Review> Set Designer Harnesses Nostalgia for Detroit in AMC’s New Series, “Low Winter Sun”

National, Newsletter
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
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(Courtesy AMC)

(Courtesy AMC)

Nostalgia (nóstos), meaning “homecoming”, a Homeric word, and (álgos), meaning “pain, ache”, and was coined by a 17th-century medical student to describe the anxieties displayed by Swiss mercenaries fighting away from home. Ruth Ammon, set designer for the AMC television series, Low Winter Sun, used this word to describe the series in its most honorable sense. This tale of morality uses the architecture of Detroit’s heyday, to embody the pride of the city which elevated middle working class life.

It is poignant that the city’s decline is also apparent in every frame, rather than pimping these noble structures like urban porn. Whether featuring Albert Kahn’s Packard Automotive Plant, 1903-11 (the production offices were next door to this location, one of the largest parcels of unoccupied real estate in the Western hemisphere); Kahn’s Detroit Police Headquarters at 1300 Beaubien St., 1923 (given the same role in the series, but now under threat since the PDP moved out); the art deco David Stott Building of 1929 by Donaldson and Meier; St. Hyacinth Roman Catholic Church, 1924 by Donaldson and Meier; or the Venetian Gothic Ransom Gillis House, 1876-78 (documented extensively by photographer Camilo Jose Vergara), these were deliberate choices.

Continue reading after the jump.

Review> Barbara Bloom’s “As it were…So to speak” at The Jewish Museum

East
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
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(David Heald)

(David Heald)

A woman sits alone and thinks to herself.
A painting converses with a room. The room talks back.

So says Barbara Bloom, whose installation of selections from the Jewish Museum’s collection, create a dialogue with architect C.P.H. Gilbert’s French Renaissance Warburg mansion—the building that houses the museum—real and imagined visitors, and the objects themselves. Architect Ken Saylor, who worked closely with Bloom on the spatialization and design of the exhibition, said, “we tried to ask ourselves ‘What does it mean to inhabit an exhibition?’ where things are simultaneously absent and present, masked and revealed, teased and assaulted, subject and context, museum and house.”

Inspired by the design of the Talmud, the central text of Rabbinic Judaism, where the original text is framed by annotated scholarly debates across generations, the exhibition is entitled As it were…So to speak. That suggests “what you are about to hear … Is not exactly what it appears to be.” The exhibition is a narrative but without beginning, middle, and end, which harmoniously surfs the practices of art, architecture, and design.

Continue reading after the jump.

Review> Palatial Kitsch: At Home with Liberace

National
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
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Scene from Behind the Candelabra. (Courtesy HBO)

Scene from Behind the Candelabra. (Courtesy HBO)

With gay marriage rippling across the country and even the Boy Scouts opening their doors to gays, it’s hard to believe that during Liberace’s lifetime, coming out was career suicide.  The mystery is how anyone, particularly his adoring blue-haired female fans, could have ever thought otherwise.  His flamboyant, over-the-top more –is-better excess in décor and fashion, both on stage and off, screams “queen” louder than his proficient, versatile piano playing.  “The Impossible Dream” indeed.

“I call this palatial kitsch” says Michael Douglas playing Liberace, known as Lee, to Matt Damon’s Scott Thorson, his soon to be paramour in HBO’s Behind the Candelabra.  This is shortly after Scott enters the Las Vegas spread where he asks the friend who’s brought him: “Is this a palace?” which prompts the reply “Lee thinks he’s King Ludwig II.”  Scott: “ Who’s he?”  “The Liberace of Bavaria.”  (Ludwig [1845-1886], also gay, commissioned extravagant palaces, patronized composer Richard Wagner, and was deposed as “mad.”)

Continue reading after the jump.

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Review> IIDA Explores the Client-Designer Relationship in “What Clients Want”

National
Monday, July 2, 2012
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What Clients Want.

What Clients Want.

At NeoCon this year, IIDA (International Interior Design Association) presented copies of What Clients Want, the first-ever study of the client/designer relationship told from the point of view of the client, written and edited by Melissa Feldman, IIDA’s executive vice president. IIDA CEO Cheryl Durst called it “a groundbreaking account of how some C-suite executives have been able to alter their companies’ destinations through design [by] firms who got inside their corporate DNA and pushed them to be better.”

Durst is referring to companies like Autodesk, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, the Cowboys Stadium, and Facebook, which enlisted the services of Primo Orpilla and Verda Alexander of Studio O+A, a husband and wife duo who have designed interiors for a roster of “techie brands” like Aol, eBay, Microsoft, and PayPal. In 2008, O+A was commissioned to consolidate Facebook’s spread of ten office buildings in Palo Alto, California, and merge them into Hewlett Packard’s former HQ. Studio O+A credits the extensive research they conduct on potential clients prior to any design work for landing the gig.

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The Weekly Review

National
Friday, February 5, 2010
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Get reading...

For readers of the paper—the print paper, that is—you know full well the importance of our reviews section, just as vital to the pulse of the architectural discourse as the news and features we regularly publish. Online, however, we have never had a good, dedicated place for these disquisitions on the latest books, exhibitions, and ephemera. But, no longer! Now, we will be posting one review from recent issues each Friday, for your weekend enjoyment. Perhaps you can pull it up on your new iPad with the Sunday Times, or print it out and enjoy with a bloody mary or two. We know that’s what Herbert Muschamp, subject of our inaugural effort, would have done. And don’t forget to check back next Friday for more. Until then, happy reading.

Guardian Review by Jonathan Glancey

Other
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
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Greg Lynn

Greg Lynn

Nude hippies, big blobs, stunning dog pounds – is the 2008 architecture biennale too wacky for its own good?  

…The second part of the biennale, held in the national pavilions dotted through the city’s giardini a few minutes’ walk from the Arsenale, begins to offer some real, adult answers to the question of how we can make warm and lovable buildings for people of all classes, creeds and incomes. The US pavilion takes the theme the most seriously, with displays of radical designs for $20,000 homes executed in some of America’s poorest states by such commendable US practices as the Rural Studio. These designs come as a welcome reality check. Read More

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Hugh Pearman on the Venice pavilions (video)

Other
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
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See what RIBA’s Hugh Pearman has to say on the BD web-site

http://www.bdonline.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=725&storycode=3122494&c=2 

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