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Straight-Up

Utopia to just-in-time production: a new book on the history of urban factories

This compendious, extensively illustrated slab of a book tackles, among other things, the development of the factory system, working conditions and working class resistance, utopian planning and modernist architectural design, the effects of suburbanization of industry, just-in-time production and containerization, fashion, urbanism, gentrification, and craft through such an onrush of dense information that it is often hard to ascertain exactly what the book is about. The nearest thing to a common thread—other than chronology—is an exploration of the factory in the city. That is, the role of industry in urbanism, what it means for a city to be a place of material production, how that production is housed and how its workers live and work, and, crucially, whether or not there is a future for urban manufacturing after 70 years of decentralization and inner-urban de-industrialization in Europe and the United States.

This central thread is so interesting that much of the rest of the book—basically a history of design and factories, familiar from the likes of Gillian Darley’s Factory—could have been cut away to make the book more lean. The eclecticism of the source material could do with major pruning, and the editing is often careless: Robert Owen’s Clydeside Utopia was New Lanark, not New Harmony, the account of Chicago slaughterhouses in The Jungle was written by Upton Sinclair, not Sinclair Lewis, to name two of several slips. Nonetheless, this excess might be the point—an appropriately daunting mesh of interlinked processes and stories. The question of why the factory left the city is put down to wartime paranoia and social planning; Rappaport takes the Jane Jacobs line that zoning industry out of inner cities was unnecessary and damaging to urban economies, which may have been true, but as recent histories like John Grindrod’s Concretopia might remind us, urban industry in dense 19th century cities like Glasgow was often extremely toxic and unsafe to the working class communities who had to live next door to it. However, her case here draws also on more radical sources, such as French Marxist philosopher Henri Lefebvre’s assertion of the “right to the city,” and especially the inner city, being cleared of undesirables in Lefebvre’s 1960s Paris. The end result of “the removal of industries  away from public view” was also the removal of certain groups of people. As counter-examples, she traces a history of integrated factory settlements, like Berlin’s modernist Siemensstadt, to suggest that there were other possible approaches than zoning and suburbanization.

Beginning with the wartime U.S.—with its vast, single-story complexes like Willow Run—and continuing even through socially experimental factories like Volvo’s more democratic, collaborative factory at Kalmar, the factory left the city and settled into sprawling, off-motorway sites, expansive of land and elusive of view. Perhaps the most exciting parts of the book are Rappaport’s studies of some “vertical urban factories,” as opposed to the flat, hidden, exurban factories where most things get made—in the west, at any rate. These go from 1820s Manchester, where, in Schinkel’s words, “the life of the city runs along the massive houses of the cotton mills, to Manhattan’s astonishing, multifunctional Starrett-Lehigh Building, where a train could enter the building from West 27th Street and proceed to the elevators located in the central core, load or unload onto trucks and the exit onto 28th Street,” and to more recent examples like Zaha Hadid’s BMW Leipzig, where workers walk past the souvenir shop on their way to work. These genuinely do feel like a better way of designing production into cities than placing “pancakes” on the edge of motorways—a means of planning that makes production and distribution networks (and their workers) visible, and by implication, changeable.

However, many cities outside of the U.S. and Europe really are made up of vertical urban factories even today—Shenzhen and Dhaka being a particular case in point. The 400,000-strong Foxconn factory, integrated with eight-to-a-room dormitories is one she describes at length, while the multi-story textile factories of Dhaka are sketched out more lightly, though the fact that the worst industrial accident in decades, at Rana Plaza, took place in a vertical urban factory would seem to temper its validity as a means to create fairer cities. Although Rappaport never loses sight of the consequences of design and industrial processes on actual workers’working conditions, the emphasis falls too much on best practices. These include the new vertical urban factories that exist in the west—craft beer breweries in Canada, bike factories in Detroit, American Apparel in the U.S.—which use a seductive combination of adaptive re-use, renewed craft traditions, and inner city sites, which somewhat masksthe fact that they’re just as much part of the process of inner-city gentrification as Willow Run was part of post-war suburbanization. None of them can even begin to offer the quantity of jobs once offered to the cities they stand in that the motor industry or textile industry once did; she points here to a gap between celebrated middle class “makers” and invisible proletarian“‘workers.” The last quarter of the book features many examples of beautifully designed, sustainable, semi-automated actories integrated into the city; but whether these could ever have the role in most people’s lives that the factory once did is a very different matter.

Vertical Urban Factory Nina Rappaport, Actar Publishing, $64.95

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“House for everyone”

World Architecture Festival program announced! Arena Berlin, 16-18 November 2016
The World Architecture Festival brings together over 2,500 of the world’s leading architects and presents live 411 shortlisted projects by newly discovered architects alongside some of the most respected names in architecture. This year’s theme of WAF is “House for everyone.” This is prompted by a variety of influences, not least the situation of displaced communities, like war refugees and refugees from natural and man-made disasters. There's a growing understanding of how demographics and global urbanization are forcing changes in the way we think about “housing”. Wolf Prix will discuss “What’s changed? How we live now and how we will live tomorrow?” How population movements, demographic shifts and lifestyle trends have informed how we live collectively and as individuals. How this has impacted on the function, design and servicing of dwellings today and how these factors will affect the housing, and life, of tomorrow. View our interactive day by day guide: https://www.worldarchitecturefestival.com/resources/waf-2016-day-day-guide Limited tickets are available now: www.worldarchitecturefestival.com
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Winging It

A new book explores the formative ideas that shaped major American art museums

Kathleen Curran uses the erudite German term Kulturgeschichte for the kind of art museum display known more commonly as composite or contextual installation. Her research has unearthed the minutiae of U.S. museum history, adding to the extensive, existing publications about its European precedents.

The author starts with the well-known roots of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (called the South Kensington Museum when it moved to its first permanent building in 1857) in industry and the mechanical arts. Installation of the collections was based on materials and technique, and Curran fails to tell the reader that the change to a cultural, rather than a craft, display began to take place in the mid-1930s. 

In contrast with the V&A, museums in Munich, Berlin, and Zurich had adopted chronological arrangements of objects in period settings—also favored by directors and board members in the United States. Likewise, the Americans looked to national museums like the Musée de Cluny in Paris. Their interest in emphasizing the era of each gallery was guided by the Cluny’s unusual chronological arrangements, exhibits of sculpture and architectural elements in the period style of the rooms where they were exhibited, and illumination that heightened the historical emphasis.

Considering that early museum installations were not photographed, the author has done a good job in supplementing existing black and white illustrations with plans of the buildings under discussion. Within the text, figure numbers printed in red are helpful.

Upon its completion in 1902, the Boston Museum of Fine Art took the lead in what Curran describes as setting “the standards for the first great era of public art museum construction in the U.S.” Among other fine points, it is fascinating to learn that in contrast to the whirlwind visits of comparable trips undertaken by search committees today, the museum’s president, building committee chairman, and the architects they had chosen (Sturgis Wheelwright) spent three months in Europe, visiting every major museum and gallery there. Their investigation decided the group on the Hessisches Landesmuseum in Darmstadt (Alfred Messel, 1906), a Kulturgeschichte museum, as a model.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City followed suit. In describing its beginnings, Curran brings to light the outstanding men responsible for it. Wilhelm R. Valentiner, a young and talented Dutch Rembrandt scholar almost single-handedly created the Met’s new decorative arts department, where he began to work in 1907 at the request of John Pierpont Morgan. Valentiner, was in turn influenced by the formidable Wilhelm von Bode, director of the Kaiser-Friedrich Museum in Berlin, whom he assisted for two years. Then and now—after a sensitive renovation completed in 2006—the Kaiser-Friedrich Museum is a touchstone of high-quality composite arrangements of decorative arts, painting, and predominantly, sculpture.

When it opened in 1910, the Met’s Wing of Decorative Arts designed by McKim, Mead and White was the first part of the museum building planned with direct reference to the objects it would contain. Based on the open court plan of the Musée des Art Decoratifs in Paris, the New York museum followed the ideals of Kulturgeschichte that were expressed throughout the Boston MFA.

Morgan’s relationship with Francis Goodwin (president of the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, 1890–1919), another luminary in this constellation of brilliant museum enthusiasts, produced strong architectural similarities between the two buildings. I, for one, had never noticed that the Morgan Hall in Hartford (by Benjamin Wistar Morris) is almost an exact replica, although slightly smaller, of the Met’s Decorative Art Wing. 

A chapter devoted to midwestern art museums also contains riveting nuggets of information. One, for example, explains the origin of “period rooms” in Minneapolis (inaugurated in 1915), where Valentiner’s associate curator, Joseph Breck, was the first director. Breck was able to include paintings in his composite displays, something Valentiner had not been allowed to do at the Met. For the Minneapolis director “period rooms” contained objects selected to represent a specific period of art; they were not rooms transferred intact from historical houses.

According to Curran, Cleveland’s museum (1916), which turned out to be a condensed version of the Boston MFA, set the standard for a series of midwestern museums. The garden court in Cleveland, with walls designed to reflect the artistic periods of adjoining galleries, was particularly influential. An interesting issue raised in this chapter is the contentious relationship that developed at times between the museum architect and its staff, with critics divided as to which should take the lead.

Curran considers the galleries devoted to American art the greatest evidence of Kulturgeschichte’s impact. Beginning with the display of this country’s art at the Hudson-Fulton Celebration Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in 1909, she describes how Kulturgeschichte installations combined with elements of European national museums influenced the American Wing. Opened in 1924, the Met wing was among many near contemporary ones that “embraced historical rooms and composite displays as the preferred method for presenting life and art in colonial America.”

Fiske Kimball, the prodigious scholar of American history, enters the narrative here in his seminal role in the creation of the Metropolitan Museum’s American Wing. He exerted an equally decisive influence on the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where he became director in 1925, and mapped out an alternation of period rooms and composite display galleries in a triumph of Kulturgeschichte.

Curran’s work on the invention of the American art museum calls to mind Mary Anne Staniszewski’s illuminating history of installations at NYC’s Museum of Modern Art. Curran’s concern is historical fine and decorative art; Staniszewki’s is modern art. For all those interested in museums and their origins, these behind-the-scenes accounts are deeply engaging, not least in their revelation of how what goes around, eventually comes around.

The Invention of the American Art Museum From Craft to Kulturgeschichte, 1870–1930 Kathleen Curran, Getty Trust Research Institute, $49.95

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A World of Fragile Parts

The Victoria & Albert Museum grapples with art, architecture, and authenticity at the Venice Biennale

As the Palmyra arch—destroyed by ISIS and recreated by archeologists and scientists—tours the world, preservation has been a hot topic this year. Building on this fervent global discussion, the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) from London exhibited A World of Fragile Parts at this year’s Biennale in Venice.

Located in the Arsenale, the exhibition was designed by London architecture studio Ordinary Architecture and curated by Brendan Cormier. This was also the first time the V&A and La Biennale di Venezia had worked together. A World of Fragile Parts focuses on the phenomena of copies and raises questions about authenticity and the act of emulating artifacts. Does copying result in fakes? Rip-offs? Or acts of cultural preservation?

The exhibition illustrates how museums have long been displaying duplicates. The V&A itself did so from the 1800s onwards by creating plaster casts of art and sculpture work. In 1867, “The Convention for Promoting Universally Reproductions of Works of Art” was set up by the V&A to aid the exchange of such copies (a reproduction of which is on show). "The [V&A] founding director, Henry Cole, had a mandate to bring examples of great art and architecture to a British public," Cormier told The Architect's Newspaper (AN) over email. "Since certain pieces were unmovable, especially architectural details from churches across Europe, he instead decided to commission plaster cast copies of those details and bring them to London." The practice allowed locals to view artwork from across the globe, however, it eventually fell out of favor in the 20th century, with public opinion swaying to view such copies as unauthentic.

On display in the exhibition is the head of the former Egyptian queen, Nefertiti. Originally discovered in 1912, the bust has been on display in the Neues Museum in Berlin since 1924. Despite many calls from Egypt to return it, the German museum has refused and has blocked access to the artifact. That didn’t stop artists Nora Al-Badri and Jan Nikolai Nelles, though. Without the permission of the museum, Al-Badri and Nelles scanned the head of Nefertiti using an Xbox Kinect controller and made a 3D print.

The artists' 3D-print—exhibited in Cairo but also publicly available under a Creative Commons License—is the most precise scan ever made public of the original artifact. “With the data leak as a part of this counter-narrative we want to activate the artifact, to inspire a critical re-assessment of today’s conditions and to overcome the colonial notion of possession in Germany,” the two artists said on their website.

A World of Fragile Parts doesn’t just cover this passage of history: Cormier has sampled modern reproductions too. Part of the remade Palmyra arch can be found in the exhibition. The arch was fabricated with precise stone-cutting tools and information from a 3D model built using photographs of the original. In this example, and indeed many others, a sense of urgency is installed throughout the exhibition. "Despite best efforts to preserve originals, there will always be a level of uncertainty—the potential damage of violent attacks, environmental disasters, and accidents—that put our material culture at risk," said Cormier. "Compiling a vast database of digital backups, which then can be reconstituted physically, offers an immense opportunity."

Working with Cormier, architect Sam Jacob created a full-size mock-up of a refugee camp from Calais, northern France. Using, wood, plastic, and CNC milled synthetic stone, the installation referenced the camp which has become a talking point between France and the U.K. as refugees camp on the border between the two countries.

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Brutalist D.C. Next

Find the best of Moscow’s constructivist architecture with this new map
The motherland of constructivist architecture, Moscow is home to many of the world's best examples of the former hallmark Soviet style. However, many constructivist buildings such as the Narkomfin and Shukhov Tower are now at risk of demolition. This map of Moscow detailing the whereabouts of the city's constructivist icons, which was released this month, makes viewing them (while they're still here) all the easier. "For us, the highlight, more than any individual building or architect, was walking for days across Moscow to find and explore these buildings," said Derek Lamberton, founder of Blue Crow Media, the company who published the map. "It was as good a way to see the city that I've experienced." Lamberton, in fact, focused his Master's dissertation at the University College London on the Russian avant-garde. The map's designer Jaakko Tuomivaara also did the same while at the Royal Academy of Art. Together, the pair travelled to Moscow, sampling the city's constructivist offerings to help them create and aesthetic for the map. The resultant map showcases 50 buildings. Working with preservation campaigner and photographer Natalia Melikova and Nikolai Vassiliev of DOCOMOMO Russia, Lamberton was able to identify the most critical and influential examples of constructivist architecture in the city. Many of these come from the prolific constructivist architect Konstantin Melnikov. "The highlights, stylistically, are certainly Melnikov's buildings, but historically Ginzburg's Narkomfin with its early attempt to manifest the experiment of communal living is essential," Lamberton said. Poignantly, the Narkomfin's tenuous existence was recently in the news when it was announced that it's owners plan to transform it into “business class accommodation.” Lamberton added: "Constructivism is remarkable stylistically and as a representation of such an intensely rich historical moment. It embodies the spirit of the complicated and exciting post-revolution era in a dynamic manner that is easily comprehensible to an onlooker today. The highlights, stylistically, are certainly Melnikov's buildings, but historically Ginzburg's Narkomfin with its early attempt to manifest the experiment of communal living is essential." Up next is the "Brutalist Washington, DC Map," due out in October. The maps keep coming after that too. "In November we will release a 20th-century overview of Berlin," Lamberton said. "For Spring 2017 we have the following: Brutalist Sydney Map, Modernist Belgrade Map, Brutalist Paris Map." Those interested can find their maps here.
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Tag Team

Chicago Architecture Biennial announces 2017 artistic directors
Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee of the Los Angeles–based firm JohnstonMarklee have been announced as the artistic directors of the second Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB). Along with this new leadership, announcements were made about a theme, returning sponsors SC Johnson and BP, as well as dates and location for the event. The second iteration of the first and largest architectural biennial in North America will be entitled Make New History. The biennial will focus on two central themes, “The axis between history and modernity and the axis between architecture and art.” The themes look to discuss the role that history has to play in the making of contemporary architecture, as well as the relationship of architecture to art. Chicago itself will act as a lens through which to raise and debate these issues. The new artistic directors, Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, are founding partners of JohnstonMarklee. They have taught at universities including Princeton University, the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the University of California, Los Angeles, the Technical University of Berlin, and ETH Zurich. They have also held the Cullinan Chair at Rice University and the Frank Gehry Chair at the University of Toronto. Their firm has been awarded over 300 major awards and has recently authored a book, entitled House Is a House Is a House Is a House Is a House, that was published by Birkhauser in 2016. JohnstonMarklee’s work has also been published and exhibited internationally and is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Menil Collection, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Carnegie Museum of Art, and the Architecture Museum of TU Munich. The 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial will be held at the historic Chicago Cultural Center from September 16th through December 31st, 2017. These dates align the opening of CAB with the sixth annual EXPO Chicago, the international Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, which will run from September 13th through September 17th, 2017. “The Chicago Architecture Biennial’s return in 2017 confirms Chicago as an architectural hub,” remarked Mayor Emanuel in a press release. “Last year’s edition was a resounding success, and I’m pleased to see the great planning and support for the second Biennial, which will be even better. Not only is the Biennial’s return a testament to our city’s architectural significance, but it speaks to Chicago’s place as one of the world’s cultural destinations and our place in the world of architecture and design.”
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Core Strength

Stacking boxes in downtown Toronto
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Brought to you with support from
  Sharing a downtown Toronto city block with the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Ontario College of Art and Design, 12 Degrees is a mid-rise urban infill project that employs a plan rotation strategy to produce a “stacked box” massing effect. The 90-unit, 11-story condo building fits tightly into a compact urban infill lot that measures just over 100 by 100 feet. The tower’s base interfaces with the nearby Victorian homes characteristic of historic Grange Park—a residential neighborhood consisting of housing stock ranging from semi-detached townhouses to mansions constructed in the 1800s. Set at three stories tall to match neighboring historic masonry homes, the ledgerock-clad base of the tower features a repetitive set of two-story tall projecting bays clad in black zinc. Beyond the base of the tower, the upper stories are composed of three sets of offset plans, including a rotated glass-clad mid-section. All of the upper floors are clad in a unitized dark gray aluminum window wall system with prefinished aluminum soffit panels. One of the benefits of the system, which can be installed in buildings up to 50 stories high, is that the glass panels can be installed from the interior. Outdoor terraces are located opportunistically in areas where a plan has shifted or rotated. These exterior spaces are contained by glass guardrails with a panelization that—from below—is camouflaged into the composition of the elevation.
  • Facade Manufacturer Primeline Windows and Doors
  • Architects CORE Architects
  • Facade Installer Primeline Windows and Doors
  • Facade Consultants SPL Consultants Limited
  • Location Toronto, Ontario (Canada)
  • Date of Completion 2016
  • System reinforced concrete
  • Products Unitized dark grey aluminum window wall prefinished aluminum soffit panels.  ‘Manganese Ironspot’ Brick w/ black precast coping.  ‘Wiarton Black’ Limestone, ‘Anthrazic’ zinc panels.  ‘Ipe’ wood canopy, entry/TH doors, pool deck and trellis
Charles Gane, principal at CORE Architects, said the massing strategy of the building was picked up early on by LA Ads, a Toronto-based marketing and communications firm. “The marketing team came up with a whole series of things—stacks of objects with one item rotated. This became a constant theme throughout the project." Gane said the wood-clad main entrance to the building was particularly successful: "The rotation suggests the building opens up at the corner.” The desire to minimize the impact of the facade through careful compositional games and material selections is due in large part to the building's location within a largely residential neighborhood that continues to attempt a balance between a park-like setting of historic homes and larger civic-scaled institutions. Despite a daylight-absorbing matte-black zinc-clad facade finish and multiple facade setbacks, regulatory agencies shaved four stories off the overall building height prior to construction. A reinforced concrete slab system accommodates column offsets with thickened slabs in selective areas. The construction system allows for floor plates that average 10 units per floor and a penthouse level that cantilevers over lower level floors. Every floor that changes has to accommodate a one-foot offset for building systems that must shift and reroute to adjust to the skewed plan layout, which remained orthogonal to the facade. 12 Degrees has been shortlisted in the “housing” category for the World Architecture Festival Awards, which will be helpful in Berlin this upcoming November. This is the second time in the past three years that CORE has produced a shortlisted entry (Six50 King in 2014 being the other project). 12 Degrees is up against BIG, Zaha Hadid Architects, and Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, among others.
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Building for Community

Francis Kéré’s diverse work featured at Philadelphia Museum of Art

Berlin-based, Burkina Faso–born Diebedo Francis Kéré is far from a typical architect, and his current one-man exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, on display through September 25, is also far from typical.

Kéré, 51, was born in Gando, an agricultural village in the West African nation of Burkina Faso, which has one of the world’s poorest and least educated populations. The first son of the tribal head of Gando, he was the only child in his village permitted to attend school, which he did in Burkina Faso’s second largest city, not far from Gando. He apprenticed to a carpenter there and in 1985 received a scholarship for a training program in Germany. After taking night classes in Berlin to earn his high school diploma, he studied architecture at the Technische Universitate and established his architecture practice there in 2005.

One of his earliest projects—which won him the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004 and a prominent role in MoMA’s 2010 exhibition, Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement—is the 1999–2001 primary school he designed for Gando, which illustrates the cover of MoMA’s exhibition catalogue. It consists of three detached, rectangular classrooms, constructed of adobe and cement bricks, hand-made by locals; the school is covered with a corrugated metal roof and a dry-stacked ceiling of clay bricks that lets hot air escape from the classroom interiors.

According to the MoMA catalogue—which describes the construction of the school as “truly a community endeavor”—some Gando workers who built the school subsequently became skilled laborers on other projects, while local families’ interest in the school skyrocketed, with the enrollment of children who previously did not attend school from surrounding villages.

Kéré’s work in Gando continues. It’s illustrated in the Philadelphia exhibition with photographs, and actual building materials and tools, such as clay and wood samples, machine-pressed and hand-formed bricks, and laterite stones. He has designed teachers’ housing and an extension of the primary school, both complete, while a primary school library and a center for sustainable construction technologies and research are under construction.

Tall kiosks throughout the exhibition feature photographs of Kéré’s past, present, and future projects in Africa, including the Center for Earth Architecture in Mopti, Mali, and the Obama Legacy Campus in Kogelo, Kenya, birthplace of President Barack Obama’s father, as well as his work in Europe and the United States. The former includes a Camper pop-up store at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany; an installation at this year’s Fuorisalone in Milan inspired by the social and spatial dynamics of a typical African village; and the repurposing of former military barracks in Mannheim, Germany, into a hub for local engineering industries, now under development. His only U.S. project so far is the Place for Gathering, a “seating terrain” of locally-sourced wood that was designed for visitors from around the world attending the Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Also unusual in the Philadelphia exhibition is the subject matter and presentation of three videos, all shot in Africa and never displayed before. One video about a recently built school in Koudougou, Burkina Faso, depicts many stages of the project, all performed by locals without the use of heavy machinery. Seating here is provided by chairs made in Philadelphia, using the same materials (steel rebar and plywood) and design as Kéré’s chairs for Burkina Faso schools. Another video, which depicts overhead enclosures—including tree canopies, traditional thatch, and modern roofs made of steel trusses—was shot skyward and is shown on a large monitor hanging from the ceiling; a viewing platform below encourages visitors to lie back and observe. The third video, projected from the ceiling directly onto the floor below, explores the concept of shadow, whether in a classroom with chalkboards and desks, or under a baobab tree, and how shadows facilitate learning. One can walk into the projection, literally stepping into the gathering place.

Visitors pass the final part of the exhibition, a site-specific installation called Colorscape, as they enter the exhibition’s primary gallery, Suspended from the museum’s ceiling are steel frames threaded with hundreds of pieces of Philadelphia-made lightweight cord in many different colors. The rectilinear layout of the frames represents the formally-planned grid of William Penn’s Philadelphia, while the paths and spaces carved from the mass of strings represent the organic grid of Gando.

Those passing through the variously colored elements also can hear the Sounds of the Village, audio recorded in both Burkina Faso and Philadelphia, the former including sounds of the wind, birds, and chickens, the latter sounds of local streets and a Philadelphia Flyers hockey game. Just as Kéré enlists local people to work on his projects in Africa, Philadelphians—including University of Pennsylvania architecture students, museum staff, volunteers, and visitors—helped construct this installation.

In Gando and other agrarian societies, children learn from their elders, who teach them orally; they also learn by doing. Similarly, since he started his practice, Kéré has aimed to communicate design and architecture simply and directly, to be understood by African laborers not educated in reading sophisticated plans or architectural drawings, as well as by children. All these concepts inform the Philadelphia exhibition, stimulating thought and visual pleasure.

The Architecture of Francis Kéré: Building for Community runs through September 25, 2016. For more on the exhibit, visit here.
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From Studio Gang to SHoP

World Architecture Festival: Taking American architecture global
WAF is your annual dose of the very latest in architectural thought, practice, ideas, and activism. Be inspired, gain knowledge, and make contacts with your global peers. The world's largest annual architectural forum will be held in Berlin this November. Be at WAF to:
  • Hear from the American finalists including CTA Cermak-McCormick Place Station by Ross Barney Architects and Writers Theatre by Studio Gang. View the full shortlist.
  • Learn from the likes of Matthias Hollwich of Hollwich Kushner (HWKN), Alan Balfour and Coren Sharples of SHoP Architects in 50+ inspirational seminars. See the program.
  • Attend the many fringe events taking place across Berlin, including parties, architect tours, and more.
  • Grow your contacts book and connect with 3,000 future collaborators and clients. WAF is your passport to the international architecture scene.
Learn more and book your pass by the 25 September at the early bird rate. Secure your flights early to ensure the best rates. If you need help finding the best rates and locations for accommodation the WAF concierge team will be able to help.
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Radically Simple

Francis Kéré to be focus of extensive exhibition in Germany
Aga Khan Award winner Francis Kéré will have an extensive exhibition—dubbed Francis Kéré. Radically Simple—dedicated to his work at The Architecture Museum for Munich Technical University at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich. Born in Burkina Faso, though based in Berlin since 2005, Kéré has established a strong pedigree for himself as an African architect practicing in his home continent. In 2004, Kéré won the Aga Khan Award for his first building, a primary school for the village of Gando—where he was born—in Burkina Faso. Since then, Kéré has become renowned for his socially engaging and ecologically sensitive design. The exhibition, arguably the most comprehensive to date on the Burkinabé architect, showcases a number of his projects in his home country. These include the Lycée Schorge secondary school in Koudougou, the Centre de Santé et de Promotion Sociale (Centre of Health and Social Promotion) in Laongo, and a primary school in Opera Village, also in Laongo. His work in Africa won't be the show's only subject. Kéré's projects—some yet to be complete—in China and Germany are also on display along with his exhibition activities, comprising contributions and competition entries in London, Humlebæk, Milan, Bordeaux, Chicago, Weil am Rhein, Philadelphia, and Venice. In addition to this, photographer and video artist Daniel Schwartz displays a wealth new images and videos of previously unpublished works. According to a musuem press release, Kéré "specifically created the exhibition design for... the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich in order to create a unique experience for the visitor." Francis Kéré. Radically Simple runs through February 26, 2017 with an opening at 7.00 p.m. on November 16 this year.
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Bergen Arches

An ambitious rails-to-trails project aims to cement Jersey City’s growing cultural reputation
A team of New Jersey– and Berlin-based designers is turning a hulking infrastructure relic in Jersey City into a catwalk-laced park that could serve as a model of community redevelopment. More than a century ago, the Erie Railroad sliced a four-track-wide cut through the Palisades mountain range. The resulting Bergen Arches linked to the railroad's Manhattan-bound main line along the banks of the Hudson, but when the railroad ceased operations in 1959, the arches were overtaken by forest and slowly forgotten. Now, placemaking organization Green Villain is working with Berlin-based So + So Studio to reimagine the arches as sites of recreation. The impetus was Jersey City's dizzying evolution from postindustrial New York City–adjacent afterthought to hip bedroom community that attracts artists priced out of New York, as well as finance types and regular people seeking urban life at a lower cost. In their project statement, the team hopes to spark conversation on land conservation in urban areas and provide recreation opportunities for Jersey City (JC) residents. “As our post-industrial city continues to amass mid to high-rise towers, it is imperative that we look down as much as we look up for the answers about individuality and place. The stick and steel will allow the residents to live here, Restaurant Row to eat here, but without Jersey City-centric projects that allow us to compete on the global stage we will always be haunted by the specter of placelessness. The Bergen Arches project is the answer. Help us to reclaim and revitalize these spaces that bear such history and call for a creative future for Jersey City.” Green Villain, with offices in JC, Denver, and Berlin, is a hybrid organization that specializes in mural-making, JC real estate development, event production, and creating consulting in partnership with SMBs, developers, and brands to place-make through music, technology, and art. Jersey Digs spoke with Green Villian's Bill Benzon, as well as So + So Studio's Kevin Driscoll and Rion Philbin, who outlined the site's distinctive features, the importance of railroads in JC's development, and the site's potential for transformation. The project's first goal is to connect neighborhoods with two new cuts, including one that would allow people to access the Bergen Arches on elevated walkways that then descend up to 60 feet, revealing the site's rich topology. Public art will augment the program to "boost Jersey City’s overall cultural reputation.” Train your eyes on the Bergen Arches website and Instagram to pick up more information on this developing project.  
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The Exquisite Everyday

With a trio of exhibitions, the Pulitzer Arts Foundation makes an in-depth exploration of the home
Home. Everyday. Ordinary. These words describe what binds the three summer exhibitions at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation (PAF) in St. Louis: 4562 Enright Avenue, Exquisite Everyday: 18th Century Decorative Arts Objects from the J. Paul Getty Museum, and The Ordinary Must Not Be Dull: Claes Oldenburg’s Soft Sculptures. But they raise as many questions as they answer. Whose home? What routines? Which physical structures/objects are used? The prospect is ripe with dichotomies: fluidity/stasis, divisions/confluence, asset/liability, thought/action, open space/occupied territory, vacant/inhabited, continuity/disruption, utopian/dystopian, creation/devastation, fade/appear. raumlaborberlin, the German architecture collective, is behind 4562 Enright Avenue, which transposes elements of this long-abandoned house—windows, beams, doors, staircases—into a nearly identical-sized gallery at the Pulitzer’s Tadao Ando-designed building 1.7 miles and lights years away. (Like Duchamp’s Fountain [urinal], it’s all about context.) Meanwhile, on site, the brick shell remains. At the museum, one turns the corner to encounter a facade of two stories with arched windows and a door crowned with a glass door light featuring the number 4562. You enter the first room, a living room with stately, upholstered chairs and a mantle. On the floor there are chalk outlines, like police evidence at a crime scene, of more furniture, that constitute the formal room from the house’s heyday—and that Jan Liesegang of raumlaborberlin imagines was barely used. The next room is filled with debris and stacks of materials precisely as found in the abandoned house in 2015. The third and last room on the ground floor imagines what could be for St. Louis housing going forward, displayed in a workshop setting with drafting table, photographs (Saarinen’s Gateway Arch), drawings (Pruitt-Igoe), and books (including Mapping Decline by Colin Gordon), all of which can be handled by visitors. Two staircases—one front-of-house and one for service—lead to a second floor that sports a suspended sink, wooden slat backboards, and, in contrast to the found objects and materials, a new pod-alike intervention. The pod is wrapped in white-painted newsprint in a neatly folded, scale-like pattern, around a translucent rectangular oculus lit from within. This belongs to Liesegang’s fanciful occupant of the house, an imaginary scientist. Since visitors cannot climb the stairs, this apparition remains mysterious. Shelves and tables outside the house are workstations and a video display showcases interviews with residents and neighbors of Enright Avenue. raumlaborberlin: 4562 Enright Avenue - Time-lapse from Pulitzer Arts Foundation on Vimeo. The process of creating this display was nearly a year in the making. raumlaborberlin, whose name means “space” + “laboratory,” is known for projects in transitional urban spaces that combine architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture, and art (See Spacebuster at Storefront for Art & Architecture and the New Museum’s Festival of Ideas for the New City, 2008 & 2011). St. Louis was described to me as a fetishized Detroit, a city where, in certain neighborhoods, lots are vacant and houses are abandoned like missing teeth, directly alongside occupied homes. The description painted a hollow urban center—the City of St. Louis—ringed by a suburban collar and the County of St. Louis (Ferguson is in the County). St. Louis is recovering from a long slide of white flight coupled with the decline of manufacturing and Mississippi River traffic. It’s a long way from the city’s role as Gateway to the West, the start of Lewis and Clark’s journey. The city is also bisected by Delmar Avenue; Enright Avenue is one block north (where 98% of residents identify as black, median home value is $73,000, and median annual income is $18,000), whereas Washington Avenue, where the Pulitzer is located, is one block south (where 73% of residents identify as white, median home value is $335,000, and median annual income is $50,000). To raumlaborberlin, this urban divide was familiar from the Berlin Wall in their home city and seen as hopeful since that barrier is now a memory after the wall’s demise 27 years ago. Asked to address the ways that we inhabit the urban landscape, and specifically engaging St. Louis and its residents, the collective zeroed in on the Lewis Place/Vanderventer neighborhood and its contemporary ruins. (Interestingly, A.E. Hotchner’s coming of age book, King of the Hill, was written about his childhood in a seedy hotel at Delmar & Kingshighway, a few short blocks away.) Together with neighbors and the City of St. Louis Building Commissioner, this uninhabited, structurally unsound Romanesque/French Renaissance Revival house built in 1890 (and slated for demolition) was selected. To shine a light on issues, they decided to move the building to the museum in order to reimagine the structure and what might replace it. It is meant to pose questions, rather than answers. A key one Liesegang asked is “How much can you take away from a house and it's still a home?” Exquisite Everyday: 18th-Century Decorative Art Objects from the J. Paul Getty Museum at first seems to be the antithesis of 4562 Enright. But it signifies someone else’s “everyday,” in this case upper class French and Italians. These objects—sauceboat, armchair, wall sconce, carpet, basin and ewer, chamber pot—are beautiful, ornate, and highly crafted, yet represent changing styles and practices. The sauceboat, for example, shows a more casual buffet style where diners helped themselves, rather than relying entirely on footmen. The objects for personal hygiene were used for ablution, rather than bathing by submersion, which was considered unhealthy. One can imagine their equivalents at 4562 Enright Avenue, when it was first inhabited by middle-class Germans, and then by black residents in the 20th century. Claes Oldenberg’s soft sculptures in The Ordinary Must Not Be Dull depict household objects including light switches, key, tires, 3-way electric plug, clothespin, ice bag, folding chair, and an array of food that includes french fries, baked potato, and green beans. Oldenburg shines a light on the everyday, making us look at the familiar in unfamiliar ways. In addition to exaggerating their size by inflating them to a vast scale, he also questions the traditional notion of sculpture’s substance by making them soft and pliable, rather than of more conventional hard, solid materials. The Pulitzer has a tradition of engaging the city, starting with The Light Project (2008), a series of public art commissions; Urban Alchemy/Gordon Matta-Clark (2010) by Theaster Gates, Robert Longer, and Jenny Murphy; and Crossing the Delmar Divide (2012-14), a 2-year project with the Missouri Historical Society and the Anti-Defamation League addressing racial and socioeconomic disparities. PAF’s work will continue with PXSTL, a collaboration with Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, that has commissioned a site-specific temporary structure for community-based programs and events by architect Amanda Williams and artist/educator Andres Hernandez to open in May 2017. Director Cara Starke, who previously served as Director of Exhibitions at Creative Time, spearheaded the raumlaborberlin commission when she assumed the position one year ago, so we can look forward to continued inquiry into the built environment from the Pulitzer. Pulitzer Arts Foundation 3716 Washington Boulevard St. Louis MO 63108 raumlaborberlin: 4562 Enright Avenue Exquisite Everyday: 18th-Century Decorative Arts from the J. Paul Getty Museum The Ordinary Must Not Be Dull: Claes Oldenburg’s Soft Sculptures All exhibits on view through October 15, 2016.