Foster + Partners likes to think of itself as a high-design firm with glamorous projects all over the world. But the banal rendering accompanying this week’s announcement of a new 19-story, “luxury” residential tower, 551 West 21 Street, belies their design skills. Could it be that they have a two-tier design strategy in their office where glamorous cultural institutions get “Sir Norman” and commercial towers get, well, something less?
When London-based Two Islands took first place in Flint, Michigan’s first Flat Lot Competition for public art, images of their floating, mirror-clad meditation on the foreclosure crisis turned heads. Six months later the project has been built, but it faced challenges and has drawn criticism making the leap from rendering to reality.
Two Polls Indicate the Disposition of Harris County Voters Regarding $217 Million Astrodome Bond Fund
The Houston Chronicle is reporting that two recent polls have given clues as to how the denizens of Harris County will vote in the matter of approving $217 million in bonds to fund the reuse of the Astrodome. Previously, the Harris County Commissioners Court set the matter of the bond fund to a November 5 referendum. If voters approve the fund, the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation will be able to proceed with its plans to create a New Dome Experience in time for Superbowl LI in 2017. Harris County property tax will also experience a slight hike to pay for it all. If voters oppose the issue, the Astrodome will in all likelihood meet the wrecking ball. Either way, entrants to AN and YKK AP‘s Reimagine The Astrodome competition will be watching with bated breath.
The 32nd Street corridor at Drexel University in Philadelphia has become a hub for student gatherings, interaction, and events. Situated between Chestnut and Market Streets in the campus center, the corridor’s current design, however, does not serve the social and functional needs of its college population. In March, landscape architecture firm Andropogon released primary renderings and plans for a complete redesign of the space now known as Perelman Plaza. In August, more comprehensive images were revealed, and now the project is underway. Two weeks ago, Andropogon broke ground in Phase One on the site, razing the existing awkwardly angled hardscape to begin construction of a practical design for the coexistence of human traffic and nature.
AB 630, a bill that ensures that no one can use an architect’s “instruments of service” (i.e. plans, drawings, schematics) without his or her written permission, recently passed the California legislature without a single no vote. The bill passed the Assembly 78-0 and the State Senate 37-0. But now architects are getting nervous, since governor Jerry Brown has not decided whether he will sign it.
Join the Institute for Public Architecture for its First Annual Fall Fête, honoring Kenneth Frampton, Ware Professor of Architecture, Columbia University, and Mathew M. Wambua, Commissioner, New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (Mar. 2011-Sept. 2013). On October 16 the organization will bring together a lively group of architects, developers, artists, public officials, designers, and writers for a cocktail party and auction, benefitting the IPA. The Fall Fête will be held at the spectacular Tribeca home of Francesca and Stephen Corelli (6 to 8 pm), with an after-party at the Shigeru Ban-designed Metal Shutter Houses (8:30 pm). The IPA is a new organization supporting socially engaged architecture. For Fall Fête tickets and information, please visit http://the-ipa.org/event/fall-fete-2013/.
For 2 weeks, two exhibitions in NY about Corbusier overlapped. In addition to the MoMA retrospective that closed on September 23, Amie Siegel’s Provenance at the Simon Preston Gallery on the LES (through October 6) examines a rather different slice: from the point of view of the furniture created for Chandigarh, the Indian planned city of the 1950s.
The film that forms the core of this installation travels in reverse, de- and re-contexualizing the objects. It starts with Chandigarh chairs, settees, and tables in their new homes in the West from apartments to lofts to townhouses and even yachts seen in slow tracking shots and lockoffs by cinematographer Christine A. Maier. These are perfectly crafted interiors that are pristine, light, airy, signaling the curated good life as seen in Architectural Digest. Peeking out are the inventory numbers, like a Holocaust tattoo or cattle branding. Does it give the furniture a limited-edition cache? The pieces are like adopted children who have been lucky enough to be given a new life, but they are out of their native culture and are isolated from their tribe. Even in their new surroundings with other treasures, one can always pick out the Corbusier piece, with the sharply angled forms—triangles are a distinct feature—and geometric planes, even in their new clothes of reupholstered checks, squares and luxury leather. Questions about preservation, neglect, restoration, reinterpretation, and fetishism arise.
On Friday night at Riverfront Studios, motion-picture soundstages on 3 acres of East River waterfront between the Williamsburg Bridge and the Navy Yard, the newest art project by Doug Aitken called Station to Station was launched. Aitken did the “destruction” of Gallery 303 last year, Creative Time’s Broken Screen Happening at the Essex Street Market and Sleepwalkers projected on the wall of MoMA’s Sculpture Garden.
On the site of the former Schaefer Brewery, spotted in the crowd was Agnes Gund, Klaus Biesenbach, Chrissie Iles, Roxana Marcoci, Linda Yablonsky, Lisa Phillips and other art world luminaries. This event marked the inaugural nomadic “Happening” that moves in an Aitken-designed train from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Coast stopping at nine different locations each time for a one-night-only live event in September. The scene was set for live performances that included a colorful site-specific smoke bomb installation by Olaf Breuning; food happening created by artist Rirkrit Tiravanija; and an original performance choreographed by Jonah Bokaer inspired by Robert Rauschenberg’s Pelican (1963) on the occasion of work’s 50th anniversary and more.
In 1913, the 69th Regiment Armory in Manhattan hosted what was then considered the most shocking art exhibition the public had ever seen. The International Exhibition of Modern Art, which came to be called The Armory Show, introduced modern European art to an East Coast audience. A showcase of -ism art movements then in development and exploration by artists now considered masters of their craft, the event was transgressive; it induced backlash from several publications and from former President Theodore Roosevelt who commented that “the lunatic fringe was fully in evidence.”
Yet, even in his blatant dislike of the artworks displayed, President Roosevelt admitted the importance of the show’s existence, its revelation of the European “art forces that cannot be ignored.” This Saturday, September 28, in a centennial homage of the show that shocked the American world, the Architectural League of New York is hosting their annual Beaux Arts Ball in the same venue. Taking inspiration from a space originally meant for National Guard trainings and military activities, the ball will work with and within the great hall to transform its appearance, shockingly. (And tickets are on sale now!)