Friday, November 18, 2011

Clyfford Still Museum: Public Opening

The new Clyfford Still Museum opened to members of the public for free until noon today [Friday 18th], and we were able to get inside over lunch to see the space and artworks.  Overall, a very impressive experience with large galleries flooded with natural light and a feeling like around every turn new discoveries were waiting to be made.  We will need multiple visits and take more time to study all the pieces, but they included everything from very large canvases to a showcase of Still's tools and interactive biography displays.

The large featured canvas paintings were incredibly vivid and dynamic explorations of form and color, accommodated in perfectly scaled galleries for either viewing one at a time or in context with other adjacent works.  The view corridors through the upper level lobbies seemed as if they were meant to entice the visitor with unique vantage points and glimpses of the art at great distances.  Definitely worth a visit!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Still Museum opening soon

Clyfford Still Museum North Elevation
Photo by Jeremy Bittermann/courtesy Clyfford Still Museum

Museum opening may shed new light on Clyfford Still

To much anticipation, the Clyfford Still Museum is slated to open to the public next Friday November 18th.  This will be the first time that many of Still's works will be seen by more than just his family, friends and curators.  And the press has lit up with excitement...

TIME magazine has a wonderful summary of how the museum came to be, and a enticing description of the natural light in the gallery spaces.

Architectural Record has a short article on Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture giving his first impressions of the nearly complete Clyfford Still Museum construction.  Cloepfil won the commission in a 2006 shortlisted competition entry over DS + R and Ohlson DuBois Architects.

“Wow,” he says. “It’s like seeing it for the first time. It’s done. It’s real. This is probably the first time in my career that a building is more than I imagined. Everything is better than I hoped for...
“Denver, contrary to what some people think, is a prairie town,” Cloepfil says. Pointing to the west, he says, “The mountains are way over there. I wanted this building to be grounded, part of the earth. This is a neighborhood with very aspirational, very bombastic, very extroverted buildings, and this is a very introverted project.” Cloepfil has said that he conceived of the building “as a nearly geologic experience, one that firmly holds both visitor and art in spaces amplified by natural light.

A recent development in how the museum will continue to live on is yet another impressive chapter in the legacy of Clyfford Still.  To help pay for the museum and establish an endowment for the new building's operations, 4 of Still's paintings were sold for  more than $114 Million at Sotheby's auction house.  Absolutely staggering.

See a video from the Denver Post with a preview glimpse of the new galleries:

See a photo gallery of the art installation preparations here.

 Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post
Exterior Concrete Texture, Courtesy Allied Works Architecture

Friday, November 04, 2011

a good reminder

" A meaningful architectural experience is not simply a series of retinal images.  The 'elements' of architecture are not visual units or gestalt; they are encounters, confrontations that interact with memory." - Juhani Pallasmaa, The Eyes of the Skin

Door handle at Zumthor's Saint Benedict Chapel

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Kent Dining Hall featured on Archdaily

On Tuesday, our friends at  Archdaily featured the recently completed LEED Platinum Kent Denver Dining Hall.  

Thanks for the shout out!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

barn collectives: contextual invisibility

we ran across a couple intriguing projects that have strikingly similar ideas--exploring the limits of spatial proximity and formal interactions of the modern vernacular: "barn cluster".  one that has travelled its way throughout the blogosphere and was created for Living Architecture by NORD, called the shingle house, has popped up on more than a few of our favorite sites.  the distinguishing factor in the shingle house project is that it was technically a "re-furbishment" of a collection of fish shacks near the coast of Kent, England.  [renderings & plans by NORD; photos from Dezeen]

ground level plan

upper level plan


under construction




violet wood floor stain mimcs the native wildflower bloom in spring

the second is a relatively new project from brian mackay-lyons--a collection of 3 corrugated galvalume-clad barns dubbed "pugwash point".  one volume as main living, another devoted solely to a library, and couple others which could be guest spaces.  an article on the residents can be found here. [all photos courtesy macay-lyons sweetapple]

we can't help notice the design intent of these projects could possibly be to "disappear" into the context.  the single exterior material treatment for all walls & roofs would tend to lend itself to discreetness, if it weren't for the large window openings.  another factor is our familiarity with archetypes [ie-the gabled roof forms, shake shingles or corrugated panels].  Oddly enough it is the details that tell us something is strange...different than the typical, and only then do we sense the modernity of the approach.

but maybe that is what makes them intriguing places to want to be--they are the best of two [or more] of worlds that we desire?  one that is rooted in the past & place, and one that is of the present, and perhaps the future.  a modern interpretation of the vernacular can easily spawn channels of thinking which reach an extreme point of view--would it even be possible [in this era] to make a building so "contextual" that it becomes invisible?  is this approach to design immune to being irrelevant?

incredible to think that the success of this design approach strives for the best balance of two notions, rather than the pursuit of an extreme boundary of a single idea.  keep in mind this shouldn't be confused with mediocrity, since it seems the hardest things to do this profession [and life] is achieving balance in which all things are suspended rather than vacuous--in other words: levitating at the horizon of the ideal and the real.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mid-Century Modern Tour in Wheat Ridge

In my inbox today [tickets can be purchased here for $15]:

Mid Century Modern Tour in Wheat Ridge 
Six mid-century and moderns homes have been selected for tour ticket holders. The tickets will allow for entrance into the homes and the after party at modmood. Maps for the tour can be picked- up the day of the tour at modmood (7700 w. 44th avenue) and one other location which has yet to be determined. You won't want to miss this look back into the history of Wheat Ridge.

While its roots are grounded in an agricultural based heritage, the City of Wheat Ridge possesses another subtle yet quite coveted identity. A western suburb of Denver, Wheat Ridge is rich with some of the most remarkable examples of mid-century modern residential architecture in the entire Front Range region.

Sprinkled throughout Wheat Ridge are little-known pockets and, in some cases, complete neighborhoods of Mid Century Modern design. So, how did Wheat Ridge, with its rather rural and agricultural identity, attract a decidedly modern residential twist?

The physical location of Wheat Ridge lent itself perfectly to an explosion of suburban residential development in the 1950’s. This period of growth happened to be timed perfectly with modern architectural experimentation being developed. The topography and natural environs of the City, including an abundance of breathtaking vistas bordered by open-space and the Clear Creek greenbelt, encouraged - and almost commanded - a modernist approach to the design and development of its residential neighborhoods.

Mid-Century Modern design emphasizes structures with ample windows, open floor-plans and a strong connection to the indoor/outdoor experience. Many Mid-century houses utilized groundbreaking post and beam design that eliminated bulky support walls in favor of walls made of glass. Function was as important as form in MCM design, with an emphasis placed specifically on targeting the needs of the average American family.

Wheat Ridge 2020* has organized Tour Modern Wheat Ridge, which will provide access to some exemplary mid-century, modern and contemporary homes found through-out their city.

Here are images of a couple of the homes on the tour:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

comic strip 'city limits' on denver airport expansion

there is an incredible amount of snark in the comic below, for better or for [much] worse.  it is also incredibly sad because deep down, we designers know that the public could see this version [although sarcastic] as a plausible alternative...and very unfortunate because the current architects of record have an unfairly steep uphill battle that may never be cleared of pre-existing stigmas.  [they are also some very close friends and colleagues--good luck guys!]

it seems the damage has been done both politically and artistically, and if this is the public's new perception of the project how can any amount of design make it better?  it must be like inheriting a huge responsibility with the expectation of guaranteed success, only to get a kick in the groin at the same time.  it must be how Tim Cook at Apple feels now that Steve Jobs has stepped down as CEO.

And if you haven't heard of Tim Cook, than you have proved the point...

Thursday, September 01, 2011

design onscreen

this fall, design onscreen will be sponsoring an architecture and design film series: denver 2011 , presenting 9 different films at the Denver Art Museum and the Denver Film Center. receptions will follow at local drinking establishments around town.

the schedule of films is below:

How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?

(2010, Directors Norberto Lopez Amado and Carlos Carcas, 73 minutes)
Thursday September 8, 2011, 7pm at the Denver Art Museum’s Sharp Auditorium
With Deyan Sudjic, Director of the London Design Museum in person
Reception to follow at Chlóe Mezze Lounge | 1445 Market Street | Denver, CO 80202
In partnership with Architecture for Humanity

The film traces the rise of one of the world’s premier architects, Norman Foster and his unending quest to improve the quality of life through design. Portrayed are Foster’s origins and how his dreams and influences inspired the design of emblematic projects such as the largest building in the world Beijing Airport, the Reichstag, the Hearst Building in New York and works such as the tallest bridge ever in Millau France. In the very near future, the majority of mankind will abandon the countryside and live entirely in cities. Foster offers some striking solutions to the problems that this historic event will create.

Antwerp Central Station

(2010, Director Peter Krüger, 90 minutes)
Saturday September 10, 2011, 2pm at the Denver FilmCenter (2510 East Colfax in the Lowenstein CulturePlex)
Grand Prize Winner at 2011 International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA) in Montreal
Post-screening discussion to follow
Continuing Education credit available for AIA members (self-reported credits)

Between past and present, between dream and reality, a mildly ironic and contemplative look at Antwerp’s central station, considered one of the finest examples of railway architecture in Belgium. The Antwerp station embodies the spirit of the Industrial Revolution, which saw railway stations and railroads flourish across Europe, with its architecture that combines glass and metal. In the late nineteenth century, engineer Clément Van Bogaert created the 43-metre high glass dome designed by architect Louis de la Censerie to keep the smoke from the steam locomotives away from travellers. The film presents a kaleidoscopic impression of the station, with an ongoing interplay of its historical, realistic and poetic dimensions.

Bauhaus: Model and Myth

(1998-2009, Directors Niels Bolbrinker and Kerstin Stutterheim, 103 minutes)
Thursday September 15, 2011, 7pm at the Denver FilmCenter (2510 East Colfax in the Lowenstein CulturePlex)
With CU Architecture Professor Taisto Makela in person
Reception to follow at Linger | 2030 W 30th Ave | Denver, CO 80211

and at Lola | 1575 Boulder St | Denver, CO 80211

Founded in Weimar in 1919, the Bauhaus school, which sought to reconcile the arts and crafts and create a new aesthetic that would serve industry, was undeniably the twentieth century’s most important school of art, design and architecture. Considered today as a reference, the Bauhaus is more than just cubic buildings and steel tube chairs. The faculty included leading artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Lyonel Feininger, Paul Klee and Oskar Schlemmer, and architects such as Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe. The film looks at the post-World War I origins of the Bauhaus and its revolutionary influence. It reveals the real story behind its closing and the political collusion among some of its members under Nazi Germany, based on accounts by alumni and archival excerpts that reveal the visions of some of the school’s former teachers.

Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman

(2009, Director Eric Bricker, 83 minutes)
Saturday, September 17, 2011, 2pm at the Denver FilmCenter (2510 East Colfax in the Lowenstein CulturePlex)

Post-screening discussion to follow
Continuing Education credit available for AIA members (self-reported credits)

Narrated by Dustin Hoffman, VISUAL ACOUSTICS celebrates the life and career of Julius Shulman, the world’s greatest architectural photographer, whose images brought modern architecture to the American mainstream. Shulman, who passed away in 2009, captured the work of nearly every modern and progressive architect since the 1930s including Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, John Lautner and Frank Gehry. His images epitomized the singular beauty of Southern California’s modernist movement and brought its iconic structures to the attention of the general public. This unique film is both a testament to the evolution of modern architecture and a joyful portrait of the magnetic, whip-smart gentleman who chronicled it with his unforgettable images.

Desert Utopia: Midcentury Architecture in Palm Springs

(2011, Director Jake Gorst, 58 minutes)
Thursday September 22, 2011, 7pm at the Denver FilmCenter (2510 East Colfax in the Lowenstein CulturePlex)
With architectural historian and author Alan Hess in person
Reception to follow at Mod Livin’ | 5327 E. Colfax Ave | Denver, CO 80220
with “Dessert Utopia” provided by Pastel Bakery

Sponsored by Modern in Denver magazine

This documentary traces the origins and growth of midcentury architecture in the modernist mecca of Palm Springs, California. The city boasts many landmark buildings by such modernist pioneers as Richard Neutra, Albert Frey, E. Stewart Williams, Donald Wexler, William Cody and William Krisel. Jake Gorst’s film brings these unique structures alive and features never-before-seen archival footage of the architects and construction that made Palm Springs a unique gem of design in the desert.

Space Land and Time: Underground Adventures with Ant Farm

(2010, Directors Laura Harrison and Elizabeth Federici, 78 minutes)
Saturday September 24, 2011, 2pm at the Denver FilmCenter (2510 East Colfax in the Lowenstein CulturePlex)

Post-screening discussion to follow
Continuing Education credit available for AIA members (self-reported credits)

In partnership with Vega Architecture

Most recognized for the iconic Texas land-art piece, Cadillac Ranch, the 1970s art/architecture collective Ant Farm questioned the boundaries of architecture and everything else in the process. This is the first film to delve into the work of these renegade explorers in both architecture and performance art. Radical architects, video pioneers, and mordantly funny cultural commentators, the Ant Farmers created a body of deeply subversive work that presaged today’s cultural landscape..

EAMES: The Architect and the Painter

(2011, Director Jason Cohn & Bill Jersey, 81 minutes)

Thursday September 29, 2011, 7pm at the Denver FilmCenter (2510 East Colfax in the Lowenstein CulturePlex)
Post-screening Q&A with Director Jason Cohn
Reception to follow at Encore | 2550 East Colfax Ave | Denver, CO 80206
Sponsored by
In partnership with Women in Design

Bird’s Nest: Herzog and de Meuron in China

(2008, Directors Christoph Schaub and Michael Schindhelm, 88 minutes)
Saturday October 1, 2011, 2pm at the Denver FilmCenter (2510 East Colfax in the Lowenstein CulturePlex)
Post-screening discussion to follow Continuing Education credit available for AIA members (self-reported credits)

Many events for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games took place in the brand new, 100,000-seat National Stadium. Design plans for this massive structure began in 2003, when Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron were selected by the Chinese government to design the new stadium, which because of its curved steel-net walls was soon dubbed by locals as the “bird’s nest.” BIRD’S NEST chronicles this five-year effort, as well as Herzog and de Meuron’s design for a new city district in Jinhua, involving hotels, office and residential buildings. Both projects involved complex and often difficult negotiations and communications between two cultures, two architectural traditions and two political systems. Herzog and de Meuron, the Basle-based architects, find themselves working with China’s largest state construction company, Chinese artist and architect Ai Wei Wei, lawyers, and countless government bureaucrats.

New Beijing: Reinventing a City

(2009, Director Georgia Wallace-Crabbe, 53 minutes)
Saturday October 1, 2011, 7pm at the Denver Art Museum’s Sharp Auditorium
In conjunction with Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design’s Cumulus Conference
With Min Wang, Design Director for Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in person

Beijing is at the center of a building boom unprecedented in the history of humanity, with contributions by some of the world’s most celebrated architects. French architect Paul Andreu (the new opera house), Australian John Bilmon (the national aquatics center), Ole Scheeren of the Dutch agency OMA (CCTV’s head office) and Rory McGowan of the engineering firm ARUP take viewers on a tour of their achievements. At the same time, photographer and social activist Zhang Jinqi, accompanied by residents from six other Chinese cities, documents old Beijing neighborhoods before their demolition, raising many questions on the country’s future and the preservation of its cultural heritage.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

ghost 13 [Recap]: Ideas in Things

an excellent recap of the ghost 13 symposium: "Ideas in Things", hosted by Brian Mackay-Lyons on his own farm outside lunenburg, nova scotia, can be found here:

Giving Up the Ghost [text by Trevor Boddy, photos by Cherish Rosas for Canadian Architect magazine]

Some featured presenters included in the article are:

Kenneth Frampton [with a fascinating comparison to John Ruskin]

Marlon Blackwell from Arkansas
the ghost village
Day 3: Sun
The debate was energized by Toronto's Barry Sampson, who first declared that too much of the work shown up to that point in Ghost 13 relied on the "aestheticization of nature." Sampson then reacted to a similarly romantic privileging of the hand-drawn and home-made by declaring, "Digitally driven manufacturing can revive craft traditions. It can make complex shapes feasible once again and it can attract young people back to the construction industry who enjoy problem-solving with computers." There was no better illustration of Sampson's point that day than the complex digitally milled stone pieces used at crucial plan junction points in Shim-Sutcliffe Architects' Integral House for musician/mathematician James Stewart. Craft like this as the "finely made" versus craft as solely the "hand-made" brought out impassioned spiels pro and con. Are Tom Kundig's retro-mechanical gizmos (chain-powered moveable windows, hydraulically lifted skylights, cabins on wheels) the triumph of contemporary craft, or imagistic throwaways? Coffee arrived just as the debate devolved into a discussion about whether the computer coding of design software is itself an exemplification of craft at its finest.

the 3 elders: [L to R] glenn murcutt, kenneth frampton, & juhanni pallasmaa

architect brian mackay-lyons addressing the ghost 13 attendees

Giving up the Ghost?

The Ghost Lab and spinoff events like this symposium (to be documented in a book and video) may well prove to be Brian MacKay-Lyons's great legacy. If they are to be that, the backward glances and self-congratulation evident at Upper Kingsburg need to be replaced by wider frames of reference and an architectural gene pool more diverse than the Scotia Brothers...

More architects like Burkino Faso's Francis Kéré (whose contribution was limited to a phone-in due to a sudden family death abroad) would enliven things, and future collaborative constructions might be better located in places like Burkina Faso, rather than further cluttering the magnificent slopes of Upper Kingsburg. Intellectually, the time of the Anglo-American axis of Frampton and friends has passed, but there is a lively new generation writing about landscape, craft, vernacular, and architectural making in all its varied glory. Having indulged his generosity, my challenge to Brian MacKay-Lyons--now that you have had your needed Ghost retrospective--is to mount a reconceived event in a couple of years, packing that barn with the best and brightest. That, or give up the ghost...