Sculptural

 

 

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University of St. Thomas – Entry Plaza and Stella, Houston, Texas

The University of St. Thomas asked Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects to improve a principle entrance to the campus in 2006. The granite clad monument the office designed provides an iconic identification of the University to passing motorists and pedestrians. The new water feature and university logo and signage are a popular backdrop now for photographs.

 

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Bielefeld Art Gallery Gardens, Bielefeld, Germany

The small museum contains a series of galleries on three floors, with an auditorium, library, and ancillary facilities underground. There is a compromise of both natural light and artificial light throughout the building. It is a freestanding pavilion, gracefully perched on a recessed base, raised off the ground and open to the sky on its top floor. As a “pure prism”, the pavilion is square in plan with a footprint that measures eighty by eighty-feet.

A most intriguing aspect of this building is its structure which is firmly established as an arrangement of massive concrete walls in a loose pinwheel pattern. The skin is made up of glass walls that alternate with solid panels finished with South African granite, inside and out. The proportionate and functional divisions of the museum offer a practical sense to the means of displaying paintings and sculpture. On the exterior, paved and planted terraces on different levels surround the little pavilion. They serve as extensions to the galleries within and are supported with amenities such as reflecting pools and sculpture gardens on all sides.

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Chain Link Pavilion, North Salem, New York

This garden pavilion derives from artistic experiment with traditional geometry. The focus is the pyramid, albeit here it is done using several pyramids and colliding them together to form interesting intersections. The semi-transparent chain link material reinforces this. Shadow and light forms fascinating patterns over and within the surface of the pavilion.

For a long time Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects has engaged in projects such as this, in addition to their well-known work in large-scale structures. Johnson in particular, has a passion for pavilion design, which might explain why he has produced so many for his own property New Canaan, CT.

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Time Sculpture at Lincoln Center, New York, New York

More a sculptured monument than a clock, the Time Sculpture is more evidence of Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects interest in manipulating geometry to create a work of art. The clock has several faces of different size, designed in part to allow pedestrians, those in vehicles, and visitors in Dante Park all to have visual access to the current time. This should be something useful, especially right before curtain time at the various venues at Lincoln Center.

Working in collaboration with Michael Rock, of design studio “2 x 4”, Philip Johnson developed distinct clock face graphics. The playful quality of the placement of the numerous faces is a counterpoint to the monumentality of the sculpture’s overall form. Colored a soft bronze, the sculpture elegantly twists and warps. It seems far larger than it actually is. Also, it creates a focal point not only within Dante Park, but the larger intersection in which the park sits.

The clock was made possible through Lincoln Center and generosity of Yaffe and Gedalio Grinberg. It is a privately funded public amenity.

 

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Thanksgiving square, Dallas, Texas

Thanksgiving Square is a peaceful landscape offering a calm place to rest in downtown Dallas. It is graced with sloping greenery, pools of water, and a cascading fountain set in a three-acre triangular site. At its heart is a chapel in the form of a spiral–a place for meditation and prayer. Within the spiral is a custom stained glass skylight that provides a soft, multi-colored light.

In 1992, the firm was asked to coordinate improvements for the Thanksgiving Square area as part of a planned new light rail, transit way system. The ensuing reconfiguration of the street allowed for the placement of train tracks. This also provided an opportunity to develop the Western point of the site. The firm also worked on street improvements, including trees, street and sidewalk paving, lighting and overall signage.

Client: Thanksgiving Square
Completion Date: 1977 and 1996
Area: 5,800 square feet (chapel)

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Turing Point Park, Cleveland, Ohio

When Johnson created the Fort Worth Water Garden, he produced a landscape based on various aspects of water. At Turning Point Park the examination revolves around ways to sit. Four architectural pieces form the composition. There is a 50-seat amphitheater, a kiosk for stage lighting, a “sit-in” object and a “sit-on” object.

The amphitheater is elliptical in form and constructed of painted aluminum. The seats are made of bent-wood. The kiosk is an inverted cone, about 18 feet high. The “sit-in” piece is a chain-link structure, while the “sit-on” structure is a rounded form about two feet high.

The series of sculptural objects is an outgrowth of the firm’s dedication to exploring common ground between architecture and sculpture.

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The Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York

The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller garden at The Museum of Modern Art was designed by Philip Johnson in 1953 and has been loved as an exquisite urban outdoor room ever since. In 1988, distress was noted in the wall that separated the garden from 54th Street. After some investigation, it was decided to rebuild the garden wall and perform additional repairs to the fountains, the stone paving and the steps from the museum lobby. Construction Documents were prepared for the repairs and filed with New York City Building Department and the Landmarks Department. Construction began in February of 1989 and was completed three months later, in May.

Special care was taken to match the original materials used in the garden construction. Stone from a quarry that had closed in the 1960s was obtained and cut to create the steps, pavement and coping. Brick was fabricated specifically to match the original brick used for the garden wall. The fountains utilized state of the art technology to match the original design intent and return this important New York garden to its original form.

Landscape Architects: Zion & Breen

Client: The Museum of Modern Art
Completion Date: 1953/1964/1989

 

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Johnson Estate Gatehouse & Visitor’s Center

Philip Johnson’s extraordinary home in New Canaan, Connecticut, the Glass House, will eventually be open to the public through the National Trust for Historic Preservation. As preparation for this, Johnson designed a visitors pavilion, or gate house, that now sits at the entry to the property. His name for the sculpture-like building is Da Monsta, a reference to the structure’s animal -like qualities. Johnson has described it as having a flank, like a horse, which deserves a pat.

The building contains two rooms. The first is a reception area and waiting room. The second is a video room, where visitors will watch films and videos on Johnson and his work. These straightforward functions are enclosed in a sculpture, painted bright red and black, which Johnson claims is a reference to local New England architecture. The sculpture is a reinforced concrete shell formed using steel mesh, a layer of insulation, sprayed-on concrete, and a waterproof finish of acrylic. The system, which remains sufficiently flexible during construction, allowed for Mr. Johnson to change forms and edges of the shell before it settled into permanent shape.

The only two openings to the shell, the glassy entrance and a small window in the waiting area, are non-Euclidean in shape. Johnson claims his influence here came from German Expressionism and the artist Frank Stella. The interior has white walls and a concrete floor. The little building is nine feet tall at its lowest point and twenty-one feet tall at its highest point. Like all of the pavilions at the Glass House, this building represents Johnson’s artistic exploration of the moment.

Completion Date: 1995