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Bart Bryant-Mole

Bart is a UK-based architectural writer and photographer, with a particular interest in British Modernist architecture.


AD Classics: New Museum / SANAA

This article was originally published on July 22, 2016. To read the stories behind other celebrated architecture projects, visit our AD Classics section.

The New Museum is the product of a daring vision to establish a radical, politicized center for contemporary art in New York City. With the aim of distinguishing itself from the city’s existing art institutions through a focus on emerging artists, the museum’s name embodies its pioneering spirit. Over the two decades following its foundation in 1977, it gained a strong reputation for its bold artistic program, and eventually outgrew its inconspicuous home in a SoHo loft. Keen to establish a visual presence and to reach a wider audience, in 2003 the Japanese architectural firm SANAA was commissioned to design a dedicated home for the museum. The resulting structure, a stack of rectilinear boxes which tower over the Bowery, would be the first and, thus far, the only purpose-built contemporary art museum in New York City.[1]

© Laurian Ghinitoiu© Laurian Ghinitoiu© Laurian Ghinitoiu© Laurian Ghinitoiu+ 30

AD Classics: Park Hill Estate / Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith

From its hilltop vantage point in the east end of Sheffield, UK, the Park Hill Estate surveys the post-industrial city which sprawls westwards. Its prominent location makes the estate highly visible and it has, over time, become engrained in the popular consciousness – a part of the fabric of the city. Although today it divides opinion, following its completion in 1961 it was hailed as an exemplary model for social housing. Designed by architects Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith under the supervision of Sheffield’s visionary City Architect John Lewis Womersley, the estate now stands as testament to an era when young British architects were revolutionizing the field of residential architecture with radical housing programs.

The Park Hill Estate was part of Womersley’s strategy to introduce more high-density housing to Sheffield, which he believed would foster a stronger sense of community than the ubiquitous back-to-back terraces.[1] This policy went hand in hand with an urgent need for slum clearance; The Park, a slum so notorious for its high crime rate that it was known locally as ‘Little Chicago,’ was demolished to make way for the estate.

After renovation. Image © Paul Dobraszczyk© Paul Dobraszczyk© Paul Dobraszczyk© Paul Dobraszczyk+ 17

AD Classics: Millennium Dome / Richard Rogers (RSHP)

In 1994, with the third millennium fast approaching, the British announced a national festival to mark the year 2000. Amid a new sense of optimism, the year-long festival, which became known as the Millennium Experience, would take the form of an exhibition celebrating “who we are, what we do, and where we live.” Under the project direction of Mike Davies, a partner of Richard Rogers’ practice (known today as RSHP) designed the Millennium Dome to house this exhibition.

In an extraordinary feat of architecture and engineering, the vast dome, whose canopy encompasses a volume of 2.2million cubic meters, sped from initial concept design to topping out in only two years. Although the Millennium Experience closed its doors as the year 2000, the building which housed it has since been put to a variety of uses, its durability largely due to Richard Rogers’ characteristically flexible design.

An elevated walkway inside the dome  (licensed under CC-BY-2.0)A steel strut pierces the canopy of the dome  (licensed under CC-BY-2.0)Two cyclindrical service towers stand adjacent to the dome  (licensed under CC-BY-2.0)The 'Body Zone'  (licensed under CC-BY-2.0)+ 8

AD Classics: Museo de Arte de Ponce / Edward Durell Stone

Among the dignitaries in attendance at the dedication ceremony of the Museo de Arte de Ponce (MAP) in Puerto Rico was Roberto Sánchez Vilella. In his capacity as Governor of the island, he gave a tongue-in-cheek speech[1] directed at his political opponent and founder of the museum, Luis A. Ferré:

I feel that I have contributed, in my small way, to the building of this museum. Had I not defeated Luis Ferré in the election, he would not have had sufficient leisure time to devote to this cultural project.

© Mary Ann Sullivan© Mary Ann Sullivan© Mary Ann Sullivan© Mary Ann Sullivan+ 15

AD Classics: Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building / Kenzō Tange

The career of Japanese architect Kenzō Tange features a curious anomaly: he received the same commission twice. In 1952, during the early stages of his career, Tange designed an administrative building in Yūrakuchō, Tokyo, for the city's metropolitan government. Over thirty years later, when the government relocated to Shinjuku, Tokyo, he again won the commission to design its administrative building. Completed in 1991, this would be one of his last, and most ambitious, projects. The second incarnation now dominates the city’s skyline, its highly distinctive design guaranteeing it landmark status. Nicknamed Tochō (an abbreviation of its Japanese name Tōkyō-to Chōsha), its architectural references to both tradition and modernity act as a visual metaphor for the eclectic city over which its inhabitants govern.

No.1 BuildingNo.2 BuildingElevation of No.1 Building (Public Domain)Plan of the Complex (Public Domain)+ 12

AD Classics: Glucksman Gallery / O’Donnell + Tuomey

“The annals say: when the monks of Clonmacnoise / Were all at prayers inside the oratory / A ship appeared above them in the air. / The anchor dragged along behind so deep / It hooked itself into the altar rails.”[1]

These words by Irish poet Seamus Heaney have had a profound impact on the work of architects Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey, who cited the poem as one of their inspirations for the Glucksman Gallery – an exhibition space commissioned by the University of Cork in the early millennium. Named for its patron Lewis Glucksman (a Wall Street trader and philanthropist), the Glucksman Gallery was completed in 2005 and nominated for the Stirling Prize that same year. Thanks to its outstanding site-specific design, the building has since become one of the most celebrated works of contemporary Irish architecture.

© Alice Clancy© Alice Clancy© Alice Clancy© Alice Clancy+ 22

AD Classics: Bharat Bhavan / Charles Correa

In the late 1970s, the Government of India launched an initiative to build in every state capital an institution to celebrate the cultural and creative output of the nation. Although the scheme was largely unsuccessful, one shining example remains: Bharat Bhavan (‘India House’), located in Bhopal.

Designed by Indian architectural luminary Charles Correa, this multi-arts center first opened its doors in 1982. More than thirty years later, it continues to house a variety of cultural facilities and play host to multitude of arts events. The design of the complex is a product of Correa’s mission to establish a modern architectural style specific to India and distinct from European Modernism. Drawing on the plentiful source material provided by the rich architectural heritage of his home country, at Bharat Bhavan Correa produced a building for the modern era which manages to also remain firmly rooted in the vernacular traditions of India’s past.

© Charles Correa Foundation© Charles Correa Foundation© Charles Correa Foundation© Charles Correa Foundation+ 50

AD Classics: The Barbican Estate / Chamberlin, Powell and Bon Architects

On the 29th December, 1940, at the height of the Second World War, an air raid by the Luftwaffe razed a 35-acre site in the heart of the City of London to the ground. The site was known as the Barbican (a Middle English word meaning fortification), so-called for the Roman wall which once stood in the area. Following the war, the City of London Corporation—the municipal governing body for the area—started to explore possibilities to bring this historic site into the twentieth century.

© Joas Souza© Joas SouzaGilbert House piloti. Image © Joas SouzaDefoe House. Image © Joas Souza+ 28