AD Interviews: Charles Renfro

DS+R (Diller Scofidio + Renfro) is one of the most acclaimed architecture practices of these days. The firm was started by Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio back in 1979, and they were later joined by as a partner in 2004.

In the past years the firm has been involved in several cultural projects, including the Blur Building at the Swiss Expo 2002, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Julliard School, the Alice Tully Hall and the Hypar Pavilion at Lincoln Center in New York and the Center for the Creative Arts at Brown University. They are also currently working on the Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, the Broad Museum in Los Angeles, the Museum of Image & Audio in Rio de Janeiro, the Columbia Medical Building and Business School in New York… and the list just keeps growing.

But for sure one of their most important projects has been The Highline, together with James Corner / Field Operations. This urban regeneration project has not only changed Manhattan, but also inspired cities around the world to understand their hidden value. This project is currently on its third stage, which includes a multi-use venue designed by DS+R, the Culture Shed.

In all these projects, there is a common denominator between private/public space relationships, as discussed with Charles Renfro in this interview. In this conversation you will also learn about a very important aspect of the firm’s work, one that is very hard to transmit in traditional architecture media or even on the web: the experience. The art and performance projects that the firm has been doing since its beginning has added a particular layer to their built work. After you see their installations (and the effect they create in people), and then go back to their built projects, you start to see them as a series of situations where users are not static, but part of this performance.

Take for example the sunken auditorium at the Highline, a place that is meant to be seen by the cars driving below, who get a glimpse of the active urban life above. Or the hanging media center at the ICA, that uses the sea as a facade. Or The Art of Scent exhibit at the MAD Museum, where they exhibit the intangible. Or at the Blur Building, where you enter into a cloud.

DS+R’s work is very clear and bold at first glance, but with many underlaying moments and situations that reflect the careful design of each project.

Thanks to UNIACC Architecture School for making this interview possible. Projects by DS+R at ArchDaily:

Does the Cost of Architectural Education Create a Barrier to the Profession?

© Rory MacLeod

A recent report by the Architectural Education Review Group has highlighted the high cost of education as a barrier which prevents less wealthy students from accessing the profession, reveals BDonline. Among a number of concerns raised about the current state of architectural education, it says that the cost to study architecture in the UK could “create an artificial barrier to the profession based solely on a student’s willingness to accept high levels of personal debt”.

Architecture has long been seen as a pastime of the wealthy, as evidenced by Philip Johnson‘s claim that “the first rule of architecture is be born rich, the second rule is, failing that, to marry wealthy”. However, the report acknowledges the fact that making the profession open to people of all backgrounds is not only a moral imperative, but will be vital to bring the best talent into the field.

Read more about the barriers surrounding the profession of architecture after the break…

Tent House / Nómena Arquitectos

© Juan Solano

Architects: Nómena Arquitectos
Location: Cañete, Lima,
Architect In Charge: Nómena
Design Team: Talía Valdéz
Area: 27,825 sqm
Photographs: Juan Solano

Penn Station, Re-Imagined

Courtesy of SHoP

UPDATED: This morning, four architectural firms, invited by the Municipal Art Society(), displayed how they would transform New York’s darkest & dingiest hub – Penn Station – into a space worthy of its site in the heart of the city.

New Yorkers have been up in arms about Penn Station ever since its Beaux-Arts predecessor, designed by McKim, Mead & White, was demolished in 1963. Its replacement is a dark, cramped station that lacks both the operational and security features it needs to sustain the hundreds of thousands of travelers who use it daily. As Michael Kimmelman put it in his inaugural piece as architecture editor for The New York Times: “To pass through Grand Central Terminal, one of New York’s exalted public spaces, is an ennobling experience, a gift. To commute via the bowels of Penn Station, just a few blocks away, is a humiliation.”

As we reported last month,Madison Square Garden’s (MSG) 50-year permit expires this year, and it will be either renewed without limit, or extended 10-15 years, by The New York City Council in the coming months. The problem, according to MAS, is that “MSG happens to sit on top of the busiest train station in North America [a.k.a, Penn Station] and constrains its ability to serve over half a million people every day. [...] 2013 presents New York City with a truly unique opportunity and together we need to seize this moment.”

And so MAS invited Diller, Sofidio, & Renfro; ; SHoP; Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill, to do just that. See their visions, after the break…

Video: Future Focus

We poll some of the best and brightest in the design world about one hot topic…

With special thanks to BE OPEN.

Folm Arts / Tsubasa Iwahashi Architects

© Yoshiro Masuda

Architects: Tsubasa Iwahashi Architects
Location: Sakai, Osaka,
Architect In Charge:
Area: 55 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Yoshiro Masuda

Changbaishan Exhibition Hall Winning Proposal / ZNA

Courtesy of

ZNA / Zeybekoglu Nayman Associates just won the competition to design the Changbaishan Hall in Jilin, China. The center is centered on the functions of displaying, negotiation & reception and signing, and also has the advanced function of conducting activities, business & leisure, etc. as well as the indispensable supporting functions of office, storage and finance, etc. The construction of their project skillfully uses Jilin cultural elements, pursuing energy conservation and environmental protection and adhering to the principles of low construction energy consumption & durable construction. More images and architects’ description after the break.

Kindergarten Aying / Allmann Sattler Wappner Architekten

Courtesy of Allmann Sattler Wappner

Architects: Allmann Sattler Wappner Architekten
Location: Glonner Straße 17, 85653 , Germany
Architect In Charge: Allmann Sattler Wappner
Supporting Structural Planning: Martin Augenstein
Building Services: Zickler, Jakob Planungen GmbH, Co KG
Landscape Designers: Keller Landschafts
Area: 1285.0 sqm
Year: 2008
Photographs: Courtesy of Allmann Sattler Wappner

Living Architectures: Pomerol, Herzog & de Meuron / Ila Bêka & Louise Lemoine

Second project of the Living Architectures series, Pomerol, Herzog & de Meuron takes us to the party atmosphere of mealtime among the grape-pickers in the dining hall designed by Herzog & de Meuron in Pomerol for one of the most prestigious vineyards in the world.

House in Nagahama / comma design office

© Takumi Ota

Architects: comma design office
Location: Shiga,
Architects Member: Atshuhiro Koda, Momo Sano
Area: 132.58 sqm
Year: 2012
Photographs: Takumi Ota, Courtesy of comma design office

Courtesy of Seoul Institute
Courtesy of Seoul Institute

Changing the Mapo Oil Reserve Base Competition

Open to students and professionals, the Seoul Metropolitan Government just launched the international ideas competition for the first step to changing the Mapo Oil Reserve Base, a relic of the industrial era. Located in Sangam, this area was once an abandoned mountain of waste,…

Brunnenstrasse 9 / Brandlhuber

© Nathan Willock

Architects: Brandlhuber
Location: Brunnenstraße 9, 10119 Berlin,
Project Architect: Thomas Banek, Silvia Farris, Christian Geisser, Tobias Hönig, Andrjana Ivanda, Katharina Janowski, Chrissie Muhr, Jan Winterstein
Area: 1353.0 sqm
Year: 2010
Photographs: Nathan Willock, Michael Reisch, Courtesy of Brandlhuber+ Emde, ERA, Schneider

© Takuji Shimmura
© Takuji Shimmura

‘Frozen Time’ Installation / Dorell.Ghotmeh.Tane / Architects

Dorell.Ghotmeh.Tane / Architects… recently completed their ’Frozen Time’ Installation for a Japanese watch brand CITIZEN in Baselworld which is the largest watch and jewel industry exhibition in the world. This year, the main exhibition hall was fully renewed, therefore all the brands are intended to express

‘ex.terra’: MOMA PS1 Rockaway Call for Ideas Winning Proposal / AN.ONYMOUS

Courtesy of

Designed by AN.ONYMOUS, their ”ex.terra” proposal was chosen as one of the winners in the MOMA PS1 Rockaway competition. Their design proposes the creation of a new ground, which serves as an infrastructural network. The structure, elevated 10-15m meters above the current sea level, connects to the existing subway line, bridges and roads in the . The geometry of the new structure, as an anamorphic grid, creates a structural system which is able to resist and at the same time capture the energy of the wind and the water. The city is then plugged into this infrastructure with designated blocks for different use. More images and architects’ description after the break.

Domäne Hildesheim / agn Niederberghaus & Partner GmbH

© Olaf Mahlstedt

Architects: agn Niederberghaus & Partner GmbH
Location: Hildesheim,
Project Manager: T. Pesch
Area: 6370.0 sqm
Year: 2012
Photographs: Olaf Mahlstedt, Andreas Hartmann

5th Avenue Camper Store / Nendo

© Jesse Goff

Architects: Nendo
Location: 522 5th Avenue, , NY 10036,
Year: 2013
Photographs: Jesse Goff

Courtesy of Andjela Karabasevic
Courtesy of Andjela Karabasevic

‘One Home For All the Homeless’ Competition Entry / Andjela Karabasevic

Andjela Karabasevic…‘s ’One Home For All the Homeless’ proposal for this year’s D3 Housing Tomorrow 2013 competition won the Special mention – Dystopian vision which envisions one megastructure  that will house all the homeless people on our planet. It spreads continuously through the

DEC 100 Housing / Urban Platform

Courtesy of

Architects: Urban Platform
Location: , Belgium
Area: 3280.0 sqm
Year: 2006
Photographs: Courtesy of Urban Platform