COLUMNS

  • 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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  • OMA/AMO at the Hermitage

    IN THESE TIMES of requisite urban branding, the likes of Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid must be putting in extra hours at the office. Countless cities and cultural institutions are rethinking how to make their mark on the global map—and architects and curators alike are meeting this desire with original (or not so original) marketing ideas. Herzog & de Meuron’s imminent Tate Modern extension in London, the Guggenheim and Louvre Abu Dhabi, you name it—all of these institutions are convinced that the only way forward is a radical redefinition of their spatial envelope in order to communicate a simple

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  • Beijing Olympics

    THE OLYMPIC GAMES as we know them were born out of a late-nineteenth-century marriage of classical mythology and political science fiction. They decree that every four years all the nations of the world will set aside their political struggles and come together to compete in proxy battles of sport; everyone will watch. Yet such a premise naively denies both the relentlessness of politics and the equally irrepressible need for political power to be represented, to be made into images. Having stubbornly refused to follow their script, the modern Olympics stand in collective memory as a series of

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  • Norman Foster’s Crystal Island

    IF YOU E-MAIL Norman Foster’s London-based architecture firm to request information about his design for Crystal Island, a project recently approved for construction in Moscow, you will receive, with no accompanying note, a terse list of “facts and figures.” Perhaps this response is appropriate. Overriding fatigue with the dimensional stats that have accompanied new waves of building in China, Dubai, and Russia, mainstream media outlets and hipster blogs alike obligingly repeat the numbers with apparent amazement, as the builders strive to outdo one another’s superlative expressions of size.

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  • Edward Durell Stone and Paul Rudolph

    AS WE APPROACH THE MILLENNIUM, in architecture as in fashion, our appetite for salvaging designs from recent decades grows ever more voracious. But would some artifacts do well to simply remain in the closet? Many fail to see how critically maligned buildings might get better with age, and on the short list of most endangered mid-’60s structures are Edward Durell Stone’s Huntington Hartford Building and Paul Rudolph’s Beekman Place triplex.

    The city’s recent selection of David Child’s proposal for replacing the Coliseum on Columbus Circle has cast a spotlight on its vulnerable neighbor, Two

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  • Steven Holl

    UNTIL LAST MARCH, the main offices of New York University’s philosophy department looked out over Washington Square Park from the fifth floor of a building on the park’s east side. It is at once a tribute to the popularity of the discipline and to the excellence of NYU’s philosophers that the department had over the years outgrown this ideal location; philosophers were housed in three separate locations around the campus. This state of affairs was felt to be unsatisfactory, in part, surely, for administrative reasons, but mainly for reasons connected with the spirit of philosophical communities

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