All posts in East

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Walls of Air maps the myriad divisions that mark contemporary Brazil

In the post-truth age, the effective and public display of meticulously researched data is a welcome change. The Americas Society's Walls of Air exhibition is an instructive and concise mapping of the trends of urbanism, environmentalism, and economic relations, amongst many other subjects. Four Brazilian and Mexican architects curated the exhibition: Sol Camacho, Laura González Fierro, Marcello Maia Rosa, and Gabriel Kozlowski. The Americas Society’s gallery is located on the ground floor of McKim, Mead & White’s Neo-Federal 680 Park Avenue on Manhattan's Upper East Side. The gallery, in contrast to the grandeur of the turn-of-the-century mansion, is relatively stark and divided into three rectilinear spaces. The show's curatorial medium du jour are large format, ten-foot-by-ten-foot UV prints on aluminum composite material, mounted on aluminum frames. The panels are supplemented with video interviews with project researchers. The exhibition was originally displayed in 2018 at the Brazilian Pavilion at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale and began as a research project to examine and discuss the visible and non-visible walls or barriers that make up contemporary Brazil.   It is immediately apparent from viewing the cartographic drawings the exhaustive level of research undertaken to produce them. The curators partnered with a multidisciplinary team with particular expertise on the subject matter for each panel. In total, over 200 professionals, ranging from the fields of social sciences to the visual arts, aided in the project's collaborative research. This data, in some circumstances Excel sheets with over a million entries, was then visualized with a broad toolbox of software including GIS, Rhino, and Illustrator. Visually, the Brazil displayed throughout the exhibition is not bounded by national frontiers, but placed amid a fluid web of global and regional forces. Deforestation, a trend reshaping the Amazon basin, is presented as a continental issue stretching from the Andes to the river deltas on the coast of the Atlantic. Land stripped bare to the west effectively reduces the level of humidity and rainfall in other places, such as northeastern Brazil—in effect, the policies of one locality catastrophically spin outwards across the ecosystem and impact the surrounding region. A particularly well-documented aspect in Walls of Air is the mapping of commodity flows, immigrant migration, and the geography of the country's real estate market. Lines of increasing width are color-coded to specify the material harvested—bearing a fair resemblance to Charles Minard's map of Napoleon's Russian Campaign—and drive from the Brazilian hinterland to the primary trade ports in the country's southeast. The destination of each type of commodity, its monetary value, and the nation's imports are neatly placed on the side margins of the print. When juxtaposed with the concentration of real estate value in the country's southeast and the destination of immigrant groups within the primary economic centers, one can tease out the prevailing socioeconomic contours of Brazil and the geographic inequalities therein. Walls of Air concludes with an analysis of the Brazilian city in history and the present day. Beginning with Portuguese colonization in the 16th century, the curators mark every single city founded within the country since and the maritime routes that fed them. The subject is expanded upon further with the analysis of post-war urban planning, maps of manmade modifications to metropolitan topography, and data focused on acts of insurrection.

Walls of Air: The Brazilian Pavilion at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale Americas Society 680 Park Avenue New York, New York Through August 3, 2019

 
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Living large

Sotheby’s brings the grandiose pomp with Treasures from Chatsworth
When confronted with how to stage a show with art and design objects from 16 generations of nobility, Sotheby’s decided to turn to creative director and set designer David Korins. The resultant Treasures from Chatsworth exhibition puts art held by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire on display alongside macro-scaled details from their sprawling 35,000-acre estate. The exhibition, free and open to the public through September 18, 2019, makes ample use of OMA’s new additions to Sotheby’s York Avenue home in Manhattan. The two new grand galleries on the building’s third floor have been transformed to allow for monumental installations that, ironically, spotlight intimate items from the Chatsworth collection. Read the full story on our interiors and design site, aninteriormag.com.
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Art, Art, Art!

Kate Fowle is MoMA PS1's new director
Drumroll, please: Curator Kate Fowle is MoMA PS1's new director. Until recently, the U.K.-born Fowle had been acting as the first Chief Curator at Moscow's Garage Museum of Contemporary Art since 2013. She will succeed Klaus Biesenbach, who left a 23-year tenure at MoMA PS1 about eight months ago to head up The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. “It’s an honor to take the helm of MoMA PS1 at this juncture in its rich history,” said Fowle in a press statement. “I look forward to working with the team and board to create a generative environment where our outlook is transformed through artists and their perspectives on the world.” Before her stint in Moscow, Fowle directed the New York-based Independent Curators International (ICI) from 2009 to 2013. The organization connects contemporary art curators around the world. The announcement comes on the heels of the first public viewing of this year's Young Architects Program (YAP) installation by Mexico City-based Pedro y Juana in the courtyard of the Long Island City MoMA offshoot. YAP invites emerging firms to build a summer installation in the PS1 courtyard that provides light and shade to visitors during Warm Up, the museum's summer Saturdays music event.
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Turk Rework

The Turk's Inn graces Brooklyn with a jazzy ‘70s supper club straight from Wisconsin
Bushwick, Brooklyn is home to many transplants, but its latest arrival isn’t a hipster with blunt-cut bangs: It’s The Turk’s Inn, a very 1970s full-service restaurant, rooftop bar, kebab stand, and nightclub transported from its longtime Wisconsin home and resurrected less than a block away from the L train at Jefferson. Childhood friends Varun Kataria and Tyler Erickson were devoted customers at the original Turk’s Inn, a supper club in Hayward, WI well-known for its steaks and over-the-top kitsch. When the restaurant closed in 2014, Kataria and Erickson bought the decor, fixtures, and exterior signage at auction, where it scattered to ad-hoc storage sites—Erickson’s cabin; Minneapolis. When it came time for the big New York move, the pair hauled all of their finds in a 53-foot semi-truck. There’s enough room in the 5,000-square-foot space for all the original trinkets plus tchotchkes from the founders’ collection. In the dining room, a skylighted alcove is festooned with riotous textiles and brass pendants Erickson sourced from India. The 1940s bar, meanwhile, was designed by someone who studied under Frank Lloyd Wright. From concept to completion, Kataria and Erickson executed much of the project themselves. Read the full story on our interiors and design site, aninteriormag.com.
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Material Ecology

Neri Oxman to get solo show at MoMA
Next year, a solo show on the work of the architect, designer, and inventor Neri Oxman will go on view at the Museum of Modern Art. Neri Oxman: Material Ecology will highlight eight major projects that showcase the evolution of the research and innovative designs Oxman has conducted over the course of her 15-year career.  Curated by Paola Antonelli and Anna Burckhardt, the monographic exhibition will shine a spotlight on the expertise Oxman has harnessed as a professor of media arts and sciences at the MIT Media Lab, and founder of the now well-known Mediated Matter Group, a research organization that fabricates nature-inspired design. One of Oxman’s biggest claims to fame is “material ecology,” a term she coined to describe the work process by which she utilizes computational design, digital fabrication technologies, and material science to produce projects that are “informed by the structural, systemic, and aesthetic wisdom of nature.”  The American-Israel architect’s self-titled MoMA show will be organized around a site-specific work viewable for the first time. Silk Pavilion II harnesses the strength of 6,500 silkworms to fill in gaps left in a 3D-printed cocoon created from an algorithm that produced the structure from a single, continuous thread. Up close, the object resembles an opaque geodesic dome with patches of thread in varying densities.  Aguahoja (2018) will run alongside Silk Pavilion II, which “aims to subvert the industrial cycle of material extraction and obsolescence” by using nature’s abundant biomaterials to create digitally-fabricated structures that are light, flexible, and react to the environment in ways synthetic materials can not. Glass I and II (2015, 2017) will also be displayed along with Totems (2019), a series of columns made from melanin synthesized from mushrooms. A prototype of these was first commissioned for the XXII Triennale de Milano Broken Nature exhibition, also curated by Antonelli. These pieces will feature a range of 3D-printed liquid channels of melanin pigments from different species. Neri Oxman: Material Ecology will be on display at the MoMA from February 22 through May 25, 2020, after the completion of the museum’s high-profile expansion. A video will accompany each of Oxman’s projects to demonstrate the specific science and production processes behind her work.
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Mezcal Memories

AN tours MoMA PS1's tropical 2019 Young Architects Program installation
The 20th iteration of MoMA PS1’s Young Architects Program (YAP) opens today, and The Architect’s Newspaper took a sneak peek at the towering installation ahead of time. This year’s winners, the Mexico City-based Pedro y Jauna (and engineer Arup), have installed a 40-foot-tall ring of scaffolding in the Long Island City museum’s front plaza, complete with a tropical panorama and towering waterfall. Hórama Rama floats this “jungle” over a forest of scaffolding, with handwoven hammocks from the south of Mexico suspended between the columns. The natural comparisons don’t stop there; while the inner ring of the 90-foot-wide cyclorama features lush jungle imagery, the outer ring presents a wall of technical two-by-six wooden beams, each capped with a splash of blue tape. On the ground, the duo behind Pedro y Jauna, Ana Paula Ruiz Galindo and Mecky Reuss, have scattered square benches made from the same material, and at first glance, they appear to be piles of unfinished lumber but eventually reveal themselves to be even more seating. Hanging work lights have been run through the pavilion to light it up at night, furthering the construction site feel. The entire structure was designed to be light and permeable but still provide shade from the harsh summer sun, in following PS1’s design brief. Hanging hammocks have been suspended in every nook and cranny of the courtyard, providing quieter respites for visitors who choose to explore the space. The most pervasive feature is the “infinity” waterfall at the center of Hórama Rama, which constantly recirculates water. As Reuss explained, the waterfall isn’t for cooling off (though it does splash and mist quite a bit), but to infuse the space with the sound of running water. Hórama Rama will remain installed through September 2 and will play host to PS1’s popular Warm Up concert series—the first in the indie music series will run on July 6. If you’re interested in seeing all five finalist entries for this year’s YAP competition, MoMA has installed models and diagrams of each inside the PS1 building proper. This exhibition usually runs at the MoMA proper, but with the Manhattan branch closed for the summer, the Queens offshoot is hosting it instead.
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Concrete Wrapping

Boston University's Joan & Edgar Booth Theatre takes center stage with concrete and aluminum
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Commonwealth Avenue, snaking from the Boston Public Garden through the greater metropolitan area, is no stranger to significant cultural venues and institutional buildings. Boston University’s Joan & Edgar Booth Theatre and College of Fine Arts Production Center, by local firm Elkus Manfredi Architects, joins this assemblage with an angled glass curtainwall shrouded in a scrim of ultra-high-performance concrete (UHPC) and flanked by vertical strips of metal panels.
  • Facade Manufacturer Beton Centria Sentech Architectural Systems
  • Architect Elkus Manfredi Architects
  • Facade Installer Stantec Centria Sunrise Erectors
  • Facade Consultant Gordon H Smith
  • Location Brookline, MA
  • Date of Completion December 2017
  • System Custom-designed Sentech curtainwall
  • Products Beton UHPC panels Centria Kolorshift
The 75,000-square-foot building rises to a height of approximately 57 feet and largely follows a rectangular massing. While the majority of elevations rise perpendicularly from the ground level, the north elevation is defined by a 42-foot-tall glass curtainwall tilted at a 14-degree angle. The glass panes, measuring 7-feet-by-14 feet, were structurally adhered on site and lifted into place using a custom steeling rigging system. A scrim of UHPC panels frames the primary northern elevation and folds onto the east and west elevations, a design feature intended to evoke a proscenium screen shrouding the entrance of the theater. In total, there are 83 UHPC panels measuring 14-feet by 7-feet, each weighing approximately 1,600 pounds. Tubular steel outriggers, cantilevered from the slab edge and running horizontally, serve as a platform for the concrete panels. For Beton, a Montreal-based fabricator, the project was a first in their production of ultra-thin concrete.  "Not only does the color of the UHPC concrete tie the building into its immediate surroundings—including the sandstone former Cadillac dealership, a national landmark next door—the material can also take the desired form reminiscent of theatrical fabric, unlike stone," said Elkus Manfredi Architects vice president Ross Cameron. "The engineered concrete-polymer material has three times the tensile strength of traditional concrete yet weighs half as much, so the design team pushed to use the material in these new ways, striving for ever thinner and delicate forms." Besides the entrance atrium, there are limited chances of fenestration across the rest of the building due to performance spaces within. For the remaining elevations, the design team opted for Ipe wood and aluminum siding. Produced by Centria, and treated with their Kolorshift PVDF, the aluminum panels reflect different colors depending on their exposure to sunlight—their character effectively morphs according to weather, time of day, and season. This dichroic effect is amplified along the northern corners of the east and west, where the aluminum panels were installed diagonally, producing a wave-like effect of color differentiation. The relative formality of the south elevation, along Dummer Street, is a response to the immediately adjacent residential neighborhood. Throughout the design process, the design team met regularly with the surrounding community to address their concerns. The use of Ipe wood softens this elevation and links it materially to it wooden dropside neighbors, while louvered windows provide glimpses within.  
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Double Dutch 2.0

Could jump roping robots change how we think about architectural drawing?

"Movement was always an underlying instigator to how I look at form," explains architect Amina Blacksher, who began ballet at age six. Her work crosses boundaries and unifies seemingly disparate practices, as she now, among many other things, uses the tools and methods of an architect to investigate the place of robots in our lives and the relationship between the analog and digital. Most recently, her explorations of movement and robotics have taken the form of two arms that join humans to play jump rope.

Two industrial robotic arms from ABB, jointed similarly to a human's, swing ropes in partnership with a human while people Double Dutch amid the ropes. Custom 3D-printed grips are attached to the robotic manipulators to hold on to the ropes but also to allow for human error, like stepping on a rope, without toppling over the robots.

The Double Dutch project began at Princeton University during the Black Imagination Matters incubator and Blacksher has continued to develop the project, exploring the cultural history of jumping—from children’s games to the Maasai jumping tradition, trying to evoke that “cleansing moment” when suspended in the air.

The Double Dutch robots reveal the intelligence inherent in our bodies: the fact that children’s games possess so much kinetic knowledge that we often overlook and that there is such a profound complexity to sensing and moving through our world. "Rhythm is something we often take for granted," said Blacksher, “but even a simple circle with a jump rope is not a continuous velocity. It’s weighted, it has a rhythmic bias.” It requires choreography, something that is seemingly so "simple" for humans, children even, but incredibly difficult for robots. And these ironies and oppositions are revealing.

The Double Dutch project is part of Blacksher’s mission to help us realize new relationships to robots and a more complicated relationship to the typically divided analog and digital. It's also about normalizing what is likely to become increasingly commonplace human-robot relationships.

As an architectural problem, robots could change how we make and understand space. "No arc is absolutely the same," Blacksher said of the swings made by the jump rope robot. “I’m compiling these micro-deviations to create a pseudospace that could be 3D printed or spun." In a way, the arcs these robots make are a form of architectural drawing, but a drawing through physical space in three dimensions. This is leading Blacksher to ask: “How do you make a drawing that has a duration?”

Architecture began with hand drawing and has obviously been radically impacted by 2D CAD software, then powerful 3D software suites, and more recent technologies like virtual reality. Robotics has the power of "redefining what a drawing is," said Blacksher, moving it into 3D space and “using the body again in the generation of a drawing in a way that makes the design process exponentially more intelligent.” By using digital and physical technology in real space and establishing a unique circuit of the relationships between code, movement, embodiment, image, and space, architects might find new tools and new ways of thinking through design problems. "It’s in the relationship between the analog and digital where I’m interested in finding form."

Blacksher’s research is ongoing. Some of it will be incorporated into future classes at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and updated Double Dutch robots will be exhibited in Los Angeles this fall. Blacksher hopes to "raise the stakes of holding robots to accountability in terms of rhythmic precision, and their relationship to  space and time." She hopes we can see a future where "robots are friends, not just something purely functional."

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Montauk Musings

Robert McKinley curates a shoppable bungalow in Montauk
Planning to join the herds of New Yorkers that'll head "out east" this summer. You might want to opt out of the standard sharehouse and book a stay at this thoughtful-designed beach bungalow instead. Located at the end of Long Island's South Fork, beyond the pricey Hamptons, this Montauk residence was just recently renovated and outfitted by celebrated interior design firm Studio Robert McKinley, to serve as both a weekend getaway and integrated showhome. The light, lime-washed white-wall, four-bedroom, ranch-style home features a carefully curated selection of furnishings, fixtures, finishes, and accessories that are all for purchase. The overall scheme reflects McKinley's sensibility while also paying homage to the locale's coastline and evoking the aesthetics of renowned seaside resorts in Europe. This Montauk home can be rented as of today. Read the full story on our interiors and design site, aninteriormag.com.    
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New Museum, New Digs

OMA reveals first renderings of New Museum expansion
Today OMA revealed its design for the New Museum addition, a brawny 62,000-square-foot gallery expansion that leans into the contemporary art museum's current home on the Bowery. The seven-story building will replace an older loft that was home to the museum's incubator, NEW INC, as well as artists who had lived and worked in the building for decades. The new structure will align with the SANAA-designed main building's floorplates on three levels, doubling the current exhibition space. It will also sport additional space for education and community events, a spot for NEW INC, an 80-seat restaurant, studios, and more. The architects contend that it will be possible to see the vertical circulation through the laminated glass with metal mesh facade. OMA New York partner-in-charge Shohei Shigematsu is the design lead on the project, and New York's Cooper Robertson is the executive architect. The New Museum first announced OMA's involvement in the project in 2017. Rem Koolhaas, the co-founder of OMA, explained the design reasoning to the New York Times, which first reported on the expansion, as such: "One building is very enigmatic, and it did not seem fruitful to create an enigma next to an enigma." The project will break ground next year and is slated for completion in 2022.
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The Bigger Picture

Mapping Community unveils how public buildings get built in NYC
A new exhibition now on view at the Center for Architecture explains how money moves across New York’s public building sector. It’s a complex system that, if you’re not directly involved in it, can seem unnecessarily confusing and slow. Mapping Community: Public Investment in NYC demystifies how things like libraries, schools, and parks pop up, as well as the players behind them. Curated by Faith Rose, former executive director of the NYC Public Design Commission, and David Burney, professor of urban placemaking management at the Pratt Institute, the showcase walks viewers step-by-step through the process of capital planning. It’s spread out over two floors and utilizes a very clear and graphic layout so that the information is distilled to the audience in a digestible yet still visually distinctive manner.  “No one entity is responsible for the entire process, and even people deeply involved in one part aren’t always aware what the other pieces entail,” said Rose in a statement. “I don’t believe there has ever been an exhibition that tracks the mechanisms of capital planning from start to finish.”  There probably hasn’t.  That’s likely because New York City boasts one of the largest local government systems in the United States and its beast-of-a-procurement-process is less than transparent. But things are changing and this big-picture view of the “ecosystem of agencies” involved reveals the work it takes to make tangible improvements to the city. This knowledge, for better or for worse, arguably gives a viewer (or in this case, a local resident), the agency to insert themselves into the planning process and help shape their own neighborhood.  To communicate the complexity of the subject, the curators pieced together an in-depth look into one public project per borough, separated by typology, and detailed the planning process at the community level. One of those case studies centers on Essex Crossing, the massive, mixed-use development on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. A contentious construction project from the start, it was once an empty six-acre lot but now houses everything from luxury condos by SHoP Architects, to an affordable housing complex by Beyer Blinder Belle, a senior living community by Dattner Architects, and the newly-opened Essex Market.  This part of the exhibition tells the story of how Manhattan Community Board 3 and other local organizations fought over a series of negotiations with the NYC Economic Development Corporation, as well as the site’s developer, to get a new K-8 school in the program. Here, it explains why the Department of Education has currently decided not to move forward with building a new school. It also reveals how local needs in other areas can affect capital projects.  Whether it was the right thing to do or not, garnering this information allows locals and exhibition audiences to better understand how the 1.9-million-square-foot Essex Crossing has come to be, what its future may look like, and how they can have a say in that. According to Hayes Slade, 2019 AIANY President and principal of Slade Architecture, that’s the key to improving the city. “New Yorkers should feel empowered to be part of community-building,” she said, “and that is only possible if they are knowledgeable of the process.” Mapping Community will be on view through August 31. 
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Tabula Rasa

Valentin Loellmann's first New York solo show is an exercise in restrained artisanal experimentation
The careful fusing of natural wood and cast bronze produces a happenstance burnt-finish that craft-led designer Valentin Loellmann embraces when creating bespoke furniture pieces. In fact, the Maastricht-based German artisan rarely begins a new piece based on preliminary sketches. Rather, he allows the material and a bit of experience-driven technical expertise to drive his process. Though Loellmann composes sculptural works with a tabula rasa approach, they often take on the shape and reference of furniture archetypes: a Shaker-style chaise-lounge, airplane-wing-like bench, monolithic table, towering armoire, amoebic ladder, strategically-jointed chair, and even a semi-circular staircase. Currently on view at New York’s Twenty First Gallery, in partnership with Paris-based collectible design purveyor Galerie Gosserez, Loellmann’s first solo show in this city, presents a robust selection of monumental pieces, all somehow coated in a layer of iridescent copper or cast bronze. Patinated surfaces and marble slabs are encapsulated in organically-carved yet suggestively-angular dark wooden frames. Read the full story on our interiors and design site, aninteriormag.com.