Sooner or later, aerodynamic trains will be zipping across the farm fields of the heartland and the Van Alen Institute wondered what cultural, environmental, and economic implications such a novel technology would bring. After revealing ten winners of its Life at the Speed of Rail ideas competition, it appears that high speed rail could one day mean larger-than-life mechanical farm animals roaming around the countryside. At least that’s the vision of Stewart Hicks and Allison Newmeyer of Urbana, IL whose project, Animal Farmatures, reimagines farm implements as entertainment for passing riders.
Winners were announced today at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. and soon, the Van Alen will be taking Life at the Speed of Rail on the road (although unfortunately not yet by train). Stops include St. Louis’ Museum of Contemporary Art at 7:00p.m. on June 28, Houston’s James Baker III Institute at Rice University at 6:00p.m. on July 7, and Los Angeles’ Caltrans District 7 Headquarters at 4:00p.m. on July 12.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Through October 31
Best known for directing films like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, and Beetle Juice, Tim Burton and his work as an illustrator, writer, and artist are being honored with a retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. This new show celebrates the way that Burton has managed to put his own spin on movies in an industry known for its fear of the unknown. With over 700 items on display, including drawings, paintings, photographs, film and video works, storyboards, puppets, concept artworks, maquettes, costumes, and assorted cinematic ephemera, visitors get a glimpse into the mind of this modern day Renaissance man.
Though the show debuted on the east coast at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the LACMA version of the show, organized by Britt Salvesen, offers its own take on the Burbank native’s body of work. Burton collaborated with the exhibition designers to transform the museum’s Resnick Pavilion into an appropriately “Burtonesque” environment. He also created several new pieces for the exhibition, including what the museum describes as a “revolving multimedia, black-light carousel installation that hangs from the ceiling.”
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Self-supporting tessellations can take almost any form.
“People are pretty burned out on the office cubicle and panel systems,” said Nat Porter, general manager of Seeyond Architectural Solutions. The company, which launched this month, aims to give architects an alternative to standard space dividers with its new user-controlled parametric design and digital fabrication building system. Seeyond’s history goes back ten years, to sculptor and designer Jonas Hauptman’s experimentations with folded materials. For a class he was teaching, he turned for materials to Liberty Diversified International (LDI), whose roots are in the corrugated fiberboard industry. Hauptman teamed up with Paul James, a mathematician, economist, and industrial designer already working with LDI (now Seeyond’s parent company). They presented their business proposal in 2009 and the new fabrication system was born.
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Restored London. Building Design reports that after 15 years, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London is scaffolding-free. The £40 million project restored Christopher Wren’s masterpiece to its original glory in time for the cathedral’s 30oth anniversary. St. Paul’s will host a photography competition and display the winning selections in the cathedral crypt to celebrate its complete renovation.
Artificial England. While China continues to be a hot spot for architectural and economic development, its many ghost towns lack permanent residents. The Infrastructurist exposes one of China’s English-inspired uninhabited cities, Thames Town, built in 2006 as part of Shanghai’s “One City, Nine Town” initiative at decentralization. The state-of-the-art $9 billion design draws tourists, but not residents.
Trucks, not Tanks. At the United States Conference of Mayors, local government representatives vote to reallocate federal funds directed toward the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the improvement of American cities. The municipal leaders assert that the conflicts’ $126 billion per year budget would be better spend building urban infrastructure, employing civil servants, and supporting educational and family institutions.
Mall City. City Watch LA evaluates Rick Caruso’s latest business proposition: running for public office. The billionaire developer envisions a new Los Angeles comprised of isolated communities each with its own shopping mall, a potential reality if Caruso wins the 2013 mayoral seat.
Seemingly sliced into the asphalt of a Brooklyn street beneath the Manhattan Bridge is an unexpected glass-filled “tattoo” designed by landscape architect Paula Meijerink, founder of Boston-based WANTED Landscape. Meijerink is among eight landscape architects featured in Material Landscapes, a recently opened exhibition at the Sheldon Art Galleries in St. Louis running through January 21st, 2012. Work from the eight firms including D.I.R.T studio, dlandstudio, Stoss Landscape Urbanism, Legge Lewis Legge, PEG office, Kaseman Beckman Advanced Strategies, and ESKYIU is presented in photographs and drawings.
Curator Liane Hancock, senior lecturer at Washington University in St. Louis, chose projects ranging from a vertical container garden in Hong Kong to a waterfront in Milwaukee to reflect innovative use of materials in landscape architecture and to advance landscape design in St. Louis in light of major projects such as Citygarden and the redevelopment of the St. Louis Arch grounds.
In his own words, Dutch artist Theo Jansen is “creating new forms of life.” His mechanical creatures, the Strandbeests, are comprised of hundreds of yellow plastic tubes forming a skeletal structure that is able to walk along the beach with only the help of the wind. According to Jansen’s web site, he is looking “to put these animals out in herds on the beaches so they will live their own lives.” He has given his latest creations “stomachs” able to store the wind using a series of bicycle pumps powered by sails or wings on the Strandbeests. The air is compressed into plastic bottles that can power the machine when the wind dies down.
Knoll Textiles, 1945–2010
Bard Graduate Center Gallery
18 West 86th Street
Through July 31
A new show at the Bard Graduate Center (BGC) takes a comprehensive look at the history and influence of Knoll Textiles, both as a brand and a company. It also aims to bring to light the importance of textiles in relation to modern design. Curated by a multidisciplinary team (Earl Martin, associate curator at the BGC; Paul Makovsky, editorial director of Metropolis magazine; Angela Völker, Curator Emeritus of Textiles at Vienna’s MAK; and Susan Ward, an independent textile historian) the exhibit features 175 examples of textiles, furniture, and photographs that explore the innovations, from production of materials to marketing, during the 1940s through the 1960s.
Armory Center for the Arts
145 North Raymond Ave.
Through November 6
MacArthur-winner Jorge Pardo gained his reputation by blurring the boundaries between art, architecture, and design. In his temporary exhibit in the courtyard of the Armory Center, Pardo engages the surroundings, deploying four pepper trees to act as three-dimensional framing devices for groups of translucent hanging globes. What at first seems to be a festive environment becomes a contemplative one, as visitors sit on benches surrounding the base of the trees and take a closer look at the spheres. Each reveals an ethereal universe inside: delicate reflective materials sit protected from the surrounding activity, casting shimmering, changing light onto the world around them.
Architecture isn’t just for rich, young caucasians. In fact with explosions in senior, minority and student populations it’s time to take a hard look at how these changes impact architecture. You can do that tonight at a panel called Designing By Demographics at LA’s Brewery, sponsored by AN. The event, hosted by journalist and media expert Marissa Gluck, brings in experts from architecture, art and community redevelopment to discuss how demographics impact design, from senior housing, to childcare, and low income communities. Panelists include architect Patrick Tighe, designer of the Sierra Bonita affordable housing project in West Hollywood; Edgar Arceneaux. Executive Director of the Watts House Project, an arts and community redevelopment project in Watts; and a great lineup of architects, artists, and academics. No to mention The Brewery is one of our favorite locations in LA ( Telemachus Studio at the Brewery, 672 South Avenue 21 Unit 2).
We got to see one of our favorite new architectural documentaries on Sunday, called Unfinished Spaces: Cuba’s Architecture of Revolution, by Alysa Nahmias and Ben Murray. The film documents the creation, and subsequent scuttling, of Cuba’s National Arts Schools. Designed by architects Ricardo Porro, Roberto Gottardi and Vittorio Garatti, the highly expressive Modernist schools, built mostly of Terra Cotta, were an example of visionary architecture and idealistic arts education for all, from dance to visual arts. But after the Castro government wearied of creative expression and embraced Soviet-style building, they changed their minds, shutting down construction, although classes later continued in the schools’ ruins. Now the country has once again done an about-face and is hoping to save them, despite a lack of government funding. Look at our next issue for a full review. And if you’re in LA, check out more screenings of the film on June 24 and June 25. Read More