Metropolis II, opening at LACMA on January 14, is installation artist Chris Burden’s action-packed, raucous, optimistic view of Los Angeles sometime in the not-to-distant future. Eleven-hundred custom-made, die-cast cars, about twice the size of a Matchbox car, race through a multilevel system of 18 roadways that twist and turn and undulate amid buildings that seem vaguely familiar but are not replicas of any specific landmark (although, strangely, there is what looks like an Eiffel Tower). The cars whip along on a plastic roadway at fantastic speeds, producing an enormous din that echoes off the gallery walls like the incessant roar of real-life freeway traffic. HO-scale trains and 1930s-era trolley cars roll along tracks of their own, adding a cheerful nostalgia to the mix.
Still riding the wave of publicity following her recent MacArthur genius grant win, Jeanne Gang gets the full star treatment from Chicago’s public TV station WTTW. This documentary, “Jeanne Gang: The Sky’s the Limit,” is all praise. Blair Kamin and Stanley Tigerman figure as her head cheerleaders. It would have been nice to have someone puncture the bubble a bit, possibly interrogating Gang about architect’s limits, rather than merely presenting the discipline (and Gang as one of its leading lights) as a environmental and societal savior. The documentary does show some engaging glimpses of Studio Gang’s working methods and office style, so there’s plenty to enjoy, even for the (mild) skeptics.
Noting the rivalry between his new home, Los Angeles, and New York while visiting the Big Apple last week, Conan O’Brien launched a new segment , the Fight to the Death Building Battle to settle the cities’ differences once and for all. Curbed spotted these epic architectural fights posted online at Team Coco’s blog, and we couldn’t help but share on this Friday afternoon, 11/11/11. While in New York, Conan pitted the Empire State Building (“weighing in at 365,000 tons of limestone”) against LA’s Scientology Book Store (“the best building they could come up with.”) Of course, the Empire State soundly won. Back in LA, he revoked his New York show as “playing to the New York crowd,” and held another match between the Empire and a trio of LA buildings: the Capitol Records Building, a Lady Foot Locker from a Venice Boulevard strip mall, and later Randy’s Donuts. Remember, whatever side you choose, as Conan pointed out, “You’re booing a building.”
By our watch here at The Architect’s Newspaper HQ, it’s 11:11:11 a.m. on 11/11/11. We’re pretty excited that the date and time looks a little like a miniature Manhattan skyline! Continuing on our theme of absurdity (previously, architectural models), check out this delightful video put together by the New York-based Koren Ensemble to commemorate this special day. Some say so many 11’s is certainly a lucky event, so be sure to make a wish when the clock strikes 11:11 the second time around.
Each year, we’re continually amazed at the pop-up architecture that rises in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert for Burning Man only to be destroyed in one grand flash of fire. What’s equally awe-inspiring is the pop-up city that forms around the festival. We just came across this time-lapse video of the rise and fall of the city of Burning Man, which shows how the urban form, like the installations, slowly builds before igniting in the night and fading away. Set against the black of the desert night, the video shows how active and dynamic the site really is when the sun goes down. The festival comes alive with the darting about of lights around fixed centers of music and art. At the end, the calm of an abandoned desert returns for another year. [h/t Lost at E Minor.]
Walking the line. Watch artist Simon Faithfull travel both built and unbuilt environments along “the exact longitude of the Greenwich Meridian,” using a GPS device in his documentary project “0˚00 Navigation.” Above is an excerpt through London, but you can also watch the whole thing here. (h/t Polis.)
At the city gates. In this short article at the Sustainable Cities Collective, Chuck Wolfe muses over what a “city gate” would be in a modern city, contending that Google streetview is one form of a modern gate incarnation. Is a physical gate just an ornament of memories, or do we need the architectural drama only a physical threshold can provide?
Art heals blight. As Elizabeth Currid-Halkett notes in the NY Times, art as a revitalization tool works, but not always. It takes more than just cheap rent and abandoned factory lofts to cultivate the next Soho. Take the case of Red Hook’s art scene from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle: art, given its mercurial nature, may be best left alone, like the somewhat-isolated Brooklyn neighborhood.
A map for Captain Planet. SkyTruth, a nonprofit environmental monitoring group, recently launched a real-time, interactive alert system that digitally maps domestic pollution events, such as toxic spills and air & water pollution. More at the LA Times blog.
Attention Frank Lloyd Wright fans! You can satisfy two Wright cravings with this one event. Head over the the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum to catch a screening of Kenneth Love’s lush new documentary Fallingwater: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Masterwork with Reflections of Edgar Kaufmann Jr. The film, which was supported by the James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation, the Estate of Edgar Tafel, and the Laurel Foundation, will be screened in the museum’s New Media Theatre on October 21 and 28 and November 4 and 18 at 1:00 and 3:00 pm. The screenings are free with the price of admission to the museum. It’s the perfect marriage of content and container. Wright would approve.
It’s been a couple of week’s since Jane’s Carousel opened to the public on the Brooklyn Waterfront, allowing us time to reflect on the rainy opening day and see just how the new attraction is being received. It’s seems Jean Nouvel’s pavilion is a study in contrasts, particularly on cold gloom of the opening ceremony when we first stopped by. We made a short impressionistic collage of our observations including the carnivalesque merriment going on inside the pavilion set against the sober geometry outside. (You might also spot Nouvel himself taking a ride or an overly-excited Marty Markowitz astride one of the wooden horses.)
Granted the acrylic-paneled doors of Nouvel’s pavilion can be thrown open to the surrounding park, but the celebratory atmosphere seems contained, anchored even. Viewed from across the park, the riverside building takes on the feel of a ferry terminal. Inside, however, the playful carousel offers distorted views through the giant door panels that give downtown Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge a fun-house-mirror effect.
Have you been to the carousel yet? What are your thoughts of Nouvel’s contrasting design?