Posts tagged with "Mark Wigley":

ARE WE HUMAN? The Design of the Species: 2 seconds, 2 days, 2 years, 200 years, 200,000 years

The exhibition ARE WE HUMAN? : The Design of the Species : 2 seconds, 2 days, 2 years, 200 years, 200,000 years will be on view at the Princeton University School of Architecture from November 6, 2017 through January 5, 2018. Curators Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley will give a presentation and gallery talk at 5:00pm on November 6th in the School of Architecture building. The installation is designed by Andres Jaque and the Office for Political Innovation, an international practice that explores material politics at the intersection of design, research and activism. The entire School of Architecture will be filled with a dense collage of overlapping works by architects, artists, designers, scientists, filmmakers, research groups and think tanks. The effect is a kaleidoscope of artistic, technical, philosophical, theoretical and ethical reflection on the intimate relation between “design” and “human.” It is the first time the exhibition will be shown in the United States. The exhibition is supplemented by a set of special installations prepared by the curators and a joint team of Princeton University and Columbia University students. Exhibition participants include Diller Scofidio + RenfroEyal Weizman and Forensic Architecture, Hito Steyerl, Marshmallow Laser Feast, MOS ArchitectsArmin LinkePhilipp Meuser, Galina BalashovaFrancois DallegretCenter for Land Use InterpretationLaura KurganOrkan Telhan, Lu Yang, Tom Keenan and Sohrab MohebbiLorenzo PezzaniCommon AccountsDaniel EisenbergJuan HerrerosSebastian SeungHet Nieuwe InstituutLucia AllaisJoyce Hsiang and Bimal MendisLydia KallipolitiAli KazmaAxel Kilian, Spyros Papapetros, V. Mitch McEwen, and Universal Space Program.
Placeholder Alt Text

Does design make us human?

Open for only a month, from October 22nd through November 20th, the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial was a quick look at an extremely expanded understanding of design. Far from a trade show of the latest in design objects or material innovations, Are We Human? The Design of the Species 2 seconds, 2 days, 2 years, 200 years, 200,000 years explored the relationship between what it is to design and what it means to be human. In order to provoke a response to this instigation, co-curators Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley set out eight interlinked propositions to which the participating 250 designers, architects, scholars, and scientists reacted:
  1. Design is always design of the human
  2. The Human is the designing animal
  3. Our species is completely suspended in endless layers of design
  4. Design radically expands human capability
  5. Design routinely constructs radical inequalities
  6. Design is even the design of neglect
  7. “Good Design” is an anesthetic
  8. Design without anesthetic asks urgent questions about our humanity
These propositions set up a standing provocation: What defines a human is the act of design. The resulting show investigated this claim, presenting evidence in support of, and questioning of, these eight statements. The array of work ranged from very physical infrastructures of resources, power, and movement around the world, to the ephemeral space of social media. The show specifically rejected the construct of looking at the immediate past and future, usually two years before and after a biennial, and instead looked back to the beginning of humanity and the path to its current state. The defined understanding of design presented by the show was nothing less than extreme in its scope, temporally and ideologically. The work of the participants was divided into four overlapping “clouds”: Designing the Body, Designing the Planet, Designing Life, and Designing Time. Together the show strove to present a worldview in which humans were at once defined by and inseparable from the things they design. In many cases, the curators and participants would not have to look far to find evidence to support their many investigations. Istanbul itself was leveraged repeatedly to enforce the narrative of the show. In one striking exhibit, a cast of hundreds of footprints, recently found during a subway excavation in the city, shows evidence of Neolithic humans ritually gathering in large groups, while all wearing shoes. A room away, a dance floor produced a space that highlights the much-misunderstood world of the Köçek, a sexually ambiguous class of dancers from Turkey’s recent history. In both cases, clothing was presented as an augmentation for either utility or performance, expanding the definition of the human condition. Such investigations continued through the show, looking into the human body and to its immediate relationship to the world. Over and over throughout the Biennial, the idea of human existence was defined by endless layers of design. Prosthetics, complex neural maps, medical pedagogy, and the body of Olympic athletes all highlighted the direct and indirect indications of design's relationship to the human body. Turkish gravestones, atomic testing sites, oil production infrastructure, and geopolitical gerrymandering, questioned society’s—and design's—relationship to the planet as a whole. As a whole, the Biennial felt neither cynical nor optimistic. Rather, it built an image of the world that, for good or for bad, was a construct of humanity. This image was less about dividing the world into artificial or natural, or destructive or constructive. Instead, it illuminated a world of facts and situations, each intertwined with a definition of what it means to be human. Often invoking the concept of the Anthropocene, the proposed geological age in which humans are the dominant influence on the world’s environment and climate, the show was unflinching in laying out a case for humans’ role in shaping every aspect of the world we live in. By broadening the topic and scope of the Biennial, Colomina and Wigley, admittedly, were attempting to questions the very role of all biennials. With the proliferation of biennials and triennials around the word, each one is undoubtedly compared to every other. The breadth of this show's topic set it in opposition those with very specific investigations as well as those events with loose or ambiguous themes. Yet despite the seemingly expansive vision of this show, its tightly curated thematic prompts and Andres Jaque’s subtle exhibition design held it together. The result was a biennial that allowed visitors to focus on whether they agreed or disagreed with the show's premise, rather than trying to figure out what the show was even about. A note must also be said about who actually went to this exhibition. While many biennials may attract a majority of visitors from around the world (but within the design field), Istanbul was decidedly attended by locals. The organizers and the curators knew well that the Istanbul Design Biennial, this being the third iteration, is mostly attended by Turkish residents. The country’s recent political situation has only exasperated this point. Some estimates put Turkey’s tourism numbers down by over 30% in the past year. At the same time, Turkey has taken on more than 2.5 million refugees from Syria. And though it may be hard to quantify exactly who is coming to the show, these facts felt somewhat fitting as part of Are We Human? The thoughts of shifting populations, global economic and political systems, all enforced the thesis of the unrelenting impact of humans on the world as a whole. While short in length, Are We Human? The Design of the Species 2 seconds, 2 days, 2 years, 200 years, 200,000 years, was big on vision. By just asking “are we human?” it opened up a dialogue that could be as short as “yes” or considerably protracted. In either case, it put forward that the key to any discussion of this topic is a relationship to, and the act of, design. In effect, it raised the discourse of design above mere products and objects while grounding it in the very fabric of humanity.
Placeholder Alt Text

2016 Istanbul Biennial announces participants and projects

The 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial has announced its participants and project titles. More than 70 projects are being produced for the exhibition entitled ARE WE HUMAN? : The Design of the Species: 2 seconds, 2 days, 2 years, 200 years, 200,000 years. Organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley are curating the show that will include “designers, architects, artists, theorists, choreographers, filmmakers, historians, archaeologists, scientists, labs, centers, institutes and NGOs.” The biennial will run from October 22nd through November 20th at five sites throughout the city of Istanbul. These venues include the Galata Greek Primary School, Studio-X Istanbul, Depo in Karaköy, Alt Art Space in Bomonti, and Istanbul Archaeological Museums in Sultanahmet. The work will also be divided into four “Clouds.” Themes for these “Clouds” are Designing the Body, Designing the Planet, Designing Life, and Designing Time. Each of them takes a look at the changing relationship of design and the world around us. The show will also include six curatorial interventions lead by Colomina and Wigley. The interventions are the work of Princeton and Columbia students who have been working in seminars for the past year. The interventions will be installed in the exhibition with the other participants' works. The range of participants, from five continents, range from individual practices to well-established design firms. The projects and the participants include: The Shepherd, Bager Akbay (Turkey) Mutant Space, Atif Akin (Turkey) Observer Affect / Observer Effect, Zeynep Çelik Alexander (Turkey), Vanessa Heddle, Elliott Sturtevant (Canada) Mixed Being, Lucia Allais (United Kingdom/Italy) Archaeology of Things Larger than Earth, Pedro Alonso & Hugo Palmarola (Chile) Milano Animal City, Stefano Boeri (Italy) Window Behaviorology, Atelier Bow-Wow / Yoshiharu Tsukamoto Lab. at Tokyo Institute of Technology / YKK AP Window Research Institute (Japan) Space Design by Galina Balashova, Galina Balashova (Russia), Philipp Meuser (Germany)  Fictional Humanisms: A Critical Reportage, Marco Brizzi & Davide Rapp (Italy) 1 Brain, 100 Billion Neurons, 100 Trillion connections, Brown Institute for Media Innovation, Center for Spatial Research with the Zuckerman Institute, Columbia University (USA) Texas City Landscan, Center for Land Use Interpretation (USA) Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo, Laura Kurgan (South Africa/USA) and the Center for Spatial Research (USA) The Immortal, Revital Cohen (United Kingdom), Tuur Van Balen (Belgium) Going Fluid: The Cosmetic Protocols of Gangnam, Common Accounts, Igor Bragado (Spain), Miles Gertler (Canada) Art Fiction, François Dallegret (Canada) Human Treasure, Tacita Dean (United Kingdom) Kontrollraum / Control Room, Thomas Demand (Germany) Unspoken, Diller Scofidio + Renfro (USA) World Brain: Automatism, Stéphane Dougoutin (France), Gwenola Wagon (Canada) The Unstable Object (II), Daniel Eisenberg (USA) You will not be able to do it, Keller Easterling (USA) The Designer Designed by the Humans, estudio Herreros (Spain) Portable Indo Pacific, Fake Industries Architectural Agonism and UTS (Spain/Australia) A Natural History of Human Rights, Forensic Architecture in collaboration with FIBAR: Baltasar Garzón, m7red and Irendra Radjawali (United Kingdom/Spain/Brazil/Argentina) City of Abstracts and Lectures from Improvisation Technologies, William Forsythe (Germany/USA) The Breaking Point, or The Paradox of Origins, Anselm Franke (Germany) Welcome to the Anthropocene, Globaïa (Canada) Space Debris 1957-2016, Stuart Grey (United Kingdom) 5TH HELENA, Mathew Hale (United Kingdom) 51Sprints, Het Nieuwe Instituut (Netherlands) City of 7 Billion, Joyce Hsiang, Bimal Mendis (USA) MUSSELxCHOIR, Natalie Jeremijenko (Australia) GUINEA PIGS; A Minor History of Engineered Man, Lydia Kallipoliti, Andreas Theodoridis (Greece/USA) Anatomy and Safe, Ali Kazma (Turkey) “It is obvious from the map,” Thomas Keenan (USA) and Sohrab Mohebbi (Iran), with Charles Heller (USA) and Lorenzo Pezzani (Italy) Embodied Computation, Axel Kilian (Germany) The Perfect Human, Jørgen Leth (Denmark) The Anthropophagic Body and the City: Flavio de Carvalho, Jose Lirá (Brazil) Open Future, The Living / Sculpting Evolution Group, MIT Media Lab (USA) Maropeng Acts I & II, Lesley Lokko (Ghana) Memex, Marshmallow Laser Feast, Analog, FBFX, Duologue (United Kingdom) Köçek Dance Floor, m-a-u-s-e-r (Germany/Turkey) Glitter Disaster, McEwen Studio (USA) The Institute of Isolation, Lucy McRae in collaboration with Lotje Sodderland (United Kingdom) Ines-table, Enric Miralles (Spain) & Benedetta Tagliabue (Italy) Manchas Mies, Domi Mora (Spain) An Unfinished Encyclopedia of Scale Figures Without Architecture / Model Furniture, MOS Architects (USA) Architektur / Räume / Gesten, Antoni Muntadas (Spain) Nine Islands: Matters Around Architecture, NEMESTUDIO, Neyran Turan & Mete Sonmez (Turkey) Please let me go, away…, New Territories / M4 with Pierre Huyghe (Thailand/France) Frederick Kiesler’s Magic Architecture: Caves, Animals, and Tools from the Prehistoric to the Atomic Era, Spyros Papapetros (Greece) A Media Archaeology of Ingenious Designs, Jussi Parikka (Finland), Ayhan Ayteş (Turkey) Objects of Daydreaming, PATTU, Cem Kozar, Işıl Ünal (Turkey) South Africa on the Cusp of Revolution, Martha Rosler (USA) Beirut Bombastic!, Rana Salam (Lebanon) White on White, Alfredo Thiermann & Ariel Bustamante (Chile) Spidernauts… Dark webs…,  Tomás Saraceno (Argentina) The Connectome: A New Dimension of Humanity, Seung Lab, H. Sebastion Seung & Amie R. Sterling (USA) The Visit, SO? (Turkey) Autonomy of Images, Hito Steyerl (Germany) Portable Person, Studio Works (USA) Archaeology of Violence (The Forest as Design), Paulo Tavares (Brazil) & Armin Linke (Germany) The Microbial Design Studio: 30-day Simit Diet, Orkan Telhan (Turkey) Museum of Oil—Deep Space and After Fire Territorial Agency (Italy/Finland/United Kingdom) Voyager—Humanity in Interstellar Space, Universal Space Program, Evangelos Kotsioris (Greece) and Rutger Huiberts (Netherlands) The Hand—The Whole Man in Miniature, Madelon Vriesendrop (Netherlands) Detox USA, Mark Wasiuta (Canada), Florencia Alvarez (Argentina) Information Fall-Out: Buckminster Fuller’s World Game, Mark Wasiuta (Canada), Adam Bandler (USA) Delusional Mandala, Lu Yang (China) Virtual Interior Istanbul, Annett Zinsmeister (Germany)
Placeholder Alt Text

Benjamin Prosky Named Executive Director of AIA New York

The AIA New York has named Architizer co-founder and minority owner Benjamin Prosky as its new Executive Director. He will step away from his role as Assistant Dean for Communications at Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD). Prosky has been overseeing events, publications, multimedia content and special projects since 2011. He will begin his duties at the AIA in early 2016. “It is a tremendous honor to serve as Executive Director of the AIANY and the Center for Architecture,” Prosky said in a statement. “I feel privileged to have the opportunity to expand the scope of both organizations—I look forward to engaging with the professional architects who are the backbone of the constituency, and also cultivating the broader public which, in the context of New York, recognizes the profound impact that design and the built environment have on the vitality of the city and all aspects of our lives."
Placeholder Alt Text

Amale Andraos named dean of Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation

Amale Andraos, principal of New York–based architecture firm WORKac, has been named dean of Columbia's Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), succeeding Mark Wigley. Currently on faculty at GSAPP, she has also taught at Princeton, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and the American University in Beirut. "Columbia is just an incredibly exciting place that's always been on the forefront of the profession," Andraos told AN. "It's an incredibly diverse and experimental place. I want to maintain and expand its role as a think tank for global practice." “An inspiring teacher, a respected colleague, and a pioneering practitioner whose innovative commissions in cities around the world have earned widespread admiration, Amale is a new leader among a rising generation of creative architects and designers of our physical environment,” said Columbia president Lee Bollinger in a statement. “She is just the kind of person who can further expand the role of the School as a center of interdisciplinary thinking across Columbia about how to develop a more just and sustainable society.” While Wigley was best known as a theorist, Andraos has balanced both teaching and practice. "We think of ourselves as a design research firm. For us teaching and practice inform one another," she said. WORKac has completed numerous projects including the Blaffer Museum in Houston, the Children's Museum of Arts in Manhattan, and the Edible School Yard project at P.S. 216 in Brooklyn. They won the MoMA P.S. 1 Young Architects Program in 2008. The firm is currently working on a conference center in Libreville, Gabon and they recently completed a master plan for seven new university campuses in China. In a profession that is still plagued by diversity issues and gender disparities, Andraos is one of an increasing number of women deans and directors. Running a school as prominent as Columbia, though, she will arguably be one of the most influential women in American architecture.
Placeholder Alt Text

Revolving Dean Door: Schools Coast to Coast In Search of New Leadership

There is a rumor making its way around the West Coast that Thom Mayne may have more than a new building in New York. He may be headed east to become dean of Columbia University, replacing the departing Mark Wigley. But we have also heard—despite his protests that he is happy sailing to Catalina—that Greg Lynn may also be interested in the Morningside Heights position. It could be that Lynn would join his wife, Sylvia Lavin, who has long coveted an East Coast deanship. How about if Mark Wigley and MoMA’s departing Barry Bergdoll simply swap positions? There seem to be no end to the rumors of who may be filling one of the vacant deans posts at Cooper Union, Columbia, California College of the Arts in San Francisco, Cranbrook, or the University of Kentucky. We hear that Cooper Union is assembling names and has created a short list (who would want that job now?) that includes the names of several current deans as well as alumnus Daniel Libeskind and philosopher poet Peter Lynch. Then what will happen in the next two years when deanships become available at Penn Design, Yale, and Sci-Arc? Now that Aaron Betsky has left parochial Cincinnati he may be looking for a more hospitable place to work.
Placeholder Alt Text

Wigley Steps Down as Dean of Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture

Mark Wigley (Courtesy Columbia University) Mark Wigley, pictured, is stepping down as Dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, a role that he has held for the past decade. Wigley, a New Zealand–born architect and author, will continue his position through the academic year. Columbia’s president, Lee C. Bollinger, made the announcement through email, affirming that “in every context, [Wigley] has represented the School and the institution in ways that make us all proud to be part of such a vibrant place.” (Photo: Courtesy Columbia)
Placeholder Alt Text

Decon Artists: Wigley, Tschumi, Eisenman Reflect on MoMA’s Landmark “Deconstructivist Architecture” Exhibit

On January 22, Mark Wigley, Bernard Tschumi, and Peter Eisenman took the stage in MoMA’s theater to reflect upon Deconstructivist Architecture, the landmark 1988 exhibit curated by Wigley and Philip Johnson. The press release at the time described the featured architects—including Coop Himmelblau, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, and Daniel Libeskind, along with Tschumi and Eisenman­—as “obsessed with diagonals, arcs, and warped plans.” In a where-are-they-now moment, Wigley said, “It occurred to me that only Daniel Libeskind thought the show was about the future, and he still seems to be designing for the show, and that seems to be not a good idea.” And the sniping didn’t stop there. Eisenman, despite refusing to hold the microphone to his mouth, could be overheard saying what kind of exhibit he would—or rather, wouldn’t—do, if given the chance: “Well, it wouldn’t be like the biennale of last fall, which was sort of a discount supermarket of everything that was going.” “Including you,” zinged Wigley.
Placeholder Alt Text

What Is NY-LON? Mark Wigley and Brett Steele On the New York-London Axis

"NY-LON" is an annual series of discussions at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP) about the transfer of ideas along the New York-London axis.  In this particular conversation, Brett Steele, director of London's Architectural Association (AA), and Mark Wigley, dean of New York's GSAPP, talked about the threads that connect the two cities, what that means for architectural discourse, and how the connection has evolved over time. Steele began with an amusing comparison of the stereotypes of both cities, starting with Woody Allens famous take, "Don’t you see? The rest of the country looks upon New York like we’re left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers? I think of us that way sometimes and I live here." As for London, Oscar Wilde said it best: “The man who can dominate a London dinner-table can dominate the world.” But these assumptions, Steele posited, are now mostly synthetic and based on narratives driven by marketing. So how does architectural discourse flow from London to New York and vice-versa? Imperialism loosely defined the trans-atlantic exchange of ideas before globalization. Columbia was originally founded to promote the proliferation of European-style education in America. In the 1950s, Reyner Banham and the New Brutalists in London influenced Gerhard Kallman, the young German architect who studied in London at the AA.  Kallman made his way to New York and Columbia, where he and another British architect, Michael McKinnell, would build the infamous Boston City Hall, a Brutalist icon.  In a similar exchange, Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, built New York's Lever House, one of the first Modernist skyscrapers for UniLever, a London-based company.  Educators, such as Bernard Tschumi and Alvin Boyarsky, moved from the AA to Columbia, also helping bring experimental architectural ideas and discourse to New York. Today's NY-LON exchange is more complex, evidenced by the United States' influence on England's foreign policy in the Bush/Blair years. The "Occupy" movement has similarly crossed between New York and London in both directions. Today, Steele said, the AA serves "as a mechanism for the converging and moving of bodies.  Not in a traditional sense of directional transmission, but of allowing different people to converse." It is these wierd and accidental interactions which both Wigley and Steele are interested in. Moving Forward, the panel asserted that the continued influence of New York and London is questionable. Wigley made an interesting remark that New York and London will play no role in the future of cities. In the experiment of rapid urbanization in places like China and India, Wigley feels that America and Europe are like parents, quaint and out-dated.  In an era of globalization, these formerly imperial locations have become "provincial." But Steele made "a plea for continued exceptionalism," pushing for the continued relevance of New York and London's unique ideology. As the west continues to be the center of markets, both financial and intellectual, NY-LON's influence will be in the delivery of known models, but also in facilitating the accidental transmission of ideas and the interesting exchanges that take place in auxillary locations, such as Columbia's Studio-X or the AA's Visiting School, both of which serve as places, dispersed around the world, for the exchange of ideas, and possibly the future of education. Are New York and London "provincial" locations which serve only to facilitate accidental exchange of ideas around the globe? What is the world coming to?
Placeholder Alt Text

Persistence of Plastics at Columbia′s GSAPP

The first panel of this week's conference at Columbia's GSAPP, "Permanent Change: Plastics in Architecture and Engineering," got down to business a few minutes late on Thursday morning. After a brief welcome, Dean Mark Wigley ceded the floor to Michael Bell, the first speaker in the line-up for "The Emergence of Polymers: Natural Material--Industrial Material." But the pace picked up as Bell and subsequent presenters took listeners on an intense romp through the role of plastics in architectural history, providing background for the nine panels to follow through Friday evening. While each presentation had a distinctly different focus, there were a few standby slides that popped up in more than one powerpoint. The Vinylite House from the Chicago World's Fair of 1933 made repeat appearances, the Smithson's House of Tomorrow got props from more than one presenter, and Mansanto's House of the Future at Disneyland took the prize for most mentions. We got a chance to sit down with one presenter after the panel discussion. Billie Faircloth is the research director at KieranTimerberlake in Philadelphia. In her presentation she discussed sifting through more than 75 years worth of architecture journals. "I was interested in understanding how a material emerges as a building material," she said. "And with plastic it was possible because of its relatively short history, unlike masonry." Faircloth scoured library bookshelves and her own collection of trade journals. She used a "transect" method of collecting data. For a scientist studying a particular species in the field, transecting means that the researcher maintains a fixed path to observe the number of times the species appears. In this case, the path was paved with twelve architectural journals. "The only way to track this was through the architectural press and journals," she said. "I thought of them as a set of evidence. One can get a front row seat to a very narrow venue." The first mention of plastic was in a journal from 1933. Journals from 1954 to the early 1960s yielded the most data, as by that time the National Academy of Sciences was pushing for research on plastic use within the field of architecture. MIT, the University of Michigan, Illinois Institute of Technology and Washington University in St. Louis all held conferences on the subject and the architectural press was on hand. The variety of plastics in Faircloth’s study included dozens of trade names and distinct chemical compositions, but all fell under the deceptively simple moniker: plastics. “They’re really thousands of materials, but for convenience we use only one word,” she said. For the early period of the study, only 25 varieties of plastics were named; by the early 21st century, that number ballooned to 134. But alongside all the cross-references and transects (all beautifully mapped), Faircloth began tracking repeated words and phrases. She compiled yet another list. “Three phrases were repeated, no matter time or disposition of the author,” she said. “'Plastics are difficult to decipher.' 'Plastics are not substitute materials.' 'Plastics are the future.'”
Placeholder Alt Text

What Were You Thinking, Mr. Foster?

Last night, I was lucky enough to enjoy assorted swells (but not very many architects) at the Hearst building for a screening of the enigmatic “How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?", a film devoted to his lordship’s extravagantly photogenic architecture and life of work. Or so it looks in this approximately 90 minute film which sweeps us from the Engadin Alps where Foster annually plows through a 26-mile mile cross-country ski marathon in tight black lycra with some 14,000 others to his redbrick childhood home quite literally on the wrong side of the tracks in Manchester to his current home in a Swiss villa, spectacularly void of human touches, to his 1,000-plus strong office in London to the early Sainsbury Centre; the Swiss Re gherkin; the British Museum Great Court; the Berlin Reichstag, etc, etc, and of course, the Hong Kong Beijing Airport that is the largest building on earth as narrator Deyan Sudjic intones mellifluously. (The trailor below provides but a morsel of this delight.) Many of his buildings are seen as if from the wing of a Cessna gliding overhead—especially the great dinosaur-scaled Millau Viaduct in France—with the nice touch of swelling slow-mo clouds, and almost as if Foster himself were at the controls. And possibly he was, as we learn that he is quite the speed and height freak.  All is accompanied by an original, also very swelling, score performed by the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra. The cocktail party was not so dizzying with guests including Cesar Pelli, Rafael Viñoly, Vishaan Chakrabarti, Mark Wigley, Beatriz  Colomina, Bob Stern, and Paul Goldberger who after the film said he had no recall whatsoever of where or when he was filmed speaking so glowingly of the Hearst tower. Pelli remembered exactly when he first met Foster in the 70s, when he was the partner in charge of design at Victor Gruen and Foster insisted on a meeting. Meanwhile, Foster smiled as graciously and blankly as the many on-hand socialites known primarily to Lady Foster, who produced the film. When asked about the film, Foster said he was amazed that it was so deep in detail. Agreed! And then we were all called into the auditorium where Lady Foster by way of introduction to “How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?” said: “And we were able to follow Foster closely for three years!” As his wife, I should hope so. And, oh yes, the title comes from a question Buckminster Fuller, a mentor of sorts for Foster in the 70s, asked on visiting his Faber headquarters in Ipswich many years ago.  Apparently it weighed quite a few tons. And for one night of fun, so did his film.
Placeholder Alt Text

Man of Metal

Last night Rafael Moneo, Madrid-based architect and Harvard Graduate School of Design professor, kicked off Columbia’s third annual conference on architecture, engineering, and materials with a keynote lecture on his Northwest Corner Building, a new interdisciplinary science facility between Chandler and Pupin halls. This year’s conference is titled Post Ductility: Metals in Architecture and Engineering, and though Moneo’s building isn’t scheduled to be completed until the fall of next year, there may not have been a better time to discuss its materials or its contribution to the campus. Unfinished, the building can be seen as the engineering marvel that it is, with 300 tons of structural trusses enabling it to float above the gym beneath it. (Here's a video we posted of them being installed.) Fitting neatly with the conference’s theme, Moneo’s discussion of interpreting what McKim, Mead, and White would have wanted for a New York campus in this century presented the building as less of a departure and more of an entrance. To critics who would say the building doesn’t meld with the university’s architecture, he cautioned, “Use of a material doesn’t guarantee the true continuity you are looking for.” The Post Ductility conference runs through Friday and will conclude with a discussion by GSAPP dean Mark Wigley, and Werner Sobek, Steven Holl, and Matthias Schuler. Next year's conference theme is slated to be Polymers: Plastics in Architecture and Engineering.