Since 2003, Open House New York Weekend has offered an open platform for New Yorkers to discuss and discover the architecture and public space of the city and to get involved in shaping its future. This past weekend, coinciding with Archtober, OHNY held events across the city’s five boroughs that engaged New York’s denizens with the architectural past, present, and future. AN has rounded up a few of our favorite sites for those who didn’t make it out. Bronx Community College: Marcel Breuer Buildings At the Bronx Community College (what was then part of NYU), the legendary modernist icon Marcel Breuer built five buildings, mostly in his signature concrete, over the course of just more than a decade. African Burial Ground National Monument The solemn, curving African Burial Ground National Monument, designed by Rodney Leon, was built in 2007 to commemorate the nearly 15,000 people of African descent, both enslaved and free, that were buried in Lower Manhattan from the early 17th century to the late 18th century. Nevelson Chapel at Saint Peter’s Church A relatively little-known Midtown chapel is also a pilgrimage site for art enthusiasts. One of the 20th century’s most important figures in sculpture, Louise Nevelson, created an installation for this chapel in Saint Peter’s Church, which was designed by Hugh Stubbins and Easley Hamner with interiors by Lella and Massimo Vignelli. Originally opened in 1977, the Nevelson Chapel is currently undergoing a major restoration. Brooklyn Army Terminal The now-defunct, massive Brooklyn Army Terminal has become a sort of landmark for its unusual atrium, featuring abandoned railway tracks and a balcony-punctuated facade, perhaps reminiscent of an austere version of a John Portman interior. The 95-acre complex was designed by Cass Gilbert in 1919. City College of New York: Solar RoofPod & Harlem Garden for Urban Food At The Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at City College is an 800-square-foot, net-plus-energy experiment in green urban energy production, adjoined by a rooftop garden for research in sustainable food production. 17th and 18th century houses in Queens and Brooklyn Across Queens are some of New York City’s earliest surviving structures including the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House (1709) in Ridgewood, as well as the Bowne House (c. 1660) and the Queens Historical Society at Kingsland Homestead (1774–1785) in Flushing. Also on the list was New York’s oldest surviving building: the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum (1652). OHNY also featured several special series and days, including Factory Friday, which opened up fabrication studios to the public. Works by Women, a list of projects built by women and designed by women-led firms, like Deborah Berke Partners, Selldorf Architects, and Architecture Research Office, were also available to explore, as well open studios with firms across the city.
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The New York Film Festival features architecture on the big screen
The 56th New York Film Festival, running from September 28–October 14, features several films where architecture plays a starring role. The architecture cameos are numerous. Orson Welles’s until-now-unfinished film The Other Side of the Wind features a hillside mansion in Carefree, Arizona, that is down the street from the Paolo Soleri–designed house used in Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point (1970). The laboratory in Diamantino uses multiple locations: the 2011 Alcantara Wastewater Treatment Plant in Lisbon by Aires Mateus, Frederico Valsassina, and João Nunes, the 1926 Lisbon Greenhouse by Raul Carapinha, and the 18th-century Palacio do Correio Mor designed António Canevari. The 2007 Museum of Civilisations from Europe and the Mediterranean by Rudy Ricciotti appears in Transit. The commissioning of Blenheim Palace by Queen Anne for Sarah Churchill is a plot point in The Favourite. A lonely one-story bank building on the open prairie features in an episode of the Coen Brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. One character burns down and another monitors greenhouses in Burning. Octogenarian Manfred Kirchheimer’s latest film, Dream of a City, is culled from lush footage taken over 60 years in New York, his adopted hometown after fleeing Nazi Germany. Among his other films are Stations of the Elevated, Bridge High, and Tall: The American Skyscraper and Louis Sullivan. In one sequence from Dream, structures are seen in abstract compositions, like a Franz Kline painting. Streetlife scenes feature kids on stoops, old ladies in windows, housewives on fire escapes, the digging up of sidewalks to plant trees, and the wheeling of a bass violin on a crowded street, accompanied by clever music choices. Sinatra’s It Had to be You plays against a building where every window sports the letter “U.” Gropius Memory Palace by Ben Thorp Brown uses the architect's 1911 Fagus Factory as an exploration of psychoanalytic space and means of recollection. Shot in the Gropius building and using contemporary photographs by Albert Renger-Patzsch featuring the building's glass curtain wall and yellow brick structure, the film explores the building through exercises including breathing and words from a hypnotherapist. In From Its Mouth Came a River of High-End Residential Appliances viewers experience a drone's-eye view flying through super-skyscraper apartment buildings in Hong Kong that have cutouts in their centers for mythological dragons to pass through that have been formulated by feng shui practitioners. Every time the camera clears an aperture, a bell rings. Musical instrument maker Rick Kelly, the proprietor of Carmine Street Guitars, uses wood salvaged, purchased, or dumpster-dived from New York City buildings. His preferred materials give a particular resonance to the guitars. McSorley’s Old Ale House, Chumley’s speakeasy at 86 Bedford Street, Trinity Church, and the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral are just some of the sources, which are labeled and often engraved on the guitars. Kelly says it’s using the “bones of old New York” while Lenny Kaye, Patti Smith’s guitarist, says strumming these instruments is “like playing a piece of New York.” As guitarists like Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot, Nels Cline (Wilco), Kirk Douglas (The Roots), Christine Bougie (Bahamas), Charlie Sexton (Bob Dylan), actress Eszter Balint, and filmmaker Jim Jarmusch visit to try out the guitars, Kelly’s apprentice photographs #guitarporn. Kelly has been making guitars since the late 1970s, and in this West Village location since 1990 (it’s next door to where Jackson Pollock lived), but the threat of gentrification looms. A Colombian drug lord creates a fictional, extravagant mansion from the 1980s nighttime TV soap opera Dynasty in Labyrinth. Although the house is now in ruins, the film intercuts the television program with images of a lavish Latin American lifestyle. Trees Down Here examines Cambridge University’s Cowan Court, a 2016 building by 6a Architects at Churchill College that uses oak and birch in contrast to the original Brutalist 1960s buildings by Richard Sheppard. Plans, models, archival footage, owls, snakes, and swaying trees are set to the music of John Cage and a poem by John Ashbery. The film premiered at the Venice Architecture Biennale.
New York City’s Storefront for Art and Architecture has a new executive director and chief curator, and it is writer and curator José Esparza Chong Cuy. Esparza will be stepping down from his post as curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and will take over from Storefront’s interim director Jinny Khanduja (who will serve as deputy director) come November 1, 2018. Esparza’s selection follows a summer-long search after Storefront’s previous director, Eva Franch i Gilabert, decamped for London earlier this year to lead the Architectural Association. Franch’s eight-year tenure at Storefront saw the nonprofit organization dramatically expand its fundraising activities, programming, lectures, and the variety of its shows (Full disclosure: The Architect’s Newspaper’s editor-in-chief William Menking serves on Storefront’s board). AN spoke with Esparza on what led him to Storefront, his history with architecture and art, and what’s next for the well-known New York institution now that he’s at its head. Esparza, who grew up in Mexicali and studied architecture in Guadalajara—a city deeply influenced by the legacy of modernist legends like Luis Barragán—was hugely marked by the city’s formalist approach to architectural practice at the time he was studying. This eventually motivated his move to New York City in 2007, where he interned at Storefront and eventually became a curatorial associate under the tenure of former director Joseph Grima. That experience in his early years, according to Esparza, is what gave him a “completely different sense of the practice, both the limits and the possibilities.” A research fellowship at the nearby New Museum, his time spent writing for Domus, and the Master of Science he received in Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices in Architecture from Columbia University in 2012, helped expose Esparza to what he described as a radical new type of energy for the profession. In 2013, Esparza co-curated the Lisbon Architecture Triennale and commissioned work by Frida Escobedo and Andrés Jaque, including Escobedo’s tilting civic stage and Jaque’s Superpowers of Ten. He attributed the experimental ideas he wanted to bring to the Triennale as stemming from his time at Storefront and the organization’s history. So, what’s next for Storefront? In discussing the organization’s future, Esparza was sure to mention the “revolutionary” moment in the 1970s and '80s where museums of contemporary culture sprung up one after another to exhibit work that wasn’t being shown anywhere else. The Studio Museum in Harlem was founded in 1968, El Museo del Barrio in 1969, the New Museum in 1977; Esparza explicitly connected the spirit of that moment to the existence of Storefront (founded in 1982). “I think there is a huge opportunity in the flexibility that a small organization allows. I think it’s a really rare case in the landscape of cultural institutions, not just because it operates at the intersection of art and architecture, but also because it’s preserved its alternative voice. This might be one of the few remaining alternative spaces. “I want to design a strong exhibition-based program that builds on itself, so that somehow, one after another, it unfolds this broader message. I want it to build bridges between not only context and geography, but disciplines and audiences.” Esparza, who previously served as associate curator at Museo Jumex in Mexico City, mentioned that he would also like to expand Storefront’s programming beyond a regional scope to wherever groundbreaking work is occurring, “whether it’s in Chinatown or Caracas.” As the program unfolds, a message of what Storefront is working toward and what it stands for will, according to Esparza, become clear to the audience. Esparza stressed that he would look to bolster both Storefront’s experimental critical voice and its foundations, so that the institution could continue to flourish. “We are thrilled to welcome José to the helm of Storefront, the very institution where he began his curatorial career over a decade ago,” said Charles Renfro, president of Storefront’s board of directors. “Since then, he has established himself as an innovative thinker working across disciplines in some of North America's most prestigious cultural institutions. “José’s rigor and insight will reinforce Storefront’s role as a crucial and necessary platform at the intersection of art and architecture. Through his background and experiences in Mexico, the U.S., and globally, he embodies the broad perspectives that Storefront has become known for, bringing a critical voice to contemporary issues at every scale—from local and regional to national and international. We are excited to have him lead the vision for Storefront’s future.”
Missed some of our articles, tweets, or Facebook posts from the last few days? Don’t sweat it—we’ve gathered the week’s must-read stories right here. Enjoy! AN tours the Glenstone Museum's new Pavilions AN toured the $200-million addition to the Glenstone Museum, a new set of galleries and an additional 130 acres of restored natural woodlands in the suburbs outside of Washington, D.C. After a decade-long fight over I-81, Syracuse inches toward a decision As the battle to run Interstate 81 through the heart of downtown Syracuse drags on, community groups and the state's department of transportation are all jockeying for solutions that won't disrupt the city. Opinion: It’s time to recognize Pereira’s LA Times building The current proposal to bisect the Los Angeles Times’ buildings facing City Hall on First Street would delete a key chapter from the city’s collective memory. That's it! Enjoy the end of September.
AN tours the Glenstone Museum’s new Pavilions
The Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland, may not be a recognizable name to non-art historians, but with the opening of the institution’s new Pavilions to the public, a 204,000-square-foot collection of galleries, that may all be about to change. The original Glenstone building opened in 2006, as an invitation-only showcase of cofounders Mitchell and Emily Wei Rales’s private collection of post-war art on their property, in the vein of New York City’s Frick Collection. The squat, modernist assemblage, designed by Charles Gwathmey of Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, only held 9,000 square feet of gallery space. It’s estimated the facility only welcomed approximately 10,000 visitors from its opening in 2006 through 2013 when the Pavilions were announced. The Pavilions, an assemblage of what appears to be 11 separate volumes, but is actually one interconnected building, was designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners (no strangers to high-end museum design) and vastly expands the Glenstone’s exhibition space. The new complex adds 50,000 square feet of gallery space to the campus, with one room per Pavilion section. Phifer and PWP Landscape Architecture have smartly sited the Pavilions, hiding the double- and triple-height buildings amid 230 acres of restored woodlands. The parking lots have been kept on the opposite side of the property, forcing visitors to take a winding path on which the complex rises and reveals itself along with Jeff Koons’s monumental and ever-changing plant installation, Split-Rocker. Guests must first pass through the new visitors’ center, a smaller Phifer addition that foreshadows what’s to come. The center extends the Pavilions’ presence by using the same material palette; smooth-to-the-touch precast concrete blocks that wrap both the facade and interior, cast-in-place raw concrete ceilings, a terrazzo-epoxy mixture for the floors, full-height windows, and a white maple cladding in the more intimate areas. After descending into the main galleries through the entrance hall, visitors realize that the seemingly disparate volumes spied from outside are all linked by glass hallways and that the pavilions are oriented around an 18,000-square-foot “water court” at ground level. The windows, up to 30-feet-tall in some places, flood the hallways and gallery spaces with natural light, and in the enclosed rooms, clerestory windows and acid-etched skylights create an ever-changing lighting condition. The Pavilions proper were designed around the philosophy of what Emily Wei Rales, also Glenstone’s director, described as “slow art.” The close attention to natural lighting, the spotty cell service, the meandering paths through the landscape, and the guides in each room that will replace information placards, are meant to encourage visitors to slow down and pay close attention to the art. Visiting the Glenstone is free, and the Raleses hope that the changing of the seasons, different weather conditions, and changing light over the course of the day will give guests unique views of the art on each visit. According to Rales, the architecture, landscape, and art are meant to act in harmony and balance each other. Though the Pavilions are a bit austere and over-scaled in places—9 of the 11 rooms are given to a single artist, and some hold only a single piece—small surprises abound. Turning the corner and spotting Martin Puryear’s red Big Phrygian at the end of a hallway is a joyful experience, and noticing how slabs of concrete seem to “float” overhead above the skylights adds an element of danger to sometimes staid rooms. One of the 11 rooms, clad entirely in maple, consists solely of a library, bench, and a massive window that looks out on the landscape, turning the ecosystem and other guests into something to pause and reflect on. Other than the Pavilions and the entrance hall, the $200-million project includes two more intimately scaled cafes and an environmental center that are expected to open in 2019. Glenstone’s newest additions, including the Cafe and Patio buildings, will open their doors to the public on October 4. Visiting hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Thursday through Sunday.
What is New England architecture?
New England might not garner the attention that other places get for contemporary architecture, but the region has a legacy of world-class architecture, including some great works of modernism. Two iconic monuments of modern architecture in America are in New England—Le Corbusier’s Carpenter Center at Harvard and Alvar Aalto’s Baker House at MIT—along with seminal late-modern buildings such as Boston City Hall and the Yale Center for British Art. Today, many contemporary design stars have built structures across New England, including Frank Gehry, Rafael Moneo, Norman Foster, Herzog & de Meuron, Michael Hopkins, Renzo Piano, Charles Correa, Fumihiko Maki, and Tadao Ando. The finalists for a competition for a new contemporary art museum on Boston’s waterfront included Switzerland’s Peter Zumthor and Studio Granda from Iceland. The only local firm considered for the museum was the then relatively young Office dA; principals Nader Tehrani and Monica Ponce de León went on to fame as architectural educators beyond Boston. Although not unique to New England, the whole mentality of "if-you-are-good-you-must-be-from-somewhere-else" is found here. As one might expect, Boston is the center of most architectural activity in the region. Yet, despite a heroic postwar age of Brutalism, too much contemporary architecture barely rises above the level of commercial real estate. With the exception of Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Institute of Contemporary Art and David Hacin’s District Hall, much of the frantic new downtown construction features the kind of glass boxes that pierce city skylines from Dubai to Shanghai. The city’s embarrassingly named Innovation District (often called the Inundation District due to its propensity for flooding) is scaleless, overbearing, and disconnected from the soul of Boston. OMA’s new scheme for the area—which the architects gratuitously refer to as “a dynamic and vibrant area that is quickly emerging as one of the most exciting neighborhoods and destinations in the country”—is an 18-story glass cube with the dreary moniker of 88 Seaport Boulevard. One might have hoped for more from OMA’s first Boston commission. The block will offer almost half a billion square feet of office space, 60,000 square feet of retail, and a paltry 5,000 square feet for civic and cultural use. Its gimmick is slicing the building into two sections with some terracing and plantings sandwiched in between. OMA disingenuously claims this double-volume exercise “creates diverse typologies for diverse industries,” and furthermore “generates an opportunity to draw in the district’s public domain.” In short, Boston will get an off-the-shelf dystopian nightmare. However, the Engineering Research Center at Brown University by KieranTimberlake is not just another knockoff. Although flush from the controversial but triumphant U.S. Embassy in London, the Philadelphians’ latest New England project is what good contemporary architecture ought to be. The $88-million, 80,000-square-foot laboratory and classroom building is both understated and environmentally responsible. Its 22 pristine labs steer the Ivy League school into uncharted territory in nano research, energy studies, and information technology. The ERC is a triumph, especially given Brown’s decades of struggle to find an appropriate contemporary architectural voice. Recent work on the Providence campus includes an international relations institute by Rafael Viñoly—the design of which was dumbed down to mollify historic preservationists; a tepid Maya Lin sculpture; and an awkwardly sited Diller Scofidio + Renfro art center that was commissioned to show that Brown could do trendy and edgy. These common missteps are best exemplified by the university’s first competition for an athletic center. Although the competition was officially won by SHoP, the donor sponsoring it declared his dislike of modern architecture and demanded the school hire Robert A.M. Stern instead. The cutesy Georgian result is predictably bland. The ERC was ahead of schedule and under budget, and rather than treating Rhode Islanders as rubes, the architects created what Stephen Kieran calls “a nice piece of Providence urbanism.” While the firm’s great strength is diminishing the environmental impact of their buildings, the ERC also contributes a handsome facade to the campus’s traditional buildings. The fiberglass-reinforced concrete fins, the building’s signature element, impose a timeless probity worthy of Schinkel. If KieranTimberlake grows weary of being identified as the designers of the $1-billion embassy that Trump slammed as “lousy and horrible,” imagine how tired Tod Williams and Billie Tsien must be of consistently being tagged with the label “designers of the Obama Library.” Is a client choosing them because of the reflected fame? Will all new works by the New York-based architects be measured against that Chicago shrine? Yet Williams and Tsien have created a number of noteworthy academic works in New England that deserve similar attention, including buildings at Bennington and Dartmouth. Their theater and dance building at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, is almost complete. Here, the very long shadow is not cast by the architects’ own projects, but by Louis Kahn’s library across campus. Kahn’s brick tribute to 19th-century Yankee mills—and the symmetry of Georgian style—is one of the great pieces of architecture in New England. The big block of the drama building by Williams and Tsien wisely does not choose to echo Kahn but is curiously almost a throwback to the early Brutalism of I. M. Pei. It establishes a more rugged character with a marvelous texture composed of gray Roman bricks. A more satisfying Granite State structure by Williams and Tsien is a library, archives, and exhibition complex at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. MacDowell is a century-old artists’ colony where thousands of painters, writers, and musicians, including James Baldwin, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, and Willa Cather, have sought quiet and isolation in a collection of rustic cabins in the woods. Thornton Wilder wrote his classic play Our Town during his time here. Williams and Tsien’s sensitive addition to the colony’s 1920s library is only 3,000 square feet, cost around $2 million, and is an exquisitely crafted gem. The single-story library is constructed of a nearly black granite. Set in a birch grove created by the leading modern landscape architects in Boston, Reed Hilderbrand, this gathering place for residents appears at one with the rocky soil and forests of Northern New England. A 23-foot-tall outdoor chimney flanking the entrance plaza to the library makes reference to the hearths in all of the MacDowell studios. It also looks like a primitive stele, giving the entire ensemble an aspect that is more primal than modern. Another prominent New York architect, Toshiko Mori, has produced a simple yet elegant warehouse for an art museum in the faded seaport and art destination of Rockland, Maine. Built to house a long-time contemporary art cooperative that had no permanent collection and only inadequate facilities for exhibitions and classes, the saw-toothed clerestories at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA) make reference to New England factories while bringing in what the architect calls “that special Maine light.” Like those functional structures, Mori used economical, non-custom materials such as plasterboard and corrugated zinc that wrap the exterior, embracing the lack of funds to her advantage. Despite the nod to Rockland’s working class vibe, Mori created a thoughtfully wrought sophisticated work of art on an unremarkable side street. Mori’s Japanese heritage comes through in her subtle proportions based on a 4-foot grid. The CMCA offers a refreshing contrast to extravagantly costly new museums by superstar architects—the 11,000-square-foot arts center cost only $3.5 million. Mori has crafted a museum based on flexibility rather than attitude. A summer resident of nearby North Haven, she endowed her simple statement with an air of Yankee frugality. But perhaps the most encouraging new project is the $52-million John W. Olver Design Building at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. A cooperative venture of three departments in three different colleges—architecture, landscape, and building technology—the autumn-hued, aluminum-wrapped school embodies the dynamic spirit of New England’s first publicly supported architecture program. The 87,000-square-foot studio and administrative space is the work of Boston–based Leers Weinzapfel and landscape designer Stephen Stimson, with contributions from the faculty-cum-clients. Construction Technology chair Alexander Schreyer, for example, a guru of heavy-timber structural systems, helped fashion what is perhaps the largest wood-frame building on the East Coast. The zipper trusses that span the 84-by-56-foot, two-story-high common area demonstrate the inventiveness of wood technology. The glulam trusses arrived on-site precut and were snapped together with pins. In short, the academic contributors got to show off their research and also benefit from it. In a region noted for some of the nation’s oldest and most renowned design schools, the Design Building announces the arrival of the new kid on the block. Its handsome envelope is pierced by asymmetrically placed tall and narrow fenestration as a nod to the doors of the tobacco barns that are the university’s neighbors in Massachusetts’s Pioneer Valley. From its roots as a fledgling offering in the art department in the early 1970s, design education at UMass has grown into a powerhouse. As the core of a complex of postwar and contemporary architecture, the Design Building helps to bring Roche Dinkeloo’s Brutalist Fine Arts Center into contact with a business school designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). While BIG’s work is sometimes incredibly innovative, the firm’s UMass project looks as if it might be another example of a second-tier work foisted on a boondocks location. Less flashy than its newer neighbor, Leers Weinzapfel’s Design Building is nonetheless a bold, homegrown achievement. New England’s patrimony is a tapestry of local and outside talent. A significant regional building would not be a postmodern structure in the shape of a lighthouse or a neotraditional re-creation of a Richardson library, but something like the UMass studios. Capturing the spirit of the best of New England design depends little upon reputation and huge expenditure. Rather, there is a direct correlation between realizing a quality work of art and understanding the region’s history of wresting a hard-won life from the granite earth. The challenge for successfully practicing architecture in New England is accepting an uncompromising intellectual toughness that demands respect for the eminently practical as well as the aspirational.
Happy Labor Day!
Weekend Edition: Tennis, crazy parties, and a funky museum
Missed some of our articles, tweets, or Facebook posts from the last few days? Don’t sweat it—we’ve gathered the week’s must-read stories right here. Enjoy! Amos Rex brings underground art and a lunar playscape to Helsinki The $64-million Amos Rex museum in Helsinki, Finland, recently opened. It was carried out by local Finnish firm JKMM and supported largely by Konstamfundet, the association behind the old Amos Rex Art Museum. It created a hilly public plaza with series of cavernous, skylit spaces below. NYCHA orgy rounds out disastrous summer for the public housing agency New York City papers reported this week that employees for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) have been having regular orgies in a Bronx public housing complex. The bombshell is a bizarre cap on a summer of horrible news for the agency. New naturally-ventilated Louis Armstrong Stadium debuts at US Open Now in its 50th year, the tournament is playing out within the newly renovated USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens. The five-year, $600-million project is now finished with the opening of the site’s final project: the Louis Armstrong Stadium, the world’s first naturally ventilated tennis arena with a retractable roof. Happy Labor Day, and see you Tuesday!
The expressed goal of the inaugural FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art is to shine a spotlight on the cultural landscape of Cleveland, a city many might overlook when thinking of art hubs. The organizers of FRONT, of which there are many, are taking their chances on yet another triennial/biennial event but are decidedly not relying on a market-based model, like Art Basel or the closer Expo Chicago. In doing so the city is hoping to set itself apart and focus on the cultural aspects of the art, rather than the scene of art culture. The first thing that will strike visitors to FRONT is its scope. With this year’s theme, An American City: Eleven Cultural Exercises, it can honestly be said that the show spans much of the city, including dipping its toes into Lake Erie. With no single institution claiming the show as its own, each of the city's major art museums and a number of galleries and universities have worked in unison to produce the encompassing show. It is a credit to Curator Lisa Kurzner, Artistic Director Michelle Grabner, Executive Director Fred Bidwell, and their team that such a complex undertaking could be negotiated. Public spaces and government buildings also get in on the act with massive new murals, large-scale sculptures, and a number of temporary installations. In many ways, these pieces, outside of typical presentation settings, are the most striking. Possibly the least expected of the non-traditional spaces to show art is the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Completed in 1923, and fully adorned in ornate gold and marble details, the lobby of the bank is home to a mesmerizing video and sound installation entitled Volatility Smile by New York-based Midwest-native Philip Vanderhyden. The 24-channel video of digitally rendered abstract forms plays with imagery pulled directly from the space itself. A similarly poignant installation fills the large gallery of the downtown Cleveland Public Library. The American Library continues Yinka Shonibare's research-based cultural art practice. The piece is composed of thousands of books covered in African cloth and embossed with the names of American immigrants. The bright color and context of the piece make accessible the timely content, which builds on Shonibare's work dealing with post-colonialism around the world. The work within the established art museums and galleries is broad-ranging and varied, and many pieces are not to be missed. At Case Western University and MOCA Cleveland, a giant silver hand by sculptor Tony Tasset welcomes guests to the museum and the university, both of which are also participating in FRONT. The inside of the Farshid Moussavi-designed MOCA Cleveland echoes with the soundtrack of Cyprien Gaillard’s Nightlife, a slow-motion 3-D video installation of animated urban plant life. It is as intoxicatingly beautiful as it is hypnotizing. Equally powerful, if not much quieter, is what may be the hidden gem of the entire exhibition. Located in the oldest church in Cleveland along a quiet street, Night Coming Tenderly, Black by photographer Dawoud Bey exemplifies the type of work that FRONT is aiming to promote. Both regionally specific and universally accessible, the large installation fills the pews of St. John’s Episcopal Church with almost completely black images depicting landscapes that escaped slaves traveling the Underground Railroad would have encountered. Appropriately, the church itself was the final stop along the perilous system of safe heavens before escapees crossed Lake Erie into Canada. The placement of the large-scale prints in the pews allows for viewers to sit unusually close to the images, making them incredibly immersive as one studies their intense shadowy detail. In many ways, FRONT International has set itself up to achieve its goal of bringing the world to Cleveland. The array of work is a testament to the cooperation between institutions, which would seem unlikely to happen in the more competitive art scenes of larger cities. The work is often both specific to Cleveland as well as relevant to outsiders. Taken in all together, the show is exciting and shows the potential when a city like Cleveland puts on an international exhibition. Does the world need another art festival? Perhaps not, but if we are going to get one, Cleveland seems to have figured out a way to make it worthwhile.
Corning on Dekalb
Glassblowing barge brings the traditional craft to New York’s waterways
Corning is going back to its roots for the 150th anniversary of the company’s move to Corning, New York. The Corning Museum of Glass has tapped the McLaren Engineering Group’s nautical and entertainment departments for the creation of GlassBarge, a mobile glassworking studio set to travel from Brooklyn to the upstate city. McLaren repurposed an existing 30-by-80-foot barge to create room for both glassblowing performances and space for 150 spectators. The entire barge was also topped with a 30-by-69-foot-long retractable canopy to protect against harsh weather. Corning was born the Brooklyn Flint Glass Company until they packed up and moved upstate to Corning in 1868. GlassBarge will retrace the historic company's move across the state’s waterways. The barge launched from Brooklyn Bridge Park in May and will ultimately make 29 stops, hosting public demonstrations and lectures along the way before it arrives at Seneca Lake Pier in Watkins Glen on September 14. After that, the barge will travel to its final home at the Port of Coeymans, just south of Albany, in October. “We used our experience working on Broadway theaters and concert stage performances to create stadium seating that amplified the viewer experience,” said Steven Bonadonna, technical design manager at McLaren, “while collaborating with our marine experts to maximize occupancy on the floating structure.” Floating performance spaces have a storied architectural history, from Louis Kahn's floating orchestra hall Point Counterpoint II, to this year's inflatable Antepavilion competition winner in London. Tickets to the remaining GlassBarge demonstrations can be reserved here.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, has launched a new program to accommodate people with sensory sensitivities. Starting August 24, the museum will offer visitors free kits with a variety of equipment that they can use throughout their visit. According to Cleveland Scene, the kits include "noise-dampening headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards, weighted lap pads, and other resources." The Hall of Fame joins a variety of institutions that have taken similar steps toward inclusivity in recent years. Smithsonian reported earlier this year on a variety of D.C. museums that have tried to become more sensory friendly by opening early for quiet hours or by creating dimly-lit spaces that visitors can retreat to should they become overwhelmed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City offers a sensory friendly guide that highlights spaces that tend to be quiet and dimly lit along with spaces that are often loud and crowded. Autism Friendly Spaces, a New York–based nonprofit whose mission is to "unlock minds and transform spaces to welcome the full participation of the autism community," says that sensory friendly spaces adjust "the auditory, visual, and olfactory stimulation to levels acceptable for the population that will be experiencing it." People with autism spectrum disorder may be "more or less sensitive than other people to sensory input, such as light, noise, clothing, or temperature," according to the National Institute of Mental Health. For museums like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, sensory sensitivity poses a real challenge because many shows are designed to stimulate a variety of senses at once. As Smithsonian noted, exhibition design has trended toward multisensory experiences that are more than purely visual displays. The sensitivity kits offer a variety of tools that can either dampen sensory input or offer coping mechanisms, like the fidget tools or weighted lap pads, and they are one way in which museum design is tackling inclusivity and accessibility more broadly.
History of the New York City skyline comes alive in new exhibit
A new exhibit at The Skyscraper Museum in New York City traces the evolution of the city's skyline from the 19th century to the present day and into plans for the future. With a mix of archival photography, interactive graphics, models, and drawings, the exhibit breaks down the skyline's history into distinct eras and traces the various influences that have shaped the city. In the exhibit, the history of the city's buildings becomes a lens through which to view the history of the city, and even the country, as a whole. Technological innovations like the elevator and electric lighting are given form as buildings become radically taller and bigger, visible indications of radical changes in the way city dwellers lived. Other forces, like the rise of building setback codes and the later creation of privately-owned public spaces (POPS), are illustrated with detailed models and explanations of figures like Hugh Ferris and others who have permanently changed skyscraper design in New York and around the world. Highlights of the show include extremely detailed photos from the early 20th century and panoramas that track the skyline's evolution over more than a century. The exhibit shows how New York City, with a vertical cityscape unlike almost any other in the world, actually reflects global trends and innovations as much as it charts its own course. Photographs in the show bring to life the city's past as a mid-rise port for steamships and schooners in stunning detail. It's almost possible to count the bricks on some 1876 views. The show follows the city into the glass-and-steel postwar period and charts the rise of new supertalls in midtown. Current and future projects are put into context by comparing them to the designs and technology of their predecessors. Without explicitly praising or criticizing any developments, the show presents change simply as an inevitable part of the life of the city. SKYLINE Open through January 2019 The Skyscraper Museum 39 Battery Place New York, New York, 10280
The Museum in the Garden State
OMA selected to design a new Jersey City Museum
OMA has been selected by the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency (JCRA) to design the new Jersey City Museum, which will become the largest arts and culture center in Jersey City, New Jersey, once complete. OMA and AEA Consulting will provide architectural and programmatic guidance for the city-owned art museum respectively, while AMO will conduct in-house research and design. The museum is slated to open inside of the 57,000-square-foot Pathside Building near Journal Square and will be Jersey City's largest art center, according to OMA. Despite bearing the Jersey City Museum name, the new museum will reportedly have no connection to the former Jersey City Museum nor use its existing collection. The original Jersey City Museum was founded in 1901, but attendance and fundraising steadily dwindled until the museum shuttered in 2010 and its collection was moved into storage. “Historically, Journal Square was not only a transportation hub but also a cultural center,” said OMA partner-in-charge and project lead Jason Long in a press release. “At a time where museums are increasingly serving as dynamic spaces that engage both local communities and global audiences, we are looking forward to working with the Mayor to transform the Pathside Building into a catalyst for Jersey City’s cultural and civic renaissance.” The five-story Pathside Building is located, fittingly enough, adjacent to the Journal Square PATH station, a heavily trafficked stop on the PATH train line for commuters on their way to and from Manhattan. Mayor Steven Fulop’s administration hopes that the proximity to mass transportation will help draw crowds to the new institution. “This Museum and community space is an incredibly important investment not only for the future of Journal Square, but for our City and region as well,” said Mayor Fulop. “I am excited to continue moving this project forward with the help of OMA/AMO and AEA, who have proven their expertise in museum development, and I am confident that they will help us define our vision for a space that will become a destination for artists and visitors alike.” The Jersey City Museum will focus mainly on visual artists, and a section of the building will be reserved exclusively for local artists. No design details or estimated completion date have been announced yet, but this won't be the first arts institution that the OMA New York office has tackled this year.