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
The World Architecture Festival is in its third year of existence, and, despite the worldwide recession, seems to have more attendees, trade show participants, and strong projects in its awards program. In what is surely a sign of the times, however, there seem to be many more strong projects in the “future” category than completed buildings. As it has been for the past three years, AN was the event’s American media sponsor, and this year I juried projects in the category of “Future Health and Education Buildings.” Read More
Dan Rockhill is best-known in New York as the design father of Studio 804 at the University of Kansas, where he teaches. The studio is among the most successful in the country at actually creating high-quality, sustainable, and LEED-certified buildings produced and built by students. Not only has the studio won many “green” awards for their design-build structures, but they are notable for their high design standards—unusual in sustainability studios. New Yorkers will get a glimpse of the studio’s pathbreaking work on Wednesday, November 10 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., when Rockhill delivers a lecture at the Dom showroom at 66 Crosby Street. Read More
The Lisbon Architecture Triennale may have aspirations to international importance, but is really more interesting for what it says about the city’s potential as a regional center rather than a world city like London or New York (more on that in my next post). While most of the Triennale’s three major exhibitions take place in large public event spaces, there is one “official” ancillary event in a small commercial art gallery that has something to contribute to the world architecture scene. Read More
Under the banner Let’s Talk About Houses, the second Lisbon Architecture Triennale opened last night in three different venues around the Portuguese capital. A beautifully renovated electric generating plant featured the results of two competitions: one for the low-income immigrant Portuguese community Cova da Moura, and a second for a house in Luanda, Angola. Meanwhile, a second exhibit on artists working in the realm of architecture is being staged at the contemporary Museo do Chiado (I’ll have more on these two shows in a subsequent post). The most ambitious of the three exhibitions, however, is on view at the Museu Coleção Berardo along the city’s architecturally fascinating waterfront in a district called Belem. Read More
There are so many architecture exhibitions today that call themselves “biennales” and “triennales” that the words have little meaning anymore. In most cases, rather than use the vernacular local word for an every two- or three-year exhibition (say, biannual) they use the Italian word, hoping I guess that the special magic of Venice will rub off on their event. Thus I am in Lisbon, Portugal today for the Architecture Triennale that the organizers are calling “Let’s Talk About Houses.” Read More