Institutional Architecture: The Latest Architecture and News
This article was originally published on August 27, 2017. To read the stories behind other celebrated architecture projects, visit our AD Classics section.
In 1959, Jonas Salk, the man who had discovered the vaccine for polio, approached Louis I. Kahn with a project. The city of San Diego, California had gifted him with a picturesque site in La Jolla along the Pacific coast, where Salk intended to found and build a biological research center. Salk, whose vaccine had already had a profound impact on the prevention of the disease, was adamant that the design for this new facility should explore the implications of the sciences for humanity. He also had a broader, if no less profound, directive for his chosen architect: to “create a facility worthy of a visit by Picasso.” The result was the Salk Institute, a facility lauded for both its functionality and its striking aesthetics – and the manner in which each supports the other.[1,2]
With cracked paint, overgrown vines, rust, and decay, abandoned buildings have carved out a photographic genre that plays to our complex fascination with the perverse remnants of our past. While intellectual interest in ruins has been recorded for centuries, the popularity and controversy of contemporary "ruin porn" can be traced back to somewhere around 2009, when photographer James Griffioen’s feral houses series sparked a conversation about the potential harm in the aesthetic appropriation of urban collapse.
A favorite subject within this field is the American insane asylum, whose tragic remains carry echoes of the unsavory history of mental illness treatment in the United States. These state-funded asylums were intensely overcrowded and often housed patients in nightmarish conditions in the 20th century. Beginning in 1955, with the introduction of the antipsychotic drug Thorazine, these institutions were closed in large numbers, never to be reopened . Now, these closed but un-demolished asylums that dot the country are the subject of "ruin porn" that neglects an equally important piece of the buildings’ narrative: the beginning. In his recent photobook Abandoned Asylums, Photographer Matt Van der Velde depicts this earlier period of asylum architecture, when the institutions were built in the belief that the built environment has the power to cure.
TheeAe has revealed their competition entry for a new civic center in Ryde, Australia. As its name indicates, ‘Trianglemnant’ builds upon the unique triangular site area, and consists of a series of overlapping trilateral forms that shape the building and surrounding public spaces.
Trianglemnant was put forward as part of the international design competition ‘Design our Ryde’, which invited architects to present proposals for a new civic center at the gateway to the municipality. Though the project was not one of the four shortlisted, its attempt to create a diverse public space is noteworthy.
AECOM has designed a $42,000,000 campus and training facility for a professional basketball organization in West Los Angeles. The building contains a basketball arena, corporate headquarters, a hall of fame, and gardens, among other programs. Despite the building’s varied uses, AECOM was determined to make it “basketball centric.”