We’re back from NeoCon in Chicago, where we had a fantastic showroom crawl with designers passing through Hafele, The Fine Line, and Toto. People had drinks, took in the fantastic products, and stretched their legs after a long day at the Merchandise Mart. Now that we’re back at the office, we drew a card for the winner of an iPad 2.
Architects against the bank. We Make Money Not Art interviewed architect Armin Blasbichler to learn more about an unusual project he conducted with 21 of his students at the University of Innsbruck. Known as “Blasbichlers Twentyone,” the project asks students to research and devise a plan to carry out a bank robbery but identified assets as an architect might, “time, space, image, future clients, electric power, etc.” Check out the associated publication for diagrams and detailed plans of attack.
Opening in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Film Festival premiers Unfinished Spaces, a film portraying the lives of three architects Roberto Gottardi, Ricardo Porro, and Vittorio Garratti as they finally return to Cuba to see what has come of their designs for schools of the arts. Also included in the film, intimate footage of Fidel Castro.
Design & art direction accolades. The annual D&AD awards have been announced. Creative Review highlights some of the winning graphics and packaging designs, like Yves Behar’s Clever Little Bag for Puma and Troika’s V&A Palindrome sign. Be sure to also note the award to architect Carmody Groarke for temporary roof restaurant Studio East Dining.
James Franco, curator edition. Collaborative art firm Praxis pairs up with James Franco for the launch of the Museum of Non-Visible Art. As Mediabistro notes, the team has managed to raise most of their funds through a Kickstarter project that offers an incentive to collaborate with the artists. Perhaps this “museum of ideas” will formalize beyond conceptual art in space, but without imagination it simply won’t exist.
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Michael C. McMillen: Train of Thought
Oakland Museum of California
1000 Oak Street, Oakland
Through August 16
The Oakland Museum of California’s new exhibit looks at four decades of work by Michael C. McMillen, a California-based mixed-media artist. Curated by Philip Linhares, who is also a long-time collaborator of McMillen’s, the retrospective includes sculptures, tableaus, paintings, drawings, films, and large-scale installations. Found objects have long played an important part in McMillen’s work since childhood, when he began crafting toys for himself out of old radios and other discarded items. The artist’s creations often call to mind the cinematic landscapes of a Hollywood picture, somewhat appropriate given that he once worked making miniatures, like the motel model above, and props for films, including such sci-fi classics as Blade Runner and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. McMillen often uses architectural references and clever visual cues to transport viewers into an altered reality. He wants viewers to “come away from the experience seeing the world in a slightly different way,” McMillen said in an artist’s statement.
Last week the New York chapter of the AIGA held its second annual “Fresh Blood” event, featuring top graduating students from design programs across the region. Ten students were given five minutes each to dazzle the crowd at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn with presentations related to their thesis research. Scott Stowell, the evening’s MC, kept things lively, peppering the students with questions about their work and cracking jokes that stoked school rivalries.
All the presentations were excellent, but here are a few that we just can’t stop talking about:
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Molded gypsum shapes a Chicago Merchandise Mart space.
The Steelcase Worklife Center is one of the Chicago Merchandise Mart’s largest showrooms, spanning 45,000 square feet and encompassing four areas displaying the furniture manufacturers’ various brands. The company hired Los Angeles-based architect Joey Shimoda, who also designed the Steelcase center in Santa Monica, to create interiors that would unify the showroom with the common corridor bisecting it. After reading about a project by molded gypsum, concrete, and fiberglass fabricator Formglas in a magazine, he called the company and was on a plane to its Toronto headquarters the next day to discuss a series of geometric architectural elements he envisioned for the space.
Los Angeles is gearing up for a two week, citywide celebration of design in its first ever edition of the L.A. Design Festival. (Ticket giveaway details at the end of the post!) The ladf, which launched last night, features an overwhelming number of events (more than 20!), including the Dwell on Design Conference (June 24-26), the AIA/LA Design Conference (June 24), A+D Museum’s Come In! 2 (June 14-July 24) tours of Richard Neutra’s VDL House (June 18 and 25) and Kanner Architects’ new Lafayette Park Rec Center (tonight), and a load of panels and parties, including Design for Demographics, which investigates how our changing population is influencing the design process. And don’t miss this highlight: Silver Lake non-profit Materials & Applications is staging a provocative look inside some of LA’s more daring design firms this weekend. The self-guided Summer Series—which also doubles as a fundraiser for M&A’s future installations—includes tours inside the creative spaces of past and future collaborators with the organization, like Ball Nogues Studio, Oyler Wu Collaborative, LOHA and the Office of Mobile Design.
Major in Glasgow. The Guardian reveals images of Zaha Hadid‘s new Riverside Museum in Glasgow, which highlights the machinery, technology, and history of transportation. Pictured above, the museum reflects the shipyard structures on its grounds. The Guardian‘s Jonathan Glancey writes, “Riverside blends into the climate and culture of Glasgow and its riverscape, feeling like part of its great flow of architecture and history.”
How to be quick. With the new East River ferry, which will be the fastest way to make it to work? To be sure, the Gothamist conducted a commuter race. The ferry was a lovely time to rest but a bit of a steep investment, biking a slightly more dangerous route, while the subway remained the quickest method, getting one commuter to work not only on time but with two minutes to spare.
Making Space. SF streets blog shares a new project generously offered to the city by Audi, announcing more to come for San Francisco pedestrians. The Powell Street promenade will bring public space to the commercial downtown, part of a set of P2P (Pavement to Parks) projects to create green space in major cities including San Francisco, Chicago, and New York.
The Rome Prize. The Rome Prize fellowship for architecture goes to Lonn Combs. The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute professor and principal at New York based firm EASTON+COMBS will take the upcoming year to continue to explore the work of Italian architect Pier Luigi Nervi. Congratulazioni!
Yesterday that National Trust for Historic Preservation announced Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital had made its annual 11 Most Endangered List, bringing national attention to the fight to save the quatrefoil-plan, concrete building. Also yesterday, the local group Save Prentice staged a rally outside the building featuring speakers including Zurich Esposito of the Chicago AIA and Jim Peters from Landmarks Illinois.
We tried the new East River Ferry service this week and found some of the best views of the biggest projects in town. Though many of the renderings in circulation for developments like Domino Sugar Factory and Hunters Point show views from the river-front perspective, it’s rare that you actually get to see the sites from that angle–until now. We decided to give the ferry service a test-run to check out the viability of getting from an office in downtown Manhattan, such as ours on Murray Street, to Brooklyn and Queens, then completed the loop by heading back the 34th Street terminal.
David Hertz’s 747 House in Malibu— literally made from the wings and fuselage of a a retired 747— is not quite done (it’s residents are moving in now). But we’ve been able to get a few pictures of the house from photographer Sara Jane Boyers, who has been documenting the project since June 2008. Hertz obtained the 747 for $50,000, and has used every bit of it in the construction of the main residence and six ancillary structures (note the wing roofs and the engine fountain, for starters). Besides the obvious green-ness of being recycled from an airplane, the house also uses Solar power, radiant heating and natural ventilation. Enjoy these pix and stay tuned for more as the house finishes up.
Sotheby’s Wants to Open… a Farmer’s Market: In an unlikely move, the auction house is proposing a youth-run farmer’s market in front of its Upper East Side headquarters, after a sale of heirloom produce raised $100,000 for non-profits last year. The plan went before the community board this week, and DNAinfo reports: “Some were supportive of the small-scale event that would bring fresh food to the area… Others were more skeptical and wanted to know where the kids manning the stand on between East 71st and 72nd streets — on Sept. 6, 13, 20 and 27 — and the produce would be coming from.”
Camping in New York… City: The National Parks Service announced plans to turn Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennet Field, a decommissioned airport once used by Amelia Earhart, into the country’s largest urban campground. Ninety camp sites have been planned for the next two years, with as many as 600 in the future. Floyd Bennet Field already has occasional summer camping nights, which the NYTimes Frugal Traveler tried out for $20 last year.
How IBM Re-Defined Corporate Architecture: Big Blue celebrates its 100th anniversary this week, and Network World takes a look at the company’s greatest architectural gems. The company hired some of the biggest names, including Eero Saarinen, Charles and Ray Eames, Paul Rand, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, to design its modernist offices and later suburban corporate campuses. Martin Moeller at the National Building Museum calls IBM the “vanguard” in using buildings to express corporate identity.
America’s Dirtiest Cities: Travel and Leisure just released its list of worst offenders. New Orleans, Philadelphia and Los Angeles top the list. Readers chose the “winners” based on litter, air pollution, and the taste of local tap water, in the magazine’s annual America’s Favorite Cities survey.