- James Wines - SITE
James Wines - SITE
American architect and artist James Wines’ (1932) professional career has long been linked to the multidisciplinary organization SITE (Sculpture in the Environment) which he founded in New York in 1970 alongside A. Sky, E. Sousa and M. Stone.
A leading exponent of environmental design and organic architecture, he has been a sculptor since the late fifties. Graduating from Syracuse University in 1956, he has since managed architectural projects and research, held conferences in hundreds of universities and written numerous essays for books and magazines throughout the world.
His time in Rome was significant as Wines came into close contact with many artists who lived in the Eternal City. Wines remembers: These were intense years and I am still in touch with many people. During that time, I was involved with Archizoom, Superstudio and UFO, in Florence and Milan, and especially Gianni Pettena, Andrea Branzi and Michele De Lucchi. Pierre Restany and Bruno Zevi then co-authored my first monograph, “SITE: Architecture as Art” (St. Martin’s Press, 1980)" (Domus, interview by G. Ricci, 2018).
His publications also include De Architecture (1987) and Green Architecture (1999).
In the film Ecological Design: Inventing the Future (1994, directed by B. Danitz), Wines explained one of the basic concepts of his vision of architecture, stating “the 20th century began with architects inspired by a new industrial and technological era. (...) I can understand that it was inspirational in 1910, however, this does not make any sense in today’s post-industrial world, with IT and ecology”.
This position also inspired the SITE project, “attributed to the radical architecture movement (...) an unconventional, impractical, anti-formal approach based on concepts such as logical inversion, indetermination and fragmentation.” (Camerana)
SITE’s experimentation is oriented towards “living” urban spaces, such as town squares, open spaces, parking lots and motorways. In his work, the function of “environmental art” related to architecture, is primarily a “space for communication”, and therefore ascribes a strong social and pedagogical connotation to the discipline.
Clear examples of this are his popular installations at Expo ‘86 in Vancouver featuring a modulated walkway with 20th century objects and means of transport, and Sea and Islands Expo ‘89 in Hiroshima featuring the Four Continents Bridge which combined various types of vegetation from different continents.
Over a ten-year period, SITE worked on prestigious projects in buildings which symbolized American consumerism, including a series of Best Products showrooms including the Peeling Building (1971), where a deconstructivist tendency is strikingly evident. On this building the facade literally peels away from the structure. In a series of stores, built between 1970 and 1984, the facade is elevated and balances on the building itself.
Disjoined roofs that block out the structure below them are another of SITE’s hallmarks. In Parking Lot (1976) asphalt covers the cars and the Forest Building (1980) is completely covered in vegetation.
The entrance pavilion at the Rossini Art Site, a park in Briosco (2008) is a remarkable example of green architecture, set in a park with a full range of attractions, events, installations and workshop activities.
Here, Wines "created a place that blends into the surroundings and becomes an integral part of it. The green roof on the pavilion is designed to be overrun by native vegetation. Built from local materials, the full height windows overlook the park to turn the building almost into a telescope onto the surrounding hills and mountains".
His product designs are significant, especially with Italian businesses. Wines favored and developed the concept of inversion, provocation and re-defining reality with an experimental approach, although with a limited audience at Biennials and Triennials.
Notable examples include the Black Light for Foscarini (1991) that reverses the concept and function of a light bulb. Wines designed a black light bulb that does not emit light, instead it comes from the bulb housing.
Winner of numerous awards, since 1999 Wines has pursued an intensive teaching career, lecturing in architecture at Pennsylvania State University.
James Wines - SITE - selected works, products and projects
- Denny’s Neonopolis Network, Las Vegas (USA), 2013
- Pietro Rossini Pavilion, Briosco (Italia), 2008
- Shake Shack a Madison Square Garden, New York (USA), 2004
- Antilia - Residenza privata su torre (progetto), Mumbai (India), 2003
- Museo delle Arti Islamiche (progetto), Doha (Qatar), 1997
- Aquatorium, Chattanooga (USA), 1993
- MAK Vienna Bookstore Entrance, Vienna (Austria), 1992
- Horoscope Ring Children's Park, Toyama (Giappone), 1992
- Avenue Number Five, Siviglia (Spagna), 1992
- Ross’s Landing Park and Plaza, Chattanooga (USA), 1992
- Black Light - Foscarini, Venezia (Italia), 1991
- Four Continents Bridge - Allestimento per Expo 1989, Hiroshima (Giappone), 1989
- Isuzu Space Station, Yokohama (Giappone), 1989
- Residenza privata Lauren Mallet House, New York (USA), 1985
- Candelabri Melting Silver - Baleri Design, Milano (Italia), 1985
- Struttura Highway ‘86 - Allestimento per Expo 1986, Vancouver (Canada), 1985
- Williwear Men’s Showroom, New York (USA), 1984
- Museo di Arte Moderna (progetto), Francoforte sul Meno (Germania), 1983
- Ghost Parking Lot, Hamden (USA), 1977
- Retail Store Best Products, Houston (USA), 1975
- Indeterminate Facade, Houston (USA), 1970
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