Posts tagged with "Music":

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Motown Museum prepares for major $50 million expansion

Hitsville U.S.A., the home of Motown Records and the Motown Museum in Detroit, Michigan, is on the road to a major expansion. When completed, the Motown Museum will have an additional 50,000 square feet of interactive exhibits, a state-of-the-art performance theater, new recording studios, more retail space, and additional meeting spaces. The design for the addition is being led by Phil Freelon of Perkins+Will, in collaboration with Detroit-based architect of record Hamilton Anderson Associates. The visitor experience and exhibitions are being designed by Maryland-based Gallagher & Associates. Phil Freelon’s work for Perkins+Will often focuses on highlighting the contributions of African Americans to American history and culture. Freelon was part of the team that designed the recently completed National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. “What has been happening in the U.S. for the last 24 months reminds me of the social and political upheaval of the late 1960s,” says Freelon in a press release. “It is critical that we as a nation see past our differences, focus on our commonalities, and unite to advance a single, shared cause: equality for all Americans.” The Motown Museum will take this vision of the past seriously be preserving the original Hitsville house, with a campus of buildings around the iconic location. The city, design team, and the museum see the $50 million project as more than just an investment in the museum. The hope is that the expansion will have a very real impact on the surrounding community and Detroit as a whole, bring jobs, tourists, and pride to the New Center neighborhood. “Our goal is to bring the expanded Motown Museum to the world, to inspire dreams and serve as an educational resource for global and local communities while creating an international mecca of music and entertainment history,” said Romin R. Terry, chairwoman and CEP of the Motown Museum. “This expanded facility will be an exhilarating national and international tourist destination which will allow us to narrate and celebrate on a much larger scale what the Motown legacy is recognized for: Unmatched creative genius that transcends every barrier imaginable by bringing people together from all walks of life to share that unmistakable Motown sound.”
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Soon this VR venue will let you rave from the comfort of home

Queue up your best dance tracks because (techno)logy will soon make it easier than ever to home rave. Music broadcasting group Boiler Room has teamed up with Inception to open the world's first virtual reality venue. The two enterprises will produce made-for-VR events in the London space so listeners can Source Direct content or sweat Midwest fresh without leaving home. Boiler Room is best known for its music live streams where dancers can be seen grooving in sweaty rave caves behind some of the world's most talented DJs. Like an internet-age MTV, the company archives the sets online so dance music fans in New York can sample Japanese grime or take a quick getaway to Acid Camp in the Poconos: In a statement on Business Wire, the broadcasters explained the significance of their new venture for far-flung fans who want to jack: “Most of Boiler Room's audience is made up of global online users who tune in to watch music events they can’t attend in person. We’ve always been driven by using technology to showcase the music we care about in the most authentic way we can.” Shows will be accessible through Inception's app. Although music fans will have to wait until early next year to home rave, VR right now is merging the digital and the physical with shocking fluidity. This year, artist Tamiko Thiel unveiled a VR installation at the Seattle Art Museum that imagines life in the climate change–burdened anthropocene while The Guardian used VR to help viewers empathize with prisoners in solitary. Earlier this month, Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) debuted a VR-enhanced exhibition at the Jewish Museum's just-opened Pierre Chareau exhibition. At that show, DS+R uses archival photographs and prints to recreate Chareau's interiors in digital space. "Virtual reality provided the perfect opportunity to re-spatialize these artifacts, these pieces of furniture,” firm principal Elizabeth Diller told The Architect's Newspaper (AN). On the West Coast, firms like Gensler are using VR to communicate project concepts for the new Los Angeles Football Club stadium, a move that is "basically normalizing the technology as a design tool."
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Artist to create first real-life “Vaporwave Mall” in Miami

The artist Aileen Quintana is creating an homage to internet cultural relics and the dying American mall in an installation for this year’s III Points Music, Art & Technology Festival in Miami. The “Vaporwave” genre has been called “the internet’s collective nostalgia”: a grouping of the various IRL ("in real life") ephemera that defined the activities supplanted digitally by the World Wide Web, like shopping, waiting in line, and listening to muzak in elevators. (Note: Vaporwave is very different from vaporware.) Art and music produced within the Vaporwave genre dabble in a mix of surrealism, kitsch, and nostalgia. Quintana’s “Vaporwave Mall” takes inspiration from the genre directly and will feature a bazaar of clichés from consumer-oriented, recreational capitalism to outfit a collection of fashion storefronts and art installations at the festival. Preliminary images of the installation show brightly-painted mannequins and the wire rack scaffolding used to display merchandise in mall outlets. The creativity festival, which Quintana cofounded in 2013, will take place in Miami's artsy Wynwood neighborhood between October 8th and October 10th, 2016 and will feature Quintana’s “mall” as a key installation. The artist told the Miami New Times this week, “Conceptually, it’s like couture club kids. I have the opportunity to associate the fashion component to the audio component and create this hybrid where the art is vivid and the creativity is more because it’s influenced by music.”
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Tradition versus modernity in Venice, and that time Pink Floyd played St. Mark’s Basin

On July 15,1989, Pink Floyd held a concert in Venice in front of more than two hundred thousand people. Framed in the foreground by the city’s famous twin columns—of its patrons, St. Mark the Evangelist and St. Theodore of Amasea—and in the background by Andrea Palladio’s San Giorgio Maggiore, the band performed from a floating platform in the middle of the Venetian lagoon, while the assembled crowds filled every inch of St. Mark’s Square, the adjoining Piazzetta, and waterfront Riva degli Schiavoni, and even jostled for a front row seat in an ever-growing carpet of boats moored within the lagoon itself. A particularly striking aerial photograph presents the scene a few hours before the band took to the stage, “mechanically repeating,” as Roland Barthes would put it, “what could never be repeated existentially.”

Yet the romantic, almost fantastical nature of this moment is somehow misleading: In spite of the popularity of the concert—a “Night of Wonders,” as certain sections of the press described it—the event provoked an outpouring of opprobrium in Venice’s always tempestuous political quarters. A number of the city’s municipal administrators viewed the concert as an assault against Venice, something akin to a barbarian invasion of urban space. Other voices, such as the local architectural historian Manfredo Tafuri, were equally vitriolic. Lecturing at the Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia (IUAV) in 1993, just a year before his death, he spoke of how he despised the concert for being nothing more than a “postmodern masquerade”—the epitome of the frivolous discourse that characterized culture in the 1980s—and for the physical damage it had wrought on the city.

The idea for the performance had originated with Francesco (Fran) Tomasi, the band’s Italian promoter. “For their 1989 tour,” Tomasi recalled, “Pink Floyd were looking to perform in peculiar places. At the time, my office was in Venice and so I had the idea of organizing a free concert to coincide with the Feast of the Redeemer, the Redentore, in which the local population, rather than the tourists, always take an active part. The band immediately loved the idea.”

The Redentore, held annually on the third weekend of July, was initiated in 1578 to celebrate the end of the terrible plague. At sunset Venetians invade St. Mark’s Basin, from where they watch a fireworks display while bobbing up and down in their boats. In the 18th century it was also common to see gondolas and the smaller sandoli carrying musicians who entertained the crowds before the fireworks. It was this aquatic musical accompaniment that Tomasi hoped to recall with his own concert. The sheer scale of the event, however, called for a corresponding increase in the size of the musical boats. In the end, individual vessels were recast as a vast floating stage, 318 feet long by 79 feet wide and 79 feet high.

Preparations for the event, billed as the latest stop in the band’s “Momentary Lapse of Reason” tour, gathered pace. RAI, Italy’s state broadcaster, agreed to a live broadcast of the show. The big day drew closer. In June 1989, after a fiercef debate about the profanity or acceptability of such an event so close to the Redentore festivities, the city council finally granted its approval (in a democratic vote that went against the wishes of the mayor, Antonio Casellati).

Just three days before the event, however, Margherita Asso, Venice’s superintendent for cultural heritage (nicknamed the “Iron Superintendent”), vetoed the concert on the grounds that the amplified sound would damage the mosaics of St. Mark’s Basilica, while the whole piazza could very well sink under the weight of so many people. Tomasi had to think fast. He quickly offered to turn down the volume on the thousands of speakers and to move the stage back 98 feet, in an attempt to dampen the ardor of the crowd. Asso remained unconvinced, and it was not until the arrival of the three band members on July 13 that a so-called compromesso all’italiana (Italian-style compromise), involving decibel levels and crowd fencing, was secured and the concert could go ahead.

The show lasted just 90 minutes but lived long in the memory of those who witnessed it. The next day the local paper, Il Gazzettino, carried the headline “Grandi Pink Floyd, Povera Venezia” (“Great Pink Floyd, Poor Venice”), juxtaposing appreciative accounts of the show with images of St. Mark’s Square covered with litter and young people sleeping rough in doorways. No real damage had occurred, but the city woke with a distinct “after-party” look. The political reverberations were more far-reaching, and a few weeks later the local government fell.

Of course, Venice has a long history of political farragoes, just as it does of floating, ephemeral architectures, from Alvise Cornaro’s almost surreal 16th century proposal for a theater and artificial island on the lagoon, or the triumphal arch built near the church of Santa Lucia on the occasion of Napoleon’s visit to the city in 1807—a project famously depicted in a painting by Giuseppe Borsato—to the floating bath constructed by Tommaso Rima in 1833 and moored off the city’s Punta della Dogana, and, most celebrated of all, perhaps, Aldo Rossi’s highly poetic Teatro del Mondo, built in 1979.

Tafuri’s first edition of the Renaissance book, Venezia e il Rinascimento—published in 1985, just a few years before Pink Floyd’s floating stage (also witnessed from the Piazzetta)—articulated a characteristically political argument in presenting the history of Venice as a constant battle between those who wanted to restructure and renovate the city (whom Tafuri dubs the primi) and the traditionalists who only wanted to uphold its established principles and structures. The book was not written as a contemporary allegory, at least not explicitly, but the parallels are obvious, not least in the ongoing clash between the more progressive Venetians who defend the Serenissima’s artistic patrimony but also endorse more modern solutions, and those who seem only to consider the city as a kind of frozen museum. Like many entrenched oppositions, the two sides are actually not all that different, but the debate centered (and still centers) on striking a balance between the city’s delicate ecology and its economic viability. In this debate, tourism and spectacle are both the agent of destruction and the city’s salvation.

More than Palladio’s San Giorgio, then, this was the real backdrop to the Pink Floyd concert, confirming the music promoter Bill Graham’s famous adage, “politics uses and abuses rock music.” Even Mason himself revealed the ambivalences and overlaps endemic on both sides when he admitted, “I must say I like the idea of carrying on a tradition rather than being totally unique.” It was no coincidence that 1989 was also the year Venice was preparing its bid to host the 2000 European Expo, which was expected to attract upward of two hundred thousand visitors a day and act as a springboard for a new, modern city.

The project was backed largely by Italy’s Socialist Party (PSI), and more particularly by Gianni De Michelis, then the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Ranged against them were the traditionalists, including a number of key members of the opposing Christian Democrats, who were keen to block the expo bid by whatever means. If the former group had secured an initial victory in clearing the way for the smaller, metonymic rock concert, the latter soon took their revenge, using Pink Floyd as a Trojan horse to point to the city’s inability to accommodate a crowd. In fact, this apparent inability was not unconnected to the city’s refusal to provide either city cleaners or portable toilets for the concert. The day-after hangover, depicted in all its squalor by the local newspapers, had therefore actually been designed.

Despite his passion for Renaissance architecture and enduring fondness for Cornaro’s seemingly perverse theater project, Tafuri, as we have seen, was vociferous in his objections to both the Pink Floyd concert and to Venice playing host to the European Expo. For Tafuri, the theatricality of both events concealed a darker ambition to transform the city into a purely political and economic object. Venice, he countered, is a particular city that negates the possibility of an absolute modernity—a theme he returned to repeatedly, but especially in the same 1993 lecture in which he lambasted Pink Floyd.

In this talk, presciently titled “Le forme del tempo: Venezia e la modernità” (“The Forms of Time: Venice and Modernity”), he argued that the concert relied not only on the splendor of the city but also on the perfectly Italian splendors of blackmail and bribery, and the ascendancy of economic and media interests. However, perhaps because this was the school’s Lectio Magistralis (the inaugurating lecture for the academic year), he concluded more optimistically with the notion that the imago urbis of Venice is sacrosanct and impossible to recalibrate, ending defiantly with “The battle is not yet finished.”

But in many ways the battle has finished, and is one that has seen a victory of sorts for a kind of synthetic Venice that is both traditional town-museum and a contemporary hub—for what are the vast cruise liners that today pass through the Grand Canal if not a recalibrating imago urbis fundamentally reliant on both the historic and the commercial? And what, for that matter, is the Venice Biennale if not a repeating ritual that under the theatrical guise of art and architecture maintains a thriving, even defining, economic model? The vast numbers of people these different tourist attractions draw in dwarf all of the figures ascribed to that moment in July 1989 when Pink Floyd ended their set with “Run Like Hell.” The historian in Tafuri would no doubt see this as further confirmation of all those Italian splendors, and in this, as ever, he may well be right.

Léa-Catherine Szacka is also the author of the forthcoming book Le Concert with Sara Marini, which will be published by Editions B2 in 2017. A longer version of this paper was originally published in AA Files 69, 2014: 12-17.

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Canadian music finds a new home at Calgary’s National Music Centre

Looming over 4th Avenue in Calgary's East Village is the new home for the National Music Centre (NMC). Known as "Studio Bell" and designed by Brad Cloepfil of Portland and New York-based firm Allied Works Architecture, the 160,000 square foot structure comprises two volumes connected by a skybridge.

Clad in terra-cotta, the building appears to shelter the historic King Edward Hotel, a venue renowned for its jazz scene. As for Studio Bell's programming, five levels are dedicated to exhibition space, displaying more than 2,000 objects of musical memorabilia and significance meant to inform and inspire visitors. Here, emphasis will placed on Canadian music.

In addition to this, recording, teaching, and event spaces, along with galleries, will be available for workshops and other programming. The galleries will be adaptable, doubling-up as low-key performance venues while alterable for the needs of exhibitions. A Canadian Music Hall of Fame can serve as a performance hall for an an audience of 300 people. The centerpiece of the building, the hall offers mobile acoustic walling and overlooks the lobby.

“They turn their heads; they’ve never seen a building like this in Calgary and I think a lot of people never expected such a building to ever be built in Calgary,” said NMC president and CEO Andrew Mosker. “We invented an institution,” said Brad Cloepfil. “[Mosker] had a dream of an institution that was more than a museum, kind of more than everything. A kind of music institution that doesn’t exist—education, performance, everything.” “Entering from the street, the building is filled with the reverberation of voices and music, drawing visitors up into five floors of performance, exhibit, and collections spaces,” Cloepfil added. “The apertures at each gallery create a threshold of sound, introducing the content and programs of the particular exhibition. The spaces between are filled with silence, with views that frame the city and landscape beyond.”
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A New Orleans nonprofit is crowdfunding its own “Musical Village”

Since 2011, New Orlean's The Music Box has been mixing the creative disciplines of music and architecture, and in the process, winning over locals and musicians such as singer-songwriter Thurstan Moore and Wilco. Started by local artists Delaney Martin, Taylor Shepherd, Jay Pennington, the project was born out of the nonprofit arts organization New Orleans Airlift. https://ksr-video.imgix.net/projects/2468154/video-675844-h264_high.mp4 The project, which sees artists and locals create "musical houses," has witnessed numerous iterations over its lifetime. Previous versions having been rebuilt with locations in Tampa, Shreveport, and even in Kiev, Ukraine. Now however, The Music Box team is looking for a permanent home for where architecture intersects music: The Musical Village. The Musical Village would continue the organization's  growth within the NOLA community and would open this October. To fund the scheme, a Kickstarter page has been set up with a goal of $60,000 required for the project to become a permanent installation. So far "musical houses" have already been built in the Bywater, only a stones throw away from the projects original site. According to the organizers, the village has its eyes set on becoming a "landmark cultural destination, and a place to grow up in for this city’s children. As an interactive art park by day, and a one-of-a-kind musical venue by night, we know that The Music Box Village will be a site for renewable creativity, learning and play, and a wonderland of awe and inspiration for years to come." Last year, The Music Box hosted the Roving Village, a six-week-long installation that saw more than 10,000 visitors and numerous artists including Wilco, Solange Knowles, William Parker perform in City Park, New Orleans. So far, the project estimates that approximately 30,000 have engaged in the scheme.
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Ricardo Bofill’s Postmodern La Muralla Roja stars as backdrop for Martin Solveig music video

Martin Picandet, or as he is better known, Martin Solveig is often partial to PoMo imagery in his music videos. A headband, a healthy dash of color, and the odd animal or tennis player are also commonplace. For the French artist's latest hit Do it right ft. Tkay Maidza, the accompanying music video is set at the La Muralla Roja (The Red Wall) in Alicante, Southeast Spain. Designed by Catalan Postmodernist Ricardo Bofill, the 1973 building made arguably as big of a splash in the industry as Solveig does in his music video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQRV5omnBBU Solveig and Maidza pay compliemt to Bofill's use of color, donning the pastel hues of La Muralla Roja's interior, though that's as far as the architectural references go. Seen as a counter to the Spanish political climate at the time, Bofill’s structure distances itself from the modernist buildings that were synonymous with the period. Housing 50 apartments, the building rises up like a fortress from the landscape, taking a form reminiscent to that of North African architecture on the Mediterranean Sea. Bofill employs an array of staircases, platforms, and other connecting devices to create shadow and define the structures spatial qualities. In doing so, the building at times recalls M. C. Escher's illusion lithograph Relativity which depicts an impossible arrangement of staircases and orientated spaces. Do it right, despite not linking back to Bofill's political motives, does do some things right. Overhead shots highlight the building's complex orthogonal floor plan and roofscape, meanwhile other angles, albeit sadly short-lived, show Solveig traveling through the structure. Seen walking across a bridge and running up a fair few stairways (it looks quite the work-out), Do it right does well to showcase Bofill's interlocking volumes and the iconic cross-shaped swimming pool.
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Daniel Libeskind to take over Frankfurt with “One Day in Life” musical exhibition

On May 21st, "One Day in Life," a 24-hour musical experience, will take over the German city of Frankfurt. The two day event will feature 75 performances sprawled across the city in unusual locations, all curated by Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind.

Initiated and commissioned by the Alte Oper (Old Opera) Frankfurt, the project seeks to break free from the conventional concert hall framework. The locations, as chosen by Libeskind, range from the Commerzbank Arena (Frankfurt's soccer stadium) to hospital operating rooms, boxing arenas, Oskar Schindler's house, and even the underground repositories of the German National Library. The music has also been chosen by Libeskind, showcasing an equally eclectic diversity. Renowned artists and students will perform classical and contemporary orchestral numbers as well as Indian Ragas and electronic music.

To ensure that as many visitors get a chance to be involved, performances will be repeated multiple times at each location, with two-hour intervals. A full listing of the program can be found on the event website.

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A look at Prince’s Minneapolis estate, Paisley Park Studios

The sudden death of Prince last week brought attention to an aspect of the artist that many fans might not have focused on: his history as an architecture patron. In the mid-1980s, after success from his early albums and his movie Purple Rain, Prince Rogers Nelson began construction on what became a $10 million, 65,000-square-foot compound outside Minneapolis, called Paisley Park Studios. For nearly 30 years, the property at 7801 Audubon Road in suburban Chanhassen, Minnesota, was a safe haven where Prince lived, made music, and entertained. It’s also where he was found unresponsive in an elevator on Thursday and couldn’t be revived. The main building is as large as big box retail structure, and its white metal panels give it a clean, modern look. Much of it is windowless. A large glass pyramid on the roof above the entrance glowed purple whenever Prince was inside. The interior contains state-of-the-art recording and rehearsal facilities and palatial living areas, with many of the details determined by Prince himself. Paisley Park was ahead of its time in the way the client wanted to combine areas for work, living and entertainment, according to the project architect, Bret Thoeny of Santa Monica, California-based BOTO Design Architects. “Prince wanted to have a place where he could do all his music and make films and do his tour rehearsals and do dance, choreography and everything under one roof, which back 25 years ago was quite progressive,” said Thoeny in a television interview after the performer’s death. The design process was a challenge for the architect because Prince couldn’t read blueprints, said Karen Figilis, a spokesperson for BOTO. “Prince requested that architectural models be brought to Minneapolis, so… Bret Thoeny did so,” she said in an e-mail message to The Architect’s Newspaper. “Prince did not want or read blueprints.” Prince also requested the pyramid for which the building became known, Figilis said. “Prince was very involved in the design.” According to published reports, the complex opened on September 11, 1987, when Prince was 29. He was 57 when he died. Named after Prince’s 1985 song Paisley Park, and largely credited with putting Minnesota’s music scene on the map nationally, it contains recording studios, a video editing suite, a sound stage, production offices, rehearsal space, private dressing areas and living quarters. Because it had places to sleep, Prince could spend time in the studios whenever he wanted, and he recorded more than two dozen albums there. The first floor houses the production and performance facilities, and the second level contains executive offices. Thoeny told CNN that Prince wanted no windows downstairs so he could work without knowing whether it was night or day. “A portion of it was like a stay-over where if he was in the studio late, which he always was, he could just crash for a few hours and get back in the studio,” Thoeny said. Prince kept his many awards locked in a basement vault, along with tapes of unreleased songs. The architect specified the sort of walk-in vault one would find in a bank. “He wanted a place to keep his master recordings, but at the time it was very important to keep this a secret,” he said. According to Time magazine, Prince’s private office has stained glass doors and three beds—king, day and round—with a mirror over the king bed. Although he guarded his privacy, Prince sometimes opened Paisley Park to visitors for impromptu parties. The last such gathering took place less than a week before he died. “It looks almost exactly like you’d imagine a huge recording complex owned by Prince would look. There is a lot of purple,” The Guardian newspaper reported. “The symbol that represented Prince’s name for most of the 90s is everywhere: hanging from the ceiling, painted on speakers and the studio’s mixing desks, illuminating one room in the form of a neon sign." “There is something called the Galaxy Room, apparently intended for meditation: it is illuminated entirely by ultraviolet lights and has paintings of planets on the walls. There are murals depicting the studio’s owner," the Guardian said. The compound also has been used by others for film work; commercials were filmed there for everything from Burger King to Cadillac to Hormel Chili.  Performers who have used Paisley Park Studios for rehearsals include Neil Young, Barry Manilow, Jeff Beck, and the Muppets.
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Daniel Libeskind on Acoustics, his Unexpected Architectural Process, and his Latest Venture One Day in Life

Little known fact: As a child, Daniel Libeskind was an accordion virtuoso. Until he was about 18, Libeskind toured the world playing concerts on his accordion and busting out works like Flight of the Bumblebee before he was in high school. “I think I probably made more money per hour than I do now,” he joked last night in Cosentino’s showroom where he revealed his latest venture: A 24-hour musical experience with over 75 consecutive concert events in Frankfurt May 21–22. The event, One Day in Life, was meant to capture what Libeskind defined as the “18 dimensions of existence,” such as body, will, memory, gravity, secret, work, and waiting. These “dimensions of existence” correspond with 18 different venues throughout Frankfurt, including Alte Oper, whose artistic and managing director, Dr. Stephan Pauly, coordinated the event with Libeskind. Other venues include a bunker, the Hospital zum heiligen Geist, the Commerzbank Arena, VGF Betriebshofand rail yard depot, a boxing gym, a pool, and a moving streetcar. Libeskind also selected the performers and ensembles to play the music, which includes a mix of classical and modern pieces. The music is meant to evoke its venue’s assigned dimension, for example, French composer Marin Marais’s Tableau de l’Opération de la Taille will be performed at the hospital. In a trifecta of Libeskind’s artistic talents, he created a drawing of the intersection of music, architecture, and the city entitled Musical Labyrinth. The drawing corresponds with the locations of One Day in Life and will be etched in white on a large, inky black platform of Cosentino Dekton tile in front of the Alte Oper Concert Hall. After the unveiling of One Day in Life AN’s managing editor Olivia Martin sat down with Libeskind to discuss how music, art, and architecture can work in concert. The Architect’s Newspaper: Has music always played this prominent role in your art and architecture? Libeskind: Drawing is like writing, like making music, like architecture. It’s an art that has to do with the mind, the hand, and your heart. That’s the connection in music and architecture. Did picking these locations and working out the music to be played in them inspire you to build anything in the future? It made me think about concert halls—there are not enough new concert halls and when they are built, it is not in a 21st-century way. They are more like the Viennese concert hall, more nostalgia about old acoustics, I think we need contemporary 21st-century ways for people to form a community around music, I thought of that a lot. I built not long ago the Grand Canal Theatre in Dublin and I especially took care with acoustics. I thought, what if I were up on stage? What does it look like? What does it feel like for someone performing? Do you always take an acoustic-centric approach to your buildings? I think of acoustics first. I think we are too addicted to the visual world today. It is a great medium to promote visual work but the inner ear when you listen and your orientation is more prominent than seeing. I also directed an opera, Saint François d'Assise by Messiaen. At first they asked me to do everything, including conducting, but then I looked at the score and it would take a year just to do the score—I’d have to give up architecture. So I said no, I cannot conduct, but I did everything else. I did the direction, the costumes, the stage, the lighting, everything except conducting. I’ve also done a lot of set design for opera, but I am an architect, I don't have time for stage design. So would you say you’ve picked architecture over music? No, I believe architecture is an extension of music. For me music is not a metaphor, it’s not the analysis of notes. It’s not an applique of music to architecture. It is a condensation of emotional intelligence and the sense of orientation in the ear and that is what connects it to the field. We should analyze our cities acoustically. How beautiful would it be to not only decorate our city with green but also think about the sound of New York? Every city has its own sound and it would lead to greater joy if people thought about the sound of their cities and the spectrum between silence and noise… and maybe it would give us more perspective than the simulation on our devices.  
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MCA Chicago unveils new logo, plans for image overhaul with help from Johnston Marklee

Change is underway at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art. At a press conference Friday MCA officials revealed that the institution is working on a new image, new programming and even a new master plan for the museum's space led by Los Angeles–based design firm Johnston Marklee. The announcement was timed to coincide with the last push of a major fundraising campaign. The museum has quietly raised $60 million in recent years, nearing a “vision campaign” goal of $64 million. Today they revealed their latest donation: $10 million from Kenneth Griffin, an MCA trustee who is also the richest man in Illinois. MCA's fourth floor galleries will now bear his name. “We've been thinking about what a 21st Century museum looks like,” said Madeleine Grynsztejn, MCA's director. Citing figures from the National Endowment for the Arts, Grynsztejn said the museum needs to become more “responsive” to the community—“a civic institution of local necessity and international distinction.” Part of that mission includes converting the cafe space into an “engagement zone” for public events, performances and education. Museum goers looking for a snack will have to find it on the first floor, where a new restaurant will front onto Pearson Street. Those and other changes to the 1996, Josef Paul Kleihues–designed building's programming are part of a new masterplan currently in development at the offices of architects Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee. Dutch designers Armand Mevis and Linda Van Deursen of the firm Mevis & Van Deursen also designed a new logo for the museum—part of a larger campaign to rebrand the museum and reengage with a public tempted to seek out art online or otherwise outside the Streeterville museum's walls. MCA has had some success reinvigorating popular conversation about contemporary art with its David Bowie Is exhibition, which recently wrapped up its run at the museum after drawing nearly 200,000 visitors—an MCA record, according to Grynsztejn. “The Bowie show challenged the MCA to raise our game,” she said. That could include expanding hours or more drastically reconsidering the museum's model, Grynsztejn wondered aloud Friday. But it will definitely include more shows for young artists on the cusp of a breakout, said curator Michael Darling, as well as more interactive exhibitions. Darling pointed to an upcoming residency by the Grammy-winning chamber group Eighth Blackbird, which he said would include unannounced and improvised performances throughout the museum, with the intent to connect the public with contemporary music and the process of creating it.
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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."