Search results for "whitney"
How art and architecture hit the water in the 1960s and beyond
Exploration (the quest for new experiences, the ineffable, and living in an exhilarated state), Liberation (self-reliance, freedom from terrestrial social contracts, the desire to shape one’s world, and utopian (impulses), Fieldwork (hands-on, methodological intelligence gathering about the environment, such as an artist laboratory at sea), and Speculation (waterways as a tabula rasa on which other realities can be built).Within these headers is a collection of architectural works that have taken maritime themes, from large-scale housing projects to a structure that would facilitate humans' diplomatic relations with marine life. Conceptually, the show has a range of connections to architecture. All of the categories deal with the sea as a new territory where we can redefine ourselves and how we relate to one another and nature. It is not only defined by a different ground plane (water), but also by a different set of rules due its extra-legal, non-sovereign state. Once outside of the limits of “the law of the land,” new possibilities arise from this tabula rasa condition. Dutch studio Atelier van Lieshout (AVL) built a floating abortion clinic for Women on Waves, a Dutch health nonprofit that provides reproductive health services to women in countries with restrictive laws. A-Portable was a gynecological unit that helped women from Ireland, Morocco, Poland, Portugal, and Spain. The Brooklyn collective Mare Liberum takes its name from the 1609 treatise by Dutch jurist and philosopher Hugo Grotius that described the sea as “one of the last free spaces in this densely occupied urban landscape.” The artists channel Grotius as they work to explore and inhabit New York City’s waterways and waterfronts, the last open spaces where the artists feel they can be marginal and ambiguously outside of civilization. An essay by Dylan Gauthier, a founding member of Mare Liberum, can be found in the front of the book and elucidates how the collective’s two-year occupation of a yacht on the Gowanus Canal was possible due to ambiguous law and overlapping bureaucracies. The group is experimenting with new territories and space-making outside of the traditional realm of architecture or urbanism. Mare Liberum’s work also provokes new ways of living, as does Buckminster Fuller’s proposal for Triton City in Baltimore, where large housing blocks would be built on autonomous ships, and anchored in the ground. The 100,000 units were stacked like blocks within a large superstructure. If this sounds like Metabolism, it is because Fuller and Japanese architect Shoji Sadao originally designed the project for Tokyo Bay, typical of other water-based architectures of the 1950s and 1960s in Japan. When its client died, the team was commissioned by HUD and President Lyndon Johnson. It never was realized, despite being verified by the U.S. Navy as fit for building. The model is now on view at the Johnson Presidential Library. Building out onto the water is a popular proposal these days, as Diller’s Island in New York and the Garden Bridge in London compete for most controversial territory. Also projecting new forms of interaction is Ant Farm’s Dolphin Embassy. The speculative underwater diplomatic center was conceived for exploring interspecies communication. This dolphin research platform DOLØN EMB 1 took multiple iterations, as it grew from a simple catamaran-like vessel to a futuristic, technology-driven vessel called Oceania. While the group published numerous articles and received grants for the research, the project was abandoned when they broke up in 1978. The architectural works in the show fit in well, as they are the spatial manifestation of the pioneering and experimental attitude of the whole exhibition. The works by Pedro Reyes, Mary Mattingly, and Dennis Oppenheim could easily have been included in an architectural survey, because of the territorial and social implications of the art that blur the distinctions between architecture and performance. In a way, getting in a boat is an architectural act and a performance at the same time. This speaks to not only the breadth of the Radical Seafaring catalogue but also to its aesthetic and conceptual clarity.
Mori Breuer, Please
Toshiko Mori unifies Breuer home with diaphanous glass "bridge and break" staircase
Cup or Cone?
AN tours the saliva-worthy Museum of Ice Cream, a NYC pop-up where you can bathe in a pool of sprinkles
Today The Architect's Newspaper toured the soon-to-open Museum of Ice Cream (MOIC) a pop-up space in the Meatpacking devoted to the season's favorite sweet treat. I popped two Lactaid pills and licked everything.
"The Museum of Ice Cream is about joy, experimentation, collaboration, sharing, and playing together, with some nostalgia, too," noted Bunn, who harbored childhood fantasy of diving into a giant pool of sprinkles.
The exhibits deliver on that fantasy. Although it would be generous to call the Whitney-adjacent MOIC a museum, it is a lot of fun. One installation invited participants to practice their scoop by digging vanilla ice cream out of a commercial-sized container and deposit it on a gold chalice. Our guide noted that ice cream was invented in China circa 1000 BCE, which is probably not true.
In the next room, Toronto-based Future Food Studio was spinning balloons made from liquid sugar and filled with helium. MOIC staff encouraged visitors to inhale the helium, say something in an elf voice, and eat the sticky aftermath:The group also created a cone display for ice cream paired with Synsepalum dulcificum (miracle fruit), a plant from West Africa that temporarily alters how different foods taste. Bright pink vanilla ice cream cones arrived garnished with lemon, which tastes sweet under the berry's influence. Future Future Food Studio founder Dr. Irwin Adam explained that the exhibit is "art meets ice cream meets taste meets science," adding that the chemical interaction caused by the miracle berries is an interesting avenue in the psychology of taste. The museum’s focus on its vigorous second life online is reflected in almost pornographically playful exhibitions where a visitor can point her phone at an angled ceiling mirror to snap the perfect selfie while diving into the sprinkles pool. The reminders from staff and wall text to #MOIC #museumoficecream reinforced the performative quality of the space. The sprinkles are made of cut-up plastic beads, the kind you imagine lodged in the trachea of sea creatures, but they approximated their sugar siblings well enough. I braved the crowds (above) and possible foot fungus to dip my feet in the pool: It felt nice, a colorful response to Snarkitecture's Beach. Over in the chocolate room, visitors were greeted with the rich scent of cacao, Dove chocolates, and a video installation of gushing liquid chocolate set to Lord of the Rings transition music. By the exit, there was a (chocolate milk?) fountain splattering its juices against the back wall and basin. Growing up in a house with old plumbing, the fountain was very triggering: Pivoting quickly back to the entrance for a Blue Marble Ice Cream vanilla sundae topped with lemon-guava paste, marshmallows, and Froot Loops, I returned to the final exhibit, an indoor playground sponsored by Tinder. The MOIC says the playground—with a loveseat, seesaw, and bench swing—is the ideal place for a first date. To test out the space, I had lined up an actual Tinder date who cancelled last minute, so I had to content myself with watching others try out the seesaw, which is shaped like an ice cream scoop: Last licks: When it opens tomorrow, the MOIC expects 30,000 visitors over its monthlong run. Tickets are already sold out, but hours of operation and availability will be updated here.
In 1995, as Mario Botta’s brand new San Francisco Museum of Art debuted, critic Pilar Viladas wrote an article for the Los Angeles Times, “San Francisco’s MOMA Moment: Mario Botta designed an interior that is sublime. But what happened to the rest of the new museum?” A similar question has been on architecture critics’ minds since Snøhetta’s $305 million expansion to Botta’s original opened to the press on April 28.
The original building was designed as an outpost for culture in a downtrodden area, a muscle man for the artistically curious. Now, billions are pouring into the area with a regional transit center, 5.4-acre elevated park, and new highrise neighborhood planned adjacent to the museum. And so, SFMOMA is evolving to reflect downtown San Francisco’s new inflection point. Interestingly, SFMOMA’s board of directors has done what those of other major national museums like New York City’s Whitney, the Museum of Modern Art, and Los Angeles’s LACMA have not: Drastically expand and reorganize gallery space without demolishing their existing museum or having to relocate to an entirely new building. Snøhetta was tasked with constructing a real building, whereas OMA and Michael Graves Architecture merely proposed similar ideas in their respective Whitney proposals decades ago. But if Viladas’s assertion that Botta’s original was ugly on the outside was proven ultimately false—San Franciscans seem to love the original SFMOMA through and through—Snøhetta’s expansion begs a new, complicated question: What happened to the rest of the old museum?
Snøhetta’s point of view in that regard is a standard one: Emphasize the existing through opposition. The 235,000-square-foot expansion grows out of the original structure’s backside and then rises ten stories above. By filling the narrow site to capacity and adding a new entrance along Howard Street, the architects greatly expanded the program’s public areas. Like in the original museum, the first three floors will be free to the public, a group that now includes all San Franciscans aged 18 and under.
This new entry features a maze of interlocking double height spaces, including a wood-clad amphitheater overlooking a pair of Richard Serra’s Sequence sculptures. The new amphitheater and Botta’s existing monumental rotunda meet at the second floor, creating “a living room for San Francisco,” as Craig Dykers, principal of Snøhetta, relayed during a guided tour. The proportions of this new “living room” are more intimate in nature than Botta’s proud entry. Snøhetta has retooled that existing entry by replacing the original oversize white switchback stairway with a low-slung wood one. Drawing comparisons to the firm’s prior Oslo Operahuset where the plane of the roof is sloped to allow pedestrian access from surrounding streets, Dykers said, “You feel ownership over a space when you can walk on the roof.” That’s a funny way to describe being on the second floor of a ten-story building, but what Snøhetta really did is bring the street indoors by luring up pedestrians from a variety of approaches.
The third floor contains dedicated photography galleries as well as a buzzing coffee shop. A large grow wall and outdoor Calder plaza flank this floor’s entry landing, creating a cool and shaded space teeming with growing things and art objects that grants museumgoers their first real glance at the museum’s icy east facade. From there up, gallery spaces stack neatly and predictably, joined for two floors by existing galleries in the Botta building.
The remaining floors above are accessed by a maze of single-run and increasingly narrow blonde wood staircases Dykers likens to those in a private home. The simultaneously jagged and swoopy perimeters of the staircases are offset by minimalist detailing. Treads, framed by Alvar Aalto-inspired hand rails, are embedded in the wall at the curved side only to pull away from it again in a reveal along the angular boundary. At your feet, singular lengths of stained planks mark the beginning and end of each stair run. “Everything your body touches is made of wood,” Lara Kaufman, project architect for the expansion, explained of the “floating,” ergonomic design of the galleries’ wood floors.
The galleries themselves are obsessive in their minimalist articulation. Dykers said outlets, return air grilles, and lighting subconsciously distract the art viewer and that the firm’s goal was to disappear these components in the gallery spaces. The team was also careful to position overhead lighting in specially calibrated vaulting that complements the galleries’ eastward-facing glazing.
The “contemporary” gallery on the seventh floor showcases recent work in a space with exposed ductwork and framing above the exhibition walls. The three floors above it are dedicated to staff offices.
Ultimately, Snøhetta’s team has made an unambiguous and honest effort to address the complicated calculus involved in adding onto a beloved art institution in a dense urban environment. As with the original structure, only time will tell how San Francisco takes to its new modern art museum.
Petition Under Way
Virginia’s only Marcel Breuer building threatened with demolition
Whitney announces exhibition on immersive cinema and art
Blinds for walls? ASH NYC installation rethinks conventions of contemporary office decor
Turning mirrors into ceilings, tables into flooring, and blinds into walls, Brooklyn-based design and development firm ASH NYC isn't playing by the standard rules of workspace design. Known for mixing chic interior design and property development, the firm exhibited Office Space at this year's Collective Design held in New York earlier this month.
Covering 1,250 square feet, their installation was situated in the VIP lounge and café at the fair featuring a 60 foot long modular table named Office Table that was made using reclaimed heart pinewood used for the new floors at the Whitney Museum.
Connecting the lounge to the cafe within the fair, the space was encapsulated by an extensive horizontal blind system that doubled up as walls. Also tracing the space's perimeter, an array of sculptural seating cubes—or Office Chairs—offered gathering spaces for visitors to the exhibit.
Keeping with furniture, ASH also produced a limited-edition WC4 chair that was available for purchase on-site. These chairs were interspersed within the vicinity alongside planting that offered a natural counter to the prefabricated space.
A dropped ceiling was also incorporated into the design, employing ceiling panels wrapped in reflective mylar to articulate space seldom—if at all seen in office environments.
When the new Whitney Museum of American Art opened on Manhattan’s West Side a little over a year ago, critical reactions were mixed. Like the majority of contemporary commentary, much of the critique was aimed at the outside of the building. There was also praise for an interior that defers to the art and a bit of positivity about the views. Some gushed about how daring it was for a building to physically engage with its surroundings at ground level.
However, a year after the initial “wait and see,” it is time to call the Renzo Piano–designed Whitney building what it really is: An architectural tourist trap. It is the conceptual built equivalent of Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar (GAKB) in Times Square.
What does a tourist trap do? Like any good tourist trap, the Whitney relies too much on its surroundings. The site at the apex of the High Line along the Hudson River is one of the best in the city. An architect would have to try hard to not have great views. Putting a few couches along floor-to-ceiling windows is not a world-class experience—most locals can get sixth-floor views from a friend’s roof or balcony. Like GAKB in Times Square, the Whitney has such a good location for its purpose that it doesn’t actually need to do anything to attract visitors. It is just there, housing an awkward collection of early modern art—good Hoppers and mediocre Ruschas.
Because it is a tourist trap, it also doesn’t need to inspire anyone to come back. What about this museum makes us want to visit again? We come for Piano, much like diners come for Guy. At GAKB, there is not decadent, diner-inspired food, only limp lettuce and uninspiring Caesar dressing. At the Whitney, where are Piano’s poetic details? Where is the tectonic novelty? What happened to the inventive, integrated systems and materials? The Whitney is all of the bad things about Piano’s work: It is washed-out and soulless, without any of the Piano magic. How can we connect to it?
The outdoor spaces seem arbitrarily proportioned and like afterthoughts. We might find the under-designed railings at an institutional building or a second-rate theme park. The oft-heard excuse is that this is part of the industrial heritage of the site, and is meant to evoke being on a fire escape. Yes, beloved industrial buildings and fire escapes have fine characteristics—materiality, the patina and layers of time, spatial experiences with compression, release, and difficult corners, and odd juxtapositions of railings and stairs—the Whitney has none of these. Instead, it is all out of scale, sterile, and unengaging.
The tourist trap analogy is not one of immediate political context. Yes, many of the visitors to the Whitney are tourists. But the point is that the building has nothing to offer beyond its celebrity status.
Deferring to the art is not an excuse. What if the Four Seasons had “deferred” to the food? What if the Ford Foundation had “deferred” to people working? An off-the-shelf metal shed can do a fine job protecting farm equipment, but isn’t the landscape better off with some actual design? The condos on the Williamsburg waterfront are amazing places to hang out, cook, and enjoy the views. It doesn’t mean they are great architecture.
Connecting with the city and functioning properly should be baseline requirements of a building, not something to hold up as great architecture. We should demand more exciting design and value it as part of the gesamtkunstwerk of a museum: art, architecture, and city in harmony to create a place, as well as an experience. Manhattan already has a problem with stale homogeneity; we need to demand that architects and clients not contribute to it. After all, no one ever said it was form or function.
The New Museum will double in size in time for its 40th birthday next year, as it expands into next-door 231 Bowery, which is currently offices, a gallery, and artists' live/work space owned by the museum.
The museum announced yesterday that it had raised $43 million of the $80 million needed to pay for the expansion and to triple the endowment. Although the funds seem modest in comparison to the MoMA (annual operating budget: $147 million) or the Whitney, the capital campaign is the largest in the New Museum's history. The $80 million will also pay for the institution's business incubator, New INC, and programs like IdeasCity, which bring artists, activists, planners, and policymakers together to discuss issues facing cities like Detroit and Athens, Greece.
Lisa Phillips, the museum's director, told The New York Times that “we’ve known for a long time that we wanted an expansion, but we’ve been thinking about what an expansion means for a museum like this. We own the building next door, and it just makes sense to use it. But it was also about thinking about ways to create a parallel structure there, to make something that’s different and a counterpoint to this building.”
Since the museum's move to Soho in 2007, annual attendance has increased from 60,000 to over 400,000. The museum intends to renovate 231 Bowery and connect it to their main Sanaa–designed space, increasing the total footprint from 58,000 square feet to over 100,000. As of now, there are no plans to demolish 231 Bowery. The expansion will allow for improved circulation, and keep exhibitions on view during turnaround periods: The New Museum has a tiny permanent collection, choosing instead to focus on women artists and art that's not usually exhibited in New York.
“I don’t have [the expansion] completely laid out,” Phillips told the Times, “but it’s about trying to do things that museums haven’t done yet or maybe even imagined.”