking space and fitness facilities are also included in the proposals, which is scheduled to begin construction in early 2020. As the city eyes the 2024 Summer Olympics, the Gare du Nord is poised to be a major player in moving people from the Charles de Gaulle airport as well as around the city to various events, in addition to being the termination point of the international high-speed Eurostar rail service. It is not a radical idea that station planning should be focused on pedestrian flow, efficient movement, and timely departures. While an expansion and modernization of the transit hub is called for, Parisian planners are demanding that the project's priorities should be shifted and that the designers should “rethink from floor to rafters.”
Brought to you with support fromTribeca is consistently ranked as one of the most expensive neighborhoods in New York City, so it perhaps comes as no surprise that non-landmarked lots throughout the area are being snatched up and redeveloped for commercial or residential purposes. 30 Warren Street, which is currently wrapping up construction, is located on a northeastern corner of Church and Warren Streets. Designed by the Paris-based practice Post-Office Architectes, which was founded by The Ateliers Jean Nouvel alumni David Fagart, Line Fontana, and Francois Leininger, the new luxury condominium joins the scene with an ultra-high-performance concrete (UHPC) facade formed with corrugated cardboard. The approximately 50,000-square-foot project is located just outside of the official boundaries of the four historic districts within Tribeca. As a commercial center for the city in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the architectural makeup of the neighborhood is defined by Renaissance Revival masonry and cast-iron offices and warehouses, differing in scale according to their proximity to either the avenue or side street. For the architects, it was integral that the design of the new residential development stands on its own as a contemporary project while still paying reverence to the context with a mineral-based cladding. In terms of massing, the 12-story project rises on the entire footprint of the corner lot and sets back at the fifth floor in unison with the cornice line of the adjacent historic structures. The north elevation will eventually rise to two stories and will serve as a retail space.
Celebrated interior designer André Fu has completed a model apartment on the 36th floor of the new Jean Nouvel-designed 53 West 53 residential tower. Sitting adjacent to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and incorporating portions of its soon-to-open expansion, the new building soars high among a slew of super-tall and thin residential projects reshaping New York City's Midtown neighborhood. Accentuating the 2,000 square foot, 2-bedroom unit’s southern and eastern exposures, Fu and his Hong Kong-based design team implemented a scheme that is indicative of the practice’s recognized “relaxed luxury” aesthetic. However, the accolated talent still took stock of cultural nuances and was careful to juxtapose his design vocabulary with the building’s sharp features and the city’s dynamic skyline. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
In the heart of a historic Nabatean valley in Saudi Arabia, Pritzker-winning architect Jean Nouvel has been tapped to design a luxury resort. The desert region in question, called Al-Ula, is part of a nature reserve, but the Saudi crown prince is hoping to turn the beautiful desert landscape and its ancient architectural monuments into a vibrant tourist attraction. While the Nabateans were also the architects of the more well-known city of Petra, al-Ula has avoided the beaten path, until now. The proposed Sharaan resort will layer the sensitive landscape with luxury amenities—5 villas, 40 residential estates, and 25 bedroom suites are expected to be built by 2023, though plans have not yet been released by Nouvel. “I think that for an architect to build a project on such a site is a rare and wonderful opportunity,” Nouvel said in an article in Arab News. He commented on his unreleased design by saying, “I actually established the relation between history and modernity by using the region’s geographical nature, especially the rocks.” However, the resort is just the first piece of a mega project the Crown Prince has set in motion for the valley. The project designers, called the Royal Commission for Al-Ula (RCU), do claim to acknowledge a degree of sensitivity to both the environment and existing residents in the area. In addition to the Sharaan, a fund for the protection of the Arab leopard, an international scholarship program, and an open-ended program for the "protectors of the heritage of Al-Ula" are said to be included in the full plan for the valley. Upon completion, the project is expected to attract up to 2 million visitors to the site. Prince Badr said in a statement, "We are proud to be signing this agreement with a luxury operator who shares our vision of sensitive development that both works with and incorporates the local landscape and culture in a highly sympathetic manner.” However, as no definitive plans have been released yet, what measures the kingdom is taking to preserve the valley's environmental integrity are unknown. The resort system is expected to create up to 38,000 jobs, offering new opportunities for nearby residents, but the ancient valley seems poised for a seismic culture shift.
The opening of the Jean Nouvel–designed National Museum of Qatar, in Doha, Qatar, marks another step in the country’s mission to set itself apart from its neighbors and solidify its cultural position in the world. For one to understand the motivations behind the design and construction of the newly opened National Museum, one must first understand a bit about the geopolitical context that it has been built in. Like many of its neighbors in the Persian Gulf region, Qatar has been building at a pace and level of quality that is nearly unmatched in the world. Yet, unlike the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar is not building to attract tourists or even business interests. Since 1971, when Qatar gained its full independence from the British, it has worked to distinguish itself as a fully autonomous nation. The intensity of this drive has been amplified in the past few years by a series of events and political upheavals that have isolated the small country. In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt imposed economic and political embargoes on Qatar after years of growing tension over international trade and other international relations. In an act of defiance, Qatar countered by leaving the Gulf Region’s oil cartel, OPEC. These events have led to stronger internal support for Qatar’s ruling emir, who has taken a hard line with the blockading neighbors, and solidified the country’s resolve to stand culturally and economically independent from the region. The National Museum is designed and programmed specifically to display the country’s unique culture and history to international visitors and, perhaps more importantly, to Qataris. Broadly covering the nation’s natural and political history, exhibitions reach back tens of thousands of years through the discovery of oil and natural gas off the coast in the mid-20th century to explore what it means to be Qatari. Perhaps ironically though, Qataris only make up around 12 percent of Qatar’s of 2.7 million residents. The rest are foreigners, most of which are migrant service and construction workers. It remains to be seen whether a forthcoming planned gallery covering the country’s current events will highlight the immense contribution of migrants to the past decade of development. Notably, Qatar has been criticized for the use of underpaid labor and unsafe construction practices, particularly pertaining to the many 2022 World Cup stadiums currently under construction. Recent years have seen laws passed down directly from the emir to protect workers’ rights, and while progress has been made, some human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, say there are still issues to be addressed. Whether one argues the museum’s contents show a complete image of the nation or not, the building itself has a lot to say. Like many “signature” architecture projects, it may be the architecture of museum that will be most memorable for those who visit. A bombastic tour-de-force of engineering and construction, there is little argument about the visual impact of the project as a whole. Unapologetically designed to look like the crystalized mineral formation known as a desert rose, the museum is composed of dozens of large discs. Intersecting at various angles, the discs produce the facade, roof, walls, ceilings, apertures, and structure. Enable by engineering help from Gehry Technologies and ARUP, the geometric theme and is relentlessly executed. One is hard pressed to find any public facing spaces that are not completely shaped by the seemingly random arrangement of discs. There are no columns, no rectilinear apertures, no perpendicular intersections, and no flat ceilings. In many spaces even the floor ramps and bends in a choreographed play with the walls and ceiling. All artifacts and exhibition pieces are shown in the round, while the tilting walls are filled with carefully mapped projections of artist-made films. The effect is quite successful and makes for a strong retort to those who argue that museum walls should always be flat. The museum’s galleries are organized into an irregular crescent, which produces a large Baraha (courtyard) with the help of the 20th-century royal palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani, a cultural landmark in its own right. This outdoor room provides a new civic space able to accommodate thousands. This is an important aspect of the project, considering Doha lacks similar spaces, besides the main Souq, over a mile away. The museum’s position near the waterfront is also significant. While still separated by the city’s major traffic artery and a thin waterfront parkway, many of its neighbors are government or administrative buildings, which are cut off from the city by high security fences. In stark contrast to the oft-foreboding nature of the area, the museum’s grounds include large gardens designed by French landscape architect Michel Desvigne, and includes multiple children’s play areas, large desert plantings, and a lagoon complete with a monumental fountain sculpture by French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel. Despite the formal exuberance, many of the spaces have a similar feel, in part to the limited material, color, and building palette. This is to say, once you have seen part of the project, there are few surprises. The formal complexity does not translate into complexity in plan. For the most part the entire building is one path, even if that path is varied in width and direction. Each gallery intersects with the next with no hard thresholds or transitions. Occasionally, a change in ceiling height or a slant in the floor differentiate one gallery from the next, but overall the experience is generally consistent throughout the project. This is a bit disappointing considering the innumerable possibilities the project’s formal language implies. On the other hand, this may be excusable as the expressed goal of the museum is to present a clear vision of Qatar’s past and present. Though a few more moments of unexpected shortcuts, detours, or unique spaces could have been a pleasant release from the project’s surprisingly simple plan. The few places where relief can be found from the disc organization are in the gift shops, designed by Sydney-based Koichi Takada Architects. Riffing on the theme of desert rock formations, the shops take the shape of the Dahl Al Misfir (Cave of Light), a dramatic cave system in central Qatar. Undulating contoured wood walls push and pull, providing space for lighting and shelving, while the tall spaces reach up to irregularly shaped windows and skylights, mimicking the cave’s dramatic illumination. Takada is also responsible for two cafes and a restaurant in the project that all stick closer to the Nouvel design, while still departing from the strict aesthetics of the galleries. If the intent of the National Museum is to educate the Nation of Qatar and celebrate the work of the Qatari people, the message it sends is one of a proud young nation that is finding its place on the world stage while contending with less than friendly neighbors and has been shaped by a seemingly insatiable appetite for iconic buildings designed by A-list international architects. Along with the Arata Isozaki master-planned Education City, the OMA-designed National Library, and the I.M. Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art, this latest addition to this uncanny desert menagerie raises the bar for civic iconography with its structural and metaphorical gymnastics. For all these reasons the project seems to fit into its context perfectly, and in the same sense could be nowhere else.
A year after the Jean Nouvel–designed Louvre Abu Dhabi opened its doors in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District, a waterfront arts quarter with buildings from big-name architects, things aren’t entirely rosy. The Austrian steel engineering conglomerate Waagner-Biro, responsible for building the intricately latticed, double-layered dome over the museum, has reportedly declared insolvency due to their involvement in the project. Late payments and inflated costs on the approximately $90 million Louvre offshoot have forced Waagner-Biro to sell its subsidiaries in hope of remaining solvent. The 262-foot-wide dome is made up of almost 8,000 interlocking metal octagons, layered over each other in reference to the mashrabiya, a traditional Islamic sunscreen that shades while allowing air to pass through. The museum below the dome is a loose-knit collection of 23 gallery spaces that together form a layout closer to an open-air market typology than a traditional museum space. Nouvel has described the dome as “an oasis of light”—during the day, the sun filters in from above like starlight, and at night, the museum below causes the roof to glow from within. Waagner-Biro began in 1854 as a locksmith but has grown into a major player in architectural steel installation; the company constructed the spiraling roof of the Great Court in London’s British Museum and the dome of the Reichstag in Berlin. Unfortunately, after costs rose during the Louvre Abu Dhabi dome installation, Abu Dhabi refused to pay and forced Waagner-Biro to shoulder the difference. The firm’s daughter company, SBE Alpha AG, was declared insolvent on October 23 of this year and its financial woes have spread to the rest of the 1,300-employee company. Waagner-Biro has already sold its Waagner-Biro Austria Stage Systems AG subsidiary to Austrian entrepreneur Erhard Grossnigg for restructuring; the offshoot has handled stage engineering work at the Sydney Opera House and Berlin’s State Opera House in the past. While it remains to be seen if Waagner-Biro will be able to emerge from insolvency, that hasn’t been the only piece of bad news for the Louvre Abu Dhabi this week. Salvator Mundi, a portrait of Jesus allegedly painted by Leonardo da Vinci and sold for a record-breaking $450 million last November, has reportedly been feared as lost. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman purchased the painting with the intent of displaying it in the Louvre Abu Dhabi, but the September 18 unveiling date has passed without a peep from the prince. The fate of Salvator Mundi, whether it will be put on display in the new Louvre, or how it’s being cared for are now only known to the Saudi royal family.
Oil-rich cities of the Persian Gulf that fifty years ago were sleepy fishing and pearling villages have remade themselves into spectacles of architectural pomp in the 21st century as they seek to cement their geopolitical prominence. Cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi have become synonymous with the decadent post–Guggenheim Bilbao era in which municipalities have used spectacular architecture by brand-name architects to lend their locales international glamour, and the close concentration of rival states in the Persian Gulf has spawned a sort of starchitect arms race, with neighboring cities jockeying for aesthetic supremacy. Pritzker winners like Zaha Hadid have raced to the area to show off the full extent of their talents, despite reports of widespread abuse of construction workers. The National Museum of Qatar, designed by Ateliers Jean Nouvel, fits squarely in this moment, although it has not been associated with reports of labor abuses. When it opens in March, 2019, it will set a new benchmark for stylistic exuberance in the area. The design, an almost literal translation of desert rose sand formations, is dizzyingly intricate, almost unbelievable in its complexity. Nouvel said of the design in a statement: “Qatar has a deep rapport with the desert, with its flora and fauna, its nomadic people, its long traditions. To fuse these contrasting stories, I needed a symbolic element. Eventually, I remembered the phenomenon of the desert rose: crystalline forms, like miniature architectural events, that emerge from the ground through the work of wind, salt water, and sand." The 430,000-square-foot institution will house displays that tell the story of Qatar's rise from its deep geological history to its cosmopolitan present. Displays will emphasize the power of the Qatari royal family, showing the nation's history culminating "in the very heart of Qatari national identity, the thoroughly restored Palace of Sheikh Abdullah," according to Qatar Museums, the state organization led by Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani focused on promoting Qatari culture. Iwan Baan, the photographer-par-excellence of architecture's millennial gilded age, has captured the nearly-completed building in images that testify to the architects' ability to realize the bedeviling design. This is not Nouvel's first foray into the area. His Louvre Abu Dhabi, another daring dish design, opened last year in that United Arab Emirates capital city. Museums by Frank Gehry and Norman Foster were scheduled to join Nouvel's work there, but construction on those projects appears to have been indefinitely delayed. The National Museum of Qatar joins I.M. Pei's Museum of Islamic Art, OMA's Qatar National Library, and Nouvel's own Burj Doha in Doha, Qatar's capital city. The country is in the midst of a construction boom as it prepares to host the 2022 World Cup.
Meet the incubators and accelerators producing the new guard of design and architecture start-ups. This is part of a series profiling incubators and accelerators from our April 2018 Technology issue. Trimble-owned Gehry Technologies (GT) launched a three-month design-and-technology-focused accelerator program called ZeroSixty that is geared toward helping a new generation of innovators revolutionize project delivery across the AEC industry. The accelerator program will help start-ups based out of its Marina del Rey, California, offices to “build and scale” their services by connecting new entrepreneurs with “people, networks, and technologies,” according to the company. The effort is aimed at turning back the increasingly common trend among mega-projects of being over budget and behind schedule. ZeroSixty comes three years after software developer Trimble purchased GT in an effort to integrate and disseminate innovations in technology-driven project delivery across its various platforms. GT was originally founded in 2002 by Frank Gehry and his team at Gehry Partners to adapt techniques from the aerospace and automotive industries and apply them to the firm’s most complex building projects. In the years since, the group has worked on a variety of challenging projects across the world for various high-profile architects, including the Beijing National Stadium with Herzog & de Meuron and the Louvre Abu Dhabi with the Ateliers Jean Nouvel. ZeroSixty was founded by German Aparicio and Lucas Reames, both GT veterans, earlier this year and is currently accepting applications for its first cohort of companies. “The idea is to help entrepreneurs scale their products and services by leveraging our past experiences, field expertise, and client base while continuously seeking to innovate,” Aparicio said. The GT team has always been at the forefront of this niche within the AEC industry, including back in the early 2000s when, working on the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, they were among the first to utilize virtual reality visualizations for on-site construction. Now, Trimble and ZeroSixty seek to build upon this legacy by focusing on new AEC-related applications for emerging technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and data analytics. “These technologies offer the opportunity to provide greater insights using a data-driven approach to project delivery and increase the quality and efficiencies of our industry,” Aparicio explained. With ZeroSixty and its no-equity support for emerging practices, Trimble has its eyes firmly set on building the future. Aparicio added, “These technologies promise to create services on the web that can be used on demand to automate everyday tasks so designers, project managers, contractors, and facility operators can focus on the more interesting or important part of their everyday lives.”
New York-based Gluckman Tang Architects has released their master plan for Western Gateway Heritage State Park (Heritage Park), an integral piece of the larger redevelopment in North Adams, Massachusetts. The proposal links the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), the restored waterfront, Main Street, and the site of Frank Gehry's future Extreme Model Railroad Museum (EMRCAM). The project is part of a larger "cultural corridor" that ultimately hopes to bring the Bilbao effect to this corner of Massachusetts. The plan breaks up Heritage Park into three distinct plazas connected by walking paths. Each area revitalizes the historic industrial buildings within while better connecting to other parts of the city. The North Plaza will contain a new amphitheater, while the Central Plaza will hold a grove of birch trees and outdoor seating. The South Plaza will help orient visitors to Gehry's railroad museum. Originally slated for a 14,000-square-foot, 19th century warehouse inside the park, the Gluckman Tang-designed EMRCAM was scrapped for a 75,000-square-foot Gehry design elsewhere. Featuring architectural dioramas by Gehry himself and Zaha Hadid, the new museum will be located across the street from the MASS MoCA. Gluckman Tang will be converting the original park building into a Museum of Time and add another 6,000 square feet, a glazed entryway and a steep butterfly roof. Other than the museum, Gluckman Tang has also proposed converting a 3,250-square-foot coal hopper into a distilling hall, complete with a new 4,000-square-foot retail space and tasting room. “In addition to improving the experience for visitors to North Adams, our master plan will enhance the central role of the city in the Cultural Corridor and its anchor institutions, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA) and The Clark Art Institute,” said Gluckman Tang principal Richard Gluckman. One question left unanswered is how Jean Nouvel will factor into the evolution of North Adams. The French architect was reportedly in consideration to master plan the city as of last year, but news of his involvement has been scant since then. Leading the redevelopment initiative and museum complex is Thomas Krens, former director of the Guggenheim Foundation. Krens has a storied history with Nouvel, and it seems the architect’s ideas will make it into the master plan in one way or another.
After more than four years of construction, Jean Nouvel’s Louvre Abu Dhabi will finally open to the public on November 11. Images of the ambitious project, spanned by a 262-foot latticed, double-skinned dome, have been released for the first time ahead of the full opening. Joining Frank Gehry’s troubled Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and museum projects by Zaha Hadid, Tadao Ando and other big name studios, Nouvel’s Louvre is the first completed building on the Saadiyat Island Cultural District. The French architect expressed hope that the museum, sited on the wetland island’s coast, would pay respect to the surrounding environment as well as the cultural history of both France and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). “The Louvre Abu Dhabi becomes the final destination of an urban promenade, a garden on the coast, a cool haven, a shelter of light during the day and evening, its aesthetic consistent with its role as a sanctuary for the most precious works of art,” said Nouvel. Referencing Arab architectural traditions, the project’s radiating dome is composed of nearly 8,000 interlocking metal octagons layered over each other to form a perforated shading system. Shading visitors during the day and shining from below at night, Nouvel called the roof “an oasis of light.” Protected from the elements, the public spaces below will host a rotating selection of pieces specifically commissioned for the museum. Layering patterned partitions is nothing new for Nouvel, whose Burj Doha in Qatar similarly took advantage of the mashrabiya, an Islamic screen designed to keep occupants cool during the summer months. The galleries themselves are a collection of squat, white cubic volumes with ceiling heights that vary from room to room and an irregularly-spaced paneling design that permeates inside to the display areas. This “museum city” totals 23 gallery spaces across 6,400 square meters (21,000 square feet), as well as a children’s museum, auditorium, restaurant and merchandise shops. The floor tiling calls back to Ottoman-era mosaic design, including a “stone carpet” in one of the gallery spaces. The museum's first exhibition, From One Louvre to Another: Opening a Museum for Everyone, will open on December 21st and display 18th century artwork from the opening of the original Musée du Louvre in Paris alongside modern pieces.