Eric Owen Moss characterizes Barry Bergdoll’s role as curator of architecture and design at MOMA as implicated in contradictory ideas of what modernity is: a set of stylistic tropes that can be taught as a method, or an open-ended search for, in André Malraux”s phrase, “messages yet unknown.”
Video Archive | Modernism (144)
Barry Bergdoll begins by surveying the popularity and ubiquity of architecture exhibitions, noting the rise to prominence of the curator’s voice. He proposes understanding architecture exhibitions as part of the invention of a self-conscious modernism that has repeatedly changed architecture for the last 250 years. Bergdoll stresses the promotional exhibitions of the 1760s, such as the Society of Arts in London, and the Academy in Paris, where architects exhibited drawings, prints or paintings of unrealized buildings. The first curator in the modern sense of the term, according to Bergdoll, was Alexandre Lenoir, who as first director of the revolutionary Musée des monuments français, worked not only to preserve culturally significant structures, but to change their cultural meaning from monuments of tyranny to cultural patrimony. Bergdoll surveys some of the decisive architectural exhibitions of early modernism, which presented a spatial experience rather than a narrative. Bergdoll concludes with discussions of two of his projects at MOMA, Rising Currents (2010) and Foreclosed (2012), as part of a long tradition of architectural exhibitions that are not passive mirrors of current trends, but actively creating possibilities.
To Kenneth Frampton’s critique of architectural waste as exemplified by OMA’s CCTV Headquarters in Beijing, Eric Owen Moss proposes the exterior of Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building, initiating a debate on excess, elegance, structure, and representation in early modernist and 21st century architecture. To Moss’s suggestion that the idea of critical regionalism might be a non sequitur, Frampton responds that while vernacular traditions are no longer accessible, architects can use traditional responses to local conditions to respond constructively to the trauma of modernization. They discuss whether there is any possibility for revolutionary architecture today. The debate concludes with questions from the audience concerning the CCTV, the new Barnes Foundation building, clients, and current architecture in Los Angeles.
After a brief homage to Raimund Abraham, Kenneth Frampton outlines the trajectory of critical regionalism, from the first edition of Modern Architecture: a critical history (1980), through “Critical Regionalism: Six Points for an Architecture of Resistance” (1983), and discusses some projects that illustrate his ideas by Álvaro Siza, Tadao Ando, and Jørn Utzon. Frampton discusses how he began to formulate his ideas on more recent architectural developments in the 1994 reprint of Modern Architecture. He emphatically rejects the Beijing CCTV Headquarters (2012) and National Stadium (2008) as irrational and unethical. As an alternative to this kind of globalist practice, Frampton surveys contemporary projects by architects working in developing nations, including Jan Olav Jensen, Haikkinen-Komonen Architects, Hollmén-Reuter-Sandman Architects, Dick van Gameren Architecten, Richard Murphy Architects, and Siza’s Iberê Camargo Museum in Brazil (2008). Frampton concludes by discussing Bijoy Jain and Studio Mumbai, stressing how projects such as the Palmyra house (2007) demonstrate a strategy of integrating design craft which might provide a viable path between globalist phantasmagoria and uncritical traditionalism.
Joan Ockman begins a discussion of Arne Jacobsen’s SAS Royal Hotel, Copenhagen with a description of what it would have been like to arrive in the lobby in its original state in the 1960s. After reviewing Jacobsen’s work before the hotel, she discusses the site, design and initial hostile response in Copenhagen. Ockman discusses Jacobsen’s control of every element of the hotel’s design, while pointing out moments when Jacobsen subverts the seemlessness of the thoroughly-designed environment with paradox and wit. She concludes by speculating that Jacobsen’s hotel might have been a source for the bewildering modernist locations of Jacques Tati’s Playtime.
Jeffrey Kipnis comments on the SCI-Arc sensibility, and the importance of extending its attitudes and ideas into an independent voice. He stresses the value of drawing parallels between seemingly unrelated fields. Citing Le Corbusier, he discusses the effort of producing an effect and the tendency of effects to go out of fashion.
Marcelo Spina introduces Jorge Francisco “Pancho” Liernur, Dean of the School of Architecture at the Torcuato Di Tella University in Buenos Aires. Liernur outlines the history of modernism in Argentina, especially the impact of Le Corbusier’s urban design.
Liernur discusses the work of the Austral Group, including Antonio Bonet, Juan Kurchan and Jorge Ferrari Hardoy, from Hardoy’s Butterfly Chair (a.k.a. BKF Chair), to to urban plans.