Foster + Partners likes to think of itself as a high-design firm with glamorous projects all over the world. But the banal rendering accompanying this week’s announcement of a new 19-story, “luxury” residential tower, 551 West 21 Street, belies their design skills. Could it be that they have a two-tier design strategy in their office where glamorous cultural institutions get “Sir Norman” and commercial towers get, well, something less?
The 32nd Street corridor at Drexel University in Philadelphia has become a hub for student gatherings, interaction, and events. Situated between Chestnut and Market Streets in the campus center, the corridor’s current design, however, does not serve the social and functional needs of its college population. In March, landscape architecture firm Andropogon released primary renderings and plans for a complete redesign of the space now known as Perelman Plaza. In August, more comprehensive images were revealed, and now the project is underway. Two weeks ago, Andropogon broke ground in Phase One on the site, razing the existing awkwardly angled hardscape to begin construction of a practical design for the coexistence of human traffic and nature.
Join the Institute for Public Architecture for its First Annual Fall Fête, honoring Kenneth Frampton, Ware Professor of Architecture, Columbia University, and Mathew M. Wambua, Commissioner, New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (Mar. 2011-Sept. 2013). On October 16 the organization will bring together a lively group of architects, developers, artists, public officials, designers, and writers for a cocktail party and auction, benefitting the IPA. The Fall Fête will be held at the spectacular Tribeca home of Francesca and Stephen Corelli (6 to 8 pm), with an after-party at the Shigeru Ban-designed Metal Shutter Houses (8:30 pm). The IPA is a new organization supporting socially engaged architecture. For Fall Fête tickets and information, please visit http://the-ipa.org/event/fall-fete-2013/.
For 2 weeks, two exhibitions in NY about Corbusier overlapped. In addition to the MoMA retrospective that closed on September 23, Amie Siegel’s Provenance at the Simon Preston Gallery on the LES (through October 6) examines a rather different slice: from the point of view of the furniture created for Chandigarh, the Indian planned city of the 1950s.
The film that forms the core of this installation travels in reverse, de- and re-contexualizing the objects. It starts with Chandigarh chairs, settees, and tables in their new homes in the West from apartments to lofts to townhouses and even yachts seen in slow tracking shots and lockoffs by cinematographer Christine A. Maier. These are perfectly crafted interiors that are pristine, light, airy, signaling the curated good life as seen in Architectural Digest. Peeking out are the inventory numbers, like a Holocaust tattoo or cattle branding. Does it give the furniture a limited-edition cache? The pieces are like adopted children who have been lucky enough to be given a new life, but they are out of their native culture and are isolated from their tribe. Even in their new surroundings with other treasures, one can always pick out the Corbusier piece, with the sharply angled forms—triangles are a distinct feature—and geometric planes, even in their new clothes of reupholstered checks, squares and luxury leather. Questions about preservation, neglect, restoration, reinterpretation, and fetishism arise.
In 1913, the 69th Regiment Armory in Manhattan hosted what was then considered the most shocking art exhibition the public had ever seen. The International Exhibition of Modern Art, which came to be called The Armory Show, introduced modern European art to an East Coast audience. A showcase of -ism art movements then in development and exploration by artists now considered masters of their craft, the event was transgressive; it induced backlash from several publications and from former President Theodore Roosevelt who commented that “the lunatic fringe was fully in evidence.”
Yet, even in his blatant dislike of the artworks displayed, President Roosevelt admitted the importance of the show’s existence, its revelation of the European “art forces that cannot be ignored.” This Saturday, September 28, in a centennial homage of the show that shocked the American world, the Architectural League of New York is hosting their annual Beaux Arts Ball in the same venue. Taking inspiration from a space originally meant for National Guard trainings and military activities, the ball will work with and within the great hall to transform its appearance, shockingly. (And tickets are on sale now!)
Dutch firm Mecanoo’s latest civic building represents a new era in library design. The new Library of Birmingham in the UK replaces the former James Hardin–designed central library, a brutalist concrete structure. The new library is a sleek expression of the evolving nature of education and learning in the 21st century. The modern, metal-clad structure houses a variety of services, including a multimedia center, two cafés, a music library, a performance space, green outdoor terraces, a shop and a gallery. The design vision is that the space will offer culture and entertainment, as well as learning and information.
Behind Closed Doors: Art in the Spanish American Home, 1492–1898
200 Eastern Parkway
September 20–January 12, 2014
Within a hundred years of the Spanish empire first expanding its borders into the Americas, an abundance of incredible wealth had been amassed in the New World. This September, Brooklyn Museum is opening its doors and inviting visitors into an elite Spanish Colonial home. They will be showcasing extravagant domestic collections, which give insight into the private lives and power struggles of Spain’s New World Elite. Behind Closed Doors, will include paintings, sculptures, luxury goods from everyday life, manuscripts, textiles, and decorative objects. The exhibition explores themes that include representations of the indigenous and Creole elite, rituals in the home, the sala de estrado (women’s sitting room), the bedchamber, and social identity through material culture. The Brooklyn Museum began acquiring domestic Spanish colonial art in 1941 and now the collection ranks among the finest in the nation. This is the first major exhibition in the United States to explore the private lives and interiors of Spain’s New World elite. Richard Aste, Curator of European Art, organized Behind Closed Doors, which is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue co-published by the Museum and the Monacelli Press.
Designed to survive the force of a hurricane, the new prefab bathrooms by Garrison Architects have apparently not been weathering this mild summer very well. DNAinfo reported that the stations are leaking and many surfaces are rusting in the salty air. “I look at it now and I say, ‘Is this going to last the winter?'” one anonymous lifeguard assigned to one of the comfort stations told DNAinfo. “There’s leaks right next to the equipment closet. They left it half-done and now there’s problems. The job was done like people didn’t care. It’s a monstrosity. It’s a debacle.” Parks hopes to treat the rust and leaks after the beach season ends. Until then, relieve yourself with caution.
In finalizing a key component of the Long Island Index’s 2014 effort to explore innovations for Long Island’s downtown area parking facilities, Build a Better Burb: ParkingPLUS Design Challenge has revealed the chosen architectural firms to take on the venture. The Rauch Foundation’s project goal is to investigate new parking design concepts that integrate local amenities and transform parking facilities into architectural attractions. The four firms—dub studios, LTL Architects, Roger Sherman Architecture + Urban Design, and Utile, Inc.—will individually tackle downtown needs in one of four Long Island communities: Patchogue, Rockville Centre, Ronkonkoma, and Westbury. Each community will collaborate with a selected architectural firm to pinpoint prospective sites.