This year, Williams College trumped rival Amherst in the spurious U.S. News & World Report college rankings, stealing the "#1 College" title from their neighbor to the east. Defending the crown is tough work, but an infusion of high-profile architecture can't hurt: New York–based Steven Holl Architects announced today that they will design a master plan study for Williams's Museum of Art and Art Department.Established in 1926, the Williams College Museum of Art has 14,000 pieces in its collection that range from antiquity to the present. It is a teaching museum, designed to give students firsthand access to major works of art. Steven Holl's study for the museum and the Art Department is organized around five principles: Creating spaces for exhibiting and teaching art, connecting interior spaces with the campus, making the architecture contextual and complementary, harmonizing the visual arts with other arts on campus, and expanding the presence of the museum and the department on campus. Several on-campus sites are being considered for new buildings to expand the department's footprint. "Historically one of the most important launching institutions for museum leaders around the world, Williams College extends its dedication to excellence in art education with this new campus development phase,” said Steven Holl, in a statement. Museum and education design is a well-worn path for the practice: Steven Holl has created facilities for Columbia University, MIT, and the Glasgow School of Art, among others. Currently, work in underway at Princeton University, the Kennedy Center, and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. The master plan anchors Williams as a destination in the well-established Berkshires arts scene. The college is a mile from the Clark Art Institute, with its Tadao Ando–designed expansion. It's also a fifteen minute drive from North Adams, home of MASS MoCA and two planned museums, The Global Contemporary Art Museum and The Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum, the latter two both designed by Gluckman Tang.
Posts tagged with "Massachusetts":
It's not surprising that Massachusetts, the state where happy hour is illegal, has found a new way to legislate away one of the city's greatest subversive small pleasures. For rushed urbanites especially, getting from place to place quickly on foot means crossing the street in the middle of the block. But State Senate Majority Leader Harriette Chandler has introduced legislation that would force pedestrians to adhere strictly to Cartesian space via stiff fines for jaywalking. This latest kerfuffle over the streets raises a question for inveterate jaywalkers and safety sticklers alike: What's so wrong with jaywalking, anyway? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWGEPZlbtX4 Massachusetts' current fine of $1, state officials claim, is hardly a deterrent to the common practice of crossing mid-block or against traffic. Chandler proposed a bill that would raise the fine for the initial offense to $25, $50 for the second, and $75 for the third jaywalk, The Boston Globe reports. (The standing law, enacted in 1962, imposes a $2 fine for the fourth offense and beyond.) The bill was motivated by recent pedestrian deaths in the Worcester Democrat's district. "It’s a bad habit we’ve all gotten into. And it’s changing a bad habit. And the best way to change a bad habit is to penalize it in some fashion," Chandler testified to the Transportation Committee. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AFn7MiJz_s Since the rise of the automobile, government has taken an active role in dissuading citizens from crossing the street in the middle of the block, as the (totally catchy) '60s PSA radio jingle explains. A jay, in early twentieth century parlance, was a rube, an unsophisticate. Calling someone a jay was a huge insult, as Adam Ruins Everything explains in the video above. Interestingly, although humans have had legs for far longer than cars, the term "jay driver" preceded jaywalker. Before the first crosswalk was installed in 1911, cars, pedestrians, carriages, and streetcars had equal right to the street. Cars were viewed as menaces, and cars driven recklessly by so-called jay drivers were seen as a threat to the balance of chaos and control that kept the streets usable for all. Citizens were justified in reviling drivers: By the end of the 1920s, automobile accidents had killed more than 250,000 people. As with the streetcar phase-out, the interests of the automobile-owning capitalist class prevailed over the public's right to the street. The auto industry lobbied to make cars the prima donnas of the street, a mode of travel that deserved special protections from annoying pedestrians, especially. The American Automobile Association (AAA) spearheaded school safety campaigns, warning boys and girls of the dangers of jaywalking. In a few short years, the threat of cars to people was superseded in public discourse by the threat of people to cars: by the 1930s, most municipalities had enacted laws agains jaywalking. These days, the jaywalking crackdown is not limited to Massachusetts. In 1998, New York City got tough on jaywalking, jacking up fines from $2 to $50. Under de Blasio, those fines went up to a maximum of $250. As with the enforcement of "quality of life crimes" like loitering and public drinking, jaywalking citations are primarily foisted on poor people of color. As the Massachusetts legislature debates this bill, it's worth re-engaging the old debate: is jaywalking a really crime, or is it just criminalized?
British firm Hopkins Architects (formerly Michael Hopkins & Partners) has been granted planning permission from local authorities to build the new Smith Campus Center for Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Hopkins was selected for the project back in 2013, but plans are now becoming clear with new renderings of the project. Included in the plan are shopping areas, cafes, and student exhibition areas. These areas will look out onto the open space laid out in front of the building, while sitting alongside and sheltering the study spaces inside. Such a scheme creates a defined hierarchy within the structure. Outdoor social space is separated from the quieter, more formal areas of study via the threshold of shopping, cafe, exhibition spaces, and reception area. The plan will become part of the Josep Lluis Sert's 1960s design for the Holyoke Center. Joining onto the exterior facade (as seen in the pictures) will be a steel structure, clad mainly in glass with softwood and concrete interior. After being appointed to the project in 2013, Hopkins Architects' vision for the Smith Campus was formed after asking students, faculty and staff about what they thought the campus should be. An exhaustive study into this comprised public meetings, over 25 focus groups, and almost 6,000 responses to University-wide survey. “One of our key design objectives was to ensure that the building engages the vibrancy of all of Harvard Square,” said Tanya Iatridis, senior director of University planning, speaking to the Harvard Gazette. “The new Smith Campus Center will embody the aspirations and values that we hold dear and seek to preserve. It will draw us together more closely, strengthening the sense of community at Harvard by encouraging spontaneous interactions among students, faculty, and staff, as well as members of the broader community,” Harvard President Drew Faust told the Harvard Gazette. “While plans are not yet final, and we have more feedback to gather, we are all pleased with the project’s direction and progress.” Joining Hopkins will be U.K.-based firms, Arup on the engineering team and Faithful + Gould as project management consultants. It won't be an all British show however, as U.S. practice Bruner/Cott will be executive architect and Cambridge firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates will serve as landscape architect. The project is expected to break ground later in 2016 with the new campus expected to open in 2018.
Harvard University has submitted plans by Behnisch Architekten with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) for a six story, 500,000-square-foot science and engineering complex on its Allston campus. Stuttgart- and Boston-based Behnisch Architekten is designing new laboratories, classroom space, research facilities, and retail space for the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The home of the Earthwatch Institute, at 114 Western Avenue, will also be renovated by the architects. The design responds to the layout of Harvard Yard, a "human scale" network of communal space. Like most of Behnisch Architekten's projects, the structure will capitalize on ecological principles: natural ventilation, renewable energy from geothermal and wind, roof gardens, and heat recovery and retention. In a statement, Matt Noblett, partner at Behnisch Architekten, explained the synergistic aspects of his firm's design: “The design of the Science and Engineering Complex project pulls together a number of threads of contemporary life certain to influence coming generations: the engineering enterprise as a decisive influence in the discovery and resolution of some of the world’s most intractable problems; cross-disciplinary efforts as critical to major research initiatives; and genuine leadership in the area of sustainable design and urban development.”
On November 6, Harvard's Graduate School of Design (GSD) launched the Design Office for Urbanization, a program that will draw on resources from the school's three departments to address the "social conditions associated with contemporary urbanization" through applied design research projects. Charles Waldheim, Professor of Landscape Architecture, will lead the office. Helen Kongsgaard, research associate at the GSD, explained that the office is interested in "questions on urbanization that are extreme but can be generalized into other areas." Its first project will generate design responses to rising sea levels that could affect the City of Miami Beach's culture, identity, economy, ecology, and infrastructure. For this and future programs, the office will partner with nonprofits, NGOs, community leaders, as well as Harvard's Center for Green Buildings and Design, Executive Education, and the Joint Center for Housing Studies.
On October 13, 1965, the New York Times ran a piece of architecture criticism on its front page, above the fold, spanning five out of seven columns. The writer was Ada Louise Huxtable, and the topic was the looming decimation of downtown Salem, Massachusetts—near Huxtable’s summer home in Marblehead. “Urban Renewal Threatens Historic Buildings in Salem, Mass.,” read the headline. “Foes Fear Plans Will Mar Old New England Heritage.” Those were the dark years between the demolition of New York’s Penn Station in 1963 and passage of the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966. Huxtable offered Salem as a case study for the postwar urban-renewal movement that leveled “blighted” communities in favor of highways, garages, parking lots, and new construction, all generally discordant in style and scale. Despite a lack of interest from developers, Salem aimed to demolish 82 percent (39 acres) of the buildings in its historic core. “Across the country, the battle between history and the slipping tax base is on,” Huxtable wrote. But the “conditions, assumptions, and values that make the bulldozer seem the only practical tool” were empty, including the “conservatism and shortsightedness of local commercial interests.” The piece struck nerves nationwide. Within ten years, Salem’s administration had changed, the plan had died, and Salem had launched a public-private program to restore facades, renovate interiors, and improve landscaping and circulation. In 1974 and ‘75, Huxtable wrote follow-up stories, “How Salem Saved Itself from Urban Renewal” and “Good News From the Witch of Salem.” The 50th anniversary of her pivotal piece inspired a symposium held Friday, September 25 at Salem’s Peabody Essex Museum, “ Mightier Than a Wrecking Ball: How Ada Louise Huxtable Saved Salem.” Co-sponsored by Historic Salem, Inc., the Peabody Essex Museum, and Historic New England, the event was conceived in part by Ed Nilsson, a Salem architect who had worked with Huxtable on modifications to her 1958 ranch in Marblehead. Following a short film on Huxtable’s local impact, four speakers shared different perspectives. Christopher Hawthorne, of the Los Angeles Times—whom Huxtable, near the end of her life, called the best architecture critic in the country—broadened the context in his keynote address. Thanks to urban renewal, he said, “We’re still trying to recover from the radical remaking of the landscape” in downtown Los Angeles. Hawthorne called for a change in the 50-year mark of a building’s maturity, as the digital age is having a “profound impact on the speed with which we forget about and rediscover” architectural movements. Preservation advocates, he argued, need to “get ahead of the curve of popular taste, and that means...talking now not about the ‘60s or even the ‘70s, but the 1980s and even the 1990s.” For longtime Huxtable fans, Eric Gibson, arts and culture editor at the Wall Street Journal, delivered a rare treat: scenes from the process of working with “Ada Louise.” Being her editor, he quipped, was “the closest thing to a sinecure...in contemporary journalism.” After an anecdote about touring the George Washington Bridge Bus Station with the elegant octogenarian, Gibson traced the groundwork for her blistering 2012 critique of the proposed renovation of the New York Public Library. “She wanted to make sure the tone was absolutely right,” he emphasized. “She didn’t want to come across as shooting from the hip.” Even so, the story exploded, and, like her original Salem piece, it “shifted the ground of the debate.” Huxtable died a month later, and the library killed the project the following year. Elizabeth Padjen, FAIA, founder and former editor of ArchitectureBoston magazine, presented a balanced history of Salem’s urban-renewal effort. Reminding the crowd that fear and distrust of cities ran deep in the 1950s, she used archival photos to show how troubled Salem had become: Old Town Hall (1816) was surrounded by boarded-up buildings, and “even the bars were closing.” Models of the renewal plan showed how overwhelmingly destructive it would have been, and how poorly it would have been executed. Spotlighting the arrival of the right professionals at the right time, Padjen narrated Salem’s resurgence, over the course of the 1970s, into a place that “celebrates its heritage.” Donovan Rypkema, principal of the Washington, D.C.–based consultancy PlaceEconomics, made an animated case that bolstering a city’s tax base does not, in fact, mean replacing old buildings with new construction. Historic districts, he argued, have economic attributes that can be counterintuitive. If well maintained, they are consistently popular places to live; their density packs more taxpayers into a given area; and they draw “heritage visitors,” who are known to spend well in local businesses. Carl Nold, president and CEO of Historic New England, moderated a panel discussion on preservation and economic development. Throughout the afternoon, Huxtable’s legacy was honored with intelligence and affection. “Her writing effected change,” Gibson said, “preventing catastrophic and irreversible destruction to our architectural heritage and quality of life.”
This Boston architecture firm believes virtual reality could create a revolution in architectural rendering and model making
Showing off buildings may be a task that is no longer constrained to simple two dimensional paper or the slick rendering. Virtual Reality is quickly approaching mainstream and architecture firm Tsoi/Kobus & Associates is already taking advantage of the emerging technology. The Cambridge, MA–based practice is implementing software used by virtual reality games to place clients into computer generated 3D renderings in order to deliver a more immersive feel of what the future space might look like. In practice, clients can walk round virtual buildings using Revizto, a cloud system, which architects can invite their clients to use. The experience is made possible thanks to a pair of Oculus virtual reality goggles which allow the user to interact with his or her virtual surroundings in real time as well as providing a first-person view.
"All of this can be done before a contract for a building is even awarded and could eliminate the need for creating life-size physical mock-ups out of plywood—making the whole process much more efficient," the Boston Globe's Katie Johnston wrote about the still-in-development concept. One would have to speculate, however, on how much time it would take to fully mock-up a CG building compared to making a 3D model or rendering. It's likely only a matter of time before new architectural rendering software that speeds up the process catches up with the technology. Luis Cetrangolo, the architect responsible for implementing the idea, told Johnston that the experience could become dizzying after about five minutes, and so far only one client has been subjected to the software.
Old and new technologies combine in renovated anthropology building.Tasked with transforming Harvard's 1971 Tozzer Library into a new home for the university's Anthropology Department, Kennedy & Violich Architecture (KVA) faced a unique set of challenges. In addition to balancing the desire for a distinct architectural identity with the building's literal and metaphorical connection to adjacent structures including Peabody Museum, the architects had to accommodate an expanded program within the old library's footprint and structure. As for Tozzer Library's facade, a mold problem and poor environmental performance meant that preserving the brick exterior was never an option. "It's a generic problem of envelopes from buildings that aren't that old, yet can't stand up to contemporary needs," said principal Sheila Kennedy. "What are you going to do with those buildings? The bold approach here was, 'we're going to build on [the existing] value." By stripping Tozzer Library down to its steel and concrete-slab bones, adding space under a two-story copper roof, and wrapping the exterior in a parametrically-designed brick skin, KVA seamlessly negotiated between Harvard's storied past and the mandates of a 21st-century curriculum. Both Kennedy and founding principal J. Frano Violich are quick to dismiss the notion that the problems with the 1971 building, designed by Boston firm Johnson, Hotvedt and Associates, were anything other than a product of their times. "Attitudes toward energy consumption were very different at the time," said Violich. "[Tozzer Library] was built by intelligent people, but everyone's understanding was different from today." In contrast, he said, for the new Tozzer Anthropology Building, "everyone was on top of every [LEED] point." (The project achieved LEED Gold.) KVA began by substituting 6-inch wall studs for the original 2 1/2-inch studs, making way for improved air circulation and insulation. In addition, they eliminated the potential for mold growth by increasing the air gap between the outside sheeting and the back of the brick veneer from 3/4 inches to 2 inches. With the mechanics of the exterior walls in place, "the challenge, aesthetically, was how do we get a sense of both thickness and thinness in the veneer?" said Violich. Luckily, the question of how to breathe new life into flat surfaces was nothing new for the architects. "At KVA we've been very interested in how one designs with contemporary wall systems, with materials that are thin," explained Kennedy. "How do we express their thinness, but by architectural means and devices give them an architectural thickness, manipulate them formally so there can be a game of thin and thick?" In the case of Tozzer Anthropology Building, the answer was a new entrance pavilion with a three-dimensional brick pattern meant to "seem like carved thick brick—like an archeological find," said Kennedy. Drawing upon their early experiments with digital brick, including those at the University of Pennsylvania Law School building, the designers used parametric design software to tie each brick unit to the building's overall form. "As we manipulated the physical form in 3D, we could see various brick patterns that could develop," explained Kennedy. "It was a hybrid of low-tech and high-tech," she said of the process of zeroing in on corbeling, a brick-stacking technique that allows for overhanging layers. The digitally-derived corbeled texture complemented the depth of ornament found elsewhere around Harvard's campus. "We didn't want to make something that was arbitrary and ornamental, but something that was authentic to our time," said Kennedy. To arrive at a final design for the multi-story entrance wall, the architects again combined cutting-edge technology with traditional expertise. "The actual pattern was achieved through physical experimentation," explained Kennedy. "We did a lot of dry stack work with local masons: We would take the designs out of the computer, then pass them to the masons to test. That was a really fun part of the process." KVA then took what they learned from their real-life experiments back into the virtual world, adjusting the digital design accordingly. Even the flat facades appear unlike typical brick walls, thanks largely to an unusual window arrangement. "When you're looking at the windows, you're not looking at traditional punch windows, or a strip window with a long relieving angle," said Violich. Rather, the windows are shifted to conceal the vertical control joints in the brick. "That helps defuse the veneer quality that brick sometimes brings on," he explained. The floor-to-floor windows further confound expectations by concealing the plenum and—because they are frameless, and punch out rather than in—appearing as much like light monitors as the actual skylights cut into the building's roofline. Tozzer Anthropology Building's recycled-content copper roof completes the dialogue between thick and thin established on the brick facades. "We worked hard in the massing of the design to give a twist to the building," said Kennedy. "That could really only happen in the two new floors." KVA textured the copper roof with vertical standing seams, again using parametric software to arrange different panel types in a corduroy-like pattern. "A lot of times people think advanced facades are super technical, but we can get lost in the technology and why we're using it," observed Kennedy. "[This project] is a good combination of an aesthetic agenda, an architectural agenda, and a technical agenda." For KVA, Tozzer Anthropology Building represents more than just a repurposed campus building. Rather, it offers a provocative answer to one of today's most pressing questions: how to rectify an inherited aesthetic preference for glass with the current push for improved energy efficiency. "Everybody loves glass—we love transparency in architecture," said Kennedy. "But as we move on in our energy transition, we're going to have to develop new ideas about mass and opacity. How can we go back to a pre-modern time, but create something that is contemporary?"
The beautiful rolling landscape of Northwestern Massachusetts has been the home to important academic institutions for over 100 years. But in the past thirty years it has also become the home of major art museums, including Williams College Museum of Art, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), and, just down the road, the Clark Art Institute. Now the Berkshire Eagle newspaper and local magazine iberkshires.com are reporting that another important art museum may be located in the region. Thomas Krens—the man behind MASS MoCA—is proposing the creation of 160,000 square foot art gallery on the grounds of the local airport. The Eagle reported that Krens proposed the new museum would “be privately owned by a for-profit group of investors and cost an estimated $10 million to $15 million." It would be called the Global Contemporary Collection & Museum and have a collection of about 400 works of art. The museum is only in the early planning stages, but Krens claimed to have been working on its formation for many years. He originally proposed the idea for a site in China. Now, the idea has approval from the airport commission to enter into negotiations with Krens to study its feasibility. The paper also reported that Richard Gluckman of Gluckman Mayner Architects has done the early schematic drawings for the project. The museum would be located in an industrial area, next to the local Stop & Shop and adjacent to the airport runway. Krens was quoted in iberkshires.com saying that the concept for the museum is for it to be “super sophisticated, super inexpensive but elegant industrial architecture, something Richard Gluckman specializes in.” If the project comes to fruition, it will join MASS MoCA’s elegant 1995 Bruner/Cott Architects factory renovation and a 2014 Tadao Ando (with Selldorf Architects) addition at the Clark as important architectural projects in the area.
As Boston continues to ponder its Brutalist city hall, professor suggests covering the behemoth with a glass veil
Like so many Brutalist buildings around the word, Boston's iconic City Hall has not necessarily endeared itself to the public. Since it opened in the 1960s, there have been calls to update the building, completely overhaul it, and to demolish it outright and start over. There have, of course, also been calls to preserve it. The latest idea to revamp City Hall comes from Harry Bartnick, a Suffolk University professor, who wants to cover the structure with a tinted glass curtain structure. In an op-ed in the Boston Globe, he called the idea "simple, obvious, and cost-effective." "The generally outward sloping angle of the glass would impart a feeling of greater stability, and redistribute the visual mass toward the ground," Bartnick argued. "Translucent glass would allow the original wall-surface variations to still be seen, but now softened by filtration through the glass 'veil.'" He continued that the intervention would help the building's efficiency by establishing a "climate-controlled, passive solar interior environment." There are no plans to actually move forward with this project, but, as Bartnick noted, his idea comes as the area undergoes major changes including a new residential tower by César Pelli. Boston Business Journal also recently reported that Center Plaza, a 720,000-square-foot, mixed-us complex nearby, is set to receive a $25 million facelift. Along with new retail tenants, the CBT Architects–led transformation will update exterior walkways, street-level lobbies, and the existing rooftop.
A young developer hopes to shake up the Boston development scene with this 38-foot-wide, 30-story tower
Rafi Properties is not your typical millennial-led startup. It's not peddling some iPhone app or trying to become the Uber of [insert industry here]. Instead, Rafi is attempting to build a 30-story residential tower in Boston's Downtown Crossing. No small undertaking. The real estate startup is led by 25-year-old Collin Yip who holds a business degree from Boston University. The Boston Globe reported that Yip, who has renovated multiple buildings in the Boston area, has submitted a letter of intent to the Boston Redevelopment Authority to build a 305-foot-tall tower with the millennial-friendly name of “Canvas.” With the development site only 38-feet wide, the Globe has compared Canvas to Manhattan's many “pencil towers." But that comparison likely won't fly with New Yorkers as the building is more elongated than the super-thin supertalls rising in Midtown. Pencil tower or not, Canvas has 94 residences, restaurants, and co-working office space. The glass and zinc tower was designed by the Boston-based ADD which has since been acquired by Stantec. As part of the project, Rafi will also be restoring the facade of the existing four-story building that the new tower will rise above.
"We are still refining the program on the first four floors but we are envisioning it being a center for the collaboration and appreciation of art, technology, unique food, and ideas," said Yip in an email to AN. "Being able to design, build, and manage the property ourselves gives us the flexibility to build and run an integrated project that truly represents what it means to live and work in Boston." Perhaps wanting to reassure skeptical parties that his young company can handle such a significant project, Yip added that Rafi is getting guidance from "veteran real estate development mentors/advisors, investors, and neighbors."Yip reportedly expects to fund the project with overseas investors including some of his family members. Rafi is confident that it can complete the tower by summer 2017. [Editor's Note: An earlier version of this piece misstated information about the building's facade. It is glass and zinc, not glass and limestone.]
The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Massachusetts has unveiled its Ennead Architects–designed expansion that it will build as part of a $650 million "Advancement Campaign." Along with $200 million for new facilities, the campaign allocates $350 toward its endowment, and $100 million to improve existing infrastructure on the museum's campus. Ennead's plan for PEM is based on original work created by Rick Mather, the celebrated architect who passed away in 2013. The expansion includes a new 40,000-square-foot, three-story wing for galleries that is slated to break ground in 2016 and open three years later. The museum is also constructing an 80,000-square-foot off-site building for the Collection Stewardship Center that is designed by Schwartz/Silver Architects and is also scheduled to open in 2019. "A design highlight of the expansion will be the renovation of the west facade of the museum’s founding structure, East India Marine Hall," said the museum in a statement. "This National Historic Landmark will be given renewed prominence with the creation of an adjacent two-story glass atrium that will offer fresh perspectives on this iconic building." PEM says it holds the "largest historic architecture collection among US art museums" noting that four of its 22 structures are National Historic Landmarks and another six are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.