March 9 to June 5, 2011
Exhibited in Washington, D.C. at the Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery
Esther McCoy was a Los Angeles-based architecture critic and historian active from the 1950s through the 1970s. She wrote for Arts and Architecture and championed the goals of its Case Study House program in which the magazine commissioned the design and construction of houses to showcase new building technology.
The photographs and booklets I have selected for this exhibition show a variety of spanning systems used in twentieth-century building construction. My interest in these images is both technical and aesthetic: I am captivated by the exquisite patterns and undulating volumes produced by advanced engineering. Architectural photography is the ideal medium to express these beautiful forms, and these superb prints are but a few of the hundreds of images McCoy obtained for her writing projects, and later gave to the Archives of American Art.
The archival photographs in this site-specific exhibition show the principal highlights in the evolution of a spanning technology that starts with the groin vault ceiling of this gallery and ends with Norman Foster’s glass canopy over the Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard (visible through the windows). To add another layer to these histories, I have made a drawing with adhesive vinyl that projects a complex structural web (from Pier Luigi Nervi’s Palazetto dello Sport in Rome) onto the gallery’s vaults.