Beyond Buildings


Built for Speed

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Yas Hotel


Beauty comes in the strangest places in the United Arab Emirates. After the Burj Khalifa (see my previous posts), my vote for the most stunning—and most weird—building would be the Yas Hotel: two ovoid structures straddling a Formula One track on Yas Island, a 25-square-kilometer development zone on Abu Dhabi’s southern edge. Designed by New York’s Asymptote Architecture, Yas is the largest structure to present that firm’s principals'—Hani Rashid and Lise Anne Couture—principles.


The big move here is a grid shell structure comprising 5,800 (count ’em) “pivoting diamond-shaped glass panels.” It is essentially a veil the designers threw over the two structures to unify the 500-room twin. The raging racers pull the building apart, the crystalline veil pulls it back together. The structure has some environmental benefits but, given the fact that these are glass panels, each a different size and at a different angle, this insanely expensive invention is mainly there to be gorgeous. Oh, yes, it also lights up, making it the world's largest LED screen.


Yas Hotel at night


Given the other fact that Asymptote like to make sculptures that combine forms they scanned into a computer from cars, bodies, and buildings (two of them are on display in the hotel lobby), it is not too far-fetched to say that the undulating shell refers to the shells draped over the compacted bodies of the Formula 1 machines, the decorative sunscreens that give recessive desert structures an alluring sense of human-made identity, and the equally seductive burqas worn by the emirate women.


Below this lifted-up dress or transparent cowl, the building is a stack of thin concrete plates painted white and separated by floor-to-ceiling, continuous glass, resting on an undulating plinth containing services and parking. A bridge with a stretched oculus connects the two structures. The architects scooped a rooftop pool out of the mass and crammed the base full with eight restaurants and the usual convention facilities. There is not a right angle to be found, either on the outside or in the elongated passageways that turn into lobbies and gathering spaces to form the public interiors.


I had to wonder what happens there when there is not a race going on. When I visited, the hotel seemed sparsely populated, but then again the whole Yas Island complex, which includes the racetrack, a Warner Brothers theme park, office and residential neighborhoods, and the world’s largest indoor theme park, Ferrari World—a hideous, bright-red undulating stain designed by Benoy Architects of London—was still very much under construction. Even so, the hotel seems built for speed, in particular of the machines cruising by and under it, justifying both its forms (including the odd split solved by the grid structure) and its very existence.


No matter. If that is what it takes to give these architects an excuse to create this veil over this pile of curves, showing us how sensuous technology can be while fusing space into the kind of coherence the computer has been promising us for more than a decade, then perhaps it is worth it. In the emirates, the Yas Hotel remains an oasis of continuous curves in a desert of frenetic form and bland boxes.



Comments (5 Total)

  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 8:45 AM Sunday, September 09, 2012

    Its not a matter of money but a matter of metaphor

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  • Posted by: bfbdeesk | Time: 2:42 PM Saturday, April 24, 2010

    As AI and architecture mediate and control their mutual interactions metaphoric axioms will have cognitive impact on both the future of architecture and AI because there is common metaphor between natural (NI) and artificial intelligence (AI). The inference warrants that for both architectures’ (AI and building) , master builder is an interdisciplinary, multi-crafted and multi-venue team, They are also both arts since they wed intentional ideas to craft and they both make metaphors, the commonality to all the arts. While “architect” actually means master builder and “architecture” the product of the master builder, this is historically identified with habitable buildings. The warrant to the inference of the resolution is that the computer industries (and virtual designers) have made a metaphor referring to the word “architecture” with its conceptual design and fundamental operational structures of computer systems. Already, IT and AI industry metaphorically compare their sciences and art of selecting and interconnecting hardware components to create computers that meet functional, performance and cost goals with the ways and means traditional architects design buildings. There is an interconectivity between the metaphor of computer’s instruction set architecture, or ISA, machine language (or assembly language), Microarchitecture and system design. Theoretically, I warrant that the as the body and mind of AI has identified itself with “architecture” there is an opportunity to use those links to apply and manage risks of AI to building architecture. However, benign, risks include operating system downtime, programming errors, inaccuracy in labeling and dimensions, misreading building codes, local ordinances, misinterpreting FEMA regulations and potential tampering with building security systems. . Further risks include erroneous selection of material and building systems that may expose architects to errors and omissions suits, so many of the general and specific axioms guidelines can be uploaded into the AI architectural system. So with AI potential risk [ff] what can be the impact of artificial intelligence on the future of building architecture?

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  • Posted by: bfbdeesk | Time: 1:59 PM Wednesday, March 03, 2010

    Greetings! As the literary metaphor your works of architecture are made with technical and conceptual metaphors which become an architectural metaphor. I'd like to offer my research for possible use in your future work: “Architecture: the making of metaphors”. Your suggestions would be welcome. Buildings are the products of programming, design and construction You can look at the profession of architecture as the process or product. Architecture: the making of metaphors is concerned primarily with the process. Buildings seen by users, public and scholars are incidental and as beauty in the eyes of the beholder. As anything in the landscape can be received as a metaphor and perceived metaphorically. But primarily they are the result of a metaphoric process and as such are metaphors; perceived or not. How is architecture: the making of metaphors changing everything about architecture as we know it from the way it was practiced before? Why architecture: the making of metaphors fills a need. It declares that: • Read: in order to be read buildings must be authored and readers made literate • Art: Involving craft and technique architecture is an art; whether read or not is ever-present in our environment and constitutes our context • Aesthetic: whether read, authored or artful building’s aesthetic must be appreciated by beholder. • Function: Aesthetic, artful, unread or un-authored if it doesn’t shelter to its peculiar demand the work is irrelevant and abandoned. Researched Publications: Refereed and Peer-reviewed Journals: Barie Fez-Barringten; "monographs": 1. "Architecture the making of metaphors" Main Currents in Modern Thought/Center for Integrative Education; Sep.-Oct. 1971, Vol. 28 No.1, New Rochelle, New York. 2."Schools and metaphors" Main Currents in Modern Thought/Center for Integrative Education Sep.-Oct. 1971, Vol. 28 No.1, New Rochelle, New York. 3."User's metametaphoric phenomena of architecture and Music": “METU” (Middle East Technical University: Ankara, Turkey): May 1995" Journal of the Faculty of Architecture 4."Metametaphors and Mondrian: Neo-plasticism and its' influences in architecture" Unpublished, 1993 5. "The Metametaphor of architectural education", North Cypress, Turkish University. December, 1997 6."Mosques and metaphors" Unpublished, 1993 7."The basis of the metaphor of Arabia" Unpublished, 1993 8."The conditions of Arabia in metaphor" Unpublished, 1993 9. "The metametaphor theorem" Architectural Scientific Journal, Vol. No. 8; 1994 Beirut Arab University. 10. "Arabia’s metaphoric images" Unpublished, 1993 11."The context of Arabia in metaphor" Unpublished, 1993 12. "A partial metaphoric vocabulary of Arabia" “Architecture: University of Technology in Datutop; February 1995 Finland 13."The Aesthetics of the Arab architectural metaphor" “International Journal for Housing Science and its applications” Coral Gables, Florida.1993 14."Multi-dimensional metaphoric thinking" Open House, September 1997: Vol. 22; No. 3, United Kingdom: Newcastle uponTyne 15."Teaching the techniques of making architectural metaphors in the twenty-first century.” Journal of King Abdul Aziz University Engg...Sciences; Jeddah: Code: BAR/223/0615:OCT.2.1421 H. 12TH EDITION; VOL.I 16. “Word Gram #9” Permafrost: Vol.31 Summer 2009 University of Alaska Fairbanks; ISSN: 0740-7890; page 197 17. "Metaphors and Architecture." October, MIT 18. “Metaphor as an inference from sign”; University of Syracuse Journal of enterprise Architecture; November 2009 19. “Framing the art vs. architecture argument”; Brunel University (West London); BST: Body, Space & Technology Journal: Feb. 2010 The title: “Architecture: The Making of Metaphors” is the exact title, including the colon, of the 1967 Yale lecture series Benefit of “Architecture: The Making of Metaphors” is that after learning the contents of “Architecture: The Making of Metaphors” readers should be able to mange the design process and better enjoy the built environment. Phenomenology: For any one individual “Architecture: The Making of Metaphors” is predicated by a personal encounter of both sense and mind. Kant’s phenomenon philosophy and [34] Berleant’s approach to aesthetics-view object as it is perceived by the senses. So after having derived and developed the ideas of architecture as the making of metaphors it still behooves readers to realize the phenomenon and epiphany to enjoying both the process and read of design and the environment. Architecture: the making of metaphors is more than an idea but phenomena and as such is the immediate object of awareness in experience. In earlier monographs I quoted [6] Husserl and others noting the Dasein of the metaphor and the epiphany of the revelation that architecture: the making of metaphors. However, without the combination of life experience of perception and design that transforms; where neither time, neither space nor substance matters except the sanctified and set apart aesthetic experience of creation. It is that special awareness during design and inhabiting buildings where the phenomenon of the architecture and metaphors lives. When you get it you know that you know, when there is an eclipse of the process with a product that achieves program. Table of contents 1. Introduction 2. Underlying assumptions about Metaphor 3. Metaphoric complementarities: Technical and Conceptual Metaphor &Implicit and Explicit/process 4. An architectural history of metaphors 5. Stasis –The heart of the Metaphor 6. Metaphoric Bundling: Metaphor from parts to whole 7. Metaphor with comparisons 8. Metaphor as an Inference from Sign (correlations) Establishing Likeness 9 Cause and effect of Metaphor of works of architecture 10. Aesthetics as Commonplace of Metaphor 11. What makes a good Metaphor (validity and fallacies?) 12 Metaphor between surrogates (company, family, school, etc) (Private and Non-Professional Metaphor) 13. Framing the art [A] vs. architecture argument 14. The Six Ways in which architecture works as a metaphor with warrants to the inference 15. Design Construction Making a Metaphor 16. Reification

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  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 10:48 AM Wednesday, January 20, 2010

    De facto Mr. Betsky... the fulfillment of a long waited promise from our increasingly sophisticated technology, combined with a client with a vast access to money.

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  • Posted by: wcpfeiffer | Time: 11:41 AM Wednesday, January 13, 2010


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About the Blogger

Aaron Betsky

thumbnail image Aaron Betsky is the director of the Cincinnati Art Museum, and in 2008 he was director of the 11th Venice International Architecture Biennale. Trained as an architect at Yale, he has published more than a dozen books on art, architecture, and design and teaches and lectures about design around the world. Aaron worked for Frank O. Gehry and Associates and Hodgetts & Fung Design Associates as a designer, taught for many years at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, and between 1995 and 2001 was curator of architecture and design at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. From 2001 to 2006 he was director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.