Oculus - Summer 2011 - (Page 47)

LETTER FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR last words Nature and Nurture Bell by the lily pond at the North Carolina Museum of Art “No one remembers my blueprints / & my plans / my steady hammering, / my dreams of fantastic escapes.” —from the poem “The Prisoner” by Erica Jong “Say nice things about me / ’Cause I’m gone south / Carry on without me / ’Cause I’m gone.” —from the song “Carolina in My Mind” by James Taylor “The silver-haired seed of the milkweed / comes to roost there, frail as the halo / rayed round a candle flame.” —from the poem “Polly’s Tree” by Sylvia Plath he siting of Thomas Phifer and Partners’ North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) on Blue Ridge Road instead of in downtown Raleigh – more than five miles away – was controversial. So says Carroll Leggett, chief of staff to former U.S. Senator Robert Burren Morgan, both North Carolina arts activists. NCMA is reportedly the first major art museum in the country to be formed by an act of a state legislature and entirely funded by state monies. Surrounded by gardens and pools, the one-story, light-filled building is well integrated into a 164-acre park that has become an important cultural site. The project has been compared to Kahn’s Kimbell Art Museum in Texas, itself serving a statewide and international audience, not just that of Fort Worth. NCMA’s South Carolina-born architect said that Southerners “have a very, very deep sense of pride in and attachment to the land. They’re usually very aware of landscape, of light, of how light relates to landscape. The NCMA is one of the very few museums in the United States attached to an expansive, almost rural-feeling landscape.” The museum belongs to everyone, or, as Phifer says, it is “the foyer to nature, not the foil to it.” Although not one of the official AIA New York Design Awards jurors, 1993 AIA Gold Medalist Thomas Jefferson wrote: “How is a taste in this beautiful art to be formed in our countrymen, unless we avail ourselves of every occasion when public buildings are to be erected, of presenting to them models for their study and imitation?” He continued: “You see, I am an enthusiast on the subject of the arts. But it is an enthusiasm of which I am not ashamed, as its object is to improve the taste of my countrymen, to increase their reputation, to reconcile them to the rest of the world, and procure them its praise.” Jefferson criticized cities and spoke of the redeeming beauty of the landscape: “No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.” If NCMA is Jeffersonian and bucolic, the Hypar Pavilion at Lincoln Center, by Diller Sco- Monica Lourdy T fidio + Renfro in collaboration with FXFOWLE, is architecturally Hamiltonian and urban. A tilted grass lawn above a restaurant named for Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, it is a collector of concertgoers and passersby. Equally urbane is the David Rubenstein Atrium by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects. This public gathering place is the gateway to the cultural center, an interior concourse of calm and coffee and conversation, lit by a series of tubular oculi that add volume and light to the through-block passage. Both projects – the restaurant and the atrium – are squeezed into tight leftover sites and wonderfully explode Lincoln Center’s sightlines and trajectories. In Chambers for a Memory Palace, Charles Moore, FAIA, the 1991 AIA Gold Medal Winner, wrote about such interior spaces: “Yet another way to make a room fascinating, which is my favorite, is to alter the borders, to blow out some of the walls, ceilings, or the floor, or – and especially – the corners, to give us the chance to make the space inside escape, around the corners and out of sight, or down into the dark, or most expansively up into the light.” He describes “a hole opened out the top for light and to make the sizable space come alive” and notes that architectural space is not like that of “national expansionists.” Was he criticizing Jefferson? In the New York Times, culture reporter Robin Pogrebin questioned the Kentucky bluegrass lawn at Lincoln Center; yet a green roof there has more than symbolic importance. That nature matters in architectural design, as do light, movement, experimentation and playfulness, we learn from projects from Monticello to the Piazza d’Italia. Can we nurture both the interactive integration of open space with built form, as well as the civic density of cultural concentration? Jefferson wrote: “I should prefer the celebrated fronts of Modern buildings which have already received the approbation of all good judges.” Was he dissing Moore? Rick Bell, FAIA Executive Director, AIA New York Chapter 2011 AIANY Design Awards Summer 2011 Oculus 47

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Summer 2011

Oculus - Summer 2011
First Words
Center for Architecture
Urban Design
Unbuilt Work
Last Words
Index to Advertisers

Oculus - Summer 2011