Posts tagged with "Italy":

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Peter Lang on Cristiano Toraldo di Francia's 'incredible love'

Cristiano Toraldo di Francia sadly passed away on July 30. Cofounder, along with Adolfo Natalini, of the Florentine Radical design and architecture group Superstudio, Cristiano was the kind of person who was incredibly open-minded, shared a sharp sense of humor, and professed a deep love for humanity. While accolades spread across the internet following news of his passing, there was a lot to Cristiano that didn’t make it into these postings, tributes, and memorials. What might have been most lacking in all these accounts was the way he shrugged off fame and shunned formality. Yet he never wasted a moment, had infinite stamina, and to stick by him you needed to react fast and move quickly. Cristiano was a perceptive and ever-present photographer, and it is thanks to him that so many historical moments during their superlative adventure were captured for posterity. When I asked him about how he got into photography, he spoke about his father, Giuliano, who was a renowned physicist, recounting an odd story about how he was introduced to his first photo-camera. As Cristiano told me, in an interview at his house in Filottrano back in 2005, his father “…designed lenses for Ducati, at that time they made electronics—now they´re making motorcycles. They made cameras, radios. And they made a micro-camera, which anticipated the cameras of today, instead of the normal 35 mm film --24x36mm, they were using 24x18mm film, so it was fantastic. Italy was poor at the time, everything had to be reduced! Cristiano couldn’t help make a quip about the States, and while proudly acknowledging that Italian technology was inventing incredible things that were “almost too advanced for their time,” in America “everything was big—big cameras, big cars. But that camera was a jewel... Just to say that since I was a child I was initiated to the mysteries of photography—the images coming out of the acids, of the paper.” Probing further, I asked Cristiano what his relationship was to the burgeoning Florentine fashion industry in the early sixties when he was a professional photographer. “I was making family portraits at the time to raise money. In Florence, there is a big tradition around the Alinari family that besides all the city portraits,” now in the Alinari Archive in Florence, “they shot a lot of family portraits, but these were like paintings, all retouched, like Photoshop. “They were perfect photographers- so this tradition was present. I was trying to do a very different kind of photography. I looked more to the American model. A journalistic kind of picture, Diane Arbus... Not so much Man Ray or the historical ones.I became quite successful at the time. All these noble mothers came to make photos in my studio. After a while, I was asked to do fashion photography, but after a while, Superstudio started and I quit. But of course, I had all the contacts and all the people- I was friends with Oliviero Toscani for example,” who would go on to make the controversial photographic campaigns for Bennetton. With his usual irony, Cristiano pointed out that he also worked as a fashion model, for the kind of magazines that were constantly referencing architecture. It’s hard not to talk about the origins of the Italian Radical movement without getting into influences, of which there were many: “We started…” as Cristiano clarified in that same interview, “…on parallel levels, looking at Archigram, but even more we looked back at Dada and then to Pop-art that was bringing the Dada methods up to date. Fluxus—breaking boundaries and being completely interdisciplinary, fluctuating from one activity to the other. But on the other hand, Archigram had this political information as background—for which we could say maybe we were more idealistic than them. They were more pragmatic, more Anglo-Saxon.” Dan Graham connected his generation to Rock and Roll, and given the times, it is clear that music played a considerable role for Cristiano. When I spoke to Cristiano about music when we met in December of 2002, he had this to say: “When I talk about the importance of music, we don’t deny having discovered a person like Bob Dylan, or the Beatles, it was a time when popular music reached great artistic levels, Laurie Anderson, the whole group of Fluxus, back then there was a system of self-propulsion, in every field…” What is critical in understanding Superstudio is precisely this level of mixing passions that the art and architecture curator Lara Vinca Masini referred to as “contaminations.” Cristiano stabbed at this point by bringing in Aldo Rossi: “Yes the work of Rossi and others was interesting, but it was always inside a discipline with few confrontations with the world that went much faster than their own reasoning.” Getting back to the Florentine music scene, Cristiano credited his father with exposing him to experimental music when he was beginning university. In a conversation I had with him in 2005, Cristiano remarked: “My father was a scientist, and as a scientist he was traveling a lot and, in a way, disillusioned and relativistic. He was asked in 1963 to become president of the young contemporary music association. One of those members was Sylvano Bussotti,” a Florentine native, musical polyglot and noted dandy. “One was Giuseppe Chiari,” the atonal musician, close to John Cage and a member of Fluxus, “and the other was Pietro Grossi,” a Venetian electronic musician and composer living in Florence. “I remember they were making concerts of electronic music, and one concert was in the Conservatorio di Musica Cherubini which is a traditional music conservatory. And after 10 minutes of this music people went crazy.” Evidently, for this generation of young architects living in Florence in the sixties, these were incredibly stimulating years. Superstudio detoured around the traditional tools of the architect, experimenting with alternative forms of expression and representation. When Emilio Ambasz showed up in Florence around 1971, scouting for ideas for the upcoming exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape for MoMA, the young curator was seeking out experimental “environments.” These would be full-scale prototypes for living, accompanied by films serving as animated captions. Yet I wanted to know just how Superstudio produced this project, what kind of technology was used to build this elaborate environment and how did they create their 12-minute film Supersurface. The main backer for the environment was the manufacturer Print but they also had to procure other funders, due to the elevated expenses. According to Cristiano, they found the supplies they needed in Florence, the special reflective glass and the electronic components key to simulate alternating moods of day and night inside the environment. It took 15 days to manually assemble it before the show opened in New York on May 26th, 1972. The movie was instead made during the winter of 1971- 72 and it was filmed in 36 mm. “I worked on that with Sandro Poli,” the Superstudio member officially present between 1970 and 1972, “we found the music, made the soundtrack, with the professional help of a guy who made advertising for TV (Marchi Producers), who had that mentality, and in fact, we wanted it to be projected as if it would be an advertisement for the Supersurface. The first part presents in a scientific way how the thing is done, and the second one tells how happy you will be living there.” In fact, both making the environment and directing the animated film were very labor-intensive hands-on processes. I asked Cristiano what role the Italian manufacturers had in producing Superstudio’s concepts. Cristiano’s response was that these factories were mostly made up of artisans. “That is why we managed to make a series of objects from very different things and from really different materials. Most of these objects are coming out of a kind of bricolage. The factory made almost nothing—we had to find artisans who did the different parts. The industry would just put the parts together. We were doing a kind of bricolage Cheap-scape—as Frank Gehry would say—for the industries.” The Italian design industry seemed to work as an artisanal chain assembly. But what was still not clear, was why did these manufacturers get behind a group like Superstudio to make things that worked against the idea of mass consumption? Why would they sponsor designs that were against their best interests? “We thought these objects we were making were a kind of trojan horses that coming from inside the system would produce criticism, which means creativity, which means refusal, or incredible love. They were objects of poetic reaction for the people. They were not mass-produced, they were in little series, multiples, like works of art.” To this day I still think about Cristiano’s trojan horses, and his incredible love.
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Superstudio cofounder Cristiano Toraldo di Francia dies at 78

Italian architect Cristiano Toraldo di Francia, master drawer, and cofounder of famed 1960s and ’70s collective Superstudio, has died at the age of 78. Best known for starting the radical design firm while studying at the University of Florence with partner Adolfo Natalini, Toraldo di Francia was a catalyst for the radical architecture movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Though the group built very little, it excelled in creating avant-garde narratives and installations for major exhibitions as well as producing highly-regarded drawings, videos, and lithographs. Superstudio’s influential architectural research, design, objects, and theoretical work were featured in both the Milan Triennale, the Venice Biennale (several times), and at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as well as the Design Museum in London, among others. Several international museums have acquired their work over the years including the Centre Pompidou and the MAXXI in Rome. In 1972, Superstudio was invited by curator Amelio Ambasz to participate in its first U.S. showcase, Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Though the collective fell apart by 1980, its effect on the architectural profession was huge. It’s said that Superstudio’s penchant for imagining outrageous mega-structures majorly shaped the design minds of Rem Koolhaas and Zaha Hadid. In the early 70s, Koolhaas focused his final thesis at the Architectural Association of London on the Florentine group. Born in 1941, Toraldo di Francia also became a respected Italian architect, author, and educator in his own right in Italy. After Superstudio broke up, he continued to work independently in Florence and eventually in Filottrano, Italy. Some of his major projects include designing the Livorno waterfront, the Florence Statuto Railway Station, the San Paolo di Prato Banking Institute, and the Banca del Chianti headquarters in San Casciano Val di Pesa. Arguably one of his best and most controversial designs was the La Pensilina di Santa Maria Novella that served as a bus and taxi terminal adjacent to the 1932 Florence train station. Inspired by the striped patterning added to the facade and interior of the Santa Maria Novella church by Leon Battista Alberti in the 15th century, Toraldi di Francia made his elongated pensilina structure just as radical with skylights and ample marble material. It was built in 1990 ahead of the World Cup but later became inhospitable and dysfunctional. It was eventually dismantled by The Renzi government in 2010. In addition to designing, Toraldo di Francia taught and lectured at a number of universities Europe, the United States, and Japan. He was a founding faculty member of the architectural school at the University of Camerino in 1992. He worked there regularly until transitioning to the role of adjunct professor in 2011. A memorial is planned for the architect possibly this Thursday. Peter Lang and AN’s editor-in-chief William Menking wrote a book on Toraldi di Francia, his colleagues, and the Superstudio collective, Superstudio: Life Without Objects, which was published in 2003. Lang will follow up this initial obituary with a longer, more in-depth piece.
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Italian architect and editor Alessandro Mendini passes away

Italian architect, designer, and two-time editor-in-chief of Domus Alessandro Mendini has passed away at the age of 87. Mendini was born in Milan in 1931 and was a key figure in the resurgence of Italian design after World War II. Mendini founded Atelier Mendini in 1987 with his brother and collaborator Francesco, and they achieved international acclaim for their work with Swatch, Cartier, and other companies. Known as a sculptor, painter, architect, journalist, and designer of furniture, products, and interiors, Mendini was lauded for his playful use of color and sense of proportion. His talent eventually led to collaborations with both domestic Italian designers and large multinational firms, such as Supreme in 2016. Mendini was awarded the European Prize for Architecture in 2014, as well as the 2003 Medaglia d’Oro all’Architettura Italiana and the 2006 Villegiature Award. Mendini’s interests extended to architecture as well, and as Domus noted in his biography, he “designed the Groninger Museum (1988-1994, 2010) the Alessi factories and the Omegna Museum-Forum (1996), the Teatrino della Bicchieraia in Arezzo (1998), the urban regeneration of the Maghetti district in Lugano (1998), the renovation of the Termini Station in Rome (1999), the restoration of the Villa Comunale (1999) and three stations in the Naples underground network (2000),  as well as the new exhibition space and the new branch of the Milan Triennale in Incheon, South Korea (2008-2009).”
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Renzo Piano reveals replacement for collapsed Genoa Bridge

The Italian government has sped up plans to rebuild the Morandi Bridge that collapsed in Genoa this August, and taken up the Genoa-born Renzo Piano on his offer to design the replacement for free. Salini Impregilo, the country’s largest contractor, and Fincantieri, a state-run shipbuilding company, have been chosen to build the new bridge and will be forming a new conglomerate, “PERGENOVA” to do so. During a heavy storm on August 14, the concrete-and-cable-stay Morandi Bridge was hit by lightning and collapsed, killing 43 and injuring dozens more. The bridge originally opened in 1967 to span the Polcevera Viaduct and connected the coastal area with Genoa’s port. The Renzo Piano Building Workshop leaned heavily on steel for the replacement bridge, and Piano claimed in September that, “This will last for a thousand years and will be built of steel,”  and would “have elements of a boat because that is something from Genoa.” The final design seems to bear that out. A 3,600-foot-long main steel deck will run across 20 spans, supported by 19 concrete piers. For the most part, the piers will be spaced out in 164-foot increments, except for a pair that has been placed 328 feet apart on either side of the Polcevera River. The bridge will literally be a shining beacon, as it’s expected to reflect sunlight during the day and use stored solar energy to power its lights at night. Fincantieri will be building the structure’s steel elements at its Genoa-Sestri Ponente shipyard and may spread the work to its other shipyards if necessary. The steel deck will be assembled in parts and welded together on-site to reduce costs and speed up construction. The project is estimated to cost $229 million, and construction is expected to take 12 months once the site is cleared.
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This mental health facility creates calm with a perforated green facade

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San Miniato is a small Italian hill town just outside Florence. In medieval times, the town connected northern Europe and Rome, and today its hilltop landscape is dotted with luxury tourist lodgings scattered between landmarked palaces, seminaries, and homes. Arising from this historical context is the town's newest building, Casa Verde, a mental health facility for young women.
 
  • Facade Manufacturer Saverio srl and Carmine Pagano srl (perforated metal panels)
  • Architects LDA.iMdA architetti associati
  • Facade Installer Carmine Pagano srl (general contractor)
  • Facade Consultants STUDIO TECNO srl (structural engineer)
  • Location San Miniato, Pisa, Italy
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System steel frame w/ cement board and perforated metal sheet cladding
  • Products Knauf AQUAPANEL® Exterior Wall
The project is inspired by historical and social values of “home” paired with the spirit of the forested surroundings. A loose arrangement of dormitories are arranged around a central courtyard and clad with a perforated green metal skin that is held off of ground level to offer transparency to the surrounding landscape, which is peppered with centuries-old cypress trees. Casa Verde prioritizes social sustainability as well as sustainable land use. Hillside maintenance efforts were supported by reusing existing foundations from vicoli carbonai, or charcoal alleys, which were developed in the Middle Ages as an extension of San Miniato’s defensive system. Lightweight paneling on the facade helped minimize dead loads on the foundation to maintain the slope stability. Art by and about the patients has shaped the facility. Drawings from younger patients were edited, scaled, and applied to the ground floor glazing system, while Italian artist Mercurio-S17S71 created Shamans, a contemporary work that features portraits of Casa Verde’s patients. The extension to the existing orphanage was sensitively planned to protect the formal massing of the original plan, while additions to the complex are articulated through more contemporary expressions of shape and material. Openings on the main elevation connect users of the existing structure to the addition. The facade coloration results from a study of leaf shades in different seasons. Like a full tree canopy, the facade’s perforated screens are perceived as porous from up close, but massive and opaque from afar. Openings in the metal panels filter daylight while ventilating the thermal envelope beyond the screen. Beyond the facade, the architect explained that the interior spaces were purposefully designed in a minimal scheme to “recreate the feeling of being in a carded wool space (in view of neuropsychiatric disorders).” A base light gray color is paired with a color scheme of greens, blues, and oranges that covers furniture and architectural detailing to delineate the facility’s services.  
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Almost 10 percent of U.S. bridges are structurally deficient

News of the bridge collapse in Genoa, Italy, has urbanists, lawmakers, and everyday citizens alike rethinking the safety of aged infrastructure across the globe. A reported 39 people were killed on Tuesday when part of the cable-stayed Morandi Bridge snapped during a torrential downpour, causing dozens of vehicles to fall 148 feet to the ground. Completed in 1967, the 0.8 mile-long bridge underwent a restructuring effort two years ago and work on the foundation was underway this summer when the collapse occurred. Experts say both the design and maintenance of the 51-year-old bridge may be at fault for the catastrophic event. Many of the 614,387 bridges in the United States are nearing the end of their useful life, says to the American Society of Civil Engineers. Nearly four in ten are 50 years old or more, according to an ASCE report updated last year, but some significant repair work has been done over the last decade to ensure the future safety of a few of these structures. The ASCE reported that the percentage of structurally-deficient bridges in the U.S. has decreased from 12.1 percent to 9.1 percent since 2009 and that about 13.6 percent of the nation’s bridges are functionally obsolete. The ASCE also estimated that 15 percent were built between 40 and 49 years ago and will soon reach the end of their functional lifespan. With 188 million people traveling across poor bridges each year, these figures beg the question: How can the U.S. maintain its aging infrastructure? Though the U.S. has made advances on the state of its bridges, there’s still a long way to go. The ASCE said that it will cost $123 million to fix the nation’s deteriorating bridges and the American Road & Transportation Builders Association adds it will take nearly 37 years to do so. In January, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced the Bridge Investment Act in Congress, a $75 million measure that would help fund a 10-year federal grant for state bridge repairs, reports Construction Dive. The proposal is currently being reviewed by the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works.
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Morandi Bridge collapse raises questions about the future of concrete

The Morandi Bridge in Genoa, Italy, collapsed yesterday, apparently struck by lightning during a period of heavy rain, and about 30 people died and several others were injured. A viaduct on the A10 motorway, it was built between 1964 and 1967 and became a symbol of Italian post-World War II development. The bridge was designed by talented structural engineer Riccardo Morandi, then a prominent figure along with other Italian designers, including Pier Luigi Nervi and Sergio Musmeci. Morandi designed a similar project in Venezuela several years earlier. The entire viaduct was about one kilometer in length with a maximum span of around 200 meters. It consisted of a reinforced concrete structure with hybrid pre-stressed cable-stayed spans. Aside from its elegant design, it succeeded functionally because of its three piers that allowed it to fly over the existing buildings below. The viaduct was apparently weakened because the concrete was mixed with the incorrect viscosity, which created wave-like movement in the vehicle deck. Over the years, new steel cables were introduced to reinforce the inefficient pre-stressed stays while the whole bridge was facing constantly increasing traffic, reportedly more than 25 million passages a year, nearly four times the number initially planned. A proposed bypass highway project to decrease truck transit had been discussed since 2009, but local committees—apparently the 5 Stelle (5 Stars) populist movement governing Italy jointly with nationalist Lega Party since last June—rejected the proposal, with a sarcastic mention of “the fairy tale of the collapsing bridge." More recently, in 2016 independent senator Maurizio Rossi sent the former minister of transportation a written Q&A that pointed out potential structural issues of the bridge and highlighted the maintenance of the viaduct as a critical matter to be dealt with by Società Autostrade (formerly the State Highway Company). Professional engineers and designers have also suggested that reinforced concrete micro-fractures in the structure created by shaking from overloaded traffic were the potential reason for the collapse. Will this finally be a turning point for concrete as a hybrid construction material for bridges? It has long been seen as a poor material used by modernist egos for its formal plasticity even though it fails in durability. The Morandi Bridge was a national symbol of elegance and a crucial piece of infrastructure, and its collapse demands an appropriate infrastructure policy that deals with maintenance, management, and public procurement. This will avoid similar mass-murder. This is true not just in Italy, but worldwide since reinforced concrete is the most common material for bridges all over the planet. In the meantime, social media has been filled with self-proclaimed structural engineers insulting each other, stimulated by divisive politicians.

Seduction Pavilion

YAC – Young Architects Competitions – and the Foundation Fashion Research Italy – in cooperation with the Cineteca di Bologna - launch “Seduction Pavilion”, an architectural competition to design and realize an installation that will became a real landmark of an exhibition that the Foundation is going to dedicate to the endless beauty of aspiring female celebrities and pin-ups. A cash prize of € 10,000 + realization of the 1st prize project will be awarded to winners selected by a well-renowned jury made of, among the others, Patricia Urquiola (Studio Urquiola), Fabio Novembre (Studio Fabio Novembre), Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli (OMA), Claudio Silvestrin (Claudio Silvestrin Architects)

  • BRIEF

Refinery, elegance and seduction. The female universe has always been a sacred horizon, a mysterious threshold that has been inspiring a wide range of expressions of human culture. For women the first simulacra were sculpted by human hands, for women the Caryatids of the Acropolis of Athens were created. The sensuality captured by the ancient oral tradition of the Aeneid and the Old Testament is the female sensuality.

The characters of the woman are countless. They have been dotting the history of humankind in the enduring pursuit of an ever-changing beauty. Cinema and fashion have been celebrating such a bewitching and generating power for decades in an ongoing story of seduction and elegance.

Therefore, the Foundation Fashion Research Italy and the Cineteca di Bolognaaim at paying tribute to this female horizon, to this story of beauty and deep dignity. They will do so, by creating an architectural installation. Through a selection of rare photographs, it will describe the forgotten world of failed female stars: enchanting beauties that have almost been part of the Hollywood and Italian star system but never achieved fame.

How to represent the world of aspiring female celebrities and pin-ups? How to express- through architecture- the seducing power of the female universe? 

By answering these questions, designers will have the opportunity to pay tribute to the seducing fascination of nameless female stars. They will have the chance to create their own museum installation, which will be in the world a symbol and expression of style and femininity. Moreover, it will redeem the celebrity dream of stars that never achieved fame.

It will be located at the entrance of the Foundation Fashion Research Italy. It will be displayed to the world during the first edition of the Fashion Film Festival curated by the Cineteca di Bologna. The installation will welcome visitors with a story of sensuality and beauty able to connect them to a fragment of one of the most stunning and mysterious mosaics of history: the woman.

  • JURY

- Patricia Urquiola(Studio Urquiola)

- Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli (Oma)

-  Fabio Novembre (Studio Fabio Novembre)

-  Claudio Silvestrin (Claudio Silvestrin Architects)

-  Alberto Masotti (Fashion Research Italy)

- Gian Luca Farinelli (Cineteca di Bologna)

- Flaviano Celaschi (University of Bologna)

- Carlotta Zucchini (The Plan)

  • PRIZES

1st   PRIZE  5.000 € + REALIZATION

2nd  PRIZE 3.000 €

3rd  PRIZE  1.000 €

2 GOLD MENTIONS 500  € each

10 HONORABLE MENTIONS

30 FINALISTS

  • CALENDAR

11/06/2018 “early bird” registration – start

08/07/2018 (h 11.59 pm GMT) “early bird” registration – end

09/07/2018 “standard” registration – start

05/08/2018 (h 11.59 pm GMT) “standard” registration – end

06/08/2018 “late” registration – start

09/09/2018 (h 11.59 pm GMT) “late” registration – end

12/09/2018 (h 12.00 pm – midday - GMT) material submission deadline

More information on: www.youngarchitectscompetitions.com

Contact us at: yac@yac-ltd.com

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Expanded screen filters light in Florentine company's headquarters

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The newly completed VoipVoice headquarters, located in the Empoli region of the Florentine countryside in Italy, is part of a research program aimed at reactivating industrial areas which witnessed a decrease in construction due to the building industry crisis. The project, designed by Pisa-based LDM.iMdA architetti associati, breaks the boundary between private and public spaces through opening the front of the building to develop a new connection with the city.
 
  • Facade Manufacturer Pagano Carmine srl, Saverio srl
  • Architects LDA.iMdA architetti associati
  • Facade Installer Pagano Carmine srl, Saverio srl
  • Facade Consultants LDA.iMdA architetti associati
  • Location Montelupo Fiorentino, Italy
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System expanded metal screen
  • Products MARIANItech 200x64x20mm rhomboidal expanded aluminum mesh with gray powder-coat finish
The facade consists of a glass curtain wall on the ground floor and, on the upper floor, an expanded metal screen mounted to the concrete structure. This stratification is meant to open up the first level as a public space and transition to privacy in the second level office spaces while still providing light permeation. The metal screen is an aluminum expanded metal rhomboidal mesh where the size of each rhomboid is 200 by 64 by 20 millimeters (7.87 by 2.51 by 0.78 inches). The metal is given a gray powder-coat finish to reflect the sun off of the building and to protect it from weathering. The rhomboid apertures are fabricated at an angle to create a brise-soleil, blocking sunlight during the hottest days of the year and allowing the sun to penetrate the facade during the winter. The intent was to create the perception of a solid building within its urban context without ever sacrificing access to daylight and surrounding views. The screen continues over all windows in the facade above the first floor. On the interior, it makes itself present through the patterns it creates in the glass partitions’ reflections and the shadows projected onto the walls, floors and ceilings. The material is visually drawn through the building envelope toward the interior and extends the implied connection between the inside and the outside. The same aluminum screen, powder-coated with a darker color, is used on an adjacent fence, creating a visual layering effect which emphasizes the material and its inherent pattern. VoipVoice Headquarters (Courtesy Medulla Studio) LDA.iMdA said in a statement that the purpose of the metal facade is “to create views over the surrounding hills and landscape and, at the same time, curate a perfect link between light, material, and shadows so that it can produce feelings of wonder in people who use the workspace.”
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Bonetti/Kozerski Architecture highlights Italian heritage with their latest cafe

Stop by the latest outpost of Sant Ambroeus for your morning coffee and you may not notice all of the design at play. But you’ll certainly feel it, as you enjoy an espresso, Italian-style, at the counter. Your leg will sink into the angle of the Dark Emperador marble slab, and suddenly you’ll feel anchored, calm. That’s because visitors to the Upper East Side coffee shop are in the competent hands of Bonetti/Kozerski Architecture, who used mock-ups to convince their client to place the glowing pastry case at the back and allow generous room for flow. “There’s always a leap of faith from the client, but the shorter you can make it and the more you can show the reasons, the better,” said Enrico Bonetti, the project’s principal in charge, whose firm lead the renovation of the entire building, now called the Hanley. A native of Bologna and a self-professed coffee obsessive, Bonetti looked to the brand’s heritage, “like a producer,” to create a space that would feel both fresh and within the visual language established since the first Sant Ambroeus opened in 1936. “We adjusted what they had, fine-tuned it, and tried to bring some level of quality that you don’t see, but you feel,” Bonetti said. Every element, down to a brass niche precisely proportioned to hide the requisite box of latex gloves, was carefully considered. “You don’t find places like this in Italy,” Bonetti said, settling into a coffee-colored Thonet chair. “The level of refinement is very New York.” Behind the counter, rounded tiles of Marmo Rosa di Verona were glued to the walls by “two very old installers” imported, like the stone, from Italy. The tiles’ shape mirrors the oiled American walnut tambour that clads the remaining walls, while their shade references Sant Ambroeus’s signature peachy-pink hue. Even the ceiling is painted with purpose, nearly imperceptibly, in Benjamin Moore’s Burlap, a neutral take on the color. While it’s unlikely anyone would notice the hue, the entire space glows warmly thanks to layered lighting with metallic-capped LED bulbs in simple ceiling-mounted Schoolhouse Electric fixtures as well as architectural cove lighting combined with a pair of vintage 1950s Paavo Tynell sconces and brass Alvar Aalto pendants. The same care was given to details like the matte black paint that makes the tables’ legs seemingly disappear, the wood newspaper holders sourced from Germany, and even the height of the custom leather bench, which puts sitters at eye level with those across from them. “These are not things that anybody notices, but at the end, they stay with you if not properly treated.” The team also worked with kitchen consultants Clevenger Frable Lavallee to make the space as functional for those working behind the counter as it is beautiful for those waiting in line. But, Bonetti had more than just his clients to please. “It’s mostly thinking selfishly,” the architect joked, “because I want to come back and have a really good cup of coffee.”
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Remembering James Sloss Ackerman (1919–2016), the preeminent American scholar of Italian Renaissance architecture

The preeminent American scholar of Italian Renaissance architecture, James Ackerman passed away on December 31. A native of San Francisco, Ackerman trained at Yale and then the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, where he studied under a number of prominent European émigrés, most notably Henri Focillon, Erwin Panofsky, and Richard Krautheimer, who eventually served as his dissertation advisor. Yet it was also his experience in the Second World War that shaped his scholarly trajectory. Stationed at the end of the war in northern Italy, he assisted in the transfer of state archives from the Certosa of Pavia as part of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Commission. This direct experience with one of the great buildings of the Renaissance helped lead the young scholar to focus on the architecture of this period. After initially publishing two articles on Lombard architecture, including a now canonical study of the debates surrounding the design of Milan Cathedral, he undertook doctoral research in Florence, where he broke new ground through his exploration of the vast trove of architectural drawings held at the Uffizi. This interest in the media of architecture and modes of representation remained a constant throughout his career, and later expanded to even include architectural photography. His research eventually took him to Rome, where thanks to fellowships from the American Academy in Rome and the Fulbright Commission, he produced the first systematic investigation of the Cortile del Belvedere, the massive structure initiated by Pope Julius II to link the Vatican Palace to a nearby villa. Utilizing physical, graphic, archival, and textual evidence, his dissertation and subsequent book set the standard for monographic studies in the field. Upon returning to the United States, Ackerman took up a position at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught in both the nascent Art History department and the School of Architecture. In 1960, he left for Harvard where he eventually became the Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Fine Arts until his retirement in 1990. During his first decade there, Ackerman published monographs on Michelangelo and Palladio, which for the architectural community as whole, he is best remembered. Both still in print, they remain standards thanks to their lucid prose, rigorous scholarship, and synthetic approach. His Palladio (1966) and closely related Palladio’s Villas (1967) also heralded a shift in his scholarship toward a more social, political, and economic interpretation of architecture inspired in part by younger scholars, especially Manfredo Tafuri. While the work of Andrea Palladio continued to captivate Ackerman, as seen both in his later publications and his long involvement with the Palladio Center in Vicenza, from the 1970s onward his interests grew increasingly broader and led to studies on Renaissance art and science, the villa as typology, and a number of other topics. Indeed, like his mentor Krautheimer (who also died at 97), Ackerman remained productive and academically curious until the very end, publishing just this last year the book Origins, Invention, Revision with essays on subjects as diverse as the early history of sketching, Frank Gehry, and Indian architecture. Yet James Ackerman will be remembered for much more than just his prodigious academic output. For over the last half century, he has been the heart and magisterial voice of the discipline of Renaissance architectural history. As a devoted teacher, he stimulated many young architects and shepherded numerous leading figures into the field. He also actively sought to engage the wider public through his educational films Looking for Renaissance Rome (1976) and Palladio the Architect and His Influence in America (1980). Among his many honors, Ackerman was the first architectural historian to be the recipient of the prestigious Balzan Prize. With a portion of the award, he generously established the annual James Ackerman Prize for the History of Architecture, which has enabled the publication of books by emerging scholars across the discipline of architectural history. This commitment to the field and support for young academics was a hallmark of his career. He was also dedicated to a number of institutions, notably serving as editor of Art Bulletin and as a long-time trustee of the American Academy in Rome. James Ackerman was both the last link to a now lost world of academia and a beacon guiding generations of scholars and architects forward in their engagement with Renaissance architecture. For his insightful research, pellucid writing, and dedicated teaching, as well as his service, outreach, and generosity, he set an academic standard for all to emulate.
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Carlo Caldini, co-founder of Gruppo 9999, passes away

Carlo Caldini, co-founder of Gruppo 9999, passed away on February 22 in his home in Florence, Italy. He was 76 years old. Together with fellow members Giorgio Birelli, Fabrizio Fiumi, and Paolo Galli, Gruppo 9999 was selected through an open competition to participate in the ground-breaking exhibition Italy: the New Domestic Landscape at MoMA in 1972, curated by Emilio Ambasz. Their contribution, Casa Orto—Vegetable Garden House, would become one of the defining projects in the early ecology movement. In revisiting the teachings of St. Francis the group introduced a new kind of architectural sensitivity, combining a deep respect for nature with advanced technology. Their “tondo” portrait of St. Francis, with a television monitor broadcasting the Saint’s image above, eloquently spoke to the great dichotomy of their era, where technology was seen to defile nature. For Gruppo 9999, nature and technology could co-exist in building a better environment for living. Gruppo 9999 emerged from the same post-war generation that engendered the Florentine Superarchitecture movement, from which emerged Archizoom and Superstudio. The first collective assembly formed in 1968 was called 1999, but reconstituted itself in 1970 as 9999. They went on to found the discotheque Space Electronic in 1969, a self-organized production, constructed on collective know-how and communal labor. Inspired by a visit to Andy Warhol’s Electric Circus in New York, half ludic dance hall, half cybernetic chamber, the Space Electronic discotheque succeeded in consolidating 9999’s reputation as a critical player among this second wave of Radical Italian designers. While the discotheque hosted a number of major acts, including the Living Theatre’s Paradise Now directed by Julian Beck and Judith Malina, the Nobel prize winner Dario Fo with Franca Rame, along with Rory Gallagher and Van Der Graaf Generator, it is this author’s opinion that one of their most significant contributions was the launching of a new form of temporary radical design school. Born from a collaborative effort with Superstudio, the Florentine discotheque was transformed into a tactical site for full-scale installations and performance spaces during the Mondial Festival: Life, Death and Miracles of Architecture, that culminated in a three-day event in November of 1971. This festival included the experimental learning center called S-Space: the Separate School for Expanded Conceptual Architecture. It was the first school of its kind to chart the progress of the Italian Radical design movement. This short-lived project, to an extent related to Alvin Boyarsky’s International Institute of Design (IID) whose summer sessions included the participation of many of these same Italian groups, is one of the lesser-known chapters in the Radical movement’s history. The Mondial Festival featured Gianni Pettena, UFO., Remo Butti, and Zziggurat, the Milanese pamphleteer and media theorist Ugo La Pietra, the Florence-based Fluxus musician Giuseppe Chiari and Florentine artist/musician Renato Ranaldi, along with several international contributors, including the American Ant Farm, and the San Francisco–based Portola Institute and from England, Street Farmer. With the slogan, “…we should better love our planet!”  the event proved to be a significant study in cross-disciplinary actions, and just as importantly, the testing grounds for full-scale installations and live interventions. Space Electronic was an ideally receptive environment for the type of multi-purpose and interactive happenings that so distinctly characterized the Radical Italian design movement in this prime moment. The catalog, a white fake fur covered publication, remains a rare collector’s item. Carlo Caldini ran Space Electronic right up until the end, remaining an important figure in Florentine culture. With his passing, we lose another important eye witness to this critical period in architectural history.