Thursday, October 25, 2007

Robert P. Madison Strikes(out) Again

Why is Robert P. Madison continually awarded major design commissions in Cleveland? BOTC just doesn't understand. His latest abomination is about to start construction at Cuyahoga Community College's Metro Campus. See the press release below.

Let's hope the Steve Litt recognizes this building as crap and rips Madison's design thoroughly.

BOTC apologizes for not posting an image--we wonder why we cannot find an image of this on the Rock Hall or Tri-C website. Embarrasment possibly?

The joint project of Tri-C and the Rock Hall will feature 75,000 square feet of space that will enable the College's media arts, recording arts technology, music, theatre/dance, animation and other creative arts programs to be together in the same building. The Center for Creative Arts will also create the Rock Hall's library and archives, the most comprehensive repository of written, oral, audio and video materials relevant to the history of rock and roll.

"The Center for Creative Arts will establish a unique creative environment at Cuyahoga Community College," said Tri-C President Thornton. "The Center will be the foundation of artistic study at the College, and will allow us to centralize our creative pursuits, programs and facilities under one roof."

"The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has always sought to preserve and celebrate the spirit of rock and roll to make Cleveland a destination for fans and scholars from around the world," said Terry Stewart, president and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. "This new Library and Archives will help us achieve our next significant milestone, to make Cleveland the premier location for scholarly study and cultural appreciation of rock and roll music."

Friday, October 19, 2007

Respect your Elders

Last night BOTC, along with Rockitecture and TOI, had the pleasure to engage with a gathering of Cleveland's senior architects, inlcuding the two deans of Cleveland architecture, Peter van Dijk and Richard Fleischman. The reason for the event was the recent installmant of the Cleveland Artists Foundation's lecture series and exhibition examining Cleveland Modernism, hosted by the Beck Center for the Arts.

Although BOTC often takes critical shots at some of our elder architects, we due possess a profound respect for those architects that can get provocative and interesting buildings built in our rather architecturally conservative region. Anyone who walks through the exhibit will get a charge out of the pioneering residential work that exists in our area, especially Don Hisaka's Agnes Gund Residence in Peninsula.

Although BOTC bristles when modernism is discussed merely as a style, we nonetheless are inspired by the courage of these Cleveland Modernists to build according to their beliefs.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ball-Nogues MOCA Lecture Reaction

This past Tuesday, MOCA kicked-off the Talalay Lecture Series, a series of three lectures which will explore "The New Face of Architecture." The first lecture featured the work of Ball-Nogues Studio, an interdisciplinary studio, lead by young Los Angeles architects/designers Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues.

The two designers, products of SCI-ARC and Frank Gehry's practice, presented a series of temporary installations, each composed of cheap, yet imaginative materials, each by-products of concise mechanical + fabrications processes, and each laden with aspects of the spectacular, rather than and in opposition to the sublime. The installations were designed and then fabricated by the two architects, who displayed an affinity for aesthetically-pleasing forms, an appreciation and respect for craft, and, unfortunately, a notional or intellectual vacuity that could critically situate the rather intriguing work.

Now this vacuity can be the result of either a lack of interest in situating their design agenda, or represent the unsteady legs of a young practice that possesses a shallow portfolio, still groping for an intellectual strain that may simulataneously ground and propel the future work. BOTC will grant Ball-Nogues the benefit of the doubt.

However, as we sat through lecutre, we could not dismiss our gut-reaction that the temporary installations were derivative and devolved from the work of Frank Gehry. The systems that were deployed to create the different installations were rudimentary processes that simulate the structural and cladding systems that consitute much of Gerhy's built work, albeit in plywood and corrugated cardboard, rather than steel and titanium. If these systems are devolving and not evolving, where is the emergence of the "New Face of Architecture?"

Where does this work lead? Ball + Nogues were asked this question by the moderator and an audience member, questioning how this work would inform the creation of permanent architectures. Suprisingly, they did not answer this question, and somewhat dodged the question, not even offering a suggestion for a procedural enagement with permanent building. BOTC finds this a bit troubling since the designers seem very much interested in pursuing "traditional building," and hence the concern about a rhetorical vacuity.

Our concerns aside, BOTC is pleased that MOCA in engaging in such a lecture series to import talent from other parts of the country to heighten the rather lacking architectural dialogue locally. However, BOTC was distraught that the MOCA glitteratti and patrons at the lecture seemed to be so intigued with the dynamic work that could also be produced by local talent, again, if only given a chance and the freedom to pursue such work. Instead of importing content for architectural discussion, we could be exporting Cleveland-manufactured content.