Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Rafael Viñoly talks Wright, new hospital, at the Logan Center for the Arts

click images for larger view
Architect Rafael Viñoly was at the University of Chicago last night, speaking in the Performance Hall of the new Tod Williams/Billie Tsien Reva and David Logan Center for Arts, about to open with its own Logan Launch Festival this Friday through Saturday.  (Normally, I'd link to the architect's website, but the Rafael Viñoly Architects url is currently popping up a malware alert, so here's a link to his Wikipedia entry.)

Viñoly gave a preview of the thinking behind the newly christened University of Chicago Center for Care and Discovery, a $700 million, 10-story, 1.2 million square foot facility scheduled to open early next year.  The design is based on a 31'6" x 31'6" x 18' basic module extruded out to a building that's 570 feet long, 180 feet wide, and 198 feet high.  The actual inpatient rooms are on the top three floors, just above an inset sky lobby, providing both patients and visitors views out over the rooftops of the University and, to the north, the complete Chicago skyline.

I hope to be writing a lot more about this structure as we near the opening.  (Right now I'm working on finishing up my interview/tour with Tod Williams and Billie Tsien of the Logan Center.) For the moment, we'll just give you a little bit of Viñoly talking about Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House . . .
. . . which was brilliantly reflected in Viñoly's own design for the Booth School of Business, just across the street . . .
 Says Viñoly . . .
Architecture is the art of the specific. There’s nothing open-ended or undetermined in architecture. It’s not, as some people used to say in the early 70’s, an autonomous discipline. There couldn’t be anything less autonomous than architecture. There’s money involved, there’s uses involved, there’s science, technology, a number of things which are more exactly parallel to the kinds of instruments and use of information than to the mastery of the craft as it happens in traditional visual art.
I think that what is remarkable in Wright’s work is the fact that he wasn’t doing the Prairie Style simply as a stylistic approach. He was pursuing a research on a proportional system and overall a compositional system that wasn’t even actually invented up until that point. If you put that in context with what was happening in Europe, it’s also a completely different approach than what modernism was based on, which was in appropriating images and ideas from painting and from the traditional arts and try to create a reality, a new philosophy.
What the Robie House does is fundamentally investigate the one thing I think unifies all architecture, which is the phenomenally subtle play of proportions and scale.
Viñoly's lecture was sponsored by Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust, and was an early event this this year's edition of the incredible Chicago Ideas Week.

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