“Structure Wanted to Be Liberated from Itself”: In Dialog with James Wines

“Structure Wanted to Be Liberated from Itself”: In Dialog with James Wines


James Wines, a New York architect and environmental artist, has been on a mission of types. He believes that structure must be liberated from itself. This act of liberation is expressed in lots of radical tasks that he and his firm, SITE (Sculpture In The Setting) realized in 11 nations. Wines is world well-known for such tasks as Ghost Parking Lot (Hamden, CO, 1977), Highrise of Houses (theoretical venture, 1981), Freeway 86 (Vancouver, Canada, 1986), Fondazione Pietro Rossini Pavilion (Briosco, Italy, 2008), and Off-White Showroom for Virgil Abloh (Ginza, Tokyo, 2021). The very essence of the architect’s work is expressed in his fascinating shops for BEST Merchandise Firm, the important thing focus of my dialog with the architect that occurred over Zoom on August 10, 2022, following lots of our in-person conferences.

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The BEST Merchandise Firm, a sequence of American catalog showroom retail shops, was based by Sydney and Frances Lewis, distinguished artwork collectors and main benefactors of the Virginia Museum of Effective Arts in Richmond, Virginia. The couple had run their profitable business empire for 4 many years till 1997. At its peak, the corporate maintained 169 showrooms in 23 states. The Lewises commissioned SITE to design a few dozen of their shops; 9 have been constructed:

Peeling Constructing (Richmond, VA, 1972)


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Indeterminate Façade (Houston, TX, 1974)

Tilt Constructing (Towson, MD, 1976)

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Notch Constructing (Sacramento, CA, 1977)

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BEST Anti-sign Constructing (Richmond, VA, 1978)

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Cutler Ridge Showroom or “Jigsaw Puzzle” constructing (Miami, FL, 1979)

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Rainforest Constructing (Hialeah, FL, 1979)

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Forest Constructing (Richmond, VA, 1980)

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Inside/Exterior Constructing (Milwaukee, WI, 1984)

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It’s stated that the Indeterminate Façade Constructing in suburban Houston appeared in additional books on Twentieth-century structure than pictures of another trendy construction. 

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Sadly, out of 9 constructed BEST shops just one, Forest Constructing in Richmond, Virginia, stays standing, and even that modified drastically. Nonetheless, these now demolished buildings are ingrained in our collective reminiscence. These buildings launched and shocked the world with most of the architect’s revolutionary concepts. Their unorthodox facades fairly actually displaced individuals’s expectations and assumptions concerning the nature of structure, procuring, and suburbia. Wines turned his buildings into outstanding artistic endeavors that provoked conversations, questioning, amusement, in addition to misunderstanding, and even protests. 

The architect is a superb provocateur whose unconventional work disjointed the thought of structure as a method. His work modified the course of structure by releasing it from every kind of dogmas. SITE’s structure provokes concepts of hybridization. James Wines treats structure as a type of critique and a platform for steady discourse. By the very act of putting artwork the place individuals least anticipate finding it, he taught us methods to be extra observant, curious, and significant of our on a regular basis surroundings. Wines introduced a rebellious perspective to the occupation and his efforts expanded structure by making buildings extra creative, imaginative, process-oriented, open-ended, built-in with nature, and, after all, extra enjoyable to discover.