Megawords At The Philadelphia Museum Of Art

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There are big questions surrounding the role of the art museum in the digital age. Maintaining relevance in today’s unending stream of information and entertainment is a challenge for cultural institutions whose programs operate on a larger scale. One strategy museums have found success with is the digitization of the museum-going experience itself: podcast tours and interactive websites globalize an otherwise local show. Another strategy is the construction of a new building or addition built by a big-name architect, attracting civic and international attention. Examples of this abound. The most striking is perhaps the MAXXI in Rome, designed by Zaha Hadid, which had its grand opening without a single piece of art on view.

Read the full article at Architizer here.

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Photos: Constance Mensh.

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The Hidden Houses Of The Philadelphia Navy Yard

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Photo: K. Scott Kreider

During World War II, the waterfront zones of many American cities were mobilized by the American Naval Fleet for shipbuilding.  The demand was high, as were investments in the infrastructure needed to manufacture ships.  After World War II, demand dropped drastically as the Navy shrunk its fleet. These one-time centers of wartime industry floundered, unequipped to accommodate new ship building technologies. What little demand remained was for nuclear-powered vessels, which had to be built far from metropolitan areas due to the risk of accident. Consequently, many cities were left with vacant and unused commercial properties, typically located in otherwise dense urban fabrics.

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Photo: K. Scott Kreider

The prototypical waterfront redevelopment is Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, which experienced major infrastructural investment followed by a quick drop in demand and eventual abandonment. Baltimore’s story is notable, because the city was the very first to institute a waterfront redevelopment plan, starting in 1959. Fifty years later, the redevelopment of Baltimore’s waterfront is still the standard for successful revitalization of abandoned commercial water front areas. Throughout the United States and Europe, blighted post-industrial urban neighborhoods are being eyed with new interest by developers and politicians. A cornerstone of Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s mayorship, for example, was the institution of Vision 2020, a plan to revitalize 500 miles of New York City waterfront. Yet urban redevelopment is a complicated business, and behind each politician’s “vision plan,” there’s a more complicated narrative about the socio-economic development of a city.

Read the full article at Architizer here.

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Photo: K. Scott Kreider.

Santa’s Workshop And The Contemporary Workspace

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“Santa’s Workshop,” by Wilfred Jackson, 1932.

Is anyone more productive than Santa Claus and his elves? Mythically located at the North Pole, surrounded by fields of ice, the team magically fills handwritten orders, always hitting their deadline of Christmas Day. No one has actually seen inside this mysterious, miraculously industrious factory, but through secondhand accounts it is possible to piece together an idea of the ethos driving this workspace. Remarkably, Santa’s workshop reflects the concerns of contemporary industry: creating fun, open work environments that foster employee satisfaction and productivity all through collaboration.

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“Santa’s Workshop,” by Wilfred Jackson, 1932.

Christmas is a time for fun and conversation. Bringing off a successful celebration takes collaboration. The same can be said about the best contemporary work environments and Santa’s Workshop. When you’re opening up the presents around the tree, remember it takes a large team of happy helpers in an open plan work environment to make that moment happen.

Read the complete article at Architizer here.

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“Santa’s Workshop,” by Wilfred Jackson, 1932.

The Radical Humanity Of Zoe Strauss

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Photos: K. Scott Kreider

America is struggling through the second worst recession in its history. The first — the Great Depression — brought with it now-iconic images of breadlines, the dustbowl, the Hoover Dam, and the working poor of America. Integral to the visual history of the Great Depression are the photographs of Walker Evans, who documented the rural poor for the Farm Security Administration. Evans’ photographs, published in “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men,” have become iconic images relating to the first Great Depression.

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Photos: K. Scott Kreider

Philadelphia photographer Zoe Strauss cites Evans as one of her heroes and inspirations. Strauss’ mid-career retrospective is ongoing now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and provides a look at her ten-year photograph project, entitled “95.” Though “95” is expansive, Strauss’ primary subject matter is the working class, focusing on populations that are either forgotten by the general public, or offered meaningless platitudes by politicians. As part of the retrospective, the Museum has partnered with Clear Channel to place more than fifty billboards of Strauss’ photographs throughout Philadelphia.

Read the entire article at The Atlantic Cities here.

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Photos: K. Scott Kreider