Dead Blogging The Annual Druker Lecture At The BPL


The Boston Public Library’s terrific Building Boston “citywide celebration of Boston’s public spaces” (which includes the fascinating Palaces for the People exhibit, reviewed here by the hardlooking staff), notched another success with yesterday’s Druker lecture – Celebrating Art and Design – by Elizabeth Diller.

Elizabeth Diller is a founding principal of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, an interdisciplinary design studio that integrates architecture, the visual arts, and the performing arts. DS+R’s projects include the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Lincoln Center expansion and renovation, the High Line in New York, the Museum of Image and Sound in Rio de Janeiro, the Blur Building in Switzerland, the Broad Museum in Los Angeles, and the recently awarded Columbia University Business School.

In a packed Abbey Room, Diller delivered a captivating address that illustrated (after overcoming some tedious technical difficulties) the eye-popping work of her design firm in both museum exhibits and architectural developments.

It’s all about space-making, from The Blur Building at Swiss Expo 2002 (“inside nothing to see and nothing to do”) to the New York High Line today (“introducing New Yorkers to the radical idea of doing nothing – you can only walk or sit”).

Diller also highlighted the firm’s work for the Broad Museum, the Hirshhorn (“the museum architects love to hate”),  and their first architectural commission – Boston’s ICA – which presented the problem of “speaking in the voice of the museum instead of misbehaving in its space.”

(See Diller Scofidio’s Whitney retrospective for misbehaving details.)

The firm’s current Quixotic projects include the beleaguered Museum of Image and Sound in Rio de Janeiro and the Culture Shed along New York’s High Line.

(Diller assured the audience that the firm has a “Head of Money-Losing Operations” to keep them focused on projects that justify themselves, in addition to high-paying developments.)

All of which come down to “democratic space, publicness, and reconnecting cultural institutions to cities.”

That’s all good, yes?

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