Defined by its dualisms, the American Bar is both intimate yet expansive, simple yet opulent, introverted yet interconnected, a hidden world nested into a foreign context. We’d like to imagine an intensified version of this experience that play s up the two ends ofthe spectrum, following Loos’ lead in taking the grid beyond an ordering device towards a space of specificity and contemplation. What if Loos was able to reflect the infinite space of the interconnected world beyond, showing both the fragility of the bar as well as its anchoring to a place?
|Type of Procurement||Commission|
|Client||Chicago Architecture Biennial|
Jeannette Kuo, Ünal Karamuk, Christos Chontos, Linda Hatava, Marianna Gonzales
Modelmaking: Daniel Pickering
The 2017 Chicago Biennial, curated by Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee under the umbrella theme of “Make New History” featured a collective exhibition called Horizontal City in which participants were asked to rethink a canonical interior space and its representation through the architectural model. Each participant was given a precise dimension and scale for the model but had to choose a photograph of a space as a starting point.
The project was a redo of Adolf Loos’ American Bar in Vienna, a product of cross-cultural exchange. Built in 1908, the bar was designed after Loos’ visit to Chicago in the late 1890s when he was not only inspired by the architecture of people like Louis Sullivan but also by the free society of the United States where men and women were able to co-mingle in the bars. His import of the American bar to Vienna, which at the time was politically conservative, introduced a haven for progressive thinkers and a space for open discussions and debate. Given the current political climate in the U.S., it was an opportune moment to re-import Loos’ bar to Chicago, though of course with certain re-interpretations of the bar’s materialization and the space beyond, suggested by his mirrored planes. Within the physical constraints of the small space, the illusion of infinite extension underscores its intimacy. The virtual reinforces the real.
In the frenetic space of such exhibitions, the model becomes a completely hermetic experience of interiority. Reticent on the exterior, except for five strategically placed portals, pulling passersby to view in. The model as an object becomes all of a sudden a totalizing spatial experience. The mirrored surfaces dissolve the constraints of the prescribed model dimension to give an infinite space, a world that can only be experienced by those who take the time to look inside and slow their gaze.