For those who want to take in history, design, and nightlife, Berlin is the place. Visiting and want to take in some of the sights and sounds? Or on a trip for the Bauhaus centennial? The city has something to offer everyone, and AN has compiled a list of what those with design on the brain should check out. The Chipperfield Kantine Joachimstrasse 11 10119 Berlin Mitte Rosenthaler Platz The office of English architect David Chipperfield is inside of a converted piano factory in Mitte. The redbrick building sits behind a spare, bright white courtyard where the architect has designed a beautifully detailed concrete box that also houses the restaurant Kantine. A reasonably priced menu of fresh local products served on spare Chipperfield-designed tableware—it is the best lunch spot in the city. Trouvé Schwedter Strasse 9 10119 Berlin trouve-berlin.de This store is a fantasyland of objects for architects and designers. Its owners, Michel Vincenot and Sabine Riedel, source lighting, seating, storage, tables, and graphics by preeminent European designers of the 20th century: Carlo Scarpa, Gio Ponti, Achille Castiglioni, Christian Dell, and German designers from the Bauhaus. This Wilhelm Wagenfeld glass tea service is 200 euros (approximately $233). Hotel Oderberger Oderberger Strasse 57 10435 Berlin hotel-oderberger.berlin A Neo-Renaissance-style hotel over a 19th-century public swimming pool makes this a very Berlin experience. It’s reasonably priced, and surrounded by cafes, bars, the trendy shopping street Kastanienallee, and Mauerpark. The park is also a unique “free park” where all sorts of public gatherings go on through the night, and the grass is untended, as Berliners don’t want chemicals used to maintain any public landscape. Topography of Terror topographie.de Berlin has multiple reminders of its fraught and charged history. Peter Eisenman’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum are powerful design statements, but equally powerful and less well known is the Topography of Terror Museum. On the site of what was once the headquarters of the Nazi Secret State Police, SS, and Reich Security, it was designed in 2010 by Ursula Wilms and landscape architect Heinz Hallmann. It is a truly frightening architectural experience. The Paris Bar Kantstrasse 152 10623 Berlin parisbar.net A bright red neon sign over the entrance announces The Paris Bar, the legendary Charlottenburg late night art bar. Its walls are covered with art from its regular patrons. Several years ago, it had to auction off its Martin Kippenberger for $3 million to pay back taxes. It’s the Odeon of Berlin, and its steak frites are the best in the city—but unlike its New York counterpart, it can’t make a decent martini. Pauly Saal at Jewish School for Girls Auguststrasse 11–13 10117 Berlin paulysaal.com maedchenschule.org Alexander Beer was the chief architect for the Jewish community of Berlin, and in 1927 he designed a girls’ school at Auguststrasse 11-13 in Mitte. It is a rare example of the modernist Neue Sachlichkeit style, with beautifully crafted materials. The school was eventually closed, Beer died in a concentration camp, and the building was confiscated by the government. The school was repurposed in 2012 as the Center for Art and Dining Culture, which is open to the public. Besides art galleries, it holds a New York delicatessen, Mogg & Melzer, and the pricey but excellent Pauly Saal Restaurant.
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"I'm a Whore"
Just how much of a Nazi was Philip Johnson?
In The Man in the Glass House, released today, author Mark Lamster puts some meat on the bones of rumors of Philip Johnson’s many muddled improprieties. “I’m a whore,” Johnson was known to proclaim, and from his curation of the first show on modernism at the Museum of Modern Art in 1932 to his willingness to let Donald Trump "Make Philip Johnson Great Again" (after the architect’s falling out with the partners that launched his second coming as a postmodernist), Johnson has proved to be American architecture and design’s most storied strumpet. He played whatever role he wished without much consequence. A gossip but also an intellectual, it is easy to picture Johnson among today’s Elon Musks or Kanye Wests, a man of power fueled on provocation, publicity, and greasy alliances with often hollow reasoning and confusing motivations. Would he quote this and retweet it? Absolutely. Most sensational is Johnson’s interest in the Nazis, beginning in the early 1930s with an excitable viewing of a Hitler Youth rally in Berlin, continuing with an essay titled Architecture of the Third Reich, and the design of a grandstand for a noted anti-Semitic Catholic Priest. While in Germany in the late 1930s, Johnson dined with Nazi financiers, telling the FBI later that the meals were “purely social.” Johnson hoped that the Nazis would jump on his idealized design agenda, but he would ultimately be unsatisfied by their disinterest. In the 1950s, Johnson would denounce his association with the Nazi party and partially atone for it by designing Israel's Soreq Nuclear Research Center and later the Kneses Tifereth Israel Synagogue and forgoing his fee, a hollow gesture considering Johnson’s lifelong wealth. He would later justify his attraction to the Nazis in sexual terms, having more to do with his homoerotic fascination of their uniforms than their ideology. AN has compiled the following quotes from The Man in the Glass House that provide insight into his Nazi past: "The Nazis were 'Daylight into the ever-darkening atmosphere of contemporary America.'” Philip Johnson, pg. 165 “Submission to an artistic dictator is better than an anarchy of selfish personal opinion.” PJ, pg. 93 “Later he would rather unconvincingly justify his attraction to the Nazis in sexual terms, as a kind of homoerotic fascination with the Nazi aesthetic: all those chiseled blond men in jackboots and pressed uniforms. It was easier to whitewash sexual desire than the egregious social and political ideas that truly captivated him.”Mark Lamster, pg. 114 PJ on witnessing bombings in Poland: “the German green uniforms made the place look gay and happy.” PJ, pg. 179 “At the time he believed, however naively, that National Socialism might still be reconciled with modernism. He outlined this position in an essay, 'Architecture in the Third Reich,' that Lincoln Kirsten published in the October 1933 issue of Hound & Horn. Johnson conceded that the Bauhaus was 'Irretrievably' tarnished by its association with Communism, but suggested Mies was an 'apolitical figure who would satisfy the new craving for monumentality' while proving that 'the new Germany is not bent on destroying all the modern acts which have been bent up in recent years.' Hitler’s racist and menacing rhetoric, that he might be bent on destroying more than just modern art, was left unmentioned.” ML, pg. 118 “Johnson hoped that the Nazis would come around to the monumental power and abstract beauty of the Miesian aesthetic, and in that wish he would always be disappointed.” ML, pg. 94 “When interviewed in 1942, Johnson’s former secretary Ruth Merrill told the FBI that Johnson believed 'the fate of the country' rested on his shoulders, and that he wanted to be the ‘Hitler’ in the United States.” ML, pg. 139 “Johnson would later admit to the FBI that he attended American Nazi Party rallies at Madison Square Garden, and became a financial benefactor of the Christian Mobilizers, an anti-Semitic organization of street brawlers.” ML, pg. 169 “We seem to forget, also, that we live in a community of people to which we are bound by the ties of existence, to some of whom we owe allegiance and obedience and to others of whom we owe leadership and instruction.” PJ, pg. 163 “A more plausible scenario is that Johnson was exchanging information on the activities, politics, and membership of American fascist circles, and discussing the means by which the Germans might disseminate their propaganda. According to records captured after the war, the Nazi diplomats were specifically interested in obtaining mailing lists and names of individuals who might be sympathetic to their cause…Johnson, who had built a network of nationalist supporters in both Ohio and New York, was in a position to deliver precisely that type of material. Indeed, Johnson had been keeping confidential lists of would-be supporters since April 1934, when he instructed his private secretary, Ruth Merrill, to take names at the first fascist gathering at the duplex apartment he shared in New York with his sister.” ML, pg. 165
Who Runs the World
How city terrain affects runners at the world's major marathon sites
Looking ahead to this Sunday’s New York City Marathon where over 50,000 runners will traverse the city’s five boroughs, we’re thinking about the roles that topography and urbanism play in the world’s longest running courses. The Abbott World Marathon Majors is composed of six races in four countries, including three in the United States. Though all the host cities are highly-populated metropolitan areas, they vary in size and density and all feature distinct geographies that change the way runners battle through the race. TCS New York City Marathon In New York, runners cross three major bridges and power through the city’s undulating terrain, some of it flat and some of it extremely hilly due to the Manhattan schist that elevates the northernmost parts of the Big Apple. One of the features of this race, and every race within the World Marathon Majors, is that it gives people—not cars—the chance to take over streets and other major pieces of infrastructure. Now in its 48th year, the marathon starts at the edge of Staten Island. Runners get an initial high over the 13,700-foot-long Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, a Robert Moses-backed project, and run north up 4th Avenue from southern Brooklyn to Greenpoint. After a brief stint in Long Island City, Queens dotted with shiny, new towering residential properties, runners cross the Queensboro Bridge and begin a six-mile jaunt through Manhattan, the Bronx, and back into Manhattan to the end in Central Park. As one of the world’s most walkable cities, runners will have plenty architectural distractions along the 26-mile route. But with a total ascent of nearly 853 feet and a maximum elevation of 195 above sea level, the long and swelling course in New York is not for the faint of heart. Tokyo Marathon The youngest race in the World Marathon Majors, the Tokyo Marathon has existed since 2007 and features little change in elevation due to the city’s location on the coast of Japan. Rising to just 134 feet above sea level, but largely maintaining an average of 5 feet above grade, the extensive course zigzags through the heart of the city and across the Sumida River. The race begins at the Kenzo Tange-designed Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, a 48-story tower that, though surrounded by other gray-toned architecture, still maintains its identity as a landmark in Tokyo. The building resembles a giant, cathedral-shaped computer chip. The course heads directly east toward downtown Tokyo past the 19th-century Imperial Palace, then loops through Asakusa, home of the famous Buddhist temple, Sensō-ji, down to Koto, through Ginza, and the Shinagawa business district in Tokyo Bay. Runners will end the race by cutting through Hibiya Park and hitting Tokyo Station. It’s the only course in the competition where participants double loop the parts of the route. The Boston Marathon As the world’s oldest annual marathon dating back to 1897, the Boston Marathon is also New England’s largest sporting event, attracting over 50,000 spectators and 30,000 participants. The historic course runs straight through eight cities and towns in the Boston metropolitan area, starting on East Main Street in Hopkinton and following Routes 35, 16, and 30. Finishers cross into downtown Boston and end near the John Hancock Tower in Copley Square after largely descending in elevation from the top of the course. The long route allows runners to explore Boston’s Middlesex County and race by the scenery between each colonial town. Overall, the race is very hilly. The course begins at 450 feet above sea level and drops drastically, eventually resting around the 150- to 200-foot mark from miles 3.5 to 15. From Newtown to Brookline at mile 19, runners will climb the infamous Heartbreak Hill before descending to sea level in the last two miles. Bank of America Chicago Marathon Beginning and ending in Chicago’s own front yard, Grant Park, runners go through 29 neighborhoods in one large loop, with each of the city’s main stadiums set as turning points. As one of the most architecturally revered cities in the U.S., runners have the opportunity to pass by some of Chicago's stand-out structures and get a feel for its physical and cultural diversity. The 45,000 participants start the flat race in downtown Chicago, catching glimpses of Millennium Park, the mid-century Prudential Building, and the Loop. After crossing north up LaSalle Street to Lincoln Park, they’ll hit Wrigley Field at mile 8 before heading south to Old Town, which sports Chicago’s Victorian-era homes, as well as St. Michael’s Church, one of the only buildings still standing from before the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In the industrial River North neighborhood, runners will fly by Merchandise Mart, home to galleries, as well as residential and design showrooms. On the West Side of Chicago, participants pass by the famous Union Station and St. Patrick’s Church, the city’s oldest public building, before hitting Little Italy, Pilsen, and all its wall murals, as well as Chinatown. Before heading back up Michigan Avenue to Grant Park, runners go by the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology, which is next to Bronzeville, a place called the “Birthplace of the Blues.” In the historic Gap section of the neighborhood, Frank Lloyd Wright built a set of rowhouses. BMW Berlin Marathon Established in 1974, today’s course for the Berlin Marathon hasn’t always been in place. Before 1990, the race was held solely on the city’s west side. Just months after the fall of the Berlin Wall that June, participants were able to run through East Berlin with tears in their eyes. The course today is configured in a large loop. It starts at 38 meters above sea level and never rises above 53 meters. It’s largely flat and features very few sharp corners, making it one of the fastest long-distance routes in the world. Runners begin at the neoclassical Brandenburg Gate in the historic Pariser Platz. They then head west through Grober Tiergarten Park before crossing the river Spree. Heading into East Berlin, participants loop through Friedrichshain, Neukölln, Kreuzberg, Schoneberg, and Steglitz, eventually going into Charlottenburg, and downtown Berlin. Because of the city’s stark past, Berlin is relatively young and many major developments are less than 30 years old. Runners will start in an iconic and old part of the city, but eventually stumble upon newer structures such as Norman Foster’s Reichstag building and Potsdamer Platz, the city’s main square with a masterplan by Hilmer & Sattler, and designs by Renzo Piano and Helmut Jahn. Virgin Money London Marathon Following the flow of the River Thames, the relatively flat London Marathon attracts amateurs, charity fundraisers, and serious runners from around the world. It started in 1981 and the slithery course—which begins in Blackheath, passes through Greenwich, and ends in St. James near Buckingham Palace—has barely been altered since the original race 37 years ago. Participants travel through two of London’s major parks, visit dockyards, the Royal Artillery Barracks, and file through the neighborhoods of Deptford, Surrey Quay, and Wapping after crossing Tower Bridge. While the Tube is arguably the fastest way to get around London’s sprawling metropolis, running this annual race gives visitors a chance to see the city at their own pace. Some of the city’s most notable developments are directly on or near the River Thames, such as the near-complete London Bridge Station that’s been in the works for eight years.
Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron has released revised renderings for its four-story addition to Berlin's Kulturforum (Culture Forum) complex. The firm's winning entry for the Museum of the 20th Century, first revealed in 2016, is intended to increase gallery space for the Mies van der Rohe–designed Neue Nationalgalerie, store artworks, and connect the different cultural institutions in the area. The design is developed in collaboration with the Neue Nationalgalerie, the Berlin State Museums, and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. The building nods to the nearby Matthew Church in both its materiality and form, with its pixelated brick patterning and a vernacular gabled roof profile. The design also references warehouses, barns, and train stations. News renderings show a building with distinct facades on each side and multiple entry points that open to different parts of the cultural complex and the city, with a central area for showcasing large-scale modernist art. The multiple-entry design also allows for events to take place in a screening theatre outside of regular museum hours. Overall, the museum demonstrates a decidedly urban ethos in fully embracing its surrounding context, from the architecture by van der Rohe and Hans Scharoun to much older structures. According to Jaques Herzog, "Our urban planning concept for the Kulturforum is a concept of density, not of emptiness. It organizes an interplay of buildings put into precise relation with each other, and it also initiates the interaction of the cultural institutions established in those buildings."
As part of the 100th anniversary of Germany’s groundbreaking Bauhaus school, the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow is exhibiting Moving Away: The Internationalist Architect through November 30, 2018. Moving Away is presented as part of the multi-national bauhaus imaginista project that tracks the influence of the Bauhaus in different countries. At the Garage Museum, the legacy of the Bauhaus in the Soviet Union will be on display. Moving Away will use drawings, letters, notes, diagrams, plans, and photographs of Bauhaus students and educators in Moscow to contextualize their (and their movement’s) relationships with socialism and communism, Moscow itself, and the Soviet Union. Those connected to the second Bauhaus director, architect Hannes Meyer, will be given a particular focus: architect Lotte Stam-Beese, urban planner Konrad Püschel, and architect Philipp Tolziner. Through the examination of these personal materials, Moving Away seeks to humanize the history of modernist utopian design. Although the Bauhaus only lasted from 1919 to 1933, after which the school was unceremoniously closed by the Nazi party, the modernist institution and its ethos of bridging the divide between fine art and architecture had an outsize effect on design history, and Moving Away is far from the only centennial celebration planned. For Moving Away, the Garage Museum asked contemporary artists and theorists to contextualize and respond to the aforementioned archival materials. The show will present the original documents, as well as the responses from theorist Doreen Mende, artist Alice Creischer, and researchers Tatiana Efrussi and Daniel Talesnik. The architecture and design studio Kooperative für Darstellungspolitik handled the exhibition design. Bauhaus imaginista was organized with cooperation from the Bauhaus Kooperation Berlin Dessau Weimar, Goethe-Institut, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, and pulls together archival material from Bauhaus Archive Berlin, the Bauhaus Dessau Archive, the German Architecture Museum Frankfurt (DAM), the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture at ETH Zurich, and the Netherlands Architecture Institute, according to the Garage Museum.
An exhibit in Berlin details a new prototype for prefab housing
A new exhibition at Architektur Galerie Berlin SATELLIT details the Polish firm BBGK Architekci and their recently completed Sprzeczna 4 apartment building in Warsaw, Poland. Manifesto of Prefabrication, on view through Saturday, September 29, explains why this multifamily complex is an innovative prototype for modular housing in the country. Most housing estates built in Poland during the communist period feature large-panel concrete in prefabricated designs. This typology is ubiquitous throughout the country, especially in the capital city of Warsaw, and it has a poor reputation for being ugly, impersonal, and unsustainable. BBGK constructed Sprzeczna 4 in protest against this conception and to show that prefabrication is a valuable construction method for 21st-century housing. The complex utilizes low-cost technology, prefabricated elements, and heated ceiling systems to achieve a cohesive, contextually appropriate design. Ample light infuses the apartments through large windows framed by exposed colored concrete. Sprzeczna 4 not only flips stereotypes about traditional modular construction in Poland, but it also sheds light on past improper building practices. Historically these buildings were built by poorly paid immigrants through a semi-feudal system, but BBGK implemented fair business practices and social responsibility to create this contemporary twist on conventional Polish housing. According to the curator, Marcin Szczelina, the project is a proposal for a new way of using the prefabrication method not only in Poland, but in Europe and beyond. Manifesto of Prefabrication can be seen this week only at the Architektur Galerie Berlin SATELLIT. It is open Tuesday to Friday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Barbara Bloom is not an architect. Yet, her current exhibition, part of FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, would fit in at any of the innumerable architecture biennials and triennials around the world. Entitled The Rendering (H x W x D =), the solo exhibition explores the relationships between images, objects, and space. Located in the Robert Venturi–designed Ellen Johnson Gallery, at the Allen Memorial Art Museum on the campus of Oberlin College, Bloom takes full advantage of the museum’s collection and the gallery’s pedigree. Invoking architectural language and imagery, the installation is at once both thoughtful and funny. With the Ellen Johnson Gallery, Venturi actively questioned the logic of the typical white box, and Bloom uses this to her advantage. Divided into several discrete pieces, The Rendering reverse engineers a number of two-dimensional architectural images into three-dimensional installations. In each case, Bloom uses primary documents from the museum’s collection, and in one case engages with the building itself. This happens in a glass corner looking out onto Venturi’s “Ironic Ionic” column. Like the other pieces Bloom constructed for the show, the column is matched with a series of column drawings, effectively making Venturi an unaware collaborator in the project. The other pieces in the show include a bridge, garden, tea house, and screen, which are all constructed based on overly literal readings of historic architectural drawings. The largest piece, Garden, for example, is based on a 19th-century Indian print, which is a mix of perspective, plan, and axonometric drawing techniques. As such, the construction fluctuates from legible to confusing (in a good way) as the viewer moves around the piece. A similar effect takes place with the Tea House, which, on first inspection, looks to be a traditional Japanese space for tea ceremonies. This reading falls apart as one works out the relationships of angles and surfaces, which were pulled directly from an 18th-century woodblock print. These larger pieces are augmented by two series of flat works that flank the entry to the gallery. One set of 20 works from the museum’s collection are “framed” in such a way to hide most of the image, revealing only select architectural moments. Another set of photographs curated by the artist from the larger museum collection are hung to temper the palette of viewers entering the space. This attention to procession into the space is just another example of how the artist worked in a distinctly architectural way while conceiving the show. The FRONT Triennial has many exhibitions and pieces that architects may find interested, but Bloom's The Rendering is likely the most directly relatable. The Frank Lloyd Wright–designed Weltzheimer/Johnson House is also hosting works by artist Juan Araujo, and the Richard D. Baron ’64 Art Gallery has the striking architectural paintings of Ciu Jie, both just a short distance from the college. Though these works are a bit of a hike from Cleveland, where most of the triennial is taking place, they are well worth the trip. Considering the popular argument that all these new architecture biennials are, in the end, mostly self-absorbant, it is somehow fitting that the best architectural installations might just be happening at art shows. The Rendering (H x W x D =) and FRONT will be open through September 30 at at the Allen Memorial Art Museum and across the City of Cleveland.
Wheel of Misfortune
New York City's massive Staten Island ferris wheel may never spin
For the past six years, the St. George neighborhood of Staten Island in New York City has been anxiously awaiting the arrival of what would be one of the city’s greatest landmark attractions: the giant, 630-foot New York Wheel with views of the New York Harbor, Statue of Liberty, and New York City skyline. While over $400 million has been sunk into the project since its conception, little has been done to get the ball rolling. Construction has barely begun, and Mayor de Blasio recently signaled that it may not ever happen. The main problem is the cost. The New York City Economic Development Corporation reported that the estimated cost of the Wheel has skyrocketed from $250 million when the project was first proposed in 2012 to a devastating $999 million under the de Blasio administration. When the Wheel’s developer, New York Wheel LLC, asked the city for $140 million in support, de Blasio rejected their pleas, refusing to bail out the floundering project. His administration told New York 1 that the city government is “clear-eyed about the risks of putting public money into an expensive, speculative project.” The New York Wheel promised to transform the humble yet densely packed neighborhood of St. George into a world-class, waterfront destination. Aside from the Wheel itself, whose 36 spacious and climate-controlled pods would provide visitors with fine food, drink, and breathtaking views of the city, the site also comprises five acres of publically accessible grass space for events, a state-of-the-art children’s playground, and a terminal building with restaurants, shops, and boutiques. The project would have potentially revitalized Staten Island, a borough that has long been neglected by New York City tourists. Yet the government’s decision to oppose the funding of the New York Wheel comes after a surge of similar projects in cities like Berlin and Beijing that eventually failed due to a lack of support and income. “Despite many recent conversations with the Wheel developer, we remain convinced that public funds are too scare and valuable to be leveraged for this venture,” an official with the Economic Development Corporation told New York 1. Since the Wheel’s developer and former contractor, Mammoet-Starneth, hoped to rely on the city for financial provision, the two parties were forced to craft a new deal that would give the development team until January 7, 2019 to hire a new contractor and complete the project. According to Staten Island Advance, a hearing on a motion to approve the agreement has been set for September 21. Until then, the fate of the Wheel remains unknown.
Sergei Tchoban wins the 2018 European Prize for Architecture
Architect Sergei Tchoban, a founding partner at Sergei Tchoban Voss Architekten, has been named the 2018 European Prize for Architecture laureate. The prize is Europe’s highest architectural recognition and is jointly presented by The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design. Tchoban’s modernist-inspired work has been a mainstay of Berlin for the last 20 years, and spans a variety of forms, colors, and uses, from religious institutions to cultural buildings, to offices and commercial centers. The president and CEO of The Chicago Athenaeum, Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, said in a statement:
We are delighted to present The European Prize for Architecture to this highly innovative and creative Russian/German architect that has been instrumental in shaping in our time an unprecedented and inspiring discourse between art and architecture with the keen ability to bridge and transform imagination and the creative mind into the actual built works in the environments in which they are placed. His is a most rare, thought-provoking, and profound approach to architecture, extensions of his life, his philosophy, and his intellect, that fuse the power of imagination into the final end product—the building.It’s important to note that the European Prize for Architecture isn’t a lifetime achievement award, but rather meant to draw attention to an architect’s work and spark further innovation; some of the past mid-career winners of the prize include Bjarke Ingels, Santiago Calatrava, Graft Architects, TYIN Architects, Marco Casagrande, Alessandro Mendini, LAVA Laboratory for Visionary Architecture, and Manuelle Gautrand. Tchoban has also been recognized for his drafting and drawing abilities, and he founded the Tchoban Foundation – Museum for Architectural Drawing in Berlin in 2009 to nurture the hand drafting and drawing talent of young architects. Tchoban has also been designing in Russia since 2003 and helped design Europe’s tallest skyscraper, the 1,226-foot-tall Federation Tower, in Moscow with architect Peter Paul Schweger. Tchoban was also one of the curators of the Russian Pavilion for the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale. “In my projects, I try to go beyond the boundaries of the accustomed Modernist minimalism,” said Tchoban, “which is based on producing a particular perfection of the architectural detail, but does not quite reach that atmospheric environment, which we admire in our favorite cities.”
Four Corners of the Earth
Urban Intermedia at Harvard shines light on gaps in urban studies
From now until October 14, visitors to the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) can enjoy the fruits of urban research from four cities: Berlin, Istanbul, Mumbai, and Boston. Urban Intermedia: City, Archive, Narrative is the product of four years of research, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and compares and contrasts the history and growth of each city to find commonalities and differences. That four-year project was spearheaded by the GSD’s Eve Blau, who curated the show with Robert Pietrusko, as part of the Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative. The exhibition is a culmination of the team’s research but is also intended to spur discussion and gather feedback on the future direction of the project. Höweler + Yoon Architecture handled the installation design of Urban Intermedia in the school's Druker Design Gallery, centered around four concrete stations, one for each city, where narratives are projected. These narratives are a combination of spatial and historical information and present open-ended stories that are meant to encourage viewers to dig deeper. These narratives delve into the three key themes that guided the research in each city: the planned and unplanned, a look into formal and informal placemaking; migration and mobility, how the residents and others move through each city; and nature and technology, examinations of each city’s infrastructure and urban ecology. Urban Intermedia has previously been on display in Istanbul and Berlin this past year, and the GSD’s Stephen Gray has added a Boston-centric supplement to the show’s Harvard homecoming. The new section in the current exhibition adds archival materials that contextualize the role of race, space, and power in Boston’s development and covers three eras of the city’s growth. Gray solicited Boston-based collections for “race and space” materials and received contributions from institutions such as the Boston Globe, Boston Public Library, Northeastern University, and Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center. A 33-foot-long, wooden meeting table has also been installed as a place to exchange ideas. Lectures, classes, and discussions will be hosted at the table, which will serve as a site of “active research” until the exhibition’s closing in October.
Process comes to life in Berlin architectural drawing show
The exhibition Opening Lines: Sketchbooks of Ten Modern Architects features selections from one of the world’s great architecture drawing collections installed in the most important gallery devoted to the subject. The exhibit at Berlin’s unique Tchoban Foundation is spectacular for anyone interested in architectural drawing and its relationship to the larger built and unbuilt culture. The drawings are from Drawing Matter, the personal archive of Englishman Niall Hobhouse (a few works from other collections were donated for the show), which is normally housed in the Somerset countryside of England. In Berlin, it includes 80 drawings and 140 sketchbooks, films, audio interviews, virtual, and analog facsimiles. The collection is still being actively assembled by Hobhouse who with the intellect and trained eye of an art dealer collects drawings that represent key projects from the most important architects. The archive specializes in early drawings, particularly extended notebooks of master designers like Peter and Alison Smithson, James Gowan, Aldo Rossi, the Italian Radicals of the 1960s, and Álvaro Siza. The collection could itself be a stand-alone architecture drawing museum, but for this Tchoban edition Hobhouse and curators Tina DiCarlo and Olivia Horsfall Turner have selected renderings, working drawings, theoretical sketches and doodles from Hans Poelzig, Le Corbusier, Alberto Ponis, Adolfo Natalini of Superstudio, Álvaro Siza, Tony Fretton, Marie-José Van Hee, Peter Märkli, Níall McLaughlin, and Riet Eeckhout. The range and depth of the Drawing Matter collection allows the exhibit to begin with a magnificent swirling and vibrating 1922 Hans Poelzig charcoal sketch for a monument in a university courtyard. This charcoal is a more spirited example of the possibilities of expressionism than any of his earthbound buildings. In fact, many of the drawings in the exhibition help us better understand their resulting built works either because their construction masks their intentions or possibly misses the mark of the drawn idea. Peter Märkli’s 1992 ballpoint sketch for La Congiunta, fleshes out the intentions of his building, which in its extreme concrete soberness can seem like little more than a Swiss box without knowing or seeing the drawing. A confident 1986 Tony Fretton ink sketch for a door jamb in the Lisson Gallery highlights the thought and intention behind his minimal aesthetic which again can easily fall away for the inhabitant of the building. But it is with a vitrine of multiple sketchbooks by Adolfo Natalini, opened to a series of his 1969 ink drawings of the Continuous Monument, where we can truly see the open-ended, discursive potential of drawing. It shows the evolution of ‘monumenta continua’ from its inception as town planning for a scaled ring around Florence to its first public presentation in Grazerzimmer (room of Graz) to a furniture concept and then a hovering structure over the cityscape of Manhattan. Hand drawings were the primary tools of the architecture debate in 1969 when he co-created Continuous Monument and it is impossible to comprehend the power of these images at the time they first appeared without seeing these sketchbooks. The possibilities of sketching, even doodling, as thinking are highlighted by Niall McLaughlin’s colored felt-tip pen drawings of the Alzheimer’s Respite Centre which are framed in the shape of a brain. In McLaughlin’s drawing and handwritten text on view we can see his brain thinking out the possibilities of an architecture for the Alzheimer’s facility. The exhibition returns to contemporary architecture drawing when it is more art than architecture. A nearly three-foot-long 2018 graphite drawing on film Drawing Out Gehry by Riet Eeckhout is draped over rods on the wall as if it were from Gehry technologies and seems more installation than usable working drawing. This final hand drawing is meant to present the notion of the long digitally produced continuous surface as a replacement for the old-fashioned sketchbook. The exhibition is accompanied by a series of online articles online and by monographic publications on the sketch practices of Álvaro Siza, Adolfo Natalini, Tony Fretton, and Niall McLaughlin. The Natalini text explains the power of the architectural drawing:
I approach a project from several sides, each time engaging in a full body contact with the place, the program, and the limits. The weapons I have available in this battle (which is more like Jacob’s wrestling with the angel or a battle of love) are few, and among these drawing is the most important. Drawing allows me to be a lot quicker, and at the same time, it forces me to stay rooted to the page and the project for long periods…Drawings produce other drawings and these, other drawings again, and in this way, gradually the labyrinth appears and project emerges.Opening Lines: Sketchbooks of Ten Modern Architects Tchoban Foundation. Museum for Architectural Drawing, Berlin June 30–October 7
A Place for Parks
Rosa Parks house reconstructed and put up for sale
Artnet News recently reported on a Berlin-based artist who reconstructed one of Rosa Parks's homes and is now trying to sell it to an American institution so that it can be publicly displayed. The Rosa Parks house sheltered the famous civil rights pioneer after she left Montgomery, Alabama, for Detroit, Michigan, because of death threats that she was receiving because of her activism. After Parks's death the building was eventually abandoned and fell into disrepair, and the City of Detroit had slated the structure for demolition. The house was saved by Rhea McCauley, Parks's niece, who bought it for $500 in 2014. She then offered the building to Ryan Mendoza, an American artist based out of Berlin who had previous experience moving a house from Detroit to the Netherlands, so that he could move the building to a secure location. He then deconstructed the house, shipped it to Berlin, and rebuilt it in the European capital. Artnet News talked to both McCauley and Mendoza, who said that Berlin was just a stopping point for the house while he found a more permanent custodian for the structure in the U.S., where it could potentially serve as part of an educational exhibit on the life of Parks, the civil rights movement, or the history of African American housing throughout the past century. As Mendoza notes in the artnet News article, the Parks house is a testament to the low-quality structures that many African Americans were forced to accept as racist policies and redlining excluded them from housing loans and affluent neighborhoods. The article reported that Mendoza and McCauley were having trouble finding a suitable buyer, but that they are continuing their search and still hope to bring the structure back to the U.S.