HERZOG AND DE MEURON ARCHITEKTEN


HERZOG AND DE MEURON ARCHITEKTEN
   This 21st-century Swiss architectural firm was established in 1978 by Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, both of whom were born in Basel in 1950 and educated in Zurich. Their parallel careers led to the development of a unique architectural style characterized by design elements that combine aspects of Deconstructivism, High-Tech architecture, and Green architecture. In 2001, Herzog and de Meuron together won the Pritzker Architecture Prize. The commission that elevated Herzog and de Meuron into international prominence was their completion in 2000 of the renovation of the Bankside Power Station along the Thames River in London into the Tate Modern Art Museum. Retaining some of the open floor plan, industrial ductwork, and other materials of the original building, Herzog and de Meuron adapted the structure to include gallery space and a two-story glass roof extension to increase the space of the building and to make visible reference to its new function. On the exterior, the glass extension softens the stark, factory aesthetic of the original building. It is this creativity and innovative use of older materials that became the hallmark of Herzog and de Meuron's subsequent designs. In 2002, the team received a commission to build the Allianz Arena in Munich, which was completed in 2005. Made from concrete and a covering of inflatable air panels, the arena looks like a giant inflatable boat. The highly unusual materials used allow the building to light up at night into the colors of the various sports teams playing there. Otherwise, the dry air in the panels gives the impression of a white color from a distance, but at close range, the panels are transparent. This impressive building demonstrates the ability of these architects to work in a very creative way with highly technical materials.
   In 2005, Herzog and de Meuron completed the Walker Art Center Expansion in Minneapolis in a Deconstructivist style. The solid wall of their additional wing rises up at an angle and crumples into a solid vertical tower articulated with two sets of large, irregularly shaped windows. The lack of symmetry or classical harmony, however, does not diminish the visual connection between the new addition and the preexisting structure. Instead, the new exterior provides a strongly sculptural presence that complements the museum collection's focus on modern sculpture. In the same year, Herzog and de Meuron also completed the new M. H. de Young Museum in San Francisco to replace the preexisting building, which had been damaged beyond repair in 1989 by an earthquake. Built near the San Andreas Fault, the museum presented a series of challenges that were both technical and symbolic. The new museum reveals a Deconstructivist style, the goals of which include a desire to offset classical proportions and balance, which ultimately can be seen as philosophically consistent with the building's location near the earthquake fault. It was constructed with ball-bearing sliding plates and fluid dampers to protect it from future seismic shifts, while the attached tower twists slightly to further affirm its precarious location. In addition, the building was also designed to blend into its parklike surroundings. The exterior is made from copper, which over time will turn green and match the neigh-boring trees, while the top of the building is cut out in sections and planted with trees to create an organic appearance. These innovative solutions to traditional issues of function, style, materials, and site will certainly continue to be central to the future designs of Herzog and de Meuron.

Historical Dictionaries of Literature and the Arts. . 2008.

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