The Eternal Blast: Monuments of the
Manhattan Project in the Empire State
An exhibition by Ludovico Centis, 2013-2014 Banham Fellow,
University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning
May 2 - 18, 2014
All of the sites connected with the Manhattan Project, the program that produced the first atomic bomb, together constitute the most powerful contemporary North American "monument." They raise crucial questions about landscape, nuclear energy, and collective memory. The vastness of the land areas involved in the Project and the nearly infinite life of the radioactive byproducts produced are equally impossible to grasp; a fact that radically subverts contemporary notions and perceptions of what a 'monument' is as well as many preservation paradigms.
In recent history, the notion and perception of what constitutes a "monument" have become blurred. Even the physical boundaries of a monument can be unstable, expanding or contracting in the vast landscapes of North America. How and why do we perceive that something has become a monument, or should be preserved as such? Is it still necessary to build monuments? Will monuments continue to evolve in their shape, use, and characteristics?
Texts, maps, photographs, drawings, and diagrams investigate these "spinal landscapes," places where the ever-increasing tension between nature preservation and collective consciousness, and between the need for secrecy and the demand for participation, is truly tangible.
The exhibition is the result of a project developed in the 2013-14 academic year at SUNY University at Buffalo. The visual body of work derives from a collective work developed with the students of UB’s School of Architecture and Planning, as well as from archival research in libraries throughout the State of New York. Historic materials compiled from private collections enrich the exhibition, while a series of interviews with experts from different disciplines based in Buffalo along with lectures from international professionals in the fields of art and architecture are collected into a publication.
Ludovico Centis is an architect, a founder and editor of the architecture magazine San Rocco, and a contributor to the website of Domus magazine. He was a partner at the architectural office Salottobuono from 2007 to 2013. He is currently a doctoral candidate in urbanism at IUAV University in Venice (Italy) and has taught undergraduate design courses at various Italian universities and lectured internationally, including at the Hong Kong & Shenzhen Biennale of Urbanism and the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. As a Banham Fellowship holder, his research addresses the contemporary understanding and perception of monuments. He is teaching a year-long seminar and an undergraduate studio and will also produce a book and exhibition as a result of his research.