Monday, June 29, 2009

Simmons Hall (MIT), Cambridge, US

Simmons Hall, located at 229 Vassar Street, was completed in 2002 at the cost of $78.5 million.

It is 382 feet long and 10 stories tall, housing 350 undergraduates, faculty housemasters, visiting scholars, and graduate assistants. The structure is concrete block perforated with approximately 5,500 square windows each measuring two feet (0.60 meters) on a side, and additional larger and irregularly-shaped windows. An 18" (0.46 meters) wall depth is designed to provide shade in summer while allowing the winter sun to help heat the building, without air conditioning. Unfortunately, the efficacy of such a design is yet to be proven and temperature problems plague parts of the building throughout the year. The students complain that the very small metal window frames and screens create a faraday cage which make it difficult to receive wireless telephone signals. An average single room has nine windows, each with its own small curtain.

The building has been nicknamed the "sponge", but opinions on the aesthetics of the building remain strongly divided. On one hand, Simmons Hall won the 2003 American Institute of Architects Honor Award for Architecture, and the 2004 Harleston Parker Medal, administered by the Boston Society of Architects and awarded to the "most beautiful piece of architecture building, monument or structure" in the Boston area. On the other hand, the building has been criticized as being ugly, a sentiment echoed in James Kunstler's "Eyesore of the Month" catalog.

Architect : Steven Holl

IAC Headquarters, New York, US

The building featured is located in the Chelsea neighbourhood of New York City. Completed in 2007 it houses the offices of IAC corporation. It appears at a gross level to consist of two major levels: A large base of twisted tower-sections packed together like the cells of a bee hive, with a second bundle of lesser diameter sitting on top of the first. The cell units have the appearance of sails skinned over the skeleton of the building. The overall impression is of two very tall stories, which belies its actual 10-storey structure.

Vanity Fair, writing about IAC corporation, argued that this is perhaps the world's most attractive offices.

Architect : Frank O. Gehry

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tzameret Towers, Tel Aviv, Israel

The Tzameret Towers, also known as Akirov Towers, are three 34-story skyscrapers in Tel Aviv, Israel. The first two were completed in 2003, with the third one completed in 2006. Tower 3 was originally planned to be a 140-meter tower containing 140 apartments, although this was scaled down and it was finished to a height almost identical to that of the other towers. The final design contained 120 apartments. This tower topped out in August 2004. The top three floors of Tower 2 contain one of Israel's most expensive apartments, purchased for $10 million, a record-breaking purchase at the time. The total complex contains 360 apartments.

Architect : Moore Yaski Sivan Architects

Oslo Opera House, Oslo, Norway

The Oslo Opera House is the seat of The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, and the national opera theatre in Norway. The building lies in Bjørvika, in the center of Oslo, at the head of the Oslofjord.

The structure provides a total area of 38,500 m² and includes 1,100 rooms, one of which has 1,350 seats and another has up to 400 seats.

The Opera House was finished in 2007 with the opening event held on 12 April 2008. The Opera won the culture award at the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona in October 2008.

Architect : Snøhetta

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Space Needle, Washington, US

The Space Needle is a tower in Seattle, Washington, and is a major landmark of the Pacific Northwest region of the United States and a symbol of Seattle. Located at the Seattle Center, it was built for the 1962 World's Fair, during which time nearly 20,000 people a day used the elevators, with over 2.3 million visitors in all for the World Fair. The Space Needle is 605 feet (184 m) high at its highest point and 138 feet (42 m) wide at its widest point and weighs 9,550 tons. It is built to withstand winds of up to 200 mph (320 km/h) and earthquakes up to 9.5 magnitude. The tower has 25 lightning rods on its roof to prevent lightning damage.

The Space Needle features an observation deck at 520 feet (160 m), and a gift shop with the rotating SkyCity restaurant at 500 feet (152 m). The Space Needle was designated a historic landmark on April 19, 1999 by the City's Landmarks Preservation Board.

The architecture of the Space Needle is the result of a compromise between designs. The two leading ideas for the World Fair involved businessman Edward Carlson's sketch of a giant balloon tethered to the ground (see the gently sloping base) and architect John Graham's concept of a flying saucer (see the halo that houses the restaurant and observation deck).

Architect : John Graham

Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexendria, Egypt

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Latin for "Library of Alexandria") is a major library and cultural center located on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea in the Egyptian city of Alexandria. It is both a commemoration of the Library of Alexandria that was lost in antiquity and an attempt to rekindle something of the brilliance that this earlier center of study and erudition represented.

The dimensions of the project are vast: the library has shelf space for eight million books, with the main reading room covering 70,000 m² on eleven cascading levels. The complex also houses a conference center; specialized libraries for the blind, for young people, and for children; three museums; four art galleries; a planetarium; and a manuscript restoration laboratory.The main reading room stands beneath a 32-meter-high glass-panelled roof, tilted out toward the sea like a sundial, and measuring some 160 m in diameter. The walls are of gray Aswan granite, carved with characters from 120 different human scripts.

Architect : Snøhetta

Monday, June 22, 2009

St. Mary's Cathedral, Tokyo, Japan

St. Mary's Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Tokyo. It is located in the Sekiguchi neighborhood of Bunkyo, Tokyo, Japan.

The plan of the building is in the form of a cross, from which the walls, eight hyperbolic parabolas, rise up at an angle. These open upwards to form a cross of light which continues vertically the length of the four facades. To this rhomboid volume other secondary constructions are added, their rectangular volumes contrasting with the symbolic character of the cathedral with which they communicate by way of pathways and platforms. The baptistry and the baptismal font are among these secondary buildings. The bell tower is 60 m in height and stands at a little distance from the cathedral proper, whose interior is finished in exposed concrete. The exterior surfaces are clad in stainless steel, which gives them a special radiance in keeping with the religious character of the building.

Architect : Tange Kenzo

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower, Tokyo, Japan

Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower is a 204-metre (669 ft), 50-story educational facility located in the Nishi-Shinjuku district in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan. Completed in October 2008, the tower is the second-tallest educational building in the world and is the 17th-tallest building in Tokyo. It was awarded the 2008 Skyscraper of the Year by

The building's cocoon shape symbolizes a building that nurtures the students inside. White aluminum and dark blue glass exterior form the structure's curved shell, which is criss-crossed by a web of white diagonal lines earning it the name "Cocoon Tower".

Architect : Tange Associates

BMW Welt, Munich, Germany

BMW Welt, is a multi-functional customer experience and exhibition facility of the BMW Group, located in Munich, Germany. In direct proximity to the BMW Headquarters, it is designed to: present the current products of BMW; be a distribution center for BMW cars; and offer an event forum and a conference center.

The facility was constructed from August 2003 through Summer 2007. Designed with an 800 KWatt solar plant on its roof, "the building does not have the boredom of a hall, it is not only a temple, but also a market place and a communication center and meeting place for knowledge transfer", said architect Prix at the opening ceremony.

Architect : Coop Himmelb(l)au

Friday, June 19, 2009

United States Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel, Colorado, US

The United States Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel, completed in 1962, is the distinguishing feature of the Cadet Area at the United States Air Force Academy. Originally controversial in its design, the Cadet Chapel has become a classic and highly regarded example of modernist architecture. The Cadet Chapel was awarded the American Institute of Architects' National 25 Year Award in 1996, and as part of the Cadet Area, was named a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 2004.

The most striking aspect of the Chapel is its row of seventeen spires. The original design called for nineteen spires, but this number was reduced due to budget issues. The structure is a tubular steel frame of 100 identical tetrahedrons, each 75 feet (23 m) long, weighing five tons, and enclosed with clear aluminum panels. The panels were fabricated in Missouri and shipped by rail to the site. The tetrahedrons are spaced a foot apart, creating gaps in the framework that are filled with one-inch thick colored glass. The tetrahedrons comprising the spires are filled by triangular clear aluminum panels, while the tetrahedrons between the spires are filled with a mosaic of colored glass in aluminum frame.

The Cadet Chapel itself is 150 feet (46 m) high, 280 feet (85 m) long, and 84 feet (26 m) wide. The front façade, on the south, has a wide granite stairway with steel railings capped by aluminum handrails leading up one story to a landing. At the landing is a band of gold anodized aluminum doors, and gold anodized aluminum sheets apparently covering original windows.

The shell of the chapel and surrounding grounds cost $3.5 million to build. Various furnishings, pipe organs, liturgical fittings and adornments of the chapel were presented as gifts from various individuals and organizations. In 1959, a designated Easter offering was also taken at Air Force bases around the world to help complete the interior.

Architect : Walter Netsch (Skidmore, Owings and Merrill)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Jinbocho Theater, Tokyo, Japan

Jinbocho theatre is located in City of Tokyo, Japan. The project comprises a 100 seat Movie Theater, 126 seat Variety Theater, communal space for each facility, and 300 meter square of Entertainment School and Lesson Rooms.

It was one of the shortlisted projects in the World Architecture Festival 2008.

Architecture : Nikken Sekkei Ltd

Grande Arche, Paris, France

The La Grande Arche de la Défense is a monument and building in the business district of La Défense to the west of Paris, France. It is usually known as the Arche de la Défense or simply as La Grande Arche.

The construction of the monument, which was undertaken, began in 1982 and was completed in 1989.The Arche is almost a perfect cube (width: 108m, height: 110m, depth: 112m); it has been suggested that the structure looks like a four-dimensional hypercube (a tesseract) projected onto the three-dimensional world. It has a prestressed concrete frame covered with glass and Carrara marble from Italy.

The Arche is turned at an angle of 6.33° on this axis however, a peculiarity which has been explained by several theories. In particular, the architect is said to have wanted to emphasise the depth of the monument, while the specific angle was chosen to create symmetry with the similarly-skewed Louvre at the other end of the Axe. However, it seems the most important reason was mundanely technical: with a métro station, an RER station, and a motorway all situated directly underneath the Arche, the angle was the only way to accommodate the structure's giant foundations.

Architect : Johann Otto von Spreckelsen