Lauretta Vinciarelli was a quiet but powerful presence on the New York architecture scene since the 1980s when she began producing “imaginary architectural settings” of buildings and landscapes. I considered it a great honor to be invited to her Soho loft to look and talk about her latest work 10 years before her death in 2011. It’s too easy as an architectural journalist covering the daily rough and tumble of urban architecture to get jaundiced about the profession, but Vinciarelli’s extraordinarily beautiful and quiet drawings and paintings remind me why we still believe in the power and hope of great architecture.
Who builds your architecture? “Not architects,” said Reinhold Martin. “By definition, architects do not build; they make drawings, write contracts, and do all these other things.” At New School’s Vera List Center on May 3, a roundtable facilitated debate and speculation on the rights of the lesser-discussed “workers” that make architecture happen.
If all the world is a stage, according to Shakespeare, all the city is a kunsthalle in the eyes of the New York City Department of Transportation. Bogardus Plaza, a tiny pedestrian plaza carved out of a little-used block of Hudson Street in Lower Manhattan and named for architect James Bogardus, the inventor of the cast-iron building, just received a well-deserved facelift and has now been chosen to host a prototype art display case designed by Architecture Research Office (ARO).
The word “folly” is derived from the French folie, or “foolishness.” Also known as an “eyecatcher,” a folly was traditionally an extravagant, non-functional building, which was meant to enhance the landscape. Rooted in Romantic ideals of the picturesque, a folly often acted as an ornate small-scale intervention which transformed and visually dramatized the landscape around it. The winners of this year’s Folly Competition sponsored by The Architectural League of New York and Socrates Sculpture Park, competition winners Jerome Haferd and K. Brandt Knapp proposed a new interpretation of the folly, “Curtain.” Read More
Lara Favaretto: Just Knocked Out
22-25 Jackson Avenue
Long Island City, NY
Through September 10
Lara Favaretto’s installations and sculptures at once perform and memorialize their decay. Often incorporating elements from previous installations in new works and using discarded industrial material, Favaretto makes futile and impermanent gestures, ephemeral monuments to aspiration and failure. The works describe loss: found paintings encased in yarn, obscuring and preserving the original; cubes made of confetti, decomposing throughout the span of an exhibition; car-wash brushes, whirling and wearing down against metal plates (above). These mechanisms celebrate futile motions, becoming memorials imbued with the reality of their own obsolescence.
Bringin’ it back to the old school, to the days of 3D online meet-up spots and avatars, when chat rooms were actual digitally-modelled rooms, “Breaking Out and Breaking In” was a “distributed film fest,” where users watched movies at home and came together in the comments section of BLDGBLOG to discuss the films. It was a blurring of the real and the digital. In partnership with Filmmaker magazine, the series focused on films which were either about bank heists (breaking in) or prison escapes (breaking out), positing them as “the use and misuse of space.” Films were watched during a period of four months, and the festival culminated with a panel discussion at Columbia’s GSAPP featuring two FBI agents alongside designers and critics.
For most architecture students, a model malfunction won’t land you in the middle of a river, but one group of Buffalonian risk takers at the University of Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, under the direction of Associate Professor Jean La Marche were up for the challenge. Students Troy Barnes, Stephen Olson, Scott Selin, and Adrian Solecki designed and installed half of a bridge—made of cardboard—cantilevered over the Buffalo River, and invited people to step out over the water. The frightening experiment worked, challenging conventional notions of material constraints.