Tag archives for: Rem Koolhaas
Cornell University’s new Milstein Hall for architecture studies, designed by Rem Koolhaas
It’s not entirely finished yet, and it’s been under the radar in terms of press coverage. But Rem Koolhaas’ new Milstein Hall, tucked behind the Arts Quad at Cornell University, has opened for the new school year, providing much-needed studio space and meeting areas for students in Cornell University’s architecture program.
This highly anticipated, 47,000-square-foot facility is part of a sudden burst of starchitects on the Ithaca campus: I.M. Pei, Richard Meier and Thom Mayne, all Pritzker Prize winners, are helping to shape my alma mater for the 21st century.
The I.M. Pei firm’s mostly underground addition to the Johnson Art Museum opens next month. You can get a sneak peak at its exterior at the beginning of my video, below, which focuses chiefly on the Koolhaas project.
Meier’s massive, Lego-like life sciences building, Weill Hall, opened in 2008. It strikes me, both inside and out, as antiseptic, almost hospital-like, unrelieved by the graceful curves that make other Meier buildings (including those at the Getty Center) more enticing:
Portugal’s Eduardo Souto de Moura, who has designed soccer stadiums, museums and office towers in his home country, is the winner of this year Pritzker Architecture Prize, the highest honor for architects.
Among his best-known buildings are the soccer stadium in Braga, Portugal, where European soccer teams fought for the championship in 2004; and the 20-story Burgo Tower office block in his native city of Porto, built in 2007. Souto de Moura, 58, has also built family homes, cinemas, shopping centers and hotels and since setting up his own office in 1980.
Jury Chairman Peter Palumbo said Souto de Moura “has produced a body of work that is of our time but also carries echoes of architectural traditions,” according to a statement today from the Hyatt Foundation, which awards the prize.
“He has the confidence to use stone that is a thousand years old or to take inspiration from a modern detail by Mies van der Rohe,” the statement said.
Souto de Moura worked for fellow Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza for five years before founding his own company. Siza won the Pritzker Prize in 1992.
Other previous winners of the prize, which is worth $100,000, include Norman Foster, Rem Koolhaas and Frank Gehry. The Hyatt Foundation established the prize in 1979 to honor a living architect.
YOU build it, will they come? That’s the basic question motivating plans to develop grand culture centres in otherwise derelict urban neighbourhoods. The idea is savvy: hire architects to build something beautiful (or at least something big), and then let the related businesses follow. This approach to urban rejuvenation—dubbed the “Bilbao effect” after Frank Gehry’s transformation of the Spanish city—has yielded some success stories, such as DC’s Penn Quarter (thank you Abe Pollin) and Minneapolis’s Mill District (the Guthrie Theatre is something else). Cleveland’s Gordon Square Arts District has essentially applied economic shock paddles to an entire area. But what about Dallas?
More than 30 years and $1 billion in the making, the Dallas Arts District is a 19-block area of museums and performance halls. It glitters with impressive buildings, including the handiwork of four Pritzker prize winners (I.M. Pei, Renzo Piano, Norman Foster and Rem Koolhaas). But Blair Kamin, the architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune, is not impressed. Alas, despite the “architectural firepower”, it is an “exceedingly dull place”:
There are no bookstores, few restaurants outside those in the museums and not a lot of street life, at least when there are no performances going on. Even some of the architects who’ve designed buildings here privately refer to the district as an architectural petting zoo—long on imported brand-name bling and short on homegrown-urban vitality.
Part of the problem is that Dallas lacks urban density, particularly in this area, so inevitably fewer people are milling about. Another hitch is that the buildings themselves are essentially competing beautiful fortresses—designed as grand monuments, not inviting public spaces. Some locals complain that they are clearly built for folks who drive in for a bit of culture and then drive away. Mr Kamin suggests that plans for a new park, which will bridge a sunken freeway and connect the district with a buzzier neighbourhood to the north, should create more pedestrian traffic when it opens in late 2012. Otherwise, he warns, Dallas may have just created “the dullest arts district money can buy.”
But surely it is possible to spend even more money to create an even duller arts district. Let’s take a moment to consider Saadiyat Island, the sprawling arts development taking shape in Abu Dhabi. Like the arts district in Dallas, Abu Dhabi has imported a series of bling-bling names for some serious starchitecture. Frank Gehry has designed the new $800m outpost of the Guggenheim (pictured top; 12-times the size of the New York flagship and in need of a new art collection by 2015); Jean Nouvel, the Pritzker-winner who designed the Guthrie Theatre, is creating the Abu Dhabi branch of the Louvre; Norman Foster is designing a museum of national history; and the matter of density may be solved by new luxury resorts and villas. As for bookstores and cafe culture, surely the mesmerising mess of the Gehry building will make it impossible to read and unnecessary to caffeinate.
The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi has been in the news a lot lately, owing to a possible boycott of more than 130 artists over the working conditions of those charged with erecting these modern temples. But setting aside this public-relations disaster, which could significantly hamper the Guggenheim’s work in filling this museum, the Saadiyat complex poses a larger question: will people come? Is it enough to build these gigantic monuments to modernity (in an otherwise not-so-modern and remote place) and assume that the razzle-dazzle will lure the tourists? Dallas’s experiment illustrates the flaws in developments that consider the needs of architecture at the expense of people. A culture district without the glue of wandering pedestrians (or an atmosphere of working artists; or let’s face it, streets) may struggle to earn its keep.
Via The Economist
architecture, architecture critic
Abu Dhabi, Bilbao effect, Blair Kamin, Chicago Tribune, Guggenheim, I. M. Pei, Louvre, Norman Foster, Pritzker prize winners, Rem Koolhaas, Renzo Piano, Saadiyat Island