“This national museum helps to tell a richer and fuller story of who we are,” said Obama. “It helps us better understand the lives, yes, of the president but also the slave, the industrialist but also the porter, the keeper of the status quo but also the activist seeking to overthrow that status quo.”
A century since the founding of the National Memorial Association and the start of a campaign by African-American war veterans for a monument of African American culture, the National Museum of African American History and Culture will finally be opened on September 24th. The Museum took $540 million and four years to build, resulting in a striking, and refreshingly unorthodox, architectural construction on Washington DC’s National Mall. The Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup JJR team, led by Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye, defiantly broke the white-marble-Corinthian-column convention, opting instead for a bronze-coated aluminum façade bound to provoke a reaction from the critics.
It’s rare for an architect to have the opportunity to design a building in which symbolism and form are as important as function, if not more so. But this was the task given to David Adjaye when he won the commission to design the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), which, when it opens in September, will be the final Smithsonian institution to take its place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Adjaye, whose work is marked for its extreme sensitivity to context, found himself challenged in ways he had never been before. On the occasion of the completion of Adjaye’s Eugene McDermott Award residency at MIT, Metropolis editor Vanessa Quirk spoke with the architect about the new institution, its symbolic significance, and the blurry boundary between monument and museum.
Next Month, architecture will be hitting the mainstream media, as Bjarke Ingels has been selected to grace the cover of the September 2016 edition of WIRED UK. Titled “THINK BIGGER,” the issue will also feature profiles and stories from architects and designers Tom Dixon, Neri Oxman, David Adjaye and Rem Koolhaas. A Condé Nast Publication, the magazine focuses on the effects of science and technology on topics including design, architecture, culture, the economy, politics and philosophy.
Photographer Paul Clemence of ARCHI-PHOTO has shared with us images of Adjaye Associates' nearly-completed Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The building draws inspiration from the nearby Washington Monument, mirroring the 17-degree angle of its capstone in the museum’s tiered corona. Adjaye has described the building’s ornamental bronze lattice as “a historical reference to African American craftsmanship.” The skin can also be modulated to control the transparency and amount of sunlight reaching the interior spaces. The building will open to the public on September 24, 2016.
In this series by renowned financial institution Goldman Sachs, Talks at GS, some of architecture’s leading minds, including David Adjaye and Maya Lin, talk about how their careers have developed, their secrets to success, and what they are working on right now. The most recent video features Bjarke Ingels discussing his design approach and the development of this year’s Serpentine Pavilion. In addition to the videos, Goldman Sachs has also sat down with two other design leaders to talk about their careers.
The Spaces has recently released a short film in which architect David Adjaye and his musician brother Peter Adjaye discuss their upcoming vinyl collaboration, which fuses music and architecture together to represent a multi-sensory experience.
David Adjaye is set to release a vinyl record with his brother Peter, a composer and musician with whom David has been formally collaborating for over a decade, reports The Spaces. The record, Dialogues, presents a collection of 10 of Peter's sonic responses to David's architectural projects. "When I see architecture I hear sounds – I respond to the visual. David responds to sound – he creates with a soundtrack in his mind," Peter said of their creative dynamic.
Adjaye Associates, working with local firm AB3D, envisioned the museum as a social incubator, a welcoming and porous space where people could be brought together through a variety of formal and spontaneous interactions. The jury found that the proposal’s distinctive silhouette would give the museum a strong presence within its context of planned commercial and residential developments, and that is orientation and materiality showed a keen awareness of the vernacular and cultural contexts.
This two-day symposium is co-sponsored with the MIT 2016 Committee and the MIT Department of Architecture. It will examine architecture and cultures at MIT and their influences on education and student life on campus. Speakers, including David Adjaye and Hashim Sarkis, will explore the prescient design of the original buildings and the interdisciplinary, innovative research that they fomented, as well as imagine the teaching and maker spaces of the future.
The David Adjaye-designed Aishti Foundation in Beirut, Lebanon is nearing completion. Located in central Beirut, the building replaces former warehouses, housing both an art gallery and retail space. This unique “juxtaposition of art and shopping” inspired Adjaye and Associates “to create a design for an entirely new typology that would integrate two, often conflicting, worlds,” write the architects in a press release.
In the mid-1980s, after literature had long been held hostage by postmodernist irony and cynicism, a new wave of authors called for an end to negativity, promoting a "new sincerity" for fiction. Gaining momentum into the 1990s, the movement reached a pinnacle in 1993 when, in his essay E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction, pop-culture seer David Foster Wallace, a proponent of this "new sincerity," made the following call to action: “The next real literary ‘rebels’ in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of anti-rebels, born oglers who dare somehow to back away from ironic watching, who have the childish gall actually to endorse and instantiate single-entendre principles... These anti-rebels would be outdated, of course, before they even started. Dead on the page. Too sincere. Clearly repressed. Backward, quaint, naive, anachronistic. Maybe that’ll be the point. Maybe that’s why they’ll be the next real rebels. Real rebels, as far as I can see, risk disapproval. The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal: shock, disgust, outrage, censorship, accusations of socialism, anarchism, nihilism. Today’s risks are different. The new rebels might be artists willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the ‘Oh how banal.'"
Architecture, ever in debt to the styles and ideas of other art forms, could learn a thing or two now from the resuscitation of American fiction at the turn of the millennium. It too is enduring an identity crisis, mired by pessimism and uncertainty - a reality made painfully clear this past January when a New York Times Op-Ed by Steven Bingler and Martin C. Pedersen, How to Rebuild Architecture, divided camps and made the design world fume. In the editorial, the authors spoke vehemently of an architectural profession that has become mired by egos and been disconnected from public needs. Things quickly got ugly, critics wrestled with critics and subsequently the public got involved. What no one seemed to take into account is that this type of hounding is at the core of the problem. In its current landscape the discipline has struggled with its past, been deferential to its present, and wrestled with the uncertainty of its future. In a moment when we have become addicted to despondency, can anyone win?
In discussion with Calvin Tomkins for a 2013 profile in The New Yorker, David Adjaye spoke intensely on the significance of his Sugar Hill Development. “Context,” said Adjaye, “is so important, not to mimic but to become part of the place. I wanted a building that acknowledges its surroundings.” The recently-completed project is the brainchild of Ellen Baxter, leader of Broadway Housing Communities (BHC), a non-profit that has made strides to create innovative housing schemes in Upper Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood. In an era where mixed-used developments are routine, Sugar Hill adds new dimensions to the typology by uniting affordable apartments, an early childhood education center, offices for the BHC, and the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling.
In conjunction with their full building review written by Rob Bevan, The Architectural Review has produced this video which introduces the broader public to the tenants, allowing us to better understand the building’s use, intentions, and the design philosophy.
'Defiance' manifests itself in many forms: riots in Baltimore, makeshift housing in Rwanda, Pink Floyd in Venice and plants growing where they ought not sprout. To defy the norm is an act of rebellion and in architecture, doubly so. In the third issue of LOBBY, the burgeoning magazine from London's Bartlett School of Architecture, the notion of defiance and its incarnations are investigated in a collection of essays, interviews and discussions with leading and emerging thinkers in urbanism and architecture. From Swiss master Mario Botta to Carme Pinós, former partner to Enric Miralles, this latest LOBBY investigates the act of defiance as a core tenet of architectural practice.
October has become a busy month in the design world. If you’re living in the United States, New York specifically, it means Archtober: a portmanteau that means the city is flooded with architecture activities, programs and exhibitions, piled onto an already rich design calendar. One of these events is the New York Architecture & Design Film Festival, which started on Tuesday night and runs through Sunday October 18th, and will screen 30 films from around the world in 15 curated, themed programs.
This week, I was able to visit the festival to absorb the atmosphere and speak to the festival's director Kyle Bergman, to learn the ins and outs of this year’s festival, how things got started, and where it will go in the future.
Update:The Chicago Tribune's architecture critic Blair Kaminhas now reported that 140 architects from 60 cities have expressed their interest in designing the Barack Obama Presidential Center in Chicago by submitting qualifications. Of these, 99 are based in the United States, although names have not been released. The below article, originally published on September 1st, lists 11 architects that Kamin was able to confirm had been invited to submit qualifications by the Barack Obama Foundation.
The Linda Pace Foundation has unveiled plans for a new building designed by Adjaye Associates. Planned to open in San Antonio, Texas in 2018, "Ruby City" will house the Foundation's growing collection of contemporary art. The two-story structure, clad in "crimson-hued panels of precast concrete with glass aggregate," will be distinct with its "dramatic rooftop of sloping angles and skylights that rise to varying heights and echo cut-away spaces at the building’s base."