OPEN - an exhibition by Tsao & McKown
Exhibition by Tsao & McKown Architects
Syracuse University School of Architecture, Slocum Gallery
Opening April 17, 5:00pm (through May 9th).

OPEN is a dyptical exhibition in which the gallery space is devoted to use by the students, and the materials are primarily viewed on a website created for the exhibit:

For this exhibit, which will be seen primarily by architecture students, we wanted to show our process, including our intentions, and show especially the myriad linkages and connections to the kinds of background information that lead us to certain decisions – research of the cultures of a place, its politics, and economics, all of which we thoroughly investigate to inform our design strategies.

We thought it very important to focus on the types of information that help us understand the critical contexts within which the projects live, contexts within which they should always be considered. To facilitate this we chose seven projects that vary widely in scale, locale, and purpose, from the design of a lipstick case to the very different undertaking of a prototypical new town in China.

The large amount of information this would necessitate would exceed the space limitations of the gallery. Add to that fact the consideration that one cannot show actual architecture in a gallery, only representations – most of which would be either digitally created photographs or graphics. It was quickly obvious that there was no reason not to, and many reasons to, present the materials employing our customary way of organizing and viewing such information today, i.e., a website. With the gallery space thus freed up we immediately thought to use it to serve our constituents – the students. We saw that they very much needed a place to rest, relax, and interact socially (as is the case in most schools). So, we set about making such a space, creating a kind of padded corral, lined with deep felt, and furnished with giant throw pillows on which the students are encouraged to write messages and sketch with big magic markers - somewhat suggesting a play pen for adults. There, they can also engage the exhibition website – or not. We are also showing movies, movies that were influential to us and which we think are important to share with the students. And, on the walls are posted hundreds of photographs and other images to share our life at work, and times with our colleagues at events and parties that we’ve held. We show our own student work and other things that were done before we were formed, from before we were architecture students, and later when we were moonlighting on such things as illustrations and sets for Vogue magazine. The intention is to show the whole spectrum of details that informs our lives as architects, that motivates us and makes who we are and what we want to do.
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