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Tag archives for: Morphosis

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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Pritzker Prize winner reveals Museum of Nature & Science plans for Dallas

From our friends at ArchitectureNews.com

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Thom Mayne has revealed his dramatic design for the new $185 million Perot Museum of Nature and Science at Victory Park in Dallas with groundbreaking due this Autumn. Described as a “living educational tool featuring architecture inspired by nature and science,” the new facility designed by his firm, Morphosis, will provide 180,000 sq ft of display and archive space on a 4.7 acre site just north of downtown Dallas.

“Museums, armatures for collective societal experience and cultural expression, present new ways of interpreting the world,” said Mayne. “They contain knowledge, preserve information and transmit ideas; they stimulate curiousity, raise awareness and create opportunities for exchange. As instruments of education and social change, museums have the potential to shape our understanding of ourselves and the world in which we live.

“The new Perot Museum of Nature & Science in Victory Park will create a distinct identity for the Museum, enhance the institution’s prominence in Dallas and enrich the city’s evolving cultural fabric.”

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At 170 ft and 14 stories high the structure presents itself as a cube structure atop a plinth. Working to a theme of ‘nature in an urban fabric’ its roof alone offers one acre of rolling native landscape featuring all the native flora and fauna of Texas and including a large urban plaza for events. Surrounding the building too landscape design, created in conjunction with Dallas-based Talley Associates, brings together science and technology with nature acting as an extension of the building design. The two are so integrated that, to mention one example, the parking lot is used to generate energy to power water features (post-rain).

80% of the building will be open to the public (an unusually high percentage) and facilities will include 10 exhibition galleries, including a children’s museum and outdoor playspace/courtyard; an expansive glass-enclosed lobby and adjacent outdoor terrace with a downtown view; state of the art exhibition gallery designated to host world-class travelling exhibitions; an education wing; large-format, multi-media digital cinema with seating for 300; flexible-space auditorium; public café; retail store; visible exhibit workshops; and offices.

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A signature design feature within the museum is a 54-foot continuous-flow escalator contained in a 150-foot tube-like structure that dramatically extends outside the building. It will take visitors from the light-filled lobby atrium to the museum’s top floor. Patrons will arrive at a fully glazed balcony high above the city, with a bird’s-eye view of downtown Dallas.

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“We believe the new Museum will provide an unforgettable experience for our visitors and help them better understand and appreciate the world we share,” said Nicole Small, President and CEO at the Museum of Nature & Science, “And our hope is that it will inspire young people – and those of any age – to pursue careers in math, science and technology.”

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