Tropolism Films: Brooklyn DIY


Last week’s world premiere of Brooklyn DIY brought a motley crowd of artists, performers, and groupies to MoMa. Through interviews and photographs, the film documents the “creative renaissance” of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Employing an ambiguous timeline, the narrative favors subjective experience over specificity. However, the disjointed “mapping of memory” is grounded by focusing on a handful of seminal moments that defined the neighborhood.

Right this way for the full film review...

Under Construction: OMA's Wylie Theater In Dallas


OMA's Wylie Theater in Dallas in under construction. Click here for an awesome slideshow by Archinect contributor Orhan Ayyüce.

Via Archinect.

Boulders and Color


Speaking of Boulders and Things We Just Love, we are in love with this graphic design idea by Sagmeister Inc. for the boulderesque Casa da Musica in Porto. Stefan Sagmeister says it best: “We failed to avoid using the building shape” said Sagmeister in yesterday's lecture at the design forum Vienna, "so we looked for a different approach". Instead a color calculator uses colors from a poster's image, or portraits of people whose name are on the business card, to generate the coloration of the logo. It's ever-changing, and a brilliant interpretation of the chameleon like shape of the concert hall.


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More Zaha Craziness


Today's New York Times reports not once but twice about a planned arts supercomplex in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The articles cover all the art hot topics of the day: the pros and cons of the development, east meets west, the Bilbao effect, art as franchise is good or bad, and art as global or home-grown activity. But the real thrill of the article is the rendering of Zaha Hadid's contribution: a crazy, snakelike performing arts center. The audacity of the rendering reminds us of the immortal Gold Lego proposal for the Louvre. The image borders on completely-surreal without edging into acid-trip (while getting oh, so close).

Oscar Niemeyer: Still Up To Bizarre Cool Stuff


A friend came back from Brazil yesterday with a story about meeting Oscar Niemeyer. She didn't speak much Spanish or Portuguese, so their conversation kind of stopped at him saying "yes, the space between buildings and the city are important." What amazed her the most is that he's still up to big, bizarre shapes, and he is 98 (born December 15, 1907).

Case in point, the folks at Daily Dose point us to a theater in Ibirapuera Park, São Paulo, Brazil, which opened last October, in a park Niemeyer designed in the early 1950s. There is a longer description of the project at ARCOweb, in Portuguese. There's a refreshing freedom and exhuberance to this building, not laden with OMA's weighty analyses or preoccupation with history or Gehry's fussyness. Just pure shape, hard and forever.

Picture above by digdoi on Flickr.

Minneapolis Update: Guthrie Theater Is Opening


The LA Times offers up a optimistic view of Jean Nouvel's new Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. During the last year Minneapolis' cultural scene has been reborn with a series of new buildings. First The Walker Art Center by Herzog & de Meuron, next a new Public library by Ceasar Pelli, and most recently the Guthrie Theater. Among the new group of Buildings the Guthrie is the brooding teenager of the bunch.

On a recent trip to Minneapolis I took some time to see the building. From afar the building is a bit surreal, a dark blue silhouette with yellow LED smoke stacks, against the gray and brown aging flour mills. It is appears as a placeholder, or maybe a void; the place where a building will be. On closer inspection the building unfolds some depth. The panels reflect sharp lines of light, and troughs of shadow as the building steps back in blocky towers. As you move around the building another layer or images etched into the metal panels reveal itself. Appearing when the light is just right. It's neighbor's the surrounding flour mills are even more stoic aside this buzzing chameleon of a building that has taken on their shape, and given it a totally different character.

The Guthrie will open to the public this Sunday.

Contributed by Colin Peeples. More pictures after the jump.

All The Right Moves At Lincoln Center


Tropolism readers might remember our less than enthusiastic reception to the facelift of Julliard school by Diller Scofidio+Renfro. Interesting, but kind of whacked off the face of our third favorite building in New York.

The firm seems to have chilled out a bit, probably after having to face the realities of a stodgy donor pool, as today's New York Times article about the Lincoln Center Promenade Project seems to suggest. What's beautiful about their tenacity, of course, is that it seems to be directed at the crapass bombastic parts of Lincoln Center (such as the Jersey barriers at the top of the travertine stairs after 11 lanes of traffic), and not the bling-bling bombastic parts (the crazy fountain). They've set out preserving the character of Lincoln Center, without being afraid to alter it. Does this mean they won't whack off part of Julliard now?

Shakespeare Brings Out The Stars


Leave it to the ever-brilliant Choire Sicha to collapse Tropolism's categories in a single article. New York, Celebutantes, Public Effect, Theaters, and Writing Architecture. All we need is a location: Governor's Island. Mr. Sicha does a fascinating comparison of the roles celebrities (real celebrities, not architect celebrities) are playing in cutting-edge public space projects (High Line and Globe Theater on Governor's Island) in New York City. In an era when singularities like Robert Moses are long gone, and the Governor of the State or the Mayor of the City cannot get a single building built at Ground Zero, we appear to be left with one political/architectural force: movie stars!

Toyo Ito's Structural Awesomeness


The good folks at Architechnophilia have reported on yet another Zaha Hadid design that did not win a high profile international competition. Until she does another gold-brick-lego building, we're over reporting that stuff.

Of interest to us was the actual winner of the competition: Toyo Ito. Ever since his Mediatheque building in Sendai, with its airy structural tube framework, we've been thinking about how to hold up our own structures in more innovative ways. His office cranked out yet another design, this time for the Taichung Metropolitan Opera House. We're not sure what all the blobby forms do, because the house translator is still on vacation. However, it looks like another fantastic, yet buildable, structure.

Julliard Gets The Knife


We've all known about Diller Scofidio+Renfro's Lincoln Center sliding and dicing for a while now. And the idea of cutting into our second favorite NYC building, Pietro Belluschi's gorgeously brutalist travertine wonder, The Julliard School, has presented the question of the limits of preservation. After all, we have an emotional attachment to a building that looks great, and functions like an iceberg in a public pool.

What this new puff piece from the NY Times gives up is what the plans are for the interior of Alice Tully Hall, our second-favorite concert space in New York. Of course, there are resin panels that light up. What else? While we will be a little sad to see the wood and bushhammered concerete interior get trashed, we are intrigued by a glowing wood concert hall. Yet another example of how a radical transformation of a historical building can make for a better city. Cough.

More Buildings On Water In Hamburg

HDM elbphilharmonie.jpg

Our German correspondant is keeping us totally current on the redevelopment of the HafenCity Project in Hamburg. And up-to-date we are, because he tipped us to these gorgeous images of the core of the plan: a new concert hall by Herzog & de Meuron made from the shell of an old warehouse building, which from certain angles looks like a little island on the water, kind of like a Flatiron Building. Except in Germany. In Water. The building doesn't float, but it looks like it does (which is half the battle in a computer rendering, yo). Some translated notes for you all:

Hamburg's new landmark concert hall "Elbphilharmonie" will be built as part of the "HafenCity" (harbour city) development, at a cost of ~$230M. People are so enthused about the project that the City of Hamburg already collected a quarter of this amount in donations - before even starting the campaign.

The red brick base of the building is a warehouse structure designed and built in 1963-1966. Part of the brick sturcture will become a parking garage.

The new (top) part will host a hotel, appartments and two auditoriums for 2,200 and 600 people behind its glass facade, it is designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron .

The project is set to complete in 2009.

There is a small English writeup, as well as a longer article in German. There is also a wicked cool slideshow.

German Parliament has approved the plans, and it's apparently green lighted. People who would put a 40-story Gehry building in the East River: please take note on how to do a beautiful river building.

At Least They Did Modernism-Style


A servicable but uninspired building: the new Alvin Ailey Dance Theater building in Hell's Kitchen. I used to live around the corner from this, and I watched the site slowly develop from an old theater to a pit to a building. The project took a long time to build, so it disappoints me that the project is so boring. It's an example of Modernism-styled buildings. Why can't they just make it modern? There seems to be a decorative game going on with the tricky mullions, the brick volumes vs glass volumes, and the wavy street awning (get it? it's like bodies in motion! and it's a DANCE THEATER!!). At least they didn't go all-decorative, like muted brick patterns and almost-cornices, mimicking the older buildings next to it.

But no, I'm tired of settling for this "at least it's Modern style" stuff. It's possible to do a budget building and still have the detailing, siting, and overall form be powerful, to have some kind of effect on the city.

For instance, why is there a dead glass corner on the corner of 55th and 9th? The corner is left to fend for itself, while the lobby is discreetly tucked farther down 55th street. If the wavy awning wasn't there, you wouldn't know the entry was there at all.

For instance, why brick at all?

For instance, why not a super-simple, super-taut glass screen, instead of this patterned wall?

For instance, what is up with the cylindrical columns, which only appear on the ground floor and as some featureless material (again, suspiciously decorative)?

For instance, why not complete the disjunctive nature of Modern buildings by making the glass a less almost-see-through color, and turning the glass box into a sculptural glass object, one that can be seen for blocks as something uncanny and perfect?