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Posts Tagged ‘Le Corbusier’

Hello, Fada: Le Corbusier’s Radiant Rooftop Revealed

Nearly 50 years after his death, Le Corbusier is the man of the moment. The Swiss-born French multitasker is the subject of an exhibition (on view through September 23) at the Museum of Modern Art and the creator of a lamp that inspired Kanye West‘s latest album, while across the pond, Corbu’s modernist housing complex has been reborn at the hands of a self-described “icon­o­­clas­tic artist,” aged 36. We sent our man in Marseille Marc Kristal up on the roof.


(Photo: Olivier Amsellem)

It’s been a big year for architecture in Marseille. As part of the city’s designation as 2013’s European Capital of Culture, fifteen major projects, including new construction and renovations, have been created in the city and Provence region—everything from Rudy Ricciotti’s magisterial Museum of the Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean on Marseille’s J4 waterfront esplanade to the resurrection of the Eden Cinéma, the world’s first movie house, in La Ciotat (opening in October) to groundbreaking on Fondation Vasarély, set to open in 2014-15 in Aix-en-Provence.

But while benefiting from le hubbub surrounding the culture capital festivities, one of the year’s most exciting projects is an unaffiliated private undertaking with a major public component: the restoration and reopening of the rooftop gymnasium/solarium of Le Corbusier’s enormously influential 1952 housing complex, Cité Radieuse.

Despite its international reputation, Corbu’s original “Unité d’Habitation” is known locally as “La Maison du Fada”—Provençal for “The Crazy Person’s House”—as the people of Marseille responded less than enthusiastically when the Brutalist “vertical village,” with its 337 cleverly configured apartments, hotel, restaurant, shops, and school, was completed. The roof, which had been altered in ways that contravened Corbu’s intentions and fell into disrepair, was put up for sale in 2010 and quickly snapped up by the polymath French architect/designer Ito Morabito—known commonly by his nom de design Ora-Ïto—who has impeccably restored the interior and exterior spaces and transformed them into an art center he calls Marseille Modulor (in honor of Corbu’s human-scaled system of measurement) or MAMO (a playful tweaking of New York’s MoMA) for short.
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Le Corbusier at MoMA: A Globe-Spanning Show for a ‘Multitasking Character’

Le Corbusier said that he preferred drawing to talking, on the grounds that the former is “faster and leaves less room for lies.” And so we silently sketched a “vehement silhouette” of MoMA beside a pair of round eyeglasses and handed it to writer Nancy Lazarus, who knew immediately what to do. Here’s her take on the museum’s highly anticipated Corbu-fest.


Le Corbusier’s urban plan for Rio de Janeiro (1929). Inset, a 2012 photograph of his Villa Savoye (1928–31). © 2013 Artists Rights Society, New York/ADAGP, Paris/FLC. Photo © Richard Pare

So much for Swiss diplomacy and neutrality: Le Corbusier, a prolific artist and architect, was politically active and often provoked and antagonized those closest to him in the art world, according to Jean-Louis Cohen, professor in the history of architecture at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts.

Cohen spoke at the press preview for “Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes,” which opens Saturday at the Museum of Modern Art. He organized the exhibition and served as guest curator, working with Barry Bergdoll, MoMA’s chief curator of architecture and design. The comprehensive display of 320 objects draws on MoMA’s own collection and extensive loans from the Paris-based Le Corbusier Foundation, culminating a longstanding but rocky relationship with the artist.

The career of Le Corbusier (a Frenchman born in Switzerland as Charles-Edouard Jenneret) spanned six decades. The scope of his life’s work leaves the public both impressed and overwhelmed: he was involved in 400 architectural projects, completed 75 buildings, and published nearly 40 books. A small group of his buildings is now being considered for inclusion on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
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Tucker Viemeister Covers Everything

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Apparently Tucker Viemeister has been stricken with a terrible affliction: The Curse of Being Able to do Everything. His dad, legendary industrial designer Read Viemeister could also do anything (“And not just because he’s my dad,” he said). And yes, Tucker is named after the car–which his dad worked on. No pressure, right?

At his latest gig at Studio Red at the Rockwell Group (named for the soda, not that other RED) they’re working on everything from a frightening-sounding Coca-Cola Wellness Center to the Coke Cruiser, which is like an ice cream truck on a Segway. He says working at the Rockwell Group is like being in the Village People. We bet David Rockwell is the cop.

But back to being cursed. Le Corbusier was cursed. Da Vinci was cursed. Hitler was especially cursed, says Viemeister–he was a brilliant designer of SS uniforms, a Volkswagen, imposing architecture, and of course that pretty effective logo–but he was also cursed in a different way.

Viemiester himself has been single-handedly cursed by literally “good design”: he did the OXO Good Grips and can’t live it down. So what does a cursed man do? Choose “multi” over “total”. Take chances, for more choices. Cross-pollinate. And so, from the man who can do everything, a really good new idea:

We don’t have any good rituals for Martin Luther King Day, he says. So on January 15, eat lunch with someone from another race. The civil rights movement was all about integrating lunch counters and lunch with anyone is a good thing.

Viemeister also wins Best Designed Presentation for the conference, with slides that zipped by with continuity that made us feel like we were swooping through an IMAX-sized screen. He’s currently tied with Stanley Hainsworth for Best Hair.