Jones Center with an Arthouse

August 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

There are a million things to do at every moment, every place I live. I’ve always made the mental checklists of places and things I needed to see on a day or afternoon off, events and spectacles I need to take in in order for me to truly understand what it means to be in that place at that time with those experiences to be had.

And I am also pretty terrible at doing enough.

But like a bad recording of some random 80’s pop phenom I return to that strange push that gets me out once in a while, out to do some checking off of a list. It’s a strange burden of guilt that happens, to almost say yes to yourself.

Well, I’ve had the Arthouse at the Jones Center as an item on my list for many a month. Opened last October and designed by a great architecture firm out of New York the Arthouse is a striking juxtaposition of design along Congress Avenue. Bathed in all white with aqua punctured holes in the exterior the double story corner building almost wants you not to see it until you’re good and ready. Perfect for Texans.

I visited the museum done by Zaha in Cincinnati, and amongst the strongest design concerns I remember was she had the desire to bring the street into the museum – physically. Her method was to curve the sidewalk under the hanging panes of glass and curl it right into the walking stairway talking the person to the galleries. I loved it in Cincinnati, the gesture worked for me, it was a happy trick. Whether or not LTL had this in mind when they set out I have to say I missed it. The front teases this hopeful propensity but fails to satisfy it. First off, the letters of the Arthouse bleed into the glass overhead, stretching the eye to the beautiful centerpiece of the stair – but try and find an entrance and you’ll feel yourself like a mime in a bad National Lampoon movie. I did a triple take, eyes lusting after the stair, outside the glass wall of the street before finding the “around the corner” all glass door. Howver, after that, the building was a pretty great work of detail and simplicity.

The Arthouse, without any boring reading on it – (but, go ahead… it’s got a great back story…) – I guessed was probably a clothing store then some sort of theater, then a period of dormancy that led it’s way to the chic museum culture we currently embrace. I know this because the easy telling stylings on the dry and broken stucco that still cling to the brick walls of the exterior wall. The past life was definitely incorporated in that respect – making me think of the musings on preservation and historicism by Koolhaas – and in a way it doesn’t take away from the darkened space. But was it does do is make me want to see more – is this a history museum? or art museum? I wanted to keep peering around corners to see large mockups of native americans and the first oilmen of the Hill Country. This museum just oozes some of that old world museum in it, the labrynth dark, slightly scary spaces we made to hold the other vestiges of a not that distant past.

The large open space after the stairway was set in many layers. I’ll describe four of them. On the floor I imagined painstaking concrete pours and tests and perfect control joints. On the exterior wall I saw people filing smooth jagged bits of steel pipe and rebar that exposed themselves during the remodel. On the interior wall I saw an all white symbol of terrifying authority – all white and all imposing.. ready to smash anything of aggregate. And above head, just a barn dance, a county fair barn dance ceiling peered down at me – just waiting for the polka to start while the sound of heavy hogs being settled down to sleep.  The space just held nothing – but all these things. Maybe that was the museums biggest success.

Also, If you want to get to the roof, wait until Wednesdays – because other than on that day… the giant elevator will open itself to you, let you enter, close itself, but it will not take you anywhere.



August 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

There are just some images that immediately cause a person to pause.The image above is of the design for the tallest structure in the world. The building measures in as 1000 meters high, or 3,280 feet. It’s going to smash the record of the current tallest building by 170 meters. Designed by the architecture firm of Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill, this ozone piercing building will be the newest in a  long line of humanities towering ambition to live above the clouds. This rendering of the tower is pure beauty, leaving aside the actual mechanics and science of the building that will need air traffic control, and it inspires like only architecture can.  

If you think this is amazing, check out the video for the tallest building in the universe.

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