What would an Architecture Biennale be without French people without clothes? We don’t know because it has never happened before. French architect Philippe Rahm wanted to turn air into structure and the original plan was to create a strong convection flow deploying a cold plane. A really cool idea, all agreed, but it wasn’t working on Day One leaving a bunch of comely dudes, some in minimalist Egyptian togs to inhabit the cool space, the others demonstrating the warm space in the buff. To our surprise, the ones exposing themselves were not architects but a performance troupe.
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.
It’s the night before the opening and all doors are locked, while interns and curators go bezerk trying to finish thier installations in time before press day at the 11th Architecture Biennale. I managed to sneak into the main space of the Arsenale, past David Rockwell’s whizzy interactive scrim (more later, once I figure it out) and into the vast emptiness now fairly crowded with a swooping green formation that–even without the help of a single label–is clearly a work of Zaha-ness
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 Read More