The Architect Newswire is an aggregation of news from media outlets around the world, intended to keep you abreast of all of the industry’s important developments. The stories we feature are not reported, edited, or fact-checked by Architect’s staff.

THE NEW YORK TIMES
Gehry to design “Don Giovanni” set
Frank Gehry, FAIA, architect of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, is now designing a set for a performance there, the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s production of “Don Giovanni.” Robin Pogreabin of The New York Times reports that Gehry’s design moves the orchestra upstage, thereby creating a more intimate relationship between soloists and the audience. Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte will design the costumes, while the Philharmonic’s music director, Gustavo Dudamel, will conduct. The opera will have four performances, beginning on May 18. It is the first of three collaborations between architects and fashion designers on Mozart / Da Ponte operas.

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FAST COMPANY
German firm creates virtual sky of LEDs
Fraunhofer, a German high-tech research firm, has created a ceiling system that it says, “conveys the impression that you are outdoors.” Andrew Price at Fast Company reports that the “virtual sky” is made up of 20-by-20-inch square panels, each fitted with 288 LEDs. Every panel includes red, blue, green, and white LEDs, and is thus able to produce the full color spectrum and 16 million hues. Dr. Matthias Bues, the head of Fraunhofer’s Institute for Industrial Engineering in Stuttgart, says “The LEDs allow us to simulate … dynamic changes in lighting in a way that is not directly obvious to the naked eye. Otherwise the lighting might distract people from their work.” Price reports that this lighting system isn’t cheap, costing about $390 per square-foot.


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THE NEW YORK TIMES
Diller Scofidio + Renfro to redesign Pines Pavilion
Architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro have been hired, along with HWKN Architects, to redesign the Pavilion dance club, a popular gay nightspot in Fire Island Pines that burned in a fire last year. The decision to commission the firms was announced on Thursday by FIP Ventures, a partnership of Blesso Properties, Seth Weissman and Andrew Kirtzman, that owns about 80 percent of Fire Island’s commercial district. Charles Renfro, AIA, a partner in Diller Scofidio + Renfro who has his own memories of the club, tells The New York Times’s Erik Piepenburg that the firm is “thinking in broad strokes” about how to elevate the dance floor into a performance stage. “We’re rethinking it as the Theater of the Pines,” he said.

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THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE
Burj Khalifa stars on screen, but struggles with vacancies
Two years after the Burj Khalifa opened, the half-mile high skyscraper is the site of a dazzling stunt scene in the new Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol. Blair Kamin of The Chicago Tribune writes, “Burj … seems to be taking its place as a world icon—and the movie can only help cement that reputation.” At the same time, Kamin wonders whether the building is too much of a “stage set” and “vanity project,” reminding us that “this symbol of the pre-financial crisis building boom opened practically empty,” and that according to 2010 local business reports, about 825 of its 900 condos remained unoccupied. The tower, he writes, seems to be part of Dubai’s “awful track record of building first and planning later,” a trend he fears may be furthered by the recently announced designs for a 2690-ft.-long urban walkway that will connect Burj Kahlifa and its massive adjoining shopping mall with the futuristic Dubai Metro station.

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PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
Philadelphia’s ex-exurbs
Setting out to find the outer limits of Philadelphia’s suburbs, Inquirer critic Inga Saffron came across a subdivision 45 miles west of City Center known as Oakcrest. There she found “immaculately paved streets, glossy utility boxes, and an active sales office,” yet a strange lack of houses. Only 32 of 167 planned houses had been completed when the developer backed out amid the 2007 housing crash, resulting in a “zombie subdivision” where houses’ “numbered signs resemble grave markers.” Is this just another victim of the housing crash, Saffron wonders, or “a sign that the region's suburban sprawl has finally reached its limit”? She cites a New York Times op-ed by University of Michigan planning professor Christopher B. Leinberger in which he claims that in a “profound structural shift” we are seeing a “reversal of what took place in the 1950s, when drivable suburbs boomed and flourished as center cities emptied and withered.” The most likely way for suburbs to survive is through “mergers of micro-burbs to form larger, more urban entities.”

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DEZEEN
Brooks + Scarpa designs for the Kimball Art Center
An addition to Park City, Utah’s Kimball Art Center by California firm Brooks + Scarpa will triple the building’s size, adding studios and galleries. In this post, Dezeen shares renderings and models of the 22,000-sq.-ft. addition, which will wrap the building in a cloud-like, glazed glass façade. According to a detailed description by the architects, on the second story, 20-foot high metalsmithing, welding and glass studios open onto a large exterior court.  Downstairs, “Passerby can see deep into the building, viewing people working throughout several studio spaces, the main exhibition space and the many other spaces that are visually linked together,” the Brooks + Scarpa release says. “Rather than simply displaying art to the community, the process itself is on display.”

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THE GUARDIAN
A Helsinki chapel and a Cairo inverted pyramid
In his weekly roundup of architecture news, The Guardian’s Jonathan Glancey looks at the Kamppi Chapel of Silence on Helsinki's Narinkka Square. Designed by Helsinki firm K2S, the chapel, which will open later this year, is envisioned as a place for spiritual respite for those exhausted by shopping at the nearby Kamppi mall. This new kind of retail therapy is a notion Glancey approves of, and he wonders whether the rounded, windowless sanctuary will “begin a campaign to introduce such contemplative beauty to city centres elsewhere.” Another intriguing design he touches on is a plan for Tahrir Square by Arash and Kelly, an industrial art and design studio run by Royal College of Art graduates. The firm calls it an “inverted pyramid-shaped auditorium for people to come and talk and participate and share ideas and to have a focal point ... a space to celebrate liberty.”

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