Reviewing ‘Urban Hopes’: A Look at Steven Holl’s Latest in China

A view of the Sliced Porosity Block in Chengdu. Image © Shu He

In this article originally published by Metropolis Magazine as “Urban Hopes, Urban Dreams“, Samuel Medina reviews a new book on the work of in China. Focusing on five major projects, the book places Holl’s work in the wider context of his urbanistic influences – including ideas from his own early paper architecture that are just now resurfacing.

Steven Holl is the rare architect whose concepts are equally known as his buildings. Chalk that up to Holl’s prolific output, in both buildings and monographs, and his knack for branding his ideas. Urban Hopes: Made in China (Lars Müller, 2014), a condensed reader on Holl’s latest work in China, is the latest in a stream of small books that have continually repackaged the architect’s growing body of work. 

Anchoring and Intertwining appeared in 1996 and expounded on architectural themes and spatial notions only partially evinced by his work up until that time. In both, the buildings were few and far between, scattered between pages imprinted with “paper architecture,” the primary outlet for Holl’s creative energies in the prior decades since his move to New York in 1976. These and more titles were followed up by Parallax in 2000, a blend of philosophical, scientific, and poetic references that invest the architecture with the aura of the Gesamtkunstwerk. Holl’s idea of “porosity” made its debut here, if prematurely, where it was applied rather literally to Simmons Hall at MIT and its sponge-like facade. It wasn’t until a few years later, when the architect first got his feet wet in China, that the concept would be baptised as a core tenet of 21st-century urban design. 2009’s Urbanisms advances as much, while further recapitulating the big ideas of the previous book installments.

Read on after the break for the review of Urban Hopes

Seona Reid Building / Steven Holl Architects

© Iwan Baan

Architects: Steven Holl Architects
Location: The Glasgow School of Art, 167 Renfrew Street, Glasgow, Glasgow City G3 6RQ
Partners In Charge: Chris McVoy, Noah Yaffe
Project Architect: Dominik Sigg
Area: 11250.0 sqm
Year: 2014
Photographs: Iwan Baan, Chris McVoy

Material Inspiration: 10 Projects Inspired by Glass

To celebrate the launch of ArchDaily Materials, our new product catalog, we’ve rounded up 10 awesome projects from around the world that were inspired by one material: . Check out the projects after the break…

City in a City: a Decade of Urban Thinking by Steven Holl Architects Exhibition

Sliced Porosity Block / Steven Holl Architects

The MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House in presents City in a City: a Decade of Urban Thinking by Steven Holl Architects. The exhibition opens with a reception and panel discussion on Wednesday, January 29, and Steven Holl will give a public lecture on Thursday evening, January 30. The exhibition runs through March 9, 2014.

This new exhibition of the work of Steven Holl Architects presents six urban projects in China, designed with particular focus on shaping public space, natural green strategies, hybrid programs, structure and light. Included are three built works: Linked Hybrid in Beijing, Vanke Center/Horizontal Skyscraper in Shenzhen, and Sliced Porosity Block in Chengdu, as well as three yet to be built works: Porosity Plan in Dongguan, Eco-City in , and the Qingdao Culture and Art Center. Concept watercolors of each building will be on view along with project models and construction documents. Also featured are short videos of the built works. The exhibition is arranged chronologically from 2002-2013 through the rooms of the Schindler House, making physical the journey through a decade of thinking.

Steven Holl Wins Competition for Qingdao Culture and Art Center

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Steven Holl Architects has been selected as winner, besting OMA and Zaha Hadid Architects, in an invited competition for the new Culture and Art Center of City. Located in the heart of ’s new extension, which is planned for a population of 700,000, the two million-square-foot winning proposal features a conglomerate of four art museums situated amongst a landscape of reflecting pools and gardens which are all connected by a continuous “Light Loop” that moves visitors throughout the site.

Read on for the architect’s description…

Arts Building for University of Iowa / Steven Holl Architects

Courtesy of Architects

More than three years ago we reported that Steven Holl Architects and BNIM Architects won the commission to design a new art studio facility for the University of Iowa (UI) Arts campus. Today the building has officially broken ground and entered the construction phase. The new Visual Arts Building will replace the original arts building from 1936, which was heavily damaged during flooding in 2008. It will be directly adjacent to and northwest of Art Building West, an earlier, award-winning Steven Holl design.

Keep reading for more on the new building’s design.

Video: Steven Holl on Columbia University’s Campbell Sports Center

Legendary American architect Steven Holl has collaborated again with Spirit of Space to produce two short on the recently completed Campbell Sports Center in City. While always compelling to hear an architect discuss a project, these videos integrate the architect’s narration with different dynamic shots of the building’s detail and context, thus truly immersing the viewer in the project.

The first video (above) features Steven Holl and senior partner Chris McVoy explaining the project’s inspiration, design concept and program; simultaneously, the filmmakers take us into the space and show how the new athletic facility is being used by the student athletes. The second, shorter, video (after the break) shows the building in the city, revealing the fascinatingly complex relationship between the passing subway cars, the field hockey players, the movement of shadows and the building itself.

See the second video, after the break…

Video: Existential Sensitivity / Jeffrey Kipnis and Steven Holl

In this fascinating conversation, critic and theorist Jeffrey Kipnis and architect Steven Holl discuss modern architecture, from competitions to cantilevers, courtesy of our friends at 32BNY.

Campbell Sports Center / Steven Holl Architects

© Iwan Baan

Architects: Steven Holl Architects
Location: Campbell Sports Center, , Manhattan, NY 10034, USA
Design Architects: , Chris McVoy
Partner In Charge: Chris McVoy
Associate In Charge: Olaf Schmidt
Project Team: Marcus Carter, Christiane Deptolla, Peter Englaender, Runar Halldorsson, Jackie Luk, Filipe Taboada, Dimitra Tsachrelia, Ebbie Wisecarver
Area: 4459.0 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Iwan Baan, Chris McVoy

Architecture City Guide: Beirut

© Flickr User Omar Chatriwala

Following a brutal 15-year civil war that tore the city apart, has recovered remarkably; it was voted the number one destination to visit by the New York Times in 2009, and, more recently, received a similar title by Frommer’s. The city is in the second phase of one of the biggest urban reconstruction projects in the world, run by Solidere, which has brought architects like Steven Holl, Herzog & DeMeuron, Zaha Hadid, Vincent James, and Rafael Moneo to the local scene. In less internationalized parts of the city sit the landmarks of the 1960s and 1970s, Beirut’s pre-war glory days, including buildings by names such as Alvar Aalto, Victor Gruen, and the Swiss Addor & Julliard. With a city growing as fast as Beirut it is impossible to have a final city guide, so we look forward to hearing your suggestions and building on this over the years.

Photos and a map of Beirut’s most exciting buildings after the break…

Fusing Architecture and Music: Philip Kennicott On the Inspiration Behind Steven Holl’s Daeyang Gallery and House for Dwell

A watercolor by architect was an early step toward translating an obscure musical score by István Anhalt into a new home and gallery in Seoul, South Korea © Iwan Baan

Awarded yesterday with the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for criticism, Philip Kennicott has built an honorable reputation as a art and architecture critic for Washington Post’s Style section. One of his most recent works, Music Holl: A Copper Clad Pavilion - exclusively published in Dwell’s May Issue Global Style - recounts the inspiration behind Steven Holl’s award-winning Daeyang Gallery and House in Seoul. 

Designed as an experiment on “the architectonics of music,” the basic geometry of the Daeyang Gallery and House was inspired by Istvan Anhalt’s 1967 ‘Symphony of Modules’ – a uniquely transcribed sheet of music found in John Cage’s contemporary music compendium, Notations. Reminiscent of the “blocky and shard-like shapes” of Anhalt’s sketch, Holl’s design features three copper-clad pavilions punctured by a symphony of carefully placed, rectangular skylights that animate the interior with “bars of light”. As Kennicott describes, Holl uses music as a “powerful metaphor for the dynamic unfolding of experience” (captured in this film by Spirit of Space).

Read Kennicott’s Music Holl: A Copper Clad Pavilion in its entirety here on Dwell. Continue after the break to compare Steven Holl’s Daeyang sketch above with Anhalt’s ‘Symphony of Modules’.

INVERSION Installation at INTERNI Magazine’s Hybrid Architecture Exhibition

© Chris McVoy

As part of INTERNI’s Hybrid Architecture Exhibition event, Steven Holl Architects will be opening their ‘INVERSION’ installation tomorrow, April 9th, in Milan. In addition,  will deliver a lecture in the Aula Magna of the Università degli Studi di Milano at 10am. Shown in the Cortile 700 of the Università degli Studi di Milano, the installation features six void-cut, 21 million year old limestone blocks, which frame a sheet of water. The process, beginning with a 5”x7” watercolor sketch in City, which is transformed into a 3D file and then sent to Lecce, required no working drawings. More information on their installation after the break.

Steven Holl in Milan

© Architects

On April 9, Steven Holl Architects is preparing to open the installation INVERSION, presented as part of Interni’s Hybrid Architecture exhibition event organized on occasion of the FuoriSalone 2013, during Design Week in .

Two Short Films Capture the Essence of Steven Holl Architects’ Sliced Porosity Block

Architects collaborated with Spirit of Space to create two short films that capture the essence of ’s newest sustainable micro-city: Sliced Porosity Block. Shaped by the distribution of natural light, this multi-use complex of five sun-carved concrete towers defines itself by the formation of three large public valleys that, not only supports a hybrid of different functions, but anchors the building into the surrounding urban fabric.

View an intimate account of these poetic spaces in the film above and then discover the ideas that inspired them in a conversation with Steven Holl below. The interview also includes an exclusive take on Holl’s post-completion thoughts of Lebbeus Woods’ last built installation: the Light Pavilion.

More information and images of Sliced Porosity Block can be found here on ArchDaily. 

Steven Holl Architects to design Kennedy Center Expansion

Courtesy of

Steven Holl Architects have been selected to design a new, 60,000 square foot addition to the prestigious John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. The $100 million project, which will be lead by Steven Holl and senior partner Chris McVoy, is envisioned as three connected pavilions clad in translucent Okalux, glass, and Carrara marble, the material used on the original 1970s building designed by famed American architect .

Located mostly below grade on the south side of the existing facility, the protruding structures will be embedded within a lush landscape of public gardens. To the west, one pavilion will extend over the Potomac River, offering an outdoor stage at the water’s edge. The expansion will compliment the existing performance center with new classrooms, rehearsal and multipurpose rooms, along with lecture and office space. Both the new and the old will be directly connected underground and through the main plaza. A formal design will be refined and announced in the coming months.

More images and information on the Kennedy Center expansion after the break.

Sliced Porosity Block / Steven Holl Architects, by Hufton + Crow

© Hufton + Crow

With much awaited anticipation, Steven Holl‘s Sliced Porosity Block in , has just been completed. Forming giant public plazas with a mix of various functions, the group of five towers is intended to be seen as more of a public area despite its towering design as already witnessed in the site. Its sun sliced geometry results from required minimum daylight exposures to the surrounding urban fabric prescribed by code and calculated by the precise geometry of sun angles. The large public space framed by the block is formed into three valleys inspired by a poem of Du Fu (713-770). In some of the porous openings chunks of different buildings are inserted.

We have already brought you images of the project as it was under way, but the latest images from Hufton + Crow truly capture this inviting  public realm in the heart of this metropolis like no one else!

Check out all the latest images of Steven Holl’s Sliced Porosity Block after the break.

Steven Holl Architects complete Sun-shaped Micro-City in Chengdu

© Iwan Baan

Four years after breaking ground, Steven Holl Architects have completed the Sliced Porosity Block in the heart of Chengdu, China. Rather than being designed as object-icon , the three million square foot complex identifies itself as a metropolitan public space with large plazas and a hybrid of different functions. The five towers stimulate a micro urbanism by offering offices, serviced apartments, retail, a hotel, cafes, and restaurants.

More on Steven Holl’s Sliced Porosity Block after the break.

Tianjin Ecocity Ecology and Planning Museums / Steven Holl Architects

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Rising from the reclaimed salt pan and polluted tide flats of Bohai Bay, China, a new city designed for 350,000 inhabitants is being constructed from scratch. The ambitious project is being realized as a collaboration between the governments of Singapore and China with an overarching goal of becoming a poster-city for state-of-the-art sustainable aspects.

With nearly a third of this new “Eco-City” of built and substantial completion projected for 2020, the internationally renowned practice Steven Holl Architects has been commissioned to design the first two buildings in the city’s cultural district: the Tianjin Ecocity Ecology and Planning Museums. Like the Chinese “Bau Gua” or “Yin Yang,” these forms are in reverse relations, as the Ecology Museum is the “additive” complement to the “subtractive” space of the Planning Museum.

Learn more about Holl’s design after the break.