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Thread: Park51 Community Center - SOMA

  1. #1

    Post Park51 Community Center - SOMA

    Park51 Community Center - Official Web Site
    _________________________________________

    CNN
    October 3, 2010

    First images of proposed NYC Islamic center

    By Dan Gilgoff
    CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor



    The group behind the proposed Islamic cultural center near New York's ground zero has released what it is calling the first official images of the center.

    The website for the project, known as the Park51 Community Center, said that the "new images display an updated exterior and provide a first look into Park51’s interior and lend some insight on how we’re envisioning the project," in a post that went up Tuesday but that initially drew little notice.

    Plans for the $100 million, 13-story center include a 500-seat auditorium, classrooms and conference rooms, space for social events, a 9/11 memorial, a pool and a gym.



    Scores of Muslims are already using the Lower Manhattan site as a mosque.

    The imam behind the proposed Islamic center and mosque is largely avoiding New York City because of security concerns and is receiving protection from the New York Police Department, according to those close to the imam.



    The images of the project were produced by SOMA Architects, which Park51's website identifies as the project's architectural design consultants.

    © 2010 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
    Last edited by BigMac; October 8th, 2010 at 03:49 PM.

  2. #2

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    The most dubious looking design for a building in Manhattan since Calatrava's 80 South Street.

  3. #3

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    Don't we already have a thread for this building?

  4. #4

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    It morphed into a political thread

  5. #5
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    It did, and it is located here where the political posts should stay. We can use this one for the architecture of the building.

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    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Music Man View Post

    It morphed into a political thread
    Hard to separate the two in this case. But we shall all try, yes?

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    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
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    I'm just glad BigMac is back and posting again.

  8. #8

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    Thanks, antinimby! I figured I'd been in lurk mode for enough years.

    Some larger renderings from the official site:






  9. #9

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    I think its cool looking for the most part... not sure I like the blank wall on the sides though. Maybe they can give that a little character or something

  10. #10

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    The 3rd rendering looks like an M.C. Escher poster I had when I was 17.

    I love the bridge in front of the escalator (3rd rendering) where it narrows down so that the figures shown could not possibly pass through it.

    And are the holes in the floor glass? I sure hope so.

  11. #11
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    It just looks...busy. Forgetting any cultural/religious issues, I suspect it will be as beloved as the "lolipop venetian" of 2 Columbus Circle fame.

  12. #12

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    Beautiful; that facade dazzles the eye - and the interior is pretty cool too. And, I spy more than a few of 'these Jewish stars' within the intricate curtain wall detail: maybe this imam actually is a 'bridge builder'.

    http://cae2k.com/baby-blocks-photos-...-pictures.html
    http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showth...l=1#post340464
    Last edited by infoshare; October 6th, 2010 at 08:10 PM.

  13. #13
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    I see that the two separate threads on this (News / Architecture) have been re-combined ...

    Back to the building:

    Designs for NYC's Park51 Islamic center
    show a literally enlightened building


    THE WASHINGTON POST
    By Philip Kennicott
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    Architecture Review

    Early architectural renderings are a basic part of salesmanship. Before the money is raised, before the permits are in hand, before the land is owned or the site chosen, a rendering gives substance to the dream. In the case of the Park51 Community Center, the Islamic facility proposed for contested land in Lower Manhattan near the World Trade Center site, the organizers face a hurdle that may prove even more daunting than the usual details of money, property and zoning.

    They face a groundswell of hostility whipped up during an election season that feeds on primitive emotions directed at a parody of a supposedly primitive religion. Even in the midst of great controversy, however, powerful drawings can forge consensus.

    And so, in the middle of one of the most shameful chapters in the civic and intellectual life of America, Park51 released three drawings, which show a scrupulously contemporary building, conversant in the latest design trends, drenched with light and transparent to the world. The basic symbolism of the building is obvious: It is porous, open and bright, which is to say, it is literally an enlightened building. The space reserved for worship will be in the basement, but the design of the aboveground floors, which will accommodate a sports facility, swimming pool, culinary center, child care and other community functions, clearly indicates that Park51 has nothing to hide and nothing of which to be ashamed.

    * * *

    The building's exterior, according to Michel Abboud, principal of SOMA Architects, is latticework, with star-shaped patterns that recall the delicate lattice screens on traditional Arabic, Islamic or mosque architecture, a collection of aesthetic traditions so old and so diverse that one hesitates to lump them together. The pattern is as basic to a wide range of styles associated with Islam as the vault or column are to the many styles associated with Christian architecture.

    The shapes, created on a computer, could reference the miraculous confections in stone one finds in Mughal architecture. Or the two-dimensional patterning one finds in books derived from a tradition of Islam that favored abstraction over literal representation. But it also participates in a brilliant contemporary practice of repurposing traditional Arabic screen forms.

    A similar pattern, for instance, distinguishes the roof of the giant dome that French architect Jean Nouvel has proposed for a new branch of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi. Abboud acknowledges inspiration from another of Nouvel's buildings, the Institut du Monde Arabe, which fuses contemporary, Islamic and modernist elements into a design that enlivens a prime spot on the Seine in central Paris.

    "If you look around, it is an easy reaction to designing a building with such a program, but it is also the right one," says Abboud, who has been wrestling for months with the basic problem of how to make the building fit into contemporary Manhattan and be "Islamic" at the same time.

    Part of the solution is hidden in the screenlike skin of the building, which is also doing the main work of supporting the entire form.

    "We wanted to take this to another level so it is not purely a decorative interface," says Abboud, who earned his master's in architecture from Columbia in 2003. "It is a free-standing structural exoskeleton that plays on notions of privacy and openness."

    The skin of the building, which varies in density, responds to the program, or layout, of the interior. Where interior spaces are used for more public functions, it is more porous; where the use is more private, it becomes more dense.

    Abboud, who is a French citizen with roots in Lebanon, runs a practice with offices in New York, Beirut and Mexico. SOMA has four projects in New York and more than a dozen around the world, including private homes, housing developments, retail outlets and restaurants. Abboud, who leads a busy practice, says he held off releasing images of the project as controversy raged over the so-called Ground Zero mosque because he didn't want his ideas caught up in the fray.

    Architects working in places such as Lebanon -- and the Persian Gulf states and China -- face the usual challenges of creating buildings in an aesthetically anarchic age. The tension between the international gestures of modernity and the emotionally satisfying details of local style must be acknowledged, accommodated or denied. Steer too close to modern sensibility and you risk lapsing into a desiccated, global version of minimalism or the corporate glass box. Steer too close to the traditional and you cease to be an architect and become, instead, an orchestrator of Disneyesque fantasies of exotica.

    But it is particularly difficult working in areas of the world where there is strong pressure to assert a new regional identity, neither slavishly in thrall to international styles nor complacently deferential to local ones. SOMA is clearly adept at confronting this particular challenge, and that skill is apparent in the Park51 design, which elegantly confuses categories in a way that is both a cliche of contemporary design and an encouraging sign of progressive thinking. The building announces its purpose and respects its occupants, while confidently asserting its presence in the urban fabric of New York, where ironic games with ornament and substance, skin and skeleton, reference and abstraction are both fashionable and obligatory.

    Even if eliding those categories is nothing new, given how fraught this project has become, how high the stakes are, one shouldn't sneer at an architecture that confidently reasserts the old power of abstraction and modernity. The act of taking a traditional pattern and abstracting new possibilities from it is essentially analogous to the act of taking a traditional religion and abstracting more humane ideas from its literal texts.

    * * *

    People who are inclined to think the worst of Park51 may give this design a sinister reading, finding ominous meaning in a surface that is open in some places and less so in others. The symbolism of placing the worship space underground may be contested from both sides, and given the horrendous venom directed at the project, security instantly becomes a paramount issue. The architect is still grappling with that problem.

    But if judged without reference to the rumors and speculation that have hounded the organizers of the community center, the building's basic design suggests a sensibility unwilling to be trapped in old and dogmatic distinctions.

    The thrill of so much contemporary architecture has to do with how the drama of a building reinforces one's sense of the best in humanity. A dramatic cantilever, a shape that seems impossible to make from steel or stone, the purity of perfect straight lines and impossibly flat planes, or latticework that holds up an entire high-rise -- these spectacles move us because they remind us of the incredible technological and creative power of man. They are built versions of the sublime.

    This power can be used for good or ill, a fact painfully reinforced by the history of the past century. Today it can be found in the astonishing and terrifying high-rise in Beijing that houses the state-run broadcaster CCTV (a form that also uses a structural exoskeleton). And it can be found in any number of new museums and cultural centers throughout the Western world. But it still gives us a visceral thrill, like the trumpets and timpani in a symphony by Beethoven, because it reminds us of some of the greatest chapters of our species, when humanism was regnant. Or at least regnant among cultural elites.

    The designs for Park51 are part of a sophisticated, international language of the global cool, technologically savvy, alert to history, but floating free across national and historical boundaries. One couldn't ask for a more assertive statement of where the organizers of Park51 say they want to take Islam.

    © 1996-2010 The Washington Post Company

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    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    The opposing view ...

    Dream Mosque

    The sleek, generic new renderings of Park51
    don’t tell us anything about why it should be built there.


    NEW YORK MAGAZINE
    By Justin Davidson
    Oct 10, 2010

    When Park51 released a suite of renderings of the planned Islamic community center recently, the move seemed intended to neutralize the toxic verbiage swirling around the project with evidence of enlightened design. Instead, the images just added to the murk. They show a sugar-white fifteen-story building slotted between sooty masonry relics. The façade is covered in a riff on a mashrabiya, the carved screen that in traditional Islamic architecture veils interiors from intrusive eyes and the penetrating sun. The motif of the six-point Arabic star has been fed through software to create an irregular pattern. Inside, escalators lead from a light-bathed upper story to an even airier mezzanine above, though we get no clue as to what those bare and generous spaces may be for. We could be looking at an airport or a hotel lobby.

    The sketches are the work of Soma Architects, which was founded by the 33-year-old Columbia-trained architect Michel Abboud and has offices in New York, Mexico City, and Beirut. The firm’s thin portfolio of built projects includes the Lebanese restaurant Naya in midtown, where white-on-white booths and perforated screens resemble pods for some chic scientific activity.

    The design’s vagueness reflects a certain muddle about Park51’s mission. Will the new building be a religious establishment or a cultural one, an interfaith center or a Muslim organization, a symbolic place or a pragmatic facility? It’s an architect’s job to ask these questions, then weave the answers into concrete and steel. But the Park51 website refers to Soma merely as its “Architectural Design consultants,” which is another way of saying that Abboud might not design the building when the clients figure out what they want, assuming they can raise the money.

    In the absence of clarity, Soma resorted to facile globalism. The façade invokes a series of Western architects’ glosses on the mashrabiya more than it does the real thing—its most relevant antecedents are the elaborately patterned balcony screens in the new showcase enclave of Masdar in Abu Dhabi, designed by Norman Foster; the high-tech metal-and-glass curtain on Jean Nouvel’s Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris; and the white concrete grille with which Edward Durrell Stone cloaked the front of his East Side brownstone. Park51’s version yields a generic whiff of the Middle East, but ignores its immediate surroundings. The allover pattern even obscures the basic module of New York architecture: the story.

    Until now, the debate over an Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan has centered on location and its literal and symbolic proximity to the World Trade Center. Park51’s founders and supporters have lucidly defended the organization’s legal and moral right to build on the lot it owns and suggested that even if they found an alternative, they could not let themselves be bullied into moving. You would think, then, that the architects would make the logic of this location seem inescapable. They might have given more than a perfunctory nod to the financial district’s modernist towers and ornate palazzos of capital or to the future complex rising a couple of blocks away. But instead of embedding the spirit of the place into the building, Soma has imagined a generically ornate box that could be dropped in another neighborhood—or work equally well as the offices of a software company in Cairo.

    The current version of Park51 may bear no similarity to the eventual design. But even as a statement of architectural ambitions, the pictures are not encouraging. Rather than use the opportunity to battle paranoia with precision, the nascent institution has chosen to crouch behind all-purpose, prerecession fanciness. Instead of taking a step toward reality, Park51 has proffered a decorative distraction, a picture to adorn a fund-raising brochure. And so an ideal of ecumenical enlightenment is starting to look like just another developer’s mirage.

    Copyright © 2010, New York Media LLC.

  15. #15

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    I dont know what this guy is talking about. This thing is gorgeous I love it, though another 50 floors would be great.

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