The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has completed the construction of its North Hall, the first residence hall the school has built in 34 years. Designed by RISD alumn Nader Tehrani of the Boston-based NADAAA, the six-story, 40,790-square-foot dormitory at 60 Waterman Street will house 148 freshman students of the Providence-based art and design school. While construction wrapped up in late summer, the school will celebrate its opening this Saturday, October 12, during its upcoming RISD Weekend. Along with housing a new generation of the school’s students, North Hall was designed to meet RISD’s institutional goals of lessening its environmental impact and energy use. It will use a quarter less energy than a conventional building and almost half the amount of water compared to similar-sized residential structures. The dorm’s furnishings, designed by RISD faculty members John Dunnigan and Lothar Windels, were also fabricated exclusively with sustainable materials such as bamboo plywood and European beech. The building's structure, a cross-laminated timber (CLT) and steel-frame hybrid, is the first of its kind for a residence hall in New England and further reduced the project's carbon footprint. North Hall’s completion marks the first part of a six-phase enhancement project for the school’s Freshman Quad, which will include a complex of dormitories, a dining hall, and a new fitness center. NADAAA was responsible for the 2017 master plan for the quad as well, which will link the various buildings along with the new campus extension into a cohesive space. North Hall's textured brick facade is a nod to the existing Pietro Belluschi design at RISD Beach and the residence will be connected via passageways to the other quad buildings. The residence hall is equipped with amenities for art students including studio and work spaces, galleries, and spray booth.
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The Spanish Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism (BEAU) has travelled to the U.S. for the first time in its history. Now in its thirteenth edition, the BEAU, this year titled Alternativas/Alternatives, is currently on show at the Cooper Union in New York after being exhibited in the Alhambra, in southern Spain. Alternativas/Alternatives features 22 jury-selected projects–from January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2015–all chosen from contemporary Spanish practices and falling under themes of heritage, planning, and innovation. In the wake of the Spanish Pavilion winning the Golden Lion at this year's Venice Biennale (the biennale's highest honor), 70 percent of the work showcased in Italy is now exhibited at the XIII BEAU. Projects range in scale from low-key dwellings to cliff-side-spanning landscape interventions. Together, the works aim to demonstrate the innovative techniques architects have employed when dealing with the aspects of heritage and planning while constrained by budget and materials by Spain's geography and economy. “We were concerned about the difficult past for architecture in terms of the economic, social, and political situation in the country," said Begoña Díaz-Urgorri, BEAU co-director, speaking to The Architect's Newspaper (AN). "We wanted to connect the audience to Spanish architecture and help them understand how it is developing," continued Díaz-Urgorri. “The exhibition is called 'Alternatives' to reflect what other alternatives that were found during this two-year period, not always through forms but through the processes that architects used. We were not so much concerned about the aspect of construction, rather, the development of the architect over these two years.” To achieve this "connection," the exhibition at Cooper Union offers a unique way of letting the audience engage with the projects on display. 3-D printed models of the 22 jury-selected works are laid out across a group of tables alongside two television screens and barcode scanners. Here, visitors are encouraged to pick up the off-white maquettes and find the barcodes underneath. In a shopping mall-like experience, when scanned, the barcode reader bleeps and up pops information, drawings, and photography of the building onto the corresponding wall-mounted monitor. Projects are color coded according to the three themes of the Biennial; slides on the screens are kept simple, readable, and generally accessible to most audiences. Further information on the projects is also available within the Biennial's main attraction: A sloping semi-circle platform surrounded by three large projection screens that show more photography of the projects. Also located on the platform, numerous eye-level television screens display critics, architects, and members of the public talking about the building/intervention shown on the nearby projection. Nader Tehrani, dean of the Cooper Union's Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, also spoke to AN. He described the work on display, saying "some of the projects are planned with a resilient approach to building typologies, understanding that those buildings may have to take on varied programs, functions, and activities in the future." The Iranian-American designer who also founded NADAAA in 2011 also commented on the three themes prevalent within the exhibition. “Any intervention into heritage involves a broader dialogue with history, but often from different mentalities." Tehrani also outlined the "three different modalities" taken on in the approaches demonstrated at the Biennal:
Through preservation, to not only restore buildings to their original stature, but to also revive certain crafts and construction techniques that would otherwise become obsolete
Through renovation, upgrading buildings to take on the responsibilities of new codes, life safety systems and other such requirements; while some of them do so in a stealth way, others expose and contrast the new systems in relation to the original spaces, but in each case, there is a deep sense of acknowledgment about the role of the surgical operation.
Through intervention, building up a richer dialogue between the original space and the new: drawing out potentials, functions and responsibilities of contemporary priorities.
New York City's Cooper Union finally found a new leader. Nader Tehrani has been appointed dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture. He joins the school this month, taking over where Anthony Vidler left off. Tehrani, formerly of Office dA, is now principal of NADAAA. Tehrani is also a professor of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and served as head of MIT’s Department of Architecture from 2010 to 2014. For over 25 years, Tehrani has developed research around material culture as the basis for speculation—exploring material properties, negotiating materials and their geometric predispositions and challenging the means and methods of building processes. “Nader Tehrani is in tune with the traditions of the Irwin S. Chanin School in terms of our emphasis on exploration and the processes that are at the core of the creation and production of architectural form,” said School of Architecture Professor Diana Agrest, who chaired the dean search committee. “He brings fresh perspectives on architectural discourse that will open new avenues in our teaching and will help create new energy in the school.” At Office dA, Tehrani has been recognized with the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in Architecture (2007). More recently, Tehrani completed three schools of architecture, including the Hinman Research Building at Georgia Tech and the Faculty of Architecture, Building, & Planning at the University of Melbourne. He is currently working on the completion of the new John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, & Design facility at the University of Toronto. Tehrani received a B.F.A. and a B.Arch from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1985 and 1986, respectively. He continued his studies at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, where he attended the post-graduate program in history and theory. Upon his return to the United States, Tehrani received the Masters of Architecture and Urban Design from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 1991.