Posts tagged with "Marcel Breuer":

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How Graves, Koolhaas, and Piano would have altered Marcel Breuer’s iconic Madison Avenue museum

This month, The Metropolitan Museum of Art is opening the Met Breuer, replacing the Whitney Museum of American Art that called the Brutalist showpiece home for nearly five decades. Last year, the Whitney moved to Renzo Piano's building in the Meatpacking District. The Met is renting the Breuer (now the Met Breuer) on an eight-year lease while David Chipperfield works on a new space for contemporary art. The site of the Met's latest acquisition, however, has a colourful past, fending off near misses from Graves to Koolhaas and Piano.  AN Takes a look at what so nearly could have been.                                 In 1989, the New York Times ran the headline: "The Whitney Paradox: To Add Is To Subtract." Such was Paul Goldberger's distaste for what Michael Graves had originally proposed to lie adjacent to Marcel Breuer's building. Indeed, Graves' Postmodern proposal gave rise to Goldberger questioning: "What value does the Breuer building have, both as a work of architecture unto itself and as a part of the streetscape? And how gingerly, therefore, should it be treated?" Built in 1966, Marcel Breuer's Modernist granite building may be the epitome of abstract architecture, having remained detached for so long, shooing away any potential plunderers of its monumental message. Breuer, a Hungarian and product of Gropius' Bauhaus, went so far as to erect concrete walls to resist interaction with adjacent buildings, keeping them at arm's length.
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See iconic architecture (for free!) at Open House New York Weekend

This weekend, 256 public and privately-owned sites across New York City will open their doors to thousands of architecture and history nerds for the 13th annual Open House New York (OHNY) Weekend. All sites are free to visit, though some require registration in advance. Gregory Wessner, executive director of OHNY, said the event is an "opportunity to get an audience to look at the city through different disciplinary lenses." This year, 1,200 volunteers will staff 256 sites. Wessner explained the selection criteria: sites are evaluated for their architectural, cultural, and historical significance; location; proximity to public transportation; period, style, and typology. Last year, OHNY Weekend attracted approximately 75,000 visitors over two days. 80 percent of those visitors were New Yorkers. Given the depth and breadth of the offerings, it's impossible to privilege one site over another, though Wessner said he's particularly excited about City Hall. City Hall, he believes, "represents what's great about OHNY. It represents the seat of government, which most of us don't get to go into, and welcomes the public to go in and look around." New York's Beyer Blinder Belle renovated the palatial 1812 structure this year. A little-known architectural mecca is Bronx Community College. From 1959–1970, New York University (then owner of the campus) commissioned Marcel Breuer to design four buildings. DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State will lead tours of Breuer's buildings on Saturday and Sunday. Also on campus: the Beaux-Arts Gould Memorial Library and Hall of Fame (Stanford White, 1900) and North Hall and Library (Robert A.M. Stern, 2012). Though the weekend is the group's biggest event, OHNY operates throughout the year, organizing tours and talks to encourage dialogue around major issues affecting the city's built environment. The Final Mile is a yearlong exploration of the "challenges and choices for an equitable and resilient food system" in New York. Food manufacturing, Wessner stated, is the fastest growing manufacturing sector in the city, and drives real estate development (think Smorgasburg and Chelsea Market). Tomorrow, Friday, OHNY is leading tours of food manufacturing facilities as a lead-up to the weekend. Visitors should check the OHNY Weekend for updates ahead of their trip. See the gallery below for more images of featured sites.
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Beyer Blinder Belle restoring Marcel Breuer’s Whitney building for 2016 reopening under the Metropolitan Museum

The Met Breuer will throw open its doors in March 2016 for the first season of contemporary art programming under the banner of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Breuer's iconic building, formerly the Whitney Museum of American Art, is currently being "invigorated by renovations that will support a fluid, integrated experience of art and architecture," as the Met's press release proudly declares. The renovation seeks to integrate art throughout the entire museum. Immediately upon entering, visitors will be greeted by artist-in-residence Vijay Iyer, who will be conducting a performance installation. It's a short elevator ride up to four additional floors of "contemporary art in dialogue with historic works" in the Met's collection. “The Met is proud to become the steward of this iconic building and to preserve Marcel Breuer’s bold vision,” said Thomas P. Campbell, director and CEO of the Met, said in a statement. “Our approach to inhabiting and interpreting the building honors Breuer’s intent for the space, highlighting its unique character as an environment for the presentation of modern and contemporary art. The wonderfully scaled galleries and interior spaces of The Met Breuer provide a range of opportunities to present our modern and contemporary program, in addition to our galleries in the Fifth Avenue building.” Beyer Blinder Belle is spearheading the restoration efforts, including touching up Breuer's distinct concrete walls, stone floors, bronze fixtures, and lighting. The architects are working hard to preserve the building's weathered patina rather than scrubbing and polishing its history away. A streamlined entry sequence, new restaurant, sunken garden, and "book bar" retail shop are also planned. "What should a museum look like, a museum in Manhattan?" Breuer asked in 1963 upon receiving the commission to design the new Whitney. "It is easier to say first what it should not look like. It should not look like a business or office building, nor should it look like a place of light entertainment. Its form and its material should have identity and weight in the neighborhood of 50-story skyscrapers, of mile-long bridges, in the midst of the dynamic jungle of our colorful city. It should be an independent and self-relying unit, exposed to history, and at the same time it should transform the vitality of the street into the sincerity and profundity of art." The inaugural showing includes free entry to the lobby and lower-level galleries. According to the Met:
The inaugural season of The Met Breuer features a major cross-departmental curatorial initiative to present a historic examination of unfinished works of art; the largest exhibition to date dedicated to Indian modernist Nasreen Mohamedi; and a month-long performance installation, by Artist in Residence Vijay Iyer. Upcoming exhibitions include a presentation of Diane Arbus’s rarely seen early photographic works (July 11– November 27, 2016), and the first museum retrospective dedicated to Kerry James Marshall (October 25, 2016 – January 22, 2017).
The building has been vacant since the Whitney decamped for its new Renzo Piano–designed Meatpacking outpost perches astride the High Line. Meanwhile Uptown, Richard Morris Hunt's grand Beaux Arts beauty is in the midst of a conceptual plan by David Chipperfield Architects that will eventually guide the redesign of the complex's Southwest Wing.
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Organization Rescues Cape Cod Modernist Homes

Built in 1970 by prolific Cape Cod–based architect Charles Zehnder, the Frank Lloyd Wright–inspired Kugel Gips house spent nearly a decade unoccupied and in disrepair while under ownership of the National Park Service (NPS). Abandoned and rotting, the compact Modernist home was nearly lost to the idyllic peninsula’s salty winds, and worse yet, the wrecking ball, until Wellfleet, Massachusetts–based architect Peter McMahon and the Cape Cod Modernist Trust (CCMT) stepped in. As part of their mission to preserve and document the Cape’s rich Modernist heritage—a legacy of 80 homes by local and European-born architects like Marcel Breuer, Serge Chermayeff and Nathaniel Saltonstall—McMahon and a group of around 35 volunteers have faithfully restored the house, opening it up to visitors, vacationers, scholars, and artists. Following the outbreak of World War II and their subsequent migration to New England, seminal Bauhaus figures like Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer were drawn to Cape Cod by its pristine natural environment, cheap, undeveloped land, and the open minds of the local artistic and architectural community. On parcels costing as little as $1,000, architects constructed simple, experimental summer cottages with budget materials and intimate connections to their natural surroundings. “The designs were very intentional,” CCMT founder McMahon told the Boston Globe in 2009. “There’s a lifestyle implied by these buildings, one that recognizes the importance of nature, creativity, and sustainability, one that says you don’t need a lot to be happy” Featuring a large cantilevered roof, exposed concrete, wood shingles, two decks and gracious windows overlooking a nearby kettle pond, the 2,200-square-foot, three-bedroom house is the first restoration undertaken by the CCMT. Commissioned by Peter and Judy Kugel, both Boston academics, the house was built within the boundaries of the Cape Cod National Seashore and in 1998 was acquired through eminent domain by the NPS for $80,000 before falling into disrepair. Thanks to a generous $100,000 contribution from the town of Wellfleet and the pro bono services of Manhattan based Fox Diehl Architects, along with the sweat of McMahon and his volunteers, the home now looks as good as it did 43 years ago. Seven such Modernist homes are owned by the NPS, five of which were in poor condition and scheduled for demolition before the Massachusetts Historical Commission deemed them significant specimens of postwar Modern residential architecture. The CCMT has since acquired long term leases on the five properties and plans to make them available for educational programs, summer rentals, and scholar and artist residencies. Over the summer, the CCMT completed renovations of the Jack Hall-designed Hatch cottage, and in October the organization raised over $60,000 via Kickstarter for the restoration of the Weidlinger house, designed Hungarian Modernist Paul Weidlinger. According to the CCMT, Gropius, Breuer, and Le Corbusier all weighed in on Weidlinger's design, with Corbusier reportedly commenting "don't pave the driveway." But it is not the publicly owned properties that are in real danger. Times have changed and land prices have escalated since Breuer built his pair of houses on the Cape for $5,000 each. For many would-be residents, the modest scale and off-the-shelf materials of these mid-century relics are not worth saving when a beachside McMansion would fit nicely in their place.
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Spend the Night in the Dessau Bauhaus

Miss out on your Bauhaus opportunity because you were not an artistic youth in 1920s and 1930s Germany? Now, architecture and design enthusiasts can revive their desired pasts as students at Walter Gropius’ iconic design school, at least in sleeping accommodations. The Bauhaus School of Design in Dessau, Germany has converted one of its studio buildings into a boutique hotel with dormitory-style rooms for overnight rental. Visitors can spend the night in spaces that once housed some of the biggest names in modern architecture, when they were still just students. From 1923 to 1935, the Bauhaus studio building contained 28 rooms for architecture students studying at the school. Now, hotel clients can choose from 20 different spaces, each furnished with the steel tube furniture of architect, designer, and former Bauhaus instructor Marcel Breuer in recreation of the original dormitory accommodations. Select rooms have been designed to reflect some of the Bauhaus’ most famous alumni. Beginning in late October, these specialty rooms can be rented out, according to the visitor’s architectural preference. Among these dorms, the New York Times’ T Magazine says, is a room in the style of Josef Albers that contains replicas of the furniture he created for himself while at the design school and another, representing architect Franz Ehrlich, decorated with furniture he designed for the German Democratic Republic in the 1950s. The Bauhaus Studio Building offers single accommodations from €35 and doubles from €55. But, be warned, like in the Bauhaus’ student dorm days, bathrooms and showers are communal and accessed from the hallway.
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PRODUCT> M2L brings Thonet’s Gebrüder T 1819 to the US

Ever since Michael Thonet established Gebrüder in 1819, the brand has been at the forefront of mass producing the now iconic bentwood and tubular steel furniture by designers from the Bauhaus era as well as contemporary designers and architects, as well as Thonet himself, of course. Gebrüder is not only one of the oldest modern design brands and manufacturers, it's also one of the few that are still family owned and managed. The 5th generation of Thonet's (Michael's great-great-grandchildren) currently run the company in Germany, but a few days ago they announced their new partnership with M2L to distribute classics like Mart Stam's chrome-plated cantilevered chair and the Vienna coffee house chair that started it all to the US market. Yes, it's a little crazy to think that a brand like Gebrüder hasn't had direct US distribution in its nearly 200 year history, but better late than never. M2L has a thirty year reputation for distributing the quality craftsmanship and time-honored work of designers like Alvo Aalter, Walter Gropius, Eero Aarino as well as contemporary talents, including Patrick Norguet, Norman Foster and Pearson-Lloyd. Here are a few of our favorites from the Gebrüder T 1819 collection. Marcel Breuer's tubular steel desk (S 285). We want these with the matching cantilever chairs with a wood-framed wicker back and seat (S 32) for our office. Christian Lepper and Roland Schmidt's comfortable yet structured ergonomic lounge chair and ottoman (S 850, S 853) in oak-stained molded plywood and black leather. Naoto Fukasawa's solid wood 130 chair (available in oak, beech or stained, with or without arms) is all grown up yet fun and lively, too.
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Artists Take on Breuer’s Inverted Umbrellas in the Bronx

When one thinks of Marcel Breuer's work in New York, the Whitney immediately comes to mind. But there's a substantial collection of Breuer buildings in the Bronx, including the Lehman College Art Gallery, where Breuer morphed from Bauhaus to Brutailism in one structure. On Monday night, two separate group shows opened at the gallery, one curated by gallery director Susan Hoetzel, the other was part of El Museo del Barrio's biennial, "The (S) Files." From an architectural standpoint, one artist from each show stood out because of their direct response to Breuer's hyperbolic paraboloid columns which punctuate the space. The art gallery was initially built as a library in 1958. All the stacks were to be kept in the basement. Breuer described the six giant paraboloid columns which define the space as large inverted umbrellas. The forms functioned as both roof and ceiling to a grand reading room. A curtain wall wrapped around the north and west sides of the building while a honeycomb-like sunscreen ran around the south and east. The librarian and Breuer clashed throughout the design process on the library's layout and once Breuer was off the premises she cluttered the space with bookshelves and the architect disowned the project. By the 1980s the building was converted into a gallery and classrooms. Fire walls divided the space. But two of the gallery spaces feature the columns as works of art. It was these two columns that informed the work of artists Gisela Insuaste and Barbara Andrus. In the case of Andrus, the encounter wasn't exactly an embrace as much as a reaction. Her site specific installation regards the paraboloid column with wary respect. Composed of branches from a variety of trees, including apple, holly, cherry, mountain ash, basked willow, and tiger maple, the structure snakes around the space creating spiral hallways whose walls wisp up and slightly away from Breuer's central column. "The columns were sort of daunting in a way," said Andrus. "It was such a strong element that I couldn’t completely ignore it." The sheer height of the piece, some twenty feet at one point, nearly saps the columns robust power. The interior of the piece takes the visitor far away. Walking through the sculpture feels like being enveloped a by beach-side cove, living up to its name, Forest Extract: Walking Between Swans Island and Sears Island. If Andrus' piece takes you away to Maine, then Insuaste's brings you to an Ecuadorian rooftop in Brooklyn. Though Insuaste did enough research to pay homage to the master, there's no doubt, she takes him on in full frontal aesthetic assault. For three weeks the artist saturated the paraboloid in rich colors of an Ecuadorian textile, with purple bunting up against grey and blue in one section, or melon, chartreuse, and mint in another. Each panel is separated by silver leaf, which was inspired by silver paint on Brooklyn rooftops where she lives. "I like the idea of it being an inverted umbrella, so I like the idea of bringing the outside in," she said. When asked if she'd like to do the same to other masterworks she mentioned Corbusier and Niemeyer. "I'm up for it," she said.
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Alternative Whitney Proposal Designed to Attract Attention

Think Renzo Piano's still preliminary design for a new Whitney Museum of American Art is too timid? How about this alternative scheme floated by the self proclaimed "architectural provocateurs" at Axis Mundi? According to a statement, the proposal is meant to be "as bold in spirit as the original Breuer building." It's bold all right. The design calls for a structural exoskeleton, shaped by the sight lines and street grid of the city, imbedded with the circulation and mechanical systems. Column-free galleries would be suspended from the skeleton with distinctive projecting windows, reminiscent of Breuer's at the Madison Avenue Whitney. The Axis Mundi proposal mentions nothing of costs, which is one of the biggest hurdles facing the Whitney, given the museum's relatively modest endowment. Axis Mundi has chased the news before. They previously promoted an alternative to Jean Nouvel's proposed Tower Verre for MoMA, called the Vertical Neighborhood. Check out more images of their Whitney proposal after the jump.
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Bowled Over by Bronx Architecture

The Bronx isn't exactly known for its architecture, excepting maybe the Grand Concourse, but the Lehman College Art Gallery is hoping to change that perception with a new and very impressive website chronicling the borough's vast architectural heritage. (The gallery happens to be located in one of those hidden treasures, a campus building that was Marcel Breuer's first project in the city.) The site, called simply Bronx Architecture, chronicles some 75 notable buildings scattered about the borough, ranging from the notable (the Bronx County Building, the Hall of Justice, the Kingsbridge Armory, new Yankee Stadium) to the obscure (Villa Charlotte Bronte, the Institute for Special Education, Williamsbridge Reservoir Keeper’s House). The site also contains thorough biographies of the architects behind these buildings, as well as profiles of 35 Bronx neighborhoods, walking tours, maps, teachers' guides, and—in case there was any doubt in Bronx Architecture's authority—a bibliography of 55 sources. It's a remarkable enterprise, and arguably unmatched in scope and style by anything in the other four boroughs, though it does have a predecessor: the gallery launched a similar site surveying the Bronx's public art in 2003. Should you be impressed enough to toast those behind Bronx Architecture, swing by the gallery tonight to celebrate its 25th anniversary, its current show, and the launching of the site. To which we say, "Cheers!"