Aesthetics Of Crossings Exhibition

Published on June 16, 2009, 8:16 pm
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Aesthetics Of Crossing pairs two projects that examine border crossing points and the individuals who pass through them. Land Ports of Entry by Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects highlights the architecture of surveillance and openness in two recently built US border stations.

Citizenship by Design by Kadambari Baxi and Irene Cheng reimagines the design of passports, international regulations, and other artifacts that subliminally shape individuals’ statuses. One project is architectural, concrete, and real; the other is graphic, ephemeral, and narrative. Both provoke viewers to reconsider the aesthetic dimensions of how nation-states regulate individuals’ movements and identities.

Land Ports of Entry features Smith-Miller + Hawkinson’s designs for two border stations that facilitate the inspection and control of passenger and commercial vehicles traversing the border between the United States and Canada. As both ceremonial gateways and sites of surveillance and regulation, the ports must convey a sense of openness as well as security. The architects use aesthetics—particularly material effects of transparency, translucency, and opacity—to negotiate the contradictions of the program and to gesture towards the buildings’ equivocal, post-9/11 geopolitical landscape.

Citizenship by Design
is a public art project by Kadambari Baxi and Irene Cheng that raises questions about citizenship in a globalized age. The project inspects artifacts such as international passports, identification technologies, and regulations regarding naturalization and travel. By highlighting the aesthetics of these objects and rules, and by remixing their graphic elements into multinational hybrids, the project calls attention to the ways that citizenship is designed—and the ways it might be reimagined in an era of proliferating global crossings.

Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects
is a New York City-based design studio in architecture, urban design, installations, exhibitions, objects, and products ( Kadambari Baxi and Irene Cheng are also based in New York. Baxi is engaged in a collaborative practice focused on architecture and media ( Cheng is a designer and writer (

Opening Reception:
Wednesday, July 1, 2009, 6:30–8:30pm

July 1–31, 2009, Mon–Fri 10am–6pm, Sat 12–5pm


About Van Alen Institute: Projects in Public Architecture
Van Alen Institute is an independent nonprofit architectural organization whose mission is to promote inquiry into the processes that shape the design of the public realm. For over a century the Institute has cultivated a community of design practitioners and scholars, awarded excellence in design, and fostered dialogue about architecture as a creative practice with great public consequence. Today Van Alen continues this legacy as both a research institute and public gallery dedicated to critical inquiry surrounding contemporary forms of public space and new configurations of spatial practice. The Institute’s primary activities include design competitions, fellowships, exhibitions, publications, and public forums—programs intended to expand the discourse around public architecture and to infuse the highest caliber of design innovation into public projects. For more information, please visit:

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