Posts tagged with "MASS Design Group":

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Fringe Cities is a poignant study of urban renewal, and its aftermath, in the small-American city

The narrative of mid-century urban renewal is not unfamiliar; under the guise of slum clearance, vast tracts of America's architectural heritage were razed with entire communities (often of color) displaced and warehoused in deleterious expanses of public housing. There is no dearth of imagery or literature stemming from the era, ranging from Jane Jacobs's grassroots campaign against the all-powerful Robert Moses to the implosion of St. Louis's infamous Pruitt-Igoe tower blocks. However, often missing from dialogue on the subject is the integral role that federal policy and financing played in the reshaping of the American city, specifically outside of major metropolitan centers. Opened in early October at New York's Center for Architecture, the MASS Design Group-curated exhibition Fringe Cities: Legacies of Renewal in the Small American City, is an impressive historical and photographic survey examining the scope and rationale of urban renewal efforts across 100 "fringe" cities—defined as a small urban area with under 150,000 residents located at least 30 miles away from a major metropolitan center, which, are in many circumstances, still attempting to ameliorate conditions cemented by mid-century planning. The exhibition opens with a broad outline of federal urban policy over the course of the ongoing century, roughly beginning with programs associated with Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, then the plateau and decline of national funding and policy following Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society, and present day's irregular growth cycles, facilitated by lopsided regulation. Strengthening the linear narrative of the timeline is a collection of renderings and illustrations produced by contemporaneous architects and designers depicting idyllic post-clearance scenes, tools to convince a skeptical public of the supposed extensive benefits of urban renewal. The strongest curatorial tool at the initial juncture of the exhibition are aerial images of 42 of the MASS-identified "Fringe Cities," overlaid with blotches of red that highlight areas slated for demolition and reconstruction in the strain of automobile-centric developments and zoning. This method—which is similar to cartography appraising the damage of World War II bombing campaigns—effectively conveys the disproportionate scalar impact such efforts placed on small urban centers, which in many circumstances altered them beyond recognition within the span of a few years. For the purposes of the exhibition, MASS honed in on four specific case studies: Easton, Pennsylvania; Saginaw, Michigan; Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Poughkeepsie, New York. "Being urban in form but offset from more diverse economic centers, these places were particularly ill-equipped to design, administer, and implement meaningful redevelopment strategies, and they were less resilient economically to rebuild in its wake," said MASS Design Group associate Morgan O'Hara. "Urban America was not always as polarized as we see today, and it is an important narrative to understand these changes, and the role of both policy and design decisions in contributing to the disinvestment of these Fringe Cities." If the first floor of the exhibition is geared towards a top-down perspective of urban renewal, the second-half of Fringe Cities brings the topic to street-level with a collection of historic photographs of long lost downtowns juxtaposed with desolate contemporary scenes. One significant inclusion is that of Iwan Baan's extensive imagery from Poughkeepsie. More importantly, MASS effectively dives into the work that grass-roots organizations have done, in lieu of federal, state, or even municipal funding, reversing or at least halting the economic and demographic decline that the selected cities have experienced for decades. On this final note, MASS presents the current urban moment as both a challenge and opportunity for architects and designers that requires community engagement to avoid the pitfalls of heavy-handed planning. O'Hara concluded, "In order to accomplish this, it is imperative that designers reach beyond their precise contracted purview to create effective community partnerships, as an outgrowth of this critical understanding: that designers cannot understand or attend to the full range of local needs without embedded, long term community decision making." Fringe Cities: Legacies of Renewal in the Small American City Center for Architecture 536 LaGuardia New York, New York Through January 18, 2020
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Exhibit Columbus 2019 celebrates the value of good design and community

In a small Indiana town, a rich architectural legacy is celebrated with an annual exploration of architecture, art, design, and community. In its second exhibition run (it’s first in 2017) Exhibit Columbus features 18 site-responsive installations that use Columbus, Indiana’s heritage as inspiration and context while highlighting the role that community plays in growing a vibrant city. This year’s exhibition explores “good design” and “community,” a reference to the 1986 exhibition Good Design and the Community: Columbus, Indiana at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. The early exhibit championed town business leader and philanthropist J. Irwin Miller’s hometown pride by emphasizing the community’s process and involvement in building renowned architecture. As his community-based, activist approach resurges to mold this year’s theme, Exhibit Columbus becomes an architectural showcase aimed at doing good for the people. Bryony Roberts Studio’s Soft Civic is a complimentary showstopper to arguably the most civic site of the exhibition, Columbus’ City Hall, designed by Edward Charles Bassett of SOM (1981). The two cantilevered steel beams masked in brick veneer, generous lawn, and lengthy walkway toward a broad staircase frames the collection of colorful woven and steel structures. The installation articulates the many different vantage points afforded in civic life—play, performance, or protest; on the lawn, the steps, or at the front door. The solid brick planar facade that meets a clear glazed half-circle atrium fundamentally shapes the installation. These elements reveal layers of circles that slice (at an angle) and frame (vertically or horizontally) a new reading of the municipal building. The installation will offer programming opportunities for the community, including but not limited to a democracy day and youth summit with musical performances. An interview with Bryony Roberts in collaboration with Brooklyn-based textile workshop Powerhouse Arts describes the laborious process of weaving the large structures. (Courtesy Spirit of Space) Understorey, a project by Hans Tursak (MIT School of Architecture + Planning) and Viola Ago (the Ohio State University Knowlton School of Architecture), is an open-air vivarium, a place of life, built from a combination of off-the-shelf agricultural products and custom, digitally fabricated structural elements. Understorey is an ecological education center (like many of this year’s installations) that highlights a cross-section of southern Indiana’s geological specimens taken from quarries, forests, and urban sites. The pavilion is an architectural expression devoid of aesthetic neglect commonly seen in environmentally conscious design.  Corn is no surprise in Indiana. The leading crop covers one-quarter of the state and is traditionally processed as animal feed and ethanol. Though Boston and Kigali, Rwanda-based MASS Design Group surprised Hoosiers with an already familiar scene in Corn / Meal. What. From the street view, the installation looks like a standard, well-maintained miniature cornfield. Upon entry, maze-like corridors made of corn lead to a tangled serpentine picnic table within a dedicated open clearing. When read as an absurdist, formalist sculpture referencing local tropes such as corn and the always-communal picnic table, it’s actually one of the more successful installations. An interview with Caitlin Taylor, MASS Design Group’s Design Director, as she describes the depth of research for Corn / Meal and the need for education around food production. (Courtesy Spirit of Space) PienZa Sostenible, led by architect Carlos Zedillo Velasco and his brother Rodrigo Zedillo Velasco, present Las Abejas, a series of homes for bees. The project brings internationally-recognized Mexican architects, like Tatiana Bilbao Estudio and Rozana Montiel Arquitectos, to share their countries’ expertise as regional leaders of apiculture products worldwide. Located in a humble Dan Kiley landscape in front of Eero Saarinen’s Irwin Conference Center (1954) visitors are encouraged to consider the importance of bees everywhere in order to sustain our food and environment. Two remaining installations from the inaugural exhibition aren’t leftovers but more so savor-the-flavor of a less-didactic exhibition concerning architecture. Oyler Wu Collaborative’s all-white, tectonic pavilion, The Exchange, still notably stands in the plaza of the Irwin Conference Center, just moments away from PienZa Sostenible's bee homes. Nestled in a more intimate setting outside the William O. Hogue House, Formafantasma’s Window to Columbus originally pledged to display stories of materials that were used to define Washington Street and Columbus. Though, for the Good Design and the Community opening weekend, the significant structure displayed this year’s marketing material. It reminds us that Exhibit Columbus’s impact goes beyond any one installation as the program leaves a lasting impact on the downtown, and more importantly, how people live and play downtown.
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Theaster Gates, MASS Design Group among list of Chicago Architecture Biennial contributors

Theaster Gates, MASS Design Group, Wolff Architects, as well as Forensic Architecture and Invisible Institute are among the first wave of contributors announced for this fall’s 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial. The show, titled ...and other such storieswill be an expansive look into global projects that delve into how architecture relates to land, memory, rights, and civic participation. The initial list of participants, announced last week, features 51 artists, collectives, architects, and researches from 19 countries—only half of the soon-to-be full lineup of participants. According to Biennial Board Chairman Jack Guthman, the international showcase will have something for everyone, designers and Chicagoans alike. “The participants who will explore the significant issues raised by our curators will both challenge and entertain the Biennial’s audiences,” he said. Artistic Director Yesomi Umolu noted the broad range of contributors have backgrounds and projects that “resonate deeply” with the four curatorial areas previously laid out by the organization: “No Land Beyond,” “Appearances and Erasures,” “Rights and Reclamations,” and “Common Ground.” Capetown-based firm Wolff Architects, as well as local Chicago artist Theaster Gates, will present “reflections on landscapes of belonging,” while CAMP from Mumbai and New York’s Center for Spatial Research will uncover the political controversies behind contested spaces of memory. RMA Architects and DAAR, the studio helmed by Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti, will think about how architecture can act as a site of advocacy. Lastly, Construct Lab from Berlin and Adrian Blackwell of Toronto will “explore methodologies for intervening” in public space. Works on these topics and more will allow visitors the chance to interpret their own opinions about the ways in which architects advances or inhibits global stories of culture and history. The projects will be placed in the main exhibition at the Chicago Architecture Biennial, housed in the Chicago Cultural Center. The programming also includes broader, city-wide events and talks. You can read the full list of initial participants here.
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Hank Willis Thomas and MASS Design Group plan MLK and Coretta Scott King memorial

A monumental sculpture symbolizing the love and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Coretta Scott King will be erected in the historic Boston Common sometime in 2020, according to The Boston Globe. Designed by artist Hank Willis Thomas and MASS Design Group, The Embrace was chosen from a pool of impressive works honoring the beloved civil rights leaders; the 22-foot-high pair of clasped bronze arms rose above the fold. King Boston, the organization behind the memorial project, announced the winning design yesterday. Cochairman Paul English told The Globe the decision was near unanimous—both the art committee and the members of the public who viewed the proposal on display at various locations around town, agreed it should be built.   “The committee was really moved by it,” English said. “They thought it was iconic. People would come to see it and take pictures and share it. You could imagine people hugging each other next to it.” Not only did the selection committee and thousands of Bostonians consider The Embrace a moving work of art, the design would also be much less expensive and easier to construct than the other five finalists. Adam Pendleton and Adjaye Associates’ collaboration with Future/Pace and David Reinfurt would have brought an elongated steel walkway—part of which was cantilevered—into the park. Walter Hood’s project with Wodiczko + Bonder and Maryann Thompson Architects, The Ripple Effects, would have also significantly altered the landscape with a large, public plaza and terraced field. The Embrace is reminiscent of Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate (a.k.a The Bean) in Chicago's Millennium Park. People will be able to walk beneath the interlocked arms and gather in the public spaces surrounding the piece. It also provides a literal point of reflection for visitors and exists as a stand-alone sculpture that surprises but doesn’t overwhelm. According to a statement by King Boston, the sculpture and landscape call people toward empathy and action. ”Is there a more radical act of justice than love?” said Michael Murphy, founding principal and executive director of MASS Design Group. “The choice to love your neighbor, to love someone that is not yourself, to go into a community and act is the foundational seed of social justice. To us, there was no better way to honor the Kings’ legacy and advance collective action.” With such community support and government backing—Boston’s City Hall has already greenlighted the project, according to English—the group expects the project to be built fairly quickly. It’s likely to rise in conjunction with an already-planned restoration of Boston Common, reported The Globe. The nonprofit aims to raise up to $12 million for sculpture, which is likely to cost between $3 and $4 million. Some of the money raised will go toward the new King Center for Economic Justice in Roxbury, Massachusetts, as well as the local congregation of Twelfth Baptist Church where Dr. King preached and the couple first met. King Boston also plans to fund a 25-minute documentary on their love story and lives in Boston during the early 1950s. So far, $6 million have been raised.
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Miller Prize winners announced ahead of the Exhibit Columbus 2018 National Symposium

Exhibit Columbus has announced the winners of the 2018-2019 J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize competition. The five winning firms will be featured in the Docomomo US and Exhibit Columbus 2018 National Symposium, titled Design, Community, and Progressive Preservation, taking place September 26 through 29. Firms will then return on January 19 to present their design concepts to the community. Each firm is tasked with constructing site-responsive installations that interact with Columbus’s midcentury modern heritage, with the final works opening to the public on August 24, 2019. This is the second year that the Miller Prize has been awarded. Here are the five winning firms: Agency Landscape + Planning With work that ranges from the Chicago Riverwalk to a two-year examination of the post-Hurricane Sandy landscape, Cambridge-based Agency has a deep commitment to ecological and social mindfulness. Agency is currently leading the White River Vision Plan, a year-long strategic plan for redeveloping 58 miles of southern Indiana river. Bryony Roberts Studio New York-based Bryony Roberts Studio uses design to bring intangible heritage and social histories to contemporary audiences, often through distinctive collaborations. As a participant in the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial, Bryony Roberts brought the South Shore Drill Team to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Federal Center for an electrifying performance that used careful choreography to mirror the lines of the iconic modernist plaza. Frida Escobedo Studio Fresh off her commission to design the 2018 Serpentine Pavilion in London’s Kensington Gardens, Mexico City-based Frida Escobedo creates sophisticated structural forms using vernacular materials and methods, including concrete block, brise-soleil, and post and beam. MASS Design Group Based in Boston, and Kigali, Rwanda, non-profit MASS Design Group believes that architecture is never neutral, and that it has the power to heal. The firm’s work includes both research and design. This spring MASS Design Group unveiled the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. SO-IL With work that creates “structures that establish new cultures, institutions, and relationships,” New York-based SO-IL created L'air pour l'air for the second Chicago Architecture Biennial in 2017, a project that brought the firm to the Garfield Park Conservatory, where they encased an ensemble of wind instrument players in air-filtering mesh enclosures, designed to clean the air through breathing.
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Absence is made tangible at the new national memorial to lynching victims

Absence is not abstract. It is felt and perceived. Absence implicates all of us inasmuch as it confounds the very writing of our stories. To see absence is to have our limits revealed, not as if in a mirror, but in a manner that shows that we are entangled with distant tethers that keep our bodies, our histories, in check. Absence, when made visible, is not observed immediately. It takes time. The April 26 opening of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, is perhaps one such catalyst for the effacement of the visitor with respect to the racial terror that led to the loss of thousands of lives through lynching. Lynching victims who were burned alive, hanged, shot—murdered—in and along the towns and byways of our nation from 1877 until 1950, are documented in this memorial initiated by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). Such violence continues today in the form of excessive imprisonment; by the murders of black women and men by the police; by the enforcement of state-sanctioned economic violence. By crafting spaces in which the subtractive is both a tool and a frame, the design of this memorial signals the recuperative agency of building as a means to affect the erasable and irascible conditions that established and purvey hatred, fear, and ignorance in this country. Here, looking away is not conscionable, as it moves against the habitus of memory, where our own individual pasts intersect with the Past. That the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum are realized in this, the 50th anniversary of the Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, is indeed an extraordinary feat indebted to the efforts of many individuals that came before. However, I would be remiss in not reminding readers that in recent reportage, including The New York Times and Rolling Stone, there is scant mention of the architects. During the spectacle of the opening ceremony, EJI’s Executive Director, Bryan Stevenson, acknowledged builders, contractors, laborers, and “local” architects—but did not name the project architects, MASS Design Group. Only on the EJI website can we find mention that the Initiative had the “assistance” of MASS Design Group. It feels purposeful, and we are thus left to speculate. I am left wondering: Are architects supposed to fade away in the fashioning of a memorial? I can think of recent examples for which this is clearly not the case. What has been wrought in other locations, including Washington, D.C., Berlin, Johannesburg, New York City, and Birmingham, all speak through their authors. And, in varying degrees, formal aspects of each of these memorial spaces are present now in Montgomery. Memorials render ghosts. And Boston-based MASS Design’s work with the EJI on the design and building of this structure is no less haunted by the iniquities of American history. With distant views of limpid hills and a semiformal state capitol town center with its empty shops, deserted lots, 59 Confederate markers, and recent loft conversions, the Memorial for Peace and Justice is adjacent, without irony, to the storefront of the State of Alabama Office of Pardons and Paroles Day Reporting Center. From the street below, the memorial structure is partially indiscernible due to its horizontal profile cutting across the sightline, but it may also be read as an empty pedestal through and on which the lives of so many passed, passed away, disappeared. One climbs farther up the hill alongside a boundary wall upon which a series of chronological narratives is posted to convey the story of “Why here?” and “Why now?” The manifestations of slavery, of incipient racism that persist today, are described as a backdrop to an unfolding of both landscape and architecture as marked sites for unceasing brutality. We are soon confronted by a bronze sculpture of humans in chains by Kwame Akoto-Bamfo. The signs begin too high to be read easily and meet our eyes as we climb the hill. A sharp corner, and one rises again to the structure while unfortunately overlooking the conclusion of the memorial space one floor below. There is no fixed entrance, per se, except a momentary pause with a large fire extinguisher. Stepping onto a timber floor, one is immediately surrounded by a dense array of body-size steel casks hung from pipes that disappear into a paneled metal ceiling. One moves cautiously through a grid of “bleeding” Corten steel containers, each incised with the name of the county and names accompanied by dates, including those unknown, of the lynched. The floor gradually descends as the casks remain above our heads; their intact volumes remain whole. By moving downward, one returns into the ground. The horizon has been excised. Gravity is idle. A series of narratives printed on thin metal strips is hung in a similar manner to the initial chronologies, describing in the briefest of ways the events of individual lynchings. The blunt quotidian language, their facticity, arrests our movements. At the next corner, one is presented with two very large indictments. A cascade of water pushes across the adjacent wall, merging with, not obscuring, an extended text. The temperature changes. Two choices are apparent: Climb a ramp or stair into the center of the quadrangle or leave. The empty center, while perhaps disguised as a space of confrontation, is more like a cloister in which condemnation is subdued, internalized; here it is possible to see across through the casks while observing others. It is not a sanctum. Greeting one’s unceremonial departure from the memorial upon moving outside, another sliver of text is located across from the pipes and pumps of the interior waterfall. This is not as much a “door of no return,” as merely a way out. This non-exit merges with an unmarked landscape of horizontal metal casks, akin to those held inside the structure—a topology of loss. Despite being worrisome for those who might wish to touch one of the steel containers after a hot day, one walks between their seemingly geographic order(s) locating states and counties, and names. Farther on, a series of bronzes by Dana King, depicting Rosa Parks and her heroic companions leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott, intersects the path. A small circular garden of mushroom-like concrete stools is sited nearby and is unlike anything seen elsewhere, with no explanation as to its role. One moves across on pathways above, around, and below another bronze, this one by Hank Willis Thomas, spelling bodies of containment, of stability falling away. With the building of such thresholds for historical reckoning, the arc of our knowing also asserts unknowing; absence lingers. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum attest to our own entanglements with reconciliation and truth. Memorials, like museums, are structures that attempt to keep us in their grasp as long as possible, allowing for the disclosure of our interior selves with multiple worlds. Such “new worlds” are partially uncovered at the intersection of reflection and remembrance, yet allow for and point to the rupture of what our passages have been and continue to be.
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American Academy of Arts and Letters announces its 2018 Architecture Award winners

The American Academy of Arts and Letters, the honor society for architects, artists, writers, and composers in the U.S., has announced its 2018 Architecture Award winners. This year’s five chosen individuals and firms were whittled down from an initial pool of 32 by jurors Annabelle Selldorf (chair), Kenneth Frampton, Steven Holl, Thom Mayne, James Polshek, Billie Tsien (Academy president), and Tod Williams. The 2018 Arts and Letters Award in Architecture winners will receive $10,000, and are as follows: Brad Cloepfil, principal of the Portland and New York City-based Allied Works Architecture. In his jury statement, Kenneth Frampton said that Brad Cloepfil’s architecture is “exceptionally varied, with a wide range of material expression.” Allied Works has tackled a number of diverse projects as of late, ranging from the National Veterans Museum in Columbus, Ohio, to a stadium expansion in Portland. Boston’s MASS Design Group was cited for its sensitive projects that strengthen community ties. MASS “challenges architectural preconceptions,” Tod Williams said, and focuses on “how architecture might be used as a tool for healing.” “Architecture is inextricably united to social equity,” added Williams. Most recently the firm has drawn nationwide attention for its striking lynching memorial in Montgomery. Author, planner, and Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation professor Cassim Shepard was cited for his contributions to urbanism. Billie Tsien lauded Shepard for exploring “the unseen lesser-known city that we all inhabit” in her jury statement. Shepard is the founding editor of the Architectural League of New York’s Urban Omnibus, which examines the modern city through the lenses of justice, design, and urbanism. Most recently, Shepard has published the book Citymakers: the Culture and Craft of Practical Urbanism. Bookseller and architectural publisher William Stout “has nourished architecture culture for over forty years,” according to Steven Holl. William Stout Architectural Books, with locations in San Francisco and Richmond, California, highlights local work as well as essential texts. Chilean architect Smiljan Radic has won the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize, which awards $20,000 to architects of any nationality who have “made a significant contribution to architecture as an art.” Radic “creates strong atmospheric spaces that resonate deeply and transcend the visual,” said Annabelle Selldorf in her jury statement. Radic has been lauded for his clever forms and integration of the landscape into his projects. He was the youngest architect ever selected (at the time) to design a Serpentine Pavilion in 2014, and more recently, Radic was tapped to handle Chile’s contribution to the Vatican’s pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale.
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America's first memorial to victims of lynching opens in Montgomery

On April 26, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the first memorial in the U.S. dedicated to African American victims of lynching and continued discrimination, will open to the public in Montgomery, Alabama. The memorial, designed by Boston-based MASS Design Group, will open in tandem alongside The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, also located in Montgomery, which will chart the history of African American segregation from slavery to the present day. Both projects stem from the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a nonprofit group that works to right racial injustices, advocates for those in racially or economically segregated communities, and provides legal representation for the illegally arrested or abused. The memorial itself, located in the middle of six acres of hilltop in Montgomery, is a square-shaped, open-air pavilion dedicated to the more than 4,400 victims of lynching in America. Their names are inscribed across over 800 six-foot-tall, rectangular columns wrapped in Corten steel and hung from the ceiling of the memorial. Each of the columns represents a county where the lynchings listed took place, and replicas of each are located outside of the pavilion for their respective counties to come and claim; the columns left behind are meant to be a public reminder of which county has failed to engage with the memorial. Visitors just outside of the pavilion’s entrance will be confronted by a sculpture from Ghanian artist Kwame Akoto-Bamfo of a mother in chains, crying out while cradling a baby under her arm. A sculpture by Dana King dedicated to the women who kept the Montgomery Bus Boycott alive will also be located near the “town square” memorial. “Our nation’s history of racial injustice casts a shadow across the American landscape,” said EJI Director Bryan Stevenson. “This shadow cannot be lifted until we shine the light of truth on the destructive violence that shaped our nation, traumatized people of color, and compromised our commitment to the rule of law and to equal justice.” The Legacy Museum is only a 15-minute walk from the memorial, and the two-story, 11,000-square-foot brick building sits on a site that had historically been used to warehouse slaves. Inside, the museum will use videos, photography, and research materials to introduce visitors to first-hand accounts of the domestic slave trade. From there, sculptures from Titus Kaphar and Sanford Biggers, among other mixed-media works and photographs, will paint a portrait of life under enforced segregation in the Jim Crow South. Through a range of mediums including animation and paintings, the museum hopes to create a full timeline of racial segregation in America. According to the EJI, design and artistic partners for the museum also include Local Projects, Tim Lewis and TALA, Molly Crabapple, Orchid Création, Stink Studios, Human Pictures, HBO, and Google. The April 26 opening ceremony will be followed by several days of panels, presentations, and concerts at the museum.
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Architecture and Design Film Festival returns for the 9th year with 34 films

This year the Architecture & Design Film Festival (ADFF) returns to Cinépolis Chelsea for its ninth installment with 34 feature-length and short films. The lineup includes biopics about the life of revered architects Glenn Murcutt, Kevin Roche and Rem Koolhaas, as well as provocative thinkpieces about the design process. Today, the festival is hosting the world premiere of Made in Ilima, a film about a primary school and community center built in the Congo by 2017 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award winner, MASS Design Group.  The film documents the collective building process—leveraging local craft and ecological considerations. Following the screening, the co-founders of MASS Design, Michael Murphy and Alan Ricks, will sit down with film director Thatcher Bean for a Q&A to discuss the project. Other films include REM, a biopic about Rem Koolhas' life, working methods, philosophy and internal landscape; Glenn Murcutt: Spirit of Place, is a chronicle of filmmaker Catherine Hunter following Murcutt for nearly a decade as he undertook a rare public commission – a new mosque for an Islamic community in Melbourne; Aires Mateus: Matter, an exploration of the Portugese firm's conceptual work on place, bodies and matter; Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect, tells the life story of Roche, his philosophy of creating “a community for a modern society,” and his forward-thinking pursuit of creating green buildings before they became buzzworthy; and Designing Life: The Modernist Architecture of Albert C. Ledner, an in-depth exploration of Ledner’s journey from his early days as a post-WWII student of Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin to the present day where Ledner continues to work and innovate at the age of 93. You can find a list of the films and programming on the ADFF website. Screenings will run from November 1-5, 2017 at Cinépolis Chelsea, 260 West 23rd Street, NYC.
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Design for Memorial to Peace and Justice unveiled

In Montgomery, Alabama, a new museum and a memorial to victims of lynching—one of the first and the largest in the nation—are set to open in 2017. The Memorial to Peace and Justice, founded by the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) and designed in partnership with MASS Design Group, is reminiscent of a gallows, with hundreds of hanging stone slabs inscribed with the names of lynching victims. The EJI released a report last year documenting over 4,000 victims of lynchings between 1877 and 1950 and purchased six acres of hilltop land in Montgomery for the memorial.

Accompanying the memorial will be a museum, “From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration,” that will draw a parallel between slavery and our present-day criminal justice system. Set on the site of a warehouse where slaves were held before being sent to the market, the museum will focus on remembering the history of slavery as well as highlighting contemporary issues related to racial inequality, such as police brutality and wrongful convictions, through interactive displays, and archival footage, photographs, and documents.

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SXSW Eco announces 2016 Place by Design finalists

South by Southwest Eco (SXSW Eco), an environmentally- and socially-conscious event occurring alongside the more well-known South By Southwest music and technology gathering in Austin, Texas has released its list of this year’s 36 finalists for its public space design competition, Place by Design. The selected projects represent a diverse collection of emerging design practices, many with humanitarian-based approaches. Several finalists also have ties to the West Coast’s emerging public interest design scene. Applicants compete for funding to realize projects in six categories that aim to “rethink the potential of the places around us.” One of those teams, applying in the “Art + Interaction” category, is San Francisco-based Future Cities Lab, who aims to create a sculptural, interactive facade that translates the sound a light display. In the “Equity + Inclusion” category, MASS Design Group seeks to construct a new tuberculosis hospital to in Port-au-Prince, Haiti to replace a facility destroyed during that 2010 earthquake that devastated that country. Mass Design Group also has an entry in the “Resilience + Health” category: a proposed cholera treatment plant in Port-au-Prince that also serves as a water treatment site. River LA, a Los Angeles-based L.A. River advocacy group, is also vying for funding in the “Resilience + Health” category. Their L.A. River Index project is a Gehry Partners-aligned study of the river’s potential for an equitable and ecological future. In the “Revitalization” category, Olayami Dabl and his African Bead Museum are vying for funding against, among others, two Los Angeles-based design firms. The first is from LA-Más; their project provides urban design and business support services aimed at placemaking, pedestrianism, and economic revitalization along underserved business corridors in Los Angeles. The second is Alexis Rochas who has designed an interactive and tech-savvy public space in an underused scrap of land in Long Beach, California. In the “Speculative + Prototyping” category, San Francisco-based Jennifer Pattee’s Pop Up Fitness Hub proposes installing an brightly colored, outdoor workout space for public use in Hayes Valley atop an unused parking lot. Lastly, Seattle Design Nerds’ proposal in the “Urban Strategy + Civic Engagement” category seeks funding to engage the public in architecture and urban design through interactive inflatable spaces and augmented reality games.  Winners will be announced October 12, 2016, at the end of the SXSW Eco conference, during which finalists will present their proposals to a large panel consisting of design professionals, organizers, creatives, and philanthropists.
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MASS Design Group releases plans for a "Bauhaus of Africa"

The Boston-based nonprofit design firm MASS Design Group hopes to see the number of professional designers in Africa grow. To that end, the firm has unveiled a plan for an architecture and design school in Rwanda called the African Design Center. https://vimeo.com/139968413 Founded in 2010, MASS already has experience in developing areas around the world, including building a number of schools, medical clinics, and houses in sub-Saharan Africa and Haiti. Its latest project, the African Design Center, will also lie in the sub-Saharan area of Kigali, Rwanda, where the firm already has an office. Currently, the firm is raising money for the project with the aim of opening next year. The school will also teach outside of the design discipline with classes available for networking and business development. If a success, MASS will emulate the project in other areas, implementing more schools in the region and hopefully the continent. According to its website, MASS views sub-Saharan Africa as an area that is set for "unprecedented urban growth," and such investment will help develop the economy of the area. More importantly, the project provides "critical new infrastructure such as housing, schools, and clinics." MASS' Africa office also realized that the continent's growth requires creative services to design future hospitals, schools, and housing. Africa contributes less than one percent to the global creative economy, and it's hoped that the school will nurture the young designers who will form the new sub-Saharan Africa. MASS described the project as the "Bauhaus of Africa." MASS isn't the only firm delving into the fertile land of Rwanda. Recently Norman Foster announced a proposal for a drone station to supply emergency medical equipment and act as a form of trade route in the area.