Dear ArchitectureWeek Readers,
The Crystal Bridges Museum is organized as a series of galleries connected around a quiet pond. Photo: © Timothy Hursley
Crystal Bridges Museum - Safdie in Arkansas
by Michael Cockram
For those familiar with the remote and quiet beauty of
the Ozarks of Northwest Arkansas, the sudden appearance
of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in
Bentonville seems somewhat miraculous.
There had been, of course, much buzz leading up to the
opening, but nothing could quite prepare the visitor for
the arrival and the experience of peering down into a
narrow ravine and seeing, some 30 feet (nine meters)
below, a village of swirling forms set around a mirrored
Architect Moshe Safdie placed the buildings at the
bottom of the ravine to take advantage of the water and
to preserve the mature trees that grew on the high
ground. The overall effect is stunning.
The central conceit of the scheme wraps the galleries,
set up as a series of pavilions, around a pond
constructed by damming a small creek. The main galleries
flank the water on the east and west sides and have
concave roofs that sweep down toward the pond. The two
glass-walled bridges, with their vaulted roofs, span the
pond and connect the main galleries.
The device of damming and bridging the creek grew out of
Safdie's visit to the nearby childhood home of the
museum's benefactor, Walmart heiress Alice Walton.
"I saw that house and how Fay Jones had dammed the water
and created a little pool," Safdie told
ArchitectureWeek. "Once I went into the ravine, I
immediately thought that the way to capture the spirit
of the place is to dam the stream and create large
bodies of water and then build around them."
During the 1950s, Oscar Niemeyer designed the National Congress Building in Brasília, as well as several other major government buildings in Brazil's new capital. Photo: Jorge Andrade
Oscar Niemeyer - Brazilian Modernist
by Styliane Philippou
As the preeminent figure of one of the most innovative national interpretations of architectural Modernism, and a radical critic of orthodox Modernist aesthetic formulae and moralizing ideologies, Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer occupies a unique place in the pantheon of great builders.
Tirelessly exploring the structural and formal possibilities of reinforced concrete over more than seven decades, and still in practice at over 100 years old, Niemeyer has designed over 600 buildings.
Taking advantage of Brazil's advanced reinforced-concrete technology and working closely with highly committed structural engineers, Niemeyer found in concrete an ideal means to achieve what he refers to as an architecture of "spectacle... plastic freedom and... inventiveness," rooted in Brazil's native traditions and tropical landscape and challenging the dominance of clean white walls, straight lines, and right angles, which, for him, "issued from a European ethical tradition."
Simplicity and exuberance combine at the Museu Oscar Niemeyer in Curitiba, Brazil, designed by Oscar Niemeyer, which opened in 2002. Photo: © Kevin Matthews/ ArtificeImages
Conjugating architectural, structural, and topographical events to achieve maximum fluidity, he prioritized the sensual reality of the architectural experience. Concrete, a material suited to the local economic and technological conditions, permitted Niemeyer to launch what he conceived as a "new" and "bolder architecture in the dimensions of Brazil," proclaiming the country's unequivocal modernity as well as its emancipation from Western prototypes.
Architect of Brazilian Modernism
Born Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida de Niemeyer Soares Filho, in Rio de Janeiro, Niemeyer stresses his "diverse ethnic roots" — that is, his Brazilianness, in accordance with the national ideology of ethnic amalgamation.
Niemeyer studied at the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes from 1929 to 1934, where the patriarch of modern Brazilian architecture, Lúcio Costa, had added a "Functional Course" and appointed as professor Gregori Warchavchik, a pioneer of the Modern Movement in Latin America, with Affonso Eduardo Reidy as his assistant.
The short-lived course provoked explosive opposition from the school's Beaux-Art majority, but it was popular with the students Costa described as "a purist battalion dedicated to the impassioned study of Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and especially Le Corbusier."
The Sumatrakontor mixed-use building, designed by Erick van Egeraat, has opened in Hamburg, Germany. Photo: © J Collingridge
People and Places
by Nancy Novitski
Frank Gehry with H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture in New York, New York — Foster + Partners with Walter Francl Architecture in Vancouver, Canada — Erick van Egeraat in Hamburg, Germany...
Hamburg — 2012.0120
The Sumatrakontor building has officially opened in Hamburg, Germany. Designed by Dutch architect Erick van Egeraat, the ten-story, 37,000-square-meter (400,000-square-foot) mixed-use building combines a five-star hotel, offices, conference rooms, retail space, high-end housing, and an underground parking garage.
The facility is part of the Überseequartier master plan and the larger HafenCity waterfront redevelopment. The building forms a clear urban block around an inner courtyard that opens toward the main boulevard, creating a semi-public space.
The design makes a contemporary reference to the historic red-brick harbor buildings through the use of red stone. The large volume appears to be cut into four different volumes, underscored by a specific dialectic play between glass, aluminum, and red stone slabs for each of the volumes. In contrast, all facades facing the inner courtyard are white, like the traditional white plastered facades of the city center.
The project was developed by ING REIM; SNS property finance; and Gross + Partners (recently acquired by Pramerica).
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