SANAA, together with Taiwanese studio Ricky Liu & Associates Architects + Planners, have won a competition to design the Taichung City Cultural Center. The competition, which was announced last May, asked participants to design a complex that would not only include a new public library and fine arts museum, but would form a dramatic entryway to the the city's Gateway Park. Located at the north end of the park, SANAA’s concept centers on interlocking white transparent volumes without rigid walls. The firm opted instead to use semitransparent fluid mesh curtains to spatially define and lighten the building and allow for more flexibility. The transparent curtains conceal elevated walkways, connecting to viewing platforms that look onto the complex and the city at large. A cavernous central atrium will provide a welcome point and meeting zone. The center will also house permanent exhibition spaces, administration offices, exhibition space for special collections, multimedia resources, and quiet reading zones, rooftop terraces and education facilities. Other teams on the competition shortlist were Eisenman Architects, Swiss firm Stucheli Architecten, Korean firm MASS STUDIES, and French architect Jean-Loup Baldacci.
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The Architecture firm Sejima & Nishizawa and Associates (SANAA), in partnership with Israel's Nir-Kutz Architects, recently unveiled a proposal for a new 400,000 square-foot building for Jerusalem's Bazalel Academy of Arts and Design. The design of the new building aims to promote collaboration between the school's eight different—and currently separate—departments by housing them under one roof for the first time. There will be space for classrooms, studios, offices, two auditoriums, public galleries, and cafes. The building is made up of stacked horizontal slabs that mirroring the landscape of the ancient city. The interior features open, vertical spaces that let in optimal natural light and create visual as well as physical connections between departments. On the exterior, the slabs support terraces between floors. Ramps and staircases connect the terraces inside and out. The new $100 million campus will sit in historic Russian Compound, between the Holy Trinity Cathedral and the Museum of Underground Prisoners, overlooking the old city of Jerusalem. Situating the campus here was a decision made by Jerusalem's municipality, the Israeli government, and the academy in an ongoing effort to rejuvenate this downtown district into a cultural hub with a lively art scene and bustling street life. Construction is expected to begin at the end of 2014 thanks to a $25 million gift from the Jack, Joseph, & Morton Mandel Foundation. Completion is slated for 2017.
Eleven finalists including Zaha Hadid, Toyo Ito, SANAA, and UN Studio have been announced for a major new stadium project in Japan. Tadao Ando, jury chair for the Japan Sports Council competition, revealed the contending designs for the New National Stadium, narrowing the field from the original 46 entries. First, second, and third place prizes were secretly selected on Wednesday, November 7th, but the winners won't be named until a ceremony is held later this month. While we anxiously await the final announcement, take a look at the proposed stadium designs by each team. Scheduled for completion in 2018, the stadium is already slated to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup and will also be offered as a site for the FIFA World Cup, the IAAF World Championships, and a range of entertainment events. The stadium could even play host to the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics if Japan is chosen as their location.
Tokyo-based SANAA has unveiled its next U.S. project, a meandering structure called The River for the Grace Farms Foundation, a faith, arts, and social justice non-profit in New Canaan, CT. Situated on one acre of the 75-acre Grace Farms, the building is defined by its flowing roof that hovers ten feet above the landscape on slender metal posts. Interior spaces are formed by increasing the building's width and enclosing spaces in floor-to-ceiling glass, creating a seamless transition between interior spaces and a landscape designed by Philadelphia-based OLIN. The River descends from a sanctuary space for the Grace Community Church atop a hill and includes a library, meeting space, dining room, gymnasium, and children's spaces along its route. “Our goal with the River is to make the architecture become part of the landscape without drawing attention to itself, or even feeling like a building," said Kazuyo Sejima, principal at SANAA, in a statement. "We hope that those who are on the property will have a greater enjoyment of the beautiful environment and changing seasons through the spaces and experience created by the River.” On Monday, plans for the slender community and spiritual center were submitted to New Canaan’s Planning and Zoning commission for approval and is expected to make a decision by the end of the year. The landscape of meadows, wetlands, lakes, and woods at Grace Farms was preserved from development in 2008 when a 10-house subdivision was once proposed.
On April 14 the Regional Council of Bordeaux, France announced that BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) was selected to design the new Maison de l'économie créative et de la culture en Aquitaine, a.k.a. "la Méca." The new building on the riverfront site will house three regional visual and performing arts agencies. The website of France's SudOuest newspaper reports that BIG beat out SANAA and the Toulouse-based firm W-Architectures with a design for a 120-foot-tall arch-shaped building featuring a 14,000-square-foot roof terrace. The 52-million-euro scheme awaits final approval at a May 21 council meeting...stay tuned for the renderings!
The Menil Collection in Houston, Texas has announced a shortlist for the new Menil Drawing Institute, which includes David Chipperfield Architects, Johnston Marklee, Tatiana Bilbao/mx.a, and SANAA. The building will be the largest freestanding space devoted to drawings. The competitors certainly have a high bar to meet. Renzo Piano's building for the Menil collection is considered one of the best places to view art in the country. “In this year, when we observe the 25th anniversary of our great museum building by Renzo Piano, we are pleased to begin realizing our vision for the future by selecting the next architect to design a major building for the Menil campus," said Josef Helfenstein, director of the collection, in a statement. "By taking on the challenge of designing MDI—the only facility of its kind—the architect will create a home for our largest, fastest-growing but most delicate collection of artworks, while also providing an important new focal point for the entire campus.”
Haters of kitsch rejoice! No longer will visitors to the New Museum be greeted by Ugo Rondinone’s glowing, rainbow affirmation. Hell, Yes! has been replaced as part of the museum’s ongoing Façade Sculpture Program. In its place, Rose II, a far subtler work by German artist Isa Genzken. Growing from the first tier of SANAA’s ethereal Bowery building, the sculpture, a 28-foot tall rose, was created in 1993 and reprised in 2007. The New Museum describes Genzken as “an artist whose work re-imagines architecture, assemblage, and installation, giving form to new plastic environments and precarious structures.” Her art “draws on the legacies of Constructivism and Minimalism and often involves a critical open dialogue with Modernist Architecture.” In this respect she will likely be considered a pleasant successor to Ugo Rondinone, whose Hell, Yes! garnered less than favorable reviews when the New Museum opened in December 2007. Though she lives and works in Berlin, Genzken formed a lasting bond with New York when she first visited as a student forty years ago. Rose II, her first public work in the United States, is on extended loan from the David Zwirner Gallery, New York, and will be on view through 2011.
Increasingly, the architects chosen each year to design the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London hail from a pool of the usual suspects. This past summer, it was Jean Nouvel. SANAA, and Frank Gehry ran up the mast in 2009 and 2008 respectively. The 2011 pavilion, we hear, will be by Swiss mystic architect, Peter Zumthor. There’s certainly abiding fascination in a series of heavyweights forced to design a lightweight structure on the double-quick (about six months) but the young and restless might actually have more to explore and certainly more to gain than the big names. Then again, more than most, Zumthor has maintained his mystique as an architect. Lightweight he is not: For the 2002 Venice architecture biennale, he submitted a six ton concrete model of his Cologne museum that was too hefty to be contained in the vast Arsenale.
According to both the New York Times and the LA Times, Eli Broad appears to have settled once and for all on a Downtown LA site for his new museum, and has gone so far as to hold a new competition for its architect. Further background has it that Thom Mayne, who had been favored to design Broad’s museum, is now out, and the new finalists are Rem Koolhaas, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Herzog & De Meuron, Christian de Portzamparc, Foreign Office Architects, and recent Pritzker Prize winners SANAA. According to the New York Times, the jury appeared to favor Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Koolhaas. A choice, according to their story, could be made within the week. If built, the museum would be located on Grand Avenue just east of Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall and across the street from the LA Museum of Contemporary Art where he has played key roles recently in both keeping the museum on keel with a $30 million gift and steering it towards new director, Jeffrey Deitch. AN reported back on March 16 that Broad was leaning toward downtown for his museum. The site is currently slated for retail development within phase two of the now-stalled 3.5 million-square-foot Grand Avenue Project.
The president of the Venice Biennale, Paola Barrata, announced this morning that the director of the 12th International Architecture Exhibition will be Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima of SANAA Architects. Last week, we reported rumors that the next director was going to be a woman—a first for this most important of international contemporary architecture expositions. The names most frequently bandied about for this major job were Sejima and Liz Diller. In a formal statement, Sejima said, "The biennale has to be everything and all encompassing, a steady conversation with people who are doing things and the viewer or public who see what they are doing." The 2008 Architecture Biennale was directed by Aaron Betsky whose selection was announced only in January of that year. In picking Sejima, the Biennale has chosen a practicing architect for the first time since Massimiliano Fuksas in 2000. The Biennale has also announced that the exhibition will open on August 29 (with previews starting on August 26) and run through November 21. Traditionally, the Biennale opening date has been mid September; an earlier date should allow many more people to attend the event.