Architecture & Design

Obama Presidential Library Site to be Announced in March 2015

View of Wenyi, Junsheng, Yiang designView of Wenyi, Junsheng, Yiang design The Barack Obama Presidential Library Foundation is slated to announce the decision for the location of the library by the end of the March 2015.  Three cities associated with the president — Honolulu, New York (where he completed his undergraduate degree) and Chicago — are vying to be the site and indications now point to Chicago being chosen. 

In 2014, the Chicago Architectural Club based its annual design contest on the library theme.  The two winners — Aras Burak Sen and the team of Zhu Wenyi, Fu Junsheng and Liang Yiang — both envisioned circular structures.  The Wenyi, Junsheng, Yiang design bears wording from Obama’s “We must be the change we seek” speech on the roof.

Several views and elevation plans for the winning designs are shown in the Chicago Architectural Club’s announcement.

David Adjaye Rumored to Get the Library Commission

Aras Burak Sen designThe winning Chicago Architectural Club designs are as speculative as they are striking.  David Adjaye is rumored to be Obama’s architect of choice for the library commission.

But the rumor apparently has little objective basis besides the minor factor of Obama and Adjaye sharing a table at a state dinner at the White House. Obama and Adjaye also share mutual associations such as Henry Louis Gates, and Obama is aware that Adjaye designed the Smithsonian’s new Museum of African American History and Culture – also minor factors.  Apparently none move the speculation about the architect to a strong indication.  

Anyway, we should know the location soon, if not the architect.

Adjaye Update

David Adjaye with furniture he designed.With over 50 built projects across the world and participation in numerous projects at art museums and galleries, David Adjaye is not only a preeminent international figure in architecture, he’s also becoming a major art world player. 

Adjaye collaborated on the design of the 2015 Venice Art Biennale (May 9-November 22) with the exhibition’s curator Okwui Enwezor. And, in addition to designing the gallery space for the Cooper Gallery of African & African American Art, Adjaye co-curated the gallery’s first exhibition, Luminós/C/ity.Ordinary Joy: From the Pigozzi Contemporary African Art Collection.  The Cooper Gallery opened in Fall 2014 as part of Harvard University’s W.E.B. Dubois Research Institute.

Adjaye Associates and AB Studios. Moscow School of Management, Skolkovo, Russia, 2010. © Ed Reeve, courtesy of Adjaye Associates Entitled simply David Adjaye, an elaborate exhibition of his designs will be on view, September 19, 2015–January 3, 2016 at the Art Institute of Chicago. The show spans projects from furniture and housing to public buildings and master plans and features drawings, sketches, models and building mock-ups. 

The David Adjaye exhibition installation, not surprisingly, was designed by the subject himself.  In this instance, Adjaye again resists confinement to a single design discipline. He's scheduled to attend the show's gala opening on September 18. Many of his artist friends and collaborators from around the world also plan to attend. 

Next year, 2016, will be another banner year for Adjaye, culminating with the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) on the Mall in Washington, DC.  David Adjaye is lead designer for the project. (The architect of record is Phil Freelon.) NMAAHC curator Michelle Wilkinson writes about Adjaye’s design concepts for the building in the IRAAA Winter 2015 “On Architecture" Issue. "Imbued with the 'emotive' qualities Adjaye is known for integrating into his designs, the new museum promises to be a place that 'helps form your everyday psyche,' Wilkinson writes, quoting the architect.

Solar Energy Model House for Hampton University

Unit 6 house on the Mall, Washington, DC, 2011.Under the supervision of HU architecture professor David Peronnet, R.A., Hampton University architecture students have designed and will construct a solar-powered building called Canopy House on campus. The small building will be used as an energy institute for energy management and smart grid research.

The Canopy House project stems from the participation of Hampton University and Old Dominion University architecture students — Team Tidewater — in the US Department of Energy’s 2011 Solar Decathalon. One of 20 teams from around the world competing in the event on the Mall in Washington DC, Team Tidewater constructed Unit 6, a single-family house operating entirely on renewable energy. Twelve Hampton students were on Team Tidewater.

A new design, Canopy House, was planned for construction at the 2013 decathlon. Fundraising for the team’s decathlon participation was not complete in time for them to construct the house there but the they’re still considered “alumni” of the 2013 event because they provided all the design deliverables and a final report.

Now David Peronnet says, “our main focus is to complete Canopy House in a permanent location (on campus) as directed by by university administration.” 

The design philosophy and principles of Canopy House relate to the historic Emancipation Oak on Hampton's campus. In 1863, the local African American community gathered under the oak to hear the first Southern reading of the Emancipation Proclaimation and the first classes for the newly free children were held there. “Canopy” alludes the tree's safe, protective, over-arching leaves and branches.  Reflecting the Emancipation Oak tribute, the Canopy House "I-beams underneath the foundation act as roots, which support the core mechanical systems wall, or trunk," says Peronnet.  “This supports the branches that frame the solar panels overhead—seamlessly integrating function with an innovative, holistic design.”

In keeping with the earth-friendly design philosophy, the house's features include reclaimed wood, overhanging pergolas and materials and textures are inspired by the beauty of the land and surrounding Chesapeake Bay. A vertical garden outside the kitchen holds herbs and small vegetables.

Canopy House renderingCanopy House’s renewable energy aspects include:

A solar thermal system with a domestic hot water tank and a phase-change material tank can heat the living space and store thermal energy for later use—maintaining the operating temperature of the hot water tank for extended periods of time and supplying heat to the radiant flooring.

A HVAC system that uses a mini-split system which is both cost-effective and energy-efficient.

Outer walls made of load-bearing composite structural panels which are lightweight and highly resistant to heat transfer.

A tablet-based energy management system to help occupants make educated decisions about their energy-using activities and learn how the house gains or loses energy during the day and how much energy is accumulated during the month.

We'll provide updates on the progress of the House’s construction in this column.

The "Other Faces of Architecture" Campaign

June Grant. Photo: June Grant CollectionJune Grant, an Oakland CA-based architect says she learned “the dismal statistics regarding people of color” in architecture in preparing a slide show for a high school career day. “For 2015, rather than be a lone representative, I decided to share the room with as many architects as I could,” she says.  To do so, in late 2014 she created the “Other Faces of Architecture” page on her Blink!Lab company's website.  

Now, as videos as well as photographs are uploaded to the page, the “Other Faces of Architecture” is also becoming a hub for exchanging information.  The videos include public interest architect Liz Ogbu’s Ted-x talk on how she applies her design sensibility and skills to projects that have a social impact. These include the re-design of portable cooking stoves for people in African villages. Grant invites registered architects representing a broad range of “otherness” to show their faces and share their energy in that space.  "Assembled, we represent a variety of migratory and emerging cultures — from the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin America, to the Native American and LGBTQ communities," she says. 

June Grant, whose skills include employing emerging technologies in architectural design, and Liz Ogbu are among the architects profiled in the IRAAA Winter 2015 “On Architecture” issue.

IRAAA+ articles of related interest: 

Design for International African American Museum Wins Top Award 

Memorial to the Abolition of Slavery in Nantes, France