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Forensic Architecture

The Evidence Room embodies the architecture of Auschwitz at the Hirshhorn
According to Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt, a Dutch author and architectural historian, constructing Auschwitz was “the greatest crime ever committed by architects.” Known for his work in what he coined as “architectural forensics,” van Pelt famously testified in the landmark libel case filed in Britain’s High Court of Justice in 2000, David Irving v. Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt. The evidence he gathered by studying the efficacy in the design of both the gas chambers and crematoria at Auschwitz-Birkenau helped prove that the infamous concentration camp was intentionally designed by German architects to systematically kill over one million Jews during World War II. In tandem, it denounced the British Holocaust denier who filed the complaint and secured the widely-held belief that the horrific human massacre had actually happened. That trial inspired van Pelt to tell the story in his 2002 book, The Case for Auschwitz, which became the basis of a special exhibition commissioned for the 15th edition of the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2016. That seminal show, The Evidence Room, is now on view for the first time in the U.S. at the Hirshhorn National Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washingon, D.C. The exhibition depicts van Pelt’s body of proof in the sculptural form of 65 wall-mounted plaster casts that replicate the blueprints, bills, survivor’s drawings, photographs, and artifacts he acquired on the construction and operation of Auschwitz from 1941 to 1943.  The ghostly, all-white installation also utilizes materials such as steel and wood and features three, full-scale building elements, dubbed “monuments,” that were part of the original killing rooms at Auschwitz. There’s a gas chamber door, which notably hinges outward and proves that architects revised the entryways of the on-site morgues to become gas chambers. There’s also a wall hatch and ladder, which guards climbed to throw the cyanide gas down into the chambers. Lastly, on view is a floor-to-ceiling gas column through which the deadly pesticide Zyklon B was routed down into the two underground chambers.  Though Nazis blew up the gas chambers at Auschwitz and other concentration camps in an effort to destroy evidence of the Holocaust at the end of WWII, van Pelt’s archival documents from the trial argue the truth of these atrocities point-blank: that the architecture was predetermined for mass killing. The Evidence Room is an immersive experience originally designed three years ago by van Pelt and his colleagues at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture, including Donald McKay, Anne Bordeleau, and Sascha Hastings. This iteration of the installation was organized by the Hirshhorn’s assistant curator Betsy Johnson, in collaboration with The Evidence Room Foundation, a new nonprofit that will maintain and fund the exhibition. The version of the show at the Hirshhorn will run through September 8.
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Futuro on the Roof

This strip club's VIP room is a long-forgotten Futuro house
I first encountered a Futuro house in a lavish palazzo during Milan Design Week in 2016. It was part of Louis Vuitton’s exhibition Objets Nomades. Fifty years, ago, a futuristic prefab house hit the market in the U.S.A. Originally designed in the 1960s by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen, the portable houses featured built-in furniture, a full bedroom and bathroom, heating and air conditioning, as well as a living room and dining room. The fiber-reinforced fiberglass shell was punctuated by oval windows—an iconic shape now associated with futuristic design (and UFOs). But despite its place in design history, very few Futuro houses remain. There are around 60 of the houses left, which have become a mix of residences, tourist-draws on Airbnb, and museum pieces, among other quirky uses. The most exciting might be in Tampa Bay, Florida. Suuronen's company stopped production in 1975, partly due to rising production costs in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis. One house, a display model used in Clearwater, ended up in the hands of local Futuro dealership manager Jerry DeLong, who also happened to also own “2001 Odyssey"—a local strip club. The spaceship first appeared in ads in 1971, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The club was making big money until the mob pressured DeLong to sell, and, according to the Tampa Bay Times, fell under the ownership of “the Trafficantes,” or the crew led by Santo Trafficante Jr. Several years later, in 1974, Pasquale “Pat” Matassini bought the club, but Matassini was later convicted of distributing $1 million in counterfeit cash, and in 1992, was accused of having ties to the Tampa crime family because he owned a bar called Godfather’s on Trafficante-owned land. These days, according to the Tampa Bay Times, "the spaceship is entered via a carpeted staircase from the first floor of the club. There’s a curved bar in the center, serving soft drinks and water. Black lace curtains hang over leather booths that wrap around the mirrored walls. The ceiling is adorned with glow-in-the-dark constellations and a disco ball." the Futuro house has become 2001 Odyssey's VIP room." Well, this is one possible “future,” but probably not the one Suuronen imagined for his visionary design. For more on where the other remaining Futuro houses have landed, check out thefuturohouse.com.
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Austrian Influence

Resident Alien will chronicle the contributions of Austrian-American architects
Adolf Loos is widely known for setting the stage for the modernist movement in architecture, and the Austrian architect and theorist is arguably one of the most influential practitioners ever born. At the height of his impact in the late 19th century, when he designing structures both in Austria and what’s now the Czech Republic, Loos began writing seriously on the subject of minimalism and why architecture should do without ornamentation.  Richard Neutra was coming of age at the same time, along with his would-be close friend Rudolph Schindler. Both Vienna-born men had hugely successful careers designing modernist homes in Southern California—structures that were undoubtedly guided by the teachings of Loos.  An upcoming exhibition at the Austrian Cultural Forum New York is shining a light on the distinct cultural contributions that Austrian-American architects like Loos, Neutra, and Schindler have made over the last century in the United States. On view starting in September, Resident Alien: Austrian Architects in America will feature numerous practitioners whose expertise not only changed the profession but in some cases, the American zeitgeist. Think Victor Gruen, inventor of the mid-century American shopping mall Curated by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Architecture professor Stephen Phillips and Cal Poly Pomona professor Axel Schmitzberger, the exhibition will break down the impact of the migrant architects through three ethereal categories: Cloud Structures, Media Atmosphere, and Urban Terrestrials. The organizers will rely on the help of designer and UCLA professor, Julia Koerner, as well as B+U co-founder and SCI-Arc professor Herwig Baumgartner, to chronicle the works of their Austrian predecessors in America. Both young architects will also be featured in the show.  According to a press release, Resident Alien will bring a much-needed dialogue about the momentous immigration architects made from Austria to the U.S. during the modernist period, and why it so heavily affected American architecture. The curators will also explore the concept of bicultural heritage and how it has been, and is currently, communicated through space, technology, art, education, and more today.  While details on the makeup and materials of the exhibition haven’t been released yet, the other contemporary architects represented will include Carl Pruscha, Hans Hollein, Peter Trummer, and Mark Mack, as well as the partners at Coop Himmelb(l)au, Barbara Imhof of Liquifer Systems Group, Maties Del Campo and Sandra Maninger of SPAN Architecture, and Andrea Lenardin of A-L-M Projects, among others. The late Raimund Abraham, who designed the Austrian Cultural Forum's New York building itself, as well as Liane Zimbler, the first European woman to get an architecture degree, will also be featured. Resident Alien will run through February 2020. 
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Out of Season

Investors blame Isay Weinfeld’s design for the closing of the new Four Seasons Restaurant
The iconic new Four Seasons Restaurant has officially closed after reopening less than 10 months ago and following a $32 million renovation. In 2016 the original and much-venerated restaurant was forced to relocate because the owner, Aby Rosen, would not renew its lease. Now, investors are reportedly pointing fingers at design flaws as the cause of failure. The original restaurant was located in Mies van der Rohe’s New York-renowned Seagram Building. The interior, designed by Philip Johnson, remained nearly unchanged since 1959, and in 1989 it received an interior landmark designation from the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. The Four Seasons Restaurant carries hefty, modernist roots, although, in recent years, Rosen has been caught trying to make changes to the space without prior approval from the LPC. With the guidance of architecture critic Paul Goldberger, Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld was selected to design the restaurant's new home at 42 East 49th Street. A New York Post article claims that, according to unnamed sources behind the scenes, the restaurant's well-heeled investors are blaming its failure on two private dining areas on the second floor that were supposed to attract high dollar events. The article names large columns, blocked views, "disagreeable" furniture, and construction delays as design-related issues leading up to the restaurant's demise. Meanwhile, owner Alex von Bidder mentioned to the New York Times that he, “thought the new restaurant was great, looked great and had a great team in place.” Nevertheless, investors made the decision to close. AN reached out to Isay Weinfeld for comment and received the following response: “I could not be prouder of our designs for the Four Seasons Restaurant. But I respect all opinions, including the silly ones.” The restaurant is owned by Alex von Bidder and members of the Bronfman family, and previously Julian Niccolini. In the same year that the restaurant announced its move, Niccolini pleaded guilty to sexual assault but remained a co-owner. Since the re-opening and in the wake of the #MeToo movement, critics and the public have scrutinized the restaurant for still involving Niccolini. In December 2018 he was finally forced to resign.
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Cash Cab

Can you capture a portrait of a city with a taxi-mounted sensor?
Big data and its purported utility comes with the attendant need to actually collect that data in the first place, meaning an increase of sensing devices being attached to all manner of things. That includes treating many everyday things, from skyscrapers to human beings, as sensors themselves. When it comes to the urban environment, data on air quality, weather, traffic, and other metrics, is becoming more important than ever. However, in general, the sensors that collect this data are fixed, attached to buildings or found in other stable spots. “They’re good in time, but not in space,” said Kevin O’Keeffe, a postdoc in MIT’s Senseable City Lab, in a release from the university. Airborne sensors such as drones, on the other hand, explained O'Keefe,  work well in space, but not in time. To collect greater data that more accurately reflects an entire city—in both space and time—mobile sensors would be needed at street level. Cities already have fleets of mobile devices close to the ground: vehicles. While private cars operate only sporadically, and buses run fixed routes, taxis spend all day and night traversing large swaths of cities. Incidentally, the lab also tried using garbage trucks, but they did not collect as much data as they predicted cabs could. Inexpensive sensors could be attached to taxis to provide researchers and others important data on the on-the-ground status of urban environments. However, to see the viability of this concept, the Senseable City Lab had to first find out just exactly how much ground taxis actually cover. And then, how many sensor-enabled taxis would it take to create an accurate picture of a city's terrain and air quality? By analyzing taxi routes in New York City, researchers discovered that a relatively small number of cars covered a pretty wide territory. It took just ten cabs to cover a third of Manhattan in a single day. And, while one might expect this to be particular to Manhattan and its orderly grid, the researchers also discovered that similar patterns occurred in cities across the world, from Vienna to Singapore. That said, because many taxis travel to similar areas and along high-traffic routes, the number of cabs it takes to cover even greater ground grows quite rapidly. In the case of Manhattan, it takes 30 taxis to cover half the island and over 1,000 to reach 85 percent. To realize the full potential of car-borne sensors, which can reach popular areas as well as underserved ones, O’Keeffe suggested a hybrid approach: placing sensors on taxis along with a few dedicated vehicles, à la Google Street View. The research team hopes that this data will help planners and politicians put together a more realistic idea about how mobile sensing could work in their city, its cost, and potential impacts. The data will also hopefully help cities tailor any mobile sensing projects to their particular needs, and the Senseable City Lab believes that these mobile sensors would be less expensive than traditional options. This research also appears in a paper recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that was co-authored, along with O’Keeffe, by Amin Anjomshoaa, a researcher at the Senseable City Lab; Steven Strogatz, a professor of mathematics at Cornell University; Paolo Santi, a research scientist at the Senseable City Lab and the Institute of Informatics and Telematics of CNR in Pisa, Italy; and Carlo Ratti, director of the Senseable City Lab and professor of the practice in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Curious urbanites can check out the accompanying maps and infographics on the lab’s website.
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Refocus, Refresh

New York's 200-year-old National Academy of Design won't ever reopen
America’s oldest artist-advocacy organization, the National Academy of Design, has decided to permanently close its museum operations. The Beaux-Arts mansion at 1083 Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side has been sold, and the institution is reinventing itself with an endowment. Run by artists for artists since 1825, the Academy is comprised of invite-only members, a whos-who list of many of the biggest names in American art. For most of the institution’s history, each member was also required to donate to the Academy’s collection, meaning that the NAD has pieces by American greats like Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and Thomas Eakins. This collection made for groundbreaking shows that produced world-class art historical scholarship. But what about the living members?  Previously, the academy had been aligned with both its own museum as well as a well-respected art school, but now the NAD has now cut ties with both. “The museum and school were draining all the resources," Walter Chatham told the Art Newspaper. An architect who has served as co-chair of the Board of Governors since 2014, Chatham added, "There wasn’t any money for the programs that would actually improve the academicians’ lives. Eventually we want to get back into education and exhibitions, but I don’t think we’re going to have a museum again.”  The museum debate came to a head with the sale of two Hudson River School masterpieces, prompting condemnations and sanctions from national museum organizations like the Association of Art Museum Directions and the American Alliance of Museums. Brian T. Allen, an art historian writing for the National Review, said, “I was a member of both and supported the sanctions. My museum wouldn’t lend work to NAD shows. In retrospect, I think the penalties did the NAD a disservice.” Unlike the sale of the paintings, the sale of the Academy’s three Upper East Side buildings leaves them with an enduring source of income—a legally restricted $66 million endowment to put towards operations that will prioritize the current academicians and living artists as the center of the Academy’s mission. The refreshed focus will hopefully help the institution that has long grappled with the "existential" question of its inherent museum-ness. The "class" of 2018 includes artists Mel Chin, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, and Vik Muniz, who will join the over 400 other living members. Refocusing their efforts on the class of living artists isn't the only initiative for the "new" NAD, as the academy has also begun publication of an online journal, NAD Now, which features fresh writing focused on the art and scholarship of members both past and present. The National Academy of Design is a storied and historic institution that is emerging once again for the 21st century, and, following in the footsteps of many other renowned arts institutions making the move out of increasingly expensive Manhattan. For example, take SculptureCenter, which sold its longtime home on the Upper East Side in order to “reinvent” itself in Long Island City, Queens, and continues to thrive. These changes are difficult for a time-honored institution’s legacy. However, in the words of Allen, “I say ‘Welcome back,’ and hope my colleagues in the American art world will do the same.”
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Cambridge Car Culture

French 2D enlivens a Cambridge parking garage with a graphic-printed mesh facade
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The rapid development of urban areas across the country is leading to the reappraisal of the commonly found, and often maligned, parking garage. Boston-based architectural practice French 2D has joined this trend by invigorating a drab parking garage using a mesh facade with dynamic graphics intended to serve as a large-scale artistic canvas as well as a functional enclosure. The design of the parking garage’s facade was intended to reference the competing architectural scales and functions of the surrounding Kendall Square. The neighborhood, separated from downtown Boston by the Charles River, is defined by newly built tech hubs, residential buildings, and a fading industrial heritage. For the design team, the primary challenge and objective of the project were to break up the monolithic scale of the existing garage—it is eight stories and measures a whopping 350,000 square feet.
  • Facade Manufacturer Facid North America Piedmont Plastics McNichols
  • Architect French 2D
  • Facade Installer & Consultant Design Communications, Ltd.
  • Location Cambridge, MA
  • Date of Completion May 2019
  • System Facid 65 System
  • Products PSG SupraFLEX Breeze Coated Mesh McNichols Perforated 1” Round, powder coated aluminum sheet
“To address this we played with the perception of large scale figures and patterns at drastically different distances, as well as the fidelity of printing to desired visual contrast,” said French 2D principals Jenny and Anda French. “Full-scale mock-up panels were hung on site for review by the design team and city officials, allowing for adjustment of the graphics files to ensure that the image was high contrast enough to compete with three-dimensional building facades.” How does the artwork conform to these different scales? The graphics are effectively divided into three separate categories; skyline, street, and reveal views. The pattern across the garage's 25,000-square-foot facade canvas is relatively constant and defined by rectangular and triangular forms that are linked by diagonal strands of shade, evoking the shadows cast across facades with material depth. From the farthest vantage points, defined as southwest Binney Street and Fulkerson, the graphics are oversized, and, in a certain sense resemble the boxy massing of post-war structures. Shifting to the street reveals views of the enclosure as the gain of the pattern increases in density, leading to a subsequent freneticism in the shading. In daylight, the exterior of the garage remains opaque, while the significant density of perforations allows for outward views and natural, passive ventilation—the garage itself is not outfitted with any form of mechanical ventilation. Owing to the hidden aluminum tension frame produced by Facid North America, the mesh enclosure remain remarkably taut with minimal gaps between individual panels. The result is a semi-continuous surface covered with significant openings that reveal the concrete-and-steel structure below. For the project's official photography, the French sisters acted as drawing scale figures with custom dresses fitted with a rendition of the building's facade pattern—in effect forming a fourth category to the graphic design's scales.
   
   
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Multiple Personalities

Amherst's New Science Center outperforms with a facade material quintet
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In October 2018, Amherst College opened the New Science Center on its historic Massachusetts campus. The new academic building, which replaced an aging science center that was failing to keep up with its contemporary academic needs, is a six-story structure offering a home for six different science departments. Designed by the Boston-based architectural practice Payette with aggressive energy targets in mind, the enclosure is wrapped in a quintet of materials; glass, brick, concrete, weathered steel, and metal composite.
  • Facade Manufacturer Vitro Zahner TAKTL Alcotex Petersen
  • Architect Payette
  • Facade Installer Novum Structures R&R Window Zahner Manganaro Costa Brothers Masonry
  • Facade Consultant Studio NYL Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
  • Structural Engineer LeMessurier
  • Location Amherst, MA
  • Date of Completion October 2018
  • System Novum Structures Custom-Fabricated Curtain Wall Schüco FW 60+.SI Kawneer System 2000
  • Products Vitro Solarban 72 & 60 Vitro Starphire TAKTL Rough 1 Finish. Custom Graphite Alcotex 4mm Panel Solanum Preweathered Weathering Steel Petersen Tegl Kolumba K96
During the design process, Payette paid particular focus on how to minimize thermal bridging between the myriad facade components. "The brick masonry angles are held off the face of the building wall to permit insulation to run continuous," said the design team, "and Teflon spacers were utilized in the support of exterior weathering steel screen. The structure of the roof overhang and canopies are thermally broken to minimize heat transfer at those locations as well." The 251,000-square-foot project is located on the eastern border of the Amherst campus, its form primarily consisting of a large rectangular volume running on a north-south axis, with three fingers protruding to the west. This main rectangular volume is home to the structure's primary gathering space, The Commons. From the west, the circulation paths and spaces within The Commons possess near-complete visibility due to a colossal structural triple-glazed silicone curtainwall. To reduce UV exposure, the insulated glass units were treated with two different low-E coatings, Vitro Solarban 60 & 72, to achieve a system U-Value of .25 while maintaining a visible light transmittance of 56 percent. A series of sawtooth skylights is located atop the primary rectangular volume and serves two functions: further illumination of the interior and structural support for the glass curtainwall. The steel roof structure is cantilevered from the concrete core, and in turn, hangs the glass curtain wall. According to the design team, "the columns supporting the glass wall are nearly 40 feet removed from the curtain wall, supporting a load of nearly 10,000 pounds per mullion in addition to the dead, snow, wind and seismic loads." For the eastern elevation of the structure, which faces the campus boundary on East Drive and is visible from town, the envelope switches over to a more traditional brick facade. The bricks produced by Danish-manufacturer Petersen Tegl are long and flat in dimension, approximately measuring 20.8 inches by 4.3 inches by 1.5 inches. Their finish is irregular and resembles grayish rough ashlar. The three protruding wings of the New Science Center are all three stories in height and clad in a screen of weathered steel produced by Zahner. Along the complex's forecourts, the perforated weathered steel panels face narrow side out, while the western elevations are fully shrouded. The weathered steel is backed by narrow glass-and-composite-metal panels. The project, which has received numerous accolades for its environmental performance, will be presented by Payette Principal and Director of Building Science Andrea Love at Facades+ Minneapolis on July 24.  
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Go For The (Rhein)gold

ODA's towering Rheingold complex is a self-contained village
In Bushwick, Brooklyn, on the site of the former Rheingold Brewery, New York-based ODA has designed a mammoth apartment building that takes up an entire city block, totaling nearly 500,000 square feet. The seven-story, 500-unit building features two staggered volumes in which a core of dark gray corrugated metal seems to rise up out of a lighter gray shell, with the apartment units arranged around two internal courtyards. One of the complex’s defining elements is its ombré-hued grid of recessed windows and balconies. This cascading arrangement of color and form gives the facade a level of depth and texture while reducing the building’s vertical presence at the street level and allowing more light to reach the interior courtyards. “Due to the repetitiveness of the grid, we eroded it to create this form, adding and subtracting areas,” said Francesco Asaro, project manager at ODA. The interlocking patterns are also subtle nods to the imperfections of the site since some corners don’t meet at 90-degree angles. Three window and door systems from Reynaers Aluminum are used in the project. For the residential windows and balconies, the custom-extruded aluminum frames of Reynaers’s SlimLine 38 system were fitted with 1-1/16 insulated glass by manufacturer Blue Star Glass and selected in four hues that ranged from red to yellow and arranged in an interlocking pattern. The Reynaers window system meets the sound transmission requirements for the area and was preferred by the project’s window installers, said Asaro. Since nearly every unit has a balcony, it was also important for the window system to be well-insulated and energy-efficient. The SL 38 is engineered with contiguous mullions to be able to hold multiple panes of glass within a single frame and tilts open for easy maintenance. The Rheingold boasts numerous amenities, including 70,000 square feet of outdoor space, art studios, a darkroom, and a theater. The amenity spaces of the building feature a fixed-glass Reynaers Concept System 77 (CS 77) of windows and doors framed in a gray hue, while the storefront windows and facades in the building’s commercial spaces relied on the heavier-duty Concept Wall 50 (CW 50) system, which can hold up to 1,500 pounds of glass panes. Location: Brooklyn, NY Architect: ODA Interior designer: Durukan Design Landscape architect: Gunn Landscape Architecture Facade consultants: Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc. Structural engineer: Titan Engineers PC MEP engineer: MG Engineering D.P.C. Geotechnical engineer: URS Corporation (now AECOM) Windows and doors: Reynaers Aluminum Glass manufacturer: Blue Star Glass Composite facade panels: Petrarch Panels Corrugated metal facade panels: United Panel Technologies
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What Can Art Do?

Forensic Architecture sets a high bar at the Whitney Biennial
“While my company and the museum have distinct missions, both are important contributors to our society,” said Whitney Museum of American Art vice chairman Warren B. Kanders. This statement, salvaged from a letter leaked by ARTnews in December, sets the tone as the opening visual for Forensic Architecture’s installation at the Whitney Biennial—a 15-minute video delivering the collective's most recent foray into artificial intelligence, titled Triple Chaser. The London-based architecture and science research group chose to respond to the Kanders tear gas and munitions scandal not with a withdrawal from the biennial, but with the creation of a work of art-as-social justice tool, a submission that infiltrates the subject of derision’s own institution. Their video, created in collaboration with director Laura Poitras and Praxis Films, is narrated by David Byrne cooly explaining how FA approached the training of a computer program to track and recognize images of “Triple Chaser” tear gas canisters and subsequently reduce the amount of human labor needed to do so. The program is trained to recognize the canisters, so named for the way they break into three distinct pieces after being fired, and not become used to identifying just the degraded landscapes they usually occur in. Forensic Architecture’s website, as well as the video, comments that “Whereas the export of military equipment from the US is a matter of public record, the sale and export of tear gas is not.” The analyzed images act as proof of their use, and therefore sale, to over 14 countries including US border states -- and these canisters are just one of the many munitions manufactured by Defense Technology, a subsidiary of the Safariland Group -- Kanders is the founder, chairman, and chief executive. Byrne’s narration clearly and objectively describes the group’s methods in creating a piece of artificial intelligence, accompanied by visuals and music that are at once pragmatic as well as sensually arresting. Viewers are prompted before one section of the video with a seizure warning, as a series of bold geometric backgrounds used to train the program appear, the compositions flashing at rapid speed on screen, a kaleidoscope of color and stimulation. The tear gas cans are highlighted and boxed in bright pinks, yellows and blues that act as sharp contrasts against the dusty, barren landscapes of the war zones they are scattered in. Whole sections of the video are also set to the symphonic music of Richard Strauss, Kander’s personal choice for the Aspen Music Festival section named for him after a multi-million dollar donation. The haunting strings and dramatic woodwind crescendos are fitting for the eerie images they amplify. This video is an overtly collaborative work, and FA reached out to other artists and activists working in zones of political unrest, where the canisters are common, to fill out their image banks. The video shows one video submission of a rusted canister from an artists colony in Israel, one that Byrne introduces as “one of the most heavily gassed artist's colonies in the world.” In FA’s data-driven way, their video encompasses why a cultural institution like the Whitney cannot have, in the opinion of many, a man like Kanders on a board that should be protecting, not attacking, artists and their voices. Forensic Architecture as a firm, a lab, a collective, is inherently interdisciplinary, regularly overstepping traditional boundaries between professions and genres. Their “artwork” is serving a similar focus as well. Is this video just as much “art” as the Arroyo paintings in the same gallery? Politics have always been a subject of art, artists and creative output, but the contemporary climate seems to be showing artists as not only creating political works, but exposing politics and its maneuvering as art inherent in its existence -- politics create culture, and other elements of culture are responding to what politicians and votes are “creating.” But is “Triple Chaser” a work of art, or a work of journalism, or of anthropological research? A reorganization and alt-method of displaying data, the inclusion of Forensic Architecture at the Whitney Biennial sets a possible precedent for contemporary art, one that may be hyper-specific to current events, relevant due to an Internet-age concept of timeliness.
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Buy Now Don't Wei-t

The only house designed by Ai Weiwei is for sale
The only residence designed by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei is for sale. The 4,000-square-foot complex in Ancram, New York, is about two hours north of New York City by car, and it was commissioned by a couple who loved the artist's work. In collaboration with Basel, Switzerland–based HHF Architects, Weiwei delivered the main house in 2006 and a slingshot-shaped guest house two years later. The main residence is clad in corrugated iron, and sports three bedrooms and three bathrooms, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows and a fireplace of the same height. The program is divided between four timber-frame boxes of equal size, but two staircases and ceilings of different heights disrupt the boxes' rigidity and promote interior fluidity. Once can find the requisite pool and fancy appliances (Boffi in the kitchen, for example). The guest house, meanwhile, is clad in Cor-ten steel and features two bedrooms and two bathrooms slotted into its curving form. White angled wall dividers break up the timber-paneled living spaces and create plenty of space for art displays. Each of the Y-shaped structure's "poles" offers a different view of the property, which covers 37 hilltop acres. According to SFgate.com, the original owners sold the house in 2013 because they didn't visit it enough. The home's current owners are selling and moving overseas. Interested buyers have to pony up the big bucks: The house is on the market for $5.25 million.
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A Taste of Tsukimi

The Japanese tradition of moon-viewing lights up Tsukimi in the East Village
An assuming brick building in New York’s East Village houses an elegant and warm Japanese restaurant on its first floor that’s been designed as an ode to the mid-autumn full moon. Tsukimi, located at 228 East 10 St., recently opened under the tutelage of renowned chef Takanori Akiyama and was inspired by the festival tradition of tsukimi, or “moon viewing,” which happens at the start of fall harvest each year. Designed by Brooklyn-based firm Studio Tack, the modest space “aids in slowing the mind down” and utilizes both expressive and simple patterns to focus guests on intentional eating and community. White oak is the primary material found throughout the restaurant and is visible in everything from the two communal tables that face each other, to the shelves underneath, and the tambour wall paneling behind. The soft tones of the wood and its various textures are mixed to produce a comforting and relaxed feel. The design team further honed in on the tsukimi symbolism by enveloping the interior with a pleasant glow, one that also extends to the street via the corduroy glass on the windows. Read the full story on our interiors and design site, aninteriormag.com.