Search results for "erin besler"

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Corner Problems

Erin Besler and Marcel Sanchez-Prieto named 2018 Rome Prize Fellows in architecture
Erin Besler of Los Angeles-based Besler & Sons and Marcel Sanchez-Prieto of San Diego- and Tijuana, Mexico-based CRO Studio have been named among the 2018-2019 Rome Prize fellows. The two designers represent winners in the prize’s architecture category and are among 27 other awardees for the year in various other fields.  The annual prize confers a one- to two-year fellowship at the American Academy in Rome’s headquarters in Rome, Italy that includes a stipend for research and room and board accommodations. The awards will result in an exhibition at the institution following an intensive research period.  Besler’s proposal “The Problem with the Corner Problem" will look into the problematic nature of corner conditions in architecture. Sanchez-Prieto’s proposal is titled “Architectural Divides.” Joannie Bottkol of the National Parks Service and Lori Wong of the Getty Conservation Institute were awarded Rome Prize fellowships in the historic preservation category.  Zaneta Hong, assistant professor of landscape architecture at the University of Virginia, and Michael James Saltarella of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates were awarded Rome Prize fellowships in the landscape architecture category.    Other Rome Prize winners include: Ancient Studies Liana Brent* Allison L. C. Emmerson Eric J. Kondratieff Mark Letteney Victoria C. Moses** Sean Tandy   Literature Kirstin Valdez Quade Bennett Sims   Medieval Studies Anna Majeski* Austin Powell John F. Romano   Modern Italian Studies Franco Baldasso Jim Carter Alessandra Ciucci Musical Composition Michelle Lou Jessie Marino   Renaissance and Early Modern Studies Talia Di Manno Denis J.-J. Robichaud   Visual Arts Michael Ray Charles Sze Tsung Nicolás Leong Helen O’Leary Karyn Olivier Basil Twist   Italian Fellows Ila Bêka Carmen Belmonte Invernomuto (Simone Bertuzzi and Simone Trabucchi) Renato Leotta Francesco Lovino Virginia Virilli Francesco Zorzi *  year two of two-year fellowship ** year one of two-year fellowship
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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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Eleventh edition of SCI-Arc’s academic journal Offramp hits the internet
The Southern California Institute for Architecture (SCI-Arc) released the eleventh edition of its yearly academic journal Offramp this week. This time, the journal pursues the theme of “Ground” and lists SCI-Arc director and CEO Hernan Diaz Alonso as Editor-In-Chief. In a brief for the issue, Alonso puts forth the following provocation: “Issue #11 of Offramp aims to momentarily divert our critical gaze away from the architectural object in order to reflect upon its other: the ground. In a world increasingly resistant to dichotomies between human activity and the natural environment, how should architects conceive of sites, territories, topographies and other manifestations of ground?” The online-only, submissions-based hodgepodge of neo-postmodern eye candy is made up of ten articles supported by heady text and flashy imagery. The issue features an interview with Tom Wiscombe by Zachary Tate Porter, 2015-2016 Design Theory Fellow at SCI-Arc and founder of Office of Contingent Affairs, a thought-experiment of extruded sandwich-inspired buildings by Jennifer Bonner of MALL, a review of Jorge Otero-Pailos’s “Ethics of Dust” by Carolyn Strauss of Slow Research Lab, and a musing on color and background by Erin Besler and Ian Besler of Besler and Sons. The eleventh issue also hosts essays by Nora Wendl, Florencita Pita, Neyran Turan, Alexander Robinson, Stephen Nova, and Benjamin Flowers. Current and past issues of Offramp can be accessed here.
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TURF, Territory, & Terrain: Materials & Applications uses mini-golf to explore Los Angeles
An upcoming pop-up exhibit at Materials & Applications (M&A), an outdoor experimental space dedicated to architecture and landscape research in Los Angeles, probes the meanings of urban territory and terrain. The project, appropriately named TURF, invited architects, designers, and artists to use the architectural landscape of the mini-golf course as a vessel for exploring the contemporary L.A. condition. The golf course is both plentiful and contentious in Los Angeles: the site of the water-guzzling golf course has been subject to drought-shaming and angry hashtags; the mini-golf course, on the other hand, has become what M&A calls a “playful trope of the city of Los Angeles.” The term “turf”, frequently associated with golf, also connotes territoriality. “When you think golf, you think country club; you think exclusivity,” curator Courtney Coffman told AN. Coffman and co-curator Jia Gu thought the idea of turf would be an interesting point of departure. “We like that it was kind of a loaded term to work with,” Coffman said. The nine winning submissions, which will be constructed for temporary installation, created fantastical mini obstacles exploring themes ranging from drought to traffic to topography, featuring tongue-in-cheek names such as “Pie in the Sky” and “Putt-to-Fit.” Although the project focuses on Los Angeles specifically, not all submissions were by locals, resulting in a wide array of ideas and representations of the city. “We were really happy about the range...We like seeing the different voices overlap,” said Coffman. According to Coffman, the awarded entries showed potential for people to really engage, pushing beyond a linear interpretation of the mini-golf course. In choosing the nine submissions, she looked at how successful the proposals were in translating a big idea at the scale of something small. “This is not just for the sake of something fun,” said Coffman, “It has to be a little deeper.” Although the exact dates for TURF are to be determined, the exhibition will run for three weeks this spring, according to M&A. Programming leading up to the exhibit includes panel discussions featuring outside voices, such as experts on mini-golf architecture, in an effort to “open it up to fields that architects don’t know a ton about.” Ultimately, the goal of M&A is to allow visitors to look at architecture and design dialogue through a different lens. “We want to continue the discussion for up and coming designers and artists who are using architecture as a medium,” said Coffman, “We want people to look at the built environment in a new way even in the every day Los Angeles.” The winning teams include: —club LA Andrea Kamilaris, Brian Koehler, Drew Stanley —Putt-to-Fit Knowhow Shop (Justin Rice + Kagan Taylor) —Terrains TAG-LA (Angel Gonzalez and Trenman Yau) —Driving DE(rang)ED La Fabrica (Kami Hadidian, Luis Ixta, Kristine Edinchikyan, Oscar Corletto) —The Electric Palm Tree Turbine House Ordinary Architecture (Elly Ward and Charles Holland) —SiNK Kyle May, Architect (Kyle May with Maria Moersen and Julia van den Hout) —Practice Mat Besler & Sons (Erin Besler and Ian H. Besler) —Pie in the Sky Heyday Partnership (Patrick Fromm, Devyn Miska, Cristiano Teixeira, Kevin Wronske) —Artificial Turf G!LL!S (Matthew Gillis) Honorable Mentions include: —Swirl Ariel Padilla Grimaldo —Authority Figures Kyle Miller —On Par David Eskenazi & Mark Acciari —Elbows Kristy Balliet with Sam Fudala —Dude, Where’s My LA Heron-Mazy Studio (John Maruszczak) —Gilded Sphere on Sticks Endemic (Clark Thenhaus)
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Live: Postmodern Procedures at Princeton
Postmodern Procedures is a two-day conference at Princeton School of Architecture that offers an alternate history of Postmodernism. The goal is to find something that is less about signs and symbols or historic references, and more about longer-form processes that produced the visual syntax of some of the most interesting projects in architectural history. Follow along as AN will be posting updates all day on Saturday, December 5. 9:25 James Wines gets day 2 started off with a series of stories about 1970's New York and a group of architects and artists who lived near each other on Greene St. in Soho, many of which worked in between architecture and art. He calls this Arch-Art, drawing upon the interdisciplinary contributions made by his firm SITE, as well as artists like Beuys and Henry Moore. There was a comment about rejecting "Plop Art" or "The Turd in the Plaza," favoring a process, such as in his Ghost Parking Lot, a public art project where SITE paved over a parking lot full of cars. Wines calls big box stores the ultimate found object that everyone recognizes. Wines used the BEST Stores to put art where you would least expect it. "It was a transformation," he said, explaining that the stores were a process of making the usual shopping center into something new and fantastic, through process. As for the Indeterminate Facade, the first BEST store, "There was alot of 'not getting it," he said, "Saying that this store was about destruction was like saying that a Giocometti sculpture was about starving people." "Not getting it" became his theme as he showed how many of his ideas became Pomo tropes, such as "tilting" and "falling apart." Some other highlights of his career were shown, including the process behind Shake Shack and the bookstore at MAK Vienna, both of which pushed the limits of building codes, legal contingencies, and historic landmark rules. 10:15 Amale Andraos of WORKac is giving a presentation of their work, with clear echoes of many of the issues that Wines introduced. Slicing, peeling, and the relationship of interior and exterior become organizing principles. "Collage Garage" is a facade for a parking structure in Miami. A four-foot wide ant farm for people includes circulation functions as well as environmental features like ventilation and water collection. The thickness produces a new way of inhabiting a facade, through a process of pushing the limits of the thin slice of space. 10:31 Mark Lee of Johnston Marklee remarks that he saw Wines speak at Sci-Arc 25 years ago when he was young and impressionable. "Seeing him speak again today made me feel young and impressionable," Lee said. Collage and layering are just a couple of the processes that Lee sees as valuable takeaways from Wines' work. Lee showing examples from photography and film to illustrate his concept of "loose fit," including John Baldessari's experiments with throwing balls in the air to approximate geometries. Their Vault House is a beach house that uses this concept to arrange a series of vault-like sections into a long passage of ill-fitting vaults. this process creates a long series of overlapping forms in a complex whole. 10:44 Panel starting off with Lavin asking Wines about living in Soho in the early days with artists like Bob Smithson and Alice Aycock. There were complex relationships between art and architecture, and the lines were not always clear. Wines speaks of it in a very pragmatic way, saying that on Greene St., artists were simply trying to see what they could get away with. Andraos makes the connection that this is probably how SITE shifted the boundaries of what could be considered architecture. "If it looks normal, you have something that is really avant-garde," said Wines. 11:48 And we're back with Diana Agrest, architect and urbanist. She is tracing the procedures that lead to retention and transference of ideas, both in her own work, and in the academic world, especially at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, where a group of non-commercial young architects were trying to find themselves and figure out how to engage with the city and their own practices. 12:27 Erin Besler takes the podium to discuss her intellectual project that deals with problems of construction and participation, a term that she is suspicous of. In her practice, Besler and Sons, she and her husband Ian Besler work with the conventional tools and resources of the everyday architect. At the Chicago Architecture Biennial, they looked at BIM as an open platform of participation that the public can engage with by sketching a wall that is produced by software in 3D. is a kinkily-named platform that displays the creations of Biennial-visitors. Parallel to the open BIM project, a physical constructed light steel-framed wall system interrogates the space within the pedantic construction we might find in a big box store. Each step of the process is reflected upon. The unusual construction produced a set of operational follies along the way, The end project is a hand-scale sight gag—a set of off-kilter details that act visually much like Wine's Best Stores, but at a small scale. Lavin asks, "Who and What is communicating?" She says that in the original Postmodernism, there was architecture communicating with broader audiences, while today, it seems like the work is attempting to communicate with a smaller cadre of people. Agrest says that the work of Venturi and Scott Brown among others was looking for more direct communication, while Besler and Sons' project is communicating both inside and outside and outside of the profession. 2:09 Andrew Holmes explaining how he made a drawing of The Pompidou Center in 1972 while at Piano Rogers Architects. The competition-winning, 36-foot long drawing was made entirely by hand with multiple mediums. Rapidographs, blueprint machines, and a host of other now-arcane drawing techniques came together for the intensive representation. This live blogger is fascinated, but utterly lost in the process of this drawing. Is that ok? Ok, now talking about the relationship of line weights and the finished project. A .8 Rapidograph produces a thicker piece of metal, for instance, while a thinner one is nearly invisible in the final table. During high school, Jimenez Lai got a co-op placement at an animation studio. This was nearly 20 years ago. This is where he developed his relationship to ink, which is the topic of the pairing of Lai and Holmes. This is a thinkpiece about ink. From more recent copies of Noguchi and Tschumi, to living in a gallery in London, Lai is always pushing the boundaries of drawing in social contexts. There are not only physical boundaries in the galleries, but also limits on the audiences and spectators that might enter the space. I remember that London project in 2012 where Lai asked the gallery to buy him a robe. I was there, man. "Yes, I do do sloppy work," he said, referencing Norman Kelley (NK) and Speedism. On one end of the spectrum is NK's immaculate craft of incorrect compositions, while Speedism's fast and dirty accelerationist collages thrive on sloppiness as a political stance within internet culture. Holmes is promiscuous and boring to watch draw, while Lai is "very committal," and more fun to watch draw, as his practice of spectacular public drawing. Holmes says that his drawings are love objects for him, that have supported him throughout his life. 3:10 Wondering what it means to liveblog an event if no one is watching. Will people read it later? Is it still a live blog? Wonder what James Wines is thinking right now. 3:45 Chad Floyd up next. He is going to mix it up with some urbanism. Talking about the components of making a design process work for multiple parties. Floyd worked with Charles Moore to facilitate public TV programming that included a general population in the design process. They even built a storefront office that gave them a presence in Dayton for meetings. As ideas would come in, they would write down ideas on large papers on the wall. They also had a TV Show that broadcast the plans, while accepting calls from the public. Concepts, zoning plans and models were on TV throughout the communities where they were developed. Roanoke Design 79, Riverdesign Springfield, and were the most robust program. "This is not avant-garde architecture. It is bringing back a city that has been down, and doing it in a real way that people appreciate," Floyd said. This is one of the babies that was thrown out with the bathwater of Postmodernism. The engaged process of including local agencies and publics is a lost art. There are examples of firms doing it today, most notably FAT and the AOC in London. 4:16 Andrew Kovacs takes the stage to talk about making architecture from architecture. First, there is a two-part process, which I will reductively describe as collecting and editing. An analysis of Jencks's charts led into Kovacs's own analysis of internet searches and file management. The searching an browsing is compared to persistence hunting, a technique of outlasting your opponent. It leads him to libraries and trashcans and dollar stores. By scanning books and objects in the same scanner, it levels them all out, and allows the Photoshop arrangements to become the narratives (or lack thereof) that animate the work. Appropriating objects becomes a way of animating space. Although it is very Postmodern, "the dogs don't know the difference." Michael Meredith sits facing the screen to scroll through his website. "This is a little wierd for me too." The talk is called "Indifference as a Posture." The talk scrolled slowly through the website while describing the connections he sees through Pop and minimalism that make his practice. 4:58 Final discussion has Denise Scott Brown talking about participation and her experiments with including inner city people in the process.
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Closing Notes
New technologies shape design approaches such as the Eames' extensive slide collection.
Lesley Pedraza / Courtesy MAK Center

The New Creativity: Man and Machines
MAK Center for Art and Architecture
Los Angeles
June 10–August 16, 2015

Technology and architecture have been deeply intertwined since the Industrial Revolution—mechanized production, coupled with innovations in structural technology, radically transformed the space of production. Delving into more recent history, Frank Lloyd Wright reinvented the modern office landscape with his Johnson Wax Headquarters while Eero Saarinen, in his project for Bell Laboratories, exploited the aesthetics and flexibility that resulted from postwar modernism to suit the needs of scientific research at the dawn of computation. In response to emergent technologies, both designs generated spaces to serve the new machines while creating efficient workplaces for managers and employees.

Though architects’ embrace of new technologies as inspiration and mode of production is not novel, the MAK Center for Art and Architecture’s exhibition The New Creativity: Man and Machines, curated by Sylvia Lavin with the UCLA Curatorial Project, demonstrates that there is still undiscovered territory to be considered.

The curators divide the artifacts of the show into four distinct categories: Home, Office, Studio, and Shop. In doing so, they present a discretely compartmentalized view of how technology drove the creation of avant-garde themes within architectural culture during the 20th and early 21st centuries. Situated in what was once Rudolph Schindler’s own space of professional production and bohemian domesticity on Kings Road, the exhibition draws conclusive links between the creative process and often mundane technologies that produce innovations in design. In addition to using Schindler’s home and studio as an armature for the show, the curators included a Plan Hold drafting machine as an example of a catalytic design tool. Introduced into Schindler’s office by Esther McCoy, it purportedly put a “kink” in his Austrian rationalism, as evidenced in the drawings depicting the hinged plan of the Kallis House.

In the Shop section, offerings from contemporary practitioners Greg Lynn, Craig Hodgetts, Erin Besler, and others illustrate a future-present where the computational machine is no longer a mere mode of production, but merges directly into the architecture.

The exhibition’s thesis, that the melding of technology and creativity has a seismic impact on design intelligence, resonates in Lynn’s RV (Room Vehicle) House Prototype. The scale model studies the impact organic form and mechanized technology has on the traditional idea of domestic inhabitancy. Lynn’s pod-like vessel shifts orientation as the needs of the homeowner change throughout the day, allowing the floor to become wall and the ceiling to transform into furniture. When juxtaposed against other works in the exhibition, such as the authorless process inherent in the Peter Vikar’s Synthia the Drawing Machine, or the Low Fidelity models developed by Erin Besler and her hot wire cutter, the spatial impact of Lynn’s rotating house and Hodgetts’ Mobile Theater are the only elements from Shop that suggest that technology truly elevates the human condition.


The Office mines design history for mundane examples to prove a humanistic point. Renowned for their consummate dedication to promoting modernism’s stripped-down aesthetic, Herman Miller promoted workplace furniture—cubicles, storage cabinets, chairs, and executive desks—through quirky sales videos that celebrate the activities of secretary and manager alike. Developed by Robert Probst in 1964, the Action Office presents a flexible order to a 1970s corporate landscape quickly being overrun with word processing machines and appliance-sized computers. Action Office transformed office managers into architects. When one considers the impact Herman Miller’s product  had on the space by simply deploying well-designed furniture and cubicle systems, one wonders if the technologically-driven form-making favored by some of the contemporary designers in the Shop section of the show produce the type of cultural-spatial impact as the “office in a box” that came out of Zeeland, Michigan, almost a half century ago. The issue here is that, despite providing seductive form, technical proficiency doesn’t always deliver pleasurable space, no matter how many compound curves or tweaked angles in the design.

The value of The New Creativity: Man and Machines really lies in selectively magnifying transformative moments within design culture that most would overlook, drawing them together into a soft manifesto. The exhibition, however, trends more toward promoting visual representation and aesthetic output over spatial impact. It takes a critical eye to cut through the history-porn and find the true value in a majority of the work. It is troubling that there is little discourse around the architecture (realized or proposed) produced by the tools in the show beyond its representational value.

While Paul Rudolph may have been a quick study of the repro-machine, his monolithic housing proposal in the show leaves much to be considered in humanist terms, especially when examined through the lens of postwar urban development and the well-documented negative sociological impact such projects had on the more intimate prewar metropolitan culture. Similarly, for anyone who has lived Office Space at some point in their career, the Action Office System cubicle promoted by Herman Miller might seem more like a dystopian flashback, rather than innovative social and spatial tool.

The archival objects, drawings, and models in The New Creativity: Man and Machines invite a certain degree of introspection about the discipline’s hermetic tendencies. Why should we care about office furniture, when during the same decade Action Office invaded office space, humanity had its sights on a lunar landing?

There’s a comfortable clarity and pleasurable visual eroticism to be celebrated in the realm of cool machines, or hip representational proficiency. But more is at stake. Saarinen’s Bell Labs, which through its lifespan transformed from a space of deep computing into a space of deep consuming, endured as a testament to modernism’s infinite spatial flexibility. That shifting paradigm parallels the move from the 20th to 21st century and makes a point that The New Creativity hesitates to point out: While technology is temporal, the architecture it produces, for good or bad, is here to stay.

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Midwest Calling
Iwan Baan

Next month, all heads will turn to the Midwest for the opening of the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial. As North America’s largest survey of contemporary architecture, the event will draw participants from around the globe to create exhibitions, installations, and performances—including several practices that call Los Angeles home: Besler & Sons, Bureau Spectacular, Bryony Roberts, Johnston Marklee, P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S, and Productora, a Mexico City-based practice with a principal who splits his time between L.A. and DF.

Project titles form a kind of poetry of their own and speak to the breadth of experimental works we should expect in Chicago: Furniture Urbanism, We Know How To Order, House is a House is a House is a House, Grid is a Grid is a Grid is a Grid, Hotel Tulum, The Entire Situation, Mute Icons. The projects range from drill team choreography to software interfaces to collaborative multi-media installations.

AN asked participants to share their thoughts on the upcoming Biennial, which is on view October 3, 2015 through January 3, 2016.

Left to right: Erin Besler, Besler & Sons; Jimenez Lai, Bureau Spectacular; Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, Johnston Marklee.
Courtesy Besler & Sons; Jimenez Lai; Johnston Marklee

Do you consider yourself a West Coast designer?

Mark Lee and Sharon Johnston, Johnston Marklee: There is a perpetual sense of foreignness, a sense of constant discovery related to L.A., that we find very attractive. We try to bring this mentality to the projects we are doing outside of Los Angeles.

Jimenez Lai, Bureau Spectacular: I am not from Los Angeles and not from Chicago. I have never been a citizen of anywhere.

Marcelo Spina, P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S: We do and we don’t at the same time, but this is not being ambiguous. Being from Rosario, Argentina, makes us very close to the ethos of Los Angeles as a mecca of architectural innovation in close proximity to cultural speculation and physical production. We have been in Los Angeles for almost 15 years and this is where our office has grown, so this city, with all its freedom, excess, and clichés, is very much part of who we are as architects and thinkers. However, our projects are as much here as they are elsewhere so we always strive to position our ideas within a larger cultural context, precisely so as to avoid being easily classified as either West Coast, South American, etc.

Bryony Roberts: I consider myself a global practitioner with a soft spot for Los Angeles.

The team from Productora.
Ramiro Chaves

The title of the Chicago Architecture Biennial is “The State of the Art of Architecture.” How do you interpret this art-architecture relationship? What can an interdisciplinary approach contribute to architecture culture in general? Are there hazards?

Wonne Ickx, Productora: We believe there is “art” in every form of productive activity as soon as there is a real commitment with the discipline and a will to question that same discipline. We feel that the art is a very natural component of everything we do. Art and the art world is an obvious part of the context in which we work.

Erin Besler and Ian Besler, Besler & Sons: The hazards are many, but fortunately they tend to be just inconvenient rather than mortal hazards. Kind of like a video game where you can’t save. The interdisciplinary approach, for us, seems to really just come down to issues of vernacular, like: How the hell do we communicate with other discourses and design methodologies?

Roberts: I interpreted the title to mean an emphasis on the cultural capacity of architecture, which I definitely appreciate, since for me architecture is as much a cultural endeavor as a tectonic or functional one. I think of my practice as moving between different scales rather than between the different fields of art and architecture. Working from the scale of the body to that of the city helps me break out of the convention of the architect producing only singular buildings. But of course it leaves a lot of uncertainty as a business model.

Spina: We find this a “call to arms” to take on this contemporary paradox between autonomy and engagement at the highest possible level.

I do think architecture needs to be open to speculative dialogues and creative exchanges with philosophy and the sciences, but without giving away its own set of core principles and powers. There are hazards and rewards for this kind of cultural engagement, and with a healthy degree of curiosity and skepticism, we are all for taking risks.

Lee & Johnston: What is provocative about the title of the biennial is the underlying question: What does architecture do best that no other discipline can do?

Left to right: Marcelo Spina, P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S; Ian Besler, Besler & Sons; Bryony Roberts.
Courtesy Patterns; Besler & Sons; Bryony Roberts

What can L.A. (or Mexico City) teach Chicago about architecture?

Besler & Besler: We go through a weird adjustment period when we travel back and forth between L.A. and Chicago. It does strange things to your proprioception and the color temperature and stuff because the two cities are so different in terms of building materials.

If we had to stretch, we might say that Los Angeles seems to have a lot more interesting and novel residential applications for gutters and downspouts than Chicago—all sorts of strange spans, splits, and transitions. Maybe since they rarely have to serve a hydrologic function they’ve become pure ornament in Los Angeles. But if anyone has documentation of some nice gutter or downspout details from Chicago, please do send them to us!

Ickx: The lack of high-end materials or specific building technologies in Mexico demands very basic and straightforward architectural proposals. We think that it is interesting to develop buildings that do not depend on specific constructive processes, technology, or detailing. We believe that in the U.S. there is far too much emphasis on technological innovation and/or representation.

Lai: I think saying one city can teach another city about architecture is potentially a dangerous way of thinking about the function of cultural differences. Chicago and Los Angeles have independent and valuable sensibilities, and I do not think the values of one city can be applied to another.

Spina: The limits of history as a source for architectural invention.

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On View> Chatter: Architecture Talks Back at the Art Institute of Chicago
Chatter: Architecture Talks Back The Art Institute of Chicago 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois Through July 12 The age of texting and tweeting has given more and more people a platform from which to opine, snipe, and complain about, well, everything—including architecture and development projects. Such is the backdrop for Chatter: Architecture Talks Back, an exhibition on view at The Art Institute of Chicago through Sunday, July 12. The multimedia show features work by five emerging architectural firms: Bureau Spectacular, Erin Besler, Fake Industries Architectural Agonism, Formlessfinder, and John Szot Studio. A custom installation by Iker Gil, director of the design publication Mas Context, accompanies Chatter, designed “to explore the multitude of ways in which architecture can be communicated and how the active qualities of chatter—from being constant to satirical—spark conversations.” In the spirit of such conversations, The Art Institute is hosting two roundtable discussions—“Chatter Chats”—in the space. The first took place on April 11, the second will occur on May 16.
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Here are the 60 designers exhibiting at the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial
More than 60 design firms across four continents will contribute to a new festival of design that aims to become the largest international survey of contemporary architecture in North America, co-artistic directors Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda announced Tuesday. The Chicago Architecture Biennial kicks off October 3 and lasts through the year, comprising one-time events and ongoing exhibitions across the city. The festival will be based at the Chicago Cultural Center, but activities will extend to sites including Millennium Park, Michigan Avenue's City Gallery, 72 East Randolph Street, and the Theaster Gates–rehabbed Stony Island Arts Bank. Chicago officials announced the biennial in June. Until now details were scant on the festival, which takes after the Venice biennale. Questions remain, however, on the content of the participating designers' expected contributions, and on the city's ability to fund what has been advertised as a major tourist draw with global cultural significance. Oil giant BP agreed to donate $2.5 million for the inaugural show—a contribution that was reportedly solicited personally by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. And Tuesday Biennial organizers announced a $1 million gift from SC Johnson. But the city’s still looking to raise at least half a million dollars more. “The Biennial team affirms with confidence that the fundraising goal will be met,” said a spokeswoman. The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and the Graham Foundation will present the show, with programming in partnership with the American Institute of Architects and the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Iwan Baan will exhibit a photo series about Chicago, the organizers announced in November, and the show will pay homage to Chicago architect Stanley Tigerman, who in 1977 helped mount a seminal conference that gave today's biennial its name: The State of the Art of Architecture. Here's the full list of participating firms, as of April 14: Al Borde (Quito, Ecuador) allzone / Rachaporn Choochuey (Bangok, Thailand) Andreas Angelidakis (Athens, Greece) Andrés Jaque / Office for Political Innovation (Madrid, Spain; New York, USA) Aranda\Lasch (Tuscon, USA; New York, USA) Assemble (London, UK) Atelier Bow-Wow (Tokyo, Japan) Iwan Baan (Amsterdam, Netherlands) Erin Besler / Besler & Sons (Los Angeles, USA) Tatiana Bilbao S.C. (Mexico City, Mexico) Bjarke Ingels Group / BIG (Copenhagen, Denmark) Santiago Borja (Mexico City, Mexico) Carlos Bunga (Barcelona, Spain) Bureau Spectacular / Jimenez Lai (Los Angeles, USA) Csutoras & Liando (Jakarta, Indonesia; London, UK) Design With Company (Chicago, USA) El Equipo de Mazzanti / Giancarlo Mazzanti (Bogota, Colombia) Frida Escobedo (Mexico City, Mexico) Didier Faustino (Paris, France) Moon Hoon (Seoul, Korea) Indie Architecture + Paul Preissner Architects (Denver/Chicago, USA) John Ronan Architects (Chicago, USA) Johnston Marklee (Los Angeles, USA) junya.ishigami+associates (Tokyo, Japan) Kéré Architecture / Francis Kéré (Gando, Burkina Faso; Berlin, Germany) Kuehn Malvezzi (Berlin, Germany) Anne Lacaton & Jean-Philippe Vassal and Frederic Druot (Paris, France) Yasmeen Lari / Heritage Foundation Pakistan (Lahore, Pakistan) Lateral Office (Toronto, Canada) LIST / Ido Avissar (Paris, France) MAIO (Barcelona, Spain) Marshall Brown Projects (Chicago, USA) Mass Studies / Minsuk Cho (Seoul, Korea) MOS / Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample (New York, USA) New-Territories / Francois Roche & Camille Lacadee (Paris, France/Bangkok, Thailand) NLÉ / Kunlé Adeyemi (Lagos, Nigeria; Rotterdam, Netherlands) Norman Kelley (Chicago, USA) OFFICE / Kersten Geers David Van Severen (Brussels, Belgium) Onishimaki + Hyakuda Architects (Tokyo, Japan) OPEN Architecture/ Li Hu & Huang Wenjing (Beijing, China) Lluís Ortega / Sio2arch (Chicago, USA; Barcelona, Spain) otherothers / David Neustein & Grace Mortlock (Sydney, Australia) Pedro&Juana (Mexico City, Mexico) Pezo von Ellrichshaussen (Concepcion, Chile) Plan:b Arquitectos / Felipe Mesa & Federico Mesa (Medellin, Colombia) PORT (Chicago, USA) Productora (Mexico City, Mexico) RAAAF [Rietveld Architecture-Art-Affordances] (Amsterdam, Netherlands) Bryony Roberts (Los Angeles, USA; Oslo, Norway) RUA Arquitetos (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) Rural Urban Framework (Hong Kong) SO-IL (New York, USA) Sou Fujimoto Architects (Tokyo, Japan) studio Albori (Milan, Italy) Studio [D]Tale (Harare, Zimbabwe; Capetown, South Africa; London, UK) Studio Gang / Jeanne Gang (Chicago, USA) TOMA (Santiago, Chile) UrbanLab / Sarah Dunn and Martin Felson (Chicago, USA) VTN / Vo Trong Nghia Architects (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) WAI Architecture Think Tank (Beijing, China) Weathers / Sean Lally (Chicago, USA) Amanda Williams (Chicago, USA) WORKac+ Ant Farm / Amale Andraos & Dan Wood, Chip Lord & Curtis Schreier (New York, USA) A full list of the festival's sponsors and partners is available on
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On view> Architecture talks back at the Art Institute of Chicago’s new exhibit, “Chatter”
Chatter: Architecture Talks Back opened at the Art Institute of Chicago on Saturday with a buzzing roundtable “salon” between experimental architects and progressive design scholars. Packed to standing-room-only, the dialogue asked how new modes of communication are reshaping architecture’s heritage of representation. The new exhibition features five young architects who are shifting how building design engages the architectural canon. Bureau Spectacular, Erin Besler, Fake Industries Architectural Agonism, Formlessfinder, and John Szot Studio deploy a variety of new architectural media from comics to cinema to installations in neon. “We’re questioning the need to go through the architectural act [of building] to generate a culture change,” posed John Szot, in reference to his studio’s recent architectural film. Curated by Karen Kice, an assistant curator of architecture and design at the Art Institute, the show is installed similarly to 2013’s lauded Studio Gang exhibition, with insightful process-based architectural experiments throughout a large gallery, followed by a more intimate space for conversation and contemplation. Kice invited Iker Gil to curate the latter gallery. Gil, the founder of Chicago-based architecture firm MAS Studio and the design publication MAS Context, is also coordinating exhibition events, including the inaugural Chatter Chat. The salon began with a presentation by Chris Grimley on how his practice, over,under, leverages social media for architecture and the paradox of archiving contemporary thought. Next Jimenez Lai, founder of Bureau Spectacular and former mentee of Stanley Tigerman, spoke of caricature in architecture. Lai embraces the chatter of architects: his cartoonish representations of plans and sections look accessible, but are in fact loaded with architectural pranks only legible to design insiders. John Szot then shared teasers from his multi-year film project, Architecture and the Unspeakable, which reveals stories of urban buildings through the lens of demolition and degradation. The ensuing discussion between presenters and scholars was heavy on avant garde architectural theory. While the concepts may have been too oblique for casual museum-goers, the rapt attention of the audience demonstrated that Chicago’s design scene may be craving this caliber of live intellectual discourse. Balancing the experts’ conversation, ticker tape machines mounted above the window steadily printed a physical curtain of digital commentary from Twitter feeds from around the world. Additional events in the exhibition promise to offer new perspectives on the work for a broader range of participants. Check out next weekend’s gallery brunch by ArtFEED to dine with young artists and designers in the midst of this compelling collection of architectural provocations. The next Chatter Chat roundtable is May 16.
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This year's winning project, COSMO, will purify 3,000 gallons of water in the PS1 courtyard.
Courtesy Andres Jaque
In February, The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 selected Andrés Jaque and his New York/Madrid–based practice, Office for Political Innovation, as winners of the annual Young Architects Program, or YAP. Now in its 16th year, YAP is an invited competition that challenges entrants to design a temporary outdoor installation for the courtyard of MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, Queens. The installation must provide shade, seating, and water for the museum’s Warm Up summer music series—a season-long dance party—while also addressing environmental issues. Jaque’s project is called COSMO. It is a moveable framework constructed of customized irrigation components that references the plumbing we all rely on in the modern world. More than a metaphor, the system of pipes is also engineered to filter and purify 3,000 gallons of water, eliminating suspended particles and nitrates, balancing PH, and increasing the level of dissolved oxygen. In four days’ time COSMO completes the purification process. It then continues to purify the same water, making it purer and purer every four days.
Jaque hopes that his installation will call attention to United Nations estimates that by 2025 two thirds of the global population will be without sufficient potable water. COSMO is intended as a prototype that can be easily reproduced around the world to deliver drinking water where it is needed most. Jaque also designed COSMO with a biochemical element that causes a plastic mesh at the center of the structure to glow when its water has been purified. In PS1’s stone courtyard, this signal will light up the party, creating a lively atmosphere in which people can drink and get to know each other better. “Last year Hy-Fi, a nearly zero carbon footprint construction by The Living, raised awareness of ecological and climate change,” said Klaus Biesenbach, MoMA PS1 director and MoMA chief curator at large, in a statement. “This year COSMO continues to do so, addressing the issue of increasingly scarce water supplies worldwide in a successful and innovative way.” The other finalists for this year’s YAP were brillhart architecture, Erin Besler, The Bittertang Farm, and Studio Benjamin Dillenburger. An exhibition of the five finalists’ proposed projects will be on view at MoMA over the summer.
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Five finalist named for 2015 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program
MoMA PS1 has announced the five finals for the 2015 Young Architects Program pavilion for the annual Warm Up performance series. The program is considered one of the most prestigious showcases for emerging architects in North America. This year's finalists hail from New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and Toronto. Andres Jaque / Office for Political Innovation of New York and Madrid, Spain. brillhart architecture from Miami. Erin Besler of Los Angeles. The Bittertang Farm of New York. Studio Benjamin Dillenburger from Toronto. The jury for the Young Architects Program included Glenn Lowry, Director, The Museum of Modern Art, Kathy Halbreich, Associate Director, The Museum of Modern Art, Peter Reed, Senior Deputy Director, Curatorial Affairs, The Museum of Modern Art, Barry Bergdoll, Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art, Pedro Gadanho, Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art, Klaus Biesenbach, Director, MoMA PS1 and Chief Curator at Large, The Museum of Modern Art, Peter Eleey, Curator, MoMA PS1 Pippo Ciorra, Senior Curator, MAXXI Architecturra, National Museum of XXI Century Arts (MAXXI), Rome, Jeannette Plaut, Director, YAP CONSTRUCTO, and Marcelo Sarovic, Director, YAP CONSTRUCTO