Author Archives: Raymund Ryan, Curator of Architecture, Heinz Architectural Center

Maggie Keswick: China and the Intelligent Landscape


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Maggie’s Hong Kong, 2013. Architect: Frank Gehry. Photograph © Kalson Ho, Over and Over Studio.

Maggie Keswick’s personal experience with cancer led to the founding of Maggie’s Centres in Edinburgh now two decades ago. Of Scottish origin, the Keswick family has been involved in trading and business ventures in Southeast Asia since the mid-nineteenth century. Raised in both Britain and Hong Kong, where her father was chairman of Jardine Matheson, Maggie was one of those rare Europeans able to visit the historic sites of mainland China after the rise of communism.

This hybrid and privileged background informs the wonderful book that brought Maggie Keswick to the attention of architects, historians, and landscape enthusiasts in the late 1970s. The Chinese Garden was for many a revelatory exploration of the landscapes and pleasure grounds constructed across China for emperors and traders, traditions that are millennia-old yet then little known in the West. “Like the plans of Gothic cathedrals,” Maggie wrote in her preface, “Chinese gardens are cosmic diagrams, revealing a profound and ancient view of the world, and of man’s place in it.”

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Maggie’s Centres: A Focus on Scotland


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Maggie’s Dundee, 2003. Architect: Frank Gehry. Photograph © Raf Makda.

On Thursday, September 18, Scotland votes on independence. Over four centuries after the English and Scottish crowns joined forces, and over three centuries after the original Act of Union, the people of Scotland will democratically elect to remain within or abandon the ideal of a United Kingdom. When Andrew Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, across the Firth of Forth from Edinburgh, in 1835, such rupture would have seemed incredible as the British Empire ruled approximately a fifth of the world’s population and one quarter of the Earth’s land area.

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A Visit to Maggie’s West London


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Maggie’s West London, 2008. Architect: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. Landscape Architect: Dan Pearson. Photograph © Adam Hollier.

Richard Rogers first came to international attention when he and Renzo Piano won the competition for the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 1971. That radical intervention into the urban fabric of the French capital placed escalators into a transparent tube along one side of the building and mechanical services into multicolored modular units along the street elevation, such that interior space is freed up for ultimate flexibility and democratic participation in the arts.

Many distinguished buildings later, Rogers and his partners, Graham Stirk and Ivan Harbour, realized the first Maggie’s Centre in London. Awarded the 2009 Stirling Prize, the key prize for a building designed by a UK-registered practice, the Centre offers practical and emotional support to folks undergoing cancer care at the adjacent Charing Cross Hospital. The subject of our fall 2014 exhibition at the Heinz Architectural Center, more than a dozen Maggie’s Centres have been designed over the last two decades by influential architects and landscape designers across Britain.

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Japanese Architects at the Heinz Architectural Center


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Tezuka Architects’ run run run, from the 2013 Carnegie International; Photo: Greenhouse Media

As part of the 2013 Carnegie International, Tokyo-based Tezuka Architects designed an installation titled run run run for the largest gallery of the Heinz Architectural Center, the architecture department of the Carnegie Museum of Art. This temporary installation consists of a flowing curtain, almost elliptical in plan, onto which film is screened from multiple projectors. The films depict children at play at the Fuji Kindergarten, an innovative structure recently realized by Takaharu and Yui Tezuka in the Tokyo suburbs. For the Pittsburgh installation, balloons and a padded floor surface augment an atmosphere of play and interactivity.

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Shigeru Ban’s Paper Loghouse, from the exhibition Strangely Familiar: Design and Everyday Life

This gallery has in fact hosted several installations and exhibitions of work by Japanese architects, reflecting Japan’s significant contributions to contemporary architectural culture. Japanese architects have been awarded the Pritzker Prize, the world’s most prestigious prize for architects, on five occasions, including Tadao Ando in 1995 and the team of Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa in 2010; only the United States has had more Pritzker laureates. Furthermore, Japan has produced seminal new talents each decade: Shigeru Ban and Sejima/Nishizawa in the 1990s, Tezuka Architects in the 2000s, and most recently, Sou Fujimoto and Junya Ishigami.

In 2003, as part of Strangely Familiar: Design and Everyday Life, the Heinz Architectural Center accommodated an entire house. Made from cardboard tubes and resting on Kirin beer crates, Paper Loghouse was designed by Shigeru Ban as emergency housing in the aftermath of the 1995 Kobe earthquake.

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Models by Toshiko Mori, from the exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright: Renewing the Legacy

In 2005, for Frank Lloyd Wright: Renewing the Legacy, the Japanese-born architect Toshiko Mori displayed models of her competition-winning proposal, now completed, to build a visitors center next to Wright’s Darwin D. Martin House in Buffalo, New York.

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Installation view of White Cube, Green Maze: New Art Landscapes

For 2012’s White Cube, Green Maze: New Art Landscapes, dramatic new structures on islands in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea were presented in our largest gallery. Projects on Naoshima by Tadao Ando were represented by large topographic models and drawings by this Osaka-based master. Four maquettes made from household materials revealed the design process of Ryue Nishizawa for his enigmatic Teshima Art Museum, a collaboration with the artist Rei Naito. An adjacent space was occupied by a transparent model of Seirensho, the re-working by Hiroshi Sambuichi of a former copper refinery on Inujima.

It may be a simplification to draw direct connections between the works of these outstanding Japanese architects presented here in Pittsburgh. Nevertheless each operates in a cultural continuum that values materiality, space, lightness, and communication with nature.

Tezuka Architects: Artist Talk, October 7


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Tezuka Architects design with daily life in mind. In an era when many architects, especially those termed “starchitects,” seem interested in strange form for strange form’s sake, Takaharu and Yui Tezuka are responsible for buildings that provide optimal space for activity with strategic use of material. Their work reinforces progressive ideas of health, community and social gathering.

This year the 2013 Carnegie International includes architecture for the first time. As part of The Playground Project, a key component of the International, Tezuka Architects have designed an installation titled run, run, run in Carnegie Museum of Art’s Heinz Architectural Center. Through cinematic images and sound, the installation evokes the architects’ Fuji Kindergarten in suburban Tokyo. The kindergarten consists of an oval roof deck accessible from an open court used by children year-round. The children run energetically about this deck yet also enjoy moments of quieter play, frequently in the shade of mature zelkova trees.

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Sketch for installation of run, run, run; Courtesy of Tezuka Architects

In addition to Fuji Kindergarten, the Tezukas have recently built kindergartens in Miyagi Prefecture, for communities devastated by the 2011 tsunami, and a medical facility near Kobe for children undergoing chemotherapy. Each project communicates a faith in the possibility of architecture to aid people’s lives.

Join us for an artist talk on Monday, October 7, at Carnegie Lecture Hall, where Takaharu Tezuka will describe the vividly social buildings realized by his practice. Co-sponsored by the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University, the lecture is free and takes place at 6:30.