It has long seemed that Philadelphia’s cultural community was destined to exist forever in New York’s shadow. Though it has had through its history great flourishes of home-grown creativity from Thomas Eakins and Frank Furness, great institutions like The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and collections like the Barnes Foundation and the Annenberg. These were still not enough to overcome its “second city” status to its neighbor up the Jersey Turnpike.
But now Philadelphia seems to embracing its outsider status as an anti-New York where artists and can actually afford to live and start up collective galleries and exhibit spaces.
The West Coast architect Glen Small has now been largely forgotten, but from the 1960s through the 1980s he was at the center of architectural experimentation and ecological consciousness in California. His journey from an early founder of SCI-Arc and a pioneer of Califorinia environmentalism was documented in a biopic My Father, The Genius made by his talented film maker daughter Lucia Small.
Chipakata is small rural Zambian community with no local school so its children have to walk five miles to an overcrowded facility. But Joseph Mizzi, president of Sciame Construction, visited the village last year with New York City–based stylist and native-Zambian, Nchimunya Wulf. They both were inspired to start a non-profit to build a new school for the community. The duo launched the 14+ Foundation last June and after a fundraiser that garnered $350,000 for the organization to pit together a group of New York–based design professionals who are building a brand new facility in the heart of Chipakata.
A new “class A” office building adjacent to the High Line, 510 West 22nd Street, is now in the planning stage and the developers have released a video of its designer, Rick Cook of COOKFOX Architects, describing the building. But is anyone worried that the High Line may become a dark walkway through forest of buildings? Not Cook, who bases his design on the public qualities of the old elevated rail line that transformed 10th Avenue from the “end of the world to the center of the universe.” But has there been a bigger boon to real estate development in New York since Central Park?
We don’t normally look to the New York Post for stories on architecture and planning. But while getting our shoes shined for tonights black tie Heritage Ball we had a chance to read the paper’s Late City Final. There in the middle of stories on JonBenet Ramsey, a lawyer “ripping a Jet Slugger,” and Lady Gaga’s thigh tattoo was a smattering of the latest in design spectacle.
Next to a story on Mitt Romney’s new 5,900 square foot “secret hideout” in Holiday, Utah (which will apparently feature a bookcase that swivels open and leads into hidden room), there is a long story on Midtown Manhattan street plazas that both Bill de Blasio and Joe Lhota are apparently thinking of “yanking…out,” according to the paper.
In AN‘s recent article on the winners of this year’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards, we mentioned that Michael Sorkin accepted his award for “Design Mind” with a powerful tribute—as only he can—to his late friends and intellectual mentors, Lebbeus Woods and Marshall Berman. Sorkin, like the other awardees, was only allowed a 2 minute acceptance speech, which he has shared with AN. Read the statement in full below.
When an artist begins,
they try to bury him with neglect.
When he gains a small foothold,
they try to bury him with criticism.
When he becomes more established,
they try to bury him with covetous disdain.
When he becomes exceptionally successful,
they try to bury him with dismissals as irrelevant.
And finally, all else failing
they try to bury him with honors!
This is how James Wines of SITE, quoting Jean Cocteau, accepted his 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum at their National Design Awards. Wines joined a ‘Lifetime Achievement’ group that includes Richard Saul Wurman, Bill Moggridge, Paolo Solari, the Vignelli’s, Dan Kiley, and Frank Gehry.
Last night’s awards program was a special one as the Museum—led by its new director, Caroline Baumann, and an indefatigable team—worked throughout the government shutdown of the least two weeks to put on a spatular gala that gave awards to designers that included Janette Sadik-Khan, Michael Sorkin, Studio Gang Architects, Paula Scher, Aidlin Darling Design, and Margie Ruddick.
The architecture school at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco was only founded in 1986 and did not have its own campus until 1997. But the school—housed in a light filled old bus shed in the city’s Potrero Hill Design District—is quickly carving out a unique role for itself as a center of architectural creativity and pedagogy. The College, with its dynamic president and acting director of architecture David Gissen, seems to be trying to work forward from its Arts and Crafts traditions (the CCA itself was founded in 1907 in Oakland) but link up with the vibrant and young tech industries and attitude that proliferate in this south of Market area. A sign of this new spirit is a small but fascinating exhibit, An Olfactory Archive: 1738-1969, curated by Gissen and new faculty member Irene Cheng and designed by Brian Price and Matt Hutchinson.
Last weekend’s Monterey Design Conference had many special moments–beyond those spent walking the spectacular grounds of the Asilomar center on the Pacific ocean. The conference, which is essentially the bi-annual meeting of the California AIA, is trying to re-brand itself the “MDC” in hopes of encouraging the general public to attend. But the conference has been M.C.ed for the past dozen years by Robert Ivy, Chief Executive Officer of the AIA and once again he did a brilliant job (with help from Larry Scarpa) of keeping the event moving along between wine tastings, a small trade show and attendees’ desire to escape the darkened conference hall for a walk on the beach. Read More
The California AIA’s biennial Monterey Design Conference is on the next two days—September 27th and 28th—at Asilomar, the glorious Julia Morgan– and John Carl Warnecke–designed center on the Pacific Ocean in Pacific Grove. The conference will feature lectures by Thom Mayne, Marlon Blackwell, Thomas Phifer, Kengo Kuma, and AN board member Odile Decq.
But first up this morning was Greg Otto from Buro Happold who presented various Happold projects that were created using a multi-disciplinary approach and discussed design and legal issues around responsibility and how these “stress traditional design assumptions.” Otto also discussed his ongoing New York projects with Jeff Koons who wants to make large steel structures look “like marshmallows.”
Foster + Partners likes to think of itself as a high-design firm with glamorous projects all over the world. But the banal rendering accompanying this week’s announcement of a new 19-story, “luxury” residential tower, 551 West 21 Street, belies their design skills. Could it be that they have a two-tier design strategy in their office where glamorous cultural institutions get “Sir Norman” and commercial towers get, well, something less?
The 2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennale‘s emphasis on active workshops, networking and “research” projects rather than architectural set pieces often plays as live performative tableaus. The public focus of the exhibition is indeed an elevated stage in the city’s Praca da Figueira (Square of the Fig Tree) where architects are performing plays, encouraging civic engagement with public performances, and programming research workshops. Performance is also the operative scheme in another triennial initiative, The Institute Effect, that takes place the city’s Museum of Design.