Janelle Zara
Architecture & Design News

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Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Category

LED Lights Will Be Installed Inside the Sistine Chapel

Soon, you’ll be seeing the Sistine Chapel from a whole new light. Next month, the Vatican is installing 7,000 LED lights around the perimeter of Michaelangelo’s masterpiece 6,135-square-foot ceiling painting to improve visitors’ views of the piece, reports the Atlantic. The LEDs will replace low-energy halogen light bulbs, which were installed in the 1980s to preserve the painting’s pigments but which, as a result, took a toll on the work’s visibility for squinting viewers down below. Last year, LEDs were also installed at the Louvre to better light the Mona Lisa.

Though Michaelangelo was illuminated by light that streamed in from the chapel’s windows while working on the ceiling, Vatican officials blocked off the natural sunlight for fear of its deleterious effects on the painting’s already-fading frescoes. This time around, they will use custom-designed Osram LED bulbs, which will brighten views of the painting and consume 60% less energy (and therefore also last longer) than the halogen lights, according to LEDs Magazine. Michaelangelo’s frescoes are attuned to the ceiling’s curvature and to the previous natural light sournces, which drove Osram technicians to perform elaborate tests before developing the new lighting scheme. According to the Atlantic, “Technicians analyzed 280 patches on both the chapel’s ceiling and its wall frescos, creating a spectrum map of the colors Michelangelo used in decorating the Sistine’s surfaces. From there, they designed an interactive system of LEDs that blend red, blue, green, and white shades of light—each combination meant to optimize the display of the frescos.”

— Anna Kats (@fortunaviriliis)

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Hernan Diaz-Alonso Takes Over as Director of SCI-Arc

It’s been a rumor for quite some time, but SCI-Arc has finally made the official announcement: professor Hernan Diaz-Alonso takes over as Director of the Los Angeles architecture school from Eric Owen Moss, who officially stepped down in June after 13 years in the post. “I am pleased that the SCI-Arc Board of Trustees at its quarterly meeting [on Wednesday, September 10] approved the contract with Hernan Diaz Alonso as the next Director of SCI-Arc. Hernan will assume this role beginning September 2015…It is my honor to announce that the Board of Trustees has finalized its search for the next Director of SCI-Arc, and after over a decade of extraordinary service by Eric Owen Moss, we are placing SCI-Arc’s future in the amazing mind, heart and hands of Hernan Diaz Alonso,” wrote SCI-Arc board chair Jerry Neuman in a letter published on Archinect. Owen Moss would appear to agree with the appointment and the high regard: “SCI-Arc’s task, in perpetuity, is to go where we haven’t been, and report on what we find,” he said in a press release on the occasion. “Hernan Diaz Alonso is the perfect architect to continue this expedition.”


The Getty Announces Plans to Restore Eames, Kahn, and More

The Getty Foundation will contribute funds to the restoration of Jørn Utzon’s iconic Sydney Opera House as part of its new architecture initiative.

The list of buildings the Getty Foundation plans to help conserve as part of Keeping it Modern, the Los Angeles-based research institute’s latest architecture initiative that was announced yesterday, reads like an abridged greatest hits list of modernist architecture: Eames, Aalto, Kahn, and more. The project aims not only to restore some of the seminal structures of 20th century architecture, but also to develop innovative methods of conservation to deal with buildings constructed using experimental techniques and materials that are holding up poorly with the passage of time. Grants are awarded for the comprehensive planning, testing, and analysis of modern materials, as well as the creation of conservation management plans that determine long-term maintenance and conservation policies. ”This new initiative continues our commitment, but now brings into sharp focus the specific conservation issues of modern buildings. This initial round of grants includes important buildings on several continents,” said Getty Foundation director Deborah Marrow in a statement. (more…)

Argentina Plans to Build Latin America’s Tallest Quarter-Pipe

Architecture as skateboarding paraphernalia.

Argentina may be in the throes of a monumental financial crisis, but that isn’t stopping the cash-strapped country from commissioning monumental architecture. Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner today announced the winning proposal for the Cinematography and Audiovisual Tower that will be built in Buenos Aires by 2018, reports ArchDaily. MRA+A Álvarez| Bernabó | Sabatini’s parabolic design beat out four other competitors for the project, with a curved quarter-circle tower that will have 67 floors, 216,000 square meters of space, and a hotel on the highest 13 floors. Construction is expected to begin later this year on the structure, which will be Latin America’s tallest skyscraper upon completion, soaring to 1100 feet.

In the meantime, however, skateboarder Tony Hawk (who was in Buenos Aires earlier this month) took to Twitter to state the obvious: “Just after we left Argentina, they approve this skyscraper design (1200 feet tall). Coincidence?” We think not.

— Anna Kats (@fortunaviriliis)

Image via Fan Page de Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

How Zoltan Pali and Renzo Piano Broke Up

Zoltan Pali and Renzo Piano were originally meant to design the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, rendered above, as a single design team.

Few outside of Los Angeles’s architecture community had heard of Zoltan Pali until it was announced in 2012 that the local architect would be collaborating with Renzo Piano on the much-hyped Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is due to occupy the site of the former May Company building on Robertson and Wilshire in 2017. Yet Pali, like so many architecture aficionados, already knew and loved Piano’s work — so much so, that Pali even named his son after the Pritzker winner. More surprising than the original announcement that the relatively unknown Culver City-based designer would be collaborating with Piano was the sudden announcement this past spring that the Academy Museum had dropped Pali from the project, with no further explanation. Much was left to the imaginations of curious onlookers who wondered why the split had occurred, and questions abounded without answer.

This week, many of those questions are finally being addressed thanks to a thoroughly engrossing interview that Sam Lubell, West Coast editor of the Architect’s Newspaper, conducted with Pali. Though the dialogue isn’t quite a tell-all, Pali is very frank — the emerging designer discusses his disappointment with the spherical design that came out of the collaboration, his disillusionment with Piano, and what he learned from observing the work of the Building Workshop’s very large global office. We’ll leave you to read the entire piece, but we’ve compiled some of our favorite lines from the interview below (Lubell’s words are bolded): (more…)

OfficeUS Proposes Floating Museum Plan for Guggenheim Helsinki

OfficeUS, the American Pavilion at this year’s 14th Venice Architecture Biennale, is operating a design firm for the 6-month duration of the exhibition — and like all budding architects, the partners at OfficeUS are dreaming big. The American Pavilion is currently devoted to examining the global architecture office, so the team is proposing a study in developing the global museum. With a plum commission in mind, the pavilion announced back in July that it might just be considering the possibility of submitting a proposal to the Guggenheim Helsinki design competition — maybe (the office even hosted a Potential Participation Party in Venice). Today, OfficeUS announced in a press release that continues the firm’s flirtation with Guggenheim prospects. OfficeUS suggests a rather innovative vision for the controversial museum: an itinerant Guggenheim, that navigates between Helsinki, Tallinn, and St. Petersburg to store and display visual art for denizens of all three cities. The statement is probably more sendup than it is serious, but we’ll leave you to parse its humor: (more…)

Michael Graves Retrospective Opens on October 18 in New Jersey

Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey will open a retrospective devoted to the architecture and design of seminal post-modernist Michael Graves on October 18, the institution announced in a press release yesterday. The exhibition, entitled “Past as Prologue,” will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Graves’s design firm and its five decades of work. The show will feature Graves’s seminal architecture and product design projects, and will include some of the architect’s original sculptures and paintings. “Past as Prologue” will be on view through April 5, 2015, and aims to reflect the evolution of the core principles of Graves’s design practice — how the past influences the present, wit, and vibrant color. “Reminiscing over 50 years of projects is wonderful for me, but I am most excited about how the future of our practice is evolving from the energetic collaboration of our disciplines,” said Michael Graves in a statement. “I hope that visitors experience the many scales of our designs with the same joy that we feel in creating them.”

Graves’s 1982 Portland Building is among his most controversial designs, and will be treated at length in the upcoming retrospective. (more…)

You Could Curate the Next Oslo Architecture Triennial

Though it’s highly unusual for a biennial, triennial, or n-ennial to issue an open call for curators, the Oslo Architecture Triennial is doing things differently for its fall 2016 edition. The Norwegian architecture festival announced the competition on Monday, inviting English-language applications for individual curators or curatorial teams from any country through October 17, 2014. “The Curator will have primary academic and artistic responsibility for OAT 2016, including the development of its conceptual and thematic framework, research and programming, exhibitions and events,” explains the competition brief. Responsibilities also include fundraising and developing two publications — one catalog ahead of the triennial’s opening (to be determined), and the other a post-triennial book that presents and analyzes the three-month festival’s events and exhibitions.


Palm Springs Will Open a Midcentury Design Center in November

A rendering of the forthcoming Architecture and Design Center, set to open in Palm Springs, California on November 9.

Fifty to 60 years ago, Palm Springs, California was a design capital: Richard Neutra, Rudolph Schindler, John Lautner, and many other famed midcentury architects built homes around the desert city for Hollywood’s biggest stars (think Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope). Photographs like Julius Shulman’s iconic image of Neutra’s Kaufmann House catapulted the city to international fame, creating its reputation for high design, beautiful scenery, and glamorous celebrities. Though Hollywood’s biggest names no longer frequent Palm Springs quite as often as they used to, and architects are better known for restoring its historic homes than building new structures there, the Palm Springs retains its identity as a hub for midcentury design. The city annually hosts a popular Modernism Week, and the locale’s appeal for midcentury modernism fans is about to grow substantially. The city will open a permanent museum and cultural center devoted to midcentury design, known as the Architecture and Design Center, on November 9, reports the Los Angeles Times. (more…)

Panoramic Views of Alvar Aalto’s Studio, Courtesy of Google Earth

A screenshot of the interior of Alvar Aalto’s studio, as seen on Google Earth.

If you’ve ever wondered what goes on inside a brilliant architect’s studio, now is your chance to see for yourself. The Google Cultural Institute and the Alvar Aalto Foundation are partnering to make the Finnish architect’s spaces available online in 350-degree panoramas that detail every surface, reports Archinect. “The partnership’s collection focuses on eight sites, including Aalto’s studio, Säynätsalo Town Hall, and the House Kantola, as well as an exhibition at the Aalto Museum in Jyväskylä, Finland on the restoration of his Vyborg Library. Google also has a personal interest in the architect’s works, as one of its data centers is located in a former cellulose factory that Aalto designed, in Hamina, Finland,” writes Amelia Taylor-Hochberg for Archinect. The beautiful views are made possible by a somewhat more sinister, explains Taylor-Hochberg: the improved resolutions on Google’s satellite imaging that make close-ups possible can also be used to spy on nearly anyone from a distance.

— Anna Kats (@fortunaviriliis)

Image via the Google Cultural Institute.