BEFORE SUBZERO, REFRIGERATORS WERE WHITE (OR AVOCADO)
Eavesdrop jetted to pollen-crusted Raleigh, NC, with an eclectic herd of reporters from the likes of Sculpture magazine and The Jewish Daily Forward to tour the North Carolina Museum of Art expansion designed by Thomas Phifer. We were not disappointed. The 127,000-square-foot museum is an elegant, single-story box penetrated by courtyards, pools, and gardens. The interior and exterior details are so deliciously subtle that they seemed to elude some of the mainstream press, who asked him why he didn’t site the building to dominate the street. Articulate and precise, Phifer hypnotized the skeptics by explaining every strategy convincingly, and they hung on his every word. (Check out AN correspondent Thomas de Monchaux’s own critical appraisal in our next issue.) Read More
VALLEY OF THE DOLL
With either mock or earnest outrage (hard to tell), Charles Linn, deputy editor of Architectural Record, alerted Eavesdrop to an injustice that’s resonating throughout the profession. Barbie will never be an architect. It’s true, a lot of dolls aren’t architects, presumably by choice, but Barbie has, for all intents and purposes, been banned from three years of sleepless, pore-clogging charrettes and humiliating juries. Here’s what happened. Mattel, Barbie’s baby daddy, had an online contest called “I Can Be” to determine the next Career Barbie. Voters were asked to choose from a list of five nominees: environmentalist, surgeon, news anchor, computer engineer, and architect. And the winners are: news anchor and computer engineer. Read More
When you enter the lobby of the I.M. Pei-designed East Wing of the National Gallery of Art, the building’s credits are prominently etched in stone. Why do you think Pei’s name has been rubbed to the point of illegibility? Are visitors paying homage or expressing disapproval? Perhaps it has something to do with those pesky panels? Whatever the case, it’s not pretty.
On December 2, Werner Sobek, IIT professor and founder of Werner Sobek Engineering and Design, delivered the third annual Franzen Lecture for Architecture and the Environment at the Cooper Union. Sobek, who is also head of the Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design (ILEK) at the University of Stuttgart, discussed experiments at the institute to develop an inflatable-fabric-structural-envelope-system-prototype, or “sausage” to be economical. Our eyewitness reports that after much exposition about inflatable fabric membranes, New York architect Toshiko Mori, who moderated the discussion, offered that she had sat on Werner’s inflatable sausage, because he wanted her to test the resistive properties to make sure it could withstand the pressure. Tittering spread through the audience, said our witness, who admitted that he lost track of the discussion. Yes, folks, this is what passes for randy double entendre in the academy.
NORBERT HAS LEFT THE BUILDING
Two issues ago, we brought your attention to a lawsuit in which Reed Construction Data accuses the McGraw-Hill Construction Group of industrial espionage, mail fraud, and racketeering. Norbert Young, president of the construction group, which includes Architectural Record, was mentioned twice as the alleged spy supervisor. Since then, an internal memorandum on November 9 seems damning in its terseness: “I wanted to inform you that Norbert Young has left The McGraw-Hill Companies.” That’s it. No reason given, no thank you for years of service—just the name of the person-in-charge-for-now and a boilerplate pledge to sound leadership and innovation. Cold. Read More
Industrial Espionage, Mail Fraud, Racketeering, Oh My…
We never thought we’d hear racketeering and construction data in the same sentence, but here it is. In early October, Reed Construction Data filed suit in federal court against a division of McGraw-Hill Construction called Dodge. The suit charges that Dodge has unlawfully accessed confidential and trade-secret information from Reed since 2002 by using a series of fake companies to pose as Reed customers. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in New York on October 8, seeks an unspecified amount in lost profits and punitive damages, trial by jury, and injunctive relief as a result of Dodge’s misuse of Reed’s proprietary construction-project information. Worse yet, Reed claims, Dodge allegedly manipulated the information to create misleading comparisons between its products and services and Reed’s in an effort to mislead the marketplace. Read More
HAPPY B-DAY, MR. ARCHITECT
On October 12, Richard Meier turned 75. His birthday bash for 150 was held that night at the Four Seasons, or rather under a white tent on Park Avenue alongside the Seagram Building fountains. Eavesdrop didn’t find anyone on the B-List who was invited, but all the A’s were there including Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves, David Rockwell, Robert A.M. Stern, City Planning Commission chair Amanda Burden with TV talker Charlie Rose, and President of the American Academy in Rome Adele Chatfield-Taylor with playwright John Guare. A Meier follower tells us that his 50th was held at his duplex on East 72nd Street, where he raised eyebrows by exiling his mother to a far corner of the room, while putting Burden on his right. Interior designer Rose Tarlow hosted his 60th birthday on the tennis court of the house he designed for Norman and Lisette Ackerberg in Malibu. This time, he was sent into his fourth quarter of a century by daughter Ana, who arranged everything in no-surprise white. No roasts among the toasts made by family and friends, with Meier himself going only slightly off-color in his effusive compliments to his lovely offspring. The cake was a layered white slab. Read More
WE SMELL RATS
Really? The British tabloids (all of them) are reporting that architectural fetishist and actor, Brad Pitt, has built a gerbil “Neverland” for his six children’s herd on his and Angelina’s estate in the South of France. If you believe what they’re reporting, Pitt paid somewhere between $50,000 and $80,000 on an “elaborate gerbil run [that] has a maze of tunnels, seesaws, and platforms for the pets to live in,” according to ever-present anonymous sources. Pets? Gerbils are rodents. Besides, what do gerbils know about architecture? Eavesdrop wants to see the Rodentia brief, renderings, reflected-ceiling and sprinkler plans, specs, etc. Read More
This innovative British firm is on the shortlist for the 2010 Stirling Prize. The building they’re brainstorming is the firm’s first U.S. commission. The site is somewhere on Cooper Square. Morphosis is the architect of record.
Their work is the focus of a new book, Feasibility: The New Polemic (The Too Little Too Late Press, 2009).