Inside Open Architecture’s Boulder-Like Chapel of Sound, and Other News

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Chapel of Sound by Open Architecture. Photography by Jonathan Leijonhufvud

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Inside Open Architecture’s Boulder-Like Chapel of Sound, and Other News

Li Hu and Huang Wenjing, partners in life and the Beijing design firm Open Architecture, love to play, and the buildings that come out of their 14-year-old office are both exuberant and experimental. A case in point is the Dune Art Museum, a network of nine cave-like concrete galleries carved into sand dunes in a sprawling resort on China’s Bohai Bay. Designed as an outpost for the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, the museum is a place where cutting-edge work that might otherwise suffer from the physical and political constraints of the capital can be freely displayed. 

The duo is continuing that communal notion of building with, and within, the land with their Chapel of Sound, nestled in a valley near the Great Wall. The semi-outdoor amphitheater, which recently opened following pandemic delays, is made from an  asymmetrical series of rock and concrete layers that resemble “a strange and prehistoric boulder,” to use their phrasing. Its rough forms and roof openings amplify acoustics while harmonizing with nature. “We were very aware of the responsibility we had to contribute a thoughtful structure that fits naturally into such a unique landscape,” they said in a statement. “The symphony of nature is what we really wanted people to experience here.”

“Reds and Whites,” a solo exhbition by Larry Bell that will open at North Carolina State University in 2023

Larry Bell Is Preparing His Most Ambitious Show Yet

If you missed Larry Bell’s recent presentation through Anthony Meier Fine Arts at the Art Dealers Association of America’s recently wrapped Art Show, there are still two chances to experience the renowned Light and Space artist’s spellbinding glass work in the near future: a major solo exhibition in February at Dia: Beacon, and “Reds and Whites,” his largest outdoor commission to date that opens at North Carolina State University the following spring. The latter may very well be a pinnacle in Bell’s illustrious career—no small statement for an artist who has masterfully harnessed and manipulated the hidden qualities of glass for six decades. 

Situated on a 40-foot square plot, the four-part series explodes the traditional cube form and breaks it into component parts of right-angle corners in an ever-increasing complexity of color and form. Bell manipulates the material to assume varying degrees of color, reflection, transparency, and opacity, allowing the viewer’s image to appear and multiply as their surroundings are activated by the glass shards. “Although we tend to think of glass as a window,” Bell says, “it’s a solid-liquid that has at once three distinctive qualities: it reflects light, it absorbs light, and it transmits light all at the same time.“

Kelly Wearstler and Flamingo Estate founder Richard Christiansen with their California Modernist gingerbread house. Photography by Photography by Christian Hogstedt

Kelly Wearstler designs a California-style gingerbread house for Flamingo Estate.

Sporting a California Modern style, the sculptural confection is the result of a collaboration between Balthazar’s pastry chef Mark Tasker, Wearstler, and her longtime friend and founder of Flamingo Estate, Richard Christiansen. Proceeds from the sale of the 100 limited-edition houses will benefit the sustainable housing charity Structure, which helps rebuild communities after natural disasters. “After the year we’ve all had, it’s time for new traditions. We loved the idea of taking something iconic, and classic—then giving it a California spin,” Christiansen says. “Kelly’s the reigning queen of the design world in Los Angeles. She’s the only person I wanted to collaborate with because I knew she would create something iconic, and bold. Let’s build a type of gingerbread house we would actually like to live in.”   

Frank Gehry’s undulating tower in Lower Manhattan hits the market for $850 million.

8 Spruce Street, the undulating tower designed by Frank Gehry, has weathered its share of ups and downs. The 76-story high-rise, which started construction right when the Great Recession hit in 2008, almost didn’t come to fruition. The building similarly struggled during the pandemic as renters fled Manhattan, leaving nearly one quarter of its 900 units vacant, though occupancy has since returned to normal. Now, the eye-catching building has hit the market, and its owners are seeking north of $850 million. Investors are viewing the sale as somewhat of a litmus test for the health of New York’s multifamily rental market. 

Roxane Gay will become the next board president of Performance Space New York. 

Most boards at art institutions are led by collectors and philanthropists, but Performance Space New York is breaking the mold by naming author Roxane Gay as its next board president. A noted art collector who owns works by Mickalene Thomas, Julie Mehretu, and Jenny Holzer, the best-selling author intends to “continue supporting great experimental art” and will make sure the alternative space continues to foster a diversity of aesthetics. “[Roxane’s] opinions are realistic and they’re sound,” Jenny Schlenzka, executive artistic director of Performance Space, said in a statement. “She wants a more equitable and accessible culture and sees how we can be a part of creating this culture.”

Atlanta Central Library reimagined by Cooper Carry. Photography by Jonathan Hillyer

Cooper Carry reveals an expansive refresh of Marcel Breuer’s Atlanta Central Library.

After an uproar from preservationists scuttled plans to demolish modernist architect and furniture designer Marcel Breuer’s brutalist Atlanta Central Library, a revised plan to modernize the existing structure was put in place. Now, local firm Cooper Carry’s thoughtful revision of the 272,000-square-foot concrete monolith has reopened to the public.

“Our relationship with libraries has evolved over time as the digital revolution has dramatically changed the information gathering process,” Tim Fish, principal in Cooper Carry’s Higher Education Studio, said in a statement. “What was once a place to flip open a book and browse the latest newspapers has now become a center for creativity and advanced technology, and, more importantly, a gathering spot for the community. Our renovation sought to embrace the unique aspects of the original design, while adding updates that make the library a more welcoming place to explore, learn and linger a while.”

Justin Bieber’s lawyers sue an artist impersonating him to sell $100,000 paintings. 

Brian Whiteley, the artist and founder of the Satellite Art Show, has a new alter ego: Justin Bieber. Over the past few months, Whiteley has been undergoing a complete transformation into the pop star as an experiment to gauge “the power of celebrity and the lure of the mega gallery.” When he announced his inaugural show, “Justin Bieber: Paintings From Space” through the newly established gallery Harry Gablowsian, he immediately saw results.

“You do so many art shows, and you see marginal returns 90 percent of the time,” Whiteley told Artnet News. “Under the guise of a celebrity, it was a thousand percent more—press, collectors, everything.” A series of paintings were recently priced at $100,000 with prints clocking in at $1,000 each. Unfortunately, Bieber’s legal team accused Gablowsian of “direct infringement of our client’s IP rights,” calling the future of the experiment into question. Whiteley seems unfazed: he promptly renamed the project “Justin Bieber Is Suing Me.” 

“Medusa Ballet” by Angel Fitor, which won European Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Today’s attractive distractions:

Angel Fitor captures a stunning image of glowing jellyfish in an erstwhile lagoon.

Pioneer Works unveils a Keith Haring mural that wasn’t on public view for 12 years.

Twitter seems to agree that this off-center abomination is America’s worst fireplace

Astronomers detect fluorine, an element in human teeth, 12 billion light years away.

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