Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hey dude, check out the flower-power tower

From the Globe and Mail:
You can see it on the ski slopes - the dazzling grids of colour splashed all over this season's snowboarder jackets, and the lusciously oversized flowers on the latest skis. Even the psychedelic video projection in the Museum of Modern Art's atrium (big, bright, wild shapes flowing over the walls and the bodies of New Yorkers) is a much-needed love-in. And Barack Obama has been inaugurated as 44th president of the United States - of things old and true.

It's flower power all over again. And the love is touching architecture.

Just when we had grown weary of green-tinted glass infecting our cities like the winter flu, a building comes along that replaces the deadening curtain wall with a contemporary tapestry alive with lushly painted flowers and medicinal herbs. University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy by Hariri Pontarini Architects is irreverent, gutsy and imperfect. Most compelling is the way a seven-storey building can communicate, even in the winter-weary downtown of Kitchener, Ont., that maybe, yes, strawberry fields are forever.

The building is part of the university's health-sciences campus, a potent mix of academic research and family medicine, designed to trigger the revitalization of an early-20th-century warehouse district. The city of Kitchener has donated $30-million to the building, as well as the land: an eight-acre (about 31/4-hectare) site at the corner of King and Victoria streets. A centre for family medicine - with offices and 27 examining rooms, also designed by HP Architects - is under construction next door to the $53-million pharmacy school. The two buildings will be connected by an atrium. Public space, designed by Claude Cormier, will feature a grassy courtyard with honey-locust trees, and a streetscape lined by that hearty hybrid, the accolade elm. ...more

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