Posts tagged with "Rice University":

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How to survive an ecological apocalypse: the architect’s guide

The Continuous City: Fourteen Essays on Architecture and Urbanization Lars Lerup Park Books, 2017 $39.00 Lars Lerup, the Swedish-American designer and writer, has published a new book. The Continuous City (Park Books, 2017) presents his latest thoughts on architecture, cities, and the people who inhabit them by way of 14 disparate but interconnected essays. The handsome volume is bound in a matte cover featuring René Magritte’s painting Panorama Populaire (1926), which depicts buildings, a forest, and a seashore stacked atop each other, the ground plane of each upper level sawed away to reveal the strata beneath. The picture turns out to be a perfect signpost for what lies within, as its suggestion that these (and other) seemingly discrete realms are inextricably linked is precisely the crux of Lerup’s otherwise episodic inquiry. Lerup’s two previous titles—One Million Acres & No Zoning (Architectural Association Publications, 2011) and After the City (MIT Press, 2001)—took on the postindustrial car city as a subject of serious study. They look beyond the European-oriented urbanist’s dismissal of such environments as merely “sprawl” to find and examine the often-surreal juxtapositions embedded within that type of built fabric. Both books show Lerup’s fascination with Houston, where he first moved in 1993 from Berkeley, California, to take the job of dean at the Rice School of Architecture, a position he held until 2009. He is currently a professor there. Houston was to architecture in the 1980s what Dubai is to the field today—a petro-capital spending big money on ambitious development projects without paying much attention to the rules. Lerup’s championing of this subject matter in architectural academia (his has been one voice—there are others) has done much to save the discipline from self-inflicted obsolescence, an observation driven home by the fact that approximately 80 percent of currently existing global urban environments are designed and constructed around the automobile. His leadership also supported and propelled other academics who have done important work in this area, including Rice colleague Albert Pope, whose seminal volume, Ladders (Princeton Architectural Press, 1996), laid the groundwork for serious consideration of the postwar American city, and former Rice assistant professor Keith Krumwiede, whose latest book, Atlas of Another America: An Architectural Fiction (Park Books, 2016), explores speculative futures of suburbia. Another of Lerup’s preoccupations is subjectivity. In the 1970s, during a sabbatical from UC Berkeley, Peter Eisenman invited him to the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York (Rem Koolhaas was writing Delirious New York just down the hall). Lerup’s design work exhibits ties to that lineage of formal exploration and defamiliarization, but where Eisenman seeks to liberate architecture from the user, Lerup’s ambition has been to explore the problems of the urban inhabitant. For example, he did several years of research with the National Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C., on how people in nursing homes panic and escape buildings that are on fire. The result was a series of publications compiled into Learning from Fire: A Fire Protection Primer for Architects, composed of a series of hand-drawn comic strips that depict nurses and patients reacting to infernos. In Continuous City, Lerup says hello to the Anthropocene. Quoting from the introduction: “The Anthropocene brings with it the realization that we live in a new (catastrophic) geological era of our own making. This is no longer a squabble between liberty or community, but a need to avert disaster. Lacking easy answers, we now seek opportunities for change, skirting the dark side of the new city, which the earlier books dealt with, to find in architecture a device for positive movement forward.” He argues that conceptual distinctions between urban and suburban, or urban and rural, are no longer productive. “The urban,” he writes, “is inescapable. The city is everywhere.” Lerup’s hunt for constructive examples takes the reader on a journey that spans the globe and delves into the history of human settlement. He establishes links between the plan of Teotihuacán and OMA’s Seattle library, investigates the coexistence of natural and built environments in the work of Roberto Burle Marx, considers the synergies of Herzog & de Meuron’s Miami garage, and worries the uneasy relationship between users’ topological experience and the planner’s topographic approach. His findings are as revelatory as they are perturbing. If humankind is to survive the era of global warming (the Anthropocene’s most threatening result), there remains much more work to be done.
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In Ballroom Marfa’s “Hyperobjects,” the scale of ecological crisis stretches human perception

Hyperobjects Ballroom Marfa 108 E. San Antonio St Marfa, TX Through October 14
Hyperobjects is co-organized by philosopher and Rice University professor Timothy Morton and Ballroom Marfa Director and Curator Laura Copelin. It looks at Morton’s theory in addressing the prevalent ecological crisis faced by the world today. Morton asks pressing questions of global warming, plastic in the ocean, and nuclear waste in his 2013 book, Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World. With immersive video and sound installations, landscape interventions, and other direct sensory experiences, the artists’ pieces seek to challenge the way the audience sees and experiences the universe. The exhibition features works by Tara Donovan, Emilija Škarnulyte, Sissel Marie Tonn, and others.
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Olafur Eliasson invites refugees and asylum seekers to craft lighting designs at The Moody Center for the Arts

The Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University opened in Houston to much fanfare with exhibitions by practitioners including Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and Japanese collective teamLab to kick off its first season. Green light – An artistic workshop is the brainchild of Eliasson in collaboration with the Thyssen Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21) of Vienna. In its first trip to the U.S., the workshop aims to give refugees and asylum seekers a “green light” to participate in a variety of programs to elicit creativity and community. The workshop invites participants to construct modular green lamps designed by Eliasson out of recycled materials, which can stand alone as singular units or be stacked into more complex constructions. The hope for the work is to create an environment where communities can collide and create together in a playful and collaborative environment. “Green light is an act of welcoming, addressed both to those who have fled hardship and instability in their home countries and to the residents of the cities receiving them,” said Eliasson in a statement. “I hope Green light shines light on some of the challenges and responsibilities arising from the current refugee crisis in Europe and throughout the world.”

Green light – An artistic workshop The Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University 6100 Main Street, Houston Through May 6, 2017

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First look at Michael Maltzan’s Moody Center for the Arts in Houston

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The Moody Center for the Arts, designed by Los Angeles–based Michael Maltzan Architecture (MMA), is a 50,000-square-foot, $30 million center located on the campus of Rice University. It serves the campus and general public as an experimental platform for making and showcasing works across disciplines through deliberately flexible interior spaces.
  • Facade Manufacturer Endicott (brick units)
  • Architects Michael Maltzan Architecture
  • Facade Installer Linbeck (contractor); Dee Brown, Inc (masonry subcontractor); Duke Glass (glazing systems)
  • Facade Consultants Thornton Tomasetti (facade consultant); Guy Nordenson and Associates (structural engineer)
  • Location Houston, TX
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System steel frame, masonry veneer, curtain wall
  • Products Manganese Ironspot norman masonry brick units by Endicott; first floor curtain wall & second floor windows by Oldcastle; Glazing by Guardian
The building is generally composed of three long narrow blocks, set along an east-west campus grid. The structure references typological buildings and their related exterior quadrangle spaces on Rice University’s campus, which stem from an early 1900s masterplan by Boston architect Ralph Adams Cram. "We had this fantasy that, if you could take all of the campus and squish together its long rectangular buildings with its exterior quads, you would combine both formal and informal ways of making connections and learning," said Michael Maltzan, founder of Michael Maltzan Architecture. "In that regard, we were alluding to the Moody as a microcosm of the entire Rice campus." The facade appears quite massive from far away, but as you get closer, it is revealed that the facade is actually quite thin and permeable. This is most apparent through a "floating" outdoor canopy that frames an arcade running parallel along the building's primary north elevation. The facade here is framed by steel and integrates a secondary steel web that spans from the second floor to the roof continuously along the entire facade. This web encloses “lanterns,” or volumetric voids in the massing of the building, and wraps around starburst-shaped columns which bookend the composition. These iconic columns carry the load of the steel and masonry structure at each end of the building. A double angle detail provides a crisp bearing shelf for the brick facade. At the east lantern, the brick surface is installed as screen wall configuration. To achieve this, threaded stainless steel rods were integrated into the hollow cells of the brick units, which were installed in a 1/3 running bond pattern. Andrea Manning, associate at Michael Maltzan Architecture, said this allowed for selective bricks to be omitted, producing a unique perforated floating masonry screen. "It was a technical challenge to make brick work this way while maintaining a light and delicate structure," she said. Maltzan said this building uniquely brings together a lot of programmatic elements they have worked on in the past. "There aren't that many examples of this new type of building whose ambition is to be [a] extremely cross-disciplinary hype-collaborative center where lots of different unexpected individuals, groups, artists, technical people all come together. One of the biggest challenges is to anticipate the wide range of activities that might take place without any of that being determined yet when designing the building. To try and build in the right amount of flexibility without flexibility completely taking over the building in such a significant way that it compromises any parts of the program. Getting this right was a big learning curve for everyone involved on the project." The brick is a dark manganese ironspot brick, which Maltzan says produces a surface that is animated by the dynamic quality of the atmosphere of the site. “Brick often feels like it is very stable and unchangeable. The manganese brick is black, but over the course of the day with changing lighting conditions, it can take on the appearance of metal, deep purple, or sky blue. That quality, along with the thinness of the assembly gives a new reading and character to brick which we are very excited about.” Beyond the facade, at the heart of the Moody is a double-height “Creative Open Studio” that anchors the building in plan and section. This space was imagined by the architects as an interior version of the typical campus quad. “This interior landscape brings the most diverse programmatic functions into contact with one another, while opening views out to the campus,” said Maltzan. The cross-disciplinary building establishes a new arts district on campus, with proximity to the Shepherd School of Music and the James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyspace on the Suzanne Deal Booth Centennial Pavilion. The facility will be programmed, but it’s also a place where the public can be inspired, with public shows and free admittance year-round.
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Artist Jonathan Schipper continues to explore gradual destruction in latest installation

Jonathan Schipper creates a new installation for his latest exhibition, Cubicle: an office setting that will undergo subtle, yet inescapable changes over the course of two months. It is a continuation of his work that includes The Slow Inevitable Death of American Muscle, in which two full-size automobiles crash into each other, simulating the force of a 30-mile-per-hour head-on collision, but over several days. The cubicle is meant to be a signifier of the not-too-distant past. Time has transformed the concept of the cubicle from a utopian vision of workplace comfort and privacy to an obsolescent remnant, giving way to the open office plan. Similarly, Schipper’s Cubicle will undergo mechanical stress for the duration of the exhibition.

Cubicle Rice Gallery 6100 Main Street, Houston Through December 4

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Michael Maltzan designs a new arts center for Rice University that fits the campus’s distinctive form

A new building now under construction, the Moody Center for the Arts, designed by Los Angeles architect Michael Maltzan, continues the exploration of how to design new buildings for Rice University that respect and consider rather than imitate the existing buildings.

According to Maltzan, the parti for the Moody Center—which will house workshops, galleries, and performance spaces for an interdisciplinary arts center—is a “hyper village of making; a microcosm of the campus itself.”

Rice University’s campus in Houston is one of the most compelling in the United States. Its original master plan was devised by Boston architect Ralph Adams Cram in 1909 and is characterized by a series of parallel, narrow buildings. It has, at least in spirit, been a consistent guiding force for more than 100 years. Not only did Cram devise a building typology, but he also created a formal language for the entire campus based on a particular set of materials, like Lovett Hall (1912) with its orange St. Joe Brick made in Louisiana from bayou clay, pink Texas granite, and gray Ozark marble and exotic inspiration, Adriatic Italian Byzantine architecture of the medieval era.

Maltzan says he was struck by the physical sensations of being on the campus. A massive grove of live oaks—planted at the time of the college’s foundation—forms allées between the buildings and is green year round. It hovers over the flat campus, and defines space architecturally as much as the buildings.

In his scheme, Maltzan figuratively pushed together the long, bar-like buildings and the landscaped spaces between them to “exaggerate the intensity of spaces.” The irregular mass of smaller classrooms and workshops interspersed with larger galleries and theaters will be clad in a charcoal gray brick colored with shimmery magnesium oxide that changes in appearance from light to dark, much as the tree canopy does throughout the day. These brick walls, which are mostly solid except for large, strategically placed openings for day lighting, will be raised one story above the ground. The ground level will be entirely sheathed with clear glass, an echo of the clear sightlines through the tree trunks under the leafy canopy.

Although its radical appearance will be a big departure from the more conservative buildings near it, the Moody Center will hopefully become a valued landmark as the campus architecture of Rice University continues to evolve and adapt.

In recent years, there has been a subtle but palpable change apparent in the construction of key buildings like the Brochstein Pavilion (2009), designed by New York architecture firm Thomas Phifer + Partners, and the Brockman Hall for Physics (2011), designed by Philadelphia architects Kieran Timberlake. Both are fitted between existing buildings and use different strategies: one a glass box and the other raised on tapered pilotis to minimize the intrusion. With these two buildings, a new, a less literal interpretation of Cram’s master plan has emerged that enhances and expands the original intent.

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Department of Energy names Solar Decathlon teams, but mum about competition site

Brace yourself O.C.: It’s unclear if the battle of the Solar Decathlon will return to Irvine’s Orange County Great Park in 2017. This week the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced 16 participating teams who are gearing up for the task of designing and building a solar-powered house, but the feds have yet to announce the competition site. Hailing from colleges and universities across the United States and around the world—from Rolla, Missouri to Utrecht, Netherlands—the teams have nearly two years to develop an affordable and energy-efficient design strategy. According to the DOE, the Solar Decathlon teams compete in 10 contests that range from architecture and engineering to home appliance performance. Judges are looking for “[T]he team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.” In past years, teams had to cover some hefty research, design, construction, and shipping costs. But for one team the gamble will pay off. The winner takes home a whopping $2 million prize. (That’s a pretty huge PV array.) Homes will be showcased and on view to the public for free tours in mid-2017. The Solar Decathlon 2017 teams are:
  • École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Daytona State College
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • HU University of Applied Science Utrecht, Netherlands
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • Northwestern University
  • Rice University
  • Syracuse University
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • University of California at Berkeley
  • University of California at Davis
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Washington State University
  • Washington University
  • West Virginia University
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Boomtown: Houston poised to overtake Chicago as country’s third-largest city by 2025

The Texas metropolis of Houston is famous (or perhaps infamous) for its sprawling footprint. But as recent census numbers affirm, that growth reflects more than just a lack of zoning—within 10 years, more people will live in Houston than Chicago, according to information from health departments in Illinois and Texas. (Read AN's feature examining Houston's first General Plan here.) Long the country's third-largest city, Chicago is projected to have just 2.5 million people by 2025. Houston is expected to surpass that number, possibly growing to 2.7 million residents. A June study by Houston's Rice University found “if both cities maintain their average growth rates of the last four years, Houston would surpass Chicago as the country's third most populous by 2030.” Previous data from the 2000 and 2010 censuses had forecast a similar changing of the guard, noting Chicago had lost 200,000 people in the millennium's first decade, while Houston gained nearly 119,000. But new data publicized by Business Insider suggests the Texas metropolis could overtake the Windy City sooner. Houston leads the nation in job growth, owing largely to its expanding population.
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On View> Yusuke Asai paints with mud at Houston’s Rice Gallery

yamatane Rice Gallery 6100 Main Street, Houston, Texas Through November 23 yamatane, on view now at Rice Gallery in Houston, is a site-specific installation by Japanese artist Yusuke Asai. Created in just under two weeks by Asai and a team of student volunteers working around the clock, yamatane is composed of pigments made from soil collected in the Houston area—brown, yellow, pink, red, and even green dirt that was gathered before the artist arrived and ground into pigment with only water added to turn it into paint. 10yamatane_press Asai used the natural paints to create what he calls an “earth painting.” It depicts a dense landscape of rolling geologic forms and tribal patterns populated by imaginary creatures and characters that spill from the gallery walls onto the floor. In Asai’s words, “I choose to use the earth as a medium because I can find dirt anywhere in the world and do not need special materials. Dirt is by nature very different than materials sold in art stores! Seeds grow in it and it is home to many insects and microorganisms. It is a ‘living’ medium.” Go see it before it’s gone. Asai embraces the ephemeralness of his medium, which can be wiped away with water. He has been making these paintings since 2008 and almost none remain today.
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Inaugural Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize goes to cliffside cube in Chile

After traveling all over the Western Hemisphere to inspect built work by emerging architects from Canada to Chile, a team of judges awarded the first-ever Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize on Tuesday, bestowing $25,000 and an offer to teach at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) on Mauricio Pezo and Sofia Von Ellrichshausen for their poetic Poli House, perched above the Pacific Ocean on a cliff in Tomé, Chile. The inaugural MCHAP.emerge prize was directed by Wiel Arets, Dean of the College of Architecture at IIT, and IIT professor / Chicago architect Dirk Denison. Some 265 nominees vied for two prizes, each “recognizing the most distinguished works built in North and South America between January 2000 and December 2013.” The nominees for MCHAP were established designers, while MCHAP.emerge was meant for architects in the early stages of their careers. The later-career architects get their day in the sun October 22,w hen the $50,000 MCHAP award is announced. Four finalists were feted Tuesday at IIT, where they were congratulated by Denison, Arets, Rice University Architecture Dean Sarah Whiting, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Pezo von Ellrihshausen, a design firm based in Concepción, Chile, took home the MCHAP.emerge prize for their Poli House—a solid, earthquake-resistant concrete cube whose simple materiality and exterior form belies a series of intricately sculpted interior spaces. Occasional voids in the double-walled concrete perimeter punctuate the building’s rooms and passageways with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, which rumbles below the cliffside residence and art gallery.   Another Chilean project, the Kiltro House in Talca, similarly celebrated its dramatic setting with floor-to-ceiling glass spaces jutting out over steep drops in elevation. Named for a Chilean crossbreed dog, the Kiltro House took its cues from a mishmash of architectural styles, according to designer Juan Pablo Corvalán. With Gabriel Vergara, he heads Supersudaca architects. A Farnsworth-esque glass box cantilevered from a hybrid of various residential styles—including a castle included for a client who fancied herself a princess, Corvalán said—lifts up a roof whose undulations reflect the underlying topography. Farther north, in Los Angeles, architects Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues won recognition for Maximilian’s Schell, a golden vortex that hovers above a formerly vacant lot in the Silverlake neighborhood. Inspired by the Disney flop "Black Hole" and the minimalist surfaces of architect/engineer Frei Otto, the installation creates “both an intimate experience and a spectacle,” Ball said, by transmitting geometric shadows and yellow-tinged pools of light on the ground beneath the canopy. Look up from beneath the eye of the black hole, as it were, and you get a glimpse of a “James Turrell moment,” Ball said, if the sky cooperates. Still farther north, Winnipeg, Canada’s 5468796 Architecture was asked to reactivate a downtown plaza, whose 1970s bandshell had fallen into disrepair. They went much further than a simple rehab, however, coaxing great versatility from what at first appears to be an illuminated mesh cube. Ringed by a flexible curtain of perforated metal, the cube conceals several possible performance and event spaces, as well as what has become one of the most popular spots for wedding photos in Winnipeg. Projections from inside translate to the exterior, an effect used frequently when the cube’s metal screen is pulled back to frame the stage with an elegance surprising for its metallic heft.
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Despite Preservation Push, Rice University’s Martel Center Demolished After All

Never mind! After all that fuss to preserve the iconic Texas tin structure, Rice University's Art Barn met the Grim Reaper on Wednesday, April 16. While a group was able to salvage the building’s corrugated metal siding, wrecking crews tore away at the Martel Center's structure, marking a definitive end to efforts of preservationists to move the building to another site in Houston. Andy Warhol’s famous oak tree planted in front of the former structure will remain intact, but once the dust clears only a grass lawn will serve as tombstone. A rogue power line temporarily stalled the demolition, thereby buying a commemorative moment for the Art Barn’s historical and cultural import. The building’s spirit will live on through the Menil Collection it once housed, as well as its legacy with other tin houses.
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James Turrell Captures a Slice of the Vast Texas Sky with Twilight Epiphany Pavilion

For many, work by American artist James Turrell is instantly recognizable. Using light and basic geometric forms as the material of his compositions, Turrell subtly alters space and perception for visitors, creating weight and depth through visual experience that evokes meditation and contemplation. Turrell's work is at its height when gazing skyward. Multiple iterations of his Skyspace series have appeared around the world framing a dramatic slice of the heavens in his pristine geometry. The work is, essentially, a skylight: an opening above a room or pavilion for viewing the sky above, but to reduce the work to its function would disregard the transformative power of a simple yet moving experience. In each installation, a confined aperture begins to decontextualize the sky, featuring the color and texture of what is seen as an element of the art. A few weeks ago, a new Turrell Skyspace was completed at Rice University in Houston, Texas. The work, entitled Twilight Epiphany, features Turrel's unique understanding of perception while building dramatically upon prior installations. A gently-sloped pyramidal mound carpeted in turf rises from the surrounding courtyard. A knife-edged white square floats above the hill, appearing as a horizontal plane without vertical dimension, into which a square aperture has been cut. From the top edge of the pyramid, LED lights wash the underside of the ceiling plane in color. To receive the full experience of the light compositions, visitors enter the structure from the two opposite sides, either decending down a ramp into an interior void or ascending staircases to sit in a ring around the outside rim of the pyramid. "If you take a photo of the sky in this skyspace, the color you see in the opening is not actually going to show up in your camera because in fact it is not there," Turrell said in a statement. "This is a gentle reminder that because we give the sky its color and then change the color of the sky, we create the reality in which we live." Besides the surreal light shows, Twilight Epiphany has been designed as an acoustics-conscious performance space. Twelve speakers are embedded in the pyramid's interior walls, offering musicians a chance to compose for the unique space, fitting since the pavilion is located alongside the Shepherd School of Music.