So much has already been written about Hamburg’s undeniably excellent Elbphilharmonie, which formally opened in January but has been publicly accessible, in part, since November. The chatter has mostly revolved around the same two talking points—the building’s on-the-tip-of-your-tongue shape and its fantastic price tag. In addressing the former, critics have called attention to the hall’s resemblance to an iceberg, an outcrop, a ship, circus tents, or the Sydney Opera House. And as for the costs, totaling $900 million, they point out how the project hemorrhaged cash, even if they have inadvertently exaggerated the figures. Having momentarily lost control of the narrative, the city felt compelled to set the record straight in time for the inaugural performance: The building cost just three—not ten!—times the initial budget.
This article was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Kenneth Frampton on the Art & Artifice of Architectural Models."
For decades, students at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, & Preservation signed up for Kenneth Frampton’s legendary class, Studies in Tectonic Culture. The course tasked students with creating realistic representations of buildings “as a pedagogical exploration of the history of architectural tectonics”—and the models long spilled into the hallways of the architecture school before being hidden away in the archives.
Now, the Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery has decided to pull some of these models out from obscurity and display them in a whole new light for the show Stagecraft: Models and Photos, which opened February 9th. Produced during the 1990s and early 2000s, the models are of significant 20th-century buildings around the world, from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Samuel Freeman House to Peter Zumthor’s St. Benedict Chapel.
"The Cloud" by Studio Fuksas Brings a Touch of Modern Baroque to Rome's Rationalist EUR Neighborhood
This article was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Studio Fuksas' Controversial (Yet Striking) Convention Center Opens At Last."
Despite its evocatively fluffy name, “The Cloud” (Nuvola in Italian) has been one of the most seriously discussed and debated architectural projects in Italy in the last decade. Even after its opening in October 2016, the building continues to generate controversy over its cost (an estimated €353 million, or $390 million) and the delays its construction incurred.
The EUR Convention Center, as it’s officially known, is the largest new building to be built in Rome in more than 50 years—a flicker in time for the Eternal City, perhaps, but not an inconsiderable span either. The design was hatched by Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas in 1998, but it languished on the drawing boards for nearly two decades after that. In that time the city elected five different mayors and had three temporary commissioners. It also weathered a number of corruption scandals.
This article was originally published on Metropolis Magazine as "New Retrospective Glimpses the Man Behind the Maison de Verre."
Pierre Chareau was an architect whose buildings have almost all been demolished; an interior designer whose designs have all been remodeled; and a film set designer whose films you cannot see. These are not the most auspicious circumstances on which to mount a retrospective, but an ongoing exhibition at the Jewish Museum, imaginatively designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), attempts it nonetheless.
Chareau, who is best known for his one surviving building, the Maison de Verre in Paris, defies neat classification. Without any sort of architectural training, he worked briefly as a furniture designer for a British firm then struck out on his own, creating an idiosyncratic corpus of furniture, interior designs for life and cinema, and even several homes.
I meet architect and educator Ralph Knowles on an unseasonably warm autumn day, even for Southern California. He greets me in shirtsleeves (his shirt is a tropical pattern of vines and branches) and leads me to a seat on the balcony of his condo. The building—a retirement community—is fairly new, but mature oak trees line the quiet street. As we talk about his career, the California oaks form a poignant backdrop. For more than five decades, Knowles, 88, has argued for an architecture that hews closely to nature’s forces and rhythms.
This article was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Why Architects Must Rethink Carbon (It's Not the Enemy We Face)."
Metropolis editor in chief Susan Szenasy sits down with William McDonough—the designer, author, and developer of Cradle to Cradle design—to understand why we must begin to employ a new language regarding carbon and sustainable design.
Susan Szenasy: Your article in Nature, “Carbon is Not the Enemy,” really caught my attention. You're redefining how we think about carbon, what it is, and what we should be looking for. It seems like a new phase that you're leading us to. How did you come up with this idea, that there needs to be a new language on carbon? Can you trace back your thought process?
William McDonough: [With the UN’s Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015,] everybody kept saying, "Oh, we have to do this, to reduce our carbon 20% by 2020." Well, when you think about that Susan, it's absurd. What you're telling us is what you're not going to do. You’re going to reduce your badness by 20% by 2020? That would be like getting in a taxi and saying to the driver, "Quick, I'm not going to the airport." It doesn't tell us what you're going to do.
This November, the Manetti Shrem Museum on the University of California, Davis, campus opened to the public. Designed by New York City–based SO-IL with the San Francisco office of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, the museum pays homage to the agricultural landscape of California’s Central Valley with an oversize roof canopy. The steel members of the 50,000-square-foot (4,650-square-meter) shade structure, nearly twice the size of the museum itself, reference the patterning of plowed fields and create a welcoming outdoor space for visitors. It is both expressive and practical, but getting that balance wasn’t easy.
SO-IL, founded by Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu in 2008, has a portfolio filled with smaller projects, installations, and exhibition-related work. The Manetti Shrem Museum is easily the firm’s largest work to date, demanding a rigorous design-build process while maintaining a strong conceptual vision. In short, it required architecture.
This article was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "'Hardcore Heritage': RAAAF Reveals Its Latest Experiment in Historical Preservation."
In the practice of historic preservation, there is often a temptation to turn a building into an object on display—meticulously restored, unchanging, physically isolated—in order to remove it from the flow of history. The multidisciplinary Amsterdam-based studio Rietveld-Architecture-Art-Affordances (RAAAF) situates itself in opposition to this method of dealing with architectural remnants. Instead, it proposes to make history tangible by altering these decaying structures in a way that makes their stories plainly visible. The practice has a name for this approach—"hardcore heritage."
This article was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Why Architects Must Rethink Restroom Design in Schools."
"Gang style" bathrooms, in which rows of stalls are installed opposite rows of wash basins and designated only for males or for females, have been de rigueur in educational facilities for the last hundred years. They involve predictable plumbing, mechanical exhaust, and fixture costs. Short doors and divider walls allow for the passive monitoring of behavior.
Relinquishing this traditional bathroom model is daunting, since individual toilet rooms can significantly increase costs through additional plumbing, ductwork, ventilation, partitions, doors and hardware. These designs many times require additional space, trigger further ADA compliance, and invalidate some USGBC LEED points. Moreover, school districts typically have limited budgets, established facilities, and deep-rooted social practices.
This article by Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, the cofounder of Snøhetta, was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Opinion: The Next Great Public Spaces Will Be Indoors."
Maybe with the sole exception of railway stations, public space is generally understood as outdoor space. Whether in the United States or in Europe, especially now with heightened concerns around security, there seems to be this determined way of privatizing everything that is indoors, even as we are increasingly aiming to improve access to public space outdoors. But in the layered systems of our cities of the future, we will need to focus on the public spaces that are found inside buildings—and make them accessible.
This article was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Q&A: Steven Holl."
For twenty years, Maggie's Centres have been providing cancer treatment to patients within thoughtful, beautiful spaces designed by renowned architects like Rem Koolhaas, Frank Gehry, and Zaha Hadid. Steven Holl's Maggie's Center Barts, located adjacent to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in central London, is slated to open at the end of this year. While the design has been somewhat controversial in the UK due to its contemporary nature, the cancer care facility incorporates innovative lighting, sustainable materials, and a compact structure in a way that is—according to the architect—entirely complementary to its historical neighbors. We spoke with the renowned architect to learn more about the project and what it has meant to him over the past four years.
The "Rust Belt," a region of north central United States, is well known as an area where once thriving industrial cities have declined in economic health and population. As a result, many of the region's cities have been subject to grand proposals that aim to fix these city's problems--but could such schemes also provide a way to intervene in other serious global issues? In a recent article, Metropolis Magazine’s Web Editor and former ArchDaily Managing Editor Vanessa Quirk argues that refugees could reinvigorate such cities, describing how refugees are “boosting American’s legacy cities,” but simultaneously “encountering resistance from residents.”
From Yaba in Lagos to the suburb of Bandra in Mumbai, Metropolis Magazine provides a scenic tour around the world’s “most creative” neighborhoods. Spread across ten rapidly growing cities like Cape Town and Turin, the article provides a comprehensive glimpse into these lesser discussed hubs of creativity.
Metropolis Magazine has released their 2016 rankings of the world's most "livable" cities. Acknowledging that what makes a city "livable" can often be subjective, the team at Metropolis emphasizes that in creating the list they "focused on the concerns at Metropolis’ core—housing, transportation, sustainability, and culture." The result of this research was last year's top prize-winner Toronto dropping to the number 9 spot and Copenhagen, which last year took the number 4 spot, jumping to the top. Rounding out the top three are Berlin and Helsinki.
Andy Klemmer has had a front-seat view of the making of some of the most important pieces of architecture of our time. The president and founder of the consulting firm Paratus Group, Klemmer was an essential part of the team that helped develop the iconic Guggenheim Bilbao. Since then, he’s gone on to consult on the California Academy of Science, the Perez Art Museum Miami, the Kimbell Art Museum expansion, working with architects like Renzo Piano, Herzog & de Meuron, and SANAA (to name a few). By liaising between institutions and their chosen architects, he has unique insight into architecture, its practice, and that essential part of the architecture puzzle: the client.
This article was originally published in Metropolis Magazine as "When It Comes to Sustainability, We're Ranking Our Cities Wrong."
A recent article published in Nature makes a bold claim: we're analyzing our cities completely wrong. Professors David Wachsmuth, Aldana Cohen, and Hillary Angelo argue that, for too long, we have defined sustainability too narrowly, only looking at environmental impact on a neighborhood or city scale rather than a regional or global scale. As a result, we have measured our cities in ways that are inherently biased towards wealthy cities, and completely ignored the negative impacts our so-called "sustainable," post-industrial cities have on the rest of the world.Metropolis editor Vanessa Quirk spoke with Professor Wachsmuth to learn more about the unintended knock-on effects of going "green," the importance of consumption-based carbon counting, and why policy-makers should be more attentive to the effects of "environmental gentrification."
It’s rare for an architect to have the opportunity to design a building in which symbolism and form are as important as function, if not more so. But this was the task given to David Adjaye when he won the commission to design the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), which, when it opens in September, will be the final Smithsonian institution to take its place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Adjaye, whose work is marked for its extreme sensitivity to context, found himself challenged in ways he had never been before. On the occasion of the completion of Adjaye’s Eugene McDermott Award residency at MIT, Metropolis editor Vanessa Quirk spoke with the architect about the new institution, its symbolic significance, and the blurry boundary between monument and museum.
As soon as photographer Harlan Erskine discovered the plans to demolish Paul Rudolph's iconic Orange County Government Center in New York, he knew he needed to bear witness to its demise. Beyond admiring the building's dynamic form, the photographer recognized its continued impact on architecture today, particularly noting its influence on Herzog and de Meuron's "Jenga tower."
Visiting on four separate occasions throughout 2015 and 2016, Erskine captured the dismantling of this iconic Brutalist work with stunning severity. See the building's final seasons below.