Few of the architectural principles developed in the 20th century have been as widely accepted as the curtain wall, with the technology going from an implied feature of Le Corbusier’s Five Points of Architecture to the go-to facade treatment of architects worldwide. In this article, originally published on Australian Design Review as “Invisible Cities – The Last Remnant of Modernism,” Annabel Koeck argues that the curtain wall, initially prized for its glassy transparency, is now making buildings and even entire cities invisible thanks to its sheer ubiquity – at the expense of architectural expression.
Norwegian architects Snøhetta, based between Oslo and New York, designed the glass structure for the The National September 11 Memorial entry pavilion, which appears camouflaged against the backdrop of neighbouring glass curtain walls that define the New York skyline. Admittedly, Snøhetta’s pavilion was conceived by a very different brief, one defined by timidity and subtlety; yet paradoxically it was the curtain wall that facilitated this. Looking over the South Pool towards an array of glazed elevations that dominate the skyline it is ironic that a Modernist technique – the curtain wall – could now spell the end for architectural diversity in cities.
Snøhetta’s pixilated concept for the Norwegian banknote has been selected by the Central Bank of Norway to serve as the “foundation” for the backside of the new kroner notes. This news, announced yesterday in Oslo, also confirmed that the notes’ front will be based off The Metric System’s more “traditional” design featuring a images of sailing vessels.
Both Snøhetta and The Metric System were among seven designers invited to submit ideas under the nautical theme “The Sea,” in which Snøhetta chose to commemorate Norway’s coastal landmarks with a “visual language” of brightly colored, cubical patterns.
More on Snøhetta’s winning concept, after the break.
Following two years of community engagement, Snøhetta and DIALOG have released the final design for their competition-winning New Central Library in Calgary. Planned for a vibrant intersection between Downtown Calgary and the East Village, the new library aims to fulfill the city’s vision for a “technologically advanced public space for innovation, research and collaboration.”
Last week, the five teams competing for the Presidio Parkland project in San Francisco unveiled their proposals in a public meeting at the project site. The parkland, made possible by the replacement of an elevated highway by a new tunnel, will command stunning views of the San Francisco bay, including views of the Golden Gate bridge.
“This is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to create and design new parklands,” Executive Director of the Presidio Trust Craig said. “We are extremely pleased with the caliber of the work of the five design teams and look forward to hearing the public’s feedback on these early concepts.”
Competing for the prestigious project are James Corner Field Operations, OLIN with Olson Kundig Architects, Snøhetta with Hood Design Studio, West 8, and CMG Landscape Architecture. A winner will be announced in January.
Read on after the break to see all five proposals
The European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture - Mies van der Rohe Award is one of the most important and prestigious prizes for architecture within Europe. First established in 1987, the prize is awarded every two years, and a look at the projects over the years offers unique insight into the development of architecture across Europe. To better understand the significance and uniqueness of the award we spoke with two previous award winners – Kjetil Trædal Thorsen and Craig Dykers from Snøhetta and Dominique Perrault from Dominique Perrault Architecture – as well as Peter Cachola Schmal, an architect, critic and the director of DAM, the German Architecture Musuem, and Josep Lluís Mateo of Mateo Arquitectura and a professor of Architecture and Projects at ETH-Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule/ Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich.
“This is the special thing about the Mies jury, that they do visit the top 5 projects, and see first-hand what this piece of architecture is about. And then they vote, which means the jury really knows what they’re voting about,” Peter Cachola Schmal noted.
“It’s a prize for a project, rather than a prize for an architect,” Kjetil Trædal Thorsen added.
Read on after the break for more on the Mies van der Rohe award and to see what the architects had to say about the importance of archives…
If you like magazines, then you’ll love this: the New Yorker, celebrating their recent redesign, have made their archive free for a limited period only. And, making up for their hiatus as they wait for a redesign of their own, Places Journal has gone to the effort of rounding up the best architecture reads from the last few years. Here are our top three:
Set to open to the public on Wednesday after a highly controversial and contested journey from idea to reality, the September 11 Memorial Museum has inevitably been a talking point among critics this week. The museum by Davis Brody Bond occupies the space between the Memorial Plaza at ground level and the bedrock below, with an angular glass pavilion by Snøhetta providing an entrance from above. A long ramp, designed to recall the access ramp with which tons of twisted metal was excavated from the site, descends to the exhibits which sit within the perimeter boundaries of the twin towers’ foundations, underneath the suspended volumes of Michael Arad‘s memorial fountains.
The content of the museum is obviously fraught with painful memories, and the entrance pavilion occupies a privileged position as the only surface level structure ground zero, in opposition to the great voids of the memorial itself. The discussion at the opening of the museum was therefore always going to center on whether the design of the museum – both its built form and the exhibitions contained – were sensitive and appropriate enough for this challenging brief. Read the critics’ takes on the results after the break.
Today marked the ceremonially opening of the National September 11 Memorial Museum. Set to officially open to the public next Wednesday (May 21), the subterranean museum has already made headlines for its emotional 70 foot decent to the bedrock of the World Trade Center Towers.
Prior to entering the museum’s interior, visitors must first walk past the footprints of the Twin Towers, commemorated by Handel Architects’ cascading granite voids, before entering a Snøhetta-designed stainless steel and glass pavilion that is the museum’s entrance.
As Snøhetta’s founding partner, Craig Dyker describes, the pavilion’s main purpose is to serve as the “threshold between the everyday life of the city and the uniquely spiritual quality of the Memorial.”
More about the pavilion from the architects, after the break…
San Francisco’s Presidio Trust isn’t giving up. After rejecting three shortlisted schemes earlier this year that envisioned a “cultural institution of distinction” for the underdeveloped Crissy Field, the Trust has now invited five new teams to envision “kid-friendly” plans for a 13 acre portion of the site.
The five teams, which include James Corner Field Operations, Olson Kundig Architects and Snøhetta, are expected to present their ideas publicly in just three months. A winner will not be selected, though each team will receive $25,000 for their efforts. However, the Trust will be inclined to work with one of the teams should their concepts “dazzle” the audience.
A complete list of the five teams and more project information, after the break…
Australian developer CBUS Property has invited four pairs of Australian and internationally-renowned architectural practices to compete to design an office complex at a 6,000 square meter site in downtown Melbourne, Australia where the National Mutual Plaza currently stands.
See the full shortlist after the break.
Snøhetta’s $55 million redesign — bounded by Broadway and 7th Avenue between 42nd and 47th streets — creates an uninterrupted and cohesive surface, reinforcing the square’s iconic role as an outdoor stage for entertainment, culture and urban life.
Learn more after the break…
As part of their annual research for the World Architecture Top 100, Building Design (BD) has compiled a list of which architects are most admired by their colleagues from across the globe. Last year’s results were somewhat predictable, with Foster + Partners leading and Renzo Piano’s Building Workshop and Herzog + de Meuron close behind. According to BD, “this year saw a trend towards more commercial names.”
This year’s “most admired” list includes:
The search is over: DIALOG and Snøhetta have been selected from a shortlist of four to design a new central library in the Canadian city of Calgary. Planned for a prime location adjacent to City Hall, the 280,000 square foot “landmark” will “strengthen the fabric of community life by weaving East Village, the original heart of Calgary, back into the story of Centre City.” Once complete in 2018, the new library will serve over 140,000 workers and students who travel downtown every day.
Four shortlisted teams have been asked to design proposals for a new central library in the Canadian city of Calgary. 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 Calgary. The four shortlisted teams include:
The Louisiana Channel at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark shared with us their video, titled ‘Snøhetta – Memories of Architectural Landscapes,’ which captures the inner and outer landscapes of Snøhetta. The 30-minute tour features one of the heads behind it all – Norwegian architect Kjetil T. Thorsen, who reflects upon some of Snøhetta’s major landmarks such as the Alexandria Library, the opera house in Oslo and The 9/11 Memorial Pavilion on Ground Zero in New York.
From the very beginning in the 1980′s, Snøhetta’s architecture has been inspired by landscapes, both natural and urban. ”Landscapes are a massive force”, says Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, co-founder and director of Snøhetta: “And they are masterpieces, which architects can be inspired by.” To view more of Snøhetta’s work, please visit here.