Reporting from Venice

I’m heading to Venice to catch the Vernissage of the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale and cover it for World-Architects. In turn, this blog will take a short, two-week break.

Reporting from the Front

Ciao!

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Book Review: Exhibiting the Postmodern

Exhibiting the Postmodern: The 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale by Léa-Catherine Szacka
Marsilio, 2017
Paperback, 264 pages

One week from today the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale opens to the public. To get myself in the mindset for a trip to Venice to cover the event for World-Architects, I just read this book that takes an in-depth look at the 1980 Biennale, what is considered the first true architecture Biennale in Venice (the art Biennales date back to the late 19th century). I’ve known about the The Presence of the Past exhibition, curated by Paolo Portoghesi, for a while, mainly through images of the “Strada Novissima” in the Arsenale. But reading Léa-Catherine Szacka’s case study of the exhibition, I realized just how narrow my understanding was – limited in large part to a superficial appreciation of the twenty Postmodern facades lining the “Strada.” But the exhibition was a bit more than those false fronts, and the lasting contribution of the exhibition is much more than the coming together of numerous Postmodern architects to create a temporary street. The book does an excellent job of presenting the exhibition’s background, its reality during the Biennale (with many images I’ve never seen before, some unfortunately too small given the page layout), and its influence since. Here are some of the more interesting things I learned in the book – things either I never knew or have forgotten over the years:

  • It was the first Biennale to be held in the Arsenale. Having been to four Biennales, I take their presence in the Arsenale for granted. But when Portoghesi encountered the long, impressive space, the military machines inside were covered in 20-30cm of dust.
  • The 1980 Biennale was highly political, both in terms of Italian politics, which greatly impacted the Biennales of art from 1968 to 1980, and the internal politics of the organizers.
  • Case in point, Kenneth Frampton was originally one of the exhibition’s organizers, but he resigned three months before the show opened, due to the “collage-pastiche” direction of the show. He wrote a text critical of the event; it would have gone into the exhibition catalog but instead became the basis for his essay “Towards a Critical Regionalism” in The Anti-Aesthetic.
  • The “Strada Novissima” facades were built by set builders who worked in the film industry in Rome but were basically unemployed at the time.
  • The architects had exhibition spaces behind the “Strada Novissima” facades. So in addition to the relatively flat, full-size images created along the “street,” the architects displayed projects through more conventional means: photographs and models.
  • The exhibition in the Arsenale also had a mezzanine. Paolo Portoghesi was one of the 20 architects responsible for a facade in the Arsenale, but the space behind it was given over to a stair that took visitors upstairs to an exhibition of younger architects.
  • The Presence of the Past had a display devoted to critics.Without Frampton, the critics were three: Charles Jencks, Christian Norberg-Schultz, and Vincent Scully. Meant to create intellectual debate among the positions of the various contributors via texts throughout the exhibition, the small display space that was ultimately built isolated them and made their contributions less memorable.
  • The “Strada Novissima” traveled to Paris and San Francisco in 1981 and 1982, respectively. In each city, the message and means of display were modified to suit their new contexts: in an octagonal space in Paris and a linear space with the addition of a forced perspective in San Francisco.

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Film Review: The Proposal

Late last month, in a post about dancers at Casa Luis Barragán, I mentioned seeing and reviewing Jill Magid’s The Proposal. I saw the documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival the same day as the post, and yesterday I (finally) posted my review on World-Architects. Read it by clicking here or the image below.


[Image: Jill Magid]

See also a couple related book reviews on this blog and my Unpacking My Library blog:

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Today’s archidose #1004

Here are some photos of Tencent Seafront Towers (2018) in Shenzhen, China, by NBBJ. (Photographs: Fernando Herrera)

Tencent Seafront Towers
Tencent Seafront Towers

To contribute your Flickr images for consideration, just:

:: Join and add photos to the archidose pool

To contribute your Instagram images for consideration, just:

:: Tag your photos #archidose

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RIP Will Alsop

Over the weekend architect Will Alsop died at the age of 70 after a short illness. I’d written about a couple of his notable buildings on this blog: the Peckham Library in London, which won the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2000, and the Sharpe Centre for Design at OCAD University in Toronto. I’d actually seen the latter in person, so I wrote about it from my experience and with my photos; here are a few of those, showing the building propped above its predecessors and the view down to the shadows cast by the angled stilts. It was a jarring building when completed in 2004 and is a strong element in Toronto’s architectural renaissance this century.

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Today’s archidose #1003

Here are some photos of Manna House (2014) in Los Angeles by Jeremy Levine Design. (Photographs: Tom Bonner)

Manna House at Dusk
The stripped facade connects the two structures and the decks
A Bold Color Scheme for a Bold Client
Manna House
Manna House
Passive Daylighting
Recycled Plywood Floors and Ceiling
Manna House
A Roof Deck that Angles to the Different Views

To contribute your Flickr images for consideration, just:

:: Join and add photos to the archidose pool

To contribute your Instagram images for consideration, just:

:: Tag your photos #archidose

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Book Review: Revisiting Postmodernism

Revisiting Postmodernism by Sir Terry Farrell and Adam Nathaniel Furman
RIBA Publishing, 2017
Paperback, 200 pages

An architect would need to have been asleep for the past five or six years to not realize that Postmodern architecture has made some sort of comeback. A younger generation of architects is embracing the Platonic forms, pastel colors, and historical glances of the movement that took hold of the architectural profession in the 1970s and 80s. What exactly today’s neo-Postmodernism is, and how prevalent of an effect it will have on the profession, is hard to say, since the design of neo-Modern buildings — glass boxes — is alive and kicking. Nevertheless, it’s hard to deny the evident appreciation of Postmodern sensibilities that is being filtered through today’s technology (e.g. Photoshop) and the critical distance that comes from the younger generation not experiencing Postmodernism firsthand. Just look at last year’s Chicago Architecture Biennial, which gathered more than 100 architects and artists under the theme Make New History; many of the participants produce thoroughly PoMo designs.

Though not part of Make New History, artist/designer Adam Nathaniel Furman is one of the most outspoken embracers of Postmodern architecture, making him a kin with many of the designers in the Biennial. Born the same year that Michael Graves’s PoMo masterpiece, the Portland Building, was completed, Furman designs colorful products, furniture, and installations; he writes a lot about historical architecture and design; he documents his research and travels on Instagram; and he advocates for the preservation of Postmodern architecture. So he is an obvious choice for a book titled Revisiting Postmodernism. In it, he and Sir Terry Farrell, a practitioner from Postmodernism’s heyday, trace the architectural movement’s history and argue for its relevance today.


[MI6 in London by Terry Farrell, 1994 | Photo: Laurie Nevay/Wikimedia Commons]

With two authors and separate contributions, the book is structured accordingly: the first half has three chapters by Farrell, while the second half has three chapters by Furman. In between is a nearly 50-page “collection of seminal Postmodern images” with full-color, full-bleed photos of buildings from Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates’ Guild House in 1963 to Furman’s own “Gateways” installation in London last year. One would expect that the two halves of the book would lead to a chronological presentation of Postmodernism, with the older Farrell tackling the movement last century and the younger Furman focusing on its resurgence this century. That is not the case.

Instead, each uses their trio of chapters in similar ways: their first chapters lay out the reasons for Postmodernism’s existence; the seconds track PoMo’s ascension; and the thirds bring us closer to today. With this approach there is a good deal of overlap, but each author has a unique enough voice and perspective that reading one does not preclude reading the other. Broadly, Farrell writes in a more autobiographical manner, inserting his own firsthand accounts (and buildings) into a “revisiting” focused on the UK, while Furman exhibits more enthusiasm and runs the gamut in uncovering the good (and bad) of Postmodernism all around the world. Ironically, these two strong proponents of Postmodernism as the ideal means of architectural expression in today’s complex, mediated world conclude with as many questions as answers. Ultimately it’s up to the reader to decide if the two parallel arguments convince them of Postmodernism’s merits today.


[“Gateway” installation at Granary Square, London, by Adam Nathaniel Furman, 2017 | Photo: Gareth Gardner, via Adam Nathaniel Furman]

As an addendum of sorts to this review, the two photos here illustrate works by the authors, works that are illustrated in the book. Farrell discusses much of his own work, not just the MI6 building made famous in James Bond films; doing so situates him amidst such famed Postmodern architects as Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, Aldo Rossi, and Michael Graves and makes him the Postmodernist representative from the UK. Furman, on the other hand, doesn’t mention his work, but photos of “Gateway” are prominently positioned at the end of the “seminal” spread and on the last page of his last chapter. Will he take the Postmodern baton from Farrell full speed ahead into the future? I’m not sure, but this book certainly positions him as someone to keep an eye on, especially as his designs move from the home to the public realm.

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Drawing Matters

Today Morpholio launched “Smart Fill” for its popular TracePro app for iOS. With it came the short video below, with architects talking about why drawing matters and using the app’s new feature, “a fill tool that not only calculates the area of the fill, it actually changes as the sketch evolves,” in the words of Morpholio co-founder Anna Kenoff. Thankfully, the video is more about how architects draw in the digital age than being sold on the app; combined with some ambient music, it’s an enjoyable way to spend 5-1/2 minutes.

Coincidentally, one of the images provided by Morpholio for illustrating how “Smart Fill” works depicts WORKac’s Kew Gardens Hills Library, which I posted about over the weekend. In it the tool is being used to do material take offs for the facades. I haven’t used TracePro (back in 2012 I briefly played around with Trace), but it looks like a decent app, ideally suited for the early stages of a design project, and serving architects while they’re while out and about rather than in the office.

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Today’s archidose #1002: ‘100 Years, 100 Landscape Designs’

Although it’s been more than a few months since my last book, 100 Years, 100 Landscape Designs, came out last fall, I’d yet to put together a “Today’s archidose” on the book as I did with 100 Years, 100 Buildings in a more timely manner the year before. Like its predecessor, the book highlights 100 projects, in this case parks, gardens, and other landscape designs built over the last 100 years, with the gimmick that there is only one building per year based on completion or some other important milestone (a trickier thing to nail down with landscapes than buildings). Here are photos of 25 landscapes culled from the archidose Flickr pool (and some of my own that I just uploaded to Flickr) to give a taste of what’s in the book. For more information on 100 Years, 100 Landscape Designs, which is published by Prestel, check out the page I set up for the book. Mouseover or click the photos below to see who photographed each landscape design.

1921 Östra Kyrkogården | Sigurd Lewerentz | Malmö, Sweden:
IMG_2657

1926 Naumkeag | Fletcher Steele | Stockbridge, Massachusetts, United States:
Naumkeag

1928 Sunnyside Gardens | Clarence S. Stein and Henry Wright, Marjorie Sewell Cautley | New York City, United States:
Sunnyside Gardens

1931 Innisfree Garden | Walter Beck, Lester Collins | Millbrook, New York, United States:
Innisfree

1942 Gustav-Ammann-Park | Gustav Ammann | Zürich, Switzerland:
Gustav-Ammann-Park

1947 Lunuganga | Geoffrey Bawa | Bentota, Sri Lanka:
Lunuganga 37

1949 Sitio Roberto Burle Marx | Roberto Burle Marx | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil:
Untitled

1951 Brooklyn Heights Promenade | Clarke & Rapuano | New York City, United States:
Brooklyn Heights Promenade

1953 Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden | Philip Johnson | New York City, United States:
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden

1960 Storm King Art Center | William Rutherford | New Windsor, New York, United States:
Storm King Art Center

1965 The Sea Ranch | Lawrence Halprin | Sonoma County, California, United States:
The Sea Ranch

1966 Piscina das Marés | Álvaro Siza | Leça da Palmeira, Portugal:
Untitled

1968 Jefferson National Expansion Memorial | Eero Saarinen, Dan Kiley | St. Louis, Missouri, United States:
St. Louis Arch

1972 Olympiapark München | Behnisch & Partner, Günther Grzimek | Munich, Germany:
Olympic Park Munich

1982 Vietnam Veterans Memorial | Maya Lin | Washington, DC, United States:
Memorial Horizon

1987 Parc de la Villette | Bernard Tschumi | Paris, France:
IMG_0644

1994 Igualada Cemetery | Enric Miralles & Carme Pinós | Igualada, Spain:
14 - IGUALADA - Cementerio [arqs. MIRALLES - PINÓS]

1999 Jardí Botànic de Barcelona | Carlos Ferrater, Josep Lluís Canosa, Bet Figueras | Barcelona, Spain:
Jardim Botânico de Barcelona, Espanha

2000 La Granja Escalators | José Antonio Martínez Lapeña, Elias Torres Tur | Toledo, Spain:
José Antonio Martínez Lapeña & Elías Torres Tur. Escalators of la Granja. Toledo #20

2002 MFO-Park | Burckhardt+Partner, Raderschall Partner | Zürich, Switzerland:
MFO Park

2010 Moses Bridge | RO&AD Architecten | Halsteren, Netherlands:
Moses Bridge, Fort de Roovere, Halsteren, The Netherlands

2011 Madrid Río | MRIO Arquitectos, West 8 | Madrid, Spain:
West 8, MRIO Arquitectos. Bridges Cascara Madrid RIO #1

2012 Bay South, Gardens by the Bay | Grant Associates | Singapore:
Gardens by the Bay

2014 High Line | James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Piet Oudolf | New York City, United States:
High Line Section 2

2015 Grande Cretto | Alberto Burri | Gibellina, Sicily, Italy:
grande cretto di Burri

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Book Review: WORKac

WORKac: We’ll Get There When We Cross That Bridge by Amale Andraos, Dan Wood
The Monacelli Press, 2017
Hardcover, 360 pages

Amale Andraos and Dan Wood started WORKac in 2003 after both worked at OMA. They are celebrating fifteen years with this monograph, its title a play on the familiar phrase, “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” The title flip-flop, combined with the way the text snakes itself across the edge of the cover around “WORKac,” hints at the firm’s sense of humor, the playful nature of their work, and the way the duo upends conventions. The neon orange, green and pink lettering also alludes to the structure of the book: five-year chunks that hinge upon global events circa 2008 (“post-housing bubble”) and 2013 (“post-oil-price crash”) but also correspond with happenings in the office and in the life of the married partners (notably children and a deanship). These five year chunks also give Andraos and Wood the opportunity to revisit a project that took up two-thirds of WORKac’s existence to date: the Kew Gardens Hills Library in Queens, which they were commissioned for in 2007 but didn’t open until 2017; in fact the photos at the end of the book document the completed building before books were moved in and people started using the library.


[Kew Gardens Hills Library, Queens | Photos: John Hill]

Even though Kew Gardens Hills Library is in the borough I call home and has therefore been a project I have posted about every now and then, the building is also indicative of WORKac in a few ways. First, it is an expansion rather than a freestanding building. Other notable projects in this vein include the Stealth Building in Tribeca, the DVF Headquarters in the Meatpacking District, and the Blaffer Art Museum in Texas. Second, it is inventive. The plan simply adds an L-shaped zone, enlarging the open interior of the corner library toward the intersection, but the new concrete walls are lifted to create expanses of windows and give the branch library its strong presence. (The librarian was a bit perturbed when I visited and tried to take some photos inside, making me think they’re getting a fair number of archi-tourists trekking to this distant neck of Queens.) Third, even though the project is small, is remote from more high-profile parts of the city, and took a long time to realize, it has brought the firm (more) loads of attention.


[Kew Gardens Hills Library, Queens | Photos: John Hill]

This last point is important. Even though WORKac has not realized any buildings of a substantial size in their first 15 years, they are very well respected and influential within the profession (they topped the most recent Architect 50 list for design). I chalk this up to a few things, all evident in the monograph. One, even the smallest projects are deeply considered and highly creative. Villa Pup, one of their first projects, is a case in point, as are their numerous interiors projects, such as Wieden+Kennedy NY and the Children’s Museum of the Arts. Second, their work ranges in scale from small interiors to urbanism, the latter in the form of masterplans, proposals, exhibitions, and books. In essence, Andraos and Wood are not content to limit their unique approach to single typologies or scales. Third, their designs manage to strike a balance between the serious, particularly in regard to environmental issues, and the playful, expressed through Pop sensibilities that are more endearing than ironic. Fourth is the whole shebang in the form of this book. It documents many of their projects through revealing conversations between Andraos and Wood, snapshots of their office and private lives, lots of full-color images of notable projects, and a clever graphic design by Neil Donnelly that is a suitable match to the architecture on display. As much a diary as a monograph, We’ll Get There When We Cross That Bridge injects new life into an often tired format.

For those in NYC, McNally Jackson is hosting a discussion on May 29 with Amale Andraos and Dan Wood of WORKac and book designer Neil Donnelly, moderated by Monacelli Press editor Alan Rapp.

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Architects and Birdies

“Pole vaulting in the chapel, bicycling in the laundromat, sky diving in the elevator shaft?” Might Bernard Tschumi have also asked, “Badminton in Rudolph Hall?” I leapt to Tschumi’s words when seeing this photo on my Facebook wall, from an article at Yale Alumni Magazine:


[Photo: Bob Handelman, via Yale Alumni Magazine]

Apparently, turning “the Pit” on the fourth floor of the Yale School of Architecture into a badminton court is an annual tradition, with about 50 teams playing nearly 100 games, per the magazine. While the tournament takes over the central crit space a few night per week, students still work around the perimeter and on the mezzanine overlooking it. A view of the pit set up for a crit:


[Photo: Seth Tisue, via Wikimedia Commons]

But the Yale architecture students don’t just take over the pit, turning Paul Rudolph’s space of education into a space of recreation; they also design t-shirts and posters. And according to at least one former student, “Rudolph clearly had Badminton in mind when he designed the 4th floor pit to the perfect dimensions of a Badminton court.”


[Photo: Unknown, via Yale School of Architecture]

(Thanks to John J. for the inadvertent heads up!)

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Mark Yr Calendars: Designing Water

I just learned about Designing Water, a two-day symposium organized by the American Academy in Rome and Longwood Gardens, and taking place at the latter in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, October 17-18, 2018. From the description, it’s certainly a timely event:

Water is the most compelling and consequential design matter of the 21st Century. Not just a life source or a source of beauty, water has crucial social, cultural, and symbolic functions and plays an essential role in all living systems.

But when looking at the “international scholars and practitioners in garden design, landscape architecture, urban design, architecture, and ecology” who will convene “to discuss and advance concepts of and strategies for designing water from the scale of a singular garden feature to integrated regional systems,” my first thought is, “Who’s not participating?” It’s quite an impressive list:

  • Julia Czerniak, Chief Curator, Designing Water; Professor & Associate Dean, Syracuse Architecture
  • Anita Berrizbeitia, ASLA; Professor and Chair of Landscape Architecture, Harvard Graduate School of Design
  • ​​​​​​​Elma van Boxel and Krisitan Koreman, Founding Directors, ZUS [Zones Urbaines Sensibles]
  • James Corner, RLA, ASLA; Founding Partner and CEO, James Corner Field Operations
  • Georges Descombes, Principal, Atelier Descombes Rampini
  • ​​​​​​​James A. Garland, AIA, NCARB President; President & Founder, Fluidity Design Consultants
  • Adriaan Geuze, Prof., Ir., RLA, OALA; Founding Partner, Design Director, West 8
  • Christophe Girot, Head of the Institute of Landscape Architecture, Dean Elect at the Department of Architecture of the ETH in Zürich
  • Dorothée Imbert, Professor, Hubert C. Schmidt Chair in Landscape Architecture, The Ohio State University
  • ​​​​​​​Mary Margaret Jones, FASLA; Senior Principal, Hargreaves Associates and Hargreaves Jones
  • ​​​​​​​Tilman Latz, Partner & Design Director, Latz + Partner; Landscape Architect ByAK bdla, Architect ByAK, Urban Planner ByAK
  • ​​​​​​​Michael G. Lee, Reuben M. Rainey Professor in the History of Landscape Architecture; Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture; University of Virginia School of Architecture
  • Nina-Marie E. Lister, MCIP, RPP, Honorary ASLA; Associate Professor, Ryerson University; Graduate Program Director, Urban & Regional Planning Director, Ecological Design Lab; Founding Principal, PLANDFORM
  • Kate Orff, RLA; Founding Principal, SCAPE
  • ​​​​​​​Colvin Randall, P.S. du Pont Fellow, Longwood Gardens
  • Paul B. Redman, President and CEO, Longwood Gardens
  • ​​​​​​​Mark Robbins, President and CEO, American Academy in Rome
  • ​​​​​​​Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, ASLA, AIA, FAAR; Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, The City College of New York; Principal, Catherine Seavitt Studio
  • ​​​​​​​Charles Waldheim, John E. Irving Professor and Director, Office for Urbanization
  • ​​​​​​​Mason White, Associate Professor, University of Toronto; Partner, Lateral Office
  • ​​​​​​​Kongjian Yu, FASLA; Changjiang Chair Professor of Design, Peking University College of Architecture and Landscape; President and Principal Designer, Turenscape

Registration is now open for Designing Water.

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A305 Complete

The Canadian Centre for Architecture has just wrapped up posting the series A305, aka “History of Architecture and Design 1890-1939,” on its YouTube channel. The 24 programs created by the Open University originally aired on BBC2 between 1975 and 1982. The CCA uploaded them as part of its exhibition, The University Is Now on Air: Broadcasting Modern Architecture, which was on display until the beginning of April.

Head to my A305 post from January to watch all 24 episodes.

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#TBT to NWA

Last summer I visited Crystal Bridges of American Art in Bentonville, in Northwest Arkansas, but I didn’t get around to processing my photographs until this month. An unexpected gem from the visit was the welcome pavilion for Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bachman-Wilson House, designed by students at the Fay Jones School of Architecture + Design. Below are my photos and a video by the University of Arkansas.

Bachman-Wilson House

Bachman-Wilson House

Bachman-Wilson House

Bachman-Wilson House

Bachman-Wilson House

Bachman-Wilson House

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Are You the Next Eva?

Recently the Storefront for Art and Architecture’s Executive Director and Chief Curator Eva Franch i Gilabert was appointed Director of the Architectural Association in London. Her new position means the Storefront needs a new director — its fifth director following Franch, Joseph Grima, Sarah Herda, and co-founders Kyong Park and Shirin Neshat.

Franch took her position at Storefront in 2010 and in the ensuing eight years she oversaw a staggering number of exhibitions, publications, and other projects, including the OfficeUS, the US Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. Her last undertaking at Storefront will be the New York Architecture Book Fair, set to take place in June.

The job posting from storefrontnews.org:

Storefront for Art and Architecture is seeking a Director who is an ambitious visionary, a curatorial risk-taker, and a dynamic leader, and who will continue and expand Storefront’s position as an innovative and fearless platform for debate and exploration of ideas at the intersection of contemporary art, architecture and design.

The Director is expected to expend their full professional time and efforts to advance the interests of Storefront and ensure its proper management. The duties of the Director include creating and overseeing an expansive program of exhibitions, talks, performances, events, publications and related activities; managing Storefront’s programs and operations; identifying opportunities for extending Storefront’s mission through the development of new initiatives; fundraising for programs and operations (in concert with the Board); hiring and managing Storefront’s staff; attending all meetings of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee; and working together to advance the objectives of the Institution.

The successful candidate will have relevant curatorial or related experience; an international perspective and network in the realms of art, architecture and design; excellent interpersonal, team participation, staff and project management skills; eagerness to collaborate; strong presentation and communication skills; experience in innovative communication and media praxis; ability to develop focused programming; aptitude to cultivate local and international constituencies; a talent for organization and considerable personal drive; an acute understanding of and commitment to fundraising for the gallery’s programs and operations; the desire and ability to closely collaborate with Storefront for Art and Architecture’s Board of Directors.

Benefits and Salary
The successful candidate’s salary will be determined in conjunction with the search committee and will reflect the candidate’s background and experience. A comprehensive benefits package will also be provided.

Applying for the Position
To apply for this position, please email a curriculum vitae and a one-page letter of interest as a single PDF to: search@storefrontnews.org

Application Deadline: May 4, 2018

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Book Review: The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion

The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion by Interboro Partners (Tobias Armborst, Daniel D’Oca, Georgeen Theodore)
Actar, 2017
Hardcover, 460 pages

Back in 2011, Interboro Partners won MoMA PS1’s Young Architects Program, installing “Holding Pattern” in the courtyard of the Long Island City, Queens, institution that summer. Although seven years old, the installation comes to mind when reviewing their new book, The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion, for a few reasons: It was the first I’d heard of Brooklyn’s Interoboro; “Holding Pattern” was accompanied by a mural designed by Lesser Gonzalez to visually explain the installation’s concept, a diagram very similar to the one he made for the book’s cover and accompanying foldout poster; and although the installation’s most striking feature was the “soaring hyperboloid” of fabric over the courtyard, its most lasting impact came from the furnishings and other elements (kiddie pools, ping pong tables, lounges, etc.) below the fabric canopy, pieces that were determined and designed following input from MoMA PS1 neighbors and then donated to them after the installation was taken down. The motive behind the last — that objects from a temporary architecture installation are given a second life with people who could probably care less about architecture, much less the kind commissioned by MoMA — is clearly aligned with Interboro’s new book.

The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion is an encyclopedia-like collection of “weapons” that either exclude or invite people from doing things — or just being — in public spaces. Although not explicitly categorized as one or the other, most of the weapons — from “Armrest” and “Bouncer” to “Saggy Pants Ban” and “Ultrasonic Noise” — clearly fall into the exclusionary camp (some, it could be argued, encompass both exclusion and inclusion). Authored primarily by Interboro’s Tobias Armborst, Daniel D’Oca and Georgeen Theodore (with Riley Gold), the book has more than fifty contributors penning some of the main entries in yellow (per the spread above) and the “Bonus Materials” that are highlighted in pink. More information is literally layered over the yellow and pink columns in the form of bubbles that have references to weapons elsewhere in “the Arsenal.”


[Foldout poster by Lesser Gonzalez]

With an A to Z format, dozens of entries, and layers of textual and visual information, it’s easy to see The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion as a reference, something to be consulted now and again when wanting to know a little more about “Covenents, Conditions, and Restrictions” or “Lavender-Lining.” But the entries are too short (though all are accompanied by bibliographic references) and polemical to be definitive resources. So to better make the book something to be read — and read as an argument — Interboro provides six “tours” through the Arsenal. One, for instance, tackles racial segregation, while another is focused on increasing accessibility (a very inclusive tour). These tours are called out subtly with numbers next to the author (note numbers 3 and 6 in the spread above), but readers can also follow the overlaid bubbles in a choose-your-own-adventure manner, thereby jumping from “Armrest” to “Sprinkler” to “Curb Cut” and so on. Whatever tactic readers take, they should come away with an appreciation for the importance of (public) space, a realization that it is often shaped by one group of people at the expense of another, and that, as prevalent as exclusionary practices may be, Interboro and many others today are pushing against them with ammunition for creating a more inclusive society.

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Book Briefs #34

“Book Briefs” are an ongoing series of posts with two- or three-sentence first-hand descriptions of some of the numerous books that make their way into my library. These briefs are not full-blown reviews, but they are a way to share more books worthy of attention than can find their way into reviews on this blog.

Embodied Energy and Design: Making Architecture between Metrics and Narratives edited by David Benjamin | Columbia University GSAPP, Lars Müller Publishers | 2017 | Amazon
In April 2016, Columbia GSAPP held the Embodied Energy and Design symposium, which aimed to frame embodied energy “in the context of broader design ecosystems and architectural issues.” This book collects the papers from that symposium, interspersing them with “material stories” that illustrate the questions architects should be asking about the sources, energy, and production of their buildings, focusing on concrete, steel, and wood. As energy use in the operation of buildings decreases but the energy required to build them increases, this book points architects in the right direction — if not answering every question.

Naïve Intention by Pezo von Ellrichshausen | Actar | 2018 | Amazon
During Wiel Arets’s brief tenure as dean of at IIT’s College of Architecture, he produced many books, some of them related to MCHAP (Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize). Pezo von Ellrichshausen were recipients of the MCHAP’s inaugural Emerging Architecture prize, an award and teaching position that led to this book. Its’ a small but lovely book made up primarily of single-page color photos of the duo’s architecture and art (the latter not as impressive, to me, as the former, though the two aren’t always easy to distinguish). The images follow a short, verbose essay on the apparently contradictory statement of the book’s title — a phrase that guides the production of the architects/artists.

Radical: 50 Latin American Architectures by Miquel Adrià, Andrea Griborio | Arquine | 2017 | Amazon
This handsome book collects 50 built works by 50 architects under 50 years old. Although the majority of the projects are from just a few countries (Chile, Colombia, Mexico), most Latin American countries are included. In other words, the architectural quality in the region is rampant. Projects are numbered 1 through 50 and documented through text, drawings, and photos. The book is split into two halves (quite literally, with differently sized pages and types of paper), with project text and photos in the first half, following an essay by Miquel Adrià, and color photos in the second half. The book’s layout means readers have to flip back and forth to fully absorb each building, a necessity made easier through clear numbering and simple, straightforward page design.

Remembering Places: A Memoir by Joseph Rykwert | Routledge | 2017 | Amazon
An architectural historian is an unlikely candidate for a memoir (will Kenneth Frampton be next?), but Rykwert’s upbringing in a Jewish family in Warsaw before and during the time of Hitler makes for some fascinating reading, at least for fans of the historian and the type of history he recounts. Composed as small episodes that can be dipped into now and then, Rykwert admits at the end that “more than a half century has passed since the last episodes I reported.” So, is a followup covering the remainder of his life in the works?

The Social Imperative: Architecture and the City in China edited by H. Koon Wee | Actar | 2017 | Amazon
“Architecture and the city in China” is a massive topic befitting nearly infinite — or 1.4 billion — viewpoints. Accordingly, the contributions to The Social Imperative are many, by many of the biggest names in Chinese architecture, such as Wang Shu, Dong Gong (Vector Architects), Li Hu (OPEN Architecture Office), Ma Qingyun (MADA s.p.a.m.), and Zhang Ke (standardarchitecture), as well as a small number from outside of China. The myriad contributions are fitted into eight chapters with titles such as “Laboring,” “Networking,” and “Rationalizing.” They follow editor H. Koon Wee’s long essay (“Spatial Limits of Socialist China”) born from a three-year study of social issues and architecture in China.

The Vitra Schaudepot: Architecture, Ideas, Objects edited by Mateo Kries, Viviane Stappmanns | Vitra Design Museum | 2017 | Amazon
Since the Vitra Design Museum’s 2014 publication of The Vitra Campus — a guide to its buildings designed by Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Herzog & de Meuron, and others — the furniture maker added yet another building to its collection: HdM’s Schaudepot. Billed as “the world’s largest permanent exhibition of modern furniture design,” the book is about 80 percent furniture and 20 percent architecture, making the book more for fans of chairs than buildings — or for the many people that are fans of both.

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MIMOA 2.0

If you’re like me, when you travel you consult MIMOA, the user-generated website that functions as a guide to modern architecture. The website is particularly helpful with registration, which enables adding projects but also favoriting them, marking them as visited, and creating guides for particular cities or routes. For example, here is a guide I made for a trip in August 2012, going from Zurich to Venice.

If you’re really like me, you also find the MIMOA page frustrating to use on mobile platforms. It’s very good on a laptop, but since it’s not mobile-friendly I don’t even bother on a smartphone. The team at MIMOA is aware of this and trying to do something about it.

The current MIMOA homepage:

[Images courtesy of MIMOA Kickstarter campaign]

So what are they doing — more accurately, what are they trying to do? MIMOA 2.0, which will focus on two things: “A mobile-first redesign of the platform that will optimize the user experience and will provide information on the spot; and new functionalities that will make it much easier for you to add reviews, ratings and extra photos (on location) and most importantly to add new buildings.”

Of course, reprogramming a huge, user-generated website isn’t cheap. Hence MIMOA’s Kickstarter campaign and their target of €70,000. There are fifteen days left for MIMOA to reach this hefty sum, so head on over to their Kickstarter to see the rewards (including a visit to MVRDV, video below) and make a donation toward their much-needed mobile update.

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Eternal Gradient

Last night I attended a preview of the new exhibition at Columbia GSAPP’s Arthur Ross Gallery, Arakawa and Gins: Eternal Gradient. The exhibition opens this evening, after an afternoon symposium I’m going to attend. I’ll have more on the symposium and exhibition next week. In the meantime, below is a slideshow of my photos from last night’s sneak peek.

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Today’s archidose #1000

Here are some photos of San Cataldo Cemetery (1971) in Modena, Italy, by Aldo Rossi with Gianni Braghieri. (Photographs: Trevor Patt, who has many more in his Flickr set.)

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To contribute your Flickr images for consideration, just:

:: Join and add photos to the archidose pool

To contribute your Instagram images for consideration, just:

:: Tag your photos #archidose

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