Frank Gehry’s Ice Blocks Chilling Out Inside Chicago’s Inland Steel Building

Midwest, Newsletter
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Frank Gehry's new sculpture in the Inland Steel Building lobby. (Lynn Becker)

Frank Gehry’s new sculpture in the Inland Steel Building lobby. (Lynn Becker)

Follow the Architecture Chicago Plus blog as Lynn Becker raises an eyebrow at the new sculpture that quietly popped up in the lobby of downtown Chicago’s celebrated Inland Steel Building.

The 1957 SOM icon seems to have acquired a consortium of ice hunks, courtesy Frank Gehry. Ostensibly a formal counterpoint to the elegant energy of Richard Lippold’s Radiant I, the original lobby art, Gehry’s glass agglomeration (fabricated by the John Lewis Glass Studio of Oakland, California) frames Radiant I and responds to its angularity with carved blobs. It’s admittedly atypical in the setting of the modernist masterpiece, but doesn’t overpower the space or the original artwork.

The Doors Project: Projecting Gateways onto Obstacles

Friday, September 28, 2012
The Doors Project. (Courtesy The Doors Project)

The Doors Project. (Courtesy The Doors Project)

In an ongoing endeavor to blend public art, architecture, and urbanism by artists Siyuan and Hwee Chong, The Doors Project subversively projects a series of doors onto public spaces in Singapore, reflecting the struggles of the urban poor and underprivileged. But while commenting on despair, the real message is one of faith, hope and empowerment. “We wanted to make a statement about life, and jolt people to think,” the artists said in an interview at Yolo. “Instead of following the light at the end of the tunnel, why not carry our own lights, and create our own doors! It’s really about rolling up our sleeves, and creating the opportunities we want for ourselves.”

Continue reading after the jump.

Storm Brews Over New Jersey Plan to Destroy Tacha Sculpture

Monday, August 6, 2012
Athena Tacha's Green Acres sculpture in New Jersey. (Courtesy Athena Tacha)

Athena Tacha’s Green Acres sculpture in New Jersey. (Courtesy Athena Tacha)

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) debacle in New Jersey over a unilateral decision to destroy a sculpture by landscape artist Athena Tacha has begun to slip into the public consciousness. The irony that the plaza piece, titled Green Acres, is to be destroyed by a department with environment in its name has not been lost on many.

Apparently, the DEP has a $1 million EPA grant burning a hole in its pocket and plans to replace the sculpture with eco-friendly pavers. The waste has not gone undetected. Philadelphia Inquirer critic Inga Saffron writes in today’s column: “There is nothing wrong with the DEP’s making its property more sustainable. But why start with the little plaza when its offices are surrounded by sprawling parking lots paved with the usual impervious asphalt?” Now it remains to be seen whether the agency will be impervious to its critics.

A Spinning Piper Seneca Lands in Central Park

Monday, June 25, 2012

(Courtesy Public Art Fund)

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s actually a plane. On the corner of 60th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan, a six-seat, twin-engine Piper Seneca aircraft balances on two vertical steel posts positioned at the end of its wings, playfully rotating on its own axis and likely confusing visitors to Central Park. After doing a double take on the surreal scene, find a plaque located nearby and you’ll learn that this mysterious aircraft is actually an installation by artist Paola Pivi, whose portfolio includes scenes of zebras on snowy mountaintops and arenas of screaming people. Working with the Public Art Fund, an organization dedicated to present artists’ work throughout New York City, Paola Pivi opened her newest installation featuring the Piper Seneca, How I Roll last Wednesday, June 20th.

Watch a video after the jump.

On View> Repeat Offender Combines Architecture, Cardboard & Spray Paint

Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Großes Kino (HPM, Charlottenstr Version #3) (Courtesy Jonathan LeVine Gallery)

Großes Kino (HPM, Charlottenstr Version #3) (Courtesy Jonathan LeVine Gallery)

EVOL: Repeat Offender
Jonathan LeVine Gallery
529 West 20th Street, 9th floor
New York
Through May 5

While his artwork might be hanging on the walls of a gallery in Chelsea, Berlin-based street artist Evol adds a distinct element of urban grit to his used-cardboard and spray-paint stencil works now on display as part of his Repeat Offender exhibition. The incredibly detailed views capture the abandonment of low-income German neighborhoods, using the texture of the cardboard base to enhance the paintings’ architectural qualities. “Clean surfaces don’t speak to me, so recording these marks is a process of visually remembering the charm of a place that will soon be painted over,” Evol said in a statement. Besides his cardboard paintings, Evol is also showing paintings on metal and photographs on his 2009 installation from a slaughterhouse in Dresden, Germany.

View a gallery after the jump.

IESNYC Student Lighting Competition

Dean's List, East
Monday, March 5, 2012


2012 IES Student Competition. (Naomi Castillo)

2012 IES Student Competition. (Naomi Castillo)

The 12th annual IESNYC Student Lighting Competition, “Fraction/Refraction”, was held Wednesday night at the appropriately well-lit Helen Mills Event Space in Chelsea.  The competition was open to all interested students in New York City and included entries from designers at Pratt Institute, Parsons/New School, Fashion Institute of Technology, Fordham, and New York School of Interior Design.  Over 100 entries created a luminous one-night exhibition of over 100 light-sourced objects, each with a different take on this year’s theme of  “how light plays with textures, flows through materials and creates layers of contrast.”
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Chutes and Ladders at the New Museum

Friday, October 28, 2011
Carsten Höller's Slide at the New Museum. (Branden Klayko)

Carsten Höller's Slide at the New Museum. (Branden Klayko)

The New Museum has been transformed into a real-life game of chutes and ladders, or perhaps a Fun Palace a la Cedric Price, for its new exhibition Carsten Höller: Experience that opened this week and is running through January 15, 2012. The centerpiece of the show is a spiraling stainless steel slide traversing the fourth through second floors and providing what certainly must be the most rapid vertical circulation in the entire city short of a plummeting elevator . We stopped by to check out the slide and, after signing our lives away on a waiver, took a couple rides ourselves.

Check out a photo gallery after the jump.

Quick Clicks> Trip 0˚00, Thinking Gates, Growing Art, and Mapping Pollution

Daily Clicks
Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Walking the line. Watch artist Simon Faithfull travel both built and unbuilt environments along “the exact longitude of the Greenwich Meridian,” using a GPS device in his documentary project “0˚00 Navigation.”  Above is an excerpt through London, but you can also watch the whole thing here. (h/t Polis.)

At the city gates. In this short article at the Sustainable Cities Collective, Chuck Wolfe muses over what a “city gate” would be in a modern city, contending that Google streetview is one form of a modern gate incarnation. Is a physical gate just an ornament of memories, or do we need the architectural drama only a physical threshold can provide?

Art heals blight. As Elizabeth Currid-Halkett notes in the NY Times, art as a revitalization tool works, but not always. It takes more than just cheap rent and abandoned factory lofts to cultivate the next Soho. Take the case of Red Hook’s art scene from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle: art, given its mercurial nature, may be best left alone, like the somewhat-isolated Brooklyn neighborhood.

A map for Captain Planet. SkyTruth, a nonprofit environmental monitoring group, recently launched a real-time, interactive alert system that digitally maps domestic pollution events, such as toxic spills and air & water pollution. More at the LA Times blog.


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Highlight> Jorge Pardo at Armory Center for the Arts

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Courtesy Armory Center for the Arts.

Jorge Pardo
Armory Center for the Arts
145 North Raymond Ave.
Pasadena, California
Through November 6

MacArthur-winner Jorge Pardo gained his reputation by blurring the boundaries between art, architecture, and design. In his temporary exhibit in the courtyard of the Armory Center, Pardo engages the surroundings, deploying four pepper trees to act as three-dimensional framing devices for groups of translucent hanging globes. What at first seems to be a festive environment becomes a contemplative one, as visitors sit on benches surrounding the base of the trees and take a closer look at the spheres. Each reveals an ethereal universe inside: delicate reflective materials sit protected from the surrounding activity, casting shimmering, changing light onto the world around them.

More photos after the jump.

A Pictorial Description of Broadway in 1899

Thursday, March 3, 2011
Broadway, East Side. Wall to Liberty St. (Courtesy NYPL)

Broadway, East Side. Wall to Liberty St. (Courtesy NYPL)

Last week, we came across illustrator James Gilliver Hancock’s series of playful block elevations titled “All the Buildings in New York.” It turns out this impulse to sketch block upon block of New York’s architecture has been around for quite some time. In 1899, the Mail & Express newspaper company published a graphic journey down Manhattan’s Broadway in a book called A Pictorial description of Broadway now archived at the New York Public Library.

The stroll down Broadway 112 years ago reveals just how much New York has evolved over the past century. As the NYPL says, “The result, as you can see here, is a 19th century version of Google’s Street View, allowing us to flip through the images block by block, passing parks, churches, novelty stores, furriers, glaziers, and other businesses of the city’s past.”

Check out some of our favorite blocks after the jump.

Revealing A City′s Hidden Digital Landscapes

Monday, February 28, 2011
Immaterials: Light painting WiFi (Courtesy

Immaterials: Light painting WiFi (Courtesy

Ever hit a WiFi dead spot when moving about the city? A new visualization project called Immaterials: Light painting WiFi by Timo Arnall, Jørn Knutsen and Einar Sneve Martinussen reveals the hidden landscape of digital signals though long-exposure photography and a stick equiped with a WiFi sensor and LED lights. Here’s more from

The city is filled with an invisible landscape of networks that is becoming an interwoven part of daily life. WiFi networks and increasingly sophisticated mobile phones are starting to influence how urban environments are experienced and understood. We want to explore and reveal what the immaterial terrain of WiFi looks like and how it relates to the city.

Looks like this project could feel right at home with the upcoming MoMA exhibition, Talk to Me, exploring the feedback of our environments. (Via information aesthetics.)

Watch a video of the project after the jump.

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Video> Mayne Gets Artsy & Art-itecture Round Up

Thursday, February 10, 2011
Thom Mayne explains his art (still from Form video)

Thom Mayne explains his art (still from Form video)

LA starchitect Thom Mayne recently took some time to share his art/sculpture with our friends at Form magazine. The three-dimensional pieces reveal his love for investigating hard-edged metallic shards, architectural movement, faceted surfaces, hovering forms and general chaos; all major forces in his architecture.

Watch Thom Mayne discuss his art and see more art by architects after the click.

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