1. Flowing Along
The Gowanus area of Brooklyn needs help. Its canal is a Superfund site; its southern border is cleaved by a freeway and rail line; and its still-thriving industries are imperiled by chic gentrifiers. Gowanus by Design—one of a dozen community groups in the area—has launched its third international competition, Axis Civitas, to encourage mapping and analysis as a means of finding the best way forward. The registration deadline to propose an “urban field station” to build public awareness is March 6. Learn more at www.gowanusbydesign.org.
2. Layers of Meaning
Ai Weiwei’s oeuvre is hard to parse. His installations are sculptural, his sculptures are surreal, and his brand of surrealism is not unbelievable at all but weirdly documentary. Beyond that, you can’t talk about his art without talking about his political activism—a balance (and a conflict) at the center of “@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz,” an installation that explores the incongruent layers of fortress, penitentiary, Native American heritage site, and, now, National Park. “@Large” is on view until April 26. Learn more at www.for-sitet.org.
Helsinki is a tough customer—its managing City Board rejected two proposals by the Guggenheim Foundation for a museum there, citing concerns about financing, maintenance, and the impact of a museum on a plum harbor site. After the Guggenheim’s 2014 design competition to draw fresh ideas (attracting more than 1,700 entrants), a coalition of insurgents organized The Next Helsinki, a counter-competition that addresses the city’s concerns head-on, with the March 2 submission deadline looming. Learn more at www.nexthelsinki.org.
4. Light Fright
Walking around the older parts of London, you may see signs that read “Ancient Lights” hanging near windows. It’s a vestige of an old eponymous law (renewed in 1996 as the Rights of Light and Daylight under the Party Wall etc. Act) that protects building owners from adjacent developments that may eclipse the natural light their properties receive. It’s a big deal for architects working in London, legally and ethically, and on March 12, RIBA will host two experts to outline risks and compliance solutions. Learn more at www.architecture.com/whatson.