Lauretta Vinciarelli was a quiet but powerful presence on the New York architecture scene since the 1980s when she began producing “imaginary architectural settings” of buildings and landscapes. I considered it a great honor to be invited to her Soho loft to look and talk about her latest work 10 years before her death in 2011. It’s too easy as an architectural journalist covering the daily rough and tumble of urban architecture to get jaundiced about the profession, but Vinciarelli’s extraordinarily beautiful and quiet drawings and paintings remind me why we still believe in the power and hope of great architecture.
John Johansen’s iconic Mummers Theater in Oklahoma City may be demolished in the next year. Built with a $1.7 million grant from the Ford Foundation, the so called “Brutalist” building was closed in 2010 due to flooding and a local Oklahoma City group has been trying to purchase it for a downtown children’s museum.
Syracuse University’s School of Architecture will need a new dean before summer. New York City’s International Center of Photography (ICP) has announced that Mark Robbins the current dean of the school will become its next Executive Director. Robbins worked tirelessly to utilize Syracuse’s intellectual and design resources to bring life and new ideas to the dying college city and will be hard for the school to replace. But perhaps his skill at jump starting building projects will be useful in helping ICP find a new Manhattan gallery space befitting their mission and world class collection. Robbins will move out of his dramatic Syracuse bank townhouse and back to his hometown by July 1.
The Brooklyn Navy Yard is home to New York’s most spectacular collection of industrial buildings, warehouses, and 19th century dry docks. The Yard is normally closed to the public, but this Saturday Open House New York will open the gated industrial park to the public and many of its artisans, designers, and fabricators will be on hand to conduct tours of their studio spaces. The Navy Yard has just opened Building 92 with a spectacular museum of the facility’s history and an adjacent exhibition space featuring an exhibit of the collected steel dies (called hubs) of Mathew Lewandowski who was tool and die maker based in the Yard. The hubs on display represent 30 years of Lewandowski’s production and are beautiful objects in their own right as well as being tools for mass production. This Saturday is supposed to be beautiful weather so join Open House for a day in the Yard and its after party with the artists and artisans on the tour.
In a city known for specialized districts—diamonds, finance and garments to name only three—the Brooklyn Navy Yard is perhaps the most unique. The “Yard” is home to nearly 170 design related businesses like industrial designers, fabricators, artists, and architects and as a former ship building facility it is gated and closed to the public. But on May 12 Open House New York will open the former navy facility to the public from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. and may of these creative studios and work spaces will open their studios for self guided tours. It will be an amazing day and AN will publish a full list of participating studios later in the week, but contact Open House to purchase a ticket for the tour which includes a drinks party at the Yard’s new Building 92.
The Venice Biennale is staged in an enormous old Arsenal building and in an urban park a few blocks away that houses 30 national pavilions. The first of these pavilions opened in 1907 and several were designed by famous architects like Josef Hoffmann (Austria), BBPR (Canada), Alvar Aalto (Finland), and Sverre Fehn (Nordic). The United States pavilion was designed by William Adams Delano. There have been very few buildings built in the garden since James Sterling designed the biennial book store in 1991, but just behind the U.S. pavilion the Australians are building a new exhibition space designed by Denton Corker Marshall. The Australian architects describe the pavilion as a simple structure or “a white box contained within a black box.” The pavilion will open in 2015 for the 56th art biennale and its $6 million price tag will be paid for with private funds.
The Woolworth Building just a few short blocks from Zuccotti Park—the spiritual home of the Ocuppy movement—was itself bathed in radical red last night to celebrate the iconic “red” work of Barbara Krueger and Bernard Tschumi. The two celebrated figures were being honored by the Storefront for Art and Architecture at their annual Spring fundraiser.
There are perhaps three–maybe four–design hubs in New York City. These hubs are places with high concentrations of architects and allied designers who are attracted by relatively large, light-filled spaces and the camaraderie of like-minded designers next door. These hubs are know mostly in the “cool” borough of Brooklyn (The Brooklyn Navy Yard, Dumbo and Red Hook), but the originally and still most “designer” dense is near Hudson Square, on Varick Street between Houston to Canal. Last month The Architect’s Newspaper collaborated with Open House New York (ohny.org) and had a hugely successful Saturday afternoon in Dumbo where over 35 architects opened there offices to the public.
Now we are doing second Open Studio on Varick Street, and the public will have the opportunity to visit some of the most high profile and active architects offices in the city. The event will take place on Saturday, March 31, 2012 from 1:00p.m. to 5:00p.m., and you can make a reservation to attend the day at OHNY’s website. The day will conclude with a drinks event at a local spot for all those participating in Open Studios.
Come by and say hello.
We have written about the Universität Stuttgart’s Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design before, but they keep pushing the boundaries of exciting new building technology. On April 16 they will introduce the “world’s first adaptive shell structure spanning 10 meters by 10 meters (to a scale of 1:1.), ” and the shell will be “exposed to hydraulic drives that produce movements at the support points in order to specifically reduce loads and deformations caused by externally applied loads.” Check back in on April 17th to see the test results!
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been attacking Barack Obama lately for trying to bring European Social Democracy to this country. A new book on 44 urban transformation projects in European Union makes us wish “if only!”
The book details some well known projects—the Novartis campus in Basel, the new Bilbao Metro, and Strasbourg’s car park by Zaha Hadid architects—but it also features many lesser known projects that make Europe seem like the most interesting testing ground for transforming aging cities into new livable ones. Developed from a 2010 exhibition by Architecture Workroom Brussels, the book does not have a distributor in this country, so we are loathe to review, but it turns out that the book is designed by New York City-based Project Projects, and they are hosting a launch of the book on Sunday, March 11 from 4-6pm at their office at 161 Bowery on the second floor.