Morphosis, Artspark Performing Arts Pavilion, (1992)
"The challenge in the Los Angeles Artspark Performing Arts Pavilion competition was to formulate a methodology for placing a dense cluster of cultural facilities in a peripheral, suburban area of Los Angeles, as opposed to the typical integration into the urban core. Our proposal for the performing arts pavilion focused on setting man-made objects in a suburban park. The site is one of the last large regional park facilities in the area. We believed that a subterranean solution was critical for achieving contextual compatibility and questioning how one perceives buildings that house the arts.
Articulated elements of the structure are visible to passersby, and thus invite further exploration. Because the power of the arts is subliminal — it is about what happens inside the place that houses them and what occurs at a deeper, even hidden level — the elements are treated as sculptural, kinetic pieces emerging from the earth to begin to reveal what lies below. Buildings set within this two-hundred-acre park become functional sculptures embodying the overall concept of the Artspark.
The orthogonal order of the building complex directly relates to that of the surrounding suburbs. The x-y axis generated from their Jeffersonian grid extends into the park as an organizational device for pedestrian access, vehicular passage, and parking. With the majority of the main proscenium theater underground, we could consider the entire site as a field punctuated by solids and voids. The public section of the complex reveals itself as a procession. We conceived of the landscape as an overlay that would extend the character, but not the form, of the architecture, throughout the remainder of the site. This allowed us to design objects small enough to blur the boundaries between landscape and architecture.
A tower and the roof of the larger theater protrude above ground as transitional objects in the park. A public outdoor “room” carved out of the slope acts as a human-scale intermediary before the entry into a subterranean foyer that services two theaters. As part of the earth, the theater complex has historical roots in Delphi. The foyer connects an eighteen-hundred-seat proscenium theater with a five-hundred-seat, multiuse black-box theater. It extends to the backstage and performance support areas, providing public access to the inner workings of the theater. This unmasking charges the design with a psychological energy to challenge the status quo.
Coop Himmelbau collaborated with us on this project. They balanced our carved-out, below-grade complex with a sweeping arc cutting diagonally across the top and creating a dialogue between ground and sky. Their calculated intervention, a sky-walk, provides an overflow foyer and atrium for public events. Views from this structure reveal both the separation and the connection between the order of the park and that of the suburbs at its periphery.”
Design is constantly contemplating the ways in which it can transcend time, reflecting the values of the current generation while suggesting possibilities for the future. In response, each building, product, and every other creation is an attempt to convey a pristine image, with innovative materials and unprecedented gestures that show no signs of aging. Providing more commentary on the subject, visual artist Xavier Delory has asked ‘what remains of the utopias and the promises of a better future promised by the modern movement at the beginning of the 20th century?’
The photoshopped series of images are a tribute to architectural monuments around the world. The first stopover is ‘Villa Savoye’ and its creator Le Corbusier, one of the founding fathers of the modern movement. The iconic structure has been ransacked and vandalized. The ribbon windows that navigate its perimeter have been shattered, haphazard strokes of paint ornament its pilotis, and large pieces of graffiti cover its stark white free façade. The manipulations intend to make a statement about the ‘five points of architecture’, and in turn, highlight the death of modernity.
The 72-Room Bohemian Dream House | Via
The building at 190 Bowery is a mystery: a graffiti-covered Gilded Age relic, with a beat-up wooden door that looks like it hasn’t been opened since La Guardia was mayor. A few years ago, that described a lot of the neighborhood, but with the Bowery Hotel and the New Museum, the Rogan and John Varvatos boutiques, 190 is now an anomaly, not the norm. Why isn’t some developer turning it into luxury condos?
Because Jay Maisel, the photographer who bought it 42 years ago for $102,000, still lives there, with his wife, Linda Adam Maisel, and daughter, Amanda. It isn’t a decrepit ruin; 190 Bowery is a six-story, 72-room, 35,000-square-foot (depending on how you measure) single-family home.
“I can’t believe it,” says Corcoran’s Robby Browne, an expert in downtown real estate. “I thought it was vacant.”
The house now feels like a dream world, or a benign version of the vast hotel in The Shining. Hallways go on forever. Rooms are filled with projects in various phases of completion. The renovations, mostly done by Maisel, are very “artists live here.” The air-conditioning, for example, is a building-wide network of giant plastic tubing (the kind used to ventilate greenhouses) that funnels cool air from six units, one on each floor. “It would have cost thousands to put in central air when I moved in,” he explains. The Mylar shades on the windows help keep the heat out; he and Linda make them in one of the rooms on the fifth floor.
"In these drawings I have explored ways in which the contingencies of designing might be made manifest in the things that we design. It is not that that I have tried to design objects that “are” contingent—everything we design could equally have been otherwise. Rather, I have tried to make the contingencies of designing experienceable, in contrast to the way that they are often tidied away.
The drawings begin from a consideration of apparently functional everyday objects. Though these have clear requirements following from their purpose, they are under-constrained and leave enormous room for variation. Using an elaborate process of drawing, I have amalgamated several possibilities together to create irregular compositions without any one dominant ordering principle (even that of orderlessness). This formal strategy is complemented by the inclusion of mechanical components, animating the objects so that they slowly cycle through alternative configurations while being used.”
- Ben Sweeting