Search results for "Alvar Aalto"

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IBA Hudson Valley
The Clinton Point Quary in Poughkeepsie, New York.
Courtesy Clui Photo Archive

For all its vaunted grandeur, the Hudson River Valley is a landscape locked in existential crisis. Littered with slaughterhouses and gas plants, old traprock quarries and Superfund sites, riverfront burgs like Poughkeepsie, Kingston, Hudson, and Troy—and their long-suffering cousins on the Erie Canal—are poster children for New York’s upstate downslide. For decades, this realm of strapped municipal governments and tumbling population has been tilting toward the economic abyss. Beyond the weekenders’ paradise of five-and-dimes and post-hike pubs, there lies an even grittier Hudson Valley begging for a business plan. What if, instead of a tombstone to the industrial past, this might be prime territory for the reinvention of our region’s future?

Seeking to “rethink the evolutionary capacity” of shrinking postindustrial places along the Hudson River and Erie Canal, New York architect Meta Brunzema has advanced an outsize idea to turn the social and economic tide. Working with a small team of collaborators, Brunzema has conceived a decade-long effort tentatively titled Building Exhibition Hudson Valley/Erie Canal, 2014–2024. Still in its early stages of development, the project aspires to create prototype projects across the region’s second-tier cities, harnessing the power of architecture and urban design to help re-energize society.

That may be a tall order for a region in an epic funk. Of the 46 cities in upstate New York with a population under 50,000, 38 are shrinking. The “bright flight” of young adults is especially acute in this land of dwindling opportunity. While New York City may still snag ambitious upstarts, young people are fleeing the state at four times the national average. With the exception of college hubs like Ithaca, Poughkeepsie, or Saratoga Springs, a major chunk of New York’s human capital is languishing in hock.

Pratt student proposals from top: Masha Pekurovsky's Transit Materials Lab; Josue Sanchez's Prefab+DIY Affordable Mixed-use Housing; Christian Strom's Experimental Mixed-Use Housing Cooperative.
Courtesy respective students

How to turn the valley’s sand pits and cement plants into zones of catalytic culture? Brunzema has borrowed a page from Germany’s famed International Building Exhibition, known as IBA, which over the last century has leveraged design intelligence to tackle urgent social and urban challenges. These farsighted efforts include monumental housing built by Alvar Aalto, Walter Gropius, Oscar Niemeyer, and others during the 1957 Interbau, and the “critical reconstruction” of Berlin’s historic core in 1987, which pioneered sensitive alternatives to slash-and-burn urban renewal.

The Hudson Valley version draws on two more recent IBA editions that boasted region-scale ambitions. The first, known as IBA Emscher Park, was a ten-year program launched in 1989 to jump-start the reinvention of the decaying Ruhr district, once the nation’s industrial powerhouse. Carried out jointly with 17 cities, it produced 120 different projects—many the result of separate design competitions—that formed the basis for a sprawling system of landscape parks, rebuilt wastewater infrastructure, and a tech- and culture-fueled economy conjured from defunct coal mines and machine halls. And early this century, IBA Urban Redevelopment 2010 launched an equally bold effort to rethink the future of 19 shrinking cities in the former East Germany, managing population loss through a process that combined social and economic initiatives with architecture and landscape innovation.

Brunzema, who co-curated an exhibit on Emscher Park in 2000, and later collaborated on Beacon’s floating River Pool, grew intrigued by the idea that upstate New York’s cities could be bootstrapped by an IBA-style adventure. Like Emscher Park, which used the Emscher River as a framework to stitch together planning and development projects across more than 300 square miles, an upstate exhibition would use the Hudson River and Erie Canal—the historic sources, after all, of the region’s industrial heyday—to reconnect them as an integrated economic network. And importantly for an area dominated by Albany dysfunction, the ten-year exhibition timeline transcends political cycles, while focusing collective resources, energy, and ideas toward a hell-or-high-water deadline.

Under study since 2009, the Hudson Valley exhibition got a boost last semester, when Brunzema took a crack at imagining how the region’s industrial legacy could be remade as an economic engine for “green growth.” Working with eight graduate architecture students at Pratt Institute, she helped envision a prototype “pioneer district” to be sited within Poughkeepsie’s Clinton Point Quarry, which since 1880 has disgorged things like railroad ballast and riprap. Still in active use by the aggregate maker Tilcon, the 1,200-acre property has been eyed by local planners as a tempting redevelopment opportunity.

The student group’s proposals, recently on view at Pratt’s Higgins Hall, replace old-school, extractive industry with projects intended to drive sustainable business growth and create a critical urban mass near Poughkeepsie’s historic downtown. Affordable, prefabricated housing would be designed to densify over time; a municipal waste plant transforms trash into green products; a high-tech manufacturing complex takes advantage of water, rail, and air links to global networks—the whole site crossed by cable cars and packing in as many as 10,000 residents. In this vision, Poughkeepsie becomes one node in a network of “polycentric regional towns” prepped to compete on the global playing field.

As much model urban design, a Hudson Valley building exhibition would tap new economic development ideas like “economic gardening.” Pioneered in Colorado in the 1980s, the concept promotes the entrepreneurial spirit of local citizens instead of simply handing out tax-break bonanzas to bargain-hunting corporations. Through a building exhibition, “creative competition” between cities could stimulate hundreds of projects to incubate industrial and commercial innovation, with funding awarded for proposals that demonstrate high-quality planning and design. The entire initiative would culminate in 2024 with a yearlong series of exhibitions, forums, boat tours, and other events.

Such a deliriously ambitious program calls for scores of public, private, and nonprofit partners. Brunzema’s team has begun reaching out to potential collaborators like OurHudson and Empire State Future, groups deeply engaged in cultivating vibrant upstate communities. And building exhibitions aren’t cheap. The Emscher Park effort was stoked with $1.5 billion in public funds (all, incidentally, deemed wisely spent). A Hudson Valley exhibition would need to rely far more on private support, coupled with public investment bundled, as in Germany, from existing funding streams.

America is desperate for just this type of urban innovation. Aside from the brave and still unfolding saga to downsize Detroit, our nation has shown tragically little willingness to confront, through large-scale planning and design, the postindustrial present. A building exhibition to retool the Hudson Valley would give the region’s communities precisely the resources they need to begin shaping their own economic destiny. It would give all of us the faith that upstate New York has a future, and it’s more than just gravel.

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Regionalism Now
Riverview Park Visitor Service Building, Louisville, KY, De Leon + Primmer
Courtesy De Leon + Primmer

In an ever more interconnected and globalized world, the concept of regionalism seems both out of step and more relevant than ever. And the architects associated with an architecture of place are keenly aware that—whatever the wider world thinks—their work is not based on a menu of fixed typologies but on adaptive values. Regionalism today is not about quoting barns and silo-shaped houses but rather actively engaging with the deeper forces driving specifics of form—whether it’s time, culture, climate or cost.

Critic David D'Arcy reexamines Kenneth Frampton's canonical essay on Critical Regionalism with fresh eyes, while AN editors survey projects and practitioners that are carving out new principles as they engage with—or resist—the notion of regionalism.

It was a global landscape haunted and threatened by “the freestanding high rise,”  “the serpentine freeway,” “the apocalyptic thrust of modernization,” and “pathological philistinism.”

This was the condition, not just of the built environment, but of architecture, said Kenneth Frampton, who accused architects of responding with eclectic historical nostalgia and a rapturous futurism. And it was only 1983.

Frampton’s response was a jeremiad deploring it all. And there was much to deplore.

St. Nicholas Eastern Orthodox Church, Springdale, AR, Marlon Blackwell Architect.
Timothy Hursely

His alternative was critical regionalism, seizing on a term first deployed in 1981 by Alexander Tzonis and Liane Lefaivre. It was a warning, a manifesto, and a call to arms. Frampton termed it “a critical basis from which to evolve a contemporary architecture of resistance—a culture of dissent free from fashionable stylistic conventions, an architecture of place rather than space, and a way of building sensitive to the vicissitudes of time and climate.”

Strangely Familiar
“Working within a particular region establishes a baseline. There is a preconception of what regionalism is, but we also look at it in a way that is unfamiliar. We look for something familiar and yet new.”
Roberto de Leon


Frampton’s enemy then was post-modernism. He and others felt besieged by a tendency that was dragging critics and resources and young talent into nostalgia or into technological rootlessness.

Frampton heaped blame, not just on the postmodernists, but on the circumstances weighing upon them. Modernism, however, tended to be left off the hook. Just root it in a real place, he counseled. Here’s how he hovered around a definition, vaguely enough to be big tent: “Critical Regionalism depends upon maintaining a high level of critical self-consciousness. It may find its governing inspiration in such things as the range and quality of the local light, or in a tectonic derived from a peculiar structural mode, or in the topography of a given site.”

Back in the 1980s, Frampton and others would foresee another persistent factor. This regionalizing trend that they hoped for would not be a revolution. “The scope of activity available to the potential regionalist is interstitial rather than global in nature,” Frampton wrote in 1988, “which will be seen to some as a deciding advantage.” Frampton also called that work marginal—not the most effective term for recruiting.


Invisible Parameters
“Architecture is a political process...As a term, regionalism has a negative connotation. Using it would be a way of distinguishing oneself. A ‘region’ can be a subdivision or a city block, in terms of scale.”
Mary Ellen Carroll

“Time is a regionalist perspective. Objects in a landscape age in a certain way; maintenance has to be anticipated and understood. Architects need to plan for time.”
Tom Kundig

Nakahouse, Hollywood Hills, CA, Xten Architecture.
Steve King

It’s now clear that Frampton under-estimated the challenge—and the flexible advantage of regionalism. It was several financial crashes ago, before the Internet enabled almost everything besides dwelling to be virtual rather than tactile, and before destination architecture turned a battleground like Bilbao into a tourist mecca and turned an elite of architects into boldfaced names.

Some three decades later, regional architecture is a sensibility, rather than a movement. Like most tendencies that move from the bottom up, there are no clear rules, other than a tactility, a commitment to place, and an ethical attitude about community, all of which fuse into an approach to sustainability, a term that escaped the earliest formulations.

In a 2006 lecture, Alexander Tzonis updated the challenge: “Mindlessly adopting narcissistic dogmas in the name of universality leads to environments that are economically costly, ecologically destructive, and catastrophic to the human community.” As Yogi Berra might have said, it’s apocalypse all over again.

Like anything regional, solutions will vary from location to location. These are paths that lead to hybridization, rather than purity.

Weekend House, North Shore, Lake Superior, Julie Snow Architects.
Peter Kerze

No surprise, it’s leaderless. But there are plenty of prophets, like Alvar Aalto, whose brick Synatsalo Town Hall of 1952 was a triumph of tactility for Frampton. Another one of Frampton’s heroes was Luis Barragán, whose 1947–48 Casa Estudio—an office, home, and garden in Tacubaya, a working-class suburb of Mexico City—is now being scrutinized in a new documentary by Rax Rinnekangas and the Finnish architect and critic Juhani Pallasmaa.


Quiet Approach
“We look at the culture that wraps around a site. We look at the operational and aspiration aspects. And then, only then, we play with form and pattern. Having a quiet voice at the beginning is important.”
Julie Snow


And adherents are growing, hailing from farther afield both, in geographical and intellectual reach. In Nova Scotia, architect Brian MacKay-Lyons has been gathering architects—under the suitably oblique banner Ghost—to appraise the future of master building in terms of landscape, material culture, and community. Both Frampton and Pallasmaa have contributed but the range of engaged architects is wide, among them Deborah Berke, Wendell Burnette, Ted Flato, Vincent James, Rick Joy, Richard Kroeker, Tom Kundig, Patricia Patkau, Dan Rockhill, and Brigitte Shim.

Among them is Marlon Blackwell, who is all too keenly aware that he has been scripted as American architecture’s regional everyman. Based in Fayetteville, Arkansas, he has developed an approach as likely to draw on mud towers in Yemen as the state’s ubiquitous long-haul trucks. For the Porchdog House, a post-Katrina dwelling, Blackwell rejected a retreat to the sentimental vernacular. Instead of a granny-style porch with geraniums and rockers, the Biloxi house sits on 11-foot pillars—a new prototype responsive to the elements, but also affordable enough to replicate.

Outpost, CentralIdaho, Olson Kundig Architects.
Tim Bies

Blending the mass-production possibilities of the prototype with locally resonant design defines a hybrid approach being taken by regional firms like Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, designers of the Apple Store. The product is a paradox—multiple corporate retail stores are also transparent physical gathering places for corporeal Apple customers who spend much of their time in virtual worlds. The stores are potent advertising logos, as well as local destinations.

Is this a case of regionalists already jumping ship or selling out? Only if the already-slippery definition of regionalism is seen as a rigid pledge or a straitjacket, which hasn’t been suggested by any architect. There is no required vow of poverty, chastity, or obedience. So far, no one has been excommunicated from Ghost for taking on corporate clients.

Emergent Vernacular
“I think about a more fragmented way to look at the landscape. There are vestiges of another society apart from the barns, silos, and shotguns, elements more about mobility and part of the reality of what we see and experience around us. RVs, truck trailers and campers are all sources of inspiration, too.”
Marlon Blackwell


Or for creating a destination. And what, if not a destination, is the new and exquisite Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, a gambit hyped as a tourist site by destination-obsessed Denver and designed by Brad Cloepfil, a Frampton pupil at Columbia University who established himself as a practitioner of Pacific Northwest regionalism?  Rather than create another billboard for the city, Cloepfil responded with a restrained design at a restrained budget. If the Clyfford Still Museum says anything about regionalist work, it is that it can be purposefully local without aesthetic compromise.

As regional work once thought destined for the interstices surges through the cracks, consider the food analogy. Declining quality, rising cost, and waste alarmed a small core of eco-minded consumers and producers, and spawned the locavore movement. Some three decades later, it has bastions throughout North America and Europe and beyond. Restaurants and producers have lifted local economies, which continue to grow, benefiting everyone from architects to sommeliers (and throwing off profitable vernacular subsections).

With architecture, as with food, the challenge is to move beyond the elite clients, and into the regionalists’ heartland, where the vernaculars of poor nutrition and cheap generic construction meet at the strip mall and sprawl outward.

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Australians Plan Pavilion for 2015 Venice Biennale
The Venice Biennale is staged in an enormous old Arsenal building and in an urban park a few blocks away that houses 30 national pavilions. The first of these pavilions opened in 1907 and several were designed by famous architects like Josef Hoffmann (Austria), BBPR (Canada), Alvar Aalto (Finland), and Sverre Fehn (Nordic). The United States pavilion was designed by William Adams Delano. There have been very few buildings built in the garden since James Sterling designed the biennial book store in 1991, but just behind the U.S. pavilion the Australians are building a new exhibition space designed by Denton Corker Marshall. The Australian architects describe the pavilion as a simple structure or "a white box contained within a black box." The pavilion will open in 2015 for the 56th art biennale and its $6 million price tag will be paid for with private funds.
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A Pavilion for the World
Pavilion proposal from Echomaterico.
Courtesy Echomaterico

On January 13, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri announced the five teams shortlisted for its Pavilion Project, a design competition in conjunction with its special exhibition Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World's Fairs, 1851-1939. The competition, launched on November 23, asked teams to design and then build a temporary pavilion on-site by April 9, 2012. After renting a Ferris Wheel for the length of the exhibit proved cost prohibitive, the museum decided to develop their own pavilion, which will be used for flexible programming and events. Catherine Futter, the curator of the special exhibition, said, "We really wanted something that showcased innovation today in the spirit of the World's Fairs."

Proposed pavilions by AECOM (left), Hufft Projects (center), el dorado inc with Make + Design (right).
Courtesy AECOM, Hufft Projects, el dorado inc

The five shortlisted teams include AECOM, el dorado inc with MAKE + DESIGN (Kansas State University), Echomaterico, Generator Studio, and Hufft Projects. An in-house jury reviewed 15 entries before deciding on the final five, but the winner will be selected by the Director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Julian Zugazagoita, the exhibition curator, Catherine Futter, architect Steven Holl, and a still unnamed person from the Kansas City Missouri Parks and Recreation Department. The pavilion will be located in the front yard of the museum along Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard, in the foreground of the 2008 expansion of the museum designed by Steven Holl.

Time was not the only constraint in the competition. Teams were given a total design and materials budget of $20,000, required to provide their own power if needed, encouraged to use green materials, and prohibited from excavation on the site. At the end of the exhibition, which runs from April 14 to August 19, the teams must restore the site and ideally find a second home for the structure.

The exhibition will showcase decorative arts from every major World's Fair from 1851-1939. It includes 200 artistic and scientific objects, including such architectural gems as Alvar Aalto's Savoy Vase and Aalto Flower, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Chair, and Marcel Breuer's Chaise Lounge No.313.

Said Futter, "We were very impressed with all of the entries from the local design community, and we are hopeful that this will turn into something the Museum will do more frequently." The finalists will continue to refine their ideas and provide a presentation to the museum's design committee before the winner is selected on February 1.

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Momento Mertins
The 1968 opening of the inaugural exhibition on Mondrian at the New National Gallery in Berlin designed by Mies van der Rohe.

Modernity Unbound
Detlef Mertins
Architectural Association London, £12.00

The fox knows many things, according to the parable, the hedgehog a few bigger ones. Temperamentally, Detlef Mertins belonged to the hedgehog side of the ledger. Modernity Unbound, published shortly after his premature death in January 2011, contains nine essays written over a decade and a half. Most appeared previously in journals like AA Files, Assemblage, and Grey Room or as catalog essays. Together they offer a compelling portrait of the architectural thinker as one incessantly reflecting, reading, circling back to earlier preoccupations, and digging into his position while excavating wider ground.

Mertins’ returns to his privileged subjects—glass architecture, the concept of transparency, the theoretical writings of Walter Benjamin, the universal space of Mies, and increasingly what he comes to call “bioconstructivism”—are more than just verifications, however. They also exemplify what Nietzsche called the use of history for life. As Mertins makes clear in the introduction to this short but dense collection of writings, his “underlying project” was to discover in early modernism “the antecedents of today’s ecological and biologistic architectures.” Such a project inevitably risks being an “operative” one, and Mertins’ rereadings, which draw especially on German aesthetics and architectural history, are not entirely immune from this charge. At the same time, in his interrelated roles as critic, historian, and educator, his intent was to mine fresh insights from the past that could inform and vivify contemporary architectural practice and teaching.

Two of the nine essays in the book contain a strong critique of “Transparency: Literal and Phenomenal,” the seminal two-part article coauthored by Colin Rowe and Robert Slutzky in the mid-1950s (belatedly published in Yale’s journal Perspecta in 1963 and 1971, respectively). Rowe and Slutzky had attacked one of the central tenets of Sigfried Giedion’s Space, Time and Architecture, arguing that Giedion had failed to distinguish sufficiently between what they call “phenomenal” transparency—the virtual layering manifested in Cubist painting and in Le Corbusier’s Cubist-derived early architecture—and the “literal,” or see-through, transparency exemplified by Gropius’ Bauhaus building at Dessau. Mertins characterizes Rowe and Slutzky’s reading as “reductive and restrictive.” In an effort to rehabilitate Giedion’s conception, he argues that the material transparency admired by Giedion in the Bauhaus and other glass buildings of early modern architecture was “anything but literal”; it was rather the expression of a “new optics”—“a turn from the determinate representation of a self-positing consciousness” toward “indeterminate biotechnic constructions hovering contingently without ground.”

It is worth pointing out (if only for the sake of continuing a debate that appears not to have been exhausted yet) that Mertins’ interpretation—in spite of its presentist references to groundlessness and biotechnics—paradoxically confirms Rowe and Slutzky’s reading of Giedion’s concept of the “fourth dimension,” or “space-time,” as being closer to the free-floating, utopian atemporality of, say, Malevich’s Suprematist compositions than to Le Corbusier’s architecture, forged under the “muddy banner of Cubism.” As such, it also implicitly contradicts Mertins’ larger concerns with historicity, contingency, and difference. Perhaps more important in adjudicating between these two canonical texts from the vantage point of half a century, however, is to put them back into their respective contexts. Rowe and Slutzky’s argument, just like Giedion’s and like Mertins’ own, belongs to a particular moment of history. The reason “Transparency” had the reception it did when it appeared is that it represented a polemical assault on a mainstream postwar American architecture that was, at this date, both visually and intellectually vapid. “Giedion’s bible” had long since become the classic account of the emergence of the modern movement, and Rowe and Slutzky’s formalist critique, like that of Robert Venturi in Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture a little later, was a revisionist effort to inject meaning and richness into an architectural language that, in the hands of the leading corporate practitioners—including stars like Gropius—had become instrumental and boring.

The essays in Modernity Unbound that best render the philosophical depth of Mertins’ reflections on modern architectural space are, in my view, those in which he takes up the problematic of emptiness in the work of Mies van der Rohe. In “Same Difference,” Mertins compares Crown Hall to Alvar Aalto’s Cultural Center in Wolfsburg, Germany, persuasively arguing that while Aalto’s heteroclite forms are ostensibly “open” and “inclusive,” the architectural experience they afford is, in fact, “scripted in advance.” (The same may be said of the spaces of Frank Lloyd Wright or Hugo Häring, despite the claims of both to “organic form.”) In contrast, Mies’ simplified but intensely studied forms destabilize any narrow conception of function, remaining more receptive to unforeseen events. “Mies’ universal space,” Mertins writes, “staged the uprootedness so central to the experience of modernity, as both a crisis and an opportunity for self-fashioning.” In this sense, Miesian space is not neutral. It is, indeed, “almost nothing,” but with the accent—as Mertins puts it in “Mies’ Event Space,” an essay focused on the New National Gallery in Berlin—on “almost.” It is precisely this “almost” that differentiates Mies’ minimalism from the modernist aesthetics of his contemporaries, and through the heightened sense of theatricality his spaces induce, dramatizes the dialectic between freedom and constraint inherent in the experience of modernity.

The book’s two concluding essays, “Bioconstructivisms” and “Pervasive Plasticity,” extend Mertins’ previous thinking to contemporary architectural research and experimentation, in particular the work of Lars Spuybroek and parametric design. His ongoing concern with the values of “alterity” and “formlessness” (or self-generating form) reflect his readings in both poststructuralist theory and the recent literature of evolutionary biology and mathematics. He discovers an ultimate source for these values in the natural world. The microscopic sea creatures called radiolarians illustrated by the biologist Ernst Haeckel at the turn of the twentieth century in his book Kunstformen der Natur, and later upheld by radical engineers like Frei Otto and Robert Le Ricolais, as well as by Spuybroek, as “analogical models for self-directed form-finding processes,” suggest to Mertins a way of moving beyond modernism’s binary opposition of machine and organism, or scientific rigor and expression, to a new “biotechnic or bionic” paradigm.

Mertins’ erudite, closely argued, disputatious and at times poetic volume is the seventh of an admirable series of small, well-designed books entitled Architecture Words published by the Architectural Association in the UK. It belongs to a genre of architectural literature that is today threatened with extinction in the maelstrom of digital publication and “postcritical” thinking. Detlef Mertins’ thoughtful essays are living proof that this would be a grievous loss indeed to the intellectual culture of architecture.

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Carlos Brillembourg
Covered plaza at the Universidad Central de Venezuela by Carlos Raul Villanueva, 1954.
Paolo Gasparini, Courtesy of Fundacion

The Bronx Museum of the Arts will hold a two-day conference in October on Latin American architecture and art practices from 1929 to 2011. More to the point, panelists will be discussing the intricate interactions between these disciplines within a critical theory of peripheral and marginalized culture.

In 1962, the Dutch architect Aldo van Eyck wrote: “Western civilization habitually identifies itself with civilization as such on the pontifical assumption that what is not like it is a deviation, less advanced, primitive, or, at best, exotically interesting at a safe distance.” Even Kenneth Frampton’s essay “Towards Critical Regionalism: Six Points for an Architecture of Resistance” reinforces the notion of center and periphery. In his essay almost all examples of architecture are taken from Northern Europe. Frampton’s essay argues for the kind of public space generated by dense urban form against the prevalence of the contemporary industrialized societies and the pseudo-public realms generated by megastructures in housing, hotels, or shopping centers.

Now we live in a modified form of McLuhan’s “Global Village,” and access to information has made the idea of periphery obsolete. Yet the center continues to monopolize the publicity and production of culture. During the last ten years, the longstanding strength of local culture has been subverted into an opportunity for global architects to acquire new markets. The Bilbao Museum is perhaps the first example of this new form of globalization. The City of Culture, a monumental work still unfinished overlooking the medieval city of Santiago, Spain by Eisenman Architects is a project exemplary of its last phase. In 2008 the economic collapse of the American and European markets largely put an end to this cultural phenomenon in Europe.

A global process of modernity claims a singular universality and also advocates a rupture with the past as a necessary step toward achieving the modern. The schism created by World War II in Europe and North America interrupted the culture of art and architecture that was so fecund in the early part of the century. As early as 1929, modern European culture could be represented by two iconic works: Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier, and The Barcelona Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe. These two works of architecture already present contradictory theories of modernism. Corbu posits a rational system of free plan construction within a hermetic envelope and a pre-determined geometric system interrupted by a vertical promenade in section. While Mies uses an open scheme of platforms and free standing walls made of precious materials that does not distinguish between interior and exterior spaces and points to a system that he would later call “universal space.” Modernism even at its inception was multivalent and not the reductive Modern International Style publicized and promoted by Phillip Johnson through the exhibitions and publications at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

South of the border, architecture has been classified as exotic and peripheral by the canonic historical texts of art or architecture written mostly by English or American authors who inevitably include a reference to the work of Niemeyer or Villanueva. These works are included as interesting variations on the original European object. Most historians now acknowledge that the South had a fundamental role in the formation of new modernisms in art and architecture as Europe and North America were engaged in war production and propaganda. The extraordinary diversity of modern architecture built in Brazil alone in the forties by Gregori Warchavchik, Lucio Costa, Flavio de Carvalho, Lina Bo Bardi, M. Roberto, Oscar Niemeyer, Alffonso Reidy, Jorge Moreira, and Bernard Rudofsky is a testament to the effervescence of this modern culture.

By 1936, what we might call the golden era of modern Latin American architecture made it possible to look at the three hundred year old colonial cities with new eyes. Now, to politicians, how to engage modernity became a practical problem to solve. The discussion centered on the “immediate tomorrow.” The concept of time was transformed; this would result in the large-scale transformation of the vibrant metropolises of Latin America and the Caribbean. Today modernity in this enormous territory is no longer the “immediate tomorrow.” The modern city is still incomplete: an urban landscape of inconclusive superimpositions, mistranslations, and mistaken strategies on successively larger scales.

Is it now possible to establish a modernity that is multifocal—one that does not need to negate the regional? Can we have a future without the subaltern? What art, architecture and literature now being produced in Caracas, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Habana, and Ciudad de México speaks to a modernism that is multivalent? To what extent were these cities the location of an international movement that incorporated avant-guarde art and architecture within the heart of the city? These are some of the questions that will be addressed at the October conference.

We are just now beginning to understand the significance and scope of this period and the substantial list of artists and architects who were previously unknown in the standard texts. We will look at the city from the point of view of the citizen and how architecture cannot be separate from the people that inhabit public and private spaces whether made by architects or not. Some terms taken from Homi K. Bhabha, Edward Said, and Vilem Flusser such as “ambivalence,” “hybridization,” “cultural difference,” and ‘the construction of cultural identities’ will be used to reveal the intrinsic contradictions of the contemporary architectural discourse in order to open a path towards a new discourse that is inclusive of the architectural other.

The Bronx Museum conference will investigate art practices in Latin America that did not follow the standard pedagogy of the art schools. Artists were often also students of architecture during of the golden period of 1929–1960. Latin American architects during this period were themselves influenced by art practices from Europe in the ‘20s and ‘30s. Carlos Raul Villanueva was living in Paris in 1937 studying at the Institut d’Urbanisme and was the co-designer with Luis Malaussena of the Venezuelan Pavilion on the Trocadero that won the “Diplome de Gran Prix” at the Paris Exhibition. Villanueva writes about his visit to the pavilion designed by Josep Lluis Sert and Luis Lacasa and built by the Republican loyalist government in exile.

The indelible first impressions that Villanueva collected included Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, the poetry of Paul Eluard, Joan Miro's large canvas of an upraised arm and clenched fist, Alexander Calder's mercury fountain and mobile painted red to symbolize the Spanish Republic, and finally the documentary films shown almost continuously in the auditorium, Madrid ‘36 by Luis Buñuel and Spanish Earth by Joris Ivens and Ernest Hemingway that graphically depicted the suffering of the Spanish people during the civil war.

This encounter was fundamental to Villanueva’s identity as a modern architect following a period of 15 years as an eclectic designer in Venezuela. At Hotel Luteria on Boulevard Raspail, he would sometimes entertain his fellow Venezuelan artists Jesus Soto, Carlos Cruz-Diez and Narciso Debourg. Also on the scene were such other artists, poets, and intellectuals as Dominique Vincent, Leon Joseph Madeline, Jacques Lambert, Paul Lester Wiener, Maurice Rotival, Antonin Artaud, Juan Larrea, Vladimir Mayakovszky, Julio Galvez, Max Jimenez, Juan Gris, Vicente Huidobro, José Bergamin, Rafael Alberti, Federico Garcia Lorca, Andre Malraux, Louis Aragon, and Waldo Frank. Later during the ‘50s and ‘60s, the expatriate Latin American artists living in Paris such as Lygia Clark, Julio Le Parc, Alejandro Otero, Helio Oiticica, Lucio Fontana, Carlos Cruz Diez, and Jesus Soto were all indebted to the architecture that they saw being built in Venezuela, Peru, Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil in the ‘40s and ‘50s.

If Paul Ricoeur, Kennneth Frampton, and Alexander Tzonis’ advocacy for a “Critical Regionalism” was ultimately very Euro-centric, their method of discourse opens the way for dispelling longstanding bias and beginning a more complex discussion of modernism not only incorporating the very important work of Alvar Aalto and Jorn Utzon but forming a more “Atlantic” and “Carribean” view of American architecture. In 1928 the poet Oswald de Andrade in his “Manifesto Antropofago” advocated a “metaphorical cannibalism” as a defense against cultural colonialism. This vast territory called “Latin America” has been building art and architecture for the past four centuries and it is time to analyze what makes this modern art and architecture unique.

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Quick Clicks> Cabrini Lights Up, Earth Powers Down, Calming Queens, and Starchitect Houses
Cabrini Green Kablooey. This Wednesday, the last high rise tower at Chicago's Cabrini Green site will be demolished, marking the end of the famous housing project. Polis reminds us that artist Jan Tichy and social worker Efrat Appel plan to mark the occasion with an art installation. Project Cabrini Green translates 134 poems into light and will begin display at 7:00pm tonight. (Also catch a live internet feed here.) Earth Hour. This past weekend, people, companies, and cities all over the globe celebrated Earth Hour by switching off the lights to spotlight issues of energy consumption. The Boston Globe's Big Picture is running a photo essay of some dramatic skylines with and without lights. Calming Queens. StreetsBlog brings news of New York's latest traffic calming measure proposed for 48th Avenue and 44th Drive in Queens. The block shown above in Long Island City would initially be painted for affordability and eventually transformed into a greenway. Cribs. Inspired by Philip Johnson's Glass House, Curbed goes in search of the homes of famous architects. Represented in the list are Alvar Aalto, Frank Gehry, Norman Foster, and Robert A.M. Stern.
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IBA 2010: The Future Shrinks
Dessau-Rosslau residents have adopted 400-square-meter
Doreen Ritzau

When exultant crowds sledgehammered the Berlin Wall in 1989, the historic moment was a turning point for a divided city and nation, touching off a decades-long urban reinvention that healed the wounds of war while creating one of the world’s most dynamic capital cities. But reunification had its downside—a catastrophe across the former East Germany, where plummeting populations, high unemployment, and rampant disinvestment have brought scores of small and mid-size cities to the brink of ruin. As shops, industries, housing estates, and whole urban quadrants vanish seemingly overnight, the once-resurgent German nation has become a laboratory for the fate of shrinking cities.

For the past eight years, 19 of those cities in the East German state of Saxony-Anhalt have been the subject of the 2010 International Building Exhibition, the latest iteration of Germany’s visionary program, known as IBA, that has anchored innovative architecture and urban thinking in Berlin and beyond. But IBA 2010 is different. Unlike exhibitions of years past—including the 1987 effort that built new housing in West Berlin by an all-star cast of architects, and the earlier Interbau exhibition in 1957 that raised apartment blocks by the likes of Walter Gropius, Alvar Aalto, and Oscar Niemeyer—this was the IBA of unbuilding.

Targeted demolitions provide a ribbon of green space.Targeted demolition has created a new ribbon of landscape in the city.
Juergen Hohmuth

Against a backdrop of dwindling government budgets and a continuing exodus of residents—Saxony-Anhalt’s 2040 population is projected to be half what it was in 1950—the current exhibition set out to prove that it is possible to be smaller and be better. To that end, IBA 2010 has developed a range of pilot schemes for urban innovation, positing that public spaces, social services, and even economic opportunities can all improve despite the region’s demographic death-spiral.

The Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, which staged IBA 2010 with the state development company SALEG, recently invited a group of journalists to seven IBA cities to survey the results. A first impression offers a portrait of urban resilience made possible by an emerging toolkit of tactics—new kinds of ecological infrastructure, small-scale urban interventions, targeted demolition, and citizen-activism—coupled with economic development strategies like tourism, education, and high-tech incubators. In Magdeburg, for instance, a revitalized riverfront is the core of a new urban identity, with an old port reinvented as a science center and other brownfield sites returned to nature. The city of Köthen tapped its heritage as the birthplace of homeopathic medicine, building a new European library for homeopathy and exploring how alternative medical principles might even heal the urban landscape. And Aschersleben has reconcentrated development from the suburbs to the city core, building a new education center and freshening up a once-grimy central thoroughfare with a “drive-thru art gallery” of vibrant installations in vacant lots.

Among the new uses is a multicultural garden.Among the new uses is a multicultural garden.
Juergen Hohmuth

Of the many shrinkage strategies, perhaps the most inspired can be found in Dessau-Rosslau, home to the famed Bauhaus and seat of modernist innovation. Enjoying full employment and a thriving industrial sector prior to reunification, after 1990 Dessau’s job base essentially vanished thanks to competition from the West and the state’s own failed privatization policies. Young, skilled workers bolted, leaving the city with a mortality rate twice as high as its birth rate and a population drop of 25 percent.

  A BMX bike course is among the 19 claims awarded to date.
A BMX bike course is among the 19 claims to date.
Heike Brueckner

The town worked with the Bauhaus on redevelopment efforts, targeting a ribbon of landscape where derelict housing, factories, and infrastructure could be razed to create a contiguous swath of public space in the city center that links different “islands” of urban density. This large-scale landscape zone has been acquired by a variety of means, including negotiations with creditor banks for foreclosed properties and land swaps with owners for parcels in redeveloped areas. The project’s optimistic emblem is a series of 400-square-meter “claims” adopted by individual citizens throughout the new green zone. To date 19 claims have been awarded with 10-year leases, resulting in new public-oriented uses such as an apothecary garden, a multicultural meeting ground, and a BMX bike course. A new path known as the “red thread” weaves through the landscape of low-maintenance wildflower meadows, connecting the claims and the archipelago of smaller, stable urban districts.

IBA 2010’s reinvention of Saxony-Anhalt offers several instructive lessons. Even for a budget-conscious IBA without grand building programs, these efforts required a hefty capital investment: More than 200 million euros from various sources were spent on current IBA initiatives. But that sum is dwarfed by a pot of nearly 2 billion euros from European Union structural funds that have supported programs in all 19 IBA cities over the last decade, plus an ongoing infusion of another billion from European Regional Development Funds that target economic, ecological, and social challenges in urban areas. While Detroit’s urban homesteaders on the inner-city prairie are a good start, it is clear that America’s shrinking cities will need much more federal, state, and local funding to get innovative urban thinking off the ground.

A wall incorporating many recycled materials.
As part of an urban art initiative, a wall has been built out of recycled demolition debris in Aschersleben.

Beyond financial backing, shrinking cities require an equally crucial investment of political capital. For many IBA city mayors, embracing shrinkage was a non-starter. “At first, it was politically almost fatal for any decision-makers to stand up in front of citizens and say: We have a problem. We are shrinking,” said Sonja Beeck, project director for IBA 2010. But in the end, the project’s mounting successes eventually got the region’s stakeholders to adopt the “grow by shrinking” message. That support was made possible by what is perhaps this IBA’s most powerful tool: not urban design or green buildings, but an immersive process of storytelling through stakeholder workgroups, forums, “city stroll” events, and the torturous negotiations that are essential for both public and political buy-in.

Finally, this IBA argues for a trend we’ve seen in postindustrial places everywhere: the key role of landscape architects working at the head of multidisciplinary teams shaping the 21st-century city. While the program’s limited budget and time-frame made a virtue of modest interventions, IBA cities show what’s possible when holistic ecological thinking ties together biodiversity, shared social spaces, and new urban freedoms. Shrinkage is by nature a dynamic process. As these pilot schemes play out over the coming years on one of the richest canvases imaginable—a backdrop of industrial monuments and world-renowned historic fabric—IBA 2010’s open-ended approach to urban reinvention offers a courageous, even uncharted path toward the city of the future.

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Artek Acquires Aero Design Furniture
At Artek's 75th anniversary dinner last week, we heard the news that the Finnish furniture company had acquired the entire share capital of compatriot company Aero Design Furniture (ADF) from owner Juhani Lemmetti, allowing Artek to begin selling the full Ilmari Tapiovaara family of furniture owned by ADF. An admirer of Artek founder Alvar Aalto, Tapiovaara also used architecture as the foundation for his work and his pieces will be a great complement to Artek's line. With the launch of Artek USA earlier this year and expansion in Europe and Japan, the company is poised to help the Tapiovaara collection find new admirers as well. In other Nordic news, Artek's creative director Ville Kokkonen will be taking part in the Nordic Design Now design symposium at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum on Wednesday, November 10th and Thursday, November 11th at 7:00 p.m. The symposium includes two panel discussions, Social Awareness & Sustainability and Design Policy: Lessons Learned, co-presented by the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and Scandinavia House, and are held in conjunction with two exhibits: National Triennial 2010: Why Design Now? at Cooper-Hewitt, and Nordic Models + Common Ground at Scandinavia House.
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Sverre Fehn, 1924-2009
Sverre Fehn's Nordic Pavilion is one of architects' favorites at Venice.

Though awarded the profession’s highest honor—the Pritzker Prize—in 1997, Sverre Fehn, who died in Oslo on February 23 at age 84, was hardly a household name in architecture. The Norwegian architect practiced a poetic modernism in the Scandinavian tradition that was more expressive and less formally driven than Alvar Aalto or Poul Kjaerholm, but powerful in its evocative simplicity. His built works are relatively few and almost all in Norway, but such buildings as the Glacier Museum (1991), the Hedmark Museum (1979), and the Nordic Pavilion for the Venice Biennale (1962) have been recognized as true achievements by academics and practitioners alike, from John Hejduk to Craig Dykers. Here, architect Steven Holl and artist Dan Graham offer their impressions.

The Glacier Museum

Steven Holl, Steven Holl Architects

Sverre Fehn’s architecture was tied deeply to roots, but always futuristic in spirit. His work expressed the power of the inventive, along with marvelous moments of experiential joy. Standing on the roof of his Glacier Museum in Fjaerland, Norway, I had the feeling he was raising man like a mountain, but then putting him in humble awe of the melting glacier in the distance. The inspirational space and light of his Nordic Pavilion in Venice merges thin, delicate concrete with undulating light shot through with the earth’s counterpoint in piercing trees. This space is full of rhythm, asymmetrically unpredictable. Like a forked musical staff of bars in which notes are the existing trees, the silence is broken by a blasting through to the light.

Fehn’s drawings had the continued on delicate power of a scribble that could shape a city. His concept drawing for the Glacier Museum, for instance, is only a few lines, but it carries the immensity of the mountains holding the glacier, while conveying the fragility of the little work of architecture, a scribble on the ground plane. In this sketch, the poetic power of a thought is later concretized in the realized work.

While the greatest lessons are experienced in his built work, he was also an inspirational teacher at the Oslo School of Architecture. In Scandinavian architecture, his realized buildings, though not many, stand as a smiling argument for the modern power of material structure and light in rare poetic balance with natural forces.

The Interior of the Nordic Pavilion.

Dan Graham, Artist

What I love about Fehn’s work is that it doesn’t fight nature, but works with it. At the Glacier Museum, the lichen grows in and out of the concrete walls. I never met him, but everyone I know who did remarked on how kind and gentle and nurturing he was. Brian Halton of the English architecture group NATO once told me that when everyone else was attacking their work, Fehn defended them. Fehn never let form overpower his sense of the integrity of nature. I really like his writings, too, because they deal in a typically modest Norwegian way with architecture in its relationship to nature.

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Standard Hotel
The Standard has the slim profile of a mid-century slab.

Swinging off the broad shoulders of 14th Street onto narrow, cobbled Washington Street in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District still feels like slipping behind a magic curtain. As much as it has changed, you still might catch an unstaged glimpse of white-smocked butchers hoisting prime cuts of beef alongside long-haunched models posing for photo shoots. Life here throngs with urban street theater, a quality irresistible to hotel impresario André Balazs, past master of public exposure, whose latest hotel venture has set necks craning and tongues wagging.

Making a public scene was very much part of the plan for the nearly complete Standard Hotel at 848 Washington Street.A crooked plaza and Lamborghini-yellow doors barely hint that an 18-story broken slab straddles the High Line, the elevated-track-turned-promenade, on sturdily sculpted concrete legs. The structural brazenness of the tower astride the elevated park has already been likened to an architectural lap-dance. “The conventional approach would have been to build out a huge box and put all available square footage on the ground, where it’s cheapest to build,” said Balazs during a tour of the hotel, where about 40 percent of the rooms are now open. “But we wanted to make big public spaces. Other than Paley Park, we have more actively-programmed outdoor square footage than just about anywhere else in the city.”

The site was already a standout with a 360-degree sculptural aspect that is rare in Manhattan. That Balazs took that high visibility in the air and translated it into public accessibility at the ground makes the Standard more noteworthy. Hotels have long had an important role in the public realm, and some of the city’s great rooms are hotel lobbies and bars, so the idea is not a new one. But Balazs knew he had to make his building appeal to locals to succeed. A 2004 plan from another developer, a 32-story corrugated steel condo tower designed by Jean Nouvel, had the neighborhood up in arms and was shot down.

Balazs took over the site and promised to be a better neighbor. ‘’A good hotel is an anchor of its community. Unless the community is on board, it won’t work,’’ he told The New York Times. More recently he told AN, “The goal was to stay away from any regulatory process and anything requiring approvals.”

“It was very important to me to work with someone local,” he added. “As a developer, I couldn’t sustain the political pressure of working with someone who couldn’t run over here and deal with problems.” He hired Polshek Partnership, whose principal Todd Schliemann he had known from their school days at Cornell. “André is very thoughtful about the making of space,” said Schliemann. “While he was thinking how it should feel from the inside out, we were imagining the bulk and wondering how to connect to the High Line.”

The bifurcated lobby (top) features screens by erwin hauer, while the rooms are efficiently contemporary (ABOVE).              
nikolas koenig

At that early stage, however, the High Line as promenade was just an idea. The abandoned track was still owned by rail company CSX, and this allowed Schliemann a free hand in designing how the building would relate to the viaduct. (The Parks Department began to draw up public access regulations after it became city property in November 2005.) “In fact, we were the ones defining all the issues,” he said. “You could hear this great sucking sound behind us as everyone tried to keep up.” While two other warehouses are also over the High Line, the Standard is and will remain the only new construction to straddle it.

For the architects, the main challenge was to make a building that wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the High Line. “We wanted a building to exist separately and not be subservient,” said Schliemann. “So we lifted it up to be a little more heroic.” Structurally a hybrid, the building has over five-foot-thick concrete feet and steel piloti that support two massive trusses and a steel plate 38 feet over the High Line. The rest of the structure is a concrete slab slipped diagonally into a rectilinear zoning envelope. At 20 stories, it could have been taller and still within permissible limits; its 50-foot depth was dictated by the size of the rooms off a corridor. Its distinctive crank came about when the architects and Balazs realized they could capture better views looking north; it also will help to preserve those views in the face of future development. Positioned just where the island of Manhattan cinches in, the hotel presents incomparable views through water-white glass walls in two directions: north, toward the Empire State Building, and south, out over the river to the Statue of Liberty.

There’s a toughness to the structure, reinforced by the choice of materials. Money was spared: Although it’s the first to be built ground up, this is the fourth Standard in the chain that Balazs developed as an economy-class hotel operation. “Because it had to be mid-priced,” Schliemann said, “there would be no architectural concrete, just board concrete. But the rougher material complements the cobblestones; it’s tough but sophisticated, and we thought that was completely right for this Standard in Manhattan.”

The work of Morris Lapidus—particularly his 1960 Sheraton Motor Inn, now the Chinese Consulate on 12th Avenue at 42nd Street— was an inspiration for both the shape of the building and its interior finishes, which are equal parts retro, seductive, and trend-setting. “I like to use modernist pieces, but ones that have been around,” Balazs said. “Even if you don’t know exactly what they are, there’s a familiarity that feels comfortable. It’s very different from a Herzog & de Meuron approach, where it’s like, ‘This is a new vocabulary, get used to it’.” In some cases, the vaguely familiar bits are quite specific take-offs, including a glass facade straight from Arne Jacobsen’s SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen; upside-down champagne flute light fixtures à la Warren Platner; and an assortment of sleek moves from 1960s-era buildings in Brazil. Balazs worked on the interiors with designer Shawn Hausman, with whom he frequently collaborates, and New York–based Roman & Williams. They developed a three-volume look book for the job loaded with vintage 1960s images of work by Lapidus, Arne Jacobsen, Eero Saarinen, Mies van der Rohe, Alvar Aalto, Louis Kahn, Le Corbusier, and Erwin Hauer.

The rooms themselves, though intentionally small at 250 to 460 square feet, feel capacious enough thanks to the distractions of the view and a simple palette: unadorned white walls, upholstered booth-style seating, and honey-toned lacquered wood trim. While some rooms on most floors are now open, the rest of the hotel, including restaurants and a rooftop bar (guaranteed to be so rocking that the floor will be raised on springs to insulate it from the rooms below) won’t be completed until June. Another more publicly accessible bar is suspended alongside the High Line. Balazs is negotiating with the city to connect both this bar and a fire-escape stair directly to the promenade, perhaps with drawbridges. At street level, a steakhouse and an outdoor beer garden right under the High Line will be open to the public directly from Washington Street when they open in June.

Hospitality lore says that design trends in the hotel business shift about every seven years, compared with every two years for cars and every season for fashion. In that case, and if the Standard achieves its promise of opening up to the neighborhood, then perhaps the age of the intimate boutique hotel is about to give way to the more generous charms of the public hotel.

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Stephen Talasnik

The fate of a lot more than who will be the next Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art has been hanging in the balance since Terence Riley announced last month that he was going resign from the position he has held for 14 years: That role has been the primary force able to confer star status on architects (or deny it) and to define new directions in architecture, whether they exist or not.

For 75 years, ever since Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock started research for the 1932 exhibition, catalogue, and book that came to be known as The International Style, MoMA has been creating reputations and identifying trends more successfully than any critic, magazine, book, school, or other institution. Though the show was called Modern Architecture, International Exhibition, it described a particular kind of modern architecture which, like the paintings and sculpture the museum was showing at the time, was assertively geometric and came mostly from Europe. The catalogue's title, Modern Architects, implied a wider reach than it had, since the technologically advanced skyscrapers of the age were not included. And although the exhibition had a section on housing, selected by Lewis Mumford, the overall emphasis was on aesthetics. No wonder the show is usually called The International Style, the title of the book published by Johnson and Hitchcock that same year, minus Mumford's material. What had begun in Europe as a social movement was presented as a style. Hitchcock and Johnson even redrew Mies van der Rohe's 1929 Barcelona Pavilion and 1930 Tugendhat House to emphasize the abstract, geometric qualities that they had identified as characteristic of the style.

Four years ago, Riley and Columbia University architectural historian Barry Bergdoll redressed that distortion in MoMA's Mies in America show by exhibiting original drawings for both buildings along with the ones that had been displayed in 1932, noting the earlier alteration in the exhibition and catalogue. That public institutional admission was only one of a series of decisions Riley made that showed he was his own man. When he was hired, in 1991, after he had organized an exhibition at Columbia University on the history of the International Style show, it was widely assumed that he was Johnson's personal choice and, as such, Johnson's influence would continue.

Johnson had been a potent force at MoMA for years. The stars of the International Style show were given exhibitions again and again (ten on Mies, nine each on Le Corbusier and Wright). Johnson's friends Peter Eisenman, Charles Gwathmey, Michael Graves, John Hejduk, and Richard Meier made their debuts as Five Architects in 1969. When Johnson was flirting with postmodernism, MoMA published Robert Venturi's Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture as the first and only Museum of Modern Art Papers on Architecture (1966) and held The Architecture of the cole des Beaux-Arts exhibition (1976), when Arthur Drexler was curator. And when Johnson lost interest in the movement, he guest-directed the Deconstructivist Architecture show (1988), an event that not only helped counter the classicizing influence of the postmodern movement but also advanced the careers of all the participantssEisenman, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind, Wolf Prix of Coop Himmelb(l)au, Bernard Tschumiiby suggesting that they were the heirs of Russian constructivism and practitioners of a new style, rooted in history and modernism at the same time. They all denied that there was any such thing as decon,, none louder than Eisenman who touted deconstructivist philosophy as an continued on page 14 position is power continued from page 13 influence on his own work, was close to Johnson, and was the main personal link between the participants.

The Deconstructivist Architecture show did, however, rekindle interest in modern (or modernist) architecture, which was good for the Modern. The museum hadn't had an architectural blockbuster since Drexler's 1979 survey, Transformations in Modern Architecture. During the heyday of postmodernism, other institutions, such as the Cooper-Hewitt and the Architectural League of New York, shared the role of tastemaker. And MoMA, which had always undertaken historical exhibitions but mainly of modern masters, showed the work of Gunnar Asplund, Edwin Landseer Lutyens, Ricardo Bofill and Leon Krier as well as of Le Corbusier, Richard Neutra, and Mies as usual. Also during those years, the museum, which had always practiced what it preached, hired Cesar Pelli to design an addition, instead of Johnson who had designed the garden and the earlier new wings. (Philip Goodwin and Edward Durell Stone designed the museum's main building very much in the International Style, in 1939.)

It was only at the very end of the 1980s that younger modern architects' work reappeared on MoMA's walls. While Stuart Wrede was in charge (1986692), there were exhibitions of Emilio Ambasz (a former MoMA curator), Steven Holl, Diller + Scofidio, and Tadao Ando, as well as of Mario Botta and Louis I. Kahn (his sixth at MoMA).

Riley's first show, in 1992, was the small New Furniture Prototypes by Frank Gehry. Then came his Previews series, with the Nara Convention Hall Competition Exhibition by Arata Isozaki, Rafael Viioly's Tokyo International Forum, Raimund Abraham's New Austrian Cultural Institute in New York, and the show, Bernard Tschumi: Architecture and Event.

Riley's OMA at MoMA: Rem Koolhaas and the Place of Public Architecture appeared at the end of 1994, around the same time S,M,L,XL was catapulting the Dutch architect to superstar status. The following September, Light Construction focused on thin-skinned, transparent and translucent buildings by more than 30 architects from ten countries. Works by Herzog & de Meuron, Jean Nouvel, Renzo Piano, Gigon and Guyer, Nicholas Grimshaw, Toyo Ito, Fumihiko Maki, Ben van Berkel, many of whom were little known in this country at the time, were shown along with those by well-known Americans, such as Johnson, Gehry, Holl, Tschumi, and Tod Williams Billie Tsien, newcomers like Joel Sanders, Thanhauser & Esterson, and some visual artists. The premise of the show was rather elusive but Riley proved that he was willing to take risks and promote work different than his own. (Like previous heads of MoMA's architecture and design departmenttJohnson, Philip Goodwin, Drexler, and WredeeRiley is a practicing architect, in partnership with John Keenen.)

During Riley's tenure, his department staged, as it always had, historical shows (on the United Nations, Alvar Aalto, Lilly Reich, Wright, Mies) as well as more unconventional presentations like Fabrications (1998), a three-museum event that invited architects to create site-specific installations (at MoMA, contributors were TEN Arquitectos with Guy Nordensen, Office dA, Smith-Miller + Hawkinson, and Munkenbeck + Marshall) and A Paper Arch (2000) by Shigeru Ban, a grand latticed canopy for the museum's garden. Riley's ambitious The Un-Private House (1999) introduced a number of new talents (Michael Bell, Thomas Hanrahan and Victoria Meyers, Hariri & Hariri, Winka Dubbeldam) and ways of exhibiting architecture. The gallery was arranged as rooms to sit in, including a living room in front of a large video screen and a dining table with interactive electronic images projected at each place-setting.

Riley also played an advisory role when the museum began planning another addition to almost double its size. Most, but not all, of the architects invited to compete were ones whose work he had shownnHerzog & de Meuron, Holl, Ito, Koolhaas, Tschumi, Viioly, Williams/Tsien. Also invited were Wiel Arets, Dominique Perrault, and Yoshio Taniguchi, who won the commission. The sensibilities Riley had highlighted in his shows were very much in evidence in the museum competition, while Johnson's friends were not.

Johnson's early emphasis on aesthetics, however has been dominant at MoMA in recent decades. The architecture shown at the MoMA, like the art, is chosen for artistic merit and originality first. From the museum's beginning, under its zealous first director, Alfred H. Barr, Jr., the museum's staff saw their new institution as a populist one whose fundamental mission was to educate the general public about the developing culture of modernism,, former MoMA curator Matilda McQuaid writes in an essay that appeared in the exhibition catalogue Envisioning Architecture: Drawings from the Museum of Modern Art (Museum of Modern Art, 2002). Although it was the first museum devoted to modern art, and the first general fine-arts museum to have a curatorial department devoted to architecture,, writes Riley in his contribution to the same catalogue, the MoMA was chartered as an educational institution, rather than a museum.. The museum has always had extensive lectures, tours, and symposia to accompany its exhibitions.

Before World War II MoMA also actively tried to link architects and potential clients,, McQuaid notes in her essay. And because for a long time it was the only place where architecture was exhibited with art, MoMA's influence in the world of architecture may have been greater than its impact on painting and sculpture, which were shown in museums and galleries throughout the world. Placing architecture and design in a fine art museum privileges aesthetics, but it also allows a consideration of their personal, private, technological, handmade, and visionary aspects. At least partly because of MoMA's influence, these dimensions of architecture and design are being celebrated today at the Canadian Center for Architecture, Georges Pompidou Center, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Netherlands Architecture Institute, and a whole host of progeny the world over. But the Museum of Modern Art is still the mother ship, so it matters very much who takes Terence Riley's job and what he or she does with it.

Jayne Merkel is a New York writer whose most recent book is Eero Saarinen (Phaidon, 2005).