a rch itect u re for a new world
FEBRUARY 2011 BLUEPRINT.
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Allison Allieu, Editor-in-Chief email@example.com
Both architecture and agriculture transform the natural world in order to best serve human goals. But at a site in the center of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, renowned Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, together with local firm Fong & Chan, have made the next step – fusing the two. The restored de Young Museum, which reopened in October 2005, is a prime example of how public buildings should interact with their surroundings. Constructed of warm, natural mate‑ rials including copper, stone, wood and glass, the new de Young blends with and complements its natural surroundings. Ribbons of windows erase the boundary between the museum interior and the lush natural environment outside, while four public entrances segue naturally from all the park’s pathways, welcoming visitors from all directions. The building’s dramatic copper facade is perforated and textured to replicate the impression made by light as it filters through a tree canopy, which creates an artistic abstraction on the exterior of the de Young that resonates with the treefilled setting. The building’s copper skin, chosen for its changeable quality through oxidation, will assume a rich patina over time that will blend gracefully with the surrounding natural environment.
The outdoor environment of the new de Young features a public sculpture garden and terrace nestled under a roof; a children’s garden; and landscaping that creates an organic link between the building and the surrounding environ‑ ment on all four sides. The landscape integrates historic elements from the old de Young, as well as sandstone, redwood, ferns and other materials relevant to the site, creating a museum that is open and inviting to the public. There are interesting detail elements: stained black wood mulch, chips and chunks of black stone mulch, and a fence constructed of twigs and leaves. Inside the museum is an intriguingly fractured bluestone entry by Andy Goldsworthy, and a sculpture garden with installation from light artist James Terrell. The remodeled de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park embraces both art and nature. The interweaving of visitor, art, and landscape is reinforced on the ground level through ample opportunity to enter the museum and interact with the collection, and through the tower, a reference point linking Golden Gate Park with the San Francisco community beyond. The new de Young Museum is a model for the future
39 EDITOR'S NOTE
Editor Allison Allieu weighs in on the interactions between building and nature that make the de Young Museum so special.
Our readers chime in with praise, questions, and criticisms.
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79 YOUR HOUSE
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94 MODERN TIMES
From art and design collectives to covetable collectibles, we give you the rundown of our latest picks for exhibitions, books, and design.
toc 99 ARCHITECTURE
We check in on San Franciscoâ€™s de Young Museum to investigate how the architects developed and perfected their iconic creation.
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142 PERPETUAL MOTION
In this first of a four-part series, author Robert Sullivan examines the way transportation shapes the way we all live.
ARCHIT san francisco’s
new de young
text by Lisa Ashmore photos by Alana Haldan
ith its all-encompassing copper skin and nine-story twisting ascent to an Olympian view of San Francisco’s impressive skyline, the newly rebuilt de Young Museum presides imperi‑ ally over Golden Gate Park.
But its unseen qualities may be just as remarkable as its monolithic first impression. Built near the San Andreas fault that crippled the original de Young Museum, principal architects Fong & Chan worked with the aesthetic vision of designers Herzog & de Meuron to create a building that could take a seismic beating and still offer visual fireworks, including the tower with its 144–foot airy climb to a panoramic outlook.
Much has been written about the de Young's interior and exterior, but not so much on its masterful engineering and performance. The striking skin is a quilt of about 7,200 panels manipulated and pierced in order to suggest light filtering through a native tree canopy. But less visible is an exceptional blend of architecture, engineering, and landscape.
ECTURE The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake was a huge blow for the museum; not only did the turn of the 19th century building require repairs, but the potential for major damage by eventual earthquakes eventually cost the museum the federal insurance critical for mounting the rare, irreplaceable exhibits that had earned the museum its world-class reputation. So the de Young's budget hemorrhaged millions in funds before it finally closed in 2000.
Plot Twists The new 293,000 square foot building opened in October 2005. Project manager Joe Lopes of Fong & Chan explains that it can move up to three feet due to a unique system of ball‑ bearing plates and viscous fluid dampers that absorb kinetic energy and convert it to heat. “During a seismic event, that building essentially is going to shake itself loose from the ground,” Lopes says. The building would shift within a concealed moat, pushing loosely fixed pavers up around the building. Ideally, this would be a covered device, like a podium, but that seemed incompatible with the strong design imperative of creating harmony within the overall park setting. “Obviously for us to create that illusion of the building sitting grounded into the landscape, the idea of putting the building on a podium was not very exciting,” Lopes said. “So we all decided that we needed to bury the podium.”
Exhibition Areas Primitive Art Contemporary Art FEBRUARY 2011
Also, the tower and three-story main building represented different engineering problems. While the tower is not seismically isolated, it did need an extreme solution to counteract its roughly 40-degree torque as it rises up to the observation deck above.
Continued on next page BLUEPRINT.
Clockwise from top left:
(1) The copper facade, textured with random circular patterns, will patina over time; (2) The front entrance features subliminal branding in the copper facades; (3) The dramatic outlook tower provides the museum’s trademark archi‑ tectural feature; (4) The branded signage for the museum features an abstracted version of the museum's iconic copper facade.
The architects decided to apply an innovative use of vertical post-tensioning cables in the walls. Lopes explains: “The top of the wall of the ninth floor is sitting on a staggered wall, so there’s nothing directly below it. During a seis‑ mic event there are pressures for it to keep rotating in that direction. So you need to have a post-tensioning cable that constantly pulls back on the tower, so you don’t over-rotate.”
exceptional blend of architecture and landscape…
Towering View The dramatic tower lookout is a true gift to the public. Going up to the top is free, indepen‑ dent of museum admission. But the original blueprints had called for a much different view. The initial design called for cloaking the entire tower with perforated copper. But as Lopes says, “The more everyone thought about it… they quickly realized it was probably not going to be a breathtaking view anymore if there's copper blocking the view.” Only after the tower was in construction and the panels were going up was the decision made to remove the perforated metal which was intended to veil the deck windows and the narrower slit several floors below. And even though the top of the tower was to have the largest perforations on the facade, it would've been frustrating to “start peeking through all these holes out to this landscape,” Lopes says.
Because the decision was made during con‑ struction, the architects worried that too much exposed glass would require major changes in energy and HVAC systems. The tower hadn't been designed to counteract the combined heat gains from active occupants, ambient summer temperature, and the solar radiation through the glazing. “So we had to limit the amount of exposed glass,” Lopes explains. “Normally in a high-rise situation you'll have a fire-egress stair fully enclosed and pressurized,” says architect David Fong. But the building’s uniquely breathable skin allowed otherwise. The architects demonstrated to the satisfaction of the fire marshal that, “with all the penetra‑ tion and perforation, we can evacuate smoke both easily and safely.” In a scenic city like San Francisco, it’s worth skipping the elevator. “As you’re coming down the tower you have this sense of being on the outside, getting the breezes in your face as you walk down. It's a pretty unique experience that you just would not get with any glazed system,” Lopes said. FEBRUARY 2011
Continued on next page
Herzog and de Meuron received international attention very early in their career with the Blue House (1980) in Oberwil, Switzerland; the Stone House in Tavole, Italy (1988); and the Apartment Building along a Party Wall in Basel (1988). The firm’s breakthrough project was the Ricola Storage Building in Laufen, Switzerland (1987). The Goetz Collection, the Gallery for a Private Collection of Modern Art located in Munich (1992) stands at the beginning of a series of interna‑ tionally acclaimed museum buildings such as the the Tate Mod‑ ern in London (2000), and Schaulager in Basel (2003). Renown in the United States came with the Dominus Winery in Yountville, California (1998). On many projects, the arch‑ itects have collaborated with artists, including Rémy Zaugg (Fünf Höfe, Five Courtyards for the Munich City Centre, 2003) and Thomas Ruff (for the Eberswalde Technical School Library in Germany, 1999).
In 1978, Pierre de Meuron and Jacques Herzog
established their office, and officially became Herzog & de Meuron in 1997. Today the firm has ten associates and 182 employees worldwide, with branch offices in London, Munich, Beijing, San Francisco, and Barcelona. Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron both teach at Harvard University and at the ETH Studio Basel, Institute for the Contemporary City.
Recently completed projects include the Laban Dance Center in London, the new Prada Aoyama flagship store in Tokyo, the Cottbus Technical University Library in Germany, Allianz Arena, the expansion of the Walker Art Center located in Minneapolis, and the National Stadium for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, commonly known as The Bird's Nest. The numerous prizes awarded the firm since 1987 include the Deutscher Kritikerpreis (1993), the Max Beckmann Award (1996), the Rolf Schock Prize for the Visual Arts (1999), and the Prix Equerre d’Argent (2001). In 2001 Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron were awarded the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize for their complete works. The prolific pair continue to create stunning architecture around the world.
Blending with the Park That blend of in and out, the flow between landscape, facade, and interior is something that Fong finds especially pleasing about the de Young museum and it's surroundings. “It’s more of a people oriented museum…you don’t have to go through any grand staircase to walk in. You kind of just flow right in, and once you’re in, we incorporate landscape [by Walter Hood] inside with these deep court‑ yards that penetrate deep into the heart of the museum.” The courtyards serve both to bring the park into the museum and to assist with wayfinding and navigation. In a 21st-century building, electronic commun‑ ications are critical. Yet, the copper facade serves as very effective blocking for most wire‑ less signals. This became a major challenge for Shen Milso & Wilke, the telecommunications designers. As a result of their analysis, the de Young was fitted with nearly 50 percent more wireless access points than a typical modern building would have. To conform to the spare interiors and choice surfaces of the museum, many were concealed in the ceiling. Initially, the building design had vocal critics, including architects who opposed the height of the tower and the proposed wood exterior. The designers adapted by reducing the height by one floor and switching to the distinctive metal cladding.
But even the early critics applauded the fact that — by inclusion of a below-ground floor and consolidation of several buildings added since 1919 — the new footprint is 37 percent smaller than it was pre-Loma Prieta. So as the copper facade eventually ages to verdigris, it will be matched by more of the park’s own surrounding lush greenery. However, the slit-enforced perspective and the overhang had been planned from the very beginning. “It was very much part of Herzog’s idea to really focus the view at that level,” Lopes says. While the glass allows excellent visibility, the overhang serves both to frame the view and shield against solar heat gain. Ultimately, the hard work has paid off for the designers and the city of San Francisco. With its uniquely conceived architecture and its integrated landscape, the new de Young has become not just a place to view great works of art, but a work of art all on its own FEBRUARY 2011
Lisa Ashmore is a freelance writer based in Atlanta and former managing editor of the architectural journal DesignIntelligence.
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FEBRUARY 2011 BLUEPRINT.
how transportation shapes america
text by Robert Sullivan photos by Getty Images
What does the interstate have to do
with your house or apartment and the food that’s in your fridge? What does the widened state high‑ way down the block have to do with the shape of your town or city? What does the automobile have to do with where kids hang out on the weekend? Why are bus routes a reflection of the quality of social justice? It is these and other questions I have been thinking about while traveling the country for the past few months, checking out cities and towns while seeing how people get around. And I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but you should know right off the bat that even though the word “transportation” might make your head fall toward the pillow or make you roll your tired-from-thecommute eyes, there’s nothing that could be more elemental to the state of your community (or to the lack thereof). The roads—and the routes and the paths, the trails and the rights-of-way—take us away and they bring us back home. They make us who we are and make the places where we live.
So on this, my very first excursion, I'm off into the past, kind of—to think about where we have been, as corny as it sounds. And then to come back, to return home, in this case to the city, in my case to New York. In the morning I climb into the family station wagon, and in a time-machine kind of way, I set out into the east, out to New England’s (and America’s) oldest highways. For help in road expli‑ cation, my destination on this roads-for-roads’-sake day is a little town in Connecticut—Guilford, the home of Dolores Hayden, professor of architecture and American studies at Yale, and the author of such books as Redesigning the American Dream and Building Suburbia. She is some kind of a naturalist of modern road-inspired building, especially with her latest book, A Field Guide to Sprawl. “Words such as city, suburb, and countryside no longer capture the reality of real estate development in the United States,” she writes. Thus, she's given us a list of new ones: logo building, sitcom suburb, zoomburb. Continued on next page
the car unifying us as rush-hour beings… As I set out—in a very tame Kerouacian kind of way—to meet this New England-based diviner of meaning in the interstate existence, I’m on a side street in New York City, a street full of row houses, delis, little stores, and restaurants, a street laid out for streetcars and horses, and taken over by autos. Then on Atlantic Avenue, I touch the border of Brooklyn Heights, the first commuter development set in New York City, an 1820’s precursor of the suburb—and then in a few blocks I head onto an interstate highway, I-278, a.k.a. Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, a.k.a. the BQE. My soundtrack is the news radio station, blaring the traffic report that is the traffic report of all America, the car unifying us as rush-hour beings: “jammed…backed up… starting to move…bumper to bumper.” I drive north, toward the Bronx, to the beginning of what in the mind of many road historians is the first modern roadway, the road that led to the inter‑ state—the Bronx River Parkway.
backed up…bumper to bumper…
The Bronx River: How not-at-all bucolic it must sound to the non-New Yorkers of America today, mostly because of the word “Bronx,” a word that is derived from the name Bronck, as in Jonas Bronck, who arrived in the I7th century, and which for many years has been a synonym for urban decay and blight, in many ways due to the interstate highway system. Rest assured that when the Bronx River Parkway was first begun, in 1907, it was a bucolic experience, a kind of fancy hike without any hiking. The parkway—like the parkways that would subsequently be built all around the Eastern Seaboard and then in the west—was exactly that: a way through a park, a trip along the banks of the Bronx River, an outing.
The parkway still feels bucolic, if not small for a modern car. After a few minutes, I pull off to cut through a suburb, the likes of which are all over the outskirts of cities in America: see Lakewood near Cleveland, or Newton in Boston, the older suburbs that set up along the first train lines out of an old downtown. The Hutchinson Parkway, the next place I am not stopping, was built wider than the Bronx River Parkway, since roads began to kill thousands of people in the 1930’s. It is almost a freeway, for the ‘3os were also the time of the first freeways, as in free to not stop. The word “free” replaced the “park” in terminology and in fact. “Well, I don’t know how you felt driving up I-95,” says Dolores Hayden, just after she pulls up to the Guilford Green, “but I often feel so dreadfully sad.” She is happy-seeming now, setting out on the green. But then the green is a jewel, a mood-lifting eightacre plot of public lawn that dates from the town’s founding in 1639. The first Guilfordians, a group of Puritans from England, grazed cattle commu‑ nally and lived in thatched-roofed houses along the green, a nearly medieval America. Today, to live in Guilford is mostly to commute. But the green, crisscrossed with paths and dotted with monuments, still works, Hayden points out. High-school graduations are held on the green, and in the fall there is an agricultural fair and parade of farmers and trades, an actual medieval remnant. “That’s what makes the green seem very important in people’s lives,” she says. “In other towns they’d take a piece to widen an intersection. They’d take a piece to do something else. Here they don’t.” In the very center of the green, you can look out past Ben Franklin’s Post Road, past houses from nearly every decade and a strip mall that was added in the 1990’s, and you can see the concrete overpass of the interstate, with traffic racing by obliviously.
As I cross the border into Connecticut, the Hutchin‑ son becomes the Merritt Parkway. The Merritt was built partly to relieve the traffic on Route 1, the old road from Boston to Philadelphia—the oldest road, officially so designated in 1673, when the main mode of travel, aside from foot, was horse. The Merritt was also built to encourage real estate development: When the area’s property values were faltering, developers believed highways were the answer to their prayers. I stop at a little stone house rest stop befitting a highway that is on the National Register of Historic Places; buy coffee from Africa via Vermont; cruise up north for a few miles along the Merritt—the banked curves! the beautiful trees! the joy of cruising! the intoxicating and addictive rush!—and then cut through West‑ port, Connecticut, the sometime-home of Martha Stewart, to reach I-95. I-95 is just so not Martha Stewart. I-95 is in fact the longest north-to-south interstate—1 ,927 miles long, passing from Maine to Florida—and one of the most heavily traveled roads in America. Its rest stops, fast-food places with bathrooms larger than those in most public schools, are the loneliest places in the world.
Continued on next page BLUEPRINT.
“Sometimes when the wind is just right you can hear it,” Hayden says of I-95, and she sets off on a little walk, a mile or so long, to see what roads have done and are still doing. It’s a walk to where you can’t walk anymore.
We turn on Fair Street, an original street, which is fair. In sight: an 18th-century house with a 19thcentury addition and a factory from the 18oo’s, when labor was close to consumption, when it was close to the labor force, distances that are today crossed by highways and container ships. On Fair Street, the older the house, the closer it is to the road. Once, people wanted to be near the road.
This is a neighborhood that Hayden has actually photographed from the sky; aerial photography illustrates the pressure the highway puts on a town. “One of the better shots is looking at the size of this strip mall versus the size of these houses. The town has not been as aggressive as I would like in terms of giving people support for structures in the historic district,” she says. You can hear the suddenly speedy traffic at the corner, and see it on the old Post Road, only two lanes but fast, a race. “Okay,” she says, “now this is where we get to the point where it starts to come apart. This is where you feel like, if you’re not in your car, you’re making a mistake.”
Walking no longer a good idea, we get in Hayden’s car and drive down Route 1, to the land where no one walks, the land that looks like everywhere, the mood changing. We drive into another strip mall, to see the expanding supermarket alongside a Dunkin’ Donuts and various chains. Hayden surveys, sadness creeping into her voice, into her professorial tone. Her car’s blinker is blinking and her head is shaking as she opines about the year the federal government changed the tax code in order to encourage edge-of-town development and the year that the edge-of-town-development-feeding interstate program was begun, 1954 and 1956, respectively—arcane-seeming dates which made monumental changes to the American landscape. “It [was a] direct response to feeling that the pro‑ duction of suburban housing might be slowing a little bit,” she says. “And instead of saying, Okay, let’s do more public housing, or let’s do more innercity preservation, they pumped money straight into the greenfield construction of supermarkets, fast-food places, chain hotels. So that’s the worst possible choice in terms of obsolescence, and in terms of moving economic activity out to beyond where the tract houses are and letting everything else go, and the roads just enhance it. That’s what was subsidized. I mean, out of all the money that could have been spent on community planning and decent architecture—it went to bogus, banal, and cheap architecture instead.”
[a street is a public space]
Here at Route 1 and Fair Street, Fair Street is no “Yes,” she says, using the words that fill her Field longer so fair. On the side marked “historic” is Guide, “the big-box, category-killer, strip-mall stuff the 17th-century home of Thomas Cooke, still used, just bears down on everything. Once a community the plaque by the door noting that he arrived in that has been around for 300 years has literally 1639 by ship. Kitty-corner is a Sunoco and a Deli been ripped apart, it’s pretty fragile,” she continues. Unlimited, then an old school being condoized, “It’s gone. You see other towns that are gone, and then Tommy’s Tanning in the strip mall. “You you see how fragile they can really be. A few more see, it’s not like everything is going to disappear in gas stations and big-box stores, the scale is gone one night,” Hayden says. “It tends to just wear and there’s nothing left to hold onto, no sense of away at old neighborhoods. The cars and trucks place—and you can see towns like that all over.” invade serenity and change its scale. It’s relentless Continued on next page pressure. This is not an edge to be treated lightly,” she says. “I-95, once you come off of it, it bleeds into the town.” BLUEPRINT.
In fact, I meet him a block away from the highway, at the intersection of Gansevoort Street and Ninth Avenue, which happens to intersect as well with Little West 12th Street, in a cobblestone square, an accidental piazza that has Wiley-Schwartz pretty revved up—he is an evangelist of the foot. “Isn’t this great?” he says. He’s talking about the place, the street, the intersection. “Watch this,” he con‑ tinues. “The sidewalk is here but the desire line is there.” “Desire line” is Wiley-Schwartz’s term for the way people really want to walk, despite what traffic engineers suggest. He points out from the far corner and draws an imaginary line across the cobblestones at the end of Ninth Avenue, from the French restaurant toward Hotel Gansevoort.
From Connecticut, or anywhere in New England— or anywhere in the U.S., for that matter—there are a couple of highways to choose from if you are coming (literally or metaphorically) back to New York City, back to the present. You could take the “So the sidewalk should be out here,” where he is FDR Drive, which cruises down the east side of walking, explains Wiley-Schwartz. At that same Manhattan—a multilaned expressway that really moment, a woman walks from the south, walks the isn’t always express, due to the number of cars. same exact way. “You know, you do not have to Or you can take the West Side Highway. The West elevate the automobile,” he says. “If you can just Side Highway was supposed to be an interstate; get [drivers] to come through here on your terms, in plans it was I-478 and referred to as the Westway, then they’ll make eye contact with all the pedest‑ but then in the ’8os, when the tide was turning rians and everything will be much safer.” Wileyagainst new interstates and people were protesting Schwartz then makes a point that is the opposite what interstates had already done, it was killed. of what the first interstate highway builders had After decades of squabbling, the West Side High‑ in mind. “The street needs to be designed for all way was made into a different kind of highway—a users,” he says. “A street is a public space.” Lessway, as it is sometimes called. And it is near the corner of the West Side Highway and Ganse‑ voort Street that I meet Andy Wiley-Schwartz, the vice president for transportation of Project for Public Places, who is out of the car and who will cross the West Side Highway on foot, and on pur‑ pose. “I do have some nice things to say about that highway,” he told me on the phone a day before. When I meet him downtown, he stands in a stream of Chelsea pedestrians and is, as a result, cheery.
We walk a few blocks south, the Hudson River sparkling on our right, the roadway moving on our left. While critics insist that the West Side High‑ way will have to be rebuilt to accommodate future Wiley-Schwartz comes prepared in cap and wind‑ traffic needs, Wiley-Schwartz argues that traffic breaker, toting a biography of famed historian needs are in fact created by the creation of roads and urban theorist Lewis Mumford, which he has and parking. In his Brooklyn neighborhood he been reading on the subway. And as we stand at visits neighborhood groups who think that the way the corner of Horatio Street and the West Side to solve parking problems is to add parking—this Highway, cars are rushing past at 50 miles an hour. in what he calls the most walkable city in the world. “Right here, it doesn’t feel like it,” Wiley-Schwartz “People just don’t get that if you build faster roads says, over the wind, “but this is major progress.” and you build more parking, then there will be faster roads and more parking,” he says. The traffic light changes. He crosses. Three lanes, landscaping, three lanes, another landscaped berm, then a bike trail, a pedestrian trail, a ribbon of parks, and the water. “Of course, it takes a big draw to get people across the highway,” he continues, “and that’s this park.” We face the Hudson River. Then we head to Wiley-Schwartz’s office, located on Broadway, part of that same pre-I-95 Route I that Ben Franklin ran to Connecticut. We cross the Village on Bleecker, businesses thriving in the run of people and slow-moving cars. And then, after For the record, Wiley-Schwartz is not anti-car. He another block, and then a left and a right, as the drives. But he likes the West Side Highway for the blocks and the streets continue to shrink and nearly way it tempts drivers with non-car-related activity. hug the walker—me—we come into the opening “You have to create an experience for drivers as at the end of Fifth Avenue, which is Washington well, where they really understand their part of the Square Park. Wiley-Schwartz stops, points, and bargain,” he says. “People make decisions about I realize my trip into the history of roads is over. mode. Transportation designers think that people “You know, there used to be a street right there,” he will always choose their cars. People aren’t given says. He is pointing to a wide park entry, to what choices. But the thing is, I don’t always drive the is now a way to walk, the ghost of the dead street shortest way.” bookended by old fountains. “It went away and the world didn’t stop,” he says
a bike trail…
a ribbon of parks…
Robert Sullivan is the author of, most recently, The Thoreau You Don't Know: What the Prophet of Environmentalism Really Meant, recently published by Harper.
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