Despite Preservation Push, Rice University’s Martel Center Demolished After All

News, Preservation, Southwest
Monday, April 21, 2014
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(COURTESY GLASSCOCK SCHOOL OF CONTINUING STUDIES)

Never mind! After all that fuss to preserve the iconic Texas tin structure, Rice University’s Art Barn met the Grim Reaper on Wednesday, April 16. While a group was able to salvage the building’s corrugated metal siding, wrecking crews tore away at the Martel Center’s structure, marking a definitive end to efforts of preservationists to move the building to another site in Houston. Andy Warhol’s famous oak tree planted in front of the former structure will remain intact, but once the dust clears only a grass lawn will serve as tombstone. A rogue power line temporarily stalled the demolition, thereby buying a commemorative moment for the Art Barn’s historical and cultural import. The building’s spirit will live on through the Menil Collection it once housed, as well as its legacy with other tin houses.

REX’s Joshua Prince-Ramus Unwraps His Approach to Facade Design

REX's Media Headquarters Buildings feature retractable sunshades based on a traditional Arab Mashrabiya pattern. (Courtesy REX)

REX’s Media Headquarters Buildings feature retractable sunshades based on a traditional Arab Mashrabiya pattern. (Courtesy REX)

Joshua Prince-Ramus, principal at REX, has a bone to pick with modernism and its legacy. “For the last 100 years, architecture’s been involved in a silly tension between form and function,” he said. While high modernism privileged function over form, some of today’s top designers argue that architecture is about aesthetics and not much else. REX has a different take: architecture, the firm claims, is both function and form. “We really believe that architecture can do things. It’s not just a representational art form,” said Prince-Ramus. “We talk about performance. Aesthetics are part of performance [as is function.]”

Continue reading after the jump.

Art Barn on the Move: Rice University’s Martel Center To Be Relocated to Houston’s Fourth Ward

Southwest
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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The Art Barn (Courtesy Rice)

Leaving campus the way it came in—amid a swirl of shifting plans and controversy—seems to be the modus operandi for Rice University’s Martel Center, more colloquially known as “the Art Barn.” After reports last month that the building would be demolished, Rice University changed its mind and announced that it would, instead, relocate the historic structure to the Fourth Ward area of Houston, just west of downtown.

The Art Barn has graced Rice University’s campus since 1969. Originally conceived by John and Dominique de Menil as what was meant to be a quick-fix housing solution for their prestigious private art collection, the squatter became father to a generation of its kind, and established itself as a cultural mainstay not just within the university, but the community as a whole.

Continue reading after the jump.

Demolishing Dallas’ I-345 To Make Room for Economic Growth

(Courtesy A New Dallas)

(Courtesy A New Dallas)

Big spaces, big cities, big freeways. This equation has held ground since the boom of major road developments in the 1970s. But a Dallas group lead by urban designer Patrick Kennedy is fighting that conception. He and his initiative, A New Dallas, are pushing a proposal that has been steadily gaining support since it began two years ago. Interstate 345 is an eight lane, 1.4 mile stretch of elevated highway that serves roughly 200,000 commuters weekly. Kennedy wishes to demolish the structure completely, replacing it with a major surface street, four new parks, $4 billion in new private investment, and homes for 25,000 Dallas residents.

Continue reading after the jump.

Sonoran Desert Vernacular by CO Architects

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CO Architects studied the Sonoran Desert to create a new urban vernacular for Phoenix. (Bill Timmerman)

CO Architects studied the Sonoran Desert to create a new urban vernacular for Phoenix. (Bill Timmerman)

Red-rock mountains and the saguaro cactus inspired the Health Sciences Education Building’s rippling copper facade.

Downtown Phoenix, observed CO Architects’ Arnold Swanborn, looks a lot like downtown Minneapolis. That feels wrong, given the two cities’ contrasting environments. So when it came to designing the Health Sciences Education Building (HSEB) at Phoenix Biomedical Campus (which won honorable mention for facades in AN’s Best of Design Awards), CO Architects went back to nature—to the Sonoran Desert in particular. “We’re building in a desert. We really, in the outset, wanted to understand what it’s like to build in a desert environment, to really go back and investigate the people who first moved there, or even some of the [American] Indians who lived [there],” said Swanborn. “The skin is really a response to some of the lessons we learned from going out to the desert, being out there and seeing how plants and animals adapted to that environment.” Read More

On View> “Focus: Fred Tomaselli” at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth ends Sunday

Art, On View, Southwest
Friday, March 21, 2014
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(Courtesy Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth)

(Courtesy Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth)

FOCUS: Fred Tomaselli
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
3200 Darnell Street, Fort Worth
Through March 23, 2014

FOCUS: Fred Tomaselli highlights works created by the artist in the past ten years, including his New York Times collages. Tomaselli is known for his work on wood panels where he combines unorthodox materials that are suspended in a thick layer of clear, epoxy resin. The materials used in these pieces range from field guides to marijuana leaves. In Tomaselli’s hands, they form a hybrid of subjects and cultural references. The artist tries to represent the transcendental and utopian capabilities available within art. His work comments on suburbia in the 1960s and 70s and the quest for escapism. The images that are depicted relate to his California upbringing during those decades. Of his work, Tomaselli said, “It is my ultimate aim to seduce and transport the viewer into the space of these pictures while simultaneously revealing the mechanics of that seduction.”

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UT Student Installation Takes SXSW

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Undergraduates at UT designed Caret 6 as a backdrop for TEX-FAB's annual competition exhibition. (Casey Dunn)

Undergraduates at UT designed Caret 6 as a backdrop for TEX-FAB’s annual competition exhibition. (Casey Dunn)

A room-filling parametric design makes its way from the classroom to Austin’s famous music festival.

When Kory Bieg and his students at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture began working on Caret 6, they had no idea that it would wind up at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) music and arts festival. But the rippling, room-filling installation soon took on a life of its own. Within months, Bieg’s undergraduates—who had little previous exposure to digital design—had designed and fabricated Caret 6, and assembled and disassembled it twice, first at the TEX-FAB SKIN: Digital Assemblies Symposium in February, and then at Austin’s most famous annual gathering in March. Read More

Bye-Bye Art Barn: Rice University to Demolish Martel Center Building

Art, Eavesdroplet, Southwest
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
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(Courtesy Glasscock School of Continuing Studies at Rice)

(Courtesy Glasscock School of Continuing Studies at Rice)

Texas art website Glasstire.com has confirmed the rumor that Rice University intends to demolish the Martel Center building—more informally known as the Art Barn. The corrugated metal structure was commissioned by John and Dominique de Menil in 1969 to house the Rice Museum, a predecessor of The Menil Collection.

The utilitarian structure inspired the “tin house” movement that gained some momentum in Houston’s West End neighborhood in the 1970s.

Continue reading after the jump.

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Is that Musk in the Air? Electric Car, Space Guru Has Plans For Texas

Eavesdroplet, Southwest
Monday, March 10, 2014
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Diagram of the Tesla Model S showing its battery pack. (Courtesy Tesla Motors)

Diagram of the Tesla Model S showing its battery pack. (Courtesy Tesla Motors)

Speaking of rumors, Texas Monthly spread the word that Silicon Valley billionaire visionary Elon Musk may be locating facilities for two of his future-looking companies in the Lone Star State. Musk’s SpaceX has been buying up land in Cameron County in South Texas with the implicit purpose of building a space facility on the site to launch an expedition to Mars. In more terrestrial affairs, the South Africa native is also considering building a battery factory in the state for his electric car company, Tesla Motors.

On View> The Contemporary Austin presents CATALIN through April 20

Art, On View, Southwest
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
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(Courtesy The Contemporary Austin)

(Courtesy The Contemporary Austin)

CATALIN
The Contemporary Austin
700 Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas
Through April 20th

Charles Long’s latest exhibition CATALIN—aptly named after a toxic plastic material fabricated in the 1930s—uses a multi-media approach to simulate a feeling of impending doom. In this Gesamtkunstwerk, Long combines sculpture, film, music, fragrance, theater, performance, and grand spectacle to create a mystical and magical Wagnerian world.

Read More

Shigeru Ban’s Aspen Art Museum Set To Open This Summer

Newsletter, Southwest
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
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Rendering of Aspen Art Museum. (Shigeru Ban Architects)

Rendering of Aspen Art Museum. (Shigeru Ban Architects)

For those traveling the architecture/museum circuit, one of the next important excursions is definitely Shigeru Ban‘s Aspen Art Museum, which will open in August. Located in the city’s downtown core, this will be Ban’s first U.S. Museum. The building’s gridded composite facade allows for open views inside, inviting people inside and filling the interior (including 14-foot-tall galleries) with natural light. Inside a three-level grand staircase ascends past two ground floor galleries, sandwiched between the exterior grid and the interior structure. Art will be displayed here on mobile pedestals. Read More

Our Crisis: Engineer Considers Options for Houston’s Transportation Future

Eavesdroplet, Southwest, Transportation
Thursday, February 20, 2014
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Houston. (Paul Sableman / Flickr)

Houston. (Paul Sableman / Flickr)

It’s no secret that Houston is going through a growth spurt. The city currently has four central business districts that, if separated, would each be among the country’s top 15 employment centers. In the next 30 years, 3.5 million people are projected to move to the 8-county region, with two million of those concentrated in Harris County.

Continue reading after the jump.

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