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The proposal, however, was recently rejected by the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, the organization that currently owns the island, stating that the move could negatively affect the site's historical presence. “When we were set up 20 years ago,” Joseph Carrozzi, chairman of the trust, told the Art Newspaper, “the concept of the trust was to protect, rehabilitate and preserve the historical sites. We want the government to say the trust should have an ongoing role in managing these sites because they are unique. We want all the assets to be fundamentally community assets, and (used) for the purpose of telling the story of Australia in a very specific way[...] rather than a commercialized enterprise.”The island is currently locked in an ongoing tension between its historic past and its potential future as a haven for contemporary art. At the very least, Cockatoo Island will continue its participation in the Biennale of Sydney, including its 22nd iteration taking place throughout the city starting March 14.
A Monumental Exhibition
Solo exhibition at ICA Philadelphia explores our link to monuments
Gio Ponti gets a loving retrospective at the MAXXI
“Giò Ponti was not loved by the Italian progressive and modernist vanguard because he had pursued a third, moderate, bourgeois and decorative way for his modern architecture. In addition to this, his ambiguous closeness to Fascism had not been forgiven by characters such as Bruno Zevi and Ernesto Rogers and therefore his position was very isolated at the level of the Academy and cultural elite.”There is little question, today, however, that Gio Ponti’s body of work deserves another reevaluation, especially if we are also willing to recognize that such criticism also holds true for many star architectural practices that are considered at the top of their game today. Gio Ponti. Loving Architecture will be on display through April 13.
Tearing Down the Ceiling
A rarely-seen Noguchi installation is under threat in Midtown renovation
The Noguchi sculpture, now 63 years old, doesn’t reflect the artist’s original design intent, according to building’s developer Brookfield Properties. The building itself, designed by New York firm Carson & Lundin, has been subject to multiple controversial ownership changes over its lifespan and several serious renovations, the first of which included the lobby and lower floors in 1998. During that $20 million project, it was also anticipated that the Noguchi sculpture would be removed, but the building's owner, Sumitomo Realty & Development, instead rehabilitated the piece and restored the waterfall mentioned above. That wasn’t the last time the artwork was in danger. Before the 2008 recession, Kushner Properties purchased 666 Fifth Avenue in a move to re-establish itself post-family scandal and, years later before Brookfield bought the building, Kushner planned to redevelop the entire site into a 1,400-foot supertall designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. Brookfield’s aim, like so many developers before it, is to make the building continuously profitable. To do so, the company announced a $400 million renovation project last fall which will not only revamp the internal lobby, but also its public appearance. KPF has proposed replacing the building’s thick aluminum skin with a custom glass curtain wall, as well as adding four outdoor terraces for tenants to use during the warmer months. The renderings, released last October, reveal drastic changes to the six-decade-old structure, as Brookfield intends to reposition it as coveted office space in busy Midtown with sweeping views of the city. Internally, KPF plans to upgrade the lobby with amenity and retail space, while also knocking out the columns that previously shortened floor heights and blocked access to daylight. New double-height ceilings and interconnected floors will allow companies to easily maneuver through multiple stories. The new rent for the building, which is now valued at $1.29 billion, will be among the most expensive in New York. While many of the changes described here seem promising (including the fact that the building’s iconic name will be changed to 660 Fifth Avenue), the Noguchi problem remains. Brookfield now holds a 99-year lease on the tower and its vision for a modern Midtown lobby doesn’t include the artwork. It determined that the late ’90s renovation, which deconstructed the original lobby’s marble floors and walls, destroyed the integrity of the sculpture’s preservation. But a board member of Docomomo’s New York/Tri-State chapter told The Times that the sculpture is as good as it’s going to get: “You already have this strong, creative treatment of the walls and the ceiling and you can’t expect to come up with something nearly as artistically effective again,” said John Morris Dixon. “Why risk it when you’ve got it already? The lobby is a great asset that gives a high degree of individuality to the building.” Brookfield and KPF plan to complete the entire renovation by 2023. Representatives of the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum said that it will do everything possible to make sure the artwork is still there when all is said and done.View this post on Instagram