Chatter: Architecture Talks Back The Art Institute of Chicago 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois Through July 12 The age of texting and tweeting has given more and more people a platform from which to opine, snipe, and complain about, well, everything—including architecture and development projects. Such is the backdrop for Chatter: Architecture Talks Back, an exhibition on view at The Art Institute of Chicago through Sunday, July 12. The multimedia show features work by five emerging architectural firms: Bureau Spectacular, Erin Besler, Fake Industries Architectural Agonism, Formlessfinder, and John Szot Studio. A custom installation by Iker Gil, director of the design publication Mas Context, accompanies Chatter, designed “to explore the multitude of ways in which architecture can be communicated and how the active qualities of chatter—from being constant to satirical—spark conversations.” In the spirit of such conversations, The Art Institute is hosting two roundtable discussions—“Chatter Chats”—in the space. The first took place on April 11, the second will occur on May 16.
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Chatter: Architecture Talks Back opened at the Art Institute of Chicago on Saturday with a buzzing roundtable “salon” between experimental architects and progressive design scholars. Packed to standing-room-only, the dialogue asked how new modes of communication are reshaping architecture’s heritage of representation. The new exhibition features five young architects who are shifting how building design engages the architectural canon. Bureau Spectacular, Erin Besler, Fake Industries Architectural Agonism, Formlessfinder, and John Szot Studio deploy a variety of new architectural media from comics to cinema to installations in neon. “We’re questioning the need to go through the architectural act [of building] to generate a culture change,” posed John Szot, in reference to his studio’s recent architectural film. Curated by Karen Kice, an assistant curator of architecture and design at the Art Institute, the show is installed similarly to 2013’s lauded Studio Gang exhibition, with insightful process-based architectural experiments throughout a large gallery, followed by a more intimate space for conversation and contemplation. Kice invited Iker Gil to curate the latter gallery. Gil, the founder of Chicago-based architecture firm MAS Studio and the design publication MAS Context, is also coordinating exhibition events, including the inaugural Chatter Chat. The salon began with a presentation by Chris Grimley on how his practice, over,under, leverages social media for architecture and the paradox of archiving contemporary thought. Next Jimenez Lai, founder of Bureau Spectacular and former mentee of Stanley Tigerman, spoke of caricature in architecture. Lai embraces the chatter of architects: his cartoonish representations of plans and sections look accessible, but are in fact loaded with architectural pranks only legible to design insiders. John Szot then shared teasers from his multi-year film project, Architecture and the Unspeakable, which reveals stories of urban buildings through the lens of demolition and degradation. The ensuing discussion between presenters and scholars was heavy on avant garde architectural theory. While the concepts may have been too oblique for casual museum-goers, the rapt attention of the audience demonstrated that Chicago’s design scene may be craving this caliber of live intellectual discourse. Balancing the experts’ conversation, ticker tape machines mounted above the window steadily printed a physical curtain of digital commentary from Twitter feeds from around the world. Additional events in the exhibition promise to offer new perspectives on the work for a broader range of participants. Check out next weekend’s gallery brunch by ArtFEED to dine with young artists and designers in the midst of this compelling collection of architectural provocations. The next Chatter Chat roundtable is May 16.
The City Lost and Found: Capturing New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, 1960–1980 Art Institute Chicago 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago Through January 11th With its new exhibition, The City Lost and Found: Capturing New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, 1960–1980, the Art Institute Chicago explores how the country’s three largest cities transformed in the latter half of the 20th Century. Through photographs and films from the era, this exhibit illuminates significant urban changes through intimate, street-level portraits and studies of city life. “These new forms of photography offered the public a complex image of urban life and experience while also allowing architects, planners, and journalists to imagine and propose new futures for American cities,” according to a statement from the museum. The exhibit incorporates works from the institute’s own holdings, as well as from more than 30 collections from around the country. The City Lost and Found also includes planning documents, photo collages, artist books, and slideshows, which blur the lines between activists, planners, journalists, and artists. The final result is a comprehensive multimedia experience that lets visitors reenter and reconsider a pivotal time for America’s cities.
Chicagoisms Art Institute of Chicago 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Ilinois Through January 4, 2015 Chicagoisms is an ongoing exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago that focuses on key historical principles—“Chicagoisms”—that went into creating and shaping the city that we know today. The exhibition was put together by architectural theorist Alexander Eisenschmidt and art historian Jonathan Mekinda working with designer Matt Wizinsky. The show features interpretations of five Chicagoisms from nine different architects—Bureau Spectacular, DOGMA, MVDRV, Organization for Permanent Modernity, PORT, Sam Jacob, UrbanLab, Weathers, and WW. The architects paired architectural models with manifestos regarding their significance and present them in juxtaposition with historical black-and-white photographs. The result is a double vision showing both the contrast between the art and architecture of today’s Chicago and that of the past, as well as how historical factors continue to act as a catalyst for contemporary innovators.
Chicago, in a bid to boost its tourism industry and cultural cachet, will host an international design exhibition next year modeled after the Venice Biennale, which every two years draws contributions from architects and artists from around the world. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the Chicago Architecture Biennial Tuesday. Speaking to the Chicago Tribune’s Blair Kamin, Emanuel said he hopes to use the city’s reputation as a hub for modern architecture to encourage economic development:
"Obviously there's an economic benefit in tourism and travel. Chicago will continue to be seen worldwide as an epicenter of modern architecture… The real question is: Why wasn't Chicago doing this before?"The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and the Graham Foundation will present the show, which will be based in the Chicago Cultural Center. The Chicago Architecture Foundation, whose annual Open House Chicago will coincide with the start of the initial biennial, will help coordinate the first exhibition, which is planned for October 1, 2015 through January 3, 2016. Oil company BP donated $2.5 million for the first show. Kamin reported that Emanuel personally solicited BP’s grant funding, and that the city’s still looking to raise $1.5 million more. While the Chicago event makes no secret of taking after its prestigious namesake in Venice, there will be several differences from that event, which reportedly drew more than 175,000 visitors in 2012. Admission to Chicago’s event will be free, and the show will not have national pavilions. It will have a theme, which has yet to be determined, and will seek to compete in an increasingly crowded field of international design exhibitions. Venice has mounted its exhibition 14 times in 34 years, deviating occasionally from its biennial schedule. If Chicago’s initial event is deemed a success, officials say they’ll duplicate it every two years. Joseph Grima, who co-curated the Istanbul biennial in 2012, and Graham Foundation Director Sarah Herda will co-direct the inaugural Chicago event. Another Chicago-based design curator, Zöe Ryan of the Art Institute of Chicago, is coordinating Istanbul’s next biennial, which will run concurrently with Chicago’s.
As the consequences of climate change become more apparent, “resilience” has replaced “sustainability” or “green building” as the goal of environmentally-sensitive design. The concept of resilience is particularly pertinent to the building envelope—the protective barrier between a structure’s occupants and the environment. But what, exactly, does resilience mean in the context of designing and engineering facades? This question is at the heart of the facades+ Chicago conference taking place July 24–25 at the Art Institute of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Over two days, leading facades specialists will explore the role of the building envelope in designing for resilience through a series of presentations and workshops. Thursday’s symposium features a roster of speakers including James Timberlake (Kieran Timberlake) and Francisco Gonzalez Pulido (JAHN), who will deliver the morning and afternoon keynotes, respectively. Mic Patterson (Enclos), Juan Moreno (JGMA), Jeff Holmes (Woods Bagot), Steve Nilles (Goettsch Partners), and Chris Stutzki (Stutzki Engineering) will also present on a range of topics, from emerging technologies to building for resilience with glass. In an afternoon panel, Matt Jezyk (Autodesk), Zach Krohn (Autodesk), Nate Miller (CASE-Inc.), and Andrew Heumann (NBBJ) will discuss the integration of design, simulation, documentation, and production. On Friday, participants choose from a series of dialog and tech workshops for in-depth exposure to special topics and technologies. Dialog workshops include “Evolution of Breathable Building Facades,” “ReVisioning of Existing Facades,” “Supple Skins: Emerging Practices in Facade Adaptation and Resilience,” and “Off the Grid: Embedded Power Generation/Net Positive.” Tech workshops offer hands-on instruction in Dynamo for Autodesk Vasari, advanced facade panelization and optimization, collaborative design with Grasshopper, and environmental analysis and facade optimization. Conference attendees will have plenty of time between symposium events and during workshop breaks to network with other participants and meet vendors. A complimentary networking lunch is scheduled for both days. Thursday evening there will be a cocktail reception at the Adler & Sullivan-designed Art Institute Stock Exchange Trading Room. For more information and to register, visit the facades+ Chicago website. Early Bird registration ends June 29.
A short time from now in a neighborhood not far, far away… filmmaker extraordinaire George Lucas may land his art and film museum in Chicago. The move comes after the filmmaker's bid to build the museum in San Francisco fell through last year. Mayor Rahm Emanuel formed a task force last week, directing a dozen civic leaders to scout out, as the Sun-Times summarized, “a site ‘accessible’ to all Chicago neighborhoods that’s large enough to host a museum ‘comparable to other major cultural institutions,’ but does not ‘require taxpayer dollars.’” The task force is co-chaired by businessmen Gillian Darlow and Kurt Summers. Emanuel gave the group until mid-May to find a homebase for the Star Wars creator, who last year married Mellody Hobson, president of the Chicago investment firm Ariel. Lucas now lives in Chicago part-time, but Lucasfilm Ltd. and special effects company Industrial Light & Magic are still based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lucas had originally scoped out a spot in the Presidio, but was rejected by the Presidio trust—the nonprofit that oversees the federally owned land at the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge. Lucas' was one of three proposals for The Presidio's 8-acre mid-Crissy Field site, all of which The Presidio Trust rejected earlier this year, saying in a statement "We simply do not believe any of the projects were right for this location." Spokesman David Perry has described the 95,000-square-foot museum as the “history of storytelling” and the “world’s foremost museum dedicated to the power of the visual image.” Chicago is home to many museums, both well-known like the Art Institute and the Field Museum, and a bit more odd—say, the International Museum of Surgical Science. But the Lucas museum, which will include film memorabilia as well as works of art from the likes of Norman Rockwell and Maxfield Parrish, would be a big get. San Francisco is still vying for the return of its film Jedi, but we’ll see in one month how Rahm’s empire might strike back.
Japanese architect and 2013 Pritzker Laureate Toyo Ito visited the Art Institute of Chicago Tuesday, reflecting during two public lectures on how the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated his homeland changed his approach to design. At 72 years old, the accomplished architect might be expected to rest on his laurels. But Ito said his entire approach began to change during the 1990s. “I used to pursue architecture that is beautiful, aligned with modernism,” he said through an interpreter during a talk with Korean artists Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho; Yusaku Imamura, director of Tokyo Wonder Site; and artist Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle. Instead, he said, he began to ask what elements of a building make it livable. On March 11, 2011, the most powerful earthquake ever to hit Japan killed more than 15,000 people and destroyed hundreds of thousands of buildings. Like many Japanese architects, Ito wanted to help. From a series of discussions with quake victims rendered homeless, Ito’s firm developed their “Home-for-All” project. Tuesday evening Ito delivered the Art Institute’s Butler-VanderLinden Lecture, titled “Architecture after 3.11”. He described how government recovery plans failed to inspire or comfort those they were supposed to assist. They were too compartmentalized, isolating, and ignorant of the “dreams and visions” of their users, Ito said. One home Ito’s group built for 3.11 victims salvaged giant kesen cedars, devastated by the tsunami, for construction material — “a sign we’re rebuilding,” he said.
"I was surprised that throwing away the title of 'architect' was so welcomed by people" #toyoito #homeforall — Chris Bentley (@Cementley) October 15, 2013Ito said he’s often asked how to bridge the gap between this post-disaster work and his typical practice. His reply: “Build architecture that is open to nature and harmonizes with people.” Ito’s visit also included a tour of “News from Nowhere,” the first U.S. presentation of the work by Korean artists Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho. Moon and Jeon meditate on a post-apocalyptic society composed of nation-corporations that control the technology necessary to sustain life after a 22nd century global catastrophe. That equipment is displayed throughout, along with a pair of lyrical videos that sketch the story of two survivors. The exhibition also features elements of Ito’s “Home-for-All” project alongside work from fashion designers Kuho Jung and Kosuke Tsumura; mime Yu Jin Gyu; and design firms MVRDV and takram design engineering. The exhibit is on display at the Sullivan Galleries — 33 S. State St., 7th floor — through December 21.
On View> “3 in 1: Contemporary Explorations in Architecture & Design” at the Art Institute of Chicago
3 in 1: Contemporary Explorations in Architecture & Design The Art Institute of Chicago 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL Through January 5, 2014 3 in 1 Contemporary Explorations in Architecture and Design is broken down into three small separate exhibitions each revealing different categories: architecture, product design, and fashion. In Reality Lab, the Japanese designer Issey Miyake, head of Reality Lab Studio, reveals a spectrum of diverse and innovative products resulting from his experiments with material, structure, and form. The exhibition includes Miyake’s two products lines: 132 5 and IN EI, which are based on origami-folding techniques that create two-dimensional geometric patterns and unfold into remarkable voluminous forms. Los Angeles architect Greg Lynn’s Stranded Sears Tower explores how computer programming can act as a mode of creative expression. Lynn re-envisions and reconstitutes Chicago’s Sears Tower in order to develop a new kind of flexible and fluid type of architecture. Lastly, the Dutch designers Scholten & Bailings combine craft and industrial practices in order to re-invent everyday objects. Through the use of different colors, forms, and materials, their Colour reveals the numerous amounts of projects that the designers have accumulated over the past 13 years.
Zoë Ryan, curator of architecture and design at the Art Institute of Chicago, has been selected to curate the second Istanbul Design Biennial, taking place from October 18 through December 14, 2014. Read AN's report from the previous Istanbul Design Biennial here. Ryan has been working to expand the Art Institute's architecture and design holdings and teaches at the School of the Art Institute and at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Previously, she worked at New York's Van Alen Institute and the Museum of Modern Art. (Photo: Courtesy Art Institute of Chicago)
Abelardo Morell: The Universe Next Door Art Institute of Chicago 111 South Michigan Avenue Through September 2, 2013 Abelardo Morell is a Cuban-born American photographer who over the past 25 years has used photography and his unique way of looking at the world to create compelling works of art. Morell finds inspiration for his pictures in the environment he is most comfortable in, his home. The subjects of Morell’s photographs are common household objects—still lives of books and money—but the photographer is most known for his Camera Obscura series. To create these unique, large-format photographs, Morell cuts out a small opening in a dark room that reveals a view of the outside world. An upside down image of the outside is then projected back into the interior of the room. Morell then photographs a projection of the outside world set against the common objects that fill a room’s interior, such as a bed, or a table of stacked books. This exhibition features more than 100 of the artist’s works in which he experimented with various techniques, including photograms, still-life tableaux, stop-motion studies, and the tent camera.
Sharing Space: Creative Intersections in Architecture and Design The Art Institute of Chicago 111 South Michigan Avenue Through August 4 This new exhibition at The Art Institute of Chicago explores the influential impact that color inevitably has on our perception of geometry. It presents an extensive collection of modern and contemporary works ranging from the 1940’s to 2012 created by architects, urban planners, graphic designers, and industrial designers. One of the works prominently featured in the exhibit is Camouflage House (above), Doug Garofalo and David Leary’s theoretical project in which the pair “colored-in” the contours of a building, blurring the rigid lines and sharp angles of the structure and causing it to blend in with the surrounding natural landscape. The exhibition underlines the contrasting relationship between color and geometry and highlights the effect this relationship can have on architecture and design.