AN‘s Julie Iovine held a freewheeling conversation last week with architect Rafael Viñoly under the subject heading “What Comes After Postmodern Architecture.” The architect had some choice words about the period before moving on to a variety of other topics, including corporate architecture, collaboration, and New York.
After giving a brief lesson in New York’s Dutch history, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe opened a one-acre urban farm to a couple hundred local school children in Battery Park on Monday. It’s the Battery’s first farm in the area since the Dutch tilled soil there in 1625. The idea for the farm brought together celebrity chefs, architects, and community activists to work alongside the kids. The design, by the newly formed STUDIOperFORM, incorporated bamboo salvaged from last year’s Metropolitan Museum rooftop exhibit, Big Bambú. Design partners Shane Neufeld, an architect, and Scott Dougan, a set designer, used an silhouette of Zelda, the park’s resident turkey, as the basis for their design. Neufeld said that Zelda was never meant to be fully recognizable, instead, the design serves as narrative to teach the children about nature. As a native of Brooklyn, Neufeld said that he doesn’t recall ever having a garden. “We had a parking lot,” he said.
(Updated 4-6-2011) As details emerge, be sure to track the comments on this post for the latest on Ai Weiwei. We have learned that the US State Department called for his release on Monday. According to VOA News, Mark Toner, State Department Acting Deputy Spokesman saud, “The detention of artist and activist Ai Weiwei is inconsistent with the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all Chinese citizens, including China’s commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and we urge the Chinese government to release him immediately.” Today, the Guardian reported that Ai Weiwei is under investigation for “suspected economic crimes” according to the Chinese state news agency Xinhua which has since deleted the statement.
AN also received the following note of support for Ai Weiwei from Richard Meier. Please feel free to voice your messages of support in the comments.
Ai Weiwei deserves all of our support in his efforts to communicate with the world community of architects about the conditions that currently exist in China. We all hope that his immediate release will happen quickly in response to comments from all of us that support him in his cause.
(Original Report 4-4-2011) News that Chinese artist, architect, and activist Ai Wei Wei has been detained and disappeared as of April 3, 2011 broke yesterday in the International media. As reported by Andrew Jacobs in the New York Times, and more recently today by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, his detention and police closure of his Beijing studio coincides with what is known as the “Jasmine Revolution,” a protest movement in the People’s Republic of China that was inspired by the 2011 Tunisian Revolution and has prompted the Communist Party’s six-week crackdown on human rights lawyers and activists, with many of those detained still not released, and others, such as pro-democracy writer Liu Xianbin, sentenced to 10 years in jail for subversion.
Architectural exhibition openings are hardly known for their cool vibe, but that’s apparently because they’re not usually put on by LA-based Barbara Bestor Architecture. On April 1 SCI-Arc opened Bestor’s Disco Silencio to a crowd very eager to party. The installation at the SCI-Arc gallery is a demi-dodecahedron formed in plywood meant to be a silent retreat for frazzled SCI-Arc architecture students (at least when the DJ isn’t spinning and disco lights are whirling).
Today the Serpentine Gallery released the first renderings of Swiss architect Peter Zumthor‘s plans for its annual 2011 pavilion. Zumthor has recruited Piet Oudolf, the Dutch landscape designer who helped transform the High Line in New York, to work with him on the concept of a “hortus conclusus” (in case you skipped Latin class, that’s a secret garden within a garden).
The night was called “Different by Design,” though it could have been subtitled “Designing Differences.” Developer Abby Hamlin moderated an amusing exchange between developers and architect/developers at Columbia University’s GSAPP Real Estate Development program on Tuesday. The original intent was to present the merits of good design to real estate development and architecture students, but a developer vs. architect rivalry emerged pretty early on. New York developer Jane Gladstein joined the Chicago based developers Karen and Robert Ranquist, while New York-based Jared Della Valle, San Diego-based Jonathan Segal, and Tim McDonald of Philadelphia represented the contingent of architects who act as their own developers.
Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura has won the 2011 Pritzker Prize, according to several reports. The Porto-based architect worked for the country’s other Pritzker winner, Alvaro Siza, but has had a prolific career on his own since opening his office in 1980. Not widely known outside Portugal, Souto de Moura designed the new stadium in Braga in 2004, which, like much of his work, has strong, highly legible forms. There he blasted granite from the site that was later crushed to make concrete for the building.
Last fall we reported on (fer) Studio’s proposed designs for Inglewood’s once-bustling but now down-on-its-luck Market Street; a strategy to anchor the street, enliven its storefronts, and integrate it with the coming Expo Light Rail line. Those preliminary designs have come a long way. Their latest iteration again focuses on Market Street’s re-zoning, but fleshes out a wider system of urban agriculture; wind, photovoltaic, bio fuel, and geothermal energy; a green belt, and a self-contained water reservoir. Not to mention some gigantic planted towers, canopies, and walls—”vertical public spaces giving Inglewood an identity,” says (fer)’s Chris Mercier, over transit and mixed-use. Despite losing their staunchest ally, Mayor Daniel Tabor (who recently resigned) they’ve submitted the plans to Cascadia’s Living City Competition, and are still trying to push them to what is a fairly conservative city council. To get a closer look at these and other visionary plans from (fer), join our friends at deLAB as they visit their studios in Inglewood tomorrow. More pix of (fer)’s schemes below. Read More
Related and its confrere Oxford Properties today launched a new website for Hudson Yards, with some surprises. Followers of the down & dirty rail yard turned 12 million square foot urban Elysium may be forgiven if they have forgotten some of the details of the winning scheme—we sure did. And besides that was yesterday and a master plan. Still, of all the names dropped and found, bandied about and sprinkled on for good measure, we sure do not remember Werner Sobek as a major player.
BIG won’t let its ambitions be impeded by the laws of physics–namely, gravity. For a competition to plan and design the area around the Hjulsta Intersection, a massive highway infrastructure project just north of Stockholm, BIG teamed up with firms Grontji and Spacescape to create “Energy Valley,” and their winning master plan addresses not only the area around the highway interchange but also above it. The plan’s surreal defining feature is “a reflective, self‐sustaining hovering sphere mirroring Stockholm as it is, new and old, creating a 180 degree view of the area for the drivers on their way in or out of the city.”
Covered with photovoltaic film and tethered to the ground, this mysterious giant orb would supposedly generate enough solar and wind power to keep itself aloft while also providing power for over 200 surrounding houses. Read More
Columbia University looks as though it’s in the final stretch of the public review process for the proposed Boathouse Marsh designed by James Corner Field Operations and the Steven Holl-designed Campbell Sports Center. On Friday night and Sunday afternoon, Columbia University Executive VP Joseph Ienuso made presentations to neighborhood residents. A few media outlets dubbed the gatherings “dueling meetings,” due to some political infighting between council members Robert Jackson and Ydanis Rodriguez, which erupted during a subcommittee meeting before the city council last week. The background political drama only heightened already-tense negotiations between the neighbors and the university.
“Drafted: the evolving role of architects in furniture design.” It was a MAD idea: To talk about why American manufacturers don’t do the job they once did in supporting American architects and designers at making furniture. Held March 10 at the Museum of Arts & Design’s own restored and midcentury soigné auditorium, the assembled panel really knew what they were talking about:
Michael Graves recalled his early days working for George Nelson in riveting detail and why Target has dropped independent designers; Jeffrey Bernett, one of the few American designers routinely designing for B&B, summed up Italy versus Herman Miller; Gisue Hariri of Hariri & Hariri eloquently addressed why architects feel compelled to make furniture, and what happened when her architecture firm tried to go there on a larger scale; and Granger Moorhead of Moorhead & Moorhead gave great reason for everyone to hope there is another golden age, especially for New York furniture designers, just ahead.