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architecture

Big Time: Olafur Eliasson, Peter Zumthor Among New Mentors in Rolex Arts Initiative

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(Photos courtesy Studio Olafur Eliasson and Keystone/Christian Beutler)

Rolex’s Arts Initiative gives new meaning to the phrase “ones to watch.” For the past decade, the luxury watchmaker has paired mentors and protégés in dance, film, literature, music, theatre, visual arts, and—beginning last year—architecture for year-long creative collaborations. The program, which encourages dialogue between artists of different generations, cultures, and disciplines, has devised dynamic duos such as Anish Kapoor and Nicholas Hlobo, Zhang Yimou and Annemarie Jacir, and SANAA’s Kazuyo Sejima and Yang Zhao.

Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice was the setting for a festive gathering held earlier today to announce the seven creative wizards who will serve as mentors for the 2014-15 program: Olafur Eliasson (visual arts), Alejandro González Iñárritu (film), Michael Ondaatje (literature), Alexei Ratmansky (dance), Kaija Saariaho (music), Jennifer Tipton (theater), and Peter Zumthor (architecture). As for the emerging talents, it’s pick-your-own-protégé. Each of the mentors will choose a talented young artist to join them for a year of creative collaboration—and a grant of 25,000 Swiss francs (approximately $28,000, at current exchange rates).

Andrew Galuppi and Ahmad Sardar-Afkhami ‘Bring the Globe Home’ in Online Tag Sale

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“I really got some crossed looks when I brought this Indonesian mask back from a trip overseas,” says Andrew Galuppi (at right). “I took up most of the overhead bins!”

CM_portraitsLooking to ward off the evil eye with a wedding Hamsa from North Africa, amass an instant collection of Japanese liquor bottles, or add a Moroccan Beni Ouran rug to your living room? These exotic treasures and many more are just a click away thanks to interior designer Andrew Galuppi and architect Ahmad Sardar-Afkhami. The pair have teamed up with flash sale site One Kings Lane for “Camera Mundi” an online tag sale that begins today.

The collection of homegoods, priced from $20 to $3,000, includes rugs, furniture, statuary, and other objects collected by Galuppi and Sardar-Afkhami during their travels around the world. “Every handcrafted item is infused with someone’s story—they probably were taught their skill by a long-lost relative and spent hours on each piece, and without the help of a machine,” says Galuppi, who travels to India every winter. “This is part of the world I like supporting, because each piece carries with it an energy and a real story that gets transferred to your home.” We asked the globe-trotting designers to tell us more about “Camera Mundi,” the objects in the sale, and where their worldly, contemporary aesthetic will take them next.

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How did you come to work with One King’s Lane?
Ahmad Sardar-Afkhani: One of my close friends, Nate Berkus, was doing a sale with another friend, Ethan Trask, who works at One Kings Lane. We began talking and he proposed I create a sale mostly with the rugs and textiles I have been collecting.

Andrew Galuppi: Ahmad didn’t want to do the sale all alone—it’s more fun with a friend—so he knew my apartment was stuffed to the rafters with bits and bobs and he thought the mixture of our two collections would create one great big exciting assortment…kinda like a crazy bazaar!

Tell us about the significance of the title, “Camera Mundi”?
Sardar-Afkhani: In Latin, it means “room of the world,” where objects from different historical and cultural backgrounds can be displayed next to each other. I’m all for this type of juxtaposition, where new meaning and beauty is derived from assemblages of objects that would otherwise have little in common.

Galuppi: In addition to what Ahmad has explained…I think that a lot of people have really well curated homes these days, and including an object from some far away place will add texture and personality to a space to make it really feel finished and unique. That’s where “camera mundi” comes into place: bringing the globe home.
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National Trust for Historic Preservation Receives $2 Million from American Express

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation is waging a campaign to preserve the Astrodome and 34 other endangered places.

Endangered cultural and historic places: don’t leave home without (preserving) them. American Express is pitching in to help the National Trust for Historic Preservation in its work to save America’s historic places. The company will provide the privately funded nonprofit with a $2 million grant to help protect architectural, cultural, and natural heritage sites at risk of destruction or irreparable damage. Part of a $15 million, ten-year pledge made by American Express to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the grant funding will go to overall support of the National Treasures program—a revolving portfolio of endangered places that includes the Astrodome in Houston, Joe Frazier’s Gym in Philadelphia, Miami Marine Stadium in Miami, and Union Station in Washington, D.C.—as well as funding for specific preservation needs at some of the locations.

Mark Your Calendar: City Modern 2013

Archtober is nearly upon us, and the designtastic autumnal fun gets off to an urbane start with City Modern, celebrating the best in New York design and architecture. Now in its second year, the collaboration between Dwell Media and New York magazine kicks off next Friday with a Meet the Architects celebration, followed by a weekend of City Modern home tours in Manhattan and Brooklyn (the one pictured at right is “Skyhouse,” a project by architect David Hotson and interior designer Ghislaine Viñas that occupies a previously vacant four-story space at the tippy-top of one of the oldest surviving skyscrapers in NYC). The week continues with programming led by New York design editor Wendy Goodman and Dwell editor-in-chief Amanda Dameron, including a sure-to-be-stimulating conversation among Paola Antonelli of MoMA, the one and only Michael Bierut, and architecture critic Justin Davidson about “What Design can Do For New York City.” Get the full scoop on all eight event-packed days here.

Marseille’s MuCEM Trades ‘Bling-Bling Brightness’ for Bony Fragility, Sensual Cement

It’s Marseille’s moment. The port city, France’s largest on the Mediterranean coast, is in the spotlight as this year’s European Capital of Culture, with a host of major projects on view. Writer, author, and intrepid flâneur Marc Kristal paid a visit to the new and improved Museum of the Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean and filed this formidable report for us.


(All photos courtesy Rudy Ricciotti)

Comprised of two 15,000-square-metre structures—the 17th-century Fort St.-John and a new seven-level building by architect Rudy Ricciotti, linked by a slender 115-metre-long footbridge—Marseille’s Museum of the Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean (MuCEM), is, says director Bruno Suzzarelli, “an outstretched hand from France to the region.” Wishing to refuse the “bling-bling brightness” of signature-building starchitecture, Ricciotti responded to the fort’s massiveness with a “bony, feminine, fragile” design, executed almost entirely in high-strength concrete, and distinguished by a densely-patterned screen that covers two elevations and folds onto, and projects off of, the roof.

Seven hundred and eleven of the 15,688 cubic metres of MuCEM’s signature building material are comprised of fiber-reinforced ultra high performance concrete (UHPC), which proved especially suitable to the project: UHPC’s “closed-pore” compounding renders it virtually impervious to sea spray and other corrosive agents, and the highly “flowable” substance can adapt to the most elaborate molds—ideal for MuCEM’s latticework panels. Ricciotti also appreciated the material for its narrative qualities. “Cement can inspire dread in certain slums and elsewhere touch the sublime,” he observes. “And cement gives off a formidable sensuality.”
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Explore 3D Printed Fashion, Food Next Week in California

3D-printed guitars, food, and fashion will be displayed and discussed at Mediabistro’s Inside 3D Printing Conference & Expo next week, September 17-18 in San Jose, California. Join us there and network with leaders in the Silicon Valley tech community.

Design-oriented sessions include “Tools of Creation” and “The Future of Retail and Materials for 3D Printing,” which will be led by Isaac Katz of Electronic Art Boutique and David L. Bourell of Laboratory for Freeform Fabrication.
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Making Room: Inside Museum of City of New York’s ‘Launch Pad’ Model Micro Apartment

Are even tinier apartments the answer to better accommodating the emerging housing needs of major cities? An exhibition at the Museum of City of New York suggests as much, and the “live smarter and smaller” theme seems to be resonating—the popular show on new housing models has been extended to September 15. We asked writer Nancy Lazarus to head over to the museum’s fully built “micro unit” and make herself at home.

About thirty curious visitors filed into a 325-square-foot full-scale studio apartment model on a recent Friday afternoon. The occasion wasn’t a real estate open house, but a chance to experience a highly touted micro-unit called “The Launch Pad.”

The furnished model (pictured above) serves as the centerpiece of “Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers,” an exhibition on view through September 15 at the Museum of the City of New York. Amie Gross Architects and interior designer Pierluigi Colombo, founder of Resource Furniture, collaborated on the unit’s design.

Architectural models and design solutions from New York and selected cities worldwide are also showcased. These coincide with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s initiative to offer more affordable, though smaller-scale, housing options for the growing ranks of single city residents.

An open ambience prevailed inside the micro-unit, not claustrophobia, as skeptical attendees may have expected. They soon learned key elements for optimizing space from Jeffrey Phillip, an organizing pro who specializes in blending style and efficiency.

“We all struggle with living in small spaces, but small spaces are also grand spaces,” Phillip said. He showed visuals to illustrate the advice he offers to space-challenged clients. While a few concepts were conventional, others were counterintuitive. Some mini spaces benefit more from design makeovers.
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Quote of Note | Robert A.M. Stern


(Photo: Henry Gould Harvey IV for Bloomberg Businessweek)

“The computer makes it possible for us to talk to our clients and collaborators around the world. The computer’s also made it possible to invent or discover new shapes. And that’s tricky because, yes, it is possible virtually to represent any shape you want. Everybody says, ‘Oh, Stern, you’re just old-fashioned.’ Well, maybe I am, but I still like right angles.

I don’t use a computer. I get e-mail, and it gets printed out for me, and I read it as though it was a letter sent to me in the mail. I write the answer longhand, and I get it typed. I take pride in what it looks like. I must say, many people who send you e-mails either can’t or won’t spell.”

-Architect and Yale School of Architecture dean Robert A.M. Stern in an interview with Sam Grobart for Bloomberg Businessweek‘s “Ice Cream Break: Questions Over Cones” series. Stern opted for coffee-flavored ice cream.

Green Is Good: Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park Opens in NYC

Watch out, High Line, there’s a new park in town. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was on hand yesterday to unveil a 5.5-acre waterfront park and several roadways at the site of the Hunter’s Point South development in Queens. We dispatched writer Nancy Lazarus to assess the city’s newest green space.


The multi-use green oval at Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park, which opened to the public yesterday. (All photos: Albert Vecerka/Esto)

Many New Yorkers know Long Island City from the Silvercup or Pepsi signs visible across the East River. Art enthusiasts associate LIC with galleries, studios, and MoMA’s PS1. With the opening of Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park, locals now have recreational reasons to visit. So hop on the subway or East River Ferry and bring your cameras, bicycles, bathing suits, and dogs to NYC’s newest waterfront oasis.

Hunter’s Point South development, formerly known as “Queens West,” would have hosted an Olympic village if New York had won its 2012 bid. New York City Economic Development Corporation is overseeing the project, and Thomas Balsley Associates and Weiss/Manfredi collaborated on Phase 1, the design of the park and open space, with ARUP acting as prime consultant and infrastructure designers. Affordable housing and a school are also being built.

During a recent press tour, Marion Weiss, Michael Manfredi, and Thomas Balsley described how they converted the former marshland and industrial area for leisure use. While the tour was on a bright sunny day, the area was designed to be sustainable and to withstand storms. According to Weiss, the park flooded briefly during storm Sandy, but the water quickly receded, thanks to their water runoff and conservation system. There’s more official interest now in addressing potential floods, Manfredi added.
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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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