The New York Public Library has a plan to save millions of dollars, improve efficiency, and reverse the cutbacks that have been plaguing it. How? By sending little-used resources off-site (after all, most people use the library for its online resources these days), the Library will consolidate three libraries into one Mid-Manhattan branch, renovating the building with a streamlined, efficient design – courtesy of Foster + Partners - to create “the largest combined research and circulating library in the country.”
It sounds like a wonderful, modern solution. Ms. Ada Louise Huxtable would beg to differ.
The former New York Times architecture critic and current critic for the Wall Street Journal has come out swinging against the plan. First, she builds on the critique that others have made, that by moving volumes off-site (to New Jersey, or “Siberia, as she puts it) to make room for more modern amenities, the library will devalue its primary purpose (making resources readily accessible). To put it another way, as Scott Sherman did in his article for The Nation, it would turn the library into “a glorified internet café.” Then, Huxtable makes her own argument: that removing the current, intricate system of stacks would be an enormously complex, expensive, and hopelessly misguided structural challenge.
But, ultimately Ms. Huxtable’s argument comes down to the intrinsic architectural and cultural value of this Beaux Arts Masterpiece: “You don’t “update” a masterpiece.”
More on the Ms. Huxtable incendiary critique of The New York Public Library’s Central Plan, after the break…
Take a moment to look back on all our Niemeyer coverage, and remember the man who truly saw architecture as a higher calling. As Neimeyer once said: ”The architect’s role is to fight for a better world, where he can produce an architecture that serves everyone and not just a group of privileged people.”
- Quotes by Oscar Niemeyer
- Tribute to Oscar Niemeyer – by Lord Norman Foster
- Films & Architecture: “Oscar Niemeyer – Life is a Breath of Air”
- The Construction of Brasilia, Photos by Marcel Gautherot
- The works of Oscar Niemeyer, Photographed by Patricia Parinejad
- Oscar Niemeyer’s Complete Works
- Oscar Niemeyer, My Dear Old Friend – by Bossa Nova legend Vinicius de Moraes
- AD Interviews: Oscar Niemeyer
- Infographic: Oscar Niemeyer’s timeline
- Video: Niemeyer Cultural Center
- Niemeyer’s Sambadrome
- Cathedral of Brasilia by Oscar Niemeyer
- “Tranquilo com a vida”, listen to song composed Oscar Niemeyer
With more than 25 years of AIA participation and holding many leadership roles, Mickey Jacob, FAIA, managing principal at Urban Studio Architects in Tampa, Florida since 1989, was inaugurated as the 89th president of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The announcement was made during ceremonies held on December 7th at the Ronald Regan Building and International Trade Center. He succeeds Jeff Potter, FAIA, in representing over 80,000 AIA members. A native of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, Jacob graduated from the University of Detroit in 1981 and began practicing in Tampa, Florida where he was licensed in 1986. More information after the break. (more…)
Nearly 50 years have passed since his death, but Le Corbusier can still make waves in the design world.
Corbu has become the talk of the Design Miami showrooms. Not only has a 1:1 model of Le Corbusier’s 1952 seaside villa, the Cabanon, been one of the most popular exhibits at the show (by Italian furniture company Poltrona Frau and the Le Corbusier Foundation), but another Corbu exhibit has also been one of the most hotly-contested.
Event-goers have cried foul at the Galerie Patrick Seguin, a gallery that sold chairs, tables, and sofas from Corbu’s government complex in Chandigarh (the Indian city Corbu helped design and plan) as part of its exhibition. While the gallery claims all the furniture (designed by Corbu and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret) had been neglected in India and now rescued, scholars are less than pleased that the furniture pieces have been removed from their intended buildings. As one scholar, Jean-Louis Cohen, an architectural historian and a curator for MOMA, told Architecture Record, “I’m revolted.”
Story via Architecture Record.
In November, the 6 shortlisted firms for the Flinders Street Station competition each received a letter. The letter, written by Major Projects Victoria, a division of the Victoria city government, warned them of a certain act that would not only result in their disqualification, but would also bring the entire competition into “disrepute.”
What potential act could deserve such a warning? Attending an exhibit of the rejected design entries.
On November 22nd, Fitzroy-based architecture firm Edwards Moore organized the “Long-Listers” exhibit to build on the public excitement for the competition, using the momentum to generate more conversation and debate about the project. As architect and organiser Juliet Moore put it: ”We wanted peer collaboration . . . too often these things are done behind closed doors. By the time the designs are revealed [a year later] the moment has passed.”
More after the break…
Images of the transformation of the Shell Centre Campus, which include 8 towers to be designed by six different architects in London’s South Bank, have been released and submitted for approval by the local authority, Lambeth Council.
The project, under a Masterplan by Squire and Partners and co-developed by Canary Wharf Group and Qatari Diar, is a 5.25-acre mixed-use scheme between Waterloo Station and Hungerford Bridge. While the famous 27-story Shell Tower will be preserved, the plans show eight new residential and office buildings will be constructed by six architectural firms: an office and two residential towers by Squire and Partners, one office tower by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF); a residential block by Patel Taylor; another by Stanton Williams; and two more residential towers by GRID Architects.
In total, about 800,000 sq ft of office space (which includes the existing Shell Tower), 800,000 sq ft of residential space (translating to 790 new homes, including affordable housing), and 80,000 sq ft of new retail units/restaurants/cafés will be created. As Michael Squire of Squire and Partners told The Architect’s Journal: “We make no apology, this is a dense development, it sits next to one of the busiest train stations in Europe. This is a massive sustainable move that will allow people to live and work in the same area.”
More on the proposed plan for London’s South Bank, after the break…
After two years in waiting, Porta Volta, the project by Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron to redevelop Milan’s north-western Spanish gate, has finally broken ground. The project, which spurred some controversy when architect and critic Vittorio Gregotti accused the Swiss-led project of being an act of “architectural colonialism,” is nevertheless scheduled to be completed in 2015.
According to Herzog, the 2,500 sqm project, which consists of Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli’s 7,500 sqm Headquarters and 15,000 sqm of greenery, is “intrinsically” Milanese, having been inspired by “the Gothic tradition that is expressed in important buildings in the city of Milan [and the] farms that dot the landscape of slender Lombardy.”
Story via Herzog & de Meuron
The MAXXI Museum in Rome has announced the five young designers who will compete for the opportunity to design and build a space for live summer events in the large courtyard of the MoMA PS1 in NY, the MAXXI Plaza in Rome, and – for the first time – at Turkey’s Istanbul Modern.
Each of the finalist’s projects will also be displayed as exhibitions at the four institutions participating in the Young Architects Program (YAP): the MAXXI, the MoMA PS1, Constructo (a Chilean cultural institution), and Istanbul Modern.
The five finalists have until January 2013 to submit their proposals. The chosen project will be constructed and inaugurated in June.
More information of the five finalists, after the break…
International architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) recently announced that their design for the 120 million square foot master plan for Meixi Lake in Changsha, China is being realized. A new city in the West Changsha Pioneer Zone in Hunan Province, Meixi Lake is centered around a 3.85 kilometer‐long lake. Upon completion, the city will be home to 180,000 inhabitants, and will provide residents, workers and visitors sustainable neighborhoods for living, working, recreation, culture and entertainment. More images and architects’ press release after the break. (more…)
The first prize in the DesignByMany competition for the Bus Shelter challenge was recently awarded to Milos Todorovic for his AdaptByMany proposal. By adapting to local conditions, transferring aesthetic ideas to users, and putting functionality as its primary role, this proposal stood out. According to Glenn Katz, one of the DesignByMany judges and an AEC Education Specialist at Autodesk, the proposal was chosen for “its simplicity, [...and for] providing a rich kit of parts and elements that can be combined in interesting and flexible ways to create any number forms responding to site conditions.” More images and Todorovic’s description after the break. (more…)
Earlier this week, Architect Robert K. Levy optimistically declared that the study which will evaluate the federal law limiting Washington building heights is a “win-win” situation for everyone involved. Writing for The Washington Post, Levy states: “By conducting a detailed, comprehensive city-wide study, the D.C. Office of Planning and the NCPC [National Capital Planning Commission] will produce analyses and recommendations leading to a fine-grain, strategic plan for building heights across the District. [...] Ultimately this study is a win-win proposition for all stakeholders.”
But can the situation really be so rosy? While Congress spends 10 months studying and debating the possibility of making alterations to the capital’s zoning policies, urbanists, planners and citizens have already begun weighing in on the matter – and opinions are decidedly divided. Many question the true motivations behind the possible changes, and whether those changes will truly improve the livability and sustainability of the city - or just alter it beyond recognition.
We’ve gathered both sides of the argument so you can make your own informed decision – after the break…
As we shared with you earlier last month, Danish architectural firm, CEBRA, in partnership with Ski Travel Agency Danski, is working on a new project of epic proportions: the world’s largest Skidome. Skidome Denmark will be shaped rather like a snow-flake, with three 700m, criss-crossing arches (the tallest one reaching 110 m high). While a structure that size is hard to wrap one’s head around, this cool new video gives a great idea of the Skidome’s awesome scale.
More info and images of the World’s Largest Skidome, after the break…
The GSA has announced that Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill have been selected as the architects of the new Los Angeles Federal Courthouse, which will house the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, and the U.S. Marshals Service. The architects beat out 3 other shortlisted teams to win the $318 million project.
According to the GSA, ”The new 550,000-square-foot building will be a sustainable, cost-effective, state-of-the-art court facility that includes security upgrades that are not available in the current 312 North Spring Street courthouse.”
The site, located at 107 South Broadway (down the street from Morphosis’ Caltrans building, LA’s City Hall, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall) has been dormant since 2007; although a $1.1 billion design by Perkins + Will was selected soon after, it was abandoned when Congress slashed the GSA’s construction budget. The GSA considers the approval of the new redevelopment plan a “major milestone.”
More info and images, after the break…
The Melnikov House, the unusual, cylindrical classic of Constructivism which was Konstantin Melnikov’s residence and studio, is on the brink of collapse.
The Independent reports that nearby construction (which visibly moves the ground the building sits on) has weakened the 83-year-old foundations dangerously. Konstantin Melnikov’s grand-daughter (and current resident of the house), Ekaterina Karinskaya, further told The Independent that, due to broken heating pipes, the wooden house spent more than 50 days without heating in what were often sub-zero temperatures.
Although there have been interests expressed to turn the house into a museum, a tense legal debate between Ms. Karinskaya and a developer has put any plans on stand-still. Meanwhile, time is running out for the architectural icon.
More on the Melnikov House debate, after the break…
While known as the extraordinary city which Niemeyer built, Brasilia is not without its problems. As a recent BBC article noted, while Niemeyer’s architecture is certainly appreciated by its residents, the city itself (designed for the car) lacks a human-scale, mixed neighborhoods, and the vibrant street life which so defines Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo. The city is in need of a face-lift, but who should be responsible for Brasilia’s new face?
Well, if the debates and arguments at the XXIV Pan American Congress of Architects (XXIV CPA), which took place this November, are anything to go by, it certainly should not be those who have just been given the job.
Brasilia’s Government has contracted consulting company Jurong, based in Singapore, with designing a new Masterplan known as “Brasilia Plan 2060.” The move, which was taken with no outside participation or input, was criticized (loudly) – not only by Brazilian architects and urban planners, but by the majority of American and European professionals present at the XXIV CPA.
More details on this controversial move, after the break…
Swiss architecture practice, Boltshauser Architekten, recently won an international competition to design a new aquarium in the center of Basel, Switzerland. Their concept, titled ‘Seacliff’, was noted by jury members as being the best match for the public image cultivated by the Basel Zoo. The above-ground building space proposed by Boltshauser was smaller than any of the other competition entries, offering the best solution from an urban development perspective. Beating out such prominent firms as Zaha Hadid Architects, David Chipperfield Architects, and Caruso St John Architects, Boltshauser’s winning project is due for completion in 2019 with an estimated cost of £54 million. More images and information after the break. (more…)
Sure, you could just go for the old, reliable “black turtleneck” again this year, but where’s the fun in that? This year, why not get the Architects in your life a gift we know they’ll love? We’ve culled the “For Architects” page of our Pinterest to bring you the 12 pinned products – from a Geodesic Dome tent to LEGO Architecture – that are guaranteed to please (plus, we’ve added an extra 2 goodies to treat yourself too). See them all, after the break…
Australian firm HASSELL Studio, OMA and Populous have been announced as the winners for the redevelopment of Sydney’s new convention, exhibition and entertainment precinct (SICEEP) at Darling Harbour.
The 20-hectare, billion dollar project, which will stretch from Cockle Bay to Haymarket and Ultimo, will include Australia’s largest convention and exhibition facilities, Sydney’s largest red carpet entertainment venue, a hotel complex with up to 900 rooms, and a new urban neighborhood in Haymarket.
More on this project, after the break…