The Art of Abandonment

East
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
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(image via WebUrbanist)

Buffalo-based architect Dennis Maher has devised his own version of adaptive reuse – he’s remaking abandoned buildings into sculptures. Inspired by the shrinking Rust Belt city where he lives and works, his sculptures “honor the former lives of these raw materials” in a way that is striking and thought-provoking. The large works of art in Undone-Redone City are complex, and offer us a new way of seeing buildings, or at least their elements. In Maher’s creations, a door and some flooring and a window frame might all mesh together to form a new shape and a new function that the original builders probably never imagined.
Click through for a slideshow of Maher’s sculptures.

Leading the Charge

Midwest
Friday, March 19, 2010
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Toni Griffin, Detroit's new planning director.

In an effort to contain costs and regain some control of the Motor City’s destiny, this month Detroit Mayor Dave Bing will announce the details of a plan to clear largely abandoned sections of the city and reinvigorate more stable neighborhoods. Signaling the importance of this controlled shrinkage plan, Time is reporting that Detroit has hired Newark’s urban planning director Toni Griffin to lead the effort. Griffin is one of the best known planners in the country, and she’s been working to reestablish planning principles and guide renewal in New Jersey’s largest city. A graduate of the Harvard GSD, prior to her time in Newark, she worked for SOM Chicago and for Washington D.C.’s planning department. In Detroit, Griffin’s salary, as well as those of some of her staff, will be underwritten by the Kresge Foundation. Her job will no doubt be a difficult one. Residents have previously fought neighbhorhood clearance and scuttled earlier shrinkage plans.

Detroit Pick Me Up

Other
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
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The new Mercury Coffee Bar designed by Zago Architecture with the abandoned Michigan Central Station in the distance (all photos by Corine Vermeulen-Smith)

The collapse of Detroit has been a subject of fascination for artists, architects, and urbanists. In the current economic environment, the symbolism of the city’s decline threatens to overshadow the human and physical realities of the place. And while few would argue that the city will ever return to its height, it is nice to be able to show a project that disrupts the city-in-free-fall narrative, such as the new Mercury Coffee Bar, designed by Andrew Zago. No architect has been more closely associated with working on and thinking about contemporary Detroit’s plight than Zago. In his latest project, he’s created a bright, cheerful refuge in the city’s desolate landscape. Read More

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