On Saturday night, New York's architecture community gathered in Manhattan's historic 69th Regiment Armory to celebrate the Architectural League of New York on the centennial of the original 1913 Armory Show. The sold out party welcomed 1,350 design-minded revelers dressed as their favorite "–ism," the theme of this year's event, representing everything from surrealism, revivalism, Dadaism, classicism, and brutalism. In all, over $100,000 was raised for the League. SITU Studio designed an installation to bring scale to the cavernous armory space, working with Renfro Design Group on an integrated lighting scheme. A series of white fabric prisms were suspended from the ceiling, serving to humanize the space while providing an armature for digital projections. Pulsing music built excitement throughout the night, which culminated in a procession of giant vellum marionettes, each controlled by a team of three performance artists, and a troupe of vellum-clad artists wandering through the armory, encouraging attendees to dance. Photos by Fran Parente.
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In 1913, the 69th Regiment Armory in Manhattan hosted what was then considered the most shocking art exhibition the public had ever seen. The International Exhibition of Modern Art, which came to be called The Armory Show, introduced modern European art to an East Coast audience. A showcase of -ism art movements then in development and exploration by artists now considered masters of their craft, the event was transgressive; it induced backlash from several publications and from former President Theodore Roosevelt who commented that “the lunatic fringe was fully in evidence.” Yet, even in his blatant dislike of the artworks displayed, President Roosevelt admitted the importance of the show’s existence, its revelation of the European “art forces that cannot be ignored.” This Saturday, September 28, in a centennial homage of the show that shocked the American world, the Architectural League of New York is hosting their annual Beaux Arts Ball in the same venue. Taking inspiration from a space originally meant for National Guard trainings and military activities, the ball will work with and within the great hall to transform its appearance, shockingly. (And tickets are on sale now!) Designed in 1903 by the architecture competition-winning firm Hunt & Hunt, the 69th Regiment Armory reflects the Beaux Arts style, featuring a sweeping hall with exposed interior structure and a symmetrical brick façade covering its exterior. According to Situ Studio, the environment created for Arch League’s 2013 Beaux Arts Ball will feature “an array of tensegrity structures that will rise above and dip below and existing cable grid datum 20 feet overhead.” This array includes an artistic matrix of sculptural, yet lightweight, fabric shapes that will float above partygoers. Accompanied by responsive lighting by Renfro Design Group, a performance of huge Processional Arts Workshop puppets, and sound installation by Nathan Halpern, the event will recreate the 28,000 square feet civic space as a completely different environment, a modern version of the inflammatory Armory Show that transpired there a century ago. Celebrate your favorite -ism at the party of the year. The Architectural League of New York’s 2013 Beaux Arts Ball September 28, 2013 9:00PM - 1:00AM 69th Regiment Armory at Lexington Avenue New York City For tickets, go to: archleague.org/2013/09/beaux-arts-ball-2013 Beaux Arts Ball 2013 - Design Preview from Situ Studio on Vimeo.
More than four years after opening its Renzo Piano-designed expansion, The Morgan Library & Museum has given its 1906 McKim, Mead & White building a loving restoration, expertly executed by Beyer Blinder Belle. In addition to cleaning the mosaics and marbles, the Museum has opened two new spaces to the public, Pierpont Morgan's vault and the serene North Room, formerly the director's office. The renovation allows more of the museum's permanent collection to be displayed, and allows curators to better display those objects, thanks in large part to the exacting lighting design by Renfro Design Group. The Rotunda (above) glows with new lighting and cleaned surfaces and five new display cases, lit with fiber optics, to show the institution's fascinating collection, including a "life mask" of George Washington, a cast of his face made while he was alive as a study for a sculpture (in the case on the right). The East Room has three tiers of rare books, illuminated with strip LEDs, accessible to staff by secret passageways (no kidding). The new display cases match the walnut of the existing bookshelves, but use a more contemporary design vocabulary. The carpet, though of the period, is also new to the room. The dramatic pendant lamp is original to the room, though it had been in storage for many years. The more intimately scaled North Room served as the office of the collection's first librarian and curator, and later became the directors office. Open to the public for the first time, the room will house rare books above the mezzanine, with a permanent installation of antiquities in new shallow display cases below. The vast West Room served as Morgan's library and displays some of the paintings and majolica he collected, largely in the last 15 years of his life. The vault, visible at left, often held objects Morgan was considering for purchase. The vault now offers more space for display, and gives visitors a glimpse into Morgan's life as a collector. The restored McKim, Mead & White building opens to the public on Saturday, October 30.