Posts tagged with "Athens":

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The Architectural League of New York announces 2017 Norden Fund recipients

The Architectural League of New York has announced the two winners of its 2017 Deborah J. Norden Fund, a travel grant that was established in 1995. The grant is awarded to students and recent graduates in the fields of architecture, architectural history, and urban studies.

This year, Kevin Malawski for Pikionis’ Pathway: Paving the Acropolis and Priyanka Shah for Deep Skins: Roger Anger’s Facade Operations were the recipients of the grant. They will both receive $5,000 to use for travel and study.

Malawski, who currently works at New York–based EwingCole, will travel to Athens, Greece to explore the relationship between modern planning principles and regional sensitivity. Through sketches, photographs, and diagrams, his project revolves around the intricacies of Dimitris Pikionis’s five-kilometer, mid-20th-century pathway to the Acropolis. Located within olive tree groves to frame vistas, the mosaic-paved walkways also include gutters and trenches to divert water from seasonal downpours (a result of the Mediterranean climate). Malawski hopes to fill an academic void for Pikionis' architecture, which “employs a mix of operative regionalist undertones with modernism to define a space which authentically relates to the ancient Acropolis it is sited on,” he said.  

Shah, who is an architectural designer with international firm Grimshaw Architects, will go to Paris and Grenoble, France to document Roger Anger’s high-rise residential buildings, specifically looking at the geometric articulations and arrangements. Anger, an influential French architect in the 1950s and 60s, became known for his buildings' facades which present “a direct antecedent to contemporary computational design.” Upon his death, the majority of his works were kept with his estate and remain inaccessible to the public. Shah will consult archives and visit his buildings to create a comprehensive, digitized monograph of his designs.

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In new book, Victoria Newhouse details the saga of Renzo Piano’s Athens cultural center

The incredible challenges inherent in today’s mega-architectural undertakings triggered my interest in just how such projects are built. More than four years ago I began to track the design, construction, and completion of one of the most ambitious of these, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) in Athens. I could not have anticipated in those early days how the global economic crisis and subsequent political upheaval in Greece would affect the story of the $842 million building complex and 40-acre park. Even under these circumstances, the building was completed on time and on budget and is already inundated with visitors, both local and foreign; the new national opera house and national library will open officially this fall.

Almost as soon as I started to research the SNFCC, I was struck by the number of people, companies, and even cultures involved, the largest team I’ve ever seen on a cultural project. Project meetings were a veritable Tower of Babel, with Greek (construction workers) and Italian (the RPBW architects and one of the joint-venture contractors) foremost, and a good deal of English thrown in (many of the special consultants). Most of the time the group worked harmoniously. There were a few disagreements at the outset, but the site remained markedly congenial throughout the five years of construction.

A major reason for this coordination was the universal respect for Renzo Piano. The Italian architect was likened by one member of the Greek teams to “an orchestra conductor for his ability to work with all manner of collaborators.” His visits to the site were like the public appearance of a pop star, with admirers vying to get selfies with him. But there was also the fact that the SNFCC was the only important construction job in a city paralyzed by economic austerity. Seen as a symbol of hope for the nation’s recovery, it provided thousands of jobs in a nation wracked by unemployment. One of the Greek project managers expressed the general feeling on-site: “It’s a first, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Victoria Newhouse’s new book, Chaos and Culture: Renzo Piano Building Workshop and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens was published by the Monacelli Press in May 2017

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New book tells the story of the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center, but can a building this wasteful really be called “green”?

Last year, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, a 1.28 million-square-foot complex built into an artificial hill in Athens, was inaugurated to great fanfare. The building will provide two institutions, the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera, pristine new homes, and it is a significant addition to the Athens cultural landscape. This year saw a related achievement: the publication of Victoria Newhouse’s Chaos and Culture: Renzo Piano Building Workshop and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens, a richly detailed account of the creation of the $800 million complex. The book could have been a dud; after all, as Newhouse herself notes, the realization of the Athens project was “nearly trouble-free.” But Newhouse lucked out, in part because Greece didn’t: The country was in dire financial and political straits for most of the time the complex was in the works, providing the “chaos” of the title. Only the commitment of the deep-pocketed Stavros Niarchos Foundation kept the project on track. But the plan was always that the complex, once completed, would be turned over to the Greek government, which would operate it with taxpayer funds—a result that now seems unrealistic. (Worse, the agreement between the foundation and the government stipulates that if the government fails to meet its obligation to operate the Center, it will refund the foundation’s entire investment in the project—money the government doesn’t appear to have.) So the book became as much a tale of politics and economics as of architecture. And right now, that tale is a cliffhanger: neither the library nor the opera house has fully moved into the building. True, there is some architectural intrigue, usually involving firms other than the always-dependable Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW): Newhouse details the master-planning work of the New York firm Cooper Robertson that preceded the selection of RPBW to design the complex. She then reports that almost nothing of the master plan can be seen in the RPBW design. And she delves into the hiring, in 2013, of the Dutch firm Mecanoo, to rethink RPBW’s library design. Newhouse writes:
The idea that work by Renzo Piano—winner of a Pritzker Prize, among numerous other awards—could be corrected by anyone, let alone a far less known firm, would be surprising under any circumstances. What made it especially so is the stark disparity of styles between the two offices.
But Piano prevailed: “Having initially greeted [Mecanoo founder Francine] Houben with his usual charm, the Italian architect barely glanced at the Mecanoo proposal in late 2013 before rejecting it out of hand.” In the course of writing the book, Newhouse developed expertise on subjects as diverse as the history of philanthropy in the Ottoman world and the acoustical preferences of Southern Europeans. The book is a kind of encyclopedia. But there is one significant lacuna:  Newhouse calls the building “a triumph of environmental sensitivity.” In fact, the building, despite incorporating enough “green” features to achieve LEED platinum status, is inherently wasteful.  First, it’s not clear it was needed in the first place. The Greek National Opera, though lacking a purpose-built home, has performed “with great success” at the Megaron Concert Hall in the center of Athens, Newhouse reports. As for the library, its existing building, also in the center of the city, could handle far more visitors than it received. Consequently, Newhouse writes, “no one was able to realistically define the new library’s purpose.” Neither organization had a director at the time the planning for the cultural center began. And with the country in economic crisis, the entire enterprise, Newhouse observes, “defied logic.” But the Niarchos Foundation was determined to build something important, and its resolve only strengthened when the Greek economy collapsed. True, Piano’s best buildings, including New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, exhibit an inherent modesty (as does Piano himself). But the Niarchos Foundation encouraged Piano to think big. After visiting the Athens site, he decided to give the library and opera separate buildings, facing a modern agora (through a pair of enormous glass facades) and set them into a manmade hill, more than 100 feet high at its peak. “It was an almost childish idea:  I simply lifted the ground’s surface to make way for the architecture,” Piano told the author. Creating the hill would involve building vast retaining walls, moving some 654,000 cubic feet of earth, and protecting all of it against seismic activity. That was accomplished by filling steel tubes with rocks, then hammering the tubes into the earth at 10-foot intervals, creating some 3,500 “gravel piles” in the process. Those processes required vast amounts of energy. Then came the planting of the center’s 40-acre garden, much of it on raised ground, and the extensive irrigation required to keep it alive in arid Athens—a process that involves both pumping water uphill and passing it through a reverse osmosis desalinization plant. The hill, that “childish idea,” is a grown-up energy consumer. Overall, operating the cultural center will require 14 gigawatt-hours of electricity each year, Newhouse reports. Producing that much power through the burning of coal—the predominant source of electricity in Greece—will create some 30 million pounds of CO2 or its equivalents, according to the best available figures. That’s about as much 1,500 average Greeks produce each year. True, setting the building in a hill could reduce the cooling load by as much as 7%, Newhouse reports. But counting that as an environmental victory is like counting gambling winnings while ignoring losses. And, true, the vast building has a substantial photovoltaic system. In fact, after the artificial hill, its most prominent feature is the canopy atop the opera house, a kind of flying carpet supporting 87,000 square feet (about two acres) of photovoltaic panels. That certainly sounds green. But the panels, even with the latest technology, will produce just 2 gigawatt-hours of electricity each year, or about 15% of the building’s needs. (And that’s if all goes well.) And even that power isn’t “free,” environmentally speaking. Thirty steel columns, braced by diagonal cable ties, support the p.v. panel-covered canopy, which is estimated to weigh 4,700 tons. The carbon footprint of structural steel is enormous. And solar panels themselves require energy to fabricate, transport, and install. There is no free lunch, energy-wise. Making matters worse, the Center is two miles from the nearest subway stop. Hard to reach by public transit, it contains 1,000 parking spaces, evidence of its reliance on private cars. LEED doesn't take any of that into account. It is essentially a checklist system, conferring points for “moves” like providing bicycle racks and using recycled building materials.  Whether the building should have been built in the first place; whether it could have been built closer to public transportation; or could have been significantly smaller than it is—the big-ticket items, environmentally—are the very issues LEED ignores. Of course, I understand the need for symbols, which can help uplift societies (especially societies as troubled as 21st-century Greece). And I believe that the Niarchos Foundation had the best intentions when it vowed to make the building green.  But the building it built is anything but green, and LEED is its enabler. With its “platinum” imprimatur, LEED sends a message that even unnecessary buildings, on sites ill-served by public transportation, and requiring vast amounts of energy to build and maintain, are good for the environment. Which, at this time of climate crisis, triggered by energy consumption, is a dangerous message to send. Chaos and Culture: Renzo Piano Building Workshop and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens is available from Monacelli Press.
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New Museum and NEON announce IdeasCity Athens speakers and fellows

The New Museum is partnering with the contemporary art non-profit NEON to present IdeasCity Athens, a five-day residency program culminating in a public conference at the Athens Conservatory in Greece. Forty fellows will live and work at the conservatory to observe the state of the city and work towards addressing the problems it faces. The fellows' work culminates in a free conference on September 24. The Architect's Newspaper was on the ground this spring for IdeasCity Detroit (see our comprehensive coverage here.) Programs have also been held in New York, Istanbul, and Sao Paulo. The platform was started by Lisa Phillips and Karen Wong, director and deputy director of The New Museum. John Akomfrah, Tania Bruguera, dream hampton, George Prevelakis, Nick Srnicek, and Hito Steyerl are among the speakers at the conference. Check out the IdeasCity website for more information about the Athens fellows and upcoming programs. The full list of fellow and speakers, taken from a recent press release, follows below. IdeasCity Athens Speakers Yaşar Adanalı is an urbanist, researcher, and lecturer based in Istanbul. He is a cofounder of Center for Spatial Justice Beyond Istanbul, a cross-disciplinary urban institute that works on issues of spatial justice in Turkey. Additionally, Adanalı teaches courses in participatory planning at Technical University of Darmstadt and in urban political ecology at Koç University in Istanbul. John Akomfrah is an artist and filmmaker based in London. His work has been exhibited at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Tate Britain, the Museum of Modern Art, the Hayward Gallery, the 2015 Venice Biennale, and the 2012 Taipei Biennial, among other venues. Additionally, Akomfrah’s films have been featured in the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. Tania Bruguera is a performance artist based in New York and Havana. Bruguera has exhibited her work at the 2015 Venice Biennale, Tate Modern, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, among other places. Since 2015, she has been the artist in residence in the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Additionally, Bruguera is the initiator of Instituto de Artivismo Hannah Arendt in Havana. Thomas Doxiadis is an architect and landscape designer based in Athens. He is the founder of doxiadis+, an architecture office that works on urban interventions, landscape restoration, and policy. Currently Doxiadis is Chair of the Natural Environment Council of the Greek Society for Natural and Cultural Preservation. Rosanne Haggerty is a community development leader based in New York. Haggerty is the founder of Common Ground, a not-for-profit organization that works with cities to design new approaches to health, housing, and community challenges. She is a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Award and was awarded the Jane Jacobs Medal for New Ideas and Activism from the Rockefeller Foundation. dream hampton is a filmmaker, writer, and organizer from Detroit. Point Supreme Architects is a design studio based in Athens. It was founded in Rotterdam by Konstantinos Pantazis and Marianna Rentzou in 2007. Their work integrates research, architecture, urbanism, landscape, and urban design. The studio’s work has been exhibited at the 2015 Chicago Biennial, the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, and Storefront for Art and Architecture. George Prevelakis is a political scientist and geographer based in Paris. Prevelakis is Professor of Geopolitics and Cultural Geography at the Sorbonne University, Paris. Previously, he has served as the Greek Permanent Representative at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. He is Codirector of the French journal Anatoli and a regular contributor to the Athens daily newspaper Kathimerini. Nick Srnicek is a writer and educator based in London. Srnicek is Lecturer in International Political Economy at City University London and the author of Platform Capitalism and, with Alex Williams,Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work, a new manifesto for a high-tech future free from work. Currently, he is writing After Work: What’s Left and Who Cares? Hito Steyerl is a writer and filmmaker based in Berlin. She is Professor of New Media Art at the Berlin University of the Arts. Steyerl’s work has been exhibited at Artists Space, Institute of Contemporary Arts, and the Art Institute of Chicago, among other places. Additionally, Steyerl contributes regularly to the online arts journal e-flux. Pelin Tan is a historian and sociologist based in Turkey. Tan is Associate Professor in Architecture at Mardin Artuklu University in Istanbul. In 2015, she curated “Adhocracy – Athens” for the Onassis Cultural Center and was a board member of the Greek Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Additionally, Tan co-runs the project Autonomous Infrastructure for the 2017 Oslo Architecture Triennial. IdeasCity Athens Fellows Kafilat Adeola Aderemi is an activist and researcher based in Athens. She is a research assistant at Yale University and works as a yoga therapist for Melissa Network, an organization for migrant women that drives integration and capacity building in Athens. Antonia Alampi is an art historian, curator, and writer based in Berlin. Her work has been published inart-agenda, Arte e Critica, and Flash Art International, among other magazines. Alampi previously worked at Beirut, an art initiative and exhibition space in Cairo. Elina Axioti is an artist and researcher based in Berlin. She is a current PhD candidate at Humboldt University and previously worked as Assistant Curator for the exhibition “Heaven Live” at the 2009 Athens Biennial. Haris Biskos is an architect based in Athens. He is the founder of Traces of Commerce, an initiative that repurposes the vacant storefronts of Athens, and Program Coordinator at synAthina, a social innovation platform. Sasha Bonét is a writer and activist based in New York. Her writing has appeared in Guernica magazine,AFAR magazine, and the Feminist Wire, among other publications. Bonét is currently working on a collection of essays on radical black feminism. James Bridle is an artist and writer based in Athens. Bridle’s work focuses on the impact of technology on culture and society. He contributes to the Guardian, Frieze magazine, the Atlantic, Vice, and Domus, and has lectured internationally. Maria-Thalia Carras is a curator and cultural producer based in Athens. She is a cofounder of the nonprofit contemporary arts organization Locus Athens. Previously, Carras was Assistant Curator of “Outlook: International Art Exhibition” in Athens. Dario Calmese is a photographer and artist based in New York. He is a regular writer on style and culture for the Huffington Post and the Daily Beast. Calmese currently sits on the advisory board of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Amy Chester is a civic organizer based in New York. She is Managing Director of Rebuild by Design, where she focuses on design and community engagement. Previously, she worked for the New York City Housing Authority and the Office of the Mayor in New York. Manolis Daskalakis-Lemos is an artist based in Athens. Currently, he is in residence at the Palais de Tokyo’s Pavillon Neuflize OBC. His work has been exhibited at the Benaki Museum, LUMA Westbau, the Serpentine Galleries, and the Athens Biennial, among other venues. Stamatia Dimitrakopoulos is a curator and writer based in Athens. She is Curator of the Breeder residency program. Previously, Dimitrakopoulos worked for the Greek Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale and the 2017 Athens Biennial. Sofia Dona is an architect and artist based in Athens and Munich. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Thessaly in Greece and has participated in the Athens Biennial, the São Paulo Biennial of Architecture, and the Istanbul Design Biennial. iLiana Fokianaki is an art critic and curator based in Athens. She is the founder of State of Concept, a nonprofit gallery in Athens. Fokianaki has written for LEAP, ART PAPERS, and Monocle, among other publications. Ayasha Guerin is an artist and scholar based in New York. She is a PhD candidate at New York University, where she is focusing on urban environmental studies. Currently, she is also a Fellow at the Museum of the City of New York. Olga Hatzidaki is a curator and cultural producer based in Athens. She is a cofounder of the nonprofit contemporary arts organization Locus Athens. In 2007, Hatzidaki was a curatorial assistant at the Athens Biennial. Zoe Hatziyannaki is an artist based in Athens. She is a member of the collective Depression Era and the artist-led studio and project space A-Dash. Hatziyannaki’s work has been published and exhibited globally. Victoria Ivanova is a curator and writer based in London. She is a cofounder of Real Flow, a platform for art and finance in New York, and IZOLYATSIA, a cultural center in Donetsk, Ukraine. Previously, she was Assistant Curator for Public Programmes at Tate Modern. Stefan Jovanovic is a designer and artist based in London. He is currently in residence at Sadler’s Wells Theatre and is working at ImPulsTanz in Vienna with Tino Sehgal. Jovanovic has performed at Musée de la danse at Tate Modern, among other places. Mathias Klenner is an architect and university lecturer based in Santiago, Chile. He is a cofounder of the architecture collective TOMA. Klenner’s work has been exhibited in various venues, including the 2015 Chicago Biennial. Marily Konstantinopoulou is an arts professional based in New York. She currently works in the Museum of Modern Art’s R&D Department. Previously, she was a consultant at the Hellenic Parliament for the Standing Committee on Cultural and Educational Affairs. Ben Landau is an artist and designer based in Melbourne, Australia. Landau lectures at RMIT University in Melbourne and has exhibited his work in the Biennial of Design Ljubljana, the Istanbul Design Biennial, Bureau Europa, and the Lisbon Architecture Triennial. Jimenez Lai is an architect based in Los Angeles. He is the founder of Bureau Spectacular, an architecture group that focuses on cartoons, storytelling, and communication. Lai designed the Taiwan Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2014. Constantine Lemos is an architect based in London. He has worked on design projects in Dubai and Istanbul for Anouska Hempel, construction projects in Abu Dhabi, and shipbuilding in Greece. Fei Liu is a designer and artist based in New York. She is a 2016–17 member of the New Museum’s art, design, and technology incubator, NEW INC. Liu curates a podcast and music show at Bel-Air, an artist-run online radio station in Brooklyn. Juan López-Aranguren is an architect and civic designer based in Madrid. He is a cofounder of the artist and architecture collective Basurama. López-Aranguren has exhibited and built projects internationally. Marcelo López-Dinardi is an architect and educator based in New York. He is a partner of A(n) Office, a design and curatorial practice that was selected to represent the United States at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. Kosmas Nikolaou is an artist based in Athens. He is a cofounder of 3 137, an artist-run space in Athens. His work has been exhibited at the Benaki Museum, the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Enterprise Projects, and Rebecca Camhi Gallery in Athens, among other venues. Michael MacGarry is a visual artist and filmmaker based in Johannesburg. He is a PhD candidate at the University of the Witwatersrand and has exhibited his work at Tate Modern, Guggenheim Bilbao, Kiasma Museum, and Iziko South African National Gallery. Tiff Massey is an artist and activist based in Detroit. Her work explores class, race, and contemporary culture through the lens of African adornment. Massey is a 2015 Kresge Visual Arts Fellowship awardee and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation grant recipient. Shawn McLearen is a community real estate developer based in New York. He is the founder and President of Placeful, a nonprofit organization that focuses on socially responsible partnerships. Sean Monahan is an artist and writer based in New York and Los Angeles. He is a cofounder of the trend-forecasting group K-HOLE. Monahan has worked with Virgin Group, MTV, the New Museum, MoMA P.S.1, Casper, and the 2016 Berlin Biennial, among other organizations. Ilias Papageorgiou is an architect based in New York. He is a partner at SO – IL, an architecture studio that envisions spaces for culture, learning, and innovation. Papageorgiou has taught at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University. Fortuné Penniman is an architect based in Dubai. He is a cofounder of the design and research practice A Hypothetical Office. In 2016 he graduated with honors from the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. Eduardo Pérez is an architect and manufacturer based in Santiago, Chile. He is a cofounder of the architecture collective TOMA. Pérez has exhibited his work at the 2015 Chicago Biennial, among other venues. Danielle Rosales is a graphic designer and sociologist based in Paris. She is Design Researcher at Civic City and a cofounder of Spatial Codes. Rosales’s work was featured in the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. Maria Stanisheva is a documentary filmmaker based in New York. She is the founder of FINDING HOME, an online storytelling platform for displaced communities. Stanisheva’s work has been featured on Euronews and in the New York Times and the Independent. Hakan Topal is an artist based in Brooklyn, New York. He is Assistant Professor of New Media and Art+Design at SUNY Purchase College, and his work has been exhibited at the Gwangju Biennial, the Istanbul Biennial, the Venice Biennale, and MoMA P.S.1. Francis Tseng is a designer and software engineer based in New York. He is a 2016–17 member of the New Museum’s art, design, and technology incubator, NEW INC. Previously, Tseng worked for the New York Times and the Washington Post. Jonida Turani is an architect and curator based in Venice and Tirana, Albania. She is Codirector of Beyond Entropy Balkans, a nonprofit platform for art, architecture, and geopolitics. In 2014 she co-curated the Albanian Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale. Rebecca Bucky Willis is an architectural designer based in Detroit. She is the founder of Bleeding Heart Design, a nonprofit organization that sets out to inspire altruism. Previously, she worked at the Detroit Collaborative Design Center at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture.
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Four Firms Shortlisted To Rehab Gropius-Designed Embassy in Athens

The Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) announced yesterday its shortlist of design firms to rehabilitate the Walter Gropius-designed US Embassy building in Greece, known as the Athens Chancery. The four firms were selected out of an applicant pool of 56 submissions, and include: Ann Beha Architects, DesignLab Architects, Machado Silvetti / Baker, and Mark Cavagnero Associates. “The shortlisted submissions presented projects that were well-conceived and well-executed, displaying a sophisticated understanding of the issues involved in renovating historically significant buildings and experience with rehabilitations of complex modern structures,” the OBO said in a statement. While in keeping with a modernist aesthetic, the building, completed in 1961, is also a nod to the Parthenon with its white columns and marble facade. Following the selection, the four firms will be expected to establish their technical teams and provide more detailed information on their work and experience for the next phase of consideration.