Posts tagged with "Buckminster Fuller":

Placeholder Alt Text

Buckminster Fuller’s rarely-seen works are coming to Los Angeles

This September, Edward Cella Art & Architecture will present R. Buckminster Fuller: Inventions and Models, an exhibition highlighting original prints, models, and other objects created by 20th century architect, engineer, inventor, and artist R. Buckminster Fuller  According to the gallery, the exhibition—the first of its kind in Los Angeles—will unveil models and drawings typically kept in private collections and will “represent an opportunity to reflect upon [Fuller’s] comprehensive perspective on the world and humanity.” Specifically, the showcase will focus on Fuller’s so-called “Inventions Portfolio,” a limited-edition print collection of pioneering design innovations that include the 4D House, the Dymaxion Car, and the Geodesic Dome, among many others. Fuller holds more than 30 patents on a wide range of inventions and products and is widely recognized as the inventor of the geodesic dome.   Other works on display will include: a series of wire and steel “tensegrity models” that express structural design principles via repeatable geometric elements, sculptural models depicting Fuller’s Closest Packing of Spheres and Duo-Tet Star Polyhedras concepts, and the Dymaxion Rowing Needle, a 21-foot dual hull rowing shell intended for use on choppy waters.  The exhibition, which opens September 8th, is being produced in collaboration with Carl Solway Gallery and will be supplemented by a series of public programs highlighting scholarship into Fuller's work. Programs include a presentation by Fuller’s design partner, architect Thomas T K Zung, and a discussion between Allegra Fuller Snyder, Fuller’s daughter and founder of the Buckminster Fuller Institute, and David McConville, the Institute’s chairperson.  See the Edward Cella Art & Architecture site for more details. 
Placeholder Alt Text

LinkNYC brings never-built megaprojects to the streets of New York

New Yorkers can catch a glimpse of a parallel universe this summer. LinkNYC, the Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications, AN contributor Sam Lubell, writer Greg Goldin, and publisher Metropolis Books have teamed up to bring images from Never Built New York to the city' streets via LinkNYC kiosks. The display of unbuilt megaprojects from some of the biggest names in architecture follows the release of the Never Built New York book in 2016, and the accompanying show at the Queens Museum last fall. The kiosks won't display the full array of weird and wild never-realized projects, but the curated images will still depict how New York could have grown into a very different city. Some of the work on display includes I.M. Pei’s proposal for the Hyperboloid, a 102-story tower proposed in 1954 that would have replaced Grand Central, and Robert Moses’s heavily contested Mid-Manhattan Expressway. Images of the Dodger Dome, an enclosed stadium designed by Buckminster Fuller meant to keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn, and Moshe Safdie’s tessellating Habitat New York (originally slated for the Upper East Side) have also been selected. LinkNYC will display images of each project on kiosks close to the location where they would have risen. LinkNYC’s 1,650 kiosks can be found all over the city following the program’s launch in 2016. The Never Built New York 'exhibition' follows a June show that presented historical New York City photos from the Museum of the City of New York’s ongoing Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs exhibition.
Placeholder Alt Text

Here are three great summer art shows for architecture lovers

For architecture enthusiasts with an artistic streak, there are a number of art exhibitions inspired by architecture and design on view across the U.S. Of course, there is Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams at MoMA, already announced in AN, along with gallery shows in New York and Los Angeles worthy of a visit, featuring drawing, sculpture, installation, animation, and more. Serban Ionescu: A Crowded Room and Serban Ionescu and Anjuli Rathod Artist Serban Ionescu, who previously studied architecture, presents an immersive installation of drawings, sculptures, and animations in A Crowded Room at New York’s Larrie. The title and work in part references his experience as an immigrant and his father’s 2006 deportation, while still creating a narrow space touched with color and levity. The animations were made in collaboration with Narek Gevorgian. Ionescu’s work is also part of a two-person exhibition at Safe Gallery in East Williamsburg along with paintings by Anjuli Rathod. Serban Ionescu: A Crowded Room Larrie 27 Orchard Street, New York, NY Through June 17 Serban Ionescu and Anjuli Rathod Safe Gallery 1004 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY Through July 15 Vernacular Environments, Part 2 Vernacular Environments, Part 2 is the second iteration of the now annual group show at Edward Cella Art and Architecture that explores the diverse ways artists figure and engage with the environment and built world. Featured artists include Shusaku Arakawa, R. Buckminster Fuller, Rema Ghuloum, Hans Hollein, Jill Magid, Alison O’Daniel, Aili Schmeltz, Paolo Soleri, and Lebbeus Woods, working across a wide array of media. Ruth Pastine has created “Color Zones” to engage with both the architecture figured in the artwork, as well as the architecture of the space itself. Vernacular Environments, Part 2 Edward Cella Art and Architecture 2754 S. La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA Through July 14th Escher: The Exhibition and Experience Taking up a large swath of Industry City in Sunset Park is a retrospective of the eminent Dutch artist M.C. Escher, whose vertiginous drawings are rich with architectural references. Not relegated merely to lithographs, drawings, or other two-dimensional forms, the exhibition, presented by Italian organization Arthemisia,also features installations that place you in the midst of the artist’s illusionary drawings and disorienting spaces. Escher: The Exhibition and Experience Industry City 34 34th Street, Building 6, Brooklyn, NY Through February 3, 2019
Placeholder Alt Text

Remembering Jay Baldwin, experimental geodesic dome champion

May 12, 2013 Penngrove, California Drive north through Marin County, past Petaluma on Route 101, exit onto Railroad Avenue and right onto Old Redwood Highway. Small farm lots, old barns and sheds, prickle hedges and honeysuckle. “It’s not a commune,” says Jay Baldwin, coming out to greet us, but it is a shining hill that rises to the west from Penngrove Valley with seven tiers of chicken coops restored by old hippies and student squatters. Jay and his wife, Liz Fial, have been here longer than anyone else, since 1963. “Is it possible?” he asks himself, counting backward on the fingers of one hand. “Same year that Kennedy got shot, two months earlier,” he says, describing how he moved out from Michigan, driving 2,370 miles from Ann Arbor, through Denver, breaking down outside of Salt Lake City, while carrying all of his worldly possessions in the back of a ‘56 Chevy. Their domesticated coop has a low sloping ceiling, but it’s attached to a larger barn where Jay stores all of his experiments. Old wood planks are nailed vertically, board and batten, weathered and dark, as if oiled and smoked for years over a slow-burn fire. There’s a configuration of short two-by-fours beveled and nailed onto one wall in a radiating asterisk shape with elk antlers hanging from the center, sacred animal vibe, wild roses and ancient Ford, rusted out. Jay and Liz did all the work themselves, and they manage to live on $8,000 a year, happy and fine and low-impact. We eat a lunch of fresh berries, homegrown lettuce, cucumbers, cheese, and lemonade, while Baldwin tells me about his association with Buckminster Fuller, how he first met him in Ann Arbor, after one of Bucky’s all-night, epic lectures that started at 7 p.m. and went till dawn the next morning. They met up again in the fall of 1969 when Bucky came to visit Pacific High School, a free-form hippie school in the Santa Cruz Mountains where Baldwin and his fellow dome-head, Lloyd Kahn, were teaching students how to build domes. Together, they fabricated as many as 17 different versions of Bucky’s geodesic prototype, and one of the most experimental variations was Baldwin’s “Pillow Dome” that was made from clear vinyl pillows inflated with hydrogen. (The vinyl pillows were fabricated by a company in San Francisco that made inflatable female dolls for porn shops.) Bucky liked it so much that he lay down and took an hour-long nap inside the 20-foot-diameter structure. When he awoke, he asked Baldwin to build one on the Fuller family island in Maine. Baldwin said yes, if Bucky would pay for all the material expenses. “He said OK and wrote us a check,” Baldwin says, who prefabricated all the parts at his barn in Penngrove and then packed them into the back of his trusty ’67 Citroën DS wagon and drove from California all the way to Camden, Maine—about 3,300 miles—only stopping in Carbondale, Illinois, to help a friend make a ferroconcrete sailboat. “We were on Bear Island for about a week, living in one of the old barns,” recalled Baldwin. “There was an ancient pool table in there, and we shot pool by candlelight on the greatly slanted table, a challenge. It all went well, though Kathleen [Whitacre] and I were held in obvious low esteem by the New Englanders, probably because we weren’t married.” August 27, 2013 Bear Island, Maine A few months after seeing Baldwin at his house in Penngrove, I make it out to Bear Island, Bucky’s wind-swept, family island in Penobscot Bay, and although I know that one of Baldwin’s domes might still be lying in ruin, somewhere on the island, I’m taken aback when I see it there because I didn’t think it would be positioned so prominently on that first foggy march up from the harbor, up the hill, just past the Eating House, on the way to the Big House, emerging like a specter from a wafting plume of mist, silvery white against a backdrop of deep pine-tree shadows. I’m stunned by its simple, geometric beauty, an unexpected surprise, a hidden gem, and I hold back from looking too closely on this, my first pass, because I want to save it for later when I will return, alone and with my camera, to inspect the structure from all possible angles, inside and out. This is what I do an hour after my arrival, because I don’t want to lose the milky light and mysterious veils of mist, but by the time I return to the site, the light has dissolved into a dull pewter matte and the wind has kicked up to blow all the fog away. Once he’d transported all the parts from the mainland to the island on a lobster boat, Baldwin assembled the Pillow Dome on an old tennis court using three-fourths-inch EMT electrical tubing “because it’s galvanized inside and out,” and filled each opening with a 15-milliliter triangular pillow. It took them about a week to complete the dome, only because of so many distractions, including Bucky himself, who would frequently come by to check on their progress and talk for hours, or insist that they go sailing for the rest of the day. Late one evening, everyone sat beneath the struts of the unfinished dome and waited for a lunar eclipse, but when Fuller’s sister rushed down from the Big House to announce its arrival and said: “Brother, the eclipse is coming up from the bottom!” Fuller snapped back: “The moon doesn’t have any UP, stupid!” Everyone laughed except for Baldwin who felt bad about making Bucky’s sister the brunt of the joke. I walk around the ruins of the Pillow Dome. The vinyl “pillows” disintegrated a long time ago, but the thing itself, the main structure, the galvanized geodesic skeleton, struts, connectors, and bolts, are in surprisingly good shape considering it’s a 43-year-old artifact left to endure the salt air and brutal winters of coastal Maine. Even the star-shaped skylight at the top of the dome is still intact, and you can see how it was hinged around the edges so that the top panels could be flipped open for ventilation. There’s no sense of a roof pressing down, or of walls closing in. It is more of a floating, bubble-like sensation, and reminds me of Fuller’s enormous “Biosphere” that I visited the years before, in Montreal. It felt like a future that hadn’t happened yet, or at the least, a future that hadn’t been fully digested. The tetrahedral poetics of the geosphere, now black and naked, stripped clean of its original acrylic shell, manifested itself as an alternate sky—if that makes any sense—and there was something about looking through its prism-like veil that made the oddly pixelated horizon seem infinitely small. After his experiment on Bear Island, Baldwin worked with John Todd of the New Alchemy Institute on Cape Cod, and together they fabricated a larger version of the Pillow Dome, skinned with Tefzel, an ETFE fluoropolymer resin made by DuPont.
Placeholder Alt Text

Geodesic dome pioneer Jay Baldwin passes away at 85

Pioneering environmental architect and industrial designer James Tennant Baldwin has passed away. The 85-year-old architect often went by the name of Jay and is well-known for his pioneering research in the realm of geodesic dome design and for work inspired by the research of Buckminster Fuller. An avid inventor and tinker, Baldwin leaves a legacy of non-stop experimentation and inquiry that includes pursuing innovative social ideals, developing advanced and sustainable construction systems, and interrogating new technologies. Baldwin is perhaps best known as the inventor of the so-called “pillow dome,” a modular metal tube structural system filled-in with ETFE panels. Early in his career, Baldwin pioneered solar geothermal and sustainable technologies and is among the earliest adopters of nascent sustainable approaches to design and building. Baldwin was born in 1933 and attended the University of Michigan in 1951, where he studied automobile design. As a young student, Baldwin once witnessed Fuller lecture for 14 hours straight; the episode inspired Baldwin to study under and eventually work for Fuller before graduating. After graduating in 1955, Baldwin worked for Bill Moss Associates, designing advanced camping gear. During the 1960s, Baldwin was a visiting lecturer at Southern Illinois University and the design editor of the Whole Earth Catalog. Baldwin was later employed in the California state government under the first Jerry Brown administration in 1975, serving in the California Office of Appropriate Technology. In the 1990s, Baldwin wrote a book about Buckminster Fuller’s work and legacy titled Bucky Works: Buckminster Fuller's Ideas for Today. Baldwin—a life-long educator—taught at the variety of educational institutions including California College of the Arts in San Francisco, University of San Francisco, the San Francisco Institute of Architecture, and Sonoma State University. In a statement, CCA president Stephen Beal said,
"I am privileged and proud to say that Jay was a part of our CCA community for over 20 years, inspiring generations of CCA students beginning in 1995 and continuing through his recent retirement in 2016. From his groundbreaking work in sustainable design, to his contagious spirit and undying passion for the field, Jay was a remarkable human being. It was truly an honor to have known him and to know that our students had the chance to learn from him."
   
Placeholder Alt Text

Amazon’s Seattle spheres are set for public opening

Amazon’s triple-domed Spheres in downtown Seattle will be partially open to the public beginning January 30th. The enormous glass bubbles, designed by NBBJ as part of Amazon’s sprawling urban campus, were first approved in 2013. The glass and steel domes vary in size, with the largest bubble spanning 130 feet in diameter and topping out at 95 feet tall. All three Buckminster Fuller-emulating domes are linked, forming a biomorphic greenhouse with 65,000 square feet of workspace and conference areas for Amazon employees. Instead of aping its namesake, the Amazon Spheres have selected plants from a wide variety of sources. The Seattle Times recently toured the Spheres, and gave a rundown of the gardens and 400 plant varieties, within. The garden in the Seventh Avenue sphere holds New World plants mainly from Central and South America, though a 40-year-old Port Jackson fig tree, so large that it had to be craned in, is clearly the centerpiece. An Old World garden grows inside of the Sixth Avenue sphere, where guests and employees will see plants from Africa and Southeast Asia, alongside an entrance-adjacent, 60-foot-tall living wall, and tank filled with aquatic plants and animals from the Amazon. Amazon’s horticulturists have curated a range of plants that could survive alongside the Spheres’ human occupants comfortably. During the day, the spheres will be kept at 72 degrees and 60 percent humidity, which will drop to 55 degrees and 85 percent humidity at night. All of the plants were grown to maturation in a 40,000-square-foot greenhouse offsite and transplanted, beginning on May 1st of last year. Designing offices and meeting spaces alongside climate controls for hundreds of different plant species was no easy task for NBBJ. Fake logs and stumps circulate air from piping within, while the Spheres are warmed in part by excess heat generated from a data center nearby. More details on which companies will be filling the two public retail spaces at ground level are forthcoming. (This is not the first time NBBJ has ventured into novelty office design). Members of the general public can place a reservation to visit the Spheres here, though be warned; the Seattle Times is reporting that 20,000 guests already have the tour booked solidly through April.
Placeholder Alt Text

NASA’s bold space habitats inspired a generation of designers

This is an excerpt from a forthcoming book, Space Settlements, about the architectural, historical, social, and science-fictional contexts surrounding NASA’s efforts to design large-scale human habitats in orbit during the 1970s. Space Settlements will be published by Columbia Books on Architecture and the City in fall 2018. In 1975, Big Science and the counterculture teamed up with two illustrators to design the cities of the future. But, unlike the communes and megastructures that we’re familiar with from the speculative architecture of that era, these would not be located on Earth. Stewart Brand, the publisher of the Whole Earth Catalog, and engineers at the NASA Ames Research Center both supported a project—first proposed by Princeton physicist Gerard O’Neill—to build huge habitats in orbit that would house millions of people. At a Summer Study conference in what was even then known as Silicon Valley, NASA and O’Neill hired painters Don Davis and Rick Guidice to create renderings of these new worlds. Most previous plans for space stations had consisted of a disconnected series of capsules or chambers. The Summer Study habitats were large enough that they were effectively new ground surfaces, spun for artificial gravity, on which any kind of city or landscape could be constructed. NASA’s team architect Patrick Hill—of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo—specified that, in order to achieve maximum efficiency and space-saving, the buildings inside should be made from systems of prefabricated parts that could be assembled quickly, offering variety and adaptability. Beyond these constraints, the two illustrators had broad latitude to design the architecture that would be shown in the renderings. Both drew on their unique combinations of backgrounds to offer their own interpretation of the future of space occupation. Davis was originally an illustrator for planetary scientists like Carl Sagan, and had also worked on book covers for science fiction novels like Larry Niven’s Ringworld of 1970, depicting a habitat design concept not unlike the “Stanford Torus” sketched by O’Neill’s team. Davis focused on the landscape, and the challenges of creating planetary ecosystems within small closed worlds. Human inhabitation, in Davis’s paintings, touches the artificial ground lightly. To depict it, Davis drew on his fondness for Buckminster Fuller’s domes and other self-built architecture like the “Zomes” made by Steve Baer at the famous Drop City commune. Davis would have been familiar with this work as a reader of Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog, which included Baer’s “Zome Primer,” an instruction manual for building these structures out of repurposed car hoods. Other buildings painted by Davis are more reminiscent of the kind of Googie architecture related to an earlier generation of pop science fiction painters like Frank R. Paul. In an interview, Davis also admitted he would go to the library and read copies of Progressive Architecture magazine for inspiration. Guidice, on the other hand, had been trained as an architect, and had made the shift from there to commercial illustration and work promoting space exploration and aviation concepts for NASA. Guidice’s paintings take the kit-of-parts concepts from work like Moshe Safdie’s Habitat 67, and remix them to create even more individuality. Reyner Banham wrote about the concept of the “Terrassenhaus,” the scheme of terracing trays that megastructural projects use to shape space, in his book Megastructure: Urban Futures of the Recent Past. Safdie used the resulting platforms as the basis for his notion of “for everyone, a garden,” combining high-rise density with a suburban Garden City ethos. In Guidice’s renderings the friendly modernist Garden Cities like Columbia, outside Baltimore, take their comfortable combination of vernacular and contemporary into new high-density suburbs in space. These speculations strike a compromised balance between the displacing conditions in space—like the unfamiliar inverted horizon, the hostile environment outside, and the small size of the habitat—and the excitement inherent in exploring and making new worlds. The speculative contemporary architecture of the 1960s and ’70s—small-scale personal construction with sheet metal, and large-scale New Towns made of reinforced concrete—is put to use to show that space is for you. The two illustrators, acting as designers, show that the architecture of the future space city can be adapted to your lifestyle, whether you’re a dropout desert communalist, or a cosmopolitan terrace urbanite. Fred Scharmen teaches architecture and urban design at Morgan State University and is the author of the upcoming book Space Settlements.
Placeholder Alt Text

BSA Space’s new exhibition explores the past, present, and future of inflatable architecture

Boston's BSA Space is exploring the evolution of inflatables at its newest exhibit, The New Inflatable Moment, on display through September. The exhibition was inspired by The Inflatable Moment: Pneumatics and Protest in ’68, a 1998 book and exhibition by Marc Dessauce and The Architectural League of New York, which explored the relationship between inflatable technology and utopia. “With this exhibition, we revisit the moment of the 1960s explored by Dessauce to suggest that utopian thought is re-emerging today in architecture and art as evidenced by projects involving inflatables,” said curators Mary Hale and Katazyrna Balug in the exhibit description. From the advent of the hot air balloon to the studies of inflatable houses on Mars, the evolution of inflatable structures will be displayed in an interactive timeline created by Boston-based design agency Certain Measures. The timeline provides context for the different projects on display, showing them adjacent to corresponding sociopolitical moments in history. A series of installations, photos, videos, and models will also populate the exhibit, depicting the ways inflatables have embodied the radical and experimental thinking of architects and artists throughout history. Work by the likes of Buckminster Fuller, Ant Farm, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and many others, will explore the experimental designs of this bubble-like architecture as well as the advancements in technology that are pushing inflatables into the future, and into space. “The exhibition reveals some of the most visionary architectural minds working with new methods of display and communication,” said Laura Wernick, chair of the BSA Foundation, on the exhibit’s web page. “Its premiere at BSA space will empower designers to similarly think and work in new ways to create a better future and motivate the general public to believe in it.” An opening reception for the exhibit will be held on Wednesday, May 17 at 6 p.m. The exhibition is currently open and runs through September 3, 2017. For more information about the exhibit please visit the BSA Space website here.
Placeholder Alt Text

Buckminster Fuller’s 50-foot “Fly’s Eye” is coming to Crystal Bridges

This summer, a 50-foot-wide 61-eye version of Buckminster Fuller's Fly's Eye Dome will be moved to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Known for his geodesic conceptions, Fuller designed the Fly’s Eye Dome in 1965 and produced three patented domes of different sizes by 1983. The 50-foot Monohex dome, made from glass and fiberglass, was the largest of the trio (the others spanned 12 feet and 24 feet in diameter by comparison) and was last exhibited at the Festival International d'Art in Toulouse, France, in 2013.
At the Crystal Bridges museum, the dome will sit on a lawn alongside a 1950s residence designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Here, the structure will be nestled among trees and greenery as part of a sculpture garden close to a new entrance the museum is constructing. Fuller based his design on the eye of a fly and had visions of the geodesic design transforming the way we approach housing. The idea though never took off and now remains as a symbol of the utopian approach to design that typified the era.
R. Buckminster Fuller, Fly’s Eye Dome, 1961, fabricated ca. 1980. Fiberglass-reinforced polyester 38 x 50 x 50 feet. (Courtesy of Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller)
"It is shocking and people are going to go, 'What is that?'" said Curatorial Assistant at Crystal Bridges, Dylan Turk speaking to the AP. "Hopefully they'll go out there and want to know what it is." The dome features 61 "oculi" that tessellate among the mostly triangular geodesic framework. "We have an actual piece of paper where he had a picture of a fly that he had found in a newspaper in the '60s," Turk continued. "He saw it and thought, 'The structure of this fly's eye could become one of my type of domes.' He was literally looking at a fly's eye." Turk added that Fuller "wanted to use the lightest materials possible because it costs the least to ship and uses less energy to build... Fiberglass is strong and cheap." The dome will be installed in the summer of 2017.
Placeholder Alt Text

A new book explores Albers, Cage, Fuller, and the making of Black Mountain College

In The Experimenters: Chance and Design at Black Mountain College, Eva Diaz describes the discordant yet equally hermetic teaching methodologies of Joseph Albers, John Cage, and R. Buckminister Fuller that were developed during the years immediately following World War II at Black Mountain College. The “unaccredited college in rural Appalachia became a vital hub of cultural innovation” and was known primarily for artistic experimentation and its holistic aim “to educate a student as a person and a citizen.” It had a major impact on what would become contemporary artistic practice during and after the mid-1940s and early 1950s. Located in western North Carolina, the college’s history presents a dynamic narrative of radical innovation in terms of educational philosophy. In addition to Albers, Cage, and Fuller, other famous participants include Merce Cunningham, Clement Greenberg, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, and Robert Motherwell. Among many prominent students, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, and Kenneth Noland contributed to the college’s reputation for free experimentation and artistic diversity. While Diaz is clear in her estimation that this study of “rival methodologies” as practiced by Albers, Cage, and Fuller help to uncover three of the most “clearly articulated positions” of this period at Black Mountain, it remains questionable as to whether or not this clarity has embedded within it a sense of priority. Based on Diaz’s expertly layered representations of the three methodologies, Albers could be thought of as the composite of Cage and Fuller, though Albers is by no means limited in his vision of the “mutability of perception.” There are many similarities among these men, and Diaz’s instinct to place the comparison within the context or theme of experimentation and even process to an extent makes a lot of sense. It is the suggested nuances of approach that challenge the clarity of the three positions. As Diaz points out, all three subjects are invested in new perceptual strategies and their formal implications, progressing culture, exploring the dynamics of habit or pattern in order to break them, ethics, degrees of order and disorder within a clearly defined testing ground, and in some instances, “total thinking.” In spite of this, it is Albers who seemingly holds his institutional role and investment in a codified educational program most sacred. This is reflected in Rauschenberg’s sentiments, included by Diaz, in an interview years after he studied with Albers: "I’m still learning what he taught me, because what he taught me had to do with the entire visual world." One of the most interesting parts of the book is Albers’s response to Rauschenberg’s comments from the interview, which has a lot to say about the striking similarities between Cage and Albers that are far from obvious. Albers responds to the comments in terms of the “combination,” and the changing of surface qualities in Rauschenberg’s work. He admits that the study of the “changing of articulation” was very exciting, and he recognizes this in Rauschenberg’s vocabulary. It validates Albers’s influence on the painter while suggesting a subtle alliance with Cage—if one associates Rauschenberg with Cage. Diaz’s multi-layered analysis allows one to locate a multiplicity of such connections and in turn form a personal relationship with the text is on a level of self-illuminated analysis. This ability to discover counterintuitive connections or hidden alliances, call it a richness, is not obvious in Diaz’s agenda, but is among the author’s greatest gifts to the reader. Secondary to this, her digressions, which in the chapter on Cage seem most interesting and include analysis of Cage’s appropriation of Erik Satie’s The Ruse of Medusa (which signified a major departure from the methodical theatrical events at Black Mountain influenced by the Bauhaus productions of the 1920s) and significant discussion of Antonin Artaud’s influence on Cage in the context of the French dramatist’s seminal collection of essays, The Theater and its Double, are most enticing. Whether one buys into the surface rivalry between the Albersian project with that of the explorations of Cage and Fuller or locates secret alliances among the hermetic camps that suggest some similarity between Albers’s color studies and Fuller’s geodesic domes, it is clear that the tensions at Black Mountain relate a parallel narrative concerning the Bauhaus and its relationship to experimental art, which in the end, Diaz describes as “porous.” The epilogue, though somewhat brief in comparison to the cultivated chapters on Albers, Cage, and Fuller, describes the trinity’s influence on movements that follow quite succinctly. Though this investigation by Diaz could have benefited by the inclusion of more student work to support the clarity of the three positions, The Experimenters: Chance and Design at Black Mountain College presents a nonetheless moving account of an alternative to expressionism that is synonymous with this very exciting period of divergence at the university before its doors closed in 1957.
Placeholder Alt Text

How art and architecture hit the water in the 1960s and beyond

In 2005, a group of Brooklyn artists working under a loose collaborative called “Bruce High Quality Foundation” (BHQF) fashioned a small boat with a single replica of one of Christo and Jean-Claude’s bright orange post-and-lintel Central Park “gates.” They then motored around Manhattan, orange gate fabric flapping in the wind, as they chased another large-scale work of art: Robert Smithson’s Floating Island to Travel Around Manhattan, which the artist had conceived 35 years earlier, but was realized posthumously in 2005. Here, Smithson recasts Central Park as a detached, unreachable fragment of the city, floating counterintuitively around the island that keeps it landlocked. The reformation of Central Park as an island reframes not only the natural environment of the park but also its relationship to the city, and the city itself. This absurdist scenario—a small motorboat trailing a landscaped barge behind a tugboat—is the jumping off point of the catalogue for Andrea Grover’s Radical Seafaring, which recently closed at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, NY. Grover told The Architect's Newspaper (AN) that she was “born to curate this show,” because “my father started out as a commercial fisherman in the late 1930s and then ran a marina for 50-plus years. My mother was a painter and a sculptor. The two sensibilities merged in my childhood. In 1985 my father crossed the North Atlantic in an outboard-powered boat of his own design, and my mother helped him create some of the safety features that helped him survive the nearly 3,000-mile journey.” The catalogue is a gorgeous silver edition that, like the BHQF’s affection for Smithson, connects the radical water-based art and architecture of the 1960s and 70s with today’s contemporary seafarers. It shows the works indexically, with accompanying essays that elucidate the four categories:

Exploration (the quest for new experiences, the ineffable, and living in an exhilarated state), Liberation (self-reliance, freedom from terrestrial social contracts, the desire to shape one’s world, and utopian (impulses), Fieldwork (hands-on, methodological intelligence gathering about the environment, such as an artist laboratory at sea), and Speculation (waterways as a tabula rasa on which other realities can be built).

Within these headers is a collection of architectural works that have taken maritime themes, from large-scale housing projects to a structure that would facilitate humans' diplomatic relations with marine life. Conceptually, the show has a range of connections to architecture. All of the categories deal with the sea as a new territory where we can redefine ourselves and how we relate to one another and nature. It is not only defined by a different ground plane (water), but also by a different set of rules due its extra-legal, non-sovereign state. Once outside of the limits of “the law of the land,” new possibilities arise from this tabula rasa condition. Dutch studio Atelier van Lieshout (AVL) built a floating abortion clinic for Women on Waves, a Dutch health nonprofit that provides reproductive health services to women in countries with restrictive laws. A-Portable was a gynecological unit that helped women from Ireland, Morocco, Poland, Portugal, and Spain. The Brooklyn collective Mare Liberum takes its name from the 1609 treatise by Dutch jurist and philosopher Hugo Grotius that described the sea as “one of the last free spaces in this densely occupied urban landscape.” The artists channel Grotius as they work to explore and inhabit New York City’s waterways and waterfronts, the last open spaces where the artists feel they can be marginal and ambiguously outside of civilization. An essay by Dylan Gauthier, a founding member of Mare Liberum, can be found in the front of the book and elucidates how the collective’s two-year occupation of a yacht on the Gowanus Canal was possible due to ambiguous law and overlapping bureaucracies. The group is experimenting with new territories and space-making outside of the traditional realm of architecture or urbanism. Mare Liberum’s work also provokes new ways of living, as does Buckminster Fuller’s proposal for Triton City in Baltimore, where large housing blocks would be built on autonomous ships, and anchored in the ground. The 100,000 units were stacked like blocks within a large superstructure. If this sounds like Metabolism, it is because Fuller and Japanese architect Shoji Sadao originally designed the project for Tokyo Bay, typical of other water-based architectures of the 1950s and 1960s in Japan. When its client died, the team was commissioned by HUD and President Lyndon Johnson. It never was realized, despite being verified by the U.S. Navy as fit for building. The model is now on view at the Johnson Presidential Library. Building out onto the water is a popular proposal these days, as Diller’s Island in New York and the Garden Bridge in London compete for most controversial territory. Also projecting new forms of interaction is Ant Farm’s Dolphin Embassy. The speculative underwater diplomatic center was conceived for exploring interspecies communication. This dolphin research platform DOLØN EMB 1 took multiple iterations, as it grew from a simple catamaran-like vessel to a futuristic, technology-driven vessel called Oceania. While the group published numerous articles and received grants for the research, the project was abandoned when they broke up in 1978. The architectural works in the show fit in well, as they are the spatial manifestation of the pioneering and experimental attitude of the whole exhibition. The works by Pedro Reyes, Mary Mattingly, and Dennis Oppenheim could easily have been included in an architectural survey, because of the territorial and social implications of the art that blur the distinctions between architecture and performance. In a way, getting in a boat is an architectural act and a performance at the same time. This speaks to not only the breadth of the Radical Seafaring catalogue but also to its aesthetic and conceptual clarity.
Placeholder Alt Text

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center to open inaugural exhibition in new gallery

Beginning on July 1, the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center (BMCM+AC) will host Randy Shull/Wide Open: Architecture and Design at Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, an exhibition that marks the completed renovation and expansion of the BMCM+AC, located in Asheville, North Carolina. Phase One of the project, led by artist and designer Randy Shull and J. Richard Gruber, PhD, Director of the newly launched Architecture + Design Institute (A+D@BMCM+AC), spanned from 2014 to 2015. The museum re-opened on January 30, 2015, following a renovation of its original site, at 56 Broadway Street, along with an addition. The addition created retail space, a gallery, and a BMC library and study center. The conversion of a property across from the museum, 67 Broadway Street, comprises Phase Two, which began last year. This 2,400-square-foot space will host exhibitions, performances, and public programs as well as house offices and storage space for BMC work when it opens on July 1, 2016. The exhibition celebrates “the enduring legacy of Black Mountain College (BMC, 1933-57) through the lens of its architecture and design program and the influential innovators who taught there,” notably: Josef Albers, a Bauhaus master who transformed the institution as a teacher; his wife and artist, Anni; and Buckminster Fuller. Shull’s custom-made furniture and exhibition displays were inspired by Albers and some of its components are permanently integrated into the space: graphic panels, hand-built furniture, and a customized pegboard display system. Also featured are photographs of Shull's work that as it relates to BMC. Asheville-based Susan Rhew Design collaborated with Gruber and Shull to develop a clear identity for the museum, Randy Shull/Wide Open, and other related materials. Dr. Gruber praised Shall's work, stating: “The new gallery space Randy created is eloquently synced with the original site across the street, the educational and artistic mission of BMCM+AC, and the spirit of innovation and experimentation that was a BMC hallmark. Like the Bauhaus masters who taught at BMC, he has blurred the lines between art, architecture, design, and traditional notions of craft." The exhibition will be open until September 3.