On Saturday, August 2, I had the opportunity to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony and member's opening of the new Aspen Art Museum (AAM), designed by this year's Pritzker Prize winner, Shigeru Ban. The event took place at the tail end of AAM's annual ArtCrush festival, which gathers artists, art collectors, curators, gallery owners, celebrities, and philanthropists from around the world to celebrate contemporary art and raise money for the museum through an auction. While the museum opening was well timed to take advantage of the glut of luminaries in town for ArtCrush, it did catch the building itself—Shigeru Ban's first permanent museum project in the U.S.—at an awkward moment in terms of its construction. Workers were still finishing up the last details—including installing a piece by Jim Hodges called With Liberty and Justice For All (A Work In Progress) that will occupy the sidewalk—but it was intact enough to get a good impression of what visitors will experience when it opens to the general public on August 9. To kick things off with a bang, AAM commissioned New York–based artist Cai Guo-Qiang to put together a day-time firework display known as Black Lighting, which was spectacular, though a little frightening in its resemblance to artillery fire. While you can wait for my critique of the museum (coming soon) for a full run-down of the design, the basic concept was to integrate the building respectfully within the built fabric of Aspen while at the same time taking full advantage of the natural beauty of its Rocky Mountain setting and providing ideal spaces for displaying an ever changing array of art. AAM is not a collecting institution. Its director, Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, is always on the search for the next upcoming artist, and thus the gallery spaces had to offer a lot of flexibility. Shigeru Ban stacked three floors of galleries against the party wall (one below grade, two above), wrapped them in circulation and offices (at the back), enclosed it all in a white metal and glass curtain wall, and then wrapped the street faces (it's a corner lot) with a woven Prodeema screen whose wood veneer offers a warm, hand-crafted expression that cozies up to Aspen's masonry and timber context. (Front Inc. provided facade consulting services. The architect of record is Cottle Carr Yaw of Basalt, Colorado.) The screen is not uniform. Its apertures are larger toward the corner and top of the building, providing the best views there, while concealing the emergency stair and back of house spaces at the opposite ends. A glass elevator at the corner allows visitors to look out at the surroundings as they ascend or descend. A grand stair between the screen and glass curtain wall provides access directly to the top of the building, where there is a cafe and terrace/sculpture garden. (For the opening the terrace was occupied by another Cai Guo-Qiang installation called Moving Ghost Town, which involved a sort of barnyard pen where two African Sulcata tortoises with iPads mounted to their shells were free to wander, or hide their heads in the dirt, as one found it fit to do throughout the reception. The iPads played video that the tortoises had "filmed" while wandering through a nearby Colorado ghost town.) The rooftop/top floor spaces can be open to one another or closed off, depending on the weather, by way of a manually operated sliding glass wall. Another stair just inside the curtain wall, which mirrors the one outside, provides direct access to the gallery spaces. The idea behind this circulation scheme is that, like on Aspen's ski slopes, visitors can climb to the top before "sliding" down through the exhibition spaces. Structurally, the building is made up of a composite system that includes post-tensioned cast-in-pace concrete (which offered the most efficient floor-to-floor dimensions (about 16 feet), allowing the architects to provide 14-foot-high ceilings (to the bottom of the beam) in the gallery spaces while fitting the building within Aspen's 47-foot height limit), exposed structural steel pipes, and an exposed timber space frame for the roof. The timber space frame is, in my mind, the highlight of the architecture. Fabricated by Spearhead Timberworks in British Columbia, it features three types of wood: spruce chords, birch web members, and Douglas fir end caps. The webs have curving profiles that create flat interfaces with the top and bottom chords of the truss. This allowed the connection between web and chord to be made with a single steel screw—as opposed to a gusset plate connection—driven in from above so that it is invisible from below, giving the impression that it is an all-wood structure. Ventilation ducts, sprinklers, and lighting integrate well within the space frame structure as well. Four out of the six galleries feature some access to daylight, while two are completely artificially lit. (L'Observatoire International designed the lighting scheme.) This was one aspect where the collaboration between Shigeru Ban and Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson shows. Heidi originally wanted black box spaces where she could have total control over the lighting, in keeping with at least the past 50 years of curatorial thinking and gallery design in this country. Shigeru, however, convinced her (after a tour of naturally lit gallery spaces) that she could have the control she wanted while taking advantage of the dynamic qualities natural light. After all, art is created in natural light. Another place the collaboration shows is in the openness of the building (see the roof) and the variety of ways in which one can traverse it. Shigeru reportedly at first wanted a very controlled circulation sequence, providing one way to proceed through the museum, but Heidi put her foot down, explaining that in the U.S.A., especially in the West, people expect a little more freedom of movement.
Posts tagged with "Museums":
MAD Architects, the Chinese designers known for their organically curving buildings from Inner Mongolia to Canada, will work with two local firms—including Studio Gang Architects—to bring filmmaker George Lucas’ new Chicago museum to life. MAD will design the building, while Studio Gang Architects will provide landscape work—an integral part of the lakefront site—and VOA Associates will be the architect of record, said officials for the forthcoming Lucas Museum of Narrative Art Monday. The Chicago Tribune first reported the story, with Blair Kamin calling "the star-studded team … a surprise given Lucas' penchant for traditional designs." Many also called Lucas' choice of Chicago for the museum, over other West Coast options, surprising. The Star Wars creator’s museum is currently targeting a lakefront site between Soldier Field and the McCormick Place convention center. It would take the place of two surface parking lots, replacing those spots and then some with parking below grade. But that proposal is currently facing a challenge from lakefront advocates, who point to a city ordinance forbidding private development east of Lake Shore Drive. Their qualm may carry legal weight if Lucas doesn’t hand over the museum, in which he is expected to pour $700 million of his money, to the city’s park district upon completion. At any rate, the involvement of MAD’s Ma Yansong and Studio Gang's Jeanne Gang is likely to produce memorable architecture for the new museum, which will house movie memorabilia and selections from Lucas’ extensive art collection. Yansong’s work includes the Ordos Museum, an otherworldly blob in the deserts of Inner Mongolia, and Ontario’s Absolute Towers—sculptural, round apartment towers that have been dubbed the "Marilyn Monroe Towers" after the curvaceous actress. That style seems in keeping with Gang’s own tastes, which tend toward organic forms and eye-grabbing designs. VOA has designed offices for Ariel Investments, a company led by Lucas’ wife Mellody Hobson. Lucas has also pledged to help fund an $18 million pedestrian bridge at 35th Street to improve access to the site. The museum is expected to open in 2018.
The surprises keep coming at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). After learning that the museum plans to shift its proposed Peter Zumthor–designed building southward (partially bridging Wilshire Boulevard) to avoid damaging the La Brea Tar Pits, now comes news that the museum is hoping to partner with LA's transit agency, METRO, to build a tower across the street. LACMA Director Michael Govan's choice for an architect? Frank Gehry. "That's my dream," Govan told the LA Times' Christopher Hawthorne. "I'm jealous that New York has a Gehry tower and we don't." The tower would be located near Wilshire and Fairfax, near the site of the current A+D Architecture + Design Museum, which is being torn down to make way for a staging ground for Metro's Purple Line expansion. Ironically Govan said he hopes to build his own Architecture and Design wing there. No word on the tower's design or height, or on whether it will even happen. But Gehry has acknowledged discussing the plan with Govan. "I'm open to it," he told Hawthorne. So far Govan and Gehry have been unavailable for comment to AN. There are so many obstacles standing in the way of these grand schemes. But a post on LACMA's blog points out that if they go ahead, one block of LA's Miracle Mile will contain designs by three Pritzker Prize winners— Gehry, Zumthor, and Renzo Piano, who not only designed two new buildings for LACMA, but is designing (now solo) the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences museum.
When Frank Gehry’s renovation of the Philadelphia Museum of Art is complete, the iconic institution won’t necessarily look like one of his signature works—at least from the outside. The architect isn't touching the icon's Beaux-Arts exterior, but is, instead, transforming the museum’s interior to improve circulation and boost gallery space. But even then, Gehry’s work won’t be all that “Gehry.” AN recently toured the museum’s exhibit on Gehry’s masterplan and got a chance to hear from the man himself about the museum renovations. On the tour, Gehry explained how he reimagined the building’s interior with a distinctive signature, but one that is inspired by the building’s DNA. “I think if it’s built, you’ll know somebody like me was here,” he said. This renovation has been a long time coming. And it will be a long time still before it's finally realized. The idea to update the museum was born in the 1990s and completing Gehry’s entire overhaul could take 10–15 years more. “If they wait five years, I’ll be 90,” Gehry said. “So for me, get going.” Given his age, and his storied career, AN asked Gehry about what else he wants to accomplish. “I’m so superstitious,” he said before explaining that he wants to increase his involvement in arts education. He mentioned his participation in the Turnaround Arts initiative—a presidential program, which aims to close the achievement gap through arts and music education. He told a story about going into a school in California and teaching kids how to plan and imagine cities. Gehry added that children are often marginalized in “ghetto schools.” “That’s what I’m interested in, that kind of stuff," said Gehry. "I am also designing a sailboat." Which, of course seems entirely appropriate given his predilection for sailing. He does, after all, already own a boat called FOGGY, which stands for his initials: Frank Owen Gehry. These days, it seems, every starchitect needs a boat in his or her oeuvre. Hear that Zaha and Norman? Frank will see you at the regatta.
Columnist Michael Sneed of the Chicago Sun-Times quotes “reliable sources” who tell her George Lucas has picked Chicago for his planned museum devoted to movie memorabilia, visual arts, and culture. Mayor Rahm Emanuel in April charged a task force with finding a site for the museum, once San Francisco’s Presidio was ruled off-limits for the California-based Luasfilm magnate's “museum dedicated to the power of the visual image.” San Francisco and Los Angeles are also vying for what Lucas has said will be an investment of at least $700 million—an infusion of economic activity that squares with Emanuel’s other efforts to develop Chicago’s cultural tourism industry. Lucas had wanted to house his extensive art collection near San Francisco’s Crissy Field, but The Presidio Trust rejected his proposal along with two others for development on the Golden Gate Bridge-adjacent site. Chicago’s proposal identified a parking lot in downtown’s Museum Campus—land that Emanuel critics like Alderman Bob Fioretti said the Mayor was trying to hand off to private interests without ample negotiation or public input. That debate may now get a lot more real for power brokers in Chicago, as City Hall officials have reportedly confirmed that Lucas will land his museum on Lake Michigan. The proposal still needs to go through the Chicago Plan Commission, but could open as soon as 2018.
If you like French decorative arts you should make your way this summer to the Louvre's newly restored and reinstalled 18th century Decorative Arts Galleries. The collection is housed in 35 galleries spanning 23,000 square feet. Over 2,000 design pieces "in object-focused galleries and period-room settings" are on display. The architect for the restoration was Michel Goutal, the Louvre’s senior historical monument architect (with technical assistance provided by the Louvre’s Department of Project Planning and Management). In addition, there is an American connection to the restoration of the galleries. The American Friends of the Louvre (AFL)—who famously helped restore a "secret" Versailles water garden several years ago—played a vital role in the renovation by raising $4 million in support of the project and one of its key period rooms, the restoration of l’Hôtel Dangé-Villemaré drawing room. This space has not been exhibited in its entirety since its 19th-century acquisition by the Louvre. The AFL also raised funds for the restoration and first ever public presentation of a magnificent cupola painted by Antoine François Callet which will be installed in the galleries and for the English-language edition of the book of the Louvre’s decorative arts collection whose publication will celebrate the opening.
Flint, Michigan kicked off a series of events celebrating education and the arts Friday, unveiling interactive installations cooked up over a year-long after school program local students have dubbed Museum of Public Schools. Produced by the Flint Public Art Project, the ongoing exhibition will culminate in a series of proposals by students to change their school system. Mott Middle College plays host to the ongoing event. “Usually students just experience their own educational opportunity and journeys,” Mott Principal Cheryl Wagonlander said in a press release. “It's rare for them to step out of the role of experiencing and become the seekers of information about how varied educational access and opportunities are in their own community and beyond their own community.” On the corner of South 2nd Street and Saginaw, students installed chalkboards that asked the public, “What is the purpose of education?” Answers varied widely in tone, from sarcastic to self-reflective. The Museum of Public Schools program is just one of several summer events planned as part of the growing Flint Public Art Project’s programming. Upcoming events include a “porch light initiative” to illuminate the city on June 19 to celebrate the day in 1865 when Union soldiers announced the end of the Civil War. More information is at www.flintpublicartproject.com.
The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has won a design competition held by Audemars Piguet, a Swiss watchmaker, and are now tasked with creating the Maison des Fondateurs museum in Le Brassus, Switzerland. The 25,800 foot Maison des Fondateurs will be located in the midst of numerous workshops and factories embedded in the history of the Swiss watchmaking company. The Copenhagen- and New York–based BIG is no stranger to large-scale projects such as this, and has already begun work on the construction of the museum. The group is partnering with HG Merz, Luchinger & Meyer, and Muller Illien to see the completion of this project. The spiraling building form will feature a contemporary design that follows the theme of a watchmaking facility closely, while still carrying a modern look. At its core is a tightly wound spiral that winds the linear exhibition sequence around a central point, juxtaposing the museum exhibitions with various other workshops. The entrance will connect directly to the existing museum as well as to the company's hospitality program. Renderings of the museum show the complex actually brings the area's landscape onto the building itself with regional greenery incorporated on the exterior. The twisting spiral form also provides ample pathways for sunlight to enter the museum. To the side of the structure there will also be a sunken guesthouse, exposed by two cuts in the landscape. The ceiling will be comprised of a single, continuous metal sheet: a steel roof coated in brass. The rest of the building will mix traditional materials such as timber and stone with modern materials such as concrete and brass. This combination and collaboration of the new and the old is heavily stressed by Ingels in the design of the building.
In a recent interview, Diller Scofidio + Renfro Senior Associate Kevin Rice told AN that the "veil" at Los Angeles' Broad Museum—a facade made of hundreds of molded Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) panels, had been delayed by over a year. "Some of the things took longer to make than they thought, but there aren’t really problems with it," Rice said. But now it looks like the issues with the museum's facade are more severe than initially thought. The LA Times has reported that the Broad Collection and contractor Matt Construction are suing Seele, the engineer of that facade, seeking $19.8 million in damages relating to the delay. Other damages, according to the complaint (PDF), include breach of contract, fraud in the inducement, and fraud and deceit. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that Seele "violated the important 'aesthetic aspect' of the architect's design," and its mockups were "unsightly and wholly unacceptable for use on the project." As a result the firm was not able to meet its October, 2013 deadline to design, fabricate, and install the facade, setting the project's timeline way back. The Broad's lawsuit also names Zurich American Insurance Company and Fidelity and Deposit Company—backers of a bond guaranteeing Seele's work—as defendants. "Seele did not possess the necessary skill, experience, resources, commitment or ability to perform the work at The Broad museum," the complaint stated. Broad Foundation spokesperson Karen Denne told AN, "we're not commenting—the lawsuit speaks for itself." As of now the museum is still set to open in 2015, but the exact date remains up in the air.
Hedge Two-Way Mirror Walkabout Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 5th Avenue, New York Through November 2. 2014 One of the great gifts bestowed on New York in the summer is the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s roof garden. You are thrust into Olmsted’s Central Park from a promontory surrounded by the perimeter skyline on all sides. The trick with the rooftop art commissions is to play with the space, the views, and the interrelationships between the two. The goal is to make the viewer see them differently—you want to feel like the rooftop is your personal terrace in the sky while sharing it with others in a magnificent secret shared space. Dan Graham’s Hedge Two-Way Mirror Walkabout plays with what he calls this “leftover space” of rooftop by framing the viewer's “elliptical experience” with various man-made and natural elements: glass, steel, stone, hedgerows, chairs, and ForeverLawn (definitely not AstroTurf). Stepping from the fake grass that covers the rooftop—green mixed with yellow and brown in different blade thicknesses—one climbs almost imperceptibly onto a slightly-raised platform of granite slabs that forms a square. These pavers support a sinuous bisecting slab of steel-trimmed, S-shaped, mirrored glass, a staple of modern skyscrapers, that is supported on the east and west sides by hedges, that, as Graham noted, demarcate property lines. If you enter from the north side, you can gaze through the glass barrier to those on other side and to Central Park South beyond. When you approach from the south side, you are struck by the reflections of the skyline behind. It’s a concave/convex funhouse, where one is constantly catching glimpses oneself. Graham has been working with “pavilions” for a long time, and Hedge Two-Way Mirror Walkabout feels like a more rural version of his much-missed Rooftop Urban Park Project (1991) atop the Dia Center for the Arts on West 22nd Street. You want to sit on the lawn and have a picnic. At the Met, Graham worked with Swiss landscape architect Günther Vogt, who also designed the stainless steel moveable chairs with recycled rubber coating manufactured by Burri. On the museum’s second floor are related projects by Graham which attest to his long-standing interest in architecture and public space. A 20-minute video called Two-Way Mirror Cylinder inside Cube and a Video Salon (1992), commissioned by Dia, investigates atria, shopping arcades, and winter gardens, both historical and contemporary ranging from the Crystal Palace, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the Ford Foundation, Citicorp Park Avenue Atrium, Charles deGaul airport, Parc de La Villette, World Financial Center’s Winter Garden, and the IBM Building. Graham narrates, as he does in Two-Way Mirror Hedge Labyrinth (1991), a short video centered on a pavilion installed at a private home in La Jolla, CA, where he muses on the city—how landscape architecture redefines it, how the labyrinth is a metaphor for it, and how two-way mirrored glass’ transparency and reflectivity mimics it. Graham’s concerns with movement and time, human interplay and asymmetrical procession, all take place on a mirrored stage.
[beforeafter] [/beforeafter] The Milwaukee Art Museum revamp's previous design and current iteration. (Courtesy HGA Architects & Engineers) The Milwaukee Art Museum’s long-planned expansion and renovation has become somewhat of a saga. Plans for a new addition with an entrance along Lake Michigan were announced in 2012, but hit a snag when HGA Architects and Engineers’ Jim Shields walked off the job in February. In April Urban Milwaukee first broke news that Shields, somewhat of a local design celebrity, had left the project amid quibbling over the design. That spurred conversation around town, with Journal-Sentinel critic Mary Louise Schumacher suggesting the museum consider not building an addition at all. In a surprise twist, Shields returned to the project, having apparently reconciled a dispute over the design direction. The project’s future, however, is still uncertain. As Schumacher pointed out in a column Friday, the new design replaces the 1975 Kahler addition’s eastern face with a glassy atrium. That building originally featured elegantly recessed windows that were later pushed flush with the façade, contributing to the eastern entrance’s deactivation. The museum would eventually close it completely after opening the Santiago Calatrava addition in 2001. The dark zinc or copper patina HGA is considering for the addition’s exterior would recall some of the original design’s drama, while engaging the lakefront with a glassy atrium in a way that Kahler’s building could not. But Schumacher wonders if the museum might be able to accomplish its goals without adding to the mishmash of architectural styles that sparked this continuing saga. Repairs to Eero Saarinen’s adjacent War Memorial building are also part of the plan. The total project will cost at least $25 million. The County of Milwaukee will contribute $10 million toward repairs, and the museum has already raised $14 million. While the architectural legacies of Shields, Kahler, Calatrava and Saarinen are all at stake to varying degrees, not to mention the city’s lakefront urban context, Milwaukeeans have plenty to consider.
With Eli Broad hyping his DSR-designed Broad Museum in Downtown Los Angeles, we thought it would be appropriate to share The Broad that never was: OMA's runner up proposal. As featured in this author's book, Never Built Los Angeles, Rem Koolhaas's firm proposed a "floating" box covered in a lacy-patterned metal screen and cantilevered via steel brace frames above Grand Avenue. Lifting the structure would have created much needed civic space in the area, offering a public zone under the museum and complementing two new plazas to the south and the west of the building. Escalators would have travelled diagonally up from street level to the ethereal upper gallery floors, which would have been lit by multiple skylights. There's a lot to like here, and still some questions about the lack of public commentary before the winning scheme was chosen. Check out many more renderings of the scheme below.