Today’s News - Thursday, February 27, 2020
EDITOR'S NOTE: Tomorrow and Monday will be no-newsletter days. We'll be back Tuesday, March 3.
● Waite reports that, despite the coronavirus, MIPIM will "go ahead as scheduled" in Cannes in two weeks - the event has "increased its hygiene measures," but "on social media, there appeared to be growing unease about attending the fair."
● Kamin calls on Chicago's "aesthetic busybodies" to stop attempts "to restrict free speech" in Millennium Park, and cheers a federal judge who "rightly blasted the city's restrictions and issued a preliminary injunction."
● On a brighter note, in Palo Alto, California, "a daughter's disability" and the "ingenuity" of "two enterprising women started a movement that's poised to go global" - the Magical Bridge playground that values "all members of a community equally" has already appeared in Davos and the Cooper Hewitt.
● King offers "short and mostly sweet snapshot critiques" of 7 new additions to the Bay Area's urban landscape.
● As San Francisco's Golden Gate Park gears up for its 150th anniversary, "a range of park lovers, from the chiefs of top institutions to people with dirt under their fingernails," offer "their vision of the park's future."
● Rahul Mehrotra is appointed Chair of Harvard GSD's Department of Urban Planning and Design and Professor in Housing and Urbanization - "he hopes to bring a renewed focus to the intersections between design and planning programs."
● ICYMI: ANN feature: Bloszies' Left Coast Reflections #6: Charrette: The word has evolved and taken on a new meaning. Some Beaux-Arts terms have retained their original meanings - "atelier" is often used as a pretentious substitute for office.
Just when you thought it was safe to go outside - yet more thumbs-ups and -downs for the "Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again":
● Salingaros: The "incredibly nasty fight," "extreme polarization," and "unfortunate tone" re: the proposed executive order "is leading to greater distance rather than conciliation. It is very important to settle the issue in an intelligent, not ideological manner. A scientific resolution circumvents the present polemics."
● Speaking of science, Chatterjee, an MD and Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, reports on his research into and his "findings on the psychological and neural responses to architectural interiors - people's experience of beauty of these interiors was correlated with neural activity."
● Rosenblum: "I have done academic research in classical architecture. So when the style elicited national debate, I hoped for a happier discussion than the one we have gotten - the 'classical: good; modern: bad' correlation would seem simply dumb and outdated today were it not still chillingly evil."
● Cohen: "On one level, this proposed executive order is sensible. In a world of brutalism and ugliness, why not invest in the grace and elegance? Why not believe in beauty? The problem is that it leaves little room for variety, novelty, or originality" and "smacks of authoritarianism."
● Davidson re: "Countryside, the Future," Koolhaas's "romp" at the Guggenheim: "This is what you might get if you asked a celebrated European philosopher-architect to reinvent the Iowa State Fair" - reading hundreds of speculative questions "is like hanging around an 8-year-old with a sugar high and a Ph.D. - the perfect representation of hogwash masquerading as reason" (ouch!).
● Abrahams: "By opening an exhibition about the countryside in the heart of Manhattan, Koolhaas has been judged by a jury of his inferiors of both having his cake and eating it. He's been on thin ice for a while," but "at some point we are going to have to accept that he has a point" that would be a mistake to ignore.
● Gorlin: "Countryside, The Future" is "a torrent of words, images, and artifacts. This hot mess of a show is at once provocative, fascinating, enraging, disturbing, barely hopeful, and contradictory" (farmer Barbie dolls and "a robust gift shop" included).
● Belogolovsky sees "Countryside, The Future" as "a warning. What Koolhaas is really worried about is that architects have lost their control in the cities and there is now evidence that the countryside can be developed without them as well. He wants to challenge that and save the profession in the process."
● Meanwhile at MoMA, Keh calls "Neri Oxman: Material Ecology" a "compelling retrospective of the scientist's 20-year career - the breadth of her work has not been easy to quantify, that is until now."
● "Villages of West Africa," opening today at San Francisco's Center for Architecture + Design, presents over 500 "evocative photographs" by Steven and Cathi House of House + House Architects that celebrate "the artisanship of indigenous people who use building methods that are both practical and ingenious and that respond to the needs of the inhabitants with poetic insight."
● Theodore cheers Jean-Louis Cohen's "Building a new New World" at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, an "elegant" show that "covers design writ large to examine the cultural, political, economic and, sometimes, architectural, relations between America and Russia over the last two centuries."
● Budds cheers "Radical Italian Design: 1965-1985, The Dennis Freedman Collection" at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, that puts the spotlight on the designers who "fought consumerism, inequality, and sexism through furniture and design - much of it speaks to the same social and political turbulence that we're experiencing today."
● "Gae Aulenti: A Creative Universe" at the Vitra Design Museum puts the spotlight on "one of the women who - alongside Cini Boeri and Nanda Vigo - made a significant contribution to the myth of Italian design."
● Brown parses PBS's new documentary "Hollywood's Architect: The Paul R. Williams Story" that "highlights his remarkable career and the obstacles he faced" (and why drew upside down).
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Richard Waite: Coronavirus: MIPIM will ‘go ahead as scheduled’, say organisers: The annual international property fair in south-east France, will go ahead [in Cannes March 10-13] despite concerns over the spread of coronavirus across Europe...MIPIM director Ronan Vaspart said the event had increased its hygiene measures...on social media, there appeared to be growing unease about attending the fair...- The Architects' Journal (UK)
Blair Kamin: Millennium Park isn’t an art gallery - it’s a park. So the city should stop its attempt to restrict free speech there: It is indeed a new kind of town square - one where aesthetic busybodies from the city of Chicago and the foundation that supports the park are trying to severely limit the time-honored right to free speech in public spaces...U.S. District Judge...rightly blasted the city’s restrictions and issued a preliminary injunction...the city and foundation contend that [it] should have different free speech rules than the rest of Grant Park...allowing people to leaflet, evangelize or demonstrate...seriously disrupts its character as a “space of refuge” from the surrounding city. All that is plainly ludicrous.- Chicago Tribune
A daughter's disability. A mother's ingenuity. And the playground that's launching a revolution: How two enterprising women started a movement that's poised to go global: Since the Magical Bridge opened [in 2015], it has gained attention..including at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in 2019 [and] at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum's "Access+Ability" exhibition...Olenka Villarreal and...Jill Hoffspiegel Asher...see playgrounds not as islands, but as the clarion calls in a movement for valuing all members of a community equally...ADA rules only required "accessibility" and not the actual usability of the playground equipment. -- Peter Jensen/Groundswell Design- Palo Alto Weekly (California)
John King: Seven urban landscape features you can’t ignore: The Bay Area’s ongoing boom continues to bring new buildings and spaces...a tour of those that deserve some extra attention: Alterations to skylines or familiar streets can bring pleasure or dismay, as well as surprise...7 snapshot critiques of fresh additions to our landscape. Short and mostly sweet... -- Lisa Iwamoto/IwamotoScott Architecture; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM); Fougeron Architecture; Hornberger + Worstell architects; Emily Rylander/Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture; VTBS Architects- San Francisco Chronicle
Golden Gate Park is Turning 150. Here’s What Park People Want Next: To start the celebration, we ask how we can improve our city’s crown jewel for next generations. Some of the answers (a pickleball court!) might surprise you: There’s a big celebration on April 4, the park’s actual birthday...we’ve asked a range of park lovers, from the chiefs of top institutions to people with dirt under their fingernails, for their vision of the park’s future. -- Phil Ginsburg/SF Recreation & Parks Department; Thomas Campbell/Fine Arts Museums of SF; Amber Hasselbring/Nature in the City; Drew Becher/SF Parks Alliance- The Frisc (San Francisco)
Rahul Mehrotra Appointed Chair of Harvard Graduate School of Design’s Department of Urban Planning and Design: ...also appointed the John T. Dunlap Professor in Housing and Urbanization at the GSD...succeeding Urban Design Professor Alex Krieger...He is also the founder of the firm RMA Architects, based in Boston and Mumbai...he hopes to bring a renewed focus to the intersections between design and planning programs.- The Harvard Crimson
Nikos Salingaros: If Science Truly Won, The Era Of Modernist Architecture Would Be Over: Perhaps we are at a ‘Sputnik moment,’ when we finally realize how anti-scientific the business of building the living habitat has become: ...an incredibly nasty fight...revolves around a proposed executive order...a re-orientation towards more classical and traditional styles of design as an antidote to this expensive ugliness...extreme polarization...unfortunate tone is leading to greater distance rather than conciliation...It is very important to settle the issue in an intelligent, not ideological manner...A scientific resolution...circumvents the present polemics...Unfortunately, dominant architectural culture either ignores these findings, or attempts to misuse them.- The Federalist
Anjan Chatterjee MD, FAAN: How the Brain Responds to Architecture: Architects are making forays into discussing neuroscientific applications to their craft...Is it possible to conduct a neuroscience of architecture, and frame these ideas experimentally? As an example of experimental neuroarchitecture...our findings on the psychological and neural responses to architectural interiors...we showed that people’s experience of beauty of these interiors was correlated with neural activity...showing that the aesthetic experience of architectural interiors draws on the same reward systems that are associated with the pleasure we experience in gazing at beautiful faces [and] satisfying primary appetites such as food and sex.- Psychology Today
Charles Rosenblum: Trump's 'Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again' undermines exactly what makes architecture beautiful in the first place - its diversity: I have done academic research in classical architecture...So when the style elicited national debate...I hoped for a happier discussion than the one we have gotten...the “classical: good; modern: bad” correlation...would seem simply dumb and outdated today were it not still chillingly evil...architects need to battle back...The government should mandate all kinds of things in federal architecture, and it does...But it must not silence expertise or wield any kind of architecture with authoritarian tactics. -- David Insinga- Pittsburgh City Paper
Andrew Cohen: Authoritarianism, architecture and Washington power politics: The U.S. capital has a consistency...that defies age and exudes authority. But it shouldn't snuff out artistic creativity: On one level, this proposed executive order is sensible. In a world of brutalism and ugliness, why not invest in the grace and elegance...Why not believe in beauty? That’s one way of looking at it: an effort to resist the ugliness of modernism...The problem with [“Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again"] is that it leaves little room for variety, novelty or originality...smacks of authoritarianism. -- National Civic Art Society- The London Free Press (Canada)
Justin Davidson: Farm Livin’ Is the Life for Me, Ja? Rem Koolhaas Tries Out Country Life: Welcome to “Countryside, the Future”: This is what you might get if you asked a celebrated European philosopher-architect to reinvent the Iowa State Fair. No mess, no smells, just acres of color printouts, cryptic homilies...a couple of pesticide-spraying drones...hundreds of speculative questions...Reading them is like hanging around an 8-year-old with a sugar high and a Ph.D...doesn’t have much time for the people who sweat...the perfect representation of hogwash masquerading as reason...How frustrating that the Guggenheim couldn’t force a little more intellectual rigor on this romp. thru August 14 -- Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)- New York Magazine
Tim Abrahams: Rem Koolhaas and AMO offer a biennial of the new non-urban economy: Although guilty of priortising text over exhibit, AMO's ambitious Guggenheim exhibition "Countryside, the Future" carries some important warnings: By opening an exhibition about the countryside in the heart of Manhattan, [he] has been judged by a jury of his inferiors of both having his cake and eating it...He’s been on thin ice for a while...with [the show]...he has quite simply gone beyond the pale...[it] is certainly not an easy exhibition to love...begins inauspiciously...At some point we are going to have to accept that [he has] a point - and that we are making a mistake by ignoring them. -- OMA- Icon (UK)
Alexander Gorlin: Rem to the Rescue: "Countryside, The Future": ...at the Guggenheim Museum raises more questions than it answers: Working with lots of live ammo from AMO...his posse takes off to four continents...to study ways to save Mother Earth. The result is a torrent of words, images, and artifacts...Don’t expect any conclusions or answers, since Rem and team struggled mightily...ultimately drowning in the writhing serpents of data...This hot mess of a show is at once provocative, fascinating, enraging, disturbing, barely hopeful, and contradictory...All hell breaks loose in the political section. thru August 14 -- AMO; Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)- Architectural Record
Vladimir Belogolovsky: "Countryside, The Future" by Rem Koolhaas, Guggenheim Museum, New York City: The inexhaustible material plunges us into the world of countryside - what it used to be, what it has become, and what to expect from it in the near future...a warning - what will happen if the countryside keeps developing without architects? What he is really worried about is that architects have lost their control in the cities and there is now...evidence that the countryside can be developed without them as well. He wants to challenge that and save the profession in the process. -- Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA); Samir Bantal/AMO; Troy Conrad Therrienn- STIR (See Think Inspire Reflect)
Pei-Ru Keh: Neri Oxman on designing our own natural ecology: ...‘Material Ecology’ at Museum of Modern Art in New York, a compelling retrospective of the scientist’s 20-year career: Known for her groundbreaking research in materials, buildings and construction processes, the breadth of her work has not been easy to quantify, that is until now...The most dramatic articulation of her research is undoubtedly the show’s centrepiece, ‘Silk Pavilion II’ - a site-specific commission for the museum... "Neri Oxman: Material Ecology" at MoMA thru May 25- Wallpaper*
"Villages of West Africa: an intimate journey across time”: With over 500 evocative photographs by Steven and Cathi House of House + House Architects, this anthology of West African culture celebrates the artisanship of indigenous people who use building methods that are both practical and ingenious and that respond not just to local climate, materials, and topography, but also to the needs of the inhabitants with poetic insight, creating environments that are stimulating and sustainable. With their clarity, function, and beauty, these villages are living models of what community life can be. thru April 20- AIA San Francisco / Center for Architecture + Design
David Theodore: “Building a new New World”: ...uses design to examine the cultural, political, economic and, sometimes, architectural, relations between America and Russia over the last two centuries...Jean-Louis Cohen presents selected highlights...covers design writ large, spanning from architecture and urbanism - incorporating everything from film posters to tractors to skyscrapers...several compelling mini-scenarios, each with a simple story, striking artifacts, and captivating images...Cohen opts for description rather than causal accounts - more “what” than “how” or “why.” But the “why” is the most intriguing question. Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal, thru April 5 -- Noëmi Mollet/Reto Geiser/MG&Co.- Canadian Architect magazine
Diana Budds: The Italian radicals who imagined utopia: They fought consumerism, inequality, and sexism through furniture and design: The phrase “Made in Italy” conjures up...a sophisticated industrial aesthetic that began to be forged in the 1950s. But in the late 1960s and 1970s things got weird...kitschy, strange, and irreverent designs..."Radical Italian Design: 1965-1985, The Dennis Freedman Collection" at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston...presents some of the rarest and most eccentric furniture from the movement...much of it speaks to the same social and political turbulence that we’re experiencing today...objects were about ideas more than functionality. thru April 26- Curbed
"Gae Aulenti: A Creative Universe" at the Vitra Design Museum: [She] gained international renown for her transformation of a Parisian train station into the Musée d’Orsay...[she] encompasses not only architectural projects and design objects, but also interiors, set and costume design, as well as exhibitions...one of the women who - alongside Cini Boeri and Nanda Vigo - made a significant contribution to the myth of Italian design. thru October 11- Vitra Design Museum (Weil am Rhein, Germany)
Evan Nicole Brown: Why Paul Williams, Hollywood’s most prolific black architect, drew upside down: A new documentary [on PBS] highlights his remarkable career...and the obstacles he faced: "Hollywood’s Architect: The Paul R. Williams Story" chronicles the design work of a man who desegregated California’s architecture industry...[he] developed a style of drawing his design sketches in an inverted fashion, because it allowed him to sit across from his white clients, knowing they’d prefer to not sit next to him...speaks to the flattening many black creators feel forced to perform on themselves to take up less space, even while...doing work they’ve been sought out to do. -- Royal Kennedy Rodgers; Kathy McCampbell Vance; Karen Hudson- Fast Company
ANN feature: Charles F. Bloszies: Left Coast Reflections #6: Charrette: The word "charrette" has evolved and taken on a new meaning - one that belies its origins. In 19th-century Paris, charrettes were not at all collaborative. Some Beaux-Arts terms are still used in architectural parlance, and many have retained their original meanings - "atelier" is often used as a pretentious substitute for office.- ArchNewsNow.com
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