Texas Architect March/April 2012: Destinations
Destinations represent different points of arrival, whether a temporary stopping place during a student’s busy day on campus or destinations for entertainment and cultural events.Of particular note is the destination for dignitaries from around the world who will travel to Houston in mid-April for the official unveilingof the Asia Society Texas Center, previewedon page 44. Yoshio Taniguchi’s design for the$48.4 million building establishes the New York based Asia Society (founded in 1956 by John D.Rockefeller III to educate the public about Asia)with its first branch between the two coasts. Thefour-day celebration culminates with a free openhouse on April 14-15 for the public, featuringtours, food, and performances, as well as theopening of Treasures of Asian Art: A RockefellerLegacy, a temporary exhibition of works from theMr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller Collection atAsia Society New York.
Paperwork Tianjin Binhai Art Center RTKL Designing an art center for a client in China required the architects in RTKL’s Dallas office to strike a balance between allowing in natural light while protecting the artwork on exhibit. Their solution calls for an exterior that combines stone and glass, one material representing strength and another of a more delicate nature. The main programmatic elements for the 90,400-sf center include a flexible gallery space for displaying modern painting and calligraphy, private artist studios, an art auction room, and a café. The separation of public and private functions inside the building suggests a sequence of concealing and revealing experiences as one moves from inside to outside. Inside the main gallery, a series of partitions are designed to operate like large pivot doors that can be opened and closed to create a variety of spatial configurations. In addition, an exterior sculpture garden will connect the building to its outdoor landscape, with linear bars extending outward to stitch together the natural and built environments. The Tianjin Binhai urban area lies within a newly redeveloped coastal district in northeastern China near Beijing. Construction is expected to begin toward the end of this year. 20 Texas Architect 9/10 2011 Grand Hotel Austin at Waller Creek Gensler Designed by Gensler’s local office to be the city’s tallest structure, the 47-story hotel is planned for a 1.75-acre site located next door to the Austin Convention Center in the southeastern quadrant of downtown. Ground breaking is set for August, with construction tentatively scheduled to be complete in 2015. The building is designed to be 581 feet tall, with a spire that will bring the overall height to 700 feet. Containing 1,035 guest rooms, the tower will rise above four underground parking levels and a building podium with 115,000 square feet of meeting rooms and exhibit space on six floors. An enclosed skybridge will connect the tower’s second level with the convention center across Red River Street. Gensler plans to integrate the hotel’s landscape to complement adjacent Waller Creek – currently undergoing significant redevelopment as a below-street-level municipal park – including positioning the hotel lobby and one of its two restaurants on the “front porch” overlooking the creek. The developer, Manchester Texas Financial Group, foresees a LEED Gold certification for the project. Sustainable strategies include a high-performance exterior skin with shading devices to further mitigate heat gain, rainwater and graywater harvesting, and integrated occupancy monitoring systems in guest rooms to enhance overall energy efficiency.