Steven Holl Architects (SHA) has designed and completed the first-ever expansion of the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. Located southeast of the National Mall along the Potomac River, the three pavilions that make up The REACH opened this weekend to the public, marking the Washington, D.C.-based institution’s largest design upgrade in its 48-year-history. The $250-million addition spans four-acres of sweeping, waterfront landscape next to the main Edward Durell Stone-designed building that’s held all of the Kennedy Center’s programming for decades. Arranged in a series of angular, cast-in-place concrete structures that are semi-submerged underground, The REACH is strategically woven into the surrounding, sloping green space and features a contemporary vision that lightly references its parent building next door. According to a press release, the new structures “break down the traditional barriers separating art and audience.” The Welcome Pavilion, Skylight Pavilion, and River Pavilion all emerge from the green lawns with shapely white facades and opaque glass windows. Together, they make up a porous and fluid, 72,000-square-foot facility that, though largely underground, includes ample access to daylight and features soaring, open interiors. While the site doesn’t look very active from an aerial perspective, what you see above ground isn’t all that you get. Inside and below the pavilions is a large network of flexible rehearsal studios and classrooms, as well as performance and public spaces that are, by design, more welcoming to visitors—something the Kennedy Center previously lacked. AN wrote previously about the crinkled concrete walls that were integrated into the studio spaces to stop sound from echoing throughout the below-grade rooms. Performance-enhancing technology such as this was used at every level of the building project. For example, SHA worked with ARUP to make The REACH more sustainable than its predecessor; it’s now on track to achieve LEED Gold status. The site features a closed-loop, ground source heat rejection system, advanced temperature controls, an under-floor concrete trench system, and radiant floor heating made by ARUP’s in-house software suite, Oasys Building Environmental Analysis (BEANS). Much like other projects by Steven Holl, the integration of unique light cutouts on the sides or tops of the buildings and curvaceous walls made the structures difficult to heat or cool efficiently. Arup’s interventions will help the facility maintain proper temperatures year-round. In addition to improving the Kennedy Center campus, The REACH was intended to bolster the memory of JFK. Some of the spaces within the pavilions were named after the 35th president, and a plaza with 35 gingko trees honors his life and accomplishments. Over time, the 130,000-square-foot landscape is expected to grow into a fuller, more vibrant addition to the riverfront and help activate a formerly-inaccessible area. SHA also designed a pedestrian bridge to cross the highway separating the Center from the water’s edge.
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Brought to you with support fromSteven Holl Architects' (SHA) expansion of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.—titled The REACH—is expected to open to the public at the beginning of September. The $250-million expansion consists of a 4.6-acre complex with three semi-submerged pavilions rising with bright-white cast-in-place concrete and opaque glass facades. Notably, SHA's design features crinkled concrete sound-dampening walls that could potentially be used on facades. The use of concrete integrates the addition with the material palette of the preexisting Edward Durell Stone–designed complex, albeit the new buildings break from the rectilinearity of the older pagoda-like buildings by using soaring curves.
The Steven Holl Architects (SHA)-led team has won the University College of Dublin's (UCD) Future Campus – University College Dublin International Design Competition. Holl’s winning scheme will see the creation of a “green spine” across the sixty-acre campus, and construction of a crystalline Centre for Creative Design. Steven Holl Architects was joined by Dublin-based Kavanagh Tuite Architects, Brightspot Strategy, structural engineers ARUP, landscape architects HarrisonStevens, and climate engineers Transsolar. Nearly 100 teams from 28 different countries entered the competition, and a star-studded shortlist featuring Diller Scofidio + Renfro, John Ronan Architects, O’Donnell + Toumey, Steven Holl Architects, Studio Libeskind, and UN Studio was revealed in April. The SHA-designed Centre will reportedly reflect the “60-million-year-old natural geometry” of the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, filtered through the “stream of consciousness”-style prose found in UCD alumnus James Joyce’s Ulysses, according to Steven Holl. The resultant building is a geometric take on SHA’s more typical institutional work, with windows and balconies carved into prismatic shapes, including a gem-like auditorium faceted like a dodecagon. A plaza and reflecting pool will meet the building at its base. Inside, the center has been optimized for collecting natural light as the jutting crystal shapes—rotated 23 degrees in reference to the tilt of the Earth—will act as enormous solar tubes. The new building will contain classrooms and maker spaces bounded by glass walls, so visitors can peer into the academic areas without disrupting the work going on inside. The Centre will act as a gateway to the seven new quadrangular green spaces the team has designed, which will be interlinked through the new pedestrian “spine” that will run parallel to the campus’s existing circulation route. The SHA team has included a series of solar power-generating weather canopies along the route, as well as cafes and social gathering spaces. UCD was founded in 1854 and is the largest college in Ireland with over 30,000 students. The current 330-acre campus was designed in 1963 by Polish architect Andrej Wejchert and contains a large number of brutalist buildings. The Centre’s budget will be approximately $60 million, and no completion date has been given as of yet.
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Earlier this year, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) opened the new Glassell School of Art, the nation’s only museum-affiliated art school serving pre-K through postgraduate students. The Steven Holl Architects-designed project is the first building in a 14-acre development that will reshape the museum’s campus. It joins other buildings on the campus designed by Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, Rafael Moneo, and Carlos Jimenez. The design has an L-shaped plan with a sloping, walkable roofline running the length of the building.
The facade of the Glassell School consists of monumental precast concrete panels tied together with cast-in-place concrete plank beams with glazed infill panels between. There are 178 unique precast panel shapes. They all reference the same 11-degree angle seen in the slope of the roof. This shows up with variations in each panel to create the facade’s unique look. Originally, the project team designed a system of only precast panels, but this created challenging connection details, so they opted for cast-in-place beams to connect the panels. These beams were cast with vertically-projected rebar that each precast panel mounted onto. The panels were fitted with sleeves at the base and the top to receive the rebar from the beams. This required a great amount of precision in the fabrication of the panels to align the sleeves with the rebar. It took immense coordination between the architects, the concrete contractor casting the beams, and the precast fabricator, Gate Precast Company. The architects, along with the client, chose to cast the concrete using a color that references the Indiana limestone used in the surrounding buildings on the campus. The cast-in-place beams were cast in a similar white concrete to match the precast concrete as closely as possible. The interior of the building is mostly art studios, which called for indirect daylighting. Steven Holl Architects delivered this through the use of two different glazing systems integrated within the facade. Alternating between the precast concrete structure there are expansive insulated glazing units (IGUs) with a translucent polyvinyl butyral (PVB) interlayer. This assembly was designed to mitigate solar gain and save energy while allowing the interior to be fully illuminated. The translucent glass also creates a glowing effect for the building's exterior at night. In addition to the IGUs, each studio space has a small three-foot-by-three-foot operable vent with clear glazing that allows for an exterior view.
University College Dublin (UCD) revealed the latest design proposals from the six shortlisted teams for Future Campus—University College Dublin International Design Competition. Six teams were chosen from the 98 firms that submitted proposals earlier this year, and the latest renderings reveal competing visions for the university's future. Diller Scofidio + Renfro (New York) John Ronan Architects (Chicago) O’Donnell + Tuomey (Dublin) Steven Holl Architects (New York) Studio Libeskind (New York) UNStudio (Amsterdam) The design competition consists of two design initiatives—one is a sixty-acre Entrance Precinct master plan and another is the Centre for Creative Design, a new building to house a maker space and a “living learning lab.” UCD, Ireland’s "Global University", is one of Ireland’s largest universities with more than 30,000 students. The university moved to its current 330-acre Belfield campus in 1963, which was masterplanned by Polish architect Andrzej Wejchert through another competition. The current campus consists of a collection of estates, including period houses and four- to five-story Brutalist structures within a landscaped setting. The master plan is envisioned to be “a highly-visible and welcoming entrance precinct” to introduce placemaking and establish an identity for the university. The new masterplan will house the 90,000 square foot Centre for Creative Design, which is meant to be an emblem of UCD’s creative identity. Another aspect of the masterplan is to increase the permeability of the campus boundary, potentially by introducing a new vehicular entrance and working with planned public transportation connections and other transport modes. “We are seeking an integrated design proposal that improves the experience of our campus for its users and that better connects us to our surroundings, orientating us outwards to the world and inviting our communities to engage with us,” said Professor Hugh Campell, professor of architecture at UCD and member of the competition jury. The university is now seeking comments on the design proposals from the UCD community, whose feedback will be fed to the jury. The winner will be announced in August 2018.
As preparations and celebrations unfurl for the 2018 FIFA World Cup kick-off in Russia tomorrow, AN has rounded up our favorite up-and-coming projects (and new sports venues) across the country. From James Bond-esque houses and parachute-themed neighborhoods to massive new developments, Russia has provided a playground for high-profile firms to experiment with new forms. Below are some of the wildest and most ambitious projects announced or completed recently, including the venues for the games themselves: Silhouette Location: Moscow MVRDV The modular Silhouette was the result of a design competition that concluded in January of this year and will serve as a “gateway to Moscow” once completed. The 256-foot-tall, mixed-use complex contains a bit of everything—luxury apartments on the top floors and a roof terrace, offices, a sports center, and a grocery store at its base. The pixelated tower block will be clad in a red ceramic tile, and the form takes cues from abstractions of Moscow’s skyline and the constructivist Ministry of Agriculture building across the street. The extrusions and sculptural cuts at the building’s base were carefully planned to create an inviting presence at ground level. Tuschino District Residential Development Location: Moscow Steven Holl Architects and Kamen Steven Holl Architects and Kamen Architecture Art-Group have proposed a new “Parachute Hybrids” typology for their residential development in Moscow’s Tushino district. Drawing inspiration from the site’s history as a former paratrooper airfield, the vertically-oriented slabs and horizontal bases have been run through with circular cuts reminiscent of parachutes drifting through the sky. Tushino will offer residences of every type and target every income bracket, while a new kindergarten and elementary school will serve residents in the development. “Tushino can be an important urban model for 21st century high density living, shaping public open space,” said Steven Holl. “The new building type we have proposed here, inspired by the site’s history, is unique to this place.” Capital Hill Residence Location: Moscow Zaha Hadid Architects The recently completed Capital Hill Residence was the only private house designed by Hadid herself, and the towering form bears all of the late architect’s signature biomorphic curves. Rising above the tree line of the Moscow’s Barvikha Forest like an emerging submarine, the house’s prominent “mast” seemingly floats 72 feet above the landscape and provides sweeping views. The building’s base gradually tapers into the earth below and provides a private area for the homeowner to retreat to. The organic shape of the concrete and dramatic change in elevation is meant to give viewers the impression of something fast-moving and fluid. Admiral Serebryakov Embankment master plan Location: Novorossiysk Zaha Hadid Architects and Pride TPO (Moscow) ZHA will be responsible for revitalizing nearly 35 acres of coastal neighborhood along the Black Sea in Novorossiysk at Russia’s largest port. Residents can expect new opportunities for outdoor leisure activities on the Black Sea, a new port, marina, new piers, and a weaving of the new areas into the city’s existing urban. The master plan will also bring nine new buildings to the waterfront, each representing a different stage in a sequential iterative design, creating a sweeping, wave-like skyline in the process. The one million square feet of new space will be used for a hotel, civic and conference spaces, and offices. The project is moving quickly, and construction on the first phase will begin in the second half of 2019. Ekaterinburg Arena Location: Yekaterinburg PI Arena (2015-2017 renovation) Originally built in 1956 as the multi-sport Central Stadium, Ekaterinburg Arena was recently renovated in 2011. Although it was modernized, the arena’s 20,000-seat capacity meant that another round of work would be needed to bring the arena up to FIFA’s 35,000 seat minimum. Another renovation took place in 2015 that saved the building’s historic facade and increased the stadium's capacity, but temporary seating to bring the arena’s capacity up to 45,000 seats was still needed, and has been installed behind both goal areas for the four World Cup games being played there. Volgograd Arena Location: Volgograd Sport-Engineering A spiraling lattice swirls around the base of Volgograd Arena, one of the stadiums built for this year’s World Cup. The project was built on a budget, but the exposed superstructure, squat single-piece form, and colorful cable roof makes it architecturally distinct from many of the Soviet-era venues made from concrete. After the World Cup, Volgograd Arena will have its seating capacity reduced down to 35,000 and the stadium will become the new home of local football club Rotor Volgograd. Nizhny Novgorod Stadium Location: Nizhny Novgorod OAO Stroytransgaz A light and airy stadium at the fork of two rivers, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium was designed with elements of air and water in mind. The white-and-blue color palette and spacious use of columns to create open-air areas helps lend the stadium a feeling of openness. At night, the building emanates light from the top and sides through its semi-transparent facade. The stadium was commissioned for the 2018 World Cup and was completed last year. The building boasts a 45,000-seat capacity and will be handed over to football club Olimpiyets Nizhny Novgorod after the World Cup is over.
University College of Dublin (UCD) has just announced the finalists of its Future Campus – University College Dublin International Design Competition. Of the ninety-eight firms that submitted proposals, six have been chosen for the project’s shortlist: Diller Scofidio + Renfro (New York), John Ronan Architects (Chicago), O’Donnell + Toumey (Dublin), Steven Holl Architects (New York), Studio Libeskind (New York), and UN Studio (Amsterdam). The Future Campus Competition is for two connected projects on the university’s campus, a sixty-acre master plan and a new academic building. With over 30,000 students, University College of Dublin is Ireland’s largest university. Founded in 1854, the university migrated to its current 330-acre Belfield campus in 1963, which was designed by Polish architect Andrej Wejchert. Wejchert’s design is primarily composed of four- to five-story Brutalist structures within a landscaped setting. The campus is located on the edge of Dublin, just over two miles from the city center. UCD views the future master plan as a “highly-visible and welcoming entrance” establishing an “urban design vision that values high-quality placemaking, architecture, and public realm.” Within the master plan area, UCD envisions an approximately 90,000-square-foot academic lab dubbed The Centre for Creative Design. The estimated budget for the project is just under $60 million. Professor Andrew J. Deeks, President of University College Dublin, describes the competition process as a rare moment to build “a design that will become an icon for the University – representing our vision to create something extraordinary and brilliant.” All six firms will conduct a site visit at the campus by the end of the month, with a winner announced in August 2018.
Ahead of its official opening on April 21, AN toured the luminescent Steven Holl Architects-designed Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond. Though the ICA uses a simple material palette–zinc, raw concrete, translucent glass, and splashes of wood–it becomes more than the sum of its parts thanks to smart siting decisions that put natural light on display as much as the artwork. The concept of the past, present and future mingling together informed the “branching paths” shape of the building, the dual entrances (one towards the VCU campus and the other towards the city itself) and the finish details. In Holl’s own words, the building was conceived as a nexus between past and future, with “forking time” as the project’s central design tenant. Across the 41,000-square-foot space, each of the three gallery spaces, one on each floor, extend and rotate as they rise. From the exterior, the ICA can appear monolithic, as the distinction between its horizontal zinc panels and vertical frosted glass windows can disappear on cloudy days. At night the building glows from within and casts light from the ends of its rectangular volumes into the sculpture garden and the campus beyond. The project sits on the northeastern corner of VCU’s campus, both on top of the historic Elba train station and next to Richmond’s busiest intersection. That embodied kinetic energy extends to the building itself and into dramatic upward-flowing curves, whether in the 33-foot-tall Royall Forum at the entrance or the 33-foot-tall True Farr Luck capstone gallery that’s bounded by a swooping arch. Holl is obviously no stranger to designing light-filled art institutions; this year is the 20th anniversary of the semi-circular Kiasma Museum in Helsinki. As a result, the ICA is designed with exhibitions and flexibility in mind, from the terrazzo ground concrete floors to unfinished concrete-beam-ceilings, affording artists the chance to anchor pieces as they see fit. It’s impossible to separate the institution from the art on display within. The ICA will hold no permanent collection and will instead feature rotating shows of various sizes throughout the year. Not having to worry about how light would affect the art afforded Holl the opportunity to design around the natural daylight cycle, instead of creating diffused, even light throughout. The light from the skylights piercing the first and second-floor galleries ebbs and flows as the sun moves overhead. Many of the installations in the ICA’s inaugural exhibition, Declaration (an examination of how artists can address contemporary social issues), are arranged around these windows, using them as spotlights or for increased ambiance. Nowhere is this usage of light more prominent than in the top-floor gallery, which is sandwiched between a wall of glass on the western front and an elevated window on the eastern side. Besides the space’s enormous height, the most striking feature is how the sun moves from one window to the next over the day, creating a dynamically-lit space that sheds new light on the oversized installations within, depending on what time of day it is. The auditorium stands apart in its material palette, wrapped in cherry wood panels. The building also includes a sculpture garden and reflecting pool, and 8,000 square feet of greenery that covers three of the four gallery roofs. Sustainability considerations also factored heavily into the design, and the ICA is heated and cooled entirely through the use of 43 geothermal wells which radiate warmth up through the floor. The $41 million building is designed to attract passerby with its ground-level clear glass facade at ground level and the zinc-clad building volume lifting up over the entranceway. It also happens to take on new shapes depending on which direction it’s approached from. While it might seem imposing from the sidewalk, visitors will find an organic, constantly changing embrace within. Declaration will run from April 21, 2018, through September 9, 2018, and admission to the ICA is free.
The Dorsky Museum’s Hudson Valley Masters series continues in February 2018 with Steven Holl: Making Architecture, an exhibition examining the work of one of the world’s foremost architects. Architect Steven Holl has realized numerous commissions from private houses to major urban projects. Despite the demands of a highly successful office, he has managed to maintain the integrity and quality of his work by resisting corporatization. His practice reveals an inextricable link between his art and architecture. Holl draws with watercolors everyday, a solitary and hermetic practice from which each of his projects emerges. He also develops conceptual ideas in sculpture. Steven Holl: Making Architecture will reveal Holl’s intricate and distinctive process of making architecture through approximately one hundred models and related sketches and other studies created for nine recent projects, among them the Arts Building at Franklin and Marshall College, Pennsylvania; The Kennedy Center Expansion, Washington D.C.; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and Maggie’s Cancer Care Center in London.
After an arduous journey, Steven Holl's Maggie's Centre is finally open. The new $10 million London care center, as with all Maggie’s Centres, will offer free emotional and practical support to cancer patients. This particular center, however, was marred by controversy—not something you would expect from a building designed to help sick people. The center is the latest for Maggie's, the charity founded by Charles Jencks in 1995 after his wife, Maggie Keswick Jencks, died of cancer. The couple believed in the uplifting power of architecture and have since installed more than 20 centers across the world, the majority of which are in the U.K. Nestled into a neoclassical enclave on the grounds of St. Bartholomew's Hospital in central London, Holl's Maggie's Center very nearly never happened. For his design to be built, a rudimentary brick building from the 1960s had to come down. But that wasn’t the issue. Instead, the project’s adversaries argued that the new center didn’t connect with its surroundings. This is nothing new with Maggie’s Centers across the U.K., even though Jencks has previously enlisted architecture’s A-list to design the structures, which are independent from nearby hospitals. Jencks has tapped Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Richard Rogers, Rem Koolhaas, and soon Daniel Libeskind, with a center in Hampstead. A page from Charles Jencks’ The Architecture of Hope: Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres shows the site plan of all centers (before Holl’s was built). Here we can see green cytoplasm shrouding the Maggie’s Center nuclei; almost all the centers are one story and are surrounded by a protective grass lawn. On such a tight site, there was no room for greenery, on the ground level at least. The first Maggie’s Center to reach three stories, Holl’s design incorporates a roof garden overlooking a centuries-old quadrangle that includes the 1740s church of St. Bartholomew-the-Less. In a recent lecture at the World Architecture Festival, British architect and planner Sir Terry Farrell referenced Frank Gehry’s center in Dundee, Scotland (full disclosure: I work in communications at Farrell's firm). He argued that the building exacerbated the dichotomy between the brilliantly designed and the under-designed. Who wouldn’t want a pristine lawn to protect from the encroaching drab contemporary hospital vernacular? At St. Bartholemew’s, which is Europe's oldest hospital, such banal healthcare architecture cannot be found. Despite this, Holl's Maggie’s Center is at peace with its neighbors. After calls for modifications, the center shares a basement, toilets, and elevators with the adjacent 18th century Great Hall, a landmarked work of architect James Gibbs. Even these changes were nearly not enough. Holl's design scraped through the second round of planning by one vote and even after that, a lawsuit was filed against the planners. "I flew in from New York and they gave me three minutes in a courtroom. That was it!" Holl recalled, laughing. Wrapping the building is a facade that at night reveals the squares of color embedded, offering a hazy glow. During the day, this color palette is significantly muted and the glass skin is more of a misty gray. Outside, visitors can also see a rounded corner design, which is mirrored inside by a bamboo staircase that traces the perimeter as it winds upward. Holl calls this the “basket” and a “vessel within a vessel within a vessel,” a reference to the concrete structural shell that lies between the glass and bamboo. No attempt has been made to hide this structure, and the result is a pleasing display of both tectonics and tactile design in harmony. According to the Holl, the glass is a new invention. Comprising two layers of insulation, the embedded color film channels light out at night and blurs it during the day. The colored squares are also a reference to Medieval music's "neume notation." “It couldn’t be glossy!” exclaimed Holl. “There are too many glass buildings today.” The architect continued: "Jencks thinks I'm a postmodernist, however, this building is for architecture a manifesto for the expression of materials; [it stands] against everything pomo was." “In my 40 years of practice, this is one of my favorite buildings I’ve ever done,” Holl said.
Steven Holl Architects, in collaboration with Rüssli Architekten, has been selected by Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) to design the organization’s new Geneva Operational Center. The winning proposal’s playful design was selected unanimously over international proposals from Pool Architekten & Mak Architecture, Sauerbruch Hutton, Emilio Tuñon Arquitectos and Ruckstuhl Architekten, Blue Architects, and Consortium Sou Foujimoto with The New Talent Workshop. Broken up into several distinct cubic volumes and clad in a boldly colored photovoltaic glass curtain-wall facade, the building has been nicknamed “Colors of Humanity.” Much more than a decorative element, the glass is composed of 40-percent-transparent solar cells. By changing the color and permeability of the glass across the Operational Center, the facade can shade, cool and power the building all at once while still allowing operable windows. When combined with the more efficient photovoltaic panels nestled within the roof garden, and the Geneva district Genilac lake water loop, 72 percent of the building’s electricity will be self-produced. Providing workstations, meeting rooms, classrooms, and social spaces for over 250 Doctors Without Borders employees, the design also offers an inherently flexible approach to programming. By overlaying criss-crossing passages throughout the interior with seated alcoves and meeting spaces, the firm set out to spur spontaneous conversation and collaboration among the many different types of staff. “These centers serve as a friendly catalyst for interaction, acting like social condensers within the building,” Steven Holl Architects explained. Providing support for more than 6,300 employees across 23 countries, the Center will house several other international project teams such as the “International Office,” the international secretariat, which includes activities related to the Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines, and various pilot projects. Keeping the diversity of the organization’s work in mind, the Center’s form and photovoltaic systems were designed with the possibility of expansion in the future. “Steven Holl Architects’ project is the opportunity for MSF to integrate its core values like independence, impartiality, neutrality, altruism and dynamism in a challenging new architecture and project itself in the future," said Mathieu Soupart, Logistics Director for the Geneva Operational Center, in a prepared statement. With an expected start date of spring 2019, the Geneva Operational Center will neighbor the Higher International Studies and Development, designed by Kengo Kuma & Associates, and the Terra and Casa Foundation expatriate housing by Bonnard Woeffray Architectes.
Earlier this month Steven Holl Architects and Princeton University opened the new Lewis Center for the Arts, a three-building complex anchoring the school’s new 22-acre arts and transit neighborhood. The 145,000-square-foot complex, providing teaching and performance spaces for theater, dance, visual arts and music, includes the Wallace Dance Building and Theater, containing a black box theater and dance performance spaces; the Arts Tower, containing a gallery for the Program in Visual Arts, offices and additional studios; and the new Music Building, containing rehearsal rooms. While the concrete, steel and glass buildings play off each other formally—expanding, tightening, and heightening in seeming progression, all clad in thick, blonde limestone—each takes on a unique identity, reflecting its use and augmenting the complex’s porosity and energy. "There’s an interesting relationship between the whole and the parts," described Steven Holl. "Like an orchestra, in one way, the buildings act on their own, and in another they act like a unified piece." The interior of the Wallace Theater is finished in perforated black steel, while other theaters in that building are finished in varied materials like foamed aluminum, whitewashed wood, and board formed concrete. All are connected by a “dancing stair,” zig-zagging and twirling between levels, clad in vibrant perforated metal. The Music Building’s individual, wood-chambered practice rooms—floating above the large orchestral rehearsal room—are suspended on steel rods, keeping them acoustically isolated in tension, as if they were musical instruments. This interplay can be clearly seen from outside through glass curtain walls. The six-story Arts Tower, cantilevering and seeming to float over its small entryway, references the proportions and massing of the school’s nearby Blair Arch, a famed, vital access point on campus. All three buildings are connected via the Forum, an 8,000 square-foot underground gathering space serving each facility. Above this is an outdoor plaza fitted with stone benches and bluestone pavers and a reflecting pool installed with skylights that filter what Holl describes as "liquid light dancing on the floor" down to the Forum. The complex was made possible in part through a $101 million gift to the University in 2006 by the late Peter B. Lewis, a former Princeton alumnus and university trustee. The arts and transit neighborhood — an ambitious effort to create an engaged gateway on the southern edge of the school’s campus— was designed by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Michael Van Valkenburgh. The area also contains a striking new transit hall, a rail station, and various eateries, including the most modern-looking Wawa in existence. Over 450 trees have been planted on the new grounds, 21 of which are on the Lewis Arts Center site.