Saturday, December 3, 2011
Corbusier Villa Savoie meets Ronchamp in Israel - Tel Aviv Museum of Art
Preston Scott Cohen has achieved the unachievable - he has won a competition in a distant land and built an absolutely stunning piece of modern architecture at the level of Corbusier's Villa Savoie. Like Corb's Savoie - the museum sits as a monolithic mass upon a row of pilot - yet has a fantastic interior of ramps and sloped forms that create a magnificent circulation. As a graduate of RISD, Cohen often argued against formalism and was known to promote a rationalist and exoskeleton method of minimalist rationalism in his rigorous design studios. This rigor could be seen in his early works such as the Inman house and especially the Goodman House. Goodman house was the prototypical RISD method of a complex yet simple Barn Vernacular with articulated window manipulation. The Chairman of Harvard Graduate School of Design, has pushed the envelope. His new folded architecture was first realized in a wonderful plethora of twisted and folded forms -with his Nanjing Performing Arts Center, showing Cohen's true genius as his creative mind was unbridled - free from the chains of his former alma mater. An emergence of the influence in his work of master Starchitects who were at Harvard as guest professors in the early 90's - such as Frank Gehry, Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid, and Peter Eisenmann.
The power of his design for the Tel Aviv Musuem of Art is seen in multivalent readings and layering. He employs the power of Ronchamp with the elegance of Villa Savoie.
Certain elements of the museum are reminiscent of Corbs use of massive concrete forms as seen at Ronchamp. This heavy monolithic mass however can be seen intertwining with the lightness of Corbs other masterpiece - Villa Savoie with light polygonal forms making up the skin and interior spaces. The circulation of the museum takes the visitor through several overlapping spaces culminating in a huge main exhibition space. In certain ways it is reminiscent of Libeskind's Jewish Museum with lacerations for windows - yet it has an almost superior use of light form and space for exhibition of art. The disciplined Zen master has countered his own koan and left us speechless. - Ecomanta