Vito Acconci inside one of his modules for “Project for Klapper Hall,” from 1993-95. Credit Fred R. Conrad for The New York Times

Sad to hear of Vito Acconci’s passing. Much of his work resonates with me, including his unexpected turn to public art that plays with our expectations for architecture. Two quotes from the New York Times review about his life:

1) In reference to his “Following Piece” from 1969:

“It was sort of a way to get myself off the writer’s desk and into the city,” he once told the musician Thurston Moore. “It was like I was praying for people to take me somewhere I didn’t know how to go myself.”

How I feel about my class at HFBK. It structures my research and forces me out of the studio to meet locals and see the city.

2) His career turn:

That ambition took hold fully in the mid-1970s, when, in a radical career turn, he abandoned the gallery world and remade himself as a highly unorthodox architect and designer, creating works like public parks, airport rest areas and even an artificial island on a river in Austria.

The move confused his peers and caused his profile in the art world to recede, to the point where many younger artists who were indirectly influenced by his work had little idea who had created it. In his later years, Mr. Acconci sometimes agonized over this situation, but he said he had no choice but to follow his interests where they took him — which was no less than an ambition to change the way people lived.

3) His approach to architecture:

“I wish we could make buildings that could constantly explode and come back in different ways,” he said in one interview. “The idea of a changing environment suggests that if your environment changes all the time, then maybe your ideas will change all the time. I think architecture should have loose ends. This might be another problem with Modernism — it’s too complete within itself.”

Why I’m studying the Chilehaus, but more about that in another post.

“Murinsel,” a floating platform in Austria designed by Mr. Acconci. DeAgostini/Getty Images
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