Posts tagged with "Shohei Shigematsu":

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Jason Long and Shohei Shigematsu plot inventive works across California

Although the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) has been in business for decades and keeps a steadily growing constellation of offices around the globe, the firm has, until recently, had a relatively modest profile on the American West Coast.

But things are changing. As West Coast cities pursue new building efforts—including new neighborhoods, ecologically sensitive public parks, and experiments in multiuse complexes—OMA’s brand of frank intellectualism has slowly found a preliminary foothold in California.

The firm’s expanding Golden State presence includes a recently completed urban master plan for Facebook’s Willowbrook campus in Menlo Park, a residential condominium tower in San Francisco, as well as a trio of inventive projects in Los Angeles. Over the next few years, these projects are poised to join the Seattle Central Library and the Prada Epicenter Los Angeles, both from 2004, OMA’s only completed West Coast projects to date.

The latest westward push represents an ascendant energy emanating from the firm’s New York office, where OMA partners Jason Long and Shohei Shigematsu lead many dynamic projects taking shape across the continent and in Japan. When asked if a new California outpost was in the works for OMA, Shigematsu replied, “It’s always been a dream of ours,” before adding that current conditions were favorable but not exactly right for a potential OMA West branch. “Maybe if we get more projects out here.”

First and Broadway Park (FAB Park)

Also created in collaboration with Studio-MLA, the new First and Broadway Park in Los Angeles is set to contain a playful 100,000-square-foot retail, food, and cultural programming pavilion that anchors the ecologically sensitive park. The pavilion will be capped with an edible rooftop garden and a dining terrace that overlooks L.A.’s City Hall.

Along the ground, the park will be wrapped with ribbons of bench seating, elements fashioned to create interlocking outdoor rooms and plazas surrounded by native oak and sycamore trees. Water-absorbing landscapes around the seating areas are designed to harvest and retain rainwater while solar collection and a “Golden California” landscape lend the project its ecological bona fides.

The Avery (Transbay Block 8)

Related California’s crenelated 575-foot tower, known as The Avery, is part of a larger development created in conjunction with Fougeron Architecture for a blank site in downtown San Francisco’s bustling Transbay District.

For the project, the designers have carved a generous paseo through the buildable envelope for the site, creating a new retail and amenity plaza while also lending a tapered look to the 55-story tower. The gesture animates views for a collection of condominiums, market-rate apartments, and affordable housing units while also bringing sunlight down into the paseo and to the mid-rise block designed by Fougeron. Currently under construction, the tower is expected to open in 2019.

Audrey Irmas Pavilion

The Audrey Irmas Pavilion is the firm’s first cultural and religious project in the region. The trapezoidal building shares a site with the Wilshire Boulevard Temple and is made up of three interlocking volumes that connect to the outdoors via a sunken rooftop garden designed by landscape architecture firm Studio-MLA. An arched portal connects to a shared breezeway between the pavilion and the temple, which is framed by the leaning pavilion. The latter was designed with a pronounced slant both out of deference to historical structure and to illuminate the courtyard.

Referencing unbuilt proposals for Universal City and the L.A. County Museum of Art, Rem Koolhaas, OMA cofounder, said, “[The Pavilion] is part of a very consistent effort to do things here. It’s exciting if one thing happens to succeed, because architecture is a very complex profession where maybe a quarter of all attempts get anywhere.”

The Plaza at Santa Monica

Shigematsu explains that one concern driving the firm’s California projects involves delving into the region’s rich history of indoor-outdoor living. The approach is fully on display in The Plaza at Santa Monica, a 500,000-square-foot staggered mass of interlocking buildings intended to create a new mix of public outdoor spaces.

With a cultural venue embedded in the heart of the complex and ancillary indoor and outdoor public spaces laid out across building terraces, the complex aims for a unique take on the regional indoor-outdoor typology. The building is set to contain offices, a 225-suite hotel, as well as a market hall and public ice-skating rink.

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OMA to expand Sotheby’s New York headquarters

Sotheby’s has announced an expansive OMA-led renovation of its Manhattan headquarters, with an equally ambitious target opening date of May 3. The reorganization of the auction house's Upper East Side building will expand the amount of exhibition space from 67,000 square feet to 90,000 and add 40 new galleries. Twenty gallery typologies will be spread across the four floors of 1334 York Avenue, including double-height spaces, private viewing rooms, octagonal galleries, corridors, and a space for small objects (Sotheby’s also sells luxury goods alongside art). The auction house is also taking a cue from its London and Paris locations and will be modernizing its entrances with stained walnut woodwork. The project is being handled by OMA’s New York office and led by partner Shohei Shigematsu. Of the renovation, Shigematsu said: “We wanted to embody Sotheby’s ambition to reinvigorate and enhance the client experience by introducing high flexibility through reorganization of programs and diversification of gallery spaces. The new headquarters is designed for openness and discovery—all public facing programs are shifted to lower levels, unlocking the public potential of the building. A taxonomy of galleries can be used separately or as clusters to allow curatorial freedom, driven by business model shifts and expanding repertoire of programming.” The renovation aims not only to consolidate elements of the building’s programming but to diversify the gallery types and create more public-facing spaces. By using gallery “clusters,” the larger spaces can remain open even as collections are rotated out, which the auction house estimates will happen every three-or-four days. A coffee bar will also be coming to the building’s lobby. Sotheby’s has organized an auction of modern, contemporary, and Impressionist work to coincide with the May reopening, including a contentious Mark Rothko painting from SFMoMA. Beyer Blinder Belle is serving as the project’s executive architect.
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Albright-Knox Art Gallery unveils revised OMA expansion plan

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery released its latest schematic designs in the AK360 expansion project, revealing a new direction from the previous controversial design concept. The new plan, which was developed in coordination with local, state, and national preservationists, was approved unanimously on Monday night by the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, the board that oversees the gallery, according to Buffalo News. Under the new iteration of the AK360 Campus Development and Expansion plan developed by OMA and firm partner Shohei Shigematsu, a freestanding building will be added to the north side of the historic campus that houses the gallery in Buffalo, New York. The new building adds 29,000 square feet of space for displaying special exhibitions and the museum’s permanent collection, allowing the number of artworks that can be displayed to increase dramatically. The extension is also planned to have a double-height wraparound promenade as well as a translucent facade to connect the interior of the building to the site, a Frederick Law Olmsted-designed landscape. This ensures the preservation of the existing Gordon Bunshaft building built in 1962, which was an addition to the original Beaux-Arts museum that was built in 1905. OMA still plans to add improvements to the 1962 building taken from the first design concept. Changes include adding a new education wing in the lower level, transforming the surface level parking lot into a green landscape, and adding a new point of entry into the east façade. The open-air courtyard in the 1962 building will be covered to serve as an “indoor town square” and open the space up for year-round activities. A “scenic bridge” will connect the new north building to the original 1905 building, weaving through the Olmsted Park. Previous expansion plans included drastically transforming the Bunshaft building, rattling preservationists and igniting controversy. OMA/Shohei Shigematsu was first chosen as the lead designer for the expansion in June 2016 and released their first design concept in 2017, which proposed building two architectural volumes—one that would hover above the sculpture garden of the Bunshaft building and one that would be constructed underground along the original gallery. Opposition to that plan halted it from moving forward, until now. Fundraising for the project is almost complete—approximately $125 million is raised for the $155 million project. More refined plans for the expansion will emerge over the next months during the design development phase, which is expected to continue into 2019. Construction is aimed for fall 2019 with an expected opening in 2021.  
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After the fires, the Monterey Design Conference offers a chance for reflection

When the Sonoma and Napa fires of 2017 tore through the Bay Area design community, several thousand structures were destroyed, and as many as 15,000 people were left without homes. Architects whose families and clients lost homes made it to the Monterey Design Conference last October to find comfort and to connect. Every year, I buttonhole attendees to seek out their favorite presenters. Sou Fujimoto won my informal poll, so I’ll start with him. Fujimoto began his presentation with a photo of a tree and a Tokyo city scene. The title of his lecture, “Between Nature and Architecture,” turned out to be the unintended theme for the conference. In all his work, Fujimoto questions obvious assumptions. This was true with two relatively small houses, House N and House NA, where he redefined the interior/exterior boundary. As with Richard Meier, most of his work is white. But unlike Meier’s work, his strives to almost disappear. He even questions assumptions about how to design a public bathroom in Ichihara, making the structure completely transparent and the landscape wholly private. Weiss/Manfredi’s opening lecture addressed the “binary reading of the natural and artificial.” Their low-rise projects express inventive ways to weave structure and landscape together, like Seattle’s Olympia Sculpture Park (2007) or the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Center (2012). This approach reaches its apogee in the Novartis Visitor Center (2013). I can’t remember a high-security checkpoint being so graceful—like the spirit of one of Calatrava’s birds rather than the remains. They reminded us, with their handsome portfolio, that our experience of nature is largely constructed. An unexpected surprise was a last-minute replacement, the tall and very funny Jeff Goldstein from the Philadelphia based firm DIGSAU. Without a written script, he showed us a modest not-for-profit center that trains at-risk youth. Students helped build the wood collage wall. It was a glorious example of how to create authentic community engagement. Shohei Shigematsu, the head of the OMA’s New York office, showed us that there is a future to OMA beyond Rem Koolhaas. Milstein Hall, the expanded center at Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning reminded of some of the big moves architects employed in the 60s. OMA’s diagrams are ingenious, but the spaces are not inviting. One of Shigematsu’s most interesting projects is his collaboration with artist Taryn Simon at the Park Avenue Armory. The concrete columns have a stillness that some of the jazzier permanent buildings do not. My spectacular visuals award goes to Dominique Jakob of the Paris-based Jakob + MacFarlane. Their design appears to be rooted in digital technology and seemed far removed from the mundane requirements of our West Coast digital overlords. On the river in Lyon, two office buildings, the “Orange Cube” and the “Green Cube,” with bold color and grand cutouts, make Apple’s and Facebook’s new buildings look almost banal. The firm’s 100-unit social housing project in Paris doesn’t follow the form of typical Parisian apartment blocks, and Jakob’s use of ETFE film for balcony curtains gives the building a wrapped Christo look on each floor. What was called the “Tribal Elders” slot at previous conferences was filled with the Los Angeles graphic and exhibition designer Gere Kavanaugh. Noted architect and writer Pierluigi Serraino, a raconteur and interviewer of some skill, could not contain Ms. Kavanaugh. While her presentation of modernist graphics did go on too long, Gere was entertaining. Another determined Angeleno, Julie Eizenberg, talked about Urban Hallucinations, her new non-monograph. Her firm Koning Eizenberg has focused on Los Angeles. They are unafraid of the quirky, the cheap, the historic, the imaginary, the gritty, or the glamorous. This is an architect who thrives on constraints and, as she says, “stretches the limits.” One of my favorite new projects was the Pico Branch Library, which allows everybody to connect to the larger digital universe while staying grounded in the very nonimaginary neighborhood. The “Emerging Talents” included Laura Crescimano, a founder of SITELAB Urban Studio with the late Evan Rose. She charts the course for design professionals engaging disadvantaged communities. Heather Roberge of Murmur and Jimenez Lai and Joanna Grant of Bureau Spectacular reminded us that Los Angeles’s up-and-coming architects are just as bold as the earlier generation. Stanley Saitowitz/Natoma Architects alum Alan Tse stole the show. In the few minutes he was allotted, he made us laugh and admire his considerable talent. His restaurants and interiors are sublime, and his construction budgets are what other architects would charge in fees. He made architecture real in a way I’ve rarely seen. We all needed some levity and inspiration as we returned home to question how or even whether we should rebuild so close to the wildland/urban interface. As with most Monterey Design Conferences, we came away with more questions and few answers.
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Marina Abramovic hits back over funding misuse allegations

Responding to recent articles by the New York Post and Artnet, performance artist Marina Abramovic spoke out over accusations that the her institute had misused funds for the now-cancelled Marina Abramovic Institute (MAI) building in Hudson, New York. Abramovic had announced the cancellation of the OMA-designed performance art space, citing that the cost had grown to $31 million. In a press release sent this morning, Abramovic broke down where the money from her Kickstarter had gone. She stated that the $661,452 she raised on Kickstarter, minus the crowdfunding platform's administrative fee, left her with $596,667. She also specified that “the Kickstarter was created to fund schematic designs by OMA New York for the building in Hudson, NY." The press release provided a list of costs and detailed how nearly a million dollars had gone to OMA for design fees and related services, with the firm writing off $142,167 as a donation. Abramovic revealed that OMA had billed her $655,167.10 for designing the new MAI building, with an added $354,502.67 in consultant fees, and $102,392.83 for the owner’s representative. Abramovic also clarified that any other money that had gone towards the project was paid for out of pocket, including over a million dollars for purchasing and renovating the existing building. In a recent interview with Vulture about the fate of the MAI, Abramovic explained that the cost of the renovation had grown to astronomical levels, including $700,000 for asbestos abatement alone. As for those Kickstarter backers who never received their awards? “[…] The only people that did not receive their rewards are the ones that did not respond to our requests for information. We welcome those backers that did not receive what they deserved to contact the institute directly via Kickstarter or on our website,” said Abramovic. True to Abramovic's performance-oriented aesthetic, the rewards were largely ephemeral; they ranged from a hug at the one dollar level to a soup-cooking session with the artist for $10,000 backers.
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Marina Abramovic cancels building project and leaves funders in the lurch

Update: Marina Abramovic responded to the allegations reported in this article. That response is available here After failing to meet its $31 million funding goal, performance artist Marina Abramovic recently announced the cancellation of her Hudson, New York-based Marina Abramović Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art (MAI). Designed by OMA partners Shohei Shigematsu and Rem Koolhaas, the 33,000-square-foot space would have led visitors through guided tours of the experimental performances that Abramovic is famous for. Originally estimated at $8 million, the project’s costs ballooned over the years to $31 million, according to the New York Post. Speaking at London’s Serpentine Sackler Gallery in October, Abramovic conceded that the project had grown too expensive to proceed with. “I, as a performance artist, could never raise $31 million unless some amazing guy from the Emirates [came forward] or some Russian who just wrote a cheque because he believed in me. But in real life, that doesn’t happen,” she said. With the cancellation of the MAI, questions have arisen over the $2.2 million already raised for the project. After a successful 2013 Kickstarter campaign raised $660,000, the artist pulled in another $1.5 million through private donations. According to the Post, a spokesperson for Abramovic has stated that any money raised has been paid to OMA. “The funds were raised not for the renovation itself but specifically for the schematics and the feasibility study,” the spokesperson said. Although the Kickstarter description confirms the spokesperson’s statement, several backers questioned whether they had thrown their money away, while others complained that they had never received their rewards for donating. “Fraud. I was supposed to receive a signed copy of the Abromovic Methods Exclusives DVD for $200 pledge back in 2013, and am still waiting for it. mised rewards,” said Andre Manukyan on the project’s comments page. Abramovic had hoped that the arts space, unveiled in 2012, would capture the ephemeral, transitive nature of performance art while still allowing visitors to engage with the building around them. Floor plans released by OMA show several distinct programmatic elements, including a fitness center, library, a learning center, offices and classrooms all situated around a 650-seat central performance space. Ambitious and wide-ranging in scope, the arts center would have mandated a minimum of six-hour “hard-core performance art” tours, where visitors would have surrendered their cellphones and worn white frocks while inside the building. OMA had also been set to design custom fixtures and furniture for the facility, including padded wheelchairs so that staff could ferry tired guests from one room to another. Built in 1929, the vacant theater in Hudson is owned by Abramovic and would have retained the original brick facade and column-flanked entryway under OMA’s proposal.Unused and abandoned, the former community theater now sits unmaintained. Abramovic has told the Post that the building would be put up for sale, with a portion of the proceeds going towards paying off the unpaid school taxes the artist owes for the property.
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OMA to design New Museum expansion

The New Museum has selected OMA to design a new building right next to its current home on the Bowery. Rem Koolhaas and Shohei Shigematsu are designing the expansion at 231 Bowery, a museum–owned property that currently houses an incubator program and private artist lofts. The building, funded through an $85 million capital campaign, will be integrated into the museum's current home, a structure by SANAA that opened in 2007. Despite authoring Delirious New York, Koolhaas will just now be designing his first public building in the city. Set to break ground in 2019, the addition will boost the museum's floor space by 50,000 square feet. The extra room will accommodate more galleries, improve circulation, and add "flexible space" for signature programming like IdeasCityNEW INC, and Rhizome, as well as other events. “Having collaborated with Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa on a number of projects in Europe, it is a real honor to stand alongside their great work of architecture, one of my favorites in the city," said OMA Founding Principal Rem Koolhaas, in a prepared statement. “I am honored to be awarded this project in the city perhaps most central to OMA's philosophy, and am thrilled to work with an institution that deeply values the practices of creative forward-thinkers," added Shohei Shigematsu, partner and leader of OMA's New York office. "As a Japanese architect, I am very happy to engage in a unique dialogue with SANAA and build alongside one of their seminal works.” Founded in 1977, the museum is the only institution in the city that exclusively displays contemporary art. It announced plans to grow its footprint back in May 2016, and since then, the museum has raised more than half the funds it needs to pay for the expansion. At that time, it said 231 Bowery would not be demolished. The Architect's Newspaper (AN) reached out to the New Museum to get a date for the design unveiling, and find out whether the museum plans to keep the current building, which houses NEW INC as well as artist live/work spaces. A spokesperson said design development will take eight months and details will be shared at the end of the process.
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OMA releases render of its first full-scale NYC project

Rem Koolhaas's Delirious New York may the architect's most famous work, but despite decades of practice, his international firm OMA hasn't designed a newly-built structure in the Big Apple (the firm has designed many interiors and unrealized projects). That's changing with 121 East 22nd St., a residential project designed by OMA's New York office and its principal Shohei Shigematsu. “The design of the 133-unit residential block was driven by the duality of its context," said Shigematsu in a press release. "Punched windows echoing the façade of its pre-war neighbors seamlessly transition to contemporary, floor-to-ceiling glazed windows towards the corner, forming a gradient from historic to modern.” The building will rise 18 stories, contain 133 residential units, and feature ground floor retail. Toll Brothers City Living is the developer while SLCE Architects is the architects-of-record.  
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OMA and Taryn Simon design striking concrete installation for Park Avenue Armory

There is a new architectural landmark in New York City but you need to rush and see it before September 25th. That's when it will be taken down and moved to London. The landmark is not a building but a temporary installation of eleven concrete silos by artist Taryn Simon dubbed An Occupation of Loss and located in the Park Avenue Armory. Designed in collaboration with OMA and its lead New York partner Shohei Shigematsu, the silos (or soundproof “inverted wells”) are made of pre-cast concrete. The wells are not simply backdrops to Simon’s theatrical installation—which features a number of professional mourners—but integral elements to the performance and unique architectural objects. They are 45 feet in height and create a sensation of being at the bottom of a well. In total, the eleven towers weigh 165,000 pounds. The odd number of wells was regulated by the artist's preference to have a center point; they are arranged into an ellipse with a 44-foot radius. Each silo is composed of 8 stacked concrete rings that are 8 feet 10 inches in diameter. The wells, which have the appearance of massive Aldo Rossi memory towers, act as acoustic tunnels that echo sound upward and through the massive drill hall during a performance. According to a press release, OMA conceptualized the structures as a collective that resembles an organ: each pipe is intended to be occupied by 1 to 3 performers and produce its own distinct sound (which ranges from purely oral to instrumental to distinct mourning rituals). A singular plinth/platform raises the concrete pipes 9 inches off the ground to distribute their structural load. Furthermore, each well has a ramp for attendees to enter as performances are taking place. A seating ledge for the performers—who are professional mourners—occupies a portion of each space. The silos were manufactured by Coastal Pipeline in Long Island and, while similar industrial pipes would be made of a 9-inch thick concrete, these are only 5 inches thick. An Occupation of Loss is on view at the Park Avenue Armory through September 25, 2016. Mourners activate the installation each evening from Tuesday through Sunday for a series of 50-minute performances. During the daytime, visitors are free to wander and activate the sculpture to produce a cacophony of sound.
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OMA’s Shohei Shigematsu spreads his wings in Québec City

As with much of OMA’s recent work, the firm’s latest building is exemplary for what it lacks. Instead of the complex structural flourishes of the CCTV Headquarters and many of the firm’s other mid-aughts projects, the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion at the Musee National des Beaux Arts du Québec (MNBAQ) is a lesson in more subtle design maneuvers: Its stacked massing, articulated in three varieties of glass, contains contemporary Québécois art and design galleries connected by a curvilinear glass balustrade and a predominantly white palette. Yet the most notable absence at the June 24 inauguration was that of OMA founder Rem Koolhaas. Instead, Shohei Shigematsu, who heads the firm’s New York office and served as partner-in-charge on the MNBAQ addition, spoke on behalf of the firm and explained that changes are indeed underway inside OMA as he led press and visitors through the new building.

Koolhaas’s absence at the inauguration by no means signals his retreat from design duties at the firm that, until recently, derived nearly all of its notoriety from the prestige associated with his own work and name. He continues to lead many of the firm’s most high-profile projects, last year’s Fondazione Prada in Milan and next year’s Taipei Performing Arts Center among them. Yet the pronounced emphasis at the recent inauguration on Shigematsu’s tenure as director of OMA New York bespeaks a new phase in OMA’s trajectory, one in which numerous of the firm’s seven partners work with greater autonomy from Koolhaas himself. “Me being recognized or other partners being recognized — not just Rem, actually reinforces the identity of the organization,” Shigematsu told The Architect's Newspaper at the Québec inauguration. He is by no means an outlier in this development. Rotterdam-based partners Reinier de Graaf and Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli have also grown prominent within the OMA cosmology in recent years, the former as a polemicist and the latter for his preservation work and leadership of the firm’s ongoing, manifold collaboration with Prada. The present devolution of design authority is markedly different from the firm’s operations a decade prior, when numerous of the leading architects at OMA, like Bjarke Ingels, Ole Scheeren, and Joshua Prince-Ramus, began leaving to open their own offices. “I’m basically, probably doing the same thing inside [the firm],” Shigematsu noted, “A lot of senior people have started to stay.”

On the Grande Allée in Québec City, the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion acts as an intermediary between traffic along one of the city’s main arteries and the National Battlefields Park where the museum’s three other buildings are situated. The new building also expands connections between the capital of Francophone Canada and the international art milieu, as it shares formal tropes with recent cultural institutions designed elsewhere by OMA (the MNBAQ’s gold elevator core shares a chromatic palette with Prada and Laparelli’s recently-completed Fondaco dei Tedeschi in Venice, Italy). Shigematsu is quick to note that the shared color schemes across partners are part and parcel of an expanding practice: “Not just metallic, but the attention to detail and refinement that we can bring,” he mused. “We have the luxury to now build so much with a sense of maturity as an architecture firm.”

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Shohei Shigematsu discusses OMA’s “Manus x Machina” exhibition

Technology within the realm of the fashion industry is seldom appreciated from an artistic perspective. Instead, it is synonymous with churning out standardized sheets of fabric, lacking the charm and value inherent in handmade garments.

Andrew Bolton, curator of The Costume Institute, is hoping to change that with Manus x Machina, a daring new fashion exhibition at the Robert Lehman Wing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Director of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture New York, Shohei Shigematsu, led the exhibition design working alongside the Met’s design department.

Featuring more than 170 ensembles, spanning the 1900s to the present, Manus x Machina seeks to identify the role technology has played in the fashion industry since the emergence of haute couture in the 20th century. Shigematsu said he was wary of representing the difference between man and machine literally. Instead, his team sought to create a “neutral, themeless” environment that could be used as a platform for discussion about the exhibits themselves. “It’s all about people paying attention to detail,” explained Shigematsu. 

Shigematsu’s design also offers a sense of ephemerality, juxtaposing the permanence of the Met’s stonework with scaffolding and a translucent screen—a “theatrical material that has different properties of translucency and transparency depending on the light,” said Shigematsu. “You can see the structure through the scrim,” he continued. “You have the classical language of the arches and domes, but it has a very contemporary material and a sense of temporality that doesn’t exist within the Met. It’s a fresh internal space.”

When walking into the exhibition, visitors enter into what appears to be an all-white church. Despite avoiding any theme when developing the exhibition design with Bolton, Shigematsu said, religious themes arose. One of the main exhibits, chosen by Bolton, is an ornate Karl Lagerfeld–designed Chanel scuba knit wedding dress. “We [Bolton and Shigematsu] noticed that the pattern on the dress was really beautiful, so we thought to project this pattern onto the dome, almost creating the feel of the Sistine Chapel. We really inspired each other to make it look like a church.”

“We had to block out a lot of natural light because there are a lot of sensitive garments. So we basically decided to create an inner shell—then that started to look religious because of the existing structure’s spatial configuration,” he added. Interestingly, the entrance to this “religious” wing only has one entry point—a medieval exhibition currently on display that “already looks like a religious room,” said Shigematsu. “We thought that we could extend that world, but in a completely different material, creating a sense of classical continuity… I thought that this tension between the classical and the contemporary was quite interesting,” he continued.

He also opined that the exhibition was a good opportunity for OMA to alter its image. “Our firm tends to be known as focusing too much on the intellectual side,” he continued. “I really would like to change that culture… I think that this exhibition was a great realization for us to do something very pure and also maybe ‘romantic.’”

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OMA looks to break new ground with the Faena Car Park in Miami

Shohei Shigematsu, partner at OMA and the director of its New York office, had never designed a parking garage until Alan Faena requested one. The Argentine real estate developer and arts patron hired the New York branch of a firm based in Rotterdam, Netherlands, to design Faena Arts Center, a forthcoming arts and luxury retail complex in Miami Beach, which will open to the public in late October. Upon completion, the complex will be the anchor for the Faena Arts District—a sliver of land on Collins Avenue sandwiched between Indian Creek and the Atlantic Ocean—which Faena and his partner, Ximena Caminos, plan to turn into a hub for multidisciplinary cultural activity.

OMA is designing all three of the buildings slated to open in Miami Beach come fall: The Faena Forum, a two-volume space that imitates a superimposed cylinder and cube, will contain exhibition spaces and hotel and meeting facilities; the Faena Bazaar, a luxury retail complex located in the former Atlantic Beach Hotel, which was built in 1939 and that the firm is partially preserving; and the Faena Car Park, a mechanical valet parking garage with a perforated precast concrete facade, ground-level retail, and a rooftop pavilion with panoramic ocean views.

The car park proved to be an unexpected challenge, due in part to the building’s straightforward program. The firm has experimented with various facets of parking design since the early 1990s: a 1993 proposal for the second of two libraries at Jussieu, a university in Paris, features interior ramps typical of a self-park garage, and the firm incorporated parking facilities in its 2004 Souterrain Tram Tunnel project in The Hague. However, in each case, parking was only a relatively minor consideration in projects otherwise defined by their programmatic hybridity.

The Faena Car Park is OMA’s first freestanding car garage, and the sheer absence of complex activity that stood to transpire inside the building gave Shigematsu and his design team pause when they began working on the building in 2012. “We were crippled by not having enough context or content of program,” he reflected. As they scrambled for programmatic constraints from which to begin generating a scheme for the garage, they realized the project was in fact fertile ground to set aside their usual working methods. Instead of analyzing the program, they began by developing the facade in response to code regulations stipulating that half its area should be porous to facilitate ventilation.

Parking is, famously, a prime commodity in Miami. Indeed, both the forum, which will serve as the district’s locus for arts programming, and the car park are being built on the sites of former grade-level parking lots that flanked the Atlantic Beach Hotel. Upon its completion, OMA’s car park will become part of a constellation of architect-designed parking garages that are now architectural calling cards for the city. Among these, the best known is Herzog & de Meuron’s 1111 Lincoln Road, an open-air, multistory garage completed in 2010 that doubles as a mixed-use development with luxury retail, fine dining, and yoga facilities located next to parking spots. Frank Gehry completed a parking facility adjacent to his New World Center in 2011—the same year that Perkins+Will finished its Miami Beach City Hall Annex garage. Enrique Norten’s Mexico City–based firm, TEN Arquitectos, completed the Park@420 car garage in 2010, and until mid-April, when municipal commissioners rejected the late architect’s designs for a garage in Miami’s Collins Park neighborhood, Zaha Hadid was also slated to build a parking structure.

The typology’s newfound prominence is a welcome change from the previously prevalent reputation of parking garages as dull, even dangerous, structures that have little in the way of architectural merit. “Whether you like the idea of cars or not, the reality is that parking as a structure is the first and last experience that is made,” explained Rand Elliott, founder and principal of Oklahoma City firm Elliott + Associates, which has designed five lauded car garages and published extensive research on the design of car parks. Elliott noted that institutions often underestimate the influence of their parking, treating its architecture as an afterthought: “They just don’t think it through well enough to realize how valuable [parking] is.”

On Collins Avenue, OMA leads the vanguard in Miami parking design by working both above and below the city’s surface. Approximately three dozen of the 235 parking spaces at Faena Car Park will be located below grade, a feat given the high groundwater level in the surrounding neighborhood. “When they started excavating the underground parking, there was a gigantic pool,” recalled Shigematsu. By way of resolution, the firm filled the entire cavity with a concrete lining that hermetically sealed the underground lot from liquid.

Above ground, the structure initially appears to be simple in front elevation: OMA’s facade responds to the tropical climate by imitating the brise-soleil common in Brazilian architecture. Yet the southern elevation exposes the building’s interior mechanics—an elevator that moves vehicles into place—to create a kinetic facade with relatively few elements. For all its functionalism, this feature is just as well conceptual: “The idea,” said Shigematsu, “is making the elevator itself a celebration of this building.”

The car garage emerged as a new typology, derived but distinct from storage warehouses and former horse stables in the 1920s. In 1925, Russian architect Konstantin Melnikov designed two never-built, but prescient, car parks for Paris. One was, in effect, a bridge over the Seine, with ramped decks that spanned the river and a dynamic curvilinear structure; the second was to be built on land, a cube pierced by four winding ramps that ran through its volume.

Though Melnikov’s Paris garage schemes will probably forever remain unrealized, their expressive geometries and implicit recognition of car parks as platforms for viewing the surrounding city foreshadowed the work recently completed by prominent international architects in Miami. Nearly a century later, the designer car park is just as well a destination in its own right: not merely a promontory, but itself a definitive feature of the city’s architectural landscape.