“Recognize that you don’t know where you stand, and you will begin to watch where you put your feet. That’s when a path appears.”
The New York Times reviews the book as, “[a description of] John Cage’s philosophical awakening through Zen Buddhism, which changed not only the sort of music he composed but, seemingly, everything he did and said.”
Forbes Asia features Sangha, a mixed-use cultural, educational, and wellness center supported by residences, two boutique hotels, and a spa expected to open in Suzhou in 2016. We work in partnership with the client Octave to conceive, program, brand, and design projects, including the recently opened Octave Living Room.
“[Sangha] involves working with education centers to provide suitable space for classes on physical and spiritual wellness, ensuring the venue is more than just a physical structure (hardware) but also a setting to learn and become healthy (software).”
Calvin Tsao explains: “Today we are in a world obsessed with surfaces rather than deeper content…I realized that we can make something with the best of intentions but if people don’t know how to use it or really elaborate on the potential of the hardware, or architecture in this case, it doesn’t meet its full potential.”
We completed the exhibition design for Beauty, the fifth installment of the Cooper Hewitt, The Smithsonian National Design Museum’s contemporary design exhibition series. The exhibition runs February 12 through August 21, 2016.
“Featuring recent work from the most outstanding voices in the global design scene, ‘Beauty’ will expand the discourse around the transformative power of aesthetic innovation,” said Caroline Baumann, director of the museum. “The exhibition will celebrate design as a creative endeavor that engages the mind, body and senses with works of astonishing form and surprising function.”
From Interior Design: “With the cityscape transforming at an unprecedented rate, the old can survive only by serving the new—as proved by a cluster of 1950’s buildings. Interior Design Hall of Fame members Calvin Tsao and Zack McKown have combined the four structures into a three-story, 21,500-square-foot center providing children’s educational programsand health and family services in a varietyof private and shared spaces.”
Octave Living Room is the adaptive re-use of an historic structure into a 21,500 sq. ft. learning center. In partnership with the developer, Octave, we led the conceptualization, programming, and marketing, as well as the design of the project, from its early conception.
This year’s theme is function, which asks entrants to fuse form with utility, creating designs that explore the intersection of art and architecture while durably addressing and improving the conditions of the park.
More on the competition and entry requirements here.
The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) is seeking applications from grassroots community organizations and advocacy groups for Public Access Design.
Public Access Design projects are collaborations in which CUP, a designer, and an advocate work together to create an accessible visual explanation of a complex policy issue, so that more people can understand how that system works, and more people can engage in decision-making around it.
Applications are due Monday, February 8, 2016 at 5PM. More information here.
The building’s footprint is conceived as a movement through the Fibonacci spiral, which also dictates structure’s folded roof. The resulting plan allows the occupants and program to flow gracefully through the rooms, spiraling up to the highest point, a lookout tower.
Through subtle shifts in color, scale, perspective, and composition, Morandi was able to convey everyday objects with both monumentality and intimacy.
Condé Nast Traveler includes the Wheatleigh Hotel (Lenox, MA) in the magazine’s 2016 Gold List, a directory of the magazine’s “Favorite Hotels in the World.”
In our renovation of this historic family estate, we created a broad set of visual cues, imagining that the house had remained in the continuous ownership of one family with each succeeding generation contributing to its décor. Interiors are at once diverse and luxurious, historically evocative and comfortably familial. The result is a thoroughly modern and luxurious interpretation of Gilded Age grandeur in the Berkshires.
A.O. Scott writes for the New York Times: “As befits a movie about a composer, the music (by David Lang) makes its presence felt in more than a merely decorative manner. It carries the intimation of something deeper and grander…”
The tradition of the Hudson Valley’s Sinterklaas celebration comes all the way from the Netherlands, brought by Dutch settlers who arrived in Rhinebeck over 300 years ago. The centerpiece of the festivities occurs in Rhinebeck every year in early December. Of particular delight is Processional Arts Workshop‘s parade, which includes characters like the Grampuses, the Snow King and Queen, the Blue Dog, the Chinese Lion, the Pocket Lady, and, of course, Sinkerklaas.
New work by Sheila Hicks
Sheila Hicks: Ode to Roy Davis is on view at Davis & Langdale Company in New York City until December 23. The exhibition shows new work by Sheila Hicks made in honor of the gallery’s founder Roy Davis following his death in 2014. Hicks has created monumental bas-reliefs for places such as the Ford Foundation Headquarters, but these thirteen minimes, or small weavings, are intimate compositions that demonstrate a range of colors, techniques, and constructions.
“On Museum Design” at the American Academy in Rome
Design for Eternity: Architectural Models from the Ancient Americas runs at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City until September 18, 2016. From the first millennium BCE until the arrival of Europeans in the sixteenth century, artists in the Americas created small-scale architectural models to be placed in tombs. These miniature structures convey a rich sense of ancient ritual as well as the daily lives of the people of Central and South America.
Center for an Urban Future’s ‘Creative New York’ Report
Building on its 2015 report ‘Creative New York’ – a study of the current state of New York City’s creative sectors and their role as vital cultural and economic assets -, the Center for an Urban Future held a conference to discuss the many issues that face the city’s artists, arts organizations, and creative workers. Read a summary of that conference here.
Scenic Hudson‘s Foodshed Conservation Plan outlines a roadmap for protecting the agricultural land that supplies fresh, local food to the people of the Hudson Valley and New York City.
Scenic Hudson works to protect and restore the Hudson River and its majestic landscape as an irreplaceable national treasure and a vital resource for residents and visitors. Its team of experts combines land acquisition, support for agriculture, citizen-based advocacy and sophisticated planning tools to create environmentally healthy communities, champion smart economic growth, open up riverfronts to the public, and preserve the valley’s inspiring beauty and natural resources.
Design Trust for Public Space: Under the Elevated
The Design Trust for Public Space released its latest report Under the Elevated: Reclaiming Space, Connecting Communities.
Underneath New York City’s 700 miles of elevated bridges, highways, subway and rail lines lies millions of square feet of public space – nearly four times the size of Central Park – with the potential to radically transform life in the city. Under the Elevated presents an in-depth plan for how, and why, this massive inventory of residual space must be reimagined.
“Understanding the philosophy and realms of existence, and searching for a new development model.”
The Integral Conversation conference will occur on November 5-7, 2015 in Guilin, China. Leaders from around the world and all industries – including economists, business executives, media specialists, designers, scientists, academics, activists, and conservationists – meet to discuss the many pressing issues that influence today’s global development patterns and perspectives on social and environmental sustainability. The conference’s holistic approach to knowledge sharing and problem solving are essential to envisioning a new, innovative, and responsible vision for the future. See this year’s speakers here.
Tsao & McKown are featured in The Wall Street Journal. The article written by Karen Stein references the offices past experience designing in China and addresses design methodologies for the future.
Luisa Cevese‘s collection Riedizioni is an innovative product and accessories line that repurposes recycled textile scraps from the fashion and fabric industries. A self taught designer, Cevese inspires us with her poetic and environmentally responsible innovations and her eye for the beauty and value inherent in “waste.”
Calvin Tsao and Zack McKown deliver 7th Annual Distinguished Designer Lecture at George Washington University
Writing for 1stdib’s online publication Introspective, Fred Bernstein explains, “Not surprisingly, Tsao & McKown’s success with residential interiors has led quickly to larger projects — first the luxurious Wheatleigh hotel in the Berkshires, then an amenity-laden Manhattan condo building called the William Beaver House (for which they designed both the interiors and the startlingly bright yellow façade). They have also been tapped for other high-profile projects, including the restoration and repurposing of a group of historic buildings in Beijing’s Forbidden City.”
As the days grow colder and shorter, Tsao & McKown staff look forward to one of the most anticipated celebrations of the year. On November 18 we all gathered for our 15th Annual Pie Day. Everyone made a pie: Savory pies were served at noon and sweet pies at 4:00!
Interior Design features Tsao & McKown’s new office in Brooklyn’s Old American Can Factory. Here is the article published in the November 2014 issue. Click here for an extended look into the space and collection.
“Moving offers a chance to reflect on how far we’ve come and where we’re going. We feel we’re maturing, not just as professionals but also in how we look at the world.” – Calvin Tsao
“Allowing viewers to become more aware of their built environment” – Interior Design Magazine
An article on the Interior Design Magazine website documents Tsao & McKown’s Re[Framing] Provincetown installation as a way to “spark a conversation about the area and what once existed there”.
Please click here to read the full article.
To find out more information about the project please click here.
The awards recognize extraordinary contributions to design in 10 categories: Lifetime Achievement, Design Mind, Corporate and Institutional Achievement, Architecture Design, Communication Design, Fashion Design, Interaction Design, Interior Design, Landscape Design and Product Design.
The 2009 National Design Awards recipients are:
• Lifetime Achievement: Bill Moggridge
• Design Mind: Amory B. Lovins
• Corporate and Institutional Achievement: Walker Art Center
Finalists: Dwell Magazine and Heath Ceramics
• Architecture Design: SHoP Architects
Finalists: Architecture Research Office and Michael Maltzan
• Communication Design: The New York Times Graphics Department
Finalists: Hoefler & Frere-Jones and Project Projects
• Fashion Design: Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein Collection
Finalists: Thom Browne and Rodarte
• Interaction Design: Perceptive Pixel Inc.
Finalists: Potion and Lisa Strausfeld
• Interior Design: TsAO & McKOWN Architects
Finalists: Ali Tayar and Work AC
• Landscape Design: Hood Design
Finalists: Andrea Cochran and Rios Clementi Hale Studios
“Rudolph is often described at Brutalist, but there’s nothing severe or somber about the space. The thrusting I-beams, canopied walkways, and floating stairs create these beautiful social and living areas.”
We love danish designer and architect Arne Jacobsen’s Petrol Station in Skovshoved (Denmark), opened in 1936 and still in operation today!
“What’s a fence between good neighbors? To the United States government in considering Mexico, it’s sophisticated but pretty straightforward: the plans may incorporate so much high technology that the fence is more virtual than real, but in the end it is an imposing barrier, intended to repel, not attract. To architects and designers, such a fence poses a different challenge, but one they often face in their line of work: making the unwelcome welcoming”.
William L. Hamilton, a reporter for The New York Times, asked a handful of designers to devise a fence for the border.
Tsao & McKown’s response looked at developing the border as an economic zone, removing the need to cross the border, even eradicating the effect of the border.
“As development along the border matures, the need to cross the border diminishes”, Calvin Tsao.
Calvin Tsao in The New Yorker on design and homelessness
The New Yorker’s Culture Desk features the final presentations of Kevin Waltz and Alex Schweder’s interior design studio Housing the Homeless in NYC (taught jointly at Parsons The New School for Design and the Pratt Institute). Calvin Tsao, Cindy Allen, and Susan Sarandon served as guest critics.
“The class comes at a grim juncture in the history of New York City housing and its fraught relationship with homelessness. The number of homeless people in the city is the highest it’s even been – in March, the Coalition for the Homeless, a leading advocacy organization, placed the number of people living in shelters at just above sixty thousand, including almost twenty-five thousand children.”
Tsao & McKown are the exhibition designers for the current Mel Bochner: Strong Language exhibition at the Jewish Museum in New York.
For this exhibition Tsao & McKown aimed to complement the curatorial vision of the artworks’ provocative and emotive intentions through creating a sense of place cognizant of how viewers’ physical movements affect their engagement with all and each of the artworks.
The exhibition design was a highly collaborative effort between the architects, the curators, and Mel Bochner himself. After viewing the completed installation for the first time, Mr. Bochner wrote the following:
“It’s beautiful. Subtle, but powerful. Architecture-as-spatial-choreography.”
This is Tsao & McKown’s fifth exhibition design at the Jewish Museum, following the acclaimed “Action/Abstraction” in 2008.
Mel Bochner: Strong Language The Jewish Museum, New York May 2nd – September 21st 2014
Photo Credit: Installation view of “Mel Bochner: Strong Language” at The Jewish Museum in New York. (Bradford Robotham / The Jewish Museum)
Rinzin Wangchuk, Washington D.C.
April 23, 2011
The birth place of the Wangchuck dynasty, the Wangduecholing palace in Bumthang, would be restored to its former glory as one of the most significant heritage sites, and established as a museum and centre for cultural activities in Bumthang.
The Bhutan Foundation (FB) based in Washington D.C. has started work on securing fund for the project in the United States and other countries, and the government has committed to match funds, according to the BF president, Dr Bruce W Bunting.
The FB also submitted nomination to the World Monuments Fund (WMF) for watch listing. Dr Bunting said, once Wangduecholing palace is registered under the WMF watch list, the project will qualify for additional matching funds from the WMF. The nomination result is expected to be declared later this year. Last year, WMF included Phajoding lhakhang in the watch list. “If not listed, WMF won’t be directly involved,” Dr Bunting said. The BF has already started work on securing other support including the planned visit in May of Zack McKown from TsAO & McKown Architects in New York. Zack will be working with the culture department to help Bhutanese architects and planning and designing the project. TsAO & McKown Architects were involved in restoring the Jainfu Palace (palace of established happiness) in the Forbidden City in Beijing, China.
The three-year project, to be carried out in two phases, is estimated to cost more than USD 5.328M.
The first phase of the project includes survey, documentation, condition assessment, meeting with stakeholders, preparation of restoration and project proposals, approvals from authorities and establishment of project team. It will cost USD 0.28M. The second phase, which includes restoration work on the structures, landscaping, establishment of management plan and opening of the museum, is estimated to cost about USD 5.1M. The division of conservation of heritage sites of the home ministry will coordinate and manage the project. Dr Bruce Bunting said, after the project is completed, the new museum will not only provide educational opportunities, but will also boost the local economy of the community through heritage tourism. Gallery and office will be provided to local artists and other members of the community to encourage the development and conservation of arts and crafts.
The initiative to restore the Wangduecholing palace, Dr Bunting said, was taken to preserve the aura and the grandeur of the palace that has remained neglected for over 50 years. “Lack of resources for maintenance has left the palace in a “precarious state”, according to the BF report submitted to WMF. The report stated that the stunning carvings and paintings on the façade of the palace, and the timber frames of the windows and walls have deteriorated and are in danger of being damaged beyond repair. “New development, including hotels, that are being built right next to the palace has created challenges to the significant and beauty of the site,” stated the project document.
Brief History: Wangduecholing palace was constructed in 1857 as a private mansion by Jigme Namgyal, who unified the feudal regions of Bhutan, and laid the grounds for the election of his son Ugyen Wangchuck as the first King of Bhutan.
The location of the palace in the Jakar valley is said to be on the very grounds of one of his most famous battle camps. Born in this mansion, GongsarUgyen Wangchuck established the first historic offices and courts of the Wangchuck dynasty when he became the first King in1907.
As the first palace of the Wangchuck dynasty, the palace is one of the most beautiful and significant representatives of 19th century Bhutanese architecture and craftsmanship that continues to influence design even today. Built mainly as a residential mansion, the palace is also unique compared to similar monuments in Bhutan that were usually designed as fortresses. The layout and design of the rooms are fascinating reflections of the life of the first monarchs of the Wangchuck dynasty.
The central temple in the courtyard built by the first King is a treasure trove of ancient murals, texts, sculptures, and textiles and an exceptional museum in its own right.
Finn Juhl’s house (1942) in Ordrup, Denmark is essential to our historical understanding of mid-century Scandinavian design and its legacy today.
From Finn Juhl’s website: “…Juhl worked with a theory which he called ‘from the inside and out.’ His idea was that furniture created the room, and the room created the facade.”
We’ve Moved to The Old American Can Factory
Tsao & McKown is now located in The Old American Can Factory,
The Old American Can Factory is an industrial complex built between 1865 and 1901 on the Fourth Street Basin of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, a place where things are still being made. It is home to a vital community of 120 people who manufacture a myriad of products, ideas and experiences for industry, arts and culture.
During the Summer the Can also hosts Rooftop Films, a non-profit film festival and production collective that supports, creates, promotes, and shows daring short films worldwide and in a weekly summer rooftop film festival.
The Museum of Modern Art (New York) presents Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955-1980 from March 29 – July 19, 2015. The exhibition is a breathtaking reintroduction to Latin America’s often overlooked but crucial contributions to modern architectural design and planning.
From the exhibition statement: the Museum of Modern Art “returns to the region to offer a complex overview of the positions, debates, and architectural creativity from Mexico and Cuba to the Southern Cone between 1955 and the early 1980s. This period of self-questioning, exploration, and complex political shifts also saw the emergence of the notion of Latin America as a landscape of development, one in which all aspects of cultural life were colored in one way or another by this new attitude to what emerged as the ‘Third World.’…Architects met these challenges with formal, urbanistic, and programmatic innovation, much of it relevant still to the challenges of our own period, in which Latin America is again providing exciting and challenging architecture and urban responses to the ongoing issues of modernization and development, though in vastly different economic and political contexts than those considered in this major historical reevaluation.”
The Design Trust For Public Space “are a nationally-recognized incubator that transforms and evolves the city’s landscape with city agencies and community collaborators. Our work can be seen, felt and experienced throughout all five boroughs–from parks and plazas to streets and public buildings” in New York.
Phase II, conducted in partnership with the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, built on the policy and metrics recommendations developed in the first phase in order to strengthen and expand urban agriculture in NYC.
The Design trust for Public Space are now in Phase III of the project and are working towards increasing the quantity of of data on urban agriculture in NYC and identifying sustainable funding models for urban agriculture. The number of food producing farms in New York has increased by 28% in the last two years and The Design Trust for Public Space hope to create the available infrastructure for this number to continue to rise in the future.
Re[Framing] Provincetown: Animating History Through Sharing was an installation and exhibition that engaged passers-by by to focus their thoughts on the character of public space and become more aware of their built environment. On view from August 15th – October 31st, 2014, the project created links between the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, the Provincetown community, and visitors.
The American Academy in Rome supports innovative artists, writers and scholars living and working together in a dynamic international community. Tsao & McKown principal Calvin Tsao sits on the Board of the American Academy in Rome.
“For the Academy” – Jenny Holtz RAAR’04
Annually they award the Rome Prize to a select group of artists and scholars. The winners are invited to Rome to pursue their work in an atmosphere conducive to intellectual and artistic freedom, interdisciplinary exchange, and innovation.
In 2009, Zack McKown helped to found desigNYC, a not-for-profit whose mission is to help match deserving community groups and other not-for-profits in need of design services with professional, designers willing to offer pro-bono services to help reinvigorate local communities in need.
desigNYC’s mission is to deliver the transformative power of design to nonprofits in New York. Our program connects civic-minded designers with extraordinary nonprofits for pro bono design projects. Our focus is local. Our approach is multidisciplinary. Our process is participatory, and community centric.
One of their many, ongoing programs is the Two Bridges Neighbourhood Council, which is helping residents of the Lower East Side of Manhattan understand climate change. The program is working to make Pier 42 a living laboratory, to publicly demonstrate and explore local climate impacts in a low-lying, low-income waterfront neighborhood on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
“The United States faces two immense and inextricable challenges: how to reimagine the American way of life to address the impacts of climate change, and how to build a new and robust economic structure that offers viable and sustainable livelihoods and lifestyles across the income spectrum for all Americans. The Architectural League today launches The Five Thousand Pound Life—an initiative of public events, digital releases, and a major design study—as a contribution to what must be a broad collective effort, spanning geographies, generations, occupations, disciplines, and ideologies, to address those intertwined challenges.”
– Rosalie Genevro, Executive Director, The Architectural League
Whilst exploring our new neighbourhood we have discoverd a favorite … the restaurant with Chef Angelo Romano (formerly at Roberta’s and Masten Lake) creates incredible dishes, with menus altered daily.
IMC Octave was founded as a platform to explore the serious challenges we face as a society in the 21st century: the new realities of urban and rural life, the endless consumption of elective commodities, and the spiritual and cultural void that has resulted. Our mission is to enrich people’s lives with meaningful experiences that provide the tools for individuals to cope with the consequences of our new modernity, to elevate their overall quality of life.
With roots in Asia, Fred Tsao, Chairman of IMC Pan Asia Alliance Group, along with his brother, Calvin Tsao, Principal of Tsao & McKown Architects, saw an opportunity to challenge the norm in China as the country confronts a critical juncture in its course of development. China’s long-term stability is not just an issue for the nation; it is a global challenge. The brothers’ partnership brings together design, design-thinking, politics, culture, and economics, creating a synergy that guides Octave’s approach to the research and development of new models for 21st century living.
Through a tripartite venture with non-profits, businesses and government bodies, we are exploring initiatives in sustainability, health and wellness, learning, arts, agriculture, and new models of consumerism. These initiatives serve as the foundation of our holistic communities.
The collaboration between Tsao & McKown and Octave is a hybrid designer-developer relationship. This partnership draws on the expertise of teams with a variety of perspectives; teams that can exchange ideas and share resources on how to integrate our initiatives into the built environment.
The Bhutan Foundation serves the people of Bhutan in living and sharing the principle of Gross National Happiness. We cherish the values of the Bhutanese intention: measuring “happiness” as the highest attribute of all decision-making. We contribute to strategies of conservation of the environment, equitable and sustainable development, good governance, and preservation of culture in Bhutan. The Bhutan Foundation serves as the only American not-for-profit organization that is wholly focused on the benefit of the country and people of Bhutan, bridging understanding between our two countries and beyond.
Tsao & McKown are currently working with the Bhutan Foundation on the Renovation & Rehabilitation of Wangduechhoeling Palace In Bumthang. Zack McKown is also a board member of The Bhutan Foundation.
Tsao & McKown presented four concepts for lipstick covers to the Shu Uemura creative team. Each was meant to explore and reinterpret what a lipstick cover could be, beyond the constraints of typical appearance and formal function. View full project here.