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The Pavillon Notre-Dame, which could be situated next to the historic church, allows visitors a temporary place for worship and reflection

It's been just over 100 days since the world was absorbed by the heart-wrenching images of a fire burning the sacred Notre-Dame cathedral to the ground. Thankfully, as has been well documented, the building was saved, due in large part to the heroism and quick thinking of several Parisian officials. Of course, in the days immediately following the flames that threatened to consume the church, there was a river of funds sent to rebuild the church. And with it, a massive international competition to rebuild the storied structure. And as of today, there's real hope for a temporary space to be built for visitors to come, pray, and reflect, right outside of the church walls.

Designed by the international firm Gensler, the building has been dubbed the Pavillon Notre-Dame and, if built, will be located in the Parvis Square, mere feet away from the church. While the design is still in the conceptual stage, the structure could see the light of day in six months' time, pending Emmanuel Macron’s approval.

Ensuring that Notre-Dame remains the center of attention, the design is appropriately simple, an elegant structure that exudes an ethereal ambiance. Most symbolic, perhaps, in Gensler's design is the use of charred timber throughout the space. The timber, which has been locally procured from certified renewable sources, will be charred and added throughout. Of course, as many who witnessed the aftermath of the fire know, more than 1,300 individual beams of timber (some which were over 800 years old) were charred to the point of collapse.

On the far end of Gensler's rectangular structure is an altar. Behind this pagan motif is a series of movable objects that, when pushed aside, allow viewers uninhibited views of the church. "We designed this conceptual proposal in response to calls from Notre-Dame's rector, Bishop Patrick Chauvet, to create an ephemeral cathedral that would be transparent and flooded with light," says Duncan Swinhoe, regional managing principal at Gensler. "Our design includes translucent walls and an ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) cushioned rooftop. These materials create a space that is filled with light and emblematic of Paris, acting as a beacon of hope for Parisians and the international community."

Gensler hasn't submitted the design in the form of a competition, but rather offered it as a gift to the city of Paris. While the Pavillon Notre-Dame would be used for mass services—much like the church it's meant to temporarily replace—the makeshift space has multiple purposes. "It was important for the structure to primarily act as a place of worship, and it mirrors the configuration of Notre Dame for mass services for up to 800 people," says Swinhoe. "But we also wanted to reflect in our design what cathedrals were always intended to do—bring people together. That’s why we designed a space that's flexible in its ability to support the entire community."

seoul metropolitan government
located in the south korean capital’s magok, gangseo-gu, the seoul botanic park is the largest greenhouse to be built in the country. the park, which has been designed by architect chan-joong kim, landscape artist ou-gon jon, and master planner zoh kyung-jin, comprises four main spaces: a theme park, an open forest, a lake garden, and a wetland garden. within the themed areas, 12 variations of plants from 12 cities (hanoi, sao paulo, jakarta, bogota, perth, barcelona, san francisco, rome, tashkent, athens, istanbul and cape town) are held, representing their unique botanical cultures and climate of each geographical location.

opening to the public this month, may 2019, the seoul botanic park incorporates a ‘flower-shaped’ or ‘flattened glass dome’, which architect chan-joong kim designed to be ‘lower in the middle and higher along the edge’, contrasting to the traditional design, and hence expanding the user experience. inside the observatory, a skywalk stretches across the upper canopy of the garden to allow the viewing of exotic plants from multiple angles, while down-sized hot air balloons float around. the roof, which extends through the diameter (100 meters) of the structure, utilizes the ETFE glazing material (special glass-like plastic), which allows excellent light transmission, while its light-weight fabric reduces carbon dioxide emissions into the air.

Matthew Chamberlain
University of Westminster graduate Matthew Chamberlain has designed a sustainable treehouse to provide starter homes on London's streets, while also tackling the city's high pollution levels.

The Street Tree Pods are teardrop-shaped structures made from wood, designed to merge with existing or new trees.

Taking up the same amount of space as a single car-parking bay, each structure would offer short-term accommodation to a single occupant. Chamberlain sees them being occupied by students, young professionals and first-time buyers, or to people who are homeless or in the process of being rehoused.

"Street Tree Pods seeks to offer a fresh insight into urbanisation and community living within London, tackling and challenging both the current housing crisis and the growing pollution issues within the city," explained Chamberlain.

"These self-sufficient, low impact urban tree pods merge the house and street tree together, facilitating humans innate attraction towards nature and natural processes, along with focusing on the importance of wellness and sustainable architecture."

The curved wooden form of the design is intended to reference inosculation – the natural phenomenon where the branches, trunks and roots of two trees grow and merge together.

Cedar shingles would give the buildings a natural, textured cladding, while wooden bird boxes would be installed on top, set amongst the tree branches.

Chamberlain, who completed the project as part of his MA in architecture at University of Westminster, believes the project can help people to realise that trees are "a vital piece of infrastructure for a city".

He claims the project could increase both the density of greenery and housing in the UK capital, while also allowing residents to enjoy the psychological benefits of being surrounded by nature – often overlooked in urban environments.

"Trees have proved to decrease obesity, reduce certain health risks and aid mental behaviour and ultimately make people feel happier and more positive in their day to day lives," he told Dezeen. "Too often, however, they are disregarded as a vital component of urban master planning infrastructure and healthcare."

"This project is quietly arguing that more should be made to live among our natural landscape," he continued.

"It is not enough to simply move it out of the way for our architectural interventions. Trees are imperative to the success, health and wellbeing of all people and only ever provide advantages to our quality and way of life."

Tree trunks would run through the core of each structure, providing structural stability and ensuring no weight is placed on the branches.

The trunks would be enclosed in an ETFE shell – a system that would allow water to reach the tree and run through to the ground – while a rubber gasket between them will allow the tree to expand whilst remaining sealed.

Outside, the leaves of the trees would be used as a natural shading device.

Iwan Baan
New York City

For years, Manhattanites have suffered Brooklyn envy as the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and other institutions based in that borough have taken the baton of avant-gardism from Manhattan and run with it at uncatchable speeds. Manhattan was stuck. Many arts lovers hankered to be on the far side of the East River, living in other zip codes.

Now New York architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), in collaboration with Rockwell Group, has built a cure. Early this month, the Shed, a huge eight-level cultural venue in Hudson Yards, Manhattan’s new development on the far west side, opened to the jazzy syncopations of marching bands and drummers, led by Howard University’s Showtime band. Sousaphones swayed as the musicians snaked through the standing crowds in a 2,000-capacity mosh pit called the McCourt that sits within the extended retractable shell of the Shed—a voluminous, 115-foot high adaptable space with a steel armature resembling the skeletal bones of a “gigantosaurus.” Like the top of a convertible, the entire ballooning volume had been moved out—rolling on eight huge steel bogie wheels, 6 feet in diameter—from the structural-steel, glass, and concrete-base building of the Shed, which backs into a new 88-story residential tower, also designed by DS+R.

After the rousing opening, the concert continued on a temporary stage as musicians performed “The Soundtrack of America,” the first of a five-evening program of African American musical history produced by the British artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen, at the invitation of the Shed’s artistic director and CEO, Alex Poots.

While that series unfolded, other visual and performing works opened elsewhere in the Shed, showing off just how nimble the architecture is. A stack of four adaptable loftlike spaces, each about 12,500 square feet, make up the base building (which cleverly poaches on the infrastructure of its host, the residential tower, doubling up on plumbing, elevators, and fire stairs, and gaining back-of-house areas and offices). One major debut was a synesthetic program, combining a digitally animated mural by Gerhard Richter and music by Steve Reich composed to the same algorithms, in the 19-foot-high gallery on level two. Artist Trisha Donnelly’s enigmatic untitled installation commandeered level four, while in the Griffin Theater on level six—23 feet high and temporarily configured with a proscenium stage and raked seating—Renée Fleming sang in an original performance piece, Norma Jeane Baker of Troy, written by the poet Anne Carson. Fleming’s costar, Ben Whishaw, transformed himself into Marilyn Monroe in a play that ended, as it must, sadly.

The performances and art pieces—original, ambitious, daring works that tested the $475 million building for flexibility—provide a foretaste of the scope of Poots’s goal to present newly commissioned works that cross disciplines for diverse audiences, whose tastes may range from street art to the intellectually occult. The Shed is the platter on which art that is not yet imagined will be served; it’s a garage for creative start-ups. As Dan Doctoroff—deputy mayor in the Bloomberg administration who helped initiate the creation of Hudson Yards and is now board chairman of the Shed—explained, the institution got its name because it is “an open shelter for tools.”

Sheathed in inflatable ETFE, the Teflon-like material that looks like bubble wrap, the Shed has a charismatic urban presence, especially at night, when it glows like a Japanese lantern along the Hudson Yards’ southern edge, adjacent to the High Line. The main south entrance is at street level, below the High Line, while the north entrance is at the higher level off Hudson Yards’ plaza.

But the Shed is not so much an object as a performance. Leaving its position against the indented side of DS+R’s residential tower, the shell rides on tracks with elephantine slowness and grace, and, fully telescoped out, at 17,000 square feet, it doubles the footprint of the base building. Two rack-and-pinion systems on the roof, each with six 15-horsepower motors, drive the movement with a combined 180 horsepower (compared to a 134-horsepower Toyota Prius).

With state-of-the-art industrial parts taken from gantries and other portside structures, the design makes an unmistakable contextual reference to the wharves that once lined the Hudson River waterfront,
Aaron Betsky
The pavilion will be temporarily assembled at the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles from June 28 through Nov. 24.

London-based Second Home, a company that provides work space for entrepreneurs and social impact organizations, and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC) are teaming up to bring Madrid-based architecture practice SelgasCano's 2015 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion to Los Angeles this summer. Dubbed the Second Home Serpentine Pavilion, the 866-square-foot structure will be rebuilt at the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum—which affiliated with NHMLAC—in Hollywood.

"The Pavilion is an opportunity to experience one of the boldest and most innovative designs in contemporary architecture,” said Lori Bettison-Varga, president and director of NHMLAC, in a press release. “But it’s also a place for people to meet and be inspired by a range of activities throughout the summer.”

The colorful pavilion made of ETFE fabric-and-webbing panels will be set on a grassy patch near the tar pits, which are some of the only active urban Ice Age excavations sites in the world. Throughout its installation from June 28 through Nov. 24, the Second Home Serpentine Pavilion will host a number of free public film screenings, lectures, and other events focusing on issues including diversity in entrepreneurship; the future of equity and sustainability in Los Angeles; and the convergence of art, design, nature, and science in innovation, sponsored by Second Home and NHMLAC, according to the release.

“The Pavilion will be a space for diverse communities and ideas to come together," said Rohan Silva, co-founder of Second Home, in the release.

Eydie Cubarrubia
It’s the slider phone of buildings.

The telescoping exoskeleton of the Shed, New York City’s new arts center that opened April 5, glides on six 6-ft-tall steel wheel assemblies upon 273-ft-long tracks adjacent to the High Line elevated park. When unused, the shell sits snugly over the structure’s static portion.

But when deployed—the way some early 2000s cellphones’ large screens covered or revealed their keypads—the 120-ft-tall husk, an exposed steel diagrid frame clad in 70-ft panels of a translucent Teflon-based polymer commonly called ETFE, covers the second-story plaza on the building’s east side. The space becomes the 7,000-sq-ft McCourt theater, which can be enclosed or open air and is warmed by a radiant heat floor plate.

If the area’s 1,250 seats or 2,000 standing room occupancy can’t accommodate crowds, the glass walls of two column-free galleries on the second and fourth stories can be opened, turning those sections into balconies and expanding capacity to 3,000 heads.

During a press event, team members on the $404-million project explained the materials, mechanics and structural design that are repurposed from the shipping, sailing and construction industries.

“The technology that moves it is [adapted] from gantry cranes,” says architect Liz Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro. “We’ve added technology that hoists—cranes, [sports stadiums’ retractable] roofs—into a building.”

The steel and kinetic systems were prefabricated in Italy, she says, by a fabricator that does infrastructure projects like the Panama Canal. The sled drive, on the base building’s roof, is a rack-and-pinion system with motors totaling 180 horsepower—less than an SUV’s engine, but sufficient, since the cladding insulates like glass but is only one one-hundredth of the weight, according to Diller.

Though the skin lets in light, certain performances will require blackout conditions, in terms of sun and sound. To create heavy black shades that help the shell muffle 108 decibels of live pop music, the team tapped a sailmaker, says Dan Doctoroff, chairman of the Shed’s board of directors. When not needed, the shades roll back and the sides of the shell can slide up “like a garage door,” Doctoroff says, transforming the space into a sort of open-air band shell.
Brett Beyer
Aaron Betsky visits the Shed, designed with the Rockwell Group serving as collaborating architect and now under construction at New York City’s Hudson Yards, and finds one of the best architectural “moves” he’s seen in a while.

It is always dangerous to write about a building under construction, but then again, seeing a structure far enough along that all the spaces are defined and the structure’s place in the whole experience is clear, without finding yourself distracted by the content, can give you a sense of the architects’ intention. Of course, by that very toke you are then defining the structure as a monument that has a life and a meaning beyond its function. Though that is an issue for a house or even an office building (and leads to architects desperately trying to photograph their buildings before the owners move in and “mess things up”), for a structure such as the Shed, New York City’s latest cultural palace, the perspective also seems appropriate.

The Shed represents one of the biggest and most extreme examples of a “move”—as in the first architecture lesson I ever learned: “get in, make your move, get out fast”—that I have seen in recent years. It is intended to be the ultimate multipurpose building with over 90,000 square feet of open-span exhibition, performance, and event spaces that can expand by another 17,000 square feet when the shed of its name (which is officially called the McCourt) wheels out over an adjacent plaza. When I first watched as its designers, Diller Scofidio + Renfro (with New York–based collaborating architect Rockwell Group), presented the idea in their office, I filed it away in the “utopian designs, never realized” folder in my mind. Then Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, AIA, lectured at the School of Architecture at Taliesin and showed the giant wheels, each as big as a truck, being forged at an Italian factory, and I realized that the Shed was becoming a reality. Now, it is just about built, with the wheels ready to ride on their tracks by the time of the opening on April 5.

The “move” in this case is a literal one: The cowl of inflated ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) panels nests on top of a four-story stack of exhibition, performance, and event floors, the first three of which sport a 12,500-square-foot clear-span space. When Kanye West or the Bolshoi come to town, or when New York Fashion Week unfolds (which the Shed thinks will be their real moneymaker), the cowl takes a 5-minute journey along the tracks and covers the adjacent place, creating a fully enclosed, lit and conditioned, not to mention grand, space with a flexible floor plate and a 110-foot ceiling height.

The shed structure is now sitting over the plaza, while workers finish the lighting and the floors, not to mention all the other details that will make it work. And it is spectacular. The combination of the lacey steel structure and the translucent panels summon the image of a Gothic cathedral that has become abstracted and stretched into a thin membrane. They leave not a nave, but a modernist cube of a giant scale to house the worshipers of whatever modern culture the organizers choose to throw at the New York scene. The diagonal panes and struts, not to mention those supersized wheels, have a kinetic beauty even when they are fully stationary.

That is really all there is to the Shed. The main entrance, on a lower floor underneath the High Line (which DS+R also co-designed), is a serviceable space whose one trick is a skylight that gives you a view of that reused train track’s bottom. The escalators that take you up into the spaces above are designed as cleanly and with as much reserve as the architects could muster. My only fear is of a repeat of DS+R’s experience at the Broad museum in Los Angeles, where dreadfully proportioned and positioned walls leached all the grandeur out of the top-floor gallery—a gallery that was meant to be the institution’s big payoff.

I also wish that DS+R had managed to find a way to stage the entrances and the unfolding of the spaces with a few more transitions, but I understand the lot was tight and the opportunities
PCL Construction
The Xanadu project, launched in 2003 to add a major retail center to the New Jersey Meadowlands, was never envisioned as a garden variety mall. But New Jerseyans and visitors driving the N.J. Turnpike got a sense of what it wasn’t supposed to be in what it had become—an odd multicolored warehouse-like structure that stayed unfinished for a number of years and prompted a distinction then as the state’s leading eyesore.

But with new white aluminum cladding, a major redesign, a new name, three developers—and more than $5 billion and 15 years later—the American Dream has arrived.

Now an expanded retail-entertainment complex set to open in stages this year, it includes three indoor theme parks, 450 tenants and a dozen other attractions—far eclipsing the original concept, and with few peers, if any, in the changing U.S. retail real estate market.

And it’s all atop marshland that almost swallowed a Bobcat excavator.

The 5-million-sq-ft project is borrowing from developer Triple Five Worldwide’s own playbook for its mega-retail Mall of America complex in Minneapolis, where 20% of the property features entertainment attractions. The project could include a $250-million plan to build what would be North America’s largest indoor waterpark if it wins over opponents.

American Dream is amplifying the tilt to entertainment, says Tony Armlin, vice president of development at Edmonton, Alberta-based Triple Five, which took over the project in late 2010. “We positioned this so that 55% of our project is dedicated to amusement and attractions and dining experiences and 45% is focused on traditional retail experience,” he says.

A primary challenge has been to fuse varied elements cohesively, says Debbie Kalisky, associate of retail development at GH+A Design Studios, retail design architect on the project. “This is a new model, a multi-dimensional, multifaceted family destination,” she says. “That was the high-level vision, taking the bones [of a retail center] and reimagining it.”

A big part of the design was treating the existing abandoned structures—built by the first developer, Mills Corp., before it exited in a 2007 bankruptcy, and then by Colony Capital, which left in 2009—as a giant shell and essentially starting over, Armlin says. “We have completely revisioned, repositioned and redesigned what was here,” he says. “The only things that we maintained [were] in essence the [superstructure] and its envelope and some of the mechanical and electrical systems. The entire interiors were demolished and the whole exterior renovated.”

The $700 million in rehab work on those structures included substantial changes, says Wayne Melnyk, vice president of major projects leading the American Dream effort for PCL Construction Enterprises, the construction manager. “We’ve added skylights, we’ve closed areas where they had open courts, and in other places we’ve created open spaces or bump-outs in the building,” he says.

But the construction effort also has entailed building two new eight-acre indoor theme parks, more retail space and a host of added attractions. In the end, American Dream will open with 3 million leasable sq ft of retail and entertainment space and 11,000 designated parking spaces.

As Triple Five invested $3 billion into the project, on top of $2 billion in work from the prior developers, it has deployed an army of partners, consultants and staff, Armlin says.

“Obviously those are big numbers, so we had to assemble and create team management structures that would effectively execute renovation design, new design and enormous amounts of consultant coordination,” he says.
Iwan Baan via SelgasCano
Spanish design firm SelgasCano has completed the surreal Plasencia conference center and auditorium in Spain. Shaped like a giant boulder, the multifaceted building is wrapped in a translucent skin of ETFE panels that floods the interior with natural light during the day and glows like a lantern when illuminated from within at night. In contrast to its pale exterior, the interior is dominated with vibrant colors — from a bright orange entry hall to a deep red auditorium — that heighten the structure’s ethereal feel.

Evocative of a futuristic spaceship, SelgasCano’s design of the Plasencia conference center and auditorium was selected in a 2005 competition. However, financing issues severely delayed the project’s completion to 2017. Now in operation, the building spans 7,500 square meters and includes an entrance lobby, a flexible 300-person secondary hall that can be split into three 100-person halls, the exhibition halls and the restaurant area.

Set on a steep hillside straddling the border between urban development and the rural landscape, the conference center and auditorium was also designed to sit lightly on the land. Rather than fill in the site, the architects created a cantilevered shape to hover over the rocky terrain. They placed the entrance at the roadway, located 17 meters above the terrain, while inserting ramps and stairs that descend down to the various rooms.

“The building will be visible in the distance from an entire western perspective, from north to south,” the architects said. “It will be seen when passing by at high speed in a car, which is why we have planned it as a snapshot or a luminous form, acting as a sign for passengers by day and by night, playing at being a correspondence between sensation and reality, between the position it seems to be heading for and the position from where it will move.”

Max Touhey
15 Hudson Yards is Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s first residential skyscraper in NYC

The architecture and design firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro isn’t known as a builder of cloud-piercing, skyline-altering towers, but the firm has made its mark on the built environment of New York City in other—and perhaps more significant—ways.

With its work on educational buildings (Columbia University’s new medical school, the Juilliard expansion at Lincoln Center), cultural centers (MoMA’s expansion, redesigning Lincoln Center), and—most famously—the High Line, DS+R’s work is part of the urban fabric, and engaged with on a deeper level than most high-rise buildings.

But the firm is about to make its mark on the skyline, too: 15 Hudson Yards, the megaroject’s 917-foot-tall condo tower, will welcome its first residents soon; the Shed, the cultural center that abuts it, will debut in April. DS+R designed both in collaboration with Rockwell Group, and despite principal Elizabeth Diller’s previously stated disdain for unbridled supertall development—which she told Dezeen “damage the city fabric” in 2016—she’s pleased with the outcome at Hudson Yards. “I’m really very happy to have contributed to New York in different ways,” she says.

Curbed chatted with Diller at a press preview for 15 Hudson Yards; what follows are her thoughts on knitting together disparate building types, working with developers, and why she wouldn’t rule out another skyscraper for the firm.

This interview has been edited for clarity and condensed.

Curbed: I read an interview you did with the Guardian recently, in which you said that you never expected DS+R to work on a large commercial building like 15 Hudson Yards. What made you change your mind?

Elizabeth Diller: We were already working on the Shed at the time for a number of years. The Shed site kept morphing and changing and it was moving west, and we found ourselves adjacent the future residential tower. We were offered the possibility of doing it with David [Rockwell] and first we thought, “This is not what we do. This is not in our wheelhouse.” Then we decided, “Hey we really want a good neighbor. We really want a nice building next to us.”