Posts tagged with "MAD Architects":

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MAD Architects transforms a house into a playful, airy kindergarten

Beijing-based MAD Architects has completed work on the new Clover House kindergarten, the firm’s first project in Japan. The project deconstructs an existing catalog home, peeling away everything except its structure in order to expand the building’s footprint. Located in the Aichi Prefecture of central Japan, the school is operated by a pair of brothers who wanted to establish a facility that could be as comfortable as a home. MAD Architects principal Ma Yansong cites this impetus as the project's driving force, explaining in a press release, “It was important to create a kindergarten that felt like a home, and give the kids the best possible house to grow up in, one that promotes their learning and creativity.” The new bulbous, faceted structure billows around the preserved structural frame, which is now an informal space divider. One corner of the new house swoops down as it meets a new catenary-arched entrance while a second-floor slide descends onto an expansive playground. The interior spaces of the school weave through and climb over the remains of the existing home, with staircases bringing classrooms and play spaces onto what would have been the roof of the existing building. As with MAD Architects’ recent Xinhee Design Center in Beijing, China, the designers were inspired by the analogous relationship between bones and flesh that the existing beams and new covering reproduce: The roughly-hewn beams of the existing house play against the smooth blonde wood and gypsum articulation of the new interior spaces. The new skin, soft with plaster, is punched through by geometrically-shaped windows flood that flood the interior with light. Outside, the monolithic exterior is clad in white vernacular asphalt shingles.
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MAD Architects reveals plans for Xinhee Design Center in Beijing

Beijing-based MAD Architects have revealed designs for a roughly 657,000 square foot (61,000 square meter) headquarters for Chinese clothing designer and manufacturer Xinhee Group. In their designs for the massive headquarters, the architects utilized the fashion group’s multi-brand corporate structure as a guiding principle, designing a six-lobed complex of buildings joined at a central atrium. Each lobe of the radially-organized plan houses one of the company’s six clothing brands, creating a unified whole from discrete working parts. In a meeting with AN last month, MAD Founding Principal Ma Yansong relayed the inspiration behind the center as a blend between pragmatism and nature, with many of the aspects of the building pulling double-duty socially and environmentally. For example, the central atrium—which connects the various arms and employees of the company—allows the group to host grand fashion shows while simultaneously acting as a massive solar chimney for the building. It pulls cool air from ground-level gardens up through the structure, carrying away heat and exhaust along the way. The structure’s sinuous floor plates seemingly dance around central cores contained within each of the six building sections. These floor plates vary in size and proportion across the complex, with some of the upper floors pulled back from the sloped facade, creating internal double- and triple-height spaces. The resulting array of stacked levels is clad in large sections of PTFE curtain wall panels that introduce dappled light. In the process, the PTFE makes the building appear lighter than it actually is. Yansong elaborated in a press release for the project, stating “It’s interesting for a building with such an intrinsically logical structure to look floating and free.” Though renderings for the project have just been released, the Xinhee Design Center is currently under construction and is expected to be operational sometime in 2017.
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Chicago battles to keep George Lucas from moving his Museum of Narrative Art elsewhere

The saga of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is nothing less than epic. The proposed museum has had the distinction of raising (or lowering) the dialogue of an architectural project to the level of personal attacks and federal court hearings in two cities. The project’s first proposed location on public land in San Francisco fell through when the city refused to lease the land to the would-be private museum. That was over two years ago. The next proposal was a complete 180-degree turn with a new design and location on the shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago. Since that proposal, the road has been anything but smooth, and now the entire project is threatening to move to another city, once again.

The first obstacle the project faced was the court of public opinion. Designed by the Beijing-based MAD Architects, the original iteration of the project was called “needlessly massive” and “jarringly off-key” by Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin, and “defacing the city’s lakefront as much as any teenager with a can of spray paint” by Greg Hinz of Crain’s Chicago. That is not is to say that the museum has not had its proponents. Most notably, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been outspoken in his support of bringing and keeping the museum in Chicago. (Many would say to a fault.) Other public figures have spoken in favor of the museum, including Civil Rights advocates Father Michael Pfleger and Reverend Jesse Jackson.

As MAD’s design developed, the building shrank in size and a more landscaped park by Chicago-based Studio Gang was added. This went a long way in appeasing those skeptical of the project, but it would not be enough to avoid the wrath of the museum’s most vocal opponent, Friends of the Parks (FOTP). The nonprofit public space advocacy group has taken its grievances to court, and so far has seen some success. In February, a federal judge agreed to hear the case, rejecting the city’s appeal to have it dismissed. FOTP’s argument is based on the Lakefront Protection Ordinance, which restricts and regulates building on lakefront. The ordinance states that its purpose is “To insure that the lakefront parks and the lake itself are devoted only to public purposes and to insure the integrity of and expand the quantity and quality of the lakefront parks.” The city argues that as the project has been approved by the Building Commission, the body that maintains the Lakefront Protection Ordinance, the project should be allowed to move forward.

In a response to FOTP’s lawsuit, advocates for the museum point out that the museum is planned to take the place of a 1,500-car parking lot for the NFL’s Soldier Field. This has led to an oft-repeated ad hominem nickname, Friends of the Parking (Lot). It has also been argued that all of the other museums along the lakefront, just north of the proposed site, are privately owned and run. These include the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium—all of which have notably been started with private investment from individuals.

Now entrenched in a slow-moving legal battle, the 71-year-old George Lucas is getting anxious to begin building. With construction originally slated to begin in early 2016, and completion expected in 2018, a protracted court case is making the original plan unlikely. In what is being described as a last ditch Hail Mary to keep the museum from moving to yet another city, Mayor Emanuel announced an alternative location mid-April. The new plan calls for the demolition of the Gene Summers and Helmut Jahn–designed McCormick Place Lakeside Center. The much-derided modernist convention center is part of the larger McCormick Place Convention Center and has a lease for the lakefront location through 2042. Part of the appeal of the original proposal was that Lucas was going to cover the $750 million cost out of his own pocket. It is estimated that demolishing Lakeside Center and moving the convention space into a new space would cost an additional $1.2 billion. This would involve some fancy finance work, the extension of a handful of taxes currently due to expire, and the involvement of the state legislator. If only for the reason that the Illinois state government is intractably locked in partisan gridlock, unable to make any financial decisions, most are calling this plan a long shot.

Shortly after the new site was proposed, FOTP announced that they would oppose any building on the lakefront, even if it was on the current site of the McCormick Place. In response, Mellody Hobson, a native Chicagoan and wife of George Lucas, released a statement blasting FOTP and announcing the couple was actively searching for new sites outside of Chicago. She closed the statement with, “If the museum is forced to leave, it will be because of the Friends of the Parks and that is no victory for anyone.” 

Subsequently, the City of Chicago requested that the FOTP lawsuit be thrown out by a federal appeals court on emergency grounds. The city is arguing that the normal appeals process would take too long, and the museum would most likely be relocated before the matter could be settled. 

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See Iwan Baan’s stunning winter photography of MAD’s Harbin Opera House in Northeast China

Braving temperatures as low as -22°F, Iwan Baan is no stranger to shooting in the extreme. Armed with his camera, tripod, and Canada Goose Parka, the esteemed Dutch architectural photographer has produced a series on Beijing-based MAD Architects' Harbin Opera House in China's Northernmost province.

His work, unlike most in the industry focuses on people, not buildings. "My pictures are always very much about the users of the place," Baan says in a film covering the shoot. "I'm not trying to create timeless images which could be in any moment in time. They always should very much have a connection to a specific place, time, people, a context, a culture and this kind of thing."

"So people are, in that sense, a very important part," he explains. However, despite the alternative choice of focus, his work still conveys the fluid curvature of MAD's Harbin Opera House. Cast against a snow-white sky, the meandering white aluminum panels can be seen elegantly rising from the snow.

In this medium, the building's intentions of emulating the sinuous nature of its marshy surroundings and adjacent frozen riverbank are well and truly achieved. Even among fading light, the opera house's relationship with the site remains intact through Baan's lens from both interior and exterior perspectives.

“Harbin is very cold for the most of the year, so I envisioned a building that would blend into the winter landscape as a white snow dune arising from the wetlands,” says Ma Yansong, principal architect and founder of MAD Architects.

“Opera design normally focuses on internal space, but here we had to treat the building as part of its natural environment—one outside the urban context,” Yansong adds.

Traditionally, opera house photography evokes silent spaces, that, by contrast are designed to be anything but. Here, the acoustic properties of the space embedded within the theatrical grandeur are enhanced. With his uncanny habit of seeing things differently, Baan however, captures crowds on their feet in rapturous applause. Outside he shoots tourists, dog walkers, and local ice fishers setting an enlivened scene.

Purist's needn't worry though, as shots without any intrusive people also feature.

In related news, MAD has released a video showcasing their Invisible Border Installation for the Interni's Open Borders exhibition at the 2016 Milan Design Week. A descending veil, comprised of translucent polymer strips can be seen fluttering in the wind as it is loosely held in an undulating form, suspended from the Loggia of the Cortile d’Onore.
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McCormick Place Lakeside Center demolition proposed to keep Lucas Museum in Chicago

In the latest chapter of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts’ saga, a proposal has been put forward to tear down the McCormick Place Lakeside Center to make room for the MAD-designed museum. The Lucas Museum is currently tied up in a legal battle with Friends of the Parks, a public space advocacy group, despite being approved by the city. In a desperate attempt to stop the museum from once again moving its location to another city, the City of Chicago expressed its support of a plan that would replace the Gene Summers and Helmut Jahn-designed McCormick Place Lakeside Center. The 1971 McCormick Place Lakeside Center is located just south of the Soldier Field parking lot, the site that the museum was originally going to replace. The Lakeside Center is noted for having the larges space frame roof in the world, a feat that allows for its mostly uninterrupted interior. The plan to demolish the Lakeside Center is backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel as well as Chicago Tribune Architecture Critic Blare Kamin. In an October article Kamin referred to the building as the “shorline’s Berlin Wall.” Among other concerns, what has not been made clear by the city is where a new convention space would be built to replace the Lakeside center, or who would pay for it. Friends of the Parks has not yet made a statement on whether they would continue to challenge the museum’s placement if it was to move to the Lakeside Center site.
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Oakland wants George Lucas’s Museum

Back in San Francisco in early 2014, the Presidio Trust rejected revised plans for three different cultural space options on an 8-acre site. One idea was a proposal for George Lucas’s Museum of Narrative Art in The Presidio, a 1,500-acre park in northern San Francisco. He then abandoned his San Francisco plans to build a museum to house his cinema, digital, and narrative art collections. He went to Chicago, where his wife grew up. But the proposed Chicago site has faced lengthy disputes. Nonprofits are worried that his 300,000-square-foot museum on land near Burnham Harbor would set a new precedent for private lakefront development on land that is protected for public use. The proposed site is currently a Chicago Bears' football parking lot. The city intends to lease the land for 99 years at a cost of only ten dollars. Beijing–based firm MAD Architects was tapped for the $700 million project that has been mired in legal disputes for over a year. Now, George Lucas may have another option: reconsider the Bay area. According to the San Francisco Business Times, the City of Oakland is trying to get his attention. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf's spokeswoman, Erica Terry Derryck, told the Business Times: “If plans for a museum in Chicago do not come to fruition, we’d be thrilled to explore the possibility of this exciting project coming to life in Oakland.” So far, we wait until mid-April, when federal judge John W. Darrah comes to a decision on whether construction on the Chicago project can start.
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Court trouble continues for the MAD-designed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

The saga of the MAD Architects–designed Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts (LMNA) continues as a federal judge denies the City of Chicago’s motion to allow construction to begin. Judge John W. Darrah has decided to maintain the injunction which is delaying the start of construction of the $400 million museum on Chicago’s lakefront while there is still a case against the project. His decision came a day after city lawyers filed a motion to allow the start of construction and expedite the case brought by Friends of the Parks. Earlier this month Judge Darrah agreed to allow the case to move forward after the city presented a motion to completely dismiss it. This latest decision is being seen as a sign that the case is one step closer to going to trial. The lawyers for the City of Chicago argue that the court’s decision to hear the case “in no way establishes that they are entitled to the extraordinary remedy of a preliminary injunction.” The city also noted in the motion that it believed that the case was not a matter for a federal court to hear in the first place, as it is a city and state-law issue. The City also argues that the preliminary injunction was instituted before the Chicago Park District voted to approve the lease for the land, the Chicago Plan Commission voted to approve the project, and before the City Council approved the amendment to change zoning for the site. Now that the project has been approved by all the necessary city offices, the City wants the injunction lifted, allowing for the project to move forward while the case is settled. The case brought by Friends of the Parks was filed in November 2014. It claims that the negotiations between the Parks District and the Lucas Museum regarding the use of the public land would violate the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution, was ultra vires (beyond their legal power) under Illinois law, and violated the Illinois Public Trust Doctrine. The lakefront has long been the site of discussion and litigation concerning its use and public access. Most notably stated by Daniel Burnham in regards to his 1909 Plan of the City, “First in importance is the shore of Lake Michigan. It should be treated as park space to the greatest possible extent. The lakefront by right belongs to the people… not a foot of its shores should be appropriated to the exclusion of the people.” Also in the City motion was a warning that Chicago was at risk of losing the museum to another city. Similar issues concerning the use of park land were the initial reason for the museum leaving San Francisco for Chicago. The motion points out, “The preliminary injunction thus threatens the very public interest it is bound to protect: the loss of the LMNA would deprive the City of a world-class museum and all the attendant educational, cultural, and economic benefits, as well as depriving the City of a more beneficial use for the museum site than the current asphalt parking lot.” The “current asphalt parking lot” refers to the surface lot used for the Chicago Bears’s Soldier Field football stadium on the site. Judge Darrah stated that he would have a decision regarding lifting the injunction so that construction could start by mid-April. Beijing-based MAD Architects is working with architect of record VOA Studio from Chicago, and Studio Gang Architects and SCAPE/Landscape Architects for the landscape design.
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Breaking> Federal Court Pumps Brakes on Lucas Museum

Just two weeks after the city of Chicago gave the go ahead for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art to procure a 99 year lease on the Chicago Lakefront from the Chicago Park District, a federal court has indicated that it will not give a decision until February regarding a case brought by Friends of the Parks against the City. In a hearing to determine whether the Friends of the Park would be allowed to pursue their lawsuit, Federal Judge John W. Darrah, has given the park watchdog group until December 3th to address the cities motion to dismiss the case. If Judge Darrah allows the lawsuit to go forward, it will only be the beginning of what may become a protracted legal battle over the MAD Designed museum. Until this decision, construction was planned to begin as early as spring of 2016. Friends of the Parks claim the Chicago Park District does not have the  right to lease lakefront land to the Lucas Museum based Illinois’ public trust doctrine. That doctrine states, though vaguely, that land along Lake Michigan must be protected for public use. This has often been interpreted that no private business, or in some cases any construction, should happen along the lakefront.
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Plans unveiled for ZGF and Cotter’s twisted tower in downtown Seattle

There is a new proposal for yet another skyscraper in the Denny Triangle neighborhood in downtown Seattle—this time by ZGF and Cotter Architects. The 41-story tower is in the early design guidance phase and would bring in 10,000 square feet of ground-level retail housed in a podium and 420 apartments rising above. Renderings of the building—dubbed 2014 Fairview Avenue—depict an organic, twisted tower rimmed with curved balconies. It's a little reminiscent of MAD's pair of residential towers completed in 2012 in a Canadian suburb outside of Toronto. The building would sit on a roughly triangular site carved by the intersection of five streets: Denny Way to the north, Fairview Avenue to the west, Virginia Street to the east, as well as Boren Avenue to the southwest, and Minor Avenue to the northeast. The site is about a ten-minute walk northeast from the under-construction Amazon campus, and is currently home to the two-story strip mall, Denny Center, which would be demolished according to early design guidance documents. A budget isn't set yet, but construction is tentatively expected to start a year from now, in the fall of 2016.
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Leong Leong selected to design Los Angeles LGBT Center in Hollywood

Leong Leong was selected to design the master plan and new buildings for the Los Angeles LGBT Center in Hollywood. The pair's resume includes fashion house Philip Lim as well as the design of the United States Pavilion of the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. The firm is known for using common materials in uncommon ways, with results that belie humble beginnings: a sleek facade composed of mirrored louver blinds, sound insulation foam transforms into a chic wallcovering. The new project is their biggest commission to date and includes a 183,700-square-foot facility and a campus plan that, with the existing building, covers more than a city block and includes 140 units of affordable housing for seniors and young adults, 100 beds for homeless youth, a new senior center, retail space, a center for homeless youth, and an administrative headquarters. The scheme will be centered on a series of courtyard spaces and plazas. The Los Angeles LGBT Center and housing developer Thomas Safran & Associates chose Leong Leong from a shortlist of five firms, which included Michael Maltzan, Frederick Fisher, Predock Frane, and MAD. The commission is a collaboration between the firm, executive architect Killefer Flammang Architects and landscape architect Pamela Burton. “The design concept is to create a mosaic of unique spaces and programs that—together with The Village at Ed Gould Plaza—will form a cohesive campus along McCadden Place. We hope the project will become an urban catalyst for the neighborhood, connecting residents, clients, staff, and neighbors alike,” says Chris Leong.
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MAD Architects’ first US project is a hillside village

"We decided to make a community. Instead of making typical blocks we proposed a vertical village,” said architect Ma Yansong, principle of MAD Architects, when he sat down with AN’s Sam Lubell last month. The firm just unveiled its first project in the United States: 8600 Wilshire, an 18-unit residential complex on Wilshire Boulevard. The hillside village scheme is a typological mash-up: a courtyard apartment building on top of a mountain-like commercial box. Or, in a West Coast vernacular: Melrose Place meets Fred Segal, the eclectic retailer known for its ivy-covered storefront. The 48,000-square foot design for Palisades Capital Partners includes three townhouses, five villas, two studios, and eight condominiums. “[We took] single family houses like you see in Beverly Hills and we stacked them together,” said Yansong. “We have different roof heights, because in the village everyone built their own house.” The firm, which has offices in China and California, brought the lessons of density and verticality from Beijing to LA. While only the pitched roofs are visible from the street, the residential courtyard is shared garden space, with more private exterior balconies given to each unit. “People are emotional, they realize some meaning behind those green, living elements,” said Yansong of the need to make natural spaces full of plants, even in a drought. Addressing the California water shortage, the exterior living wall will be water-efficient and planted with native, drought-tolerant succulents and vines. MAD worked with landscape architects at Gruen Associates, the local firm is also the executive architect on the project. 8600 Wilshire was recently honored with a design concept prize at the 45th Annual Los Angeles Architectural Awards, hosted by the Los Angeles Business Council, and expected to break ground in October.
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MAD Architects drape this Japanese kindergarten with a mysterious facade meant to evoke a fort

Chinese architecture firm MAD has broken ground on their first project in Japan, a kindergarten in Okazaki, Aichi that will be designed in the owner’s own family house. The subsequent home-like atmosphere of the “Clover house” is meant to foster the school’s pedagogy of emotional bonds and trust. By making a school that is a shelter, the architects seek to create a haven for education. The transformation of the 1,100 square-foot house began with the reuse of the existing wood structure, which is a relatively standard construction. This skeleton is covered y a new skin and structure, which has a blurry relationship with the existing form, including a pitched roof that frames interior spaces while telling a story about the history of the structure. The new skin drapes over the building to cast the old structure in a new light. The architects want it to be like a “mystical cave and a pop-up fort,” and this sense of playfulness is continued in the design of the house, as the building is wrapped in a series of paper-like pieces that act as a canvas for students to draw on. The kindergarten is scheduled for completion in December 2015.