13:100 | Thirteen New York Architects Design for Ordos New York, NY 2008
(Ana Miljacki and Lee Moreau with Dan Sakai and Ben Porto)
The exhibit of the thirteen New York participants in the Ordos 100 project contends with two key issues: the participation in and the perpetuation of Ai Weiwei’s work on one hand and the contemporary predicament of a young architectural practice on the other hand. We wanted to separate judgments made on the site plan – its reproduction of an overblown suburban layout – from the judgment passed on the projects and on the role of the architects in the Ordos 100 project. In order to do that we disassociated the narrative of the trip, the actual site plan, and the invitation of the one hundred architects (what we see as the narration of Ai Weiwei’s master plan project) from the presentation of the work by the thirteen New York Architects. We treated the gallery as that space in which the viewer – through an intimate encounter and study of the work – becomes complicit with the architects.
The exhibit is defined by a series of formal constraints, and although that move fundamentally parallels Ai Weiwei’s initial invitation, we hoped that the constraints we provided would allow for a closer look at each individual project, while laying bare the relationship between the apparatus of unifying formal constraints and the differentiation and individuation performed by the architects.
-The “space” allotted to each project is equivalent to a 1/100 segment of the floor area at the Urban Center gallery (approximately 2’x4’).
-Each architect was invited to provide 15-25 images of their project presented as 9x12” cards.
-Each architect was invited to submit their 1:100 model.
-Each architect was asked to respond to a set of 10 questions (some of which are released in the gallery from their 2’x4’ pod).
Project_, in collaboration with the Architectural League, asked each of the thirteen architects in the exhibition to respond to the following list of ten questions, inviting them to articulate their thoughts about the Ordos 100 and reflect on their participation in the project. Excerpts from these interviews constitute the audio portion of the exhibition. The complete video interviews are available on the League's web site, www.archleague.org.
1. What was your initial reaction to the invitation? Did you ever consider not accepting the commission?
2. How aware were you of Ai Weiwei's work when you accepted the commission? To what extent do you think we need to see the Ordos 100 project in the context of his work thus far?
3. Describe how you dealt with designing a private residence for an abstract client.
4. To what extent were you designing with Chinese construction techniques and standards in mind? How is this reflected in your design?
5. Please describe what is architecturally at stake in your project? What were you after architecturally?
6. How do you feel about your participation in the project now that the design phase is over?
7. What do you think of the site plan and the cumulative effect of the Ordos 100 architectural interventions?
8. Can you imagine an equivalent development/situation to the Ordos 100 in the US? Why, how, or why not?
9. Please describe how you think the sheer size of the Ordos undertaking impacts the role and the position of the architect.
10. Describe your dream commission.