And… action. In a unanimous vote the LA City Council approved Renzo Piano’s plans for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. The design, which includes a renovation of the AC Martin’s May Company Building on Wilshire and Fairfax avenues and the eye-popping addition of a 140-foot-diameter glass and steel globe sited behind the existing 1939 building, comes with at $300 million estimated construction cost and hopes to open in 2017. Located next to LACMA, the 290,000-square-foot museum is the third Piano project on the block. Its bold, spherical form (which will house a 1,000-seat theater) breaks character from the architect’s more low-key Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM) and the Resnick Pavilion on the LACMA campus. “I am thrilled that Los Angeles is gaining another architectural and cultural icon,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in a statement. “My office of economic development has worked directly with the museum’s development team to ensure that the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will create jobs, support tourism, and pay homage to the industry that helped define our identity as the creative capital of the world.” While the City Council’s 13-0 vote ensures that the building moves forward into permitting, the project has seen some bumps in the road. Last year, AN reported that Culver City firm SPF:a, which had been working with Piano on the project since 2012, was removed from the project. The question of traffic and parking in the neighborhood remains a hurdle. The Los Angeles Times reported that activist non-profit Fix the City, is “weighing legal action to stall development.” The organization cites an 860,000 visitor increase to the area as a burden on existing streets and parking lots. When constructed, the sure-to-be iconic Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will compete with the hot-rod facade of the Petersen Automotive Museum designed by KPF, now under construction across the street. Both designs will be trumped if and when Peter Zumthor’s Wilshire-crossing proposal for LACMA takes shape.
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Starchitect Renzo Piano has vowed to soldier on with mega-sized plans for a Jurassica Resort on England's island of Portland in the English Channel, despite being denied a $24.5 million bid for Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF). “The project is now continuing into development without an HLF development grant,” a spokesman for the project told Architect’s Journal. Jurassica’s backers said they will re-apply for the grant and are not acquiescing to appeals for a downsize. The brainchild of science journalist Mike Hanion, Jurassica Resort will be the world’s largest immersive prehistoric environment. Although designed with a museum’s vital organs, the facility itself is essentially a limestone quarry 132 feet-deep beneath a translucent glass roof supported by the quarry walls. The building itself is designed to be “more or less invisible.” Beneath the glass is a Jurassic-period coastal cove, where visitors will walk beneath towering cliffs, sea-stacks and arches covered in exotic trees, past a living reef festooned with corals and patrolled by sharks and stingray. Those with the tenacity can venture into a forested ravine where the “dinosaurs” rove. Animatronic dinosaur displays, an aquarium, and swimming plesiosaurs are just a few of the promised wonders. The subterranean dinosaur museum will be located on Dorset’s Jurassic coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising a 95-mile stretch of cliff distilling 180 million years of geological history. “We will pick a specific period in prehistory and everything you see will be both realistic and an accurate representation of the plants and animals that were alive during that time,” said David Lazenby, Creative Director of Azureus Design, on board for the exhibit design. “The Jurassic Cove will not be a theme park display but a spectacular and precise snapshot in time that will bring the heritage of the Jurassic Coast to life.” Hanion believes the park could draw 800,000 visitors regularly and employ approximately 200 people. Yearly revenue of $30.3 million for the local economy has also been estimated. Project managers are intent on securing alternative funding, with the goal of opening Jurassica Resort by 2019 or 2020. “At £16 million ($24.5 million), public funds from HLF were always only part of our funding strategy for a project costing some £80 million (around $122.6 million),” said the spokesman. “We have applied to and will apply to scientific trusts and other grant-giving bodies both in the UK and overseas, and have already attracted financial support from business and HNWI based locally and nationally.”
The new Whitney Museum of American Art is opening on Friday, May 1. (Get your sneak peek inside the museum over here!) But a whopping 28,000 ton museum isn't the only thing Renzo Piano has up his sleeve—he's also designed the must-have fashion accessory with which to be seen browsing art at Manhattan's newest Meatpacking District hotspot. Behold, the "Whitney Bag." The handbag was officially unveiled last week at a star-studded event atop the Standard hotel, which features sweeping views of the new Whitney. The limited edition bag is being launched in conjunction with the opening of the museum, and Renzo Piano collaborated on the bag's design with MaxMara creative director Ian Griffiths. Staying true to his design ethos, Piano's first handbag features clean lines and distinct detailing. In an interview with MaxMara, Piano said the purse design is directly linked to the building. "The initial idea was very clear right from the start: our aim was to apply one of the most characteristic elements of the museum project – the facade—to the bag: hence the idea of the modular strips enveloping the exterior," Piano said. Griffiths told NY Mag's The Cut blog at the launch, "I just hope that in 20 years' time, the bag is as much of an icon as this building." Piano added that the Whitney Bag would likely remain his only handbag design. "This is our first such experience, and I believe it will remain the only one," he said. "We decided to take up the proposal by Max Mara because it was closely connected to the Whitney Museum of American Art and its upcoming opening to the public, and also with the intention of dedicating the profits to the Renzo Piano Foundation to finance its cultural and educational projects." The Whitney Bag will be available in two sizes and four colors, but only 250 of the signature grey-blue bag inspired by the color of the museum are being made (and are reportedly sold out).
On May 1, the southern terminus of the High Line will have a true anchor tenant. Renzo Piano's towering new Whitney Museum for American Art will throw open its glass doors—or at least unlock the revolving ones—as tourists and eager New Yorkers alike throng in for a look around the highly anticipated gallery spaces. Until then, here's a peek at the the museum, inside and out, from a press junket on Thursday. Inside, a lobby space clad on three sides in a crystal-clear glass curtain wall fills the museum with natural light. The museum's restaurant, Untitled, and its gift store flow seamlessly through the space. Elevators whisk visitors to the galleries above. At the top, a series of skylights diffuse light into gallery spaces and a large outdoor terrace extends from another cafe. A series of highly detailed catwalks provides views of the High Line, New York's skyline, and the museum itself. The overlapping outdoor spaces connected by stairways will surely be a highlight of many high-design soirees in years to come. Moving through the galleries, the museum's white walls and grey metal grids are contrasted with a light natural wood floor. An internal stairway featuring a waterfall of cascading light bulbs guides visitors down through the museum. Take a look at the gallery below for a look of AN's tour through the Whitney on Thursday. Watch for your next print issue of The Architect's Newspaper, where we'll publish our full critique of the museum and delve into its history. [All images by Branden Klayko / AN.]
Downtown Des Moines, Iowa, courted an all-star list of architecture firms for a new $92 million corporate headquarters that has the unfortunate baggage of being helmed by the world’s most cringe-inducingly named and spelled convenience store chain, Kum & Go. BIG, Morphosis, SOM, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, and Safdie Architects all competed for what CEO Kyle Krause is calling Des Moines’ next landmark. And that landmark is going to be designed by the Piano man himself. According to the Des Moines Register, the convenience store was attracted to Piano's "ability to emphasize collaboration, transparency and light." The new building will be located between 14th and 15th streets north of the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, and locals hope the new building will take a back seat to the art on display that includes works by the likes of Jaume Plensa. The headquarters will house 300 employees in some 120,000 square feet and is expected to be complete in 2017. "What we want to do is create the best environment for our associates," Krause told the Register. "Architecturally, sure, they'll do a great job, but it's really about that inside space and what you can create inside the building that is best for our people." He added that Piano is "a great down-to-earth guy who we think can create the space that creates the transparency, the collaboration, the openness for our people to have a nice work space." Eavesdrop can’t be the only one who feels uncomfortable gassing up at this midwestern roadside retailer—but maybe a work of starchitecture can change our minds.
Just six miles north of Renzo Piano’s highly-anticipated, High Line–adjacent, Whitney Museum, two other projects birthed from the same Italian brain are moving forward: Columbia University’s Jerome L. Greene Science Center and the Lenfest Center for the Arts. Speaking of brains, the nine-story, glass-encased Science Center is the future home of the Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Initiative. Construction-watcher Field Condition recently visited the building which is now almost entirely wrapped in glass. Behind that nearly-completed glass curtain wall, Field Condition reported that framing, piping, ductwork, and sheetrock installation are ongoing. Next to that Piano-designed glass box is the new Center for the Arts, another glassy Piano creation that has recently topped out. Both the Science Center and Center for the Arts are slated to open in 2016, making them two of the first buildings in Columbia's bourgeoning Manhattanville campus.
You might know Renzo Piano as the architect behind many of the world's leading museums, but get ready to meet Renzo Piano, wind-turbine expert. Testing has commenced on Renzo Piano’s small-scale wind-turbine blade at the Molinetto Test Field near Pisa, Italy. Piano’s turbine blade resembles a dragonfly’s wing and incorporates elements from the insect that promote stability in flight in order to allow the turbine to tolerate gale-force winds. Piano's slender, two-blade turbine differs from the customary three-blade scheme and has proven to operate successfully in low-intensity wind. To avoid spinning too quickly during storms, larger turbines typically use particular blades that stall at too-high speeds, or computerized systems that regulate the blade angles according to wind speed. Such systems are too costly to use with small-scale turbines, as they do not generate enough power to justify the price. The dragonfly turbine, which benefits from tough, lightweight composite resources, takes advantage of even the slightest breeze—it utilizes winds of only 6.5-feet-per-second for rather endless power. It can also be used effectively even at lower elevations than its larger counterparts. Designed with transparent plexiglass panels that emphasize the internal carbon structure, the turbine has minimal visual impact. While not in motion, the blades align with the mast to blend in with the environment. Held to the ground by cables, the tower is just 65 feet tall and 13 inches in diameter. The dragonfly has generated over 1200 KWh of energy over the course of a couple months. The prototype will continue to be tested for a few more months, followed by mass production as part of a groundbreaking approach that aims for advanced performance on all renewable technologies.
Renzo Piano has unveiled renderings for the new Palais de Justice, positioned on the northern edge of central Paris in the urban expansion area of Clichy-Batignolles, which will provide space for and unite numerous judicial services presently scattered throughout the city. The law courts complex appears as a slender, translucent, 525-foot-tall tower comprised of four stacked rectangular masses diminishing in size as they ascend. The structure includes extensive fenestration to blend the division of the interior and exterior, in addition to two exterior glass elevators offering expansive views of the city. Three atria at the 64,600 square foot ground level piazza direct views into the towers overhead that encompass 30 floors grouped into three levels, each containing 10 floors. The structure consists of 90 courtrooms, offices, and meeting rooms for the magistrates, public prosecutor, and presiding judges. The floor plans within the three sections decrease in scale, forming a tiered system with space for terraces, which incorporate roof gardens landscaped with trees. The terraces accommodate solar panels and a rainwater collection system, and the building is on track to set a new standard for energy efficiency in tall buildings. Designed for efficiency and simplicity, the thin proportions of the courthouse are systematically organized so as to guarantee plentiful daylight throughout, and even extending to the tower’s center. The site is situated at a major crossroads between the administrative areas of the city and its suburbs, and is well linked by public transportation, including the northern expanse of the exceedingly successful, recently completed tramway system. The Palais de Justice is expected to open by 2017.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bz8Y761n5H0 Renzo Piano is again in architectural relationship with Louis Kahn. Early in his career, Piano worked briefly with the Louis I. Kahn office. This time, his architecture is separate but complementary. Set to open on November 27th, the Renzo Piano Pavilion at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, TX will expand the exhibition space of the historic 1972 Louis Kahn-designed museum, creating an art complex on the site. A new video preview of the building has been released, in which Kimbell Director Eric Lee explores the exterior features and promotes excitement for its opening. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCfUiEmRQVc Piano’s design plays with light and lightness in the same materials used by Kahn: light-colored concrete, glass, and wood. It adds an underground auditorium, three additional galleries, and a education center to the Kimbell, while using half the amount of energy required by the Kahn Building. Distinct yet in constant dialogue, Piano himself pronounced that the buildings of the Kimbell Art Museum are "close enough for a conversation, not too close and not too far away." [h/t Lee Rosembaum / CultureGrrl ]
CTC realized Piano's design concept by designing and fabricating a cladding system of a structural steel tube framework covered by extensive FRP panels.For his design of the Resnick Pavilion at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Renzo Piano revived an idea he first explored with Richard Rogers in their design of the Centre George Pompidou in Paris: the idea of the building as an organic breathing machine. At Pompidou, the architects turned the museum’s mechanical systems into expressive elements, color coding the pipes, ducts, gantries, and escalators and pulling them to the exterior of the structure. At the Resnick Pavilion, Piano located the mechanical rooms and air handling units prominently outside the four corners of the 45,000-square-foot building, applying cladding to the ductwork in a bright red color used in circulation corridors throughout the LACMA campus. Piano turned to Capastrano Beach, California-based design/build firm CTC (Creative Teknologies Corporation) to realize his design concept. “We took in data from three parties,” said CTC president Eric Adickes. “Piano gave us perspective sketches of how he wanted the air handling units to look, the air conditioning contractor, Acco, gave us Revit drawings, and the general contractor, MATT Construction, gave us 2D Autocad documents of the building and concrete foundation.” From those sources, CTC developed 3D models of a cladding system for the ventilation ducts using CATIA. The cladding system includes a structural steel framework that bolts to the ductwork, and fiber reinforced plastic (FRP) cladding that attaches to the steel. CTC coordinated with Piano’s office to refine the profiles of the system to achieve the architect’s vision. “Piano wanted flat surfaces with radiuses,” said Adickes. “FRP behaves in ways that you have to compensate for shrinkages and the material loosing its shape. If you’re not careful it can change its shape and not be what you think it’s going to be in the end result.” In order to ensure the flat-plane look, CTC relied on techniques commonly used in automotive construction, giving the material intentional crowns of as much as an inch or more. This technique applied double curves to all of the panels, which are as large as 10 feet by 15 feet. The intentional crowns produce the illusion of flatness and avoid any unintentional oil canning or puffing in the material, which would give the cladding a cheap appearance. “It’s part of the trade,” said Adickes. “You have to know the material to tactfully build the crowns in so you don’t go to far or too little.” Once Piano signed off on the models, CTC fed the CATIA data into its CNC routers, which cut the profiles from the FRP panels. CTC also installed the cladding system, attaching the steel structure to the ductwork and the FRP panels to the steel. Once installed, the firm painted the panels on-site.
It's been a good year for breathtaking views of cities around the world so far. Today the observation deck at the top of Renzo Piano's Shard Tower in London opened to the public after London Mayor Boris Johnson cut the ribbon on the 800-foot-high platform. To celebrate, The Guardian has launched an interactive panorama of London taken from the top of the Shard, some 1,150 feet above the city streets, complete with the wooshing sound you very well might hear if you were actually perched atop the tower. The panorama also features stories and statistics about buildings and places throughout the city as you pan and zoom for the rest of the evening.