Free and open to the public, the Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation on Lower Manhattan’s Eldridge Street will open to the public on September 15 and 16. The art space is housed in a former synagogue where Resnick (1917-2004) lived and worked, while his wife Passlof (1928-2011) had her own converted synagogue one block over on Forsyth Street. Resnick was one of the original Abstract Expressionist painters and was close friends with Willem de Kooning, through whom he met his wife. Although the foundation is focused on their work, it will also present exhibitions of other artists, readings, performances, and lectures, and welcome scholars. The renovation by Ryall Sheridan Architects attempted to keep the spirit and openness of Resnick’s studio while bringing it up-to-date with such improvements as an elevator and modern-day climate-control. Whereas the original studio was dark and enveloping—it included a double-height space with bare brick walls, kept wide open for large-scale painting without furniture or lighting—the new Foundation is light and open. With blonde-and-gray slat wood floors, white walls, LED track lighting, slate-gray metal staircases, riveted Corten steel plates, exposed brick walls, white scrim blinds, wood joists, silver-handled door pulls, and Duravit sinks in the bathrooms, it has the animus of a Chelsea art gallery. The only traces of its ecclesiastical past are the tall windows in the double-height exhibition space on floors two and three (formerly the painting studio and before that the temple assembly), which are capped with round windows and three carved rosettes on the exterior’s top floor facade along with the inscription of the synagogue’s name and date. The building, originally a tenement, was purchased in 1888 and converted into Bnai Tifereth Yerushalayim (Sons of the Glory of Jerusalem) and the Mesivta Tifereth Yerushalayim. The congregation removed the third floor to create the tall sanctuary, and Resnick later removed the women’s balconies. In the 1960s, a Syrian Orthodox church bought the building, flipped it to the Lincoln African Methodist Episcopal Church, who then sold it to a developer, who converted it into a warehouse and later sold to Resnick in 1977. Passlof’s 1874 synagogue, which the couple purchased in 1963 for $20,000 when it was condemned, was home to Kol Israel Anshe Poland, which installed Gothic windows and fire escapes sporting Stars of David. Passlof’s Forsyth Street building was sold in 2012 for $6.4 million to fund the renovation of the Eldridge Street building. It can be viewed from the back windows of the Foundation, along with new skyscrapers ranging from One World Trade Center, the Herzog & de Meuron tower on Leonard Street, the Gehry Tower on Spruce Street, and a new hotel in Chinatown peeking above the skyline. In fact, the entire Lower East Side neighborhood is still filled with relatively small houses of worship on side streets: the Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue and Museum at 280 Broome Street for the Romaniote Jews of Greece, the Angel Orensanz Center at 172 Norfolk Street, Bialystoker Synagogue at 7 Willett Street, Congregation Sons of Moses at 135 Henry Street, Stanton Street Shul at 180 Stanton Street, Congregation Chasam Sopher at 10 Clinton Street, and the granddaddy of them all, the Eldridge Street Synagogue with Kiki Smith and Deborah Gans Rose Window at 12 Eldridge Street. Resnick was born in Ukraine, then part of Russia, the year of the Russian Revolution in 1917. His Jewish family emigrated to the U.S. in 1922, and he studied at the Hebrew Technical Institute in New York City with the intention of becoming an architect. Because the Depression stifled construction, he switched to Pratt for commercial art, then to the American Artists School for fine art. After working for the WPA Federal Art Project, he was drafted into the Army during World War II and studied in Paris afterward. There he met Giacometti, Brancusi, Tristan Tzara, and other art-world luminaries. On his return, he moved into a studio on East 8th Street, where de Kooning, Franz Kline, and Jackson Pollock worked. During the summer of 1948, he first met Passlof, a student of de Kooning’s, who told her Resnick was the individual he “respects more than any other.” The work in the inaugural display, Milton Resnick: Paintings 1937–1987, shows his paintings and drawings, ranging from colorful figurative works to large-scale monochromatic pieces. As he became infirm, Resnick confined himself to the third floor where he worked in a converted closet. This small studio has been preserved with paint splatters, images of Rasputin tacked to the walls, family photos, bas-reliefs of faces and animals, a Polaroid of a tree, Chinese sculpture, his own doodling, jars of paint, cans of brushes, bottles of ink, and a pair of rubber slippers.
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Architecture in the Aftermath
2001–2018: Looking at the architectural history of the World Trade Center
In the early aftermath of September 11, 2001, New York City showed incredible resilience as people banded together to support those who were affected by the tragedy. The fateful day's horrific events took thousands of lives with the collapse of the two tallest towers in the United States, leaving rubble and wreckage at Ground Zero. In an effort to reclaim the site as a powerful and beautiful place to work, gather, and reflect, an unprecedented wave of downtown development began 17 years ago. We've all watched the city build—from scratch—a new complex that doesn’t replace history, but strengthens it. The new World Trade Center stands today as a place of remembrance and as an architectural marvel of the early 21st century—one that was built at an extraordinarily aggressive schedule and isn’t done yet. With a master plan designed by Studio Libeskind, the 16-acre site includes a handful of office towers, cultural facilities, commercial spaces, and parkland all conceived by world-class architects working within the confines of a nationally significant property. One of the most-anticipated upcoming projects, a performing arts center by Brooklyn-based studio REX, is now under construction with an estimated completion date between 2020 and 2022. In honor of the anniversary of 9/11 and what’s to come for the booming site, here’s a look back at the history of the structures that now populate the grounds and the few that remain to be built. 7 World Trade Center Designed by SOM’s David Childs, this 52-story tower was the first completed building to open on the site in 2006. The award-winning structure was also the first office building in New York to be LEED Gold–certified. Its reflective skin features floor-to-ceiling glass panels that reflect the tone of the sky, allowing its westward-facing facade to seemingly disappear from sight. At night, LED installations line the base of the tower with text art from artist Jenny Holzer. 4 World Trade Center Finished in 2013, this Fumihiko Maki–designed office tower stands 72 stories tall with 140,000 square feet of retail on its first five floors. Home to Eataly, H&M, and Banana Republic, it’s part of the Westfield World Trade Center shopping mall, which extends into the adjacent transit hub designed by Santiago Calatrava. Maki and Associates’ minimalist design includes a glazed exterior with colored silver glass that achieves a metallic quality as the light changes throughout the day. The southwest and northeast corners are also drastically indented to provide views for the office space inside. National September 11 Memorial and Museum The 9/11 Memorial is the heart of the area's redevelopment. Conceived by Michael Arad and Peter Walker in 2003, the memorial design features two recessed pools set within the footprints of the original Twin Towers. These large black voids receive continuous streams of water, with the names of victims etched in the black stone’s edge. The National September 11 Memorial Museum, created by Davis Brody Bond in collaboration with Arad and Walker, houses the physical building blocks of the former WTC campus as well as found artifacts, written articles, and gathered anecdotes from the day of the attacks. Completed in 2014, the 110,000-square-foot museum features an above-ground glass pavilion designed by Snøhetta that welcomes visitors into a light-filled space before descending 70 feet below into the cavernous Foundation Hall, built around one of the original towers' retaining walls. One World Trade Center Designed by SOM’s David Childs, One WTC rises 1,776 feet to the top of the New York City skyline. The 104-story structure opened in spring 2014 with its first tenant, Condé Nast, moving in later that year. The iconic building's form is shaped by eight isosceles triangles that interlock in such a way that the floorplans, square at both top and bottom, are octagonal in the middle. The base of the structure features 2,000 pieces of prismatic glass that refract the changing light throughout the day. Oculus The $4-billion architectural object housing the revamped World Trade Center Transportation Hub features the winged design of Santiago Calatrava. Designed to resemble a bird in flight, the striking structure opened in May 2016 after years of construction delays and budget overruns. Now, it’s the site of the aforementioned Westfield Mall, situated inside a pristinely-white, soaring interior with a ribbed roof. Each year on September 11, the overhead window panels fully retract to reveal an open skylight that stretches the length of the building. The “Way of Light” annually shines through at 10:28 a.m. when the second tower fell. Liberty Park Designed by AECOM’s landscape studio, the 64,000-square-foot Liberty Park is set atop the World Trade Center’s vehicle screening center, providing unmatched views of the memorial and surrounding office complex. It opened in 2016 to rave reviews as the only public part of the site that’s easily walkable, providing a simple pedestrian pathway from east to west. The one-acre open space features ample seating, 19 planters, and a 300-foot-long green wall. Also situated within the park is the Calatrava-designed St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, currently under construction but stalled due to fundraising issues. 3 World Trade Center Richard Rogers’s design for 3 WTC was completed earlier this summer as the 1,079-foot tower welcomed its first tenants in June. Designed with a stepped profile, the tower’s corners are accentuated by stainless steel load-sharing trusses that allow for column-free interiors and unobstructed panoramic views of the city. The building also features a 5-story podium and three large-scale terraces. 2 World Trade Center Originally planned with a design by Norman Foster, 2 WTC is the last remaining tower to be built on the campus, now featuring a proposal by Bjarke Ingels Group. The 90-story tower will be made up of seven cuboid volumes stacked atop one another, allowing for green terraces within each setback. Currently, colorful murals wrap around the construction site of 2 WTC as well as the bottom of 3 WTC, showcasing the breadth of new creative talent that’s moved to the Financial District since the new campus opened. Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center Having broken ground just months ago on the northeast side of the WTC campus, the new REX-designed performing arts center will be housed within a translucent, marble-clad box. Through its thin exterior walls, daylight will seamlessly filter into the 90,000-square-foot structure while at night, the white-veined cuboid will serve as a beacon for the site. The building will be divided into three levels with performances spaces and back-of-house support areas. REX unveiled their design for the center in 2016 and construction is expected to be finished within the next two to four years.
Queens of the Future
Fellows at the Institute for Public Architecture reimagine the future of Queens
The Institute for Public Architecture has just finished its third biannual summer residency fellowship, Panorama of Possibilities: Queens, with final presentations having been held on August 22 at the Queens Museum in New York City. The 13 fellows, all mid-career architects and designers, have worked in seven groups to propose futures for a democratically-developed Flushing, Corona, and Willets Point. The night’s presentations began with a focus on sociological and interpersonal experiences of people’s homes and daily commutes. By the end, the presentations had moved towards a community-wide, cultural reworking of the public as an active stakeholder in its own parks, neighborhoods, and Business Improvement Districts (BIDs). The first group examined accessory dwelling units as a way to increase access to affordable housing by reimagining a structure that is already ubiquitous in Queens. The second group responded to the prompt, “I am willing to share ____ with ____,” to explore and question our understanding of the home and ways of introducing new models of multi-generational housing. The third group sought to challenge normative ways of urban design and created an interactive board game that allowed individuals to voice the changes they would like to see in their own neighborhoods. Another looked at the effects of development on specific opportunity zones and on children growing up in these communities. One fellow considered ways in which Flushing Meadows-Corona Park could be made more accessible and be better integrated into the community. Yet another investigated possible futures for Willets Point's automotive industry. Lastly, a group proposed a new vision for BIDs that would support multifaceted “cultural commerce” rather than just retail in order to support social service providers and small business owners of all kinds. There was an amazing turnout of architects, designers, community members, family, and friends in the audience. Those who had seen previous preliminary presentations remarked on the rigor and scope of each project and their tremendous development over the course of the six-week fellowship.
Check out these eight unmatched tennis courts from around the world
Tennis courts may be universally designed in the same way, but their topographic location can change the entire look and feel of playing the great game. In honor of the US Open, we’ve rounded up some of the world’s most architecturally impressive courts. From the ever-imaginative buildings within the United Arab Emirates to the secret spaces of Paris, these amazing athletic facilities placed in unbelievable settings feature inspired designs that date from present day, all the way back to the late 19th century. Take a scroll and let your sporty side roam around the globe with these ace spaces: The Couch, Amsterdam, The Netherlands The IJburg Tennis Club near Amsterdam houses 10 clay courts, a tennis school, and a temporary communal building with integrated rooftop seating designed by Dutch firm MVRDV. Acting as a giant piece of street furniture, the red-sprayed concrete structure features a curvaceous roof that dips down towards ground level on the south side, while the north side rises 23 feet high, allowing for bleacher-like seating overlooking the courts. The wood-clad interior boasts ample natural light thanks to wide glass that spans the front and south sides of the building. Burj Al Arab Tennis Court, Dubai, U.A.E. Twelve years ago, Andre Agassi and Roger Federer held an exhibition on the helipad of the Burj Al Arab, the third tallest hotel in the world. Designed by Tom Wright of WKK Architects, the structure stands like the sail of a ship at 1,053 feet tall. The helipad covers 4,467 square feet of space and a grass court was laid out across it for this one-time match. Since its completion, the site has been home to other iconic sports moments: Golfers Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy teed off of the helipad in separate years while Formula One racecar driver David Coulthard performed donuts on the surface in 2013. Dubai could also soon build the world’s first underwater tennis complex off its coast in the Persian Gulf, a vision by Polish architect Krzysztof Kotala, founder of 8+8 Studio. La Cavalerie Tennis Club, Paris Set on the sixth floor of an art deco building with an Aston Martin dealership at its base, this hidden tennis club sports weathered wood paneling and a dramatic, honeycomb-style arched roof. The building itself, designed by famous French architect R. Farradèche in 1924, includes a close-up view of the Eiffel Tower which can be seen from the balconies of the club. The hard court was established as a national monument in 1986 and features 1,400 pieces of wood that shape the parabolic interior design. Astor Courts, Rhinebeck, New York This private tennis pavilion is situated within the historic upstate guesthouse and casino of John Jacob Astor IV. Designed in 1902 by Stanford White, the indoor and outdoor sports complex included squash courts, a bowling alley, a shooting range, and an indoor swimming pool. It was designed in the style of the Grand Trianon, a château found at Versailles in France. After being purchased by its current owner in 2003 for over $3 million, PBDW Architects rehabilitated the 20,000-square-foot mansion where Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky were married in 2010. Infinity Court, Los Angeles, California Located at the John Lautner-designed Sheats-Goldstein House, this seemingly floating tennis court provides spectacular, sweeping views of Los Angeles. The house is currently owned by the colorful real estate investor, NBA lover, and fashion designer James Goldstein and was recently acquired by the L.A. County Museum of Art as its first-ever architectural acquisition. When Goldstein bought the property in 1972, he began working with Lautner on several updates and additions to the house. The on-site, infinity-edge court was designed atop a three-level entertainment complex built in collaboration with Lautner’s colleague. It features a glass partition barely visible from the other side of the outdoor space. Tennis Courts at the SLS Lux, Miami, Florida Arquitectonica’s design for the just-completed SLS Lux Brickell Hotel and Residences in South Beach includes a multi-use sports center atop the ninth floor of the 57-story tower. Tennis courts, a rock climbing wall, as well as spaces for volleyball, basketball, and more, allow the residents of the building’s 450 luxury condos, 12 penthouses, and 84 hotel rooms an opportunity for ample play. The base of the building features a colorful, 40,000-square-foot mural on its exterior by Fabian Burgos, a world-renowned Argentinian artist who creates optical designs for architecture. Vanderbilt Tennis and Fitness Club, New York City, New York Since the 1960s, a secret has existed within the walls of New York’s famed Grand Central Terminal: It houses a secluded tennis club. For over ten years, city dwellers could pay to play at the original Vanderbilt Athletic Club, founded by Hungarian athlete and refugee Geza Gazdag. The club housed two clay courts and a 65-foot indoor ski slope built on the third-floor Annex of the train depot. Since Gazdag was priced out of his lease, the coveted piece of real estate began a fraught history of ownership. Donald Trump took it over for three decades, turning it into an elite club for the city’s wealthiest tennis fans. Once his lease ran out in 2009, the space became a lounge for the Metropolitan Transit Authority and new courts were built on the fourth floor where current owner Anthony Scholnick manages the facility.
Happy Labor Day!
Weekend Edition: Tennis, crazy parties, and a funky museum
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! Amos Rex brings underground art and a lunar playscape to Helsinki The $64-million Amos Rex museum in Helsinki, Finland, recently opened. It was carried out by local Finnish firm JKMM and supported largely by Konstamfundet, the association behind the old Amos Rex Art Museum. It created a hilly public plaza with series of cavernous, skylit spaces below. NYCHA orgy rounds out disastrous summer for the public housing agency New York City papers reported this week that employees for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) have been having regular orgies in a Bronx public housing complex. The bombshell is a bizarre cap on a summer of horrible news for the agency. New naturally-ventilated Louis Armstrong Stadium debuts at US Open Now in its 50th year, the tournament is playing out within the newly renovated USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens. The five-year, $600-million project is now finished with the opening of the site’s final project: the Louis Armstrong Stadium, the world’s first naturally ventilated tennis arena with a retractable roof. Happy Labor Day, and see you Tuesday!
If you're in New York City this Labor Day and looking for something to do, check out some of these exhibitions. It'll be your last chance to see many of these architecture and design shows before they close after the holiday. Whether you want to head to the beach for a sea of mirrored balls or want to get inspired by the history of activist professionals, this list has something for you. And if you're not in New York, sit tight and wait for our national roundup that's coming tomorrow. 2018 Young Architects Program: Hide & Seek MoMA PS1 Open 12:00–6:00 p.m. through September 3 $10 for adults MoMA PS1’s 2018 Young Architects Program hosted Jennifer Newsom and Tom Carruthers of Dream The Combine for their annual courtyard installation, and it's a funhouse of mirrors and shadow. The program is a great way to experience the work of rising architectural talents while enjoying the PS1's arts and culture program. This year's installation closes this weekend, so it's your last chance to see it. Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) On view through January 1, 2019 $25 for adults Congolese artist Bodys Isek Kingelez’s City Dreams retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art covers his kaleidoscopic paper cities that envision "cities of peace." The show will be up through the rest of the year, but there's enough in these pieces to make them worth multiple visits. Elegance in the Sky: The Architecture of Rosario Candela The Museum of the City of New York Open Daily 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. through October 28, 2018 $18 for adults If you're looking for some jazz age glamor, the Museum of the City of New York's Rosario Candela show spotlights the architect's designs for the city's glittering elite. The show covers the designers rise from humble immigrant roots to celebrity architect and surprising second-career turn as a cryptographer. Rockaway! 2018: Narcissus Garden by Yayoi Kusama MoMA PS1 at Fort Tilden Through September 3 Free! Yayoi Kusama’s mirrored balls at the Rockaways are free and open every day this weekend. Go to the beach, see some art, maybe take a selfie or two. Don't hesitate, though, the installation closes after Labor Day. A Call to Act(ivism): Echoing Whitney Young, 50 Years Later Center for Architecture Open Saturday 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Free! A Call to Act(ivism): Echoing Whitney Young, 50 Years Later at the Center for Architecture remembers the activist's exhortation calling designers to take on the day's social challenges, and then looks at how architects have followed through and the work that's still to be done. The show closes September 15, which is not far away. Sure to get you fired up for fall. RRRolling Stones Socrates Sculpture Park Open 9 a.m. to sundown every day Free! Rest yourself on a 3-D-printed chair at Socrates Sculpture Park where Cornell University professors and HANNAH cofounders Leslie Lok and Sasa Zivkovic have strewn the riverside lawn with their sculptural creations. RRRolling Stones was the 2018 winner of Folly/Function, the Architectural League of New York's annual competition held with the park. The chairs will be out through the end of the year, but the sun won't be, so go see 'em now. Pacha, Llaqta, Wasichay: Indigenous Space, Modern Architecture, New Art Whitney Museum Through September 30 $25 for adults Lastly, check out Pacha, Llaqta, Wasichay: Indigenous Space, Modern Architecture, New Art at the Whitney Museum. The artists give voice to the cultural influences that shaped modern architecture in the U.S. and are frequently overlooked. It's also perfectly placed for a nice stroll on the High Line after. There are plenty more exhibitions up throughout the city and the tri-state region, but hopefully this gives you somewhere to start. Have a great weekend!
The La Jolla Historical Society of San Diego, California, has announced final plans for a new public garden it has created that will house repurposed elements of the Venturi Scott Brown Associates' (VSBA) Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) complex. Specifically, the garden will contain one of the two fiberglass and aluminum pergola structures that have been removed from the MCASD complex as part of an increasingly controversial renovation and expansion scheme for the museum by New York City–based Selldorf Architects. The pergola features a dozen rounded, Tuscan-inspired fiberglass columns that support an aluminum trellis designed to evoke a traditional wood pergola. The words “Contemporary Art” are arranged across the horizontal section of the pergola in red capital letters. Originally, the paired structures flanked the north side of the Prospect Street entrance to MCASD to create a pedestrian-oriented seating area at the mouth of the museum where visitors could gather. Only one of the two pergolas was saved from demolition. The pergolas have been cleared away by the Selldorf team in an effort to reorient the building’s main entrance toward a new atrium. In a statement announcing the planned opening of the garden next month, Heath Fox, executive director for the historical society, highlighted the postmodern stylings of the VSBA addition, saying, “We appreciate the significance of VSBA’s postmodern design of the MCASD entry facade, the importance of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown to the history of postmodern architecture, and the fact that this building was the only VSBA project executed in San Diego.” Fox added, “The Society [also] recognizes the important historical relationship between VSBA and the work of early 20th-century architect Irving J. Gill,” the designer behind the original portion of the MCASD campus. In the statement, Fox explained that the organization he helms recognized “the opportunity to save and historically preserve the ‘Contemporary Art’ pergola as an architectural fragment” and that the Society had relocated and restored the pergola to its original conditions with “original materials and [the] same paint colors, including the red ‘Contemporary Art’ lettering.” The Society worked with architect Tony Crisafi of Island Architects, structural engineer Matthew Mangano, and landscape architect Greg Hebert to bring the garden to life. The pergola will now be located in the Society’s lower terrace garden, roughly 300 feet from its original placement and will remain a part of the Scripps-Gill Cultural District. The garden is set to open to the public September 15, 2018.
Beirut is a city of architectural collisions and contradictions. Buildings shelled out during Lebanon's protracted civil war, such as the much-celebrated “egg,” a half-destroyed brutalist concrete orb, stand next to glossy new construction by the likes of Foster + Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects, and Herzog & de Meuron. Preserved 19th-century mansions endure while a Disney-fied mall overtakes the city center and Roman ruins sit casually in open-air excavations downtown. Though architecture, whether it acknowledges it or not, is always in dialogue with the past, that interaction certainly becomes more pronounced when you have thousands of years of built history to contend with. Raëd Abillama, with whom I spent three days touring his architectural oeuvre, is not afraid to confront history. The first building I visit with Abillama, designed by his eponymous firm Raëd Abillama Architects, makes this abundantly clear. It's a large private home situated near the city center painted in soft pink and originally built in the 19th century. He takes me through the subterranean garage-level entrance, and a few yards ahead of me in this highly contemporary catacomb is a floor of plate glass with a chandelier suspended above. As you approach the glass floor history quite literally comes to the surface—the tripartite glass reveals a triptych of stone sarcophagi, remnants from the Roman era. Builders happened upon them as they attempted to lower the foundation, which Abillama suspects was built on what 19th-century builders thought was bedrock but was actually a giant stone slab covering the graves. It became integrated, unplanned, into the home as part of what Abillama calls “the accident of the process.” Of course, the National Museum of Beirut was brought in to preserve the findings. While we visit other grand single-family homes—many of which share similar characteristics, but as Abillama points out, trying to pin down a “Lebanese architecture” is a hopeless task—we also tour luxe new apartments. A high-rise apartment tower, Saifi 606, featuring large open spaces wrapped around a central stairwell and elevator bay, is mere minutes from some of the resplendent single-family homes we visited. Like the first home Abillama took me to, which featured a manicured enclosed terrace, these apartments also blur the boundaries of inside and out. The large floor-to-ceiling windows can slide back such that even corners disappear and the terrace bleeds into the indoor space. From here one has a view of Beirut's delirious architectural irregularity with so many buildings in various states of completion: occupied, just-started, half-completed and abandoned, damaged, soaring high and laying low in all manners of style and scale. Just 35 miles outside of the city, we visit a winery Abillama designed. IXSIR (its name coming from the Arabic word for “elixir,” the English word itself of Arabic origin), as it is called, is set on top of a mountain that rises over 3,000 feet just a few miles from the Mediterranean coast. While from above a rather idyllic stone structure set in the vineyards is all that can be seen, below something entirely different comes into view: an angular, geometric lair. However, this shift from light, quarried-stone arches to angular concrete zigzags hardly feels severe or jarring. This is in large part because of Abillama’s approach to built history. The original stone structure, constructed in the 17th century, was missing a large wall. Likely a former family home, the apocryphal story behind the damage revolves around a tradition of families having to destroy parts of their homes during feuds with neighbors. Abillama chose to rebuild this structure with reclaimed local stones, but not out of an urge toward restoration or historicization. For him, it’s about respecting the character of the structure, developing a “reinterpretation” without “falling into the trap of what’s been done.” He remains inspired by building methods of the past, and when they make more sense, they make more sense. However, this is precisely why the additional structure, which houses the operational components of the winery, looks anything but traditional. It’s a relatively independent structure from the 21st century with its own needs and, Abillama believes, it should be built as such. This attitude toward the architectural past is clearly articulated in the massive hillside residence he designed for his brother Karim. The art-filled home retains a great deal of its original 18th-century structure inside and out. It also features concrete and glass additions and many other contemporary finishes that coexist without dissonance. Many questioned the wisdom of keeping the original structure—if you’re going to restore and add on, why not just destroy the original? But for Abillama, the old stones carry a story that can be witnessed from the present. “The original stones, even the way they’re placed on top of each other, retain the soul of the house,” he says. “There’s the soul of the people who put their sweat and their work and their talent and their knowhow embedded into the building and we have to respect that.” There is a deference to the history of work without a fetishization of the styles of the past. Abillama lets the building “tell a story.” This approach, to some extent, informs his first foray into New York City. Raëd Abillama Architects will be both the designer and developer of a 19th Street lot, which they are calling Abi Chelsea. A great deal of permitting trickery was involved to keep the commercial space below and to be able to build the 10 residences above, and the demands of the relatively narrow former-industrial space guided much of the design for the elongated building with its bifurcated facade. Like Abillama’s work in Lebanon, the design is guided by listening to “what the site is telling [him and his team] to do.” And it’s fitting that Abillama’s first building in the United States should be in Chelsea, a neighborhood packed with art galleries, given that nearly every place I visited with him was packed with all varieties of painting and sculpture. But when I asked whether he designs with art in mind he’s quick to say, generally, no. “I can’t design for art because it’s too personal,” he explains, “but still, you have to open up the possibility for tenants to feel they can take true ownership of the space. It’s about creating a great canvas, where you’re removing as much as the information as possible. Sometimes creating a volume can be enough.” He also described this approach as “atemporal,” which perhaps is the aptest description of his work in general—he's actively respecting existing structures, acknowledging history, but without bowing to it, or by the same token, without obsessing over contemporaneity. He's “respecting time passing by.” Much like the built landscape of Beirut, it is the improbable amalgams and competing trajectories of time that give form to Abillama’s buildings. Witnessing and respecting built history is, according to Abillama, “a good reminder that we’re just here temporarily, and we should enjoy every moment of life instead of thinking we’re eternal.” For Abillama, each building is a thrilling memento mori.
The expressed goal of the inaugural FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art is to shine a spotlight on the cultural landscape of Cleveland, a city many might overlook when thinking of art hubs. The organizers of FRONT, of which there are many, are taking their chances on yet another triennial/biennial event but are decidedly not relying on a market-based model, like Art Basel or the closer Expo Chicago. In doing so the city is hoping to set itself apart and focus on the cultural aspects of the art, rather than the scene of art culture. The first thing that will strike visitors to FRONT is its scope. With this year’s theme, An American City: Eleven Cultural Exercises, it can honestly be said that the show spans much of the city, including dipping its toes into Lake Erie. With no single institution claiming the show as its own, each of the city's major art museums and a number of galleries and universities have worked in unison to produce the encompassing show. It is a credit to Curator Lisa Kurzner, Artistic Director Michelle Grabner, Executive Director Fred Bidwell, and their team that such a complex undertaking could be negotiated. Public spaces and government buildings also get in on the act with massive new murals, large-scale sculptures, and a number of temporary installations. In many ways, these pieces, outside of typical presentation settings, are the most striking. Possibly the least expected of the non-traditional spaces to show art is the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Completed in 1923, and fully adorned in ornate gold and marble details, the lobby of the bank is home to a mesmerizing video and sound installation entitled Volatility Smile by New York-based Midwest-native Philip Vanderhyden. The 24-channel video of digitally rendered abstract forms plays with imagery pulled directly from the space itself. A similarly poignant installation fills the large gallery of the downtown Cleveland Public Library. The American Library continues Yinka Shonibare's research-based cultural art practice. The piece is composed of thousands of books covered in African cloth and embossed with the names of American immigrants. The bright color and context of the piece make accessible the timely content, which builds on Shonibare's work dealing with post-colonialism around the world. The work within the established art museums and galleries is broad-ranging and varied, and many pieces are not to be missed. At Case Western University and MOCA Cleveland, a giant silver hand by sculptor Tony Tasset welcomes guests to the museum and the university, both of which are also participating in FRONT. The inside of the Farshid Moussavi-designed MOCA Cleveland echoes with the soundtrack of Cyprien Gaillard’s Nightlife, a slow-motion 3-D video installation of animated urban plant life. It is as intoxicatingly beautiful as it is hypnotizing. Equally powerful, if not much quieter, is what may be the hidden gem of the entire exhibition. Located in the oldest church in Cleveland along a quiet street, Night Coming Tenderly, Black by photographer Dawoud Bey exemplifies the type of work that FRONT is aiming to promote. Both regionally specific and universally accessible, the large installation fills the pews of St. John’s Episcopal Church with almost completely black images depicting landscapes that escaped slaves traveling the Underground Railroad would have encountered. Appropriately, the church itself was the final stop along the perilous system of safe heavens before escapees crossed Lake Erie into Canada. The placement of the large-scale prints in the pews allows for viewers to sit unusually close to the images, making them incredibly immersive as one studies their intense shadowy detail. In many ways, FRONT International has set itself up to achieve its goal of bringing the world to Cleveland. The array of work is a testament to the cooperation between institutions, which would seem unlikely to happen in the more competitive art scenes of larger cities. The work is often both specific to Cleveland as well as relevant to outsiders. Taken in all together, the show is exciting and shows the potential when a city like Cleveland puts on an international exhibition. Does the world need another art festival? Perhaps not, but if we are going to get one, Cleveland seems to have figured out a way to make it worthwhile.
Corning on Dekalb
Glassblowing barge brings the traditional craft to New York’s waterways
Corning is going back to its roots for the 150th anniversary of the company’s move to Corning, New York. The Corning Museum of Glass has tapped the McLaren Engineering Group’s nautical and entertainment departments for the creation of GlassBarge, a mobile glassworking studio set to travel from Brooklyn to the upstate city. McLaren repurposed an existing 30-by-80-foot barge to create room for both glassblowing performances and space for 150 spectators. The entire barge was also topped with a 30-by-69-foot-long retractable canopy to protect against harsh weather. Corning was born the Brooklyn Flint Glass Company until they packed up and moved upstate to Corning in 1868. GlassBarge will retrace the historic company's move across the state’s waterways. The barge launched from Brooklyn Bridge Park in May and will ultimately make 29 stops, hosting public demonstrations and lectures along the way before it arrives at Seneca Lake Pier in Watkins Glen on September 14. After that, the barge will travel to its final home at the Port of Coeymans, just south of Albany, in October. “We used our experience working on Broadway theaters and concert stage performances to create stadium seating that amplified the viewer experience,” said Steven Bonadonna, technical design manager at McLaren, “while collaborating with our marine experts to maximize occupancy on the floating structure.” Floating performance spaces have a storied architectural history, from Louis Kahn's floating orchestra hall Point Counterpoint II, to this year's inflatable Antepavilion competition winner in London. Tickets to the remaining GlassBarge demonstrations can be reserved here.
Also See The Wojnarowicz Show
Latinx artists explore modern architecture and indigenous space at the Whitney
The Whitney Museum exhibition Pacha, Llaqta, Wasichay: Indigenous Space, Modern Architecture, New Art displays seven Latinx artists’ responses to the built environment through construction, land, and space. Curator Marcela Guerrero has brought together 80 recent works and site-specific installations by William Cordova, Livia Corona Benjamín, Jorge González, Guadalupe Maravilla, Claudia Peña Salinas, Ronny Quevedo, and Clarissa Tossin. The works display a wide range of references, from adaptations of pre-Columbian temples to migration routes. The title iincludes three words in Quechua, the most common indigenous language spoken today in the Americas. Each has multiple meanings: Pacha is the universe, time, space, nature, world; llaqta, place, country, community, town; and wasichay, to build or construct a house. Clarissa Tossin’s video, Ch’u Mayaa (Maya Blue) (2017), was shot at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Los Angeles. Tossin moves figures around the temple-like forms to a soundtrack of body sounds and pre-Columbian flutes while demonstrating the performative, ceremonial nature of Mayan (and Mayan revival) architecture. Tossin’s sculptures that surround the video are inspired by reliefs at the nearby Mayan Theater by Mexican artist Francisco Cornejo that referenced both Central America and Hollywood film productions. Ronny Quevedo’s father was a professional soccer player in Ecuador, and his Orders of Magnitude (desde Qoricancha) (2018), Errant Globe (2015), and Ulama, Ule, Olé (2012) use sports themes (here, ulama, a ball game) with imagery of a gym floor, ball courts, and constellations arranged in “maps.” Gold leaf refers to Spanish colonial invaders and is used to render migratory patterns visible, including his own; Quevedo’s family relocated from Ecuador to New York. In her photogram series, Infinite Rewrite (2018), Livia Corona Benjamín features Mexican grain silos or graneros del pueblo (silos for the people) built during the Compañía Nacional de Subsistencias Populares initiative from 1965-1999. A prototype design by architect Pedro Ramirez Vázquez could be built by farmers with local materials. However, the 4,000 silos that were built were abandoned, and the project ended in failure. These photos, made with multiple exposures that fracture the image almost like mosaics, show how the structures have since been adapted for other purposes: schools, churches, motels. In the gallery, the installation uses 12-foot-tall walls and a floor plan that echoes both the silos’ conical shapes and cruciform plazas. Ayacabo Guarocoel (2018) by Jorge Gonzalez combined Modernism and Puerto Rican Taino (indigenous Caribbean) vernacular in this site-specific installation of a full-height windowed gallery looking eastward. The accordion roof is the mid-century element while the walls are enea (cattail) and dried clay, used in bohíos (huts) and in furniture. He has also made benches specifically for the exhibition. Another site-specific installation sits on the outdoor fifth-floor terrace called huaca (sacred geometries) (2018), by William Cordova, and uses wood with a stainless-steel gate. It references Huaca Huantille, a temple from the Ichma culture (1100–1400 AD) in Peru that predates the Inca. Before it became an official heritage site in 2001, the temple was claimed by squatters who improvised shelters out of scaffolding (the artist grew up nearby). Seen from the balconies above, you can see why Cordova calls it a “non-monument.” Claudia Peña Salinas’s installation—composed of Cueyatl (2017), Tlaloc MNA (2018), Chalchiuhtlicue MNA (2018) and more—refers to and reinterprets archeological objects at the National Anthropology Museum in Mexico City. The layout is based on the mythical Aztec paradise of Tlacocan. Together, these artworks form provocative insights and interpretations of the architectural landscape and cultural heritage across Mesoamerica and offer tantalizing insights into the contemporary power of indigenous work. Pacha, Llaqta, Washichay: Indigenous Space, Modern Architecture, New Art will run at the Whitney through September 30, 2018.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, has launched a new program to accommodate people with sensory sensitivities. Starting August 24, the museum will offer visitors free kits with a variety of equipment that they can use throughout their visit. According to Cleveland Scene, the kits include "noise-dampening headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards, weighted lap pads, and other resources." The Hall of Fame joins a variety of institutions that have taken similar steps toward inclusivity in recent years. Smithsonian reported earlier this year on a variety of D.C. museums that have tried to become more sensory friendly by opening early for quiet hours or by creating dimly-lit spaces that visitors can retreat to should they become overwhelmed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City offers a sensory friendly guide that highlights spaces that tend to be quiet and dimly lit along with spaces that are often loud and crowded. Autism Friendly Spaces, a New York–based nonprofit whose mission is to "unlock minds and transform spaces to welcome the full participation of the autism community," says that sensory friendly spaces adjust "the auditory, visual, and olfactory stimulation to levels acceptable for the population that will be experiencing it." People with autism spectrum disorder may be "more or less sensitive than other people to sensory input, such as light, noise, clothing, or temperature," according to the National Institute of Mental Health. For museums like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, sensory sensitivity poses a real challenge because many shows are designed to stimulate a variety of senses at once. As Smithsonian noted, exhibition design has trended toward multisensory experiences that are more than purely visual displays. The sensitivity kits offer a variety of tools that can either dampen sensory input or offer coping mechanisms, like the fidget tools or weighted lap pads, and they are one way in which museum design is tackling inclusivity and accessibility more broadly.