January 30, 2012

Video: New Museum - "Going Gaga with SANAA" - Great Spaces

Great Spaces has come out with a new video highlighting the architecture of the New Museum in New York city, designed by the Pritzker Prize winning firm Sanaa. It is a fantastic design comprised of playfully stacked boxes. The simple forms are wrapped in perforated metal screens that give the building texture and complexity. I wouldn't draw comparisons between it and the pop star Lady Gaga, but that is exactly what Great Spaces has done in their video.

Slideshow: Art Gallery of Ontario - Toronto, Canada - designed by Frank Gehry

Here are a few quick snapshots of the Art Gallery of Ontario designed by Frank Gehry. It's a rather nice building despite the gray photographs, at least from the exterior. I like the relatively simple - for Frank Gehry at least - curving Facade. It relates well to the street and the public areas work well with the pedestrian flow of the neighborhood. I wish I had more time to explore the museum itself. Right around the corner is Will Alsop's Ontario College of Art and Design - a big box hanging over a historic building on crayon colored stilts. ALso a nice piece of architecture.

January 24, 2012

Floating Parks Hold Big Potential for Cities Near Water

Written by Bradley Bailyn from Okeanos Aquaskaping 

Pick any random city on planet earth, and take a look at it on Google Maps. Odds are, that city will be near the ocean, next to a lake, or have a river running through it. There are exceptions, of course. Las Vegas is out in the middle of the desert, and Atlanta doesn’t have much water around it.

 There’s a very sensible reason for this trend. Most cities began in a time before cars and planes, so people needed water to get around. Bodies of water are economically useful and beautiful to look at, but by and large most city folk don’t really interact with rivers all that much.

In fact, the city where I live, Pittsburgh, is a great example. Three rivers intersect pretty much smack-dab in the middle of the city. While the rivers offer a peaceful view in a busy city, the rivers can really be rather annoying because of the traffic bottlenecks they create.

 By and large, river and lake real estate is vastly underutilized. They provide a pretty view, sure, but you’ll almost never see a Pittsburgher splashing about in the Ohio River.

That’s why the floating park designs in Budapest and the French city ofBoudreaux are so brilliant. Each of these cities has created a barge to act a sort of floating park, complete with a lounging area and swimming pool. These barges provide locals a way to interact with the rivers that are simultaneously so familiar and so alien.

Most people won’t go swimming in city rivers because they’re perceived as dirty and they can be somewhat difficult to access. You’ll rarely see people swimming across city rivers, but those same people will happily take a dip in a swimming pool that’s floating on the river. Maybe it’s just a hygiene issue, but the filtered pools on these barges seem to make all the difference for locals who want to go for a swim. 

One of the best features about these barges is that architects can create massive parks without acquiring enormous stretches of land. In cities where vacant real estate is precious, moving to the water is one of the wisest and cheapest options available.

 Hopefully, this barge idea will spread to other cities and we will see more mobile floating parks spring up in major metropolises.

January 23, 2012

Slideshow: Alvar Aalto Studio - Helsinki, Finland - Designed by Alvar Aalto

Again, it is the introduction of natural light which captures the essence of Aalto as one of the most respected architects of the 20th century. Visiting his studio gave some insight into his design process and showed small elements that he explored in some of his larger projects to such fanfare.

January 16, 2012

Slideshow: 10 Am Kupfergraben - Berlin, Germany - Designed by David Chipperfield

One of my favorite buildings in Berlin, this small gallery sits unassumingly across the river from Museum Island. It is beautifully proportioned and although contemporary, it fits wonderfully into its historic context. It will be great to see it hen Chipperfield's new museum opens directly across the river.

January 9, 2012

Slideshow: Alvar Aalto House - Helsinki, Finland - designed by Alvar Aalto

A fantastic, modest modern house. Simple materials, natural light and a nice connection between the interior and exterior make this house stand out as a superb example of Aalto's architecture.

January 2, 2012

Slideshow: Angkor Wat

One of the most amazing places I've visited, Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples are some of the best architectural relics in the world. The grandeur of these ancient buildings are a fitting way to usher in the new year.

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