Smiles for Michael Jackson

    It turns out Michael Jackson's family house and thus the makeshift shrine in front of it is just a few blocks from where I'm staying in Los Angeles.

























    Above them all hung the strangest note; hanging from a tree, like a lynching.



    In clear print and New Testament terms:
    "Let's not forget that Martin Bashir was a bad reporter and a betrayer. Let's not forget the evil kid and his whore mother. Let's hope and pray that these bad people and Michael's enemies will pay the consequences One day. AND we promise you that we will teach the next generations that you Michael Jackson are The greatest Man that ever lived."


    He was innocent once.

    We love you Michael Jackson 5 Remembered Tribute Died Public Memorial Tribute Encino Family House California June 2009 photos fans respect flowers gifts
    Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2009/06/
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Mayne gets sensuous in New York

    I am shocked this week in New York by how much I like the ways that Thom Mayne/Morphosis's new building reflects the light and fits the context.




    A lot of great architecture reminds you of something you know, even if you're not quite sure what, and it creates something new. Think of New York's Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright. That's what this building for the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art does. You'll find it bursting with energy and movement on Third Avenue between Sixth and Seventh Streets. It'll hold art studios and rooms for the engineering school. The central glass, as expressive as on a Louis Sullivan bank, will allow you to peer in and see students milling about, busy-bees in a hive.


    Is that


    Japanese calligraphy in the shadows of the facade?

    Or is it supposed to be


    Cape Cod? Or


    The Nike Swoosh? We know how Mayne likes signage and symbols and billboards on his buildings; and how architecture is commodity, and a jet-set starchitect is hired partly for branding, much the same as Nike brands itself worldwide. Of course Mayne's is a one-off, making it "high art."

    The other day he told me, "people think I just drew a "swoosh," but of course I didn't. The exterior opening signals to you what the space inside will be like. Inside you see that the ceiling and the space of the grand staircase relate to the opening you saw from the outside."



    Looking back into history, is this a building as a walking machine, like Le Corbusier, and an Archigram dream?

    Archigram, Walking City, Ron Herron, 1964

    Remember, the context for "Walking City" was a world ruined in the wake of a nuclear war. Is Mayne describing our post 9-11 times in New York?

    If so, he offers great hope. This is the most optimistic building I've seen from him.



    The most moving of Thom Mayne's works. Is it a walking elephant? Or a

    Albrecht Dürer, 1515

    rhino? Nice how the Rhino has its own "swoosh" between its eyes.



    Modern architecture, despite rebelling against ornamentation, looks for new ways to ornament. Mayne's gap serves as ornament. Its void, or nothingness, fulfills that function. As for example Frank Stella puts a painting on a wall, and then his painting becomes sculpture and then thicker and more three-dimensional in reality and perception, it becomes architecture; and as Brancusi's metal objects reflect and define a space around them and become architectural, so Mayne fuses sculpture - as ornament - into this architecture. Not only in the sense that the building's form is sculpted, but more importantly by "hanging" "a piece" of negative space on and even in, his facade. He's doing the opposite of the sculptors who hang their work on a wall, he's burrowing his sculpture into the wall. It's also like land art, something carved into the earth, made vertical, and brought into architecture and an architectural representation of the universe that this facade represents. The famous Spiral Jetty, for example, periodically makes a solid manifest. This gash makes a negative form and space manifest. Which makes us understand the nature of "there-ness."


    Doris Salcedo, Shibboleth at Tate Modern, London 2007

    People involved in preserving old architecture sometimes say they ought to leave a few pieces out. Something missing shows the passage of time. Mayne adds gravitas - false or real, successful or not - to his building with the gap. At the same time, it's optimistic. Like a crack in a fortified castle. Civilization, enlightenment, starting to emerge. As Leonard Cohen sings "There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."

    The concave curved metal Mayne uses here reflect the light in more interesting ways than the vertical panels we used to see from him. They soften the work. The concrete and metal may still be raw, but the whole is more refined than his earlier projects, and assembled less crudely.

    The horizontal metal screens on the facade will open and close to alter the light coming into the building. Students can operate some as they wish, giving the street too a lively, always-changing facade.

    Pentagram worked with Mayne on the signage, always a key feature of his projects. This one features somewhat small for Mayne lettering that looks right when you look straight at it, but particularly the cut out bottom halves of the letters distort when you look at it from an angle.



    Funny that Santa Monica-based Thom Mayne found it appropriate to be industrial and hard-edged in colorful, curving, sensuous L.A. - as at his Caltrans Headquarters - and in a gritty part of New York he goes soft. Cooper Union casts a feminine feel, like his lacy "Phare Tower" in Paris, also made to glisten, like nylon leggings. Since when has a New York streetscape felt so Parisian?


    Mayne picked up the Empire style across the street to create a satisfying symmetry which does not mirror the old. Yet his slant recalls the Mansard roof.


    His varying tones


    make the modern wall porous, like the older building's solids and voids. With a surfeit of steel and glass projects in New York, this one stands out.

    Did I say feminine? Yes. Mayne's curtain wall hangs like a skirt over those concrete legs.


    That, the curved metal reflecting light, the movement, and the corner of this project


    recall Frank Gehry and Gehry's "Fred and Ginger" corner in Prague.

    But ultimately, it's the reflection of the light that animates the exterior. Mayne's perforated metal sheets and hard forms dissolve in ways that Gehry's don't, in that way they call attention to themselves but don't, whereas Gehry's always do.



    In the post 9-11 world, Mayne's Cooper Union building is a collector for manna from heaven. It filters the manna down and lightly sprinkles it on you when you stand in front of it gazing at its glimmer; or perhaps in an undoing of the way the powder and ash spread throughout the boroughs on 9-11, this manna is meant to flow out onto the entire city.

    This behemoth disappears into ethereal beauty, a slide that connects the heavens with our heads, our eyes, our bodies, our legs and the earth we walk on. The students and designers who will work inside will feel the inspiration.

    This "Moby Dick" of a building sears itself into your memory and will create obsessions, as obsessed as Mayne himself is. The manna will also fall on you in the great like-the-inside-of-the-great-whale stairway.


    Morphosis describe this glass-enclosed nine-story building as a "vertical piazza."

    The soaring central atrium

    renderings by Morphosis


    gives views out through the oddly shaped glass in the facade onto Cooper Union's 1859 fortress-like Foundation Building across Third Avenue and Astor Place. Mayne placed his entrance right across Peter Cooper Park, facing the entrance to the older building.

    He's provided much glass and transparency, including the ground floor lobby walls which are glass; but inside you'll find the dark corners and hidden spaces that Mayne usually provides, especially for youth and students.

    With all the discussion in New York and elsewhere, of how fortress-like our public buildings would have to be, Mayne gives a civilizing answer. This work projects strength, but the glassy ground floor remains open and accessible. It is a fortress, because the institution is strong, but the walls - its separation from the city and the world - are porous, confident and inviting.





    Here's my take on another recent Thom Mayne/Morphosis academic building- the Cahill Center at Caltech. Also here. All my Mayne here.

    Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2009/06/
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Lighting Crown Hall - film

    Jim Coudal of daily must read - Coudal.com and his pal, the esteemed Steve Delahoyde, put together a fine film of last week's lighting of Crown Hall by artist Jan Tichy and his students.

    Watch their film, here.

    It makes sense they'd be there - (they said the same to me.) Coudal runs the MoOM - the Museum of Online Museums, whose spiritual home is, Crown Hall.

    That event, after a day of rain, brought people together,


    'Twas one of the most peaceful and yet intriguing evenings I've ever spent in Chicago.

    I did see Crown Hall in a new light.



    The project reminded me of the great series of art installations at Berlin's New National Gallery, also by Mies and of which Crown Hall is the prototype. My best photos of the evenings were the ones I took when I was with the artists inside the building.






    After you've watched Delahoyde and Coudal's film of the event, watch mine of artist Jan Tichy. Tichy got to spend two weeks in this space preparing the event. So I asked him, "What is the genius of Crown Hall?"



    If you missed the event you missed a lot; to avoid that in the future consider joining the Mies van der Rohe Society. They co-sponsored "Lighting Crown Hall" and membership means you'll know of other upcoming events. Do it for Mies, do it for me; I'm the co-chair.
    .Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2009/06/
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Renzo Piano's Chicago Museum as a Roman monument

    Renzo Piano often jokes, "I'm Italian, there's not much we can do about that!" He's flirting when he says it. He knows people like things Italian.

    I'm still ruminating (Rominating?) on why the Pritzker Garden at Renzo Piano's Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago has a Roman feel to it. It's partly the imperial scale and the classical expression. But there's much more. If you enter the Garden not from the street but by going inside the Modern Wing, and then going back outside into the garden, it has the feel of a Roman courtyard.

    The rectangular proportions are like those of Roman temples. Piano's new work is layered with the older Art Institute buildings. They meet in this garden. Public places, like people, art and cities, are often most interesting where two cultures come together. In this garden you see and physically feel that Chicago now has a certain age, has been around awhile, wasn't built in a day. The minimalism of Piano's structure can remind you of Roman ruins.

    Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, Rome c. 141

    --~--
    So, Piano


    is to Chicago


    as Norman Foster


    is to the Roman temple in Nimes.


    --~--

    But to be like Rome you must have an


    arch. Such as Rome's Arch of Constantine. Just around the corner from the Pritzker Garden, as part of the layering of time at the Modern Wing, Chicago has


    The arch from Louis Sullivan's demolished Stock Exchange.


    The Pritzker Garden was built more or less above an "ancient" theater. (1925, is that ancient by today's standard?) The Goodman Theater was also a memorial to a son who died young. It was underground, due to height restrictions that in olden days, even under the empire of Emperor Richard (Daley) I, used to be enforced on any structure erected in Grant Park. The Goodman is gone now; so in this place you get a vertical memory of buildings, including some unseen.

    Original Goodman Theatre (1925-2005) by ChicagoGeek.

    Detail from the Goodman Theater, demolished
    --~--

    The


    Nichols Bridgeway - with its bottom engineered into an arch and its curved, open pipe shape like like an aqueduct - is infrastructure, of the kind of which the Romans were fond.

    Roman Pont du Gard

    Infrastructure about movement, about bringing things from elsewhere to here.

    --~--

    Then there's the confidence, the ambition, and the scale of this civic project. For these I reasons I write in my review of it in The Architect's Newspaper that it's best new building in downtown Chicago since the 1970 John Hancock Tower.

    There's even a sense of imperialism in the Modern Wing. That in here we have treasures "plundered (?)" from around the world. The flat roof extends our dominance out over the lands around us. The building, a temple for art, is oversized for its site, and monumental. The three part composition of the main building and the symmetry make it more monumental.




    Here is more Hello Beautiful! on Modern Wing by the raised-in-Genoa, Italy Renzo Piano. (Then scroll)
    .Source URL: http://ecleticsergio.blogspot.com/2009/06/
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