On May 4 at the Urban Center, Peter Eisenman and Michael Graves had a conversation, moderated by David Childs, about their favorite books to inaugurate the exhibition, Unpacking My Library. In the light of the current crisis that the print media is experiencing, listening to these legendarily erudite bibliophiles was a rare privilege. But the evening was not without controversy. Read More
In a feature for Esquire, number cruncher and future predictor Nate Silver ponders the continuing decline in per capital vehicle miles traveled. Americans are driving less. Significantly less, in spite of major drops in gas prices since last year. Certainly the economy has something to do with this. Fewer people are driving to work since few people have jobs. But Silver doesn’t think the economy explains the decline. Read More
Friend of AN Jeremiah Joseph visited an exhibition of interest in New York’s gallery district.
Et in Arcadia Ego, a new exhibition at the Thornton Room in Chelsea, examines the intersection and overlap of natural and man-made landscapes. With the title, roughly translated from Latin, “I am in pastoral utopia,” the show, curated by Blanca de la Torre and Juanli Carrion, could easily devolve into a Nature equals Good, City equals Bad equation. Instead, the way the six artists explore the topic is not so divisive or stale. The work tends to engage the subject from the side, generating surreal results. At the end any answers are farther off than before viewing the work, and this ambiguity is show’s strength. It prevents the viewer from standing too sure-footed and jumping ahead to conclusions and prejudices. Read More
The mood was decidedly anti-Wall Street among the crowd who gathered on April 28 for the final lecture in Access Restricted, a series sponsored by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council exploring the relationship between finance and city design. We were packed into one of the Street’s oldest strongholds: 48 Wall St., the site where Alexander Hamilton established the country’s first bank in 1789, though the current building dates from 1928. As the sun set, we were told we would be taken up to the cupola for a rare view of “twilight on Wall Street,” prompting one audience member to call out, “Is that metaphorical?” to widespread titters.
The New York Times last week reported on “Smart Infrastructure,” or computer-controlled systems (energy grids, highways, trains, food distribution, health records, water systems, etc) that could increase efficiency and save millions of dollars. I.B.M, for instance, has had success monitoring congestion pricing in places like Stockholm and London, it’s improving management for bus and train systems worldwide, and it’s working with food producers to limit the billions worth of food that are thrown away every year. So the U.S. is creating much of the innovative technology, but other countries have been first to implement it. Well one for two isn’t bad.. The good news: On April 30 IBM announced $2 billion in financing to make such systems more easily available for stimulus-related projects in the U.S.
One of the highlights of visiting the AIA Convention has been leaving the convention hall to see some of the wonderful new architecture in San Francisco. We got to see favorites like Daniel Libeskind’s new Jewish Museum, Herzog & De Meuron’s De Young, and Renzo Piano’s Academy of Sciences. But perhaps more unique were the AIA SF Home tours, where we could step inside homes otherwised closed to the public. Two highlights were in the lovely South Park Neighborhood: the Gallery House, by Ogrydziak/Prillinger Architects and the South Park Residence + Studio by Sand Studios. Both are studies in contrast. The first, which boasts a world class art collection and a visually interconnected series of vertical spaces, contrasts huge exposed steel beams with pristine white art-ready walls. The second combines the exposed concrete and wood of an old warehouse space with sophisticated, and layered modern finishes.
If you couldn’t make it out San Francisco for the AIA Convention this weekend (if you did, be sure to say hi to Sam and the rest of the gang), don’t fret. The Institute has been kind enough to set up streaming video of many of the lectures and events, and you can even earn credits for it. Sure, you’ll miss all the fun after-parties, like our own, but it also beats flying coach.
Another strange day at the AIA Convention in San Francisco. And perhaps the weirdest place of all is the Expo floor, where you can examine products ranging from stainless steel bathroom stalls to impact resistant drywall to powder coatings for steel systems (actually not a bad idea). But perhaps the strangest, and perhaps most intriguing product award goes to a company called Sky Factory, which manufactures “virtual windows” and “sky ceilings” which create the illusion that you have a beautiful waterfall or an ocean view outside your building. Read More