[ Editor's Note: The following are reader-submitted responses in reference to William Menking’s editorial “Will de Blasio Make Progress on Design?” (AN 05_04.09.2014). Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. ]
In your editorial “Will de Blasio Make Progress on Design?”, you seem to suggest that there is an inherent conflict between the development priorities of the new administration and the accepted tenets of good urban design. We disagree.
Major museums are really expensive these days, and boy do we like to complain about it (actually we get into most museums for free with a press pass, but we still love to complain about it)! Well gather ‘round dear readers, because we’ve got a bit of nice news for once. The new Renzo Piano–designed Whitney Museum is offering free admission for a year to all the men and women who are building their new Meatpacking location. It’s a nice counter to all the bad news about labor conditions at major cultural and educational institutions in the Middle East (we’re looking at you, NYU).
Peeping Toms, bust out the kazoos. Your field day has arrived—and it comes equipped with party favors. The Shard, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, is London’s tallest skyscraper and, as of last week, home to a new luxury hotel. The rooms include breathtaking views of the city—and, thanks to a design flaw, unscrupulous views of unsuspecting neighbors.
Glass panels on the Shard’s exterior bestow the building with a crystalline front and its namesake. But at night, the city’s lights turn the glass into mirrors that fully reflect guest bedrooms into each other. Complementary binoculars (“for the view,” ahem) don’t help matters. Nor do puns about the naked eye. Masking a blush? Rest easy—susceptible rooms include shades for extra privacy.
This week in Venice, the New York–based Van Alen Institute convened a group of leaders at 13 top architecture firms to brainstorm ideas that will guide the non-profit institution with an increased international perspective. The group will meet twice a year “to identify and investigate issues facing cities internationally, and to guide the impact of the Institute’s public programming, research, and design competitions,” according to a press release from Van Alen. The goal is to find topics that the institute can explore more deeply in its ongoing efforts such as Elsewhere: Escape and the Urban Landscape exploring our relationship with urban life.
Divvy, Chicago’s bike share program, just sold the moving ad space of some 3,000 bicycles that have traveled 2.5 million miles since the system launched nine months ago. Illinois’ largest health insurance company, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, paid $12.5 million to sponsor Divvy and brand its blue bikes and vans with their corporate logo beginning in June. The Chicago Tribune reported that the highest bidder was Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, which has also sponsored several other bikeshare systems in recent years, starting in Minneapolis. The health insurance company will pay $2.5 million each year through 2018—revenue the city will use to expand Divvy and fund bicycling projects throughout the city.
Just last month Eaves dropped in on the Chicago Design Museum for the launch of its Kickstarter campaign, which sought funding for the institution’s first summer exhibition in a new permanent space. Well, that space has been revealed, and it’s every Chicagoan’s favorite downtown boondoggle. No, not the Spire. Or the Post Office. Never mind—it’s Block Thirty Seven! That’s right, it turns out the largely vacant downtown mall has 5,000 square feet free for ChiDM (and probably a lot more). A good chance to remind yourself that the building’s still there, looming above the Red Line-Blue Line transfer.
Gallup pollsters recently asked Americans if they had the opportunity to move, “would you like to move to another state, or would you rather remain in your current state?” Well, Illinois and Connecticut earned the dubious distinction of having the nation’s most restless residents. About half of the surveyed residents in Illinois wanted to bounce, but don’t expect an influx of moving boxes. We’ll probably just ride it out and complain. Case in point: another Gallup poll found 25 percent of Illinoisans surveyed said their state is “the worst possible place to live in”—second only in self-loathing to Rhode Island.
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.
Soto: The Houston Penetrable
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Through September 1, 2014
The final installation in Jesús Rafael Soto’s Penetrables series—Houston Penetrable—will be on view at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, as of May 8. An interactive display of 24,000 PVC tubes, each hand painted and tied, will hang from the second story of the museum’s Cullinan Hall.
Everything Loose Will Land
4 West Burton Place, Chicago
Through July 26
Everything Loose Will Land explores the intersection of art and architecture in Los Angeles during the 1970s. The show’s title refers to a Frank Lloyd Wright quote that if you “tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.” This freeness alludes to the fact that this dislodging did not lead to chaos but rather a multidisciplinary artistic community that redefined LA.