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Light construction at the Museum of Modern

Art, New York

Autor(en): Rappaport, Nina

Objekttyp: Article

Zeitschrift: Schweizer Ingenieur und Architekt

Band (Jahr): 113 (1995)

Heft 44

PDF erstellt am: 20.07.2019

Persistenter Link: http://doi.org/10.5169/seals-78803

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Architektur Schweizer Ingenieur und Architekt Nr. 44, 26. Oktober 1995 1022

Nina Rappaport, New York

Light Construction at the Museum


The exhibition raises many thought
provoking questions about themes in
if they should
of Modern Art, New York contemporary architecture and
be connected. Riley emphasizes that these
architects «have redefined the relationship
between the observer and die structure by
Terence Riley, curator of architecture ly coining a term or trying to create an -ism, interposing elements that bodi veil and
at the Museum of Modern Art in New in many ways people and critics in the USA illuminate. In this architecture of 'lightness',
York City, has chosen «Light would like to see it as such because we are buildings become intangible, strucuires
Construction» as a way to link together prone to categorize everything, especially shed their weight, and facades become
new ideas expressed in contemporary in art and architecture. The Museum of (visually) unstable, dissolving into an often
architecture for the exhibition Modern Art's historically prominent role in luminous evanescence.» Itis significantin that
on display through January 2
currently defining architectural theory makes people for the first time this work has been gadie-
1996. Light in English has its double look to it as a trend setter, so the exhibition red together in a museum. One could look
meaning of both light as in Licht and won't be able to avoid attention. But history at die work in many different ways depending
light as weightlessness (leicht), has proven over the past decades, that on one's point of view. Riley provides
which Riley exploits. diere are no strict definitions for styles, us widi die theme of light and light
nor are periods in art precise, but they construction as one aspect of a designers
are trends which continue past each other orientation whose overall philosophies and
The recent buildings, projects and sculpai- and back again. Architects now design purposes might be different.
re from over 30 architects from 10 countries, in almost any style diey chose, and unlike In die catalogue Riley refers to Colin
including three from Switzerland, are the Modernist era, the architects exhibited Rowe and Robert Slutzky's essay
presented in a
very simple and straight forward here have not consciously formed a «Transparency: Literal and Phenomental» of 1963
exhibition design. Panels are displayed with philosophical group to promote a specific as a base for a discussion. The designers
text and photographs behind Plexiglass and design theory. focus on the phenomental material quality
large scale photographs are back lit. Most The work exhibited has some affinity of glass and metals widi transparent,
projects have a model. Two full scale to each odier which became apparent as I translucent, and reflective surfaces which is a

objects and a video are also on view. For the discussed the exhibit with some of the reinterpretation of the immateriality of glass
catalogue Terence Riley's essay touches on architects. But diese architects are not as was used by Modern Movement architects,
many themes in the exhibit such as the conscious of their work as a trend,
nor is 'light who used glass more literally for its
historical use of glass, the concept of construction' necessarily part of their transparency and ability to disappear. The
Modern Movement philosophy as a consciously selected dieme. As
transparency, tanslucency, work exhibited consists primarily of opaque
technology, computer generated buidlings Julia Kaakko from Finland said «I have or translucent glass that creates a veil
and media images. The catalogue is illustrated never seen many of these projects, for and can block or obstruct a view and reveal
widi photographs and includes example, the Swiss, but I like die work here.» shadows. The skin is used here as a veil
descriptions by Anne Dixon and Riley of all Spanish architect Juan Herreros said «It is to conceal rather than expose die strucat-
the work in the exhibition. like being in a familiar landscape, I have a re. This distances die viewer and creates
Although Riley says that widi die Déjà Vu feeling.» Kazuyo Sejiima ofJapan ambiguity and multiple reading as well as
exhibition «Light Construction», he is not real¬ said «I respect the work in die show.» depth. In some buildings diis skin is often
Picture 1.
Renzo Piano. Kansai International Airport, Osaka, Japan. 1994. Photo: Shinkenchiku-sha. © 1995, The Museum of Modern Art, NY

•->..„

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Architektur Schweizer Ingenieur und Architekt Nr. 44, 26. Oktober 1995 1023

Pictures 2, 3.
Jean Nouvel. Cartier Foundation, Paris. 1994.
Photo left: Ph. Rhault. © 1995, The Museum of
Modem Art, NY. Photo right: C. Hall

y
-3

used as a film screen for information or there.» The facade is frontal like a billboard heat. The metal and glass shingle panes
attraction. While other architects manipulate or portal gateway veiling die actual building move independendy giving die sinuous
the skin to create buildings widi multiple facade, dirough it one can see die building's building a lightweight form.
layers of insulation or mechanical facades. gallery spaces with its sliding glass walls into In Renzo Piano's Kansai Airport (1994,
Architects are more capable of creating the existing garden which Nouvel was picture l), the undulating cocoon-like metal
light construction with the new technologies required to keep in die scheme. There is an skin of stainless steel tiles exemplifies the
and engineering by firms such as Ove ambiguity with the reflective and transparent principal of lightness as well as die importance
Arup and Peter Rice who are credited in the glass surfaces so diat it is difficult to see of the roof in Japanese architecture.
catalogue, but not emphasized enough in if die garden is actually there. Nouvel achieves Piano said that «it was clear that the building
the exhibition. The projects appear «an architecture of light and shadow was going to be 1.7 kilometers long
lightweight while the contemporary «expressions which had been principally associated widi immense. So we immediately thought
oflightness are distinct from earlier solid masonry structures, such as die villa about 'lightness', and about breaking down
conceptions of lightweight architecaire: they that this building replaces», said Riley. the scale by die design of die fabric and
imply a seeming weighdessness rather than In Rem Koolhaas's Two Patio Villas in texture.»

a calculation of relative weight», said Riley. Rotterdam (1991) the translucent qualities
Buildings can look light without actually of glass are emphasized in the multiple The Swiss representatives
being lightweight - glass is indeed heavy. readings of the many reflective walls of Herzog and de Meuron's, Goetz Gallery
These buildings, which are also beautiful, different types of glass. Where Mies would in Munich (1992, picture 6), exemplifies
show how architects continue to be have had a solid, die central patio courtyard die importance of materials and ambiguity
concerned with creating spaces with natural creates a void, and multiple reflections of structure in comparison to die
block and reveal to visually combine die directness of modernist construction theory.
light to improve our environment and
with artificial light and signage to create inner and outer spaces. The simple rectangular form suggests diree
theatrical effects. In Fumihiko Maki's proposal for die stories although diere are two. The sand
Salzburg Congress Center (1992 competition, blasted glass double layer insulating panels
The Cartier Foundation was the picture 4), the skeleton frame cube has of the ground floor and of die upper
inspiration facades of perforated metal covered in glass clerestory frame the central birch laminate

Some of the works included in die with louvers that reveal the forms within so plywood panels. These conceal the truss
exhibit are more closely aligned than others. that the activities, floor plan and section are and structural system while die clerestories
They better illustrate light construction and seen simultaneously through the transparent allow diffused light into die spaces below.
incorporate issues of energy efficiency, layers. The materials are not only The building reflects its surroundings in die
technology and design with transparent translucent but are lightweight with the exterior reflection of the birch trees on die glass, so
and translucent materials. wall and interior conference room that the glass takes on a solid appearance,
The Cartier Foundation designed by suspended from the frame, exploiting the and in the use of the birch for the panels.
lightness of materials. «The two materials are very flush», as Herzog
Jean Nouvel in Paris (1994, pictures 2,3) was
the inspiration for the exhibition. As Riley In other buildings lightweight high said, «with certain light the materials are
said «Nouvel was thinking of glass in terms technological innovations create 'light almost the same, the light changes they fall
of its physical properties. The one facade is construction' in the development of the separate apart, it is not just a game because we like
pulled away from the other to increase the skin for mechanical elements and movable to be magicians; any material because of
number of reflections and the visual parts. In Nicholas Grimshaw's Waterloo chemistry has a similarity, the key is to find
complexity. The building looked like a modern International Terminal (1993), the glass specific differences.»
building, but one of the major aspects of paneled roof is held together with pin joints The importance of the separate skin as
modernism - the longing for absolute and flexible neoprene gaskets to allow for a veil is also seen in Herzog and de Meuron's

transparency and structural clarity -


wasn't movement from trains passing, wind and Signal Box auf dem Wolf in Basel

29
Architektur Schweizer Ingenieur und Architekt Nr. 44. 26. Oktober 1995 1024

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Picture 4.
Fumihiko Maki. Congress Building, Salzburg, Austria. Competition project 1992. Photo : Toshihara Kitajima. © 1995,
The Museum of Modern Art, NY

Picture 5.
Melissa Gould. Floor Plan, Linz, Austria. Installation 1991. Photo: Melissa Gould. © 1995, The Museum of Modern Art,
NY

30
Architektur Schweizer Ingenieur und Architekt Nr. 44, 26. Oktober 1995 1025

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Picture 6.
Jaques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron. Goetz
--_'
Collection, Munich. 1992. Photo: Hisao Suzuki
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Picture 7.
Toyo Ito. ITM Building, Matsuyama, Japan. 1993. ¦y
Photo credit: Shinkenchiku-sha. Both pictures
on this page © 1995, The Museum of Modern
Art, NY

(1993). Copper bands wrapped around the and dien bounces reflected light from die and included other buildings. Instead it
concrete building both conceal and reveal atrium space into other galleries. He also could be an exhibit of architecture of the
die underlying structure and the windows uses the reflective qualities of water and ice past 10 years, or of metal structures in
so that it is literally a skin around the from a pool below. recent architecaire, or the technology and

building and functions as a Faraday Cage. In Toyo Ito's Shimosuwa Museum history of glass in architecaire, or new
The use of the translucent qualities of (1993) the building's long narrow modernism, yet Riley has selected «light»
glass are also appropriate for passive energy lightweight amorphous form was computer and «light construction» as his theme widi
efficiency and diffused light for generated to create a uniquely shaped its variety of interpretation, translucency,
museums. Many architects prefer to capture aluminum panel tile roof. This thin skin multiple layers and ambiguity as a focus for
light and diffuse it through the use of opaque shields a layer of mechanical equipment. architecture of die past decade and possibly
surfaces such as in the above mentioned The interior a passageway, with a glass for years to come.
Goetz Collection. In Gigon and Guy- ceiling looks out to a court adjacent to a
Adresse der Verfasserin:
er's Kirchner Museum in Davos (1993), the pool of water and brings light into die
Nina Rappaport, New York City, USA
diffused light enters the gallery spaces center of die building.
through clerestories of frosted glass In Tod Williams and Billie Tsien's
sheathing and the matte glass ceiling over the Phoenix Sculpuire Pavilion, to be completed
galleries which conceals daylight. in 1996, a fiberglass resin dome-shape
Peter Zumthor's Kunsthaus Bregenz, form with a central oculus hovers 2.13 m
currendy under construction, is like an ice above the ground on legs. The translucent
palace or crystal with a membrane of frosted material evokes the changing light of die
glass shingles. The outer skin over the inner desert and filters the sun. Water is sprayed
skin lets air pass through a 1.22 m wide space at the height of 61 m and then evaporates
and controls the amount of sun needed to before hitting the ground to cool die
heat or cool the water pipes in die walls. exhibit space.
The rectangular concrete shell volumes are More active energy efficiency is
separated by a 2.13 m gap which brings light exemplified by buildings such as Norman Foster's

into the center of the building and is then Business Promotion Center in Duisburg,
diffused through the frosted glass suspended Germany (1993). Anne Dixon said that
ceilings in the galleries. Riley said «This «Foster's is a refined, systemic and trans-
discreet isolation conffibutes significandy mutative modernism, as if die ante of what
to the striking appearance of the building: is modern has been raised.» Air spaces
Shadows of spaces within are revealed between the two glass facades has widi
through the building's facades.» The and manually operated louvers. The
computer
insulation isolates the strucaire of the building. air cavities act as chimneys to draw hot air
up in the summer and insulate the building
A Focus for Architecture of the Past in winter. The skin is suspended from a ring
Decade beam at the roof and is attached to floor
American architect Steven HolPs slabs with movable joints.
Museum of Contemporary Art, which
Helsinki As presented in Riley's exhibition,
begins construction in December, brings «Light Construction» as a concepaial
natural light into the museum galleries by philosophy is not forceful enough to connect

placing skylights on the curved zinc roof at the works in and of itself. The exhibit could
the second and first floor gallery levels have been organized in many other ways

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