The Smithsonian Scraps Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Hirshhorn ‘Bubble’

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After four years of high-brow debate, the demise of the controversial Hirshhorn ‘Bubble’ has been confirmed. The decision, made by Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough and Undersecretary Richard Kurin, comes shortly after the Hirshhorn board’s split vote resulted in the resignation of director Richard Koshalek – the man behind the ‘Bubble’. 

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 Charles Renfro 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 , 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:

Penn Station, Re-Imagined

Courtesy of SHoP

UPDATED: This morning, four architectural firms, invited by the Municipal Art Society(MAS), 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 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 with a truly unique opportunity and together we need to seize this moment.”

And so MAS invited Diller, Sofidio, & Renfro; H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture; SHoP; Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill, to do just that. See their visions, after the break…

MoMA Selects Diller Scofidio + Renfro as Architect of the Folk Art Museum

© Michael Moran

The Museum of Modern Art has commissioned  (DS+R) to design its controversial expansion that will overtake the former American Folk Art Museum in New York. This news comes after an intense backlash from prominent architects, preservationists and critics worldwide pressured to reconsider its decision to raze the iconic, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien-design museum in order to make way for its new expansion.

In response, DS+R has requested that MoMA gives them the “time and latitude to carefully consider the entirety of the site, including the former American Folk Art Museum building, in devising an architectural solution to the inherent challenges of the project,” as stated by Glenn D. Lowry, MoMA’s director, in a memo sent on Thursday to his trustees and staff. He added, “We readily agreed to consider a range of options, and look forward to seeing their results.”

More on the DS+R’s commission and the fate of the Folk Museum after the break…

Lincoln Center Inside Out / Diller Scofidio + Renfro

The redesign of Lincoln Center is one of the most challenging and innovative civic projects in recent urban history. Over the past eight years, (DS+R), in close collaboration with FXFOWLE, and Lincoln Center’s leadership, has transformed the 50-year-old modernist citadel into a porous and democratic campus. This visually rich document is the first comprehensive book to feature the extensive redevelopment in its entirety. Inside-Out, and still Lincoln Center details DS+R’s interpretation of the modernist project after several generations of social and political change. Through a combination of photographs, drawings, renderings, archival records and texts, the book describes the innovative strategies that have dissolved the public/private divide and effectively turned the campus inside-out, extending the spectacle of the performance halls into the Center’s mute public spaces and surrounding streets.

Four Architects Enlisted to Reimagine Penn Station

Penn Station via Wikipedia

In an effort to “unlock people’s imaginations” about Penn Station and Madison Square Garden, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) of New York has challenged Santiago CalatravaDiller Scofidio + Renfro, and to propose four new visions that exemplify the potential of the highly disregarded area. 

The challenge comes amidst a heated debate on whether or not the city should restrict Madison Square’s recently expired special permit to 10 years, rather than in perpetuity as the arena’s owners – the Dolan family – has requested. This would allow time for the city to “get it right” and come up with a viable solution for the arena and station that, as NYTimes critic Michael Kimmelman states, would not only “improve the safety and quality of life for millions of people but also benefit the economy”. Think Kings Cross in London. With a thoughtful mix of public and private investments, the crime-ridden station was transformed into a thriving cultural destination that benefited all parties. 

More after the break…

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

Courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group

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 at West 30th Street.

More information on the Culture Shed after the break…

Video: Diller Scofidio + Renfro talk Hirshhorn “Bubble” on The Creators Project

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The Creators Project released two new documentaries this week which feature the brightest new minds in design and architecture. The first piece investigates the work of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and interdisciplinary design firm behind NYC’s and Lincoln Center, and more. The second piece introduces us to the digital deviants OKFocus behind their new alpha-channel video experience for Tanlines’ “Not The Same.” The first video is above and the second video can be viewed after the break.

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 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…

Diller Scofidio & Renfro’s ‘Granite Web’ Not Financially Viable for Aberdeen

Proposed Site – Rendering provided by the Diller Scofidio + Renfro submission boardsImages courtesy of Aberdeen City Garden Project

The life of a city-funded project is a tumultuous one. After winning a design competition early this year and receiving public support to move forward, Diller, Scofidio + Renfro’sGranite Web” design for the redevelopment of the nineteenth-century Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen, was recently rejected by the city council in a 22-20 vote.  The project promised to bring a revived pulse to the heart of the city centre with a public space that would bring a year-round civic garden onto the “unattractive” Denburn dual carriageway and railway line.

More after the break.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro Unveils New Columbia University Medical Building

Exterior View South – Courtesy of CUMC

has been at the forefront of medical education for more than two centuries, as it was the first medical school in the United States to award the M.D. degree in 1770. Now, the Medical Center (CUMC) has announced plans for a new, state-of-the-art medical and graduate education building that reflects how they believe medicine is and should be taught, learned and practiced in the 21st century.

Located on the CUMC campus in the Washington Heights community of Northern Manhattan, the 14-story facility will aim to achieve LEED Gold certification and incorporate technologically advanced classrooms, collaboration spaces, and a modern simulation center. The design is led by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, in collaboration with Gensler as executive architect.

Continue after the break for more details!

Cooper-Hewitt selects DS+R to help with Expansion

Back Garden © Rob Corder

-based Diller Scofidio + Renfro has been chosen to design the gallery and visitor experience at the historic Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum – the only museum in the United States that is exclusively devoted to historic and contemporary design. The New York City landmark is currently under undergoing an extensive, $64 million transformation that will expand gallery space by sixty-percent. The new environment will be laced with interactive elements in which Local Projects will help integrate into the gallery space as they have been selected as participatory media designer.

The contemporary vision of the re:design aims to become a modern exemplar for museum design, while still preserving the historic Carnegie mansion. The renovation is led by Gluckman Mayner Architects and Beyer Blinder Belle. It will achieve LEED certification and is scheduled to be complete by 2014.

“It is because of their keen abilities to translate ideas and concepts into boundary-stretching design that Cooper-Hewitt selected DS+R and Local Projects as the ideal partners to help re-envision the design of its gallery, visitor and participatory digital experiences,” explained Bill Moggridge, director of the museum.

Governors Island / West 8

© / Rogers Marvel Architects / Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Mathews Nielsen / Urban Design +

Despite all of the preconceived notions about New York City being overpopulated, noisy and constantly bustling, there are numerous pockets within the five boroughs that offer respite from the city. This design strives to be one such pocket – or island. has a long military history that dates back to 1776. It was controlled by the U.S. Government first for the U.S. Army and later for the Coast Guard. In 2002 the island was “sold” to the people of New York and declared a national monument. In 2010, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Paterson agreed on the future operations, planning and redevelopment of the island through the Trust for Governors Island. Since then, the island has been open during the summer months for visitors to enjoy the unique seclusion offered by the the old military grounds. But the Trust had bigger plans. Choosing a team of architects, urban planners, designers and landscape architects that include Rogers Marvel Architects, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Mathews Nielsen and led by West 8, plans began to unfold that would reimagine the island as a getaway for New Yorkers. Playing up to its isolation, its abundance of lawns and trees, and the views that it offers, the first phase of the plans have officially broken ground and are scheduled for completion in Fall 2013.

Check out what’s in store for Governors Island after the break.

TED Talk: A Giant Bubble for Debate / Liz Diller

Liz Diller, founding principle of Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, shares the story of creating the pneumatic addition to the in Washington, DC. Commonly known as the “Bubble”, the inflatable event space is planned for the cylindrical courtyard of the National Mall’s modernist museum that was originally designed by Gordon Bunshaft in 1974. The first inflation of the “Bubble” is expected to take place at the end of 2013.

“To truly make good public space, you have to erase the distinctions between architecture, urbanism, landscape, [and] media design.” –

National Mall Finalists Exhibit Designs

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The ten finalists competing in the final phase of the National Mall Design Competition are dreaming big. Proposals to restore the National Mall include flourishing lakeside gardens, contemporary cafés hovering over water, grassy new amphitheaters and underground pavilions exposed at the foot of the Washington Monument. Since the announcement of the finalists, the teams have been refining there proposals behind closed doors.

Now, the Trust for the National Mall has released the highly anticipated proposals to the public. From now until Sunday, at the Smithsonian Castle and the National Museum of American History, you can view each proposal in its entirety. If you don’t live in the D.C. area, no need to worry. Continue after the break to catch a glimpse of each submission and learn how you can help the jury decided who will revamp America’s “front yard”.

Update: Community Meeting / Friends of the High Line

Interim Walkway at the Western Rail Yards. James Corner Field Operations and . Courtesy City of New York and Friends of the

Last night, ArchDaily joined the community of Chelsea and Friends of the High Line in the crowded auditorium of PS 11: The William T Harris School eager to see James Corner and Rick Scofidio’s latest ideas for the third installment of the High Line.  This last segment of the amazing elevated park project is the designers’ most crucial intervention as it culminates the strategies introduced in Phases 1 and 2 and must adaptively respond to new contextual relationships between 34th and 30th Streets.   Corner and Scofidio’s eloquent and coherent presentation very much responded to the community’s input from the last public meeting held in December, as the design addressed the need for a child’s play area with an idea for a section with rubberized beams, a place for spontaneous and planned performances, and more seating.  Scofidio kidded, “There are some things we could do better, and that’s exactly why we get to do the third phase.”

More about Phase 3 after the break.

Residents vote in favor of Diller, Scofidio & Renfro’s Aberdeen City Garden Redesign

View from Rosemount Viaduct - Rendering provided by the Diller Scofidio + Renfro submission boards

The people of Aberdeen, Scotland have voted in favor of the £140m Aberdeen City Garden redevelopment proposal designed by the New York-based practice Diller, Scofidio & Renfro (DS+R), in collaboration with local architects Keppie Design and Philadelphia landscape architects OLIN.

DS+R plans to redevelop the nineteenth-century Union Terrace Gardens with a Granite Web that intends to “fuse nature and culture into a vital social network at the heart of the city” with an “elastic web of three-dimensional interconnections” that spans across the six-hectare site. Continue reading for more information.

Cornell Reveals the Architects Competing to Design the First NYC Tech Campus Building

© Cornell University

After Mayor Bloomberg, Cornell President Skorton and Technion President Lavie announced Cornell’s victory over Stanford to build an eleven acre state-of-the-art tech campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City, the team has now tackled their next step in choosing six high-profile architecture firms competing to design the schools first academic facility.

Selected from over more than 40 firms from the U.S. and abroad, the finalists include Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), Morphosis Architects, Steven Holl Architects and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. Continue reading for more information.