The “Googleplex” is back on. After the Mountain View City Council announced last year that they would be awarding the majority of the land needed to construct the futurist masterplan designed for Google by BIG and Thomas Heatherwick to fellow tech giant LinkedIn, the future of the ambitious glass-canopied corporate campus seemed to be dead in the water, with the architects even releasing images of a pared down design that would occupy a much smaller footprint. But all of that has now changed thanks to a surprising property swap between the two companies that will see over three million square feet of real estate switch hands.
Heatherwick Studio: The Latest Architecture and News
Pier 55, the floating park designed by Heatherwick Studio and landscape architecture firm, Signe Nielsen, received a green-light from the New York Supreme Court this past Friday, April 8, according to a report by the Architect’s Newspaper. Floating above the Hudson River on the Lower West Side of Manhattan, the park is anchored by an aggregation of enormous petal-like stilts that are submerged in the water below. The park is being funded by the philanthropy of Diane von Furstenberg and her husband Barry Diller.
Following the loss of part of their proposed site to LinkedIn and the subsequent reveal of an alternative site, Google has unveiled the revised plans for their Mountain View Campus. Designed by BIG and Heatherwick Studio, the original proposal featured several “Lego-like” buildings covered by glass canopies. The new proposal uses similar design decisions, with the building massing adjusted to the new site.
This edition of Section D, Monocle 24's weekly review of design, architecture and craft, is dedicated to plants and gardens and specifically their role in architecture, urban life, and the design of the workplace. The episode considers the history of London’s urban greenery and the role of plants in landscape architecture touching upon, in conversation with Sam Jacob, the latest in London's green infrastructure: Heatherwick Studio's proposed Garden Bridge across the River Thames. It also traces the lineage of semi-private squares in Georgian London to Ebenezer Howard's Garden City movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries – all approaches discussing how best to unite the built environment with the natural world.
In his latest article for Vulture, art critic Jerry Saltz celebrates the latest crop of public art in New York City, such as Deborah Kass' OY/YO sculpture, sitting near the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn, commenting on the success of such pieces even though (or perhaps because) many of them have been curated by art-world insiders rather than publicly accountable arts commissions or community engagement processes. But for Saltz, this new wave of high-quality public art has come at the expense of quality public space. Despite his admiration for the art installations, he expresses skepticism of the privately-funded public spaces that house them, such as the much-celebrated High Line, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) and James Corner Field Operations, as well as future projects such as Pier 55 by Heatherwick Studio, and the "Culture Shed" at the Hudson Yards development also by DS+R. His critique even references a phrase from DS+R that belongs on our list of words only architects use. Read Saltz's full discussion of public art and public space here.
Heatherwick Studio has designed a mountainous mixed use plan for Shanghai's main arts district. Named M50, the 300,000-square-meter project was conceived as "a piece of topography" that takes the shape of "two tree-covered mountains" populated by "400 terraces" and "1000 structural columns."
“Normally, the large-scale projects that we are quite used to seeing have big boxes, and the role of the designer is figuring out what pattern of architectural wrapping paper to put on these boxes,” said Thomas Heatherwick, according to Architectural Digest. “We wondered if there was a way to make better working spaces by also making access to outdoors.”
Heatherwick Studio has received approval to realize a new shopping area at King's Cross in London. By 2018, the practice will transform the city's 1850 historic Coal Drops Yard buildings into an "eclectic mix" of 65 boutique and destination shops and restaurants.
"Over a two-year restoration and build process, Londoners will see the existing Victorian buildings – the East and West Coal Drops and Wharf Road Arches – refurbished and re-purposed in a way that creates a stunning new upper level and improves connectivity, whilst allowing the original forms and functions to be read," says the architects.
Heatherwick Studio and Diamond Schmitt Architects have been chosen to collaborate on the "renovation and reimagination" of David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center’s largest concert hall in New York City. The team, chosen through a two-year competition and over 100 firms, will design a 21st-century concert hall for the New York Philharmonic home and transform it into a center capable of hosting "a broader, ongoing array of community activities and events."
"The inspiring combination of Heatherwick and Diamond Schmitt will bring contemporary design excellence, respect for the historic architecture of the hall, and extensive experience creating acoustically superb performance halls," said Katherine Farley, chairman of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
Thomas Heatherwick's controversial Garden Bridge in London has regained popular support amongst officials after a significant cut in funding. The Transport for London (TfL) – the authority in charge of the Garden Bridge program, which was approved last year – has reduce the amount of taxpayer money from £30 to £10 million, alleviating concerns over public cost. Now, all that's needed for the project to start construction is an approved amendment to the site's lease in Lambeth. It is expected to break ground next year, despite lingering concerns over maintenance costs and use restrictions.
London is in the throes of an architectural identity crisis, compounded by a severe shortage of housing. While politicians and public figures debate various solutions to the city's design dilemmas, a London-based artist has conceived of a "satirical competition for architecture of the absurd." Known as A Folly for London, the free open-call for solutions to London's architectural conundrums was created in response to Arup and Heatherwick Studio's proposal for the yet to be built, and highly controversial, Garden Bridge.
Unlike traditional architectural competitions, A Folly for London sought to ignite debate on the current state of architecture in London. Presented with a distinctly British sense of humour, the competition received more than fifty entries. Winning proposals include the systematic burning of London's forests, construction of a massive inhabitable light bulb and the creation of a catacomb of submerged signature double-decker buses at the centre of the River Thames.
See the winners of "A Folly for London" after the break
In addition to hosting the world’s largest architectural awards program, the World Architecture Festival (WAF) also features three days of conferences, architect-led city tours, documentary screenings, live crit presentations and networking opportunities. To be held at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, WAF will take place from November 4-6.
A major component of WAF is the opportunity to learn and expand one’s knowledge of current issues facing architecture and urbanism. Inspired by Singapore’s upcoming 50th anniversary as an independent country, the theme of this year’s conference series is 50:50, looking back on how architecture and urbanism have changed during the last 50 years, as well as forward on what may change or stay the same in the next 50 years to come. The conference will center around three key topics: Designing for Tomorrow; Imagining the Future; and Cities and Urbanism, featuring talks by Michael Sorkin, Peter Cook and Manuelle Gautrand, among many others.
Heatherwick Studio has received planning permission to build a new Maggie's center on the St James' University Hospital grounds in Leeds. Aiming to harness the therapeutic effect of plants for the benefit of the center's cancer patients, the building was designed as a series of stepped "planters" that intertwine to form a unique and restorative layout of inside, outside, private and public space.
"The site is a small patch of green surrounded by the huge volumes of the existing hospital buildings. Instead of taking away the open space we wanted to make a whole building out of a garden," said Thomas Heatherwick in a press release.
New London Architecture (NLA) has named the winners of this years New London Awards, celebrating the best projects and architects shaping London today. Taking home top honors, Zaha Hadid was crowned "New Londoner of the Year" for her influential work, both in the UK and abroad. The jury commended Hadid for "her role as a champion of design to both the government and the general public alike," citing her success with the London Aquatic Center and the Serpentine Sackler Gallery.
Out of the 51 projects awarded, Pringle Richards Sharratt's Black Cultural Archives (BCA) in Brixton was named London's best new building. The Grade II listed structure, which had been on the English Heritage's Heritage at Risk Register since 1992, was restored as a new home for BCA’s extensive archives, serving as an exemplar for preservation and reuse.
As reported in the Architects' Journal, Transport for London (TfL) – the authority in charge of the Garden Bridge programme, which was approved last year – have ordered a review into the procurement process leading up to Heatherwick's selection to design a new bridge spanning the Thames. Sir Peter Hendy, Commissioner for TfL, will "review of the overall process of procurement of the design contracts, the findings of which [will be published] in full." This statement follows the revelation that Heatherwick Studio’s estimated total price (which was wrongly redacted in response to a Freedom of Information request made by the AJ last February) "was far higher than its two fellow bidders in the 2013 invited concept design competition." Full information about the request is detailed here.
In an exclusive hour-long interview with British designer Thomas Heatherwick, Monocle's Andrew Tuck discusses building a business in the world of design and architecture, the process behind revamping the iconic red London bus, and the inspiration behind placing people – and plants – at the heart of the River Thames. Heatherwick leads London-based Heatherwick Studio, a multidisciplinary design practice who have recently completed a distillery in England and a learning hub in central Singapore, They are currently collaborating with BIG on the new Google Campus in San Francisco having been recently labelled as among the top ten most innovative architectural practices of 2015 by FastCompany.
Listen to the interview in full below:
Maggie's, the UK charity famed for its cancer care centers designed by world-renowned architects, has released a proposal for a new building designed by Heatherwick Studio. The new center is planned to be built on the grounds of the St James' University Hospital in Leeds, and was submitted for planning permission this morning.
The design consists of a series of stepped "planters" which aim to harness the therapeutic effect of plants for the benefit of the center's users. The building's public and private interior spaces are woven both in between these elements, and into the interior space of the planters themselves.
Google has found another way to realize its futuristic Mountain View headquarter's expansion. As the San Jose Mercury News reports, the search engine giant revealed plans to utilize a vacant site just east of their existing Googleplex that was approved by the city almost a decade ago to host nearly 600,000 square-feet of office and commercial space. The approval occurred prior to the city implementing strict legislation that restricts office expansions in the North Bayshore district, therefore Google's entitlement is essentially "grandfathered in."
New images of Thomas Heatherwick's recently approved Garden Bridge depicts how it will look once built in 2018. With 270 trees, 2,000 shrubs, hedging plants and climbers, over 22,000 perennials, ferns and grasses and 64,000 bulbs planted on the bridge, the lush river crossing will take pedestrians through London's horticultural history, "from wild marshland to cultivated gardens," as the Garden Bridge Trust reports. Five distinct landscaped areas, created by landscape designer Dan Pearson, will span the bridge's 6000 square-meters of open space and represent the capital city's plant cultivation from centuries past.