Today’s News - Thursday, May 24, 2018
EDITOR'S NOTE: A special Biennale di Venezia section today makes us molto triste (all the more sad) that we're not there! In the meantime, tomorrow and Monday will be no-newsletter days - we'll be back Tuesday, May 29
● ANN feature: Author and curator Clearwater is quite taken with "Appearances & Disappearances," showcasing Mazinani and Khayyat at NYC's North of History gallery, that erases the distance of time and place by bringing us face-to-face with the violence of the two women's past, which shapes their present - as well as our own.
● Kuma makes clear that, "despite its price tag," the £80.1 million V&A Dundee "will prove value for money" (and criticizes architects like Gehry and Foster "for designing buildings that satisfied their egos").
● Massengale visits four European cities that "build streets for people," offering lessons that American cities should heed - walking should be "the new driving."
● Speck offers his vision for Riverside station in Newton, Massachusetts, that is an ideal site for "planning goals of smart growth, transit-oriented development, walkability, and housing attainability."
● More is not necessarily better when it comes to lighting cities, and "lighting designers are fighting back on behalf of darkness and night - we ought to let night be night."
● Fairs flies through Dezeen's new documentary "Elevation" that explores "both the positive and negative implications of a future when drones are as 'ubiquitous as pigeons'" - with link to (the rather scary) trailer.
● On a brighter note, PBS premieres "Great Performances: The Opera House," a documentary that "surveys the Metropolitan Opera House's rich history and a time of great change for New York City," when "Robert Moses, the unstoppable city planner, bulldozed an entire neighborhood," and Wallace Harrison's "quest for architectural glory was never fully realized."
● Owen Hopkins, curator at Sir John Soane's Museum, now hosting "The Return of the Past: Postmodernism in British Architecture," parses "why postmodern architecture is making a comeback. What was once maligned, vilified, and written off as the cultural embodiment of everything that was wrong with 1980s, is now, remarkably, undergoing a critical reassessment" (great read).
● Foster co-curates a retrospective at the Triennale di Milano, "Osvaldo Borsani": "Borsani may have died over 30 years ago, but the Italian modernist architect is definitely having a moment" (lots of great images!).
Oh, to be in La Serenissima per La Biennale di Venezia!
● Sean Griffiths pens a must-read, pondering "is the era of the architect-personality finally coming to an end? And should we care? Today, the architect's role often amounts to little more than window-dressing for marketing purposes" (Szacka's "Exhibiting the Postmodern: The 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale" is a must-read "brilliant book").
● Frearson has a great Q&A with Biennale curators Farrell and McNamara, who "urge architects to be optimistic about the importance of their work"; they're "using the Venice Biennale to celebrate the gifts that architects give for free, such as the public spaces."
● Mairs parses five "topics likely to dominate conversation" at the Biennale, ranging from "lessons from social housing" to "how sex can shape a city" and "walls that create segregation."
● Kamin parses Chicagoans (and others) takes on "Dimensions of Citizenship": "Watch out, Donald Trump! The U.S. pavilion takes aim at the 'us' and 'them' mentality behind the president's" border wall.
● Loos's take on the U.S. Pavilion: 7 exhibits "reach to the cosmos for inspiration" to "explore what it means to be a citizen of the universe."
● Wainwright wonders: "Will this three-storey slice of British brutalism" [the "salvaged chunk of Robin Hood Gardens"] be the toast of Venice? Once its death warrant had been signed, wasn't it better to preserve a bit of it in some form? This is the charged debate that visitors to the Biennale will be forced to consider."
● Heathcote hails the Irish Pavilion's "Free Market" that "concentrates on the slow death of the Irish town square. There is no grandstanding, no suggestion that radical architects could come in and solve everything - an entreaty to architects to think beyond their own shape- and myth-making."
● Bernstein explains why the Vatican is making an appearance at Biennale: The Church "saw its participation as 'another step towards healing the rift between the spiritual and the secular'" - the 10 small chapels by international architects "will be moved to Italian towns damaged in earthquakes."
● Lang takes a long look at "just how far Szacka's provocative book, 'Exhibiting the Postmodern: the 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale,' has permeated our consciousness" and how the 1980 edition "transformed architectural discourse."
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Bonnie Clearwater: Scenes from a Distance: Sanaz Mazinani and Rola Khayyat at North of History, New York: "Appearances & Disappearances" erases the distance of time and place by bringing us face-to-face with the violence of the two women's past, which shapes their present - as well as our own.- ArchNewsNow.com
Kengo Kuma says £80.1 million V&A Dundee will prove value for money: ...despite its price tag...he hopes the V&A will inspire an entirely new approach to architecture...criticised architects like Frank Gehry, who designed the Maggie’s Centre in Dundee, and Norman Foster, for designing buildings that, he said, satisfied their egos. Instead, he wanted to create an iconic building that also has “the modesty and humbleness of nature.”- The Courier (Scotland)
John Massengale:There Are Better Ways to Get Around Town: New York and other American cities should look to Europe for ideas about solving the urban traffic and safety crisis: I’ve visited four of the cities with the most innovative street designs: London, Stockholm, Amsterdam and Copenhagen...Everyone reading this grew up in the age of the automobile, but in Manhattan and many other cities and towns...walking is the new driving, and we’re ready for something different...as long as we build streets that encourage people to drive into the city...we will never get to zero deaths. Our streets are safer, but they’re not safe...European cities show that if we build streets for people, we will get better places for everyone.- New York Times
Jeff Speck: A vision for Riverside station, Newton, Massachusetts: ...location...makes the site ideal for...planning goals of smart growth, transit-oriented development, walkability, housing attainability...But to meet these goals, it must be designed as a mixed-use, walkable neighborhood of a density appropriate to the terminus of an important streetcar line. [images]- Village 14 (Newton, Massachusetts)
Can Designers Combat Light Pollution by Embracing Darkness? In our over-lit cities, lighting designers are fighting back on behalf of darkness and night - not to mention public space and urban vitality: ...our cities have been consistently over-illuminated, driven by a misguided assumption that when it comes to lighting, more is necessarily better...The arguments of the “less is more” wing of the lighting profession are bolstered by environmental concerns about light pollution and disruption to ecosystems...we ought to let night be night. -- Suzan Tillotson/Tillotson Design Associates; International Dark-Sky Association; Diller Scofidio + Renfro; Leni Schwendinger; Santa & Cole [images]- Metropolis Magazine
Marcus Fairs: Drones are "potentially as disruptive as the internet" according to Dezeen's new documentary "Elevation": ...explores the impact autonomous flying vehicles will have on our lives, and discusses both the positive and negative implications of a future when drones are as "ubiquitous as pigeons." -- Liam Young; Norman Foster/Foster + Partners; Anab Jain/Superflux; Paul Priestman/PriestmanGoode; Mark Dytham/Klein Dytham Architecture; Hans Ulrich Obrist; Clemens Weisshaar/Kram/Weisshaar; etc. [link to trailer]- Dezeen
Great Performances: The Opera House: new documentary by...filmmaker Susan Froemke...surveys a remarkable period of the Metropolitan Opera House’s rich history and a time of great change for New York City...chronicles the creation of the Met’s storied Lincoln Center home...Robert Moses, the unstoppable city planner who bulldozed an entire neighborhood...and Wallace Harrison, whose quest for architectural glory was never fully realized...premieres Friday, May 25 at 9 p.m. on PBS and will be available to stream the following day...- PBS
Owen Hopkins/Sir John Soane's Museum: Why postmodern architecture is making a comeback: We see it in the slew of books and articles...in the campaigns to save some of its greatest landmarks...We are even seeing a number of contemporary architects and designers taking inspiration from its garish colors and outlandish decorative schemes...What was once maligned...vilified...and written off as the cultural embodiment of everything that was wrong with 1980s, is now, remarkably, undergoing a critical reassessment...After decades of being mute, architecture was allowed to speak again through color, ornament, decoration...before eventually succumbing to bad taste, kitsch and, ultimately, rejection...That we can love styles as diametrically opposed as Brutalism and postmodernism is itself a very postmodern thing, and perhaps evidence of its ultimate triumph. "The Return of the Past: Postmodernism in British Architecture" thru August 27 -- Philip Johnson John Burgee; James Stirling; John Outram; MVRDV; ARM; Caruso St John; Terry Farrell; Jeremy Dixon; CZWG; Charles Jencks; Enric Miralles [images]- CNN Style
Norman Foster co-curates retrospective of Italian modernist master Osvaldo Borsani: He may have died over 30 years ago, but the Italian modernist architect is definitely having a moment..."Osvaldo Borsani," a comprehensive retrospective which celebrates the genius of the architect, designer and founder of the Tecno furniture brand at the Triennale di Milano...Such an all-encompassing survey should guarantee Borsani’s legacy for sometime to come. thru September 16 -- Tommaso Fantoni [images]- Wallpaper*
Sean Griffiths: Architects are not really required for the nitty gritty of actual building any more: ...is the era of the architect-personality finally coming to an end? And should we care? Architecture is under siege, say Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara...And of course, they're right...Today, the architect's role often amounts to little more than window-dressing for marketing purposes...it is perhaps ironic...that they find themselves curating the most famous of architecture's myriad biennales, whose main purpose seems to be to perpetuate a form of architectural culture that pays far more attention to who is showing than it does to what is shown...The very first Biennale, in 1980, was structured around...almost exclusively male, architects of the day, the story of which is told by Léa-Catherine Szacka in her brilliant book "Exhibiting the Postmodern: The 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale."- Dezeen
Amy Frearson: Architects can make a big impact "at a very small scale" say Grafton Architects founders: Architects can't solve the world's problems, but they can still make a significant impact, say Venice Architecture Biennale directors Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara...they urge architects to be optimistic about the importance of their work...[They] are using the Venice Biennale to celebrate the gifts that architects give for free, such as the public spaces..."Freespace" manifesto calls for "generosity of spirit"... [Q&A]- Dezeen
Jessica Mairs: Five key topics for the Venice Architecture Biennale 2018: ...some of the topics likely to dominate conversation...Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects...selected the theme "Freespace, to encourage architects to explore how "a generosity of spirit and a sense of humanity" can contribute to the built environment. Lessons from social housing; How sex can shape a city; Walls that create segregation; Religious spaces in the 21st century; The role of the European Union. -- Alison and Peter Smithson; Gino Valle; Andrés Jaque; Diller Scofidio + Renfro; Norman Foster; Eduardo Souto de Moura; Teronobu Fujimori; Caruso St John Architects- Dezeen
Blair Kamin: Chicago in Venice: A first look at the U.S. pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale: Watch out, Donald Trump! ...the U.S. pavilion, shaped for the first time by Chicagoans, takes aim at the “us” and “them” mentality behind the president’s proposed wall along the border with Mexico... “Dimensions of Citizenship"...provides a platform for designers to envision spaces and structures fit for a world where technological, economic and social change runs in perpetual overdrive...The pavilion suggests an old-fashioned, civics textbook kind of citizenship. Not so the seven ideas on display outside and inside. -- Amanda Williams/ Andres L. Hernandez; Studio Gang; Scape; Teddy Cruz + Fonna Forman; Diller Scofidio + Renfro/Laura Kurgan/Robert Gerard Pietrusko; Keller Easterling; Design Earth [images]- Chicago Tribune
Ted Loos: Creators of Architectural Exhibits Reach To the Cosmos for Inspiration: At the Venice Architecture Biennale, seven exhibits explore what it means to be a citizen of the universe: United States Pavilion...exhibition “Dimensions of Citizenship”...address the topic on levels ranging from the individual to the universe itself. -- Ann Lui/Future Firm; Mimi Zeiger; Niall Atkinson; Amanda Williams/Andres L. Hernandez/Shani Crowe; Studio Gang; Diller Scofidio + Renfro/Laura Kurgan/Robert Gerard Pietrusko; Keller Easterling; El Hadi Jazairy/Rania Ghosn/Design Earth- New York Times
Oliver Wainwright: Will this three-storey slice of British brutalism be the toast of Venice? It was meant to spark a high-rise revolution. But it ended up as rubble. Is this salvaged chunk of Robin Hood Gardens, about to be unveiled at the Venice Biennale, all that’s left of bold social housing in Britain? "Ruins in Reverse"...will be a bittersweet presence at the Biennale...a fragile relic of a council housing ideal long since trampled by successive British governments....once [its] death warrant had been signed, wasn’t it better to preserve a bit of it in some form? This is the charged debate that visitors to the Biennale will be forced to consider. -- Alison and Peter Smithson (1972); Victoria and Albert Museum; Liza Fior/Muf- Guardian (UK)
Edwin Heathcote: Venice Biennale of Architecture: the future of public space: In an age of global chain stores, how can we reimagine the old town square? “Freespace"...a brief vague enough to embrace all architects who believe their work is a contribution to the city...all architecture has an impact, positive or negative, on the public realm...an entreaty to architects to think beyond their own shape- and myth-making...it’s intriguing that the Irish pavilion ["Free Market"]...concentrates on the slow death of the Irish town square...There is no grandstanding, no suggestion that radical architects could come in and solve everything. -- Shelley McNamara/Yvonne Farrell/Grafton [images]- Financial Times (UK)
Fred A. Bernstein: Why the Vatican Is Showing at the Venice Biennale: The Church has enlisted several architects in a project that bridges religion and design: ...saw its participation...as “another step towards healing the rift between the spiritual and the secular”...had 10 international architects design small chapels, which have been erected on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, and which will later be moved to Italian towns damaged in earthquakes. -- Francesco Dal Co; Norman Foster; Eduardo Souto de Moura; Andrew Berman- Architectural Digest
Peter Lang: How the 1980 Venice Biennale transformed architectural discourse: One of the first questions raised about this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale, “Freespace,” is whether this exhibition has anything in common with previous editions...It does not come as a surprise that references to [the] 1980 Biennale are already being made. Indeed, one wonders just how far Lea-Catherine Szacka’s provocative book, "Exhibiting the Postmodern: the 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale," has permeated our consciousness...a comprehensive assessment of "The Presence of the Past"...would turn out to be a game-changer...also connects to Kenneth Frampton... [images]- The Architect's Newspaper
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