New Work: Urban Green Council


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Since its founding in 1993, the U.S. Green Building Council has established itself as the nation’s leading advocate for sustainability in the built environment, most prominently as the developer of the now-ubiquitous LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards. As the group’s largest chapter, the U.S. Green Building Council New York Chapter has enjoyed considerable influence not only in metropolitan New York, but as a model for sustainability in cities around the world. But despite its considerable success, the chapter suffered an identity crisis, being frequently confused with the national organization and saddled with a ponderous, unpronounceable eight-letter acronym.

New Work: Vertical Zoo

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The word “zoo” was first coined in the 19th century, but the concept of a man-made landscape of fauna is as old as human domination of the earth. The ancient Greeks had menageries, as did the Chinese and Roman empires, but the first historical reference to a “vertical zoo” might have been the medieval one in the Tower of London. Today 80 percent of the world’s zoos are located in cities, and a vertical zoo seems as inevitable as a vertical farm. A new competition in Buenos Aires, Argentina asked architects to design a vertical zoo for a location in a natural reserve on the city’s riverfront. Organized by Arquitectum and TodoObras magazine, the brief was to design a structure that would become a new urban landmark, one that would accentuate a growing area of the city and at the same time complement the natural character of the reserve. James Biber has designed a vertical zoo that is an urban take on Charles Darwin’s evolutionary tree of life, a phylogenic arrangement of species in vertical formation.

New Work: ‘The Making of Fantastic Mr. Fox’

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Angus Hyland was commissioned by Jacob Lehman at Rizzoli to design the book to accompany “Fantastic Mr Fox,” the latest film by Wes Anderson. The film is based on Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel, originally illustrated by Donald Chaffin. The book chronicles the making of the film adaptation, which uses stop-motion animation and features the voices of George Clooney as Mr. Fox, Meryl Streep as Mrs. Fox and Bill Murray as Badger.

New Work: ‘Geoffrey Beene: Trapeze’

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In his 40-year career, the pioneering fashion designer Geoffrey Beene developed a stunning body of work that combined structural and formal innovation with a uniquely American sense of play. Designed by Abbott Miller, Geoffrey Beene: Trapeze is a new exhibition at the Phoenix Museum of Art that presents the designer’s groundbreaking work in a display of over 30 garments from the private collection of Patsy Tarr, who was one of his most avid collectors and champions. Tarr is also Miller’s longtime collaborator on the performing arts journal 2wice, which she publishes. Completing the circle, Miller himself worked closely with Beene over the course of a twelve-year friendship.

Their collaborations included a major retrospective, a monograph of his work and a tribute published by 2wice after his death. For several years Miller also designed publications, graphics and environments for Mr. Beene’s seasonal presentations, which were part exhibition and part theater. The Phoenix exhibition remains on view through March 7, 2010.

A look at Trapeze after the jump.

New Work: The Cooper Union

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This fall the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art opened its new academic building on its Cooper Square campus in New York’s East Village. Designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne of Morphosis, the building has quickly become one of the city’s new landmarks. Abbott Miller has designed a unique program of signage and environmental graphics for the building that is fully integrated with the building’s dynamic architecture.

Miller is a Cooper alumnus—this year he received the school’s prestigious Augustus Saint-Gaudens Award—and he knew the campus well. The new academic building, located at 41 Cooper Square, sits directly across Third Avenue from the Cooper Union’s original 1859 building, called the Foundation building. Like Mayne’s architectural design, Miller’s graphics for the new building establish a dialogue with the older structure.

New MAD Store Pops Up for the Holidays

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Get set for MAD shopping this holiday season at the Museum of Arts and Design’s new Pop-Up Store on New York’s Upper East Side. The shop, located at Kate’s Paperie at 1282 Third Avenue and 74th Street, celebrates its opening with a store warming this weekend and will be poppin’ through the holidays until January 15, 2010.

We designed an identity for the store using the MAD Face we created for the museum identity. This identity features on several groovy gifts, and the shop also offers apparel, books and unique products made by artists and designers. The 1200 sq ft space includes a window installation by Mia Pearlman, one of the artists featured in the museum’s current exhibition, Slash: Paper Under the Knife.

New Work: ‘Last Folio’

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Daniel Weil has designed an exhibition entitled Last Folio, which runs from 10 – 27 November 2009 in the Lower Library at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.

Last Folio is a set of portraits taken since March 2006 of decaying books, pictures of wisdom turning to dust. Photographer Yuri Dojc found these poignant symbols by chance in an abandoned Cheder in Bardejov in the east of Slovakia, where time has stood still since the day in 1943 when all those attending the school were taken away to concentration camps. The schoolbooks are still there: essay notebooks with corrections, school reports, and remarkably enough, a book once owned by Yuri’s grandfather, Jakub. The books still tell a story, despite every page disintegrating as it is touched. But the story is of neglect and destruction, and Dojc treats each book as a survivor, every one captured as a portrait.

The challenge for Weil was to design an exhibition specific to this most appropriate of venues, a library. This part of the project highlights the contrast of destinies between these books and those housed in the College Library. He has created a series of virtual spaces which replicate bookcases in which each image is housed. The structure of these “ghost” cases is deliberately modest and vulnerable, contrasting with the venerable setting. Each has a translucent mesh behind it allowing the viewer to see through the image to the robust and grand cases behind, thus heightening the contrast. At the far end of the library is a massive image of the abandoned synagogue in Kosice.

This exhibition is one element of an extensive project on the extinguishing of Jewish life in Slovakia. A documentary film has been made by Yuri Dojc and filmmaker Katya Krausova. It follows the journey of the photographer through Slovakia and aims to preserve Holocaust memory through filmed survivor testimonies and photographic documentation of places and fragments including the schoolbooks.

New Work: ‘Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future’

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The great Finnish-born architect Eero Saarinen designed several of the iconic works of Modernist architecture in the United States: the TWA Terminal at JFK Airport, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, CBS’ “Black Rock” headquarters in New York. Amazingly, there has been no major retrospective of his work since his death in 1961. Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future is a landmark traveling exhibition organized by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, the Museum of Finnish Architecture, the National Building Museum and the Yale School of Architecture that looks at his work and legacy. First shown at the Kunsthalle Helsinki in 2006, the exhibition has now arrived at the Museum of the City of New York, where it opens this week.

Michael Bierut and his team designed the graphics and catalogue for the exhibition in 2006, when it opened in Helsinki, as well as for its current show at MCNY. The designers created a "kit of parts”—typography, colors, graphic motifs—that could be used to create a consistent look at all the venues and across all communications. The catalogue was included in the AIGA's 50 Books/50 Covers of 2006.

Following its Helsinki run, the exhibition traveled to the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo, Norway; CIVA in Brussels, Belgium; and the Cranbrook Art Museum, the National Building Museum, the Walker Art Center and Washington University in the US. Next spring it moves on to its final stop at the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale School of Architecture.

New Work: ‘Speak, Memory’

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Faced with the task of designing 21 new covers for the works of Vladimir Nabokov, art director John Gall decided to ask 20 other designers for help. To create a series look—and to pay homage to Nabokov’s passion for butterfly collecting—he sent each of the participating designers a collector’s specimen box to serve as the centerpiece of the cover.

Michael Bierut was assigned one of his favorites, Nabokov’s 1951 memoir Speak, Memory. His solution began with by filling the box with old photographs under vellum, but an accidental test shot by designer Katie Barcelona that left out the photographs altogether was deemed more evocative.

The whole series, timed to the publication of Nabokov’s last work, The Original of Laura, with cover design by Chip Kidd, can be seen here.