When Renzo Piano’s addition to the Kimbell opened in late 2013, critical responses ranged from “both architects at the top of their games” (Witold Rybczynski) to “generous to a fault” (Mark Lamster) to “distant defacement” (Thomas de Monchaux). In this excerpt from a special issue of Cite: The Architecture + Design Review of Houston, Ronnie Self gives a deeply considered assessment of the two buildings after a full turn of the seasons. The special issue also includes a review by Christopher Hawthorne of Johnston Marklee’s plans for the Menil Drawing Institute, a review by David Heymann of Steven Holl’s expansion of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and an essay by Walter Hood and Carmen Taylor about Project Row Houses. Also featured are interviews of the directors of all four museums and their architects (Piano, Holl, Johnston Marklee, David Chipperfield, and Rice Building Workshop), making for a very comprehensive issue.
Piano’s main task was to respond appropriately to Kahn’s building which he achieved through alignments in plan and elevation and by dividing his project into two major bodies: a concrete walled, glass roofed pavilion facing Kahn and a separate, sod-roofed structure behind that should integrate a significant portion of the project with the landscape and thereby lessen its overall impact. Still, the loss of the open lawn that existed in front of the Kimbell where Piano’s building now stands is regrettable. Kahn’s Kimbell was conceived as a large house or a villa in a park, and unlike much of the abundant open and green space in the Fort Worth Cultural District, that park was actually used. Piano’s new outdoor space is more like a courtyard – more contained and more formal. It is more urban in its design, yet less public in its use.
Aside from lamenting the loss of the open lawn, how might we judge the addition?
Architects: Nicolás Pinto da Mota, Victoria María Falcón
Location: Soriano, Uruguay
Area: 160.0 sqm
Photographs: Courtesy of Nicolás Pinto da Mota, Courtesy of Eduardo Moras
A new pool has just opened in the heart of London’s King’s Cross. In the centre of one of the city’s largest mixed-use development projects Ooze Architects, in collaboration with artist Marjetica Potrc, have developed and realised “the UK’s first man-made fresh water public bathing pond” as a piece of and art. The oblong pool is forty metres long, built two metres above ground level, and is surrounded by “pioneer plants, wild flowers grasses, and bushes so that the environment evolves as the seasons change.” It will be purified through “a natural closed-loop process, using wetland and submerged water plants to filter and sustain clean and clear water.”
With the opening of their Fondazione Prada building in Milan at the start of this month, OMA got the chance to show off a skill that they don’t get the chance to use very often: preservation. In this interview with Kultur Spiegel, Rem Koolhaas talks at length on the topic, explaining that he believes “we have to preserve history,” not just architecture, and arguing that the rise in popularity of reusing old buildings comes from a shift toward comfort, security and sustainability over the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity. “The dimensions and repertoire of what is worthy of preserving have expanded dramatically,” he says, meaning that “we shouldn’t tear down buildings that are still usable.” Still, he says, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t tear down and start again in some cases - an entire Parisian district beyond La Défense, for example. Read the full interview here.
The Copper Development Association (CDA) has announced its selections for the 2015 North American Copper in Architecture Awards (NACIA), now in their eighth year. The awards celebrate stellar projects that incorporate copper in their designs. The 12 award-winning works span three categories and include educational, residential and healthcare buildings in addition to historic landmarks.
Winners were selected by a panel of industry professionals based on their overall design, incorporation and treatment of copper, and distinction in either innovation or historic restoration.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Africa Union of Architects (AUA) has signed a cooperative agreement to “share practice tools and resources, creating a framework for American and African architects to work collaboratively in achieving development and infrastructure goals in Africa.” The agreement articulates their mutual interests to advance the “Africa Sustainability Campaign” in spirit of the 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington DC.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to reinvigorate and formalize the AIA’s relationship with our colleagues in Africa,” said AIA 2015 President, Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA. “We look forward to increased knowledge sharing on topics such as health and resilience which are critical to the sustainable future of our planet.”
“It’s amazing how resilient our society is, and that resiliency includes architecture. It’s resilient in terms of the society, it’s resilient economically, and that’s a really good thing.”
In this installment of Arbuckle Industries’ Archiculture interviews, architect, educator, and Morphosis Architects founder Thom Mayne discusses the underpinnings of the architecture world. Starting from what he sees as architecture’s under-representation in the public consciousness, he touches on the cycle of planned obsolescence in the built environment and its consequential dynamics, provides his perspective on architects’ responsibilities, and explains where he believes the future of architecture is headed thanks to a new generation of politically engaged students. Mayne also argues that clarifying the role of cultural forces on architecture could broaden the public’s acceptance of designs: “look at the Lunar landing module, is that a beautiful thing or an ugly thing?” Mayne asks. “If you really admire what it did… you find it interesting, you find it beautiful because you understand it in context.”
Architects: Benthem Crouwel Architects
Location: ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands
Design Team: Mels Crouwel, Job Schroën, Marleen van Driel, Moon Brader, Carel Weber, Volker Krenz, Sergio Bostdorp, Ronno Stegeman
Area: 2500.0 sqm
Photographs: Jannes Linders
For the next year, visitors at New York’s Brooklyn Bridge Park will have the chance to interact with “Please Touch the Art”, an exhibition of works by Danish artist Jeppe Hein. Playful, inventive, and immediately striking, Hein’s work engages audiences as “active participants,” inviting spontaneity and user interaction. Curated by Nicholas Baume, the exhibition contains three bodies of work by Hein: the soaring water jets of Appearing Rooms, the sixteen bright red benches of Modified Social Benches, and the reflective vertical planks of Mirror Labyrinth NY.
Learn more about the Mirror Labyrinth NY installation and view selected images after the break.