[ Editor's Note: Peter Murray, of the New London Architecture Center, together with a dozen architects and planners, is biking from Portland, Oregon to Portland Place in London, studying how cities are responding to the demand for better cycling infrastructure. He reports from the start of his ride. The Architect’s Newspaper is USA media sponsor of the trip and will post periodic updates of these architects on bicycles. As the P2P team gears up for its triumphant arrival in Manhattan on Sunday (June 30th) having completed the U.S. leg of the trip, Peter Murray looks back at some of the highlights of the last week’s riding. ]
One of the delights of cycling across the States has been to experience cities whose names were familiar to me but whose contemporary characteristics and qualities were a void. I am ashamed to admit that when first researching our route through Pittsburgh my main ideas of the city were influenced by scenes of Pennsylvania’s shrinking steel industry from Michael Cimino’s 1978 film The Deerhunter. Instead, I found that Pittsburgh is “the regeneration capital of the U.S.,” eds and meds have replaced steel and it has a fast-improving bicycle infrastructure. Much of the credit for this last piece of progress must go to the energy of Scott Bricker and Lou Fineberg who founded Bike Pittsburgh just over a decade ago. The city still has a long way to go but it has bike lanes and riverside trails and it is highly probable that the next Mayor will be the Democrat Bill Peduto, who is a strong supporter of better biking. Of buildings in the city, we much enjoyed H. H. Richardson’s powerful Allegheny Courthouse and Jail with its rough stone masonry and Romanesque detailing.
AI WEIWEI: ACCORDING TO WHAT?
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Allen Whitehill Clowes Special Exhibition Gallery
4000 Michigan Road
Through July 21
Ai Weiwei is internationally recognized as one of China’s most controversial and influential contemporary artists. In his exhibition Ai Weiwei: According to What?, the artist, through various media (sculpture, photography, architectural installations, and video), boldly addresses issues of human rights in China and comments on the nation’s history, traditions, and politics. The exhibit features more than 30 works spanning more than 20 years. One is an early work, Forever (2003), in which Ai arranged 42 Forever brand bicycles into a circle, to honor China’s most popular, and reliable (the bicycles were made of heavy-duty steel), mode of transportation during the mid-1900s. The exhibit is also devoted to Ai’s more provocative pieces, such as a 38-ton steel carpet entitled Straight (2008). The artist used rusted steel rebar taken from the remains of a poorly-built school that collapsed during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake that tragically killed more than 5,000 schoolchildren. The piece commemorates the thousands of lost lives while openly condemning the Chinese government’s stance on human rights.
President Obama’s second-term White House is still in transition, with Ray LaHood out and rumors of an NTSB replacement, Sally Jewell likely in as Secretary of Interior. Among the non-Cabinet-level appointments, the President appointed Michael Graves to a member of the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, an agency “devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities.” Graves, who uses a wheelchair after an illness-induced partial paralysis, has been a leader in promoting accessibility in architecture, recently designing prototype houses for wounded and disabled veterans.
This month, Graves will also be launching a new line of more than 300 products at retailer J.C. Penney, including kitchen appliances, candlesticks, and a toaster shaped like a piece of toast. The Indianapolis-born architect will return to his hometown on March 28 to give a lecture at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and he recently spoke with the Indy Star about delivering papers for the publication as a child, architecture, and the new product line. An exhibition of Graves’ work, From Towers to Teakettles, is also on display at the Virginia Center for Architecture through March 31.
Alyson Shotz: The Geometry of Light
Indianapolis Museum of Art
4000 Michigan Rd.
Through January 6, 2013
Following the U.S premiere of her animated Fluid State, which visualizes the creation of matter in a fictional landscape, artist Alyson Shotz has adapted her installation The Geometry of Light for the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s Efroymson Family Entrance Pavilion Series. Shotz—who is recognized for exploring the physical world by engaging with concepts of light, gravity, and space—uses industrial materials such as stainless steel wire, silvered glass beads, and cut Fresnel lens sheets to form a sculpture that considers the duality of light as both particle and wave. During daylight hours, natural light filters through the lens sheets, and the varying angles bring life to the piece as the position of the sun changes throughout the day. By moving through the room, visitors perceive how light and motion shape the experience of space.
Last month in this column, we conjured up a fake rivalry between Cincinnati, Cleveland, and East Lansing, MI, as they all have high profile projects opening this fall. Of all the blabber we’ve scattered across these pages, that piece stirred up the most voices. One fan wanted to know, “What about Indianapolis?” In our opinion, it’s a classic quantity versus quality situation. There’s a lot of development going on in Indianapolis right now, including City Way, along with a lot of forgettable architecture. There was the opening of the JW Marriott, with its nifty, curved blue glass curtain wall, design by HOK and CSO Architects. But does a convention hotel really stand up against starchitect designed museums and boutique art hotels? Not in this case.
CityWay, a $155 million mixed-use development planned to revitalize Indianapolis’ Southeast downtown quadrant, could mean big things for the city’s redevelopment. The Indianapolis Star released this interactive map of the project’s features, which include a flagship YMCA planned for 2014, 250 apartments, a 209-room hotel, 10 restaurants and shops and land targeted for 400,000 square feet of future development.
As AN reported in August, the project counts Gensler and OZ Architects among its designers. The 14-acre site is near several of Indy’s major employers, as well as cultural attractions like Super Bowl locale Lucas Oil Stadium and the cultural trail.
Russian Posters – Rodchenko 120
Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis
Herron School of Art and Design Marsh Gallery
735 West New York Street, Indianapolis, IN
Through August 24
In recognition of the 120th anniversary of the birth of Alexander Rodchenko, Moscow Design Week organized a poster campaign honoring the Russian avant-garde artist, graphic designer, and photographer. Commissioning work from twenty prominent Russian poster artists, the campaign sought to create a dialogue between contemporary graphic designers and a master of the discipline. Sergei Serov, curator of the project, writes, “The posters are not only a tribute to the great artist, but a reflection on the historical destiny of graphic design.” The posters all bear Rodchenko’s influence in unique ways. Elements from some of his most notable designs are repurposed, utilizing Rodchenko’s own language of collage and geometric composition. These strict geometries inform Nikolai Shtok’s entry, above, where simple geometric forms are abstracted and composed as a Rodchenko-inspired typography.
Urban Visions: American Works on Paper, 1900-1950
Indianapolis Museum of Art
4000 Michigan Road
Through September 30
An upcoming exhibition at The Indianapolis Museum of Art’s Alliance Gallery will explore the ways in which artists dealt with the rise of industrial modernization and urbanity. In the first half of the 20th century, rapidly changing cities served as inspiration for new portrayals of human expression within these new environments. “The spectacle of metropolitan life” is presented through 25 works from IMA’s print collection, including lithographs, etchings, and engravings from well-known artists such as George Bellows, Childe Hassam, Edward Hopper, Reginald Marsh, and Isabel Bishop. The exhibition will display the art alongside vintage construction photos from the Chicago and New York skyscraper boom, providing context for these early interpretations of the city. Pieces from lesser-known artist and architect Gerald Kenneth Geerlings, whose aquatinted technical drawings of the emerging cityscape highlight the juxtaposition of emotional romanticism and technological progress, will be on display at IMA for the first time since 1970.
With Super Bowl XLVI charging towards the end zone like a wide receiver under pursuit, it’s Indianapolis’ time in the national spotlight. The city has been reinventing itself around sports and specifically the biggest game in football, and it’s certainly showing, with a massive new hotel by HOK and an expanded convention center by Ratio. Emily Badger recently tackled the building boom over at Atlantic Cities and Aaron Renn argues at the Urbanophile that pursuing a sports strategy has been a touchdown for the city. Among the big plays the Circle City has revealed: in this year’s Super Bowl Village a 95-foot-tall, 800-foot-long zip line carries football fans careening through downtown.
If you’ve managed to snag one of those coveted tickets to the game, or if you’re just hanging around the city for the fun of it, be sure to check out local blog Urban Indy’s write-ups of how to get around the city without a car and the best in transit-accessible night life. And try out that zip line…if you dare.
On Wednesday, federal transportation secretary Ray LaHood effectively killed Detroit’s planned light rail line, citing doubt about the city’s ability to build and maintain the project, given its dire finances and collapsing levels of density. He instead pushed for bus rapid transit along the Woodward Avenue corridor. Elsewhere, however, transit seems to be gaining traction. Read More
Microbe Road. Designers Thomas Kosbau & Andrew Wetzler have proposed scrapping asphalt in favor of a more eco-friendly sandstone paving surface created with locally harvested sand and cemented together by a common microbe. Yanko Design points out that the Incheon International Design Awards entry would save oil and help relieve the urban heat island effect.
Super-circle XLVI. While the buzz surrounding this year’s Superbowl has yet to subside, Indianapolis has focused its eyes to next year’s big game. Urban Indy reports that the city’s iconic Monument Circle will be pedestrianized during the week-long festivities, which could bode well for future car-free endeavors.
ARC Resurrected. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie may have derailed the proposed ARC train tunnel connecting Manhattan and NJ last year, but a new plan floated by Amtrak could provide a new tunnel opportunity. The Transport Politic has details on the so-called Gateway Project.
Ben van Bistro. Just in time for spring, the New Amsterdam Pavilion designed by UN Studio principal Ben van Berkel in Manhattan’s Battery Park will offer eco-friendly food, craft beer, and organic wine. DNAinfo says the pinwheel-shaped restaurant will be called Battery Bistro.