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From its two-acre plot in the heart of Marrakech’s medina, El Fenn has garnered international adoration since first opening in 2004 thanks to its eccentric design, co-owner Vanessa Branson’s blue-chip art collection, and an intoxicating bohemian energy best experienced on the candle-lit rooftop terrace where sundown cocktails are served to a soundtrack of a DJ’s low-bpm beats and the call to prayer. The intimate nature of the property is part of its appeal, though nabbing a room during high season can prove challenging.
It may have just become a little easier. El Fenn is unveiling an expansion that connects the annex down the road to the original property. Architect Sylvain Ragueneau looked to the ancient royal palaces of Morocco for inspiration when designing the new riad, which hosts 10 additional idiosyncratic suites. True to form, local artisans decorated the interiors with hand-carved cedar wood ceilings and tadelakt walls in vibrant jewel tones using pure pigments from the medina. For anyone who has stayed at the hotel, the traditional open fireplaces, stained-glass windows, and vintage clawfoot tubs will feel familiar. In other words, it’s more El Fenn. What could be better than that? —Nate Storey
NASA demolishes a 1960s office building at Alabama’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
“NASA has imploded the administrative headquarters of the Marshall Space Flight Center to make way for a new state-of-the-art facility on the storied site in Huntsville, Alabama. The Marshall Space Flight Center, a 1,800-acre-campus that houses laboratories and research centers focused on rocket and spacecraft propulsion, has been in operation since 1960. Building 4200, the administrative headquarters, was one of the first buildings on the property; the 11-story curtain wall structure was designed by Fort Worth architect Wyatt C. Hendrick. Completed in 1963, it served as the administrative office for the research center, including that of all 14 Marshall Space Flight Center directors.” [H/T The Architect’s Newspaper]
The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden has announced the selection of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Selldorf Architects to jointly develop a modernization plan for the museum’s interior and plaza. After nearly a half-century, the Hirshhorn will upgrade galleries and public spaces to respond to the requirements of a public museum of modern and contemporary art and its dramatic increases in attendance since 2017. ‘Art making has changed dramatically since our opening in 1974, and the Hirshhorn’s annual attendance has increased 40 percent in the past five years,’ said Melissa Chiu, director of the museum. ‘In response to these developments, the revitalization of our museum campus prepares us for the 21st century. We are pleased to work with SOM | Selldorf to do this.’” [H/T Smithsonian]
“A major German museum, the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, unveiled a work by the Iran-born, New York-based artist Shirin Neshat on its façade following the death of Mahsa Amini. The intervention—which took place on Sunday—is the most high-profile institutional show of support for protests in Iran after museums in the UK and US were criticized for failing to address the worsening human rights situation in the country. Amini, also known as Jina, died in an Iranian hospital in September after being detained by the regime’s morality police for allegedly not complying with the country’s hijab regulations. Her death sparked ongoing mass protests in Tehran and cities across Iran.” [H/T The Art Newspaper]
OMA breaks ground on a shape-shifting building for Tokyo’s Harajuku Quest mall.
“OMA has broken ground on the new Harajuku Quest mall, located in a luxury shopping destination in Tokyo. Initially opened in 1988, the complex has been operating as a facility with fashion stores, cafes, and restaurants until its closure in 2021. Today, the shopping center is undergoing a sweeping makeover that sees it as a new landmark. Its completion is scheduled for spring 2025. Facing Omotesando, a zelkova tree-lined avenue known as one of the greatest ‘architectural showcase’ streets in the world, the structure confirms the charm of the region. Generous amounts of glazing wrap the intricate facade, which appears to shift its shape depending on the perspective of the viewer.” [H/T Designboom]
AB+AC Architects reveals a pristine wellness center and artists’ residence in Lisbon.
“Portuguese practice AB+AC Architects has designed a multifunctional wellness center in Lisbon that doubles up as an artists’ residence. The Open Hearts wellness center is arranged around one large room, which AB+AC Architects refers to as the shala. This Sanskrit term refers to the idea of home but also, in the context of yoga, a place where people can learn and practice together. As well as yoga classes, this adaptable space will host everything from breathwork classes and sound baths to meditation sessions, film screenings, dining experiences, and creative writing workshops.” [H/T Dezeen]
Climate protesters target Berlin’s Natural History Museum and Alte Nationalgalerie.
“Over the weekend, activists staged demonstrations at two Berlin museums, citing the government’s lack of action to address the climate crisis. At Berlin’s Natural History Museum, two women wearing orange reflective vests glued themselves to the handrails surrounding a dinosaur skeleton on display, with a banner that read ‘What if the government doesn’t have it under control?’ Meanwhile, across town, authorities were alerted to an incident at the Alte Nationalgalerie, where protesters threw fake blood at a famous Henri Toulouse-Lautrec painting, Clown, which was covered in glass, before supergluing themselves to the wall next to the work. The culprit’s hand was removed from the wall, and they were taken into custody, according to museum officials.” [H/T Artnet News]