Breaking Ground: Chinese American Architects in Los Angeles (1945–1980)
The Chinese American Museum
425 North Los Angeles St., Los Angeles
Through June 3
As part of the Pacific Standard Time initiative, the Chinese American Museum presents Breaking Ground to showcase the pioneering contributions made by four Southern California–based Chinese American architects. These architects, Eugene K. Choy, Gilbert Leong, Helen Liu Fong, and Gin Wong, all made contributions to the development of postwar California architecture, from Choy and Leong’s playful Chinatown Modernism to Wong’s radical masterplan for LAX and Fong’s development of the Googie style (think neon signage and cantilevered boomerang-shaped roofs). Original and reproduced photographs, blueprints, renderings, and drawings of works by the architects are on display, including original photographs by architectural photographer Julius Shulman (above, The Choy House).
With the moody Architectural Billings Index landing in positive territory for the fourth straight month in February, the architectural community might begin to exhale a sigh of relief. Project inquiries alone saw its highest spike since 2007, up from 61.2 to 63.4 (anything over 50 indicates an increase in billings).
Architecture in the Expanded Field
CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
1111 8th St., San Francisco
Through April 7
Theorist and critic Rosalind Krauss’s 1979 text “Sculpture in the Expanded Field” attempts to identify the scope of sculpture in a time when artists were redefining its traditional limits to include considerations of architecture, landscape, and space. The Wattis attempts a similar redefinition of the field of architecture; installations explore material, spatial, and perceptual concerns with emerging experimental technologies outside the limits of traditional architectural practice. A full-scale installation within and outside of the gallery transports visitors into the immersive environment, while a surface component presents the mapped expanded field of architectural installation.
City of Mirages: Baghdad, 1952–1982
Through May 5
Change: Baghdad, 2000–Present
Through June 23
Center for Architecture
536 LaGuardia Place
Two complimentary exhibits at the Center for Architecture capture an aspirational past and equally ambitious present in the Middle East. City of Mirages: Baghdad, 1952–1982 shows a flourishing cosmopolitan city that—whatever the regime—commissioned an impressive array of international design talent for much of the last century resulting in an architecture combing modernist ideas with interpretations of the local climate and culture. Through models and drawings, including Walter Gropius and Hisham A. Munir’s campus building (top) at the University of Baghdad, rather than photographs in order to emphasize the optimistic intentions of the period, City of Miracles sheds light on a significant but rarely seen corner of global modernism. CHANGE: Architecture and Engineering in the Middle East, 2000–Present surveys 123 contemporary works from 20 countries in the wider Middle East, including Asymptote and Dewan Architects’ Yas Marina Hotel in Abu Dhabi (above), gathered through an open call for submissions. The impact of rapid growth and instant globalization is evident through supertalls, man-made islands as well as UNESCO monument sites under siege.
Sarah Morris: Points on a Line
The Wexner Center
1871 North High Street
Through April 15
Points On A Line, a 2010 film by artist Sarah Morris, takes two iconic buildings as its central characters, Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House in Illinois and Philip Johnson’s Glass House in Connecticut (above). Commissioned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which owns both properties, the film is a meditation on the relationship between the buildings—Johnson, an acolyte of Mies and inspired by Farnsworth drawings, happened to complete his New Canaan house first—and the structures as they exist today. But it is the relationship of the architects themselves that becomes Morris’ narrative thread, serving as a springboard to explore their other architectural overlap: Johnson’s glamorized corporate interiors for the Four Seasons, the power-broker restaurant in the base of the Mies-designed Seagram building in Manhattan. Points on A Line underscores how our perception of a space is affected not just by its design but also its mythology.
News Paper Spires
The Skyscraper Museum
39 Battery Pl.
Through July 2012
Focusing on the years between 1870 and 1930, News Paper Spires at the Skyscraper Museum considers the buildings where the most important events of the day were committed to the public record with ever-increasing speed. Just after the Civil War, The New York Times, The New-York Tribune, and The New York Post all were headquartered on the so-called “Newspaper Row” to the east of City Hall Park (above), each headquartered in early skyscrapers, where writers and editors worked above, while below typesetters and steam-engine powered printing presses churned out morning, afternoon and evening editions. In this exhibition, the history of these vertical urban factories—including their migration from downtown to midtown—is considered through films, architectural renderings, photographs, typesetting equipment, and the archival newspapers themselves.
In office expansion news, Aedas announces it plans to double the size of its London office (currently 80 staffers) in the next two years to keep pace with work in Russia and North Africa.
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