Search results for "whitney"

Placeholder Alt Text

Crítica de Choque

“Pan Americas” conference looks at architectural relationships across a hemisphere
Earlier this month a dozen or so Latin American architects gathered at The City College of New York (CCNY) Spitzer School of Architecture for a “Pan Americas” conference. A few colleagues from New York joined them, including CCNY professor Michael Sorkin, who gave an impassioned speech about the poorly compensated resource extractions imposed on Central and South America by “el norte,” from oil to sugar, and about how Latin American architecture is “a polymorphous tradition that continues with enormous vitality.” There were two thematic pulls in the conference: the realities of the region’s economic and political conditions, and the vital and witty Latin American architecture that manages to emerge out of them anyway. One of the first slides of the conference showed Le Corbusier’s Modulor. It was barely recognizable as it had acquired a domestic environment, and was now found reclining on sofas, in poses other than the familiar one with the outstretched arm. The presenter, Mónica Bertolino, an architect and professor in Córdoba, Argentina, was making the point that when modern architecture arrived in Latin America it had to be tempered with local materials. But this is not to say that the architecture is any less modern, albeit less known. Hans Ibelings and Mauricio Quiros rightly pointed out the lack of coverage of Latin American work in books about modern architecture. They hope to address this with their upcoming publication about Central American architecture, but they also argued that what they call a peripheral condition (relative to Europe and the United States) could be a source of creative strength and encouraged Latin American architects to revel in it. The landscape architect Maria Villalobos, who gave the most impassioned lecture of the conference, is doing just that. She studied at Versailles and Harvard before returning to Venezuela to design the Botanical Garden of Maracaibo and it was this designer, one so deeply knowledgeable on French gardens, who resisted the cliched formal garden approach and came up with something inspired by the diverse Venezuelan habitats. Two other young designers presented outstanding work, Dana Víquez Azofeifa, from Costa Rica, and Inés Guzmán from Guatemala. Víquez Azofeifa uses the native biodiversity of Costa Rica to ameliorate the urban problems of its capital city San José. She grew up in Costa Rica, went north to study and work, and then returned home to start the firm PPAR with her partner Jose Vargas Hidalgo. “El norte” may have in the past robbed its southern neighbors of their raw resources, but now these designers traveling north are bringing home professional experience and intellectual insights. Guzmán was perhaps more aware of the complexity of her geographical allegiance and called herself “a Guatemalan citizen of the world.” She presented several projects by her firm Taller KEN, which she founded in 2013 with Gregory Melitonov. Her stint abroad included working on Renzo Piano’s Whitney Museum, but it was James Wines of SITE (in the audience and also a presenter), whom she credited as her inspiration. Then, when she showed Madero Café in Guatemala City, one couldn’t help but think of SITE’s Ghost Parking Lot project from the 1970s. In that project Wines buried cars under asphalt in a shopping center in Hamden, Connecticut, while Taller KEN impaled them on a forty-five-foot-high red cube. James Wines’s own presentation was a plea for more work like this. He showed images of t-shirts with various calls for social justice written on them—is this what activism looks like today, he asked the audience? He would like to see that activism make its way into built design work, and Taller KEN’s Madero Café is an example of this. The big red box calls attention to itself among undifferentiated stretches of trafficky roads and low-rise commercial strips. Then, inside, the only daylight comes from the top, completely isolating the cafe patrons from the surrounding context. Taller KEN critically responded to the wanton deforestation of Guatemala’s rainforest by putting a piece of it, albeit symbolically, inside the box, like the precious thing that it is. If there’s one insight from this conference that is applicable to the discipline of architecture in general it is that socio-cultural concerns in architecture are not only compatible with exciting design, but can even be the motivators. The last discussion of the conference revolved around the imaging of architecture. What are the possible effects of social media on what gets designed? The best answer came from Fredy Massad, Argentinian by birth but living and working in Barcelona and writing on architecture for the Spanish newspaper ABC. His most recent book of architecture criticism is Crítica de Choque (Shock Criticism), which places recent developments in architecture in the context of major political events—the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the financial collapse of 2008, etc. Massad is critical of the lack of discourse in an image-driven culture of architecture promotion. He rebukes the uncritical production of images of architecture in a book entirely devoid of images, and we readers find respite in this sea of words. With this book, we feel like characters in a Wim Wenders film who, overwhelmed by the bombardment of images, turn to words for redemption. Massad’s lecture did include some images, and notable among them was the portrait of Chilean architect and Pritzker Prize winner Alejandro Aravena. Massad argues, and others at the conference agreed, that Aravena aestheticized low-income housing in a way that was not beneficial to those the architecture was meant to serve. Massad has termed what Aravena does a kind of “Adamismo,” as in making himself the “Adam,” the person at the beginning of all things socio-political, and in the process erasing all the efforts that came before him. The future of Latin American architecture depends on its multifariousness, not in the singularity of a star. Perhaps the best moment of the conference was when Álvaro Rojas, co-organizer of the event with Guillermo Honles, started his presentation by playing a song, Ojalá que llueva café (I hope it rains coffee) by the popular Dominican singer Juan Luis Guerra. The students around me looked up from their phones and laptops and broke into roaring laughter. Is this the “shock” that Massad argues is needed in architecture today? For about four minutes an auditorium full of people accustomed to always be doing something did absolutely nothing except listen to a song. Perhaps this is the point of this and any conference, to take time out from the daily grind and just listen.
Placeholder Alt Text

Direct Action

Forensic Architecture joins the 2019 Whitney Biennial as controversy grows
The Whitney Museum is ramping up for its 2019 Biennial and has revealed its list of 75 contributing artists. The Biennial has, since 1932, been a prestige showcase of the contemporary art landscape in the United States. While this year’s show won't open until May 17, it has already courted controversy. This year’s exhibition, curated by Jane Panetta and Rujeko Hockley, will also include the London-based arts-architecture-and-science research collective Forensic Architecture, which is hot off of its nomination for a Turner Prize last year. The run-up to the exhibition has been fraught. After Hyperallergic revealed in November of last year that Warren Kanders, a Whitney vice chairman, was the owner and CEO of Safariland—a weapons company responsible for manufacturing tear gas used at the border and the Standing Rock protests—a number of artists have spoken out in protest. Artist Michael Rakowitz has already withdrawn from the show as several other contributors, including Forensic Architecture, have indicated that their contributions will directly address the Safariland issue. With the Whitney refusing to remove Kanders from his position, the activist group Decolonize This Place has pledged to hold nine weeks of “art and action” before the Biennial’s start. In a statement released on Twitter, the group has also promised that it will work with the Biennial’s artists to pressure the museum into removing Kanders, as well as hold supplemental events that spotlight the voices of indigenous and marginalized peoples. Decolonize This Place has emphasized its belief that the museum should not be able to profit through “state-sponsored violence” and has iterated its support for any artists who choose to drop out from the Biennial in the coming months. When reached for comment, Forensic Architecture directed AN to the following statement released on Twitter earlier today. “In light of recent reporting by @hyperallergic & protests by @decolonize_this & others, our invitation to the 2019 #WhitneyBiennial has become a challenge which unites the political & cultural dimensions of our practice. We will respond through our contribution.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Drawn and Quartered

Drawing Codes ironically gets the rules all wrong
Upon entering Drawing Codes, you might be struck by a sense of familiarity, as though everything looks somehow as it should. It’s comforting to be surrounded by beautiful drawings hung neatly in well-spaced, black-framed squares, little perfect windows into a collection of works by a close-knit circle of designers. But there’s also something unsettling in the comfort and familiarity of the exhibition—closing at the Cooper Union on February 23 and formally titled Drawing Codes: Experimental Protocols of Architectural Representation, Volume IIas though we are being sold something too slick, too friendly, too complete, as though everything’s been face-tuned, flattened into a collection that articulates a narrative without agonism or a predetermined history without contestation. The show’s brief itself leaves its subject quite open. In their introductory text, curators Andrew Kudless and Adam Marcus outline four prompts to consider the theme: code as generative constraint, code as language, code as cipher, and code as script. “Code” might encompass building regulations and energy standards, syntax and encryption, recipes and typologies. But an assumption underlies the brief that the project is really about computational code; the curators’ text opens with a comment explaining that emergent technologies have changed how we practice. This internal conflict of the theme—between its presumed meaning and purported openness—produces a collection that commits to neither. And while the curators’ prompt cleaves “code” open, Kudless and Marcus restrict the content through their own rules: square format, black and white drawings, only orthographic projection. These rules reference early digital aesthetics and we need look no further than to the Whitney’s concurrent show Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art, 1965-2018 to see evidence of that history. There, works like Joan Truckenbrod’s 1975 Coded Algorithmic Drawing (#45), Manfred Mohr’s Band Structures studies from the 1960s-’70s, and Frederick Hammersley’s No Title (1969) lay out a coding style that persists in contemporary practice, as seen in that same show in works by Tauba Auerbach, Casey Reas, and Alex Dodge among others. By and large, the drawings in Drawing Codes are individually impressive and conceptually rich. They are beautiful and obtuse, like Projectors by MILLIØNS or Anomalous Corner by Studio Sean Canty or DoubleVision by IwamotoScott Architecture; they are funny and smart, like Another Circle GPS Plan by Aranda\Lasch or Twisted Concrete Codes by Tsz Yan Ng with Mehrdad Hadighi; they are unexpected, like Stephanie Lin’s Accumulated Error No. 41, which uses coding to explore the blurry boundaries between rendering and drawing through visual effect. Each of the drawings could be described individually, and each has a novel take on the brief—they display a range of talented designers who should be lauded for their work—but together, they become muddled into a quasi-similar set of too-tasteful objects that don’t illustrate the potential of the topic. They seem forced into a mold rather than freed to explore new territories. The show’s restrictions put the content into a curious double-bind: individual artist statements offer a posteriori rationalizations designed to satisfy the brief, while the brief itself seems built around a priori ideas about what a show about code (or drawing) might look like. For example, that the curators eradicated perspective (in order to ensure participants wouldn’t send renderings) precludes a reading of “perspective” as itself coded, rule-based, and programmable. It also means that some of the most exciting work in computation around deep learning, neural networks, and artificial intelligence, built around interrogating and constructing perspective,are off the table here. The rules of the exhibition are curiously conservative given the topic and are too aligned with a trend towards early computer graphics popular across schools and young offices today. The statements also draw attention to how responding to the brief becomes more rhetorical than generative. Together, the works read as a compilation of exceptions that demonstrate how adept we all are at bending a brief to our work. This makes it more difficult to identify dominant narratives or sub-narratives across drawings, less compelling as a portrait of code, and privileges the individuality of the authors over the ethos of the collective. And this collective is producing a tremendous amount right now. Many, if not most of the participants in the show (and in its first volume, which debuted at the California College of Arts in January, 2017) are part of an emerging generation of practices (in which my own studio is often a part) that often cohabitate in exhibitions, publications, biennials, and conferences. These platforms should be pushing us all to do better, to produce more critically, to learn from each other. The idea of this show is great. Its constraints, however, produce a condition where expectation limits the possibility of discovery or invention across the work. The show seems dedicated to reiterating things we already know about drawing, code, and each other, and rejects the ugliness of experimentation. Which made it nice to see V. Mitch McEwen’s Arduino Bot Print and Maria Yablonina’s The perpetual spline machine, both of which foregrounded haptic process over graphic order. The former, through producing a map of avoidance as the penguinbot tried to avoid retracing its steps on paper; the latter, through the creation of a solar-powered bending machine that produces splines as it collects whatever energy it can, like some tragic figure of a near-future Greek myth. In these cases, the format enabled and helped frame the works, which indicates the productive potential latent in the project. Ultimately the comfort of the show—its sanctioned and familiar take on the aesthetics of code, its politeness over an inclusive brief—is its greatest limitation. In the exhibition press release, the curators say that they want to explore the impact of “computation and code-based processes” on “conventions of architectural representation,” a clear, straightforward proposal for an exhibition that would be great to see. Without the exceptions, without the rules, and with a more open and inclusive attitude towards aesthetics not bound by known tropes but encouraged through expansive definitions of generative practice. Comfort, for all its comfort, is too safe to compel.
Placeholder Alt Text

By Jennifer Egan

James Corner Field Operations is bringing a public beach to Manhattan
The Hudson River Park Trust has announced Manhattan’s first public beach. The nonprofit group has tapped James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) to transform the disused Gansevoort Peninsula (the site of the old salt shed) into a 5.5-acre park and beach in the Hudson River. The jagged track of land sits just west of the Whitney Museum, at the southern terminus of another JCFO project, the High Line. The renovation will turn the vacant plot into a public park, complete with a beach—though the Trust admits that it won’t be open for swimming, likely because of the Hudson’s poor water quality. The new park will also be a buffer for storm surges and flooding and will be the largest green space in the entire Hudson River Park once complete. Gansevoort Peninsula sits adjacent to where artist David Hammons’ ethereal recreation of the demolished Pier 52Day’s End, will rise in stainless steel, and the Trust has pledged that the work will be integrated into the future park. That’s not all—the Trust is overseeing a suite of new projects up and down the western coast of Manhattan. Pier 55, the Thomas Heatherwick and Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects–designed island—park financed by billionaire Barry Diller—is rising just north of Day’s End on top of sculptural concrete caps. Down the coast is the ongoing $30 million renovation of Pier 26, which OLIN is transforming into an ecology center. Rafael Viñoly Architects is also building a two-story education center nearby. So far, $152 million has already been raised for the Trust's combined projects via air rights sales, and private, state, and city funding will be used to reach the required $900 million. The Trust will be soliciting feedback from the public and Community Board 2 before finalizing the revamped Gansevoort Peninsula's design and beginning construction in 2020. If everything goes as planned, the park and beach are slated to open in 2022.
Placeholder Alt Text

At the ForeFRONT

FRONT International names artistic directors for its 2021 triennial
Prem Krishnamurthy and Tina Kukielski have been chosen as co-artistic directors of the second edition of FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art in 2021. The duo will help curate the large-scale exhibition based in Northeast Ohio that elevates the region as a center of arts and culture. Both art leaders have extensive design and curatorial experience. Krishnamurthy, a founding principal of the award-winning New York firm Project Projects is now partner and director of Wkshops where he designs visual identities for cultural organizations and brands. He champions the power of graphic design as a tool to shape narratives and bring social awareness. Krishnamurthy is a member of the creative team for the currently-open 57th Carnegie International. He also works as an independent exhibition maker and writer. Kukielski directs and serves as chief curator of Art21, a nonprofit arts organization that crafts stories on contemporary art and artists through documentary film. She produces the group’s longest-running TV program, “Art in the Twenty-First Century,” in which recent features included artists Nathalie Djurberg, Olafur Eliasson, David Goldblatt, and Hans Berg. Kukielski previously held curatorial positions at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York as well as the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. In 2013, she co-curated the Carnegie International with Daniel Baumann and Dan Byers. Krishnamurthy and Kukielski’s appointment comes on the heels of last summer’s highly successful first edition of FRONT. Themed An American City, the inaugural triennial was directed by artist and curator Michelle Grabner and presented the work of over 120 global artists. The showcase, which was held in 28 different institutions and spaces across Northeast Ohio, brought in over 90,000 visitors and $31 million for the region. The next edition of FRONT will run from July 17 through October 2, 2021.
Placeholder Alt Text

The Big Wins

AIA announces its 2019 Firm of the Year, Whitney M. Young, Jr., Award
Everyone’s been talking about Richard Rogers’s big win as the 2019 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Gold Medal recipient, but he isn’t the only visionary being honored at next year’s AIA National Conference on Architecture in Las Vegas. Four other firms and leading architects will be recognized by the AIA for their career-long contributions to the fields of architecture, engineering, and design. Check out the boundary-breaking winners below: 2019 AIA Architecture Firm of the Year: Payette This 86-year-old, Boston-based firm paved the way for some of the industry’s biggest technical advancements. Founded in 1932 by industrial engineers Fred Markus and Paul Nocka, the interdisciplinary organization is home to over 160 employees that specialize not only in architecture, but visualization technology, building science, landscape design, interior architecture, fabrication, and data science. Its massive portfolio features large-scale health, science, and academic facilities for global institutions such as Grainger Hall for the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina; the Rajen Kilachand Center for Integrated Life Sciences and Engineering at Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts; and the Biosciences Research Building at the National University of Ireland in Galway, Ireland. 2019 AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion: Toshiko Mori Toshiko Mori, founder and principal of her namesake firm, has an extensive background teaching architecture. The AIA and the Association of the Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) will recognize Mori next year for excellence in architectural education. She’s taught at the Cooper Union, Columbia University, Yale University, as well as the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where she’d worked for 23 years. She was the first female faculty member there to get tenure, and became chair of the architecture department in 2002, leading the program for six years. Through her New York–based firm, which she established in 1981, Mori most recently designed the Thread Artist Residency & Cultural Centre in Sinthian, Senegal, as well as the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockland, Maine. 2019 AIA Whitney M. Young Jr. Award: Karen Braitmayer As founder of the Seattle-based consulting firm Studio Pacifica, Karen Braitmayer advises architects, developers, government and state agencies, as well as schools on accessible design. After starting her organization in 1993, she’s become widely recognized for her leadership in promoting equality, inclusivity, and social sustainability for people living with disabilities. The AIA’s Whitney M. Young Jr. Award will be given to Braitmayer for her work in advancing human rights. She’s served on the boards of the Northwest ADA Center, the Northwest Center for People with Developmental Disabilities, and the United States Access Board, which President Barack Obama appointed her to in 2010. Her firm works regularly with Olson Kundig, the city of Seattle, and Starbucks. She’s consulted on projects with Kiernan Timberlake, Oregon State University, REI, Kaiser Permanente, Nike, and Amazon. 2019 Edward C. Kemper Award: Robert Traynham Coles Robert Traynham Coles’s eponymous firm, opened in 1963, is the oldest African-American–owned architecture studio in the Northeast U.S. His work has widely influenced the city of Buffalo, where he was born, raised, and spent most of his 50-year career. Coles will receive the Edward C. Kemper Award for his legacy within the AIA. From 1974-1976, he served as the organization’s Deputy Vice President for Minority Affairs and was appointed to the College of Fellows in 1981. That same year he received the Whitney M. Young, Jr., Award for his commitment to social justice and equality in the industry. In 2016, Coles published his memoir Architecture + Advocacy in which he detailed his career-long effort to design architecture with a social conscience. He has taught at various institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Buffalo, and the University of Kansas.
Placeholder Alt Text

Send in the Clowns

MoMA stages a delirious Bruce Nauman retrospective 50 years in the making
At a panel discussion a week after the October 21 opening of Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts at the Museum of the Modern Art (MoMA), Laurenz Foundation curator and advisor to the director at the MoMA, Kathy Halbreich, discussed how poorly Nauman’s last two retrospectives were received. The first, a major solo show that traveled from the Whitney Museum of American Art to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in 1972, was pilloried by the press as vapid. The second, a 1995 exhibition at the MoMA (co-organized by Halbreich) was criticized as overly loud and chaotic. The volume has been turned down for the versatile artist’s third show but his stinging examinations of surveillance, “fake news,” bodies in space, and the ultimate futility of life are more relevant now than ever. The MoMA has pulled out all of the stops for Disappearing Acts, literally in some instances. The walls of MoMA's sixth floor have been cleared so the whole floor can be dedicated to Nauman’s larger, more architectural explorations of space, while the entirety of PS1 in Queens has been handed over to smaller installations. All told, the MoMA has put 165 pieces of sculpture, drawings, video art, neon work, soundscapes, paintings, and more on display, much of it on loan from other institutions and private collectors. In Midtown, visitors are guided through a chronological tour of Nauman’s larger works across the repurposed special exhibition galleries, beginning with his own experiments in using the body as a tool of art. Arms were used as both paintbrushes and hole-punchers in Nauman’s earlier work, and pieces were formed and named according to his own body proportions. Further in, Nauman’s meditations on surveillance in the urban environment become evident; take Going Around the Corner Piece, a “room” with no way to enter, covered in security cameras that relay their feeds to televisions on the ground. Visitors are encouraged to encircle the room as they “chase” the digital reflections ahead of them. The massive Model for Trench and Four Buried Passages has been installed beyond that, placing an “architectural model” of the titular trench, arranged in five circles, on the floor of the museum for 360-degree examination. Behind that, a small monitor sits on the wall displaying Audio-Video Underground Chamber, a live 24-hour feed from inside of a concrete box that’s been buried offsite. Kassel Corridor: Elliptical Space has been erected in the MoMA for the first time since 1972, and although it looks like two unfinished stud-mounted walls facing each other, the “sculpture” actually contains an ultra-narrow room. Only one visitor per hour is allowed inside, where they can wedge themselves inside the seafoam green “viewing chamber.” The audio installation Days occupies the last room. Fourteen super thin speakers have been suspended at head-height in two rows, with each pair featuring a different voice repeating days of the week in a random order. Nauman has carved out audio “corridors” for visitors to wander through, spatializing the installation. Across the river, PS1 is home to Nauman’s more intimate—but more terrifying—pieces. The former classrooms of PS1 have been transformed into private enclaves for his audio-visual pieces. Nauman’s most famous work, the 1987 video Clown Torture (it’s unclear whether the clowns, or the viewer, are being tortured) has been given its own room, though it’s unclear whether any visitor will stick around for its 60-minute runtime. Mapping the Studio II with color shift, flip, flop, & flip/flop (Fat Chance John Cage), a sped-up surveillance tape covering 24 hours of Nauman’s empty studio, has been given a similar staging. A selection of lithographs, paintings, and smaller neon tube pieces can also be found at the MoMA’s Queens outpost. Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts will be on display at the Manhattan MoMA until February 18, 2019, and at PS1 until February 25, 2019. The museum will also be presenting live performances of the 1965 performance piece Wall/Floor Positions from 12:00 PM through 4:00 PM every Thursday and Sunday, and every Friday and Saturday from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM at PS1.
Placeholder Alt Text

Sheet Ghost-Chic

Anthony McCall brings his light works back to New York
English artist Anthony McCall is bringing his ghostly, “solid-light” installations back to New York City in December, with a new solo show at the Sean Kelly Gallery in East Midtown, his sixth in the space. From December 14 through January 26, 2019, visitors can catch two new works from McCall, and his 2003 piece Doubling Back, which was first shown at the 2004 Whitney Biennial. A number of McCall’s black-and-white photographs will also be on display. While McCall’s show at Brooklyn's Pioneer Works in February was able to take advantage of the space’s cavernous ceilings and present vertical light pieces, horizontal installations are the focus of the Sean Kelly show, Split Second. Despite the format change, McCall’s hallmark exploration of volumetric forms using a volume-less medium, light, will be fully on display. Split Second and Split Second (Mirror) will be making their world debut at their namesake show. In Split Second, a flat blade and elliptical cone will be projected on the gallery’s back wall and slowly combine and form intersecting planes that rotate around each other. In Split Second (Mirror), McCall will split a projected “cone” with a wall-sized mirror, “cutting” the shape with a plane of light reflected back at the source. Doubling Back was McCall’s first return to the form after a 20-year hiatus. Each of McCall’s solid-light installations are actually very slowly moving films—up to a half hour or longer—and Doubling Back is no exception. Two sinuous waves, one moving horizontally and the other vertically, overlap and form pockets of light and shadow, integrating the architecture of the gallery itself into the piece. A selection of photos from McCall’s solid-light installations from the 1970s and 2000s will also be on display, capturing still images, or slices of time, from past work. That sort of snapshot is a bit ironic considering McCall’s description of his work as intentionally slowed down, creating an ever-changing relationship between the viewer and the piece. For best results, patrons will have to experience McCall’s “sculptures” for themselves. Sean Kelly Gallery is located at 475 10th Avenue in Manhattan and is open from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Tuesday through Saturday.
Placeholder Alt Text

New Kind of Winner

AIA Baltimore presents inaugural Social Equity award
Last week, AIA Baltimore presented the inaugural Social Equity Design Award to Cho Benn Holback + Associates (CBH), a Quinn Evans Architects company (QEA), in recognition of their design for the Dorothy I. Height Elementary School in West Baltimore. The architects renovated an existing building and designed an addition to accommodate the merging of two area elementary schools and create a new actor for the community. The new award was created in collaboration with the Neighborhood Design Center (NDC), a nonprofit group that traces its origin back to a speech given by civil rights leader Whitney M. Young Jr. at the 1968 AIA National Convention. Young’s fiery wake-up call, which challenged architects to embrace diversity and social responsibility to improve American cities, was heeded by a group of Baltimore designers who formed the NDC to help neighborhoods rebuild after the riots. Today, the organization facilitates collaborations between area residents, architects, government officials, and other stakeholders to improve neighborhoods through community-led design and planning. Cho Benn Holback + Associates' winning project was selected based on its alignment with NDC’s belief that good design can create healthier and more just communities, and that everyone deserves good design. Initiated as part of the $1 billion 21st Century Schools Building Project, Height Elementary is a truly collaborative effort between architect, client, and community. The architects immediately engaged with the students, faculty, and nearby residents, learning about their needs, values, and aspirations through meetings, workshops, and good old-fashioned door-knocking. They maintained this dialogue throughout the design and development process, and the feedback they received had an immediate and profound effect on the building’s design. An existing auditorium, for example, would likely have been demolished had the school not expressed their appreciation for the arts and their need for large gathering spaces. The desire for spaces shared by the school and the surrounding community was another common sentiment among those surveyed. In response, the architects created a “town square” in front of the school and a public park in back; inside, in addition to flexible classrooms that promote different types of teaching, they designed spaces for social outreach programs. The jury, comprising architect Leon Bridges, FAIA, NDC Executive Director Jennifer Goold, and Jessica Solomon, senior program officer of the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, highlighted the building’s engagement with the greater community as one of the primary reasons for awarding the prize. The Social Equity Design Award recognizes the current sea-change happening in architecture. More and more, professionals are beginning to question how and why projects are recognized and celebrated. Every prize stirs up debate about the purpose of the professional the values and behaviors we want to uphold as paragons of the profession. What is the purpose of architecture? What’s at stake? Who does it serve? In the case of the Dorothy I. Height Elementary School, that answer is clear: it serves the community of West Baltimore.
Placeholder Alt Text

15 Years of The Architect's Newspaper

A brief history of architecture in the 21st century
To celebrate our 15th anniversary, we looked back through the archives for our favorite moments since we started. We found stories that aged well (and some that didn’t), as well as a wide range of interviews, editorials, and other articles that we feel contributed to the broader conversation. We also took a closer look at the most memorable tributes to those we lost, and heard from editors past and present about their time here. Check out this history of architecture in the 21st century through the headlines of The Architect's Newspaper:

2003

Protest: Michael Sorkin on Ground Zero

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

Crit: AIA Convention (“No more weird architecture in Philadelphia”)
Crit: Spring Street Salt Shed (“In praise of the urban object”)
How institutionalized racism and housing policy segregated our cities
Chinatown residents protest de Blasio rezoning
Roche-Dinkeloo’s Ambassador Grille receives landmark designation
Q&A: Jorge Otero-Pailos: Why the Met Breuer matters
Comment: Ronald Rael on the realities of the U.S.-Mexico border
Detroit Zoo penguin habitat opens
Chicago battles to keep Lucas Museum of Narrative Art from moving
Martino Stierli on the redesign of MoMA’s A+D galleries
WTC Oculus opens
Letter: Phyllis Lambert pleads for Four Seasons preservation
Q&A: Mabel Wilson
#NotmyAIA: Protests erupt over AIA's support of Trump
Snøhetta’s addition to SFMoMA opens
DS+R’s Vagelos Education Center opens
Baltimore’s Brutalist McKeldin Fountain pulverized

2017

Placeholder Alt Text

In Memoriam

Critic and historian Martin Filler remembers Robert Venturi
During my four decades as an architecture critic, I developed close personal relationships with several of my subjects, including Charles Moore and Frank Gehry, although, unsurprisingly, our dealings became far less amicable when my enthusiasm for their work waned. My longest direct connection to those I’ve written about has been with Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. But that intimate bond had both its rewards and perils, as I recalled after his death on September 18 at the age of ninety-three. Criticism of architecture is complicated in ways that differ significantly from other mediums. Authoritative evaluations require that you get inside the works in question to make a responsible judgment, especially in the case of private houses or other properties not open to the public. One must also have technical information in order to provide an accurate account of a building’s physical characteristics. An art critic may easily determine the dimensions and components of a painting by seeing it on a gallery wall, a theater or music critic by purchasing a ticket for a performance, or a book reviewer by obtaining a copy of the publication. But an architecture journalist had best be on speaking terms with his subjects, a lesson I repeatedly learned the hard way with Venturi and Scott Brown. Early in my career I wrote a puerile review of their Penn State Faculty Club (1974-1977) in State College, Pennsylvania. Today that article makes me cringe. In an attempt to shock, I called their charming homage to Shingle Style domesticity “a whorehouse without a second floor” because its upper-story fenestration was purely ornamental. Their jest was no crime, but I was trying to establish street cred as a tough critic. My crude epithet outraged the architects, of course, and I was in the doghouse for years afterward. Fortunately, Bob and Denise, as I came to know them, were very fond of Rosemarie Haag Bletter, the architectural historian who had been among the first academicians to include their work in college-level modern architecture courses in the 1960s. She would also become my future wife. After we married, I tried to make amends with the two architects, whose susceptibility to feeling wounded was exacerbated by their having lost numerous architectural competitions they deserved to win. To my relief, I eventually received a handwritten letter from Venturi in which he announced, with courtly formality, that because Rosemarie had accepted me in matrimony, they forgave my youthful indiscretion. However, the dangerous flip-side of being shunned by one’s critical subjects is becoming too close to them, and I admit that I gradually did cross the line into friendship with Bob and Denise. They were prominently featured in Michael Blackwood’s 1983 documentary film Beyond Utopia: Changing Attitudes in American Architecture, which Rosemarie and I wrote and for which we conducted the interviews. When we were guest curators for the Whitney Museum of American Art’s 1985 exhibition High Styles: Twentieth Century American Design, we recommended that they be hired to create the show’s installation; they were, and their work—a witty Pop mounting that reflected their love of the decorative arts—was widely admired. It was no surprise that around that time they were also designing equally delightful furniture for Knoll, china for Swid Powell, flatware for Reed and Barton, rugs for V’Soske, and even a cuckoo clock for Alessi. Still, there were risks. In 1991, having heard from the National Gallery’s board chairman, Jacob Rothschild, that Venturi and Scott Brown’s problem-plagued Sainsbury Wing was nearing completion, I gained access to the closed construction site on Trafalgar Square by posing as a member of the architects’ firm—hardhat, clipboard, and all. Exhilarated by the nearly finished project, I urged the magazine I worked for to run pre-completion photos of the new building in order to land a scoop. Breaking the press embargo caused an initial Venturi eruption—he concealed a volatile Italian temper beneath his buttoned-down Philadelphia preppiness. But after an interval I was absolved once more and the Sainsbury Wing is now justly considered their masterpiece. Thereafter, considering their advanced age and towering historical stature, I decided to write about them only when I had something positive to say. And I was delighted when I could praise without reservation a late-career gem, their Dumbarton Oaks Library of 2001-2005 in Washington, D.C., a veritable concerto in patterned brick, alive with architectural syncopation and functional logic. It would be my last review of their work to appear during his lifetime. He retired from practice in 2012, as Alzheimer’s disease sapped his formidable creative and intellectual powers, a loss all the more poignant because he was the most learned architect I’ve ever known. Bob’s funeral was held six days after his death, on a cool, overcast afternoon when some seventy family members, colleagues, friends, and caregivers gathered in Newtown Square, on the outskirts of Philadelphia, at the Willistown Friends Meeting, an eighteenth-century Quaker meetinghouse of exquisite rigor and simplicity. The tranquil, timeless setting—a rural scene of rolling hills and low fieldstone walls—seemed like an Andrew Wyeth painting come to life (the artist lived at Chadds Ford, fifteen miles to the southwest). It was hard to believe that one was still in the violent and hate-saturated America of 2018. Venturi’s parents, both from Italian Catholic families, converted first to Unitarian Universalism and then to Quakerism. Their only child took their faith’s precepts of nonviolence and pacifism seriously enough to become a conscientious objector during World War II and defined himself as “a proper Quaker” until the end of his life. The officiant at his ecumenical funeral was not, however, a Quaker elder, but rather Father John McNamee, a retired Roman Catholic priest with early ties to the Catholic Worker Movement and who was honored for his social activism in inner-city Philadelphia. He had also been responsible for overseeing the Venturi firm’s 1968 reconfiguration of St. Francis de Sales Church in Philadelphia, which was spurred by new liturgical practices advanced through the Second Vatican Council. As Father McNamee pointed out during the funeral service, Venturi’s respect for ordinary Americans’ values and aspirations remained paramount. The priest began by reading the Beatitudes, the very kernel of the Christian message, albeit one ignored by many present-day American Evangelicals, and then quoted Father Daniel Berrigan, the 1960’s Jesuit antiwar crusader. The ceremony featured two of Quakerism’s hallmarks: ten minutes of silence, followed by spontaneous contributions from congregants who spoke as the spirit moved them. The emotional highlight of the gathering came in a sequence of personal reminiscences by four home health-care aides who cared for Venturi during his final years. The crucial role that such unheralded heroes of everyday life play in our society has never been more immediately expressed nor as touchingly clear to me. And although each spoke separately, their shared sentiments resounded as if they were harmonizing soloists in a gospel choir. One of them, Pat Thompson, was too overcome to speak directly, so her heartfelt tribute was read by a colleague, Wanda Whittington. In their moving and funny anecdotes, Verna Wood and Carolyn Heller likewise told of growing to love their sometimes difficult but inevitably appreciative client. Several of them said that they had no idea at the outset of their service that Venturi was a world-renowned architect, and that although they came to appreciate his exceptional stature, it was the man, not the artist, they would miss most. This was the all-pervasive feeling in the room. After the eulogies, the mourners filed out to the cemetery, shaded by mature trees and dotted with low headstones of nearly identical design. After the squared-off, unfinished wood coffin was lowered into the grave, Venturi and Scott Brown’s only child, the urban planner and documentary filmmaker James Venturi, laid a homemade wreath of laurel leaves next to the grave; the victor’s laurels with a down-to-earth ethos.
Placeholder Alt Text

In Memoriam

Remembering engineer Robert Silman, 1935-2018
“Hidden in plain sight,” describes the legacy of the beloved structural engineer, Robert Silman, who died at age 83 on July 31. The great landmarks he renewed, along with the new ones he realized, prove this point, from Carnegie Hall, the Guggenheim Museum, and Fallingwater to the Polshek Partnership’s Weill Recital Hall, Renzo Piano’s Whitney Museum, and Freelon Adjaye Bond’s National Museum of African American History & Culture. Working until just a few weeks before losing his long battle with cancer, Silman communicated through intuitive problem solving, enriched by a lifelong curiosity about the creative intent of his colleagues as well as his forebears, whose accomplishments could only stand with his benevolent intervention. His engineering always deferred to the original intent of the architects he worked with, either in person or posthumously. Mr. Silman’s career as practitioner, educator, and advocate inspired thousands of students and young professionals across two generations and set a standard of engineering excellence that merged scientific knowledge with social need. What distinguished Silman, especially in the realm of preservation architecture, was a determination to go beyond the mandated assumptions of stability and safety by introducing an innovative elegance marrying new technologies with historic form. His solutions attest to a poetry of invisibility—a symbiosis of means and methods that defined new possibilities and set professional precedents. Right to the last, he taught a course at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design called “The Philosophy of Technology,” imbuing a spirit of inquiry best sustained by a broad cultural awareness and willingness to innovate in the face of restrictive axioms. When at Silman's urging, architect Annabelle Radcliffe-Trenner was brought on as a young consultant by the Hillier Group in 1996 to renovate the notoriously complex, leaky roof of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Racine, Wisconsin, Wingspread, she describes it as a time when “shoving in steel” was the common engineering contingency. Silman instead “turned to the nascent art of computer modeling, using data from an exacting load analysis to solve the problem in a bold new way.” Instead of ill-suited roofers, boat builders banded sheets of carbon fiber, used before then only on ships and jets, around the replacement roof. She added, “He made connections between both people and ideas with a generosity of spirit that inspired all of us working alongside [him]. As with so many others, he set my career in motion and did so at a time when opportunities for women practitioners were still limited.” After studying architecture at Cornell and at NYU graduate school, Silman worked entry-level jobs at Ammann & Whitney, Ove Arup & Partners, and Severud Associates before founding his namesake firm in 1966, a year after the passage of New York’s landmarks law. Jobs on early preservation efforts that were too small for big competitors led to a lifetime of civic engagement and advocacy, even at times when such work might be at odds with the more lucrative prospects of demolition and new construction. Just two years later, the 1968 advent of Beyer Blinder Belle spawned a bond, now in its 50th year. Jack Beyer conveys his loss: “We called ourselves the ‘Four Brothers,’ as Bob demonstrated from the start his peerless skill at weaving strict systems into the historic fabric of landmark buildings. Thanks to his conceptual thinking and capacity to listen even to those with little of use to say, he was never intimidated by existing conditions.” Beyer continued, “Bob and I served as volunteer advisers to the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust, where he figured out how to rebuild and seismically stabilize its great 16th-century wooden pagoda temples. Without reimagining their un-mortared brick foundations, any aboveground restoration work would have failed. His impact was global.” Anthony C. Wood, founder and chair of the New York Preservation Archive Project, recalled, “Whenever preservationists were confronted with a building that opponents said was too far gone to save, the ‘go to’ person to call for structural help was Bob Silman. Generously responding to such calls, he could work his magic to find a way to save the day.” For 11-year Silman Associate Justin Den Herder, “Bob reinforced the importance of all the arts. He was a design-minded collaborator because he was genuinely in love with architecture. He was an effective communicator because he was passionate about literature. He even kept a poster of Gustav Mahler over his desk that likely informed his work at Carnegie Hall, where the German maestro conducted his final concert in 1911 just a few months before his death. No doubt Mahler approved the results of Bob’s graceful hand.”