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Architecture and Illumination at the Museum of Art & Design

Architecture & Illumination
6:30-8pm Thursday 3 April 2008
Museum of Arts & Design: 40 West 53rd Street

Reproduced cover image of "The Architecture of Night" by Dietrich Neumann.
Reproduced cover image of The Architecture of Night by Dietrich Neumann, published by Prestel in 2003.

New York, in some ways, is the same city at night as it is in the day. Its most iconic material features — its buildings and monuments — are of course lit at night and made, perhaps, even more visible in the partial darkness that hasn't been able to swallow the city whole, or even in part, since the late summer Northeast Blackout of 2003. The experiments with light and architecture have continued throughout the 20th century so now that even an absence may be illuminated: an architectural presence affirmed only with light is showcased most definitively by the Tribute in Light the two soaring vertical light beams installed in 2002 at the WTC site shortly after its destruction by terrorists that previous September.

Such incorporation of large-scale, powerful electric lighting with the city's architecture has been aggressively expanded since the 1930s, and even then was only the natural progression of earlier urban integration of gas lighting in the 19th century. Tonight at the Museum of Art & Design, historian of architecture Dietrich Neumann presents Architecture & Illumination, a talk on how "architectural lighting has completely transformed the way we perceive and navigate our cities" in the 20th century. From the press release:

Professor Dietrich Neumann will speak about the history of architectural illumination, and the use of electrical lighting a "new building material." Neumann will present the debates that accompanied this development and discuss historic and contemporary examples including the pivotal Chicago Tribune building, whose architect, Raymond Hood, coined the phrase "architecture of the night." "Architecture of the Night" was also the title and subject of an acclaimed international exhibition Neumann curated for the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart and the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam, where it was shown until May 2007.