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Center for Architecture Opens Two Exhibitions on Middle Eastern Architecture and Engineering

City of Mirages: Baghdad, 1952-1982 and CHANGE: Architecture and Engineering in the Middle East, 2000-Present


New York's Center for Architecture presents two exhibitions that focus on the development of Middle Eastern architecture.

Center for Architecture presents new February exhibitions

NEW YORK -- The Center for Architecture announces the opening of two concurrent exhibitions on architecture in the Middle East. City of Mirages: Baghdad, 1952-1982, in its U.S. debut, presents built and unbuilt work by 11 architects, including Alvar Aalto, Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown. CHANGE: Architecture and Engineering in the Middle East, 2000-Present surveys 123 contemporary works in 20 countries and territories. Taken together, the two shows demonstrate the diversity of approaches to design in the Middle East and examine the forces of modernization and colonialism shaping the region’s cities.

"These two exhibitions further the Center for Architecture’s commitment to global dialogue," says Joseph J. Aliotta, AIA, LEED AP, president of AIANY. "In the past two years, the Center’s exhibitions have grappled with recent international developments in the built environment, such as the rapid growth of Chinese cities and informal urban strategies in India. CHANGE and City of Mirages document and present the ongoing transformations of cities around the world."  

The exhibitions will both open at the Center on Feb. 22, 2012, with a reception from 6-9 p.m.; the opening is free to the public.

CHANGE: Architecture and Engineering in the Middle East, 2000-Present

The Middle East is a vast geographical area comprising diverse landscapes, traditions, cultures, and climates. While it contains some of the most significant UNESCO monuments and sites, the region is also undergoing rapid urban growth and economic globalization. Beyond the familiar images of supertall towers and man-made islands, CHANGE presents the exceedingly varied contemporary architecture of a transformative region.

The exhibition features projects from the past decade submitted in response to an open call by the Center for Architecture. It includes work by AIANY members, AIA members across the United States and architects and engineers practicing in the Middle East.

"The Middle East is undergoing 'change,'" says Hassan Radoine, Ph.D., curator. "Building on centuries of rich architectural and urban heritage, contemporary architecture and engineering in the region is shaping new social and economic realities. Living and working int he Middle East for decades, I have witnessed how the built environment of the Middle East is shifting, becoming more cosmopolitan, with local attitudes confronting international influence. The timing of these exhibitions is critical."

The exhibition is on view from Feb. 22, 2012, through June 23, 2012 at the Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place, New York City.

Curator: Hassan Radoine, Ph.D

Exhibition Design: Rumors

City of Mirages: Baghdad, 1952-1982

The history of modern architecture in Baghdad has been relatively underexplored and is still not well know. Though specialists in Iraq, and in exile throughout the world, have already undertaken detailed analyses of the topic, many of these studies have been difficult to access throughout Europe and the Unite States. Moreover, the destruction of war has made it impossible to recover the complete modernist record of Iraq. While it is not the definitive work on the subject, City of Mirages tells a story about Baghdad and the architects who were invited to participate in the making of its modern image.

The exhibition describes an era in which Baghdad was a thriving, cosmopolitan city, and when an ambitious program of modernization led to proposals and built work by leading international architects. City of Mirages features work by Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Jose Luis Sert, Alvar and Aino Aalto, Gio Ponti, Alison and Peter Smithson, Constantinos Doxiadis, Ricardo Bofill, Willem Marinus Dudok, and Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. Fifteen models of various scales represent both built and unbuilt works by these distinguished architects, and are accompanied by a large-scale model of Baghdad, which will reside in the Center for Architecture's double-height space.

According to Renata Holod, Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, "Iraq, like many modern Arab states, underwent major social, economic and political changes in the 20th century. The dream of a kind of universal modernism engaged its reformers and modernizers. Thus, modern architects were invited to design projects to transform the nature of urban environments. Forms and amenities were imported with the belief that through them a new society would be shaped. The exhibition shows the ambitious development scope of the commissioners, and the responses to this challenge by architects whose practices at the time focused more and more on the universal modernist 'elsewhere.'"

The exhibition is on view from Feb. 22, 2012 through May 5, 2012 at the Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place, New York City.

Curator: Pedro Azara

Exhibition Design: Rumors