Posts tagged with "Aaron Betsky":

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The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture is $2 million closer to independent incorporation

In collaboration with the Scottsdale, Arizona-based Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation (FLWF), the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture (FLWSA) has raised more than $2 million dollars from 317 contributors. To comply with new accreditation requirements, the school is in the process of becoming an independent subsidiary of the foundation. The funds are an important milestone on the FLWSA's journey towards financial stability. The FLWSA was founded by Wright in 1932 at Taliesin, his home in Spring Green, Wisconsin. The school, with a current enrollment of 19 students in its M.Arch program, is now dually located at Taliesin and Taliesin West, in Scottsdale. In 2011, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) changed its accreditation requirements, stipulating that it will no longer grant accreditation to schools which operate under umbrella institutions with "multifaceted missions." The FLWF, whose purpose is to "preserve Taliesin and Taliesin West for future generations, and enrich society through an understanding of Frank Lloyd Wright’s ideas, architecture, and design,” is helping the school on its mission. As part of the agreement, the foundation will loan the school classroom and residential facilities at Taliesin and Taliesin West. The FLWF will put $1.4 million over four years towards the operating costs of the school, in addition to a $7 million investment over the same period. FLWSA's dean, Aaron Betsky, outlined the direction the school will take: “We have been hard at work with the Foundation’s staff and Board to ensure the School’s future not just in financial and organizational terms, but also by improving its curriculum and by developing programs that continue Wright’s legacy in organic architecture and learning by doing in ways that answer to our needs for a more sustainable, open, and beautiful human-made environment.” Students will design and build desert shelters, as well as take newly added courses in digital fabrication, design, and theory. The school has a four year partnership with the mining towns of Miami and Globe, Arizona. Students will carry out community–based projects in those communities and in similar towns near Taliesin. To solidify accreditation, the foundation and the school board will prepare a "Change of Control" application for the HLC to review in June 2016. If the HLC approves, the foundation will file documents with state and federal agencies to legally recognize the school as an independent subsidiary of the foundation. If all goes smoothly, the process is expected to be complete by early 2017.
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Enough Buildings: the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture

“City-ness” is at the heart of the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture, which kicked off last Friday in Shenzhen, China. Titled Re-Living the City and curated by Aaron Betsky, Alfredo Brillembourg, Hubert Klumpner, and Doreen Heng Liu the event brought together architects, designers, urbanists, and makers on the site of the former Dacheng Flour Factory not far from Shekou Port.

Opening night culminated with giant animated graphics projected on the factory’s abandoned concrete silos, a dramatic light show that reflected the organizers and curators ambitious attempt to rethink how China, and especially still-booming Shenzhen, approaches continued urbanization. The industrial port area is primed for redevelopment and the biennial activities and adaptive reuse of the main five-story concrete building and adjacent structures seem poised to remake this part of the city into a hub a cultural activity based on tactical and informal urbanisms.

The curators divided the biennale into subthemes: Collage City 3D, PRD 2.0, Radical Urbanism, Social City, and Maker Maker, which are distributed across the site. The third floor of the former flour factory is dedicated to thematic and national pavilions. (It’s here that I co-curated with Tim Durfee an exhibition on behalf of Art Center’s Media Design Practices Program entitled Now, There: Scenes from the Post-Geographic City.)

While each thematic category manifests through distinctly different projects—Collage City for example featured Hood Design’s Symbiotic Village installation of hanging fish bowls, while Radical Urbanism presented a mural-like illustration from Interboro Partners’ Arsenal of Exclusion and Inclusion: The Battle for the Beach—there’s a shared emphasis on bottom-up urbanism, hands-on techniques, and citizen agency.

Or, as Betsky is quoted as saying in the catalog: “enough buildings, enough objects, enough images.”

His statement is certainly a provocation given Shenzhen’s skyline—at night the architectural products of the last 20 years are ablaze with LED light shows, screens, and advertisements. The curators ground their explorations in the here and now, emphasizing how the present offers future lessons for a “re-lived” urbanism. But given the recent Chinese edict “No more weird buildings,” one has to wonder if “enough” is enough to carry the next decades. Will the absence of formal agenda lead to a vacuum filled with banal buildings or instead offer space for these types of urbanisms to authentically emerge on their own?

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Aaron Betsky to Head Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture

The search for a new leader of Frank Lloyd Wright's School of Architecture concluded today, as the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation named Aaron Betsky the new dean in charge of Taliesin. Betsky previously served as director of the Cincinnati Art Museum, but stepped down from that position in January 2014. He was previously the director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute, and he directed the 11th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 2008. He has authored numerous books on art and architecture and continues to blog for Architect. Split between campuses in Spring Green, Wisconsin and Scottsdale, Arizona, the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture is in the middle of a fundraising campaign that could decide the future of the school's accreditation. Facing new rules from the Higher Learning Commission, officials from the institution said they must raise at least $2 million before the end of 2015, or the school will lose its standing once those new rules take effect in 2017. Betsky will "set the intellectual tone or the School," according to a press release, but he will also have to help tackle the school's financial challenges. "Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture broke the box and opened vistas toward a democratic landscape; he made organic architecture and built with, rather than on, the land before anybody talked about sustainable architecture," Betsky said in a statement. "I look forward to continuing the tradition of experimental architecture he did so much to define." The future of that tradition, however, remains uncertain. In December Sean Malone, president of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, said the school would remain committed to design education even if they are no longer able to award accredited degrees after 2017. With Betsky at the helm that mission appears intact; the Foundation said they will continue to award degrees at their Taliesin East and Taliesin West campuses either way, perhaps in partnership with accredited institutions. "We wanted a bold thinker and a talented leader," Malone said in a statement, "and we found both in Aaron." Betsky, who was born in Montana but grew up in the Netherlands, succeeds Victor Sidy, who returns to his private architectural practice. Betsky assumes the role of dean immediately.
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Revolving Dean Door: Schools Coast to Coast In Search of New Leadership

There is a rumor making its way around the West Coast that Thom Mayne may have more than a new building in New York. He may be headed east to become dean of Columbia University, replacing the departing Mark Wigley. But we have also heard—despite his protests that he is happy sailing to Catalina—that Greg Lynn may also be interested in the Morningside Heights position. It could be that Lynn would join his wife, Sylvia Lavin, who has long coveted an East Coast deanship. How about if Mark Wigley and MoMA’s departing Barry Bergdoll simply swap positions? There seem to be no end to the rumors of who may be filling one of the vacant deans posts at Cooper Union, Columbia, California College of the Arts in San Francisco, Cranbrook, or the University of Kentucky. We hear that Cooper Union is assembling names and has created a short list (who would want that job now?) that includes the names of several current deans as well as alumnus Daniel Libeskind and philosopher poet Peter Lynch. Then what will happen in the next two years when deanships become available at Penn Design, Yale, and Sci-Arc? Now that Aaron Betsky has left parochial Cincinnati he may be looking for a more hospitable place to work.
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Cincinnati Art Museum seeks new director; Aaron Betsky steps down

Aaron Betsky, director of the Cincinnati Art Museum for seven years, announced Thursday he’ll step down. Cincinnati’s WVXU reported that the museum's board will set up a search committee, and that Betsky will help pick his successor. Betsky, an architect, oversaw the first phase of a renovation for which he helped raise more $13 million, and increased the art museum’s endowment by 18 percent. His leadership was at times controversial, as when he oversaw an exhibit by artist Todd Pavlisko that included firing a .30-caliber rifle in the 132-year-old museum’s Schmidlapp Gallery. Before moving to Cincinnati he was the Director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam, and previously designed for Frank Gehry. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Board chair Dave Dougherty said Betsky’s successor will need a variery of skills:
* "Someone great at exhibitions, first and foremost." * "Someone who continues to have financial discipline." * "People skills." Dougherty said the art museum is a large organization, with many tentacles, and a chance to influence the broader community. And, of course, there’s a director’s all-important fund-raising role.
Betsky was a finalist for dean of the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts at the University of Illinois, Chicago last year. That position ultimately went to Steve Everett, an Emory University professor of music. “The museum now has the programming and staff in place, and the financial stability that will allow me to openly pursue my next position,” Betsky said in a press release. “I feel that I have accomplished the goals that I and the Board had envisioned when I first arrived and would like to explore opportunities that may include or combine my academic interests and institutional experiences.”
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Hadid Supreme: Starchitect Racking Up Pages in the Glossies

“If Zaha is in Paris, ask her to text me and make an appointment.” So read the text message from Karl Lagerfeld to Naomi Campbell. La Campbell was having a sit-down with Zaha Hadid, who happens to be designing the supermodel’s new house outside Moscow. But this wasn’t a meeting to review floor plans—it was an on-the-record chat (including incoming texts) for the German edition of Interview magazine. The conversation ranged from the subject of Hadid’s new book (on the Russian Suprematist movement, one of her foundational influences) to 3-D printers. Funnily enough, Campbell covers a lot more ground than architecture writer Aaron Betsky manages in his recent and rather fluffy profile of Hadid for Glamour magazine, which named the architect as one of its Women of the Year. Here, Betsky cites Mame rather than Malevich as an early influence: “My house was like Auntie Mame’s, with my mother redecorating every season,” said Hadid.
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Venice 2010> Storming the Arsenale & Rem in da Haas

Nothing much to report from yesterday, as it was a day of formal openings when very little was in fact open to the press or public. It was mostly a day of introductory speeches by biennale directors and city and government officials. Frank Gehry presented some models, made a few brief remarks, and then everyone headed for the hallway, where we had our first free prosecco and great little appetizers. Journalists and media types stood around asking about where the best parties were to be had in the coming days (more on this later). Today—after two days of too many speeches and press conferences—the biennale finally opened the doors of both the Arsenale and the national pavilions in the giardini, and everyone had their first chance to officially see if people really do meet in architecture. I ran through the projects installed in the Arsenale and in the afternoon the Italian pavilion in the giardini, which is of course not the Italian pavilion but simply a large exhibition space. The gigantic Arsenale has only 15 installations this year, giving each vast amounts of space in which to confront visitors. Most are therefore huge installations and are really engaged in design pyrotechnics more than displays of building models. They are architecture, but in what is fast becoming a kind of biennale style, halfway between design and art. These include a 3-D film by Wim Wenders of SANAA’s Rolex Center and a smoke-filled cloud room with a long spiral ramp that is a pale replica of Diller and Scofidio’s Blur Building from 2002. Another space titled Architecture as Air: Study for Chateau La Coste by the architect Junya Ishigami is constructed from a field of thin monofilament pieces precisely arrayed across the space like a barely visible Fred Sandback string sculpture. Ishigami’s piece is indecipherable and most visitors simply pass through, but I was told by some young workers that it was meant to be a self-supporting line house until a cat ran through last night and it came crashing down. Can this be true? Anyway, it’s a good story. Like what happened yesterday to Aaron Betsky, who curated the biennale in 2008. He was turned back at the door because he did not have the right credentials. When he protested that he had been the curator two years ago, an official replied: “So what are you doing at the biennale this year?” In the afternoon, I saw the Italian pavilion, which Italian curator Luca Molinari has filled with a more diverse body of work than displayed in the Arsenale, ranging from installation projects to artworks and models. It’s hard in a quick blog post to summarize the work in this enormous pavilion without flattening out the diversity here or reverting to clichés. It deserves more thought and attention and individual consideration and that’s what I will try and do in an upcoming post. But if there is a theme in the Italian pavilion, it is that more than a few critique or try to update the notion of utopia either in its early idealization—or the more recent consideration of it as not a model worth considering. There is Tom Sachs' installation of slightly torn paper Corbusian prototypes on the one side, and Aldo Cibic’s wonderful small-scale utopian landscape of idealized building types, from high-design, high-density housing to bland suburban cul de sacs. In between these are all sorts of architectural thoughts, but none more thoughtful than Rem Koolhaas and a history of his Office for Metropolitan Architecture, a tribute to his winning this year’s Golden Lion. I did have a chance to check out the British pavilion and see its wonderful muf-designed wooden "medical school" theater and miniature Venetian estuary complete with crabs and snails. Both show the advantage of having designers of muf’s ability curating an exhibition. Finally, the Ryue Nishizawa-curated Japanese pavilion is also rethinking utopia, in this case a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Metabolist movement. It brings back the movement but argues in fact that the city is organic and, as Aaron Levy claims, “beyond politics.” Now for the important stuff: The best party so far was the Audi Urban Futures event at the fabulous and long-vacant Misericordia space, which a Venetian friend used as a basketball court when she was a child. The highlight of the party was the announcement that the Future Award (worth 100,000 euros) was won by Jurgen Mayer H., an architect of great design talent who is now beginning to emerge as an international force. With the biennale finally underway, I’m beginning to wonder if Sejima is right, and people meet in architecture, or, as Italian critic Luigi Prestinenza Pugliese says, does this show prove that “architects don’t really like people?”

Eavesdrop NY 13

  COOPER SCOOPER Eavesdrop held a glass to the emergency-exit door of the Cooper-Hewitt and heard rumblings that a ten-member, Smithsonian-led committee was about to announce a new museum director to succeed Paul Warwick Thompson. It sounded as if the committee was down to two candidates—Paola Antonelli and Aaron Betsky. The latter volunteered to a source that he was not in the running, but we think he was merely trying to throw us off the scent. Our olfactory sense is too highly tuned to be distracted. Expect an announcement any minute. BLIND ITEM! What tony architecture firm with a lot of empty desks is using ModelBartenders.com to staff the house for an upcoming interview? Imagine. The prospective client tours the studio, which is stocked with 25-year-old hunks pretending to detail porticoes and dormers, and wonders how they make time to go to the gym. Eavesdrop is fighting the urge to send a disco ball to go with the human props.

Into the Brink

It is confirmed: Aaron Betsky fell into the canal.  Friday, on his way to one of several august assemblages of the evening (See Guggenheim Villa, Darkside), Betsky pitched into the murky depths as he ascended the staircase of the Palazzo Polignac where Herzog & de Meuron were hosting a private dinner party. As confirmed by his sister, he was unable to answer his cell phone the next day, as rumors abounded that he went in after it. As we have also experienced a pitching sensation whenever near the water and handrails are few and far between in this fair city, we can sympathize. Later that evening, other diners noticed that Betsky's spirits were undamped although his suit and shirt were.

Only in Venice, kids, only in Venice!

From our roving correspondent Alex Gorlin, who was party-hopping the other night:
Among the guests at Aaron Betsky's 50th birthday celebration on Thursday were Henry Urbach, curator of Architecture at SFMOMA, Laurie Beckelman, UCLA's Sylvia Lavin (who was complaining to Jeff Kipnis about the mosquitoes), Susan Grant Lewin the PR Queen—she barely made the "haj" to the party—the Modern's Barry Bergdoll with Bill Ryall, his partner, Reed Kroloff and Casey Jones. Last and certainly not least was Katherine Gustafson, the Zaha of landscape design, who appeared in a regally flowing white toga-like gown. The setting was her "Garden of Paradise" at the Arsenale,  a coyly-renamed installation in the Garden of Virgins, with vegetables and flowers culminating in a swirling ridge of grassy mounds above which floated giant white ballons and what looked like the remains of a parachute. All in all, an elegant evening, although with no lights on, it was pitch black and so far away that one can only imagine half the guests, a little tipsy perhaps, falling into canals on the trek home.
Robert and Holly Ivy hosted their annual Architectural Record party at the same time as Aaron's fete, causing high anxiety and handwringing among the smart set who wanted to attend both. Many cleverly thought they could go to the Garden of the Virgins and then sprint over to the Accademia Bridge where Bob's soiree was held, not knowing of the tremendous distance between the two. Bergdoll, Kroloff  and Jones, and David Rockwell showed up late in the evening exhausted by the trek. Hans Hollein was already there, looking somewhat fearsome, as were Joseph and Mrs. Rykwert, Charles Jencks, and AN's own Bill Menking and Diana Darling."
—Alex Gorlin
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Aaron Betsky, David Rockwell and Ric Scofidio: Mount Rushmore du Jour

The Bellinis, toasts, and information exchange about digital technology flowed freely at a reception and rooftop dinner at the Danieli Hotel hosted by David Rockwell, Aaron Betsky, Reed Kroloff and Casey Jones. Liz Diller, Ric Scofidio and Charles Renfro joined the celebrants after decamping from an equally glam—but apparently mosquito infested party at Villa Malcontenta—party hosted by Zaha Hadid celebrating collegue-divided-only-by-the-centuries Palladio. Lise Anne Couture and Hani Rashid stayed in the Villa’s formal gardens, Couture recounted, pretending they were in the characters in the classic flick, Last Year at Marienbad.