Posts tagged with "Venice Architecture Biennale":

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Venice Architecture Biennale announces main exhibitors and expands on its theme

Curators Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale have announced more details about the 2018 show, themed Freespace. This year, 71 studios and 65 countries, seven of which are participating for the first time, including the Vatican, will show their work in two separate exhibitions, from May 26 through November 25, 2018. In the show’s manifesto by Farrell and McNamara, Freespace is described as, “[…] examples of generosity and thoughtfulness in architecture throughout the world that will be celebrated in the 16th International Architecture Exhibition. We believe these qualities sustain the fundamental capacity of architecture to nurture and support meaningful contact between people and place. We focus our attention on these qualities because we consider that intrinsic to them are optimism and continuity.” As such, Freespace entrants will be given leeway to present works that can range from open civic spaces to material studies, as long as they laud the natural world and “nature’s free gifts.” Freespace is accepting proposals, examples, and pieces of projects, both built and unbuilt, that evoke a hidden beauty through the use of materiality, form, complexity, or place. Paolo Baratta, President of La Biennale di Venezia, praised this year’s theme and the participants’ commitment to improving society through design. “The absence of architecture makes the world poorer and diminishes the level of public welfare, otherwise reached by economic and demographic developments. To rediscover architecture means to renew a strong desire for the quality of the spaces where we live, which are a form of public wealth that needs to be constantly protected, renovated and created?" Below are all 71 architects:
  1. 6a architects(London, UK) Tom Emerson; Stephanie Macdonald; John Ross; Owen Watson
  2. Alison Brooks Architects(London, UK) Alison Brooks
  3. Álvaro Siza 2 – Arquitecto, SA(Porto, Portugal) Álvaro Siza Vieira
  4. Amateur Architecture Studio(Hangzhou, China) Wang Shu; Lu Wenyu
  5. andramatin(Jakarta, Indonesia) Andra Matin
  6. Angela Deuber Architect(Chur, Switzerland) Angela Deuber
  7. architecten de vylder vinck taillieu(Ghent, Belgium) Jan de Vylder; Inge Vinck; Jo Taillieu
  8. Arrea architecture(Ljubljana, Slovenia) Maruša Zorec
  9. Assemble(London, UK) Jane Issler Hall; Mathew Leung; Alice Edgerley; Adam Willis; Fran Edgerley; Amica Dall; Giles Smith; James Binning; Paloma Strelitz; Lewis Jones; Joseph Halligan; Louis Schulz; Maria Lisogorskaya; Karim Khelil; Anthony Engi Meacock
  10. Atelier Peter Zumthor & Partner(Haldenstein, Switzerland) Peter Zumthor
  11. Aurelio Galfetti(Lugano and Bellinzona, Switzerland)
  12. Barclay & Crousse(Lima, Peru) Sandra Barclay; Jean-Pierre Crousse
  13. BC architects & studies(Brussels, Belgium) Ken De Cooman; Nicolas Coeckelberghs; Wes Degreef; Laurens Bekemans
  14. Benedetta Tagliabue - Miralles Tagliabue EMBT(Barcelona, Spain; Shangai, China) Benedetta Tagliabue; Elena Nedelcu; Joan Callís
  15. BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group(New York, USA; Copenhagen, Denmark; London, UK) Bjarke Ingels; Sheela Maini Søgaard; Finn Nørkjær; Thomas Christoffersen; Kai-Uwe Bergmann; Andreas Klok Pedersen; David Zahle; Jakob Lange; Beat Schenk; Daniel Sundlin; Brian Yang; Jakob Sand
  16. Burkhalter Sumi Architekten (Zürich, Switzerland)  Marianne Burkhalter; Christian Sumi with Marco Pogacnik (Venice, Italy)
  17. Carla Juaçaba(Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
  18. Caruso St John Architects(London, UK) Adam Caruso; Peter St John
  19. Case Design(Mumbai, India) Anne Geenen; Samuel Barclay
  20. Cino Zucchi Architetti(Milan, Italy) Cino Zucchi
  21. Crimson Architectural Historians(Rotterdam, The Netherlands) Ewout Dorman; Michelle Provoost; Cassandra Wilkins; Wouter Vanstiphout; Simone Rots; Annuska Pronkhorst
  22. David Chipperfield Architects(London, UK; Berlin, Germany; Milan, Italy; Shanghai, China) David Chipperfield; Alexander Schwarz; Martin Reichert; Christoph Felger; Eva Schad; Harald  Müller
  23. de Blacam and Meagher Architects(Dublin, Ireland; Ibiza, Spain) Shane de Blacam; John Meagher
  24. Diller Scofidio + Renfro(New York, USA) Elizabeth Diller; Charles Renfro; Ricardo Scofidio; Benjamin Gilmartin
  25. DnA_Design and Architecture(Beijing, China) Xu Tiantian
  26. Dorte Mandrup A/S(Copenhagen, Denmark) Dorte Mandrup; Frants Nielsen
  27. Elemental(Santiago, Chile) Alejandro Aravena; Gonzalo Arteaga; Juan Cerda; Diego Torres; Victor Oddo
  28. Elizabeth Hatz Architects(Stockholm, Sweden) Elizabeth Hatz
  29. Estudio Carme Pinós(Barcelona, Spain) Carme Pinós
  30. Flores & Prats(Barcelona, Spain) Eva Prats; Ricardo Flores
  31. Francesca Torzo Architetto(Genova, Italy) Francesca Torzo
  32. Gion A. Caminada(Vrin-Cons, Switzerland)
  33. GrupoSP(São Paulo, Brazil) Alvaro Puntoni; Joao Sodre
  34. Gumuchdjian Architects(London, UK) Philip Gumuchdjian
  35. Hall McKnight(Belfast and London, UK) Alastair Hall; Ian McKnight
  36. Inês Lobo, Arquitectos(Lisbon, Portugal) Inês Lobo; João Rosário
  37. Jensen og Skodvin Arkitekter AS(Oslo, Norway) Jan Olav Jensen; Børre Skodvin; Torunn Golberg; Torstein Koch
  38. John Wardle Architects(Melbourne, Australia) John Wardle, Stefan Mee, Meaghan Dwyer, Bill Krotiris, Jane Williams
  39. Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA(Tokyo, Japan) Kazuyo Sejima; Ryue Nishizawa
  40. Kieran Long; Johan Örn; James Taylor-Foster (Stockholm, Sweden) with  ArkDes (Stockholm, Sweden)
  41. Lacaton & Vassal Architects(Paris, France) Anne Lacaton; Jean Philippe Vassal
  42. Laura Peretti Architects(Rome, Italy) Laura Peretti
  43. Maria Giuseppina Grasso Cannizzo(Vittoria – Ragusa, Italy)
  44. Marie-José Van Hee architecten(Ghent, Belgium) Marie-José Van Hee
  45. Marina Tabassum Architects(Dhaka, Bangladesh) Marina Tabassum
  46. Matharoo Associates(Ahmedabad, India) Gurjit Singh Matharoo
  47. Michael Maltzan Architecture(Los Angeles, USA) Michael Maltzan
  48. Niall McLaughlin Architects(London, UK) Niall McLaughlin
  49. O'Donnell + Tuomey(Dublin, Ireland) John Tuomey; Sheila O'Donnell
  50. Paredes Pedrosa Arquitectos(Madrid, Spain) Angela Garcia de Paredes; Ignacio G. Pedrosa
  51. Paulo Mendes da Rocha(São Paulo, Brazil)
  52. Peter Rich Architects(Johannesburg, South Africa) Peter Rich
  53. Rafael Moneo, Arquitecto(Madrid, Spain) Rafael Moneo
  54. Rintala Eggertsson Architects(Oslo and Bodø, Norway) Dagur Eggertsson; Vibeke Jensen; Sami Rintala
  55. RMA Architects(Mumbai, India; Boston, USA) Rahul Mehrotra; Nondita Correa Mehrotra; Robert Stephens; Payal Patel
  56. Robert McCarter, Professor of Architecture(St. Louis, Missouri, USA) Robert McCarter
  57. Room11 Architects(Hobart, Tasmania, Australia) Thomas Bailey; Nathan Crump; Megan Baynes
  58. Rozana Montiel Estudio de Arquitectura(Mexico City, Mexico) Rozana Montiel
  59. Salter Collingridge Design(London and Ludlow, UK) Peter Salter; Fenella Collingridge
  60. Sauerbruch Hutton(Berlin, Germany) Matthias Sauerbruch; Louisa Hutton; Juan Lucas Young
  61. Skälsö Arkitekter(Visby and Stockholm, Sweden) Joel Phersson; Erik Gardell; Lisa Ekström; Mats Håkansson; Axel Wolgers
  62. Souto Moura - Arquitectos, S.A.(Porto, Portugal) Eduardo Souto de Moura
  63. Studio Anna Heringer(Laufen, Germany) Anna Heringer
  64. Studio Gang(Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, USA) Jeanne Gang
  65. Studio Odile DECQ(Paris, France) Odile Decq
  66. Talli Architecture and Design(Helsinki, Finland) Pia Ilonen; Minna Lukander; Martti Lukander
  67. Tezuka Architects(Tokyo, Japan) Takaharu Tezuka; Yui Tezuka
  68. Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects(Tokyo, Japan) Toyo Ito
  69. Vector Architects(Beijing, China) Gong Dong
  70. VTN Architects(Hochiminh City, Vietnam) Vo Trong Nghia
  71. Weiss/Manfredi(New York, USA) Marion Weiss; Micheal Manfredi
This year’s biennale will also see pavilions from the aforementioned 65 countries go up in the Giardini, the Arsenale, and the Venice city center. It also marks the first time that Antigua & Barbuda, Saudi Arabia, Guatemala, Lebanon, Mongolia, Pakistan, and the Holy See will be exhibiting pavilions. The national participants have chosen to tackle the theme in a variety of ways. While some countries have opted to highlight environmental justice, others will prompt discussions on a “lack of free space” or seek to explore the term. A full list of the 65 national entrants and their pavilion’s theme can be found here. The United States will front a hefty and diverse group of seven design teams for this year’s show to realize Dimensions of Citizenship.
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How the floating (and collapsing) Makoko school was doomed from the start

Kunlé Adeyemi, of the firm NLÉ, is perhaps one of the most widely acclaimed architects practicing today. Among his renowned projects was a floating school in Makoko, a slum on the fringes of Lagos. It was so well regarded that it was reprised and built in the canals of Venice for the 2016 Venice Biennale of Architecture, curated by architect Alejandro Aravena. Completed in 2013, the school was not long for this world. In the summer of 2016, it collapsed. For the Atavist Magazine, Allyn Gaestel traces the intertwining narratives of power, ego, and money that led to the lauded project quite literally falling apart. Despite the media painting the project as a roaring success (an image NLÉ was very happy to maintain), Gaestel's reporting reveals the school was rife with problems from the get-go. The school was originally begun as an extension to the Whanyinna school. Initially a collaboration between Adeyemi with Lagos native Isi Etomi, who had herself spent a year teaching at the Makoko school, their partnership fell apart as Adeyemi’s proposals grew more and more grand, and in Etomi’s eyes, more unrealistic and detached from the needs of students. The Stiller Foundation (the namesake of actor Ben Stiller), who had been funding the school, seemingly agreed with Etomi and pulled out of the project. Adeyemi, alone, secured funding from the United Nations Development Program and the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Construction began on a floating multistory A-frame structure. While there was funding for the extravagant building, none was put in place for basic supplies or teachers. Photos were staged for the press. Two and a half years after opening, classes began. The school, arguably neglected from the beginning, eventually fell into disrepair. Students were afraid to attend, as water entered the structure and wind rocked the school. Instead, they returned to the original Whanyinna, crammed together in the miniscule space. When confronted about the state of the floating school, NLÉ replied that it was the responsibility of the community to maintain the school, not them. Eventually the school fell into itself. A press release from NLÉ spun this as a “decommission...in anticipation of reconstruction.” If a “decommission,” it was a rather inelegant and unexpected one. No one involved with the school had heard anything of this supposed reconstruction. For many residents and onlookers, the school functioned as a vanity project. In a searing op-ed, architect James Inedu wrote “All the school did was to blow up the designer’s ego and to give him highly coveted international attention...It was simply bad architecture done iconically.” Etomi responded by setting up a GoFundMe to raise money to build a more durable solution for students. The school’s director Noah Shemede has disagreed with her approach and the renovation and extension remains in limbo. Read the full story online at the Atavist Magazine.
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The Vatican reveals its first-ever Venice Architecture Biennale pavilion

This year for the first time, the Vatican will participate in the Venice Architecture Biennale. The Catholic Church's country-within-a-city tapped Italian curator and architecture historian Francesco Dal Co to select ten architects from ten countries to design ten chapels for the pavilion. The chapels must be able to be reconstructed elsewhere, as the Vatican has plans to place them in localities that lack their own houses of worship after the exhibition closes. Paraguay media ABC and Última Hora first reported the news, and ArchDaily picked it up for the stateside audience. Here are the ten chosen architects:
  • Andrew Berman, USA
  • Carla Juaçaba, Brazil
  • Eduardo Souto de Moura, Portugal
  • Eva Prats & Ricardo Flores, Spain
  • Francesco Cellini, Italy
  • Javier Corvalán, Paraguay
  • Norman Foster, United Kingdom
  • Sean Godsell, Australia
  • Smiljan Radic, Chile
  • Teronobu Fujimori, Japan
Although this is the Vatican's first time at the Venice Architecture Biennale, it first entered the other, (much) older Venice Biennale in 2013. The international art showcase occurs in the architecture event's off years.
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How mass timber could transform our cities (really)

This is a preview of our special November timber issue. Mass timber is having its Maison Dom-Ino moment. At the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale, a curious structure sat on the grass near the international pavilion in the Giardini. It was an engineered timber version of Le Corbusier’s Maison Dom-Ino, the seminal, prototypical reinforced concrete project, which was celebrating its 100th birthday. As a manifesto of sorts for modernism, the original Maison Dom-
Ino sent shockwaves through the 
architecture world and the built environment at large. It was a replicable, scalable building system made from simple columns and floor slabs, which could be stacked vertically and horizontally like dominoes. The 2014 version was commissioned by Brett Steele, then dean at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. He described the “afterlife” of the 1914 Dom-Ino as “a set of guiding, abstract, and idealized principles” that have shaped the world as we know it today. The choice of timber in this case is an interesting one, as mass timber seems to be today’s material that looks promising for the future, much like steel and concrete did in the 20th century. As outlined in this issue, timber has a litany of benefits including carbon sequestration, lower embodied energy than steel and concrete, psychological benefits for inhabitants, less construction noise in tight urban sites, easier on-site construction in general, and many other positive aspects. It would reorient wood from light-frame suburban development toward mid-rise dense urban development. Taller and taller timber towers serve as the “Eiffel Tower” moments for the rapidly expanding timber industry, as pointed out by Jimmy Stamp in the Smithsonian Magazine article, "Is Timber the Future of Urban Construction?" And these important projects have brought attention to an otherwise niche building trade. Alongside these "Wow!" projects, there is another, less sexy side of the timber revolution that could help to change the way we build in America. New technologies abroad are already making mid-rise construction cheaper and more viable at larger scales. This incremental progress is taking place among manufacturers, architects, engineers, and designers as we speak in places like the nearly 600,000-square-foot Arbora complex in Montreal, Quebec. And companies, such as Nordic Engineered Wood, are expanding in the U.S. market, a place known for innovation that makes things cheaper and more market-ready. Once the market can produce mass timber structures more cheaply than steel and concrete, there could be a seismic shift. And as timber becomes more viable for safety concerns, and more legal through local codes adapting ("The State of the Art of Timber"), we could see timber proliferate at the same rate as the early-20th century saw the Maison Dom-Ino’s system spread across the world over the next 100 years. But of course we are speculating a bit in this issue. The future is not so clear. A fight is brewing in Congress ("What Wood You Do?") over the bipartisan Timber Innovation Act (and along with it, lobbying antics from the steel, concrete, and sand industries). If U.S. governmental agencies and private companies—namely manufacturers—come together, the costs could come down. It is possible that architectural knowledge-research and development could bend the markets so as to impact both economic and environmental resource allocation networks toward a lower-carbon future, as architect and timber expert Alan Organschi told AN in a conversation. The arms race is already on, and the National Forest Service has awarded $250,000 to Boston-based IKD to develop a hardwood-based cross-laminated timber (CLT), which is an important incremental step in the process. This issue speculates on a future where entire blocks might be built with green technologies including mass timber, and whole cities could be filled with beautiful wood buildings layered onto the stone, brick, steel, glass, and concrete urban fabric. How this revolution might play out is unclear, but we are seeing glimpses of what might be to come, such as Framework by LEVER Architecture in Portland, which will be the tallest timber building in the U.S., or the work of Michael Green Architecture in Vancouver, or Gray Organschi Architecture out of New Haven, Connecticut, which has been researching mass timber at the Yale School of Architecture. We also look to Europe and Canada for success stories that might be examples for the future of mass timber in the U.S. As Steele said of his 2014 Maison Dom-Ino, “This initial installation will remind visitors not only of modern architecture's most foundational project, but of an architectural instinct made even more apparent today than it was at the time of its original conception; namely that architecture always operates in the space created by a contrast between architecture as already known, and what it might yet become.” Can we imagine a partially wooden future? This article will be updated with links to other articles from the November timber issue.
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U.S. Pavilion announces design teams for 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale

Seven design teams have been selected to represent the United States in the U.S. Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale.  The pavilion's curators, Niall Atkinson, from the University of Chicago; Ann Lui of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Los Angeles–based critic and curator Mimi Zeiger, selected Dimensions of Citizenship as the theme of this year's exhibition, to engage architecture in the timely question of what it means to be a citizen. According to the curators, the selected teams represent a range of design practices, from the technical to the speculative, but "are united by researched-based methodologies and the drive to use that research to push boundaries—formal, disciplinary, and political.” Each team will examine a different dimension of design and citizenship. Their projects will be placed in dialogue with existing projects by architects and other practitioners, who will be announced later. The selected exhibitors are: Amanda Williams + Andres L. Hernandez (Chicago, IL) This duo brings an artistic and political bent to the Pavilion: both Williams and Hernandez have training in architecture and explore themes related to race, vacancy, and blight in urban landscapes. Williams is most widely known for her work Color(ed) Theoryshown in the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennale; Hernandez is co-founder of the Revival Arts Collective as well as the founder and director of the Urban Vacancy Research Initiative. DESIGN EARTH (Cambridge, MA) Headed by MIT's Rania Ghosn and El Hadi Jazairy, this design research practice works on the geographies of technological systems from speculation into the problems posed by waste management to the fate of oil-rich landscapes. They're currently at work on an exhibition titled Geostoriesa "manifesto [...] on the environmental imagination presented in architectural projects that engage the planetary scale with a commitment to the drawing as a medium." Diller Scofidio + Renfro (Cambridge, MA) This heavy-hitting firm will already be familiar to many. Best known for their work on the High Line in New York City, The Broad in Los Angeles, and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Chicago, DS+R brings a seasoned, interdisciplinary team to the task. Estudio Teddy Cruz + Fonna Forman (San Diego, CA) This research-based political and architectural practice is comprised of two professors from the University of California, San Diego (USCD): Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman. Over the years, the two have examined issues of informal urbanization, civic infrastructure, and public culture, mostly focused on Latin American cities. They also co-head USCD's Cross-Border initiative, whose mission is "to promote interdisciplinary poverty research and practice in the San Diego-Tijuana border region." Keller Easterling (New Haven, CT) Easterling is a professor at Yale University's School of Architecture and a prolific author of eight books and countless articles. Her most recent publication through Verso, Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Spaceslooks at global infrastructure with the angle that "emerging governmental and corporate forces [are] buried within the concrete and fiber-optics of our modern habitat." SCAPE (New York, NY) Founded and directed by Columbia GSAPP professor Kate Orff, SCAPE is a landscape architecture firm with an eye on large-scale ecological resilience. In its winning entry to the 2014 Rebuild by Design competition, Living BreakwatersSCAPE employed multiple lines of storm surge defense including artificial reefs promoting biodiversity in New York City's heavily polluted harbor. Orff has also published an examination of the chemical corridor between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in partnership with photographer Richard Misrach – Petrochemical America – and more recently, Toward an Urban Ecology. Studio Gang (Chicago, IL) Architect and MacArthur fellow Jeanne Gang is also well-known for her designs, from her undulating Aqua Tower to her Women's March-inspired exhibit Hive at the National Building Museum. Studio Gang's international work centers on a design principle of "actionable idealism" – the capacity for design to push public awareness of different issues (whether climate change, inequity, or urban decay) and encourage change – which will lend itself well to this year's theme.

• • •

Additionally, Iker Gil – a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), Director of MAS Studio, and founder of its design journal MAS Context – has been selected as associate curator of the exhibition to join the curatorial team of Atkinson, Lui and Zeiger.
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BREAKING: SAIC and UChicago may be organizing the U.S. Pavilion at Venice Biennale

We have been reporting on the official silence from the U.S. Department of State regarding the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. But now there seems to be a glimmer of information on who will organize and curate the pavilion. A job posting on the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) website is seeking a “Venice Biennale US Exhibition and Program [Coordinator].” The exhibition, according to this posting, is being co-curated with the University of Chicago:
Under the leadership of the SAIC and UChicago program directors and curatorial team, the Exhibition and Program Coordinator supports the development of the U.S. pavilion at the Biennale Architettura 2018 in Venice, Italy (hereafter, “Biennale”) through research, fundraising, planning, scheduling, commissioning, staffing, and more. This work involves coordinating and collaborating with architects, artists, scholars, public and private organizations in both the U.S. and Italy.
There is no word on the theme of the exhibition and the posting makes us wonder if this group was selected without a coordinated curatorial approach or idea, perhaps based on a fundraising budget and strategy? The job listing claims the Program Coordinator will be under the program director and curatorial team of the sponsoring institutions. The architecture program of the Art Institute of Chicago is directed by Jonathan Solomon who co-curated the 2010 U.S. Pavilion with Michael Rooks. (The High Museum in Atlanta was the organizer for the 2010 pavilion as well.) Solomon clearly knows his way around the Venetian Giardini. Stay tuned.
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The U.S. currently has no curator for its Venice Biennale pavilion—and the clock is ticking

UPDATE 8/9/2017: The SAIC and UChicago may be organizing the U.S. Pavilion at Venice Biennale. See our new coverage here. Will the United States be represented at the 2018 Venice Biennale of Architecture? Since 2010, the State Department—the federal agency that organizes and partially funds the pavilion—began to systematize the pavilion’s creation through an RFP process. The announcement of the pavilion's curators and organizers typically happens a full two years before the event. It’s important to have this lead time as the curators and organizers must help fund the pavilion and raise at least $500,000. The 2018 Biennale will open on May 26, 2018, and there hasn't been any word on who's been selected. On this past June 12, we asked, why hasn’t the U.S. Department of State announced the U.S. Pavilion for the Venice Architecture Biennale? Then we contacted the State Department Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs and received the following reply from a spokesperson on July 27:
The State Department supports freedom of expression and speech around the world as a means to share American values and ideas with the world. We are proud to continue our support of an American grantee to the Venice Architecture Biennale, one of the most influential international architecture exhibitions in the world. A decision will be made in the next few weeks on a grantee for this year’s exhibit. We also want to note that the State Department’s support to the Venice Biennale is only a portion of the total funds that go each year to the grantee. The Biennale is a public-private partnership, with the private sector and individual donors also funding the featured U.S. exhibit. As such, official announcement and promotion of the award is carried out by the grantee.
Evidently, the curators and organizers—and not the State Department—are the ones to make the announcement (and begin the fundraising). Still, a person close to the U.S. Pavilion has told us that the State Department has made a decision on who will curate the exhibition and, perhaps as a result of funding negotiations, no announcement has been made. Furthermore, our contact has no idea when it will be made public. When we pressed the State Department on whether it had made a selection, the spokesperson responded again on August 3. According to him, it seems gears are in motion but a decision has not yet been "formalized":
The grant review and award process for the 2018 Architecture Biennale involves the State Department coordinating with several Federal Government entities, and the process has been extremely complex this year. We cannot precisely say when the decision will be made public, but know it is in motion and it will be soon. When a decision has been formalized and a grant is awarded, we will make every attempt to share your interest in the 2018 Architecture Biennale with the grantee organization, who ultimately will make the announcement.
The clock is ticking.
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Why hasn’t the U.S. Department of State announced the U.S. Pavilion for the Venice Architecture Biennale?

When is the U.S. Department of State going to announce the commissioners of the 2018 American pavilion for the Venice Biennale of Architecture? It’s full year away from opening but, in fact, it's getting late in the process to create, fund, and install the exhibition. The American pavilion was for many years (the Biennale of Architecture began in the 1970s) a casual affair and officials would sometimes wait until last minute and simply call Philip Johnson and ask him for a theme—and to help fund the pavilion. In 2008, the State Department, the federal agency that organizes and partially funds the pavilion, began to systematize the pavilion's creation by implementing a traditional RFP process to select a theme and curators. The Department asked the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to organize a jury of peers to select the pavilion for Venice and, it was hoped, other national art and architecture exhibitions like Istanbul and Cairo. This has been the system since 2008 and has helped make the process more democratic and easier to organize. But what is up with the State Department announcement for 2018? We understand that the exhibition has been funded (by both the State Department and the NEA) and the NEA has passed on their recommendation of the top two applications. However, the deputy secretary at the State Department seems to be sitting on the announcement? One source claims that at least one of the finalists has been told they are in the running and the non-finalists informed (there were apparently a record number of recommendations this year) but at least one of the groups that submitted a proposal has not been contacted. Is this inaction a result of the Trumpian incompetence that we hear is spreading all over Washington or is there is simply no interest in having a pavilion at Venice in 2018?
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The 2018 Venice Biennale will focus on generosity and thoughtfulness within architecture

Irish architects Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, who are both principals at Dublin-based Grafton Architects and are curating the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, have disclosed their agenda for the Biennale. Titled Freespace, Farrell and McNamara explained at a press event that the 16th Biennale will exhibit "a generosity of spirit and a sense of humanity at the core of architecture's agenda, focusing on the quality of space itself." Officially, La Biennale Architettura 2018 will be known as The 16th International Architecture Exhibition Freespace and will begin on May 26th, running through November 25. At the press event held yesterday at Ca’ Giustinian in Venice, Farrell and McNamara elaborated on their plans, defining Freespace as the following:
  • Freespace describes a generosity of spirit and a sense of humanity at the core of architecture's agenda, focusing on the quality of space itself.
  • Freespace focuses on architecture’s ability to provide free and additional spatial gifts to those who use it and on its ability to address the unspoken wishes of strangers.
  • Freespace celebrates architecture’s capacity to find additional and unexpected generosity in each project - even within the most private, defensive, exclusive or commercially restricted conditions.
  • Freespace provides the opportunity to emphasise nature’s free gifts of light - sunlight and moonlight, air, gravity, materials—natural and man-made resources.
  • Freespace encourages reviewing ways of thinking, new ways of seeing the world, of inventing solutions where architecture provides for the well being and dignity of  each citizen of this fragile planet.
  • Freespace can be a space for opportunity, a democratic space, un-programmed and free for uses not yet conceived. There is an exchange between people and buildings that happens, even if not intended or designed, so buildings themselves find ways of sharing and engaging with people over time, long after the architect has left the scene.
  • Freespace encompasses freedom to imagine, the free space of time and memory, binding past, present and future together, building on inherited cultural layers, weaving the archaic with the contemporary.
Farrell and McNamara continued, adding that the Biennale will showcase works of architecture—built and/or unbuilt—that exhibit "modulation, richness, and materiality of surface; the orchestration and sequencing of movement, revealing the embodied power and beauty of architecture." The pair also stated that they wish for the Biennale engage visitors emotionally and intellectually and to invoke discussion on architecture's contribution to humanity. In this sense, Farrell and McNamara's agenda is a riff on Alejandro Aravena's previously curated Reporting From the Front, which took a more hedonistic approach in addressing the overlap between architecture and global social issues. The Irish duo concluded their statement by saying:
We are interested in going beyond the visual, emphasizing the role of architecture in the choreography of daily life. We see the earth as Client. This brings with it long-lasting responsibilities. Architecture is the play of light, sun, shade, moon, air, wind, gravity in ways that reveal the mysteries of the world. All of these resources are free. It is examples of generosity and thoughtfulness in architecture throughout the world that will be celebrated in the 16th International Architecture Exhibition. We believe these qualities sustain the fundamental capacity of architecture to nurture and support meaningful contact between people and place. We focus our attention on these qualities because we consider that intrinsic to them are optimism and continuity. Architecture that embodies these qualities and does so with generosity and a desire for exchange is what we call Freespace. “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in” - Greek Proverb.
About Grafton Architects: 
Farrell and McNamara founded Grafton Architects in 1977 and made their first Biennale appearance in 2002. In 2012, their firm won the Silver Lion for a promising practice. Their projects are mostly institutional—for universities, schools, and governments—and are spread across the globe. Most recently, their Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología (UTEC) building, seen above, won the inaugural 2016 RIBA International Prize.
Their statement in full, along with President of La Biennale di Venezia, Paolo Baratta's remarks, can be found here.
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2016 Venice Biennale U.S. Pavilion to go on display in Detroit

The Architectural Imagination, the exhibition from the U.S. Pavilion of the 2016 Venice Biennale, is returning to the United States. Opening on February 11th at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, the exhibition will bring the 12 proposed projects for Detroit back to their home city. Organized by the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, and curated by Cynthia Davidson and Monica Ponce de Leon, the exhibition was first shown at the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale. The show advocates for the power of architecture to construct culture and catalyze cities, with Detroit as the setting for a larger conversation about world cities. Projects in the show are presented through large models, drawings, and interactive virtual reality. The show includes work by; A(n) Office, Detroit, Michigan Marcelo López-Dinardi; V. Mitch McEwen BairBalliet, Columbus, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois Kelly Bair; Kristy Balliet Greg Lynn FORM, Los Angeles, California Greg Lynn Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, Atlanta, Georgia Mack Scogin; Merrill Elam Marshall Brown Projects, Chicago, Illinois Marshall Brown MOS Architects, New York, New York Hilary Sample; Michael Meredith Pita & Bloom, Los Angeles, California Florencia Pita; Jackilin Hah Bloom Present Future, Houston, Texas Albert Pope; Jesús Vassallo Preston Scott Cohen Inc., Boston, Massachusetts Preston Scott Cohen SAA/Stan Allen Architect, New York, New York Stan Allen T+E+A+M, Ann Arbor, Michigan Thom Moran; Ellie Abrons; Adam Fure; Meredith Miller Zago Architecture, Los Angeles, California Andrew Zago; Laura Bouwman The opening of the exhibition will include an introduction by Dean Robert Fishman of the Taubman College and a presentation by exhibition curators Cynthia Davidson and Monica Ponce de Leon. The exhibition will be on show from February 11th through April 16th, 2017, and will be free to the public at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, 4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit, Michigan.
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Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara named curators of 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale

Yesterday the Board of the Venice Biennale selected the Dublin-based architecture team Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara to curate the 16th International Architecture Exhibition, otherwise known as the 2018 Venice Biennale of Architecture. The duo founded Grafton Architects in 1977 and made their first Biennale appearance in 2002. In 2012, their firm won the Silver Lion for a promising practice. Their projects are mostly instututional—for universities, schools, and governments—and are spread across the globe. Most recently, their Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología (UTEC) building, seen above, won the inaugural 2016 RIBA International Prize. Paolo Baratta, chairman of the Venice Biennale board, released this statement on Farrell and McNamara and the upcoming Biennale:
The Exhibition curated by Alejandro Aravena offered visitors a critical overview of the worldwide evolution of architecture and underlined how important it is that a qualified demand on the part of individuals and communities be met by an equally effective response, thereby confirming that architecture is one of civil society’s instruments for organizing the space in which it lives and works. Along these lines, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara will continue to address the same theme but from the point of view of the quality of the public and private space, of urban space, of the territory and of the landscape as the main ends of architecture. The curators, who are well-known for the refinement of their work, are also known for their intense didactic activity and their ability to involve and fascinate new generations.
The biennale will begin May 26, 2018, and run through November 25, 2018.
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Detroit Resists decries lack of community representation on Venice Biennale U.S. Pavilion panels

Earlier in September, the community organization Detroit Resists submitted this essay, “Let’s get serious: “Community” and “Activism” in the Architectural Imagination,” regarding the recent controversy surrounding the U.S. Pavilion at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale. In a follow-up, they've written this "Annotation" regarding an upcoming series of panel discussions taking place at the Biennale. A full resolution version of the image above is available here. Entitled “The Architectural Imagination,” the U.S. Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale exhibits “speculative architectural projects” authored by twelve “visionary American architectural practices” for four sites in Detroit. According to curators Cynthia Davidson and Mónica Ponce de León, these projects comprise “new work that demonstrates the creativity and resourcefulness of architecture to address the social and environmental issues of the 21st century.” Post-bankruptcy Detroit is a city shaped by violent processes of displacement in the form of mass evictions, mass foreclosures, mass water shutoffs, and mass blight removal primarily targeting the city’s working-class African-American families and communities. Taking this city as a field upon which to demonstrate architecture’s relevance, the U.S. Pavilion gestures to architecture’s long colonial tradition of appropriating sites of race- and class-based inequality as laboratories of disciplinary research. On October 1, 2016, the curators of the U.S. Pavilion will host “conversations” under the title of “Architecture and Change.” “Change” might be a very appropriate topic for the curators to address. As perhaps the most generic, value-free and depoliticized term in the historiographical lexicon, “change” offers itself up as a precious discursive resource: a word that can refer to virtually any difference over time whatsoever. Whether the architectural projects displayed in the U.S. Pavilion are posed as harbingers of “change” or consequences of “change,” conversations on “change” run the risk of displacing political understandings of historical transformation as, for example, in the form of decolonization or democratization. Repeated references to “the social” and “the political” in the description of these conversations may function as a ruse: these categories may be brought up as frames for discussion in order to elide their absence in the curatorial process itself. The circling of disciplinary wagons around the notion of architecture that the U.S. Pavilion advances is perhaps most vividly revealed in the constitution of the panels in “Architecture and Change.” The panelists are all faculty members from one of four schools of architecture in the United States, each with a deep stake in the U.S. Pavilion project: the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning is the Pavilion’s institutional organizer and direct recipient of the funding for the Pavilion provided by the U.S. Department of State, while the Princeton University School of Architecture, the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and the Southern California Institute of Architecture are official sponsors of this specific event. These schools are also employers of nine of the visionary American architects displaying work in the U.S. Pavilion. The panels, therefore, consist of the representatives of four institutions, discussing the work of faculty employed at these institutions, and funded by the same institutions themselves. As the list of the U.S. Pavilion’s sponsors reveals, most of the capital supporting the Pavilion comes from corporations that would directly benefit from the displacement of Detroit’s working-class African-American communities: Shinola is a luxury fashion company, Westin is a luxury hotel chain, and Aperol is a luxury liquor; Dassault Systemes makes Catia and other 3D software that designers use to make luxury architecture; and the Deshler group, Global Transportation Management, and GS3 are different subsidiaries of a single corporate conglomerate supplying the parts and logistics that manufacturers use to make automobiles, luxury and otherwise. The list of the U.S. Pavilion’s sponsors is itself an important text; it illustrates how the Pavilion participates in the current alignment of architectural attention and economic investment that is transforming Detroit into a city of gentrifying consumers and it points to the beneficiaries of the architectural imagination that the Pavilion stages. Who is absent from these conversations? We might suggest that the very communities these processes pretend to aid are both invoked and erased. Architecture can never change in decolonizing and democratic ways without transformative engagement with movement-based activism—the only site of emancipatory agency in our historical conjuncture. This is a proposition that the U.S. Pavilion not only refuses to grapple with but also, with all the talk of “change” floated around it, might actively attempt to displace.