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The Architecture Thread - Page 107

post #1591 of 4538
See if this works overseas

Top of the Mornington

THE front gates are firmly closed when architect Roger Wood and I arrive at Miramar, a seaside property near Flinders on the Mornington Peninsula and the thrill of visiting this project is momentarily disrupted.

The pause serves to increase the effect of the all-important approach to the house, Wood explains, as the gates open and we meander up an unsealed driveway, a journey that has been sculpted as precisely as the architecture and encompasses several of the property's 30 hectares.

Not that my first impression is any less, well, impressive. Nothing has been left to chance here so it would be nigh on impossible for the drama of the house to be diminished, from any angle or unanticipated approach. An intriguing object designed by Wood and his partner, Randal Marsh, it has been finely wrought into sculpted forms, sinewy curves and upward sweeps of pale stone that are so unlike anything in the vicinity it is impossible not to be awed.

For generations this peninsula has been a playground for Melburnians and, with its share of old and new money, there is no shortage of "statement" architecture. Along Port Phillip Bay, from Mount Eliza at the edge of the city's sprawl to Portsea at the peninsula's tip, historic mansions and sprawling new beach houses vie for the best north-facing positions. Up over the Main Ridge, however, the land remains largely pastoral and very few subdivisions have interfered with the rolling green hillsides, which also offer a welcome, and proximate, antidote to the built-up city. Wealth has not bypassed this area, but its by-products are not overtly flaunted. Instead there is a pervasive neatness, a result of working farms being replaced with manicured hobby farms, and grapevines clinging to the hillsides. (There are 50 operating cellar doors on the peninsula.) Here, any grand architectural gestures - and there are plenty of them - are well set back on large tracts of land and more discreetly hidden from view than their bayside counterparts.

Miramar - the weekender of entrepreneurial couple capitalists Daniel and Danielle Besen - is also scarcely visible from the road, and the house is set slightly into the land, facing south to capture the sea views. Even once the main gates are breached, I later learn, the house remains concealed from the visitor; the unsealed driveway winds up past large earthen mounds (now landscaped) that have been deliberately placed to hinder sightlines to the house to heighten the anticipation of arrival. Even then, the visitor is faced with a vast, fortress-like stone wall, with little evidence of a penetrable opening, another barrier denying any sense of what lies beyond, either built or natural.

It is a classic Wood Marsh device; few of the residential works of this architectural practice reveal much beyond the facade, not only to make a grand statement in itself but to build anticipation, and to mark the beginning of a series of concealments and revelations along the journey through their architecture - an exercise in stage management as much as planning. In fact, if we measure this project by its urban predecessors, a number of the architectural devices successfully employed in the past are certainly evident here, but the change of context has inspired and necessitated a shift in execution.

Wood Marsh has been dominant in Melbourne's urban domain for 30 years: from nightclubs in their early years to private residences, apartment towers, and great infrastructure work along the Geelong Ring Road, Eastlink and earlier, Stage 1 of the Eastern Freeway Extension, theirs has been a city-centric practice. Thus this semi-rural context presented a host of liberating opportunities and, along with two other concurrent commissions in the area, the Port Phillip Estate Winery and a holiday home in nearby Merricks, allowed them to flex their creative muscle unhindered by city planning restrictions and site constraints. For observers of the practice's evolution, it is revealing to see how they have responded to a relatively open brief, with a generous budget, for a spectacular natural setting.

Clear initial points of reference were the topography and geography of the peninsula, its harsh, gnarled terrain dominant and formative in the conceptual development of the project. The south-facing site undulates as the land transitions from a tertiary dune system into grassy farmland and, unlike many of WM's urban works, which are raised upon plinth-like bases, this house seems to emerge from the earth as a masterpiece of land art. In fact, the clients, friends of Wood and Marsh long before this commission, always likened the pair to "sculptors" of space, and nowhere is it more apparent. The abstracted form of the house is enveloped in great arcs of textured wall, like a skin moulding the spaces within by sheer feats of engineering. Utterly unadorned externally, there is no evidence of structure nor any hint of internal spatial organisation (a facade treatment that the architects have often employed, even on multi-residential towers).

The Besens had a strong personal influence on the project. Having toured Los Angeles and admired the work of John Lautner, they were keen to imbue their house with the clarity of his modernist style, but they also wanted the functional versatility of a sprawling homestead where, explains Danielle, "the occupants could come together as a collective or disappear into their own personal space".

In plan, this rambling linear organisation is most evident. The entry is but a small opening on the curve of one of two boomerang-shaped forms cinched together by a short corridor. To its right and left these spine-like passages arc outwards, the first housing guest accommodation, a study, exercise room, laundry, and a garage; the second accommodating the central main living and dining area, with a two-level master wing to one side and a children's wing to the other.

Despite its seeming insignificance, in actuality the entry door is a critical pivotal device. As the "fortress" wall is finally penetrated and the entry threshold is crossed, one is led through an unexpectedly transparent, fully glassed interstitial space, a kind of glazed galley that links the two solid arms of the house in a classic Wood Marsh play of solidity and translucency. Now the full sea view is finally permitted and the scale of the dwelling is realised.

Drawn into main living area, a vast cocoon-like space unfolds, its glazed wall bulging out towards the sea and its raked ceiling sweeping down like the underside of a wave. Although a number of functions are accommodated here, each seems minor within the sheer volume; the kitchen at one extremity, a dining table off to the side, a lounge at the other end - all sizeable in their own right but somewhat diminished here. Nevertheless, and it is an important qualification, the space is inviting and serene. The confluence of curves somehow embraces the inhabitant, and warm textured surfaces make it seem more cosy than cavernous.

"We love the informality of it," says Danielle. "Even the big living space is quiet and embracing - the tables are solid, the couches are big, people can sit on cushions, and we can get back down to earth." Wood Marsh typically balances these grand spatial gestures by creating equally dramatic yet intimate spaces, and here is no exception: a concealed, rounded bar room and a sunken, mauve-coloured mini-lounge are concealed, secondary spaces off the main living area. Here, colour relieves the otherwise monochromatic palette, and the detailing is luxuriant. Utility is beautifully accommodated rather than regarded as a secondary necessity - a pale pink, mosaic-tiled powder room is but one example - and each space, even transition zones, are treated as opportunities. While so much of this project is about the view, the forced introversion of these small, jewel-like spaces is a welcome surprise. The contrast seems to make the view greater and the light brighter in the expansive "public" rooms that are given over to the drama of the setting.

This manipulation of light and shade continues throughout, with the corridors that run along the two spines of the building darkened and tunnel-like, and the rooms that peel off them opening to reveal light, bright spaces with framed views to the sea or surrounding landscape. The sense of progression is subtle, even though the distances are relatively great, highlighting the desired feel of a rambling homestead.

"This idea of the wings in a country residence means in no single space do you have the sense of anyone beyond," says Danielle. "It's about retreat and revelation."

This house is on such a scale that retreating would present no challenge. It is a privileged product, scaled to accommodate a large extended family and circle of friends, and an even larger art collection. (Parallels to a gallery, its meditative, light and acoustic qualities, are never far from mind.) But as a home, it is unexpectedly warm thanks to the diverse spatial experiences, its relationship to the natural landscape and its subtle zoning of communal and private domains.

The Besens "felt privileged" to work with Wood Marsh on Miramar and consequently commissioned them to design their city residence, which is under construction. The plan reveals only one approach, which minimises the chance of a false start by an unsuspecting reviewer, but the new work will almost certainly have the robustness and muscularity of Miramar, and a timeless, sculptural quality that allows it to sit elegantly, anywhere - one of the architects' aims for their work. When so much of our built environment is ordinary, at best, extraordinary architecture such as this must be celebrated.

The proposed tallest building in Australia
Edited by meister - 4/7/13 at 3:43am
post #1592 of 4538
The first link worked, thanks.
post #1593 of 4538
Not sure if this has been discussed here, the recent topic of museums brought it to mind. The now relocated Barnes Foundation:

I went, enjoyed.
post #1594 of 4538
It appears the Folk Art Museum is going to be demolished. It's not a good building, but geez, what an unfortunate way to do business.
When a new home for the American Folk Art Museum opened on West 53d Street in Manhattan in 2001 it was hailed as a harbinger of hope for the city after the Sept. 11 attacks and praised for its bold architecture.

“Its heart is in the right time as well as the right place,” Herbert Muschamp wrote in his architecture review in The New York Times, calling the museum’s sculptural bronze facade “already a Midtown icon.”

Now, a mere 12 years later, the building is going to be demolished.

In its place the adjacent Museum of Modern Art, which bought the building in 2011, will put up an expansion, which will connect to a new tower with floors for the Modern on the other side of the former museum. And the folk museum building, designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, will take a dubious place in history as having had one of the shortest lives of an architecturally ambitious project in Manhattan.

“It’s very rare that a building that recent comes down, especially a building that was such a major design and that got so much publicity when it opened for its design — mostly very positive,” said Andrew S. Dolkart, the director of Columbia University’s historic preservation program. “The building is so solid looking on the street, and then it becomes a disposable artifact. It’s unusual and it’s tragic because it’s a notable work of 21st century architecture by noteworthy architects who haven’t done that much work in the city, and it’s a beautiful work with the look of a handcrafted facade.”

MoMA officials said the building’s design did not fit their plans because the opaque facade is not in keeping with the glass aesthetic of the rest of the museum. The former folk museum is also set back farther than MoMA’s other properties, and the floors would not line up.

“It’s not a comment on the quality of the building or Tod and Billie’s architecture,” Glenn D. Lowry, MoMA’s director said.

Mr. Lowry personally went to the architects’ offices to inform them of the museum’s decision, a gesture that Ms. Tsien said she appreciated.

“We feel really disappointed,” she said in an interview. “There are of course the personal feelings — your buildings are like your children, and this is a particular, for us, beloved small child. But there is also the feeling that it’s a kind of loss for architecture, because it’s a special building, a kind of small building that’s crafted, that’s particular and thoughtful at a time when so many buildings are about bigness.”

The folk art museum, which had once envisioned the building as a stimulus for its growth, ended up selling the property, at 45 West 53d Street, to pay off the $32 million it had borrowed to finance an expansion. It now operates at a smaller site on Lincoln Square, at West 66th Street.

Mr. Lowry said the expansion would complete the MoMA campus, which will ultimately consist of five buildings, four of them on West 53rd Street between Fifth Avenue and the Avenue of the Americas.

Still to be built is an 82-story tower just west of the folk museum that is being developed by Hines, a Houston company, and was designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel. It will include apartments as well as exhibition space for the museum.

When the projects are finished the museum will gain about 10,000 square feet of gallery space at the former folk art site and about 40,000 in the Nouvel building, officials said. The Modern’s second, fourth and fifth floors will line up with those in both buildings. (The second-floor galleries are double height.)

“We’ll have a completely integrated west end to the museum,” Mr. Lowry said. “Floor plates will extend seamlessly.”

Precisely what will be displayed in the new galleries has yet to be determined, but Mr. Lowry said they would include work from the Modern’s “midcentury collections, early Modern collections and temporary exhibitions.”

The cost for the project has not been announced, he said, and fund-raising has yet to begin.

MoMA’s 2004 renovation, designed by the Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi, increased the museum’s gallery space to 125,000 square feet, from 85,000 (and the overall size to 630,000 square feet, from 378,000). But the museum still needs more room for exhibitions.

“We have a lot of art that we own that we would like to show,” said Jerry I. Speyer, the real estate developer who is the museum’s chairman. “When we built what exists today we didn’t get as much exhibition space as we really need.”

Ms. Tsien said she and Mr. Williams, her husband, wished the Modern had found a way to reuse what they designed and to realize its value.

“It’s a building that kids study in architecture school,” she said. “They study it as a kind of precedent to understand how buildings are made and to understand the kind of space it is because it is a complex and interesting building in a very small site.”

But, she added, “it doesn’t seem to make sense to second-guess how they might have used it.”

The Modern will interview architects to design the new addition, Mr. Lowry said, and hopes to select one by the end of this year. It expects to have the building demolished by then.

Construction of the Nouvel project is expected to start in 2014, with both new buildings being completed simultaneously in 2017 or 2018, Mr. Lowry said.

The museum has been aggressive about expansion. In 1996 it bought the Dorset Hotel, a 1920s building on West 54th Street, and two adjacent brownstones, using much of the sites for its extensive renovation in 2004.

In 2007 the museum sold its last vacant parcel of land for $125 million to Hines, which decided to develop the Nouvel building and include space for the museum.

Mr. Nouvel originally designed the tower, at 53 West 53d Street, with a spire rising 1,250 feet — matching the top floor of the Empire State Building — and Nicolai Ouroussoff predicted in The Times that it would be “the most exhilarating addition to the skyline in a generation.”

But residents protested the height and the Department of City Planning demanded that Mr. Nouvel cut 200 feet from the top. He did so, and in 2009 the City Council approved plans for a tower that is to rise 1,050 feet.

The museum is deciding what to put at ground level at the former folk art building site — perhaps additional retail or another restaurant, Mr. Lowry said. (Its upscale restaurant, the Dining Room at the Modern, received three stars from Pete Wells in The Times last month.)

“We bought the site,” Mr. Lowry said, “and our responsibility is to use the site intelligently.”

Ms. Tsien said she could not recall another example of such a high-profile architectural project being demolished so soon after it was built. “Museums have opened and closed and buildings have shifted,” she said, “but I don’t know about being torn down.”
post #1595 of 4538
post #1596 of 4538
post #1597 of 4538
Don't see this every day.

Witherford Watson Mann
Castle Renovation
Warwickshire, England

post #1598 of 4538

I really like the understated choice of material and scale of the addition. It's the work of  someone who just wanted to fix up the old castle a bit.

Not loving the stairway.



post #1599 of 4538
Originally Posted by StephenHero View Post

Don't see this every day.

Witherford Watson Mann
Castle Renovation
Warwickshire, England

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

British building preservation has come along way the last 10-15 years, 20 years ago that building would had been brought back to original state, would love to see other countries join them.
post #1600 of 4538
The staircase doesn't do it for me either. It's hard to say much else about the design or other approaches because I assume there were so many logistical issues involved.
post #1601 of 4538
Originally Posted by StephenHero View Post

The staircase doesn't do it for me either. It's hard to say much else about the design or other approaches because I assume there were so many logistical issues involved.

Man u cray
post #1602 of 4538
post #1603 of 4538
(Biting SH's presentation format. No offense...)

Fernanda Canales + Saidee Springall + arquitectura911sc
Elena Garro Cultural Centre
Coyoacán, Ciudad de México

post #1604 of 4538
Unsure what thread to drop this in, but this is our new gallery space. We took out two drop ceilings, filled in some unfortunate arches, dry walled the entire space, stained the floors, and had one of the artists, a trained architect, design the office. It was a ton of work but we're pretty thrilled with the transformation. Looking for the "before" photo, but in the meantime:

post #1605 of 4538
Looks great! Liking the unfinished plywood.
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