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Archives: December 2012

Building of the Year: Herzog & de Meuron’s New Parrish Art Museum


(Photo: Matthu Placek)

With an opening sandwiched between Hurricane Sandy and Art Basel Miami Beach, the Parrish Art Museum’s breathtaking new home in Water Mill, New York may have escaped your notice. In fact, that’s one of its charms. The Herzog & de Meuron-designed building is a stealth beauty, an extruded artist’s studio that appears as a bleached, barn-like structure set at a jaunty angle to Montauk Highway. We’re declaring the new Parrish our 2012 Building of the Year and urge you to make a New Year’s resolution to pay a visit.

“When we started to work on this project, one of the first things we did was visit artists’ studios here on the East End of Long Island,” Ascan Mergenthaler, the Herzog & de Meuron senior partner who was in charge of the $26.2 million Parrish project, told us last month at the museum’s opening. “We took the artist’s studio—the classic one, a house-shaped typology with north-facing skylights–as a role model for all the galleries that you find in this building.”

Set on property that was once a tree nursery (now a meadow studded with native plants masterminded by the landscape whisperers at Reed Hilderbrand), the 34,400-square-foot building is formed by a pair of rough and cloudy concrete walls that span 600 feet across and are edged, ingeniously, in a ledge that provides abundant outdoor seating and a human scale to all of that rugged horizontality. “The scheme was very simple,” added Mergenthaler. “We only had to add a porch and covered space [which extends off of the café and around the back] so that the outdoor space also becomes an inhabited space. And then you blur the boundaries between outdoor and indoor. We thought that was very important.”
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Jumpstart New Year’s Eve with Reykjavik’s Lawless Fireworks Extravaganza

Say what you will about St. Barts–we think Iceland is the place to ring in the new year. According to local lore, tonight is the night that cows talk, seals take on human form, the dead rise from their graves, and elves move houses. Residents celebrate with family dinners, bonfires, and fireworks, lots of them. The pyrotechnics spectacular is made possible by the country’s lack of restrictions on fireworks, and the entire population of Reykjavik–approximately 200,000 people–gets into the act. This year, those of us in less permissive nations can watch the massive fireworks display online: click here to watch the live broadcast at 7:00 p.m. Eastern / 4:00 p.m. Pacific.

Continue the explosive Icelandic fun with a New Year’s Eve screening of Bjӧrk‘s new music video, “Mutual Core” (below), commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles. “[MOCA director] Jeffrey Deitch contacted me a while ago, and he suggested that we collaborate on this, and it sounded like a good idea,” said the Reykjavik native in a recent interview with Paper magazine. “Because I’m an old punk, I’ve never done commercials or sponsoring or anything like this–I’ve been really strict with it–but with this, [Jeffrey] seemed to be helping us to make a music video. That sort of makes sense to me. It doesn’t feel like sponsoring.”
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Quote of Note | Eric Gibson

“It’s easy to make fun of Pyongyang’s Ozymandias statuary, its comical anachronisms (such as the monument, unveiled in April, showing the late Kim Jong-il astride a rearing charger) and its government buildings dolled up with Vegas levels of glitz. But this book takes us beyond the laughter to see the cost to the Korean people of this preening ideological environment. Public monuments and buildings in Pyongyang are illuminated at night, but private residences are largely dark. Artists aren’t independent creators but cogs working in teams with hundreds of others to crank out propaganda images of the Kims. Official buildings may be constructed of lavish materials–quarried stone and solid-gold door pulls–but housing for ‘the masses’ is made from pre-cast concrete that quickly begins to crack and leak.

One day the regime will fall and democracy will come to North Korea. We can only hope that, when it does, the successor government will preserve the monumental, public, propagandistic Pyongyang in all its perverse glory. It would be a real tourist destination, the world’s only totalitarian-kitsch theme park–a kind of lopsided Disneyworld–and an object lesson in what happens when art is hijacked by the state, and the individual is ground beneath the wheels of a repressive ideology.”

-Eric Gibson reviewing Philipp Meuser‘s Pyongyang Architectural and Cultural Guide (DOM) in the Wall Street Journal

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.

Harvard GSD Launches $100,000 Prize for Early-Career Architects

A new prize offers a Pritzker-sized purse for young architects. The Harvard Graduate School of Design‘s Wheelwright Prize is a $100,000 traveling fellowship that will be awarded annually to talented early-career architects worldwide. It’s an expansion of the school’s annual Arthur W. Wheelwright Traveling Fellowship (established in memory of Wheelwright, an 1887 GSD grad), intended to encourage the study of architecture outside the United States and formerly available only to GSD alums. Past fellows include Paul Rudolph, Eliot Noyes, I. M. Pei, and Adèle Naudé Santos. Now architects practicing anywhere in the world can apply for the prize, proposing research agendas outside of one’s country of residence. If you’ve graduated from a professionally accredited architecture degree program in the past 15 years, start polishing your portfolio along with a proposal for a research project accompanied by a travel itinerary. Applications will be accepted from January 10 through February 28. The winner, to be selected by an international jury, will be named on May 15, 2013.

Bright Idea: LED Lightbulbs Meet Wireless Technology

Tired of ugly lightbulbs and unsightly lightswitches? Dream of dimming lamps with the swipe of your iPhone? Check out RoboSmart, a new wireless LED lighting system that that can be controlled with a smartphone, tablet, or computer over Bluetooth Smart wireless. With an eye to simplifying the typical wireless lighting setup, Ian Crayford and his team at “Automation for the Masses” startup Smart Home Labs have developed an energy-efficient, Bluetooth-enabled LED lightbulb–designed to be a direct replacement for a standard 120V screw-in bulb–and apps (iOS and Android) for controlling it.

“We didn’t just want to take an existing LED lighting design and simply bolt on a circuit board with wireless,” says Clayton. “Our hardware team set out to develop a design that would be easy to put together and cost-effective, to make this technology accessible to the masses.” In addition to on/off and dimmer switch functions, the “Smart Lights” apps allow users to put lights on timers, keep track of power usage, and set proximity lighting, which can turn on and off one or more RoboSmart bulb as the user moves within range. Want to give it go? Silicon Valley-based Smart Home Labs is launching the product with a campaign on crowdfunding site IndieGoGo: the bulbs, priced at $49 each, will ship in February.

Conan Rounds Up Least Viral Videos of 2012

“Best of” lists are a dime a dozen at this time of year, but only the most discerning cultural critics dare to voyage into “worst of” territory. Conan O’Brien and Team Coco prove themselves up to the task in this roundup of the least viral videos of 2012. No “Gangnam Style” here, moving image fans, but you will find five less than scintillating and refreshingly trendproof gems such as the aptly titled “Reading.” And remember: virality is in the eye of the beholder. Andy Warhol would have taken these over PSY and “KONA 2012″ any day.

Design Jobs: UrbanDaddy, USO, BioReference Laboratories

This week, UrbanDaddy is hiring a photo researcher, while the USO is seeking a publications design specialist. BioReference Laboratories needs a graphic designer, and Applied Research Center is on the hunt for a graphic design manager. Get the scoop on these openings and more below, and find additional just-posted gigs on Mediabistro.

Find more great design jobs on the UnBeige job board. Looking to hire? Tap into our network of talented UnBeige pros and post a risk-free job listing. For real-time openings and employment news, follow @MBJobPost.

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.

Quote of Note | Adam Lindemann


Damien Hirst, who this month announced his defection from Gagosian Gallery, where he has been represented for 17 years.

“Through ‘loyalty,’ lethargy, apathy, or fear, the biggest-name artists have been willingly shackled to their heritage galleries–now that may be changing. I don’t believe this trend is specific to Gagosian. The very foundations of the ‘artist representation’ model are crumbling. Maybe all the top-selling artists will fire their galleries and form one big collective, then they can just set prices and cut out the dealers. I’d prefer it if they charged one price at the door and then a bingo machine randomly chose which artwork you got; that would make it fun again.”

-Collector, gallerist, and writer Adam Lindemann in “The Art World Game Changers of 2012,” published in the December 24-31 issue of The New York Observer

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