Friday, January 28, 2022

On The Schedule, February 2022

Decoding Asian Urbanism

Helms Design Center, January 30 - March 12   

How do you display the intensity of life in a crowded Asian city to Angelenos, used to uncrowded streets, spacious homes and solitary car commutes? Take a small room, make it smaller and fill it with throbbing sounds and images of jostling crowds and buildings. To powerful effect. That is what Farooq Ameen and the City Design Studio team have done to bring alive the themes of "DeCoding Asian Urbanism," or DAU, a book authored by Ameen, the Malaysian architect Ken Yeang and historian Kenneth Frampton about -- in Frampton’s words -- the “gargantuan ever-expanding Asian conurbations such as Tokyo, Mumbai, Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur etc. which at 15 million plus can no longer be regarded as cities in any traditional sense.” 

Now DAU has been turned into a show at the design center at Helms Bakery District, presented by the A+D Museum. Ameen, designer Caglar Gokbulut, filmmaker Miriam Kuhlmann, Swinerton construction and other talents have transformed a showroom into a maze of tight spaces, each displaying vivid photographs and some amazing kaleidoscopic films, by Kuhlmann, aimed at capturing the energy and density of the new Asian insta-cities. 

Visitors can find respite from the intentional cacophony in a calming, scented room expressing the repose still found in nature, as well as inspiration for ways to cope with such meteoric growth in singular projects described as "urban acupuncture" by Ameen, by designers including Ken Yeang, Charles Correa and Steven Holl, that endeavor to inject greenways, open space and a sense of human connection in an often alienating environment.

These megalopolises seem on one hand to be very distant from the L.A. experience; consider that the city of Los Angeles has a density of around 8500 people per square mile while Delhi, India, packs in almost 30,000 people per square mile. But there is much to learn from their manic expansion as L.A. grapples with its own struggles over growth. Besides, many of the cities on display are our neighbors on the Pacific Rim and we are inextricably bound to each other, as Kuhlmann reminds us in her striking image of a container ship gliding across our shared ocean (above). 

On March 3, at 6pm, Helms invites you for a reception and conversation about the issues raised by DAU. I will lead a dialogue with Farooq Ameen, creator of DAU; Astrid Haryati, architect, planner and former deputy on public policy for Indonesia’s Minister of Trade; and Kulapat Yantrasast, Thailand-born architect and thought-leader in the fields of architecture, art, and sustainable design.  

Decoding Asian Urbanism is the first outing for A+D Museum since it closed its space in the Arts District in June, 2020. It is at the Helms design center at 8745 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232.

Get details here.


Stories Untold: Black Modernists in Southern California

Symposium at Modernism Week, Palm Springs, February 21, 1:30 - 5 pm

Paul Revere Williams
has rightly received a renaissance of interest in his work. But what about the lesser-known Black architects who worked for him or were inspired by, or succeeded, him? Find out at Modernism Week, the annual smorgasbord of midcentury design talks and tours that will run for ten days from Feb 17- Feb 27, 2022 in Palm Springs. 

A highlight this year is a symposium entitled Stories Untold: Black Modernists in Southern California, taking place Monday afternoon, February 21 (President's Day). Speakers will unpack the stories of architectural talent yet to receive their due. The L.A. TimesTyrone Beason, author of this article about Black Californians in the Coachella Valley, will talk with Jarvis Crawford and Deiter Crawford, leaders of Palm Springs Black History Committee and host of the Caravan Thru African-American History Palm Springs, taking place on the morning of the 21st. They will bring alive the legacy of the Black builders and designers who helped create the glitzy desert resort, even as they were denied entry to many of its hotspots.   

Gail Kennard (daughter of Robert Kennard), Nastassja Lafontant, architectural and landscape designer, and architect Roland Wiley will talk with historian Alan Hess about the “Circle of Paul Williams,” contemporaries and successors of Williams including Ralph Vaughn (Chase Knolls, Lincoln Place), Roy Sealey (Belmont Shores Clubhouse), Robert Kennard and Arthur Silvers (Mafundi Building), Norma Sklarek (Pacific Design Center), James Garrott (John W. Bean Residence, shown above) and many more. 

The symposium will conclude in the optimistic present with architect Drake Dillard, of Perkins + Will, who will present his firm’s project Destination Crenshaw, the “unapologetically black” linear art park currently under construction alongside the new light rail in the Crenshaw District. 

I helped organize this symposium in my role as boardmember at Modernism Week (in consultation with the Palm Springs Black History Committee and members of SoCalNOMA), and hope very much that it will be an interactive experience where attendees can share stories "untold" about the Black imprint on modernism in the Southland.

Get information and tickets here.


Soil: The Critical Zone

Soil is the nurturer of all living things but now 75% of the earth’s source of fertility is now depleted, by industrial farming, manufacturing and urban growth. So soil is the focus in 2022 for NAHR, or the Nature, Art and Habitat Residency, located in the still soil-rich hills of the Taleggio region in the foothills of the Alps in northern Italy. 

NAHR, founded by L.A.-based architect Ilaria Mazzoleni, is inviting people with ideas for academic or artistic meditations on soil to apply for residencies, taking place in June. California-based applicants are eligible for support from Helms Bakery District, which will sponsor one Fellow with the costs of arts production, travel, and per diem expenses. That recipient will present their work in the fall of 2022 at Helms Bakery District.

Click here for details.



To Build or Not to Build

The architecture and construction industry creates a colossal carbon footprint. Is the solution more “green” buildings or to not build at all? Get some answers in this article I wrote for Sierra magazine, inspired by the work of last year's Pritzker Prize winners Lacaton & Vassal


Monday, January 24, 2022

On The Schedule, January, 2022

Buildings in Print

A talk with John Hill, presented by AIA/LA and LACMA, January 25, 5:00 - 6:30 pm

If history is written by the victors, is architecture shaped by the writers?

 In his new book Buildings in Print: 100 Influential and Inspiring Illustrated Architecture Books (Prestel, 2021), John Hill surveys 100 seminal architecture manifestos, monographs, exhibitions, theories and histories that in his view shaped 20th century, primarily modernist, architecture. It opens with Le Corbusier’s 1923 Vers Une Architecture (Towards a New Architecture) and ends with Reinier de Graaf’s 2017 Four Walls and a Roof. But how relevant are architecture books generally, and these books specifically in a time of digital and social revolution, in which the old verities of globalizing modernism and Eurocentric architecture education are in question? 

I will talk with Hill Tuesday, at an online event co-presented by the AIA/LA Interior Architecture Committee and LACMA. He will explain the making of the book, highlight some of the publications he selected, and make the case for why these books matter and why writing about architecture is integral to the process of shaping it. 

Get info here.

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