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Weiss/Manfredi fuse nature and urbanity


Weiss/Manfredi fuse nature and urbanity
By Michael Webb -
BEGA, Arper have participated in the project

Weiss/Manfredi occupy the sweet spot of contemporary architecture, creating buildings and landscapes that are neither conventional nor showy. Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi opened their New York office in 1993, after working together at the firm Mitchell | Giurgola, and there is a thoughtful consistency in everything they do. Their parks are a fusion of nature and urbanity, and their academic buildings emphasize transparency and a fluid flow of space. Each project is
site-specific and distinctive, but it’s easy to discern the threads that unite them.
Their practice was born of chance. “We were both convinced we would teach and not have partners,” recalls Weiss. “We had the good fortune to win two competitions, back to back, and that compelled us to establish ourselves as a firm.” They first won widespread acclaim for the Olympic Sculpture Park, which bridges a highway and railroad tracks to open up the waterfront of Seattle. They’ve repeated that success on a former industrial site in New York, and created a visitors center that seems to grow organically from a berm in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. That follows their early achievement of deftly inserting the Women’s Memorial into the hallowed ground of the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC. Now they are back in the capital with a competition-winning design to reconfigure the Sylvan Theater,
an outdoor amphitheater beside the Washington Monument.
Some of the best university buildings in the US have emerged from their office over the past decade. Barnard College Diana Center was explored in THE PLAN 053. Their recently completed Nanotechnology Center in Philadelphia is featured here. Designs for an even more challenging assignment have just been unveiled: a vibrant core for the new university campus on Roosevelt Island, in New York’s East River. Formerly occupied by a prison, an insane asylum, and a chronic care facility, the island...

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