Ian Volner

  • FREE SPIRIT

    SECURITY WAS TIGHTER than usual on the opening day of the press preview for the Sixteenth Venice Architecture Biennale this past May, the reason being—or so it was whispered—a planned visit to the Giardini by the Israeli ambassador to Italy, there to attend the opening of his national pavilion that afternoon. The topic of the Israeli exhibition (under the curatorship of Tania Coen-Uzzielli, Deborah Pinto Fdeda, Ifat Finkelman, and Oren Sagiv) was the division of holy sites in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank and the awesome warping effects on urban space that result; especially

  • “Post-Otto Wagner: From  the Postal Savings Bank  to Post-Modernism”

    Otto Wagner (1841–1918) was the most significant designer of the early modern movement to be most effectively suppressed by his heirs, owing largely to the eccentric pomp of his architectural vision. In his native Vienna, where his splendid, seemingly armor-clad buildings dot the cityscape, the MAK is attempting to reconnect the master with his legacy: Its exhibition will feature more than eight hundred objects, including photographs, models, furniture, and architectural plans, that demonstrate how Wagner’s oeuvre evolved along three parallel tracks—technical,

  • the Chicago Architecture Biennial

    IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LOCAL Fox affiliate’s morning show, Good Day Chicago, right between the segment introducing the “Furry Friend of the Week” and the forecast with Bill the weatherman, viewers throughout Northern Illinois were recently treated to a brief story on the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial. Over some B-roll of the lakeshore skyline, the host declared that the second installment of the omnibus design festival, open now at the city’s Cultural Center, was called “Make New History.” For just the briefest instant, the presenter appeared to puzzle at the name, as if he were punctuating

  • the NEA

    IN SEPTEMBER 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation that would establish the National Endowment for the Arts, the largest arts funder in the United States. In March of this year, President Trump proposed its elimination. While any immediate action has been forestalled, the threat to thousands of community organizations, museums, artists, and projects that benefit from NEA grants still looms. In light of this, Artforum asked five distinguished artists and critics to reflect on the NEA’s vital impact.

    JOHNIE SCOTT

    IN THE MONTHS immediately following the Watts riots in Los Angeles in

  • FOOL’S GOLD: THE ARCHITECTURE OF TRUMP

    “WHOEVER SAID LESS IS MORE never had more. And they’ve certainly never stayed at the Trump® International Hotel & Tower Panama. . . .”

    You can’t make this stuff up. Or can you? As it happens, I have stayed at the Trump® Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower in Panama City, and I can personally attest that whatever one may think of Mies van der Rohe’s celebrated formula, “more” is definitely not the Trump® Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower—regardless of what the ad copy says. It’s a fat, unlovable building that should probably be paying monthly royalties to the Burj Al Arab, the svelter

  • the Venice Architecture Biennale

    CONTEMPORARY ART at its worst is rarely so naive as contemporary architecture at its best. Because it operates so closely to the machinery of power, the design profession has been known to occasionally confuse design with power itself—to believe that architecture is politics—an idea that dates back at least to 1923, when Le Corbusier famously posited a choice between “architecture ou révolution,” as if they were commensurate political pursuits. Alack, they aren’t.

    This tendency has reached a new pitch with the latest Venice Biennale of Architecture. Crusading curator (and winner of this

  • the Chicago Architecture Biennial

    ON THE BANKS of Lake Michigan some weeks ago, a scrum of international journalists huddled inside an open-air pavilion designed by the Providence, Rhode Island–based architecture office Ultramoderne. Constructed for the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB), and winner of the biennial’s competition for an off-site kiosk, Chicago Horizon consisted of a roof made from the largest commercially transportable unit of timber—a cross-laminated slab fully fifty-six feet square—hoisted atop slender, angled pilotis to produce a kind of lumberjack’s homage to Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona