John Johansen, a creative force in New York City architecture for nearly 50 years years, died at his home in Wellflett, Mass on October 26. A member of Walter Gropius’ first class at Harvard starting in 1935 Johansen was a confirmed modernist but committed to a highly personal, idioysynctatic, and artistic version of the style.
He was also a member of the New Canaan Five (Marcel Breuer, Philip Johnson, Landis Gores, and Elliot Noyes) and a celebrated designer during this period, but in recent years many of his best known designs like the Mechanics Theater in Baltimore and the Mummers Theater in Oaklahoma City have come under attack and are threatened with demolition.
This Syracuse mural project, S.Alt City, was sent to AN over the summer just as we were preparing our live coverage of the Venice Biennale and went unreported in the paper. But the mural by Cheng and Snyder Architects is a smart project that deserves more attention than it has received. The mural depicts a local waterside salt barge that alludes back to Syracuse’s industrial heritage but it also imbedded QR codes throughout the work. These QR codes are becoming more ubiquitous in the world of art making and were in fact used in the Russian pavilion at the recent Venice Biennale in a grandiose and very expensive installation in their pavilion.
This year is Open House New York‘s 10th anniversary year for tours of spaces that are private or off limits to the public. Every year some of the most popular tours are those of New York architects offices. This year is no exception and OHNY has opened up some very special work spaces: Linda Pollack and Sandro Marpillero’s spectacular live/work loft in Tribeca, Caples Jefferson architects, ARO’s downtown space and Paul Rudolph’s Modulightor office in Midtown. Visit the OHNY website for more information.
Space-starved New Yorkers—especially architects and designers—love to see how Gotham residents with a space surplus (which usually equates money) live in their brownstones, townhouses, and elegant apartments. This weekend, October 6 and 7, Open House New York will celebrate its 10th OHNY weekend and open some of the most interesting private residences in the city for limited public tours.
For example, OHNY will open up beautiful Midtown residences by Jayne Michaels and Ali Tayer and an elegant Brooklyn Heights home by Lea Ciavarra. Even two hip homes in Williamsburg by Aizaki Allie and Christopher Coleman will be on display. These tours are always very popular, but it’s necessary to reserve your spot before you arrive on their stoops and lobbies.
This weekend, October 6 and 7, Open House New York (OHNY) is celebrating the tenth anniversary of its popular weekend of tours, lectures, and open houses of many of the New York City’s most important buildings and spaces. In its ten years OHNY has hosted over two million guests and remains New York’s most important architectural outreach to the public. It will launch the weekend with a party at the Times Square Museum and Visitors Center and the city’s architecture community should be there to support the organization and its mission to serve as a bridge between great design and the public. The Architect’s Newspaper will be there with David Rockwell and we look forward to seeing you!
The 77-year-old Montreal architect and artist Mel Charney died on September 17th in his home. Trained at McGill University and Yale as an architect, he was better known as a sculptor, architectural thinker, and academic. Charney represented Canada at the Venice Biennale twice—once for art in 1986 and once for architecture in 2000, created large-scale installations in Montreal including A Chicago Construction (1982) and Skyscraper, Waterfall, Brooks—A Construction at Place Émilie-Gamelin. Finally, he famously designed a block-long montage of photographs of buildings along Montreal’s Sherbrooke Street that had been destroyed to make way for development, which in turn was also destroyed by the city. The next print edition of AN will feature a full obituary and appreciation of Charney by David Grahame Shane.
“Venice Architecture Biennale ‘cannot get any worse’ says Wolf D. Prix,” read the headline on Dezeen’s August 30 wire post. In a press release titled “The Banal,” Prix declared that that architects participating in the biennale are “playing” while the profession is “sinking into powerlessness and irrelevance” at the hands of politicians, bureaucrats, and investors.
The broadside caused a stir in Venice during he opening and in the blogosphere but now it appears that Prix was never in Venice for the biennale in the first place and thus had not seen the exhibition he denounced. His office claims that Prix has been misunderstood and “the critique addressed the theme of the exhibition, not the show or its execution,” according to a spokesperson for the firm.
The Russian pavilion at the Venice Biennale has in recent years been a bit of a snore. The space has been filled most recently in 2010 with unconvincing drawings of older Russian cities and earlier (2008) with models of Ordos McMansions. But this year the pavilion’s interior was spectacularly reconfigured with walls of glass QR codes in its central space forming a digital dome, but the display’s heavy-handedness brought to mind earlier periods of Russian single mindedness and even totalitarianism.
It seems those in charge of this year’s Venice effort finally realized what kind of pavilion makes an impact in the giardini on harried biennale visitors and journalists and went for the full design monty. But the tensions in contemporary Russian society were also highlighted on Thursday during the Golden Lion awards presentation ceremony when a few hundred feet away a crew of cocktail-dressed and balaclava-wearing young Russian women “occupied” the exterior of the pavilion to make the case for the Pussy Riot band back in Russia recently jailed for hooliganism.
A rumor quickly spread that actual members of the band who had escaped Russie were present at the protest. Were these actually Pussy Rioters or sympathizers? No one was sure but it sure beat listening to the Biennale directors and bureaucrats drone on about Common Ground as the press rushed over from the dreadful press conference.
The Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi) was founded in the early 1990′s and has been one of the world’s leading centers for promoting architecture and urban planning and improving public space. It is partially responsible for the high quality of contemporary Dutch design and planning. The institute was lead by the American curator and museum director Aaron Betsky until 2007 when Ole Bouman replaced him as the director.
OHNYopenstudios in Red Hook
Saturday, July 28, 12:00-5:00 p.m.
Reception to follow at Botanico Cafe, 5:00-7:00 p.m.
Tickets $30 / $20 for students and seniors.
Purchase tickets here.
As part of the Open House New York openstudios series, artists’ studios in Red Hook, Brooklyn will throw open their doors this weekend. Just last week OHNY announced that Dustin Yellin has agreed to open his studio-which must be one of the most beautiful in the city (above). In addition, metalworkers, furniture designers, and glassblowers will be thrown into the mix, making the event a good fabrication tour as well.
The self guided event kicks off Saturday at noon followed by a wine reception with the artisans and tour goers around 5:00 p.m. at Botanico Cafe at 220 Conover Street. The cafe is adjacent to the organic chocolate and Liquor distillery Cacao Prieto also a beautiful Red Hook space. This promises to be one of the most interesting Saturday studio tours in the Open House series and we look forward to seeing you in Brooklyn.
Walter Pichler, the far sighted visionary architect, died last week at his home in Burgenland, Austria at the wage of 76. Though he does not seem to have an English Wikipedia page devoted to his work, Pichler was unquestionably one of the most influential artist/architects working in post-war Europe. Like Austrians Hans Hollien, Raimund Abraham, the groups Haus Rucker and Coop Himmelb(l)au, he created a powerful and evocative utopian world out of a hybrid of sculpture and drawing but always with an architectural idea at the core of the work.
In the cafe of the wonderfully elegant Palazzo Cà Giustinian on Venice‘s Grand Canal I had a chance to catch up with former AN associate editor Jaffer Kolb. Kolb has gone on to bigger and better projects and is currently the man on the ground in Venice for David Chipperfield as they prepare for the 13th Biennale of Architecture.