What a year for architecture. Really? Not so much. Thinking about the past year makes me think of the "public option" and I don't mean healthcare reform. Much of what happened this year in architecture had to do with parks, libraries and such . . . not all.
Jacob Slevin, Co-Founder of DesignerPages.com comments that "architecture and construction feels as though it stopped entirely towards the end of the decade, almost like a body without a heartbeat. But just beyond the green pasture, there's a light of hope. Even the ever-delayed Burj Khalifa in Dubai opened this past year (officially completed at the end of 2009), today the tallest building in the world. In my opinion, 2010 marks the beginning of the architecture recovery, lead by 8 House, Burj Khalifa, and anything else that's survived the past three years."
Let's hope that Mr. Slevin is correct. 2010, like 2009 and 2008, was a difficult year for architects with many residential, institutional and commercial projects killed, stalled or slowed to a snail's pace. So, these highlights are all the more special.
The building Mr. Slevin refers to is 8 House (above). The just completed 8 House, probably named for its bow-tie shape, is the newest and final addition to Bjarke Ingels Group's trilogy of housing projects with developer Hopfner Partners. The building, located in the Orestad neighborhood of Copenhagen, is the largest private development in Denmark. The essential "ingredients of a neighborhood are stacked in horizontal layers and then twisted, imitating the condition of a city block, where buildings and houses co-exist. In this one, though, you can ride your bike from the ground all the way to the 10th floor.
The Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library (below) in Washington, DC, designed by Davis Brody Bond Aedas is shaped into a dynamically jutting prow that is a far cry from the inward-turned, windowless brick models of yesteryear. The architecture - utilitarian but inventive, and with a green roof and 20-foot-tall central space -- says much about the priorities and the programs going on inside libraries, where media-related services, community meeting spaces and teen rooms are becoming the norm as the former safe havens for books and bookworms turn themselves into interactive civic centers.
The new MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Mass. (below), makes a more typical grand architectural statement. Designed by the Japanese firm Maki & Associates, this is what most want from big-budget building. The structure delivers not only a complex layering of large-scale geometries, always impressive, but it also manages to add some flair to its monumental interiors (always a problem with architects - my opinion), what with the glassed in elevator machinery dripping with pulleys that look like an art installation and the stairs painted an inviting bright red, yellow and blue.
A genre-bending design of a parking garage by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron in Miami Beach stands out (below). The seven-level open garage, called 1111 Lincoln Road transforms the banal into an immersive social structure. In the structure at different levels and open to gorgeous Miami Beach views are retail shops, outdoor restaurants and, at the top, a home that belongs to the developer. It's openness and plan is a fine example of how warm climates serve innovative architecture.
Landscape architecture is an ever-evolving discipline with more talent coming to the fore and governments realizing how a great plan can really transform city life and increase those important 'livability' stats and green spaces they covet. A superb example of that was last year's opening and gleeful embrace of New York's High Line. Well, Brooklyn Bridge Park (below) has raised the bar further.
what do you think? did I miss a superb architectural contribution in 2010? Let me know. Happy New Year.