AN is already in Venice preparing an edited list of the best of the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. The biennale in years past was confined to the spectacular Arsenale and the pavilion-filled giardini (some of the pavilions were designed by Carlo Scarpa), but one of the big changes in the past two biennials is the number of off-site events, pavilions, and installations that now participate in the architecture fair.
The board of the Venice Biennale announced today that Phyllis Lambert is the 2014 recipient of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement for the 14th Architecture Biennale, Fundamentals. Best known for championing the selection of Mies van der Rohe to design the Seagram Building for her family and for founding the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Lambert has worked as an architect, author, curator, and advocate for contemporary architecture and historic preservation.
From the abandoned foundations of the ill-fated Chicago Spire to the ghosts of would-be Tribune Towers galore, Chicago’s unbuilt legacy could rival the iconic skyline it actually achieved. An exhibition on display downtown, dubbed City Works: Provocations for Chicago’s Urban Future, confronts the city with its alternative skyline in the form of a panoramic wall design and a “Phantom Chicago” iPhone app. The overall effect evokes “a dream but also a nightmare,” in the words of curator Alexander Eisenschmidt. Read More
Starting Memorial Day, Chicago’s Millennium Park will host the U.S. debut of a bright array of public design projects, many of which appeared at the 2012 Venice Biennale. Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good will feature 84 works, including more than a dozen for Chicago and several that also appeared in Venice.
Koolhaas Controversy: OMA to Turn Venice Palazzo into a Department Store and Venue for the 2014 Biennale
After much controversy, Rem Koolhaas’ firm OMA has been granted permission to transform a historic Venice palazzo that is currently a post office into a department store and venue for the 2014 Venice Biennale. Fashion retailer Benetton bought the site, the Fondaco die Tedeschi, five years ago for more than $68 million.
Just a few weeks before the death of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, the New Yorker published a profile by Jon Lee Anderson (“Letter from Caracas: Slumlord”). The subject of the profile was less Chavez and more a Chavez-era phenomenon, the so-called Tower of David in downtown Caracas. “It embodies the urban policy of this regime, which can be defined by confiscation, expropriation, governmental incapacity, and the use of violence,” Guillermo Barrios, dean of architecture at the Universidad Central in Caracas, told Anderson.
The Storefront for Art and Architecture is bringing Aircraft Carrier, the 2012 Israeli pavilion at the Venice Biennale, to New York. The exhibit—one of the most pointedly political statements at the biennale—confronts the influence of the United States and its foreign policy in the Middle East and how it has affected Israeli architecture. The pavilion points to the year 1973 and the OPEC oil crises as a watershed in global capitalism when American strategic interests helped enable a new level of corporate architecture in Israel. The resulting reflected glass skyscrapers set against the optimism of Tel Aviv’s White City could not be more a poignant modernist image.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by German publisher Hatje Cantz and edited by the curators, which contextualizes the phenomena in larger transformative processes. The book include texts by Milton Friedman, Justin Fowler, and Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen and visual works by participating artists Florian Holzherr, Nira Pereg, Jan Tichy, Assaf Evron, and Fernando Guerra.
Exhibition Opening: March 7, 2013, 7PM
Exhibition: March 7 – April, 29 2013
The 14th installment of the Venice Architecture Biennale, to be spearheaded by Rem Koolhaas, will be called Fundamentals, the architect announced today at a press conference today. “Fundamentals will be a Biennale about architecture, not architects,” Koolhaas said in a statement. “After several Biennales dedicated to the celebration of the contemporary, Fundamentals will focus on histories – on the inevitable elements of all architecture used by any architect, anywhere, anytime (the door, the floor, the ceiling etc.) and on the evolution of national architectures in the last 100 years.” The Biennale will take place from June 7 through November 23, 2014.
Rem Koolhaas has been named director of the 2014 Venice Biennale, the 14th edition of the architecture exhibition. Koolhaas, a leading thinker and persistent provocateur in the discipline, succeeds David Chipperfield. “The Architecture Exhibitions of the Biennale have gradually grown in importance internationally,” said Biennale President Paolo Baratta in a statement. “Rem Koolhaas, one of the most significant personalities among the architects of our time—who has based all his work on intense research, now renowned celebrity—has accepted to engage himself in yet another research and, why not, rethinking.”
Chipperfield’s exhibition, called Common Ground, which sought to identify continuities across cultures, time periods, and architectural approaches, divided critics. Koolhaas will take a different approach: “We want to take a fresh look at the fundamental elements of architecture—used by any architect, anywhere, anytime—to see if we can discover something new about architecture.”
“Venice Architecture Biennale ‘cannot get any worse’ says Wolf D. Prix,” read the headline on Dezeen’s August 30 wire post. In a press release titled “The Banal,” Prix declared that that architects participating in the biennale are “playing” while the profession is “sinking into powerlessness and irrelevance” at the hands of politicians, bureaucrats, and investors.
The broadside caused a stir in Venice during he opening and in the blogosphere but now it appears that Prix was never in Venice for the biennale in the first place and thus had not seen the exhibition he denounced. His office claims that Prix has been misunderstood and “the critique addressed the theme of the exhibition, not the show or its execution,” according to a spokesperson for the firm.
The Russian pavilion at the Venice Biennale has in recent years been a bit of a snore. The space has been filled most recently in 2010 with unconvincing drawings of older Russian cities and earlier (2008) with models of Ordos McMansions. But this year the pavilion’s interior was spectacularly reconfigured with walls of glass QR codes in its central space forming a digital dome, but the display’s heavy-handedness brought to mind earlier periods of Russian single mindedness and even totalitarianism.
It seems those in charge of this year’s Venice effort finally realized what kind of pavilion makes an impact in the giardini on harried biennale visitors and journalists and went for the full design monty. But the tensions in contemporary Russian society were also highlighted on Thursday during the Golden Lion awards presentation ceremony when a few hundred feet away a crew of cocktail-dressed and balaclava-wearing young Russian women “occupied” the exterior of the pavilion to make the case for the Pussy Riot band back in Russia recently jailed for hooliganism.
A rumor quickly spread that actual members of the band who had escaped Russie were present at the protest. Were these actually Pussy Rioters or sympathizers? No one was sure but it sure beat listening to the Biennale directors and bureaucrats drone on about Common Ground as the press rushed over from the dreadful press conference.