The Greatest Grid:
The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811–2011
Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue
Through April 6, 2012
In 1807, to head off health threats and a growing lack of habitable space, New York City’s Common Council commissioned a three-year project to organize massive land development north of Houston Street. The Museum of the City of New York presents The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811–2011 in honor of the bicentennial of the 1811 Commissioners’ Plan for New York, which established the iconic street grid from Houston to 155th Street. Along with the original, hand-drawn map of New York’s grid plan, other historic documents demonstrate the city’s physical development due to the grid’s application and evolution over time. Co-presented by the Museum of the City of New York, the New York Public Library, and The Architectural League of New York, and sponsored by the Office of the Manhattan Borough President, The Greatest Grid will be on display until April 6.
The House That Sam Built:
Sam Maloof and Art in the Pomona Valley, 1945–1975
The Huntington Library, Art Gallery, and Botanical Gardens
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, CA
Through January 30, 2012
The exhibit explores over 100 works of renowned midcentury furniture craftsman, Sam Maloof (1916–2009) and his circle of friends, who gathered at the Maloof residence and workshop—which have become a central part of the dynamic Pomona Valley art community—to share a meal and their common interest of hand-crafted objects. The exhibit showcases some of the earliest Maloof pieces, such as a round, plywood coffee table with walnut legs, decorative arts and crafts such as ceramic works by Otto and Gertrude Natzler (above), an office chair made for the prominent industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss, three iterations of his classic rocking chair, a table lamp by William Manker, among other objects. Visitors will also find two rare watercolors produced early in Maloof’s career. The exhibit is part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945–1980, a Getty collaboration spanning six months, bringing together over 60 cultural institutions all across Southern California.
Portuguese architect, curator, and writer Pedro Gadanho will join the Museum of Modern Art’s Department of Architecture and Design as a curator of contemporary architecture effective January 11. In addition to organizing exhibitions, Gadanho will supervise the annual Young Architect’s Program, which has recently expanded from New York to Rome and Chile. Read more details in AN‘s breaking news story.
In other museum news, James Cuno, the President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, has taken on yet another Getty role: acting director of the Getty Museum. In addition to supervising all of the Getty’s various holdings, Cuno, the former director of the Art Institute of Chicago, will now be back in familiar territory, overseeing the museum following the resignation of acting director David Bomford.
Other West Coast shifts: Behnisch Architekten closes their Venice, CA office, while Oakland, California-based VDK Architects, which specializes in the Science & Technology market sector, has merged with the architecture and engineering practice Harley Ellis Devereaux.
Dwell magazine regrouped this fall following the departure of editor-in-chief Sam Grawe and also established a New York editorial outpost; executive editor Amanda Dameron was promoted to editor-in-chief and Alejandro Chavetta was bumped up from art director to creative director. Kelsey Keith departed Curbed NY to join Dwell as a New York-based senior editor.
The Architecture Billings Index is up, hitting 52.0 in November, the first positive ground since touching 51 in August (anything over 50 indicates an increase in billings). The roller-coaster volatility of the past few months—we held our breath and skipped reporting September’s down and October’s up—suggests cautious optimism that the index which tracks the approximate nine-month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending is finally in a solid swing upwards.
In a surprise move Stanford University announced today that they are withdrawing their bid to build a tech campus on Roosevelt Island. In a statement, the university said that several weeks’ worth of negotiations prompted the Board of Trustees to determine that the East Coast expansion was not in their best interest. “We are sorry that together we could not find a way to realize our mutual goals,” wrote Stanford president John Hennessy.
The $200 million proposal with a master plan by Ennead was largely considered a front runner until this afternoon. The campus developed in a partnership with City College was to build more than 1.9 million square feet on the site now occupied by the Goldwater Hospital that would have brought housing for 200 profs and 2,000 students. While president Hennessy promised an accelerated launch—and a pledge of $1.5 bllion from a ten-year capital campaign—back in October, the plan seems to have fizzeled under pressure from students.
“I applaud the mayor’s bold vision for this transformative project and wish the city well in turning that vision into a reality,” said Hennessy. “Stanford was very excited to participate in the competition, and we were honored to be selected as a finalist. We were looking forward to an innovative partnership with the city of New York.” The San Jose Mercury News noted that “Hennessy had cautioned that unless Stanford could get guarantees that it could build what it needs to build, plans will be abandoned.”
In a flurry of statements that followed, both the city and City College looked for the silver lining. City College noted that the two institutions established a “strong on-going relationship during this process.” And Julie Wood from the mayor’s office essentially added that the show must go on. “We are in serious negotiations with several of the other applicants, each of whom has a game-changing project queued up. We look forward to announcing a winner soon.” That leaves the Cornell proposal with a team led by SOM as the only other contender for the Roosevelt Island site.
542 West 22nd St.
Through February 11, 2012
Dating back to the 17th century, Mobilier National is the institution specifically dedicated to decorating the French Republic’s official palaces and residences, at home and abroad. For the first time in America, Demisch Danant presents more than 20 rare commissions realized in the 1960s by the Atelier de Recherche et Création (ARC), a program launched by Mobilier National to promote a distinctly French contemporary style in decorative arts and design. With research and design development subsidized, these pieces were meant to be commercially produced in limited quantities. Many of the ARC creations have become icons of modernity, including Pierre Paulin’s famous designs for President Georges Pompidou’s private apartments at the Palais de l’Elysée and the President’s Desk (1968) by Henri Lesêtre (above).
Adding to his pop culture resume (appearing on the Simpsons, designing a hat for Lady Gaga, starring in a documentary) Frank Gehry has designed the official poster for the 54th Grammy Awards, which takes place in February. It appears that Gehry simply placed the Grammy trophy in front of a collection of models at his office, leaving the question, can you spot any specific projects? If so leave a comment. We’d like to see Gehry’s interpretation of the iconic gramophone made of his signature curving titanium forms. Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy, said in a statement, “Frank’s exemplary creative accomplishments through a variety of artistic platforms have been inspirational. We are honored to work with such a well-respected talent who has served as an influential figure within the arts on a global scale.”
Coincidentally, Gehry will be designing sets for the LA Philharmonic’s production of Don Giovanni at Disney Hall this May. The Philharmonic is nominated for a Grammy this year for its performance of Brahms Symphony Number Four.
It must have been a rough day at MVRDV’s Rotterdam offices after their newly unveiled Cloud tower set to be built in Seoul, South Korea went viral in a bad way. MVRDV envisioned two towers shrouded in pixelated mist, but others saw the image of a plane hitting the World Trade Center in New York, half a world away. MVRDV released the following statement on their Facebook page along with an early conceptual drawing showing the inspiration for the tower, in a much more literal cloud:
A real media storm has started and we receive threatening emails and calls of angry people calling us Al Qaeda lovers or worse.
MVRDV regrets deeply any connotations The Cloud projects evokes regarding 9/11, it was not our intention.
The Cloud was designed based on parameters such as sunlight, outside spaces, living quality for inhabitants and the city. It is one of many projects in which MVRDV experiments with a raised city level to reinvent the often solitary typology of the skyscraper. It was not our intention to create an image resembling the attacks nor did we see the resemblance during the design process. We sincerely apologize to anyone whose feelings we have hurt, the design was not meant to provoke this.
Check out all of the renderings over here. What do you think? Is this too reminiscent of the Twin Towers? Do you see a cloud or an explosion frozen in time?
Earlier this fall the rapper Ice Cube pleasantly surprised us by turning up in posters promoting the Getty’s exhibition series Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980, a sweeping SoCal round-up that also covers the work of architects and designers. It turns out that before founding the group N.W.A., Ice Cube studied architectural drafting, and in the process he became a fan of Ray and Charles Eames.
In a video just released by the Getty, Ice Cube communes with the designer couple’s famous Case Study #8 house in Pacific Palisades, walking around the exterior to admire the “off-the-shelf factory windows, prefabricated walls” and then kicking back in a 670 lounge chair inside to hold forth on the Eames’ approach of mixing the new with the old, comparing it to sampling in music: ” They was doing mash-ups before mash-ups even existed.” But the most instructive part of the video may be Ice Cube’s decoding of the traffic specific to L.A. freeways…watch for it here:
For more on Ice Cube’s take on design, read his interview with the New York Times.
Jürgen Mayer H.: Wirrwarr
The Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago
Through January 22, 2012
While the Berlin-based architect Jürgen Mayer H. is known for his highly sculptural, honeycomb-like buildings, such as the Metropol Parasol in Seville or the the Court of Justice in Hasselt, Belgium (above), one of his quirky obsessions is not as widely known: a fascination with secret codes and numbers encrypted into patterns. Used by institutions such as banks to ensure that sensitive information such as PINs and passwords are only visible to the recipient, these intricately patterned data sheets are largely unexamined. To Jürgen Mayer H., however, this visual expression of our fear of exposure and desire for protection is fascinating and relevant to architecture.