The 10th annual Architecture and Design Film Festival (ADFF) opened in New York on Tuesday with Leaning Out, a profile of Leslie Robertson, lead engineer of the original World Trade Center. The festival, which showcases films that profile people and places around the world, details the work of Albert Frey, Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi, Jan Kaplický, Renzo Piano, and more. Learn about a bit more about some the films below before you explore this weekend: Frey: Part 1 - The Architectural Envoy is the first installment of two films on the Swiss architect Albert Frey, who worked for Le Corbusier in France and helped bring his ideas to the United States. Here he is associated with Palm Springs desert modernism. Frey first worked with A. Lawrence Kocher, who was also managing editor of Architectural Record, so they were able to use the journal to spread their notions. He most notably designed the Aluminaire House and the Cotton House, and worked on the Museum of Modern Art’s original building with Philip Goodwin. In Doshi, we see how Pritzker Prize-winning Indian architect Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi is as well known for his teaching as he is for his architecture. He started the School of Architecture and Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) in Ahmedabad, India, in 1962 after studying with Corbusier in the '50s and supervising his projects in the same city. Eye Over Prague shows the sad last chapter of the London-based Czech architect Jan Kaplický, whose winning design for the National Library in Prague in 2007—nicknamed the “Octopus” and the “Blob”—was canceled the following year. Although supported by former Prime Minister Václav Havel, other politicians and much of the public rejected this organically shaped, yellow and purple structure. Supporters laid down books in the shape of his design in a “book protest.” At this year’s ADFF, Renzo Piano gets two feature films: Renzo Piano: The Architect of Light and The Power of the Archive. The first was directed by the prominent 86-year-old Carlos Saura. The film tracks the design and building of Centro Botín in Santander on the north coast of Spain, just west of Bilbao. The second film, funded by Piano’s own foundation, shows the careful chronicling of works produced by the firm. They see two entities: the atelier and the archive. One makes new work looking to the future, while the other preserves past memories. Mies on Scene. Barcelona in two acts is the story of the Barcelona Pavilion, a structure which was born, destroyed, and resurrected. Fernando Ramos, architect of the reconstruction says Mies van der Rohe’s building presents a strange paradox: “It is the building that may have influenced contemporary architecture more than any other and yet didn’t exist.” Lilly Reich’s role, the story of the 1980s rebuilding, and the use of the space by dancers and others is explored in this film as architects ruminate on this influential building. Experimental City is the story of the Minnesota Experimental City (MXC), a 1960s initiative to build a model city to combat the ills of urban living. Modeled on the NASA moon program, MXC was masterminded by South African-American geophysicist and oceanographer Athelstan Spilhaus. The site was meant to house 250,000 people and quickly attracted the wrath of local residents. The filmmaker, Chad Friedrichs, directed 2011’s The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, about another failed urban venture. The Architecture and Design Film Festival is on view now through Sunday, October 21 at Cinépolis Chelsea in New York City. You can find the remaining showtimes and tickets here.
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Now in its tenth year, the Architecture & Design Film Festival (ADFF) is coming to New York later this month with a solid roster of unmissable short- and long-form films. For six days starting on October 16, the Cinépolis Chelsea will host screening after screening of rarely-seen films for your viewing pleasure. This year’s opening night show and reception will be held at the SVA Theatre, presenting the world premiere of Basia and Leonard Myszynski’s film Leaning Out. In the 59-minute documentary, the filmmakers dive into the story of Leslie E. Robertson, the lead structural engineer behind the original World Trade Center towers. The film follows his response to the September 11 attacks as well as his lifelong fight for human rights and peace through service and design in the United States and abroad. The Grand Prize Winner of the 2018 AIA Film Challenge will also be announced on the first day of the festival, as well as the People's Choice Award winner. Public voting for People's Choice is open now through Monday, October 7 and all films are free to watch here. Other highlights from this fall’s ADFF lineup include: A Train to Rockaway directed by William Starling and Carlos Rojas-Felice A short film showcasing the daily routine of amateur sandcastle architect Calvin Seibert, an artist who believes the production of art is the most interesting element of design. Frank Gehry: Building Justice directed by Ultan Guilfoye Co-presented by New York Magazine, this long-form film follows Frank Gehry and his studios at SCI-Arc and the Yale School of Architecture. Together with his students, he investigated prison design and visited one of the world’s most progressive detention centers in Norway. Do More with Less directed by Katerina Kliwadenko and Mario Novas This feature-length film hit the festival circuit last year and has received high praise for its depiction of the young architects and students in Latin America that are creating innovative architecture using few financial and material resources. Francis Kéré: An Architect Between directed by directed Daniel Schwartz Detailing the design legacy of world-renowned architect Francis Kéré, this short film dives into his social justice work in Burkina Faso and Germany. Enough White Teacups directed by Michelle Bauer Carpenter This documentary highlights the award-winning projects that came out of an international design competition by the Danish nonprofit INDEX: Design to Improve Life. The designs center around sustainable strategies to combat key global issues such as infant mortality, ocean pollution, and affordable housing. Five films (including a few from above) will include post-preview panels with speakers such as Jake Gorst, Martino Stierli, Guillaume de Morsier, and more. You can view the entire ADFF schedule here. Tickets for opening night are $75, while general admission for all other films will be $17 for adults and $12.50 for students. Films showing in the pop-up Sony Theatre at Cinépolis Chelsea will be free, but tickets are required. They are available for purchase online, at the box office, or by phone.
This year’s Architecture and Design Film Festival, now in its 9th year, presented 34 films which fall into the categories of profiles of makers, of places, and of users. Glenn Murcutt: Spirit of Place profiled the 2002 Pritzker Prize-winning Australian architect who was put forward for the award by Frank Gehry, noted for his quiet, site-specific houses and prized by Norman Foster and Renzo Piano. Here we follow an intriguing through-line in the building of a new mosque in Melbourne. The Newport Islamic Society’s creation represents an intensely loaded subject at this moment made tangible through the architecture. Murcutt works in close conjunction with the community, especially Hakan Elevli, who became a collaborating architect. Designing Life: The Modernist Architecture of Albert C. Ledner shines a light on the architect of New York's Maritime Union (now Maritime Hotel) and the Maritime Building, which became St. Vincent’s Medical Center and is now Lenox Hill HealthPlex in New York. Ledner was a product of New Orleans, where he was born. He briefly worked for Frank Lloyd Wright, but unlike many of the master’s acolytes, Ledner knew he had to leave in order not to be trapped in the Taliesin vortex. His inventive, problem-solving buildings filled with unorthodox solutions, organic forms, and a keen sense of materials are based on solid principles: one of his two sons became a physicist and realized he grew up in a house that was all about physics. Born in 1924, Ledner continues worked until his recent passing on November 20th. His contemporary, Kevin Roche, born in 1922, also goes to the office every day. The ADFF offering, titled Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect, shows he’s really more stealth than quiet. Made by Irish television about a native son who became a Pritzker Prize winner, the film traces Roche's career, first with Eero Saarinen, then under his firm Roche Dinkeloo, who went on to create successful buildings such as the Ford Foundation, the Metropolitan Museum’s expansion and master plan, the Oakland Museum, and corporate headquarters for Union Carbide, General Foods and Cummins Engines. He personally represents elegance as much as his buildings. Other profiles included Dries on artisanal fashion designer, Dries Van Noten – a few architectural nods are to his country house and garden, a fashion show in a raw industrial space in Paris, and one at the Paris Opera House Garnier; and a sheaf of Pritzker Prize-winning architects: Getting Frank Gehry on the architect building his University of Technology (UTS) in Sydney Australia; Zaha: An Architectural Legacy on Zaha Hadid; Jean Nouvel: Reflections; and Rem on OMA’s Rem Koolhaas. SuperDesign is a group portrait of 19 “revolutionary” Italian designers active in the 1960s, and The Diplomat, the Artist and the Suit: The Story of Denton Corker Marshall is about the long-running Australian firm. For films that centered on place, a good place to start was Integral Man. Built by Canadian mathematician James Stewart, a “calculus rock star” who made his fortune authoring textbooks – he’s called the most published mathematician since Euclid. The building is called Integral House because of its curved walls, a reference to the mathematical integral symbol. Located outside Toronto, the house includes a concert hall seating 150 because of Stewart other passion is music (he was a concert-level violinist). After interviewing Frank Gehry, Steven Holl and Rem Koolhaas, Stewart decided on the Canadian firm Shim-Sutcliffe Architects (Howard Sutcliffe and Brigitte Shim). It’s a Toronto version of Fitzcarraldo’s opera house building project in the Amazon (Werner Herzog’s 1982 film). Alas, Stewart died as the house neared completion. The Neue Nationalgalerie chronicles the creation of this iconic structure by Mies van der Rohe, his last work, and the recent renovation by David Chipperfield. Filmed in lush black and white, intelligent interviews put the building in context, then and now. Greene & Green’s Gamble House in Pasadena tells the story of two Yankee blueblood brothers (the Puritan Mather family; ancestor Cotton oversaw the Salem witch trials) who went to MIT, stopped at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, saw the Japanese pavilion on their way west, and settled in the winter enclave for wealthy Midwesterners near Los Angeles. The Gambles from Cincinnati, from the Proctor and Gamble fortune, patronized the architects in one of several large homes where everything -- furniture, light fixtures, stained glass, rugs, andirons – was designed by the pair and fabricated with local craftsmen, like William Morris’s of the West. Building Hope: The Maggie’s Centres showcases the cancer centers, largely in the U.K., by prominent architects who lent their services because of their connection to Charles and Maggie Jencks. Face of a Nation: What Happened to the World's Fair? chronicles architect/filmmaker Mina Chow’s exploration of why world’s fairs have been abandoned in this country. Dynamically, two films featured movement through buildings: Aires Mateus: Matter in Reverse using the Portuguese firm’s work and Ghost Story with dancers using Bjark Ingels Via 57 as their stage.
- Glenn Murcutt: Spirit of Place, Catherine Hunter, director
- Designing Life: The Modernist Architecture of Albert C. Ledner, Catherine Ledner & Roy Beeson, directors
- Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect, Mark Noonan, director
- Dries, Reiner Holzemer, director
- Getting Frank Gehry, Sally Aitken, director
- Zaha: An Architectural Legacy, Jim Stephenson & Laura Mark, directors
- Jean Nouvel: Reflections, Matt Tyrnauer, director
- Rem, Tomas Koolhaas, director
- SuperDesign, Francesca Molteni, director
- The Diplomat, the Artist and the Suit: The Story of Denton Corker Marshall, Paul Goldman, director
- Integral Man, Joseph Clement, director
- The Neue Nationalgalerie, Ina Weisse, director
- Gamble House, Don Hahn, director
- Building Hope: The Maggie’s Centers, Sarah Howitt, director
- Face of a Nation - What Happened to the World's Fair? Mina Chow, director
- Aires Mateus: Matter in Reverse, Henrique Câmara Pina, director
- Ghost Story, Sarah Elgart, director
In the unfolding of any design movement, there are outliers who are seen as too far from the mainstream, too quirky to be celebrated by peers and historians. Over many decades of abundant architectural accomplishment, Albert C. Ledner was one of those. But he recently had the good fortune of winning widespread admiration in the months before his death on November 13 at the age of 93. Born in the Bronx in 1924, Ledner arrived in New Orleans at the age of nine months and left it only for short periods thereafter. His studies at Tulane were interrupted by his World War II service as a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps. While stationed in Arizona he made a visit to Frank Lloyd Wright's winter work place, Taliesin West, an event that, in his words, "had such a great bearing on my life." After the war, he finished his degree program at Tulane and spent some time with Wright at his base at Taliesin East in Wisconsin. By 1951, Ledner had started his own practice back in New Orleans, dedicated not to the Bauhaus-based Modernism largely dominating U.S. architecture of the time, but to the more adventurous variety associated with Wright. And unlike many Wright disciples, Ledner was able to escape the intimidating shadow of the master's creations to explore his own related design inspirations. Over a career that extended throughout his final years, Ledner created some 40 houses in the New Orleans area, not only designing them but directing their construction. He was thus a pioneer in the "design-build" process, led by the architect, not the builder, that has only recently been applauded in the architectural community. By proceeding this way, he was able to seize opportunities for unusual structural systems, distinctive uses of materials, and refinement of details without the tedious negotiations and cost premiums for innovation imposed by the traditional design-bid-build sequence. Ledner's relatively unfettered design approach led him to construct spaces of unconventional configuration and detail. In one house, he affixed some 1,200 amber glass ashtrays to the exterior, in part because the owners were heavy smokers (considered okay in the 1960s), but mainly because he admired the ashtrays' circle-in-a-square configuration. In another of his houses, he based his design on the owner's collection of traditional windows salvaged from the convents for which they were designed—assembling their curved-top shapes both right side–up and upside-down to striking effect. Ledner's youthful leap into structures of larger scale grew out of his first commission for the National Maritime Union for its meeting hall in New Orleans, a circular volume topped by a roof of radial, pleat-like forms. Pleased with this functional and visually iconic 1955 structure, the union commissioned him to design its buildings in the port cities of Mobile, Alabama; Baltimore, Houston, and Galveston, Texas. The most ambitious of these Maritime Union projects were the three structures he designed in Manhattan: the Joseph Curran Building in the West Village area, completed in 1964, containing its hiring hall, offices, and training facilities. Two residence halls for union members were completed later in the mid-1960s on two adjoining sites in Chelsea. All three eye-catching buildings have now been successfully and sensitively adapted for new uses. The sculptural six-story hiring hall and training structure, now under city landmark protection, is now the O'Toole Building, an emergency room and medical center. The residential structures, widely recognized for the circular windows that dot their tall facades, gracefully house the Maritime and Dream hotels. In recent years, Ledner's daughter Catherine produced a documentary on his life and work that featured a number of key buildings and much of his own charming commentary. She found an able and dedicated collaborator in Roy Beeson, her cousin on her mother's side. The film was shown in New Orleans last summer and at a September gathering co-hosted by the Modern architecture advocacy group DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State and AIA New York. For its showing at New York's Architecture and Design Film Festival in early November, Ledner himself attended and spoke, less than a week before his death. It is good to know that he was at last able to enjoy these heart-warming celebrations of his achievements. John Morris Dixon is a board member of DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State.
This year the Architecture & Design Film Festival (ADFF) returns to Cinépolis Chelsea for its ninth installment with 34 feature-length and short films. The lineup includes biopics about the life of revered architects Glenn Murcutt, Kevin Roche and Rem Koolhaas, as well as provocative thinkpieces about the design process. Today, the festival is hosting the world premiere of Made in Ilima, a film about a primary school and community center built in the Congo by 2017 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award winner, MASS Design Group. The film documents the collective building process—leveraging local craft and ecological considerations. Following the screening, the co-founders of MASS Design, Michael Murphy and Alan Ricks, will sit down with film director Thatcher Bean for a Q&A to discuss the project. Other films include REM, a biopic about Rem Koolhas' life, working methods, philosophy and internal landscape; Glenn Murcutt: Spirit of Place, is a chronicle of filmmaker Catherine Hunter following Murcutt for nearly a decade as he undertook a rare public commission – a new mosque for an Islamic community in Melbourne; Aires Mateus: Matter, an exploration of the Portugese firm's conceptual work on place, bodies and matter; Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect, tells the life story of Roche, his philosophy of creating “a community for a modern society,” and his forward-thinking pursuit of creating green buildings before they became buzzworthy; and Designing Life: The Modernist Architecture of Albert C. Ledner, an in-depth exploration of Ledner’s journey from his early days as a post-WWII student of Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin to the present day where Ledner continues to work and innovate at the age of 93. You can find a list of the films and programming on the ADFF website. Screenings will run from November 1-5, 2017 at Cinépolis Chelsea, 260 West 23rd Street, NYC.
This March, Angelenos will get front-row seats to the nation’s largest art, architecture, and urbanism–oriented film festival. Founded in 2009 in New York, the Architecture & Design Film Festival (ADFF) is coming to the West Coast for the first time March 12–16. The ADFF’s program includes 30 feature-length and short films, plus panel discussions, Q&A sessions with directors and subjects, special receptions, and a Hennessey + Ingalls pop-up bookshop. ADFF kicks off with a screening of If You Build It, a film by Patrick Creadon, directory of Wordplay and I.O.U.S.A. The feature-length documentary follows designer-activists Emily Pilloton and Matt Miller through a year of work with high school students in rural North Carolina. Also screening on opening night is 16 Acres, on a decade of rebuilding Ground Zero, and Design is One: Massimo & Lella Vignelli, on the work of the husband-and-wife graphic design team. Films scheduled for the following four days range from biopics on designers including Paul Smith, Tadao Ando, and Paolo Soleri, to a short film on farming in Brooklyn, to the The Human Scale, a Danish feature film on Jan Gehl’s urbanism. The world premiere of TELOS: The Fantastic World of Eugene Tssui will take place on the second night of the festival. Three California-centric films are on the ADFF menu. The Oyler House: Richard Neutra’s Desert Retreat looks at the relationship between Neutra and his working-class client. Chavez Ravine: A Los Angeles Story, chronicles the community's destruction. Coast Modern is a video tour of modern houses from Los Angeles to Vancouver. And Levitated Mass tells the story of the 340-ton boulder’s journey from a Riverside quarry to its permanent home at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. ADFF is curated by Kyle Bergman and Laura Cardello. All events will be held at the Los Angeles Theatre Centre. For more information on ADFF, including a list of speakers (TBD), visit the festival website.