in the Public Realm
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Previous Newsletters Vol.4 Issue 2 - February, 2014

The fortuitous juxtaposition of the Olympics and the 'endless winter' gave us a terrific excuse to channel our inner couch potato and spend a few weeks curled up in front of our television watching other people work out. Some melted under pressure, routines deconstructed, and gates were missed. Others rose to the occasion and had the race of a lifetime where everything came together perfectly. When split seconds are all that differentiates winners from losers, and the rewards for medalling are so transformative, it is no wonder that athletes did whatever it took to get onto the podium. We were dutifully impressed with their dedication and ambition when they willingly jettisoned coaches and countries in their quest for glory.

We have never considered ourselves particularly loyal. Our dry cleaner would have to destroy our favorite dress, our housekeeper steal the family silver, our dentist fill the wrong tooth and our surgeon remove a healthy organ for us to even contemplate firing our supporting cast. Changing nationalities seems a trifle excessive. However, since our loved ones sometimes equate our professional accomplishments with certificates we won in second grade, we can imagine the seductive appeal involved in being perceived through a different lens. For many Olympians it turned out to be all that they needed to advance to the finals.

In that spirit we are dedicating this issue to changing contexts, highlighting what is world class and under the radar screen. When lists are made of major architectural design firms in New York, Joel Sanders is not at the top. When Northwest artists are selected, neither Dan Corson nor Adam Kuby comes to the forefront. Yet their work all focuses on landscape, on siting, on new media, on sustainability in very thoughtful and quite inspiring ways. Similarly, the Holcim Foundation started by a Swiss cement company is most noted for its signature international awards program in sustainable construction, a moniker more prosaic than sexy. When the discussion turns to public art collections in Texas Corpus Christi's Public Art Collection is barely mentioned. All of these people and programs are highly respected in the circles in which they move. What separates them from their better known peers is very little. Much noteworthy talent is easily shoehorned then calcified into pigeonholes with expectations scaled to match. Changing contexts could be the winning lottery ticket to appropriate opportunities, support and recognition on an international stage.

Abby Suckle, President


Highlights of Corpus Christi's Public Art Collection include a group of sculptures located downtown. Themes range from its history such as Sherman Coleman's Friendship Monument to more contemporary culture and events.

By far the city's most famous native daughter was Tejano singer, Selena Quintanilla-Perez. In 1995 her former fan club president shot her to death. She was 23. In her short life, she had already sold over 60 million records and won a Grammy. The sheer tragedy of the event evoked a national outpouring. Jennifer Lopez played her in the 1997 movie, Selena. Known as La Flor, Selena often sported a signature white rose. Wade (Buddy) Tatum's Statue is part of the larger Memorial to her, the Mirador del Flor at the Seawall. It has become a pilgrimage shrine, considered Corpus Christi's Alamo. The real leather outfit she is wearing in the sculpture is in the Smithsonian.

Whataburger (another Texas institution) is considered by many to have 'invented' the quarter-pound burger. Headquartered in Corpus Christi till it decamped for San Antonio in 2009, the company supported the local baseball stadium, Whataburger Field, home to the Hooks, the AA team of the Houston Astros. In front is a sculpture. For the Love of the Game Seth Vandable's 17' tall ballplayer has the unofficial distinction of being the largest bronze baseball monument in the world.

The Festival of the Arts, is held each March. Usually there is a participatory artwork. In 2008 Jack Gron and Greg Reuter created Tracings of Corpus Christi, from items found on the beach.

City of Corpus Christi Selena Memorial (1997) Corpus Christi, TX
Wade (Buddy) Tatum , Photo © Tess Allen

For the Love of the Game (2005) Seth Vandable
Corpus Christi, TX Photo © Tess Allen

Traces of Corpus Christi (2008) Jack Gron, Greg Reuter
Corpus Christi, TX Photo © Tess Allen

The Friendship Monument (1992) Sherman Coleman
Corpus Christi, TX Photo © Tess Allen


In the public art world, there is a lot of discussion about siting artworks. Like any good design project, the goal is to find some meaning in the place itself and from that generate a work that will comment on it in a way that locks it into its setting, resonates with its audience, and ideally transforms both the place and how people think about it. Most of it falls short because that's a lot of baggage to attach to a single sculpture. And it requires a strong committment from the artist to come up with the idea, the client to support it and the community to embrace it. If any one falls short, it doesn't work. What Portland Artist Adam Kuby brings to the table is that he has thought a lot about art and its landscape, and the manmade and natural. Through the use of a minimal palette of trees and stones, he has created a body of work that has contributed to the larger dialogue in a way that actually moves it forward.

On Jan 5, 2002, the 93-year old JM Weatherwax Building was destroyed by arson. A new school was built in 2007 which reused some of the historic facade elements. What remained of the sandstone construction blocks were stored for several years until they were eventually repurposed into Breaker located nearby. The piece is about cultural history and incorporating it into the landscpae.

There are two companion works for a stormwater facility in Madison Valley, Washington that are about the power of nature. Incrementally is about the action of flooding on the area and explores nature's power to destroy. Not very far away, Hydro-Geo-Bio covers the exposed facade of giant new 14 ft. tall storm water holding tank. directing stormwater from above over the wall. It has bird nesting sites in the wall, faux-bark facades lead to 29 cavity nesting bird houses embedded there for future nest sites.

Hyrdo-Geo-Bio Seattle, WA (2012) Photo © Adam Kuby
Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs

Breaker (2013) 4culture
Aberdeen, WA Photo © 4culture
photo © Evan Joseph

New York, NY
TEN-Arquitectos (2013)

Occupying a prominent site on the water's edge of Manhattan, this is one of Enrique Norten's most recent buildings in New York.

Eventually Site #3 at Seymour River (2009) N Vancouver, BC Photo© Adam Kuby, District of North Vancouver, BC

Incrementally (2010) Seattle, WA Photo © Adam Kuby
City of Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs


We were a bit perplexed by the idiosyncrasies of the scoring for Olympic events that were not tests of speed. We thought that this would be a good time to explore judging in all of our three programs this month. Since they are at the BSA Space and Center for Architecture they will obviously be about curating architecture.

We invited some of the people responsible for creating architectural collections to share their insights into how they select works for inclusion. We invited some of the people who judge (and win) awards to look at it from the other side to frame the discussions.


Date: Friday March 14
Time: 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Center for Architecture

The Pairing:
Enrique Norten Hon FAIA
TEN- Arquitectos
Pedro Gadanho
Museum of Modern Art

Join us for our monthly conversation about Architecture & Design philosophies which are always totally provocative, very lively and lots of fun. The beverages are uniformly delicious, too.

Mexican Architect, Enrique Norten practices in New York and Mexico City. He also teaches ate has balanced the practice of architecture with a constant participation on international juries and award committees such as the World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition in New York City and the Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction.

Pedro Gadanho is an architect and writer. He is the Curator for Contemporary Architecture at the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA.


Date: Friday March 28
Time: 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Center for Architecture

The Pairing:
Joel Sanders AIA
Joel Sanders Architect
Barry Bergdoll
Columbia University

Architect Joel Sanders Combining teaching with practice, Joel Sanders is the Principal of his New York based studio JSA and a Professor of Architecture at Yale University.

Barry Bergdoll is the Meyer Schapiro Professor of Modern Architectural History at Columbia University and a curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at The Museum of Modern Art, where from 2007-2013 he served as The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design.


Photo © ESTO

Date: Thursday, March 27
Time:6:00 - 8:30 pm
Location: BSA Space

David Fixler FAIA
President DoCoMoMo

Erica Stoller
Artist & Director, Esto
Anton Grassl
Peter Vanderwarker

Robert Campbell FAIA
Boston Globe
Jane Thompson FAIA
Thompson Design Group
Perry Neubauer FAIA
former president TAC
Ann Whiteside
Librarian / Harvard Graduate School of Design

To celebrate the inaugural Boston Design Week, cultureNOW has partnered with the BSA’s Architectural Photography Network to explore the impact of photography in shaping our perception of the cityscape of Boston. The program includes presentations by some of Boston’s foremost architectural photographers followed by a spirited panel discussion.

Hell's Kitchen: The Political History of the New York Irish
Date: Sunday, March 23rd
Time: 1:00 - 4:00 pm
Location: St. Patrick's Cathedral

James Kaplan, lawyer and historian, leads our annual walking tour of New York City's storied Hell's Kitchen neighborhood for St Patrick's Day.



Dan Corson also works with similar themes of art in landscape but takes them in a different direction by adding media to blend light into place. His background is in theater as well as fine art. So, the work reflects that. Artwork that comes into its own after dark is often quite unexceptional during the day. To make these works successful as the time changes, the artist really has to focus on creating a sculpture which can hold its own an artwork first. The addition of the off-hour interactive light show adds another layer of complexity to these works. Sometimes light weaves over the landscapes as people move through them. We often look at public art that is commissioned by city entities is placed in public thoroughfares. We welcomed the opportunity to look at works that are a little more off the beaten track.

Nordheim Court is a student housing complex at the University of Washington. Architecturally, the LEED rated project won both local and national awards. At the focal point is Antannae Reeds located in the central plaza, a collection of poles that light up at night. It's always wonderful to find works of art commissioned by developers that are part of prizewinning projects.

Safety Spires with Norie Sato wraps 200 acrylic poles in Seattle's Transit Maintenance Yard in black and green safety paint. The artwork was inspired by a prehistoric plant indigenous to this region – commonly known as the horsetail or Scouring Rush. The patterning, along with allusions to bamboo and spring growth seemed evocative of the renewal, maintenance and caring for the system taking place at the facility. Another work for a new light rail station near Portland, takes its cues from the site's history of hosting the Multnomah County Fair and its large amusement rides. The translucent tips of Rockwood Sunrise light up when the trans approach and leave the station. Luminous Reeds located in the prow of the Cavellero Mid High School marks the transition as high school does between child and adult. The project utilizes florescent acrylic rods, illuminated in the daytime by the natural UV in the light and at night by blacklights to mark the transition between water and earth in local reedy wetlands.

Antannae Reeds (2003) Photo © Dan Corson
Seattle, WA, Encore Architects

Rockwood Sunrise (2011) Gresham, OR
TriMet Public Art Program Photo © Dan Corson

Safety Spires (2006) Seattle, WA, Photo © Dan Corson
with Norie Sato, STart - Sound Transit Art Program

Luminous Reeds (2010) Lake Stevens, WA
Photo © Dan Corson, Washington State Arts Collection


Originally begun under the auspices of the world's largest producers of aggregates for concrete, the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction was created in 2003 to raise awareness of athe important role that architecture, engineering, urban planning and construction have in achieving a more sustainable future – and to globally encourage critical interdisciplinary and long-range perspectives. It led to the formation of the Awards Program which is supplemented by a series of conferences and publications. Run biennially with an internationally distinguished jury, the Foundation honors ground breaking projects located in all continents throughout the globe. The range is astonishing. To date, 20 of the winning buildings have been constructed. We are thrilled to feature them on our site (and app) and only hope that iPhone service extends to the quite remote locations of some of these interesting buildings.

Some of the more accessible winners include Renzo Piano's California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco which is LEED Platinum and has an amazing sculpted green roof. Julie Snow completed a border crossing in MaineUS Land Port of Entry as part of the GSA's Design Excellence Program. Rosa Notte is a rest station in the alps which was designed and built by architecture students at the ETH in Zurich. Their program gives students some experience constructing their designs. Metropol Parasol in Seville is a 'tent' that covers the central plaza allowing many public gatherings in the hot climate.

Neue Monte Rosa Hutte (2009) Zermatt, Switzerland
Studio Monte Rosa, DARCH, ETH Zurich Photo © Holcim

California Academy of Sciences (2008) San Francisco, CA
Renzo Piano Workshop + Stantec Photo © Tim Griffith

Metropol Parasol (2011) Seville, Spain
Jurgen Mayer H Architekten Photo © Holcim Foundation

US Land Port of Entry (2013) Van Buren, ME
Snow Kreilich Architects Photo © Holcim Foundation


In 2011 Joel Sanders published a book with Diana Balmori, Groundwork, Between Landscape and Architecture which explores the interdisciplinary trend of architects and landscape architects who blur the traditional distinction between building and site highlighting 25 iconic projects. There are many aspects of sustainable construction which are not particularly photogenic such as the use of recycled materials, better insulation or even building orientation. Green roofs are more quickly comprehensible in an image. Two of his highlighted projects feature them. The roofs are emblematic of his approach to sensitively siting buildings so that they become more environmental solutions while incorporating cultural history into the works.

The Seongbukdong Residences consists of 12 staggered L-shaped units situated on a sloping hillside in Seoul. It utilizes the concept of the borrowed view and reinterprets traditional Korean houses in a modern vocabulary. The Woodstock Library Annex currently under construction is located on a sensitive wetlands site. The building design includes remediation features, sustainable materials and energy systems as well as paying homage to the cultural context of Woodstock.

Another theme of Joel Sanders work is digital media. The balcony screen Bobst Library Pixel Veil is a response to an unfortunate problem that NYU faced with their library atrium which became a magnet for psychologically fragile students. The resulting metal screen creates a secure yet visually porous membrane that is aesthetically compatible with the atrium designed by Philip Johnson in 1968. It consists of laser-cut aluminum panels and vertical supports painted to match the existing bronze handrail. The Pixel Matrix builds on the affinity between the original building and the language of digital information - both rely on the logic of the square matrix. It references the building’s underlying square grid that Johnson expressed in the square coffered ceiling and concentric square reading lights, as well as the language of digital information that encrypts data through bar codes composed of square modules.


Seongbukdong Residences (2009) Seoul, Korea
Joel Sanders + Haeahn Architecture, Photo © ChaiSoo Ok

Woodstock Library Annex (2015) Woodstock, NY
Joel Sanders Architect + Thomas Balsley Landscape

Elmer Holmes Bobst Library Pixel Veil (2013) New York, NY
Joel Sanders, Photo © Peter Aaron / ESTO

Inchon Rex (2014) Seoul, Korea
Joel Sanders + Haeahn Architecture
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