Austrian Architects Go America

John Hill
7. October 2019
Pile City New York by Peter Trummer, on display at ACFNY as part of Resident Alien (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)

Resident Alien, a new exhibition at the Austrian Cultural Forum New York (ACFNY), presents the work of dozens of Austrian architects who over the past century migrated to the United States for various reasons.

The most famous "resident aliens" were Rudolph Schindler and Richard Neutra, who emigrated to the United States before and after World War I, respectively, both ending up in Southern California and making marks on that area's modern residential architecture. Resident Alien's roster of architects following in the footsteps of Neutra and Schindler includes many who stayed in the U.S. but also those who merely studied or worked in the country.

Curators Stephen Phillips and Axel Schmitzberger have organized the many artifacts and contributions into five sections, each of which is described briefly in the photos that follow:

  1. Primitive Domains
  2. Aggregate Families
  3. Urban Terrestrials
  4. Cloud Natures
  5. Media Atmospheres

Resident Alien: Austrian Architects in America is on view at ACFNY until February 17, 2020.

The first name in the alphabetical list of architects is Raimund Abraham, who designed the iconic ACFNY, what the curators describe as "simultaneously ... a showcase and a case study for this exhibition." (Photo © David Plakke for Austrian Cultural Forum New York)
Primitive Domains looks at projects that start with geometry (squares, spheres, cones, cylinders) as a starting point for design. A model of  Schmitzberger's own ARB residence, under construction in California, has a central position in the gallery devoted to this section. (Photo © David Plakke for Austrian Cultural Forum New York)
Schmitzberger's Codex 81 VI, which looks like basic geometries deconstructed into complex forms, occupies part of one wall in the Primitive Domain gallery. (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)
Aggregate Families starts with the work of Paul T. Frankl and Adolf Loos, who were inspired by the conglomeration of skyscrapers in Chicago and New York City, and moves to recent designs enabled by computer software and digital fabrication. (Photo © David Plakke for Austrian Cultural Forum New York)
Julia Körner, with Kais Al-Rawi and Maria Boltenstern, contributed numerous models and photos of Cellular Complexity Evolve, a 2014 installation at AIA Los Angeles that clearly fits into the Aggregate Families theme. (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)
Urban Terrestrials and Cloud Natures occupy the largest gallery, in the basement of ACFNY. Urban Terrestrials is predicated on the innovative collages of Hans Hollein in the early 1960s, culminating in the digital collages of Peter Trummer's Pile City designs for New York (photo at top) and Vienna. (Photo © David Plakke for Austrian Cultural Forum New York)
Cloud Natures is built on the work of Coop Himmelb(l)au, Haus-Rucker Co., and Frederick Kiesler. (Photo © David Plakke for Austrian Cultural Forum New York)
Kiesler's famous Endless House is an obvious precedent for Herwig Baumgartner's Los Angeles Residence, a model of which sits in the middle of the gallery. (Photo: John Hill/Word-Architects)
Media Atmosopheres occupies the uppermost gallery at ACFNY. The relatively dark space allows for some A/V pieces, including an intriguing installation by Andrea Lenardin with Bettina Khano (video below) and a multimedia presentation of drawings from Christoph a. Kumpusch's book Detail Kultur. (Photo © David Plakke for Austrian Cultural Forum New York)

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