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Found 12 results

  1. Fonvizinskaya Station, designed by Nikolai Shumakov and built in 2016. Alexey Narodizkiy/Blue Crow Media Understanding the Architecture of the Moscow Metro Generations of Russian leaders have imposed their visions on the city's vast subway network. The vast Moscow Metro, one of the largest and busiest subway systems in the world, is in the middle of a rapid expansion: Between 2015 and 2020, the system is adding dozens of stations. For the historians of the 83-year-old transit network, it’s a lot to keep track of. Thankfully, Nikolai Vassiliev has it covered. The recently released Moscow Metro Architecture & Design Map (Blue Crow Media) is curated by Vassiliev, an architecture historian; it provides descriptions and photos of a little more than 40 of the system’s most architecturally notable stations. The history of Moscow’s Metro is layered with political and architectural meaning, as succeeding generations impose their own visions on the system; the ornate stations of the Stalin era have more recently given way to more utilitarian facilities. To find out more about how the Moscow Metro gets designed, and where the system’s new stations will fit into this story, CityLab asked Vassiliev a few questions via email; our interview has been condensed and edited. For much of the world, Moscow’s Metro conjures up images of very palatial, neoclassical stations. What percentage of the system actually looks like that? The first order of construction was primarily designed in a Soviet version of Art Deco, with some remains of avant-garde forms. Parts of the second and third orders, which opened in 1938 and 1943, are like this as well. Stations built from that point until the end of the 1950s can be described as Neoclassical with Empire-style motifs , usually for post-war projects treated as war memorials. These make up a little less than a quarter of the total stations in the system, but they are the most visited ones in the center and main line interchanges. Only 44 of total 214 stations are listed as historical monuments, including a few from the ‘50s and nothing since. Aviamotornaya Station, designed by A.Strelkovatal and built in 1969. (Alexey Narodizkiy/Blue Crow Media) Politically, who’s in the room when it’s decided where Metro is going to expand and what it will look like? Throughout Metro’s history that has always been a complicated process, with very high-level authorities involved. In the middle of the 1930s, roughly a quarter of the city’s budget was spent on Metro construction needs. One of Stalin’s closest fellows, Lazar Kaganovich—who was Moscow head at this time, as well as Party Secretary—curated Metro construction in its advent. After receiving a promotion as People’s Commissar for Transport, he was succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev, who had previously served as First Secretary of the Moscow Regional Committee. Since the 1960s, Metro construction has been nearly as important for the economy and for transit planning, but it’s not nearly as ideological. Decisions are made in the Moscow City Department of Urban Planning and Architecture. Some technical questions, like integration with other transit systems, are done through the Department of Transport. Each period of the system’s growth seems to be attributed to whoever was running the country at the time. So what are the defining design features of a Putin-era Metro station? We can’t organize Metro’s post-Soviet architecture so simply. From 1992 to 2010, it was all “Luzhkov Style”—named after longtime mayor Yuri Luzhkov. These stations were late-Postmodern and rather silly. The current mayor Sergei Sobyanin and Metro director Dmitry Gayev envision a more pragmatic style focused on improving transit efficiency and making construction profitable for their affiliated contractors. The stations that have opened in the last year or two and the ones opening later this year are built in the traditional paradigm, mostly by Metrogiprotrans Institute. But a new approach contains two main aspects: to spend less on architecture and invite more young architects via competitions. They cut costs and add to the positive public image of a new urban policy by doing this, but they lose out on the expertise of older architecture and engineering professionals. Contrary to the Sochi Olympics and World Cup, this architecture has no significant political meaning, except to present a general approach to funding public infrastructure and to “calm down” Moscow’s opposition electorate. It seems impossible to get the generation that is now between 40 and 55 years old to switch to public transportation. The Putin-era style started not when he took office in 2000, but in 2010 and through 2014, with a new Moscow mayor taking office and the construction for the Sochi Olympics. A contemporary style was introduced during this period by State contracts, not private developers. For the most part, these designs are pretty neutral—even boring. But on average they show significantly improved technical quality. How much of the attention to Metro design and planning is for convincing wealthier people to ditch their cars? Personal car usage became such a strong marker of social success in the 1990s and 2000s in Moscow and the city [is known for its]many many Maybachs and Porsches. It seems impossible to get the generation that is now between 40 and 55 years old to switch to public transportation. Who are some of the younger architecture firms behind these new stations? Some of the younger offices that won recent competitions specialize in above-ground projects like shopping malls and apartment towers but I can’t say these works are distinct. The same goes for Russia’s new airports, a few of which were built in time for the World Cup. We’re seeing a slow decline in Soviet-origin institutions and the rise of new architecture firms. What does Metro and its architecture symbolize to the typical Muscovite today, and how has that meaning changed over the years? For today’s typical Metro user, the modern stations prevail as the standard image of the system. But except for few recent ones made with monumental mosaics or clever forms, these stations aren’t perceived as architecture at all. The historical stations, however, still play a very special role in the city’s image, like its Stalin-era skyscrapers and pre-Revolution tenements, churches, and mansions.
  2. 50 years later, St. Louis’ Gateway Arch emerges with a new name and a skeptical view of western expansion The new entrance to the Gateway Arch is connected to Luther Ely Smith Square and includes a cap over I-44. Before the CityArchRiver project, visitors had to cross six lanes of traffic and the sunken interstate highway to reach the Arch from downtown St. Louis. (Gateway Arch Park Foundation) ST. LOUIS — On July 3, one of this country’s most recognizable landmarks will be reintroduced to the world with a new name, a new museum and a substantial redesign of its urban landscape. A half-century after Eero Saarinen’s Gateway Arch was inaugurated in 1968, it has been reconnected to the city of St. Louis, with a sleek underground entrance facing the city, an expanded and redesigned visitor center and museum, a cleaner landscape and an elevated and more elegant waterfront along the Mississippi River. An old parking garage has been removed and a parklike pedestrian platform over Interstate 44 allows visitors from downtown St. Louis to visit the city’s most popular attraction without having to brave traffic lanes. But it is the new name that encapsulates the larger cultural changes to the National Park Service site, which has been give a $380 million renovation and redesign. What was once known as the Jefferson National Expansion Park has been recast as the Gateway Arch National Park. That change simply reflects how people think about the park, says Eric Moraczewski, executive director of Gateway Arch Park Foundation, a nonprofit group that partnered with the National Park Service to raise funds and oversee the renovation. There is no intention to downgrade Jefferson’s importance or the park’s original purpose, which was to memorialize “the men who made possible the western territorial expansion of the United States,” including “the great explorers, Lewis and Clark, and the hardy hunters, trappers, frontiersmen and pioneers,” according to a 1933 statement by a local civic group that championed the idea of building something monumental on the Mississippi waterfront. The name change, however, also reflects two facts that have long bedeviled the arch and its role within the National Park Service. Saarinen’s soaring arc of steel is an icon of the automobile age, an attraction that has always been more about playing to the passing audience of the interstates than any particular relevance to the idea of national expansion. It also honors historical events that are now understood as deeply problematic within the larger trajectory of American history, including the dispossession of Native American land, cultural genocide, the extension of slavery, centuries of conflict and ill will with Mexico, environmental degradation and the emergence of a myth of American exceptionalism. [A national memorial to the victims of lynching opens in Montgomery] The arch, in short, has always been beloved because it binds together two feel-good ideas that are essential to American identity: a heroic past of grit and conquest, and a triumphant future of innovation. Now, well into the 21st century, the challenge is how to disentangle and even dismantle those ideas while salvaging the arch as a cultural object. The solution, mostly effective, has been to think in terms of connection, both to the city which hosts it, and to the deeper currents of history that led to its creation. Standing on the grassy deck which crosses Interstate 44, Moraczewski points to the nearby Hyatt Hotel, where the concierge used to call taxis to ferry people a few hundred feet to the arch grounds before the renovation. “The arch operated as an island,” he says. “Our island was about roads, not water, but people came to the arch and never went into the city.” A view looking west of the new entrance of the Gateway Arch National Park. Before the CityArchRiver project, visitors had to cross six lanes of traffic and the sunken interstate highway to reach the Arch from downtown St. Louis. (Sam Fentress) The connecting park isn’t terribly wide — just shy of the 300-foot width which would have defined the structure as a tunnel, rather than a bridge, requiring costly ventilation and other mandated changes. But it is wide enough to include trees and benches and arcing paths that attract a lunchtime crowd, dog walkers, joggers and tourists from the nearby hotels. It also emphasizes a connection between the arch and the historic courthouse which faces it, the courthouse where Dred Scott pursued his freedom from slavery, and where a Missouri judge decided that allowing an enslaved person to claim freedom because they resided in a free state would lead to the inevitable “overthrow and destruction of our government.” The arch grounds now flow seamlessly into the plaza that fronts the courthouse and lead visitors to the sunken, glass-walled entrance to the museum. Before the design changes, there was nothing to indicate that the arch park had anything in it other than an arch, and visitors encountered the underground museum as a sideshow to the main attraction, which was a ride in the cramped and clanking elevator cars that deliver people to the observation room atop the 630-foot tall structure. Now, visitors are greeted by a semicircular and embracing entrance, from which they descend into the museum via a large, open atrium with a terrazzo map of North America on the mezzanine floor, showing the main migration routes during the era of westward expansion. Giant video screens project images of buffalo running, and wagon trains moving through a backdrop of mountains and open range. These videos set a slightly odd tone — grand and nostalgic — which isn’t sustained in the rest of the museum. The new exhibitions, created by Haley Sharpe Design, are more substantial, extending the story of westward migration back to the colonial days of St. Louis, and grappling with the fundamental questions posed by the historical narrative. In a gallery devoted to Manifest Destiny, wall panels ask not only “How the West Was Won,” but was the west “stolen,” and what of the North — as Mexico understood the same land — and was it “stolen” too? “After the Louisiana Purchase, women lost many rights . . .” reads another wall panel, noting some of the cultural impacts of the purchase of territory inhabited by Native Americans, then claimed by the French, ceded to the Spanish, reclaimed by Napoleon and ultimately transferred to the United States in 1803. “Does staking claim to land justify national ownership?” asks another exhibit, devoted to the exploration of Lewis and Clark. [A museum to the bible is better than skeptics anticipated] Videos allow Native Americans to address these questions in personal ways, and take stock of the dreadful loss of life, land and culture that came with European incursion into the continent. But these voices are compartmentalized in the usual fashion of contemporary museum design, which tends to an a la carte approach to history. If your understanding of the age of westward expansion is all about free-roaming buffalo, covered wagons, steamboats plying the Mississippi and frontier women baking hearty meals, you can find that too. Haley Sharpe Design, which also created the Democracy galleries for the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, adds texture to the story, makes connections (to trade, and the larger economic and cultural context) and avoids conclusions, even when dark conclusions are ineluctable. Wall panels in the museum ask not only “How the West Was Won,” but was the west “stolen?” (Gateway Arch Park Foundation) The museum concludes with the design and construction of the arch itself, which was an urban renewal project that led to the loss of the colonial-era street grid, and hundreds of buildings, many erected in the 19th century. It was an exercise in branding, a scheme cooked during the Depression and sold on a national scale. It took more than 30 years between the inception and the opening of the arch. Saarinen died in 1961, long after he won the 1947 design competition, and well before construction was completed in 1965. The museum notes that the realization of Saarinen’s futuristic vision happened during the tumultuous years of the civil rights movement and that African Americans protested at the arch site for not having equal access to construction jobs on the project. In the intervening years, Jefferson’s stock has fallen, and Saarinen’s has soared. He is a revered figure of modernism, and the arch is probably his best-known and most-loved project. With the Gateway Arch, he not only created an architectural spectacle grand enough to fill the site, but he helped define one of the essential trends of architecture for the past half-century, the dominance of iconic power over function. The whole idea for a park and a monument to westward expansion was bizarre: Why in St. Louis, when other cities could also claim to be the Western gateway? And why an arch, which suggests the pioneers somehow passed through a giant croquet wicket? But Saarinen finessed the problem rather like corporate architects today finesse the problem of housing large, impersonal, often rapacious organizations in buildings that suggests transparency, openness and idealism. He found a gesture that overwhelmed skepticism, both skepticism about the viability of the project, but also the larger historical skepticism that Americans have traditionally found inconvenient and dispiriting. His arch stole the show, which made it possible to avoid the history, except as a passing entertainment. Saarinen understood how essentially American the arch form was, a symbol of triumph and conquest that is hollow at its core.
  3. Lost in noise- new painting

    Hello, I am painter. I would like to introduce you one of my new painting: Lost in noise, 160x180cm, acrylic on canvas, 2017 link to my webpage for more information about my work: www.marekjarotta.sk ArtByte address: AT4iEzKcH5GUEPVmxQMHbPeMK5WchSNF6p
  4. Vibrant Sunset @ Belem Tower, Portugal

    From the album Madan Raj Photography

    Took this picture while walking towards the Belem Tower from Belem Church. At this exact moment sun was peeking through a small hole of this lovely old tree making a lovely image. See in HD: https://500px.com/photo/242249779/fiery-tree-by-madan-rajagopal Follow me: https://www.facebook.com/madanrajphotography/

    © Madan Raj Photography

  5. Visual echo, 180x90cm, acrylic on canvas, 2017
  6. From the album My art

  7. Sitting people, 40x50cm, oil on canvas, 2016
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