Founder of the innovative architecture firm MAD Architects, Ma Yansong (born 26 November 1975) has helped to give China a name in the international architecture scene. The first Chinese architect to receive a RIBA fellowship, Ma explores contemporary architecture in relation to traditional eastern values of nature, resulting in buildings that are complex and contextually aware, but sometimes even surreal.
In the latest episode of what has become a dramatic narrative worthy of its own space opera, The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art has revealed plans for their two newest hopes: prospective museum designs, one in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco, that could serve as the new home of filmmaker George Lucas’ eclectic personal collection of artworks, costumes and artifacts.
After their failed proposal for a mountain-shaped museum along the Chicago Waterfront, the museum has again tapped architect Ma Yansong and his firm, MAD Architects, to design both proposals for the California sites, the first along the water on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay, and the second for a site in Exposition Park in Los Angeles, adjacent to the city’s Natural History Museum and the Coliseum.
The Lucas Museum has been looking for a home in all the wrong places. Following months of fiery debate over the future of the museum’s proposed lakefront location, George Lucas announced that he is abandoning plans to build the project in Chicago and will instead return to looking for a site in California. This is the second failed location for the museum, after being rejected by San Francisco’s Presidio Trust in early 2014.
Created for the 2016 Milan Design Week, MAD Architects’ “Invisible Borders” installation is part of the “Open Borders” exhibition curated by Italian magazine Interni. Taking place in the traditional Cortile d’Onore courtyard of Università degli Studi di Milano, the installation is a canopy made from ribbons of ETFE in gradient colors, which has a lightness and flexibility that allows it to rustle in the wind and generate a subtle whistling sound. According to MAD, “The installation reflects the hues of the sky during the day, leaving glimpses of the columns and loggias. In the evening it becomes a luminous surface that brings the courtyard to live with new colors.”
The Chicago City Council has voted to approve zoning for George Lucas' controversial, MAD-designed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. Planned for a lakefront site on Chicago's Museum Campus park, near the Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum, the "mountainous" design faced opposition from environmentalists who claim the building is a "confiscation of public land." Despite this, and according to reports on NBC News, the Star Wars director won the Council's approval by promising more parking and tailgating space to Chicago Bears fans.
“The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will be an incredible addition to Chicago’s Museum Campus,” said Mayor Emanuel in an official statement. “The Lucas Museum will join the 56 other museums in Chicago to provide new cultural and educational benefits for generations to come. And the new parkland will add more open greenspace that will be enjoyed by residents across the city.”
Ma Yansong, Founder and Principle Partner of MAD Architects, will launch his most recent book Shanshui City on October 13th at The Architecture & Design Museum, Los Angeles. The free event will begin with a brief presentation on Shanshui City by Ma Yansong at 7:00 p.m. and will be followed by a conversation with Frances Anderton of KCRW’s DnA: Design and Architecture, and Dean Qingyun Ma from the USC School of Architecture.
Beijing-born architect Ma Yansong, founder and principal of MAD Architects, will be delivering a lecture at LACMA on September 15th at 7:30pm. He will discuss his work and his concept of "Shanshui City," which is his vision to create a new balance between society, the city, and the environment through new forms of architecture. Ma is recognized as an important voice in the new generation of architects with projects in Asia, Europe, Canada, and the US. Works include Absolute Towers; Beijing 2050; China Wood Sculpture Museum; Harbin Cultural Island; Hutong Bubble 32; Ordos Museum; and Pingtan Art Museum.
MAD Architects has unveiled what will be their first US residential project, 8600 Wilshire. Planned to be built in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, the 18-unit "hillside village" will be perched atop commercial space and united by a water-efficient "living wall" that was inspired by the local flora.
As MAD says, the project "demonstrates founder Ma Yansong’s core design philosophy: to coalesce nature and community into a living environment among high-density cities." It is expected to break ground this October, and complete in 2016.
With criticism forcing progress on MAD’s “mountainous” Lucas Museum to come to a standstill, Frank Gehry has released a statement on the Chicago Tribune urging critics to “take the proper time to review” the museum before dismissing it.
“Chicago is a great city for architecture and has historically supported innovative, forward-looking work. There is a natural impulse to deride a project in the early stages of design, particularly one that has a new shape or expression. This is not a new concept,” says Gehry, citing that both the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and Los Angeles Walt Disney Concert Hall were shrouded in criticism before becoming “great assets to their mutual cities.”
The design for Chicago's Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts has been revealed, with MAD Architects unveiling their plans for a sculptural white "mountain," rising from the site to be topped by a metallic crown. Designed as a landscape that can be approached from all sides, with the main entrance located on a 'floating' public plaza accessed via a network of ramps and steps, the building is organized around a central domed lobby and events space, with four stories of gallery spaces, a set of four theaters, and at the top of the building an observation deck and glass-encased restaurant. In a connected, smaller "mountain" are the building's educational functions, with classrooms, lecture theaters and a library.
Speaking to ArchDaily from Chicago, director of MAD Architects Ma Yansong explained how he wanted the design "to be futuristic but at the same time to be natural," connecting with the landscape of the waterfront site.
More about the design from Ma Yansong after the break
The President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping, has reportedly called for an end to the "weird buildings" being built in China, and particularly in the nation's capital, Beijing. In a two hour speech at a literary symposium in Beijing last week, Mr Xi expressed his views that art should serve the people and be morally inspiring, identifying architectural projects such as OMA's CCTV Headquarters as the kind of building that should no longer be constructed in Beijing.
With China's construction boom being one of the most talked about features of today's architecture scene - and many a Western practice relying on their extravagant projects to prop up their studios - the Chinese leader's comments have the potential to affect the landscape of architectural practice worldwide. But what is behind these sentiments? Read on after the break to find out.
MAD Architects' "Silhouette Shanshui" - which lies somewhere between an installation and a model - is currently on display at the 14th Venice Biennale. The inspiration for the project is the firm's Nanjing Zendai Himalayas Center, a master plan with an overall area of 560,000 sqm that challenges how modern development is typically thought of in China. According to Ma Yansong, the founder of MAD Architects, the city-scale urban project is already underway with 13 towers under construction.
After the controversy surrounding their rejection by San Francisco and subsequent relocation to Chicago, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts has today announced a team of MAD Architects and Studio Gang as the designers of their new building in Chicago's museum district near Northerly Island.
The building itself will be designed by MAD Architects, chosen "because of its innovative approach to design and the firm’s philosophy of connecting urban spaces to natural landscapes." In this case, that landscape will be designed by Studio Gang, who will also add a bridge to Northerly Island, an area which they have worked on turning into an ecologically diverse urban park.
2014 seems to be the year of Ma Yansong, as the founder of MAD Architects, who was recently named a Young Global Leader, has now been listed as one of the top 100 most creative people in business by Fast Company. Ranked at 53, the Beijing-based architect was the only architect featured on the list.
I look into myself, trying to express myself. I think sometimes maybe you have an idea from a dream. It sounds ridiculous but you draw something out of your dream. Where does this dream come from? It must somehow relate to some situation. So what I'm interested in is to keep discovering what is really inside of me. I'm not a genius that from the first moment I already know what I want. - Ma Yansong -
Beixinqiao district, in Beijing, is changing fast: the ancient urban tissue is being demolished as new high-rises are growing.Located in this environment, Ma Yansong’s office sits within an old and anonymous construction. In contrast to its exterior, the inside is characterized by wood, white walls and plants that transform the place into a sophisticated environment.International young architects are busy modeling new organic-shaped buildings on the other side of the world; meanwhile a golden fish swims in the eternal loop of the “fish tank” in the centre of the room.
In the following interview, Ma Yansong explains contemporary cities as environments that are out-of-scale with nature. He believes a new approach must be used, one that breaks the monotonous “chessboard” of contemporary Urban China and re-establishes the balance between human beings and the natural world.
Ma Yansong, founder of MAD, has been named the 2014 Young Global Leader. The award, bestowed each year by the World Economic Forum (WEF), aims to "recognize the most distinguished leaders under the age of 40, nominated from around the world." Winning the title from a collection of 214 young leaders from 66 countries, Yansong is the first Chinese architect to be awarded this honour. According to the WEF, Yansong "commits himself to exploring the future of architecture by combining the city density, function, and the spirit of Shanshui, to reconnect the emotional link between human and nature." Watch our interview with Ma Yansong here.
Ma Yansong of MAD recently presented a 600,000 square meter urban design proposal for the city of Nanjing titled, "Shanshui Experiment Complex," at the 2013 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism / Architecture in Shenzhen, China. The concept takes into account the culture, nature and history of Nanjing while reconsidering the methodology in which Chinese cities are built.
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