Posts tagged with "Whitney":

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Will San Franciscans embrace the new SFMOMA?

In 1995, as Mario Botta’s brand new San Francisco Museum of Art debuted, critic Pilar Viladas wrote an article for the Los Angeles Times, “San Francisco’s MOMA Moment: Mario Botta designed an interior that is sublime. But what happened to the rest of the new museum?” A similar question has been on architecture critics’ minds since Snøhetta’s $305 million expansion to Botta’s original opened to the press on April 28.

The original building was designed as an outpost for culture in a downtrodden area, a muscle man for the artistically curious. Now, billions are pouring into the area with a regional transit center, 5.4-acre elevated park, and new highrise neighborhood planned adjacent to the museum. And so, SFMOMA is evolving to reflect downtown San Francisco’s new inflection point. Interestingly, SFMOMA’s board of directors has done what those of other major national museums like New York City’s Whitney, the Museum of Modern Art, and Los Angeles’s LACMA have not: Drastically expand and reorganize gallery space without demolishing their existing museum or having to relocate to an entirely new building. Snøhetta was tasked with constructing a real building, whereas OMA and Michael Graves Architecture merely proposed similar ideas in their respective Whitney proposals decades ago. But if Viladas’s assertion that Botta’s original was ugly on the outside was proven ultimately false—San Franciscans seem to love the original SFMOMA through and through—Snøhetta’s expansion begs a new, complicated question: What happened to the rest of the old museum?

Snøhetta’s point of view in that regard is a standard one: Emphasize the existing through opposition. The 235,000-square-foot expansion grows out of the original structure’s backside and then rises ten stories above. By filling the narrow site to capacity and adding a new entrance along Howard Street, the architects greatly expanded the program’s public areas. Like in the original museum, the first three floors will be free to the public, a group that now includes all San Franciscans aged 18 and under.

This new entry features a maze of interlocking double height spaces, including a wood-clad amphitheater overlooking a pair of Richard Serra’s Sequence sculptures. The new amphitheater and Botta’s existing monumental rotunda meet at the second floor, creating “a living room for San Francisco,” as Craig Dykers, principal of Snøhetta, relayed during a guided tour. The proportions of this new “living room” are more intimate in nature than Botta’s proud entry. Snøhetta has retooled that existing entry by replacing the original oversize white switchback stairway with a low-slung wood one. Drawing comparisons to the firm’s prior Oslo Operahuset where the plane of the roof is sloped to allow pedestrian access from surrounding streets, Dykers said, “You feel ownership over a space when you can walk on the roof.” That’s a funny way to describe being on the second floor of a ten-story building, but what Snøhetta really did is bring the street indoors by luring up pedestrians from a variety of approaches.

The third floor contains dedicated photography galleries as well as a buzzing coffee shop. A large grow wall and outdoor Calder plaza flank this floor’s entry landing, creating a cool and shaded space teeming with growing things and art objects that grants museumgoers their first real glance at the museum’s icy east facade. From there up, gallery spaces stack neatly and predictably, joined for two floors by existing galleries in the Botta building.

The remaining floors above are accessed by a maze of single-run and increasingly narrow blonde wood staircases Dykers likens to those in a private home. The simultaneously jagged and swoopy perimeters of the staircases are offset by minimalist detailing. Treads, framed by Alvar Aalto-inspired hand rails, are embedded in the wall at the curved side only to pull away from it again in a reveal along the angular boundary. At your feet, singular lengths of stained planks mark the beginning and end of each stair run. “Everything your body touches is made of wood,” Lara Kaufman, project architect for the expansion, explained of the “floating,” ergonomic design of the galleries’ wood floors.

The galleries themselves are obsessive in their minimalist articulation. Dykers said outlets, return air grilles, and lighting subconsciously distract the art viewer and that the firm’s goal was to disappear these components in the gallery spaces. The team was also careful to position overhead lighting in specially calibrated vaulting that complements the galleries’ eastward-facing glazing.

The “contemporary” gallery on the seventh floor showcases recent work in a space with exposed ductwork and framing above the exhibition walls. The three floors above it are dedicated to staff offices.

Ultimately, Snøhetta’s team has made an unambiguous and honest effort to address the complicated calculus involved in adding onto a beloved art institution in a dense urban environment. As with the original structure, only time will tell how San Francisco takes to its new modern art museum.

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Here’s what happens when Zaha Hadid and Pharrell get together to design sneakers

From the strange bedfellows files: Musician Pharrell Williams has enlisted Zaha Hadid as a partner to rejuvenate a rather staid athletic shoe. The rubber toecap of Adidas' Superstar design has been remodeled by Hadid. The white version of the shoe features a fan-like 3D motif, while a raised pattern of dots and dashes decorates the black kicks. While AN doesn't pretend to dictate high fashion, we can definitely see pairing up Zaha's sneakers with Renzo Piano's Whitney handbag for an au courant look. The shoes are slated to be in stores August 7. Hadid and other notable architects are no strangers to the world of footwear design. Take a look at our past of architect-designed shoes here.
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QUICK CLICKS> Altophobia, Old Archphobia, Parkphobia, Sunset

High up. The New York Times' Edward Rothstein went out on a ledge for the paper today. The critic took on the glass boxes that protrude from the Willis Tower in Chicago known appropriately as the Ledge. The critic waxes poetic about the vulnerability of the city and the fully human sensations that occur when floating some 1,353 feet above the street. He also takes the opportunity to point out the redundancy of the Ledge's cousin, the Grand Canyon Skywalk. Tear Down. Christopher Hawthorne balked at SFMOMA's public relations campaign to portray the museum's new Snøhetta-designed wing as a wallflower respecting its Mario Botta-designed neighbor. But as Hawthorne points out in the LA Times, the new building is anything but quiet. Rather it's more a "chiseled behemoth."  Hawthorne finds the museum's affront to its Botta as part of a larger trend in the American museum world where the tendency is to drop good, but alas, old architecture in lieu of ever newer names and trends. Read: Whitney, MoMA, Barnes, to name but a few. Put a Lid on It. In a totally biased and unabashedly opinionated piece for City Watch, Jack Humphreville writes that a back room deal may have LA ratepayers of the Department of Water and Power footing the bill for a new twelve-acre park designed to cap the underground reservoir replacing the Elysian Reservoir. Humprhies argues that the $85 million park should fall under the auspices of the City and the Department of Recreation and Parks. Manhattanhenge. Gothamist reminds us that tonight at 8:17PM the full sun will set in perfect alignment with east west axis of Manhattan's street grid. Remember not to stare, mesmerized, for too long.      
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Quick Clicks> Capping Highways, Flying Meteors, Infrastructure Pop, Old School Ivy

Capping Santa Monica. Curbed LA got some great renderings from students at USC who where charged with imagining even more highway caps for the Pacific Coast Highway, this time from Arizona to California Avenues. Beyond freeway parks, the students proposed housing, hotels, and community centers. Breaking Whitney. With the deal signed for the Met to take over the Whitney's Breuer building on Madison, directors at the ground breaking for the new branch at the High Line had all the more reason to celebrate. DNA reminds readers that the museum is actually retuning home. Ol' Gerty got the ball rolling on 8th Street way back in 1930. Dylan Sings. Happy B-day Bobby! Bob Dylan turned 70 on Tuesday and in celebration the Infrastructurist presents Dylan's Ten Best Infrastructure Songs, including "The Levee's Gonna Break" and "Marchin' to the City." Old School. Design New Haven has the Robert A.M. Stern drawings for "street calming measures" at Yale that are part of the $600 million for renovations, including two new residential colleges. The plan includes mixed use buildings intended to encourage street life at all hours and improved access to the Farmington Canal Greenway .
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Alternative Whitney Proposal Designed to Attract Attention

Think Renzo Piano's still preliminary design for a new Whitney Museum of American Art is too timid? How about this alternative scheme floated by the self proclaimed "architectural provocateurs" at Axis Mundi? According to a statement, the proposal is meant to be "as bold in spirit as the original Breuer building." It's bold all right. The design calls for a structural exoskeleton, shaped by the sight lines and street grid of the city, imbedded with the circulation and mechanical systems. Column-free galleries would be suspended from the skeleton with distinctive projecting windows, reminiscent of Breuer's at the Madison Avenue Whitney. The Axis Mundi proposal mentions nothing of costs, which is one of the biggest hurdles facing the Whitney, given the museum's relatively modest endowment. Axis Mundi has chased the news before. They previously promoted an alternative to Jean Nouvel's proposed Tower Verre for MoMA, called the Vertical Neighborhood. Check out more images of their Whitney proposal after the jump.
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Dan Graham Revealed

“Architecture,” Dan Graham claims, “is my favorite hobby,” and his work has long been a source of inspiration and ideas for architects from Herzog and de Meuron to SANAA. The most comprehensive American exhibition of his art went on view today at the Whitney Museum, through October 11. Curated by Chrisse Iles and Bennett Simpson, Dan Graham: Beyond takes up the entire fourth floor of the museum, and given this space’s natural lighting, it is the perfect venue for Graham’s iconic reflective glass and metal structures.

Though Graham claims he was “never a conceptual artist,” the work he produced during the 1960s—and labeled conceptual by Lucy Lippard—is perhaps the revelation of the show. They are buried in cave-like rooms on the back of the fourth floor, and began Graham’s lifelong interest in the culture of everyday life. 

If this is not enough Graham for you, the catalogue includes some of his critical writings on art, architecture, and rock and roll, along with a cute manga by Fumihiro Nonomuro. The exhibit will feature accompanying lectures and discussions, including one with the musician Glenn Branca, whom Graham has championed for decades.

PS – While you’re there, take a relaxing break from Grahamiana and visit the Whitney’s excellent Claes Oldenburg show, which closes on September 6.

PPS – And also don't miss the nice installation LA's Jeffery Inaba just did at the old DIA space on West 22nd Street. Graham used to have an installation up there, before the arts foundation sold the place in 2004. But hurry, because the new piece is only there through Saturday.