Texas art website Glasstire.com has confirmed the rumor that Rice University intends to demolish the Martel Center building—more informally known as the Art Barn. The corrugated metal structure was commissioned by John and Dominique de Menil in 1969 to house the Rice Museum, a predecessor of The Menil Collection.
The utilitarian structure inspired the “tin house” movement that gained some momentum in Houston’s West End neighborhood in the 1970s.
Speaking of rumors, Texas Monthly spread the word that Silicon Valley billionaire visionary Elon Musk may be locating facilities for two of his future-looking companies in the Lone Star State. Musk’s SpaceX has been buying up land in Cameron County in South Texas with the implicit purpose of building a space facility on the site to launch an expedition to Mars. In more terrestrial affairs, the South Africa native is also considering building a battery factory in the state for his electric car company, Tesla Motors.
Just a week before MoMA made its somewhat ambiguous announcement that the folded bronze facade of the American Folk Art Museum building would be removed and stored—rather than tossed in a dumpster—Nina Libeskind excitedly announced over a lunch in Milan, “I’m going to get some architects together and save the facade!” Nina is known for her powers of persuasion, and Eavesdrop doesn’t know if she actually put her plan into action. If so, it might be the quickest reversal in New York preservation history. While Eavesdrop is glad that at least the facade is being saved, we doubt it will quell the ire directed at MoMA and Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
Nearly 50 activists recently took over the Guggenheim’s spiraling balconies to protest the museum’s planned branch in Abu Dhabi. The protesters, who are affiliated with Gulf Labor and Occupy Museums, dropped pamphlets, rolled out banners, and hung a manifesto to criticize Abu Dhabi’s poor record on workers’ rights.
[ Editor's Note: The following is a reader-submitted response to a recent feature article, "City of Designerly Love." It appeared as a letter to the editor in a recent print edition, AN03_03.05.2014. 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. ]
As president of Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties Neighbors Association, I was pleased to see William Menking review our city’s innovative architectural scene (“City of Designerly Love,” AN 14_12.04.2013).
Yet I was surprised to see my community dismissed as the “troubled surrounding neighborhood” of the Piazza, a large mixed-use development anchored by a central plaza.
The Contemporary Austin
700 Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas
Through April 20th
Charles Long’s latest exhibition CATALIN—aptly named after a toxic plastic material fabricated in the 1930s—uses a multi-media approach to simulate a feeling of impending doom. In this Gesamtkunstwerk, Long combines sculpture, film, music, fragrance, theater, performance, and grand spectacle to create a mystical and magical Wagnerian world.
On View> Doris Duke’s Shangri La: Architecture, Landscape, and Islamic Art at the University of Michigan Museum of Art
Doris Duke’s Shangri La: Architecture, Landscape, and Islamic Art
University of Michigan Museum of Art
525 South State Street, Ann Arbor, MI
Through May 4
Following a 1935 honeymoon that brought her to Morocco, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, India, and Indonesia, enigmatic heiress Doris Duke began work on Shangri-La, her paean to Islamic art and architecture. The Hawaiian estate features rich tiling, carefully manicured grounds, and innumerable design flourishes all meant to evoke Duke’s own vision of the Islamic world. It also acted as the resting place for much of the heiress’s extensive art collection.
The University of Michigan Museum of Art has launched an exhibition featuring examples from this collection along with extensive documentation of the estate and Ms. Duke’s international travels. These photographs, films, art objects, and correspondences will be joined by work from eight contemporary artists of Islamic background.
It’s no secret that Houston is going through a growth spurt. The city currently has four central business districts that, if separated, would each be among the country’s top 15 employment centers. In the next 30 years, 3.5 million people are projected to move to the 8-county region, with two million of those concentrated in Harris County.
[ Editor's Note: The following is a selection of reader-submitted comments from the online feature about AN's recent Reimagine the Astrodome competition. It appeared as a letter to the editor in a recent print edition, AN01_02.05.2014_SW. 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 email@example.com. ]
Three of these are not serious, and the one with merit, the “sky dome” closely resembles a proposal I published over two years ago. Naturally we think that is a great concept, but the devil is in the details.
By George, today is Presidents Day, the annual celebration of Presidents George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and their successors. While Washington was born on February 22 and Lincoln on February 12, the holiday—dating back to the 1700s—is officially celebrated on on the third Monday in February. To mark the occasion, the U.S. Department of the Interior shared this rather untraditional view of the Washington Monument in the nation’s capital.
What do architects, attorneys, and accountants have in common? Naming firms after themselves. Architecture firms are some of the worst offenders and Eavesdrop is constantly consulting Wiki to figure the names behind those initials. After decades of ego, leadership changes, and acquisitions, one would think that global design would be dominated by a firm called SOMHOKBKLMNOP.
So it should not come at any surprise that St. Louis–based HOK recently acquired the New York and Shanghai offices of hospitality firm BBG-BBGM. Eavesdrop refuses to do any research on the provenance of that cluster of initials, but, luckily, it appears the combined firm will just be HOK. BBG should add an impressive, high-end roster of clients—think St. Regis and Peninsula hotels—to HOK’s portfolio of marquee projects.