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The Barnes Foundation Opens its New Philadelphia Home

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The new campus of the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia represents, simply put, a game changer for what a museum can be, the experience of art, and role architecture plays in both. It is also a game changer for Philadelphia, at a moment of splendid cultural renaissance.

When it opens to the public on Saturday, May 19th, visitors will find the celebrated collection displayed in a series of galleries that preserve the scale, proportion, and configuration of the original institution in Lower Merion (located in suburban Philadelphia), but now placed in a larger setting that invites contemplation and offers many pleasures.

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Boston's Gardner Museum Unveils Renzo Piano Addition

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum has just unveiled its Renzo Piano–designed, copper-clad wing, which includes a jewel-box music hall and galleries dedicated to works by artists in residence. A glass-enclosed walkway leads to the original building.

Photo by Nic Lehoux / Courtesy of Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Gehry-Designed Cultural Arts Center Opens in New York

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New York City and Frank Gehrys mutual love affair continues to evolve at a dynamic pace. With this month's opening of Signature Theatres new Gehry-designed Pershing Square Signature Center in midtown Manhattan, Gehry adds another piece to his rapidly expanding Empire State catalog. His first residential project 8 Spruce Street, a 76-story skyscraper glazed with his signature curvaceous indents crawling up the stainless steel façade, made a dramatic debut on the downtown skyline in 2011. Hes also been tapped for the forthcoming preforming arts center at the new World Trade Center. And then theres his iconic cloudy white, cold-warped glass IAC HQ building that hugs the West Side Highway in Chelsea. Sticking to his recent ambition for firsts, the unveiling of the $66-million Signature Center marks Gehrys initial contribution to the citys cultural landscape.

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French History in 3-D

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Seas of blue silk, mountains of sand, strongholds of wood. Legions of surveyors and sculptors traveling hundreds of miles on horseback or foot. This was how the rulers of France, from Louis XIV to Napoleon III, mapped out their military conquests in the days before Google Earth.

These 3-D mock-ups of France’s fortified towns—reconstituting every building, river, and hill in 1/600 scale—were for decades hidden away in the attic of the Invalides veterans' complex. Now, but only through February 17, you can catch a rare glimpse of these topographical treasures at the Grand Palais in Paris, during its France in Miniature exhibit.

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Victor Enrich's City Portraits: Move Over, Koolhaas?

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Like the products of an architect’s fever-dreams, the buildings in Victor Enrich’s city portraits morph and strain and sprout new wings that defy logic and gravity. His 3-D illustrations transform cityscapes from familiar boxiness into something distorted and slightly giddy. Yet when one considers some of the outlandish real-world structures that have sprung from the imaginations of big-name designers like Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Rem Koolhaas, and Santiago Calatrava, perhaps former architecture student Enrich (with a well-connected and -caffeinated publicist and a budget, of course) could be the next urban design visionary?

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Williamsburg, Brooklyn To Get a Green Hotel

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Oppenheim Architecture + Design recently won the bid for the Williamsburg Hotel.  Between the Williamsburg Bridge and the domed Neoclassic Williamsburg Savings Bank, a 21st-century tower is set to rise over 400 feet.

What exactly does the prospect of a LEEDS Platinum-certified green building, set in the bustling bohemian enclave of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, say about New York's ever-changing tale? We'll have to wait and see.  For now, check out these interesting photo renderings:

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Moscow's Bolshoi Theater Reveals $600 Million Renovation

201112-b-bolshoi-by-damir_yusupov-2jpgPeeling plaster and an unstable foundation are things of the past at the Bolshoi Theater, which recently reopened in Moscow after a painstaking six-year renovation. A major player in the rise of Russia’s dance tradition, the 19th-century, 1,750-seat Bolshoi—which, appropriately, translates as “grand”—is once again fit for a czar. (The word also applies to the project’s price tag—in excess of $600 million.) No expense was spared to recapture its former splendor (embroidered silk from the foyers was rewoven thread by thread) or to enhance the theater with up-to-the-minute stage technology. This month, don’t miss choreographer Yuri Grigorovich’s The Nutcracker (Dec. 27, 29–31). 1 Teatralnaya Ploshchad; 7-495/250-7317.

Photo Courtesy of the Bolshoi Theater/Damir Yusupov

More Hotels That Lean?! Bella Sky Comwell Opens in Copenhagen

201110-b-bella-2jpgYou can build a neighborhood from scratch, but that alone can't give it heart. Luckily for Copenhagen, a flashy tilting hotel is transforming a day-stroll district to a destination with a pulse. Rising from the southern flatlands on land reclaimed by the sea, the 3XN-designed Bella Sky Comwell Hotel (doubles from $420) has fast become a centerpiece for Ørestad City, a master-planned enclave founded nearly two decades ago.

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OPENING: Crystal Bridges Museum Showcases American Art

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One of the most highly anticipated cultural events of the fall in the United States is the opening (Friday, November 11, 2011) of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Designed by Massachusetts-based architect Moshe Safdie (whose Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri, inaugurated in October, continues to gain accolades for its design and acoustics), the building is set in a forest ravine, among 120 acres of park and gardens and consists of nine pavilions over and alongside of two ponds.

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Guangzhou Gets a New Center for Chinese Art and Culture

Guangzhou Opera House designed by Zaha Hadid

Even by Chinese standards, Guangzhou’s transformation from a gritty industrial port into a gleaming metropolis for Chinese culture has been lightning-fast. Now, China’s third-largest city, just 130 miles north of Hong Kong, has been raising its arts profile. The most striking example? A new cultural complex overlooking the Pearl River that includes a museum, a library, and the dazzling Guangzhou Opera House designed by Zaha Hadid. The contoured structure, with its 1,804-seat auditorium and a smaller black-box theater in conjoined granite-clad wings, was inspired by a pair of boulders worn smooth by water. The highlight of the inaugural season: the first Guangzhou Arts Festival, with performances by Spain’s National Ballet (Sept. 23–24), the Vienna Boys’ Choir (Oct. 15), and the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Dec. 30–31).

Photo by Iwan Baan

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