Taking Measures

April 13, 2005
WalkerArtCenter, MinneapolisNew Design Creates More of a
People Place
Saint Paul Pioneer PressLARRY MILLETT If you were asked to draw up list of words to describe the architecture of the original WalkerArtCenter, which opened in 1971 in Minneapolis, here are some that might occur to you: formal, solemn, rational, tasteful. One word that would never come to mind, however, is "fun." With its unyielding purple brick walls and blinding white interiors, the Walker, designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes, is a stark temple devoted to the religion of high modernism, done in such excruciatingly refined good taste that all the vital life seems drained out of it. Now, however, the Walker is ready to open a spectacular addition that can best be described as everything Barnes' tomblike building is not. Designed by the Swiss architectural firm of Herzog and de Meuron with Hammel, Green and Abrahamson of Minneapolis, the 130,000-square-foot addition set to open next Sunday is a hip, exuberant work that seems to be having way more fun than any local building in recent memory. Its formsare certainly eye-catching.The new wing attachesto the older portion of theWalker via a long, low,glassy lobby along Hennepin Avenue, then abruptly rises into a mesh-clad, irregular lump perforated with windows of varying sizes and shape. The lump already has inspired all manner of metaphor it has been likened to everything from an ice cube to a crumpled box and at first glance, it looks wildly irrational. In fact, it's so carefully conceived that the architects ran computer programs to make sure its embossed aluminum mesh panels were installed in an appropriately random manner. The panels, designed to reflect the changing light of day, make for an intriguing architectural skin, though on a gray and sunless day, they don't exactly provide a scintillating visual experience.  OPEN TO THE WORLD  One of the addition'sstrong points isthat it opens up to the worldaround it in a way theolder building never attempted.This is especiallycrucial because the Walkeroccupies what is perhapsthe finest building site inMinneapolis, poised betweendowntown and the chainof parks and lakes that arethe city's defining feature.Although the addition's unorthodox arrangement of windows appears to be an example of the we-did-it-because-we-could school of thought so prevalent in architecture today, they are, in fact, carefully placed to take advantage of the many extraordinary views the site offers. Themost spectacular windowforms the corner of a barand restaurant cantileveredover the Hennepin Avenueentrance. From this window,you can see the downtownskyline, LoringPark andthree of the city's largestchurches (the Basilicaof St. Mary, the CathedralChurch of St. Mark and HennepinAvenue United Methodist).A varietyof terraces and balconiesalso provides an opportunityto step outside duringthose occasional periodswhen it is safe to doso in Minnesota. Another of the addition's great virtues is that the architects have managed to design a museum that welcomes both people and art yet doesn't try to overwhelm either by its own noisy brilliance.  The classic case ofarchitecture upstaging artis Frank Lloyd Wright'sGuggenheimMuseum in NewYork City, where the famousspiral tends to outshinewhatever tries to competewith it on the walls. Similarcriticism has been leviedat another celebratedGuggenheim in Bilbao, Spaindesigned by Frank Gehry.The Walkeraddition, however, allowsthe art to speak for itself.There are three newgalleries (plus a fourthinserted into the older building),and all are straightforwardwhite-walled boxes,blessedly free of architecturaldistraction. Around thesegalleries, the new buildingopens up into a series oflobbies, lounges, hallwaysand alcoves that are theantithesis of the oldermuseum's rigorous formality.Whereas the old Walkerwas designed so visitors wouldexperience it in a highlypredetermined way, theaddition is made for casualexploring. Moreover, almostall of the circulatingspaces offer views to theoutside that will helporient visitors as they maketheir way through the building.Amongthe most interesting elementsof the addition isa 385-seat theater designedin the horseshoe shapeof classic concert halls andadorned with metal panelsembossed with a Baroque-eraornamental pattern. Thesame pattern appears elsewherein the new structure,and it's startling tosee because ornament of anykind was considered rankheresy by the high modernistswhose ideals are enshrinedin the Walker's 1971building. NOTHING'S PERFECT  The addition, for allof its brio, isn't perfect.The lobby off Hennepinfeels rather low and oppressive,in part because itswindows are obscured atthe top in such a way thatonly short people will beable to enjoy the view outtoward LoringPark. Thearchitects are also way toofond of the tilted, angledwalls that are much infashion these days. From a practicalstandpoint, it will alsobe interesting to see if thebuilding's mesh panelscan handle Minnesota's notoriouslyawful weather withoutturning into a maintenancenightmare. There is the nagging matter of cost as well. At $70 million, the addition has come in $6 million over budget (the total project cost including land acquisition, financing and a city-built parking ramp, among other things stands at about $130 million). The cost overrunhas forced the Walkerto leave office space unfinishedin the new building.It will be next year atthe earliest before theWalker's much-loved sculpturegarden can be expanded(a project that entails thecontroversial demolitionof the old Guthrie Theater).Still,it's hard not to like theaddition, which not onlydoubles the size of the Walkerbut also promises tomake the museum much moreof a people place, for lackof a better term, than itis now. Predictions are hazardous, but the addition may well come to be seen as the first great 21st-century building in the Twin Cities, not just because of its novel appearance but also because it performs its public duties so well and with the kind of wit and spirit that renews your faith in the possibilities of architecture. Art Museum of WesternVirginiaLove the Design; Hate the LocationRoanoke Times & World NewsJames G. Cosby April 10, 2005 I am impressed with the bold vision expressed in the design of the proposed Art Museum of WesternVirginia. While my architectural preference runs to classical Greco-Roman or Jeffersonian designs, I admire the open outreach of the Randall Stout design, and will leave it to others to argue its beauty and functionality. I do ask the museum board, Roanoke officials and the art community to consider carefully the proposed location. Roanoke is fortunate to have at least three architectural gems lying in close proximity: the City Market itself, Hotel Roanoke and St. Andrew's Church. Many would add the old Norfolk and Western general office buildings and the LinkMuseum to the list. From Williamson Road, Interstate 581 and the market area, you can see these gems from many downtown locations. The art museum would limit that. Gone will be much of the view across the Norfolk Southern tracks of these Roanoke icons. Gone, too, wouldbe the view of the H &C Coffee and Dr. Pepper signs that welcome visitorsto Roanoke. I put the Roanoke CityMarket on this list not becauseof the significanceof any one building, butbecause of their collectivebeauty. The city hasdone well to retain andenhance the beauty and significance of the marketarea by preserving the turnof the last centurybuildings, which are theessence of Roanoke's commercialbirthplace. From Salem Avenueand the MarketBuildingdown
Market Street
to No.1 Fire Station, from
Jefferson Street
Williamson Road
, is Roanoke's "downtownvillage." Most ofthe buildings are of similardesign and age. Theambiance keeps people comingand the market area alive. Mostcities would be delightedto have such charm. Imposea large nonconformingstructure upon that areaand you lose one of the things that is best aboutRoanoke. Italso would consume a parkinglot for the market areathat doubles as a venuefor outdoor festivalsat Wachovia Square, suchas the St. Patrick's Daycelebration and Octoberfest,and triples in itsservice by keeping the viewof Hotel Roanoke intact.Roanoke hashad a number of architecturalsuccesses in recentyears. Who can imaginea solid waste transfer stationin an industrialarea built with such architecturalcare and sensitivityto its surroundings?Drive throughoutthe historic districtin Old Southwest and absorb the flavor and beautyof Old Roanoke carefullypreserved amidst buildingsof a later vintage.The JeffersonCenter, Campbell Court bus terminaland GrandinRoadVillageare other successes. Now I wish tooffer an alternative. Simplymove the proposed art museum across Williamson Road to one of the lots between
Williamson Road
,the Norfolk Southern tracksand
Elm Avenue
. The onlystructures there arethe Firestone Tire store (whichcould be relocatedat a reasonable cost) andthe
Williamson Road
parkinggarage (which couldbe used to provide parkingfor the museum). There would be plenty of parking, and the museum would extend the market's success to the NS tracks. Please reconsider the location of the new museum and move it to a more agreeable site. That would be provide a win-win result. Cosbyis an attorney for afederal agency in Roanoke. (C) 2005 Roanoke Times & World News. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved ChiswickParkPerfect Answer to the Office MoanersEvening Standard - LondonDAVID SPITTLES April 11, 2005 WITH a brand called enjoy- work. com, Marxists will no doubt condemn it as a sinister capitalist ploy to raise productivity. But ChiswickPark, a gleaming 30-acre office community built on the site of a former bus depot, claims to be leading the way in "lifestyle support" to people working in the new economy. More than 3,000 people are employed at this evolving business village, designed by Richard Rogers Partnership. Television channel Discovery is the latest arrival, joining among others Regus, CBS Europe, Foxtons, France Telecom, Intelsat and Walt Disney Company. The showpiece architecture comprises a collection of glass buildings around a central lake. Within the grounds are kiosk shops, cafes and restaurants, a health club, open-air meeting places, performance and concert areas, boardwalks and jogging trails, even hideaways where you can sit down with a laptop. Six of the planned 12 buildings are complete, and developer Stanhope has just unveiled two new speculative buildings, one totaling 34,000 sq ft and aimed at a large corporate occupier, the  other offering smaller bespoke units of 2,000 sq ft upwards. The latter building incorporates a retail "street", likely to have a grocery store, bar and brasserie, post office and snack cafe. Rents of Pounds 32 per sq ft are being quoted. Fans of The Prisoner, the cult television series from the 1960s, will appreciate the rather sanitized environment.  Tenant- occupiers are called "guests". Each morning, employees can log on to a bespoke intranet that puts them in direct contact with shops and services, enabling them to order deliveries and make bookings for whatever they need - groceries, dry cleaning, theatre tickets, video rentals, restaurant reservations, taxis, flowers, even a takeaway lunch. Also available are evening classes in language and photography, bike hire, car valeting and therapeutic in-office massages.  INSTEAD of a conventional estate office, there is a "Thoughtful Centre" that acts as manservant and handles the concierge collections and deliveries. Feedback from guests suggests the owners have got it right in promoting a healthy work-life balance - even if this has been achieved by bringing people's life to the workplace. Nine out of 10 employees believe the approach has made a "positive difference". "People have changed character overnight - those who used to moan all the time have just stopped," says an employee of MicroStrategy, one of the guests.  ChiswickParkis seen as a model for futureoffice development. The bottom line is that people who enjoy working, perform better, and the better they perform the more successful the company they work for becomes. (C) 2005 Evening Standard - London. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved AsianArt Museum of San FranciscoAuerbach Glasow Helps Old Meet NewLighting DimensionsApril 11, 2005 San Francisco-based Auerbach Glasow, architectural lighting design and consulting, worked closely with the design team of acclaimed Italian architect Gae Aulenti and the prominent firm of Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum on the renovation of the AsianArt Museum of San Francisco. The museum is in the former San Francisco Public Library and houses the largest collection (15,000 pieces) of Asian art outside of Asia. Auerbach Glasow designed the architectural lighting for the public spaces, galleries, and the exterior of the museum. The project retains the historic architectural lighting elements of the 1917 structure, and Auerbach Glasow designed the restoration and refurbishment of the original historic fixtures. The architectural lighting adds drama to the public spaces accenting the vaulted ceilings, moldings, inscriptions, and stone floors original to the building. In the Main Entry, lighting highlights the ornate details of the foyer including its original light fixtures, plaster ceiling, and travertine walls. Auerbach Glasow restored existing original historic pendants that use compact fluorescent sources. The company replaced existing incandescent electrical components, slumped amber glass panels, and the historic torchieres? existing electrical components with new compact fluorescent sources and white frosted glass. Recessed adjustable low-voltage MR16 framing projectors draw attention to the entry’s original architecture and illuminate the donors? inscription wall. On the main stair, Auerbach Glasow installed asymmetric quartz incandescent uplights, metal halide theatrical fixtures, and dimmable fluorescent striplights above the laylights. The lighting designers also integrated low-voltage adjustable accent lights to punctuate the glass art display cases in the loggia perimeter.  Samsung Hall, formerly the two-story card catalog room of the building’s Main Library, has been transformed into a special events and performance space. Auerbach Glasow provided the design for restoration and refurbishment of the Hall’s original three-tiered chandelier and fitted the piece with new electrical components including special clear carbon filament lamps. Asymmetric quartz incandescent uplights produce soft, warm ambient lighting and highlight the room’s grand arched windows and coffered ceiling. Two separate downlighting systems have been integrated into the historic ceiling: a dimmable incandescent system whose primary use is for parties and events and a switched metal halide system for clean up and lectures. Thenewly created grandCentral Court marks the mostsignificant architecturaldifference in the new AsianArt Museum and the formerSan Francisco Librarybuilding. The
Central Court
is modern and airy withtwo large skylights, accentuatingthe grandeur of theoriginal structure. Daylightfills the space andbrings it to life creatinga dramatic public gatheringspace for art exhibitsand special events. Skylightuplights illuminate thebuilding above the
Central Court
skylights and emphasizethe vertical heightof the space. Custom fabricatedrectangular multiple-headadjustable PAR38 lampsare a key lighting featureof this area used forgeneral lighting and art accentlighting. Custom fabricatedsquare and rectangularframe multiple-head adjustablelow-voltage MR16lamps were used for downlightand art accent light.This signature light fixture,based upon an originaldesign by Aulenti and Castiglioni,is integrated withinarchitectural notchesin the floating ceilingpanels. Inthe exterior, Auerbach Glasowrefurbished existing originalhistoric light standardsincluding electricalwiring, a new metal halidesource, and a glass refractorglobe. Pole mountedmetal halide area lightsilluminate the plaza, supplementthe historic lightstandards and visually reinforcethe main entrance gatheringarea. The base ofthe building is floodlitwith surface mounted asymmetriccompact fluorescentwallwashers. Metal halidePAR20, metal halide PAR30,and metal halide PAR38 accentlights, and metal halidePAR30 downlights illuminatevarious parts of thefaçade. The top crown articulationis backlit withlinear fluorescent fixtures.Metal halide PAR30 uplightsbacklight the Larkin Street façade second-level colonnade creating a silhouette effect for passers-by.

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