Passion Points: Arts/Culture
“It was both an incredible honor and an exhilarating challenge to create the Wright,” says New York-based architect Andre Kikoski who oversaw the stunning new restaurant that opened in New York’s Guggenheim Museum a few weeks ago. The first addition to the building’s iconic interior, the restaurant has been widely hailed as beautifully holding its own against the world-class art that surrounds it. The New York Times stated: “Rather than executing Wright’s original sketches, Kikoski turned the space—most recently a generic cafeteria with brown carpeting—into a modern homage to the legendary architect, who designed the museum to harmonize with the artwork within.” New York-based Kikoski spoke to Indagare about the challenges of designing with the ghost of Frank Lloyd Wright and about his other favorite restaurants around the world.
What details do you love most about the Wright?
We sought to address Frank Lloyd Wright’s celebrated aesthetics by creating a contemporary response to complement the building. This project is highly tactile and crafted from innovative materials. These include LED-lit fiber-optic layered walnut panels, a shimmering skin of innovative custom metalwork, seamless Corian surfaces, illuminated planes of woven grey texture, and a glowing white canopy of layered taut membrane. Together these materials and colors form a complement to the site-specific artwork by Liam Gillick. The surfaces and textures embody movement, creating an ever-changing aesthetic that is enlivened with subtle layers of illumination and glowing tiers of light that envelop the room. The space achieves an elegant and dynamic setting for dining that both celebrates the museum and transcends it.
What are some other restaurants/cafes in museums that you like?
We also designed Café 3 at the Guggenheim, an espresso bar on the museum’s third floor, off the Kandinsky Gallery overlooking Central Park. This café shares what so many of my other favorite museum venues offer: a fantastic view! At the Tate Modern Restaurant, the London skyline unfolds before you, and is unbeatable, in any weather; plus, I still crave the delicious lunch I had there several years ago. And I like the rooftop Denver Museum of Contemporary Art Café, in a stunning building by David Adjaye, with commanding vistas of the Rockies beyond. Finally, I love Restaurant Georges at the Centre Pompidou as much for its fun sculptural forms as the memorable Parisian vantage.
What are some of your favorite restaurants in New York?
The Four Seasons Restaurant (99 East 52nd St.; 212-754-9494) is an all-time favorite design venue. The clean lines, rich materials, and overall warmth are just as beautiful as the day it opened fifty years ago. The simple elegance of Corton, and the elaborate presentation of the dishes, makes for a memorable evening. Marea is just stunningly beautiful food, and the design updates familiar Art Deco themes and materials gracefully. Sakagura, tantalizingly authentic Japanese in the basement of a nondescript office building by Grand Central, is a total and utter surprise. The food is amazing, and is just as good as the best-kept secrets in Tokyo. And I love Aquavit (65 E 55th St.; 212-307-7311) for the classic Arne Jacobson furniture, the dramatic vaulted spaces, the rich play of Scandinavian materials, and of course the fantastic cuisine.
What projects are you currently working on?
We are designing a new townhouse near Gramercy Park, which will be designed to LEED standards, for a former modeling agency mogul turned environmentalist-entrepreneur and his young family. In LA, we are creating a waterfront residence for a collector to showcase his collection of European and Asian furniture and art. And we are working on 1280 Fifth Avenue, over the new Museum for African Art, a 165,000 square foot project that is LEED-certified (Robert A.M. Stern designed the tower exterior).
Read about five exciting NYC restaurant debuts in early 2010
Read about tours the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust can arrange.
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