News Highlights of the Week: December 1 – December 7, 2007
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Gluckman Mayner Architects’ conceptual scheme for a Contemporary Art Museum of the Presidio was unveiled this week by Donald Fisher, the project’s backer and founder of the Gap retail chain. Fisher is seeking to build a 100,000-square-foot building to house his art collection in San Francisco’s Presidio, a former military base turned National Park. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported on December 4, Gluckman Mayner’s “sedate but glassy modern building” resembles “a long stack of overlapping cubes, with white masonry walls.” It would be a “stark contrast” to the structures flanking it: “red-brick barracks from the 1890s and the Mission-styled Officers Club that includes portions of a Mexican adobe from the 1820s.” But it is the site’s history, which dates to a 1776 Spanish military camp, that has many people calling for a different kind of museum—one that would commemorate the Presidio’s heritage. A rival scheme by the Presidio Historical Association aims to provide this in a 48,000-square-foot building, the specific details of which are as yet undetermined. According to the Chronicle, directors of the Presidio Trust—which oversees the park—are expected to make a decision early next year. One possibility is that they could find alternate sites within the park for both buildings.
Glass falling from a window in Renzo Piano’s new headquarters for The New York Times on Monday afternoon brought back memories of I.M. Pei’s John Hancock Tower in Boston—dubbed the “world’s tallest plywood building” shortly after it opened in 1976 and began losing windows—but it seems that the incident, which occurred during high winds and injured one passerby, was not indicative of an inherent failure in the curtain wall. The glass fell from the 17th floor during gusts up to 40 miles per hour, the Times reported on December 4, striking a man on the head. In a video feature on December 5, Engineering News-Record reported that the window panel was broken beforehand and that the Times, which owns the floor, has since been cited for “failing to safeguard the public and property.”
Foster + Partners’ design for a 32-story residential tower in Dublin, developed by the Irish rock band U2, is coming under fire. The building would be Ireland’s tallest, according to a December 3 article in the UK’s Guardian. But Ian Lumley, the head of Ireland’s preservation group An Taisce, expressed concern that “the U2 Tower... could potentially be an incongruous blot on the skyline on the south side of the city,” whose skyline is mainly Georgian. And, claiming that an environmental impact review has yet to be conducted, he added that the design fails to take into account climate change. “This tower is at the mouth of Dublin Bay and yet no provision has been made as to the effect of rising sea levels on an entire area earmarked for more residential living as well as businesses,” Lumley said. As RECORD reported in October, construction on the 591-foot-tall apartment tower—capped by a recording studio for U2—could begin in 2008 and finish in 2011.