Snøhetta has been tapped to design a major expansion to the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska. As one of the city and state’s leading arts institutions, the new Joslyn will become a 21st-century cultural destination with increased gallery space, more public programming, and room for arts education opportunities. The Oslo- and New York-based firm will create a masterplan for the museum with a new building designed to “complement and enhance” the original structures on site: the Memorial Building, built in 1931, and the Walter and Suzanne Scott Pavilion, which was designed by Sir Norman Foster and completed in 1994. Craig Dykers, principal of Snøhetta, is proud to work on a project with such a deep cultural heritage that’s rooted in its geography. “Omaha’s place in the great landscape of the American West is a wonderful inspiration to us,” he said in a statement. “Together with Joslyn’s rich collections of art spanning the globe and its dynamic relationship with the communities that sustain it create a powerful platform to begin designing the next phase of its life, for future generations.” The addition of new galleries to the Museum will allow more room for its growing collections and give existing buildings the space to display art that they previously couldn't. This will include work from the museum's historic and contemporary Indigenous collections, which will be further supported by a newly appointed curator of Native American art. The Joslyn, which is free, has seen an increase in admission over the past decade. This expansion may help bring it even more into the global stage of 21st century art institutions.
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AN interviews six emerging designers to watch
Who are the names you need to know? Who are the designers to watch? These six up-and-coming talents in architecture and design should be on your radar. Alda Ly New York City Alda Ly likes a good piece of custom millwork. “I like to think about the purposefulness of each cut,” she says. Her namesake practice is built around a similar mission. “We’re pursuing end-user research to develop a more human-centered approach with our designs.” For Ly, both qualitative and quantitative data are imperative to design spaces that break the molds of conventional architectural programs. She designed the Wing’s private women-only professional clubs for flexibility, knowing that users might be recording a podcast on one day, and on another, working solo on their laptops. In this way, she sees herself beholden not only to the client, but also to the client’s stakeholders. Ly has made a name for herself by designing shared spaces, from incubators to offices and apartments. Most recently, the firm designed Bulletin, a store merchandising products from female-led brands that features a social area and a venue for live programming. “There are an infinite amount of situations you have to plan for, but a key point is knowing how to make people feel comfortable.” –Jordan Hruska Brian Thoreen LA/Mexico City “I didn’t really know what I was doing,” said Brian Thoreen. Reflecting on the first show where he unveiled his namesake furniture company at the Sight Unseen outpost during Collective Design in 2015, he admitted: “I was thrown in the deep end—I didn’t even know how to price the pieces.” Since then, Thoreen has gone on to show his works several times at Design Miami, create custom commissions, and be the subject of the first solo exhibit at Patrick Parrish. All of this was born out of his new focus on furniture and a recent move to Mexico City—both of which he was able to fully commit to after leaving his L.A.-based architecture practice, Thoreen+Ritter. In the context of “being somewhere else,” Thoreen now finds himself collaborating with local artists, including Hector Esrawe and Emiliano Godoy on a sculptural series of metal furnishings accentuated by hand-blown amorphous orbs of glass. The material will continue to be at the heart of his future work in a new studio, which he formed with Esrawe and Godoy to continue to collaborate their collaboration on glass and metal projects. As for his own studio, Thoreen also plans to design installations, spaces, and architecture where he can continue work with local artists. –Gabrielle Golenda CAMESgibson Chicago CAMESgibson is a Chicago-based partnership between Grant Gibson and the fictitious late T.E. Cames. Gibson, also a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Architecture, works at multiple scales, from small residential rehabs to a popular community arts center. The practice is not limited to conventional built work. Some of the office’s exhibition work includes a 20-foot-tall quilted column installed in the Graham Foundation foyer and a skyscraper design in collaboration with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill at the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial. In each of its projects, a playful sensibility fills spaces with color and soft forms. A recent project involved converting a laundry room into a cool ethereal lounge for the UIC basketball team. Deep blue tones and carefully controlled lighting brand the space instead of the typical kitschy, logo-laden locker rooms of most teams. It is this approach to cleverly transforming spaces, whether they are institutional or private, that sets CAMESgibson apart from the average small practice. –Matthew Messner Material Lust New York City Partners in life and partners in practice, Lauren Larson and Christian Lopez Swafford are indifferent to mass production timelines and trends. Together, they work with artisans to conjure otherworldly objects that cross the boundary between sculpture and decorative art, producing a series of furniture with true grit. Known as Material Lust, their Lower East Side-based company was officially established in 2014 but began long before that. It has been producing works that reflect the historical context of design, including the Alchemy Altar Candelabra inspired by pagan and alchemical symbolism; and the Fictional Furniture Collection of gender-neutral, monochromatic children’s furniture inspired by surrealism. Now the pair is venturing into lighting with their new sister company, Orphan Work. As the story goes, it began when they found lost designs from the Material Lust archive and after they visited Venice’s Olivetti Shop, by Carlo Scarpa. The result? A collection that is somewhere between Scarpa’s richly layered forms and the couple’s unapologetically “metal” aesthetic, with nods to both the musical genre and the material itself. –GG MILLIØNS Los Angeles Los Angeles–based MILLIØNS dubs itself an “experimental architectural practice” that liberally explores space-making as a “speculative medium” that can be manifested in any number of objects, structures, or experiences. Founded by Zeina Koreitem and John May, the growing practice recently designed a communal wash basin that aims to reintroduce shared social interactions into the act of bathing for an exhibition at Friedman Benda gallery in New York City. In the show, a 3-D printed mass reveals itself as a fluted drum containing a sink and a slender, brass spigot that is approachable from all sides. Though better known for writing heady treatises and engineering glitchy, digital media works that use televisions and closed-circuit cameras to create new spatial dimensions, MILLIØNS has some more grounded works on the way. A forthcoming, Graham Foundation–supported exhibition designed and curated by the duo that aims to revitalize the experimental spirit of modernist housing, for example, is headed to L.A.’s A+D Museum early next year. MILLIØNS also has several brick-and-mortar projects on the way, including a retail storefront in Manhattan and a lake house in upstate New York. –Antonio Pacheco Savvy Studio NYC/Mexico City Savvy Studio, an interiors and branding firm with offices in New York City and Mexico City, has been busy this summer with an array of projects popping up in New York. It has just launched a Tribeca seafood restaurant (A Summer Day Cafe) which features a beachy interior with light woods, primary-colored metal accents, and of course, nautical stripes. The studio also redesigned Alphabet City mainstay Mast Books using plywood to elevate the space, making it a “gallery of books, rather than simply another bookstore.” And by combining interior architecture with visuals befitting a fashion campaign, Savvy Studio developed branding language, communications, and interiors of the rental offices and showrooms for the Mercedes House, a Hell’s Kitchen luxury condo designed by TEN Arquitectos. Founder and creative director Rafael Prieto points out that there are “no specific boundaries” between branding and interior design. “The reason we do both is based on our interest in creating and designing experiences, and being able to make an impact in every interaction.” For Savvy Studio, their multifaceted practice is about making sure each space or branded element is simultaneously “emotional, aesthetic, and functional.” –Drew Zieba
Since 2003, Open House New York Weekend has offered an open platform for New Yorkers to discuss and discover the architecture and public space of the city and to get involved in shaping its future. This past weekend, coinciding with Archtober, OHNY held events across the city’s five boroughs that engaged New York’s denizens with the architectural past, present, and future. AN has rounded up a few of our favorite sites for those who didn’t make it out. Bronx Community College: Marcel Breuer Buildings At the Bronx Community College (what was then part of NYU), the legendary modernist icon Marcel Breuer built five buildings, mostly in his signature concrete, over the course of just more than a decade. African Burial Ground National Monument The solemn, curving African Burial Ground National Monument, designed by Rodney Leon, was built in 2007 to commemorate the nearly 15,000 people of African descent, both enslaved and free, that were buried in Lower Manhattan from the early 17th century to the late 18th century. Nevelson Chapel at Saint Peter’s Church A relatively little-known Midtown chapel is also a pilgrimage site for art enthusiasts. One of the 20th century’s most important figures in sculpture, Louise Nevelson, created an installation for this chapel in Saint Peter’s Church, which was designed by Hugh Stubbins and Easley Hamner with interiors by Lella and Massimo Vignelli. Originally opened in 1977, the Nevelson Chapel is currently undergoing a major restoration. Brooklyn Army Terminal The now-defunct, massive Brooklyn Army Terminal has become a sort of landmark for its unusual atrium, featuring abandoned railway tracks and a balcony-punctuated facade, perhaps reminiscent of an austere version of a John Portman interior. The 95-acre complex was designed by Cass Gilbert in 1919. City College of New York: Solar RoofPod & Harlem Garden for Urban Food At The Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at City College is an 800-square-foot, net-plus-energy experiment in green urban energy production, adjoined by a rooftop garden for research in sustainable food production. 17th and 18th century houses in Queens and Brooklyn Across Queens are some of New York City’s earliest surviving structures including the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House (1709) in Ridgewood, as well as the Bowne House (c. 1660) and the Queens Historical Society at Kingsland Homestead (1774–1785) in Flushing. Also on the list was New York’s oldest surviving building: the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum (1652). OHNY also featured several special series and days, including Factory Friday, which opened up fabrication studios to the public. Works by Women, a list of projects built by women and designed by women-led firms, like Deborah Berke Partners, Selldorf Architects, and Architecture Research Office, were also available to explore, as well open studios with firms across the city.
15 Years of The Architect's Newspaper
A brief history of architecture in the 21st century
To celebrate our 15th anniversary, we looked back through the archives for our favorite moments since we started. We found stories that aged well (and some that didn’t), as well as a wide range of interviews, editorials, and other articles that we feel contributed to the broader conversation. We also took a closer look at the most memorable tributes to those we lost, and heard from editors past and present about their time here. Check out this history of architecture in the 21st century through the headlines of The Architect's Newspaper:
2003Protest: Michael Sorkin on Ground Zero
Saarinen’s TWA terminal proposed to be Kunsthalle
Philip Johnson retires
Who benefits at WTC?
After Koolhaas and before Piano, Richard Gluckman proposes Whitney addition
Emerging Voices, Class of 2004
Storefront makes an offer to Anselm Franke
Rem Koolhaas and Hani Rashid in conversation
Cataloging new skyscrapers in California
MoMA hires Andres Lepik to architecture department
Gwendolyn Wright interviews Shaun Donovan
Rethinking New York’s coastal infrastructure
Governors Island landscape team chosen
Contractor still working after deadly accident at Trump SoHo
Jean Nouvel wins Pritzker Prize
MoMA neighbors speak out against Nouvel/Hines Tower at LPC
Q&A: Allan Wexler
“Mike’s Angels” Q&A: Janette Sadik-Khan, Amanda Burden, Adrian Benepe
Q&A: Joe Mizzi
SHoP launches a business
Oslo Opera House opens
Scaffolding competition seeks solutions
Q&A: John Portman
Q&A: William Stout
Pictorial: Ken Smith’s tree stumps
Former Trump hotel by Graves is painted white by new owner
Making waves at MAS
Open: Wes Anderson's Bar Luce at Prada Foundation
The history of Richard Neutra’s Avion Village community
50 Years of Watergate
Assemble wins the 2015 Turner Prize
Reverse Commute: Chinese architects in the U.S. and Europe
Crit: AIA Convention (“No more weird architecture in Philadelphia”)
Crit: Spring Street Salt Shed (“In praise of the urban object”)
How institutionalized racism and housing policy segregated our cities
Chinatown residents protest de Blasio rezoning
Roche-Dinkeloo’s Ambassador Grille receives landmark designation
Q&A: Jorge Otero-Pailos: Why the Met Breuer matters
Comment: Ronald Rael on the realities of the U.S.-Mexico border
Detroit Zoo penguin habitat opens
Chicago battles to keep Lucas Museum of Narrative Art from moving
Martino Stierli on the redesign of MoMA’s A+D galleries
WTC Oculus opens
Letter: Phyllis Lambert pleads for Four Seasons preservation
Q&A: Mabel Wilson
#NotmyAIA: Protests erupt over AIA's support of Trump
Snøhetta’s addition to SFMoMA opens
DS+R’s Vagelos Education Center opens
Baltimore’s Brutalist McKeldin Fountain pulverized
Actor Terry Crews is now a promising young designer
Architects design prototypes for Hyperloops
Never Built New York brings unrealized architecture to life
Seasteaders to bring a libertarian floating community to the South Pacific
Crit: Five fundamental problems with the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial
Jimmy Buffett–themed retirement communities in South Carolina and Florida
Will Jacksonville be a post-climate-change megacity?
Q&A: Henry Urbach on curating architecture, the Glass House, and what’s next
The architecture of addiction
Q&A: Pablo Escobar’s son is a good architect now
AGENCY's Border Dispatches: Reporting from the U.S.-Mexico Boundary
Learning from Baltimore’s approach to Confederate monuments
The 50th anniversary of the Milwaukee housing marchesThank you to USModernist Library, an online archive of architectural publications, for their help in putting this web feature together.
San Fran's Millennium Tower is sinking
Amid protests, AT&T building landmarked
Trump brings back asbestos and AN becomes a meme
Eva Franch i Gilabert selected as new director of Architectural Association
Richard Meier’s #MeToo reckoning
New York City's Institute for Public Architecture (IPA) will celebrate its 6th annual Fall Fête on October 24 at the Plaxall Art Gallery in Long Island City, Queens. The benefit will honor Margaret Newman, FAIA, principal at Arup Planning, and the Queens Museum. Janette Sadik-Khan, former commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, and Bevin Savage-Yamazaki, senior associate at Gensler will give introductory remarks. The IPA describes its mission by saying, "We address urgent issues of design and policy by mobilizing our network of activists, professionals, government officials, and community stakeholders." In a statement, they said that the fundraiser will help fund its residency program and expansion of the organization's activities beyond New York City.
Tickets for the event are available here.
It isn’t often that one has the chance to perform in a world premiere. I’ve performed in a few during my forty years as an avocational singer, but never anything like the Mile Long Opera (MLO), which ran in New York City from October 2 to 8, 2018. Because I am also an architect, performing as a singer and actor in the MLO was a special privilege. I was able to see both the dramatic material and the urbanistic setting from an insider’s point of view. I am convinced that David Lang, Liz Diller, Claudia Rankine, Anne Carson, and the producers of MLO created a modern masterpiece. With the rather enigmatic subtitle, “A Biography of Seven O’Clock,” the MLO’s hype suggested that audience members would get a taste, maybe a big gulp, of what makes New York City so extraordinary, and also so ordinary. The first surprise was that they delivered on that promise. By using choirs from throughout the city’s five boroughs, some professional and/or small, others amateur and/or large, the creative team assembled a cast that resonated with just about everyone. Sprinkling some professional opera singers among the throng of ordinary folks provided just enough weight to please the likes of Renée Fleming, who attended a performance in mid-week, and other cognoscenti. It would have been easy to lose the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural flavor of so many New York singers strung single file along a narrow, mile-and-a-half walkway, especially in the evening hours under varied lighting conditions. Here, the production designers earned their stripes by developing several masterful costume and lighting conceits. The most effective was the duck-like baseball cap worn by the majority of us, which bathed the face in a soft, ethereal aurora. Audience members described the effect of the floating faces as dreamlike—we were instructed to wear only dark so our faces would stand out. By lighting the faces of each performer, MLO designers brought both the wonderful variety and the individuality of New York’s inhabitants into focus on the High Line. As the audience walked by, each singer or speaker could touch passing strangers with a look or an expression, while also declaiming their portions of the libretto (some of it in Spanish). I can say that for me, those brief glances from listeners were unforgettable. I thought of the paintings on the wall of a museum gazing out at amazed art lovers—Magritte would be jealous. Was there music in this opera? Yes and no. David Lang, of Bang on a Can fame, has explored sound in just about every possible way during a long career. Thus one would hardly have expected a conventional piece of musical theater, and indeed those of us singing and speaking our parts were initially rather confused by what we heard. There were no chords, no apparent melody, no key signatures, and apparently no “leitmotifs” to provide a map of the work. Even the first rehearsals were puzzling—where would we stand in relation to our fellow choir members? Was there an alto or bass part? All we knew was that this was a piece for voices and that we would be singing without amplification. There were big risks involved in putting singers of varying abilities out in the midst of a bustling urban environment. How could anyone but an operatic diva be heard above the street noise? When I looked at the first robot camera footage of the “cells” (individual areas with specific parts of the libretto and music) that were posted by the sponsor, Target, I was concerned that many voices were not coming through the texture. After performing for a couple of nights I realized what I had missed, and why our composer had written such unusual “music.” This was an immersive experience. Even more important than seeing the piece on the High Line was listening to every voice along the way. Lang gave the audience an active part in the drama as it unfolded before them. You really had to “lean in” to get the full intellectual and sensory power of the narrative. By lighting the faces of each performer, or group of performers, Lang and his collaborators invited the audience to parse the threads of text, sound, and light, both momentary and temporally continuous. The music and libretto established a repeating theme, marked by phrases and distinctive vocal riffs, that would eventually make sense in the context of a moving, walking perceptual gestalt. There was, first of all, the recurrence of the dining table in the spoken narrative. I did not realize how my version of this little “recollection” would strike audience members as they heard me say “Between us, I love my dining room table.” With a common memory, shared by so many of us, Claudia Rankine established an immediate frame of reference. In the music, themes of community, loss, loneliness, love, and deprivation played out in vignettes sung by recognizable characters from the city: a Vietnamese nail salon technician, a construction worker, an eight-year-old walking with his aunt, lovers at the movies, a hotel maid, a window washer. One thousand voices, each distinct, would finally create a “cloud” of meaning, at least in theory. Before each performance, we heard our directors describe the “miracle” that was occurring each night. Press notices were positive, but it was the audience that gave us the best feedback on the piece. They were spellbound, amazed, and entirely engaged. Friends invariably would ask if tickets were available—they had heard the hype. Alas, anyone who failed to get a pass would miss one of the cultural events of the new century. I thought of how pissed I was to have missed Einstein On The Beach. It was like you had to see MLO in order to be a hip New Yorker in 2018, at least among choral geeks. For architects, the allure was just as strong. The tapestry sound would not have been so striking without the incredible setting of the High Line. One should always mention James Corner and the community activists who fought to save the elevated tracks from Gansevoort to 34th Street, because this was adaptive re-use at its best. Architect Liz Diller and her staff saw the potential of the linear park as a performance space and helped to design the enhancements to the setting that made the piece ring so beautifully, in a visual sense. Indeed, it was the synesthetic character of the Mile Long Opera that I believe signaled its importance as a new kind of performance piece. The Mile Long Opera was an intense distillation of the things that make New York the greatest city in the world. It brought us the city of the imagination, the city of technology, the city of skyscrapers, the city of world theater, the city of music, the city of strangers, the city of magic, the city of poverty, the city of transport, the city of wealth, and above all the place that we call New York. At the end of the performance, Anne Carson’s poetry captured everything in a few trenchant, Whitmanesque lines: “Whatever can happen in a city can happen in this city, whatever can happen to anyone can happen to us. Onward rolls the bright current.”
$1.7 billion Gadget
London dispatch: Bloomberg HQ should not have won this year's RIBA Stirling Prize
This week, Foster + Partners’ Bloomberg European headquarters in London picked up the 2018 RIBA Stirling Prize, an award ostensibly given to the best building in the U.K., marking the third time Norman Foster's firm has won the award. But was it actually the best piece of architecture on the shortlist of six projects? No. Let me start off by saying that the Bloomberg headquarters is by no means a bad building. The judging panel, chaired by Sir David Adjaye, was right to say the project “pushed the boundaries of research and innovation in architecture." They added in a statement: “Bloomberg has opened up new spaces to sit and breathe in the City,” and went on to laud “the visceral impact of the roof-top view across to St Paul’s from the concourse space,” the office’s helix ramp and its “dynamic new workspaces.” However, all of these listed items of praise are merely examples of pricey green gadgetry and fancy add-ons. While good in their own right, they have not come together well enough to form an exemplary piece of architecture worthy of winning the RIBA Stirling Prize. Inside, amid the myriad of seating, the scheme feels like a glitzy airport at times with stock markets being displayed on screens emulating departure boards. Views out are also hard to come by, besides one panorama of St Paul’s and a vista of the city reserved for Bloomberg's higher-ups as they dine. The Bloomberg HQ may have also carved a new thoroughfare through this part of London, but it’s hardly space to breathe. The public feels somewhat ushered through the massive slabs of sandstone by undulating bronze fins that dominate the facade, being employed further up to aid air circulation and shun views out in the process. The only spaces where you don’t have to be a paying patron at an establishment to sit are two benches at the site’s southern corner, both of which have seating dividers to prevent rough sleepers. Poor people it seems shouldn’t be allowed to rest when in the presence of a $1.7 billion building. And that’s the project’s biggest issue: money. “Some people say the reason it took almost a decade to build this is because we had a billionaire who wanted to be an architect working with an architect who wanted to be a billionaire,” said former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg at his building’s unveiling. Norman Foster is the U.K.’s wealthiest architect. This year, partners at his firm shared $30.4 million between them, a 43 percent increase on last year despite a downturn in profits and turnover with the company having to lose staff in the process. As critic Oliver Wainwright noted in a tweet, Foster's 'non-resident in the UK for tax purposes' status prevented him from even picking up the award in person. What does all this say about architects and the profession? That to design a good building you must find a client with apparently limitless pockets? That as an architect it is more important to be obscenely wealthy over everything else? Bloomberg’s London HQ is a far cry from last year’s winner, dRMM’s Hastings Pier, which exemplified civic architecture at its best. That delightful scheme made extensive use of timber salvaged from a fire that burned down the previous pier. It was truly a community project. dRMM held close consultations with the public and the charity funding it, and the pier was built for the public of Hastings (and those visiting, of course). There were far better examples of architecture on this year’s Stirling Prize shortlist too. Take Waugh Thistleton Architects’ Bushey Cemetery for example. Using walls of rammed earth sourced from the site it rests on, the project demonstrates genuine material innovation and manages to convey a sense of weight and be delicate at the same time. Bloomberg, meanwhile, shipped in 600 tons of bronze from Japan and granite from India, and despite the similar earthy tones, feels dauntingly heavy. An example of working wonders when on a budget was also shortlisted: Storey's Field Centre and Eddington Nursery in Cambridge by MUMA. Like Hastings Pier, this was a celebration of civic architecture, with a community center and kindergarten surrounding a landscaped courtyard. “By building at a lower height than approved at planning…Bloomberg shows a high level of generosity towards the City,” the judges commented. In light of this, Jamie Fobert Architects’ Tate St Ives was arguably more adept at concealing space. Buried underground, yet still allowing bucket loads of light in, the museum has somehow doubled in size. It’s a remarkable piece of architectural contortion that keeps locals and the museum happy. Another shortlisted project, Níall McLaughlin Architects’ Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre for the University of Oxford, like the two aforementioned projects, articulated light in spectacular fashion. The project provided a lecture theater, a student learning space, seminar rooms, and a dance studio of immense quality and leads by example the quality of spaces students deserve. London studio Henley Halebrown’s Chadwick Hall student accommodation for the University of Roehampton, the final project on the list, did the same. A win for the project could have sent a message about what the standard of student housing in the U.K. should be. The majority of current student housing stock is dire. With space standards for student housing thrown out of the window due to it being temporary accommodation, the area has become a safe bet for investors looking to cram as many units in for a guaranteed profit. A message, in fact, was sent, coming in explicit form from RIBA President Ben Derbyshire. “This building is a profound expression of confidence in British architecture—and perfectly illustrates why the U.K. is the profession’s global capital,” he said in a statement. “This role and reputation must be maintained, despite the political uncertainty of Brexit.” This, however, feels like a lazy excuse to award a project the Stirling Prize. Defaulting to listing “Brexit” as a reason should not be in the criteria. Neither should sustainability, a high standard of which should be a baseline for all shortlisted projects. Let BREEAM (the U.K. equivalent of LEED) deal with recognizing that. The RIBA Stirling Prize doesn’t have to send any message, though. It just has to recognize the best building, and this it has not done.
The New York Film Festival features architecture on the big screen
The 56th New York Film Festival, running from September 28–October 14, features several films where architecture plays a starring role. The architecture cameos are numerous. Orson Welles’s until-now-unfinished film The Other Side of the Wind features a hillside mansion in Carefree, Arizona, that is down the street from the Paolo Soleri–designed house used in Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point (1970). The laboratory in Diamantino uses multiple locations: the 2011 Alcantara Wastewater Treatment Plant in Lisbon by Aires Mateus, Frederico Valsassina, and João Nunes, the 1926 Lisbon Greenhouse by Raul Carapinha, and the 18th-century Palacio do Correio Mor designed António Canevari. The 2007 Museum of Civilisations from Europe and the Mediterranean by Rudy Ricciotti appears in Transit. The commissioning of Blenheim Palace by Queen Anne for Sarah Churchill is a plot point in The Favourite. A lonely one-story bank building on the open prairie features in an episode of the Coen Brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. One character burns down and another monitors greenhouses in Burning. Octogenarian Manfred Kirchheimer’s latest film, Dream of a City, is culled from lush footage taken over 60 years in New York, his adopted hometown after fleeing Nazi Germany. Among his other films are Stations of the Elevated, Bridge High, and Tall: The American Skyscraper and Louis Sullivan. In one sequence from Dream, structures are seen in abstract compositions, like a Franz Kline painting. Streetlife scenes feature kids on stoops, old ladies in windows, housewives on fire escapes, the digging up of sidewalks to plant trees, and the wheeling of a bass violin on a crowded street, accompanied by clever music choices. Sinatra’s It Had to be You plays against a building where every window sports the letter “U.” Gropius Memory Palace by Ben Thorp Brown uses the architect's 1911 Fagus Factory as an exploration of psychoanalytic space and means of recollection. Shot in the Gropius building and using contemporary photographs by Albert Renger-Patzsch featuring the building's glass curtain wall and yellow brick structure, the film explores the building through exercises including breathing and words from a hypnotherapist. In From Its Mouth Came a River of High-End Residential Appliances viewers experience a drone's-eye view flying through super-skyscraper apartment buildings in Hong Kong that have cutouts in their centers for mythological dragons to pass through that have been formulated by feng shui practitioners. Every time the camera clears an aperture, a bell rings. Musical instrument maker Rick Kelly, the proprietor of Carmine Street Guitars, uses wood salvaged, purchased, or dumpster-dived from New York City buildings. His preferred materials give a particular resonance to the guitars. McSorley’s Old Ale House, Chumley’s speakeasy at 86 Bedford Street, Trinity Church, and the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral are just some of the sources, which are labeled and often engraved on the guitars. Kelly says it’s using the “bones of old New York” while Lenny Kaye, Patti Smith’s guitarist, says strumming these instruments is “like playing a piece of New York.” As guitarists like Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot, Nels Cline (Wilco), Kirk Douglas (The Roots), Christine Bougie (Bahamas), Charlie Sexton (Bob Dylan), actress Eszter Balint, and filmmaker Jim Jarmusch visit to try out the guitars, Kelly’s apprentice photographs #guitarporn. Kelly has been making guitars since the late 1970s, and in this West Village location since 1990 (it’s next door to where Jackson Pollock lived), but the threat of gentrification looms. A Colombian drug lord creates a fictional, extravagant mansion from the 1980s nighttime TV soap opera Dynasty in Labyrinth. Although the house is now in ruins, the film intercuts the television program with images of a lavish Latin American lifestyle. Trees Down Here examines Cambridge University’s Cowan Court, a 2016 building by 6a Architects at Churchill College that uses oak and birch in contrast to the original Brutalist 1960s buildings by Richard Sheppard. Plans, models, archival footage, owls, snakes, and swaying trees are set to the music of John Cage and a poem by John Ashbery. The film premiered at the Venice Architecture Biennale.
Remembering engineer Robert Silman, 1935-2018
“Hidden in plain sight,” describes the legacy of the beloved structural engineer, Robert Silman, who died at age 83 on July 31. The great landmarks he renewed, along with the new ones he realized, prove this point, from Carnegie Hall, the Guggenheim Museum, and Fallingwater to the Polshek Partnership’s Weill Recital Hall, Renzo Piano’s Whitney Museum, and Freelon Adjaye Bond’s National Museum of African American History & Culture. Working until just a few weeks before losing his long battle with cancer, Silman communicated through intuitive problem solving, enriched by a lifelong curiosity about the creative intent of his colleagues as well as his forebears, whose accomplishments could only stand with his benevolent intervention. His engineering always deferred to the original intent of the architects he worked with, either in person or posthumously. Mr. Silman’s career as practitioner, educator, and advocate inspired thousands of students and young professionals across two generations and set a standard of engineering excellence that merged scientific knowledge with social need. What distinguished Silman, especially in the realm of preservation architecture, was a determination to go beyond the mandated assumptions of stability and safety by introducing an innovative elegance marrying new technologies with historic form. His solutions attest to a poetry of invisibility—a symbiosis of means and methods that defined new possibilities and set professional precedents. Right to the last, he taught a course at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design called “The Philosophy of Technology,” imbuing a spirit of inquiry best sustained by a broad cultural awareness and willingness to innovate in the face of restrictive axioms. When at Silman's urging, architect Annabelle Radcliffe-Trenner was brought on as a young consultant by the Hillier Group in 1996 to renovate the notoriously complex, leaky roof of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Racine, Wisconsin, Wingspread, she describes it as a time when “shoving in steel” was the common engineering contingency. Silman instead “turned to the nascent art of computer modeling, using data from an exacting load analysis to solve the problem in a bold new way.” Instead of ill-suited roofers, boat builders banded sheets of carbon fiber, used before then only on ships and jets, around the replacement roof. She added, “He made connections between both people and ideas with a generosity of spirit that inspired all of us working alongside [him]. As with so many others, he set my career in motion and did so at a time when opportunities for women practitioners were still limited.” After studying architecture at Cornell and at NYU graduate school, Silman worked entry-level jobs at Ammann & Whitney, Ove Arup & Partners, and Severud Associates before founding his namesake firm in 1966, a year after the passage of New York’s landmarks law. Jobs on early preservation efforts that were too small for big competitors led to a lifetime of civic engagement and advocacy, even at times when such work might be at odds with the more lucrative prospects of demolition and new construction. Just two years later, the 1968 advent of Beyer Blinder Belle spawned a bond, now in its 50th year. Jack Beyer conveys his loss: “We called ourselves the ‘Four Brothers,’ as Bob demonstrated from the start his peerless skill at weaving strict systems into the historic fabric of landmark buildings. Thanks to his conceptual thinking and capacity to listen even to those with little of use to say, he was never intimidated by existing conditions.” Beyer continued, “Bob and I served as volunteer advisers to the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust, where he figured out how to rebuild and seismically stabilize its great 16th-century wooden pagoda temples. Without reimagining their un-mortared brick foundations, any aboveground restoration work would have failed. His impact was global.” Anthony C. Wood, founder and chair of the New York Preservation Archive Project, recalled, “Whenever preservationists were confronted with a building that opponents said was too far gone to save, the ‘go to’ person to call for structural help was Bob Silman. Generously responding to such calls, he could work his magic to find a way to save the day.” For 11-year Silman Associate Justin Den Herder, “Bob reinforced the importance of all the arts. He was a design-minded collaborator because he was genuinely in love with architecture. He was an effective communicator because he was passionate about literature. He even kept a poster of Gustav Mahler over his desk that likely informed his work at Carnegie Hall, where the German maestro conducted his final concert in 1911 just a few months before his death. No doubt Mahler approved the results of Bob’s graceful hand.”
New York City’s Storefront for Art and Architecture has a new executive director and chief curator, and it is writer and curator José Esparza Chong Cuy. Esparza will be stepping down from his post as curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and will take over from Storefront’s interim director Jinny Khanduja (who will serve as deputy director) come November 1, 2018. Esparza’s selection follows a summer-long search after Storefront’s previous director, Eva Franch i Gilabert, decamped for London earlier this year to lead the Architectural Association. Franch’s eight-year tenure at Storefront saw the nonprofit organization dramatically expand its fundraising activities, programming, lectures, and the variety of its shows (Full disclosure: The Architect’s Newspaper’s editor-in-chief William Menking serves on Storefront’s board). AN spoke with Esparza on what led him to Storefront, his history with architecture and art, and what’s next for the well-known New York institution now that he’s at its head. Esparza, who grew up in Mexicali and studied architecture in Guadalajara—a city deeply influenced by the legacy of modernist legends like Luis Barragán—was hugely marked by the city’s formalist approach to architectural practice at the time he was studying. This eventually motivated his move to New York City in 2007, where he interned at Storefront and eventually became a curatorial associate under the tenure of former director Joseph Grima. That experience in his early years, according to Esparza, is what gave him a “completely different sense of the practice, both the limits and the possibilities.” A research fellowship at the nearby New Museum, his time spent writing for Domus, and the Master of Science he received in Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices in Architecture from Columbia University in 2012, helped expose Esparza to what he described as a radical new type of energy for the profession. In 2013, Esparza co-curated the Lisbon Architecture Triennale and commissioned work by Frida Escobedo and Andrés Jaque, including Escobedo’s tilting civic stage and Jaque’s Superpowers of Ten. He attributed the experimental ideas he wanted to bring to the Triennale as stemming from his time at Storefront and the organization’s history. So, what’s next for Storefront? In discussing the organization’s future, Esparza was sure to mention the “revolutionary” moment in the 1970s and '80s where museums of contemporary culture sprung up one after another to exhibit work that wasn’t being shown anywhere else. The Studio Museum in Harlem was founded in 1968, El Museo del Barrio in 1969, the New Museum in 1977; Esparza explicitly connected the spirit of that moment to the existence of Storefront (founded in 1982). “I think there is a huge opportunity in the flexibility that a small organization allows. I think it’s a really rare case in the landscape of cultural institutions, not just because it operates at the intersection of art and architecture, but also because it’s preserved its alternative voice. This might be one of the few remaining alternative spaces. “I want to design a strong exhibition-based program that builds on itself, so that somehow, one after another, it unfolds this broader message. I want it to build bridges between not only context and geography, but disciplines and audiences.” Esparza, who previously served as associate curator at Museo Jumex in Mexico City, mentioned that he would also like to expand Storefront’s programming beyond a regional scope to wherever groundbreaking work is occurring, “whether it’s in Chinatown or Caracas.” As the program unfolds, a message of what Storefront is working toward and what it stands for will, according to Esparza, become clear to the audience. Esparza stressed that he would look to bolster both Storefront’s experimental critical voice and its foundations, so that the institution could continue to flourish. “We are thrilled to welcome José to the helm of Storefront, the very institution where he began his curatorial career over a decade ago,” said Charles Renfro, president of Storefront’s board of directors. “Since then, he has established himself as an innovative thinker working across disciplines in some of North America's most prestigious cultural institutions. “José’s rigor and insight will reinforce Storefront’s role as a crucial and necessary platform at the intersection of art and architecture. Through his background and experiences in Mexico, the U.S., and globally, he embodies the broad perspectives that Storefront has become known for, bringing a critical voice to contemporary issues at every scale—from local and regional to national and international. We are excited to have him lead the vision for Storefront’s future.”
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Landmark exhibit explores the rise of hip-hop architecture
The Center for Architecture’s latest exhibition in New York City, Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture, combines 20 years of research on a movement that’s barely been covered before and is at the cusp of exploding. Hip-hop architecture, the movement on view, could become the next big design style despite historically being a lesser-known development compared to the global impact of hip-hop culture on music, film, and dance industries. By tackling issues such as hip-hop's role in identity and placemaking, Syracuse University professor Sekou Cooke curated a special exhibition that details the theoretical and physical rise of hip-hop architecture in the built environment and how it can inform a more inclusive design practice for the future. Now showing in New York through January 12, this comprehensive exhibit unveils the work of 21 architects, professors, and students who have imagined architecture as a distinct part of hip-hop’s cultural expression. The show chronicles these figures through history, starting with the “godfather of hip-hop architecture,” Nate Williams, who completed his thesis on the subject at Cornell University in 1993. Also on display is the work of Boris “DELTA” Tellegen of Heren 5, artists Olalekan Jeyifous and Lauren Halsey, and more. Layered behind the images, drawings, and models in the show is extensive tagging done solely in black by pioneering graffiti artist David “Chino” Villorente. Complemented by graphic design from WeShouldDoItAll, the graffiti brings a visual punch to the Center’s main gallery spaces and transforms their walls into a medium for cultural commentary. Repurposed shipping containers painted white are bolted to the walls, providing another layer of backdrop for the framed artwork. Not only is the exhibit eye candy for visitors and passersby, it also includes audio and video components of lectures, podcasts, and hip-hop music reflecting on the built environment. At Monday’s opening reception, Barry Bergdoll, the new board president of the Center, called Close to the Edge a “landmark exhibition” for the movement of hip-hop architecture and compared it to Philip Johnson’s seminal Modern Architecture International Exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1932. That exhibition drew wide praise and helped usher in the International Style in the United States—something similar to what Cooke and his team hopes will come out of this effort. The Center will host the Hip-Hop Architecture Symposium on Saturday, October 6 from 1 to 6 p.m., moderated by Cooke, as well as a workshop with BlackSpace that will explore architecture as a tool for Black cultural preservation.
Missed some of our articles, tweets, or Facebook posts from the last few days? Don’t sweat it—we’ve gathered the week’s must-read stories right here. Enjoy! AN tours the Glenstone Museum's new Pavilions AN toured the $200-million addition to the Glenstone Museum, a new set of galleries and an additional 130 acres of restored natural woodlands in the suburbs outside of Washington, D.C. After a decade-long fight over I-81, Syracuse inches toward a decision As the battle to run Interstate 81 through the heart of downtown Syracuse drags on, community groups and the state's department of transportation are all jockeying for solutions that won't disrupt the city. Opinion: It’s time to recognize Pereira’s LA Times building The current proposal to bisect the Los Angeles Times’ buildings facing City Hall on First Street would delete a key chapter from the city’s collective memory. That's it! Enjoy the end of September.