In its first museum presentation on the West Coast, architecture studio Bureau Spectacular has designed a large-scale installation that further develops the studio’s ideas on past, current, and future architecture seen in the drawing insideoutsidebetweenbeyond, which SFMOMA acquired in 2015. Led by Jimenez Lai, the Los Angeles-based Bureau Spectacular views architecture as a medium capable of rewriting cultural narratives. Questioning the banality of the existing typical urban environment, Lai suggests that economic efficiency is driving its character-less architecture — and that, as monuments to civilization, modern cities’ ubiquitous skyscrapers reflect a predictable, mono-cultural society. Reconsidering urban architecture inside, outside, between, and beyond the monotonous rectangular buildings seen in most city skylines, the exhibition offers an urban landscape littered with surrealistic architectural forms and jarring environments. In this installation, Lai prioritizes the value of architecture over efficiency, imparting a more diverse urban sociology.
Header image: Jimenez Lai, insideoutsidebetweenbeyond, 2014; collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Jimenez Lai; photo: Katherine Du Tiel