No, not the Fascists—that was 2008, when the Northern League held its national rally at the entrance gates of the biennale giardini. I mean the architects! They have arrived in droves, and it’s easy to spot them walking along the Grand Canal absorbing the searing heat and humidity of August in Venice. The second day of reading press releases, walking the giardini, and visiting collateral exhibitions reaffirms my sense that there is more art in the 2010 biennale than architecture. This is, of course, not necessarily a bad thing, and many of these installations do consider architectural questions. But it makes one wonder why national pavilions make the decisions they do about the architectural conditions in their country. Read More
The Venice biennale does not open officially to the press until Thursday, August 26, and just about all of the national pavilions in the giardini are madly rushing to finish before that date. All the pavilions that is, except sadly the crumbling Venezuelan pavilion, which will not have an exhibition in it this year. Read More
LA’s City Planning and Building and Safety departments, which we could not reach last week, have finally spoken up on the now-imperiled M Cube in Venice. To remind you LA City Council on Thursday rejected designer Mark Baez’s request to allow his floating modular, glass-clad, cube shaped apartment building an exception to remain two feet above the Venice Specific Plan’s requirement of 30 feet. Baez asserted that building inspectors informed him too late that the building was too tall, that his contractor bungled the height, and that the city was nitpicking over a height limit that other buildings are able to surpass. Baez may now resort to tearing down the building instead of going through with the costly changes. City planner Kevin Jones and building and safety investigator John Kelly beg to differ. Read More
One of Venice’s great new houses—the M Cube by designer Mark Baez— is in danger of being at least partially demolished because of a local height restriction that says it’s about two feet above code (32 feet instead of 30). The prefab, modular building glows from within thanks to exterior windows and sliding doors made of translucent fiberglass. These and other elements make the cube look like a Japanese Tatami home floating above the city. The structure also uses radiant heating powered by solar panels on the roof. A hearing on the home is scheduled for June 2 (at LA City Council chambers at 10 a.m.) , and the architect is urging supporters to email their local councilman Bill Rosendahl at email@example.com. So what’s two feet between friends, right?
Is Italy returning to medieval-era warfare between city-states Milan and Venice? AN’s own Julie V. Iovine reports from Milan that Milanese and Lombardy officials are more than a bit miffed that Venice is proposing to start its own design fair in 2011, seeking to steal the spotlight from the nation’s long-established epicenter of design. Read More
According to our friends at Curbed LA, Eric Owen Moss’s planned Venice project , on the corners of Venice and Lincoln Boulevards, has been put on the shelf. Fred Mir, who works for the developer, Group III Investments, told Curbed that the neighborhood “didn’t like the height,” and that they had decided to scrap the project back in August, after a bumpy community meeting. No sign of what will replace Moss’s scheme, but we’ll be looking into it…
For the 53rd Venice Art Biennial, Jorge Otero-Pailos, a professor of preservation at Columbia, made a cast of the pollution on a wall of the Doge’s Palace on the Palazzo San Marco. Trained as a conservationist, he painted liquid latex directly onto the wall and then carefully removed the cast in one sheet. The result, The Ethics of Dust, Doge’s Palace, Venice, 2009, seen in this video, is a luminous scrim that preserves the residue accrued overtime.
Such pollution is typically seen negatively, but Otero-Pailos sees it as a record of human activity and questions the impulse to erase these traces of the past.
Artist Mike Boucher was excited to bring American suburbia to the Venice Biennale, constructing a floating McMansion—complete with cheesy yellow vinyl siding—set to grace the city’s famed canals. Unfortunately the house tilted off a failed pontoon and sank; a disaster for the artist (who actually seems to find the whole thing hilarious), but a good symbol for our housing market back in the USA.
We’re hitching the wagons this weekend to head to the 30th annual Venice Art Walk & Auctions, which include artist studio tours, gallery visits, a silent art auction, live music, and the yummy “food faire”. Of course our first stop will be the Art and Architecture tours of some of Venice’s coolest houses. We can’t wait to see Dennis Gibbens’ Multi-Use Townhouse (above). Here are a few more we’re excited about:
Last fall, the editors of The Architect’s Newspaper spent a week in Venice reporting on the architecture biennale. One of our fondest Venetian memories—the few times we could afford them—was moving around La Serenissima in water taxis. As we’ve noted before, the Venetian water taxi is the world’s most elegant form of public transportation: hand-made wooden motor boats with tuck-and-rolled leather seating, customized canvas hoods, and spit-shined wooden hulls and decks. Well, the editors are headed back to Italy, this time for Milan’s Saloni di Mobile.
The Venice biennale was founded in 1895 in one of La Serenissima’s few green spaces, the Giardini di Castello. It has occupied a random series of buildings in the park, which include national pavilions (the Belgians built the first in 1907 and the U.S. joined the party in 1930) and an undistinguished hall called the Italian pavilion since the late 1930s. Today the organization that operates the biennales (art, architecture, film etc.) announced plans to change the name of the Italian pavilion in the giardini to the Palazzo delle Esposizioni della Biennale and upgrade its aging infrastructure. While these changes will be welcome by the public, the spaces are all being designed by artists, not architects. Read More