In recent years, the world has seen a proliferation of performance centers that, according to a mysterious consensus, consist of more or less an identical combination: a 2,000-seat auditorium, a 1,500-seat theatre, and a black box. Overtly iconic external forms disguise conservative internal workings based on 19th century practice (and symbolism: balconies as evidence of social stratification). Although the essential elements of theatre- stage, proscenium, and auditorium- are more than 3,000 years old, there is no excuse for contemporary stagnation. TPAC takes the opposite approach: experimentation in the internal workings of the theatre, producing (without being conceived as such) the external presence of an icon.Construction on the project has so far taken four years and the Performing Arts Center is due to officially open in 2017. OMA won the commission to design the center in 2009. Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten are the two partners working on the project.
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As with much of OMA’s recent work, the firm’s latest building is exemplary for what it lacks. Instead of the complex structural flourishes of the CCTV Headquarters and many of the firm’s other mid-aughts projects, the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion at the Musee National des Beaux Arts du Québec (MNBAQ) is a lesson in more subtle design maneuvers: Its stacked massing, articulated in three varieties of glass, contains contemporary Québécois art and design galleries connected by a curvilinear glass balustrade and a predominantly white palette. Yet the most notable absence at the June 24 inauguration was that of OMA founder Rem Koolhaas. Instead, Shohei Shigematsu, who heads the firm’s New York office and served as partner-in-charge on the MNBAQ addition, spoke on behalf of the firm and explained that changes are indeed underway inside OMA as he led press and visitors through the new building.
Koolhaas’s absence at the inauguration by no means signals his retreat from design duties at the firm that, until recently, derived nearly all of its notoriety from the prestige associated with his own work and name. He continues to lead many of the firm’s most high-profile projects, last year’s Fondazione Prada in Milan and next year’s Taipei Performing Arts Center among them. Yet the pronounced emphasis at the recent inauguration on Shigematsu’s tenure as director of OMA New York bespeaks a new phase in OMA’s trajectory, one in which numerous of the firm’s seven partners work with greater autonomy from Koolhaas himself. “Me being recognized or other partners being recognized — not just Rem, actually reinforces the identity of the organization,” Shigematsu told The Architect's Newspaper at the Québec inauguration. He is by no means an outlier in this development. Rotterdam-based partners Reinier de Graaf and Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli have also grown prominent within the OMA cosmology in recent years, the former as a polemicist and the latter for his preservation work and leadership of the firm’s ongoing, manifold collaboration with Prada. The present devolution of design authority is markedly different from the firm’s operations a decade prior, when numerous of the leading architects at OMA, like Bjarke Ingels, Ole Scheeren, and Joshua Prince-Ramus, began leaving to open their own offices. “I’m basically, probably doing the same thing inside [the firm],” Shigematsu noted, “A lot of senior people have started to stay.”
On the Grande Allée in Québec City, the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion acts as an intermediary between traffic along one of the city’s main arteries and the National Battlefields Park where the museum’s three other buildings are situated. The new building also expands connections between the capital of Francophone Canada and the international art milieu, as it shares formal tropes with recent cultural institutions designed elsewhere by OMA (the MNBAQ’s gold elevator core shares a chromatic palette with Prada and Laparelli’s recently-completed Fondaco dei Tedeschi in Venice, Italy). Shigematsu is quick to note that the shared color schemes across partners are part and parcel of an expanding practice: “Not just metallic, but the attention to detail and refinement that we can bring,” he mused. “We have the luxury to now build so much with a sense of maturity as an architecture firm.”
Formed in 1999, 24 years after Rem Koolhaas founded the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), AMO is the architecture practice's research think-tank. Directed by Reinier de Graaf, a partner at OMA, AMO addresses issues surrounding architectural production and other mediums such as fashion, print, online media. Past projects include a redesign of the EU flag and being a leader in the production of Volume magazine.
In 2011, the group worked with Prada on the confusingly titled OMA*AMO for/with Prada, an exhibition in Venice. This year, OMA's Shohei Shigematsu designed the exhibition space for Manus x Machina at the Met.
This year's project for Prada, however, is on a much larger scale. The design features a catwalk runway divided into three zigzagging segments that slope down to the audience seating. The upper-most level, the entry gangway, is located behind a mesh-crafted colonnade.
Made from metal, the mesh dominates the interior space and allows an array of colored lighting to permeate through and illuminate the space. "Generating an abstract layer, composed of meshes with different patterns and dimensions...overlap to recreate a total space. The transparency of the cladding material unveils the underlying framework with Cartesian precision," the firm said in a press release.
Subsequently the resultant glow from the lights aims to de-humanize the space, "[dematerializing] all the surfaces, coloring the room, now reminiscent of a post-human scenario."
Shohei Shigematsu, partner at OMA and the director of its New York office, had never designed a parking garage until Alan Faena requested one. The Argentine real estate developer and arts patron hired the New York branch of a firm based in Rotterdam, Netherlands, to design Faena Arts Center, a forthcoming arts and luxury retail complex in Miami Beach, which will open to the public in late October. Upon completion, the complex will be the anchor for the Faena Arts District—a sliver of land on Collins Avenue sandwiched between Indian Creek and the Atlantic Ocean—which Faena and his partner, Ximena Caminos, plan to turn into a hub for multidisciplinary cultural activity.
OMA is designing all three of the buildings slated to open in Miami Beach come fall: The Faena Forum, a two-volume space that imitates a superimposed cylinder and cube, will contain exhibition spaces and hotel and meeting facilities; the Faena Bazaar, a luxury retail complex located in the former Atlantic Beach Hotel, which was built in 1939 and that the firm is partially preserving; and the Faena Car Park, a mechanical valet parking garage with a perforated precast concrete facade, ground-level retail, and a rooftop pavilion with panoramic ocean views.
The car park proved to be an unexpected challenge, due in part to the building’s straightforward program. The firm has experimented with various facets of parking design since the early 1990s: a 1993 proposal for the second of two libraries at Jussieu, a university in Paris, features interior ramps typical of a self-park garage, and the firm incorporated parking facilities in its 2004 Souterrain Tram Tunnel project in The Hague. However, in each case, parking was only a relatively minor consideration in projects otherwise defined by their programmatic hybridity.
The Faena Car Park is OMA’s first freestanding car garage, and the sheer absence of complex activity that stood to transpire inside the building gave Shigematsu and his design team pause when they began working on the building in 2012. “We were crippled by not having enough context or content of program,” he reflected. As they scrambled for programmatic constraints from which to begin generating a scheme for the garage, they realized the project was in fact fertile ground to set aside their usual working methods. Instead of analyzing the program, they began by developing the facade in response to code regulations stipulating that half its area should be porous to facilitate ventilation.
Parking is, famously, a prime commodity in Miami. Indeed, both the forum, which will serve as the district’s locus for arts programming, and the car park are being built on the sites of former grade-level parking lots that flanked the Atlantic Beach Hotel. Upon its completion, OMA’s car park will become part of a constellation of architect-designed parking garages that are now architectural calling cards for the city. Among these, the best known is Herzog & de Meuron’s 1111 Lincoln Road, an open-air, multistory garage completed in 2010 that doubles as a mixed-use development with luxury retail, fine dining, and yoga facilities located next to parking spots. Frank Gehry completed a parking facility adjacent to his New World Center in 2011—the same year that Perkins+Will finished its Miami Beach City Hall Annex garage. Enrique Norten’s Mexico City–based firm, TEN Arquitectos, completed the Park@420 car garage in 2010, and until mid-April, when municipal commissioners rejected the late architect’s designs for a garage in Miami’s Collins Park neighborhood, Zaha Hadid was also slated to build a parking structure.
The typology’s newfound prominence is a welcome change from the previously prevalent reputation of parking garages as dull, even dangerous, structures that have little in the way of architectural merit. “Whether you like the idea of cars or not, the reality is that parking as a structure is the first and last experience that is made,” explained Rand Elliott, founder and principal of Oklahoma City firm Elliott + Associates, which has designed five lauded car garages and published extensive research on the design of car parks. Elliott noted that institutions often underestimate the influence of their parking, treating its architecture as an afterthought: “They just don’t think it through well enough to realize how valuable [parking] is.”
On Collins Avenue, OMA leads the vanguard in Miami parking design by working both above and below the city’s surface. Approximately three dozen of the 235 parking spaces at Faena Car Park will be located below grade, a feat given the high groundwater level in the surrounding neighborhood. “When they started excavating the underground parking, there was a gigantic pool,” recalled Shigematsu. By way of resolution, the firm filled the entire cavity with a concrete lining that hermetically sealed the underground lot from liquid.
Above ground, the structure initially appears to be simple in front elevation: OMA’s facade responds to the tropical climate by imitating the brise-soleil common in Brazilian architecture. Yet the southern elevation exposes the building’s interior mechanics—an elevator that moves vehicles into place—to create a kinetic facade with relatively few elements. For all its functionalism, this feature is just as well conceptual: “The idea,” said Shigematsu, “is making the elevator itself a celebration of this building.”
The car garage emerged as a new typology, derived but distinct from storage warehouses and former horse stables in the 1920s. In 1925, Russian architect Konstantin Melnikov designed two never-built, but prescient, car parks for Paris. One was, in effect, a bridge over the Seine, with ramped decks that spanned the river and a dynamic curvilinear structure; the second was to be built on land, a cube pierced by four winding ramps that ran through its volume.
Though Melnikov’s Paris garage schemes will probably forever remain unrealized, their expressive geometries and implicit recognition of car parks as platforms for viewing the surrounding city foreshadowed the work recently completed by prominent international architects in Miami. Nearly a century later, the designer car park is just as well a destination in its own right: not merely a promontory, but itself a definitive feature of the city’s architectural landscape.
OMA unveils ideas for transforming RFK stadium property to an urban playground for the nation’s Capital
Question: What has three Arcs de Triomphe, an Eiffel Tower, an Egyptian Sphynx, a Louvre, London Bridge and ten White Houses all over? The answer: China, of course. If the Chinese government has its way, that will soon change.https://twitter.com/TheMCRsoviet/status/632080629048459264
The duplicate architectural icons may end there as the country's authorities have said no to anymore "oversized, xenocentric, weird" architecture, The New York Times reports. The State Council and the Communist Party’s Central Committee last week stated that there is to essentially be no more copycat architecture, and instead urged new builds to be “suitable, economic, green and pleasing to the eye.” The directive also stipulated that "the chaotic propagation of grandiose, West-worshipping, weird architecture" should be ended, while gated communities have also been vetoed.
Guidelines arose after meetings discussed issues regarding the alarming rate of urbanization that China is undergoing. Just two years ago, President Xi Jinping expressed his views on China's architectural scene, again deeming it "weird" saying there was to be "no more weird architecture." He went on to say that the current climate displayed "a lack of cultural confidence and some city officials’ distorted attitudes about political achievements," though only now does action appear to be being taken.
According to a translation by the Wall Street Journal Blog, Yang Baojun, vice director of the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design (CAUPA), commented on the directive, saying that "the document is a wake-up call for those places where [there has been] a one-sided pursuit of architectural form over function, where cultural orientation has been compromised by an excessive desire to show off."
The New York Times meanwhile reports that experts have warned of "stricter design standards for public buildings." It also added that, an online forum for the Communist Party newspaper, People's Daily, predicted that "in the future it is unlikely that Beijing will have other strangely shaped buildings like the ‘Giant Trousers’ " referring to the China Central Television Headquarters (CCTV) by OMA.
Feng Guochuan, an architect based in Shenzhen spoke about how the President Xi's words had already begun to have an impact on decision making regarding new projects. He was also worried that Xi was meddling with matters that should only concern urban planners, and not the President. "Generally speaking, local governments now tend to approve more conservative designs," he said.https://twitter.com/DanLewisNews/status/243113209974890496?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
However, Wang Kai, vice president of CAUPA, said these stricture design guidelines would mainly be applied to public schemes, while private projects would still have freedom. "For private housing or commercial projects, there is still space for innovation."
Mr. Wang also added that "we shouldn’t go overboard in pursuit of appearances," going on to say how functionality should be the main concern in public buildings.