COLUMNS

  • Bernard Tschumi’s retrospective

    “ARCHITECTURE IS the materialization of a concept.” This is just one of many polemical positions that Bernard Tschumi has articulated throughout his forty-year career, and it is the perfect summation of the celebrated architect’s position—capturing his conviction that his discipline is fundamentally about thinking, that building is first and foremost about ideas. But such a statement also leaves the definition of architecture uncertain, contingent on its material realization and on the vagaries of putting ideas into practice. Yet, the paradox is, perhaps, the real force behind Tschumi’s

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  • Renzo Piano Building Workshop’s Harvard Art Museums

    MUSEUM ADDITIONS are like the leftovers of the art world—difficult to keep interesting, mostly bland at best. And they are perhaps the structures most susceptible to the pitfalls of architectural practice—which is, after all, a discipline of constraints, often defined less by the vision of the designer than by the demands of the client, the limitations of the site, and the contingencies of building codes.Yet additions are inevitable. Art museums grow through accumulation—Adorno once remarked that, like the casino, the museum always wins—and so the day for expansion invariably

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  • Grace Under Fire

    WHEN CARLO SCARPA ASSUMED LEADERSHIP of Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia in 1972, he directed that graduation diplomas be inscribed with the aphorism of the Counter-Enlightenment philosopher Giambattista Vico, Verum ipsum factum—truth itself is made. Scarpa shared Vico’s understanding of the world as constructed rather than observed, a product of creative individuals rather than universal reason. A voracious reader and an ambidextrous draftsman, Scarpa nevertheless insisted upon the built.

    In particular, he made strange with it. This is partially attributable to Scarpa’s having

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  • “Beyond the Supersquare”

    IT’S BEEN A BANNER YEAR for Latin American art in New York, with the Museum of Modern Art’s retrospective of Lygia Clark just one of the many recent highlights.Unfortunately, the complex themes addressed by Latin American artists are often lost in the regional surveys and monographic exhibitions most commonly mounted by large institutions. But the curators of “Beyond the Supersquare” at the Bronx Museum of the Arts—Holly Block, the museum’s director, and María Inés Rodríguez, director of the CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain in Bordeaux, France—provide a refreshing thematic approach,

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  • Kulapat Yantrasast

    KULAPAT YANTRASAST is willing (though perhaps not happy) to play second fiddle. For seven years he worked for Tadao Ando, serving as project architect on the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, a quintessentially Ando-ish collection of concrete boxes. And though Yantrasast started his own firm, wHY, in Los Angeles in 2003, he continued serving as Ando’s right hand on additions to the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, unveiled this summer. At the same time, he has been working with the curators of the Harvard Art Museums to install their collection in Renzo Piano’s new galleries

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  • Infinity and Beyond

    MARSEILLE MODULOR (MAMO), the art space on the newly refurbished roof of Le Corbusier’s Cité radieuse housing block, a midcentury experiment in vertical-urban planning in the south of France, has taken an audacious step forward in its sophomore annual summer exhibition. The show (on view through September 30) presents a monumental, site-specific installation by Daniel Buren, DÉFINI, FINI, INFINI, which significantly raises the bar for the fledgling space by staging a remarkable encounter between a weighty architectural context and an ambitious artistic intervention.

    MAMO has evinced a strategic

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  • preservation and MoMA’s proposed expansion

    THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART’S contentious decision to raze the former American Folk Art Museum building, designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, has put preservation at the center of an international debate about cultural value and the public’s appreciation of contemporary architecture. The heart of the controversy is a disagreement over whether or not MoMA has a responsibility to preserve the thirteen-year-old building. While the structure is too new to qualify for the protections associated with historical status, and MoMA is therefore under no legal obligation to save it, advocates of

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  • the MoMA expansion

    THESE DAYS, it’s hard to blame architects for being jealous of art. Times are tough, and buildings always seem to get the worst of it, battered by innumerable market pressures, while artworks manage to float above the storm, enjoying a sacred status both cultural and economic. This disparity is at the heart of the furor that erupted this past January, when the Museum of Modern Art in New York reaffirmed its intent to demolish the building formerly occupied by the American Folk Art Museum. MoMA acquired the home of its far smaller, next-door neighbor in 2011, after the latter found itself in a

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  • architectural copies

    IN 1749, at the height of the European mania for chinoiserie, an employee of the Swedish East India Company named William Chambers traveled to England after two voyages to the port of Guangzhou, China. His accounts of his experiences there were hungrily lapped up by the English nobility, and Chambers, building on this notoriety, soon fashioned himself into the leading architect and landscape designer of his day, notably designing the Chinese Pagoda at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, completed in 1762, and becoming master surveyor and architect to King George III. A pet project of the well-heeled

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  • Snøhetta’s James B. Hunt Jr. Library

    IN THE AGE OF THE CLOUD and the search engine, the precarious status of the library—its growing obsolescence as a brick-and-mortar repository of information—is already a cliché. Yet the library building seems to have lost none of its status as a cultural icon, with cities and institutions around the globe commissioning them at an impressive rate. Perhaps no architecture is more representative of this paradox than that of Snøhetta, the Norwegian firm that first rose to international prominence in 1989 after winning the high-profile competition to design Egypt’s Library of Alexandria.

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  • “Deconstructivist Architecture”

    IN NOVEMBER 1988, an obituary appeared in Texas Architect alongside a birth announcement: “DIED. Fred Postmodernist. BORN. Herman Deconstructivist.” The cause for both: the exhibition “Deconstructivist Architecture,” which had run from June 23 to August 30 that summer at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The show was organized by Philip Johnson and Mark Wigley with the assistance of Frederieke Taylor. It featured a selection of the museum’s holdings from the Russian avant-garde and ten architectural projects designed over the preceding decade. The architects were seven stars we know today:

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  • the Krabbesholm studios

    In this era of the unprecedented intersection of art, architecture, and design, cultural institutions are often on the front lines of exchange between these fields, whether operating as incubators for new forms of hybridized production or as the last bastions of traditional disciplinary distinctions. Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample, founders of New York–based MOS Architects, have repeatedly crossed professional divides and engaged artistic practice in their work—both in direct collaborations, such as in their 2004 design with Pierre Huyghe for a puppet theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts,

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