Archive for January 22nd, 2011

January 22, 2011

Housing Tower at Kripalu Center | Stockbridge, Mass. | Peter Rose + Partners

Located in the Berkshires, the new dormitory building at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health is a study in wood, glass, and concrete. Cypress cladding runs the length of the façade, and matching strips are worked into manually operated window shades for each guest room.

Split by a central service core, the six-story building has two canted wings. On the east façade these volumes are carefully placed to minimize views of the existing brick buildings slightly to the north.

Staircases at either end of the building are enclosed by glass with concrete walls that contribute to the structure and thermal mass of the building.

Façade detailImage


Each guest room is a compact 9 feet 9 inches by 19 feet; those dimensions include space for an en-suite bathroom. Floors and ceilings are concrete (covered by resilient flooring and exposed, respectively) with embedded radiant heating and cooling. The movable cypress louver is still visible just outside the window.

Guest room

Ensuite bathroom

Visitors spend most of their time in the yoga studio and meeting room on the ground floor, which has a sprung wood floor.

The spartan character carries through to public spaces such as the main lobby.

Cypress cladding and movable louvers.




Designing an 80-room dormitory on a very low budget was not in itself a daunting prospect for Cambridge, Mass., architect Peter Rose, AIA. But the mission of the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, a retreat devoted to holistic healing and meditation in the atmospheric Berkshires, elevated expectations. Rose’s challenge was to express the program’s intangible goals—integrity, authenticity, serenity, self-realization—in the building. In short, he had to grapple with matter to express spirit.

The sylvan context of the dorm, a tree-lined, meadowed site with a view of a sprawling lake, certainly helped. But the existing midcentury Jesuit seminary did not. Rose had to respond to the beauty of the Berkshires while negotiating what looked like an oversize roadside motel.

The dorm is only part of Rose’s larger commission to design a master plan—aimed at segmenting the main structure to achieve what Rose calls “demassification”—and he selected a site at the end of the former seminary, positioning the new building to avoid views of the old while capturing those of the lake out front and the forest in back. To fit the program on a footprint squeezed between the existing building and a perimeter road, Rose designed a six-story block divided by a vertical wedge-shaped service core, resulting in two unequal, angled wings. A double-loaded corridor, widened at one end, runs the length of the structure; the resulting geometries were determined based on careful curation of views.

Striating the façade with strips of cypress, Rose materially aligns the dorm to the wooded site rather than to the brick seminary; the building reads from a distance as wood against the woods. Manually operated sliding window screens allow guests to modify their views and sun exposure, and the randomness animates the façade.

Inside, the cellular rooms are monastic. The strict $450 per square foot budget kept rooms at 9 feet 9 inches by 19 feet. Rose wasn’t aiming at stylistic minimalism, but was simply calculating livable minima. “It was as lean as you can make it,” he says. As a result, structure doubled as surface: the floors and piers embedded in the demising walls are exposed concrete. But this exercise in economy ended up contributing to the experience of the space. The density of the concrete in the compact rooms creates a silent sense of contemplative isolation.

The four dormitory floors rest on a podium of public space, including the entry and a glass-enclosed walkway linking to the old seminary. Groups practice yoga in a large meeting room lined with sliding windows that ensure guests see only the sky, mountain ridges and trees from their mats on the floor; the windows also allow for cross-ventilation. The simplicity of the space is not stylistic but elemental. The sprung floors are wood; the walls and ceiling are exposed concrete, with plywood panels dropped from the ceiling to mask pipes. Color is natural and integral. Rose has always been a master of material collage, and the material honesty throughout the dormitory gives the space a sense of embodied authenticity. No simulacra, only the real thing, plus tight editing to eliminate the unnecessary.

Functionally, Rose used the concrete’s thermal mass for temperature control. Embedded plenums and micro-chases for radiant heating and cooling create a spatially efficient HVAC system, which allowed for the building’s tight 90-inch floor-to-floor heights. “We activated structure as a piece of the mechanism, and concrete is a perfect medium for sustainability,” he says. The integrated climate-control strategy resulted in a projected 40 percent less energy consumption than that of a typical forced-air system.

Without wearing karma on his sleeve, Rose achieved a strong but nuanced architectural presence appropriate for yoga instruction. He knew when to stop adding and when to quit subtracting, and achieved a design conducive to ambient serenity: The architecture supports, and even assists, but does not intrude. “The architecture, like yoga itself, is full of subtlety and layers of complexity that gently improve the structure’s performance,” he says. “Light, air, using minimal means to create a calm, healing environment—it’s all about fulfilling these almost intangible requirements.”

Project Credits

Project Housing Tower at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Stockbridge, Mass.
Client/Owner Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health
Architect Peter Rose + Partners—Peter Rose, AIA (design principal); Peter Guggenheimer, AIA (managing principal); Erkin Ozay, William Bryant (project managers); Matthew Snyder, Amy Beckman, AIA, Jon Chase, Duong Bui, Van Wilkes Fowlkes, Louis Kraft (architects)
Mechanical Engineer Icor Associates
Structural Engineer Richmond So Engineers
Electrical Engineer Icor Associates
Civil Engineer SK Design Group
Construction Manager Barr & Barr Inc., Builders
Landscape Architect Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates
Lighting Designer Lam Partners
Climate Engineer Transsolar Klimaengineering
Size 34,000 square feet
Cost $15.3 million

Materials and Sources

Carpet Milliken Floor Covering
Ceilings Custom-fabricated metal ceiling panels
Concrete Exposed cast-in-place concrete
Flooring Wooden Kiwi Productions (yoga room); Forbo Group; Marmoleum (resilient sheet flooring, guest rooms)
Furniture Architect-designed and locally fabricated
Glass PPG Industries (exterior glazing, Solarban 60); Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope (bathroom door glazing)
Lighting Litelab Corp. (track lighting); Edge Lighting (bedroom light sconce); RSA Lighting by Cooper Lighting (corridor recessed lighting, bathroom lighting)
Metal Shepard Steel (custom-fabricated metal window guards, exterior sliding cedar sunshade frames, and perforated-steel ceiling screen); Powerstrut (sliding track system)
Millwork Tibbetts Woodworking
Plumbing and Water System American Standard (guest room shower fixtures, sinks); Kohler
Roofing Sika Sarnafil (roofing membrane)
Structural System Cast-in-place concrete frame (primary structure) left exposed in guest room, lobby, and parts of the exterior
Windows, Curtainwalls, and Doors Wausau Window and Wall Systems (guest room sliding windows, curtainwall); Kawneer (entry doors, installed and fabricated by Chandler Architectural Products); Building Specialties (steel guest room doors installation and fabrication); Omnia Industries (bathroom door hardware)

By:Joseph Giovannini

January 22, 2011

Housing For Residétapes | Barré Lambot Architectes

Housing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe RuaultHousing For Residétapes / TRIPODE © Philippe Ruaultplan 01 plan 01plan 02 plan 02plan 03 plan 03

Architects: Barré Lambot Architectes + J. Béranger and S. Vincent
Location: Rue André Tardieu, 44200 
Collaborators: Florence MARTY, AREST, ISOCRATE
Project area: 4,400 sqm
Project year: 2007 – 2009
Photographs: Philippe Ruault

This housing complex takes place on the western limit of a block, facing the future business district. The location on the Loire basin contributes at the desire to provide housing multiple unobstructed views of the city. 137 housing units “studio type” of an area of 21 sqm each are organized on 11 levels and are served by two lifts and inner circulations with daylight. A meeting room is located in west front on the 11th floor. Residents get the benefit of a vast garden at first floor, designed by Florence Marty, landscape architect.

This mix of programs (office / residential) and the common structural principles formally identified the housing part:

– by a separate volume

– by a different the skin : the facades is made of champagne color aluminum panels,

– by the pattern of the façade including double height living rooms glazing

– by the ground treatment of the building facing the basin, as a glazed base containing a brasserie.

Each room’s benefit of two windows (floor to ceiling) assuring a good quality of use.


January 22, 2011

Red Boats. Argenteuil by Claude Monet

January 22, 2011

The Etang des Soeurs, Osny by Paul Cézanne

January 22, 2011

Building civilisation

Richard Rogers is celebrated for his many stunning buildings and his pioneering views on sustainable cities – not bad for a man who, as a child, was told he was lazy and stupid. At 72, and with two major new projects just opening, what has been his motto? Never take ‘no’ for an answer. By Geraldine Bedell

As a boy, Richard Rogers was dismissed as stupid and sent to a school for backward children. When he eventually escaped from formal education (having stayed much too long in an attempt to pass at least one exam), it was to become one of Britain’s best-loved and most-admired architects. Knighted in 1991, made a life peer in 1996, he has overcome his dyslexia to become the conscience of our public spaces, persuading the nation that the design of our cities is a symptom and predicator of our social health. He has done as much as anyone to promote the idea that by building well, we civilise ourselves, become culturally and emotionally enriched.

Last week saw the opening of the largest project ever undertaken by the Richard Rogers Partnership (RRP): a new terminal at Madrid’s Barajas Airport, more than one million square metres of buildings with a budget of €1bn. This teeming hub, punctuated by light-filled courtyards and topped with a soothing, seagull-wing bamboo roof, is a typical Rogers project: integrated into the urban fabric, preoccupied not just by the needs of the client, but by the city as a whole.

It has been a big week for the RRP, because the new Welsh Assembly building also opened for business (though it won’t be formally inaugurated by Prince Charles until St David’s Day, on 1 March). Originally commissioned in 1988, the Assembly building may have been a long time coming, but it has been worth waiting for. The steel, glass slate and timber structure overlooking the sea, with its transparency and public spaces, looks set to become one of Britain’s finest modern monuments.

You’d never guess from Lord Rogers’s schedule or, indeed, anything much else about him that he is in his seventies. He even speaks fast, the Italian-inflected words tumbling over one another in their urgency to get out of his head, presumably before he has to leave them behind and get on another plane. Each time I’ve seen him in the past few months, he’s been about to leave for somewhere else, mostly New York, where the RRP is building a convention centre ‘as wide as Central Park’ on the banks of the Hudson.

‘When we were in competition for the convention centre, they said, “If we give you this, you do realise we’ll expect you to be here 45 days without leave?” I said, “I’m much too important.”‘ He laughs, because this is a joke, although at another level, it obviously isn’t at all. ‘But Ruthie nudged me and whispered, “Come on, it’s New York!” So I agreed.’

So now he’s stuck with it, although he’s been staying with the fourth of his five sons, who lives in a downtown loft. And he does manage to sneak back to London from time to time. He’d spent the day before we talked advising Ken Livingstone, with whom he works closely. The day after, he was taking 130 people from the office to the Welsh Assembly for a celebratory ‘picnic’.

Working in New York has been an odd experience, Rogers says, because for pretty much the first time since the Pompidou Centre, he has been required to concentrate on just one thing. Most of the time, being chairman of the RRP involves being surrounded by a swirl of activity. There are big projects, like Madrid Airport, or Terminal Five at Heathrow, or the competition to redesign Darling Harbour, Sydney (they’re down to the last five); and there are small ones, like a £60,000 house (to prove that inexpensive housing can be other than Disneyfied), or a Maggie’s Centre, up the road from the office.

This last is particularly dear to Rogers’s heart. He knew Maggie Keswick Jencks, in whose name the centres are being built, before her early death from breast cancer. He was an admirer of her classic book on Chinese gardens and knows her husband, architecture critic Charles Jencks. ‘In fact,’ he says, looking around the River Cafe, ‘she had a wonderful dinner here when she was in remission.’

Maggie’s Centres offer all kinds of non-medical support for cancer patients; this one, in the grounds of Charing Cross Hospital, will be the first outside Scotland, where Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid have designed others. And it faces a particular problem of having to create a homely and unharassed space abutting the noisy, ugly Fulham Palace Road.

This is more of a problem for the RRP than it might be for many firms of architects, because if anything links Rogers’s multifarious, differently scaled projects, it is concern for the spaces between and around buildings.

Much of the design drive in the company nowadays, observers will tell you, comes from two younger partners, Graham Stirk and Ivan Harbour. But Rogers himself continues to supply two crucial qualities: a flair for bringing talented people together and the presiding ethic of public space. Rogers tells me his 90-year-old mother-in-law likes to sit on the front steps of their house (actually two houses knocked together, where she has a flat in the basement) and watch the world go by. ‘We should all be able to sit on the stoop,’ he says. He is essentially a social being, a believer in the creative possibilities of spending time with other people. His wife, Ruthie, claims: ‘I have never heard Richard say, “I need more time alone”‘, and he tells me, laughing, that ‘our living room’s a piazza’.

He claims to be able to focus even when surrounded by people. ‘I concentrate well. I love working in cafes. When I was a child in Trieste, there was a little Austrian cafe opposite our apartment. An accountant used to arrive every day at 9am and they’d bring him a coffee and a telephone and there he would work all day. When I was about six, I thought that was the ideal life.’

Richard Rogers was born in Italy in 1933 to Anglo-Italian parents. His father was a doctor, his mother a potter and, as upper-middle-class continentals, they had Bauhaus furniture. His cousin was the leading Italian architect of the post-war period. He grew up, he says, ‘without the post-war English fear of the new’.

The family moved to England in 1939, an uncomfortable time to be Italian at prep school, even if you weren’t dyslexic. And Rogers was, profoundly. ‘The one advantage of being dyslexic,’ he says now, ‘is that you are never tempted to look back and idealise your childhood.’ He remembers having to learn English – ‘it was moderately painful and everyone would laugh’ – but this was nothing to the sense of being dismissed as stupid. ‘Dyslexia wasn’t recognised and so the assumption was that you were incapable of thinking. I lost confidence. It was very disabling for about 20 years of my life.’

Now that he is surrounded by people who can sort out his spelling and syntax, he says the only visible, troublesome remnant of his dyslexia is ‘occasional word blindness, especially if I’m talking to two or three people. Sometimes, if Ruthie’s there, she just fills in the word. But the curious thing is it doesn’t happen when I’m lecturing, or otherwise under pressure.’

He resists attributing too much to his Italian heritage, but sitting in his wife’s River Cafe restaurant, it is hard to ignore it. He loves food. His mother’s cooking influenced both Ruthie and Rose Gray, her partner in the River Cafe. He is beautifully dressed in a soft, lemon-coloured cashmere sweater, a shade with which few Englishmen would be entirely comfortable. And though he recalls being embarrassed by his mother’s bright clothes as a prep-school boy, he says now: ‘I don’t understand why everyone has to wear black, grey and white.’

He is Piazza Person, happy on the square and in the street, conversing, engaging with other people. And family is of profound importance to him, as is passion. The two collided when he met Ruthie. He was in his mid-thirties, she was a 19-year-old American liberal arts student on a gap year. He was married, to Su Brumwell, who also happened to be his business partner (they had started Team 4 with Norman Foster and his wife, Wendy) and they had three young children.

He seems somehow to have effected a compromise in which both passion and family retained their primacy. He mentions Su with gratitude a couple of times during the course of our conversation. He and Ruthie, meanwhile, remain close to all his five children and nine grandchildren. When I suggest that the primacy of family might be an Italian thing, too, he says: ‘I don’t know where that comes from. Ruthie is very similar to me in that and she is Jewish. There is a Jewish tradition of family, too, but then not all Italian or Jewish families are close. My mother was very family-oriented. And I do love being with my children.’

The office too, also, is not unlike a family. ‘We have Friday-night drinks and we do a lot of things like going to Wales tomorrow for our celebration. Practically no one ever leaves.’ Robert Booth, editor of Building Design, says: ‘Rogers’s technique is to create a magic inner circle that is a very attractive place to be, though if you’re not in it, it feels quite painful. If you were to draw a family tree of his connections – and some of it is literally a family tree – you’d have a very powerful network that extends across business and politics.’

Seeing little division between work, leisure and family, and constantly trying to erode those that exist, he will presumably go on working forever? ‘No. We have a constitution that stipulates that after the age of 70, the chairman has to renew his contract each year. So, at some point [his shiny eyes get twinklier], they will probably decide they’ve had enough of me. Part of my job is to prepare for that changeover. But I’d like to think I’ll continue to be able to do some work, even if I’m not chairman.’ There’s a question mark in the profession over whether the practice will continue to be successful without him, Booth claims – ‘not for lack of talent, which is undisputed, but because so much of the practice is based on power and networking across the globe.’

As well as having had the opportunity to build all over the world, one of the first generation of architects for whom this has been possible, and some achievement for someone who couldn’t get A-levels, he has become an important political voice, insisting in the face of greedy, unimaginative builders and incompetent planning that good design leads to social inclusion.

Last autumn, he published an updated Urban Task Force report, an essay by the government-appointed team he led six years ago. The brief then was to report on the state of the nation’s urban centres. The updated bulletin welcomes a new political focus on cities but warns against too much piecemeal, kitsch development, as well as low standards (‘we have the worst standards of contemporary housing in the whole of western Europe’), too many overlapping regeneration bodies, plus the lack of real city and regional power, and the continued trend towards monocultural enclaves. It was powerful stuff, with stinging political implications.

Some critics argue that he’s been beating the same drum for too long. But in the face of increasing suburban creep, of the Americanisation of cities, his belief in the city as big piazza bears reiterating. Of course, not everyone has always admired either his architecture or his views. Prince Charles was pretty hostile for a time. ‘He was an unfortunate influence. We definitely lost quite a lot of work as a direct result. But you become phlegmatic about these things. When we were doing the Pompidou Centre, we didn’t have a single piece of positive press in the entire six years, other than one very memorable piece in the New York Times. We were torn to pieces until the day the doors opened. Then overnight, the media changed. There’s a danger in taking too much to heart what people say about you – the good as well as the bad. Your assessment of what you do has to come from closer to home.

‘Nobody likes to be directly attacked. Ruthie tells me not to read bad press, but it’s hard not to. Dyslexia, though, made me realise that people who say “but you can’t do that” aren’t actually very important. I don’t take “no” too seriously.’