This entry comes to us from Gregory Dreicer, former Vice President for Interpretation and Exhibitions at the Chicago Architecture Foundation.
In April, the Danish Architecture Center (DAC) in Copenhagen hosted a conference entitled Dedicated to Architecture. The meeting organizers, under the direction of Kent Martinussen, CEO of the Danish Center, focused our discussion on the value that architecture centers might create for society—and how they might achieve impact. The DAC invited me to participate; I thought the AAO Network might be interested in hearing more about it, especially as most of the attendees were from Europe, with a few representatives from Asia and the United States. Some of the links below lead you to projects and people that grabbed my attention.
The context for the meeting was the DAC’s planned move from its delightful current facility, a converted 18th-century warehouse, into a multifunctional building much closer to Copenhagen’s center. The new home – still a few years from delivery – is being designed by Rem Koolhaas’ firm, OMA.
The two days of presentations highlighted a wide range of perspectives on architecture centers and what they might achieve. Ole Bouman (now organizing the Shenzhen Biennial) spoke of his belief in the field of architecture as a distinct field; which contrasted with Kieran Long of the Victoria & Albert Musuem in London, who will be taking up a multidisciplinary approach at his institution. We also learned of Thomas Chung’s fascinating search for unused land on which to build a new architecture center in Hong Kong; challenges very different from those faced by Mark Zehnter at Germany’s renowned Vitra Design Museum. Fellow AAO member Rick Bell, speaking on behalf of the AIA New York’s dynamic Center for Architecture, and Eva Franch i Gilabert of the Storefront for Art and Architecture, showed how diverse institutions serve diverse audiences in New York and beyond. The conference also included discussion of the independent productions of Maarten Gielen (of Rotor in Brussels) and Michael Stevns (of The Crystal, a new pavilion in London developed by the Siemens Corporation).
Despite the variety of architecture centers, it was clear that there was a desire for collaboration among the institutions, many of whom are concerned about ensuring they have the resources to continue to do their work. You can find more information about the conference on the DAC website, including a wrap-up report and videos of the presentations.
And, for those interested, here is an informative piece about the DAC's upcoming move to the new Center.