Rijksmuseum Revisited: The Dutch National Museum One Year On

Atrium, April 2014. Image © James Taylor-Foster

The Rijksmuseum, which reopened last year after a decade of restoration and remodelling, is a museum dedicated to “the Dutchness of Dutchness.” , the building’s original architect, began designing this neogothic cathedral to Dutch art in 1876; it opened in 1885 and has stood guard over Amsterdam’s Museumplein ever since.

Over the centuries, the building suffered a series of poorly executed ‘improvements’: intricately frescoed walls and ceilings were whitewashed; precious mosaics broken; decorative surfaces plastered over; and false, parasitic ceilings hung from the walls. Speaking in his office overlooking the ’s monumental south west façade, Director of Collections Taco Dibbits noted how the most appalling damage was incurred during the mid-20th century: “everything had been done to hide the original building […but] Cruz y Ortiz [who won the competition to redesign the Rijks in 2003] embraced the existing architecture by going back to the original volumes of the spaces as much as possible.”

For Seville-based Cruz y Ortiz, choosing what to retain and what to restore, what to remodel and what to ignore were, at times, difficult to balance. Cruz y Ortiz found their answer in the mantra: ‘Continue with Cuypers’. They threw the original elements of the building into relief but did not act as aesthetes for the ‘ruin’. In contrast to David Chipperfield and Julian Harrap’s restoration of Berlin’s Neues Museum, for instance, Cruz y Ortiz rigorously implemented a clean visual approach that favoured clarity over confusion. What is original, what is restored, and what is new mingle together in a melting pot of solid, understated architectural elements. Sometimes this approach contradicted Cuyper’s original intentions; however, more often than not it complements them in a contemporary way.

SANE Architecture’s Taichung City Cultural Centre: Entry in the Future Project Awards 2014

Terrace View. Image Courtesy of

SANE architecture, an experimental studio based in Paris, have recently been recognised in the MIPIM Architectural Review Future Project Awards 2014 for the Taichung City Centre. The practice, who focus on “researching the Sane and the Insane in architecture”, were tasked with imagining an architecture and an urban space unique to Taiwan’s climate and the culture of Taichung, a cultural library and municipal arts museum that “synergizes” art, education and recreation.

Did Park City Blow It With BIG’s Kimball Art Center?

The original design for the Kimball Art Center. Image Courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Group ()

In an entertaining take on the events that led BIG to completely redesign their winning competition entry for the Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah, Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan describes the new design as “ridiculously anonymous,” “a huge — and almost hilarious — departure from the personality and warmth of the original design.” She asks the residents of , whose outrage forced the redesign, “are you happy now?” Read the full article here.

UC Davis Selects SO-IL to Design New Art Museum

Courtesy of

UPDATE: SO-IL has broken ground on UC Davis’ new campus art museum. Completion is slated for 2016. 

The University of , Davis has selected emerging New York-based practice SO-IL to design a new campus’ art museum, which is envisioned to be a “regional center of experimentation, participation and learning.” SO-IL, selected from three finalists following an intensive five-month design competition, will collaborate with San Francisco-based Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and national construction firm Whiting-Turner to complete the project.

UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi believes the winning design has turned the traditional notion of museum design inside out, as SO-IL’s concept will engage visitors with a sequence of interconnected interior and exterior spaces that are defined by curved glass walls and capped with a 50,000 square foot steel canopy. At night, the “Grand Canopy” will illuminate from within, establishing a new focal point for the campus and beckoning drivers along Interstate 80 between San Francisco and Lake Tahoe.

Shortlisted Concepts Unveiled for MLK Jr. Memorial Library Renovation

© STUDIOS Architecture with The Freelon Group

Preliminary designs have been released by three shortlisted teams competing to renovate ’s historic Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in – the only library and D.C. building ever designed by the legendary architect. Preview each proposal and learn how you can submit your feedback to the D.C. Public Library before they make their decision, after the break.

What the Guggenheim Should Consider Before Building in Helsinki

The / Frank Gehry. Image © Flickr User: Iker Merodio

The Guggenheim is planning a new museum in Helsinki. The site is in the heart of the city, next door to the late 19th Century market hall and open-air market place, two minutes from Cathedral. The project, therefore, has great landmark potential for the city. And many Finns are lured by this very potential, wanting to increase tourism and put their capital city more evidently on the world map. There has also been discussion in the country’s main newspaper Helsingin Sanomat about how Finns should welcome a more joyous and fun architecture.

Destination-creation and architecture as entertainment are certainly strong themes of our times.  They were treated with great artistry by Frank Gehry with the Bilbao Guggenheim, opened in 1997. However, it’s important to remember that the Bilbao Guggenheim might best be considered a spectacular one-off. Mayors, politicians and world leaders have since sought, in perhaps too facile a way, to rebrand their cities and countries with iconic landmarks. There has been much talk of making cities “world class” through such architectural gestures, and yet much of this marketer’s fodder is wholly out of touch with what makes great architecture great.

Museum Round Up: The Box is Back

Clyfford Still Museum. Image © Jeremy Bittermann

In a recent article for the Denver Post, Ray Rinaldi discusses how the box is making a comeback in U.S. museum design. Stating how architecture in the 2000’s was a lot about swoops, curves, and flying birds – see Frank Gehry and Santiago Calatrava - he points out the cool cubes of David Chipperfield and Renzo Piano. We’ve rounded up some of these boxy works just for you: the Clyfford Still Museum, the Kimbell Art Museum Expansion, The St. Louis Art Museum’s East Building, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien’s Barnes Foundation, and Shigeru Ban’s Aspen Art Museum. Each project begins to show how boxes can be strong, secure, and even sly. Check out more about the article here.

“Pierrefonds Library” Winning Entry / Chevalier Morales Architectes

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Chevalier Morales Architectes, in collaboration with DMA Architectes, has won the competition for the design of the Pierrefonds Library in Quebec. The project called for a complete renovation of the existing building to achieve LEED Gold certification and a 2,316 square meter extension that would include new document management technologies. The team’s building design was inspired by Pierrefonds’ old master plans as well as the economic pragmatism of shopping malls.

The Library: A World History

© Will Pryce

Written by James WP Campbell and featuring stunning photography by Will Pryce, “The Library: A World History” (published by Thames & Hudson 2013) explores the evolution of libraries in different cultures and throughout the ages. It investigates how technical innovations as well as changing attitudes have shaped the designs of libraries from the tablet storehouses of ancient Mesopotamia to today’s multi-functional media centres.

Read on for some insights from the book and more of its beautiful photography

Could Libraries Offer More in the Aftermath of Storms?

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath. Image © Governor’s Office / Tim Larsen

Zadie Smith recently suggested that libraries are “the only thing left on the high street that doesn’t want either your soul or your wallet.” has put forward the argument in the New York Times that local libraries could be far more important than we think in the aftermath of large storms, suggesting that “places that serve us well every day serve us best when disaster strikes” by fostering congregational activity and offering well-needed warmth, power and friendly faces. You can read the full article here.

Holl, Aravena Among Shortlist for Moscow’s New Contemporary Art Center

National Centre for Contemporary Arts. Image Courtesy of Calvert Journal

The Russian Ministry of Culture has announced the shortlist of 10 architecture firms who will compete to design the museum and exhibition complex of ’s new National Centre for Contemporary Arts (NCCA). The NCCA, currently housed in a former factory in central Moscow, will be moved to Khoydynskoye Pole, a former airfield in northeast Moscow, as part of a larger urban planning project to develop the area.

Ten firms were selected to advance to the second stage of the competition: five on the merit of their experience and portfolio; five on the merit of the preliminary architecture concepts submitted to the jury. See the shortlist, after the break…

The People’s Architect: Dutch Residents Pay Tribute by Crowdfunding Future Piet Blom Museum

© Flickr user Michela Simoncini

“Architecture is more than creating a place to live,” stated the late Dutch architect, Piet Blom, “you create a society.” Till his death in 1999, Blom designed homes and urban schemes as if to reject the stern, coldness of post-war Modernism in light of a warmer, more human architecture. His drawings, diagrams and homes portray an affectionate commitment to reconcile elements of culture with the architecture around us. Characterized by his use of lively colors and equally expressive architectural geometries, project’s such as the “Kasbah” and the cube houses in Rotterdam stand as testaments to his belief that architecture serves the people, not the other way around.

A true “People’s Architect,” Blom’s work has endeared a growing number supporters, among these are residents who have lived in his houses and are hoping to garner donations to share these artifacts with the public. Ingeborg van der Aa, secretary of the Piet Blom Foundation, mentions that the initiative’s mission is to promote recognition, new insight and appreciation with the hopes of encouraging a younger generation to be active creators of their society.

To learn more or contribute towards the Museum, visit there Indiegogo page here

Follow us after the break for a rare collection of Blom’s drawings. 

Four Teams Shortlisted to Design New Central Library in Calgary

Site Image via

Four shortlisted teams have been asked to design proposals for a new central library in the Canadian city of . Selected from 38 submissions, the competing teams of local and international architects will harness the power of platemaking to envision a 280,000 square-foot “landmark” for the East Village . The four shortlisted teams include:

Serpentine Sackler Gallery / Zaha Hadid Architects

Serpentine Sackler Gallery © Zaha Hadid Architects

On September 28, 2013, Zaha Hadid Architects will be celebrating the completion of the Serpentine Sackler Gallery. An extension to ’s famous Serpentine Gallery, the new innovative arts venue will be housed in a 208-year-old, Grade II-listed building, formerly known as The Magazine, in Kensington Gardens just north of the main gallery.

This project will be Zaha Hadid’s first permanent structure in central London and second commission from the Gallery, as she designed the inaugural Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in 2000.

The BIG LEGO® House Reveal

The ® House / ; Courtesy of The LEGO® Group

The design for BIG’s highly anticipated LEGO® “experience center” – a.k.a. The LEGO® House – has been released! Located in the heart of The Lego Group’s birthplace and home town of Billund, Denmark, the 7,600 square-meter building resembles “gigantic LEGO® bricks” that are “combined and stacked in a creative way to create an imaginative experience both outside and inside.”

True to form, the 30 meter-tall structure will feature several exterior and multi-level access points that will remain open year-long to its estimated 250,000 annual visitors. Aside from its roof-top gardens and 1,900 square-meter public square, attractions will include a series of exhibition areas showcasing the “past, present and future of the LEGO® idea”, a cafe and an unique LEGO® store.

Take a video tour through the building after the break…

Video: Teshima Art Museum / Office of Ryue Nishizawa

Designed for the artwork of artist Rei Naito, the Teshima Art Museum is a seamless, earthen form of white in which responds to the rolling landscape of an island located in the Inland Sea of Japan. Architect Ryue Nishizawa created the museum to be an open gallery, exposed to the elements, that is shaped by a 25cm thick concrete shell in which spans up to 60 meters.

Video courtesy of JA+U. More images 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 . This news comes after an intense backlash from prominent architects, preservationists and critics worldwide pressured MoMA 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…

UC Davis Art Museum Proposal / Henning Larsen Architects

Courtesy of

Last year the University of California, Davis invited three architects to compete for the chance to design their new $30 million art museum, slated to open in 2016. The competition was a design-build affair, with each entrant being asked to pair up with a contractor and submit a holistic design. For those who missed it, SO – IL was announced as the winner of the competition.

Here we present one of the two runner-up submissions from Henning Larsen Architects. Given the name ‘The Leaf’, the design it spatially and materially expresses its overlapping functions. Its name comes from the lightweight leaf-like steel and aluminum roof, which filters sunlight and offers shade. The leaf sits on a heavy concrete base, providing accommodation for the museum’s exhibits.

Read the architects description after the break…