While we tried to keep our usual architouring to a minimum to avoid totally ruining our friends holiday we did manage to sneak in a few select gems on our trip.
In New York firstly I was a little disappointed with the new MoMA – I felt it lacked coherence and any clear rationale. There were some interesting spaces, particularly the main sculpture hall (above) – animated by people circulating through the gallery but the exhibition rooms themselves were fairly bland (ok maybe it should be about the art).
PS 1 in Queens (above) was a much more interesting space – situated in an old Primary School the only real architectural intervention is the wall at the front creating a serene courtyard, the interiors still feel like the kids only left yesterday (although the standard of their finger painting was pretty high). At times it was eerily like Toul Sleng in Pnom Penh – quiet neglected corridors filled with evocative imagery.
On our final day in New York Chhay & I snuck off for some more focused architectural voyeurism. We started with the new New Museum by SANAA (above) which was only days away from completion and looking fantastic – an ethereal series of stacked boxes, at once gritty and urban in the Bowery context yet at the same time light and delicate. The cladding of galvanised mesh over fibre cement was so utilitarian yet diaphanous – a true delight. It was a pity we missed the opening as would like to experience the interior of one of their buildings.
We followed that with a visit to a tired looking yet still successful Storefront for Art & Architecture (above). They had an exhibition of new Danish work including a lot of work by BIG, a firm that should we ever end up in Denmark I would love to work for – I really enjoy their playful yet well researched approach. Staying in the same area we had a rather damp look at some of the new ‘starchitect’ apartment blocks in SoHo – Nouvel’s 40 Mercer (below) & Herzog & DeMeuron’s 40 Bond, all very glam but fairly restrained overall, apart from the lower level cladding of H & DeM’s baby.
With the weather getting steadily worse we abandoned any attempt to see more buildings and legged it to diller + scorfidio’s The Brasserie (below) where we seriously lowered the tone – especially once we realised that cocktails were half price!
Once in San Francsico we were in capable hands with our hosts interest in architecture.
As I mentioned previously the Federal Building by Thom Mayne (below + top) was our first stop. Although it is quite brutally inserted into its 3-4 storey context the level of detailing and polish is amazing. There may be a little too much going on for some tastes but it was one of the best high rise office buildings I have encountered. Unfortunately it was a Sunday so we couldn’t get inside (I’m not sure we would have been allowed in even if it was open).
The other major contemporary San Franciscan building is of course the new DeYoung Museum by our old friends Herzog & DeMeuron (below). It occupies a slightly surreal setting in the Golden Gate Park next to the Academy of Sciences sporting some new Martian looking green roofed domes – part of a Renzo Piano renovation.
The detailing by the swiss is fantastic throughout although the entrance to the museum is very understated. The perforated copper cladding refracts the light in different ways depending on the varying apertures of the perforation, and the screened twisting tower sneaks in between mature trees providing great views of the park. Once inside light is brought in through glazed gardens with minimalist eucalyptus softening the light.
On our final night we managed to tick another Phaidon Atlas building off our list somewhat unintentionally. James took us to an art gallery opening which happened to be in a fantastic apartment in the Yerba Buena Lofts complex by Saitowitz Natoma. Although we only saw it at night it is a magnificent sleek concrete box with projections and recesses forming balconies and creating varied double height spaces in the apartments – it gave me plenty of food for thought for shaking up multi-res design here is Scotland – so much of it poky and unimaginative.
More archi porn on our flickr if u want a peek – NY SF.