Posts tagged with "Venice":

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Venice 2010> Going Gaga at the Giardini

The Venice biennale does not open officially to the press until Thursday, August 26, and just about all of the national pavilions in the giardini are madly rushing to finish before that date. All the pavilions that is, except sadly the crumbling Venezuelan pavilion, which will not have an exhibition in it this year. The small, rough concrete structure was designed by Carlo Scarpa in 1954, and is being kept alive, I have been told, by a single guardian angel who maintains it free of charge. Where are the petro dollars? Or is the Chavez government thinking this exhibition is irrelevant to its more pressing economic problems? Making it even sadder, right next door the Russian pavilion has been lovingly restored on the exterior, with a new skylight and pre-Soviet iron pinnacle. So far, a first impression of this year’s biennale, under curator Kazuyo Sejima’s theme “People Meet in Architecture,” is that there is remarkably little architecture here. The majority of national buildings feature installations that are more like art than architecture. For example, the exhibition at the Polish pavilion, Emergency Exit, curated by Londoner Elias Redstone, is composed of reclaimed birdcages stacked to the roof. It asks viewers to surmount the structure, hold their breath, and then dive into a void. I trust Elias, so will give it a jump tomorrow and report back—assuming I make it out alive. The project at the adjacent Egyptian pavilion looks as if it were meant to be made on a CNC milling machine, but is being entirely cut and framed by hand—with very sharp edges all along. In the garden, Raum Berlin have a crew of workers making funky wooden chair/stairs, and I may try to bring one home! The Italian pavilion, by the way, has a great-looking Op Art cafe created for the last art biennale, inserted in a corner with a nice outdoor seating area on a canal. The Canadian pavilion, which did not open on time in 2008, is filled with an amazing installation by Philip Beesley called Hylozoic Ground, with a publication edited by ex-Storefront staffer Pernilla Ohrstedt and Hayley Isaacs. Check out a few more first glimpses from the giardini below, and stay tuned!
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The M Cube: LA’s Rebuttal

LA’s City Planning and Building and Safety departments, which we could not reach last week, have finally spoken up on the now-imperiled M Cube in Venice. To remind you LA City Council on Thursday rejected designer Mark Baez’s request to allow his floating modular, glass-clad, cube shaped apartment building an exception to remain two feet above the Venice Specific Plan’s requirement of 30 feet. Baez asserted that building inspectors informed him too late that the building was too tall, that his contractor bungled the height, and that the city was nitpicking over a height limit that other buildings are able to surpass. Baez may now resort to tearing down the building instead of going through with the costly changes. City planner Kevin Jones and building and safety investigator John Kelly beg to differ. Jones says that Baez knew that his building had to be 30 feet tall; the project, he said, was granted that height in 2002 as part of a discretionary action allowing him to raise the height from 25 to 30 feet, and the 30 foot height was specified in his plans submitted to the city. “If you tell us that your building is going to be 30 feet in height then it has to be 30 feet in height,” said Jones. “When you are an architect and you prepare plans it means you are legally responsible for following all the laws that are in place,” he added. His planning report concludes that, “A Specific Plan Exception is not appropriate relief post hoc from a hardship created through negligence or misrepresentation.” Jones added that while some buildings in Venice can have mechanical systems measuring up to 35 feet, the buildings themselves must still measure under 30 feet. As for the contractor error, Kelly said it wasn’t his department’s fault that Baez built the project higher than planned. ”That’s between him and his builders isn’t it?” he said.  Baez must now come to terms with the city’s criminal proceedings against him. Baez has been living in the building and renting out units for years despite lacking a certificate of occupancy (that was held up due to the height limit battle). Baez answered:  “Their side of the story suggests that I didn’t have any approvals and I just built it on my own. I got every approval, every sign off to where I was,” said Baez. He acknowledges “Yes, the drawings indicate that the building was to be 30 feet; the result was an oversight by myself, my contractor, and everyone else.” That includes the city, who he still contends sent him mixed signals all along.

You Can Save The M Cube

One of Venice's great new houses—the  M Cube by designer Mark Baez— is in danger of being at least partially demolished because of a local height restriction that says it's about two feet above code (32 feet instead of 30). The prefab, modular building glows from within thanks to exterior windows and sliding doors  made of translucent fiberglass. These and other elements make the cube look like a Japanese Tatami home floating above the city.  The structure also uses radiant heating powered by solar panels on the roof. A hearing on the home is scheduled for June 2 (at LA City Council chambers at 10 a.m.) , and the architect is urging supporters to email their local councilman Bill Rosendahl at So what's two feet between friends, right?
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La Serenissima Strikes Again

Is Italy returning to medieval-era warfare between city-states Milan and Venice? AN’s own Julie V. Iovine reports from Milan that Milanese and Lombardy officials are more than a bit miffed that Venice is proposing to start its own design fair in 2011, seeking to steal the spotlight from the nation’s long-established epicenter of design. Milan has been displaying its prodigious output for nearly half a century at the annual Salone Internazionale del Mobile, and sporadically at the Triannale’s Palazzo del’Arte. But Carlo Guglielmi, the president of Cosmit, which runs the Milan fair, said that Venice’s sophisticated biennale exhibition and marketing organization would like “to pick off a little bit of the Salone for its avant-garde furniture, and from the Triennale for culture.” The annual Milan event attracts more than 300,000 visitors and brings in, according to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, at least 7 million euros a year for the local Lombardy economy. Siphoning some of that wealth into Venetian coffers would be a blow to both the Milanese pocketbook and to its powerful design community. Venetian officials are said to be giving a serious look to the proposal, which would add another high-style biennale to its roster of well-known art and architecture events. Whether the dueling design capitals can reach a peace accord over the matter remains to be seen.
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Moss Out In Venice

According to our friends at Curbed LA, Eric Owen Moss's planned Venice project , on the corners of Venice and Lincoln Boulevards, has been put on the shelf. Fred Mir, who works for the developer, Group III Investments, told Curbed that the neighborhood "didn't like the height," and that they had decided to scrap the project back in August, after a bumpy community meeting. No sign of what will replace Moss's scheme, but we'll be looking into it...
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Ritchie Engineering

On Friday, Matthew Ritchie opened his new solo show, Line Shot, at the Andrea Rosen Gallery in Chelsea. While the work is impressive as always, most notable is the installation of the newest piece of "The Morning Line," a work unveiled at the Biennale last year (we saw it first hand!) that has begun to trek around the world in different forms, popping up earlier this summer in London, which is where the above video was shot. Inspired by the Big Bang, The Morning Line is notable not only for Ritchie's typically uncanny sense of and attention to detail but also its intricacy and precision, aided in part through a partnership with ARUP's Advanced Geometry Unit, led by Daniel Bosia, and the architects Aranda/Lasch, whose Ben Aranda walks us through the project in the video below. The piece is on view through December 2, as well as after the jump.

The Past Imperfect

For the 53rd Venice Art Biennial, Jorge Otero-Pailos, a professor of preservation at Columbia, made a cast of the pollution on a wall of the Doge’s Palace on the Palazzo San Marco. Trained as a conservationist, he painted liquid latex directly onto the wall and then carefully removed the cast in one sheet. The result, The Ethics of Dust, Doge’s Palace, Venice, 2009, seen in this video, is a luminous scrim that preserves the residue accrued overtime. Such pollution is typically seen negatively, but Otero-Pailos sees it as a record of human activity and questions the impulse to erase these traces of the past.
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Down The Drain In That Other Venice

Artist Mike Boucher was excited to bring American suburbia to the Venice Biennale, constructing a floating McMansion—complete with cheesy yellow vinyl siding—set to grace the city's famed canals. Unfortunately the house tilted off a failed pontoon and sank; a disaster for the artist (who actually seems to find the whole thing hilarious), but a good symbol for our housing market back in the USA.
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Heading West

We're hitching the wagons this weekend to head to the 30th annual Venice Art Walk & Auctions, which include artist studio tours, gallery visits, a silent art auction, live music, and the yummy "food faire". Of course our first stop will be the Art and Architecture tours of some of Venice's coolest houses. We can't wait to see Dennis Gibbens' Multi-Use Townhouse (above). Here are a few more we're excited about: Hover House 2, Glen Irani Architects Marco Place, Barbara Bestor Glass Condominiums, Sander Architects Palms Residence, Daly Genik
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The good life.The good life. (Courtesy Riva) 
Last fall, the editors of The Architect’s Newspaper spent a week in Venice reporting on the architecture biennale. One of our fondest Venetian memories—the few times we could afford them—was moving around La Serenissima in water taxis.  As we’ve noted before, the Venetian water taxi is the world’s most elegant form of public transportation: hand-made wooden motor boats with tuck-and-rolled leather seating, customized canvas hoods, and spit-shined wooden hulls and decks. Well, the editors are headed back to Italy, this time for Milan’s Saloni di Mobile.

Known as the saloni, the famed furniture fair is a weeklong whirlwind of parties, prosecco, and over-the-top-expensive furniture. While the taxis in Milan sadly resemble their New York  cousins (no romantic excursions to and from the Fiera Rho), the Riva Boat Works—the maker of most of the Venetian water taxis—is coincidentally featured in a current exhibition at the Milan triennale’s Serie Fuori Serie that highlights Italian designs from “experimental research to mass market.” Curated by Silvana Annicchiarico and Andrea Branzi, with installation design by Antonio Citterio, the show should be a knockout. And we intend to be there to reminisce about our luxurious Venetian rides of last fall.

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Artists to Redesign Biennale Facilities

The Venice biennale was founded in 1895 in one of La Serenissima’s few green spaces, the Giardini di Castello. It has occupied a random series of buildings in the park, which include national pavilions (the Belgians built the first in 1907 and the U.S. joined the party in 1930) and an undistinguished hall called the Italian pavilion since the late 1930s. Today the organization that operates the biennales (art, architecture, film etc.) announced plans to change the name of the Italian pavilion in the giardini to the Palazzo delle Esposizioni della Biennale and upgrade its aging infrastructure. While these changes will be welcome by the public, the spaces are all being designed by artists, not architects. The Italian pavilion will be enlarged with a new café designed by Tobias Rehberger, educational space by Massimo Bartolini, and a bookstore by Rirkrit Tiravanija. This pavilion will now be open to the public all year as the biennale’s archives will be moved into the building and entered through the elegant sculpture garden designed in 1952 by Venetian native Carlo Scarpa. The grand and spectacular biennale exhibition space the Arsenale, a short walk from the giardini will also receive a new bridge and entrance at the Giardini delle Vergini and its exhibition space enlarged from 800 to 1,800 square meters. The biennale organization stresses that the renderings of its new facilities are still tentative and may change and one may only wonder if they chose artists, rather than architects, to design their new facilities because of the confusion sowed by architects in the biennale who have long shown a preference to exhibit art not buildings.
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Gehry and the Ancient Arts

The three-story timber buttress of familiar forms rising midway through the Arsenale was already pretty impressive on the first day but then a guy showed up and set up shop in the corner to hammer out clay tiles, the 1,000 year old Venetian way, that will ultimately—in two weeks—clad the entire structure.  The process of covering the wood armature in clay is also the first step usually used in making a bronze cast a la the Statue of Liberty. And so naturally we are wondering who’s in the market for a really big Gehry paperweight.