Karen Cilento

Don Giovanni / Gehry + Rodarte

Photo by Autumn de Wilde

Performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Mozart’s Don Giovanni shares the tale of a promiscuous nobleman and his eventual downfall to the throngs of Hell for his wrongdoings.   , who, in 2003, designed the Disney Concert Hall where Don Giovanni is being shown, was asked to construct the opera set which is paired with the costume design of sisters  Kate and Laura Mulleavy of .  In typical Gehry fashion, the set design includes an intensely layered backdrop of organically crumbled paper.  The abstract sculptural forms – which can be interpreted as anything from icy waves to the bedsheets of his sexual conquests – create a neutral textured setting which make Rodarte’s colorfully detailed costumes pop.

More about the set design after the break. 

Does the Shard Need Time?

Getty Images

The disappointment generated by the Shard’s opening laser light show is not so surprising for a project that has been grounded in controversy for over a decade.  Since 2000, when Piano sketched his initial vision upon meeting developer Irvine Sellar, the project has consistently met obstacles such as English Heritage and the financial crash of 2007.   But, the biggest opposition of the tower has been its height.  English Heritage claimed that the tower, formerly known as Bridge Tower, would “tear through historic like a shard of glass” (ironically, coining the new name of the tower), and Piano counters that, “The best architecture takes time to be understood…I would prefer people to judge it not now. Judge it in 10 years’ time.”

Leading us to wonder…does simply need time to be fully appreciated?

Video: Modern Tide: Midcentury Architecture on Long Island

After WWII, the East End of played host to a variety of architectural styles.  From modernism, through post-modernism, and deconstructionism,  architects experimented with social ideas and aesthetic expressions which culminated in “small” houses scattered about the Island’s natural backdrop.  Now, with the advent of the mega-mansion and the desire for “bigger”, it is becoming increasingly difficult to preserve such iconic and progressive architectural projects.

More about the film after the break. 

The Shard’s Opening Celebration

Opening Celebration / Tonight at 10.15

Tonight, Renzo Piano’s Shard will officially celebrate its opening complete with an amazing light show.  A dozen lasers and thirty searchlights will beam streams of light across the city, creating a network between 15 other significant landmarks in London, such as the Gherkin, London Eye, Tate Modern, and Tower Bridge.  (So, if you are in London, don’t miss the event at 10.15 this evening, and be sure to share some photos with us!)

Capping out at 310 meters, has become the tallest building in London, as well as the entire European Union.  We have been following the history of Renzo Piano’s creation, and although laden with financial troubles, a change in developers,  and criticism from Londoners, the project has finally reached completion.

More about the history of the tower after the break.

Wendy Opens at MoMA PS1 / HWKN

with Wendy © ArchDaily

 Yesterday afternoon, inside the playground of PS 1, we met Wendy - HWKN’s temporary summer installation for the 2012 Young Architects Program.  As an experiment in pushing the boundaries of what architecture can do in an urban environment, Wendy certainly makes an impression.   Her blue spiky arms shoot passed the confines of PS 1′s courtyard walls, immediately attracting the attention and piquing the curiosity of those meandering along Jackson Street.   Conceptualized as a storm, Wendy intends to challenge the public’s notion of what architecture should be, as the structure’s ecological function will actually clean the air.  ”Wendy does not play the typical architecture game of ecological apology – instead she is pro-active,” explained HWKN.

More about Wendy after the break.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit / London Olympics / Kapoor + Balmond

/ Anish Kapoor + Cecil Balmond

Is it the perfect blend of sculpture and engineering, or it is a twisted form of nonsense?  Opinions are quite varied on the subject of Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond’s observation tower, ArcelorMittal Orbit, which will serve as a permanent reminder of ’s hosting of the 2012 Olympic Games.  The red steel structure will rise close to 400 feet – taller than New York’s Statue of Liberty and ’s Big Ben – to be Britain’s largest piece of public art.  Criticized for undertaking such a massively expensive project during the country’s recession, Mayor Boris Johnson has claimed that the Orbit will not only enhance visitors’ experiences at the Olympic Games but will also be “the right thing for the Stratford site” beyond the summer time, calling on its potential to become ”the perfect iconic cultural legacy”.

More about the Observation Tower after the break.

Zaha Hadid Speaks out about Austerity

Zaha Hadid via AN Blog

With the economic stability of Europe still uncertain, Dame Hadid has recently spoken out against ideas of austerity, warning the UK government that such a move would lead to poor quality projects for the country’s citizens.  Hadid told Kath Viner of The Guardian,  ”I think that austerity is used as a cliche because people don’t have ideas, they want to crib (old ones) to do bad stuff.  Schools, housing, hospitals – I think the government should invest in good housing.”   Hadid went on to explain, “”There needs to be investment. We need some sort of quality.  All the privileged can travel, see different worlds, not everyone can. I think it is important for people to have an interesting local nearby. Buildings need to do another job, enlighten people, space enlightens the same way as music art and technology.”

Hadid states that slashing budgets will lead to horrible developments such as the British buildings of the 1960s.  While it would be a detriment to cut all project budgets, if a metropolis’ restructuring plan implements stricter budgets in order to more evenly distribute funds for the good of the whole, such a budget can not be ignored.  Upon being asked about the cost of her projects, Hadid described her work as “not particularly expensive”; however, her latest Olympic Aquatic Center, which will be in high demand in a few weeks, was originally budgeted for 75 million British pounds and reached more than 250 million by completion date.

While we find Hadid’s words inspiring, we want to know your thoughts on if there can be a balance between implementing measures of austerity while still investing in quality architecture to shape cities and uplift society.

 

Milestone for 4 World Trade

Construction workers watch as the beam rises 977 feet via The Daily News/David Handschuh

Yesterday, the final steel beam rose 977 feet into the air and was placed atop Center – the 72-story tower designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect . As gospel singer BeBe Winans sang “God Bless America”, the 8 ton beam, signed by all members of the team and adorned with an American flag, reached its final destination atop the city’s sixth tallest tower.

At over 80 years of age, Maki is making his New York debut in an elegant manner.  The tower was designed to serve as a “respectful backdrop” to the National September 11 Memorial and not to compete with 1 World Trade.  ”This is a special place with a sacred meaning and we felt we had to be respectful,” explained Osamu Sassa, Maki’s project architect, to The New York Times.   Such a ideology offers a strong contrast with the other architectural statements that will eventually rise as part of the World Trade Center complex, such as Norman Foster’s 2 World Trade and Richard Roger’s 3 World Trade.   While the minimalism of Maki may have kept the design under the radar during its design and construction stages, the grace of its simplicity will craft a dignified presence while visiting the site.  ”The design of the tower at 150 Greenwich has two fundamental elements –  a ‘minimalist’ tower that achieves an appropriate presence, quiet but with dignity, and a ‘podium’ that becomes a catalyst for activating the surrounding urban streetscape as part of the revitalization of lower Manhattan,” explained Maki.

More about 4 World Trade after the break. 

The Life of Gerhard Kallmann

© David L. Ryan for The Boston Globe

At 97 years of age, the architect Gerhard Kallmann passed away on Tuesday in Boston.  Kallmann’s career was ignited with the design of Boston City Hall, a neo-brutalist building that received mixed feelings of criticism and praise upon its completion.  After escaping Nazi Germany in 1937, Kallmann studied at the Architectural Association in London before moving to the United States and teaching in Chicago and .  It was in Columbia University where Kallmann met Michael McKinnell and the two would grow to co-found Kallmann, McKinnell & Knowles in 1962 – the same year they won the competition for City Hall.

More about Kallmann after the break.

Update: ABI May

Via the WSJ

We continue our coverage of the Architecture Billings Index with a not-so optimistic report for May.   The economic indicator showed a substantial drop in the Index (which had previously been inching upward over the past five months).    In fact, all regions reported a decline in demand for design services and all regions fell below 50 (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings).     The official report for May was 45.8, with the regional breakdown as follows: Northeast (48.6), West (47.6), Midwest (46.8), South (46.1).  “For the second year in a row, we’re seeing declines in springtime design activity after a healthy first quarter.  Given the ongoing uncertainly in the economic outlook, particularly the weak job growth numbers in recent months, this should be an alarm bell going off for the design and construction industry,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA.  “The commercial/industrial sector is the only one recording gains in design activity at present, and even this sector has slowed significantly. Construction forecasters will have to reassess what conditions will look like moving forward.”

We will keep you updated and hope for some different news for June.

 


Experimentarium Science Center / CEBRA

North-East View ©

Architect: CEBRA
Location: Tuborg Havnevej 7, Hellerup, DK
Client: Experimentarium
Area: Approximately 30.000 m2 modernization and extension
Program: Center for Natural Science and Technology
Competition Year: 2011
Completion Year: 2015


After placing first in the design competition to transform an old mineral water bottling plant into a Science Center, CEBRA will move forward with the adapted proposal upon receipt of a substantial donation from the The A.P. Møller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller Foundation.     The  original building will be restored to serve as an interactive national center for science, technology and culture and house the Experimentarium’s diverse exhibition and education activities for the neighboring communities.  CEBRA’s solution of layering a new expression on the historic entity brings science to the forefront while acknowledging contextual cues that create links back to its surroundings.

More about the project after the break.

Via Verde Officially Opens

© Phipps, Rose, Dattner, Grimshaw

Via Verde, Grimshaw Architects and Dattner Architects‘ sustainable housing development for the South Bronx, is officially open. At the ribbon cutting ceremony in front of 700 Brook Avenue and East 156th Street, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, along with the leaders of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, largely praised the team’s commitment to revitalize a once blighted South Bronx neighborhood.  ”No one would have predicted that today there would one day be one of the most innovative, exciting, environmentally sustainable affordable housing developments in the nation – if not the world. The change that has swept through the South Bronx in the last decade challenges the very notions of what is and isn’t possible in urban revival. And investment in high-quality affordable housing – made possible by partnerships like the one behind – has been the catalyst,” explained the Mayor.  Located on a formerly contaminated industrial site, the eco-friendly housing development will provide hundreds with a healthy haven to enjoy fresh air and sunlight, natural food production, and outdoor play.

More about Via Verde’s opening after the break. 

World Horticultural Expo Pavilion / UNStudio + !Melk

©

Architect: UNStudio
Landscape Architect: !Melk Landscape Architecture
Location: Qingdao,
Client: Office of 2014 Qingdao World Horticultural Expo Executive Committee
Building site: 35.000m2
Program: Main Expo Pavilion with integrated Landscape Design
Status: Awarded Competition 

For the International Horticultural Expo 2011 in Xi’an, we followed the design, construction and completion of Plasma Studio’s geometric design that extended from the grounds into the water.  Currently, Qingdao, a major city in the Shandong province of Eastern China, is preparing for the 2014 Expo under the thematic notion “Let life walk into nature.”  The event, which will be held from April through October, will feature  three different pavilions (a theme pavilion, plant pavilion and garden culture center) and seven different themed areas that will display local horticulture and allow visitors to experience international gardens, such as displays from Europe, America and Oceania.   The focal point of the Expo will be marked by a 28,000 m2 thematic pavilion designed by UNStudio and !Melk Landscape Architecture.  The design focuses on the relationship between Science and Nature, using scientific achievement as a source of inspiration to “communicate the essential generative and structural principles of nature through architectural gesture,” explained the firm.

More about the pavilion after the break.

Official Opening for Trollstigen National Tourist Route / RRA

Viewpoint /

Tomorrow, June 16th, marks the official opening of Reiulf Ramstad Architects‘ National Tourist Route project.  Back in 2004, the Norwegian firm placed first in an invited competition to design a viewing platform extending from the Trollstigen mountain plateau and an information center.  After eight years spent designing and constructing the vision, an official opening will be hosted by ’s Transport and Communications Minister Magnhild Meltveit on the plateau.  The national celebration also marks the 75th anniversary of the famous Trollstigvegen (the mountain was renamed as a marketing strategy years ago when tourism activity levels were rising).  RRA’s Trollstigen project is just one stop along miles of the Norwegian natural landscape that will promote tourism by bringing people in closer contact with the country’s beautiful backdrop.  The route, which runs between Geiranger and Trollstigen, provides rare driving experiences as people pass high mountains and deep fjords, with narrow ledges and small shorelines.   By developing this stretch, more will be able to enjoy such an experience.

Please view our previous coverage for more on the project which was voted ArchDaily’s Building of the Year for public facilities in 2009.

GWELL / JDS

© JDS

Architects: JDS; Partners in Charge Henning Stüben, Julien De Smedt
Location: Gangnam Bogeumjari District in ,
Client: Shinyoung
Collaborators: Junglim Architects
Area: 38,000 m2
Budget: 33 million euros
Project Leader: Heechan Park
Team: Byeongmoo Moo, Francisco Villeda, Amanda Ripoll, Chris Zhongtian Yuan, Marvin Philipp, Mathilde Claus
Construction: Autumn 2012

JDS has been commissioned to design a hybrid office and hotel, the Officetel Building, for the new development area of Gangnam Bogeumjari District in Seoul, South Korea.  The interesting mixed program, which includes retail, amenities and 700 compact living spaces, has resulted in a textured facade that responds to contextual issues such as sight lines and expose to natural light.

More about the project after the break.

Botín Center / Renzo Piano

Botín Center. ©

While all eyes may be locked on the Shard’s latest push toward the sky, Renzo Piano is preparing for his first major Spanish project to officially break ground in about one week in Santander. The Botín Foundation, the largest private foundation in Spain, will invest over 150 million USD for the construction and programming of a new Botín Center that will become an international reference in culture and education for the development of creativity through art. The building will inform a new cultural axis to connect the best art circuits in Europe and will serve as a cultural catalyst to bridge the community with art.  Emilio Botín, President of the Botín Foundation, is confident the Center will establish a new community space and link the city with the bay.  ”To accomplish it, we have called on the best architect in the world. The architect, who best knows how to link cities to the sea, to build urban spaces, and to generate magical places where art may be enjoyed,” explained Botín.

More about the project after the break. 

Stockholm Stacked / Visiondivision

©

Our friends from Visiondivision have envisioned a creative solution to respond to ’s lack of housing.  While the city is growing rapidly, the pace of new construction for residences is quickly falling behind demand.  Due to this lack of housing, the core of has grown to be defined by expensive apartments, while the outer edges for those who can’t afford such prices.  For Stacked, Visiondivision responds to this segregated city by proposing a change in planning regulations to eliminate height restrictions on courtyard typologies, so as to utilize the urban spaces for efficiently and effectively.   After all, “Who wants to move to a city where it is impossible to get an apartment? Which companies wants to invest in a city where their employees may have a hard time to find a place to stay? Which exchange students wants to study in a city where all the free time available will go to find a small flat with a decent rent?” asks the firm.

More about the project after the break.

CEBRA wins Day Care Center

wins day-care and after-school center

Our friends from CEBRA will team with Tækker and Grassat to design the Prinsesse Charlottes Gade 42 day care and after-school center in .   The project will convert two existing preservation-worthy buildings from 1875 into a day care center complete with outdoor areas for approximately 225 children. CEBRA has a strong portfolio of educational design  - some of our favorites include the  Youth Recreation & Culture Center designed with Dorte Mandrup; Design KindergartenEgmont High School and the Kristiansand Cathedral School Gimle - so we are looking forward to what this design process will bring about.   As the project unfolds, we will keep you informed with the latest.