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Grafton For The Opportunity

Grafton Architects will design Anthony Timberlands Center for the University of Arkansas
Following a lengthy design review process, Irish architecture firm Grafton Architects was chosen by the University of Arkansas’ Board of Trustees to design the institution’s new Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The firm, which was also awarded this year’s Pritzker Prize earlier this month, won out against five other big-name practices, including Dorte Mandrup A/S, Shigeru Ban Architects, LEVER Architecture, Kennedy & Violich Architecture, and WT/GO Architecture. “This is fantastic news,” said Farrell and McNamara of Grafton Architects in a press statement. “We are very excited about building our first building in the United States in Fayetteville, Arkansas. This building helps us think about the future optimistically, where the use of timber with all its possibilities, becomes real, useful and hopefully loved.” The $16 million facility, in partnership with the local modus studio, will become the Fay Jones School of Architecture's design research center and will be built with a major emphasis on timber, a building material that has become increasingly popular in the past few years in North America for its structural properties and ability to sequester carbon. The department’s brand new graduate program in timber and wood design will be housed in the new building, along with existing and forthcoming design-build fabrication technologies laboratories. “We want people to experience the versatility of timber, both as the structural ‘bones’ and the enclosing ‘skin’ of this new building," said Farrell. "The building itself is a teaching tool, displaying the strength, color, grain, texture and beauty of the various timbers used.” Like most other projects designed by the firm, the building will have a civic quality with plenty of natural light throughout its interior spaces that, in turn, makes the innovative research visible to passersby. The board of trustees was impressed with Grafton Architect’s demonstration of timber’s potential, noting that their proposal "creates a memorable institutional landmark for the urban landscape of Fayetteville.” Peter MacKeith, dean of the Fay Jones School of Architecture, added that “this selection, in short, is a landmark day for our school, our university and our state [...] As an accomplished, recognized women-led practice, Grafton Architects confirms for all our students that the design professions are equally theirs in which to find their identities and to realize their potentials.” The project was funded in large part by a grant from the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, both of which see great potential in the timber building industry. “The University of Arkansas has been a leader in showcasing all the benefits of mass timber architecture,” said Carlton Owen, CEO of the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities., in a press statement “We are looking forward to the results of a leading architectural university working with this year’s Pritzker Prize winners to take wood-based architecture to new heights.” The comprehensive design phase for the Anthony Timberlands Center is scheduled to begin this summer.
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He Said She Said

Is the School of Architecture at Taliesin staying open or not?
When the news broke on March 5 that the board of the School of Architecture at Taliesin (SoAT) had voted to keep the school open, it seemed like the 88-year-old institution was getting a reprieve. However, now that the March 10 deadline SoAT had offered the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to come to the table and negotiate has come and gone, the only path forward could be arbitration. The school and the foundation split in 2017 under Higher Learning Commission regulations and signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to govern the relationship between the two. The current MOU also acts as the school’s de facto lease and is set to expire on July 31, 2020, unless extended. However, in a March 14 memo, the foundation announced that in a final decision, it would let the memorandum expire and provided a list of requirements the school would have to meet as it vacated both Taliesin locations. “The Foundation,” the memo reads, “will return to its own efforts to develop new programs in architect education that advance this legacy, [Wright’s] pedagogical ideas, and the integrity of Taliesin and Taliesin West as architectural campuses.” Whether these new efforts take the form of unaccredited programs, as previously suggested by Stuart Graff, president and CEO of the foundation, or another accredited program, remains to be seen. While the foundation claims that the school acted without its knowledge on its vote to stay open and the foundation’s staff only found out about the school’s decision through media reports, SoAT’s leadership says otherwise. In a March 9 call, Aaron Betsky, the former president of SoAT, and Dan Schweiker, the chairperson of the school’s board of governors, rebutted that assertion, saying the foundation had two representatives on the school’s board and would have been informed of any and all moves the school was going to take. According to both Schweiker and Betsky (who were joined by a representative from Chicago-based law firm Kirkland & Ellis, which is representing the school pro bono), they had secured pledges of support to continue the next semester with six students as well as a line of credit. Additionally, thanks to the outpouring of support the school had received after the news broke, alumni and fellows had pledged additional funds to keep SoAT running. However, the foundation never responded. March 10 passed, and now the only way forward will be, according to the MOU, through a mediator. The school claims that all it wanted was to renew the memorandum for another two years as a runway to adapt and change the school for the times and reevaluate its options, but the foundation refused. Yesterday, in an editorial for Dezeen, Betsky laid out his version of events:
“The school was given two choices: close immediately, or give up its accreditation and continue for one more year while developing programmes with the foundation. However, the school would have to continue paying the foundation's fees while not being able to recruit students, retain those who sought an accredited degree or raise funds. This would have been financially impossible, so the school was forced to take the first option and announce its closure.”
Betsky explained that the foundation ordered the school to close and that SoAT had changed its mind after seeing the outpouring of support from the architectural community and former students. If the foundation and SoAT fail to come to an agreement through mediation, the next step may be arbitration. AN will follow this developing story and update this article accordingly.
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Hip To Be Square

3XN completes hyper-faceted office building at the center of a Berlin square
Danish architecture firm 3XN has recently completed a mirrored-glass cuboid building in Washingtonplatz, one of the most prominent squares in Berlin. Originally a competition entry for Deutsche Bahn’s new headquarters, cube berlin was conceived as a ‘sculptural centerpiece’ with a more delicate balance of context and content than typically expected of an office building. “When we began the design process,” Torben Østergaard, 3XN Partner in Charge of the project, said in a press statement, “our ambition was to create a building that would contribute to the animation of the square. We wanted to engage by-passers while providing top-notch office spaces.” The triangulated facade of the 10-story building was designed to accomplish many of the firm’s goals using only 12 distinct glass elements. By pulling the facades inwards on the lower floors, the building provides partially-sheltered public spaces that enter into a dialogue with the recently-completed Main Railway Station Lehrter Bahnhof. The surroundings are reflected like a kaleidoscope in the building’s double-skin facade, which was engineered to yield substantial daylight, natural ventilation, and protection from solar heat gains. The multifaceted elevations are designed to provide additional outdoor spaces on the upper floors that promote interaction among its occupants. “The architectural body defines a soft - yet articulate - transition between inside and public space while allowing people to access outside platforms at every level and provide for a strong street-level interaction,” the firm’s website explains. The firm has billed cube berlin as the “smartest building in Europe” for its integration of data-collecting technology throughout the building that can be observed and managed using an app that occupants and visitors alike. The app is designed to encourage sustainable behavior, identify optimal workspaces based on its occupants’ unique preferences, and connect people to the overall square. Cube berlin is the second building 3XN has completed in the city, following the Royal Danish Embassy in 1999.
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Ando 'Nother Gallery

Former Paris stock exchange building renovated by Tadao Ando as contemporary art gallery
François Pinault, the founder of the luxury group Kering and the investment company Artémis, is known throughout Europe as an avid supporter of contemporary art. In 2017, Pinault announced that he had purchased Paris’s former stock exchange Bourse de Commerce, two blocks north of the Louvre Museum, to house at least a portion of his vast collection. “With the creation of this new museum,” Pinault wrote of the institution, now titled Bourse de Commerce — Pinault Collection, on its official website, “I am writing the next chapter of my cultural project, whose goal is to share my passion for contemporary art with as broad an audience as possible.” With an estimated budget of $170 million, he commissioned famed Japanese architect Tadao Ando to renovate the 19th-century domed structure with the assistance of local talent including NeM Architects, architect Pierre-Antoine Gatier, and engineering firm Setec. Pinault additionally entrusted designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec with the interior and exterior furnishings. Three years later, the project is nearly ready for the public. To renovate the Bourse de Commerce to its condition in 1889, the year in which all of its additions were first completed, the team used archival documents produced by architect Henri Blondel to analyze the original carpentry of the facades, update the marble mosaic tiles lining the interior of the vestibule and rotunda, replaced the glass canopy, and reinforced the iron framework on cast-iron columns. Restoring the paintings lining the interior of the dome proved to be an enormous challenge in itself, yet in the process, the team discovered graffiti and other embellishments from previous eras. Ando’s greatest contribution to the space is a large, cylindrical concrete wall at the center of the multistory interior designed to increase wall space for exhibitions without visually competing with the hand-painted dome above. There will also be a restaurant added on the top floor of the building, as well as an auditorium with 300 seats, and a black-box theater for video installations and experimental performances. According to the museum’s website, the additional components of the building, which was once solely animated by the frenzy of the stock market, “will become the actors in a scenography intended to remove visitors from their daily lives, to allow them to focus on what’s before their eyes, on the here and now.” The institution is expected to have ten special exhibitions a year on average while also featuring work from Pinault’s private collection. The opening date has been pushed more than once; it was first scheduled to be complete in 2019, then once again in June of this year. According to ARTnews, the institution’s opening has again been postponed due to the coronavirus, and is now scheduled to welcome visitors sometime in September. When complete, the Bourse de Commerce—Pinault Collection will be the third gallery Ando has completed for Pinault, following the Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana in Venice, Italy.
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Who Glasses the Glass House?

When the glass cracks at the Glass House, how is it replaced?
The Glass House, Philip Johnson’s renowned personal residence in New Canaan, Connecticut, recently replaced the oversized glass panes of its iconic exterior after cracking due to thermal stress. The home, part of a 14-building compound on the bucolic 49-acre site, now functions as a historic house museum run by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Originally completed in 1949, the Glass House features floor-to-ceiling plate glass exterior walls held in place by steel stops and black-painted steel piers of stock H-beams that expressed the mass-produced, industrial materials employed for its design. In the summer of 2019, one of the home’s 18’-0” x 7’-10” panes of existing glazing cracked due to thermal stress. The stress was caused by temperature differentials and a lack of movement within the original steel frame, said Ashley R. Wilson, FAIA, the Graham Gund Architect at the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the lead architect for the glazing replacement project. While the replacement of original building fabric is often a contentious topic in the field of historic preservation, Wilson noted that the glass that was replaced was “likely an early-generation replacement” because it was 3/8” annealed glass, meaning that it was heat-strengthened glass—a technology not available yet in the late 1940s. The original glass, Wilson pointed out in conversation, was likely a single pane of 1/4” polished plate glass, per 1948 drawings, and would have been “beautifully clear and flat, but fragile.” Although the team was not replacing the original glass, the project was not without complexity. The new glazing, provided by Canadian glass manufacturer Agnora, needed to meet ANSI safety standards, accommodate wind load (particularly challenging because of the glass’s large dimensions), avoid overloading of the existing steel supporting rail, and, of course, visually match the original design intent as closely as possible. To accomplish these goals, the selected glass was slightly thicker, at 9/16” rather than 3/8”, and laminated with an inner layer of PVB for safety, said Wilson. To avoid potential corrosion of the steel and clouding of the glass in case the inner PVB layer gets exposed to moisture, the team added weeps to the glass pocket. The removal of the existing glazing and install of the new presented a new set of challenges: The old glass was prone to more cracking, requiring extra care in its removal. In order to extract the glass, the steel stops also needed to be removed. The steel frames were cleaned, prepped, and painted before the system was reinstalled. Because construction took place in November 2019 to minimize conflicts with tours and programming, the workspace also needed to be heated and protected from the elements, explains Wilson. What’s more, she noted, “the west wall glass had to use a crane to lift the glass unit over the building,” Wilson contends that the thermal stress that caused the glass to crack was not due to extreme temperature swings due to climate change but rather to “but an inherent weakness and limitations of 3/8” thick glass at such a large size.” But despite the unique nature of the Glass House—and its oversized glazing units—there are clear lessons to be learned from the project about considerations when replacing glass at midcentury buildings. “At the Glass House, care was taken by the preservation team to analyze the replacement glass options, thickness, performance, and installation to match the original design while improving performance and complying with current safety codes,” said Wilson. While the replacement project focused more on safety and appearance rather than sustainability goals, it did take advantage of how glass technology has evolved since the 1940s and 1950s. More broadly, new glazing products such as IGUs and more effective, longer-lasting sealants can significantly improve energy efficiency for mid-century buildings, allowing for better buildings that are more highly adapted for what the 21st century will bring—global warming or otherwise.
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Northern (de)lights

Henning Larsen unveils seaside museum in Norway’s northernmost reaches
Copenhagen-based Henning Larsen, experts in sustainable and site-specific modern Scandinavian architecture, has released plans for a luminous waterfront museum in Tromsø, Norway. Among the top design considerations Henning Larsen faced when conceiving the Arctic Museum of Norway in the surprisingly mild city of Tromsø—the third largest city located north of the Arctic Circle—were: Seamlessly integrating the structure into the rugged surrounding landscape, respecting and reflecting the rich local cultural heritage, and artfully displaying the skeleton of a very large blue whale. Suspended from the ceiling of the site's largest exhibition hall, said whale skeleton will be the main, impossible-to-miss archaeological attraction at the Arctic Museum of Norway. The breadth of the museum’s collection, however, will be quite extensive, as it combines Tromsø University’s cultural artifacts and natural history archives. Both of these collections are currently held separately in different buildings and have outgrown them. The museum is expected to be one of the largest cultural institutions north of the Arctic Circle when it opens. (Construction is expected to commence in 2023.) As a press release explains, the new museum, located a short walk  from the city center down a sloping hill, will “be an anchorpoint in a new cultural path in Tromsø.” This “cultural path” will dead-end at the harbor-hugging museum in an attempt to reactivate Tromsø’s scenic but largely overlooked waterfront. “Despite being such a visible presence in the city, Tromsø’s waterfront is largely absent from the public realm,” said Henning Larsen partner Peer Teglgaard Jeppesen in a statement. “The museum, with its focus on the natural and cultural history of Norway’s northernmost areas including the Arctic, and its cascading site, makes a first move back down to its shores to celebrate the region's history.” Similar to other Henning Larsen projects, the Arctic Museum of Norway will be hyper site-sensitive. Wedged into a rolling hillside just above the shoreline, the museum will be composed of a quartet of freestanding but snugly situated slate-base buildings, each topped with “translucent masses whose facades are composed of cassette-like modules that can be individually maintained and replaced.” “Opaque and milky in the daylight, they transform into a cluster of glowing beacons on the waterfront at night,” wrote Henning Larsen. “These delicate, glowing masses atop the slate base reference the indigenous Saami’s lávvu homes, whose canvas walls radiate light on the frozen winter earth.” According to the firm, the “landscape is not just part of the site but part of the exhibitions” and doubles as a highly publicly accessible gathering spot, where various features, including a tiered seating area directly adjacent to a small beach and promenade, invite locals and visitors alike to relax and socialize. “The landscape will be open to visitors and maintained throughout the year, offering a calendric view of the area’s natural heritage. Connection to the landscape, both in geography and in flora, is at the backbone of the design, with outdoor paths doubling as botanical passages and courtyards serving as pocket parks. The parkland around the site offers space for experimentation, study, and discovery and acts as public demonstration for the expertise housed within the museum itself.” Henning Larsen has designed numerous cultural institutions and museums across Scandinavia including the Moesgaard Museum in Aarhus, Denmark. This, however, is the firm’s first project of any kind in Tromsø.
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In The Lows

Hurricane Maria memorial unveiled for Battery Park City
New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo has released renderings for the new Hurricane Maria memorial in Lower Manhattan. Designed by Puerto Rico-based architect Segundo Cardona and Puerto Rican artist Antonio Martorell, the glass spiral aims to be a symbol of resiliency for the Puerto Rican community. Located on Chambers Street overlooking Rockefeller Park, a multicolored glass curve will mimic both the spiral shape of a hurricane and a shell to represent protection against the elements. The iridescent panels will be painted with the words of Farewell from Welfare Island, a poem by Puerto Rican poet Julia de Burgos, written in New York City in 1953. The panels will fan to create the rotating star of the Puerto Rican flag. “We felt committed to working hard to bring together architecture, art, and literature into one single powerful message that we hope will engage and invoke reflection on the fate of the many victims,” Cardona and Martorell said in a joint press statement. The 10-person Hurricane Maria Memorial Commission selected Cardona and Martorell’s design from among the 120 competition entries. The governor’s office announced the commission as the latest development in New York State's support of Puerto Ricans since the hurricane, having dedicated approximately $13 million for over 11,000 displaced victims in New York. “New York stands with Puerto Rico today, tomorrow and always--and we are proud to celebrate and further strengthen the connection between the Empire State and Puerto Rico,” wrote Governor Cuomo in a press release. Community and even committee members pushed back against Cuomo’s site selection, citing the multiple monuments already located in Battery City Park. Critics have also voiced concerns that the memorial should be built in a neighborhood with stronger Puerto Rican ties. Controversy over the memorial isn’t limited to its location in New York City but expands to its timing and appropriateness. Students from the University of Puerto Rico School of Architecture issued counterproposals following the competition launch in 2019. The students created photomontages depicting U.S. memorials overlaid with FEMA tarps and wreckage to make a statement about how the destruction of Hurricane Maria was still ongoing; the images suggest that it’s not time yet for a memorial in New York, but for renewed reconstruction efforts in Puerto Rico. Throughout 2018 and 2019, the state of New York sent 1,150 volunteers to Puerto Rico to rebuild 246 homes and over 1,000 people to restore power. No doubt this wave of humanitarian aid was necessary to the stabilization of Puerto Rico, but over two-and-a-half years later, tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans are still without functional housing. Despite pushback, the $700,000 memorial is set for completion in early 2021.
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Gone But Not Forgotten

Vittorio Gregotti’s death marked the end of an era
Vittorio Gregotti’s passing on the 15th of March truly marks the end of an era. Gregotti is considered by many to be an outstanding figure whose career profoundly transformed the architectural practice in Italy and beyond. Known for his stern commitment to modernism, Gregotti decried the profession’s downward slide into frivolity. The mantra “form follows function” had lost, according to Gregotti, all utility: The market became for all practical purposes the substitute for function. This would lead to the corruption of the design process itself, bringing Gregotti to famously declare in 2008 that the time had come for “the end of design.” Nonetheless, in his own practice, Gregotti remained true to his beliefs, succeeding in culling major architectural and urban design commissions throughout Europe and Asia. Vittorio Gregotti’s reputation reached well beyond architecture—he was also a respected art theorist, editor, curator, and teacher. Gregotti’s interests led him on an intellectual trajectory that presents some contradictions however, at least to the extent that his convictions on architecture didn’t necessarily line up with his broader view on art culture. Gregotti, I would argue, benefited from his close contacts with two intellectual juggernauts of his day, Umberto Eco and Manfredo Tafuri. The first, a noted philosopher, semiologist, and writer, the latter the Marxist architectural historian and theorist. Umberto Eco’s influence on Gregotti in the mid-sixties helped shape the architect’s view on art theory, design, and communications. Manfredo Tafuri, in his assessment of Gregotti a decade later, attempted to expurgate these earlier mediatic dalliances in order to cement Gregotti’s position as one of the forerunners of a rigorous urban scale architectural practice. From my perspective, the 1964 Milan Triennale Tempo Libero (Free Time), co-curated by Vittorio Gregotti and Umberto Eco represents a turning point in the history of experimental exhibitions, one of the rare joint endeavors between an architect and a philosopher. This odd pairing shares similarities with another strikingly revolutionary exhibition organized in the mid-eighties at the Pompidou Center in Paris, when Jean-Francois Lyotard and Thiery Chaput co-curated Les Immatériaux. To create this exhibition at the Triennale, Gregotti and Eco plumbed a brilliant network of artists, philosophers, writers, and theorists who loosely belonged to Gruppo 63. Libero Tempo explored the city and the countryside, green spaces, sport and spectacles, and presented prototypes for domestic and leisure products. The design for the exhibition formed a procession of galleries, and spread into large muraled rooms and led into a spectacular kaleidoscopic volume—a darkened trapezoidal space featuring a multitude of reflected projections. In this hall of prisms, a singular filmmaker, Tinto Brass, then a young upstart recently back from Paris and deeply impressed by the French nouvelle vague cinema, created two short films on Tempo Libero and Tempo del lavoro. The exhibition installed audio works, including musical performances in homage to James Joyce, composed by Luciano Berio. Joyce remained a key figure in Eco’s open work universe. Clearly Gregotti absorbed Eco’s critical understanding of how communications and the mass media were transforming society, along with the importance of bridging the sciences and the arts to better glimpse the future. Gregotti’s fluency with the vast creative world outside architecture, surely bolstered his role when he became president of the Venice Biennale in the mid-seventies. This open-mindedness doesn’t come across much in Gregotti’s curriculum, however. This probably has a lot to do with Manfredo Tafuri, who authored Vittorio Gregotti: Progetti e architetture for the Electa series on contemporary architecture in 1982. Tafuri’s introductory essay “Le avventure dell’oggetto: architetture di Vittorio Gregotti,” (roughly translated as “The adventures of the object: architectures of Vittorio Gregotti” ) went a long way to readdress the contradictions inherent in Gregotti’s practice. First, Tafuri sought to undercut the story of the 1964 Triennale, no doubt because of his general antipathy for Umberto Eco. One should by experience be cautious when translating Tafuri into English, but if I can take a venture, Tafuri literally calls out Eco’s Open Work text before launching into a particularly scathing assessment of the exhibition: “The public therefore bombarded and violated. The sadism that dribbles out…” Tafuri goes on to qualify his view: “At the triennial of 64 the work of the architects, of the semiologists, of the visual operators attempted an inter-coda operation in an attempt to dominate and possess in its entirety the mechanism of technological broadcasters, to build a language of plurality and ephemerality, to operate a multiversum without information centers.” Tafuri here is making a clean sweep of Gregotti’s involvement in this exhibition, considering it a failed attempt to properly harness the protocols of communication. But Tafuri then rescues Gregotti, by demonstrating that when the architect joins with Franco Purini in Palermo in 1970, he becomes transformed, moving ideologically towards anti-utopianism while simultaneously rejecting the facile seductions of the megastructure. Tafuri further declares that Gregotti moved empirically towards an introspective architecture about architecture and territory. Returning to the mysterious essay title concerning Gregotti’s practice, Tafuri states: “From the fetish of the object to the crisis of the object, therefore: the Gregottian arc of research recounts the stages in the historically marked process, experimenting with diverse formal organizations…” I am not suggesting that Gregotti was in any way naïve about how others might have shaped his past. There is no question in my mind that Gregotti welcomed Tafuri’s critical reinterpretation, including the strategic distancing of his contribution to the making of the 1964 Triennale. This shift in tendencies is apparent when Umberto Eco and Vittorio Gregotti meet amicably on the pages of Lotus in 2008; when the two now older and wiser men bring up the discussion on the end of design. While Eco deftly kills the idea of form follows function once and for all, Gregotti falls back on the sanctity of the decorative arts, explaining that design had succumbed to a false aesthetic premise to begin with. This time there was no real meeting of minds, merely a retrenchment on Gregotti’s part. Nonetheless, this does not dismiss the importance of their collaboration back in 1964, and the incredible vision that Eco and Gregotti succeeded in communicating. Would we all have such contradictions in our closets.
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Not Again!?

Landmark Willi Smith exhibition (almost) opens at Cooper Hewitt
In what might be one of the darkest ironies of the COVID-19 saga in New York City, the Cooper Hewitt has been forced to close the Willi Smith: Street Couture retrospective before it opens, the first museum exhibition of the influential American designer Willi Smith (1948–1987), whose career was cut short when he was killed by the AIDS crisis in 1987. Smith, who in 1976 founded WilliWear with partner Laurie Mallet, is often credited as a pioneer—if not the creator of—streetwear, which today is nearly ubiquitous, uniting economic and social classes with a blend of high fashion and everyday-inspired clothing. Through collaborations with artists, designers and performers, such as Juan Downey, Dan Friedman, Keith Haring, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Les Levine, Dianne McIntyre, and Nam June Paik, Smith captured the creativity and spirit of the cities where culture was being formed. It is this marrying of the avant-garde and the world-at-large that brought together Smith with James Wines and Alison Sky of the art and architecture collaborative Sculpture in the Environment (SITE) built a series of showrooms that served as the backdrop for the gesamtkunstwerk of WilliWear. After seeing a window display at the Rizzoli bookstore designed by SITE, Willi enlisted the group to design a series of showrooms from 1982 to 1987, using found objects from around the streets of Manhattan. As members of the Environmental Art movement, SITE specialized in bringing art into places where you would least expect it, and retail stores were one of their specialties, most famously the BEST department stores. The exhibition, curated by Alexandra Cunningham was designed by Wines along with Sam Chermayeff Architects, who built a modified version of the original stores. The communication designers poly-mode have also contributed a very clear and fresh graphic solution to the display. The show was originally scheduled to be on until Sunday, October 25 2020, but the situation remains fluid. Note: Effective March 14, the Cooper Hewitt is temporarily closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.
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Independently Architectural

Independent Architecture builds practice in the suburbs
The following interview was conducted as part of “Building Practice,” a professional elective course at Syracuse University School of Architecture taught by Molly Hunker and Kyle Miller, and now an AN interview series. On September 19, 2019, Tianyi Hang and Yifei Luo, students at Syracuse University, interviewed Paul Andersen, principal of Independent Architecture. The following interview was edited by Kyle Miller and AN for clarity. Tianyi Hang and Yifei Luo: In this interview we’d like to focus on a few recurring themes in your work—repetition and difference, and engagement with the ordinary. Before addressing these issues, we’ll begin with a few questions about your general approach to practice. So, to begin… What does it mean to practice architecture? Paul Andersen: Generally speaking, I think that to practice architecture is to contribute something to the discourse—in the form of models, essays, drawings, gossip, or buildings. The goal is to open up new ways of thinking and designing, which is different than, say, practicing piano, which is more geared toward refinement. What do you think makes your office unique when compared to other emerging offices? The most obvious difference is that we’re in Denver, which is on the fringe of the field, at best. When it comes to buildings, Denver has a lot of corporate schlock. But it also has some pretty good suburban architecture, which influences the office’s culture and work. The suburbs’ pop sensibility is fantastic… it tends to be accessible and unique, so we use it as a model for how we work. Pop practices accept that their work isn’t essential. It acquires value when people like it—and those people might be friends, experts in the field, the general public, or any number of groups. This seems like a good approach for architecture, too. If people don’t absolutely need great design, we can feel free to do strange, irrational projects... and even to fail. We also borrow material from the suburbs. Sometimes we incorporate everyday objects, like giant party balloons, statues, and letterforms. In other cases, we use a familiar material in an unorthodox way, like in the project that we’re doing with wood framing at the US Pavilion this summer with Paul Preissner. And occasionally we look for new design principles in idiosyncratic examples of ordinary suburban buildings. Who commissions your work? Do you have to spend a lot of time finding work or do clients come to you? Some of both. There is a lot of chance involved in finding the type of projects that we enjoy. Some offices have a structured approach to finding work, but I think that sometimes it’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. A related issue is the low percentage of projects that we actually finish. Of all of the projects that we've started, only about 10 percent to 20 percent have been built. In the end, I’d say that finding clients who want to do the same kinds of things that you do is what matters most. What types of projects do you hope to work on in the future? More houses and arts projects would be great. Mainly I hope to keep designing, curating, and writing. We’d like to ask some questions about the Motherhouse project, which we understand was commissioned by your mother and recently completed construction in Denver. Congratulations!  On your website, you reference plan diagrams of houses completed by Palladio, Le Corbusier, and Ungers. What is the role of these projects, and of precedent, in the design of Motherhouse? I was looking at the Ungers House in Cologne before we started the Motherhouse project. I often hear other architects describe it as a minimalist project. Even Ungers described it as an experiment in making a totally abstract house… where you can't recognize materials or scale or even tell the top from the bottom. Oddly enough, the minimalist tilt is completely undone when you look at the plan, which has an outrageous number of doors. I think that there are 178 doors… including six in the hedges. So, there's the minimalist exterior in contrast with an interior that's beyond excessive. I like the bizarre combination of rational and irrational design in that house… it turned us on to some aspects of Motherhouse. At the same time that I was looking at Ungers, I was also looking at houses in Englewood, Colorado, that are quirky, very odd 1960s houses. The point of Motherhouse was to merge these two references… to do a suburban American version of the Ungers house. The walls have the same thickness as the Unger's house, but instead of that thickness being used as a set of foyers, it's used for closets, which we needed because we couldn't build a basement on that lot. The water table is a bit too high. So, the first floor of the house ends up being a single room lined with doors—no walls. The second floor is a more or less rotationally symmetrical arrangement of rooms that all have different ceilings. Throughout the house are examples of excessive repetition… in the gables, doors, stairs, and colors, for example. Was the open ground floor plan a requirement set by your mother? My mother will not actually live in the house. As I’m sure you know, there is a tradition of architects early in their careers building houses for their mothers, because it's a moment when your mother is the only one who thinks you can actually do whatever strange thing it is that you want to do. So, Corb designed and built a house for his mother; so did Richard Rodgers, Robert Venturi, Charles Moore, Harry Seidler, Charles Gwathmey…. this list goes on. In my case, my mother didn't want a house for herself, but she wanted to support me by commissioning the design and construction. We're going to sell the house; and as soon as we sell it, we’ll do another one. It'll be an ongoing project. Earlier, you mentioned that you're drawing inspiration from the suburbs. What has been the response to Motherhouse from people living in Denver? Do they see the connection between your unique design and some of the familiar aspects of houses it’s inspired by? So far, most people’s initial response is usually confusion, even dislike. The work that we do in schools gets farther out of the mainstream than we realize sometimes. It could be that there is something unnerving when an architect messes with the familiarity and comfort that people expect in a house—especially in a suburban house. So, for example, the extra flat facade is a problem for a lot of people. They don't know what to make of it. However, when I get a chance to talk to people about the house, to explain the design strategy, they usually come around. They understand that the stripes on the facade and the 12:12 gabled roof are already in the neighborhood, in Victorian bungalow houses that have been there for a century. They can see that this house is just a different version of the typical houses in the neighborhood. Across many of your projects, we see recurring use of strong geometric figures in plan and three-dimensional figuration… as opposed to complex three-dimensional form. Can you talk a bit about your interest in figuration? Are these features intentionally incorporated? It’s a pretty deliberate reaction to things that I learned back in graduate school at UCLA. In my second year, I got a chance to work with Greg Lynn on his Embryological Houses. He had a brilliant argument regarding variation and difference, how the project inverted the Modernist kit-of-parts logic… but I always thought that the argument would have been stronger with more figurative geometry. Working with geometry, and curvature in particular, is an interest that continues to play out in many of our projects. Teaching at the University of Illinois – Chicago, where a focus on figure and shape has been an important part of the discourse during the past decade has definitely helped. For years, we intentionally limited figuration to the plan in our projects. Motherhouse is the first one where we are more aggressively pursuing figuration in elevation and section. You mentioned that only 10 to 20 percent of your projects get built. What happens when a project stops prior to completion? Do ideas find their way into other projects? And what about the temporary installation projects… do those concepts evolve into building projects? Do you reuse the materials? A few years ago, Paul P. and I designed a structure made of two barns for a contemporary arts festival in Denver. The barns were only up for a day… actually more like eight hours. They were made out of an off-the-shelf steel barn panel kit. For years I’ve been trying to build houses made of the same system, just assembled differently. It hasn’t happened yet. In other projects, we’ve gotten all the way through construction documents before cancellation. There are many ideas from those projects that we hope to incorporate into future work. Even with projects that don’t get built, there is research that we do in terms of material or structural systems that will become valuable again someday. There are also some bubblegum projects… I have yet to build a cruciform column out of bubblegum, but I will someday. In another interview, you stated that you're not as interested in creating good architecture as you are in creating interesting architecture. What did you mean by that? What I meant by good was moralizing. There’s a lot of talk these days about what architects should be doing. I got into architecture for the complete opposite reason. I like the idea that if you're a good architect, then you’re figuring out what you shouldn’t do. You go against the grain and attempt to open up new ways for others to see the world. Sometimes, the only way that can happen is by pursuing the unfamiliar and the unexpected, and even the uncomfortable. What has been the most rewarding moment in your professional career, or what’s the most rewarding aspect of practicing architecture? I really enjoy the surprises when I see a project get built. You know… there’s stuff that you drew and modeled and imagined, and then all of a sudden, there it is. But sometimes it isn’t what you expected. It turns out to be weaker or stronger in some way. In the Motherhouse and a few other recent projects, we’ve been trying to see if we can produce qualities through excessive, consistent repetition, rather than variation, or repetition and difference. We don’t really know what kind of sensibility will come out of it until it’s built. So, we do it and we get to find out. I really love that. And also, that in any given day, we might deal with bubblegum, framing plans, and Catholic theology, all with equal seriousness and irreverence.
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No Meet or Greet

AIA postpones 2020 national conference in Los Angeles over coronavirus
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) announced it will postpone its upcoming annual conference due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Slated to be held May 14 through 16, the AIA was expecting scores of attendees to arrive in Los Angeles for the Conference on Architecture 2020 but is now considering alternative options.  In a statement, AIA 2020 President Jane Frederick said the decision was made in conjunction with numerous event cancellations and other closures around the United States:
“AIA has been closely monitoring directives from city, county, and state officials, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization throughout this crisis,” she said. “The health and safety of our members, colleagues, exhibitors, and speakers is paramount and we feel compelled to postpone the annual conference to minimize the risk to our valued participants and partners. By making this decision in advance, we also hope to minimize any stress or inconvenience for our participants and partners.” 
The organization said that it’s looking into potentially rescheduling the event and will issue refunds to registrants for now. All exhibitors and sponsors will be able to receive a refund, too, or gain credit for the rescheduled conference this year, or the 2021 event scheduled for Philadelphia.  These details come on the heels of various local AIA chapters deciding to close their doors as well. In Manhattan, the AIA New York and the Center for Architecture shuttered its office and gallery space on Saturday and will remain closed through March 28. On Friday, The Boston Society of Architects announced it too would close off its gallery to the public for 30 days and its office areas until further notice.  Other industry-related events in the United States have been canceled or postponed including the 2020 Tall + Urban Innovation Conference in Chicago, as well as programming at several universities. Speaking of students, last week the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) announced it would adjust its testing policies due to the global pandemic. NCARB stated it would waive any fees associated with rescheduling the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) through April 30. 
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Sliding Doors

Michael Wang explores the multiverse in The World Around
In 1964, Julio Cortázar published his famous short story Axolotl, the tale of a man living in Paris fascinated by an aquatic creature that he observes in the aquarium of the Jardin des Plantes. The axolotl, a slow-moving amphibian that spends its entire life in a larval stage, and seems almost like a plant or a mineral, looks like it came from the prehistoric ages. The story’s protagonist starts to understand the different spaces and temporalities embedded in the axolotl: Both the man and the axolotl seem to share the same universe, but, in fact, their bodies encompass different notions of their surroundings, tearing them apart. They don’t share the same universe because the way they can relate to their environments and their temporalities are unreconcilable. Yet they coexist. They are part of a multiverse. In 2017, the artist and architect Michael Wang gave the axolotl a main role for his project Extinct in the Wild at Fondazione Prada in Milan. Wang showed the mutual dependency of these multiverses shared by different species and the ideologies behind them. The axolotl is now an endangered species that has vanished from its natural habitat and lives almost exclusively under artificial conditions in zoos and aquariums, in scientific facilities for research, and in homes as exotic pets. Humans are responsible for their disappearance in the wild, but they also owe their continued existence to human care. This relationship attests to the complex understanding of how the Anthropocene has affected a multispecies shared environment and the need to comprehend its challenges. It is not enough to build an immediate response to the climate crisis that comes from human beings or to come back to an “original” state of harmony, but a structural change that surpasses an anthropocentric view—with human beings and their standard of living as the center. It is necessary to build a notion of the world that takes into account the agency of other species. The conception of a multiverse and the mutual dependency of species has been the center of Wang’s work for the last few years, presented at The World Around in January of this year. In Extinct in New York (organized by Swiss Institute, where the installation permanently resides, and on view at LMCC’s Arts Center at Governor Island in 2019) he introduced a series of plants that had been eradicated from New York City’s landscape. This ecological catastrophe was the result of centuries of hunting, harvesting, and building craziness. As Wang pointed out:When the Croton Aqueduct opened in 1842, the outflux of wastewater suffocated the seaweeds of New York Harbor. The air changed. Coal smoke poisoned the lichens that had hung from hemlocks; a century later these trees too nearly vanished, plagued by an insect introduced with ornamental plants. Forests of steel rose in their stead, as human habitation stretched skyward.” But Wang doesn’t understand the ecosystem in a dialectic way, based on the binarism of human/non-human confrontations; rather he highlights the new environments created by this relationship. Subways that maintain optimal temperatures for rats; pigeons that found in the skyscrapers a shelter not far from their ancestors’ nests on Mediterranean cliffs; heated living rooms that welcome new flora, etc. The territory, and their inhabitants, are both techno-social recompositions. This project is not about restoration, nor about the idea of a harmonic past. Wang rather conceives it as a life-support system that doesn’t try to reinstate the previous ecosystem where species like Zostera marina (native of the marine meadows in New York Bay) or the Helonias bullata (last collected in Jamaica Bay in 1883) have disappeared from their original habitat. This was also the basis for another project, The Drowned World, that Wang presented at Manifesta Palermo in 2018 (also shown at The World Around). In it, an artificial forest assembled from plants closely related to those of the Carboniferous period grows from the industrial ruins of a gasworks. These plants once formed swamplands that stretched across the globe. Over millennia, their buried remains hardened into the very coal used at the gasworks. As this coal was heated and burned, carbon captured from the air 300 million years ago was again released, and an ancient atmosphere was in part restored. In Wang’s projects, all the violence, the displacements, the uneven balance of powers, and the colonization of the territory are confronted. The world is designed by one species and for one species. But human beings are not self-contained. Their bodies are also part of other species, from the varied microorganisms that inhabit them to the ever-changing habitats they share with other non-human agents. The challenge now is to understand the mutual dependency between species in a multiverse.