Wednesday 19th October 2016Get Ready for 'Vessel'
Continuing our theme of New York from the previous week, in this post we're going to take a look at one of the most ambitious and polarizing public art/sculpture/architecture hybrids to be constructed in recent memory. Part of the Hudson Yards redevelopment project taking place on the West Side of Manhattan, the centrepiece will be a massive project by artist Thomas Heatherwick, of Heatherwick Studios.
The CEO of the firm behind the plaza development that will contain the structure, Stephen Ross, was quoted as saying, "It will become to New York what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, I believe." Bold words, and even more bold for being quoted before the final design for the piece was unveiled - only the price tag. Originally priced at a staggering $75 million USD, the cost has since ballooned to upwards of $200 million USD.
For a sculpture alone, that would be a truly inconceivable amount of money, but the Vessel is going to be far more than a sculpture - it would probably be more accurate to classify it as a very useless building.
The design, which has been described as reminiscent of a hollowed out bedbug exoskeleton (thanks for that imagery, by the way, Gothamist), is actually a scalloped tier of interlocking staircases that scale up over 150 feet. With 154 staircases and at least 80 landings, the piece will no doubt become a hive of activity, which will hopefully draw more appealing and less revolting comparisons to a beehive, once it is filled with the milling masses.
"When I was a student, I fell in love with an old discarded flight of wooden stairs outside a local building site. It caught my imagination and I loved that is was part furniture and part infrastructure. You could climb up stairs, jump on them, dance on them, get tired on them and then plonk yourself down on them."
While that might not be the most eloquent description of the grandiose Vessel project, it certain provides an interesting insight into the nature of the design process of what will no doubt become an iconic New York structure. While it might not attain the cultural heights of the Eiffel Tower, it is sure to become a recognizable part of the West Side skyline.
Vessel render by Visual House-Nelson Byrd Woltz
Posted on October 19th 2016 on 06:23pm
Wednesday 09th March 2016Brick by Brick
Lego is one of the most enjoyable kid's toys of all time, but it's also an excellent tool for the modular visualization and construction. It's a great equalizer in its simplicity. To that end, the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is running an interesting experiment: they provided ten of the world's leading architecture firms with the same set of plain white Lego bricks and asked them to "imagine the buildings to deal with challenges that face our future cities." The project is part of their Brick by Brick exhibit, designed to showcase architectural engineering and design to visitors of all ages.
Each firm received three Lego Architecture Kits comprising 1200 white pieces, and assembled them into a variety of applied design solutions. It creates an interesting crossroads where art, design and engineering meet. Some of the firms involved included SOM of Chicago, Adjaye Associates of London, Kengo Kuma and Associates of Tokyo, but perhaps the most interesting (and artistic) entry was created by the UIC School of Architecture.
Rather than sticking with the assigned project, they ditched the white pieces of the architecture kids in favour of chunky coloured Duplo pieces which they assembled together into a giant disorganized pile titled Lego 601.
According to their statement, "solutions to future conditions only can be discovered through unconventional and disobedient methods. The key is to identify and challenge preconceptions to escape contemporary anxieties about the future."
Typically architects aren't so inclined towards such impractical artistic statements, but it highlights the creative nature of the work that is done in disciplines that aren't traditionally considered part of the art world.
The most practical of the designs was that put forwards by Adjaye Associates, who envisioned a modular structure that would help respond to growing population density around the world. "The design easily allows expansion up and out, empowering communities to be resilient in the face of natural disasters and population growth," the firm writes. "It features solar panels for heat and energy, and breezeways for free cooling."
So is it art? Perhaps not in the traditional sense, but it requires no less creativity - some might even argue it requires more. Nevertheless, the era of clearly delineated spheres of influence is well and truly over, and the artistic world would do better to approach the rest of the world in a more holistic, integrated fashion - brick by brick.
Posted on March 09th 2016 on 04:43am