COLUMNS

  • 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

    Read more
  • 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

    Read more
  • 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.

    Read more
  • 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

    Read more
  • Steven Holl’s Bloch Building

    THE HIGHEST ART in architecture today is the building of homes for art. Museums are currently where we see design with clarity, making us conscious of where we are. Here not only is the act of building usually sufficiently liberated from economic constraints, but both aesthetics and community lie at the core of its purpose. This is the dream of architecture: to be more than a technical enterprise and to become a cultural endeavor central to society. Luckily, then, we are experiencing a boom in the construction of new museums and museum additions around the world; it would not be too much of an

    Read more
  • “Clip/Stamp/Fold”

    THE STOREFRONT FOR Art and Architecture is a small wedge of space, tucked behind Vito Acconci and Stephen Holl’s unfolding facade on Kenmare Street in Lower Manhattan. Barely fifteen feet deep, it was the perfect opening venue for “Clip/Stamp/Fold: The Radical Architecture of Little Magazines 196X–197X,” an exhibition on view there through last February and dedicated—as its title suggests—to the explosion of small publications produced in architectural circles in the 1960s and ’70s. Across one long wall was a time line featuring covers of significant issues printed on curving, backlit panels,

    Read more
  • Crown Hall and the Yale University Art Gallery

    “TO FIND OUT what architecture really is took me fifty years—half a century,” Ludwig Mies van der Rohe once admitted. Now another half century has passed since Mies completed his mature postwar buildings, and a wave of renovations is forcing us to reconsider what exactly he and his contemporaries found architecture to be and how to handle their discoveries. A convergence of age-related need, heightened historical appreciation, and persistent ignorance has produced a mixed record to date: ranging from the salutary reconstruction of Gordon Bunshaft’s Lever House and the conscientious forensic

    Read more
  • Atelier Bow-Wow

    “TO CHANGE the Japanese government, you could begin by altering the seating arrangement in parliament,” says Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, one of the partners, with Momoyo Kaijima, behind the Tokyo-based Atelier Bow-Wow. Linking grand ambition to small-scale gesture marks the ideology of these architects who, like many of their colleagues, move through the realms of art and politics with as much relish as when they build houses. For them, architecture is about rearranging the ordinary so that moments of epiphany, strangeness, and beauty can slip into a home or museum like an uninvited but welcome guest.

    Read more
  • Peter Eisenman

    WAGING WAR ON FORGETTING is the task of all memorials, which are places where different kinds of memory and concepts of representation collide. In contemporary Berlin, the politics of memory are particularly vexed. Since the end of the cold war Berlin has tried, with varying degrees of success, to knit its divided halves together and reconnect with its past—or parts of it. Out of the rubble of war and discarded ideologies, the German capital has reestablished the old city center around the stately Unter den Linden, displacing the hubs of East and West Berlin from Alexanderplatz and Kurfürstendamm,

    Read more
  • m7red

    WHAT IS THE role of urban architecture in a natural disaster? As Hurricane Katrina showed, buildings have few options—weather the storm or collapse. The drowning city has become a familiar and terrifying international reality: Witness not just Katrina and Rita but the recent floods in central Europe, the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, and even the floods that submerged Dresden and Prague in 2002. In the wake of such catastrophes, architects and urban planners are called on to anticipate emergencies and find solutions for reconstruction. The Buenos Aires–based architectural collective m7red, run

    Read more
  • Herzog & de Meuron

    FOR ALL THE ATTENTION being paid to the boom in museum construction and the intense competition among blockbuster exhibitions, the emergence of a new way of organizing the permanent collections at the heart of major institutions has received little press. While the Centre Pompidou, Paris, claims that their current “Big Bang” reinstallation of their collection is the first thematic grouping of its kind, encyclopedic museums around the world have recently been experimenting with innovative presentations of their vast holdings. In London, the Tate Modern’s attempt to use themes rather than chronology

    Read more
  • Yves Klein’s air architecture

    YVES KLEIN’S ARCHITECTURE is ignored in most discussions of his work, which tend to dwell on his deep blue monochromes and his daredevil photomontage Leap into the Void, 1960. But a broader view shows that, before his life was cut short at the age of thirty-four in 1962, Klein was increasingly drawn to larger-scale visions. In 1957 he began to generate schemes for buildings and cities—indeed, entire civilizations—in a long-term project he called “air architecture.” The project took many forms—paintings, drawings, plans, construction details, installations, films, lectures, performances, even

    Read more