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Obligatory Akira Reference

The Japan Society bridges Olympic games past and future at Made in Tokyo
Fifty years of change can totally transform any city and nowhere is that more evident than Tokyo, a mega-metropolis that’s constantly redefining itself. Made in Tokyo: Architecture and Living, 1964/2020 at the Japan Society in Manhattan makes the comparison between where Tokyo has been and where it’s going stark, easy to understand, and perhaps, hopeful. With the 2020 Summer Olympics fast approaching, Made in Tokyo—curated by Momoyo Kaijima and Yoshiharu Tsukamoto of Atelier Bow-Wow with Japan Society gallery director Yukie Kamiya—presents the Tokyo of 1964 and 2020 side-by-side to examine how the city has evolved and where it could go in the future. Historical changes in Tokyo’s architecture are inextricably linked with its political, economic, and social fortunes and the exhibition uses the 1964-through-2020 timeline to tease out the way these factors have shaped the city. Tokyo is rife for densification and because of that, new typologies make the most use of vertical space. At an October 11th talk at the Japan Society, Kaijima and Tsukamoto pointed to a driving school on top of a grocery store as just one way the city fosters the combination of disparate ideas. Made in Tokyo spotlights the city’s versatility and how the past and forthcoming Olympic games have and will affect six public and private architectural categories: stadium, station, retail, capsule, office, and home. The Japan Society and Atelier Bow-Wow have assembled an impressive collection of materials drawn from public and private archives, as well as from over 30 architectural studios. That includes two central, stadium-shaped enclosures featuring materials from the 1964 and 2020 games assembled around each for easy wayfinding; a life-sized segment from a capsule hotel, helpful for providing scale to those who have never been to one; archival drawings; photographs and architectural models by Kenzo Tange and Kengo Kuma; video fly-throughs; and a virtual tour of exemplary Tokyo projects lead by Atelier Bow-Wow. “In the 1960s—15 years after the end of World War II, Japan grew with great productivity and enthusiasm,” said Atelier Bow-Wow in a press release, “various urban institutions were created and young architects were allowed to creatively contribute to diverse architectural designs. Now, in contrast to those times, there is an incentive for large capital and organization towards mass-redevelopment. Through this tremendous turnover of city spaces and transitions of urban institutions we will showcase the evolution of life in the city of Tokyo.” Made in Tokyo will run through January 26, 2020, and will be accompanied by a host of lectures, film screenings, discussions, and art performances.
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Breaking the Bronze Ceiling

Women's suffrage statue finally approved for Centennial unveiling
The final design has been approved for Central Park’s first statue honoring real women. A six-year effort spearheaded by the non-profit Monumental Women has resulted in a composition depicting women’s rights pioneers Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton gathered around a table drafting a document. The statue will be unveiled on August 26, 2020, celebrating the centennial of the 19th amendment which gave women the right to vote. “With this statue, we are finally breaking the bronze ceiling,” said Pam Elam, president of Monumental Women in a press release. “It’s fitting that the first statue of real women in Central Park depicts three New York women who dedicated their lives to fighting for women’s rights.”  The 166-year-old park is a tourist mecca in the center of Manhattan, attracting 42 million visitors each year. But amidst the foreign war heroes, presidents, and animals erected in marble and bronze around the park, not one has ever been a named female. Only the fictional Alice in Wonderland boasts her own statue. Monumental Women began its work on securing a site and design for the women's suffrage statue back in 2014, identifying Central Park’s Literary Walk as an ideal and fitting location for a statement on women’s contributions to New York City and the United States at large. The non-profit has collected over $1.5 million in funds for the statue and has support from local community boards, other non-profit arts commissions, and gender equality activists. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer has also been an instrumental figure since the beginning, declaring this week when the final design was revealed a "monumental moment."  Renowned sculptor Meredith Bergmann, who will tackle the historic project, has been working with Monumental Women to edit the design over the last few months. The process of approvals has been difficult and the initial versions of the statue have drawn immense criticism. But the project has also generated discourse on the historic trends and precedents for public sculpture. Historically, only men have been granted permission to exist in the public realm, to be seen and heard. Women were relegated to the domestic sphere and left out of politics—notabley voting—which is strongly connected to the NYC Public Design Commission’s decision to unveil the statue on the centennial of this event. Throughout the entire United States, there are fewer than 400 statues of real women, excluding representations of metaphor, myth or ‘type’ models. It’s about time that women get their spot on a pedestal to celebrate real, tangible achievements that changed the course of the country’s history. The Bergmann statue is one step closer to bridging the gap and gives the millions of girls who visit Central Park a figure to physically and figuratively look up to.
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Future Is Now

Aesthetic of Prosthetics compares computer-enhanced design practices
How has contemporary architecture and culture been shaped by our access to digital tools, technologies, and computational devices? This was the central question of Aesthetics of Prosthetics, the Pratt Institute Department of Architecture’s first alumni-run exhibition curated by recent alumni and current students Ceren Arslan, Alican Taylan, Can Imamoglu and Irmak Ciftci. The exhibition, which closed last week, took place at Siegel Gallery in Brooklyn. The curatorial team, made up of current students and recent alumni, staged an open call for submissions that addressed the ubiquity of “prosthetic intelligence” in how we interact with and design the built environment. “We define prosthetic intelligence as any device or tool that enhances our mental environment as opposed to our physical environment," read the curatorial statement. "Here is the simplest everyday example: When at a restaurant with friends, you reach out to your smartphone to do an online search for a reference to further the conversation, you use prosthetic intelligence." As none of the works shown have actually been built, the pieces experimented with the possibilities for representation and fabrication that “prosthetic intelligence” allows. The selected submissions used a range of technologies and methods including photography, digital collage, AI technology, digital modeling, and virtual reality The abundant access to data and its role in shaping architecture and aesthetics was a pervasive theme among the show's participants. Ceren Arslan's Los Angeles, for instance, used photo collage and editing to compile internet-sourced images that create an imaginary, yet believable streetscape. Others speculated about data visualization when drawings are increasingly expected to be read by not only humans, but machines and AI intelligence, as in Brandon Wetzel's deep data drawing.

"The work shown at the exhibition, rather than serving as a speculative criticism pointing out towards a techno-fetishist paradigm, tries to act as recording device to capture a moment in architectural discourse. Both the excitement and skepticism around the presented methodologies are due to the fact that they are yet to come to fruition as built projects," said the curators in a statement. 

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Art-chitecture

Artists take on space and sound at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis
St. Louis, Missouri, is having a cultural moment. Architecture-related arts projects abound, meaning artists are taking serious note of how structure and spaces might inspire their work. In the Pulitzer Arts Foundation’s Tadao Ando-designed building, Turner Prize-winning Scottish artist Susan Philipsz has responded to the building itself. Commissioned for the Foundation's water court, Too Much I Once Lamented, 2019 features five speakers playing the artist’s sung rendition of a 1622 ballad by composter Thomas Tomkins. It's a response to the acoustics found in the space's hard and liquid surfaces. Philipsz, who specializes in sound installations that transform space into “immersive environments of architecture and song,” utilized reflection and projection for this site-specific work. Also on display at the Foundation is Zarina: Atlas of Her World, created by the Indian-American artist Zarina who wanted to be an architect but instead studied mathematics and printmaking. Now 82-years old, she draws inspiration from her childhood during and after Partition, the 1947 division of British India into the independent states of India and Pakistan. The idea of displacement and the notion of home, together with her interest in modernism, abstraction, and geometry, can be seen in Home Is a Foreign Place (1999). In this piece, Zarina features 36 woodcuts that each evoke architectural spaces (Threshold, Door, and Courtyard). A grid of arches in Zarina's Shadow House I, 2008 recalls domestic spaces and jalis, the ubiquitous Indian architectural stone screens. Pool II, 1980, a paper sculpture, “hints at the architecture of her homeland, including courtyards, arches, and stepwells.” Delhi, 2000 is a three-part work showing the city in plan and section. Across the street from the Ando building on an empty lot, the Foundation has commissioned Park-Like by landscaper designer Chris Carl of Studio Land Arts. Coming next spring, the lot will turn into a sustainable rain garden, plant installation, and public space—a piece of infrastructure for biodiversity. The site was bulldozed to create two hills and during excavation, building fragments were unearthed and incorporated into the design. When it opens, thick black mulch necklaces will snake across the paths as native and non-native plants and flowers carpet spaces for walking, seating, and playing. Studio Land Arts, a Granite City, Illinois-based firm, sits just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. It's a steel-manufacturing town founded in 1896 that's had a mini-revival in the last decade, though it still suffers from poverty. Newfound enthusiasm in the area has made Granite City a ripe location for creative placemaking. Groups like Granite City Art and Design District (G-CADD), founded by a trained urban planner who helps microfinance creative spaces, are doing big things. G-CADD's current New American Gardening project turns vacant lots and post-industrial land into art pieces like Slot Lot, a sculptural reassembly of a parking lot with excavated rectangles reassembled in asphalt stacks. Similar to Park-Like, Slot Lot's success is predicated upon the transformation of mundane, everyday spaces that, when paid attention to, become community cornerstones.
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OSX Glasgow

A Charles Rennie Mackintosh show charts the evolution of the Glasgow Style
Scotland’s most important architect and designer was Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868–1928). In Nikolaus Pevsner's 1936 book Pioneers of the Modern Movement, he called Mackintosh “the European counterpart of Frank Lloyd Wright” and a forerunner of Le Corbusier. Like Wright, Mackintosh designed not only buildings but also their furnishings and fixtures. A new exhibition, Designing the New: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style, marks the 150th anniversary of his birth has just opened at Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum. It’s the largest show about the Glasgow Style, one that grew from Mackintosh and his contemporaries at the Glasgow School from the 1890s to 1914, that has ever come to the United States. Many of the 165 objects have never been seen here before. The exhibit draws on the Glasgow Museums collection, with loans from other institutions and private collections. The exhibit’s purpose is to "put Mackintosh in context," said curator Alison Brown of the Glasgow Museums. The Glasgow Style was not just Mackintosh “but a big body of people,” she emphasized, including many other architects and designers. Prominent among them were his friend James MacNair, MacNair’s wife Margaret Macdonald, and Macdonald’s sister, Frances, who was Mackintosh’s wife. Glasgow is “the only city in Britain that created its own version of Art Nouveau,” Brown said. The Glasgow Style was a rejection of historical styles. The bold and distinctive forms were “controversial at the time,” pointed out Brown. She noted that one of the Glasgow Museums’ tour guides often compares the Glasgow Style to the punk rock movement, seeing them as equally radical. The exhibition's designers wanted to give viewers a better sense of the buildings referenced in the show. To that end, Designing the New has several videos of the style's buildings, including exterior details filmed by drones. One of the most detailed videos explores the inside and out of the 1897 Queen’s Cross Church in Glasgow, the only church Mackintosh designed. Another video highlights several buildings completed by Mackintosh’s contemporaries James Salmon Jr. and John Gaff Gillespie, who designed many Glasgow banks. While wall labels are important, visitors often skip them. To make the installation meaningful even for visitors who quickly pass through, Brown says the curators and designers chose and located objects “to make visual connections,” to highlight the relationships between them and the evolution of the Glasgow Style. The show delves into influences on Mackintosh’s early career, including a major cultural exchange between Glasgow and Japan in 1878 that brought Japanese art to the city, and his trip to Italy in 1891. Another influence on the evolution of the Glasgow Style was traditional Celtic culture, which was enjoying a revival during Mackintosh's lifetime. Later in his career, Mackintosh visited Vienna and was influenced by the Vienna Secession. The square motifs often used in Vienna Secession designs began to appear in his furniture, and Machintosh's work also become more streamlined and “more intense,” said Brown. Some of his work prefigures the Art Deco movement. Countless people with no interest in architecture and design have been exposed to Mackintosh—Brown said his work seems to fascinate film and TV designers. Two high-backed chairs in Designing the New have been reproduced many times. A chair he created for the Argyle Street Tea Room (1898) appeared in films such as Blade Runner, The Addams Family, Doctor Who” and Madonna’s video for the song “Express Yourself.” A chair he designed for Hill House (1905) was in the film American Psycho and an episode of the TV show Babylon 5. Designing the New: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style runs at the Walters through January 5, 2020. It will be at the Frist Art Museum, Nashville, June 26 to September 27, 2020; the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, St. Petersburg, Florida, October 29, 2020, to January 24, 2021; and the Richard H. Driehaus Museum, Chicago, February 27 to May 23, 2021. The exhibit is organized by the American Federation of Arts and the Glasgow Museums. In Baltimore, the Glasgow exhibit is accompanied by From Mucha to Morris: Books of the Art Nouveau, which features 12 books designed by William Morris, Alphonse Mucha, Aubrey Beardsley, and others, drawn from the Walters’ collection.
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Freedom of Expression

Is Torkwase Dyson's abstract recount of racial violence a missed opportunity?
Torkwase Dyson’s 1919: Black Water, on display at Columbia GSAPP’s Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery through December 14th, is an inscrutable meditation on an incident of racial violence that took place in Chicago on a hot summer’s day in July 1919: the killing of a black 17-year-old named Eugene Williams on a Lake Michigan beachfront by a white man throwing rocks. Represented in the form of abstract paintings, geometric sculptures, and ink drawings, Williams’ story becomes a framing narrative for Dyson’s installations, which combine expressionist, minimalist, process art, and postminimalist elements in the manner of Mark Rothko, Dan Graham, Theaster Gates, or Nari Ward. Dyson describes her projects as “spatial systems that build upon the architectural typologies that people have used to liberate themselves.” But this is not social practice art or urban interventionism. There’s no evident intention to interact with or build a community, educate a group, or communicate a didactic message. As the accompanying exhibition pamphlet discusses in an engaging conversation with architectural historian Mabel O. Wilson, the works are at least partly meant to function as abstract ciphers for the re-imagination of architectural space through black experience. Deciphering that code for practical uses might require an advanced Ivy League degree. Dyson tends to fixate on sites of trauma in black history, seeking the potential for liberation within spaces that otherwise appear to lack all potential for agency: Henry “Box” Brown, who freed himself from enslavement by having himself mailed in a crate to the north, or Samuel Osborne, a janitor at Colby College who earned the school’s dedication by exemplifying an upright moral code. In the case of 1919: Black Water, the redemption emerges from an experience of pleasure-seeking and invention turned tragic: the fabrication of a boat to create a group space of joy, interrupted by racial violence. The story behind the show is compelling. In the summer of 1919, Eugene Williams and his friends had constructed a makeshift raft to carry them to a small island on the shores of Lake Michigan near 25th Street, in between the two unofficially segregated sides of the waterfront. There they were free to swim and play away from the crowds. It was a summer of heightened racial tension: The black population had more than doubled in Chicago during the preceding decade—the beginning of the Great Migration of six million African-Americans from the south. Competition for jobs had intensified at the nearby stockyards at the end of World War I and white supremacists had been increasingly fomenting hatred. The teens had apparently got caught in the middle, accidentally crossing an invisible boundary between the informally segregated areas. A group of white men began throwing rocks at them; as Williams ducked in the water and resurfaced, he was hit in the head, going under and drowning. The police neglected to arrest the rock-thrower, instead arresting a black man following a complaint by a white person. An explosion of violence ensued. In the following week, police killed seven black men; mobs and individual gunmen murdered 16 blacks and 15 whites; more than 500 others suffered from injuries; mobs burned more than 1,000 black families out of their homes. A mass of black string congealed with black acrylic hangs on a wooden bar against a blue background with a geometric abstraction above (Pilot), possibly invoking a blue sky mingling with its reflection in the water, a raft floating on top, a black body bleeding from the head, and maybe, sinking below. Thick black acrylic paint and graphite on canvases suggest a line of polluted water (Just Above and Just Below; Place, Raft, and Drift), and slices of brass bisecting canvases evoke segregated division of space, the surface of the water, and the horizon (Plantationocene; Being-Seeing-Drifting). A few geometric figures appear on canvases that resemble towers or antennae (Hot Cold; Extraction Abstracting). On the gallery floor, shiny black plexiglass tetrahedrons with voids on some sides (Black Shoreline) reference the reflection of the water, which gain energy from the presence of gallery visitors. The absence of figurative representations of Williams, the raft, or the crowds after the drowning—though historical images do appear in the catalog—recalls the protest a few years ago of Dana Schutz’s Open Casket at the Whitney Biennial. Schutz had portrayed the open casket of Emmett Till, a young black teen lynched in an incident of racial terror. His mother insisted on an open casket so everyone could see what was done to her son, producing a shocking image of brutality that spurred the civil rights movement. Did it do violence to his memory to represent his broken body? Was Schutz making common cause or exploiting Till’s suffering? In this case, the inverse question might apply: why isn’t Williams represented more powerfully rather than rendered in abstraction? Is it a missed opportunity not to deploy figurative tools to animate Williams’ story, bring it to light, propel it into the present, deploy it to inform policies, use it for more than personal expression? Or is the freedom to be a black expressionist a worthy end in itself, our desire to see his body exploitative, and art that exhorts politically tedious and doomed to failure anyway? “These systems also consider infrastructure and the environment to create a visual amalgamation that recognizes the ways that black people move through, inhabit, cleave and form space,” Dyson is cited as saying the catalog, describing her nomenclature of representation as “black compositional thought.” Often Dyson uses dancers accompanying installations to animate them with exuberant gestures, and the presence of performers might make this rhetoric seem less overblown. If these works constitute a kind of expressive freedom grounded in black narrative and experience, they operate within the exclusive prison-house of the institutional contemporary art and academic architecture world, its markets, nonprofits, grants, and formalist language games. It’s a project worthy of poststructural critique to seek liberation even within the most repressive situations. As with the collapse of the New Museum’s Ideas City program in the Bronx, it can be challenging to reconcile the sustained intellectual discourse with the urgent, viscerally felt problems of the world: lack of control over space and governance, being unable to afford a place to live or to find adequately paid work, and abstract financial forces determining the fate of your community.
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Drawing Attention

How are architects drawing in the world of digital culture?
We have a lot to thank computers for; the laptop I typed this article on can execute millions of instructions every second. This is a number us humans can’t comprehend, but thankfully, computers can. Computers have changed the way we see and interact with the world around us: able to connect people across the globe and able to optimize oil extraction from prime sites decided through digital derivation. Those most grateful for our microprocessor-driven overlords should be architects: they may romanticize the analog medium of sketching, but the truth is every building constructed today is “drawn” up using a computer at some point and the computer allows them to conceive every shape and size imaginable. Depending on who you ask, this has either saved or ruined architecture, and this friction is acknowledged in Drawing Attention, currently on show at the Roca Gallery in West London, where drawings from 70 participants are on display. Drawing digitally is now part of the process of design, something historian Mario Carpo describes as the digital turn in architecture. Drawing Attention, curated by Jeremy Ficca, Amy Kulper, and Grace La, professors at Carnegie Mellon University, Rhode Island School of Design, and Harvard GSD respectively, attempts to unpack the manifestations of this and asks questions such as: Where does the advent of BIM (Building Information Modeling) leave 2D digital drawing? As evidenced in this exhibition, the second dimension is far from obsolete. In a post-digital age, and as digital representation techniques allow architects to obfuscate renderings and reality, we find these 2D drawings to be evermore abstract as they take on more artistic qualities, representing architectural ideas more so than buildings themselves. The 70 drawings are thematically displayed in the following categories: Drawing limits; Drawing omniscience; Drawing instrument; Drawing environments, and Drawing as world-making. In Drawing limits, architects like Zachary Tate Porter play with scale: his Topographic survey of two Sidewalk Holes in Downtown Los Angeles (see gallery above) is wonderfully ambiguous; the holes could easily be moon craters. “The digital model presents a crisis of scale,” he argued, and the scroll of a mouse facilitates a “seamless” and “disquieting” transition between scales. Architect Achim Menges, meanwhile, achieves ambiguity in a different way. An abstract view of his Bundesgartenschau Wood Pavilion celebrates the structure's parametric qualities, something which is fitting for the exhibition’s venue (the Roca Gallery was designed by Zaha Hadid). However, this view is a reminder of how alienating parametricism can be. Where Porter’s scale subversion was playful and called upon the viewer to interrogate a terrain they see every day but probably ignore, Menges’s drawing is devoid of any scalar reference; it could be any size—a daunting and maybe exciting prospect, but one thanks to Hadid, we’ve already experienced. Rightfully so, parametricism doesn't get much more of a look-in; but still many works on show exhibit the digital tropes from this period (fractals and excessive iteration) which is odd considering, by the exhibition's own definition, this is an examination of the contemporary. ‘Drawing as world-making’ showcases the industry’s biggest names. Jimenez Lai of Bureau Spectacular; Office Kersten Geers David Van Severen (KGDVS); Mark Smout, Laura Allan, Geoff Manaugh, and Tom de Paor are all on show. All exhibit interesting works though only KGDVS’s OFFICE 171 Crematorium from 2014 stands out, a hallmark of the post-digital ‘style’ pursued by other offices such as Point Supreme, Hesselbrand, and Fala Atelier, among others which aren’t part of the exhibition. Drawing Attention also partially highlights how architects are representing the environment. C. J. Lim of Studio8 Architects goes against the grain of using endless amounts of data to inform a drawing, instead opting for a tongue-in-cheek cartoonish depiction of the ocean littered with plastic bags with phrases like “recycle or die” written on them. Lim’s Ocean Cleaning falls under the ‘Drawing Environments’ section of the exhibition, which arguably misses a trick by omitting architects who are aggressively pursuing a more sustainable planet. As the academic Peter Buchanan argues, without the computer we could not grasp the complexities of climate change nor be able to design the built environment to ameliorate it. Where are the drawings that exhibit this way of thinking? We are in a climate crisis after all. That aside, there are some outstanding drawings on show: Sarah Wigglesworth’s The Disorder of the Dining Table is a classic—dating back to 1997—but always a joy to see and still relevant, as evidenced by James Michael Tate's development of this drawing for an architecture office showcased adjacent. Meanwhile, Maj Plemenitas’s MSFM — Territorial Printing with Ocean Currents riffs off graphic designer Peter Saville’s timeless work on Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures album cover. That work was informed by radio signals from a neutron star, whereas Plemenitas’ piece is derived from a simulation of the autonomous “production” of islands, seamounts and resilient shorelines. “Drawing is taking a line for a walk,” said artist Paul Klee in 1961. When he said this, he was invariably inferring a pen, pencil, or paintbrush being guided across a page by a human hand. Through drawing, architects conceive spaces and places; stage sets for the theater of life. British anthropologist Tim Ingold takes it a step further, proposing that life is carried out on such lines, not just within them. Today, however, algorithms, scripts, and strings of code are used to represent architecture, serving as more than architecture’s final form before the hand-over to contractors and builders—the people that make architecture manifest in physical, tangible reality. However, contractors and builders will never use the drawings exhibited in Drawing Attention, for drawing digitally is not just a means to an end, like it was before Carpo’s “digital turn”, defined by him as a period between 1992–2012. We’re now well beyond that and Drawing Attention gives us a glimpse of our post-digital trajectory.
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Prismatic Modernism

Gerard & Kelly draped Villa Savoye in flesh to explore modernism's sensuality
Multidisciplinary artists Gerard & Kelly’s Modern Living is a dance performance that has been presented in a series of famous modern houses, including Philip Johnson’s Glass House, the Schindler House, and Mies Van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House. This dance troupe cavorts through the spaces of each house to explore, in their words “intimacy and domestic space within legacies of modernist architecture.” There is additionally an emphasis on an exploration of “queer space,” where voyeurism and exhibitionism are uncovered through the interaction between the dancers through the transparency of the rooms they explore. The latest incarnation of Modern Living ran from September 28 through October 6 in Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, completed in 1930 in Poissy, a suburb of Paris. Probably his most famous house, at the time it was an astoundingly radical image of a floating white pavilion elevated on thin columns above the flat lawn below. It is shocking even now, and reminds us of Frank Lloyd Wright’s comment that “human houses should not be like boxes blazing in the sun.” It was a complete rejection of all things Beaux Arts and classical. Where a house was rooted firmly on the ground, this modernist villa hovered above; in place of small windows punched into a wall, it had a continuous horizontal strip of glass; where a gable roof would provide shelter, there is a flat roof terrace of paving and plants. Compared to the excessive ornament of the Beaux Arts, and even contemporary Art Deco interiors such as that of Robert Mallet-Stevens, the Villa Savoye is abstract and stripped bare. The walls are stucco, the only ornament is the occasional highlight of a deeply saturated painted color—architecture is reduced to space, form, and light, the house is essentially as “naked” as the Greek ruins that Le Corbusier admired. Villa Savoye first appeared in Le Corbusier’s’ Complete Works in grainy black and white photos, with barely any furniture inside. The Savoye family only lived there briefly, complaining that it leaked and was uninhabitable. The interior was seen briefly in a black and white film by Pierre Chenal in 1930 along with other Le Corbusier houses and his urban plan for Paris. It was occupied by the Germans, then the Americans in World War II, and was a derelict ruin used as hay barn until its restoration from 1985-97. Since then, it has been a mysteriously empty shell and absent of dance, even though Le Corbusier’s idea was that architecture is activated by the human presence in a “promenade architecturale,” as one walks through and around the forms and spaces of the house. In this sense, Gerard & Kelly have finally brought the Villa Savoye to life, in a choreographed work that is inspired in part by the purported affair of Le Corbusier with the singer and dance sensation of the 1920s Josephine Baker. Aboard an ocean liner from Buenos Aires to France, Le Corbusier met the black, American “chanteuse” who had performed in Paris and drew her nude. The Marilyn Monroe of the 1920s, Baker captivated the imagination of Adolf Loos as well, who designed a striped house for her on a corner in Paris, although there is no evidence she ever asked him to do so. Along with Cubism’s inspiration of African masks and culture as in Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, the perceived exoticism of Baker’s singing and dance had injected new life into these two uptight, polemical architects, certainly at odds with Le Corbusier’s Swiss Calvinist background. Baker went on to aid the French Resistance and became a Civil Rights activist, speaking at Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington. Taking Baker and Le Corbusier as a starting point, Gerard & Kelly’s six dancers glid, slid, sinuously snaked, and danced through the house, beginning at the entry, going up the ramp and spiral stair to the Grand Salon, then up the ramp to the roof terrace. Individually and together, singing and dancing to an insistent drumbeat, they joined to form a conga line through the master bedroom, then back down the ramp to the outside. Alongside the linear activity of the choreography, the dancers alternately formed pairs of male and female, black and white, gay and straight, gesturing to and intertwining with each other in intimate poses in relation to the internal architecture. They sporadically exposed various body parts, baring buttocks and breasts, draping themselves over the seductive curves of the spiral stair, and then outside on the roof terrace. The dance extracted the essence of the architecture as a magic box of possibility, where the audience and stage oscillate back and forth, creating an electrifying and exhilarating experience. Remarkably, at the end of the last performance, after the light rain stopped, a double rainbow emerged, a tribute not only to Gerard & Kelly’s multi-colored queer themes, but recalling da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, inscribed within the circle and square, the ultimate symbol of motion and stasis, and the harmony of architecture and humanity.  
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Jesus Walks

Kanye West's latest performance was filmed inside James Turrell’s Roden Crater
Though rapper Kanye West has continued to push his art into the visual field for the last few years, fans were still surprised last January to learn that he donated $10 million towards the completion of James Turrell's Roden Crater, a series of tunnels and experiential spaces burrowed into a dormant volcano in the painted deserts of northern Arizona. The project began in 1977 and has been in the works for so long that, in 2013, “Sooner or Later, Roden Crater” became its unofficial tagline. Though Roden Crater is not officially complete yet (due to a lack of funding), ARTnews announced that West had produced a film within the hollowed volcano this summer and it will soon be released through a collaboration with IMAX. Titled Jesus is King, the film documents one of West’s Sunday Service performances in the gospel tradition, set to the music of his eponymous album to be released sometime this year. A poster has also been released for the movie and it features Alpha (East) Tunnel, one of the ‘light tunnels’ within Roden Crater. On top of the $10 million he independently provided, West partnered with Arizona State University (ASU) to work towards accruing $200 million to put towards Roden Crater's completion within the next five years, $40 million of which has been raised to date. When finished, visitors will be able to explore the three mile-wide site’s 21 viewing spaces and six tunnels, all designed to align with celestial phenomena, for which Turrell consulted a number of noted astronomers—including E.C. Krupp, the current director of the Los Angeles Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, as well as the late Richard Walker, an Astronomer based in the nearby town of Flagstaff. Unfortunately, because the crater is unfinished, access to the public has been restricted and will likely remain that way until the project is complete. Until then, West’s film will likely provide substantial shots of the art bunker's interiors when presented in IMAX theatres starting October 25.
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Meditative Monuments

David Adjaye’s Ruby City is an imposing monument to art in southern Texas
Ruby City is an oddity. Sited in a formerly industrial zone south of Downtown San Antonio dotted with islands of gas stations and fast food signs, and abutting a neighborhood known for its artist community, the 14,000-square-foot contemporary art center designed by Adjaye Associates is, by nature of its history, location, and design, a study in contradictions. In 2007, the late Linda Pace, daughter of salsa and hot sauce magnate David Pace, reached out to David Adjaye with a sketch of Ruby City, which she envisioned as a center to present her then 500-piece-strong art collection to the public. An artist herself, Pace would draw her dreams after waking up and have these sketches fabricated into sculptures (the institution's inaugural exhibition includes a work by Pace that renders the word STAY in fake blue flowers). Pace’s idea for Ruby City came during one of these nocturnal fantasias, when she envisaged a complex of towers and minarets in blazing red. Pace met Adjaye shortly before her death from breast cancer to discuss the project, and 12 years later, the building is finally opening. The result is far from a collection of windowless spires but is still, as Adjaye told Texas Monthly, “very shy.” On approach, my initial impression was of a thick-shelled aardvark or beetle, the building’s heavy stone massing and brilliant red color standing in stark contrast to the sea of parking lots nearby. The red, terrazzo-like concrete used to form the facade has been rightly celebrated by critics ahead of the building’s opening; the material was fabricated by Pretecsa, a company based outside of Mexico City, and is also strategically deployed in custom curbside bollards and benches in the sculpture garden. In person, its rich color is true to the photos. Despite the fortress-like street presence, Adjaye has tried to make Ruby City feel inviting. The way the entrance canopy gently lifts from the building and cantilevers over the plaza like the opening of a cave lends some much-needed lightness to the massing, a touch that’s mirrored on the reverse side, over the parking lot. Part of the inward-facing design is practical, as anything built in southern Texas must defer to the elements. To combat the harsh sun, two layers of curtains, one blackout and one shade, have been installed across the windows in all three of the building’s central gallery spaces; the building will be open only four days a week, with the blackout curtains otherwise drawn to protect the collection. Ruby-tinted steel grates, resembling crenelated brick from the ground, have been installed across every skylight to protect against monster hail. Once inside, it becomes clear that Adjaye Associates and executive architects Alamo Architects took great strides to enliven what could have become just another set of white-walled galleries. Flourishes abound. Pulls and fixtures were all designed in-house at Adjaye’s office, as were the molcajete- and metate-inspired benches and reception desk textured in rough, crinkled concrete. Faceted skylights brighten the steep, lengthy staircases, which are specifically designed to block the view of the second floor until visitors nearly reach the landings above. What at first seems to be a straightforward path through two extra-tall exhibition spaces (the third is currently ensconced in blue felt for an installation of Isaac Julien’s Stones Against Diamonds video, which will run for two years) actually meanders and reveals plenty of side passages and nooks with alternate views of the route just traveled. Similarly thoughtful, unexpected details are everywhere: an “eyelid” panel juts away from the building over a window on the second floor to direct views downward to the sculpture park; a conference room centered on a pair of doors taken from Pace’s bedroom is clad in timber; the adobe-colored concrete plaza extends inside to the reception area and into the elevator; a triangular cutout hidden in the overhang above the entrance looks to the sky but is only visible from directly below, Adjaye's James Turrell moment; a central gallery tall enough to comfortably, surprisingly, fit 16-foot-tall sculptures typically reserved for outdoor installation. These moves all spice up an interior that can still feel, at times, a bit too staid. There are now 900 drawings, paintings, videos, and mixed-media pieces in Ruby City’s collection, as the Linda Pace Foundation has combined its holdings with Pace’s personal acquisitions. Exhibitions will draw only from the permanent collection, and will likely rotate every two years, with the kickoff show, Waking Dream, presenting a twisted take on domesticity from international and local artists from the building's opening on October 13 through 2022. Combined with strategic views of Chris Park, a one-acre landscape of palm trees and bamboo groves down the street that is dedicated to Pace’s late son, from the double-height side corridor before entering the galleries proper, there’s enough discovery in both the art and the building to keep visitors coming back. In the end, the gestures add up, turning what could be a simple experience into something more multifaceted.
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Knoll Time Like the Present

Florence Knoll Bassett's private art collection is going to auction
The art collection of the late Florence Knoll Bassett, the American designer who pioneered mid-century furniture and interiors, will be sold at the auction house Phillips this fall. The collection will reveal how the designer who defined American corporate style during the postwar era decorated her own private homes in New York and Florida. The auction will take place on October 25 and November 14 and features 50 pieces from her collection.  Florence Knoll Bassett founded the self-named furniture company Knoll with her husband Hans Knoll in 1938, but was also the mastermind behind many of the company's iconic pieces. She studied under some of the most prominent modernist architects including Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius, and Marcel Breuer. The close association with the Bauhaus can also be seen in her interiors that dominated the American postwar corporate landscape, with IBM, GM, and CBS included in the roster of Knoll clients.  While Knoll's designs have become ubiquitous across offices and homes, the art collection offers a more intimate look at the late designer's personal life. Like the midcentury modern furniture she became known for, Knoll’s art collection is steeped with the abstract works of her artist peers and friends. According to The New York Times, some of the pieces that can be expected at the auction include Paul Klee’s Der Exkaiser, Rufino Tamayo’s Five Slices of Watermelon, and Morris Louis’s Singing. The private collection features an all-star lineup, including artists Josef Albers, Isamu Noguchi, and Pablo Picasso.  Coincidentally, the tail-end of the Knoll Bassett auction will coincide with the auction of I.M. Pei's collection—the architect passed away at a similar 102 this year, and Christie's will be handling the sale of items from his estate.
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AN selects seven more upcoming exhibitions you shouldn’t miss
It’s that time again! AN has rounded up another list of the top architecture, design, and art exhibitions open or opening over the next couple of months. The exhibitions below dive into the lives of lesser-known figures in architecture, uncover hidden histories and explore the importance of identity and place. Check them out below: Revealing Presence: Women in Architecture at the University of Illinois, 1874-2019 Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 500 East Peabody Drive Champaign, IL 61820 September 26 through October 12, 2019 Mary Louisa Page was the first woman to earn an architecture degree in the United States in 1878 from the University of Illinois—the school offered its first architecture course ten years prior. Revealing Presence showcases the breadth of work that women have contributed to the built environment through a chronological presentation of historical data and images. Spanning the course of 145 years, the show reveals the growing representation of women in the architectural profession over time through the inclusion of a timeline illustrating the increasing number of female faculty and students at the University. Women currently comprise over 40 percent of architecture graduates.  Marc Yankus: New York Unseen ClampArt 247 West 29th Street Ground Floor New York, NY 10001 October 3 through November 16, 2019 Marc Yankus is a New York-based photographer with over 40 years of experience capturing historic buildings, streetscapes, and abstract compositions found when one looks closely at the built environment. In his sixth solo show at ClampArt, Yankus exhibits a series of photographs that continue his investigation into the buildings of New York City. Through his expert use of Photoshop, the artist removes all of the distractions that come with urban life—traffic, pedestrians, and noise—providing a glimpse into a New York “unseen.” The result is a collection of prominent city buildings seemingly frozen in time.  Housing Density: From Tenements to Towers  The Skyscraper Museum 39 Battery Place New York, NY 10280 On view through December 2019 This new exhibition at the Skyscraper Museum takes a look at the history of residential development in New York City throughout the twentieth century. By examining the approaches to private, public, or publicly-assisted housing, the guest curators Nicholas Dagen Bloom and Matthias Altwicker aim to sort out the different meanings of density over time and how they have shaped the ways residents live in the city today.  Given contemporary debates on infilling NYCHA projects and up-zoning neighborhoods, the exhibition hopes to inform some of these discussions by offering a clear illustration of urban density through historical projects. Some of the projects examined include models of communities such as Tudor City and London Terrace, early NYCHA projects such as the Queensbridge Houses, and large-scale postwar projects such as Stuyvesant Town. Resident Alien: Austrian Architects in America Austrian Cultural Forum New York 11 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022 September 25 through February 17, 2020 Curated by Stephen Phillips and Axel Schmitzberger, Resident Alien, explores the cultural contributions of Austrian-American architects on modern, postmodern, and digital design culture over the past century. The exhibition is organized into five form-driven categories—Cloud Structures, Aggregate Self-assemblies, Media Atmospheres, Primitive Domains, and Urban Terrestrials—as a way to investigate how bicultural heritage has informed formal, technological, and psychoanalytic architectural discourses. Architects and designers that will be featured include Rudolph Schindler, Victor Gruen, Hans Hollein, Coop Himmelb(l)au, and Frederick Kiesler, among 27 others.  Lucy Sparrow’s Delicatessen on 6th Rockefeller Center 45 Rockefeller Plaza New York, NY 10111 October 1-20, 2019 Presented in partnership with Art Production Fund as part of the “Art in Focus” Public Art Program, Lucy Sparrow’s interactive installation is opening at Rockefeller Center this week. The British artist has become well known for her felt art pieces and this exhibition marks the sixth installation in her felt shop series. The installation is set to resemble a New York City “upscale deli” with every item—from chocolate to fruit, cheese and fish—all handmade out of felt. All of the items in the fine food shop will also be available for purchase.  Off the Wall: Harold Mendez The Raymond and Susan Brochstein Pavilion at Rice University 61 Main Street Houston, TX 77005 September 21 through August 24, 2020 Rice University’s Public Art series “Off The Wall” has commissioned a series of site-specific installations by recent graduates of the Core Residency Program at the Glassell School of Art. Each installation is scheduled to be on view for a year on the south wall of the Raymond and Susan Brochstein Pavilion, a modern structure designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners. The inaugural artist in the series is Harold Mendez, an artist whose work integrates photography and sculpture as a way to explore identity, place, and geography.  Mendez received his MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago and has since been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, MoMA, and the Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia, among others. Entre Deux Actes (Ménage à Quatres) 1014 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10028 November 6-8 at 7:00 PM November 9-10 at 5:00 PM Co-commissioned by Performa and 1013 and co-produced with The Kitchen, this collaboration between artist Nairy Baghramian and choreographer Maria Hassabi will be inhabiting a Fifth Avenue townhouse for five nights this November. The building, originally built in 1906, will serve as the stage for an intimate performance that takes cues from the qualities of the domestic environment. The work aims to "probe the interplay of architecture and gender while teasing out fantasies," according to The Kitchen.