Concerns regarding the environmental sensitivity of George Lucas’ proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Chicago has caused the project to halt, and may even prevent it from being realized. According to a suit filed against the museum by the Friends of the Parks, environmentalists believe that the “mountainous” lakefront proposal, designed by MAD Architects, will disrupt the site’s ecosystem.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, Lucas’ hasn’t given up on Chicago yet. However, considering that Lucas wants to see the museum built within his lifetime, the 70-year-old Star Wars director is starting to reconsider a University of Southern California (USC) campus site in Los Angeles.
The current state of architectural design incorporates many contemporary ideas of what defines unique geometry. With the advent of strong computer software at the early 21st century, an expected level of experimentation has overtaken our profession and our academic realms to explore purposeful architecture through various techniques, delivering meaningful buildings that each exhibit a message of cultural relevancy.
These new movements are not distinct stylistic trends, but modes of approaching concept design. They often combine with each other, or with stylistic movements, to create complete designs. Outlined within this essay are five movements, each with varying degrees of success creating purposeful buildings: Diagramism, Neo-Brutalism, Revitism, Scriptism, and Subdivisionism.
Four years after winning a competition to rebuild 71 Via Boncompagni in the heart of Rome, MAD Architects has been awarded approval and will now enter the implementation phase of their first European project. This approval will allow the Chinese practice to transform an incongruous 1970s commercial courtyard building into a 145-unit residential complex that reutilizes the building’s “bookshelf” structure by stripping away its facade and inserting new living quarters, giving it an entirely new look and function.
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.
China may be at a turning point in urban design: a recent article in Australian Financial Review points out that over 50 million apartments in Chinese cities (about 22.5 percent) are unoccupied. This problem springs from the ongoing Chinese construction boom, prompted by developers looking to stimulate urban economic growth as quickly as possible. However, Ma Yansong of MAD Architects believes these empty apartments are a sign that buyers find them unsuited to their needs, and that China should begin to enforce good design principles on these rapidly-constructed complexes. Read the full article here.
The Guangzhou Bureau of Science and IT has announced the shortlists for two major projects in Guangzhou. The two museum projects – the Guangzhou Museum and the Guangzhou Science Museum, each worth over $160 million – will be the latest in a host of high profile projects in China‘s third-largest city, a list which includes Zaha Hadid‘s Guangzhou Opera House, the 600m tall Canton Tower, IFC Guangzhou by Wilkinson Eyre Architects and the Guangzhou Circle, among others.
The Guangzhou Museum will be located to the West of Lingnan Square near the Canton Tower, while the Guangzhou Science museum will be located to the East. Practices making the two lists include Bjark Ingels Group, Miralles Tagliabue EMBT, TFP Farrells, MAD Architects and Steven Holl Architects. Read on after the break for the complete shortlists.
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.
Construction has commenced on MAD’s Chaoyang Park Plaza within one of Beijing’s largest public parks and central business district. A continuation of Ma Yansong’s “Shan-Shui City” concept, which aims reintroduce nature into the urban realm, the mixed-use complex reinterprets natural formations illustrated in traditional Chinese paintings as contemporary “city landscapes.”
“Like the tall mountain cliffs and river landscapes of China, a pair of asymmetrical towers creates a dramatic skyline in front of the park,” described MAD. “Ridges and valleys define the shape of the exterior glass facade, as if the natural forces of erosion wore down the tower into a few thin lines.”
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.