COLUMNS

  • 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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  • the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University

    THE NEW ELI AND EDYTHE BROAD ART MUSEUM at Michigan State University in East Lansing is not so much a building as an event: It transforms both its surroundings and the art it contains. The structure, which opened to the public last November, occupies a prominent site on the main street dividing the commercial strip of the town from the GI Bill brick of the university campus, and yet it appears wholly unrelated to both. In fact, it most resembles a grounded stealth bomber—all sleek folds and vents, static form implying motion—with crenellated fins rippling across its surface. This alien

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  • the Stedelijk Museum

    For some reason, monumental buildings do not work in Amsterdam. . . . The monumentality of Amsterdam exists only in the heads of its inhabitants, not on the streets.

    —Geert Mak, Amsterdam: A Brief Life of the City (1994)

    GEERT MAK, a popular Dutch history writer, is often criticized for ironing the wrinkles out of history, but his antimonumental gloss on Amsterdam’s architecture has been affirmed twice in the past year. First, the shamelessly iconic Eye Film Institute opened to mixed reviews in April. Then in September came the new addition to the Stedelijk Museum, which houses Amsterdam’s

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  • “Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream”

    TWO INTERRELATED CLAIMS provide the premise for “Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream,” a recent workshop and forthcoming exhibition organized by the Department of Architecture and Design of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The first is that the foundation of the American dream, particularly as it has evolved over the past century, is ownership of a single-family suburban house; the second is that America’s current foreclosure crisis should force a wholesale rethinking of this dream. Barry Bergdoll (the museum’s chief curator of architecture and design) and Reinhold Martin (of Columbia

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  • Renzo Piano’s Shard

    THE ARCHITECTURAL HISTORIAN Manfredo Tafuri famously claimed that “no better way exists of grasping what the American skyscraper is not than by studying how European culture has attempted to assimilate and translate [the skyscraper] into its own terms.” For him, the problem with adaptations of the skyscraper in Germany, France, the former Soviet Union, and the UK was that all operated under the erroneous assumption that the skyscraper was “architecture.” On the contrary, wrote Tafuri, skyscrapers were “real live ‘bombs’ with chain effects, destined to explode the entire real estate market.” They

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  • recent construction in Guangzhou

    A FLURRY OF NOTEWORTHY BUILDINGS recently constructed or near completion in and around Guangzhou has positioned the city as the next major Chinese metropolis to attract international critical architectural attention. Marked, overwhelmingly, by glittering facades and gaudy monumentality, these structures include the Guangzhou International Finance Center, designed by Wilkinson Eyre and slated to open this spring; Rocco Yim’s Guangdong Provincial Museum, which was completed in May; a television tower, by Information Based Architecture, which has been operational since October 1; the Zaha Hadid–designed

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  • STEALTH.unlimited

    JUST WHO MAKES and unmakes our cities? The identities of urban planner and urban designer have become increasingly blurred over the past decade. If the former was traditionally about crafting policy and the latter concerned with macroscale drafting, these previously discrete practices now mean little in isolation from each other: We are witnessing a new hybrid activity across the larger discipline of urban intervention. At the forefront of this development has been STEALTH.unlimited. Comprising principals Ana Džokić and Marc Neelen, the Serbian-Dutch practice has been quietly unraveling the

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  • “Rising Currents”

    POLAR ICE IS MELTING, warmer water is expanding, and coastal cities—confronted with projections of eroded coastlines and ever more frequent flooding—are grappling with the looming question of how to keep the water out. As early as 2004, researchers at Stony Brook University in New York were proposing the construction of three floodgates to protect New York Harbor. Sited at the Narrows between Brooklyn and Staten Island, at the upper end of the East River, and in the tidal strait between New Jersey and Staten Island, these defensive barriers would hem in the New York metropolitan area in the

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