Posts tagged with "Joshua Prince-Ramus":

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First look: REX’s sleek retrofit of Brutalist 5 Manhattan West

REX has bestowed a shiny new skin on a late Brutalist office building that was, until recently, one of the ugliest buildings in Manhattan. Up until the renovation, the building was known as the elephant's foot, in dubious honor of a horrific 1980s renovation that left the elegant concrete structure clad in brown metal panels and beige paint. Now called 5 Manhattan West, the building has undergone yet another makeover, spearheaded by REX, to update its facade with the latest in form-fitting fenestration. The Brooklyn-based firm ultimately devised a pleated glass facade that ripples down the building like a stretched ziggurat to flood the large, open interiors with light. These pleats are composed of panels angling out toward each other from the floor and ceiling, a design driven by the need to mitigate the structure’s slope, which limited the leasable space along the interior perimeter. But the unique form is more than just window dressing. According to Joshua Prince-Ramus, REX's founding principal, “What’s interesting about the geometry is that the sun doesn’t hit the lower piece of glass, so we can have a building that is transparent and simultaneously energy efficient." Prince-Ramus praised REX's client, Brookfield, for its holistic approach to sustainability that centered reuse—not just LEED-level performance. "In our lifetimes, adaptive reuse is going to be the stuff from which we make 'capital A Architecture,'" he said. The pleating also complied with ADA standards for head strike, allowing for uninterrupted exterior views while maximizing tenants' floorspace, and allowed the designers to rigorously test the concrete from the 1960s, which was cast using different standards from today. The structural maneuvering honestly exposed concrete from Davis Brody's (now Davis Brody Bond) original design, a move that was especially evident on the east-west breezeway. The renovation was done with tenants in place, on a feverish nights-and-weekends schedule. Although some floors have yet to welcome new tenants like J.P. Morgan Chase and Amazon, 5 Manhattan West's common spaces and outdoor areas by James Corner Field Operations are largely complete. The squat, 1.7-million-square-foot structure features ground level retail, a two-story elevated breezeway on the southern side, and a full interior renovation, with open floor plates ranging from 86,000 to 124,000 square feet (no, that's not a typo). With ceiling heights from 15 to 17.5 feet, the super-sized office spaces allow the old-new building to compete with Hudson Yards' office spaces, which feature large, and largely column-free, interiors. Adamson served as executive architect for the $350 million project. The 5 Manhattan West re-clad slots the office building squarely into Brookfield Office Properties’ Manhattan West development. Bounded by Ninth Avenue to Tenth Avenue and 31st Street to 33rd Street, Manhattan West encompasses nearly six million square feet across six buildings.
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REX to impress with just-released design of the WTC Performing Arts Center

Today, REX’s design for the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center was revealed before an eager audience of architects, press, developers, and New York City patrons of the arts. “Downtown is back as a premier place for business," said Larry Silverstein, co-founder of Silverstein Properties, a major stakeholder in the World Trade Center site. "There is 10 million square feet of office space replacing what was destroyed on 9/11, and there are 25,000 workers in that space. The neighborhood has become a model of what is best and most exciting about New York. Daniel Liebskind's master plan for the area balanced commemorative function with the need to create a vibrant neighborhood. The performing arts center is an integral part of that and will bring a new dynamic to downtown." Maggie Boepple, president and director of the Perelman Center, noted that the group met with over 200 people—artists, neighbors, and critics—to determine what type of performing space the city most wanted. The resulting program translates the need for flexibility into mutable performance spaces that can be endlessly configured, explained Joshua Prince-Ramus, founding principal of REX. His team created a translucent marble box with a creamy amber pattern straight from a grandmother’s snakeskin purse but with all the requisite gravitas for a building on hallowed ground. “The light comes out like a beacon,” the eponymous Perelman gushed. "[The center] is a simple, pure form that creates a mystery box, defying [visitors'] expectations," Prince-Ramus said. At the intersection of Greenwich and Fulton, and perpendicular to Calatrava's PATH station, the three-story building is "an exciting pop" that dialogues with the entry to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, he noted. The facade is made of the same Vermont marble used for the Jefferson Memorial and the recently-refurbished Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, but the Perelman Center's stone will be sliced thinly and laminated between two layers of glass to improve the structure's performance. Like a magic show, architects from REX's team lined up to pull the model apart, layer by layer, as Prince-Ramus detailed its functions. Visitors enter the coffered main lobby (level one) through a staircase that spills from a steep cut at the top of a 21-foot plinth. The top floor, the Play Level, is comprised of four main auditoria—with 499, 250, and 99-person capacities, plus a smaller flex space—whose acoustic guillotine walls have “an endless number of permutations [for the artistic director to create] that we can’t even predict, and that’s incredibly exciting.” The renderings and diagrams in the gallery above depict some possible arrangements and circulations. The Performer Level, level two, is the building's support area, with practice spaces, dressing rooms, costume shop, and green rooms for performers. In most theaters, these spaces receive scant light; in REX's design, the translucent marble facade allows natural light in. AN spoke with Sebastian Hofmeister and Vaidas Vaiciulis, two REX architects on the project. The layered model took three or four weeks to make, "and at the end, even Joshua was gluing a few pieces on," they said. This video by David Langford (link here) takes viewers through the site, and inside the model, while the section GIF below shows visitor flow through the building: Brooklyn-based REX is collaborating with Threshold Acoustics consultants from Chicago and theater designer Andy Hales of Charcoalblue (the same firm that collaborated with Marvel Architects on the recently opened St. Ann’s Warehouse in DUMBO).  The 90,000-square-foot building's design changed “remarkably little” between concept and execution, Boepple said, except to allow for additional security measures. Due in large part to a $75 million donation from its namesake board member, the Perelman Center has raised $175 million of its $250 million projected cost, with $99 million of the funds coming from HUD regeneration money dispensed through the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC). The center is expected to open in 2020. For more images and information, visit theperelman.org.
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Joshua Prince-Ramus exhibition at the Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning

Founder of REX and a founding partner of OMA New York, Joshua Prince-Ramus was awarded the $100,000 Marcus Prize last September by the Milwaukee-based Marcus Corporation Foundation. According to the jury, the prize was awarded for REX’s “exuberant yet carefully considered designs, [which] possess a broader cultural significance.”

Celebrating this achievement, Prince-Ramus’s work and notorious hyper-rationalist methodology will be on display at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning until May 6, 2016. Here, visitors can find examples of notable works such as the Seattle Central Library, Vakko Fashion Center, AT&T Performing Arts Center, Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, and 5 Manhattan West.

Alongside these works will be details of REX’s process-oriented approach to design. This will include how a schematic rationale plays a key role in every project REX undertakes, hence forming purely functional-based buildings—something that is reflected in its aesthetic in unexpected ways.

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REX reigns as lead architect for World Trade Center Performing Arts Center

Brooklyn-based architecture firm REX will design the approximately 80,000 square foot Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center (PAC). The PAC will produce and show theater, music, musical theater, dance, film, and opera. The commission was previously given to Frank Gehry over a decade ago. “We are honored to design such a meaningful project on a site imbued with deep significance for the people of New York,” Joshua Prince-Ramus, REX's principal, said in a statement. “I am confident that our collaboration with PAC's exceptional team will help create a building that embodies and inspires the many dimensions of creative expression." REX topped a shortlist comprised of Copenhagen's Henning Larsen and Amsterdam's UNStudio. PAC Chairman John Zuccotti and President/Director Maggie Boepple selected the Brooklyn-based firm to design the project, although designs have yet to be released. Last week, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) released $10 million of a pledged $99 million for the construction of the new venue. The project may cost more, but the difference will be made up through private donations. REX will collaborate with Davis Brody Bond (designers of the National 9/11 Memorial Museum), theater consultants Charcoalblue, and project managers DBI on the project. The PAC has gone through a few design selection cycles. In 2013, Frank Gehry was selected to build the center, but his proposal was downsized, and ultimately scrapped. The new venue is slated to open in 2019.
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REX unveils a fluted glass office building in Washington, D.C.

As the United States capital,Washington, D.C. is a de facto magnet for smart people who want to make an impact on government. The city doesn't often make headlines for its contemporary architecture, though occasionally, a sharp new project breaks into the parade of undistinguished office buildings. One of those is a newly unveiled 11-story structure by Brooklyn-based REX at 2050 M Street, between Washington and Dupont Circles. While the client is Tishman Speyer, CBS will be the 400,000-square-foot building's primary tenant. The project's executive architect is Houston's Kendall/Heaton. The building responds to D.C.'s strict zoning codes and its prevailing office building typologies: the Neoclassical, Beaux Arts, or Brutalist box, and the smooth, soulless glass box. Zoning requires buildings to have similar height and mass, but do not regulate, or encourage, aesthetic harmony. As a result, statement buildings with similar width and height, but widely divergent styles, compete for attention. To reconcile this peculiarity, REX's building combines the mass of a stately Neoclassical building with a transparent, fluted glass facade. According to REX, the facade is comprised of "nine hundred identical, insulated-glass panels—11.5 feet tall by 5 feet wide—are subtly curved to a 9.5 foot radius through a heat roller tempering process." The floor-to-ceiling "mullion-less" windows allow sightlines that extend through the interior. The result is an exterior that catches light at regular but unexpected angles and throws pleasantly distorted images of its neighbors back at the viewer. To offset the rigidity of glass, the lobby is clad in decidedly non-vegan cowhide, and is large enough to accommodate a site-specific sculpture by an as-yet-unnamed artist. When it is complete in 2019, 2050 M Street hopes to achieve LEED Gold certification. See the gallery below for more images of the project. 2015 was a successful year for REX. In September, principal Joshua Prince-Ramus won the Marcus Prize. The biannual honor (and cash prize) is given to an architect "on a trajectory of greatness." As part of his Marcus Prize acceptance, Prince-Ramus will teach a graduate studio on adaptive reuse at University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee School of Architecture this Spring.
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Architect Joshua Prince-Ramus the first American to claim the $100,000 Marcus Prize

Joshua Prince-Ramus, principal at the New York firm REX Architecture, has won the prestigious biennial Marcus Prize, claiming $100,000 in the process. He is the first American to receive the distinction. Bob Greenstreet, dean of the School of Architecture & Urban Planning at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, which administers the award, commented: "He is headed to the pantheon of greatness...and yet his ideas are still evolving." In 2008, Esquire magazine went so far as to dub Prince-Ramus the "savior of American architecture." Prince-Ramus focuses on efficiency in his projects, outlining the need for architecture to achieve its functional purpose. To accomplish this he identifies the basics, what the building really needs to do. Arranging these components, he creates analytical models which in turn gradually form the building blocks of the structure. From here Prince-Ramus can now focus on making these components work together and actually move on from the concept. This process can be seen in the gallery below. During one of his TED Talks, Prince-Ramus said, "It's time for architecture to do things again, not just represent things," further indicating that the functional requirements of clients should be a priority for contemporary architects, voicing his apathy for the profession to be seen as an art.
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REX’s Joshua Prince-Ramus Unwraps His Approach to Facade Design

Joshua Prince-Ramus, principal at REX, has a bone to pick with modernism and its legacy. “For the last 100 years, architecture’s been involved in a silly tension between form and function,” he said. While high modernism privileged function over form, some of today’s top designers argue that architecture is about aesthetics and not much else. REX has a different take: architecture, the firm claims, is both function and form. “We really believe that architecture can do things. It’s not just a representational art form,” said Prince-Ramus. “We talk about performance. Aesthetics are part of performance [as is function.]” Prince-Ramus, who will deliver the afternoon keynote address at next week’s facades+PERFORMANCE New York conference, approaches facade design as an integral part of the design process as a whole. That process, in turn, revolves around a concept he calls agenda. “We set out in our projects to figure out what the project’s agenda should be, then we set out to delimit the constraints,” he said. “Then we try to find the embodiment of the agenda that will fit seamlessly within those constraints.” REX’s current projects include a pair of headquarters buildings for sister media companies in the Middle East. The stone-clad towers are covered in retractable sunshades that reference a traditional Arab Mashrabiya pattern. As an example of how constraints can influence facade design, Prince-Ramus cited the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre in Dallas. REX (with OMA) slashed the project’s envelope budget in order to build a theater that changes shape to suit different arts events. The money they were left with, said Prince-Ramus, was about what standard aluminum siding would cost—so they started there. “We made a dummy design where we spent a lot of effort trying to not design something aesthetically, but that we’d put it out to the market and uncover what in the market drove costs,” he said. In Dallas that turned out to be weight, since frequent hail storms require thick siding. REX/OMA developed a facade system of extruded tubes that would protect against hailstones while minimizing the amount of aluminum required. “We made something that was very beautiful and very unique,” said Prince-Ramus. “Certainly if we’d come back to the client with flat aluminum siding they would have said, ‘Put the money back into the facade.'...The success of the facade is why we were able to build a building that’s renowned for its ability to transform.” While the Wyly Theatre facade was shaped by financial constraints, the client’s particular vision informed the envelope for the Mercedes Benz Future Center in Stuttgart. “Part of the collective agenda was that the building should be very transparent, as opposed to museums, which tend to be very cloistered,” said Prince-Ramus. But the automaker also wanted the Future Center, which will display its vision for the future of automobile technology, to be “a beacon for sustainability.” REX’s current solution (which may change as the design develops) is to create a curtain-like sunshade that wraps around the all-glass building. The shade is opaque on one side of the building and nearly transparent on the other, and rotates with the sun’s movements. The curtain is a metaphor for the unknowability of the future: Prince-Ramus recalled the uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics, which says that it is impossible to simultaneously determine the value of certain variables. “The more you know of one, the less you know of others,” he said. “In discussions about the future, that idea seemed really inherent in what they’re doing [at Mercedes Benz].” Whatever the origin of a particular facade design, for Prince-Ramus it always comes back to performance, the standard that for him encapsulates both function and aesthetics. “The more we’ve used the word performance, the more I’m convinced it does have that dual meaning,” he said. “When [they] talk about a high-performance auto, they don’t just mean it goes from 0 to 60 in 3.2 seconds. They mean it’s sexy, too.” To hear Joshua Prince-Ramus speak next week, visit the facades+PERFORMANCE New York conference website.
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Museum Plaza Developers Scrap Plans for Tower

The first line of a press statement sent out by developers of the REX-designed Museum Plaza tower in Louisville, Kentucky put it bluntly: "Museum Plaza will not be built." The 62-story hyper-rational tower—part kunsthalle museum, part residential and commercial hub, part art school—was hoped to signal the rejuvenation of the city's urban core, but like so many iconic buildings proposed in the days leading up to the great recession, the vision succumbed to the realities of the financial markets. Original plans set forth in early 2006 called for a modern art museum on the 23rd floor, accessed by a diagonal funicular, to form the hub between hotel, residential, and office space. A massive park atop a parking garage, originally designed by West 8 Landscape Architects and then turned over to artist Ned Kahn formed the plaza. Construction actually began in 2008 but halted abruptly as foundation work caused dangerous vibrations in surrounding 1850s era cast-iron buildings. While plans were reworked, financing fell through and the project has languished ever since, remaining little more than a few dozen capped piles at the bottom of a large pit. The site, located along the Ohio River between an interstate highway and a flood wall, complicated construction and was described by Joshua Prince-Ramus, principal at REX, as a "bath tub." Last year, the project team applied for a $100 million federal loan from the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Section 108 program, but the team formally withdrew its request this morning. Developers Craig Greenberg, Laura Lee Brown, Steve Wilson, and Steve Poe remained optimistic that the project could ride out the recession, but in a statement and letter to the Mayor of Louisville and Governor of Kentucky this morning, the team put forth a more sober outlook: "Through this process we have endured four years of the worst recession of our lifetime and the most challenging lending market ever. There are no signs of improvement in the near future... we painfully decided that this project could not be built in this economy." The development team is leaving Museum Plaza behind, and is now shifting its attention to a group of five mid-19th century former whiskey warehouses that they saved from demolition.
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Architects with Altitude

Witold Rybczynski, smart writer, stupid article. Last Thursday, Slate's respected architecture critic weighed in with the dubious notion that the shorter in height, the greater the architect. This silly notion has gone viral on the web, and we felt it was our job to rebut it with some tall figures. Here they are.