Awaji Yumebutai is a design unlike any other that Tadao Ando has done. It is a mixed use complex built on the remains of a hillside whose earth had been used for a landfill project. The idea behind the complex is to symbolize rebirth after destruction and a memorial to those that died in the Kobe region due to a massive earthquake in 1995. Along with the many interesting shapes and features that make the complex a whole there is a hotel, chapel, an international conference center, terracing flower gardens, restaurants and plazas. The scale of the complex is much larger than most of Ando’s usual designs; however he designed an incredible complex. I really like the idea behind the project and the use of unusual shapes and walls to comprise a much larger whole. Its an interesting complex that stirs the imagination.
The Komyo-Ji Temple is on Shikoku Island in the Hiuichi Sea in Ehime, Japan. It is a new temple for the Pure Land sect of Buddhism; Tadao Ando designed it in 2000. The island of Shikoku is known for its many springs, this temple was built on one which allows Ando to integrate the water into the temple to help it feel more natural. In fact, to enter one must cross a wooden plank over a natural spring that surrounds the temple. Once inside, there is a walkway around the outer edge of the temple. The center is blocked from visitors as it is the sacred space of the temple, it is sectioned off by wood and frosted glass. I really like the intricate wood work of the temple and its integration with the natural spring that it is built on. They are beautiful together.
Sayamaike Historical Museum is located on the edge of Sayamaike Pond, a reservoir in Osakasayama, Japan; it was designed by Tadao Ando in 2001. Ando is known for his use of water, and here is no exception. He uses water as a mirror to reflect the sky and museum; something about the stillness of the water is calming and helps the building to feel like it’s a part of its surroundings. The waterfalls that are placed around the building are also very interesting. Part of the museums purpose is to inform people of ancient Japanese water engineering, and I think the waterfalls are a great way to show the might of the ancient techniques. The walls of the museum are made of rough cut granite stone. I really like the stone; somehow it does make the building feel less intrusive. The grayish color emphasizes the surrounding greenery, which is a great that the building contributes something to nature instead of simply taking up space.
Carson Engineering Center
Devon Energy Hall
ExxonMobil Lawrence G. Rawl Engineering Practice Facility
Devon Energy Hall, Carson Engineering Center and ExxonMobil Lawrence G. Rawl Engineering Practice Facility in the engineering quad are collectively interesting buildings. They all share a feature that can’t be seen from above ground. That feature is the tunnel that connects them all. Yes, these three buildings in the engineering quad are connected by underground tunnels! The tunnels have a few classrooms, offices, and lab spaces for the engineering students to utilize. The tunnels are also used as a tornado shelter and passageway to other classes when there is bad weather. The tunnels remind me of the secret passageways that I dreamed of having when I was a little kid, and I think it’s cool that someone implemented them into the college in a practical way.
The Sam Noble Museum of Natural History is interesting because it is partly an object building but its architecture also helps to create an appropriate atmosphere for the visitors. The front of the museum is almost sporadic with various columns and beams spread across the face of the building. To me, these characteristics make it unique and a little artistic which is why I call it somewhat of an object building. However, the museum is still very impressive from the inside and is not just meant to be observed, the exhibit rooms are well designed in order to help display the pieces. For instance the mammoth exhibit is placed in a large open space that helps to create a sense of how large and powerful the animal was. I think it is great that the architects were able to design such a room that can help inspire feelings. The fact that the architecture helps to create an intended feeling is why I believe it is not simply an object building and is why I appreciate it.
Gould Hall at the University of Oklahoma stands out to me because it is not like the other buildings. True it has the same color scheme, but it also has many differences. For instance, it has protruding, white window frames that are simple; even its pillars are simple and almost hidden. At first glance the building is not much to look at and doesn’t cry out for attention like the others. However, as I continue to observe the building its features become almost noble instead of simple. Its pillars are strong and smooth, but are not easily seen at first. I feel like these features may also describe what it is like to be an architect. It’s not the most glorified job, but its necessity is unquestioned and its role in our modern world has been undoubtedly established. These underlying concepts are the strong pillars that support the field of architecture just as the pillars were not placed outside of Gould Hall. As Gould Hall is designated to the college of architecture it makes sense that it would have these features.
The Catlett Music Center is the main facility for the University of Oklahoma’s School of Music, Symphony Orchestra, the pride of Oklahoma marching band and numerous faculty and student ensembles. Although these are its main function, it also has offices for staff and suites for recording. It was designed by Kaighn Associates Architects in hopes of inspiring the imagination of students. The exaggerated shapes that add to the character of the building are what many (including myself) associate with fields that pertain to the arts. Looking at the second picture the shapes on each side of the lit windows almost look like seating for a large crowd and the shinning windows are those on the stage trying to share the light that is their art. The symbolic nature of the architecture makes me think that it’s saying “this is what we want for you” and I think that’s awesome how the architects were able to make the building say so much.
The Hemeji City Museum of Literature was built in celebration of the 100 year anniversary of Himeji City becoming a municipality. The main building and its annex were designed by Tadao Ando and completed in the 1990’s. This first picture shows the main building surrounded in water and beaming with light. Tadao Ando’s style of incorporating the building into nature is clearly seen here. In order to enter the main building, visitors must walk down a ramp that follows a stepped, shallow pool of water. I really like it because the crushed stone that lines the steps allows the water to clearly reflect the sky and surroundings. The main building is primarily used as an exhibition space or lecture hall, inside the main building the outer space is surrounded by glass with windows that let in a variety of orange and yellow light. The fourth picture shows the library inside of the annex building. The large window in the ceiling allows for natural light to pour into the library. The natural light coming into the enclosed space almost makes it seem as if the library is a special, hidden place and I appreciate that touch.
The Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum was designed by and dedicated to Tadao Ando. The museum is built directly into the hillside in order to preserve the environment which is characteristic of Tadao Ando. Which as you can see in the first picture its presence does not distract from the natural beauty of the island. It is meant to be accessed by boat via a stepped plaza along the shoreline that serves as an entrance and an outdoor performance space; these steps are shown in the second picture. After entering the main building visitors descend into the hillside and enter into a large underground art gallery. The gallery has a large window at one end that allows a view of the lush vegetation of the island and the other end has an exhibition room with no roof that allows natural sunlight, third picture. The small hotel annex on the island was also designed by Andao and is above the museum. Upon entering the annex there is a corridor that shows views of the ocean and the water plaza, this corridor also leads to a room with a cut out roof and shimmering pool that reflects the sky. I love how Tadao Ando is able to insert his buildings into the environment without disturbing the natural beauty of the land. I am also a big fan of how he is able to almost make the building apart of nature by adding spaces that allow for natural light, rooms that open to the sky and water that reflects the sky.