Y’all remember poor old Art Chicago? Remember when we captured, in this very column, the life mimics performance art of young show-goers eating leftover pizza from the garbage? This city has struggled for years to create a world-class contemporary art show, but hopefully our highfalutin luck is about to change with the second annual Expo Chicago, opening on September 19. A few weeks ago, Bottega Veneta with the fancy PR-folks of Skoog Productions, threw a party for the host committee of Gallery Weekend (GW), which runs concurrently with Expo. Eaves isn’t exactly sure what GW is, but that’s probably because our annual art budget is only in the three figures. I think it’s for trying to convince out of town rich folks that we’re the Miami of the Midwest.
Robert Irwin’s “Scrim veil—Black rectangle—Natural light”
The Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Avenue
New York, NY
Through September 1
It has been 36 years since Robert Irwin, now 84 years old, debuted his Scrim veil—Black rectangle—Natural light installation at the Whitney Museum of American Art. This summer, the legendary installation, designed specifically for the fourth floor of the Breuer building, returns to the museum. As the title suggests, Irwin’s minimalist installation is composed of three simple elements: a black line that runs along the length of the gallery walls, natural light that enters through the museum’s iconic trapezoidal window, and a white translucent polyester scrim hung from the ceiling that slices through the space. These elements divide the space into various geometric forms and create a disorienting experience. As visitors circle the gallery and daylight moves across the room, the perception of space is shown to be less definite than one might previously have imagined.
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I have been writing to publications I respect in hopes of influencing the way the profession is covered. I sincerely believe that the use of “star architects” or worse, starchitects”—which is not a word—undermines serious discourse regarding architecture and urbanism. An argument could be made that the use of any popular expression or jargon undermines the seriousness of the message; I believe it is a problematic, derogatory term that is both insulting to the architects described and to the profession in general. It doesn’t serve any real purpose except to denigrate a few individuals and to signal the “hip” or “in-the-know” sense that the journalist has of himself, except that now it communicates that the user is out-of-date. If nothing else, the expression starchitect has passed its shelf life. Unfortunately, it has begun to spread to mainstream culture along with its toxic effects.
Center for Architecture
536 Laguardia Place
New York, NY
Through October 26
Colombia: Transformed/Architecture=Politics, on view at the Center for Architecture through October 26, examines 11 recently built, socially-mindful developments designed by six leaders in contemporary Colombian architecture: Daniel Bonilla and Giancarlo Mazzanti from Bogotá, and Felipe Mesa, Juan Manuel Pelaez, Felipe Uribe and Orlando Garcia from Medellín. The projects in the show embody the change occurring in Latin America today and reveal themes of social inclusion in addition to inventive architectural forms and spaces.
Three developers vie for the commission to convert Philadelphia’s 72-year-old Family Court Building into a new luxury hotel. After issuing a request for qualifications last October, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. (PIDC) has selected three development teams from a pool of applicants, which include Fairmont Hotels & Resorts with Logan Square Holdings, Klimpton Hotels with P&A Associates and the Peebles Corp., and Starwood Hotel & Resorts with Dranoff Properties and HRI Properties. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the city will bring officials together from different departments, from planning to historic preservation, to oversee the review process and choose a proposal. The PIDC anticipates that an agreement will be reached with the winning developer by end of the year. A new hotel will be a coup for the area around the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which has seen an influx of activity and changes in the last few years.
Never Built: Los Angeles
A+D Architecture and Design Museum
6032 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles
July 27–September 29th, 2013
It is difficult to envision the city of Los Angeles any differently than it exists today, but AN West editor Sam Lubell and co-curator Greg Goldin, in collaboration with Clive Wilkinson Architects, have organized an exhibition at the Architecture and Design Museum that grants visitors the rare opportunity to get a glimpse of the city as it could have been. The team gathered a diverse assortment of renderings, models, and various media depicting parks, buildings, master plans, and transportation schemes that were designed with the intention of being built, but were deemed too novel to actually be brought to life. The collection features unrealized projects, such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1925 Civic Center Plan, William H. Evans’s 1939 design for the Tower of Civilization, and B+U Architect’s 2009 design for an office building on Firestone Boulevard, as well as many other projects that, had they been carried out, would have completely changed the physical reality of the city of Los Angeles.
Richard Rogers turned 80 years old this week, making him the same age as Willie Nelson. You might think that’s a pointless comparison, but the Italian-born, British, self-described “left-winger” architect and the pot-smoking Texan Outlaw Country singer have more in common than one might at first suspect. At around the same time that Shotgun Willie was changing America by uniting the hippies and the red necks through music, Rogers and his buddy/collaborator Renzo Piano were converting critics into fawning admirers and altering the face of architecture with their design for the Centre Pompidou. “We thought of ourselves as bad boys who wanted to change the world, with the funny idea that you could do it through architecture,” is the way Piano put it in a recent article in The Guardian.
Cut ‘n’ Paste: From Architectural Assemblage to Collage City
The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd Street
New York, NY
Through December 1
Cut ‘n’ Paste: From Architectural Assemblage to Collage City, on view at The Museum of Modern Art from July 10 to December 1, examines the essential yet overlooked role of collage in architectural representation. The exhibition places Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s early photomontages next to the cut-and-pasted experiments of artists, photographers, and graphic designers. Together, these pieces suggest an immersive “collage city,” originally conceived by Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter in the 1970s, that becomes animated through superimposing various elements.
In recent interview with the journal Foreign Policy, Frank Gehry held forth on how architecture and democracy don’t really go together. Just too many opinions, you see. “I think the best thing is to have a benevolent dictator—who has taste!” said Gehry. “It’s really hard to get consensus, to have a tastemaker. There is no Robert Moses anymore.” Why was Gehry on FP’s radar in the first place? We’re guessing it was Hillary Clinton’s Gehry name-check in one of her outgoing speeches as Secretary of State. Riffing on how institutions of the future must be dynamic rather than static, the stateswomen stated, “We need a new architecture for this new world, more Frank Gehry than formal Greek.”
The planners of the AIA New York Chapter 2014 International Architecture and Design Summit have selected a pretty unusual conference venue: the Chateau of Versailles. Given the still sorry state of the economy, the choice left us scratching our head (under our powdered wig). Perhaps Rick Bell will point out the lessons in urban agriculture to be found in the Petit Trianon? Summit participants can display their work on easels in the Galeries Batailles, which will be handy if they want to do a little painting later en plein air. Apres tout, Giverny is less than an hour away by automobile, a bit longer by carriage though. Potential attendees are warned that the Plaza Anthénée will be closed for renovations. Sacrebleu!