Acclaimed architecture firm Portland, Oregon-based Allied Works celebrates their new and first book Allied Works Architecture | Brad Cloepfil: Occupation (out May 1st) at Ace Hotel New York tonight for ExPac, our monthly night devoted to Pacific Northwest expatriates and their friends. Mr. Cloepfil will speak about the book, its genesis and the philosophies that guide the ground-breaking work Allied Works is known for.

Occupation articulates the principles of their work through conversations with other makers – artists, fabricators and designers. It seeks to universalize and contextualize the ideas that give way to the making of buildings by sharing those connections that first inspired them – a community of ideas that Mr. Cloepfil happens to manifest in buildings. They worked with landscape photographer Victoria Sambunaris to shoot the places in which Allied Works buildings now live, but without the buildings – the genesis of the structures. Mr. Cloepfil says about the book that “a key factor in the concept is that it’s not about fancy buildings as objects; it’s a counterpoint to the consumer culture of architecture which has become more about collecting images and names and not about doing work that has a sense of place. It’s just consumerism. In the last 10 to 15 years there has been an elevation of designer culture but it’s only elevated the consumption of design rather than enriching the conversation of design, the sense of awe, the humbling experience that you encounter with a place, a building – introspection. Architecture can convey that and move you in a way that nothing else can.”

To further explore the book’s ideas, we’ve also invited Allied Works to create an installation in the gallery space. Forest from the Trees is a spatial sketch exploring point of view, reference and memory. An attempt to dis- and re-orient the experience of a specific room – obliterating boundaries with a displaced and idealized archetype from the Pacific Northwest. The exhibition will be up through April 28, so have a look when you stop by Tuesday evening.

RSVP to ExPac at – music by J. Escobeda MD and special guests to follow in Liberty Hall.

2 Columbus Circle

Completed: 1964 (original) 2008 (renovation)

Height: 130 meters (420 feet)

Architects: Edward Durell Stone & Associates (original) Brad Cloepfil, Allied Works Architecture (redesign)

By Beyond My Ken (Own work)CC BY-SA via Wikimedia Commons

For some reason, 2 Columbus Circle reminds me of Andy Warhol. To my knowledge he had nothing to do with the design, conception, or anything else;he may very well have attended the Gallery of Modern Art housed there, as the opening especially was fairly celebratory, but I don’t know of him ever having shown there. In fact, I doubt the Gallery’s founder, George Huntington Hartford, who owned a huge collection of Monets and Turners and guys like that and hated abstract art, would have much cared for Warhol. Nor do I particularly think either the old or new design are evocative of his work at all.

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Allied Works Architecture has put out the first real glimpse of PNCA’s new Schnitzer Center for Art and Design. I’m somewhat disappointed the exterior of the building isn’t receiving a dramatic rework. Perhaps it is somewhat cliché to want a show-stopping monument, but since PNCA is my alma mater, having it serve as a symbolic monument might make my expensive private art school education seem more worthwhile. Surely, I jest.

However, I suppose it is nice to see them respecting the historic feel of the building’s exterior, and if you have seen Allied Works’ design of the Weiden & Kennedy space, then you know they can do something quite beautiful with the interior of an old building. Congrats to PNCA. And congrats to Allied Works who will no doubt have another great addition to their portfolio.

Also worth noting is PNCA’s new dorm which is along the Park Blocks as well.

How to Have Taste

I interviewed architect Brad Cloepfil, who told me how to have taste, for The One-Page Magazine in this week’s New York Times Magazine:

To build beautiful things, someone has to have a good eye. It’s this bespoke idea: There are people who really love to have a beautiful suit made for them and engage in choosing the fabric and every little detail. Or people who just say, “I want a Lanvin suit,” because it’s Lanvin — which there’s nothing wrong with; I have one of those. 

Click here to see the page.

Architecture's slap in Charleston's face

Architecture’s slap in Charleston’s face

Clemson University’s proposed school of architecture in Charleston.

Last week, Charleston, S.C., gave Clemson University the city’s official blessing to poke a stick in its own eye.

Unless blocked in court, a school of architecture, modernist in design, will be built amidst the city’s historic district. In the face of the entire community’s revulsion, expressed over a period of years, the board…

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Clyfford Still Museum

I was in Denver this past weekend seeing some clients and over-celebrating the Super Bowl but managed to squeeze in a visit to the new Clyfford Still Museum.  I have always been a fan of Still’s work and was excited to see and experience this space completely dedicated to him.  The building itself, designed by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture, is composed of austere materials (concrete, steel and wood) used in innovative and exciting ways that create a subtle but dynamic backdrop for the art. 

I love the raw, ripple effect on the concrete walls in the entry area (please note the fabulous moustache on the artist working the front desk, Dmitri Obergfell): The stairs to the upper level galleries continue this ribbon rhythm: The ceilings and a number of the gallery walls showcase another concrete style.  Mr. Cloepfil has specified that the concrete be installed to look like wood slats.  I have never seen this before and found it extremely cool: A big challenge for anyone designing a museum is how to get natural light into the space without damaging the work.  I love the resolution here with a concrete tracery ceiling.  Great looking and fuctional - my favorite combination: Oh yeah, and then there is the art: I love the massive scale of most of his paintings and the discovery of color as you move in closer and closer: I am also a big fan of his fearless palette and his loose, emotional painting style.  My biggest discovery on this trip were his later pieces painted on raw canvas.  I love how the colors and brushstrokes work with the humble, simple material:

One of the most exciting things about this museum is the amount of work they have.  According to the press materials, “Still’s will stipulated that his estate be given in its entirety to an American city willing to establish a permanent museum dedicated solely to his work, ensuring its survival for exhibition and study.”  The curatorial staff will be rotating work regularly so each visit will provide new discoveries.  I can’t wait to go back.  Enjoy!

Michael Staniak Artist Paintings Brad Cloepfil principal architect of Allied Works Architecture Contemporary Art Museum Camstl Cam St. Louis

What are you trying to hide?

What are you trying to hide?

The School of Architecture building proposed by Clemson for Charleston’s historic district.

I spent much of yesterday and today trying to get permission from an architect to run an image of his work. Easy-peasy, right? Well, today, having stretched my deadline, I got a “no” from Allied Works Architecture, of Portland, Ore., and New York City, whose principal, Brad Cloepfil, designed the…

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Michael Staniak Artist Paintings Brad Cloepfil principal architect of Allied Works Architecture Contemporary Art Museum Camstl Cam St. Louis

Michael Staniak Artist Paintings Brad Cloepfil principal architect of Allied Works Architecture Contemporary Art Museum Camstl Cam St. Louis

Michael Staniak Artist Paintings Brad Cloepfil principal architect of Allied Works Architecture Contemporary Art Museum Camstl Cam St. Louis