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architecture

Quote of Note | Snøhetta’s Craig Dykers

dykers“As architects, we often talk about the concept for something, and that’s interesting because I’ve never heard anyone walk into a building, drop to their knees, and say, ‘Whoa, what a fucking great concept.’ It just doesn’t happen. For us, the concept takes the form of a question. The question can be kind of mysterious or funny. The question can be dangerous. But the best questions, as any child will tell you, are questions that lead to other questions. And so what does that mean in terms of architecture? One of the questions we ask ourselves is, who are making things for? Obviously we’re making them for people. People are not abstractions. We can’t always predict what people do. Do as we design we’re asking, what range of reactions can we expect? The open nature of the design allows people to connect with each other in a civilized manner, even if they seek challenges.”

-Craig Dykers, a founding partner of Snøhetta, in an interview that appears in the March 24 “design issue” of Bloomberg Businessweek. Dykers will be lecturing this evening at Cooper Union’s Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture.

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Shigeru Ban Wins Pritzker Prize

shigeru ban

“Firmness, commodity, and delight.” These are the three words—cribbed from Vitruvius, who considered “firmitas, utilitas, venustas” to be the fundamental principles of architecture—that appear on the Louis Sullivan-inspired bronze medallion that is awarded to each laureate of the Pritzker architecture prize. This year the coveted hardware goes to Shigeru Ban, who’ll receive it along with $100,000 at a ceremony at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam on June 13.

Ban is the seventh Japanese architect to receive the prize, which has previously been awarded to Toyo Ito, Kenzo Tange, Fumihiko Maki, Tadao Ando, and SANAA’s Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa. “Receiving this prize is a great honor, and with it, I must be careful,’ said Ban upon learning that he had been selected as the 2014 laureate. “I must continue to listen to the people I work for, in my private residential commissions and in my disaster relief work. I see this prize as encouragement for me to keep doing what I am doing—not to change what I am doing, but to grow.“ Ban’s latest stateside project, a new building for the Aspen Art Museum, will be unveiled this summer.

New U.S. Embassy in London to Showcase 007-Level Security and Style

Having outgrown its home in the Eero Saarinen-designed London Chancery Building, the Embassy of the United States in London is getting a new home. Nancy Lazarus sizes up the project, a transparent, crystalline cube now taking shape on London’s South Bank.

View from northeast
(Renderings courtesy of KieranTimberlake/Studio amd.)

“The U.S. government is taking their design seriously again,” said David Sprouls, president of the New York School of Interior Design. His proof? Under the State Department’s Excellence in Diplomatic Facilities program, the American government is commissioning noted architects and designers to build embassies and consulates worldwide. He spoke briefly at NYSID’s “Design Diplomacy” event last week, where plans for the new London embassy were previewed.

Currently 31 international projects are in the design or construction phase, and these facilities have evolved beyond the purpose-built or modern compounds of earlier U.S. embassies, according to Jerry Withers, project manager at the State Department’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations that manages the program. They’re part of the 2010 Embassy Design and Security Act, whose flexible design standards encourages more local influences and cultures.

“Showcasing and representing America well abroad while still being functional, sustainable and safe”: those are the tall tasks of the embassy design program, Withers said. One of the toughest design challenges is to convey U.S. openness since security requirements have tightened in the wake of overseas incidents.

The new U.S. embassy in London is the most high-profile project, and it began about six years ago, when Kieran Timberlake was awarded the architectural design after an international competition. November 2013 marked the groundbreaking and the opening is slated for 2017.
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Documentary Explores Vision of Paolo Soleri

soleri

Paolo Soleri gets his close-up in a documentary now making the festival rounds (next stop: Sedona). Lisa Scafuro‘s The Vision Of Paolo Soleri: Prophet in The Desert explores the life and work of the Italian-born architect, urban designer, artist, craftsman, and philosopher, who died last April at the age of 93. The film traces Soleri’s path from his formative time at Taliesin West, where he worked under Frank Lloyd Wright before setting off on a course of his own, driven by the dream to create an environment in harmony with people. Check the film’s Facebook page for news of the latest screenings. In the Washington, D.C. area? The Vision Of Paolo Soleri will screen at the National Building Museum on the evening of March 24.

How Did Brunelleschi’ Do It? NOVA Explores Mystery of Florence’s Duomo

The dome that crowns Florence’s cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is six centuries old, stands 40 stories high, is made of more than four million bricks, and weighs about the same as a modern cruise ship, but how did the largest masonry dome on earth come to be? NOVA takes on the Renaissance marvel–and its maker, Filippo “Who needs buttresses?” Brunelleschi–in Great Cathedral Mystery, which premieres Wednesday night on PBS.

Tel Aviv Architecture Gets Illustrated Tribute

tel_aviv

A stubborn Israeli landlord is partially to thank for a delightful new Tumblr. When that building owner refused to extend Avner Gicelter’s lease, he and his partner were forced to search for a new apartment in central Tel Aviv, which in 2003 was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its collection of more than 4,000 Bauhaus and International Style buildings. “That process awakened my dormant passion for Tel Aviv’s unique architecture, and I got more interested in the buildings than in the apartment we were looking for,” says Gicelter, a graphic designer. He decided to share his interest with the world through Tel Aviv Buildings, a site inspired in part by Jose Guizar’s Windows of New York. “I wanted to use this simple yet very honorable way of design to show my love for my hometown and its most beautiful buildings.” We asked Gicelter more about the project and some of his favorite Tel Aviv buildings.

How do you describe the architecture of Tel Aviv?
I don’t really have a professional way to describe Tel Aviv’s architecture, only a point of view as a designer—in Tel Aviv’s central area (where you can find most of my illustrated buildings) there are two major architecture styles: the eclectic style which was active during the 1920s and 30s, and the International Style which was the major architecture movement during the 1930-50s and led UNESCO to name Tel Aviv as a world heritage site for its International Style architecture. I think that the difference between these two styles creates an unique and very interesting dialogue throughout the street of the city. In my opinion this dialogue is the best way to describe Tel Aviv’s architecture.

How do you decide which buildings to illustrate?
I start by walking throughout the city’s old areas. During that I shoot photos of buildings I find interesting, whether it is their architectural style, the way the residents designed their balconies or the presence of the building in the street. After choosing and shooting the buildings, I illustrate them with the pictures as reference.
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And Then There Were Five: Vancouver Art Gallery Announces Architectural Shortlist

vag siteWestern Canada’s largest art gallery—and with a permanent collection of more than 10,000 artworks, it’s firmly in art museum territory—is in expansion mode. Planning is underway for a bigger (310,000 square feet), better Vancouver Art Gallery, which will be located on a city-owned site in downtown Vancouver. The aim of the project is “to create an architecturally significant visual art museum that places prominence on artists and art and that celebrates the rich cultural context of Vancouver.” But who will design it? The gallery has narrowed a pool of 75 architectural firms from 16 countries to an all-star shortlist of five: Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Herzog & de Meuron, KPMB Architects, SANAA, and Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects. Will KPMB convert on the home-country advantage? Will Herzog & de Meuron ride their recent art-smart triumphs in Watermill and Miami to another commission? Will a field trip to Philly’s Barnes Foundation seal the deal for team TWBT? Stay tuned, art and design fans, the announcement of the winning firm is expected this spring.

Parrish Art Museum, Adidas by Tom Dixon Among Travel + Leisure Design Award Winners

tl winners

adidas tom dixonBefore planning your next trip, be sure to review the newly crowned winners of the Travel + Leisure Design Awards, which will be featured in the magazine’s February issue (on newsstands next Friday). The winners, announced today, range from a brilliant Nordic eatery and Tom Dixon‘s Adidas travel togs (at right) to the latest Ian Schrager-meets-Marriott project and an intimate Bhutanese getaway. Many of this year’s favorites will come as no surprise, including the Herzog & de Meuron-designed Parrish Art Museum and Jawbone’s travel-ready Mini Jambox. Meanwhile, 2013 T+L Design Champion Thomas J. Pritzker, executive chairman of Hyatt Hotels, joins past honorees such as Vitra chairman Rolf Fehlbaum, ubercollector Micky Wolfson, and Standardbearer André Balazs. Tasked with choosing “the best new examples of design” in 18 categories was a jury moderated by Chee Pearlman that included fashion designer Thom Browne, MoMA’s Kathy Halbreich, and interior designer Ilse Crawford. Keep reading for the full list of winners.
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The Making of the Gingerbread White House

One of the benefits of being President of the United States that you won’t read about in civics textbooks is the opportunity to admire for at least four and as many as eight Decembers, a 300-pound, edible replica of your home without ever leaving it. (And because you are the President, no one can stop you from uprooting a fondant fir or two for a quick taste test.)

This year, the White House chronicled the creation of its gingerbread doppelgänger in this video, which compresses several weeks of work—led by Pastry Chef-in-Chief Bill Yosses—into less than two action-packed minutes. The finished product, now on view in the State Dining Room until what we imagine to be an epic New Year’s Eve demolition party, includes a functioning replica of the North Lawn fountain and not-to-scale models of the Obama family dogs, Bo and Sunny.

Slalom Occasion: W Hotel Verbier Debuts Slopeside at Swiss Alps Resort

As Miami heats up with art and design happenings, writer Nancy Lazarus looks to Art Basel’s home country for a look at how W Hotels is schussing into the ski resort market.

w verbier room

verbierSki-in and ski-out access is de rigueur among alpine enthusiasts, particularly those who trek to the vast, steep slopes of Switzerland. The new W Verbier and The Residences at W Verbier offer just the ticket for avid downhillers and après-ski fans, with a prime location at the base of the mountain’s Medran gondola. Though to get there they may have to navigate past St. Bernards, either via the St. Bernard Express regional train or the Great St. Bernard Pass mountain road.

The W brand’s first Swiss property covers all terrains, with state-of-the-art lodgings, spa, restaurant, bars, and cafe. Much like Verbier’s four valleys ski area, the W resort is laid out in a series of four chalet-style wooden buildings interconnected by glass atria that feature climbing walls. W’s parent company, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, worked with Les Trios Rocs, the owners of the luxury development project.

“We wanted to bring the location to life in a W way,” said Ted Jacobs, W Hotels’ VP of global design, during a recent stateside press preview. The brand partnered with Dutch design agency Concrete Architectural Associates on the lodgings and with Spanish Michelin-star chef Sergi Arola on the cuisine.
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