Posts tagged with "Paris":

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Hirshhorn sculpture garden will be dedicated entirely to works by Lee Ufan

Washington D.C's Hirshhorn Museum has announced a site-specific commission for the Korean artist Lee Ufan that will debut in fall 2019. Approximately ten new sculptures related to the artist’s “Relatum” series will be installed across the museum’s 4.3-acre sculpture garden. An exhibit of Lee’s abstract painting within the museum will accompany the outdoor installation. This is the first time in the institution’s half-century history that its sculpture garden will be dedicated entirely to a single artist. A founder of Japan’s Mono-ha, or "School of Things" movement, Lee’s work emphasizes the relationship between site, materials and the viewer. This holistic treatment of artistic elements appeals to a contemplative and dynamic engagement with the work rather than static perception. The poignancy of Lee’s work derives from the thoughtful assembly of contrasting materials, which are subject to minimal alteration. Lee, who lives in Kamakura, Japan and Paris, will spend the next year conducting site visits to the Hirshhorn Museum. Additionally, Lee will visit individual quarries across the East Coast to source local materials to construct his work. Each sculpture constructed for the installation will relate to the museum’s unique circular form, allowing visitors multiple vantage points from above to view Lee’s work in the plaza below. While the installation will be Lee Ufan's first exhibition on the National Mall, the artist has conducted over 140 one-artist exhibits across the globe. These stand-alone works include 'Resonance' at the 2007 Venice Biennale, a major retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in 2011, and a sprawling display of sculptural works on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles.
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Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s early sculpture highlights architecture at the street level

For its 2018 edition, BRAFA, the Belgian art and antiques fair, honored Christo and Jeanne-Claude by exhibiting an early sculpture which has characterized their work ever since. We speak to Christo about working in the public realm, the importance of architecture, and why he would never accept any donations to fund his projects. Christo and Jeanne-Claude are best known for their large-scale, temporary works of art that intervene on the built environment as well as the natural world, like the wrapping of the Reichstag in Berlin and the Pont Neuf in Paris, or more recently, the installment of floating walkways on Italy’s Lake Iseo. But it’s a far lesser-known work that the latest edition of BRAFA Art Fair celebrated earlier this month in Brussels. Three Store Fronts (1965-66), a rarely-exhibited, early sculpture 46 feet long and 8.2 feet tall, mimics the facades of a retail space, and marks an important shift in the artists’ career: from objects to environments. When the Bulgarian-born Christo met his late-wife Jeanne-Claude in Paris in 1958 (she passed away in 2009), his work mostly revolved around the wrapping of everyday objects, like cans and bottles. The couple first turned their attention to the outdoors in 1961, with the artwork Stacked Oil Barrels and Dockside Packages (also considered their first collaboration), installed at the Cologne Harbor, then again the following year, with Wall of Oil Barrels - The Iron Curtain in Paris, a response to the construction of the Berlin Wall. From 1963 until 1968, the development of their sculptural works Show Cases, Show Windows and Store Fronts, further solidified their interest in the public realm. In Show Cases, Christo collected glass displays and medical cabinets from flea markets in Paris, then hung pieces of fabric or pasted paper on the pane interiors, overturning their functions. While these works still largely revolved around an object (comparable to the early Wrapped Cans or Packages), they paved the way for the much larger, life-sized series Show Windows and Store Fronts — of which the views were, again, obstructed with fabric. Their proportions echoed the dimensions of the architecture of New York, where the couple emigrated to in 1964. “These works related to the architectural space of the street,” Christo explains of Show Windows and Store Fronts. “In some way, they were a precursor of works that we did later, like the Valley Curtains in Colorado, or the Running Fence in California.” Both of these projects were extremely ambitious in scale, and shared many similarities with a construction project, says Christo. Valley Curtains, completed in 1972 and removed after only 28 hours, due to a strong gale, featured over 200,000 square feet of woven nylon fabric orange curtain, installed across the Grand Hogback mountain range in Colorado. “We had the same people who build and suspend bridges, from suppliers to construction workers,” explains Christo, whose father ran a fabric factory. Meanwhile, Running Fence (completed in 1976) was made of over 2 million square feet of heavy woven white nylon fabric, extending over 24 miles east-west from the north of San Francisco and down to Bodega Bay. It required 18 public hearings, three sessions at the Superior Courts of California, the drafting of an extensive Environmental Impact Report and the temporary use of the hills, sky and ocean. The Store Fronts series certainly represent a milestone in the artists’ oeuvre, where the environment came to frame their artistic discourse. But for Christo, architecture always played an important role. When he studied at the Sofia Academy of Arts in the 1950s, the curriculum was heavily modeled after the German system, where students would equally study fine arts, decorative arts and architecture. “So it was natural that I was interested in architecture,” he laughs, when I ask about the architectural quality of his projects’ preparatory drawings. And it is precisely these drawings, as well as other collages and lithographs (many of which will be featured in a major exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries in London this summer), that enabled the funding of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s costly, temporary outdoor works. “I refuse any donations,” insists the outspoken, 82-year old artist, who recently cancelled a project over the Arkansas river in Colorado that was 20 years in the making and cost $15 million to date, in protest against its landlord, President Donald Trump. “I escaped from a communist country; I will not give one millimeter of my freedom for anything.” BRAFA Art Fair ran from January 27 until February 4, at Tours & Taxis, Brussels, Belgium. Christo & Jeanne-Claude. Urban Projects runs until February 25, at ING Art Centre, Brussels.
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Paris vies for post-Brexit business with skyscraper building boom

Paris is not known for skyscrapers. Its largest, the plodding, 690-foot Tour Montparnasse, is also acknowledged as the ugliest building in the metropolis. (Buildings in Paris itself were banned from rising above seven stories two years after Montparnasse was constructed.) And its largest concentration of towers, the La Defense district just west of the city limits, has not produced a critical mass of towers since it was created decades ago. But if plans hold, this is about to change significantly, as French officials and business owners have announced plans to overhaul both Montparnasse and La Defense, while the city's largest tower since Montparnasse, Herzog & De Meuron’s Tour Triangle, continues to move ahead. The owners of Tour Montparnasse, Ensemble Immobilier Tour Maine-Montparnasse, last month commissioned French consortium Nouvelle AOM to reclad and renovate the Tour Montparnasse as part of a $350 million modernization. The firm defeated an illustrious shortlist of international competitors that included Studio Gang (the runner up), OMA, MAD and Dominique Perrault Architecture. Nouvelle AOM consists of French architects Franklin Azzi, Fréderic Chartier, Pascale Dalix, Mathurin Hardel and Cyrille Le Bihan. Their plan will not only reskin the muted tower in a crystalline shell of multi-directional glass panels, but it will incorporate gardens into its façade and interior, highlighted by a mammoth sky garden on top. It will also modernize its interior and improve the surrounding plazas and landscapes, knitting the aloof tower back into the city fabric. Meanwhile last winter French President Emmanuel Macron (then still a candidate for President), shared Defacto La Defense's (the group that manages the area) plans to build seven new skyscrapers in the La Defense district by famed architects incuding Jean Nouvel, Arquitectonica, Foster + Partners, Christian de Portzamparc and others by 2022. The goal—touted by a marketing campaign called “Tired of the Fog, Try the Frogs!”— was to reposition the area as a business alternative to London, where Brexit has cast a confusing pall over international corporations. The towers, if built, would be called Trinity, Alto, M2, Hekla, Sisters, Air 2 and Hermitage Plaza. Marie-Célie Guillaume, chief executive of Defacto La Defense, last winter told FT that they wanted to send a “powerful message to businesses that are uncertain about their future.” It remains to be seen whether all of these projects will indeed move ahead, although, for one, Foster's web site still lists Hermitage as a go. Finally, Herzog & De Meuron’s Tour Triangle, a 591-foot-tall tower that will be the first within the city limits since Montparnasse (that law banning tall buildings in Paris was overturned a few years ago), continues to move ahead since its approval back in 2015. Located on the site of the Parc des Expositions in the 15th Arrondissement, the crystalline building’s pyramidal form is meant, say the architects, to open up a massive internal atrium, reduce shadows on adjacent buildings, and to create an increased setback from the nearby peripheral boulevard. Herzog & De Meuron’s web site lists completion at 2020. Most agree that the Tour Montparnasse is in need of a facelift. As for the remaining towers, Parisians are unsurprisingly split. Many have hailed the influx of offices, residential space and modernity into what is a frustratingly-frozen city. But opponents fear the beloved character that makes Paris Paris is destined to be lost. "Unless someone stops them now, international starchitects and their developer and corporate patrons will succeed in vandalizing the horizon of Paris," exclaimed preservation group SOS Paris after the announcement of the Tour Triangle. On verra.
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The Louvre just pulled out on these humping buildings

The Louvre has put the kibosh on a controversial sex sculpture that was set to go up in its next-door neighbors' garden. The Domestikator is an architectural sculpture created by Dutch collective Atelier Van Lieshout in 2015, depicting two red humaniform buildings engaging in what can only be described here as a lewd act. The sculpture was scheduled to be exhibited in Paris' Tuileries Gardens as a public-facing element of the FIAC contemporary art fair in October, but has just been withdrawn after protest from the Louvre, the gardens' neighboring institution. Jean-Luc Martinez, the Louvre's acting director, sent a letter of explanation to Le Monde in which he wrote that the work "risks being misunderstood by visitors to the garden." Seeing as the sculpture would have been located near a playground and within direct eyesight of the museum's patrons, it is altogether easy to imagine the board meeting leading to this decision. It may seem even less surprising after a much more vitriolic response quashed the installation of a giant Paul McCarthy sculpture (resembling what can only be described here as a "hidden accessory") as it rose in one of Paris' central plazas. With AN's steadfast commitment to a neutral tone, we will not (at this time) take a firm stance on the controversy beyond noting that Domestikator is painted a very nice red, employs massing creatively, and we wish we were writing this under the light of its tower room window. Atelier Van Lieshout has offered its own take on the sculpture in slightly more subtle terms than might be expected: "The act of domestication ... often leads to boundaries being sought or even crossed. It is this difficult balance that Atelier Van Lieshout seeks to address." The description on its website makes a slightly bolder statement: "It symbolizes the power of humanity over the world and pays tribute to the ingenuity, the sophistication and the capacities of humanity, to the power of organisation, and to the use of this power to dominate the natural environment." In this context, the roles occupied by the buildings take on a bit of a different light ... definitely involving a tad more subordination. The collective's founder, Joep Van Lieshout, originally planned to live within Domestikator for the duration of the festival, creating "a series of objects in collaboration with invited artists." AN's imagination is running wild with exactly what those objects might have been. After the festival's planner's attempted to find alternate locations for the structure and failed, it appears the installation has been entirely dropped from the program. The sculpture is being de-installed today from the RuhrTriennale (an arts festival) in Bochum, Germany.
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The Architectural League of New York announces 2017 Norden Fund recipients

The Architectural League of New York has announced the two winners of its 2017 Deborah J. Norden Fund, a travel grant that was established in 1995. The grant is awarded to students and recent graduates in the fields of architecture, architectural history, and urban studies.

This year, Kevin Malawski for Pikionis’ Pathway: Paving the Acropolis and Priyanka Shah for Deep Skins: Roger Anger’s Facade Operations were the recipients of the grant. They will both receive $5,000 to use for travel and study.

Malawski, who currently works at New York–based EwingCole, will travel to Athens, Greece to explore the relationship between modern planning principles and regional sensitivity. Through sketches, photographs, and diagrams, his project revolves around the intricacies of Dimitris Pikionis’s five-kilometer, mid-20th-century pathway to the Acropolis. Located within olive tree groves to frame vistas, the mosaic-paved walkways also include gutters and trenches to divert water from seasonal downpours (a result of the Mediterranean climate). Malawski hopes to fill an academic void for Pikionis' architecture, which “employs a mix of operative regionalist undertones with modernism to define a space which authentically relates to the ancient Acropolis it is sited on,” he said.  

Shah, who is an architectural designer with international firm Grimshaw Architects, will go to Paris and Grenoble, France to document Roger Anger’s high-rise residential buildings, specifically looking at the geometric articulations and arrangements. Anger, an influential French architect in the 1950s and 60s, became known for his buildings' facades which present “a direct antecedent to contemporary computational design.” Upon his death, the majority of his works were kept with his estate and remain inaccessible to the public. Shah will consult archives and visit his buildings to create a comprehensive, digitized monograph of his designs.

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SO-IL and the triumph of non-“starchitecture” in Paris

When someone tells you that they won an international competition in Paris along the Bastille axis on a site at the junction of Canal Saint Martin and the Seine River, images of Gehry’s Fondation Louis Vuitton, I.M. Pei’s Pyramide du Louvre, Bernard Tschumi’s Parc de la Villette, or Jean Nouvel’s Institut du Monde Arabe come to mind. However, New York–based architects SO-IL took a much different route and made something almost as non-“starchitect” as possible.

Rather than leveraging the site into a spectacular, iconic object-building, the architects have deferred to the forces—cultural, economic, and environmental—of the Place Mazas site, resulting in something quite opposite of the aforementioned buildings. Not only did the team from SO-IL, led by partner Ilias Papageorgiou, decide against making a flashy building, they didn’t even max out the site financially, which they described as a “risk,” but one that paid off as they won the competition.

“We are very excited to work on such a unique site in Paris. Our proposal suggests a dynamic approach in city making, one that considers history as well as the complexity of today’s conditions while allowing room to accommodate future transformation,” said Papageorgiou.

Titled “L’Atelier de l’Arsenal,” the proposal is a nexus of future urban development and part of the Reinventer La Seine, a long-term urban design transformation of the river. The designers wanted to make it a flexible place that could be further transformed.

The proposal features co-living and social housing units in a seven-story wood structure that doesn't use all the allowable massing on the site, but rather divides the site in two, deferring to the Hausmannian axis and leaving the rest of the site open. On the other half of the plot will be public spaces and another smaller, temporary building that will accommodate facilities including public co-working spaces, a fabrication lab, and a multi-purpose room for cultural activities. The site will also house Aurore (a homeless facility already established on the site), as well as space for the Yacht Club of Bastille and new water-front activities, like a public swimming pool and pools for biodiversity research and water quality monitoring.

All of these programmatic features can be rethought after 12 years, as the public zone could be returned to the city for another use. It could be that this site will be incorporated as part of the pedestrianization of the streets along the river, and a possible initiative to create a swimmable river in the future.

The project was a collaboration of Paris-based Laisne Roussel and French real estate developers REI Habitat and Icade. “The design of the Atelier de L’Arsenal is motivated by our conviction that architecture is everyone’s business. In our view, urban resilience and the collective practices developed for and by users are two major challenges for the cities of tomorrow,“ said Nicolas Laisné and Dimitri Roussel, partners of Laisne Roussel.

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Tadao Ando chosen to build a new art museum inside former Paris stock exchange

Japanese architect Tadao Ando has been tapped to design a new museum inside one of Paris’s historical buildings, the former stock exchange Bourse de Commerce. On Monday, French billionaire and art collector François Pinault unveiled his plans to create a contemporary museum for his private art collection within the glass-domed building, which is steps away from the Louvre and the Palais Royal. Pinault, who has worked with Ando before on the Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana in Venice, chose him to lead the Paris project's design and preservation efforts, along with French firm NeM Architects, French National Heritage architect Pierre-Antoine Gatier, and engineering firm Setec. “Considering the scope of this challenge, it seemed obvious that I should entrust Tadao Ando with this mission, as Ando is one of the few architects working today who is able to create a dialogue between architecture and its context, its past and present, masterfully combining originality and discretion,” said François Pinault in a press release. Ando’s addition will be a cylinder in the iconic rotunda that will create three levels of gallery spaces that are open to the dome and encase an auditorium below ground. Corridors will also be constructed between the outside of the cylinder and the "interior facade" to create a new space for circulation. (The Bourse de Commerce incorporates several structures built over the centuries on that site; French architect Henri Blondel (1821-1897) designed an 1889 addition that serves as the current facade.) Besides a redesign of the internal space, the plans for the Bourse also include restoring its exterior and landmarked interiors—the internal facade, skylights, and frescoes. Restoration to the 19th century, neoclassical building is estimated to cost $121 million. The announcement also revives a long battle between the two well-known art collectors in France: Pinault and Bernald Arnault. They have both sought homes for their private art collections, with Arnault’s currently in the Frank Gehry–designed Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. The ambitious project takes on additional political significance in “tumultuous times,” where recurring terrorist incidents and Brexit cast doubt on what the future holds, as Ando described in a press release. “This is a project that calls on the people to recall France’s proud identity as a country of culture and art and to renew their hopes for the future.” The museum is expected to open in 2019.
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Costumes, capitalism, and poetry: new exhibit re-examines Walter Benjamin’s “Arcades Project”

For one delirious week, visitors to the Jewish Museum in New York could view the exhibit Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design downstairs, and go upstairs to see the exhibition The Arcades: Contemporary Art and Walter Benjamin. Chareau—the architect of the famous Parisian Maison de Verre—escaped successfully from Nazi Paris to New York, while Benjamin did not. In all probability, Benjamin never visited Chareau’s super-deluxe, bourgeois home-office of Dr. Jean Dalsace (built 1928–32), despite Benjamin’s admiration for metal-and-glass building fabrication as a symbol of modern life—following the modernist architectural historian Siegfried Gideon.

Benjamin, like the Surrealist poet Louis Aragon, author of Paris Peasant (1927), preferred to enjoy the ruins of bourgeois life: the decaying 19th-century glass-covered Parisian shopping arcades. There, the Surrealists met in their favorite cafe and imagined assignations with prostitutes, posing as tailors, service personnel, photographers, card engravers, or launderers in the small shops of the arcade. Before his suicide at the Spanish border fleeing the Nazis in 1940, Benjamin wrote the short essay “Paris: Capital of the 19th Century” (1935). This outlined his intention, beginning with the arcades, to describe the history of Paris as a modern city through its detritus—its fragmentary waste and destruction. It was a part of his larger project for a negative history of the bourgeoisie.

In contrast to the clarity and precision of the Diller Scofidio + Renfro–designed Chareau exhibition downstairs, with its historical documentation, imaginative recreations, virtual reality, and moving sectional projections, the Benjamin Arcades exhibition is perhaps appropriately a jumble of fragments. This impression seems strange at first, as Benjamin’s most famous essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1936), was a model of clarity, founding the discipline of modern media studies in mass societies. Here, Benjamin identified the handcraft aura of true artistic production as a still-humanist value in a modern, Marxist universe. Chareau’s handcrafted machine design downstairs might seem to successfully exemplify this desire for authenticity, yet nothing of this exemplary quality appears upstairs.

Benjamin’s unfinished Arcades Project consisted of 26 alphabetically ordered folders in capital letters—ten in lower case—with seemingly random titles containing photographs, research material, press cuttings, and pieces of his text that might be useful for the project. These are like word clouds surrounding a confusing and complex hidden virtual object of intellectual inquiry that would emerge in writing. Many scholars have investigated, prodded, and projected their thoughts into these word clouds, searching their meaning for several generations. The catalogue contains two worthy essays further contributing to this enormous scholarship, one explicitly exploring Benjamin’s idea of an urban, collective “optical unconscious.” Each exhibition piece is itself accompanied by a word cloud created by the contemporary American poet Kenneth Goldsmith. (There are also conventional wall texts.)

The idea of linking each of Benjamin’s alphabetical Parisian folders to a contemporary art piece drove the selection of the exhibition, which is entered through a ghostly and deliberately weak re-creation of a scaled-down Parisian arcade. Cindy Sherman, disguised as “a collector” in a huge framed photograph, confronts this tight entry in by far the most powerful correlation in the show. Sherman’s art of disguising her personal identity in other people’s apparatuses, clothes, styling, and cosmetics, ties directly to Benjamin’s reading of the modern city.

This selection highlights masks, alienation, and the “sandwich-board men” of Benjamin’s youth who carried advertisements on their fronts and backs on the Berlin sidewalks, hiding their humanity, like the Surrealists’ vision of the prostitutes marketing their beauty and bodies as products in the arcades. Other choices like an early Andy Warhol movie (in the “Boredom” folder!) echo this weakly. Still other choices, like Chris Burden’s miniature Tower of London Bridge model from a child’s construction kit, mock Benjamin’s enthusiastic predilection for the Positivist triumphs of bourgeois civil engineering (following Gideon), such as giant iron bridges and the Eiffel Tower.

The problem of the exhibition arises from the supposition that it is possible now to make a correct correlation back to Benjamin’s fragmentary notes that carries any real meaning. We live in a very different age of digital, not mechanical, reproduction. It is an age in which Sherman represents the new normal of what Benjamin would have called, following Marx, commodity fetishes and distractive phantasmagoria. As an architect and urbanist, I found Lee Friedlander’s 2011 photographs of New York shop windows reflecting the street, buildings, and sidewalks, and showing the clothing mannequins, to be the most evocative of Benjamin’s much-cited flâneur (whose leisurely gaze captured the working life of the city and its denizens). My other favorite item was only in the catalogue, a Benjamin’s Dream comic book (2016) by Vito Manola Roma. Here all of Benjamin’s fears and insecurities about capitalist monsters, women and sex, the city and infinite mazes, alienation and authenticity come alive in an evocative, furious, sometimes violent literary and visual fantasy world.

Benjamin’s unfinished project and fragmentary notes do remind us of just how fragile bourgeois life, freedoms, and culture are in times of economic distress and political extremism. Benjamin was a complicated character: a Marxist who resisted Communism having visited Moscow, a high bourgeois who sought social justice and a decent life for the majority following Bertolt Brecht, a secular, rational modernist who thought there were limits to our knowledge and believed in ancient myths, like the Jewish Kabbalah.

Leaving the aesthetics of the Arcades exhibition aside and its distractive phantasmagoria behind, and returning to the world outside, we enter the universe that drove him to suicide. The curators of this exhibition could not have foreseen this contemporary turn of American politics. So sadly, this exhibition reminds us powerfully of our own fragile situation and Benjamin’s horrible, confused, depressed, and weakened condition at the Spanish frontier in 1940. His companions crossed the frontier the next day; let us hope we will be so lucky.

The Arcades: Contemporary Art and Walter Benjamin The Jewish Museum Through August 6

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French housing tower wrapped in undulating balconies sculpts a new cityscape

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Paris-based Hamonic+Masson & Associés has completed a new housing tower that is composed of an angular core wrapped in undulating balconies. The project, titled "New’R," is located in Nantes, a city located in western France, and pays homage to Oscar Niemeyer as well as to the architecture of the 1970’s French Riviera. New’R contributes to an ongoing discussion about building height which according to the architects has become a pressing topic throughout the country. In 2015, the practice completed and delivered Paris’ first housing project measuring over 160-feet since the 1970s.
  • Facade Manufacturer Cladding: ALUBEL (product: OND-ALL 33, painted with RAL 9003 Signal White, 80% gloss)
  • Architects Hamonic+Masson & Associés (client: Kaufman & Broad)
  • Facade Installer Lucas Reha
  • Facade Consultants n/a
  • Location Nantes, France
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System Reinforced concrete load-bearing facade with exterior thermal insulation and aluminum cladding
  • Products Wooden balcony floor tiles: FGI (product: Snap and go); Greenhouse: EUROSERRE; Elevators: KONE; Lighting: DELTALIGHT (product: Super Oh)
Jean-Christophe Masson and Gaëlle Hamonic, principals at Hamonic+Masson & Associés, said the facade of the project was about connectivity to surrounding flows of the city’s people, cars, and bicycles: “The building’s transparency, depth, and various perspectives engender a dynamism and liveliness around the perimeter of the project, consequently enriching the surrounding environment.” New’R’s massing strategy pairs a simple faceted angular building envelope with outboard curvilinear balconies. Both the facade and balconies are outfitted with aluminum paneling from Italian-based ALUBEL. The building’s volume breaks down into four sub-towers helping to compliment the surrounding scale of the city while providing additional functional rooftop terrace space.  The architects say these intermediate landings produce a sequence within the volume of the tower that helps to produce a “graduated system of high-rise living.” The most impactful element of the project, New’R’s guardrails, are composed of two assembly types: an open rail system, and a perforated panel system. Furthermore, plant containers are selectively incorporated into the lower levels of the apartment building. The architects say this variation was contextual, citing higher floors allowed for unobstructed views while lower floors require more privacy. They also add that the building is an observation tower, both functionally, but also—and perhaps more importantly—symbolically. “Living here enables people to understand and appreciate the city that surrounds them: architecture in cinemascope.”
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Dominique Perrault reimagines the Île de la Cité in Paris

This article was originally published on ArchDaily as “Dominique Perrault Proposes "Island Monument" Plan For the Île de la Cité in Paris.” One of two islands in the Parisian Seine, the Île de la Cité is largely known to tourists as little more than the location of such popular destinations as the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Sainte Chapelle—a fate that belies the island's 2,000-year history as the center of Paris. However, now there are plans underway to restore the whole island to its former importance: under Philippe Bélaval, the French Centre for National Monuments has selected Dominique Perrault Architecture to design a 25-year master plan, titled "Mission Île de la Cité," to bring back the island’s relevance as something more than a dissonant collection of tourist destinations. From Roman times to the 1850s, the Île de la Cité was an active and evolving residential and commercial area, with its gradual, organic urbanization fueled by river trade and militarism. But in the 19th century, when Baron Haussmann’s massive urban planning project in Paris demolished small, winding streets and built large blocks and avenues in their place, the island was not exempt from the overhaul. Today, few of the original residential and commercial communities remain. Arteries that move tourist traffic between landmarks are overcrowded with visitors, while the rest of the island, empty and undesirable to locals, experiences lifelessness and population decline. Haussmann's inaccessible public squares sit unused and hidden by large administrative buildings, and a lack of pedestrian pathways keeps locals from ever crossing the bridge onto the Île de la Cité. The legacy of 19th-century urbanism is the main reason behind the island’s slow degeneration as a residential neighborhood, but it still holds some of its built history and sinuous alleys in a few untouched areas. The Mission Île de la Cité comes at a time when key administrative organizations, such as the Court of Justice, police headquarters, and Hôtel-Dieu, are planning relocations away from the island, meaning large footprints will be left behind for repurposing. Dominique Perrault Architecture was selected for their experience in similar heritage and regeneration work, including such projects as the Pavilion Dufour Château at Versailles and the Pont de Sèvres Towers – Citylights Renovation. The final goal for 2040 is, in the words of the designers, to transform the area, "evolving the island of monuments toward an 'island monument.'" The design aims to represent the island's many layers of history, uses, and interest groups. The proposal is made up of 35 interventions of different scales and programs meant to regenerate locals’ interest in the island, reclaim and reappropriate unused square footage and public space, and honor the area's historic architecture and urbanism. In order to draw public attention to the proposal, the plan for Mission Île de la Cité is currently on display at the Conciergerie Museum until April 17th, along with a book, app, and online virtual guide to the island and its proposed interventions. Written by Isabella Baranyk Archdaily_Collab_1
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New details emerge for EXPO CHICAGO’s Palais de Tokyo exhibition

Representatives from EXPO CHICAGO, Paris’s contemporary art venue Palais de Tokyo, the Institut français, and the DuSable Museum of African American History have announced the location of the Palais de Tokyo’s off-site exhibition for this year’s EXPO CHICAGO, opening this September. Along with the announcement of the exhibition’s location, it was also revealed, at least in part, what the format of the show would be. The site for the exhibition will be the Roundhouse at the DuSable Museum near the University of Chicago, on the city’s South Side. The Roundhouse, which was designed by Burnham and Root in the late 19th century, was originally used for equestrian activities in Washington Park, where it and the DuSable are located. The structure includes an impressive wood dome, which has been completely refurbished along with the rest of the building in recent years. The Palais de Tokyo show will be the first public exhibition in the space. "As we continue to build support for EXPO CHICAGO’s extraordinary collaboration with the Palais de Tokyo, no venue in Chicago is more appropriate to host the first U.S.-based iteration of the renowned French institution’s Hors Les Murs program than the Roundhouse at the DuSable Museum of African American History," said EXPO CHICAGO President/Director Tony Karman. "The institutional connection and historical relevance of the Roundhouse provides a perfect setting for the local and global art and architecture communities to engage in this landmark exhibition." The show will be curated by Palais de Tokyo’s Katell Jaffrès, with exhibition design by designer Andrew Schachman, who was nominated by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. Focusing on “the dialogue between architecture and artistic process,” the exhibition will fill the 17,000-square-foot building with site-specific works by a yet-to-be-announced group of artists.  The artists will be from France and Chicago, and will work closely with Schuchman to conceive pieces that are not only works of art, but also spaces able to receive the works of others. The clear connection to architectural installations helps align the show with the Chicago Architecture Biennial, which will coincide with the opening of EXPO. “The simultaneity of EXPO CHICAGO and the Chicago Architecture Biennial provides the opportunity to affirm the vital relationship between the two disciplines of art and architecture,” said Palais de Tokyo President Jean de Loisy under the massive wooden dome. “Just as El Lissitzky did with his Proun Rooms, or Frederick Kiesler for Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of this Century Gallery in 1942, we are devising an imbrication of the constructive activities of artists with the possibility of external interferences on their structures coming from other, complicit artists. Palais de Tokyo is thus bringing together artists from the French and Chicago scenes to produce a show conceived to be something utterly unusual.” The show will be executed in two parts over coming months, first as a residency and then as the exhibition. The residency work in partnership with Mana Contemporary Chicago, which will give the resident artist space to produce their large-scale pieces. The entire program will be the first in a new three-year program in Chicago that has been developed by the Palais de Tokyo and the Institut français. EXPO Chicago will run from Thursday, September 14th through Sunday, Sept. 17th.
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Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers’ culture factory for the people: a building that at 40 years old, still looks to the future.

"Life begins at forty!" say most with a glint in their eye and a glass of bubbly in raised hand. That phrase though, belongs to those who know they will not live much past twice that age—if they're lucky. Inaugurated to the public in Paris on January 31, 1977, and celebrating its 40th birthday today is The Pompidou Center. Its architects, however, imagine a far greater lifespan for their building: Renzo Piano hopes it will last for two millennia. "We believe that the life of this building will be 2,000 years so we don’t care so much about 40 years," said Piano speaking to Rowan Moore in The Observer. "The Colosseum is still there so I don’t see why it won’t be still there." Both Italian-born architects, Piano and Richard Rogers (the latter settling in England during WWII) led the design team behind the now iconic building. The pair worked alongside architects Gianfranco Franchini and John Young, also from Italy and Britain respectively, as well as Arup engineers. Though much-loved and well-visited today, the Pompidou Center suffered a rocky start when completed forty years ago. "Not many outside the charmed circle of modern architecture have even heard of Archigram and of its apocalyptic struggles in an unresponsive society," said Reyner Banham in the year of the Pompidou's opening. "...You don’t go to Paris to look at post-Corbusian modern architecture. Why then was the [Pomoidou Center] built to this sort of design?" he questioned. Back then, as it still does so today, the Pompidou rises up above the enclaves of its Haussmannian surroundings of Paris' 4th arrondissement. Tall buildings in the French capital are seldom met with open arms and the 149-foot-tall structural behemoth was no exception. Despite its sheer mass detracting from this notion (it's 544 feet long and 197 feet wide), even President Pompidou who commissioned the building was struck. Rogers recalled his reaction: "all he said was “Ça va faire crier” [This is going to make a noise]." The flower-power foursome, however, weren't deterred. Building on the radical architecture conceptualized by Archigram (Plug-in City) and Cedric Price (Fun Palace), and even built by Eb Zeidler (Ontario Place), Rogers and Piano sought to propose an essentially living building. Within their monumental megastructure, floors would move up and down, escalators would propel visitors up the side of the facade and screens would display messages to the masses. The Pompidou Center was to be a factory of culture. (Interestingly, Piano used this metaphor to describe his science center for Columbia University completed last year.) Sadly, only the escalators prevailed, but the structure remained an icon of "inside-out" and "high-tech" architecture. It's active facade, visibly alive with visitors milling around, also showcases an array of structural detailings. With this external framework set for an amalgamation of complexities, Piano and Rogers originally planned for the structure to be able to have parts easily added to and taken away. The factory would change with technology. This too, however, was never realized. Their approach also perhaps reflects part of Piano's childhood past. Growing up, his four other brothers were all builders. In an interview with The New Yorker, Piano recalled how his father questioned his teenage desire to be an architect and not a builder. "Keeping the action together with the conception is maybe a way to feel less guilty," he contemplated in 1994. The ideas found in the Pompidou can still be seen in Piano's work today. Extensive fenestration, openness, and proud and explicit tectonics are all prevalent themes throughout his projects. Perhaps this is because he sees the Pompidou Center more than most architects. The office of his namesake's firm (Renzo Piano Building Workshop) and even his apartment are located in the Marais District, a few blocks from the former Center Beaubourg site. While massive in scale though, the Pompidou Center doesn't fill all the space it was allocated. A sloping plaza which backs onto a series of unmissable air vents (which, in turn, outline the perimeter footprint of the center) allows the public to watch the goings on inside. In fact, 118,400 square feet of glass was used to compose the plaza-facing facade. On the roof, visitors can still enjoy vistas over Paris in all directions, taking in rare views over rooftops and onto the Eiffel Tower. Such egalitarian ideas had roots in Rogers' architectural education. Under the leftist stewardship of Paul Rudolph and Buckminster Fuller, Rogers studied at Yale where he befriended fellow compatriot Norman Foster. Foster later went on to design high-tech architecture evocative of the Pompidou Center himself (see the Renault Distribution Center, 1982), reaching similar architectural heights in the process. The left-leaning ideas Rogers ingested, meanwhile, manifested in his and Piano's only collaboratively designed work. This was no chance occurrence. The pair felt they could win the favor of Jean Prouvé, a member of the awarding jury who preferred social housing to extravagant culture palaces. “We saw that it might also be about ethics, people, society," said Piano. "We were young but we were not stupid. We saw some sign of a possible miracle.” (Side note: Philip Johnson was also a jury member) Rogers' and Piano's meeting, however, was arguably more fortuitous. In 1969, when at the Architectural Association in London presenting his exhibit on light-weight structures, Piano bumped into a doctor for whom Rogers had designed a dwelling. The doctor, while worried one of his sons had given Rogers chicken pox, took Piano to meet Rogers. Rogers would later describe Piano and himself as "probably as close together in outlook as any two architects around." They both went on to win the Pritzker Prize. 1969 was a momentous year for many reasons. Warren Chalk of Archigram wrote an article titled: “Owing to lack of interest, tomorrow has been cancelled.” A riff on Irene Kampen's title, Chalk inferred the diminishing possibilities of a technological, utopian architecture. In France, Georges Pompidou was announced as President. As Banham suggested, Pompidou probably hadn't read Chalk's brooding, and so threw caution to the wind. With the dust still settling from the 1968 May riots which had brought social upheaval, a snap election and a veer to the left, Pompidou furthered former President's Charles de Gaulle's idea for a free library on the Plateau Beaubourg in Paris. Pompidou also demanded that the building also became a center for the contemporary arts as the French capital feared its waning prowess in the art world. A competition was launched and 681 entrants from 49 countries saw their chance. Piano, Rogers, Young and Franchini—all in their early thirties—emerged as the unlikely victors. The group's submission, like Piano and Rogers' meeting, also rode its luck as it erred on the verge of not happening at all. Rogers opposed the idea of submitting, being more interested in a competition for a smaller museum in Glasgow. In what Piano described as a "beautiful little memo," Rogers outlined his case. "Being an old lefty, I didn't believe in a centralized, government-run art center, and certainly not one built in the heart of Paris," he said in 1994. Thankfully Piano, structural engineer Ted Happold, and Rogers' former wife Su were able to twist his arm. While its initial ill-favor is well documented, one wonders if the reaction would have been different had the Pompidou Center been completed earlier. With the spirit of '68 still fresh in everyone's minds, its values would have been both more apparent and relevant. Georges Pompidou did not live to see the building's completion and was not there to vouch for it. A decade after the center was built, however, another president, Francois Mitterrand, also shared Piano and Rogers' skyward vision. In 1987, Mitterand inaugurated a clock that counted down to the end of the century. "A nation must orient its gaze toward the future," he said. While that milestone has passed, no one has yet put a clock to countdown to the Pompidou Center's 2,000th birthday. A two-year renovation in 2000 saw enlargements made to the center's performance spaces, museum, and restaurant. Though this also resulted in visitors having to pay to use the exterior escalators, the center hasn't lost its appeal. At forty, the culture factory is still functioning. Still the biggest museum for modern art in Europe—boasting more than 50,000 works from 5,000 artists—the Pompidou Center continues to attract tourists in their droves—averaging around 3.8 million a year—from France and across the world.