The new arts campus, designed by global architecture and design firm Morphosis, has broken ground in Dallas, Texas. This marks the beginning of the first phase of construction for Edith and Peter O’Donnell Jr. Athenæum, a twelve-acre expansion of the University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas). The Athenæum complex will feature three main buildings: the Crow Museum of Asian Art (Phase I), a performance hall (Phase II), and a museum for the traditional arts of the Americas (Phase III). Phase I of the plan, the Crow Museum of Asian Art, is expected to be completed in 2024. The whole project is catalyzed by a $32 million donation from the O’Donnell Foundation.
This new cultural district, located at the southeastern edge of the UT Dallas campus, aims to become an arts destination for students, faculty, and the community. It also represents the latest milestone in a period of significant growth of the arts at UT Dallas, a school that had historically focused on science, engineering, technology, and business.
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 These anti-rebels would be outdated, of course, before they even started.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?
As we reported yesterday, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has announced their plans to demolish the 12-year old American Folk Art Museum, designed by Tod Williams & Bille Tsien. The MoMA, which has planned a new expansion on either side of Williams & Tsien’s building, claims that the building will prevent the floors from lining up and thus must be demolished. Moreover, officials claim that the building's opaque facade isn’t in keeping with the MOMA’s glass aesthetic.
Designers and architects, outraged by the MoMA's decision to destroy such a young and architecturally important part of New York's urban fabric, are now challenging the validity of the MoMA's claim. Not only has a petition been started to prevent the demolition, but many are pleading with MoMa to consider how the Folk Art Museum could be integrated into the new expansion. In fact, a Tumblr - crowdsourcing ideas for potential re-designs - has even been set-up.
See more designers' reactions & suggestions on how to save the American Folk Art Museum, after the break...
Yesterday, we shared the news of the Folk Art Museum’s announcement to sell its 53rd Street building to the MoMA due to financial troubles. As we reported, with the MoMA looking to expand its gallery square footage, speculation is growing as to whether the Folk Art museum will be preserved. The situation is a little complicated as the Folk Art building stands between the existing MoMA and an empty lot sold to the developer Hines which is where Jean Nouvel’s West 53rd tower will stand in the future. Some feel the MoMA will demolish the Folk Art to utilize the empty lot to its fullest potential. Yet, the MoMA has said the Folk Art museum will be used as gallery space.