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Going Inside Cool: ‘Cool Spaces’ Tours New Architecture
March 22, 2014  | By Eric Gould
 

Design and architecture often have been front and center on television over the past decade, due mostly to the waves of popular reality shows dedicated to home improvement. We love it when things get torn apart, cut, rebuilt and repainted, and the magic all happens inside an hour.

Perhaps less frequent, but no less necessary, are shows that go outside the home, into the city and beyond, to show us new ideas and new ways of building that will be setting the trend for public places for decades to come.

One current effort, a new four-part series hosted by Boston architect Stephen Chung called Cool Spaces! The Best New Architecture, will roll out along PBS stations nationwide beginning in April. Cool Spaces is a lively look at cutting-edge buildings and their architects, and shows us how, either through shape or material, they became so cool.

With Cool Spaces, Chung is attempting to bring the matter of high architectural design into use and make it more accessible. He wrote in an email in response to an inquiry from TVWW, “While I hope that architects like the show, they are not the target… It should feel more like a behind-the-scenes tour of a cool building, a way to share my passion for architecture with the general public — and those who use the places we create.”  

With that, Chung delivers short segments that diagram how the buildings were planned and then put together. But the emphasis of the show is on the place and the people, not the designers.

The first episode of Cool Spaces focuses on the new American cathedrals — modern sports palaces. Chung visits the soaring steel and glass Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Texas and walks with Owner Jerry Jones.

It’s Texas, so everything is bigger, better, higher. Glass walls splay out to appear more dynamic, two giant trusses arc the length of the football field to hold up the roof, and the entire glass side of the building can retract and open to the weather when desired.

The better segment is the visit to the Barclays Center opened last year in Brooklyn, home of the NBA Brooklyn Nets, marking the return of professional sports to Brooklyn a half-century after the Dodgers left for LA. It is imaginatively clad in linear steel sections that have been naturally rusted like old autos in the yard. The effect is like an urban nest or giant trellis that is more like a sculpture than a building, and shows very well how new architecture can radically change what we think of as the city, yet what can also feel utterly appropriate and natural, as it might have been there all along before we noticed.

That’s Cool Spaces at its best – showing how innovation arrives and blends into the everyday. Chung is doing it here with the upper end of the economic spectrum – concert halls and sports palaces, and in later episodes, going to cutting-edge libraries and art museums. The Property Brothers have the lowbrow ranch house transmogrifications covered on HGTV.

Hopefully soon, someone will take on all the strip malls, office buildings and apartment houses, and show us how those – the places where we spend most of our time – can be cool, too.

(For upcoming listings, see the CoolSpaces website here.)

 
 
 
 
 
 
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