All posts in On View

Placeholder Alt Text

H/T to the Gorillaz

Snarkitecture's plastic beach makes waves in Chicago
Although much of the country, Chicago included, is being blasted by arctic air, that doesn’t mean that the beach is out of reach. From now until February 3, Chicagoans can leap into Snarkitecture’s The Beach Chicago, back in the states after serving its last tour of duty in Sydney, Australia. Interested visitors can find the 1.1-million-ball-beach installed inside of the Aon Grand Ballroom at the Navy Pier. The ballroom, designed by Charles Sumner Frost and completed in 1916, is an imposing location for The Beach, as the installation sits under an 80-foot-tall stone-and-steel dome. Visitors can take in the impressive view by lounging on a deck chair, or “floating” in the ocean of translucent antimicrobial balls. The 18,000-square-foot space on the pier has been transformed into a full “beach," complete with umbrellas, lifeguard stations, inflatables, lounge chairs, and the appropriate signage. Restaurants on the pier will be offering up complimentary “beach-themed” menus, and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater will continue its run of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The Beach began as a commission for the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., as part of its annual Summer Block Party series. Snarkitecture responded to the prompt by flooding the museum’s Great Hall with colorless white balls, creating both a play space and meditation on the form of the balls themselves. The installation was so successful that it’s been touring the world as a series of pop-ups ever since, and returned (partially) to the National Building Museum as part of the Snarkitecture retrospective in 2018. The Beach Chicago was made possible with support from The Chicago Free For All Fund at The Chicago Community Trust, the Navy Pier Associate Board, and Hilton Worldwide.
Placeholder Alt Text

In Fluxus We Trust

Fluxus-inspired installations are coming to the MAK Center in Los Angeles
Starting February 9, the MAK Center for Architecture in Los Angeles will exhibit Shelter or Playground: The House of Dust at the Schindler House, a fresh look at the intersection of contemporary architecture, technology, and performance art. The exhibition is curated by Maud Jacquin, Anna Milone, and Sébastien Pluot of Art by Translation (TALM) and is organized with the help of the MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House, France Los Angeles Exchange (FLAX), and the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). For the group exhibition, the curators have organized a set of performances, commissions, and installations that draw inspiration from The House of Dust, a “seminal yet under-recognized” late 1960s work by Fluxus artist Alison Knowles, according to a press release. The House of Dust is considered among the first computer-generated works of poetry and is composed of repeating quatrains each beginning with the phrase “A House of . . . ” that is then followed by a random sequence of computer-generated materials, sites or locations, light sources, and categories of inhabitants. In 1968, Knowles translated the poem into a physical structure at a site in Chelsea, New York. The structure was eventually destroyed and then rebuilt and moved to the CalArts campus, where Knowles taught in the early 1970s. At CalArts the structure served as a makeshift classroom, an exhibition space, and as a catalyst for student work. The coming presentation at the MAK Center seeks to pick up the work’s generative potential with new installations and performances by Henry Andersen & Bryana Fritz/Slow Reading Club, architectural writer and researcher Lila Athanasiadou, media artist Jasmin Blasco, French architects François Dallegret and François Perrin, and FLAX Artist-in-Residence Aurélie Godard, among many others. For a full list of participants, see the MAK Center website. The run of the exhibition will include a program of historical performances highlighting works by Merce Cunningham and Trisha Brown. CalArts students will also perform interpretations of scores created by Fluxus-associated artists, including Alison Knowles, Yoko Ono, Alvin Lucier, and Pauline Oliveros.
Placeholder Alt Text

Art Hanging on the Waller

Waller Creek Conservancy stages fifth annual Creek Show
This article originally appeared in Texas Architect. For the fifth time in as many years, artists, architects, and Austinites alike descended the banks of Waller Creek to experience Creek Show, an annual display of temporary light installations commissioned by the Waller Creek Conservancy. Intended to delight the public and spark conversation about the transformation of Waller Creek, the show has swelled in popularity since its inception as a one-night event in 2014. This year was no exception, as thousands of Austinites were dazzled by six local design teams over nine nights in November. TENTSION by Perkins+Will anchored the southern entrance to the show, which sprawled north between 9th and 11th streets in downtown Austin. Dozens of internally lit camping tents hovered over the creek bed in a variety of configurations, occasionally soaring into the tree canopies and over spectators’ heads via taut cables. Inspired by tensions at this intersection of the creek and Austin’s urban fabric, the tents themselves were donated to a local organization serving those in need after the installation was disassembled. Moving north, La Noria by Drophouse Design rests on the creek bed, allowing the natural current to power two large, connected paddle wheels adorned with glowing spokes and fluorescent paddles. The playful armature is also unapologetically industrial, aiming to draw a contrast between the mechanics of the installation itself and the natural power source of the creek. AOD contributed Parabolus as homage to the geometry of the 1930s arched masonry bridges that allow downtown streets to pass over the creek. Thin tension fibers illuminated by hidden black lights lend the installation its form, which resembles a graphed tangent function. Per the design team, the installation “draws [viewers’] gaze to both water and sky, creating an immersive experience that emphasizes Waller Creek’s symbiotic urban and natural connection.” Urban Scrim by Lemmo Architecture and Design (LA-N-D) features ephemeral projections of silhouetted pedestrians and cyclists mapped onto rectangular modules of tight scrim fabric. Formally inspired by the West Texas land art movement, its simple forms and impressive scale seek to pair “the movement of the urban streetscape with the texture and nature of water flowing through the creek.” Ambedo ßeta from Polis employed a series of linear LED lights that wrap continuously throughout the three rectangular tunnels beneath the 11th street bridge. The installation also featured two “phone booths” on opposite ends of the tunnel, where visitors could engage in a form of conversation as their voices manipulated the lighting. By turning visitors’ voices to lights, the installation reminds guests that words can tangibly affect those around them. The terminus of the show resided within Symphony Square, a city-owned public plaza that features a terraced amphitheater and several historic buildings that the Conservancy renovated to house its own offices and support facilities for public-facing events. A collaboration between Campbell Landscape Architecture and Tab Labs yielded Light Lines, an abstracted representation of the city’s waterways and drainage system. As another interactive display, the installation used a series of electroluminescent wires suspended from a grid that extends over the terraced steps of the amphitheater. Per the team, “interactive touch points allow viewers to manipulate the light intensity as it moves across the structure and reflects upon the water.” While Creek Show and its installations are only temporary, the Conservancy’s work in preparing the annual event is an around-the-clock endeavor. Austin-based artists looking to participate need only check the Creek Show website in the coming months for the next call for submissions. As the event continues to gain momentum, it’s never too early to wonder what the next chapter for Creek Show has in store for Austin and the future of Waller Creek.
Placeholder Alt Text

Post-Prattural

Pratt exhibition looks at architecture of the Anthropocene
A show now up at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery gathers the work of over 40 architects who have considered what architecture could look like in a future world where the built environment is no longer centered around humanity. In a statement, the show's organizers referred to this new era as the Anthropocene, when "humans have been fundamentally displaced from a place of privilege, philosophically as well as experientially, and Western civilization’s traditional distinctions between nature and culture have eroded." The show asks, "What new worlds, and what new concepts of nature and culture can art and design reveal that other modes of inquiry and knowledge cannot?" Ambiguous Territory: Architecture, Landscape, and the Postnatural, which opened last December and will be on view through February 7 was curated by Cathryn Dwyre, adjunct associate professor at Pratt Institute and principal of pneumastudio, Chris Perry, associate professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and principal of pneumastudio, David Salomon, assistant professor at Ithaca College, and Kathy Velikov, associate professor at the University of Michigan and principal of RVTR. The show was organized by the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan. Exhibitors include Ellie Abrons, Paula Gaetano Adi & Gustavo Crembil, amid.cero9, Amy Balkin, Philip Beesley, Ursula Biemann, The Bittertang Farm, Edward Burtynsky, Bradley Cantrell, Brian Davis, Design Earth, Mark Dion, Lindsey french, Formlessfinder, Adam Fure, Future Cities Lab, Michael Geffel, Geoarchitecture @ Westminster, Geofutures @ Rensselaer Architecture, Harrison Atelier, Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, Lisa Hirmer, Lydia Kallipoliti & Andreas Theodoridis, Perry Kulper, Sean Lally, Landing Studio, Lateral Office & LCLA, LiquidFactory, Meredith Miller & Thom Moran, NaJa & deOstos, NEMESTUDIO, Mark Nystrom, Office for Political Innovation, OMG, The Open Workshop, pneumastudio, Rachele Riley, Alexander Robinson, RVTR, Smout Allen, smudge studio, Neil Spiller, Terreform ONE, Unknown Fields, and Marina Zurkow.
Placeholder Alt Text

Gaucho Modern

UCSB looks back at the school's often-overlooked role in campus modernism

UCSB Campus Architecture: Design and Social Change was a fascinating exhibition at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) Art, Design, & Architecture Museum (ADA) that used master plans, drawings, photographs, and models to chart the profound changes in urban planning and public architecture design that took place at the university.

The exhibition also challenged several long-standing myths that plague California’s post–World War II urban planning legacy, including the persistent idea that many of the era’s plans were designed to remain static over time.

For one, the exhibition, curated by ADA reference archivist Julia Larson, was a subtle homage to two of the most prominent but largely forgotten regional urban thinkers of the postwar era—William L. Pereira and Charles Luckman—who together in 1953 crafted a cinnamon-hued urban design language for the university imbued with elements of vernacular modernism.

Their initial approach—dubbed the “Campus Standard” plan—was eclectic but extremely tasteful. In early buildings like the Ortega Dining Commons and Anacapa Residences, Ennis House–inspired concrete block piers mixed with hipped roofs, adobe-style stucco massing, and expressive modernist design elements to create solid, stark buildings that instantly rendered the barren site sophisticated.

The remaining grounds were exposed to ocean wind, because the site’s topsoil had initially been scraped away. In response, the first buildings by Pereira & Luckman were laid out in slender, interlocking L-shapes, each squat structure separated by concrete breezeblock walls and new plantings that curbed windblown dust.

When Pereira & Luckman dissolved their partnership in 1958, Luckman and his new office, Charles Luckman Associates (CLA), stayed on at UCSB as campus planners and executive architects. The new firm updated the Campus Standard plan in 1963 in preparation for a period of profound expansion; among these updates were new rules for taller and denser buildings. Although the updated guidelines CLA crafted were extremely particular, they also lent themselves well to adaptation. Again, hipped roofs, an almost classical use of columns, awnings, and screens, as well as thin-shell concrete spans soon became emblematic of a grown-up Southern California modernism, and an aesthetic touchstone for the state’s public and educational facilities.

Luckman’s seminal work at UCSB distilled several of the contemporaneous aesthetic trends coursing through American design into a coherent sensibility for the state’s burgeoning university system.

For example, Harold Frank Hall, built in 1967, stands out as a key example of this cohesive but open-ended style. The gridded, six-story complex is anchored by a long, low volume that features dentil-topped arcades; the taller, attached building is wrapped in sculptural concrete window hoods that bring geometric patterning to the campus skyline.

As detailed in ADA’s exhibition, Luckman’s vision is significant because the system CLA refined uses the humble markers of small-scale architecture to designate entrances, create shared qualities between structures, and frame views of the campus and surrounding landscape to the benefit of larger buildings. That modern architecture of the time espoused these qualities is often forgotten in the glimmer of the more abstract and singular Palm Springs–style Modernism that is so popular today.

Because of this and other efforts across California’s public universities, UCSB’s campus planning and architecture stand alongside the state’s cookie-cutter suburbs as some of the chief products of its post–World War II economic and social transformations. That is partially by design, as Pereira, Luckman, and others worked in both planning and design across the state during this era—pursuing new visions in different arenas.

In presenting this pioneering body of work and its ability to adapt over time, the exhibition also provided a unique lesson about the potential of midcentury urban planning to gracefully absorb change, a quality readymade in some other designs. A key lesson is that Luckman’s plans continue to succeed today because they were built on the campus’s earlier visions; accommodations were made for history, height, and size, concerns that would only increase in coming decades and are now ever-present.

Lastly, UCSB Campus Architecture was a timely analysis—with the current century fully underway, the UC system is once again set to expand. Across the state, university campuses are making changes to boost enrollment and housing offerings. UCSB itself is slated to add 5,000 students and housing for 1,600 students and faculty to its campus over the next eight years.

We can only hope that a century from now, a new exhibition probing these contemporary approaches will be as rich and fruitful as UCSB Campus Architecture.

UCSB Campus Architecture: Design and Social Change Art, Design & Architecture Museum University of California, Santa Barbara January 13 – December 2, 2018
Placeholder Alt Text

What can architects do?

SCI-Arc undertakes all-school public charrette addressing homelessness
The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) and the Goethe-Institut will be holding a four-day charrette this weekend focused on generating ideas and approaches that could help address the prevalence of homelessness among Los Angeles residents. According to a press release issued by the school, all of SCI-Arc’s 506 students will be involved with the initiative, which starts Friday and runs through Monday evening. The event will feature contributions from a bevy of local and international experts, including Lorcan O’Herlihy, Frances Anderton, Deborah Weintraub, Mimi Zeiger, and other local politicians, designers, and non-profit directors. In a statement, SCI-Arc director Hernan Diaz Alonso said, “SCI-Arc is committed to playing an integral role in solving the homeless crisis. We are committed not only because of our proximity to Skid Row but because there is a moral imperative and an architectural challenge. Design must be implemented as a means for social change.” Following a day-long symposium on Friday, students and interested parties will engage in a weekend-long research and design session that will culminate in a public exhibition on Monday evening. Several of the events will be available via livestream for those who cannot attend. See below for a full schedule of the charrette. Friday, January 11, 2019 W.M. Keck Hall Lecture Hall Welcome and Introduction 1:00 p.m. – 1:20 p.m. Hernan Diaz Alonso, SCI-Arc Director Lien Heidenreich-Seleme, Goethe-Institut Director Mark Ridley-Thomas, LA County Supervisor Livestream link Presentation: Framing the Problem 1:20 p.m. – 1:40 p.m. Jerry Neuman, SCI-Arc trustee Chris Ko, United Way of Greater Los Angeles Livestream link Panel Discussion 1 1:40 p.m. – 2:40 p.m. Marqueece Harris-Dawson, LA City Councilmember (Moderator) Jerry Neuman, SCI-Arc trustee Jerry Ramirez, County Homelessness Initiative Christopher Hawthorne, LA City Chief Design Officer Thomas Newman, United Way of Greater Los Angeles Livestream link Panel Discussion 2 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Frances Anderton, KCRW (Moderator) Deborah Weintraub, Chief Deputy City Engineer of Los Angeles Carlos Zedillo, Head of Pienza Sostenible Kevin Hirai, President of Flyaway Homes Lorcan O'Herlihy, Architect Livestream link Closing Remarks 4:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. Hernan Diaz Alonso, SCI-Arc Director Livestream link Saturday, January 12, 2019 Conversations Livestreamed 10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Mimi Zeiger, Journalist and Curator Tanner Blackman, City Planner Volunteer faculty, alumni and guests Pin-up 2:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., Keck Hall SCI-Arc Students + Volunteer Faculty Livestream link Monday, January 14 Exhibition 4:00pm–7:00pm Student work exhibited throughout the school
Placeholder Alt Text

Much Latergram

Detroit Institute of Arts brings the city's past to life in found photo show
The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is putting fresh faces on the past with the found photography show Lost & Found: Photographs from the DIA’s Collection, up now through March 3. Coming from a range of sources, some "rescued from attics, resale shops, online sources," and DIA archives, according to the institute. Subjects are both architectural and social, originating from the 1860s to the 1970s. Some of the more recent snaps are from local photographers Allen Stross and James Pearson Duffy, who documented the city frequently from the seat of his car, according to DIA. The institute is also soliciting contributions from the public via social media, asking participants to use the tag #LostAndFoundatDIA. Both the show and admission to the museum are free for residents of Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties.
Placeholder Alt Text

Industrial Brooklyn

Atelier Van Lieshout's critiques of capitalist machinery are coming to New York
Atelier Van Lieshout is bringing its signature architecture-scale, dystopian sculptures to New York this spring. Starting March 1, Pioneer Works in Brooklyn will host The CryptoFuturist and The New Tribal Labyrinth, described by the art space as "the first large-scale exhibition of work by Atelier Van Lieshout (AVL) in the United States." AVL is known for its provocative pieces, including one that proved too controversial for the Louvre in 2017. The collective's works often take the form of fantastical machines that exaggerate or satirize capitalist and industrial practices. For the Pioneer Works show, AVL will display Blast Furnace, a work from 2013 comprising a 40-foot-tall mix of industrial hardware that a family supposedly lives inside of. The work is apparently "inspired by a desire to the return to industry" in the face of changes to the nature of work in the 21st century. Other works in the show riff of Italian Futurism and link aspects of the movement to the seeming resurgence of fascism today. The CryptoFuturist and The New Tribal Labyrinth will be on display at Pioneer Works from March 1 through April 14.
Placeholder Alt Text

Win, Lose, or Draw

Cooper Union exhibition rethinks the age-old act of drawing
At Cooper Square, the act of architectural drawing is bring re-analyzed in the context of a new era of computations and code-based processes. An exhibition, Drawing Codes: Experimental Protocols of Architectural Representation Volume II, presented by the Cooper Union School of Architecture, in conjunction with the California College of the Arts' Design Lab, questions how rapid innovations in design and production technologies impact the ways architects engage with traditional drafting techniques. Participants, such as firms Aranda\Lasch, MILLIØNS, and T+E+A+M, among many others, investigated the act of drawing with a nod to certain prompts laid out by curators Andrew Kudless and Adam Marcus. These prompts were: the psychology of rules, and whether they create room for design opportunity, or are factors which constrain; language, and theorizing whether writing and drawing engage with each other in architecture; and cipher, or the exploration of how drawings engage with and portray hidden messages. All of the 24 entries on display were held to strict rules: they use consistent dimensions, the same black and white palette, and are all two-dimensional, and relate to at least one of the prompts written above. And yet, even with such strong guidelines, the differences and creativity in each piece are astonishing. Curator Andrew Kudless stated, “Even when there are constraints and guidelines, there are loopholes and variances that open up new potentials for architectural design and representation.” The exhibition runs from January 23 to February 23, 2019.
Placeholder Alt Text

Cooler Transit

Hyperloops and wheelchair bikes: Cooper Hewitt explores the future of mobility
In The Road Ahead: Reimagining Mobility the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, presents a variety of concepts from around the world that ask the question: how will we move in the future? With concepts from firms like Höweler + Yoon, design studios like IDEO, and companies like Waymo, the exhibition suggests a range of possible futures instead of painting a holistic vision. Making the case that transportation options are multiplying as data and technology take to the roads (and tunnels, and skies), the show's organizers present a world on the cusp of transit change, change that could make cities not only more efficient but also a happier place for all their inhabitants. Hopefully. It's certainly a buzzy topic, given Elon Musk's constant parade of revelations and updates on his many ventures and self-driving cars taking to the street (at their own peril). Visitors to the show, up now through March 31, have just one obstacle in their way: the government shutdown. As part of the Smithson Institution, the museum is at the mercy of the federal government, which does not show any sign of ending its shutdown soon.
Placeholder Alt Text

Little Athens of America

Self-taught artist carefully recreates Philadelphia's notable buildings
The New York Outsider Art Fair, which displays "Self-Taught Art, Art Brut, and Outsider Art," will bring Kambel Smith's hand-made sculptures to the public for the first time. Smith, a self-taught artist, has carefully created models of major buildings of Philadelphia. The models, while highly detailed, are made from cardboard and other materials salvaged from the trash. Many of them are large, carefully constructed objects in their own right. According to the Outsider Art Fair, "[t]hese large-scale works now require more than half the family's home in Germantown, Pennsylvania, to store." The 27th New York Outsider Art Fair will take place January 17-20 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City.
Placeholder Alt Text

HOOPS, There It Is

National Building Museum will showcase basketball courts around the world
Just in time for March Madness, the National Building Museum is set to present a photo series documenting private and community basketball courts across the country and abroad. HOOPS, opening on March 9, 2019, will showcase the work of photographer Bill Bamberger and a selection of shots from his 14-year journey searching for one-of-a-kind courts. Each of Bamberger’s “court portraits” is devoid of people, allowing the viewer to focus on the court’s surrounding context and basketball’s enduring appeal no matter where the game is played. The large-format color photographs show scenes from Arizona to Appalachia, Mexico, and South Africa, and reveal the unique ways in which courts are designed and constructed to tell the story of a particular community. Bamberger began the series in 2004 and has since taken nearly 22,000 photographs of courts worldwide. “I never photographed the players, finding that the ‘place’ spoke loudly about its users,” he said in a statement. “I could easily imagine the players, and in some cases I met them. But more often in the stillness of the court—photographed in early morning or late afternoon light—I came to know a great deal about a community, its character, and values.” HOOPS will be on view at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., through January 5, 2020.