City in a City: A Decade of Urban Thinking by Steven Holl Architects
The MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House in Los Angeles presents City in a City: a Decade of Urban Thinking by Steven Holl Architects. The exhibition opens with a reception and panel discussion on Wednesday, January 29, and Steven Holl will give a public lecture on Thursday evening, January 30. The exhibition runs through March 9, 2014.
This new exhibition of the work of Steven Holl Architects presents six urban projects in China, designed with particular focus on shaping public space, natural green strategies, hybrid programs, structure and light. Included are three built works: Linked Hybrid in Beijing, Vanke Center/Horizontal Skyscraper in Shenzhen, and Sliced Porosity Block in Chengdu, as well as three yet to be built works: Porosity Plan in Dongguan, Eco-City in Tianjin, and the Qingdao Culture and Art Center. Concept watercolors of each building will be on view along with project models and construction documents. Also featured are short videos of the built works. The exhibition is arranged chronologically from 2002-2013 through the rooms of the Schindler House, making physical the journey through a decade of thinking.
As the office has taken on work of increasing complexity in China, embracing that which could dominate us—the city, infrastructure and overpopulation—has been an important part of the Holl design process. The projects featured in this exhibition offer a study of contrasting and nested scales that acknowledge the city-dweller’s ever-morphing perception from micro to macro and back again.
Wednesday, January 29, 7-9 PM Opening reception, with panel discussion from 7:30-8:15 PM featuring contributing authors of the new book Urban Hopes: Made in China (Lars Müller, 2013). The discussion will be moderated by Christoph a. Kumpusch. Panelists include Kathy Battista, Kimberli Meyer, Mark Morris, Ryan J. Simons, Anthony Titus and Hrag Vartanian.
Thursday, January 30, 7:30 PM Steven Holl will give a lecture in the courtyard of the Schindler House.
Along with speaking on the panel, I assisted Janine Biunno from Steven Holl Architects in setting up the work displayed in the exhibition.
Embracing that which could dominate us—the city, infrastructure and overpopulation—has been part of the process of Steven Holl Architects as the office has taken on work of increasing complexity and scale in China over the past decade.
The projects featured in this book play a serious game with scale and the dynamic between micro and macro. There is no in-between, no easy hybridity, but a study of contrasting and nested scales that acknowledge the fact that the city-dweller’s perception across a given day necessarily morphs from micro to macro in cycles.
In content and format the book reflects such juxtaposition, featuring large format images and graphic documentation of Steven Holl’s recent works realized in China alongside critiques and analyses offered by a new generation of theorists. Its pages are considered sites capable of handling plurality, contradiction and excess. It reads like the passing views from a commuter train and looks like a rough script for a new notion of urbanism.
Within the development of the publication, I researched images for the "books within books" nested throughout the book, worked closely with the editor on image selection and the layout, and coordinated with Steven's office, Christof Lang, and Lars Müller's office in Zurich.
New Centers, New Peripheries, and the Scale of Hope
My essay for Urban Hopes: Made in China by Steven Holl, "New Centers, New Peripheries, and the Scale of Hope," focuses on the historical precedents of the hybrid typology deployed throughout China by Steven Holl Architects. In the piece, I write about Edificio COPAN, Karl Marx-Hof, Plan Obus, Gallaratese, Rockefeller Center, and the National Arts Schools.
One year after his passing, I wrote about working with Lebbeus Woods and constructing the Earthwave in Los Angeles. [32BNY]
The Earthwave is an installation that proves to a new generation that there is a fine line between “unbuilt” and “unbuildable”. Lebbeus never designed any projects to be unbuilt. The Earthwave is an inhabitable drawing—much like The Storm, The Fall, and System Wien—which allows one to move through the structure’s swarms at 1:1 scale. Being able to inhabit the structure introduces a new dimensionality while referring to the 2D and 3D nature of the project.
There was an urgency and precision to Lebbeus’ work that embodied his striving towards answering the question he posed to not only the field at large, but himself, “What is architecture for?” This type of thinking must not be lost to the whims and trends of a field constantly trying to define of reinvent itself.
The structure will reignite lines of thought that cannot be easily identified or labeled, but will continue to inspire the next generation of architects. The Earthwave is a 3-dimensional embodiment of Lebbeus’ ideals, a challenge to the perceived notion of what is considered architecture, and a transcendental experience of inhabitation.
Lebbeus once wrote “even the most self-determined students need some help along the way: the encounter with a rare teacher who stirs their imaginations, ignites their passions about an idea, or sets an example by the teacher’s own knowledge, integrity, and dedication.” While his absence is immeasurable, the Earthwave maintains the spirit in which Lebbeus approached every student he taught.
The site allows the Earthwave to capture and symbolize the city’s energy without inhibition. The design is purely urban in nature—its steel members creating a hierarchy of imperceptible forces constantly in motion throughout the city—and has regained the rampancy of its form. The siting of the project will free it from being perceived as an object to be viewed from a distance and transform the structure into a metric of urbanity meant to be freely moved through.
The Earthwave was initially designed by Lebbeus Woods and Christoph a. Kumpusch in collaboration with Adam Orlinski for the Biennale of Architecture and Art of the Mediterranean (BaaM) in Reggio Calabria, Italy and is based on a Lebbeus Woods drawing from 1997. It is one of several projects in over a decade of collaboration between Lebbeus Woods and Christoph a. Kumpusch.
The Earthwave was fabricated at SCI-Arc and moved to E. 3rd St .and Traction Ave in May, 2013. The piece was part of the LEBBEUS WOODS IS AN ARCHETYPE exhibition. It has been moved to it's permanent home at 411 Main St. in downtown Los Angeles.