Posts tagged with "Renzo Piano":

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Renzo Piano to lead reconstruction efforts after Italian earthquake

Although rescue teams are still in the process of recovering the injured and deceased from the rubble, Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi has announced that acclaimed Italian architect Renzo Piano will lead the country’s recovery from a disastrous 6.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the towns of Amatrice, Accumoli, and Pescara del Tronto on August 24th. Piano, who was appointed an Italian senator for life in 2013, has deep experience working with UNESCO and in earthquake zones from Japan to California. He will be joined in his task by local governor Vasco Errani of Emilia Romagna, who has been appointed as a special commissioner to oversee post-quake reconstruction. Errani headed a similar reconstruction effort after a series of earthquakes rocked his region in 2012, leaving 27 dead as well as thousands without homes. Piano’s reconstruction plan features a three-pronged approach. First, over the next six months 2,900 displaced residents—currently occupying 58 tent encampments—will move to semi-permanent, lightweight wooden shelters. Second, Piano projects taking six to eight months to rebuild the affected areas. The third prong of Piano’s plan involves bolstering seismic regulations across the country, with the goal of making existing structures like homes, public buildings, and cultural sites more earthquake resistant. Piano spoke with The Guardian, underlining the urgency of the developing situation, saying, “We have to act quickly, with the utmost urgency. Anti-seismic requirements must be inserted in the laws of the country to make our homes safe, just as it’s compulsory for a car to have brakes that work.” As has been true in previous, large-scale earthquake events, unreinforced and masonry structures are often to blame for a large percentage of overall deaths. Italy, with its large stock of old and ancient brick structures, as well as a thriving informal construction culture, is especially susceptible to seismic events. The improvement of seismic regulations is an intergenerational project Piano envisions taking place over the next 50 years. Piano went on to tell The Guardian, “We are speaking about the ridge of the Apennines, the backbone of Italy from north to south, an operation projected over 50 years and two generations,” he said. “We are talking about millions of buildings, it is not impossible if you work through generations.”
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Renzo Piano’s Whitney is an architectural “tourist trap”

When the new Whitney Museum of American Art opened on Manhattan’s West Side a little over a year ago, critical reactions were mixed. Like the majority of contemporary commentary, much of the critique was aimed at the outside of the building. There was also praise for an interior that defers to the art and a bit of positivity about the views. Some gushed about how daring it was for a building to physically engage with its surroundings at ground level.

However, a year after the initial “wait and see,” it is time to call the Renzo Piano–designed Whitney building what it really is: An architectural tourist trap. It is the conceptual built equivalent of Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar (GAKB) in Times Square.

What does a tourist trap do? Like any good tourist trap, the Whitney relies too much on its surroundings. The site at the apex of the High Line along the Hudson River is one of the best in the city. An architect would have to try hard to not have great views. Putting a few couches along floor-to-ceiling windows is not a world-class experience—most locals can get sixth-floor views from a friend’s roof or balcony. Like GAKB in Times Square, the Whitney has such a good location for its purpose that it doesn’t actually need to do anything to attract visitors. It is just there, housing an awkward collection of early modern art—good Hoppers and mediocre Ruschas.

Because it is a tourist trap, it also doesn’t need to inspire anyone to come back. What about this museum makes us want to visit again? We come for Piano, much like diners come for Guy. At GAKB, there is not decadent, diner-inspired food, only limp lettuce and uninspiring Caesar dressing. At the Whitney, where are Piano’s poetic details? Where is the tectonic novelty? What happened to the inventive, integrated systems and materials? The Whitney is all of the bad things about Piano’s work: It is washed-out and soulless, without any of the Piano magic. How can we connect to it?

The outdoor spaces seem arbitrarily proportioned and like afterthoughts. We might find the under-designed railings at an institutional building or a second-rate theme park. The oft-heard excuse is that this is part of the industrial heritage of the site, and is meant to evoke being on a fire escape. Yes, beloved industrial buildings and fire escapes have fine characteristics—materiality, the patina and layers of time, spatial experiences with compression, release, and difficult corners, and odd juxtapositions of railings and stairs—the Whitney has none of these. Instead, it is all out of scale, sterile, and unengaging.

The tourist trap analogy is not one of immediate political context. Yes, many of the visitors to the Whitney are tourists. But the point is that the building has nothing to offer beyond its celebrity status.

Deferring to the art is not an excuse. What if the Four Seasons had “deferred” to the food? What if the Ford Foundation had “deferred” to people working? An off-the-shelf metal shed can do a fine job protecting farm equipment, but isn’t the landscape better off with some actual design? The condos on the Williamsburg waterfront are amazing places to hang out, cook, and enjoy the views. It doesn’t mean they are great architecture.

Connecting with the city and functioning properly should be baseline requirements of a building, not something to hold up as great architecture. We should demand more exciting design and value it as part of the gesamtkunstwerk of a museum: art, architecture, and city in harmony to create a place, as well as an experience. Manhattan already has a problem with stale homogeneity; we need to demand that architects and clients not contribute to it. After all, no one ever said it was form or function.

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Renzo Piano's embattled "Paddington Pole" tower heads back to the drawing board

Those who campaigned against Renzo Piano's cylindrical skyscraper in Paddington, London,  are celebrating a victory now that plans for the tower have been withdrawn from planning. The tower, dubbed the "Paddington Pole," was set to top out 834 feet (72 floors) and rub shoulders with the Cheesegrater (The Leadenhall Building by Richard Rogers). Developer Sellar Property Group, which also worked with Piano on the Shard skyscraper, claimed the cylindrical tower would 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. However, Sellar Property Group was accused by residents of attempting to push the scheme through planning too quickly. Now, according to BDonline, founder Irvine Sellar has said that he considered concerns regarding “the height and impact of the tower element of the scheme on the local area.” This came after some “high level discussions” (no pun intended) with the leader and deputy leader of Westminster city council addressing the height issues. Sellar is supposedly keen to work with Piano on a revised design. https://twitter.com/CampaignSkyline/status/693391588165316608/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw Sellar went on to note that the revisions “will bring forward an amended scheme that will still deliver all the substantial benefits including the significant investment in infrastructure and social housing.” The 830-foot-tall scheme by Piano—who had previously said the only way to regenerate the area was to build a tall tower—had attracted fierce opposition with architects Terry Farrell and Ed Jones among hundreds who posted comments on the application. An online petition has attracted more than 1,800 signatures. Aside from opposition from architect Terry Farrell and local MP Karen Buck, one of the more prominent movements against the "Paddington Pole" was Historic England. “Tall buildings can be exciting and useful. But if they are poorly-designed, or in the wrong place, they can really harm our cities," Historic England CEO Duncan Wilson told the Guardian. "We trust that the revised plans for Paddington Place will take the area’s unique character into account.” “London’s skyline is unique, iconic and loved. It has to be managed sensitively and with proper planning,” he added. “Tall buildings can be exciting and useful, but if they are poorly designed, or in the wrong place, they can really harm our cities. We trust that the revised plans for Paddington Place will take the area’s unique character into account.” The proposal had promised a new Bakerloo line ticket hall for at Paddington station, offices, restaurants, some 330 homes and a sky garden. It had the backing of Network Rail, Transport for London, St Mary’s Hospital, the NHS, and the Greater London Assembly. Still, Philippa Roe, leader of Westminster council, was pleased at the decision to withdraw plans. “This is a very positive step and will allow time for us all to bring forward a development that enjoys broader community support and that we jointly believe will deliver enormous benefits to Westminster and London," she told the Guardian. "We remain committed to ensuring that all the benefits of the original scheme are retained in the revised plans.”
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Obama Foundation announces seven offices to submit proposals for presidential library

The Barack Obama Foundation has announced the seven offices from which it is requesting proposals for the design of the Obama Presidential Library in Chicago. The seven firms include four New York–based offices, one London-based office, one based in Genova, Italy, and one local Chicago office. The offices named are: Picked from over 150 firms who submitted to the Foundation’s request for qualifications issued in August, the seven firms will now be asked to present designs to the President in the first quarter of 2016. If Adjaye or Piano are chosen, they will be the first foreign-based offices to design a presidential library. The selection of the perspective architects comes after a long selection process for the site of the library itself. Not without some controversy, the South Side locations were chosen out of possible sites in New York, Hawaii, and another in Chicago. Public space advocates, Friends of the Parks, argued that the library, technically a private institution, should not be allowed to be built in the city’s public parks, an issue the current Lucas Museum is also dealing with. This was overcome with the help of a deal made by Mayor Rahm Emanuel which would transfer control of the land away from the park system. Each office will submit conceptual designs for both of the possible 20-acre South Side Chicago sites: one in Washington Park and one in Jackson Park. The $500 million project will include the presidential archive, a museum, and office space for the Obama Foundation. After reviewing the proposals, the Obama family and the foundation are expected to make a decision by summer 2016, the expected completion of the project being in 2020 or 2021.
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Renzo Piano wraps up construction of the Energy Canopy at Athens' enormous Cultural Center

For years, Renzo Piano has been working to complete his design for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Greece. Not, the cultural group behind the project has announced that a key component of the Visitor’s Center, the energy canopy, is now complete. https://youtu.be/_LoJfZwZvb8 Suspended over the Greek National Opera, the canopy is composed of 30 columns and 717 individual precast pieces—weighing in at 4,700 tons overall. Although designed to appear light and airy, the canopy is 328-feet-square and 150-feet tall. Topped with photovoltaic cells, it will produce 2GWh of energy per year, fueling the opera house and the National Library of Greece. The Cultural Center includes the national library, opera house, canal, and 42-acre park south of Athens. The site was originally used for parking during the 2004 Olympics and once the project is completed, it will be turned over to the public. Total cost for the project is an estimated $831 million. Next steps include finishing the Lighthouse, the 9,700-square-foot glass room, and finalizing the flooring, facades, and ceilings. The rest of the SNFCC is expected to be complete in the first half of next year. SNFCC hopes that programming in the Visitor’s Center will engage the community and connect the public to artists in Greece and around the world. Already, it has hosted over 300 events and welcomed over 55,000 visitors. From now until Christmas, the center will be a Santa Workshop, and in February 2016 the center will relocate to a temporary building until construction is complete. To learn more about the cultural center, read our initial article on the project here.
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Renzo Piano designs a tree-topped, cylindrical skyscraper for Paddington in London's West End

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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Here's what happens when Zaha Hadid and Pharrell get together to design sneakers

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.
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Renzo Piano's globe gets go-ahead from LA City Council

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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Was Rafael Viñoly's 432 Park tower inspired by an architect-designed trashcan?

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. 432-park-trash-can2 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.
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Renzo Piano's plans for a subterranean dinosaur park in England unchanged despite funding flop

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.”
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In Cathedrals of Culture, Wim Wenders and Robert Redford Explore Monuments of Architecture

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
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Renzo Piano designs a handbag replica of his new Whitney Museum of American Art

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).