The Niemeyer Sphere Opens in Leipzig, Aston Martin Designs a House, and Other News

Our daily look at the world through the lens of design.

Sylvan Rock, a house in Hudson Valley, New York, designed by Aston Martin and S3 Architecture

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Aston Martin reveals its first residential design in the Hudson Valley.

Aston Martin appears to be venturing into residential design. The British vehicle brand’s Automotive Galleries and Lairs division recently unveiled its debut home: the angular black-cedar Sylvan Rock, a decidedly Modernist-inspired structure that sits on 55 wooded acres near the Catskill Mountains in Hudson Valley, New York. Launched in collaboration with S3 Architecture, the project inaugurates Aston Martin’s newly launched bespoke design service, which will partner with architecture firms around the world to conceive extraordinary spaces for clients to display their showpiece motors.

At Sylvan Rock, vehicles will preside within a subterranean gallery-style room that’s completely enclosed by glass panels. “Working with [the Aston Martin design team], we evolved our creative process to view the residence in a similar way as designing an Aston Martin car,” says S3 Architecture partner Doug Maxwell, “by designing in 360 degrees, where no specific angle or facade took preference or dominance.”

New York restaurateurs seek clarity on propane heater allowances for outdoor dining.

As temperatures plunge in New York City, restaurants are still in the dark about the guidelines for propane heaters to support permanent outdoor dining. Previously illegal, the local government announced that culinary establishments would be allowed to use the heaters to prolong outdoor dining given they secure a permit from the FDNY.

The guidelines were scheduled to be released at the end of September but still haven’t arrived, leaving business owners frustrated and desperate for answers. Adding insult to injury, a reported shortage has made sourcing the propane warmers difficult and expensive. It’s been a challenging few months for the food industry in New York and beyond, but some innovative tactics have helped keep businesses afloat until the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. 

Area15 in Las Vegas, Nevada

A new sculpture park in Las Vegas offers unburnt Burning Man art a permanent home.

The curiously named Area15, a new art and entertainment complex that features an outdoor gallery of monumental, vaguely psychedelic Burning Man–style sculptures, has opened in the Las Vegas desert. Even though co-founder Michael Beneville—the namesake of New York creative agency Beneville Studios—likens the austere main building to the monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, don’t expect any extraterrestrial conspiracy theories here.

Instead, Instagrammable moments catering to the fraught “experience economy” abound: Find eye-catching sculptures from the likes of Michael Benisty and Alchemy Arts that seek to recreate the Burning Man spirit outside, and festival-oriented gift shops and immersive artist-designed environments inside. To bring Area15 to life, Beneville teamed up with real estate firm Fisher Brothers, who signed on the arts and entertainment company Meow Wolf as the anchor tenant. The 52,000-square-foot space is expected to open in early 2021.

Universal Music announces UMUSIC Hotels, a trio of soon-to-be-launched experiential hotels

Even as hospitality businesses are closing at a rapid pace, Universal Music Group is venturing into the hotel game. Plans for three “music–based experiential properties” have been announced for Atlanta, Orlando, and Biloxi, Mississippi. The UMUSIC Hotel brand will function as a holistic entertainment venue with performance spaces for live concerts that reflect each city’s music scene and host artists from UMG’s roster, which includes marquee names like Taylor Swift, Kanye West, and Billie Eilish. All-in-one concert and accommodations passes—as well as balconies with views of the stage—are only some of the unconventional offerings that future guests can expect.

Though immediate comparisons to the Hard Rock Hotels seem valid, UMG insists UMUSIC will offer an entirely new experience—a gargantuan, amped-up one at that. According to a local report, the $1.2 billion, 266-acre UMUSIC Broadwater Hotel in Biloxi will bring a 12,000-capacity concert venue, a golf course, a marina, 18,000 square feet of retail, and a 125,00-square-foot casino.

The Niemeyer Sphere in Leipzig, Germany

The Niemeyer Sphere, one of Oscar Niemeyer’s final designs, opens in Leipzig, Germany.

In Germany, what appears to be a curious Space Age–style protuberance from the Techne Sphere Leipzig’s brick industrial building is actually one of Oscar Niemeyer’s final designs. Known as the Niemeyer Sphere, the structural oddity was based on one of Niemeyer’s sketches from 2011, one year before the Brazilian architect died at age 104. His studio manager, Jair Velara, was committed to making the Niemeyer Sphere come to life—work commenced in 2017 and was expected to finish the following year, though it experienced delays while liquid-crystal glass windows were being manufactured off-site.

Now, the concrete sphere plays host to a bi-level extension of the railway crane supplier Kirow Ardelt AG’s cafeteria and the Portuguese destination dining venue Céu, both headed by chef Tibor Herzigkeit. The Techne Sphere Leipzig’s website puts it better than we ever could: “Invite your friends, family, acquaintances, or business partners to the utopian structure and enjoy an evening of revolutionary humanistic ethos!”

After a devastating fire, the Museum of Chinese in America receives a $3 million grant.

The Museum of Chinese in America seemed to be having one of its worst years on record. After a January fire devastated the Chinatown building that held its extensive archives and endangered its roughly 85,000 historic artifacts, the coronavirus pandemic prompted a surge of anti-Asian harassment and shut down the museum’s operations for months. The embattled institution seemed to be at risk of permanent closure when the Ford Foundation informed president Nancy Yao Maasbach that the museum would receive a $3 million grant to provide pandemic relief for arts organizations run by people of color.

The amount represents more than one year’s budget for the small institution, which Maasbach describes as “an absolute game changer.” The grant, which will be disbursed over a four-year period, will help conserve and repair items in the collection that were damaged in January’s fire, which prompted a lengthy, multimillion-dollar recovery process. But things are looking up: next week, the museum will open a temporary space nearby on Howard Street and will display heirlooms salvaged from the fire in storefront windows. 

“WHAT PARTY” by KAWS at the Seagram Building in New York. Image courtesy of Skarstedt Gallery

Today’s attractive distractions:

Ed Ruscha photographed the 1960s Sunset Strip in all its groovy glory.

A Greyhound Scenicruiser Bus parks atop Nashville’s new Bobby Hotel.

KAWS plops a giant sculpture outside of New York’s Seagram Building.

This new wearable tech epitomizes the Silicon Valley engagement ring.


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