Search results for "moma"

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Cultural Lensing

Access for All aims to inspire New York through São Paulo's urban design
From an urban design perspective, São Paulo, Brazil, Munich, in Germany, and New York could not be any more different—they exist on separate continents, have vastly different densities, and utilize space in their own distinct ways. So, what, you might ask, could these cities possibly have in common? The answer, according to Andres Lepik and Daniel Talesnik, is more than you think. Access for All: São Paulo’s Architectural Infrastructures, which opened this week at the AIA New York’s Center for Architecture, sets the stage for comparison between São Paulo and its peer cities across the globe. Curated by Talesnik, a trained architect and Bauhaus expert, the exhibition was originally presented at Architekturmuseum Der Tum under the direction of Lepik. Although São Paulo has a significantly greater population density than Munich, Talesnik felt that the German city had plenty to learn from the Brazilian city’s avid use of public space. For decades, the megacity of 12 million has seen a growing investment in public infrastructure in order to ease its open space shortages and respond to the demand for cultural and recreational programming. Access for All presents a selection of these projects since the 1950s, organized into three categories: large-scale, multi-programmatic projects; open public spaces; and projects located along the iconic Paulista Avenue. The exhibition comes 10 years after Lepik’s curation of Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement at the Museum of Modern Art, which highlighted architectural projects on five continents that aided underserved communities. Lepik’s research was an appropriate precursor for a case study in São Paulo, a city deeply affected by economic inequality, high crime rates, traffic congestion, and public health hazards. Talesnik views the selected projects as microcosms of urban life. From the pedestrianized Minhocão highway to the multi-story SESC Pompeía cultural center, the projects are analyzed through sociocultural impact rather than formal characteristics, highlighting the dynamic relationship between the built environment and its inhabitants. In its new home at the Center for Architecture, the exhibition intends to teach New York a few lessons. The large infographic at the start of the exhibition has been stripped of its “Munich” column and replaced with a “New York” column to compare and contrast figures alongside São Paulo’s. At the exhibition’s opening, visitors wanted to know what exactly New York might take away from the São Paulo method. Figuring out that mystery is one of Lepik’s and Talesnik’s favorite parts of the exhibition: “Who knows,” Talesnik laughed. “But we’re certainly curious.” Access for All is on display through May 23.
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These Structures are Big in Japan

Japanese engineering gets its due in Structured Lineages

Structured Lineages: Learning from Japanese Structural Design Edited by Guy Nordenson Published by the Museum of Modern Art MSRP $45.00

Western architects’ fascination with Japan is indisputable, a tendency most famously personified by none other than Frank Lloyd Wright. Contemporary practices are contributing to what is perhaps the third or fourth wave of Japanese influence on American architects, and this group was the focus of the 2016 Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) exhibition A Japanese Constellation: Toyo Ito, SANAA, and Beyond, organized by Pedro Gadanho and Phoebe Springstubb. There is something simple yet sophisticated in the examples of contemporary Japanese architecture selected for this exhibition—attributes one can trace to the synthetic nature of Japanese design itself.

To accompany the exhibition, Guy Nordenson, a structural engineer and professor at Princeton’s School of Architecture, organized a symposium that sought to delve more deeply into Japanese design from the vantage point of the structural engineers who have collaborated with these architects. (Nordenson himself has a significant engineering practice, and worked with SANAA on the New Museum in New York and Johnston Marklee on the Menil Drawing Institute in Houston.) The resultant publication, Structured Lineages: Learning from Japanese Structural Design, illuminates key figures of postwar Japanese structural engineering and the hybrid nature of their consulting on the major works in the MoMA show. Consulting is not the right word for the essential, creative contributions of these talented engineers. As Nordenson noted in his introduction, “In Japan the cultures of architecture and engineering are entirely intertwined.” Laurent Ney observed that the architect and engineer Saito Masao titled an exhibition that he organized at the Architectural Institute of Japan in Tokyo in 2008 Archi-neering Design, coining a term that neatly grafts the two disciplines. Aspiring Japanese architects and engineers study together at university in the first phase of their education and specialize only later on. Design and technical skill are given equal weight academically, which forges a hybrid of both disciplines from a unified way of thinking.

The Structured Lineages symposium highlighted various practitioners of this fusion of art and technology: In addition to Masao, Yoshikatsu Tsuboi, Mamoru Kawaguchi, Gengo Matsui, Toshihiko Kimura, and the most significant contemporary structural engineer, Mutsuro Sasaki (who has collaborated with architects like Kenzo Tange and Rem Koolhaas), were given their rightful prominence by experts such as Marc Mimram of l’Ecole d’Architecture de Marne-la-Vallée, Mike Schlaich of Technische Universität Berlin, Jane Wernick of Jane Wernick Associates, and William F. Baker of SOM. Three roundtable discussions, moderated by Sigrid Adriaenssens, John Ochsendorf, and Caitlin Mueller and transcribed in the book, explored the basis for this “intertwining” of disciplines. These revelations—of what would be considered in Japan to be open secrets—feel like the discovery of why there is such qualitative consistency in Japanese design and architecture.

Numerous structures are presented throughout the book. Little known architect/engineer Mamoru Kawaguchi’s Fuji Pavilion at Expo ’70 in Osaka, the book’s cover image, could easily be mistaken for an early Ant Farm proposal (or a late Zaha Hadid project), with its colorful inflated tubular skin and curvaceous geometry. Toyo Ito’s innovative Sendai Mediatheque, with its occupiable structural elements engineered by none other than Sasaki, makes an appearance. MoMA curator Sean Anderson details how, in 1954, a traditional Japanese house came to be the third constructed “House in the Museum Garden,” following designs by Marcel Breuer and Gregory Ain.

This newly published book of the symposium offers essential enlightenment into the thinking, philosophy, and technical explorations behind these canonical buildings. It adds insightful analysis of and commentary on the special circumstances that gave rise to these projects, even though these significant Japanese structural engineers may be unfamiliar to the average American architecture student (and quite possibly for the average American architect). The documentation of the technical contributions, coupled with the high regard in which these projects are held internationally, makes Structured Lineages a necessary companion text for those with a deeper curiosity about the basis for the uniqueness of the design and structural experiments that have come to define architecture in contemporary Japan.

Craig Konyk is an architect and the chair of the School of Public Architecture at the Michael Graves College at Kean University in New Jersey.

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Drumroll, Please

AN presents the Architectural League’s 2020 Emerging Voices winners

The Architectural League of New York’s annual Emerging Voices program once again delivers eight up-and-coming practices making an impact on building and discourse. This year’s jury was composed of Stella Betts, Mario Gooden, Mimi Hoang, Lisa Iwamoto, Dominic Leong, Paul Lewis, Matt Shaw, and Lisa Switkin. Approximately 50 firms were evaluated throughout the invited competition. As in past years, the winners were varied and represented practices from across North America, although many of the 2020 winners can be found on the East Coast. All of the winners will be honored next month and will participate in a lecture series at 130 Mercer Street in Manhattan:

Olalekan Jeyifous and PORT on March 5 at 7:00 p.m. Mork Ulnes Architects and Young Projects on March 12 at 7:00 p.m. Escobedo Soliz and Dake Wells Architecture on March 19 at 7:00 p.m. Blouin Orzes architectes and Peterson Rich Office on March 26 at 7:00 p.m.

Escobedo Soliz

Only four years after founding their firm, Pavel Escobedo and Andres Soliz have built a trusted brand in Mexico City’s saturated design market. Escobedo Soliz formed soon after the pair graduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico and together won the 2016 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program (YAP) summer installation competition.

Their YAP project, Weaving the Courtyard, brought acclaim in the U.S. but not at home, Soliz said. “That award is amazing for people in New York and holds a lot of prestige among those people, but here in Mexico, sadly, developers don’t care as much. What we took from that experience was a foundation of concepts and rules that we have used to build our practice, like the value of using simple or prefabricated materials and constructing by hand.”

After struggling to get commissions back in Mexico, the duo moved to Bolivia for a year to begin work on an ongoing design-build structure: a 17,200-square-foot funeral chapel made of artisanal brick on a shoestring budget. This project helped define the studio’s emerging focus on social service. When the pair returned to Mexico, their first major project was the José Maria Morelos Primary Rural School in Santa Isabel Cholula, part of the recovery from the deadly 2017 Puebla earthquake, which damaged over 200 public school buildings in the state. The design team conceptualized and built the school in just nine months.

“In Mexico, the country’s laws are very strict and the architect frequently has to be the builder,” said Soliz. “That’s why we go after custom projects in different contexts and with low budgets, whether it's for someone’s home or a special typology like the funerary chapel. We like to focus on the quality of materials and controlling the details. As young architects in Mexico, this keeps us competitive.” - Sydney Franklin

Young Projects

Bryan Young, principal and founder of Brooklyn-based Young Projects, aims for ambiguity. His buildings lend themselves to spatial and material misreadings that disrupt conventional hierarchies, inviting occupants to recalibrate their relationships with their surroundings.

“A tension exists between a normative reading and a misreading, but the misreading is just subtly off,” Young said. “It’s always something that is just a little bit off that draws you into the work.”

Young founded his firm in 2010 after working for Allied Works, Architecture Research Office (ARO), and Peter Pfau, all previous Emerging Voices winners that explore and exploit material properties. Since then, Young has designed polished residential projects that reinterpret familiar materials or layouts. Several walls of the Pulled Plaster Loft in Tribeca ripple with a custom pulled-plaster treatment that adapts techniques used to make traditional crown molding; the plan of the forthcoming 6 Square House in Bridgehampton, New York, is simultaneously a cluster of squares, a crossing of bars, and a fragment of an extendable pattern; and the Glitch House in the Dominican Republic is clad in encaustic cement tiles arranged to confuse light and shadow.

Smaller, in-house experiments (Young refers to them as “young projects”) incubate ideas and processes that could be applied to larger work, or just inspire new ways of creating. Currently sitting in his office is a tensile structure encrusted with salt crystals that might—or might not—point toward what Young Projects has in store. - Jack Balderrama Morley

Mork Ulnes

Dividing his time between Oslo, Norway, and San Francisco, Casper Mork-Ulnes has learned to synthesize design principles from the two regions as the basis for Mork Ulnes, the firm he founded in 2005. “Simply put,” he explained, his eight-person team is “influenced by Scandinavian practicality and California’s spirit of innovation.”

Residential design makes up the majority of the firm’s completed work, including the dramatic renovation of several Victorian-era homes throughout San Francisco. When updating antiquated interiors, Mork Ulnes “strives to make [homes] more efficient, more light-filled, and less compartmentalized,” according to the architect, “to perhaps hark back to a California way of living in which buildings were once more extroverted.”

When given the opportunity to design from the ground up, the firm favors locally sourced woods and distinctly minimal forms. For example, the exterior of Mylla Hytte, a 940-square-foot cabin set within a Norwegian forest, is clad in untreated heart-pine planks that will weather over time, in contrast to the plywood of its interior walls and built-in furniture. - Shane Reiner-Roth

PORT

The members of Chicago and Philadelphia–based firm PORT have made it their mission to elevate urban navigation from a chore to a pleasure. The firm believes that a city’s highways, byways, and interstitial spaces reflect a collective attitude toward equity, democracy, and civil rights, and that those values can be bolstered by creative design intervention.

Christopher Marcinkoski and Andrew Moddrell both trained as architects and formally established PORT in 2013 after setting their sights on the spaces in between buildings. They demonstrated their passion for the interstitial with their Lakeview Low-Line project, a collection of bright yellow urban furniture installed beneath the elevated train tracks of Chicago’s Brown Line. “Lakeview takes a site that no one pays attention to,” said Marcinkoski, “and demonstrates the possibility of transforming that space into something that is generous and welcoming.”

PORT has also taken to increasing public engagement at sites that have long been the center of civic attention, as in its OVAL+ series of temporary pavilions for Eakins Oval, the 8-acre park in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. - Shane Reiner-Roth

Peterson Rich Office

Sculptural gallery interiors, high-end retail, and housing and maintenance strategies for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)—three areas that might seem incongruous, but at the eight-year-old Peterson Rich Office (PRO), designing airy, light-filled spaces is part and parcel of considerate urban planning.

Founders Miriam Peterson and Nathan Rich trace their approach to experiences working at Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and Steven Holl Architects—two firms known for their bright institutional projects—as well as SHoP, which Rich says taught him to break down the profession’s “traditional barriers and open [himself] up to different types of work.” Because of often tight budget constraints, PRO’s projects focus on form, gesture, and filling spaces with natural light instead of expensive materials.

The studio is working with New York’s Regional Plan Association to come up with suggestions for how NYCHA can simultaneously make up its $31.8 billion maintenance deficit while capitalizing on the agency’s 68.5 million square feet of undeveloped floor area. This isn’t the firm’s first dance with NYCHA; in 2014, PRO’s 9x18 project provided a blueprint for turning the housing agency’s 20 million square feet of parking into infill housing, and those strategies made their way into Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing plan.

“We always start with a certain amount of research, and try to draw from that research a series of goals for the project,” Rich said. “We try to introduce what we call ‘five points’; these are values and goals built with the client, guiding principles, and those things emerge from context, institution, and need. It’s narrative, and we try to stay true to those things.” - Jonathan Hilburg

Dake Wells

“People are often surprised by how our projects end up looking like they do in these really rural areas,” said Andrew Wells, cofounder of Springfield- and Kansas City-based firm Dake Wells Architecture. “The common question we get is, How did you do that? For us, it boils down to solving peoples’ problems. There is an aesthetic component to that, yes, but it’s just a response.”

On numerous occasions, Wells and Brandon Dake, who together started the studio in 2004, have presented several design options to a client who ended up choosing the most challenging proposal on the table. Take Reeds Spring Middle School in rural southwestern Missouri. Set on 150 acres of undeveloped land beneath the Ozark Mountains, this 2017 project is tucked into a sloping ravine. “Finding the right spot to put the school was hard, so one of our ideas was to allow the building to negotiate the steep topography of the site,” said Wells, “but we didn’t think they'd go for it.” In the end, the semisubterranean design allowed Dake Wells to add a storm shelter to protect students, teachers, and staff during tornado season, one of the client’s biggest goals, and resulted in a striking exterior.

According to the design team, using few materials and a muted color palette also helps them concentrate on forming shapes that will stand out. Both Dake and Wells are from small towns in Missouri and feel most rooted in their work when they return to similar spots throughout the region on commission, often collaborating with low-income school districts with tight budgets. “We don’t subscribe to the notion that good design is for elite clients with money to spend,” Dake said. “We take on low-budget projects and push them as far as we can.” - Sydney Franklin

Blouin Orzes

Few have mastered the nuanced art of designing for the extreme climate of Canada’s Circumpolar North in the face of global warming. But Marc Blouin and Catherine Orzes of Montreal-based Blouin Orzes architectes have made that challenge the heart of their practice. Dedicated to what they describe as a “tireless journey” through the villages of Nunavik, the vast northern third of Quebec, Blouin and Orzes create buildings that empathetically address the pressing needs of Inuit communities.

For Blouin Orzes, the work doesn’t stop at the building itself—the architects also play an active role in public consultation processes, sourcing funding and filing grants on behalf of their clients. “It’s a constant search for a balance between tradition and modernity in the contemporary realities of northern communities,” the architects explained. “We have discovered the importance of patiently learning from a culture distinct from our own and have come to love the landscapes and respect nature’s harsh conditions.”

The Katittavik Cultural Centre in Kuujjuarapik, a village on the coast of Hudson Bay, is representative of the firm’s work providing much-needed social spaces for people in remote locations. Upward of 10,000 people use the center, located in one of Nunavit’s 14 communities north of the 55th parallel. The area’s harsh conditions create construction challenges, like high costs, a limited labor force, protracted schedules, and concerns about sustainability. Yet building here takes not only resources and time, but also considerable trust—which the designers work continually and respectfully to earn. - Leilah Stone

Olalekan Jeyifous

For Olalekan Jeyifous, the physical world doesn’t take precedence over the space of imagination. By embracing the tension between reality and invented narratives, his work produces a panoply of architectural inquiries in various media, including hyperreal photomontages, public sculpture, whimsical installations, and immersive VR experiences. Rather than prescribing function, his projects encourage their audiences to reconsider architecture’s relationship to the communities it affects.

Jeyifous describes his work as a result of the “process of connection as opposed to reaction, evoking a notion of ‘place’ rooted in immanence and possibility.” His built public work embraces multiplicity and interpretation, and engages each community’s historic and contemporary challenges, including histories of mobility and displacement, issues of equity in urban housing markets, and the importance of public spaces as sites of protest.

His unbuilt work is equally rooted in social justice. Born in Nigeria, Jeyifous has developed various projects that envision the future of the country’s sprawling megacity, Lagos, in a way that questions ideas of what progress looks like. In Shanty Mega-structures, he produced a series of renderings depicting the city’s informal settlements at the scale of large commercial developments, asking viewers to reconsider who visionary architecture should be for and what practices should inspire it. -  Leilah Stone

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Heart Squared

MODU and Eric Forman reveal the 2020 Times Square Valentine’s heart
An 800-lb multi-mirrored heart sculpture was unveiled yesterday as the 12th winner of the Times Square Valentine Heart Design Competition. Heart Squared was designed by architects Phu Hoang and Rachely Rotem of MODU and artist Eric Forman from Eric Forman Studios, both based in Brooklyn.  Designed to function like a kaleidoscope, multi-directional mirrors have been suspended in a thin metal space-frame to reflect the bright lights of Times Square from every angle. The 10-foot-tall sculpture prompts visitors to circle around until the frame and mirrors align to reveal a heart, creating the perfect backdrop for a New York Valentine’s Day selfie. “It is the public floor of the city, chaotic, crowded, noisy, it's a character we love about the city. In these public spaces, we feel the freedom to be ourselves amongst others who are different than us,” said Rotem at the sculpture's unveiling. “In our piece, we want to emphasize and amplify this amazing character of the city.” MODU was recognized with a Rome Prize for architecture in 2017, and in 2019 the firm was one of the Architectural League of New York's  Emerging Voices. They collaborated with Eric Forman, who founded his eponymous studio in 2003 and specializes in pieces that facilitate interaction between technology and design.  “We designed this as a balancing act between structure and air, buildings and sky, people and the city, movement, and slowness,” said Forman at the opening.  Times Square Arts partnered with the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum for this year's competition. Heart Squared was selected from a shortlist of five other New York-based firms, including Agency—Agency, Hou de Sousa, Isometric, Office III, and Other Means.  The jury selected Heart Squared because it was dynamic, animated, inclusive, and accessible, according to Andrea Lipps, associate curator of design at the Cooper Hewitt. The jury also included Sean Anderson from MoMA; Victor Calise, the commissioner from the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities; Kevin Davey from UAP, and last year’s winner, Suchi Reddy from Reddymade.  The competition was made possible from support by the Warhol Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, The Ripple Foundation, Silman, and New Project. The project’s 125 mirrors will be on display in Father Duffy Square between West 46th and 47th Streets throughout the month of February. 
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At the moment

A new contemporary art space in Arkansas will open in a former Kraft cheese factory
The Momentary, the downtown contemporary art satellite of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, will open on February 22 in a former Kraft cheese factory. The adaptive reuse design by Wheeler Kearns Architects maintains much of the original 63,000-square-foot brick masonry building Kraft occupied from 1947 until 2013 (from 1913 to 1947, Eagle Flour Mill controlled the site). Additional spaces for art exhibitions, performances, events, and dining have been added that use contemporary materials to contrast with the existing industrial architecture of the building. The Momentary follows in a long line of converting decommissioned industrial spaces into experimental art museum outposts, including MoMA PS1 in New York and MASS MoCA in Western Massachusetts.  “In addition to being a sustainable building method, adaptive reuse serves as a living history much like contemporary art itself,” said Lieven Bertels, director of the Momentary, in a press release. “The Momentary will be an intersection of art and everyday life; perhaps some of the original elements and industrial fixtures will inspire artists and the communities to think about their own evolution and this moment in time.” The inaugural exhibition, State of the Art 2020, will be free and open to the public from Feb 22 to May 24.  Gallery and performance spaces’ names allude to their former use such as a Fermentation Hall, Hydration Column, and Boiler Room. The biggest addition, the Tower, is a 70-foot-tall space that will host art and performances as well as a top-floor bar. The outdoor green space, designed by Howell & Vancuren Landscape Architects of Tulsa, Oklahoma, will feature a 50-foot-tall canopy made by the Japanese company Taiyo.  If it seems unlikely that a small town in Arkansas with a population of 50,000 would open two monumental art museums in less than ten years, it should be kept in mind that Bentonville is also the home of Walmart—the original Walton’s Five and Dime is preserved there as a museum, and the Walmart headquarters in Bentonville employs around 15,000. Walmart and The Walton Family, one the country’s richest, are the main financiers and founders of both the Crystal Bridges Museum and the Momentary, as well as many other projects around the town.
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End of An Era

Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture at Taliesin will close
After 88 years in operation, the School of Architecture at Taliesin (SoAT) will be closing its doors when the spring semester ends. The Governing Board of the organization said in a statement that it wasn’t able to align with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation on a plan to develop alternative educational programs over the next year and a half, and will be forced to transfer its remaining 30 students to the nearby Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University.  “This is a sad and somber day for our school, our students, and staff, and the architecture community,” said Dan Schweiker, chairperson of the board. “Our innovative school and its mission were integral to Frank Lloyd Wright’s vision for connecting architecture to our natural world. Wright’s legacy was not just building. It was a school to promulgate the lessons for all future generations...We did everything possible to fight for its survival but due to other forces it was not meant to be.” Established in 1932, Taliesin has been home to over 1,200 architects who lived and worked alongside Wright and his contemporaries, furthering the practice of “organic architecture.” Students immersed themselves in study while splitting their time between two iconic Wright-designed spaces at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Taliesin East in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Prior to making the decision to close, leadership at both the Foundation and the school had created proposals to allow the institution to continue operations on both campuses through the end of July next year, a period during which, according to the Foundation, they were going to come up with alternative programming that wouldn't need to be accredited. “The Foundation had reached an agreement with the leaders of the SoAT Board that would have allowed for second- and third-year students to complete their education at Taliesin and Taliesin West, and we are disappointed that it was not approved by the full SoAT Board,” said Stuart Graff, president and CEO of the Foundation. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation is based out of Scottsdale and is charged with preserving both Taliesin West and East and providing educational STEAM programming inspired by the principles of organic architecture. It is a separate entity from the SoAT, which had to be regularly accredited by several boards and commissions in order to be fully operational. According to a statement by the Foundation, the decision to close the esteemed institution was made because the school “did not have a sustainable business model that would allow it to maintain its operations as an accredited program.” Now that the school is closing, the Foundation said it will expand its educational programming for K-12 students and professionals while continuing to promote Wright's legacy and vision. “The Foundation wants to ensure that it has the ability to work with a variety of partners,” it said, “to develop professional education programs for architects, preservation specialists, and design professionals that will keep the Taliesin campuses vital places for the development of organic architecture in the future.”
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In Memoriam

Adolfo Natalini's final vanishing act
The passing of Adolfo Natalini on January 23, 2020, brings to a close an incredibly productive career as an artist, an architect, and an educator. Together with Cristiano Toraldo di Francia, the two co-founded Superstudio, a “radical” design collective that attracted a major international following by defying the fundamental principles of post-war modern architecture. Arriving on the scene in December of 1966, Superstudio, together with Archizoom, invented inside the Jolly 2 gallery in Pistoia, Tuscany, a bright, colorful collection of full-scale domestic architecture, designs, furniture, lamps, and radio sets. Over time, Natalini’s career veered towards a full-fledged professional practice, undertaking large scale building projects, including libraries, university campuses, museums, urban housing complexes, and a monumental cemetery. From the start, and well into the late stages of his practice, Adolfo Natalini continued to challenge the modern architecture canon—though his turn towards a vernacular regional style by the late ’80s baffled many fans of the early Superstudio. Given the major impact Natalini Architects had in countries like Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands, something also should be said about Natalini’s larger opus, but it helps to revisit Superstudio’s early groundbreaking projects first to see how things unfolded. Superstudio was built on its diverse interests. The members brought along with them many layers of expertise. Cristiano Toraldo di Francia was a professional photographer and keenly wired into cybernetic theory and passionate about nature; Gian Piero Frassinelli was a writer, studied anthropology, and was an expert in airbrush; Alessandro Poli (member from 1970 to 1972) shared his longstanding concern for social work and everyday society, and Roberto Magris was a gifted industrial designer. For his part, Natalini spent much of his time thinking about life, repeatedly interrogating the greater transcendent questions on the meaning of art, architecture, design, and their big and small roles in the shaping of society. Natalini wrote, “I became interested more in humanities (literature, philosophy, politics) than in science and technology; I owe more to painters and to poets than to architects.” Significantly, Natalini always had his black sketchbook in hand and was the one who drew out the ideas and composed the group’s many incredibly detailed storyboards. Storyboards for lamp fixtures, houses, for industrial objects, urban spaces, monuments, and city infrastructures. His drawings would also have lots of people, alone and in crowds, historic figures and street characters. It's been suggested Natalini thought through his sketches—and wrote like he was making geometrical patterns with his words. As Natalini noted in his autobiographical publication Four Sketchbooks (2015): “At times, I aligned words at night, on the typewriter, being more attentive to the kabbalistic geometry of the lines on the sheet of paper than to their meaning…  Natalini’s way of sketching-thinking-writing is evident in the first manifestation of Superarchitecture, the movement that launched Superstudio. The poster at the Jolly 2 gallery read: “the architecture of superproduction; superconsumption; superinduction to superconsumption; the supermarket, superman and super gas.” Supermarkets and super-grade gasoline became the iconographic lanterns of Natalini’s pop language. Natalini’s earlier career as a pop painter segued almost seamlessly into pop architect with this one exhibition. It was subsequently picked up by Ettore Sottsass Jr. and he delivered it, lock, stock and barrel to Sergio Cammilli, owner and driving force behind Poltronova, the fabled furniture and design manufacturer. Most of these early bold designs remain in production or have recently been revived. Superstudio continued to profane modernist architecture by putting out ever more stunning critiques, striking against the profession’s socially maladroit, poorly mass-produced, and increasingly environmentally destructive practices. The Continuous Monument (1969-1972), a sort of gigantic re-dimensioning of Superstudio’s earlier investigations into reductive furniture, like the Histograms (1969-70) began the barrage and continued into Twelve Ideal Cities (1971) that prognosed 12 different bleak futures for humankind. Their architecture culminated in Supersurface, presented in New York in 1972 for the MoMA exhibition Italy: the New Domestic Landscape, whose singular premise was to sweep aside architecture altogether replacing it with a universal communications network carpeted across the planet. Supersurface, in turn, provoked among the collective a rethinking of basically everything. Superstudio came to announce Five Fundamental Acts (1972-1973) introducing a “multiple” universe divided into primary categories: Life, Ceremony, Education, Love, and Death. With this last effort, Superstudio hit its tabula rasa, basically rendering themselves obsolete in the process. Superstudio would carry on through 1978, providing a deeply metaphysical reflection on the state of architecture through two projects: The Conscious of Zeno, and The Wife of Lot, commissioned by the curator Lara Vinca Masini for the Venice Bienniale held that same year. The Conscious of Zeno is tied to the painstaking anthropological studies conducted around the Tuscan countryside by students enrolled in Natalini’s university course Plastica Ornamentale, on the subject of ex-urban material culture. This work can be seen as both the progenitor and consequence of the Global Tools Radical school that tied together Radicals from Milan, Turin, Naples, and Florence. Conversely, The Wife of Lot dissolved a canonic architectural lineup of salt molds under a constant dribble of water. Arguably a second final ending. By this time, Natalini had begun working towards his independent architectural practice and his office grew over the next decade with a number of successful projects that made it to completion. In 1994 he began his collaboration with Corinne Schrauwen, a Dutch architect and office. If, in the ’80s projects like Bank of Alzata Brianza in Como, Italy, (with Gian Piero Frassinelli, 1983) suggested a banded modernist interpretation of an articulated but rational building block, a decade later in Holland his housing residences and village agglomerations would discard entirely rational forms, referencing instead much earlier stylistic sources and local city landmarks. In an interview I held with Natalini back in 2002, we discussed his early experiences in London, at Alvin Boyarsky’s International Institute of Design, and later at the AA. Natalini, commenting on Alvin Boyarsky, pointed out that he“[…]was a very open person, whose ideology was to have a great circus in which many different things could happen. He was a prophet of pluralism.” Natalini went on to add:
“In one of these summer sessions (1972) I organized a kind of Italian Festival, bringing in Paolo Deganello from Archizoom and Paolo de Rossi, part of the Strum group from Turin. Paolo Deganello and Paolo de Rossi were heavily involved in politics and they were explaining to the English students things that the students absolutely would not have understood, like the logic behind the extra-parliamentary movements Lotta Continua and Potere Operaio. One of the students who was very interested in this was Bernard Tschumi, and someone said, yes, he is the only Swiss communist around. The AA was a school I liked a lot and I made lots of friends there. I was friends with Rem Koolhaas, with Elia Zenghellis, and Leon Krier. And I also was a friend of Peter Cook.”
Natalini’s growing eclecticism belongs to this kind of pluralist worldview. Hans Ibelings, the Dutch architecture critic, considered Natalini’s architecture in the Netherlands back in 2004 for the Middelburg lecture, stating:
“Natalini does not seem to be searching for an archetypal simplicity but for simplicity as such. In this context the anthropological study Superstudio carried out in the 1970s at the University of Florence into simple implements, self-driven processes of change and extra-urban material cultures are relevant. These studies are an important link with the current architecture of Natalini. After he, along with the other members of Superstudio, had analyzed products and processes that lack a conscious act of designing, Natalini began to apply a comparable logic to his own work.”
History will be the judge, but Adolfo Natalini, with his work on the Uffizi Galleries and on the Museum of the Duomo has already secured his position among the canon of great Florentine architects. But that is not to say that Natalini hasn’t left us a couple of things still to ponder: Natalini, back in 2005, wrote: “My work aspires to a timeless normality. I would like to vanish into my buildings. I would wish that these buildings disappear into their city contexts and become a landscape where it’s possible to live peaceably.” I think Natalini has found his peace at last.
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In with the old, in with the new

This season of Art Omi: Architecture explores handiwork through hand drawings and glass blowing
Archaic methods and practices in the context of contemporary architecture are the common themes for two new exhibitions presented by Art Omi: Architecture, the nonprofit Hudson Valley, New York, arts foundation and exhibition space. The two shows, Single-Handedly: Contemporary Architects Draw by Hand and InConstruction: SO – IL, both opened on January 11.  Single-Handedly brings together a collection of hand drawings from a group of 44 contemporary architects, focusing on a practice that seems to have become all but obsolete in the architecture industry today. The exhibition showcases the work of architects from all over the world, including Fernanda Canales and Liesbeth van der Pol. Taking on a range of materials and subject matter, the exhibition suggests that an important place for handmade drawings continues to exist outside the regime of digital and computational technologies. Bending the rules and traditions of architectural representation, the collection shows handwork is as relevant as ever for practicing architects. Single-Handedly was co-curated by Warren James, director of Art Omi: Architecture, and Nalina Moses, author of Single-Handedly: Contemporary Architects Draw by Hand. The exhibition will be on view through March 1 in the Newmark Gallery. InConstruction: SO – IL highlights the construction of Site Verrier de Meisenthal, an art and cultural center set within an 18th-century glass factory designed by the New York-based architectural firm SO – IL. The MoMA PS1 Young Architects prize-winning firm designed an “intervention” of the historic space that would bring a “contemporary institutional identity in dialogue with an industrial heritage” Through models, drawings, and photographs, the exhibition explores Site Verrier de Meisenthal, located in a French village near the German border, as a contemporary art and community space that continues the area’s glasswork tradition. Once completed in 2021, the project will contain a glass museum, glass arts center, as well as a flexible exhibition and event space. With a poured concrete plaza that connects the disparate institutions, SO – IL will also bring renewed public involvement to the historic industrial space. InConstruction: SO - IL  is on-view through February 9th in the Kantor Lobby.
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Desert Drama

Desert X AlUla announces artist lineup
The fourteen artists participating in Saudi Arabia's controversial first Desert X AlUla, a “site-responsive exhibition,” have been announced. The lineup includes artists living and working in Saudi Arabia, including Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim and Rashed Al Shashai, as well as other artists based throughout the Middle East, Europe, and North America, including previous Desert X participants such as Superflex and Lita Albuquerque. The first international exhibition of the Coachella Valley biennial has been organized along with the Royal Commission of Al-Ula and co-curated by Desert X artistic director Neville Wakefield, along with curators Raneem Farsi and Aya Alireza. It will take place in the Al-Ula area in the northwest of Saudi Arabia, home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a region at the forefront of Saudi Arabia’s push to invite in more tourism. The large-scale installations are meant to “inspire new dialogue about the desert and reflect on themes that range from the passage of goods and ideas along the ancient incense route, the cultural memory that passage has left, and the natural resources that have shaped the region, both past and present,” according to a release from Desert X. Artists will create installations responding to the particulars of the geology, geography, history, and present of the region, with projects such as an “oasis” of date containers from Zahrah Al Ghamdi, a series of steel rings by Rayyane Tabet meant to engage with the oil pipelines in the region, and a sculpture by Nasser Al Salem that “embraces the idea of time as a continuum that connects all cultures and civilizations.” Desert X has also promised to increase public outreach programming through schools and universities. Desert X AlUla emphasizes the history of Al-Ula as a site of global connection and exchange, but it's become increasingly contentious to participate in programming in the repressive monarchy. Saudi Arabia has been accused of “sportswashing” for inviting major international boxing and golf events to the country, and pop stars like the group BTS have similarly come under fire for performing there. When asked about the pushback to the Al-Ula exhibition, artistic director Neville Wakefield told The Art Newspaper: “We live in binary times, when people are either isolationist or believe in the power of cultural dialogue. Art changes hearts and minds. Denying an entire population this opportunity is to be part of the problem not the solution.” However the choice to work with Saudi Arabia has caused issues even within Desert X. This past fall, the Los Angeles Times reported that three board members—the artist Ed Ruscha, the curator Yael Lipschutz, and the philanthropist Tristan Milanovich—resigned from the organization's board over the choice. Lipschutz told the L.A. Times that he thought the project in Saudia Arabia was “completely unethical,” noting that Desert X wasn’t just starting a “dialogue,” but receiving money from the Saudi royal family. Issues of philanthropic funding have been causing increasing friction in the world of art and architecture, whether it’s BP sponsoring the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Sackler family donating to museums like the Met and V&A, arms profiteers serving on the boards of the Whitney and MoMA The full list of artists is: Lita Albuquerque, Manal Al Dowayan, Zahrah Al Ghamdi, Nasser AlSalem, Rashed Al Shashai, Gisela Colon, Sherin Guirguis, Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim, Nadim Karam, eL Seed, Wael Shawky, Muhannad Shono, Superflex, and Rayyane Tabet. Desert X AlUla opens January 31st.
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WITHDRAWING FUNDS

Participating artists protest MoMA PS1's relationship with toxic philanthropy
Thirty-seven of the artists participating in the current MoMA PS1 group show Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991-2011 have collaborated on an open letter addressed to the museum calling for a reappraisal of its “dysfunctional and abusive relationship to toxic philanthropy.” The letter, in particular, asks for the museum to sever ties with two of its board members: Larry Fink, CEO of investment firm BlackRock, and Leon Black, owner of the military security group Constellis and equity firm Apollo Global Management. The two have profited from weapons manufacturing, private prisons, immigration detention centers, and other industries the artists find morally objectionable. The letter, signed by artists including Ali Eyal, the Guerrilla Girls, Mona Hatoum, Jon Kessler, and Martha Rosler, was sent to MoMA and MoMA PS1 directors Glenn Lowry and Kate Fowle, respectively, on January 9, and was copied to Ruba Katrib and Peter Eleey, the curators of the exhibition. It was partially written to address their support of fellow artist Phil Collins' withdrawal from the exhibition days before it opened to the public on November 3. “We, the undersigned participants in Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991-2011," the letter states, "echo this call and support Collins in the hope that his action will ‘contribute to the global momentum to protest inequity, occupation, labour extraction and disenfranchisement, and to see, together, better days.’” Though the letter expresses appreciation for the exhibition's efforts to draw public attention to the wars in Iraq, the artists “wish to make visible MoMA’s connection to funds generated from companies and corporations that directly profit from these wars.” The issue was additionally raised in November when artist Michael Rakowitz asked the museum to pause a video of his that was on display in the gallery space. Following their rejection of his request, Rakowitz came to the museum on January 11 to pause it himself and place a written statement on the wall alongside it. “I’ve decided to press the pause button on my video, RETURN, so that we can discuss some recent events,” reads the statement. It then puts a spotlight on the investments BlackRock has made towards the GEO Group and Core Civic, two prison corporations that have been, according to the artist, “responsible for approximately 70 [percent] of all immigration detentions and are part of a racist, carceral system which has made the US the largest jailer in the world.” It separately addressed Apollo Global's connection to the defense contractor responsible for the deaths of 17 people at Baghdad’s Nisour Square. If Fink and Black do not divest from these companies, the letter requests that MoMa PS1 remove the two as board trustees “so that I may unpause my video and press play.” (It should be noted, as Hyperallergic also reported, the museum took down Rakowitz's statement and started the video again.) The artists' stance against the museum's board of trustees mirrors a series of events that took place at the Whitney Museum of American Art last July. Eight artists featured in the 2019 Whitney Biennial withdrew their participation in a protest against Warren B. Kanders, a vice-chairman of the museum and owner of law enforcement and military supplies manufacturer Safariland. Kanders stepped down from his position later that month amid growing pressure from the artists and a number of activists that staged protests in the museum's ground floor lobby. MoMA PS1 has not yet provided a public statement regarding its stance towards the open letter.
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SoMaNy New Developments

HOK will bring a ship-like office complex to San Francisco
The tightly-packed SoMa (South of Market) neighborhood of San Francisco will soon have a new addition in the form of an arresting mixed-use tower that's likely to set a new cultural direction for the area. The ship-like, 14-story project developed by Boston Properties and designed by international architecture, engineering and urban planning firm HOK has recently been unanimously approved for construction by the San Francisco Planning Commission. Joel Koppel, Vice President of the Planning Commission, stated that “Boston Properties has, once again, outdone themselves in creating a unique development project that raises the bar in innovation and sustainability and provides direct benefit to the surrounding community.” When complete, the 185-foot-tall 725 Harrison Street will contain over 770,000 square feet of rentable office space, 36,000 square feet of retail space on its lower floors, and over 16,000 square feet of additional space for public use. As one of the tallest buildings in the area, the complex will also feature five roof decks with views across San Francisco. Bob Pester, executive vice president of the San Francisco Region for Boston Properties, expressed that the development "combines an ideal location, a city-leading sustainability program, and thoughtful design to create the best workspace to recruit and retain top talent.” The project signals the further gentrification of SoMa, as five older, garage-programmed buildings and a parking lot will have to be demolished to make way for the new development. With close proximity to some of the city's biggest cultural attractions, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the Children's Creativity Museum, the new building will likely have little trouble finding tenants for its retail and office spaces. Construction of the new development is expected to happen in two phases, the first of which will take place in late 2020 with an anticipated completion date in 2021. The second phase will include the construction of an adjacent, eight-story-tall building dedicated entirely to affordable housing with approximately 140 units.
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Stocking Stuffers

AN rounds up 2019's must-reads for the holiday season
With the end of the decade on the horizon, AN has once again rounded up the best new releases for holiday reading. This list has something for everyone on your list, whether they want to dive back into Michelangelo's renaissance work, learn the ins-and-outs of socialist architecture, or explore the world's contemporary architectural biennials. While it's too late for holiday shopping, that doesn't mean you can't pick up something for the New Year's break. Note: AN may receive a commission for items purchased through the following affiliate links.  Biennials/Triennials: Conversations on the Geography of Itinerant Display  Léa-Catherine Szacka Columbia Books on Architecture and the City  MSRP: $17.99 Recent decades have brought about an onslaught of -ennials (or -iennales), indicating both the growing importance in exhibition design for architects as well as increased capital and spectator entertainment value; architecture for show, but also a “taking the temperature” of the current climate. This little book colleccts conversations between the author and dozens of biennial and triennial curators, as they discuss the showpiece of our contemporary moment in context.  Structured Lineages: Learning from Japanese Structural Design  Edited by Guy Nordenson  MoMA MSRP: $39.57 This collection of 10 seminal essays outlines the contributions of Japanese post-war architect-engineer collaborations that led to some of the country’s most iconic buildings. Japanese domes, bubbles, and sweeping forms fascinated architects and designers worldwide and led to an unprecedented non-linear chapter in architectural history.  The essays, and their generous accompanying images and archival materials, show how the ideas and concepts of these collaborations were passed down seamlessly over several generations, and in some ways, how they still persists as a scientific feat in design imagination today.  Architecture in Global Socialism: Eastern Europe, West Africa, and the Middle East in the Cold War By Łukasz Stanek Princeton University Press   MSRP: $60.00 Political regimes have used architecture as a way of transmitting power, legacy, and permanence throughout all of history, and the socialist movements of the mid and late 20th century were no different. Throughout the Cold War years, architects and planners from socialist Eastern Europe worked closely with those in regions such as West Africa and the Middle East, resulting in a substantial reshaping of the great cities of Accra, Lagos and Abu Dhabi, among others.  This text-heavy book brings this story of cross-continent collaboration to life with previously unpublished images and original archival research, revisiting the connective powers, as well as lessons through longevity, of architecture.  A Moving Border: Alpine Cartographies of Climate Change By Marco Ferrari, Elisa Pasqual, and Andrea Bagnato Columbia Books on Architecture and the City  MSRP:  $25.52 A moving border is not a border at all—movement becomes negotiable, and the ebb and flow of human fabrication and implication are thrown out of balance. This is a phenomenon observed by ZKM researchers, who have dispatched equipment along the mountainous border between Italy and Austria, the ridge that forms the disparate water flows towards either Northern or Southern Europe. Their findings and cartographic visual language remind the reader that borders and the human political mind are in flux and impermanent, but that our actions towards melting glaciers and climate change are not: in fact, they’re reflected as hiccups in the very borders we try so hard to maintain. As glaciers melt, rivers flood, and borders shift, the environment is literally reshaping political boundaries. The Shenzhen Experiment: The Story  of China’s Instant City Juan Du Harvard University Press MSRP: $35.00 The “instant city” concept of Chinese mega-development is crystallized in the success of Shenzhen, a government-planned city that seemingly sprouted from the ground. Recognized for its role as an international technology center, economic powerhouse, and mega-city population of over 20 million, Shenzhen also a bit of a mystery, as the same model has been applied to dozens of other "insta-city projects," but none have approached Shenzhen’s overnight celebrity. This book explores the blurry history of the city, beginning with its farmers and oyster fishermen. Tracing policymakers, government regulation, and that the concept of explosive overnight growth is desirable the world over, is an important story for architects and planners everywhere facing the excitement as well as perils of rapid urbanization and industrialization.  Michelangelo, God’s Architect: The Story of His Final Years and Greatest Masterpiece By William E. Wallace  Princeton University Press  MSRP: $29.95 The last two decades of Michelangelo’s life were at first expected to be marked by failure and decline—the Renaissance artist even began to carve his own tomb. However, intervention via the Catholic Church landed Michelangelo with the master plan of St. Peter’s Basilica, a commission that would change his legacy, as well as the course of the Renaissance's architectural history. A fresh look at a portion of the artist’s life that often goes overlooked, the narrative aspects bring to light many myths and very human struggles that the venerated figure overcame. City on a Hill: Urban Idealism in America from the Puritans to the Present By Alex Krieger Harvard University Press MSRP: $35.00 A critically deep dive into the visions of utopia that have shaped American development, City on a Hill outlines the idealisms underlying various urban design movements, starting with the first wave of pilgrims looking for a new start. Krieger honors the grand ideas that have moved America and its cities forward over the centuries but also underwrites with a critical eye the lessons that can be learned as we move forward towards contemporary ideals of sustainability and smart cities today.