The London headquarters of insurance giant Swiss Re at 30 St Mary Axe, known locally as “the Gherkin,” was scheduled to take its true form, today—a giant green pickle—thanks to Jackpot Joy, a British online gambling site, which promised last month to light up Sir Norman Foster’s iconic skyscraper with a digital projection. The foodie facelift called for wrapping the 41-story tower in a special non-reflective film requiring a crew of ten and around 900 man-hours. With no news that the tower is actually glowing, the stunt appears to have been too large a gamble. The jokesters, however, last year successfully sent a 60-foot rubber duck down the Thames. It appears this is strike two for recladding the tower after a campaign to transform it into a penguin went nowhere as well.
The Eero Saarinen-designed Gateway Arch in St. Louis is preparing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its opening, taking place in 2015, and the original Dan Kiley landscape around the monumental catenary arch is getting an overhaul by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA). The full story about the newly updated plans for the ambitious project appeared in the Midwest edition of AN News. MVVA shared these views of the current landscape and what’s proposed, showing just how dramatic the transformation will be. Take a look.
American Standard Movement
Smart Museum of Art
University of Chicago
5550 South Greenwood Avenue, Chicago
Through October 6
Valerie Snobeck reuses left over construction materials from a project on the University of Chicago campus in her exhibition American Standard Movement, which is showing at the Smart Museum of Art’s courtyard. In doing so, her work presents questions of art, materiality, temporality, and significance. The exhibition displays a net tacked up against a wall and adorned with markings derived from repair tools that measure the small inner parts of watches. The function of netting is twofold: to catch the construction’s falling dust and debris and to serve as a visible indicator of the construction site and its parameters. Netting acts as a temporary stand-in for a wall during construction, but, due to its malleable nature and woven fabric, is physically unlike a wall. Snobeck’s net is not being used in its typical function, but is not necessarily functionless. She asks viewers to consider what is behind netting and what is being built or rebuilt. American Standard Movement proposes a connection between the body and space measured in parts. The piece questions efforts to dictate the future in physical and speculative ways.
Many conferences leave audiences sitting in a dark theater while speakers and panelists perform on stage. At Facades + PERFORMANCE, April 11-12 in NYC, attendees have the opportunity to have in-depth conversations with architects, fabricators, developers, and engineers. Day 2 Dialog workshops, a new feature at this year’s conference, offer participants an opportunity to interact with some of the industry’s top experts in an intimate, seminar-style setting with a goal of encouraging inquiry and problem-solving.
Participants can select one workshop each from morning and afternoon sessions to create a customized daylong schedule that best suits their professional goals. For those interested in the renovation of large commercial facades in the urban environment and the use of contemporary curtainwall technology to renovate old masonry buildings, a special full-day session, “The Challenge and Opportunity Presented by an Aging Building Stock“ is being led by Mic Patterson, director of strategic development at the facade technology firm Enclos. The workshop meets at Enclos’ Advanced Technology Studio, but to discuss retrofitting there’s no better classroom than the city of Manhattan itself—the group will conclude the day with a visit the Javits Center for a tour of the recently reclad building. As part of the program, case studies will be presented by Robert Golda of Heintges; William Paxson & Mayin Yu from Davis Brody Bond, and Hamid Vossoughi of Halsall Associates.
Up to 8 AIA/CES LU or LU/HSW credits available. Register here.
Check out the full Dialogue Workshops menu after the jump.
The slow and tortured demise of Chicago’s Prentice Women’s Hospital now has an official stamp: according to the Chicago Tribune, Northwestern University was issued a demolition permit for the Bertrand Goldberg cloverleaf last Friday. Wrecking crews will be on site in a few weeks after asbestos abatement wraps up, and there are sure to be protesters around the construction fence.
Of course, as seems all too common, the city is also busy readying soldiers for the next preservation battle. The 1957 Edo Belli-designed Cuneo Memorial Hospital is targeted for demolition, but Uptown residents have reached out to Preservation Chicago for support seeking landmark status. The group listed the building on its 2012 list of seven most-threatened structures in the city. Add this to what happened to Prentice and it isn’t a good year to be a midcentury modernist hospital in Chicago.
Kate Gilmore: Body of Work
11400 Euclid Avenue
Through June 9
Through performance-based art, Kate Gilmore presents her body battling through strenuous physical absurdities while wearing whimsical feminine outfits, like fitted dresses and high heels. Her clothing makes the chaotic and messy actions all the more uncomfortable and comical. Gilmore’s performances reexamine the feminist performance art that became popular in the 1970s. By injecting humor into her work alongside visible awkwardness and distress, she explores the female identity while breaking down accepted masculine art practices found in modernist history. Her aggressive movements against feminine tones make the performance visually interesting. For her first solo show, the artist will display ten years of video works. The exhibition will also feature a recently commissioned performance in the form of a sculpture and video.
Travis Somerville: A Great Cloud of Witnesses
Catherine Clark Gallery
150 Minna Street, San Francisco
Through April 13
In his solo exhibition at Catherine Clark Gallery, Travis Somerville presents a mixed-media exhibition, layering past and present. He continues his work investigating historical memory and questioning how particular fragmented stories are simplified into collective truths. Specifically, Somerville uses imagery from the Civil Rights movement to explore the status of human rights in our contemporary society. By presenting current stories of immigration, Uzbekistan’s child labor, and the uprisings of the Arab Spring against collages, images, and objects from the Civil Rights movement, Somerville explores our “post racial” culture. One installation presents a line of reproduced racially designated water fountains mounted to a gallery wall.
If you’ve seen the giant etched-glass dragon snaking across the ceiling at Shun Lee Palace in New York, you’ve glimpsed of the handiwork of Philip Vourvoulis, an expert in architectural glass known for his work on projects ranging from museums to residences to restaurants. On April 12, Vourvoulis will lead the workshop “The Challenges of Glass Architecture: Controlling the Appearance and Performance of Glass in the Building Facade” part of Facades + PERFORMANCE, an upcoming conference on high-performance building enclosures sponsored by The Architect’s Newspaper.
At the workshop, Vourvoulis will be joined by Christoph Timm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Bruce Milley of Guardian Industries, and Nick Bagatelos of BISEM. In the form of an interactive panel discussion, the group will explore the latest in architectural glass materials and processes, including new printing processes, electrochromic products, and other high-performance glazings. Using case studies, the workshop will highlight strategies to optimize performance while maintaining aesthetic control. This workshop offers 4 LU/HSW AIA CE credits.
Look out Google Maps, there’s a new super-slick mapping program out there, simply called Here. Nokia launched the mapping service late last year, and it includes a 3D pan-and-tilt feature that allows the viewer to fly through dramatic cityscapes or terrains, and it avoids some of the crazy infrastructure we’ve seen in the past. Videographer Paul Wex stumbled across the website and decided to make a video showcasing major cities around the world, and the results are stunning. Take a look above, or try it out yourself at Here.com. (Or if you have red-and-blue 3D glasses laying around, test it out in “3D Glasses Mode.”)
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.
Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s
Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue
Through March 31
Designing Tomorrow presents relics from six depression-era expositions that brought new visions of progress and prosperity to a struggling nation. Tens of millions of Americans flocked to fairs in Chicago (1933/34), San Diego (1935/36), Dallas (1936), Cleveland (1936/37), San Francisco (1939/40), and New York (1939/40) to catch a glimpse of the futurist oracles that would soon become post-war realities—from glass skyscrapers, superhighways, and the spread of suburbia, to electronic home goods and nylon hosiery. The fairs helped America to look forward to an era of opulence and innovation, spreading from the metropolis to the living room. Modernist furniture, streamlined appliances, vintage film reels, and visionary renderings drawn from the museum’s collection are presented together.