November 19, 2006
by Canadian Architect
Smith Maran Architects (SMA), a Montclair, New Jersey design firm, has won Artcity’s PEEPSHOW International Pavilion Design Competition in Calgary with its entry MASt.
The competition called for the design of a portable art pavilion to present visual art in a new andinnovative manner. The principals of SMA, Erik Maran and Ira Smith, worked closely with junior architect Daniel D’Agostino and fellow employees to develop the winning submission. Artcity received 65 submissions from over 10 countries with a major concentration from the New York area.
Calgary’s annual Arts Festival has served as a celebration of contemporary visual art, architecture and design since 2001. The festival’s mission focuses on programming underused and neglected spaces in Calgary, bringing art into environments where the public lives and works. Each year, artists are invited to create an installation suited to a given pavilion and its temporary site. Artcity commissions the construction of the annual competition’s winning pavilion, which joins previous pavilions in Artcity’s growing collection of roaming arts venues.
SMA’s entry MASt – short for Mobile Audio Stage – answered this year’s competition theme of Truth and Lies with a sustainable design that riffs on the rich relationship between urban sights and sounds. The firm’s statement on the winning board notes, “What is seen may not always be heard; what is heard redefines what is seen.” Like a Dr. Seuss gadget, MASt is a hybrid of evocative form: a soapbox large enough to contain or even hide the modern artist/preacher; a gargantuan green microphone modestly plugged into the nearest outlet; a tractor with an antenna in place of an exhaust. As the competition required, MASt is designed to fit within a typical parking stall, includes wheels and only needs to be hitched and towed into storage between annual festivals. SMA’s sound wagon is slated to be parked, seen and heard in a variety of Calgary parking spaces over the coming years.
SMA’s previous work, including brand-building projects for boutiques as well as for automaker Toyota, helped the firm prepare for the competition. Principal Ira Smith said, “We live in a car culture, for better and worse, but our office has learned where to find the poetry in vehicles and the spaces they require. Parking lots are really a kind of community portrait and the public parking space is where we park our ego.”
For more information on Artcity, please visit www.art-city.ca. For more information on Smith Maran Architects, please visit www.smithmaran.com.