A Guide to Brutalist Architecture in Toronto
After World War II, concrete became increasingly popular as a building medium around the world. Brutalism, the fashion for plain, heavy design, reigned. Toronto was particularly affected. The city has concrete buildings of all stripes – international landmarks, metropolitan infrastructure and even the single family home. Hundreds of these structures were built, including Viljo Revell’s groundbreaking New City Hall, John Andrew’s seminal Scarborough College and the record-smashing CN Tower. Toronto is a city cast in concrete. Concrete Toronto acts as a guide to the city’s extensive concrete heritage. A diverse group of experts has been assembled to re-examine the uniqueness and value of these buildings. Included are the insights of many of the original concrete architects, university faculty, local practitioners, journalists and industry experts. Together they explore the past and future of Toronto’s concrete buildings.
Dispatches from the Edge of Architectural Production
In the 1990s, zines such as Lackluster, Infiltration, loud paper, Dodge City Journaland Monorail subverted traditional trade and academic architecture magazine trends by crossing the built environment with art, music, politics and pop culture—and by deliberately retaining and cultivating an underground presence. Much has been made of that decade’s zine phenomenon—inspiring academic studies, international conferences and DIY workshops—yet little attention has been paid to architecture zine culture specifically, or its resonance within architectural publishing today.
A Few Zines: Dispatches from the Edge of Architectural Production does both. Rather than attempting to present an exhaustive retrospective of architecture zine culture, it highlights complete runs of several noted zines that began in the nineties. The exhibition also features contemporary publications that continue to draw inspiration from the self-publishing tradition, such as Pin-Up, Sumoscraper, and Thumb.
The opening night panel discussion was on March 6. Moderated by Mimi Zeiger of loudpaper, the panel discussion “Grafting: Publishing and Practice” included Braulio Agnese from Architect, Chris Grimley from over,under, Ryan McClain from ArchitectureMNP, Quilian Riano fromArchinect, and John Southern from Sumoscraper and Urban Operations Studio.
More information on the exhibition is available at the loudpaper website.
Unsolicited Projects for the Big Dig
Measuring the urban aftermath of Boston’s Big Dig, this design and research book by Meejin Yoon and Meredith Miller documents the project’s distributed effects throughout the city. It analyzes the Big Dig’s impact on public space and illustrates fourteen speculative interventions by the firm MY Studio. Each of these is specific to the new parks that have emerged in the Big Dig’s wake. Collectively, the proposals expose, connect, and reconfigure the layered realms of highway tunnel and park surface, suggesting an infrastructural landscape where public space is weighed against public works.
The pinkcomma gallery was selected as the readers’ pick for best art gallery by the Weekly Dig as part of its 2008 Dig This Awards.
The photographs in the Close Encounters show at pinkcomma gallery (which were also shown in 2008 in Los Angeles, and in 2012 in Florence, Italy) are abstractions of signage and architectural details on Venice Boulevard in Los Angeles; they were created by Corbin Smith as he worked to come to terms with the disturbing visual chaos he found when he moved to live in Los Angeles in 2000.
Corbin used his first camera when he was 13 on an extended visit to New York City. When he was 18 and a student at Stanford’s program in Florence, Italy, his photographic eye really developed under the guidance of Matt Kahn, a Stanford Professor of Art, who encouraged his students to seek out beauty by creating photographs of less obvious subjects and to make the images personal and special. As an example, Matt showed students a photograph of a gothic rose window in a cathedral, except that it wasn’t a rose window at all: it was a manhole cover filled with confetti. Corbin uses telephoto and macro lenses to get very close to subjects, to decontextualize and abstract them, and to capture their essence. Recently, he has begun using wide-angle lenses to explore peripheral vision as his compositional structure.
The Inaugural Design Biennial Boston at pinkcomma
This exhibition was held in the pinkcomma gallery to display the work of ten emerging design firms who collaborated on the installation “Parti Wall, Hanging Green” for the national convention of the American Institute of Architects. The Young Architects Boston Group is an organization of firms dedicated to contemporary design while engaging in the complex culture of metropolitan Boston. Floating exhibition panels displayed the design work of the ten firms, complementing the collective installation presented outside. Rather than clustering images by firm, over,under designed the exhibition with a neutral organizational pattern. Panels were hung in roughly chronological order and in columns by project. Each firm typically had four projects, with one large image approximating the date the firm began. Much like with the green wall outside, the work inside was presented anonymously. Project descriptions and attributions were hidden from first view. Only a deeper look revealed the individual agendas and authorship, through the lifting of a felt panel concealing project information and credits.
A Living Wall Collaborative Installation
As part of the 2008 national convention of the American Institute of Architects, Susan Harnett of the Boston Society of Architects conceived of an exhibition that would display the work of local up-and-coming firms. The goal was to highlight the vital creative economy of Boston and dispel the perception that Boston is a place where clients shopped for architects who could produce respectable red brick buildings. A generous grant from the LEF Foundation provided funding for the collective project, run by the ten participating firms. The resulting installation “Parti Wall, Hanging Green” was a temporary, five-story-tall prototype intended to transform a blank brick wall into a lush, green environment. The team aimed to generate awareness for underutilized sites in Boston and to offer design solutions that apply sustainable principles for improving public space and creating healthy neighborhoods in the city. The structure, which was on view for two months, included panels of Sedum suspended by metal cables to form an overall pattern. Its installation involved nearly fifty volunteers and participants, forming a design community where students from various schools and designers worked side-by-side. The Young Architects Boston Group includes: Ground; Höweler + Yoon Architecture; LinOldhamOffice; Merge Architects; MOS; over,under; SsD; Studio Luz Architects; UNI; and Utile.
The pinkcomma gallery appears in the March and April 2008 issues of Architect and the May issue of Architectural Record.
Book Launch and Exhibition of Utile’s Housing Atlas
Urban Housing Atlas is a compendium of more than twenty multi-family projects that Utile, a Boston-based architecture and urban planning firm, has designed from 2003 through 2007. The book was originally developed as an in-house manual to record housing solutions and to share the knowledge gained among the office’s growing staff. In its expanded form, the publication displays many of the discoveries of Utile’s extensive involvement with housing in the region’s mid-market urban infill sites. As part of its design methodology, the firm always seeks an approach that produces innovation as well as interesting and marketable units – all within tight constraints of regulatory codes and without sacrificing efficiency and development realism.
This book represents the first in a series of publications supported by pinkcommabooks, a division of the pinkcomma gallery.
Design Nearby is an exhibition series for people who love design. The series showcases inventive craft and clever aesthetics, from graphics on a shirt to mobiles made of felt to woodblock wallpaper. Design Nearby highlights works in various disciplines, with a focus on Boston-area artists and designers. Exhibited works were available for purchase during this annual event. Past exhibitions include the following: Command-P (2007), Cloth, Paper Scissors (2008), Big Print, Lil Print (2009), Ladies Only! (2010), and Prints Charming (2011).