Architecture critic and one-time eavesdropper Philip Nobel has a fancy new title: Editorial Director for SHoP Architects. Though he has long been known for throwing critical barbs, Nobel has always been cozy with the firm, having contributed an introduction to their monograph, Out of Practice, and a written glowing profile of Vishaan Chakrabarti for Metropolis (the piece had the oh-so subtle title, “Vishaansanity”). You might say it was a very long audition that clearly paid off in the end.
It’s hard enough for west coast firms to make it into architecture publications, but Clive Wilkinson has made it into the vaunted pages of the New Yorker. In the “Talk of the Town,” writer Nick Paumgarten describes Wilkinson’s thousand-foot-long, resin-topped “superdesk,” which he designed for New York ad agency Barbarian Group in Chelsea, as “swerving around the giant loft space like a mega slot-car track.” Barbarian calls the desk “4,400 square feet of undulating, unbroken awesomeness to keep people and ideas flowing.” In fact the desk even played a major role in a recent company party, and Paumgarten wondered if the desk itself might be taking on human characteristics: “One got a sense, after a while, that the superdesk might be capable of consciousness, that it was observing the humans as they heedlessly laughed and flirted and left glasses of wine on its carapace, and that it might be developing longings and resentments, or plotting its revenge.”
Since architect Chris Genik left Daly Genik (now called Kevin Daly Architects) and became dean at the NewSchool of Architecture and Design in San Diego in 2010, we have lost touch with him. He’s no longer the dean, and we haven’t heard a peep about what he’s up to. If you know of his whereabouts please contact eavesdrop immediately. And speaking of Chrises, we hear that our friend Christopher Mount, who curated MOCA’s New Sculpturalism exhibition before things with Jeffrey Deitch went haywire, is opening up a gallery inside the Pacific Design Center dedicated to architectural prints and related art.
Mark Lamster, Dallas Morning News architecture critic and responsible citizen, chastised the Dallas community for its poor attendance at an April 9 James Carpenter lecture. The 2004 MacArthur Fellow, who was speaking at the Dallas Center for Architecture about his newest installation at the Cotton Bowl, shed light on his genius to a paltry audience of 10. Ten, that is, if Carpenter included himself in the head count.
Happy birthday, Millennium Park! Yes, the Chicago park named for the chronological milestone now 14 years in the rearview mirror is turning 10—it went famously over-schedule and over-budget but we love it nonetheless. Last year 4.75 million people visited Chicago’s front yard, taking in free concerts and events, and probably taking at least as many selfies with Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate and the flowing titanium locks of Frank Gehry‘s Pritzker Pavilion in the background.
In honor of the anniversary, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is kicking off a series of shows and exhibitions that includes new work from Crown Fountain designer Jaume Plensa. Hey, Jaume! Email us if you need another face for your 40-foot LED projection!
Here at AN, we’re celebrating with ten of our favorite photographs of the park taken over the past decade and more. Take a look below.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s archetypal modernist home, the Farnsworth House, is drowning. The banks of the Fox River served as an idyllic setting for the building’s white steel and glass when it landed in Plano, Illinois. But lately the Fox has gone rabid, spilling over its banks three times in the past 18 years. So what to do? Preservationists are looking at installing hydraulic jacks to lift the house during floods, to the tune of about $3 million. Call it the Three Million Dollar Modernist. Ironically Mies put the house on stilts to prevent such flooding; I guess you can’t outwit a wily Fox.
In sad but spectacular gossip news, we’ve been informed that Culver City firm SPF:a has been removed from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’ new museum project in Los Angeles. SPF:a principal Zoltan Pali had been working with Renzo Piano on the project since 2012.
Eavesdrop attended the opening of William J. O’Brien’s mid-career solo show on view through May 18 at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago. 2014 is shaping up to be a strong one for Chicago-based artists, with this show clearly thrusting O’Brien into the upper echelon.
The Chicago Design Museum, our resident pop-up pantheon of graphic aesthetics, is looking for your help to mount the first exhibition in its new permanent home. They’re planning a centennial show for the American Institute of Graphic Arts (hey, AIGA’s as old as Wrigley!), and they’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to get it funded (and time is really running out!). Eavesdrop’s been known to drop in on ChiDM’s shows since its inception, so we could be persuaded to part with some cash.
An odd confluence of global statecraft and local politics could reshape Manhattan super luxury real estate. The Russian/Ukraine conflict has pushed the U.S. to impose sanctions on many of Russia’s richest men, the so-called oligarchs surrounding Vladimir Putin. According to the Times’ Real Estate section, the sanctions are sending a “chill” through Manhattan’s luxury developers and the brokers who serve them, since Russian buyers have acquired some of the city’s priciest properties in recent years. Time will tell if the conflict is long lasting enough to depress prices or change the dynamic of Manhattan real estate, but with Mayor de Blasio’s relentless drive to create affordable housing the pressure is on for developers to start paying more attention to average New Yorkers, not just global billionaires looking to stash their cash in empty apartments overlooking Central Park.
Speaking of the architecture/celebrity complex, a source told Eavesdrop that Liz Diller is designing an Upper East Side apartment for entertainment mogul David Geffen. The once radical architect has gotten awfully cozy with the establishment. We guess all that time in Los Angeles designing The Broad is paying off.