Friday, December 17, 2010

Niemeyer Preview in Avilés

The Niemeyer Cultural Center speeds towards completion in the northern port city of Avilés, in Asturias. To celebrate Niemeyer's 103rd birthday last Wednesday (December 15th), the Center inaugurated its dome, made of concrete sprayed over an inflated membrane of PVC. The dome will house exhibition spaces. Other elements include an auditorium, a multi-use building with a cinema, classrooms and meeting rooms, a lookout tower and a large plaza. The project is the centerpiece of an urban revitalization effort. Niemeyer donated the design to the city in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Prince of Asturias Prizes, which honored him with its Arts Prize in 1989.

For Roberto Alonso, one of the architects overseeing construction, the work stands out for its tranquility and silence, as he told a local newspaper (in Spanish). For others, Niemeyer brings the sensual pleasures of Copacabana to this tired industrial center. In its startling abstraction, I see the shorthand of the aged master, like Merce Cunningham before arthritis forced him to retire completely from the stage, who with a raised arm and a flick of his wrist could sketch a life's worth of experience in movement. Next to him, younger dancers were simply jumping around.

Niemeyer Center web page

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Juárez and Meneses in Design Vanguard

In Architectural Record's Design Vanguard issue this December I write about Patricia Meneses and Iván Juárez, two architects from Mexico who began their careers together in Barcelona. See the story here, and an overview of the issue here. Juárez is now back in Mexico teaching and working, and Meneses has a growing practice in Barcelona.

Iván Juárez & Patricia Meneses
Architectural Record, December, 2010, p. 64-65. 

Photo: Tambabox, Tambacounda, Senegal, 2004.
© Iván Juárez

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Architect of the Year

If you want to see whom I've nominated architect of the year in Gentleman's roundup of great Ladies and Gentleman, rush to the newsstands (in Spain only) and buy the December issue. Hint: he collects cars. Runners-up were Zaha (who is everywhere at the moment), Peter (doing big things in Santiago de Compostela) and Benedetta (who designed the prize-winning Spanish Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo). No web page, I'm afraid. Photo from a recent biography (see a review in The Guardian), and he's also the subject of a major motion picture.