The season got off to wet and windy start with the launch of Urban Design Week. We started in Brooklyn and while the opening of Brooklyn Bridge Park's Jane's Carousel wasn't on the official agenda, there were plenty architecture world heavyweights in attendance. AN's Julie Iovine got there early to chat with the architect of the carousel's pavilion, Jean Nouvel. Later, we popped over to the BMW Guggenheim Lab and with minutes to spare even got to hear a lecture over at the Neighborhood Preservation Center.
Posts tagged with "Jean Nouvel":
The man in black designing a Merry-Go-Round seems a jarring fit. But out on the Brooklyn waterfront buffeted by winds on a raw point between the muscular grandeur of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, Nouvel seems just the right man to insinuate something as delicate as a life-size interactive music box into a setting as tough as the Brooklyn waterfront. The contrasts were not lost on the architect who said shortly before the ribbon-cutting today that he wanted to make a shelter for the 1922 carousel that was “a little tender but not too cute and with a feeling for the poetry of the situation.” His original dream was to encase it all in glass but getting down to a more realistic budget, acrylic glass turned out to offer something even more interesting and close to the architect’s temperament: distortions. He dismissed concerns—shared by the client it turns out—that the acrylic would scratch and yellow: “That’s the old acrylic,” he said.
Jean Nouvel feels like his MoMA Tower has been put under the guillotine. The starchitect behind the lopped-off Midtown Manhattan proposal told CBS News this weekend that "It's very French to cut the head, eh?" His 75-story tower would have rivaled the Empire State Building for supremacy over the New York skyline, standing 1,250 feet tall, but met significant opposition from neighbors worried the tower would drown their street in shadow. City Planning Commission officials voted earlier this year to allow a shortened version of the tower - chopping off 200 feet of the Pritzker Prize winner's design. Nouvel's vision has been sent back to the drawing boards, but he says it's "not in his character" to feel discouraged. Be sure to check out AN's cameo appearance at the end of the interview.
Increasingly, the architects chosen each year to design the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London hail from a pool of the usual suspects. This past summer, it was Jean Nouvel. SANAA, and Frank Gehry ran up the mast in 2009 and 2008 respectively. The 2011 pavilion, we hear, will be by Swiss mystic architect, Peter Zumthor. There’s certainly abiding fascination in a series of heavyweights forced to design a lightweight structure on the double-quick (about six months) but the young and restless might actually have more to explore and certainly more to gain than the big names. Then again, more than most, Zumthor has maintained his mystique as an architect. Lightweight he is not: For the 2002 Venice architecture biennale, he submitted a six ton concrete model of his Cologne museum that was too hefty to be contained in the vast Arsenale.
Fresh from landing the commission for the Serpentine Gallery’s annual summer pavilion in London, French architect Jean Nouvel was in New York yesterday for the official unveiling of the new National Museum in Doha, Qatar. Designed as a ring of low-lying, interlocking pavilions encircling a large courtyard, the 430,000-square-foot structure is created from sand-colored disks that define floors, walls, and roofs, almost as if growing out of the desert landscape. The inspiration for this poetic construction was the desert rose, a formation of crystallized mineral petals found in the briny layers just beneath the desert surface. “It is a kind of architecture in itself already,” Nouvel told AN at the project launch at the Museum of Modern Art. “It surprises you, it is a mystery that nature can create such a thing--and I like architecture that is mysterious, that makes you wonder.” The bladelike petals became the starting point for a monumental building that unfolds “in a rhythm of asymmetry,” according to Nouvel. The disks are of varying curvature and diameter, made of steel and clad in glass fiber reinforced concrete panels. Columns concealed within the vertical disks carry the loads of the horizontal members, while glazed facades fill the voids between them. Built for the Qatar Museums Authority, the museum will address three major themes in its exhibits: the natural history of the Qatar peninsula, the country’s social and cultural history, and the history of Qatar as a nation. Within the 12 permanent gallery spaces, exhibits will feature architectural artifacts, jewelry, and costumes, as well as displays about the modern oil industry and the region’s rapid urbanization. The new pavilion, which Nouvel also described as a modern-day caravanserai, will adjoin the Amiri Palace, a historic structure that has served as a museum of heritage since 1975. A landscaped park that interprets the Qatari desert landscape will surround the ensemble. Groundbreaking is set for this spring, with completion scheduled for 2013. When AN asked which of his current projects has inspired him the most, Nouvel hesitated, saying he has many “babies in his belly.” However, the Qatar museum appeared to be the front-runner. “This project is very exciting, because it fits exactly here and now,” Nouvel said. “It’s ici, et maintenant.”
A group of Midtown residents and concerned citizens, many from the West 54th/55th Street Block Association, have been the leading opponents of Jean Nouvel's MoMA tower. They have been very vocal during hearings at Landmarks and, just a few weeks ago, City Planning Commission. Now, The Coalition for Responsible Midtown Development, as the group is calling itself, have launched a website, no2moma.com. There, they succinctly recast their previous opposition to the project--light & shadows, traffic & congestion, out-sized & ugly--as well as presenting a six minute documentary that makes the group's best case yet. Our favorite part is the clip above, where the Nouvel tower rises, Frankenstein-like, from "a lot no bigger than a McDonald's drive-thru." The full video is after the jump, but, given statements made by some commissioners during a meeting Monday, all this flash and frustration may be too little too late. At the very end of Monday's scheduled City Planning Commission meeting, the commissioners held an impromptu discussion of the project they were presented at the hearing two weeks ago. Impromptu because the full discussion, and likely the vote, will all come at the next scheduled meeting on the matter September 9. Still, the commissioners are clearly struck by this project, it's Pritzker Prize-winning architect, its heavyweight patron, its skyline-altering design. But as before, the discussion centered on the design and not its surrounding impact, which is the overwhelming concern of the tower's opposition. Asked by fellow commissioner Kenneth Knuckles how she would be voting on the project, chair Amanda Burden gamely demurred, saying she was withholding judgment until the actual vote. And yet at the same time, she seemed to be leaning strongly in favor of the project. "We're an optimistic city, we're a skyscraper city, so this project would not be out of place" Burden said. "It must be iconic, it must be distinguished. To get to that height in the sky, it's got to be great. I don't have a problem with the height. But let's see it, and see where it falls with the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building and if it deserves it." Burden added, underscoring the commission's concern with preserving the building as designed over other issues, "It's very important how we memorialize and freeze critical design elements." This way, the commissioners believe, and the applicant, Hines, seems to agree, Nouvel's tower and nothing else would or even could be built there. It's a valid concern (see: Frank Gehry, Atlantic Yards), but for the building's neighbors nowhere near the top of the list. Perhaps the coalition should have brought this video with them last month, as it might have helped sway the commission in its favor. Then again, there's always the City Council, where Speaker Christine Quinn, in whose district the project lies, has yet to take a position. Perhaps she's more of a cinephile than Burden. The coalition had better hope so.
After both impressing and frustrating the Landmarks Preservation Commission last year, Jean Nouvel's Torre de Verre is making its way through the public review process in order to secure a few zoning variance to allow the funky Moma-ttached tower to be built. Curbed reports the tower was panned by the local community board (it's a largely symbolic vote, however), but the most striking thing to us was this new rendering, which shows how the now-1,250-foot tower would look from Central Park. Quelle horror!