There are probably many buildings in New York we would in our fantasies like to see blown up, but that rarely happens in this dense and intricate city. But this Sunday morning June 9 at precisely 7:36 building 877, a twelve-story former-residential structure on Governors Island will be “imploded” and turned into fill for the new adjacent landscaped park being designed by West 8 the Dutch landscape firm. Building 877 is one of the least distinguished buildings on the overbuilt island and will be much more valuable used as fill for a new public park than as a building. In this picture of the building taken just a few months ago before its facade had been taken off the grey blob oozing around the back of the structure is the base of West 8’s new landscape for the island which will open next fall. If you can’t make it to the island, you can watch a livestream of the implosion here.
The World Trade Center Transportation Hub by Santiago Calatrava is the architect tells us “the image of a bird in flight.” Yesterday we took a look at the interior retail corridor that will connect with the soaring transit hub oculus, but the structure has now just appeared above the scaffolding surrounding the entire Trade Center site and its looks nothing like a soaring bird but the bare bones of a beached carcass. It can only get better!
Sean Kelly Gallery
Through June 22
There is a renewed interest in the west of Soviet modern architecture from the Cold War and its strong and determined sculptural form. Much of the work was barely known in the west—at least in this country—and has come as a revelation to scholars and critics. A recent exhibition Soviet Modernism 1955-1991 at the Architekturzentrum in Vienna and a fascinating exhibit Cold War Cool Digital at Pratt Institute featured Soviet designed pre-fabricated and globally distributed Cold War Era housing systems. Both of these exhibits featured the ambitious and determined socialist realism that one would expect from work of this period, but now an exhibition, Irreversible, at the Sean Kelly Gallery by the Havana- and Madrid-based group Los Carpinteros features work that expresses what it felt like to be the receiver of these Soviet-inspired architectural and sculptural forms and their realist messages.
The 1973 World Trade Center twin towers by Minora Yamasaki were not great buildings but in various light conditions or in the dark of the night they would take on a mute sculptural quality that New Yorkers now remember with fondness or nostalgic reverence. Now something quiet similar may be happening with the replacement to the tower—One World Trade Center. In certain light and atmospheric conditions the top floors of the building seem to glow like a bright incandescent light build.
Tuesday evening’s John Soane’s Museum gala was a great evening for the assembled supporters of the London museum on Lincoln’s Inn Fields. It started when Soane Board President Thomas Klingerman asked the audience “How many of you read The Architect’s Newspaper?” You probably saw the Eavesdrop column on Jay Z and Beyonce visiting Cuba on a Soane architecture tour (their itinerary included landmarks by architect Miguel Coylua, among others). Things are really changing at Soane! After the irrepressible Suzanne Stephens opened the program awards, inscribed Soane Foundation medallions were given to Carole Fabian, director of Avery Architecture & Arts Library at Columbia, and Barry Bergdoll for their joint acquisition of the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives.
The Berlage Institute in Holland, recently reformed as part of Delft University has named Nanne de Ru to be its new Director. De Ru follows an illustrious series of Directors that include Herman Hertzberger, Wiel Arets, Alejandro Zaera-Polo, and Vedran Mimica. The new director is an architect and partner of Powerhouse Company in Rotterdam and holds a Masters Degree in architecture form the Institute in 2002. There is no word yet on the role and direction of the newly restructured Institute.
The exhibit, The Vienna Model: Housing for the 21st Century City, currently on view at the Austrian Cultural Forum, is meant to provoke a discussion with housing advocates in this country. The Forum will host weekly tours of the exhibit by a variety of housing experts from various academic and professional fields. This Wednesday, the tour will be led by Srdjan Weiss, a Serbian-born architect and theorist based in New York City, with broad knowledge of the subject of housing in this country and Eastern Europe. The tour will be based on Weiss’ parallel living experience and expertise in housing design from former socialist countries of Eastern Europe and Yugoslavia.
The architect of the Bowery Mission John Young of Cryptome was invited by its director Matt Krivich in March to display an art work for the institution as part of The New Museum‘s just concluded IDEAS CITY street festival. Cryptome was restoring the mission’s underground vaults at the time and in August of 2012 put up a wall drawing by Deborah Natsios, a principal of the firm, on the street front scaffolding called Sidewalk Vaults. This original rendering was an illusion to the long history of the vaults as an important structural element of the Bowery, the city’s oldest thoroughfare. Natsios agreed to create a work and produced a series of eight panels in the style of Sidewalk Vaults that she called Partywall. This work was meant to question the relationship between the Mission and its neighbor the New Museum and the rapidly changing character of the Bowery.
The Vera List Center for Art and Politics at the New School has—under its director Carin Kuoni—been an instigator in drawings links between artistic and design practices and the real world of politics. The Center sponsors symposia, lectures, and exhibitions that draw links that are often crucial and obvious but not discussed by professionals and academics in the design professions. Once again it is highlighting such an issue with a series of discussions, Who Builds Your Architecture?, that connects construction and labor.
The English architectural editor, author, and founder of the London Festival of Architecture, Peter Murray, is also a devoted urban bicycle activist. Murray always arrives at events in London with a bicycle helmut under his arm because it’s the only way he moves around the city. He believe’s that “cyclised cities are civilised cities” and has organized group rides around Britain and Europe to publicize the need for cities to become more bicycle friendly. To demonstrate that commitment and to promote cycling, Murray and a group of peers are taking a 4,347 mile ride.
The Art Newspaper is out with its latest listing of top exhibitions and museum attendance for 2012 and in the category “Architecture and Design” there are some surprises. MoMA, the first museum in the world to have an architecture department, has led this category for many years and in 2011 as usual had the top three architecture and design exhibitions in the survey. But for 2012 St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum’s first show dedicated to a living architect, Santiago Calatrava: The Quest For Movement, broke MoMA’s monopoly of the category and became the most popular exhibit in the world.
The Century Club in New York recently hosted a memorial celebration of the life of the late architect John M. Johansen organized by his daughter, Deborah Johansen Harris, and son, architect Christen Johansen. Christen, who collaborated with his father on later renovations and additions to various projects, read a touching tribute to Johansen that recalled his series of fast British sports cars and his ability to do “a handstand from a seated position in a lawn chair, or holding himself horizontally from a lamppost when the opportunity arose.” He remembered that John delighted guests to the New Canaan house “by setting his martini down on the window sill and, mid-conversation, vaulting out the window to the lawn below, reappearing moments later through the front door.”