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At the moment

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

FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art reveals 2021 details
FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art has announced the theme and artistic team for the sophomore edition, which will run from July 17 through October 2, 2021. Entitled Oh, Gods of Dust and Rainbows, the exhibitions will showcase contemporary works from local and international artists across the Northeastern Ohio cities of Cleveland, Akron, and Oberlin. The theme of FRONT 2021 will focus on modes of collective healing and agency in the regional context of Cleveland’s complex industrial history. Through environmental degradation and hazards to economic transformation and precarity, FRONT 2021 will approach art as a way for a community to reckon with its own changing social landscape.  The exhibition takes its name from a poem by Langston Hughes, who spent his formative years in Cleveland: 
Two Somewhat Different Epigrams (1957) I Oh, God of dust and rainbows, help us see That without dust the rainbow would not be. II I look with awe upon the human race And God, who sometimes spits right in its face.
“This poem, a meditation on adversity and a prayer for transformation, inspires FRONT 2021’s curatorial approach. The exhibition’s title extends Hughes’ original invocation to signal a plurality of beliefs, stories, places, and people,” said the artistic team in a statement announcing the launch of the 2021 edition of FRONT. “FRONT 2021’s curatorial framework connects Cleveland’s storied past with a polyvocal present, exploring healing as an ongoing cycle of repair, spanning crisis and recovery. This approach treats the exhibition as a process of long-term change, embracing the region's range of cultures in need of attention, investigation, and care.”  The co-artistic directors are Prem Krishnamurthy, founding principle of Project Projects and director at Wkshps, and Tina Kukielski, executive director and chief curator of Art21, who will work in collaboration with the artistic team of Evelyn Burnett (ThirdSpace Action Lab, Cleveland), Courtenay Finn (MoCA Cleveland), Emily Liebert (Cleveland Museum of Art), Dushko Petrovich (SAIC New Arts Journalism, Chicago), Kameelah Janan Rasheed (artist, Brooklyn), Tereza Ruller (The Rodina, Amsterdam), and Murtaza Vali (independent curator, Brooklyn/Sharjah), as well as associate curator Meghana Karnik and curatorial assistant Lo Smith.  The artistic team has also revealed its first commission for the upcoming triennial, a public dance space in Akron designed by the Stockholm collective Dansbana!. With the success of FRONT's inaugural triennial in 2018, which included 120 international artists and over 90,000 visitors, expectations remain high for the upcoming edition. 
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No Man's (Secret) Sky

In rural Michigan, an ordinary barn becomes a secret gift to the sky
Tucked at the tip of Michigan’s thumb is artist and architect Catie Newell’s latest and largest triumph, Secret Sky, a barn that marks where the landscape meets the sky. Located in Kinde, Michigan, eight miles south of Lake Huron’s expanse, a nearly doomed barn has been regenerated as public art. Newell executes a singular move—a simple slice through the barn—to reveal the passage of time, like passing clouds or the sunset. Slowly the architecture is revealed, as shape, form, and silhouette. Most of Newell’s work can be characterized as installation art. At this smaller-than-building scale, Newell obsessed over delicacy and attenuation meeting lightness and darkness. An architect by training, her work is often positioned within existing spaces to capture a moment in time, no matter how ephemeral the work itself is. With Secret Sky, her most permanent piece yet, the work is no longer transitory and the architecture encapsulates the moment. Once there, from the top of the drive-in approach, the simplicity of the site becomes evident. The barn sits isolated, unaccompanied by a farmhouse or silo. The untouched gambrel silhouette reminds you of where you are: the middle of nowhere, the rural Midwest. It’s a peaceful setting and really quite inconspicuous until you see the splitting of the barn. The slice carves an elongated passage that frames the sky and allows light to pour through, marking where one space becomes two. Once again Newell offers something recognizable cast in a new light. The barn has been surrendered as a gift to the sky. The integrity of the barn remains; the slice itself seems original to the 100-year-old structure. To create the inverted walls of the slice and patch the facades, Newell salvaged wood from a barn down the road that had blown over during Secret Sky's construction. She meticulously adjusted each board on-site to be just right, creating near-perfect seams and points, and evenly distributing qualities like knots, wood grain, and coloring to assure continuity. Although Newell is accustomed to working with robots as the Director of the Master of Science in Digital and Material Technologies at the University of Michigan, for this piece, Newell relied on intuition and hands-on precision rather than computation to achieve fidelity. A lot of work in the project went to modifying existing conditions like the foundation and the crumbling structure. The slope of the new, angled walls required experienced engineering with the help of John Gruber of Sheppard Engineering based in Troy, Michigan. Newell herself relaid the framing alongside countless volunteers day in and day out. Considering the barn no longer services large animals and or stores farm equipment, much of the structural detailing extends from a maximum 26 feet above to the dirt ground, taking up floor space. In 1955, the barn moved 300 feet south from its original location to a concrete foundation where columns were sat upon and the structure tied into. Secret Sky required removing part of the foundation and retransferring that structural load. With major beams cut away and a column removed, the repositioned structure now pins at ground level instead of up high for both the steel tension rods and the wooden compression members. The tension rods (for higher forces) pin to a concrete ballast 48 inches below ground, the same ballast the compression members pin to at grade. The final solution captures the forces the barn faces in its new configuration and wind loads. Here, Midwestern know-how has crafted a handsome assemblage that was finetuned for over two years until its completion. The north facade favors a grand view of the slice, as it stretches from an old barn door opening to a peak on the gambrel roof. When walking through the passage, a glimpse upward reveals the moment where the split occurs and another scene of the barn meeting the sky. The single-space barn has been reconfigured as a new enclosure. Though it has become two spaces, only the larger form is inhabitable. Where Newell’s earlier work referenced vanishing material and space, the permanence of Secret Sky challenges her work’s introversion at a greatly appreciated scale. The slice is oriented at an east-west angle, allowing the sunrise and sunset to pour in through the triangular frame. If you time it right, you can catch the sun blazing right in the middle. Solar panels on the roof (not yet installed) will power interior lighting to turn on at last light, illuminating the barn like a lantern glowing from within. Morning or evening, a golden glow will wash the grounds—the architecture as the lamp. Secret Sky was born out of a greater initiative to enliven derelict barns around the thumb, amping up tourism in the area through the arts. The barn was donated by the owner and commissioned by the Greater Port Austin Art & Placemaking. Secret Sky is the nonprofit’s third “barn art” project, adding to what could become a large sculpture garden sprinkled around the thumb of Michigan. Structural Engineer: John Gruber of Sheppard Engineering; Fabrication support and volunteer hours: etc Construction Services, Detroit.
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Cracking Up

Illinois State Capitol’s dome needs millions for repairs
A comprehensive inspection performed late last year by Chicago-based architecture and engineering firm Bailey Edward has found that the exterior metal skin of the 235-foot-tall dome topping the Illinois Statehouse in Springfield potentially needs to be replaced to stave off damage caused by active leaking. Per Capitol News Illinois, plastic sheeting is currently being used to guide rainwater and prevent leaks from entering the capitol’s magnificent stained glass inner dome and public areas of the structure. While the Statehouse has undergone several major renovations over the decades, including a $50 million overhaul in 2011, Bailey Edward noted that the dome itself has “been neglected, giving way to cracks and leaks.” The firm’s forthcoming report is set to “include a detailed and prioritized list of recommended corrections and repairs to guide the future preservation efforts of the Illinois State Capitol Dome.” Earlier restoration work performed on the nearly 93-foot-wide, 361-foot-tall dome’s protective metal shell was completed in 1975 for $950,000. Harl Ray, senior project manager for the secretary of state’s Department of Physical Services, anticipated that the cost to replace the faulty skin will range in the “ballpark of $5 million” based on the 1975 costs. This estimate is roughly $700,000 more than the initial cost of constructing the landmark Renaissance Revival capitol building in the first place, which first broke ground in 1868 and took 20 years to complete. Designed by Chicago-based Cochrane and Garnsey, the Illinois Statehouse’s soaring signature dome has helped the building achieve a notable claim to fame as the tallest classical-style state capitol in the United States at 361 feet (save for the 391-foot-tall Art Deco Nebraska Capitol). The Statehouse’s record-setting height seems appropriate given Illinois’ reputation for superlatively lanky buildings. In addition to a brand new metal skin, the study is also expected to recommend replacing the current flagpole atop the dome so that the process of raising and lowering the flag can be more streamlined—and less harrowing—for workers. “Our guys and gals are at great risk when they’re up there changing the flag. It might be zero wind down here, but up there it feels like 25 or so,” Mike Wojcik, director of Physical Services for the secretary of state’s office, told Capitol News Illinois. “We’ve been fortunate that we have volunteers that want to go up, but more and more, we have less and less people that are not too afraid to go up there.”
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Get Low, Low, Low

Chicago's Lakeview Low-Line makes infrastructure pop

Location: Chicago Design consultants: PORT Urbanism Decorative stone: Lake Street Supply Crushed granite pathway: Kafka Granite Planters: Planterworx Custom cubbies: Landscape Forms Light boxes: Landscape Forms Fixtures and fittings: Studio 431

PORT Urbanism designed Chicago’s Lakeview Low-Line to be a community art space. When the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce drafted its master plan in 2012, among its top priorities was developing the underutilized right-of-way and Chicago Transit Authority maintenance path along the city’s “L” tracks between the Southport and Paulina stations on the Brown Line. Working with the manufacturer Landscape Forms’ Studio 431, PORT created a series of bright yellow rectangular boxes, or “cubbies,” as a new take on public furnishing.

The carved-out forms of the Low-Line’s cubbies take cues from the interiors of the “L” train cars and the shape of the tracks overhead. The transit system had more than just an aesthetic influence; the cubbies needed to be movable for track repair and the possibility of excavation to rebuild the train structure’s column footings. The custom furniture rethinks durability, access, and comfort while accommodating a range of programs.

The Low-Line was designed to create a lively place for commuters, residents, and tourists to enjoy public art. It includes a picnic table, a vendor booth-cum-bar, and two cantilevered cubbies that frame the entry made of powder-coated steel exteriors and slatted ipe wood interiors. Power is integrated into the cubbies for controlled access by vendors and musicians. Studio 431 also manufactured easily replaceable panels and tamper-resistant fasteners to account for wear and tear. The first phase of the half-mile-long art walk and garden opened to the public in 2018 as a celebration of the neighborhood’s culture and is part of a larger project that aims to encourage use of the L and other mass transit lines as a sustainable alternative to driving.

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Pangea-chic

Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s $150 million expansion inches closer to completion
Back in June, DLR Group|Westlake Reed Leskosky was selected to design the next phases of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (CMNH) Centennial Transformation Project. The multiphase project was initiated over ten years ago and includes several phases of renovations, as well as a 50,000 square-foot addition for education and exhibition spaces.  The $150 million campaign to transform the museum’s entire campus is anticipated to be fully finished by 2026, but Phase 1 (Gateway) is gearing up for completion by December 2020, in time for the museum's centennial celebration. The new changes are expected to improve circulation, expand programming, and provide connections to the surrounding natural landscape. CMNH flanks the Doan Brook Watershed which flows to Lake Erie.  Inspired by the Museum’s commitment to sustainability, DLR Group|WRL’s design evokes the surrounding bodies of water through a continuous form that physically and visually ties the campus together. “DLR Group|WRL’s team was inspired by CMNH’s proximity to and relationship with the surrounding bodies of water,” said DLR Group|WRL senior principal Paul Westlake in a press release. “Our sustainable design concept is an ode to water as a life-giving source and a force that shapes the earth. It speaks to the museum’s significance as a pillar of science, education, research, conservation, and community engagement.”  The completion of Phase 1 will include renovations to the Murch Auditorium and Fawick Gallery, Kent H. Smith Environmental Courtyard, as well as a new Science News Station which will provide visitors with current information on local and global scientific discoveries. The renovations will also connect two previously remote entrances into one grand visitor’s hall.  Phase 2 of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History expansion is expected to break ground in 2021 and will welcome the additional two-story exhibition spaces which will include galleries, science studios, labs, museum gift shop, and cafe. Final phases are expected to be completed by 2026 and once complete, the museum will encompass nearly 300,000 square feet of space to house the museum's five million artifacts.
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Ganging Up

Studio Gang's Gia Biagi appointed as Chicago's new transportation chief
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has appointed Gia Biagi, an urban planner, civil servant, and principal of Studio Gang, to head up the city’s transportation department (CDOT). The decision comes seven months after the previous commissioner resigned ahead of Lightfoot’s inauguration in May.  Before joining Studio Gang in 2015 as the firm’s leader of urbanism and civic impact, Biagi served with the Chicago Park District from 2003 to 2015. During her last two years there, she served as the chief of staff. Biagi has also worked as a policy associate under former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daly after finishing her master’s in urban planning at the University of Illinois at Chicago “Gia’s expertise and years of on-the-ground experience make her the ideal choice to lead our ambitious agenda for CDOT through the coming decade,” said Mayor Lightfoot in a statement. “As we move ahead, I look forward to working side-by-side with Gia and the entire team at CDOT as we implement our vision for equitable, comprehensive urban planning, and transportation that supports every one of our residents, neighborhoods, and businesses, and helps our entire city thrive.”  According to the mayor’s office, Biagi will focus on improving traffic issues in downtown Chicago and tie in CDOT’s projects with other critical infrastructure projects such as affordable housing and the mayor’s INVEST South/West Initiative. It’s also likely that Biagi will be working with her former team at Studio Gang on the transit situation surrounding the O’Hare airport expansion “I am proud that Gia has answered the call to return to public service,” said Jeanne Gang, founding principal of Studio Gang, in a statement. “It is always rewarding to see the members of our team harness the skills they have cultivated in the studio to effect positive change in the world. Gia has been a critical partner in maturing the Studio’s unique approach to our urban scale work that emphasizes mutuality and equity. She remains part of the Studio Gang family, and I am confident that she will accomplish great things for our City.” Biagi’s nomination as CDOT commissioner may be confirmed by the City Council in a vote as early as next month. 
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MO-ving On Up

Kansas City will be the first major U.S. city to offer free public transit
Kansas City, Missouri, may become the first major U.S. city to offer fare-free public transit. While the light rail system (opened in 2016) was already free, the City Council voted unanimously on Thursday to also make the bus routes open and accessible to all as well. The city’s new mayor, Quinton Lucas, said in a tweet, “We want this city to be as efficient as possible...we want to make it a city where a pedestrian has an opportunity to get to where they need to go.” The change has been a priority for the mayor whose “Zero Fare Transit” proposal has since been endorsed by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) as a way of putting money back into the local economy.  Robbie Makinen, the head of the KCATA, estimated that 20 percent of bus riders already ride for free, as rides are offered to both veterans and high school students. For everyone else, fares are currently $1.50 per ride or $50 for a monthly pass. Makinen believes that making the entire system free would cost about $12 million a year, and the city council has approved $8 million for the project so far.  But the Kansas City metro area is large—seven counties and two states. The new system would only be applicable to buses originating and returning to Kansas City, Missouri, meaning residents could ride free in some areas but not in others.  U.S. cities offering free rides on certain lines or within certain areas are not new, but Kansas City would be the first to offer a universal system. Fourth District Councilman Eric Bunch, who co-sponsored the effort, said according to KCUR, “I don’t want to do it for any sort of national recognition, I want to do it because it’s the right thing to do, I believe that people have a right to move about this city.”
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Going, Going, Gone Green

2019 Best of Design Awards winners for Green Building
2019 Best of Design Award for Green Building: Galenas Medical Cannabis Cultivation Facility Designer: Urban Green Design Location: Akron, Ohio The Galenas Medical Cannabis Cultivation Facility is a pharmaceutical-grade environment that meets highly technical specifications and a holistic sustainable design that enhances its community. The structure emphasizes passive design, integrates all systems to maximize efficiencies, is designed to achieve LEED Platinum, and creates a renewable energy ready–facility that incorporates a full-roof photovoltaic array to achieve net-zero energy. Prefabricated construction and segmentation of the programmed spaces improve operational efficiencies and performance. The $3 million, 10,000-square-foot building provides a better quality product with greater yields, using 90 percent less water and 35 percent less energy than other cannabis facilities, while the aesthetics brand the facility as a flagship for the company. MEP Engineer: Engineered Building Systems Structural Engineer: Van Deurzen and Associates Civil Engineer: Infrastructure and Development Engineering General Contractor: Summit Construction Director of Cultivation: Alexander Jones Honorable Mentions Project Name: 370 Jay Street, New York University Designer: Mitchell Giurgola Project Name: Tree Pittsburgh Headquarters Designer: GBBN Editors' Picks Project Name: Greenport Passive House Designer: The Turett Collaborative Project Name: Marvin Gaye Recreation Center Designer: ISTUDIO Architects
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Propping it Up

Props breathes new life into Zaha Hadid's Contemporary Arts Center
Nearly two decades ago, Zaha Hadid's vision for a building that housed art, but more broadly worked to catalyze an urban redevelopment effort in Cincinnati, was to create a structure that made art accessible to the public. She delivered on her goal as a spatially complex series of stacked galleries piled up high over a tight infill site. Accentuated on the ground level by virtually no threshold between the city and institution, Hadid's Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) has since become defined by it's airy public lobby, an "urban carpet" that transitions seamlessly from sidewalk floor to gallery wall, and Corbusier-inspired stairways that form a vertical street, tapping into a set of galleries floating seemingly impossibly overhead. It is only fitting that a show like Props could emerge in a space that set out to reimagine the idea of what a white box gallery could be. Props is a set of eight experimental sculptures from architecture-trained mixed media artist Lauren Henkin, who has found new productive uses for underutilized space in the 16-year-old building. Her solo exhibition joins two other compatible shows concerned with spatial awareness: Confinement: Politics of Space and Bodies, and Cincinnati-based photographer Tom Schiff's Surrounded by Art. The trio of exhibitions will remain open through March 1, 2020. Steven Matijcio, former curator of the CAC, and the current director & chief curator at the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston curated the work. "Lauren [Henkin] and I wanted to challenge and expand the typical locations of artistic presentation at the CAC," said Matijcio. "By its very nature, Lauren's series of "Props" was meant to skew the habits, conventions, and assignments that coalesce in even the most avant-garde of structures." Each of Henkin's Props is assembled from an ad hoc material palette—concrete, PVC, wiring cable, plaster scraps, and so on. In one case, scrap wood was pulled from the CAC's basement and piles of debris discarded by installers of the concurrent exhibitions. The development of the work relied heavily on photographic documentation, drawing, and visits to the building. Henkin worked between her Maine-based studio, the CAC, and a nearby Kentucky-based fabrication studio. Props intentionally undermines the programming of the CAC's formal gallery spaces. Why have work in the gallery when it can exist outside of the gallery? Lacking any formalized infrastructure for art viewing (lights, art labels, etc.), the work feels at home amid and within the architecture of the building. The pieces dissolve into walls, hug corners, and playfully grow out from the floor. In this regard, the Props do not come off as menacing or insulting in any way. Instead, they feel like discreet, optimistically friendly characters, producing compelling moments of their own that stop us in our tracks. With no labels or signage, there seems to be a real possibility that some of these Props could be overlooked during de-installation and hang around the museum indefinitely. Henkin, whose background is in architecture, says movement is the organizational force underlying Props: "These pieces are meant to be viewed while in motion where the viewer is moving up and around the work." Henkin flips our traditional relationship to art: the work becomes static, while the viewer is set in motion. However, beyond Zaha's stair, Props can be spotted hiding out in spaces less trafficked, like the entrance to the fourth-floor women's restroom or a forgotten corner of a hall leading to a fire stair. Formalized art galleries offer no escape for visitors who become immediately incorporated into the spatial logic of the institution: you must walk up these stairs, and you must view the work in this order. Henkin, Matijcio, and co. offer an alternative to this. You inevitably pass Henkin's work, but it operates as a filter, or primer, for the other work in the galleries. "The element of play, whimsy, and revelry played an important role in the conception and execution of the project. Lauren's sculptural interventions in the CAC are meant to disorient and befuddle, and provoke," said Matijcio. "Some are imposing and seemingly precarious; others are quizzical and slightly comical. Each one is different, but the unifying thread was to reimagine the structure's non-gallery spaces as fertile terrain to reconsider and activate." While this iteration of Henkin's Props likely won't travel elsewhere due to its site-specificity, the show might still have a legacy. The problem that Henkin's show exposes is that austere, raw, underutilized display and circulation spaces of today's art museum do have the opportunity to be more critically used. What would it look like for an exhibition to spill out into these spaces? What trouble would this cause, between issues of security, lighting, and liability? However, what opportunities this could create, to reimagine the broader curatorial flow to the institution! Props beg us to consider and reinvent our normative, intuitive, choreographed movements through the museum, especially in Cincinnati, where 16 years of exhibitions have begun to familiarize and dull this incredibly significant architectural space. In an institution that prides itself as a "non-collecting" contemporary museum showing "work of the last five minutes," Props exist as a welcome sideshow to the CAC's ongoing spirited circus of traveling acts. Henkin reminds us that a white room can fit only so many paintings before overflowing.
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Propping it up

An architectural exhibition will dialogue with Zaha Hadid's first U.S. building
The first Zaha Hadid-designed building in the United States will host an exhibition that pays homage to the architect’s liberated geometric forms. Later this month, the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) will present its winter exhibition, Props, by mixed-media artist and trained architect Lauren Henkin. The CAC moved into its current home in 2003, centered around a spacious, multistory atrium that creates a sense of free circulation. In a 1998 profile of the museum as a work-in-progress, the Los Angeles Times remarked that “Hadid is erasing boundaries—between inside and out, between a controlled and private inner world and the chaotic energy of public life.” Hadid herself described the building as a “jigsaw puzzle” of exhibition spaces—connected by zig-zagging skywalk staircases, the CAC's layout allows for new modes of exhibiting artwork. Henkin will present a series of eight sculptures scattered throughout the museum, each engaging with site-specific elements of Hadid’s architecture. Props will utilize more than 3,300 cubic feet of “unintended” exhibition space, making use of spaces in the museum which have not been previously used to display artwork. “Hadid so often blurs the line between architecture, furniture, and landscape,” Henkin explained. “It was important to me to extend that uncertainty by pushing the boundaries of how we engage sculpture, while also upending common perceptions of how to experience art in a museum setting. In many cases, the way the ‘props’ are experienced is atypical, placed purposefully in circulation spaces where one can only see the work from above or below, or while climbing or descending stairs.” Along with the unconventional use of space, Henkin makes it clear that she does not consider the sculptures to be the main attraction. Rather than to evoke beauty, the sculptures are meant to serve as catalysts to get viewers thinking about Hadid’s built environment and one's place within it. Additionally, Props will pose important questions about the context of objects displayed in institutional settings, for in addition to the unusual placement of the works, some of which are comprised of objects found in the building’s utility closets. “We’ve all had the encounter of walking into a contemporary art space and wondering if something that looks ‘half-way’ is intentional art or just a chance clustering of items, a renovation on pause,” said Steven Matijcio, curator of Props. “Lauren mobilizes that idea to loosen the absolutes of Hadid’s geometry and materials, and to amplify to more porous and fluid dimensions of the building’s design.” Props will be on view from November 22 through March 1, 2020, at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati.
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Education Overhaul

Francisco Javier Rodríguez-Suárez named new director of University of Illinois's School of Architecture
It’s the end of the college semester and things are shaking up at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). After almost three years without a permanent director, and an interim one from the Department of English, the university’s College of Fine and Applied Arts announced that Francisco Javier Rodríguez-Suárez as the new official head of the School of Architecture. Set to take over in January of 2020, Rodríguez-Suárez will enter his post after coming off a long teaching stint at the University of Puerto Rico, where he’s served as a Distinguished Professor of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture since 2016. The architect, editor, speaker, and educator has an extensive background in both designing and teaching, having served as the school’s dean from 2007 to 2016 while building out his practice, rsvp architects, in San Juan.  Rodríguez-Suárez himself is a graduate of Georgia Tech and Harvard GSD, which he attended after studying a year at the Université de Paris. He’s held teaching positions at a wide range of universities including the University of Seville and the Universidad de Cantabria (both in Spain) as well as the Universidad de Los Andes in Colombia, and his alma mater, Harvard. In 2010, he was invited to explore the history of architecture and pedagogy as a visiting scholar at the American Academy in Rome. In a press release, Kevin Hamilton, dean of the UIUC College of Fine and Applied Arts, said it was Rodríguez-Suárez’s international experience and broad connections that stood out to the hiring committee the most. “In Francisco, we also have someone who brings deep knowledge and appreciation for our School of Architecture’s distinctive and historic record of accomplishment. Such as a combination of global and local perspectives will serve us well not only in architecture but across the college, helping us to deeper service to the state, the region, and beyond.” AN spoke with Rodríguez-Suárez in September when his third-year students in Puerto Rico drew attention for creating counter-proposals to New York’s planned Hurricane Maria memorial. The project was born from a class discussion on whether it was appropriate for such a memorial to be erected in the city, especially so soon after the hurricane. Rodríguez-Suárez told AN that the competition studio was arranged to help students learn the importance of architectural competitions and how to think critically and present strategic ideas.  While it’s unclear yet if and what classes Rodríguez-Suárez will teach in Illinois, he aims to encourage his students to take risks.  “There are kids all over the world studying to be architects, and what I’m saying is that we’re all inhabiting the same world, the same space, and there’s no reason why they couldn’t be the best in that group,” he told The Daily Illini. “And I will provide the confidence and the space and facilitate a platform for that to take place.” The change in directorship comes as the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is building a new design center by Bohlin Cywinski-Jackson.