Search results for "whitney"
Blinds for walls? ASH NYC installation rethinks conventions of contemporary office decor
Turning mirrors into ceilings, tables into flooring, and blinds into walls, Brooklyn-based design and development firm ASH NYC isn't playing by the standard rules of workspace design. Known for mixing chic interior design and property development, the firm exhibited Office Space at this year's Collective Design held in New York earlier this month.
Covering 1,250 square feet, their installation was situated in the VIP lounge and café at the fair featuring a 60 foot long modular table named Office Table that was made using reclaimed heart pinewood used for the new floors at the Whitney Museum.
Connecting the lounge to the cafe within the fair, the space was encapsulated by an extensive horizontal blind system that doubled up as walls. Also tracing the space's perimeter, an array of sculptural seating cubes—or Office Chairs—offered gathering spaces for visitors to the exhibit.
Keeping with furniture, ASH also produced a limited-edition WC4 chair that was available for purchase on-site. These chairs were interspersed within the vicinity alongside planting that offered a natural counter to the prefabricated space.
A dropped ceiling was also incorporated into the design, employing ceiling panels wrapped in reflective mylar to articulate space seldom—if at all seen in office environments.
When the new Whitney Museum of American Art opened on Manhattan’s West Side a little over a year ago, critical reactions were mixed. Like the majority of contemporary commentary, much of the critique was aimed at the outside of the building. There was also praise for an interior that defers to the art and a bit of positivity about the views. Some gushed about how daring it was for a building to physically engage with its surroundings at ground level.
However, a year after the initial “wait and see,” it is time to call the Renzo Piano–designed Whitney building what it really is: An architectural tourist trap. It is the conceptual built equivalent of Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar (GAKB) in Times Square.
What does a tourist trap do? Like any good tourist trap, the Whitney relies too much on its surroundings. The site at the apex of the High Line along the Hudson River is one of the best in the city. An architect would have to try hard to not have great views. Putting a few couches along floor-to-ceiling windows is not a world-class experience—most locals can get sixth-floor views from a friend’s roof or balcony. Like GAKB in Times Square, the Whitney has such a good location for its purpose that it doesn’t actually need to do anything to attract visitors. It is just there, housing an awkward collection of early modern art—good Hoppers and mediocre Ruschas.
Because it is a tourist trap, it also doesn’t need to inspire anyone to come back. What about this museum makes us want to visit again? We come for Piano, much like diners come for Guy. At GAKB, there is not decadent, diner-inspired food, only limp lettuce and uninspiring Caesar dressing. At the Whitney, where are Piano’s poetic details? Where is the tectonic novelty? What happened to the inventive, integrated systems and materials? The Whitney is all of the bad things about Piano’s work: It is washed-out and soulless, without any of the Piano magic. How can we connect to it?
The outdoor spaces seem arbitrarily proportioned and like afterthoughts. We might find the under-designed railings at an institutional building or a second-rate theme park. The oft-heard excuse is that this is part of the industrial heritage of the site, and is meant to evoke being on a fire escape. Yes, beloved industrial buildings and fire escapes have fine characteristics—materiality, the patina and layers of time, spatial experiences with compression, release, and difficult corners, and odd juxtapositions of railings and stairs—the Whitney has none of these. Instead, it is all out of scale, sterile, and unengaging.
The tourist trap analogy is not one of immediate political context. Yes, many of the visitors to the Whitney are tourists. But the point is that the building has nothing to offer beyond its celebrity status.
Deferring to the art is not an excuse. What if the Four Seasons had “deferred” to the food? What if the Ford Foundation had “deferred” to people working? An off-the-shelf metal shed can do a fine job protecting farm equipment, but isn’t the landscape better off with some actual design? The condos on the Williamsburg waterfront are amazing places to hang out, cook, and enjoy the views. It doesn’t mean they are great architecture.
Connecting with the city and functioning properly should be baseline requirements of a building, not something to hold up as great architecture. We should demand more exciting design and value it as part of the gesamtkunstwerk of a museum: art, architecture, and city in harmony to create a place, as well as an experience. Manhattan already has a problem with stale homogeneity; we need to demand that architects and clients not contribute to it. After all, no one ever said it was form or function.
The New Museum will double in size in time for its 40th birthday next year, as it expands into next-door 231 Bowery, which is currently offices, a gallery, and artists' live/work space owned by the museum.
The museum announced yesterday that it had raised $43 million of the $80 million needed to pay for the expansion and to triple the endowment. Although the funds seem modest in comparison to the MoMA (annual operating budget: $147 million) or the Whitney, the capital campaign is the largest in the New Museum's history. The $80 million will also pay for the institution's business incubator, New INC, and programs like IdeasCity, which bring artists, activists, planners, and policymakers together to discuss issues facing cities like Detroit and Athens, Greece.
Lisa Phillips, the museum's director, told The New York Times that “we’ve known for a long time that we wanted an expansion, but we’ve been thinking about what an expansion means for a museum like this. We own the building next door, and it just makes sense to use it. But it was also about thinking about ways to create a parallel structure there, to make something that’s different and a counterpoint to this building.”
Since the museum's move to Soho in 2007, annual attendance has increased from 60,000 to over 400,000. The museum intends to renovate 231 Bowery and connect it to their main Sanaa–designed space, increasing the total footprint from 58,000 square feet to over 100,000. As of now, there are no plans to demolish 231 Bowery. The expansion will allow for improved circulation, and keep exhibitions on view during turnaround periods: The New Museum has a tiny permanent collection, choosing instead to focus on women artists and art that's not usually exhibited in New York.
“I don’t have [the expansion] completely laid out,” Phillips told the Times, “but it’s about trying to do things that museums haven’t done yet or maybe even imagined.”
Although Marcel Breuer's is most famous for designing the UNESCO Building in Paris and the Met Breuer (the former Whitney), the architect also designed a monumental public library in Atlanta. The future of that building, like so many Brutalist structures, is now in jeopardy.
It wasn't always this way. In the mid-1960s, attitudes towards the architect and his future building were solicitous: The then-director of the Atlanta library system was so impressed by the Whitney (completed in 1966) he urged the library board to invite Breuer to design the Central Library. After negotiating a 275-page program, and significant delays in funding, the project was completed in 1980. The six-story, 265,000-square-foot library featured a 300-seat theater, a restaurant, with space for more than 1,000 patrons and one million books. On the exterior, precast concrete panels are bush-hammered for texture, while inside, floors two through four are connected by a massive concrete staircase.
During the 2008 recession, the city asked voters to approve a $275 million bond referendum to expand two library branches, build eight new ones, and renovate others. If the county could come up with $50 million, over 30 percent of the bond could go towards…replacing the Breuer–designed library with another library.
Although critics like Barry Bergdoll have praised the structure as a perfect example of the "heavy lightness" that characterizes Breuer’s Bauhaus–influenced forms, the Brutalist aesthetic did not play well in Atlanta. Whether this indifference expressed itself through lack maintenance is difficult to determine, but the building has deteriorated, and programs have shrunk: In the mid-1990s, the theater closed after part of its ceiling collapsed while the restaurant was shuttered at the end of that decade. In 2002, the city spent $5 million to renovate the building, adding colorful walls and carpeting to improve its public perception.
As preservation petitions from groups like Docomomo attest, many municipalities struggle to preserve modern architecture, especially buildings that are seen as not user-friendly, or those that are "aesthetically challenging." Stephanie Moody, the chair of Atlanta’s library board, has asked the county to consider reallocating the funds for the central library for use at other, more popular branches. The remaining cash would be used to buy land and build a new library to replace the main branch.
Moody told local blog Creative Loafing that downtown doesn’t need a library the size of Central. County commissioner Robb Pitts framed the situation bluntly: “[Funding] would be for some renovations plus the construction of a brand new Central Library to be located in Downtown Atlanta. Period,” he said. “They’re not renovating the existing one. It’s very clear that the construction [of a new one] is what the voters called for.”
Although the building is listed on the 2010 World Monuments Watch List of Most Endangered Sites, its fate remains undecided, for now.
Brought to you by AIA New York
Join us at the Cosentino Showroom (A&D Building 150 E 58th Street) for a talk by AIANY New Practices New York competition winner Taller KEN. Gregory Melitonov of Taller KEN will present his firm's work, followed by a conversation with Michael Caton, AIA, architect with Ennead Architects and executive board member of the National Organization of Minority Architects New York Chapter (NYCOBA-NOMA). Taller KEN, founded in 2013 by Gregory Melitonov and Ines Guzman, is a New York- and Guatemala-based architecture practice focused on playful design with social and cultural relevancy. The studio’s work ranges from mixed-use development to commercial and residential projects and exhibition and installation design. The firm has received awards from the AIA and has been featured in publications including Dezeen, Domus, Dwell, and The Guardian. Melitonov and Guzman previously worked for Pritzker Prize laureate Renzo Piano as part of the design team for the Whitney Museum of American Art. The biennial competition New Practices New York is a preeminent platform in New York City to recognize and promote new and innovative architecture and design firms. The juried portfolio competition is sponsored by the AIANY New Practices Committee and honors firms that have utilized unique and innovative strategies, both for the projects they undertake and for the practices they have established. 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the New Practices Committee and the New Practices New York competition. When: 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM WEDNESDAY, MARCH 23 Where: Cosentino Showroom | A & D Building, 150 E 58th Street More info and rsvp here: RSVP