Renzo Piano aims to punctuate London's skyline once again. The architect behind the Shard has now designed a cylinder of glass adjacent to Paddington Station. Contrasting his Southwark skyscraper, Piano has proposed a seemingly crystalline, uneven facade wrapping the cylinder that looks to reflect its surroundings with ripple-like qualities. Topping out at 734 feet and 65 floors, the building will rub shoulders with the Cheesegrater (The Leadenhall Building by Richard Rogers standing 738 feet high). Touted for a mixed-use program housing offices, shops, restaurants, cafes, roof garden, hotel, and 200 apartments in London's already pricey West End, residents will be in line for one of (if not the) best views over Hyde Park and maybe even catch a glimpse of the cricket over at Lord's Cricket Ground. Developer Sellar Property Group, which also worked with Piano on the Shard skyscraper, claims the cylindrical tower will change the way Paddington is viewed, with the public no longer seeing the area as a place to catch a train to the west country or visit someone at St. Mary's Hospital. “We believe this exciting proposal will tap into the potential of Paddington and will prove to be a major catalyst for the continuing enhancement of the area,” Sellar chairman Irvine Sellar told BDOnline. “This site shares much of the same DNA [as London Bridge] with its proximity to a major transport hub with tube, railway lines and bus routes, a neighbouring leading teaching hospital and the potential to provide much needed quality public realm.” Planning application is expected to be submitted by the end of the year with the building being complete by 2020. Meanwhile Pringle Richards Sharratt, BDP, TP Bennett, and MSMR have all been enlisted on the projects team. “The current public realm in Paddington is poor, with congestion in and around the entrance to the Bakerloo line leading to frequent closures," Piano told BD. "This scheme looks to remedy those issues, while creating a wonderful sense of place which Paddington greatly needs.”
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From the strange bedfellows files: Musician Pharrell Williams has enlisted Zaha Hadid as a partner to rejuvenate a rather staid athletic shoe. The rubber toecap of Adidas' Superstar design has been remodeled by Hadid. The white version of the shoe features a fan-like 3D motif, while a raised pattern of dots and dashes decorates the black kicks. While AN doesn't pretend to dictate high fashion, we can definitely see pairing up Zaha's sneakers with Renzo Piano's Whitney handbag for an au courant look. The shoes are slated to be in stores August 7. Hadid and other notable architects are no strangers to the world of footwear design. Take a look at our past of architect-designed shoes here.
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.
AN had the unique opportunity to walk around the top floor of the supertall 432 Park Avenue tower, where the full-floor penthouse with a $95 million view of Central Park is nearing completion. A Saudi billionaire, Fawaz Al Hokair, was recently announced as the buyer. Ironically, The Real Deal has reported this week that it was also announced by one of the architects—at a Cornell Center for Real Estate and Finance lecture in December—that the Rafael Viñoly design was inspired by, wait for it, a trashcan. It's no ordinary trash can, however. The alleged inspiration is a design by Viennese Secession/ Wiener Werkstätte mastermind Josef Hoffmann. His gridded designs represented a new rational, rigorous way of composing objects in the beginnings of modern industrial design. Today, apparently, they are being copied at a larger scale for entire building. The geometric purity of the tower originally looked to us like it came from Aldo Rossi, but Hoffmann makes more sense, especially given the urban context/political ambiguity of the building. In the lecture, Harry Macklowe, who co-developed the building with the CIM Group, revealed that Renzo Piano was also considered for the tower but didn’t work out. The idea for a tall building with a pure form came from Piano, and Macklowe carried that idea forward through the project. “Renzo Piano had said to me—if you have a pure architectural form like a square and you uphold the integrity of that architectural form you will build a beautiful building,” Macklowe to the Real Deal. “That stayed in my mind, and I had considered Renzo Piano for the architect, but it didn’t work out for several reasons.” While the world's super-elite who will soon call the tower home likely would snub the idea of living like an albeit more sophisticated Oscar the Grouch, they might do well to pick up their own Hoffmann trashcan, available for a cool $225 from the Neue Galerie.
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.”
In 2010, director Wim Wenders created a 3D video installation at the Venice Architecture Biennale about the Bolex Learning Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, called If These Walls Could Talk. The ability to visually explore the building and simulate being inside the space that the medium affords inspired him to team up with Robert Redford to create a 3D series called Cathedrals of Culture, which will be shown at the IFC Center in New York beginning on May 1. And talk they do. There are six half-hour films, all by different directors, shown in two programs, and five of them are narrated by the buildings themselves. Each is given a voice, which describes the feelings and observations of the structures. So we hear in the first person from the Berlin Philharmonic (Hans Scharoun), the Oslo Opera House (Snohetta), Halden Prison (EMA), The National Library of Russia (Yegor Sokolov), and the Centre Pompidou (Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers). Only the Salk Institute (Louis Kahn) doesn’t employ this technique and is the most successful program. At Salk, it's the perfect melding of brief and building, science and art, the two sparking each other off to make magic. It is now complemented by a like-minded film. Directed by Robert Redford and with stunning cinematography by Ed Lachmann and music by Moby, the film captures the essence of the building and molds the spaces. Kahn’s structure clearly affects the work of the scientists, who speak about "genius loci," the spirit of place. There’s a wonderful image of the staff assembled in a circle and then fanning out across the plaza, like a living organism. We see and hear both Jonas Salk and Louis Kahn, and learn that they raised each other’s game and made a better building; Salk insisted Kahn throw out the first design, and Kahn rebuts that the client isn’t an architect. Then Salk says "eventually Lou Kahn became quite a biologist, and I came to appreciate the importance of aesthetics…to bring out the spirit and soul of man." The campus is filled with light, which hits home when Edward R. Murrow asks Salk who owns the patent for the polio vaccine?: "The people," he replies. "Would you patent the sun?" In the same program is the Centre Pompidou by Karim Ainouz, a Brazilian filmmaker who studied architecture. He spends most of the episode inside the building, maximizing 3D by floating through tunnels, galleries, elevators, back-of-house spaces and the main hall which is treated like an airport arrival and departure lounge. The shot of a window washer gliding up the clear glass-walled escalator holding a sponge in one hand followed by a squeegee in another and letting the upward glide of the moving staircase do the work is pure ballet. The voice of the building is Deyan Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum in London and former editor of Blueprint magazine, who intones "In a digital century, a world of flickering pixels… a machine for culture that I am, which once seemed so violent, so threatening, has the nostalgic charm now of a steam engine." IFC Center. http://www.ifccenter.com Part 1: The Berlin Philharmonic. Director, Wim Wenders The National Library of Russia. Director, Michael Glawogger Halden Prison. Director, Michael Madsen Part 2: The Salk Institute. Director, Robert Redford The Oslo Opera House. Director, Margreth Olin Centre Pompidou. Director, Karim Ainouz
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.]
Last summer, AN reported on Renzo Piano's City Center at Bishop Ranch, the architect's re-invention of the typical shopping center, mixing walkability, culture (including an integrated performance stage), community (including a public "piazza" space") and commerce. In a new short film about the project, Piano spoke about keeping people outside, creating open and transparent storefronts, making a building that will "practically fly above the ground." https://vimeo.com/110900031 The project, located in San Ramon, a remote eastern suburb of San Francisco, centers around the plaza, which is surrounded by six raised glass pavilions. Piano explained how he is creating a suburban building that is nonetheless unpredictable, natural and "very California." "After a while you hear a little bell ringing," explained Piano, of his design process epiphany. "This is not a shopping mall. It's something else."
If you haven't been up on the High Line recently, or perhaps ever–looking at you Mayor de Blasio–then you've been missing out on some big new projects from architecture's biggest names–we're talking about your Hadid’s, your Foster’s, your Piano’s, and your Kohn Pedersen Fox’s. AN recently took a stroll along the 'ole rail line to see the progress on Renzo Piano’s nearly-completed Whitney Museum, the quickly-rising Hudson Yards, and all the fancy condos rising in between. Take a look at the gallery below to see all that's been happening on the park that every city wants to recreate.
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.
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.