Opponents of storing petcoke, a sooty byproduct, on Chicago’s Southeast Side can breathe easier now that Beemsterboer Slag Corp. has announced it’s leaving the city for greener (for now) pastures, following public pressure from the city and angry neighbors. The Koch Brothers typically set (read: buy) trends rather than follow them, so don’t expect their petcoke business KCBX to hoist anchor anytime soon, but enviros can celebrate this development, even if the city’s new regulations give companies a full two years to cover their dusty piles of petcoke.
And then there were four. The committee in charge of picking a site for President Barack Obama’s presidential library and museum narrowed the playing field to four illustrious institutions of higher learning, with two in Chicago. The University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, Columbia University, and the University of Hawaii have until December 11 to submit their bids, just in time to kick back and sip some eggnog while the president gears up for his last two years in office.
It’s such a shame that we live in areas so full of secrecy. Why won’t Hollywood stars in Los Angeles or tech moguls in San Francisco let architects spread the word about their million dollar houses? Sure we hear dribs and drabs. For instance that Sergei Brin and a major executive at Yahoo! have both commissioned San Francisco architect Olle Lundberg to design their new abodes. But these tidbits are far too infrequent. So we at Eavesdrop are making a plea for you to share gossip on who is designing for the most famous people you can think of. We promise, we won’t divulge our sources. And we won’t partner with Us Weekly. Probably.
You don’t often hear Mayor Rahm Emanuel utter these words, so when Rahmbo admitted he “made a mistake” in proposing naming a Near North Side school after Obama, his former boss, we thought it worthwhile to get him on the record here. Earlier this year Emanuel threw $60 million in TIF funding to the planned selective enrollment school, offering up the name apparently without consulting local leaders, including the head of Chicago Public Schools. They didn’t like the idea, as it turns out, probably only a little more than Emanuel didn’t like every local reporter committing his rare self-effacement to print.
As we’ve mentioned before, the biggest competition in town is not in the United States. Virtually every design firm in California and everywhere else has entered the competition for the Guggenheim Helsinki. Proposals were due on September 10, and Eavesdrop received a secret picture of the storeroom where they are being kept. Let’s just say it is FULL. There appears to be several hundred submissions. Only six of the proposals will advance to stage two of the competition, a list that will be announced later this fall. The winning entry will eventually be chosen next June. So stay tuned, there’s plenty of Guggenheim madness left! (And why doesn’t the Guggenheim open a branch in Los Angeles already?!)
In one of the more surprising analyses of his tenure as architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times, Christopher Hawthorne recently came out with breathless praise for The Vermont, a green glass residential tower by Jerde Partnership on Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue. According to Hawthorne, the building’s “sleek steel-and-glass profile is a reminder that new apartment buildings in Los Angeles can be something other than bland, stucco-covered, stick-built neo-dingbats.” Eavesdrop is no architecture critic, but let’s just say we do not totally agree.
The Architect’s Journal reported, somewhat melodramatically, that a “row” has broken about between MVRDV and the British firm LDA over the redevelopment of the Hammer and Sickle Factory in Moscow. MVRDV’s competition winning scheme, which respected the existing historic factory buildings, has been dumped in favor of LDA’s swoopier Shanghai/Dubai/Where-am-I scheme. Hurt feelings aside, MVRDV might have dodged a dictatorial bullet. Russia isn’t exactly the most stable or desirable or reputation-burnishing place to work these days.
The Japanese retailer Uniqlo—a favorite among budget conscious designers and students—has announced a new scholarship fund for Japanese students accepted into programs at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Harvard Business School. The retailer will provide $600,000 in funding over the next three years. We think it’s a smart move on their part, though we wish the funds weren’t only for Japanese students! Have you seen the numbers for our national student debt lately?!? Too bad American Apparel is broke…
The world of design trade shows seems to be ever expanding, with established and new shows sending out satellites coast-to-coast. A mini version of Dwell on Design is coming to New York, opening on October 9. Meanwhile, New York’s biggest design show, ICFF, is heading west, during the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas. And New York Design Week is expanding still further with yet another show, tentatively titled Disruptive Design. We can already feel the hangover coming on!
Bicycling magazine may have named New York City the nation’s best city for cycling—surprising many from calmer towns—but even more stunning is their selection of the worst place to pedal: nearby Suffolk county. Don’t worry Suf-folks, it’s not strictly personal. You’re way of life is symbolic of our national transportation imbalance. “Really, right now, the worst city is in the suburbs,” said Bicycling’s editor in chief Bill Strickland. “We picked Suffolk to be emblematic of that.” And urbanists wonder why they get tagged as elitists.
Brooklyn Bridge Park is one of New York’s most loved and successful new public spaces—just be careful how you get there! The spindly Squibb Park Bridge, which connects Columbia Heights to the park, has been temporarily closed “due to construction,” according to the park’s website. But some say that design flaws are the real culprit. One reader told us the bridge’s wooden planks are visibly warped, while others have said the bouncy structure is, well, just too bouncy. No word yet when the span will reopen.
In one of the few towns where the AIA has serious pull, the AIA San Francisco has named Jennifer Jones as its new Executive Director. Longtime HMC principal Kate Diamond has left her position and is looking for a new job. While it pales in comparison to the news that AECOM has merged with URS, forming the biggest firm in the galaxy, WSP has bought “global design giant” Parsons Brinckerhoff for $1.35 billion. That’s no joke either. Finally, after more than six years of waiting, SOM has begun work on its massive redevelopment of the WWII-era housing development, Park Merced. In San Francisco that’s like waiting for fifteen minutes.