Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cloning W57

It was just a matter of time before other architects started taking the leaning-pyramid form of Bjarke Ingels Group's W57 development under construction on Manhattan's west side...

[W57 under construction | Photo by Rasmus Hjortshøj]

...and creating inferior versions of it. First up appears to be Kutnicki Bernstein Architects' 500 Metropolitan Avenue, a hotel/residential building in the early stages of construction in Brooklyn, next to the L/G stop and across from the BQE:

[Image from kba website]

For more tasty construction shots of BIG's W57, be sure to check out Rasmus Hjortshøj's website.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Guggenheim Helsinki's 1,715 Submissions

Stage One Gallery of the open, anonymous international, two-stage competition for the design of a proposed Guggenheim museum in the Finnish capital of Helsinki:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book Review: Three Books for Kids

Sunrise to High-Rise: A wallbook of architecture through the ages by Lucy Dalzell
Cicada Books, 2014
Hardcover, 24 pages

Who Built That? Modern Houses by Didier Cornille
Princeton Architectural Press, 2014
Paperback, 84 pages

Who Built That? Skyscrapers by Didier Cornille
Princeton Architectural Press, 2014
Hardcover, 84 pages

I'm a big fan of architecture books geared toward children, mainly because knowledge of architecture in the years before college could use a boost. My background was an exception, with some classes in high school, but for kids in grade school and middle school, architecture isn't talked about as much as it should be. Books geared to them can range from fables and other stories to biographies and sketchbooks. Together, kids books about architecture convey an understanding of the subject's history, but also how to think like an architect in terms of spatial understanding and representation. The three books reviewed here are aimed at kids around 10-12 years of age, since the titles are interested with giving a sense of architectural history and conveying how buildings evolved over the years.

[Bordeaux House, Rem Koolhaas. Spread from Who Built That? Modern Houses | Photo by John Hill]

First is one of two "Who Built That?" books by Didier Cornille; this one is focused on houses and therefore takes a landscape format, while the one on skyscrapers appropriately uses the portrait format. Cornille starts with Gerrit Rietveld's Schröder House (1924) and ends ten houses later with Sarah Wigglesworth and Jeremy Till's Straw House (2002). While the title asserts the importance is in the "who," the drawings and text are really more concerned with the "how" and the "why," which is important considering that modern and contemporary houses can be more perplexing than traditional houses in these terms. Didier's drawings are colorful and have a playfulness that is commendable, though the portraits of the architects are a bit off; they capture the features of Wright, Mies, Gehry, and the rest, but nevertheless look only a little bit like their namesakes.

[Torre Agbar, Jean Nouvel. Spread from Who Built That? Skyscrapers | Photo by John Hill]

Much of the same can be said about Cornille's second "Who Built That?" book, which is about skyscrapers. Yet given the complex technical requirements of tall buildings, there is an even larger emphasis on how they are built. For example, the above spread, showing Jean Nouvel's design for Torre Agbar in Barcelona, describes the sequencing of the construction and a section of its concrete core tied deep in the watery soil. Given the need for more space for the explanations, and the inclusion of additional examples by the same architects (also present in the modern houses book, but not to the same degree), the book features only eight skyscrapers, unlike the ten houses that are featured in the same amount of pages. Nevertheless, the book does not delve as deep as, say, David Macaulay in Unbuilding, but it does give enough variety in the forms and locations of the eight skyscrapers that any child should find one of interest.

[Spread from Sunrise to High-Rise | Photo by John Hill]

The third children's book here isn't really a book at all; it is a concertina binding that opens like an accordion, telling the history of architecture through buildings on one side and through styles/periods on the other. The latter is fairly dry, with text and one example highlighting everything from neolithic architecture (10,000-2000 BC) to contemporary architecture (unfortunately, postmodern architecture (1960-1990) incorrectly highlights OMA's CCTV tower, which is neither postmodern nor fitting within the timeframe), but the former's colorful panorama by Lucy Dalzell is especially beautiful, particularly when it's unfurled to over 90 inches.

The buildings – from the Göbekli Tepe in Turkey in 10,000 BC to Lacaton Vassal's Tour Bois le Prêtre in France (2006-2011) – overlap and blend into each other to create an undulating, architectural horizon line. Sure, the buildings are not scaled relative to each other, creating odd and ever-changing depths of field, but the whole expressively tells the story of major monuments over time. It is an international history that has some suspect building and layout choices here and there (Rural Studio's small Yancy Chapel is a refreshing choice, but it towers over buildings by Gehry, Libeskind, Foster, Nouvel and others in a somewhat jarring manner), but it is for the most part a well-rounded selection. It's not often that children's books have the option of becoming wall art, but in this case it's clear the illustrator and publisher wanted the history of architecture to be an ever-present part of a child's bedroom.

Sunrise to High-Rise: Buy from

Who Built That? Modern Houses: Buy from

Who Built That? Skyscrapers: Buy from

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sinking Barge

One of the thousand-or-so photos I took on a recent trip to Chicago was of an empty barge on the Chicago River between Lake and Randolph Streets; I was actually crossing the Randolph Street bridge when I snapped the photo of the immense (about 15-20' deep) barge:

[Photo by John Hill]

The barge was serving 150 North Riverside, hauling away the excavation for building the foundation of a tower designed by Goettsch Partners:

[Image via 150 North Riverside]

Well, it turns out that the same barge is now sitting submerged in the river after it broke free from its mooring last week:

[Photo via ABC7]

This is the second time this year that a barge has sunk in the Chicago River (the first was one serving the Riverwalk under construction further north and east of the above building), and this latest does not bode well for 150 North Riverside nor Mayor Rahm Emanuel's big hopes for the river.

Today's archidose #787

Here are some photos of The Elastic Perspective (2013) in Barendrecht, The Netherlands, by NEXT Architects, photographed by Ken Lee.

The Elastic Perspective, Barendrecht, The Netherlands

The Elastic Perspective, Barendrecht, The Netherlands

The Elastic Perspective, Barendrecht, The Netherlands

The Elastic Perspective, Barendrecht, The Netherlands

The Elastic Perspective, Barendrecht, The Netherlands5346801430_414295ea97_c.jpg" width="535" />

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Everything Old Is New Again

Clive Wilkinson's design for the Barbarian Group (completed 2014) in New York City, which features an "endless table":

[Barbarian Group | Photo: Michael Moran, from Clive Wilkinson Architects website]

reminds me of a project by Wilkinson from ten years earlier. Mother's, as I referred to the project when I posted about it in 2004, is also based around a looping table that serves 200 people:

[Mother London | Photo from Clive Wilkinson Architects website]

Yet, while Mother London's table is interrupted by columns and stairs, Wilkinson's latest rendition of this idea is more complex:

[Barbarian Group | Photo: Michael Moran, from Clive Wilkinson Architects website]

The Barbican Group table undulates like a long scarf, creating walkways, meeting rooms, libraries and other spaces underneath its high points, which I have to admit is pretty cool.

[Barbarian Group | Photo: Michael Moran, from Clive Wilkinson Architects website]

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Today's archidose #786

Here are some photos of the SUTD Library Pavilion (2013) in Singapore by City Form Lab, photographed by Trevor Patt.








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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Learning from Berlin, New York, and Zurich

On Friday, October 24, 2014 at 2pm, Columbia University GSAPP is hosting the symposium "Housing Beyond the Market: Learning from Berlin, New York, and Zurich." Below is more information and a program for the afternoon symposium.

[Image: Duplex Architekten, Zurich]

Organized by Hilary Sample and Susanne Schindler

Housing Beyond the Market“ brings the architects of recently completed non-profit housing developments in Berlin and Zurich together with local architects and policymakers to discuss the viability of similar models for New York City.

New York City is in the midst of a housing crisis. The generation of sufficient housing for low- to middle-income households is made ever more difficult by increased and changing demand, limited financing and available land, as well as challenging public health issues ranging from an aging population to climate change. The limits of relying on a purely market-driven model to produce this housing are becoming apparent: more apartments are currently ageing out of income- and price-restrictions than are being generated by the city's affordable housing programs.

Beyond New York, other high-priced and rapidly growing cities, including Berlin and Zurich, have made models of permanently non-profit housing a central part of their policy. Limited-equity cooperatives are just one example. These cities have put into place structures for land-use and financing that encourage well-designed forms of healthy urban housing, and emerging architects have frequently been instrumental in initiating and moving the processes forward.

In this afternoon conversation, four architects will present their work within the context of their cities' housing policies, offering up critical points for discussion with local policy makers. Is New York City ready to design affordable housing that can exist beyond the speculative cycles of the market? With renewed interest in finding successful housing models, the session will challenge accepted norms to address the urban housing crisis.
Sunnige Hof
[Sunnige Hof, Burkhalter Sumi. Photo: John Hill]

2:00 Welcome and Introduction
Hilary Sample, Associate Professor, and Susanne Schindler, Adjunct Professor, GSAPP

2:15–3:45 Panel I: New York: Berlin, or: Creating a Pilot

2:15 Antje Buchholz and Jürgen Patzak-Poor, BAR Architekten:
"Baugruppe Oderberger Strasse and Spreefeld Cooperative"

2:55 Response: Eric Bunge, nArchitects, New York

3:10 Response: HUD/NYS/NYC policymaker tbc

3:25 Discussion with speaker and respondents
Moderated by Matthew Lasner, Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning, Hunter College / Author of High Life: Condo Living in the Suburban Century

3:45–5:15 Panel II: New York: Zurich, or: Scaling It Up

3:45 Anne Kaestle, Duplex Architekten, Zurich
"Mehr als Wohnen"

4:25 Response: Chris Sharples, SHOP

4:40 Response: HUD/NYC/NYC policymaker tbc

4:55 Panel discussion with speaker and respondents
Moderated by Brian Loughlin, Special Adviser to the Mayor of Jersey City for Housing / Professor of Architecture, Marywood University

Closing Panel with all participants
Moderated by Susanne Schindler

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Climbing Starchitecture

Not since two daredevils scaled Renzo Piano's New York Times building in 2008 have I heard controversy about people climbing buildings designed by well known architects. The latest news is in regards to Shigeru Ban's Aspen Art Museum, which one must admit looks inviting to climb:

[Photo by Jim Kehoe]

The museum certainly knew that people might try to climb the basket-weave facade made of Prodema, so they installed a sign:

[Photo by Jim Kehoe]

But that sign has not stopped one person – Aspen resident William Johnson – from trying to climb the building after "he had three or four beers"; two college students – Cooper Means and Lauren Twohig – from posing for a photo by the sign and getting in trouble with security, even though they denied they were going to climb any higher; and one person – Aspen artist Lee Mulcahy – from "offering $500 to anyone who climbs at least three-quarters of the way up the building."

Of the above incidents and offer, all part of this Aspen Times article, the last two are most interesting because they are a means of criticizing the building's design and the museum's administration. It's no secret that many Aspen residents hate the building. In the case of Cooper Means, a design student, he said, "It’s the worst thing to happen to Aspen since I was born there. ... It wasn’t designed as a part of the town."

Mulcahy, on the other hand, is banned from the museum, "because of an incident in November 2011 in which museum officials alleged that he placed 'For Sale' signs around the future site." He disagrees with a sculpture outside the museum that reads "WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL," saying it is, "Liberty and justice for all, except for artists and others banned for disagreeing with the museum’s policies."

So unlike the Times building climbers, who did it for the thrill, here we have people drawing attention to what they see as faults of the building and the institution. A bit humorous, to be honest, but I'm guessing these will not be the last incidents we hear about people climbing the basket weave facade, even though the Aspen Art Museum has a "zero-tolerance policy for climbing the wall."

Friday, October 10, 2014

More Chicago

Here are some more photos from my week in and around Chicago, all via my Instagram feed.


Mansueto Library at University of Chicago by JAHN:

Logan Center at University of Chicago by TWBTA:

Morgan Street Station by Ross Barney Architects:

235 Van Buren by Perkins + Will:

William Jones College Prep by Perkins + Will:

Spertus Institute by Krueck + Sexton:

Coyne College by Booth Hansen:

Law Firm by 4240 Architecture:

Langham Hotel by Rockwell Group:


Serta International HQ by Epstein Metter:

Dining Pavilion at Ravinia by Lohan Anderson:

Artist Studio at Ragdale Foundation by IIT Design Build:

Buru Buru pavilion at Ragdale Foundation by Bittertang: