Posts tagged with "Quebec":
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.”
Photoengraved concrete connects past and present in Montreal student housing.Though the site on which KANVA's Edison Residence was recently constructed stood vacant for at least 50 years, its emptiness belied a more complicated history. Located on University Street just north of McGill University's Milton gates, the student apartment building lies within one of Montreal's oldest neighborhoods. Photographs dating to the mid-19th century show a stone house on the lot, but by 1960 the building "had disappeared; it was erased," said founding partner Rami Bebawi. Excavation revealed that the original house had burned to the ground. Prompted by the site's history, as well as an interest in exploring cutting-edge concrete technology, the architects delivered a unique solution to the challenge of combining old and new: a photoengraved concrete facade featuring stills from Thomas Edison's 1901 film of Montreal firefighters. Knowing that Edison Residence would be subject to heavy use by its student occupants, KANVA chose concrete—featured on the interior as well as the building envelope—for its durability and sustainability. But the architects were not interested in sticking to tried-and-true building methods. "Being right in front of a university, we took it upon ourselves to say, 'We're going to push concrete technology,'" explained Bebawi. "We wanted the building itself to be a laboratory to experiment with concrete, and to make this innovation public and accessible to all." Because they also hoped to use the facade to tell a story, they turned to photoengraving, a technique developed by the German firm Reckli. Reckli translates black and white images into grooves of different depths and widths that offer a total of 256 shades of grey. "It brings the building to life, just like cinematography brings photos to life," said Bebawi, noting that the images may appear and disappear according to one's viewpoint. "It's not a stain. We're looking at something that is permanent, yet dynamic." Choosing the content of the photoengraved panels proved more difficult. "Here's a tool that's powerful, but very scary," said Bebawi. "It's like a billboard in Times Square, but it doesn't change every 30 seconds. You have this kind of social responsibility [to make an appropriate choice]." Thinking about photoengraving's capacity to animate a building led KANVA to early moving pictures, or "tableaux mouvants," and in turn to Edison's role in developing film technology. When they discovered his Montreal Fire Department on Runners, filmed just blocks away from the Edison Residence site, they knew they had it. "All of sudden we closed the loop," recalled Bebawi. "Fires transformed the city." The architects extracted twenty images from the film and sent them to Germany, where Reckli manufactured rubber liners for use during the pouring of the precast panels. Local prefabricated concrete company Saramac fabricated and installed the panels back in Montreal. For continuity, all of the street facade's glazing (manufactured and installed by Groupe Lessard) features additional screen-printed stills from Edison's film. Depending on the position of the sun, the film sequence becomes more or less visible. Variations in the facade depth form a base and cornice, and add to the effect. "When the sun's not at the right angle, the grooves make it look like it's simply an inserted masonry building," said Bebawi. "At other times, it comes to life." Other aspects of the building, including the prominent porte-cochère, nod to local architectural traditions. Yellow metal accents offer additional animation "by sort of an urban signal," said Bebawi. "This yellow is screaming out. It pulls you into the porte-cochère entrance and is expressed on lateral and rear facades." The remainder of the building is unornamented concrete, in keeping with the quarter's environmental code. "It had to be a masonry building according to the heritage standards," said Bebawi. "Obviously, we played with that: 'I can fit your rules, but speak in terms of 2014.' It was a great collaboration with municipal and provincial authorities." Edison Residence embodies a third way to reconcile new construction with history. "When you think about our relationship to the past in terms of architecture, you can demolish it, imitate it, or contrast it," said Bebawi. "This building takes a different position. Depending on the way you place yourself, sometimes the past appears, and sometimes it doesn't."
Asensio_mah & Harvard's Graduate School of Design's moss-covered installation is architecture on the cellular levelWhen visitors stroll through Quebec's Redford Gardens, the first of many large installations they come upon is Surface Deep, an undulating, moss-covered structure designed by international architecture firm asensio_mah in collaboration with students from Harvard's Graduate School of Design. It was built last summer, but with this year's Metis International Garden Festival, Surface Deep is once again getting major foot traffic in the most literal sense of the word. Surface Deep is a mountable, climbable series of snaking panels that invites visitors to explore it in its entirety, from its long, sweeping form to its small, mossy nooks. The panels vary in height depending on their angle, but have a constant width of 0.5m. The plywood frame and the patterned overlays were made at the Harvard Graduate School of Design's Fabrication Laboratory over a two-week period using CNC milling, robotic water jet cutting and welding. White celltech plastic trays were constructed to house the moss substrate, which were then fixed within the plywood frame and covered with panels. The parts were shipped to Quebec and assembled on site with steel anchor plates. Once the team had an idea of the overall gesture of the installation, they worked with a local biologist, Suzanna Campeau at Bryophyta Technologies, to determine which species of mosses were best suited to the microclimates created by the varying orientations and lean of the individual panels. Some panels, for example, receive full sunlight while others are in constant shade. According to the students, "the first 11 units were made with Niphotrichum canescens (a sun-loving species), unit 12 is planted with Callicladium haldanianum while the other units remaining (13 to 22) were made with a mixture of Callicladium haldanianum and other shade-loving, forest species such as Pleurozium schreberii and Ptilium crista-castrensis." Campeau grew the moss on a geotextile, a permeable fabric often used with soil for erosion control or slope stabilization. The "moss textile" was then installed on a plywood substrate and into the panel system where it's held in place by the webbed overlay. The team used the cellular structure of moss as their design inspiration for the web-like panel pattern, though they have practical applications as well. The panels help with water retention, keep the moss protected and actually provide it with some shade, albeit on the micro level. It requires watering, but the overall maintenance is quite low. And though Surface Deep is not considered permanent, the installation will be kept in the park for several years to come.