Following a brutal 15-year civil war that tore the city apart, Beirut 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 Describes the Inspiration Behind Steven Holl’s Daeyang Gallery and House
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 in Seoul 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).
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, Steven Holl 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 New York 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.
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 Milan.
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.
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.
With much awaited anticipation, Steven Holl‘s Sliced Porosity Block in Chengdu, China 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.
Four years after breaking ground, Steven Holl Architects’ have completed the Sliced Porosity Block in the heart of Chengdu, China. Located at the intersection of the first Ring Road and Ren Ming Nam Road, visitors are able to access the three million square foot complex without using private transport means as it is directly connected to Chengdu’s public transportation system. Stimulating a micro urbanism, the five towers offer offices, serviced apartments, retail, a hotel, cafes, and restaurants. Rather than being designed as object-icon skyscrapers, the Sliced Porosity Block identifies itself as a metropolitan public space with large plazas and a hybrid of different functions.
More on Steven Holl’s Sliced Porosity Block after the break.
Steven Holl Architects just celebrated the pre-opening of the Sliced Porosity Block-CapitaLand Raffles City in Chengdu, China with a visit of the Prime Minister of Singapore. Creating a metropolitan public space instead of object-icon skyscrapers, this three million sq ft. project takes its shape from its distribution of natural light. The required minimum sunlight exposures to the surrounding urban fabric prescribe precise geometric angles that slice the exoskeletal concrete frame of the structure. The full expected completion is set for this fall. More images and architects’ description after the break.
This year, the American Institute of Architects conferred its highest honor – the AIA Gold Medal – upon Steven Holl. I had the opportunity to talk with Steven about his sources of inspiration, a mid-career enlightenment, and his recent recognition as one of the most celebrated “American” architects.
Andrew Caruso: Balancing your practice with teaching and art is clearly a part of the designer we know you to be. How do these explorations shape your design point of view?
Steven Holl: Every project is unique: a site and a circumstance, a culture, a climate, a program. All of these forces are unique and you need a concept to hold the manifold pieces together, an idea that makes the project significant in its place and for its purpose. That is always the way I begin projects.
Created by the architectural filmmakers from Spirit of Space, the first video takes you on a tour through the “miniature utopia” of the Daeyang Gallery & House. Although the notion of music plays as an underlining theme throughout the design, Holl encourages visitors to focus on the feelings that arise as the body moves through the space. He believes that “architecture can change the way you feel, like music… it can bring you into another world.”
Recently, we visited the Meulensteen gallery to hear an update on Steven Holl’s latest project in Virginia - the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University. Slated for completion in 2015, the project was presented in a series of Holl’s trademark watercolors and models, complete with a slideshow given by project architect Dimitra Tsachrelia who previously worked on the Glasgow School of Art for the firm. As we shared earlier, the project’s formal gestures are a reaction to its site context along the busy intersection of Richmond at Broad and Belvidere, with the intention to create an open gateway with a building that forks in the X-Y direction to illustrate the “non-linear” path of art, and torques in the Z direction to shape a dynamic volume of circulation. Although the weather was quite unforgiving, those who packed into the gallery enjoyed Tsachrelia’s friendly demeanor as she walked us through the process and progress of the project.
More about the event after the break.
Steven Holl Architects have just unveiled Virginia Commonwealth University’s new Institute for Contemporary Art. With an inviting sense of openness, the building will form a gateway into the University, linking the city of Richmond to the campus. A dynamic architectural promenade will connect the building’s most important spaces, engaging visitors in a variety of changing perspectives. Flexible spaces throughout the building will be capable of accommodating a vast assortment of exhibitions and performances.
Continue after the break for more images and the architect’s project description.
After Mayor Bloomberg, Cornell President Skorton and Technion President Lavie announced Cornell’s victory over Stanford to build an eleven acre state-of-the-art tech campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City, the team has now tackled their next step in choosing six high-profile architecture firms competing to design the schools first academic facility.
Selected from over more than 40 firms from the U.S. and abroad, the finalists include Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), Morphosis Architects, Steven Holl Architects and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. Continue reading for more information.
Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the leading cultural institution of the region, has recently selected Steven Holl Architects to design a new museum building to support its collections, exhibitions, and various educational programs. After a comprehensive international competition, MFAH asked Steven Holl, Snøhetta, and Morphosis to develop site-specific concepts for the planned expansion. The jury unanimously chose Holl as his strong portfolio of built museums, such as the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the recently finished Cité de l’Océan et du Surf, display a sense of elegance and clarity much desired by the MFAH.
More about the museum after the break.
In the beginning of December, we shared the news of Steven Holl‘s 2012 AIA Gold Medal award; a prestigious honor given to those who continually push the field forward with their “humanist approach to formal experimentation.” A few short weeks later, Holl’s Cité de l’Océan et du Surf (translated to Museum of Ocean and Surf) has received a 2011 Annual Design Review Award. This new museum in Biarritz, France is a collaborative effort with Solange Fabião and has attracted international attention for its spatial duality of crafting an atmosphere “under the sky” and “under the sea”.
More about the award after the break.
A few months ago I had the chance to meet Steven Holl, whose work I admire. I think that he has been able to innovate and challenge programs as we used to know them, and experiment with materials and structures, while sticking to what really matters in architecture: space, context and light.