The 2010 Venice architecture biennale closed on Saturday—at least for media representatives, as journalists were required for the first time to turn in their press passes and enter as public citizens (tickets, $25). I hated giving up that pass as it allowed me access to the exhibitions both at the Arsenale and in the giardini, home of the national pavilions. Though Venice is hardly a major military installation there are canals in the area that are off-limits to civilians; a water taxi driver informed my group that only a special permit would get us into the canal so I produced my press pass and he said “va bene” and he drove us up the canal. The power of the press! Read More
Nothing much to report from yesterday, as it was a day of formal openings when very little was in fact open to the press or public. It was mostly a day of introductory speeches by biennale directors and city and government officials. Frank Gehry presented some models, made a few brief remarks, and then everyone headed for the hallway, where we had our first free prosecco and great little appetizers. Journalists and media types stood around asking about where the best parties were to be had in the coming days (more on this later). Read More
No, not the Fascists—that was 2008, when the Northern League held its national rally at the entrance gates of the biennale giardini. I mean the architects! They have arrived in droves, and it’s easy to spot them walking along the Grand Canal absorbing the searing heat and humidity of August in Venice. The second day of reading press releases, walking the giardini, and visiting collateral exhibitions reaffirms my sense that there is more art in the 2010 biennale than architecture. This is, of course, not necessarily a bad thing, and many of these installations do consider architectural questions. But it makes one wonder why national pavilions make the decisions they do about the architectural conditions in their country. Read More
The Venice biennale does not open officially to the press until Thursday, August 26, and just about all of the national pavilions in the giardini are madly rushing to finish before that date. All the pavilions that is, except sadly the crumbling Venezuelan pavilion, which will not have an exhibition in it this year. Read More
The Venice Architecture Biennale has traditionally opened later in September. But this year, because of a scheduling conflict, it is opening on August 29 and will remain open until November 21. We will be blogging from the biennale during the press preview and beyond, so watch for our posts of events, press conferences, and parties. If you want a list of official biennale events you can of course check their website, along with the new iPhone app that launched today. But this year there seem to be more collateral events to the official program than ever before. Read More
The restaurant La Superior in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is small place with very high standards. Not only does it have the best tacos and salsa in the five boroughs, but its low-cost décor features design elements by Mexican engineer/designer Ricardo Cid that are as exciting as the food. Cid, from Mexico City, claims he always wanted to be an artist but one that used “different and more complicated tools and calculations,” so he studied engineering at Mexico City’s UNAM. The university gave Cid a research grant, and he used the money to move to New York City and begin an independent research practice focusing on “old and lost methods of Mexican manufacturing,” and adapting them to new materials when the old ones could not be found. Read More
The Biennale Architettura 2010 in Venice will open a month earlier than usual this year, with the media vernissage set for August 26–28. The Architect’s Newspaper will be there blogging daily on Kazuyo Sejima’s curated exhibition People Meet in Architecture, bringing you reports from all the national pavilions, collateral exhibits, and of course the parties. Read More
Nils Wiesenmüller of the Bridgeport Design Group reports that the historic Remington Arms Factory has been saved—at least for the moment. As we reported on April 19, the building, which once made guns for Czarist Russian armies and served as General Electric’s corporate headquarters, was slated for demolition by G.E., which still owns the structure. But the Connecticut Post claims that the city’s Inland Wetlands Watercourses Agency has tabled G.E.’s demolition permit for the moment because it cannot prove that “no materials, soil, or hazardous waste would make their way into nearby Stillman Pond during the two years it would take to deconstruct the 13 interconnected structures and powerhouse on the 72-acre property.” Still, it seems that G.E. and some in the city are determined to see the building torn down, so we are continuing our effort to save the structure and find an alternative use for it. We started a petition with Wiesenmüller, and while it now has almost 500 signatures, we need more. Please sign the petition and keep the pressure on to save this historic structure!
An earth-formed concrete amphitheater designed by Paolo Soleri may be demolished later this summer. One of only a handful of structures built by Soleri, the open-air theater (known as the “Paolo”) is on the campus of the Santa Fe Indian School, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The school commissioned Soleri to design the theater in 1964, and though it has been used for graduations and concerts since that time, the school now believes that it costs too much to maintain, and says it brings drunken crowds onto the campus during events. Read More
The New Practices New York juried portfolio competition took place on Wednesday. This biennial competition, sponsored by the AIA New York chapter and now in its third iteration, has quickly become one of New York City’s most important launching pads for architects who have been in practice for less than five years. The winners are featured in an exhibition at the Center for Architecture, which usually travels to the national AIA convention and other architectural societies (this year’s winners will be featured in Sao Paulo, Brazil) plus a one-year free membership in the AIA and visibility as a firm on the rise in this highly competitive city. This year’s jury included Toshiko Mori as lead juror, Joe MacDonald (a New Practices winner in 2008), Guy Nordenson, Galia Solomonoff, and yours truly. After reviewing nearly 70 portfolios Read More
An important part of Richard Meier’s design process is his use of scale models—usually beautifully crafted of wood—to consider a physical form in its broader context. In-house model makers are often asked to fabricate multiple iterations of projects, and the firm is famous for its elegant presentation models, such as the one for his extraordinary gridded skyscraper (designed with Steven Holl, Charles Gwathmey, and Peter Eisenman) for the World Trade Center competition. Fortunately, Meier has not only kept many of his models, some going back 40 years like the Smith House in Connecticut, but also a spectacular series of working models for the Getty Center (above). These are kept in Meier’s model museum—a loft space in Long Island City that is opened to the public starting tomorrow, May 7, through August 27 (the museum is closed to the public during the winter months, due to the climate’s impact on the models). Tours can be arranged through Richard Meier & Partners Architects at 212-967-6060.
Dennis Crompton and Michael Webb plugged into the London launch of the Archigram website on Monday from New York City via a Skype connection to Westminster University. The two Archigrammers were meant to be present at the launch, but the Eyjafjallajökull volcano grounded their planes and kept them from joining Peter Cook and David Greene, who was scheduled to be at the event. So Crompton walked the assembled Londoners through the website from his Skype-enabled computer screen in Lower Manhattan. Read More