Three Exhibitions to See Now in NYC

Archive and Artifact: The Virtual and the Physical
October 23 - December 1, 2018
The Cooper Union, Foundation Building
7 East 7th Street


Archive and Artifact "celebrates The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture's experimental and influential pedagogy by presenting undergraduate Thesis projects completed at the school over the past 50 years." The show, in Cooper Union's Foundation Building, includes some big names (Elizabeth Diller, Daniel Libeskind, Stan Allen) but mostly people who didn't go on to such familiarity. Of course, the show isn't merely a before-they-were-famous peek at the student work of architects; it is an expression of the influence of founding School of Architecture dean John Hejduk (1975-2000) as well as how Anthony Vidler (2001-2013) and Nader Tehrani (2015-present) have carried on that legacy. This is a great show for fans of "physical" hand drawings and hand-built models. The "virtual" aspect of the show is found in an online database of nearly "8,500 digitized records" accessed via computer terminals in the gallery; unfortunately they weren't working when I visited.

The exhibition wraps up on Saturday, December 1st, with a symposium, Thesis Now, that will "address the agency, relevance, and history of the thesis studio in architecture curricula."


Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture
October 1, 2018 - January 12, 2019
Center for Architecture
536 LaGuardia Place


Not far from Cooper Union is the Center for Architecture and Close to the Edge. Curated by Sekou Cooke (with graphic design by WSDIA and graffiti by Chino), the two-floor exhibition displays the work of students, academics, and practitioners at the center of what Cooke calls an "emerging architectural revolution" that incorporates the elements of hip-hop: deejaying, emceeing, b-boying, and graffiti. Hip-Hop Architecture, to Cooke, "produces spaces, buildings, and environments that embody the creative energy evident in these means of hip-hop expression." The exhibition design immerses visitors in a saturated black-and-white realm of graffiti and infrastructure (cut-up shipping containers) that serve as the backdrop for architectural designs, many of them colorful. Many of the projects remind me of Deconstruction, from my days as an undergraduate architecture student, but the intellectual backbone of so-called Hip-Hop Architecture is less obtuse; in turn it comes across as a lot more fun and accessible.


Paul Rudolph: The Personal Laboratory
October 4 - December 15, 2018
The Modulightor Building
246 East 58th Street


An exhibition on Paul Rudolph's Hong Kong projects doesn't open at the Center for Architecture until the end of this month, so in the meantime fans of the 20th-century master need to head uptown to the Modulightor Building where Paul Rudolph: The Personal Laboratory is on display. The show focuses on three residences Rudolph designed for himself, one in New Haven, Connecticut, from his days as head of the Yale School of Architecture, and two in NYC, where he later lived and worked. 23 Beekman Place is the most famous of the two Manhattan projects (the trace-paper photomontages he made to gain city approval for the four-story penthouse addition are alone worth a visit), but the Modulightor Building is the one that really shines. Although the Modulightor, like the others, is documented with drawings, photos, and other artifacts, it's the experience of traversing two posthumously built floors of the building – with its narrow, floating stairs, indirect lighting, and surprisingly comfortable Plexiglas chairs (for watching a half-hour documentary on Rudolph) – that make this exhibition a must.