No. 479 . 16 June 2010 

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The Wyly Theatre in Dallas, Texas, by Joshua Prince-Ramus of REX and Rem Koolhaas of OMA, with facade consultants Front.  Photo: Iwan Baan 

Facades by Front

by Elite Kedan, Jon Dreyfous, and Craig Mutter

Focusing on conceptually and technologically sophisticated facades, the consulting practice Front has had considerable influence on high-profile projects despite its small size. Bruce Nichol, a partner and cofounder of Front, talks with Jon Dreyfous, Elite Kedan, and Craig Mutter about his experience working with Renzo Piano on the New York Times Building in New York City, and with Rem Koolhaas and the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) on the China Central Television Headquarters (CCTV) and the Seattle Public Library. — Editor

How was Rotterdam? What was it like working there [with OMA]?
It was different from our experience with other clients, though for me personally it was pretty straightforward. I'd just come from Renzo Piano Building Workshop in Paris, where activity was very much about testing the design and details through models. The model shop enjoys a street frontage and the architects sit behind it, out of sight.

I was used to working closely with model-makers at every stage of the design process, but at RPBW none of the architects are allowed to work on the models directly, because the Workshop is an industrial environment with professional craftsmen.

Also, Paris is one of those cities with a tradition of skilled tradesmen. You must be a maquettiste to use any of the tools. If you push the maquettistes too hard, they'll go on strike [laughter], so we sometimes needed someone to mediate between them and the architects.   >>>

This article is excerpted from Provisional: Emerging Modes of Architectural Practice USA, edited by Elite Kedan, Jon Dreyfous, and Craig Mutter, copyright © 2010, with permission of the publisher, Princeton Architectural Press.




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