Ask Not What The Google Can Do For You

Eavesdroplet, Midwest, Newsletter
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
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Wolf Point on the Chicago River. (Courtesy Pelli Clarke Pelli)

Wolf Point on the Chicago River. (Courtesy Pelli Clarke Pelli)

The biggest stir caused by the Kennedy’s newest proposal for developing Wolf Point was not obscuring the Merchandise Mart views or initial reactions to the renderings or the stuffing of three very tall towers on one impossibly small piece of land. It was more like, “There’s a living Kennedy with a stake in Chicago real estate?” We all know the family sold the Mart years ago. Fewer of us knew they held on to that little sandbar that sits in front of the the Sun-Times building.

Ready to boost the family fortune, the Kennedys with Hines, Cesar Pelli, and bKL plan to stuff three towers onto the site. Is this the architectural equivalent of a 10 lb. bag of sugar in a 5 lb. sack? Maybe, but development of that scale is also kind of exciting. And that leads to the biggest question. Can this economy support a residential and commercial project of this size? Well, Jean—that’s the last sibling standing, right, so the land must be hers—get out your good-faith checkbook: Google is coming. They’ve leased the top floors of the Mart, which will serve as the new headquarters of Motorola, which Google has acquired. That means thousands of high paying fancy Google jobs just across the street. With that news, Wolf Point is a done deal, no?

Safe Harbor?  Safe Harbor? If you need to turn around an aircraft carrier, it helps to have an experienced captain on board. Maybe that’s the strategy behind RMJM’s rumored choice of Danish shipping exec Jesper Bo Hansen to lead its New York office. Hansen has spent the last two decades not in architecture but in the shipping biz, first at cargo giant Maersk and most recently at Torm. Maybe he’ll instate some ship to shore protocols at RMJM, whose financial management woes have played out publicly in recent years. As Bjarke Ingels might say, held og lykke—good luck, Jesper!

 

Note from Self: Architects Selling Out.  Note from Self: Architects Selling Out Speaking at a recent literary festival in London, writer Will Self reproached the architects who helped set the stage for this summer’s games. “If you are an architect and involved in this obscenity then you should go home and consider retraining as a dentist… You might be able to use your creativity in a form that doesn’t do so much damage,” said Self, comparing the buildings to snake oil used to veneer over “people’s looming sense of the inequalities in society.” In a follow-up interview with Building Design, Self questioned why the profession’s most critical thinkers, like Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind, and Richard Rogers, continue to work for socially unjust clients. “It’s not because they can’t afford to pay their heating bills,” said Self.

 

How Nave Can He Be? Parsing Goldman Alley

East, Eavesdroplet
Friday, July 20, 2012
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(Garrett Ziegler/Flickr)

(Garrett Ziegler/Flickr)

Financial giant Goldman Sachs has received lots of attention recently for its headquarters at 200 West St. New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman waxed poetic about the building’s glass canopy by Preston Scott Cohen. The canopy, said Kimmelman, “elevates what is really just a gap between two buildings into something almost as inspired as the nave of a great Gothic cathedral. That’s the power of architecture.” Or, in this case, the architecture of power.

The latest, and more critical, take on Goldmans’ HQ by Times writer N. R. Kleinfield outlines the firm’s impact on the surrounding area which at the time of the buildings completion in 2009, was short on shops and restaurants. So using its $1.65 billion in Liberty Bonds plus $115 million in tax breaks, Goldman just created a neighborhood in its own image.

A Rendering, Any Way You Slice It.  (Courtesy DS+R) We can’t blame a Times caption writer for misunderstanding the renderings of Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s proposed education building for Columbia University Medical Center. One corner does appear remarkably well ventilated, leading to a caption that described a view of multiple balconies as a “cutaway rendering.”

 

Rusticated: That Nouvel Smell

East, Eavesdroplet
Monday, July 16, 2012
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(jesarqit/Flickr)

100 Eleventh Avenue in Manhattan. (jesarqit/Flickr)

The hanging gardens inside the atrium of Jean Nouvel’s 100 Eleventh Avenue sound idyllic: “From planting boxes built into the structure, trees soar upward and plants cascade down the walls, lending their scent to the atmosphere,” states the building’s website. But the smell may not be so sweet. A source familiar with the project told AN that the huge suspended planters lack proper drainage, leading to standing water and the early onset of rust. Maybe Nouvel can argue that he’s taking a cue from the Cor-ten laden High Line next door?

BUCKY ON FILM.  BUCKY ON FILM There’s something about Buckminster Fuller. Already there have been a spate of documentaries about the eccentric, geodesic dome-loving designer. They include The World of Buckminster Fuller, by Robert Snyder; Buckminster Fuller: Thinking Out Loud, by Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon; and A Necessary Ruin, by Evan Mather. But now we hear a rumor that filmmaker Steve Reiss is working on a full-length feature about Fuller called “Bucky,” based on a screenplay by Ron Bass. Stay tuned as we get more details. And hold on to your domes.

 

Design Submission.  Design Submission David Hecht of San Francisco firm Tannerhecht recently presented the plans for a mid-rise condo in the city’s SoMa district in a community meeting held on site at an S&M Club. No, the architects are not into bondage. In fact Hecht had originally been told the site was vacant, but it turned out that the longstanding club was still around, so instead of presenting in a community hall the plans were displayed, we hear, among leather costumes and lots of Purell bottles.

 

Get ‘Em While You Can Afford ‘Em.  Coil Lamp by Craighton Berman. Local hot-shot designer, Craighton Berman, has left the firm gravitytank to go solo. He’s keeping himself busy with all kinds of stuff—from illustration to design workshops. Craig, whose illustrations regularly don the pages of Dwell, designed the Coil Lamp, which graced the pages of this paper and many others. The Coil Lamp was recently added to the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. Better get one before they become pricey collectibles.

 

A Film About Rem By his Son and OMA

Eavesdroplet, International
Monday, June 25, 2012
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CCTV Building. (Courtesy Tomas Koolhaas)

CCTV Building. (Courtesy Tomas Koolhaas)

The film My Architect, the story of Louis Kahn’s son on a mission to discover and understand his father, won over the hearts and praise of even the lay-est of architectural laypersons. The effects of which—a fresh spotlight on the work and life of a brilliant designer—did not fall on blind eyes. Tomas Koolhaas is making a film about his father, Rem Koolhaassee the Facebook page!—called REM set to debut in 2013. It also appears from rough clips that the CCTV building in China will play a central role in the story. Awesome! We can’t wait to see this quaint little film about a humble and modest architect and his role in designing the media headquarters for political oppression and censorship in China. We’ll get the popcorn!

Teaser clips from Tomas Koolhaas after the jump.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving.  Lucien Lagrange. He’s back, y’all! Without a doubt, he’ll once again spread his Nouveau Beaux Arts buildings across Chicago. Wait, what? Who are we talking about? Who else? Lucien Lagrange. After a strong decade or two spreading an upscale Disney-esque version of Paris-on-Steroids across Chicago’s skyline (see: the Waldorf Astoria, 65 East Goethe, Lincoln Park 2520), a public divorce from designer Jessica Lagrange, his namesake firm’s bankruptcy (which we’re sure had nothing to do with the divorce), his retirement, his joining VOA (just joking about retirement!), his bitter divorce from VOA, and now the recent announcement of HKS Lucien Lagrange Studio, a boutique practice within the HKS. Think of this next installment as the architecture version of a pop-up store. The question is, how long will it last?

 

Eavesdrop> SOM and Cavagnero Take San Francisco’s Moscone Center Expansion

Eavesdroplet, Newsletter, West
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
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(Courtesy Moscone Center)

(Courtesy Moscone Center)

Here’s one thing we know: No matter how gigantic convention centers and airports grow, they’re never big enough. Now we’ve heard through the grapevine that San Francisco will be the latest to loosen its belt a couple notches with the help of SOM and Mark Cavagnero Associates. The city is jumping on the expansion bandwagon with the addition of 200,000 to 450,000 square feet to the Moscone Convention Center in the South of Market neighborhood. The original center opened in 1981 and its first expansion, Moscone West, followed in 2003.

More after the jump.

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