“…you can design everything.” ― Massimo Vignelli
If there were any concerns that New York City, the self-appointed capital of the world, was becoming complacent and erecting too many, cookie-cutter towers, two recent developments should end that. The first, which we discussed on the page for architecture, was the design plans for Hudson Yards, an area on Manhattan’s west side. The second, and no less noteworthy, is BIG / Bjarke Ingells’s VIA 57 West, a building which combines the Scandinavian practice of shared urban spaces with American bravado of pushing the limits on what a skyscraper can achieve. Residents enjoy enviable views and a lush garden in the middle of the epitome of the urban jungle.
The Guggenheim, already a world-renowned institution, was propelled in the stratosphere with the opening of its Frank Gehry-designed Bilbao institution.
The architect took his talent for sensuous and curved titanium materials and applied it in ways we had never seen. Along the way, it also put Bilbao, Spain on the map in the world of cultural institutions. And even though Gehry adapted his trademark look for Walt Disney’s Concert Hall in Los Angeles, nothing could approach the groundbreaking look of his Guggenheim original. Imagine then the skipped heartbeats that took place when the famed museum launched a search for someone to design its latest location–in Helsinki, Finland.
Gehry’s Spruce Street building in New York City.
Kudos belong to the winner Moreau Kusonoki Architects which managed the same feat Gehry did but only by going in a completely different direction–that of understated, minimal elegance. Taking local materials and the Scandinavian art of simple, minimalist lines, Kusonoki’s winning design becomes part of the Finnish landscape, blending harmoniously in her surroundings. I’m counting the days to its opening so I can visit and experience first-hand this achievement.