Archive for November, 2014
Immediately adjacent to Renzo Piano’s California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, Mark Cavagnero Associates has completed a freestanding steel and glass café and event space. The careful detailed structure is compatible, not competing with the existing building.
The west wall of the is semi-transparent offering limited views out into the park, redirecting your attention back to the museum to imply one continuous space.
Two entire sides of the structure, formed by fully transparent bird safe glazing, open up completely for a direct connection between inside and outside.
San Francisco Chronicle architectural critic John King has called it the “newest jewel in Golden Gate Park”
“The cafe is a tiny, taut composition of frame-free glass and poised steel, a diminutive chaser to Renzo Piano’s machine-like academy a few yards away that opened in 2008. It’s a distillation of International Style modernism rather than a push in new architectural directions, but its very presence sets an example that other local cultural and event institutions would do well to follow.”
In keeping with many of the news reports out of Houston, changeable weather had delayed our planned Game Day launch into photographing the University of Houston’s TDECU Stadium.
The following day dawned clear and bright with a post storm freshness to the morning air. I hastened from the hotel to play my own games with the crisp, sculptural shapes of the stadium facades.
Inside the bowl, now devoid of the game day paraphernalia, the pared back geometry of the stands framed a direct view to the Houston skyline a few miles away.
Concerned our luck with the weather couldn’t last and nervous that the swelling ranks of power washers would create another wash-out inside the stadium, we kept cranking through until late afternoon before breaking for some long overdue lunch.
Scheduling a stadium shoot around a game day is always a risky business. Along with increased security and access issues, there’s the pop up concessions, the crowd control barriers and the endless potential for an entire mini city of inflatable bounce castles to mysteriously appear right in front of the hero shot.
And let’s not talk about the weather.
On a good day at the University of Houston, the new TDECU Stadium designed by Page Southerland Page accommodates an enthusiastic army of 40,000 ardent Cougars fans. They stream into the stands from every direction, turning the bowl into a throbbing red mass. Go Cooogs Go! Hail Houston!
According to the UH Athletics website, Hail Houston! is just a fun cheer that was popularized by the student section in the 1970’s. Hail Houston! Hail YES! Hail Cougars! HELL YES! Hail (opponent). HELL NO! (This is repeated ad nauseum).
Tradition aside, it seemed the popular sentiment on this weekend was more along the lines of Hail Cougars? Hell No! The decidedly ominous forecast (and perhaps the less-than-stellar performance of the team this season) caused many of the faithful to stay at home. Hardly a surprise though as the National Weather Service had upgraded the warning to include the possibility of tornados.
In a effort to avoid the worst of the storm, the start time for the game was brought forward a few hours, catching many would be spectators unawares.
Regardless of the tornado threat, the die hard fans tricked into the stands as the band pumped out an uplifting set.
Despite flash flooding and a hundred or so lightning strikes reported across Houston and much to the relief of the wary crowd, barely a drop of rain fell during the entire game.
Even as the skies darkened late in the second half, the crowd’s mood seemed to lighten. Raining only touchdowns, Houston 38 stormed to a hard won victory over Tulsa 28.
Hail Cougars indeed!
Yet another award for SOM’s Al Hamra Tower, named 2014 Commercial Project of the Year at the Middle East Architect Awards.
On the west side of Manhattan, the patterned facade of the Foster-designed Hearst Tower reflects the lower scale neighborhood.
Fast moving clouds pushed through during the day, further activating the dramatic graphics of the facade. The triangular cut outs that run up the corner of the building have earned the aptly descriptive nickname of “bird mouths”.
Growing up in Melbourne, I was always fascinated by the Shrine of Remembrance in the Domain Gardens. This sombre memorial to the fallen Australian soldiers in various conflicts around the globe was designed and built in 1927 with a special feature, one that I first learnt about as a kid.
To commemorate the end of the First World War, on the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the sun lines up through an aperture in the roof to deliver a direct beam of light onto the word LOVE, part of an inscription in the Sanctuary floor. I was and still am, moved by the simple beauty and power of this idea.
To this day, on this day, no matter where I am in the world, I always take a moment to pause and remember.