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!)
Dutch firm Mecanoo’s latest civic building represents a new era in library design. The new Library of Birmingham in the UK replaces the former James Hardin–designed central library, a brutalist concrete structure. The new library is a sleek expression of the evolving nature of education and learning in the 21st century. The modern, metal-clad structure houses a variety of services, including a multimedia center, two cafés, a music library, a performance space, green outdoor terraces, a shop and a gallery. The design vision is that the space will offer culture and entertainment, as well as learning and information.
Artists Dan Havel and Dean Ruck of Havel Ruck Projects have garnered attention for some interesting installation pieces in Houston, blurring the lines between art and architecture. Over the last eight years, the collaboration has constructed temporary artworks using old, wooden homes, bizarre shows of simultaneous deconstruction and reconstruction of architecture.
Inversion from 2005 recreates two wood bungalows, donated to the artists by Art League Houston, into a vortex of white wooden planks. In 2010, the Houston Art Alliance sponsored Havel Ruck Projects’s creation of Fifth Ward Jam. A wooden home doomed for refuse in Houston’s 5th Ward became an imaginative community stage of vertically spewed boards.
With only one month remaining before Facades+ PERFORMANCE opens in Chicago, our exciting lineup of the industry’s leading innovators is gearing up for an electrifying array of symposia, panels, and workshops. Be there for this groundbreaking, two-day convergence of design and construction professionals, presented by AN and Enclos, coming to Chicago, October 24-25th.
Join Chris O’Hara, founding Principal of Boulder-based Studio NYL, for his day-one symposium, “Ludicrous Speed: the Design and Delivery of Non-traditional Facades on a Fast Track,” and learn first-hand from the experts the technologies and fabrication techniques that are revolutionizing the next generation of high performance facades. Register today to redefine performance for 21st century architecture, only at Facades+ PERFORMANCE.
Across the country cities are revamping formerly industrial riverfronts. Plans are underway for Philadelphia’s Schuylkill, the Mississippi in Minneapolis, Town Branch in Lexington, and in downtown Chicago to reclaim urban rivers for mutual goals of ecology and urbanism. That hasn’t yet caught on in Youngstown, Ohio.
While it’s received a warm reception, not everyone is excited about the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County’s new Otis Booth Pavilion. The problem with the 67-foot-tall glass cube, said geographer Travis Longcore, is that it presents a fatal obstacle to the birds that the museum’s new gardens are meant to attract. As Longcore, who is an associate professor at USC as well as science director of The Urban Wildlands Group, explains, birds don’t understand architecture the way humans do. We avoid glass by attending to architectural cues, including doorways and lintels. Birds mistake glass for open air or the habitat it reflects, and often try to fly through it.