Archive for April, 2008

Opening Soon

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

The long awaited World Financial Centre by Kohn Pedersen Fox, known locally in Shanghai as the Bottle Opener, will be fully enclosed soon.

Until recently, everything being built in Shanghai was judged against the height of the neighbouring Jin Mao Building (SOM), now over a decade old. So it’s rather startling to see Jin Mao dwarfed in this manner. Up close and at the right angle, the two towers each hold their own. Longer views give a clearer understanding of just how massive the new tower is.

Super Chicken

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

At the end of each day’s shoot, there’s always an additional hour or two needed to edit and back up the files. As the days get longer, we’re getting back to the hotel later and later, meaning the dinner options are greatly reduced. Most times, the thought of heading out again in search of food is too much to bear, so it often falls back onto the dubious delights of the In-Room Dining menu.

Having resolved to stay away from the ubiquitous Club Sandwich whenever possible, the obvious choice seemed to be some local fare.

My main concern with the above working /dining arrangement was the potential to mistakenly reach for the mouse instead of the chicken. One hopes the hotel kitchen never encounters this problem.

Terminal Velocity

Monday, April 14th, 2008

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So what do you do when you get only one day to shoot the biggest building in the world?

You shoot fast.

Foster & Partners’ Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal 3.

Lost In Space

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

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When shooting Libeskind’s Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco earlier this week, the brief was to concentrate on the main event space, known as the yud. This huge volume has slanted diagonal walls and it’s quite a strange feeling trying to establish some sense of scale and proportion upon entering the space from the foyer immediately outside.

Once inside, without a reference point like a door or another person (heck, even a fire extinguisher would do), there’s little to inform you of what’s up and what’s down. Just your own tenuous connection to the floor below.

Beware then, the temptation to look straight up. You may never find your way back.

Gonna Make You A Starr

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

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From a distance, Tod Williams & Billie Tsien’s new C.V. Starr East Asian Library sits rather quietly, nestled against the wooded rise and across an expansive lawn from the imposing Doe Library, the epicentre of life at UC Berkeley.

The red tile roof which adds some contextural link to its surrounds, all but disappears as you get nearer to the facades. At the same time, the richness and complexity of the signature bronze screens becomes more apparent, catching the light at different angles during the day to variously suggest delicate golden threads, simple bamboo screens or intricate panels of gilded wood. The screens were cast in Hangzhou, China and shipped to California for installation.

Inside, the building is surprisingly tall, having dug itself into the hill somewhat. A central atrium provides stair access and brings a quiet light deep into the lower levels. Depending on one’s mood, it would be possible to find a desk in any number of environments throughout the building. There is a tangible sense of density in the materials that have been used. A solidity and strength that makes the light filled upper floors all the more enjoyable.

The longer you spend in the space the richer the experience becomes with smaller details adding layer upon layer interest. All in all, a great place to hang out and look at the walls. Oh, and I guess there’s some books to look at too.

 

Bridge Over Doubled Waters

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

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When playing with the idea of maximizing potential views from an apartment he had been commissioned to renovate, San Francisco (and sometimes Hawaii) based architect Craig Steely was in two minds. The bayside apartment offered views of both the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges but not at the same time…

Unless..

Using flat mirrors on the wall surface that defined the end of the apartment not only visually extended the balcony but expanded the view to include both bridge spans.

Spot Colour

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

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In downtown Oakland, a new mixed-use project by architects Leddy Maytum Stacy has just been completed. The eight story building integrates 79 affordable apartments, retail, social and community spaces.

New Broome Sweeps Clean

Monday, April 7th, 2008

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Out in Camarillo, nestled in the coastal hills between Malibu and Ventura, the CSU Channel Islands has a new centrepiece in the Foster designed Broome Library.

Opened in 2003 , the campus has been built into what was originally the Camarillo State Hospital, a psychiatric institution of somewhat dubious repute (and some say the inspiration for the songs Hotel California and Strawberry Fields)

Indeed, the campus is surrounded by strawberry fields and orange groves aplenty, bringing a sense of calm, rural freshness to the sprawling collection of red-tile roofed Spanish Mission style buildings.

The new building has been tailored to fit into a courtyard between three existing structures. The older buildings have been incorporated into the overall design, adding study areas, classrooms and administrative offices to the greater volume of the reading room.

Floating above the whole library is a wafer-thin parasol that acts to both shade the hard Californian sun and provide an understated bridge between new and old.  

 

Mr Blue Sky

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

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Into every art piece a little cloud must fall.

Or so it seemed last week at Pomona College, an hour east of Los Angeles.

It’s a fish!

No, it’s a..

Oh, never mind.

Renowned artist James Turrell has completed a skyspace in a courtyard between two science buildings.

Here, during the day, young students sit to ponder their futures, while in the evenings, older local residents gather to perhaps contemplate their pasts.

All is possible when under the Turrell spell.

Oh, Danny Boy..

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

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Making their debut in June, the forms of the Contemporary Jewish Museum by Studio Daniel Libeskind are the latest addition to the cultural depth and diversity of San Francisco. Following on the heels of the new De Young and the pre-empting its Golden Gate Park neighbour, the California Academy of Sciences, Libeskind’s extension literally bursts out of the brick shell of the 1907 Jessie Street Power Substation.

The crosshatched panels that comprise the of the new building are a brushed stainless steel that at certain times of the day, catches the light producing a blaze of electric blue.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum opens to the public on June 8th.