The concrete-wrapped National Veterans Memorial and Museum (NVMM) in Columbus, Ohio, is now complete and open to the public. Rather than a traditional museum focused solely on exhibitions, the NVMM was envisioned as a memorial to departed veterans, a place of education, and as a gathering place for civic and commemorative events. The NVMM, sited right on the banks of the Scioto River, integrates a contemplative OLIN-designed landscape with the Allied Works Architecture–designed two-story, 53,000-square-foot museum building. The round museum building features a distinctive cross-braced concrete facade over the main entrance—a motif repeated across the interior walls—which symbolically elevates a rooftop sanctuary plaza. The skyline of downtown Columbus looms over the sanctuary, but the plaza is meant to be for reflection, events, and ceremonies exclusively. The sanctuary, which resembles a sunken amphitheater ringed by greenspace, can be accessed from inside the museum, or by traveling up a sloping concrete ramp that wraps around the building. Inside, the museum’s exhibition spaces have been ringed around the perimeter of the building, affording plenty of natural light and views of the surrounding waterfront. Past the ground floor lobby, a great hall offers views of the city as well as a place for gatherings and other events. The NVMM’s programming, laid out by the creative agency Ralph Appelbaum Associates with the Veterans Advisory Committee, uses the museum’s circular structure to guide visitors through a storyline designed to connect them with veterans’ experiences. Films, sculptures, photos, and quotes from veterans are included throughout each phase of the story: leaving home, being in service, returning, and becoming a veteran. On the second floor, guests will find a remembrance gallery dedicated to veterans who have lost their lives and an entrance to the sanctuary plaza, connecting the building’s external structure to the internal features. Outside, OLIN has designed a walkable landscape around the museum, including a circular path leading to a similarly-round memorial grove at its core. The grove has been bounded by a stacked-stone wall and several waterfall fountains that feed an illuminated reflecting pool below. The design, development, and construction of the museum, as well as the push to have it designated as a national site, was led by the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation. The NVMM is the country’s first national veterans museum, and as the project grew in scope, it eventually grew to include narratives and artifacts from veterans across every branch of the military and every state.
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The Allied Works Architecture-designed National Veterans Memorial & Museum (NVMM) is rapidly rising on the shore of the Scioto River in downtown Columbus, Ohio, and is on track to open in July 2018. Allied Works’s design for the two-story, 53,000-square-foot memorial museum, a circular building with a glass curtain wall ensconced in a spiraling concrete superstructure, is the result of a closed 2013 design competition that included David Chipperfield and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The winning scheme includes a ramp that wraps around the edge of the building and up to a rooftop “sanctuary” plaza, while large concrete arches crisscrosses the museum’s exterior to symbolically elevate the sanctuary. The sanctuary will be exclusively for ceremonies, events, and reflection, and from renderings, it looks like the rooftop plaza will include amphitheater seating and look out into museum’s exhibition space. Inside, the museum’s programming will similarly follow the building’s curves, with exhibition galleries arranged in a ring. A double-height great hall will greet visitors at the entrance, while two floors of permanent exhibition space will be arranged in a central ring and provide access to the sanctuary from inside. “Thematic alcoves” will be scattered throughout the museum, each meant to evoke a specific emotion and relay the challenges faced by veterans. Landscape architect OLIN will be handling the surrounding greenery and have designed a memorial grove in the middle of a circular path near the museum. The grove will also contain a stone wall with a reflecting pool at the base. The museum’s development, design, and construction were led by the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation (CDDC). The group is also managing the exhibition curation, as well as raising approximately $80 million for the project. The NVMM, which claims to be the first national veterans museum, has set its sights on being part museum and part memorial, with veteran narratives being placed front and center. With only 1 percent of the population currently serving in the military, the museum's mission is to expose guests, who may not personally know a veteran, to the stories of servicemen and women, while also stimulating conversations around what it means to serve. While originally planned as the Ohio Veteran’s Museum, the scope was drastically expanded to include the stories of veterans from across the country, and from every branch and conflict. In November 2017, the House passed a bill officially designating the museum a national site, capping a years-long push by the NVMM for federal recognition.
2017 Best of Design Award for Digital Fabrication: Under Magnitude Designer: Marc Fornes / THEVERYMANY Location: Orlando, Florida Depending on the perspective of its visitors, the whimsical Under Magnitude calls upon different references from the known world; but any of its likenesses is pushed beyond its familiar scale. The two-story installation suspended in the atrium of Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center borrows and mismatches elements from biology, achieving a familiar yet mysterious quality—at once friendly and alien. The piece is in fact the sum of many constituent parts: A network of bulbous and bone-like branches comes together in a Y-shaped plan and reaches upward to form a shape reminiscent of a vault or a suction cup. The intricate, continuous surfaces of the 1-millimeter aluminum stripes are also structural. Knit into a unified system of columns and beams, a three-dimensional subspace comes together as a “shell from shells.” “The networked organic structure is fascinating in that it exemplifies the beauty and strength of non-linear design. It’s incredible that the aluminum panels interlock to become a massive suspended shell-structure. Fascinating exploration of the possibility of biophillic design.” —Emily Bauer, Landscape Architect, Bjarke Ingels Group (juror) Commissioned by: Orange County Convention Center Honorable Mention Project: Flotsam & Jetsam Architect: SHoP Architects Location: Miami Flotsam & Jetsam, the gateway to Design Miami 2016’s fair, found a permanent, public home in Miami’s Design District. The pavilions were 3-D printed in less than eight weeks by two project partners. The first used a proprietary method called Cellular Fabrication to print large-scale panels. The second harnessed polymer and bio-derived composites to print components—breaking new manufacturing ground. Honorable Mention Project: As We Are Designer: Matthew Mohr Studios Location: Columbus, Ohio As We Are addresses the relationship between self and representation of self. The 14-foot human head, made from ribbons of ultra-bright LED screens, includes a photo booth capable of taking 3-D pictures. Once a visitor has his or her picture taken, that person’s head is displayed on the visage.
The Columbus we know best is not in Indiana. But Kogonada’s eponymous feature film shifts our attention to a lesser-known Midwestern city in Indiana, one with a progressive reputation and a travel destination for architecture aficionados. Columbus introduces this exceptional city with its rich modernist heritage to a larger audience. Atypical in its blend of a documentary style and narrative, it was screened at Sundance to surprising critical success and presented at the prestigious BAM Cinefest. The debut film marks Kogonada’s transition from videographer to filmmaker. The impeccable framing and characteristic lingering shots reveal Kogonada’s deep involvement with the work of director Jasujiro Ozu, the subject of his unfinished dissertation. The long slow takes that heighten the dramatic presence of the characters and a meticulous attention to place and historical context suggest the influence Neorealist auteurs. With this cinematic foundation, Kogonada goes on to develop a hybrid approach to filmmaking. The result of his efforts is an indelible portrait of place. Indeed, we leave the theatre with a feeling we have been there, led through a small selection of modernist buildings on one of the official architectural tours. Unlike most cities, with their abandoned city centers, spotty pockets of skyscrapers, and suburban sprawl, Columbus has an astonishing number of ground-hugging public buildings and businesses, and the film explores the impact this architecture has on the city and its inhabitants. But Kogonada has a more ambitious and complex project in mind. The film is driven by a spare, somewhat improbable narrative. Jin, played by John Cho, is a translator stranded in the city while his semi-estranged father, a famous architectural historian, is hospitalized for a coma following a stroke. We witness his encounter with Casey, played by the highly lauded Haley Lu Richardson, a tour guide who has relinquished her studies to take care of her heroine-addicted mother. Casey leads Jin through the city, introducing him to her favorite buildings. She, an ardent supporter of her town’s rich architectural heritage, tries to convey how she is personally affected by the buildings. She describes the moment she first “saw” them and what they meant to her. Casey claims most people “don’t give a shit about architecture,” but Deborah Berke’s First Financial Bank speaks to her in a profound way. Are we to suppose that it offers a sense of order in her otherwise chaotic life? Can we then understand how modern architecture engenders that sense of stability in a complex world? Casey explains that Berke deploys a basic asymmetry, and then works to create “a delicate balance” among the parts. They discuss the merits of James Polshek’s claim that architecture is “responsible for healing,” as they stand before his bridge leading to the hospital. Two Saarinen churches elicit questions about religion and modern architecture. These and other issues constitute the conversations between the two characters as they meet and move through the city exploring the buildings. We observe them observing, we see what they see, and are invited to ponder the questions with them. To clarify and enrich our understanding of the modernist architecture, the camera sets up a kind of compare-and-contrast as it moves from the public buildings to the interiors of Casey’s modest, low-lit home where she resides with her mother. Close cropped shots of quotidian details conjure the claustrophobic, yet cozy environment in striking contrast with those of the lavish Edwardian Irwin Inn where Jin resides. “Not very modernist,” he claims, stating the obvious, yet at the time of the final renovation in 1910, it was praised for its modern use of electricity, telephone, intercom, and even a hydraulic elevator. We wander through lavish rooms pausing over the British oak furniture, silk lined walls, tiles from France and Wales, and explore the extravagant gardens in long takes as leaves on a single tree flutter in a gentle breeze. These images provide the backdrop for an asexual yet emotionally charged and intensely intimate friendship between the two as they recount their lives and struggles. The terse dialogue is punctuated by long silences as we await their self-realizations. But somehow, despite the careful structure and fine acting, the storyline of their relationship ultimately fails to move us. The architecture of the plot is revealed in the way that structural systems are deliberately exposed in some buildings. Perhaps this parallel was Kogonada’s intention? Ultimately, the contrivance of the plot lessens the transformative impact of the story. On the contrary, what moves us most is Elisha Christian’s cinematography. Each shot seems deliberate, designed to reveal the way buildings work. One watches indistinguishable figures moving through passageways in the distance while the actors converse in the foreground. A skateboarder surprises us as he glides across the screen only to disappear into the shadows through a hallway in the background. Perhaps the most powerful moments occur when Casey discovers that her mother has resumed lying to her. We see Casey, hidden in the dark, telephoning one of the cleaners working through the night, her red shirt punctuating the brightly lit office. This scene calls to mind Krzysztof Wodiczko’s projection piece at the Venice Biennale in 2009, in which he created a Venetian arcade along the interior walls of the exhibition space. Between each column was a scrim with what appeared to be shadows of the piazza beyond, rather like a camera obscura. Wodiczko conjured life in the streets, and we hear barely audible fragments of conversations coming from the invisible piazza. In contrast, what we see in Columbus is a single, solitary figure moving through stark, pristine spaces. The only sounds are those of the tete-a-tetes of our characters. What pervades this film is the silence of Edward Hopper’s paintings and a profound loneliness mediated by the promise of modern architecture.
Professor Todd Gannon has been appointed the section head of architecture at Ohio State University’s Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture. Gannon received both his undergraduate and graduate architecture degrees at the Knowlton School before going on to UCLA for his Ph.D. His academic studies focused on the history and theory of contemporary architecture in the late 20th century. “I am thrilled to return to Columbus and to rejoin the Knowlton School as architecture section head. Ohio State is one of the premier public universities in the country and the Knowlton School has long played a leading role in advancing both the discipline and the practice of architecture worldwide,” said Gannon in a statement. Last year, the Knowlton School of Architecture's MArch program ranked #25 in the U.S. according to Design Intelligence. US News & World Report ranked Ohio State as #16 in Top Public Schools this year. The previous section head, Professor Robert S. Livesey, served for four years before his retirement. Livesey has been a professor of architecture at the Knowlton School since 1983 and, since then, has held various leadership roles and received many teaching awards. He will help transition Gannon into his new role. “I look forward to building on the formidable achievements of my predecessor, Professor Robert Livesey,” Gannon continued, “and to working with Knowlton School students, faculty and staff to develop innovative, equitable, and sustainable strategies to meet architecture’s twin responsibilities to organize the built environment and to advance the public imagination.” Gannon was most recently at SCI-Arc where he taught history, theory, and design studio. He has several published works including The Light Construction Reader and Pendulum Plane/Oyler Wu Collaborative as well as two forthcoming books on architecture critic and historian Reyner Banham and unbuilt architecture in Southern California. At Knowlton, Gannon juried the graduate architecture Exit Review Prize and lectured at the 2014 Baumer Lecture Series.
Columbus, Ohio has been named the winner of the Department of Transportation’s $50 million “Smart City” grant. Columbus was up against San Francisco, Portland, Austin, Pittsburgh, and Denver for the prize. Each city was asked to demonstrate how new technologies can improve urban transportation. Columbus’s application was based on improving access to jobs for low-income residents with shared cars and autonomous buses. The proposal included multimodal phone apps, electric vehicle charging stations, self-driving buses, and $90 million in pledges from Columbus companies. The city will enact its plans over the next four years, and a non-profit board will oversee the allocation of funds https://youtu.be/mdkTlBtbYpcv Columbus plans to focus much of its prize money on the Linden neighborhood, an underserved part of the city. Linden has the worst access to jobs, medical services, and transit in all of Columbus. By providing new technologies and integrating other existing services, such as Uber and car sharing, the city hopes to increase resident’s access to amenities. The original $40 million DOT grant was increased by $10 million from Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen. Other cities have stated that they intend to continue to move forward with the plans they used to apply the grant. For instance, Kansas City is hoping to continue the public private partnerships developed during the competition. The DOT has also hinted at consolation prizes for the five other cities, but has not release details.
Sarah Morris: Points on a Line The Wexner Center 1871 North High Street Columbus, OH Through April 15 Points On A Line, a 2010 film by artist Sarah Morris, takes two iconic buildings as its central characters, Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House in Illinois and Philip Johnson’s Glass House in Connecticut (above). Commissioned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which owns both properties, the film is a meditation on the relationship between the buildings—Johnson, an acolyte of Mies and inspired by Farnsworth drawings, happened to complete his New Canaan house first—and the structures as they exist today. But it is the relationship of the architects themselves that becomes Morris’ narrative thread, serving as a springboard to explore their other architectural overlap: Johnson’s glamorized corporate interiors for the Four Seasons, the power-broker restaurant in the base of the Mies-designed Seagram building in Manhattan. Points on A Line underscores how our perception of a space is affected not just by its design but also its mythology.
Pipilotti Rist: The Tender Room Wexner Center for the Arts The Ohio State University 1871 North High St. Columbus, Ohio Through July 31 Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist makes her debut in Columbus with a new site-specific project drawn from the artist’s latest inspirations. The lush multimedia environment promises visitors a full-body experience, featuring kaleidoscopic colors, lulling soundtracks, and whimsical lighting, along with lounge chairs for taking in the sights and sounds. As usual, Rist takes a familiar starting point, such as the body, and plays with it (altering colors, speed, and sound) until it becomes unfamiliar and even fascinating. Drawing inspiration from her first feature-length film, Pepperminta (2009), Rist complicates the visitors’ environment, blurring the boundary between fantasy and reality. The exhibition also features Rist’s single-channel video Open My Glade (Flatten) (2000) outside the Wexner Center’s east entrance.