When it comes to urbanism these days, people’s attention is increasingly turning to Moscow. The city clearly intends to become one of the world’s leading megacities in the near future and is employing all necessary means to achieve its goal, with the city government showing itself to be very willing to invest in important urban developments (though not without some criticism).
A key player in this plan has been the Moscow Urban Forum. Although the forum’s stated goal is to find adequate designs for future megacities, a major positive side-effect is that it enables the city to organize the best competitions, select the best designers, and build the best urban spaces to promote the city of Moscow. The Forum also publishes research and academic documents to inform Moscow’s future endeavors; for example, Archaeology of the Periphery, a publication inspired by the 2013 forum and released in 2014, notably influenced the urban development on the outskirts of Moscow, but also highlighted the importance of combining urban development with the existing landscape.
Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) has unveiled its design for the David M. Rubenstein Forum at the southeast corner of Woodlawn Avenue and 60th Street on the University of Chicago's campus. The 90,000 square foot (8,500 square meter) facility has been devised as a place of intellectual, institutional, and educational exchange, fulfilling a variety of campus needs for meeting spaces. A collection of block-like volumes, the building’s two-story base is anchored by a narrow 165-foot (50 meter) tower, with the exterior materials and structure reflecting the programmatic divisions within.
At last year's Moscow Urban Forum, Charles Renfro discussed Diller Scofidio + Renfro's design for Zaryadye Park in Moscow. Located in the heart of the city, the park employs Wild Urbanist principles, which seek to emulate Russia's diverse landscapes – tundra, steppe, forest, and wetland – against a backdrop of architectural landmarks that includes the Kremlin, Red Square, and St. Basil’s Cathedral.
Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R)'s The Broad Museum has been slowly revitalizing its plot of downtown Los Angeles. In this new video by Chang Kyun Kim, The Broad is shown at an intimate human scale. Kim takes viewers on a journey through the space, following a class of elementary school children as they tour the museum.
The video opens with a shot of the museum from across the street. As the film slowly approaches the building, it focuses on small details, like other pedestrians, the line in front of the ticket booth and a worker adjusting a window detail from inside the museum. The video then moves through the building, viewing the art and the children interacting with it, at various distances and angles, mimicking the way one might experience the art in real life. As the children leave, the video closes with shots of The Broad, again from a distance, as if saying goodbye.
“The amount of analysis and intellectual effort that has gone into the designs from each team is staggering and the results are impressive and very exciting. Given its size and prime location on Lincoln’s Inn Fields we want this to be a seminal university building; its legacy will endure for many generations so it is vital that we make the right decision,” said Julian Robinson, LSE’s Director of Estates.
All six schemes are being publicly exhibited at the LSE's Saw Swee Hock Student Centre through March 17. Read on for a glimpse of each.
Unlike most American cities, which spent the 20th century radiating out into suburbia, Los Angeles befuddles outsiders because it doesn’t really have a definite center. The phrase “LA” is loosely used to refer to a collection of small yet distinct cities across the Los Angeles basin that grew together over time. Traditionally, a handful of these localities have been the cultural centers and tourist destinations (Hollywood, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Silverlake, etc). While these districts thrived, “downtown” sat largely neglected; its financial towers and retail spaces had severe occupancy issues for much of the 90’s and 2000’s. Ten years ago, downtown street life outside of working hours was virtually nonexistent.
That fate was largely the result of poor urban planning. The tragic destruction of the vibrant Bunker Hill residential neighborhood in the 1960’s created a series of vacant freeway-flanked “superblocks” intended for ugly, efficient modernist towers - many of which never reached fruition. To this day, the area is still plagued with empty lots. Developers and architects have considered downtown as a risky return on investment ever since.
DTLA wasn’t just the butt end of jokes (Family Guy: “There’s nothing to do downtown!”) it was treated with disdain. Even Frank Gehry said on record that he wished the Walt Disney Concert Hall had been constructed 12 miles away in Westwood (near UCLA). He went on to add that he felt the current attempted revitalization of downtown was: “both anachronistic and premature.” Ouch.
In his latest article for Vulture, art critic Jerry Saltz celebrates the latest crop of public art in New York City, such as Deborah Kass' OY/YO sculpture, sitting near the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn, commenting on the success of such pieces even though (or perhaps because) many of them have been curated by art-world insiders rather than publicly accountable arts commissions or community engagement processes. But for Saltz, this new wave of high-quality public art has come at the expense of quality public space. Despite his admiration for the art installations, he expresses skepticism of the privately-funded public spaces that house them, such as the much-celebrated High Line, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) and James Corner Field Operations, as well as future projects such as Pier 55 by Heatherwick Studio, and the "Culture Shed" at the Hudson Yards development also by DS+R. His critique even references a phrase from DS+R that belongs on our list of words only architects use. Read Saltz's full discussion of public art and public space here.
“These finalists offer a variety of backgrounds and styles, and any one of them would be an excellent choice,” Obama Foundation chairman Martin Nesbitt, according to CBS Chicago. “We are excited to see this process moving forward because the Obama Presidential Center will be so much more than a library – this facility will seek to inspire citizens across the globe to better their communities, their countries, and their world.”
In the mid-1980s, after literature had long been held hostage by postmodernist irony and cynicism, a new wave of authors called for an end to negativity, promoting a "new sincerity" for fiction. Gaining momentum into the 1990s, the movement reached a pinnacle in 1993 when, in his essay E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction, pop-culture seer David Foster Wallace, a proponent of this "new sincerity," made the following call to action: “The next real literary ‘rebels’ in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of anti-rebels, born oglers who dare somehow to back away from ironic watching, who have the childish gall actually to endorse and instantiate single-entendre principles... These anti-rebels would be outdated, of course, before they even started. Dead on the page. Too sincere. Clearly repressed. Backward, quaint, naive, anachronistic. Maybe that’ll be the point. Maybe that’s why they’ll be the next real rebels. Real rebels, as far as I can see, risk disapproval. The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal: shock, disgust, outrage, censorship, accusations of socialism, anarchism, nihilism. Today’s risks are different. The new rebels might be artists willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the ‘Oh how banal.'"
Architecture, ever in debt to the styles and ideas of other art forms, could learn a thing or two now from the resuscitation of American fiction at the turn of the millennium. It too is enduring an identity crisis, mired by pessimism and uncertainty - a reality made painfully clear this past January when a New York Times Op-Ed by Steven Bingler and Martin C. Pedersen, How to Rebuild Architecture, divided camps and made the design world fume. In the editorial, the authors spoke vehemently of an architectural profession that has become mired by egos and been disconnected from public needs. Things quickly got ugly, critics wrestled with critics and subsequently the public got involved. What no one seemed to take into account is that this type of hounding is at the core of the problem. In its current landscape the discipline has struggled with its past, been deferential to its present, and wrestled with the uncertainty of its future. In a moment when we have become addicted to despondency, can anyone win?
The University of Chicago has selected Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) to design their David M. Rubenstein Forum, a new facility to host conferences, workshops, lectures, ceremonies and other gatherings. Planned for the University’s Campus South, on the southeast corner of Woodlawn Avenue and 60th Street, the Forum will provide a mix of informal and formal meeting spaces that encourage an "open exchange of ideas."
“As our first building in Chicago, the Rubenstein Forum presents a unique challenge: to imagine a contemporary place of discourse for all of the university’s constituent departments and institutes as well as invited scholars and dignitaries from around the world,” said DS+R founding partner Elizabeth Diller.
Once complete, the new school will offer a Master of Music degree from Juilliard in the areas of orchestral performance, chamber music performance, and collaborative piano; a pre-college program; an instrumental training program; adult education; and public performances and exhibits.
The Broad has officially opened its doors in downtown Los Angeles. Taking four years to complete, the highly anticipated, 120,000-square-foot building houses a prominent collection of postwar and international contemporary art owned by billionaire philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad. During the press preview, VernissageTV caught up with the building's architect, Elizabeth Diller of Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, to gain a better understanding of The Broad's “veil over the vault" concept.
After teasing the general public by offering the press and 3,000 lucky local citizens with a preview day six months ago, the Broad Museum has finally opened its doors. Designed by Highline architects Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, the museum took four years and $140 million to build, adding its presence to LA’s architectural Broadway, Grand Avenue. With its visually striking facade given the tough task of responding to its enigmatic neighbor, Frank Gehry’s perennially polarizing Walt Disney Concert Hall, the building was sure to attract the attention of the critics, and they rose to the challenge in their droves. Read on to find out what five critics thought of the building dubbed “the veil over the vault.”
Update:The Chicago Tribune's architecture critic Blair Kaminhas now reported that 140 architects from 60 cities have expressed their interest in designing the Barack Obama Presidential Center in Chicago by submitting qualifications. Of these, 99 are based in the United States, although names have not been released. The below article, originally published on September 1st, lists 11 architects that Kamin was able to confirm had been invited to submit qualifications by the Barack Obama Foundation.
Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) has shared initial photos by Iwan Baan of their new McMurty Building for Art & Art History at Stanford University, which will be officially unveiled to the public on October 6. The 100,000 square foot building will open for the 2015 fall semester, and allow students studying art history and students practicing fine arts to work together under the same roof for the first time at Stanford. See and read more about the soon-to-be opened project after the break.