My recent posts at World-Architects

      

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

31 in 31: #31

This is a series for August 2010 which documents my on-the-ground -- and on-the-webs -- research for my guidebook to contemporary NYC architecture (to be released next year by W. W. Norton). Archives can be found at the bottom of the post and via the 31 in 31 label.

Sperone Westwater Gallery

The Sperone Westwater Gallery, designed Foster + Partners, is nearing completion about a block north of the New Museum. This piece continues the transformation of the Bowery, from Cooper Union down to Chinatown. In the ten or eleven years since I stayed at a hostel on the Bowery the street has seen numerous new buildings as well as restaurants and shops, displacing the old flophouses and mainstays like CBGB's.


Sperone Westwater Gallery

I always liked to think of the Bowery as un-gentrifiable, a zone immune to the changes in neighborhing SoHo, NoHo, the Lower East Side, and the East Village. Of course I was wrong, but a nine-story building with a bright red elevator on its facade is probably the last thing I would have expected from the alternative scenario.

Sperone Westwater Gallery

Norman Foster's design is the antithesis of the New Museum, which made the Bowery cool for institutions with money to spend on buildings by name-brand architects. SANAA's stacked and shifted white boxes respond to the zoning envelope without making that legal device explicit; Foster's design rises to the maximum street wall and then sets back once. Done.

Sperone Westwater Gallery

Granted, the 20-foot-wide lot doesn't give much room for play, so Foster focuses on the skins. Facing the Bowery on the first five floors is an all-glass wall with laminations that allow light and views, but the latter are indistinct, yet not so much that the elevator's workings aren't apparent. One effect of the glass, which lies somewhere between transparent and translucent, is the band of light visible in these photos. It must be an unwritten code that new buildings must have a surface that blinds passersby!



Sperone Westwater Gallery

The side walls, facing north and south, are blanketed with black corrugated metal, the panels mimicking -- but oddly not following exactly, in size or spacing -- the glass on the front. The rear facade is similar to the top of the front, with a zipper of clear glass running vertically between what looked to be solid panels (not translucent like the front). Foster's design certainly has a strong presence on the Bowery, but its industrial elegance will pack more of a wallop at night when the glass box is illuminated and the red box glows.

Previously:
#1 - Phyto Universe
#2 - One Bryant Park
#3 - Pier 62 Carousel
#4 - Bronx River Art Center
#5 - The Pencil Factory
#6 - Westbeth Artists' Housing
#7 - 23 Beekman Place
#8 - Metal Shutter Houses
#9 - Bronx Box
#10 - American Academy of Arts and Letters
#11 - FDR Four Freedoms Park
#12 - One Madison Park
#13 - Pio Pio Restaurant
#14 - Queens West (Stage II)
#15 - 785 Eighth Avenue
#16 - Big Bambú
#17 - Event Horizon
#18 - Murano
#19 - William Lescaze House
#20 - Morgan Library and Museum
#21 - MTA Flood Mitigation
#22 - Wilf Hall
#23 - Yohji Yamamoto
#24 - NYU Center for Academic and Spiritual Life
#25 - Nehemiah Spring Creek
#26 - Longchamps
#27 - 9th Street Residence
#28 - Crocs
#29 - Art et Industrie
#30 - Tartinery Nolita

Monday, August 30, 2010

31 in 31: #30

This is a series for August 2010 which documents my on-the-ground -- and on-the-webs -- research for my guidebook to contemporary NYC architecture (to be released next year by W. W. Norton). Archives can be found at the bottom of the post and via the 31 in 31 label.

Tartinery Nolita

Spotted at The Architect's Newspaper, Tartinery Nolita is a new restaurant located on Mulberry next to Spring Lounge. Designed by SOMA Architects, the facade is marked by deep-set, black-steel fins projecting from the storefront glazing.

Tartinery Nolita

These fins -- spaced randomly across the elevation --work to hide and reveal the spaces behind. The shallow bar occupies the northern end (right in photos), and the double-height dining area sits to the south.

Tartinery Nolita

The bar-code design is more interesting from across the street than from the adjacent sidewalk (the top image of the archpaper piece testifies to this).

Tartinery Nolita

But from directly in front of the restaurant, the double-height dining area attracts the most attention. From the sidewalk the space extends to the cellar; an exposed brick wall behind mesh stands out at the southern end of the restaurant. A small tree also occupies this lower space, rising from the middle of a table.

Tartinery Nolita

Previously:
#1 - Phyto Universe
#2 - One Bryant Park
#3 - Pier 62 Carousel
#4 - Bronx River Art Center
#5 - The Pencil Factory
#6 - Westbeth Artists' Housing
#7 - 23 Beekman Place
#8 - Metal Shutter Houses
#9 - Bronx Box
#10 - American Academy of Arts and Letters
#11 - FDR Four Freedoms Park
#12 - One Madison Park
#13 - Pio Pio Restaurant
#14 - Queens West (Stage II)
#15 - 785 Eighth Avenue
#16 - Big Bambú
#17 - Event Horizon
#18 - Murano
#19 - William Lescaze House
#20 - Morgan Library and Museum
#21 - MTA Flood Mitigation
#22 - Wilf Hall
#23 - Yohji Yamamoto
#24 - NYU Center for Academic and Spiritual Life
#25 - Nehemiah Spring Creek
#26 - Longchamps
#27 - 9th Street Residence
#28 - Crocs
#29 - Art et Industrie

Book Review: Encyclopedia of Detail in Contemporary Residential Architecture

Encyclopedia of Detail in Contemporary Residential Architecture by Virginia McLeod
Laurence King Publishing, 2010
Hardcover, 416 pages



 
Even as BIM (Building Information Modeling) supplants CAD (Computer-Aided Drafting) as the primary means of producing construction documents on the computer, construction details continue to be important. Plans, sections, and elevations may be automatically created by the 3d model in the BIM software, but details still must be developed and drawn. Knowledge of construction is certainly crucial, but so is knowing how to convey the right information to the contractor and their subs. Virginia McLeod's series of Detail in Contemporary ... books are helpful in extending the knowledge base of architects beyond what they and their associates have worked on.
 
In this "Encyclopedia" focused on single-family houses, over 700 details are collected from projects on five continents. A first section introduces each of the 100 houses with a couple color photographs and a brief description, organized by primary material (concrete, glas, masonry, steel, timber). The following section, the bulk of the book, presents the details in seven chapters: walls, floors, windows, doors, roofs, stairs, landscape. The details are all drawn consistently, in terms of linework, hatching, labeling, and so forth. Both metric and imperial units are given in the notes, and the details are drawn so both units of measurement can be used to scale the drawings (e.g.: 1:10, where 1 unit equals 10 units, instead of 1/8"=1'-0", where a metric conversion is difficult).
 
So what is missing from the details? Millwork and other interior details are omitted. Dimensions are not included (sizes are given, where appropriate, but thickness of a wall assembly, for example, must be determined with a scale). For the most part the details are extremely thorough and well done. Although some details seem unnecessary: the striking designs collected point to a presentation of the unique conditions of each project, so when a Graphic Standards-esque footing detail is found, for example, it seems that the book could have been pared down a bit, or expanded the number of projects. But the glaring omission is context. The first section's photos convey what is unique about each house, but they do not portray enough to situate each detail in context. Small-scale plans and sections with keyed details would have aided in understanding how the relationship of the details to the overall designs. But this is only one way to use the book; most likely architects will focus on the different detail chapters, looking for floor or stair details they can learn from. Most helpful for them is the CD-ROM that includes EPS and DWG files for all drawings.
 

40R_Laneway House



40R_Laneway House in Toronto, Ontario, Canada by superkül inc | architect

Photographs are by Tom Arban Photography.

Occupying buildings located off of alleys is one strategy for adding density to residential areas in cities and suburbs, but one illegal in many North American jurisdictions. Carriage houses -- or in this case laneway houses -- are typically smaller than the primary residence on a lot, but they can be just as comfortable, with design that intelligently deals with site, size, and other constraints. In Toronto's Summerhill neighborhood, superkül inc | architect converted a former blacksmith's shop / horse shed / artist's live-work space into a residence for an artist and her husband.

The constraints of the project are many. Primarily the existing footprint allowed only two feet of expansion on one of the short sides of the 18' (5.4m) by 40' (12m) lot, and no additional openings could be made in the exterior walls. These pointed to a vertical expansion, which became usable outdoor space (not allowed otherwise) when combined with a new courtyard cut from the existing volume. Skylights over shafts bring natural light to the first floor.

Inside the white and light-filled spaces belie these conditions. Living and kitchen/dining are located on the ground floor, on either side of the central stair and service core. Above are two small bedrooms bracketing the courtyard. The project becomes a good model for infill carriage/laneway houses, because it inadvertantly deals with what many people see as the undesirable context of the service alley, by reaching up for space and light. The wall windows are small and few, elevating their importance both in terms of natural light/vent and views out.

If the interior focuses inward and upward, the exterior embraces its context, physically and historically. The old building's rusty cladding was removed, cataloged, treated, and reinstalled in a patchwork that gives the house its striking expression. The remaining sides feature black-stained cedar and touches like a recycled, graffiti-covered door (image at left). At first glance the structure resembles a relic; perhaps that is intentional. The design finds inspiration in its previous lives, making the past part of the present, reassembled in a new way.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

31 in 31: #29

This is a series for August 2010 which documents my on-the-ground -- and on-the-webs -- research for my guidebook to contemporary NYC architecture (to be released next year by W. W. Norton). Archives can be found at the bottom of the post and via the 31 in 31 label.

Art et Industrie

Although completed a couple years before 2000, the former Art et Industrie sculpture garden is something I was intrigued about, so I searched it out over the weekend and took a close look at it. Designed by Architecture Research Office (ARO) and located at the corner of Thompson and Broome Streets, the meat of the project is basically two solid-steel fences that follow the corner.

Art et Industrie

I'm not sure what Art et Industrie displayed in its indoor and outdoor galleries, but the fence is like a piece of Modernist sculpture: well-crafted, simple, and easy to miss.

Art et Industrie

Painted a dark gray, thin sheets of steel (I'm guessing about 8' by 8') are welded to matching steel H-shape supports which double as deep reveals.

Art et Industrie

The posts stop a little bit short of the panels, allowing the thinness of the latter to be legible. Visible below, the corner overlap puts the simple construction of the two elements on display.

Art et Industrie

The adjacent storefront space is empty, and a peek through the space reveals a pleasing garden. But in an area surrounded by mid- and high-rise construction, what is the future of this outdoor space? If I'm reading it right, a recent DOB filing points to an "eating and drinking establishment," something easy to imagine working well here, indoors and out.

Art et Industrie

Previously:
#1 - Phyto Universe
#2 - One Bryant Park
#3 - Pier 62 Carousel
#4 - Bronx River Art Center
#5 - The Pencil Factory
#6 - Westbeth Artists' Housing
#7 - 23 Beekman Place
#8 - Metal Shutter Houses
#9 - Bronx Box
#10 - American Academy of Arts and Letters
#11 - FDR Four Freedoms Park
#12 - One Madison Park
#13 - Pio Pio Restaurant
#14 - Queens West (Stage II)
#15 - 785 Eighth Avenue
#16 - Big Bambú
#17 - Event Horizon
#18 - Murano
#19 - William Lescaze House
#20 - Morgan Library and Museum
#21 - MTA Flood Mitigation
#22 - Wilf Hall
#23 - Yohji Yamamoto
#24 - NYU Center for Academic and Spiritual Life
#25 - Nehemiah Spring Creek
#26 - Longchamps
#27 - 9th Street Residence
#28 - Crocs

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Today's archidose #436



Würzburg Weingut Stein a, originally uploaded by david pasek.
Weingut Am Stein (presentation and seminar rooms for winery) in Wuerzburg, Germany by Hofmann Keicher Ring Architekten, 2005

To contribute your Flickr images for consideration, just:
:: Join and add photos to the archidose pool, and/or
::Tag your photos archidose

Friday, August 27, 2010

31 in 31: #28

This is a series for August 2010 which documents my on-the-ground -- and on-the-webs -- research for my guidebook to contemporary NYC architecture (to be released next year by W. W. Norton). Archives can be found at the bottom of the post and via the 31 in 31 label.


View Larger Map

For now the above street view shows what architect William J. Rockwell faced in turning a Tennessee Mountain restaurant into a Crocs flagship store, located at Spring and Wooster Streets in SoHo. Alterations to the early 19th-century, many-times-renovated corner house required Landmarks (LPC) approval. When compared with the photo below, taken earlier today, the changes were fairly minimal, occurring on the ground floor.

Crocs

The three-story garage behind the house was demolished, but then LPC turned down Mitchell's first design which resembled the old garage. Instead they recommended "a modern transitional glass piece," according to The Architect's Newspaper. The new piece has some of the clearest clear glass I've seen lately, making the colorful Crocs shoes/sandals pop, but also the ducts, sprinkler pipes, and other fittings.

Crocs

This project is a small but nevertheless notable example of LPC's assertion that new buildings should look new, so they are not confused with their historical neighbors. It is a view contested by Steven W. Semes in The Future of the Past; he argues that buildings should find continuity with their historical neighbors in an effort to extend some bits of culture from the past to the present and into the future. He would have fought for Mitchell's initial design, but I find the new glass box pleasing, if conventional. It is certainly a foil to the corner house, but it still could have found some inspiration in this historic building; as is it's like a Crate & Barrel squeezed into the small rear lot, well done but looking like it could exist somewhere else as easily as on this lot in SoHo.

Crocs

Previously:
#1 - Phyto Universe
#2 - One Bryant Park
#3 - Pier 62 Carousel
#4 - Bronx River Art Center
#5 - The Pencil Factory
#6 - Westbeth Artists' Housing
#7 - 23 Beekman Place
#8 - Metal Shutter Houses
#9 - Bronx Box
#10 - American Academy of Arts and Letters
#11 - FDR Four Freedoms Park
#12 - One Madison Park
#13 - Pio Pio Restaurant
#14 - Queens West (Stage II)
#15 - 785 Eighth Avenue
#16 - Big Bambú
#17 - Event Horizon
#18 - Murano
#19 - William Lescaze House
#20 - Morgan Library and Museum
#21 - MTA Flood Mitigation
#22 - Wilf Hall
#23 - Yohji Yamamoto
#24 - NYU Center for Academic and Spiritual Life
#25 - Nehemiah Spring Creek
#26 - Longchamps
#27 - 9th Street Residence

31 in 31: #27

This is a series for August 2010 which documents my on-the-ground -- and on-the-webs -- research for my guidebook to contemporary NYC architecture (to be released next year by W. W. Norton). Archives can be found at the bottom of the post and via the 31 in 31 label.

9th Street Residence

Across the street from the strange Germanic streetscape of NYU's Deutsches Haus is a full block of beige brick, setbacks, and balconies. Some of the last are filled in (bottom middle of photo above) to convert the outdoor "rooms" to indoor space. Most of these new enclosures are unexceptional, but a piece capping one of the setbacks is subtly different, channel glass walls rising behind the old guardrails. Designed by Rogers Marvel Architects, the 9th Street Residence combined two apartments into one; the glass enclosure is an extension that houses the living area. The channel glass wraps over the space, visible in the photo below through the horizontal vision glass that wraps the corner.

9th Street Residence

Previously:
#1 - Phyto Universe
#2 - One Bryant Park
#3 - Pier 62 Carousel
#4 - Bronx River Art Center
#5 - The Pencil Factory
#6 - Westbeth Artists' Housing
#7 - 23 Beekman Place
#8 - Metal Shutter Houses
#9 - Bronx Box
#10 - American Academy of Arts and Letters
#11 - FDR Four Freedoms Park
#12 - One Madison Park
#13 - Pio Pio Restaurant
#14 - Queens West (Stage II)
#15 - 785 Eighth Avenue
#16 - Big Bambú
#17 - Event Horizon
#18 - Murano
#19 - William Lescaze House
#20 - Morgan Library and Museum
#21 - MTA Flood Mitigation
#22 - Wilf Hall
#23 - Yohji Yamamoto
#24 - NYU Center for Academic and Spiritual Life
#25 - Nehemiah Spring Creek
#26 - Longchamps

Today's archidose #435

Here are some photos of the South Pond pavilion (for yoga and other uses) at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Illinois by Studio Gang Architects, 2010. Photographs are by John (& Beth) Zacherle.

Zoo Pavilion

Zoo Pavilion

Zoo Pavilion

Zoo Pavilion

Zoo Pavilion

To contribute your Flickr images for consideration, just:
:: Join and add photos to the archidose pool, and/or
:: Tag your photos archidose

Thursday, August 26, 2010

31 in 31: #26

This is a series for August 2010 which documents my on-the-ground -- and on-the-webs -- research for my guidebook to contemporary NYC architecture (to be released next year by W. W. Norton). Archives can be found at the bottom of the post and via the 31 in 31 label.

Longchamps

Double glass doors cut into an otherwise blank brick wall barely hint at the stunning space for Longchamp on Spring Street in SoHo. Designed by Heatherwick Studio and completed in 2006, a "landscape stair" is the defining element that ties the ground floor with larger second floor above. Longchamp makes handbags, among other things, so appropriately the continuous treads appear to be made of leather (they are rubber on steel plate). Black posts and handrails are the only other major visual element occupying the space (beside the goods); the glass guardrails--fabricated the same way as car windshields--disappear at certain angles and create blurry reflections at other angles. All is skylit, like a luxury stairway to heaven. It is one of the best retail environments in Manhattan, because it finds inspiration in the product and fuses its expression with its function as an armature for displaying merchandise.

Previously:
#1 - Phyto Universe
#2 - One Bryant Park
#3 - Pier 62 Carousel
#4 - Bronx River Art Center
#5 - The Pencil Factory
#6 - Westbeth Artists' Housing
#7 - 23 Beekman Place
#8 - Metal Shutter Houses
#9 - Bronx Box
#10 - American Academy of Arts and Letters
#11 - FDR Four Freedoms Park
#12 - One Madison Park
#13 - Pio Pio Restaurant
#14 - Queens West (Stage II)
#15 - 785 Eighth Avenue
#16 - Big Bambú
#17 - Event Horizon
#18 - Murano
#19 - William Lescaze House
#20 - Morgan Library and Museum
#21 - MTA Flood Mitigation
#22 - Wilf Hall
#23 - Yohji Yamamoto
#24 - NYU Center for Academic and Spiritual Life
#25 - Nehemiah Spring Creek

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

31 in 31: #25

This is a series for August 2010 which documents my on-the-ground -- and on-the-webs -- research for my guidebook to contemporary NYC architecture (to be released next year by W. W. Norton). Archives can be found at the bottom of the post and via the 31 in 31 label.

Nehemiah Spring Creek

It was the end of last year that I drove around Nehemiah Spring Creek, the largest affordable housing development -- as planned -- in New York City; phase one is complete with phase two's construction underway. A recent NYTimes blog post by Jayne Merkel on the "Irrational Exuberance" of the last couple of decades mentions the project located in East New York, Brooklyn and designed by Alexander Gorlin Architects, and it spurred me to include it here. Merkel uses the development as an example of how "interesting housing" is not limited to luxury condos in Manhattan, like Jean Nouvel's 100 Eleventh Avenue and Herzog & de Meuron's 40 Bond. Comments on the post tend to be split into two camps: those opposed to contemporary modernism and those who embrace it. Not surprisingly the former's comment are terse and opinionated, the latter more explanatory; never the twain shall agree.


Nehemiah Spring Creek

Comments on Gorlin's project (Merkel says little about it) focus on its materiality, its prefab construction, it being built atop a landfill, and speculations on how it will evolve. The project needs to be looked at also in terms of the larger development of which it is a part. Gateway Estates includes a 625,000-sf retail center, in addition to the 800 homes in Nehemiah Spring Creek. These photos illustrate that living and shopping don't mix, which is a bigger problem than any architectural quibbles. These houses may technically reside in New York City, but they are suburban in their segregation of uses. This leads to a reliance on driving, the real difference between this development and the luxury housing at the city's core.

Previously:
#1 - Phyto Universe
#2 - One Bryant Park
#3 - Pier 62 Carousel
#4 - Bronx River Art Center
#5 - The Pencil Factory
#6 - Westbeth Artists' Housing
#7 - 23 Beekman Place
#8 - Metal Shutter Houses
#9 - Bronx Box
#10 - American Academy of Arts and Letters
#11 - FDR Four Freedoms Park
#12 - One Madison Park
#13 - Pio Pio Restaurant
#14 - Queens West (Stage II)
#15 - 785 Eighth Avenue
#16 - Big Bambú
#17 - Event Horizon
#18 - Murano
#19 - William Lescaze House
#20 - Morgan Library and Museum
#21 - MTA Flood Mitigation
#22 - Wilf Hall
#23 - Yohji Yamamoto
#24 - NYU Center for Academic and Spiritual Life

New Aging

"The Department of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design presents New Aging, an international conference on aging and architecture," taking place October 1-2 in Philadelphia.

aging.jpg

More details:
New Aging is a uniquely strategic conference, complemented by hands-on workshops, matchmaking sessions, and open houses at collaborating institutions. Guests within and outside of the design profession will provide the professional and visionary background of the conference, leading to a manifesto on "New Aging" in architecture.

New Aging will investigate recent advances in architecture and urbanism dealing with age-related challenges; ones that assure the best utilization with the utmost dignity for age.

Confirmed speakers, as of today:

Jose Colucci Jr. – Health and Wellness Director, IDEO
Joseph F. Coughlin – Director, MIT AgeLab
Daniel Cinelli – Principal, Perkins Eastman
Madeline Gins – Initiator, Architecture Against Death
Dr. Aubrey de Grey – Chief Science Officer, SENS Foundation
Juergen Mayer H. – Principal, J. MAYER H. Architects
Matthias Hollwich – Principal, HollwichKushner (HWKN)
Manuel Ocana – Principal, Architecture and Thought Production Office
Victor Regnier – Professor, University of Southern California School of Architecture
Charles Renfro – Partner, Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Joel Sanders – Principal, Joel Sanders Architect
Dr. Gregory Stock – CEO, Signum Biosciences
Dr. William H. Thomas – Founder, Eden Alternative and the Green House

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

31 in 31: #24

This is a series for August 2010 which documents my on-the-ground -- and on-the-webs -- research for my guidebook to contemporary NYC architecture (to be released next year by W. W. Norton). Archives can be found at the bottom of the post and via the 31 in 31 label.

catholic west 4th 002

Until 2009 the Holy Trinity Chapel, Generoso Pope Catholic Center at NYU (above, 1964, Eggers & Higgins) occupied the northeastern tip of Thompson Street across the street from Washington Square Park. The concrete, brick, and stained glass structure wasn't exactly beautiful, but it was nevertheless appealing, especially as NYU's surrounding buildings grew to dwarf it. Taking its place is the university's Center for Academic and Spiritual Life, a six-story building designed by Boston's Machado and Silvetti Associates, now under construction.

nyu-spiritual1.jpg
[View from Washington Square Park | image source]

Framed by Washington Square Arch, the north facade presents what looks to be a stone lattice that is variegated across the elevation, turning the corner on Thompson and dissipating into solid stone. Interior renderings in this project PDF indicate that the windows are not punched openings, but continuous floor-to-ceiling glass behind the lattice as screen. This may make the building stronger at night, as the interior glows through the patterned stone, like a contemporary rendition of stained glass. Of course this thinking points to the potential of the variety in the stone lattice towards a related expression: A figural image related to building's function? Embedded color glass in a similar vein? Right now the logic of the pattern is not evident and runs the risk of looking muddled to all but those seeing through the stone from inside.

nyu-spiritual2.jpg
[Entrance | image source]

Previously:
#1 - Phyto Universe
#2 - One Bryant Park
#3 - Pier 62 Carousel
#4 - Bronx River Art Center
#5 - The Pencil Factory
#6 - Westbeth Artists' Housing
#7 - 23 Beekman Place
#8 - Metal Shutter Houses
#9 - Bronx Box
#10 - American Academy of Arts and Letters
#11 - FDR Four Freedoms Park
#12 - One Madison Park
#13 - Pio Pio Restaurant
#14 - Queens West (Stage II)
#15 - 785 Eighth Avenue
#16 - Big Bambú
#17 - Event Horizon
#18 - Murano
#19 - William Lescaze House
#20 - Morgan Library and Museum
#21 - MTA Flood Mitigation
#22 - Wilf Hall
#23 - Yohji Yamamoto

Monday, August 23, 2010

31 in 31: #23

This is a series for August 2010 which documents my on-the-ground -- and on-the-webs -- research for my guidebook to contemporary NYC architecture (to be released next year by W. W. Norton). Archives can be found at the bottom of the post and via the 31 in 31 label.

Yohji Yamamoto

Early discussions with my editor led me to remove most retail, restaurants and other ephemeral projects from my guidebook. They come and go so quickly that designs might disappear between handing in the manuscript and when the book finally hits the stores. But the boutique junya.ishigami+associates designed for Yohji Yamamoto near the Meatpacking District was an exception, mainly because it's a building, not just an interior. The architect cleverly split an existing brick building in two, also giving the tip a curve and setting frameless glass into the brick walls. Simple yet powerful. Yet what did I see over the weekend (below)? Brown paper over the lower portion of the storefront glass and a sign that the space is for lease. Does the remove the project from my book? While at first I was disappointed, I doubt the next occupant will dramatically alter the building. It's too unique, striking; it's a keeper. As designed by ishigami for Yamamoto, the architecture and the fashion had a synergy that elevated each. So it will be interesting to see if what fills the corner works with the architecture.

Yohji Yamamoto, formerly

Previously:
#1 - Phyto Universe
#2 - One Bryant Park
#3 - Pier 62 Carousel
#4 - Bronx River Art Center
#5 - The Pencil Factory
#6 - Westbeth Artists' Housing
#7 - 23 Beekman Place
#8 - Metal Shutter Houses
#9 - Bronx Box
#10 - American Academy of Arts and Letters
#11 - FDR Four Freedoms Park
#12 - One Madison Park
#13 - Pio Pio Restaurant
#14 - Queens West (Stage II)
#15 - 785 Eighth Avenue
#16 - Big Bambú
#17 - Event Horizon
#18 - Murano
#19 - William Lescaze House
#20 - Morgan Library and Museum
#21 - MTA Flood Mitigation
#22 - Wilf Hall

Book Review: Basics Landscape Architecture: Urban Design

Basics Landscape Architecture: Urban Design by Tim Waterman and Ed Wall
AVA Academia, 2009
Paperback, 184 pages



 
The first of AVA Academia's Basics series on landscape architecture focuses on urban design, the hard-to-define but increasingly accepted field that overlaps architecture, landscape architecture, planning, and other disciplines immersed in giving form to cities. That this book falls into the landscape architecture series and not architecture is an important distinction. For the better part of the fifty-plus years since urban design was articulated as a unique discipline, its focus has been on architecture. This certainly isn't surprising, given that most of the participants in the first Urban Design Conference at Harvard University in 1956 were architects. In the ensuing years urban design was basically synonymous with big buildings, megaprojects. We find that characteristic continuing until very recently with designs like Daniel Libeskind's WTC masterplan, which basically relegates landscape to just the memorial's plaza. But more recent projects--be they built (High Line) or in-progress (Governors Island), in New York City or elsewhere--point to an embrace of landscape as a primary determinant of urban form.
 
Here the authors introduce the subject in six heavily illustrated chapters: a history and definition of urban design, four chapters on considerations of urban design (context, measure, movement, community and culture), and some short case studies reflecting the pluralism in the field. Numerous projects along the way are highlighted as examples of what the text presents. As an introduction to urban design, the book is extremely well done, covering just about every possible aspect of the field--each time a section spurred a thought in me, something not yet covered, it would be handled in a subsequent section. Given that the book is an introduction, and can therefore only skim the subject's surface, a better bibliography would be helpful. The one provided is for the whole book; individual bibliographies for each chapter would allow for further exploration on those aspects of urban design. Additional information includes a glossary and online and print resources.
 
Given the book's location within landscape architecture, and the influence of landscape urbanism and sustainability, surprisingly the book does not convey a strong sense of landscape as the driving force for urban design. It is presented as an interdisciplinary field that balances landscape alongside other considerations. I anticipated a stronger stance towards a particular way of approaching the interaction between the landscape and the urban, a la Michael Hough. But in what is basically a textbook, perhaps polemics don't have a place. What Waterman and Wall do convey is the interdependence of the landscape and the urban, giving future and present landscape architects a better understanding of urban considerations, and helping them play a stronger role in projects that fall under the rubric of urban design.
 

Audenasa Corporate Building



Audenasa Corporate Building in Noain, Spain by Vaillo + Irigaray

Photographs are copyright Jose Manuel Cutillas.

Gabions -- wire cages filled with earth or stones -- are typically used as retaining walls near roadways, or for other uses in civil engineering. Architects have co-opted the construction method -- most notably Herzog and de Meuron's Dominus Winery -- and in the process raised questions about their role in builings. Do gabions become merely aesthetic elements? What is the advantage of using gabions over some other construction? Sarah Wigglesworth's house and studio is a good case in point: The gabion walls used could not be load bearing, due to fire concerns (the wires melting), so steel columns were embedded in the walls. Gabions as decoration.

So if gabions can no longer serve their role as structural construction elements when used in buildings, what do they become? What defines them? These and the above questions come to mind upon first glance at the recently completed Audenasa Corporate Building by Vaillo + Irigaray. Wire cages comprise three sides of the one-story linear building raised on pilotis. But instead of stones, what do we find? Tires!

Yes, tires. So many old tires that one can smell the rubber just looking at the photos! Yet this olfactory situation won't be a problem for people in the office because, like Dominus Winery, the gabions are but a screen in front of other walls that are the building's actual weatherproofing. Herzog and de Meuron utilized the construction method so sunlight could be filtered to varying degrees as it entered the spaces behind; air was allowed to pass through the cages into areas where it was desired, and kept out of office spaces via double walls, like this building in Spain. The recycled tires become sunshades on the end and decoration for the rear facade.

Yet with all the talk of gabions and tires, the primary facade of the office building is something else completely different. The south-facing elevation features concave ribs of Cor-ten steel that follow the plan's zig-zag. Like the other three facades, this one functions as a sunshade, set a couple feet in front of a glass wall. Something that each of these two types of facade have in common is that they completely wrap the building; there is not a single opening interrupting the tires or rusty ribs. This happens because the office space is raised above the parking and access occurs vertically via an elevator and stairs.