Mimi Zeiger

Critic, editor, curator and instigator.

How many women? That’s the question I routinely ask when faced with a lineup of panelists, a competition jury, an exhibition checklist, or a table of contents. Then I will count, picking out female names and remembering which offices are partnerships.

I’m not alone in my inventory. For (en)Gendered (in)Equity: The Gallery Poster Project, Micol Hebron asked fellow artists to contribute posters depicting the numbers of male and female artists represented by top galleries in Los Angeles. Read More …

Advisory Board Member and Respondent

In 2030, the world’s population will be a staggering eight billion people. Of these, two-thirds will live in cities. Most will be poor. With limited resources, this uneven growth will be one of the greatest challenges faced by societies across the globe. Over the next years, city authorities, urban planners and designers, economists, and many others will have to join forces to avoid major social and economical catastrophes, working together to ensure these expanding megacities will remain habitable.

To engage this international debate, Uneven Growth brings together six interdisciplinary teams of researchers and practitioners to examine new architectural possibilities for six global metropolises: Hong Kong, Istanbul, Lagos, Mumbai, New York, and Rio de Janeiro. Following on the same model of the MoMA exhibitions Rising Currents and Foreclosed, each team will develop proposals for a specific city in a series of workshops that occur over the course of a 14-month initiative.

Uneven Growth seeks to challenge current assumptions about the relationships between formal and informal, bottom-up and top-down urban development, and to address potential changes in the roles architects and urban designers might assume vis-à-vis the increasing inequality of current urban development. The resulting proposals, which will be presented at MoMA in November 2014, will consider how emergent forms of tactical urbanism can respond to alterations in the nature of public space, housing, mobility, spatial justice, environmental conditions, and other major issues in near-future urban contexts.

Urban Case Study Teams:
New York: Situ Studio, New York, and Cohabitation Strategies (CohStra), Rotterdam
Rio de Janeiro: RUA Arquitetos, Rio de Janeiro, and MAS Urban Design ETH, Zurich
Mumbai: URBZ, Mumbai, and Pop Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge
Lagos: NLÉ Architects, Lagos, and Inteligencias Colectivas, Madrid
Hong Kong: MAP Office, Hong Kong, and Network Architecture Lab, Columbia University, New York
Istanbul: Superpool, Istanbul, and Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée, Paris

When talking about workplace design, the buzzword “collaboration” flies around the tech world faster than a speeding foosball. From startups working out of garages to sprawling corporate campuses, everyone is looking to harness the creative energy of people working together. Pinterest is no exception. The design-driven company is using its new 45,000-square-foot headquarters in San Francisco’s SoMA neighborhood as a test site for collaboration. Read More …

For an exhibition about architectural projects that never broke ground, there’s something rather cheery about Never Built: Los Angeles, on view at the A+D Museum through October 13. Outside, an oversized lenticular facade is a shade of yellow that shouts Southern California—it’s all citrus groves and sunshine. A billboard-sized image of the Cadillac-like Goodell Monorail is frozen mid-zoom along Wilshire Boulevard. Inside, a map of the Los Angeles Basin stretches out across the gallery floor. Sam Lubell and Greg Goldin have brought together a selection of unrealized works, many of which, if built, had the potential to change our understanding of the city. For the curators “what if” is not a lament, per se, but rather a celebration of speculative possibilities and a challenge to the present status quo. Read More …

Today the feedback, spin, and other acts of interpretation that were once the preserve of historians and other experts are often virtual, instantaneous, and open to input from a broad audience. What does this mean? Mimi Zeiger, critic and journalist based in Los Angeles, will consider expanded models of architectural criticism and discursive platforms. Alexandra Lange, New York-based critic and 2014 Loeb Fellow, will explain why architects should use Twitter and Instagram to show their influences—what they read, the design pilgrimages they make, the colleagues they admire—not just to promote themselves. Florencia Rodriguez, editor of Plot (Buenos Aires) and 2014 Loeb Fellow, will explore the question of criticism’s social or disciplinary responsibility; should it be “useful”? A discussion will follow, with GSD student writers and bloggers.

Moderated by Shantel Blakely of Harvard GSD Public Programs.

Reread Remix is a cross-platform criticism workshop that explores the act of critical writing as it translates from the page to the screen to performance. The workshop questions the role of the critic in a digital age, cautiously embraces the potential of the social web, and posits a collective criticism as a productive mode for expanding discourse.

Prior to the workshop, participants were asked to read and respond in a public manner to the following texts:

Ada Louise Huxtable, Plastic Flowers are Almost All Right (1971)
Reyner Banham, Bricologues a Lanterne (1976); see also: Charles Jencks and Nathan Silver, Adhocism (1972; 2013)

Working in groups, students made critical commentary, using the 140 character limit of Twitter, on the texts or on the discussion going on in the workshop. All tweets were tagged ‪#‎rereading‬. Students then chose 3-5 of their tweets to perform in rapid succession. The goal of the reading was to continue the translation between platforms and to apply the immediacy of performance to critical practice.

Architect Peter Zellner stands in the entry foyer of the house his firm ZELLNERPLUS has just finished in Tijuana. Named Casa Anaya, the house is perched on the edge of a hill, and the windows offer a panorama of the border city below, Otay Mesa in the near distance, and the mountain ranges in southeastern Santa Diego County beyond. But Zellner has his back to the view. His phone is out, and he’s filming a tiny waterspout that keeps forming spontaneously in the fountain between the two wings of the building. Over and over the funnel-shaped vortex develops and, like magic, dances for a second as the wind blows off the cul-de-sac, then disappears. Read More …

Ever since the Getty’s initiative Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A. kicked off in April and continued all spring and summer with nearly a dozen exhibitions and dozens more programs and events across Los Angeles institutions, there’s been a conversational buzz. At openings, on panel discussions, and in reviews those murmurs have been less about celebrating any particularly iconic buildings in the city and more about the dialogues, blurred boundaries, and differences between art and architecture. Read More …

The internet gets blamed for a lot of things, our current crisis of criticism being just one of its victims. The explosion of free content, the rise of unpaid bloggers, a diffuse democracy of likes and retweets, has surely weakened the authority of traditional critics. But in this new landscape Mimi Zeiger sees a host of new possibilities for architectural debate. Explaining her notion of ‘collective criticism’, she shows how platforms like Twitter can help build momentum on critical issues that often fall through the cracks of the pressroom floor.

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