Smithsonian Selects Adjaye for New Museum

British architect David Adjaye, in collaboration with The Freelon Group and David Brodie Bond Aedas, has been selected by the Smithsonian to design the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum, to be located on the National Mall near the Washington Monument, will be Adjaye’s second in the the United States. His first, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, opened to much acclaim last year. The team beat out shortlisted firms Moshe Safdie, Foster & Partners, Diller Scofido & Renfro, Pei Cobb Freed, and Moody Noland + Antoine Predock. See the shortlisted entries at BD. Continue reading for an interior rendering and project model.


Eliasson’s Fog Engulfs Vienna Building

[image by Rupert Steiner, via anArchitecture]

Olafur Eliasson’s Yellowfog debuts today in Vienna on the facade of its new home, Verbund’s Am Hof building. Yellowfog was originally installed at the Jewish Museum in New York way back in 1999, where it was meant to evoke the Icelandic artist’s homeland, but I prefer to think that the building is slowly—and beautifully—dissolving in some sort of fantastical toxic haze. No stranger to architectural collaboration and intervention, Eliasson has previously worked with architects such as David Adjaye and Snohetta.

&#183 Eliasson Artwork in Vienna [anArchitecture]
&#183 Eliasson Pavilions [Life Without Buildings]


David Adjaye’s Whitechapel Idea Store

As an unabashed fan of David Adjaye’s work, I was very much looking forward to visiting his Whitechapel Idea Store during my recent visit to London. My expectations were high, and I’m glad to say that the building most definitely did not disappoint.

The Idea Store – Adjaye’s work in general, really – show’s an incredible awareness of context. Although not as subtle as much of his work, the use of colored glass, drawn from vendor’s tents of the adjacent market, not only animates the exterior of the building, but also casts brilliant dynamic shadows on the interior.

The entrance to the building – or what should be the entrance to the building – projects out prominently over the sidewalk; further integrating the building within the neighborhood. An entry escalator slips between the sidewalk and the building – a liminal threshold from interior to exterior, that was closed, I was told, for “safety reasons.” No further explanations were offered.

Ample space is provided for the classrooms, studios, and workshops, but each programatic component isn’t necessarily relegated to a separate part of the building. Successfully integrating program elements in this manner seems like it will ensure that all floors are used, while prevent the manifestation of dead spaces.

Shelves and desks are integrated into the the building’s structural system and facade. Every component of the building seems to be supporting another. There is a definite sense of cohesion and coherence within the Whitechapel Idea Store that unfortunately, this seems to be lacking all to often in contemporary architecture.


Close Your Eyes and Think of England

London London London! Perhaps Oscar Wilde put it best: “I love London society! It is entirely composed now of beautiful idiots and brilliant lunatics. Just what Society should be!”I have to admit, after last week’s vacation, London’s dark and rainy days are tempting me from the fair skies of San Francisco. Guided by brilliant lunatics well-traveled through the forests of galleries and brick alleyways, I was led to the East, where crumbling buildings occasionaly part to reveal hidden contemporary gems. East! Where I spent my days peering through the windows of David Adjaye’s buildings and my nights peeping through the windows of Gilbert & George’s flat. When I was previously in London, I must admit that I never ventured too far from center of the city or the comfort of a well-established museum. So it was a true pleasure to see some different parts of the city, where beautiful decay, hidden galleries, and closed tube stations were follies in picturesque gardens of brick.The skyline bursting with cranes, London looks like a postwar city. I had no idea there was so much construction! The booming economy and approaching Olympics are changing the face of London and it seems like an incredible time to be working there.I think I’ll be digesting everything I saw (and drank) for quite some time. A couple more London posts are surely forthcoming, but for now, a 7-photo summary of my trip:


The Architecture of Olafur Eliasson

The design of this year’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion is a collaboration between artist Olafur Eliasson and Kjetil Thorsen of Scandinavian architecture firm Snohetta. After looking through the incredibly thorough documentation of the construction process at 0lll, I’m starting to get pretty excited about this thing. Open from August until November, this years pavilion will play host to artists, architects, academics and scientists as they lead a series of public experiments, culminating in “an extraordinary, two-part, 48-hour marathon laboratory event exploring the architecture of the senses.” Life Without Buildings loves exploring the architecture of the senses and will probably get a bit of head start on the pavilion…say, as soon as this post is finished.

photo via 0III

This is by no means Elasson’s first collaboration with an architect. In fact, as a sort-of spatial researcher, architecture is integral to his work. One of my favorite of his collaborations is the 2005 Thyssen-Bornemisza Limited Edition Art Pavilion in Venice, designed by David Adjaye.

david adjaye pavilion

david adjaye alafur eliason

The pavilion was specifically designed to present Eliasson’s piece, Your Black Horizon. The project, as described in David Adjaye: Making Public Buildings:

“In the windowless main space, a horizontal line at eye level serves as the primary light source. Located in a slot in the construction of each wall, the light slowly changes colour every 15 minutes and moves through the spectrum of the Venetian sky as filmed on a single day.”

Eliasson’s piece is complemented by near-total darkness, which has the well-designed side effect of concealing construction details, resulting in a space where one can only orient themselves in relation to the art work.

A view of the interior.

The elegant 3-material palette has been very carefully selected. Black bituminous fiber board cladding reflects the darkness of the interior, framing and sun screen are built from heat-treated timber and the interior is clad is OSB. It’s that simple. And it works.

Adjaye is a poet, there’s no other word for what he does. I think this is architecture at it’s finest. A clear concept, simple design, a thoughtful yet limited palette, and a startling sensitivity to both the site and the art.

All images taken from David Adjaye: Making Public Buildings