I’ve inadvertently been talking about projects this week that have distinct relationships with water; one has been exceedingly photogenic and the other… well… it’s working on it. I happen to like it, but wastewater treatment facilities aren’t for everybody. I’d like to write about how water can shape buildings and also feature a project that isn’t typically glamorous: the lowly public restroom.
Even without knowing what the typical water treatment facility looks like I’m fairly confident that this one in New York is an outstanding example. The only other water treatment plant I can think of that is worth mentioning is this one in Connecticut designed by Steven Holl. But this isn’t a comparison of the two projects, it’s just nice when infrastructure projects consider what they look like instead of just what they do.
The timescale of geology is bonkers. For instance, the most popular tourist attraction in Northern Ireland is the result of lava flows that occurred some 60 million years ago. Along the rocky shoreline, tens of thousands of hexagonal basalt columns emerge from the ground and gradually sink into the sea. Now thanks to the folks at Henegan Peng Architects, thousands of stone mullions are rising and sinking into a grassy plain adjacent to this natural wonder. It’s the Giant’s Causeway Visitor’s Centre.
I haven’t quite known what to think about Peter Zumthor’s proposed overhaul of the LACMA campus, ever since I saw it described as a “black flower.” It confused me. I know black flowers exist, but the architect’s nickname for the project doesn’t help me understand this enormous, amoeba-shaped slab of concrete that the architect has plopped down onto the sunny Los Angeles terrain. And aren’t flowers, even black ones, usually delicate? This project is something much sturdier and larger, and when it’s done, will probably smell a lot more like the neighboring La Brea tar pits than a flower.
When I saw Alex’s post earlier today it reminded me of an older project which also did a good job of giving new life to an old structure. Back in 2009, the folks at Haworth Tompkins took an old, rundown brick building on the site of the Aldeburgh Music campus and turned it into a contemporary space suitable for rehearsals, meetings, or even an exhibition space.
Do you like surprises? Architect Raffaello Rosselli probably does, as is evidenced by this surprising piece of architecture. The project, a house in the suburbs of Sydney, has an unique facade which references the neighborhood’s industrial history. A lowly tin shed used to stand where Tinshed (the name of the home) stands now, but it was razed and rebuilt using sturdy materials and amenities like insulation.
Before we talk about the future of Penn Station, we have to briefly consider its past. In 1963, the Penn Station above was demolished. This was after much protest by the architecture community and historic preservationists. The original 1910 structure by McKim, Mead and White exemplified Beaux-Arts architecture and it was razed to make way for the squat concrete cylinder that is Madison Square Garden. This week, the Municipal Art Society of New York released the results of their challenge to four teams of architects to imagine a new future for the site.
The Draftery is all about contemporary graphic work as it relates to architecture. Mostly concerned with drawings (as distinct from models and renderings) that may be touched up with digital tools but are mostly executed using manual ones. In the Draftery’s own words, their goal is to “promote graphic works by lesser known architects, artists, students, and other practitioners. It is a place for the analysis and presentation of architectural drawings—a place to learn how each practitioner’s personal reasoning develops a distinct process.” And it’s where I found these fantastic watercolors– er, watergrays- by Mentor Noci.