Category:architecture

June 12, 2013

G8 Pop-Up Prison

g8_popup_prison.jpg

Here I am thinking that 12 years into this blogging thing, there's really no reason to keep shipping containers as their own category anymore, when BAM, up pops a sweet, containerized pop-up prison for G8 protestors in Ireland.

You may remember, or maybe you don't, that in 2002 Camp Delta, the prison annex to Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo, was quickly built from shipping containers to handle the influx of prisoners from the GWOT.

If there's a difference between the GTMO container cells and the Irish ones, it's that the G8 cells are reportedly highly temporary, and that the police are promising that protestors will be arrested, processed, charged, and properly incarcerated in record time, just "a matter of hours." Europe. It really is the little differences.

G8: Courts 'can deal with 260 protest arrests a day' [bbc]

cady_noland_wash_mon_sm.jpg

Here's a shot I took today of the scaffolding around the Washington Monument for its post-earthquake restoration.

Every time I go by I think how awesome it would be, and until I hear or see otherwise, I'll just keep hoping and assuming it's the case that, instead of Michael Graves' tired, pomo cartoon scrim, the National Park Service is actually encasing it Budweiser cans, installing a massive adaptation of the 1989 work, This Piece Has No Title Yet, by DC's own Cady Noland.

What? I'm sure Don and Mera could totally make it happen!

noland_piece_no_title.jpg

This Piece Has No Title Yet, 1989, Dimensions variable, you guys! [rfc.museum]


DAY AFTER UPDATE: Whoa, well, then. The Hirshhorn board split and Koshalek announced his resignation by year-end. What a way to go.

While designer Liz Diller made her politico-architectural case for The Hirshhorn Bubble in her 2012 TED talk, the Museum's own justification for the project has been unclear and uncompelling.

Explanations center on making the Hirshhorn "an agent for cultural diplomacy." In February director Richard Koshalek told Kriston Capps, "This institution should be the leader in terms of setting arts and cultural dialogue. Cultural policy is set in Washington, D.C." This is debatable enough, as both mission and content.

The programming that's always discussed, though, a "Center for Creative Dialogue," involves conferences and discussions created by the Council on Foreign Relations and outside staff, not the Hirshhorn itself, or even the Smithsonian. Critics of the Bubble vision like Tyler Green note this disconnect, and that the Museum doesn't need a bubble to host such policy-flavored forums and events; they could do it right now, in the existing auditorium. And in fact, they did just that last Fall, where a capacity crowd watched TV journalist Judy Woodruff moderate a panel on "Art and Social Change" during to the Ai Weiwei exhibition.

No, The Bubble is a thing apart, apparently, from the programming that would inhabit it. Its absurdist form on this symbolic site, and the transgressive gesture towards Gordon Bunshaft's concrete donut, are meant to be self-justifying. Capps calls it "a public art stunt," and the Washington Post suggests it could "break DC from stagnation." It's starchitecture as spectacle and a catalyst for attention and, eventually, one hopes, the holy grail of Washington existence: relevance.

Meanwhile, it's amazing that until Capps' reconsideration of the project last winter in the City Paper, there was no mention of what would be, for lack of a better term, the business model: The Bubble would be a for-hire event space.

Koshalek swears the Inflatable will engage the Hirshhorn's curators, too. When the Bubble is inflated, part of its programming will correspond with whatever's lining the gallery walls of the museum. The rest of the timeshare will go to whichever universities, think tanks, and corporations rent it out--a money-making proposition for the Hirshhorn which could lead to exclusive uses not quite in keeping with Diller's civic scheme. (And certainly not with the museum's artistic mission.)

May 20, 2013

Big Swingin' D[iller]

hirshhorn_dsr_balloon.jpg

The Hirshhorn's board is scheduled to vote on whether to proceed with The Bubble, the most prominent initiative of director Richard Koshalek since he arrived at the museum in 2009.

Even though The Bubble was the subject of one of my all-time favorite posts, I have not written much about it since. I have reservations about it, but I have only wished the museum's success, and so have been willing to give the current regime the benefit of the doubt as they pursue their vision.

But that has been a vague slog, and far from a sure thing. It's remarkable that the board which hired Koshalek is apparently reluctant to support his efforts to do what they presumably hired him for: raising the profile of the Hirshhorn, and raising money for the Hirshhorn and its exhibitions, acquisitions, and educational programs.

Maybe that is because there are persistent and unaddressed issues with The Bubble and its ostensible purpose. It is true that Koshalek's stated vision for The Bubble--to host some kind of cross-disciplinary cultural forum, with content generated not by the Museum, or even the Smithsonian, but by the Council on Foreign Relations--still comes across as squishy and alarmingly unconcerned with actual art and artists. That disconnect is even more inexplicable for being unnecessary.

About The Bubble itself, though: I didn't care much either way before, but after watching Liz Diller's TED talk from March 2012, I am really starting to sour on Diller Scofidio + Renfro's design and their entire approach. Titled "A Giant Bubble for Debate," Diller's speech is the rare, unmediated, extended discussion of The Bubble by a principal. As such, it's worth a closer read.

For Diller and her client, who wants to take advantage of the Museum's unique and symbolic site "at the seat of power in America," the National Mall, "the question is, 'Is it possible, ultimately, for art to insert itself into the dialogue of national and world affairs?' and 'Could the Museum be an agent of cultural diplomacy?'" Technically that's two questions, which not only are not answered, but which beg more questions--insert itself to what end, and agent for whom?

diller_bubble_TED.jpg

"I blush whenever I show this," says Diller of the slide above, to laughter. "It is yours to interpret." Wait, what? So I guess she interprets this insertion into the Hirshhorn's hole as a phallus? Or given the material, I guess it could be a sex toy, or a condom? Or at least some flavor of kink, given the "study of some bondage techniques" that went into the tension cable design on the next slide?

Diller continues: "We were asked by the bureaucracy at the Mall, 'How long would it take to install?' And we said, 'The first erection will take one week.'" And if it lasts longer than that, I guess, call your architect.

diller_panel_TED.jpg

Diller shows the interior space of The Bubble in use, with renderings of a panel discussion in the round; a spotlit performer; a movie screening; and a Barbara Kruger-style text projection. In every instance, the activity is the same: an audience sits and watches something happen. This "breath of democracy" turns out to be just more entertainment and spectacle. And this purportedly transgressive, iconoclastic structure does absolutely nothing to change or challenge the programs of the Mall's museums Diller just criticized, or by extension, the structures of power she pretends to subvert.

Diller's claim that her structure, built to house extravagantly ticketed events like TED, the WEF, and CFR fora, will somehow embody "the ideals of participatory democracy" is obviously nothing but hot air.

Which is still just part of the problem, seeing as how the ideals The Bubble is embodying are those of pay-to-play capitalism. More on that in the next post.

liston_rear_range_gsa_1.jpg

I know the US Government is selling off lighthouses all the time, but the Liston Range Rear Light in Delaware strikes me as exceptional.

It is a 120-ft tall, braced iron tube built in 1876 that sits, unusually for a light house, three miles inland from the mouth of the Delaware River. It stands on around half an acre of land. It's a few miles south of 95; I think that's the exit where the Denny's is. There's a 100sf building at the base that's included, but the adjacent keeper's house and assistant keeper's house were sold quite some time ago. The cylindrical tower is lined with wood, and the steel spiral staircase has five landings, in case you need to rest on the way up.

liston_rear_range_gsa_2.jpg

As a range light, it is twinned with a front light which is lower and closer to the water's edge. Ships navigate by aligning the two lights in a range light.

liston_fresnel_loc.jpg

The Liston Range Rear Light still contains its 2nd-order Fresnel lens, which is unusual.

It is now being sold by the US Coast Guard. The current bid is $10,000. I repeat, $10,000.

One catch, and it's a big one, is that the Coast Guard retains title to the Fresnel lens unless and until it decides it doesn't need to be in the range light aid to navigation business anymore. At which point, it may decide to give the lens to the lighthouse's owner. Who must agree "to display the Fresnel Lens if and when it is discontinued in accordance with the standards set forth in the Guidelines on the Care and Maintenance of Historic Classical Fresnel Lenses."

It's a bummer about the Fresnel Lens, but until I can get my hands on one of those late 19th century War Dept. Gettysburg observation towers, this range light might have to do.

Liston Light Tower [gsaauctions.gov]
Liston Rear Range, DE [lighthousefriends.com, bottom image of Fresnel Lens, LOC via LHF]
Liston Rear Range Light [wikipedia]

judd_constr_permits.jpg

I don't know how they knew, but I was asked to write about ARO's restoration of 101 Spring Street for Architect Magazine. I've been a huge fan of Donald Judd's architecture since I first visited his spaces almost 20 years ago, so I was somewhere between concerned, wary, and freaking out over what was going to happen to the artist's works.

So I attended the Judd Foundation's preview last week [EXCLUSIVE GREG.ORG IMAGES ABOVE, BELOW]. Basically what happened was, after 19 years of life-consuming effort and stress, a shit-ton of money, and a near-fanatical approach to conservation, 101 Spring Street is done and saved. [Well, technically, it's almost done. Like 99% done.]

judd_wifi.png

The second biggest surprise was ARO's absolutely amazing transformation of the subterranean levels at 101 Spring into the beautiful, light-filled offices of the Judd Foundation. I'd been in the basement once before, way back when, and it was a dingy, dark, leaky mess. Now the original 19th century sidewalk vaults and floorlights [below] work and look fantastic. Even as they go to extraordinary lengths to preserve their dad's spaces, Judd's kids also managed to create something for themselves as well.

juddfndn_floorlights_.jpg

Meanwhile, I tried to write about Judd in the empiricist style of Judd. It turned out to be very difficult. And if no one noticed or said anything about it, Ima guess that I was only partly successful at it. Still, a very nice thing to write about.

101 Spring Street by Donald Judd (and ARO) [architectmagazine]
The Judd Foundation will start guided visits of 101 Spring Street in June 2013. [juddfoundation.org]

domus_195_munari_frey.jpg

I've had this spread from Domus 195 on my desktop so long, I've forgotten who or where it came from, but the issue, from 1944, was designed by Bruno Munari.

domus_195_maggiore.jpg

"Case su Trampoli," or "Houses on Stilts" juxtaposes an awesome fisherman's shack on Lago Maggiore with early modernist designs by architects from Le Corbusier to Albert Frey. Who had worked for Le Corbusier, on the Villa Savoye, in fact.

But it's really the combination of the shack and Frey's Canvas Weekend House on the lower left which gets me. Frey built it for and/or with Lawrence Kocher in 1933-4 at Fort Salonga, in Northport, LI, which turned into a little modernist enclave.

kocher_frey_canvas_hse.jpg

Did I mention it was made of canvas? After the critical success of their Aluminaire House, Frey & Kocher experimented with designs with the backing of cotton and textile manufacturers, but the only one to actually get built was Kocher's own house.

Marine canvas was stretched horizontally over a redwood frame, insulated with aluminum foil, and nailed, painted & sealed. Joseph Rose's Frey monograph says it had to be resealed every three years, but I can't see how long the canvas house actually stood.

kocher_frey_canvas_hse_1.jpg

The most detail I've seen online comes from Tania Gonzales Gonzales' series of blog posts, an assignment to analyze the house's structure and propose an addition to it.

fuller_rubin_toulouse.jpg

Well there we are, then. Bob Rubin got the prize, the 50-foot prototype of Buckminster Fuller's Fly's Eye Dome, which he's now restored and will unveil to the world in May-June at the Festival International d'Art in Toulouse, which used to be Printemps de Septembre, but is now actually in the Spring, and Printemps de Printemps was obviously not going to work, so. Whatever they call it, and whenever it is, this is a junket I will accept.

Anyway, The Architect's Newspaper has the story, which Phaidon's hype-y account distorted beyond recognition.

Max Protetch had been working these domes since at least 2008, and the Buckminster Fuller Institute sold the 10-ft prototype to Norman Foster, and the 24-ft version to Miami developer Craig Robins, who Miami'd the hell out of that thing in 2011.

With architectural expertise and sympathy running as deep as his pockets, Rubin is probably the best guy to take this on. And though Fuller's original engineering consultants Daniel Reiser and John Warren are involved, there's no luxury yachtmaker mentioned. So maybe Rubin's restoration will have some historical sensitivity.

Meanwhile, I will console myself with the knowledge that since the 50-foot dome is the only one you could conceivably live in, if I'd bought it, I would have been tempted to make unconscionable ahistorical modifications to it. Like windows. And a door. So I'm better off with a repro.

Robert Rubin restoring a monumental Buckminster Fuller dome. [archpaper via bfi via phaidon wtf via @wefindwildness]

Previously:
2011 Fuller's Fly's Eye Dome Gets Miami Makeover
2008 Welcome to the Fly's Eye Dome

January 16, 2013

Levi's Street View

Whether the uncanny valley is the right metaphor, or seeing a dog walking, something still feels weird about seeing store interiors on Google Street View. I'm sure that'll change, and one day we'll all be holoshopping without ever leaving our pods, our purchases delivered by robot Google vans, and people will struggle to remember the last time they even looked at the Street View part of Street View, much less actually went anywhere.

gsv_levis_08.jpg

But that day is not yet. And the workings of Store View are still odd and/or unknown, and thus interesting. For example, here is the Levi's store on West 34th St, tweeted by @ManBartlett.

Maybe the making of is interesting only in contrast to the entire concept of a surfable depopulated chain store filled with mountains of indistinguishable jeans. Or is it just me? Can you barely contain your excitement for the day when you can virtually fall into all 5,000 Gaps?

gsv_levis_09.jpg

Anyway, let's look around. They have image date now [Feb. 2012]. Is that new? Obviously, with high merchandise turnover, you'd want to keep that relatively fresh. Store View will become just one more monthly/seasonal expense for a retailer. I see they don't blur the faces of either the models or the mannequins. It'd be kind of cooler if they did. Even ironically?

Or better if the Street View blur turned up in someone's IRL in-store/ad campaign. Oh, damn, there's your pitch right there, creative director: some street style photoblogger is "captured" at work by the GSV car. A Street [View] style blog. BAM. Embed those shoots all over town. A viral bonanza.

Look at me, revolutionizing advertising when I'm supposed to be reviewing pano stitching algorithms. These panos sure are distortion-free. A major advance? The benefit of shooting undisturbed in ideal conditions? Hey, what's that at the bottom of the picture up there? A tripod leg.

gsv_levis_07.jpg

And here's the whole, stitched thing. That is very nice. Here it is again, this time with a shadow.

gsv_levis_03.jpg

This is not a camera on wheels. It's on the tripod, single vantage point for every pano, operator out of the way. That's why there are no distortions. And the only evidence of the process is the legs.

gsv_levis_01.jpg

Which, again, are rather nice. Kind of kaleidoscopic, with a blend of in-focus tips and blurry legs. Soon enough, these Matrix deja vu cat-level distortions will disappear, and the differences between real and virtual will be mistaken for mist, or heat waves rising from the sidewalk.

gsv_levis_06_cu.jpg

Zooming right into Grotjahn country here. This is sweet. Looks like this pano sphere has maybe 48 slices, each 7.5 degrees? In satelloonmaking, they're called gores. What do they call them in panoramic photos?

gsv_levis_05_cu_lg.jpg


January 15, 2013

Brought A Trailer

tysons_trailer_01.jpg

I hate malls in general, Tyson's in particular, and Tyson's at Christmas most of all. So I was beyond annoyed that it was the nearest/soonest Genius Bar appointment when the foot came off my laptop.

All was forgiven, though, when I saw this slightly amazing portable building. An office module on a trailer.

tysons_trailer_02.jpg

I do not know what it was for--I didn't notice that now-obvious sign by the steps. And I don't know whether to put it in the tiny home, prefab, shipping container, or cabin porn category.

tysons_trailer_03.jpg

It's really one space on the inside. With a window unit A/C, a little bit of a hack. It looked a little shabby, i.e., used, broken in, so it presumably wasn't [just?] a materials/color mockup for reskinning a nearby office building.

tysons_trailer_04.jpg

If it's a temporary building, though, such as one might find on a giant construction site like the one enveloping the entire Tyson's Corner area, we should definitely give credit where it's due; this thing is far sweeter than the standard issue site office.

The sad part is, now that I've insulted their mall, I feel bad about calling and asking what it's for. Maybe someone else can be the citizen journalist here and cold call the mall with a, "What's this awesome thing I saw on the internet?? You guys are so awesome!"

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Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

about this archive

Category: architecture

recent projects, &c.


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Social Medium:
artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
ed. by Jennifer Liese
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Madoff Provenance Project in
'Tell Me What I Mean' at
To__Bridges__, The Bronx
11 Sept - Oct 23 2016
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Chop Shop
at SPRING/BREAK Art Show
curated by Magda Sawon
1-7 March 2016

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eBay Test Listings
Armory – ABMB 2015
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It Narratives, incl.
Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
Franklin Street Works, Stamford
Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
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TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -
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Standard Operating Procedure
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CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
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"Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
about, brochure | installation shots


HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
panel &c.


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Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
background | making of
"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

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Canal Zone Richard
Prince YES RASTA:
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
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