I recently checked in on the construction progress of the Guardian Art Center project in Beijing by Buro Ole Scheeren. From the outside, the project is nearly complete. The diagram of an elegant glass volume floating above a series of stone clad intersecting boxes reads quite nicely against its immediate context in Beijing, which includes a hodgepodge of functional modern, Chinese post-modern, and vernacular Hutong buildings. I was pleasantly impressed by the level of rigor and the quality of execution, most evidently demonstrated by the jointing of the stone facades on a rotated grid with squares and triangles. The glass curtain wall, which sheaths the Puxuan hotel and spa program behind, is also a nice texture inside out. Its running bond pattern, articulated with a handsome reveal mullion profile, vaguely refers to the brick walls of the hutong houses while cleverly hiding the all too apparent reading of a spandrel typical on curtain walls. As a result, the wall achieves a scaleless quality that is rather appealing and unique in this part of town. Combining a major art museum with an auction house as well as a boutique hotel, the building is poised to set a new example of mixed use projects both in terms of typology and design. For Ole, the now seminal CCTV headquarters building is a tough act to follow, and I think his office did a great job answering to that challenge and I look forward to the opening of the project later this year.
    The first phase of the ambitious Columbia Manhattanville Campus is yet another significant undertaking in the US by the prolific Renzo Piano Building Workshop. Completed two years after the new home for the Whitney, the two buildings in the first phase look rather like lost brothers of the museum building, in a good way. The boat-like window detailing, the appropriately articulated metal paneling, and the stunning double facade all together make both buildings seem much more delicate and refined than what they actually are. The Lenfest Center, with its dramatic cantilevers and suspended balconies, defy what might be considered contextual in this part of Manhattan. However, the slightly unbalanced form projects perhaps the perfect forward-looking and contemporary image for an institution with nearly 300 years of history. Inside, the gallery spaces prove RPBW's adeptness at creating perfect museum interiors. Open yet uncluttered ceilings, thoughtfully positioned window openings, and bold orange accents make for a neutral space for art while at the same time unassumingly declare a high level of tectonic resolution classic of Renzo Piano.   
 The Red Brick Art Museum is a hidden gem in the outskirts of Beijing. Located a few kilometers west of the Capital Airport, the museum is definitely off the beaten path. As sculptural and articulated as they are, its tall perimeter walls opposite of shanty shops across the street, do not immediately call to mind the presence of a sophisticated cultural institution. But once through the moon gate and inside the museum compound, it is clear that this is about pure celebration of masonry architecture and garden making. Shooting the various indoor and outdoor spaces of the museum, it's hard for me not to marvel at the architect Dong Yugan's ability to create richness and drama in seemingly minute and confined areas. It's as if every time a shot is composed inside the picture frame, three more are waiting to be discovered just outside of it. Evidently, many ideas of traditional Chinese gardens have inspired the various levels within a single floor and the tightening and releasing of spaces experienced in a sequence. But its singular use of masonry as the material throughout creates a cohesion and simplicity that is rather modern and bold. The museum draws a mixed crowd from all walks of life. With spaces so infinite and textures so stimulating, small children, teenagers, adults and senior citizens all seem to enjoy their own moments of hide and seek, romantic stroll, or zen like respite.
Wangjing SOHO
long museum west bund-4.jpg
Falling Water
Nezu Museum
Facade Study
View from Public Courtyard
Density (Re)mixed