We were glad to be included on the Studio Gang’s Archi-Salon panel on “outside research” at the Art Institute of Chicago on February 2. UIC’s Clare Lyster moderated a lively discussion that, true to its roots in academic theory, kicked off by questioning the premise in the first place. Are practice and research separated by anything more than semantics? Based on the turnout it seems the discussion series achieved its goal of public engagement—what can we say? We’re thrilled and a bit surprised that you all find architectural theory as stimulating as we do.
During the discussion, Paul Preissner detected a whiff of marketing in architects’ clambering to engage “outside” disciplines. You might have thought he accused them of artistic treason, based on the defensive tone that the discussion took whenever the topic popped back up.
A push to consolidate art classrooms and performance venues on the campus of a prominent Rockford, Illinois college seems to have hit the doldrums, as Rock Valley College (RVC) administrators shake up priorities and pull back the budget. The Rockford Register Star reported RVC’s new arts instructional center, which received plans from Booth Hansen and Jeanne Gang, may get the axe.
It’s been (another) terrible year for Jeanne Gang! From being awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant to starring in the just opened solo exhibition, Building: Inside Studio Gang Architects, at the Art Institute, there appears to be no slowdown in Studio Gang momentum. Of course, Eavesdrop stopped by the opening and we have a few things to say. The first has little to do with Jeanne and more with the Art Institute. Their openings are always so snoozy! Get more of the students and younger folks in there, in addition to your stodgy museum patrons! We probably wouldn’t have stuck around long, accept a little bird told us that Mayor Rahm Emanuel would be making an appearance and we wanted to see how short he is in real life.
Zoë Ryan, the museum’s chair of the department of architecture and design, looked nervous awaiting Rahm’s arrival, while Jeanne looked quite at ease, milling about in a really cute dress. One of the hottest architects in the world is certainly in the same power echelon as the mayor of the Second City.
Still riding the wave of publicity following her recent MacArthur genius grant win, Jeanne Gang gets the full star treatment from Chicago’s public TV station WTTW. This documentary, “Jeanne Gang: The Sky’s the Limit,” is all praise. Blair Kamin and Stanley Tigerman figure as her head cheerleaders. It would have been nice to have someone puncture the bubble a bit, possibly interrogating Gang about architect’s limits, rather than merely presenting the discipline (and Gang as one of its leading lights) as a environmental and societal savior. The documentary does show some engaging glimpses of Studio Gang’s working methods and office style, so there’s plenty to enjoy, even for the (mild) skeptics.
Fresh off winning a MacArthur Fellowship, last night Jeanne Gang gave a lecture at the Great Hall at Cooper-Union, organized by the Architectural League, which emphasized her firm’s commitment to material research, sustainability, and collaboration with experts from diverse fields. She spoke about an ongoing research project into possibly restoring the natural flow of the Chicago River, which may have intrigued New York’s Planning Commissioner, Amanda Burden, who was among those in the audience. The project, in many ways, mirrors the Bloomberg Administration’s citywide sustainability efforts. Amale Andraos, from Work AC, introduced Gang and guided her through some gentle questioning. Read More
Today the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced their 22 new fellows, including Chicago architect Jeanne Gang. Congratulations to Jeanne and everyone at Studio Gang. Best known for the Aqua Tower, the firm has generated consistently innovative solutions for houses, community and cultural projects, beginning, most notably, with the Starlight Theatre in 2003 all the way through their contribution to MoMA’s Foreclosed exhibition, currently in development. One of the most prestigious awards in the country for artistic, intellectual, scientific, and professional achievement, the MacArthur also comes with a $500,000 prize, doled out over five years.
Just Architecture. The Van Alen Institute announced that NYC is about to welcome its first bookstore and reading room singularly devoted to architecture, Van Alen Books, located on 30 West 22nd Street. Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects (and one of the two candidates for the next PennDesign Architecture Dean) and architectural historian Anthony Vidler will be presenting their latest books at the opening party scheduled for next Thursday, April 21.
Flash Sale Curator. Curbed shows today that there is no boundary for what architects can do. A popular flash sale venue, Gilt Groupe, is having a home products sale today at noon, curated by an architect, Richard Meier. Items up for sale include “a signed copy of Taschen’s Meier, a mezuzah he designed for The Jewish Museum of New York, and his Architectonic Menorah,” normally sold for $1K!
Breathing Times. According to Streetsblog, New York’s Times Square, visited by 250,000 pedestrians each day, has become much more breathable since the 2009 installation of pedestrian plazas (find out why Bill Clinton is a fan) on Broadway. Concentrations of two traffic-related air pollutants, nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide, have gone down by 63% and 41%, respectively!
Suburban Slumification. Business Insider identifies 18 cities (including a less-than-expected Minneapolis) where suburbs are rapidly turning into slums. In the past, cities suffered crimes and poverty during recessions, while the rich stayed away in their safe suburban havens. But not anymore. Suburban slums are growing five times faster than cities.
DANCING WITH STARCHITECTS
Eavesdrop got all flustered when the Chicago Dancing Festival, an annual event celebrating American dance, announced the theme for its August 27 event: “The Dancing Skyline.” Could this be like Dancing with the Stars or a Pilobolus-like pile of dancers recreating buildings from Chicago’s iconic skyline? Probably neither, as the festival’s website simply describes it as “a lecture and demonstration focused on themes of architecture and dance.” Still, we would have paid good money to see Jeanne Gang paired with the likes of Jay Franke of the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company prancing off against Helmut Jahn and Fabrice Calmels of the Joffrey Ballet. A gossip columnist can dream! Read More