In 2010, director Wim Wenders created a 3D video installation at the Venice Architecture Biennale about the Bolex Learning Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, called If These Walls Could Talk. The ability to visually explore the building and simulate being inside the space that the medium affords inspired him to team up with Robert Redford to create a 3D series called Cathedrals of Culture, which will be shown at the IFC Center in New York beginning on May 1.
Winners of the 32nd Annual Awards for Excellence in Design were announced last night at the Thomas Leeser–designed BRIC Arts Media House in Brooklyn’s emerging Cultural District. Mayor Bill de Blasio was on hand to honor the winning projects, which were selected by the city’s Design Commission. “While Brooklyn is my home borough, I am proud to be awarding a diverse group of projects representing all five New York City boroughs,” the mayor said in a statement. “This year’s winners exemplify the Design Commission’s mission to enhance every New Yorker’s quality of life through public design, regardless of their size or location of the project.” The 10 winning proposals are all unbuilt, but two special recognition awards were awarded to Tod Williams Billie Tsien’s LeFrak Center in Prospect Park and Louis Kahn’s Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island.
One of the most important components of any architecture school is its semester-long lecture series. It’s a chance for schools to bring in voices from outside their building and communicate to students a broad range of approaches and ideas percolating in the culture and profession. Many schools send out posters of these lectures to other schools across the country to announce their programing and these are posted on hallway walls for all to see even if they are thousands of miles away on another coast.
But now City College of New York’s Spitzer School of Architecture has taken the next step and is simulcasting its lectures live online for the public to view. Old lectures will be archived and viewable any time. This semester City College is focusing its lectures on Rethinking Kahn and have scheduled a distinguished line up of Louis Kahn scholars including Stanislaus von Moos this Thursday, February 28 speaking on Kahn’s urban projects. On March 7, Ken Frampton will be speaking on monumentality in Kahn’s work. March 21 will feature Gina Pollara who will lecture on New York’s FDR Memorial on Roosevelt Island and its construction. After that Robert Twombley and William J.R. Curtis will lecture. On the Friday after William Curtis’ lecture, there will be a discussion between William Curtis and George Ranalli and Rethinking Kahn.
You can’t make a monument without breaking some eggs. Fabergé cosmetics heir Reed Rubin is protesting a decision by the board of Roosevelt Island’s Four Freedoms Park to not include a donor inscription on the Louis Kahn-designed FDR memorial. For a $2.5 million donation in honor of Rubin’s parents Vera D. and Samuel Rubin, founders of the cosmetics firm and the Reed Foundation, the foundation claims it was promised an inscription in a prominent spot (preferably near the bust of FDR on a slab facing Manhattan).
The board of the park, not wanting to compromise the monument’s design, proposed an inscription in another location in the park. Rubin and the foundation are fighting back, and had tried to postpone October’s dedication. The New York Daily News quoted a letter written by the park’s board chairman William vanden Heuvel to the foundation: “You may prevail in a courtroom. But it will be a Pyrrhic victory, dear friends, a scar not a medal on the list of your achievements.”
This morning former President Bill Clinton, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined in a dignitary-studded dedication ceremony for the long awaited Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Memorial Park on Roosevelt Island’s southern tip. The four-acre triangular park, designed by architect Louis Kahn, features 120 Linden trees leading to a half-ton bronze bust of Roosevelt at its crest surveying the U.N. Headquarters and the East River. The sculpture by American artist Jo Davidson sits on a alcove of white granite inscribed with excerpts of the president’s renowned Four Freedoms speech. While the forty-years-in-the-making memorial does not officially open to the public until October 24th you can catch an early glimpse on October 19th when the park will be featured as Archtober’s Building of The Day.
Few university art museums have holdings that span from 3000-year old Chinese bronze vessels to bronze coins of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, and from the blue-tiled gates of ancient Babylon to Blam, a red, white, and blue oil painting by Roy Lichtenstein. The collections of the Yale University Art Gallery, both deep and wide-ranging, offer up an impressive art-fueled time machine, and thanks to the Gallery’s current expansion project by Ennead, visitors will be able to travel more easily than ever across history and cultures.
The Center for Architecture is known for programming variety, but last Thursday night’s premier of Architect: a chamber opera was a first. Granted, the film premier benefiting the CFA Foundation wasn’t live opera, but it was the first time the public got to hear the piece by Lewis Spratlan. The Pulitzer Prize winning composer’s music was paired with electroacoustical music by John Downey and Jenny Kallick, whose process involved “sound sampling” spaces designed by Kahn, such as the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. Spratlan’s music was then electronically “placed” within the various spaces.
194X–9/11: American Architects and the City
The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St.
Through January 2
Prompted by the United States’ entrance into World War II in 1942, Architectural Forum magazine commissioned pioneering architects to imagine and plan a postwar American city. At the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 194X-9/11: American Architects and the City features the plans, renderings, and sculpture of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Louis Kahn, Paul Rudolph, and Rem Koolhaas and their ideas for cities of the future. Rarely displayed works, such as Mies van der Rohe’s collage Museum for a Small City Project (1942), above, reveal plans for cultural centers and urban life in uncertain times.
Lori Bookstein Fine Art
138 Tenth Ave., New York
Through June 25
The architect Louis Kahn drew inspiration from his travels, both in foreign lands and closer to home. A new exhibition brings together drawings, watercolors, pastels, and oil paintings Kahn made between the late 1920s and the early 1950s during trips around the United States, Canada, Europe, and Egypt. From New England churches to Egyptian rock quarries, the collected works offer Kahn’s interpretation of diverse landscapes and cityscapes, like Coastal Village, No. 2, Isle Madame, Nova Scotia (1936), above. In the exhibition, Kahn’s artwork is contextualized with his postcards and other travel ephemera.
Since My Architect, interest in Louis Kahn’s work has grown exponentially, and many of his lesser-known buildings have received greater care. Among the most endangered was the Trenton Bath House in Ewing, New Jersey. Though it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, it’s future was uncertain until 2007 when the Township of Ewing and Mercer County, NJ acquired the property and agreed to restore it, a process you can now follow on a new website.