Lebbeus Woods was a powerful presence in New York City and in the world of architectural thinking and expression. It’s still unsettling to think he is no longer here to push and provoke the world of architecture towards a more thoughtful and challenging practice. Though his ethical voice (his projects and writing can still be explored at lebbeuswoods.wordpress.com) and the demanding worlds he created inside his drawings will no longer confront the major issues of the day we still have his drawings to remind us of his thinking and vision. The first major retrospective of Woods career will open at the Drawing Center in New York on April 16, 2014 and was organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and is currently in view at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University (through March 2, 2014).
In AN‘s recent article on the winners of this year’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards, we mentioned that Michael Sorkin accepted his award for “Design Mind” with a powerful tribute—as only he can—to his late friends and intellectual mentors, Lebbeus Woods and Marshall Berman. Sorkin, like the other awardees, was only allowed a 2 minute acceptance speech, which he has shared with AN. Read the statement in full below.
Just weeks after architect Lebbeus Woods’ death at age 72, SFMOMA is getting the word out about a new exhibition of his work that will run from February 16th through June 2nd, 2013. The show, entitled Lebbeus Woods, Architect, will feature 75 pieces from the eccentric designer’s portfolio—most of them mutating forms in pencil— including Nine Reconstructed Boxes (1999) and High Houses (1996), which are currently in the SFMOMA collection. From SFMOMA’s exhibition description:
Acknowledging the parallels between society’s physical and psychological constructions, architect Lebbeus Woods (1940 – 2012) depicted a career-long narrative of how these constructions transform our being. Working mostly with pencil on paper, Woods created an oeuvre of complex worlds—at times abstract and at times explicit—that present shifts, cycles, and repetitions within the built environment. His timeless architecture is not in a particular style or in response to a singular moment in the field; rather, it offers an opportunity to consider how built forms are transformative for the individual and the collective, and how one person contributes to the development and mutation of the built world.
See more images from the museum’s impressive Woods’ collection below.
The outpouring of positive and thoughtful reflections by architects around the world to the passing of Lebbeus Woods on social networking sites has been gratifying to those who long recognized his importance to contemporary culture. We will have an obituary by Peter Cook in the next print edition of the paper but a Woods fan Carlos Brillembourg brought a fascinating talk between Raimund Abraham and Woods to our attention. In fact Woods’ Blog was one of the most compelling architecture sites on the web and if you have never read it do yourself a favor and spend a few hours reading his posts.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
151 Third Street, San Francisco, CA
Through January 6, 2013
Blurring the distinction between conceptual art and theoretical architecture, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art investigates the conception and experience of space by using the notion of “field” as a reference. Curator Joseph Becker describes the pieces in the exhibition as “spatial experiments,” united by the use of architectural devices to describe a spatial condition. The term “field conditions” derives from the 1996 essay by architect Stan Allen in which he describes a shift from traditional architectural form toward an understanding of systems and networks, a “field” being described by the interconnections of discrete points that constitute the whole. Many works in the exhibition deploy a process of serializing and accumulating, describing spatial qualities through deformation (such as Conflict Space 3, 2006, by Lebbeus Woods, above).
Barrios with Altitude. A poetic study of the organically evolving perimeter of Bogotá, via Lebbeus Woods.
Atlantic Aspirations. Forest City Ratner is still on the hunt for Atlantic Yards funding, but has sweetened the deal by tapping SHoP–who is already spiffing up the stadium and public plaza–to design B2, the first apartment building in the complex, says The Observer.
Sterile Street. Blair Kamin calls out developer Joe Sitt for obliterating “bracing history” in exchange for “bland consistency” on State Street, in The Chicago Times.
BEFORE SUBZERO, REFRIGERATORS WERE WHITE (OR AVOCADO)
Eavesdrop jetted to pollen-crusted Raleigh, NC, with an eclectic herd of reporters from the likes of Sculpture magazine and The Jewish Daily Forward to tour the North Carolina Museum of Art expansion designed by Thomas Phifer. We were not disappointed. The 127,000-square-foot museum is an elegant, single-story box penetrated by courtyards, pools, and gardens. The interior and exterior details are so deliciously subtle that they seemed to elude some of the mainstream press, who asked him why he didn’t site the building to dominate the street. Articulate and precise, Phifer hypnotized the skeptics by explaining every strategy convincingly, and they hung on his every word. (Check out AN correspondent Thomas de Monchaux’s own critical appraisal in our next issue.) Read More
In the latest issue of the paper, Lebbeus Woods pays tribute to his friend and colleague Raimund Abraham, who died last month. Here, we gather together a survey of the visionary architect’s work, both built and—perhaps more importantly—unbuilt, for as Woods recounts of Abraham, “Building, he believed, necessarily violates nature’s wholeness, and must be done with a full awareness of consequences.” Click the image above of Abraham’s best known building, the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York, to begin the slideshow. (Special thanks to Stefan Heßling for generously sharing his images of Abraham’s musikstudio in Germany.)
You can also watch Abraham’s last lecture, delivered at SCI-Arc the night of March 3. He died in a car accident on his way home.
Rare drawings by major architects are on display at Edward Cella Art + Architecture, a new gallery at 6018 Wilshire Blvd, across from LACMA. Highlights include Frank Lloyd Wright’s sketch of an unrealized ocean-front house for Ayn Rand, the semiliterate guru of the loony right; a color pastel rendering by Richard Neutra of the Tremaine house in Montecito, and floor plans of the Empire State Building. Carlos Diniz, the LA illustrator, created a presentation drawing for Minoru Yamasaki, showing how tenants might exploit the unbroken floor plan to create an interior townscape. The most surprising feature of the exhibition is Berlin Underground, a suite of twenty drawings by Lebbeus Woods. Commisioned by the Aedes Gallery of Berlin in 1988, a year before the Wall came down, they imagined a subterranean link between the two halves of the divided city. Woods’ tortured vision evokes alien life, lurking beneath the surface and bursting into view at the Alexanderplatz. On view until October 10 and after the jump. Read More
Philippe Parreno, Marquee Guggeneim, NY, 2008. Photo: Kristopher McKay/Guggenheim Foundation
Listen up insomniacs and coffee snobs, the Guggenheim is hosting a 24-hour talk, appropriately on the theme of time, as a companion to the exhibition theanyspacewhatever. The event starts at 6:00 pm tonight and runs through 6:00 pm on Wednesday, and includes artists, designers, curators, social scientists, philosophers, and others. Read More