Cyril Marsollier + Wallo Villacorta, “The buildings are sleeping, you should go and wake them up, she says.” First Place in the Chicago Prize Competition: Future Prentice, 2012
This renovation project, on the other hand, contains that potential for reinvigorating a masterpiece by Bertrand Goldberg, albeit with some wear, with a new solution that is both economically feasible and architecturally provocative. The references to Goldberg’s own Marina City as well as Minoru Yamasaki’s Rainier Tower in Seattle are palpable, and perhaps not without warrant considering the dramatic striation or tiering of the scheme.
This past summer, Chelsea FC made an offer to buy the Battersea Power Station of Pink Floyd fame, but a Malaysian developer outmanoeuvred them with a 400 Million Pound bid for the property. The developers subsequently hired Rafael Viñoly Architects and they came up with this rather unimaginative developer-driven scheme. I can’t help comparing the project with that of City Hall East in Atlanta, where a massive, industrial, brick, towering, mid-century quasi-modern structure was purchased from the government and then developed without the sort of fantastic quality derserving of the place. The fusion of old and new can yield some of the best designs I can imagine, and it certainly is shameful to me to see these situations eclipsed by capitalist adjendas, especially when they are done by companies from the other side of the world with no vested interest in the problem of the city other than the bottom line.
“The second largest man-made hole in the world (surpassed only by the Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah) is a diamond mine located on the outskirts of Mirny, a small town in eastern Siberia. Excavation on the pit began in 1955, and today it is 1,722 feet (525 meters) deep, and 3,900 feet (1.25 kilometers) across. Stalin ordered construction of the mine to satisfy the Soviet Union’s need for industrial-grade diamonds following the war. The harsh, frozen Siberian landscape made working on the mine a difficult proposition at best. Jet engines were turned on the unyielding permafrost in order to melt it; when that failed, explosives were used. During its peak years of operation, the Mirny mine produced over 10 million carats of diamonds annually, a good percentage of which were gem-quality. Although open pit mining has ceased in the pit, mining work is continuing by underground methods. The massive 20-foot (6 meter) tall rock-hauling trucks that service the Mirny mine travel along a road that spirals down from the lip of the hole to its basin. Airspace above the mine is off-limits to helicopters, after a few accidents when they were ‘sucked in’ by downward air flow…”
“A squadron of gilded frogs worships a geodesic globe in the courtyard of a specialty shopping center in midtown Atlanta. With architecture designed by Miami–based Arquitectonica International, Inc., Rio Shopping Center boldly asserts itself among the chaos of a cluttered intersection in an area ripe for revitalization. The globe serves as a beacon for the retail center whose first level of shops opens onto a courtyard ten feet below the street. Overlapping squares of lawn, paving, stones, and architecture form the basis of the design. The squares are layered with other geometric pieces — lines, circles, spheres, cubes. These elements meet in a mysterious black pool which is striated by lines of fiber optics that glow at night. A floating path, reflected above by an architectural bridge, connects one side of the shopping area to the other. The frogs are set in a grid at the base of the 40 foot high globe which is located on a slope connecting the road to the courtyard. Alternating stripes of riprap and grass cover the slope. The grid of frogs continues down the slope and through the pool, all facing the giant sphere as if paying homage. The globe, which also provides support for vines, houses a mist fountain. A square plaza beyond this focal point forms a meeting place which includes a circular bar, a bamboo grove that punctures the roof, and a video installation by artist Darra Birnbaum.”