Jean Nouvel, winner of the 2008 Pritzker Prize, has been mentioned in the media frequently enough to not blindside me like the 2006 winner, Paulo Mendes da Rocha. But this is the first time I've really paid any attention to Nouvel. And not because he just won the Pritzker. His projects are interesting, but none of them have ever caught my attention quite like the Guthrie Theater, especially in the photo the NY Times used.
Cantilevers are so hot
I love big monolithic statements, and the cantilevered lobby known as the "Endless Bridge" hangs in the air with brutish disregard of Newton's Universal Law of Gravitation. At 178' long and 30' wide, the Endless Bridge is one of the longest occupied cantilevers in the world. Views from the bridge are set on predetermined sightlines looking out onto the Mississippi River falls and landscape. The way it terminates looks pretty interesting, seems as though it should dock with another cantilever. Very teched out looking. That's great, really. But what about the space underneath the cantilever? How does it feel to be occupying space under a hulking mass of metal and glass? Saw the space underneath it in some Flickr images, bet it'll be really exciting to stand under it AND in the middle of a busy road.
Where it all began
My love of cantilevers began in the summer of '99 when I first arrived at Carnegie Mellon for summer studio. During the conceptual stage for our final project (a private residence by the river for a well known director / artist, I'm sure Tomo remembers the name), I plopped in a long cantilever for no good reason. It must have been 200 meters long and it probably didn't have much functionality. By the time I made it to my last iteration, the cantilever was removed for good.
Fast forward five years, in my final project for second semester fifth year studio (as in... final final), I managed to incorporate a ridiculous 200 meter cantilever, extending Forbes Avenue (closed off to vehicular traffic) over the Boulevard of the Allies and I-376. This time, the reasoning was to extend the promenade out over the hideous highways and getting the pedestrians closer to the rivers that made Pittsburgh so unique. The cantilever stuck, but my final project lacked detail (kinda tough since senioritis set in and the scale of it was a bit out of hand) so I got ripped apart in my final crit. No matter, I got closure.
Pritzker, it's legit
2007's Pritzker winner, Richard Rogers, passed me by without much fanfare. In my little world, he's more well known than Nouvel, but his projects never got me to raise my eyebrows either. I've passed by his Patscentre down in Princeton many times but I never had the urge to pull over and take a closer view. Great architecture should do that. 2006's winner, Paulo Mendes da Rocha, was definitely an unknown, but one image of the Paulistano Athletic Club in São Paulo, Brazil caught my interest immediately.
Anyway, can someone please tell the Pritzker Architectural Prize committee that they need to get a more legit looking site up? Their current site looks like it's from the mid 90s and done with AOLPress. It's a total disservice to the Pritzker which many have referred to as the Nobel of architecture. Those outside the industry would never realize how important the Pritzker is by taking a look at their site.
Architectural Tour of Minneapolis
Since Nouvel's only project in Manhattan, 40 Mercer Street, doesn't have a cantilever (great looking facade though, and apparently with great detailing too, I love the color of the panels, and that blue glass louvered canopy is pretty sweet if a bit out of context), I went searching for other interesting projects in the Twin Cities area, found this informative video on Cool Hunting. Looks like that free roundtrip ticket I got from Dockers will be going towards a trip to Minneapolis (hopefully Minneapolis is one of the available choices)!
Additional photos of the Guthrie Theater on Flickr.