Daily digest: A floating Hong Kong landmark capsizes, the latest Skyspace debuts in Colorado, and more

A Solstice Assemblage

Daily digest: A floating Hong Kong landmark capsizes, the latest Skyspace debuts in Colorado, and more

Hong Kong's iconic Jumbo Floating Restaurant pictured in 2012. (Michal Osmenda/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0)

Happy first day of summer! In the spirit of what’s hopefully a season filled with sunny days spent lounging by the pool (fingers-crossed), let’s dive right in to this fresh batch of art, architecture, and design news…

World Weather Network responds to climate change with a series of artistic “weather stations”

Coinciding with the summer solstice, a coalition of 28 arts organizations have begun delivering regular weather reports from outposts around the world as part of a global effort launched in response to the climate emergency. The “weather stations” can be found in locales both far-flung and urban, from the Guyanese rainforest to the art deco Senate House Library at the University of London to Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty on the northeastern shore of Great Salt Lake.

Together comprising the World Weather Network, the 28 organizations are each working with a participating creative to realize a multimedia project that will disseminate local weather reports. On the Basque island of Santa Clara, for example, installation artist Cristina Iglesia has designed a sculpture that takes cues from the historic use of lighthouses as warning posts for severe weather. Meanwhile, Japan’s Enoura Observatory is broadcasting a live stream of the summer solstice sunset.

The multidisciplinary project, which launched today, will continue through June 2023. Reports produced from the individual outposts will take on different forms, including reportage, video, audio, and even poetry; these dispatches will be available on the World Weather Network website, along with other programming such as online talks and presentations.

New Skyspace installation scales the side of a Colorado mountain

Artist James Turrell’s Green Mountain Falls Skyspace, a monolithic concrete installation described as a “one-of-a-kind kinetic light and color encounter” has been built into a Colorado mountainside overlooking Gazebo Lake at the new Red Butte Recreation Area in the town of Green Mountain Falls. The rectangular volume follows the design of Turrell’s other Skyspace installations, which are conceived as observatories with oculi for viewing the sky. This latest outpost, which will remain as a permanent attraction for Green Mountain Falls, is only accessible by foot and is one of the only Turrell designs—which number more than 85—with a retractable roof. Is it also the first Skyspace built into a mountainside.

“The Green Mountain Falls Skyspace is a harmonious addition to the charming town at the foothills of Pikes Peak—an extension of the landscape, preserved in its natural setting,” nonprofit arts organization Green Box Arts explained on its website. “The experience begins with an inspirational journey via two new trailheads that deliver hikers directly to the sheltered Skyspace in the hills above, overlooking the center of town and Gazebo Lake.”

The 18-foot-tall naked-eye observatory was commissioned by the Historic Green Mountain Falls Foundation, an affiliate of Green Box Arts. Daily viewings can be booked online, along with the special sunrise, sunset, and closed roof shows.

Hong Kong’s iconic Jumbo Floating Restaurant sinks in South China Sea

Jumbo Floating Restaurant, a beloved buoyant eatery on the Hong Kong waterfront capsized in the South China Sea near the Paracel Islands earlier this week after encountering “adverse conditions” while being towed to an unspecified site for maintenance and repairs. The 260-foot-long Cantonese dining palace, which was part of the larger Jumbo Kingdom complex at Hong Kong’s Aberdeen Harbour, closed to the public in 2020 after a nearly 45-year run as a result of the pandemic. Per NPR, the dim sum-serving tourist attraction had accommodated over 3 million guests over the years and appeared in numerous films including The Man with the Golden Gun and a 1995 Godzilla pic.

Although no one was injured in the incident, the overwater Hong Kong landmark is considered a total loss. “As the water depth at the scene is over 1,000 meters, (it makes it) extremely difficult to carry out salvage works,” explained owner Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises Ltd.

H/t to NPR

A net-zero library in Santa Cruz County, California, breaks ground

Construction started last week on the Santa Cruz Public Library System (SCPL)’s new and improved Aptos Branch Library. Located in the small town of Aptos on California’s Central Coast, the existing 1975 library was demolished and will be rebuilt as a 12,400-square-foot modern facility designed by Anderson Brulé Architects (ABA). The solar-ready, net-zero power building will require half the power of a typical library thanks in part to a small onsite wind turbine and large windows and skylights oriented to maximize sunlight and reduce the need for artificial lighting. Outside, the new library will include gardens and terraces with drought-tolerant landscaping and a rainwater collection system.

“It became clear throughout our listening sessions that the community desired a library building that serves both people and place,” said ABA design principal Mark Schoeman in a press release. “In replacing the original 1975 library, we designed a structure that is 30 percent larger yet has a minimal environmental impact — a ‘net-zero’ sanctuary that celebrates Aptos’ natural resources in the context of its history and culture.”

These are the three candidates vying to be the next RIBA president

Building Design has shared news of—and provided brief biographical sketches for—the trio of candidates in the running to be elected next president of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Voting kicks off on June 28 with the winner being announced at the top of August. A month later, on September 1, that winner will formally be granted with the honorific of president-elect. A full year later to the day, they will assume the presidency, replacing current RIBA president Simon Allford as his two-year term comes to an end.

The three candidates are: Muyiwa Oki, a young architectural manager at global consultancy and construction firm Mace who previously worked at Grimshaw and Glenn Howells Architects. Oki is considered the “outsider” candidate as he is not a RIBA board member like the other two contenders and has taken the institution to task “over the lack of perceived value it provides to members,” per Building Design. Joining Oki in the closely watched race are Jo Bacon, managing partner at Allies & Morrison and current RIBA board trustee for culture and events, and Sumita Singha, founding director of Ecologic Architects and RIBA board trustee for education. Singha was also one of five hopefuls in the 2020 election, which Allford ultimately won.

H/t to Building Design