Some Walls From Unbuilt Houses opened earlier this month at Kent State University’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design Armstrong Gallery. The installation consists of a collection of framed spaces surfaced with a millennial's dream material palette: Faux pink-and-blue fur, dichromatic vinyl, raw plywood, glitter embellished wood shingles, and monochromatic felt and leather. While these textured walls entice visitors to snap a selfie or two, it’s what lies behind the surface that matters most. The installation is a collection of fragments extracted from plan drawings for various houses designed by Endemic Architecture (Clark Thenhaus). Their intersecting recomposition in the gallery creates an enfilade of unfolding spaces, moving between highly articulated surfaces and low-fi unfinished stud walls. The experience gives real meaning to the phrase, “inhabit the poché,” as one must circulate simultaneously through exposed interior wall cavities and finished rooms. To top it all off, the gallery’s large glass exterior wall is activated in one ceremonious section cut through the installation, further revealing interiors full of artifacts from the construction process. The layered, overlapping and assembled qualities of the space, combined with remnants of paint samples, Walmart receipts, and scattered floor plans are suspended in a state of constant negotiation, enticing visitors, as Thenhaus states, “to look behind, through, and into the walls in search of more layers or spaces.” As a corollary production to Thenhaus’s most recent publication, Unresolved Legibility in Residential Types, the installation asks visitors to pay attention to the in-between and the unresolved in domestic layouts. The forgotten closets, utility cavities, and leftover nooks often covered over with black poché in the architect’s drawing are revealed to become new spaces of discovery and inhabitation. Some Walls From Unbuilt Houses is on display until March 6 at the CAED Armstrong Gallery, located at 132 S Lincoln St, Kent, Ohio 44240. Endemic Architecture would like to thank the following Kent State University students for their assistance: Aiden Crossey, Aileen Lin, Allison Baker, Branden Hudak, Feyza Mutlu, Jonathan Bonezzi, Kyle Troyer, Logan West, Mike Bonezzi, Ryan Lane, Yu-ting Chang.
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The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) will be the location for the Graphic Novels / Novel Architecture Symposium on April 1st. Organized by Kent State University College of Architecture & Environmental Design (CAED), the symposium will explore the relationship between architecture and comics. The influence of animation, cartoons, comics, illustrations, and storyboards will be discussed in two sessions and a keynote discussion. Participants will include architects, illustrators, and educators. Graphic Novels / Novel Architecture will be the first event of an annual series that will explore architecture and different narrative media. The first session, starting at 1:00 pm in CMA’s Gartner Auditorium, is entitled "Hot Technology." The session will include short presentations and a discussion between California-based architect Wes Jones, London-based architect and illustrator Alison Sampson, and Archigram’s Michael Webb. The second session, entitled "Cool Diagrams," will start at 3:00 pm. This session will include presentations and a discussion between University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Architecture Director Robert Somol, Jimenez Lai of Bureau Spectacular, and Dutch cultural anthropologist Mélanie van der Hoorn. A closing keynote discussion will feature acclaimed comic book artist Chris Ware and Françoise Mouly, art editor of The New Yorker. The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are encouraged. For those not able to make it to Cleveland, the entire symposium will be live-streamed online. The proceedings will also be archived on video, and produced into a short video documentary. A book is also planned documenting the event.
In over 100 projects, Team Better Block (TBB), the organization that works directly with cities to realize large-scale placemaking initiatives, helps make your great city even better. Now, thanks to a $775,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Dallas-based organization will be better able to serve cities and the people who make them. The January grant, meted out in installments, allowed TBB to create the Better Block Foundation (BBF), a nonprofit arm of for-profit TBB. Founder Jason Roberts explained that the grant will help both entities grow and support each other mutually. Roberts clarified that, while Better Block solutions like bike lane, plaza, and pop-up business recipes are "an open-source operating system, like Linux," free and open for all to use, TBB installs Better Block solutions for a fee. He and co-founder Andrew Howard realized a need for the foundation when TBB went worldwide. "We didn't have the bandwidth, so we needed the non-profit model. The nonprofit will help other folks do these things," he told AN. Things like transforming underutilized spaces, building workforce capacity, and cultivating vacant land. The program is expanding its staff to include a managing director, architect, project manager, and creating an internship program. Howard will manage TBB, while Roberts, who enjoys research and development, is directing the foundation. The BBF includes a human capacity-building component, as well. Civic leaders, elected officials, developers, and others "passionate about the built environment" will be able to meet architects, planners, and designers to discuss solutions for their cities' public spaces. Additionally, the foundation will build capacity to collect data and performance metrics before and after a Better Block project is installed. "We haven't had a chance to document that piece," Roberts reflected. "The foundation can focus on impact." This year, the BBF and TBB are planning the WikiBlocks project for the city of St. Paul. In collaboration with neighborhood groups, they'll install parklets, flowerbeds, and cafe seating from cutout designs whose plans are free to download and assemble. TBB is teaming up with the digital fabrication studio at Kent State University to create the prototypes for the project: In about three months, the early models will be developed. TBB knows how local culture manifests itself in and through the built environment, and that drawing on that ethos is key to building strong neighborhoods. Right now, TBB is using one site to turn around a struggling neighborhood in Akron, Ohio, and posing the question in reverse: how could culture express itself in an individual house? Working with refugees from Bhutan, in collaboration with the International Institute, the Bhutan Cultural Association, and a Community Development Corporation (CDC) in Akron, the team is transforming a dilapidated house in the North Hill neighborhood into The Exchange House, an Airbnb youth hostel managed by the émigrés. Refugees sponsored by the State Department are indebted to the government: refugees have to pay back their plane ticket. Consequently, they're expected to find work, but language and cultural barriers can make that difficult. Running the hostel will provide an opportunity for cultural exchange, help refugees earn money, and build English language skills, as well as revitalize a neighborhood that has excess housing and infrastructural capacity. The partners hope to "stamp North Hill as an international neighborhood." There's 11 months left on the project, and demolition on the interior is progressing apace. Sai Sinbondit (of Cleveland-based Bialosky + Partners Architects) is the lead architect. A market, garden, and community resource center will round out the hostel's program.
Parklets are coming to Cleveland. The urban planning tool remaking urban streetscapes from Los Angeles to Chicago got a nod from Cleveland's Planning Commission last week, clearing the way for an outdoor living room to replace a parking space in front of the popular Noodlecat restaurant at 234 Euclid Avenue. Pending permits, the pedestrian area and space for street theater should pop up in less than one month, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Steven Litt. The nonprofit Historic Gateway Neighborhood Corp. worked with David Jurca of Kent State University's Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative and architect Jason Rohal of Vocon to design the space, gathering about half the of the necessary $7,000 from the co-op Cleveland Collectivo. Cleveland's first miniature, plug-in public space will take the form of a wooden deck, outfitted with moveable furniture and stools. If it's popular, it could be the first of many.
As buzz builds for Kent State University’s “Design Loft,” a new home for one of Ohio’s four architecture schools, lead architects Weiss/Mandredi Thursday announced project updates. The building will now now be composed of four tiered floors instead of five, trimming the overall area from 124,000 square feet to roughly 107,000 square feet. “The changes have been made in the name of efficiency and cost-effectiveness,” according to Kent’s Record-Courier, who reported that most of the area cut consisted of “non-essential corridors.” The new building is to be located along the Lester A. Lefton Esplanade between South Lincoln and Willow streets. It would bring together the University’s fragmented design programs together under one roof. They currently occupy three separate structures, including Taylor Hall — a gathering spot for the 1970 Vietnam War protests in which the Ohio National Guard shot 13 unarmed students. The new building — a procession of stepped, transparent boxes — is meant to encourage interaction among students, and lessen the town-gown divide. “The building will physically and metaphorically represent the connection between the city of Kent and the university campus,” read a Kent State University press release. Richard L. Bowen & Associates is the architect of record. Construction is expected to begin by fall of this year.
Marking the end of a design competition for the new home of its College of Architecture & Environmental Design, Kent State University has chosen Weiss/Manfredi’s “Design Loft” over submissions from Bialosky & Partners of Cleveland with Architecture Research Office of New York; The Collaborative of Toledo with Miller Hull Partnership of Seattle; and Westlake Reed Leskosky of Cleveland. The college is moving from three separate buildings including Taylor Hall, where it has been for decades, and which served as a gathering spot for the 1970 Vietnam War protest that would end in four deaths. Kent State University has one of Ohio’s four architecture schools, and the site of its new home is intended to engage the greater community of Kent. During a public forum at KSU in January, Michael Manfredi called the design “a three-dimensional diorama,” connecting studio life to the outside at all times with continuous sightlines from one studio to the next. “The idea is that there really is no such thing as a circulation space, but always a place of interaction,” Marion Weiss said. The team said they were investigating adjustable shading controls for the stepped glass box design. Richard L. Bowen & Associates of Cleveland will be the architect of record.