On October 16 thieves nabbed a handful of valuable paintings, including works by Picasso, Matisse, and Monet, from the Kunsthal gallery in Rotterdam. At least one person points the finger at the architecture by home team OMA. Citing an interview with Dutch security expert Ton Cremers, Dezeen.com reports that the open plan and glass walls are a nightmare for guards. Cremers appreciates the design aesthetic of the museum, which was completed in 1992, but noted, “It’s an awful building to protect.”
AN has been anxiously awaiting official news of an architect for Los Angeles’ long-awaited Downtown Federal Courthouse, and we’ve picked up the scent of a promising rumor. Brigham Young’s DTLA Rising blog has heard from a “source at a large architectural and design firm in Downtown LA” that SOM has won the commission, beating out a short list of teams including Yazdani Studio and Gruen Associates, Brooks + Scarpa and HMC Architects, and NBBJ Architects.
The new $322 million courthouse will be located on a 3.7-acre lot in Downtown LA at 107 South Broadway and will contain 600,000 square feet incuding 24 court rooms. The General Services Administration (GSA), the federal agency in charge of building the new courthouse, hopes to have the project completed by 2016. The former art-deco courthouse at 312 North Spring Street will be sold to help pay for the new structure, drawing criticism from some politicians.
The GSA is expected to make an official announcement soon, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated as news comes in.
In a letter to Building Design magazine, the Architects Registration Board in London, aka ARB, has requested that BD no longer refer to Renzo Piano and Daniel Libeskind as “architects.” Apparently, neither are registered as architects with the all-knowing ARB, therefore “they are not entitled to be described as such,” states the letter. BD Editor-in-Chief Amanda Baillieu immediately called out ARB’s high-handed mandate in an online editorial, writing, “there is no other word to describe ARB’s ban on calling Renzo Piano an architect except bonkers.” The registration board’s Alison Carr later apologized for the letter, “Do I think that this was a great example to bring to BD’s attention and help raise awareness? No I don’t. We should have been more cautious so that we get the right message across at the right time, and for that I apologise.”
Everybody seems to be opening up new offices these days. One of our favorite firms, Barton Myers Associates, is moving from Westwood all the way to Santa Barbara, which doesn’t sound promising. Cunningham Group has opened new digs in Culver City’s Hayden Tract, the collection of arts offices made famous by the wild constructs of Eric Owen Moss. And UCLA Architecture will remain in Westwood. But it’s ready to open a new robotics lab inside the old Playa Vista research facilities of Howard Hughes.
You can’t make a monument without breaking some eggs. Fabergé cosmetics heir Reed Rubin is protesting a decision by the board of Roosevelt Island’s Four Freedoms Park to not include a donor inscription on the Louis Kahn-designed FDR memorial. For a $2.5 million donation in honor of Rubin’s parents Vera D. and Samuel Rubin, founders of the cosmetics firm and the Reed Foundation, the foundation claims it was promised an inscription in a prominent spot (preferably near the bust of FDR on a slab facing Manhattan).
The board of the park, not wanting to compromise the monument’s design, proposed an inscription in another location in the park. Rubin and the foundation are fighting back, and had tried to postpone October’s dedication. The New York Daily News quoted a letter written by the park’s board chairman William vanden Heuvel to the foundation: “You may prevail in a courtroom. But it will be a Pyrrhic victory, dear friends, a scar not a medal on the list of your achievements.”
Dear readers, Eavesdrop had the opportunity to explore Louisville, KY—our hometown—and Cincinnati, OH (a.k.a. Porkopolis) over the weekend. It’s been six or seven years since our last trip to Cincy and we have a couple things to say about it. It’s kind of a real city, like dense and old, with just enough corporate headquarters looming over the skyline.
We finally got to see the HOK designed Great American Tower in real life and it’s just as bad in person as its renderings. You may remember that we thoroughly made fun of its fugly, Princess Di inspired, steel tiara—something about lipstick on a pig. Let’s update that to a more current comparison. That tiara is more Honey Boo Boo than Princess Di. Eavesdrop is not a fan of hats or tiaras on buildings—i.e. the Pappageorge Haymes-designed One Museum Park in Chicago with its sailor cap. The American Institute of Steel Construction disagrees, recently giving said tiara a design award.
Last month in this column, we conjured up a fake rivalry between Cincinnati, Cleveland, and East Lansing, MI, as they all have high profile projects opening this fall. Of all the blabber we’ve scattered across these pages, that piece stirred up the most voices. One fan wanted to know, “What about Indianapolis?” In our opinion, it’s a classic quantity versus quality situation. There’s a lot of development going on in Indianapolis right now, including City Way, along with a lot of forgettable architecture. There was the opening of the JW Marriott, with its nifty, curved blue glass curtain wall, design by HOK and CSO Architects. But does a convention hotel really stand up against starchitect designed museums and boutique art hotels? Not in this case.
It’s probably best to eat before you get to the to the new Barclays Center—a can of Red Bull and a bag of chips will set you back almost $12. But at a recent sneak peek of the arena guests were treated to complimentary hors d’oeuvres, an open bar, and an up-close look at the intricate and oddly sweet-smelling building model—wait, that’s no model, that’s a cake! The confection was a tour de force by Brooklyn-based BCakeNY, who carefully rendered the delicious-looking Core-ten exterior in chocolate and cinnamon, “Your cake looks better than the actual building!” wrote one of BCakeNY’s Facebook fans. Take note architects—a model of devil’s food rather than foam core might be just the thing for your next community board meeting.
It’s been (another) terrible year for Jeanne Gang! From being awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant to starring in the just opened solo exhibition, Building: Inside Studio Gang Architects, at the Art Institute, there appears to be no slowdown in Studio Gang momentum. Of course, Eavesdrop stopped by the opening and we have a few things to say. The first has little to do with Jeanne and more with the Art Institute. Their openings are always so snoozy! Get more of the students and younger folks in there, in addition to your stodgy museum patrons! We probably wouldn’t have stuck around long, accept a little bird told us that Mayor Rahm Emanuel would be making an appearance and we wanted to see how short he is in real life.
Zoë Ryan, the museum’s chair of the department of architecture and design, looked nervous awaiting Rahm’s arrival, while Jeanne looked quite at ease, milling about in a really cute dress. One of the hottest architects in the world is certainly in the same power echelon as the mayor of the Second City.