Toward Posterity

Completed in 2004, Strang’s “Rockhouse” adapts the concepts of Paul Rudolph’s “Umbrella House” to the local context of Miami’s jungle-like Coconut Grove neighborhood.

“Not marble nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme,
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone, besmeared with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn
And broils roots out the work of masonry,
Nor mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
‘Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till judgement that yourself arise,
You in this, and dwell in lovers eyes.”

-William Shakespeare, Sonnet 55

And so each of us will live for a time, indulged in physical presence for a fleeting moment before we cease to be. Beyond our years the world will cycle on, the seas will rise and fall and life will continue to bloom and fade. Our physical predicament, the mere presence of ourselves, is something we must all make peace with and accept as impermanent.

Max Strang is the founder of Strang Architecture in Miami, Florida. Most of his firm’s work is in single family residential structures, but they also take on projects in other fields. For Strang it is not about the end use of the building as much as it is about the design. He is known for telling his customers, “I’ll design a sewage treatment plant as long as it’s going to be interesting.” Projects typically center in Florida though he has some scattered throughout the Caribbean and even one as far away as Dubai. Strang grew up in a modernist home inspired by the work of Paul Rudolph which he believes is one thing that inspired him to become an architect. In 2004, Strang completed a house for his own young family in Coconut Grove called Rockhouse. For the house he drew largely on the designs of Rudolph and Sarasota School, including a famous home in Sarasota called The Umbrella House. For Rockhouse Strange used stone excavated from the ground beneath the site itself to build the structure. Strang’s designs are climate based, meaning they are created to suit the environment in which they sit and incorporate passive designs intended to achieve natural climate control. Another project currently in the works in Miami sets the first floor 22 feet above the existing grade. Sea level rise is an immediate threat in Miami and Strang has begun designing accordingly. He says the private sector is already beginning to raise the ground in preparation for encroaching seas. “We know how to raise buildings,” Strang says of the private sector. For architects there will be new challenges as demands to raise buildings begin to mount. To hear more from Max Strang about his designs and about the climate threat in Miami, listen to the complete interview.

Brice Brown is preparing for a 2020 show in Baltimore. He is creating sculptural pieces from cast paper as well as a video featuring a Bunraku puppet choreographed by dancer Christopher Williams. He will also incorporate a sound sculpture with sounds of himself. The piece centers on what it means to be a physical being in the world and also what it means to cease being so when we die. Brown’s cast paper sculptures create the memory of an object. For the show in Baltimore, set in a home museum, the appearance of the cast objects will recall the memory of the people who once lived in the space. A basic existential crisis led in part to Brown’s fascination with the physical presence. From there he began to think about “the detritus of life,” the objects we collect in life that remain when we are gone. Milton Art Bank is another project that grew from Brown’s frustration with the New York City art scene. He wanted to create a space that removed commerce from art giving artists the freedom to create without fear of failure. Realizing that New York was too expensive, Brown turned to Pennsylvania where he has a small house. He purchased and renovated an old bank and Milton Art Bank was born. “I just want to bring cool art to this small town and see if it can do something,” he says of the project. To hear more about Brown’s upcoming project and Milton Art Bank, listen to the complete interview.

A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:

To exist is to know that one day you will cease to be. To live is to embrace the time you are given.

Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a shareable format are here. The full archive of interviews here.

Books to Read

What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Max Strang recently finished Red Notice by Bill Browder. Brice Brown is reading The Sight of Death by T.J. Clark.

Opportunities

Leeway Foundation invites Philadelphia area women and trans artists whose work creates social change to apply for their Transformation Award. This unrestricted $15,000 award is open to artists working in any medium, whether traditional or non-traditional. Deadline May 15.

Deadlines

Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.

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