Mark Lamster | Essays

Road Trips: Louwman Museum and Powers Field

Holland has so efficiently branded itself as the land of the New™ in contemporary design — Koolhaas! MVRDV! Droog! — that it's almost a shock, at least from afar, to find a contemporary project there that is, for lack of a better term, historicist. Michael Graves's new Louwman Museum, outside of The Hague, fits that bill, and quite beautifully. As a home for a collection of antique cars, the design, with steep brick gables that reference the traditional Dutch carriage house, seems appropriate. The real bravura moment comes in the central hall inside, a barrel-vaulted nave of a room with structural coffering in wood and an oculus window overhead. Think of it as the high church of the automobile. Or maybe the parish church of the automobile. I had a chance to visit with the architect last week, and he seemed pleased with the outcome, though disappointed that it was, like much of his recent work, overseas, and thus out of mind for so many Americans. No longer!

While at Princeton I gave myself a tour of Powers Field, the new football stadium designed by Rafael Vinoly. (One of the nice things about a college campus is you can just walk into the stadium when it's not in use: try that in the Bronx and you end up at Rikers.) Powers is a fine work of architecture: bold geometries, handsome exposed structural details, excellent circulation — there's even a touch of "green" design. The only problem is the residents. A guided tour, in the slideshow. 


Posted in: Architecture

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