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United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum

The Shape of Accessibility

Diller Scofidio + Renfro

United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum
By Luca Maria Francesco Fabris -

This year, New York-based studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) is celebrating 40 years in business. Although this is an enormity of time either side of the new millennium, it seems not to have affected the freshness of the ideas of these “cross-genre” designers. In all likelihood, this is the source of their particular strength: a glance at their website turns up projects that have become true global icons of contemporary architecture, interspersed with references from the worlds of art, fashion, multimedia and indeed everything else that, practically-speaking, is associated with esthetics in general.

Such esthetics-related elements become tangible, veritable manifestations that, in a balanced way, are blended as multipliers into their final configuration. Elements that, in the hands of others, might only be artistic, are structured at DS+R into benchmarks through innovative technological choices and architectural solutions that become new standards.

All of the studio’s partners - four, since Benjamin Gilmartin joined in 2015 - are also dedicated to teaching, which offers an excellent proving ground, an untethered environment in which to test out compromise-free ideas that may subsequently be recombined into real projects.

In some ways, the studio’s work is a direct consequence of choices that we might define as rational, a desire to move away from preordained genres. These choices have manifested themselves through unexpected compositional and performance connotations, perhaps, without ever becoming completely beholden to transdisciplinary end-results for their own sake. Rather than mixing genres, the practice works across them. To be clear, the High Line is principally a landscape architecture project, The Shed is a work of architecture, yet neither of them set limits; they have become part of a process of re-discovering urban space that lends substance to relationships on a human scale. From parametric...

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