Posts tagged with "The Center for Architecture":

Donald Judd’s built and unrealized architectural works star in new exhibit

Opening Tuesday, November 14th at the Center for Architecture, Obdurate Space: Architecture of Donald Judd brings both the built and never-realized works of Donald Judd to the forefront. A master minimalist of the late 20th century known for his prolific sculpture and furniture design, Judd’s architectural work demonstrates his consistency when working across a multitude of scales. Curated and designed by Claude Armstrong and Donna Cohen, who served as architectural assistants to Judd in the 1980’s, the show will highlight what he called the “fundamental realities, space, material, and color, shared by art and architecture.” From 1984 until his death in 1994, Judd was actively involved with projects around the world, sometimes juggling up to 19 at a time while still producing a wide body of art. Obdurate Space will exhibit five Judd works that highlight his commitment to context and awareness of the interplay between architecture and sculptural form: the Concrete Buildings in Marfa, Texas; the urban proposal for downtown Cleveland, Ohio; the Eichholteren Haus in Küssnacht-am-Rigi, Switzerland; the Kunsthaus Bregenz Office and Archive Building in Bregenz, Austria; and Bahnhof Ost in Basel, Switzerland. Putting models built specifically for the show, photographs, drawings and renderings on display will allow visitors to experience Judd’s un-built projects with a new level of depth. Prominently working in both New York and Marfa, Texas, Judd’s former studios themselves have become extensions of the art housed within. 101 Spring Street in Manhattan, a cast-iron building purchased by Judd in 1968, was recently restored by the Judd Foundation to the original open floor plan studio as a revolving exhibition space. In Marfa, the Foundation’s properties are a sprawling collection of realized projects, art galleries and collaborative collections that blend art and the built environment. As this is the first show to focus solely on Judd’s architecture, curators hope that the exhibition will bring wider public recognition to his lesser-known body of work. “Our motivation for the exhibition, for the observations here, together with new models, drawings, and project descriptions, is to share Judd’s work in architecture with a wider public and to connect that moment to the present,” said Donna Cohen. Obdurate Space: Architecture of Donald Judd will be on view from Tuesday, November 14th with a reception from 6:00 – 8:00 pm, and close Monday, March 5th, 2018. More information can be found here.

Walter Hunt, driving force in Gensler and AIA NY, passes away

Our architectural community became a little smaller this week. Sadly one of our members, Walter Alexander Hunt, Jr. FAIA died on May 27th 2016. He had a long and prolific career and intersected with many of us in different ways and at different points in our lives. To Gensler he was the consummate team player who joined the firm in its early days in San Francisco and became instrumental in transforming it from a small interiors practice into one of the leading and largest architectural firms in the world. During the course of his 38-year career, he hopscotched around the country setting up offices first in Denver in 1978 and then in New York in 1985 with Margot Grant. By the time he retired in 2012, he was the Managing Director of the Northeast Region and Vice-Chair of the firm. By all accounts he was incredibly successful. He was exceptionally skilled at giving life to large complicated projects. In 2009, for instance, he led the team of 9 architectural firms that completed the 16 million square foot MGM Mirage City Center in Las Vegas, still the largest private development in the US and the largest LEED development in the world. His most recent project was probably the Msheireb Downtown Doha, a 76.6 acre development in an historic neighborhood that incorporated traditional design features with smart grid technology and is on track to be the largest LEED certified community when completed. Any architectural office needs a dedicated staff of talented and motivated people to do the work and make it cohesive. Walter played a strong role in forging the entrepreneurial culture that became Gensler’s hallmark. After a couple of years at Gensler he decided to pursue a passion for industrial design and quit his job. He stayed in touch, decided the small firm he was at wasn’t for him, and was invited back. He felt that the experience caused him to grow and develop as an architect and made him so much more committed and more valuable to Gensler. Business journals have written a lot about the ‘boomerang’ as a way of motivating employees; Gensler institutionalized and celebrated the practice. Others often cite Gensler as a model and quote Walter. To the AIA he was a former Chapter President, Center for Architecture Foundation President, and member of the NY State AIA Board. Without Walter, there would probably be no Center for Architecture. When the local chapter occupied a couple of donated desks in a borrowed office on the 6th floor the Interior Design Building in the late 90’s, Walter helped conceive of a storefront to promote design and architecture in New York and served as co-chair of the Capital Campaign. They raised $6 million ensuring that the Center would become a leading and permanent cultural institution in New York. Inspired by the vibrancy in New York, more than 20 architecture centers sprouted around the country. Walter was highly committed to the next generation and educating both the practitioners and the public about design. He mentored young (and middle-aged) architects and funded more than a few organizations he felt would make a difference such as the ONE@@Time Foundation which provides pro bono design services to non profits. He also established multiple scholarships for architecture students both through the AIA and Yale, his alma mater. Yale tapped him for the Alumni Committee and the Dean’s Council. He even served on the Advisory Board of cultureNOW and helped shape its programming, its internships, and its mission to make the built environment accessible. Everyone who had the opportunity to collaborate with him would talk about his commitment, generosity, support, leadership, mentoring, and enthusiasm. Not only did he give advice, but he participated in the programs. He received many awards including the AIANY Chapter’s President’s Award and the Harry B. Rutkins Award, as well as the AIA NY State’s James William Kideney Gold Medal. Gensler established its ‘One Firm Firm’ Award in his honor. This is quite a testament to an extraordinary career. Our hearts go out to his wife Judy, his companion through life, and his family who will miss him more than we will.

Architect: The Louis Kahn Opera

The Center for Architecture is known for programming variety, but last Thursday night's premier of Architect: a chamber opera was a first. Granted, the film premier benefiting the CFA Foundation wasn’t live opera, but it was the first time the public got to hear the piece by Lewis Spratlan.  The Pulitzer Prize winning composer's music was paired with electroacoustical music by John Downey and Jenny Kallick, whose process involved "sound sampling" spaces designed by Kahn, such as the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California.  Spratlan's music was then electronically "placed" within the various spaces. For all the electronic bells and whistles, the piece is fairly traditional, albeit inflected with modernist leanings. Classic operatic devices could be found throughout, particularly in the character of a trickster god called Momus, a minor deity thrown off Olympus. The trickster morphs into the Guide, the Engineer, and the Healer, all of who conspire to get the architect away from the Woman, in order to create buildings that flatter the gods. Given Kahn's unconventional personal life--various children from various lovers and a tragic demise at New York's Penn Station--playing off the personal drama would seem an obvious choice. Instead, the team obliquely focused on the architect's struggle to realize his vision, opting for a universal theme that transcended the medium and artist. The film intersperses relatively few images of Kahn’s buildings with watercolors by artist Michiko Theurer. and photographs of Rome’s crumbling ruins, partly inspired by Edgar Alan Poe's poem, "The Coliseum". Even images of Gaudi's "La Sagrada Familia" find their way into the cross fades. The creators traveled to Eternal City, to several Kahn buildings, and worked together at Yale where the architect’s Art Gallery and Center for British Art loomed over the process. For opera designer John Conklin the work evoked Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande. Kallick's libretto eschewed archi-speak in favor of conversations between Kahn and his collaborators, such as this statement to the Engineer: "Dear August [Komendant] why does everyon pull me down?" "You are a dreamer not a fighter," replies the engineer. This kicks off an ode to concrete duet, that's clearly the opera's show-stopper: "Mix and cure it with the right vibration," goes the oft repeated refrain.  And finally, the words every engineer wants to hear from an architect: "Your genius has made my buildings your buildings." Part of what makes Architect intriguing is the colaborators cross polinization into other fields. Spratlan wanted to be an architect before becoming a composer, Theurer is trained as a violinist, and Downey is studying radiology at Stanford. Later during the panel discussion, Kahn’s daughter Sue-Ann Kahn, said that the piece was an allegory for any artist’s struggle. “Either the gods are helping them or crushing them,” she said. Having Conklin on hand turned the post-screening panel into a virtual workshop. Conklin, having seen the video before, simply listened to the piece apart from the imagery. He said that while the ethereal images worked well on video, live opera was another matter. He thought much of the abstraction could be retained, but he envisioned scenes between the Architect and the Woman played in a banal kitchen. He also suggested bringing the small orchestra, there are only seven players, onto to stage to become part of the action. The video will be released with the CD in Spring 2012 and the creators hope to perform the production live at a Kahn-designed site. The idea intrigued AN's editors, who suggested Dacca, the more cost and acoustically effective auditorium at the Yale Center for British Art, or at the new Four Freedoms Park performed by the homeless City Opera. As Sue-Ann Kahn pointed out during the panel discussion, the delayed memorial exemplifies the artist's struggle to see their work realized.