Last week another point was scored for social media as the de rigueur disseminator of architecture with the opening of Rem Koolhaas' Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow’s Gorky Park. As new media takes over old, images of Facebook’s new headquarters by Frank Gehry hit Instagram first, the announcement of BIG replacing Norman Foster at Two World Trade Center came through on Wired, and it may have reached its natural apex with the Garage designed by OMA. The first images of the museum flooded Instagram several hours before the June 10 press event—the museum officially opened on June 12. Feeds from photographer Iwan Baan—@iwanbaan—Nadine Johnson PR, and of course Garage’s own account @garagemca, all captured the guts and glory of a building that still seemed to be finishing up construction. A more traditional press event with architect Rem Koolhaas, museum founder Dasha Zhukova, museum director Anton Belov and Garage chief curator Kate Fowle complimented the social media onslaught. The team sat under a giant mosaic from the building’s previous life as the 1960s pre-fabricated restaurant Vremena Goda where OMA cleverly (when are they not?) retained the generous interior spaces and replaced the exterior with a translucent polycarbonate enclosure. Koolhaas, like Gehry, seems to be returning back to his early projects for inspiration, utilizing low-cost materials for both economical reasons and to subtly subvert expectations of taste. Now, that off-the-shelf approach applies to media and storytelling. By revealing the project via a purely visual medium like Instagram, Koolhaas liberates the architectural narrative from the traditional modes of transmission much like he has altered our preconceptions of what types of buildings materials can be used for and to what purpose. These well-known architects are not the only ones taking charge of their own narratives via social media and using those platforms to create exposure that might not otherwise occur. Los Angeles–based Warren Techentin of WTA created the La Cage Aux Folles installation in the courtyard of experimental gallery Materials & Applications. Collective posts on Instagram led to digital coverage in before appearing in print. Leave it to OMA to most seamlessly integrate old and new media (intentionally or not) to build a narrative for the Garage Museum, an institution positioned to transform from an outpost of the art world to one that spawns its own curatorial efforts.
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Last September, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat invited me to serve as the special media correspondent for its Shanghai symposium, entitled Future Cities: Towards Sustainable Vertical Urbanism. I conducted video interviews with dozens of architects, developers, building managers, and others on topics relevant to tall building design and sustainable urbanism. Among the many designers, engineers and other tall building types I interviewed were Jos Melchers of MAB Development & OMA partner Ellen van Loon. We discussed the design of De Rotterdam, an innovative mixed-use development that won CTBUH's 2014 Best Tall Building award for Europe. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OygY60WSibU De Rotterdam's design resembles several skyscrapers stacked closely together, with bridges and protrusions in the facade connecting them into a single, flowing mass. "What you do in a low-rise city, where buildings are very close to each other with different functions, is now basically translated into a high-rise building," said van Loon. "I think what is interesting for me about this building is that tenants see each other on different heights... so not only the physical connections, but the view connections create a community in that building." Van Loon said it was a challenge to temper the community-building aspect of the building's connections with their potential to create confusion in the program or an overwhelming presence on the skyline. The result was the largest building in the Netherlands, but one that developer Jos Melchers said still respects the site. Getting tenants on board was another challenge at first, he said, but now the unusual layout is "becoming part of the city." "You feel that you can make a really mixed-use, multifunctional building," Melchers said. "The tenant has to believe in the concept of a vertical city. Of course tenants want to have their own block, their own building."
This abandoned rail corridor in Singapore will soon be a nationwide linear park, and these firms are competing to design it
Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has shortlisted five winning design firms for an RFP to overhaul the Singapore Rail Corridor. Defunct since 2011 and once a prominent Singapore–Malaysia trade route, the railway spans the entire country from north to south starting at the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station to the Woodlands Checkpoint. A competition launched by the URA requested proposals to transform the 15-mile stretch into a public greenway connecting four important urban nodes: Buona Vista, the Bukit Timah Railway Station area, former Bukit Timah Fire Station, and Kranji. The five shortlisted design teams are as follows:
- West 8 and DP Architects
- Grant Associates and MVRDV with Architects 61
- Turenscape International and MKPL Architects
- Nikken Sekkei with Tierra Design
- OLIN Partnership and OMA Asia with DP Architects
Earlier this year AN's Eavesdrop column predicted the shortlist for Wilshire Boulevard Temple's "Gathering Place," a 55,000-square-foot event space across the street from the institution's sanctuary. The final list has been revealed and includes big hitters such as OMA, Kengo Kuma & Associates, Morphosis Architects, and Steven Holl Architects. The only firm we didn't predict was Holl (we had Renzo Piano taking the fourth spot). According to the temple, the New York Times prematurely crowned OMA as the winner. "These things often leak but don’t always get reported accurately," said Temple spokesperson Susan Gordon. The announcement of the winning team is still "weeks away," said Gordon. Members of the selection committee include Erika Glazer, Eli Broad, Tony Pritzker, Dana Hutt, and Richard Koshalek. Meanwhile the temple—which is following an ambitious master plan— has already begun construction on the renovation of two school buildings, its Karsh Social Service Center, a rooftop athletic facilities, and a new landscaped walking path. Stay tuned for more.
Should you be looking for yet another reason to add Milan to your architectural travel itinerary, the Prada Foundation is scheduled to open its many doors to the public on May 9. Designed by Rem Koolhaas/OMA, the campus—part new construction, part rehabbed structures—will include 120,000 square feet of exhibition space, a theater, a children's area, a restaurant, and library. "It is surprising that despite the enormous expansion of art media, the number of typologies for the display of art remains limited," commented Koolhaas on his website. "It seems that art's apotheosis is unfolding in an increasingly limited repertoire of spatial conditions: The gallery (white, abstract, and neutral), the industrial space (attractive because of its predictable conditions which are meant to remain neutral when juxtaposed with any artwork), the contemporary art museum (a barely disguised version of the department store), and the purgatory of the art fair." The Prada Foundation is located in a former distillery at Largo Isarco, an industrial complex dating from 1910 that comprises seven existing buildings, including a warehouse, laboratories, and brewing silos surrounded by a large courtyard. OMA inserted three new structures into the site: a museum for temporary exhibitions, a transformable cinema building, and a ten-story gallery tower. Opening exhibits will draw on the holdings of the Prada Collection (which is heavy on 20th century and contemporary art) and works on loan from museums around the world. Projects commissioned for the occasion are also on the program; Robert Gober and Thomas Demand have created site-specific installations that engage the old and new architectures, and Roman Polanski has produced a documentary film that explores his cinematographic inspirations. [via NY Times.]
More than seventy years after their creation, a collection of classic office furniture by Jean Prouvé is being updated and released to the market. Dutch fashion purveyor G-Star, in conjunction with Swiss furniture manufacturer Vitra, have developed "Prouvé Raw," a collection of ten pieces that include chairs, desk and wall lighting, conference tables, and writing desks. And Rem Koolhaas also plays a role in this revival. In 2014, OMA and Koolhaas completed a new headquarters for G-Star. Observing an affinity between the architecture and the Prouvé pieces that was mirrored by the design philosophy of the fashion house, a decision was made to outfit the offices, conference rooms, and canteens of the new building with the seven-decade-old furnishings. In cooperation with the Prouvé family, Vitra adapted the French designer’s furnishings to meet the needs of today’s office. Desks have been modularized, and fitted with concealed runs for cables and pop-up power outlets. The swiveling desk chair has a more stable five-branch base. Teaming up with art directors at G-Star, color and material palettes were created that are true to the aesthetic of both Prouvé and the Dutch company. Several shades of industrial green, and leather and fabric upholstery complement the steel and solid-wood furnishings. The Prouvé Raw collection debuts next month at Salone in Milan.
It was always a question of when—not if—Rem Koolhaas would join the starchitect party alongside New York City's High Line. With the third phase of the popular park open, and multiple splashy projects rising alongside it, the New York Post is reporting that Koolhaas' time has come: he has been hired by The Related Companies to design a building on West 18th Street. Related is also developing a nearby building by Koolhaas' former student and then partner, Zaha Hadid. While there are very few details about Koolhaas' new building, it will certainly be significant given that it is the world-renowned architect's first major project in New York City—a city which he, of course, explored in depth over 30 years ago in Delirious New York. Rem's High Line tower won't be the only project his firm, OMA, will be working on in the New York City region. Last year, Koolhaas' team was selected as one of the major winners of HUD's Rebuild by Design competition.
Wilshire Boulevard Temple, one of Los Angeles' historic gems, was just splendidly renovated by a team led by Brenda Levin & Associates. Now it appears to have shortlisted some of the world's top architects for its 55,000 square foot addition. The temple has declined to comment on the shortlist, but according to a source OMA, Renzo Piano, Morphosis and Kengo Kuma are now competing to design a 55,000-square-foot addition. Called The Gathering Place, the$30-35 million event and programming space will contain a banquets hall, cafe, meeting and conference rooms, and administrative spaces located at the northwest corner of Wilshire and Harvard boulevards. "The design must establish an iconic profile while taking into account the adjacent historic sanctuary building," noted the competition RFQ. That's not an easy task considering the phenomenal presence of the Byzantine revival sanctuary. Finalists' submissions are due at the end of January, and the winning team will be chosen in June. Members of the architect selection committee include philanthropists Eli Broad and Tony Pritzker, and one advisor to the committee is Richard Koshalek, who oversaw the competition for Walt Disney Concert Hall, among others.
Kentucky ranks 17th in the nation for household food insecurity, according to Feeding America Kentucky's Heartland, a local charity. In West Louisville, where nearly half of residents live in poverty, a nonprofit developer is hoping to change that with the help of some high-profile architects. Seed Capital Kentucky's plan is an OMA-designed “Food Hub” on an abandoned plot of land once used to cut and dry tobacco. Mayor Greg Fischer last year gave them a 24-acre vacant parcel of land in the West End worth $1.2 million for the project, which he called "a green job-generating machine for west Louisville." The project could create about 250 permanent jobs and 270 construction jobs, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. WDRB first reported last week that the hub's designers include OMA and local firm GBBN Architects. The Fox affiliate reported Seed Capital Kentucky is $1 million into their $20 million fundraising goal, seeking $46 million in total, including future fundraising phases. That money would go to several programs, including a food bank, retailers, and a biodigester that turns organic waste into heat and energy. So far four organizations are formally on board: KHI Foods, Jefferson County Cooperative Extension, Star Distributed Energy, and the Weekly Juicery. The site, at South 30th Street between Muhammad Ali Boulevard and Market Street, is in a USDA-certified food desert. Seed Capital Kentucky founder Stephen Reily hopes the Food Hub will help alleviate hunger and stoke investment in the neighborhood. "Our vision for this project is one that collapses a lot of those middle men and transactions into one place where they can all work together to help create more fresh, regional food and help our region feed itself more sustainably," he told WDRB.
At the recent Design Miami fest, artist Naihan Li exhibited her work-of-art wardrobe, which is helpfully—or confusingly—titled I AM A MONUMENT. (Apologies, and a tip of the chapeau, to Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour.) The monument in question is, of course, Rem Koolhaas' CCTV building. But the homage isn't limited to the exterior of the structure. Inside—the cabinet, if not the building—things get interesting. The elaborate compartments and cupboards contained in the rosewood armoire would seem to take inspiration from programmatic diagrams of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture's Beijing skyscraper. The artist explained her thinking: "The CCTV tower, shaped like a loop of video in endless production, has been turned into a wardrobe, where the ritual of dressing and undressing can also be said to be an endless loop."
Having designed what is arguably Beijing's most recognizable building, CCTV, OMA is ready to make a similar, if slightly smaller, mark in Shanghai. They've just won a commission to design the Lujiazui Exhibiton Centre, located on the northern edge of Shanghai Pudong, a famed tower-filled area along the Huangpu River. The project, sponsored by the Lujiazui Central Financial District Development Corporation, takes its cues from its formerly industrial location along the former Shanghai Shipyard, and actually sits on a former ship cradle. It will be wrapped in a metallic mesh, exposing its steel structure and recalling the under-construction boat hulls once common on the site. The firm plans to transform the nautical ramp into a large-scale theatrical space for events, carving out a covered plaza under the elevated, cantilevered building. Completion is set for the end of next year, a lighting fast schedule for anywhere but China.
This Fall, I served as special media correspondent for The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat's September symposium in Shanghai. The topic was “Future Cities: Towards Sustainable Vertical Urbanism,” and among the many architects, engineers and other tall building types I interviewed was Ole Scheeren—founder Büro Ole Scheeren and former director at OMA. In light of Scheeren's recent work on The Interlace in Singapore and Bangkok's MahaNakhon, we talked about exploring the power of public space and shared experiences in tall buildings. “The city is about sharing,” said Scheeren. “The city is not about individuality per se but it's about how individuals come together and the spaces they share. And in a way the adventure of that space.”