Karen Cilento


Skidome Denmark / CEBRA

Skidome Denmark / CEBRA  - Featured Image

Our friends from CEBRA just shared the news of their next endeavor for designing a skidome in Randers, Denmark. Serving as more than a series of complex slopes for those to enjoy, the project will become the largest skidome in the world. When viewed in isolation, the massing’s gentle curves and minimalistic exterior treatment read as a subtle strategy to incorporate the slopes; yet, only when seen at the city scale does the project’s 1,000,000+ sqf (including a hotel, restaurant and shops) allow the viewer to understand the project’s potential urban presence.

More after the break. 

Haus am Weinberg / UNStudio

Haus am Weinberg / UNStudio - Image 16 of 4
© UNStudio. Photography by Iwan Baan.

Our friends from UNStudio shared their latest completed residential project, a villa nestled on the outskirts of Stuttgart that offers amazing vistas over country vineyards which are juxtaposed with cityscape panoramas. The sinuous curves of Haus am Weinberg are governed by the idea of creating a “twist” which organizes the programmatic flow of the residence. Ben van Berkel explained, “The Haus am Weinberg adopts a stereovisual spatial effect, acting almost as an optical instrument, whereby not a parallax view, but a parallax experience is created. Moments of parity with the surrounding landscape from inside the house form a constant experiential connection and awareness of its immediate context.”

More after the break, including a great photography set by Iwan Baan.

Between Books and Trees / JAJA

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Our friends from JAJA shared their latest proposal, which was awarded third prize, for a new public library in Daegu, South Korea. Pushing the boundary of the notion that a library must be a contained, quiet and nearly isolated space, JAJA’s proposal treats the library as massive public zone for the fostering of communal creativity, and dissolves the separation between inside and nature. JAJA, typically noted for their form making abilities, have opted for a minimialistic formal language of the architecture, so that the streamlined library can capture the textures of the existing trees and the books within to create a cohesive experience that celebrates both.

More, including images, drawings and model photos, after the break.

MAS Summit 2012

MAS Summit 2012 - Featured Image

The Municipal Art Society of New York is preparing for their third annual Summit which will feature nearly 100 talks pertaining to architecture and urbanism. Beginning October 18th, the two day event at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall will bring together elected officials, designers and innovators to share their thoughts on how New York can maintain its global-leadership position while remaining a livable environment for all its inhabitants.

More after the break. 

Update: MOCA / Farshid Moussavi

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© Dean Kaufman/Courtesy MOCA Cleveland

Just a short time since its public opening celebration, Farshid Moussavi’s Museum of Contemporary Art is already a dynamic hub of activity for the city of Cleveland. A three-day festival in early October welcomed museum members, out-of-town guests and the general public with a series of art installations, music and entertainment, to showcase the city’s newest icon. Moussavi joined in the festivities and was honored for her sleek faceted form at the museum’s three-tiered party. Although we have been following the progress of the project since its conceptual phases, we have yet to see what the mysterious black cube has to offer in terms of interior gallery spaces and public gathering zones… until now! Check out a great series of interior photos plus beautiful exterior photos by photographers Dean Kaufman and Duane Prokop to compliment our set from the summer time.

More after the break. 

Villa Village / Visiondivision

Villa Village / Visiondivision - Image 7 of 4
© Visiondivision

Our Swedish friends from Visiondivision are back with their latest residential project for a family in Tampere, Finland - an extension that offers a quirky departure from a traditional “addition” as the architecture provides an entire “village” of units to meet optimal flexibility and potential. The village idea offers an interesting structure for the clients to inhabit and one that can be experienced in a variety of ways to inspire the residents during their everyday activities.

More after the break. 

Update: +Pool / Family + PlayLab

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Over a year has passed since we first introduced you to the ideas of Family and PlayLab for a floating riverpool in New York’s East River. Since that time, the proposal has generated a lot of interest, and reached major milestones, such as completing a primarily testing of the filtration membranes to find the most effective methods to provide clean and safe riverwater for the public to swim in. With an opening date set for 2015, the ambitious project seeks to improve the city’s natural resources by taking advantage of clean water to safely create a new kind of urbanistic public haven.

Early last week, the team celebrated the beginning of a six-month campaign to raise the first $1 million toward swimming in a clean river.  The campaign funds will go toward the design and engineering of +POOL so that it can obtain the required city and state permits, as well as support a prototype and public pavilion to fully test the + POOL filtration system.

More after the break. 

New NYC Zoning / Midtown East

New NYC Zoning / Midtown East - Featured Image
42nd Street and Park Avenue, New York. Photo by Anomalous_A via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons

New York’s Mayor Bloomberg is pushing for an updated zoning code for Midtown Manhattan which will affect the blocks around Grand Central Terminal and the Chrysler Building, and north toward the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and Lever House. This new code, called Midtown East, would replace existing building height restrictions and allow high-rise towers to soar in the 70-block area currently outfitted with older buildings of lower stature. If Midtown East is approved, developers would be able to build twice the size now permitted in the Grand Central area, bringing an estimated 16,000 employees in a neighborhood that now has 230,000 office workers.

In such a densely populated area of Manhattan, what will be the urban implication of allowing building heights to soar past their current height regulation?  While the potential to increase the real estate value is a driving force for such an initiative, will this financial gain outweigh the drawbacks of new stresses that will be placed upon existing infrastructure and city functioning?   The Bloomberg administration feels that such an initiative is needed to maintain the Grand Central area as “one of the premier business addresses”; however,  the community is not as fast to support the idea and regard the proposal as just another example of Bloomberg’s latest attempts to make his mark on the city before his years in office are through.

More after the break.

Bacardi Complex / Frank Gehry

Bacardi Complex / Frank Gehry - Featured Image
Photo by Marc Averette

Frank Gehry continues to amaze us – we recently shared the octagenarian’s vision for Zuckerberg’s expanding Facebook campus, and now the architect will tackle a master plan for Miami’s iconic Bacardi Tower and annex. Designed by Enrique Gutierrez, a collaborator of Mies van der Rohe, with amazing tile work by Brazilian artist Francisco Brennand, the Latin-infused modernist tower served as the Bacardi headquarters for nearly 50 years. Just this morning, the National YoungArts Foundation announced that it is the proud new owner of the main 8-story tower, and the “Jewel-box” 1975 annex, designed by Igancio Carrera-Justiz, with glass mosaic walls based on designs by German artist Johannes Dietz. The organization acquired the property for a steal – the Miami Herald estimates the buildings’ $10 million price tag weighs in at less than half of its market value – and is excited to make a permanent home to expand their activities.

Gehry work will not involve either of the buildings’ exteriors, which will be completely preserved, but rather, the project will include transforming the site’s parking lot into a park that will connect with a Gehry-designed performance hall just north of the existing buildings.

More after the break. 

205 Race Street / Peter Gluck & Partners

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© Gluck & Partners

Presented with the chance to make an impact on an urban skyline can be one of the most exciting opportunities for an architect, albeit one of the most stressful.   For, as much as we are driven by the project’s potential prominence, its soon-to-be visibility brings with it heavy criticism and concerns- and, rightly so.

Such is the case with Peter Gluck & Partners’ latest project for Philadelphia, 205 Race Street. Situated on the border of the Old City, the 16 story residential building has sparked debate due to its 197’6″ height – a marker that far surpasses the historic district’s height limit of 65′. Yet, the building’s positioning - immediately adjacent to the Ben Franklin Bridge and PATCO train lines – demands an architectural strategy that can remedy the site’s vastly different edge conditions.

More after the break.

Update: ABI September

Update: ABI September - Featured Image
via Calculated Risk

We are happy to share on the beginning of this working week that the Architecture Billings Index has moved into positive territory for the first time in five months! The drastic three-point leap has launched the ABI to 50.2, up from last month’s 48.4, and the new project inquiry index moved to 57.2, up from mark of 56.3. As we have reported previously, the ABI is our profession’s economic indicator and any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings. Regionally, the South leads with 52.2, followed by the West with 51.2, Northeast at 45.5, and Midwest at 45.3. In terms of architectural sectors, multi-family residential and institutional place above 50 while institutional, commercial/industrial, and mixed practice all remain above 46. “Until the economy is on firmer ground, there aren’t likely to be strong increases in demand for design services,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “In the meantime, we can expect to see design activity alternate between modest growth and modest decline.”

Recap: Imagining the Lowline / Barasch + Ramsey

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© K.Cilento

As the “Imagining the Lowlineexhibition comes to a close, we share a recap of our visit to the full-scale mockup created by Dan Barasch and James Ramsey. We have been sharing a steady stream of updates on the project, but nothing quite puts the ideas of this transformative ”urban discovery” into perspective as the ability to experience a portion of their underground public park. The two-week long exhibit in Market Building D in the Lower East Side was aimed at sharing the ideas of the Lowline with the community to hear feedback and gain support to potentially move the project forward. During our visit, we had the opportunity to speak with visitors of all different professions, backgrounds and connections to New York, to hear their first impressions of the project and to see if their support lay behind such an idea.

More after the break. 

Beaux Arts Ball 2012: Tender

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© K. Cilento

This past weekend, we were invited to attend The Architectural League’s Beaux Arts Ball 2012: Tender at One Hanson Place. Despite the unforgiving weather forecast, hundreds came to share in an evening of great company set within the beautiful 1929 Halsey, McCormack & Helmer’s landmark Williamsburgh Savings Bank. In typical architectural fashion, the former main banking hall was a complete sea of chic black outfits (okay, okay, there were a few dashes of color), underneath a silver pillow-like floating installation designed by SOFTlab.

More after the break.

Piano's Progress

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© Renzo Piano Building Workshop

In honor of Renzo Piano’s 75th (gasp!) birthday, we offer an update on his latest projects. The septuagenarian has several large-scale works in various stages of construction scattered across the world, and has celebrated the opening of others within this past year. While we have been continuously following the conceptualization, construction and completion of the Shard, Renzo’s talent is sweeping across major cities both in the States and Europe, including: a satellite museum in New York; a cultural hub for Athens; an urban cultural catalyst for Santander, Spain; an interior renovation for Los Angeles; a recently completed museum wing for Boston; plus, a redeveloped brownfield site turned science center for Trento, Italy. No matter the project location, scale, or program, Piano’s ability to craft an architecture with a sense of lightness, strong attention to detail and overall aesthetic elegance sets him in a very particular category of the profession.

So, here’s to a happy 75th and 75 more years of great architecture, Renzo!

More after the break.

9/11 Retrospective / A Family Picture of the Freedom Tower

9/11 Retrospective / A Family Picture of the Freedom Tower    - Image 12 of 4
September 2001 © R. Cilento

The Twin Towers had a profound presence in my life.  I would greet them every morning, watching the sunlight dance across their facades, and, in the evening, I would search for patterns in the office lights that never seemed to fade.  As a child, I would stand at the base of the towers and crane my neck in an effort to see the very top where the towers met the sky, trying not to stumble backward onto the stone of the plaza, mesmerized by their dizzying height and stoic duality.

I was in science class in the 6th grade when the towers were hit.

And, so began the quest of what would fill the emotional and physical gap left in my city.  But, my focus today, on this day of remembrance, is the progress that has been made at the site and the promise for its future.

Bulowsvej / CEBRA

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Our friends from CEBRA shared the latest on their newest education building. After being awarded first prize for their proposal, CEBRA has created a school organized by three bands that respond to functional needs of the building. These bands are manifested in a visual manner throughout the school, providing a recognizable way-finder for the children and flexibility for the school’s functions and pedagogical principles.

More after the break. 

Taking the Long Road

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In an article published by the New York Times, Philip Nobel laments the time taken to construct architecture. As architects, we have the passion to shape space and craft environments. For most, that translates into physically constructing such visions, but the path from drawing board (or computer screen) to realization is often times a long and arduous path.

In the past few years, such difficult financial times have challenged architects to fight for their buildings; namely, asking the designer to find ways to make the buildings work – whether with a changed material palette, smaller footprint, or shortened height.  Yet, apart from finances, we’ve also reported dozens of projects which narrowly clear other obstacles, such as attaining community consent.  And, of course, we have seen scores of great awarded competition proposals that do not incur the same luck, and slowly dwindle to non-existence.

One of our favorite parts of ArchDaily is our InProgress section, where we keep track of the progression of the original architectural vision through actuality. After the break, we share a few projects that haven’t had the most direct route through completion. Let us know in the comments below your thoughts on which project you’ve been waiting to see complete.

Himmelhagen / Snøhetta

Himmelhagen / Snøhetta - Featured Image

Norwegian-based architecture firm, Snøhetta, has just been announced the winner for the Ordrupgaard competition to design an underground extension to the existing museum in Denmark. In addition to the necessary gallery space to hold the Ordrupgaard’s expanding French collection, Snøhetta’s proposal creates a new solution for landscape and building integration. By adapting existing buildings, and adding landscape elements, the proposal maintains the existing entrance to the building, designed by Zaha Hadid, and creates a circulation new route which the public comfortably flow through as they visit the different exhibition halls. Hadid’s building was originally conceived as a continuous flow of spaces between building, galleries, and gardens, so Snøhetta’s newest addition will build upon such a foundation.