Posts tagged with "North Carolina":

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A group of artists and architects revisit the famed Black Mountain College

A famous experimental college flourished in Black Mountain, North Carolina, from 1933 until it closed in 1957. Josef Albers taught there for 17 years, while Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer designed one of their first U.S. commissions and Buckminster Fuller attempted his first dome structure at the college. Last October, at its Lake Eden campus, Adam Void and Chelsea Ragan—artists who had settled in western North Carolina—invited a group of 18 colleagues to join them in planning a school inspired by Black Mountain College. Less than a year later, with guidance from the group, Void and Ragan launched a call for faculty, organized a curriculum, gathered tuition from students, and rented a building for a month-long experiment in community and education.

Black Mountain School—not officially affiliated with the original college—is founded on the proposition that higher education is caught in a perpetual spiral of increasing tuition and institutions unable to adapt to students’ needs. “In the face of extreme tuition cost, corporatized profit-driven learning, and a one-size-fits-all curriculum that defines the limitations of public and private higher education, we are presenting an alternative,” reads the school’s online prospectus. “A non-hierarchical approach to organization, self-directed study in a wide range of subjects, as well as communal activities and events combine to provide students and teachers with the ability to learn from one another openly in an inclusive environment.”

This summer, a group of around 100 artists, designers, and teachers came together in the rented lodge at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly—Black Mountain College’s campus prior to Lake Eden—to launch the experiment, share cooking, cleaning, and administrative duties, and participate in courses that ranged from guided hikes, identifying wild plants, and “relinquishing self,” to more structured lectures on the histories of hip-hop and contemporary art. Then, as now, the school’s location in Black Mountain, 15 miles east of Asheville—on a campus where the alternative community coexisted with Christian summer camps—placed it in the nexus of cultural change dominating local and national politics.

“We think we’re kind of in that time right now where we’re in between worlds,” Void said. “Something is coming, but we’re not quite sure what. But we’re definitely a part of that transition.”

Educators and students traveled from all parts of the country and as far as London and Quito, Ecuador, to participate in courses like the Gilles Deleuze–influenced “A New Image of Thought” by New York–based Alexander Chaparro, “No Math Architecture” by New York artist Serra Victoria Bothwell Fels, and “Analog Data Management” by Clocktower program director Joe Ahearn.

“I came here not knowing what the plan was, but knowing there was a lot to be learned by what happens when people start things fresh,” said Ahearn, who participated in last year’s planning session and also helps organize Brooklyn’s Silent Barn alternative space. “At the same time there’s a degree of accountability that’s placed on the whole thing by its connection to the history of the space and to Black Mountain College.”

This author taught a course that proposed to use building-scale video projection as an urban interventionist medium to interact with the surrounding community in western North Carolina. It turned out that in March, after the class was submitted, the state legislature passed a regressive law prohibiting transgender people from using gender-appropriate bathrooms.

“I applied just at the point when I wasn’t aware what was going on,” said Luan Joy Sherman, a student from Savannah College of Art & Design. “I don’t think it had been signed into law yet. When I crossed the border it felt really heavy and it felt really violent. As a trans person I’m not welcome here, I’m not recognized here, I’m not valid here.”

The class opened up discussion within the school about the bathroom law and gender identity and framed a collaborative action in public space that would address the question directly. The students connected with local advocacy groups Tranzmission and Southerners on New Ground, and Sherman and filmmaker Adam Rush, another faculty member, quickly designed text-based projection installations intended to create a safe public space in downtown Asheville for sharing information and expressing solidarity with the trans community. On a Saturday evening in late May, students and faculty gathered on a slope of grass to view the projections while passersby stopped to chat and drivers honked in support.

“I feel really healed now,” Sherman said. “In a short period of time I’ve gotten over the hump of something that’s really big and is the biggest experience with personal injustice that I’ve ever felt.”

Void and Ragan hope to continue the experiment in the coming year. It was not without its controversies—more than one artist showed work that many considered racially insensitive—and the school will eventually need a stronger pedagogical theory to become more than an education-themed artistic residency. But like the original Black Mountain College and independent architecture schools like the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, Terreform’s ONE Lab, and many of the “radical pedagogies” throughout history, it clearly responds to a perceived need for an alternative to the current model.

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A new book explores Albers, Cage, Fuller, and the making of Black Mountain College

In The Experimenters: Chance and Design at Black Mountain College, Eva Diaz describes the discordant yet equally hermetic teaching methodologies of Joseph Albers, John Cage, and R. Buckminister Fuller that were developed during the years immediately following World War II at Black Mountain College. The “unaccredited college in rural Appalachia became a vital hub of cultural innovation” and was known primarily for artistic experimentation and its holistic aim “to educate a student as a person and a citizen.” It had a major impact on what would become contemporary artistic practice during and after the mid-1940s and early 1950s. Located in western North Carolina, the college’s history presents a dynamic narrative of radical innovation in terms of educational philosophy. In addition to Albers, Cage, and Fuller, other famous participants include Merce Cunningham, Clement Greenberg, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, and Robert Motherwell. Among many prominent students, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, and Kenneth Noland contributed to the college’s reputation for free experimentation and artistic diversity. While Diaz is clear in her estimation that this study of “rival methodologies” as practiced by Albers, Cage, and Fuller help to uncover three of the most “clearly articulated positions” of this period at Black Mountain, it remains questionable as to whether or not this clarity has embedded within it a sense of priority. Based on Diaz’s expertly layered representations of the three methodologies, Albers could be thought of as the composite of Cage and Fuller, though Albers is by no means limited in his vision of the “mutability of perception.” There are many similarities among these men, and Diaz’s instinct to place the comparison within the context or theme of experimentation and even process to an extent makes a lot of sense. It is the suggested nuances of approach that challenge the clarity of the three positions. As Diaz points out, all three subjects are invested in new perceptual strategies and their formal implications, progressing culture, exploring the dynamics of habit or pattern in order to break them, ethics, degrees of order and disorder within a clearly defined testing ground, and in some instances, “total thinking.” In spite of this, it is Albers who seemingly holds his institutional role and investment in a codified educational program most sacred. This is reflected in Rauschenberg’s sentiments, included by Diaz, in an interview years after he studied with Albers: "I’m still learning what he taught me, because what he taught me had to do with the entire visual world." One of the most interesting parts of the book is Albers’s response to Rauschenberg’s comments from the interview, which has a lot to say about the striking similarities between Cage and Albers that are far from obvious. Albers responds to the comments in terms of the “combination,” and the changing of surface qualities in Rauschenberg’s work. He admits that the study of the “changing of articulation” was very exciting, and he recognizes this in Rauschenberg’s vocabulary. It validates Albers’s influence on the painter while suggesting a subtle alliance with Cage—if one associates Rauschenberg with Cage. Diaz’s multi-layered analysis allows one to locate a multiplicity of such connections and in turn form a personal relationship with the text is on a level of self-illuminated analysis. This ability to discover counterintuitive connections or hidden alliances, call it a richness, is not obvious in Diaz’s agenda, but is among the author’s greatest gifts to the reader. Secondary to this, her digressions, which in the chapter on Cage seem most interesting and include analysis of Cage’s appropriation of Erik Satie’s The Ruse of Medusa (which signified a major departure from the methodical theatrical events at Black Mountain influenced by the Bauhaus productions of the 1920s) and significant discussion of Antonin Artaud’s influence on Cage in the context of the French dramatist’s seminal collection of essays, The Theater and its Double, are most enticing. Whether one buys into the surface rivalry between the Albersian project with that of the explorations of Cage and Fuller or locates secret alliances among the hermetic camps that suggest some similarity between Albers’s color studies and Fuller’s geodesic domes, it is clear that the tensions at Black Mountain relate a parallel narrative concerning the Bauhaus and its relationship to experimental art, which in the end, Diaz describes as “porous.” The epilogue, though somewhat brief in comparison to the cultivated chapters on Albers, Cage, and Fuller, describes the trinity’s influence on movements that follow quite succinctly. Though this investigation by Diaz could have benefited by the inclusion of more student work to support the clarity of the three positions, The Experimenters: Chance and Design at Black Mountain College presents a nonetheless moving account of an alternative to expressionism that is synonymous with this very exciting period of divergence at the university before its doors closed in 1957.
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Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center to open inaugural exhibition in new gallery

Beginning on July 1, the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center (BMCM+AC) will host Randy Shull/Wide Open: Architecture and Design at Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, an exhibition that marks the completed renovation and expansion of the BMCM+AC, located in Asheville, North Carolina. Phase One of the project, led by artist and designer Randy Shull and J. Richard Gruber, PhD, Director of the newly launched Architecture + Design Institute (A+D@BMCM+AC), spanned from 2014 to 2015. The museum re-opened on January 30, 2015, following a renovation of its original site, at 56 Broadway Street, along with an addition. The addition created retail space, a gallery, and a BMC library and study center. The conversion of a property across from the museum, 67 Broadway Street, comprises Phase Two, which began last year. This 2,400-square-foot space will host exhibitions, performances, and public programs as well as house offices and storage space for BMC work when it opens on July 1, 2016. The exhibition celebrates “the enduring legacy of Black Mountain College (BMC, 1933-57) through the lens of its architecture and design program and the influential innovators who taught there,” notably: Josef Albers, a Bauhaus master who transformed the institution as a teacher; his wife and artist, Anni; and Buckminster Fuller. Shull’s custom-made furniture and exhibition displays were inspired by Albers and some of its components are permanently integrated into the space: graphic panels, hand-built furniture, and a customized pegboard display system. Also featured are photographs of Shull's work that as it relates to BMC. Asheville-based Susan Rhew Design collaborated with Gruber and Shull to develop a clear identity for the museum, Randy Shull/Wide Open, and other related materials. Dr. Gruber praised Shall's work, stating: “The new gallery space Randy created is eloquently synced with the original site across the street, the educational and artistic mission of BMCM+AC, and the spirit of innovation and experimentation that was a BMC hallmark. Like the Bauhaus masters who taught at BMC, he has blurred the lines between art, architecture, design, and traditional notions of craft." The exhibition will be open until September 3.
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Architecture meetings in North Carolina test reaction to state’s anti-LGBT legislation

After this spring’s conferences on high-minded architecture, from NYCxDESIGN to the AIA Convention to the Venice Bienniale, how about some design with a lower case ‘d’? That’s what’s on the agenda for more than 200 registrants of the Vernacular Architecture Forum (VAF), a conference now underway in Durham, North Carolina. The four day meeting is entitled “From Farm to Factory: Piedmont Stories in Black and White.” Participants will gather at the Durham Marriott to hear talks about topics such as “Documenting Historic Graffiti,” “The Transformation of Working Class Housing and Domesticity,” and “The Community Center and the Barber Shop.” They’ll fan out into the surrounding area to tour tobacco farms, textile mills,  churches, barns, slave quarters and a Quaker village or two. Many of the tour sites are related to slavery or tobacco or both. In addition to a Thursday evening pig-pickin’, the menu will include North Carolina barbecue, country ham biscuits, chicken pastry, collards, hushpuppies, banana pudding and sweet tea. In many ways it’s the opposite of meetings such as the AIA convention, which aim to celebrate the “best” of American design, with honors such as the 25 Year Award for buildings that have stood the test of time and the AIA Gold Medal. The Vernacular Architecture Forum, by definition, seeks to focus on the ordinary parts of the American landscape, including many buildings and places that weren’t designed by licensed architects or landscape architects at all. “The Vernacular Architecture Forum is the premier organization in North America dedicated to the appreciation and study of ordinary buildings and landscapes,” the group says on its website. “Established in 1979, VAF is composed of scholars from many fields, including history, architectural history, geography, anthropology, sociology, landscape history, historic preservation, and material culture studies.” During the past few decades, “interest in ordinary architecture has grown rapidly and in diverse directions,” the group states. “Scholars and field professionals apply the term ‘vernacular architecture’ to a range of structures including traditional domestic and agricultural buildings, industrial and commercial structures, twentieth-century suburban houses, settlement patterns and cultural landscapes. The Vernacular Architecture Forum was formed...to encourage the study and preservation of these informative and valuable material resources.” Each year the organization chooses one city or region to explore during its annual meeting, which draws designers, historians, archaeologists, folklorists, geographers, museum curators, preservationists, educators and students from all over the country. This year there’s a twist that makes the event a little less ordinary, and it involves the setting. The Vernacular Architecture Forum is one of first national groups to hold a meeting in Durham since North Carolina legislators passed House Bill 2, dubbed the “bathroom bill.” The statewide legislation has drawn widespread criticism because it took away certain rights and protections that had been extended to the LGBT community in North Carolina, including allowing transgender people to use the public bathroom of the sex with which they identify. Performers such as Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, Pearl Jam, and Cirque du Soleil have cancelled shows in North Carolina as a result of the new law, and companies such as Pay Pal and Deutsche Bank have cancelled plans to expand in the state. Mayors of other cities, including New York City and Baltimore, have blocked funding for non essential government employee travel to North Carolina in response to the law. The Vernacular Architecture Forum is one of two design-related conferences that had been scheduled to take place in North Carolina before the legislation was passed and whose leaders decided to proceed with their meetings in the state. The other meeting was the High Point Market of furniture and home goods, which was held in April. According to organizers of the VAF meeting, the legislation was adopted so soon before the conference that there was no time to switch to another location, as some groups have done. For example, the Community Transportation Association of America backed out of a meeting that would have drawn 1,000 people to Raleigh, but its meeting wasn’t scheduled to take place until 2018. According to David Bergstone, director of architecture for Old Salem Museums and Gardens in Winston-Salem and a member of the planning committee for the Durham event, the VAF selects the location for its annual meetings two to three years in advance and uses the time to plan tours and programs related to that part of the country, so it can offer a site-specific event that takes full advantage of the resources available nearby. In North Carolina, he said, the group has lined up tours of plantation housing for blacks and whites; farms of the late 19th and early 20th centuries; turn-of-the-20th-century textile and tobacco factories; churches built by Germans, Scotch-Irish, and African Americans; and the former workplace of a gifted African-American furniture craftsman who lived near the North Carolina-Virginia border. “There was no way to move something like this that has been planned over the past two to three years,” Bergstone said. “It wasn’t possible at the last minute.” Bergstone said the group had several last minute cancellations, but they were due to illness or other personal reasons. He said he wasn’t aware of any cancellations by people protesting House Bill 2, but he acknowledged that there could have been some people who decided not to register because of House Bill 2 and just didn’t tell the VAF. Marvin Brown, a senior architectural historian with AECOM and one of the two co-organizers of the Durham meeting, also said he wasn’t aware of any cancellations related to the bill. “I can’t think of anyone who specifically said they couldn’t come because of it,” he said. In all, Bergstone said, 220 to 230 people are registered to attend all or part of the four-day meeting. The gatherings typically draw between 100 and 300 people, so the registration figure is in line with past years, he said. “I think we’ve hit our target.” A city government employee in New York said he considered going but decided not to register after he learned that his employer wouldn’t help pay for his trip because of House Bill 2. The New York City employee said several of his colleagues did go to Durham and ended up paying their own way, while another colleague decided not to go because of House Bill 2. Bergstone and Brown said the situation is unfortunate for Durham because its elected representatives don’t support the legislation, yet they have to live with the consequences. Before the meeting, VAF President Gretchen Buggeln, wrote members to notify them that the VAF was going ahead with the event in Durham and providing information on how they could object to the legislation if they cared to do so. “As many VAF members know, on March 23, 2016, North Carolina’s General Assembly passed into law legislation known as House Bill 2 (HB2),” Buggeln wrote to members. “The leadership and members of the Vernacular Architecture Forum are troubled by this discriminatory bill. This law overrides local LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinances and bans transgender people from using certain restrooms. “HB2 is highly controversial within the state of North Carolina and many citizens are fighting the law. The ACLU of North Carolina has filed a federal lawsuit and the state attorney general is a vocal opponent. Moreover, the city council of Durham, the site of our June 2016 conference, unanimously condemned the legislation...[Durham City Councilman Steve] Schewel recommends that those wanting to support the opposition to HB2, and the fight for its repeal, can contribute to Equality North Carolina,” Buggeln continued in her message. “They do great organizing work statewide. “[Event organizers] Claudia Brown, Marvin Brown, and their team have worked long and hard to prepare a marvelous conference for us. I urge you all to come to Durham and to spread the VAF’s message of concern and care for communities—their buildings, landscapes, but most especially their people—and our vision of equality, dignity, and justice for all.” North Carolina officials have disclosed that the state has lost conventions, conferences and concerts with an estimated economic impact of more than $10 million, since the bill was signed.  Most of the bookings have been in larger cities such as Raleigh. Many of the cancelled meetings weren’t scheduled to take place until 2017 or later, so groups had time to find another location. Last week, the Associated Press reported that attendance was down slightly for North Carolina’s High Point Market, a meeting that was seen as an early test of business reaction to the law. “According to numbers released Friday [May 27] by the High Point Market, this year's registered attendees—including buyers, exhibitors, media and students—totaled slightly more than 79,000,” the AP reported. “That represents a decrease of 1,000 from the previous year, and a reversal for the market. Attendance at last year's spring event rose 2.5 percent from 2014.” Held twice a year, the High Point Market brings an estimated $5 billion a year in economic activity to North Carolina. According to the AP, the High Point event in April represented the largest business-related gathering in North Carolina since House Bill 2 was adopted.
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Architects take cues from industrial landscape painting to transform Raleigh’s Warehouse District

Raleigh, North Carolina's diminutive Warehouse District is getting a big newcomer. Durham, North Carolina–based Duda Paine Architects has released renderings for a 17-story, mixed-use development on the current site of a three story warehouse. With land costs rising in the six-square-block area, Duda Paine decided to scale up. The complex, across the street from the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM), will be more than three times taller than its neighbors. In conversation with The News & Observer, project architect and Duda Paine partner Turan Duda explained that the firm has a "philosophy of placemaking." The design takes cues from Colin Rowe's Collage City and the paintings of Charles Sheeler. The building's variegated massing and sharp planes do somewhat evoke the geometries of the latter. Sheeler applied a pastoral eye to industrial technology; it would be interesting to see how he would have depicted the five-story-tall multimedia wall, mounted on the building's south side, that will advertise CAM events and exhibitions. The tower leans back from the street, so as to not overwhelm its neighbors. The ground level incorporates the warehouse structure, allowing brick-clad street frontage to blend in with neighboring warehouses. Steel beams from parts of the demolished warehouse will be used to cover the vestibule and a 40-by-60-foot pocket park. Ten floors of office space will sit atop a seven-story parking deck. A ninth floor lobby will accommodate a restaurant, with views of the city. On the 13th through 17th floors, a "sky window" will offer views of the city from the southern side of the building.
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LS3P Wraps Live Oak Bank in Cypress

Wood siding and high performance glazing invite nature into the workplace.

For their new headquarters in Wilmington, North Carolina, Live Oak Bank's leadership sought a design that reflected the institution's unique culture, particularly its focus on cultivating meaningful relationships with both customers and employees. "Their employees work hard," reflected LS3P's Laura Miller, whose firm was selected to design the building after a small local competition. "The folks who run Live Oak Bank want to recognize that." At the same time, she said, "they wanted it to be somewhat unassuming as well. They want to just quietly go about their business, and be the best at what they do." The architects' solution, a two-story U-shaped structure clad in local cypress and high performance glass, gives equal measure to both concerns. Plentiful glazing maximizes daylighting and views for occupants, while the long wood facades are designed to reflect attention back to the natural environment, further integrating the building into the site as the material weathers. The headquarters building's previously undeveloped site was a perfect fit for the project brief. Located in the heart of the city, the parcel is nonetheless adjacent to a nature preserve. "It's a little island of tranquility in the middle of Wilmington," said Miller. "It's convenient, but once you enter it, you feel like you're in a secluded, calm environment." Unlike the traditional office block, LS3P arranged the interior program in a U shape around a central courtyard. "It's not the most efficient in terms of square footage, but the bank wanted every single employee to have beautiful views either to the lake or to the grove of live oak trees," explained Miller. Courtyard terraces, decks, and a full-length second-floor balcony can be used as workspaces on nice days, and further encourage a dialogue between indoors and out.
  • Facade Manufacturer Special Wood (siding), Oldcastle (curtain wall), Reynobond (metal panels)
  • Architects LS3P Associates
  • Facade Installer Clancy & Theys (general contractor, siding), Binswanger Glass (curtain wall), Kistler McDougal (metal panels)
  • Location Wilmington, NC
  • Date of Completion 2013
  • System cypress siding with high performance glazing, integrated sunshades, and metal panel accents
  • Products cypress siding, Oldcastle aluminum curtain wall with custom sunshades, Reynobond aluminum panels
In light of Live Oak Bank's desire for a building that blends into the natural environment, the architects gravitated toward wood siding. "We looked at quite a few images with different types of wood," said Miller. "Cedar is often used for building exteriors, but it's not something you find naturally here in eastern North Carolina." Instead, LS3P chose cypress, a local product that ages gracefully. Because they had a contractor on board right away, the architects were able to construct a series of mockup walls on the site even before it was cleared, demonstrating the appearance of the siding at installation, after one year, and after ten years. Per the client's wishes, LS3P designed the bank headquarters to provide every employee with daylighting and views. But the large amount of glazing that resulted presented a potential problem with thermal gain, especially on the south-facing facade. The architects selected a high performance glass, further protecting against glare and solar gain with fixed sunshades. Tested through a series of sun studies in Revit, the airfoil-shaped shades are integrated directly into the curtain wall system. Interior motorized blinds provide an additional layer of environmental control. On the stair towers and at the main entry, the architects offset the wood siding with grey metal panels. "The company is growing so quickly that we were constantly adjusting the design to accommodate more people," said Miller, noted that the project's square footage more than doubled between concept and construction. "The two legs of the U got pretty long. We wanted to break up the long horizontal facade, but we didn't want it to be jarring." Instead, the metal panels match the curtain wall framing and stucco base, maintaining the project's neutral palette. Live Oak Bank's new home does not look like the headquarters of a national bank. Rather, it looks like a comfortable place to work and visit, a place where ego takes a backseat to service. Fortunately, that is exactly what the project's clients—and its architects—wanted. "It's not a typical bank where people just drive through and get their cash," said Miller. "Their bank is really more about customer service and employee satisfaction."
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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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Wilmore Resident Wins Grant For Edible Walkway Project

Kris Steele’s “Edible Walkway” proposal to bring an urban orchard to Charlotte, NC was one of two recipients of the Keep Charlotte Beautiful (KCB) neighborhood beautification grants announced in May. Steele’s proposal was approved over 34 other proposals by KCB and received an endowment of $2,500 to get the plan moving. Steele’s project will tear down an old, rusty fence at Kingston Avenue and South Mint Street and replace it with a new fence and a variety of fruit-bearing trees and bushes. The project will be overseen by the Wilmore Neighborhood Association, the Calvary United Methodist Church, and Casteen Lawn and Tree. It has not yet been decided what types of trees and shrubberies will be planted along the walkway but there have been mentions of pear trees, apple trees, and peach trees among others. Planting is scheduled to begin sometime this upcoming autumn, with some trees possibly bearing fruit as soon as next spring. The urban orchard project is part of a growing trend in cities across North America to bring productive agriculture to sites in urban areas. Chicago, Edmonton, and Boston have recently begun projects of their own.
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Preservationists Fight To Save Modernist North Carolina Office Building

A group of North Carolina preservationists is trying to protect a local piece of modernist history from the impending wrecking ball. The News & Observer reported that a group called North Carolina Modernist Houses (NCMH) has started a campaign to save the former Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic building, which was designed by Raleigh architect G. Milton Small over 50 years ago. "The building is really Raleigh’s finest example of international architecture," said George Smart, the head of NCMH, who noted that Small studied under Mies van der Rohe at IIT. The two-story structure is wrapped in floor-to-ceiling windows and a porch, and has a 6,000-square-foot courtyard with a 10-foot decorative brick wall. While the building does not have a national profile or an esepcially famous architect, it was noted for its "taste and design" in a 1965 New York Times cover story. The building is currently vacant, and its owner has filed plans for a structure twice its size on the site. Construction on that project is expected to begin in a few months, but before that happens, NCMH is making its own push to find a new tenant for the building. They will be hosting an open house at the clinic building on May 7th.
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Perkins + Will folds in Freelon Group Architects, expands North Carolina practice

  Design giant Perkins + Will has swallowed up Freelon Group Architects, one of the country’s most prominent African American–led firms. The firms announced Tuesday that North Carolina–based Phil Freelon will help lead Perkins + Will’s design efforts in the region and globally. The local head of the combined practice will have nearly 80 professionals, creating one of the largest architecture and design practices in North Carolina. Freelon started his firm in 1990, growing it from a single-person practice to 45 employees. P+W will combine 18 staff members at an office in Morrisville, NC with Freelon’s office in Durham, as well as a 15-person staff in Charlotte. Freelon Group is best known for its work on the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, which they designed with David Adjaye, Davis Brody Bond Aedas, and SmithGroup. The museum is targeting a 2015 opening. Freelon’s firm also worked on the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History and Culture in Baltimore, and the Atlanta Center for Civil and Human Rights. “There’s a sense that we’re contributing to society as a whole, and making people’s lives better through our buildings in my firm, and Perkins + Will—there’s a lot of public sector clients there,” Freelon told the Durham Herald-Sun’s Laura Oleniacz. “We feel good about creating design excellence and beauty for everyday people.”
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On View> “Mario Botta: Architecture and Memory” at the Bechtler

Mario Botta: Architecture and Memory Bechtler Museum of Modern Art Charlotte, NC Through July 25, 2014 The architect Mario Botta is known for his postmodern or idiosyncratic country houses, churches, and institutional buildings in the Ticino region of Switzerland and Europe. He actually worked in the studio of Le Corbusier as a young man and his work is clearly indebted to Carlo Scarpa and, like many Italian architects of his generation, Louis Kahn. He has workedthroughout his career in a small regional outpost of Lugano and has stood against the mainstream of modern, commercial and avant-garde ideas and trends and produced buildings that can only be called "Bottan." In 2005, he told Guardian writer Jonathan Glancy that architecture "is a way of resisting the loss of identity, a way of resisting the banalisation, the flattening of culture brought about by the consumerism so typical of modern society. In this sense, architecture is more an ethical than an aesthetic phenomenon." Botta has described his own buildings as "post-antique" in an attempt to step outside of postmodernism. His singular approach and style can be seen in San Francisco where he designed the SFMOMA in 1994, a commission he won in a competition that included Frank Gehry. In 2010, Botta completed a second American project, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Museum has just opened Mario Botta: Architecture and Memory, an exhibition on the Swiss architect's career. There are more than 200 objects on view in the gallery including letters and sketches by architects and others who have influenced Botta. Included in this "Encounters" section are artworks from the Bechtler collection created by artists who have inspired Botta such as Alberto Giacometti, Jean Tinguely, Alexander Calder, and Pablo Picasso.
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Mikyoung Kim’s Stainless Steel Serpent

Brought to you with support from:
Fabrikator
 

Amuneal Manufacturing fabricates a “breathing” sculpture for a North Carolina plaza.

For a public plaza in downtown Chapel Hill, North Carolina, landscape architecture firm Mikyoung Kim Design designed a unique sculptural installation that doubles as a stormwater management system. The 70-foot linear form is centrally located to engage the town’s residents with a looped, 10-minute light show. A misting sequence, drawn from a subgrade cistern, emanates through the perforated metal skin of the sculpture, giving the impression that “Exhale” is actually a living, breathing object. The original concept for the piece incorporated hydrological elements of the site in an engaging and transparent way, but the form was less defined. Over the course of nine months, designer Mikyoung Kim said her team designed countless rock-like shapes from clay, carving each from the inside out to achieve a thin, amorphous shape that consistently collapsed in on itself. Then, one night at home, Kim had a breakthrough when her idling hands picked up a few sheets of trace paper in the early morning hours. “I started folding a piece of trace paper and kept folding, and folding,” she recalled. “It was yellow and easy and beautiful; I fell in love with that.” The sheets also helped Kim balance her aim for delicacy with function and helped define Exhale’s fan-like corrugation.
  • Fabricators Amuneal Manufacturing
  • Designers Mikyoung Kim Design
  • Location Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Date of Completion April 2013
  • Material marine grade stainless steel, LED lighting, high pressure fog system
  • Process Rhino, Solid Edge, laser cutting, CNC press brake bending, welding, bolting
Through a series of quarter-scale mockups and Rhino drawings, the team worked to refine the size of the sculpture’s perforations, a process Kim likened to “squinting to make it clearer.” There are more perforations on the top than on the bottom, giving the impression of a sturdy base with a lighter feeling above. Another challenge came in integrating the corrugated, perforated surface with a support structure. Parametric scripting helped Kim dictate where the perforations would fall in relation to the framing elements. Kim turned to long-time collaborator Amuneal Manufacturing to fabricate the design. Amuneal converted the drawing from Kim’s Rhino files to Solid Edge. Those files were used to laser cut the sheet’s trapezoidal geometry and perforations from marine-grade stainless steel sheets. Amuneal’s CEO, Adam Kamens, estimated that almost 50 sheets where welded together to create the final form. Radial corrugations were folded on a CNC press brake. Because Exhale was designed for a plaza that wasn’t perfectly flat, Amuneal executed as much pre-assembly in its Philadelphia facility as possible. Sheets as large as the bed of a truck were craned into place and welded together on site. Abrasive finishing smoothed over seams and connections. The curved, stainless steel sheets conceal an internal misting tube that releases vapor through a high-pressure spray, as well as color-changing LEDs. Kim’s favorite part of the design experience was watching public reception of her work, which was unveiled on a warm day in late spring. “The combination of all the elements created a reaction from Chapel Hill that was a pleasure to watch,” she told AN. “I watched kids engaging it immediately and it made all of the hard work worthwhile.”