Snøhetta just won the competition for the Shanghai Grand Opera House, set to rise in the Expo Houtan neighborhood of the Chinese city. The Oslo and New York–based firm's design centers around a massive corkscrew stair that connects the theater's roof to an entry plaza that then runs down to the banks of the nearby Huangpu River. The grand public plaza and gently-sloped roof are meant to create a generous new public space in the vein of what the firm did for its Oslo Opera House. Other aspects of the Shanghai Grand resemble the Oslo project: three theaters pop through the overall roof, and a large glass wall surrounds the main lobby. The new building trades in the Oslo Opera's crisp, sculptural form for a looser, radiating geometry. Interestingly, the designers did not mention the Oslo Opera House as a related project but named several others in the firm's oeuvre. “The Shanghai Grand Opera House is a natural progression of our previous work with designing performing arts centers,” says Snøhetta founder Kjetil Trædal Thorsen in a statement. “It is a culmination of the competence and insight gained through projects such as the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, the Busan Opera House in South Korea, the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts in Canada, and the Théâtre Nanterre-Amandiers renovation in Paris. The Shanghai Grand Opera House is a product of our contextual understanding and values, designed to promote public ownership of the building for the people of Shanghai and beyond." Like Oslo, most of the building's exterior is off-white, presumably concrete, but the lobby is lined with bright red silk. There will be three theaters in the building: a 2,000-seat main auditorium, 1,200-seat second stage, and a 1,000-seat third stage. The smaller spaces are meant for less traditional shows to connect with a "younger audience," according to the designers. The project will be completed in collaboration with the Shanghai-based firm ECADI.
Posts tagged with "Snøhetta":
Europe’s first underwater restaurant is complete and now welcoming guests below the North Sea in Lindesnes, Norway. The Snøhetta-designed “Under” lies partially submerged on the coast of southern Norway, terminating in a dining room 16 feet below the ocean’s surface. The restaurant and marine biology research station is wrapped in thick concrete for its entire length, creating an imposing, 111-foot-long “periscope.” The concrete at the lowest portion is one-and-a-half feet thick feet and surrounds a 36-foot-long, 11-foot-tall window wall in the dining room that provides guests with a view of the ocean floor. The structure’s finish was kept deliberately coarse to encourage mussels to anchor to the building, so that the structure will eventually grow into a reef and purify the surrounding water. Construction on the concrete monolith was done on a barge off-shore before the structure was lifted to its final home and tilted into place. Inside, Snøhetta chose to utilize materials that intentionally emphasize the transition from Lindesnes’s harsh environment to the dreamy marine world below. The oak-wrapped entrance gives way to ceiling panels clad in textile that gradually change color, which Snøhetta claims is “a metaphor for the journey of descending from land to sea.” Speckled terrazzo floors reference the mottled sea floor visible from the dining area. Under is expected to welcome 35-to-40 diners every evening, but when not in use as a restaurant, the building will act as a hub for studying the local marine life. The sea around Lindesnes is extremely biodiverse, and researchers will use an array of cameras and sensors mounted on the facade to document the population and behavior of local fish. That information will in part be used by the kitchen to help determine how to sustainably harvest sea life from the surrounding area. Interested in dining underwater and don’t mind a trip to Norway? Under is now taking reservations.
Toronto’s interconnected “smart neighborhood” is inching ever closer to reality. Sidewalk Labs has released a batch of new renderings from Snøhetta and Heatherwick Studio, as well as documents detailing how the company plans to pay for the ground-up development. Sidewalk Labs’ Quayside waterfront Toronto neighborhood is being touted as a smart, interconnected, “100 percent timber” development. In a February 14 Medium post, the company released a progress report detailing its progress before the finalization of its draft Master Innovation and Development Plan. One proposal that’s drawing flak is an arrangement where Sidewalk Labs would build infrastructure such as light rail on the site in exchange for a share of the revenue generated by increased property values—diverting tax revenue from public coffers. Sidewalk Labs claims the arrangement would allow the neighborhood to rise “years, if not decades, sooner than it would otherwise. This would unlock the potential of the Eastern Waterfront, and the jobs, housing, and economic growth that will come with it.” The company also clarified how many units of housing it would be building in the neighborhood, which would contain 12 mass timber towers. The project will adhere to the site’s existing zoning and will be 90 percent residential. That means 2,500 units total, 1,000 of which would be rented at below-market rates, and 50 percent of which would be “purpose-built rental apartments.” Half of the below-market housing would be affordable (and a quarter of that marked as “deeply affordable”) and the other half would be designated for middle-income earners. To meet the high demand for timber that the 12-acre project requires, Sidewalk Labs has announced that they would build a tall-timber factory in Ontario, which would supply up to 4,000 new jobs. Google’s 600,000-to-one-million-square-foot Canadian headquarters could also be in the making on the western side of Villiers Island along the planned light rail loop. Retail, an educational component, and amenities are likely headed to the campus as well. The neighborhood will also become a testbed for innovative urban technologies. Other than the weather-responsive “skirts” deployed at the open-air bases of each building, the entire project will be networked with high-speed Wi-Fi. A civic data trust would be responsible for removing identifying markers from any information gathered and aggregating it. On the design side, Michael Green Architecture has developed a mass timber kit-of-parts, and Snøhetta and Heatherwick Studio have designed building concepts for the campus, innovation zone, common areas, and other spaces. Of note are the “scalloped” balconies found throughout the residential developments and post-and-beam styled open-air “stoas” at the base of each tower. The design will continue to change as Sidewalk Labs solicits feedback from stakeholders, the Canadian and provincial government, and Alphabet, Sidewalk Labs' parent company. The entire presentation can be viewed here.
The protracted battle over the modernization of the Philip Johnson and John Burgee–designed AT&T Building may finally be drawing to a close. Last time Snøhetta went before the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) with its revised plans for the postmodern tower at 550 Madison Avenue, the commissioners adjourned without coming to a decision over whether proposed changes were appropriate. A month later, it looks like owners Chelsfield America, Olayan America, and minority partner RXR Realty will be able to move ahead with their plans to renovate the 1984 office tower into Class A office space. In a public meeting earlier today, the LPC granted the 550 Madison team a Certificate of Appropriateness, but not without first voicing concerns. Snøhetta’s scheme would only touch approximately six percent of the landmarked tower’s granite facade and would leave retail in the enclosed arcade. The full presentation can be viewed on the LPC’s website, but the biggest changes are as follows: The plan would remove the glass enclosure and accompanying heating and cooling elements that were added in the 1994 Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman renovation. The rear lot, which runs north-south through the block, will be converted into a garden and gain a lightweight, Y-shaped steel canopy. The retail kiosks at the rear will also be removed to expand the square footage allotted to the public plaza, and two stories of new windows will be punched in the back of the building at the base to lighten up the new amenity floors. On the Madison Avenue–facing side, the heavily-mullioned windows added to the flat arches in the 1994 renovation will be updated with much larger panes of glass. Inside the 60-foot-tall lobby, the elevators along the rear wall will be reoriented to provide a clear line of sight from the entrance to the garden. The ownership team also plans on building out a publicly-accessible retail mezzanine and two amenity floors above the lobby. Commissioners at the February 12th hearing once again expressed concern over the lack of an interior landmark designation, which was precluded by the “secret” demolition conducted last year. The proposed replacements to the Philip Johnson–designed pavers and flooring were also analyzed. The scheme was ultimately approved, but the project team will have to work with the LPC to address their issues with the current plan. All-in-all, now that work can begin, Snøhetta claims that the amount of public space will increase by 50 percent, and that the team is “targeting LEED Platinum, Wired, and WELL certifications.” Once the renovations are completed in 2020, it’s expected that the building’s employee capacity will increase from 800 to 3,000.
When Snøhetta was approached to design a flexible fabrication space for crystal manufacturer Swarovski in Wattens, Austria, the intent was to design a light, airy space that didn’t directly reference the physical geometry of crystals. The complex opened on October 24, 2018, but Snøhetta has released a new suite of photos that explore the cavernous space. The Swarovski Manufaktur is an all-in-one workshop that brings design offices, rapid prototyping capabilities, and a presentation space under one roof. The 81,000-square-foot, three-story building (one floor is below ground) displays the experimental design process and allows clients to conceptualize, fabricate, and display small-batch product lines before realizing them on an industrial scale. A 45-foot-tall “chandelier hole,” as Snøhetta’s coined it, extends from the first floor into the basement, allowing for truly massive prototypes to be put on display. Manufaktur’s defining feature is its 14,000-square-foot ceiling that floods the interior with natural light. A deeply-coffered ceiling is made of 135 “cassettes,” 20-foot-long-by-10-foot-wide steel window bays. Each cassette has been clad in acoustic paneling, and Snøhetta claims that the height of the ceiling, which ranges from 27 to 45 feet, combined with the paneling, makes conversations audible despite the sounds of active machinery. The material palette was kept cheerful, with white walls and light birch panels used for the flooring and the cladding of the “sculptural” platform that holds the second floor. Glass-walled offices, presentation spaces, and conference rooms have been arranged on the platform, and they look out over the main floor and central staircase. “We tried not to interpret the physical properties of crystals in our building geometry,” said Patrick Lüth, managing director of Snøhetta’s Innsbruck, Austria, office. “Instead, we have tried to understand what makes crystal so special and attractive, and to use these ephemeral qualities to create a specific atmosphere. The space has an incredible amount of daylight penetration, which we believe is unparalleled in the typical production facility context. Crystals only come to life with light, so for us, it is the intense presence of that daylight that is the most important aesthetic aspect of this building.”
New York City’s Department of Buildings (DOB) has fired a shot across the bow of developer Extell Development over 50 West 66th Street, a Snøhetta-designed 775-foot-tall tower first revealed at the end of 2017. The 127-unit residential tower, which was first announced as a 262-foot-tall building in 2015, has used a contentious zoning tactic to boost the building’s height, and accordingly, the prices it can command. The middle of the tower includes a 160-foot-tall mechanical void that does not completely count towards the maximum floor area ratio (FAR) defined by the zoning code. While the Department of City Planning had claimed that it would close the loophole in the zoning code responsible for these so-called "towers on stilts" by the end of 2018, that deadline has come and gone. The city now expects to finalize their fix by the summer of 2019. Although the DOB had already greenlit construction at 50 West 66th Street, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer announced today that Extell has 15 days to go back the drawing board and remove the unnecessary height. If Extell doesn't, its construction permit would be revoked. “This is a victory not only for the Upper West Side, but for communities all over the city that find themselves outgunned by developers who try to bend or break zoning rules for massive private profit,” wrote Brewer in a statement. A number of Upper West Side residents and City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal have been outspoken opponents of the project, which, if built, would become the tallest building in the neighborhood. It remains to be seen if Brewer’s decision will carry a precedent for similar projects that have gained extra height by stacking their mechanical rooms—a tactic also employed by the piston-like Rafael Viñoly Architects-designed tower at 249 East 62nd Street.
Following the release of an updated scheme for 550 Madison in December of last year, Snøhetta once again went in front of New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), this time for a Certificate of Appropriateness. The changes to the postmodern, Philip Johnson and John Burgee–designed skyscraper (now a New York landmark) are much more modest than the Snøhetta design that sparked the ire of preservationists back in 2017. Under the revised plan presented to the LPC on January 15, only six percent of the 1984 AT&T Building’s original facade would be changed. That includes a new row of windows on the western side (the rear) of the tower’s base and infilling the two large arches to accommodate the new elevator shaft locations in the lobby and the relocated doors to the rear passage. At the LPC meeting, Snøhetta, along with representatives of 550 Madison’s owners, Chelsfield America, Olayan America, and minority partner RXR Realty, described their design philosophy for the scheme: “Preserve and revitalize the landmarked tower, restore the original site design intent, improve on multiple alterations at the base, increase and enliven the public space." The glass-enclosure added to the building’s rear plaza in the 1994 renovation by Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman would be stripped and replaced with a lightweight and open-ended Y-shaped steel-and-glass canopy. The quarter-circle glass canopy and attached annex were original to Johnson and Burgee’s design, but enclosing the open-air walkway meant that catwalks and a ductwork system had to be installed to ventilate the space. Snøhetta claimed that by removing the annex building and extending the canopy to the tower’s neighbor, along with opening the rear row of enclosed colonnades, the firm could increase the amount of available outdoor public space to 21,300 square feet from the current 4,500 square feet. That’s up from the original open-air breezeway scheme from 1984 as well, which only included 20,500 square feet—and that’s including the unenclosed colonnades that served as the building’s privately-owned public space (POPS). The new garden would be arranged according to a program that heavily invokes circles, a motif that, as Snøhetta noted, Johnson returned to again and again throughout his career. At the building’s Madison Avenue–facing front entrance to the east, the design team elaborated on their plan to replace the heavily-mullioned windows added to enclose the flat arches by Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman. At the direction of Sony, which was headquartered in the building from 1992 to 2013, the columns were enclosed to create street-level retail spaces—something that AT&T fought against vehemently during the tower’s design process. While 550 Madison’s ownership team won’t be opening up the colonnade POPS and transforming it into a public space again, they’ve instead proposed replacing the windows in the flat arches with much larger panes. The new windows, which would only be divided into a three-by-four grid with two-inch-thick bronzed mullions, would be set back five feet from the front of the arches, unlike the current windows, which sit flush with the sidewalk. Public testimony presented before the commissioners was mixed but trended favorably. Representatives speaking on behalf of Robert A.M. Stern, Barry Bergdoll, Richard Rodgers, Signe Nielsen, Alan Ritchie (who worked on the original project with Philip Johnson in the 1970s), Claire Weisz and Mark Yoes, Elizabeth Diller, and others presented letters of support for the new proposal. Johnson Burgee wasn’t available to speak, but he contributed a letter of support for the plan as well. Many of the speakers addressed that upon its opening in 1984, the AT&T Building’s arched public space was dark and underutilized, and that Johnson was a proponent of adaptive reuse. Architecture critic Paul Goldberger, who had previously testified his support for the 550 Madison team’s changes to the building (and its landmarking), also spoke, but this time disclosed that he had been working as an outside consultant on the project. Goldberger had drawn criticism after an article in The Real Deal revealed his role, and that he subsequently had not revealed his ties to the tower’s management team prior to testifying. Speaking to AN, Goldberger admitted that he had made a mistake in not disclosing his involvement sooner but stood by his criticism of the building’s underutilized public space as having remained consistent throughout his career. His role in the project, he said, is that of a historian and someone who has intimate knowledge of the building. The praise wasn’t unanimous. Liz Waytkus, executive director of Docomomo’s U.S. chapter, criticized the new windows on Madison Avenue as they would allegedly stray even further from the tower’s original design intent and create a false sense of openness for an enclosed area. Concerns were also raised over the replacement of Johnson’s original articulated paving in favor of a simplified circular plan. Preservationist Theodore Grunewald spoke to the need to preserve 550 Madison’s “forest of columns” design and the relationship of void-to-solid between the cavernous underside and upper mass of the tower. Ultimately, the commission adjourned without making a decision. They needed time to consider the new scheme and accompanying testimony, and more importantly, lacked the number of commissioners required for a quorum. The LPC will reconvene and discuss the matter again at a future date. The entire presentation shown at the January 15 meeting is available here.
Snøhetta has recently finished work on a pair of cabins for healing in the Norwegian woods. The Outdoor Care Retreats, as the structures are known, are connected to local hospitals and are places where patients dealing with long-term illnesses can go to relax in natural settings. In a statement, child psychologist Maren Østvold Lindheim at the Oslo University Hospital said, "Nature provides spontaneous joy and helps patients relax. Being in natural surroundings brings them a renewed calm that they can bring back with them into the hospital. In this sense, the Outdoor Care Retreat helps motivate patients to get through treatment and contribute to better disease management." The cabins each provide about 375 square feet for patients to sit, recline, receive treatments, and relax. Interiors are clad in oak paneling and have large operable windows meant to create a strong connection to nature. The Friluftssykehuset Kristiansand, located near the Sørlandet Hospital Kristiansand, is shown in the above images. The other cabin, the Friluftssykehuset Rikshospitale, is close to the Oslo University Hospital, Rikshospitalet.
Snøhetta has released a swath of renderings showing how the studio plans to update the base of Philip Johnson’s (now landmarked) 550 Madison Avenue ahead of a December 4th Community Board 5 (CB5) Landmarks Committee meeting. After taking flak over their initial plans to peel back the granite facade from the postmodern tower’s base and replace it with glass, Snøhetta has released an alternate vision that will instead infill the building’s colonnade with retail. The biggest change would be to the rear passage that runs between East 56th Street and East 55th Street. Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman fully enclosed the lot within an arched glass-and-steel canopy during a renovation in 1994, and retail was installed inside: Snøhetta would replace the structure with a slimmer, open-ended alternative, scrap the retail, and instead turn the space into a massive garden. 550 Madison, originally built to headquarter AT&T in 1984, became the youngest landmarked building in New York City this past July, but owing to a secret demolition suffered in January, the lobby became ineligible for landmarking. Previously, four elevators at the back wall of the lobby would take employees and guests up to the office tower’s sky lounge 65 feet up, and traffic would be routed from there. Under Snøhetta’s scheme, the two elevator bays will be rotated 90 degrees, one to the north, one to the south, creating a passage through to the rear garden. The rear wall will only be gaining a window; a separate side door will be used to access the garden through the lobby. The Madison Avenue–facing loggias, originally public arcades that were enclosed in 2002 when Sony owned the building, would also be getting an overhaul. In the current scheme, the gridded windows would instead be replaced with a system that uses 12-foot-tall panes. At the rear, Snøhetta has designed a glass awning supported by Y-shaped steel columns that would open to the street at either end. Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman had covered one of the rear yard’s windows with a steel plate so an HVAC system could be run through, but that window would be restored if Snøhetta’s scheme is approved. In their renderings, Snøhetta has proposed a waterfall and public garden—the area currently only holds a few planters. Overall, Snøhetta claims that its updated plan would only touch six percent of the building’s facade and would increase the amount of public space from 14,600 square feet to 21,000 square feet. Plans to renovate the tower’s interior are ongoing. Although the building was originally designed to house 800 office workers, developers Chelsfield America and Olayan America, along with minority partner RXR Realty, are still on track to convert the building into Class A office space for up to 3,000 workers. AN will follow this story as it develops and will update this article following the CB5 meeting.
The Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities (CGBC) at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) have completed the conversion of their 1920s-built home into a live-in living lab that offers a perpetual post-occupancy evaluation. Designed by Snøhetta and energy engineers Skanska Teknikk Norway, HouseZero, as the building is now known, requires zero energy for climate control, zero energy for daytime lighting, and zero carbon emissions. And in addition to generating more energy than it will ever use, it will also generate extensive data about its own performance. HouseZero is the ultimate tool for the CGBC researchers to tackle the building crisis in America. No that crisis, the other one. No, the other-other one: the inefficiency of the country’s existing building stock. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, residential and commercial buildings account for nearly 40 percent of the country’s energy consumption. The CGBC is dedicated to using design and technology to create a more sustainable built environment, and HouseZero will help them develop new designs and systems for retrofitting existing buildings to significantly reduce America’s architectural carbon footprint. The renovation combines low-tech changes like larger windows to let in more light, concrete slabs to store thermal energy, and a solar vent that looks like a glass chimney, with high-tech solutions like hundreds of embedded sensors and computer-controlled actuators that automatically open and close the aforementioned larger windows to maintain the optimal internal temperature. Manual operation is also available for those times when individual comfort levels don't fall within computer-controlled optimum, and a combination of geothermal and solar heating will ensure the house stays warm during even the coldest days of a Cambridge winter. HouseZero's sensors aren’t just being used to adjust internal temperature; they’re collecting millions of points of data on the building's performance—daily—and will be used to analyze the effectiveness of its energy-saving features. The valuable data collected by HouseZero will inform “further research that demystifies building behavior,” said CGBC director Ali Malkawi. Because the building is located in the Mid-Cambridge Conservation District, the designers were limited in how they could impact the exterior of the building. This limitation ultimately benefits the project, not only by because it just makes the design more innately interesting, but also because it invites people to imagine how they could transform their own home into an energy efficient version of itself. Like Coke Zero, which promises the same great taste, with zero sugar, HouseZero promises the same great place, with zero energy. While average homeowners probably aren't going to add hundreds of sensors and a basement supercomputer to their 1923 Sears Roebuck and Co. mail-order bungalow anytime soon, they might consider adding on some larger thermal windows and maybe even some custom-designed sunscreens if they’re feeling inspired. As the CGBC aims to prove, these changes are good for the pocketbook and the environment. HouseZero is about challenging building conventions and finding new solutions to old problems. In time, the research collected by this smart house may help us building smarter towns and smarter cities across the country.
The new Calgary Central Library opened its doors to the public on November 1, a joint project between Snøhetta and Canadian studio DIALOG. The crystallized, aluminum-and-fritted-glass facade of the building’s upper portion belies a warm wood interior, and the entire library rises over an active Light Rail Transit Line that runs from below ground and up to the street level. The six-story, 240,000-square-foot library is expected to welcome twice as many visitors as the previous Central Library, no small feat in a city where more than half of the 1.2 million residents have an active library card. Patrons are welcomed by a massive wood archway at the entrance (made from western red cedar sourced from British Columbia, as with the rest of the wood in the building) shaped in reference to the region’s distinct Chinook arch cloud formations. Inside, past the lobby and atrium, an 85-foot-tall gap was carved that runs all of the way up to an oculus in the roof. According to Snøhetta, each floor was organized on a scale of “fun to serious,” with the livelier programming, such as the Children’s Library, arranged at the bottom of the building, and quieter study areas at the top. Visitors can ascend a sinuous central staircase below the oculus, and peer into the open floors and the stacks at each level. Vertically-striated wood slats were used to clad the edges at each section, extending and refining the woodwork seen in the entrance arch. At the very top is the Grand Reading Room, which, although unenclosed like the rest of the library, is meant to be the most intimate space in the building. Although faced with a difficult site, the design team chose to accentuate the necessary train tunnel at the Central Library’s northern corner. This is where the building’s curved sides join together to form a prominent “prow,” and where an inviting “living room” has been situated. The facade is made up of scattered, rhombus and triangle-shaped panels and windows. The density of the panels has been modulated depending on the level of privacy and sunlight required for each area, and openings carve out views for the spaces that look out over the city. Those strategic cuts also allow curious pedestrians to look into the library, which Snøhetta hopes will entice community members inside.
The El Paso Children's Museum announced yesterday that Snøhetta will design their brand new home in the heart of the city's Downtown Arts District. The firm beat out Koning Eizenberg Architecture and TEN Arquitectos for the honor, after a selection process that included public meetings, presentations, and the preparation of preliminary concepts for the museum. Snøhetta’s winning proposal lifts the museum off the ground on a series of angled columns, preserving the space underneath for interactive gardens. Designed for the young and the young-at-heart, the museum will inspire curiosity, exploration, and a better understanding of the world around us—something everybody could use a little more of these days—through immersive environments and innovative interactive exhibitions. The coalition of jurors who unanimously selected Snøhetta included the museum's board of directors, an architectural panel, and in, an unusually democratic process for an architecture competition, all the residents of El Paso, who were invited to vote on their favorite concept online. The commission is personal for the firm's partner and managing director Elaine Molinar, a native of El Paso. "The opportunity to create something of lasting impact for the city I grew up in is extremely rewarding," said Molinar. Supported through a combination of public funds, private-sector contributions, and a Quality of Life Bond program approved by El Paso voters in 2012, the $60 million project will be completed in 2021.