Delicate connections

Barack Obama and the Broken Obelisk.

    One of the most moving sculptures I know is Barnett Newman's "Broken Obelisk." A broken, darkened, Washington Monument tipped precariously atop a pyramid like the one atop the Washington Monument. I prefer the installation in Houston, in a reflecting pool outside the Rothko Chapel, to the one in Seattle or the one in the atrium of New York's Museum of Modern Art.

    Broken Obelisk was designed in 1963-64 and fabricated in 1967 in an edition of three. After the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968 the work was dedicated to his memory.

    Barnett Newman said, “The Obelisk is concerned with life and I hope that I have transformed its tragic content into a glimpse of the sublime."

    But one can't stand in front of it and not be sad, not think of a life cut short, not think of how it might have been completed. How the nation might be more complete, were this obelisk not broken.

    Watching Barack Obama gives me hope, for the first time since Dr. King's assassination, that perhaps we can begin to imagine the broken obelisk healed.
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Happy Birthday Ephraim Owen Goldberg! (You know who that is.)

    How about a bottle of
    the "very limited and exclusive"
    Selection Reserva 2001
    from the Marqués de Riscal “City of Wine”
    winery, hotel and spa in Spain
    which you designed
    like ribbon on a present.

    The works bring a lot of people a lot of joy.
    (And yes, some grumping and the occasional lawsuit.)

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Ed Ruscha in Chicago on March 1st

    Artist/photographer Ed Ruscha will be at the Art Institute of Chicago on March 1st for a free day long symposium to open the exhibition
    Ed Ruscha and Photography.

    The symposium will run from 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 1 in Rubloff Auditorium. It will begin with a talk by the artist. Ruscha will also participate in a conversation featuring cultural critic Dave Hickey and exhibition curator Sylvia Wolf. Lectures by art history professors Ken Allan and Thomas Crow will complete the day.

    The exhibition will run through June 1, 2008. More info and other events here. From the press release:

    Ed Ruscha and Photography on View March 1–June 1, 2008
    American Pop Art Icon to Lead Free Symposium on Opening Day

    Ed Ruscha is perhaps best known as a seminal American pop and conceptual artist. His iconic paintings of words, American landscapes, and vernacular architecture speak of his deep affinity for the commonplace. But the medium of photography has always been a source of inspiration and discovery. The eye-opening exhibition, Ed Ruscha and Photography , on view at the Art Institute of Chicago from March 1 through June 1, 2008, features Ruscha’s signature photographic books and dozens of previously unseen original prints. It provides the most comprehensive view of how photography functioned for this leading American artist. Organized in conjunction with the exhibition, a free daylong symposium on March 1 will include a talk by the artist, a conversation with Ruscha and cultural critic Dave Hickey and the exhibition’s curator Sylvia Wolf, and lectures by scholars Ken Allan and Thomas Crow.

    Organized by Wolf at the Whitney Museum of American Art to celebrate its acquisition of a deep collection of Ruscha’s photographs, the exhibition features more than 100 original prints, many of which have rarely been published or exhibited. Exclusive to the Chicago presentation of Ed Ruscha and Photography are an additional 13 paintings, drawings, and prints from the museum’s own outstanding holdings as well as from local private collections.

    Included in Ed Ruscha and Photography are original prints made for his photographic books: Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1963); Various Small Fires and Milk (1964); Some Los Angeles Apartments (1965); and Thirtyfour Parking Lots in Los Angeles (1967). In addition, the show features a striking selection from the more than 300 original photographs made during a seven-month tour that Ruscha took of Europe in 1961. In these images of Austria, England, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Yugoslavia, visitors will see the stylistic elements that have marked Ruscha’s work—signage and his strong graphic sensibility—in a context very different from the more well known Ruscha landscapes of Southern California and the west. These photographs are also compelling records of Ruscha’s experimentation with his camera.

    Another highlight of this exhibition is a selection of Ruscha’s photographic books of the 1960s and 1970s, which have come to embody conceptual artists’ embrace of serial imaging. These books have had a profound impact on the art and careers of many American artists, and they speak to the intermingling of Ruscha’s conceptual approach to imagery and photography as a medium. Lewis Baltz, Dan Graham, and Robert Venturi all cite Ruscha’s photographic books as highly influential, and the German photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher presented Ruscha’s work to their students, including the contemporary artists Thomas Struth and Andreas Gursky.

    Born in 1937 in Omaha, Nebraska, and raised in Oklahoma City, Ruscha moved to Los Angeles when he was 18. He attended the Chouinard Art Institute until 1960, before working briefly in commercial advertising. In 1961, Ruscha embarked on a career as an artist and produced enigmatic paintings, drawings, and photographic books of gasoline stations, apartment buildings, palm trees, vacant lots, and Los Angeles’s famous “Hollywood” sign. The irony and objective stance of his works from this period placed him in the context of Pop art and Conceptualism, but Ruscha consistently defies categorization. Now 70, Ruscha is recognized as one of our most important and influential contemporary American artists.

    The role photography has played in Ruscha’s career has not been deeply explored until now. What we see in Ed Ruscha and Photography is that the artist has consistently looked to photography, as a subject, a medium, and a vehicle, to inform his artistic practice.

    Ed Ruscha and Photography was organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

    Edward Ruscha. Phillips 66, Flagstaff, Arizona, 1962. From Twenty-Six Gasoline Stations, 1963. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. © Ed Ruscha.


    Remember? My post on the Getty's usurpation of Ruscha's "Picture Without Words."Source URL:
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Buildings and Picasso's guitars

Free-to-cheap bike rentals in cities?

Take the lift up the world's tallest completed building - Taipei 101 in Taiwan

When Frank Lloyd Wright met Marcel Duchamp!

    They, and others talked for nine hours.
    That's Duchamp on the left and Frank Lloyd Wright in the center.
    (On the right is art and music critic Alfred Frankenstein.)

    You can download and listen to 7.5 hours of it.

    The Western Round Table on Modern Art met in San Francisco on April 8, 9 and 10, 1949. The artists and critics opine on art in a changing culture, degeneracy, science, communication, the public, the critic, and other topics, including my favorite - the beautiful.
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Villa Savoye

Wrongchamp ? Our Renzo designs for Ronchamp

    “Maybe you wouldn’t see it, (the new building), but you would feel it.”
    - Jean Louis Cohen

    On the heels of recent criticism of Renzo Piano, comes this in The Architect's Newspaper:
    ... The Ronchamp association considered several architects besides Renzo Piano, including Tadao Ando, Glenn Murcutt, and Jean Nouvel. In the end, the first two were deemed too far away, while the idea of Nouvel was rejected because “he would only design something Jean Nouvel. We loved Piano’s museums in Basel and Berne. He is a poet and a philosopher, too.”

    Piano himself was somewhat hesitant, and not because of the complexities of building respectfully next to an icon. After all, he has designed additions to several icons, including Louis Kahn’s Kimbell Art Museum (in a preliminary design stage) and Richard Meier’s Atlanta High Museum. [EL- You can hardly compare the High Museum to Ronchamp!] But the Ronchamp project is by far the smallest in his office, very sensitive, and with a relatively miniscule budget of $13 million. “There would be no reason to put myself in this funny situation if this were not a work of passion,” he said.

    Piano did not even start to design until he had walked the site last winter, driving stakes into the ground where it would be possible to build without being seen from the top of the hill where the chapel sits. According to French law, any changes within 500 meters of a designated landmark are open to the scrutiny of the Ministry of Culture, but the grounds around the chapel building are not subject to this landmark protection. Thus, although the new structures will be invisible, they do come to within 60 meters of the chapel. Piano plans to reforest the flanks of the hill with some 800 evergreens and native deciduous trees, spending one-third the entire budget on landscaping.

    Jean Louis Cohen, the preeminent Corbusier scholar who is on the board of the foundation, also walked around the site last summer, “Maybe you wouldn’t see it, but you would feel it,” said Cohen in an interview in which he showed slides documenting the chapel from every possible angle from below the hilltop. “The harmony of the place would be disturbed; it would lose the sense of being a pilgrimage and impoverish the chapel itself.”

    ... “We are well aware that Renzo Piano will take all precautions called for,” said Michel Richard, (director of the Association Œuvre Notre-Dame du Haut that owns Le Corbusier’s 1955 masterwork.) “They should just build farther away....”

    The plan includes a new visitor center to replace the current one—a makeshift pink box at the base of the hill. Renderings show a simple split shed with a dynamic bifurcated roof jutting in directions that echo the swoops of the chapel’s roof. The tilting roof planes would be made of both zinc and green-roof materials, making it appear as if it were rising from the forest floor.

    more, and more images ...

    I think putting more architecture there will dilute and alter what is there now. And what is there now is so great that it need not be altered. In cities we rail against isolated sculptural objects. But Ronchamp works perfectly as that. By itself in nature, it has a unity, a purity. I don't want multiple architectural experiences there. I only want one.

    Ronchamp photo: ezra Stoller/ Esto
    rendering and model - RPBW
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The National Art Center in Tokyo (2007) by the late Kisho Kurokawa

Mies redone, x 3

    The Chicago Tribune, which has enough problems of its own, goes messing with Mies van der Rohe's 860-880 Lake Shore Drive apartments.

    The Trib Magazine's Lisa Skolnik asked three firms how they would redo a 3 bedroom interior.

    Lucien Lagrange: "There are now elegant transitions between all the traditional, now-enclosed rooms..."

    Nathan Kipnis: "Mies was a great designer, but he was not green," cracks Kipnis , who specializes in sustainable architecture. His plan was prompted by building resident's claims about leaky windows and inefficient heating and cooling systems, hard points to address because the building has landmark status so its facade can't be altered. "But the windows should be low-e to increase thermal efficiency. They could be tinted, or replaced with double glazed glass," he suggests.

    Rachel Crowl and Julie Fisher go with wood partitions installed on recessed tracks, gliding into place.
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Thanks Jake!

The Icy ICA --- A view of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston

    Below is my view of Diller, Scofidio + Renfro's Institute of Contemporary Art-Boston, as it appeared in the 2007 year-in-review issue of "ab" (Architecture Boston.) The building just turned one year old, and so the national award-winning magazine of the Boston Society of Architects (the largest branch of the American Institute of Architects,) asked me and three others what we think of the ICA. The feature is called,

    Been There.
    Yes, I’ve been there. But only twice. Once last winter as a tourist,and once now that I’ve moved to Boston. Since I didn’t live here when it opened, I missed most of the brouhaha. Perhaps I come to it with less baggage.

    The first time I visited, I put less pressure on the building. I probably thought a little less about how it might function as a museum that I would visit regularly. I wanted an exciting architectural experience — a tourist’s entertainment — something that would communicate to me in broad strokes about museums and cities and art.

    That first time, I was somewhat disappointed. Anybody who works at a museum knows it’s hard to get people in; the building can help seduce them.

    But as you approach the ICA through the parking lots — at least until the neighborhood is developed — you’re met with a façade that belongs on an alley.

    The large glass elevator, which could be a signature for the place, is hard to find and presents little drama. The “mediatheque” is a room of quiet contemplation, a sort of seaman’s chapel. But its view down to the water — no earth or sky, no beginning or end, just “nothingness” — is so forced it makes you miss your freedom to explore. The concept is better than the experience. It’s a straitjacket of a room.

    I barely remember the galleries from that first visit. They are plain, serviceable enough, but the spaces seem small, particularly for viewing contemporary art.

    I was gratified that the gift shop seemed almost hidden and that the café was not overdone. I loved the theater, with two glass walls featuring views of the sea and sky that connect performances to the life of the city. And I loved the outside seating, under the cantilever, making nature and Boston the spectacle, open around the clock.

    So now I am living here. I intend to visit the ICA often. I now need this same building to do more work for me — to work well as a museum. On my first visit as a resident, I was at once more pleased, and more disappointed.

    Even with its curving contemporary form, the building still feels subdued. The wood that wraps around the building is purposely faded, like pre-washed denim. Nearly all surfaces are muted. Little inside the building sharpens my vision or my senses. Bland artificial light is cast too evenly in the galleries.

    Outside, the milky glass around the gallery level looks more like Target than like Cartier.

    But I like the solidity of the place and its lack of arrogant geometries; the calmness of its few materials is handled well. This allows you to see art in a peaceful setting, even if it’s not an exhilarating one. You can visit often and enjoy the ICA without being irritated. It offers polite views of an already polite city.

    And maybe that’s what makes it a Boston building.

    A former NPR correspondent and host of a Chicago Public Radio program on architecture and design, Edward Lifson is a Loeb Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He blogs on architecture at ###

    To read the views of artist Ross Miller, writer Deborah Wiesgall and architect Gretchen Schneider, click here. Then tell us with whom you agree!
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Paolo Soleri - ArcoSanti

My (funny) Valentine to you

Neutra VDL Research House in L.A. opens to tours

    The house will be open to the public without appointment on Saturdays from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, beginning on Saturday February 16th. $10.00 per person.

    And of course, the house is available for film or photo shoots, seminars, conferences, and retreats. Nice. I'd love to. What would I write in there? I ran that experiment once at the Farnsworth House. And brought lots of music, Glenn Gould for example, to listen to. I think they ought to let these monuments to poets and composers.

    The Neutras in LA are knockouts, and this one is in danger!

    $30,000 is needed by October 1, 2008 to cover day-to-day operating expenses and repair costs.

    In 1990 Richard Neutra's wife Dione, left the VDL Research Compound to the Cal Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design. If the College is unable to raise the $30,000 needed to pay insurance, utilities and upkeep of the Neutra VDL Research Site by October 1, 2008, the building complex is threatened with closure and possible sale to a private party.

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Instant Architect

Light-emitting tee shirts!

Jean Novel's Philharmonie Concert Hall for Paris

Six critics in search of American Architecture

    L.A. is the most interesting city in the country right now, because of what’s happening with its urbanism, more than its architecture,” states Christopher Hawthorne, who has been the architecture critic of the Los Angeles Times for three years. The city that became synonymous with sprawl has “hit the limits of its growth and is turning back on itself. But it’s not just getting denser; it’s having to redefine itself as a city.”

    “We now live in a culture of infinite choices,” says Chicago Tribune’s architecture critic, Blair Kamin. “You go to Home Depot and there are 60 different kinds of floors you can put in your basement, whereas in 1950 you would have had two. A lot of our architecture is like that.”

    “Dallas is a very image-conscious place, and it has always been looking to headlines,” says David Dillon, who writes on architecture for The Dallas Morning News.

    “Buildings here in Atlanta remain disappointing, with a few exceptions,” states Catherine Fox, the art and architecture critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

    “I don't see the regional differences in design that were apparent in the past,” states Paul Goldberger when asked what American architecture looks like from his perspective at The New Yorker. “Trends today are national or even global. Sustainability is certainly one. We should be doing more on this, but we’re doing more than we did in the past.”

    Robert Campbell, longtime architecture critic for The Boston Globe likes the ideas in Office dA’s Macallen building, a condominium development that opened in 2007 in South Boston.

    Photo © John Horner

    Read more from each here.Source URL:
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A new way to understand disputes about global warming

New Dictionary Highlights Nazi Words to Avoid

Steven Holl takes you around the Bloch.

The Ugliest Barcelona Chair ever!

The secret history of American modernism

    Full book review here.

    "Gwendolyn Wright’s excellent new book on modern architecture in the USA, may kick off with images of star architects on the covers of Time Magazine but hers is not an account that centers on iconic buildings or the careers of major stars.

    Wright, professor at Columbia University in New York City, intends to give pointers to today’s practitioners. ...

    Wright doesn’t emphasise the importance of European precursors, and looks for American modernism’s roots in the 19th century. She traces it back to the aftermath of the American Civil War, when America, or the northern states at least, was transformed by better infrastructure, corporate business systems and a flourishing consumer culture. ...

    She also recognises the positive contribution of African-Americans and women — as architects, and as critics and curators — and she points out the inherent racism in many aspects of policy and practice, especially in urban renewal."

    From the blurbs:

    “Gwendolyn Wright’s splendid book updates, revises and enriches everything we know about the development and influence of American architecture with new material, brilliant insights, and the perspective of a new century. She makes the story so new and compelling and writes it so well that it will supplant older versions to become the standard reference.”—Ada Louise Huxtable

    "I am always amazed at Gwendolyn Wright's ability to bring excitement and positive joy to urbanism and architecture in a rare way. Her enthusiasm for historical examples surely inspires others to take a deeper look and to reflect. In this moment of rapid urbanization worldwide, that reflection is needed more than ever."--Steven Holl

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Only in Chicago

    Which new Chicago retail space
    caused people to comment on their website...

    Not being in Chicago is TORTURE.

    almost, but not quite, speechless.


    I don't live in america :'(

    Damn! Why i have to live in germany?! :(

    Will the London store be this good?

    That's it. I'm moving to Chicago!

    can i there?

    Find out what they love here and here.

    And they do excellent videos!
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Oprah builds in Chicago

    What would Oprah build?

    "It's all about comfort and self-expression ... "

    at the first and brand new Oprah store. It opened yesterday at 37 N. Carpenter, down the street from her Harpo Studios on Chicago's Near West Side.

    "Large acrylic O's light up at night on the entry walkway. Inside, bamboo, pastel colors and a brightly lighted loft set the tone."


    For me, this other rather new store in Chicago is "way more cool."

    (Photos: Sun-Times/Harpo-George Burns)Source URL:
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The Discovery Channel does the Beijing Olympics. Part 1

Too-fab! The best home media center ever.

Where do architects find inspiration?

    + +




    The first four images are the spaces that Jacques Herzog told the Tate Modern were his most inspiring.

    The antique underground caves in Rome.
    Stockholm City Library by Erik Gunnar Asplund.
    The space under the Eiffel Tower by Gustave Eiffel.
    Biblioteca Laurenziana by Michelangelo in Florence.

    It'll be interesting to see how they affect especially the interior and the outdoor spaces of the new Tate Modern 2, which is the bottom image.

    Herzog and Pierre de Meuron are designing that new building to go next to the existing Tate Modern, which they also created out of a former power station by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. Tate Modern 2 is due to open around 2012.Source URL:
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Contemporary Spanish Architecture es grande

Zaragoza Nocturna

Piano in Chicago

    James Russell's article today on Renzo Piano's museums, with the memorable sentence,

    reminded me to post this photograph taken two weeks ago of Renzo Piano's "Modern Wing" for the Art Institute of Chicago.

    Looking west on Monroe Street.
    (Millennium Park would be on the right side of the street.)

    People in Chicago are already buzzing about the size of the thing, since it is west of Michigan Avenue, in Grant Park. The built city used to stop at Michigan Avenue. East of that was supposed to be parkland. Now on Monroe the buildings seem to extend out in the park toward Lake Michigan another couple of blocks, all the way to Columbus Avenue.

    It will be elegant. Renzo Piano's museum buildings almost always are.

    Russell says of the Chicago addition,
    In design drawings, the modern art wing that Piano designed for the Art Institute of Chicago resembles three Beyelers stacked atop each other.

    Beyeler Foundation Museum by Renzo Piano 1997

    Russell continues,
    Will the aloof, elegant structure transcend its model to reveal the Art Institute anew and engage an urban setting that's got everything -- skyline, park, lake? We'll find out in May 2009, when the wing opens.

    Piano has benefited from a trend away from sculpturally expressive museums to bland designs that are invariably described as "architecture serving art." It's true that spectacular atriums and strangely shaped galleries can make displaying art more difficult. Yet the best of them freshen our vision.
    Piano's L.A. County Museum of Art, due to open next week, does looks bland on the outside. His California Academy of Sciences, to open Sept. 27th in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco looks anything but bland. And the Art Institute of Chicago wing is appropriately somewhere in the middle.

    Looking east on Monroe Street

    But this great facade facing north seems to want to have open space in front of it. It "asks" for Monroe Street to be closed. That would also connect Millennium Park to the Art Institute with green space.

    Instead a bridge over Monroe, designed by Piano, is planned.

    I can't wait to see this thing lit at night.


    More Hello Beautiful! on the Modern Wing here.

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An Ando WC

Ando in a Massachusetts forest

    Tadao Ando's first building of wood in the US, an addition to the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass. will open on June 22. I made a pilgrimage.
    You start out in the woods. You leave the existing Clark Art Institute, with its Renoirs and Sargents, Degas, Homers and much more, and you re-enter nature. You walk up a path, through the woods, to the new 'Stone Hill Center'. Think of it as a chapel, in the woods, for art.

    At the beginning of your journey, you don't see it. Like walking up the Acropolis to the Parthenon. And then you catch a view.

    You walk around it, not directly up to it, as at the Acropolis. With delayed gratification you desire this place more. And slow unfolding gives the materials a chance to sing to you. A siren song.

    Just simple interlocking planes of concrete and wood,

    steel and glass, solid and voids, air, light and shadow.

    As you walk past all this, ever ascending a hill, halfway around the handsome structure, you admire it, from all views. Finally, you are offered a void in a concrete wall (above.) Here you might enter. Of course, no entrance is given to you. Straight ahead is a solid wood wall. No door. You pause ever-so-slightly before approaching; and think about what you are entering. And how much it is worth to you. You have faith, and by now you believe in this place because you've worked for it. So move forward. Once "through" the concrete wall, you turn to the right, and this is what you see,

    One last chance to remain outdoors. But it's too late for that. You move forward a few steps and turn 90 degrees left. There's the opening. The way in.

    I'll post on the interior, with more photos, in a little while.

    Inside I found serenity, joy, and mystery.

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