Bringin’ it back to the old school, to the days of 3D online meet-up spots and avatars, when chat rooms were actual digitally-modelled rooms, “Breaking Out and Breaking In” was a “distributed film fest,” where users watched movies at home and came together in the comments section of BLDGBLOG to discuss the films. It was a blurring of the real and the digital. In partnership with Filmmaker magazine, the series focused on films which were either about bank heists (breaking in) or prison escapes (breaking out), positing them as “the use and misuse of space.” Films were watched during a period of four months, and the festival culminated with a panel discussion at Columbia’s GSAPP featuring two FBI agents alongside designers and critics.
For most architecture students, a model malfunction won’t land you in the middle of a river, but one group of Buffalonian risk takers at the University of Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, under the direction of Associate Professor Jean La Marche were up for the challenge. Students Troy Barnes, Stephen Olson, Scott Selin, and Adrian Solecki designed and installed half of a bridge—made of cardboard—cantilevered over the Buffalo River, and invited people to step out over the water. The frightening experiment worked, challenging conventional notions of material constraints.
Trust us, you don’t want to miss this weekend’s Venice Art Walk & Auctions (May 19-20), which in addition to showing off the area’s wealth of art studios and galleries, will introduce you to some of its finest new architecture. That’s impressive because everybody knows that Venice has more architects per square foot than pretty much anywhere else.
The Japanese American Cultural & Community Center’s first annual spring festival, LA Bloom wrapped up on May 5, but late visitors to the Little Tokyo site in Downtown LA can still enjoy a piece of the festivities. LA Bloom’s centerpiece ecoartspace installation will remain up for a few extra weeks. Using over five million pebbles, JACCC Artistic Director Hirokazu Kosaka and landscape architect Calvin Abe of AHBE created a large zen garden that, during the festival (along with thousands of feet of colorful thread) created a serene background for Kosaka’s evocative Mare Nubium performances.
“It isn’t something that can be experienced through description. It would be like explaining what it’s like to be present watching the original moon landing,” said Abe, for whom the space created a “profound existential experience.”
For the past five months things were looking up for the Architecture Billings Index. Until now. Granted, the index was merely teetering on the positive side of the spectrum at 50.4 for March (any score above 50 reflects an increase), so it didn’t have far to drop into the negative territory of 48.4 for April. Despite the five-month positive stint, throughout the period AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker urged cautious optimism in what has clearly been a tepid recovery. In a statement released today, he said that the decline in demand for design services is not surprising considering continued volatility in the overall economy. “Favorable conditions during the winter months may have accelerated design billings, producing a pause in projects that have moved ahead faster than expected,” he said.
Craft Spoken Here
Philadelphia Museum of Art
26th St. and Benjamin Franklin Pkwy.
Through August 12
Since it was founded in 1876, the Philadelphia Museum of Art has collected and exhibited crafts; the collection today includes 20th- and 21st-century works from across the globe. With Craft Spoken Here, the Museum presents the medium of crafting as a common language of technique, material, and form that defies cultural boundaries and historical categorization. Drawing from the museum’s collection as well as works on loan from artists and private collections, the exhibition will include some 40 works by acclaimed and lesser-known craftsman alike, with contemporary pieces from 1960 to the present, including The One, 1985 by Rebecca Medel (above). Representing the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe with works in ceramic, glass, metal, wood, lacquer, paper, and fiber, the works on display show the breadth of the medium and highlight the qualities of craft that transcend culture and time.
Few university art museums have holdings that span from 3000-year old Chinese bronze vessels to bronze coins of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, and from the blue-tiled gates of ancient Babylon to Blam, a red, white, and blue oil painting by Roy Lichtenstein. The collections of the Yale University Art Gallery, both deep and wide-ranging, offer up an impressive art-fueled time machine, and thanks to the Gallery’s current expansion project by Ennead, visitors will be able to travel more easily than ever across history and cultures.
It’s not every day that architects get a public space named after one of their own, but tucked away in Lower Manhattan is a small pedestrian plaza named after one of the most important 19th-century architects around. Bogardus Plaza occupies one block of Hudson Street on the corner of Chambers Street and West Broadway only a few blocks from AN headquarters and is named from James Bogardus (1800-1874), the inventor of the cast-iron building, and last week the plaza received a fresh coat of gravel-epoxy paint.
The Outdoor Office
The Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
Through July 15
Jonathan Olivares takes a human-centered approach to industrial design and research. His 2011 book A Taxonomy of Office Chairs, published by Phaidon, provides an encyclopedic history of the office chair from 1840 to present day; building on this research, Olivares presents the speculative project The Outdoor Office (above). The advent of mobile communication means that work can be done outside of traditional offices and that the utility of outdoor space is no longer limited to recreation and leisure. Olivares examines how productive work environments can be created with new types of outdoor furniture and architecture, with consideration of privacy, shelter, and adaptability. The exhibition showcases the research and results of his findings, with images drawn from television, film, and existing offices, in addition to conceptual projects and models developed for new outdoor work spaces.