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Architecture Now!
Volume 6

by Philip Jodidio

Taschen, 2011, pp. 576, $42.50

Beijing birdcase

"Bird's Nest" Stadium, Beijing, by Herzog & de Meuron, 2008

By Carter B. Horsley

This sixth volume of Philip Jodidio's absolutely wonderful series on great architecture projects around the world that have been completed in the preceeding year is chock full of fabulous projects that are very mind-boggling and sensational.

The most famous and prominent project, of course, was Herzog & de Meuron's great main stadium for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.  They won the competition for the 91,000-seat facility in 2003.  Mr. Jodidio notes that "the angled beams of the stadium rise up in a pattern that is not predictable at close quarters, giving a feeling of dynamism to the architecture," adding that "though the forms of the architecture are powerfull, they open to vistiors in a way that gives a sensation of freedom."  The book contains many photorgaphs of the facility including night shots and "a webbed ceiling in a foyer space that echoes the overall structure of the stadium" and is enormous.


Digital Beijing, by Studio Pei-Zhu, control center for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, 2005-8, © Studio Pei-Zhu

Across from Herzog & de Meuron's great Olympic Stadium, Digital Beijing is a large, bunker-like structure erected to house the control center for the 2008 Olympics games and then become a "virtual museum and exhibition center for digital projects."   It consists of four slabs with its most prominent one resembling an integrated electronics chip or bar code as shown in the above photograph.


Trutec Building, by Barkow Leibinger Architekten,  Seoul, Korea, 2005-6, © Corinne Rose

The book notes that Barkow Leibinger Architeken, which designed  the Trutec Building in Seoul that won an honor award in 2008 from the American Institute of Architets the "Digital Media City, where the project is located, is a place 'where site, history or methods may be irrelevant, transitional, or appropriated from other places."  The building has a roof garden and five underground levels of parking.


Detail of stone wall of SGAE Central Europe, Antón García-Abril & Ensamble Studio, Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain, 2005-7,
© Ronald Halbe

The SGAE (Society of Authors and Publishers) Central Europe facility in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain, is a modern-day Stonehenge.  Designed by Antón Garcia-Abril & Ensamble Studio in 2005-7, it was developed and envisaged by Arata Isozaki.  According to García-Abril, the great stone wall can be thought of as a monumental sculpture, constructed by the superposition and repetition of prehistoric orders adapted to a Renasssance broken composition."  The book notes that  a more discreet "non-broken" wall faces the street.


East Beach Café, by Heatherwick Studio, Littlehampton,West Sussex, U.K., 2005-7, © Arcaid

Heatherwick Studio was asked in 2005 to design a café to replace an ice-cream kiosk in the seaside town of Littlehampton in West Sussex, U.K.  The book notes that the long and narrow building, which seats 60 inside and 80 outside, is "sliced diagonally into ribbons that wrap up and over the building, forming a layered protective shell, open to the sea in front."  The opening has glass doors and roller shutters and the book notes that "in contrast to the conventional white-washed seaside aesthetic, the building is raw and weathered and the monocoque steel shell was developed with a computer model and is smooth to the touch and a surface treatment allows any graffiti to be easily removed.  Thomas Heatherwick, the architect, is quoted as stating that "our challenge is to build a functional and durable structure on a tight budget, where you eat a Mr. Whippy or drink Dom Pérignon."  Will someone please give Mr. Heatherwick, Coney Island and Yankee Stadium!


Leonardo Glass Cube, by 3Deluxe Transdisplinary Design, Bad Driburg, Germany,  2004-7, © 3 deluxe

An exhibition center for Glaskoch, a glass company in Westphalia, the exhibition center known as the Leonardo Glass Cube by 3deluxe has exterior paths made from cast white concrete elements related to the structure, which is mostly underground.


Dafen Art Museum, Dafen Village, Shenzhen, China, by Urbanus Architecture & Design, 2006-8, © Iwan Baan

The Dafen Art Museum in Dafen Village, Shenzhen, China, was designed in 2006-8 by Urbanus Architecture & Design of which Liu Xiadou was a founding partner.  The book said that Dafen Village "is well known in China for its oil painting replica workshops that export to Europe, America  and Asia."  The architects said that "the irony is that in a place unimaginable for a typical art musem we hope it can host the most avant-garde contemporary art shows and, at the same time can include the local new vernacular pop art  It should be a highly mixed building a hybrid container.  The building is an extraordinary mix of real and outlined windows set at angles as if in some surrealistic "fun house."  The building has angles and ramps and a very low surrounding fence harkening to Medievel battlements - a great children's playground that happens to be an interesting commentary on contemporary art and museums.

Akron museum

Akron Museum, by Coop Himmelblau, 2001-7, © Leonard Finotti

Coop Himmelblau won a competition in 2001 for this museum project, which consists of the Crystal, the Gallery Box and the Roof Cloud.  

BMW Welt

BMW Welt, by Coop Himmelblau, Munich, 2001-7, © Christian Richters

Frank O. Gehry is not the world's only master of dramatic and very unusual building forms as evidenced by the two highlighted projects in this book by Coop Himmelblau, the sophisticated Akron Art Museum and the very flamboyant and fluid BMW Welt in Munich. The former stays within the norms of traditional forms in its own charming jumbled way, but the latter is a very dynamic, energetic and almost ominous concatenation of explosive and very new forms with a curved skybridge and a metallic glass component that looks as though it successfully survived and was transformed sensationally by a kitchen blender.  It may not slice and dice but it surely inspires a fascinating new and very complex beauty.

Brooklyn Bridge Waterfall

Waterfall beneath the Brooklyn Bridge by Oliafur Eliasson, 2008, © Bernstein Photography, courtesy by Public Art Fund

New, spectacular and very wonderful architectural works are very rare in New York City and two of the greatest in recent memory were extremely temporary, a terrible indictment of the city's political and cultural leaders.

One was the recreation in lights of the demolished World Trade Center with very powerful floodlights shooting upwards toward the stars on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attracks.  The lights were infinitely better than the fiasco that has followed and resulted in basically nothing but the waste of billions of dollars.

The second was less visible, especially for Manhattan residents.  It was Oliafur Eliasson's wonderful waterfall benearth the Manhattan Tower of the Brooklyn Bridge facing the river.  It was in place only from June 26 to October 13, 2008.  It was actually one of four similar waterfalls in the 2008 project  One was between piers 4 and 5 in Brooklyn, another at Pier 35, and one on Governors Island.  The only one that really counted, however, was beneath the  bridge as it gave a very rich and symbolic transformation to the bridge and did so with great grace and simplicity.  It should be reinstallled and kept up for alternate years so as not to offend too many preservation purists but enchant the rest of the world who sees Manhattan through the special eyes of Brooklyn, which lost the great Dodgers years ago but has begun to make a significant comeback in its rebuiillding.


City of Fashion and Design, by Jakob + MacFarlane, Paris, 2007-8, © Nicola Borel

Snaking along the Seine across from the Gare Lyon, the City of Fashion and Design by Dominque Jako and Brendan MacFarlane is located on the quai d'Austerlitz and trasnforms a 1907 industrial concrete warehouse with a light-weight glass construction system known as "plug-over."  The green-glass facade has been added to the older building's Seine side facade and is an example of the new "bold and chunky" aesthetic" that is increasingly popular.


Zenith Strasbourg, Ekbolsheim, Strasbourg, France, by Massimiliano Fuksas, 2003-7,  © Morena Maggi

Massimiliano Fuksas won an international competition in 2003 for this 10,000-seat rock music venue in Strasbourg, France.  The book provides the following quotation from Fuksas about the project:

"The building is to be understood as a single, unifying and autonomous sculpture.  By layering and rotating the ellipsoid metal facade structure the design receives a very dynamic character.  This is underlined with the translucent textile membrane, which covers the steel frame and creates magnificent light effects."  The first Zenith "hall" was created in 1984.


"Make it Right/Pink Project," curated by Brad Pitt for Graft, New Orleans, Louisiana, 2007-, © Tomio Ohashi

"Make it Right/Pink Project" is a very interesting initiative by Brad Pitt, the actor, to focus attention on the Lower Ninth Ward that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Graft, which was founded in 1998 by Lars Kruckeberg and Wolfram Putz collaborated with William McDonough + Partners and Mr. Pitt, Reed Kroloff, and the Lower Ninth Ward Community Coalition to design low-cost houses for the area.  They invited other architects such as Morphosis, MVRDV and Shigeru Ban and in 2007 Mr. Pitt presented 13 proposals and he and Steve Bing, a film producer, have promised to match up to $10 million in donations.  One of the more interesting designs by Graft was a house with an open garage next to a "grand" stair entrance to living quarters with an angled overhang.

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