Search results for "east new york"

Placeholder Alt Text

Quirky AF

Architecture AF restores a distinctive mid-century Andrew Geller home
The Antler House, a delightfully quirky vacation home designed by the midcentury architect Andrew Geller in the East Hamptons, has been almost irreparably modified since it was first completed in 1968. While previous occupants have replaced original, handmade details with catalog materials and modern appliances more times than one can count, the current owners, Chris Fisher and Blair Moritz, sought to restore the minuscule space back to its original charm after purchasing it in 2014. The clients commissioned the Brooklyn- and Richmond, Virginia-based firm Architecture AF to pour through original documents to return the home to its heyday while carefully adding 21st comforts. The team began by stripping away the subsequent additions and restoring the original cedar cladding, the texture of which now nearly steals the spotlight in every one of the home’s oddly-shaped rooms. All of the original gypsum board has been replaced with fragrant #2 cedar, while midcentury and midcentury-inspired furniture has been added to the space to further the home’s design origins. “In a neighborhood replete with trophy homes,” the architects write on their website, “we are proud and gracious to have had the opportunity to restore a mid-century work of art that another owner may have razed.” The firm’s major design contribution comes in the form of a raised deck accessible via a boldly triangular staircase that compliments the overall geometry of the original building. They were careful, however, to keep the vast majority of the surrounding landscape untouched. “A conservationist at heart,” they explain, “Geller believed that no house should occupy more than 20 [percent] of the site.” The Antler House is just one of many vacation homes Geller designed along the East Coast, all of which are similarly eccentric and creatively low budget. The architect, a relatively unsung design figure, has been behind some of the most significant projects of modern design and political history, including the interiors of SOM’s Lever House in Manhattan and, according to the New York Times, the “typical American house” that shaped the background of the infamous Kitchen Debate between then-Vice President Richard M. Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev.
Placeholder Alt Text

Beantown Lockdown

Boston imposes citywide moratorium on construction

Boston has suspended construction activity throughout the city as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced Monday that the moratorium on construction work would go into effect on Tuesday, March 17, and construction sites need to be secured by March 23.

Walsh’s action comes after he declared a public health emergency in Boston, postponed the Boston Marathon, and canceled the St Patrick’s Day Parade over infection concerns. It makes Boston one of the first cities or districts in the U. S., other than those in complete lockdown or quarantine, to ban construction activity as a way of fighting the coronavirus. The move comes at a time when the city and region are booming with construction activity, from affordable housing to high-rise office buildings. Walsh did not say how long work will be suspended, but he indicated it’s likely to be at least 14 days.

“Effective tomorrow, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, we are suspending all regular activity on construction sites in the city of Boston,” Walsh said in a briefing yesterday. “The only work that we are anticipating right now moving forward in the city will be emergency work” approved by the city’s Inspectional Services Department.

“These decisions that we make are not easy, but they’re out of an abundance of caution,” he added. “It’s about protecting the worker and preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

“This is a critical time for us right now… I think if we can prevent the spread from happening and try and level the virus off, we’ll be in a better position long term.”

The mayor said he didn’t have an exact figure for how many construction projects are affected by his order, but he knows it is substantial.

“It’s massive, massive,” he said at the briefing. “I don’t have a number. It’s tens of thousands. We’re in the middle of a boom right now, and…today is a difficult decision to make… Construction is at the core of our economy here in Boston. I come out of the trades. I was a construction worker myself. This is something that is very personal to me and to a lot of us.”

Mayor Walsh added that city officials will monitor the situation closely to determine when the moratorium can be lifted.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we ‘re looking at 14 days potentially, and then we’ll revisit it and hopefully they can be the first workers back to work.”

The moratorium is “something that we’re going to be monitoring literally week to week,” he said at another point. “Hopefully, in the next couple of weeks, we’ll be able to change the policy. But right now, out of an abundance of caution for the workers on the job site and to prevent spreading the virus, we want to make sure those workers are safe.”

According to a statement posted on the city’s website, the city is instructing employers to “maintain necessary crews to keep their sites safe and secure, keep any materials from blowing away, and prevent trespassing. This work needs to be completed in the next week, by Monday, March 23, 2020.” Once sites have been secured, the message said, skeleton crews will be permitted on site “for the remainder of the suspension” to ensure safety, but no construction activity can take place.

Walsh said Boston has 33 confirmed cases of Boston residents with COVID-19 as of Monday, March 16, and the construction moratorium is part of a multifaceted effort to address the spread of coronavirus.

“The coronavirus is one of the greatest public health challenges that our city has ever faced,” he said at a press briefing. “Our primary objective right now is to slow the spread and flatten out the curve so that our medical centers don’t get overwhelmed. This strategy is crucial to helping our most vulnerable residents and make sure that we can rebound from this as soon as possible.”

According to Walsh’s order, the only exceptions to the construction ban are: “emergency utility, road or building work,” such as repairing gas leaks, water leaks and sinkholes; new utility connections to occupied buildings, mandated building or utility work; work that “ensures the reliability of the transportation network,” work on facilities that support “vulnerable populations,” and work needed to make occupied buildings “fully habitable.”

Walsh said the city may make exceptions on a case-by-case basis for “essential” projects that “support increased public health and safety.” But he said new projects cannot be started after March 17, unless approved by the city. In his briefing, Walsh said he hopes employers don’t fire their employees as a result of his action.

“I want to remind Boston employers that we’re in a robust construction market,” he said. “Boston is home to a talented, hard-working construction workforce and when we get back to work as usual, employers need to bring these workers back and the right thing that we need to do right now is to lay them off and not fire them.”

Meanwhile, one state away, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he wants to increase construction of at least one type of building, medical facilities, and he wants the federal government to do it.

“Let’s bring in the Army Corps of Engineers and let’s start building temporary medical facilities because we know we’re going to need them,” Cuomo told CNN. “As many as we produce, if we started today, as many as we can produce, we would need twice.”

Cuomo said he has confidence in the Army Corps of Engineers to move quickly and complete projects that individual states need but don’t have the resources to take on. New York State has one of the highest volume of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, more than 600 people.

“The Army Corps of Engineers builds. I used to be in the federal government. I worked with the Army Corps of Engineers. They build bridges. They build airports. They’re builders. They’re engineers… They build. Let them come in, build with me.”

Cuomo also said he can identify state-owned properties that can be retrofitted to accommodate coronavirus patients. “I’ll find an old dormitory, an old nursing home. Let’s convert it to a hospital and let’s do it quickly so we have some backup space when the wave crashes on the health care system.”

Placeholder Alt Text

Wouldn't Be Open Now Anyways

Sydney Opera House’s Concert Hall closes for first time for renovations
Like many great cultural institutions the world over, the Sydney Opera House is currently closed to the public as the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) brings life in major population centers to a standstill. The closure of the iconic Sydney Opera House’s Concert Hall, however, was a pre-planned and long-awaited maneuver to accommodate a much-needed rehabilitation of the acoustically challenged, accessibility-plagued venue. Renovation work first kicked off in February, marking the first time in its history that the Concert Hall has gone dark for an extended period. Per the New York Times, the gall and the surrounding Opera House complex are normally open to the public 363 days a year. A January 31 performance by Solange was the last held there for at least the next two years. Pending any delays, the 2,500-seat venue is expected to reopen in mid-2021, ahead of the Opera House’s 50th anniversary in 2023. (Other performances and gatherings held in other venues at the concrete sail-topped Opera House complex that were to remain open during the revamp have since been postponed as a proactive measure against the spread of COVID-19.) Sporting a price tag of $200 million that’s being covered by the New South Wales government, the Concert Hall refurbishment is a major endeavor that, after years of planning, will correct numerous shortcomings of the famous—and famously flawed—venue. The upgrades will tackle not-so-insignificant issues with sound quality, performance logistics, and guest accessibility that have vexed Opera House officials, performers, and the general public alike for decades. As the Times and others have noted, the UNESCO World Heritage Site-listed structure is one of the world’s most distinctive and instantly recognizable works of modern architecture. But its construction was a notoriously troubled one, complete with ballooning costs, scheduling overruns, technical missteps, bureaucratic in-fighting, a workers’ strike, and the resignation of its architect, Jørn Utzon, long before it was completed. While the interiors are visually ravishing thanks in large part to Utzon’s successor, Australian architect Peter Hall, the Concert Hall has long been regarded as subpar when it comes to its aural qualities—kind of important for a world-renowned concert venue. Writes The Guardian:
“The actor John Malkovich once said the acoustics in the Concert Hall ‘would do an aeroplane hangar a disservice.’ Members of the resident Sydney Symphony Orchestra have long complained that they cannot hear their fellow musicians on stage. And the rise of the rock concert has further challenged the venue, with amplified music and electronic sets being precisely the opposite of what the hall’s infrastructure was built to accommodate.”
As The Guardian explains, these issues largely arise from the fact that the Concert Hall was initially designed to be more of a multipurpose space complete with overhead theatrical rigging that could accommodate opera and plays. But following Utzon’s departure, these types of performances were reassigned to a more intimate venue at the Opera House, the Joan Sutherland Theatre, and the grand hall was redesigned to exclusively accommodate classical music performances. While symphonies continue to dominate the space, it’s also now heavily—and imperfectly—used for rock, pop, and dance acts as well. In addition to issues of bad acoustics, “more basic matters,” as the Times puts it, have long begged for fixing. This includes replacing antiquated electrical wiring and modernizing a rather inconvenient HVAC system. “The air conditioning system is hopeless,” Rory Jeffes, the leader of Opera Australia and former managing director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, told the Times.“It blows out of cannon ports up above, and then falls onto the stage, and very often turns the pages of the musicians as they play.” Improving accessibility for the million-plus visitors that the Opera House receives every year is also a top priority. While it's a pressing matter today, how patrons with mobility issues traversed the sprawling, stair-heavy space wasn’t a main concern in the late 1960s and early 1970s when the building was being designed and constructed. Opening up the space to visitors of all ages and physical abilities has been a challenge, however, considering its designation as a historic landmark. A major aspect of improving accessibility at the Concert Hall tasked to ARM Architecture, the Melbourne- and Sydney-based firm overseeing the project, has been installing elevators, something that didn’t exist before. In addition to elevators and code-compliant accessibility tweaks, other upgrades include: a new acoustic ceiling, specially designed acoustic reflectors, new acoustic panels to be placed over the stage and elsewhere, an automatic drape system, automatic stage risers, a modernized theatrical grid system, revamped backstage areas, and more. Explains ARM:
“The number and diversity of shows being staged in the Concert Hall, as well as their performance requirements, have increased enormously over the decades since the building first opened. It is vital the Opera House invests in new technology and systems to ensure the venue continues to meet orchestral and contemporary performance needs and the expectations of staff, resident companies, performers, and audiences now and in the future.”
In executing the overhaul, ARM is working closely alongside a team of acousticians as well as engineering firms Arup and Steensen Varming to better “understand the building’s existing structural condition” before carrying out more complex aspects of the renovation.  All upgrades and refurbishments are being carried out in accordance with the Opera House’s Conservation Management Plan and will respect Utzon’s original design principles. “We need to not only maintain our fabulous heritage but we need to be as prepared as we possibly can be for the next 50 years,” Louise Herron, chief executive of the Sydney Opera House, told The Guardian. “What is it that audiences of now and the future are going to want and how can we best prepare the Concert Hall for that? That’s been the driving force behind our approach.”
Placeholder Alt Text

1927 - 2020

Italian architect Vittorio Gregotti dies of coronavirus at 92
Vittorio Gregotti, the Italian urban planner, writer, and architect behind the Barcelona Olympic Stadium died today, Sunday, March 15, of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. He had developed pneumonia and passed aged 92 away in the San Giuseppe hospital in Milan, where his wife Marina Mazza is also being treated. Gregotti was born in Novara, east of Milan, in 1927. After graduating from the Politecnico di Milano in 1952 he worked for Italian architecture magazine Casabella, first as an editor from 1953-1955, then as editor-in-chief until 1963. Later he founded Gregotti Associati International in 1974, going on to design the Belém Cultural Center in Lisbon alongside architect Manuel Salgado, the Grand Theater of Provence in France, the Arcimboldi Opera Theater in Milan, and numerous stadia including the Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa. As an urban planner, his studio worked on the Bicocca district of Milan and Pujiang New Town in Shanghai, China. Outside the world of design, Gregotti was a major cultural figure in the Italian Communist Party. Some of his most notable work, however, was a curator. In 1975 he curated Regarding the Stucky Mill (A proposito del Mulino Stucky) which explored options for abandoned granary mills on Venice's Giudecca, being hosted in the Magazzini del Sale alle Zattere. The exhibition focused on land art and architecture and signaled the first steps to be taken by La Biennale di Venezia towards an exhibition on architecture, being a precursor for the Venice Architecture Biennal, established in 1980. “I don’t really know why [they asked an architect to curate the Biennale]—it was very strange,” Gregotti told AN's editor-in-chief William Menking in 2010. “I agreed to do it only if we also had a small first exhibition of architecture. That was the condition because if not, well, I wasn’t going to do it. The biennale had never had an architecture section, so this would be the first one.” In 1976 Gregotti was appointed as Director of the Visual Arts Section of the Biennale and he titled that year’s Art Biennale Werkbund 1907. He expanded the festival to include the visual arts and architecture, hosting exhibitions in seven venues across Venice, with five being dedicated to architecture and design. Gregotti was also Director for the 1978 Biennale, Utopia and the Crisis of Anti-Nature: Architectural Intentions in Italy. “In 1976 we started a different approach to exhibiting architecture,” said Gregotti. “One part was a historical exhibition, and the other was an exhibition of modern architecture featuring a group of Europeans and Americans in order to compare the two different positions. It was the 23 time of the New York Five, and in Europe there were two or three different positions, such as Oswald Mathias Ungers in Germany, James Stirling in England, Serge Chermayeff and a few others.” In response to Gregotti’s death, fellow Italian architect Stefano Boeri in a post on Facebook described a “master of international architecture” who “created the story of our culture.” Dario Franceschini, Italian Minister of Cultural Heritage also added: “With deep sadness I learn of the disappearance of Professor Vittorio Gregotti. A great Italian architect and urban planner who has given prestige to our country in the world. I cling to the family on this sad day.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Do Look Down

The Edge debuts over 1,000 feet above Hudson Yards
Edge, a cantilevered observation deck jutting out from the 100th floor of the Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF)-designed 30 Hudson Yards supertall, opened to the public yesterday at Manhattan’s Hudson Yards. Before officially opening to the ticket-holding general public in the afternoon, project developers Related Companies and Oxford Property Group hosted an invite-only opening day celebration featuring a jaunty brass band, influencers aplenty, and a dizzying choreographed performance by aerial dance troupe Bandaloop. But before the sky dancers rappelled down the side of the building from high above the outdoor viewing area and proceeded to twirl and twist and leap and flip 1,000-plus feet above the streets of New York City, something else hanging over the assembled crowd was addressed: coronavirus. As relayed to media and others at the event, Edge, which is the tallest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere and the fifth-highest in the world, will operate regularly as planned. The number of ticket sales, however, will be reduced to minimize crowds in a proactive effort to curb potential spread of the virus.*  Once it's deemed safe to do so, normal ticket sales—they run $36 per adult and $34 for New York residents—will resume. In addition to this somewhat somber announcement, the launch of a new Tuesdays-only program offering New York City Public School groups free admission to both Edge and Vessel, another crowd-drawing Hudson Yards attraction, was also unveiled by Jeff Blau, chief executive officer of Related. Following yesterday’s event, a group of fifth-graders from P.S. 33 in Manhattan got a special sneak-peak of Edge before its wider general opening. Floating 1,131 feet above the city and encased in 79 frameless angled glass panels, Edge is no doubt an acrophobe’s absolute worst nightmare. A small section of the triangular, 7,500 square foot viewing deck that boasts see-through glass panel flooring will test the fortitude of even the pluckiest of visitors. But the 360-degree views afforded from the top—especially on a clear and sunny day like yesterday—are magnificent. Premium-priced views aside, Edge itself is a remarkable feat of engineering that, per a press release from Related, “completes the tower’s architectural dialogue with the city.” The deck itself protrudes 80 feet from the side of the skyscraper and is composed of 15 different stone sections, each weighing between 35,000 and 150,000 pounds, that are anchored to the building’s south and east exterior elevations. “The Edge observation deck is the most dramatic in a series of gestures which link KPF’s buildings, in the Hudson Yards development, to the principal surrounding structures of the city,” said William Pedersen, KPF founding principal. “Gesturing directly towards the Empire State Building, and higher than its observation deck, Edge pays homage to its role as the most emblematic of all New York buildings.” Aside from the star attraction observation deck, the 100th floor at 30 Hudson Yards—also home to the controversy-marred $25 billion megadevelopment’s shopping mall which takes up the bottom four floors of the building and is the main access point to Edge—there’s also a spacious indoor viewing area, gift shop, multimedia experience documenting the construction of Hudson Yards, and a champagne bar for fueling up on liquid courage before stepping outside. One floor up, on the 101st floor, is a full-service restaurant and event space named Peak. Edge’s interior spaces and Peak were designed by Rockwell Group. It's also worth noting that the ear-popping elevator ride up to the top takes a little less than a minute. And to get to the actual elevator bank, visitors are led through a winding corridor beyond the ticketing booth where lighting and sound effects make the whole experience akin to queueing up to board a Disney theme park ride. It's the Tower of Terror, Hudson Yards-style. Edge is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to midnight. * After this article was published on March 12, it was announced that Edge will temporarily close to visitors on March 13 “following guidance from the Governor limiting gatherings of 500+ people to aid in the containment of COVID-19.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Peace In Our Time

Dueling lawsuits over Washington, D.C.’s The Wharf dismissed
A 2018 lawsuit filed against Perkins Eastman by the general contractor of The Wharf, a $2.5 billion mixed-use development located along a once-blighted stretch of industrial waterfront in southwest Washington, D.C., has been dismissed. Likewise, a countersuit filed against Clark Construction Group LLC by Perkins Eastman has also been dropped. Clark Construction’s suit against Perkins Eastman, a major international architecture firm headquartered in New York City, was filed in March 2018. It sought $5 million in damages resulting from what Clark Construction alleged were significantly flawed design documents furnished by Perkins Eastman. Because of the alleged inaccuracies and omissions in the documents, which Clark Construction claimed resulted in everything from inoperable doors to misplaced structural columns, the Bethesda, Maryland-based contractor had to tweak and correct numerous defects which, in turn, caused the company to incur substantial financial damages. Phase one of The Wharf was completed and opened to the public in October 2017. “The errors and omissions complained of herein did not arise and were not known, knowable, discovered, discoverable, appreciated, or appreciable until various points within the past three years,” claimed Clark Construction’s complaint, which alleged that Perkins Eastman had committed professional negligence, breach of written contract, and negligent misrepresentation. “It remains possible and likely that errors and omissions will continue to arise and become known, discovered, and appreciated in the future as discovery in this matter proceeds including, without limitation, expert discovery.” Perkins Eastman issued a countersuit, alleging Clark Construction of withholding $500,000 in outstanding invoices in an act that, per the suit, amounted to breach of contract. “Clark continues to exercise dominion and control over money and property that contractually and legally is property of PEDC [Perkins Eastman DC, PLCC] in a manner that is intentional, reckless, and in willful disregard of PEDC’s ownership rights,” read Perkins Eastman’s counterclaim. But as Construction Dive recently reported, the dispute has worked itself out with both sides dropping their respective lawsuits. No financial settlements were noted in the Joint Stipulation of Dismissal, although as Construction Dive notes, both parties agreed to pay their own legal fees. “While we cannot comment on specifics, Clark is pleased to have reached an amicable agreement on all outstanding project matters. We look forward to working together with Perkins Eastman on future projects,” a spokesperson for Clark Construction relayed to Construction Dive in a statement. Speaking to AN, L. Bradford Perkins, founding partner of Perkins Eastman, noted: “We too, like Cark, are pleased to get this behind us.” “We felt that the lawsuits were not the best way to resolve this issue,” Perkins said. “We're both extremely proud of what we did together.” “We both want to work together in the future,” Perkins added. Phase two of The Wharf, also master-planned by Perkins Eastman, kicked off in March 2018 and will add an additional 1.5 million square feet of mixed-use space (heavier on residential this time around) to the sprawling project that, when fully complete in 2022, will encompass more than 24 acres of redeveloped land. Phase one of The Wharf includes, among other things, a pier-top office complex, multiple hotels, retail space, and apartments. The waterfront-reenergizing development has received a mostly warm welcome from Washingtonians and visitors despite some traffic congestion-related hiccups.
Placeholder Alt Text

overlooked no more

Jean-Jacques Lequeu: Visionary Architect is a fantastical retrospective of expert draftsmanship
Although he never reached the fame of neoclassical contemporaries such as Claude Nicolas Ledoux and Étienne-Louis Boullée, French architect and artist Jean-Jacques Lequeu (1757-1826) remains a draughtsman of immense vision, from a turbulent era that witnessed the collapse of the Ancien Régime and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte. Luckily, in the months leading up to his death, the artist bequeathed his vast collection of 800 drawings to the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, which launched the first retrospective Jean-Jacques Lequeu: Visionary Architect at the beginning of 2019. The show’s latest iteration at The Morgan Libary & Museum is the first in New York City and is a succinct and, truth be told, sublime survey. The exhibition includes sixty of Leqeue’s drawings and is curated by the Morgan’s Eugene and Clare Thaw Curator of Drawings and Prints, Jennifer Tonkovich. Lequeu was born in 1759 to a long line of master carpenters in Rouen, the provincial capital of Normandy. His early career began with accomplished studies at the Rouen School of Drawing followed by a string of urban planning and architectural commissions, and a migration to the imperial capital of Paris in the waning days of the Bourbon dynasty. Initial professional success and a multiyear pilgrimage to the customary landmarks in Italy ultimately fizzled, and Lequeu settled into the relative monotony of governmental bureaucracy. Perhaps as a creative outlet to deflect from hampered ambitions—not dissimilar from the architectural fantasist A.G. Rizzoli—Lequeu produced hundreds of pen and wash drawings ranging from self-portraits to invented landscapes populated by renderings of imagined buildings and monuments, many found in his quasi-handbook Civil Architecture. “One of the big takeaways, for me, has been despite the official recognition, and in the absence of any sort of validation, he continued to draw, to envision new worlds, and incorporate novel elements,” said Jennifer Tonkovich. “He never gave up his idiosyncratic vision.” The Morgan, with its flamboyant marble flooring and intricate classical detailing, is a fitting curatorial space for the show. The exhibition room is split between an outer and inner ring: The former introduces the subject with a series of self-portraits—mouth agape and jowls creviced—and largely follows the trajectory of his drawings of architectural manuals to spectacular renderings produced at night within the confines of a claustrophobic Parisian apartment. The quality of penmanship is impressive unto itself, but drawings such as Design for a Living Room at the hôtel de Montholon and the Apotheosis of Trajan highlight the profound depth of ancient architectural knowledge at Lequeu’s fingertips, with an acute syncretism of Greco-Roman, Persian, and Indo-Chinese influences. While the architectural drawings are demonstrations of vivid imagination, all remain rooted in the clear and calculated logic of profile, section, and plan. Not only are Corinthian orders and cenotaphs deconstructed into their composite parts—base, shaft, capital, and entablature—but the tectonics behind their engineering are legibly, and fantastically, expressed. Although the human body and erotic themes extend across Lequeu’s oeuvre, the center of the exhibition focuses on his works of more explicit playful sexual depictions. With the same level of detail applied to his architectural renderings, thighs and crotches are splayed and labeled, nuns lift their habits to reveal corseted breasts, and buttocks stand athwart. The timing of the exhibition is prescient in the current political moment—classicism is cast as a revanchist tool by reactionaries to reestablish Eurocentric cultural norms and artistic conformity. The retrospective’s response is an art historical broadside against that perception: “Lequeu is trying out ideas, exploring non-western forms, testing the limits of structures, experimenting with unorthodox decoration,” continued Tonkovich. “He is not bound by rules or convention, and the result is designs that are clever, mysterious, beautiful, and mystifying.” Jean-Jacques Lequeu: Visionary Architect  The Morgan Library & Museum 225 Madison Avenue Through May 10, 2020
Placeholder Alt Text

You’ve Got Jail

Fifteen architects and designers will advise design of Rikers Replacement jails
In October 2019, the City Council approved a controversial Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) application for the $8.7 billion plan to construct four new smaller jails to replace the Rikers Island complex. Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx would each get a community jail building that the reformists and their supporters in the Mayor’s Office for Criminal Justice (MCOJ) called “smaller, safer, and fairer.” “This is part of a once-in-many-generations opportunity to build a smaller and more humane justice system that includes four facilities that reflect the City’s commitment to dignity and respect,” the NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) said at the time. “The new facilities will offer better connections to and space for those detained and their families, attorneys, courts, medical and mental health care, education, therapeutic programming and service providers.” In addition to the Borough-Based Jail Program (BBJP)’s larger urban ambitions of moving the detention facilities off of Rikers and closer to the communities where inmates come from, on February 4, the DDC issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a pool of design-build teams that will propose schemes to dismantle and build new facilities across the four selected boroughs. AECOM and Hill Engineering have already been tapped to help envision and implement a design-forward approach to the new sites. When The Rikers Island Jail Complex Replacement Act was passed in 2018, it was made clear that design, quality, past performance, and qualifications would be the priority rather than simple budget concerns. The DDC and the MOCJ, in conjunction with the NYC Department of Correction (DOC), announced an independent peer review committee of architects and designers yesterday that will assist in the selection and design that will help select the teams from the RFQ, provide guidelines for the RFP, and participate in architectural review that will “ensure high-quality design submissions that balance aesthetics, functionality, cost, constructability and durability.” Several of the reviewers have been involved in the BBJP process already, having served on the Justice Implementation Task Force’s Working Group on Design. Below are the Peer Review Panelists:
Dominick DeAngelis, RA, AIA, Vice President of Architecture and Engineering, NYC School Construction Authority Mr. DeAngelis is responsible for the design of $18 billion of construction over the next five years that will create 57,000 seats in 87 new schools or additions, and upgrade 1,840 additional NYC public schools. Wendy Feuer, Assistant Commissioner for Urban Design + Art + Wayfinding, NYC Department of Transportation Ms. Feuer’s DOT office makes streets attractive and welcoming for all users, and publishes a street design manual for City agencies, consultants and community groups. She has been a public art peer for the federal General Services Administration’s Design Excellence program for over 15 years.  Erik Fokkema, Architect, Partner, EGM Architecten Mr. Fokkema has expansive experience in the Netherlands in institutional facilities, as well as private residential and public buildings. He is an expert in building operations, making the complex simple, and designing humane and user-friendly buildings.  Mark Gardner, AIA, NOMA, Principal, Jaklitsch/Gardner Architects New York-based architect Mark Gardner’s experience scales from buildings to interiors to product design, and he works to understand the role of design as a social practice. He is an expert and strong advocate for diversity and inclusion in architecture and design.  Rosalie Genevro, Executive Director, The Architectural League of New York An architectural historian and urbanist, Ms. Genevro has led initiatives at The Architectural League addressing housing, schools, libraries and topics such as climate change. She is a frequent contributor on the City’s building environment. Samantha Josaphat, RA, Founding Principal, Studio 397 Architecture Ms. Josaphat’s portfolio includes architecture and interior design of higher education projects, as well as large- and small-scale residential projects, to which she brings impressive knowledge of the City’s building regulations. She is President of the New York Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects. Purnima Kapur, Urbanism Advisors, former Executive Director, NYC Department of City Planning Ms. Kapur was a key architect of the City’s groundbreaking Mandatory Inclusionary Housing regulation, which has led to five Integrated Neighborhood plans, and has been integral to the redevelopment of Brooklyn over the past two decades via projects including the Greenpoint-Williamsburg Waterfront, Downtown Brooklyn and Coney Island. Bruce Kuwabara, OC, OAA, FRAIC, AIA, RIBA, Partner, KPMB Architects One of Canada’s leading architects, Mr. Kuwabara’s diverse portfolio encompasses cultural, civic, educational, healthcare and performing arts projects in North America and Europe. Luis Medina-Carreto, Project Manager, Press Builders Mr. Medina is an expert in New York City construction management and methods, with a reputation of bringing projects to completion on schedule and on budget in the City’s complicated building environment. Gudrun Molden, Architect, Founding Partner, HLM Architects Gudrun Molden comes to the City from Norway with extensive experience in detention facility architecture in an urban context, including Oslo city center and Åna prison in Norway. Nancy Prince, RLA, ASLA, Chief of Landscape Architecture, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation Ms. Prince establishes the design aesthetic and vision for the Parks Department’s large and varied portfolio of projects. Prior to entering public service, Ms. Prince spent years designing New York City’s parks and playgrounds. Stanley Richards, Executive Vice President, The Fortune Society With decades of experience in the criminal justice field, Stanley leads Fortune’s management, direct service programs, fundraising and advocacy work to promote alternatives to incarceration and support successful reentry from prison. Annabelle Selldorf, AIA, Principal, Selldorf Architects Ms. Selldorf founded her practice in New York City over 30 years ago. Her firm’s broad expertise has been applied in cultural, educational, industrial and residential projects throughout the United States. Lisa Switkin, FAAR, ASLA, Senior Principal, James Corner Field Operations Ms. Switkin has helped to reshape New York City’s public spaces for 20 years, including the design and delivery of the High Line, Brooklyn’s Domino Park and the public spaces at South Street Seaport’s Pier 17. Andrew Winters, AIA, Head of Development Services, Sidewalk Labs While serving as Director of the Office of Capital Project Development under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Mr. Winters oversaw the development of public assets such as the High Line, East River Waterfront and Brooklyn Bridge Park. More recently he has overseen the planning, design and construction of the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island.
“Superior design is an essential element for creating the City’s more humane and more equitable justice system,” said DDC commissioner Lorraine Grillo in the panel’s announcement press release. “These buildings will be important civic structures, reflecting the ambition of the City’s justice reforms, ensuring the dignity and well-being of those who are incarcerated, work and visit them, and integrating into the city centers where they are located,” the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice director Elizabeth Glazer added. Workshops and community feedback have informed the process, including an emphasis on using community space, and the public meetings will give citizens the opportunity to give input on the ground floor sections. However, some feel that the city has not done enough to listen and reach out. A series of lawsuits are pending against three of the four facilities. Activist and neighborhood groups in Manhattan claim that the city did not reach out to the community, namely senior citizens living at the nearby Chung Pak center, and that the city knew about Native American human remains in the area that could be affected. The suit was filed by Neighbors United Below Canal and the American Indian Community House. A lawsuit in the Bronx claims the de Blasio administration failed to consider alternative sites, ignored environmental impact reports, and went around the required public review processes. In Queens, Queens Residents United and the Community Preservation Coalition make similar claims about top-down planning and lack of engagement with residents of the neighborhood. The DDC is proceeding with the projects, a spokesperson for the department told AN, while Nick Paolucci at the NYC Department of Law told AN that, “This litigation is ongoing. We stand by the city and its approvals for this important initiative.” “Our borough-based jails plan is the culmination of years of collaboration between the city, local elected officials, and the communities they represent,” City spokesman Avery Cohen told Court House News. “We will vigorously defend our work in court as we move forward with our commitment to close Rikers Island and create a justice system is that is smaller, safer, and fairer.” The fight is far from over. The RFP guidelines will be reviewed by the City Planning Commission, NYC Department of City Planning Design, an Advisory Group appointed by the City Council and affected Borough Presidents, and the Public Design Commission, who will also review the final proposals as the massive project moves through ULURP.
Placeholder Alt Text

Hanging on the Precipice

UNESCO and Google spotlight climate change’s impact on World Heritage Sites
Last month, Google Arts & Culture launched a new online platform drawing attention to the devastating effect that climate change has had—and will continue to have—on five diverse and vulnerable UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The exhaustive and expertly organized initiative, Heritage on the Edge, achieves this through an array of mediums including photography, detailed 3D models, 2D maps and Street View tours, historical information, audio, interactive graphics, and present-day interviews with local conservationists and residents living in the impacted areas. Two of the endangered World Heritage Sites are also brought to life using augmented reality “pocket galleries." Most important, the multimedia platform, which spans over 60 pages and is illuminating as it is devastating, illustrates how people in these five unique locales have come together to protect their most cherished cultural sites against rising seas, extreme weather, coastal erosion, and drought. Describing itself as “one of the most ambitious efforts to date to realize the power of heritage to tell the story of climate change,” Heritage on the Edge was conceived as part of a partnership between Google, California-based nonprofit 3D-surveying firm CyArk, and the Climate Change and Heritage Working Group (CCHWG) of the International Council for Museums and Sites (ICOMOS), which serves as an advisory body for UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee. The five featured UNESCO World Heritage Sites are Rapa Nui, the remote Chilean territory also known as Easter Island, where iconic monumental stone statues are suffering damage caused by rising seas; the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, where ancient and ultra-porous landmark buildings are decaying at an increased speed due to more frequent and severe rain events; the pre-Columbian desert city of Chan Chan, Peru, that’s threatened by both flood and drought; the mosque city of Bagerhat, Bangladesh, where salty floodwaters are wreaking havoc on its ancient buildings, and Kilwa Kisiwana, a Tanzanian port city at risk of being destroyed by coastal erosion. “The heritage narrative opens so many angles on climate change—justice, livelihoods, migration, mitigation, identity, loss, impacts, solutions and of course urgency,” Dr. Will Megarry, an archeologist and lecturer in Geographical Information Science at Queen’s University Belfast who coordinated ICOMOS’s participation, said in a statement. “The Heritage on the Edge project touches on all these and more, experimenting with multiple media, from high technology to traditional oral storytelling to make its points.” “While climate change is predominately fuelled by large industrialised countries, it is vulnerable communities and heritage which are most impacted. This is one of the reasons why sites were chosen from across the world,” Megarry added, noting that the project “helps blaze a trail for climate communication.” In total, five ICOMOS CCWG members coordinated the ambitious undertaking. Each oversaw efforts with local stakeholders and conservation experts to bring the platform fully to life through networking, providing climate- and heritage-related expertise and conservation support to site managers, and helping carry out “local training programs to assess site vulnerabilities.” Megarry headed up the Kilwa Kisiwana project; Jane Downes, director of the Archaeology Institute at Scotland’s University of Highlands and Islands coordinated efforts on Rapa Nui; Andrew Potts, the U.S.-based coordinator for ICOMOS and CCHWG, organized in Bagerhat; Milagros Flores, former President of the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Fortifications and Military Heritage, oversaw work in Chan Chan; and Peter Cox, managing director of Carrig Conservation International Limited and president of the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Energy and Sustainability, served as lead in Edinburgh. “Above all, the project is a call to action,” wrote Dr. Toshiyuki Kono, president of ICOMOS and professor of private international law and heritage law at Kyushu University in Japan, in an introductory essay published by Google Arts & Culture. “The effects of climate change on our cultural heritage mirror wider impacts on our planet, and require a robust and meaningful response. While actions at individual sites can prevent loss locally, the only sustainable solution is systemic change and the global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.” Launched in 2011 as the Google Art Project through the Google Cultural Institute Initiative, Google Arts & Culture has partnered with over 1,000 museums, cultural organizations, and heritage groups—the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum among them—to make a countless number of artworks and artifacts digitally accessible to the public using various existing and newly created technologies.
Placeholder Alt Text

Life Finds a Way

New Jersey’s most famous work of novelty architecture is now on Airbnb
Lucy the Elephant, a 65-foot-tall wood-and-metal pachyderm on the Jersey Shore, has served many purposes over the past 138 years: Real estate office, tavern, private beach cottage, and standalone tourist attraction. Lucy has also lived through a lot—hurricanes, flooding, lighting strikes, encroaching development, two relocations, general neglect, “moisture difficulties,” and even an inadvertent fire started by the patrons of said tavern. Now, Lucy, greater Atlantic City’s most beloved jumbo-sized centenarian, is serving a new, though not all that surprising, role as a limited-time-only Airbnb rental. Because why hunker down for the night at Harrah’s or the Hard Rock Hotel Casino when there’s a giant, semi-habitable elephant that’s just steps from the beach and only costs $138 per night? Lucy the Elephant’s stint as an Airbnb property, as mentioned, will be short-lived—three nights only. The Save Lucy Committee, the nonprofit preservation group serving as Lucy’s caretaker and guardian, is hosting one-night sleepovers on March 17, 18, and 19. Three couples will be able to book Lucy via Airbnb when the listing goes live on March 5. The modest proceeds from overnight stays in New Jersey’s most unique, ephemeral accommodations will go toward upcoming renovations. “Right now, we're faced with a major renovation project, starting this spring,” Richard Helfant, the executive director and CEO of the Save Lucy Committee, told CNN. “Lucy's been painted so many times that her skin is at a point where it bubbles off. We're at a time where we have to strip her down to the bare metal, prime and repaint. It's a massive undertaking.” Not quite a duck with a trunk, Lucy has been an enduring symbol of Margate, formerly South Atlantic City, since 1881 when she was erected by James V. Lafferty—real estate speculator, engineer, and proto animal-shaped building constructor—as a means of luring potential property buyers to the Jersey shore. While Victorian-era tourists gawked at the 90-ton behemoth from the outside, Lafferty escorted potential clients six-stories up the building’s internal staircase into Lucy’s howdah-cum-observation deck so that they could better survey the lay of the land. The building was originally named Elephant Bazaar but took on the Lucy moniker after Lafferty sold the structure to the Gertzen family in 1887. The Gertzens, who converted Lucy into a tavern and later a summer rental home for a British doctor and his family, maintained ownership of the building until 1970 when they donated it to the Save Lucy Committee. Designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1976, Lucy the Elephant is the only such listed property to be available for overnight stays on Airbnb per the attraction’s official website. It’s also apparently the first animal-shaped building to appear on the lodging platform ,as Liz Fusco, senior communications manager for the US East division of Airbnb, relayed to CNN. A certain beagle in Idaho, however, would quite literally beg to differ. Airbnb aside, Lucy is an early, excellent example of programmatic architecture and is often been referred to as America’s first bona fide roadside attraction. While the early 20th century gave rise to a number of attention-grabbing buildings resembling things—the Brown Derby in Los Angeles (1926), Boston’s Hood Milk Bottle (1930), the Teapot Dome Service Station (1922) in Zillah, Washington, and, of course, the Big Duck (1931) of Long Island to name a few—Lucy arrived on the scene decades earlier, and has survived. “The oldest surviving example of zoomorphic architecture on Earth,” Helfant recently told the New York Times in an article detailing Lucy's upcoming run on Airbnb. Until 1900, there were three hulking elephant-shaped buildings on the East Coast including one on Coney Island which was also the creation of Lafferty. By the late 1960s, Lucy’s fate veered into bleak uncertainty. While roadside novelty architecture maintained popularity, especially in car-crazy Southern California, the Jersey Shore’s elephant-shaped building had fallen prey to disinterest and disrepair. Harsh marine weather had ravaged the beachside building’s facade, its tourist-snaring capabilities began to wane, and, in 1969, the owners sold the land, and the elephant on it, to developers who intended to demolish the then-condemned building. This led to the formation of the Save Lucy Committee, which raised funds to relocate the building to city-owned land, now a park, and treat it to a massive renovation. She was also moved in 1906 after a major storm. After four years of extensive restoration work, Lucy reopened to the public as a paid tourist attraction in 1974. Under the auspices of the Save Lucy Committee, the building has remained open for tours ever since, attracting roughly 132,000 visitors annually according to the Times (currently, tours run 30-minutes long and cost $8.50 for adults). But this marks the first time since the early 1900s that anyone has paid to sleep in the belly of the elephant. As the Times details, Airbnb has made, in the words of Helfant, a “sizable” donation to the Save Lucy Committee and decked out the surprisingly spacious interior of the building with period furnishings and decor—canopied bed, antique trunks, and grandma's elephant tchotchkes galore—that nod directly to Lucy’s Victorian heritage. And although Lucy once boasted a working bathroom, it has since been removed. To compensate, a comfort trailer will be parked at Lucy’s painted toenail-ed feet during the Airbnb stays. A staff member and security guard will also be camped out overnight in the attraction’s adjacent gift shop. Breakfast will be served in the elephant.
Placeholder Alt Text

(Re)mark Your Calendars

Here are the architecture and design events postponed because of coronavirus
Spring is traditionally the season when the international architecture and design community looks forward to the year’s biggest and buzziest exhibitions, events, and openings. This spring is different. As health officials brace for a possible global pandemic, a rapidly spreading outbreak of coronavirus (COVD-19) is hitting the design world, geographically speaking, where it hurts most. Outside of mainland China, where the virus originated in the city of Wuhan, and in South Korea, the most reported cases of coronavirus are in Italy, with a vast majority being in the northern Lombardy region. As a result, the organizers of Salone del Mobile in Milan, the world’s largest furniture trade show, pushed the annual event back two months. While the 2020 Milan Fashion Week was not postponed earlier this month, some shows were notably altered while China’s formidable showing of designers, buyers, and journalists sat this year out due to mounting travel restrictions. As Women’s Wear Daily reported, a handful of major U.S.-based media outlets that sent fashion editors to Milan are advising—and some mandating—their staffers self-quarantine by working from home for two weeks. Meanwhile, China’s own big upcoming fashion events, China Fashion Week in Beijing and Shanghai Fashion Week, have been delayed (some creative workarounds, however, have been hatched). Outside of design fairs, architecture exhibitions, and fashion shows, the status of what’s perhaps the biggest global event to take place this year, the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, remains uncertain although there are no immediate plans to cancel at this point. The World Health Organization (WHO) is advising the Swiss-based International Olympics Committee as to how to proceed. Below is a non-exhaustive list of cultural events, programs, and openings—the focus is on art, architecture, and design—that have been rescheduled or outright canceled due to what the WHO has deemed a “global emergency.AN will continue to add to this list as needed.

United States

2020 Tall + Urban Innovation Conference, Chicago: The Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat has postponed its upcoming conference in Chicago scheduled for April 5-7. AIGA Design Conference, Pittsburgh: The Professional Association for Design's annual conference, scheduled to kick-off at the end of this month in Pittsburgh, has been rescheduled for November 12-14. AIA Conference on Architecture 2020, Los Angeles: The American Institute of Architects has canceled its 2020 conference, which was scheduled to take place May 14-16 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The AIA is "exploring options to reschedule." The Architectural Digest Design Show, New York City: Scheduled for March 19-22 at Manhattan's Pier 94, the annual AD Design Show has been pushed back to June 25-28. The Architecture League of New York: In an email sent to members and friends, The Architecture League of New York announced the cancelation of a slew of upcoming lectures and events, including a series of lectures by the 2020 winners of the Emerging Voices program. The lectures will be rescheduled for a later date. Frieze New York:  Scheduled to commence May 7, the New York edition of the massive annual art fair has been canceled. Frieze London is still a go for October 8-11 as of this writing. The Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Harvard GSD has canceled all of its upcoming spring events and public programming. The school itself, like many colleges and universities across America, has shifted to online coursework. The International Contemporary Furniture Fair, New York City: ICFF will return to its home at Manhattan's Javits Center in May 2021. The National Building Museum, Washington, D.C.: The National Building Museum is postponing its March 13 reopening following a three-month closure to complete extensive renovations. All special educational programming and events scheduled through April 30 will also be canceled or postponed. NeoCon, Chicago: Bustling annual commercial design fair NeoCon will not be held June 8-10 at Chicago's Merchandise Mart as scheduled. NYCxDesign: Scheduled to kick off May 12, this five-borough design bonanza features openings, installations, talks, and open houses. It's been rescheduled for October to coincide with a slew of existing planned architecture and design events including Arctober and Open House New York. The Shed, New York City: The Shed cultural center at Hudson Yards has suspended all performances and events through March 30. South by Southwest, Austin, Texas: The massive annual tech, music, film, and arts festival—along with all auxiliary conferences and events associated with it—has been canceled by the City of Austin. It was slated to kick off March 13 and run through March 22. "We are exploring options to reschedule the event and are working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants, starting with SXSW EDU," reads the SXSW website. The Southern California Institute of Architecture, Los Angeles: SCI-Arc is postponing its upcoming slate of public programming through April 7. WantedDesign Brooklyn, WantedDesign Manhattan: The next edition of the popular two-borough annual design show WantedDesign will  be in 2021. “Having anticipated celebrating our 10th anniversary with our dear NYC friends and international design community, we are genuinely disappointed not to be able to proceed with our May exhibitions in Manhattan and Brooklyn as planned,” reads a post on the WantedDesign Facebook page.

Mainland China

China International Furniture Fair, Guangzhou: The 2020 edition of this long-running furniture fair was set to take place March 18-21 at Guangzhou’s Canton Fair Complex. It’s been postponed and be held on a yet-to-be-determined date. Design Shanghai: Asia’s largest international contemporary design fair was scheduled to take place March 12 through 15 at the Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Convention Center. It has been rescheduled for May 26 to 29. “We have made this decision based on advice and information from government and local authorities,” reads the Design Shanghai website, “in China and consultation with our partners, venue and local team. The safety of our customers and team is our first priority. The venue and layout will stay the same and we will keep you fully informed of any further developments.” Festival of Design, Shanghai: As reported by Architectural Digest, this interdisciplinary lecture series launched by architecture practice Neri&Hu and held concurrently to Design Shanghai has been canceled. He Art Museum opening, Shunde, Guangdong: The unveiling of the Tadao Ando-designed He Art Museum (HEM) in the Guangdong province has been pushed back from its original March 21 opening date. The museum “is looking forward to finding a suitable date for which will be announced in due course” reads a notice announcing the postponement. JINGART, Beijing: The third edition of this hip nascent art fair has been canceled. It was scheduled to take place May 21 through 24 at the Beijing Expo Center. Shenzhen International Furniture Exhibition: Held annually in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, this highly attended event was scheduled for March 18-21. It has been postponed. X Museum, Beijing: The March opening of this Millenial-focused private art museum, launched by young collectors Theresa Tese and Michael Xufu Huang, has been postponed.

Dubai

Art Dubai: On March 3, organizers of the annual art fair, now in its 14th year, announced that it would be postponed. It was originally slated for March 25-28.

Germany

Light + Building, Frankfurt: The massive annual lighting and home automation trade show scheduled for March 8-13 at Messe Frankfurt has been postponed after “extensive consultations.” It will now take place through September 27 through October 2.

Hong Kong

Art Basel Hong Kong: The Hong Kong edition of Art Basel, which was scheduled to take place at the Hong Kong Conference and Exhibition Centre from March 19 to 21, has been canceled. As the Art Basel website reads: “We remain committed to Hong Kong and look forward to welcoming you to the next edition of Art Basel Hong Kong on March 25-27, 2021.”  M+ Matters: Archigram Cities: The opening of this highly anticipated series of events showcasing the archives of English avant-garde collective Archigram at visual culture museum M+ was delayed on February 12. A new opening date is forthcoming.

Italy

Expocasa, Turin: The start of the long-running trade show, focusing on interior design and renovation, has been pushed back from February 29 to March 28. Fuorisalone, Milan: Fuorisalone, an informal series of events that take place across Milan's different design districts in conjunction with Salone del Mobile, has been postponed to coincide with the rescheduled furniture fair in June. Salone del Mobile, Milan: On February 25, the organizers of Salone del Mobile announced that the international furniture fair was moving from April 21 to 26 to June 16 through 21 as health officials worked to contain the spread of coronavirus in the heavily impacted Lombardy region. Organizers launched a Twitter hashtag #salonemovestojune to help spread the word, proclaiming: "We can't stop. We won't stop." Syracuse University School of Architecture, Florence: The central New York-based university has suspended all of its spring semester study abroad programs in the Tuscan city. This includes the School of Architecture's popular Florence program based at Villa Rossa and Palazzo Donatello. Various other colleges and universities with campuses in Florence have also canceled their spring semesters. Venice Architecture Biennale: The start date of the 17th edition of the Biennale, curated by Hashim Sarkis, has been pushed back to August 29 by organizer La Biennale di Venezia. It was scheduled to commence on May 23. Despite the delay, the exhibition will still conclude on November 29.

South Korea

Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul: Housed in buildings designed by Jean Nouvel, Mario Botta, and REM Koolhaas, this popular art museum is closed until further notice. Several other galleries and museums in Seoul are also temporarily shuttered.
Placeholder Alt Text

Material Ecology

Neri Oxman grows tools for the future at new MoMA retrospective
A pioneer in materials, objects, and construction, Neri Oxman is showing work from her 20-year career as an architect, designer, and inventor at the Neri Oxman: Material Ecology exhibition currently on view until May 25 at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Curated by Paola Antonelli with help from curatorial assistant Anna Burckhardt, Oxman’s work on display explores the intersection of the science of materials, digital fabrication, and organic design in pieces both extruded from and infused with the wisdom of nature. This is Oxman’s seventh exhibition at MoMA, and Material Ecology is a magnifying glass for the vibrant microstructures that give shape to the world. “My team and I stand in the crossroads, challenging some of the processes that designers face at the intersection of biology and technology, nature and culture,” Oxman said during a media preview of the show on February 20. “There will come a moment where we will find material singularity [a state in which we cannot differentiate between what is man-made and what is grown]—was this made, was this built, or was it grown? And does it matter?” As a professor of media arts and sciences at the MIT Media Lab and founder and director of The Mediated Matter Group, Oxman observes naturally occurring structures, such as birch tree bark and crustacean shells, and routines, such as silkworm behavior, and presses them forward toward innovative building materials. “We envision these different objects that are processes and materials as tools for the future,” Antonelli said. “As tools for architects, designers, artists to make in a different way together with nature.” The exhibition includes demonstrations of what these processes could ultimately lead to one day, with tables arranged to resemble Oxman’s lab, videos displaying the projects’ progressions, and the artifacts themselves. The works are categorized into “Infusions” and “Extrusions”: Infusions Totems is a series of 3D-printed photopolymer resin infused in melanin. The three 5 7/8” x 5 7/8” x 19 5/16” blocks are set within black columns, suggesting a future as a compressive building material. They stand in front of a rendering of an illuminated structure in Cape Town, South Africa, that employs Totems as walls. A collection of contemporary interpretations of ritualistic death masks made from photopolymer, Vespers are infused with natural minerals and bacteria. The 15 futuristic masks range from the size of a human head to nearly twice that and were created with spatial mapping algorithms. Some seem to be almost coral-like metallic kaleidoscopes, while others resemble opals with frozen whisps of color. Imaginary Beings are multicolored photopolymer interpretations of body armor inspired by Luis Borges’s Libro de los seres imaginarios (Book of Imaginary Beings, 1967), which described 120 mythical animals from folklore. The creations range from protective helmets to breastplates resembling crystalline dragonfly wings. Extrusions Glass, pseudo-cylindrical printed structures, were created with The Mediated Matter Group’s 2015 invention G3DP, or Glass 3D Printer. The exhibition includes smaller samples, roughly 8 inches in diameter as shown below, and larger columns of printed glass, reaching almost 10 feet high. As the focal point of the exhibition, Silk Pavilion II is a suspended structure of water-soluble mesh stretched across an aluminum framework covered in silk spun by 17,532 silkworms. The twisted gossamer cylinder stretches almost 20 feet, nearly doubling the size of the Silk Pavilion I dome constructed at the MIT Media Lab in 2013. Through 3-inch-square studies (exhibited beneath the pavilion), Oxman and her team were able to pinpoint the geometrical situations in which silkworms spin flat sheets as opposed to three-dimensional cocoons, enabling the researchers to design a structure that could be spun by the silkworms themselves, rather than a machine that uses the silk. This discovery allowed for a fabrication process that works in harmony with nature rather than in dominance over it. Aguahoja I is a collection of objects printed from biopolymers, including wood-pulp cellulose, apple pectin, calcium carbonate, acetic acid, vegetable glycerin, and chitosan. The installation stretches across the wall of the gallery and consists of a library of fabricated pieces designed to be compatible with nature. The water-based objects are designed to decay over time, serving as a temporary alternative to plastics.
Oxman and her research team at the Mediated Matter Group operate through what they call the Krebs Cycle of Creativity, which is “a framework that considers the domains for art, science, engineering, and design as synergetic forms of thinking and making in which the input from one becomes the output of another,” as defined in the exhibition’s catalog, designed by Irma Boom. “The input for science is information. Science converts information into knowledge. Engineering then takes knowledge and translates it to utility. Design then takes utility and places it in a cultural context,” Oxman explained. “Then art takes all things designed around us in the built environment and questions the perception of the world.” Funded by Allianz, MoMA’s partner for design and innovation, Material Ecology embodies Oxman’s Krebs Cycle with artifacts that are more grown than made, through a process called templating. The researchers and designers at the Mediated Matter Group used environmental, geometrical, chemical, and genetic influences to manipulate materials. “They are singular materials that differentiate their properties locally to accommodate for environmental and structural strengths,” Oxman said. “They are not made of parts. They are wholes that are bigger than the sum of their parts.”