A Poignant Memorial to Covid-19 Victims, and Other News

Our daily look at the world through the lens of design.

“In America: Remember” by Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg in Washington, DC. Photography by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

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At the National Mall, an artist is planting white flags to visualize the Covid-19 death toll.

More than 660,000 small white flags have been planted on 20 acres surrounding the National Mall in Washington, DC, to help visualize the immense death toll from Covid-19. The monumental project, undertaken by the Maryland-based artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg, is reportedly the largest participatory art installation on the Mall since the AIDS Quilt. The flags are arranged in 60-by-60-foot squares that create nearly four miles of paths within the busy stretch, which is often crowded by tourists. “I wanted to have enough pathways where people could wander the paths privately for their own quiet reflection,” says Firstenberg, who will continue adding flags as more people succumb to the virus. 

The Met will deaccession $1.4 million worth of art to make up for pandemic losses.

Facing up to $150 million in pandemic-induced economic fallout, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will deaccession more than 200 prints and photographs from its collection starting this month. Sales of the artworks, which include pieces by Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, and Frank Stella, are expected to fetch up to $1.4 million when they hit the auction block at Christie’s. The museum’s deaccessioning spree comes at a time when restrictions on museums have been temporarily eased; previously, museums were only permitted to use funds acquired from deaccessioning for future acquisitions. 

The Star in Los Angeles. Image courtesy MAD Architects

MAD Architects unveils a biomorphic egg-shape office tower in the heart of Hollywood.

MAD Architects may have only recently completed its first project in Los Angeles, but now they’re returning with even bigger ambitions. The firm led by Ma Yansong has unveiled the Star, a biomorphic office tower in Hollywood marked by an egg-shaped structure and tree-filled gardens and terraces across 22 floors. Nodding to the nearby Griffith Observatory, Capitol Records Building, the Hollywood Bowl, and the Cinerama Dome, the flora-filled Star sports a curvilinear build slated to leave a mark on the L.A. skyline when the building is scheduled for completion in 2026.

The AIA is advocating to prevent political influence on the design of federal buildings. 

When former president Donald Trump introduced legislation that mandated a preference for traditional design styles for federal buildings, members of the American Institute of Architects sent more than 11,400 letters to condemn the bill. Now, the organization is advocating for legislation reintroduced in congress that will prevent future administrations and the federal government from mandating such preferred design styles. The Democracy in Design Act will “ensure that design input for federal buildings flows from local communities and artists to the government, not the other way around,” according to Rep. Dina Titus (D–NV). 

Japan National Stadium by Kengo Kuma & Associates

Kengo Kuma is the sole architect named in Time’s list of 100 most influential people.

The Time 100, a hotly anticipated annual list of the year’s most important people, often includes one single architect. This year’s honor goes to Kengo Kuma, the Tokyo-based architect and educator who devised the Japan National Stadium that hosted the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. In his mini-profile, Shiga Museum of Art director Kenjiro Hosaka wrote that Kuma “champions an ideal of ‘losing architecture’—intricate buildings that disappear into their environs—although it’s hard to miss the new National Stadium in Japan when walking through the heart of Tokyo. Such public projects—which require architects to accept certain conditions and demands, and limit their freedom of expression—can nonetheless gain natural sympathy and create a welcome new space for communities.” 

The Kitchen, a New York City arts nonprofit, is raising money to help fund a renovation.

The Kitchen has kicked off a five-year, $28 million capital campaign to help raise funds for the renovation of its home in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. The arts nonprofit, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, supports artists across numerous disciplines and has helped foster the city’s experimental performance and music scenes since its inception. The restoration will be overseen by Rice+Lipka Architects and will yield an accessible lobby, more studio space for artist residencies, more galleries, a rooftop, and rentable space.

Refik Anadol’s NFT for Sotheby’s

Today’s attractive distractions:

Making strides towards trans visibility, Unicode releases a new pregnant man emoji.

NADA is opening a booth-sized experimental project space in Chinatown, Manhattan. 

Refik Anadol unveils first-of-its-kind AI artwork NFTs to be auctioned at Sotheby’s.

Modsy imagines the most memorable Met Gala looks as less memorable interiors.

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