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architecture

Restoration of Alvar Aalto’s Viipuri Library Wins World Monuments Fund Modernism Prize

RUS-Viipuri-glass-facadeThe 21-year-long project to restore Alvar Aalto‘s Viipuri Library in Vyborg, Russia (né Viipuri, Finland, before Stalin and co. took a fancy to it) has clinched the 2014 World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize, awarded biennially to an innovative architectural or design solution that has preserved or enhanced a modern landmark. The award will be made to the Finnish Committee for the Restoration of Viipuri Library with Vyborg’s Central City Alvar Aalto Library. Previous winners of the prize—$10,000 and a limited-edition Barcelona chair created by Knoll especially for the occasion—include an architectural consortium that restored typhoon-ravaged Hizuchi Elementary School on Japan’s Shikoku Island and the team effort of Bierman Henket Architecten and Wessel de Jonge Architects to restore the Zonnestraal Sanatorium in the Dutch town of Hilversum.

The Aalto-designed library was completed in 1935. “An icon of twentieth-century architecture—with its distinctive sky-lighted roof, undulating wood-slatted lecture hall ceiling, and glass façade-enclosed staircase—the library at Viipuri is one of Aalto’s most important buildings from the years in which he was adventurously exploring a new modernist vocabulary; indeed, photographs of the building soon made him known around the world,” said jury chairman and MoMA veteran Barry Bergdoll, professor of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, in a statement issued today by the WMF. “The restoration organized and executed an impressive international campaign that has ensured the survival and revival of Aalto’s masterpiece by restoring it to its original function as a vibrant municipal library.” The prize will be presented at New York’s Museum of Modern Art on December 1 followed by a free public lecture.

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Multimedia Journalism

Multimeida JournalismStarting November 6, work with a multiplatform journalist to create interactive packages using audio, photos, and video! In this course, Darragh Worland will teach you how to organize your news stories into complete multimedia packages, shoot video for the web, make an audiovisual slideshow, and build a multimedia portfolio on a blog. Register now!

Exhibition Showcases Five Decades of Michael Graves’ Designs at Home and Abroad

The upcoming Architectural League of New York symposium is but one (aqua-hued, curvy, multi-windowed) component of the Michael Graves 50th-anniversary extravaganza happening this fall. A show of the architect and product designer’s paintings are on view through the end of the year at NYC’s Studio Vendome gallery. And over in New Jersey, Grounds for Sculpture has mounted a Graves retrospective. Writer Nancy Lazarus visited the latter exhibition—and then followed Graves home.

graves GFSGolden banners hung from the rafters and bearing sketches of now-famous products greet visitors to Michael Graves: Past as Prologue at the Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey. The retrospective, on view through April 5, is a festive tribute to Graves and his architecture and design firm as they mark their fiftieth anniversary.

Organizing an exhibit spanning Graves’ prolific and ongoing career was no easy feat. “This was planned as a series of vignettes” chronicling the practice’s interdisciplinary work along with Michael’s owm drawings and paintings, explained Karen Nichols, principal at Michael Graves & Associates, at a recent press preview. The firm’s core values: aesthetics, functionality, and humanistic design, connect seemingly disparate projects.

Few architects can claim commissions as varied as the Portland Building, Louisville’s Humana Building, the Denver Library, decorative scaffolding for the Washington Monument, various Disney Resorts, and Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore. The photographs and architectural models tell the stories of Graves’ broad geographic scope.
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Ready the Creamed Corn! Canstruction Returns to New York

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“Polarized Against Hunger,” the Canstruction NY 2013 entry by GACE Consulting Engineers

Ever dreamed of recreating a Richard Serra sculpture with tomatoes from the pantry? Erecting a monumental tribute to Alexander McQueen’s armadillo heel using only canned peas and elbow grease? What about constructing a truly giant giant panda that can feed hundreds? Teams from top architecture and engineering firms will prove that they can do it, and for a good cause. The international charity competition that is Canstruction returns to New York City next month and with it the opportunity for teams of architects, engineers, and students they mentor to design and build giant structures made entirely from unopened cans of food—all of which are ultimately donated to City Harvest. The competing teams’ carefully stacked creations will be judged in categories that include Best Use of Labels, Best Meal, Structural Ingenuity, and Most Cans. The works will be on view from November 6 through November 20 in the Winter Garden and lobby of Brookfield Place. Bring non-perishable foods when you visit, and they’ll be donated along with the cans used in the competition.

Guggenheim Reveals Submissions for Helsinki Museum Design Contest

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The world is one step closer to Guggenheim Helsinki. The open, international competition for the design of the the proposed art and design museum, to be located on city-owned land in the southwestern part of Helsinki’s South Harbor, is nowhere near its big Finnish finish, but today the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation cut the virtual, Marimekko-patterned ribbon on an online gallery of submissions. The featured entries, which were received from 77 countries and can be filtered using trait-based tags (dome, glass, opaque, concrete, twisted, shiny, and more), are for stage one of the competition. Now it’s up to an 11-member jury chaired by Mark Wigley, Dean of Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, to convene in Helsinki to select six finalists on the basis of their architectural design, relationship to the site and the cityscape, practicality for users (including criteria for the use of materials), and feasibility. Stage two begins next month, and the big voittaja (winner) will be announced in June 2015.

Quote of Note | Daniel Libeskind

Daniel_Libeskind“People used to say, ‘Why don’t you design products also,’ and I would say, ‘I am designing buildings, big projects.’ Then one day a company asked me to design a door handle, and I started laughing because it is the smallest object. But I kept thinking about it and suddenly I had a revelation—why not? I mean, it is something that is part of everyday life. So I said, ‘Sure I’ll design the door handle.’ And I did, and I thought that was it. Then months later I was asked to design a door. And I had this other revelation—first I had the door handle, then a door, then you have to open the door. Then suddenly I realized what an incredible thing I had come across, something that I had never thought about. And that’s how I began designing all type of objects. Large or small, all the things that have to do with design are things we have to use everyday. From there grows the whole idea of the environment. I was lucky to come across these opportunities. And like Frank Lloyd Wright said, ‘To design a chair it is as difficult as to design a city.’”

—Architect Daniel Libeskind

Hagy Belzberg, Paola Navone Among New Members of Interior Design Hall of Fame

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An interior view of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, designed by Belzberg Architects. The subterranean building, topped by an insulated roof of green-landscaped park ground, has received LEED Gold certification. (Photo: Iwan Baan)

Interior Design magazine is gearing up to add four members to its Hall of Fame: Hagy Belzberg of Santa Monica-based Belzberg Architects, architects David Lake and Ted Flato of San Antonio-based design firm Lake|Flato, and Paola Navone, the shape-shifting Italian architect, designer, art director, interior decorator, critic, teacher, exhibition organizer, and self-described “little bit of an anthropologist.” Andrea Woodner will receive a special leadership award for her work as founder and board president of the Design Trust for Public Space, an incubator that transforms and evolves the New York City landscape with city agencies and community collaborators. They’ll be honored at a gala on December 3 at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where the inductees will join the storied ranks of ID Hall of Famers such as Thierry Despont, Frank Gehry, Albert Hadley, and Andree Putman. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Council for Interior Design Accreditation and the Alpha Workshops. Meanwhile, in a first for the magazine, the December issue of Interior Design will be dedicated to Hall of Famers (150 members and growing) and how they have shaped the design world.

Quote of Note | David Chipperfield

(Mattias Kunz)“There are no indigenous materials anymore. You can find yourself in Italy being offered Indian marble because it’s cheaper, and that’s…it’s just very confusing. Or else the marble is Italian, but it’s being sent to India to be cut, and then shipped back to Italy. It means that unless you’re up in the Swiss mountains, or in the Cotswolds in England, where there are pre-described architectural languages that you should clearly respect, it’s a conceptual rather than practical issue. I do think it’s the case that because of industrialization and globalization everything is gradually starting to look the same, and the question is how can you stop buildings looking like each other? We just made a small office building (pictured) by the railway lines at King’s Cross in London, where they’ve recently dismantled the cast iron gasometers. I was inspired by all that Victorian architecture, which led to us making the columns from cast iron, which is actually a fantastic material. So in one sense, it’s a predictable and arbitrary connection to history, which is not necessarily right or wrong, but it’s a clue as to why you make a building different to others.”

-Architect David Chipperfield in an interview in The Travel Almanac. Chipperfield’s “Sticks and Stones,” an exhibition-cum-renovation prologue goes on view October 2 at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin.

Watch: At Home with Pablo Bronstein

Why settle for an ordinary vacation home when you can have a “baroque event”? Frieze recently visited artist Pablo Bronstein—who you may recall from the mythical architectural history of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that he conjured in 2009—on the east coast of Kent, England, where he is embracing a “mid-century, slightly granny” aesthetic and the “pleasurable mess” of baroque architecture. “I think that it has no shame,” he says. “Baroque architecture does everything it possibly can to appeal, to amuse, to impress, to show off, to seem heavy or grand or important. It’s really sort of desperate architecture.” Watch Bronstein discuss art, architecture, taste, and the playful pathos of postmodernism.

Mark Your Calendar: Open House New York

(Mikiko Kikuyama)Whether you live in the NYC area or need an excuse for a fall visit, check out Open House New York weekend on October 11 and 12. The event, now in its twelfth year, invites the public to explore architecture, design, and cultural sites throughout the five boroughs. Among the more than 200 sites that will open their doors (many typically closed to the public) are the 425-square-foot “Manhattan Micro-Loft” atop an Upper West Side brownstone, the meticulously restored Williamsburgh Savings Bank building at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge, and Kickstarter’s new Brooklyn headquarters, located in the remnants of the historic Eberhard Faber Pencil Factory. Listings of all OHNY Weekend sites will be posted on the OHNY website on September 30, and reservations can be made beginning at 11 a.m. on October 1. Be quick, because once the event guide hits newsstands on October 2 as an insert in Time Out New York, the waitlists—and disappointments—are bound to follow.

Eileen Gray Documentary to Debut at Architecture & Design Film Festival

eileen grayThe Architecture & Design Film Festival returns to New York next month with a slate of more than 25 designtastic films that will screen at Tribeca Cinemas. Kicking off the five days of cinematic pleasures on October 15 will be the world premiere of Marco Orsini’s Gray Matters, a documentary about designer and architect Eileen Gray.

Pay no heed to the clunky title; the film is a historical, scholarly, and cinematic investigation of Gray’s life and career—well beyond the headline-making $28 million auction sale of her Dragons chair. Orsini and his crew followed Gray’s own travels, from the Irish countryside to London, from Paris to the Riviera, and drew upon never-before-seen footage and candid interviews with scholars, curators, auctioneers and collectors, including four living peers and collaborators of the artist. Here’s the trailer, best enjoyed while relaxing in a concrete modernist villa:

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