Today’s News - Thursday, April 2, 2020
EDITOR'S NOTE: Tomorrow and Monday will be no-newsletter days. We'll be back Tuesday, April 7. Stay safe…
● Moss, Mayne, Holl, Gans, and many others remember Michael Sorkin: "Michael was a character like Cervantes's Don Quixote in the best way."
● Smith's thoughtful Sorkin profile - and he talks to Paul Goldberger, "who sparred with him in the 1980s before reconciling in recent years": "He was one of the only radicals I've ever known who had a light spirit to him."
● Wagley wades into the LACMA saga: "At first, it was met with cautious optimism. But eight years later, the project has been criticized as 'uninformed' and a 'scorched-earth plan.' There is already a hole in the side of the Ahmanson Building" (project "has been deemed 'essential'" construction).
● On a brighter note, Steiner spotlights Diamond Schmitt Architects and Claude Cormier + Associés' 100-acre parcel of the 400-acre Vaughan Metropolitan Centre in Ontario - its "strong ideas about building, landscape and urban design, both on paper and constructed, are abundant."
● Dickinson laments "the unique pain of architects: letting go" of altered or demolished projects: "It never stop hurting. I should get over it. But I never will."
● McMansion Hell's Wagner's great Q&A with Andersen & Preissner, curators of "American Framing," the U.S. Pavilion at this year's Venice Biennale, re: the "broader issues of labor, democracy, and suburbia," and their "promise to explore aspects of the system other than its material attributes."
● A little eye candy never hurt (unless you think they're eyesores): Mafi brings us "12 buildings that show the beauty of deconstructed architecture, from Zaha Hadid's majestic MAXII to the stunning beauty of Frank Gehry's Vitra Design Museum."
Weekend diversions (to be enjoyed at home) + Page-turners:
● Wainwright weighs in on "Weird Sensation Feels Good" at Sweden's ArkDes (and online): "This way for brain tingles" in "a shiver-inducing exhibition of ASMRtists provoking the strangely pleasurable autonomous sensory meridian response" (who couldn't use a bit of a "brain tingle" right about now!).
● The CCA's new documentary "'What It Takes to Make a Home' considers the questions of how architects might address the intractable urban reality of homelessness, and the meaning of living without a reliable home" (featuring Hagner and Maltzan).
● AN editors' "picks for architecture-themed movies and shows to enjoy while housebound - everything from French New Wave classics to sordid 1980s thrillers to dystopian neo-noir epics to trashy (but oh-so-enjoyable) reality TV and more" (with official trailers).
● Kimmelman & historian Dolkart stroll NYC's Museum Mile that's "like Gilded Age proto-McMansions along a posh stretch of 5th Avenue" for a virtual tour "intended to be consumed at home, not on foot."
● Hilburg brings us exhilarating photos of Jacob Jonas The Company's #CamerasandDancers that "blends contemporary ballet with breakdancing and acrobatics to draw attention to" to stunning architecture of notable institutions that "has taken on a new poignancy at a time when most, if not all, are now closed."
● Wainwright talks to landscape architect Julia Watson re: "Lo-TEK: Design by Radical Indigenism," featuring "tree-bridges and fish that love sewage - indigenous customs could save the planet - but are under threat": "We've got our priorities wrong."
● Ruthen cheers Beasley's "Vancouverism": "It's an entertaining ride, rife with stories of the trials and tribulations of working with developers, architects and politicians," and "will be essential reading for years to come."
● Crook cheers Provoost's "Beautified China" in which the country's "'iconic architecture' is depicted as abstract forms against bright blue skies - influenced by his practice as an architect."
● Starling Lyons on her children's book "Dream Builder: The Story of architect Philip Freelon" (with an afterword by Freelon himself): "Once Phil agreed to be a part of the project, I started the process for the book. I interviewed him and his wife Nnenna various times. From there, the story began to unfold."
COVID-19 news continues, ending with Kamin's cure for cabin fever - sigh:
● Former NYC parks commissioner, now SVP of The Trust for Public Land Adrian Benepe: "Parks are cathedrals, especially now. Across the country, urban outdoor spaces are playing roles as places of respite and hope. Now is the time to make sure they are kept open as much as public health concerns allow."
● Russell talks to Romano, Crispino, and Prochner re: the "daunting challenge" to "deliver thousands of COVID-19 rooms in weeks" as our "healthcare infrastructure is breaking under the strain" ("We're looking at a cathedral").
● Gerfen parses MASS Design Group's open-source resource offering "information and best practices developed over a decade of designing to minimize the spread of infection": "There's an incredible amount of need for designers and architects to be of service," sayeth Murphy.
● Rhode Island-based architect Baldwin ponders "public life in the time of pandemics. Can we redesign quotidian routines that maintain sociability at a distance, that dim the lights of civic life without switching them all off?"
● Kamin's cure for cabin fever: Take a walk - with the world on pause, you've got a chance to hit your own pause button and see things you've never taken the time to see before" (but "be sure to maintain the social distancing").
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Moss, Mayne, Holl, Gans, and more remember Michael Sorkin, Part 1: "Michael was a character like Cervantes’s Don Quixote in the best way. I remember him saying, 'I may not achieve all my visions, but I will die fighting for them'"..."He was...as committed to optimism as to confrontation with injustice, as joyful in his being, as devastating in his wit...We also need the plan that he would have given us to take back our cities after this deluge. Of that plan, we can be sure of one thing - it would be green, democratic, and joyful." -- Eric Owen Moss; Thom Mayne/Morphosis; Steven Holl; Deborah Gans/Gans Studio; Achva Benzinberg Stein; Lesley Lokko/CCNY Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture; Harriet Harris/Pratt Institute School of Architecture; Mike Davis; Dean MacCannell/University of California, Davis; Eyal Weizman/Forensic Architecture; Andrew Ross/New York University (NYU); Daniel Monk/Colgate University; Charles Waldheim/Harvard Graduate School of Design/GSD- The Architect's Newspaper
Harrison Smith: Michael Sorkin, who championed social justice through architecture, dies at 71 from coronavirus: He was a critic, author, teacher and designer, known for emphasizing the link between politics and architecture: “He was probably our most impassioned advocate of architecture as a means toward social justice,” said Paul Goldberger, who sparred with [him] in the 1980s before reconciling in recent years...[He] was primarily known for his criticism, which he described as “architecture by other means"...His work took aim at architectural giants such as Philip Johnson [and] went after peers such as Goldberger..."he was one of the only radicals I’ve ever known who had a light spirit to him"...- Washington Post
Catherine Wagley: LACMA’s $750 Million Renovation Was Once Hailed as a Powerful Vision of What a 21st-Century Museum Could Be. Now, It’s a Lightning Rod: At first, it was met with cautious optimism, called “architecturally ambitious” and “powerfully strange.” But eight years later, the...project designed by Peter Zumthor has been criticized - sometimes by the very people who praised it initially - as “uninformed” and a “scorched-earth plan"...There is already a hole in the side of the Ahmanson Building, one of four buildings slated for demolition this month...construction has been deemed “essential”... -- Michael Govan; William Pereira;y Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer; Jean Nouvel; Rem Koolhaas; Renzo Piano; Aecom; Joseph Giovannini- artnet News
David Steiner: Smart Growth: SmartVMC, Vaughan, Ontario: The Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) is 400 acres, owned by various developers and commercial landowners...In one or two decades from now...it will have the density and make-up of a small city: 25,000 residences...commercial offices, institutional buildings, and park space...Diamond Schmitt Architects [and] Claude Cormier + Associés were engaged in 2011 to develop a master plan for the [100-acre] SmartCentres parcel .. linear park and bus terminal location will organize the entire site...bus terminal was the first of nine completed and in-progress [DSAI-designed] buildings...strong ideas about building, landscape and urban design, both on paper and constructed, are abundant.- Canadian Architect
Duo Dickinson: The Unique Pain of Architects: Letting Go: The buildings we design have their own lives (and deaths), whether we like it or not: Almost every building has an invisible expiration date...knowing that doesn’t make the sting of its death any easier...then there are the zombies, still living in this world, but altered beyond all original intentions...our best hopes, defiled...every creator loses control of their creation the minute someone else owns it...When our designs are changed, it...never stop hurting...I should get over it. But I never will.- Common Edge
Kate Wagner: Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner on "American Framing": Q&A with the curators of the U.S. Pavilion at this year's Venice Architecture Biennale about broader issues of labor, democracy, and suburbia: On the face of it, the theme...seems like a safe choice...But [they] promise to explore aspects of the system other than its material attributes..."We’re trying to design something that hopefully will be familiar...that people have seen before and see all the time, but maybe not quite in the way that we’re putting them together for the show." -- McMansion Hell- Metropolis Magazine
Nick Mafi: 12 Buildings That Show the Beauty of Deconstructed Architecture: From Zaha Hadid’s majestic MAXII in Italy to the stunning beauty of Frank Gehry’s Vitra Design Museum, these structures elevate the environment they were built in. -- Peter Eisenman; Rem Koolhaas/Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA); Daniel Libeskind; Herzog & de Meuron; Ai Weiwei; Alessandro Mendini; Philippe Starck; Coop Himmelb(l)au- Architectural Digest
Oliver Wainwright: This way for brain tingles: ASMR gets a shiver-inducing exhibition: From cucumber-crunchers to cranial exams, YouTube is full of ASMRtists provoking the strangely pleasurable autonomous sensory meridian response. Now they’ve got their own euphoric museum show: James Taylor-Foster...has spent many hours trawling the weirdest depths of YouTube in preparation for "Weird Sensation Feels Good" at ArkDes, Sweden’s national centre for architecture and design...available to view online...Beyond offering a momentary brain tingle, there is a growing belief that ASMR can be used as an alternative form of therapy...“It’s a fascinating reflection of the times"...a future of tingles awaits.- Guardian (UK)
The CCA explores the meaning of living without a home in a documentary short film: "What It Takes to Make a Home"...by the Canadian Centre for Architecture considers the questions of how architects might address the intractable urban reality of homelessness, and the meaning of living without a reliable home: The film interweaves a conversation between Alexander Hagner and Michael Maltzan with the perspectives of individuals affected by homelessness...Directed by Daniel Schwartz, [it] begins to unpack the complexities of homelessness...- Canadian Architect
Here are AN’s picks for architecture-themed movies and shows to enjoy while housebound: ...everything from French New Wave classics to sordid 1980s thrillers to dystopian neo-noir epics to trashy (but oh-so-enjoyable) reality TV and more. And for good measure, we’ve thrown in a few serious architecture documentaries, too.- The Architect's Newspaper
Michael Kimmelman: Take a Virtual Tour of New York’s Museum District: With the Metropolitan Museum shut during its [150th] anniversary, our critic strolls with a historian along a posh stretch of Fifth Avenue called Museum Mile: With all that Andrew Dolkart had to say, we managed to cover about half a mile...what follows is...intended to be consumed at home, not on foot...Like Gilded Age proto-McMansions. -- Stanford White; Horace Trumbauer; Julian Abele; McKim, Mead & White; Ogden Codman Jr.; C.P.H. Gilbert; Calvert Vaux; Jacob Wrey Mould; Richard Morris Hunt; Carrère and Hastings; Annabelle Selldorf; Frank Lloyd Wright; Hugh Hardy; Walter Hood; Babb, Cook & Willard- New York Times
Jonathan Hilburg: Jacob Jonas The Company spotlights architecture through dance: The mingling of soft bodies and hard architectural structures is a guaranteed way to generate high-contrast, memorable photos...JJTC...blends contemporary ballet with breakdancing and acrobatics...collaborating with photographers, other dance companies, and institutions to draw attention to each structure...#CamerasandDancers initiative...has taken on a new poignancy at a time when most, if not all, of these institutions are now closed. -- Herzog & de Meuron; Christ & Gantenbein; Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo; Lorcan O’Herlihy; Zaha Hadid; EFFEKT Architects
Architects- The Architect's Newspaper
Oliver Wainwright: Living bridges and supper from sewage: can ancient fixes save our crisis-torn world? ...tree-bridges and fish that love sewage, indigenous customs could save the planet - but are under threat. Landscape architect Julia Watson shares her ‘lo-TEK’ vision: ...many examples of light-footed ecological practice [in] "Lo-TEK: Design by Radical Indigenism"..."we’ve got our priorities wrong. We value and preserve the architectural artefacts of dead cultures...but those of the living are being displaced and forgotten"...She is critical of the unintended impacts of the conservation movement...Many places in her global catalogue look like wonders of the world, on a par with the pyramids.- Guardian (UK)
Sean Ruthen: "Vancouverism" by Larry Beasley: ...the city’s former co-director of planning, revisits Vancouverism’s origins, celebrates its successes, and suggests possible solutions for the affordable and social housing crisis...he has been vocal in criticizing the development industry’s preference for building luxury housing...over normal housing stock for locals...book is centred on an exposition on what has worked locally and abroad with the Vancouver Model...It’s an entertaining ride, rife with stories of the trials and tribulations of working with developers, architects and politicians...Trevor Boddy’s 2008 exhibition of the same name...is curiously absent ..For both fans and critics, planning students and municipal planning departments, [it] will be essential reading for years to come.- Canadian Architect
Lizzie Crook: "Beautified China" celebrates the country's "architectural revolution": Detailed photos of 80 Chinese buildings feature in Kris Provoost's book...spotlights the country's current architectural boom...an expansion of [his 2017]...in which "iconic architecture"...is depicted as abstract forms against bright blue skies...influenced by his practice as an architect...the most predominant trend is a move away from..."iconic architecture"...now focusing on the preservation of existing structures.- Dezeen
"Dream Builder: The Story of architect Philip Freelon" tells story of noted Black architect: A children’s picture book...by Kelly Starling Lyons tells the story of the lead architect and visionary behind many unique structures...“Once Phil agreed to be a part of the project, I started the process for the book. I interviewed him and his wife Nnenna various times...From there, the story began to unfold"...picture book illustrated by Laura Freeman...follows Freelon’s journey from his struggles of reading as a kid...to the impact of the Civil Rights movement in his architectural career. The book closes with an afterword by Freelon himself. -- J. Max Bond Jr.; David Adjaye- The Philadelphia Tribune
Adrian Benepe: Parks are cathedrals, especially now: Appreciating public spaces during a pandemic: As almost every other aspect of normal human life and interaction has shut down...the parks of New York and many other cities have remained open...Across the country, other urban outdoor spaces are playing similar roles as places of respite and hope...According to my organization’s calculations, more than 100 million Americans...lack access to a close-to-home park...Now is the time to make sure our parks are kept open as much as public health concerns allow...and that we make bold plans for the future...- New York Daily News
James S. Russell: How to Deliver Thousands of COVID-19 Rooms in Weeks: With cases increasing by the thousands every day in New York City, healthcare infrastructure is breaking under the strain...huge surge in demand...may quickly overwhelm hospitals elsewhere in the U.S...Peter Romano...to assemble a team that could rapidly evaluate and design new beds for at least 10 sites. His team includes five architecture firms with healthcare specialties...It’s a daunting challenge...“We’re looking at old treatment areas that had been converted to office space...We’re looking at a cathedral.” -- James Crispino/Gensler; Chris Prochner/Jaros Baum & Bolles- Architectural Record
Katie Gerfen: MASS Design Group Asks: "What is the Role of Architecture in Fighting a Pandemic?" The Boston- and Kigali, Rwanda-based practice is launching a response to the spread of COVID-19, and making available information and best practices developed over a decade of designing to minimize the spread of infection: "We just want to be a resource for people to reach out to and connect," Michael Murphy says..."There's an incredible amount of need for designers and architects to be of service."- Architect Magazine
Ian Baldwin/DUAL: Public life in the time of pandemics: Can we redesign routines, maintain sociability at a distance, and dim the lights without switching them off? Compared to 1918, or even the SARS scare of 2003, there’s much more we can do on our phones and computers. Still the gap between technology’s ubiquity and its limits reveals how much human productivity depends on putting people into direct contact. Can we redesign quotidian routines that maintain sociability at a distance, that dim the lights of civic life without switching them all off?- ArchitectureBoston magazine (Boston Society of Architects/BSA)
Blair Kamin: Advice for the house-bound: Take a stroll. There’s architectural beauty out there: ...with the world on pause, you’ve got a chance to hit your own pause button and see things you’ve never taken the time to see before. It might even raise your spirits... You just have to be sure to maintain the social distancing...the urban emptiness enforced by the stay-at-home order further enhances your chances for serious seeing.- Chicago Tribune
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