S K Y L I N E | A Socialist Architect Gets Her Due
Streetery-scapes, Future Casting, a Debut in Stone, Kana Fever
Issue 106. Have a knack for writing pithy lines like the ones that usually go here? Then you could be NYRA’s new (part-time) Engagement Coordinator. Apply now.
Shocker: not everyone approves of this year’s Pritzker prize winner. We’re not especially inclined to join the debate, which would entail a critical re-examination of the Pritzker itself—and that, we recognize, has been done many, many times before. So instead, we present you with four dispatches of events ranging from a Chinatown gallery opening to the 2023 Womxn in Architecture conference at Princeton, to which the subject line of this email refers. Scroll down to read more about Svetlana Kana Radević, where you’ll also find event listings for the coming week. You may even spot some Pritzker fodder while you’re down there.
3/16: A Moveable Feast
CHINATOWN — Thursday morning’s chill gave way to a balmy spring evening, as design-types flocked to citygroup for the opening of The Great Outdoors, a taxonomy of New York’s dining sheds. Photographs of streeteries taken at oblique angles by SEBASTIJAN JEMEC and SIMON JOLLY during the first year of the pandemic were pinned in a continuous line along every wall, with some “book matched” to form a Dadaist version of Google Street View.
According to Jolly, the intimate basement gallery could only accommodate half of the total photos. Rather than consign the rest to Instagram (a trend I covered way back in SKYLINE 57), the duo bound the prints in an extendable book that doubles as a portable exhibit, right down to the introduction that acts as the wall text written by frequent NYRA contributor AJ ARTEMEL. The crowd spilled onto the raised sidewalk, and inspired by the photos, appropriated a parking space or two. Spotted: e-flux Architecture team NICK AXEL and CHRISTINA MOUSHOUL, plus Canal Street Research Association member MING LIN.
— Nicholas Raap
3/16: Back to the Future(s)
ZOOM — “Who gets to speculate and to what ends,” asked media theorist SHANNON MATTERN, at the start of an afternoon of panels presented by Critical Speculations. While part of the Papanek Design Anthropology Symposium (which continues for a second day on the subject of spatial ecologies), the series kicked off early on in the pandemic, when Mattern, then teaching at the New School, and ALISON J. CLARKE, a design historian at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, began hosting talks on this new thing called Zoom. In a different vein, various speakers described the slipperiness of simultaneity that accompanies any attempt to limn a futurity from fragmented histories and following the dense ethics of collective making.
SALOME ASEGA, an artist and director of NEW INC, presented several far-seeing projects, including Crown Heights Mic, a pirate radio conceived with community members, and the Iyapo Repository, a working museum for Afrofuturist media she founded with AYODAMOLA TANIMOWO OKUNSEINDE. BODHI CHATTOPADHYAY, who cultivates futures literacy through transmedial artistic collaborations, outlined his ongoing work with the CoFUTURES lab. ELIZABETH CHIN, of the journal American Anthropologist, spoke about promoting editorial care in her dual capacity as a design critic and a peer-reviewer and offered anecdotes about her involvement with a neighborhood circuitry workshop. Curator and historian JONATHAN SQUARE discussed his forthcoming Afric-American Picture Gallery project, which riffs on William J. Wilson’s 1859 essay of the same name about a speculative gallery devoted to Black art in the United States.
Can today’s generation of designers and students dream? A comment during the audience Q&A suggested that the accumulating traumas of the present have eroded this faculty. Responding, Asega voiced hope that her work — and that of her co-speakers — might get people back to a place of dreaming.
— Angie Door
3/15: Rock On
GREENPOINT — On Thursday night, the Architectural League of New York hosted a panel on expanded applications of stone at the newly built showroom of ABC Stone. The talk, which also included a brief tour of the company’s expansive warehouse along the Williamsburg waterfront, was led by engineer STEVE WEBB and stonemason PIERRE BIDAUD. They outlined the particularities of their longstanding partnership, which has always had ambitions to recenter masonry as a structural element in contemporary design and, consequently, reduce embodied energy across the built environment. Bidaud, who hails from France, noted that the country has been a leader in this area since the postwar years: “To reconstruct France, we required a material that could be acquired quickly and cheaply, and, in France, something that we have a lot of is stone.” Webb went on to note that, in terms of performance, stone can match many of the qualities of concrete without the intense carbon footprint associated with the material.
— Matthew Marani
3/2: Screen Presence
PRINCETON — Synthy sounds that wouldn’t be out of place in a ’70s giallo film menace a sunny Montenegrin coast. The morning tide laps the shore, as an elegant middle-aged woman scrawls strange glyphs into the sand with the aid of a tree branch. We see her stride up and down the beach in a white skirt suit and matching white heels. We see her stare intently at the horizon. Then she’s crouched down, legs crossed, finally ready to address the camera through giant blobular eyeglasses — a measured affectation that hints at her métier. She is an architect, and as a flashing chyron discloses, her name is Svetlana Kana Radević.
ANNA KATS, a curator and PhD student at the Institute of Fine Arts, began her keynote at the Womxn in Design and Architecture Conference with a description of this very montage, which opens an hourlong 1980 documentary dedicated to Radević. The fact of its length and its production by a state broadcaster accorded a certain prominence to its subject, Montenegro’s first woman builder. (In translation, the title, Man Has But One Life, curiously elides the issue of gender.) Then why such an unconventional setting, to which the filmmakers return over the course of the film? “Whilst most in the architectural profession would sooner give interviews in the office, in the studio, or on the construction site,” Radević, Kats noted, “appears to have chosen an idiosyncratic staging.” But the portrayal, rather than merely highlighting her eccentricities, served to enhance Radević’s image as “a singular visionary,” perhaps even on par with a figure like Le Corbusier, whom she labeled a “counter-revolutionary.”
She would be happy to know that this mythos endures, Kats quipped. Recent years have seen a reappreciation of Radević in her homeland, where she has become a brand name. A postage stamp bearing a likeness of “Kana” — it neatly conforms her signature eyewear to the contours of her oval face, or perhaps it’s the other way around — was put into circulation in 2021. Her achievements, which include the 1967 Borba Prize (the Yugoslav equivalent of the Pritzker) and at least two significant works (the Hotel Podgorica and Hotel Zlatibor, located in Montenegro’s capital and Uzice, Serbia, respectively) are discussed on talk shows. Commentators cast her career within a proto-feminist frame. The focus of a standalone exhibition at the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale, she was also a central figure in a 2018 survey on Yugoslavian architecture mounted by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.
Kats, who was co-curator of the former show and pivotal to the latter, recapitulated the story of her interest in Radević to a packed Princeton auditorium. While on a research trip for the MoMA show, she discovered the architect’s papers in a cousin’s home in the Montenegrin beach town of Petrovac-na-Moru. As she recalled in a tribute for The Architectural Review:
They are assembled in the loosest sense of the word: no archivists or librarians have ordered their motley contents or developed an organizational logic for the abundance of correspondence, photographs, slides, visa forms, other bureaucratic paperwork, and diverse ephemera that are neatly bundled into sacks and stored in low-light quarters.
The dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the disheveled state of her intellectual property resulted in Radević’s slide into obscurity — a historiographical injustice for an architect who not only overcame gender bias to rise to her country’s cultural firmament, but also studied under Louis Kahn at the University of Pennsylvania and worked for Kisho Kurokawa in Tokyo.
Kats’s presentation, however, diverged from the standard monographic treatment by fastening onto a wider perspective, one encompassing “professional networks, institutional frameworks, and political economies.” There is something meaningful in the way Radević elected to travel abroad at the moment her career was taking off in Montenegro. Similarly, her decision to continue practicing in Podgorica rather than relocate to the territorial capital of Belgrade or even Philadelphia, as a friend from Penn expected she would, “contravenes the dichotomies of center and periphery that inform the canon of architectural history.” Her commitment to Yugoslavia’s “self-managed” socialist model shines through in her choice (she was a card-carrying Communist), though Kats suggested that she would have adjusted to working under a capitalist market economy.
The keynote was given a compelling texture by the photographs Kats projected at the front of the room. In addition to scans of architectural drawings, including Radević’s undergraduate thesis project (reminiscent of Brasilia’s National Congress complex), there were many candid snapshots, including one depicting a surprise birthday party Radević and her peers threw for Kahn, who inspects the cake. At the end of the Q&A, an older man in the audience spoke up and identified himself in the photo. “I was friends with Svetlana,” he said, addressing Kats. Surprised and delighted, she assailed him with questions, which he seemed to enjoy. But she saved the most pressing one for last: “Do you remember what kind of cake that was?”
— Samuel Medina
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EYES ON SKYLINE
In Skyline 105, readers appreciated Kate Wagner’s skepticism toward this year’s Pritzker Prize pick.
IN THE NEWS
More people have jumped on the anti-Chipperfield bandwagon — most notably, critic Aaron Betsky, who was unsparing in his appraisal of the architect. (Dezeen)
The Adams administration is pushing a plan that would hamstring the Public Design Commission. (Gothamist)
Turns out, it’s harder to convert modern office towers into residences. But it isn’t impossible. (The New York Times)
Nearly 250 architects, academics, students, and others have signed a petition calling for the architects behind the Trump-approved US Embassy in Jerusalem to bow out of the project. (The Architect’s Newspaper)
Mourning the death of the LaGuardia AirTrain project? Well, don’t! (Hell Gate)
IN RAT NEWS
In an interview with the Harvard Gazette, New York City sanitation commissioner Jessica Tisch outlined her strategy to minimize the presence of trash bags on city streets, thus putting an end to “an all-you-can-eat-buffet for rats.” Or at the very least “reduc[ing] its hours of operation.”
The week ahead…
2023 Design Matters Conference with Justin Garrett Moore, Judilee Reed, Carson Chan, Maria Nicanor, Sally Tallant, Nick Axel, Felix Burrichter, Marquise Stillwell, Beatrice Galilee, Jacquelyn Sawyer, Ann Yoachim, Deborah Marton, Andrew Brown, & Pratik Dubey
8:00 AM ET | Association of Architecture Organizations & AIA New York & Center for Architecture
Note: This event extends to the following day. Talks begin at 9:00 AM.
Design Anthropology: Critical Speculations with Alison J. Clarke, Shannon Mattern, Victor Buchli, David Jeevendrampillai, Nicole Cristi, Elaine Gan, & Brandi T. Summers
12:00 PM ET | The New School, University of Applied Arts Vienna & Papanek Foundation
What’s in a Pavilion? with Tizziana Baldenebro, Lauren Leving, Ann Lui, Iker Gil & Rachel Kaplan
2:00 PM CT | Independent Curators International
Labor & Extraction with Peggy Deamer, Natasha Iskander, Gabrielle Printz, & Sarosh Ankelsaria Monday
5:00 PM ET | Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture
Refuse//Repose: Exhibition Opening with Andrew Economos Miller, Jean Jaminet, & Ryan Scavnicky
6:00 PM ET | Kent State University College of Architecture and Environmental Design
The Surrounds: The Afterlives of Blackness in a Pacific City with AbdouMaliq Simone
6:00 PM ET | City College of New York Spitzer School of Architecture
Feminist Architectural Histories of Migration with Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi, Armaghan Ziaee, Eunice Seng, Ross Exo Adams, & S. E. Eisterer
6:30 PM ET | Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
all(zone): Lightly & Casually with Rachaporn Choochuey & Sunil Bald
12:00 PM ET | The Architectural League of New York & Cooper Union Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture
Mass Support: Flexibility and Resident Agency in Housing Exhibition Opening
6:00 PM ET | City College of New York Spitzer School of Architecture
Confronting Carbon Form Exhibition Opening with Stanley Cho, Elisa Iturbe, & Alican Taylan
6:30 PM ET | Cooper Union Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture
Preserving Affordability with Mark Zimet, Chris Cirillo, Al Shehadi, Lindsay Peterson, Daniel Magidson, Mark Ginsberg, Gita Nandan, John Shapiro, & Ward Dennis
9:00 AM ET | Historic Districts Council, AIA New York | Center for Architecture, AIA Brooklyn, & Pratt Institute School of Architecture
Centering the Role of Design in Design-Build with Angel A. Dizon III, Christine Foushee, Alison B. Hirsch, Alison Landry, Michaela Metcalfe, & Rebecca Macklis 6:00 PM ET | AIA New York | Center for Architecture, NYC Public Design Commission, & NYC Department of Design and Construction
Emerging Voices 2023: Janette Kim and N H D M Architects with Janette Kim, Nahyun Hwang, David Eugin Moon, & Marc Neveu
6:30 PM ET | The Architectural League of New York
Our listings are constantly being updated. Check the events page for up-to-date listings and to submit events.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Critic Paul Goldberger noticed last week’s dispatch about a demonstration against the proposed demolition of the lobby at 60 Wall Street. He wrote to us on Instagram, saying that he no longer holds the view that the Roche-Dinkeloo–designed hall possessed all the charm of “an ice-cream parlor blown up to monumental scale”:
I am definitely in favor of preserving this…. Time has proven me wrong in my initial assessment (which was never all that negative — I just found it a little silly and lightweight). But what seemed frivolous then has absolutely stood the test of time, and proven itself to be better than I had thought. To turn it into yet another generic corporate lobby would be a massive lost. It’s now earned its place as a significant historical work.
New York Review of Architecture is a team effort. Our editor is Samuel Medina. Our deputy editor is Marianela D’Aprile. Our editors-at-large are Carolyn Bailey, Phillip Denny, and Alex Klimoski, and our publisher is Nicolas Kemper.
To pitch us an article or ask us a question, write to us at: email@example.com.
For their support, we would like to thank the Graham Foundation and our issue sponsors, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and Thomas Phifer.
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