The World Architecture Festival is wrapping up its fourth iteration and AN has been there since the beginning as official United States media sponsor. We have seen it grow from a small mostly British bash in Barcelona to a truly international competition and trade show with over 1,400 participants from 68 countries. One of the functions of our participation is that I serve as official judge in one of the event’s 15 short-listed categories for best built project (plus there are ten categories for unrealized projects). This year I served with Michigan University’s architecture dean Monica Ponce de Leon and Barcelona architect Fermin Vazquez as jurors in the Civic and Community group. We were asked to select the best of show in the category with the winner going on to the final round where it is considered by a super jury including Michael Sorkin, Jo Noera, Odile Decq (who sadly was stuck in China) and engineer wizard Tim Macfarlane.
We can confirm—although not entirely officially—that New York’s Institute for Urban Design will represent the United States at the 2012 Venice architecture biennale.
The Chair of Institutes Board of Directors Michael Sorkin has told AN that the theme of their exhibition will be loosely based on the Institute’s new open-source program, By the City/For The City: An Atlas of Possibility for the Future New York, that played out recently across New York to enthusiastic crowds. The details of the exhibition are still to be developed by Sorkin, co-board member Cathy Lang Ho and the institute’s director (and former AN Managing Editor) Anne Guiney.
The U.S. Department of State, in a first for the government agency, selected the winning exhibition a full year before the opening of the international exhibition giving the IfUD team time to raise the $300,000 (the State Department has given them $100,000) needed to open in Venice next year.
It is not yet clear who will be the official commissioner aka “meeter, greeter, & spokesperson” of the pavilion, but they are currently looking to create “crowd sourced” events all over la Serenissima and not just inside the official giardini or McKim Mead & White American temple. We send our hearty congratulations and will start hoarding our airline miles!
The Venice architecture biennale is still over a year away but the longer running art biennale will open next week. If you are of the architecture bent there is always a great deal to see and visit at the art biennale. Here is a sampling including images from Real Venice: International Artists help to Save Venice in the abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore to remind you just how special is la Serrininisma. But perhaps the most exciting exhibit at this years biennale is Venice in Venice organized and curated by the irrepressible Jacqueline Miro and Tim Nye (with help from Tibby Rothman) about our Venice! If you are not making it to the Venice Biennale, here are some images to savor!
While many of you –our loyal readers–were partying it up in New Orleans at our AIA New York State party, we were being honored in New York! The Historic Districts Council presented the paper with its Friend in the Media Award at their 12th annual Grassroots Awards in the spectacular in the garden of the Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims in Brooklyn Heights. I was honored to accept the award for our very hardworking staff on Murray Street.
Meanwhile, Ibex, AIANY, YKK, and the Ceramic Tiles of Italy hosted their shindig in New Orleans…
The 17th-century Sospiri Bridge (Bridge of Signs) in Venice connects an ancient prison with interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace. The bridge crosses the Rio de Palazzo that itself slices through the palace and makes a spectacular vista as one crosses the canal bridge on the Grand Canal. This vista has been rudely emblazed for at least the past five years by a giant advertising sign the wraps the palace walls and over and under the beautiful Sospiri bridge.
With architectural discourse today so focused on the impact of digital design, it is hard to remember that 20 years ago all architects talked about was postmodernism. The discussion began with the publication of Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture and Aldo Rossi’s The Architecture of the City but became more focused and intense with the opening of an exhibition devoted to the theme.
The dialogue between architects and artists in New York is one of the great-if often over looked- strengths of practice in this city. In fact, many architects visit New York not to see the latest building, but the exhibits in its galleries and museums. It has been the case, at least since MOMA’s epic modernism exhibit of 1932 and later Frederic Kielser’s Endless House series of exhibitions that the conversation between architects and artists in this city is endlessly complex and without equal in any other city.
If you’re an architect interested urban planning issues or a city planner interested contemporary architecture relationship to the city this is a lecture series for you! Created and organized by the Pratt Institute’s Program for Sustainable Planning and Development features planners and architects engaged in rethinking contemporary Preservation, sustainability, and urban design.
Invited lectures include; Jirge Rigau a Puerto Rican preservationist, Andrew Genn project director of New York’s comprehensive waterfront plan and a young Mississippi architect Whitney Grant who founded the Jackson Community Development Center.
They will all be addressing the fundamental questions facing today’s cites and attendees will be encouraged to ask questions of the lecturers. It takes place in room 213 of Pratt’s Manhattan campus at 144 West 14th Street and it starts with drinks at 5:30. The lectures are free and open to the public.
A recent trip to Barcelona for the World Architecture Festival (WAF) made clear to me just how well the nations of the European Union do at updating their historic centers. American tourists, of course, go to places like Spain to see medieval or Renaissance urbanism not contemporary cities. And that’s a shame because we could learn a great deal about how to build today and add intelligently to our own 19th and 20th century cities.
This is the last Venice Architecture Biennale post for 2010–I promise! The organization that oversees all the Venetian biennales (art, film, music etc.), la Biennale di Venezia, sent us a press release with the numbers from the just concluded architecture exhibition. It claims that 170,000 people visited the event, a 31% increase over the last architecture exhibit in 2008 (which had 129,323 attendees). It should be pointed out however that the older and more established art biennale had 375,702 attendees in 2009. The exhibition included the participation of 53 Countries and 20 Collateral events sponsored by international institutions and organizations and located in various venues in and around Venice. Read More
Peter Cook–the real one from England, not the Hampton socialite architect impersonator–was in town last week and showed us some of the work from his firm Crab. Sir Peter was here to appear on a panel at Pratt Institute for the new book by Yael Reisner with Fleur Watson, Architecture and Beauty: Conversations with Architects About a Troubled Relationship. Cook and fellow beauticians including Will Alsop, Gaetano Pesce, Lebbeus Woods, KOL/MAC, and Hernan Diaz Alonso all took the subject head-on, and proved they think about aesthetics and form up front in the design process, though they seldom will admit to it. They did nothing to dispel Reisner’s thesis that even though, since the advent of modernism, only principles of rationalism are allowed to be used in explaining the building arts, architecture is still primarily a formal practice in the spirit of Einstein, who said that for him “visual imagery occurred first and words followed.” Read More