Kevin Pratt

  • KEVIN PRATT

    AS THE EARTH HEATS UP, it is inevitable that solutions will be sought in the application of engineering at a scale commensurate with the scope of the problem—a planetary rappel à l’ordre to be achieved by the mechanization of the geobiosphere. The popular press teems with reports of geoengineering proposals aimed at combating global warming. NASA is studying the feasibility of retuning the thermodynamic properties of the atmosphere by seeding its upper reaches with nanoscale particles. Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts propose flooding the oceans with iron

  • “Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future”

    The Minnesota iteration of this major traveling retrospective (Saarinen’s first) will span the galleries of two institutions, offering viewers a unique opportunity to engage the complete oeuvre of this great master of both the ars and the techne of architecture.

    In an era when designers of all stripes are mining the relationship between sophisticated technologies and architectural form, the resurgence of interest in midcentury modernist Eero Saarinen should come as no surprise. In his day Saarinen was often seen as an eclectic, and many of his iconic works, from the TWA terminal at JFK airport (1962) to the ubiquitous Womb Chair (1948), deployed cutting-edge technology to produce expressive, mathematically rigorous, curvilinear buildings and furniture that defied high-modernist orthodoxies. The Minnesota iteration of this major

  • Sanford Kwinter’s Far from Equilibrium

    FAR FROM EQUILIBRIUM: ESSAYS ON

    TECHNOLOGY AND DESIGN CULTURE
    , BY

    SANFORD KWINTER.
    BARCELONA/NEW

    YORK: ACTAR, 2008. 196 PAGES. $33.

    WIDELY RECOGNIZED in academic circles as an architectural polymath, Sanford Kwinter is famous among students for beginning each semester by first asking his classes what they would like him to teach, and then, regardless of subject, assigning reading material and speaking extempore with the kind of accessible erudition most scholars and theorists have long abandoned. This remarkable ability helps account for the popularity of his lectures, which are given throughout

  • “YOUPrison”

    This show brings together a diverse group of architects presenting full-size mock-ups of their proposals for the irreducible unit of modern incarceration.

    The recent revelation that more than one in every hundred American adults now lives behind bars underscores that prison-cell design is a vital, if underinvestigated, architectural problem. This show—part of a series of exhibitions taking place this year in Turin, which has been designated the 208 World Design Capital—brings together a diverse group of architects presenting full-size mock-ups of their proposals for the irreducible unit of modern incarceration. Participants include Diller Scofidio + Renfro (architects of the new Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston)

  • Frederick Kiesler

    Over the course of the past decade, architecture has seen a rekindling of interest in organicism and biologically inspired methods. While such tendencies were never dominant in the modernist project, they found expression in the work of iconoclastic designers like Frederick Kiesler. Kiesler was affiliated with many well-known twentieth-century figures and movements—he was involved with De Stijl, was a friend of Duchamp’s, and arranged the premiere of Léger’s Ballet Mechanique, 1924—but his complex theories about the relationships among biology,

  • Richard Rogers & Architects

    This comprehensive retrospective documents more than fifty projects, covering forty years of work by one of Britain’s greatest living architects.

    Richard Rogers is an architect who understands the delicate interplay between buildings and the cities they inhabit. Early projects—including the Centre Pompidou (designed with a young Renzo Piano) and the infamous Lloyds of London Tower—embraced the spectacle of public life using the industrial high-tech aesthetic that became popular in the wake of Archigram and the Swinging ’60s. More recent commissions, like the Welsh National Assembly Building in Cardiff and the rainbow-colored Barajas Airport in Madrid, tackle difficult issues of

  • “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,

  • “Museums in the 21st Century: Concepts, Projects, Buildings”

    Among the twenty-six projects documented in drawings, models, photographs, videos, and computer animation are Tadao Ando’s subterranean Chichu Art Museum in Naoshima, Japan, and the redevelopment of Berlin’s Museum Island.

    Some indication of the scale of the recent museum-construction spree may be gleaned from the fact that, for the second time in six years, the Art Centre Basel, an organizer of international traveling exhibitions, has mounted a showcase of contemporary museum design. Among the twenty-six projects documented in drawings, models, photographs, videos, and computer animation are Tadao Ando’s subterranean Chichu Art Museum in Naoshima, Japan, and the redevelopment of Berlin’s Museum Island. What are we going to put in all these new museums? As this show suggests, perhaps the

  • Eileen Gray

    Eileen Gray stands as one of the signature designers of the early modern era, her iconic status confirmed by the sheer quantity of knockoffs of her E.1027 chrome-and-glass table available (cheap!) on the Internet. An intimate of Le Corbusier and member of the avant-garde group that formed around the magazine L’Architecture Vivante in the mid-’20s, Gray was, in her own time, well known for striking lacquer work and now-vanished International Style interiors. She remains, however, an elusive figure—a condition attributable both to the sexism of the first generation of

  • Cedric Price

    Cedric Price (1934–2003) is one of those architects whose paucity of built works belies their profound influence. His long affiliation with the Architectural Association in London ensured that his ideas worked their way deep into the DNA of contemporary architectural design. And when (or if) the modifiable structure of Zaha Hadid’s Guggenheim Taichung is built, it will be haunted by the ghost of Price’s 1976 Generator, a sort of full-size, modular dollhouse designed to be continuously reconfigured using an attached boom crane. In what promises to be

  • Renzo Piano and museum architecture

    WHILE ARCHITECTURE STUDENTS AT THE Harvard Design School are hardly shouting “The king is dead, long live the king!”, a recent readjustment of architectural priorities within the tightly knit world of museum trustees and directors has had one obvious consequence: Rem Koolhaas is out; Renzo Piano is in. Just a few short years ago Koolhaas and his right-brain/left-brain sister offices OMA and AMO, backed by the critical muscle of the New York Times, were picking up American commissions at a prodigious rate. Alongside commissions for the new Central Library in Seattle, a campus center at the Illinois

  • Daniel Libeskind

    This survey of Libeskind's architectural work provides an opportunity to evaluate his efforts at Ground Zero in the context of his efforts as leader of the “symbolist wing” of the deconstructionist movement that dominated avant-garde architecture in the ’90s.

    Before Daniel Libeskind became Governor Pataki’s favorite architect, he enjoyed a distinguished (if hardly prolific) career as an academic, theorist, and designer in Europe. This survey of his architectural work provides an opportunity to evaluate Libeskind’s efforts at Ground Zero in the context of his efforts as leader of the “symbolist wing” of the deconstructionist movement that dominated avant-garde architecture in the ’90s. Designed by architect Matthias Reese, formerly of Studio Daniel Libeskind, this show includes materials and models related to sixteen realized and unrealized projects

  • Tall Buildings

    Often existing simply as a rearguard action against the inevitable banality of the merely immense, most office towers constructed over the last quarter century are little more than architectural one-liners.

    Often existing simply as a rearguard action against the inevitable banality of the merely immense, most office towers constructed over the last quarter century are little more than architectural one-liners. Curators Terence Riley of MoMa’s Department of Architecture and Design and Guy Nordenson, a prominent structural engineer, hope to demonstrate that the genre still has legs. This show features photographs, drawings, and models of twenty-five “tall buildings” from around the world and in various stages of completion, including built projects like Norman

  • green design

    IF HISTORICAL ANALOGIES offer any guidance, green design will emerge as the modernism of the new century. There is more than a passing similarity between recent eclecticism in architecture and the stylistic free-for-all that characterized the early twentieth century, which saw a succession of neohistorical and decorative styles come and go rather quickly. Neo-Gothic, neo-Tudor, Beaux-Arts classicism, Art Nouveau: All had their brief moment before modernism crystallized (at least in the minds of the architectural establishment) as an “appropriate” aesthetic. It is now fashionable to talk about

  • Rem Koolhaas

    Rem Koolhaas and his doppelgänger offices OMA and AMO (practice and research, respectively) are the subject of a retrospective that began its run at Mies van der Rohe’s Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin last November.

    Rem Koolhaas and his doppelgänger offices OMA and AMO (practice and research, respectively) are the subject of a retrospective that began its run at Mies van der Rohe’s Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin last November. A large number of projects and innovations from 1996 to the present are now installed in one of Koolhaas’s earlier buildings, the Kunsthal Rotterdam. The exhibition, designed by Jens Hommert of OMA, is curated by Kayoko Ota, also of OMA, and Andres Lepik and Cristina Steingräber, both from the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. An

  • Zaha Hadid

    Architects who skirt the line between art and architecture generally insist on having things both ways: Artists (and art critics) are supposed to recognize them as architects and allow them certain liberties, while architects (and architectural critics) must do the same, on opposite grounds. The difference between a good architectural rendering and a bad watercolor often ends up a question of semantics. That said, Zaha Hadid is one contemporary architect whose graphic oeuvre deserves to be called an artistic achievement.

    Hadid’s graphic style is actually fairly straightforward, in the sense that

  • “Yard”

    Robert Smithson was one of the first artists to think about suburbia in geological terms. His insight that the structure of the suburban landscape is inherently crystalline—the result of mineral processes unfolding at the limits of human perception—remains a relevant counterpoint to the sociohistorical narrative that’s much more often used to understand the sprawl that surrounds our cities. Defining suburbia as a synthesis of the urban and the pastoral—as a kind of intermediary condition dependent on antecedent forms of manmade landscape—leads artists into familiar postmodern terrain, where they