Posts tagged with "Massachusetts":

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Renovations underway to help MASS MoCA become the nation's largest contemporary art museum

MASS MoCA's rambling campus in the former factory town of North Adams, Massachusetts, has been 25 years in the making, and is now entering its third phase of development, starting with the rehabilitation of Building Six, a 120,000-square-foot space that's able to be flexibly programmed to create "Museums within the Museum." A collection of long-term exhibitions, featuring the work of James Turrell, Laurie Anderson, Jenny Holzer, Robert Rauschenberg, and Louise Bourgeois, is driving Bruner/Cott's renovation of the 19th century structure, which will also include rehearsal space and instrument gallery for Gunnar Schonbeck's Bang on a Can as well as a green room, event space, and art storage. The impressive scale of the three-story addition, with its one-acre floor plate, provides ample space to house these micro museums. The floor plans reveal that seven of Turrell's "works in light" will be presented in different nooks on the ground floor, the remaining two will be found on the second level, along with Bourgeois' sculptures and a rotating selection of works by Rauschenberg, which will also occupy space on the third floor, and include his 52-panel, The ¼ mile or 2 Furlong Piece. Dedicated areas for Bang on a Can, Jenny Holzer exhibition space, and Laurie Anderson's studio, gallery, and living archive will all be located on the third floor as well. The renovation will also allow the firm to develop better wayfinding throughout the campus and connectivity to the North Adams downtown business district. Building 6 is slated to be open to the public by 2017. Next up on the agenda is the repurposing of buildings 12 and 26/34 which will be used to exhibit other independent collections. When phase three is complete, MASS MoCA will take the title of largest contemporary art museum in the U.S.
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High-Tech History by Hacin + Associates

Innovation center's corrugated metal envelope evokes Boston's seagoing past.

Commissioned to design District Hall, the centerpiece of Boston's emerging Innovation District, Hacin + Associates found themselves in a unique situation. "There was no context," recalled design team member Matthew Arnold. "We were one of the first buildings down there; we had to build our own story." To fill the gap, the architects looked to the site's history. "In the old days, goods came from around the world to the Boston seaport, then were distributed throughout the United States," said founding principal David Hacin. "We were thinking that this is analogous to an innovation center: ideas are born in this place, then distributed around the world." Wrapped in corrugated metal punctuated by strategic glazing, its two volumes informed by nautical and railroad architecture, District Hall captures both the glory of Boston's seagoing past and the promise of its high-tech future. "The big idea behind District Hall was this two-part building," explained Arnold. A bifurcated design served several purposes simultaneously. First, it allowed the architects to bring a different architectural expression to each side of the program. The larger, more sculptural volume, angled to define the edge of a planned park, acts more like a public space, housing an auditorium and restaurant. The lower, rectangular wing of the building, which is oriented to the existing street grid, contains the innovation center. Second, the two-part form complemented the project's tight budget. "The lower portion of the building didn't require the same level of ceiling heights" as did the auditorium/restaurant space, said Hacin. "We were trying to build volume where we needed it, and not where we didn't need it." On a conceptual level, the bifurcation taps into two elements of the city's past. The taller volume's swooping profile was inspired by nautical architecture, while the lower wing evokes the boxy order of a train yard.
  • Facade Manufacturer Morin Corp. (corrugated metal), Reynobond (flat metal trim)
  • Architects Hacin + Associates
  • Facade Installer Ipswich Bay Glass
  • Location Boston, MA
  • Date of Completion 2013
  • System corrugated metal with flat metal trim and low-e glazing
  • Products Morin Corp. corrugated metal, Reynobond panels, Kawneer 1600UT Curtain Wall System
District Hall's corrugated metal facade further emphasizes the building's dual identity. "We found this corrugated material to be very intriguing," said Arnold. "It's related to nautical sheds and train cars." Other corrugated facades have begun popping up around Boston, noted Hacin. "But they've used it for the industrial aesthetic, with no real idea behind it. It was kind of cheap, industrial, and cool, but that's as far as it went." Hacin + Associates instead deployed the material as a storytelling device, choosing two different patterns and colors to continue the narrative embodied in the building's form. A shimmering silver metal extruded in a sine wave pattern encloses District Hall's multipurpose wing, while the innovation center is wrapped in matte black with a more squared-off profile. In addition, the architects used flat white trim material to suggest three-dimensionality. "We developed a rationale for how to treat the facade details," explained design team member Scott Thompson. "Where we cut into [the corrugated metal], we treated it as if it was a solid with a different center." The architects minimized glazing in part for budget reasons. "Rather than having lots of windows scattered around, we decided to concentrate them in key locations: at the restaurant, on the corner," said Hacin. "It really is a showcase of the facade material. Sometimes it's about the windows, but in this case the facade material is sculptural—you can see this especially on the silvery volume." The conservative approach to glazing also helps reduce thermal gain. The architects primarily relied on tried and true methods, such as placing few windows on the south-facing facade, and setting the west-side windows back several feet, to meet efficiency goals. "We were really just trying to get the most out of conventional technologies," said Thompson. Ultimately, said Hacin, the true environmental test for District Hall will be whether it is razed in a decade, as planned, or whether it proves its usefulness as a long-term fixture of Boston's Innovation District. "It was built to be a ten-year building," he said. "But my hope is that it will continue to be successful, and that it will become part of the character of this neighborhood—part of what people love about it—in which case there will be no reason to remove it. That would be the most sustainable outcome of all."
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Boston mayor wants ideas to overhaul the city's windswept City Hall Plaza

If Boston City Hall were a celebrity, it might be a fixture on tabloid “Worst Dressed” lists. The Brutalist building elicits strong sentiments from architectural observers and everyday citizens alike, but most agree the City Hall Plaza could use some sprucing up. In his inaugural State of the City address Mayor Marty Walsh called on residents to help him reimagine the barren, 11-acre brick expanse. Boston City Hall Plaza is an inductee into Project for Public Spaces’ "Hall of Shame" and rated on par with Barbie’s Dream House by California Home and Design. But perhaps the city can help elevate the windswept space. Even in a city replete with 18th-century Georgian-style churches, the plaza, built in the 1960s, has long been an architectural bane. Walsh’s administration has spruced up the interior somewhat, revamping the 3rd floor mezzanine and installing the Stairs of Fabulousness by artist Liz Lamanche to inject a sorely needed pop of color, but the Brutalist face of the building belies these improvements. The administration has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to gather the data required to take concepts from the drawing board to actualization. Last year, AN reported the municipality’s master plan for revitalization designed by Utile Architecture + Planning with Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architecture, but other than the replacement of the bunker-like Government Center subway station with a sleek steel-and-glass exterior, little else has been done, notes local news site Bostinno. Other plans announced last year involved replacing a labyrinth of staircases with sloped walkways to ease access to City Hall from the subway station, installing seating, and resolving frequent flooding by planting trees in an open-joint permeable brick paving system to simultaneously green the concrete expanse. Big players the likes of landscape architecture firm Halvorson Design and architecture and engineering firm HDR had signed on. This year, Mayor Walsh’s administration is sizing up plans for a city-sponsored seasonal skating rink to be named “Frozen Harbor” as well as a 20,000-square-foot, glass-enclosed restaurant called “Polar Bar”, according to Boston Herald. Officials have not made headway with securing permits and no project costs or plans have been put forward yet.
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Boston wants to build the most walkable Olympics ever if its selected to host the 2024 games

As you’ve probably heard by now, Boston blew past the likes of Los Angeles and San Francisco to be selected as the United States' bid city for the 2024 Summer Olympics. With the announcement official, Boston 2024, the private nonprofit spearheading the bid, has publicly released the presentation it gave to the Olympic Committee back in December. Boston public radio station WBUR reported that David Manfredi, of the Boston-based Elkus Manfredi, is co-chairing the bid’s planning committee and walked through the team's presentation last week. Manfredi reportedly said that Boston 2024’s planning goal is to make the games the most walkable Olympics of all time. To that end, 28 out of 33 venues are within about a six mile radius. There is also the “Olympic Boulevard” which serves as the “pedestrian spine” between many of the facilities. The overall plan has two main clusters of facilities, one near the water and the other around some of Boston’s most famous universities including Boston University, MIT, and Harvard. Take a look at the conceptual renderings below to get a sense of what could be coming to Boston in 2024. That is, if Boston can fend off its international competitors.
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Digital Incan Masonry by Matter Design

Architects update pre-Columbian building method with modern tools and materials.

Matter Design's latest installation, Round Room (on display at MIT's Keller Gallery last fall) was born of a "marriage" between two of the firm's ongoing interests, explained co-founder Brandon Clifford. First, Clifford and partner Wes McGee had long hoped to work with Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC). Clifford, moreover, had been impressed during a trip to Cuzco by the Incan wedge method of masonry construction, in which precisely-carved stones are aligned on their front face, then backfilled with mortar. "This seemed like a tremendously rational way of building," he said. "Ever since then we had been wanting to do a project that translates that process into digital design." With Round Room, designed and fabricated in cooperation with Quarra Stone, Matter Design did just that. Though inspired by pre-Columbian building practices, the installation firmly situates the wedge method in the digital age. Clifford and McGee began by building a rough prototype, a six-component section resembling a half-dome. "We knew that we were going to build something that was round," said Clifford. "Not a sphere, but something that has slow changes in geometry." By focusing on curved spaces, the designers were already pushing the limits of the wedge method, historically limited to two-dimensional applications. With information gleaned from their prototyping session—including the general dimensions of individual units—they worked through a series of models in Grasshopper and Kangaroo, leaning on calculations developed for an earlier project, La Voûte de LeFevre. Clifford and McGee also visited Quarra Stone's Wisconsin facility. The trip "allowed us to get a feeling for where they were going to have problems with the geometry, and make changes," said McGee. "We were able to step in as consultant with respect to applying their tools."
  • Fabricator Quarra Stone
  • Designers Matter Design
  • Location Cambridge, MA
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • Material AAC, plaster
  • Process prototyping, Grasshopper, Kangaroo, robotic carving, shaving, plastering
Using a water-fed robotic arm, Quarra Stone cut the AAC components—no simple feat. "One critical translation from the Incan technique was the fact that the front edge aligns, but the backwards taper allows for mortar to be packed in," explained McGee. "[The blocks] are machined on five sides." Round Room's components were then shipped to Cambridge and assembled on site by a team of students, including Myung Duk Chung, Sixto Cordero, Patrick Evan Little, Chris Martin, Dave Miranowski, David Moses, Alexis Sablone, and Luisel Mayas. (Austin Smith also assisted throughout the project; Simpson Gumpertz & Heger acted as structural consultants.) The installation team placed the blocks, used scrapers to remove any excess AAC from the front (interior) edge, then piped plaster into the wedge-shaped gap on the back (exterior) side. "Though it was a digital fabrication process, the assembly was quite a craft," observed Clifford. The collaboration with Quarra Stone was a first for Matter Design, which had both designed and built all of its earlier projects. "It was beneficial for us to understand the nuances of what they had to deal with on a daily basis," said Clifford. In fact, the relationship was so successful that Clifford and McGee are continuing it, with a fellowship that will send two researchers to the Wisconsin fabricators. "It's an area we're going to continue working in pretty heavily," said McGee. "It's an opportunity to interrogate this information exchange between designers and fabricators at a higher level."
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On View> The Boston Society of Architects digs into the future of typography in new exhibition

  Stereotype: New directions in typography The Boston Society of Architects 290 Congress Street, Suite 200 Boston, MA Through May 25 The Boston Society of Architects (BSA) is currently exploring the boundaries and possibilities of traditional typography with an exhibition called Stereotype: New directions in typography. To delve into the future of the form—and to raise questions about what is next for it—the BSA is presenting works from 14 up-and-coming and established designers from around the world.   “By exploring the opportunities at the intersection of technology and design, this new breed of artists is expanding the boundaries of traditional typography and integrating elements from the fields of animation, craft, performance, nanoscience, and graffiti into their work,” said the BSA in a statement. To push past a conventional understanding of typography as purely two-dimensional, the exhibition incorporates “time, movement, and the third dimension.”
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New Buildings Institute catalogues the nation's net-zero buildings

The Vancouver-based New Buildings Institute (NBI) tracks energy efficient built work, and their 2014 update, “Getting to Zero”, provides a snapshot of the emerging U.S. market for net-zero buildings—those are structures that use no more energy than they can gather on site. In the United States, California leads in the number of low and zero energy projects with 58, followed by Oregon (18), Colorado (17), Washington (16), Virginia (12), Massachusetts (11), Florida (10), Pennsylvania (10), Illinois (8), North Carolina (8), and New York (8). NBI also compiled a database of all their buildings. They say architects and developers interested in pursuing net-zero design could find inspiration there, searching according to their local climate and/or building characteristics. The database includes energy-efficient and high-performance buildings that are not net-zero, as well. Though the trend has succeeded in garnering attention and excitement among many designers, true net-zero buildings remain elusive in the built environment. So far NBI has only certified 37 buildings as net-zero. That ranking is based on performance—each building underwent a review of at least 12 months of measured energy use data. If piece-meal projects aren't yet adding up to a groundswell of net-zero design, NBI is also pushing systemic change—rigorous energy efficiency standards recently adopted in Illinois took cues from the group's Core Performance Guide.
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Plans released for the largest energy-positive commercial building on the east coast

Behnisch Architekten has big, green aspirations for its latest project, the EpiCenter, fittingly located in Boston’s Innovation District, the burgeoning neighborhood designed for such far-reaching goals. The firm just unveiled plans for a new expanded headquarters for the non-profit, Artists for Humanity (AFH), an organization dedicated to helping underserved youth through paid employment opportunities in the arts. According to Behnisch, the addition will make the existing LEED Platinum certified building—the city’s first—designed by local firm Arrrowstreet, even greener, with the hope of becoming the largest energy positive commercial building on the East Coast. The building already was an AIA COTE Top Ten winner. The expansion will add 63,500 square feet of space to the original building to accommodate more areas for the young artists as well as larger galleries and new studios. A retail store and café will overlook a new 1.5-acre park. The firm will employ a number of tactics to minimize the building’s carbon footprint, including the use of recycled and locally sourced materials, passive solar strategies to maximize daylight, specific type of glass to mitigate solar heat gain, a heat recovery system, and storm water management. To send energy back to the grid, and achieve its energy positive target, the firm will implement different solutions to generate its own electricity such as mounting photovoltaic arrays and utilizing geothermal production. While the design is still in its preliminary stage, the building is slated to open in November 2016.
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Radlab Makes Music with Moiré

Undulating birch walls create pockets of privacy in an apartment building lobby.

When Boston design and fabrication firm Radlab began work on Clefs Moiré, the permanent installation in the lobby of One North of Boston in Chelsea, Massachusetts, they had relatively little to go on. They knew that the apartment building's developer wanted a pair of walls of a certain size to activate the lobby space, but that was about it. "Normally we get more information, so we can come up with a story—a concept based on the building and its requirement," said Radlab's Matt Trimble. "For this we pulled back and said, we have an opportunity to be a little more abstract about how we approach this conceptually." Inspired by moiré patterning and a harpsichord composition by J.S. Bach, the team designed and built two slatted birch walls whose undulating surfaces embody a dialog between transparency and opacity. The client's interest in achieving moments of privacy within a public space led Radlab to moiré patterning, the phenomenon in which a third pattern emerges when two other semi-transparent patterns are superimposed on one another. Trimble compares the moiré effect to standing in a cornfield. "It's not until that moment when you look at it from the perpendicular that you see the rows of corn," he said. "When you look to either side, the crossing prevents you from seeing depths." The designers decided to think about the two walls as a single volume that would later be split. "There's this potential for reading it as a single wall when you look at it from different perspectives," explained Trimble. "This made sense because the project is about viewpoint. If you're perpendicular to the wall, you see straight through it." Radlab began with a traditional approach to moiré patterning, playing with identical vertical components set askew to one another. Then they looked at J.S. Bach's Partita No. 2 in B-flat Major: Gigue. Bach's challenging composition requires the performer to cross his or her hands, the left hand playing the treble clef while the right hand plays the bass. "That became an inspiration for a way to structure and organize the two walls," said Trimble. "To think of one as being the result of a bass set of wavelengths, and the other as a treble set." The designers realized that they could modulate the metaphorical wavelengths across both the vertical and horizontal sections to create an interesting, and varied, third element. "That's where the Gigue became influential," said Trimble. "It gave us a way to create a rhythm in the wall that would pace itself."
  • Fabricator Radlab
  • Designers Radlab, Paul Kassabian (structural engineering)
  • Location Chelsea, MA
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • Material birch
  • Process drawing, modeling, Rhino, Grasshopper, CNC milling, hanging, varnishing, gluing, tilting
The team relied heavily on Rhino and Grasshopper both to design the installation and to plan fabrication. "We would create various iterations in 3D modeling software, then disassemble them into the flat XY plane and try to understand: how would we actually build this?" said Trimble. Simpson Gumpertz & Heger's Paul Kassabian provided crucial help with structural engineering, including designing a base plate that is invisible except when the wall is viewed from a 90-degree angle. Radlab CNC-milled the wood slats and spacers before coating them with varnish. "Fabrication was long and arduous, but it challenged us in really great ways," said Trimble. The group developed a hanging mechanism to efficiently apply fire retardant to the ribs. To prevent varnish from adhering to the points of connection between the ribs and spacers, they fabricated each spacer twice, once out of birch, and once out of chipboard. They affixed the chipboard templates to the ribs before spraying the varnish, leaving an untouched patch for the final spacer. "It was process-intensive, there was no getting around that," recalled Trimble. "But we embraced that process-intensive journey from the onset, to see if there were ways we could be creative about creating improvements to make fabrication more efficient." On site, Radlab laid down templates of the base plates to drill holes for the anchor bolts, then returned with the walls themselves. Each wall was prefabricated of four panels and assembled in the shop. "They tilted up almost like tilt-up concrete walls," said Trimble. In addition to having inspired the form of Clefs Moiré, Bach's Gigue works as a metaphor for how the finished walls perform in space. "It starts and stops abruptly," explained Trimble. "There's no crescendo or tapering of intensity. The walls do the exact same thing: there is no rising up from the ground or falling into it. They start and stop in a similar way."
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Gritty site underneath Boston's I-93 to become public space...and parking lot

[beforeafter]01_Infra_Space_BeforeThe possible future of "Infra Space 1". (Courtesy MassDOT) [/beforeafter]   The Massachusetts Department of Transportation wants to transform a gritty site underneath Interstate 93 in Boston into a public space that people actually want to visit—or at least park their car. BostInno reported that the $6 million project, called “Infra-Space 1”, is part of MassDot’s wider initiative to give new life (and lighting) to vacant lots underneath the city’s elevated infrastructure. [beforeafter]boston-highways-01boston-highways-02[/beforeafter]   Curbed Boston noted that the initiative has already 235 “well-lighted” parking spots. “Infra-Space 1” will upgrade an eight-acre, notoriously-dangerous site in Boston’s South End neighborhood. Now, obviously, a planned 175-car parking lot doesn’t necessarily scream urban renewal, but there are aspects of this project that could actually activate the space. The plan is essentially to first clean up the site and then prep it for possible programmatic elements. Alongside the parking lot, which has 24/7 security, the DOT wants to install  “innovative” lighting systems and create an environment for art installations and performances. As BostInno noted, MassDot is fairly bullish on what else is possible at the site. The completion of the project would also include a plaza, green space, a sports facility, dog park, and a connection to an eventual section of the Boston Harborwalk. 08_Dog_Amenity_After
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House in Cambridge by Armando and di Robilant

A translucent polycarbonate skin transforms an early-19th century Massachusetts home.

On a well-traveled street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, about halfway between Harvard University and MIT, sits a house not like its neighbors. Its simple massing and pitched roof indicate old bones. But its skin is all 21st century. The house, recently renovated by Alessandro Armando and Manfredo di Robilant, is clad in translucent polycarbonate panels that reveal the structural and insulating layers beneath. For the architects, the project was an experiment in applying a cladding system designed for large-scale projects to a single-family home. “We thought this could be a possible test-bed for something more standard, something that could at least be thought of as a standard way of renovating and improving a typical American detached house,” said di Robilant. “This house is very small, but we’re now trying to fit it toward possible standardization of this approach.” When Armando and di Robilant first visited the house, its facade was in bad shape. Disintegrating wood topped by a layer of metal siding (from a 1960s update) failed to protect the home from Cambridge’s snowy winters and hot summers. The architects peeled away the old materials and thickened the facade’s profile, beginning with a layer of rigid Thermax insulating panels. Around this they built an external skeleton of TimberStrand with Parallam columns, to shore up the house’s structural system. To the timber frame they attached 40-millimeter polycarbonate panels by Rodeca. The Rodeca panels further insulate the house and offer UV protection, but they are transparent enough to provide a glimpse of what lies beneath. “The insulation panels are not directly exposed to the air, but you can see them from the outside,” said Armando. “You can see all the layers, this was one of the main features we expected to achieve, to reveal all the exterior coloring of the house.” The air gap between the inner and outer layers of insulation further boosts the home’s thermal performance, as it funnels hot air up and out before it reaches the interior.
  • Facade Manufacturer Rodeca, Weyerhaeuser, Dow Building Solutions, Bertram Corporation
  • Architects Alessandro Armando and Manfredo di Robilant, Samir Srouji
  • Facade Installer Bertram Corporation
  • Consultants Sami Kassis (Structural Engineering)
  • Location Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Date of Completion October 2013
  • System polycarbonate panels over laminated timber structure and rigid insulating panels, custom sliding shutters
  • Products Rodeca PC 2540-7 polycarbonate panels, TimberStrand LSL, Parallam PSL columns, Thermax sheathing, custom aluminum shutters by Bertram Corporation
The most eye-catching feature of the renovation is a pair of floor-to-ceiling windows at the northeast corner of the house. Armando and di Robilant encased these in custom mahogany frames, then attached sliding aluminum shutters fabricated by Wisconsin contractors Bertram Corporation to the exterior of the house. The shutters are easy to slide manually along tracks attached to the house’s structural frame. Oversize wheels at the base of each shutter roll along the concrete base at the front of the house. “We made these big wheels to evoke something like a toy, a childish object,” said Armando. The slats of the shutters are spaced far apart near the top of each window to allow daylight to penetrate, and closer together near the bottom, to maximize privacy. In order to accommodate the shutters’ upper rails, Armando and di Robilant drilled holes in the adjacent Rodeca panels. The customization worked: the architects seamlessly integrated the window and panel systems without sacrificing watertightness. “The Rodeca system was born mostly thinking of big facades,” observed di Robilant. “It had been used in a number of cases with more surfaces. Here I think we tested, and I think this test was quite successful, the limits of Rodeca in terms of what is the minimum surface which is still okay for this system.” The architects analogize the facade system to a Russian samovar, or hot water boiler. Like a samovar, with its nested heating element and partly hidden hot-water pipe, the house’s facade reveals its own organizing principle to the knowing eye. “The idea was really to show the anatomy of the skin,” said di Robilant. “We focused our attention on the big window, but it’s also very much about the facade, and the discourse of the metaphor—the samovar.”
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On View> Izhar Patkin: The Wandering Veil at MASS MoCA

Izhar Patkin: The Wandering Veil MASS MoCA 87 Marshall St., North Adams, MA Through September 1, 2014 Izhar Patkin: The Wandering Veil is a survey of the Israeli-born, New York-based artist. Grand, labyrinthine, yet intimate, the exhibition occupies the entirety of MASS MoCA’s largest gallery. The works on display are rich with personal narrative, political metaphor, and myth, highlighting the many formal innovations Patkin has pioneered in the course of his 30-year career. The show’s centerpiece is a cycle of spectacular mural-size paintings on tulle fabric that are making their U.S. debut. Entitled “Veiled Threats,” the cycle was inspired by the late Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali’s writings on memory, loss, love, and exile. Co-organized by MASS MoCA, The Wandering Veil is coming to Massachusetts from the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and the Tefen Open Museum in Israel, where it premiered last year.