Neither Venice nor architecture is particularly known for its nightlife, but the opening days of this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale offered ample excuses for loosening one’s collar.
A torrential downpour on Sunday didn’t keep a diehard crowd away from the Venice home of Washington lobbyists and art collectors Heather and Anthony Podesta, where Henry Urbach was being toasted as the new director of the Glass House, Philip Johnson’s former estate in New Canaan, Connecticut. “Please eat,” the hostess vigorously implored guests including architects Steven Holl, Jeanne Gang, and Juergen Mayer, and MoMA curators Barry Bergdoll and Paola Antonelli, the latter wearing green nail polish matching the color of the city’s canals. “It’s called Mermaid Tears,” Antonelli said of the hue.
There were no mermaids at Archipelago, architect Ole Scheeren’s floating platform near the Arsenale, but magazine editor Jefferson Hack (Dazed & Confused) and fashion icon Carla Sozzani were among the bevy of glamourpusses who showed up Monday night for a screening of an hour-long film about, well, Ole Scheeren. The architect, who left OMA two years ago, now operates Büro Ole Scheeren in Beijing and Hong Kong. (Credits for his flick included: Director: Horst Brandenburg, Featured project: Rem Koolhaas and Scheeren’s CCTV building in Beijing, Number of times Koolhaas is mentioned: One.)
Meanwhile, the American contingent, including Peter Eisenman and U.S. Pavilion designers Freecell and Interboro, showed up in full force at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection for its Monday-evening party celebrating that pavilion—an always-anticipated mainstay of the biennial. A new mainstay, however, appears to be the PIN-UP magazine and Architizer party, which took over the Bauer Hotel late (and for some, very late) that night for the second Biennale in a row. The likes of Jacques Herzog, artist Olafur Eliasson, and photographer Juergen Teller managed to squeeze past a manic door scene that spilled into the hotel’s lobby and terrace, resembling Art Basel Miami Beach more than anything you’d expect in Venice. “I think we’ve created a monster,” PIN-UP’s Felix Burrichter said sheepishly.
After oversleeping any breakfast meetings they may have been foolish enough to schedule, revelers on Tuesday could be found trying not to bump into the Carlo Scarpa glass pieces that inaugurated Le Stanze del Vetro, a permanent exhibition space designed by Annabelle Selldorf on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore. Or they may have been testing out the new Domus magazine iPad edition at an event, organized with the Curry Stone Prize, at the Giardini—before seeking out the Strelka Institute party, near the Arsenale, by following stickers on the pavement that led deep into the night.