Happy Birthday Jørn Utzon

Jørn Utzon in front of the Opera House during construction, 1965. Image Courtesy of Keystone/Getty Images

Pritzker Prize winning architect Jørn Utzon, who died in 2008 aged 90, was the relatively unknown Dane who, on the 29th January 1957, was announced as the winner of the ‘International competition for a national opera house at Bennelong Point, Sydney’. When speaking about this iconic building, Louis Kahn stated that:

The sun did not know how beautiful its light was, until it was reflected off this building.

Unfortunately, Utzon never saw the Sydney Opera House, his most popular work, completed. Learn of his fascinating story, after the break.

SANE Architecture’s Taichung City Cultural Centre: Entry in the Future Project Awards 2014

Terrace View. Image Courtesy of

SANE architecture, an experimental studio based in Paris, have recently been recognised in the MIPIM Architectural Review Future Project Awards 2014 for the Taichung City Centre. The practice, who focus on “researching the Sane and the Insane in architecture”, were tasked with imagining an architecture and an urban space unique to Taiwan’s climate and the culture of Taichung, a cultural library and municipal arts museum that “synergizes” art, education and recreation.

Tham & Videgård Design New Building for Denmark’s Krabbesholm Højskole School of Art & Design

Exterior View. Image Courtesy of Tham & Videgård Arkitekter

Recently awarded first place in an invited competition, Tham & Videgård’s (T&V) design for a new addition to the Krabbesholm Højskole School of Art & Design in Skive, Denmark, uses a combination of thick brick walls and barrel arched roofs to establish a strong connection to the character and spatial qualities of the existing buildings – the Four Boxes Gallery by Japanese Atelier Bow‐Wow, and a collection of new studio buildings by ‐based MOS Architects.

Competition Entry: Moscow’s National Centre for Contemporary Arts / WAI Think Tank

Light Performance. Image Courtesy of WAI Think Tank

Reaching the second stage of the international competition to design Russia’s National Centre for Contemporary Arts (NCCA)which was won by Heneghan Peng Architects, WAI Think Tank put forth a proposal that projects the NCCA as not just a center “for the creation, study, and support of contemporary art in ” but also “a building as manifesto.” WAI Think Tank focused on giving a flexible autonomy to the enclosed and external spaces, designing the galleries as extensions of the city, in an attempt to design “the first archetype of Museum as City.”

Herzog & de Meuron to Design the National Library of Israel

Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron

After carefully considering six international architecture firms – Ammar Curiel; Frank Gehry; Herzog & de Meuron; Kimmel Eshkolot, Kolker Kolker Epstein and – an esteemed selection committee has chosen Herzog & de Meuron to design the new National Library of Israel in . The result comes after a controversial first attempt that ended in the dismissal of the initial competition winner for alleged copyright infringement.

More information after the break…

City Council Approves Redevelopment of NYC’s Historic Pier 57

Courtesy of Young Woo & Associates

’s City Council have unanimously backed a proposed plan to restore and redevelop the aging giant that is Pier 57. Built in 1952, the 300,000 square foot pier was hailed by Popular Mechanics as a ‘SuperPier’ for its vast size and unconventional construction, as most of the pier’s weight is supported by ‘floating’ air-filled concrete cassions. The pier was originally used as a bus depot by the New York City Transit Authority, however it has been lying vacant since 2003. The latest decision brings a concrete end to years of speculation as to what the fate of the pier would be.

Read more about the proposal after the break…

Russia’s Historic Mariinsky Theatre to Celebrate Grand Opening of Mariinsky II

©

On May 2, Russia’s preeminent Mariinsky Theatre will celebrate the grand opening of a new, 851,575 square foot addition on a neighboring site, just west of the company’s original 1860 theatre and 2006 concert hall, in the heart . Designed by Toronto-based Diamond Schmitt Architects, Mariinsky II will be one of the largest theatre and concert venues in the world, providing a 2000-seat auditorium, state-of-the-art production facilities, and naturally lit rehearsal rooms, along with a rooftop amphitheatre and terrace. 

Buckminster Fuller’s 50-Foot “Fly’s Eye” Dome to be Restored

© John Warren

Noted architectural historian and preservationist has purchased the largest of Buckmister Fuller’s ”Fly’s Eye” domes and plans to reopen it to the public this summer for the first time in 30 years.

More on Fuller’s dome and its new owner after the break…

Changsha Meixihu International Culture & Art Centre / Zaha Hadid Architects

Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) have unveiled an ambitious cultural complex, which began to take shape in October after the project broke ground in the heart of , . In true Hadid-fashion, the Meixihu International Culture & Arts Center defines itself by extreme sinuous curves that radiate from each of the three independent structures and links them to a pedestrianized landscape that offers a “strong urban experience”, forming what they hope to be a global destination for theater and art.

The architects’s description after the break…

Vieux Port Pavilion / Foster + Partners

© Nigel Young / Foster + Partners

Saturday in Marseille, France, pedestrians and city officials joined Foster + Partners to celebrate the completion of the Vieux Port Pavilion at the mouth of Marseille’s World Heritage-listed harbor. Minimal, yet effective, this “discreet” intervention provides a new sheltered events space on the eastern edge of the port. With six slender pillars supporting its razor-thin profile, the polished 46 by 22 meter canopy amplifies and reflects the surrounding movement of the harbor, creating a spectacle that encourages pedestrians to linger.

More on Foster’s Vieux Port after the break…

Grottammare Cultural Center / Bernard Tschumi Architects

Courtesy of

This dynamic center in Grottammare, Italy, will be Bernard Tschumi Architects’ first commission in Italy. Inspired by the city’s small medieval center, the roughly 7,000 square meter structure will house a variety of exhibitions, conferences and workshops in an effort to “strengthen people’s ties to the territory with which they identify” by exchanging information about the existing city and envision its possibilities for the future.

The architect’s description after the break…

Diller Scofidio + Renfro Designs Telescopic ‘Culture Shed’ for New York

Courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro and

The expandable multi-use cultural venue dubbed ‘Culture Shed’ is one of the most radical proposals to come out of New York’s Hudson Yards Development Project. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro - the New York-based interdisciplinary practice that played a major role in designing the High Line - in collaboration with the Rockwell Group, this 170,000 square foot cultural center will be located at the south end of the , with the main entrance located near the conclusion of the High Line at West 30th Street.

More information on the Culture Shed after the break…

Renzo Piano Designs a Flat-Pack Auditorium for L’Aquila

© Marco Caselli Nirmal

In April 2009, the central Italian city of L’Aquila was devastated by a crippling earthquake, claiming lives and causing extensive damage to thousands of buildings, including the leveling of the city’s main auditorium venue. Nearing the fourth anniversary of this tragic disaster, the Italian city of Trento has donated a -designed auditorium, which was inaugurated in October, in an effort to aid the reconstruction of this medieval city.

Creating an illusion of instability, the auditorium is formed by three interconnected cubes made entirely of wood (1.165 cubic meters in total) that ironically appears as they had “haphazardly tumbled down” and came to rest upon each . The entire structure was prefabricated and then assembled onsite by Log Engineering, who pieced it together with 800,000 nails, 100,000 screws and 10,000 brackets.

Update: SFMOMA Expansion / Snøhetta

Expansion Aerial Southeast Façade; Courtesy of MIR and Snøhetta

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) has announced further details of its 235,000-square-foot building expansion that will support the museum’s increasing role in city life and the international art community. Designed by Norway-based practice Snøhetta, in collaboration with local firm EHDDthe 10-story concrete structure will compliment SFMOMA’s original, Mario Botta-designed, red-brick museum by offering more free-to-the-public space, expanded education programs and an abundance of flexible performance-based gallery space.

Construction will commence this Summer and is expected to reopen in early 2016.

More after the break…

SFMOMA Expansion Howard St. entrance; Courtesy of MIR and Snøhetta

SFMOMA’s new building will include seven levels dedicated to diverse art experiences and programming spaces, along with three housing enhanced support space for the museum’s operations. It will also offer approximately 130,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor gallery space, as well as nearly 15,000 square feet of art-filled free-access public space, more than doubling SFMOMA’s current capacity for the presentation of art while maintaining a sense of intimacy and connection to the museum’s urban surroundings. notable features include:

A large glass-walled gallery (interior view) on ground level with free public access will beckon passersby on Howard Street; rendering: Courtesy of MIR and Snøhetta
  • A large-scale vertical garden located in a new outdoor sculpture terrace on the third floor, which will be the biggest public living wall of native plants in San Francisco.
  • A versatile, double-height “white box” space on the fourth floor equipped with cutting-edge lighting and sound systems that, in tandem with the museum’s upgraded Phyllis
  • Wattis Theater, will open new doors for SFMOMA’s program of live art, and also improve services for school-group tours, film screenings, and special events.
  • State-of-the-art conservation studios on the seventh and eighth floors that will further SFMOMA’s progressive work in the care and interpretation of its growing collections.
  • An environmentally sensitive approach on track to achieve LEED Gold certification, with 15% energy-cost reduction, 30% water-use reduction, and 20% reduction in wastewater generation.
  • A new outdoor terrace on the seventh floor with incredible city views, further integrating the urban indoor/outdoor experience that SFMOMA began in 2009 with the opening of its current rooftop sculpture garden on the fifth floor.
Versatile “white box” space (interior view) on fourth floor of expanded SFMOMA will create new possibilities for live performance and education programs; rendering: Courtesy of MIR and Snøhetta

At the same time, as previously announced, new public spaces and additional public entrances to the building (on Howard and Minna Streets) are designed to increase access and weave the museum more deeply into the neighborhood. A mid-block, street-level pedestrian promenade will open a new route of circulation in the area, enlivening the side streets and offering a pathway between SFMOMA and the Transbay Transit Center currently under construction two blocks east of the museum. Building on the popularity of the museum’s artist commissions in its admission-free atrium, an expansive free-to-access gallery on the ground floor with 25-foot-high glass walls facing Howard Street will now place art—such as Richard Serra’s enormous walk-in spiral sculpture Sequence (2006)—on view to passersby for the first time. This gallery will also feature stepped seating, offering a resting and gathering point for museum tour groups and neighborhood denizens alike.

Sculpture terrace extending from Howard to Minna Streets will be framed on one side by a vibrant vertical garden; rendering: Courtesy of MIR and Snøhetta

“SFMOMA has had a tremendous impact on the economic and cultural vitality of the South of Market neighborhood and the city,” says San Francisco’s District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim. “Even though this area is one of the city’s oldest, in many ways it’s still the freshest, where much of the most dramatic change is happening. The museum’s expanded home in this cultural center will provide even greater public access and support to emerging and established artists as a hub of creativity and international art destination. I look forward to seeing the district grow and evolve even further as SFMOMA’s future takes shape.”

SFMOMA Expansion Night Aerial from Howard St.; Courtesy of MIR and Snøhetta

News via SFMOMA  

Herzog & de Meuron’s Elbphilharmonie to be Completed by 2017

© Martin Wippel

Sitting idle since November 2011, Herzog & de Meuron’s long-running Elbphilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg, Germany, has left residents wondering when will the music ever begin?

First envisioned back in 2003, the enormous crystalline glass structure stands nearly complete on top a historic warehouse on the edge of the River Elbe. Rising costs, delayed schedules and legal issues with the contractor, have plagued this magnificent concert hall with controversy. However, according a report in the German news magazine Der Spiegel, contractor Hochtief has initiated a new deal to ensure the completion of the building.

A revised contract, which is expect to adjust the architect’s fee’s to €94 million (€17 million over the original project cost), has projected Elbphilharmonie will be completed within the next four years. The news is bittersweet, as the architectural community and the residents of have been waiting years for this highly anticipated concert hall to be complete, yet they cringe at the news of an overblown €575 million price tag.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Aberdeen Garden City Proposal Nixed

Courtesy of DS + R

After winning the Aberdeen City Garden competition in early 2012, Diller, Scofidio + Renfro‘s ‘Granite Web’ design was rejected over the summer in a 22-20 city council vote for being overly expensive. Despite public approval the proposal, which totaled a whopping £140m, was rejected in favor of a collection of more fiscally responsible city projects, such as refurbishing the Aberdeen and redeveloping the site of the St. Nicholas House.

Just recently, the City of Aberdeen announced a £300m city-wide plan of improving roads, schools and cultural buildings, with only £20m allotted for the city center, which will be pedestrianized but not much else. Thus, confirming the “final nail in the coffin“ for DS+R’s ambitious web of lush gardens and cultural landmarks.

Read more after the break…

In Progress: The Biomuseo / Gehry Partners

© Victoria Murillo / Istmophoto.com / Biomuseo

The Puente de Vida Museum, more commonly referred to as The Biomuseo, will be Frank Gehry’s first design in all of Latin America. It is located in Panama in the area called , which sits only a few blocks from the country’s principal cruise port and is adjacent to Panama City. The mission of the Biomuseo is to “offer an impressing and educational experience about the biodiversity and emergence of the isthmus in Panama in order to motivate all Panamanians to get to know and to value this natural component of their identity, as well as to generate in all its visitors the need to protect the environment” (Biomuseo Website). The Biomuseo intends to explore the importance of Panama’s biological systems and its emergence as a geological link between North and South America, both of which have had global impacts many are unaware of.

With these goals in mind, it quickly became clear that the museum design needed to be something very special to attract the international attention its founders desired. They wanted the museum to be a never-before-seen kind of design and to serve as a new architectural icon for Panama, much like the Eiffel Tower does for France or the Tower of Pisa for Italy. With the participation of Gehry Partners as well as the world-renowned architect Edwina von Gal & Company, the Biomuseo began to take form: an extremely unique, Gehry-esque structure surrounded by an open botanical park that complements the exhibits within.

More after the break…

Studio Gang Breaks Ground on Ecologically Diverse Urban Mecca

Courtesy of Studio Gang Architects

For the past several years the Chicago Park District and the City of Chicago have been working on appropriate uses for Northerly Island, a 91-acre man-made peninsula in Chicago, Illinois. The lakefront site branches off from Museum Campus, a section along Lake Michigan that is home to the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and Adler Planetarium. Serving as an expansion to these programs, Studio Gang Architects, in collaboration with SmithGroupJJR, have created an innovative design that integrates educational, cultural, social, and recreational activities into Northerly Island.

Read more about Northerly Island’s future after the break!