Architecture in Uniform: Designing and Building for the Second World War
Canadian Centre for Architecture
1920, rue Baile
Montréal, Québec, Canada
Through September 18
How did World War II impact the built environment? This new exhibit curated by Jean-Louis Cohen explores how 20th century architects contributed to the war efforts and how their work ultimately led to the modern structural and technological innovations that make some of today’s complex designs possible. WWII was an accelerator of technological innovation, and from 1937 to 1945 architects were frequently pressed to pursue the most modern solutions, which often meant the most cutting edge. Designed by New York-based WORKac, the exhibit is comprised of drawings, photographs, posters, books, publications, models, historical documents, and films that reveal how contemporary architecture left its mark on the landscapes of both the Axis and the Allied powers. Organized thematically, the exhibition focuses on wartime activity as well as architects and their projects in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, the United States, and the USSR. Architecture in Uniform is part of a larger project at the CCA that examines the various roles of architecture from the Second World War to today called On the Natural History of Destruction.
History happens in pubic space. The election of Barack Obama brought crowds to 125th Street. Crowds formed at the World Trade Center on news of Osama Bin Laden’s death. Last Friday night it happened on Sheridan Square. In front of the Stonewall Inn, the crowd stood transfixed, staring into their iPhones, Blackberrries and other assorted digital devices. Several shouted out the numbers of state senators supporting gay marriage as it got closer and closer to the magic number: 32. When I got there, there were shouts of 30 or 31. It was hard to tell really, it wasn’t a coordinated countdown, like the Time Square ball dropping. Some were still at 29 while others were at 31. It depended on whether you were on HuffPo or NYTimes. The whoops of the crowd came in waves, making it feel like the number 32 was reached several times.
Glimpses of New York and Amsterdam in 2040 at the Center for Architecture (through September 10) is a clarion call for designers to redefine sustainability in architecture. Though it didn’t start with this intention, the visions of 10 young architecture firms imagining future landscapes of New York and Amsterdam raise questions about what changes are imminent for urban development and what part architects can play. The projects suggest both practical and fantastical interventions to improve the prospect of urban growth in the face of ecological, geographic, and demographic shifts.
Knoll Textiles, 1945–2010
Bard Graduate Center Gallery
18 West 86th Street
Through July 31
A new show at the Bard Graduate Center (BGC) takes a comprehensive look at the history and influence of Knoll Textiles, both as a brand and a company. It also aims to bring to light the importance of textiles in relation to modern design. Curated by a multidisciplinary team (Earl Martin, associate curator at the BGC; Paul Makovsky, editorial director of Metropolis magazine; Angela Völker, Curator Emeritus of Textiles at Vienna’s MAK; and Susan Ward, an independent textile historian) the exhibit features 175 examples of textiles, furniture, and photographs that explore the innovations, from production of materials to marketing, during the 1940s through the 1960s.
Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads
Pulitzer Fountain, Grand Army Plaza
60th Street & 5th Avenue
Through July 15
Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza has been overrun with a menagerie of sorts: the installation of Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads. This is the first major public exhibition in America for the Chinese artist. This site specific installation is a modern reinterpretation of the 18th century Yuanming Yuan fountain-clock that featured 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac spouting water. With this project, Ai explores the “fake” in relation to the original sculptures (which were ultimately pillaged by French and British troops in 1860; five of the original heads are still missing). In this version, 12 oversized bronze animal heads ring the Pulitzer Fountain, each weighing approximately 800 pounds. While this project explores some rather esoteric themes, it is accessible and “a work that everyone can understand, including children and people who are not in the art world,” said Ai, who collaborated with Herzog & de Meuron on the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics.
Domino: Old and New
Tuesday, June 20
Museum of Jewish Heritage (reception following at Skyscraper Museum)
36 Battery Place
Tonight at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the Skyscraper Museum hosts “Domino: Old and New,” a program on reinventing Williamsburg’s historic industrial waterfront that focuses on the development of the Domino Sugar Factory site.
Principals from the project’s design, engineering, and construction teams will present on development possibilities for the 11.2 acre site (slated to include over 2000 residential units and four acres of public space) and participate in a panel discussion led by AN‘s own executive editor Julie V. Iovine. Further details at the Skyscraper Museum.
Last week the New York chapter of the AIGA held its second annual “Fresh Blood” event, featuring top graduating students from design programs across the region. Ten students were given five minutes each to dazzle the crowd at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn with presentations related to their thesis research. Scott Stowell, the evening’s MC, kept things lively, peppering the students with questions about their work and cracking jokes that stoked school rivalries.
All the presentations were excellent, but here are a few that we just can’t stop talking about:
We tried the new East River Ferry service this week and found some of the best views of the biggest projects in town. Though many of the renderings in circulation for developments like Domino Sugar Factory and Hunters Point show views from the river-front perspective, it’s rare that you actually get to see the sites from that angle–until now. We decided to give the ferry service a test-run to check out the viability of getting from an office in downtown Manhattan, such as ours on Murray Street, to Brooklyn and Queens, then completed the loop by heading back the 34th Street terminal.
On our way to the grand opening of the extended High Line last week, we couldn’t help but notice the lights were on at the Dream Downtown, hotelier Vikram Chatwal’s newest luxury outpost. While the soft-opening was reserved for Chatwal friends and family, the official opening later this month is sure to draw out the denizens of New York nightlife.
Inside the lobby, a glass-bottomed pool diffuses light from the building’s interior courtyard, accessed through a lushly-planted sliver at the back of the lobby. In the courtyard, a teak-heavy lounge opens up onto the pool deck complete with its own white sand beach, where Vikram himself was lounging on a plush chaise. On the roof, a still-under-wraps venue–with what the Dream is touting as one of Manhattan’s finest views–is sure to be popular. Among the amenities that will open later this year is Romera New York, which is expected to offer a 12-course prix fixe for $245. The hotel will feature 316 rooms, but some are still being finished up.
Originally designed by Albert Ledner in 1966–the same architect as the neighboring Maritime Hotel and the nearby O’Toole Building–and last used as a homeless shelter, Handel Architects has reclad the round-windowed building in stainless steel, earning the structure the nickname of “The Cheesegrater.”