In New York City there are plenty of places to get drunk, starting with my kitchen. But most crave a more glamorous experience, and in a city of millions, glamor is often equated with exclusivity and secrecy. Faux speakeasys have become as much of a cliché as drunken fistfights in the Meatpacking District. Yet for a brief period earlier this year, a group of artists ran a true speakeasy in the most unusual of locations: A water tower atop an abandoned building in Chelsea.
While Amazon had already received City Hall approval to build a new HQ in Seattle, apparently they've had a change of heart with the design, perhaps inspired by the forthcoming Facebook West and the Apple Spaceship. The skyscraper part of Amazon's multi-building plan remains the same, but they're looking to switch up one of their low-rise structures for something a bit more eye-catching. Here's the previously-approved, now-scuttled building design:
You've heard the expression that [American] football is a game of inches. So, increasingly, is living in Manhattan.
This video of Luke Clark Tyler's apartment (captured by Kirsten Dirksen's Fair Companies) has racked up nearly two million hits, and for good reason: Tyler downsized from his previous 96-square-foot palace to shoehorn his life into a 78-square-foot studio. But what really makes this video distinct from other "tiny living" vids we've seen, and what should be of interest to the Core77 reader, is that Tyler is a trained architect who can design, build and install his own things, like his sideways Murphy Bed.
Also observe the little details, like how he's using eyehooks as toothbrush- and razor-holders and how the bottle-stays on his shelves are just wooden dowels held in place by two carefully-placed sheetrock screws on either side.
This is giving us a potentially cruel idea for design education—but before we get to that, watch the vid:
Of all the reasons why I could never be a construction worker—not strong enough, can't consistently wake up at 5am, don't know how to catcall—preeminent among them is my deathly fear of heights. It was terrifying to watch this video of construction workers hoisting the spire onto One World Trade Center (someone slapped a GoPro camera onto the thing). The crazy part is that at the end, you get to see a handful of guys jimmying the massive thing into place with what look like crowbars.
Warning: This video isn't edited at all, it's a continuous nine-minute shot of them hoisting the spire from the roof to the top of its supporting structure. Part of me wishes they'd fast-forwarded the video, though if they had I would've peed my pants or thrown up (probably both).
When it comes to innovations in staircases, we've seen ones that disappear (like this one and that one) but more often, it's staircases doing double-duty as storage (like this and that) that tend to get the most blog ink. And it's no wonder; stairs are handy places to stack things.
This South Korean house by architect Moon Hoon is the first new construction we've seen in which the staircase is specifically intended to do triple-duty: It's a means of ascending & descending, it's a storage unit, and it's furniture.
"The basic request of upper and lower spatial organization and the shape of the site prompted a long and thing house with fluctuating facade which would allow for more differentiated [views]," writes Moon. "The key was coming up with a multi-functional space which is a large staircase, bookshelves, casual reading space, home cinema, slide...."
Shel Kimen loves a good story, and hers is a tale of a grassroots effort to support a creative community in their time of need. She dreamt up Detroit Collision Works, a multipurpose boutique hotel, co-working space and venue for all-around awesomeness, in Summer of 2011, and they're hoping to Kickstart a prototype of a converted shipping container in time for Flower Day in the country's longest running farmer's market—exactly one month out, on May 18. With just 36 hours to go to raise $11,000 for First Container, Kimen was kind enough to take the time to tell us why we should care.
Awesome needs a place to be.
As people are all too eager to tell you, Detroit has some problems, with the economy, crime, and fractured communities. So when I was thinking about a move to Detroit after 14 years in New York City, I knew that whatever I was going to do had to address some real needs. Coming from the design world, I know that making a good product means understanding, intimately, the people that are going to use it. So the first thing I started doing when I got to Detroit was talk to people. Lots of them.
It started with a hotel. Amazingly, there was not a modern, boutique hotel in all of Detroit! Yet creative people from all over the world visit to work on design an innovation projects—for the auto industry, for bio-tech, for the city (we are an urban planners dream thesis), and to perform at or attend one of our legendary music festivals that combined bring in half a million people annually. Those are creative travelers!
So, ok, we need a cool hotel.
But a cool hotel isn't enough. We need a place for coming together, with our immediate communities, as a city, and inclusive of the many people who visit us. We need a place to accelerate the growth of our communities.
Collision Works is a creative space needed by the people living in Detroit now and the people coming to visit us. It's an artful 36-room boutique hotel, co-working facility, and public event space that uses storytelling to connect and engage travelers and locals alike. Our whole lives are stories—truth and fiction, history and imagination. Stories connect us, help us learn, and catalyze personal and community growth.
In celebration of the recent release of Lincoln Center Inside Out: An Architectural Account (Damiani 2013), the New York Public Library recently hosted Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio and Charles Renfro, principals of the eponymous architecture studio—stylized as Diller Scofidio + Renfro, or DS+R—in conversation with MoMA's Curator of Architecture Barry Bergdoll. Among other topics, the participants attempted to define the object itself, only to conclude that the beautifully-printed tome is beyond categorization: it is at once an art book, literally overflowing with beautiful full-bleed photography (more on that shortly), and a scholarly record of the decade-long redesign of one of New York City's iconic public spaces. Indeed, Diller offhandedly characterized Lincoln Center Inside Out as "an architectural porno book," though Bergdoll contended that it is as encyclopedic as it is eye-catching.
So too can the book be perused in a number of ways: At over 300 pages, Lincoln Center Inside Out is comprised almost entirely of gatefolds—which, as the panelists noted, might very well be a first for a comprehensive visual and quasi-technical document of such size and scope. The first tenth of the book consists of introductory text and a series of nicely laid-out conversations between DS+R's Ilana Altman and various, followed by some 30 gatefolds, each of which spans eight normal pages. The exterior panels of the pages invariably feature photos—interiors, exteriors, details, wide angles and even a few process shots—by Iwan Baan and Matthew Monteith, concealing explanatory text and images within. Suffice it to say that Lincoln Center Inside Out (pun most certainly intended) is about as comprehensive as they come.
Photo at top: Alice Tully Hall, Iwan Baan, 2008
Bergdoll lauded the book's built-in experience of discovery as Scofidio acknowledged that the design serves as "a metaphor for the travails [of the project]," which looks immaculate on the surface but actually goes several layers deep. In fact, he later disclosed that the "archaeology of the space" was a challenge unto itself: By some accounts, upwards of half of the total cost went into bringing the woefully neglected substructure up to code (fun facts: there is a full gas station in the parking garage and there is a river underneath Juilliard).
The metaphor applies not just to space but to time as well: Diller commented that the highly tactile, physical construction of Lincoln Center Inside Out serves to slow readers down and take their time absorbing the dense vignettes, which cover everything from grass species for the 'hypar' (hyperbolic paraboloid) roof lawn to the form studies for the prow-like geometry of the new Juilliard building.
Well, the title sort of gives it away, but I recently came across this wacky edifice that's made web rounds at least a couple times since it surfaced a few years ago. According to Building.am, the Piano Violin House was built in the Anhui District of Huainan City, China, back in 2007.
This romantic house was designed by the students of the architectural design faculty of Hefey University of Technology with the designers of the company Huainan Fangkai Decoration Project Co.... a breadboard model inside [the] house displays various city plans and development prospects in an effort to draw interest into the recently developed area.
The pair of instruments reportedly comes in at 50:1 scale to their playable counterparts, but this fact strikes me as patently false: at relative scale, the stringed instrument is more likely to be modeled after a cello than a violin, and even then it comes in at what looks like upwards of 50% too big.
Of course, the 'keys' are also completely out of proportion as well.
"These extra-dangerous stairs lead right to the ceiling, guaranteeing a concussion for your curious child."
What do you do when you love Mid-Century Modern design, but you also have kids?
Projectophile is the website of Clare, a 30-something mother of three, and it's fascinating in that she essentially documents how she uses craft to keep herself sane. "[Prior to having children] my entire adult life—including college—had been occupied by challenging jobs that were full of outlets for creativity and even humor," she writes. "I was used to sharing my days (and many evenings) with smart, passionate, funny adults. And now they were shared with stinky, whiny, endlessly needy children." So she started doing things like Studio Night, where after the tykes are asleep she turns the living room into a studio, hacking together things like a standing desk of her own design.
"My style," Clare writes, "can best be described as Mid-Century Modern meets keeping-dangerous-things-away-from-small-children." Oh yeah, don't let that "stinky, whiny, endlessly needy children" line fool you; it's clear that the woman loves her kids to death. Speaking of which, to bring it back to the first question, she put together this amusing compilation of "15 Mid-Century Modern Dream Homes that will Kill Your Children." Here are some excerpts, captions hers:
Red arrows show the direction of travel of children's bodies
Hard to believe it's been nearly two years since we saw that video of Steve Jobs pitching Apple's Norman-Foster-designed "spaceship" HQ to the Cupertino City Council. Jobs, sadly, passed away just months later. But Jobs' influence is still very much ingrained in the ongoing design process of the building. That is why the building will likely be magnificent. It is also why the timetable has been pushed back to 2016, and why the cost estimate has now risen to nearly $5 billion. (For scale, the new World Trade Center in NYC rings in at $3.9 billion.)
We know Apple's got curved glass down, though it isn't cheap to produce. We know the building's plans call for it to sustainably generate its own electricity, as many of their facilities now do, and that that isn't cheap either. But as Businessweek reports,
The true expense of the campus lies not in green tech, though, as much as the materials--as well as what product designers call "fit and finish." As with Apple's products, Jobs wanted no seam, gap, or paintbrush stroke showing; every wall, floor, and even ceiling is to be polished to a supernatural smoothness. All of the interior wood was to be harvested from a specific species of maple, and only the finer-quality "heartwood" at the center of the trees would be used, says one person briefed on the plan last year.
That's not the crazy part, though. This is: "Jobs insisted that the tiny gaps where walls and other surfaces come together be no more than 1/32 of an inch across, vs. the typical 1/8 inch in most U.S. construction." Anyone who's ever built anything or installed anything using conventional power tools knows that's insanely difficult. It's easy for even an inexperienced craftsperson to take 1/8-inch off of something, as that's the width of a sawblade. The skilled among you can get things down to 1/16, even by eyeballing. But I don't know anyone who can consistently hit 1/32. It's not just twice as hard as getting something down to 1/16, it is an order of magnitude more difficult, and essentially demands less humans and more CNC.
If that didn't get your attention, maybe this will:
Jobs even wanted the ceilings to be polished concrete. Contractors would typically erect molds with crude scaffolds to pour the cement in place, but that leaves unsightly ruts where the scaffolding puts extra pressure on the surfaces. According to two people who've seen the plans, Apple will instead cast the ceilings in molds on the floor and lift them into place, a far more expensive approach that left one person involved in the project speechless.
I should point out that I don't think these demands are crazy in a pejorative way; if anyone can pull this off, it's Apple. Shareholders are complaining about the price of construction, but you don't build something like this purely to increase the bottom line. Jobs said it best during his pitch to the Council: "We have a shot at building the best office building in the world. I really do think that architecture students will come here to see it."
It's interesting to see that certain design world dynamics can scale up and down. Even the lone, unknown freelance designer will recognize the following situation: The client says they want a bold, new redesign, and they hire you based on your book. So you give them a bold, new redesign. With every new meeting they have you tone the design down more and more, and then you realize that "bold, new redesign" doesn't mean the same thing to everyone.
Apparently that dynamic is happening on a larger scale with Facebook West, the forthcoming Frank-Gehry-designed HQ. While the Menlo Park City Council recently approved the 433,555-square-foot structure, Mercury News reports that the Council's approval meeting also contained this tidbit:
[Gehry's] creative partner, Craig Webb, told the city council that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other company officials asked that the design for the Menlo Park building be low key. As a result, some of the earlier ideas, such as one that envisioned the building's ends flaring out like butterfly wings, were dropped, Webb said.
"They felt some of those things were too flashy and not in keeping with the kind of the culture of Facebook, so they asked us to make it more anonymous," Webb said. "Frank (Gehry) was quite willing to tone down some of the expression of architecture in the building."
One significant design feature unchanged from what we described back in August is that the entire structure will be one huge room. That provides design challenges of its own, and the Silicon Valley Biz Blog, which also sat in on the Council meeting, describes the solution:
It might be one giant room, but architects are sensitive to a potential pitfall with this approach: creating a vast sea that lacks a sense of place. So designers are placing services - from mother's rooms to game zones - at strategic locations to break up the space. Still, it should be possible for a Facebooker in the center of the space to have a line of sight from one side of the building to the other.
Lastly, it appears the building will be covered in a rooftop park complete with trees. Wired snagged these shots from the Menlo Park City Council:
Up above is The Art of Japanese Joinery, a book I jealously guarded for years because it could only be found at Kinokuniya; nowadays you can get it on Amazon. Inside are photos of the fiendishly complicated joints that traditional Japanese carpenters used to cut using pull saws (like this one on Hand-Eye Supply) and the like, constructing both houses and enormous temples completely free of metal fasteners. And the joints were strong enough to withstand earthquakes.
It's hard to believe the book is from 1977, as everything in it looks like it was cut by a CNC machine rather than guys named Yoshi and Taka who drink Ki-Rin on the weekends. Nowadays, of course, the Japanese traditional carpenter is being supplanted by CNC machinery, but at least they're still used during the assembly and final finishing phases of house construction. Doobybrain dug up this video from '11 showing a Japanese CNC shop preparing lumber for house construction, followed by footage of the builders putting it up:
A buddy of mine who works in construction has disabused me of my builder envy; there is nothing fun, he has pointed out, about straddling a header and trying to wrestle a Glulam beam into place with guys named Bobby and Tommy who drink Miller on the weekends. But seeing the guys in this video snap each precisely-cut piece into place looks... satisfying, no?
We all know TV programs are fake, but for New Yorkers, nothing drives that home more than the sight of the gargantuan Manhattan apartments depicted on shows like "Friends," "Seinfeld" or "How I Met Your Mother." And now, thanks to Inaki Aliste Lizarralde, you can see how absurdly spacious they look in plan view.
Spain-based Lizarralde is an interior designer with an odd, if fascinating hobby: "In my free time I make detailed floorplans based [on] famous TV shows and movies."
Lizarralde's not limited to NYC-based shows, nor particular genres or eras; alongside the pads of Carrie Bradshaw are Lucy & Ricky Ricardo's pre-war (amusingly done in black & white), Frasier's luxury digs in Seattle, the house from Up, and even the humble abode of the Simpsons, to name just a few.
Lizarralde sells the illustrations on Etsy, each in a variety of scales—with attendantly higher or lower prices. That concept, at least, will strike a note of reality with city dwellers: You can have it bigger, but you'll have to shell out.
Upon entering the lobby of the Harvard Graduate School of Design last Wednesday, one might be surprised to discover a line of people from the GSD auditorium doors, down the hallway, and spilling into the ChauHaus (i.e. student cafeteria).
First thought: What are all these non-architects doing here?
The chance to hear a world-renowned, Pritzker Architectural Prize-winning and former Harvard GSD faculty architect inspired an impressive turnout for good reason. As one of the few contemporary architects to gain widespread fame outside of design circles, Zaha Hadid holds a unique place in the contemporary architectural landscape—pun intended. Over the course of her wildly successful career, she has been referred to as everything from an architectural trailblazer to a design diva (and not in the good way).
Whether you love or hate the sweeping curves or fragmented geometry that have become her trademark, the hype has vaulted Hadid to the upper echelon of fame and recognition amongst the black-turtleneck-wearing architecture crowd and mere mortals alike. If you're not sold, she also designed the London Aquatics Center for the 2012 Olympic Games and some great plastic shoes.
Photos: Paul Fiegenschue
The lecture began with a brief introduction from Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of the GSD, friend and former classmate of Hadid's. Mostafavi said of Hadid:
When she first started to develop her work, some people talked about how it was about the calligraphic line.It's interesting to see how the office has managed to bridge that line, between the calligraphic and the whole domain of digital culture and the impact of computation on the firm.
The auditorium was abuzz with GSD students anticipating a talk from a giant of contemporary architecture. Likewise, several impromptu simulcasting rooms throughout the GSD were also abuzz with muffled complaints about not being able to see Zaha in person.
The presentation was a rapid-fire roll-call of conceptual and completed works from across the globe by Zaha Hadid Architects, the London-based studio Hadid founded and runs with partner Patrik Schumacher (also in attendance at the lecture).
CMA CGM Headquarters, 2010
A particularly interesting view into Hadid's process came in her discussion of a series of tower concepts that the firm had been working on for over a decade. The concept renderings and sketches shown appeared to develop their own distinct language for how the towers met the ground, often splaying out and connecting to the preexisting urban topography.
It was announced yesterday that BIG, a.k.a. the Bjarke Ingels Group, has won the $2.4 million contract to design the Smithsonian Institution's master plan. The fittingly-named BIG is tackling a gargantuan task: The Smithsonian is the world's largest museum and research complex, spanning 19 museums, nine research facilities and the National Zoological Park. As Ingels explains,
The abundance of historical heritage, the diversity of architectural languages and the cacophony of exhibits are tied together by a labyrinthine network of spaces above and below ground - inside and outside. Our task is to explore the collections with The Smithsonian and together attempt to untie the Gordian Knot of intertwined collections to unearth the full potential of this treasure chamber of artifacts.
While details are not yet fleshed out, the new master plan will reportedly include "a striking grand entrance for the [Smithsonian] Castle and adjacent Museuems," as well as a network of underground tunnels to better connect the collections. This will make it easier for the 30 million visitors who come through each year to better access the 137 million items in the Institution's holdings.
If you're wondering how one firm could possibly tackle a job this size, the answer is, they won't do it alone: BIG will be leading the following diverse team into the fray.
Winblok is a South African construction innovation by inventor Al Stratford, former president of the South African Institute of Architects. Intended to be used in buildings constructed with masonry, it's essentially a modular, pre-cast concrete window frame that negates the need for sills, reveals and the like; you just brick right up against it (and over it) and you're done. A reveal on one edge is fitted for a window, and the architect specs out which way the Winbloks face, providing options for having the window flush with the inside wall or the outside wall. A variety of different window styles are designed to fit within the system, as well as louvres and burglar bars.
Winbloks are made in different heights for reasons of passive solar management. By cross-referencing the latitude of the building site, the architect can choose the appropriately-sized Winblok to create a "solar cut-off angle," blocking direct sunlight while allowing in the ambient light. This is to lower cooling costs and obviate the need for additional shades and overhangs.
I'm not sure why these haven't gained much traction outside of South Africa; any practicing architects want to chime in? While it's designed for masonry construction and not, say, the dimension lumber platform-frame construction prevalent in much of the U.S., there's plenty of places that use masonry construction in the American Southwest, so I'd imagine I'd have heard of this system before. Because it definitely isn't new—Stratford used it to build his own house shortly after prototyping it, and that was back in 1980. Winblok hit the marketplace in 1985, and today Stratford's company, Wintec Innovation, is still a successful venture.
Design is about problem-solving, but to some extent we're constrained in what problems we can solve by the boxes our profession places us in. Few of us have the juice to enact widespread control over every aspect of a project. As a result, some of us learn to know "our place," which is not necessarily a pejorative; some can accomplish amazing things within tight constraints. But others start blurring the boundaries between disciplines in an effort to effect holistic change.
Susannah Drake falls in that latter category. In this quick but informative chat, the dlandstudio founder explains how she realized she'd have to expand from architecture into landscape architecture to enact the changes she wanted to see—and that the Gowanus community in Brooklyn, home to a particuarly polluted and flood-prone canal, desperately needed.
In 1792, architect James Hoban won a design competition to create this house where, like, the President would live. They called it the White House and it was pretty cool, so we decided to keep it after Thomas Jefferson moved out of it. Then in 1814, British troops came over here and set the place on fire, because you Brits used to be a bunch of jerks. It took us three years to repair the damage, so I think you guys owe us.
Sometime around 1900, our visionary President Teddy Roosevelt added a West Wing, presciently predicting both Martin Sheen's career arc and the high Nielsen ratings a TV show by that name would garner. President Taft later added an office with a kooky oval shape, presumably because he hated the construction guys hired to frame the room out. And in the mid-1940s, as World War II wrapped up, we added an East Wing for the sake of rough symmetry.
Well, all that construction and renovation combined with British pyromania apparently took its toll on the building, because by 1948 it was a crumbling hunk of crap. The ceiling sagged six inches in some places and the Grand Staircase was in danger of collapsing. A Congressional committee was formed, and they urged then-President Truman to do what Americans do: Throw it out and get a new one. But Truman wasn't having it, and instead decided to gut the entire thing.
We're glad we didn't have to put this list together: Argentinian architect Andrea Stinga and creative director Federico Gonzalez compiled a list called The ABC of Architects, "an alphabetical list of the most important architects with their best known building." They then distilled those buildings into simplified graphics and animated it into a video:
The video was done for fun and isn't meant to be a completely comprehensive list. "A lot of [architects] have been left out with grief because we only need one for each letter," write Stinga and Gonzalez, "and we [made] an effort to [include a multitude of] nationalities."
Several readers voiced various plaints about Balzer & Kuwertz's recently-seen Pallet Chairs, but I was most convinced by Scott #2's comment that "Pallets are reused for shipping over and over, so it's not like you're saving materials from the waste stream." According to IFCO—"the largest pallet services company in the county"—"less than 3% of the nearly 700 million pallets manufactured and repaired each year end up in landfills according to a study by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and the USDA Forestry Service."
Even so, pallets remain a compelling material for their pragmatic provenance and rugged aesthetics, as in Toronto-based Dubbeldam Architecture + Design's recent Pop-Up Office. Designed for the How Do You Work special exhibition at last month's Interior Design Show in their hometown, the workspace concept consists of five different modules come in standard dimensions based partly on their source material.
There has been a profound shift in the way we work; when all we need is a surface to work on and a place to plug in, the working environment is no longer static. Mobility, adaptability and flexibility are the new key elements of the modern office.
The POP-UP Office is an installation that explores the evolving way in which we work. Using modular units that can be combined in different ways, the result is a workspace that is simultaneously bare bones and tailored to the individual. Built out of reclaimed wood pallet boards and their frames, separate modules collectively form the modern work place facilitating both individual work and collaboration—a workspace, collaborative space, lounge area and refueling station. In sinuous forms, the reclaimed boards morph from the wall and floor into furniture elements, sanded where the human body comes in contact with the wood and left rough where it does not. The modules are comprised of separate planes (floor, wall, ceiling) and furniture elements that are assembled in different configurations. Modular shelves can be inserted into slots between wall boards, creating adjustable display and storage areas. Smaller ledges slide into gaps between the wood slats.
The possibilities are endless; easily transported, reconfigurable and rapidly deployed, pop-up offices are designed for short term use, atypical applications such as outdoor festivals or disaster relief situations, or start-ups looking for modest office space. With the playful use of materials, lighting and furniture components, each module is made distinct, while being easily reconfigured to fit individual needs. Stripping away the superfluous, the POP-UP Office embodies adaptability—the space itself morphs in conjunction with workplace needs.
Boston-based architecture firm NADAAA designed the residence above in the Modernist style, but using lots of wood where I'd have expected concrete and glass, if I'd only seen line drawings. What most caught my eye are the subtle ways they've chosen to detail the otherwise plain boards:
I wanted to see more, but photos of the property are sparse. On NADAAA's website, however, they've got more innovative takes on wood construction, like their interesting Oro Bookshelf. A traditional bookshelf has a panel on the back that squares up the frame, but NADAAA wanted a pass-through bookshelf, meaning they needed to build extra strength into the corners. And rather than shoring them up with traditional joinery, they incorporated these bent plywood braces:
The NYC Mayor's Office has just announced the winner of the adAPT NYC design competition, which sought designs for liveable micro-apartments. nARCHITECTS' "My Micro NY" design, which specifies modular units from 250 to 370 square feet, has beaten out 33 other submissions to take the top prize. A building assembled from 55 of these units will be erected in Manhattan at an unspecified date in the future, and when it does, it will be Manhattan's first multiunit modular building.
Imagine you had to build four towers, one of them nearly the tallest in Manhattan, on top of nearly a dozen active train tracks—without disrupting the daily train traffic. That's the challenge faced by Brookfield Properties, the developers of the Manhattan West project a block west of Penn Station, and their team: The architecture firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, mechanical engineering firm Laros, Baum & Bolles and railroad & civil engineering outfit Parsons Transportation.
Here's the wicked proposed solution:
I found the proposal fascinating, even as I asked myself: Who the hell wants to live in the west 30s?
Per its progressive mission, the Young Architects Program at MoMA PS1 is a perennial celebration of experimental urban architecture, a design-build complement to their beloved summer event series Warm-Up. Each year for over a decade now, the contemporary art space has solicited proposals for a temporary 'pavilion' in the enclosed schoolyard space, selecting a winner from the five finalists. Earlier this week, they announced that CODA's Party Wall had been selected over proposals by Leong Leong, Moorehead & Moorehead, TempAgency and French 2D [Note: we also covered last year's winner].
The Ithaca, New York-based firm's design is a three-story tall structure that spans much of the length of the courtyard, a freestanding steel scaffolding that is bedecked, in a manner of speaking, with offcuts from fellow eco-minded, Ithaca-based company Comet Skateboards. "Byproducts of Comet Skateboards' manufacturing process, called "bones," are woven together to form an imperfect and porous façade using off-the-shelf hardware."
Party Wall sits on a low, stage-like platform—made from the extant VW Dome in the courtyard—which also serves to connect the multiple outdoor spaces of the schoolyard. The movable benches (also "prototyped using the uncut but misprinted bones") can be configured for various scenarios: "not only the pool party, the dance party and some architectural tourists [but also] lectures, classes, discussions, dining, performances, film screenings and even, perhaps, a wedding."
In the midst of the Mayan calendar predictions, prophecies came and went and on 12-12-12 in New York, the Mexican architect Fernando Romero released his book You Are The Context at the Guggenheim Museum. The launch was a celebration of what comes next, a young career full of potential and a designer with the means to create change in and out of Mexico.
Romero and his firm FR-EE published the book as a catalog of architecture projects erected and for consideration around the world. In an email he writes, "It is a manifesto of today's context for designers." The book reads like an architecture self-help guide: a serious investigation of trending topics in building and social design: museums, mixed-use, responsible vertical, cities, convention centers, bridges, etc.
The book starts "Since the mid-1960s, as a reaction against the formalism and functionalism of Modernism, the word context has seen a common and frequently used term in architectural discourse." Romero and FR-EE are pushing an agenda with regards to careful attention to the key elements of site, culture, time and society. These are considerations for a future architecture.
You Are The Context is self-published and reads as part calling card/part industry resource. FR-EE hopes to ignite conversations around key issues, shed light on the positive developments in Mexico, and also to bid for some US territory or at least make it's voice more laudable.
Romero won international acclaim for designing Museo Soumaya in 2011, a sequined hourglass of a museum housing Carlos Slim Helú's prestigious art collection in Mexico City. Romero is prone to organic shapes and experimental forms. His mentors include Enric Miralles, Jean Nouvel and Rem Koolhaas.