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.
Caroline O’Donnell’s Ithaca-based studio, CODA, is preparing to build a towering pavilion in the courtyard of MoMA PS1 in Queens out of scrap from the manufacture of skateboards. O’Donnell talked to AN when the pavilion, called Party Wall, was unveiled in January, saying, “There are eight different kinds of skateboard forms, and each board has its own errors, which produce surprising effects.”
CODA has now released a stunning video rendering showing Party Wall peeking over the walls of the PS1 courtyard adjacent to landmarks like the graffiti-covered Five Pointz building across the street. It suggests how the crowds that flock to MoMA PS1 each summer might interact with the structure showing benches also made from scrap wood. (Plus, an easter egg: check out what the pavilion’s shadow spells at the 1:40 mark!) Party Wall will open in late June and we’ll be sure to see you there!
The Philadelphia City Council will consider several bills aimed at transforming thousands of vacant parcels into development districts, or a land bank. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the city spends an estimated $20 million on keeping up these tax-delinquent parcels. Council President Darrell L. Clarke will propose that the city create development districts on vacant, publicly owned land. The city would provide a number of incentives to entice developers to build on these properties, such as discounts, expedited permitting, and easy re-zoning. The city is also looking at establishing a land bank within the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation to take over these properties and then sell them at low prices.
Last year, plans were floated to build a new $300 million, 25,000-seat, Major League Soccer stadium in Queens’ Flushing Meadows Corona Park, to be designed by SHoP Architects. Because of the contentious nature of using public park land to build a stadium, the project had remained out of public view, but early conceptual renderings were leaked by the Empire of Soccer blog following a lecture by SHoP principal Gregg Pasquarelli at Columbia University. According to Empire of Soccer, in a video of the lecture posted and since removed from Youtube, Pasquarelli is heard saying, “The project I’m not supposed to show (you) so I am not going to tell you where it is or what it is but it’s a new stadium that should be announced in the next couple of months.” He described the facility as a new type of stadium without walls.
According to Capital New York, MLS president Mark Abbott denied that the proposed stadium would look like the renderings and that SHoP may not be designing the final stadium, stating: “These drawings do not represent what they stadium will look like. In fact, we haven’t selected an architect yet and will not start the design process until we have an owner for the club. This was simply a concept drawing that was done only to help determine the potential height and footprint. Any assertion that these drawings represent what a stadium will look like in Queens is wrong.
Missed Situ Studio‘s 30-foot-long Heartwalk Valentine’s Day installation in Times Square this year? The Brooklyn-based design firm has taken the Hurricane Sandy-salvaged heart back to their DUMBO neighborhood and installed it on the Pearl Street Triangle pedestrian plaza next to the Manhattan Bridge. According to the DUMBO Improvement District, which posted photos to its blog, the installation can be viewed from the ground or from the bike lanes high up on the bridge. The Brooklyn version of Heartwalk will be on display through April 30 thanks to support from the DUMBO Improvement District, Situ Studio, and the NYC Department of Transportation.
Just over four years ago, the Fox River spilled its banks, sending floodwaters into Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House and causing significant damage. Built in 1951 and located outside Chicago, the river is again rising, now fully surrounding the stilted abode turned museum, and the house, operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has shared watery photos on its Farnsworth blog, stating: ”The house is fully surrounded by river water, but neither the lower deck nor the upper deck has yet to be breached.” Water is not expected to enter the house, but all precautions are being taken, including elevating interior furnishings on milk crates.When the site is not flooded, tours of the house are available to the public.
We were glad to be included on the Studio Gang’s Archi-Salon panel on “outside research” at the Art Institute of Chicago on February 2. UIC’s Clare Lyster moderated a lively discussion that, true to its roots in academic theory, kicked off by questioning the premise in the first place. Are practice and research separated by anything more than semantics? Based on the turnout it seems the discussion series achieved its goal of public engagement—what can we say? We’re thrilled and a bit surprised that you all find architectural theory as stimulating as we do.
During the discussion, Paul Preissner detected a whiff of marketing in architects’ clambering to engage “outside” disciplines. You might have thought he accused them of artistic treason, based on the defensive tone that the discussion took whenever the topic popped back up.
Construction on the two-track Gateway project, a new tunnel between New Jersey and Manhattan, will commence this summer beneath Related Company’s Hudson Yards redevelopment site. Related Companies and Amtrak will build this 800-foot-long “box tunnel,” which will first serve as a shell for Amtrak’s rail connection linking the Hudson tunnel to Penn Station’s tracks, and, eventually, to the proposed Moynihan Station. The actual Amtrak Gateway Project is still years away, but construction on this first leg of the tunnel is happening now to coordinate with construction on Manhattan’s West Side. The project will be funded by the federal government including some funding from the Hurricane Sandy relief package meant to help mitigate flooding during future storms. It’s estimated to cost between $120 and $150 million.