Search results for "little rock"

Placeholder Alt Text

Digging Deeper

Amos Rex brings underground art and a lunar playscape to Helsinki
A pink gecko scuttles across a psychedelic digital landscape, deftly navigating a tangled maze of drifting butterflies, waddling alligators, and a pair of pensive whales passing below. Stepping on any creature will result in its explosive demise, yet simply navigating the trippy environment renders such destruction inevitable. This sort of high-tech super-nature is par for the course in Japanese art collective teamLab’s immersive exhibitions but a first for Helsinki, Finland—and Amos Rex, the new art museum hosting the group’s first show in the Nordic region. The five-year, $64-million Amos Rex project was carried out by local Finnish firm JKMM and supported largely by Konstsamfundet, the association behind the old Amos Rex Art Museum (RIP 1965–2017). The project involved both a $17-million facelift of Lasipalatsi, the "Glass Palace" built in central Helsinki in the 1930s by three Finnish architecture students for the 1940 Helsinki Olympics (which was postponed until 1952 due to the Second World War), as well as the construction of a new underground art museum particularly well-suited for new media and immersive installation art. Because Lasipalatsi was originally supposed to be temporary, its young designers received carte blanche, resulting in an ambitious Functionalist fun home that includes a cinema, restaurants, shops, and a backdoor public square surrounded by 19th-century neoclassical barracks. Almost destroyed in the 1980s but listed and restored in the 1990s when it reemerged with a glorious inner coat of pastels, the Glass Palace is a resilient building with a tumultuous past. JKMM have taken care to preserve much of this history, including its doors and windows, fitted furniture and movie seats, plus the first outdoor neon sign in Finland. The revitalized 550-seat art deco cinema and new film program will be the delight of many a cinephile, yet the most compelling aspect of Lasipalatsi—and where the old most energetically meets the new—is out back. Once the site of military parades, the historic public square has been transformed into a surreal lunar landscape, where a series of bulbous domes sporting large round windows now connects a veritable jungle gym of a plaza to an underground art hub. “I was sitting in a meeting a couple of weeks ago, when suddenly a man with a stroller appeared right outside the window of our second-floor office,” grins Timor Riitamaa, the head of communications and marketing at Amos Rex. “That was when I realized the park was open.” Positioned somewhere between alien topography and an ancient lifeform, the textured concrete playscape is a total hit in Helsinki. Sunbathers, selfie-snapping teens, Instagram influencers, romping children, and even daredevil parents can be seen ascending the five volcano-like protrusions to peer down into the subterranean art world below. Within the museum, sliding butts, squished noses and photography wars are now as common a view as the art, which unfurls in a columnless 24,000-square-foot gallery space. Building underground is never easy, and for JKMM it involved burrowing through nearly 140,000 square feet of hard bedrock found right underneath the city’s surface. Their approach was slow but steady—and went largely unnoticed. The square closed in 2015 so that the architects could carry out miniature controlled explosions, timed for every four minutes so the Helsinki Metro system could run undisturbed. It was a teeth-gritting exercise, but little of that angst can be felt from the ethereal white staircase connecting Lasipalatsi to the new museum lobby below. Descending the stairs, a generous view out onto the square framing Lasipalatsi’s old columns beside new sci-fi domes is swallowed up by a cloud of soft lighting. Designed by Finnish company Doctor Design, the textured ceiling of pleated fabric shades diffuses light through rows of flower-like pendants. Tightly bundled together in a way that floats between surrealism and Finnish National Romanticism, the lights are a clear nod to Lasipalatsi’s heritage. The ceiling flower field yields to two large tunnels ending in angled circular skylights that peer out onto the public plaza some 20 feet above. One offers a significant view out onto the staircase of the old theatre, while the second was framed by the tiny hands and faces of several miniature onlookers during my visit. Futuristic circular benches are positioned directly below, seemingly at the ready for sky-gazers. “We wanted the feeling of going underground to be as positive and light as possible,” says Kai Kartio, director of Amos Rex. “We had to go under, but our solution was to bring the museum upwards—you always have contact with daylight,” confirms Freja Stahlberg, the project architect. The extent of the sculptural skylights’ magnetic effect on the public square above was a delightful surprise for both architect and museum. Back below ground, Massless, the inaugural exhibition by teamLab, echoes the world-making imagination of the architects. Four immersive installations make full use of JKMM’s revolutionary modular museum layout, realized through an acoustic-disk ceiling made from perforated aluminum and a wooden gridded floor below which “data, air, and power all flow,” according to the architect. The museum’s high-tech fixtures meet their match in the 137 projectors, motion sensor technology, and eight miles of cables that make up teamLab’s digital multiverse. The exhibition consists of fan favorites like Graffiti Nature as well as Vortex of Light Particles, a site-specific piece that involves an inverted waterfall seemingly bent on sucking visitors into an Anish Kapoor-like black hole that inhabits the main domed ceiling. Vortex is clearly the stuff of tripping nerds’ dreams (it was a hit among Silicon Valley tech bros at Pace in Palo Alto), while its dark dreamscape subverts the light-filled expectations of Amos Rex, proving the museum’s versatility. “Virtual reality isolates you in a virtual space. We are trying to bring everyone back to a physical space,” said teamLab member Nonaka Kazumasa. While Massless uses digital technology to bring its viewers closer to nature and each other, Amos Rex performs the larger function of bringing untraditional art experiences to Helsinki’s public in a spatially-sensitive and cost-effective way. It is a cunning answer to the city's future urban development plan that prioritizes inner-city densification, but Amos Rex should also be seen as a testament to the merits of building deeper and the informal spaces for public play that can bubble up to the surface.
Placeholder Alt Text

Reservoir Dogs

The hidden story of water’s importance to Texas urbanism
As I drive down into the future lakebed, the terrain on either side of the gravel road becomes haggard and unkempt. Signs of the area’s past as farm and ranchland are evident, but shrubs and gnarled trees have grown high to create a deserted, post-apocalyptic landscape. This is the future site of Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir, a 16,600-acre lake soon to be constructed in rural Fannin County that will provide water to the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD), serving Dallas suburbs in Collin, Dallas, Kaufman, Rockwall, and Hunt Counties. This lake recently received its permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, making it the first major reservoir in Texas since Lake Gilmer was constructed in 1999. Reservoirs provide the majority of Texas’s drinking water. Texas has been building reservoirs since 1893 (Lake Austin), with the majority created in the 1940s through the 1960s. There are currently 188 in the state, according to the Texas State Historical Association. In the Dallas area, with the limited availability of river water and an aquifer too low to be practical on a large scale, reservoirs have been the main strategy for providing water to a growing region. During a recent visit to Bonham, the Fannin County seat and nearest town to the proposed lake, a passive acceptance of the forthcoming project was evident among a number of residents. There are those who oppose it, most notably the landowners whose land will soon be flooded. However, in rural unincorporated areas, there are few options for organized resistance when a powerful water authority decides to plant a reservoir in your backyard. Yet the impact on Fannin County extends beyond the boundaries of the lake itself. The NTMWD is required to mitigate the habitat destruction caused by the new reservoir by creating new habitat nearby. Thus, an area slightly larger than the reservoir has been purchased to this end. In total, 33,441 acres of private land has been appropriated from local landowners (5 percent of Fannin County). This situation in Fannin County magnifies a common but overlooked tension in the field. Despite the extreme impact, large-scale water infrastructure is strangely absent from the architectural conversation. Architects employ water conservation and collect stormwater at a building scale, but, like most, take the availability of water for granted. They know their project simply has to tap into the existing water main in the adjacent street. Yet the construction of buildings is an extremely water-intensive process, regardless of the water-efficient fixtures they specify. A significant amount of water is used during the production of concrete, with yet more added at the building site. To complete the curing process, concrete requires approximately one pound of water for every three pounds of concrete. Unfortunately, little data is available for water use in construction sites in the U.S. Furthermore, under current infrastructural constraints, cities have no capacity to provide the resources for their own sustenance. Most cities do not generate power or harvest their drinking water within their boundaries. In light of this, cities can be seen as having a parasitic relationship with their surrounding rural areas. The ugly and unpleasant realities of power generation are located far out of sight of the cities themselves, and the inundation of private land for drinking water is undertaken in rural areas because, after all, they have plenty of land. This leeching of resources from the countryside enables cities to exist, but it is a reality that the design profession should begin to address. In February 2018, the residents of the NTMWD used an average of just under 3,000 gallons per capita. A few months earlier, in August 2017, the water use was approximately 6,200 gallons per capita, which equates to 200 gallons per day per resident. Watering St. Augustine lawns accounts for much of that summertime use in this suburban water district. While the NTMWD champions the new reservoir as critical to its supplies, it will only meet the demand for the year 2022 through 2040, a span of 18 years. At that point, additional reservoirs will be required. While Texas is a large state, land is still a finite resource, and new prime reservoir locations are very limited. Climate change also poses problems for the continued reliance on reservoirs. Record-breaking drought in 2011 meant nearly all the reservoirs were significantly below capacity, with some municipalities enacting mandatory water conservation measures. Future droughts will be harsher, posing severe challenges to water provision. As architects strive to address the challenges of building in our current environment, a knowledge of the complex and connected relationship of water to development and construction is important. Architects and planners, water officials, and more will need to be creative in solving the complex problem of providing water to future populations. While American cities have not yet had to deal with the scale of catastrophic water shortage that occurred in Cape Town, South Africa, it should give us all pause as a similar situation in North Texas is quite possible.
Placeholder Alt Text

Grapefruit-Chic

David Adjaye realizes a ruby-red museum in San Antonio, Texas
In 2007 the late artist and philanthropist Linda Pace—of Pace jarred salsa fame—had a vision of a ruby-tinted arts city come to her in a dream. The city, as Pace dreamed it, would become a rough outline for the 14,000-square-foot Adjaye Associates–designed museum complex that will house her foundation’s art collection in San Antonio. Pace passed away in 2007; more than ten years later, her vision is being brought to life bit by bit, an endeavor that is currently in full swing ahead of the building’s projected 2019 opening date. The $16 million dream is being translated into reality by architect David Adjaye and an international network of local architects, contractors, and fabricators who have made plans for a precast concrete panel citadel situated on the Texas plain. There, folded concrete surfaces and expanses of brut walls will house the 800 or so artworks collected by Pace and her namesake foundation. The pink complex is built out of a special concrete and aggregate mix crafted by fabricators across the border in Mexico that will result in a gleaming, rosy edifice. As explained by Mike McGlone, principal at Alamo Architects, the executive architect for the project, most colored concrete starts out in either gray, beige, or white tones, with pigments added incrementally to tint the mixture to the desired color. But ruby red pigment is a particularly difficult hue to achieve. For one, pigment can only be added little by little, resulting in a blended appearance that can appear muddled when combined with cement’s natural coloring. The process is made more difficult by the inherent structural requirements of the materials involved—the more pigment is added, the less resilient the final product—so while Pace’s dream called for a vibrant, beet juice–colored edifice, tests using traditional methods yielded less spectacular results. That was the case until designers began looking south of the border, where concrete fabricators Pretecsa can produce concrete panels made with red rock aggregate and red sand taken from local quarries. There, instead of starting with beige or gray bases, the fabricators begin with white concrete and add colored materials and tints to change the hue of the mix from inside-out. The fabricators include materials such as recycled red glass and mica in the mix to boost coloration, while also creating a glittering finished surface that will reflect sunlight throughout the day. Adjaye’s designs call for a collection of open galleries topped by a pair of sculptural light cannons that will bring light into the building. The complex will make use of several different concrete panel types, including rough surfaces that will line the upper sections of the building to better reflect the sun. Lower sections will be smooth to the touch, with a three-sided forecourt wrapping a sculpture terrace that features sandblasted surfaces. The folded concrete panel structure will also use cementitious panels along its roof, a system that will be supported below by a secondary weather-proof roofing system located directly below the outermost concrete layer. The complex is expected to be completed in late 2018 and will open to the public in 2019.
Placeholder Alt Text

Office Cultured

A new wave of social and relaxation spaces bridges the gap between work and home
As anyone used to late-night emails knows, the nine-to-five workday is a thing of the past. But while innovative companies have traded cubicles for open, flexible office plans, people are seeking even more elastic social spaces that foster wellness and connection—both in the office and out. Consider them an updated version of the "third space," common areas where people go to unplug, reenergize, and decompress. "When we first got involved in workplace in the '90s, our interest was, ‘How can design contribute to creative communities?’" said architect Clive Wilkinson, whose Los Angeles firm has designed the interiors of the Googleplex campus and offices for other leaders in tech and media. "We were in a prehistoric era when cubicle farms still ruled. We’ve come so far since then," he continued, citing the shift from the afterthought coffee rooms of the 1980s to the "Starbucks workplace" of today’s laptops-and-lattes company cafes. "A large part of the social space in the workplace today is somewhere between a boutique hotel and your home," Wilkinson explained. "Depending on the type of client, it can go more one direction or the other." The aesthetic shift is due in part to the influence of designers like Philippe Starck, whose hospitality designs brought a glamorized domestic environment into public spaces, but it’s also a result of the premium put on today’s knowledge workers, noted Wilkinson, who is writing a history of offices tentatively titled The Theater of Work (Frame Publishers). In one of his firm’s current projects, a new headquarters for Utah bedding-manufacturing company Malouf, an entire building will be designated for nonwork areas, including an Olympic-size swimming pool, barbershop, and spa. It’s not just in the office where people are feeling the change in work culture. "There’s a real flattening now between what is considered work with a capital ‘W’ and all the other side projects that people are interested in," said Richard McConkey, an associate director at Universal Design Studio (UDS). "There's not such a clear division between work, home, life, cultural projects, and hobbies anymore; that's why all these multifunctional spaces are occurring." UDS has developed on a number of projects that blur the lines of live-work-play, including MINI Living, the car brand’s Shanghai entry into the coliving concept of small private spaces surrounding shared semipublic spaces. But the UDS project that perhaps best represents the growing thirst for gathering is London’s Ace Hotel, the lobby of which has been called one of the city’s most popular coworking spots, although it isn’t officially one at all. Ian Schrager’s Public hotel in New York is similar in attracting nonguests to spend their days there, usually with laptop or phone in hand, even during off-business hours. "The classic 'third space' is between work and home,” said architect Melissa Hanley, cofounder, CEO, and principal of San Francisco architecture and interior design firm Blitz. "I think of it as, ‘Where’s the place I naturally gravitate to, because I feel best there?’ That can be a pub or a coffee shop; it could be the decompression or ramping-up zone." To bring that energy back to the workplace, Hanley’s firm has created game rooms and social hubs—it even has a speakeasy in the works for a client. But while the ping-pong tables of the past may have been a distraction, today’s game rooms, cafes, and bars are reflections of a company mission. “Work is happening even in these ancillary spaces. These third spaces we're creating are in support of the company’s bottom line," Hanley said. So what advice would she give to a prospective client? "There's just such an incredible amount of data in support of creating more human-centered spaces in the workplace—the benefits are innumerable." That’s why, from Silicon Valley to Shanghai, there’s a new crop of businesses catering to the need for a retreat somewhere between work and home. Beyond the traditional barbershop, clubhouse, or nail salon, these next-gen spaces tap into the growing wellness trend: Chillhouse, a monthly membership spa in New York, offers massages and manicures in an Instagram-friendly space focused on self-care; Nap York allows visitors to catch a snooze on an Airweave mattress for $10 a half hour. Then there’s Calm City, the roving meditation studio in a renovated RV, founded by Kristin Westbrook. An avid meditator who had trouble finding a private place at her hectic Rockefeller Center office, Westbrook was inspired by the food truck trend to create an oasis of calm for stressed-out New Yorkers located just outside their offices. "I've always wanted a Superman’s phone booth on every corner, a pod that you could go jump in and be transformed," Westbrook said. That break can be a crucial antidote to the stresses of the day. "Human beings are social creatures, and with many of us working longer hours and living alone in large cities, the feelings of loneliness are certainly very real and powerful," wrote Anita Cheung, cofounder of Moment Meditation, a modern mindfulness club in Downtown Vancouver, B.C., in an email to AN. "Membership in a club and a consistent (and manageable) schedule of activities outside of the ‘nine to five’ allow people to develop other facets of their lives beyond who they are at work, as well as instill a greater sense of community." That’s part of the mission of the Battery, a private member’s club in San Francisco that has taken a cue from the social clubs of the past to create a place for connection and conversation—no business or tech talk allowed. "We try to provide a little bit of an escape from your day-to-day operations," said founder Michael Birch, whether it's a moment for a cocktail, a pause between meetings, or just a place for serendipitous conversation. To facilitate that human connection, designer Ken Fulk imagined the interiors as sumptuous settings for the club’s wide range of programming and events—a mix of large, high-energy spaces to be around people, and smaller, more intimate groupings. "I think people are seeking real connection again," Birch said. "People have disappeared a little bit onto the online world. We very much discourage technology use in the club: We don’t allow people to have laptops out after 6 p.m., we don’t allow photos, and we don’t allow people to talk on their telephone other than inside a telephone booth." The relationship between work and life can be even more blurred in spaces that blend the two like never before. Take New York coliving and coworking space The Assemblage, which has two addresses in Manhattan (and a third on the way), as well as The Sanctuary, a retreat center outside Bethel, New York, near the site of the 1969 Woodstock festival. Though workspace is at the core of The Assemblage's offerings, the company encourages members to get out of their offices and connect over communal breakfasts and lunches. It also features "intention altars" and offers wellness programming like meditation, breathwork, and yoga, "all under one roof, so that individuals can experience this fluid living/working and balanced lifestyle," wrote Magdalena Sartori, the company’s chief creative officer. "Erasing that distinction between work and life empowers individuals to create their own schedule and lifestyle," she added. But as we trade the typical greige workplace environment for a more holistic, humanistic approach, are we simply going farther down a work-obsessed rabbit hole from which you can never clock out? When even the workplace pretends to be a third space, one filled with simulacra of the outside world, are we worse off than we were before? Maybe not. If the offices from the Industrial Revolution to the year 2000 were "rehistoric," as Clive Wilkinson put it, how will people look back at the way we work today—with increasing flexibility to break away from our desks—100 years from now? "They’ll think that we woke up, that suddenly this was the beginning of a work age," Wilkinson said of the turn away from military- or factory-inspired workspaces. "We’re almost at the place now where we’ll remain stable for the next 100 or 200 years, because I think humans have finally understood how communities work in a workplace, how they need to support each other and communicate.”
Placeholder Alt Text

In Memoriam

Anthony Bourdain, 1956-2018, was a budding developer and an astute observer of the urban condition

Anthony Bourdain was a culinary maverick, gifted writer, engaging TV host and, as one Vassar College graduate put it, “a foodie who wasn’t insufferable.”

He was also a budding developer, sophisticated architecture patron and astute observer of the urban condition.

Bourdain, who took his own life last week in France, was well known for his writing about the restaurant industry, including his bestseller, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, and his television shows that explored the people, places and cuisines of faraway cultures, most recently Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown on CNN.

He also had a vision of building a global food market for New York City, a place that would feature 100 vendors from around the world serving the fare they know best, including “hawker food” as found in Thailand and South America. inspired by a food hall in Singapore

Inspired by a food hall in Singapore, Bourdain Market was going to be the retail anchor for the redevelopment of Pier 57 off West 15th Street in Chelsea, with Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors as designer of the food market. Announced in 2014, the 155,000-square-foot project would have been a food lovers’ paradise, the culmination of everything Bourdain gleaned from his world travels.

Bourdain got far enough in the design stage to reveal enticing renderings of his proposed food emporium, with a farmer’s market, Asian-style night market, bakery, oyster bar and beer garden on the roof.

But he ran into problems getting the project off the ground and disclosed last December that it wasn’t going to happen at that location. One problem was obtaining visas for all the people from other countries needed to bring the market to life. Bourdain also said Pier 57 was a complicated site and that he never had a lease with the developers.

“Launching what is admittedly a very ambitious venture has proven to be challenging at every turn,” he said in a statement obtained by Eater NY. “It seems increasingly clear that in spite of my best efforts, the stars may not align at Pier 57.” Google now leases the one-time ocean liner pier.

Bourdain said in his statement last December that he still hoped to carry out the project elsewhere in New York City, as long it’s true to his vision.

“I promised a certain kind of market to New Yorkers and to potential vendors, and if that vision becomes clouded, diluted or compromised, it is no longer something that our city needs,” he stated. “I remain hopeful that New York will someday have such a market – I still passionately wish to create this resource that New Yorkers deserve.”

On Friday, the founders of Roman and Williams, Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, expressed sorrow about Bourdain’s passing.

“We are deeply sadden[ed]] and heartbroken by the loss of our dear friend and collaborator Tony,” they wrote in their Roman and Williams Guild page on Facebook. “He pushed the limit with everything he did and taught us to open our hearts to new adventures, human connections and explore the unknown. A true pioneer and culinary innovator. We are blessed for the time we had with him.”

Their message was one of many ways people reacted to the news of Bourdain’s death in a hotel room at age 61. In New York, mourners created impromptu memorials with flowers and notes outside two now-closed locations of Brasserie Les Halles, where he once worked. On Amazon, sales of Bourdain’s books skyrocketed. At least two restaurants announced plans to raise money to aid suicide prevention programs, in Bourdain’s memory.

 

In their tributes, more than a few fans referred to Bourdain’s role as an urban raconteur, highlighting the places where people come together to enjoy food and each other’s company.

“He taught us about food—but most importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown,” tweeted former President Barack Obama, who had noodles and beer with Bourdain during a Parts Unknown episode filmed in Hanoi.

“He brought the world into our homes and inspired so many people to explore cultures and cities through their food,” tweeted celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.

“I watched his show when I was in space,” recalled astronaut Scott Kelly. “It made me feel more connected to the planet, its people and cultures…He inspired me to see the world up close.”

In his TV programs, Bourdain didn’t just feature the restaurants catering to rich people. He sought out places that serve everyday fare for the masses—pizza and hotdogs in Chicago, falafel in Dearborn, lake trout in Baltimore. He went to depressed areas so he could look at the underbelly of cities, just like he wrote about the underbelly of the restaurant world. Along the way, he shared his opinions about what keeps cities alive, and what doesn’t.

One of Bourdain’s most memorable programs was a No Reservations episode for The Travel Channel called “The Rust Belt,” which he also referred to as “The Fucked Up Cities Show.” In it, he visited three downtrodden cities, Buffalo, Detroit and Baltimore, to see what lessons they hold.

“I think that troubled cities often tragically misinterpret what’s coolest about themselves,” he wrote on his blog afterwards. “They scramble for cure-alls, something that will 'attract business,' always one convention center, one pedestrian mall or restaurant district away from revival. They miss their biggest, best and probably most marketable asset: their unique and slightly off-center character.”

He was big on travel. “If I am an advocate for anything, it is to move,” he said. “As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes, or at least eat their food.”

Bourdain was reportedly working on a documentary about Detroit when he died. He admired the resilience of its residents working to recover from hard times, and he wondered what that recovery might look like. He was a champion of authenticity in a world consumed by fads.

“One only need look at New York’s Lower East Side, or Meat District, to see what’s possibly coming down the pike for Detroit when it inevitably 'recovers.' What’s coming down the pike for all of us,” he blogged in 2013.

“Empty lots and burned out buildings are bad. But are cupcake shops, galleries and artisanal baristas necessarily better? Maybe, probably, but maybe not. And we better ask ourselves if that’s what we want.”

Bourdain’s writing was full of caveats like that. He didn’t have all the answers. And he never got to open his global food market. But he left behind a body of work—and a legion of fans and collaborators—that make it possible to see what’s most promising about cities, and how to capitalize on them.

Placeholder Alt Text

Retro Future

studioSTIGSGAARD designs a “25th century” space for Rammellzee retrospective
Rammellzee (1960–2010), a seminal New York artist, is finally getting his due with the expansive and explosive two-floor retrospective RAMMΣLLZΣΣ: Racing for Thunder at Red Bull Arts New York. The celebration of this multi-hyphenate artist, writer, and musician is no staid, white cube exhibition. The paintings, sculptures, videos, drawings, and ephemera that comprise the exhibition are brought to life in a deservedly elaborate space designed by studioSTIGSGAARD, helmed by its namesake architect Martin Stigsgaard, also of Voorsanger Architects. Though perhaps no longer as well-known as some of his contemporaries, Rammellzee was certainly renowned in the downtown scene in the 1980s and 90s. Referred to as the “King of the A Line” for his tagging chops during his early street art days, he collaborated with the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat (who designed the album art for one of his music releases) and appeared in numerous films, including Jim Jarmusch’s cult classic Stranger than Paradise (1984). At the peak of his notoriety and commercial success, Rammellzee rejected art world trappings and retreated to his Tribeca loft, which he called the Battle Station, where he would spend 20 years working on his Gesamtkunstwerk, a constantly evolving mythical world. Stigsgaard’s design, which was developed in close collaboration with curators Max Wolf, Carlo McCormick, Candice Strongwater, Jeff Mao, and Christian Omodeo, honors the legacy of Rammellzee’s Battle Station, without trying to replicate it, something they felt could not be done by anyone except Rammellzee himself. Instead, Stigsgaard tried to “create a framework...to set his work off,” relying on the body of work to bring visitors into his world while still providing an intelligible timeline and order in an immersive environment. Upon entering the exhibition space you are confronted with a tunnel of mesh walls with irregular, geometric apertures that create a spatial “compression.” Stigsgaard says this references not only a subway tunnel, the site where Rammellzee first began mobilizing language by tagging the A train in Far Rockaway, Queens, but also a tank firing range, apt for an artist who felt that he was leading a war against the cultural tyranny of the alphabet. Down the tunnel are some of Rammellzee’s early visual works, as well as a script he developed, and an original 12th-century manuscript. The manuscript serves as a touchstone for Rammellzee’s approach to language as a visual, and eventually, performative and spatial, practice and his self-identification as a “gothic futurist.” He was constantly fighting against normative order—his own manifesto Gothic Futurist describes the symbolic battle of letters against the alphabet’s stultifying standardization, as realized in his graffiti and his later Letter Racers. The central upstairs gallery manifests Rammellzee’s military obsession and his invented linguistic theory of “Ikonoklast Panzerism.” For this space, Stigsgaard used what he described as Panzerkeil formations, which refer to a V-shaped arrangement of tanks used by the Germans on the Eastern Front. The formation leads to a strong exterior defense with a weaker interior. Here, the formation acts as the parti for the exhibition space; the structure presents a full-frontal approach for larger work with a more intimate interior to observe smaller pieces, simultaneously organizing the space and causing one to be “put off balance.” The formation’s visual logic extends even to the angular vitrines and other details. The final stage upstairs exemplifies the unorthodox use of lighting in the exhibition. Shifting on a timer, the lighting in this last space goes between the usual white light to black light that makes Rammellzee’s paintings and sculptures pop and glow. As you come around towards the stairwell, you see Rammellzee’s Letter Racers, hung ready for battle, spiraling downstairs. These Letter Racers are 26 fighter plane-style assemblages of detritus and consumer goods mounted on skateboards and remote-controlled cars, each a letter in Rammellzee’s invented alphabet. Light confronts you in your face as you take their mass in. This is hardly unintentional. As Stigsgaard says, “It's not about creating a comfortable lighting. I like that you get a big blast in your face. This is not a white box, ordinary gallery. You need to be a little bit thrown off.” The downstairs takes on a more cave-like quality. Ceilings are low and the space is almost unnervingly dark. We have entered the physical realization of the 25th century, a major era in Rammellzee’s extensive cosmology. Metal mesh walls that conceal and reveal—again in Panzerkeil formation—are on islands of what at first appears to be stone or gravel, but upon closer investigation are shredded tires. Here are perhaps the most memorable pieces in the exhibit, his Garbage Gods, full-scale armored sculptural costumes made of found objects and sidewalk trash. This cast of characters each has their own place within Rammellzee’s sci-fi mythology, with personalities he would adapt by wearing and performing the costumes. In the rear of the space is a glowing polystyrene “rock formation” that holds scale model Garbage Gods in its niches. This strange hybrid of natural and artificial, urban and prehistoric, creates a space that Stigsgaard describes as “outside of time.” The gothic meets the space-age, suits accumulate and reconfigure the histories of the found objects that comprise them, boundaries breakdown and time falls into itself—both in Rammellzee’s art and in the design of the space. After passing the final massive Garbage God, slivers of red light hint at an additional space. Though relatively large, tire shreds take up most of the room, allowing you just small passage. At dead center is a pyramid. Suspended on acrylic it seems to be floating. Red light hits its reflective surface, again creating an almost blinding moment. Lurking in the right corner is another Garbage God and at the right is one of Rammellzee’s bricolage luggage pieces. The room certainly feels significant and has a certain stillness, but without reading the wall text the space’s real weight might be missed. This pyramid is an urn, designed by Rammellzee, to contain his own ashes. This Garbage God is Reaper Grimm. This luggage is what he wished to carry into the next life. It is here, with Rammellzee present, that you realize this is no mere exhibition; this is a temple, or perhaps even, a mausoleum. RAMMΣLLZΣΣ: Racing for Thunder Red Bull Arts New York 220 West 18th Street, New York, NY Through August 26th
Placeholder Alt Text

AN presents all of the national pavilions at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale
As the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale gets ready to welcome visitors, AN has compiled a list of the 65 national pavilions that will open to the public on Thursday, May 24. Although two countries have canceled their pavilions, the remaining projects are all an interesting take on the biennale's theme of “freespace”; how we use, negate, and integrate open spaces into our daily lives. This year’s Biennale will also mark the first show for these six countries. Each of the pavilions mentioned below have been represented in their teams’ own words. National Pavilion Events: Albania: Zero Space Location: Arsenale “This pavilion is composed of architects and artists, devoted to the dynamism of everyday life in the ground floors of Tirana, the capital city of Albania. It is a moment of reflection of Tirana's lifestyle and the future of Albania's capital city. Visitors live through the experience of Albania's capital city the same way as its citizens.” Antigua & Barbuda Environmental Justice as a Civil Right Location: Don Orione Artigianelli, Dorsoduro 919 Argentina Vértigo Horizontal Location: Arsenale “Proposes a cross-cutting dialog between geographical spaces, places and architecture. It is an invitation to rethink our territory as a collective construction and see architecture in its capacity to convey unexpected generosity in every project. The collection focus on projects produced since Argentina’s return to democracy, in 1983.” Australia Repair Location: Giardini “Repair addresses the call ‘to stimulate discussion on core architectural values’ and focuses on architecture that integrates built and natural systems to effect repair of the environment through three installation: the first is made of ten thousand plants inside and outside of the Pavilion, including 65 species of Western Plains Grasslands. This component of the exhibition, entitled Grasslands Repair, will serve as a reminder of what is at stake when we occupy land – just one per cent of these threatened species are left in their native ecosystem; an experimental video series, entitled Ground, showcasing fifteen Australian projects that unpack diverse iterations of repair, which will be projected inside the Pavilion. A third installation, Skylight, incorporates lighting to simulate the sun’s energy required to sustain the plants inside the Pavilion. The curators aim to provoke a rethinking of how we value and therefore create the built environment.” Austria Thoughts Form Matter  Location: Giardini “Is a plea for the power of architecture as an intellectual analysis of the world and for the freedom to design spaces that are not subject to functional and economic constraints. LAAC, Henke Schreieck and Sagmeister & Walsh are creating a conceptually and materially complex spatial installation which draws together inside and outside, vertical and horizontal, the historic pavilion and the language of contemporary architecture and design. Concepts such as ‘deviation’, ‘atmosphere’ and ‘beauty’ become tangible in a three-part, converging spatial installation.” Bahrain (Kingdom of) Friday Sermon  Location: Arsenale Artiglierie “The pavilions curatorial team is composed of Nora Akawi, an architect and researcher based in New York, USA and Amman, Jordan and Noura Al Sayeh an architect based in Bahrain. The pavilion features an installation and research on the ritual of the Friday Sermon and its influence on public space and public opinion. When thinking about free space, and by extension free speech for Arab and Muslim communities, the Friday khuṭbah becomes a key protagonist, especially as state, law, and religion remain as entangled as ever.” Belgium Eurotopie  Location: Giardini “Eurotopie, addresses the issues and challenges tackled by the European Union. Despite being the E.U’s principal territorial, physical and symbolic anchorage, the European Quarter in Brussels seems in no way to contribute to a collective European identity. The pavilion also addresses architects and space-makers in considering how the European democratic space can be constructed, and how it can cohabit with Brussels.” Brazil Walls of Air Location: Giardini “Investigates the wall as an element of Brazilian architecture, culture and identity, and envisage in the act of bridging this wall an invitation to coexistence and multiplicity on two design fronts. The first consists of the presentation of ten cartographic designs created based on research with a network of collaborators, consultants and institutions, as a way of visualising the forms of spatial and conceptual separation resulting from the process of urbanisation of Brazil. The second, in an initiative unprecedented in the history of Brazilian participation in the event, focuses on projects chosen through a public selection process. Projects are examples that use architecture as a tool to measure conflict, transitions between public and private domains and connections between different urban fabrics.” Canada Voices of the Land Location: Giardini “On the occasion of the unveiling of a state-of-the-art restoration of the Canada Pavilion in the Giardini, and the celebration of the pavilion’s 60th anniversary, the National Gallery of Canada promotes the exhibition: Canada Builds/Rebuilds a Pavilion in Venice.” Chile Stadium: an event, a building and a city Location: Arsenale “An event of the past, which rendered a city within a building. In its origin, the word stadium is a measure of a running distance between two points. The exhibition narrates such double story interweaved by a plan: that of a building (with its dissimilar uses) and that of a city (with its atomized housing development), overlaid in a single event. The Event – On the 29th of September 1979, this landmark building was filled by 37,000 workers from all over Santiago. The focus of this gathering was not a concert or a sport match, but a massive operative which provided, in a single day, ownership titles to dwellers (pobladores) fixing decades of makeshift land occupation and policies. This day-long massive event organised by the military regime was a day of celebration, of government propaganda and reinforcement of a new popular capitalist scheme. By signing these property titles these former dwellers were also acquiring a debt instrument with specific spatial coordinates, setting a plan of a city where there was no plan” China (People’s Republic of) Building a Future Countryside Location:  Arsenale “One of the major challenges facing contemporary built environments is the future of rural ‘development’. In China, the countryside has become a new frontier for experiments in this area, and the country is developing its countryside at a speed and scale unseen in the West. Drawn by the promise of boundless opportunity, architects, artists, developers—as well as capital flow—are converging in rural areas across the nation. The return to pastoral life has long been an ideal of Chinese literary tradition. In modern times, living in rural areas typically involves aspects such as policy, capital, infrastructure, and technology. While modernization and technological progress promise us better lives with modern living conditions, they also, to some extent, sever the link between rural life and tradition.” Croatia  Cloud Pergola / The Architecture of Hospitality Location: Arsenale “Cloud Pergola / The Architecture of Hospitality is a collaborative site-specific environment conceived by the pavilion curator, Bruno Juričić, with curatorial advice from Branka Benčić. Cloud Pergola is an installation crossing the boundaries of architecture, art, engineering, robotic fabrication and computational models. The exhibition is structured through the interplay of three interventions: Cloud Drawing by Alisa Andrašek in collaboration with Bruno Juričić, To Still the Eyes by Vlatka Horvat and Ephemeral Garden by Maja Kuzmanović & FoAM.” Cyprus (Republic of)  I Am Where You Are Location: Associazione Culturale Spiazzi, Castello 3865 “By highlighting, questioning and then deconstructing sets of binaries, key to cultural perceptions in and about Cyprus, the pavilion disengages from convention. Multiplicities, found in-between these binaries, ‘built/unbuilt, tradition/modernity, Island of Love/place of conflict, immigration/local identity,’ are revealed in the pavilion, allowing unexpected experiences to be celebrated.” Czech and Slovak (Republic) Meetings on Architecture Location: Giardini “A program of encounters It's nothing new under the sun, yet it's necessary to talk about it. Beautiful historical towns, of course not only in the Czech Republic, suffer under the heavy burden of tourists. And the local people suffer also. In the streets of such cities we see empty houses, unnecessary shops, streets people prefer to avoid – just like in socially excluded localities. One such city in our country is Český Krumlov, an example from abroad is Venice. Both cities are among the magnificent treasures included on the UNESCO list, but the only ones who really desire them are the tourists. Tourism is growing into dangerous dimensions." Denmark Collaborative innovations  Location: Giardini “The Danish Pavilion exhibition will present a collaborative approach to innovation and illustrate its impact through a handful of very different cases. The cases look at the potentials of working with a number of fields outside the traditional realm of architecture, such as mobility, cultural resilience, housing and computational resource efficiency on a global level. Each of the cases branch multiple fields of knowledge and numerous stakeholders and demonstrates the transformative potential of collaborative efforts as well as architecture’s impact on innovating the built environment. Through large scale installations, including a presentation of the new OMA BLOX building in Copenhagen, the exhibition focuses on ’Collaborative Innovations’. BLOX, represents a framework for the exhibition since it embodies the idea of a freespace for interdisciplinary and cross-cultural innovation. BLOX is the new home of the Danish Architecture Centre and a new international innovation hub.” Egypt The phenomenon of “free” Location: Giardini “The pavilion, curated by architects Islam El Mashtooly and Mouaz Abouzaid, architecture professor Cristiano Luchetti, art director and producer Giuseppe Moscatello, and art director Karim Moussa proposes the theme of a redevelopment of spontaneous commercial spaces across the entire country. The phenomenon of ‘free’, unstructured, often illegal, trading is predominant in many urban and suburban areas. The traditional souk is no longer confined to narrow streets and interstitial spaces of historical areas. Indeed, the space of commerce extends its tentacles seamlessly along the lines of urban streams without any rule. The project for the pavilion focuses on these strategic spaces but also on their content. The trading of ‘roba becciah’ is a large portion of all market activities. Disused items produced and dismissed by consumerist societies are first collected and then stacked in areas to create mono-functional enclaves for future trading.” Estonia Weak Monument Location: Santa Maria Ausiliatrice church “Weak Monument explores the explicit representation of the monument and the implicit politics of everyday architectural forms. Curated by Laura Linsi, Roland Reemaa and Tadeáš Říha, the exhibition takes over the former Santa Maria Ausiliatrice church in Venice with pavement and a monument-like concrete wall that divides the exhibition space in two. As visitors cross through the wall, they'll find a collection of photos, drawings, and models of Estonian and European examples of “weak monuments”. They will then encounter a ‘wall altar.’” Finland Mind-Building Location: Giardini “The Finnish pavilion transforms the Alvar Aalto-designed space into a temporary library. Titled ‘Mind-Building’, the exhibition explores the development of Finnish library architecture and showcases Finland’s leading role in developing the libraries of the future. The exhibition is conceived by the commissioner Hanna Harris, director of Archinfo Finland, and curator Dr Anni Vartola, architecture critic and architectural theorist, who present the public library as a case-study of ‘modern monumentality’ and reminds us of the values of the civic society and the power of education and knowledge.” France Infinite Places Location: Giardini “This year, in its 16th edition, the International Architecture Exhibition seeks to remind us of a dimension of architecture no doubt somewhat neglected, and yet so fundamental: ‘thoughtfulness.” Our concerns focus so often on the built object, or one intended to be built, that we often underestimate the importance of this frame of mind that goes beyond needs or the desires of others. Freespace needs to be a place of opportunities, a democratic space, un-programmed and open to unforeseen uses, as yet undefined, such that buildings create new ways of sharing and participating for people over time, long after the architect has left the scene… places that are in some sense infinite in possibility.” Germany Unbuilding Walls  Location: Gardini “The exhibition responds to current debates on nations, protectionism and division. In the German Pavilion, GRAFT and Marianne Birthler will take the parallel as an opportunity to explore the effects of division and the process of healing as a, special focus will be given to outstanding examples of urban and architectural design that address aspects of division and integration. An example project is Checkpoint Charlie. This Location: was the third crossing point after Checkpoint Alpha and Checkpoint Bravo between the American and Soviet sectors. After the construction of the Wall and the tank confrontation shortly afterwards in October 1961, it became, alongside the Brandenburg Gate, the most symbolically potent image of the Cold War. A current competition initiated by the new owner of the site will elaborate a new vision for the Location: of Checkpoint Charlie in conjunction with the Senate. A Museum of the Cold War is planned that will be run by the State of Berlin.” Greenland Greenland's magnificent nature Danish architect Dorte Mandrup will be exhibiting at the main exhibition of the Biennale Architettura 2018, and with over 200 square metres at her disposal, is one of the most comprehensive installations on display at this year's Architecture Biennale. The forthcoming Icefjord Centre in Greenland is the inspiration source behind a large sensuous exhibition, designed to give Biennale's visitors an authentic experience of the magnificent and harsh nature in Greenland.” Holland Work, Body, Leisure Location: Giardini Bed-In Interviews With Beatriz Colomina #BED, DUTCH PAVILION, GIARDINI DELLA BIENNALE, VENEZIA 11am – 4pm Visions of the Future With Mark Wigley, Liam Young, and respondent Amal Alhaag #LOCKER ROOM, DUTCH PAVILION, GIARDINI DELLA BIENNALE, VENEZIA 11am – 12pm Work Body Leisure | Official Opening WELCOMING WORDS 4pm – 4:30pm SONGS FOR HARD-WORKING PEOPLE A project by Noam Toran, composed and performed by Remco de Jong and Florentijn Boddendijk. This afternoon concert launches the official soundtrack of the 2018 Dutch Pavilion. 4:30pm – 5pm Great Britain Island Location: Giardini “The curatorial team, Caruso St John Architects working in collaboration with artist Marcus Taylor, responds to the theme of Freespace with the construction of a new public space on the roof of the British Pavilion. This elevated piazza offers visitors to the Giardini a place to meet and a unique vantage point looking out across the Lagoon. At the centre of this new public space, the peak of the Pavilion’s roof protrudes up through the floor, suggesting both an island and a sunken world beneath. Below, the doors of the Pavilion are open to visitors, but the building is empty of exhibits.” Greece Utopian Visions of Learning Location: Giardini “‘The Faculty of Athens,’ will focus on the structure of the educational commons – from Plato’s Academy to recent college designs. It re-imagines the Greek Pavilion adopts the architectural trope of the stepped panorama to create an energetic house of discussion and trade. Inside of this panorama, architectural fashions depicting instructional commonplace areas from throughout historical past and all over the world, each learned and unrealized, will create a box of architectural specimens that fills the pavilion in all instructions.” Guatemala Stigma  Location: Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello, 4118 Cannaregio “The Guatemala pavilion investigates space with models all linked to a sense of utopia and lexical incompleteness, that reflect and try to give an answer to the language crisis brought by the postmodern age. The exhibition proposes a sort of ‘Virtual City,’ understood as the articulation of urban systems designed according to new modes of collective intelligence.” Hungary Liberty Bridge – New Urban Horizons Location: Giardini “In 2016, one of the oldest Danube-bridges of Budapest, the Liberty Bridge became car-free due to an infrastructural development in the neighborhood. Citizens, mostly millennials immediately put the road and tram tracks to creative use and re-imagined the historic place. The construction turned into street furniture, hosting picnics, grill-parties, yoga classes. The curators choose this episode to tackle fundamental issues of urban development: What does a free public space represent today? How can a bridge or any built structure act as a medium of freedom? How can we change our own identity by transforming our city?” Indonesia Sunyata: The Poetics of Emptiness Location: Arsenale “Here emptiness is meant as an active entity; a singularity that functions as a prominent agency in life and at the same time, as a void which demands to be conquered. This conquest expresses in various ritualization. Emptiness is a concept strongly rooted in Indonesian’s Architecture. This project argues that the concept of Emptiness that has been practice in Indonesia is the approach to liberate spatial experience and tactility.” Ireland The Free Market Location: Asenale “The Irish Pavilion is centered around the theme of the Free Market. The exhibition will explore the common space of market towns in Ireland, their gradual demise and importance for economic and social engagement. The pavilion will be transformed into a rural Irish market square, complete with market stalls, goods, soundscape and a daily newspaper.” Israel In Status Quo: Structures of Negotiation Location: Giardini “Through the lens of architecture, the exhibition explores the status quo mechanism that was established in the 19th century to regulate conflicts and facilitate co-existence in the Holy places. In the exhibition, visitors move through five holy sites that highlight Israel’s fragile system of cohabitation and disputed territoriality. Each holy site raises different phenomenon and their highly uncertain territorial claims over centuries has made them some of the most significant and challenging sites to reexamine within this context. The Israeli Pavilion team chose 10 of the most captivating architectural proposals of the Western Wall plaza over time, including those by Louis Kahn, Isamu Noguchi, Moshe Safdie and Superstudio. For each plan, the team created custom-made, 3-D printed models. In front of the models, a live stream of the Western Wall precinct will be screened, highlighting the dichotomy between past and future.” Italy Arcipelago Italia “Projects for the future of the country’s interior territories” focuses on the urban space that runs along the Italian ridge, from the Alpine Arch, along the Apennines, up to the Mediterranean. An itinerary with a hundred stages, suggested by small, high quality architectural projects realized in recent years and the result of a call promoted by the curator, in dialogue with examples taken from history, with the relationship between architecture and landscape; a journey into the future, investigating the current situation and proposing a reflection on contemporary issues such as the urban periphery, the earthquake aftermath, brownfields, railways and mobility; five experimental projects in as many areas of Italy.” Japan Architectural Ethnography from Tokyo: Guidebooks and Projects on Livelihood Location: Giardini “The Japan Pavilion’s curated presentation showcases over 40 exhibitors, ranging from university design studios and architectural offices to contemporary artistic practices from all over the world from the last twenty years.” Korea Spectres of the State Avant-garde Location: Giardini “The Korean Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia will present Spectres of the State Avant-garde, an imagined archive of the Korea Engineering Consultants Corp. (KECC), a technical consultancy for architecture and civil engineering established by the government in 1963. Spectres of the State Avant-garde seeks to reconstruct a hidden narrative about the state’s paradoxical pursuit of a utopian vision for society through oppressive government policy. KECC enjoyed an unparalleled dominance over Korea’s architecture and construction industry, and the breadth of its activities reached beyond civil engineering and infrastructural projects to include urban master plans and expo pavilions. Their visions at times mimicked the radical architectural experiments of the West but more often assumed a pragmatic attitude in line with the state developmental agenda.” Kosovo The City is Everywhere Location: Asenale “The Pavilion’s concept revolves around the idea of ‘house’ as a compensation for the city. During ‘90s Kosovo Albanians were expelled from all activities of public institutional life because of the political conflicts in ex—Yugoslavia. Due to that Kosovo Albanians created a parallel system of public institutions into their private houses in peripheral areas of the city. The pavilion space, named The City Is Everywhere is a house always on the making and somehow unfinished because of these new additional public functions. The inside represents the outside at the same time. All public life of Albanians during ‘90s for 10 years were provided into these inside private spaces opened by by Kosovo Albanians for public uses. The house became a metaphor for the city—it was a public space / a school / a gallery / a hospital / a shop / a café and a home at the same time. Latvia Together and Apart Location: Arsenale “The Latvian pavilion looks at apartment buildings in relation to architecture’s role in organizing the society. It examines how this architectural typology generates ways of living together and apart — with one another, the market, and the state. During its 100–year–long history, Latvia has undergone several fundamental political and economic transformations that have employed housing as a means of reform. Today, despite being one of the most sparsely populated regions of Europe, nearly two thirds of Latvians live in apartment buildings, which is the highest ratio in Europe.” Lebanon The Place That Remains Location: Arsenale The project involves a reflection on the built environment through a reflection on the unbuilt land and the possible visions for the future of the national territory and landscape. The focus will be on Nahr Beirut (Beirut River) and its watershed. The project explores the preconditions for architecture through assessing its bedrock and the challenges protagonists face, such as the fragile nature of territory, scarcity of resources and commodification. The format chosen for the project is a combined 3D relief map, landscape photography and video surveillance, while the watershed setting allows its creators to ensure that the resources remain the key focus.” Lithuania  The Swamp Pavilion Location: Il Giardino Bianco Art Space (Castello Viale Giuseppe Garibaldi, 1815 “In a time marked by existential threats of war and climate change, the pavilion highlights the vital urgency of human cohabitation with humans and forms of life. Inaugurated with the launch of live broadcasting programmes on Swamp Radio, The Swamp Space and its extended network will engage audiences in a variety of acoustic space explorations. ‘The radio would be the finest possible communication apparatus in public life, a vast network of pipes. That is to say, it would be if it knew how to receive as well as to transmit, how to let the listener speak as well as hear, how to bring him into a relationship instead of isolating him,’ maintained Bertolt Brecht. Acts of revalorizing the Swamp over solid ground and exploring its complex web of interactions are both conceived as pedagogical exercises by the project’s initiators with aims to transmit possibilities of speaking for the silenced voices of this planet.” Luxembourg The Architecture of a Common Ground Location: Arsenale “Highlights the importance of land and property for architecture and urban planning: privatisation as well as speculation, especially with urban land, has risen dramatically in the past decade. Many European towns and cities, which, like Luxembourg, are under enormous pressure to develop, have virtually run out of building land. The project draws attention to this striking lack of public land with a spatial installation and literally confronts it with projects – tracked down in the architectural history of ideas, flanked by initial research results from the young University of Luxembourg – that make as much public space available as possible over and above the defined programmes. The social and political dimension of architecture is linked to its creative power. The Architecture of the Common Ground puts forward a clear statement that does not mean to deliver universal answers but to show to what extent architects may conceptually react to the privatisation of land. The Architecture of the Common Ground is an appeal to view the unreproducible and indispensable resource of land as a common good, like air and water. “ Macedonia Freeingspace Location: Arsenale – Sale d’Armi Mexico My Art Guide Mexico City  Location: Arsenale “A paper guide and digital issue dedicated to Zona Maco and the art week in Mexico City is now available online, as well as an iOS app. This edition has been developed thanks to an incredible editorial committee formed by Carlos Amorales (Artist), Juan Gaitán (Director of Museo Tamayo), and Mauricio Galguera (Director of Galería Hilario Galguera and co-director of El Cuarto de máquinas). The committee has been working to select the best and most interesting art spaces and exhibitions in town.” Mongolia (Cancelled) Understanding Location: Viale Giuseppe Garibaldi, 1815 Montenegro Wo/man Under Umbrella Location: Palazzo Malipiero (ground floor), San Marco 3078-3079/A, Ramo Malipiero “The exhibition is a framework for future research, which will actualize the need for a holistic approach, through imperative resilience of socio-ecological systems. Such approach entails transdisciplinary methods i.e. broadening the architectural knowledge base, and understanding complex, adaptive and self-regulating systems where narrow-range activities have unconceivable consequences.” Nordic Countries Explore Nature's Relationship to the Built Environment Location: Giardini “The pavilion explores the relationship between nature and the built environment. The goal is to explore new ways of making buildings that emphasize the delicate but often invisible interactions between the built and natural worlds. The Nordic pavilion, designed by Sverre Fehn in 1962, celebrates nature’s different phenomena: light, sound, materials bringing them together to form a unique architectural experience. The 2018 installation in the Nordic pavilion will build on the context created by Fehn and ask how we see ourselves in relation to nature today.” Pakistan  The Fold Location: Levante section of the Gardens of Marinaressa, along Riva dei Sette Martiri “The National Pavilion of Pakistan team Presenting Pakistan’s architectural design prowess to the international community are Coalesce Design Studio, a Karachi-based multidisciplinary design practice, and Antidote Art & Design, a Dubai-based platform that serves the careers of emerging and mid-career visual artists and designers, with the generous support of GAA Foundation, a Dutch non-profit organization that aims to heighten awareness about the more philosophical themes in contemporary art, architecture, and culture. The Pavilion of Pakistan, titled The Fold, explores these ideas of limitation and interdependence, inviting visitors to comprehend Freespace as a consequence of unity, mutuality and harmony amidst a restrictive physicality. This makes it simultaneously a global as well as a local phenomenon.” Peru Undercover. 4000 Years of Architecture and Urban Planning in an Unexpected Place: Lima Location: Arsenale “Peru immediately brings to mind the Incas and the grandeur of Machu Picchu. Little is known, however, about its capital, Lima, a city where it never rains. With 7 mm of annual rainfall, it is one of the driest on Earth. This has been a decisive factor in the survival of a great number of adobe architectural monuments in the past 4000 years – 447 structures, to be precise. The curators found reserves of generosity in this legacy.” Philippines The City Who Had Two Navels Location: Arsenale “Inspired by Filipino National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin’s novel The Woman Who Had Two Navels (1961), the Philippine Pavilion confronts the tension between the vicissitudes of the past and the challenges of constructing contemporary subjectivity. It highlights two ‘navels’ that are in constant dialogue: the forces of colonialism and neoliberalism. Through the speculations about the intertwined forces and the concomitant architectural and urban issues, Philippines’ ‘Freespace’ anticipates possibilities for renewed life and hope.” Poland Amplifying Nature Location: Giardini “Architecture serves not only to offer protection from nature, but is inherently connected with phenomena such as gravitation, water circulation, or the day-night cycle. This concept is present in nature-amplifying designs from the history of Polish architecture: the Warszawianka sports complex, inscribed in the Vistula River escarpment, designed by a Jerzy Sołtan-led team of the Art-and-Research Workshops of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Zofia and Oskar Hansens’ Szumin House, and Jacek Damięcki’s visionary, unrealised design of the Floating Rotary Pavilion, and in two original designs by CENTRALA — the vertically open Cabrio House and the Rain Pavilion. Throughout the 6 months of the show, the pavilion will be actively shaped by factors including water, daily and annual light rhythms, or viewer interaction, demonstrating how architecture is inclusive in processes of physical change.” Portugal Public Without Rhetoric Location: Palazzo Giustinian Lolin, near Piazza San Marco “This theme underlines how closely State investment in accessible, quality public space is directly related to the rise of a democratic, cultured and inclusive society. Portugal is showcasing a tour of the “Public Building” on the main floor in Palazzo Giustinian Lolin, near Piazza San Marco. Its representation includes a collection of drawings, models and photographs of the 12 selected projects that include temporary structures, buildings or infrastructures dedicated to culture, education, sport and mobility. This is the work of several different generations of Portuguese architects, born between the 1930s and 1980s and built in the last ten years. The diversity of programmes and scales in this exhibition are used to reveal the universal culture and cross-generation excellence of these Portuguese architects. ‘Public buildings such as cultural, educational and sports facilities and infrastructures,’ as the curators point out, ‘belong to the idea of evolution and progressivity as regards social opportunities. They in fact simultaneously reconstruct and rehabilitate the city and renew public space in terms of quality and culture.’” Slovenia Living with Water Location: Arsenale “The Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO) presents the project Living with Water in the Pavilion of Slovenia at the 16th Venice International Architecture Biennale. They developed a series of installations that investigate the relations between the hydrological systems and constructed structures, territory and landscapes on a range of spatial, temporal and operational scales. Furthermore, Plemenitaš and his team developed a Multi-Scale Flow Map.” Romania Mnemonics Location: one for the Giardini and one for the Romanian Institute of Culture and Humanistic Research (RICHR) in Cannaregio Mnemonics is the ancient technique of collecting memories. The ultimate challenge of architecture is the ability of a space to generate strong memories. In Romania the image of children playing outside the buildings is the universal icon of the space between the apartment buildings. The installation uses props specific to the environment mentioned above in order to invite everyone to exchange roles on the playground, to interact and reflect over the effects of the appropriation of a common space by communities.” Russia Station Russia Location: Giardini “The pavilion explores the past, present and future of the railways in Russia. The space itself will be transformed into a train station. The focus of the exhibition forms a parallel with the history of the Russian Pavilion itself, which was inaugurated in 1914. The building’s designer, Alexey Shchusev, was also responsible for the Kazansky Railway Station. The space will be divided into five halls: Hall 1: The Geography of Free Space Hall 2: The Architectural Depot Hall 3: The Waiting Hall of the Future Hall 4: The Crypt of Memories Hall 5: Aboard the Free Space” San Marino Urban Colors Location: Centro Culturale Don Orione Artigianelli, Dorsoduro 947 “The project we propose for the 16th Architecture Biennale focuses on the relationship between architecture and urban environments, with particular attention to color, often absent or arbitrarily used, in modern architecture. There will be projects, models, videos, photographs, works of art by architects, designers, and artists from different countries.” Saudi Arabia Spaces In Between Location: Arsenale  “‘Freespace invites opportunity. It welcomes passersby, visitors and tenants. Once, open land accommodated independent settlement. Today, the consumption of space drives suburban growth. Within the peripheries, where development meets desert, the distinction between city edge and hinterland is blurred as bare expanses are punctured by swift development. Structures ranging from pathways, forums to flexible spaces, activating the inherent potential of the spaces in between.’ Over the past four decades, Saudi metropolitan centers have undergone rapid urbanization, with rural migration propelling built territories outwards. Settlement-driven growth produces disjointed, mono-functional, car-dependent neighborhoods connected by highways. In this state of fragmentation, over 40% of city land lies vacant. The wide distances between residential enclaves erode social ties and deplete natural resources.” Serbia Free School Is Free Space Location: Giardini This work was inspired by the Drawing on the Wall found in a basement room of the house which used to be Bogdan Bogdanovic’s Village School of the Philosophy of Architecture from 1976 to 1990. After the school was closed, over its long history of decay, the house became a Free Space for refugees, football players, hunters, vagrants… The metaphysics of this drawing and the history of the place introduce us to a state of archetypal intimacy of primitive peoples or theological-cosmological interpretations of ourselves. As a rule, such a psychological state turns us into self-taught architects of our personal inner space while the process of transition from the surreal to the real unfolds within us.” Singapore No More Free Space Location: Arsenale “Under the direction of lead curator Dr. Erwin Viray, Head of Pillar, Architecture and Sustainable Design at Singapore University of Technology and Design. The exhibition comprises twelve Singapore-based architecture projects, spanning residential, commercial, private and public buildings, each demonstrating how to turn constraints into opportunities for ‘free space’ by re-imagining what a highly compact city can be. Each project incorporates light, air, greenery or water to create oasis and delightful free spaces in dense urban environments, bringing joy and connectivity to the community. The centerpiece of the exhibition will be an interactive installation – an ethereal cloud of handcrafted acrylic knots with multi-sensory sounds, light and image projections, re-creating the experiences of Singapore for the audience.” Slovenia Living with Water Location: Arsenale “The Living with Water commissioner appointed a group of internationally acclaimed architects, landscape architects, researchers and educators, who applied for an open invitation to participate in the development of a joint presentation at the Pavilion of Slovenia. The multidisciplinary process of their work is presented in two installations. Because of water, life in Slovenia is enjoyable and satisfying, but at the same time water represents a particular danger. Nearly 160,000 Slovenian inhabitants live in flood-prone areas and some 50 to 70 floods of varying sizes affect Slovenia every year. At the same time, the right to drinking water has been enshrined in the Constitution since 2016 and almost one-fifth of Slovenia's territory is protected in order to safeguard drinking water resources. On the other hand, many concessions for the management of important water resources have been granted to corporations.” South Africa (Cancelled) Candice Breitz and Mohau Modisakeng “In response to the Biennale’s theme, the South African Pavilion invites viewers to explore the artist’s role in visualising and articulating the notion of selfhood within a context of global marginalisation. What is it to be visible in everyday life, yet invisible and disregarded at the level of cultural, political or economic representation? The exhibition reflects on experiences of exclusion, displacement, transience, migration and xenophobia, exploring the complex socio-­political forces that shape the performance of selfhood under such conditions.” Spain Becoming Commissioner: Ministerio de Fomento Agencia Española de Venue: Giardini Turkey The Shift/Vardiya Location: Arsenale “The Shift/Vardiya, follows an atypical architectural discourse compared to other installations or projects that are set to be exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale. Tackling the essence of the biennale's theme Freespace directly or indirectly, or both analogically or metaphorically, the Pavilion doesn't feature a unique installation or a series of exhibition objects. Instead, it focuses on the process of production through which architecture is studied collectively and experimentally with many students and professionals coming from different disciplines from around the world. The Shift is envisioned to be a hotspot for various workshops, roundtable discussions and informal meetings, welcoming over a hundred international students of architecture, tens of tutors, guest professionals, keynote speakers and visitors while inviting all to a continuous learning and production process throughout the twenty-five weeks of the biennial.” United Arab Emirates Lifescapes Beyond Bigness  Location: Arsenale Lifescapes Beyond Bigness, the National Pavilion UAE’s exhibition at the 2018 Venice Biennale, will reveal hidden scenes of everyday life in the UAE across four ‘human-scale’ urban landscapes. Opening on 24 May 2018 at 12 noon, the exhibition will highlight the interplay between the built environment and the dynamism of informal social life through images, technical drawings, maps and three-dimensional models. The exhibition and accompanying publication examine four urban typologies, including: residential neighborhoods, morphology and social rhythm of the four typologies. Case studies and detailed personal stories offer insight into the anthropology of each research site.” Uruguay Prison to Prison, an Intimate Story between two Architectures Location: Giardini “The project for the pavilion explores the existence of an unprecedented Freespace inside the unlikeliest place and in close relationship with its larger opposite. Last year the largest building created in Uruguay was a prison and this symbolic fact bears witness to the desires and fears of our society and the effect that architecture can have.  Ironically, this new prison was built adjacent to the existing Punta de Rieles Prison, often referred to as the “village jail.” A unique experience in Uruguay, and in the world, in which the prison is understood as a lively, vibrant neighborhood that imitates the outside on the inside, resulting in an unexpected Freespace for collective projects and negotiations inside a detention center.” Vatican City Vatican Chapels Location: Island of San Giorgio Maggiore “The pavilion will consist of ten full-scale chapels that can reconstructed and deployed to parishes anywhere in the world. Vatican Chapels, as the project is officially known, will be erected in a forest on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, opposite St. Mark’s Square.” Venezuela  CCS – Espacio Rebelde Commissioner and curator: Nelsón Rodriguez Location: Giardini “The show on display at the pavilion projects three large-scale urban plans in Caracas: Avenida Bolivar-Bulevar de Sabana Grande, Simón Bolívar Parl in la Carlota and the Hugo Chávez Park in La Rinconada.” Switzerland Svizzera 240 Location: Giardini “The Salon Suisse offers a series of lectures, talks and cultural events supplementing the exhibition at the Swiss Pavilion. Curated by architectural historian Marcel Bächtiger, cultural theorist Tim Kammasch and architect Stanislas Zimmermannwith the support of local Salonnière Laura Tinti, this year’s programme is an invitation to a journey. If architecture is an island within the archipelago of the artistic and scientific disciplines, then the Salon is a ship that has left the harbour. From foreign shores, we will look back at architecture and explore its cultural and social relevance today. In the long history of architecture, such moments have always proved most fruitful when the discourse opened up to ideas, insights and inventions from other disciplines. Today, it is time to set sail again. On our journey, we will encounter philosophers and anthropologists, writers, musicians and artists, comparatists and social researchers. By discussing their work and its relevance to architecture, the Salon Suisse will open new perspectives, not only on the potentials of architecture in the 21st century, but also on hidden connections that have always existed among the different disciplines. Each soirée is also a cultural event: a concert, a lecture or a performance; a tangible sensory experience that will initiate conversation between the audience and our guests, all of them present over the whole length of a salon.” United States  Dimensions of Citizenship – U.S. Pavilion at 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale Location: Giardini “The exhibition is an effort aimed to investigate how the very concept of citizenship has changed in recent times and is changing these days. Does the conventional notion of citizenship is being undermined by transnational flows of capital, digital technologies, geopolitical transformations, climatic change, populism, social inequality? How architects and designers should respond to such transformation and in which way their traditional role in contemporary society is changing because of it?”
Placeholder Alt Text

Cart Content

Cedric Price’s Fun Palace comes to life in a moveable exhibit at Prelude to The Shed
In the run-up to the opening of The Shed, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and the Rockwell Group’s new arts center in the Hudson Yards development, a 2-week program called A Prelude to The Shed, featuring free performances, talks and events, took place in a temporary structure designed by Kunlé Adeyemi of NLÉ Works. A Stroll Through the Fun Palace, British architect Cedric Price’s 1961 project, developed with theater director Joan Littlewood, was presented in dynamic form by architects wheeling models and items from the project archives at the Canadian Centre for Architecture on carts throughout the site, and interacting with curious visitors. A Stroll was originally presented at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale at the Swiss Pavilion, where it was curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, who is also Senior Program Advisor at The Shed. On May 1, the evening panel discussion centered on Price’s Fun Palace and its impact on The Shed. Obrist and Prelude co-programmer Dorothea von Hantelmann set the stage by explaining why they included this work in the roster, and how its presentation explores the exhibition form itself. They correlated the Fun Palace’s interdisciplinary nature—opera, visual art, theater, dance—with Artistic Director Alex Poots’s background at the Manchester International Festival, the Park Avenue Armory and now The Shed. They were followed by Eleanor Bron, Cedric Price’s concubine (her preferred term for life partner), an actor best known for film roles in Help!, Alfie, Two for the Road, Bedazzled, and Women in Love, and Samantha Hardingham, interim director of the AA and author of Cedric Price Works, 19522003: A Forward-Minded RetrospectiveThey described the challenge for the self-described “anti-architect" to create a home for as many forms of fun in one spot as possible, and to open up science and culture to all. The Fun Palace, intended for the Olympics site in East London, was conceived as a permeable, moveable, gravity-defying open space without beginning or end, in contrast to the prevalent earthbound style of the times in Britain, Brutalism. It counted among is trustees Buckminster Fuller and violinist Yehudi Menuhin, and it nearly happened except for a drainage problem on the site. In another connection to The Shed, in 1999, Price submitted a proposal for Phyllis Lambert’s Hudson Yards competition, the current site of The Shed. Titled A Lung for Midtown Manhattan, Price was one of five finalists, who also included Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos, Morphosis, Reiser + Umemoto, and winner Peter Eisenman.  The jury consisted of Frank Gehry, Arata Isozaki, Philip Johnson, Rafael Moneo, Joseph Rose (City Planning Commissioner), and Elizabeth Diller. Notably, Diller voted for Price’s entry, which proposed leaving the space open with “wind-blinkers” to encourage breezes from the river to waft over Manhattan. Diller recounted the competition in the next panel, which also included David Rockwell and Kunlé Adeyemi. Diller and Rockwell discussed their approach to the design of The Shed:  to be forever contemporary, flexible but not generic, scalable, indoor and outdoor, unbranded and entrepreneurial. They said their key architecture reference was the Fun Palace, which was an architecture of infrastructure. They also questioned why we need one more cultural institution, since New York City already boasts 12,000. Referring to the moveable portion of The Shed, Rockwell pointed out that many theaters are meant to be flexible (think Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall), which are rarely utilized because it’s too difficult or expensive. For him, another lesson was from his TED Theater in Vancouver, an annual pop-up meant to be “live.” Here, the architecture does not dictate what happens inside. The evening was rounded out with Keller Easterling, an architect and Yale professor, who spoke on notions of theater in architectural spaces (in addition to being an architect, she has a background as a performance artist) and Caroline A. Jones, a professor at MIT Architecture, who found parallels in electronic technological modes of production in the art world.  They commented that presenters on stage facing the audience was the antithesis of the future Shed.
Placeholder Alt Text

Shacked Up

Take a peek at NLÉ Works’s Prelude to The Shed
The Shed, DS+R and the Rockwell Group's slick ETFE-padded arts building in Hudson Yards is a solid year away from hosting performances. In the meantime, The Shed's curators are teasing the public with Prelude to The ShedPrelude, for short—a temporary pavilion for dance, theater, and art right across the street from its still-under-construction sibling. Today The Architect's Newspaper got a first look at the structure and its inaugural exhibit on the Fun Palace, the conceptual 1960s theater that inspired The Shed. While the Shed was conceived by two large New York firms, Prelude was designed by Kunlé Adeyemi of Amsterdam- and Lagos-based NLÉ Works in collaboration with Tino Sehgal, an artist from Berlin who's also one of the event's programmers. The building, a reconfigured steel shed crossed with a party limo, is separated from 10th Avenue by an open plaza and a short flight of black stairs. To give performers an abundance of flex space, the front entrance is completely open to the elements, but the approach is staggered by oversized, movable Chesterfield chairs. Ultra-cushy seating wraps the interior and most of Prelude's exterior, a must for a initial 13-day free events program that's sold out its entire run. Its roofline is defined by a simple gable, a humble dwelling amid the towers of Hudson Yards. The structure backs onto a site that feels like an afterthought. A café is connected to Prelude by a standard-issue wheelchair ramp, and from its slightly elevated perch, visitors can gaze across a gravel lot where scattered potted plants suggest an attempt at landscape design. REX's crystalline 5 Manhattan West and Hudson Yards beam reflections onto each other from across the avenue, disorienting the eye a hundred feet above ground level. Blessedly, there are public restrooms. Prelude's seven programmers are engaging the public beyond architecture, and a packed events schedule promises to keep the space brimming with visitors. Today, volunteers stood around hospital carts filled with Hudson Yards ephemera, part of A stroll though the fun palace, an exhibit on Cedric Price and Joan Littlewood's never-built idea for a democratic performance and community gathering space. For the next two weeks, the programmers have tapped artists across media for a series of public performances. Each afternoon into evening, choreographer William Forsythe's Pas de Deux Cent Douze alternates with Sehgal's This variation. Beginning Thursday, Prelude will host evening shows by artists across genres (Atlanta's ABRA kicks off the festivities her signature take on R&B). Prelude's pre-opening program will run through May 13. More information on hours, performances, and events can be found here.
Placeholder Alt Text

Fantasy Lab

SCI-Arc show postulates a fictional energy future that doesn’t go far enough
In a recent installation at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), Mark Foster Gage Architects attempts to bring the notion of parafictional art fantasy to the realm of architecture—with mixed results. Gage’s Geothermal Futures Lab considers the notion that, given the current regime of “fake news” and “post-truth” reality, architects might have renewed license to create new visions for the future rooted primarily in fantasy. In lectures and writings, Gage argues that architects from Vitruvius onward have always engaged in some form or another with parallel or alternate versions of reality through their works and that conditions are ripe today for this tendency to take hold once again. Furthermore, Gage posits that these efforts represent a facet of the Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO) school of thought and could potentially be used to fend off the ever-increasing erosion—or flattening—of a shared reality that occurs when the people who lead and represent the nation are fundamentally preoccupied with telling lies. In the exhibition text, Gage asks, “Might architecture’s power in this new world be conducted through an elasticity of the real that encourages citizens to develop doubt about their presented realities—and therefore perhaps become more resistant to ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts?’” For the installation, Gage seizes this opportunity as a justification for postulating a new energy-generation technology called “laser ablation geothermal resonance” that draws its power from sources deep below the surface of the earth in order to sustainably supply Los Angeles with over two-thirds of its daily energy needs. To convey the fundamentals of this fictional energy revolution, Gage fills the SCI-Arc gallery with a stage setting meant to approximate a control center for the power generator, installing lab equipment, a metal detector, a faceted gold-leaf-covered reactor, a pile of rocks, and a collection of high-powered lasers and imaginary technical drawings for display. Technically speaking, the student-produced machine drawings are exquisite in their effusive and cheeky detail. Drawn to convey exploded axonometric views of the reactor and other components, the starkly outlined assemblage drawings also incorporate recognizable pop cultural elements, with hidden My Little Pony and Mr. Potato Head figurines buried within the constructions. The reactor mock-up is impressive in its detailing as well; it features the fractal and agglomerated geometries Gage’s other academic work is known for, while spewing fog from its lower extremity. But overall, the exhibition—and Gage’s interpretation of what parafictional fantasy in the era of “fake news” can provide to the field of architecture—falls flat. It’s not the physical objects that result from Gage’s exploration that are in question, but rather the interpretations that underlie them. For one, it belies a fundamental misreading of the current political-cultural moment to describe the Trumpian notion of “fake news” as a symptom of the so-called “great flattening” of intellectual hierarchies OOO represents. Practically speaking, “fake news” is not so much a product of the erosion of objective truth as much as it is an acknowledgment of multiple, covalent, and oftentimes contradictory perspectives that have always existed. Like it or not, “fake news” represents not merely plurality, but a new era of simultaneity writ large. The president and his lackeys have not so much created a fantasy world for their devotees to occupy as elevated a parallel existence that has always been very real to its adherents. In a lecture supporting the exhibition, Gage cites the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements as emblematic of “flattening” as well, a comparison that also doesn’t really apply. If OOO ideology is rooted in the “removal of human as primary subject” from perceived reality, how can two movements entirely rooted in acknowledging and prioritizing the fundamental humanity and agency of two often-maligned social groups serve as a case study? The comparison is flawed and problematic, representing a misunderstanding of not just what drives these movements, but also of what we can learn from them as architects, as well. And lastly, like so many other recent attempts at projecting future scenarios, the project is not really “speculative” in the literal sense and represents merely an intensification of existing modes and technologies, raising the question: If architecture’s power right now lies in its ability to speculate, what does it mean to have so many of its fantasies seem so underwhelmingly conventional? Southern California Institute of Architecture January 26 through March 4
Placeholder Alt Text

Jerome Avenue

City Council approves major Bronx rezoning
The New York City Council has approved a major rezoning of the Bronx’s Jerome Avenue, a vital thoroughfare in the East Bronx that’s lined with auto body shops and crowned by the elevated 4 and 5 trains. The rezoning has been in the works since 2016 and is the first in the Bronx under Mayor Bill de Blasio. The 92-block-long rezoning of the North-South street is meant to encourage the construction of up to 4,600 new housing units in the area, 1,150 of which will fall under the city’s affordable housing programs. The city will subsidize new construction, because it says rents in the area are too low to lure market-rate developments. The rezoning unanimously passed votes by both the City Planning Commission in January and the City Council’s Land Use and Zoning and Franchises Subcommittees in March, and was again unanimously approved by the City Council yesterday. The basic outline of the rezoning follows that of East Harlem, which passed in December of last year; the city had initially wanted to rezone the major commercial spine of the Bronx to allow for the densest development possible under the zoning code (R7, R8, R9). Opponents who felt that the rezoning would displace local businesses and drive up rent costs throughout the area were opposed, as was Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who negotiated with the de Blasio administration to preserve more than 2,000 units of affordable housing. As part of the new conditions of the final deal, the city will include $189 million for improving the area’s parks and streetscapes, including pedestrian safety upgrades and lighting, cameras and crosswalks under the elevated subway tracks. The construction of two 458-seat elementary schools are also part of the package, as is an anti-harassment bill–to prevent landlords from pushing out tenants–and a $1.5 million grant for retraining and relocating displaced businesses. The Bronx rezoning, the fifth of 15 planned neighborhood rezonings under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, follows those in East New York, Far Rockaway, Midtown East, and East Harlem.
Placeholder Alt Text

Culture Shock

Studio Gang and SCAPE unveil plans for Arkansas Arts Center expansion
What does a cultural hub for the 21st century require? With their newly unveiled design for the Arkansas Arts Center in Little RockStudio Gang and SCAPE Landscape Architecture have a few ideas in mind: flexibility, inclusivity, community, and a nod to sustainability. The expansion and renovation, which is scheduled to break ground in 2019 and open in 2022, addresses a number of concerns from the existing 1937 structure and the work of eight subsequent additions. ("A very complicated puzzle," as museum director Todd Herman described the existing space.) In addition to selective demolition that will reveal the original facade, the first course of action involved uniting the spaces, which the architects plan to accomplish with the addition of a pleated covered walkway spine that links the city-facing north entrance with a new southern entrance connected to parkland. “Starting from the inside out, the design clarifies the organization of the building and extends its presence into MacArthur Park and out to Crescent Lawn,” Studio Gang Founding Principal Jeanne Gang said in a statement. “By doing so, the Center becomes a vibrant place for social interaction, education, and appreciation for the arts.” In addition to the central corridor, the expansion will also include an indoor-outdoor dining space and a multifunctional area called the Cultural Living Room that's designed to welcome visitors to engage and relax, while also offering space for large-scale events and performances. Specific attention will be paid to the sustainability of the materials and mechanical systems, underscoring the connection to nature that's at the core of the project, which has been described as a "museum in a forest." Critical to that concept is the SCAPE's new plan for the landscape, which increases parkland with more than 250 new tress and a variety of new paths and trails. SCAPE founder Kate Orff found inspiration for the design in Little Rock's unique ecology, which spans from the Mississippi Delta to the bluffs of Emerald Park. “This an exciting moment for the Arkansas Arts Center, central Arkansas, and the entire state,” Herman said of the $70 million project in a statement. “The reimagined Arts Center will be a welcoming place that encourages prolonged and meaningful interaction with the collection and programs at the Arts Center. It is intended to be a gathering place for the community that highlights the interplay between the AAC and the surrounding park.”