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LOVE PREVAILS

In cold and barren February, we notice the Sun’s brilliance burning a little longer into the afternoon, hinting at the warmth peeking just (months) around the corner.  Similarly, in the sometimes austere and modernist environs of the Walker Art Center, a passionate heat churns just beneath the surface.  Is it possible to fertilize the seeds […]

In cold and barren February, we notice the Sun’s brilliance burning a little longer into the afternoon, hinting at the warmth peeking just (months) around the corner.  Similarly, in the sometimes austere and modernist environs of the Walker Art Center, a passionate heat churns just beneath the surface.  Is it possible to fertilize the seeds of love at the Walker?  It’s possible, and evidence abounds.  Take, for example, this article describing James Turrell’s Sky Pesher as the best make out spot in town.  Kissing in the surrounds of ‘pigmented cast concrete?’  Very steamy.  One should take note, however, of the security camera watching every move.  No matter.  An adventurous lover knows that eyes are always watching, yet she boldly proceeds. 

Meet Ellie, one such bold adventurer.  The object of her affections is the roguish Scotty.  Her family-approved plan (Dad accompanied) was to ask Scotty to her high school’s Sadie Hawkins dance during a visit to the Walker.  Ellie had prepared a sign for her beau, a masterpiece worthy of the Louvre which implored, “Sweet Hearts? With Me, My Scotty” (sic).  Ellie presented me the sign to me in the snowy afternoon, asking where she could hang it. 

My colleagues and I discussed the matter,  chose a suitable place, and the sign was hung.  It was decided that I document the event, so I lay in wait for the magic moment. 

 

The tension was immense.  The unwitting Scotty approached and…

YES

 

Love prevails.

 

Note: Scotty was surprised by Ellie’s sign, but even more surprised by my prescence.  I explained, “I…uh.  I have to do this for work,”  then quickly fled.  Tender moments, cherished forever.

A dreaming house: urban video projection

As a big fan of large-scale video projection, I find this absolutely enchanting: [vimeo width=”500″ height=”325″]http://vimeo.com/5595869[/vimeo] It is a project called 555 KUBIK, projected on the side of the Hamburg Kunsthalle. The concept for the video asks “how would it be, if a house was dreaming?” The conception of this project consistently derives from its underlying […]

As a big fan of large-scale video projection, I find this absolutely enchanting:

[vimeo width=”500″ height=”325″]http://vimeo.com/5595869[/vimeo]

It is a project called 555 KUBIK, projected on the side of the Hamburg Kunsthalle. The concept for the video asks “how would it be, if a house was dreaming?”

The conception of this project consistently derives from its underlying architecture – the theoretic conception and visual pattern of the Hamburg Kunsthalle. The Basic idea of narration was to dissolve and break through the strict architecture of O. M. Ungers “Galerie der Gegenwart”. Resultant permeabilty of the solid facade uncovers different interpretations of conception, geometry and aesthetics expressed through graphics and movement. A situation of reflexivity evolves – describing the constitution and spacious perception of this location by means of the building itself.

Also check out some other great urban architecture projections at urbanscreen.com.

What are those Walker architects up to now?

Last month Kristina Fong provided an entertaining tour of the latest works by Herzog & de Meuron, architects of the Walker’s 2005 expansion. Now we can add one more stop: On the heels of a spectacular performance by their “Bird’s Nest” stadium at the Beijing Olympics, the Swiss team has revealed the design for a […]

Last month Kristina Fong provided an entertaining tour of the latest works by Herzog & de Meuron, architects of the Walker’s 2005 expansion. Now we can add one more stop: On the heels of a spectacular performance by their “Bird’s Nest” stadium at the Beijing Olympics, the Swiss team has revealed the design for a new building in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood. Moving from a globally scaled gathering space to this project – the firm’s first residential tower – represents quite a shift in scale. But with its series of glass boxes cantilevered one over another, stacked to reach 57 stories, the building promises drama of a different order.

Answers, and Eero Dynamic Furniture

I’m pretty excited to announce that out of the plethora of answers to the game I posted, nobody got all the answers right. I’m happy to report that this black and white interior picture (fig. 1) stumped everybody. I’m lucky to have found it; there aren’t many pictures available online of the interior of Monsanto’s […]

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I’m pretty excited to announce that out of the plethora of answers to the game I posted, nobody got all the answers right. I’m happy to report that this black and white interior picture (fig. 1) stumped everybody. I’m lucky to have found it; there aren’t many pictures available online of the interior of Monsanto’s House of the Future. Opened in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland in 1957, it was demolished in 1967, when they decided, ten years later, the white, plastic, Modernist future previously depicted was just not tomorrow enough.

Earlier this year, a set of drawings used for the planning of the House of the Future showed up on Ebay(and sold for $8000.) All the twitter about this find on various blogs notes the strong Eames influence evident in the drawings. They are quite gorgeous, and just like many fashion sketches, look more stunning on paper than they did in practice (fig. 2.)

monsantoeames.jpgSaarinen was a long-time collaborator and lifetime friend with Charles Eames. In fact, Eames was inspired by Eliel Saarinen, Eero’s father, and was invited by him to attend Cranbrook to further study architecture. The group at Cranbrook at that time included Florence Knoll and Ralph Rapson (of Guthrie fame). For their first collaboration, Eames and the younger Saarinen designed a winning entry, a molded plywood chair (fig. 3) for an organic design competition organized by the Museum of Modern Art in 1940. The influence of the basic industrial structure of this chair’s design can be seen in the rest of both the designers’ careers.

Saarinen created a range of beautiful furniture with Florence Knoll. They designed such staples as the Tulip Chair and the Womb Chair, which will look familiar to millions and millions of people because of their inclusion in the best-selling PC game of all time: The Sims, a human-life simulation game. Stay with me, here–Imoldedplywood1940.jpg can’t remember exactly how and when I became familiar with the Eames furniture by name; it might have been from visiting various museums as a child, or maybe some art history 101, but I do know that to millions of people who have never heard the names Saarinen, Knoll, or Eames, this modernist furniture is going to look very familiar. There is no doubt that IKEA has been evoking 40s and 50s furniture design in their extremely streamlined and industrial giant European operations, and that might give people a point of entry, but I swear I’ve furnished some of my Sims’ houses with a Knoll Saarinen Coffee Table, Tulip Chairs, and Stools multiple times (fig. 4.) Of course, these items aren’t named like so, but they are essentially identical. I don’t own the game anymore because my computer is too old, and the Walker decided not to buy a new graphics card for me even though it’s for work-related purposes so I don’t have any images of my perfect modernist house, but I sure wish I did.

Notably, however, people have taken it upon themselves to teach the Sims-playing world about the history of furniture design. There are millions of downloads available online for people who create their own furniture for the Sims, to be imported into the game and played with. Shino & KCR, a featured ‘artist’ at one of the biggest download sites, The Sims Resource, has a whole line of Eames inspired furniture (fig. 5). The Sims, already one of the biggest blurs between reality and technology, has recently engineered deals with H&M and more recntly, IKEA, to bring clothes that are available in real life and furniture that is available to purchase for your own home, into the game so you can purchase them for your own home. But on the computer.

And, with the steep dollar prices that accompany any Saarinen-designed furniture, a tulip chair in The Sims will only cost you a couple hundred Simoleons.

Extra, extra: This amazing featurette on Monsanto’s House of the Future. Part 1 and Part 2.

Answers: A, D, E, G, and H are Disneyland. B, C, F, I, J are Saarinen.

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Herzog & de Meuron: Progress Update

When the Walker hired Herzog & de Meuron to design the expansion in 2000, the Swiss architectural firm wasn’t exactly anonymous. Having just finished the masterful Tate Modern makeover, they were then promptly awarded the Pritzker Prize, the highest honor in architecture. Several high profile projects followed, but on August 8, 2008, their highest profile […]

When the Walker hired Herzog & de Meuron to design the expansion in 2000, the Swiss architectural firm wasn’t exactly anonymous. Having just finished the masterful Tate Modern makeover, they were then promptly awarded the Pritzker Prize, the highest honor in architecture. Several high profile projects followed, but on August 8, 2008, their highest profile building was unveiled to over 30 million people and introduced as…the Bird’s Nest.

It’s official name is, of course, the Beijing National Stadium and it is Beijing’s newest crown jewel. Site of the most stunning Olympic opening ceremony anybody I’ve talked to can remember, the stadium has been warmly embraced by China.

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Very warmly.

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But then again, so was the Walker. (more…)

Eero Saarinen or Disneyland?

Here’s a fun game I came up with as an introduction to the upcoming Eero Saarinen exhibition. To play: Guess if each image shows a) something designed by Saarinen or b) something in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland. A little bit of introductory information: Eero Saarinen, known as a key modernist designer and architect in the 20th century. […]

Here’s a fun game I came up with as an introduction to the upcoming Eero Saarinen exhibition.

To play:

Guess if each image shows a) something designed by Saarinen or b) something in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland.

A little bit of introductory information:

Eero Saarinen, known as a key modernist designer and architect in the 20th century. He often collaborated with Charles Eames and famously used sweeping architectural arches and curves.

Disneyland opened in 1955 and Tomorrowland was given a total makeover in 1967. The new Tomorrowland famously used sweeping architectural arches and curves to reflect the modernist view of the future.

Leave your guesses in the comment section!

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b.b.jpg (more…)

Building more than a name

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Niteroi, Brazi. The process leading to a new building — particularly when that building is home to a major arts institution — is anything but slapdash. Just ask the people who spearheaded the massive capital campaigns and selection of architects that led to the new Walker, Guthrie and Minneapolis […]

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The Museum of Contemporary Art in Niteroi, Brazi.

The process leading to a new building — particularly when that building is home to a major arts institution — is anything but slapdash. Just ask the people who spearheaded the massive capital campaigns and selection of architects that led to the new Walker, Guthrie and Minneapolis Institute of Art buildings. That’s why I’m baffled with the crux of a New York Times story today about handwringing over the recent work of Oscar Niemeyer, one of the 20th century’s most influential architects.

Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff leads off by asking “What to do with our aging architectural heroes? What if their genius deteriorates and they begin tinkering with their own masterpieces?” and points to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Niteroi, Brazil, as particularly egregious. Ouroussoff should have posed a more poignant question — “Why did you select this architect?” — to the people responsible for commissioning Niemeyer. Perhaps Niemeyer, whom Ourousoff describes as “one of Brazil’s greatest national treasures,” is so synonymous with architecture there that nobody dared think critically about Niemeyer’s contemporary relevance.

Most projects go to bid, a process in which selection committees vet competing proposals. Not so with the new Walker. For Expanding the Center: Walker Art Center and Herzog & de Meuron, recently departed director Kathy Halbreich wrote an essay detailing the “extensive search and several flirtations” leading up to selecting the architect:

“We eschewed a competition because we wanted to begin the process with a lengthy series of conversations rather than a stack of preconceived ideas or partially digested drawings. This is the first of many risks we took that in hindsight make perfect sense. The architects worked like inspired detectives, mining our archives, studying topographical maps, talking to staff … and drawing, drawing, drawing.” Halbreich goes on to write “We know the form the new Walker has taken is specific to its mission to be ‘a catalyst for the creative expression of artists and the active engagement of audiences.’ It’s not a model for all institutions, and it may not be a model for any others.”

You have to ask, why not? The new Walker, now almost three years old, is a success by almost any measure, among them large increases in paid admissions, box office receipts and business in the gift shop. Nobody can say how much of that can be pinned on the architecture, but it doesn’t take an advanced degree in the field to see that a thoughtful, thorough front end is the best insurance against surprises on the back end.

SAAM’s new courtyard

Michael Edson at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Eye Level blog writes about the opening of their new courtyard on Sunday. The courtyard reminds me of the Mall of America, but with art instead of shopping. It is an impressive encapsulation of a formerly out of doors space, with a unique walk-on-water pathway, letting everyone […]

SI Courtyard

Michael Edson at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Eye Level blog writes about the opening of their new courtyard on Sunday. The courtyard reminds me of the Mall of America, but with art instead of shopping. It is an impressive encapsulation of a formerly out of doors space, with a unique walk-on-water pathway, letting everyone be Jesus. Jeff Gates wrote about the experience:

My natural inclination was to walk around the feature. But it was designed to be walked on (and designed so that, by the time you reach the entrances to the museum, your feet will be dry). I’m sure children will get a kick out of the experience. And if we can overcome our predilection to keep our feet on dry ground, adults will too.

SI Courtyard walk on water

And SAAM’s doing the new media thing too. They are live-blogging the public opening (prediction: lots of people) and have created a flickr group for visitor’s photos.

Photo credits: David S. Holloway/Reportage by Getty Images for Smithsonian Institution, Jeff Gates

More on Rirkrit’s Thai pad

Chiang Mai-based architect Aroon Puritat writes in to share more photos of the house he designed for (and with) Rirkrit Tiravanija in the northern Thai provincial capital. And Bangkok-based architect/writer Rachaporn Choochuey offers her perspective on the structure, reminding us of Rirkrit’s work in architecture (including his 1997 installation of a 1:2 scale model of […]

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Chiang Mai-based architect Aroon Puritat writes in to share more photos of the house he designed for (and with) Rirkrit Tiravanija in the northern Thai provincial capital. And Bangkok-based architect/writer Rachaporn Choochuey offers her perspective on the structure, reminding us of Rirkrit’s work in architecture (including his 1997 installation of a 1:2 scale model of Philip Johnson’s Glass House in the courtyard at MoMA). She says Rirkrit’s is “the first real ‘contemporary’ Thai house”:

Rirkrit told us that the idea of the house is to have very simple concrete building, elevated from the ground – the least touch. The exisiting site has a lot of trees, they did not want to cut any of them. So the building is inserted in the site in a zigzaging manner among the trees around. The main space is this big, simple, rough but very strong courtyard of the house where the main activities (the kitchen, the library and the entrance). The veranda running around the courtyard, connecting everything around together is very crucial part here… Altogether, the space is very relaxing but strong…

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Interactive projection on York Minster cathedral

Haque Design + Research has created an fantastic 80,000 lumen interactive projection on the facade of York Minster cathedral, in York, England. It is called Evoke: The facade is brought to life by members of the public, who use their own voices to “evoke” colourful light patterns that emerge at the building’s foundations and soar […]

York Minster cathedralHaque Design + Research has created an fantastic 80,000 lumen interactive projection on the facade of York Minster cathedral, in York, England. It is called Evoke:

The facade is brought to life by members of the public, who use their own voices to “evoke” colourful light patterns that emerge at the building’s foundations and soar up towards the sky, giving the surface a magical feeling as it melts with colour.

People with voices of different frequencies, rhythms or cadences will be able to evoke quite different magical patterns upon the surface of the building – a staccato chirping will result in a completely different set of visual effects to a long howl for example, blending old and new to continue animating the facade of the Minster.

I would love to see video of this. This may be blasphemy, but it has a look reminiscent of a blinged-out myspace page or a super-saturated screenprint test page. The neon colors are totally foreign to gothic architecture, and it looks like something too far out for even a Blade Runner world.

[via Interactive Architecture]

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