Posts tagged with "Venice":

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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. 
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Eve of Biennale

It only took a few hours—and espressos—to catch the jitters going around Venice the day before press opening. Since I was in tow with the Commissioner of the US Pavilion, our own Bill Menking, and crew it was a privileged view, but no less insane as architect elves, ie support staff, scurried around town trying to find that last minute acetate binder, glue gun, 6-color color printer etc etc. The big guns don’t arrive til later today or even tomorrow if they were not invited to Zaha Hadid’s super-dinner at Palladio’s Malcontenta, a powerbroking hour away, at least. (We heard that Thomas Krens was planning to rechannel some back canal in order to take a shortcut there).

Aaron Betsky, the curator of the whole to-do, was troubleshooting from his post on a low wall outside the Italian Pavilion in the Giardini across a gravel path from the Dutch Pavilion, his old haunts. Ole Bauman, the current director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute, was nearby wondering if Rem Koolhaas might show up to see the Dutch Pavilion’s “Archiphoenix,” a research project as only the Dutch can do research projects on the educational implications for architecture on the fire that recently wiped out the Faculty of Architetcure in Delft University. (Hint: He’s won’t. Rem is headed for New York to unveil the design on Thursday for 23 E 22, his luxury high-concept carbuncle condo attached to One Madison Park). Bauman was hosting a kind of hallow’s eve party for all the worker bees from all the national pavilions (there are 32 of them) fueled by kegs of peach juice and prosecco, hummus, and pasta made by an imported organic Dutch chef. Benjamin Ball of Ball Norgues of Los Angeles was on hand happy and hyper about his string installation at the Italian Pavilion whose theme features 50 experimenters and 4 master iconoclasts. Betsksy was explaining what exactly that meant when a staffer whispered in his ear that some Gehry drawings weren’t fitting their frames and he dashed off….