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    Conceptually In Between

    by Randy Gragg

    Architects and glass artists in Portland, Oregon collaborated in designing and building chandeliers in a 2001 project called Multiplied Light. This year, architectural critic Randy Gragg curated a second experiment: to form glass and steel into architectural screens and to explore what he presents as a fundamental condition of architecture, "betweenness." — Editor

    In a 1955 address delivered to the Vienna Architects' Association entitled "Between Humanism and Materialism," Finnish architect Alvar Aalto urged his colleagues to embrace a "betweenness of opposites." The aspiration, he explained, should be a search for an architectural language that weds nature with mechanization, flexibility with standardization, and tradition with the new.

    A common misconception is that architecture is created by the "maestro" — the brilliant architect and/or the enlightened patron — conducting the contractors and fabricators. In fact, buildings increasingly are created by an enormously complicated social machine.

    Each person, from banker to fabricator, has become a boundary spanner, ever more nomadic but by necessity more geopolitically astute, connecting the widening gap of real space and real time in ways that increasingly defy social hierarchies.

    As we attempt to find our place within the betweenness of what our concepts of architecture, culture, history, and space once were and what they must become, our buildings can only be as innovative as the conversation among the people involved in their creation.   >>>

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    The completed screen by Susan Emmons, part of an exploration in "betweenness" by Portland, Oregon architects and artisans.
    Photo: Michael Schmitt

    ArchWeek Image

    Susan Emmons prepares glass for firing.
    Photo: Michael Schmitt

     

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