Charles Jencks, the architectural historian, cosmic gardener, and cofounder and director of Maggie's, has died, according to the RIBA Journal. Jencks was best known as the promoter of Post-modernism (he specifically demanded an uppercase “P” and dash after “Post”), having authored the seminal The Language of Post-Modern Architecture. He was also the author of Meaning in Architecture (1969) with George Baird and continued to publish books on the subject of Post-modernism, including Radical Post-modernism, an issue of Architectural Design with FAT. Born in Baltimore in 1939, Jencks attended Harvard, studying English literature in undergraduate, and then architecture at GSD. He later moved to the U.K. and completed a Ph.D. under Reynar Banham. Jencks would stay in the U.K. for the rest of his life, owning homes in both Scotland and England. He founded the Charles Jencks Award, which recognizes “major international contributions to the theory and practice of architecture.” Jencks turned to landscape design later in life, building the Garden of Cosmic Speculation, and a series of earthworks at Jupiter Artland. After his wife Maggie died in 1995 from cancer, he founded Maggie’s, a cancer research institute whose Maggies Centres have become a notable architecture program, featuring works by Steven Holl, Frank Gehry, and Zaha Hadid. AN will follow this announcement with a longer obituary.
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Bestor in Show
Barbara Bestor’s SCI-Arc commencement speech evokes L.A.'s unique architecture history
Despite its youth, the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) has educated a surprising number of figures that have come to define the field. One such figure is local architect Barbara Bestor, who graduated from the school with a master’s degree in 1992 and has since designed several prestigious projects in and around Los Angeles, including the Silverlake Conservatory for Music, and the Beats by Dre campus in Culver City, and also oversaw the renovation of the Silvertop Residence, a hillside home first built in 1956 by local legend John Lautner. As the commencement speaker for SCI-Arc’s 2019 graduation ceremony, Bestor elaborated on the storied history of the city and how it directly influenced her career. “I think that, like the city of Los Angeles,” began Bestor, “our culture of freedom as architects is a uniquely West Coast culture that's actually in touch with our past history.” She then went on to recount how the unique qualities of the city that inspired experimentation among luminaries including Frank Lloyd Wright, Ray Kappe, Deborah Sussman, and Rudolph Schindler, who had a “habit of driving around to job sites with a load of two-by-fours in his station wagon so that he could improvise new ideas in real-time.” Bestor then reminded the audience that the freedom afforded by the relative lack of history Los Angeles can be liberating but also daunting. “It demands that we grapple with big existential questions like ‘what am I doing here,’ ‘what's my artistic voice,’ and ‘will my voice ever be part of the larger architectural conversation around the world?’” Bestor’s way of first navigating the city’s creative landscape was to work on houses, coffee shops, clothing stores, kitchen renovations, and several other small projects. “Even the most pragmatic and mundane programs,” she explained, “contain some freedom for the architect to create extra value, ideas about gender politics, fun experiments, and so on.” Bestor ended her speech by advising her listeners, “whether you’re staying here in L.A., or going off to Mexico City, or Beijing, or Seoul,” to “take that sense of freedom with you… You are all now West Coast Architects... part of this great, living tradition of experimentation and innovation.” It seemed fitting that, following her speech, an honorary M.Arch degree was presented to Frank Gehry, an architect who has called Los Angeles his home since 1947 and found a career by tapping into the experimental spirit of the city recounted by Bestor.
New Kids on the Block
Deborah Berke and Barry Bergdoll join the Pritzker jury
Two new members have been selected to sit on the jury of The Pritzker Architecture Prize. Barry Bergdoll and Deborah Berke have joined the Pritzker Prize Jury as it prepares for the 42nd announcement of the annual award in 2020. Barry Bergdoll is currently a Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University and president of the Center for Architecture. With a Ph.D. in Art History from Columbia University, his work focuses on modern architectural history and theory, particularly of Germany and France. Bergdoll also held an illustrious career as the chief curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) from 2004 to 2017. His recent co-curated exhibitions at MoMA included Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive with Jennifer Gray in 2017 and Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955-1980 with Carlos Eduardo Comas in 2015. Deborah Berke has served as Dean of the Yale School of Architecture since 2016, the first woman to hold that position in the school's history. She has been an adjunct professor at the institution since 1987, in addition to founding the award-winning Deborah Berke Partners in New York. Some of the firm's notable works include the Rockefeller Arts Center at SUNY Fredonia, the Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York, and the Cummins Indy Distribution Headquarters in Indianapolis. Berke’s awards include the 2019 Medal of Honor from the AIA New York Chapter and the 2012 Berkeley-Rupp Prize at the University of California at Berkley, among others. The Pritzker Prize, whose past laureates have included Frank Gehry, Tadao Ando, and Zaha Hadid, is internationally recognized as the top award in architectural excellence. Last year’s award was given to Japanese architect Arata Isozaki. The forthcoming 2020 Pritzker Prize will be awarded next spring.
MOCA digs up its past in its Foundation exhibition
Celebrating 40 years since its founding in 1979, The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles has unearthed some of their best hits for this latest exhibition: The Foundation of the Museum: MOCA’s Collection. To be specific, the show takes place in The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, the museum’s first official building, a former police car warehouse renovated by Frank Gehry in 1983 with all the rawness the architect’s work was known for in that era. The exhibition on display, organized by senior curator Bennett Simpson and assistant curator Rebecca Lowery, reveals a collection that will remind its visitors of the radical spirit that once led the museum’s founders to hire an architect as nonconformist as Gehry in the first place. Institutional critique and curatorial transparency appear to be the two uniting forces grouping the artworks on display: In any part of the museum, one can hear the critical voice of performance artist Andrea Fraser from the three television sets displaying her video works peppered throughout the exhibition; one room is a nearly standalone installation of Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s Untitled (Portrait of MOCA), which serves to challenge the self-aggrandizement of the museum itself in plain text. Perhaps most impressive is the recreation of Chris Burden’s Exposing the Foundation of the Museum, for which the artist dug into the museum’s floor to literally expose the concrete foundations of the museum’s building. First presented in the very same spot in 1986, the piece allows visitors to see the guts of the building for themselves, turn around, and see the other pieces of the exhibition with a fresh perspective. Curators Simpson and Lowery should be applauded for their decision to juxtapose Burden’s piece next to Gordon Matta-Clark’s Office Baroque, the product of the artist’s excavation of a corporate office building. Separate from any curatorial mission, the pieces from other notable artists, including locals Mike Kelley, Laura Owens, and Ed Ruscha, are a delight to see under a single roof.
Smoke and Mirrors
A look at the flimsy architectural stage sets of William Leavitt
When reflecting on the recent art and architecture scene of Los Angeles, a familiar cadre of names will typically come to mind; Ed Ruscha, Frank Gehry, John Baldessari, and Thom Mayne, to name a few. But beyond the figures that have famously channeled the city’s flair for the dramatic into their creative work, there is at least one artist that has made the spotlight his artistic subject while avoiding it for himself altogether. William Leavitt, now 78, has been quietly producing art about the uniquely modern spectacle of Los Angeles and its built environment since the late 1960s. Leavitt was stunned by the scale of Los Angeles and the hold the movie industry had on the city when he arrived in 1965. Part of a generation that reacted against the plain functionality of modernism in favor of a burgeoning commercial language designed for mass appeal, Leavitt continues to produce illustrations and sculptures which pay special attention to the architecture and interior design aesthetic present in the soap operas, furniture showrooms and suburban basements of the time. Like Ruscha and Gehry, Leavitt was an out-of-towner fascinated by the hastily constructed buildings that popped up around Los Angeles during the 1950s and 60s. But that would be selling Leavitt’s inspirations short. The artist skillfully conflated the kitsch and thinly veiled constructions of mid-century America with the sparse beauty of stage set design employed in so many of Hollywood’s movie studios and independent theatres. In 1988, he wrote about the first time he visited the backlot of a movie studio: “I loved the deception of going up to one of those perfect houses and opening the door and seeing that there was nothing but canvas and 2x4s holding it up. I thought that was spectacular: all the bricks were made of composition board.” The unique balance of image and reality on display throughout the city’s built environment is Leavitt’s primary source of inspiration. While the minimal stage sets of movies and plays are designed to appear more complete to their audiences fixed in place, Leavitt invites his audience to study his sets up close and in the round. As Ann Goldstein described his work, it “tak[es] into account the theatrical potential of the ordinary” while “considering the significance of every detail - location, lighting, atmosphere, props, and sound - and, like a set designer, he assembles a scene where every element plays a role.” One of his most well-known installations, California Patio (1972) is a sculpture depicting an entire setting: a freestanding sliding glass door between blue curtains framing a truncated woodchip garden. The materials of the entire piece might well have been purchased at a local hardware store, yet they become more than the sum of their parts; the 2x4s holding up the structure are more cleanly nailed and the sandbags more delicately placed than what is typically hidden from the screen or the stage. Leavitt’s illustrations, meanwhile, are reminiscent of those used by art directors to describe a stage set to a production crew. In Electric Chair (Interior) (1983), for example, efficiently depicts a sparse basement in which function and utility might be easily be confused for one another.
The K-12 team at TowerPinkster is aiming to physically slow down school shooters through its $48-million renovation and addition to Fruitport High School in Western Michigan. The 189,822-square-foot project recently garnered national headlines because of its push to enhance safety within the 64-year-old institution, which previously featured narrow corridors and cramped gathering spaces. TowerPinkster, an architecture, engineering, and interiors firm with expertise in educational spaces, worked with the National Institute of Crime Prevention to learn the most effective ways to secure the school’s campus, which is slated to reopen in 2021. By building on 143,879 square feet of new space that connects to the older structure, the design team was able to create a two-story, curved academic wing designed to reduce the sightlines of a potentially armed attacker. Each teaching space was conceived with “shadow zones” along the door-side walls where students and faculty can hide without being seen. Shatter-proof safety film was specified to cover the few windows that do look into the classrooms. In addition, cement block “wing walls” were added to stick out next to all doors and act as further barriers. Currently under construction, this build-out is the fourth attempt to update the school since its opening in 1963. TowerPinkster has envisioned a new set of offices, an auditorium, media center, woodshop, cafeteria, and common area for Fruitport HS as well. The entry experience is also changing. Located at the opposite end of the classroom corridors, and looking directly at the parking lot, a staff member at reception would be able to see anyone walking into the school at any given time. They would also have the ability to lock down all classrooms, the vestibule door to the office, and the office door to the school using a three-button system. At a time when some experts are saying the key to school safety is in the design of fully transparent and inclusive learning spaces or pushing for gun reform, TowerPinkster didn’t wholeheartedly embrace breaking down Fruitport’s mid-century brick structure and replacing it with a more contemporary school. Closer attention was paid to the security strategies and, according to Matt Slagle, director of K-12 design at the firm, it was all about striking a “balance between security and a welcoming presence.” He told The Washington Post his team wanted to make the school feel open, but not too open; secure, but not as secure as a prison. Along with adding ample barrier elements to the school’s many open spaces, the idea to include curved hallways was one of the biggest safety-increasing design moves. Fruitport’s academic wings will be crescent-shaped and short, even though they won’t appear to be so from the ground. But non-linear connection points aren’t always the smartest way to ensure protection in a highly populated environment. In 2003, it was reported that it took police over seven hours to capture a gunman that had entered a new business school building at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. SWAT team members blamed the architect, Frank Gehry, for the hide-and-seek game that ensued and for not being able to get a clear shot. And, as critics are pointing out on social media, those shadow zones and wing walls could also be taken advantage of by the shooter to more easily hide.
Sculpture Garden Irrigation
The New Orleans Museum of Art flaunts its waterside sculpture garden
Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art 1 Collins Diboll Circle City Park New Orleans Louisiana 504-658-4100 Architect: Lee Ledbetter & Associates Landscape Architect: Reed Hilderbrand The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, which adjoins the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), reopened this summer after a major expansion. The renovated garden includes a variety of amenities for education and entertainment, including an amphitheater, a gallery, and an outdoor learning environment. Pathways and pedestrian bridges snake past groves, open fields, and lagoons to enable visitors of all physical abilities to fully explore the garden’s art. NOMA maintains a particularly impressive collection of contemporary sculpture in the outdoor space, including pieces by Yinka Shonibare, Beverly Pepper, and Frank Gehry. Working with Reed Hilderbrand and Lee Ledbetter & Associates, the museum has prioritized environmental sustainability throughout its expansion. An elaborate lagoon system, as well as ecologically conscious soil-management practices and hundreds of new trees, ensures that the garden’s ecosystem continues to thrive. As has always been the case, the Besthoff Sculpture Garden is free and open to the public seven days a week.
Remembrances from 2002-2015
Peter Lang on Cristiano Toraldo di Francia's 'incredible love'
Cristiano Toraldo di Francia sadly passed away on July 30. Cofounder, along with Adolfo Natalini, of the Florentine Radical design and architecture group Superstudio, Cristiano was the kind of person who was incredibly open-minded, shared a sharp sense of humor, and professed a deep love for humanity. While accolades spread across the internet following news of his passing, there was a lot to Cristiano that didn’t make it into these postings, tributes, and memorials. What might have been most lacking in all these accounts was the way he shrugged off fame and shunned formality. Yet he never wasted a moment, had infinite stamina, and to stick by him you needed to react fast and move quickly. Cristiano was a perceptive and ever-present photographer, and it is thanks to him that so many historical moments during their superlative adventure were captured for posterity. When I asked him about how he got into photography, he spoke about his father, Giuliano, who was a renowned physicist, recounting an odd story about how he was introduced to his first photo-camera. As Cristiano told me, in an interview at his house in Filottrano back in 2005, his father “…designed lenses for Ducati, at that time they made electronics—now they´re making motorcycles. They made cameras, radios. And they made a micro-camera, which anticipated the cameras of today, instead of the normal 35 mm film --24x36mm, they were using 24x18mm film, so it was fantastic. Italy was poor at the time, everything had to be reduced! Cristiano couldn’t help make a quip about the States, and while proudly acknowledging that Italian technology was inventing incredible things that were “almost too advanced for their time,” in America “everything was big—big cameras, big cars. But that camera was a jewel... Just to say that since I was a child I was initiated to the mysteries of photography—the images coming out of the acids, of the paper.” Probing further, I asked Cristiano what his relationship was to the burgeoning Florentine fashion industry in the early sixties when he was a professional photographer. “I was making family portraits at the time to raise money. In Florence, there is a big tradition around the Alinari family that besides all the city portraits,” now in the Alinari Archive in Florence, “they shot a lot of family portraits, but these were like paintings, all retouched, like Photoshop. “They were perfect photographers- so this tradition was present. I was trying to do a very different kind of photography. I looked more to the American model. A journalistic kind of picture, Diane Arbus... Not so much Man Ray or the historical ones. “I became quite successful at the time. All these noble mothers came to make photos in my studio. After a while, I was asked to do fashion photography, but after a while, Superstudio started and I quit. But of course, I had all the contacts and all the people- I was friends with Oliviero Toscani for example,” who would go on to make the controversial photographic campaigns for Bennetton. With his usual irony, Cristiano pointed out that he also worked as a fashion model, for the kind of magazines that were constantly referencing architecture. It’s hard not to talk about the origins of the Italian Radical movement without getting into influences, of which there were many: “We started…” as Cristiano clarified in that same interview, “…on parallel levels, looking at Archigram, but even more we looked back at Dada and then to Pop-art that was bringing the Dada methods up to date. Fluxus—breaking boundaries and being completely interdisciplinary, fluctuating from one activity to the other. But on the other hand, Archigram had this political information as background—for which we could say maybe we were more idealistic than them. They were more pragmatic, more Anglo-Saxon.” Dan Graham connected his generation to Rock and Roll, and given the times, it is clear that music played a considerable role for Cristiano. When I spoke to Cristiano about music when we met in December of 2002, he had this to say: “When I talk about the importance of music, we don’t deny having discovered a person like Bob Dylan, or the Beatles, it was a time when popular music reached great artistic levels, Laurie Anderson, the whole group of Fluxus, back then there was a system of self-propulsion, in every field…” What is critical in understanding Superstudio is precisely this level of mixing passions that the art and architecture curator Lara Vinca Masini referred to as “contaminations.” Cristiano stabbed at this point by bringing in Aldo Rossi: “Yes the work of Rossi and others was interesting, but it was always inside a discipline with few confrontations with the world that went much faster than their own reasoning.” Getting back to the Florentine music scene, Cristiano credited his father with exposing him to experimental music when he was beginning university. In a conversation I had with him in 2005, Cristiano remarked: “My father was a scientist, and as a scientist he was traveling a lot and, in a way, disillusioned and relativistic. He was asked in 1963 to become president of the young contemporary music association. One of those members was Sylvano Bussotti,” a Florentine native, musical polyglot and noted dandy. “One was Giuseppe Chiari,” the atonal musician, close to John Cage and a member of Fluxus, “and the other was Pietro Grossi,” a Venetian electronic musician and composer living in Florence. “I remember they were making concerts of electronic music, and one concert was in the Conservatorio di Musica Cherubini which is a traditional music conservatory. And after 10 minutes of this music people went crazy.” Evidently, for this generation of young architects living in Florence in the sixties, these were incredibly stimulating years. Superstudio detoured around the traditional tools of the architect, experimenting with alternative forms of expression and representation. When Emilio Ambasz showed up in Florence around 1971, scouting for ideas for the upcoming exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape for MoMA, the young curator was seeking out experimental “environments.” These would be full-scale prototypes for living, accompanied by films serving as animated captions. Yet I wanted to know just how Superstudio produced this project, what kind of technology was used to build this elaborate environment and how did they create their 12-minute film Supersurface. The main backer for the environment was the manufacturer Print but they also had to procure other funders, due to the elevated expenses. According to Cristiano, they found the supplies they needed in Florence, the special reflective glass and the electronic components key to simulate alternating moods of day and night inside the environment. It took 15 days to manually assemble it before the show opened in New York on May 26th, 1972. The movie was instead made during the winter of 1971- 72 and it was filmed in 36 mm. “I worked on that with Sandro Poli,” the Superstudio member officially present between 1970 and 1972, “we found the music, made the soundtrack, with the professional help of a guy who made advertising for TV (Marchi Producers), who had that mentality, and in fact, we wanted it to be projected as if it would be an advertisement for the Supersurface. The first part presents in a scientific way how the thing is done, and the second one tells how happy you will be living there.” In fact, both making the environment and directing the animated film were very labor-intensive hands-on processes. I asked Cristiano what role the Italian manufacturers had in producing Superstudio’s concepts. Cristiano’s response was that these factories were mostly made up of artisans. “That is why we managed to make a series of objects from very different things and from really different materials. Most of these objects are coming out of a kind of bricolage. The factory made almost nothing—we had to find artisans who did the different parts. The industry would just put the parts together. We were doing a kind of bricolage Cheap-scape—as Frank Gehry would say—for the industries.” The Italian design industry seemed to work as an artisanal chain assembly. But what was still not clear, was why did these manufacturers get behind a group like Superstudio to make things that worked against the idea of mass consumption? Why would they sponsor designs that were against their best interests? “We thought these objects we were making were a kind of trojan horses that coming from inside the system would produce criticism, which means creativity, which means refusal, or incredible love. They were objects of poetic reaction for the people. They were not mass-produced, they were in little series, multiples, like works of art.” To this day I still think about Cristiano’s trojan horses, and his incredible love.
ARTECHOUSE's Chelsea Market space will let visitors experience architectural hallucinations
ARTECHOUSE, a technology-focused art exhibition platform conceived in 2015 by Sandro Kereselidze and Tati Pastukhova, has been presenting digitally inspired art in Washington D.C. and Miami. Now they’re coming to New York, “a clear next step for [their] mission,” with an inaugural exhibition by Refik Anadol. The Istanbul-born, Los Angeles-based Anadol is known for his light and projection installations that often have an architectural component, such as the recent animation projected on the facade of the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall. For ARTECHOUSE in New York (also Anadol’s first large exhibition in New York), he’ll be presenting Machine Hallucination. The installation will create what he calls “architectural hallucinations” that are derived from millions of images processed by artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms. “With Refik, it’s been a collaborative process for over a year and a half, bringing a new commission, Machine Hallucination to life,” explained Kereselidze and Pastukhova. “We have worked closely with Refik to develop the concept for this exciting new work, thinking carefully about how to most effectively utilize and explore our Chelsea Market space.” ARTECHOUSE is especially suited to visualizing Refik’s “data universe” with a floor-to-ceiling, room-wrapping 16K laser projector that the creators claim features “the largest seamless megapixel count in the world,” along with 32-channel sound from L-ISA. The more than 3 million photos, representing numerous architectural styles and movements, will be made to expose (or generate) latent connections between these representations of architectural history, generating “hallucinations” that challenge our notions of space and how we experience it—and providing insight into how machines might experience space themselves. It makes us consider what happens when architecture becomes information. Of the work, Anadol said, “By employing machine intelligence to help narrate the hybrid relationship between architecture and our perception of time and space, Machine Hallucination offers the audience a glimpse into the future of architecture itself.” Machine Hallucination will inhabit the new 6,000-square-foot ARTECHOUSE space in Chelsea Market, located in an over-century-old former boiler room which features exposed brick walls and a refurbished terracotta ceiling, which according to its creators, “supplies each artist with a unique canvas and the ability to drive narratives connecting the old and new.” ARTECHOUSE will be opening to the public early next month.
Nothing But Net
The Cayton Children's Museum turns an L.A. mall into a playscape
395 Santa Monica Place, Suite 374 Santa Monica, CA 424-416-8320 The 21,000-square-foot Cayton Children’s Museum is a new multilevel experience curated to engage children with the physical world. OFFICEUNTITLED (formerly R&A Design), a Culver City, California–based firm, has designed a space for children to explore unhindered, as the nets, colorful palette, costume lockers, full-size helicopter and firetruck, and even a wall covered in pool noodles are all intended to spur tactile interaction without requiring constant adult supervision. The museum is on the third floor of the open-air Santa Monica Place mall, an adaptive reuse project on the top floor of the Frank Gehry-designed building. Despite being titled as a children's museum, the space provides a welcome respite for parents and children alike. However, if visitors walk past the enormous aardvark carved from plywood that houses the reception desk, they’ll find the “Courage Climber,” an entire level made from nets, which only children can access and that spans 20 percent of the museum’s footprint. Other architecturally scaled objects house the museum’s various non-exhibition programmatic elements such as ticketing and security, including the “Armadillo, Porcupine, Onion, Egg, Houses and Drum.” The space is broken into five exhibition “neighborhoods” with distinct educational elements. Launch Your is a space for zero-to-two-year-old children to explore different topological arrangements through touch and is intended to help them strengthen their coordination. In Let’s Help, children can explore what it means to be a farmer, veterinarian, or first responder. The Together We section has been stocked with exhibitions meant to promote group activities and team building. In Reach for, visitors can stretch their legs and climb all over the web of nets. Finally, things slow down in Reflect On, where children are encouraged to take a more contemplative attitude about the world and consider how they can better connect with nature. The museum is open from 10:00 a.m. through 7:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $14, but the museum will be free for low-income families during the first year.
At the Royal Free
Studio Libeskind reveals its Maggie's Centre in north London
Studio Libeskind’s long-awaited vision has finally been revealed for the new Maggie’s Centre at the Royal Free Hospital in north London. Set to replace its existing Cancerkin Centre facility—with which Maggie’s merged in 2016—the sculptural structure is the product a 16-year planned collaboration with the charity and will be the 21st of its kind in the United Kingdom. While a slew of other high-profile architects including Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, Norman Foster, and most recently Steven Holl have completed individual Maggie’s Centres, Daniel Libeskind’s will be drastically different and more personal to his design style. He described it as a “modest building” that’s soft and intimate, according to the Architect’s Journal. Like Holl’s Maggie Centre in west London, Libeskin's center will have a minimal footprint, but will be much more subdued and will put the emphasis on a series of more natural materials, such as wood. Slated to be constructed on an underused southwest corner of the hospital’s parking lot, the Maggie’s Centre at the Royal Free will feature an undulating, prefabricated facade made of timber louvers designed to shade the exterior, maximize privacy inside, and evoke a sense of serenity for the cancer patients stopping by for drop-in support. Though it will be a small building with 26 total rooms, Studio Libeskind designed the structure to expand in form as it rises. Diffused natural light will come in through the window slats and provide patients with views of the outside gardens in the front and back of the building, as well as on the roof. To Libeskind, the upcoming Maggie’s Centre and its architecture complement the Royal Free and its role as a place of healing. He told the AJ that unlike the hospital, “this is a home,” and, “It’s not like entering an institution, it is a place where people can come and find comfort.” The Maggie’s Centre will be completed as part of a wider masterplan going on at the hospital, which includes the construction of a new emergency department and on-site research building by Hopkins Architects. A date for completion has not yet been made public, but the planning application for Libeskind’s Maggie Centre is expected to be filed in the fall, according to AJ.
Dear Stanley, It took you a decent nine years to write to Mies after he died, but I could only wait three days. You know, just to make sure. You did resign your tenure from the University of Illinois, Chicago twice, after all, so anything is possible. Less circumspect or hopeful, most of the other members of the tribe have already rushed in to saturate social media feeds with postings and posings, leaving no chance for any Miesian moment of silence in your absence. These days, three days feels like a lifetime. As much as you talked all these years, there are still so many questions that remain: What was the connection between your lozenge paintings and Hejduk’s diamonds? What was the genealogy of your soft corner? What can I do to get fired? One of your greatest attributes: You turned getting canned into an art form, always able to use crisis—indeed, design, and accelerate it—as a means to reinvent yourself and your work. When you hastily took leave of a coveted position at Harry Weese’s within a year, you quickly opened your own office. The first time you resigned your University of Illinois tenure, in 1970, led to one of the most productive and influential decades of your career. When you then returned to run the post-professional program, and next the entire school itself as director from 1985 to ‘93, you were able to transform an unlikely state extension school into the envy of the Ivys. Not surprisingly, this put you at odds with the senior faculty, who scurried to a newly appointed dean to have you dismissed as director. Not one to let others determine your fate, you immediately resigned your tenure a second time, and, with Eva Maddox, cofounded Archeworks. During those UIC years, you were a Bulldog Buddha sitting on axis with the door, at a 60-inch round wooden Eames table in a ten-foot diameter mini-rotunda, less an office than an aedicula. We always assumed there was a revolver taped to the underside, near where the Herman Miller seal of authenticity would have been. Before one of your first meetings with a delinquent faculty member on whom you expected to go off, you asked your then-new assistant, Nancy Gislason, to nudge you under the table if you started to go too far. After her three discreet attempts of increasing urgency to follow your request, you turned and flatly reprimanded, “God damn it, Nancy, stop kicking me! I know I’m making an ass of myself!” You didn’t just know your limitations, you orchestrated their effective deployment. There are so many memories of you in that circular Tiger’s den, which one never entered voluntarily, but was summoned into, if naive enough to walk carelessly within your distant cone of vision: “Garofalo, get in here!! Is K on drugs, or what?!” you once inquired of the New York theorist newly arrived as the Greenwald Chair. Never mind that Doug himself had just met Professor K; in your world we would all be our brother’s keeper. You would hold all of us, with your pointed emphasis, “per-son-al-ly responsible,” invariably for things over which we felt no control whatsoever. But that was your secret superpower: seeing and expecting more of us than we could perceive in ourselves. Beyond your offices on Wells Street and in the A+A Building, you could hold court from any table in the city, from the Arts Club to Manny’s, Gene and Georgetti’s to Coco Pazzo—always, as you advised and practiced, with your back to the wall, and preferably in a corner. You could see them all coming: the anxious ones, approaching for a favor; the smiling ones, looking for the opportunity to stick it in the back; the accused, rushing to the door to avoid having to do their version of the perp walk before your studied glare. “He,”—dramatic pause—“is not generous,” you once declared in an exaggerated stage whisper of a former member of the Chicago Seven sitting two tables away. When said former ally came over to pay his respects, your first and last words, not surprisingly: “You,”—dramatic pause—“are not generous.” For you, there was never a difference between private speech and public act; what you said was what they got. In the architecture world that one could never escape once in your orbit, they were always there, populating the periphery of every restaurant, opening, and conference: the rice Krispies (“can’t hurt you, can’t help you”), the ones who were dead to you, the architects who drew like angels (and their opposite, those who “held their pencil like a civilian”), the writers “who owned the English language,” and those who you declared possessed “a discernible IQ,” (high praise) while tapping your temple with your index finger for emphasis. You ordained quickly but could excommunicate with even greater alacrity. That is one reason our generation scrupulously avoided your various offices unless and until “invited.” We feared your wrath more than we coveted your approval. I suspect we also grew up believing the approval of one’s elders was more than a little distasteful, so we kept our thoughts to ourselves, wagering on the long game. This is not so true of the younger generation, your enthusiastic grandchildren, over-eager to please, to show and tell ev-er-y-thing, and with them you always seemed to indulge a patience we never took the time to notice. Did you mellow with age, or was it just the new mellownium? When you wrote to Mies in 1978 (with ironic shock and genuine satisfaction), it was to inform him that his legacy was lost: modernism was moribund, IIT a sclerotic seminary, SOM an aging and unhealthy corporate carcass. Over the post-Miesian horizon, there was color, historical reference, pop, ornament, curvature, frivolity…talk. And today, four decades on, we are operating again on that same horizon you bequeathed to us, the one beyond The Titanic. When I returned to UIC in 2007 to reenact your role, you generously and without hesitation agreed to return as the inaugural lecturer, the first time you had set foot in Netsch’s labyrinth in the 14 years since your dismissal/resignation. Ever since then, UIC would paradoxically become much more a Stanley school than it ever was when you were in charge. After the diaspora and years in exile, “we” had won. The first Chicago Architecture Biennial borrowed its title from you (“The State of the Art of Architecture”), while the second elevated you as its de facto central protagonist (“Make New History”). You had the temerity to suggest that Chicago was not just a city of pragmatics and profit, but of ideas and values, along with the talent to prove it and the tenacity to make others believe it. Through it all, you fought for discourse and argument and humor in a world dominated by marketing, platitudes, and unction. You remained committed to the belief that architecture, even in a place like Chicago, was a cultural event, that ideas and forms were connected—sometimes in your own work awkwardly or naively, at other times with shocking aura and simplicity. Just as you would take your work through serial attachments, quit, and move on, you would also direct the school through multiple and incompatible ideologies: pop-pomo, neo-classicism, deconstructivism, and the earliest moments of the digital, back when it was still manual. Others would mistake this as eclecticism, as a sign of your boredom, but in fact you were tirelessly demonstrating, training us in how to assume a position. It must have been exhausting to have to tutor a profession and a place so ill-suited to receive your lessons all those years, and no doubt it took its toll on your patience and your practice. Never willing to limit yourself to half a dichotomy, you would always rather fight and switch. If future historians identify a third (or fourth) Chicago school, it will rightfully belong to you alone. Over the recent past decades, a multinational and multigenerational band of disparate architects have come to the city for Mies but left with Tigerman: from Ben Nicholson and Stan Allen to Pier Paolo Tamburelli, Jennifer Bonner, Kersten Geers, Momoyo Kaijima, and Job Floris. Of course, Sam Jacob and his partners at FAT were there very early, and his presence, along with other established visitors to the school, such as Paul Andersen, have helped establish UIC as a place to extend your initiatives. This is a significant and surprising genealogy of fellow architects and thinkers—colleagues, collaborators, combatants—and one not always identical with the locals you chose to coronate, whom to many of us seemed to embody the kind of self-promotion and branding you would increasingly condemn in other contexts. You often said that the practice of architecture was the perversion of the study of architecture, locating the core of the discipline with reflection and principle. But nonetheless, you seemed congenitally inclined—or was it just contextually compelled?—to elevate the striving practitioners who would surround you, in a replay of the fate of Mies’ disciples. Frustrating as they were, those blind spots, those inconsistencies, were also part of your charm, a weakness for certain types. Despite your sometimes prickly exterior, you were an unrepentant optimist and romantic, a sucker for your latest discovery, always willing to assume that behind the smoke of others there was fire. Margaret McCurry, more measured and critical, saw that behind all that smoke there were often just mirrors. She was ultimately the tough and clear-sighted one over your 40-year partnership, the one you could depend on to keep you true to your highest ideals and best instincts, tolerantly rolling her eyes at your latest infatuations, all the while entreating you to eat your blueberries for their antioxidants. When you were blunt, it was often for effect; when Margaret was blunt, it was always for real. At once calculated and candid, the Tigerman-McCurry duo packed a powerful punch. And then you left us, just 75 days shy of the fiftieth anniversary of Mies’s departure. Even for you, the symmetry of that possibility must have seemed too much. As we can already no longer think of him without you, the chronological correspondence would have been too trivial. What was it Rem once said, in an effort to rescue Mies from his acolytes, as you so often attempted? “I do not respect Mies, I love Mies. Because I do not revere Mies I am at odds with his admirers.” So let it be with Tigerman. Love, Somol