Tag archives for | arts

Tag archives for: arts

Freelance architecture and design consultants the wave of the future?

In the “old days,” a firm might turn down a project because it didn’t have the necessary staff to handle it properly. Today, firms can maintain a lean staff in lean times and hire freelance consultants when business picks up. In the process they can hire people with the particular skills needed for particular jobs.

Architecture is not the only profession turning more and more to freelance employment. One study finds the number of temporary hires almost doubled in a recent four-year period – over 10 percent of them skilled technicians or professionals.

In fact, a growing number of young architects see freelancing as a fast-track means to getting ahead.

Instead of working on just one type of project or one aspect of design, freelancers acquire varied experience. The goal is to land permanent positions at a higher level more quickly than by remaining on one job for a given period of time.

Assuming that architectural firms will become accustomed to the freelance concept, this type of employment will grow as the demand for new projects returns to pre-recession levels.

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Cliff-hanger house nails top prize

Cliff House, Halifax architect Brian MacKay-Lyons’ creation, has won his firm its sixth Governor General’s medal. Since Christmas, the firm has won 14 national and international design awards.

A modest wooden house soaring over a rocky cliff has earned Nova Scotia architect Brian MacKay-Lyons a 2012 Governor General’s Medal in Architecture.

“We’re still the only architects in Atlantic Canada who’ve ever won it since it started in the 1950s so it’s kind of special for sure,” says MacKay-Lyons.

This is the sixth Governor General’s medal that MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects of Halifax and Lunenberg has been awarded by the Canada Council through a peer jury process.

“Your peers are the toughest audience, in that sense it means a lot,” he says, on the phone from Lunenburg.

“If you’re a musician, you want Bruce Springsteen to say you’re good.”

Since Christmas, the firm has won 14 national and international design awards and seen the opening of the Canadian embassy it designed in Bangladesh.

MacKay-Lyons and his family are off to Washington, D.C., this week to pick up the American Institute of Architects Honor Award for the Shobac Campus, a collection of buildings in Upper Kingsburg, Lunenburg County, that serve as a home and satellite office.

Still it frustrates MacKay-Lyons that after 35 years of working in Nova Scotia his company is not designing more public buildings in Atlantic Canada.

“We have this big international reputation and we can’t get any work at home,” says MacKay-Lyons, a Dalhousie University architecture professor for more than 20 years.

“Things are very political here, very parochial. Unless you’re well connected you don’t get a chance.”

The Governor General’s Award was presented for his work on Cliff House. Perched somewhere on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia, it is a timber-frame minimalist box that juts out from a cliff on stilts anchored by heavy concrete onto the rock below. Its form is inspired by the fishing shacks in Blue Rocks and Peggys Cove, says MacKay-Lyons.

The house has a row of front windows looking out to sea.

“You get a sense of vertigo when you’re standing in it. When you get to the front you are, ‘Oh, my God, I could go flying.’”

However, it’s very safe. “It’s not going anywhere.”

MacKay-Lyons describes Cliff House as “monumentally modest.”

“The way it is in the landscape, it’s very proud and forceful and yet it’s just a simple building. It’s modest and inexpensive.”

It has a light timber frame construction, the type of two-by-four construction that is typical of the way houses are built in North America.

“Small timber is the only renewable building material other than bamboo. Even concrete uses tremendous energy.”

Cliff House has also won a North American Wood Design Honor Award, which pleases MacKay-Lyons because “it’s hard to get architects to appreciate light timber frame,” he says. They prefer “sexier” wooden buildings with large timbers and beams.

“The idea of touching the land lightly is something we’re becoming more and more interested in, disturbing the land the least.

“The buildings tend to be more hovering above the land, kind of cantilevering.”

In their statement, jurors praised Cliff House saying, “Perfectly judged for its setting, it elevates plain vernacular form and ordinary materials into a potent meditation on the relationship between the manmade and nature.”

Architecture is a team sport, says MacKay-Lyons. For Cliff House, he relied on project architect Kevin Reid, who’s worked for the firm for seven years, builder Gordon MacLean and structural engineer Michel Comeau of Campbell Comeau Engineering Ltd.

MacKay-Lyons has worked for 30 years with both MacLean and Comeau. He and Comeau grew up together in Arcadia near Yarmouth.

MacKay-Lyons and his Newfoundland-born partner Talbot Sweetapple are leading proponents internationally of regionalist architecture.

Wherever they build they look to the local material culture.

In this region, their design language is “influenced by the rural industrial building tradition in the Maritimes.”

“When we build in Bangladesh, we build it all of bricks. That’s using the culture.

“Our work is about that, about the idea of regionalism, about the idea of place and looking at the local material culture wherever we are.”


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CornellNYC Chooses Its Architect

After a competition that included some of the world’s most prominent architects, Thom Mayne of the  firm Morphosis has been selected to design the first academic building for Cornell University’s high-tech graduate school campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City. 

“The goal here is to develop a one-of-a-kind institution,” Mr. Mayne said in an interview at his New York office. (Morphosis also has an office in Los Angeles.) “It’s got to start from rethinking — innovating — an environment.”

The building will get extra attention as the first part of an engineering and applied-science campus charged by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg with spurring New York City’s high-tech sector. It needs to embody the latest in environmental advances and to incorporate the increasingly social nature of learning today by creating ample spaces for people to interact. And to succeed, Mr. Mayne said, it must visually connect to the rest of the city, because its setting is surrounded by water.

Mr. Mayne has grappled with academic buildings before, perhaps most notably one for the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in the East Village, completed in 2009, whose concave facade is clad in a perforated metal screen and punctuated by a vertical gash.

Mr. Mayne said the Cornell project presented an opportunity to contemplate what an academic building should look like in the information age. Should it have the bullpen environments of tech start-ups or the more cloistered layout of established universities? How should it use space to foster collaboration while also carving out areas for quiet reflection?

“There is no modern prototype for a campus,” Mr. Mayne said. “You have to have a completely different model which has to do with transparency and exposing social connectivity and breaking down the Balkanization that happens departmentally.”

There are no snazzy architectural images yet, nor can Mr. Mayne speculate about what shape the building will take or what materials he might use. “I haven’t even seen the site plan yet,” he said. The only certainty is that Mr. Mayne will not inaugurate Cornell’s new campus by designing some kind of ivory tower.

“I like being able to tell you that I don’t have any bloody idea what it’s going to look like,” he said.

Daniel P. Huttenlocher, dean of the new campus, to be called CornellNYC Tech, and a Cornell vice provost, said that as a computer scientist, he was “very sympathetic to the form-follows-function view of the world” and that he was “heartened by an architect who doesn’t want to get too caught up in the form too early in the process.”

At the same time, Cornell is in a hurry, having pledged to have classes up and running by September in leased space in Manhattan (location to be announced). The Mayne building is expected to break ground in 2014 and to be completed by the start of the 2017 academic year.

Mr. Mayne’s building is part of a campus that will be developed over two decades. The campus will comprise more than two million square feet of building space at a cost of over $2 billion and will serve more than 2,000 students. It will include three academic buildings; three residential buildings; three buildings for research and development; and a hotel and conference center.

In December Cornell, in partnership with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, won the yearlong competition to build the campus, beating teams that included one from Stanford University and City College of New York.

The master plan is being designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which was among the six finalists for the Cornell campus. The others were Rem Koolhaas’s Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Diller Scofidio & Renfro, Steven Holl Architects and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.

Mr. Mayne’s 150,000-square-foot building is expected to cost about $150 million, Mr. Huttenlocher said, which will be covered by a $350 million gift through an alumnus. The city is providing $100 million in infrastructure improvements, as well as the land on Roosevelt Island, currently occupied by a little-used hospital. The new building will include classrooms, laboratories, offices and meeting space.

Morphosis was chosen partly because of its track record of completing projects on time and at a reasonable cost, Mr. Huttenlocher said. “We can’t afford for the budget to be something that balloons out of control,” he added.

The campus is designed to bring academic and private-sector research and development together to speed the translation of academic work into usable products and services.

Mr. Mayne said he would start by talking with the engineering firm Arup about how to design a building with zero-net energy consumption that will use and produce geothermal and solar power.

While the building’s design should be arresting, Mr. Huttenlocher said it also must satisfy its tech-savvy generation of users, who will adapt the space to their needs if it fails to suit them.

“If the building didn’t function well, I think it would get hacked to pieces,” Mr. Huttenlocher said. He added that Cornell liked Morphosis’s “ability to create iconic structures whose form does not obscure or impede its program.”

Mr. Mayne said he designed spaces that were meant to be personalized and “not in any way pristine.”

Morphosis tries to create spaces that allow work to happen in the most effective way possible, Mr. Mayne said. “After that,” he added, “we should stay out of the way.”

Source: NYT

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Haus W – Pott Architects Ltd. Architecture

The individual home of character as the place to enjoy private family life seems to have been increasingly sidelined in these times of standard-pattern pre-assembled housing units, perhaps no longer keeping up with the need for mobility and flexibility. It therefore pleased us very much when a young family of four had the wish and the confidence to work with us to design a custom-built home meeting their needs. The objective was a flexible design that could evolve as family circumstances evolved, and would allow harmony between individual needs for time alone and family needs for time together. The house they had in mind would function like a living thing and would have a place for all the bits and pieces that make up everyday life. It would be a friendly house, with special places for feeling at peace and secure. Over a period of dialogue together, and using a series of variations, models and simulations, we reviewed in depth just what it was felt a family home should offer, and an overall concept was developed.

The building, completed in April 2005, is the result of this intensive process and reflects a very real need for new, characterful home living environments. The house in question is located in the Lichterfelde district of Berlin, in the former garden of a villa built during the prosperous Gründerzeit years of the late 19th century. The actual property is accessed via its own laneway, leading past the villa in front. As it stands transverse to the access lane, approaching visitors can look through a large window straight into the central part of the house. The glowing fire in the fireplace here is in keeping with the historic and elegant appearance of the house itself. The paved forecourt leads to the entrance area, which is designed to meet the topography of the grounds. The entrance to the house is at a sunken ground level, where there is a spacious foyer with a cloakroom and service areas. The single flight of stairs leads directly to the house’s main communal space, including kitchen and dining area. Beyond the fireplace and the freestanding stair to the next floor, and on a split level, are the living-room and the parents’ private rooms.

The upper storey has the children’s bedrooms, the gallery in front of them being intended as a shared play area. Structurally the house is a single volume, zoned off through wall and ceiling elements. The arrangement of the rooms along two parallel access corridors running from the study in the east to the patio creates an enfilade effect which can, where required, be extended or shortened by sliding doors. At the same time, the house’s longitudinal height change marks a zoning-off of private and communal space, offering the alternatives of seclusion or participation. The fireplace is at the centre of this series of rooms and can be seen from all sides. A soothing and cheering central focus. Cupboards and shelving space have been positioned along the whole length of both storeys, on north and south sides of the house, to provide the entire storage and servicing space needed for the adjoining rooms. This feature minimised the need for free-standing furniture and helped create living-space. All internal walls can be moved to meet new accommodation requirements as they arise. The organisational principles involved here were a priority in planning and the outcome contributes greatly to the restful appearance and great flexibility of the interior design. The interest generated by the external shape of the building derives from the central, hall-like interior space, in turn resulting from the remarkable horizontal displacement of the upper storey and thus also of the opening up of the interior space.

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Corallo House / PAZ Arquitectura

The floor plan is free of columns and the changes in level adapt to the existing topography. Both façades are mostly glass in order to connect the interior to the exterior.

Located on a dense hillside forest in the Santa Rosalía area of Guatemala City, Corallo House integrates the existing forest into the layout of the house. It merges nature into the architectural intervention. The design process began with the aim to preserve the existing trees, in order to have the trees interact with the living space.

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Client does not pay freelance architect and takes credit for design

I work as a freelance architect and designer. In this particular instance, I was victim to the ignorance of an uninformed client. When you’re dealing with intellectual property, such as creating a design, it’s important that the client is knowledgeable and has the capacity to understand what they’re actually paying for: your ideas!

While designing Whitehall, located on 19 Greenwich Ave in New York City, I produced construction drawings, digital renderings, hand sketches, filing drawings for building permits, and material call outs. The built space was written about in Vogue magazine, and they not only left out my name but gave the owners the credit for the work, literally stating that the space was designed by Donal Brophy and Brian McGory.

After using all of my ideas, the clients claimed that they were actually the designers. Confused? I was too. After interrogating them, the response was that they had to deal with a lot of questions from the contractor. Has anyone ever worked with a contractor who doesn’t ask questions? If they’re not asking questions, they probably aren’t doing a great job.

In most cases, the client would typically allow the experienced professional to perform what is called Construction Administration. I technically should have been the one who was answering all of the contractor’s questions on this job and would have if the client hadn’t stated that he was also an “experienced” designer and therefore this role would be unnecessary for me to perform. The client asked me to remove that fee from our contract. I agreed to remove the fee and it was made clear that I would not be performing the CA role on this job. This was all agreed upon prior to beginning the work.

Even though I explained this to the client, he told me to take $3,000 in cash (the contract was for $8,000), off the books, and be done with it. I refused on moral grounds as I had clearly already done all of the work. To then be stiffed on top of that was just adding salt to the wound. As a result of this loss, in addition to having gotten short-changed by another client who claims he’s broke, I’ve been forced to give up my studio space.

“After using all of my ideas, the clients claimed that they were actually the designers.”

Freelancers don’t have a financial buffer like corporations do. We’re typically operating month to month and if you don’t have more than one job lined up, you have no leverage in your negotiations. Having worked in this industry for the past seven years, what I can now advise is that it’s not worth it.

If the terms aren’t to your liking and you don’t find yourself personally attached to the work or to the client, then walk away. Otherwise, you’ll always end up with the short end of the stick.

If you freelance in the New York City area, stay away from Donal Brophy and Whitehall. If you do decide to stop in Whitehall for a drink, tell them it’s on me!

Antonio is a freelance architect and designer.  (The views and opinions in the posting above do not reflect those of Consulting4architects Blog.)

This story was submitted to the Freelancers Union

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SHoP’n the South Street Seaport

The overview of SHoPs redesign of the Pier 17 at South Street Seaport. (Courtesy SHoP)

Last night,  SHoP‘s Gregg Pasquarelli presented plans  to Community Board 1 for South Street Seaport’s South Street Seaport. Not surprisingly, the reception was positive. The design is a huge departure from the desolate barn-like mall developed by the Rouse Corporation in the 1980s, where to this day nachos and tropical cocktails remain de rigueur. The new owner, the Howard Hughes Corporation, hopes to bring New Yorkers back to one of the most spectacular sites in town, while welcoming tourists and not quarantining them in a thematic trap.

Angelica Trevino and Thorsten Kiefer are SHoP’s project managers. In a telephone interview, Trevino parsed the details…

The new pier will contain four stories of retail with a green roof that would hold two pavilions, one for music and the other for a restaurant, and the entire structure features an exposed steel frame. The landscape, designed by James Corner Field Operations, includes the rooftop, a large deck to the north overlooking the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, and a plaza to the south.

The first two stories of the pier include the ground floor and a mezzanine with two story high glass doors that will slide open vertically. When open, the doors front the glass enclosed second and third stories. Shops on the first two stories set back several feet from the openings. The architects refer to the area as “The Village.”

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Newark Project Aims to Link Living and Learning

Below: Part of the Teachers Village construction site, a project in Newark designed with education in mind.

NEWARK — Work has begun on an education-centered community featuring three charter schools and affordable housing for teachers in the city’s decayed downtown, with much of the design work done by the noted architect Richard Meier.     The development, called Teachers Village, is expected to cost $149 million when it is completed two years from now. It will consist of eight low-rise buildings clustered around the intersection of William and Halsey Streets, in Newark’s Four Corners historic district. As such, Mr. Meier has designed buildings to reflect the historical nature of the area.

Teachers Village is receiving millions of dollars in government subsidies in various forms, with $14.2 million being provided in equity by the developers. Two of the buildings, together about 134,000 square feet, will be leased to the charter schools and day care while offering retail space on the ground floor. The other six buildings, totaling about 289,000 square feet, will contain as many as 220 rental apartments for teachers with retail space on the ground floor.

Teachers Village received its final approval at the city level in March 2011, but did not break ground until last month with a ceremony that included Mayor Cory A. Booker, Gov. Chris Christie and several private developers and investors.

Mayor Booker, who has shepherded the project from its first presentation in 2010, was not available for comment and referred a reporter to a news release: “Teachers Village shows that when Newark dreams big and makes ambitious plans, we can achieve development projects that meet the highest standards for innovation and excellence. While the global economy is struggling, we in Newark have fought to create transformative change that will lead to educational, economic, and social gains for our citizens.”

While the project seems to have the city’s unqualified support, some residents have protested the inclusion of the charter schools instead of traditional public schools, and others have said they felt left out of the planning process and disliked the project’s reliance on large public subsidies.

Ron Beit, a managing member of the lead developer, the RBH Group of Manhattan, said, “We were very committed to the point that you needed to create this community overnight.” Other partners include the billionaire investor Nicolas Berggruen; the private equity giant Frederick Iseman; the financier Warren Lichtenstein and his firm, Steel Partners Holdings; and the short-term commercial lender BRT Realty Trust.

Teachers Village is the first step of a development project by the same developers that will entail building or rehabilitating 15 million square feet of space, including several skyscrapers, on 32 parcels of land downtown.

The school spaces have been leased to two established Newark charter schools, Team Academy and Discovery Charter School, and a new charter, Great Oaks Charter School. The schools, with a charter school that abuts the site, are expected to accommodate about 1,360 children.

They and their families are potential customers for the stores that will occupy the 64,000 square feet of retail space being built, Mr. Beit said. So are the residents of the 220 apartments, which are not restricted to teachers, he said.

The residences in Teachers Village will be marketed toward Newark educators in charter schools, traditional public schools, private schools and universities, Mr. Beit said. About 40 studio apartments must be kept affordable according to government requirements, but Mr. Beit said the public subsidies involved in the project will enable developers to keep all their prices low — about $700 a month for a studio; $1,000 to $1,100 for a one-bedroom; and $1,400 for a two-bedroom apartment, he said.

“Our vision for Newark is really sort of a middle-income utopia, very much like how Queens and the outer boroughs have succeeded tremendously with their retail,” said Mr. Beit, who is working with Jacobs Enterprises of Clifton, N.J., to build the retail space.

He said the larger downtown development, which is to have a wide range of rental apartments and condominiums, both subsidized and market rate, may eventually draw more upscale retailers and affluent residents attracted by Mr. Meier, who is known for buildings like the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

Mr. Meier, who designed five of Teachers Village’s eight buildings — the others were done by a local architect, Mikesell & Associates, and KSS Architects of Princeton — also spent a significant amount of time working on the streetscapes in the plan. He said he expected to work on the master plan for the larger project beyond Teachers Village, also in the historic district.

“We spent a lot of time with the local landmarks commission to make sure that the designs were historically contextual,” Mr. Meier said, “and to ensure the neighborhood was true to its historic roots, while at the same time ensuring that the community has a unique distinction and quality suggestive of the new chapter commencing in this neighborhood.”

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