Mimi Zeiger

Critic, editor, curator and instigator.

In early January, I visited the Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University in Houston, designed by Michael Maltzan Architecture (MMA), on the first day the new building opened for classes. Students searched for their assigned rooms as the final stages of construction unfolded around them. An orange traffic cone in front of a pair of glass doors signaled the entry to the 52,000-square-foot building.

It was a quiet afternoon for this self-proclaimed “transdisciplinary lab for creativity,” which will be far less subdued when it opens to the public on Feb. 24. The Moody Center is a hybrid, both in its mission and its architecture. An education space (with 4,000 square feet of classrooms) and maker spaces (including wood and rapid prototyping shops), the building will also be a cultural arts hub, with a theater and galleries. “Academia has gotten quite siloed,” Alison Weaver, the center’s executive director, told me. “How can we cross-pollinate again? Our goal is to be less a cabinet of curiosities and more a conversation.” Read More …

City in a City: A Decade of Urban Thinking by Steven Holl Architects opened at LA’s MAK Center for Art + Architecture in late January. Do not be fooled by the title. The exhibition is not about any particular city. Instead, it profiles a suite of projects by Holl’s office across China. The urban thinking in question, then, plays out in the scale of these built works and proposals, which express themselves over huge swaths of landscape and dazzle with their square footage. Consider the numbers:
3,500 Read More …

At Broadway & W. 218th Street there are only a few blocks left of Manhattan Island. 219th. 220th – the vestigial tail of 9th Avenue. Marble Hill and The Bronx are just across the Harlem River but this neighborhood, Inwood, is the narrow end of the landmass, the point where the accumulated capital (real and cultural) of the Big Apple goes to seed. It’s here, on this inauspicious corner in the nosebleed north of the borough, where we find Steven Holl Architects’ first ground-up building in New York City. Read More …