Monday, April 27, 2009

[kontakt mag] Architectural Feature: Modern Architecture Takes Flight

December 27 2008 | Gary Worthy

If you travel just beyond the quaint town square of Prescott, Arizona, you’ll meander through the tall pines until you come upon a campus with a surprisingly modern mission and architectural features. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) is the world’s oldest, largest, and most prestigious university specializing in aviation and aerospace. It is the only accredited, aviation-oriented university in the world with headquarters in Daytona Beach, Florida.

The newest building on this high-tech university is the Chris and Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Library and Learning Center, designed by DLR Group and built by Barton Malow Companies. The 32,000 sf library, far from being a traditional university library with classic columns or brownstone face, presents a sleek reflection of a student body engaged in a technological world of cutting-edge aeronautics and engineering. The entry into the building is defined by an internally illuminated monumental stair reflective of a world lit by iPods and monitors.

Sarah Thomas, Library Director uses words like phenomenal, incredible and awesome to describe the new facility. “The innovative facility has infused a new spirit into our campus and into the students’ living and learning community. The incredible amount of use has doubled, as compared to last year, a testimony that the students have adopted the library as their own gathering place. The features and attributes of the library are well designed to address student needs, with compliments still coming in every day. The multimedia-rich presentation room and collaboration rooms are a high-tech hit,” she said.

Students enjoy a wide variety of study accommodations including individual nooks, a classic quiet reading room, and open tables and lounge seating with mountain vistas. The research instruction classroom provides a state-of-the-art technologies where librarians deliver lectures on how to locate, evaluate and use information.

Designing a high-performance building was important to the University. Sustainable features began in the landscape which preserved and restored the indigenous naturalized plantings, and the building nestles into a landscape ridge along its eastern fa├žade. The metal and glass front seem to float above the ground with the second floor cantilevering in two directions, providing entrance shading inherent in the design.

Proper solar orientation of the building introduced controlled light into the library, with a north-facing window wall welcoming daylight into the interior while allowing evening passers-by get and a glimpse from the outside into the life of the library. The structure’s exterior, simple in concept and compelling in execution, uses concrete masonry, steel and glass. the dramatic structure appears ready to take flight.

On the interior, the book stacks stand in formation over a black, Tarmac-like flooring with lighting reminiscent of a runway. The fluorescent lighting with changeable colored gels illuminate the path which leads to a back-lit photographic mural. Playful furnishings keep this facility from becoming too heavy-handed in technology or aviation, welcoming students and visitors to sit and study, contemplate and collaborate while they explore, study and learn.

Gary Worthy, AIA, ASLA
Gary is the Design Leader and Principal at DLR Group in Phoenix and was the designer of the Embry Riddle Aeronautical University’s new Library and Learning Center. “I believe that the understanding of context enables design, which is grounded with clarity of intention. In other words, the design should have an apparent idea which is self-apparent in the project. I insist of us, a rigorous intellectual investigation of ideas to ensure that appropriate and inspirational solutions are met. I believe that architecture, like art, should be relevant to the age in which we live.”

Design Team: Richard Pawelko, AIA, (Principal in Charge), Gary Worthy, AIA, (Design Principal), Stanley Axthelm, RA, (Project Manager) Maryam Eskandari, Assoc. AIA ( Project Designer), Premnath Sundhuram, Assoc. AIA (Project Architect), Benjamin Talpos, Assoc. AIA ( Project Architect ).

Friday, April 24, 2009

REDEVELOPMENT OF MECCA: Foster to design Saudi high-speed rail stations

Foster + Partners has been appointed the designer for four stations on the Haramain high-speed railway

In a joint venture with Buro Happold, the new project will link the holy cities of Mecca and Medina via Jeddah, Rabigh and King Abdullah Economic City on the Red Sea coast. It will offer a faster service for the millions of pilgrims conducting the Haj and Umrah pilgrimages.

The Saudi Rail Organisation is the client for the project, which has an estimated project value of $6 billion. Trains running on the 444km line are expected to reach 300km/h. The project is due for completion by 2013.

Mouzhan Majidi, Chief Executive of Foster + Partners, said: ‘The Haramain high-speed rail project represents a major investment in sustainable public transport by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with potentially far-reaching social and economic consequences. The project will foster new social and cultural connections across the Kingdom’s western cities, and the design of the four new stations will support and symbolise this progressive approach.’

In November last year the AJ revealed that Foster was in the running to take on one of the most high-profile projects on earth – the redevelopment of Mecca’s central Haram mosque (pictured).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Top architects condemn Prince Charles meddling

20 April, 2009 | By Christopher Sell

A number of the world’s top architects have jointly-condemned the Prince of Wales for using ‘his privileged position’ to intervene in the design process for the Richard Rogers Chelsea Barracks scheme in London

In a letter to the Sunday Times, the architects, who include five winners of the Pritzker prize including Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster and Frank Gehry, criticise the Prince of Wales for trying to interfere with the democratic process by using his royal connections to stop modernist plans for the site.

It is also signed by Ricky Burdett, David Adjaye, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron and Renzo Piano.

The letter states: ‘It is essential in a modern democracy that private comments and behind-the-scenes lobbying by the prince should not be used to skew the course of an open and democratic planning process that is under way.’

The architects were moved to write the letter following reports that Prince Charles had written privately to Qatari Diyar – the development arm of the Qatar government and owners of the site. In the letter he is understood to recommend alternative plans by the classicist architect Quinlan Terry.

According to the Sunday Times, Prince Charles has already been successful in persuading the developer to consider having more traditional brick and stone buildings for the development, as opposed to the emphasis on glass and steel proposed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners planned.

Full text of the letter to the Sunday Times

THE Prince of Wales’s intervention over the design of the former Chelsea Barracks site deserves more reasoned comment. It is essential in a modern democracy that private comments and behind-the-scenes lobbying by the prince should not be used to skew the course of an open and democratic planning process that is under way.

Proposals by Richard Rogers’s practice for the developers Qatari Diar were recently submitted for planning to Westminster city council. The scheme has been adapted and changed in response to comments from Westminster’s planning officers and extensive local consultation. Statutory bodies such as the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment and the Greater London Authority have also been consulted. Westminster’s planning committee will meet and shortly deliver its verdict.

Its members should be left alone to decide whether the Rogers’s scheme is a fitting 21st-century addition to the fabric of London. The developers have chosen carefully in selecting the best architect for the sensitive project. Rogers and his team have played their part in engaging with the democratic process. The prince and his advisers should do the same. The process should be allowed to take its course; otherwise we risk condemning this critical site to years as an urban blight.

If the prince wants to comment on the design of this or any other project, we urge him to do so through the established planning consultation process. Rather than use his privileged position to intervene in one of the most significant residential projects likely to be built in London in the next five years, he should engage in an open and transparent debate.

Lord Foster, Foster and Partners, London, Pritzker Prize 1999
Zaha Hadid, Zaha Hadid Architects, London, Pritzker Prize 2004
Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, Pritzker Prize 2001
Jean Nouvel, Jean Nouvel Architectes, Paris, Pritzker Prize 2008
Renzo Piano, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Genoa, Pritzker Prize 1998
Frank Gehry, Gehry Partners, Los Angeles, Pritzker Prize 1989
Sir Nicholas Serota, Commissioner, CABE 1999-2006
Richard Burdett, London School of Economics
David Adjaye, Adjaye Associates, London
Deyan Sudjic, Director, Design Museum, London

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Koolhaas | Real Estate, Turned on Its Ear

Rem Koolhaas’s Office for Metropolitan Architecture has never shied away from head-turning design. Its concept sales office for 23E22, O.M.A.’s slanted residential tower that appears to step up the sides of One Madison Park, literally asks you to cock your head 90 degrees. The narrow space on Mercer Street holds a room-size reproduction of 23E22 — toppled horizontally on one side to fit. Overturned and hollowed, the building’s miniature setbacks serve as steps. Floor-to-ceiling windows have become either long shelves (showcasing O.M.A.’s working models) or translucent light boxes that checker the walls. The flipped facsimile lacks floor slabs, offering the potential buyer a glimpse straight through all 18 stories, into a dazzling nightscape turned outside-in.

Since it doesn’t exactly feel like the right time for luxury real estate, the exhibition space plays a game of urban camouflage. Insinuating itself between longstanding relics of high culture — it is flanked by the likes of Visionaire and Ronald Feldman Fine Arts — the Koolhaas sign, emblazoned on the storefront glass in hatched lines of shocking neon, feels like it could belong to a pop-up art show. But the reflective surfaces on the interior suggest a boutique rather than a gallery, with silver-bound copies of Koolhaas’s hefty “S,M,L,XL” on display alongside a perforated maquette of the tower’s skin modeled in shiny chrome.

It’s too soon to tell if the architectural peep show has paid off. So far, the developers have sold eight of 23E22’s 18 units. In the meantime, the exhibition space — emerging out of the arid atmosphere of the current real estate market — appears like a spectacular mirage.