Set to screen at the ADFF:NOLA festival, Frank Gehry: Building Justice showcases how Gehry-led student architecture studios developed proposals for more humane prisons.
Thanks to initiatives like the Art for Justice Fund, Open Society Foundations, and a slew of insightful reporting, the American criminal justice system has been under great scrutiny and pressure to reform. Some of these changes have been quite prominent—such as the increasingly-widespread decriminalization of pot and pending major federal legislation—and have faced opposition from the powerful lobbying of the private prison corporations. However, despite the depth and breadth of criminal justice reform, one critically important element has remained mostly overlooked: the design of correctional facilities.
Chandigarh, India’s modern planned city, is most commonly associated with the pioneering modernist master Le Corbusier, who conceived the radical urban plan and most of its important civic buildings. But credit is also due to the architect’s younger cousin and long-time collaborator, Pierre Jeanneret, who turned Le Corbusier’s sweeping vision into a reality. The cousins had worked extensively together, sharing a common, forward-thinking design sensibility. Appointed to senior architect, the Swiss-born Jeanneret oversaw the ambitious project on the ground and proved himself particularly skilled at connecting with the professionals and local community alike. “Effectively, he is respected like a father, liked as a brother by the fifty or so young men who have applied to work in the Architect’s Office,” wrote Corbusier in praise of his cousin.
In May last year, the Rolex Mentors & Protégés initiative announced a surprising partnership in its name: Paraguayan architect Gloria Gabral was to spend a year working alongside the famously elusive Swiss master Peter Zumthor. The differences between the two architects - from the languages they spoke to the age of their respective careers - were obvious from the outset. But as explored in this article by Paul Clemence, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Intuitive Connection," over the past year they've been discovering that the things that they have in common run far deeper.
It was an unlikely pair. He is a well-established architect with a long career, working out of a small town tucked deep in the mountainous Graubünden canton in Switzerland; she is at the beginning of a promising career in Asunción, Paraguay’s capital and largest city. They did not even share a common language, yet they connected through something more binding than the spoken word: an intuitive sense of space—and their work ethic.
In the following article, originally published on Metropolis Magazine as "Q&A: Renzo Piano", Paul Clemence talks with the Italian master of museum design about the design process and philosophies that have brought him such tremendous success in the field - from sketching, to behaving with civility, to buildings that 'fly', Piano explains what makes the perfect museum.
There's a reason why Renzo Piano is known as the master of museum design. The architect has designed 25 of them, 14 in the US alone. Few architects understand as well as Piano—along with his practice, the Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW)—what board directors, curators, and even the visiting public needs and wants in a cultural institution like a museum. When I spoke with Donna de Salvo, chief curator of the Whitney Museum of American Art, whose new downtown digs were authored by RPBW she remarked on the how the curators' input was often incorporated into the final building design. “Our curators and the architects had an ongoing dialogue throughout the design of this building," de Salvo says. "The physical needs of the art were a priority for Renzo and his team, down to the most seemingly minute detail. Our curatorial voice was central to the discussion and has given us a terrifically dynamic building, a uniquely responsive array of spaces for art.”
But what often goes unmentioned is how well Piano's buildings, particularly his museums, connect to their surroundings. The buildings not only perform well, but they integrate themselves into the life of the city, as if they have always been there. From Beaubourg to The New York Times Building, they fully embrace the space and energy of their urban contexts. Now, as two of his newest and very high-profile museum projects near completion—the renovation and expansion of the Harvard Art Museums (due to open this Fall) and the Whitney Museum of Art (expected to be in use by Spring 2015)—I had a chance to meet with Piano at his Meatpacking District office to talk about the creative process, criticisms, contemporary architecture, and “flying” buildings.
When you talk to Daniel Libeskind, no single question has a simple answer. From his days as a young musical prodigy (he played the accordion) to his directorship at Cranbrook Academy, not to mention his voracious passion for literature, the fascinating episodes of his life all come together, informing his approach to design and architecture. His career path is an unusual one. And while that is true for many architects, his is particularly interesting, where each twist and turn, no matter how ostensibly disconnected, seem to have always prepared him for his next step. Take his two highest profile jobs, the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the master plan for Ground Zero. The two are intrinsically linked—the museum’s official opening to the public in 2001 was originally scheduled on September 11. The project had taken 13 years of political maneuvering to realize. Similarly, Libeskind's World Trade Center site master plan was marred by a decade of delays and alterations, which threatened to blot out his original design intentions. One monumental task after the other, eerily similar in challenging circumstances, both offering the architect a rare opportunity to helm projects richly entrenched in emotion, symbolism, and historical significance.
Now as his career moves beyond these two important projects, the architect's connection to Italy is beginning to play a pivotal role in his work. He moved there after his time at Cranbrook, when he was looking for new career challenges. Libeskind has been back in America since he was commissioned the Ground Zero project, but he recently opened up a studio in Milan, where he, his wife, and son oversee the firm's forays in product design.
Last December, in the midst of a hectic schedule of events that have come to define Art Basel/Design Miami, I found myself attending a luncheon presentation of the plans for the Norton Museum of Art in Palm Beach, by Foster + Partners. While chatting with Lord Foster, I mentioned my Brazilian background and quickly the conversation turned to Oscar Niemeyer. Foster mentioned the talk he and Niemeyer had shortly before the Brazilian’s passing (coincidentally that same week in December marked the first anniversary of Niemeyer’s death). Curious to know more about the meeting and their chat, I asked Foster about that legendary encounter and some of the guiding ideas behind his design for the Norton.