Press Office Exhibition

Innovative Waterfront Architecture On View At SFMOMA

Released: August 15, 2002 · Download (23 KB PDF)

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will present Architecture + Water, an exhibition of five recent international architectural projects that integrate water and design, from November 16, 2002, through March 23, 2003. Architecture + Water explores the challenges encountered when designing buildings on or near water—a critical issue for San Francisco and other cities where waterfront architecture and development are increasingly linked with economic progress and quality-of-life concerns. The exhibition includes models, drawings and video animations, as well as a contextual timeline of images of contemporary and historical architectural projects that have a provocative relationship with water. The projects showcased (all of them built or under construction) are the Yokohoma International Port Terminal in Japan, by Foreign Office Architects; Blur Building in Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland, by Diller + Scofidio; Quattro Villa in Ypenburg, The Hague, Netherlands, by MVRDV; Lake Whitney Water Treatment Plant, Hamden, Connecticut, by Steven Holl Architects and Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.; and Blackfriars Station, London, by Alsop Architects.

Architecture + Water was organized by New York’s Van Alen Institute; curators of the exhibition are the award-winning architectural team Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis, whose work is in SFMOMA’s permanent collection. Overseeing the SFMOMA presentation is Joseph Rosa, the Museum’s Helen Hilton Raiser Curator of Architecture and Design.

States Rosa: “This exhibition is not merely about architecture that happens to be by the waterfront; rather it presents designs that embrace the context of the waterfront and look at it in compelling and innovative new ways. These projects, by a roster of the most talented architects at work today, show how powerful the combination of design and function can be.”

A list of the included projects and their designers follows.

Foreign Office Architects (London)
Yokohama International Port Terminal
Yokohama, Japan

The Yokohama International Port Terminal was the winning design in a 1995 competition that attracted more than 700 entries. Designed by Foreign Office Architects (FOA), the terminal is located on Yokohama’s historic eight-acre Osanbashi pier. Situated between two parks and a sports stadium, the project functions as a busy seaport terminal as well as gateway to Yokohama and an extension of the city’s surrounding public spaces. The Yokohama project represents a radical rethinking of architectural conventions, replacing the typical linear structure of piers with a fluid, multidirectional space. FOA based their design on a circulation diagram of interlocking loops made of folding steel, resistant to earthquake stresses and evocative of the shipbuilding industry.

Foreign Office Architects is a pioneering architectural practice founded in London in 1992 with an office in Japan. Principal partners Farshid Moussavi and Alejandro Zaera Polo are Unit Masters at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, London, and have been visiting critics at Princeton and Columbia Universities. Current projects include a publishing headquarters in Paju City, Korea, and a park and open air auditorium in Barcelona, Spain. Completed projects include London’s New Belgo restaurant and Bermondsey Antiques Market.

Diller + Scofidio (New York)
Blur Building
Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland

Blur Building was designed as a temporary structure for the Swiss EXPO 2002, which was installed from May 15 through October 20, 2002. Blur Building appears to be a cloud floating above Lake Neuchâtel in Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland, just north of Lake Geneva. A striking feature of this design is an artificial nimbus created by atomizing lake water under high pressure through some 32,000 fog nozzles arranged on a framework of steel cables and rods. The nozzles are computer controlled to respond to temperature, wind and humidity in order to provide a constant, but changing, cloud around the building. Visitors may opt to wear plastic raincoats as they enter; at night the fog becomes a screen for projected images.

Diller + Scofidio is an award-winning interdisciplinary studio combining art, architecture and the performing arts. Their work has been in the permanent collection of SFMOMA since 1997. Elizabeth Diller is an associate professor of architecture at Princeton University, and Ricardo Scofidio is professor of architecture at The Cooper Union in New York. In addition to winning a MacArthur Fellowship Award in 1999, they were awarded a major grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in the same year.

MVRDV (Rotterdam)
Quattro Villa
Ypenburg, The Hague, Netherlands


The Dutch firm MVRDV created its prototype Quattro Villa, a four-unit apartment house, as a response to the rapid proliferation of private dwellings along the shores of lakes in the Netherlands. Quattro Villa eliminates the shoreline crowding effects of single-family units by placing four adjoining but individual villas on large, raised concrete cores that enclose plumbing, electrical wiring and entryways. Because Quattro Villa is raised 40 feet above the reclaimed marsh, or polder, on which it is built, the view of the water from inland vantage points is not obstructed. Each multilevel villa has a sundeck and patio, along with semipublic areas for parking and recreation at lake level.

MVRDV was established in Rotterdam by Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries. Their projects include the Netherlands Pavilion for EXPO 2000, a six-level structure where each floor represented a landscape, demonstrating how to build ecologically on an area of small landmass. Other proposals for multistory, compact structures include Pig City, 2001, a high-rise featuring more than 40 pig farms stacked 500 meters high. Other projects include the headquarters building for the avant-garde radio, television and film production company VPRO, built in 1997; and the Wozoco apartment complex for the elderly in west Amsterdam (Westelijke Tuinsteden), built in 1994. In 1998 MVRDV published FARMAX: An Excursion in Density (010 Publishers).

Steven Holl Architects (New York)
Landscape design by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. (Cambridge, Massachusetts, and New York)

Lake Whitney Water Treatment Plant
Hamden, Connecticut
Scheduled for completion in 2004

The team of architect Stephen Holl and landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh produced the design for the Lake Whitney Water Treatment Plant, situated on a 12-acre public park in Hamden, Connecticut. The buildings as well as the multiuse landscape design draw inspiration from the stages of the water purification process, and the park itself acts as a natural filtration system. The central design feature of the main building—a hallway in the form of a long stainless-steel tube that resembles an extruded water droplet—establishes a visual metaphor for the facility’s function. The park design has areas reserved for quiet activities, such as reading and walking, as well as more active pursuits.

Steven Holl Architects was established in 1976. In 1999 SFMOMA accessioned and exhibited Edge of a City, Holl’s project for re-envisioning and counteracting sprawl at the periphery of cities. Recently, Holl received a National A.I.A. Award for Design Excellence for the Chapel of St. Ignatius in Seattle, Washington. Other major projects include the Bellevue Art Museum near Seattle; the New Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki; and a retail and housing development in Chiba, Japan.

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. was founded in 1982 and has since directed the design and construction of more than 300 landscape projects worldwide, including the expansion of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, a project for the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board. Van Valkenburgh is a Charles Eliot Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. In 1994 he published Design with the Land: Landscape Architecture of Michael Van Valkenburgh (Princeton Architectural Press).

Alsop Architects (London, Moscow, Hamburg)
Blackfriars Station
Scheduled for completion in 2005

Blackfriars Station, part of Thameslink 2000, a riverfront development project, is a plan for improving an existing train station on a bridge spanning the Thames River. Alsop Architects’ design integrates a new train station onto the existing 19th-century bridge and places the arrival and departure platforms in the center of the span, over the water. Blackfriars Station has an innovative roof design of angled aluminum and carbon fiber panels interspersed with glass openings that run the length of the bridge. The station will play a critical role in providing badly needed mainline rail links across London from north to south, situated in a once blighted neighborhood of warehouses and docks.

Alsop Architects is an award-winning architectural and planning practice with offices in London, Moscow and Hamburg. The firm’s most celebrated projects include the Regional Government Headquarters Building in Marseilles, France; the Hamburg Ferry terminal; the Cardiff Bay Visitor’s Center; and a new Library and Media Center in Peckham, London, for which the firm won the prestigious Stirling Award for Building of the Year, 2000, given by The Royal Institute of British Architects.

Architecture + Water is a Van Alen Institute Project in Public Architecture. Major support was provided by Van Alen Institute, New York State Council on the Arts, The Stephen A. and Diana L. Goldberg Foundation and Cornell University of College of Architecture, Art, and Planning.

The San Francisco presentation is generously supported by an anonymous donor.

Jill Lynch 415.357.4172 jilynch@sfmoma.org
Clara Hatcher Baruth 415.357.4177 chatcher@sfmoma.org
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