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parks + public spaces

Frieze NY Is Here: See How to Get There

From across the pond and into a SO-IL-designed tent pitched on the banks of the East River, it’s Frieze New York, back for a sophomore edition after attracting some 45,000 visitors to its stateside debut last year. The fair, which opens today, is the largest ever hosted by Frieze, according to directors Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover. All that’s standing between you and the offerings of 189 galleries ranging from Air de Paris to Zeno X is the commute to Randall’s Island, the 480-acre park that Robert Moses first designated for recreational use–before that it was home to public facilities such as a boys’ home, a hospital, and a home for civil war veterans, which all sound like promising fodder for future Frieze Projects, the fair’s site-specific program of art projects. Prepare for your island adventure by watching the below video.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro on Turning Lincoln Center Inside Out

“After so many years of averting the border patrol between the disciplines of art and architecture, while inhabiting both yet claiming to be outsiders, this is the ultimate validation,” said Elizabeth Diller last Wednesday at the Plaza Hotel, as she joined partners Ricardo Scofidio and Charles Renfro in accepting the American Academy of Rome’s Centennial Medal for their exceptional contributions to the worlds of architecture and the visual arts. The trio spent the previous evening at the New York Public Library, where they discussed their interdisciplinary design studio’s renewal of Lincoln Center. We asked writer Nancy Lazarus to attend the event and harvest some memorable quotes. Learn more on May 10, when Diller and Scofidio will be joined by DS+R monograph author Edward Dimendberg for a book talk at the Center for Architecture.

Redesigning Lincoln Center was an epic undertaking that involved a prominent public landmark and a painstaking process that evolved over nearly ten years. Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the design studio behind most of the project, has chronicled their experiences in Lincoln Center Inside Out: An Architectural Account (Damiani). The three principals shared their views on the project and the book at a recent event hosted by New York Public Library and moderated by Barry Bergdoll, chief curator of architecture and design at MoMA. The DS+R trio is just as articulate as they are creative, so here are excerpts from that discussion.

On Lincoln Center’s design:
Diller: The old Lincoln Center was too elitist, solid, and turned its back on the neighborhood and community. We were drawn to the promenade levels where everyone pours out in the middle of events. We wanted to extend that social feeling to the rest of the project. We broke down the edges to enable events in the public spaces. There’s more symmetry now across the public and private spaces.

Scofidio: There were no photos of the old Lincoln Center except the main plaza with the fountain. Someone said that in the 1960s, plazas were designed to be desolate.

On how they approached the project:
Diller: To win the project we showed many ideas, since we tend to think in multiples, with different approaches and solutions. We demonstrated our affection for the place and showed how to take it to the next step. We felt we could do it justice and interpret it for contemporary culture. We wanted to transform Lincoln Center for the logic of our time.

Scofidio: We didn’t go in and say here are the problems we have to correct. We just said we can finish Lincoln Center.
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Quote of Note | Adam Gopnik

“My own theory about why Picasso agreed to do it [create a sculpture for Chicago's Richard J. Daley Plaza in 1965] after many stops and starts, and despite being a totally unreliable and temperamental character, as all interesting artists are, is–and it’s buried in the Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill correspondence–is that somebody told him that Miró was doing something even bigger in a related space in Chicago. And Picasso really was the Michael Jordan of modern art, not just In the sense of being incredibly accomplished but in the sense of being utterly driven by competitive fire and an unrealized sense of grievance at every turn, that somebody else would outdo him or do better than him. And I suspect that played a significant role in getting him to do it.”

-Writer Adam Gopnik on the Chicago Picasso (pictured), in a recent talk at the Art Institute of Chicago, where “Picasso and Chicago“–the first large-scale Picasso exhibition organized by the museum in almost 30 years–is on view through May 12.
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Triangle Fire Memorial Jury Seeks ‘Something That Can’t Be Ignored’

It was 102 years ago this week that a fire broke out in the cutting room of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York’s Greenwich Village. When the fire department responded to the blaze, which soon spread to the “fireproof” building’s eighth, ninth, and tenth floors, the ladders and hoses didn’t reach past the sixth floor. Some 146 workers perished in less than 20 minutes. The tragedy, which played a pivotal role in the movement to enact worker safety laws, is getting a permanent memorial, but what form should it take? (We’re thinking three sides?) The group spearheading the initiative is now seeking ideas with an international design competition.

“We need something that can’t be ignored,” says Mary Anne A. Trasciatti, executive director of the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition. “That compels passersby to take notice, stop, and reflect. That will make them work for a better world where something like the Triangle Fire never happens again.” To enter, simply sketch out your idea for the memorial on a 24” x 36” sheet and submit it online (register here by April 5 and upload your entry by April 12). A jury that includes Daniel Libeskind and Deborah Berke will select a shortlist of ten entries to further develop their designs and later reconvene to make a final selection of the top three prizewinners and honorable mentions.

Situ Studio Creates ‘Heartwalk’ for Time Square

Times Square is awash in hearts this month. Tracey Emin‘s “I Promise To Love You” neonworks are now playing nightly on screens throughout the NYC hub in what is the largest coordinated effort in history by Times Square sign operators. And today the Times Square Alliance debuts Situ Studio‘s “Heartwalk,” the winner of its annual Valentine Heart Design competition, conducted this year in collaboration with Design Trust for Public Space.

The designers at Brooklyn-based Situ Studio looked to the collective experience of Hurricane Sandy as inspiration for their installation, made from hundreds of boards salvaged from storm-ravaged boardwalks in areas such as the Rockaways and Atlantic City. The heart-shaped enclosure, located opposite the TKTS booth, is illuminated from within. Visitors can prowl the perimeter and peek through the slats or step inside, through a flattened area at the base. “We were interested in creating a room within the city–a public space that was simultaneously interior and exterior,” says Situ Studio partner Bradley Samuels. “‘Heartwalk’ is a reflection on the things that bind us together, ephemeral and permanent.”

Metropolitan Museum Breaks Ground on New Plaza, Fountains


(Rendering by OLIN)

Change is afoot along the Metropolitan Museum of Art‘s four-block-long outdoor plaza (fear not, the crowd-pleasing front steps will remain just as they are). Last renovated four decades ago with an eye to vehicular access, the plaza is undergoing a $65 million transformation masterminded by an OLIN team led by partner Dennis McGlade. The new outdoor plaza will open to the public in the fall of 2014 as “The David H. Koch Plaza,” announced the museum at last week’s groundbreaking (a symbolic affair, postponed by Hurricane Sandy, as excavaction got underway in October). Koch, a museum trustee, donated the entire project budget.

Among the upgrades are improved museum access, including additional seating options on either side of the grand staircase and opening up a variety of pedestrian routes by replacing existing pavement with granite paving. Then there are the fountains: it’s out with the door-impeding long ones and in with contemporary circle-in-a-square versions. Flanked by long stone benches, the new granite fountains will flow year-round thanks to freeze-fighting recycled steam. Fluidity Design Consultants promises “glassy water streams” that will be individually size-controlled and programmed to present a wide variety of programmable patterns. Visitors that can tear themselves away from the sure-to-be-mesmerizing water features can frolic among some 100 newly planted trees, including allées of large Little Leaf Linden trees, to be pruned in the form of two Palais Royal-style aerial hedges. All of this will be cleverly illuminated by a new lighting scheme developed by L’Observatoire International.

Watch This: A Year in the Life of the High Line

With the new year fast approaching, the abandoned railway-turned-urban skypark that is New York’s High Line takes a look back at a triumphant–and occasionally trying (thanks, Sandy)–2012 in this peppy photo montage. Approximately 4.4 million people visited the High Line this year for leisurely strolls, free film screenings, field trips, artworks by the likes of Richard Artschwager and El Anatsui, photo ops with self-seeded plants and wild grasses, parties, and all sorts of other reasons you’ll see in the below “year in pictures.” Pull up a tapered plank and enjoy.

Fly Through Norman Foster’s Design for the New York Public Library

Change is afoot at the New York Public Library, which tapped Foster + Partners to mastermind an ambitious expansion that will more than double the public space within the 42nd Street building while preserving the 101-year-old landmark’s facade and its original interiors. Norman Foster joined NYPL President Anthony Marx last week at the library to unveil the initial schematic designs, which call for a new 100,000-square-foot lending library along with enhanced spaces for scholars, writers, and researchers. The video below offers an animated sneak peek at what the library will look like in 2018, once the project is completed. Entering through the library’s Fifth Avenue entrance, the camera travels on an east-to-west axis through the building’s first floor.

Nifty, Gifty: Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Lincoln Center Inside Out

Diller Scofidio + Renfro excels at inversion, masterly flipping concepts of public and private, nature and structure (see also: High Line, The). The interdisciplinary design studio’s transformation of New York’s Lincoln Center is revealed in the pages of Lincoln Center Inside Out: An Architectural Account, hot off the Damiani presses. Falling somewhere on the continuum between art book and architectural diary, the monograph chronicles the extensive redevelopment project through photographs, drawings, renderings, texts, and interviews. Upping the book’s giftability quotient are the series of 30 gatefolds: large-format photographs by the likes of Iwan Baan and Matthew Monteith that open up to stories and ephemera documenting the spaces shown in the images.

In Miami? So are Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio, and Charles Renfro. The trio will be signing books today at Design Miami from 1-2 p.m. before heading across the street to chat with Ari Wiseman, deputy director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, as part of the Art Salon series at Art Basel Miami Beach.

This is part of a series of elegantly wrapped December posts about desirable goods that we suggest you purchase with the laudable yet vague intent of giving to others and then keep for yourself. Got a “nifty, gifty” idea? Tell the UnBeige elves: unbeige (at) mediabistro.com

Previously on UnBeige:
Nifty, Gifty: Rodarte’s Out-of-This-World Ornament
Nifty, Gifty: Crate&Barrel 50th Anniversary Teapot

In Brief: Buckyball Takes Manhattan, $100 Million for Central Park, Tesla Museum, iPad Mini Debuts

• Public art meets Buckminster Fuller’s brand of “energetic-synergetic geometry” in “BUCKYBALL” (pictured) by Leo Villareal. The new sculpture goes on view tomorrow in New York’s Madison Square Park thanks to the Mad. Sq. Art program, which has previously commissioned works by artists such as Jessica Stockholder, William Wegman, and Ursula von Rydingsvard. Villareal’s nested geodesic spheres are lined with 180 LED tubes arranged in Fullerene formation, with individual pixels along the tubes that can display 16 million distinct colors at the direction of custom software. You have until February 1, 2013 to catch a brain-bending BUCKYBALL light show in the park.

• And speaking of leafy urban refuges, Central Park is $100 million richer thanks to John Paulson. The hedge funder (and park lover) announced yesterday that he is donating $100 million to the Central Park Conservancy. According to The New York Times, it’s the largest monetary donation in the history of New York City’s park system—and possibly the nation’s. And lest you suspect a bid for Paulson Plaza, nope. Nothing in the park will bear his name.

• Over in Long Island, a web-based campaign has succeeded in raising $1.3 million to preserve the laboratory of scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla. Fire up your Tesla coil and listen to the Science Friday interview with Matthew Inman, who spearheaded the crowdfunding effort to rightfully honor the man he describes as “the greatest geek who ever lived.”

• In other geektastic news, the iPad Mini is upon us. Thinner and considerably lighter than the third-generation iPad, it’s perfect for those with little arm strength: Apple touts it as “a revolutionary design you can hold in one hand.” To flummox your buying decision, the company chose the same day to announce the fourth-generation iPad. Both new models go on sale next Friday, with the iPad Mini starting at $329 and the iPad 4 starting at $499.

• If you want our advice, liquidate your tiny tablet device fund and hit the Madeline Weinrib sample sale, which runs from today through Sunday at ABC Carpet & Home in New York. The sale will include the designer’s vibrant handmade carpets, pillows, fabrics, furniture, fashion, and accessories, all reduced by 40% to 70%. Because ikat beats iPad any day.

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