The Rom and The Piano

ROM CRYSTAL napkin sketch

On june 2, 2007 The official opening of the ROM extension was celebrated. The what extension? The Michael Lee-Chin Crystal. Who’s Crystal?

Okay okay I’ll try to explain.

The ROM is not Read Only Memory, but the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada. The Piano is not Renzo Piano, but a real piano (see below). The ROM extension is a new building designed by Polish born, USA raised and Berlin Based Architect Daniel Libeskind who is also responsible for rebuilding Ground Zero.

Inspired by the ROM’s gem and mineral collection, architect Daniel Libeskind sketched the initial concept on paper napkins while attending a family wedding at the ROM. The design was quickly dubbed the ‘crystal’ because of its crystalline shape.

“Why should one expect the new addition to the ROM to be ‘business as usual’? Architecture in our time is no longer an introvert’s business. On the contrary, the creation of communicative, stunning and unexpected architecture signals a bold re-awakening of the civic life of the museum and the city.”

– Daniel Libeskind


Michael Lee-Chin is a Canadian businessman who donated $ 30 mio to the ROM and hence the new building got his name.
The Piano
Via The Globe and The Mail I learned that Liebeskind, whose first vocation was to become a virtuoso pianist designed a Grand Piano.

The idea for the piano arose in 2002, when Toronto piano dealer Robert Lowrey arranged a meeting between Libeskind and Nicholas Schimmel, head of Schimmel Pianos, one of the few remaining companies to make pianos mostly by hand. Libeskind had initially wanted to be a concert pianist, Lowery said, and Schimmel has already produced instruments with designs by the likes of German artist Ottmar Alt.
‘It’s a piano to be played, but also to be admired as a piece of architecture,’ piano dealer Robert Lowrey says.

Libeskind Limited Edition Piano
Rendering by Studio Daniel Libeskind

Three 16-foot-long (five-metre) specialty models will be made, as well as a small number of seven-foot (two-metre) grands based on the same design.

Libeskind designed only the exterior case; the interior works will be essentially the same as in a normal grand.

“It’s a piano to be played, but also to be admired as a piece of architecture,” Lowrey said.

Like the Crystal, the Libeskind piano poses stiff engineering challenges. The enormously long lid, for instance, must be light enough to be raised by an ordinary person, and strong enough not to warp or bend. Lowery said Schimmel is experimenting with titanium as a material for the cabinet. The case for Schimmel’s playful Alt piano, which looks like a gigantic child’s toy, employed steel, glass and fibreglass.

“It’s taking longer to make this piano than to build the Crystal,” Lowrey said.

Thorsell said he expected the piano to emerge from Schimmel’s factory next year. But the head of Schimmel’s American office, to whom the German office referred questions, said he had “no idea” when the piano might be completed.

Lowrey said Schimmel hopes that the publicity value of the large instruments will help sales of the limited-edition models, which will probably number fewer than 120. One of the other long models may be displayed near the ground zero site in Manhattan, he said.

I wonder whether this will revive the classical piano.

Dutch Dutch Design (24): "The Hague" studies new Tulip Island in North Sea

Tulip Island
Via Bert Brussen from Trouw

On initiative of the Christian Democratic Party CDA, Dutch Parliament has instructed the Dutch Ministers (who reside in The Hague, hence the “The Hague” reference in the title as a metaphor for Dutch government) to study the possibility of an artificial island in the Northsea between Rotterdam and IJmuiden. IJmuiden is the access to Amsterdam Harbour. Its secondary function would be to protect the weak Dutch coastline that seems under threat by global warming. Not a bad idea now so many Dutch contractors are getting a lot of experience by their involvement in the Emirates Islands building and helping New Orleans out with advice about flood protection.

In the proposal the Island gets a tulip form. The tulip is one of the national symbols of The Netherlands. Most marketeers who use it as marketing symbol tend to forget once the Dutch “traders” “stole” the tulip bulbs from the Turks and initiated the Tulip Mania.

In this context it is funny how Bert Brussen, a free lance journalist, placed as a prank an alternative Turkish Island form as a counter proposal for the Island form by the leftist PVDA (Dutch Workers) party on his Blog :

Turkish Island in The North Sea

Some “Turkish Delight” as consolation in case Turkey won’t become a EG member?

However I do like the Tulip idea!

Graphic Concrete: Stencil Your Face in Concrete, rather than Concreting your Hand at the Walk of Fame!

Graphic Concrete 01
Inside use

Graphic Concrete, Ltd is a privately-owned Helsinki based Finnish company. Its Finish name is Graafinen Betoni, Oy.

Its product is based on an invention by architect Samuli Naamanka.

It works as follows:
Apply a retardant to a special film in the pattern of your desire. Put the film on a still wet concrete slab. Let the concrete harden pull the film off and wash away the retarded, i.e. the only partly hardened, parts . The washed surface stands out from the surrounding unwashed concrete surface due to its roughness that also gives it another color.

Graphic Design 04
The film is being pulled off

The film is 3,1 meters wide, which means that it can be used in the production of regular height facade elements without the need for joints. The length of the film is mainly limited by the maximum allowable weight of a roll, so it can be hundreds of meters long if necessary.

The normal depth of the pattern is usually the so-called fine exposure, approximately 1 mm, but shallower or deeper exposures are also possible. The concrete can also be pigmented.

The accuracy of the method makes it possible to copy the bitmap made from a photograph, in which case the minimum diameter and distance between the dots can be as little as 2 mm.

Graphic Concrete 05

A Slab just before application

Graphic Concrete 03

Finished product

I have a slab of concrete of 7 X 12 meters that forms a terrace…..This is a great idea whenever I have to redo the surface….the only problem I foresee is the usual pollution in a city that may affect the picture within a short time….therefor I believe it better for inside than for outside use, but it offers fantastic design opportunities.

NYC: Are you KIDding? A Gehry Playground

Gehry Playground

Thanks to Gothamist we know that there ar plans for a playground designed by Frank Gehry for the NYC Battery Park, the “Birthplace of NYC”. An excellent example of city marketing I would say.

New five star Grand Hotel Amrâth Amsterdam opened

Amrâth Exterior
Amrâth Exterior

On June 8, 2007, only a couple of months later than planned, the new five star Grand Hotel Amrâth Amsterdam opened in the beautiful historic Art Deco building, the “Scheepvaarthuis” (The Shipping Companies’ Building) once belonging to the rich Amsterdam shipping companies.

The shipping companies have long disappeared, and their ships no longer proudly sail the oceans of the world. But the Scheepvaarthuis still stands, completely intact, as a beautiful monument to those times.The romance of the sea and the building’s creators can still be seen and admired, given shape in authentic materials of the time.Within this space and ambiance, a grand five-star hotel is being created with all the respect due to the monumental beauty of the building. It is a new lease of life for the Scheepvaarthuis! The grandeur of the past is being combined with modern-day comfort and luxury – technically perfect and benignly comfortable. The guests are accommodated in the past as well as the present – in a unique artwork as well as the most
beautiful luxury hotel in modern-day Amsterdam.

So far the quote.

It has 160 rooms and 15 suites which will be available as of December 2007. It is located on walking distance of the Central Station and has some beautiful views on the Historic Shipping quarter with the still active Dutch Royal Marine basis (yes blocked out on Google Maps) and the

Scheepvaartmuseum Amsterdam
Dutch Historic Shipping Museum wit “Amsterdam” replica

Historic Shipping Museum of Amsterdam with its replica of the VOC (Dutch East India Company) trader “Amsterdam”. Alas, for the time being the shipping museum is closed due to an extensive renovation.
Last edited by GJE on December 5, 2011 at 5:09 pm