Archaic methods and practices in the context of contemporary architecture are the common themes for two new exhibitions presented by Art Omi: Architecture, the nonprofit Hudson Valley, New York, arts foundation and exhibition space. The two shows, Single-Handedly: Contemporary Architects Draw by Hand and InConstruction: SO – IL, both opened on January 11. Single-Handedly brings together a collection of hand drawings from a group of 44 contemporary architects, focusing on a practice that seems to have become all but obsolete in the architecture industry today. The exhibition showcases the work of architects from all over the world, including Fernanda Canales and Liesbeth van der Pol. Taking on a range of materials and subject matter, the exhibition suggests that an important place for handmade drawings continues to exist outside the regime of digital and computational technologies. Bending the rules and traditions of architectural representation, the collection shows handwork is as relevant as ever for practicing architects. Single-Handedly was co-curated by Warren James, director of Art Omi: Architecture, and Nalina Moses, author of Single-Handedly: Contemporary Architects Draw by Hand. The exhibition will be on view through March 1 in the Newmark Gallery. InConstruction: SO – IL highlights the construction of Site Verrier de Meisenthal, an art and cultural center set within an 18th-century glass factory designed by the New York-based architectural firm SO – IL. The MoMA PS1 Young Architects prize-winning firm designed an “intervention” of the historic space that would bring a “contemporary institutional identity in dialogue with an industrial heritage” Through models, drawings, and photographs, the exhibition explores Site Verrier de Meisenthal, located in a French village near the German border, as a contemporary art and community space that continues the area’s glasswork tradition. Once completed in 2021, the project will contain a glass museum, glass arts center, as well as a flexible exhibition and event space. With a poured concrete plaza that connects the disparate institutions, SO – IL will also bring renewed public involvement to the historic industrial space. InConstruction: SO - IL is on-view through February 9th in the Kantor Lobby.
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For many in Mexico, the phrase “social housing” conjures images of vast housing tracts falling into disrepair, abandoned by workers tired of two-hour commutes. While architects and planners look back to understand what went wrong in the country’s early-2000s push to build affordable housing on city outskirts, authorities and designers are also looking ahead to explore alternative strategies. The Municipal Housing Institute (IMUVI) of León, a city of 1.6 million people in the central state of Guanajuato, invited Brooklyn firm SO – IL to collaborate on the design of a new prototype for social housing in the city’s center, and the team broke ground on the result, the Las Américas project, in May. Designed for low-income families, the building includes 56 apartments, most of which will be sold at far-below-market rates. Guanajuato is traditionally known for its artisanal leatherworking, but more recently, rapid growth in the auto-manufacturing industry has transformed the region; León’s population has doubled since the 1980s. Like many Mexican cities, it grew outward, with limited government planning. Some new arrivals built informal settlements on the city edges or, with access to credit, bought into exurban subdivisions. IMUVI faces two monumental tasks: regularizing the informal settlements, which requires extending utility services and other infrastructure and building housing for those who still need it. According to Amador Rodríguez, director of IMUVI León, 45 percent of the city’s residents don’t have access to federal housing credit or traditional bank loans. Rodríguez estimates that the city needs another 80,000 housing units to meet the demand. Instead of building more units on the outskirts, far from schools, jobs, and services, IMUVI has committed to densifying the city center. Working with SO – IL, IMUVI identified a lot in a downtown neighborhood to build Las Américas, a 62,431-square-foot complex of one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments. SO – IL’s partnership with IMUVI began when Florian Idenburg, the firm’s Dutch co-founder, was invited to Mexico to share his experience with the firm’s New York City micro-housing project tiNY, lessons from which informed Las Américas. “Affordability should not go against quality,” said Idenburg. “And one of the qualities that is very important to us is light.” Thanks to single-loaded open-air corridors, the apartments in Las Américas receive natural light from at least two sides. No two units directly face each other, maintaining both density and privacy. The housing block wraps around two shared courtyards, while openings in the building’s mass create additional, elevated common spaces. Exterior stairwells link each level. Idenburg said these features foster interaction between neighbors and a sense of community. “It was very refreshing to work with this team in León,” Idenburg said. Even with a limited budget, he said, there are opportunities for customization in Mexico that can lend character to what could otherwise be a uniform building. The team worked with local fabricators to develop a precast concrete brick that can be installed in different positions, creating a variety of wall textures for the apartments. “We made really nice custom windows that are hand-welded,” he added. “You probably wouldn’t be able to do that in the United States because of cost.” The design process included workshops and meetings in León to understand the needs of low-income families. SO – IL worked pro bono on the project. “It was a very productive collaboration,” said Idenburg. “Everything was very collective.” While construction continues, IMUVI is identifying families to move into Las Américas. Out of a total of 56 apartments, 44 will be priced at just under half a million Mexican pesos (about $25,000), the legal limit for a social housing unit. The remaining 12 units will be available at market price to families with federal Infonavit (workers’ housing) credit. “I hope other people will see our project and think it is possible to achieve density and affordability in the city center,” Idenburg said. Finding central but affordable lots is an ongoing challenge for agencies like IMUVI, but Idenburg hopes Las Américas can become a model for social housing in city centers and inspire projects in developing economies facing similar conditions.
The 37-acre Artpark in Lewiston, New York, straddles the Niagara River and Canadian border and has been showcasing public land art, installations, and performances for over 40 years. Now, the Artpark & Company board of directors has tapped SO-IL, urban designers and landscape architects West 8, and theater and digital design consultants Charcoalblue to create a master plan for the park that will modernize it for the 21st Century. The Artpark was, from its conception, an artificial landscape, as it was built in a quarry on top of waste material from the construction of the Niagara Power Plant, a hydroelectric plant nearby. The new master plan takes what works about the extent park and enhances it, while overlaying three key design principles, according to West 8. The first principle is “revealing a new nature,” or using strategic cuts to sculpt the landscape of the park and create programmatic areas using the cuts or plateaus created. Viewing platforms for land art will be created this way, surrounded by walking paths. An outdoor amphitheater is at the heart of the master plan and will be created by scooping out a deep depression and molding “mound” seats for the audience around the center stage, set against the bank of the adjacent river. The second principle, “amplifying environments,” means hills and galleries will be treated to capture views of the surrounding Niagara river and gorges, as well as the rest of the Artpark. New bridges, paths, and viewing platforms will also be integrated. The third, and most esoteric principle is “modulating frequencies,” or tuning the park’s programming to the seasons. Different performances, and new outdoor performance spaces, will build on the concerts offered in the summer and offer year-round reasons to visit. The new master plan is the fruit of a study commissioned in 2017, and will be funded by private donors, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, and Empire State Development, as the Artpark is part of the New York State Parks system. Artpark is welcoming public feedback from residents and parkgoers and will be fielding questions about the new plan at a public forum at 6:00 p.m. on June 5 inside the Mainstage Theater.
Three finalists have been invited to develop their ideas for new public spaces at a former General Motors site in Indianapolis. The developer Ambrose Property Group partnered with Exhibit Columbus and the Central Indiana Community Foundation to identify a shortlist of studios to develop specific areas of Waterside, a massive $1.4 billion redevelopment of the 103-acre former GM stamping plant site. The shortlisted teams are: 1) Hood Design Studio with Thomas Phifer and Partners and Arup; 2) SCAPE with SO-IL, Guy Nordenson and Associates, James Lima Planning + Development, Art Strategies, Nelson\Nygaard, and Manuel Miranda Practice; and 3) Snøhetta with Moody Nolan, Arup, HR&A, Art Strategies, and Chris Wangro. According to the announcement, the finalists were selected based on their experience working on projects of a similar size and scale as well as for their design acumen. Waterside was announced last year by Ambrose as a new downtown district on the site of the former GM plant that has sat in disuse since the motor company declared bankruptcy almost a decade ago. (The same site was also being proposed as a potential Amazon HQ2 hub by Indiana officials). It would include 1,350 residential units, 620 hotel rooms, 2.75 million square feet of office space, and 100,000 square feet of retail with a projected development timeline of 15 years. The Waterside Design Competition zeroes in on the adaptive reuse of 25,000 square feet of the Albert Kahn–designed Crane Bay; the design of a public plaza around Crane Bay; and a pedestrian connection across the White River to link the site to Indianapolis's urban core. The three teams will present their design philosophies and approaches to the public on June 12 in Indianapolis. Later in October, they will present their conceptual schemes, and the winner will be decided by a jury of community stakeholders and national experts.
This past fall, Dong-Ping Wong of Food took over a storefront near his firm’s Chinatown office to launch a radical pop-up educational and hangout space he called Office Hours. Along with workshops and other programming, Wong led an audio livestream, Food Radio, where he invited over 50 guests—artists, architects, designers, musicians publishers, and more—for nearly 40 conversations. Now, all the broadcasts have been archived and are ready to be listened to anytime on Food’s website. Office Hours’ mission from the get-go was about inclusion, education, and action across race, class, and age facilitated by an open door policy, workshops throughout the day, and Food designers going out to round up local kids and teens at the library. Hardly recorded in a isolated soundproof room, the Food Radio conversations took place in the back of the pop-up's narrow storefront space, and during the broadcasts you can hear Wong and his guests chatting with people coming in and out who might’ve come to say hi or listen live, or just to see what this new space on the street was all about. By bringing together a broad swath of architects, curators, politicians, and others, Wong wanted to show people, especially younger generations, that making a career out of creative work was possible and to highlight the experiences of creative people who local children might identify with. As New York state assembly member Yuh-Line Niou told Wong, she believes it's necessary to “tell young people not to self-select out,” that just because they haven’t seen people of their background—children of immigrants, people of color, people of various class origins—yet in fields that they might find interesting, or this is “the first time they’re seeing it,” that it remains possible for them to follow these paths, and, perhaps more importantly, make their own. Many of these guests really got their starts by daring to do something that no one else had done, Wong explained. “We've seen a lot of our guests using a lack of familiar model as a springboard to do something totally unique," Wong said. "Sometimes you just have to make stuff when nobody asked you to.” The expansive and radical proposition of Food is to make new possibilities for others. While all of the conversations were original and informative, some standouts include those with architects Toshiko Mori and Tei Carpenter of Agency—Agency, mother and daughter (though with their own, separate firms), for their first family interview; creative director Heron Preston, who has collaborated with Kanye West (Wong has, too) and Virgil Abloh; SO-IL co-founder and principal Jing Liu; Oana Stanescu, who ran Family with Wong; and Christopher Leong and Dominic Leong of Leong Leong. Many of the conversations were both seriously casual and casually serious, much like the whole project. Mori and Carpenter, for example, explored a range of topics: what they did that week; how they each got their start; how to learn from one another as architects across generations; how they’re approaching their careers differently; being Asian women in the field; the responsibility of architects to engage and communicate across disciplinary and political lines; the field’s need for a “diversification of moral practice;" and that perennially impossible problem many of us face: knowing when to say no. Since Office Hours has gone off the street and there’s no chance to drop in any more, these recordings offer an opportunity to connect, listen, and share across disciplines, time, and geography and are an imperative intervention to shift the conversation on architectural practice and, simply, remind everyone to believe in their own power and creative drive.
Ilias Papageorgiou has stepped away from SO-IL, after having been a partner at the New York–based firm for five years. During Papageorgiou's tenure, SO-IL developed itself into an internationally recognized design firm, completing projects in Paris, Seoul, and Milan, working with Mini Living, Versace, the Guggenheim Museum, and other clients. SO-IL's more recognizable projects include the Kukje Gallery, the Frieze Art Fair pavilion in Chicago, Pole Dance in New York, and the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art in Davis, California. To add to this list of accomplishments, SO-IL published its "visual and textual manifesto," entitled Solid Objective: Order, Edge, Aura, co-authored by Papageorgiou in 2017. Jing Liu and Florian Idenburg, SO-IL cofounders, will be staying at the firm. Papageorgiou, an Athens-born architect, is a graduate of Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece, and Harvard University's Graduate School of Design. Papageorgiou is an adjunct assistant professor at Columbia University's School of Architecture and Planning, having previously taught at Tulane and University of Thessaly in Greece. Papageorgiou is starting PILA, an Athens and New York–based architecture firm.
Last Night I Dreamt I Was a Robot Selfies on Parade Dadwhyareyousonegative No, these are not leaked track titles from Beyoncé’s next album. They are songs from Practicing Spaces, a mixtape that collects the work of other, much less well-known musicians who have one conspicuous thing tying them together: they’re all architects. Readers may know Michael Meredith of MOS Architects and Florian Idenburg of SO – IL from their work in their day jobs, but by night, these architects unleash their true passions, plug in the amp, and let the music play. Melissa J. Frost, a designer and studio instructor at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, compiled and produced the mixtape after a conversation with Eric Bunge of nArchitects made her realize that several of her architect friends had bands on the side. “Eric was saying that he tries to get together to play music with Florian Idenburg and Michael Meredith, and he still has a practice space in his basement,” Frost said. She quickly tracked down music from other figures in the field, like Michael Young, her master’s thesis advisor at Princeton, and Wendy Gilmartin, a colleague at Pomona. Some of the tracks are deep cuts that date back to youthful experimentations. Daniel Barber, now an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, closes out the tape with the oldest inclusion, a recording from the stage of Lollapalooza 1995, where he performed as part of the band Blowhole. Others are evidence that some architects are actively writing, recording, and performing music. Neil Denari’s track, Music For One, comes fresh from 2018. The tape pulls from over a dozen different acts, but they all hew to a similar aesthetic. Many are non-vocal, with electronic and guitar instrumentation and meandering song structures. “I think, like, a more instrumental or abstracted relationship to a song is inherently connected to spatial awareness or spatial perception,” Frost hypothesized. “I do think there are aesthetic connections between each person's individual song, and their individual work,” Frost said. “I think with most of them it’s extremely obvious…Michael Meredith’s kind of pared down electronic awkward sampled song really looks like their, I think they call it, their 1983 Atari-style drawings.” Frost released the tape as part of her IIIII Columns project, an online platform where she has published other work that falls outside traditional disciplinary boundaries, like a harm-reduction guide for performance venues or “a catalog of marxist modernist home goods.” The mixtape, which is being published in a limited run on physical cassette tapes, “is supposed to be kind of difficult to get ahold of,” said Frost, but she is planning a series of listening parties across the country. Frost, a musician herself, declined to include her work in the mix. “It was a little too weird to put myself on it,” she said, “so I decided not to.” To order the mixtape, visit the IIIII Columns site here. Tracklist: Michael Meredith - Dadwhyareyousonegative Tim Durfee - Selfies on Parade Eric Bunge - Cellar Kazys Varnelis - Stillwater James Graham & Stephen Nielson - Last Night I Dreamt I Was a Robot Neil Denari - Music For One Mariana Ibañez, Simon Kim - Hate 1,2 (stop the violence) Wendy Gilmartin - White Midnight Florian Idenburg - Track 12 Enrique Ramirez - Lullaby From The West Coast Sleepers Benjamin Bratton - Texture 4 George Crumb Michael Young - If it Falls Apart Alfredo Thiermann - Land in the Sky Matt Olsen - Motion Block Esther Choi - track 3 Daniel Barber - Needlefoam
Earlier this year, when architect Dong-Ping Wong branched out to start his own firm, he found himself going through name after name but none seemed to have the right ring. Finally, the word “food” occurred to him. Ridiculous at first, it wouldn’t leave his head, and so it stuck. Food, the firm, was born. Food, said Wong, is “something that everyone has an association with and a relationship to.” It is something people “can come together around.” Food as an architecture firm name, he points out, is unfortunately also very hard to Google. But that hasn't stopped them from working on projects for clients ranging from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to Kanye and Kim Kardashian West. But it's their most recent project, Office Hours, where the name's magnanimous universalism really shines through. For Office Hours, Food has taken over a storefront on East Broadway in New York’s Chinatown for three weeks of programming centered around an online radio station (to be distributed in more permanent format later) as well as various community projects and events. All manner of creative people, like chef Angela Dimayuga, artist Jon Wang, designers Chen Chen and Kai Williams, SO-IL partner Jing Liu, DJ Venus X, and creative director Heron Preston have come through and spoken on the air. As the website for Office Hours notes, the events, like actual office hours, also serve as an “open invitation.” People can come in and listen, and youth are particularly encouraged. In fact, Food members have stopped by the public library on more than one occasion to invite kids and teens in and people have come in off the street to do work or check out the "reading room." Office Hours is committed to promoting people of color and those who live in the largely-immigrant neighborhood. As the project description notes, “In New York City, one in four Asian Americans live below the poverty line…Unsurprisingly, many young people that grow up in this environment self-limit what they see themselves being able to do.” The purpose of Office Hours, in part, is to expand this range of vision and imagination by introducing youth to the whole array of future possibilities for themselves. The space, which is laid out with some wiggly custom-made gray plywood tables held up by Ikea desk legs, has hosted happenings for all ages—from drawing lessons to impromptu happy hours. Office Hours continues through November 16 and all are invited to intend. The schedule and the live stream are available on Food's website.
This fall, the Cutchogue New Suffolk Library will be hosting an exhibition on the modernist homes sweeping North Fork, a beach community on New York's Long Island. A New Wave of Modern Architecture on the North Fork will catalogue the work of six architects and firms who have completed modernist projects across the enclave. Columbia art history professor Barry Bergdoll previously curated Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive at the Museum of Modern Art. A New Wave of Modern Architecture on the North Fork will open with a wine and cheese reception on September 7 and will run through September and October at the library’s rotating exhibition space, the Upstairs Gallery. The architects featured will include SO-IL, Shenton Architects, Joseph Tanney and Robert Luntz from Resolution: 4 Architecture, who specialize in prefabricated modern homes, William Ryall of Ryall Sheridan Architects, Richard Gluckman of Gluckman Tang Architects, Allan Wexler, and John Berg of Berg Design Architecture. New York design firm 2x4 will be designing the exhibition, and the Friends of the Cutchogue New Suffolk Library, a group of patrons and businesses who support and help program events at the library, will be hosting the event. While the bulk of the exhibition will cover work in the area designed after the year 2000, homes by Tony Smith and the sharply-angled houses of Charles Moore will be mentioned on a text panel at the show's entrance.
Exhibit Columbus has announced the winners of the 2018-2019 J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize competition. The five winning firms will be featured in the Docomomo US and Exhibit Columbus 2018 National Symposium, titled Design, Community, and Progressive Preservation, taking place September 26 through 29. Firms will then return on January 19 to present their design concepts to the community. Each firm is tasked with constructing site-responsive installations that interact with Columbus’s midcentury modern heritage, with the final works opening to the public on August 24, 2019. This is the second year that the Miller Prize has been awarded. Here are the five winning firms: Agency Landscape + Planning With work that ranges from the Chicago Riverwalk to a two-year examination of the post-Hurricane Sandy landscape, Cambridge-based Agency has a deep commitment to ecological and social mindfulness. Agency is currently leading the White River Vision Plan, a year-long strategic plan for redeveloping 58 miles of southern Indiana river. Bryony Roberts Studio New York-based Bryony Roberts Studio uses design to bring intangible heritage and social histories to contemporary audiences, often through distinctive collaborations. As a participant in the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial, Bryony Roberts brought the South Shore Drill Team to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Federal Center for an electrifying performance that used careful choreography to mirror the lines of the iconic modernist plaza. Frida Escobedo Studio Fresh off her commission to design the 2018 Serpentine Pavilion in London’s Kensington Gardens, Mexico City-based Frida Escobedo creates sophisticated structural forms using vernacular materials and methods, including concrete block, brise-soleil, and post and beam. MASS Design Group Based in Boston, and Kigali, Rwanda, non-profit MASS Design Group believes that architecture is never neutral, and that it has the power to heal. The firm’s work includes both research and design. This spring MASS Design Group unveiled the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. SO-IL With work that creates “structures that establish new cultures, institutions, and relationships,” New York-based SO-IL created L'air pour l'air for the second Chicago Architecture Biennial in 2017, a project that brought the firm to the Garfield Park Conservatory, where they encased an ensemble of wind instrument players in air-filtering mesh enclosures, designed to clean the air through breathing.
Brooklyn-based SO-IL and Cleveland’s JKurtz Architects have been chosen to design Cleveland’s new Martin Luther King, Jr. branch of the public library system. The team was selected by the Cleveland Public Library (CPL) Board of Trustees on June 15, beating out other big-name teams including MASS Design Group with LDA Architects, and Bialosky Cleveland with Vines Architecture. The winning scheme is laden with design flourishes that nod to King’s legacy and seek to bring people together. “We looked to Dr. King’s words for our inspiration. The table of brotherhood led us to our vision—a table large enough to host all communities,” said co-founder of SO-IL Jing Liu during their presentation before the board. “What we made here is not a static symbol but a place where people come together and interact.” The “table of brotherhood,” a metaphor from King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, will be physically embodied at the new branch by a large, multi-use table at the heart of the team’s plan. A staircase up to an elevated area will reference King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech and patrons can find the library’s future collection of Anisfield-Wolf books; those that recognize racism and celebrate diversity. A “virtual garden,” interactive “Freedom Map” podium, a “Living Wall” that projects rearranging words, and a “Virtual Garden” are all in the works for the new museum. “SO-IL + JKurtz proposed a functional, beautiful space that speaks to Dr. King’s vision of social justice and equality. The Board found the design inventive and creative, with many features that can make this branch world-class,” said Maritza Rodriguez, President of the Cleveland Public Library Board of Trustees in a statement. The city is now in negotiations with the architectural team, and no construction date or budget have been made public yet. The old Martin Luther King, Jr. library will stay open until the new branch is finished.
On May 11, Arts South Australia’s design jury revealed the design proposals from the six shortlisted teams selected in the Adelaide Contemporary International Design Competition, a planned art gallery and sculpture park in Adelaide, Australia. The 160,000 square-foot Adelaide Contemporary will house a significant portion of the Art Gallery of South Australia’s 42,000 piece collection, which currently only has a fraction on display due to a lack of space. The museum will draw upon its substantial Aboriginal collection to create the Gallery of Time, which will combine indigenous pieces with European and Asian works. This shortlist's designs follow. Adjaye Associates & BVN’s design draws upon Aboriginal vernacular architecture through the use of a surrounding canopy, providing shade in one of the more arid corners of the country. With the canopy screening significant portions of the four elevations, the design will largely use skylights and balconies to filter natural light into the central atrium and stairwell. With a twisting, serpentine layout, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) & JPE’s proposal is inspired by Aboriginal sand painting, which often embeds abstract natural elements within a landscape. Through the use of rooftop landscaping, the team hopes to integrate their design with the adjacent Botanic Garden. David Chipperfield and SJB Architects’ is the only timber structure proposal. The principal elevations are composed of wooden screens, and the structure is topped by sloped roofs. In a statement, Diller Scofidio+Renfro & Woods Bagot describe their proposal as a “matrix of unique spaces unbound by disciplinary categories range in size, height, infrastructure, and light quality.” The bulk of exhibition space is located on the second story, which is cantilevered over an outdoor gallery and public square. Hassell & SO-IL incorporate a central plaza into their design proposal, which the team describes as an attempt to bring “nature, art, and people together.” The central plaza serves as a circulation node and public square connecting the gallery’s semi-independent spaces, which are further laced together by a draped, metal brise-soleil. Khai Liew, Ryue Nishizawa & Durbach Block Jaggers proposal consists of a sweeping, perforated canopy supported by a series of pilotis. Beneath the canopy, the site is split roughly evenly between park and curatorial space, the latter presenting sweeping views of the adjacent Botanic Garden. Arts South Australia’s design jury will meet again in May, with a winner expected to be announced in June.