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architecture

Quote of Note | Robert A.M. Stern


(Photo: Henry Gould Harvey IV for Bloomberg Businessweek)

“The computer makes it possible for us to talk to our clients and collaborators around the world. The computer’s also made it possible to invent or discover new shapes. And that’s tricky because, yes, it is possible virtually to represent any shape you want. Everybody says, ‘Oh, Stern, you’re just old-fashioned.’ Well, maybe I am, but I still like right angles.

I don’t use a computer. I get e-mail, and it gets printed out for me, and I read it as though it was a letter sent to me in the mail. I write the answer longhand, and I get it typed. I take pride in what it looks like. I must say, many people who send you e-mails either can’t or won’t spell.”

-Architect and Yale School of Architecture dean Robert A.M. Stern in an interview with Sam Grobart for Bloomberg Businessweek‘s “Ice Cream Break: Questions Over Cones” series. Stern opted for coffee-flavored ice cream.

Green Is Good: Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park Opens in NYC

Watch out, High Line, there’s a new park in town. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was on hand yesterday to unveil a 5.5-acre waterfront park and several roadways at the site of the Hunter’s Point South development in Queens. We dispatched writer Nancy Lazarus to assess the city’s newest green space.


The multi-use green oval at Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park, which opened to the public yesterday. (All photos: Albert Vecerka/Esto)

Many New Yorkers know Long Island City from the Silvercup or Pepsi signs visible across the East River. Art enthusiasts associate LIC with galleries, studios, and MoMA’s PS1. With the opening of Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park, locals now have recreational reasons to visit. So hop on the subway or East River Ferry and bring your cameras, bicycles, bathing suits, and dogs to NYC’s newest waterfront oasis.

Hunter’s Point South development, formerly known as “Queens West,” would have hosted an Olympic village if New York had won its 2012 bid. New York City Economic Development Corporation is overseeing the project, and Thomas Balsley Associates and Weiss/Manfredi collaborated on Phase 1, the design of the park and open space, with ARUP acting as prime consultant and infrastructure designers. Affordable housing and a school are also being built.

During a recent press tour, Marion Weiss, Michael Manfredi, and Thomas Balsley described how they converted the former marshland and industrial area for leisure use. While the tour was on a bright sunny day, the area was designed to be sustainable and to withstand storms. According to Weiss, the park flooded briefly during storm Sandy, but the water quickly receded, thanks to their water runoff and conservation system. There’s more official interest now in addressing potential floods, Manfredi added.
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Hello, Fada: Le Corbusier’s Radiant Rooftop Revealed

Nearly 50 years after his death, Le Corbusier is the man of the moment. The Swiss-born French multitasker is the subject of an exhibition (on view through September 23) at the Museum of Modern Art and the creator of a lamp that inspired Kanye West‘s latest album, while across the pond, Corbu’s modernist housing complex has been reborn at the hands of a self-described “icon­o­­clas­tic artist,” aged 36. We sent our man in Marseille Marc Kristal up on the roof.


(Photo: Olivier Amsellem)

It’s been a big year for architecture in Marseille. As part of the city’s designation as 2013’s European Capital of Culture, fifteen major projects, including new construction and renovations, have been created in the city and Provence region—everything from Rudy Ricciotti’s magisterial Museum of the Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean on Marseille’s J4 waterfront esplanade to the resurrection of the Eden Cinéma, the world’s first movie house, in La Ciotat (opening in October) to groundbreaking on Fondation Vasarély, set to open in 2014-15 in Aix-en-Provence.

But while benefiting from le hubbub surrounding the culture capital festivities, one of the year’s most exciting projects is an unaffiliated private undertaking with a major public component: the restoration and reopening of the rooftop gymnasium/solarium of Le Corbusier’s enormously influential 1952 housing complex, Cité Radieuse.

Despite its international reputation, Corbu’s original “Unité d’Habitation” is known locally as “La Maison du Fada”—Provençal for “The Crazy Person’s House”—as the people of Marseille responded less than enthusiastically when the Brutalist “vertical village,” with its 337 cleverly configured apartments, hotel, restaurant, shops, and school, was completed. The roof, which had been altered in ways that contravened Corbu’s intentions and fell into disrepair, was put up for sale in 2010 and quickly snapped up by the polymath French architect/designer Ito Morabito—known commonly by his nom de design Ora-Ïto—who has impeccably restored the interior and exterior spaces and transformed them into an art center he calls Marseille Modulor (in honor of Corbu’s human-scaled system of measurement) or MAMO (a playful tweaking of New York’s MoMA) for short.
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L.A.’s Petersen Automotive Museum Reveals ‘Early Sketch’ for Exterior Redesign


(Courtesy Petersen Automotive Museum)

The Pedersen Art Museum made headlines recently for what the Los Angeles Times characterized as a plan to sell off “a third of its 400 classic cars” to finance a major renovation and “put more emphasis on motorcycles and French vehicles…passions that match the tastes of the museum’s new leadership.” That leadership was not amused and has fired back with a statement intended to set the record straight.

“The collection has now reached over 400 pieces. Not only are we unable to showcase all of the vehicles, but maintaining and keeping that many cars in running order is virtually impossible,” wrote museum board chairman Peter Mullin and co-vice-chairman Bruce Meyer in an open letter posted to the museum’s website. “We are culling the collection for the first time in nearly 20 years, selling cars that can easily be procured on loan or vehicles that were never intended for exhibition.” The only vehicles that are being sold, according to Mullin and Meyer, are those “that we have in multiples or are not in show-worthy condition.”
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Phaidon Debuts Architecture Travel Guide App

The Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century Architecture and The Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary World Architecture are inspiring sourcebooks for the ages, but as with many authoritative, lushly illustrated volumes, it is impossible to fit them in one’s pocket, unless one has very special pants. Fear not, culture-conscious traveler, because Phaidon has just released The Phaidon Architecture Travel Guide App, an iPhone- or iPad-ready resource that’s yours for $3.99 from the iTunes store. With some 1,500 projects from 840 architectural practices (cherrypicked from both atlases), the app can be browsed by location, project, practice, and building type. Plus, the bookmarking options make it easy to create a “To See” list of architecture marvels around the globe. And travelers, take heart: no Wi-Fi or 3G is required to run the app.

Got an app we should know about? Drop us a line at unbeige [at] mediabistro.com

Studio Gang to Design UChicago Dorm

The University of Chicago doesn’t want for distinctive architecture. The campus is home to buildings designed by everyone from Eero Saarinen and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to Rafael Viñoly and Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, whose 184,000-square-foot Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts opened last year. And in a few years, some 800 undergrads will get to live (and eat) in a dorm designed by Chicago’s own Jeanne Gang.

The university has selected Studio Gang Architects to design a major new residence hall and dining commons on the north end of the UChicago campus. The firm will work with Mortenson Construction on the project, which is expected to open in 2016 and will shoot for LEED Gold certification. “We are excited to develop our design that focuses on creating vibrant student communities within the residence halls, connected to a series of new, active public green spaces and environments,” said Gang in a statement issued Tuesday. Read more

Watch: Calder | Prouvé at Gagosian Paris

Alexander Calder and Jean Prouvé get a joint close-up in an exhibition at Gagosian Paris. Organized with Galerie Patrick Seguin, “Calder | Prouvé” mixes the biomorphic mobiles and stabiles of the former with the smooth yet strong furniture and architectural projects of the latter. Born three years and an ocean apart, the two met in the early 1950s, became pen pals (although we’re pretty sure they didn’t use that term), and later collaborated on the steel base of “La Spirale,” Calder’s mega-mobile for UNESCO HQ in Paris. Gagosian has created this virtual tour of the exhibtion, on view at its Le Bourget space through November 2:

New Calatrava Book Comes with Sculptural Golden Dreambox

Santiago Calatrava is a whiz with bridges and transit hubs—his latest is Italy’s Stazione di Bologna e Reggio Emilia AV Mediopadana, a high-speed train station that debuted last month and allows passengers to zip to Milano faster than you can say “Stazione di Bologna e Reggio Emilia AV Mediopadana”—but did you know that he is also an accomplished painter, sculptor, and designer of things that cannot be categorized as infrastructure? The full, undulating, cantilevered spectrum of his talents will be revealed in the pages of Santiago Calatrava, coming this fall.

The new book is an Assouline production, which means that while there will be text (in this case, by Christina Carrillo de Albornoz Fisac, who will consider Calatrava’s references, influences, and inspirations) but it will only come into focus after you’ve spent hours ogling the lush, sure-to-be-full-bleed illustrations—all 180 of them. Of course, that’s even assuming that you can bring yourself to unwrap the hand-bound edition, which will come tucked inside a shiny box (pictured) designed by Calatrava himself.

Quote of Note | Jonathan Foyle on Fonts


Fontastic graffiti, stencilled on a wall in Guelph, Ontario.

“The plague of Times New Roman is the unspoken disease of our age….[S]urprisingly, given a visual training, some architects have fallen victim to the plague. Times New Roman is often incised into new buildings in major cities, unrelated to the essence of their architectural character. Before the TNR outbreak, beautiful signage was normal, whether a take on a classic of architectural typography, or a font pushing the progressive zeitgeist of the building style. Those were the old times. Now a 1930s newspaper font is a default setting for monumental inscription. It’s one that we must switch off.”

-Jonathan Foyle, CEO of World Monuments Fund Britain, in the Financial Times

First Look: Zaha Hadid’s Shoes for United Nude


(Courtesy United Nude)

This just in: Zaha Hadid collaborates with Rem Koolhaas! No, not that Rem Koolhaas—his nephew, Rem D. Koolhaas. Also a trained architect, this Koolhaas is the creative director of United Nude, the futuristic shoe company he founded in 2003 with Galahad Clark (of the Clark’s shoemaking Clarks). United Nude’s Möbius strip-inspired heels, angular wedges, and carbon-fiber construction have always had a distinctly Hadidian vibe, and so their latest collaboration seems both entirely appopriate and a long time in coming. Behold the Nova, a striated, cantlivered creation launched this week at L’Eclaireur in Paris.

“Our collaboration with United Nude reinterprets the classic shoe typology,” said Hadid in a statement issued today, “pushing the boundaries of what is possible without compromising integrity.” With a 6.25-inch heel (or heel-shaped void, as they case may be), the shoes are a feat of injection molding, hand molding, and rotation molding. The upper part involves metallic chromed vinyl rubber (in black, rose gold, or silver) and, lest the word vinyl make you twitchy, is lined with luxe nappa leather. Then there’s the hidden platform and heel (fiberglass) and the outsole (rubber again). Ready to buy? United Nude is accepting pre-orders via e-mail, but act fast: only 300 pairs—100 per color—are being made. The bad news: they’re $2,000 a pair. The good news: your Christmas shopping for Daphne Guinness is as good as done.


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