In Memoriam, Architecture – “Buildings are forms of performances.” Once said Rafael Viñoli. Walk under the 60-meter-high curtain wall of the Tokyo International Forum or explore contemporary art under the sunlight-responsive glass vault of the Fortabat Contemporary Art Museum in Buenos Aires. In that case, you can experience the mesmerising performance of architecture and light by the Uruguayan architect. Viñoly passed away in New York City on March 2, 2023, aged 78.
Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1944, Viñoly moved to Buenos Aires at five. He studied architecture at the University of Buenos Aires, and while he was still a student, he co-founded Estudio de Arquitectura, which became one of the largest in South America.
In 1978, the military junta in Argentina prompted him and his family to emigrate to the United States, where he established Rafael Viñoly Architects, which now has offices in the US, UK, UAE, and Argentina. His designs spanned office and residential buildings, hotels, concert halls, stadiums, and airports across six continents.
“I’m incredibly proud of the integrity of the work our team has produced over many decades and on very complex projects, and I am honoured and humbled by our team’s unwavering commitment during this profound time of loss.” Said Jay Bargmann, vice president of Rafael Viñoly Architects.
432 Park Avenue
New York City, United States, 2015.
The 425 metres high rectilinear and super skinny residential skyscraper in Manhattan is one of the studio’s most iconic projects. The controversial building consists of a gridded concrete tower encasing 85 storeys overlooking – and overshadowing, as many complained – Central Park. Flooding and high winds issues made Viñoly admit that the architecture had some “screw-ups.”
Tokyo International Forum
Tokyo, Japan, 1996.
The Tokyo International Forum looks like a ship cutting through the waves of the city’s financial district. Its centrepiece is the Glass Hall, a 225-metre-long and 60-metre-high atrium. “At night, light reflecting off the surface of the roof truss ribs transforms the structure into a monolithic floating light source illuminating the Glass Hall and profiling it in the Tokyo skyline,” said Rafael Viñoly Architects.
Colección de Arte Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat
Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2008.
In Buenos Aires’s historic Puerto Madero neighborhood, Viñoly completed a public art museum for the extensive modern and contemporary European and Argentine art collection of Argentine businesswoman, art collector, and philanthropist Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat. Sun-responsive and distinctive operable shading devices control light entering the barrel-vaulted galleries during the day and expose the gallery to the city after sunset.
Carasco International Airport
Montevideo, Uruguay, 2009.
The Carasco International Airport in Montevideo features a curved roof spanning over 365 metres. The design of the building emphasizes its public zones and amenities, providing these areas with an abundance of open space and natural light. Arriving travelers pass through a fully glazed mezzanine level. A public, landscaped terrace and a restaurant occupy the second floor, providing sweeping views of the runway and the main concourse.
20 Fenchurch Street
London, United Kingdom, 2016.
Officially known as 20 Fenchurch Street, the Walkie-Talkie has become one of London’s most recognisable buildings. The controversial high-rise building’s nickname derives from its curving shape, created by the larger floor plates on its upper levels. The building has been blamed for reflecting light intense enough to melt cars, as well as channeling gusts of wind strong enough to knock people over.
Laguna Garzón Bridge
Intended to create a “lagoon inside a lagoon,” the ring-shaped Laguna Garzón Bridge replaces an existing raft crossing where people can swim, fish, or sightsee. “The concept of the Puente Laguna Garzon was to transform a traditional vehicular crossing into an event that reduces the speed of the cars, to provide an opportunity to enjoy panoramic views of an amazing landscape, and at the same time create a pedestrian place in the centre.”
Cleveland Museum of Art
Cleveland, Ohio, United States, 2009.
The East Wing extension to the Cleveland Museum of Art in Ohio, USA, connects the original 1916 Beaux-Arts building and a later addition by Marcel Breuer completed in 1971. The extension features double-height exhibition spaces, an entrance lobby on the lower level, new galleries on level two, and expanded offices and workrooms for the conservation department on level one.