Category Archives: Architecture

The Model That Smokes

Hiroshi Sambuichi, Inujima Art Project Seirensho, 2008, wood and acrylic model, incense; 1:50; Courtesy of Hiroshi Sambuichi

A particularly fascinating model on view in White Cube, Green Maze: New Art Landscapes is by Sambuichi Architects of a transformed copper refinery, or seirensho, on the Japanese island of Inujima. The Inujima Art Project Seirensho is a museum dedicated to preserving and reusing the remains of the refinery, as part of the broader Benesse Art Site.

Iwan Baan, Aerial view of Seirensho and the island of Inujima, 2008, digital chromogenic print; Courtesy of Iwan Baan

The refinery features a large chimney that originally served as an industrial smokestack but it has since been repurposed into a chimney that connects to the building’s underground passageways, creating a natural ventilation system. Sambuichi Architects has included two small chambers on the front of the model that are designed to hold lit incense coils, sending smoke throughout the model’s passageways, over a scale figure, and eventually escaping out of the clear acrylic chimney stack.

Lighting the incense coils, which burn for up to 8 hours. We’re using this kind.
Placing the incense chambers into the front of the model.
Incense smoke blows past the scale figure towards the chimney, illustrating the airflow in the repurposed refinery.

White Cube, Green Maze is open through January 13, 2013. Come see this model and over 20 others from six international art sites.

The exhibition presents works by:

Raimund Abraham (New York City); Tadao Ando (Osaka); Arquitetos Associados (Belo Horizonte); Tatiana Bilbao (Mexico City); Rodrigo Cerviño Lopez (São Paulo); Rudolf Finsterwalder (Stephanskirchen); Erwin Heerich (Düsseldorf); HHF architects (Basel); Oliver Kruse (Hombroich); Johnston Marklee (Los Angeles); Ryue Nishizawa (Tokyo); Rizoma Arquitetura (Belo Horizonte); Hiroshi Sambuichi (Hiroshima); Álvaro Siza Vieira (Porto); TOA (Taller de Operaciones Ambientales, Mexico City); Topotek 1 (Berlin); Weiss/Manfredi (New York City)

Hiroshi Sugimoto: Pittsburgh & Elsewhere

If you have the good fortune to visit the southern Japanese island of Naoshima—one of the six sites in our current exhibition at the Heinz Architectural Center, White Cube, Green Maze: New Art Landscapesbe sure to look for several works by the Japanese-born, New York-based artist, Hiroshi Sugimoto. You may already know his work from the cover of the last U2 album, No Line on the Horizon, with its segmented photograph of ocean and sky.

Naoshima time exposed2006-1

Hiroshi Sugimoto, detail of Time Exposed

















In a small village on Naoshima, Sugimoto has restored an Edo-period shrine and inserted a staircase of “optical glass” that descends to an underground stone chamber. It has that special Japanese quality of combining, simultaneously, the traditional and the modern. In common with his photographs, there is a division between an upper and a lower half. Sugimoto has more work at Park, one of several buildings on Naoshima by the great Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Like other Ando interventions, Park functions as a hotel or lodge in which you are surrounded by works of art.

Sugimoto has also installed more than a dozen images of sea and sky outdoors on the island, gelatin silver prints set in sealed acrylic boxes. Titled Time Exposed (1980–97), several of these are placed on exterior concrete walls at Benesse House, an early building by Ando, where they line up to either side of a slot of space that offers a prospect of real sea and sky. Others are found, as if by chance, out in the landscape, on rocks overlooking the sea. I love the sense of discovery when one of these artworks is encountered all by itself in the natural world.


From the 1991 Carnegie International, Hiroshi Sugimoto, detail of Time Exposed, 1991, silver gelatin prints, wall, and water, each photograph 20 x 24 in.; Photo courtesy of the artist

Sugimoto is drawn to the effect of sunlight, moisture and temperature on these photographic works. He seems to be interested in not divorcing or protecting them entirely from nature. It was then a very nice surprise to read that Sugimoto first experimented with situating photographs outdoors here in Pittsburgh when, for the Carnegie International in 1991, he sited twenty-five works out in the museum’s Sculpture Court. Some were even placed inside the fountain, behind the flow of water which was allowed to freeze that winter.


Hiroshi Sugimoto, Irish Sea, Isle of Man (#337), 1990, gelatin silver print in sealed plastic frame; Purchase: gift of Milton Fine

Photographs such as these are typically printed in editions. We checked the list of works on view on Naoshima today against the works acquired by the Carnegie Museum in the early 1990s. There were two matches; that’s to say, two of the photographs in our collection are also in the collection on Naoshima. One of these is Irish Sea, Isle of Man I (#337), a prospect not far from the home of U2’s Bono in Dublin. We decided to include it in the exhibition. You may perhaps imagine yourself halfway around the world, in Ireland or on a distant Japanese island.

Six Visions for Radical Change


In the entryway to White Cube, Green Maze: New Art Landscapes we’ve built a white cube, in fact a double cube, inside which the visitor discovers a kind of graphic green maze. Photo blow-ups are matched with a quotation from a founder figure or key patron for each of the six sites in the exhibition.


These statements—exhortations, even—are intended to greet the visitor and instigate a gentle expedition through the galleries. These visionaries have radically adjusted land that frequently has borne the brunt of industrial processes and are instrumental in the creation of surprising new venues for art.

Here are some contemporary photos of the sites by Iwan Baan (and a historical image of the future site of the Grand Traiano Complex), including the introductory quotes from the exhibition:

The Olympic Sculpture Park (USA)


“The Olympic Sculpture Park transforms the last parcel of downtown waterfront, a brownfield, into a visionary space that embraces the energy of urban Seattle and offers contemplative natural and artistic beauty for all to enjoy.”—Mimi Gardner Gates, former Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director, Seattle Art Museum. The Olympic Sculpture Park was previously the site of an oil storage depot.

Stiftung Insel Hombroich (Germany)


“Hombroich is not only a question of building. It is a question of the architecture of life, a question of structures, and the meaning of all forms of life.”—Karl-Heinrich Müller, Art Collector and Founder, Stiftung Insel Hombroich. The Raketenstation Hombroich was a NATO missile site until the end of the Cold War.

Benesse Art Site Naoshima (Japan)


“To encourage young people to come and see contemporary art on Naoshima, it is important to offer them positive experiences that are not ordinarily available in the city.”—Soichiro Fukutake, Director, Benesse Art Site Naoshima. Naoshima and neighboring islands have been used for heavy industrial purposes including, on Inujima, copper refining.

Instituto Inhotim (Brazil)


“Children can’t learn between four walls. Sometimes museums only want to buy very intellectual pieces of art but people want to see things that spur their curiosity and interact with everything.”—Bernardo Paz, Art Collector and Founder, Instituto Inhotim. The reworking of the site at Inhotim, a former farmstead, was loosely based on proposals by Roberto Burle Marx, Brazil’s greatest landscape architect.

Jardín Botánico de Culiacán (Mexico)


“…visitors to the Botanical Garden will enter the experience of the garden itself with its natural charms, and will have an unexpected contact with contemporary art, which is almost non-existent in Culiácan. This will open their minds and generate interest.”—Agustín Coppel, Art Collector and Patron, Jardín Botánico de Culiacán. Culiácan’s Jardín Botánico is currently being revitalized to incorporate contemporary art and to embrace environmentally sustainable practices.

Grand Traiano Art Complex (Italy)


“Contemporary art is a very engaging, vibrant scene. It’s an important platform for the development of creativity, innovation, so it has a very important social role.”—Pierpaolo Barzan, Founder, Depart Foundation, Grand Traiano Art Complex. The Grand Traiano property, containing a former hotel and several incomplete buildings, will soon be a venue for contemporary art and creative industries.

Architectural Models for White Cube, Green Maze

Model of the Langen Foundation at Raketenstation Hombroich by Tadao Ando Architect & Associates

In August 2011, I began working at Carnegie Museum of Art as the special projects assistant for White Cube, Green Maze: New Art Landscapes, and I have spent the past year working with curator Raymund Ryan to plan the exhibition. I’m a detail-oriented person, and a huge part of my work has been gathering and organizing the information for every object in the exhibition. For the architectural models—a crucial part of the exhibition—that means managing a daunting array of attributes: dimensions, materials, weight, current location, scale, completion date, number of parts, packaging and installation instructions, digital images, etc.

Curator of architecture Raymund Ryan and special projects assistant Emily Rice reviewing exhibition models in the Heinz Architectural Center

Working largely through email, I have been in contact with dozens of architects, artists, curators, and gallerists on four continents. Often it took several attempts to hunt down one missing piece of information. There will be a handful of new objects created specifically for this exhibition, and I followed their progress from initial concepts through digital models and mock-ups to final fabrication.

A model of Rodrigo Cerviño Lopez’s Adriana Varejão Gallery at Instituto Inhotim

Each object in the show was collected from its home in early summer of this year and transported to Pittsburgh via the somewhat mysterious and extremely meticulous network of international fine art shipping companies (a subject deserving its own blog post!). They arrived in crates bearing collections of tags, stencils, warning labels, and barcodes. As teams of art handlers began to unpack the objects, I saw these things that I had come to know with such familiarity for the first time.

Assistant registrar Gabriela DiDonna checking the condition of the Grand Traiano Art Complex Museum Building model by Johnston Marklee

No matter how much research went into a particular object, there are always surprises. Every single model is a thrill. In a few cases, I had only seen a single, low-resolution image of a model; but seeing them in real life, they have a much richer level of detail than I had expected. The model of the Langen Foundation by Tadao Ando is a good example, where the model evokes both the building and the feeling of its site, Raketenstation Hombroich, in a beautifully subtle way. I had seen drawings of the new wall-mounted model of Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park that Weiss/Manfredi created for this exhibition; to see it assembled on the spot was truly impressive.

Olympic Sculpture Park model by Weiss/Manfredi

In most other cases, I’ve received extensive documentation of the works, yet the experience of seeing them in the gallery is still exciting. I had seen photos of Johnston Marklee’s models of the Grand Traiano Art Complex, but situated in the gallery atop custom-designed bases built by the artist Walead Beshty, it’s clear the photos didn’t do them justice. The four models of Ryue Nishizawa’s Teshima Art Museum are simple and minimalist, yet I didn’t expect the set to have so much distinctive personality. You should come see all of these for yourself!

The exhibition opens at 6:30pm on Friday, September 21—I hope to see you there!

Related eventsA Conversation with Iwan BaanLunch & Learn

Related blog posts: See some sample spreads of the White Cube, Green Maze catalogue. Or see photographs by exhibition and catalogue photographer Iwan Baan.

Related websites: Read more about the show and hear curator Raymund Ryan on the Modern Art Notes podcast.

The exhibition presents works by:

Raimund Abraham (New York City); Tadao Ando (Osaka); Arquitetos Associados (Belo Horizonte); Tatiana Bilbao (Mexico City); Rodrigo Cerviño Lopez (São Paulo); Rudolf Finsterwalder (Stephanskirchen); Erwin Heerich (Düsseldorf); HHF architects (Basel); Oliver Kruse (Hombroich); Johnston Marklee (Los Angeles); Ryue Nishizawa (Tokyo); Rizoma Arquitetura (Belo Horizonte); Hiroshi Sambuichi (Hiroshima); Álvaro Siza Vieira (Porto); TOA (Taller de Operaciones Ambientales, Mexico City); Topotek 1 (Berlin); Weiss/Manfredi (New York City)