Getting inside Frank Lloyd Wright’s only design in South Carolina’s Lowcountry is not an easy feat. The legendary architect’s C. Leigh Stevens House on Auldbrass Plantation in Yemassee was previously only open for public tours every two years, but that’s changing. The Beaufort County Open Land Trust, which manages the site, announced this week that tours of the house will be given now on an annual basis, with the first round of tours scheduled for November 10-11. Tickets go on sale August 9 for $175 each. Built in 1939 for Michigan industrialist C. Leigh Stevens, Wright famously designed the residential structure without any right angles. He was supposedly inspired by the lean of the live oak trees found throughout the local region. Hexagonal shapes and inward-sloping walls define the main features of the house and the surrounding slender, one-story structures, including the caretaker’s residence, barn stables, kennels, and cabins—all linked by esplanades and largely clad in brick and local cypress. An elongated swimming pool and bathhouse were also constructed for the complex. The 4,000-acre plantation sits on the Combahee River in Yemassee, about an hour west of Edisto Island and 1.5 hours south of Charleston. The plantation fell into disrepair in the 1960s after Stevens passed away and was purchased by Hollywood producer Joel Silver in 1987. Over the last three decades, Silver has worked with the architect’s grandson, Eric Lloyd Wright, to restore the site to its original elegance and complete Wright’s vision for several other never-realized buildings planned for the complex. Before buying Auldbrass, Silver restored Storer House, one of Wright’s Mayan Revival style textile-block houses in Los Angeles. Auldbrass Plantation was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and is one of only two buildings Wright designed in South Carolina. The other is an additional residential project called Broad Margin upstate in Greenville.
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Automatic for the People
An automated people mover could come to L.A.’s new football stadium
The City of Inglewood in Southern California has announced a plan to add a 1.8-mile automated people mover (APM) connecting the forthcoming Los Angeles Rams stadium and the region’s growing transit network in the near future. A recently-unveiled scoping study called Envision Inglewood calls for establishing a “direct connection to rail” between downtown Inglewood and the city’s impressive slate of professional sports and performance venues. Facilities that could be connected by the new transit route include: The Forum, the forthcoming Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park, and the recently-unveiled Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center, a potential new basketball stadium for the Los Angeles Clippers NBA team. The new $2.66 billion Rams stadium is designed by HKS Architects and will be joined by a 3,000-unit mixed-use residential development next door known as “City of Champions.” The Forum was designed by Charles Luckman Associates in 1966 in the late modern style; The complex is slated to host the gymnastic events for the 2028 Olympic Games. The Envision Inglewood plan was crafted in conjunction with a series of other transportation and pedestrian fixes. The plan considers four different alignments and a handful of transport modes in its aim to provide a “world-class transit connection to-and-from the Metro Crenshaw/LAX Line” transit route, an 8.5 mile light rail line connecting the cities of Los Angeles, Inglewood, and El Segundo through southern Los Angeles County slated to open in 2019. According to a presentation made at the Inglewood City Council, the report’s chosen route—dubbed the “Market-Manchester” alignment—would add the APM link starting from the forthcoming Downtown Inglewood stop on the Crenshaw Line. The elevated train would snake down Market Street and Manchester Boulevard, ultimately ending up on South Prairie street where it can conveniently stop at the three stadium and performance venue locations. Renderings for the proposed plan depict lively street scenes overlooked by elevated train tracks on concrete piers. Projections for the line envision up to 2,578,120 potential boardings across the APM route per year, with slightly less than 40% of all boardings related to “event ridership.” According to the report, the link could cost $614.4 million to build and between $18.2 million and $19.5 million to operate each year. A timeline for the project’s completion has not been announced. The new football stadium is scheduled to open for the 2019-2020 NFL season.
Rest In Peace
In memoriam: Landscape architect Ron Herman
The award-winning San Francisco Bay Area landscape architect Ron Herman has passed away. The University of California, Berkeley College of Environmental Design (CED) announced Herman’s passing in a post on its website earlier this week. Herman, an alumnus of the school, graduated in 1964 with a Bachelors in Landscape Architecture. The designer practiced in the Bay Area for over 35 years and created over 400 full-scale gardens during this time. Herman’s designs included some of the country’s largest and most intricate residential gardens, including Japanese garden-inspired designs for the 25-acre site surrounding the home of Silicon Valley billionaire Lawrence Ellison. Herman grew up in Hollywood, where his father owned a plant nursery. As a child, Herman helped his father install gardens at the homes of rarefied clients, including celebrities Phil Silvers and Steve Allen. After graduating from CED, Herman studied Japanese garden design at Kyoto University in Japan for three years. While there, Herman grew inspired by the tension between regimented and organic forms inherent in traditional Japanese garden design. Herman brought this sensibility back home, imbuing his works with a mix of formal and informal sequences of spaces and plantings. Like his father, Herman’s list of clients included a whos-who of celebrities and prominent individuals and companies, including the professional football player Joe Montana, Neil Young, and Ellison’s company, Oracle. Herman also designed the garden for the East Wing addition by I.M. Pei to the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. In a 2002 profile, Herman summed up his philosophy to SF Gate: “A successful garden doesn't show itself all at once...there needs to be an integration or relationship between indoors and out—such as a room that opens onto the garden."
Lights! Camera! Gondola!
Warner Brothers proposes gondola to Hollywood Sign from San Fernando Valley
In the latest escalation of Los Angeles’s Hollywood Sign wars, Warner Brothers has announced something of a truce: a plan to build a $100 million gondola system that would connect the entertainment company’s studio backlot in Burbank, California with the iconic sign. The plan was announced via The Los Angeles Times earlier this week and comes as Los Angeles works to assuage concerns of the wealthy homeowners who live near and around access points to the sign. Those homeowners complain that increased public desire to visit and see the landmark has created gridlock and unsafe conditions in their neighborhoods as tourists peer out from their cars and stop in the middle of the street to take photos of and selfies with the sign. Though world famous as an iconic symbol of L.A., the Hollywood sign has never functioned as a traditional monument that people can freely visit. Instead, intrepid hikers and explorers must traverse a series of canyon trails, including the Beachwood Canyon access point, which the city closed in 2017, to get close to the sign. The super-adventurous have long illicitly hiked to the site of the sign itself, where the 40-foot-tall letters are simply and unceremoniously affixed to the hillside with poured concrete footings. But in recent years, as athleisure activities and Instagram have taken off, interest in visiting and seeing the sign has blossomed, presenting headaches for neighbors and questions of safety for visitors alike. After a recent trail closure, local city councilperson David Ryu commissioned a study aimed at finding ways to increase public access to the sign without impacting neighborhood residents. The wide-ranging recommendations included punitive measures like planting new trees and shrubbery to obscure views of the sign from the circuitous Mulholland Drive as well as visionary fixes, like potentially building a gondola system and visitors center along south-facing slopes of the Hollywood Hills. The most outlandish recommendation called for erecting a replica sign on the opposing side of the mountain that faces the San Fernando Valley. Warner Brothers’ plan represents a strange hybrid of the latter approaches. The company has large studio and production facilities in the San Fernando Valley that are a tourist draw in their own right. The proposed plan—an architect or design team has not been announced—would essentially expand those facilities to include access to the Hollywood sign by spanning over nearby Griffith Park and other adjoining hillsides. The scheme is in the very early phases of planning and study and will require many agency and local approvals, but the studio has offered to pay for the gondola, so at least funding is secured. Chris Baumgart, chair of the Hollywood Sign Trust said via email, “The Warner Brothers proposal is just one of many solutions that added together will help ease the burden of over-tourism faced by the neighborhoods.” Baumgart added, “There is no one solution to the complexities of this issue. The scope of the Warner Brother’s project will have a long road of vetting with community groups and local governments involved. The Environmental Impact Report for construction in an open space is just one of the challenges that will have to be navigated if this intriguing idea is to come to fruition.” The gondola proposal comes weeks after Aerial Rapid Transit Technologies, LLC announced its own plan to construct a gondola system that would take passengers from the Los Angeles Union Station to Dodger Stadium. That $150 million proposal is also under development, has support from L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, and is projecting a 2022 opening date. A timeline for the Hollywood Sign gondola has not been announced.
The Architecture of Five Exhibitions
Fashion, infrastructure, and retrofuturism collide in new shows at L.A.'s A+D Museum
This weekend, the Architecture and Design Museum (A+D) in Los Angeles launched The Assembly, an event marking the opening of five simultaneous exhibitions at the museum that engage with a variety of architectural perspectives. The wide-ranging exhibitions deep-dive into the work of local architects and disciplinary concerns, like the relationships between plan, section, and elevation. See below for a breakdown of the various exhibitions now on view. With Cycle & Pattern For With Cycle & Pattern, A+D has partnered with Otis College of Art and Design to create an exhibition of student work from the school's Fashion Design department focused on the "playful interaction between the elegance of the celestial and whimsy of the mortal and material." The horoscope-inspired works have been created by junior and senior students studying under Jose Fernandez of Ironhead Studio and costume designer Louise Mingenbach, two top Hollywood costume designers. The works are organized as four dioramas that can be experienced individually as well as in a group. 3-Ways Billed as A+D's inaugural Guest Curator Program exhibition, 3-Ways is organized by A+D Chief Curator Anthony Morey and Guest Curator Program members Ivan Bernal and Ryan Tyler Martinez, and aims to create a "platform for plan, section, and elevation to communicate with each other at a 1:1 scale." Organized as a "series of conversations," the exhibition pulls together work from over 30 architects, designers, and artists to explore the interrelationships between different viewing and drawing modes. Sunset 2050 Sunset 2050, a collaboration between Craig Hodgetts's SUPRASTUDIO at the University of California, Los Angeles and students from the ArtCenter College of Design Transportation Design program, posits a master plan for L.A.'s Sunset Strip that fully embraces autonomous vehicle technologies. By championing the "innate charm" of the Strip, the collected research project interrogates the ever-escalating "congestion" of urban street life, a territory that now demands space for digital, geo-location, and soon, autonomous technologies. The exhibition is supported by the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design, Gensler, Matt Construction, and BuroHappold Engineering. Dopplegänger Dopplegänger is a view into the inspirations that lie behind the "architectural mind" of Los Angeles-based Patrick Tighe Architecture. The exhibition presents a collection of recent work that has been reinterpreted through digital and physical collages that circle back to each project's original sources of inspiration in an effort to "retrospectively reinvigorate" the firm's work. By presenting each project with dueling collages and model assemblies, the firm seeks to "catalyze the intentions" behind these projects. Back to Front StereoBot & Oasys are collaborating on Back to Front, an examination of advances in building technology, zoning, and city planning with regards to affordable housing in Los Angeles. The "urban activation" installation will create a 400-square-foot backyard unit at AplusD. The structure will be used as a community forum that will host a series of community workshops focused on recent trends in affordability innovation. The installation will be on view until September 30, 2018. See the A+D museum website for more information.
International Style Safe
Pereira's historic CBS Television City achieves landmark status amid redevelopment rumors
The Los Angeles City Council has voted to designate the William Pereira-designed CBS Television City complex in Los Angeles as an official city historic-cultural monument, paving the way for the complex to be preserved or adaptively reused as redevelopment talks for the 25-acre site heat up. The International Style complex was built in 1952 and features gridded expanses of clear glass set along planar geometries. Designed by the firm Pereira and Luckman, the complex is among several of the office's many threatened works, including their LACMA building, among many, many others, and one of the few to glide toward landmark status in recent years, a surprise given the red-hot development climate in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Conservancy nominated the complex for landmarking earlier this year as rumors began to swirl that CBS was interested in redeveloping the complex. Alan Hess, an architectural historian who wrote the building's historic nomination on behalf of the Conservancy, told The Architect's Newspaper that "CBS Television City is a true landmark of the electronic age, and a real testament to the design and planning vision of William Pereira and Charles Luckman," adding, "They built it at the dawn of television, yet it is still in use today for its original purpose. That’s good design. It stands alongside [Richard] Neutra’s Lovell House and Skidmore Owings and Merrill’s Crown Zellerbach tower in San Francisco as one of California’s three greatest examples of International Style architecture." Hess added that the importance of the structure and its International Style design surpass its use as a television facility, as well, saying, "The International Style was inspired by the straightforward functionalism of factories, and CBS Television City is, in fact, a factory building, not a house or office building. CBS can be congratulated for being a good corporate citizen and supporting this designation." The complex came into being as a replacement facility for the Columbia Square broadcasting facilities located just a few miles away in Hollywood, CBS's original home designed by William Lescaze in 1938. Columbia Square was restored, reused, and expanded by Rios Clementi Hale Studios in 2017 as part of a larger project that added a high-rise tower and new office spaces to the site. The award-winning project has been heralded as a marquee approach for preservation-focused adaptive reuse. A potential project for the Television City site has not been announced.
Visiting UAP, the studio fabricating many of the biggest projects in art and architecture
UAP may not be a household name, but the firm is behind the scenes of many of the biggest projects in public art and architecture. With studios in Brisbane, Shanghai, and New York, UAP works with world-renowned artists and architects like Ai Weiwei, Carsten Höller, and Frank Gehry on highly complicated sculptures and architectural features. Most recently, it manufactured Phillip K. Smith III’s Open Sky with clothing brand COS for Salone del Mobile in Milan. UAP is also overseeing a number of projects in the Hudson Yards mega-development. Started in 1993 by brothers Daniel and Matthew Tobin in Australia, UAP collaborates with artists, architects, developers, and governments to plan and fabricate large-scale projects. However, at their core the Tobins are committed to protecting artists’ voices and maintaining conceptual integrity—dealing with tight deadlines, engineering challenges, and logistical complexities to deliver the creator’s vision in full. In this way, they function as an extension of the artist’s studio, allowing artists to step back from management and go back to doing what they do best: making art. UAP is organized into three sectors: UAP Studio, which produces site-specific artworks and offers curatorial oversight and public art strategy; UAP Factory, which works alongside architects on building projects; and UAP Supply, which offers limited-edition and custom furnishings. While UAP’s business includes working with artists to make their visions materialize, the firm also works with developers and governments to curate and consult on the how, where, and who behind public art. Recently, it has been going even bigger and helping develop master plans and long-term public art strategy for clients such as the Queen’s Wharf in Brisbane. Although handwork, traditional CNC, and cutting-edge fabrication techniques are integral to the practice, UAP is constantly looking for new ways to utilize technology. The team has been introducing virtual reality into its design process and collaborating with manufacturing researchers at Innovative Manufacturing CRC, Queensland University of Technology, and RMIT University to experiment with new robotic manufacturing systems that present a range of new possibilities. With his artist pedigree, founder Daniel has designed monumental projects, including the 197-foot-tall concrete tower Al Fanar (Beacon) in Saudi Arabia (with bureau^proberts) and a National AIDS Monument with the West Hollywood Foundation, to be completed in 2019. It’s this creative sensibility that’s central to UAP. It can help artists because they themselves are no mere fabricators; they’re partners in the creative process with an intimate knowledge of production and a deep investment in creative expression. Good Fences Make Good Neighbors New York This past winter’s blockbuster five-borough public exhibition from Ai Weiwei, Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, showcased the work of UAP in one of its most memorable sculptures: the 40-foot mirrored cage underneath the Washington Square Arch. Made in collaboration with the Public Art Fund, the arch sculpture was one of two that UAP completed for Ai’s project. The subject of many photographs, the sculpture approached serious topics with levity—juxtaposing a passage with a cage, it troubled the constructed notion of borders and highlighted the different ways they restrict, regulate, and permit the movement of differentiated bodies. Nuage, promenade Miami Working with renowned designers (and another fraternal pair) Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, UAP oversaw the construction of a series of metal and glass canopies in Miami’s design district. Called Nuage, promenade, the pergola is designed to engage with not only the surrounding built environment of Paseo Ponti, but also the natural environment, as native plants will slowly grow around the blue and green structure. SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico UAP worked on every step of the process, from design to fabrication to installation, for an external cladding system for a SHoP Architects expansion to the New Mexico contemporary art space SITE Santa Fe. The layers of folded and perforated aluminum cladding for the two entrances help to unify the extension as a whole and mesh it with the museum and the public space. UAP also worked with SHoP on the interiors of the American Copper Buildings in Manhattan. Wahat Al Karama Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates In 2016, UAP worked with British artist Idris Khan to realize the massive memorial park Wahat Al Karama in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The central monument comprises 31 leaning tablets made of aluminum plates recycled from decommissioned armored vehicles. The tablets are inscribed with the names of service members and poems and quotes from Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. At one end of the park is the Pavilion of Honor, completed with bureau^proberts. Made of 2,800 aluminum panels encircling seven glass panels by Khan, the meditative space is a quiet interior pause that complements the monolithic structure outside.
In Los Angeles—when it comes to preservation battles and development, at least—history tends to repeat itself. Such was the case last week, as the Gehry Partners-designed 8150 Sunset complex cleared another legal hurdle in the quest to demolish an existing historic building so that the project might move one step closer to construction. The California Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal brought forth by the Los Angeles Conservancy against a recent ruling that would have allowed developers Townscape Partners to demolish the 1960s-era Lytton Savings bank designed by Los Angeles architect Kurt Meyer located on the project site. The bank itself was built following the destruction in 1959 of the storied Gardens of Allah hotel complex, an elaborate collection of villas surrounding the historic Hayvenhurst estate. In its time, the hotel hosted a who’s-who of Hollywood entertainers and literary personalities, including the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the actress Alla Nazimova—after whom the complex was originally named—Greta Garbo, the Marx brothers, Ronald Reagan, and many others. Urban legend has it that the demolition of the Gardens complex inspired the line "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot" in the Joni Mitchell song "Big Yellow Taxi,” though sources—and Mitchell herself—do not quite agree on the matter. At the time of its destruction, the Gardens complex was seen as representative of an outdated style in need of renewal. Nearly 60 years later, Frank Gehry says the existing concrete folded plate structure that replaced the gardens has “outlived its time” as well, and is incompatible with his proposed design, a rumpled collection of twisted, fluted forms set to rise on what is now the city’s Sunset Strip. Gehry has pledged to “recognize” the Lytton structure as part of the redevelopment, though he has not specified what that means. The latest mixed-use project would bring a clump of segmented towers surrounded by broad public spaces and a stepped plaza to the site. Contained within the three squat towers that make up the project would be 229 housing units, including 38 low-income designated homes. The housing element will be joined by 60,000 square feet of commercial spaces, as well. It is unclear what’s next for the project. A statement from the L.A. Conservancy website states that the latest ruling “effectively ends legal efforts to stop the needless demolition of the historic Lytton Savings building,” however. A statement put out by Friends of Lytton Savings referred to the ruling as “bad news.” Steven Luftman and Keith Nakata of Friends of Lytton Savings said via email, “Demolishing the Lytton building will be a tremendous loss for Los Angeles. The building represents what was good about the ‘Mad Men’ era of architecture in Los Angeles: Kurt Meyer and Bart Lytton created a soaring space that brought art, sophistication and the vision of a bright future to the people of this city.’’ A development timeline for 8150 Sunset has not been released.
Gateway to Other Futures
A St. Louis symposium imagines alternate urban futures inspired by Afrofuturism
We have to imagine a place before we can actually be there. So St. Louis–based artists and curators Gavin Kroeber, Tim Portlock, and Rebecca Wanzo invited their fellow citizens to imagine the urban future with “a two-day festival of art and ideas that explores the collisions of race, urbanism, and futurism, providing a platform for alternate visions of the St. Louis to come.” The name of the event, “Dwell in Other Futures,” comes from the novel Dhalgren by the Afrofuturist writer Samuel R. Delaney, who also served as the keynote speaker and underpinning force that bound together a number of the program’s participants. To open the event, Delaney recited a chapter from his most recent novel that bolstered the role that intimacy might play in how we understand our spaces. Held on April 27 and 28, the program included a collection of workshops and presentations, with special emphasis on performances. For example, the multidisciplinary artist Eric Ellingsen, along with his team of Tyvek-hazmat-suit-clad landscape architecture faculty and students from the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, invited the public to join as they performed a choreographic ritual on an empty land parcel across the street from the Pulitzer Foundation. Inspired by the spray paint markings that often indicate underground utility lines, Ellingsen’s team challenged the audience to assume agency over the colored ground markings that make up our cities in order to speculate how infrastructure may connect us in more creative ways. Children and adults took charge of rolling paint applicators to inscribe the site with colorful lines while an overhead drone recorded the real-time mapmaking from a bird’s-eye view. Inside, artist Autumn Knight invited audience members to offer impromptu proposals for civic institutions as part of her La-A Consortium performance, positing playful yet bureaucratic titles such as “Shephanique Center for Literacy” and the “Jadavian Center for Creative Ecologies” as a starting point. By leveraging the power of intentional naming, Knight prompted the audience to consider how they might creatively impact the identities and activities of the organizations that constitute our society. The event closed with a bang as six different local participants delivered “Manifestos for a Future St. Louis.” These brief, bold, and highly choreographed proclamations required each participant to articulate a scenario about a possible future through whatever artistic means necessary. Architectural historian Michael Allen delivered a prescient soliloquy set to a Hollywood soundtrack, warning of a “non-topian” future that intensifies our troubled present, brimming with privatization and distrust of the public sphere. Maxi Glamour, the self-proclaimed “Demon Queen of Polka and Baklava” projected a nonbinary, gender-fluid future enacted by a spectacular drag performance. Social practice designer De Nichols closed the series with an optimistic call to action, imploring us to consider what parts of the status quo need to be destroyed in order to make space for “audacious” culture-makers and “fearless” justice-makers. What conclusions did the festival draw? Its participants proposed more questions than answers, implicating the audience every step of the way, but most assuredly, the celebratory collective voice proclaimed that the future will be black, the future will be queer, and the future city demands all of our emphatic participation.
My body is the first architecture* The centerpiece of the exhibition Gerard & Kelly: CLOCKWORK is a 35-minute film called Schindler/Glass (2017) depicting performances at the Philip Johnson Glass House (1949) in New Canaan, CT and the Rudolph Schindler House (1921) in West Hollywood, CA. Shown in a round pavilion on the ground floor of the converted industrial hall that is cultural center Pioneer Works in Red Hook, Brooklyn, this installation is part of an ongoing series by the duo Brennan Gerard and Ryan Kelly called Modern Living which explores the effects of Modernism on domestic spaces: ““What would a home have to be today to shelter intimacies that do not fit within dominant narratives of family, marriage, or domesticity?” Whereas the transparent, open-plan Glass House was inhabited by a gay couple, Philip Johnson and David Whitney, the Schindler House was created as a communal residence for two young families, the Shindlers and the Chases, who shared common spaces in addition to their two interlocking L-shaped apartments, “homes the architects built for themselves to shelter relationships as experimental as their designs.” The house is a blueprint for memory* According to Glass House curator Cole Akers, Johnson and Whitney “upended conventional notions about domesticity and architecture, particularly as they relate to sexuality.” The campus was a gathering place for the gay avant-garde (Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Merce Cunningham) in the pre-Stonewall era, and has a history of engaging with dance across the campus including Cunningham dance company’s 1967 performance at the site, and both the Monument for Lincoln Kirstein (1985), a founder of New York City Ballet, and the Lake Pavilion (1962) which are virtual maquettes for Johnson's New York State Theater at Lincoln Center. Relationships like clockwork* In the film, nine dancers from L.A. Dance Project (Benjamin Millepied’s company) explore “hidden choreographies” by showing a “family” in various configurations — 2 men, 2 women, a male/female couple — calling out the time of day and related activities. The just distribution of two men and two women* Accompanying the film are visual and sculptural elements placed throughout the Pioneer Works space, inspired by elements from these houses as well as two additional buildings: the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe in Plano, Illinois, a weekend retreat for the single occupant, Dr. Edith Farnsworh; and the Pioneer Works building itself. There is no front—space is the medium* Untitled (Edith) (2018) is a curtain made from vintage sheer, light blue nightgown fabric that flutters in the breeze, her revenge against Mies who objected to her desire for heavy curtains. Farnsworth said, “Mies talks about his ‘free space’: but his space is very fixed. I can’t even put a clothes hanger in my house without considering how it affects everything from the outside…because the house is transparent, like an X-ray.” The disagreement led to lawsuits; Farnsworth complained about her uninhabitable “glass cage.” skin and bones (2018) are two sheets of glass, which together are the size of one Farnsworth House pane, each mounted onto white I-beams and subwoofer speakers that transmit the sound of the Fox River that runs below the house, which is so loud that the glass visibly vibrates, echoing another complaint of the resident. A home is a mathematical equation* When Gerard and Kelly started working in the Red Hook building, they grappled with the 1880s architecture that originally housed the manufacturing of large-scale machinery for railroad tracks and sugar plantations, since it was not Modern. Instead, the daily geometric display of light raking through windows fit their aesthetic and is captured in silkscreens called Light Studies 4:33 made from photos taken at 4:33 PM on the first day of the month over a one-year period, named in homage to John Cage’s composition 4’33” (incidentally, Cage was a resident at the Schindler House in 1934). This work is echoed by Relay (2018), colorful transparent vinyl strips placed on the building’s windows, which echo the costume hues of the nine dancers in the film Schindler/Glass. Private (2018), is a sculptural object outlining the Glass House’s layout that features a page from Franz Schulze’s biography of Johnson, sandwiched in sandblasted glass. It quotes a Lincoln Kirstein letter acknowledging Johnson’s Nazi sympathies and later remorse. The title “Private” plays on the multiple meanings of the word, “the secret testimony, the formal reference to one another as Private soldiers in the US Army, and the open secret of their sexual orientations.” They quote Johnson: “I mean the idea of a glass house, where somebody just might be looking…That little edge of danger in being caught.” The family is a system of regeneration* The family is a system of regeneration (2018) are folded wooden panels painted with colorful double-helixes in the same materials and sizes as the Schindler House, and mark the dancers’ steps in the film. The curators stated, “CLOCKWORK explores how the passage of time underlies these sites, their intimate histories, and the occasion of the exhibition itself…transforming Pioneer Works from a space in which machines were built into a machine for keeping time.” While in Red Hook, stop by roodgallery for Alexandros Washburn’s painting exhibition including David Childs and Capitol Hill 4. Washburn is the Founding Director of the Center for Coastal Resilience and Urban Xcellence (CRUX) at Stevens Institute of Technology and former Chief Urban Designer in the NYC Department of City Planning. Gerard & Kelly: CLOCKWORK, Pioneer Works, 159 Pioneer St, Brooklyn, NY 11231, through July 1. https://pioneerworks.org Lux Figura, Alexandros Washburn, roodgallery, 373 Van Brunt St.,Brooklyn, NY 11231, through June 30. http://www.roodgallery.com
- Axioms for Modern Living, Gerard & Kelly
When the Moore, Lyndon, Turnbull, and Whitaker Architects-designed University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) Faculty Club opened in 1968, architectural historian and critic David Gebhard wrote in Forum that the complex was “theatrical (like Hollywood) and planned, even though on the surface everything appears haphazard and disjoined.” The compliment applies in opposite to the recently-completed $11.25 million renovation, restoration, and expansion to the complex by Charles Moore’s successor firm Moore Ruble Yudell (MRY), where a series of rationally-organized dining facilities, hotel accommodations, and administrative offices conceal nuanced and rich architectural detail. The complex was originally designed as an homage to the era’s Pop Architecture phenomenon that blended Spanish Colonial Revival stylings with a 1960s penchant for dumb shacks and postwar vernacular modernism. Though from the outside, the building originally appeared as a stuccoed mass of disjointed shapes, Moore and Turnbull’s original vision was decked out inside with soaring framed archways, criss-crossing mezzanine walks and stairways, and neon signs and symbols decorating its walls. The project’s showpiece, a central, multi-story dining room, contained all of these elements and more, including deep-cut architectural references to other famous works—like a sloped entry reminiscent of Le Corbusier’s Carpenter Center at Harvard—that were amplified and repurposed throughout the UCSB Lagoon-adjacent complex. Today, the expanded club boasts a wholly new 15,760-square-foot wing hosting 34 guest rooms wrapped by perimeter circulation, as well as a renovated and restored central dining hall and a bevy of new sustainability features. Overall, the building has more than doubled in size from 14,595 square feet to over 30,000 square feet today, an effort that has overtaken but not necessarily overshadowed the existing PoMo gem. MRY has taken a gradient-driven approach to the project by restoring the easternmost two-thirds of the original building while also adaptively reusing the remainder of the existing complex and adding the new wing on the building’s west side. The upgraded dining room—dialed down in terms of its furnishings and place settings from the 1960s version, as one might imagine—is more spare than before. Gone are the expanses of wall-to-wall red carpeting, Mid-Century Modern-styled dining chairs, and glass-topped dining tables and their frilly, folded napkin arrangements, which have been replaced with more paired-down and contemporary elements. Many other aspects of the existing building have been retrofitted for contemporary times as well, including the building’s windows, which have been replaced with energy-efficient panes. The complex boasts passive design features that facilitte matural ventilation throughout. Added too are new sensitive lighting designs that allow for task-level lighting control in the hotel rooms, as well as new ambient lighting in the dining areas that compliments the large glass light fixtures already inhabiting the space. Perhaps the most unique elements of the complex come in at ceiling height, where many areas feature drop-down roof rafters that evoke the vigas of the Spanish Revival as well as the slap-dash 2x10 ceiling joists of the Mid-Century vernacular, as well. These elements are complemented in the hotel rooms and in the building’s many shared areas by peculiar ceiling geometries that result from the building’s heaped architectural forms. Everywhere rooms and entire wings explode askew to the structural grid, with massive octagonal arches doing the work of keeping the building standing, as sloping ceilings, pop-out window walls, skylights, and transom openings combine to create delightful ceiling geometries. Overall, the architects have proven that it is possible to respect and embrace history—even what might be considered by some today as an over-wrought PoMo relic—while also building for the future. In Santa Barbara, PoMo isn’t “back,” and it’s certainly not dead—It’s been here and will continue to remain.
The third edition of Jim Heimann’s California Crazy from TASCHEN asks what happens when you build out a new city in the car-crazy age of the early 20th century. The result? A freethinking (and wheeling) design style that cut ties with the past and dropped giant owls, ice cream cones, and hot dogs across the desert landscape. Southern California, according to Heimann, has always been a land of roadside attractions, movie lots, amusement parks and attention-grabbing style. The rebar-and-plaster animals made for movie sets gradually became larger as roadside businesses, looking for ways to lure in customers whizzing by at high speeds, constructed buildings to be seen from a distance, but also act as attractions in and of themselves. The access to cheap land and loose (or no) zoning let builders in the 1920s and beyond build increasingly fantastical buildings as well as mini-golf courses and life-sized recreations of historically famous buildings. The core premise was always to entertain and attract, even if the results drew scorn from architectural critics. But over time, the conglomeration of “buildings that look like other things” across Hollywood and Los Angeles created their own architectural vernacular, one that eventually spread east to cities like Las Vegas. California Crazy also includes David Gebhard’s essay, in which he defines the relation this language has to the automobile and “normal” domestic architecture. The original version of California Crazy was published in 1980, but our fascination with fanciful architecture seems like more than a passing fad. Buildings like NBBJ’s Big Basket or the giant chest of drawers in North Carolina continue to draw attention, and in California Crazy, Heimann breaks down exactly why we still find them so intriguing.