American artist Donald Judd may be known for his stainless steel and Plexiglas sculptures, but it's his furniture designs that shine at a new show titled Donald Judd: Specific Furniture, currently on view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) through November 4. His rigorous explorations of form in sculpture have carried over to his furniture designs, which compose a parallel practice that began in the 1960s.
The exhibition presents a mix of his work and his acquired pieces that served as major influences. He collected pieces by Alvar Aalto, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Gerrit Rietveld, Rudolph M. Schindler, and Gustav Stickley, who were among the modernist designers that inspired Judd to depart from the ornate and stylistic designs in fashion in the 1930s.
His collection of furniture includes tables, desks, chairs, and beds, featuring a minimalist design language present in his ornament-free paintings and sculptures. “The difference between art and architecture is fundamental,” Judd once wrote. “Furniture and architecture can only be approached as such. Art cannot be imposed upon them. If their nature is seriously considered the art will occur, even art close to art itself.”
According to a statement from SFMOMA, “his designs exemplify a singular vision of scale and proportion,” allowing for “a focus on details of form and the clear expression of materials.” His Open Side Chair 84 in wood was put alongside his Desk 10 in enameled aluminum in a photo of his architecture studio in Marfa, Texas, where he moved in 1971 and lived and worked until his death in 1994.
In another photo of his former studio, now the Judd Foundation in Marfa, the delicate Frame Table 70 by Judd was ingeniously coupled with the iconic MR Side Chair by Mies. Frame Table 70’s unique design is said to resonate with Aalto’s Table 70, which sports a similar second-tier shelf detail. All in all, this exhibition repositions Judd’s design work within the twentieth-century canon.
Check out this link for details and tickets.
Upon arriving at the Congolese artist Bodys Isek Kingelez’s City Dreams retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)—the first full retrospective for him or any other African artist at the museum—there is a feeling of ascension. Having climbed many floors to get here, one reaches a room where humans hover over the cities and look down, not up, into the buildings, windows and boulevards. The viewers look like gods around a creation, but Kingelez’s work decidedly belongs in the kingdom of this earth.
His “extreme maquettes,” as he referred to the ornate buildings and cities he constructed, are all units of a larger project that demonstrates the desire for a harmonious future among all peoples; beauty and grace as a reflection of this harmony; and a rejection of the violence commonplace in the immediate post-colonial era, a legacy of the country’s rule under the brutal Kingdom of Belgium. “I’m dreaming cities of peace,” he explained. “I’d like to help the earth above all.” In his Project Pour le Kinshasa du Troisième Millénaire, a re-envisioning of Kinshasa, “police and prisons do not exist.” It was, in essence, the cosmopolitan post-independence vision of the era. Kingelez’s, however, extended beyond dreams of self-rule, asserting a seat at the table for the African imagination of what was possible in the new, truly free world.
Bodys Isek Kingelez was born Jean Baptiste on August 27, 1948 in the town of Kimbembele Ihunga in what was then the Belgian Congo. At the age of 22, after receiving his high school diploma, he left for Kinshasa, the capital city. There, he studied economics and an assortment of other subjects like industrial design at the University of Lovanium (now Kinshasa).
“I came from a traditional village where everyday I used to watch the men making masks or working at the forge,” Kingelez explained of the mysterious origins of his craftsmanship. “There was no need to learn, then, what I used to see all the time.” Remarkably, he didn't travel outside Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) until 1989, and so had never interacted up close with architectural design in other countries. Undoubtedly, however, the colonial Belgian Art Deco buildings that lined the streets of Kinshasa and the eccentric palaces (including a pagoda) constructed around the country by ruler Mobutu Sese Seko indubitably seeped into his sense of aesthetics.
His first maquette, he recalls, came to him in a dream one night. Feeling “compelled” by the revelation, he made the work under its direction. Throughout his life, his process was similar. First the title came to him. Then the vision to make it, which “gives me all I need, even the shape and colors.”
On one such instance, in 1978, he showed the result of his work, Musee National, made from simple tools like paper, glue, scissors, and razors, to the Institut des Musées Nationaux du Zaire. The museum staffers doubted Kingelez could build a work of such sophistication and challenged him to make another work on site, leading to his Commissariat Atomique. The impressed museum hired him to become a “technicien restaurateur” of historical artifacts. The experience of working with invaluable abstract art traditional sculptures left a mark on Kingelez, who confessed “the ruined statues led me to the pinnacle of my skills”
Like these African masks of old, the maquettes aim not to depict reality but act as a record of a time and the ideas and the imagination that marked that time. In Kinshasa, Kingelez absorbed elements of the national movement for African authenticity. It is under the aegis of this movement that we see Leopoldville become Kinshasa, the Congo river and the nation, Zaire. As a former Commissioner of National Orientation put it, it was a movement based on reaching into the past to find traditional elements “which adapt themselves well to modern life, those which encourage progress, and those which create a way of life and thought which are essentially ours.” A self-described “favored poet of his traditional sources,” one can imagine very clearly the figure of Kingelez hidden away in his studio in Kinshasa, hovering over a project with tweezers in hand, moving the hitherto possible around and making way for the impossible.
But, like his previous work in the museums on African masks of old, Kingelez’s project was a restorative one. Having himself traveled from the village to the city and later the metropole, his work rejected hierarchies and the geographic isolation of the human experience. Instead, it collapsed the time between an African past and a future where no societies were more advanced than others.
His 1994 work Kimbembele Ihunga, a reimagining of his home village, represented a “concrete imaginative leap” and “a real bridge between world civilizations of the past, present and future.” Filled with skyscrapers and tree-lined streets, the boulevards provide “pleasant, easy access to all parts of the town.” A stadium named after himself, “Stade Kingelez,” sits in one corner of the town, and in front of the town center stands a monument of a man holding a book who “simply represents the intellectual heritage of common sense and good manners which belongs to multicultural people.” “People flock here,” he said, “because the wind blows in off the sea and the mountains, refreshing its complex beauty in which all the heightened colors join forces consistently to create an environment where everyone can feel at home.” The town and dream of it was not one he would ever live in, but one which lived in him.
Multiculturalism is paramount in Kingelez’s work, and we see it not only in the foreign design present in some of his Congolese maquettes, but also in the maquettes dedicated to places, like the outstanding purple and yellow Mongolique Sovietique (1989), in Palais d’Hirochima (1991) whose tiered, raised buildings are inspired by a real imperial palace with paper lanterns suspended between buildings, and Céntrale Palestinienne (1993). His New Manhattan, built a year after the attack on the World Trade Center, is a take on the Manhattan skyline with a third tower filled with water whose “cooling effect will prevent any bombs from exploding.”
In insisting on a world crafted for peace, Kingelez, who died three years ago, challenged our imagination to consider what this would require. His work, he insisted, was as much a “gauntlet thrown down to professional artists” as a prodding of our “ability to create a new world.” With salvaged materials like colored paper, scissors, and glue, the self-anointed “prophet of African art” constructed dream cities and a universe of peace, equality, and equity for all. Surely today, with better instruments, we can reflect on his vision and fulfill it down here on earth.
Bodys Isek Kingelez: City DreamsThe Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
On view through January 1, 2019
MoMA PS1’s 2018 Young Architects Program (YAP) installation is set to open for the summer on June 28, and TheArchitect’s Newspaper took a behind-the-scenes look at the winning entry from Minneapolis-based Dream The Combine.
Husband-and-wife partners Jennifer Newsom and Tom Carruthers of Dream The Combine, and Clayton Binkley of ARUP were on hand for a guided press preview of the steel-and-glass Hide & Seek, now installed in PS1’s courtyard.
This year’s YAP installation is highly technical and stark at first glance, but is still responsive at the human-scale and cuts a striking figure as the lighting conditions change overhead. Eight intersecting elements made of black steel–Carruthers co-owns a metal fabrication shop in Minneapolis–stretch across PS1’s open space, creating a layered experience for museum-goers.
Each end of the horizontal structures on the ground-level are capped with enormous suspended mirrors, which move both in response to the wind as well as visitor participation; the mirrored-panels have had handles welded to their back.
The bending, constantly shifting viewpoints and reflections of Hide & Seek are designed to introduce a measure of spontaneity and unpredictability to the concrete-walled courtyard. Mirrors mounted high above the ground break the visual constraints of the PS1 courtyard and provide glimpses of the surrounding neighborhood to passerbys and vice versa.
The installation’s central structure, a catwalk installed just past PS1’s entrance, turns into an infinitely-reflecting hallway as the mirrors at its ends move in the breeze. It also provides shade from the harsh summer sun via a stretched overhead canopy. As Newsom and Carruthers explained, the black fabric is intended to physically both block and filter the sun so that looking up invokes the feeling of viewing the night sky, as well as symbolically represent the poche of a drawn plan. A large-scale hammock nearby trades the plywood flooring of the catwalk for springy netting (though the installation doesn’t have a trampoline-level of bounce, AN’s editors spotted plenty of children trying to catch some air anyway).
“For the 19th year of the Young Architects Program, Dream The Combine’s provocative intervention Hide & Seek tests the effects of rapid development in Long Island City, Queens and, more broadly, the American city,” wrote Associate Curator of MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design Sean Anderson. “Conceived as a temporary site of exchange, the proposal activates the MoMA PS1 courtyard as a speculative frontier to be magnified, transgressed, and re-occupied.”
Hide & Seek will also act as a staging area for PS1’s Warm Up concert series, and the steel sculptures overhead will reportedly be bathed in mist and light at night in response to the music below.
Hide & Seek will be on display and open to the public from June 28 until September 3. An exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art's main building showcasing the schemes from all five finalists will run concurrently.
From now until September 3, the MoMA will be exhibiting Dream The Combine’s winning scheme for this year’s Young Architects Program (YAP), as well as the other four finalists’ work. Hide & Seek opens to the public at MoMA PS1 on June 28, but until then, the MoMA exhibition provides a sneak peek that should tide over visitors.
Hide & Seek
Design: Jennifer Newsom and Tom Carruthers of Dream The Combine in collaboration with Clayton Binkley of ARUP
Structural Engineering: Clayton Binkley and Kristen Strobel, ARUP
Project Team: Max Ouellette-Howitz, Nero He, Tom Vogel, Emmy Tong, and Erik Grinde, with support from UMN School of Architecture
Dream The Combine is the 19th YAP winner. The firm's scheme will create a series of dynamic pavilions across PS1’s courtyard and up the steps to the museum. Nine overlapping black steel catwalks will stretch across the open area, including inaccessible platforms hovering overhead. Three of the paths will hold giant, moveable mirrors that can “turn an individual into a crowd” or unify separate elements of the installation. Fabric sails will be floated overhead at certain points and fitted with misters to create an ethereal and spacey feeling at night. Hide & Seek is, according to Jennifer Newsom, an attempt to create an ever-changing experience in PS1’s courtyard by building new visual connections throughout the space and beyond.
Design: LECAVALIER R+D, Jesse LeCavalier
Project team: Ayesha Ghosh, Jesse McCormick, Zachary White
Structural engineering support: LED - Laufs Engineering Design, New York City & Berlin
What exactly is “logistics”? How can we better connect and explore the invisible machinery that drives modern global commerce? For Shelf Life, LECAVALIER R+D re-appropriates the stacking and racking machinery usually found in factories and turns it into an immersive exhibition structure. In their proposal, furniture is built straight into the massive frame, and the entire pavilion would be disassembled and integrated back into the global logistics stream at the end of summer.
Out of the Picture
Project Team: FreelandBuck, Alex Kim, Taka Tachibe, Belinda Lee, Braden Young, Adin Rimland, Michael Raymundo, Adrian Lanetti, Evan Preuss, Jose Avila
Structural Engineering by Matthew Melnyk of Nous Engineering
Out of the Picture sought, much like Hide and Seek, to “bring the outside in” to PS1’s courtyard. Enormous fabric banners are stretched across the central plaza and decorated with distorted images of the surrounding buildings. The result is a reinterpretation of the neighborhood from a new perspective, transformed but still readable.
Structural Consultants: Walter P Moore, Kais Al-Rawi, Quinton Champer
Project Team: Chaoqun Chen, Jose Garcia, Andrew Lang, Spencer McNeil, Ruta Misiunas
Lines and vectors are often abstract concepts on a screen in architecture, but BairBalliet sought to translate the often-striking lines in diagrams into tangible structures. During the day, Loud Lines is solid black and imposing, but at night, the structure pulses with neon light from within. The rods emit a cooling mist to further blur the lines between the real and the immaterial.
Design: OFICINAA: Silvia Benedito and Alexander Häusler. Cambridge, MA, and Ingolstadt, Germany
The Beastie proposed a technologically forward-thinking assemblage in PS1’s courtyard; an interactive structure that would have turned solar energy into ice. Inside the multi-walled chambers of The Beastie, visitors would explore a range of different temperatures, ranging from pleasant to freezing. More than a cool-down station, The Beastie was intended to raise awareness of climate change by exposing guests to “climatic confusion”.
All of the YAP finalists were required to design an outdoor shelter that included shade, water, and seating. After the proposals are finished showing at the MoMA, the installation will travel to MAXXI (Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo) in Rome, and CONSTRUCTO in Santiago.
Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980 is the first major exhibition in the United States to display the compelling portfolio of architecture from the former Yugoslavia. The exhibition will be on view at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) from July 15, 2018–January 13, 2019, and will include more than 400 visual documents from Yugoslavia’s prominent architects during the 45 years of the country’s existence.
The architecture ranges from both soaring International Style skyscrapers and Brutalist structures of concrete geometric forms, representing the postwar style Yugoslavia’s architects developed in response to conflicting influences from both “the capitalist East and the socialist West,” according to a statement from the MoMA.
Yugoslavia avoided the Cold War, instead became a leading figure in the Non-Aligned Movement in 1961. At the same time, the government built extensively in the hopes of modernizing and stimulating the economy to improve the lives of their citizens. The state also expanded its political influence in other Non-Aligned countries in Africa and the Middle East by building in and urbanizing those countries. Many memorials and monuments can be seen in the exhibition, showcasing Yugoslavia’s socialist ambition.
Important architects such as Bogdan Bogdanović, Juraj Neidhardt, Svetlana Kana Radević, Edvard Ravnikar, Vjenceslav Richter, and Milica Šterić are featured in the exhibition.
Check out this link for further details.
On May 26, MoMA is opening Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams, the first retrospective of the late Congolese sculptor and artist’s three-decade career. Born in 1948 in what was then the Belgian Congo, Kingelez was known for creating what he termed “extreme maquettes.” The exhibition will feature over 30 of these maquettes, built of colorfully detailed everyday objects, ranging in size from individual buildings to miniaturized utopian cityscapes, some measuring over 70 square feet.Kingelez’s work is described as attuned to world events, versed in contemporaneous architectural trends, and knowledgeable of foreign vernacular forms. For example Kinasha la Belle (1991) incorporates a distinctively Dutch gabled house wedged into a pastel-coloured circular residential complex, sporting cardboard pendants and a markered frieze.Towards the end of his career, Kingelez’s work grew more adventurous in terms of scale and material composition. MoMA points to Nippon Tower (2005) as a particularly idiosyncratic architectural model by the artist, built of “a plastic Smint box, packaging from a milk carton, BIC razor blades, light bulb boxes, and a playfully shaped spoon.”The cityscapes created by Kingelez are diverse in their architectural forms and scales. Crafted of plastic, paper, and paperboard, Ville de Sete 3009 (2009)is a futuristic city populated by shard-like, sheer, and terraced skyscrapers, which are connected by an illuminated network of Haussmannian boulevards.Ville Fantome (1996), Kingelez’s largest cityscape on display, will also feature a virtual reality component developed by Third Pillar. Through VR, visitors will be able to traverse through the utopian city which Kingelez described as “a city that breathes nothing but joy” and “a peaceful city where everyone is free.”City Dreams is curated by MoMA’s Sarah Suzuki and Hilary Reder, and closes on January 1, 2019.
Minneapolis, Minnesota—based Jennifer Newsom and Tom Carruthers of Dream the Combine have won the 19th annual Young Architects Program (YAP), sponsored by The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and MoMA PS1, with their project entitled Hide & Seek. The responsive and kinetic installation is developed in collaboration with Clayton Binkley of ARUP and will be on view in the MoMA courtyard starting in June 2018.
Hide & Seek promises to bring several dynamic, performance-based pavilions to PS1’s courtyard spaces in order to create a “multiplicity of viewpoints where everyone’s experience is valid,” Newsom explained over telephone. The installation is made up of nine discrete compositional elements that run throughout the courtyards, including three platform areas containing opposing, movable mirrored walls. These mirrored spaces will attempt to unify the adjoining courtyard areas while integrating a performance stage, a concessions stand, and a cool-down spot into the installation. A small ancillary courtyard will contain an oversized catamaran fabric hammock. Portions of the remaining installation will be shaded by overhead fabric sails outfitted with misters calibrated to give the space an ethereal atmosphere after dark.
Each of the three main steel-framed structures will contain two inward-facing, gimbaled mirrors that can be manipulated by party goers to reflect each weekend’s unique “catharsis of movement,” according to Newsom. The infinitely-reflective mirrors create an “illusion of space [that] expands beyond the physical boundaries [of PS1] and bends into new forms, creating visual connections within the courtyard and onto the streets outside,” a press release states.
Regarding the proposal for Hide & Seek, Sean Anderson, associate curator in MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design, said, “Conceived as a temporary site of exchange, the proposal activates the MoMA PS1 courtyard as a speculative frontier to be magnified, transgressed, and re-occupied.”
For the proposal, the designers were inspired partially by the dramatic change in use seen within the courtyard between the raucous weekend parties and more reserved weekday uses of the space. In reference to the opposing nature of the courtyard’s activities throughout the week, Carruthers said, “We are trying to create an installation that’s not just an object, but that is able to be responsive at different times of use.”
Dream the Combine beat out LeCavalier R+D, FreelandBuck, OFICINAA, and BairBalliet for the YAP commission. An exhibition highlighting the five finalists' proposed projects will be on view at MoMA over the summer.
The beginnings of digital drafting and computational design will be on display at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) starting November 13th, as the museum presents Thinking Machines: Art and Design in the Computer Age, 1959–1989. Spanning 30 years of works by artists, photographers, and architects, Thinking Machines captures the postwar period of reconciliation between traditional techniques and the advent of the computer age.
Organized by Sean Anderson, associate curator in the museum's Department of Architecture and Design, and Giampaolo Bianconi, a curatorial assistant in the Department of Media and Performance Art, the exhibition examines how computer-aided design became permanently entangled with art, industrial design, and space planning.
Drawings, sketches, and models from Cedric Price’s 1978-80 Generator Project, the never-built “first intelligent building project” will also be shown. The response to a prompt put out by the Gilman Paper Corporation for its White Oak, Florida, site to house theater and dance performances alongside travelling artists, Price’s Generator proposal sought to stimulate innovation by constantly shifting arrangements.
Ceding control of the floor plan to a master computer program and crane system, a series of 13-by-13-foot rooms would have been continuously rearranged according to the users’ needs. Only constrained by a general set of Price’s design guidelines, Generator’s program would even have been capable of rearranging rooms on its own if it felt the layout hadn’t been changed frequently enough. Raising important questions about the interaction between a space and its occupants, Generator House laid the groundwork for computational architecture and smart building systems.
Exploring the rise of rise of the plotter and production of computer-generated images, Thinking Machines provides a valuable look into the transition between hand drawn imagery and today’s modern suite of design tools. The sinuous works of Zaha Hadid and other architects who rely on computational design to make their projects a reality all owe a debt to the artists on display at Thinking Machines.
Thinking Machines: Art and Design in the Computer Age, 1959–1989 will be running from November 13th to April 8th, 2018. MoMA members can preview the show from November 10th through the 12th.
The finalists for the 2018 Young Architects Program (YAP) have been announced by the Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1. Each year, 30 young practices are nominated by deans of architecture schools and editors of architecture publications for a chance to compete to build a temporary outdoor installation in the courtyard of MoMA PS1. After a portfolio review, the initial group of 30 is culled down to five firms, who are asked to submit initial proposals for the project.
This year’s finalists are LeCavalier R+D, FreelandBuck, OFICINAA, BairBalliet, and Jennifer Newsom & Tom Carruthers. The 2017 winner of YAP was Jenny E. Sabin with her project Lumen, which employed a web-like woven canopy made of photo-luminescent and solar-active yarns that collected and emitted light. Learn more about each of the 2018 finalists below.
BairBallietBairBalliet is a collaborative effort between Chicago-based Kelly Bair and Los Angeles-based Kristy Balliet. BairBalliet’s work was presented as part of the US Pavilion for the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennial. Along with co-founding BairBalliet, Kelly Bair is the principal of Central Standard Office of Design and is an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Architecture. Kristy Balliet, principal of Balliet Studio, is currently faculty at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) and an associate professor at The Ohio State University’s Knowlton School of Architecture. Through both speculative and built work, the team explores precedent and form in two and three dimensions.
The bi-coastal FreelandBuck is led by David Freeland and Brennan Buck. Freeland is currently a faculty member at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), and Buck is a faculty member at the Yale School of Architecture. FreelandBuck’s work ranges from residential and commercial through urban and institutional projects, with an emphasis on complex digitally-fabricated geometries.
Jennifer Newsom & Tom Carruthers
Jennifer Newsom and Tom Carruthers make up the Minneapolis-based art and architecture practice DREAM THE COMBINE. As installation artists and licensed architects, the team has produced numerous site-specific installations in the United States and Canada. Each project explores concepts of reality, perception, material, and often social and cultural constructs, such as race and metaphor.
New Jersey-based LeCavalier R+D is led by Jesse LeCavalier. Currently an assistant professor of architecture at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, LeCavalier is the former Sanders Fellow at the University of Michigan, a Poiesis Fellow at the Institute for Public Knowledge at NYU, and a researcher at the Singapore-ETH Future Cities Laboratory. With a focus on contemporary spaces of logistics, LeCavalier is the author of The Rule of Logistics: Walmart and the Architecture of Fulfillment.
Ingolstadt, Germany-based OFICINAA is a collaboration between Silvia Benedito and Alexander Häusler. With a wide range of work in different mediums and scales, OFICINAA draws on its principal’s diverse backgrounds to produce work that covers multiple facets of design. Benedito’s work often focuses on atmospheres and microclimate landscapes, while Häusler’s background is in sculpture and installation work. Together, they have produced everything from urban planning projects and architecture projects to installations and videos.
The judging panel this year included: Glenn D. Lowry, Director of The Museum of Modern Art; Klaus Biesenbach, Director of MoMA PS1; Peter Reed, Senior Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs; Martino Stierli, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design; Barry Bergdoll, Curator of Architecture and Design; Sean Anderson, Associate Curator of Architecture and Design; Jeannette Plaut and Marcelo Sarovic, Directors, CONSTRUCTO, from Santiago, Chile; and Pippo Ciorra, Senior Curator, MAXXI Architettura, of Rome, Italy.
The winner will be announced in early 2018.
At MoMA PS1 this year, Jenny Sabin's Lumen gave many a reason to look up through the SolarActive and photo-luminescent thread knitted funnels. Look down, however, and you would have spotted an array of equally exquisite "spool stools" that complimented the installation.
The last Warm Up—the last chance to see Lumen—is this weekend. The stools, however, are available to purchase through Jenny Sabin Studio's website. There you can own one (or more) of the 100 stools that were used during the installation's three-month run.
Though three variations of the seat were produced, all were made in a similar fashion. To make the "spool stool," recycled plywood spools, carved into serrated pinwheels were placed at either end while a robot—named Sulla—spun woven micro-cord thread in a hyperbolic fashion around their perimeter. Each stool is also topped and bottomed by CNC cut caps, which, to Jenny Sabin Studio's own admission, may be a tad word from usage, but are in general in great condition.
Three stool sizes are on sale. The smallest, priced at $150, is able to double-up as a side table, while the medium and large–sized stools, $200 and $250 respectively, can seat up to three people and be used as table as well.
The stools are available to purchase at jennysabin.com but there's no delivery—they must be picked up from MoMA PS1.
On show now at the Center for Architecture (CFA) in New York is an exhibition on the late architect Gregory Ain. Titled This Future Hasa Past, the show looks at Ain's life while focusing on his Exhibition House for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Garden, a project that mysteriously disappeared.
Guiding audiences through Ain's personal life, This Future Hasa Past attempts to shed light on the house's curious history. Ain practiced mostly around Los Angeles and his style comes under the umbrella of midcentury modernism. He even taught the likes of Frank Gehry. However, as Phillip Denny points out in his New York Times article, not much else is known about the architect, especially by those outside L.A.
Unless you are the F.B.I., that is. Ain, who died in 1988 at the age of 80, was a Leftist and his political stance meant he was under scrutiny during the Red Scare. This happened after a housing complex (which never came to fruition) appeared on the F.B.I.'s radar; it was rumored the scheme was connected to the Communist Party. In 1950, Philip Johnson, who the F.B.I. was also monitoring due to his supposed connections to the Nazi Party, commissioned Ain to design a house for the MoMA to stand as an exhibit in its garden.
The house was the second of its kind. Marcel Breuer, also commissioned by Johnson, had controversially supplied the previous MoMA Garden house in 1949. Mysteriously, however, Ain's house appears to have gone missing, with little clues as to its whereabouts. Breuer's house and the house that came after it, the Japanese House by Junzo Yoshimura, meanwhile, still survive having been relocated elsewhere.
Christiane Robbins, founding principal at Metropolitan Architectural Practice (MAP) and professor of architecture at California College of the Arts, created the CFA exhibition with Katherine Lambert, who is principal and director of special projects at MAP. The pair's interest was piqued when the photographer Julius Schulman mentioned Ain's mysterious past. “He said there was a story there that wasn’t getting told,” Lambert told the New York Times. “But he wouldn’t tell us what it was.”
The exhibition at the CFA includes a model of Ain's MoMA house. The model had turned up at architect Theodore "The Dean of Models" Conrad's house in New Jersey. In addition to this, F.B.I. files procured by Robbins after a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request are also on display. The files disclose oddly specific details on Ain, such as his weight and also his alias, Fred Grant.
Despite the unearthed files, Ain's house is yet to be found. “To put all of that money into the exhibition house only to demolish it doesn’t make sense,” said Robbins.
This Future Hasa Past is presented in cooperation with Anyspace. The exhibition was initially intended for the 15th International Venice Biennale of Architecture but is on show at the CFA until September 12, 2017. A special talk, "Who was Gregory Ain?" is planned for September 7. More details on that can be found here.
This year marks a new direction for the MoMA/PS1 Young Architects Program (YAP), and it shows in Jenny Sabin Studio’s Lumen, the series’ 18th annual installation. After a few years focused on creating awareness of ecological and sustainability issues, the program has taken a slightly different course, as the brief has expanded to include a more rigorous engagement with the popular Warm Up summer music series, now in its 20th season of sweaty, raucous parties in the museum’s courtyard.
Set to open on June 29, the project features a woven canopy that will subtly change color in the daytime, and will glow in the dark and be illuminated at night. The large fabric shade system will address several of the programmatic issues of YAP that have fallen by the wayside in years past, including an integrated lighting system to accompany the musical acts, a misting system to cool visitors, and over 100 seats scattered across the courtyard. These features follow the ethos of YAP much more closely, which, according to its mission statement, is to provide “shade, seating, and water,” in addition to meeting its sustainability goals. To address these newly reinvigorated concerns, the designer set out to create an immersive environment, not an object.
For Sabin, cells provide an ecological model for architecture, because cellular networks respond to their environments by morphing their structures, volumes, and surfaces to produce form through geometry and material. Alongside her experimental design practice, she is an assistant professor at Cornell University where she leads the hybrid research and design network LabStudio with Peter Lloyd Jones. The collaborative—based at Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, and in Los Angeles—includes extra-disciplinary actors like material scientists, cell biologists, matrix biologists, and physicists. In working with these professionals, she has developed a specialty in applied research and architecture that results from what she calls “active datascapes,” such as those found in biology, mathematics, or cellular biology.
Research into biological processes has led Sabin—alongside collaborators such as the textile designers at Nike Flyknit Collective—to develop new tools and methods for prototyping and making, especially in the realm of fabric architecture. While these might seem like disparate areas of interest, knitting’s performance and flexibility allow concepts taken from cellular research to come alive through digital models and simulations that can respond to particularities in physical contexts. This is the framework from which Lumen arises.
“In the context of emerging technologies and digital and robotic fabrication, one of the biggest shifts in the profession right now is that architects are being repositioned as makers,” Sabin said. “Historians such as Mario Carpo say that this hasn’t been the case since Medieval times."
She also cites weaving workshops at the Bauhaus and their early proto-parametric attempts to link computation, geometry, and materiality as precursors to her work. At the Bauhaus, it was women’s labor that made innovative strides in textile manufacturing. Similarly, for Lumen, this new type of making—and new workers—digital tools and robots—have made it possible to produce much larger and intricate output. Labor is always an issue at ambitious experimental installations like MoMA/PS1 due to budget constraints and anything that can increase the effectiveness of the end result without increasing the need for volunteers is much welcomed. Lumen is tied with SO-IL’s 2010 Pole Dance for largest ever YAP structure in square footage covered—and thus shaded from the intense sun— in the courtyard.
“I was confident about the amount of research and development that went in to this,” Sabin told AN, “So I felt comfortable pushing it to this scale.” Lumen produces effects through new materials and construction methods, most notable the use of two different high-tech responsive fibers. Elements knitted with SolarActive thread—one that changes when exposed to UV—will bring the white structure to life in different subtle hues of blue, orange, purple, and green. At sunset, these will be slowly joined by other cells that are made from photoluminescent (glow-in-the-dark) threads. Neither effect is overwhelming, but they are augmented by a light show that is integrated into the structure and will be programmed to change throughout the evening.
To create the structure, roughly 250 standardized fabric cells using one million yards of thread were produced on digital knitting machines at Shima Seiki, a garment manufacturer that specializes in seam-free knitting technology. These cells—in three sizes—had the same circumference until they were fitted into the canopy, where they stretched to conform to the structural stress diagrams derived from shade and heat analyses of the courtyard. The knitted cells were then sewn together with a secondary structural webbing, which was mapped on a 1:1 scale plan drawing of the entire canopy. For structural support, three steel tensegrity towers provide support in the middle of the structure. The mast is in compression, but the load is carried by a post-tensioned rope system that was fabricated by a custom fish-net maker. Visitors can hang out on the platforms under the ropes, and beer tickets will be sold from inside the tower in the smaller side courtyard.
Warm Up–goers will also be able to find a set on one of 100 “spool stools,” which were produced by cutting old plywood spools into saw blade–like pinwheels, onto which a robot spun photoluminescent thread around the perimeter. Sitting will be an option again this year, and as users pass through Lumen, sensors in hanging cones (sometimes called stalactites) that will respond to their motion and emit clouds of mist that will cool people down as well as the change the microclimate of the courtyard. These organism-like features will allow the architecture to help to create multiple experiences and engagements that celebrates human interaction and change, as it will be different during daytime, sunset, and at night.
This renewed focus on the programmatic opportunities of Warm Up will be fun, but the project also points to the continued evolution of advanced fabrication, as it starts to scales up, moves outside the gallery setting, and subsequently becomes more mainstream. As the generation of architects who pioneered these digital techniques over the last couple decades start to get really good at executing them at larger scales, we will see more of these projects living longer and in more influential settings.
Additionally, the shift in the Young Architects Program from primarily ecological and sustainability issues to immersive qualities and experience is a welcome one. The courtyard provides a special context and programmatic challenge for elite architects to design for a world-class outdoor music event. Whether the discipline writ large will follow the same trend toward this type of engaging work is unclear, but due to its scale and immersive environment, Lumen serves as good starting point for understanding how physically present structures and environments can be leveraged to connect the public to architecture outside of the discipline or the gallery.
A project by Jenny Sabin Studio Jenny E. Sabin, Principal and Lead Architectural Designer R&D + Digital Fabrication Sabin Design Lab, Cornell University
Design Team Jenny E. Sabin, principal and lead architectural designer
Dillon Pranger, project lead and manager Jordan Berta (content coordination), Diego Garcia Blanco, Elie Boutros, Daniel Villegas Cruz, Omar Dairi, Alejandro Garcia, Andres Gutierrez, Jingyang Liu Leo (senior research associate), Mark Lien, Jasmine Liu, Andrew Moorman, Christopher Morse, Bennett Norman, Marwan Omar, Sasson Rafailov, Steve Ren, David Rosenwasser, Danny Salamoun (production lead), Aishwarya Sreenivas, Raksarat Vorasucha
Video Cole Skaggs
Photography Yuriy Chernets
Engineering design Clayton Binkley & Kristen Strobel, Arup
Fabricators and installers Tom Carruthers, Bo Jacobsson, Erik Grinde, Mateo Baca, Jacobsson Carruthers, LLC
Knit fabrication Tom Shintaku, Shima Seiki WHOLEGARMENT
Lighting design Juan Pablo Lira and Hilary Manners, Focus Lighting
Sewing and finishing Wade Wesson & Christine Garcia, Dazian
Misting systems Sabin Design Lab & Mist Cooling Inc.
The other finalists for this year’s MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program were Bureau Spectacular (Jimenez Lai and Joanna Grant), Ania Jaworska, Office of III (Sean Canty, Ryan Golenberg, and Stephanie Lin), and SCHAUM/SHIEH (Rosalyne Shieh and Troy Schaum). An exhibition of the five finalists' proposed projects will be on view at The Museum of Modern Art over the summer, organized by Sean Anderson, associate curator, with Arièle Dionne-Krosnick, curatorial assistant, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art