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Visual Veszprém

International designers team up to paint the power of architectural ornament
In Veszprém, a historic medieval town in western Hungary, 12 designers have coated walls of an aging school to illustrate the significance of architectural ornamentation and what it means for and to young architects today. The Elementary School of Music (formerly the Industrial School) was designed by Hungarian architect Lajos Schoditsch, a building which sits across the street from the Petőfi Theater, designed by another Hungarian, István Medgyaszay. Both buildings are integral to the city's architectural history and represent the changing use of motif and ornament in Hungarian architecture. Both are also scheduled to be renovated, with the now-vacant Elementary School of Music due to become an office building serving the theater. Seizing the moment before the renovation, the Hungarian practice Paradigma Ariadné, led by Dávid Smiló, Attila Róbert Csóka, and Szabolcs Molnár, saw the chance for architectural intervention. Working with Heléna Csóka, the curators of the 12 Walls project invited designers from across Europe to come up with wall installations that riffed on the history of ornament embedded in the former school. The result is a series of painted walls vying for visual attention in a cacophony of color and ornamentation. Each wall has its own agenda, courtesy of the 12 designers. The walls serve as standalone works but end up interacting with adjacent and nearby painted walls to create a dazzling landscape inside the vacant building. The designers and collectives commissioned include: Architecture Uncomfortable Workshop, Enorme Studio, False Mirror Office, Gyulai Levente, Adam Nathaniel Furman, Andrew Kovacs, MNPL Workshop, Giacomo Pala, Space Popular, TREES, Very Good Office, and Paradigma Ariadné itself. "Many emerging architects and studios are struggling to settle with the repeatedly omitted, yet constantly resurfacing ornament," the curators said in a statement. "Presenting different approaches by young collectives, the works at the exhibition examine the current roles and boundaries of the ornament, by appropriating the late Industrial School’s empty, undecorated walls." The majority of the walls are awash with bright colors. Austrian-based architect and researcher, Giacomo Pala's wall, titled, Frank Variation, riffs on the work of Austrian architect, Josef Frank. According to Pala, he was one of the first modern architects to deal with ornament, and Pala's work abstracts the late architect's approach to city planning, interior schemes, and watercolor architectural paintings. British designer Adam Nathaniel Furman's wall, Diadema, bursts with even more color. In a kaleidoscopic arrangement, brightly colored triangles and ellipses splay out across the wall creating an almost 3-D illusion. "Ornament is not a language. Ornament doesn’t speak," he said in a short text describing his work. "Ornament is the flush in the cheek, the color of life in the eye…it is the vigor of the fleshly moment captured in time for anyone and everyone who enters a space. Diadema is a taste of this, a crowning moment of chromatic delight in miniature." Space Popular, formed by Lara Lesmes and Fredrik Hellberg and based in London, has created one of the few walls to use text. At first glance, Tilt Lines looks like it was made with CAD sketching tools, but the piece was crafted by hand instead of digital tools to depict what Space Popular describe as an "endless mass." "Working with the line in 3-D space highlights the fact the we tend to identify spaces with enclosures," the firm added. "This notion is challenged when we are given a brush that draws in mid-air and we desperately try to fill in surfaces, consequently making everything look like gingerbread houses." Only one installation refrains from using color and that comes from MNPL Workshop from Odessa, Ukraine. The monochrome pattern has a hidden message, however. "By eliminating unnecessary decorative elements for modern society, modernism created a perfect environment for filling with elements of marketing and advertisement," said MNPL in a statement. One such element is a corporate logo and numerous logos have been embedded into the black and white ornamentation by MNPL.
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1925–2018

Jencks, Eisenman, FAT, and more remember Robert Venturi
Robert Venturi passed away at age 93 on Wednesday, and there has been an overwhelming response from the architecture community. From dedicated disciples to former intellectual foes, many architects and critics have taken a moment to recognize how deep and impactful Venturi’s legacy really is. We collected some of those tributes here. Deborah Berke: With the passing of Robert Venturi, Architecture has lost one of its greats. But to say Bob belonged to Architecture with a capital “A” is to limit the scope of his contribution. Bob was an artist, an adventurer, an agitator. Architecture, design, planning, and writing were his media, but his goal—brilliantly achieved—was to change culture. Alongside his equally gifted collaborator, Denise Scott Brown, he opened the profession to new possibilities and rewrote the canon of architectural history. He also developed a visual language—infused with wit, color, pattern, and erudition—that reverberates far beyond his buildings. Barbara Bestor: Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction (written in 1966 the year I was born!) was a revelation for me as a youngster. Though I was immersed in neo-modernist design school, I was drawn to the crazy formal and informal conversations he described between architects from ancient Rome to Victorian England... It taught me that architectural discourse is in fact buildings IN DISCOURSE with other buildings! Also with cities and with people and with art! This is still big news in our current “post-human” design moment! Plus who doesn’t love seeing the decorated sheds of Las Vegas as lovingly explicated by Venturi and his partner Denise Scott-Brown? Personally I relish checking out the lovely little “bird houses” of Block Island (1979 Coxe-Hayden) every summer, and they have had a direct impact in freeing me to reinterpret vernacular forms in my own work. Jean-Louis Cohen: In an age of despair in respect to the practice of architecture, as vulgarized modernization had upstaged poetic modernism, Robert Venturi’s 1966 book came as a revelation. It allowed for a reconciliation between Le Corbusier, Aalto, Bernini and Balthazar Neumann, recruiting apparently incompatible buildings to cast a fascinating menagerie of shapes and patterns. If anything, his writings and his early projects stimulated for my generation the appetite for culture and the ability to play with single objects and the city at large. Bob reminded us that, before generating form, architecture is a discipline of observation, alert to the everyday landscape, as well as towards its own linguistic fetishisms and obsessions. Neil M. Denari: The sphere of influence that Robert Venturi constructed over the course of his estimable career is much larger than we think, because the Postmodern label did not, in the end, constrain the ways in which architects with many ideologies have approached and utilized his theories. I feel like Complexity and Contradiction is the architectural equivalent of Gödel’s Theory of Incompleteness- a set of ideas (maybe even laws) that outlines how complexity is not simply the antidote to boredom, but more importantly, that it is a persistent contemporary condition. His shadow is long, his ideas are transcendent, and I, for one, will always owe a debt to his immense contributions to the field.  
 
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High five from RV.

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Peter Eisenman: Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, the first book of architectural theory by an American architect, opened the way for a generation of young architects – Charles Moore, Michael Graves, Richard Meier, Frank Gehry, and more – to challenge the platitudes of corporate practice in the 1960s and ’70s. In combining the best of European architectural history—Vignola, Soane, Moretti, etc.—with contemporary iconography, Venturi developed an idea of complexity that became the critical tool for stanching the tide of laissez-faire modernism and changing the face of American architecture. I for one will miss him and his dry sense of humor. Mark Foster Gage: I remember about 20 years ago when I was considering going to graduate school for architecture I met, of all people, Robert Venturi. We ended up having drinks and both got not-quite-but-close drunk. He said, "Don't ever become an architect... unless there's absolutely nothing else you can possibly do..." I was mortified! I thought oh my god, what am I doing if THIS guy who’s at the top of the pile is telling me it’s hard (I also remember thinking that is really was all I could possibly do—the alternative being falling back on my mostly medieval art history degree...). Only in retrospect did I realize that what he was conveying was truly sage advice. Architecture is neither an easy path nor a mere job--but more of an infatuation that involves a significant amount of struggle. He knew this, and it was evidenced in his own work, for instance when he, the ur-figure of postmodernism, was on the cover of Architect Magazine quoted as saying "I am not nor have ever been a postmodernist." You can see the struggle in his work between high modernist training and the whimsy of pop culture. To this day I think the strength of his work is the struggle to reconcile these two directions—rather than merely opening the floodgates of postmodernism through his writing and early work. There was discomfort in his work—hard effort. I don’t think the postmodernism of Venturi was easy and frivolous, I think it was complicated, rich, detailed and intelligent—qualities we should all be so lucky to imbue in our work as we struggle through our own careers for this difficult but beautiful infatuation of ours.
 
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Divine right of kings #RobertVenturi

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Dan Graham: Bob Venturi was one of the one or two best American architects and was a great writer on architecture, architectural history, and theory. His love of pop art infuriated my friend Richard Serra and that is why I wrote a defense of him in Artforum. He criticized Mies, but in the end, came to appreciate him and understand his importance. His background was as an Italian-American and Quaker, and he loved American and English vernacular architecture, billboards and shopping malls. Denise Scott Brown said he loved to watch English soap operas on PBS and he had a great sense of humor. I was lucky to meet him. Paul Goldberger: I am accustomed to thinking of Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture and Learning from Las Vegas as books from a long time ago, and indeed they are. But I don’t know if there could be any better way than to honor Robert Venturi than to open both of them again, and to be reminded that these are, in fact, timeless books: anchored in the 1960s and 1970s, yes, but transcending those years to speak to us now and for a long time to come. Complexity teaches you how to see architecture, and to understand how it is always about both/and, not either/or. Las Vegas, which he wrote with his wife and partner Denise Scott Brown as well as Steven Izenour, shows us how architecture is the making of sign and symbol as much as the making of space, and points the way toward the conflation of electronic media and architecture. Both books were prescient, and far more important than the air of nostalgia that surrounds them is the pleasant reminder of their continued meaning. Bob Venturi, writer of the “gentle manifesto,” was himself gentle, kind, soft-spoken, and absolutely driven. He was as ambitious as anyone in the architecture business, but his ambition was softened by a connoisseur’s love of form, a critic’s incisive perception, and a tourist’s enthusiasms about the world. His architecture was a series of exuberant, inventive, and incisive mannerist explorations, modern even as it appeared to turn modernism on its head. We first met when I was still an undergraduate, and thanks to an introduction from Vincent Scully, I had the chance to talk with him and Denise about their work, a conversation that led to a piece about them in The New York Times Magazine that marked the beginning of my life as an architecture critic, or at least a paid one. What I remember best about that interview, beyond how gracious both Bob and Denise were to a young writer with almost no credentials, was the fact that it took place in a sprawling mansion outside of Philadelphia that was owned by an old friend of theirs for whom Bob had designed a house that was never built. The reason the house, which would have been the most important of Bob’s career up to that point—this was 1971—never went ahead was telling: before construction started, the old house came up for sale, and Bob told his friend he didn’t see how any new house could be as appealing as that old one, and recommended he buy it instead of building the Venturi house. What other architect would willingly say such a thing to a client? Bob was incapable of dissembling. Most people who are as congenitally honest as he was see the world in simplistic, black-and-white terms; Bob always saw it as nuanced, richly complex, ironic, defined by “richness of meaning rather than clarity of meaning.” It is that combination—utter directness tempered by an absence of dogma and ideology, a penchant for truthfulness together with a mind for nuance and subtlety—that marked Bob, and shaped both the extraordinary words and the great architecture that are his legacy.  
 
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💙Another pic from our visit to Vanna Venturi’s house 💙 . . . #architecture #robertventuri

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Sean Griffiths: It goes without saying that he and Denise were huge influences on me personally and on FAT in general. They have also been incredibly supportive over the years. For us, they were simply the most important architects of the second half of the 20th century. They managed the incredible feats of producing highly influential buildings, creating a new architectural movement, and my god—those books—they changed everything,all the while remaining outsiders, never fully accepted by the establishment. For me Learning from Las Vegas is the most important book written on architecture and urbanism in the last 50 years. It completely changed the way we judge architecture, think about places and their meanings, represent space and analyze the relationship between people and environments. It was so much more than a book “about” Las Vegas. It was a totally new way to look at the built environment. Sam, Charles, and I will never forget our first visit to Philadelphia when Bob and Denise welcomed us into their home and took us on a tour of the Mother's house, the Louis Kahn house across the road (in which Bob delighted in pointing out which of the ideas in it were his—most of them according to him!), the Guild House, and their office. They then took us to dinner and we talked about our mutual love of the Sopranos opening titles and he and Denise professed a love for English sitcoms—“What’s the name of the one with the women priest?” he asked, referring to The Vicar of Dibley. We just thought it was hilarious that here we were with our architectural heroes and we were actually discussing The Vicar of Dibley of all things. Best of all, Bob and Denise attended the lecture we gave at UPenn and afterward saluted us with the immortal words, “Terrific…keep up the bad work!” I feel deeply honored to have known them both. Charles Holland: Robert Venturi was without a doubt my favorite architect. His work has been a huge and constant source of inspiration to me. Not just the buildings but the way he combined the, with research, teaching and writing of the highest order. He wrote not one but two enormously influential and undeniably important books, the second with his wife and partner Denise Scott Brown. Together they opened up architecture to so many things; to an appreciation of the everyday and to a way of learning from the things around us. Of all the buildings, my favourite is the Trubek House, one of a pair shingle-clad cottages realised on Nantucket Island in 1970. It has it all this house: the plays of scale, the complex spatiality, the tension between architecture and ordinary life, the two never fully resolved. Robert Venturi’s importance cannot be overstated and he leaves the world of architecture a much poorer place. RIP Bob. Sam Jacob: I don’t think I could express how important Bob Venturi (and Denise) were to FAT, and to me personally. I really came across their work in the bargain bookshops of the mid 90's, picking up that amazing book on the Mother House for nothing. Airbrushed out of the architectural history I'd been taught at school, their work seemed so amazingly fresh and relevant to an age of information and communication (remember the zeal and optimism of digital culture at that time!). So free of all that stale reactionary nonsense that had surrounded them (especially in the UK at the time of Prince Charles' National Gallery interventions) we could find our own resonances. Sampling, cutting and pasting, copying, distorting, playing with conventions, and understanding architecture as a form of information itself, I concocted a private dream that was part Venturi part Marshall McLuhan that helped forge a different path through millennial times and digital culture. Meeting them both in Philly at a small show at Penn we had was incredible, with Bob dropping aphorisms left, right, and center that still stay with me as he toured the show: “Not boring but in a good way,” “keep up the bad work.” I still don't know what he meant when he told me I wrote like Abraham Lincoln. He made us feel like co-conspirators, and we in turn felt like we could learn (and steal) so much from him that could restart the engine of a certain strand of architectural attitudes towards culture and design that had stalled. It's not overhyped or sentimental to stress his absolute centrality to the very idea of architecture in the late 20th and early 21st century. It's why after a long time ignored and shunned by the architectural mainstream, his and Denise’s work has become so important to a younger generation of architects. Ugly and ordinary forever!
 
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Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown — Wislocki House, Nantucket Island MA (1971). RIP.

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Charles Jencks: Robert Venturi changed architecture (hard), for the better (even harder) but with some unfortunate consequences (the one-liner-anti-symbolism), and many of his small early buildings and a few of his large later works are epics. Their drawing and argument inspired two generations. His writing was most usually in the service of a polemic, and his version of complexity predictive of the way the sciences of the twenty-first century would turn out. I was saddened I couldn’t get Bob to write on the second stage of Postmodernism, but as a good leader of the movement he was gentle, ironic, generous to others, amusing to many, academic, and will always be remembered by me. Micheal Meredith and Hilary Sample: Robert Venturi transformed architecture (practice and teaching) for those of us after him (America and abroad). He made it better. Together with Denise Scott Brown, he pioneered design partnerships (now there are so many), engaged multiple scales and media (from books to furniture to buildings to urbanism), and brought architecture into dialog with its contemporary culture (both as an intellectual pursuit and a practical/technical one). He seemed to take equal pleasure in both history and the mundane, offering a witty counterpoint to the heroic artist-architect and to the essentialism of his time with an articulate ambiguity, complexity, and inclusivity (something that is more and more important nowadays). Robert Ivy: Robert Venturi, appreciated for high intelligence, erudition, and a benevolent viewpoint, brought humanism to architecture. His work shone with wit and fit—creating a colorful dialogue between past and present, between high seriousness and contemporary irony. Signification, pattern, relationship, and memory. Together with his partners, this improbable radical tinted the world with joy. Sylvia Lavin: Although I have known Bob for what seems like forever, both at a distance as an august luminary in the field and a bit closer, as a person with whom to talk about Rome and main street, it is only in the past few years that I have gotten to see him work in intimate detail. Spending time in his archive, I have been systematically struck by the astonishing intelligence that permeates everything but that is often most intense when hidden in office memos, hand-drawn key codes to material specifications and sketches made on legal pads evidently drawn in a library. His sharp acumen and wit has always been abundantly clear to everyone through the discipline-changing work we all know, but the creative timbre of his intellection is different in these less mediated expressions. Kind acknowledgments of the contributions made by secretarial staff, surprisingly precocious interest in digital technologies, and outbursts of frustrations with the ordinary obstacles confronted by architects, are evidence that in his daily life, he operated in accordance with the principle—often publicly stated but also often misunderstood as mere professional rhetoric—that architects are not heroes but people with interesting jobs to do. And in these documents, there is also evidence of perhaps the smartest thing he ever did – which was to marry Denise, to whom I offer my deepest condolences. Elena Manferdini: Very few texts captured a cultural paradigm shift as Robert Venturi and Scott Brown’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture and Learning from Las Vegas. Their influence on generations of architects is as fresh as it was when those texts were first published. They destabilized the form-function determinism of modernist architects and opened our field to hybrid forms, super graphics, and pop-style culture. They liberated architecture from anachronistic dogmas with intellectual depth, innate sense of humor, unexpected juxtapositions and playful colors. They looked at architecture as a cultural inclusive expanded field. Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample: Robert Venturi transformed architecture (practice and teaching) for those of us after him (America and abroad). He made it better. Together with Denise Scott Brown, he pioneered design partnerships (now there are so many), engaged multiple scales and media (from books to furniture to buildings to urbanism), and brought architecture into dialog with its contemporary culture (both as an intellectual pursuit and a practical/technical one). He seemed to take equal pleasure in both history and the mundane, offering a witty counterpoint to the heroic artist-architect and to the essentialism of his time with an articulate ambiguity, complexity, and inclusivity (something that is more and more important nowadays).
 
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Found this dedication in a 1st edition of Complexity and Contradiction

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Ivan Saleff: Ciao Bob, Bob has left the building. His spirit will roam the universe for eternity always nigh his beloved Denise and Jim. The maestro’s boundless work remains behind with us. It will thankfully perplex pundits, colleagues and students for centuries to come. Bob and Denise’s work has always been inclusive speaking to all ages, cultures, endeavors, and genders. Bob chose to write in common language however his work also provides the challenge of peeling back its deeper layers. Bob’s daily life and work formed one unified whole full of the complexities and contradictions of which he wrote. There was no other Venturi lurking. He was the real deal, authentic, loving and committed in everything he did. Bob was courageous in his efforts to combat pretentious trends which traded substance for drama and one-liner. His arsenal included wit, artistry, ambiguity, irony and academic prowess. He was well armed and ready to engage. I remember him telling me of how he struggled at the time when placing the fractured horizontal white band at the fifth floor of Guild House. It took me a while to fully understand that. It made me think. That is what Bob does. He makes us think. Ashley Schafer and Amanda Reeser: Picking up copy edits on the day of Robert Venturi’s passing, we were struck by the pertinence of the image on the last page of our last issue. It is a photograph of Bob and Denise taken from the back seat, framed by a windshield, ahead of which are signs, strip malls, decorated sheds. It captures so perfectly how they asked us to look at the world differently. Their embrace of Americana, of the city, of what is worthy of our attention, opened the discipline to a more diverse set of interests and narratives long before it was politically correct to do so. The inclusivity Bob championed in Complexity and Contradiction expanded ways of operating in the field, which deeply influenced us at PRAXIS (not to mention generations of architects). His and Denise’s intellectual generosity is a reminder of how we should all strive to practice. Martino Stierli: We have lost a giant, but also an incredibly warm, witty, and generous human being. I remember once cooking a simple pasta with tomato sauce for Bob and Denise in their beautiful Philadelphia home, when I had just started working on my PhD thesis on their Learning from Las Vegas. When Bob saw the sauce, he commented: “How exotic!” He really did see the extraordinary in the ordinary. Venturi, through his pointed observations, is rhetorical brilliance and his puns, forever changed how we think and talk about architecture. One of his most famous drawings illustrated his concept of the decorated shed with the words “I AM A MONUMENT.” That he is. Michael Sorkin: One of the first articles I published after finishing school was a screed attacking Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. Not altogether originally, I charged Bob Venturi with promoting an escapist, purely visual, aesthetic at time of social crisis. How wrong I was! That book and his work were really all about the political and its imbrication not simply in artistic invention but in expansive choice and respect for the choices of others. Bob was eternally and ever gently subversive and changed – liberated - the way we think about architecture. He realized what we were so piously fighting for: the authenticity of difference and the freedom of the imagination.
 
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He even signed his name in a fun way 💔 RIP Bob Venturi

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Léa-Catherine Szacka: “Main Street is Almost all Right” Robert Venturi (1925-2018), probably the best representative of American Postmodernism, was one of the twenty participants of the spectacular Strada Novissima at the 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale. In fact, together with Denise Scott Brown and John Rauch, he probably stayed at the most important address on that street, behind a façade that took the form of a colorful pop cartoonish temple with, in the back, and visible from the street, a large reproduction of the 1964 Vanna Venturi house painted by Cinecittà technicians. Venturi’s presence in the exhibition was seen as not only desirable but as absolutely essential to the success of the show. So much so that chief curator Paolo Portoghesi made sure to include architectural historian Vincent Scully amongst the advisory board of the exhibition, as he knew, only Scully would be able to convince the father of postmodernism to come and play with the other kids on the block. Stanley Tigerman and Margaret McCurry: Bob Venturi led the way backward to a “gentler, simpler time.” His was a postmodernists’ wail that in the late 1960’s spoke a more complex language than that enunciated by canonical modernism. Always the gentleman, he seemed uncomfortable with the mantel of notoriety which nonetheless he wore with great dignity. Never the “starchitect” Bob was too retiring to be bothered by the machinations of fame. He never aimed to be the leader of the “loyal opposition” party either and while his words spoke volumes about complex values, his architectural production sometimes fell a bit short of the mark but not by much. Curiously, like Mies van der Rohe before him he lived to see the discipline of architecture diminished by the false gods of “Marketing and Branding,” but the ethos that has ennobled architecture throughout the ages has already touched the youngest generation who would aspire to that which has been missing in our epoch- “value.” James Wines: “Bob and Denise” In my mind, Bob and Denise are a single entity... a consolidation of infinite intellect and creativity that changed the very foundations of how we think about the built environment. Their unified presence has been totally embedded in both my conscious and subconscious views of architecture since the 1970s; so, it is impossible to believe that one half of this divine team is missing. Denise will surely go on to ever more amazing triumphs of art and theory, but the unity and expansiveness of their ideas will always endure in the design world as a supreme example of love and vision in one package. Mark Wigley: Robert Venturi was hugely influential and hugely misunderstood. He most famously called for complexity and contradiction in architecture but he was actually a new kind of minimalist, always looking to maximize the effect of the least--as revealed by the very compactness of the self-undermining mantra “Less is a Bore.” He was a truly laconic architect, efficiently belittling what others celebrate and celebrating what others belittle. More than anything, he savored the uncontainable ripples produced by slow-motion collisions between seemingly incompatible little things. Together with Denise Scott-Brown, he kept asking architects to think again, and smile a bit, even if the offer was rarely taken up.
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Be Heard, Be Seen!

AN picks must-see West Coast lectures for the fall
As the fall semester kicks into gear, institutions across the west coast have begun publishing their event and lecture series offerings.  Generally speaking, west coast schools have a reputation for being more open-minded and accessible than their eastern counterparts, conditions that often allow young and emerging faculty and designers to thrive. This focus on newness carries over to the lectures and events these institutions put on, which often showcase emerging designers as well as rising international firms. This fall is no different. The region will play host to diverse practices from far and wide, including Salvador Macías and Magui Peredo of Guadalajara, Mexico-based Macías Peredo, Walter Hood of Oakland, California-based Hood Design Studio, and Aurélie Hachez of Brussels, Belgium-based Aurelie Hachez Architecte among many others.   Southern California Institute of Architecture  Alisa Andrasek, director, Wonderlab Wednesday, September 19 Michael Meredith, principal, MOS Architects, Wednesday, October 3 Aurélie Hachez, principal, Aurélie Hachez Architecte Wednesday, November 7   University of California, Berkeley Molly Wright Steenson, senior associate dean for research, Carnegie Mellon University Architectural Intelligence Wednesday, September 12 Jack Halberstam, professor of gender studies and English, Columbia University Unbuilding Gender: Trans* Anarchitectures In and Beyond the Work of Gordon Matta-Clark Wednesday, October 3 Takaharu Tezuka, president of Tezuka Architects Nostalgic Future Monday, October 15   University of California, Los Angeles Dana Cuff, urbanist and architectural theorist; Andrea Ghez, astronomer; Rodrigo Valenzuela, artist; Paul Weiss, nanoscientist What is Space? Tuesday, October 2 Susan Foster, choreographer and scholar; Jennifer Jay, environmental engineer; Tracy Johnson, molecular, cellular and developmental biologist; Greg Lynn, architect What is Body? Tuesday, November 6 Catherine Opie, artist; Willem Henri Lucas, designer; Abel Valenzuela, labor and immigration expert; Alfred Osborne, global economy and entrepreneurship expert What is Work? Tuesday, November 20   University of Southern California Andrew Watts and Yasmin Watts, CEO and CFO, Newtecnic Wednesday, October 3 Walter Hood, principal, Hood Design Studio Wednesday, October 10 Amanda Williams, principal, Amanda Williams Studio Wednesday, October 24   University of Washington College of Built Environments, Department of Architecture Salvador Macías and Magui Peredo, principals, Macías Peredo Wednesday, October 10 Anda French, principal, French 2D Wednesday, October 24 Lene Tranberg, partner, Lundgaard & Tranberg Wednesday, November 14   Woodbury University Andrew Kovacs, principal, Office Kovacs Friday, October 5 Carmelia Chiang, principal, Carmelia Chiang Architecture Friday, October 26 Four Ecologies Panel Discussion: Bruce Appleyard, planner; Margaret Noble, artist; Colleen Emmenegger, academic; Hector Perez, architect; Bruna Mori, author; Moderated by Rebecca Webb Sunday, November 11
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Nah

Five fundamental problems with the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial
The second Chicago Architecture Biennial opened last week at the Chicago Cultural Center, one of the country’s grandest interior public spaces. Artistic Directors Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee of Los Angeles–based Johnston Marklee gathered some 140 of the world’s top designers and thinkers to address the main show’s theme, “Make New History.” This theme had the potential to provoke designers to engage the rich history of architecture to innovate the field or imagine ways to inhabit the world at large. This biennial does not do that, and it is a serious problem for the very idea of “history” and thus contemporary architecture. What it does is offer is a strong case study for what we can do better. The following are five critiques in this vein. 1. The theme forced a generation of emerging architects into a narrow and deadening frame Young practitioners today are certainly interested in referencing and recycling ideas and forms, but it is not necessarily “history” and certainly not just “architectural history.” There is a fairly interesting group of designers who are exploring topics like pop culture, hoarding, textures, the everyday, and other reference points in interesting ways. For example, the best projects in this Biennial were about parts, not history. Tatiana Bilbao’s tower in the "Vertical City," as well as MAIO and Andrew Kovacs’s projects in "Horizontal City: Room of Plinths" were provocative and relevant because of their assemblage-like organization, not because they used a particular piece of history in a certain way. When the curators say, as Lee said in a recent Artforum interview, that this generation is bound by the idea that “history is a treasure trove," and "they don’t feel shame or guilt to retrieve from it,” it is an institutional-academic co-optation of a movement that cuts and pastes everything with a digitally-enhanced and inspired slickness. This show makes it seem like another staid disciplinary project, prematurely accelerating all of the participants into what Charles Jencks would call the “Late-Mellow” phase of their careers. This theme of “Make New History” made these nascent practices conform to a prompt. This is manifested formally in the arbitrary conceptual overlay for the mini-exhibition “Horizontal City: Room of Plinths” in GAR Hall, where, according to the exhibit text, “the overall plinth layout and sizes were based upon the 1947 IIT Plan by Mies van der Rohe, which we see as a sort of organizational 'afterimage' or a subtext in the room.” This formal move certainly did not add to the show, and no one would have known about it if it weren’t expressed in the curatorial brief. Instead, what this grid did manage to do was serve as a perfect metaphor for an empty, constricting conceptual framework in which the participants were forced to work. So why participate? It is hard for young practices—essentially all of the practices in this show—to go against the grain of these biennials or refuse to participate, because biennials have become a sort of shadow economy where deals are made and practices are “bought and sold” with institutional currency. There are always people scouting talent at these events, so it is hard to say no to participating. (See point 3) 2. The complexity of history was reduced to precedent Most of the historical references were weak and don't add anything substantive to the projects. They were often simply a pair of precedents, such as in the “Vertical City” mini-exhibition, where architects were challenged to rehash the famous 1922 Chicago Tribune Tower Competition. This competition is an iconic reference point in Chicago architecture history, but like most of the historical references in the show, it pretty much stopped there. Some projects were about “signs” or about “steel construction,” but that label was more or less the extent of it. There was not much criticality in each individual project, and the overall idea of history seemed to simply be about picking a precedent. Precedent and history are two different things: the former is about legal or argumentative justification, while the second is about all the interesting social, political, and formal ideas. Perhaps the exhibition should have simply been “Use Precedent (101).” In 1965, using historical forms such as ornament and classical language was a radical, innovative idea. But today, it looks more like a replay of Philip Johnson’s late version of post-modernism, where attitudes about image and form in architecture—pioneered by people like Charles Moore, Venturi Scott Brown, and Hans Hollein—were reduced to empty signifiers that enforced upper class institutional good taste. ‘Twas this reliance on architectural historicism—rather than the new language of postmodern society—that made pomo into a joke for the dustbin of history. In the past, it has often been clear why we are revisiting particular histories as architectural turns, but here it is not. 3. The biennial's market imperative warped the work that was shown  It is no coincidence that this Biennial is so closely related to the commercial art fair EXPO Chicago. It is in some ways the logical conclusion of the Biennial model: a gathering of celebrities who want to show off their recent work. Obviously the work in the Biennial is not being sold in the same way that the work in the art fair is being sold, but there is an economy at work in both places. And these two markets both influence the work in the exhibitions. Someone should make an artrank.com for architects. In the art fair, collectors speculatively invest in art that will hold value, including art that is produced by future stars, artists whose work is cheap now but will appreciate in years to come. This dictates what kind of work is displayed. In the Biennial, young designers are given a “platform” that will—at least in theory—lead to future work and opportunity. This marketplace, unfortunately, shapes the work. In a forthcoming essay entitled “Peripatetic Pettena" in the book The Curious Mr. Pettena (Humboldt Publishers, 2017), artist and architect James Wines reflects on the state of art fairs and the effects of the commoditized market upon art. In the following excerpt, it would work just as well if you replaced “art fair” with “2017 Chicago Biennial;” “Pop era” with “early postmodernism;” and “Abstract Expressionism” with “modernism.”

In today’s gallery world, where stock exchange voracity appears interchangeable with art fair commodity peddling, the anti-commercial and introspective dialogues of the environmental movement during the late 1960s and 70s were like apostolic meditations by comparison.  Even the merchandising excesses associated with Pop Art now seem like somber banking conventions, in contrast to the souk-like sales tactics of current international expos...to its historical credit, the Pop era contributed significantly to liberating the 1960s New York art scene from the fusty anti-figurative bias of third generation Abstract Expressionism.  By contrast, current events like Miami Basel and the Armory Show appear dominated by hyperbolic celebrations of conceptual vacuity, a disproportionate enthusiasm for transitory talent and a steadfast avoidance of original aesthetic values. There is a ubiquitous re-packaging of influences from the past, defended with such vaguely apologetic labels as ‘Appropriation, Pseudorealism, Post-postmodernism, Metamodernism and Neomimimalism.  Too much of the new work, endorsed as hot ticket progressivism is, in reality, a deferent version of ‘if-you-please’ avant-garde.

4. "History" was stale and familiar, and largely irrelevant today  In this Biennial, there were some interesting bits of lesser-known history and some amazing moments of drawing and architectural assemblage. But the curation was uneven, and swerved from heavy-handedness with no productive end to the usual suspects doing their usual things unrelated to the project at hand. In the "Vertical City" show, for example, the wall texts read like a presentation from a first-year design studio. Very little new information was introduced,  and the show took a boring typology—the tall tower—and didn’t even update it. Instead, we got a very personalized response from each designer. There wasn’t much that was “new” or historical in this room. While the 2015 version of the Biennial was simply “all the cool stuff we could find,” it was indeed, cool stuff, at the edge of knowledge both within and outside of the discipline. Biennials don’t have to solve all the world’s problems or solve inequality, but they can at least relate to the outside world in a coherent way. In the end, disciplinary knowledge is at its best when it has productive friction with issues outside the profession. The historical canon is being questioned today more aggressively than ever. There is a real need to probe what kinds of histories we are telling and where. On one of the biggest platforms in the world like the CAB, it was unfortunate that this exhibition only reinforced a Western ideal of architectural history. Almost all of the “history” here was from the Western canon. Now would be the time to really upend some of the stale narratives that have dominated architectural history in the past. 5. Its relationship to art was all wrong The art references made in this Biennial are mostly from the 1960s, such as Ed Ruscha, from whom the title was borrowed, Gordon Matta-Clark, and Claus Oldenburg. While certainly interesting, these antiquated modern art references keep the exhibition from engaging with the contemporary, adding another layer of alienation. Contemporary art biennials have moved so far past these modern art references that it makes this Biennial look completely out of date. The Berlin Biennale 9 (BB9) in 2016, curated by the New York collective DIS, was full of ultra-contemporary works that addressed all kinds of issues today like cryptocurrency, surveillance, wellness, migration, emerging technologies, new social norms, and radical shifts in how we consume media, among a host of topics. It was criticized for not being overtly political enough, but it did access some of the pertinent ideas that are affecting how we live today. There is really no way to compare the sheer horror and excitement that came from BB9 to the dusty 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial. So given these five issues, what do we take away from the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial? If this show is any indication, there is a real case to be made for abandoning the language of architectural history entirely and inventing something else. Some of the most interesting times for architecture occurred when we tried to move beyond something prior, or as Bertolt Brecht said, “Erase the traces!” If there is a role for architectural history outside of the academy, it is not obvious what that might be, based on what this show demonstrated. How history was deployed was problematic for the discipline, as it was too narrow in its purview, and made an exciting time in architecture (the re-orientation of the discipline in the age of digital space and ubiquitous digital production) into another worn-out historical trope.
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Instagram Eavesdrop

Studio Gang-Nick Cave collaboration, bouncy castles, and other updates from the architects of Instagram
At The Architect’s Newspaper, we’re plain addicted to Instagram. Sure, we love seeing Brutalist concrete through “Inkwell” or “Ludwig” filters, but there’s also no better place to see where architects are getting their inspiration, how they’re documenting the built environment, and where they’ve traveled of late. Below, we bring you some of the best Instagrams of this past week! (Also, don’t forget to check out our Instagram account here.) The City of Miami, days before Hurricane Irma is projected to make a direct hit, sent out its Fire Rescue Department's emergency recovery fleet to help out victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston: Elsewhere on the continent, lighter content made it onto the feed. Andrew Kovacs' model for the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial was sighted in the wild, a re-imagination of Sir John Soane's home and museum as a dense, colorful cityscape. Over at the Queens Museum, Never Built New York (curated by AN contributing editor Sam Lubell and Greg Goldin) inflated a recreation of Eliot Noyes' unbuilt Westinghouse Pavilion for the 1964 World's Fair ... as a space-age, noded bouncy castle. Kind of looks like a fidget spinner, no? In the Zuidas neighborhood of Amsterdam, MVRDV has broken ground on Valley, a terraced green-tower mixed-use complex evocative of Stefano Boeri's Vertical Forest in Milan. The project is in collaboration with famed landscape architect Piet Oudolf. Finally, Studio Gang posted a Chicago magazine article on the collaboration between heavyweights Jeanne Gang and Nick Cave for the Navy Pier event opening both the Chicago Expo and the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial—but its content are still under wraps.  
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Instagram Eavesdrop

An ophidian staircase, Chicago Biennial prep, and other updates from the architects of Instagram
At The Architect’s Newspaper, we’re plain addicted to Instagram. Sure, we love seeing Brutalist concrete through “Inkwell” or “Ludwig” filters, but there’s also no better place to see where architects are getting their inspiration, how they’re documenting the built environment, and where they’ve traveled of late. Below, we bring you some of the best Instagrams of this past week! (Also, don’t forget to check out our Instagram account here.) With summer drawing to a close, it's time to lay eyes on fall fun, and what better place to start than IG? Although Archtober, New York AIA's October architecture bonanza, is a full month away, the Chicago Biennial opens in just two weeks. Though we didn't find studio pics of bleary-eyed architects on a work binge, surrounded by takeout containers, we did see participating firms working furiously on their installations for the second iteration of the Biennial. Check out a few projects below: Andrew Kovacs (Archive of Affinities) debuted the colorful first drawing for his Biennial model on Instagram yesterday.
 

1st Sketch for our @chicagoarchitecturebiennial model @erin.k.wright @ocaptainuniverse

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And at Bureau Spectacular, model-making is underway.

Work in progress #chicagoarchitecturebiennial #bureauspectacular #spaceship #loos #villamuller #villamooler

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Meanwhile, CAMESgibson is hard at work on some sunshine.
 

Well done.

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On the other side of the world, OMA is showing off pics of the nearly-complete Lab City, an engineering school in Paris.
And finally, just look at 3XN's magnificent staircase for UN City Copenhagen. Its sinuous curves respond to the dialogue and connection the UN fosters, but it also resembles a writhing snake coated in chocolate shell. (There's a technical term for that, right?)
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LADG

Inside the diverse practice of the Los Angeles Design Group

The offices of the Los Angeles Design Group (LADG) are located on a sleepy street in Venice, California, that even on cloudy days looks a bit sun-bleached. There, a few blocks from the ocean in a diminutive storefront open to the street, one can find Claus Benjamin Freyinger, Andrew Holder, and their small team of designers charting a unique trajectory in what one might call “disciplinary architecture.”

“[Things like] structure are always subordinate to the [disciplinary] agenda we are trying to pursue,” Freyinger said, describing a vibrant grid of project views organized neatly along the main studio wall. He continued, “We are trying to work against the understanding of a building as a collection of integrated systems, one piled on top of the other.” Which is not to say that the firm does not consider structure or systems, but rather that it focuses instead on subverting the all-too-easy tendency those components have of making themselves apparent in the final work. Instead, LADG explodes the building process horizontally and explores each component—drawing, model, and detail—individually, in pursuit of “what happens when each idea develops independently of hierarchy,” as Holder put it.

After 13 years, the firm has produced a compellingly diverse collection of work ranging from installations to interiors to complete structures, swapping disciplinary and professional focus with each project.

The Kid Cambridge, Massachusetts

The Kid Gets out of the Picture, installed at Loeb Library at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2016, was developed in concert with architects First Office, Hirsuta, and Laurel Broughton / Andrew Kovacs for Materials & Applications. The contemporary interpretation of an English picturesque garden is based on priest and artist William Gilpin’s travel sketches, which LADG mined for symbolic and literal inspiration in its attempts to explore “topics left unfinished by the picturesque.” With the installation, the designers explored “clumps,” the collections of heterogeneous objects and plants used by picturesque designers to organize their compositions. Here, the designers arrange a collection of plaster-coated, plywood-rib-framed drapery atop wooden-beam and stacked-block bases.

Surefoot Santa Monica  Santa Monica, CA

The interiors for Surefoot Santa Monica are a creative solution for an abstract programmatic challenge: Create a storefront for a shop with no inventory. The ski-boot store acts as a fitting room mostly, where patrons pick out and get sized up for new custom-made ski boots produced off-site. The firm toyed with the formal complexities of lofted and faceted finishes for the project, creating a collection of object-like surfaces that act independently of one another. Gable-shaped plywood display walls—punctuated by boxed-out display cases—hold forth under a billowing plaster tent.

Oyster Gourmet Los Angeles

The Oyster Gourmet is a mechanical kiosk designed to house a champagne and oyster bar in L.A’s Grand Central Market. The structure’s operable walls fold up and down via hand crank, creating an awning for the bar below when fully extended. The structure is made out of plywood ribs, canvas cloth, and steel supports. But the built form of the mollusk-shaped eatery is but one manifestation of the kinetic kiosk—the pink-hued worm's eye axonometric and gray-scale floorplan drawings are also of merit.

Armstrong Avenue Residence Los Angeles

The Armstrong Avenue Residence is a 1,894-square-foot renovation of an existing split-level house in Los Angeles. The charred cedar-clad “upside down house” is organized with a top-floor living room located above an unceremonial set of bedroom, study, and garage spaces. The setup ensures the living areas have the best view of a nearby reservoir, which can also be seen from a cyclopean bedroom window that has been torqued to be in line with the water feature. The inset bay window is mimicked along the back of the house via Marcel Breuer–inspired massing, creating a house that steps out in parallel with the scrubby hillside behind.

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Back to the Future

Chicago Architecture Biennial announces 2017 participants
The Chicago Architecture Biennial has announced its 2017 list of participants. Artistic directors Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee of Los Angeles-based firm Johnston Marklee selected the 100 firms to present their work at the second Biennial from September 16th, 2017, through January 7th, 2018. This year’s Biennial, titled "Make New History," will take a decidedly historical look at architecture. The show hopes to address the persistent "insistence on creating works that are unprecedented and unrelated to architectures of the past." The participating architects represent a generation which has a renewed interest in historic precedents, while still being interested in progressive architecture. "This year’s list of participants was carefully chosen to showcase the future of architecture and design rooted in history," said Todd Palmer, Executive Director of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. “Through presenting a variety of work, we aim to give visitors of all kinds, from leaders across the global architecture community to the interested traveler, an in-depth look at architecture as we know it today, and the chance to be inspired by how architecture is making new history in cities around the world.” The following participants will present work at the Chicago Cultural Center, as well as sites across the city. 51N4E (Brussels, Belgium; Tirana, Albania) 6A Architects (London, UK) Ábalos+Sentkiewicz (Madrid, Spain; Cambridge, USA; Shanghai, China) Adamo-Faiden (Buenos Aires, Argentina) AGENdA agencia de arquitectura (Medellin, Colombia) Aires Mateus (Lisbon, Portugal) Ana Prvački and SO-IL (Los Angeles, USA; New York, USA) Andrew Kovacs (Los Angeles, USA) Angela Deuber Architect (Chur, Switzerland) Ania Jaworska (Chicago, USA) Aranda\Lasch and Terrol Dew Johnson (New York, USA; Tucson, USA) Archi-Union (Shanghai, China) Architecten de Vylder Vinck Taillieu (Ghent, Belgium) Arno Brandlhuber and Christopher Roth (Berlin, Germany) Atelier Manferdini (Venice, USA) AWP office for territorial reconfiguration (Paris, France; London, UK) Bak Gordon Arquitectos (Lisbon, Portugal) Barbas Lopes (Lisbon, Portugal) Barkow Leibinger (Berlin, Germany) baukuh (Milan, Italy) Besler & Sons LLC (Los Angeles, USA) BLESS (Berlin, Germany) BUREAU SPECTACULAR (Los Angeles, USA) Caruso St John (London, UK) Charlap Hyman & Herrero (Los Angeles, USA; New York, USA) Charles Waldheim (Cambridge, USA) Christ & Gantenbein (Basel, Switzerland) Daniel Everett (Chicago, USA; Salt Lake City, USA) David Schalliol (Chicago, USA) Dellekamp Arquitectos (Mexico City, Mexico) Design With Company (Chicago, USA) Diego Arraigada Arquitectos (Rosario, Argentina) DOGMA (Brussels, Belgium) DRDH (London, UK) ENSAMBLE STUDIO (Madrid, Spain; Boston, USA) Éric Lapierre Architecture (Paris, France) Estudio Barozzi Veiga (Barcelona, Spain) fala atelier (Porto, Portugal) Filip Dujardin (Ghent, Belgium) Fiona Connor and Erin Besler (Los Angeles, USA; Auckland, New Zealand) First Office (Los Angeles, USA) formlessfinder (New York, USA) Frida Escobedo (Mexico City, Mexico) Gerard and Kelly (Los Angeles, USA; New York, USA) Go Hasegawa (Tokyo, Japan) HHF Architects (Basel, Switzerland) Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle (Chicago, USA) J. MAYER H. und Partner, Architekten and Philip Ursprung (Berlin, Germany) James Welling (New York, USA) Jesús Vassallo (Houston, USA) Jorge Otero-Pailos (New York, USA) June14 Meyer-Grohbrügge & Chermayeff (New York, USA; Berlin, Germany) Karamuk * Kuo Architects (New York, USA; Zurich, Switzerland) Keith Krumwiede (New York, USA) Kéré Architecture (Berlin, Germany) Kuehn Malvezzi (Berlin, Germany) Luisa Lambri (Milan, Italy) Lütjens Padmanabhan Architekten (Zurich, Switzerland) Made In (Geneva, Switzerland; Zurich, Switzerland) MAIO (Barcelona, Spain) Marianne Mueller (Zurich, Switzerland) Marshall Brown (Chicago, USA) MG&Co. (Houston, USA) MONADNOCK (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) MOS (New York, USA) Norman Kelley (Chicago, USA; New York, USA) Nuno brandåo costa arquitectos Ida (Porto, Portugal) OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen (Brussels, Belgium) PASCAL FLAMMER (Zurich, Switzerland) Patrick Braouezec (Paris, France) Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner (Chicago, USA; Denver, USA) Pezo Von Ellrichshausen (Concepción, Chile) Philipp Schaerer (Zurich, Switzerland) PRODUCTORA (Mexico City, Mexico) REAL Foundation (London, UK) Robert Somol (Chicago, USA) SADAR+VUGA (Ljubljana, Slovenia) Sam Jacob Studio (London, UK) SAMI-arquitectos (Setubal, Portugal) SANAA (Tokyo, Japan) Sauter von Moos (Basel, Switzerland) Sergison Bates (London, UK; Zurich, Switzerland) Serie Architects (London, UK; Zurich, Switzerland) SHINGO MASUDA+KATSUHISA OTSUBO Architects (Tokyo, Japan) Stan Allen Architect (New York, USA) Studio Anne Holtrop (Muharraq, Bahrain; Amsterdam, The Netherlands) Studiomumbai (Mumbai, India) Sylvia Lavin (Los Angeles, USA) T+E+A+M (Ann Arbor, USA) Tatiana Bilbao Estudio (Mexico City, Mexico) Tham & Videgård Arkitekter (Stockholm, Sweden) The Empire (Verona, Italy) The Living (New York, USA) The Los Angeles Design Group (Los Angeles, USA) Thomas Baecker Bettina Kraus (Berlin, Germany) Tigerman McCurry Architects (Chicago, USA) Toshiko Mori Architect (New York, USA) UrbanLab (Chicago, USA; Los Angeles, USA) Urbanus (Shenzhen, China; Beijing, China) Veronika Kellndorfer (Berlin, Germany) WELCOMEPROJECTS (Los Angeles, USA) Work Architecture Company (New York, USA) Zago Architecture (Los Angeles, USA) ZAO/standardarchitecture (Shanghai, China) “Our goal for the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial is to continue to build on the themes and ideas presented in the first edition,” said Mark Lee. Sharon Johnston added, “We hope to examine, through the work of the chosen participants, the continuous engagement with questions of history and architecture as an evolutionary practice.”
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Double Trouble

Jai & Jai Gallery becomes an essential hub for L.A.’s young artist-designers
Jai & Jai Gallery, a 350-square-foot exhibition space sandwiched between a barbecue smokehouse and a former vintage music store in Los Angeles’ Chinatown neighborhood, is a beacon in the city’s bustling young architecture scene. Whereas older generations strove for the empty warehouses of Culver City and Santa Monica, a new generation of designers is looking toward the inner city as a place to make and exhibit art and design, positioning galleries and art spaces like Jai & Jai as loci of experimentation for the city’s foremost millennial makers. This scene at Jai & Jai is typical of an opening night: As a heavy mix of creative young professionals gossip about their latest projects, Jomjai and Jaitip Srisomburananont, the sisters behind the gallery, hold court with potential buyers, guide new visitors toward wine, and play host to what often has more in common with a low-key San Fernando Valley house party than any staid Westside art gallery opening. Jaitip explains to The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) that though the gallery’s social importance is somewhat unintentional, it reflects a deeply personal part of who they are as individuals, saying the transformation from art space to social hub “mostly happened organically; [our events] always have that ‘Jai & Jai vibe.’ It’s just like how we treat our family: You come to our house, have a drink, see some art. Thankfully, it’s echoed through our business as well.” The Jais, as they are known by the ever-expanding social scene surrounding the gallery, keep a frenetic pace at these openings, and if you manage to grab their attention, it’s usually only for a few minutes. Mid-conversation, if you’re, say, discussing writing an article about the show at hand, Jomjai will pull out her iPhone to tap out an email (to you). She’ll then pivot to someone who looks like a prospective buyer and deliver him or her to the featured artist before moving on to someone else, maybe an intern snapping photographs or someone potentially cooking up the gallery’s next show. The Jais do this for hours, until the gallery shuts down and the party moves to one of the nearby dive bars. By the time you get home that night, you’ll likely have another email waiting for you and maybe even a press kit. It might seem cliché to focus on this aspect of the gallery first, but it reflects a larger and equally obvious truth of the Los Angeles art and architecture economy of today: It takes a lot of hard work to make things happen. This tendency is something of a common denominator for the Jais, the resident social patrons who frequent their gallery, and the exhibited artists themselves. Of those two latter groups, many are early-on in their careers and necessarily run art and design practices parallel to their 9-5 jobs. They also use their exhibited artworks to fund or support client-based commissions for their own independent practices. Many other are fresh out of school, having recently launched their own practices, or are teaching at an area architecture schools. Jomjai describes the gallery as, “More of an open forum” than an incubator, where the sibling gallerists “allow an opening for new ideas.” According to the sisters, the gallery provides young practitioners “a chance to express themselves, their ideas and theories, whether they’re artistic, academic, or architectural.” Jaitip adds, “We like to engage everyone and for us, the gallery acts as platform that lets us do that at equal levels.” Since it opened in 2012, a who’s who of L.A.’s rising stars have exhibited work on the gallery’s walls, creating a self-reinforcing narrative for the storefront as a kick-back space for the city’s young, energetic, and experimental designers. The gallery, which recently expanded into the neighboring thrift store, intentionally takes on challenging exhibitions and works with its artists to chart new terrain. In 2015, Jimenez Lai of Bureau Spectacular wrapped the interior of the exhibition space in panels of his trademark architectural cartoons, transforming the tiny space into a cave-like work of art. The work, Beachside Lonelyhearts, is carved up into a series of truncated and geometrically-shaped canvases; fragments of it can still be found in Jai & Jai’s growing archive. The year prior, Laurel Consuelo Broughton of Welcome Projects and Andrew Kovacs came together for a three-part show. Their Gallery Attachment and As-Built exhibitions took place in a parking lot across the street and inside the gallery, respectively. The parking lot show exhibited monochromatic, full-scale elements of architectural oddities while the show inside the gallery displayed a collection of measured as-built drawings made from the team’s collection of detritus outside. The duo also produced a zine to accompany and compliment their other trans-dimensional, multimedia works. Broughton told AN, “Before Jai & Jai the only spaces in Los Angeles for architectural exhibitions were institutionally sponsored. Being small and without institutional ties allows the gallery to exhibit work outside the traditional comfort zone for architecture and design,” to which Kovacs added, "Jai & Jai is an absolute asset for architecture in Los Angeles. I feel the gallery has a very open and flexible outlook that makes it possible to take risks with shows and explore new ideas." Mike Nesbit, independent artist and project designer at L.A.–based architecture firm Morphosis, has exhibited works of his “abstract-technical” art at Jai & Jai several times. His glitch-pointillist drawings and thickly-silkscreened, supersized concrete panel canvases filled the space last autumn for his Swipe show. The artist carted in massive slabs of cement coated in toothsome swipes of colored paint, lending a bit of L.A.’s abstract art bona fides to the space. And more recently, Clark Thenhaus of Endemic Architecture deployed office-based research as an exhibition titled Mind Your Mannerisms that catalogs, interprets, and manipulates San Francisco’s architectural turrets in paintings and models. Thenhaus’s show is the eighth show at Jai & Jai in the last year, with probably an equal number of gallery talks and panel discussions to support the exhibitions and promote other creative endeavors happening in the space over this period, as well. Thenhaus described the value of a space like Jai & Jai to AN  via email, saying, “The gallery enables a kind of exploratory freedom to more deeply consider and speculate on building and practice-related ideas in ways that cannot be achieved to the same level through more conventional outlets or client projects as a young office,” adding, “The value of this is, for a young practice, a way to stake an intellectual claim while also working directly on, and through, ideas related to disciplinary interests or to buildings that are yet to be fully designed or built.” If it seems like the work seems is all over the place, that’s because it is, and by design. The Jais intentionally take on challenging exhibitions and work with their artists to chart new terrain. Jaitip explains, “The main component through and through and from the beginning, has always been to engage the audience, whether they agree with the work or not.” This engagement plays out in the constantly changing gallery displays, which transform the space over and over again as the year goes on. Jaitip explained that for her, group shows like the 2014 show Chess, which showcased showpiece chess sets by a slew of designers, are the most rewarding, remarking, “To us, as gallerists, group shows are really inspiring to work on because [we coordinate] a group of people who believe in one concept and help bring them come together to tell a story. Chess and Bust were defining moments for Jai & Jai Gallery, as was Goods Used.” The gallery also timed the debut of their new online print shop with another group show earlier this year, Resolution – The Digital Print Group Exhibition, that used numbered prints of the work on display as a way of lowering the cost barrier for potential buyers. Jaitip explains, “We developed limited edition prints of these exhibited pieces to sell to a younger crowd and open up another branch for the gallery as a business and an organization that supports this type of success.” Chess sets and cartoon-caves as cutting edge architecture? In L.A., yes. That’s because the L.A. art and architecture scene is in a primal flux, not because art and architecture haven’t gone hand-in-hand here since the days of the deconstructionists and blobitects, but because in certain segments of the professional and academic architecture scene, they have become one and the same. Whether it’s the proximity to entertainment culture, the easier access to larger studio spaces, or the more readily available infrastructure for large-scale art production, L.A.-based architects are dabbling in a simultaneity of production and exhibition. Jai & Jai plays a central role in that conversation. As the Jais told me at the end of our conversation, they aim to keep working. “The goal is always to grow. Just grow, and to do that organically.”
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Turf and Turf

Materials & Applications to host English landscape installation in its L.A. courtyard
Los Angeles-based Materials & Applications (M&A) has announced its Fall installation program, The Kid Gets Out of the Picture, due to open October 15th at the M&A Courtyard in Los Angeles's Silverlake neighborhood. The project, guest curated by Los Angeles Design Group (LADG), consists of a collaborative installation by the curators and a group of architectural offices (First Office, Laurel Broughton/Andrew Kovacs, and Hirsutethat aims for a “contemporary update on the aesthetic principles of early 19th century English landscape architecture.” The group installation will focus on the component parts, or “catalog of nouns,” deployed to achieve a cohesive whole in traditional English gardening design. The three-month long installation will work within the language of these landscape components—follies, berms, viewpoints, and walls—in an effort to “extract the qualities of [these] images and literalize them in the real world” and will be directly installed in M&As Courtyard space, where the non-profit, experimental public architecture group typically holds its exhibitions. Describing the still-in-the-works project, Kovacs and Broughton told The Architect's Newspaper in a joint statement, "We are super excited to be part of the project with the LADG, Hirsuta, and First Office. We think the collaborative format that includes all the work overlapping in the Materials & Applications courtyard is unique and will certainly produce strange and potent juxtapositions." Support for the project has been provided by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Pasadena Art Alliance, Graham Foundation, University of California, Los Angeles School of Architecture and Urban Design and the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. The Kid Gets Out of the Picture follows M&A’s earlier and more mobile installation from earlier this year, TURF: A Mini-Golf Project, which saw a constellation of young designers take on the design of individual holes for a mini-golf installation on a vacant plot of land adjacent to L.A.’s Echo Park.
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One-Night Stand

Art and architecture takes over a motel in L.A. for one night only
One-Night Stand LA (ONSLA) is holding its second annual pop-up art show May 14th at the Holiday Lodge Motel in Los Angeles’s Westlake neighborhood. The tongue-in-cheek name comes from the ephemeral nature of an exhibition that brings together dozens of various emerging art and architecture practices in one courtyard motel for one night only. “This event was in response to social media,” Anthony Morey, co-founder of ONSLA said in a press release for the event. “Instead of viewing work online, like most of us already do, we decided to hold an annual event to give people an opportunity to see work in person.” The show was conceived by Morey, William Hu, and Ryan Tyler Martinez as a platform for a wide spectrum of artists and architects to “explore vices, provocations, tendencies, or questions that kept them awake at night” in 2015. Aside from holding the exhibition for a single night, the organizers also pledge to show a featured practices’ work only once, aiming to establish a rotating door for new creative suitors for the L.A. arts scene that opens once every year. Last year’s show featured the work of 20 emerging creative practices, many with ties to the organizers’ alma mater, Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) including Mike Nesbit, Besler and Sons, and Sarah Newby. As a result, that year's program showcased a provocative array of digital media-heavy installations, including virtual reality projections and cuddling robots. This year’s show promises more of the same, with ONSLA exhibiting work in each of the motel’s rooms as well as in various locations scattered across the site. 2016's happening is guest curated by Duygun Inal, Debbie Garcia, and Jonathan Crisman and focuses on the theme of “Rendezvous,” that, according to the curators, “encompasses a lot of feelings coming with an expectation but being open to anything that may or may not happen.” Curators Inal and Garcia told AN via telephone, "We are excited to see a lot of construction processs-based work this year. We like to showcase work that maybe isn't cool yet or might never be cool, but that's part of the point for us." With featured work from 30 artists and architects, including works by Andrew Kovacs, Jennifer Bonner & Volkan Alkanoglu, Weather Projects, and Sophie Lauriault, One-Night Stand LA’s promises to bring a sampling of experiences, new and to the city’s art-design scene.    
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Twenty five architects tackle five current issues with 25 models in this Illinois exhibition
Twenty Five young American architects are taking on current significant issues facing the world in the 5x5 Participatory Provocations show at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. With the aim of engaging with the public while still being provocative within the field of architecture, 5x5 argues for participatory criticism, or critical engagement through architectural practice. The curators posed five prompts for offices to explore one of through physical models. The prompts include; Droneports – contemplating the future of drone deliveries, Inve$tment Tower$ – the consequence of the construction of extreme luxury high-rises as financial investments, Lunar Resort – luxury tourism on the moon, NSA Community Branch – the fictional development of NSA community branches, and Trump Wall – the potential construction of an anti-immigration wall on the border between the United States and Mexico. The 25 offices participating are: Abruzzo Bodziak Architects Andrew Kovacs / Archive of Affinities Anthony Titus Studio Brillhart Architecture Carl Lostritto Club Club David Emmons Formlessfinder Future Expansion GELPI Projects is-office JKurtz KNE studio Kyle May, Architect Michael Abrahamson Norden Design Platform for Architecture + Research Path + Price Studio P.R.O. + Quarra Stone Company Sean Gaffney / Christina Nguyen Snarkitecture SOFTlab SPACECUTTER Studio Cadena Ultramoderne The resulting models range from the playful to the austere, while questioning the current status of their prompted issue. Abruzzo Bodziak Architects’s NSA Community Branch invites guests to "spy" on the model through cellphone peepholes, the interior revealing and endless web of space. PATH + Price Studio’s take on the same subject places an obtrusive metal building over a neighborhood intersection. Below the ground of the model, the building is revealed to be iceberg-like, with massive underground information storage space. Brillhart Architecure’s Droneport model visualizes the very airspace companies like Amazon are fighting for as product delivery systems are rethought. Projects working with the Inve$tment Tower$ prompt also take to the air with slender supertowers. Both SPACECUTTER’s and P.R.O.’s  Inve$tment Tower$ step over the cities below them with thin legs, physically expressing the separation of the rich from the rest of the city. 5x5 Participatory Provocations is curated by Julia van den Hout, founder of Original Copy, and co-founder and Editor of CLOG, Kevin Erickson a New York–based designer, and an Associate Professor in the School of Architecture, and Kyle May a New York-based architect and co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of CLOG. Sponsored by the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, 5x5 Participatory Provocations will be open through March, 4th 2016.