Posts tagged with "starchitecture":

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Eavesdrop> Renzo Piano to deliver high design with a low-minded name in Des Moines

Downtown Des Moines, Iowa, courted an all-star list of architecture firms for a new $92 million corporate headquarters that has the unfortunate baggage of being helmed by the world’s most cringe-inducingly named and spelled convenience store chain, Kum & Go. BIG, Morphosis, SOM, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, and Safdie Architects all competed for what CEO Kyle Krause is calling Des Moines’ next landmark. And that landmark is going to be designed by the Piano man himself. According to the Des Moines Register, the convenience store was attracted to Piano's "ability to emphasize collaboration, transparency and light." The new building will be located between 14th and 15th streets north of the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, and locals hope the new building will take a back seat to the art on display that includes works by the likes of Jaume Plensa. The headquarters will house 300 employees in some 120,000 square feet and is expected to be complete in 2017. "What we want to do is create the best environment for our associates," Krause told the Register. "Architecturally, sure, they'll do a great job, but it's really about that inside space and what you can create inside the building that is best for our people." He added that Piano is "a great down-to-earth guy who we think can create the space that creates the transparency, the collaboration, the openness for our people to have a nice work space." Eavesdrop can’t be the only one who feels uncomfortable gassing up at this midwestern roadside retailer—but maybe a work of starchitecture can change our minds.
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Frank Gehry To Design New Facebook Offices in New York

Frank Gehry, who is currently working on Facebook's new Silicon Valley campus in Menlo Park, California, will design a new office for the company's New York-based engineering team at 770 Broadway in Manhattan. The move will nearly double the company's current workspace. In a note from Serkan Piantino, Facebook New York's engineering team site director, the new offices will share many of the same features of Facebook’s California headquarters, but with a twist that is uniquely New York. Approximately 100,000 square feet across two floors will be updated with open, collaborative spaces, conference rooms, cozy and casual work areas, writeable surfaces, and integrated video conferencing equipment. There are also plans to build out a full service kitchen for Facebook employees. At 770 Broadway, Facebook will join tenants AOL/Huffington Post, Adweek, JCrew, and Structure Tone. The move from their current offices at 335 Madison Avenue is scheduled for early 2014 under a 10-year lease with building owners Vornado Realty Trust.
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Eavesdrop> Bilbao of the Midwest?

If you read this column, you know Eaves loves a party. You also know we self-deprecatingly speak of mediocre Midwestern cities (we’re from Louisville). Even with summer winding down, there’s no need to stick out that lower lip. A slew of—well, ok, three–high profile openings will tickle even the slightest art and architecture enthusiast as Cleveland, East Lansing, and Cincinnati compete for the title of Bilbao of the Midwest. First up, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, designed by Farshid Moussavi Architecture, opens on October 6. Will the Mistake-on-the-Lake become the Rust Belt Riviera? On MOCA’s heels comes the Eli and Edythe Broad Museum on November 9. OK, we don’t know anything about East Lansing other than a school’s there, but—hey!—now they have a Zaha Hadid. And finally, Cincinnati, home to America’s first Hadid, will welcome 21c Museum Hotel by Deborah Berke & Partners. Their website says it will open late 2012. Which project will be an urban game-changer? We could be swayed by opening night invites, but right now my money’s on Cincy.
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Quick Clicks> Backtracking Bridges, Library Life, Crowd-Sourcing, and an Architecture Queen

Bridge Backtracks. Brownstoner uncovered the above historic view of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1903 back when transit and pedestrians dominated its traffic flow. StreetsBlog also noticed that the bridge has lost quite a bit of capacity as trains were removed in favor of cars (down significantly from its 1907 peak of 426,000 crossings a day). Also be sure to check out the super-high-res photo over at shorpy.com. Library Life. Robert Dawson lamented, "These are brutal times for public libraries," in a piece for Design Observer. With funding in short supply, he argued that the library is more than a room full of books, but a true "American Commons." Crowd-Sourced. The Institute for Urban Design is prepping for the first annual Urban Design Week this September with a crowd-sourced assignment to improve New York City. Running through April 30 and called By the City / For the City, you're invited to share your ideas via this handy online form. (via Polis.) Architecture Queen. The Philippine Star reports that newly registered architect Shamcey Supsup was crowned Miss Universe-Philippines. The magna cum laude graduate of the University of the Philippines won over 39 other (non-architect) contestants. Supsup's next stop is Sao Paulo, Brazil where she will take on the world, T-square in hand. (via Archinect.)
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Spooky Starchi-Lanterns Make for a Truly Haunted Halloween

While Halloween 2010 is fast fading into blurry memory and rotting pumpkins are heading curbside, these Starchi-Lanterns featuring the glowing smiles of super-personas old and new were too good to pass up.  Designers Kyle May of Abrahams-May Architects and Julia van den Hout of Steven Holl put their heads together and came away with these sixteen spooky mugs. It looks like Zaha and Gehry are having a swell time in the second row, while just above a stern Rem and Prince-Ramus are staring off in opposite directions.  Kudos to those who identify all the starchitects in the comments.  [ Via NY Observer. ]
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Inside the Spire's Demise

The Chicago skyline is one of the most impressive in the country. Those who dreamed of a twisting new tower at its pinnacle, however, will have to turn to new skyscraping schemes. The Anglo Irish Bank is seizing control of the stalled Chicago Spire’s site from Shelbourne Development. This detailed feature on the rise and fall of Santiago Calatrava’s unbuilt tower in the Irish Independent calls the project’s developer, Garrett Kelleher, emblematic of the jet-setting “Irish Tiger.” In today's real estate environment, that label sounds more like slur than a compliment.
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Taking Green Footsteps

Planetizen published an interesting piece over the weekend looking at the relative disconnect between sustainability and starchitecture, or how form may have gotten futuristic of late, but not with the future in mind. The article's a little plodding at times, though the argument is valid and clear:
Many contemporary buildings embody the age-old conflict between individual expression and the common good, while some appear almost antagonistic towards the environment. Frank Gehry's aluminum billows and Daniel Libeskind's tilted spires are largely aesthetic accents that use computer-aided design to create forms unbuildable, if not unimaginable, even a decade ago. The sheer expense of iconic libraries, concert halls, and corporate headquarters contradicts environmentalism’s drive for efficiency.
As if answering the call, the Rocky Mountain Institute launched a new site today, Green Footstep, designed to help architects calculate the carbon impact of their buildings. According to Victor Olgyay, a principal at the institute, their calculator is different than predecessors because it helps determine the building's footprint over the life of the building, not simply at inception, something most buildings—including in the LEED spectrum—fail to take into consideration. Having never designed a green building ourselves, we can't speak to the efficacy of the site, but it certainly look impressive and operates intuitively, so it's worth checking out. Should you do so, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.
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Calatrava Publicly Speaking

At the opening of the exhibition on his World Trade Center Transportation Hub, on view now at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute though August 31, Santiago Calatrava’s presentation was impeccably well mannered. He juggled questions with ease, balancing the answers on the tip of his nose, before finally pulling the “child releasing a dove” formal metaphor out of his sleeve. Like his work or not, he is a magician, charming the public with form, feats of engineering, impossibly white compositions, and notions of public service. The Great White Spiny station marks a watershed moment for New York City. Even without the site's recent history, the project's overriding formalism and object-like nature represents an important point for architecture in the city. Given Manhattan's density there is an overriding need to fit in snuggly with one's neighbors. But this time we are getting an object in a field. Before you smugly think Calatrava and his team have created a sculptural memorial to themselves, he freely admits the building will outlast its designer. Perhaps, this is his media savvy working in overdrive, but even with my overly jaded feelings about the profession of architecture, I found his take refreshing. Without being bombastic or self-serving he noted although he loves Grand Central Terminal he has no idea who designed the soaring space. Should Reed & Stem and Warren & Wetmore feel insulted by their forgotten contributions? No, according to Calatrava. He understands when White Spiny opens for use, his role, his name, and his fame will eventually be lost, but the building will remain. With true graciousness he understands the public will see the building and not recall the designers. When asked if he thought the recent whirling drop in the economy had changed architecture and/or the architect's roll Calatrava took the chance to clarify the meaning of economy. The etymology, he pointed out, means “the order of the house” and by reseting the definition was able to speak to the shift away from glamor projects towards more public work and the lowering role of the starchitect and rise of newer, younger designers. Of course much of Calatrava's career has been built on large scale public projects (even as his office has designed its share of ultra towers in Chicago and Copenhagen) and his discussion of the new glory of public work could be thought of as a celebrating his own work. No matter. The Transportation Hub will require a Metrocard to ride the rails, but otherwise is open to public at no charge. This a real public project. The hub represents the return of “A”rchitecture to the public project in New York. For far too long the United States has selected its public projects based on merits of low cost and speed of construction. But design is now seen to carry value, even in the public realm. Many factors have led to this moment, including Ed Feiner's reinvigoration of the General Services Administration and New York City's emulation of these efforts, the slip/trip/ fall of the idea as market as king, and a new administration recommitting the country to the concept of engaged citizenship. These things are stirring and bring hope. In the end, however, hope can fade and results count most. Whether you like the building or the man or not, is not the issue. What is important is that something of great design and real effort is being built, and that we as a nation again care about the public realm and we as architects are able to play a roll in this process. Santiago Calatrava: World Trade Center Transportation Hub is on view Queen Sofia Spanish Institute at 684 Park Avenue, New York City, through August, 31.
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The British Noninvasion

As Jonathan Glancey gamely points out in his piece today (a piece which ANN gamely pointed out to us), British architects--namely lords Foster and Rogers--have had a bit of a hard time building in New York. For proof he points to the speculative story from yesterday's Daily News that has the PA nixing both architects' towers. Of course, those aren't the only problems they've had. Foster's 980 Madison has been dogged by detractors since its inception, drawing the notable ire of Tom Wolfe. And as plans for his Bowery art gallery move forward, those at the New York Public Library have been put on hold. Rogers, meanwhile, lost his commission to design an expanded Javits Center, though the likelihood of anything happening there seems in doubt, as well. Glancey does rightly note that the French have fared slightly better, though here, still, he should look beyond the obvious--in this case, the Statue of Liberty--to the more contemporary and familiar, say these three projects. (Okay, so that last one's Swiss.) Also, being Japanese doesn't hurt, even at Ground Zero. Though, as one might expect in New York, it is best to be Italian or a Jew from Toronto.
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UPDATE: Guangzhou Opera House Fire

A spokesman for Zaha Hadid Architects sent AN the following statement on the condition of the building following the fire: "An incident involving a fire at the construction site of the Guangzhou Opera House occurred at 7:50am on Saturday 09 May 2009. All staff were evacuated safely with no injuries. No members of the public were involved. The fire was extinguished by the Fire Department in under an hour. Initial inspections confirm the structure of the building remains completely intact. Further investigations into the cause are undergoing. We must wait for these investigations to be completed before we know if the opening date will need to be altered."
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Hadid Opera House Burns

AN has learned of a fire at Guangzhou Opera House. The project, designed by Zaha Hadid with a web-like exoskeleton, includes an 1,800-seat theater as well as a multipurpose hall and support facilities. The building was set to open this fall. A Chinese media outlet reports that the blaze has been extinguished but that the extent of the damage has not been determined. A project architect is currently on site and a statement from Hadid's office is expected shortly. Following the recent fire of the OMA-designed TVCC tower, the event represents the second construction blaze at a building site in China by an internationally known architect. UPDATE: Hadid's office responds.