While architects once considered concrete a building's underwear – an essential but hidden layer – Tadao Ando's structures display their concrete with pride. There's a story (which Ando's team declined to confirm) that is used to illustrate how seriously Ando takes the material: when the architect, a former boxer, saw a construction worker ash a cigarette into the concrete mixture for one of Ando's buildings, he reportedly slugged the man.
Over the course of his nearly 50-year career, Ando has helped transform the gritty, grey material often associated with driveways and median strips into an artistic medium. "Every architect I know who wants to do something in concrete always refers to him as the ideal in concrete design," says Reg Hough, a US-based international concrete consultant who has for decades worked closely with top architects, including Ando, IM Pei, and Richard Meier.
Having left his mark on cities from Tokyo to Fort Worth to Milan, Ando is now overseeing construction of a seven-unit concrete-and-glass condominium building, 152 Elizabeth, his first stand-alone structure in New York City.
Ando is hardly the first architect to embrace concrete; he cites the brutalist architect Le Corbusier, an earlier concrete virtuoso, as an influence. But while Le Corbusier and his peers used concrete in ways that suggested a heavy ruggedness – Prince Charles ungenerously described Owen Luder's now demolished brutalist Tricorn Centre in Portsmouth, Britain, as a "mildewed lump of elephant droppings" – Ando's concrete, which is smooth to the touch, seems more like cashmere.
Read more: http://www.afr.com/lifestyle/home-design/luminous-in-concrete-architect-tadao-andos-manhattan-tour-de-force-20170418-gvmyw1
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