Search results for "Claes Oldenburg"

Virtual Arcade

AN’s architectural highlights from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, including V.R. experiences
At Tribeca’s “immersive” Virtual Arcade, the virtual reality (VR) film The People’s House offered a tour of the public and private rooms of the White House with tour guides Barack and Michelle Obama. Highlighting artifacts and artworks as the embodiment of the philosophies and policies of their administration (Michelle cites Alma Thomas’s painting Resurrection, 1966, in the Old Family Dining Room), it is a stark reminder of how quickly life has changed. It was comforting to think that The People’s House is a vessel that will continue to change as administrations come and go. The following is a rundown of films and VR installations that use architecture and art that appeared at the recent festival, and that you should look out for. A few referred to the dilemma of finding or keeping housing in New York City. The Boy Downstairs finds Zosia Mamet’s character locating the perfect Brooklyn apartment when she returns to New York from a few years in London; her character is granted approval by the resident bohemian landlady who takes her under her wing, only to find that her ex-boyfriend is in the basement apartment. Will real estate triumph over emotional health? Black Magic for White Boys is an independently produced TV pilot where New York real estate plays a key role: a landlord is frustrated that he cannot raise his tenants’ rent, a magician hatches a devilish plan to save his small theater, and gentrification is causing an older version of New York to fade away. Permission finds woodworker Will (Dan Stevens) fixing up a brownstone for his long-time girlfriend Anna (Rebecca Hall), to whom he can’t quite propose. As they begin to experiment with other people, Will’s handmade furniture and house are no longer creating a home. I LIVED: Brooklyn investigates the borough’s distinct neighborhoods. If you missed Manifesto at the Park Avenue Armory, its segments have been woven into a film featuring Cate Blanchett playing different characters (newscaster, homeless man, puppeteer, punk rocker) who deliver architecture manifestos by Bruno Taut (1920/21), Antonio Sant’Elia (1914), Coop Himmelb(l)au (1980), Robert Venturi (1993), as well artists’ manifestos including Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto, Lars von Trier’s Dogma 95, and others on Dadaism, Surrealism, Minimalism, Pop Art, Situationism, Merz, Spatilaism, and The Blau Rider written by Tristan Tzara, Kazimir Malevich, André Breton, Claes Oldenburg, Yvonne Rainer, Sturtevant, Sol LeWitt, Jim Jarmusch, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, and others. Artist Laurie Simmons stars in her directorial debut, My Art. Although her character has been able to sustain her life as an artist by teaching, she has not broken out, while her students (real life daughter Lena Dunham’s character, for example) and friends have. She accepts the summer loan of a gracious summer house, complete with gardens and pool, and spends the summer making films that recreate Hollywood films. These finally give her both the satisfaction and attention she craves. Scenes take place at the Whitney Museum and Salon 94 Bowery. Shadowman is Richard Hambleton, a street artist who was part of a trio that included Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring in the 1980s whose work appeared all around New York City streets. The other two became art stars, their work came inside to galleries and was widely collected, and both died young (drug overdose and AIDS). Although Hambleton at first attained commercial and critical success—featured in LIFE magazine, and with works displayed at the Venice Biennale—he spun out with homelessness and an addiction to heroin. The film chronicles his rediscovery and a planned comeback, sponsored by Giorgio Armani, with Hambleton still painting his mesmerizing shadow-like figures. Movingly, he says that although he is still alive while his fellow artists are not, he is the waking dead. What a contrast to Julian Schnabel: A Private Portrait, which chronicles this confident, gregarious artist and filmmaker from his childhood in Brooklyn and Brownsville, Texas, through his rise as a Neo-Expressionist painter (remember his plate paintings?). Schnabel came to be acknowledged for his extroverted, excessive approach to his work and life (frequently seen in silk pajamas, he lives and works in Montauk, Long Island, and in a 170-foot-tall pink Venetian-styled house in the West Village called Palazzo Chupi) as he moved into filmmaking (Basquiat, 1995, Before Night Falls, 2000, and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, 2007). We have access to Schnabel and to friends and colleagues Al Pacino, Mary Boone, Jeff Koons, Bono, and Laurie Anderson. Schnabel is one of many art luminaries who appear in Blurred Lines: Inside the Art World which lifts the curtain on the art world economy, or the glamorous and cutthroat game of genius versus commerce where art is created, exhibited, and sold. Museum directors (Glenn Lowry, Michael Govan), collectors (Michael Ovitz), auctioneers (Simon de Pury, Amy Cappelazzo, Lisa Dennison), gallerists (Iwan Wirth, Andrea Rosen), artists (Rashid Johnson, Marina Abramowitz), and many more, appear. Another crash and burn, but with a comeback, is Zac Posen in House of Z, the name of his fashion house. Son of an artist father, he attended St. Ann’s in Brooklyn with Stella Schnabel, Paz de la Huerta, Claire Danes, and Jemima Kirk, for whom he created outfits. He rose quickly at age 21, then his brand fell out of favor and his challenge was to rebuild his company and his reputation in a tenuous dance between art and commerce. More consistent is Hilda, a short about octogenarian Hilda O’Connell who has been making art since the 1950s. She started in a studio on 10th St. alongside Willem de Kooning, Milton Resnick, and Esteban Vicente, and showed at the Aegis Gallery. She continues to make paintings that use language and alphabets in colorful, gestural work. At Tribeca Immersive, in Apex we see a city withstand a violent windstorm created by a looming sun. The viewer is surrounded by buildings being whipped by the elements. Island of the Colorblind is inspired by Pingelap, a tropical island in Micronesia with an extraordinarily high percentage of achromatopsia (complete colorblindness), a highly hereditary condition. The filmmaker says, “Color is just a word to those who cannot see it. If the colorblind people paint with their mind, how would they color the world, the trees, themselves?” The Island of the Colorblind consists of three kinds of images; ‘normal’ digital black and white photos, infrared images, and photo-paintings. Together they are symbolic attempts to visualize how the colorblind people see the world. A highlight is Hallelujah, which reimagines Leonard Cohen’s song. The experience is centered around a five-part a cappella arrangement sung by one singer with a wide vocal range in-the-round. As you rotate your head to view each rendition, the directional sound moves with you. Hallelujah employs Lytro Immerge, which enables live action VR content to behave as it does in the real world. The opening night film was Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives, which profiles the music impresario behind the careers of Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston, Santana, Aretha Franklin, Barry Manilow, Patti Smith, Alicia Keys, Sean “Puffy” Combs, and more. Best Documentary Feature, Cinematography and Editing prizes went to Bobbi Jene, which follows dancer Bobbi Jene Smith’s return to the U.S. after starring for the Israeli dance company Batsheva. Also of note are: Blues Planet: Triptych, which explores music written in response to the Gulf Oil spill and performed by Taj Mahal; Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story is about the screen siren who was also an inventor; actors John Turturro and Bobby Cannavale dialogue on the vital subject of hair in the aptly-named Hair; Letter to the Free is about jazz behind bars; New York is Dead depicts artists who become hitmen to ear money; Nobody’s Watching is about a successful actor in Argentina who can’t get noticed in New York; Tom of Finland is about cult artist Touko Laaksonen who comes to Los Angeles; King of Peking is about a pirate movie company run by a 1990s projectionist in Beijing; When God Sleeps is about exiled Iranian musician Shahin Najafi living under a fatwa after terrorist attacks in Europe; and two films are about war photographers, Hondros and Shooting War. And I was charmed by Auto, which takes on self-driving cars: an Ethiopian immigrant driver with 40 years experience is forced to “drive” one and picks up a couple more accustomed to the service with amusing consequences. The People’s House, project creators Félix Lajeunesse, Paul Raphaël (Felix & Paul Studios) The Boy Downstairs, directed and written by Sophie Brooks Black Magic for White Boys, director Onur Tukel Permission, director and writer by Brian Crano I LIVED: Brooklyn, project creators Jonathan Nelson and Danielle Andersen Manifsto, director and writer Julian Rosefeldt My Art, director and writer Laurie Simmons Shadowman, director and cinematographer Oren Jacoby Julian Schnabel: A Private Portrait, director and writer Pappi Corsicato Blurred Lines: Inside the Art World, director and writer Barry Avrich House of Z, director and writer Sandy Chronopoulos Hilda, director and writer Kiira Benzing Apex, project creator Arjan van Meerten Island of the Colorblind, project creator Sanne De Wilde Hallelujah, project creators Zach Richter, Bobby Halvorson, Eames Kolar, Within, Lytro Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives, director Chris Perkel Bobbi Jene, director and writer by Elvira Lind Blues Planet: Triptych, director and writer Wyland Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, director and writer Alexandra Dean Hair, director John Turturro Letter to the Free, director and cinematographer Bradford Young Nobody’s Watching, director and writer Julia Solomonoff Tom of Finland, director Dome Karukoski King of Peking, director and writer Sam Voutas When God Sleeps, director and writer Till Schauder Hondros, director and writer Greg Campbell Shooting War, director Aeyliya Husain Auto, project creator Steven Schardt

Cherry on Top

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden to reopen after major renovation
The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, part of the Walker Art Center campus, is set to reopen after the completion of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Reconstruction Project. Opened nearly 30 years ago, the garden was one of the first such major sculpture parks in the United States, attracting over nine million visitors in that time. When reopened, visitors will be able to see 18 new art pieces, along with the 42 pieces that were already on display before the renovation. Six new pieces were commissioned specifically for the garden. The commissioned artists include Nairy Baghramian, Frank Big Bear, Theaster Gates, Mark Manders, Philippe Parreno, and Aaron Spangler. Additional works were collected from local and international artists, including Katharine Fritsch, Robert Indiana, Sol LeWitt, and Eva Rothschild. The crowd favorite Spoonbridge and Cherry by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen will also once again be on prominent display. The design of the 19-acre garden and Walker grounds has been carried out over the years by a number of renowned landscape designers including Edward Larrabee Barnes, Peter Rothschild, Michael Van Valkenburgh, Barbara Stauffacher Solomon, Tom Oslund, and Julie Snow. The renovations included the reconstruction of the garden’s infrastructure to make the park more sustainable and improve the parks water management. The $10 million project includes a completely new stormwater management system which includes an 80,000-gallon underground cistern. The new system allows for all rain that falls on the site to be captured and reused for irrigation. The garden's north end features a new native plant meadow and 300 new trees have been planted across the site, all adding to the gardens ecological design. The Walker Art Center also added a green roof over its main entrance and an additional green streetscape. The reopening will be marked by a number of festivities, including a full day of opening ceremonies on June 3rd. The Walker Art Center will also provide free gallery admission form June 1-June 10 in honor of the gardens reopening.

Wright This Way

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Kentuck Knob house celebrates its 60th anniversary

Lord Peter Palumbo, outgoing chairman of the Pritzker Prize for Architecture, recently looked back on his decades-long ownership of Kentuck Knob, the Frank Lloyd Wright house in western Pennsylvania, not far from Fallingwater, that is celebrating its 60th anniversary as well as the 20th anniversary of being open to the public.

Wright built Kentuck Knob—a small, one-story Usonian house on the crest of a knob, or hill, 2,050 feet above sea level, in Chalk Hill, Pennsylvania, in the Laurel Highlands mountain range six miles from Fallingwater—for I.N. and Bernardine Hagan, an ice-cream maker and his wife.

According to Lord Palumbo, Wright asked the Hagans when he interviewed them about their commission whether they were “nesters or perchers,” and that they told him they were nesters. If they were nesters, which Wright preferred, this meant, “you site the house just below the top of the knob and then you walk out to the knob. His reasoning was no man can compete with natural beauty and therefore you should not try to compete with it.” Lord Palumbo finds the view from the knob “quite extraordinary, one of the great views from this part of the world.”

He visited the house in the mid-1980s on a trip from Chicago (he once owned the Mies van der Rohe Farnsworth House outside Chicago, as well as Le Corbusier’s Le Jaoul Houses, outside Paris, selling all of them subsequently). “I fell in love with [Kentuck Knob], but I couldn’t get inside it. I fell in love with the outside, and said to myself, ‘If it’s as beautiful inside as it is outside, I must do something about it.’ So I went back six weeks later and effectively bought it then,” he said.

The architectural core of the open plan house—which is built of native sandstone and tidewater red cypress—is its hexagonal, stonewalled kitchen; its two wings are anchored by stonewalls, which rise to penetrate the horizontal line of its copper roof. Cantilevered overhangs and expanses of glass integrate its interior and exterior.

Shortly after Lord Palumbo purchased the house, a fire destroyed the master bedroom and bathroom. He was fortunate enough to find a retired Carnegie Mellon architect, Robert Taylor, who had worked on the home when it was built, to oversee the reconstruction.

Lord Palumbo and his family lived part-time in the house until the mid-1990s, when they decided to open it to the public. “We were getting quite a lot of interest from people, from students, architects, people interested in Frank Lloyd Wright, to visit the house, so it seemed like an obvious move to open the place to the public,” he explained. “It was also one way of ensuring that if anything happened to me, the house would be self-sufficient financially.”

Visitors, he added, “love the situation, love the house, and find that it has a human dimension because they can go through the house and see more or less how we live; they can see the toothbrushes, hairbrushes, family photographs. I think that family dimension is appreciated.”

Lord Palumbo originally bought 89 acres of land in Chalk Hill from the Hagans and now owns 600 acres and a 1920s farmhouse at the foot of the knob where he and his family stay when they visit. At Kentuck Knob, he has put out an eclectic array of fine and decorative arts and natural objects. On display is a wide array of decor, from Native American, Middle Eastern, and Chinese pottery to furniture by Wright, Mies van der Rohe, Charles and Ray Eames, Tapio Wirkkala, and George Nakashima (the last commissioned by the Hagans), as well as drawings and a collection of birds’ nests Palumbo found nearby. “I’ve always thought that quality goes with quality. I’ve never felt that a ball and claw foot by Chippendale, for example, does not sit anything other than easily with a Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chair. I think they acknowledge one another as equals and have a good working relationship by being next to one another, because they are all the top quality of their time.”

Another change wrought by the Palumbos at Kentuck Knob is the addition of outdoor sculptures: Over 30 works by artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, Sir Anthony Caro, and Claes Oldenburg have been placed in the landscape around the house and along the trail to the visitor center. They have also converted Kentuck Knob’s greenhouse—which once stood at Fallingwater and was brought to Kentuck Knob by the Hagans in the early 1960s—into a gift shop and cafe, and have restored the house’s original, triangular, man-made pond, built from boulders by Taylor.

The “great message of Kentuck Knob,” according to Lord Palumbo, is “the relationship between the art of Frank Lloyd Wright and nature—as it is at Fallingwater. It is the interaction between the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright and the beauty of nature. It was something that he always put great store by.”

A National Historic Landmark, Kentuck Knob can be seen only by formal tour, offered in 40- and 90-minute lengths from March through November and on a limited basis in December.

The Exquisite Everyday

With a trio of exhibitions, the Pulitzer Arts Foundation makes an in-depth exploration of the home
Home. Everyday. Ordinary. These words describe what binds the three summer exhibitions at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation (PAF) in St. Louis: 4562 Enright Avenue, Exquisite Everyday: 18th Century Decorative Arts Objects from the J. Paul Getty Museum, and The Ordinary Must Not Be Dull: Claes Oldenburg’s Soft Sculptures. But they raise as many questions as they answer. Whose home? What routines? Which physical structures/objects are used? The prospect is ripe with dichotomies: fluidity/stasis, divisions/confluence, asset/liability, thought/action, open space/occupied territory, vacant/inhabited, continuity/disruption, utopian/dystopian, creation/devastation, fade/appear. raumlaborberlin, the German architecture collective, is behind 4562 Enright Avenue, which transposes elements of this long-abandoned house—windows, beams, doors, staircases—into a nearly identical-sized gallery at the Pulitzer’s Tadao Ando-designed building 1.7 miles and lights years away. (Like Duchamp’s Fountain [urinal], it’s all about context.) Meanwhile, on site, the brick shell remains. At the museum, one turns the corner to encounter a facade of two stories with arched windows and a door crowned with a glass door light featuring the number 4562. You enter the first room, a living room with stately, upholstered chairs and a mantle. On the floor there are chalk outlines, like police evidence at a crime scene, of more furniture, that constitute the formal room from the house’s heyday—and that Jan Liesegang of raumlaborberlin imagines was barely used. The next room is filled with debris and stacks of materials precisely as found in the abandoned house in 2015. The third and last room on the ground floor imagines what could be for St. Louis housing going forward, displayed in a workshop setting with drafting table, photographs (Saarinen’s Gateway Arch), drawings (Pruitt-Igoe), and books (including Mapping Decline by Colin Gordon), all of which can be handled by visitors. Two staircases—one front-of-house and one for service—lead to a second floor that sports a suspended sink, wooden slat backboards, and, in contrast to the found objects and materials, a new pod-alike intervention. The pod is wrapped in white-painted newsprint in a neatly folded, scale-like pattern, around a translucent rectangular oculus lit from within. This belongs to Liesegang’s fanciful occupant of the house, an imaginary scientist. Since visitors cannot climb the stairs, this apparition remains mysterious. Shelves and tables outside the house are workstations and a video display showcases interviews with residents and neighbors of Enright Avenue. raumlaborberlin: 4562 Enright Avenue - Time-lapse from Pulitzer Arts Foundation on Vimeo. The process of creating this display was nearly a year in the making. raumlaborberlin, whose name means “space” + “laboratory,” is known for projects in transitional urban spaces that combine architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture, and art (See Spacebuster at Storefront for Art & Architecture and the New Museum’s Festival of Ideas for the New City, 2008 & 2011). St. Louis was described to me as a fetishized Detroit, a city where, in certain neighborhoods, lots are vacant and houses are abandoned like missing teeth, directly alongside occupied homes. The description painted a hollow urban center—the City of St. Louis—ringed by a suburban collar and the County of St. Louis (Ferguson is in the County). St. Louis is recovering from a long slide of white flight coupled with the decline of manufacturing and Mississippi River traffic. It’s a long way from the city’s role as Gateway to the West, the start of Lewis and Clark’s journey. The city is also bisected by Delmar Avenue; Enright Avenue is one block north (where 98% of residents identify as black, median home value is $73,000, and median annual income is $18,000), whereas Washington Avenue, where the Pulitzer is located, is one block south (where 73% of residents identify as white, median home value is $335,000, and median annual income is $50,000). To raumlaborberlin, this urban divide was familiar from the Berlin Wall in their home city and seen as hopeful since that barrier is now a memory after the wall’s demise 27 years ago. Asked to address the ways that we inhabit the urban landscape, and specifically engaging St. Louis and its residents, the collective zeroed in on the Lewis Place/Vanderventer neighborhood and its contemporary ruins. (Interestingly, A.E. Hotchner’s coming of age book, King of the Hill, was written about his childhood in a seedy hotel at Delmar & Kingshighway, a few short blocks away.) Together with neighbors and the City of St. Louis Building Commissioner, this uninhabited, structurally unsound Romanesque/French Renaissance Revival house built in 1890 (and slated for demolition) was selected. To shine a light on issues, they decided to move the building to the museum in order to reimagine the structure and what might replace it. It is meant to pose questions, rather than answers. A key one Liesegang asked is “How much can you take away from a house and it's still a home?” Exquisite Everyday: 18th-Century Decorative Art Objects from the J. Paul Getty Museum at first seems to be the antithesis of 4562 Enright. But it signifies someone else’s “everyday,” in this case upper class French and Italians. These objects—sauceboat, armchair, wall sconce, carpet, basin and ewer, chamber pot—are beautiful, ornate, and highly crafted, yet represent changing styles and practices. The sauceboat, for example, shows a more casual buffet style where diners helped themselves, rather than relying entirely on footmen. The objects for personal hygiene were used for ablution, rather than bathing by submersion, which was considered unhealthy. One can imagine their equivalents at 4562 Enright Avenue, when it was first inhabited by middle-class Germans, and then by black residents in the 20th century. Claes Oldenberg’s soft sculptures in The Ordinary Must Not Be Dull depict household objects including light switches, key, tires, 3-way electric plug, clothespin, ice bag, folding chair, and an array of food that includes french fries, baked potato, and green beans. Oldenburg shines a light on the everyday, making us look at the familiar in unfamiliar ways. In addition to exaggerating their size by inflating them to a vast scale, he also questions the traditional notion of sculpture’s substance by making them soft and pliable, rather than of more conventional hard, solid materials. The Pulitzer has a tradition of engaging the city, starting with The Light Project (2008), a series of public art commissions; Urban Alchemy/Gordon Matta-Clark (2010) by Theaster Gates, Robert Longer, and Jenny Murphy; and Crossing the Delmar Divide (2012-14), a 2-year project with the Missouri Historical Society and the Anti-Defamation League addressing racial and socioeconomic disparities. PAF’s work will continue with PXSTL, a collaboration with Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, that has commissioned a site-specific temporary structure for community-based programs and events by architect Amanda Williams and artist/educator Andres Hernandez to open in May 2017. Director Cara Starke, who previously served as Director of Exhibitions at Creative Time, spearheaded the raumlaborberlin commission when she assumed the position one year ago, so we can look forward to continued inquiry into the built environment from the Pulitzer. Pulitzer Arts Foundation 3716 Washington Boulevard St. Louis MO 63108 raumlaborberlin: 4562 Enright Avenue Exquisite Everyday: 18th-Century Decorative Arts from the J. Paul Getty Museum The Ordinary Must Not Be Dull: Claes Oldenburg’s Soft Sculptures All exhibits on view through October 15, 2016.

Sad!

How Donald Trump transformed New York without any regard for design quality

There is something about the towering, architectural designs of Donald Trump that brings out the best in New York’s architectural wordsmiths and critics: The Trump International Hotel & Tower at 1 Central Park West was a perfect foil for Herbert Muschamp in The New York Times. Philip Johnson and Costas Kondylis re-skinned the old Gulf and Western Building in bronze-tinted glass. (Trump had wanted the glass to be gold.) Johnson, according to the book New York 2000, promised Trump, his client, “a fin de siècle version of the Seagram” building. Muschamp called the facade “a 1950s International Style glass skyscraper in a 1980s gold lamé party dress,” a change he considered an “undeniable improvement.…” “This is not a major work by Mr. Johnson,” Muschamp wrote later in the article. “Still, he has introduced considerable refinement to an essentially crass idea. In fact, the design’s chief merit is the contrast between the commercial vulgarity of the gold skin and the relative subtlety with which it is detailed.”

The building, he said, stands as a “triumph of private enterprise in such a publicly conspicuous place.” Now, he concluded, “a new Trump flagship sails into these troubled civic waters, carrying with it more than a faint air of a floating casino, or perhaps the winnings from one.” But elsewhere he wrote that it could have been worse. True, the design could have sported dollar-sign finials, a one-armed-bandit handle sticking out the side, window shades painted with cherries, oranges, and lemons, and a pile of giant Claes Oldenburg coins at the base instead of the scaled-down version of the Unisphere. Or maybe that would have been an improvement. Refinement was never this building’s point anyway.

Critics like Muschamp, Ada Louise Huxtable, and Paul Goldberger could hardly depend on Trump for an informed comment on his designs or buildings. He called his own Trump Tower triplex,  an Angelo Donghia–designed, marble-and-onyx-covered ode to Versailles, “comfortable modernism.” The New York critics had varying opinions about the tower and its six-story indoor mall, which Trump claimed had been designed by his wife, Ivana. The mall’s interior of polished brass and 240 tons of Breccia Pernice marble in shades of rose, peach, pink, and orange was called a “pleasant surprise” by Goldberger, who saw it as “warm, luxurious, and even exhilarating—in every way more welcoming than the public arcades and atriums that preceded it on 5th Avenue.” Huxtable took a more critical view of the space, which she called a “pink marble maelstrom and pricey super glitz…unredeemed by [its] posh ladies’ powder-room decor.” (There may be hope for future buildings, however; Trump’s current wife, Melania, apparently studied architecture and design in school.)

The 725 5th Avenue Trump Tower exterior, with 28 sides, was designed by Der Scutt, of New York’s Poor, Swanke, Hayden & Connell, and was equally criticized by Muschamp, who concluded, “everything [about it] is calculated to make money.” This, of course, was seen as a positive design value by Trump, who argued that the faceted facade gave every room two views and therefore made them more valuable. In fact, the designs of Trump’s buildings are driven solely by profit. Is this unusual for commercial construction in New York? Of course not—but Trump’s buildings are such obvious, in-your-face examples of this reality of how the city is being built in the 21st century.

Beyond the large, expensive brass “Trump” lettering that adorns his buildings, Trump has made a career of taking advantage of public subsidies and then putting up the cheapest-looking project possible. His re-skinning of the Penn Central Transportation Company’s 2,000-room, Warren and Wetmore–designed Commodore Hotel is an example of one such project. Here, he took a perfectly decent—even handsome—1919 brick-and-limestone building, next door to Grand Central Terminal, and clad it with a reflective glass that has not weathered well. The project, rebranded by Trump as the Grand Hyatt Hotel, was done by one of his favorite architectural firms, New York’s Gruzen & Partners, with Der Scutt. The architects did not remove the old facade but instead overlaid a bronze-colored glass set in a grid of dark anodized aluminum. Trump spoke about that facade in The Art of the Deal; he was “convinced that half the reason the Commodore was dying [was] because it looked so gloomy and dated and dingy.…[He] wanted a sleek, contemporary look. Something with sparkle and excitement that would make people stop and take notice.” It’s not that the business barons of yore, such as Cornelius Vanderbilt, the developer of Grand Central Station, were not concerned with profit, but Vanderbilt and his architects, Reed and Stem, as well as Warren and Wetmore, designed a handsome public work of architecture, whose striking stone gateway’s presence makes Trump’s glass skin seem cheap and dated. The building has one of the worst 1980s-era facades in New York.

Given his background, it’s not surprising that Trump, who wallows in his New Yorkness, has no idea of the difference between architecture and building. He was raised in Jamaica Estates, Queens, hard up against the Grand Central Parkway, in what today would be called a Federalist Georgian McMansion, with tall Corinthian columns. He went to New York Military Academy for high school, attended Fordham University, and graduated from the Wharton School, where he studied real estate. While at Wharton, he worked at his father’s building company, which made a fortune developing small buildings in Queens and Brooklyn after World War II, when the government (via the Federal Housing Administration) subsidized affordable housing. Woody Guthrie lived in one in of these buildings, Beach Haven, in Coney Island, and wrote a song about its racially discriminatory rental policies:

I suppose Old Man Trump knows Just how much Racial Hate He stirred up In the bloodpot of human hearts When he drawed That color line Here at his Eighteen hundred family project

Beach Haven, like so many other federally financed affordable projects, was forbidden by the National Housing Act of 1934 from including any extra architectural details or embellishments, something the national real estate industry worked to have included in the law. Though it has directness to its design and some sort of dignity missing from Fred Trump’s Manhattan buildings, Beach Haven is nevertheless a standard New York City complex of stripped down, bland six-story brick boxes, spread across a city grid. It—like his son Donald’s later projects—was a profit-seeking opportunity. The FHA later discovered that Fred Trump had pocketed over $4 million in illicit profits from the construction.

Donald would later put up (or at least put his name on) a similar sort of development, along Riverside Drive just north of 57th Street. Like Beach Haven, Riverside South is a series of bland rectangular boxes spread across a series of city blocks. Though here, rather than looking out over Coney Island, the development looks toward the river. The detailing of these riverside buildings is faintly art deco, recalling their Upper West Side neighborhood in their massing and repetitive walls.

This was also the site for Trump’s proposed Television City, which could have been even worse, or at least more massive. In 1974 to 1975, Trump proposed to develop Television City—with 4,850 apartments, 500,000 square feet of retail space, one million square feet of office space, a 50-room hotel, television studios, parking for 3,700 cars, and 28 acres of open space—in a largely abandoned old train yard. The original scheme, which proposed a large superblock of high-rise towers, with a three-armed telescoping tower, was designed by Murphy/Jahn Architects, of Chicago, and would have been the tallest tower in the world, at 1,670 feet and 150 stories. It was a massive development, with several towers over 70 stories, all built on a podium over the old rail yards and a park. The West Side Highway would have been relocated under the towers to create a road not unlike the one under the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. Needless to say, there was opposition to this new complex. The world’s tallest building, many thought, was never meant to be built, but was a ploy, a wedge to get more square footage in the plan approved by the city.

In some ways, Television City came closer to real architecture than any other project from the Trump family (albeit as a forerunner of the contemporary glass boxes that have risen all over the city since the late 1990s). Though Goldberger claimed the tower was “hardly a real building for real people in a real city,” Michael Sorkin was more pointed. In the Village Voice column “Dump the Trump,” Sorkin wrote, “Looking at the boneheaded proposal, one wonders whether the architect even visited the site. Indeed, there is evidence that he did not. The rank of glyphs bespeaks lakeside Chicago, and the centerpiece of the scheme, the 150-story erection, Trump’s third go at the world’s tallest building…was there ever a man more preoccupied with getting it up in public?”

Trump, on the other hand, was his typical ebullient, promotional self and called the plan, in a press release, “the master planner’s grandest plan yet.” Because Trump, more than any builder in New York in the late 20th century, has transformed the city with barely the slightest architecturally-worthy design or public service.

The Pin is Mightier
The unusual structure is meant to give a sense of place to a diverse neighborhood.
Andy Dahl

In East Baltimore, three artists have created a pushpin-on-steroids to put an oft-forgotten community on the map and welcome new residents to the area.

The big red pushpin is the main feature of a bus stop that was erected this fall in the Baltimore Highlands neighborhood.

The oversized pin juts into the sidewalk at an angle, as if it’s pinning the shelter to the ground. On the shelter’s undulating roof is the Spanish phrase, estamos aquí (“We are here”), a nod to the many Spanish-speaking residents who have moved into the area.

“We decided to do the pushpin as a statement about putting our neighborhood on the map,” said artist and Baltimore Highlands Neighborhood Association co-president Rachel Timmins, who designed the bus stop.

The pushpin was a reference to the icons used on Google Maps, she said, and the phrase was meant to embrace the neighborhood’s diversity.

“We have the most diverse population in Baltimore City but we have a very large Latino population, so we really wanted to highlight that. We want to be inclusive,” said Timmins.

Timmins said her rowhouse neighborhood doesn’t get the same attention from the city as many other communities and doesn’t have many landmarks besides a nearby cemetery.

She said she saw the bus stop as a way to create a new sort of landmark that sends a message about the community and the fact that it’s changing and needs more attention.

The giant pushpin is clearly inspired by the work of Claes Oldenburg and the late Coosje van Bruggen, sculptors best known for public art installations featuring large replicas of everyday objects, from a pair of binoculars in southern California to a spoon that becomes a bridge in Minneapolis.

Timmins said she used bright red for the pushpin because it’s a powerful, vibrant color. The “pin” is actually a repurposed light pole turned upside down, and the red top is made of a synthetic stucco material.

The shelter itself is a utilitarian structure with metal posts, a wooden bench, and an open space for someone in a wheelchair. Its roof undulates like a fluttering piece of paper that needs to be held down by a pushpin.

Pinning down something that might otherwise scatter to the wind could also be a metaphor for the community itself.

“This is one of the most heavily used bus stops in the city, but it’s also a drug market,” Timmins said. “We’re hoping that by putting this here, it’s a way of reclaiming the space for the community that lives here...The neighborhood has been neglected by the city for so long. This is a way of saying, ‘Hey, we matter. Hey, city, pay attention to us.’”

The intersection of Baltimore Street and Highland Avenue was selected as the setting for the artwork, Timmins said, because it’s a busy location, serving four city bus routes. From the start, it has gotten heavy use.

As soon as the artists completed their installation, people started gathering under the pushpin shelter to wait for their buses.

“I love it,” said Laura Irvizu, who lives nearby.

“Seeing this sign here, it makes us feel like we’re a part of the community,” she said. “Most of the time, we feel invisible. Seeing this message in Spanish, it feels like someone cares.”

The project is a collaboration of the Southeast Community Development Corporation, local residents and artists of the Highlandtown Arts District and Association.

The bus stop design won a $25,000 PNC Transformative Art Prize for 2015. Timmins collaborated with two other artist-engineers, Kyle Miller and Tim Scofield, to fabricate the shelter, mostly off-site.

Her work has been shown in numerous exhibitions, both nationally and internationally, and in many publications, including Unexpected Pleasures from Rizzoli, Contemporary Jewelry in Perspective published by Lark Books, and Jewel Book: International Annual of Contemporary Jewelry Art published by Stichting Kunstboek.

Miller and Scofield are Baltimore sculptors who collaborated last year with the Madrid design collective Mmmm… to create another sculpture in nearby Highlandtown, a bus stop and pedestrian shelter that consists simply of three letters: B-U-S.

The PNC Transformative Art Prize is a program of the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts, made possible through a partnership with PNC Bank and Baltimore’s Housing department. Other funding included $5,000 from the Baltimore Community Foundation and $5,000 from Healthy Neighborhoods.

Cherry on Top
The eclectic sculpture garden adjacent to the Walker Art Center is in part designed for stormwater retention.
Courtesy Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board/Oslund & Associates

Minneapolis’ celebrated sculpture garden at the Walker Art Center will close its gates in October, reopening May 2017 after a major redesign of its landscape and conservatory. Snow Kreilich Architects and landscape architects Oslund & Associates, both of Minneapolis, will lead the $10 million design in collaboration with Minneapolis’ Park & Recreation Board. According to architect and Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board Project Manager Dana Murdoch, the work is long overdue.


 
 

“The garden is deteriorating. The plant mat is becoming overgrown. Some of the granite infrastructure is falling aside and cracking,” said Murdoch. “We have some fairly serious drainage issues because it’s a formerly swampy area, and it has had impacts on the navigability of the walks.”

As part of an ancient drainage bed for the Mississippi River, the site has a high water table. Murdoch said the garden—built in 1988 by Edward Larrabee Barnes and landscape architects Quinnel Rothschild & Partners, and expanded four years later by Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates—has needed an overhaul for at least a decade. It took until May 2014, however, for the Park Board to win $8.5 million in general obligation bond funding from the state of Minnesota. The project got another $1.5 million through the regional Mississippi Watershed Management Organization for its focus on stormwater retention.

“It’s a very unstable condition,” said lead landscape architect Tom Oslund. Trees have started to sink into the site’s soggy soil, even warping pathways. “It’s kind of a mess. But we decided to actually embrace that.”

On the north end of the site, where the drainage problems are most severe, the design team plans to reorganize the space around three circular, outdoor “rooms.” Riprap slopes raise the rooms above a large cistern and retention pond that, according to Oslund, is shaped “kind of like an Aalto vase.” The depression will contain the entire garden’s stormwater and will be bridged by elevated granite pathways.

To the southern end of the site, four square rooms will feature an “enhanced turf” to aid stormwater drainage while supporting the artwork and granite pathways. Oslund’s design replaces an existing arborvitae perimeter with a lower, deciduous hedge. Along with perennial plantings and ornamental grasses, the new greenery is meant to help invoke a sense of discovery.

Existing conditions.
 

“There is this series of reveals,” said Oslund, “so it’s not just a one-liner.”

Depending on the room, these reveals could be for work by Fritz Haeg, Mark di Suvero, Ellsworth Kelly, or one of dozens of artists who have contributed more than 40 sculptures to the 11-acre site over the years. The redesign maintains the central location of perhaps the garden’s most well known piece, “Spoonbridge and Cherry” by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. Spoonbridge will stay in place during construction, as will work by Sol LeWitt, Frank Gehry, and Richard Serra. A handful of sculptures are going on long-term loan elsewhere in the area, including to Gold Medal Park and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The rest will stay in protected storage in an adjacent parking lot, according to the Park Board’s Dana Murdoch.

Snow Kreilich is in the early phases of “revitalizing” the garden’s Cowles Conservatory to make it more accessible and energy efficient, according to a firm spokeswoman. Murdoch said the work could include opening up the conservatory to the elements, adding seasonal food vendors and imparting “a more picnicky feel to it.”

More than 350,000 annual visitors will have to wait two years to return to the garden, a popular wedding destination and event space, but Murdoch said the closure was unavoidable due to the nature of the work—specifically the new stormwater system and the upgraded irrigation.

“You just have to dig everything up for that,” she said.

Frank Gehry is the first architect to be awarded the J. Paul Getty Medal
The Getty Trust announced last week that it will give its J. Paul Getty Medal to Frank Gehry. This is the third time the Getty will hand out the award—established "to recognize living individuals from all over the world for their leadership in the fields in which the Getty works"—and the first time it will go to an architect. Past winners include Lord Jacob Rothschild, Harold M. Williams, and Nancy Englander. Gehry's building achievements, which have "changed the course of architecture," according to Getty CEO James Cuno, make him an obvious choice for the prize. But it's his collaborations with contemporary artists that made him an exceptional fit, said Cuno. "He was a central figure in the contemporary art world in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 70s, working closely with Billy Al Bengston, Larry Bell, John Altoon, Bob Irwin, Ed Moses, Ed Ruscha, and Ken Price. And he continues to work closely with artists, including Claes Oldenburg and Jeff Koons, for whom he has collaborated on deeply sensitive installations of their work,” noted Cuno. The award will be handed out at the Getty Center in September.

Archtober Building of the Day #20B> Donald Judd Home and Studio
Archtober Building of the Day #20 Donald Judd Home and Studio 101 Spring Street Architecture Research Office; Walter B. Melvin Architects The Soho of the 1970s has come and gone, grungy artists’ studios replaced by glitzy storefronts and luxury condos. However, two decades after artist Donald Judd passed away in 1994, his presence still permeates 101 Spring Street. It’s in the nooks he carved out for his children and his books, his kitchenware and furniture, and, most of all, his art. To Judd, 101 Spring Street was love at first sight. He purchased the cast-iron corner building in 1968 and was careful to respect the integrity of the space when setting up his life and his work. Dividing walls are kept at a minimum, and everything is arranged to leave the right angles of the windows uninterrupted. Light generously floods the interiors. Though not an architect, the godfather of Minimalism knew a thing or two about arranging spaces. Somehow, in the master bedroom, a site-specific Dan Flavin light installation coexists in harmony with works by Claes Oldenburg and John Chamberlain. Despite the sleek metal surfaces of his work, the range of surfaces and textures in his home reveals the breadth of his taste. The restoration, led by Architecture Research Office (ARO), was guided by Judd’s last will and testament: make necessary repairs, but leave the rest unchanged. Restorers looked through old photographs and arranged walk-throughs with Judd’s friends and visitors to determine the precise location of artworks and furniture, and everything in between. There was probably more clutter when Judd was around, but, according to our Judd Foundation guide, the artist had his own organizational systems in place. A custom-made cabinet with a very low shelf was specifically designed to store cutlery side-by-side in a single row. According to ARO Principal Adam Yarinsky, the restoration’s main challenge was how to introduce the modern infrastructure of museums without impacting the character of the building and its art installations. In the 1960s, Judd removed all sprinklers from the third and fourth floors, claiming that they interrupted the building’s sightlines. ARO consulted with Arup to devise a fire-proofing system that would not detract from the space’s qualities. Walter B. Melvin Architects, which led the facade renovation, installed new but old-timey double-paned glass to protect the art from harmful UV rays. Judd is gone, but his art and his legacy live on. The artist’s careful considerations, along with ARO’s precise renovation, allow the spaces to showcase the art and vice versa.
Camila Schaulsohn is Communications Director and Editor-in-Chief of e-Oculus. She was born and raised in Santiago, Chile.

Through the Veil
Chris Smart

On May 22, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, unveiled the newest addition to its 22-acre Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park. Entitled Glass Labyrinth, the glass walled maze designed by world-renowned artist and Kansas City native Robert Morris follows a series of similar installations made over the past decade from various materials including steel, stone, and even chain-linked fencing. “This interactive and contemplative labyrinth sets the stage for an exciting future for the sculpture garden, the museum, and Kansas City,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, the Nelson’s Director, at the ribbon cutting of Morris’ first permanent glass work in the U.S.

The Nelson is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the sculpture park with the opening of the new commission, funded by the Hall Family Foundation of Hallmark Cards fame. In 1986, the Foundation bought 57 master works by artist Henry Moore from an Oklahoma oil tycoon. They approached the Nelson shortly thereafter, and by 1989 had collaborated to build an outdoor museum in the spirit of the Foundation’s mission of creating places for the public to experience the relationship between art, architecture, and nature.

John Lamberton
 

At 7 feet tall and weighing more than 400 tons, Glass Labyrinth is a 62-foot equilateral triangle–shaped maze. Considering the museum’s desire to have the commission take a prominent position on the grounds, and with limited space left in the sculpture park, the Nelson’s landscape architect, Rick Howell, had to be strategic about the work’s placement.

 
Toni Wood; John Lamberton
 

The permanent installation is located at the foot of the museum’s Bloch building, designed by Steven Holl Architects, and creates a gateway element at the southeast corner of the campus. Glass Labyrinth responds to the purity of the original building and the Holl addition. The piece’s translucence creates an interesting juxtaposition between the backdrop of the Bloch building’s frosted, channelized glass, and its adjacency to Henry Moore’s bronze Sheep Piece, with Roxy Paine’s stainless steel Ferment lurking over the scene and across from Claes Oldenburg’s infamous Shuttlecocks.

This is not a typical museum piece, where guests are discouraged from touching the art. “Visitors are invited to walk into the labyrinth to experience it and become a part of the art,” said Jan Schall, the Nelson’s Sanders Sosland curator of modern art.

The concrete foundation for the labyrinth was laid last Fall, and final assembly began in April. It was completed in early May. The Nelson has organized a summer of public activities to celebrate the sculpture garden’s anniversary.

Google Moves Into Gehry’s Binoculars Building
In an effort to consolidate its efforts in Los Angeles, Google has leased 100,000 square feet of office space in three buildings in Venice, including space inside Frank Gehry's Chiat/Day Building, a.k.a. the Binoculars Building. Why is it called that? Because one entryway is shaped like a gigantic pair of binoculars, of course. Finished in 1991 on Main Street, the space is probably the most famous of Gehry's forays into...shiver... Post Modernism. The binoculars themselves were designed by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. The new Venice Googleplex will hold many more employees than its present collection of buildings in Santa Monica, which contain about 300. Earlier this week Google announced that it would be adding 6,000 total employees this year. Recession? What recession? Not in Google's world.

Dan Graham Revealed
“Architecture,” Dan Graham claims, “is my favorite hobby,” and his work has long been a source of inspiration and ideas for architects from Herzog and de Meuron to SANAA. The most comprehensive American exhibition of his art went on view today at the Whitney Museum, through October 11. Curated by Chrisse Iles and Bennett Simpson, Dan Graham: Beyond takes up the entire fourth floor of the museum, and given this space’s natural lighting, it is the perfect venue for Graham’s iconic reflective glass and metal structures.

Though Graham claims he was “never a conceptual artist,” the work he produced during the 1960s—and labeled conceptual by Lucy Lippard—is perhaps the revelation of the show. They are buried in cave-like rooms on the back of the fourth floor, and began Graham’s lifelong interest in the culture of everyday life. 

If this is not enough Graham for you, the catalogue includes some of his critical writings on art, architecture, and rock and roll, along with a cute manga by Fumihiro Nonomuro. The exhibit will feature accompanying lectures and discussions, including one with the musician Glenn Branca, whom Graham has championed for decades.

PS – While you’re there, take a relaxing break from Grahamiana and visit the Whitney’s excellent Claes Oldenburg show, which closes on September 6.

PPS – And also don't miss the nice installation LA's Jeffery Inaba just did at the old DIA space on West 22nd Street. Graham used to have an installation up there, before the arts foundation sold the place in 2004. But hurry, because the new piece is only there through Saturday.