Julian Rose

  • 15th International Architecture Biennale: “Reporting from the Front”

    At a time when Europe’s migrant crisis has provoked an apparently contagious obsession with walls and fences—even as it highlights a dire need for the most basic requirement of physical shelter—and when ISIS’s campaigns of destruction have terrifyingly underscored the symbolic potency of buildings and monuments, there can be little doubt that architecture is deeply political. But does this status place political influence in the hands of architects themselves? This year’s biennial answers in the affirmative, gathering eighty-eight participants who deploy

  • the Met Breuer

    IN THE FALL OF 1963, presenting his vision for a new Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, Marcel Breuer described a structure that would play the role of mediator—actively shepherding the visitor through the transition from a frenetic urban context into the spaces of contemplation that awaited within: “It should transform the vitality of the street into the sincerity and profundity of art.” More than half a century later, Breuer’s conception of art can sound quaint; the last show the Whitney held in his galleries before moving on to more expansive accommodations downtown was a

  • Ettore Sottsass

    In a letter from 1987, no less a towering figure of twentieth-century design than Aldo Rossi credited his compatriot Ettore Sottsass (1917–2007) with “the destruction of established architecture.” The establishment that Rossi was referring to was modernism, or what Sottsass himself once described as the Bauhaus legacy of “functionalism, functionalism, functionalism,” that still lingered decades into the postwar era. And there is no question that throughout the course of his career, spanning well over half a century, Sottsass cemented a reputation as one of the most famous—even

  • “Wolfgang Tillmans : On the Verge of Visibility”

    Long before he completed his stunning two-channel video Book for Architects, 2014, Wolfgang Tillmans had established himself as an artist with an exceptional sensitivity to constructed space, not only as a subject to document but as a medium to explore and inhabit. Since the early 1990s, he has experimented with the installation of his work to produce exhibitions of extraordinary spatial complexity, even when he begins with the generic—and ubiquitous—white cube that still dominates contemporary exhibition space. Tillmans’s upcoming show at Álvaro Siza Vieira’s

  • the Broad museum and urban development in Los Angeles

    “HAVE YOU SEEN THE LIGHT?” I heard the question over and over during a recent trip to Los Angeles. This being a city with a long and storied history of cults, the query was disconcerting at first, but I soon realized that there was nothing metaphysical about it. It was, instead, a literal reference to the most talked-about quality of the building I had come to visit: the new Broad museum, designed by the New York–based studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), which opened downtown on September 20 amid widespread praise for the sublime luminosity of its interior spaces.

    Daylight has always been

  • “Stadt/Bild: Image of a City”

    In 2008, the United Nations reported that by the end of that year, for the first time in history, more than half the world’s population would be concentrated in urban areas. By 2050, that proportion is expected to rise to two-thirds. To consider the city of the twenty-first century, then, is also to consider our collective future. So it’s hardly surprising that the metropolis is an increasingly popular subject among artists. This program—a collaboration between the Berlinische Galerie, the Deutsche Bank

  • “Olafur Eliasson: Verklighetsmaskiner/Reality Machines”

    Olafur Eliasson has gained an international following by making architecture disappear. Many of his best-known works have subsumed the fixed geometries of institutional buildings into more fluid and ephemeral environments in which the viewer’s perception of space is shaped less by the layout of walls and floors than by the manipulation of atmospheric conditions, such as temperature or light. Two decades into his career, architects have taken note, and are increasingly implementing similar special effects, while Eliasson’s studio has metamorphosed into an eighty-person

  • Wolfgang Tillmans’s Book for Architects

    ALTHOUGH WOLFGANG TILLMANS’S Book for Architects, 2014, offers an encyclopedic survey of the contemporary built environment, those to whom its title is addressed are likely to recognize surprisingly little of their own handiwork. Architects have never lacked ego, and we live in an age in which their trade has taken on an outsize importance and unprecedented popularity as a premium product of the international culture industry—charged with all manner of place making and identity branding. But this has led to a myopic understanding of architecture as little more than a series of individual

  • Gaetano Pesce

    Few buzzwords encapsulate the totalizing ambitions of the data economy as effectively as customization. Indeed, the idea that any given product could be individually tailored to the desires of a particular consumer seems to describe the inevitable end point of an age already defined by algorithmically targeted advertising and on-demand content. And this fantasy is fast becoming a reality in many branches of product design, in which new technologies such as 3-D-printing and robotic assembly promise to retain the low cost and efficiency of standardized industrial production while generating an

  • Calder, Sandback, and Tuttle

    Tadao Ando’s 2001 building for the Pulitzer Arts Foundation is both minimal and restrained, but it’s not quite a white cube. It is light gray, the color of the architect’s signature cast-in-place concrete, and its complex interiors, marked by carefully layered spaces and subtle plays of height and volume, belie the boxlike simplicity of its silhouette. As the latest spate of high-profile institutional projects reveals that museum architecture is still defined by the familiar polarity between overwhelming excess and mind-numbing

  • Do Ho Suh

    So many weighty themes are piled onto Do Ho Suh’s fabric sculptures, it seems remarkable that his diaphanous structures don’t collapse under their heavy load. History and biography, longing and belonging, migration and globalization—these are only a handful of the ponderous concatenations apparently called to mind by the artist’s works. Such associations are perhaps not surprising, given that Suh’s work addresses architecture, a perennially symbolic subject, and specifically the home—surely the most intensely symbolic of architectural spaces. Indeed, in his more literal moments, Suh

  • “David Adjaye: Form, Heft, Material”

    Educated at the Royal College of Art, London, in the early 1990s, David Adjaye came of age with a generation of major British artists (and erstwhile YBAs). His ongoing exchange with contemporary art has been perhaps the most organic, dynamic, and fruitful of any architect working today. Many of his early projects, including a 2002 house for Sue Webster and Tim Noble, were for artist friends; Adjaye has also developed a series of collaborative projects with artists such as Doug Aitken and Olafur Eliasson that explore shared material sensibilities and common

  • Fujiko Nakaya at the Glass House

    A BUILDING is a stubbornly material thing, a physical construction that exists only by virtue of its resistance to gravity and to a host of other forces. Yet we experience architecture not as a tangible solid but as a spatial void, less an object in itself than an expanse through which we pass. No doubt this fundamental paradox goes a long way toward explaining architects’ enduring fascination with the notion of dematerialization—the fantasy that a building might be as ephemeral and insubstantial as the space it encloses. Perhaps the most powerful manifestation of this vision to date is


    CECIL BALMOND has made a career out of doing what he’s not supposed to. Trained as an engineer, Balmond has radically expanded the traditional role of that profession, building a reputation as one of the world’s leading structural designers. Over the past four decades, he has had a hand in shaping many of the world’s most significant buildings—working with renowned architects from James Stirling and Philip Johnson to Rem Koolhaas and Toyo Ito—and has collaborated on major public commissions with artists such as Anish Kapoor. The two constants underlying this extraordinary diversity of projects are Balmond’s unique spatial sensibility and his unparalleled mastery of new digital technologies, which are now the driving forces behind Balmond Studio. Founded in 2010, the firm pursues cutting-edge research in design and computation while producing commissions in both art and architecture. Artforum invited Balmond to speak with senior editor JULIAN ROSE about the genesis and trajectory of this sweeping—and continually surprising—body of work.

    JULIAN ROSE: It’s an unfortunate paradox in the history of modernism: Even as new technologies have become more important to the practice of both art and architecture, technical concerns tend to remain isolated—a set of concrete, real-world problems may need to be solved for a work to be realized, but they remain separate from that work’s more ineffable aesthetic or conceptual significance. You have been able to obviate such distinctions. Indeed, early in your career, you gained a reputation as an exceptionally innovative structural engineer, but in many ways you have always been an artist.

  • Frank Gehry

    Frank Gehry’s Fondation Louis Vuitton may well be the most technologically advanced building in the world. Its fluid shell has been constructed from more than 3,500 panels of curved glass, each unique and CNC-molded to exact tolerances—a feat of unheard-of virtuosity. Above all, though, the structure showcases Gehry’s artistic control, his ability to transcend the typical constraints of architecture by marshaling staggering resources in the service of his single-minded vision. Gehry’s role as artist-architect will be reinforced by the institution’s

  • Heidi Bucher

    At first, it is almost impossible to understand Heidi Bucher’s work as anything other than an utter dematerialization of the buildings that provided the literal framework for her practice. The Swiss artist was best known during her lifetime (1926–1993) for the pieces she described as “skinnings” (Häutungs): sheer, milky casts of walls, floors, and ceilings, made from latex and gauze or other fabric. Untitled (Herrenzimmer), for example, the undated work likely made between 1977 and 1979 that is the focal point of Bucher’s current show at the Swiss Institute, is a cast of the study of her parents’

  • Bernard Tschumi

    Much of Bernard Tschumi’s prolific career has been based on the insight that architecture is above all a way of thinking, a practice as conceptual as it is material. This fundamental shift was famously signaled in his Manhattan Transcripts, 1976–81. Deploying notational techniques inspired by dance and film, Tschumi in this sequence of some fifty drawings, explores architecture’s relationship to the full range of actions and events that characterize the cultural and spatial complexity of the contemporary city. The suite is now on view, in its

  • 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


    THE WORK OF architect Steven Holl and artist Martin Boyce fundamentally alters the way we think about the boundary between their two disciplines. Boyce, who represented Scotland at the 2009 Venice Biennale and was awarded the Turner Prize in 2011, is celebrated for his explorations of the legacy of modern architecture, probing the field’s potential as an expansive formal language even as he examines the ways in which architecture, nature, and public space interact. Holl is renowned for creating innovative spaces in which to make and display art—including the 2006 Visual Arts Building at

  • Gary Kuehn

    Despite their well-documented fascination with architecture, most Minimalists seem to have been surprisingly squeamish about what could literally be described as the nuts and bolts of construction. Even the most detail-minded viewer of the early-1960s sculptures of Donald Judd, Robert Morris, or Carl Andre would be hard-pressed to find evidence of nails or screws; everything is loose stacks or mitered corners and polished metal. Repudiating the Abstract Expressionist legacy of emphatically subjective formal composition, these artists emphasized the cohesiveness of their simple, straightforward