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AR FF

Sundance Film Festival highlights augmented and virtual reality
The Sundance Institute, the organizer of the annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, and the Kimball Art Center announced an Arts & Culture District building program in the festival's host city. The Sundance HQ architect hasn't been selected yet, but the Kimball has picked BIG to design its new museum. This initiative set the stage for the festival's 2019 crop of movies focusing on architecture. In It’s Going to be Beautiful, a short documentary about the proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall directed by Luis Gutierrez Arias and John Henry Theisen, we see eight wall prototypes and the surrounding neighborhoods on both sides of the existing border barriers. Less divisively, in Joe Talbot's The Last Black Man in San Francisco, a young man lovingly preserves the rundown Victorian house his family lost. The family originally acquired this ornate structure with a witch’s hat, stained glass windows, wooden archways, and built-in organ after the Japanese owners' internment during World War Two. Gentrification, artistry, and black male identity are explored in this tale of the house. “Your radiator is a D Flat,” says the "house tuner" played by Peter Sarsgaard in director Michael Tyburski's The Sound of Silence. Sarsgaard's character solves New York City residents' ills by painstakingly analyzing their out-of-sync domestic sounds (the toaster accompanying the aforementioned radiator is a G Major). A corporation surreptitiously monetizes his theories with virtual home inspections, advertising on New York City street kiosks. Dan Gilroy’s Velvet Buzzsaw, a sendup of the art world with an art critic (Jake Gyllenhaal), artist (John Malkovich), curator (Toni Collette), and gallerist (Rene Russo) who live and work in stupendous houses, galleries, and the fictional art museum LAMA, which uses Diller, Scofidio + Renfro’s Broad Museum and Gehry’s Disney Concert Hall. New Frontier, the media arts section, showed artworks that used virtual and augmented reality, many of which explored ideas about race and community. THE DIAL is an augmented reality artwork from Peter Flaherty, Jesse Garrison, and Trey Gilmore centered on a house around which a murder mystery unravels. Traveling While Black from Roger Ross Williams, Félix Lajeunesse, and Paul Raphaël uses The Green Book—a 20th-century guide for African-American travelers—as a starting point to drop viewers in Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington, D.C., where viewers “sit” in a diner booth with storytellers. In Marshall from Detroit, a 360-degree virtual reality documentary from Caleb Slain, Félix Lajeunesse, and Paul Raphaël, we motor with hometown boy Eminem, who talks with journalist Sway Calloway about the city that shaped him. We see an abandoned church, a destroyed factory, a glorious movie palace, a skyscraper, and a hip-hop battle in a freezing-cold abandoned building. Kaiju Confidential is about a different kind of disruption. In this virtual reality short created by Thomas O'Donnell, Ethan Shaftel, and Piotr Karwas, two monsters battle over whose modernist Japanese city is theirs to destroy. The veteran green beast claims the greater metropolitan area, while his 2-headed rival gets relegated to the suburbs. The Immersive Stage, a three-sided projection room, showcased three digital environments: artist Peter Burr's Dirtscraper, an underground system of “smart architecture” overseen by spatial and social engineers; Matt Romein's analmosh, a dynamic audio-visual landscape; and Victor Morales and Jason Batcheller's Esperpento, based on the Madrid of Goya’s Los Caprichos paintings.
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1931-2018

Italian architect and editor Alessandro Mendini passes away
Italian architect, designer, and two-time editor-in-chief of Domus Alessandro Mendini has passed away at the age of 87. Mendini was born in Milan in 1931 and was a key figure in the resurgence of Italian design after World War II. Mendini founded Atelier Mendini in 1987 with his brother and collaborator Francesco, and they achieved international acclaim for their work with Swatch, Cartier, and other companies. Known as a sculptor, painter, architect, journalist, and designer of furniture, products, and interiors, Mendini was lauded for his playful use of color and sense of proportion. His talent eventually led to collaborations with both domestic Italian designers and large multinational firms, such as Supreme in 2016. Mendini was awarded the European Prize for Architecture in 2014, as well as the 2003 Medaglia d’Oro all’Architettura Italiana and the 2006 Villegiature Award. Mendini’s interests extended to architecture as well, and as Domus noted in his biography, he “designed the Groninger Museum (1988-1994, 2010) the Alessi factories and the Omegna Museum-Forum (1996), the Teatrino della Bicchieraia in Arezzo (1998), the urban regeneration of the Maghetti district in Lugano (1998), the renovation of the Termini Station in Rome (1999), the restoration of the Villa Comunale (1999) and three stations in the Naples underground network (2000),  as well as the new exhibition space and the new branch of the Milan Triennale in Incheon, South Korea (2008-2009).”
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Flex or Combust

C.F. Møller’s mass-timber vision for Robin Hood Gardens stifled by ban on combustible cladding
C.F. Møller has designed a swath of social housing for an upcoming development called Blackwall Reach atop east London’s famous Robin Hood Gardens, a demolished series of brutalist blocks designed in the 1960s by renowned British architects, Alison and Peter Smithson. Initial plans released in 2017 indicated that the Danish firm would create a 330-unit complex featuring cross-laminated timber (CLT), a resourceful construction method that’s been gaining wide acceptance in the United Kingdom. But a recent government ban on combustible cladding materials has put plans for the engineered product in jeopardy, reported Architects' Journal. The new legislation, which was enacted late last December, was introduced after the Grenfell Tower fire of June 2017 in which one of West London’s tallest residential towers burned down, claiming 72 lives. After a pressure-filled campaign from Grenfell United, a group of survivors and victims’ families, the U.K.’s Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government introduced a new building safety code last summer that would prohibit the use of cladding materials holding a European fire rating of less than A1 or A2. Per the ruling, architects and developers cannot use such products in the external wall construction of schools, high-rise homes, hospitals, and care facilities, reported AJ. The ruling also calls for local municipalities to begin removing unsafe aluminum composite material (ACM) cladding on existing structures taller than 18 meters (about six stories). Though CLT is not an ACM and has been proven to perform well under fire load, it contains wood and is being cited as hazardous to lawmakers. CF Møller’s affordable housing design for Blackwall Reach is phase 3 of a larger, controversial regeneration plan of Robin Hood Gardens, which the London-based practice Metropolitan Workshop is overseeing. Phase 1b and Phase 2 includes the build-out of 268 homes across four buildings designed by Haworth Tompkins and Metropolitan Workshop. These structures, currently under construction, are slated for completion this year and in 2021. Phase 3 construction is expected to start following the move-in of residents to the new buildings. Overall, the 20-acre Blackwall Reach project is set to replace 250 high-rise homes within the area with a total of 1,575 new units. Swan Housing Association, a community development and management organization, is developing the site alongside the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and the Greater London Authority. While this is only one project suffering a design setback thanks to the new ban on combustible cladding materials, it signals what could become a major issue with the use of CLT products on future tall buildings in the U.K. and across Europe. Already a world leader in mass timber manufacturing and construction, it’s unclear how the U.K. will now move forward in creating large-scale projects using the material. The ban has recently received major criticism from industry leaders like the Timber Trade Federation and architects who worry about the environmental cost of restricting timber in large construction. The Royal British Institute of Architects came out in support of the ban in November but recommends it only apply to specific cladding applications.
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What a Traversty

New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission approves resurfacing of modernist 140 Broadway plaza
The third time’s the charm for engineers NV5 and preservation consultants at Higgins Quasebarth & Partners. On February 5, the team, this time joined by stone conservation expert George Wheeler, successfully argued before New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) for permission to swap the stone out at the Manhattan plaza of the landmarked 140 Broadway building. The former Marine Midland Building, an international-style office tower designed by Gordon Bunshaft and SOM in 1967, is distinctive for how its imposing black massing “floats” above a plaza of what was originally travertine surrounding Isamu Noguchi’s distinctive Red Cube. The travertine pavers were replaced with pink granite in a 1999 renovation, and the project team went before the LPC to propose a new shade of granite closer to the original stone. That drew the ire of preservationists and some of the commissioners, who asked why travertine wasn’t being used instead. Much of the presentation (available here) from 140 Broadway’s ownership and project team dealt with that question. The pitch was that granite, with a compressive strength of nearly three times that of travertine, would be a much more durable replacement. Travertine’s pockmarked nature also renders it particularly vulnerable to freeze-thaw cracking and salt blooms because water easily impregnates the porous stone. The team maintained that five-inch-thick travertine pavers would be needed to meet all of their aesthetic and safety concerns, and that because of the voids under the plaza, the pavers can only be two-inches thick. While Bunshaft had chosen travertine to evoke the feeling of a Roman plaza, the presentation made it clear that New York’s climate was much harsher than Rome’s. The comprehensive analysis was done after the ownership team’s prior two LPC presentations in March and November of 2018. Commissioners had previously declined to vote on the proposed granite replacements and suggested that NV5 and Higgins Quasebarth look further into travertine. As preservationist Theodore Grunewald noted, the reason 140 Broadway’s plaza was before the LPC was that the granite installed in 1999 was also failing and that there was no guarantee that it wouldn’t happen again. Travertine plazas are still in use at Manhattan’s W.R. Grace Building and Solow Tower Building, both designed by Bunshaft, but the project team noted that the drainage systems and sloped “skirt” at the base of each tower helped facilitate the quick movement of water off of the vulnerable stone beneath. Ultimately the commissioners voted to approve the use of Tudor Gold Granite, although there were some concerns about the need to choose a color closer to the original travertine. Commissioner Adi Shamir-Baron, the only nay vote at the hearing, noted that the commission’s role was to preserve moments in time, regardless of viability, and not just upgrade the city’s properties with "space-age materials."
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Public Activation

New York City’s elevated infrastructure pilot returns to beautify Queens
The quest to brighten and enliven the numerous disused public spaces underneath New York’s elevated infrastructure continues. Last year, the Design Trust for Public Space and New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) presented the first pilot space in their joint Under the Elevated/El-Space program, which activated the space under the Gowanus Expressway in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Now the Design Trust has released the first look at its second pilot space at Dutch Kills Street in Long Island City, which will turn the space below two elevated roadways into a sustainable community gathering space. The Dutch Kills Street site, much like the Gowanus Expressway “el-space,” will reroute runoff from the spaces above through stormwater drains. A set of gabion planters (wire mesh frames with a permeable stone filling) with low-light flora and an illuminated art fence will enliven the public plaza. As the Design Trust notes, New York has millions of square feet of public space that are sitting unused, often creating dangerous conditions for pedestrians. These dark, often-impermeable spaces can cut up neighborhoods and divide communities; the El-Space program is creating a comprehensive framework that can be applied city-wide for reclaiming these areas. El-Space 2.0 will open to the public on May 16 (interested visitors can RSVP here) as part of NYCxDESIGN. The El-Space Toolkit, a framework for officials, private stakeholders, and community groups that want to realize el-space projects in their own neighborhoods, is also in the works and will launch at a later date. The program isn’t slowing down, and the Design Trust–NYCDOT is working on their third el-space beneath the Rockaway Freeway in Queens.
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The co-ops are alright

Co-op City celebrates 50 years of affordable housing in the Bronx
Off I-95 in the northern Bronx, just past the swamps at the mouth of the Hutchinson River and the paved paradise at Bay Plaza mall, arise 35 massive, brick and concrete tower blocks. Most residences nearby are single-family, but Co-op City's 24-story towers shoot out of the ground like sore, red-brick thumbs. But, as out of place as they seem, there are many similar complexes all around New York City and the rest of the country: Stuyvesant Town by the East Village, Riverton Square in Harlem, and the gone-but-never-forgotten Pruitt-Igoe projects of St. Louis. According to Adam Tanaka, a New York–based urbanist who studied these Bronx housing blocks for his Harvard graduate dissertation, Co-op City is the country's largest and most successful cooperative living facility. Many of its 35,000 residents have been living in them since they opened 50 years ago. In a mini-documentary published with CityLab, entitled "City in a City," Tanaka interviewed residents, building managers, representatives, and others involved in the conception of the towers to understand what makes these buildings so successful compared to other projects. On top of interviews and historical analysis, documentary footage shows what life at Co-op City is like. During most weekends of fair weather, tenants and local merchants buy and sell art and food, local musicians perform while residents dance, and children play on the swing sets. Wildlife even has a large presence there: residents have reported seeing deer. What is so special about Co-op City that allows for beautiful scenes like this to be the norm? Tanaka suggests the towers owe their success not to the City of New York, nor to any federally-funded programs, but to their fellow resident, architects, and the coalition of labor unions responsible for the towers’ development. The documentary highlights several of the complex's relatively unique features: a ban on market-rate apartment resale, permanent rent control (which was established in the early '70s after the state tried to increase rents for Co-op City’s tenants), affordable down payments, an elected representative board, self-funded maintenance, and a racially, culturally, and financially diverse group of tenants. But architectural features like larger-than-average apartments with grand windows and ample living and storage space, as well as multiple communal parks and green spaces—all of which was designed by architect Herman J. Jessor, inspired by Le Corbusier’s Villes Radieuse and Contemporain—play major roles, as well. In the documentary, Alena Powell, a resident of Co-op City since 1973, said a friend from the Upper East Side “was amazed because [Powell’s] living room could hold her [friend's] living room and kitchen all together.” Powell also “likes the fact that [she’s] not on top of other people as if [she] was living in Manhattan.” Other residents remark about how “spacious” the apartments are, and how they love the consistent natural light. Pleasing as they may be for many who live there, the Co-op City buildings were (and are) not without criticism. According to an article in Curbed by historian James Nevius, the Co-op City buildings stand as a testament to the ethics of erasing "slums," and to the power of the infamous Robert Moses, whose "bulldoze it" approach to entire neighborhoods is a highly-debated matter, to say the least. During construction in the early 1970s, many rallied against the design and construction of the towers, citing the cheap and unpleasing exterior. Nevius cites Jane Jacobs, who stated they were “truly marvels of dullness and regimentation, sealed against any buoyancy or vitality of city life.” Nevius also references criticisms by the AIA: "Similarly, the American Institute of Architects complained that 'the spirits of the tenants' at Co-op City 'would be dampened and deadened by the paucity of their environment.'" However, many in Tanaka's documentary do not share those opinions and come to the towers' defense. Ken Wray, former executive director of the United Housing Federation, says “the aesthetic was ‘Why waste money on the outside of the building?’ You don’t live on the outside of the building…People driving by might think it’s ugly but people who live there know what [the apartments] look like.” Often overlooked, too, is a sprawling meadow laced among the buildings. According to Nevius, over 80 percent of Co-op City's footprint is dedicated to landscaping: grass and trees with play structures, courts, benches, and market stands on the perimeter. For the people who use these daily, these are helpful amenities that similar developments do not have. Co-op City raises questions about the emphasis on policy or architecture, about interior design versus exterior, about the house and the outdoors, and about ownership and citizenship. Regardless of where one lands on these issues, there's something to be learned from these 35 towers in the Bronx.
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Crystal Clear

Snøhetta shows off a gleaming crystal workshop for Swarovski
When Snøhetta was approached to design a flexible fabrication space for crystal manufacturer Swarovski in Wattens, Austria, the intent was to design a light, airy space that didn’t directly reference the physical geometry of crystals. The complex opened on October 24, 2018, but Snøhetta has released a new suite of photos that explore the cavernous space. The Swarovski Manufaktur is an all-in-one workshop that brings design offices, rapid prototyping capabilities, and a presentation space under one roof. The 81,000-square-foot, three-story building (one floor is below ground) displays the experimental design process and allows clients to conceptualize, fabricate, and display small-batch product lines before realizing them on an industrial scale. A 45-foot-tall “chandelier hole,” as Snøhetta’s coined it, extends from the first floor into the basement, allowing for truly massive prototypes to be put on display. Manufaktur’s defining feature is its 14,000-square-foot ceiling that floods the interior with natural light. A deeply-coffered ceiling is made of 135 “cassettes,” 20-foot-long-by-10-foot-wide steel window bays. Each cassette has been clad in acoustic paneling, and Snøhetta claims that the height of the ceiling, which ranges from 27 to 45 feet, combined with the paneling, makes conversations audible despite the sounds of active machinery. The material palette was kept cheerful, with white walls and light birch panels used for the flooring and the cladding of the “sculptural” platform that holds the second floor. Glass-walled offices, presentation spaces, and conference rooms have been arranged on the platform, and they look out over the main floor and central staircase. “We tried not to interpret the physical properties of crystals in our building geometry,” said Patrick Lüth, managing director of Snøhetta’s Innsbruck, Austria, office. “Instead, we have tried to understand what makes crystal so special and attractive, and to use these ephemeral qualities to create a specific atmosphere. The space has an incredible amount of daylight penetration, which we believe is unparalleled in the typical production facility context. Crystals only come to life with light, so for us, it is the intense presence of that daylight that is the most important aesthetic aspect of this building.”
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Like a Blossoming Tree

Herzog & de Meuron reveals revamped Vancouver Art Gallery
Herzog & de Meuron has finalized the design of the 300,000-square-foot Vancouver Art Gallery and has released new renderings of the top-heavy timber building. The $350 million arts complex in Vancouver, Canada, also has a new name. After a $40 million private donation from the Chan family on January 23, the Vancouver Art Gallery (the organization responsible for the building’s programming) announced that the building would be renamed the Chan Centre for the Visual Arts. The gift is the largest single private donation in the history of British Columbia and has brought the amount raised for the building to $85 million. That marks an important figure as the provincial government has pledged that it would donate $50 million if the Vancouver Art Gallery were able to raise $100 million in private funds. The newly-revealed design for the Chan Centre presents an airy update to the scheme that was initially presented in 2015. Herzog & de Meuron has kept the stacked, seven-story massing, but replaced the opaque timber facade with fluted glass screens that are supposed to resemble stacked logs. The building rises from a narrow footprint to cut down on its impact on the street and create a covered open-air courtyard at ground level. The arts center expands as it rises, creating covered areas protected from the summer sun and winter rain and snow. It appears that Herzog & de Meuron has leaned more heavily into timber than in the original scheme, using wood for a majority of the interior finishes, columns, and supportive elements. Once complete, the center will hold classrooms, 85,000 square feet of gallery spaces, a theater, reading rooms, shops, and restaurants. Even the building’s location is hub-like; it lies at the intersection of the Downtown Vancouver, East Vancouver, Chinatown, Yaletown, and Gastown neighborhoods. “The project for the new Vancouver Art Gallery has a civic dimension that can contribute to the life and identity of the city,” said senior Herzog & de Meuron partner Christine Binswanger, “in which many artists of international reputation live and work. The building now combines two materials, wood and glass, both inseparable from the history and making of the city. We developed a facade out of glass logs which is pure, soft, light, establishing a unique relation to covered wooden terraces all around the building.” Fundraising is ongoing, with the Vancouver Art Gallery looking to raise $300 million for the building’s construction and $50 million to establish an endowment. If all goes as planned, construction is expected to start either late this year or in early 2020, with an opening planned for some time in 2023. Perkins+Will Vancouver is the project’s executive architects.
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Linking Linear Landscapes

OLIN designing a 400-acre waterfront park for Southern Indiana
OLIN has been tapped to design a 400-acre park along the northern shore of the Ohio River in southern Indiana. Set within a swath of waterfront long-occupied by landfill and industrial facilities, the future park will give local residents a much-needed connection with the river and its history, while boosting the area’s link to Louisville, Kentucky. Though no design details have been released yet, OLIN partner Lucinda Sanders said the plan, spearheaded by the River Heritage Conservancy, will tie into both sides of the Ohio River. In doing this, the park will serve 1.2 million residents within a 30-mile radius, including those living in the adjacent Indiana towns of Jeffersonville, Clarksville, and New Albany. A slew of brownfield sites, landfills, wetlands, and river camps currently encompass the massive parcel of land, which also sits within a FEMA 100-year floodplain and is bounded by a large levee that was built after a devastating flood in 1937. Sanders said OLIN will pay homage to the river and the site’s complex past. “We have a lot to work with here,” she said. “This park is already a 21st-century park in every way, shape, and form due to the conditions that are presently there.” After investigating the entirety of the site, the design team will intervene with a major remediation effort and then integrate a landscape design that will call attention to its unique context, while also acting as a buffer against future flooding. In a statement, Sanders said the park won’t be “just a public amenity, but...a purveyor of resilience. The mighty Ohio River creates the awe of this site. But it also has to be given the respect it deserves.” “You’ve got this amazing quantity of land situated within an urban environment that’s also lying in a severe flood zone,” Sanders told AN. “The fact that it’s also been so highly manipulated through the abuses of human activity, and that it contains a rich history for the region make it incredibly compelling.” When complete, the parkland will tie residents to one another and to the abundant natural and historical resources that populate the region. It will sit downstream from the Falls of the Ohio State Park and the original home of George Rogers Clark, a Revolutionary War hero. It will also be a key element of the new Ohio River Greenway, a seven-mile linear park that’s currently under construction. On a larger scale, the parkland will connect southern Indiana with the Louisville region’s vast park system, much of which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. OLIN’s design will link people to the Big Four Bridge, an old railroad truss bridge that reopened to the public as a pedestrian and bicycle throughway in 2013, and allow them to cross over into the River City. According to Sanders, OLIN is eager to dive head-on into the challenging project thanks to such widespread local support. “This community knows great parks, and they know great design,” she said. “We see a tremendous ambition in the expansion of this regional park network and are excited by the possibilities.” OLIN hopes to unveil ideas for the site after conducting a thorough analysis with local collaborators over the next nine months.
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Leaving a Legacy

Herzog & de Meuron donates drawings and models to MoMA’s collection
Herzog & de Meuron have donated materials representing nine of the firm's built and unbuilt projects from 1994 and 2018 to the Museum of Modern Art. Presented through the firm’s charitable foundation, the Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron Kabinett, the gift will include 23 physical objects, including models, architectural fragments, sketches, and digital assets. In a statement, MoMA said that the nine projects showcase the firm’s three-decades-long work challenging conventions of materiality, structure, and typology. Four projects, in particular, will demonstrate these things: Dominus Winery in Napa Valley, California; 1111 Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, Florida; 56 Leonard in New York; and the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Germany. The donation will also highlight collaborations with famous artists. Work with Thomas Ruff on the Eberswalde Technical School Library in Germany, with Michael Craig-Martin on the Laban Dance Centre in London, and with Ai Weiwei on the National Stadium in Beijing will be spotlighted.  MoMA’s permanent collection already includes four architectural projects done by the Swiss firm from 1988 to 1997 and one design object from 2002. Martino Stierli, the chief curator of architecture and design at MoMA, said in a statement that the new works will be a key feature of the museum’s newly expanded galleries, opening this spring.
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Lower Manhattan Landfill

New York City releases surprise plan to bury and rebuild East River Park
Manhattan’s East River Park, home to sprawling fields, winding bike paths, and a landscaped promenade, was badly damaged when Hurricane Sandy tore through the city in 2012 and the Lower East Side flooded. Since then, New York City officials have been brainstorming ideas to protect the park, along with the remainder of Lower Manhattan, from rising seas. The city’s latest proposal calls for burying the existing East River Park under 10 feet of landfill, before building a new one from scratch, according to The New York Times. This differs from the original plan, which aimed to push back the flood walls from FDR Drive toward the East River along the water’s edge, shielding the highway and large swaths of the LES from rising floodwaters. The meticulously-thought-out design, which took over four years to assemble, was only the first link in a series of barriers around Lower Manhattan known as the “Big U.” In September 2018, with no community input and to the dismay of inner-city residents, the city announced that the entire plan was being rejected in favor of the new project. The new, $1.5 billion proposal is not only significantly more expensive than its $760 million predecessor, but it will also destroy all trees, plant life, and infrastructure that currently exists within East River Park. Both the park’s field house and running track, which was recently revamped at a cost of nearly $3 million, will be buried beneath the soil, while the fate of the site’s historic amphitheater remains unknown. The latest plans will preserve one thing in the area: traffic. To construct the Big U, the city would have had to shut down one lane of FDR Drive every night for five consecutive years. By burying the park with landfill and soil that is delivered by barge, the new plan will cause little to no traffic disruptions. According to the Times, while local residents feel as though they are not receiving a fair trade, Parks Department commissioner Mitchell J. Silver claimed that, with the East River expected to rise over two feet within the next 30 years, burying the existing park to build a more elevated one is the only way to save the land. The new plan is scheduled to launch in March 2020, with flood protection barriers implemented as soon as 2022, though local residents are still doubtful as to whether or not the city will complete the project on time due to its history of construction delays.
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Like the Gum

Waterfront installations brave the Toronto winter to “break the ice”
The third annual Ice Breakers Exhibition has returned to the Toronto’s downtown waterfront, dropping five public installations across the edge of Queens Quay West. Ice Breakers is a collaborative public art experience jointly presented by the temporary arts advancement nonprofit Winter Stations, Waterfront Business Improvement Area, and PortsToronto, the Toronto port authority. This year’s Ice Breakers presents four winning designs from a variety of international teams, as well as a student entry from Ryerson University. The theme for the 2019 exhibition was “Signal Transmission,” and appropriately enough, each installation evokes sending or receiving a message. All five of the public pavilions for Ice Breakers were installed on January 19 and will remain on display through February 24. Chroma Key Protest, from Andrew Edmundson, principal of the Toronto-based Solve Architects Inc, references the language of protest. Twenty-five wooden buoys have been clustered and given blank signboards in chroma key green, the same color used in green screens. By appropriating the mechanisms of protesting but leaving the “signs” a color that can be anything, Edmundson invites visitors to project their own grievances onto the installation. Stellar Spectra, from the Toronto-based duo of Rob Shostak and Dionisios Vriniotis, is split into two occupiable pavilions. Each captures and refracts starlight through the dozens of tubes that make up the structure of Stellar Spectra, flooding each of the “lighthouses” with warm and cool-colored light. Connector, from the Hamburg, Germany–based Alexandra Griess and Jorel Heid, at first glance resembles a jumble of wires. That’s intentional, as the designers sought to reference the birds’ nests of communication wires that arose at the beginning of long-distance transmissions. Each of the mouthpieces corresponds to another, but participants will have to hunt for the appropriate end if they want to have a conversation. Tweeta-Gate, from Eleni Papadimitriou and Stefanos Ziras, founders of the Athens, Greece–based Space Oddity Studios (SOS), invites visitors to embark on an audiovisual journey. The series of yellow gates, made from painted wood and joined by metal connectors, are cut into shapes reminiscent of architectural styles from all over the world. Each gate is adorned with bells that can be activated by passersby, or the sway of the wind and natural elements. Tripix, the student submission from Ryerson University, seems purpose-made for the Instagram crowd. The faceted, panelized structure uses a high-contrast color scheme, red-on-white, to draw attention to its central pillar. An appropriate scheme, considering the goal of the exhibition is to get Toronto residents off the couch and into the snow.